Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Quick hits

I'm just about out of time here so just a quick link an economist's eye view of war on some drugs that's worth reading.

Mark Souder is still pushing for the extraordinarily dangerous scheme of bombing the Colombia coca fields with an extremely dangerous fungus that could render the land fit for nothing.

Pete at Drug WarRant has a great caption contest.


I got locked out of Blogger at home. I finally got out of the house and tried using the laptop at the wifi cafe and got in. I don't know if this is good thing in terms of what's wrong but at least I know I can get out and try to blog earlier tomorrow from here. Of course I'm off for the next couple of days so if Blogger support doesn't fix the home connection that means I won't be blogging again today since this place closes at 6:00.

If I was ever tempted to get my own domain, today was the day. I'll be back with a short roundup after I post some kind of absentee notice on The Impolitic.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I'm so popular?

I stopped trying to figure out the TTLB rating system a long time ago. Ever since they started changing their algorithims over there, my standing has bounced around like a rubber ball but it's worth noting that I'm listed as Large Mammal today, while oddly at the same time The Impolitic dropped a couple of ranks into Flippery Fishiness.

I'm sure that won't be there more than a day but I kind of wish I knew how to take a screen shot so I could preserve it for posterity. Someday I could show my grandkids how I used to be a contender....

Update: Ah, well that only lasted a few hours. It's so amusing that it changes so often. My rankings have been changing 2 or 3 times a day. I must break a lot of rules I guess.

Teenage hijinks the new terrorism

I'll be the first to admit that this teenage prank was stupid and ill-advised, but for the love of Pete, teenagers have been pulling dumb pranks since the beginning of time. It's a rite of passage and tricking some teachers into eating pot laced muffinsdoes not deserve a potential 20 year sentence nor should it be the subject of a farooking terrorism investigation.

All the handwringing over how sick the teachers got is absurd. They got high and they freaked out. It didn't compromise anyone's health or threaten any lives. At worst, it shattered their ingrained and self-involved perceptions and scared them when they saw the universe in a new way. It may even have terrified them because they didn't know why they were feeling "different" but no one has ever died from eating pot.

These kids are not terrorists -- they're teenagers -- and the administration's constant conflation of terrorism with every little act of mischief and teenage testing of limits does more damage to our safety by trivalizing the whole concept of terrorism. In more sensible times the kid would have been punished within the school framework, as did occur, and probably be given a few hundred hours of community service which would served society and the public safety much more so than locking him away for two decades. The only lesson this kid will learn in jail for that long is how to become a career criminal.

[hat tip JackL]

Monday, May 29, 2006

A report from the field

Disgraced former ONDCP deputy director Andrea Barthwell recently presented a seminar at a college reunion attended by a friend. It was so interesting I'm going to post it verbatim with some minor identifying information removed. It's priceless really. She blames recreational marijuana consumers who use the herbal plant responsibly and have managed to live full and successful lives for the failure of the war on some drugs.

Barthwell's talk was billed "A Rational Drug Policy for Contemporary America" and the seminar brochure noted that "reunion weekend is a time for reflection and those who were at [the college] during the 60's and 70's participated in a great cutural change that was pivotal in the development of modern drug policy" and that the seminar would "examine the impact of the 60's and 70's on contemporary drug the nation has moved from the 'War on Drugs' metaphor to a public health approach, to prevention, intervention and treatment...", including, perhaps, Barthwell "recall[ing] her campus experiences", something of interest to my SSDP colleagues who asked I take notes on this point especially.

The forty or so seeming boomer alums that came to Barthwell's seminar on Saturday morning may have been expecting the serious discussion of the issues billed in the program, but they were left disappointed and confused. Although the program format (and other seminars) seemed to involve about a 30 - 40 minute lecture followed by a 10 - 15 minute Q & A, Barthwell spoke for almost the full hour, leaving little time for questions, but insuring, as will be explained, that the questions were uniformly hostile or professing utter confusion with her talk.

She began by discussing her appointment history at ONDCP. She was apparently a unconfirmed Clinton holdover, who went to work for Bush and Walters because she was supposedly touched by their personal understanding of "addiction" issues and apparent interest in addiction treatment. She then set out that the National Drug Policy is to reduce use of "drugs" in a measureable manner, especially children using drugs. Her suggestion was that if we could keep adolescents from ever experimenting with drugs, and they could get through adolescence without drug use, then they would stand a good chance of escaping addiction and being drug-free for life.

She presented a series of Powerpoint slides to illustrate her points: that drug use is a socially communicated, epidemic like disease, and follows a gateway theory that at-risk adolescents use "drugs" (never differentiated or being inclusive of alcohol, tobacco, etc) because they are actively recruited by certain kinds of peers (mostly other enthusiastic newbie drug users) and because it gives them pleasure and is anti-authoritarian, which is enticing to middle and high school kids.
Besides the bullet point text of these concepts about which sub- groups of kids are more likely to "experiment" with drugs, Barthwell illustrated her points with graphics of a dirt road, blockaded with traffic cones, going over a cliff.

The whole idea, as she explained it, was that you wanted to set up interventions like drug testing (the traffic cones) so students would not go over the cliff of drug experimentation, abuse and addiction. In these slides we also realized that medical marijuana is a dangerous fraud because of the much greater harm potential of today's super-duper high potency cannabis than the cannabis smoked by boomers back in the day, and the false legitimacy conferred upon the drug by the "medical" claims.

Barthwell repeatedly referred to this as a "recipe for disaster" for the kids and society at large, although she did not explain the precise nature of this "disaster", except by offhand anecdotal references to unnamed kids spiraling down into addiction and ruining their lives, etc. But, kids being kids and some not abstaining after drug education efforts, if they did go over the cliff, according to Barthwell, there would be an "ambulance" of intervention and treatment at the bottom to help them, illustrated by a Powerpoint with an ambulance photoshopped onto a shot of the base of a cliff. A "European" type amubulance, said Barthwell approvingly, which is designed to have an operating room in the amblulance rather than to be a conveyance to a hospital like here, whatever that means in this context, but I fear the ambulance is being driven by Betty Sembler or some coercive youth treatment outfit, but I digress. Probably better we don't peek inside THAT rhetorical ambulance.

Then Barthwell seemed to come around to the ultimate point of her talk, and the closest it came to the issues discussion promised in the seminar brochure, when, at about 55 minutes into the lecture, she crystalized the ultimate problem as somehow being the long-time, non- dependent "closeted" adult (ab)users of marijuana, such as many, if not most in her audience. Because they can use drugs in a non- dependent, "recreational" mode WITHOUT apparent harm to their careers or normal living in the community, send a dangerous and subversive message to kids that "drug use is OK" and not incredibly harmful as claimed, therefore dooming the 10% of kids who are addiction-prone to becoming addicted as a result of their youthful experimentation.

According to Barthwell, adult "recreational" use is also the ultimate source of evil because it is what allows the black market in illegal drugs to exist and be maintained to serve as a trickle-down supply to impressionable kids. Kind of like the guilting logic used by ONDCP a couple of years back in those Super Bowl ads to claim drug users and their black markets support international terrorists and are responsible for drug gang murders in Colombia or something.

The audience in the small lecture hall seemed to be getting increasingly impatient during Barthwell's rambling and simplistic talk. I could see my friend M. across the aisle begin to bristle when Barthwell was discussing why teen drug use was bad because it affforded pleasure to kid's brains and was fashionably (for kids) anti-authoritarian. M. remarked later during lunch that if we had presented term papers which were as free of facts and full of gauzily vague, undefined speculations as Barthwell's talk, we would have been roundly chastized by our intellectually demanding professors (as well as receiving C-'s to F's for our feeble efforts), that's how far off the expected high content Barthwell's talk was.

Glancing at the clock, Barthwell kind of lamely noted her time was up and bumping up against the Alumni Parade, but would take a few questions. One woman said she understood why drugs should be kept away from kids, but that she smoked pot with her college age kid and wanted to know why that was wrong, as Barthwell had implied.

