Not too long ago then Speaker of House Dennis Hastert rightfully earned the scorn of many clear thinking people when he suggested that drug law reformer George Soros was funded by the drug cartels. Recent events in Mexico are demonstrating just how far from rational an American politician can go on the subject of drug policy. The Drug War Chronicleis reporting that members and candidates of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) are being subject to violent attacks. The SDP Party Chairman Jose Carlos Diaz Cuervo believes this is happening because the party’s platform strongly calls for the legalization of drugs. He asserts that, "doubtless, unlike the federal government, it appears the drug traffickers do understand that the regulation of that market would take the business away from them and would be a more intelligent way to combat them."
MORE ON THE UTTER MADNESS OF THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION
I wish that it were not so and I wish that I did not agree so strongly with
this negative assessment but I do, sadly. The so-called Palestinians are led by thugs and thieving dictators and the West acts as if none of this was true.
Obama’s choice of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court vacancy is already galvanizing social conservatives in opposition. Writing for Mother Jones Magazine David Corn looks at the political implications of the pick. He notes that one of the founders of the modern conservative movement, Richard Viguerie, is calling for a nationwide sustained effort to block the nomination. Corn quotes Viguerie as saying that, “this is an enormous opportunity for conservatives to define President Obama as a radical liberal in a way that Republicans have so far failed to do." However, if they do succeed in keeping Sotomayor off the Court it may be a pyrrhic victory because such a process is bound to alienate large numbers of Hispanic voters. The questions become how many ballot-needing Republican Senators are likely to join such a campaign and secondly is Obama such a brilliant politician that he is deliberately promoting dissension within Republican ranks?
President Obama has done the expected and named a Hispanic woman, Sonia Sotomayor, to be the newest member of the Supreme Court. By all accounts she is considered to be very competent and is well liked by those who come before her as well as those who work for her. When the first George Bush nominated her to be a federal judge seven current Republican senators voted for her. Nevertheless, Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network has strongly criticized the selection saying that, “Judge Sotomayor will allow her feelings and personal politics to stand in the way of basic fairness.” However, on the other hand, at her last confirmation hearing Sotomayor stated that, "I don't believe we should bend the Constitution under any circumstance. It says what it says. We should do honor to it." Only time will tell if Obama has made a wise choice.
The Defense Department has never been known for frugal spending of the taxpayer’s money. However, in this recent case extravagant behavior with regard to body armor could interfere with the safety of our troops. The Washington Times reports that “the U.S. Army's decision to move testing from private companies to in-house has increased costs by more than 500 percent and undermined research and development of life-saving equipment.” Asia Fernandez, president of one company who previously did the work is claiming that “the Army's decision jeopardizes her company's research and development unit, with dire potential consequences for the safety of U.S. troops.”
HISTORIC CONFRONTATION ON NATIONAL SECURITY POLICIES: OBAMA V CHENEY
This is important and complicated. I tend to side with Cheney now but admire Obama's arguments and style. The future of the country depends on who is correct.
It is important to admit that in times of stress the leaders of this country
have often committed acts that went beyond my understanding of the law. This
has happened hundreds of times. One of the most prominent was FDR's massive
and consistent violations of our laws to help Great Britain during the
early days of World War II, such as the famous destroyers for bases deal.
That was a grand hoax and FDR rightly feared impeachment.
One of the consequences of the drug war is that many people are unnecessarily suffering pain and that includes children. Each year 38,000 American children die from a terminal illness and Dr. Stefan Friedrichsdorf, director of the Pain and Palliative Care team at Children's Hospitals and Clinics, is asserting that most of them needlessly suffer from untreated pain. .Minnesota Public Radio quotes him as saying that, "we have data from children dying from cancer and non-malignant diseases that more than 80 percent of the children die in pain, more than 60 percent die of breathlessness, more than half of the children have nausea and vomiting. This is something which is easy to manage." Friedrichsdorf believes the primary reason that such a situation exists is that many doctors are afraid to ease suffering by using the necessary medications.
Everyone from President Obama to Pope Benedict XVI is now applying pressure on Israel to accept a two state solution, thereby achieving peace in the Middle East. However, this demand is being applied to the wrong party; it is the Palestinians who have stood in the way of such a remedy. This article, by Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, summarizes the reasons why a two-state solution is madness, a madness that has been repeated time and time again. He points out that, ”to this day, the charters of Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian factions, call for Israel's liquidation. ‘The whole world’ may want peace and a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want something very different. Until that changes, there is no two-state solution.”
This is being written a few miles from the White House, just as the meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu has concluded. The first press reports indicated that as expected Mr. Obama demanded that Jewish so-called settlement activity stop and that Israel support a so-called two-state solution. Such demands by the American leader have been consistent with other reports from the Obama government indicating that Israel was the stiff-necked obstacle to peace in the region and that America was going to whip this bad actor into submission. There were the usual demands that the Arabs behave also but the major blame was placed, in line with the standard views of the American left, on these stubborn, arrogant, apartheid-loving, violent Israelis.
Let me be clear at this point that I find many Israelis to be hard to love in part because they are often, shall we say, unpredictable and thorny folks. Also I find Mr. Obama and his entire family to be easy to love, which is one of the reasons I voted for him.
Moreover, I do not claim to understand much of what goes on in that bizarre region of the world. However, there are a few matters about which I feel confident to opine. The two-state solution was decided upon by a solemn vote of the United Nations in 1947. The Jews of Palestine – known for decades as the Palestinians – accepted the vote and agreed to take much less of the disputed land than they might well have deserved. The Arabs rejected it out of hand and when the new state of Israel was declared on May 15, 1948 – my twentieth birthday, by the way – five Arab armies from the neighboring countries invaded with the express purpose of killing all those hated Jewish infidels. The basic posture of Israel ’s Arab neighbors has changed only slightly since that time. So also the posture of most of the Arab and Muslim world. While there have been formal peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt , hate for Jews and Israel dominates the people of the region.
Miraculously and at great human cost the pitiful band of Jewish Palestinians somehow survived the onslaught of Arab armies and of their Arab Palestinian neighbors in 1948. Miraculously those stubborn Jewish Palestinians survived many successive assaults by their Arab Palestinian neighbors and by their Arab neighbors in other countries over the six decades that followed. The Jewish Palestinians have also performed other miracles in creating a powerful military force that has provided protection from these constant assaults. As a result, throughout the West leading liberal and leftist opinion leaders – as well as many millions of ordinary citizens – now view these armed Jewish Palestinians as the major cause of the unrest in the region and in much of the world.
Those views seem to be those of our new President Obama who just a few minutes ago has personally expressed them in perhaps politer form to the new Prime Minister of the Palestinian Jewish nation. In addition, President Obama has told our only true ally in that region -- and the only democracy there --that they must be nice to the Iranians and to their leader who has openly declared many, many times that he intends to destroy Israel, suggesting but not openly saying that he intends to use nuclear weapons in pursuit of that holy task, if and when Iran develops those weapons.
As a result of all of this I find myself in a state of utter despair because unless a miracle occurs that causes a major change in American strategy, I believe that Israel is doomed – and much of the West is in mortal danger. There is a practical limit to the number of miracles that can happen to save Israel . I fear that we have run out of them. I pray that I am wrong about all of this.
The last time, in 2005, the Supreme Court visited the issue of medical marijuana we got the disastrous and unconstitutional Gonzales v. Raich ruling giving federal law the upper hand when it came to the use of marijuana as medicine. In his dissent Justice Thomas wrote that, ”Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything–and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.”
Since then the attitude of both the executive and legislative branches of government seem to be changing and perhaps the judicial branch is going to follow suit.The Atlanticis reporting that “the Supreme Court has refused to hear challenges to California's medical marijuana law, brought by San Diego and San Bernardino counties.” This decision is significant because the counties argument that federal law trumped state law will not become more entrenched therefore further hindering medical marijuana efforts in other states.
It could well be argued that it is impossible to be anti-marijuana without being de-facto pro-alcohol. When marijuana became illegal not too long ago, pot using jazz musicians wrote songs about the circumstances that invariably mentioned a reluctant switch to booze. Now a Denver based organization Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, headed by Mason Tvert, is making the case that “stiff punishments for being caught in a campus dorm with the drug steer students to booze and add to binge drinking, drunken brawls and other booze-soaked troubles”
The organization is pushing a non-binding resolution, the Emerald Initiative which calls for the equalization of penalties for students caught with marijuana and those violating alcohol policies. So far the measure has passed at thirteen colleges including Ohio State University, the University of Central Florida, the University of Texas at Austin and Purdue University. It has won every time it has been put to a vote, which suggests that many college students are much smarter than their elders in government.
You would think that after 9-11 an FBI agent fluent in Arabic with an outstanding record in previous anti-terrorist operations would be a hot commodity. However, in the case of Bassem Youssef just the opposite happened, he was assigned to an unrelated desk job and experienced hostility from his co-workers. Youssef has since filed a discrimination suit against the Bureau. Mother Jones Magazinetells his story, which raises the question is the institutional culture at the FBI an impediment to keeping Americans safe from terrorism? The article asserts that, “Youssef knows there's little chance of resurrecting his career. He stays on at the bureau in the hope of changing the culture by example—though that may be unlikely under Mueller, whom Obama has retained as director. The counterterrorism division, he says, is no better prepared today than it was before 9/11, and might even be worse off.”
When President Obama first appointed former Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske as the nation’s new Drug Czar the words "cautiously optimistic" swept through the drug law reform community. This optimism has been fueled by a promised halt to federal raids on medical marijuana clinics in states where it is legal and efforts to deal with the racial injustice resulting from sentencing disparities between crack and powered cocaine offenses. In addition, Kerlikowske has done little to dampen the enthusiasm with his recent first press conference. The Wall Street Journalis reporting that the new drug chief asserting that the war analogy is counter productive said “the Obama administration is likely to deal with drugs as a matter of public health rather than criminal justice alone, with treatment's role growing relative to incarceration.”
This is very significant because until now the changes brought by Obama have dealt with single issues in a limited way, while Kerlikowske’s remarks signal a positive transformation in the underlying philosophy which drives drug policy. Of course, there will be many opposed to any such progress. Politicians who love war such as Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, the only Senator to vote against the Drug Czar’s confirmation, and officials, dedicated to protecting prestige and budgets, such as James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, will fight any reforms with the utmost vigor. Still, optimism rules this day at least.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS?
Christians living in fear on the West Bank have begun speaking out about the persecution they have been receiving from their Muslim neighbors. The Jerusalem Post quotes Samir Qumsiyeh, owner of the Beit Sahur-based private Al-Mahd (Nativity) TV station as saying that, "the situation is very dangerous, I believe that 15 years from now there will be no Christians left in Bethlehem. Then you will need a torch to find a Christian here. This is a very sad situation." The same thing is also happening in Gaza. The paper reports that “since the Hamas coup of July 2007, this position has become increasingly untenable. Islamist organizations, empowered by the indifference of the authorities, have begun to target Christian institutions and individuals in Gaza with increasing impunity. Intimidation, assault and the threat of kidnapping are now part of daily reality for Christians.”
It would seem obvious as to who is responsible for this deplorable situation but not to Time Magazine’s Andrew Lee Butters who manages to lay the blame for Muslim actions squarely on Israel asserting that, “the creation of Israel has been a disaster for Christians in the Middle East.” In its point by point refutation of the Time article HonestReporting observes that, “according to Butters, therefore, the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t ultimately responsible for ‘small-scale terror’ against the Christians it carries out. It’s really Israel’s presence in the Palestinian territories that is behind it all.” The persecution of Christians by Islamic extremists is a worldwide problem. A Muslim who converts to Christianity is subject to the death penalty, is that Israel’s fault? Sadly here is yet another Western journalist who can not acknowledge any flaws in or lay any blame on Muslim religion.
In 2000-2001 the Israelis offered the Palestinians a state comprised of all of Gaza and 95% of the West Bank with a capital in Jerusalem and $35 billion to compensate refugees. Their proposal was rejected. The establishment of a Palestinian state is a very complicated matter; on the other hand a nuclear armed Iran is clearly an existential and immediate threat to Israel. Therefore in an article for the New York Post Alan Dershowitz argues the two issues should not be linked. He writes that, “Rahm Emanuel is a good man and a good friend of Israel, but in a highly publicized recent statement he linked American efforts to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons to Israeli efforts toward establishing a Palestinian state. This is dangerous.”
And this one is just as pessimistic as many others. The message of many commentators is that the new Palestinian state will be run by Hamas, with the help of Iran, and will pose an existential threat to Israel. The next question may well be: where will the few survivors of the next Holocaust be allowed to emigrate and live in peace? Or is this just so much fear mongering?
Many supporters of Israel viewed the election of Barak Obama with caution and even some anxiety. Recent reported remarks by him, Vice-President Joe Biden, and National Security Adviser General James Jones have considerably raised the level of concern. Indeed, the always astute Melanie Phillips believes that this is the beginning of a process that will “throw Israel under the bus.” She point out that “Jones is quoted in the telegram as saying that the United States, European Union and moderate Arab states must redefine ‘a satisfactory endgame solution.’ The U.S. national security adviser did not mention Israel as party to these consultations.”
Those who consistently take a strong anti-Israeli stance also see a change in the winds. Justin Raimondo, a very harsh critic of both Israel and the President’s interaction with them up until now, citing some of the same evidence as Phillips, asks in the title of his article“Is Obama Taking on the Israeli Lobby?”
POLLS SHOW GREATLY INCREASED SUPPORT FOR MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION
In the 1920s, the decade after alcohol prohibition passed, dissatisfaction with the policy grew at a tremendous rate. As the violence became widespread the ranks of politically wet groups swelled while membership in dry groups declined substantially. Yet it was not until the economic collapse of the Great Depression that repeal of Prohibition became a concrete possibility. In his book Repealing National Prohibition historian David Kyvig writes that the ”growing malaise of the Great Depression introduced new political and social as well as economic circumstances, greatly accelerating the revolt against prohibition and causing the prospect of repeal to be taken seriously for the first time.”
Perhaps in a way history is repeating itself, as new polls show an increased support for the legalization of marijuana. An essay in The Christian Science Monitor reports that a poll conducted last week by Zogby International shows a nationwide majority support for legal pot, 52%, for the first time ever. This is up from an ABC News/Washington Post survey conducted last month which revealed 46% in favor of marijuana decriminalization. In addition, a recent poll of California voters had 56% of the respondents favoring taxation and regulation of legal cannabis. The article asserts that NORML deputy director Paul Armentano ”traces the changing stance to three developments: the economic downturn, which is forcing people to consider new sources of revenue; the violent Mexican drug war, which he says many Americans see as the result of prohibition of the drug trade and not directly linked to personal usage; and lastly, more experience with the drug.”
CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR ON BOARD FOR MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION DEBATE
In 2002 the 1977 documentary Pumping Iron was re-released with a scene showing Governor Arnold Schwarzengger smoking marijuana. However, unlike most politicians he does not seek to repudiate his past by taking a hard line against present day users. In fact, the San Francisco Chronicle is quoting him as saying with regard to marijuana legalization that "I think it's time for debate. I think all of those ideas of creating extra revenues - I'm always for an open debate on it." The article also mentions that ”for the first time a majority of California voters back legal marijuana. Also, a San Francisco legislator has proposed regulating and taxing marijuana to bring the state as much as $1.3 billion a year in extra revenue.”
Many people consider HBO’s The Wire to be the finest television program ever made. Stellar acting and production values combine with an extremely interesting plot line, which has something important to say, to make it impossible to turn away from this show. The plot primarily follows the lives of Baltimore drug dealers and the police trying to catch them. The over arching theme of the series is the futility and destructiveness of the law enforcement effort. This important message comes from executive producer David Simon who sat down for a fascinating video interview with Bill Moyers. Simon’s analysis of drug prohibition’s utter failure comes from first hand experience; he spent twelve years as a crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun.
For some time the historical consensus has been that Franklin Roosevelt did very little to help the European Jews in the years preceding the Holocaust. A new book Refugees and Rescue: The Diaries and Papers of James G. McDonald (1935-1945), edited by Richard Breitman, Barbra McDonald Stewart, and Severin Hochberg, is challenging that viewpoint. A USA Todaypiece on the book quotes American University History Professor Richard Breitman as saying that Roosevelt was "a master politician who tried to carry out some humanitarian steps while juggling political and military considerations."
Citing new sources the authors point to a cut in red tape, a plan to resettle large number of Jews in South America, an appeal to other Democracies to share the burden, and a promise to ask Congress for a $150 million to go towards re-location as evidence of FDR’s sympathetic actions. Deborah Lipstadt, a Holocaust studies professor at Emory University asserts that "This is consensus-changing. He may deserve a lot more credit than he is getting.”
However, not everyone is convinced that this new information should change the original historical interpretation. A New York Times article devoted to the tome mentions that David Wyman and Rafael Medoff of the Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Washington argue that the President never asked for the $150 million and that, “Roosevelt may have talked about some pie-in-the-sky plans, but when it came to taking substantive action, he did nothing. For instance, they said, he opposed the 1939 Wagner-Rogers bill that would have permitted the United States to take in 20,000 Jewish children from Germany in addition to the existing German-Austrian quota of 27,370.”
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE DENYING ITS OWN VITAL INFORMATION
If you are in the military working on a Department of Defense computer there is a vast quantity of information that you have no access to. William S. Lind, writing about this little known problem, points out that there is a great deal of important information “available open-source: Web sites by and about our opponents, works by civilian academics, material from think-tanks, reports from businessmen who travel in areas we are interested in – the pile is almost bottomless. Every American soldier with access to a computer can find almost anything he needs. Much of it is both more accurate and more useful than what filters down through the military intelligence chain.”
However, the DOD blocks much of this vital intelligence for parochial or political reasons. Lind concludes his article by stating that, “Rigid control of information through a compartmented, stove piped process is characteristic of the Second Generation. Once again we see why Second Generation militaries cannot win Fourth Generation wars. Our defeats are less a product of what our enemy does to us than of what we do to ourselves.”
Back in the 1980s mandatory minimum sentencing, three strikes laws, and no parole provisions were all the rage for law makers who desired to be thought of as tough on crime. This has resulted in an American with a record high number of individuals imprisoned, over 2,000,000 people. Today’s law makers face rapidly dwindling resources combined with a rapidly aging prison population which contributes to serious overcrowding and rising health care costs. Writing in Mother Jones Magazine James Ridgeway points out the findings of the authors of Growing Older: Challenges of Prison and Reentry for the Aging Population, Brie Williams and Rita Abraldes. They discovered that, “the cost for each geriatric inmate came to $70,000 a year. In addition to the chronic diseases that increase with age, these offenders have problems such as paraplegia because of gunshot wounds, and advanced liver disease, renal disease, hepatitis and HIV from drug and alcohol abuse. Living under prison conditions, they are more likely to get pneumonia and flu.” In addition many older inmates suffer from acute depression and other mental illnesses.
Addressing California’s filled to capacity system George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley asserts that the state must make risk based decisions that will involve releasing some prisoners. He argues that, “among the various factors, the most reliable is age. As a general rule, people become less dangerous as they age. In males, the greatest drop in recidivism occurs around age 30 and tends to continue to fall. In addition to their lower risk, older prisoners impose much higher costs on the system. Because of maintenance and medical costs, the average cost of an older prisoner is two to three times that of a younger prisoner.”
DOES THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY REALLY WANT TO GOVERN?
Traditionally disaffected ethnic and religious groups have all had a common goal, the establishment of their own state. However, because of modern day technological advances, both civilian and military, statelessness may become in many cases the preferred situation. In an exceptional and important essay Johns Hopkins University Professor Jakub Grygiel discusses the advantages of statelessness. He argues that some groups “are considerably more capable of achieving their objectives and maintaining their social cohesion without a state apparatus. The state is a burden for them, while statelessness is not only very feasible but also a source of enormous power. Modern technologies allow these groups to organize themselves, seek financing, and plan and implement actions against their targets — almost always other states — without ever establishing a state of their own. They seek power without the responsibility of governing. The result is the opposite of what we came to know over the past two or three centuries: Instead of groups seeking statehood through a variety of means, they now pursue a range of objectives while actively avoiding statehood. Statelessness is no longer eschewed as a source of weakness but embraced as an asset.”
In an article for The Atlantic Monthly Robert Kaplan takes Grygiel’s ideas and applies them to the Palestinian circumstances. He points out that in 2000 the rejection by Yasser Arafat of the considerable concessions offered by the Israelis indicates a strong reluctance to take responsibility for governing. Kaplan concludes that as far as their own state goes, the Palestinians “may not really want one. Statehood would mean openly compromising with Israel, and, because of the dictates of geography, living in an intimate political and economic relationship with it. Better the glory of victimhood, combined with the power of radical abstractions! As a stateless people, Palestinians can lob rockets into Israel, but not be wholly blamed in the eyes of the international community. Statehood would, perforce, put an end to such license.” Certainly, history shows that when Hamas got control of Gaza they did very little with regard to establishing a viable nation-state in the territory they control.
The suffering of military personal often continues long after the fighting has stopped; take for example Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange. With bad publicity and millions of dollars in medical benefits at stake, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs have strong incentives to deny there is a problem. It took almost two decades for authorities to acknowledge the reality of Gulf War Syndrome leaving those stricken by serious illness without the aid they deserved for years.
A similar situation is now being created in Iraq and Afghanistan. However Kelley B. Vlahos writes in a piece documenting present day problems that, “today the military may find that injured veterans are one step ahead of the usual obfuscations. Horror stories and photos shared online about the massive open burning of medical waste, chemicals, plastics, and hardware on various military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan, witnessed by tens of thousands of service members and contractors, have gone viral in recent months. These stories threaten to blow wide open the unchecked exposure of potentially thousands of people to dangerous levels of contaminants, like benzene, arsenic, Freon, cyanide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, ethylbenzene, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfuric acid, and xylene.”
Every once in awhile the Supreme Court forgets about the drug exception to the Constitution and in a case involving illegal substances rules in favor of protecting individual rights. Such an instance has occurred with the decision in Arizona v. Gant. After Mr. Gant was arrested for driving on a suspended license and locked up in the patrol car the police searched his vehicle and found a small amount of cocaine. However the Court ruled that the evidence was obtained with an illegal search. And, Scott Morgan of Flex Your Rightsreports that now “vehicle searches following an arrest are legal only if the suspect has access to the vehicle or if officers reasonably believe the vehicle contains evidence related to that arrest. In other words, police are now required to have an actual reason to justify the vehicle search, instead of being allowed to do it automatically. This decision restores some much needed logic and common sense to the way many warrantless vehicle searches are analyzed under the 4th Amendment.”
The government does not like Siobhan Reynolds who is head of The Pain Relief Network an advocacy group fighting against the state persecution of pain patients and their doctors. The immediate cause of animosity is Reynolds defense of Kansas Dr. Stephen Schneider and his wife, Nurse Linda Schneider, who have been accused of operating a pain clinic responsible for 56 overdose deaths. The network has been organizing patients in support of the defendants and generating publicity about the case.
The Schneider’s federal prosecutors tried to impose a gag order on Reynolds’s group but the judge denied the motion. Now the Drug War Chroniclereports that she “has been targeted for a grand jury investigation of obstruction of justice for her role in supporting a Kansas physician and his wife in their legal battle against federal prosecutors.” In her subpoena Assistant US Attorney Tanya Treadway “demands that Reynolds turn over all correspondence with attorneys, patients, Schneider family members, doctors, and others related to the Schneider case. She also demands that Reynolds turn over bank and credit card statements showing payments to or from clinic employees, patients, potential witnesses and others.” Reynolds has stated that she has no intention of complying with the order and has filed a motion seeking to have the subpoena thrown out.
Gore Vidal has said that, “America is a quarter of a billion people totally misinformed and disinformed by their government. This is tragic but our media is -- I wouldn't even say corrupt -- it's just beyond telling us anything that the government doesn't want us to know.” Given the large amount of truth in that statement, this pernicious governmental attempt to silence an advocacy group should be all the more frightening to us.
Those who argue decriminalizing drugs would be a disaster have to ignore the real life example of Portugal, which shows their assertions to be false. In 2001 that country’s government passed a law making all drug offenses involving personal use exclusively administrative violations. A new CATO study by constitutional lawyer and Salon.com columnist Glenn Greenwald shows the policy has been a notable success. Greenwald points out that there is a broad Portuguese political consensus in favor of decriminalization and that it “is unsurprising in light of the relevant empirical data. Those data indicate that decriminalization has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal, which, in numerous categories, are now among the lowest in the EU, particularly when compared with states with stringent criminalization regimes. Although post decriminalization usage rates have remained roughly the same or even decreased slightly when compared with other EU states, drug-related pathologies — such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage — have decreased dramatically. Drug policy experts attribute those positive trends to the enhanced ability of the Portuguese government to offer treatment programs to its citizens — enhancements made possible, for numerous reasons, by decriminalization.” You can read the full study here.
It is as though there is a contest where participants try to come in first by proving they are the most cruel and barbarous people in the world and the Taliban is winning. Their latest action is the killing by firing squad of a 19 year old girl and a 21 year old boy for the crime of being in love and trying to elope. The most disturbing part is that the time from capture to execution was only four days.
The recent successful rescue from the Somalia pirates has created a flood of positive comments on the macho aspect of Obama’s foreign policy. Those come after a previous flood of negative comments suggesting a wimp and appeasement factor. For an example of one of the previous comments it is worth looking at one of Caroline Glick’s latest columns. She writes about her apprehensions in The Jerusalem Post and she points out that, “the pro-Obama US and European media are so pleased with America's abdication of power that they took the rare step of applauding Obama at his press conference in London. Indeed, the media's enthusiasm for Obama appeared to grow with each presidential statement of contrition for America's past uses of force, each savage attack he leveled against his predecessor George W. Bush, each swipe he took at Israel, and each statement of gratitude for the blessings of Islam he uttered.”
There are differences between anti-Semitism and anti- Zionism. The former rejects the idea that Jews are equal members of the human race and this idea is considered by most people to be the more pernicious. However, UCLA professor and president of the Daniel Pearl foundation, Judea Pearl, argues in his essay that anti-Zionism, which rejects the notion that Jews are a nation, is the more dangerous thought. After presenting strong evidence that Jews are indeed a nation he asserts that, “anti-Zionism targets the most vulnerable part of the Jewish people, namely, the Jewish population of Israel, whose physical safety and personal dignity depend crucially on maintaining Israel's sovereignty. Put bluntly, the anti-Zionist plan to do away with Israel condemns five and a half million human beings, mostly refugees or children of refugees, to eternal defenselessness in a region where genocidal designs are not uncommon.”
Currently there is an extensive media campaign to use the recent conflict in Gaza for the purpose of applying the label of war criminals to all the members of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). However, the men and women who serve in Israel’s military are fighting back with a grassroots website, Soldiers Speak Out, which allows individual members of the IDF to share their experiences. The site’s front-page points out the simple fact that; “The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) has over 700,000 citizen soldiers and reservists who are expected to live up to the IDFs ethical standards. In any army, some soldiers violate the rules of combat. In the IDF, all alleged violations are investigated, and offenders are punished.”
Negotiations that turned over control of Pakistan’s Swat Valley to the Taliban are now being questioned after the circulation of a disturbing video showing a seventeen year old girl being flogged more than thirty times. ABC Newsis reporting that,” her crime, according to the Taliban and local residents, was hosting a man in her house and supposedly having a physical relationship with him. No evidence of such a relationship was ever given, but the rumor of such a relationship, according to the local Taliban spokesman, was actually enough to be stoned to death. The punishment in this case, he told a local TV channel, was ‘lenient.’”
Ever since the infamous Duke Lacrosse team rape case that university has been a flash point when it comes to race relations. It must be remembered that 88 Duke faulty members signed a statement using the case to assert that racism at the university was endemic. Eventually, those players accused were found to be completely innocent and in fact they were the victims of a prosecutor courting the black vote for the next election.
In March Duke held an academic conference titled Still Two Nations? The Resilience of the Color Line and The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy sent Jane Shaw to observe the event. She found that most of the participants at the conference believed that racism in America has continued to thrive and even grow. Indeed, Duke Professor of Public Policy William Darity argued that the election of Barak Obama would actually retard social justice for Blacks. Shaw maintains that “the overall message of the conference was grim and distasteful. Mostly it was about how to build political power on the shoulders of race. I was bothered by the fact that participants spoke freely about negative stereotypes, including the low role of blacks in the ‘racial hierarchy.’ If that is part of today’s scholarship, maybe we need less scholarship.”
There is no question that recently the amount of anti-Israeli intimidation and propaganda, much of it tinged with anti-Semitism, on American campuses has risen dramatically. Edward S. Beck of Walden University and President-Emeritus Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) argues that only faculty can prevent this increase in hate speech. He maintains that, “while more and more faculty have been increasingly vocal about issues of academic anti-Israelism expressed in academic publications and calls for boycotts of and divestment from Israel academics and academic institutions, many have been silent on their campuses when it comes to student activities when these events take place, thinking student organization can and will do something.” Beck urges faculty members to fight back against this and provides a guide for those willing to do so.
DESPITE HOLDER’S PROMISE ANOTHER MEDICAL MARIJUANA RAID IN CALIFORNIA
Only a couple of weeks ago Eric Holder the nation’s Attorney General stated that President Obama would keep his campaign promise and there would be no more federal raids on the medical marijuana dispensaries in California. Only a few days ago the DEA raided the Emmalyn’s California Cannabis Clinic in San Francisco. It makes us all wonder what Holder and Obama meant when they said no more raids. We assumed that no means no. Anthony Gregory has a suggestion as to how the state of California should respond to this event. After pointing out that the DEA pretext of state sales tax violation did not originate with a complaint by the state, he argues that, “short of exempting medical marijuana from sales tax altogether, how can future outrages be prevented? California should go on the offensive. It should legalize marijuana, leave its regulation to the market, and, for now, treat it like any other retail good in terms of tax law. It could do so under the guise of medical marijuana, to protect users and distributors from federal sanction, assuming Obama keeps his promise to the letter. California could make medical marijuana completely legal – like aspirin or cough syrup – and allow retailers of all types to sell it without license or prescription.”
For Gregory the question involves much more than mere access to medical marijuana. His thesis is that drug prohibition is a fundamental attack on American civilization, which is supposed to include values such as truthfulness. He discusses this idea with Scott Horton in a very informative radio interview found here.
There is more sympathy for Hamas on some American campuses than in Ramallah. Indeed, journalist Khaled Abu Toameh found this to be true when he recently visited some American schools of higher learning. In addition he states that “I never imagined that I would need police protection while speaking at a university in the U.S. I have been on many Palestinian campuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and I cannot recall one case where I felt intimidated or where someone shouted abuse at me.”
The latest project of those who disseminate anti-Israeli propaganda is to convince the world that Israeli Defense Forces committed systematic war crimes during the recent conflict in Gaza. Sadly they are having some success with even Ha’aretz joining the chorus of those making such charges. However, the website HonestReporting makes a strong case that the publicity surrounding these war crimes charges is simply the product of shoddy journalism.
It links to Melanie Phillips who points out that, ”there are precisely two charges of gratuitous killing of Palestinian civilians under allegedly explicit orders to do so. One is what even Ha’aretz made clear was an accidental killing, when two women misunderstood the evacuation route the Israeli soldiers had given them and walked into a sniper’s gunsights as a result. Moreover, the soldier who said this has subsequently admitted he didn’t see this incident – he wasn’t even in Gaza at the time – and had merely reported rumour and hearsay.”
HonestReporting also notes that writing in The Jerusalem PostHerb Keinon argues that ”it is important to note that none of the testimony was about what the soldiers did themselves, but rather of what they heard or saw other soldiers do. It is also important that what was reported seems to fall within the realm of aberrations by individuals during war against a cruel enemy hiding behind civilians, not a systematic loss by the army of its moral compass.”
Not all Palestinians are relentless enemies of Israel and in fact many of them played an important positive role in creation of the Jewish state. Daniel Pipes is calling attention to an important new book, Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917–1948 by Hillel Cohen of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which documents this fact. Pipes informs us that, ”Cohen demonstrates the many roles that accommodating Palestinians played for the Yishuv, the pre-state Jewish community in the Holy Land. They provided labor, engaged in commerce, sold land, sold arms, handed over state assets, provided intelligence about enemy forces, spread rumors and dissension, convinced fellow Palestinians to surrender, fought the Yishuv's enemies, and even operated behind enemy lines. So great was their cumulative assistance, one wonders if the State of Israel could have come into existence without their contribution.”
Edward Glick, a professor emeritus of political science at Temple University, argues that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and “the world's other Jew-haters spend nearly all their time hiding their politically incorrect anti-Semitism behind politically correct anti-Israelism.” Since these people see the state of Israel as the source of all the Middle East’s problems he asks the question what if they got their wish and Israel ceased to exist? Glick goes on to point out that a myriad of difficulties such as impoverished people, endemic corruption, brutal dictators, the Sunni/Shia schism, and the radical desire to impose Islamic law upon the entire world would still be in place. He adds that, ”Hamas, Hezbollah and the other Arab leaders would have to find a new scapegoat toward which to deflect the anger and despair of their people.”
One of the earliest and most couraegeous people to fight against the brutal segregation in the 1950s South was T.R.M. Howard, unfortunately he is now largely forgotten. David Beito and Linda Royster Beito hope to correct this oversight with their outstanding biography Black Maverick: T. R. M. Howard's Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power. Howard, at much risk to himself, became very involved in the Emmett Till murder case. While Till’s killers were not brought to justice at the time the incident brought much needed awareness and attention to the plight of Blacks living in Mississippi and the other southern states. Many historians consider the reaction to Till’s death the beginning of the modern civil rights movement. Damon W. Root’s very positive review of the book for Reason can be found here.
In a situation that is all too common Grand Valley State University unarmed student Derek Copp investigated a noise at the back door of his apartment and was shot though the chest by police executing a drug war search warrant. They found no cash, guns, or hard drugs, only a miniscule amount of marijuana. Normally this would not be a big story; however, students all over Michigan at the behest of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) are making it important news by strenuously protesting this violent injustice. Fortunately Derek Copp survived his encounter with the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs but the next person, and as long as drug prohibition continues there will be a next person, may not be so lucky.
The recent fighting in Gaza had the effect of raising expressions of anti-Semitism, both by verbal means and through concrete actions, to a post World War II high. A report by Manfred Gerstenfeld and Tamas Berzi published in Institute for Global Jewish Affairs Post- Holocaust and Anti-Semitism No. 79, 1 April 2009, extensively documents this phenomenon citing both numerous governmental and private examples. The authors argue that this is not solely the concern of Jews when they assert that, “actions by various independent Muslim bodies in several Western countries manifested their desire to conquer the public square and, at the same time, remove Jewish and Israeli identities from it. This development is relevant not only to Jews but also to the general public. Those who want to impose themselves in the public domain today at the expense of Jews are likely to do so tomorrow at the expense of others.”
ONE OF CARTER’S PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENTS THE WORLD’S WORST DICTATOR
Last Sunday when Parade Magazine named Robert Mugabe as the world’s worst dictator not many analysts would have had a strong disagreement with that choice. Besides the violence and intimidation, including numerous rapes, this megalomaniac has used to hold on to power, there is an economic situation in which “inflation in Zimbabwe is so bad that in January the government released a $50 billion note — enough to buy two loaves of bread.” The employment rate reached 85% in 2008.
The magazine rated the top 20 strong men and each one had a section labeled U.S. link. However, as the NewsBusters website points out this section for the Mugabe entry fails to acknowledge the strong support from the Jimmy Carter Administration enjoyed by the world’s worst dictator when he first came to power. Carter considered it a major foreign policy success when his administration helped to negotiate a settlement that paved the way for Mugabe’s ascension to power. In August 1980, former Ambassador to the UN Andrew Young wrote in The Washington Post that, “the president's best investment of the past four years has just begun to pay off. The visit of Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Robert Mugabe sparked an enthusiasm in black America that may well rekindle the fires that Jimmy Carter so desperately needs for reelection.” Young added that, “Zimbabwe may have given the American people the vote of confidence needed to get out of the present paralyzing cynicism and to begin building at home and abroad the dream of free men and women, of a world of peace and prosperity.”
Attorney General Eric Holder has made clear what President Obama’s new policy regarding medical marijuana is in states that have legalized it. He stated that, "the policy is to go after those people who violate both federal and state law.” He added that "given the limited resources that we have, our focus will be on people, organizations that are growing, cultivating substantial amounts of marijuana and doing so in a way that's inconsistent with federal and state law." This is a significant and positive change, however, some advocates of reform are asking what about those already convicted of or facing federal charges?
So far, sending mixed messages would be a very apt description of the Obama Administration’s approach to drug policy. In the week after taking office there were federal raids on medical marijuana clinics but subsequently the Attorney General announced that there would be a change in that aspect of the federal/state relationship. Next the administration named the most forward thinking and humane person to hold the job of Drug Czar in the history of that office; however, the administration made the appointment a non-cabinet position and stated that veteran dedicated drug warrior Vice-President Joe Biden would have a significant role in forming policy. Also, that while some military leaders are expressing a desire to intervene in support of Mexican drug prohibition the administration itself seems to be very reluctant.
In the latest signal though, the Obama Administration has opposed the idea of harm reduction at the UN. At a meeting in Austria to determine the direction of UN drug policy for the next decade, the concept of mitigating the effects of drug use was not included in the final statement and 26 countries, including some of our closest allies, tried to change this despite strong opposition from the U.S. delegation. Eyewitness SSDP Executive Director Kris Krane reports that, “over 100 countries chose not to speak in support or opposition to harm reduction, yet the United States willingly chose to align itself with countries that are responsible for some the worst human rights abuses perpetrated in the name of the War on Drugs, rather than staying silent or aligning with America’s traditional allies. The Obama administration has promised to rebuild America’s traditional alliances, yet they willfully set this process back in order to continue the disastrous global war on drugs and drug users. Clearly, this behavior will not change unless President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton hear a loud message from citizens that global drug policy must be based in science, reason, evidence, and human rights, rather than worn-out ideology and Drug War orthodoxy.”
