One Small Thing I’m Doing

I now use remanufactured ink cartridges, and buy used instead of new for furniture and other matters.


Emoprogs, Obama and Pot-Tilting at Windmills

free the weed

Marijuana legalization is really for everyone, but the way the emoprogs carry on about it? It’s no wonder pot hasn’t been legalized yet. Slamming someone otherwise liberal pols for their reluctance to legalize now? Calling Obama a tyriant on civil liberties? Demanding immediate legalization? Never mind politics, Obama must legalize now-or he’s a tyrant who hates young people and civil liberties. Never mind the Republican Congress-Obama must sacrifice his re-election by saying he supports pot legalization. And because he won’t take on this issue-he’s a tyrant. Emoprogs…….To this observer, it sounds so much like what happened with DADT. The hysteria, the threats.

Gay people have been smarter-and therefore more successful. They became Democrats (for the most part), registered voters, became activists supporting other parts of the party, became elected officials (Harvey Milk was a Democrat). The result was that gay people had political allies who were willing to stick their neck out for their causes. The same thing was true with black people we joined the Democrats, worked hard to elect other Democrats, worked in and around the party. The result was the CRA of 1964, the Martin Luther King holiday, and so much more, including Obama. Sometimes that meant supporting some people who could be less than enthusiastic, a lot of patience, and a lot of work. If folks want pot legal, they will have to go the same way instead of listening to the emoprogs like GG and others, and stop flirting with libertarians and Republican cranks who cannot get elected or even persuade members of their own party to change the laws. They have to stop assuming bad faith on the part of the Democrats and naively believing that witholding their vote will get things changed by a Republican President who their votes will elect. A Republican who is beholden to the religious right wing conservatives who believe pot smoking is a sin..oh yeah, they’ll legalize pot.

And note, none of these would involve the embrace of an elderly crank with a cult-like following and a refusal to embrace political reality. Nor will it be through the efforts of an embittered liberal blogger who takes out his meanness on female Obama supporters:


angry black lady

Perhaps that’s part of the rage. They feel that Democrats are in their way-Democrats refuse to throw over their nominee for the cause du jour. Democrats insist that throwing over the safety net isn’t worth legalizing pot. Democrats want to be elected more than actually saying they want to legalize pot. Neve mind the Republicans who won’t even listen to Ron Paul, don’t even consider reform, but no bitterness is directed to them.

Who’s to say that Obama might not try something in a second term, when he would no longer would have to face the voters ? Some things require a political space where there’s less room for demogoguery and more analysis. Pot is one of them-an issue that requires thought instead of emotion. Such an approach would be just the thing for Obama, who prefers a cool, methodical approach.

And what would an Obama approach look like?

  1. Scientific evaluation
  2. Repurposing the DEA for other drugs
  3. Working with the states to coordinate regulations
  4. A clear message that pot is for adults
  5. Working towards consensus within the medical community

But first, he has to have a second term. And bypass the emoprogs.

Green Things You Can Do With Post-Christmas

How to cut down on holiday waste now that the holiday is over? A few tips:


  1. Did you get a gift you didn’t want? Freecycle that item. Freecycle is an exchange where you can post online the things you are giving away, and someone who needs the item takes it from you. From a person who has done it for about 4 years, freecycling is the easiest, and often quickest, way to get rid of unwanted things. One man’s gift is another man’s treasure. And unlike regifting, that item won’t come back to haunt you later.
  2. Save that Xmas stuff-and do what I did this year, and purchase a few extra cards and bulbs from the Salvation Army, et all. You will be surprised at what you find with a little searching around-perhaps enough for next year maybe?
  3. Leftovers taste good with a little bit of seasoning and creative re-working. Turkey Soup, Ham and Beans, the last of the fruitcake are great ways of stretching a budget and extending the holiday a little.
  4. Some places recycle used Christmas trees for mulch.
  5. Christmas lights blown out? This is a perfect time to get those energy efficient LED strands. The price is coming down tremendously, and the energy savings is phenomenal. I have one strand already, and I plan to replace my incandescents the minute they burn out. I’ve found the colors wonderful, and the fact that they won’t catch fire easily also a plus.

