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JOBS bill held hostage for PATRIOT ACT

Last fall, with the House unwilling to agree to make permanent the most controversial of the expiring provisions of the PATRIOT ACT, a deal was struck to put a 2 month extension  into the Pentagon Budget. With this extension about to expire, and still no agreement from the House to extend the Bush era spying powers, another extension, for a year, has been quietly slipped into the Senate version of the popular Jobs bill unveiled last Thursday.

While the bundling was technically done by Senate Leadership, the Administration’s fingerprints are all over it. In debates last fall, the Justice Dept.and other Administration officials were insistent on getting the Bush powers held over intact.

Testimony before the Senate  Judiciary Committee revealed that the Secret Search power had, in the overwhelming number of cases, been used in drug, and not terrorism, investigations, with gambling coming in 2nd.

If the Senate passes this draft with the Patriot provisions left in, the House will be faced with either approving the Civil Liberties grab, or being blamed for blocking the needed jobs programs.

Fix the PATRIOT ACT and FISA Facebook Group

also available at kos’ place.  

Help Wanted: Massachusetts Attorney General

Seeking dedicated individual. Interest in Drug Policy reform and Constitutional Rights a must.

Applicant must LIKE meeting people, be willing to shake hands in front of Fenway Park.

Massachusetts Law License required, Criminal Defense experience preferred.

Good pay, great benefits

Applicant must defeat an incumbent in the Democratic Primary, shouldn’t be difficult, as she hates to campaign.

Application (Declaration of Candidacy) due by Feb. 4th, 2010. Employment commences Jan. 2011

My message to Massachusetts Marijuana smokers

We all know Coakley sucks. She crusaded against the Massachusetts decrim initiative in 2008, and after it passed with 65% of the vote urged municipal governments to circumvent it with local ordinances. She then refused to pursue charges against the District Attorneys who illegally used government resources to campaign against the initiative.

So why do I want you to vote for her?

Simple. Brown in the Senate will be just as bad on the issue, but by sending Coakley to Washinhgton we get her nasty ass out of the Attorney General’s office, while Brown remaining in the State Senate will have little impact.

NJ Legislature Passes Medical Marijuana

Now in 14 States.

The lame duck Assembly, in it’s final day passed by 48-14 a considerably weaker bill than had cleared the senate a year ago, and adjourned, leaving the Senate with a take it or leave it on the Assembly draft. The Senate took it, 25-13.

Removed, provisions allowing patients to grow their own. Left in, non-profit “compassion centers,” analogous to dispensaries. Gov Corzine says he’ll sign, before leaving office on Jan. 19th. Incoming Republican Gov. Christie has indicated he’d also sign, if it’s left to him.

Next up, Wisconsin, where we’re also hearing from legislators uncomfortable with the grow at home provision. While negotiations are still underway in relevant committees to iron out details, I’m still confident we’ll get SOME bill passed before the end of the session in April.  Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act

For New Jersey, I want to congratulate, in particular Jim Miller, whose  wife Cheryl, stricken with Multiple Sclerosis,  used to have him bring her, strapped in her rolling hospital bed, to lobby both in Trenton and the Capitol in DC.

When she passed away in 2003, he re-dedicated himself to completing her mission.

Home Page of the Cheryl Miller Memorial Project

Some GOOD NEWS from Congress! Drug Policy

(HT to Law Enforcement Against Prohibition’s Cops say Legalize blog)

The Conference Committee dealing with the 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act has approved three significant reforms, following the lead of the House version,

* Washington, DC will finally be allowed to implement the medical marijuana initiative that voters overwhelmingly approved in 1998 but has been blocked by Congress each year since then.

* Funding for the White House “drug czar’s” ad budget has been slashed by more than a third of its size last year. Studies have repeatedly shown that these ads actually cause teens to use more — not fewer — drugs.

* Washington, DC will be able to use federal funds to implement syringe exchange programs.

The advertising budget for the  National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign comes in at $45 million, $25 million below 2009 and the Obama Administration’s request. This follows steady drops since 2000, when the Clinton Drug Czar’s office had a full half billion to play with. in the Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton years, this money was selectively applied to reward networks and other media outlets which played ball with the respective Administrations on unrelated issues, as originally exposed in a series of articles by D. Dan Forbes at

I’m pretty sure the lions share of the credit here goes to House Appropriations Chair Dave Obey, who sat on the Conference Committee, and has been strong behind the scenes on drug policy reform since 2003.

Congressman Obey, tax phone bills to pay for the war.

House Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-WI) recently suggested putting the Afghan misadventure on a pay as you go basis, as this would make the public aware of the costs. He hinted, and others have more explicitly suggested, that this tax hit the wealthy. I differ.

While I’m all for a progressive tax structure in general, the Afghan War Tax Surcharge, to create maximum pressure to end this ‘dumb war,’ should be in the face of every American. An excise tax on telephone service (30%?) like President Johnson imposed to help pay for his big mistake in Asia, is especially useful, as the bill comes due every month. Label the line on the phone bills clearly AFGHANISTAN WAR TAX SURCHARGE, and we’ll see a monthly wave of irate calls to the White House and Congress demanding we get the fuck out.

Meanwhile, use any boost in income tax on the highrollers to pay for needed domestic programs.

(also at kos’ place)

Reporting from Int’l Conference on Drug Policy Reform

(Not quite live from the Albuquerque Convention Center, I’ll be updating through the weekend.)