Indeed, Obama does need to make a decision, will his drug policy be based on the same old inhumane, immoral, violent, costly, and failed concepts or will he instigate meaningful change that will benefit both his place in history and the lives of the American people. Before he makes such a choice he would do well to heed Anthony Gregory’s latest comprehensive and well argued talk on the subject. To make clear the stakes involved Gregory quotes Ludwig von Mises as asserting that, “opium and morphine are certainly dangerous, habit-forming drugs. But once the principle is admitted that it is the duty of government to protect the individual against his own foolishness, no serious objections can be advanced against further encroachments. A good case could be made out in favor of the prohibition of alcohol and nicotine. And why limit the government's benevolent providence to the protection of the individual's body only? Is not the harm a man can inflict on his mind and soul even more disastrous than any bodily evils? Why not prevent him from reading bad books and seeing bad plays, from looking at bad paintings and statues and from hearing bad music? The mischief done by bad ideologies, surely, is much more pernicious, both for the individual and for the whole society, than that done by narcotic drugs.”
Some of Barak Obama’s opponents on the political far right are arguing that the new president’s real agenda is the imposition of totalitarianism. We would do well to monitor his drug policy choices as a gauge to the accuracy of his adversary’s claims.
It is an axiom among politicians that being tough on drugs is a necessity. No one has ever adhered to this idea more than Mexican President Felipe Calderón and he has over six thousand dead bodies to show for it. Shortly after taking office he committed fifty thousand troops to fighting the drug cartels and an orgy violence ensued. Traditional thinking would have the electorate approving these actions; however, USA Todayis reporting that Calderón’s move may cost his party dearly in the upcoming election. In fact, “a poll by El Universal newspaper last month showed the PRI leading Calderón's party by 15 percentage points in the congressional races. Other polls by the Mitofsky and Demotecnia consulting companies showed the PRI ahead by 9 and 6 points, respectively.” With any luck American politicians will take note that supporting overly harsh drug policies can have a heavy political price.
It appears that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has a habit of confusing the United States Army with the Drug Enforcement Agency. First an American General in Afghanistan under his supervision announces that henceforth American personal will shoot on sight anyone connected with the opium trade, thereby vastly increasing support for the Taliban, and now Gates wants to move U.S. troops into Mexico to enforce drug prohibition there. On the television program Meet the Press he stated that, "I think we are beginning to be in a position to help the Mexicans more than we have in the past. Some of the old biases against cooperation between our militaries and so on, I think, are being set aside."
However, in an article for the McClatchy website Marisa Taylor and Nancy A. Youssef present evidence that the Mexican Army, Laredo police, numerous federal agencies, and the Obama Administration in general all have little enthusiasm for Gate’s vision. Also, moving this project forward is not made easier when “during a trip designed to expand U.S. Mexican-military relations, Adm. Michael Mullen, the highest-ranking U.S. military officer, visited the graves of American troops who died during the Mexican-American war just as Gates did during his first visit in August.”
In 1916, the last time the United States Army entered Mexico, it went to fight opponents of the Mexican government who were involved with drugs and it quickly withdrew because of more important conflicts on the world stage. Hopefully, history will not repeat itself because that would be wrongheaded, expensive, and deadly.
On Tuesday Charles Freeman former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia withdrew from his appointment as chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Writing in The Washington Post Walter Pincus seems to attribute this event to pro-Israeli lobbyists and quotes Freeman as maintaining that, “the aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views... and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors."
However, Caroline Glick in an essay for The Jerusalem Post sees the event in a far different light. She points out that the memoirs of former Secretary of State James Baker claimed that the affliction of "clientitis" affected the former ambassador to the Saudi Kingdom and that Freeman later became president of the Middle East Policy Council which received millions of dollars in support from the royal family. Glick also accuses Pincus of “reportorial malpractice” and notes that paper’s news editor, Douglas Jehl deliberately ignored this story of a campaign against Freeman until now. She asserts that, “they never asked whether the controversy surrounding it was justified. Had they asked that question, perhaps they would have reconsidered their decision to ignore the story.”
Officials in the small (population 1046) Texas town of Tenaha apparently believe that outright theft from black people who happen to pass through their stretch of highway is a moral and correct way to fund government. They are putting their belief into practice by way of the asset forfeiture laws. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune black drivers and interracial couples are stopped and threatened with arrest on drug charges, while those with children are also told their offspring will be sent into foster care. However, if they give up any money or valuables in their possession they are let go after signing a waiver which states that, "we agree that this case may be taken up and considered by the Court without further notice to us during this proceeding. In exchange for this agreement, no criminal charges shall be filed on either of us as a result of this case, and our children shall not be turned over to CPS." Of 200 cases involving asset forfeiture only 50 were connected to actual drug charges.
People who support Israel’s right to exist such as Daniel Pipes are quite familiar with the high degree of animosity towards the Jews living in the Middle East that exists on American institutions of higher learning today. In fact, Pipes started an organization, Campus Watch to monitor such bias. Also, The Pope Center is taking notice.
Member and researcher Jay Schalin attended a “teach in” about Israeli-Palestinian relations presented at Duke University and he reports that his expectations of heavy anti-Israeli bias were more than met. He concludes that, “what I really learned at the teach-in is that universities like Duke are creating potential incubators of Jihad on American soil while posturing as open-minded and morally superior centers of disinterested learning.”
More and more people, organizations, and publications are beginning to acknowledge the failure of drug prohibition. On the other hand the Economist took the position that, “minimising the evil of drugs means learning to live with them, legally” over twenty years ago. In a recent relentlessly logical and compelling article the magazine reasserts the position that, “prohibition has failed; legalisation is the least bad solution.”
The essay begins by reminding us of the 1998 promise by the UN General Assembly of a drug free world and it asserts “that is the kind of promise politicians love to make. It assuages the sense of moral panic that has been the handmaiden of prohibition for a century. It is intended to reassure the parents of teenagers across the world. Yet it is a hugely irresponsible promise, because it cannot be fulfilled.”
One of the points of conflict between Islam and Western liberal values is the practice of forced marriage. Often even very young girls are compelled by their families to marry against their will. In November of 2008 the British government attempted to provide some protection against this injustice by passing the Forced Marriage Act. However, the law is largely ineffective because it provided no criminal or civil penalties on the theory that girls would not want their families punished. Also, on Islamist Watch Victoria Golshani points out that though the Home Office may not recognize these coerced unions, the Sharia courts found throughout the United Kingdom do. She argues that, “once again, when a government justifies human rights abuses as an acceptance of ‘cultural diversity,’ the attempt to absolve itself through the Forced Marriage Act is not worth the paper it is written on. The UK has created a state within a state where an individual's rights depends on their religion. A piece of legislation that touts that it is ‘not okay’ to force someone to marry another is meaningless without a legal system that does not excuse human rights abuses based on supposed religious tolerance.”
Starting today the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) will meet for the purpose of setting the next decade’s worldwide drug policy agenda. Human Rights Watch will be observing this gathering closely because they have documented a plethora of fundamental human rights violations, in many countries, that are connected to drug prohibition. The organization asserts that, “around the world, drug control efforts result in serious human rights abuses - torture and ill-treatment by police, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, and denial of essential medicines and basic health services. UN drug control agencies have paid little attention to whether international drug control efforts are consistent with human rights protections, or to the effect of drug control policies on fundamental human rights.”
Another good sign for the marijuana law reform movement came with the news that CNN’s medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta will not be the new Surgeon General. Dr. Gupta wrote an article for Time magazine in which he used specious logic and misinformation to categorically reject marijuana decriminalization. His elevation to the above position would have been an impediment to needed change.
There is no doubt that much suffering occurred during the recent Israeli attack on Gaza. But there is doubt as to the actual extent of the human suffering and the physical damage. One English Jew was so concerned about the extent of the suffering and damage that she took a personal trip of discovery to bear witness and to express her concern. It turns out that she was shocked to find a very different view than that now accepted as the truth by millions of people throughout the world.
The Jerusalem Post Puzzled in Gaza
by Yvonne Green
I'm a poet, an English Jew and a frequent visitor to Israel. Deeply disturbed by the reports of wanton slaughter and destruction during Operation Cast Lead, I felt I had to see for myself. I flew to Tel Aviv and on Wednesday, January 28, using my press card to cross the Erez checkpoint, I walked across the border into Gaza where I was met by my guide, a Palestinian journalist. He asked if I wanted to meet with Hamas officials. I explained that I'd come to bear witness to the damage and civilian suffering, not to talk politics.
What I saw was that there had been precision attacks made on all of Hamas' infrastructure. Does UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticize the surgical destruction of the explosives cache in the Imad Akhel Mosque, of the National Forces compound, of the Shi Jaya police station, of the Ministry of Prisoners? The Gazans I met weren't mourning the police state. Neither were they radicalized. As Hamas blackshirts menaced the street corners, I witnessed how passersby ignored them.
THERE WERE empty beds at Shifa Hospital and a threatening atmosphere. Hamas is reduced to wielding its unchallengeable authority from extensive air raid shelters which, together with the hospital, were built by Israel 30 years ago. Terrorized Gazans used doublespeak when they told me most of the alleged 5,500 wounded were being treated in Egypt and Jordan. They want it known that the figure is a lie, and showed me that the wounded weren't in Gaza. No evidence exists of their presence in foreign hospitals, or of how they might have gotten there.
From the mansions of the Abu Ayida family at Jebala Rayes to Tallel Howa (Gaza City's densest residential area), Gazans contradicted allegations that Israel had murderously attacked civilians. They told me again and again that both civilians and Hamas fighters had evacuated safely from areas of Hamas activity in response to Israeli telephone calls, leaflets and megaphone warnings.
Seeing Al-Fakhora made it impossible to understand how UN and press reports could ever have alleged that the UNWRA school had been hit by Israeli shells. The school, like most of Gaza, was visibly intact. I was shown where Hamas had been firing from nearby, and the Israeli missile's marks on the road outside the school were unmistakeable. When I met Mona al-Ashkor, one of the 40 people injured running toward Al-Fakhora - rather than inside it as widely and persistently reported - I was told that Israel had warned people not to take shelter in the school because Hamas was operating in the area, and that some people had ignored the warning because UNWRA previously told them that the school would be safe. Press reports that fatalities numbered 40 were denied.
I WAS TOLD stories at Samouni Street which contradicted each other, what I saw and later media accounts. Examples of these inconsistencies are that 24, 31, 34 or more members of the Fatah Samouni family had died. That all the deaths occurred when Israel bombed the safe building it had told 160 family members to shelter in; the safe building was pointed out to me but looked externally intact and washing was still hanging on a line on one of its balconies. That some left the safe building and were shot in another house. That one was shot when outside collecting firewood. That there was no resistance - but the top right hand window of the safe building (which appears in a BBC Panorama film Out of the Ruins" aired February 8) has a black mark above it - a sign I was shown all day of weaponry having been fired from inside. That victims were left bleeding for two or three days.
I saw large scoured craters and a buckled container which appeared to have been damaged by an internal impact (its external surfaces were undamaged). Media accounts of Samouni Street don't mention these possible indications of explosive caches (although the container is visible on media footage). The Samouni family's elder told me during a taped interview that he had a CD film of the killings. As far as I'm aware, no such film has been made public. He also told me that there are members of his family who have still not been found.
The media have manufactured and examined allegations that Israel committed a war crime against the Samounis without mentioning that the family are Fatah and that some of its members are still missing. They have not considered what might flow from those facts: that Hamas might have been active not only in the Samouni killings but in the exertion of force on the Samounis to accuse Israel.
THE GAZA I saw was societally intact. There were no homeless, walking wounded, hungry or underdressed people. The streets were busy, shops were hung with embroidered dresses and gigantic cooking pots, the markets were full of fresh meat and beautiful produce - the red radishes were bigger than grapefruits. Mothers accompanied by a 13-year-old boy told me they were bored of leaving home to sit on rubble all day to tell the press how they'd survived. Women graduates I met in Shijaya spoke of education as power as old men watched over them.
No one praised their government as they showed me the sites of tunnels where fighters had melted away. No one declared Hamas victorious for creating a forced civilian front line as they showed me the remains of booby trapped homes and schools.
From what I saw and was told in Gaza, Operation Cast Lead pinpointed a totalitarian regime's power bases and largely neutralized Hamas's plans to make Israel its tool for the sacrifice of civilian life.
Corroboration of my account may be found in tardy and piecemeal retractions of claims concerning the UNWRA school at Al-Fakhora; an isolated acknowledgment that Gaza is substantially intact by The New York Times; Internet media watch corrections; and the unresolved discrepancy between the alleged wounded and their unreported whereabouts.
The writer is a poet and freelance writer who lives in London. Her collection Boukhara was a 2008 Smith/Doorstop prize winner. She also translates the poetry of Semyon Lipkin, the Russian World War II poet.
The Egyptian government hosted an International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Economy for the Reconstruction of Gaza and to the delight of people such as Hillary Clinton, Husni Mubarak of Egypt, Nicholas Sarkozy of France, Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations, Amr Moussa of the Arab League, Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, and most of all the leadership of Hamas $4.5 billion dollars was pledged for the rebuilding of Gaza.
However, Daniel Pipes is incredulous. He asks, “why my disbelief at this spectacle: I wonder if those eminentoes and worthies really believe that warfare in Gaza is a thing of the past, and that the time for reconstruction is nigh?” He goes on to explain that since the ceasefire Hamas has been firing an average of over two rockets, some more sophisticated than ever before, per day into its neighbor and that by providing these funds the donors are defying Israel to defend itself. Pipes ends his piece by posing the question, “is this ignorance or mendacity? I suspect the latter; no one is that dumb.”
The exponentially increasing violence as a result of the Mexican government’s ill conceived attempt to crack down on the drug cartels is finally garnering some attention. The television program Sixty Minutes had a segment on it last night. However, as per usual the piece had plenty of questionable scary sensationalism with virtually no analysis of the root of the problem, the drug laws. There was also no mention of the recent statement by former leaders Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil), César Gaviria (Colombia) and Ernesto Zedillo (Mexico) calling for a paradigm shift in drug policy. Instead, CBS attempted to blame U.S. demand for drugs and lack of gun control laws for the problem.
Meanwhile Defense Secretary Robert Gates is praising Mexican President Felipe Calderon for initiating the chaos and he promises more U.S. assistance, including joint military operations, to keep the violence going.
On the other hand, essayist for the Orange County Registrar, Alan Bock, places the blame for the killings squarely where it belongs on drug prohibition. He asks us to substitute the phrase “drug law related violence” for the misleading drug related violence now commonly in use. Bock is arguing that so called successes in this war are actually failures when he points out that those “who have sought to win the ill-considered War on Drugs by main force have discovered time and time again, that the drug cartels are hydra-headed monsters. Kill or imprison the head of a particularly brutal cartel, as the authorities were able to do recently with the notorious Felix Arellano organization in Tijuana, and a half dozen contenders for leadership quickly emerge, all of them skilled to one extent or another in the dark arts of violence, concealment, intimidation, and cruelty.”
Thanks to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and American President Barak Obama there will be no North American presence at the World Conference Against Racism in Geneva, also known as Durban II. At the original conference in 2001 it was held that Zionism equals racism. Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) congratulates the Obama Administration and sees this important choice “as a rebuking of such doctrines and hope that his action will bring sanity and civility to the discourse of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on campus and in the region.”
Currently in California there is legislation introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) that would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana. Most people do not think the bill has much of a chance to be enacted, however, if editorials like this recent one in the Los Angles Times keep appearing many may be surprised. Its starts out by asserting that, ”it has been nearly 40 years since President Nixon began the ‘war on drugs’ in 1971. Its objective from the outset was to suppress the manufacture, distribution and consumption of illicit drugs. By all of those measures -- and by common agreement -- the multibillion-dollar effort has been a failure. Supply is plentiful, distribution sophisticated and consumption steady. Today, there is rare consensus among policymakers, law enforcement leaders and healthcare professionals: Our drug policy, they concede, is not working.” The essay ends by reminding President Obama that he once agreed wholeheartedly with that sentiment.
It appears that the early signs after Barak Obama took over national drug policy were misleading, especially when it comes to medical marijuana. During the campaign Obama told of his mother’s death from cancer and indicated he saw no difference between morphine and marijuana when they are prescribed for pain relief. However, there were DEA raids on California dispensaries during his first week in office.
Now though, the San Francisco Chronicleis reporting on a press conference where the new Attorney General, Eric Holder, said that, “what the president said during the campaign, you'll be surprised to know, will be consistent with what we'll be doing here in law enforcement. What he said during the campaign is now American policy."
The Drug Policy Alliance’s National Affairs Director. Bill Piper, responded by asserting that, “I think it definitely signals that Obama is moving in a new direction, that it means what he said on the campaign trail that marijuana should be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue." Obama and Holder are to be congratulated on a significant and positive change in federal policy.
If a private U.S. citizen gives money to Hamas they can go to prison for a long time. However, the Obama Administration plans to give $900 million dollars for the rebuilding of Gaza. Will Eric Holder prosecute our president for giving material aid to a terrorist organization? The government says the money will go to the Palestinian Authority but a Jewish Press Editorial points out the comical nature of “the administration’s assurances that the money will be funneled through the PA so as not to benefit Hamas. Of course, Hamas is firmly in charge in Gaza and would inevitably have a hand in all reconstruction and receive the lion’s share of credit for any improvement in Gaza’s landscape and infrastructure.” Also, if American money is used to rebuild Gaza, then Hamas will not have to pay for it and therefore they will have more funds available for rockets and other arms.
Our government correctly labels Hamas a terrorist organization and refuses to recognize it when they win an election. Hamas makes it absolutely clear that they will induce carnage again as soon as they deem it feasible. So Obama gives this organization, whose overriding mission is the destruction of Israel by violent means, as stated in its charter, access to almost a billion American dollars.
The only constant in world history is change and so it is with one of the oldest hatreds, anti-Semitism. The traditional anti-Semitism directed at Jews as individuals has evolved into a loathing of Jews as a collective embodied by the state of Israel. In a very important article. Canadian MP and former minister of justice and attorney-general, Irwin Cotler, explains in detail the differences between the old and new anti-Semitism. Cotler traces a milestone in this transformation to the UN resolution equating Zionism with racism and he quotes the late Senator Daniel Moynihan saying that it “gave the abomination of anti-Semitism the appearance of international legal sanction." Indeed, Cotler argues that the new anti-Semitism has both ideological and legal aspects. Worst of all the author points out that new collective anti-Semitism has led to a worldwide resurgence of the old variety.
Two juvenile court judges in Pennsylvania, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan, have pled guilty to the crime of accepting kickbacks from a private prison company in return for imprisoning thousands of those who appeared before them. Standard practice was to get the parents of defendants to wave the right to an attorney and one such girl was sentenced after a ninety second trial. Another female teenager got an eleven month stretch for a single slap even through there was no injury and no witnesses. While in prison she was forced to take medication and then began cutting herself leading to three hospitalizations. She says that, “I was never depressed, I was never put on meds before. I went there, and they just started putting meds on me, and I didn’t even know what they were. They said if I didn’t take them, I wasn’t following my program.” This story prompts the question how many of the 2.1 million Americans currently incarcerated are there not because of any crime they committed but rather so that someone else can make money?
Perhaps never before has a historical question been so important in the discussion of present policies. It involves the New Deal and asks were the actions pursued then the right way to get the nation through an unprecedented crisis or were they wrong headed and the cause of much prolonged human misery?
In an article appearing in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer syndicated columnist Scot Lehigh argues that the criticism of the New Deal is coming from obstructionist conservatives who are falsely revising history. He writes that, “in sum, determined efforts at revisionism notwithstanding, the New Deal was hardly a failure. It's more accurate to say that it was a success, but a limited one -- and that there are important lessons to be learned from its shortcomings. But those lessons would be hard for conservatives to square with their beliefs.”
However, on the same opinion page Amity Shlaes, author of The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, asserts that any success of the New Deal approach is purely mythological. She points out that, “Bureau of Labor Statistics data show joblessness in the 1930s bumping around in the teens and moving back up toward 20 percent later that decade -- years after the New Dealers first spoke of ‘bold, persistent experimentation.‘ These numbers include long-term public-sector jobs (tax collector, school teacher) but not the short-term or part-time jobs generated by the New Deal's alphabet agencies. Some New Deal fans prefer to include even those make-work positions in their math. Even then, you find unemployment in the double digits most of the time.”
Unhappily one of the stalwarts in the fight against drug treatment abuse, Wesley M. Fager has passed away. He died on Friday in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the funeral is tomorrow in Chesapeake, VA. Because of experiences within his own family Fager took up the important and neglected cause of those abused, sometimes very seriously, while confined to drug treatment facilites. He is the author of the e-book A Clockwork Straight and he will be sorely missed.
One of the more overlooked consequences of the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs is the disenfranchisement of citizens caught up in the conflict. Those hoping for substantial change from the soon to be new Office of National Drug Control Policy head, ex-police chief of Seattle Gil Kerlikowske, can take some hope from an editorial he co-wrote with John Lovick the Snohomish County sheriff. The two law enforcement officers write in favor of legislation that would automatically restore the voting rights of convicted felons who have served their time. They cite a study which “showed former offenders who vote are 50 percent less likely to commit new crimes than those who don't vote. We want those who leave prison to become productive and law-abiding citizens. Voting puts them on that path.”
The change in Washington state law is also supported by the editorial board of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It points out that, “combined with sociological factors, the current law has the dire effect of eliminating 17 percent of African-Americans and 10 percent of Latinos from voting eligibility. That's shockingly excessive.”
The drug law reform community put much effort and faith into the election of President Barack Obama and until just recently they have experienced nothing but disappointment in return. First, during the transition Obama nominated hardline drug warrior Eric Holder, who sought to make simple misdemeanor marijuana possession a felony with mandatory minimum sentencing in the District of Columbia, to be Attorney General. The president then named as Surgeon General television personality Sanjay Gupta who has demonstrated astounding ignorance on the subject of cannabis use.
The new administration’s measures in this field so far have been just as bad as his nominations. During his first week in office there were federal raids in California on medical marijuana clinics operating legally under state law, an action that broke a campaign promise to change this Bush policy. Although, the leader of NATO in Afghanistan, a U.S. general under Obama’s command, did announce a policy change, henceforth his subordinates were to kill on sight anyone involved in the drug trade irregardless of any connection with the insurgency. Also, when the City Council of El Paso Texas voted for a resolution merely calling for a national discussion on legalization of drugs they were threatened with a loss of stimulus package funding from the Obama Administration. And, there is no evidence that any of the above actions has displeased our new leader.
However, last week Obama did do something that drew praise from the nation’s drug law reform organizations, he nominated Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Drug Policy Alliance for example cited the facts that Seattle had legalized medical marijuana, made recreational marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority, allowed the implementation of needle exchange programs, and pursed a progressive policy when it came to dealing with overdoses as very good signs. Perhaps the greatest cause for optimism is the fact that Chief Kerlikowske has followed in the footsteps of retired Seattle police chief Norm Stamper now a prominent member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) who “believes the drug war causes untold misery, undermines effective law enforcement, and does not begin to pass any sort of cost-benefit analysis.”
As I pointed out in Fatal Distraction: The War on Drugs in the Age of Islamic Terror there is an inherent conflict between the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs and the war on terror. Both compete for scarce resources and often actions meant to suppress drug use can interfere with the effort to prevent terrorism. Nowhere in the world today is this policy tension more evident than in Afghanistan, especially now that NATO Supreme Commander General John Craddock has announced that his soldiers will soon kill on sight anyone involved in the drug trade whether or not they have anything to do with the insurgency.
This is to be done in a country where a recent poll shows that “opinion of the United States dropped nearly in half, from 83 percent support in the 2005 poll to just 47 percent. NATO’s approval rating was 37 percent, while President Hamid Karzai, faced with an election at some point this year, has dipped from 83 percent to 52 percent.” The new policy is unlikely to raise these numbers considering the fact that opium production accounts for the equivalent of 50% of Afghanistan’s GNP. Though the Taliban nearly completely wiped out poppy production back in 2001 they now benefit by taxing the trade, however, most of the people to be shot are warlords, government officials or small farmers now either allied with us against the Taliban or at least neutral. Indeed, many NATO commanders on the ground oppose the change in policy fearing the main result will be a sharp increase in the number of their enemies.
Lastly, if the treatment of Cheye Calvo, the innocent Mayor of Berwyn Heights accused of being a marijuana dealer, and his family by the Prince Georges County police is any indication of how the U.S. military will pursue the new anti-drug campaign then many blameless people who have nothing to do with the opium traffic are going to die.
With the U.S. economy in a shambles many in the media and the political class are pursuing the great American sport of finding someone, anyone, else to blame for this chaos but themselves. Their favorite target is China charging that our problems stem from the fact that the people there save too much. However, Alvaro Vargas Llosa, a senior Fellow of The Center on Global Prosperity at The Independent Institute, argues that it is wrong to focus on a foreign scapegoat. He writes that, “the U.S. financial mess and the ensuing recession were home-grown. Whether one subscribes, as I do, to the view that the consumers’ frenzy and Wall Street’s lunacy originated in the Federal Reserve’s policy of easy money and the lowering of lending standards or, as many others think, in financial deregulation, the key decisions were made by Americans who were (or seemed) perfectly awake. China did not set U.S. interest rates, increase the money supply and pass laws such as the updated Community Reinvestment Act or the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act. And—if one subscribes to the other view—China is not the one that deregulated U.S. financial markets through laws such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999.”
Time and time again we are told that Islam is a beautiful religion promoting high moral values just like the other major faiths. However, there seems to be a continuous stream of stories that causes one to question this idea. The latest one comes from Afghanistan and it concerns a pocket size translation of the Quran that did not include the verses in Arabic. An AP article informs us that, “the book appeared among gifts left for the cleric at a major Kabul mosque after Friday prayers in September 2007. It was a translation of the Quran into one of Afghanistan's languages, with a note giving permission to reprint the text as long as it was distributed for free. Some of the men of the mosque said the book would be useful to Afghans who didn't know Arabic, so they took up a collection for printing. The mosque's cleric asked Ahmad Ghaws Zalmai, a longtime friend, to get the books printed.” Now six men are incarcerated, their families are ostracized, while both the cleric and Zalmai, because they appealed their long prison sentences, face the death penalty.
This story should also make one wonder why we are supporting governments that apply this harsh version of Islam as part of the criminal law of their countries.
My impressions of our new president have evolved to the point where I really like him and his approach to most problems. (And I love his kids. Wow!) Yet, there are many reasons to worry about his approach to the Middle East and Muslims. Daniel Pipes here makes much sense and provides reasons to worry.
When the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 they immediately began killing any Jews that they could find. In all, over 2 million died there by bullets not by gas. A terrific article posted on Newser describes the work of French priest Patrick Desbois, author of The Holocaust by Bullets, documenting this horrific part of history.
Desbois has found that the slaughter was systematic and that there was ”widespread use of local children to help bury the dead, wait on the German soldiers during meals and remove gold teeth and other valuables from the bodies. His work has also yielded evidence that the killings were most frequently carried out in the open, in daylight and in a variety of ways _ shooting victims, throwing them alive into bonfires, walling up a group of Jews in a cellar that wasn't opened until 12 years later.” He also tells the story of a young barefoot girl forced to trample down bodies thrown into a pit, including her classmate, to make room for more.
Further documentation of this aspect of the Holocaust and the local desire not to remember it, including the work of Brown University history professor Omer Bartov, can be found here.
Stories such as this force me again to raise the question as to what good the US participation in the UN does. At the very least all Western governments should withdraw funding from the UNRWA which perpetuates the status of Palestinian refugees who should be resettled into permanent homes like all other refugees.
In their study of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center authors Barry Rubin, Asaf Romirowsky, and Jonathan Spyer report that "UNRWA has broken all the rules that are supposed to govern humanitarian enterprises. Consequently, UNRWA is the exact opposite of other refugee relief operations. They seek to resettle refugees; UNRWA is dedicated to blocking resettlement. They help refugees to live normal lives so that they can move on with their existence; UNRWA's role is to ensure their lives remain abnormal so they are filled with anger and a thirst for revenge that inspires violence and can only be quenched by a victorious return. They try to create stable conditions for refugees; UNRWA's mission is to enable radical political activity and indoctrination by armed groups which ensures a continual state of near chaos."
Winner of a record eight Olympic gold medals, swimmer Michael Phelps, foolishly allowed himself to be photographed taking a hit of marijuana from a bong. With millions of dollars in endorsement deals a stake Phelps has already apologized for his actions promising never to do it again.
However, if marijuana were legal then the America’s young swim fans would not know about Phelps’ smoking habits because the picture would not be a news story. In fact, the whole situation is an indictment of cannabis prohibition. It is not very likely that this photo depicts the first time Phelps has used marijuana, yet none of the alleged reasons such use must be punished severely can be found in the swimmer’s behavior. Because of his prowess as an athlete he is one of the most scrutinized people on the planet but there have been no signs of murderous rampages, blatant insanity, or any violent actions. He often appears in public wearing only a speedo with no hint of needle tracks indicating the use of heroin or any other drug through injection. Also, is anyone seriously going to accuse Michael Phelps of being apathetic and lazy due to amotivational syndrome?
There is no damage to Michael Phelps that can be attributed to the use of marijuana other than the fact that the press found out about it. That this one photo can instantly turn a beloved icon in to a disgraced loser says more about the hypocrisy of our society than it does about him.
One of the most neglected public issues is the war on people who sue certain kinds of drugs. The Obama administration has not yet even named a new drug czar and the mainstream media could not care less. However, there still are some sources of information on America’s longest lasting war. A good one can be found at the ReconsiDer Blog written by Nicholas Eyle. There you can find such under reported stories as a “guidance” by the NATO commander in Afghanistan to shoot anyone involved in the opium trade on sight, even if the person has nothing to do with terrorist activity, and the newest trend in education, random drug testing of teachers.
Dutch legislator Geert Wilders, producer of the film Fitna is to be prosecuted for hate speech by his own government. Reversing last year’s decision by the public prosecutor's office “the Amsterdam appeals court has ordered the prosecution of member of parliament Geert Wilders for inciting hatred and discrimination, based on comments by him in various media on Muslims and their beliefs."
Wilders’ situation has outraged a fellow member of the Board of Advisors to the International Free Press, LTC Allen West (USAR). In his essay, posted by Diana West, he asks, “what is happening in Western civilization? Have we become so enamored with this illness called multiculturalism that we are embarrassed to honor and defend our own cultural principles? Can nothing be more shocking than to charge a member of the Dutch Parliament with ‘hate speech’ for speaking the truth?”
The Islamists who applaud this attempt to silence Wilders may have achieved a pyrrhic victory. His viewpoint and interpretation of the Koran will reach a much larger audience because of a trial that is bound to be sensational and it will be more difficult to conceal evil intentions behind the cloak of religion.
Daniel Pipes is one of the most brilliant and courageous commentators on the complexities of the Middle East and related painful puzzles. Here is one of his latest essays in the form of answers to questions raised by one of his previous essays.
While most newspapers in the United States concentrate on finding misdeeds committed by the Israeli Army and Air Force, a daily journal in Australia has found some information that gives us a look at the true nature of Hamas. The Sidney Morning Herald is reporting a story on the two side’s different treatment of Gazan ambulance drivers during the most recent conflict. The article quotes an ambulance driver registered with and trained by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. Mohammed Shriteh, 30, worked in al-Quds neighbourhood during the fighting and he tells us that “mostly the war was not as fast or as chaotic as I expected. We would co-ordinate with the Israelis before we pick up patients, because they have all our names, and our IDs, so they would not shoot at us." On the other hand, he goes on to describe an incident where Hamas terrorists tried to commandeer his vehicle in one of “several attempts to hijack the al-Quds Hospital's fleet of ambulances during the war.”
The most powerful force in Western Iraq is tribalism and the political landscape their bears a strong resemblance to the one that existed in the post World War 1 era. Anthony Shadid writes about the upcoming provincial elections in Anbar describing a contest dominated by tribal factions. He asserts that “the results of next Saturday's ballot may say less about the campaigns themselves than about the political geography of Anbar, where tribes, sprawling clans steeped in tradition and courted by the U.S. military, enjoy more power than at any time since the Iraqi monarchy was toppled half a century ago.”
The murder rate in the city of Juarez, Mexico doubled last year because of increased efforts to enforce drug prohibition. The city council of its sister city, El Paso, Texas, voted 8 to 0 in favor of a resolution calling for a national debate on the legalization of drugs. The mayor vetoed the legislation and six votes were needed to override this action. Despite the powerful testimony of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) member Nubia Legarda and the articulate and authoritative support for discussion from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) the veto was sustained in a 4 to 4 vote.
Why did four members of the council change their votes? The answer quite simply is that they were coerced. Ryan Grim writing on The Huffington Postreveals that “Rep. Silvestre Reyes, a Democrat who represents El Paso in Congress, lobbied each council member, making it clear that if the resolution calling for a debate passed, El Paso would risk losing money in the upcoming stimulus legislation. Five Texas House representatives made the same threat.”
Here is an opportunity for Barack Obama to prove that his promise of change has at least some substance. His administration should contact Rep. Reyes and the four state legislators for the purpose of finding out if anyone working in the federal bureaucracy indicated that funding would be cut off if the resolution passed. If any such persons are found then Obama must fire them immediately. He ought to also make a very public statement that discussing issues is not grounds for denial of stimulus or any other government funds. If he does not take these actions then we will know for sure that it is business as usual in the nation’s capital.
This looks awful. I heard about this but just now realized how awful it was. This is from a foreign policy advisor to Obama. It is truly a wonder, as some of the bloggers here said, that this did not turn out to be a
catastrophe. Yes, a bad sign and hopefully not a portent of things to come.
I want this guy, our new prez, to succeed! So do all decent people.
I was moved to tears of gratitude for Mr. Obama and for this wonderful
country, time and time again, during this magnificent day, but the speech
was the worst I had heard him give. For years, moreover, I have almost
never agreed with the UK Telegraph but in this case I found my self in agreement with Alex Spillius of that usually awful newspaper. The stock market was not moved in a positive way by the speech either.
On the other hand, my family members and friends who were on the mall or
heard it on television, generally disagreed with me. So did some of the
folks who wrote in comments to the Spillus article. I remain impressed by the new president and pray that he makes real progress soon. We are stuck with him now and our future rides on his shoulders. Go for it, Barack! Hit a grand slam home run next time at bat.
Despite the death and destruction rained down upon the people of Gaza, in response to terrorist attacks upon Israel, writers sympathetic to Hamas and the organization itself are claiming that the Gazans do not blame them for the current tragedy. They assert that Hamas is more popular than ever.
If this is true then people living on this unfortunate strip of land must take their share of responsibility for any violence that descends upon them in the future. Talal Nassar, the chief Hamas spokesman in Syria, has said that “future violence was inevitable.” Article 13 of the Hamas charter states that, “the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement.” Hamas promises the people of Gaza nothing but an endless cycle of carnage until the people of Israel are totally destroyed and there is no reason not to take the organization’s word on this.
If the 1.4 million Gazans not only condone but enthusiastically support the continued killing of Israelis by a relatively small number of Hamas cadres, can they really be considered innocent victims? Does not this Gazan television personality (use close captioning) share some of the blame for the high number of civilian casualties when she laughs upon learning that Hamas has fired a missile from right underneath her office? Do those people who allow their homes, schools, and Mosques to be sites for storing explosives and launching attacks have any kind of justified complaint when those structures are destroyed?
It is unrealistic and unfair for the people of Gaza to expect the people of Israel to continually be on the receiving end of violence with no response. Despite all of the Hamas braggadocio, the past few weeks make it clear that they can not defend the people of Gaza therefore the people of Gaza should not allow them to invite further retaliation.
The inauguration of our first African-American president naturally inspires many to think of those such as Martin Luther King and Jackie Robinson who came before making this occasion possible. For Brigadier General Darren McDew, the Air Force director of public affairs and the Virginia Military Institute’s first African-American first captain and the regimental commander of the Corps of Cadets, this event triggers thoughts of the courageous Tuskegee Airmen, who overcame considerable prejudice in order to risk their lives fighting the Nazis and some of whom shared the stage with Barak Obama when he was sworn in. McDew has a message for “the many who have come before me, and especially to the Tuskegee Airmen, thank you. Thank you for standing tall for all of us. Thank you for courageously disregarding your personal safety and risking your family's future to benefit others. And thank you for your service to these United States of America. We have not forgotten what you have done for our country ... and we never will.” I have met some of the Tuskegee Airman and am in awe of them. They are true Americans heroes.
WILL INDIA BE PUNISHED FOR ITS COMMERCE WITH ISRAEL?
The horrific attacks that occurred at Mumbai in November points out that there are at least two countries in the world subject to continuing violence committed by Islamic terrorists, India and Israel. The two nations are natural allies and indeed the present character of their relationship began in the 1990s with arms exchanges. However, as both countries developed economies based on providing services and non-commodity wealth a commercial connection flourished. In the last ten years the non-military trade between India and Israel has grown from the millions to the billions. In an article by Amity Shlaes, on the history of Israeli/Indian relations, she tells us that the, “Indian press has suggested that the Mumbai attack was all about punishing the new trading culture. The terrorists, after all, arrived in Mumbai via a jetty at that symbol of trade, the Gateway. And an Indian paper noted that one target in the Mumbai attack -- the Chabad House Jewish center -- may have been selected to send a message that there would be a specific penalty for India's commerce with Israel.”
Studies finding that cannabis, or marijuana as it is more commonly known, has both a mitigating and prophylactic effect with regards to Alzheimer’s disease continue to accumulate. One of the latest articles comes from researchers working at the Department of Physiology and Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin. They found that “certain cannabinoids can protect neurons from the deleterious effects of ß-amyloid and are capable of reducing tau phosphorylation. The propensity of cannabinoids to reduce ß-amyloid-evoked oxidative stress and neurodegeneration, whilst stimulating neurotrophin expression neurogenesis, are interesting properties that may be beneficial in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease” and the Scientists concluded that “cannabinoids offer a multi-faceted approach for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease by providing neuroprotection and reducing neuroinflammation, whilst simultaneously supporting the brain's intrinsic repair mechanisms by augmenting neurotrophin expression and enhancing neurogenesis.”
The present situation in Gaza has engendered widespread charges that Israel’s response to recent terrorist violence is disproportionate. Natan Sharansky, a former Israeli deputy prime minister and chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies in Shalem Center, tells us about two cabinet meetings where the proportionality of response to suicide bombings was discussed.