The next woman, who said she was in law enforcement, said the problem was kids being ensnared in the drug trade as 14 year old lookouts, because of the incredible profit. It wasn't exactly clear what her point was, but she seemed to be saying the black market and its corrupt use of kids as runners, dealers and lookouts to "beat the system" which only slapped the kid's hands with brief detention rather than the severe adult penalties was what was wrong, and that Barthwell didn't address the black market.

I was a bit surprised when Barthwell took my question, since she was beginning to look for an exit and I was wearing a "Free Mark Emery" T shirt (my wife insisted/prodded ;-). I noted that the War on Drugs has incarcerated one million people without significantly reducing drug availability and asked that if adult, non-dependent "recrational" users are the ultimate problem, how many more people would we have to incarcerate to significantly depress youth drug use, and why the kinds of non-criminal and successful public health interventions used for tobacco and alcohol that don't involve coercion or incarceration were not more appropriate public health models. She seemed to go into more Oprah-like pop-psych theraputic- sounding rhetorical cartwheels on that, you know, that it wasn't her intent to incarcarate more people, though the incarceration numbers are overstated because of plea bargains etc., but that we needed more intervention to treat people who are in denial about their drug problems, like many in her audience.

Then my friend and classmate M. (who is a research biologist/ university professor) demanded Barthwell to more precisely "define what the problem is". He said she was talking for an hour and he had no clear idea of what the public health problem with "drugs" was as she defined it. He said that her framing of the problem with kids and drugs was so vague he had no idea how severe or what the problem even was. He compared that to something concrete (that he's working on) about obesity and the links to diabetes in the elderly and how adult obesity, like Hep C, is a real ticking public health timebomb, poised to explode in coming years. He asked if obesity and nutrition was a bigger looming public heath issue than drugs and how obesity should be addressed to ward off a possible diabetes epidemic. He asked whether we should go into McDonalds and arrest parents feeding their kids fatty foods and whether that "intervention" was appropriate given Barthwell's logic about drugs.

His clear suggestion, obviously shared by the impatient and disappointed alums around us, was that Barthwell's whole emotional "trouble in River the children" rant was classic political hot air, a diversion irrelevant to real world problems.

Andrea dissembled somemore in an unremarkable manner, and then M. let loose of a final stink bomb, noting that it's a convention of academic research presentations at seminars that when a participant is speaking on a topic in which he has a commerical interest (i.e., like Barthwell's drug policy/treatment consulting firm), such interest is disclosed at the beginning of the talk (not done here), and he just concluded his final comment with, "enough said".

Barthwell, now REALLY looking to wrap things up, abruptly stated that she and her audience were not likely to agree on much and that she was not going to debate the matter further, and the session ended on that contentious note.
I wish someone had been able to capture the Q&A on video. That would have been one for the archives.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Working holiday

It was hotter than Hades here today. I never went outside until after 5:00. It's cooler here at my little homestead. I'm always amazed at the difference in the microclimates. The trees make such a difference. I turned the overhead fan on to sleep for the last couple of nights but with the doors it's been comfy for me. I pretend it's a sea breeze.

I'm working through the holiday but at least I got home at a decent hour. Of course that hardly makes a difference in my energy level since I got up in the middle of a dream at the crack of dawn. I never really feel rested when I wake up like that. The dream always gnaws at the edge of my consciousness, a little unresolved thought that I can't quite recapture.

On a brighter note, I saw my first hummingbird outside the window yesterday. I have to put up the feeder. I'm thinking I should buy a couple more and put them outside all the good windows. I bought sugar last year but never got around to making the food. I can't quite remember if the ratio is 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 but I expect I can google to find out.

I'm going to do that and plant my window boxes this week. I'm trying to figure out what deer won't eat. I didn't plant a garden this year because they were so zealous in munching down the seedlings, so they ate the pinks that came back from last year. Last year they didn't touch them because they had all the other stuff I guess. Impatiens are out. I almost lost those last year. In any event, I don't know why I'm fussing over it. I won't have much of a choice this late in the season. I'll probably end up with geraniums.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Conspiracy theories?

These two items got my drug war discussion board all fired up. Me, I'm not making any judgment calls. I've believed for a long time that government intelligence agencies have been running drugs. Unfortunately, the mainstream press is never interested in running with the stories so a single source's veracity is hard to judge. The tragic case of Gary Webb and his groundbreaking series the Dark Alliance is a case in point. I knew Gary personally and had no doubt he uncovered a major conspiracy and he was drummed out of journalism for it.

So, I have no problem believing the dope plane recently busted in Mexico was directly connected to the CIA. It would certainly explain why we haven't heard anything else about this story from an administration that is usually so interested in trumpeting its "successes" in the war on some drugs.

Prohibition kills

There's some bad heroin going around Detroit, which of course led me to another post on the harms of the war on some drugs,.

And speaking of killing, I don't know what they were thinking at DetNews when they decided to redo all the head shots by pulling them in tighter. Cripes, I've got to do a new one. Whatever they did to my current shot makes it look like I haven't washed my face in thirty years. Oh well, I'm working on a new hairstyle anyway. I keep chopping more off every week.

Delivered from the arms of Morpheus

I just lost it yesterday. I didn't blog a thing and passed out at a ridiculously early hour. Slept like a rock for 11 hours and now I'm all foggy from too much sleep. Had some incredibly vivid dreams filled with an old lover and TV production crews.

So I'm wandering around the cyberworld trying to get my brain working and see that I rudely ignored a post written especially for me in a foreign land.

It's a odd thing. When I was very young I wanted to travel on safari to the heart of deepest, darkest Africa kind of a la Bogie and Hepburn in the African Queen, but I lost interest in the continent when they renamed the Belgian Congo. Zaire didn't sound so appealling a destination and they put all the wild animals into nature preserves as they developed the jungles.

Perhaps I was too hasty in my judgement. Kees Kennis, which I think is African for son of a baboon or something, has renewed my interest in African travel. I think the guy may be certifiably crazy, which is why I'm adding him to the Drunks and Poets. He'll fit right in there. But, if you forgive the occassional wild beast schlong shots, he posts some great photos.

Thanks for the beach shots Kees.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Land of Nod...

It's been a long week and it's not over. I'm so burned out I can't see the screen to read tonight. I badly need sleep. I'm off to nuke a frozen dinner and watch some dumb TV. I'll be back tomorrow.

Welcome to the bloggerhood

Say hey to the newest members of the reform blogging community. Luke Brown has created a Kos style blog, Rehabology, where it appears anyone can register and post diaries to the front page. They're off to a great start with a lot of items of international interest that are off the beaten track of the news circuit. Click on over and check it out.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

DEA disastrous for America

I'm whipped so I'm just going to post this that I found when I was looking for the exact figure of Karen Tandy's salary. I didn't find the number, which seems to me should easier to get since it's our money that pays for it, but this statement she made in April before the appropriations committee is enlightening on the DEA's operations. [All emphasis added]. Unsurprisingly, it starts with the forfeiture figures.
In FY 2005, DEA stripped domestic and foreign drug traffickers of nearly $1.9 billion in drug proceeds and revenue denied, which included $1.4 billion in asset seizures and $477 million in drug seizures. This, Mr. Chairman, exceeds DEA’s FY 2005 $1 billion goal for asset and drug seizures by 90 percent.
Then there's this interesting melding of the drug war and general intelligence on Americans.
Intelligence and National Security ($11.9 million and 57 positions – including one Special Agent and 42 Intelligence Analysts). In February of this year, Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales signed a joint memorandum designating an element of DEA’s Intelligence Division to be a member of the Intelligence Community (IC). IC membership will allow DEA to expand and strengthen its existing relationships with our nation’s intelligence agencies. With 86 offices in 62 countries – the largest law enforcement presence abroad – DEA is poised to make valuable and lasting contributions in the intelligence arena.
In other words, they wish to further conflate drug dealing and terrorists and browbeat foreign governments into undertaking prohibition polices. And so much for their commitment to harm reduction.
Demand Reduction Program: DEA proposes to eliminate all positions dedicated to this program for a reduction of 40 positions (including 31 Special Agents) and $9.2 million. This proposal would allow DEA to focus on its core mission of drug law enforcement. When possible, however, Special Agents would participate in demand reduction activities on a collateral duty basis.
The savings on harm reduction are slated to be added to their harm enhancement program -- the harassment of pain management physicians.
Diversion and Control Fee Account (DCFA) : As I stated earlier, the President’s request includes $212 million under the DCFA, a $10.4 million increase over FY 2006. Of the total requested amount, DEA proposes funding of $3.4 million for DCFA program improvements. This funding would allow DEA to boost intelligence support (33 Intelligence Analysts) needed for diversion investigations. This request is a continuation of the FY 2006 Diversion Intelligence Initiative, whose goal is to place one Intelligence Analyst in every Field Division Diversion group.
Meaning they like milking the cash cow of forfeiture by targeting physicians. How do you think they managed to make that almost two billion in seized property? And they've upped their target for the next fiscal year. Remembering they can seize property without proving the crime first, you can be certain a hefty percentage came from doctors and not from the million low-level drug offenders taking up room in our prisons.

