100 Daze

I suspect that when Franklin D. Roosevelt had his 100 days they actually waited 100 days to talk about it. In fact, I think they probably thought about it later and then went back and looked at it. But back then, they probably didn’t get too worked up about Christmas until after Thanksgiving.

Now we have had a week of build up to the actual 100 days for President Obama, which I think is today or tomorrow or maybe Wednesday. And for the most part, it looks like he made all the right points on the scorecard. On NPR, where one of the squawkpersons actually said the 100 days was a meaningless measure but talked endlessly about it anyway, they had John McCain’s economic man on there saying how Obama actually had a pretty good 100 days. Thats nice as anything.

They have a lot of air time on the media circuit, and no one wants to get caught not covering the current event of the day, even if it isn’t worth a warm bucket of spit. The media, of course, has its own weird notion of what’s important. I remember Jimmy Berslin or some such saying how the real story about the Kennedy assassination was the guys who dug his grave, and so he interviewed them. I never thought that was much of a story, even when I was a kid. The real story was that Kennedy got his ass shot off in Dallas Texas and a number of very embarrassing Congressional investigations having to do with the president balling an East German spy were put to sleep.

Here are some stories that could be burning air time instead of this 100 days bullshit.

Dead zones in our waterways double every year, according to a thing I saw on Frontline recently. A dead zone is a place where nothing lives in the water. The Chesapeake Bay is 40 percent dead now. Will it be 80 percent dead this year? What will happen then? Is there a way to re-oxygenate the Bay? How about the oceans?

The Superintendent of Police in Islamabad complains that he does not have the resources to defend the city against Taliban insurgents. (See Paragraph 8 of “In Islamabad, a Sense of Forboding” in today’s Washingtopn Post.) Islamabad, for those of you morons who don’t know, is the CAPITAL of Pakistan!!

We spend billions to fight the war on drugs every year and every year we fail to stop drugs coming into the country, fail to cure junkies of their addictions and fail to make drugs inaccessible to people who are about to become junkies. When are we going to get smart and make drugs legal?

The GOOP under Busch eviscerated the agencies that keep our air clean, water safe and food edible. How much will it really cost us to get back to the point where we can be assured that someone is keeping an eye on these important environmental issues?

The city of Dallas spends $2.5 million every year mowing highway medians. How much does the rest of the country waste on this silly exercise. When will it stop?

Wow. Joe Barton. Wow.

Joe Barton is proud of this. He’s actually proud of this.

Newsminer.com reports that Barton tweeted after this exchange: “I seemed to have baffled the Energy Sec with basic question—Where does oil come from?” Barton was proud of this. Smugly. He placed this video on YouTube HIMSELF. He titled it “Energy Secretary puzzled by simple question.” Joe Barton is downright giddy over this exchange. He is PROUD of it.

Yeah, you sure got Dr. Chu there. Because we all know that the oil actually got there when Jesus rode to Alaska on a magic horse and stopped to take a dump at the Alaskan North Slope.

By the way, as via Newsminer.com , the answer to that question can be found in plain English on the internets at Scientific American. And, for the record, Chu’s brief reply to this weird question was on the money.

Wowsers. Wowsers. Wowsers.

'It's Just Hazing'

A common line among “conservative” bobbling heads insists that what has come to light as torture as now most assuredly approved directly by the Immediate Past White House Administration is just as harmless as a fraternity hazing.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind them that, in my college days, fraternity hazing became frowned upon because men not yet 20 years old were ending up dead.

The landmark case of hazing deaths was that of Chuck Stenzel, who died in 1978 of alcohol poisoning. He had been driven to the house with two other pledges in the trunk of a car and forced to consume alcohol with the goal being to fill up a bucket to a mark with vomit. He eventually passed out and was laid on a matress until one of these geniuses noticed that his fingernails were turning blue. “Chuck’s blood alcohol content at the time of death was .46 a four fold increase from the legal definition of intoxication.”

But this kind of shit isn’t just past history.

On April 1, 2009, in Geneseo, N.Y., three frat douchebags were charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of a pledge. Arman Partamian, 19, died during a multi-day initiation after, like Stenzel, having consumed too much booze. His blood level was at .55.