The first occurred in June of 2001 after the destruction of the Dolphinarium discotheque in which 21 Israelis died and 130 were wounded. The government decided on a proportionate response in order to keep world opinion on their side. The result was ever increasing terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians culminating in the March 2002 bombing on Passover Eve, at the Park Hotel in Netanya which killed 130 people. This time the cabinet met and decided on a response that many in the world called disproportionate and Israel was roundly condemned. However, the suicide attacks and loss of Israeli lives greatly diminished.
Sharansky asserts that, “understanding the war in Gaza means recognizing the lessons of 2002. During the three years that passed after pulling out all troops and settlements from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Israel chose to respond to Hamas's deadly, daily rocket attacks with proportionality and diplomacy. The result? More rockets, more missiles, more misery for Palestinians -- and enough breathing space for Hamas to take over the Gaza Strip, devastate its society, build a much more powerful arsenal than it had in 2005 and become the vanguard of Iranian expansionism in the region. Terrorism is a cancer that can't be cured through "proportional" treatments. It requires invasive surgery. It threatens not only democratic states that are its target, but also -- foremost -- the local civilians who are forced into its fanatical ranks, deployed as human shields, and devastated by its tyranny.”
The great tragedy here is that the Arabs are victims of their leaders as has been the case for centuries. And there are other victims among the Israelis and among other people including Americans. Gaza should be an oasis of fun and hope instead of a den for savage leaders who teach hate and bring suffering to their own people. HonestReporting shows another side to this awful situation by describing the sympathetic coverage given by the mass media to a doctor who supports all sorts of harm visited on Americans and those who oppose terror. Some elements of the western media thus continue to demonstrate obscene bias in reporting on any event in which Israel -- and often America -- are involved. HonestReporting deserves to be read and supported by all decent people. By the way, I have no problem with a person being radical or Marxist but I do object to those who support terror and lies.
Most people who get their information from the mainstream media do not know that the 1988 covenant of Hamas is in reality a comprehensive plan for the obliteration of Israel. The document considers anything other than violent jihad to be a waste of time and it states that women and children are to be a part of this program, thus the television programming aimed at inciting little children to hate and kill.
In his article Irwin J. Mansdorf, director of the leadership program in Israel-Arab studies at Lindenbaum College in Jerusalem, discusses the Hamas charter and the philosophy behind it. He argues that, “what Israel is fighting is not a legitimate political organization with supposed nationalistic aims but rather an extreme religious ideology based on a treatise filled with racist diatribes, ethnic smears, vile stereotypes and genocidal intentions. Every Hamas action, including sacrificing their own population, is designed to destroy the independence of the Jewish state. For Israel the war against Hamas is one of survival. For Israel the ideology of Hamas is a clear existential threat.”
Some commentators have argued that the present Israeli actions in Gaza are being done for domestic political reasons or that they have a spur of the moment character. Writing on a Shalem Center website Senior Fellow Martin Kramer takes issue with such assessments. His article argues that the attack against the Gaza terrorists is part of a well thought out long term campaign to eliminate the rule in Gaza of an organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel. A key component of the plan involves maintaining the economic sanctions against Hamas now in place. Kramer points out that, “were Israel to lift the economic sanctions, it would transform Hamas control of Gaza into a permanent fact, solidify the division of the West Bank and Gaza, and undermine both Israel and Abbas by showing that violent "resistance" to Israel produces better results than peaceful compromise and cooperation. Rewarding ‘resistance’ just produces more of it. So Israel's war aim is very straightforward, and it is not simply a total cease-fire. At the very least, it is a total cease-fire that also leaves the sanctions against Hamas in place. This would place Israel in an advantageous position to bring about the collapse of Hamas rule sometime in the future—its long-term objective.”
And, in the pages of The Washington Times Rodger Chapin, founder of Make America Safe contends that the Israeli strategy of eliminating Hamas rule is in the best interest of the United States too.
There is concern that the $50 billion Ponzi scheme perpetrated by financier Bernard Madoff and the media coverage of it may spur a new wave of American anti-Semitism. A pointed history lesson presented by syndicated columnist Amity Shlaes, author of The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, should go far towards diminishing this apprehension Her essay tells the very similar story of white Anglo-Saxon Protestant Richard Whitney, president of the New York Stock Exchange during the 1930s, who ended up in Sing Sing Correctional Facility.
With regards to worry about Madoff and guilt by association, Shlaes states that her "advice is to have no such fear. The Madoff scandal is not about how different a Jewish clan is from a Protestant clan. It is about how the two are alike. And how Jewish and Protestant clannishness resembles that of Italian-Americans, Russian-Americans, Chinese-Americans and on down the line. Clannishness transcends any specific group. The clan can add value as a cultural or economic institution. It also harbors a unique power to destroy."
THE OBSCENE ROLE OF THE UN IN THE ENTIRE TERRORIST UNIVERSE
In the midst of the anguish on all sides in Gaza, it is helpful to step back and look at the underlying reality of the UN complicity in that anguish. Claudia Rosett gets to the core of this mad situation.
It may be that in response to an interviewer's question about Gaza, Benjamin Netanyahu, former Prime Minister of Israel, replied that "it is our land." Several websites are reporting this and asking that their posts be circulated. They include some facts complied by a Christian professor that would back up such a statement by Netanyahu.
There is no question that the recent violence in Gaza has resulted in children losing their lives. The question is whether or not the Israeli forces are deliberately killing them. The answer is no, because of the way Hamas has chosen to integrate its forces and the positions it attacks from into the general population the deaths of civilians, including children is inevitable during any armed conflict.
On the other hand, the various Palestinian factions have a long history of deliberately targeting Jewish children. Robert G. Kaufman, who lives in Seattle, has had an essay published making this very point. He gives some examples writing that there was a "massacre of 24 high school students on a field trip in Maalot, 1974. Burning babies in the nursery of Kibbutz Misgav Am, the sniper shooting of 10-month old Shalchevet Pass while being pushed in her stroller, the kidnapping and mutilation of 14-year-olds Kobi Mandel and Yossi Ish-Ran in Tekoa, the bomb planted outside the teen club Dolphinarium, killing 19, and the recent murder of teen students studying in a religious school in Jerusalem, celebrated by the Palestinians handing out candy to their children."
CNN IS OFTEN FAIR DESPITE MY VIDEO CRITICISM TODAY
I posted a video commenting on the situation in Gaza and I was particularly critical of a few CNN commentators. Now I have just seen other commentators and they covered a wider range of views.
The big problem remains that Israel often ends up the bad guy whenever it fights to defend its citizens. A UN-brokered cease fire means that the Israelis stop defending themselves and the Arabs then have free reign to kill as many Jews as they like. There never are UN emergency meetings when the Arabs are killing Jews. That is seen as the natural order of history.
Yes, they do, but they need a little nudge from ordinary humans. The
Israelis are lauding the fair coverage of their campaign in Gaza. [See
here.] This is amazing news and it comes in part from the more intelligent
-- though brutal -- Israeli battle plan and in part from their smarter use
of the Internet and modern communications technology. We shall see what
impact all of this has on the long run because the Palestinians have voted
to support a suicidal and terrorist set of leaders in Hamas. How sad that
ordinary Arab kids and other civilians have to die in this utterly
unnecessary war declared by the subhuman savages who lead Hamas. Gaza
should by now be a garden spot on the sea visited by thousands of peaceful,
happy tourists from Israel and around the world. The Arab leaders spend
their time and effort in hate and killing rather than in productive
educational and commercial pursuits. They are truly suicidal in all senses
of that word.
I would like to start the new year with more hope but the facts do not
support it. The Arabs -- that is, those in leadership positions and those
who support them by the hundreds of millions -- seem determined to continue
to wallow in hate and misery. The Gaza Arabs voted in Hamas and there is no
doubt that they knew what they were getting -- perpetual war and death in
the name of defeating and killing the Jews. All that appears likely now is
that the Jews will keep fighting them rather than be annihilated and the
Arabs will continue to do the same and never surrender to the hope of a
brighter peaceful future. In this atmosphere a two-state solution is a pipe
dream. The Arabs have chosen misery. Please God, I fervently hope I am
wrong and that 2009 starts to prove me wrong and that righteous Arab leaders
No country in the world would tolerate a neighboring country firing thousands of deadly missiles into its territory and no country in the world, other than Israel, would be so severely criticized for doing something about such a situation. Even the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank and the Egyptians acknowledge that the blame for the current death and destruction ultimately lies with Hamas.
David Brumer, a member of the executive committees of StandWithUs/Northwest & the Seattle chapter of the American Jewish Committee, has written an exceedingly strong vindication of Israel's right to self defense. Among other things Brumer answers the frequent charge of "disproportionate response " by saying that, proportionality is defined by reference to the threat proposed by an enemy and not by the harm it has actually produced. Currently, Israel's objective is to cripple the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza and prevent Hamas from launching further attacks against Israelis. Since it is the primary responsibility of any sovereign state to protect its citizenry, the Israeli government should be expected to do nothing less. In fact, many irate Israelis, especially those in missile distance from Gaza, believe the enactment of this fundamental governmental responsibility has been long overdue.
John Studer comments on two of my recent messages including the one on the coverage of the Gaza situation. He observes that the Gaza coverage is typical of media bias and that no better example can be found except the stories on Bush's exercise habits as compared to those dealing with Obama's. Outrageous comparisons. Here is Studer's
message to me yesterday: The current Gaza coverage No better example of media bias?unless it's this: Tale of Two Presidential Workout Fanatics.
The rules are simple. Even though the Israelis handed Gaza to the Arabs as
a peace offering, the Western media gets upset only when Israel responds to
thousands of Arab attacks on its citizens. The Arabs have a right to incite
hatred of all Jews and a right to seek to kill them all, men, women,
children and babes in arms, starting with those in Israel. Any response by
the Israelis is always disproportionate. What a weird world! It is best explained by Melanie Phillips here.
Young girls living in Kurdistan are commonly forced to have their genitals injured in a painful procedure where the clitoris and often the outer labia are cut off. Sometimes the vaginal opening is nearly sewed shut. The practice can be fatal and regularly results in continuing pain and other health problems for its victims. The Washington Post has run an article, by Amit R. Paley, on the extensive religious practice of female circumcision in the American occupied country. She reports that, Kurdistan is the only known part of Iraq --and one of the few places in the world--where female circumcision is widespread. More than 60 percent of women in Kurdish areas of northern Iraq have been circumcised, according to a study conducted this year. In at least one Kurdish territory, 95 percent of women have undergone the practice, which human rights groups call female gen tal mutilation.
Bernard L. Madoff is accused of bilking investors out of $50 billion in an elaborate and long running Ponzi scheme. Unfortunately many of the organizations and people who were severely damaged had been using their money to help numerous charitable causes. Other people were left destitute.
However, those sad occurrences may not be the only misfortune Madoff has brought upon our society. It seems that the way the mainstream media is covering the story could be producing an increase in anti-Semitism, expressed though both thought and action. An AP article on the subject quotes the American Jewish Committee's executive director, David A. Harris as writing that, "yes, he is Jewish. We get it. But was this relevant to his being arrested for cheating investors or so key to his evolution as a businessman that it needed to be hammered home again and again?"
The Associated Press is reporting that George Bush has issued another 19 pardons. Among those receiving clemency are three people with nonviolent drug crime convictions.
However, the most noticeable pardon is a rare posthumous one for Charles Winter who was fined $5000 and sentenced to 18 months in jail for violating the Neutrality Act. His "crime," was providing the Israeli Air Force with two bombers during their fight for survival in 1948. The articles states that "Winters, a non-Jewish Miami businessman who exported produce, worked with others to transfer two converted B-17 "Flying Fortresses" to Israel's defense forces. He personally flew one of the aircraft from Miami to Czechoslovakia, where that plane and a third B-17 were retrofitted for use as bombers. Well done President Bush.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has issued a report, Spotlight on Speech Codes 2009, concerning the state of free speech at American schools of higher education. Their press release tells us 364 colleges and universities were studied and that, "approximately 74 percent of schools surveyed maintain policies that clearly restrict speech th t, outside the borders of campus, is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
It is being treated as a big joke and a great way to demonize George Bush again, all over the Arab world but also among the opinion leaders here. In my view this was an attack on all Americans and on all of our values. Barack Obama should show his ivy league education and sense of ethics by making an urgent defense of our president. Perhaps he has but this is being written late at night and I have not seen any recent statements from Obama. He might point out that Mr. Bush was elected twice by democratic processes and he represents the American people, all of us, even those who suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome. I voted against Mr. Bush twice but I claim not to suffer from the syndrome. Unless we defend him from these dangerous insults the world will indeed believe that we have gone soft and mushy. I do not believe we have to defend the Iraq war or all of Bush's policies but we must defend him as our duly elected leader or we will keep sliding down the slope toward irrelevance.
We might also point out that had that Iraqi journalist thrown a shoe at Sadat or even Saddam Hussein when he was in power, he would be dead by now, or wished he were.
I am writing this late at night because of my sense of outrage and I intend to return to this subject in the days ahead.
Mr. Goldberg is a powerful critic of the media. Read this and weep. Goldberg writes that, "The mainstream media, or the so-called mainstream media, is always going to have its thumb on the scale because it's always rooting for the Democrat over the Republican. But this year, it was different. This year, the media jumped the shark because this year, without any embarrassment, they embraced one of the candidates running for president. They took a politician - a politician from Chicago, no less - and deified him. They turned him into St. Barack. This time around, they weren't content merely, merely, being a witness to history; this time, they felt that they had to make history because this time they had a noble cause - not just to elect a Democrat, not just to elect a liberal, but to elect the first black man in our nation's history." Of course, I am now delighted that Mr. Obama is in office but like Bernie Goldberg I am appalled at the prostitution of power in the press.
CIA QUESTIONNABLE ROLE IN SHOOTING DOWN PLANES WHICH MIGHT ... ?
The ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra, has revealed that when it comes to the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs such formalities as evidence and a trial are not necessary before an execution. Between 1995 and 2001 the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) helped the Peruvian Air Force shoot down 15 small civilian aircraft in the name of fighting drug use. According to Hoekstra, “many of the shoot-downs were made without warning within two to three minutes of the planes being detected.”
Whether or not there were any drugs on these planes will probably never be known because their charred wreckage is lost in the vast South American jungle. The CIA’s “Airbridge Denial Program” only ended in 2001 because one hit plane managed an emergency river landing and the world learned that an American missionary and her daughter had been killed.
By every standard, the terrorist monsters won. The best explanation of this
awful fact was penned by Steven Emerson, a courageous expert on the subject.
Read this and weep -- but then please get angry and demand intelligent action on the part of the American government, the media, and opinion leaders.
In the last four years only Iraq has lost more people to terrorist attacks than India. National syndicated columnist Rich Lowry gives his analysis of the recent terrorist attack in Mumbai. As he sees it, “coming just weeks after Barack Obama's election, the massacre explodes the left's most reductive explanation of Islamic terrorism: that President Bush and his provocations, including the Iraq war, dangerously inflamed Muslims and fueled terror. With a security agreement setting a goal of a U.S. exit from Iraq by 2012 and Mr. Bush leaving office, jihadists are still at their monstrous handiwork. They have an ideological goal larger than any one conflict or any American president.”
The case against drug prohibition is overwhelming. It is racist, unjust, costly, and it does not do what it purports to do, stop people from using the currently illegal drugs. In this coming time of limited resources it more important than ever that politicians listen to experts like retired Vancouver police officer, Tony Smith. After telling us he is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) Smith asks, “we all believe that drugs are not good, but it is ‘the War on Drugs’ that is causing most of our problems. This war costs 2.5 billion dollars a year in Canada and 10 times that amount in the United States. WHY?”
Amity Shlades, a senior fellow in economic history at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, discusses Barack Obama’s plan to spend the nation out of our current economic downward spiral from an historical perspective. The intellectual foundation underlying the president-elect’s proposed course comes from the work of economist John Maynard Keynes. However, Shlades points out that is “problematic. For Keynesian solutions often fail to deliver good or even acceptable results.”
She gives a number of examples of Keynesian failure such as the stagflation the followed Johnson’s Great Society program and most recently the Bush stimulus checks that were sent out. After noting that the data shows consumers saving those checks rather then spending them, Shlades argues that, “one reason consumers don't want to spend is that they don't react instantaneously, as Keynes posited they would. They follow, rather, the theory of an economist oft-presented as the anti-hero of the moment, Milton Friedman. Friedman's permanent-income hypothesis said that consumers consider their entire future, and not just their mood, when they shop. If expectations of lifetime earnings drop, then so will spending.”
Perhaps the most important problem that America faces today is the inability of so many people to think critically about issues. Therefore in modern higher education a turn towards emphasizing the skill of critical thinking is now prominent. However, do the words match the deeds?
In an essay by Temple University professor, Stephen Zelnick he describes classes and textbooks that supposedly support development of critical thinking. He finds them to be presenting an exceedingly one sided viewpoint. Zelnick writes that, “if colleges really want students to be able to think critically, they could start by insisting that professors not use books in which all the authors are pushing the same message, that students should be unfailingly hostile to our culture and institutions. Teaching students to regurgitate anti-American sentiments is not the same as teaching them critical thinking skills.”
Thanks for the link to the Zelnick essay on critical thinking. You might be interested in a related essay by Victor Davis Hanson at this link.
One key paragraph:
Traditional colleges and universities aren’t about to die, of course. But their attractions-and especially the enticements of the Ivy League schools, Stanford, Berkeley, and such private four-year colleges as Amherst and Oberlin-will largely derive from the status that they convey, the career advantages that accrue from their brand-name diplomas, and the unspoken allure of networking and associating with others of a similarly affluent and privileged class. They are becoming social entities, private clubs for young people, certification and proof of career seriousness, but hardly centers for excellence in undergraduate education in the classical sense. For all the tens of thousands of dollars invested in yearly tuition, there will be no guarantee, or indeed, even a general expectation, that students will encounter singular faculty or receive a superior liberal arts education-let alone that they will know much more about their exceptional civilization than what they could find on the Internet, at religious schools, or on CDs and DVDs.
COLD REALITIES ON IRAN FOR THE NEW PRESIDENT
Obama harped on the failure of Bush to pursue peaceful meetings with Iranian leaders. We now learn, thanks to Steven Rosen and the Middle East Forum, that there have been at least 28 major meetings between top level US officials and their counterparts in Iran. Results: negligible. Rosen claims that the easy options are gone. Our new president will have to face these cold facts, as I have repeatedly predicted. The choices are terrible on all sides.
One of the consequences of our government’s prohibition of heroin use is a black market for the drug where the strength of any individual dose is unknown. This leads far too often to problems with an overdose. Also, because heroin is illegal when someone does have a problem the people around them are often reluctant to seek help not wanting to put themselves in legal jeopardy.
Both of theses factor came into play in suburban Fairfax County Virginia where 19-year-old Alicia Lannes overdosed on heroin and died. The Washington Postis reporting that when her “boyfriend, Skylar Schnippel, realized Lannes was in trouble, he didn't call her parents or 911. He dialed some buddies and asked them to check on her, said her father, Greg Lannes. Schnippel's friends crept to the family's windows about 4 a.m. March 5 and saw that Alicia was unconscious. They went to a pay phone and made an anonymous call to 911.”
If heroin were legal and regulated then the chances are that Alicia would not have taken an overdose. However, even if she had overdosed under a legal regime those around her would have sought official help immediately and greatly increased her probability of survival. No doubt those who support and benefit by the illegality of heroin will exploit the sad death of Alicia Lannes to bolster their position but the reality is that if drugs were legal she would most likely be alive today. We as a society may not like heroin use but it should not be a capital offense.
That is an important question. According to Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance, the answer is not a happy one. All who care about this matter should heed his advice and oppose the choice of a cave dweller for that position.
OBAMA SENDS SIGNAL DRUG WAR TO CONTINUE AT FULL SPEED
By Keith Halderman
One of the strongest constituencies to support the election of Barak Obama was the drug law reform community. His victory has been seen as a good opportunity to advance the agenda of a more sensible legal regime. However, these hopes have suffered a significant setback with the announcement that committed drug warrior Eric Holder Jr. will be the new Attorney General.
In a misleading article published by The Washington Post, attributing increased violence to marijuana rather than its real source marijuana prohibition, Holder is quoted as asserting that, "we have too long taken the view that what we would term to be minor crimes are not important," as he advocated more active enforcement along with stiffer penalties for marijuana offenses. Also, The Washington Timesreported that, “Eric Holder yesterday said he will seek to make marijuana distribution in the District a felony and reinstate mandatory-minimum sentences for convicted drug dealers. Mr. Holder … said the D.C. Council's vote a year ago to repeal mandatory minimums was ‘misguided,’ leading to a backlog in the court system. He also warned that the city is on the verge of an explosion in violence associated with the sale and use of marijuana.”
The war on people who use certain kinds of drugs is the most racist institution in modern America. How ironic and sad that our first black president has appointed as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer another black man who so enthusiastically supports the racism inherent in drug prohibition.
In the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Jerome Taylor, a writer for The Independent Of Britain, has an essay titled Cocaine is destroying Colombian rainforest. In it he describes damage to the environment done by cocaine producers. He asserts that, “on top of the vast tracts of rainforest that are destroyed to make way for coca fields millions of tons of herbicides and fertilizers are washed into Colombia's rivers.”
Taylor also notes efforts to convince users of cocaine that they are responsible for these bad effects. He quotes Colombia's Vice-President, Francisco Santos Calderon as arguing that, "every time you consume one gram of cocaine you are destroying 4.4 square meters of Colombian rainforest."
All of the problems described by the author would be mitigated or disappear if the coca plant were legal. The reason people plant coca deep in the rainforest is because it is illegal. The reason the chemicals used to make cocaine are just dumped into the nearest stream is because the industry is outlawed and therefore unregulated. Also, let us remember that the herbicides mentioned in the piece are there because of governmental efforts to eradicate the coca plant. If the drug was legal people would be able to partake without causing any more environmental damage than other crops do, so it is clearly not the user’s fault. The blame lies with drug prohibition and anyone who cares about the rainforest environment should be advocating an end to war on people who use certain kinds of drugs.
The Baltimore Sun is reporting another case of political correctness infringing on reasoned academic discourse. Some members of the Loyola College of Maryland Economics Department signed a letter apologizing for the racial and gender insensitivity contained in a guest lecture given by economist Walter Block. In his very interesting and detailed account of this incident Block notes that the school is in the process of changing it name to Loyola University of Maryland. He goes on to say that, ”it takes more to make a University, worthy of the name, than number and quality of students, publications of faculty, physical facilities. It also requires a certain openness to ideas, enthusiasm to tolerate different opinions, civility, politeness, willingness to dialogue instead of shutting down debate. Attempts to squelch support for free enterprise and laissez faire capitalism, by smearing adherents as 'racists,' or 'sexists,' is simply incompatible with being a great institution of higher learning, worthy of the name ‘University.’”
Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute Charles V. Peña discusses the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority plan to begin randomly searching its passenger in the name of fighting terrorism. Do these searches make sense? Are they constitutional? There are some strong arguments to the effect that they do not. Peña points out that, “because the searches will be random, the odds of catching anyone are low. Let’s assume that 700,000 people ride Metrorail on any given day and that ridership is evenly distributed between all 86 stations. Let’s also assume that searches are being conducted at half the stations. That means 350,000 people would be subject to search. If 1 in 10 persons are searched, only 35,000 out of 700,000 total riders (about 5 percent) will be searched. If there are 10 possible terrorists amongst 700,000 riders (an almost infinitesimally small percentage of the population), the probability of catching even a single terrorist as a result of a random search is near zero. In other words, it amounts to a finding-a-needle-in-the-haystack operation with odds that are only slightly better than winning a million dollars in D.C.’s Powerball lottery.”
In addition, the effort will take an enormous amount of manpower thereby degrading the ability of the transit police to fight ordinary crime such as robbery and rape. Not only will riders be unconstitutionally inconvenienced but they will be less safe too.
YES ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA WHEN THE PEOPLE HAVE A SAY
This last election the voters in Michigan approved a ballot measure legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes by a margin of nearly two to one. The Bay City Timesreports that measure passed with 63% of the vote, winning in every county. The paper quotes Everett Swift executive director of MIHEMP as saying that "the large margin of victory only goes to show how out of touch the Michigan Legislature and governor are with the people of Michigan."
The ancient Mayans believed that the dead must travel a road filled with horrors such as sharp knives, jaguars, bats, and rivers of blood. Now, it is being reported in a fascinating story that, “a Mexican archaeologist using long-forgotten testimony from the Spanish Inquisition says a series of caves he has explored may be the place where the Maya actually tried to depict this highway through hell.”
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has posted a chart showing the overwhelming success of ballot initiatives dealing with marijuana on Tuesday’s election. Nine out of nine questions directly involving marijuana passed with eight of them having over sixty percent of the voters in support.
They also see other reasons for optimism in the election results. In a fund raising e-mail MPP points to numerous changes in the make up of Congress which favor their positions. In addition they quote the Obama campaign as asserting that, "many states have laws that condone medical marijuana, but the Bush Administration is using federal drug enforcement agents to raid these facilities and arrest seriously ill people. Focusing scarce law enforcement resources on these patients who pose no threat while many violent and highly dangerous drug traffickers are at large makes no sense. Senator Obama will not continue the Bush policy when he is president."
Your website has become part of my regular reading, Arnold.
Enjoyed your video commentary, thank you. I did not vote for Obama, but like you, in these precarious times, I sincerely wish him nothing but the best.
I also share your concerns, especially in the foreign policy/national security sphere. I am reminded of the old joke about the Secretary of State rushing to the airport with an emergency “lights and sirens” escort. He is driven out on the tarmac to his plane and dashes up the steps. He is met at the door by the pilot, who asks, “Where to?” “Anywhere,” replies the Secretary. “We got trouble all over.”
I applaud your comments on the deranged demonization of the Bush administration. I note in passing that Bush himself seems perfectly willing to await the verdict of history.
I do not think that the Bush administration, whatever its flaws, is viewed by our enemies as wishy-washy on national security. But I do remember Kennedy’s near-disastrous first year and the effects of his perceived lack of strength. We of course do not need to remember the effects of the Carter administration’s failures with Iran and Afghanistan , because we still live with them. And during another recent administration-in many respects admirable, but often referred to as a “holiday from history”-the chief executive said “pass” on bin Laden.
Like you, I pray that Obama is tough enough, that he chooses wise counselors, and that he can learn from the mistakes of past administrations without repeating them.
NO JUSTICE FOR TAXPAYERS
The Associated Press is reporting that the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac includes an obligation to pay the legal bills of any of their executives who are prosecuted for illegal acts. It writes that, “with the Justice Department investigating companies involved in the mortgage and financial meltdown, executives around the country are hiring defense lawyers. Like many large companies, Fannie and Freddie had contracts promising to cover legal bills for their executives.”
WE HAVE TREATED OUR CURRENT PRESIDENT WITH UTTER HATE
I did not vote for Mr. Bush and worked very hard against him but unlike much
of the country I do not hate him. The intensity of the attacks has hurt the
country and emboldened our enemies. For shame. Look at a longer essay on
this subject here.
I was overwhelmed by my own feelings and by those of the people who appeared on the television screens last evening. Obama was magnificent and so was McCain in his remarks. I came to vote for Obama after much agony as I reported on this site but I am glad I did and I am delighted he was elected.
On the other side of the discussion, this interchange on Morning Joe is a vital part of the whole reality. It is a plea for open minds by everyone, especially those who were on the winning side yesterday. This is must-see television!!
In the previous post there was a link to an essay by Linda Chavez. She wrote that, “all fair-minded Americans understand race should not be a factor in choosing our next president, so why should race continue to play a role in deciding who gets into college or receives a government contract or is hired or promoted in a government job? It makes no sense to argue we're supposed to be colorblind in the polling booth but color-conscious in so many other areas.” Apparently, the voters in Nebraska listened to her type of arguments and passed a ban on the consideration of race in admissions decisions by public colleges and universities.
It is election day, 2008. By 10:30am I had voted for Barack Obama. In a suburban Maryland county, not far from Washington, almost everybody is voting for him. In fact almost everybody I know anywhere is voting for him. And almost all of them are white voters. There is every likelihood that he will be elected.
As I said yesterday on this site, I voted for His Hopeness for a wide range of reasons along with a prayer that he will be able to overcome the many challenges that now confront him. As I explained, he will soon find out that many of the actions George Bush took were not based on personal whims but on hard realities. I predicted that he would be greeted as a hero by much of the Muslim word and by the mushy left in the West but when he eventually responds with military force to some jihadist threat, many of his former admirers would feel utterly betrayed. As the perceptive Hirsi Ali just wrote, " much of his popularity would vanish. Perhaps it would even fall to the level of George W. Bush."
There are many other issues President Obama must deal with, not least is the issue of affirmative action and diversity in employment and the college application process. On election day, Linda Chavez wondered how we take the position that race should not be considered in voting for a president but that it should be a factor in deciding who gets into college and who gets a job. Obama the candidate seemed to say that he would expand the reach of affirmative action. Will he be able to get away with that when he was elected as the equal opportunity candidate?
The greatest challenges to our new president lie of course in the area of national security. What will he do when Iran announces it will eliminate Israel within a few days? Hold hands with the mullahs and sing cumbayah? Dispatch troops and aircraft to the Golan Heights? As I have said I will pray that our new president shows the wisdom to meet these challenges but I remain quite worried. Anybody who is not, is, I submit, a fool.
OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT -- WITH MY HEART IN MY MOUTH AND A FERVENT PRAYER
I am happy to report that the agonizing is over. Of course I know that the world wasn't waiting for the end of it, but here it is. I will vote the Obama-Biden ticket tomorrow and believe that it will be best for the country if it wins.
I remain fully aware of all of the problems with Obama as president, not the least being his associates of so many years, including especially Wright and Farrakhan. It does not bother me that some of his associates are called radical or socialists or extremists. My Dad voted for Eugene Debs for president when he was in jail in, I think, 1920. He was of course the Socialist candidate.
My chief worry about Obama in the Oval Office is that I do not think he is tough enough in his approach to the monsters that rule many of the countries full of people who hate us. John McCain on the other hand will be tough enough and will scare the monsters more than a bit.
Then why in the world have I come down on Obama's side? First and foremost because if Obama is defeated it will be a crushing blow to millions of African-Americans while the defeat of McCain will be less of a blow to his supporters. Moreover, Obama's election will be a great boost to those same African-Americans and to many Americans of other races who worked emotionally for his victory. His election will indeed be transformational in that it will allow commentators like me to continue to argue that we have truly reached a post-racial era and that American blacks must shed other leaders who thrive on the victimhood claim.
One of the greatest problems in this country is the extent of black crime. It is the holocaust in our living rooms which most black victimhood racketeers, like Jesse Jackson and All Sharpton and Cornel West, deny and make a living from. My hope is that President Obama, the former Chicago community organizer, can start making serious inrods in the horrific level of black crime, starting with the murder rate in Chicago.
For perhaps the first few months, much of the Muslim world and much of the mushy left in the West will be delighted with President Obama. Soon, however, he and they will realize that the actions of American presidents are dictated not by their personal whims but by hard historical and political facts on the ground. When commander-in-chief Obama directs the first tough military response to a jihadist challenge, millions of people around the world will be shocked and outraged. That is fine with me because so much of the world hates us because we are free. We must continue to be free and to accept the hate of those parts of the world that are not free.
There is also the fact that I was part of the civil rights movement and still am. In my heart of hearts I too am delighted to see a black man enter the oval office. Only in America!
The real purpose of the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs is to make a moral statement. After all, there is abundant evidence that this intense and often violent government activity does not only fail to halt drug use but in some cases actually encourages it. Drug prohibition can only be described as a luxury. Now though, with the current failures of our economic system it is a program the state can no longer afford.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has just published an editorial calling for government to rethink the drug laws. We can expect many more such editorials from around the country in the coming days. The question becomes will the politicians listen to such wisdom and serve the public interest or will they continue to serve special interests such as the prison guards union?
Already in California Proposition 5 will reform the prison system diverting large numbers of individuals from costly imprisonment to much less expensive drug treatment thereby savings the taxpayers a substantial amount of money. However, many politicians such as Senator Diane Feinstein and Jerry Brown have decided that the political support of the prison guards union is more important than the state’s roads, schools, and other necessary programs, which need the funds that will be saved by Proposition 5 changes. Is it too much to ask that in 2010 the voters will remember this betrayal?
Sarah Palin had some very specific criticism of Barak Obama’s widely broadcast infomercial. Accusing him of neglecting issues surrounding the nation’s safety in his television program, she said that, "in times of economic worry and hardship - crisis that we're in right now - someone is attempting to put those concerns aside on Election Day - national security issues."
There are many reasons why thinking Jewish-Americans could vote for
McCain-Palin. Lori Lowenthal Marcus lays out a persuasive case for this
action, which very much appeals to me. I am still not sure, however, just
how I am going to vote in a few days. Much personal agonizing sill going on
-- but I am leaning heavily in the direction of this writer.
INTERESTING COMMENTS BY NETWORK JOURNALISTS ON OBAMA
Fascinating events from the networks. Campbell Brown on CNN observed that Obama took in massive amounts of money in large part because he broke an open and solemn promise to take only government money. And Joe Scarborough stumped an Obama supporter as to the most important legislative accomplishment that Obama achieved. The supporter was stumped and was reduced to generalities. Ol Joe then observed on air that this guy has done nothing but run for president since he graduated from Harvard Law School. Apparently, some television journalists are starting to realize that they must live with themselves when this biased campaign is over.
It has been reported more than once that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) anti-drug ads are ineffective and there is strong evidence that they have a reverse effect actually increasing drug use. In December the issue of the American Journal of Public Health yet another study will be published proving the above facts to be true.
The investigation was conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communication and the Drug War Chroniclequotes the authors as saying that, “The evidence does not support a claim that the campaign produced anti-marijuana effects. There is little evidence for a contemporaneous association between exposure to anti-drug advertising and any of the outcomes... Non-users who reported more exposure to anti-drug messages were no more likely to express anti-drug beliefs than were youths who were less exposed.” They went on to assert that, "Despite extensive funding, governmental agency support, the employment of professional advertising and public relations firms, and consultation with subject-matter experts, the evidence from the evaluation suggests that the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign had no favorable effects on youths' behavior and that it may even have had an unintended and undesirable effect on drug cognitions and use."
Senator McCain has said he wants to take an axe to the federal budget while Senator Obama has said a scalpel is needed. Axe or scalpel, this useless and often slanderous program needs to be eliminated.
With the vapid mainstream media concentrating on length of time in office, wardrobe cost, family issues and reading habits there seems to be very little time devoted to how Sarah Palin actually performed as Governor of Alaska. Fortunately, Byron York of The National Review has investigated the question. After reading his comprehensive article one can only conclude that Palin did a very good job especially on the issues of ethics and energy policy, most certainly areas of national concern.
The seven hundred billion dollar bailout for Wall Street bankers also included a lucrative gift for psychiatric self-interest groups. An amendment to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 requires health insurance companies to cover the treatment of mental illness and addiction in the same way they handle cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. This is called parity.
However, Jeffrey A. Schaler and Richard E. Vatz point out in the pages of The Baltimore Sun that this backdoor change to the nation’s medical care system is both controversial and very expensive. They write that, “Quietly slipping the parity requirement into the financial bailout bill legislatively resolves a half-century of contentious debate over the definition of ‘mental illness,’ whether ‘psychiatric disorders’ are medical disorders, and the nature of addiction. What it does not resolve are the many valid objections to the whole concept of parity - objections that have never been satisfactorily answered.”
LATIN AMERICA SEEKING TO ESCAPE U.S. IMPOSED DRUG PROHIBITON VIOLENCE
As reported in this space Mexican President Felipe Calderón has introduced legislation to decriminalize drugs in his country. Both Venezuela and Bolivia are engaged in conflict with the United States over drug policy. And, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has also advocated the decimalization of these substances.
The latest leader to add his voice to this enlightened chorus is Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. During a meeting with drug ministers from 32 Latin American and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, held in Tegucigalpa, Zelaya called for an end to the criminalization of drug use. He prefaced his advocacy of this policy change with the statement that, "the trade of arms, drugs and people ... are scourges on the international economy, and we are unable to provide effective responses.” Zelaya went on to argue that, "rather than continue to kill and capture traffickers, we could invest in resources for education and training," One can wonder if education and training will make much of a dent in the minds of drug traffickers but it may do more good than guns and bullets in at least a few cases.
The countries on earth whose governments’ come closest to practicing classic socialism are located for the most part in Northern Europe. When the history of socialism is taught at major universities the overwhelming focus is on white males. No dictionary definitions of socialism ever mention blacks. Instead they describe an economic system that is racially neutral. Yet, Lewis Diuguid of the Kansas City Startells us that in fact socialism is really a racist code word, what nonsense. Frankly this constant finding of racial motivation in everything that anyone says or does has gotten very old rather quickly. It has now become a parody of itself.
THE MONSTERS OF RADICAL ISLAM MUST BE UNDERSTOOD ... AND FOUGHT WITHOUT ANY RESPITE
Read this story and you begin to understand the evil -- yes, pure hateful evil -- that civilized people face in the world. Whole national societies
as well as hordes of American university professors and students claim that to criticize this "noble freedom fighter" (who with a co-terrorist bashed a little girl's skull in with a rifle butt simply because she was Jewish) is bigotry. Our entire society is in danger of collapsing unless we realize the nature of the challenges we now face. The war on terror and on Islamic fascism is not a hoax perpetrated by George Bush but a vital part of our effort to save Western Civilization.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission has recently defied the Bush Administration and addressed the racist disparity between sentences for crack as opposed to sentences for powdered cocaine. According to syndicated columnist Tom Teepen they are planning to recommend other reforms. Because the states are now spending $44 billion a year on prisons and keeping people incarcerated is their fastest rising expense our current economic situation may present an irresistible argument for money saving change.
Teepen tells us that, “candidates tangled in a long bidding war to see who could propose the most draconian sentences for the most offenses. Even legislators who knew better went along with the frenzy for fear of being ripped by opponents in the next election as soft-on-crime saps. The fad for mandatory minimum sentences rewrote federal and state criminal codes.” Perhaps now the absolute need to use limited funds wisely can finally overcome the mindless and misguided desire to be seen as being tough on crime.