It doesn't bode well for the future of chronic pain sufferers or for a civil society.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Take me out to the ballgame...

This time for real, I'm back on the work rotation and the first day is always a killer. It takes a couple of days to adjust to waking up at the crack of dawn again after all the delicious mornings of rolling out of bed at 9:00. Nonetheless, I was doing great with the time management tonight, fully intending to put up a couple of pithy posts but I frittered away the hour in a rare phone call with my friend Michael from Boston.

Eat your heart out baseball fans. He managed to snag tickets to seven Red Sox games. Now Mike is the king of tix procurement and he had a hard time doing it. All the fair weather fans bought them up now that they won the World Series.

Funny, I don't get the games on TV and I don't get a daily paper anymore, so I'm not even following the season yet this year. I was excited last week when I randomly checked the standings to see the Sox and Mets were both in number one but Mike tells me the Sox have already slipped again. It's almost June. I guess I should start paying some attention.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Eagle has landed

The critters are a little crazed today. I have a bunch of squirrels hopping around the lawn like maniacs, chasing each other around the trees. I would almost think they were mating, but it seems like the wrong time of year for that. The birds seem be spatting with each other as well and speaking of birds, I just saw the hugest hawk I've ever seen swoop in to land behind the neighbors's house. It was so big, if the wings weren't red, I would have thought it was an eagle.

I tried to get a photo of it but I couldn't see where it landed and I didn't want to start traipsing through the neighbors yard to see if I could find it. I've been here a year and I've never spoken to the old lady who lives there. I think it would have freaked her out.

DEA just dandy says Tandy

It this profile piece on Karen Tandy doesn't raise your blood pressure, nothing will. Painting her as a concerned parent who fights drugs as mission of motherhood, it's full of gems like these:
Regardless of the occasional critic's shot, Tandy retains her passion for running the government's largest anti-drug bureaucracy — the kind of job that can be stressful and emotionally exhausting.

"This job is a calling, not just for me but for all of the 11,000 people in this agency. I have the best job on Earth," she said.
Think about that for a minute, there's 11,000 people drawing hefty salaries and they have barely made a dent in the supply or use of drugs. And what would be their incentive to "win?" They would have to find new work. Besides they justify their existence with legalized highway robbery. Here's how dear Karen got her job.
In the Justice Department, Tandy was a pioneer in the enforcement of asset forfeiture law — a government tactic used to deprive drug merchants of material gain by seizing planes, boats, ranches and more exotic possessions such as strip clubs and golf courses bought with drug cash.

"When I came through the door, I made money the No. 1 priority," she said.
Note she says money, not elimination of drug use, not protection of the children, not public safety, it's all about the money. At least she admits I guess. It's a powerful incentive and they don't even have to prove a crime to seize it.
The amount of money the DEA seized each year has more than quadrupled, to $1.9 billion last year, making the DEA the rare federal agency that nearly pays for itself, she joked.
That's no joke. We pay about 2 billion in just salaries and expenses for the agency. That I assume includes office space and whatnot but not necessarily the expenses of the sting operations themselves. And it's so misleading to proffer the seizures as "paying" for the agency. These are not liquid assets. It's mostly property that's unlikely to return its listed value into the coffers and the (inflated) value of the drugs they keep off the street shouldn't be added at all since they destroy them, not sell them themselves. Their salaries are still coming out of the taxpayer's pocket.

Word has it Ms. Tandy might be offered a job in the private sector. She dismisses the idea, saying she's perfectly happy in her present job. And who wouldn't love a job that pays so well and doesn't require that you actually succeed at your mission.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


You often hear people say they support the troops. For the left, who speak out against the war, it's not easy to show that tangibly to the men and women who are stuck at the front lines and even among those who believe in the war, one wonders, if they don't have someone they care about serving in the military, how have they let the soldiers know?

There is something you can do, right now, to brighten up a unknown soldier's Independence Day spent in Iraq. This lovely lady in Georgia is organizing a card drive. You can buy cards, make cards, or just send a note. Send unsealed cards to:
Mrs. Kat Orr
Thanks For Freedom! Campaign
740 Thompson Lane
Loganville, GA 30052

If you can't get cards together, you can email to Emails will printed and sent to Iraq with the cards. The deadline is June 16, 2006. Please keep it platonic. Nothing of a suggestive nature will be accepted.
Our troops don't have a choice. They're facing death daily while we enjoy our customary lives at home. Please take a moment and show our soldiers you haven't forgotten them.

Old friends...

The Woodmont was a secret place that came alive in the wee hours of the morning. After the bars closed and the bands packed up, people found themselves sitting around this famous table with various musical instruments in their hands. Bruce Tull would head the table, sitting at his pedal steel guitar, and his mesmerizing tones would create a soundscape background, blurring conversation into song and back again. On this particular night Zeke Fiddler had his hi-tech camera with him and created this moody candlelit film. As Ohlenbusch began to play, Bruce chimed in, Steve Desaulnier picked up his bass, and Kevin O'Rourke grabbed a guitar...
I picked this up from Henning's blog. I believe this was shot in Bruce's kitchen. There's a shot of Bruce, famed pedal steel picker and former Scud Mountain Boy, at the very end of the video. Bruce and Kevin and I were all bartenders at the Baystate Hotel, which was the center of what was left of the music scene in Noho in those years.

Bruce is probably the most nervous person I've ever met in my life. A perpetual motion machine, but brilliant, both intellectually and musically. I loved him and everyone else in the video, like my own family. And I always did love that song. I must have heard it performed live, almost a thousand times...

Sometimes, I really miss those kids.

Acid flashback II

Via Henning, yet another psychedelic toy. This is one is lot more fun than the mirrors.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Do it for the kids...

This really sucks. One of the worst aspects of the war on some drugs is its relentless assault on young people's rights.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy is asking for your help to stop a bill that would further curtail the rights of students in public schools all across the country. The so-called “Student and Teacher Safety Act of 2006” (H.R. 5295) would make it easier for teachers and school administrators to search students’ lockers and bags for drugs and other contraband. SSDP needs your help to make sure that this bill never becomes law.

Currently, in order for a teacher to search a student’s locker they need to have “reasonable suspicion” that the student is in possession of illegal drugs. H.R. 5295 would change the standard needed for a search to “colorable suspicion,” a term that has been made up entirely for this bill. Essentially, a teacher would need nothing more than a hunch in order to search a student’s locker or possessions.
Colorable suspicion? Color me appalled. Since when do you have to be eighteen to enjoy the same civil rights as any other American? This is how the government is building the police state. Indoctrinate the youngsters into expecting to be wantonly violated and sell it to the parents as a "safety measure." This is just as much a violation of the Fourth Amendment as if they were of age.

If we let the government get away with this now, they'll be coming for us next. Hell, with the Patriot Act and the NSA and the umpteen other domestic surveillance programs, they already are coming after us all. Let's not let them codify this one. Please take a moment to click over to SSDP's pre-written letter and let your Congress creature know this is not acceptable.

Habla Ingles?

Via Ellison, the quiz of the day. I think my Yankee quotient is diminishing.

Your Linguistic Profile::
45% General American English
30% Yankee
15% Dixie
5% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern

Friday, May 19, 2006

Slow news day?