Ron Paul, Racism and Pot

Am I the only person who has believed that the embrace of heartless “libertarians”, now revealed as racists, has long hurt the cause of legalization? People who are already terrified that legal pot may lead to the abandoning of families and other domestic ills are hardly going to be convinced by a let-them-suffer and die philosophy.

In addition, the embrace of Ron Paul and Gary Johnson because of pot legalization and ignoring the rest of their odious positions alienates Democrats and Republicans alike. Pot is important, but so is Social Security, Civil Rights, the right to choose, help in hard times and the like. For his fellow Republicans, national security is also important-he’s an isolationist who ignores the fact that a country of 300 million has to be involved whether they like it or not. We have real enemies to deal with and real alliances we have to uphold. Ron arrogantly dismisses those concerns at best or considers them an obstacle to true freedom-a freedom that only certain people can really enjoy.

How can these people be so blind to the fact that he’s ineffective at best-he can’t convince fellow politicians to work with him because they would be tarred with his racist, heartless, conspiracy mongering? And that’s on the right. Democrats certanly can’t work with him either, so what can he do? If by some disaster he were to become President, that same arrogance would make it impossible to persuade Congress to put their careers on the line and pass a legalization bill.

Fortunately, we will never find out.

Bad Politics and Cannabis Legalization

I’ve never really understood why people who want cannabis legal think that embracing Ron Paul or Gary Johnson was good for the movement. Both men may say the right words on pot, but their positions on just about everything else are at best polarizing, and they are unable to persude their fellow Republicans to help them in this position. Not only that, but the Paulian/Johnson axis also leads to paranoia and unrealistic conspiracy mongering. Either the opposition is part and parcel of the vast conspiracy against the good, or they are ignorant sheep that follow blindly their political leaders instead of thinking like “good, true” believers.

Why is pot still illegal? Like other bad ideas, I doubt it’s conspiracy. I think it is, like other bad policies, a combination of inertia and fear. Cannabis has been illegal for so long that too many can’t concieve of it being otherwise. The fear is that there would be mass intoxication. There was no mass intoxication when pot was legal a century ago-even Harry Anslinger says in a backwards way that much, and America was barely dented by the practice. But for politicians, it’s easier to keep mouthing the words than to risk (what they fear they risk) being called the equivalent of a drug pusher by fearful suburban moms. Or so they think. Breaking that spell of fear is what good organizing will do.


So why not take a different tact, and try to do it the Alinsky way and organize? Organizing would be reaching out to churches, women and other groups who are now dubious about legalization and seeing if people can be informed and minds changed. With such changes, it may be possible to influence legislatures to do the right thing without relying on single politicians to do this.

I Have A Blog Complex…

While this site has existed in one form than another for about 10 years, the decision to create this blog complex is about two. I got the idea from Nancy’s Starlight News in a way. I participate there a lot, and there are wonderful writers and wonderful commenters there. I started thinking also about Daily Kos and how it was able to create a real portal. I wanted something where I could get up in the morning and join in or contribute and enjoy the contributions of others. So instead of looking around anymore, I’ve created my own portal!



So look around. You just need to comment for now, but soon you’ll need to be a registered member of disqus to comment. Disqus makes it easy to comment on any blog without a lot of logins needed, and is less balky than the wordpress interface. So you don’t need to register here to comment. The registration is really going to be for co-authors eventually.


I Have A Blog Complex…

While this site has existed in one form than another for about 10 years, the decision to create this blog complex is about two. I got the idea from Nancy’s Starlight News in a way. I participate there a lot, and there are wonderful writers and wonderful commenters there. I started thinking also about Daily Kos and how it was able to create a real portal. I wanted something where I could get up in the morning and join in or contribute and enjoy the contributions of others. So instead of looking around anymore, I’ve created my own portal!