The Red Sox did push the series to the very end, to game 7. And then they
ran out of miracles. The Tampa Bay Rays created a few miracles on their own part in going from the worst team last year, by some standards, to perhaps the best this year. Hats off to them.
YES, VIRGINIA THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS AND YES OTHER KINDS OF MIRACLES ALSO HAPPEN
I went to sleep last night in about the seventh inning of the Rays-Red Sox
game. The Rays showed a massive amount of talent and ability. Never have I
seen a ball club so powerful and relaxed in their wining ways. The Sox were
down 7-0 in that seventh inning, an impossible situation for them.
Therefore, I wrote a message congratulating the Rays and expressing regrets
for the Sox. That was about 10:15 or so last night. It remained on the
site as can be plainly seen. When I got up this morning I did not believe
the story that appeared on the Red Sox site. The Sox had come back and won it in the ninth inning 8-7. By any standard that is impossible and yes a miracle. Tell the children that there is a Santa Claus and that all things are possible if they try and do not give up.
As this is being written the Tampa Bay Rays are truly crushing the world champion Red Sox. There are a few innings yet to go but the outcome seems certain. The Rays will be the American League Champions, a remarkable achievement for a team that has consistently been the worst in the league. Hats off to them and my condolences to the Red Sox and all of their loyal fans around the world. Of course, I remain one of those loyal fans.
After November 5, 2008, the first step of the new leader should be to initiate
proceedings to repeal the First Amendment. It clearly has no place in this
country any more as is reflected in this story from The Washington Post about the lack of freedom of expression in the Washington area. Then we should create an Established Church with Mr. Obama as Pope.
THE FAILURE OF THE MSM MAY BE THE GREATEST LOSS IN THIS CAMPAIGN
A lot has changed in this camapign season. It seems that we have lost a
belief in many institutions, one of the latest being in the Mainstream Media
(MSM). While I do not always agree with the harsh criticism leveled by
Michelle Malkin I believe she is right on target in nailing the bias of the
MSM on reporting on the rage directed at the conservatives as compared to
that directed at the liberals. Lets hope President Obama rises above all
this bias and hate.
JESSE JACKSON SAYS PRESIDENT OBAMA WILL DOWNGRADE ISRAEL AND ZIONISTS
In a major speech and an interview with vast -- even explosive -- political import Rev Jesse Jackson declared that when Obama enters the White House the practice of
putting Israel's interests first will cease and the influence of the Zionists who allegedly control American policy will be lessened. It is difficult to think of a more biased set of remarks coming several weeks before the election and on the eve of the last presidential debate. Get ready for the mainsteam media to either ignore the remarks or explain them
them away. It will be interesting to see what Obama himself says.
My question is whether or not Jackson is intentionally trying to defeat the man he said he wanted to castrate. Of course, this is a form of political castration.
In the recent presidential debates nary a word has been said about drug prohibition and the millions of people in American prisons and the next one promises more of the same. As investigative journalist Silja J.A. Talvi points out, in an authoritative and inclusive article posted on AlterNet, that would not be the case if these encounters were being held in Mexico. The widespread and incredibly brutal violence now happening there would demand attention.
After Mexican President Felipe Calderón took office in December 2006 he deployed 30,000 troops in an attempt to break the country’s drug cartels and the Bush Administration has responded with an offer for $400 million more American tax dollars to support the effort, a 20% increase in the Mexican anti-narcotics budget. The result has been 3500 drug related murders as opposed to the 2500 that took place last year and in a poll published on October 4th “40% of Mexicans felt less secure since Calderón's drug war offensive began. Another poll published by the Mexico City daily, Reforma, showed that more than half of Mexicans believed that the cartels, not the government, were winning the drug war.”
However, it appears that change may be coming as on, “October 2, Calderón proposed legislation that would decriminalize drug possession, ostensibly for personal use. Not just for marijuana, as one might have expected in a country where pot smoke has not been demonized to the same degree as in the U.S., but for cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin, as well.” This new direction in policy found support in the previous administration of Vicente Fox but the Bush drug war apparatus managed to stifle it. Therefore the question becomes has the level of violence risen enough to overcome the U.S. government’s support for said violence?
In 2002 the Bush Administration committed itself to reducing drug use in America by 25% within 5 years. On The New York Times Science Blog John Tierney declares the effort a stark failure. He draws upon a report published in The Bulletin of Cannabis Reform by Jon Gettman, a senior fellow at the George Mason University School of Public Policy, to make his case. This accounting was sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and it evaluates the same database used by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to make an opposite claim.
Gettman comes to three main conclusions: "1. The Bush Administration has failed to reduce or control marijuana use in the United States. Marginal changes in marijuana and other drug use have been distorted to support false claims that incremental progress in reducing marijuana and other drug use has been achieved. Marijuana use is fundamentally the same as when the Bush Administration took office and illicit drug use overall has increased. Drug use data do not support Bush Administration claims that its policies have had a significant impact on illicit drug use in the United States.
2. Increases in drug treatment admissions for marijuana (often cited by officials as "proof" of marijuana's dangers) are driven by criminal justice policies rather than medical diagnosis. These policies increase public costs for providing drug treatment services and reduce funds for and availability of treatment of more serious drug problems.
3. Bush Administration documents acknowledge and document the failure of their national drug control strategy."
MELANIE PHILLIPS' TAKE ON OBAMA: STUBBORN TROUBLING FACTS
While I do not like the use of the phrase "far-left" and so on, I find the
facts she cites against Obama and for PALIN to be very powerful. I remain very uncomfortable with Obama and with the liberal nutcases by the millions who are drinking the hysterical Kool-aid to elect him. He may turn out wonderfully when in the Oval Office but that is a complete crap shoot. We do not know what he stands for.
I'm not sure what McCain stands for, either. One minute he's saying he won't increase or create new taxes, the next he's saying we need to help foreclosed homeowners with a bailout--which means either borrowing more $ from China et. al. or...more taxes. Also his whipping his supporters into a frenzy a la Jerry Springer over such non-starters as Bill Ayers--if he's so dangerous, why ain't he in Camp X-Ray with all the other "terrorists?"--and then back-pedaling and telling those same supporters that they don't need to be afraid of an Obama presidency.
As to Sarah Palin? I'm sorry, she may be a nice lady, but her refusal or inability to answer questions, plus her fudging of her record (e.g., supported the "Bridge to Nowhere" before it became politically expedient to oppose it) and her phony cornpone "Doggone it, Joe, say it ain't so" dialogue (you knew she was just waiting for an opportunity to wedge that in during the VP debate) sets my teeth on edge.
Anyway, I've decided to vote for Ben Bernacke. He's the one who's really in charge at this point, anyway. And let's face it--the Demoplicans and Republicrats could merge and become the Business-As-Usual Party. Which they already are.
THE ATTITUDE OF SO-CALLED LIBERALS TO ANYONE NOT FOR THE MESSIAH
I can testify that the attitudes seen here dominate the liberal view of
anyone not enthusiastically for Obama. While I do not agree with all of the
written comments on the screen about leftists -- since I am one -- I can
assure anyone who will listen that the hate for anyone even questioning
about voting for Obama is truly reflected here. That hate also infects the
media. How sad. Look at this video carefully and share it. Again, I do not to this day know who I am going to vote for but this video leans me to vote for those who are hated.
Over at Townhall.com Debra J. Saunders presents some interesting observations on how the race card will play out this year. She maintains that, ”of course, racism exists in America and there are white voters who will not vote for a black candidate, but there are also many white voters who would love to see an African-American in the White House.”
A question on many people's mind is what role will race play in the up coming contest? Here is more support for my previous argument in a column that Obama's race may help him rather than hurt him in the election. On the Gallup website Frank Newport informs us that, "while 6% of voters say they are less likely to vote for Barack Obama because of his race, 9% say they are more likely to vote for him, making the impact of his race a neutral to slightly positive factor when all voters' self-reported attitudes are taken into account."
Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), John Walters, is upset because videos depicting drug use are appearing on the internet. Even though a study conducted by the research firm Nielsen Online found that only 5% of the 6000 teens surveyed had seen such videos on sites like MySpace and YouTube, the Drug Czar still thinks parents should be worried enough to spy on their children.
Perhaps, Walters fears competition in the business of encouraging drug use among the nation’s youth. After all back in 2006 USA TODAY, while covering a General Accounting Office study on the program, reported that the “$1.4 billion anti-drug advertising campaign conducted by the U.S. government since 1998 does not appear to have helped reduce drug use and instead might have convinced some youths that taking illegal drugs is normal.” Also, for all the Drug Czar knows these new videos showing people high and acting stupid will actually discourage drug use.
Lastly, since a great deal of the time, effort and money spent in the government’s war on people who use certain kinds of drugs has always been directed towards demonizing and censoring those with opposing views, Walters’ statement that "Nobody's talking about censorship over the Internet here, what we're talking about is legitimate parental supervision” is likely disingenuous at best.
For those who want to take their minds off much more important matters, here
is a good description of how the Red Sox beat a great Angels team in the bottom of the ninth inning. With apologies to Yankee and Angels fans and to
my overseas friends who do not share my addiction to the Bosox.
The headline should read ADDICTION CONTINUES INDEFINITELY, NO CURE IN SIGHT.
I truly wish that I did not care if the Red Sox win or lose but I do. It is a mystery to my friends in other countries that I keep checking the news for baseball results. It is a mystery to me as to why I keep watching their games. For me and for millions of other Americans, baseball loyalties outweigh almost all others. It is plain nuts. However, there it is. I lose sleep watching them on the west coast and elsewhere. I will probably loose sleep for weeks in the future now that they have won at the first level. What fools these mortals be. There are so many more important things to worry about but there it is.
Never during my long life do I remember any economic situation as bad as the current financial meltdown. Many experts are urging a retreat from stocks into treasury bonds and into gold -- really into anything but the stock market. For some this may make much sense. For most my untutored and inexpert advice is to hold tight and to keep all of your holdings exactly where they are, including in the stock market. Of course if you happen to have some truly bad stocks get rid of them. Otherwise, hold your positions, be cautious in all actions, and wait for the amazing American economic system to come to its senses. And one other thing. If you can swing it, buy some good stock. I just did. A small number of Google shares. How can I go wrong with that?
Considering it came from a columnist for The New York Times, David Brooks’ review of Sarah Palin’s debate performance is surprisingly positive. He states that, ” She held up her end of an energetic debate that gave voters a direct look at two competing philosophies. She established debating parity with Joe Biden. And in a country that is furious with Washington, she presented herself as a radical alternative.”
Just to make the record clear and to calm my relatives and friends and readers down, I am thinking of voting for the Republican team for president but I have not made up my mind. Thinking, get it? To repeat my reasons in a nutshell: Obama and the Dems seem wishy washy on all kinds of threats, domestic and foreign. Obama keeps changing his mind on vital issues. Yet, in the first debate Obama seemed the much nicer person while McCain seemed mean and superior. In a world in which we face monsters leading nations that want to destroy us and Israel, who do you want in the Oval Office, a nice, cerebral guy who knows not of war or a mean, unblinkered SOB who has fought in a war? On this day at the end of September, not many days before we all have to vote, I am not sure of my answer. If you, my dear readers are sure, I wonder if you have weighed all the risks properly. Are you simply voting your traditional loyalties and emotions, which may have nothing to do with the cruel realties we all face now? I may end up voting my traditional values and for Obama and Loose Lips, but if they win, that may well mean the end of Israel and the end of ....?
To paraphrase Anatole France: when intellectuals do a stupid thing, it is still a stupid thing.
I know Obama doesn't have the experience. Joe Biden helped create the Drug Czar. John McCain, for all his great service to this country, is not my friend. But he is one heart attack away from turning over the country to a 1/2 term Governor who prefers weasel-wording and mockery to informed, logical discourse, whose idea of education was a degree in communications. This qualifies her to be a news anchor, not a Vice President. None of these four seem to have much respect for civil liberties or the Bill of Rights. I don't trust Bob Barr's virtual overnight conversion to respecting civil liberties. And Nader et.al. don't have a chance.
So who the Hell do I vote for? I'm thinking about it too. Which makes me and you elitists, according to the writer Harlan Ellison: "Everybody has opinions: I have them, you have them. And we are all told from the moment we open our eyes, that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Well, that’s horsepuckey, of course. We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it’s nothing."
Arnold Trebach replied:
Well said. I am still agonizing as are you apparently. Lets hope our research and reflection comes up with some good answers soon.
EDUCATED AMERICANS FOR SARAH
Here is an antidote to all the superior dissing of Palin. This is on
Steyn's web site and is a must read. I particularly liked the reaction of the lawyer who served on the Harvard Law Review, including some time with His Eminence, and as a result has switched parties from Dems to Repub. He intends to vote for McCain-Palin largely because of Palin. As for me, I often find Harvard lawyers a bit too precious for common words. A few examples below:
Bryan P. Jones wrote: "As Sarah said about Harry Reid's 'can't stand John McCain' being the best endorsement possible, I cannot think of better endorsements than irrelevant Canadian and snotty Euro-lib women also hating her. She is getting more perfect by the minute!"
Ezra Marsh wrote: "Our elitist media (honorable mention here to David Frum) provide a reminder that certain friends alleviate the need for enemies. If any of these media dunderheads worked for the DNC, Howard Dean would have fired them by now. 'Let's diss hockey moms!' 'No, let's diss soccer moms!' 'No, let's diss women in general!' 'Let's diss small towns, people who devote their evenings to PTA meetings, hunters, gun owners, Alaskans!' 'Let's diss special needs kids!' But poor Howard can't fire them, he can't advise them and he can't control them, so all he can do is sit with his hands folded while they drive the Democrats' experiment in participatory busing right off the cliff."
Jerry Cline wrote: "I was a Ron Paul supporter with little enthusiasm for McCain - until Palin. I was once a 'downscale' white person, the son of a Teamster. I'm now an 'educated white voter' and will be casting my vote for Palin in November."
After citing this modified William F.Buckley quote: "I would rather be governed by the first 500* names in the Wasilla, AK phone book than by the editors of The Harvard Law Review."
Joe S. from Toronto wrote: "I couldn't agree more. While I never have been to Alaska, I was an editor of the Harvard Law Review (overlapping His Eminence himself for a short time). All I can say is it's hard to imagine how the good citizens of Wasilla (including the children) could be less mature or more lacking in judgment than that self-revering collection of resume builders. I came to Harvard a Democrat; having the experience of being governed, literally, by the editors of the Law Review, I haven't voted for their ilk again."
Missouri Governor Matt Blunt is accusing the Obama Campaign as well as “St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Senator Claire McCaskill" of having a plan to use law enforcement to intimidate critics of the Democratic presidential candidate.
MY VIEW OF THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE WAS ON THE ISSUE NOT DISCUSSED
On the whole I thought both candidates did quite well and I would rate the debate, which just finished, a draw. In that case, since McCain probably is behind in the polls, it must be rated a narrow victory for Obama. Yet, my main attention was not on the issues under discussion. My age and memory came into play. During the fifties and sixties I can remember being in the South and protesting racial bigotry which was often backed up by violence. As a federal civil rights offical I often investigated violent actions that stopped Negroes from exercising their civil rights. During 1962, I was in Mississippi on a federal investigation while federal troops were in Oxford, not far away, to put down the riots that ensued because one black man was about to be enrolled in Ole Miss. Violence and fear dominated those areas.
Then I sat there tonight and watched a black man up on the stage debating a white man in an auditorium at Ole Miss and there was a large mixed black and white crowd in attendance. The black man may well be the next president of the United States. And it was all peaceful! When I say that we have made enormous progress in this country and that we are in a post-racial era, the event tonight proved it once again. That is true whether or not the black candidate wins. It was all civilized and peaceful and decent. And in the best traditions of democracy. That is what kept flashing through this old mind and memory. We all should be proud.
Hello again, Arnold . Just revisited your website. Very even-handed of you to print Suzannah Sloan’s comment. But I have read, re-read, and re-re-read the last two sentences of your essay: "If I vote for McCain it will not be because of Obama's race but for many other reasons based upon objective analysis. That, I assure you, is not racial bigotry."
What part of this didn’t she understand? I wish that she had been kind enough to enumerate your “code words,” as she says, because even after two degrees in English, 6 years of college-level teaching, 5 years in trade-magazine journalism, and 20-plus years in technical and corporate print communications, I don’t have a damned clue what she’s talking about.
I fear that BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) has morphed into ODS. The derangement of Obama’s opponents, some of whom appear to believe that he’s the Antichrist, is exceeded only by that of his acolytes, for whom anything short of a hosanna is prima facie evidence of bigotry. That derangement blinds them to the simple truth of your comments today about last night’s debate. Best wishes.
A SAUDI CIVIL RIGHTS CENTER
I feel so stupid and ignorant. I never heard of this organziation right here a few miles from me. Wow. Talk about courage. I will pay attention to their work from now on. Everyone should.
The following essay was published by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
By Arnold Trebach
Now that Barack Obama is slipping somewhat in the polls the cry has gone out in the land that if indeed he is defeated, it will be the result of racial bigotry.
CNN's Jack Cafferty summed up the thinking of many when he observed that the differences between the two candidates could not be better defined: "Obama wants to change Washington. McCain is a part of Washington and a part of the Bush legacy. Yet the polls remain close. Doesn't make sense ... Unless it's race." Read "racial bigotry." Michael Grunwald of Time magazine agreed and said race is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about.
However, I want to talk about it. To get to the bottom line right now, all of those doomsayers are wrong on many counts.
Remember that Obama has not been defeated as yet and the odds remain that he won't be. He is an incredibly talented speaker with a wonderful resume. He won a grueling primary victory over Hillary Clinton through the votes of millions of Americans, most of whom will show up on Nov. 4.
Yet, there is no doubt that racial bigotry will play a role in the final result and that multitudes of people will vote against him simply because he is an African-American. On the other hand, there are other multitudes who will vote for him precisely because of his race. Those positively inclined multitudes are composed of at least two major groups.
The first major group would be the blacks who view his candidacy as a vindication of centuries of abuse and as a matter of healing grievous wounds that still fester in the hearts and souls of the black experience in this country. The second major group is composed of whites, mainly liberals, who believe that this nation must demonstrate to the world that America has put its bigoted past behind it and welcomes with open arms its first nonwhite chief executive.
Those positively inclined voters greatly outnumber the bigots. If they did not, how did Obama create that tsunami of votes that swept him into the nomination? That tsunami of nonbigoted voters demonstrated something that is yet another elephant in the room that nobody wants to discuss.
We have to face the happy fact that America has evolved into a largely post-racial society. This positive fact runs counter to the standard victim catechism spouted by liberal university professors, such as Cornel West at Princeton, my alma mater, and by many racial entrepreneurs, such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
The fact that Obama won the Democratic nomination in a fair and open election proves my point. If he fails to win the final election, this will not disprove my argument that this country is in a post-racial era. What would his defeat prove? It would demonstrate primarily that millions of people, for whatever their reasons, were convinced that he was not the best person for the job or that they liked the other candidates better.
I suspect that my own angst about voting for him is characteristic of many other voters who have not made up their minds. Never, in a long and happy life, have I ever, drunk or sober, voted for a Republican presidential candidate.
Yet, I am thinking of doing so now because I believe that the nation is in such danger from Islamic extremists and from national leaders who encourage them, especially Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and also the leaders of Saudi Arabia. I want a tough leader in the Oval Office to confront them and their ilk, such as Vladimir Putin of Russia and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Moreover, I want an American leader committed to the survival of Israel, our major ally in the world.
John McCain seems the toughest of all four candidates. The Democrats and Obama leave me wondering if they have the guts to face the political monsters of the world. I suspect that McCain, even with a naïve vice president at his side, is more likely than Obama to courageously confront the great threats facing our nation. If I vote for McCain it will not be because of Obama's race but for many other reasons based upon objective analysis. That, I assure, you is not racial bigotry.
The comments of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s readers can be viewed here.
I saw it in the PI, and also saw the “comments of a different nature.” That’s what you get for not following the official party line, Arnold !
Those comments stimulated me to search (fruitlessly) for your email on the AU and SPA sites, since I didn’t want my brief comment to get buried in the diatribes on the PI. But your website of course came right up on google.
Christopher Hitchens made a point similar to yours in an essay earlier this year.
His final paragraph: "I shall not vote for Sen. Obama and it will not be because he -- like me and like all of us -- carries African genes. And I shall not be voting for Mrs. Clinton, who has the gall to inform me after a career of overweening entitlement that there is "a double standard" at work for women in politics; and I assure you now that this decision of mine has only to do with the content of her character. We will know that we have put this behind us when -- as with the vowel -- we have outgrown and forgotten the original prejudice." The full essay can be found here.
Thanks again for your essay. As far as those other comments go, Non illegitimati carborundum!
Suzannah Sloan sent this comment:
If your guest opinion in a recent issue of the Seattle P-I shined any light on the presidential contest at all, it made very clear that race will indeed be a determining factor in the election. You have never voted for a Republican, but you might vote for McCain because he would courageously confront the great threats facing our nation? Give the world a break! Do you think we’re stupid? Do you think we don’t recognize code words? Do you think we need you to enable us?
I am a lifelong moderate Republican who cares so much about my country that I am for the first time in my long and happy life voting for a Democrat. Why? Because I don’t want that undereducated senile hothead (or a dimwitted neophyte) within ten miles of the nuclear button. The last eight years have been painful enough, and I am ashamed to have played even my small part in allowing them to happen. I want a cool head running things for a change.
Only a bigot would make the statements you made. Only a bigot would put this country at enormous risk by elevating an unstable, flip-flopping idiot to the position of dealing with state leaders. You, sir, are most definitely a racial bigot. It’s time to stand up like a man and admit it.
PERHAPS SARAH IS NOT SUCH A LIGHTWEIGHT BIMBO AFTER ALL
It would seem that Gov. Palin has learned a few things about international
politics in the last few weeks. It also seems that she knows how to at
least make the right sounds when it comes to the monsters that threaten the
world. She certainly sounds tougher than many Democrats and much like
McCain. Is this just sound and fury meaning nothing or... ?
A study undertaken by the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City, Mo., the Federation of State Medical Boards and the National Association of State Attorneys General has been published in the journal Pain Medicine. It claims that the government’s war on doctors who prescribe opiate based pain relief is an illusion .They base their conclusion on data which shows that between 1998 and 2006 the number of doctors prosecuted or sanctioned by state medical boards for over prescribing narcotics was 725 or 0.1 percent of all physicians. The study asserted that, “the widely publicized chilling effect of physician prosecution on physicians concerned with legal scrutiny over prescribing opioids appears disproportionate to the relatively few cases.”
Much of my work over the past 35 years has dealt with examples of the bad effect that the threat of criminal prosecution has on doctor's willingness to prescribe pain medications. This applies to my books, articles, and consulting work in the defense of doctors wrongly accused of mis-prescribing. Clearly, the purpose of the government’s campaign against the prescription of pain relief is not to put doctors in prison but rather to be in charge of their practice of medicine.
Indeed, The New York Timesarticle reporting the study includes information calling the findings into significant question. First off the, “study’s authors acknowledged that their review, while extensive, did not account for prosecutions against doctors brought by state and local law enforcement officials.” This is a serious omission, as Cato’s Radley Balko has pointed out that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has been a partner with state and local law enforcement. While the federal effort has been extensive it is only part of the endeavor He also argues that doctors are an easier target for law enforcement and that many physicians have been subject asset forfeiture before they even come to trial. None of these instances of punishment are covered by the new study.
Additionally, one of the study’s authors, Dr. Scott M. Fishman a pain specialist and professor at the University of California, Davis, reveals that arrest is not the only method of control. He tells us that “one has to temper the interpretation of the data with all the other phenomenon of how physicians perceive the heat of regulators. Most of us have had visits from the D.E.A., and I can tell you that it can be a scary thing.”
Sadly, it seems the campaign has been successful despite what the above study says. Doctor’s offices now display signs announcing that no OxyContin is prescribed here. The Village Voicereports that medical schools now, “advise students not to choose pain management as a career because the field is too fraught with potential legal dangers.” And, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has advised its members not to prescribe opiate based drugs.
While what has been done to physicians is appalling, we also should take a moment to consider their patients. The Village Voice essay quotes a women suffering from the aftermath of a broken back and unsuccessful surgeries. She says “You worry every day that the medicine won't be available for much longer, or your doctor won't be there tomorrow because he's been arrested by the DEA." From her perspective the new study is deceptive at best.
Sadly, Charles Whitebread, respected legal scholar and one of the foremost authorities on the history of marijuana, has passed away. He co-authored The Marihuana Conviction perhaps the most comprehensive history of marijuana prohibition in the United States, A tireless advocate of marijuana law reform Whitebread wrote, ”Law may be rooted in fiction as well as fact. Indeed, a public policy conceived in ignorance may be continuously reaffirmed, ever more vehemently, so long as its origins remain obscure or its fallacy unexposed." His wit, insight, and dedication will be sorely missed.
AN INSPIRATIONAL LESSON FOR THE KIDS AND FOR ALL OF US: LESTER'S NO HITTER
In the midst of all the awful news and predictions of doom in the world, it
is good to stop periodically and look backwards a bit and at something other than war and elections. Yes, the Boston Red Sox and any other team that catches your attention. Lester was a young player who came down with a bout of cancer, recovered, and within two years had done the impossible. He
pitched a no hitter in Fenway Park. When anyone is down, or pessimistic, think of that amazing accomplishment, even if you are a Yankee fan. Watch the last out and the reaction of his team mates especially his boss, Coach Terry Francona. All of you can do the impossible.
Yes, I agree with Melanie. Most of the American Jews I know would indeed
vote for Caligula's horse if it were a candidate of the Democratic Party.
Same for most of the non-Jews I know. Liberals! I may end up voting for His
Holiness from Harvard but not because I hate the other party's candidates.
And it will be a reluctant vote because I truly believe that the Republican
ticket will be tougher on the monsters of the world while His Holiness
will...? What? Nobody can be sure because his position on everything
important keeps changing.
Carlos Alberto Montaner, an advisor for the Center on Global Prosperity and President of Firmas Press, in an excellent article is arguing that the after effects of Hurricane Gustav in Cuba are likely to persist for decades. Cuba is especially vulnerable to these huge storms and was hit by hurricanes more severe than Gustav in 1926, 1932, and 1944. In all of these cases recovery from the storms occurred within six months. However, forty-five years ago, after Castro took power, Hurricane Flora hit the island and Cuba still has not recuperated from that storm. People who lost their homes then are still living in “temporary” shelters.
Montaner explains the disparity by stating that, “in the highly state-driven socialist societies (legendarily unproductive, all of them), there is only one center with a supply of resources (notoriously limited, always) that is capable of making decisions and executing them. That generates a chain of arbitrariness, corruption, and inefficiency that often translates into a creeping paralysis of the recovery process. Simply put, the functionaries who make the decisions are not the victims themselves but an intricate skein of apathetic bureaucrats who couldn’t care less if a house or a bridge is rebuilt because their responsibility-in the best of cases-is to parsimoniously distribute the few resources that have been assigned to them.”
Gustav destroyed agri-businesses, bridges, schools, and 100,000 houses leaving half a million people without a roof over their heads. These individuals originally victims of a hurricane will now continue be victims of Cuba’s socialist economic system.
Here is an astounding fact; seven years after 9-11 many FBI agents still do not have access to the internet at their desks! L. Gordon Crovitz discusses this situation in the pages of The Wall Street Journal. After pointing out that our government is still devoted to old style enormous IT projects he concludes that, ”remembering 9/11 means remembering the losses of that day, but it also means remembering what went wrong to allow it to happen. No intelligence system can work all the time, but the government still has a lot to learn from Silicon Valley about how information flows best and how technology can help turn facts into knowledge. A war based on information should be a war fought on our terms, if we can become more intelligent about intelligence.”
Recently, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has become the darling of both Democrats, Joe Biden has called for giving him another billion dollars of the tax payers’ money, Republicans, John McCain’s top foreign policy advisor was a paid lobbyist for him, and perhaps most importantly the main stream media, most of whom accept uncritically just about everything he says. Now would be a good time to remember that at one time Saddam Hussein received the same kind of treatment, esteem, and billions, from the same parties and information sources.
The two leaders, Saakashvili and Hussein, certainly seem to share many of the same ideas about governing. Neither would tolerate a free press or peaceful demonstrations and both have used a brutal prison system, inclined towards torture, to secure power. In The Jewish Daily Forward Kathleen Peratis calls into question the keystone of the mass media’s narrative, that Georgia is a Democracy. She reports that, “in response to these events, Saakashvili called a snap election for January 2008, which the opposition alleges he stole through voter intimidation and media dominance.”
We must ask ourselves are the aims of Saakashvili, who committed the first acts of violence in this latest confrontation, really worth restarting the Cold War? Do we seriously want our children to be subject to duck and cover drills again and to live every day with the knowledge and fear that the world could be destroyed at any instant?
Syndicated columnist Amy Goodman, who is also host of the news program Democracy Now, is a legitimate reporter and she was covering a legitimate story, the protests outside the Republican National Convention, when she was arrested. Goodman found herself in custody because she had the temerity to take issue with the barbaric treatment, by the police, of her credentialed Democracy Now producers. While covering the protests, “Nicole was videotaping. Her tape of her own violent arrest is chilling. Police in riot gear charged her, yelling, "Get down on your face." You hear her voice, clearly and repeatedly announcing "Press! Press! Where are we supposed to go?" She was trapped between parked cars. The camera drops to the pavement amidst Nicole's screams of pain. Her face was smashed into the pavement, and she was bleeding from the nose, with the heavy officer with a boot or knee on her back. Another officer was pulling on her leg. Sharif was thrown up against the wall and kicked in the chest, and he was bleeding from his arm.” The most disturbing aspects of this case is that police suppression of our basic rights has become so commonplace and that they are so seldom held accountable for their intimidating and violent behavior.
ANDREW SULLIVAN SEEMS TO HAVE LOST HIS SENSE OF PERSPECTIVE
I used to love reading Sullivan's constant daily comments. I just looked over what he has to say about Sarah Palin and the Republicans. As one who has never voted for a Republican president, I can understand where he is coming from but this goes from bile to bile to bigotry to something close to hate. Is there not one iota of good that can be said about Palin and McCain? That is, said by Sullivan. He is not the man I have admired for years. Totally around the bend. Again, close to pure hate.
It is so great to receive mail that makes you feel that there are truly good people out there in the world. This one was sent to me by the Friendship Hospital for Animals,and and asks that we name the mine sniffing dog they have adopted. Again, how wonderful. Full Disclosure: the good, decent man who directs the hospital is a dear friend and so this does not surprise me.
The MLI has provided over 100 mine detection dogs to more than a dozen war torn countries around the world. The dogs that they train and place in these countries have saved thousands of lives and have a remarkable record of safety and success.
All dogs have the incredible ability to detect landmines by "sniffing out" the explosives contained in these devices. Certain dogs - like MLI mine detection dogs - are trained to locate the mine and then sit still, stay safe, and alert their human partner to mark the spot. This ensures that the mine can be removed or destroyed safely.
MLI Dogs live with a "host" family in their country of service and are viewed as heroes of their communities for rendering land safe and returning it to productive use. They lead wonderful lives providing an invaluable service to the people with whom they live.Though no one solution exists for the global landmine epidemic, these dogs are today the most efficient and effective tool for detecting mines in a majority of affected countries. That is why we have made the commitment to support one of these amazing dogs.
The United States Humane Society is an active partner of the Marshall Legacy, as is the US Department of State. Lisa LaFontaine, President of the Washington Humane Society, and Gary Weitzman, Executive partner of the Marshall Legacy, as is the US Department of State. Lisa LaFontaine, President of the Washington Humane Society, and Gary Weitzman, Executive Director of the Washington Animal Rescue League, will be our judges for the "name our dog" contest. Winner receives a free annual exam at Friendship (including needed vaccinations). As we do not yet know the sex of our dog, you are welcome to submit up to three male, female, or sex neutral names by clicking here. We will be announcing our winner in October.
Because you are a part of the Friendship family we wanted you know that together we are making a difference around the world. We invite you to participate in our contest and encourage you to visit the Marshall Legacy Institute web site. There you can find out more about other ways to support this great cause.
This is just one item from one UK reporter but it does fit my view that
Sarah made history last night. It was a shot heard round the world. "Simply
stunning" wrote the reporter, Fergus Shanahan. I agree, as I have already
indicated. The comments from the UK were also most fascinating.
Again, I do not know where this whole saga will end up, but the world
changed in just a few minutes. It will be interesting to see how Obama reacts to this performance during the next few weeks.
Her speech and her presence on that stage at the RNC convention was like nothing I have seen before. It really did make history for its power and its appeal. Wolf Blitzer suggested she hit a grand slam, while Pat Buchanan likened her appearance to a rookie pitcher who comes in and pitches a no-hitter. Put another way, she gave a superb speech that rocked the audience in that hall and probably around much of the country and the world. She has caused many people to rethink their position on her.
Will this euphoria last? I doubt it but the nation will long remember this, her first appearance in a major national speech.
Will this assure a Republican victory? No one can tell but this certainly makes the race more interesting and tougher than it has been for the Democrats. Her appeal to diverse constituencies could possibly push the Republicans to victory.
On balance, I still think Obama must be favored to win.
On July 8, James Glassman, Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, addressed The Washington Institute’s Special Policy Forum speaking about the importance of the “war of ideas” and a diplomacy aimed at the publics of other countries rather than just officials. In order to pursue a successful public diplomacy there is a need for adequate resources and intellectual seriousness. Glassman sees his task as providing this to next administration and he asserts that, “in fact, I am convinced that, unless we get the war of ideas right, we will never succeed in meeting the most significant threat of our time. Unless we get the war of ideas right, the safety of Americans and the future of America’s way of life will be in continuous peril.”
Glassman also argues that "the battle is going on within Muslim society that makes our role so complicated and that requires that we ourselves not do much of the fighting. The most credible voices in this war of ideas are Muslim." This space has maintaned the truth of that from the beginning.
Just yesterday I wrote that Sarah Palin was such a winning human being that
even many pro-choice as well as pro-life women would be drawn to her
magnetically. My glance at The Washington Timese-headlines in the middle of the night or early Sunday AM confirms that this prediction has proven true already. Sarah is a force of nature. Sorry for the bragging.
I did not yet mention the experience problem. And it is a problem -- and it
worries me and should worry any thoughtful voter. However, she seems so
smart and gutsy and has as much experience in foreign affairs as many other
governors, throughout our history, who ran for president and in some cases
got elected. What about that governor of Arkansas, to name just one example
in recent history?
I never heard of the lady but am impressed on a number of levels. First, I give John McCain a great deal of credit for displaying the guts and spirit to take this big chance with this relatively unknown governor. Second, she obviously has done a great job in Alaska from all that I have read and heard in the last 24 hours or so. She has pleased citizens on all sides of the political fence. At one time she had a 90 percent approval rating; now it is at 80, which apparently would make her the most popular governor in the nation. Third, she is engaging and gutsy and intelligent. Sharp as a tack on her feet.
On the other hand, she is a very conservative, pro-life, pro-gun politician.
That bothers me greatly and will do the same to millions of people.
However, her conservative credentials may well help elect John McCain. In
my view, McCain will be the toughest president of all candidates in dealing
with the monsters of the world who are leading many nations that now
threaten us. On that ground alone, I may well stomach my reservations and
vote for McCain-Palin, my first vote for a Republican president in my long
and happy life.
I also bet that many other people will come to the same conclusions. The
fact that she gave birth knowingly to a Downs Syndrome baby a few months
ago will impress -- and properly so -- multitudes of pro-choice voters, not
to speak of her natural constituency of pro-life citizens.
Obama has won many admirers because he is personally so likeable, but hold
onto your hats -- here comes another charmer!
The debate on lowering the age breaks down along lines that are very familiar to drug law reformers, with those against it taking the standard prohibition equals abstinence position. No where in his article does Schalin acknowledge that the problem of binge drinking on campus exists despite the higher age limit.
On the other hand, those who favor the initiative are making a classic harm reduction argument. For example, Robinson argues that, “the 21 year-old drinking age ties the hands of parent and places them in an untenable position. Parents who adhere to state laws are prevented from introducing young adults to alcohol in a controlled home environment, relegating initial drinking experiences to settings where there is little or no supervision or guidance and a great deal of peer pressure to experiment. Parents have two equally unattractive options: They must either ignore the reality of alcohol consumption among young people and forbid their children from drinking. Or they can break the law by serving alcohol to their under-21 children. That’s a difficult choice for responsible parents. Lowering the drinking age to 18, when young adults have not yet left home, would involve parents in the process of teaching their children how to make informed, healthy decisions about alcohol and its use. It would also mitigate (though not eliminate) the binge-drinking problem on college campuses.”
This is a gut-wrenching story for any father. I am pleased that it mentions that none of our captured soldiers in recent wars ever came back alive and are always tortured and mutilated. Why does the liberal media not spend time bemoaning that fact instead of the relatively mild discomfort imposed
on some of our own captives.
Around one hundred college presidents have signed on to the Amethyst Initiative, which calls for a national debate on lowering the drinking age. John McCardell, former president of Middlebury College in Vermont and a historian who has studied Alcohol Prohibition, started the organization. He is quoted by the Associated Press (AP) as arguing that, "this is a law that is routinely evaded. It is a law that the people at whom it is directed believe is unjust and unfair and discriminatory."
The college presidents, many from the most prestigious schools in the country, maintain that the 21 year old age limit causes a clandestine culture of binge drinking and the use of fake IDs, eroding respect for the law. They point out that alcohol education focused on abstinence has been ineffective in changing behavior and that people who are eighteen can vote, sign contracts, serve on juries, as well as enlist in the military. Then they ask how often must the lessons of Prohibition be relearned?
Predictably, before the college presidents’ public campaign has even begun, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is trying to stifle the debate. The AP tells us that MADD “accuses the presidents of misrepresenting science and looking for an easy way out of an inconvenient problem. MADD officials are even urging parents to think carefully about the safety of colleges whose presidents have signed on.”
Whenever an argument is being made for the spending of public money on sporting events the economic benefits that will accrue to the community as a whole is the foremost reason for dunning the taxpayer. This is especially true for the Olympics when civic leaders go after this prestigious event they always promise the citizens a big payday during the games. Well, as the Economistreports in the case of this year’s Beijing games not only has there been no financial windfall but normal business activity has been affected in a quite negative way.