This is the funniest lede of the day from the local TV station no less.
KEY WEST, Fla. -- An undercover operation targeting drug sales to tourists in Mallory Square netted three arrests Thursday and took almost 50 grams of marijuana off the streets. [emphasis added]

Fifty grams!!! Oh my God, that's like..... like... less than two ounces.

I'm sure the residents of Key West will be sleeping a little sounder tonight knowing that major drug ring is busted up. Good job on making it harder for tourists to score a couple of joints though. That should do a ton for tourism since we all know, people who go to Key West just hate to party.

Just nuts

When I posted the penny candy story, I used squirrel nut zippers for the graphic because that was my favorite candy. The graphic was actually a copy of an album cover for a band of the same name that was quite popular at some point. I never really followed them but in an odd coicidence, the Raleigh N&O has a sad story about the band and its checkered past.

Blogged elsewhere

I've been blogging at the DetNews today. There was a big bust in Detroit so I worked in a post about legalization. Six down, sixty thousand to go...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Another My Space tragedy

Via Via thehim at ReLoad here's another sad reminder that it's not cool to post pictures of yourself breaking the law. Especially if you like to play with pyrotechnics. Kids!

Quick clicks

Via The Pime Collective, this is a trippy ride into infinity that's sure to throw you into an acid flashback.

And via Avedon Carol, the essential welcome mat for every doorstep in America.


Am I only one being bombarded with junk mail these days? The spam all goes into a folder but I have to check it because it occassionally takes stuff from my discussion lists. I used to average about a hundred or so a day but I get about 400 lately. And why these people think I have any interest in seeing Angelina Jolie naked is beyond me. Even if I was into girls in that way, I don't think she's all that great. Frankly I don't see what all this "the most beautiful girl in the world" buzz is about. Who voted on that anyway?

Loretta goes national

Our candidate Loretta Nall is all over the press these days and check out her campaign shirts while you're at that post. They're a riot.

Her big media hit of the week was a segment on MSNBC. The two talking head dorks, who I didn't recognize, were extraordinarily snarky and ill informed but hell, like they say, there's no such thing as bad press.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sweet memories

Over at Lemons and Lollipops, Lisa was recalling the corner store from her childhood. Bert's Place sounds like a store in a storybook. A kindly elderly lady keeping shop in a picture perfect little establishment. Me, I had Harry the Gyp. I don't know that his name was really Harry but we called him the Gyp because he had a habit of shortchanging my brother and his friends. Looking back, I think now it's because he was charging them for the candy they shoplifted on their previous visit but that's another story.

Harry was probably in his late 40s. He was a big man with a bigger beer belly and he always wore a dirty white tshirt. If the condition of the store was any indication, maybe he never changed it. He smoked cigars and he was mean. He never smiled and always seemed a bit grumpy that we interrupted his day. Sometimes he would even holler. He took a lot of phone calls. I'd guess in retrospect, he was probably a bookie. It seems unlikely he could have been making a living solely on the business he did in the store.

Ah, the store. It was housed on the bottom floor of a regular looking, if ill kept house. Harry lived upstairs. It was dimly lit, maybe with one bare bulb in the center and reeked of cigar smoke. The floor was worn through to bare wood, stained a mottled grey by years of unswept footprints. There were dusty shelves of (probably outdated) canned goods sitting next to the bread in the dim recesses at the back of the store and a big section of cheap booze towards the front where the sunlight fought to penetrate decades of filth encrusted on the plate windows that fronted the street.

Yet we made the pilgrimage to this unsavory place and braved the possible wrath of its slightly terrifying owner almost daily for one reason and one reason only. The candy. Harry had the best collection of penny candy that I've ever seen then or since. In those days it really did cost a penny. Sometimes you would even get two or three pieces for one red cent.

Now don't get me wrong, his ice cream selection was also superb. We spent many a delicious moment on a hot summer day contemplating whether a creamsicle, a King Kone or one of the double stick popsicles, (which he carried in a complete rainbow of colors) was going to do the trick to cool us off. I would usually went with the blue popsicle myself. It just looked the coldest. But I digress. The candy.

Harry the Gyp was the Willie Wonka of penny confections. I remember them all with fondness. Fireballs and wax lips. Jawbreakers that changed colors as you sucked through the layers. Bazooka bubble gum with Joe Palooka* Bazooka Joe comics tucked inside. Mary Janes, and Bit-o-honey and squirrel nut zippers. Safety pops with the looped handles, root beer barrels, Tootsie rolls and Tootsie roll pops. Wax "soda" bottles, Lik-a-made, pixie sticks and long sheets of candy buttons that never came off without some paper on the bottom. Baby Sugar Daddies and the taffy bars on a stick. Licorice in black or red, in tubes or whips. The tubes are similar to what that still sell today already cut to length, but Harry sold it in pieces long enough to almost use as a jump rope. And the whips were thin, like cooked spagetti and twice as long.

He had green bubble gum cigars and candy cigarettes in every form. Chocolate, pink bubblegum, the white hard sugar ones with the painted red tips that you had to break off to get a single ciggie from. Once in while I would forgo the candy to get the kind that blew "smoke" while the tip glowed. Loved them all. Probably why I became a smoker not that much later in life.

Come to think of it, Harry is why I became a smoker not much later in life but that's a story for another day.

* [thanks to Elisson for the correction]

[Graphics gratitude]

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Afternoon amble

I just couldn't get into the drug war news today. I took a walk to enjoy the lovely afternoon instead. The weather was perfect for it today. No humidity and clear skies. I'm sorry to report I missed what I'm sure was a spectacular flower on the cactus around the corner. I meant to go over that way to check last week and I just forgot.

I was consoled by running into a couple of bunnies that let me get quite close to take their photos. Unfortunately, The light was failing andthe flash went off making them look like little aliens with white eyes so I'm posting the best shot I got of the neighbor's flora. You see this species of holly a lot in the South but I've never seen them with berries. I don't believe I've seen a holly with blue berries -- ever.

Stream of consciousness

Our pal Preston Peet of was interviewed as part of a Colombian Journalism school news production in a segment on medical marijuana. Here's the link to the streaming video. It was hard to get so you have to scroll over to see the piece. It's just short of halfway down the scroll bar.

TV Guide

Set your TIVOs if you have them or if you're like me and barely have a working TV, make note. These two programs on the History channel look interesting.
Saturday, May 27, 2006

8-9pm -- History Alive - Cocaine.
Derived from South America's coca leaf, cocaine was
touted as a cure-all in the late 19th century and was
the secret ingredient in many medicines and elixirs
such as Coca-Cola. But cocaine's allure quickly
diminished as racism entered the picture--the concept
of the "cocaine-crazed Negro" even led police to
strengthen the caliber of their guns from .32 to .38.
We'll see how, though it was outlawed in 1914, its
popularity soared in the 1980s and '90s and gave birth
to a deadlier form--crack.

9-10pm -- History Alive - Marijuana.
In a series investigating the history of drug use, we
begin our trip tracing the rise of marijuana and
synthetic amphetamines. Marijuana, from the Indian
hemp plant, has been used worldwide as a source of
rope, cloth, and paper; its medicinal qualities were
first documented 4,000 years ago in China. But it's
best known as the drug of choice of the 1960s. During
WWII, US troops were given an estimated 200 million
amphetamines to fight drowsiness and battle fatigue,
and they're still used to fight depression.
I hope I still get that station. The cable company has my service in such a mess, I don't know what I get outside of the weather channel.

[hat tip Jay R]

Free time

WooHoo. I feel just like I did when I woke up on my birthday one year and discovered that I was a year younger than I thought I was. I thought I had to work all week but found out last night that I have the next three days off.

I have to do some catch up on the poliblogs since I was so burned out I went to bed when I got home and posted absoutely nothing yesterday. I'll be back in a bit.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

For the birds

There's some big time thunderstorms dancing around my little town. If I disappear today it means I've lost power or the cable again. Meanwhile, the birds outside my window have been endlessly entertaining. I've got a little yellow warbler that's been visiting regularly to serenade me with this sweet little songs but the other yellow guy who I can't quite identify has been a riot. He's been diligently cleaning out the spider webs for me, one supposes in an attempt to rob the spider of its insect stash. He attacks the webs very systematically, grabbing a piece and then flying violently away to break it. By the third try his little beak is covered in a cloud of web but he persists until he reaches his intended target and then returns to the bush to crow about his victory. He's only quit once when a huge hornet intimidated him into leaving the sill.