So look around. You just need to comment for now, but soon you’ll need to be a registered member of disqus to comment. Disqus makes it easy to comment on any blog without a lot of logins needed, and is less balky than the wordpress interface. So you don’t need to register here to comment. The registration is really going to be for co-authors eventually.


The Fountains at Ground Zero (The Element of Water)

The project is called “Reflecting Absence”. Water, with its endless capacity to soothe and muffle street sounds, will create a tranquil counterpoint to the street sounds.

The immense two fountains at the new World Trade Center created out of the footprints of the old towers, filled with endlessly flowing water, is the Element of Water. Two 208′ by 208′ waterfalls will endlessly run down into a center square at the bottom in (at night) an illuminated stream. It uses a massive amount of water-56,000 gallons a minute per waterfall, making it the largest fountains in the United States, if not one of the largest in the world. It may be the biggest headstone in the world, with 2.749 names on the bronze plaques surrounding the two fountains. The names are grouped by “affinity”-coworkers who were close to each other working in the same company that was grouped by being in the same building, seat mates on the plane close to relatives and friends who were on the same flight. Doing that means you have to ask the question over and over, “who were these people” and “what relationship did they have to each other”. As long as people ask,then the dead will never be forgotten.

Some may criticize the falls because it leaves a void instead of more towers, but I like the simple elegance of the design-unpretentious, egalitarian, poignant. It’s made for a cloudy day in winter when the skies are gray and overhung, the wind blowing across the now barren plaza.

I also think this is the best thing for the original footprints. Those who suggested rebuilding on the old footprints forget that many people would have felt like they were building on the bones of the dead and there would have been a much greater reluctance to actually occupy those buildings. Life can go on more smoothly in a relocated Freedom Tower where nobody died.

The Core of the Argument About Legalization

Sometimes I think that legalizers, trying to find the right arguments regarding cannabis sometimes lack focus. Sometimes the argument is about harmlessness, or health, or the futility of the drug war. However, guns, poisons, explosives, and radiation are routinely handled, even though they are lethal. No attempt is made to outlaw these substances on the grounds that they are far too dangerous to handle.

We trust that adults can assess the risks, and with education and safety precautions, minimize the dangerous effects. At the very least, we argue that adults should at least have the right of possession if those things are needed and if they comply with laws regarding safe use.

And arguing that the drug war is futile oftentimes leads to the argument that maybe we need to improve implementation, or hire better cops, or simply redouble our efforts at reinforcement, instead of abandoning the effort altogether. The argument becomes, “well, we need better police, or better policing-and maybe if the penalties are harsh enough, things will stop.” The real question should be “why are we using the cops at all?” What is it about cannabis that justifies the effort in the first place?” With other crimes, there is at least a complaining victim-someone who is actually suffering because of the crime to justify the effort.  There is no victim here-and even here,  in the area of victimless crimes-usually called vice-the penalties are far out of proportion to other such crimes.

The bottom line is this: why is it necessary to imprison people for cannabis? Dangerousness is not enough: we trust adults, well-informed, to handle guns and poisons in the privacy of their own homes. Health isn’t enough: cigarettes, alcohol and prescription drugs kill many by accident or intent every year. Indeed, the margin between lethal and safe for alcohol and many prescription drugs-not to mention the combination of the two-is often small. Many prescription drugs are highly addictive as well. But we only police around the edges on those substances-no driving while using, no smoking cigarettes in areas where people who are vulnerable and unable to leave. The “no medical benefits” issue is also dubious-there are many substances sold over and under the counter that have only folklore to recommend them-but those are legal to sell and to own as well.

Given this, the bottom line to ask prohibitionists is why prison is the only answer with cannabis? Why is it necessary that there are criminal penalties for adults, and why billions of tax dollars need to be spent making them criminals?