On Nov. 21, 2008, 18-year-old Michael Starks, a Utah State University student, died from alcohol poisoning related to a fraternity initiation.

Hazing is not a breezy issue. Hazing kills people. Those who liken torture to it hoping to lessen the gravity of these charges do themselves no service.

The Bush Torture Regime: Both Cruel AND Ineffective

Bob Cesca NAILS it.

But if it’s nothing more than slapstick and some splashy water antics then how effective can it really be, Rush? How could something so innocuous (as described by Limbaugh and others) be even the slightest bit effective—not to mention a crucial weapon in America’s anti-terrorist arsenal? It can’t be both. Either the torture methods described in the Bush Office of Legal Counsel memos were harsh enough to create adequate anguish so as to elicit actionable intelligence (as is falsely claimed by Bush Republicans) or the techniques were nothing more than comfy chairs and soft cushions.

Sorry to spoiler Cesca’s keystone paragraph. But I think Cesca not only encapsulates the sheer madness of not only the Bush torture regime but of the administration as a whole: Not only was it clearly cruel, but it had the added bonus of being entirely ineffective to boot.

That may be the most frustrating part of reviewing the Bush legacy. Not only was his regime cruel and stupid, but it was utterly feckless as well. Apologists, including the Immediate Past Vice President, argue this with the flimsy “we weren’t attacked after 9/11,”—which is really just another way toward his cynical gambit, doubling down on us getting hit again. To which it must be argued: But. We did get hit ON 9/11. And the Bush administration ignored the guy who was running around with his hair on fire about it and was all set on 9/10 to half counter-terrorism munny, and President Bush did get served a briefing on Aug. 6 titled “BL Determined to Attack,” and Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to speak ON 9/11 in support of Star Wars.

To me, it’s simple and clear what happened. Bush got caught with his pants down on 9/11, and he’s felt compelled since to vastly overcompensate. And did so in part by approving torture techniques that we’ve prosecuted soldiers from other countries for. And that’s what’s stunning about the past few days. It’s no longer just conjecture. It’s clear public record now that these orders came from on high.

I think it’s rapidly approaching the point where whether to do something about this is no longer a question of opinion or politics. These powers-that-be now, they will have no choice but to do something about this. If it’s not our government, it may be some other, and that would be downright embarrassing, though somewhat satisfying. Regardless, this thing is in the barrel and speeding through the rapids, soon to be dumped headlong in to the grand Niagara River—with no brakes.

Potpourri Wednesday

  • Norm Coleman is not a good American. He is thwarting small-d democracy by dragging his feet on a conclusion to this ridiculous Senate race (He’s asked the state supreme court to give him more time for his appeal. That’s horseshit. He’s just biding time to keep us from 60 and to raise munny. Norm. Buddy. You lost.) Prior to The Immediate Former President’s outright theft of the office with the help of the Untied States Supreme Court, there was at least a veneer of gentlemanly behavior to be observed. One would realize that the jig was probably up and concede. Now, it’s just how can you sue your way to office. Talk about overly-litigious weenies. It’s not the trial lawyers. It’s the politicians.
  • Dick Cheney is not an American at all. He is a simple fascist. No good American as prominent as he would be standing up and saying the things he’s saying about the Obama-led America. Fortunately, Mr. Obama is a genius at rising above. I am not worried one iota about Obama. Cheney’s soul, or what’s left of it, now, that’s an entirely different question.
  • Bernie Sanders is awesome.
  • Greenwald points out something sad: It’s become referred to generically now as “the torture debate.” This is sad and stupid. There’s no debate on “torture.” You’re not supposed to do it. Period. Next question.
  • “Torture” is only utilized for two reasons. One, you are a government keen on terrorizing your own people and keeping them in line. Two, to make people say what you want them to say. New word out of an Armed Services Committee report that, indeed, what The Immediate Past President wanted them to say was that Saddam did it. Say it with me one more time: The War Is Stupid.
  • New category, what the hell, named of course after a Frank Zappa song. “The Torture Never Stops.”
  • Here’s an interesting idea. Nominate a guy to head FEMA who was the director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, as opposed to the former head of the Arabian Horsey Association.

Yes it is a Perfect Storm

An article in Today’s NYT describes the Busch Administration’s decision to torture people as “a perfect storm of ignorance and enthusiasm.” Hell I think that describes the entire eight years of Busch non leadership… and, moreover, accurately describes the entire GOOP to this day.