The cardinals have been regular visitors as well. I decided the one I thought was a female is actually a youngster since I saw the male feeding it the other day. And there's been some big preening going on in the bush these couple of days. Various birds have sat there for extended periods of time fluffing out their feathers and perhaps swallowing invisible mites. At least it looks like they're eating something. There was one I couldn't identify yesterday. A brownish bird with a cream colored chest. He was so fluffed out he looked like a baseball with a head on it, just sitting there for about a half hour.

I'm so easily amused....

Needle exchange

I saw my opening and I took it. There was an article on needle exchange in the Danbury News Times so I started a thread on the forum about it. Of course, now I'm commited to spending time defending my point. I must say I'm surprised at the responses. Only two of the regs bit but they're vehemently against it.

I can't wait to see what happens when I start a legalization thread someday.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

South of the border

I never weighed in Mexico's dance around decrim last week. It all happened so fast and now its gone like a summer thunderstorm. But Mark Kleiman had a great analysis that's still worth posting for the archives.

NBC News called this morning. Could they come interview me about Mexican drug decriminalization? Sure, I said, but as far as I can tell decriminalization isn't what happened. Fine, they said, we'll be right over.

So I made on camera pretty much the same points I'd made on the radio:

1. The new law would expand the number of police who can make drug arrests.

2. The new law would free users caught with small quantities from going to jail, but not from arrest.

3. The Federales probably weren't in the habit of arresting users for possessing small amounts, any more than the DEA is.

4. The new law more or less tracks California law, and the law in many other states: users, if arrested, get diverted from the criminal justice system.
Unfortunately his sensible POV didn't make it to the segment. The program chose to air the prohib's alarmist views instead.

I loved all the tortured scenarios about drug tourism myself. Have none of these people ever been to Mexico? They already do drug tourism and very well thank you. Discrete personal use has long been tolerated, among tourists anyway. And thousands of white middle class southern Californians travel to Tijuana daily to pick up their much more reaonably priced pharmaceuticals, among other goods and services. This law would have had no practical impact on the US and it was none of our business besides.

I don't have much to add at this point except I think it's a damn shame that Mexico and Canada have both allowed themselves to be bullied by the Bush administration into retreating from progressive and common sense drug approaches and into adopting the failed regressive policies of the US.

Southern ma'am

This is almost scary. I understand this post in a way I can't explain with words. Time was when I wouldn't have "got it" at all.

It's a new DAWN

I've remiss in crusing the blogs and newsletters lately, so here's a sampling.

At the essential Drug WarRant Pete does the reading on the new report from the Drug Abuse Warning Network. This is the annual listing of alleged drug related emergency health crises. Pete puts their methodology to the test and unsurprisingly finds it lacking. He follows up with some dark humor regarding alleged marijuana suicide attempts. Pretty hard to commit suicide by cannabis since there is no lethal dose. Might be fun trying I guess.

Pete also links to an especially good op-ed penned by Froma Harrop.

The Harm Reduction Journal has a new study out debunking the prohib myth that marijuana is harmful to adolescent brain development.
Analyses were performed on brain MRI scans from individuals who were frequent cannabis users (N=10) in adolescence and similar age and sex matched young adults who never used cannabis (N=10).

Conclusions: Frequent cannabis use is unlikely to be neurotoxic to the normal developing brain.
NORML reports on yet another study proving the ONDCP's anti-marijuana ads are not only ineffective, they actually encourage teens to experiment with the plant.

The invaluable Drug Sense Weekly is always a must read. This is my favorite story of the week and let it serve as a reminder to all that it's not the 60s anymore. The world is full of meddlers who will turn you in for boasting about your plants.
Eckerd Employee Summons Police After Developing Pictures
A Statesboro man was so proud of his crop, he photographed it and went to a local drug store to have the pictures developed.

Unfortunately, his bumper crop was marijuana, and police arrested him Tuesday as he went to pick the photos up.

Statesboro Police Capt. L. C. Williams said Byron Charles Mattheeussen, 21, Acorn Lane, photographed his healthy marijuana plants - 42 in all - and took the pictures to Eckerd to be developed. When the photo lab technician saw what the subject of the photos was, she called police.
The moral being, if you must photograph your plants, get a digital camera and color printer and even then think twice. The photos could be used against you in the future.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Afghani farmers fight back

Also via DRC it appears there's trouble in Afghanistan. Farmers rebelled against eradication efforts being conducted at the insistence of the US.
Under pressure from the West, particularly Britain and the United States, the government of President Hamid Karzai has declared a jihad against opium, but the government's efforts are hampered by its weakness, its infiltration by drug trafficking interests, and its awareness that too aggressive an eradication campaign could benefit a reinvigorated Taliban, which has promised to protect opium farmers in the south. The Karzai government is undertaking only limited eradication efforts and has rejected the use of aerial eradication.

Tuesday's violence, the most serious so far this year, occurred in the province of Sar-i-Pul in the north. "Police faced resistance from armed people among the farmers," provincial police chief General Nadir Fahimi told Reuters. "Two farmers were killed while nine policemen were wounded, three of them critically," he said.
People tell me Bush's one positive accomplishment was the war in Afghanistan. I have to wonder how they measure success. Granted the Taliban were horrible but being ruled over by war lords doesn't seem to be much of trade up to me. We destroyed their infrastructure in that war, we didn't destroy al-Qaeda, which was presuambly the purpose of the war and now the country's economy depends on poppy production.

Yet the Bush administration insists the central government, which has a tenous hold on power at best, perpetrate their insane eradication politices in the war on some drugs but we offer no alternate means for the country to make money. It's unsurprising the farmers are beginning to fight back. They have nothing to lose. If they don't have a daughter to sell in order to repay their debt to the war lords, they'll be killed and even if they do, with no other income, they and their families are likely to starve.

New flash

From Drug Policy Alliance, a short flash animation,
Two Years For One Joint, which focuses on the conviction won against a 17 year old in the undercover sting in Great Barrington. I thought it was very well done. I hope it helps dethrone that cretin Capeless.

Coup against cannabis in Alaska

From the excellent Drug War Chronicle, somehow I missed this last week. Alaska recriminalized marijuana on the grounds that it's now more harmful than it was for the last 5,000 years. This prohib argument that the strength of cannabis has increased so greatly that it makes it more dangerous has always bugged me. Even if it were true, which it is not, it would logically make cannabis less dangerous a remedy since it requires less ingestion to get the same effect. Contrary to the prohibs favorite fantasy, most cannabis consumers use only enough to get to a certain level of pain relief or relaxation. They are not smoking foot long stogies from dawn to dusk.

This seems to me to another case of the nanny governists who were elected in the 04 sweep to pass their pet morality legislation before the 06 turnover. I'm glad to see the ACLU is going to challenge the constitutionality immediately instead of waiting for a court case under the new law. With any luck, it will be never be implemented. Meanwhile, I know the voters of Alaska will remember this since public polling was strongly against the measure and hope they will express their outrage at the ballot box.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The myth of narco-terrorism

This is interesting. We have a US Tunnel Task Force.
Based in San Diego, the team pools the resources of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection, and it draws support from a special U.S. military unit.
Now called Joint Task Force North, it has homeland security powers. Their work is pretty impressive but the problem is they spend the bulk of their time, energy and the taxpayer's dollar on discovering very sophisticated drug running tunnels that have almost nothing to do with national security.

Yes, drug runners who build tunnels that elaborate are generally organized criminals but they are no more a terror threat than they were before 9/11. The administration has used the war on terror to ratchet up the drug war at the taxpayer's expense on the pretense that the drug industry magically morphed into a terrorist threat overnight.

They even invented a cute name for it -- narcoterrorism. There is no such thing. Any more than there are eco-terrorists, or animal rights terrorists or peace terrorists. The latter are activists. Some of them are vandals but they're not going to release a bio bomb or fly a plane into a building. And drug dealers deal in drugs, not terror attacks.