Opening plenary

El Paso City Councilman Beno O’Rourke:

With a District bordering Ciudad Juarez which had been rocked with 1600 “cartel” murders in the previous year,  the City Council took up a resolution deploring the deaths.

He moved an amendment, calling for the US and Mexican governments to begin an open and honest debate on ending Prohibition to stop the violence. To his surprise, the amendment carried unanimously.

Congressman Reyes, who represents the El Paso, then  called all the City Council members, threatening to cut off funding to the City. In a subsequent vote, the Council retreated.

Obama came to town today. Free Speech took a hit.

President Obama was in my City this afternoon, for a speech on education at Wright Middle School.

Since the location had been announced too late for the normal permit process, the Madison Peace Action Coalition contacted the Police Department, and were told they’d be allowed to conduct a rally at a reasonable location a block away.

Come 10:45, the rules changed, and they were booted to a spot a few  blocks farther, all but out of line of sight. According to this Wisconsin State Journal account, pedestrians without signs were still allowed in th area from which the protest had been evicted. This makes clear it was a speech motivated ban, not strictly speaking a legitimate security matter.

In The Nation, Madisonian John Nichols suggests that Obama should have marked the anniversary of his election with a big noontime rally at the State Capitol, as well as the school speech, but at the Capitol, they wouldn’t have been able to protect him from seeing the “Out of Afghanistan” signs. Can’t have that, Presidents who run “dumb wars” have to live in a bubble. see UPDATE, partial retraction below

(The State Capitol Police these days have more respect for the 1st Amendment than their City of Madison counterparts. I won a suit v Tommy Thompson in 1987, establishing that, under the State Constitution’s Free Speech clause, anyone has a right to display any placard on the Capitol grounds at any time.)

June 14, 1978: FBI and anti-abortion terrorism

In one of the seminal acts of anti-abortion terrorism, the Emma Goldman Clinic for Women in Iowa City was firebombed.

The Carter Justice Dept. ordered the local FBI station to drop everything else and solve the crime, an order which did not sit well with the Resident Agent, himself an anti-abortion zealot.

He came up with a theory which would justify his continuing surveillance of the local lefties, suggesting that the bombing had either been a ploy for fundraising, or the result of a lovers’ spat, theories which he kept planting in the local press.

He proceeded to stalk my friend Steve Wilson (later changed his name to Jackson Clubb, who posted at kos as MadCityRag until his death a month ago) grilling his neighbors, etc. Jackson at the time was dating a member of the collective running the clinic.

The firebombing was never officially solved. No charges were filed against Jack, probably because the US Attorney wasn’t buying the FBI agent’s crap.

(Jack later moved to Madison, where we partnered in publishing Zenger, “the Nation’s Underground Newspaper,” from 1987 until 1993.)

Holder pushed 5 year sentences for marijuana possession (1996)

As US Attorney for DC in 1996, Reported Attorney General nominee Eric Holder responded to a battle for control of street dealing in weed by pushing the DC City Council to escalate penalties for possession, and for the DC Police to step up enforcement, endorsing New York Mayor Rudolf Giuliani’s arrest ’em all “quality of life” clampdown.

X-post at kos’ place

My RNC so far

It’s not so much free speech under attack, as Freedom of Assembly.

Working solo, I’ve been able to fly signs right up to the gates where the delegates are searched before entering Excel. Anything that appears to be a group over 5, however, gets excluded from the perimeter.

Easiest access is by taxi. The police stereotype of bad demonstrator has you entering on foot.

During Mondays brawl by the river, I was directly behind the National Guard line, posing with my “This is a test of the Emergency Free Speech System” sign. The only police interference with my activity was an admonishment to “wait for the walk sign.”

Tuesday, Vermin Supreme and I worked the line of delegates awaiting searches. Vermin had his everpresent bullhorn. “To assist in the process, please remove your shoes. Then drop your pants and spread your cheeks for the rectal probe. President McCain asks that you retain this position for the next four years.”

I was upstream, at first flashing a “STOP GOVRERNMENT SPYING” banner, then riffing with Vermin. “You folks look like you’re here for a funeral. Where’s the Republican Team Spirit?” Vermin would then try to lead them in a cheer. “When I say ‘John’, you say “McCain. Got it?” JOHN… silence. JOHN… silence.

Whenever a delegate grinned at our antics, I’d point him out. “That one smiled. He’s an infiltrator. Waterboard him.”

I had the exiting delegates to myself. “Funeral’s over, time to liquor up!”

Denver: ATT thanks Blue Dogs Sun. Night. Picket

The SF Chronicle reports on corporate lobbyists taking advantage of a loophole in rules preventing them from throwing lavish parties to “honor”House lawmakers, which exempts parties for groups of Members.

Prominent, a Sunday evening bash thrown by ATT for the “Blue Dogs” to thank them for the FISA amnesty.

Lobbyist parties for lawmakers bend rules

Congress, pledging to clean up Washington’s culture of corruption, approved a rule last year to end the practice of lobbyists or their clients throwing lavish events honoring lawmakers at the parties’ national conventions.

But the House ethics committee opened a huge loophole in the rule by issuing guidelines in December saying it was fine for lobbyists or their employers to throw parties for a group of House members – just not for a single lawmaker…

…AT&T is among the sponsors of a party celebrating the conservative House Blue Dog Democrats on Sunday night.

Perfect spot for the first appearance of my “STOP GOVERNMENT SPYING” banner.

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