Johann Hari, a columnist for The Independent in Britain, has written about the novel The Jewel of Medina. The book concerns the marriage of a six year old girl to the Prophet Mohammad when he was fifty. Random House was going to publish it but instead decided to pulp it and it is now gone.
Hari puts forth two reasons for the decision, fear of violence and the desire not to be labeled an Islamophobe. He then asks, where would the world be today if criticism of Christianity had been forbidden? He argues that the internal censorship, now so prevalent, with regard to Islam is pernicious and incompatible with our ideals of free expression.
Hari also contends that this imposed silence is harmful to Muslims too. He states that, “I live in the Muslim majority East End of London, and this isn't Weimar Germany. Muslims are secure enough to deal with some tough questions. It is condescending to treat Muslims like excitable children who cannot cope with the probing, mocking treatment we hand out to Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. It is perfectly consistent to protect Muslims from bigotry while challenging the bigotries and absurdities within their holy texts.”
When George Soros talks finances he makes a lot of sense. Writing about the recent bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac he points out that, "they are public/private partnerships in which the risks are borne by the public sector while profits accrue to the private sector: management and shareholders. The companies have been plagued by accounting problems and other irregularities; their managements have spent enormous sums lobbying Capitol Hill. This is not a business model that deserves to be perpetuated."
The essay is not all negative as Soros discusses the possible solution of using covered bonds. This system, created in 1795 after a fire destroyed much of Copenhagen Denmark, offers certain advantages. Soros explains that, "these mortgages are transformed into instantly tradable bonds. Cover for the bonds is provided by both the mortgages and the credit of the financial institutions issuing them. The mortgages remain on the balance sheets of the issuers, eliminating the moral hazard inherent in the US system, which is based on earning fees from selling them on to the market."
WHAT IS A RATIONAL POLICY FOR DEALING WITH MUSLIM OFFICIALS IN WESTERN GOVERNMENTS?
Even to talk about this issue makes me, an old so-called liberal and a
former federal civil rights official, very, very uncomfortable. I have
discussed that state of discomfort many times in past writings and speeches.
However, we must come up with some policy that makes sense, that protects
the rights of people of all religions, and that preserves great Western
traditions. Yet, every time I read about the extent of radical Muslim
penetration of Western police and intelligence agencies I worry that we are
unable to face certain uncomfortable truths. Here is the latest on this matter from Daniel Pipes. How far off base is he in recommending that Muslim officials be subjected to extra scrutiny?
At times I am amazed at the stories I keep discovering of how we in this wonderfully free country abuse so many of our children in the name of saving them from a whole variety of perceived evils. Usually it is drugs, but often it can be sex, or the wrong type of religion. Here is yet another story of abuse in the form of a new book by Michele Ulriksen.
The apt caption under this short video reads “the great Wafa Sultan speaks truth to power.” In it she states that she was born with certain capabilities and she thanks America for allowing her to employ these capabilities, which would not have been possible if she had continued to live under Sharia law. She also points out that Sharia law is fundamentally incompatible with the principles that underlie our Constitution.
For many years the Kennedy family has represented a vision of a better America, Camelot if you will. So it should come as no surprise that when Senator Ted Kennedy, who has been battling a brain tumor, returned to cast a vote on Medicare legislation he received an enthusiastic standing ovation from his colleagues. An icon is back at work.
Over the past months I have often gone back and forth in my assessment of Barack Obama, and just recently posted a satirical item about him. Many aspects of his background and policies bother me immensely. (How in the name of all that is holy did he stay with that bigoted nutcase of a preacher for 20 years?) On the other hand, I have often stated how much I admired him and how proud I was that my country seemed about to elect a minority person to the highest office in the land, indeed in the world. Here is a mainly positive take on the man.
It is based primarily on my watching his recent press conference with Prime Minister Sarkozy of France and his solo appearance on Meet The Press, hosted by Tom Brokaw. In both appearances he showed just how intelligent, articulate, well-briefed, and confident he was in a tough situation where there were no cue cards. He was on his own on the world stage and he handled himself wonderfully. This is a gutsy guy who knows the issues and was not cowed by questions from reporters or by Brokaw's sometimes tough questioning. He did not bumble once -- that I saw -- unlike W or McCain, who often look like deer caught in headlights when hit with an unexpected tough question
Moreover, his recent flip-flopping on some keys issues may in the end be a blessing. It may well mean that he is ready to adjust his lofty rhetoric to deal with the realities brought to him by his aides. Two big issues that he must face more vigorously are Iran and black crime. I worry that he will use only vapid rhetoric to deal with them, but this guy is brilliant and gutsy -- and perhaps when he confronts the cold realities of each, he will respond well from the Oval Office. I do not propose nuking Tehran nor do I advocate locking up more black males, but President Obama must come up with some brilliant new approaches to deal with both.
I may add that we all should pray that this positive assessment is borne out by future history, especially within the first few months when he is in office.
The Christian Science Monitoris reporting that a former high ranking State Department official, Thomas Schweich, has asserted that, “Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been stymieing US anti-opium efforts in southern Afghanistan, as many of his political supporters are amassing wealth through the drug trade.” Mr. Schweich makes his accusation in an article published in the Sunday New York Times Magazine titled Is Afghanistan a Narco-State? arguing that, “the trouble is that the fighting is unlikely to end as long as the Taliban can finance themselves through drugs - and as long as the Kabul government is dependent on opium to sustain its own hold on power.” This poses a problem in that the U.S. government, as was demonstrated in Fatal Distraction: The War on Drugs in the Age of Islamic Terror, must choose between its devotion to drug prohibition and its devotion to ending terrorism. These two goals are clearly in conflict here because Taliban funding depends on the drug being illegal.
It was good to see in this CSM article that extensive coverage was given to the remarks of our colleague David Borden who argued that perhaps the actions of President Karzai showed that he was neither evil nor crazy, maybe he just knows that, ”eradication doesn't work, it drives farmers into the hands of the Taliban, security has to come first, you can't just tell a hundred thousand people in the world's fifth poorest nation to give up their primary income source with no viable replacement.”
The Economist has published a comprehensive and balanced special report on the present state of Al-Qaeda. There are seven articles and a sources section in the assessment which is decidedly mixed. In the first article the tone is set with this paragraph, which argues that, “Nearly seven years into America’s ‘global war on terror’, the result remains inconclusive. Al-Qaeda lost a safe haven in Afghanistan, but is rebuilding another one in Pakistan; Mr bin Laden is at large, but Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who masterminded September 11th, has gone on trial in Guantánamo Bay; many leaders have been captured or killed, but others have taken their place; al-Qaeda faces an ideological backlash, but young Muslims still volunteer to blow themselves up.”
Besides a general evaluation the articles cover a wide range of specific topics including the geographic disposition of Al-Qaeda, formation of Muslim public opinion, Europe as a battlefield, U.S. counter actions, measures taken by Saudi Arabia, and the self-destructive nature of Al-Qaeda.
One of the U.S. Navy’s newest vessels, the U.S.S. New York LPD 21, is being constructed with steel salvaged from the destroyed World Trade Center. While it has been suggested that this story is another urban legend, Navy.milhas reported that the shipyard is indeed using such symbolic material. They told us back in 2003 that “steel salvaged from the World Trade Center (WTC) wreckage will be used to build New York. The steel was recently shipped to Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, Miss., and will ultimately be transported to its Avondale Operations shipyard in New Orleans, where the ship will be built.”
Here is the text of an e-mail that is being circulated about the ship: USS New York
It was built with 24 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center.
It is the fifth in a new class of warship - designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists. It will carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft.
Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, LA to cast the ship's bow section. When it was poured into the molds on Sept 9, 2003, 'those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence,' recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who was there. 'It was a spiritual moment for everybody there.'
Junior Chavers, foundry operations manager, said that when the trade center steel first arrived, he touched it with his hand and the 'hair on my neck stood up.' 'It had a big meaning to it for all of us,' he said. 'They knocked us down. They can't keep us down. We're going to be back.'
July 21, 2008 HUMANITARITARIAN CRISIS, BLAMING THE WRONG SIDE
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer provided a good example of mainstream media bias against Israel when it published an article by Bill Dienst, a rural family and emergency room physician from Omak, who writes about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. In the information about the author there is link to a website which makes clear his bias.
According to Dienst the fault lies entirely with Israel and of course there is no mention in his essay of the fact that the elected Hamas government denies Israel the right to exist, the fact that rocket barrages aimed at Israeli towns are launched from Gaza on a regular basis, or the fact that the Egyptians could mitigate any crisis by opening their own closed border with Gaza.
The purpose of his piece is to promote a relief project sponsored by the Free Gaza Movement involving two ships sailing from Cyprus to Gaza with relief supplies. Dienst suggests that, “it is possible that we will have an uneventful trip, where minimal medical assistance is needed. However, it could happen that Israeli forces block our passage, or even attack us.” The former is far more likely than the latter because the Israeli government’s actions are not motivated by “Israel's desire to make Gazans as miserable, and therefore submissive, as possible,” as Dienst asserts, but rather by a desire for self-preservation.
One of the true stalwarts of the drug policy reform movement is Dave Borden, Executive Director of StoptheDrugWar.org, and he is also a skilled debater. You can see for yourselves as on the occasion of the UN’s annual International Anti-Drugs Day he debated Deirdre Boyd, CEO of the London based Addiction Recovery Foundation. The program was carried on Press TV and hosted by Shahab Mossavat from Tehran of all places.
One of the most insidious aspects of drug prohibition is the tendency of its tactics to spread to other areas and issues. Take for example Morse et al. v. Frederick, the famous Bong Hits 4 Jesus case, where the Supreme Court allowed school administrators to punish a student for displaying a banner with that saying on it. They did this even though the student was not on school property. It is difficult to believe that the ruling would have been the same if the banner had said Save the Whales or even Lower Taxes Now. Once again a drug war exception to the Constitution was carved out.
Well, as Frank D. LoMonte, an attorney and executive director of the Student Press Law Center, informs us, the above case is now being used to further restrict the 1st Amendment rights of students. Citing a case in Pennsylvania and one in Connecticut where a student created a Blog on her own computer at home, Lo Monte asserts that school administrators, “are asking courts to declare that a high school student has no protected First Amendment right to speak or write about the school -- even off school property and on personal time -- if the student can anticipate that the speech will provoke controversy at the school.” Of course the speech they are trying to eliminate is any criticism of themselves and because of a drug war precedent they may well succeed.
July 14, 2008 NOT EVERYONE WILL ALLOW THEMSELVES TO BE CENSORED
In the commentary section of The Washington Times Frank Gaffney Jr. asks us to “try a little thought experiment. What would have happened in this country during the Cold War if the Soviet Union successfully neutralized anti-communists opposed to the Kremlin's plans for world domination?” He then goes to explain that is precisely what the Islamists are attempting to do and that they are having an alarming amount of success in this endeavor.
Gaffney offers evidence including a UN resolution by the 57 Muslim-state Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) forbidding criticism of Islam, Jordan’s attempt to prosecute Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders for his film Fitna, and the fact that officials in Britain, Canada, and the United States are refusing to acknowledge the true threat of Shariah law. When we take into account the craven response of the Western press to the Danish cartoon controversy and the fear rampant in Western business circles of failing to practice "Shariah Compliant Finance", it is clear that there is a great deal of censorship taking place.
One person who will absolutely not be muzzled is British comedian Pat Condell. His original website is headlined with “Faith Hope and Sanity: A few jokes about RELIGION before it kills us all” and he has a must see video More demands from Islam that presents a devastating attack on the Islamist presumption that they can tell us what to say and what to think. In it Condell makes the important point that, “there is no dialogue with radical Islam. It does not want to be agreed with, it wants to be obeyed.”
July 12, 2008 WE CAN FORGIVE JESSE HIS CRUDE COMMENT BUT NOT THE CONTENT OF HIS POLICY POSITION
The crudity of his comment about Obama is really not that important but what truly is indeed important is that Jackson is upset with our presumptive new president because he is allegedly talking down to black people. Yet, Mr. Obama was simply taking the same position that Bill Cosby did and that other honest black opinion leaders have taken, to wit: take responsibility for your own actions and personally correct your own moral and ethical shortcomings. Victims no more! Yet, Reverend Jackson wants to continue the demeaning victim culture of too many blacks and puts most of the blame for black misbehavior on the government. A sharply worded rebuke to that line of thinking, by Ben Johnson, just appeared in FrontPage Magazine. In my view it goes too far and blames the left in totally blanket terms but it contains enough good points to be worth the read.
July 11, 2008 IT IS NOT GOOD TO READ ABOUT AN IMMINENT MAJOR WAR EARLY IN THE MORNING BUT I JUST DID
The news is not good because it is becoming clearer with each passing day
that (1) Israel's leaders truly believe that their country's existence is at
stake now, this morning; (2) a new President Obama will not support a strike
on Iran; (3) as the former head of German intelligence said the only thing
worse than an Israeli strike on Iran is Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb; and
(4) an Israeli attack on Iran, very likely with US support, seems almost
certain in the weeks ahead. If there is an alternative scenario I wish I
could understand what it is. Read here what the newsletter of a Christian
Zionist group has to say on this matter. Are they wrong?
Because the mainstream media so seldom discusses issues surrounding drug use in a serious balanced way, a very valuable resource for understanding the unfair, ineffective, and destructive nature of drug prohibition is The Drug Truth Network (DTN) based in Houston at KPFT radio. The network features interviews with a wide range of voices that support drug law reform including myself. Dean Becker of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (L.E.A.P.) interviewed me July 2nd and you can listen to it here or read the transcript here. I also appeared last August and you can hear the audio here.
In an essay published by the Los Angles Times the always eloquent Judge James P. Gray, author of Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed: A Judicial Indictment Of War On Drugs, and lawyer David W. Fleming, the chairman of the Los Angeles County Business Federation and immediate past chairman of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, delineate who wins and who loses when it comes to the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs. They list six categories of winners; drug lords in the producing countries, street gangs here at home, the bureaucrats who administer drug prohibition, politicians who use fear of drugs to win election, those such as prison guards who benefit from increased crime, and the worldwide network of terrorists. The losers are everyone else.
They conclude with the assertion that, “the mission of the criminal justice system should always be to protect us from one another and not from ourselves. That means that drug users who drive a motor vehicle or commit other crimes while under the influence of these drugs would continue to be held criminally responsible for their actions, with strict penalties. But that said, the system should not be used to protect us from ourselves. Ending drug prohibition, taxing and regulating drugs and spending tax dollars to treat addiction and dependency are the approaches that many of the world's industrialized countries are taking. Those approaches are ones that work.”
A student in a class on the history of drugs was asked the following two questions; “Do more arrests and more people in prison necessarily lead to less drug use? Also, does a policy producing fewer arrests and less people in prison necessarily lead to more drug use?” Last week the World Health Organization (WHO) answered both queries with a resounding no.
Ever since the Progressive Era the United States government has pursued a policy relying primarily on punishment to curb drug abuse, with abuse and use being considered largely synonymous. While the program has always been a mixture of state coercion and drug treatment, the bulk of the funding has gone into maintaining prohibition. As a result, this country has a racially biased overcrowded prison system on the verge of collapse. We have a law enforcement system employing often very brutal tactics which accomplish very little in way of ending drug use. Our medical system is denying people in pain the medication they need to ease their suffering. And, the nation’s economic system must come up with billions of dollars each year to pay for this activity.
We are told these sacrifices are necessary to keep drugs in check but what do we really get for our money and our pain? Well, U.S. News and World Report, writing about research done by the WHO, tells us that the United States has “the highest percentage of people who reported using marijuana or cocaine at least once in their lives.” We have achieved this distinction despite the fact that many other countries have much more liberal and humane policies than us. Writing on AlterNetBruce Mirken argues that this study shows the punitive approach to be ineffective and that the people in charge of the policy know this. Mirken quotes the WHO researchers; "The U.S., which has been driving much of the world's drug research and drug policy agenda, stands out with higher levels of use of alcohol, cocaine, and cannabis, despite punitive illegal drug policies. ... The Netherlands, with a less criminally punitive approach to cannabis use than the US, has experienced lower levels of use, particularly among younger adults. Clearly, by itself, a punitive policy towards possession and use accounts for limited variation in nation level rates of illegal drug use."
July 7, 2008 THE CURRENT ABSURDITY OF SOME RACIAL DISCRIMINATION CHARGES
Because I dealt with true, gut-wrenching, violent racial discrimination and
because I fought it for years wherever I confronted it, I find some of the current
allegations of racial discrimination are truly ludicrous and also damaging
to common sense. Take a look at the latest absurdity from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI), with thanks to the WSJ editorial page.
July 2, 2008 AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE ON DRUG CONTROL
On its homepage the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) describes itself as “a global network of national and international NGOs that specialise in issues related to illegal and legal drug use. We have come together to pool our knowledge and contacts to advocate for more humane and effective drug policies at national and international level. This website contains details of our work, and provides easy access to a wide range of drug policy reports and events produced by the IDPC, our members, and related organizations.”
The organization is producing a wide range of valuable material including detailed reports on supply reduction as well as demand reduction, and crop eradication. Their other activities include organizing workshops, putting on conferences and publishing a newsletter. You can receive a bi-monthly e-mail alert by subscribing on the lower right side of the front page.
What follows is a portion of a lecture prepared by Keith Halderman for his online course titled The History of Drugs in America:
The most important development in drug policy from the 1990s to the present is the rise of an energetic organized opposition to the government’s program. Much of the energy and expertise can be credited to The Drug Policy Foundation (DPF) founded in 1986 by Arnold Trebach. This organization put on conferences, funded other peoples’ work and helped educate a multitude of reformers who went on to start other advocacy groups. The DPF provided a crucial space for people to meet in and exchange ideas.
In 1997 the DPF published a mission statement which outlined four areas of main concern:
- harm reduction-policies that help drug users to help themselves, such as needle-exchange programs, which can lower the risk of spreading deadly diseases like HIV/AIDS
- decriminalization-selectively enforcing the laws on the books to focus on major drug offenders, as in Holland
- medicalization-allowing doctors to prescribe otherwise illegal drugs to patients under certain conditions, as is the case now in Arizona and California, or allowing doctors to maintain an addict (on the drug to which the person is addicted), as in Great Britain and Switzerland
- legalization-making drugs available to adults in a regulated market, similar to U.S. alcohol laws.
(Drug Policy Foundation Website, September 28, 1997)
However, most of the reform organizations tended to concentrate on one issue. One of the earliest issue oriented associations was the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) which began its work in the 1970s. In the wake of the Schaffer Commission Report they achieved a great deal of success by reducing criminal penalties regarding marijuana violations in a number of states and the decriminalization of marijuana possession in Oregon and Alaska. Later, also with help from the DPF, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) came into being as an advocacy group favoring repeal of marijuana prohibition. MPP tends to concentrate on traditional lobbying activities with special emphasis on medical marijuana.
In 1996 the reform movement had one of its greatest successes when the voters of California passed Proposition 215, a referendum legalizing marijuana for medical use. The win came about through the efforts of a number of reform groups and set an example for activists in many other states. Since then medical marijuana has been the focal point of a great deal of activity bringing new organizations such as American for Safe Access into the fray.
Even though during 2005 the Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Raich ruled that federal law trumped state laws regarding medical marijuana, other states continue to follow California’s lead. The issue remains play in various locations most of the time, although not without controversy within the movement. Many libertarian oriented reformers view medical marijuana as an obstacle to the more important goal of the legalization of marijuana for all users.
Another issue came to the forefront in 1998 when Congress amended the Higher Education Act denying federal student aide and loans to those with drug convictions. The new law inspired the formation of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). The organization grew very quickly and now has chapters on campuses all over the country. They of course focus on changing the HEA and have achieved limited success with a scale back in 2005. They are also working on issues surrounding government anti-drug ads, drug education, and student rights to privacy.
Another relatively new group entering the reform movement is the police. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) produces material and sends out ex-officers as speakers nationwide to urge reform. Because of their expertise in the actuality of drug prohibition LEAP members produce some very powerful reasons for ending the drug war. In that they join literally hundreds of state and local organizations striving for reform on a multitude of drug related issues.
Answering a 217-year old constitutional question, the Supreme Court ruled last Thursday that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to have a gun in one’s home. The Court, 5-4, struck down a District of Columbia ban on handgun possession. Although times have changed since 1791, Justice Antonin Scalia said for the majority, "it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct."
Examining the words of the Amendment, the Court concluded "we find they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation". "The inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right," it added.
In a recent Washington Post poll, 72 percent of all Americans said they believe individuals have gun rights under the Second Amendment,
But 58 percent in that national poll supported a D.C.-like ban on private handguns and trigger lock requirements; 38 percent opposed those restrictions. (In a January Post poll in the District itself, even more, 76 percent, favored the law, including 60 percent who said they were "strongly" behind the city ordinance.
June 29, 2008 MORE REFLECTIONS ON THE IRANIAN DRUG CONTROL SITUATION
I am interrupting a quiet Sunday on Cape Cod to offer a few more reflections
on the latest reports on what is happening in Iran regarding drug use and control. As I wrote a few days ago -- with the able assistance of my wonderful staff in digging out the latest facts -- evidence shows that in the midst of the horrible repression, imposed by the mullahs and other assorted nut cases in charge, there are found glimmers of rationality.These reports brought me back to my research over a quarter century ago that
indicated that even the harshest methods, including summary executions of drug sellers and users by the roving executioner of the revolution, Ayatollah Khalkhali, did not seem to significantly reduce the availability and use of powerful narcotics.
In the previous post, I do not believe I emphasized enough my explanation of what I called The Lesson of Ayatollah Khalkhali. I first wrote about this in The Heroin Solution (issued by the Yale University Press in 1982, with a second edition containing all of the original text issued by Unlimited Publishing in 2006). Even though the honorable Ayatollah applied brutal executions to the drug problem in ways that even decent Western opinion leaders sometime dream about, there was no indication that these harsh measures actually worked in any significant fashion. The roving executioner
was criticized not because he was harsh but because he was unsuccessful in curbing drug sales and use. That is when he issued his immortal plea: "If we wanted to kill everybody who had five grams of heroin, we would have to kill 5,000 people and this would be difficult" (THS, page 16).
Over the years I have returned to this lesson and to the Iranian situation in a number of essays and reports, one of which may be perused by clicking here. I have observed that a number of colleagues disagreed with my position that even harsh methods did not significantly curb drug use in the general population. I respect my colleagues but still believe that my basic argument remains accurate for the most part. I have been impressed by anecdotal stories of Western visitors to Iran at the very time that the wonderful Ayatollah was doing God's work so nobly. These visitors told me that often they were offered drugs at the dinner table when in the homes of Iranian citizens. More recently, my trip to China and quiet discussions with Chinese drug police experts again seemed to document that the vaunted harsh communist repression of opiate users has had no lasting impact. Like experts in Iran, Chinese drug officials are trying a wide range of seemingly enlightened treatment and control initiatives, all in the
midst of a generally repressive system.
Much controversy and mystery remains in this arena and I welcome more information and views on the matter.
For centuries opium has been an integral part of Iranian culture. Dr. Ali Alavi who works for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has said that, “opium in our culture is like Champagne in France.” Estimates of the number of Iranians using opiates range from 1.1 million to 10 million people and despite the zero tolerance policy pursued by the theocratic government that took power in 1979 prevalence of use continued.
The drug has been readily available from neighboring Afghanistan even though the Iranian government has put a great deal of effort into stopping the traffic, including building a $6 billion thirteen foot high wall complete with barbed wire and a sixteen foot wide trench in 2006. The Drug War Chronicle reports this week, in a story about how confrontation between the U.S. and Iran over nuclear issues is threatening cooperation on drug issues, that, “burdened with a 560-mile-long border with Afghanistan, Iran has deployed some 30,000 soldiers and police to fight opium and heroin smuggling from its neighbor. Some 3,500 of them have been killed in the past two decades. Last year, Iranian officials reported seizing 660 tons of opium, nearly three-quarters of the total seized worldwide. Despite such efforts and a draconian Iranian response to drug trafficking offenses -- the death penalty -- Iran suffers arguably the world's highest opiate addiction rate.” The only time opium use declined was during the 2001 Taliban clamp down on poppy production, when the high price of opium in Iran caused many people to switch to the more powerful heroin.
Many years ago I wrote about this situation in The Heroin Solution and in subsequent articles. I termed it the lesson of Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali who shouted during the brief trials of some alleged drug traffickers ”I shall exterminate you vermin!” Later taken aback by the storm of criticism his remark provoked Khalkhali lamely explained that, ”if we wanted to kill everybody who had five grams of heroin, we’d have to kill 5000 people, and this would be difficult.”
However, according to an article in The New York Times by Nazila Fathi the Iranians are now pursuing a more enlightened drug policy that emphasizes treatment for addiction and the curbing of needle sharing. Fathi informs us that, “Iran’s theocratic government has encouraged and financed a vast expansion in the number of drug treatment centers to help users confront their addictions and to combat the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, through shared needles” and that Iran “has been more supportive of drug treatment than any other government in the Islamic world, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.” It is a sad commentary that the government of Iran may be moving towards implementing a more humane policy on drug use than our own.
It can be argued that the greatest public policy failure in U.S. history was Alcohol Prohibition. The great experiment provided an enormous increase in crime in return for a small decrease in the drinking of alcohol made more dangerous by the law. Nevertheless, there are elements in our society that want to bring it back.
The individuals and groups that long for the good old days of Al Capone do not come out and just say so; instead they use the issue of drunk driving as their wedge. At the moment Seattle has become a battleground in this struggle where the reintroduction of sobriety check points has been proposed, despite the fact that the Washington State Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional in 1988.
As is typical of all drug prohibitionists, those who favor this measure are using highly flawed statistics to advance their viewpoint. Sarah Longwell the managing director of the American Beverage Institute in Washington, D.C. asks us to “consider fatality statistics. The number of deaths that activists attribute to drunken driving is grossly exaggerated. Last year, federal statisticians classified almost 18,000 deaths as ‘alcohol-related.’ However, alcohol-related does not mean alcohol-caused. In fact, that figure includes anyone killed in a crash in which at least one person (driver, pedestrian, cyclist, etc.) was estimated to have any alcohol. (If a sober driver recklessly crashes into and kills a family whose driver had enjoyed one drink, statistics reflect all their deaths as ‘alcohol-related.’) In reality, the figure reflects a much broader spectrum of casualties: people under the legal limit, drunken pedestrians, impaired cyclists and others. After accounting for those people, actual, innocent victims make up only 12 percent of the widely reported statistic -- a considerably smaller amount than activists have led us to believe.”
While it is clear that people should not be operating a motor vehicle if they are drunk and that such a situation is a legitimate concern of government, the zeal of the anti-drunk driving movement has led to increasingly lower blood alcohol levels being considered a crime. As a result ever larger numbers of citizens are being punished even though they pose no actual danger to others. And, the logical end argument of the anti-alcohol movement is that if no one is allowed to drink then no one will ever drive drunk.
LAKHDAR BOUMEDIENE, ET AL., PETITIONERS 06-1195 v. GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT
OF THE UNITED STATES, ET AL.
KHALED A. F. AL ODAH, NEXT FRIEND OF FAWZI KHALID ABDULLAH FAHAD AL ODAH, ET
AL., PETITIONERS 06-1196 v. UNITED STATES ET AL.
Boumediene v. Bush (06-1195) and Al Odah v. U.S. (06-1196), upholding a
constitutional right for detainees to file habeas challenges to their
The Court, dividing 5-4, ruled that Congress had not validly taken away
habeas rights. If Congress wishes to suspend habeas, it must do so only as
the Constitution allows - when the country faces rebellion or invasion.
The Court also declared that detainees do not have to go through the special
civilian court review process that Congress created in 2005, since that is
not an adequate substitute for habeas rights.
The Court also found serious defects in the process that the Pentagon set up
in 2004 to decide which prisoners are to be designated as "enemy combatants"
- the status that leads to their continued confinement. This process is the
system of so-called Combatant Status Review Tribunals. The procedures used
by CSRTs, the Court said, "fall well short of the procedures and adversarial
mechanisms that would eliminate the need for habeas corpus review."
Lately, there has been considerable criticism of Barack Obama from the American political left for being too pro-Israeli. It has especially centered on the candidate's talk at a Washington D.C. conference put on by American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), in early June.
In making that speech Obama was doing two things; agreeing with the majority of the American people and following a rich historical tradition of support for a Jewish homeland in the Middle East. In an article for the International Herald Tribune Walter Russell Mead provides a history lesson pointing out among other things that, “John Adams ‘longed’ for a Jewish state. In 1891 more than 400 American leaders, including Chief Justice Melville Weston Fuller of the Supreme Court, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and the editors or publishers of several leading newspapers signed a petition to President Benjamin Harrison calling for the United States to use its diplomatic weight to promote the establishment of a free Jewish state in Palestine.” Mead also asserts that “both supporters and opponents of Washington's Middle East policies need to understand. The roots of U.S. support for Israel lie outside Washington and beyond the American Jewish community. The Arabist views of professional foreign policy elites have indeed often been overruled, but not because of the actions of a small, undemocratic lobby.”
Back in January of 2007 Turki-Al-Faisal, ambassador from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia spoke at American University and was treated as an honored guest. The headline in the student newspaper read “Saudi diplomat encourages tolerance, openness.” No one protested the event or questioned anything he said and certainly the subject of the Islamic Saudi Academy located in Northern Virginia did not come up. It would have been natural to discuss the school since it is operated by the Saudi Arabian Embassy, sponsored by their government, and has a program based on the curriculum of the Saudi Ministry of Education.
There should have been a controversy as the school used textbooks that asserted it was acceptable to murder adulterers, converts from Islam and polytheists and also stated that, "the Jews conspired against Islam and its people." A study issued by United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, on June 11th of this year, found that the Islamic Saudi Academy continues to use material that incites violence and intolerance.
That this type of behavior is accepted by the American people is bad enough but it is also indirectly funded by us through energy policies which favor foreign oil over domestic. Fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University, Deroy Murdock, points out that, “the Islamic Saudi Academy in Virginia is operated by the Saudi Arabia Embassy and sponsored by the Saudi government. The Saudi state, in turn, is being funded quite lavishly today by average American motorists who purchase $4.08-per-gallon gasoline, partially refined from Saudi crude oil. U.S. airlines, shippers, factories and other petroleum buyers inadvertently underwrite such Saudi-inspired hate.”
June 17, 2008 TIM RUSSERT AND THE LESSON’S OF HEART DISEASE
The extensive coverage of Tim Russert’s death should include an in depth look at heart disease and what we can do to prevent it. Larry King has done his part in splendid fashion by presenting a detailed roundtable discussion of the causes of his demise. The panel includes Russert’s personal physician, Dr. Michael Newman, Amy Yasbeck the widow of John Ritter who also died of a heart attack, Larry King’s heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, and heart specialist Dr. P.K. Shah. Newman called Russert a very good patient saying; "He complied with almost everything that was asked of him." Still, that was not enough to save him.
This space has always maintained that the most important battle in the war on terrorism is the one being fought within Islam itself. Now, there are growing signs of schism within the jihadist community. This can only be viewed as a positive development.
Lawrence Wright reporting in the June 2nd New Yorker talks about the recantation of Sayed Imam al-Shareef, formally close to Al Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, who now argues that Islam does not support an ends justify the means philosophy and that Christians and Jews can only be killed if they are actively attacking Islam, not merely because of their religion. Wright quotes al-Shareef as saying that, “We are prohibited from committing aggression, even if the enemies of Islam do that.”
The Central Intelligence Agency also agrees that there are significant points of contention. A recent editorial in The Economist defends CIA Director Michael Hayden’s statement indicating American success against terrorism by saying his main point concerned ideological setbacks. They cite Hayden as asserting that, "Fundamentally, no one really liked al-Qaida's vision of the future.”
Also, in a piece for The New Republic Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank trace signs of division back to a 1998 Al Qaeda conference in Afghanistan attended by Noman Benotman, leader of the militant Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, who warned against attacking the United States at that meeting. In November he penned an open letter to al-Zawahiri that was widely publicized and well received by the Libyan jihadists. According to the article Benotman contended in the letter that, “citizens of Western countries were blameless and should not be the target of terrorist attacks.” The authors reveal that Benotman told them that "the starting point has to be that jihad is legitimate, otherwise no one will listen” and that “The reaction [to my criticism of Al Qaeda] has been beyond imagination. It has made the radicals very angry. They are very shaky about it."
The New Republic also reports the words of Sheikh Salman Al Oudah, a founder of the Sahwa, the fundamentalist awakening movement that swept through Saudi Arabia in the '80s, and a man with impeccable jihadist credentials, who called for attacks against American troops in Iraq.. In an address directed to Osama Bin Laden, shown on the Middle East television network MBC, Al Oudah said; "My brother Osama, how much blood has been spilt? How many innocent people, children, elderly, and women have been killed ... in the name of Al Qaeda? Will you be happy to meet God Almighty carrying the burden of these hundreds of thousands or millions [of victims] on your back?"
June 14, 2008 MY CONTINUING AMBIVALENCE ABOUT PRINCESS OBAMA
More and more, I find myself applauding the emergence of Obama as the likely occupant of the Oval Office. What a great triumph for hope and glory for all the good people of the world, especially those in the US. And then I reflect on all the questions that must be raised about him and his background. Look at the latest from the unsinkable Melanie Phillips and you must be forced to pause in your adulation. I remain happy and hopeful and ambivalent and unsure -- all at once. Anyone who does not share that set of conflicting emotions has drunk the Kool-Aid that has been poured out by the mainstream American media which has been in the shameful tank for Obama from the start.
June 11, 2008 POSSIBLY SERIOUS DIFFERENCES OF OPINION AMONG FRIENDS
Columnist for the Boston Globe H.D.S. Greenway has written an article in which he discusses the recent address by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He sees tension between the government of Israel and some of its American supporters. After pointing out that, “Barack Obama received a thunderous ovation at AIPAC when he seemed to be tougher on Jerusalem than the Israeli government” Greenway then goes on to observe that, “Olmert, now clinging to his political life amid corruption charges, has claimed that some American supporters of Israel have spent a lot of money trying to overthrow his government precisely because he favors territorial compromises. Olmert is currently under investigation for accepting bribes - or campaign contributions, depending on your view - from the American businessman Morris Talansky. Some Israelis point out that the gifts were made when Olmert was a reliable opponent of territorial compromises, and say that the whistle blowing came after his change of heart.”
Supporters of the United Nations should not use its latest most expensive mission in Darfur as any kind argument in favor of that organization. Steve Bloomfield a writer for The Independent in Britain gives his assessment of the U.N.’s performance there and it is not pretty. He informs us that, “just one third of the military personnel and one quarter of the police have been deployed in what has been billed as the biggest and most important mission in the U.N.'s 60-year history. It is now threatening to turn into its most catastrophic failure. No new equipment has arrived. Peacekeepers have had to paint their helmets blue (or put blue plastic bags over them, tied on with elastic). To cap it all, the general leading the force, Gen. Martin Luther Agwai, revealed he had considered quitting because ‘I thought the world didn't care about us.’ Only after reading a self-help book, ‘Stop Worrying and Start Living,’ did he decide to stay.”
I have said it many times and I do not want to sound as if I have no other causes, but really is it not time to say goodbye to the UN, suggest it move to Saudi Arabia, give the nutcase diplomats six months to leave, and support new organizations centered on democracy? Read this latest anti-Semitic outrage as support for that move at long last.
Perhaps the most essential and authoritative organization challenging drug prohibition today is Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). In their Mission Statement they lay out two primary goals, educating the public about the failures of current drug policy and restoring respect for law enforcement. The organization’s “main strategy for accomplishing these goals is to create a constantly enlarging speakers bureau staffed with knowledgeable and articulate former drug-warriors who describe the impact of current drug policies on: police/community relations; the safety of law enforcement officers and suspects; police corruption and misconduct; and the financial and human costs associated with current drug policies.”
A look at LEAP’s calendar shows that they are pursuing their goals vigorously. .You can join LEAP and receive e-mail updates on their progress here. You can schedule a speaker for an event here. Lastly, you can help this important work continue by donating here.
June 6, 2008 THE TWO PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ON ISRAEL
The always interesting and perceptive Daniel Pipes gives his take on parallel interviews with Barack Obama and John McCain about their approach to Israel, conducted by journalist Jeffrey Goldberg for The Atlantic. Pipes concludes that, “Goldberg's twin interviews underscore two facts. First, major-party candidates for the U.S. presidency must still pay homage to warm American ties to Israel, no matter how, as in Obama's case, dramatically this may contradict their previously held views. Second, whereas McCain is secure on the topic, Obama worries about winning the pro-Israel vote.”
June 5, 2008 CREATING VIOLENCE A GOVERNMENT PRIORITY
If there is one defining characteristic of drug prohibition it is violence and if you do not think so just ask the people of Mexico. In a guest column for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Maria Elena Salinas, anchor of Noticiero Univision, asserts that, “headlines in the news are reminiscent of those from some of the most brutal days of the Iraq war. They speak of executions, beheadings, cryptic messages and dozens of people killed in a single day.” She reports that the Mexican government has made stopping drug use its number one priority and as a result “so far this year there have been more than 1,300 drug-related murders, more than 70 percent of them in the northern states. May was the deadliest month in the past five years, with 350 to 400 people killed.” Unfortunately, in typical journalistic fashion she did not even mention the only real and lasting solution to the violence problem, legalization.
June 4, 2008 SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE COMMENT AND RESPONSE
I have received several comments from readers on the story (June 3) concerning the marijuana study. One from Ian Goddard cited a number of studies which appeared to support the theory that brain damage from marijuana use is slight or nonexistent when compared to similar damage from alcohol or tobacco use. I made the comment in my original story that I do not agree that alcohol and tobacco abuse is always more damaging that marijuana abuse. Note the word "abuse." By that I mean a massive amount of use in contrast to the usual levels.
One major problem with the wonderful internet is that we can utter thoughts which get promulgated to the world instantly. When we wrote in the old days -- just a few years ago -- it was possible to utter a thought and then reflect on it and send a letter by snail mail to colleagues asking for comments on the thought. I sometimes wish for the old days. Nevertheless, here are my thoughts on this brain damage issue.