Yes, you can argue that drugs finance terrorists, but that doesn't mean every drug dealer is one. The terrorists are just cashing in on the black market that prohibition and the drug dealers created. Terrorists deal drugs as a sideline to finance their operations. Drug dealers deal drugs full time as a business. It's not in their best interest to destroy their market with bombs and other means of mayhem.

Think about that before you buy into the line about narco-terror. Terrorists don't fund themselves by dealing beer but they might have if these were the days of Al Capone. Prohibition creates the profits that breed crime. The black market is the truest form of the free market in existence. It's the last place the underclass can still acheive the American dream of rags to riches through hard work. And don't be fooled by the movies, it's a hard job, dealing for a living.

And you're never going to stop them. As one agent states:
"Could they build a tunnel under the Rio Grande?" Marwood mused. "It really is just an engineering question. If the money is right for them, they can do whatever is possible."
And the money is there, all tax free. On the dark side of the business, since the market is completely unregulated and has no neutral authority to resolve disagreements, it claims its victims in violent territorial disputes and impure product. And so the war on drugs not only doesn't stop drugs, it also compromises national security. If the market was legalized, the Tunnel Task Force could be using its resources to catch real terrorists because the drug dealers wouldn't have to dig tunnels anymore.

[hat tip Tim Meehan]

Loretta Nall has got the 'mo

Loretta's campaign is reaching critical mass. Hot on the heels of her appearance on the Alan Colmes radio show, a new program on MSNBC did a feature spot on her campaign Get all the details along with a long list of mainstream coverage.

The best news is she's managed to accumulate enough funding to hire professional help in fulfilling the almost impossible signature requirements to get in the race. There's every reason to believe she can beat the odds to get on the ballot and become the next governor of Alabama, thus putting to rest the notion that an honest candidate with no funding can't be elected to office.

Woo Hoo. Go Loretta and let her be an inspiration to others who think the system can't be beat.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Libby's law

If you go outside without a camera you will be buzzed by hawks who fly so low you wonder whether you should duck and butterflies will wait by the roadside to be admired while they slowly flap their wings. If you go back inside for a camera, the birds will be singing inside the cover of the trees and the butterflies will be long gone.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Purple haze

I'm back on the work schedule and I'm brain dead. I got five hours of sleep last night because I got in that weird sleep pattern. Blogger has been testy all day. I couldn't even get into it for most of the morning and pictures won't post. It was a nice day though.

After two days of dreary chilling rain, the sun finally broke through and it turned out to be a pleasant afternoon. I went for a walk to enjoy the sun and the towering, glowering clouds on the horizon. The wisteria and the early bloomers are long gone. Today I saw lilies and azaleas in a multitude of colors. The annuals are asserting themselves in the flower beds. Relentlessly cheerful pansies are spreading now in wide swaths of purple and yellow with the occasional patch of white struggling for attention.

And there are roses. The wild brambly ones with tiny blossoms claiming their corner of long forgotten farms on the edges of the developments and along the roadsides, while in the tidy yards a dozen different varities of prim cultivars pimp their multicolored finery. I passed a grape arbor where vines rising from a gnarled base thick as a hundred year old tree already threaten to take over the trellis and white clematis curled in the corners preparing for a counterattack.

It feels odd to turn a corner and run into a peony at this time of year. This accerlated cycle leaves me with a vague sense of urgency, like the summer is already passing and I'm missing it. After all those years in New England, the ingrained subconscious cues that connected me to the seasons are being challenged. I hear the daffodils are just coming out in Northampton. Somehow that sounds more real and right to me, than what I see before my eyes.

I wish I could take two weeks off and be in New England for daffodil season. It's the best time year there, when the earth bursts forth like a time lapse photo. It's like living inside a miracle.

Souder asks, we answer

Wall St. Journal published four letters to the editor today in response to an earlier article essentially calling for an end to the drug war. This was one of them penned by our favorite prohib profiteer.
Mary O'Grady argues that we will never eradicate drug use. One wonders what other vices Ms. O'Grady proposes we surrender to. Child abuse? Spousal abuse? Rape? We may never eradicate any of these crimes either, but that doesn't mean that we simply give up on them.

Not coincidentally, by the way, all of those crimes, and many others, are frequently linked to drug and alcohol abuse. It's a tired old canard that drug abuse is a victimless crime.

Furthermore, where is the evidence that legalizing and taxing a substance causes organized crime to disappear? It sure didn't after Prohibition -- criminals just no longer focused on alcohol. Unless everything is legalized, including cocaine and heroin, of course the thugs would merely move to the more potent substances. Where does it end?
Rep. Mark Souder (R., Ind.) Fort Wayne, Ind.
Good question Mr. Souder and here's the answer. It ends at the terminal limits of this current folly and at the beginning of common sense. You're correct. We still have criminals after Prohibition One because they moved into the illegal drug market instead. So yes we do have to legalize everything and move to a treatment model. That will be good for all, well except for you and your fellow profiteers who stand to lose money and power if we move from the current criminalization programs.

Seems a small sacrifice to make for the good of the nation.

Monday, May 08, 2006

DARE Generation Diary: Torture at home

Micah at DARE Generation Diary uncovers the outrage of the day.
PROVIDENCE -- Three state correctional officers, including a captain who allegedly forced an inmate to taste his own feces on Valentine's Day, were arrested and charged yesterday with multiple counts of assaulting five inmates in the Adult Correctional Institutions.


The prisoners allegedly involved were serving short sentences for crimes such as felony shoplifting and drug possession.
The torture at Abu Ghraib got lot of attention, as it should have, but the same outrageous behavior is occuring daily right here at home. They've been practicing these tactics on American prisoners for years. The guards here allegedly physically assaulted the inmates with their fists and clipboards, threw objects at them and one inmate, for the simple infraction of trying to smuggle cigarettes into the jail was forced to eat his own feces.

The guard's defense attorney claims they were just doing what is a difficult job. However, to my knowledge the inmates were not unruly or presenting any danger to the guards or the general population at the time of the assaults. It is not their job to inflict punishment or to humiliate the inmates, although if you visit any prison today you would find this sort of conduct is commonplace.

Prisoners are still human beings. The guards' job is just that, to guard against the prisoners harming each other and/or from escaping imprisonment. That they fail to protect non-violent offenders from the prison predators within the inmate population is common knowledge. That they inflict their own extra-judicial punishments on the inmates is a crime. One can only hope these guards will pay a stiff enough peanlty for their transgressions that others will think twice before they act out their own sadistic urges.

First they came for the drug users, then they came for the gamblers...

Via Freedom Sight, I see I see our DC dealers banned internet gambling. I'll certainly sleep better tonight knowing those gamblers are in Las Vegas where they belong. And all those terrorists playing Bejeweled for cash won't be keeping me up at night anymore either. Let them play for fun like everybody else.

Quote of the day from Freedom Sight's link.
"Offshore online gambling Websites are cash cows and the greed that propels these companies leads them to solicit bettors in the U.S., despite the fact that the Department of Justice already believes this activity is illegal," said Goodlatte.
That almost describes the stock market too and what's the difference between say poker and the commodities market? Or the money markets? Hell this describes Capitol Hill and the lobbyists. They don't give a flying leap about whether people gamble, what they're really worried about is the loss of revenue for state sanctioned gaming.

However, the law will still allow states to further regulate themselves. Washington State has taken this to heart and recently passed a bill making it a felony akin to sex offending to engage in online gambling. Conviction carries up to a ten year sentence. Jeez, if they need to fill their prisons, why don't they just double the pedophiles jail time? Should some schmuck who plays cyber poker really be sent to the pokey for a decade?

Who advocated for this bill? What purpose does this serve? Who are they "protecting" with this law? It shouldn't even be constitutional to legislate the conduct. I would think it falls under the pursuit of happiness clause. Something happened while we weren't looking. A bunch of nanny do-gooders got swept into local offices and they're throwing out all those dusty old personal rights that have been taking up room in the statutes for the last 200 years or so.

Time for the electorate to do some housecleaning themselves. I hope the good voters of Washington state are taking names and will remember this in November.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sunday Aircraft Blogging

How not to land an airplane.