The Times points out that, even though there is a documented history of torture, and studies of its effect going back to the Korean War were readily available, no one in the U.S. government bothered to check them out. Had they done so, they would have noted that the U.S. government concluded it was ineffective in doing anything more than eliciting fantasies from its victims. Likewise, there is a history available from Israeli and French experience which indicated much the same thing. Not to mention advice from U.S. Army experts who said torture was unreliable. (BTW I think Obama should release all the transcripts That Lying Asshole Dik Chaney has asked for. I bet they don’t tell us much.)

So Busch and Cheney concluded, against the better judgement of many, that torture was the way to go. Somebody’s half baked idea triumphs over the best intelligence. Ignorance was power in the Busch Administration, or maybe it is more accurate to say that the powerful were ignorant. Like Busch ignored the CIA’s best advice about Al Queda just a month before they struck the Twin Towers. Like no one in the upper echelons of the Busch administration knew there was a difference between a Sunni and a Shiite. Like, despite substantial intelligence from the international community that there was no WMD in Iraq, the Busches insisted to the contrary. (See anything I may have written on this subject during 2002-2003, or Sir Jeremy Greenstock, former British Ambassador to the U.N, in Vanity Fair, February, 2009.) Like FEMA was viewed as “an overblown entitlement program.”

And to the GOOP? Ignorance is everything. Go back to Terri Schaivo where the power of the federal government was used to stomp on the privacy of a family in crisis and the Majority Leader claimed he could diagnose a patient he had never seen, whose record he had not read, who he had never met, by looking at a videotape. The woman who the GOOP hoped would be a heartbeat away from the presidency could not define the Busch Doctrine and got her foreign policy experience standing in her back yard. Their candidate for the nation’s highest office thought it was a good idea to sing about bombing Iran. Look at the morons who came out with teabag claims that Obama is not the president, who have no idea that they actually just benefitted from the largest tax cut in history, who now call The President of the United States a facist …only because they were getting no traction by calling him a socialist…. even though the term facist best describes themselves.

Ignorant dumb asses abound in the GOOP. Their enthusiasm for ignorance has no boundaries. And you will notice I have given them a new name. No longer the respectful GOP, which is an old party moniker that can be pronouced GOOP if you wish. Its now officially GOOP. Goobers Old Original Party. The party for the ignorant and enthusiastic.

Trust Me. It's Offensive.

We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.

There is a four-letter word ending in “u-n-t” referring to a female person that is not “aunt” that I am not generally allowed to use, and I will not start today. If I did allow myself to use said word, it would apply to Miss California, Carrie Prejean, for this ignorant, obnoxious, stupid answer she gave to “Perez Hilton” at the Miss USA pageant this week. I guess what do you expect to come out of an obsolete tradition that objectifies and demeans broads and whatnot. But this answer is ignorant, obnoxious and stupid. “That’s how I was raised.” You were raised as a prejudiced idiot who hates people, specifically children? And you’re proud of that?

These assholes seriously believe that they’re talking hypotheticals. They don’t understand that they’re talking about real people, specifically, actual children who actually exist whose society tells them that their families are inferior to other families. This shit wrecks people. It wrecks them here and now, not in the clouds, assholes.

Miss Californ-i-a, you are hot as all get-out, but man, are you ugly.

Legalize It

Damn, Papa stole my thunder. Kaboom!

As he mentioned, today is a good day to touch upon the subject of decriminalizing the recreation and medicinal use of marijuana. Bear in mind, this is coming from a writer who has never been able to enjoy the stuff personally. Believe me, I tried. But that shit makes me crazy. Not enjoyable to me, not one bit.

Today is April 20, considered to be some kind of holiday or commemoration among people who smoke marijuana. There is an article at The Huffington Post explaining why, though it really buries the lede to the point that it’s god-damned irritating.

Here’s a ridiculous fact: Total marijuana arrests in these Untied States have approximately doubled from 1980 to 2007, from 401,982 to 872,720. Here’s another ridiculous fact: Marijuana is America’s number-one cash crop. As cribbed from the Daily Reveille: “Although the exact amount is impossible to know, one study estimated the total marijuana production in the U.S. in 2006 to be $35.8 billion. That’s more than the combined value of domestic corn ($23.3 billion) and wheat ($7.5 billion).”