Over the years, even decades, I have made myself read the latest studies dealing with brain damage from any of the major drugs. When I read through a pile of original research on this matter, I found a confusing welter of facts, many of which were in conflict. Yet, one persistent finding was that it was extremely rare to find research that clearly supported brain damage from any of the drugs. Some studies did indeed find some form of damage due to abuse of alcohol and tobacco but then other did not make similar findings. I remain an agnostic on the subject but am willing to listen to the results of new research.
In general, science would seem to support the finding that marijuana is the least toxic of almost any of the regularly used drugs. At the same time, I have also concluded that heavy marijuana use must cause some organic damage to s some abusers. This is consistent with the statements in Zimmer and Morgan who found generally almost all of the damaging claims about marijuana use were indeed myths. Yet they stated: "THC does not cause cellular changes of the sort associated with cancer. However, marijuana smoke -- like tobacco smoke -- does."Marijuana Myths. Marijuana Facts, page 115. If so, then assumedly the cancer could metastasize to the brain.
June 3, 2008 ANOTHER HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE MARIJUANA STUDY
The link and the headline for a Reuter’s story on Comcast.net reads “Heavy marijuana use shrinks brain.” However, the ninth paragraph also reads, “The researchers acknowledged that the study did not prove it was the marijuana and not some other factor that triggered these brain differences. But Yucetal said the findings certainly suggested marijuana was the cause.” The Australian researchers, led by Murat Yurcel from the University of Melboure, used a whopping sample size of 15 subjects smoking five joints a day for twenty years and 16 controls. The piece also quotes Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project as saying that, "these were people who were essentially stoned all day every day for 20 years. This study says nothing about moderate or occasional users, who are the vast majority -- and the (study) even acknowledges this. The documented damage caused by comparably heavy use of alcohol or tobacco is just off-the-charts more serious, and you don't need high-tech scans to find it."
I have spent many years reviewing all of the conflicting evidence on marijuana and as a result disagree with the findings of the main study quoted above and I also disagree to a small extent with Bruce Mirkin. I agree with Mirkin’s key thesis that this is dealing with only a small piece of the marijuana user’s universe. At the same time, I do not see any evidence that alcohol and tobacco abuse is always worse than marijuana abuse.
Bill Galvin Comments:
This looks like more of the same BS I sent you before. I remember taking that same 15 word test at Montgomery College when I was 35 with people who were 18 and19. I'd been partying as long as they've been alive and I scored no different.
Ian Goddard Comments:
Seems there's a lot of prior research on cannabis and brain atrophy and according to this meta-analysis: "Most studies report no evidence of cerebral atrophy or regional changes in tissue volumes."
A 2006 study found: "Analyses were performed on brain MRI scans from individuals who were frequent cannabis users [...] While differences existed between groups, no pattern consistent with evidence of cerebral atrophy or loss of white matter integrity was detected. It is concluded that frequent cannabis use is unlikely to be neurotoxic to the normal developing adolescent brain." That study is free.
This next study examined brain atrophy in users of alcohol only or including cocaine and cannabis. Cannabis was apparently a null factor as it's use is cited as being included in subject but it's not even cited as affecting the results: Cross-sectional volumetric analysis of brain atrophy in alcohol dependence: effects of drinking history and comorbid substance use disorder. That study is also free.
Effects of frequent marijuana use on brain tissue volume and composition.
"There were no clinically significant abnormalities in any subject's MRI. Sex
differences were detected in several global volume measures."
Given the first study cited above, I suspect I could collect a lange number of
such null fundings. With most or virtually all prior research contradicting this
new 'headline' study, one wonders if bias didn't somehow affect subject
Did the study you cite control for alcohol and tobacco use? There's a
lot of data (some below) showing they're both linked to brain atrophy. Cannabis
users may use other drugs. Considering all the neuroprotective data on
cannabinoids, one has to be skeptical of such a neurodegenerative effect.
This study seems to have isolated alcohol out from other drugs as a promoter of brain atrophy: "The findings suggest that chronic use of alcohol, but not necessarily of other commonly abused substances, produces brain atrophy."
This one finds cigarette smoking exacerbates alcohol's harm: "These human in vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging findings indicate that chronic cigarette smoking exacerbates chronic alcohol-induced neuronal injury and cell membrane damage in the frontal lobes of RAs and has independent adverse effects on neuronal viability and cell membranes in the midbrain and on cell membranes of the cerebellar vermis."
"Chronic alcohol dependence was associated with smaller volumes of frontal and parietal white matter, parietal and temporal gray matter, and thalami, accompanied by widespread sulcal but not ventricular enlargements."
But here's an important study that notes brain-imaging studies of alcoholics have relied on small samples of treated alcoholics. So this study looked at a wider population and concluded: "Taken together, this suggests that the degree of brain atrophy, as well as neuronal and membrane injury in clinical samples of alcoholics cannot be generalized to the much larger population with alcohol use disorders that does not seek treatment."
As you probably know, there are several long-term studies of heavy cannabis users that found little or no cognitive impairment, which makes it hard to believe the subjects experienced brain atrophy. - Ian
June 3, 2008 RON PAUL AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Ron Paul Revolution is here to stay. Despite the fact that John McCain has been the anointed presidential nominee of the Republican Party for quite some time Ron Paul continues to draw large crowds, media attention, and recently 24% of the vote in the Idaho primary. He also has a political book, The Revolution: A Manifesto, on the best seller lists.
However, on LewRockwel.com Walter Block asserts that there is substantial misperception in the Jewish community about the movement. He states that Ron Paul take on foreign affairs causes “fear that if Congressman Paul’s policies are put into effect, they will be harmful to Israel. At first blush, this seems reasonable enough. The U.S. gives lots of money to the Israeli government for use by its military, and if this were totally eliminated, it is not unwarranted to think that this country would thereby be weakened. However, I contend that there are several good and sufficient reasons to doubt this popular belief.” I am not sure that I agree with anything Walter Block has to say, however, I am willing to keep an open mind. He attempts to presents a comprehensive answer to these concerns in An Open Letter to the Jewish Community on Behalf of Ron Paul.
Some good things do happen. Major Leauge Baseball reports that, "like many of the Sox fans at Camden Yards on Saturday, Damon Woo pulled out his camera when Manny Ramirez stepped to the plate in the seventh inning. As long as Ramirez was stuck at 499 homers, all of his at-bats were must-see events. But Woo might have been the only fan who put down his camera at almost the instant Ramirez made contact. The ball was coming his way. And Woo made the catch." Manny hits 500 and a decent fan gives him the ball back and Manny is using it to raise money for charity.
No less than four out of eleven news stories in the latest edition of The Drug War Chronicle demonstrate significant progress in reforming marijuana laws. First, the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles made a ruling that the state legislature there acted unconstitutionally when it passed a law limiting the amount of marijuana any one patient could have. This finding is particularly good because the law allowing cannabis for medical purposes came about through the initiative process and the lawmakers were trying to overrule the people.
Also in California, the state assembly acted tolerantly when it passed a medical marijuana employment rights bill. The law came in response to a decision by the State Supreme Court that employers could fire an employee for failing a drug test even though he or she legally possessed marijuana and used it for health reasons. To assume that someone who uses marijuana will be a poor worker and cause problems at the job site is both unjust and unfounded.
Next, in Hawaii the Aloha State's Big Island Hawaii County Council did its constituents a huge favor by rejecting $441,000 in state and federal funds to continue “Green Harvest” a marijuana eradication program. Not only did their own budget increase by $53,000 but they ended a widely despised program which drew numerous complaints from it inception. The Drug War Chronicle citing critics points out that, “low-flying helicopters searching for pot fields disrupted rural life and invaded their privacy. Others argued that the program has done little to eradicate marijuana and even promoted the use of other, more dangerous drugs.”
Lastly, in the Sun Valley town of Hailey, Idaho the population passed initiatives legalizing medical marijuana, legalizing industrial hemp and requiring city law enforcement to make marijuana arrests the department's lowest priority. These measures had passed in November but town officials would not enforce them. The Idaho Liberty Lobby organized the campaign on the theory that it would be harder for the politicians to ignore the will of the people when expressed twice.
The Drug War Chronicle is an essential publication for understanding the war on people who us certain kinds of drugs. You can subscribe to the e-mail edition here and you can support the work of the vital organization, DRCNet, behind it here.
May 29, 2008 ISRAELI ACADEMICS UNDER THREAT OF BOYCOTT AGAIN
As discussed before, in Great Britain lecturers belonging to the University and College Union have once again voted for an effective boycott of Israeli Academics. They have done this despite the fact that in 2007 that organization’s leadership determined that such action was illegal under British law.
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) has responded by emphasizing and updating its petition which now states: "We are academics, scholars, researchers and professionals of differing religious and political perspectives. We all agree that singling out Israelis for an academic boycott is wrong. To show our solidarity with our Israeli academics in this matter, we, the undersigned, hereby declare ourselves to be Israeli academics for purposes of any academic boycott. We will regard ourselves as Israeli academics and decline to participate in any activity from which Israeli academics are excluded.” If you have not done so yet you can sign it here.
Also, the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom has voted for a boycott of Israeli goods and imposition of sanctions, so much for objective coverage of the issue in England.
The level of vicious anti-Semitism and hate of Israel among the
Western left and elites is unbelievable. Thanks to Melanie Phillips for her
constant challenges to these nut cases, those that dominate much of academia today.
Dan K. Thomasson, former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service has a column pointing out the absurd hyper interpretation of every remark made by the candidates during this election cycle. He maintains that,“people often say things differently than they mean them. It is excusable, particularly if there is no past record of insensitivity. In the heat of a campaign there will be any number of opportunities to make a mountain out of a molehill or to twist and misinterpret on both sides. The impulse to do that should be resisted if we are to get through this political hurricane without badly dividing the country. The speech police should go away.”
David Beito at Liberty and Power calls attention to an interesting article on the Huffington Post by historian Sean Wilentz which discusses, in historical context, a fatal flaw in Barak Obama’s campaign strategy that just may cost the Democrats this next election. He argues that, “in fact, all of the evidence demonstrates that white racism has not been a principal or even secondary motivation in any of this year's Democratic primaries. Every poll shows that economics, health care, and national security are the leading issues for white working class voters - and for Latino working class voters as well. These constituencies have cast positive ballots for Hillary Clinton not because she is white, but because they regard her as better on these issues. Obama's campaign and its passionate supporters refuse to acknowledge that these voters consider him weaker -- and that Clinton's positions, different from his, as well as her experience actually attract support.” To Wilentz it seems that Obama is ignoring the concerns of white working class voters at the peril of his party.
May 25, 2008 RACHEL HOFFMAN KILLED BY DRUG PROHIBITION
The same national news networks that devoted countless hours of coverage to the disappearance of Natalee Holloway and the killing by her husband of Laci Peterson can not seem to spare even a minute for the murder of Rachel Hoffman. Why, is it because she was a marijuana user and therefore subhuman or perhaps this is due to the fact that the Tallahassee Police Department was largely responsible for her death?
Because she tried to help mitigate the government black-market imposed high cost of marijuana for her self and her friends the Tallahassee police were able to blackmail her into participating in the very dangerous sting operation that took her life without informing either her attorneys or her parents.
Upon discovery of her body the police immediately called a press conference with the intention of blaming Hoffman for her own death. Her attorneys responded to this cruel farce by stating that, “Bringing to light the victim’s criminal charges, her alleged faults during a sting operation, and repeatedly addressing the fact, in so many different words, that the Tallahassee Police Department is not responsible for the death of Rachel Hoffman did nothing to inform the public about what truly happened the night of the drug sting. It did nothing to inform the public about what is going to happen to the individuals who killed her. It did nothing to inform the public about what policies and procedures are in place to protect a confidential informant before they engage in a police drug sting. The only purpose this information served was to both attack a woman who has been taken away from society in a ruthless, reckless, and vicious manner, and to allow her family to watch it all on television while they are still reeling from the shock of their loved ones death.”
Rachel Hoffman was more than just a marijuana user she was also an activist with organizations such as Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) trying to decriminalize marijuana and prevent the type of tragedies that took her own life. Despite the callous indifference shown by the national media and the public at large she will not be forgotten. Her mother has set up the Rachel Morningstar Foundation to continue her work.
There is no better illustration that drug prohibition is a vicious, unjust, expensive, and evil policy than Rachel Hoffman’s story.
Andrew Williams Comments:
Cases like this make me weep. And the response of the TPD is just pathetic. Since when do cops blame the victim? Don't they have any balls? Can't even one of those SOB's commiserate with her family? Guess not. 'Twas ever thus in the WoD.
May 21, 2008 RELIGION AND CULTURE IN GREAT BRITAIN
Columnist H.D.S. Greenway has produced a thoughtful essay, which has provoked some thoughtful comments, on the subject of religious accommodation in Great Britain. He states the basic issue this way: “The multiculturalism in which Britain put its faith is under attack as having failed. Britons are wondering if they have gone too far to accommodate minorities, and if society should be instilling British ness instead? The focus, of course, is on British Muslims, and some Britons are asking, is this a community that British traditions can absorb?”
Walter Reich, the Yitzhak Rabin memorial professor of international affairs, ethics and human behavior at George Washington University, recently visited Israel and writes about that country’s psychological state on its 60th anniversary. He found that even though “a condition of existential siege” exists, “there's a remarkable spirit and courage here. Despite the rising tide of Islamism that surrounds the country and the constant threats to destroy it, Israel bustles with energy, commerce, science and the arts. And, most of the time, its people display a convinced optimism that Israel is here to stay.”
May 19, 2008 LONG AGO ATROCITIES COMING INTO THE LIGHT
A capacity for extraordinary and senseless cruelty with little regard for the justice or necessity of the acts seems to be a common human trait, constant over time, place, and ideology. This story about South Korea in 1950 illustrates the point.
A central figure in the United States Senate since 1962, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, was struck ill yesterday and hospitalized. Right now it is not entirely clear how serious the situation is, hopefully not too bad.
Normally, I do not mention my birthdays but I will make an exception for this one, especially since I have received a number of messages of good wishes. For some reason, this one has affected me more than any other. It seems like a significant event, somehow. In any event, I started the day as I often do by saying how lucky I am for my health, my good genes from Mom and Dad and a host of earlier ancestors, my family, and my good friends. I sat on my front porch, looked at all the flowers in the hanging pots and in the garden, listened to the birds going crazy with happy songs, and I kept saying "Wow!"
All my older kids and most of the grandkids will be here soon for various celebrations. Wow! I am also lucky in that I keep working and expressing my opinion on events important to me in books, articles and now more than ever on this site on the Internet. Indeed, I have made a decision to upgrade the site and go to the next level. Suggestions from my friends and readers would be most welcome. I am lucky in another way in that I have just found and engaged a wonderful, pioneering Internet firm to help develop the site and to improve it.
Soon I will post on the site my reflections as I look back over 80 years.
The headline links marijuana to an increased risk of heart disease but the article concerning work done for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) by Dr. Jean Lud Cadet describes highly questionable methodology. Reuters reports that, “the study did not look at whether the heavy marijuana users actually had heart disease.” and that, ”the marijuana users in the study averaged smoking 78 to 350 marijuana cigarettes per week, based on self-reported drug history.” Once again the government is desperately trying to justify the evils of prohibition by producing research that does not prove what it purports to and that has no relationship with the way people actually use marijuana. This study is blatant propaganda with a veneer of science.
May 13, 2008 BUCHANAN IS RIGHT ON THIS RACE BUSINESS
Of course he is right in a sense on everything he does. In any event, I find it an uncomfortable situation when I find myself in agreement with the likes of ol' Pat instead of the liberals I used to love. The major race baiting has come not from the Clintons but from the supporters of Barack and at times from the inner workings of his campaign itself. Who would have believed this would happen? It is outrageous to call the Clintons racists in light of their long record on this score.
As I have said many times I am now a political mongrel because I no longer fit into any recognizable political or ideological grouping. Perhaps this should be a new party -- THE POLITICAL MONGRELS PARTY. But what would our symbol animal be? Donkeys and elephants are taken. Suggestions please.
May 13, 2008 A TOP PRIORITY FOR AMERICA: PROTECT OBAMA AND OTHER "APOSTATES"
As I have made clear, I am not sure if Obama is actually an apostate but there is some evidence that he is -- and many radical Muslims would say that he is, and deserves the ultimate sanction. In recent years I have been meeting and studying a whole range of apostates, dissenters, and reformers of Islam. They are a wonderful group but they are often in a dangerous position. It is vital for America to take the lead among Western nations to create an aggressive strategy to go after those who threaten or harm apostates and their related ilk. In doing so we Americans will advance our most important group of freedoms, those enshrined in the First Amendment, the core of a free society. Our approach should be broad and comprehensive -- using publicity, intelligence agencies and also the police and the special forces of our military. If we start making inroads in this sphere, we will protect many decent people and also make great advances in taking the sting out of the excesses of radical Islamic practices. This effort will not be easy because the federal government is now acting as if there is no real threat and is demanding that even the word "jihad" should not be used in its proper sense. This would be a long road but we must start on it.
May 13, 2008 COMMENT ON ISRAEL’S SITXETH ANNIVERSARY
The sixtieth anniversary of Israel’s founding has elicited comment from a number of pundits. In the pages of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer William Kristol offers some profound quotations including one by Winston Churchill: “Whether the Right Honourable Gentleman likes it or not, and whether we like it or not, the coming into being of a Jewish state in Palestine is an event in world history to be viewed in the perspective, not of a generation or a century, but in the perspective of a thousand, two thousand or even three thousand years. This is a standard of temporal values or time values which seems very much out of accord with the perpetual click-clack of our rapidly-changing moods and of the age in which we live."
Meanwhile, The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen asserts that “the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims” was a mistake producing “a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now.” However, Mark Steyn ably counters that argument pointing out that “Aaron Lazarus and every other ‘European Jew’ of his time would have had a mirthless chuckle over Cohen's designation. The Jews lived in Europe for centuries but without ever being accepted as ‘European.’ To enjoy their belated acceptance as Europeans, they had to move to the Middle East. Reviled on the Continent as sinister rootless cosmopolitans with no conventional national allegiance, they built a conventional nation state, and now they're reviled for that, too. The ‘oldest hatred’ didn't get that way without an ability to adapt.”
In my mind, there is no doubt that Obama is a devout Christian and not a
Muslim. This does not answer a host of other questions, which have been
raised by many commentators, including Daniel Pipes -- namely is he an
apostate and subject to the pains and penalties of that status in the eyes
of traditional Muslims? I do not know the answer to that important
question but it has just made the pages of the New York Times and has also
been discussed on the Jihad Watch web site. Here. These are issues we
never seriously dealt with in America until very recently. We had better
start learning to do so, and fast.
May 12, 2008 IS THE MAYOR OF NEW YORK A HYPOCRITE?
Further down in this space an editorial published in The New York Times calling attention to the racial disparity inherenet in the drug war is referenced to. It is appropriate that a New York paper run such a piece because under the regime of Michael Bloomberg such a race based drug arrest policy is practiced with zeal in that city.
In a superb article Jacob Sullum, author of Saying Yes, describes a deplorable situation with regard to marijuana arrests and prosecutions overseen by admitted pot smoker and enjoyer Mayor Bloomberg. Hispanics are three times more likely to be arrested on a marijuana charge than whites, while the number for blacks is five times more likely. Also, Sullum does not neglect motivation in his essay. He quotes sociologist Harry Levine and drug policy activist Deborah Small as saying that, “busting pot smokers is a relatively safe and easy way to pad arrest figures, which creates the illusion of productivity, and generate overtime pay, a practice known as ‘collars for dollars.’”
May 12, 2008 INSIGHTS FROM CHINA : SUPERLATIVES AND DIET
There are many stories in the media these days about China , most of them focusing on the misdeeds of that nation and its leaders. During three weeks in China a few years ago - which of course documents my claim to be an expert - I encountered many fascinating insights on all sorts of things having nothing to do directly with politics, or the Olympics or Tibet . Most important, not once did I encounter hostility toward the US or its people expressed by any Chinese person, whether ordinary citizen or police officer or other government official. Thus, in the midst of expressed official hostility on all sides I find much hope for the future. Perhaps that is too naïve but there it is.
Along that line, an American friend living in China periodically sends interesting tidbits of news and idea. Here are excerpts from his latest email letter.
Chinese Superlatives: On May first, 2008, the world’s longest cross-sea bridge was opened to traffic. The 36 kilometer (approximately 22 miles) long bridge spans the Hangzhou Bay in China and cuts the road trip from Shanghai to the port of Ningbo by 120 km. Reading the announcement in the China Daily, I recalled reading just a month ago that the world’s largest airline terminal building just opened in Beijing . Out of curiosity, I undertook some web searches to see what other “largest” things out there are Chinese. My by-no-means-exhaustive findings include:
· Although China is the world’s second largest shipbuilder in the world ( South Korea is largest), China is nearing completion of the world’s largest shipyard. ( China Daily).
· China has overtaken South Africa as the world’s largest gold producer, a title South Africa held for 100 years. (ABC News).
· China is the world’s biggest air polluter with 16 of the top 20 worst air-polluted cities. (Real Clear Politics).
· China has become the world’s biggest internet user. (Beijing-based research firm, BDA).
· PetroChina is the world’s biggest company (worth more than Exxon Mobil and GE combined). (U.S. News & World Report).
· China Mobile is the world’s largest wireless carrier. (China Daily).
· China is the world’s largest shoe producer. (People’s Daily Online).
· The world’s largest bible printing and production plant is in China . (Christian Post).
· China is the largest exporter of trade goods in the world. (Manufacturing News).
· China is home to the largest dam, at the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River . (CNN).
· China is the largest miner of coal. (China Stakes).
This list got me to thinking about consumption. With the world’s largest population, (1,330,044,605 people, according to the CIA Factbook) it would be logical to find that China is also the world’s largest consumer of many things. After all, China is being blamed for the run-up in prices on a number of commodities as they become a “developed’ nation in a very short time.
· Since 2005, China has been the world’s largest consumer nation. Period! (China Daily).
Naturally, China is a huge consumer of energy:
· China is the world’s largest consumer of hydropower. (CIA Factbook).
· China is the world’s largest consumer of solar energy. (China Daily).
· China is the world’s largest consumer of coal. (The Washington Post).
· China is the world’s largest consumer of petrochemicals. (Plastermart).
· China is the world’s largest consumer of grain, meat, coal, steel, TV sets, refrigerators and mobile phones. (BBC).
· China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of tobacco products. (World Health Organization).
· China is the world’s largest consumer of decorative stone. (goliath-ecnext).
· China is the world’s largest consumer of cement. It is predicted that by 2010 they will be responsible for nearly half of the world’s cement consumption). (Market research.com).
Food Combining: I am intrigued by a small Chinese chart in my possession. It features 40 little drawings showing mostly animals and plants in pairs. Each pairing carries inscriptions in Chinese characters. With the help of Chinese friends and a bookshelf of Chinese-English dictionaries, I determined that the chart warns against consuming certain types of food together. It also suggests various types of poisoning that may result from consuming the proscribed food pairs.
This discovery led to a bit of research into the theory of incompatible foods and its opposite, food combining. At the risk of exposing my breathtaking ignorance of biology, I offer my basic understanding of the theory:
When we eat, we metabolize different foods at different rates. Our digestive system, consisting of the mouth, the stomach and the intestines, secretes chemicals to promote digestion. Our bodies are even capable of producing specific chemicals directed at specific types of food we’ve consumed. For example, our salivary glands emit alkaline enzymes and our stomachs produce pepsin which requires an acid medium. These chemicals bring about the decomposition of acids, starches, proteins, and carbohydrates. Some foods such as fresh fruits are metabolized quickly while others such as red meats may take hours to digest.
Problems occur, so the theory goes, when consumption of a slow-digesting food is followed by a fast-digesting food. The fast-digesting food has to wait in line. But it can’t wait so it begins to ferment in place, thus leading to discomfort.
The Chinese chart is entertaining in that we are warned against combining a number of ingredients not normally found on our tables. While we may not have to worry about what to eat with donkey, dog, camel or horse, there are several other foods we eat every day. Who knew that one shouldn’t combine oysters or clams with pumpkin?
One aim of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is to eat in such a way as to promote complete digestion as efficiently and quickly as feasible. So eating chemically similar foods and avoiding mixing different foods at the same sitting are recommended. Avoid mixing proteins and carbohydrates. That is, avoid eating meats, fish or cheese in the same meal with bread, cereals, or potatoes. Also, avoid combining proteins and fats. Do not eat cream, butter or oil with your meats, eggs, cheese, nuts, etc. Furthermore, it is risky to eat acids such as oranges, tomatoes, lemons and pineapples with meat, eggs, cheese or nuts. According to the practitioners of TCM, the best breakfast consists of fruits; a good lunch includes a starch with salad and some non-starchy vegetables; and for dinner, a protein accompanied by a salad and some non-starchy vegetables.
Nobody I know eats like this. Most Americans and even many Chinese enjoy a meal with several different courses representing all food groups. It may be true that we experience occasional tummy aches. Well, the TCM people have been methodically trying to identify the sources of our gastro-intestinal discomfort and eliminate it. Fine, I say. I wish them well. I will remain ignorant and continue to enjoy my Italian cold-cut subs.
MAY 12, 2008 THE STORIES ON AL SHARPTON'S TAX TROUBLES REMIND US ABOUT TRUE RACISM AND BIGOTRY
Al Sharpton is in trouble again, this time about the taxes he has not paid. Sharpton is referred to as a civil rights leader by the MSM, but that is a false and irresponsible use of that term. To paraphrase an old debate line, I have personally known many civil rights leaders, including Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Fred Shuttleswoth, and I know that Sharpton is not a civil rights leader. He is a thug and a racial hustler and an open Jew
hater who has terrorized much of the white and black Establishment into allowing him to get away with many offenses. He has incited violence against any one who does not agree with him and forced stores owned by Jews and Koreans out of black neighborhoods. He has ruined many lives, including that of the young prosecutor who he claimed did not handle the Tawana Brawley case properly. Google Sharpton's name and mention Jews and Brawley and Yankel Rosenbaum and you will be inundated with open hate speech and hateful actions by this so-called civil rights leader.
Now his tax troubles are in the press again. It would seem that this is the chance for the
authorities to finally convict him of a crime, as they finally did with Al Capone. Do not hold your breath. I have seen very little actual racism in this latest national campaign -- despite all the claims about the use of racism by for example Bill Clinton -- but if Sharpton is not indicted then you will see true racism at work. A true test of Barack Obama if he is elected -- will he let the tax laws apply equally to Al Sharpton or will he
cave in to this hustler as most of the Establishment has done over the years?
May 12, 2008 IF YOU DO NOT ABSOLUTELY LOVE IRSHAD...
Take your pick on how to end that sentence. One ending could be -- then you
will indeed love her Mum. In any event, keeping up with her adventures
should make everyone feel as I have said many times that there is hope for
the world. She is an amazing set of wonderful contradictions and values.
The most important being that she is a devout Muslim who believes that
ordinary Muslims can be happy and can challenge traditional interpretations
of her religion. Look at her latest messages on her site. Here. Wonderful material!
May 12, 2008 DRUG WAR CONTINUES TO EQUAL DEFACTO RACISM
In an essay very similar to ones written since at least 1996 The New York Times editorial board decries the racism inherent in drug prohibition. It informs us that, ”two new reports, by The Sentencing Project and Human Rights Watch, have turned a critical spotlight on law enforcement’s overwhelming focus on drug use in low-income urban areas. These reports show large disparities in the rate at which blacks and whites are arrested and imprisoned for drug offenses, despite roughly equal rates of illegal drug use.”
May 8, 2008 SAN DIEGO STATE AN EXERCISE IN FUTILITY
One has to strongly suspect that the American public generally views the massive drug bust at San Diego State as a good thing because we all know that no one ever did drugs on that campus before those particular seventy-five students matriculated there and now no one ever will again. However, not everyone sees these arrests as a positive and some concerned parents will protest by holding a mock graduation ceremony with empty chairs representing the missing students. Fortunately, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) has an outstanding video, where ex-police officers explain the rationale and methodology behind similar operations, that leads one to understand that the protestors not the general public are correct on this issue.
Quite naturally, Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) has a primary goal of changing the provision in the Higher Education Act which denies financial aid to students convicted of drug possession. They have noted that while those offenses preclude education they do not keep the offenders involved from serving in the military. Therefore SSDP has produced a video which explains how the growing number of conduct waivers offered by military recruiters amounts to a drug war draft.
One person who has been reached by the above presentation is Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY). In a speech given on the floor of the House of Representatives she observed that the Bush Administration is allowing “more people with criminal records, including drug convictions, to serve in the Armed Forces. As a matter of fact, conduct waivers granted for felonies and other crimes constitute the majority of all waivers, about 60 percent for the Army, and 75 percent for the Marine Corps.” Clarke then went on to argue that, “it is important to note that the vast majority of such convictions stem from juvenile offenses, but at the same time, a provision of the Higher Education Act, which Congress is currently in the process of reauthorizing, bars young people with drug convictions from receiving Federal financial aid to go to college. I find it absolutely alarming that the Bush administration seems to think that youth who are prone to youthful indiscretions and get into trouble with drug use are, on the one hand, not worthy of Federal support to obtain a college education, but on the other hand, are perfectly fit to go and to fight the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
May 7, 2008 THE THREAT DOES NOT ALWAYS COME IN THE FORM OF A BOMB
Once again Frank Gaffney Jr. tries to warn us that the real threat to America posed by the Islamists may not be an explosion but rather a steady erosion of our most cherished values. He begins his piece by asserting that “Even Americans knowledgeable about Europe’s growing accommodation to the totalitarian ideology known alternatively as Islamism, jihadism or Islamofascism tend smugly to believe the same thing can’t happen here. Think again. Every day, new evidence appears of similar acts of submission - the Islamists call it ‘dhimmitude’ - on the part of the U.S. government, judges, the press and leading corporations.”
Under the title ”The Greatest Story Never Told” Fred Gardner, the editor of O'Shaughnessy's, explains what is involved in making so many people falsely believe that marijuana smoking is a cause of lung cancer. He reveals that the work of Dr. Donald Tashkin, in the past no friend of cannabis, not only failed to find causation but also discovered evidence of a protective effect. Gardner reports that, ”as to the highly promising implication of his own study -that something in marijuana stops damaged cells from becoming malignant- Tashkin noted that an anti-proliferative effect of THC has been observed in cell-culture systems and animal models of brain, breast, prostate, and lung cancer. THC has been shown to promote known apoptosis (damaged cells die instead of reproducing) and to counter angiogenesis (the process by which blood vessels are formed -a requirement of tumor growth). Other antioxidants in cannabis may also be involved in countering malignancy, said Tashkin.”
Nevertheless, the government has decided to ruin the lives of 75 students attending San Diego State University. The DEA, at great taxpayer expense, has arrested them primarily for supplying fellow classmates with marijuana, a practice that has been going on since the 1960s. While it is true that these young people went about their business in a particularly reckless and arrogant manner using cell phone text messages to fill orders, still the effects of using marijuana do not even come close to justifying the waste of their talents and destruction of their careers.
In the pages of The Wall Street Journal Peggy Noonan gives her interesting and so far little heard take on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his relationship with Barak Obama, and its impact on the election. Is Noonan correct in this appraisal? I disagree but maybe she is more on the money then I am.
I agree much more with Doc K than I do with Peggy Noonan. Indeed, while I have long been an admirer of Barack, I have been often troubled by his behavior and this speech just about pushed me to the extreme position of Anyone But Barack. It hurts but that is where I am now. He is no more a uniter than W is, and remember his claim to be a uniter and not a divider.
Melanie Phillips, a person who should be listened to, writes about the upcoming 60th anniversary of Israel’s founding on May 8th. She assesses the current situation pointing out that, ”Israel is the only country whose creation was approved by the UN; yet it is the only country whose legitimacy is called into question. It is the only country which the world requires to compromise with its Palestinian Arab attackers and accede to their demands, even while they are firing rockets at its schools and houses and blowing up its citizens.”
Tony Blankley discusses the basis for the Western conflict with Islam. He argues that “perhaps the greatest secular gift to the world by Judeo-Christian civilization is its seminal concept of the individual, which it raises above the tribe or the collective.” Blankly then points out that, “radicalized Islam places little value on the individual, while holding up for supreme value the interests of the group - particularly their view of the group called Islam. And it is this aggressive, assertive insistence by radicalized Muslims in the West on subordinating our inherent rights to their collective demands that is slowly and more or less quietly forcing Westerners to take sides on the radicals' demands.”
The United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division has made a transcript of the sentencing hearing for convicted terrorism financier Sami Amin Al-Arian available. One can get a sense of how it went for the defendant from this quote by the Judge James S. Moody Jr.; “You are a master manipulator. You looked your
neighbors in the eyes and said you had nothing to do with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This trial exposed that as a lie.”
April 22, 2008 OBAMA DID INDEED PLAY THE RACE CARD ON BILL CLINTON
There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. OBAMA and his campaign staff have
deliberately played the race card on Bill Clinton and on anybody else within
range. This is despicable behavior and I personally resent it for many
reasons, not least that I was involved in the civil rights struggle way back
when it was real. The charges have been made worse by the drumbeat of media
accusations against Bill, aided and abetted by such gutter dwellers as Dick
Morris. As Bill said in a recent radio interview, it is impossible to label him as a racist, given his incredible record on that matter.
April 21, 2008 THE PATH TOWARDS A DEMOCRATIC ISLAM
In an article for the Jerusalem Post Daniel Pipes links to an essay in the Middle East Quarterly by Frederic L. Pryor of Swarthmore College which asks the question "Are Muslim Countries Less Democratic?". Pipes, however, disagrees with those who conclude that because Islam is the common factor it is the cause of Muslim countries’ undemocratic traditions and he points to the Christian Church’s centuries long struggle with democracy as a precedent. He argues that to, “render Islam consistent with democratic ways will require profound changes in its interpretation. For example, the anti-democratic law of Islam, the Shari‘a, lies at the core of the problem. Developed over a millennium ago, it presumes autocratic rulers and submissive subjects, emphasizes God's will over popular sovereignty, and encourages violent jihad to expand Islam's borders. Further, it anti-democratically privileges Muslims over non-Muslims, males over females, and free persons over slaves. For Muslims to build fully functioning democracies they basically must reject the Shai’a’s public aspects.”
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is calling attention to a paper by Brown University’s Andrew G. Boston. The scholarly article explains the Qur’anic origins of Islamic anti-Semitism. He argues that, “even if all non-Muslim Judeophobic themes were to disappear miraculously overnight from the Islamic world, the living legacy of anti-Jewish hatred, and violence rooted in Islam’s sacred texts-Qur’an, hadith, and sira-would remain intact. The assessment and understanding of Islamic anti-Semitism must begin with an unapologetic analysis of the anti-Jewish motifs contained in these foundational texts of Islam.”
Frank Gaffney Jr. very disapprovingly comments on the meeting between Jimmy Carter and Khaled Mashaal, the Syrian-based leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian arm, Hamas. His piece includes a history of the negative consequences of ex-president’s meddling and he asserts that, “Mr. Carter has come to epitomize the notion that ‘dialogue’ is always in order, no matter how odious or dangerous the interlocutor - or the extent to which they or their agendas will benefit from such interactions.”
April 16, 2008 A POWERFUL PLEA TO TREAT THE DISABLED AS A NOBLE, DESERVING MINORITY
I can attest to the power of these ideas about the disabled and to the
perusasive power of my dear friend, Lynne Landsberg. She is a noble
of interity and true grit and humor -- in the face of adversity. If I
on the other side in this matter, I would surrender and support her
She and her allies will indeed prevail.
April 15, 2008 THE BLIND SHEIKH WARNED US AND WE DID NOT LISTEN
In the pages of The New York Post Douglas Farah reviews former Assistant United States Attorney Andrew McCarthy’s new book, Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad, asserting that, ”the first World Trade Center bombing, in 1993, was the opening salvo in radical Islam's war against the US, yet its importance was missed by almost the entire intelligence and law enforcement communities.”
April 13, 2008 PETER COHEN'S CRITIQUE OF COSTA'S RECENT SPEECH
I give this top UN drug official, Antonio Costa, credit for showing up there in New Orleans at the Drug Policy Alliance conference last year. My old friend, Peter Cohen, nevertheless, demonstrates how wrong his facts are in a critique below of Costa‘s speech to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March.
Critique of Antonio Costa’s speech opening CND 2008
by Peter Cohen
At first sight Mr. Costa’s speech in March 2008 yields some space for critique of the global drug control system similar to that which we have aired for decades. At second sight the space he allows for referring to this critique is no where followed up with space for a different analysis of the drug use phenomenon and the huge variety in which it occurs .A different analysis that would allow the present one size fits all drug control system to be innovated or diversified at least, at best scrapped in its entirety.
In this short and limited discussion of the Costa speech I will assume the reader has read it. Its most important words are at the end where he hid a remark of large potential consequences for thousands of prisoners:
“Today I propose that Member States extend the concept of harm reduction to include the need to give serious consideration to whether the imposition of capital punishment for drug-related crimes is a best practice.”
This remark is courageous inside the killing fields of global drug policy and we should congratulate Costa on having made it, and made it at such a conspicuous location. All the rest of the speech is conventional wisdom, in as far as the word wisdom applies at all.
It is simply not true as he says that his speech is:
“drafted with the purpose of stimulating debate and promoting fresh thinking"
because he does not allow it to go outside
"the parameters and the perimeters of the UN Conventions.”
But it is precisely because of the monolithical legality of Treaty drug policies (one the INCB tries to nail on us with relentless vigor) we are in such a deep mess. Fresh thinking should go beyond the obsolete conventions that now span a century, and allow our ways of describing drug use, trade and production other than as self evident problems and criminal acts . What is a problem and crime one day may yield a Nobel prize the next. (Galileo or Savonarola would have won one now, whereas they were criminals during their lifetime in Costa’s homeland.)
Costa critiques those that critique the Treaties saying that:
“What many people do not see, or perhaps intentionally fail to recognize, are the achievements of the drug control system over the last century, and the improvements over the last decade.”