Ready, Aim, Fire

Thehim at Reload has a hilarious post at Jesus General. A letter of "support" to Calvina Fay for her courageous stance on drug testing in schools.

Over at his own place, thehim catches this twist on the immigration debate.
In the comments of my Drug War Roundup, a commenter pointed me to this column in the Wall Street Journal by Mary Anastasia O'Grady, which makes the same connection between the war on drugs and the large numbers of Mexicans who have gone north in search of work:

In the debate about Mexican immigration to the U.S. there has been a lot of legitimate criticism about Mexico's failure to create an economically viable environment for its own people. When exporting human capital is a top priority something in the policy mix is dreadfully wrong and there is no doubt that the Mexican political class has a lot to answer for.

But the drug war also figures in the equation. Nobel economist Douglas North taught us the importance of institutions in development economics. Yet prohibition and the war on drugs are fueling a criminal underworld that handily crushes nascent democratic institutions in countries that we keep expecting to develop. Is it reasonable to blame Mexico for what enormously well-funded organized-crime operations are doing to its political, judicial and law enforcement bodies when we know that Al Capone's power during alcohol prohibition accomplished much the same in the U.S.? These are realities of the market, of supply and demand and prices under prohibition that no amount of wishing or moralizing can change.
Nothing happens in a vacuum. Trouble is, and the politicians count on this, most Americans don't know anything about history and they have the attention span of a flea. If people took the time to connect the dots, public opinion would prevent the government from walking all over us.

The annoyance factor

Via Stone Soup, I thought this meme was fun. This is how big an idiot I am.

I am 17% Idiot.
Friggin Genius
I am not annoying at all. In fact most people come to me for advice. Of course they annoy the hell out of me. But what can I do? I am smarter than most people.

How about you?

I'm in the money

WooHoo. I've only been working for Arbitron for two days and already got a raise. Every time they send you a letter, they enclose a crisp new dollar bill. I'm up to three bucks. Considering it will take about a minute to fill out the diary, this could turn out to be the best paying job I've ever had. I'll be sorry to see it end, but the mail is the best part anyway. I wonder if they would interested in becoming my pen pal.....?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A few choice words for Rush Limbaugh

Quote of the day goes to Richard Paey, who had this to say in response to the news that Rush Limbaugh bought himself out of trouble for $30,000.
"The wealthy and influential go to rehab, while the poor and powerless go to prison."
Sad but true. This from John Tierney's latest op-ed in the NYT, brought to you here from behind the paywall in its entirety from a forum I recently joined.

Tierney's been on the Paey story for some time now and he picks up where I left off in connecting the dots between Rush and Richard. Tierney makes one important distinction right out of the gate. Paey could have cut a deal -- he was offered a good one -- but he chose to stand on his principles and not plead out to a charge he wasn't guilty of, not to mention fight for the right of all pain patients.

In a just world, Paey would be a free man but of course, in our system it's Rush who walks the streets unfettered. As Tierney says, "Paey stood up for his belief that patients in pain should be able to get the medicine they need. Limbaugh so far hasn't stood up for any consistent principle except his right to stay out of jail." He goes on to say:
[Rush] has portrayed himself as the victim of a politically opportunistic prosecutor determined to bag a high-profile trophy, which is probably true. But that's standard operating procedure in the drug war supported by Limbaugh and his fellow conservatives.

Drug agents and prosecutors are desperate for headlines because they have so little else to show for their work. The drug war costs $35 billion per year and has yet to demonstrate any clear long-term benefits — precisely the kind of government boondoggle that conservatives like Limbaugh ought to view skeptically.

Yet conservatives go on giving more money and more power to the drug cops. When critics complained about threats to civil liberties in the Patriot Act, President Bush defended it by noting that the government was already using some of these powers against drug dealers. Why worry about snooping on foreign terrorists when we've already been doing it to Americans?
Most people outside out of the reform community don't realize how the war on some drugs laid the foundation for the civil rights abuses now being commited by the Bush administration. Every time they chip away at drug consumers rights, everybody's rights take a hit. Fascism always starts by vilifying a minority group.

Tierney has some ideas on how Rush could help reverse this process.
Even if Limbaugh believes that drugs like OxyContin are a menace to himself, he ought to recognize that most patients are in Richard Paey's category. Their problem isn't abusing painkillers, but finding doctors to prescribe enough of them. And that gets harder every year because of the drug war promoted by conservatives like Limbaugh.

It has been said that a liberal is a conservative who's been arrested. I wouldn't wish such a conversion on Limbaugh. But a two-year investigation by drug prosecutors should be enough to turn a conservative into a libertarian.
It surely should be enough, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting. Rush's concern for the common good ends just about where he meets his chair.

That's our candidate

Our gal Loretta Nall is hotter than a New York sidewalk in August. Not only is she now in the top ten of Technorati searches, she is also going to be a guest on Fox radio's Alan Colmes show this Monday, May 8, 2006 at 10 pm CDT.

Meanwhile, Melinda Pillsbury-Foster writes a fabulous op-ed on Loretta's candidacy. Here's a couple of the money quotes.
Loretta Nall is not your typical gubernatorial candidate in any way. Along with being well endowed she is articulate, focused, dedicated, and honest. George W. Bush is not what the Founders had in mind when they created the office of President of the United States. Loretta Nall,is the mother of two; her husband stays home and she works to support them. Her formal education ended with a GED; she married when she was 16. She is a long time activist for individual rights. She is as different from the power elite now infesting government, especially Washington D. C., as is possible and nothing about her is as different from the D. C. Elite as her values.

...If the electoral system in Alabama is as honest as it should be, and the people speak, then the people may well choose a very different exemplar of American values to lead them. Loretta could be Governor of Alabama. Loretta understands the problems that the people of Alabama face today as no other candidate could.

Amen to that. And if you have a couple of bucks to spare, go play Flash for Cash, Loretta's newest fundraiser launched in response to the pundit's preoccupation with her natural assets.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Herbal marijuana is the best medicine

Lester Grinspoon has an op-ed on the FDA's contradictory stands on medical marijuana. Lester points out, (as I did only much more eloquently), that the FDA has approved medical applications for pharamceutical marijuana already and the reasons to vilify "raw" marijuana are obvious. Read the whole thing, it's short, but here's the money quote.
One of the most important characteristics of cannabis is how fast it acts when it is inhaled, which allows patients to easily determine the right dose for symptom relief. Sativex's sublingual absorption is more efficient than orally administered Marinol (which requires 1 1/2 to two hours to take effect), but it's still not nearly as fast as smoking or inhaling the herb.

That means "self-titration," or self-dosage, is difficult if not impossible. Further, many patients cannot hold Sativex, which has an unpleasant taste, under the tongue long enough for it to be absorbed. As a consequence, varying amounts trickle down the esophagus. It then behaves like orally administered cannabis, with the consequent delay in the therapeutic effect.
He further notes that marijuana, even at black market prices, is cheaper than either Sativex or Marinol.

The DEA and the ONDCP regularly trot out their fear inducing, self-commissioned studies claiming harm, but the truth is that herbal cannabis is a reliable cure for many symptoms and is not only the least harmful of any drug on the market, legal or illegal, but in fact has been shown in independent studies to prevent harm. Those are the ones the DEA and the ONDCP are never going to tell you about.

Cops should opt out of paid press

This is really over the top. Police in Patterson NJ paid $3,500 of the taxpayers' money to purchase a paid ad in which they published the names and addresses of suspects -- not those convicted -- of petty ante crimes. We're talking about people who solicited hookers, small time drug busts and a couple of underage drinkers.

At a time when budget constraints are already limiting the number of cops on the beat, this seems to me to be a criminal waste of resources and an ineffective PR move made for purely punative reasons. One doubts it will greatly deter anyone determined to buy sex or small amounts of drugs. Not to mention most newspapers already publish arrest info so what's the point?

The cops say it's worth it if it keeps even 10 of those perps out of their city and expect to make it a regular feature about every three months. One wonders if they would feel the same if the money came out their pocket instead of ours.