So we’re arresting people for consuming a product that is hand over fist more valuable in the marketplace than the most basic foodstuffs? Isn’t that kind of Three Stooges?

Not to mention that smoking marijuana has incredible medical utility, with an ability to ease pain and to create an appetite, a utility that is legal in some sectors but still officially frowned upon by the federal government. And don’t say, oh, there’s a pill now that can do that. No, there ain’t. When you take a pill, that’s your dose. If you get too little or too much, tough titties for you. Smoking allows for intricately adjusted doses, which is important for some of the maladies it’s meant to treat. It is absolutely retarded, and I’m sorry, but there is no better word for it, retarded that sick people who could benefit from such treatment are largely denied it because this government’s got a stick up its ass about marijuana.

We spend billions of dollars every year enforcing marijuana laws ($7.7 billion) and eschew billions a year in tax revenue what could be gained from legalization ($5.3 billion), not to mention the cleansing effect decriminalization would have on the problem as a whole. Not only could you tax the stuff, you could regulate it as well, enforcing safety and labor laws with regards to an industry that we know is there and that we know isn’t going away no matter how many laws we pass or how many cops we employ.

Look, admittedly, when it comes to issues of prohibition, I am remarkably libertarian. To drugs, I say if it can grow in the ground it should be legal. Prostitution? Legalize it. You say gay marriage would just lead to polygamy? So what? Outlaw guns? Are you out of your mind?

Prohibition doesn’t work. Regulation does. But you can’t regulate something that’s illegal. Nor can you tax it. I for one was disappointed when President Obama so flippantly dismissed the question he was asked regarding this issue. It is a serious policy concern, not some incomprehensible mumble delivered by Jeff Spicoli. It is time for our government to seriously take this issue up, because the current state of affairs just doesn’t make any sense at all. Legalize it.

Hey Obama… Legalize Drugs

Of all the things we waste time and effort on, the War on Drugs is the most egregious violation of common sense. That is not to say that drugs are harmless. Drug use is debilitating in most cases and addictive in many. Still, drugs are impossible to police and drug abuse is better handled directly by professionals than left to law enforcement.

We should have learned 90 years ago that prohibition does not work. Making alcohol illegal merely made it lucrative enough to attract well- organized, well-armed criminal gangs and make fortunes for thugs. The legalization of alcohol has required us to learn to cope with alcoholism and all the many problems it causes. But it has also allowed is to tax the product and focus our police resources elsewhere.

We would be far better off if that “elsewhere” did not include trying to stem the sale of drugs that we have made illegal. It has been more than 30 years since the war on drugs was declared. In that time we have spent billions of dollars, watched thousands of young people kill each other, built a dangerous complex of police and prisons, incarcerated hundreds of thousands of people, and made absolutely no progress in solving the drug problem. We still have junkies, we still have gang wars, and drug lords are strong enough to challenge the legitimate government of Mexico. No amount of increased firepower, border surveillance or international cooperation will solve the problem. (The only statistically significant change in drug numbers in recent years is the decline in incarceration of blacks and increase in incarceration of whites. This is because we are focusing our efforts more on meth than crack. Meth is made in the USA, mostly in rural, white communities.)

Today is April 20. The New York Times reports attitudes are changing … at least towards marijuana. College kids are smoking it again, its use is becoming more casual. The Busch administration’s draconian efforts to enforce federal drug limits in the face of California’s medical marijuana law failed and has been largely rescinded by the Obama administration. Several states are considering medical marijuana laws. (And in California everyone who wants a prescription seems to be able to get one.) That right-wing nut job Glenn Beck … a self-styled libertarian… has called for legalization of all drugs. (Even a monkey can hit the right button once in a while.) The trump card may soon be played in California, where legislators, seeking tax revenue, are thinking about taxing marijuana sold by prescription.

That is all well and good, but it is only a small part of the problem. The truth is we can’t control drug use, we can only treat it. Making it criminal only exacerbates the problem. We can solve a lot of problems (the Afghan economy?) by making all drugs legal, taxing them, and letting the public health community handle the consequences.