That’s right, he says achievements! The Treaties are supposed, by Costa, to have caused the fact that no more than 0,5% of the world population are problem drug users, plus the fact that non-problem drug users are 250 million, only 5% of the world population. So he says that 90% of the drug users have no problems with it, something we have known all along. Problem drug use is an exception, not the rule, despite the drug policies that marginalise, pathologise and criminalise any user all over the world. So, Costa could easily have said we do not need a UN based Inquisition that constructs a universal problem out of what is mostly not.
Moreover, Costa fails to remark that both life time and current use of some illicit drugs, in our present world has grown in countries where it was almost non existent in the days the Treaties were being written. We see large historic and cultural differences over time and place, although in countries where opiate use was culturally embedded (Persia, Afganistan, Pakistan) prevalence is still far higher than in countries where it was introduced in the 19th century. In the latter countries it is probably unchanged in spite of a huge effort to stamp out even its low level of prevalence (See Courtwright, Dark Paradise). Drugs like cocaine and cannabis were almost unknown in the 19th century in the West, but now are normal for large parts of Western countries. In spite of the Treaties and the early onset of illegality for the last mentioned drugs, their use has constantly grown during the life time of the Treaties and there is no reason to assume this growth will stop.
Novel drugs take time to become part of the cultural furniture that serves the many spaces of recreational behaviour but not all novel drugs are successful in doing so. This means that culturally novel drugs like cocaine or cannabis will for a long time know a level of prevalence that is far lower than classic culturally embedded drugs like alcohol and tobacco. This is true everywhere, and was true also before the Treaties. And no one knows if or when novel drugs will become as embedded as the classic ones, but cannabis is certainly on the way to become as household as apple pie, alcohol and aspirin. Treaty or no Treaty, other new drugs may follow.
Where Costa sees the ‘achievements’ of the Drug Treaties some one else might simply see nothing but ruins. Costa fails to try to convince us of why one would even superficially allow his ‘achievements’ to exist. “What ever the cause, the result is what counts’ is his grand support for the achievement thesis.
Is he being naïve when in talking about the possible effects of UNGASS ( or the Treaties in general)? He says that:
“Whether this is a coincidence, or a cause-effect relation, as a social scientist I cannot tell.”
As a social scientist he should hear alarm bells go off all over the place! If he really wants to speak of ‘achievements’ of the Treaties as a scientist he should feel obliged to offer more than just their postulation.
In fact, there is nothing. As I said elsewhere, in my review of the UNODC report on the Swedish drug policy, there is not a shred of evidence that Swedish drug policy has any of the "successful" effects that are ascribed to it. The same is true for the alleged effects world wide of the Treaties,
“Few United Nations Conventions have delivered similarly impressive results.“
Not a shred of evidence they produced the situation that Costa describes as a Treaty achievement, that is that culturally alien drugs have a lower level of prevalence than embedded drugs. And who would believe his claim that the Treaties produced a world wide “slashing of drug cultivation“?
Plenty of evidence though of the disasters the Treaties produced, and Costa does not shy away from mentioning them. His name for those disasters is not “disaster“, but “unintended consequence“. He probably did not borrow this term from Lamond Tullis who wrote a detailed study (Unintended Consequences: Illegal Drugs and Drug Policies in Nine Countries (Studies on the Impact of the Illegal Drug Trade, Vol. 4)
Boulder 1995.UNRISD) for UNRISD about massive drug productions in North and South America under this title.
Lamond Tullis not only shows how and why criminalisation of drug production destroys cultures, regions, governing systems and populations, but that they will continue to do so. After reading this UN study or seeing the ongoing rise of availibity at ever lower prices of drugs, the claim that drug production is "slashed" by the achievements of the Treaties can not be more than a rather tasteless joke. I recommend the Tullis study to Costa, and his staff.
A”rowdy pro drug conference“:
In his speech Costa mentions his performance at the DPA conference for drug policy reformers in 2007 in the destroyed city of New Orleans. He was applauded there for coming into the lions den. But everybody there opposed the Treaty policies in lucid and learned argumentations, to which he was helpless to reply. (In Vienna this year he reacted likewise to serious and honest questioning from Fredrick Polak of the Dutch Foundation for Drug Policy.) Now saying to the opposition he had in New Orleans that “legalisation of an anti social behaviour is a poison pill, not a silver bullet” is an unnecessary slap in the face of the seriousness with which he was received by the drug users and non drug users present at this conference . It is superficial and an evasion of discussion. No legaliser has ever said legalization is a silver bullet- there is no silver bullet- , and Costa fails to give any evidence for his statements that drug use is “anti social behaviour” or that legalizing it would be any where near a “poison pill“. This been there done that banality, of the kind we always hear from the pitiful liars working for the American Drug Czar’s office (ONDCP) or the White House , does not belong in a UN body that claims it is open to “fresh discussions“.
I will finish this short exposé quoting the statement Costa made that:
“Therefore, States must live up to their commitments, not least the UNGASS Declaration. A lax approach in one country or for one type of drug - like cannabis - can unravel the entire system.”
I agree fully with the last phrase of this statement, and the fear it represents. The Dutch for instance have shown that allowing universal access for adults to cannabis has not produced high levels of prevalence. In fact, use of all drugs in the Netherlands is at average or below average levels compared to surrounding countries. This indeed unravels the rigid belief system that maintains without shame or evidence that putting an Inquisition over access will curb use. The Dutch show that open access is just one of many factors, and probably not even an important one. The Dutch show that drug use levels vary between cities inside the Low Countries with differences larger than between countries in Europe although access in Holland is about the same everywhere . Costa can not explain in terms of the belief system that grounds the Treaties why the Swedes use twice as much cannabis as the Portuguese or the British twice as much as the Dutch.
The Dutch did not intend to show anything, just curb stupidity and criminilisation, but nonetheless their experience teaches us such important lessons that studying them might ‘unravel the entire system’, something Costa quite naturally fears and tries to prevent. Therefore there is no room for “fresh” discussion , on the contrary. Apart from his courageous remark on the death penalty, the Costa speech is stale beer in the guise of a hot potatoes.
I thank Job Arnold and Eliot Albert for their comments.
David Horovitz favorably reviews the new book 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War by historian Benny Morris in The Jerusalem Post. Horovitz observes that Morris’s ”new book, impeccably timed to coincide with our 60th anniversary, is notable for its insistence that the religious dimension of Arab opposition to Jewish sovereignty, the rejection of Israel as an ‘infidel’ and ‘alien’ presence, was overwhelming from the earliest days of the struggle for statehood - and was underestimated by Israel's leaders from the earliest days, too.”
April 10, 2008 FREE SPEECH UNDER MUSLIM ATTACK IN CANADA
The Christian Science Monitor provides us with a story about the attempt by some Muslim groups to use Canada's Human Rights Commissions (HRC) to censor speech they do not like. Specific targets include McLean’s Magazine, Canadian publisher Ezra Levant and author Mark Steyn. However, reporter Rondi Adamson also tell us that, “since January, op-eds supportive of Maclean's and Levant's positions from even left-leaning newspapers have abounded. A motion has been put forth in Canada's parliament to remove the section of the Human Rights Act that prescribes speech. Organizations such as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and PEN Canada (some of whose members can't abide Levant's and Steyn's politics) have called for similar amendments and for the complaints against Maclean's and Levant to be dropped.”
April 9, 2008 OBAMA'S SECRET MISSION TO BILLIONAIRE'S ROW IN SAN FRANCISCO
There is no doubt that the MSM, most of whom are in the tank for Obama, will
make no snide remarks about this visit which runs totally contrary to his claims and those of his wife that this is a truly DIFFERENT candidate who is being supported by the little people of the country. This is a fascinating tour of the realities behind this candidate's campaign. Why did he hide this visit? How much money did he take in during these few hours from these very rich people?
At the same time it is heartening to see a guy of his background treated
like royalty by these rich folks.
Like so many people who were actually involved in the real civil rights
movement, I continue to be confused and conflicted over the Obama candidacy.
I admire him very much and wish him well but I am deeply troubled by aspects
of his character and approach to the campaign. This piece from the
Foundation for the Defense of Democracies raises many issues that resonate
April 7, 2008 PEACEFUL MAJORITY MUST NOT BE IGNORED
On the Future of Freedom Foundation website Sheldon Richman refutes the pernicious idea that the vast majority of nonviolent Muslims are irrelevant. He argues that, ”the peaceful majority cannot be irrelevant as long as ideas rule the world. That last phrase may startle some readers, but it’s true. Contrary to what many people think, force does not rule the world. Ideas do, says historian and defense theorist Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, because ideas determine the direction in which people point their guns. If we want peaceful Muslims to prevail over those who use violence against innocents, it would be helpful if their ideas about nonviolence were reinforced.”
Syndicated columnist Bridget Johnson has written a rather pedestrian essay criticizing Dutch politician Geert Wilders film Fitna. From her piece, it is clear that Johnson favors a certain species of political correctness over the rights of women and the principle of free speech. However, the overwhelming majority of readers who commented on the story do not share her viewpoint. Most of them rebuke Johnson, some of them quite substantially and eloquently.
April 2, 2008 TO THE OBJECTIVE-MINDED, BUSH DID NOT LIE US INTO WAR
Here is more proof that the myths about cooking intelligence and lying about WMDs are just that - myths. I reviewed all of the available evidence some
years ago and came to the same conclusion. It is in my latest book Fatal
You may dislike W and believe that the Iraq war was a bad idea, but you
cannot claim to have proof that he lied about pre-war intelligence.
April 2, 2008 HATRED BROADCAST AND TAUGHT TO THE VERY YOUNG
The top of Melanie Phillips website presently features two pieces titled ”The war against the Jews” (14 and 13). In the first entry she links to an article by former New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief, Steve Erlanger, which discusses the ubiquitous incitement to hatred of the Jews in the Palestinian mosques and media, some of it aimed at toddlers. Phillips finds the essay worthwhile, however, she observers that, ”as of last month Erlanger moved on from Jerusalem to run the NYT’s Paris bureau. But in his entire four-year posting in Israel, he barely mentioned the Palestinian Arab incitement against Israel and the Jews. It was only when he had safely left the region altogether that he suddenly discovered that.”
In the other installment Phillips reproduces a message sent to her and the BBC by reader Kevin O'Sullivan. He asserts that ”if I stood on any street corner in London, holding anti-Semitic placards vilifying Jewish people, and encouraging hatred towards the most persecuted race in the history of man, I would rightly be arrested and hopefully prosecuted under any number of race hate laws, but the BBC can commit exactly the same crime day after day, and absolutely nothing is done.”
The Syrian born psychologist Wafa Sultan, who lives under a death threat, participated in a debate with an Egyptian Islamist named Tal'at Rmeih about the Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed. Al-Jazeera televised the event and in a perceptive column Frank J. Gaffney Jr. discusses it. He quotes Sultan as saying that, “all religions and faiths, throughout the history of humanity, have been subject to criticism and affronts. With time, this has helped in their reform and development. Any belief that chops off the heads of its critics is doomed to turn into terrorism and tyranny.” He also relates her advice to the Islamists: “If you want to change the course of events, you must reexamine your terrorist teachings, you must recognize and respect the right of the other to live, you must teach your children love, peace, coexistence, and productive work. When you do that, the world will respect you, will consider you in a better light, and will draw you in a better light.” Later, Al-Jazeera felt it prudent to apologize for allowing Wafa Sultan airtime.
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) has sent out a call for action from Richard L. Benkin, Ph.D of Interfaith Strength. It is in support of Muslim journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury who has been deemed by some to be too sympathetic towards Israel. The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) a para-military arm of the Bangladeshi government, ”notorious for its crackdowns on dissidents and wholesale violations of human rights,” stormed the offices of his newspaper and held Choudhury prisoner for some time.
March 26, 2008 MARIJUANA DE-CRIMINALIZATION HAS THE TIME COME?
On the most recent edition of HBO’s Bill Maher program Representative Barney Frank (D) Massachusetts states his intention to file a bill which would end federal prohibition of possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Congressman Frank is already receiving some published support. In an excellent column for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer travel writer Rick Steves compares the European approach to marijuana policy with that of the United States. He observes that, ”when it comes to marijuana, European leaders understand that a society must choose: Tolerate alternative lifestyles or build more prisons. They've made their choice. We're still building more prisons.”
Earlier this space called attention to a new film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders that is highly critical of the Koran. Well, Information Week is reporting that the e-business service company Network Solutions has suspended the website promoting this movie pending an investigation of possible acceptable use policies. Reporter Thomas Claburn tells us that, ”the Networks Solutions Acceptable use policy forbids, in addition to protected intellectual property, 'material that is obscene, defamatory, libelous, unlawful, harassing, abusive, threatening, harmful, vulgar, constitutes an illegal threat, violates export control laws, hate propaganda, fraudulent material or fraudulent activity, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable material of any kind or nature.' The inclusion of the clause 'otherwise objectionable material' appears to give Network Solutions the right to block sites because of any imaginable objection.”
March 20, 2008 FROM ALL FAWNING TO MUCH CRITICISM: IS THIS FAIR?
My neighborhood is full of Obama signs and my neighbors and friends and
relatives voted for him in droves. The media fawned over him for months,
for the most part. Much of the media still does but now the cable news,
the internet, and the bloggers are full of harsh new attacks. Here is just one
example. Is this fair? I am not so sure but most of the alleged
facts in this one piece seem accurate and damning.
The American press has devoted an ocean of ink to the suffering of the Palestinian people living in Gaza but a relative trickle addresses the torment of the Israelis living under a daily barrage of Hamas rockets. Mona Charen tackles this imbalance somewhat with her essay Worlds Apart Morally: Facing Mideast Facts. She reminds us that those living in, “Ashkelon, a city of 117,000 that traces its history back to the Canaanites, have been targeted by 50 rockets a day. The elderly, who cannot sprint to bomb shelters, simply ignore the sirens. They have little choice. But they, like all of Sderot’s residents, particularly the children, suffer from anxiety, sleep deprivation, and depression. Those who could afford to move have done so, but many remain trapped - unable to sell their homes.”
March 18, 2008 HOW DO WE DEFINE “MODERATE MUSLIM”?
The Syrian-American psychologist, Wafa Sultan, human rights commentator, Thomas Haidon, president of Muslims Against Sharia, Khalim Massoud, scholar of Islamic history, Robert Spencer, and ex-Muslim author, Abdul Kasem all took part in a fascinating and very important Frontpage Symposium. The question nominally being discussed concerned Christopher Hitchens notion that the term “moderate Muslims” should be replaced by ”anti-Fascist Muslims” as the former was condescending towards those so courageously risking their lives by speaking out.
However, that query was quickly superseded by the agreed upon need to define just exactly who was and was not a ”moderate Muslim” with Thomas Haidon setting the tone in the initial statement. He asserted that currently, ”there is no cohesive formulation as to what a moderate Muslim is. If we rely on the media, and misguided Western policy makers (and influencers) we see a distorted picture. We need to develop a clear understanding of what we mean by a moderate Muslim. Basically we need an objective test. Without a basic litmus test, it is impossible to understand the Muslim enemies of civilisation. So the starting point is to look at the characteristics of these people.”.The rest of this forum is devoted to an informative discussion of such a definition.
March 16, 2008 OBAMA AND HIS MINISTER A CONTINUING CONTROVERSY
Videos posted on YouTube such as this one have become an issue in this election. They have inspired widespread commentary including an essay by Ronald Kessler in The Wall Street Journal and Tel Belman’s opinion piece found on the website Israpundit.
I have mentioned in past posts on this site that I do not agree with guilt
by association but the candidate has praised this hatemonger time and time
again, even though Obama has said he sometimes says things he does not agree
with. Listen and watch these sermons -- and you will relaize that Obama
must say more and do more. Truly horrible utterances that have no place in
March 14, 2008 NICHOLAS SARKOZY’S DECLINING POPULARITY
Paul Belien observes that ten months after his election victory, based largely on a promise to curb the excesses of a Muslim population prone to rioting, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy’s approval rating has fallen from 65 to 38 percent. Belien’s article posted on The Brussels Journal contains a list of reasons for this decline including the fact that “the ‘thugs’ have since begun to ambush police and no longer refrain from shooting at officers, but the Sarkozy government had not clamped down on them.”
One group that could be expected to be especially upset by the horrendous attack on the Yeshiva Mercaz Harav in Jerusalem would be Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and they have condemned it in the strongest terms. The president of SPME, Edward S. Beck, states that, “The deliberate attack on this venerable institution of Jewish learning, a sacred seminary, cannot be interpreted as anything but an overt act of premeditated, genocidal anti-Semitism not dissimilar from pogroms in Eastern Europe and Nazi SS raids on Jewish communities in Western Europe. Jews were killed simply because they were Jewish. In no way can this be interpreted as an act of political liberation or of Palestinian self-determination and if the Palestinians insist that it is, then it must be interpreted as nothing less than an act of war against Jews and not just Israel.”
There is no question that the American presence in Afghanistan and its ouster of the previous regime has enormously improved the plight of women living there. However, as M. Ashraf Haidari, Political Counselor of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C., informs us they still face a danger that is growing. He reports that, “the Taliban have been able to regroup and expand their presence in the countryside where women are prime victims of attacks against soft targets. Taliban fighters have killed female teachers and burned down hundreds of schools, depriving more than 300,000 girls of education in the south and east of Afghanistan.”
The Danish Parliament has approved a $14 million pilot program to provide 500 incorrigible addicts with heroin maintenance. The Drug War Chronicleinforms us that, “Denmark will join a select group of European countries, including Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, where such programs have consistently resulted in a decline in property crime, as well as improvements in clients' health and welfare.” The fact that one country is copying another country’s program is important testimony to the efficacy of harm reduction strategies.
When asked in an interview about motivation for making the film auteur Kevin Booth replied, “when my mom was dying from liver failure, she was in an ICU unit with several others facing the same fate, all from a life of hard drinking. I was hit with this horrible smell that sickened me so deeply that I instantly lost my appetite for alcohol. After attending my third funeral in a row, I realized that the corporate culprits, Smirnoff, Dewar's, RJ Reynolds, DuPont and others, would never be punished.” You can view the entire film here.
March 2, 2008 HOW MUCH OF THIS PROBLEM CAN BE TRACED BACK TO DRUG PROHIBITION?
A remarkable story by Associated Press writer Holbrook Mohr tells about a survey his organization conducted which contacted each state agency in charge of juvenile correction facilities. They inquired about confirmed cases of physical, sexual and emotional abuse by staff members. He reports that, “according to the survey, more than 13,000 claims of abuse were identified in juvenile correction centers around the country from 2004 through 2007 - a remarkable total, given that the total population of detainees was about 46,000 at the time the states were surveyed in 2007.”
February 29, 2008 NEW FILM PROMISES GREAT CONTORVERSY
The government of Holland is very worried about a film that is supposed to be released next week by Dutch politician Geert Wilders. The piece will intersperse verses from the Koran with images of terrorist actions. The self-described Progressive Blog Getting it Rightquotes the MP as saying that, “With the help of existing images I want to show that the Koran is far more violent than all other holy books. It's a fascist book, because it inspires people all over the world to the most barbaric deeds, which are contrary to all our laws and values we believe in." Wilders’ purpose is to show that there is a fundamental difference between Islam and Christianity.
The film is already generating consequences with the trailer being the reason that the government of Pakistan took down You Tube not just in their country but throughout the world. In addition, there are the traditional death threats against Wilders this time posted on You Tube. However, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has some experience with this type of thing, is in a fascinating video interview defending Wilders’ right to speak.
February 28, 2008 DOES DRUG PROHIBITION HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS?
The Associated Press is reporting that for the first time in history more than one out of every one hundred American adults is in prison, 2,319,258 people overall. This of course is causing enormous expense with just the states spending more than $49 billion last year. Also, there is a racial component with one in thirty white males between the ages of 20 and 34 years old being behind bars, while the numbers for black males of the same age group is one in nine.
Nir Boms, vice president of the Center for Freedom in the Middle East, and Jonathan Spyer, a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, take issue with UNESCO’s designation of Damascus as the Arab Capital of Culture for 2008. The Cultural Capitals Program is supposed to foster greater international cooperation. They quote Syrian President Bashar Assad as declaring that, "Damascus is the capital of resistance culture by symbolizing Arab culture," characterizing it as, "the culture of freedom and defending freedom.”
However, Boms and Spyer point out that, ” the new Arab Capital of Culture has a unique approach to ‘international cooperation.’ Damascus serves as the headquarters of a long list of designated terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), and an alphabet soup of smaller organizations similarly committed to the practice of violence against civilians.”
One of the most unfair aspects of drug prohibition is the disparity in sentencing between those who are sentenced for possessing crack cocaine, predominately black people, and those who are sentenced for possessing powdered cocaine, predominately white people. Although 66% of crack users are Caucasians, 82% of those given jail time for crack are African-Americans and the sentences tend to be very harsh mandatory minimums much longer than if one had the same amount of powdered cocaine. Once again some Senators are attempting to remedy this injustice with a new bill (S. 1711) and the Drug Policy Alliance is urging us to call our Senators in support of this legislation.
Daniel Pipes discusses three recent developments in Great Britain on the History News Network. They are a counter-terrorism phrasebook that instructs civil servants issued by the Home Office whose purpose is obfuscation, the recognition of polygamous marriages, and the remarks of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the effect that the introduction of Islamic Sharia into British law may be unavoidable. On the latter, Pipes applauds the widespread reaction against the idea but fears the Anglican Church leader may be correct. He ends his piece by saying that, “these developments suggest that British appeasement concerning the war on terror, the nature of the family, and the rule of law are part of a larger pattern. Even more than the security threat posed by Islamist violence, these trends are challenging and perhaps will change the very nature of Western life.”
In their position paper they state that, “additional research is needed to clarify marijuana’s therapeutic properties and determine standard and optimal doses and routes of delivery. Unfortunately, research expansion has been hindered by a complicated federal approval process, limited availability of research-grade marijuana, and the debate over legalization. Marijuana’s categorization as a Schedule I controlled substance raises significant concerns for researchers, physicians, and patients.”
One person who would have been delighted and vindicated by the above news was Dr. John Morgan, who ironically passed away on the same day that the physicians issued their statement. In a farewell to the good doctor piece posted on the Reason website Jacob Sullum tells an anecdote which illustrates just how much the drug reform movement specifically and the world in general has lost. After a conference panel in December during which Sullum had with some trepidation talked about the taboo subject of controlled use of amphetamines Dr. Morgan told him that, ” he agreed that concern about the ‘methamphetamine epidemic’ had made it difficult to talk about the drug's legitimate uses, which do not necessarily require a doctor's prescription to validate them. He said he had personally found methamphetamine tremendously useful during his education and career, calling it one of the safest drugs around when used responsibly. Coming from most people in most contexts, this would have been a startling admission. But coming from the eminently reasonable Morgan and delivered in his usual matter-of-fact tone, it cut through the hysteria and introduced a much-needed alternative perspective. Morgan made a career of doing that, and his well-informed skepticism will be sorely missed.”
February 20, 2008 IS OBAMA A DELUSION OR A SLICK MAGICIAN OR .... ?
It was inevitable that serious questions would be raised by the columnitariat
about Prince Barak -- and the process is now starting in earnest. On the
editorial page of The Washington Post today, Robert J. Samuelson writes a
stinging attack on the front runner, titled "The Obama Delusion."
Samuelson bases his attack on study of the candidates proposed programs and
on the content of his speeches. He sees his programs as nothing new and
rather pedestrian. Samuelson's final words: "He seems to have hypnotized
most of the media and the public with his eloquence and the symbolism of his
life story. The result is a mass delusion that Obama is forthrightly
engaging the nation's major problems when, so far, he isn't."
Yesterday in The New York Times, columnist David Brooks wrote a similar
essay explaining that many Obama supporters are now experiencing Obama
Comedown Syndrome. This occurs when they come to realize that behind the
wonderful speeches and the dazzling persona, there is very little substance.
On the other side, I can report that several very sophisticated friends have
contacted me and my wife recently to say they have studied Obama's books and
his record. They have become convinced that he is the real deal and that he
deserves our support. As I have also mentioned recently, many of my closest
family members have reached similar conclusions.
This is going to be a difficult election. Since Obama may be in the Oval
Office soon, I hope my friends and family members are correct in their
optimism about him.
February 19, 2008 A DARK SIDE OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA
Playboy Magazine has a fascinating special report by Frank Owen which looks at the 2007 murder in Denver of registered caregiver and medical marijuana activist Frank Gorman and the growing association of violence with legal medical marijuana distribution. A very clear conclusion can be drawn here that these inadequate state medical cannabis laws do not end the black market in pot with its attendant mayhem.
The article quotes Jeff Schaler one of the harshest critics, from a libertarian perspective, of the medical marijuana movement: ”Being pro-marijuana is a religious crusade just as being anti-marijuana is a religious crusade. It has nothing to do with medicine. The reformers lie about marijuana just as much as the prohibitionists. To say marijuana is a cure all is just as ridiculous as saying it is evil. It’s neither.”
While we may disagree with Dr. Schaler on the medicinal worth of cannabis, after all aspirin does not cure anything either, we do agree on the solution to the problem, an end to government involvement with all aspects of the plant, medical, industrial and recreational, then people can decide for themselves if marijuana has medical value.
He was a tireless advocate of scientific rationalism when it came to the study of and policy towards marijuana. This approach produced an invaluable resource, the book Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts which he co-wrote with Lynne Zimmer and published in 1997. It remains the most reliable source of scientifically accurate information on marijuana yet written.
While he did not claim marijuana to be 100 percent harmless, he did argue that the evidence showed cannabis to be one of the most benign psychoactive drugs known to man. However, when he pushed for the legalization of marijuana he made it clear that it was not because the drug was largely safe but rather because there were some hazards that prohibition was ill advised. Morgan believed that a regime of regulation and control offered the best way minimize these dangers.
Dr. Morgan offered us a much needed rational, humane, courageous, authoritative voice and he will be missed.
February 18, 2008 MORE ON THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY AND ISLAMIC LAW
Writing perceptively in the Weekly Standard Joseph Loconte, a senior fellow at Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy, comments on the recent assertion by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, that the introduction of Islamic Sharia into the British legal system is unavoidable. Loconte discusses the origins Anglo-American conception of human rights quoting political philosopher Jeremy Waldron: "It is a conception of equality that makes no sense except in the light of a particular account of the relation between man and God.” He then gets to the heart of the matter arguing that, ”the difficult fact is that Islam has yet to show convincingly that its conception of God supports the human-rights ideals of liberal societies--from freedom of religion to the rights of women. The question that remains, the question ignored by the Archbishop of Canterbury, is how his Sharia scheme could possibly hasten this great democratic task.”
February 16, 2008 A COMMENDABLE ACT BY THE ITALIAN GOVERNMENT
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is circulating a petition designed to thank the government of Italy for removing a website which targeted Italian academics who opposed the boycott of Israeli universities.
It reads in part: We stand in solidarity with and thank those colleagues from Italy, of different faiths and ethnicities, to let them know that they are not alone and that, as scholars, we have an obligation to stand against racism and anti-Semitism.
We have learned from history that when intolerance and racial hatred is allowed to permeate academia, tyranny will prevail. The Italian government is to be commended for having learned the lessons of history.
February 14, 2008 THE WAYWARD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
In her recent editorial Helle Dale discusses the remarks by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to the effect that the introduction of Shariah into British law was unavoidable. She argues that, “interestingly enough, social cohesion is exactly what the Rev. Williams' remarks have produced as the British started contemplating the demise of their legal system. Sometimes, appreciation for your own institutions and values does not come until you find them under threat. In this case, the threat is not Muslims living in British society as much as it is those who advocate their presence as a reason to abandon the cultural, legal and political structures that have made Britain what it is over the centuries.” We can all take some comfort from the widespread and very negative reaction to the churchman’s assertion.
February 14, 2008 THE PROPER JOURNALISTIC RESPONSE TO A MURDER ATTEMPT
The Danish police have foiled a plot to kill cartoonist Kurt Westergaard who incurred the wrath of Islamic fundamentalists with his published drawing of Muhammad wearing a bomb in his turban. In a rare act of courageous European defiance three of the largest newspapers in Denmark have committed to reprinting the offending editorial cartoon.
February 13, 2008 THE MEDIA CANONIZATION OF OBAMA REALLY CANNOT GET ANY LOWER THAN THIS
Yes, lower. This is really bizarre stuff. The media keeps sending Obama
Valentines. Mathews talks about the thrill going up his leg. I am not making this up. And then the commentators dump on McCain and the Virginia
Republican Party etc. What has happened to the ethical traditions of fair journalism? Obama has captivated almost everybody including much of the media.
The other bizarre part of this is that I think Obama is a decent guy and a
brilliant one at that -- and as I have said repeatedly I would not be
terribly upset if he won the whole thing. Except for the way he has been
treated with such awe by the press. And except for the shabby way that the
Clintons have been treated. They are not angels but I do remember how well
off the country was during Bill's reign.
I also wonder what will happen when President Obama emerges from his
honeymoon in office. Will the media turn on him with savagery like jilted
February 13, 2008 HERE'S HILLARY'S SIDE OF THAT FJB STORY
It is hard to say at this stage if this story is true and if it is an
important issue. It certainly runs against the grain of all the stories
about Hillary. Who knows if it might have been said in the heat of the
moment and then never repeated again? If true, it certainly is not a pretty
side of HRC. In any event, here is her side. Of course, she does not need
any more bad news at this stage of her career.
February 12, 2008 CONTINUED EROSION OF BRITISH LAW
The erosion of British law in favor of Islamic Sharia continues with a decision by the Department for Work and Pensions that was not publicly announced. The Sunday Telegraphis reporting that, “Husbands with multiple wives have been given the go-ahead to claim extra welfare benefits following a year-long Government review. Even though bigamy is a crime in Britain, the decision by ministers means that polygamous marriages can now be recognised formally by the state, so long as the weddings took place in countries where the arrangement is legal.” The money can be deposited directly into the husband’s bank account.
February 12, 2008 A READER DISAGEES WITH ME ABOUT BARACK AND CLINTON
In response to several posts a reader writes: "You fail to apply the same critical standards to Hillary as you do to Barack. While each of us has a right to our opinions, nonetheless, it is disturbing that you fail to apply the same critical standards to Hillary as you do to Barack. Regarding him, far more threatening to Israel than anything Jeremiah
Wright or Farrakhan says is the role the Catholic Jihadist Zbigniew Brezezinski will have in his administration. FYI the Jesuit order, along with their British collaborators (chief among them 'Jack' Philby) removed the conservative Hashemite rulers of Arabia, descendents of the founder of Islam, and placed the medieval Wahabbis in charge of the oil wealth and the holy sites of the religion Read John Loftus and Mark Aarons book the secret war against the Jews for more background. As for Hillary, remember the kiss, the one she bestowed upon Suha Arafat only a few years ago, or what she told Paul Fray, Bill's campaign manager, after his first election defeat in Arkansas, 'you f**king Jew bastard.' Is this your idea of Israel's savior? If so, you have lost your sechel."
I doubt some of the facts this reader sends along but I do understand his complaint. In response I would say that I would guess that Barack will be as good or better for Israel than Hillary. However, I am still worried by the Farrakhan connection that
Barack seems to have. And I still believe that Barack is getting a free pass from much of the press and much of the press acts as if they were on his team.
Another point of interest -- many of my family members and most of my
neighbors are solidly for Barack. Finally, I would not be upset, as I said, if he ends up in the Oval Office but I worry about the mistakes he will make in the first two years.
In her column Suzanne Fields discusses our expectations for each of the three leading candidates for the Oval Office. She concludes that, "Nobody's perfect, but fine distinctions are important. Voter, know thyself.
February 11, 2008 HERE IS ANOTHER THOUGHTFUL APPRAISAL OF THE CULT OF OBAMA -- AND THIS ONE FROM AN AUSSIE
Thank heavens for these insightful journalists who raise valid questions about the Obama magic movement. Geoff Elliott writes: "The atmosphere at his events is such that one wonders if Obama is about to walk out with a basket with some loaves and fishes to feed the thousands. And therein lies the danger for Obama. The Obama shuttle has made it into orbit but at some
point he's going to have to land this thing back on Earth."
And he is going to have to come up with some specific policy proposals in
addition to leaving Iraq.
February 11, 2008 WHY HILLARY DESERVES
TO WIN -- BECAUSE SHE IS THE BEST QUALIFIED
Below is the best, and the most passionate, argument I have read making
the case for why Hillary should be nominated. Because she is the most
qualified. Sexist criticism of her is accepted as the norm. Any
critcism -- repeat, any criticism -- of Obama is labeled as racist.
Read this and go out and work for justice and for Hillary.
GOODBYE TO ALL
by Robin Morgan
"Goodbye To All That"
was my (in)famous 1970 essay breaking free from a politics of
accommodation especially affecting women.
During my decades in civil-rights, anti-war, and contemporary women's
movements, I've avoided writing another specific "Goodbye . . .". But
not since the suffrage struggle have two communities--the joint
conscience-keepers of this country--been so set in competition, as the
contest between Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) and Barack Obama (BO)
Goodbye to the double standard . . .
--Hillary is too ballsy but
too womanly, a Snow Maiden who's emotional, and so much a politician as
to be unfit for politics.
--She's "ambitious" but he
shows "fire in the belly." (Ever had labor pains? )
--When a sexist idiot
screamed "Iron my shirt!" at HRC, it was considered amusing; if a
racist idiot shouted "Shine my shoes!" at BO, it would've inspired
hours of airtime and pages of newsprint analyzing our national
Kennedys--Kathleen, Kerry, and Bobby Jr.--all endorsed Hillary. Sen.
Ted, age 76, endorsed Obama. If the situation were reversed, pundits
would snort "See? Ted and establishment types back her, but the
forward-looking generation backs him." (Personally, I'm unimpressed
with Caroline's longing for the Return of the Fathers. Unlike the rest
of the world, Americans have short memories. Me, I still recall Marilyn
Monroe's suicide, and a dead girl named Mary Jo Kopechne in
Goodbye to the toxic
viciousness . . .
Carl Bernstein's disgust at
Hillary's "thick ankles." Nixon-trickster Roger Stone's new
Hillary-hating 527 group, "Citizens United Not Timid" (check the
capital letters). John McCain answering "How do we beat the bitch?"
with "Excellent question!" Would he have dared reply similarly to "How
do we beat the black bastard?" For shame.
Goodbye to the HRC nutcracker with metal spikes between splayed thighs.
If it was a tap-dancing blackface doll, we would be righteously
outraged-and they would not be selling it in airports. Shame.
Goodbye to the most intimately violent T-shirts in election history,
including one with the murderous slogan "If Only Hillary had married
O.J. Instead!" Shame.
Goodbye to Comedy Central's
"Southpark" featuring a storyline in which terrorists secrete a bomb in
HRC's vagina. I refuse to wrench my brain down into the gutter far
enough to find a race-based comparison. For shame.
Goodbye to the sick,
malicious idea that this is funny. This is not " Clinton hating," not
"Hillary hating." This is sociopathic woman-hating. If it were about
Jews, we would recognize it instantly as anti-Semitic propaganda; if
about race, as KKK poison. Hell, PETA would go ballistic if such
vomitous spew were directed at animals. Where is our sense of
outrage-as citizens, voters, Americans?
Goodbye to the news-coverage target-practice . . .
The women's movement and
Media Matters wrung an apology from MSNBC's Chris Matthews for
relentless misogynistic comments (http://www.womensmediacenter.com/
). But what about NBC's Tim Russert's continual sexist asides and his
all-white-male panels pontificating on race and gender? Or CNN's Tony
Harris chuckling at "the chromosome thing" while
interviewing a woman from The White House Project? And that's not even
mentioning Fox News.
Goodbye to pretending the black community is entirely male and all
women are white . . .
Surprise! Women exist in all
opinions, pigmentations, ethnicities, abilities, sexual preferences,
and ages--not only African American and European American but Latina
and Native American, Asian American and Pacific Islanders, Arab
American and-hey, every group, because a group wouldn't be alive if we
hadn't given birth to it. A few non-racist countries may exist--but
sexism is everywhere. No matter how many ways a woman breaks free from
other oppressions, she remains a female human being in a world still so
patriarchal that it's the "norm."
So why should all women not be as justly proud of our womanhood and the
centuries, even millennia, of struggle that got us this far, as black
Americans, women and men, are justly proud of their struggles?
Goodbye to a campaign where he has to pass as white (which
whites-especially wealthy ones--adore), while she has to pass as male
(which both men and women demanded of her, and then found
unforgivable). If she were black or he were female we wouldn't be
having such problems, and I for one would be in heaven. But at present
such a candidate wouldn't stand a chance-even if she shared Condi
Rice's Bush-defending politics.
I was celebrating the pivotal power at last focused on African American
women deciding on which of two candidates to bestow their vote--until a
number of Hillary-supporting black feminists told me they're being
called "race traitors."
So goodbye to conversations
about this nation's deepest scar-slavery-which fail to acknowledge that
labor- and sexual-slavery exist today in the US and elsewhere on this
planet, and the majority of those enslaved are women.
Women have endured sex/race/ethnic/religious hatred, rape and battery,
invasion of spirit and flesh, forced pregnancy; being the
majority of the poor, the illiterate, the disabled, of refugees,
caregivers, the HIV/AIDS afflicted, the powerless. We have survived
invisibility, ridicule, religious fundamentalisms, polygamy, teargas,
forced feedings, jails, asylums, sati, purdah, female genital
mutilation, witch burnings, stonings, and attempted gynocides. We have
tried reason, persuasion, reassurances, and being extra-qualified, only
to learn it never was about qualifications after all. We know that at
this historical moment women experience the world differently from
men--though not all the same as one another--and can govern
differently, from Elizabeth Tudor to Michele Bachelet and Ellen Johnson
We remember when Shirley Chisholm and Patricia Schroeder ran for this
high office and barely got past the gate-they showed too much passion,
raised too little cash, were joke fodder. Goodbye to all that. (And
goodbye to some feminists so famished for a female president they were
even willing to abandon women's rights in backing Elizabeth Dole.)
Goodbye, goodbye to . . .
--blaming anything Bill
Clinton does on Hillary (even including his womanizing like the Kennedy
guys--though unlike them, he got reported on). Let's get real. If he
hadn't campaigned strongly for her everyone would cluck over what that
meant. Enough of Bill and Teddy Kennedy locking their alpha male horns
while Hillary pays for it.
