Tuesday, December 09, 2003


It's official, City Cafe is about to change hands. This is the real deal and the goodbye affair for Tim Driscoll is at the bar tomorrow night at 8:00ish. For the local folks reading this, stop by and wish Tim well on his next adventure. I hear Rich is doing the catering and it's likely to go down as a legendary party.

* * * * *

Main Street on the other hand is eerily quiet for this time of the year. The stores I think must be open every night in these last two weeks of Christmas shopping yet the sidewalks and the stores are unnaturally empty. There are no lines at the cash registers and way too many open parking spaces. Not even the locals are spending.

When Bush's neoeconomic recovery plan begins to nip at the foundation of lovely downtown Noho, anyone with a progessive political agenda on any issue should be concerned. This town, being based on money from academic institutions, is normally insulated from economic downturns.

His disastrous domestic polices aside, I also see a correlation here with the Bush administration's meddling into educational and scientific grant allocations. Anything that doesn't fit within the Bible Belt parameters of acceptability is being unfunded these days and we are the heart of liberal research and education, not to mention lifestyle choices.


I like the groundswell of protest coming from our federal judges these days. It appears that Ashcroft and his neo-Thugs in the legislature have pulled one too many cards out of their sleeve in their endless quest to cheat the US citizenry out of their constitutional rights.

In New York, where reportedly the bench is not inclined towards making political statements, an uncharateristic amount of criticism has arisen from those wearing the judicial robes.

In June, Judge John S. Martin Jr. of United States District Court in Manhattan announced that he was taking early retirement, relinquishing his lifetime appointment, in part, he said, to protest what he called the unjust nature of the sentencing process. Three months later, the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Manhattan, John M. Walker Jr., and 26 colleagues from around the country signed a statement calling for repeal of the law.

Judge Thomas C. Platt of Federal District Court in Brooklyn was so reluctant to follow the sentencing procedures that an appellate panel unanimously removed him from a routine drug case, saying that his decisions were "improperly affected" by his "annoyance" with the sentencing guidelines and with the United States attorney's office.

And in perhaps the boldest criticism of the law, another federal judge in Brooklyn, Sterling Johnson Jr., who was New York City's special narcotics prosecutor from 1975 until 1991, recently issued a wide-ranging order that directly contradicts the law's provision granting Congress more direct access, without the need for judicial permission, to a variety of case documents. Judge Johnson placed a blanket seal on all such documents in cases before him, forbidding Congress to examine these materials without his approval.

The provision, known as the Feeney amendment, was tacked on to the Amber Alert bill signed by President Bush.

The RAVE Act was also tacked on to that Amber bill in some sleazy subversion of the House voting rules that allowed no public debate on the floor. Think of this and vote in 2004 like your life depends on it. It does.


All I want for Christmas is to wake up and live in a country where the Justice Department issues news like this.

OTTAWA -- Ottawa is making it a green Christmas for 4,000 people -- it plans to stay thousands of charges of pot possession as a result of legal battles over medicinal marijuana.

The decision will apply to every person in Canada charged with possession of marijuana between July 31, 2001, and Oct. 7, 2003, Justice Department spokeswoman Pascale Boulay said yesterday.

The Justice Department intends to cease prosecutions on the cases because of an Ontario court ruling in 2000 that found medicinal-marijuana users had the right to possess less than 30 grams of pot. The judge delayed that ruling's effect for one year in the hope the federal government would introduce a medicinal-marijuana law.

But the government did not. Instead, the cabinet issued regulations for access to medicinal marijuana one day before the year-long grace period ended in 2001.The Ontario ruling created a legal loophole, effectively invalidating Canada's marijuana possession law as unconstitutional because it failed to provide an exemption for medical use.

Maybe next Christmas. Canadians appear to be light years ahead of us on the cannabis issue. Maybe it's the proximity to the Aurora Borealis.


There is an interesting medmar case pending in Colorado. This report on Don Nord, crossed through the inbox this week. Don, 57 years old, was injured in a fall in 1985. His health deteriorated badly in the interim.

He has battled kidney cancer, diabetes, a lung disease, phlebitis -- an inflammation of veins -- in both of his legs, and now is worried cancer has moved to his prostate.

He takes about 20 different physician-prescribed medications. He also smokes marijuana.

...In mid-October, officers with GRAMNET, the Grand, Routt and Moffat County Narcotics Enforcement Team, obtained a warrant to search Nord's home for drugs and confiscated his plants and growing equipment.

On Monday, Nord has a hearing in front of a Routt County judge to try to get his plants and equipment back. Conflicting state and federal laws may make that difficult. Under federal laws, Nord can't have the marijuana. Period. But under Colorado's law, he hasn't done anything wrong.

We're awaiting the decision on this one with great interest here at the HQ and also pondering how it is that the state is so rectangular. I mean every other state in the union has some irregular corners.


I ran across this quote the other day and it reminded how much I admired Abraham Lincoln as a kid. It wasn't the Emancipation Proclamation or the Gettysburg Address that impressed me though. It was the folklore about his having having been so impeccably honest that he walked for miles to return two cents change.

Last word tonight goes to the tall guy. His thoughts on prohibition are still as fresh today as they were then.

A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded. Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes.


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