Creature's comforts

This time of year, for most of my life, it would be more usual to see bears than bugs. I miss that. Bears are more dangerous but I'm lot more scared of bugs. I mean, you see a bear, you know what you're dealing with and mostly if you leave them alone, they're going to do the same for you.

Can't say that for bugs. Those insidious little critters are going to get you or die and they're so small you might not even see the guy that gets you. Still I try to give the larger non-aggressive ones a break when I can. I have this idea that insects are like the borg. They have this collective knowledge and what happens to one is known by all of them. Before you sneer at that theory consider this. I told how I saved that giant bumblebee the other day. Ever since then not one has buzzed me like were before I saved that one. I swear they were chasing me before that but just yesterday there was one buzzing around the deck that I swear was protecting me instead. He was buzzing around the periphery chasing away other bugs.

With that in mind it may make more sense to hear that I saved a spider's life yesterday. I don't hate spiders. I like that they kill other more disgusting bugs but I am rather terrified of them here because there's poisonous ones and I don't know the difference. So you can imagine my fright when I turned around and found one hanging off the ceiling at eye level. Tell the truth I would have killed it if it was on a hard surface but it was just hanging there. I collected a large glass and a piece of cardboard and it was still hanging there motionless in exactly the same spot so I caught it and let it go outside. I'm hoping it will have the effect as it did on the bees and the buggers will leave me alone now.

In the interim, I had a moth on the screen porch. It was a little brown thing and for 36 hours it sat motionless on the screen. I wasn't sure if it was alive or even it was a moth. In a certain light it looked like a piece of oak leaf stuck there. But when I came out the next morning it was flying around. Moths don't bother me and I suppose I could have let him starve to death inside the porch but I saved his life with the glass trick too, just because I could.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A dandy from Tandy

Underassistant Administrator of Untruth, Karen Tandy of the DEA, has an letter to the editor in the NYT today. She outdoes herself with this febrile defense of the DEA's refusal to allow acceptable grade cannabis to be grown for independent testing.
The D.E.A. doesn't limit the potency of marijuana for research. The agency has registered every one of the 163 researchers who requested to use marijuana in studies and who have met Department of Health and Human Services standards.

None of these researchers have sought any higher quality marijuana, but if they ever did, it could be supplied.
Supplied from where? Their one schwag factory that produces all the raw product for testing? Inside the beltway they like to call this a misstatement. Round these parts they call it a baldfaced lie. Those 163 researchers are mostly shills they commissioned to get the results they wanted. The only reason no one asked for better grade testing material is because they get fired for failing to prove the schwag is harmful.

Study after independent study going back well over a century has found the plant to be safe for moderate use. Modern day studies have proven its medical benefits and in fact, alternate agency disinformer, Andrea Barthwell -- formerly of the ONDCP before she was fired for that unforunate drunken incident at the office party -- is now a paid lobbyist for Sativex. Don't let the fancy talk fool you. Sativex is essentially liquid marijuana.

And why would they bother to develop this all natural version when they already have synthetics that allegedly deliver the same effects? Because its chemical composition is so complex that it is the most effective when used in its whole plant state.

A lot of corporate cash is riding on this one. Protecting the pharma corps' interest in marketing a prescribed delivery system is the only reason they are still vilifying the "raw" plant. Anybody can grow a weed, but only Bayer Canada can dispense the "distilled" plant. One expects possession of the natural plant will remain a crime while the pharmaceutical version, distilled from the exact same plant, will be legal only by prescription and at a hefty profit to Bayer and GW Pharma. Explains a lot about the war on marijuana, doesn't it?

Meanwhile, terminally ill patients suffer in pain for lack of a effective medicine or fear of arrest for using a natural remedy to ease the pain of their dying days. It's just not right.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I got a new toy

I finally figured out how to embed YouTube videos in the blog. This is good and bad. It's good because I often want to share one I run across, but it's bad because I just spent two hours getting lost in the new uploads before I found this one. It's a trip. There's 15 pages at any given time but by the time you get to page five, you can go back to page one and there's all new videos already. Anyway I'm practicing embedding so I don't forget how and I love this routine. It's only a couple of minutes long and the announcer at the beginning is right. I remember when I first saw this decades ago and I really haven't seen anything to top it since. Astaire was the master.

I got involved in all of this because I followed a link out of my referral section to Blogshares. I don't understand how that all works but LOS is number 8 out of 45 blogs on the trading floor. Who knows why my shares are trading so high since the bigger blogs seem to have much lower numbers. I often wonder who "owns" me besides. I think you have to join to find out. One of life's little mysteries.

So when I was checking my stock position, I decided to click on the number one blog, Joe My God which appears to be a gay, possibly Jewish guy with a pretty cool blog that seems to have almost nothing to do with drugs. I found a stunning political video there that inspired me to figure out the YouTube thing. I posted that at the Impolitic and then spent another two hours reviewing footage. This is not going to be good for my productivity.

Update:For some reason the video isn't loading but I don't its the link because I just added another at The Imp that works fine. I think the problem is at the YouTube end. If it doesn't resolve I guess I'll change it but I'll be sorry because it was a great one. It was the connection. I just checked and it's working.

First they came for the pot smokers....

I don't know what disgusts me more about this. That people think it's a good idea to prevent access to a field that is normally available for public use, simply to prevent their fellow Americans from assembling to commit a peaceful act of civil disobedience or that the police department's snitch program is so bloody successful because apparently there are so many young people willing to sell out civil rights for $50 bucks.

That the field was shut down specifically to prevent the 420 event from occurring is indisputable and not a word of protest over the abridgment of political speech can be heard outside of the reform community. One imagines if the same tactic was used to prevent an anti-drug or a pro-war demonstration the clamor would be deafening. That the police are using their resources to send in an undercover cameraperson in order to post pictures of the attendees on-line and then solicit informants at $50 a pop smacks of Big Brotherism, not to mention being a criminal waste of funds.

I remember when college kids were concerned about unwarranted government encroachment on their privacy. This would not have happened in the 60s and $50 was a lot more money back then. Sadly, it appears to no longer be so. Many students have already been turned in for the money.

I find it especially egregious that only marijuana smokers were targeted. If the college is truly worried about its reputation, as it says in justification for this slap in the face to civil liberties, then they should be targeting the alcohol abusers that are legend in that school. As Mason Tvert, campaign director for Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation ( SAFER ), said, "Could you imagine if CU police officers took the time to photograph this many students drinking at every tailgate or fraternity party and then offered rewards for identifying them?"

Really. To my knowledge no violence or vandalism has been reported as a result of the 420 celebration, which has occurred in previous years without incident. The same cannot be said for alcohol addled sports fans known to riot and rampage after sporting events. If the college is worried about illegal activity and the safety of their community they should start there.

Multiple streams of income

Well folks, you can now say you know a real opinionmaker. I am an official Arbitron rater for the week, for which I am being paid the handsome sum of one US dollar. I figure that's about what my time is worth since I listen to the radio for about ten minutes a day in the car -- that is if I actually go anywhere.

On the bright side, it's pretty good money since I never change the station it should be rather easy to fill out the diary if I can remember to figure what station I listen to. I found it on the radio when I arrived here and just left it there because I like the oldies.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Small stuff

I'm whipped from being outside so I'm not going to post tonight. It was a gorgeous day. It's been very springlike with clear air, blue skies and warm sun. Ortega came and did the yard yesterday so I lost all the wildflowers but it was time. It was getting jungly enough out there to harbor snakes and ticks and who knows what else. It looks very respectable again. I still have the brush pile to burn. It got so big I'm almost afraid to light it. If it sets the tree on fire, I'll feel pretty dumb.

I think I have more birds this year. I have a really giant redheaded woodpecker and two pairs of cardinals. Seems like there are more mocking birds and a wider variety of wrens and sparrows. They're not hanging around the window as much this time of year although one of the male cardinals practically flew through it yesterday. I think he was going to fight with his reflection. There seem to be a lot of fights. I saw two little guys whose species I couldn't identify really going at it in the bush right outside. At first I thought it was a squirrel they made such a odd chitter. The victor seemed very pleased with himself.

I should put a bird feeder in that shrub, it's tall enough but I'm saving the space for the hummingbird feeder instead. They're the ones I most want to attract.