--an era when parts of the populace feel so disaffected by politics
that a comparative lack of knowledge, experience, and skill is actually
seen as attractive, when celebrity-culture mania now infects our
elections so that it's "cooler" to glow with marquee charisma than to
understand the vast global complexities of power on a nuclear, wounded
--the notion that it's fun
to elect a handsome, cocky president who feels he can learn on the job,
goodbye to George W. Bush and the destruction brought by his
inexperience, ignorance, and arrogance.
Goodbye to the accusation that HRC acts "entitled" when she's worked
intensely at everything she's done-including being a
nose-to-the-grindstone, first-rate senator from my state.
Goodbye to her being exploited as a Rorschach test by women who reduce
her to a blank screen on which they project their own fears, failures,
Goodbye to the phrase "polarizing figure" to describe someone who
embodies the transitions women have made in the last century and are
poised to make in this one. It was the women's movement that quipped,
"We are becoming the men we wanted to marry." She heard us, and
Goodbye to some women letting history pass by while wringing their
hands, because Hillary isn't as "likeable" as they've been warned they
must be, or because she didn't leave him, couldn't "control" him, kept
her family together and raised a smart, sane daughter. (Think of the
blame if Chelsea had ever acted in the alcoholic, neurotic manner of
the Bush twins!) Goodbye to some women pouting because she didn't bake
cookies or she did, sniping because she learned the rules and then bent
or broke them. Grow the hell up. She is not running for
Ms.-perfect-pure-queen-icon of the feminist movement. She is
running to be President of the United States .
Goodbye to the shocking American ignorance of our own and other
countries' history. Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir rose through party
ranks and war, positioning themselves as proto-male leaders. Almost all
other female heads of government so far have been related to men of
power-granddaughters, daughters, sisters, wives, widows: Gandhi,
Bandaranike, Bhutto, Aquino, Chamorro, Wazed, Macapagal-Arroyo, Johnson
Sirleaf, Bachelet, Kirchner, and more. Even in our "land of
opportunity," it's mostly the first pathway "in" permitted to women:
Reps. Doris Matsui and Mary Bono and Sala Burton; Sen. Jean Carnahan .
. . far too many to list here.
Goodbye to a misrepresented generational divide . . .
Goodbye to the so-called
spontaneous "Obama Girl" flaunting her bikini-clad ass online-then
confessing Oh yeah it wasn't her idea after all, some guys got her to
do it and dictated the clothes, which she said "made me feel like a
Goodbye to some young women eager to win male approval by showing
they're not feminists (at least not the kind who actually threaten the
status quo), who can't identify with a woman candidate because she is
unafraid of eeueweeeu yucky power, who fear their boyfriends might look
at them funny if they say something good about her. Goodbye to women of
any age again feeling unworthy, sulking "what if she's not electable?"
or "maybe it's post-feminism and whoooosh we're already free." Let a
statement by the magnificent Harriet Tubman stand as reply. When asked
how she managed to save hundreds of enslaved African Americans via the
Underground Railroad during the Civil War, she replied bitterly, "I
could have saved thousands-if only I'd been able to convince them they
I'd rather say a joyful Hello to all the glorious young women who do
identify with Hillary, and all the brave, smart men-of all ethnicities
and any age--who get that it's in their self-interest, too. She's
better qualified. (D'uh.) She's a high-profile candidate with an
enormous grasp of foreign- and domestic-policy nuance, dedication to
detail, ability to absorb staggering insult and personal pain while
retaining dignity, resolve, even humor, and keep on keeping on. (Also,
yes, dammit, let's hear it for her connections and funding and
party-building background, too. Obama was awfully glad about those when
she raised dough and campaigned for him to get to the Senate in the
I'd rather look forward to what a good president he might make in eight
years, when his vision and spirit are seasoned by practical
know-how--and he'll be all of 54. Meanwhile, goodbye to turning him
into a shining knight when actually he's an astute, smooth pol with
speechwriters who've worked with the Kennedys' own
speechwriter-courtier Ted Sorenson. If it's only about ringing
rhetoric, let speechwriters run. But isn't it about getting the
policies we want enacted?
And goodbye to the ageism . . .
How dare anyone unilaterally
decide when to turn the page on history, papering over real inequities
and suffering constituencies in the promise of a feel-good campaign?
How dare anyone claim to unify while dividing, or think that to rouse
US youth from torpor it's useful to triage the single largest
demographic in this country's history: the boomer generation--the
majority of which is female?
Older woman are the one
group that doesn't grow more conservative with age-and we are the
generation of radicals who said "Well-behaved women seldom make
history." Goodbye to going gently into any goodnight any man prescribes
for us. We are the women who changed the reality of the United States .
And though we never went away, brace yourselves: we're back!
We are the women who brought this country equal credit, better pay,
affirmative action, the concept of a family-focused workplace; the
women who established rape-crisis centers and battery shelters,
marital-rape and date-rape laws; the women who defended lesbian custody
rights, who fought for prison reform, founded the peace and
environmental movements; who insisted that medical research include
female anatomy, who inspired men to become more nurturing parents, who
created women's studies and Title IX so we all could cheer the WNBA
stars and Mia Hamm. We are the women who reclaimed sexuality from
violent pornography, who put child care on the national agenda, who
transformed demographics, artistic expression, language itself. We are
the women who forged a worldwide movement. We are the proud successors
of women who, though it took more than 50 years, won us the vote.
We are the women who now comprise the majority of US voters.
Hillary said she found her own voice in New Hampshire . There's not a
woman alive who, if she's honest, doesn't recognize what she means.
Then HRC got drowned out by campaign experts, Bill, and media's
obsession with All Things Bill.
So listen to her voice:
"For too long, the history
of women has been a history of silence. Even today, there are those who
are trying to silence our words.
"It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or
drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are
born girls. It is a violation of human rights when woman and girls are
sold into the slavery of prostitution. It is a violation of human
rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire and burned to
death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small. It is a
violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own
communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a
tactic or prize of war. It is a violation of human rights when a
leading cause of death worldwide along women ages 14 to 44 is the
violence they are subjected to in their own homes. It is a violation of
human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own
families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being
sterilized against their will.
"Women's rights are human rights. Among those rights are the right to
speak freely--and the right to be heard."
"We are, all of us, exploring a world none of us understands. . . .
searching for a more immediate, ecstatic, and penetrating mode of
living. . . . [for the] integrity, the courage to be whole, living in
relation to one another in the full poetry of existence. The struggle
for an integrated life existing in an atmosphere of communal trust and
respect is one with desperately important political and social
consequences. . . . Fear is always with us, but we just don't have time
She ended with the commitment "to practice, with all the skill of our
being: the art of making possible."
And for decades, she's been learning how.
So goodbye to Hillary's second-guessing herself. The real question is
deeper than her re-finding her voice. Can we women find ours? Can we do
this for ourselves? "Our President, Ourselves!"
Time is short and the contest tightening. We need to rise in furious
energy--as we did when courageous Anita Hill was so vilely treated in
the US Senate, as we did when desperate Rosie Jiminez was butchered by
an illegal abortion, as we did and do for women globally who are
condemned for trying to break through. We need to win, this time.
Goodbye to supporting HRC tepidly, with ambivalent caveats and
apologetic smiles. Time to volunteer, make phone calls, send
emails, donate money, argue, rally, march, shout, vote.
Me? I support Hillary Rodham because she's the best qualified of all
candidates running in both parties. I support her because her
progressive politics are as strong as her proven ability to withstand
what will be a massive right-wing assault in the general election. I
support her because she's refreshingly thoughtful, and I'm bloodied
from eight years of a jolly "uniter" with ejaculatory politics. I
needn't agree with her on every point. I agree with the 97 percent of
her positions that are identical with Obama's-and the few where hers
are both more practical and to the left of his (like health care). I
support her because she's already smashed the first-lady stereotype and
made history as a fine senator, and because I believe she will continue
to make history not only as the first US woman president, but as a
great US president.
As for the "woman thing"?
Me, I'm voting for Hillary
not because she's a woman--but because I am.
February 2, 2008
New York City
The website PRESSTV is reporting that Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit is decrying the collective punishment imposed on the people of Gaza by Israel. However, with regard those people seeking relief of their suffering in Egypt he states in a television interview that, “anyone who breaches the border will have their legs broken.”
It is great to see the attention paid to my good friend's important work across the pond.
(introduced by Anthony Stadlen)
conducts Inner Circle Seminar No. 131
Sunday 12 October 2008, 10AM to 5PM
ADDICTION IS A CHOICE
Professor Jeffrey A. Schaler is the world’s leading disbeliever in ‘addiction’. He is an existential psychotherapist and full time professor in the Department of Justice, Law and Society at American University’s School of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. His book Addiction is a Choice (2000) argues:
1. No drug (including alcohol and tobacco) is ‘addictive’.
2. Drugs are not intrinsically safe or dangerous, good or bad.
3. Disease refers to cellular pathology, not behaviour.
4. ‘Loss of control’ is an unfalsifiable, hence unscientific, hypothesis.
5. ‘Addiction’ is ethical, not medical.
6. Focussing on the existential reasons for ‘addiction’ can help drug users address and resolve the problems in living they try to solve with drugs.
Whether you agree, disagree, or are undecided, you are welcome to discuss Professor Schaler’s argument and evidence with him in this important seminar.
Venue: Herringham Hall, Regent’s College, Inner Circle, London NW1
Subscription: Students £88, others £110, by 12 April 2008
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857, E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
The news today is all running in Obama's favor with some of the support
expressed in almost hysterical religious terms. If this keeps up he will be
in the Oval Office by next year. This might not be bad thing for the country, maybe. MAYBE. But in line with some of the comments linked to this story from Jake Tapper, I have not the vaguest idea what he will do once he gets
into office. This is both wonderful and scary. I congratulate commentators
like Tapper for raising these issues. Most of the press serves as a cheering section for this religious revival masquerading as an election.
February 7, 2008 WHERE IS OBAMA ON MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION?
Columnist Steve Chapman has a perceptive article in The Washington Times commenting on Barak Obama’s seeming inability to make up his mind on the subject of marijuana decriminalization. Chapman asserts that this, “episode reveals that as a candidate, Mr. Obama is more fond of bold rhetoric than bold policies. But it also proves the impossibility of talking sense on the subject of illicit drugs during a political campaign. That course of action would mean admitting the inadmissible: that the prohibition of cannabis has been cruel, wasteful and fraudulent.”
The latest offering from Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) features an informative article by Barbara Kay which discusses in depth an important book Academics Against Israel and the Jews. She describes it as a, “collection of essays by knowledgeable scholars and pro-Israel activists” and “an important new information resource, for it is the first comprehensive analysis of this subject extending beyond a single country.”
February 5, 2008 MORE QUESTIONS FOR OBAMA THAT RARELY GET ASKED
By the MSM, that is. To his credit, Obama has addressed some of these issues in various interviews but they rarely get much attention. He is a brilliant guy and an attractive candidate. At some point he is going to have to make a major statement about his pastor and his long affiliation with a church that treats Farrakhan as a hero. I am sure that all the press folks and bloggers who are biased in favor of Obama never really dig in on these matters, which reveal rank hatred and bias.
February 5, 2008 SUPER TUESDAY ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THE PRESS CORONATION OF OBAMA
I overslept today and when I came downstairs for coffee, my wife, Marj, told me that I was lucky that I was not awake to watch the interview of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the NBC Today Show. She was more than a little upset at the unfairness of it all. She said that Matt Lauer did a softball interview, a puff piece treating Obama with great deference and acting as if he were being crowned. He faced no hard questions. On the other hand, Meredith Viera grilled Clinton in just the opposite fashion, showing little respect and raising all kind of tough issues.
As I have made clear in previous messages and posts on this site and elsewhere, at one level of my being I am delighted to see an eloquent black man in line to become president. Same for my wife. We both have been devoted to the cause of racial equality for decades. However, we both oppose the racial pandering that has become a kind of press riot or stampede to say nice things about Obama and bad things about Hillary and Bill. The bias is a disgrace to the traditions of a free press and an unbiased government.
As a result of all this I am going to vote for Hillary in the Maryland Primary next Tuesday. For a whole variety of reasons, I had not planned to do this but the reeking bias in favor of Barack has pushed me over the edge. This is a shame. I am not sure which way I will vote in the general election. I do wonder how many other traditional Democrats share my concerns.
February 5, 2008 A PLEA TO ACCEPT THE FACT THAT FANATICS RULE ISLAM TODAY
This message by Dr. Emmanuel Tanay has been sent to me by several people. It is making the rounds of the Internet. This is a compelling cosmic plea. I suspect that most of it is true. [Tanay's message]
I would add the fact that I remember being on an investigation in Mississippi in about 1962 or so when the federal troops were facing a near-insurrection at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. At the time I was Chief of the Administration of Justice Section of the US Commission on Civil Rights. My investigation was taking place some distance away in Jackson, the capital of the state and some would say the center of Southern resistance to desegregation and civil rights for Negroes. These were tense, dangerous times and I recall being somewhat concerned over our personal safety. "Our" meaning the young attorney with me and myself, both unarmed.
My reason for bringing this up in this context is that while the fanatics were fanning the flames of hatred, I found that the average native white Mississippian who opened his or her door to us was polite and helpful. Remember that I identified ourselves to them as staff members of the US Commission on Civil Rights, looking for evidence to defend a white Christian minister who was helping Negroes obtain their civil rights. That minister had been put in jail by the racist local officials. I helped get him out and defended him in a local court. I was helped by these decent white folks -- but the fanatics still seemed to be in charge. Eventually in the years ahead the good guys who helped me and whom I helped became dominant.
Lets help the silent or cowed majority of decent Muslims -- and hope they persevere over the fanatic nut cases who now dominate the Muslim universe.
January 30, 2008 AT LEAST SOMEONE AGREES WITH ME IN DEFENDING THE CLINTONS ON THE RACE CARD CHARGE
I am getting royally annoyed at the gang mentality in the media and among
political leaders that the Clintons keep playing the race card. Here is one
among many others who say no. I do not even say I intend to vote for
Hillary. It is just that the country has gone overboard in annointing Obama
-- who I admire -- and in treating every challenge to him as a vicious
racial attack. I have linked to only one supporting comment from Crawford
but there are many others, as I said. It is good to know that all of us
have not lost our minds.
January 26, 2008 A QUESTION FOR JIMMY CARTER, BISHOP TUTU, AND OTHER BIGOTS LIKE THEM
Below you can see an article by Melanie Philips describing the propaganda victories that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are winning regarding the plight of Palestinians in Gaza. I find that, save for drug policy, I agree with Ms. Philips on almost everything. Her columns and diary entries should win all the prizes possible, including Pulitzers, if she is eligible. In any event, my main point regarding her piece is to emphasize the argument made that to the world and to bigots like Jimmy Carter and Bishop Tutu only the Jews are committting apartheid in regard to the Palestinians living in Gaza. The Arabs in Egypt control the other border and insist on keeping their Arab kinsman locked up so that they can blame the Jews in Israel for all of their misfortunes.
My question for Jimmy and the Bishop and to others (to whom we shall email these questions) is: to what extent and in what manner do you agree with Ms. Philips' argument that the Arabs in Egypt are practicing apartheid in the same manner that the Israelis are? A related question is: do you believe that both bordering countries bear part of the blame for the Palestinian situation or only the Jews in Israel? Are you not being religious bigots if you say the latter?
January 25, 2008 WILL WONDERS NEVER CEASE? THE GRAY LADY MAKES SENSE ON ITS ENDORSEMENTS OF CLINTON AND MCCAIN
I am so used to disagreeing with the wimpy liberalism of The New York Times
on most matters of editorial opinion that I was shocked when my wife told me
late last night that the news was out that the editors had said they were
for Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee and John McCain on the
Republican side. These choices are explained in the paper today. I agree
more strongly with the rationale of the Democratic choice than I do with
that regarding the Republican. However, at the bottom line I am with the
Times, a rare event. Read the editorials here and here.
I would be happy with either one as president. Wait, not happy --
January 24, 2008 HAMAS: 2, WORLD: NIL
By Melanie Philips
Once again, the shrewd strategists of Hamas have played a blinder in the past few days, managing to wrong-foot the governments of both Israel and Egypt and manipulate the ever-obliging western media. FULL TEXT
January 23, 2008 VILE AS USUAL
And more proof that the thugs are winning most of the propaganda wars -- or
the war of words and ideas. It is not just Israel that is placed in danger
but the entire West. The Islamists are doing a wonderful job of gaining
allies among the Western elites who are thereby destroying the basis for the
freedoms that allow them to survive and prosper and speak. Again, Melanie
Philips is superb in her analysis of this truly depressing and vile
Who shut off the electricity in Gaza. Those miserable Israelis. Right?
January 21, 2008 THE UPLIFTING EBENEZER SERMON -- BY OBAMA
This is a beautiful statement. I give the guy a lot of credit for this one.He deserves it. Again, I wonder what it means in practical terms, but perhaps it simply means that beautiful ideas, eloquently expressed, have a place in presidential politics. A hat tip to Andrew Sullivan for alerting
me to this. Again, it all fits on MLK day.
January 20, 2008 OBAMA,WHITE GUILT, AND THE FAILURES OF THE LIBERALS
Let me be clear. Barack Obama deserves to be admired and applauded -- but not canonized. Yet, the latter is what is happening. It all stems from white liberal guilt and from a belief in affirmative action. This wonderful, brilliant man is indeed America's first affirmative action presidential candidate. It would not be tragic in my eyes if he ended up in the Oval Office, just terribly unjust and a violation of the basic principles that underlie our free society.
The failures of the liberals are further documented when traditional liberals like me usually have to find sensible commentaries on this situation in what must be termed right wing or conservative publications. That bothers the hell out of me. Here is a sensible one I read today, on the MLK weekend Sunday, in FrontPage Magazine. Thanks to that publication and to author Joseph Puder for being honest and right on target.
My hope is that the Dems somehow come to their senses and compromise on Hillary for Pres and Barack for VP. I predicted that a long time ago in print in one of my columns in The Washington Times. It ought to happen. Still, as I wrote then in that column, I will have difficulty voting for them because the major theme of the liberals like them is retreat and appeasement. I suspect they will change once in office. At least I hope so since such a ticket would win in my opinion.
January 20, 2008 I TOLD IRSHAD SHE REMINEDED ME OF DR. KING
And here is the latest message from her that just arrived on the start of the MLK weekend. Read this material and I know you will be as impressed as I was. MLK always inspired me when he spoke to crowds and so did Irshad. And when he spoke person to person, he was humble and easy. Same for Irshad. Today we need heroes and heroines. Here is Irshad. A force of nature. Thank God for her. Or thank whoever you pray to.
January 17, 2008 MODERATE MUSLIMS ARE FIGHTING BACK
The organization Muslims Against Sharia: Islamic Reform Movement presents a direct challenge to Islamic terrrorism. In its manifesto it takes up the subject of violence saying, "Islam has no place for violence. Any person calling for an act of violence in the name of Islam must be promptly excommunicated. Any grievances must be addressed by lawful authorities. It is the religious and civic duty of every Muslim to unconditionally condemn any act of terrorism perpetrated in the name of Islam. Any Muslim group that has ties to terrorism in any way, shape, or form, must be universally condemned by both religious and secular Muslims."
The website includes a Blog with a link to an article by Joe Kaufman titled Terrorizing Free Speech which describes a disturbing attempt to silence the author. Kaufman states that, "the suit against me is entirely a frivolous one, which attempts to deny my First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly. Really, the only threat that I pose to organizations such as these is my very existence. They do not want me writing about their friends and they do not want me giving speeches about their friends, because they fear that what I write and say may lead to arrests and the closures of groups - because what I write and say is fact and nothing less. So by taking me to court, they feel that they may have a chance to shut me up - to force me into financial ruin and shut me up."
January 16, 2008 THE REAL SHAME IS THAT THE MSM HAS LARGELY IGNORED THIS
By this, I mean the groveling to the Princes of oil by our own President. How did we get into this mess? It would be worth any price to get out of it. Investor’s Business Daily has told a good story here that we all should study.
January 16, 2008 IS PARIS SINKING?
Reading Paul Belien, the editor of the Brussels Journal, can be a downer. He often sees the worst aspects of the Muslim presence in Europe. His latest column that I have seen deals with the no-go areas in Paris. Indeed, he claims that there are 751 of them in the entire Republic of France. He also claims that these zones are centers of corruption, drug trafficking and of course violence. He asserts that, "In France, Shariah law and mafia rule have become almost identical." This means that the proceeds from vast amounts of illegal drug trafficking support both Islamic terrorism and the spread of Shariah law. I have never heard the argument put quite that way. If true, then my long-standing support of drug legalization becomes even more persuasive, at least so I would claim. By legalizing drugs you would defund two interrelated groups -- the gangs that support violence and corruption as well as the Islamists who seek the downfall of Western civilization. All of this may not be true if the basic assumptions of Mr. Belien are overstated. I remain deeply concerned and so should everyone else who cares about the values of the West.
January 16, 2008 THAT MATTER OF OBAMA'S CONNECTIONS TO TWO BIGOTED CLERICS
I wrote several days ago on this site about Barack Obama's church membership, As I said, I do not support any notion of guilt by association but I hoped that some member of the MSM would put the question to him about the minister of his home church in Chicago and the praise heaped on the despicable Louis Farrakhan by that minister and by publications of that church. It was ironic that I had to get this information from a British journalist, Melanie Philips, to whom I gave credit. Now it is good to see that Richard Cohen yesterday wrote a column in The Washington Post that raised these questions. He did not mention his sources -- neither Philips or yours truly. He probably has other sources, at least one hopes so. I still hope that Mr. Obama will be asked about this matter in one of his many public appearances. And again I ask if either minister will show up for some White House event to give an invocation in the event President Obama is in the Oval Office.
January 11, 2008 MORE BADS NEWS ON OUR LEADERS' INABILITY TO EVEN MENTION OUR WORST ENEMIES
I feel like Maxwell Smart who says to Agent 99, Don't tell me that , 99, and
she goes ahead and tells him that. OK if you do not know about Maxwell
Smart. The point is that the Dems will probably win and it is likely that
Barak or Hillary will soon be in the Oval Office -- and they all virtually
ignore the threat of violent jihad. Also, with some hope I read Mr. Obama's
speech on national security and dealing with terrorism which he delivered
last year at the Wilson Center in Washington. Ho Hum. See the link to
Jihad Watch and also a link to the Wilson Center speech.
January 10, 2008 EXPLODING ANOTHER MYTH - THIS ONE ABOUT WHITE RACIST AMERICA
And this one may fit into my complaints that Obama is getting a free pass from the press and from much of the electorate. See the attached article which documents the extent to which racism against blacks has largely disappeared among most white American communities and groups. There are still remnants but nothing like what I saw years ago when I was a civil rights protester in Tennessee and a federal civil rights official based in Washington from 1960 to 1963. I suspect that we have moved so far that many members of the press and the voting public want to stage a coronation for this eloquent, brilliant black guy. I would not be disappointed if he made it to the White House but as I have said he should be subjected to the toughest questioning imaginable. I worked for equality and risked my life for it -- not for inequality on the side of blacks. Also we must face the fact that there is immense anti-white racism and anti-Semitism among the black population of America, perhaps more than any other group. I have personally experienced it -- at Howard University for one example. The popularity of the despicable Louis Farrakhan is based on black support for pure unadulterated hate. And again I hope a reporter asks Obama if this bigot will be invited to the White House to give an invocation.
We have come a long way and I am delighted to see Obama on the way to glory but we cannot simply forget facts in the process of crowning him.
One other thing -- if he gets elected all of the facts we are now ignoring will come out to haunt him and and his presidency. Better deal with them now.
January 9, 2008 MORE PROOF THAT THE AMERICAN PRESS IS GIVING OBAMA A FREE PASS
It may be unfair to look at a candidate's church as proof of his
unworthiness to be president but one would expect that the American
mainstream press would at least mention the church and its leader. I will
confess I knew nothing about it and got the information from the UK in the
blog or web site of the gutsy Melanie Phillips. At the least some questions
ought to be lobbed at the rock star candidate about the Rev Dr Jeremiah A.
Wright, JR who is the pastor of Barack Obama's church in Chicago --the
Trinity United Church. The material on the pastor is bigoted and racist and
un-American. In the church's magazine, Minister Louis Farrakhan -- who is
well known as a racist, anti-white, anti-Semitic, Muslim demagogue -- is
treated as a much misunderstood hero. Phillips also quotes a news story as
saying that Rev. Wright declared, " When [Obama's] enemies find out than in
1984 I went to Tripoli to visit Col. Muammar el-Quaddafi with Nation of
Islam leader Louis Farrakhan a lot of his Jewish support will dry up quicker
than a snowball in hell." Read the full story here.
I do not believe in guilt by association but why did I have to read about
this in a foreign source? Why have not some questions been raised by
American reporters? I will give you one - if you are elected president, Mr.
Obama, will you invite Rev. Farrakhan to the White House to give an
January 9, 2008 OBAMA'S FREE PASS FROM THE PRESS
Bill here expresses my views and in a more moderate way than I might have.
The press is in the pocket of Obama and they admit it. I mean they love him
and say so. I like both candidates but I hate the way in which one
candidate never gets questioned or probed. This is a true disgrace. And
again I am not sure if I will vote for either of them if they get nominated.
I am complaining about the unfairness of this process -- in the press and
among the electorate.
Look at this video and see if you do not agree with Bill.
January 8, 2008 BARACK IS ELOQUENT BUT FOR WHAT ACTIONS?
He is a wonderful speaker and I, like millions of others, love the idea of a skinny black guy with a funny name in the Oval Office. But what does he intend to do when he gets there? And, why is he any different than our current president who ran on the same platform -- change and unity? This essay from Dennis Prager reflects most of my views but I suspect that I am more sympathetic to Barack than Prager. My main point here is that Hillary is being held to a different standard than Barack who is treated as a rock star by the media. It is an appalling situation.
January 6, 2008 JUST HOW IGNORANT ARE WE IN FIGHTING THE RADICAL ISLAMISTS?
My great worry is that we do not know just who the enemies are and we do not
understand the basic philosopies that guide these enemies, whoever they are.
I also worry that so-called political correctness blinds some of our
officials in key sections of the military and intelligence leadership. The
firing of Stephen Coughlin makes my worries more intense. Read this report
from Jihad Watch and see if you do not agree with these concerns. It is not
a question of soft or hard tactics but tactics that are not based upon
January 3, 2008 MARIJUANA AND SCHIZOPHRENIA
From the beginning until today an association with insanity has always been a major argument in favor of marijuana prohibition. This link, however, has never withstood scrutiny very well and once again a recent study from Emory University in Atlanta shows this to be true. In fact, they discovered a negative correlation between marijuana use and symptoms of schizophrenia. The researchers found that, “alcohol use in the 6 months prior to hospitalization was associated with a higher frequency of positive psychotic symptoms among first-episode patients. Cannabis use was associated with a lower likelihood of having prominent negative symptoms. These associations remained even after controlling for relevant covariates in logistic regression models.”
December 28, 2007 ISRAELI TERRORISM DEATHS FOR 2007
Something to note in this article by Israel National News.com: "Eleven Israeli soldiers and civilians were murdered by terrorists in 2007."
December 28, 2007 ISRAELI CAR CRASH STATISTICS
A short article about car crash statistics in The Jerusalem Post provides some perspective.
February 20, 2007 HIRSI ALI: ONE OF THE COURAGEOUS ISLAMIC REFUSENICKS
Her courage tells all who will listen about the horror of Islamic rules and the need for reform -- for Muslims and for the rest of us. See here.
TREBACH TO TALK AT AMERICAN UNIVERSITY THURS FEB 22 - 1:30
subtitle could be-- the criminal always returns to the scene of the
WHERE: School of International Service Lounge, Nebraska Avenue,
of parking across the street in the Nebraska lot.
All credit goes to SSDP - the American University chapter of
Students for Sensible Drug Policy -- and to AU Professor Jeff Schaler who will
moderate or MC the event. The students and Jeff took the lead in making
this appearance happen.
I will talk
primarily about my latest book FATAL DISTRACTION: The War on Drugs
in the Age of Islamic Terror. In addition, I will talk
about my 35 years or so at the forefront of drug policy research and reform and
my views on the failures and the future of the entire drug policy reform
All three books in
the Trebach Trilogy will also figure in the discussion and they will be
there for autographing and purchase -- in the event there are hardy,
wonderful souls who want to buy these amazing tomes.
My interest in drug
policy started in the Ward Circle Building at AU while I was teaching basic
administration of justice courses in the early Seventies. In part, because
I was encouraged by my colleagues to research and write books and in part
because writing was in my soul, I kept writing at AU. The
Heroin Solution and The Great Drug War were completed while I
was at AU. In each of the years when they were released the university
gave me the award as the outstanding scholar of the year. Parts of the latest
book were completed when I was still at AU but it was finished within the
last year, long after I retired from the university and became a professor
Thus, the existence
of the Trebach Trilogy -- put out by Unlimited Publishing LLC of Bloomington,
Indiana -- provides evidence that scholarship at AU does happen and is carried
on by many professors and students alike. It rarely gets the recognition it
deserves -- even though it resides at the core of the university
THE TREBACH TRILOGY IS AVAILABLE NOW!
FATAL DISTRACTION: The War on Drugs in the Age of Islamic Terror
Fatal Distraction is now available from major booksellers
Debunks myths about heroin: A classic by a leading expert on drugs, their medical uses and abuse by addicts. Comparative history of narcotics control and treatment in Britain and America. Includes extensive citations, bibliography, index. "A blockbuster," says Publishers Weekly.
Former Representative Mark Foley, with his lustful eye for young male pages and his co-chairmanship of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, certainly embodies the most inappropriate committee appointment in Congressional history. A close second, though, may very well be Congressman Mark Souder as ranking Republican on the House subcommittee that oversees federal drug war policies.
Last week the MSNBC program hosted by Tucker Carlson wanted to talk about the refunding of the failed government sponsored program airing anti-marijuana radio and television ads. They scheduled as a guest Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance but at the last minute bumped him in favor of Congressman Souder. As a result viewers were treated to an amazing display of ignorance concerning marijuana. As Piper puts it, “I never thought I would say this, but I’m glad I got bumped. Souder made a total fool of himself.” Also, we must give credit to Carlson who helped with the process by refusing to accept at face value many of Souder’s blatant falsehoods.
February 14, 2007 MARIJUANA IS GOOD MEDICINE, BIG NEWS? NO
It is the same old story. Another impressive scientific research study documents the value of marijuana in medicine -- and ho hum, the White House says the strudy is flawed and is not persuasive and will not change policy. Science makes no difference in the making of American drug policy. This is a continuing embarrassment of the same type I have been documenting for about 35 years. How sad and what a waste of time. An important story appeared yesterday in the Washinton Post on this matter. Here.
May 1, 2006 FATAL DISTRACTION: The War on Drugs in the Age of Islamic Terror
These events -- the Mexican legalization law and that awful police decapitation story -- come at a time when I have just finished work on three books covering much of my career in drug reform. The newest and most comprehensive is in the process of being released to the public. Because of these events, I have decided that the time has come to post more information on my web site about that book.
Why? Those events showed just how horrible the impact of the drug war can be and they also showed the dramatic reforms that are starting to take place. I have worked for drug legalization for decades precisely because of the harm it causes. The book lays out the rationale for full legalization and the Mexican government has just gone further down that road than any government of my knowledge. My hope is that Mexican officials use the arguments in my book to keep going even further.
The book is being published by Unlimited Publishing LLC, a relatively new and pioneering company. While the book is not available in bookstores as yet, advance pre-publication copies may be secured by the electronic and print media for review and comment purposes, as explained below.
A preliminary copy of the first press release from Unlimited Publishing follows.
THAT LEGENDARY OPPONENT OF DRUG PROHIBITION
CONTINUES TO SHATTER MYTHS IN THIS MUST-READ BOOK
"In 1996, Arnold Trebach, a legendary opponent of drug prohibition, gave a speech noting that 'all of us would be infinitely safer if the courageous efforts of anti-drug agents in the U.S. … and other countries were focused on terrorists aimed at blowing up airlines and skyscrapers [rather] than drug traffickers seeking to sell the passengers and office dwellers cocaine and marijuana.' We will never know what would have happened had the FBI taken Mr. Trebach's advice. But we do know what happened when the FBI continued to fight the futile war on drugs."
These cogent thoughts appeared in an editorial of the Ottawa Citizen several years ago.
The media spread those words around the world after 9/11, leading some observers to marvel at the fact that Trebach had predicted the assault. Of course, he had done nothing of the kind, but he had stated the obvious though ignored truth that we all need protection from bombs not from bongs, from Osama not marijuana. In this book, Trebach, who over the years has been hired to provide advice to many federal agencies -- including the White House, the Justice Department, and the CIA -- puts that advice in a must-read narrative for all who care about our common future. In the process, this seasoned Washington veteran pulls together the lessons of his extensive experience and personal travails on the front lines of drug policy reform. His convincing core argument: in this age of Islamic terrorism, the war on drugs is indeed a fatal distraction from much more serious business.
Trebach argues that the war on drugs can only be ended if drugs are finally, at long exhausting last, legalized. His advice is that this be done quickly, without any more soul-searching or navel gazing. We cannot continue to waste precious human and monetary resources when our very survival is on the line.
We ignore his advice at our peril. As Trebach states in the opening words of this book: "It is remarkable that while Islamic terrorism threatens the very existence of all free societies and while the war on drugs interferes with the war on terror, the war on drugs continues nevertheless. History may well record that this distraction was fatal and that it was part of a series of other deadly mistakes and diversions which, taken together, were instrumental in dooming modern democratic civilization to the dustbin of that history."
Almost every day the lead news stories provide heightening support for his main thesis and that alarming prediction. The forces of extreme Islamic terror seem to push the West further and further back. The United States is in a state of internal conflict over its global strategy, with some leading officials decrying any diversion of resources from the failed war on drugs. In early April, for example, the normally sensible Congressman Henry Hyde complained that the Bush administration has no plans to replace damaged coca-spraying aircraft stationed in Colombia because resources are needed for conflicts in the Middle East. Such views document the confusion of our leaders as to how to survive this time of extreme peril in the nation's history.
In this book Trebach lays out the basis for new thinking and new strategies that would show that America and it allies take seriously the need for bold and urgent action. One small but significant signal would be the immediate disbanding of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the assignment of its thousands of dedicated, armed agents to the front lines of the war on terror. Their new marching orders, in Trebach's view, would be: Ignore pot; ignore meth; inform our citizens they must show personal responsibility regarding their drug consumption; focus on corralling the jihadists hiding at home and those abroad plotting to murder our people simply because we are infidels who believe in freedom and equality for all human beings regardless of their gender or religion or sexual orientation.
We at Unlimited Publishing hope that you find Fatal Distraction enlightening and helpful. If you publish a review or make a comment about it, we would like to receive a copy of the review or a transcript of the comment.
To purchase advance copies: For a limited time only, advance release copies of this new book are available exclusively from lulu.com at a substantial discount. Broad public availability to order in paperback and hardback at full retail price is expected later this year from all major booksellers.
Friday, February 3, 2006, 11:25am AMERICAN DRUG WAR HORRORS: IMPRISONING PATIENTS
In the midst of all of the other horrors taking place in the world, it is
embarrassing to see that the American war on drugs continues to divert
precious enforcement and enforcement resources from the war on terror. Our
drug war also continues to imprison seriously ill patients who have had the
gall to use illegal drugs that helped their conditions. Kris Hermes of Safe
Access has just sent around circular letter asking decent people to help
prevent these heartless drug-war incarcerations from becoming death
sentences, which they have for several patients. He is now asking for help
in getting proper care for Steve Kubby, a convicted medial marijuana
patient. His appeal can be found here. Your letters and appeals may help
lessen the frequency of these home-made horrors.
After several decades of working for decent treatment of American drug-war
prisoners, the persistence of cases like these helped moved me to the
position of complete abolition. In my view, it is not possible for
Americans to run a humane drug war any more than it was possible to make
slavery humane. Abolition made sense in the 1860's regarding slavery and it
makes sense now regarding prohibition and the war on drugs. Legalization is
the only rational, moderate, and sensible option This thesis is laid out
more fully in my forthcoming book, Fatal Distraction.
"This is the Book of Genesis for the modern drug war. While the Reagans claimed to believe in personal freedom, they launched a campaign that justified perverse inrtusions into the very bodies and bodily fluids of American citizens.
Many parents felt impelled to imprison their kids in destructive "treatment" programs if they had smoked an occaisional marijuana joint. Here you see the invasions of basic American freedoms that were expanded in the current era of terror - and defended on the grounds that they were nothing to fret about because they had already been accepted in the drug war.
It is good to be able to report that one of my favorite book-children has
been reborn in a second edition and is now available. The second edition of
The Great Drug War, published by Unlimited Publishing, LLC, contains a new
introduction and in addition on this site you will find the source notes I
prepared for the original edition but for some reason never published. Those
notes have been updated in many places and they will be frequently updated
in the future.
The book provides an up-close and personal view of the Reagan drug war of
the Eighties and of the harm it caused to ordinary Americans as well as to
our concepts of freedom. Until I went back recently and started reading it
again, I had forgotten how traumatized and angry I had become as I roamed
the various fronts in that largely forgotten war. Of course the book
reflects that trauma and anger, and well it should. Even though I have, to
my own surprise, become an admirer of Ronald Reagan for his accomplishments
in dealing with the Soviet empire, I remain quite disturbed over the harm he
and Nancy caused on the home front.
Orders by school bookstores for large numbers of books for class use may be
sent to this site or to :
Baker & Taylor 2550 West Tyvola Road, Suite 300
Charlotte, NC 28217
Tel: 800-775-1800; 704-998-3100
Students should be advised to look up the expanding list of source notes for this book on this site, which as I said is frequently updated.
In addition, I am now slowly leaving my monk's cell and making myself
available for public lectures at colleges and universities around this
country and Canada. While I am still working very hard at bringing out other
books, I will set up a schedule for such lectures as the requests come in to
this site. Please contact Elizabeth Belt at email@example.com for more information on the lectures or any matter related to my drug policy activities. One of the main topics of my lectures will be THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE CAPE COD CANAL AND THE EFFORTS TO LEGALIZE DRUGS. What in the world can that mean?