Why can’t cannabis be treated like alcohol and cigarettes, legal for adults? Why can’t cannabis be regulated like guns, or handled in stores like supplements, placed behind the counter if necessary?

That’s the bottom line: prohibitionists should be made to justify the massive efforts here to criminalize, not the legalizers regarding harm or medical benefits. We know how to handle dangers without locking people up, why are these approaches not enough for cannabis?

Carter has it right….

June 16, 2011
Call Off the Global Drug War

IN an extraordinary new initiative announced earlier this month, the Global Commission on Drug Policy has made some courageous and profoundly important recommendations in a report on how to bring more effective control over the illicit drug trade. The commission includes the former presidents or prime ministers of five countries, a former secretary general of the United Nations, human rights leaders, and business and government leaders, including Richard Branson, George P. Shultz and Paul A. Volcker.

The report describes the total failure of the present global antidrug effort, and in particular America’s “war on drugs,” which was declared 40 years ago today. It notes that the global consumption of opiates has increased 34.5 percent, cocaine 27 percent and cannabis 8.5 percent from 1998 to 2008. Its primary recommendations are to substitute treatment for imprisonment for people who use drugs but do no harm to others, and to concentrate more coordinated international effort on combating violent criminal organizations rather than nonviolent, low-level offenders.

These recommendations are compatible with United States drug policy from three decades ago. In a message to Congress in 1977, I said the country should decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, with a full program of treatment for addicts. I also cautioned against filling our prisons with young people who were no threat to society, and summarized by saying: “Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.”

These ideas were widely accepted at the time. But in the 1980s President Ronald Reagan and Congress began to shift from balanced drug policies, including the treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, toward futile efforts to control drug imports from foreign countries.

This approach entailed an enormous expenditure of resources and the dependence on police and military forces to reduce the foreign cultivation of marijuana, coca and opium poppy and the production of cocaine and heroin. One result has been a terrible escalation in drug-related violence, corruption and gross violations of human rights in a growing number of Latin American countries.

The commission’s facts and arguments are persuasive. It recommends that governments be encouraged to experiment “with models of legal regulation of drugs … that are designed to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.” For effective examples, they can look to policies that have shown promising results in Europe, Australia and other places.

But they probably won’t turn to the United States for advice. Drug policies here are more punitive and counterproductive than in other democracies, and have brought about an explosion in prison populations. At the end of 1980, just before I left office, 500,000 people were incarcerated in America; at the end of 2009 the number was nearly 2.3 million. There are 743 people in prison for every 100,000 Americans, a higher portion than in any other country and seven times as great as in Europe. Some 7.2 million people are either in prison or on probation or parole — more than 3 percent of all American adults!

Some of this increase has been caused by mandatory minimum sentencing and “three strikes you’re out” laws. But about three-quarters of new admissions to state prisons are for nonviolent crimes. And the single greatest cause of prison population growth has been the war on drugs, with the number of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses increasing more than twelvefold since 1980.

Not only has this excessive punishment destroyed the lives of millions of young people and their families (disproportionately minorities), but it is wreaking havoc on state and local budgets. Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pointed out that, in 1980, 10 percent of his state’s budget went to higher education and 3 percent to prisons; in 2010, almost 11 percent went to prisons and only 7.5 percent to higher education.

Maybe the increased tax burden on wealthy citizens necessary to pay for the war on drugs will help to bring about a reform of America’s drug policies. At least the recommendations of the Global Commission will give some cover to political leaders who wish to do what is right.

A few years ago I worked side by side for four months with a group of prison inmates, who were learning the building trade, to renovate some public buildings in my hometown of Plains, Ga. They were intelligent and dedicated young men, each preparing for a productive life after the completion of his sentence. More than half of them were in prison for drug-related crimes, and would have been better off in college or trade school.

To help such men remain valuable members of society, and to make drug policies more humane and more effective, the American government should support and enact the reforms laid out by the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

Jimmy Carter, the 39th president, is the founder of the Carter Center and the winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.