Michael Steele Raises Eyebrows, Probably Not Funds (except funds for the Dems)

March 22, 2010

I signed up for the GOP for a laugh, and after the House Dems finally succeeded in passing Healthcare Reform into law tonight, Michael Steele sent out a typically-dishonest, fearmongering fundraiser e-mail in response. Here’s how that makes me feel:
(see below for original e-mail from the RNC)

Dear Mr. Steele,
Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of the Democrats who took a political risk and fought to pass Healthcare Reform on behalf of the American people certainly do reflect our will, and serve our common good. I, and many millions of others, voted the Dems into their majority in both houses of Congress and the White House, and this is just one of the things that they have promised and put effort into making a reality.

Do you remember, Mr. Steele, when you ran for Senate in Maryland? You didn’t get my vote. Do you remember what happened in the 08 election? Read the rest of this entry »

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What’s the difference between Toyotas and Republicans?

February 24, 2010

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Politics is not Public Service

February 23, 2010

if I was a Dem in Congress, I’d gladly risk losing my seat to short-term politics in the process of giving every American citizen a guarantee of decent healthcare. This is easily the biggest opportunity for legislators to serve the common good since the civil rights era, but even with such a chance to do good…it’s just politics as usual on both sides of the aisle. Get your heads out of your asses…we didn’t elect you because you’re Dems, but because we thought you would stand up for the interests of the people and the common good. You’re blowing your majorities and leadership positions. Fuck your elections for now, and do your job. It also happens to be the right thing for the people, and even the GOP knows that.

Politics is not Public Service.

What to Do with the Lime…

June 5, 2009

My friend Pete and I wrote a humorous advice piece about the decision-making process, aftermath, and to-do’s regarding situations when you’re served a drink with a lime:

Problem:
You’re at a bar, and the bartender serves you a drink with a lime. What do you do with it?

Answer:
You’re not alone…
(READ THE FULL ARTICLE: “WHAT TO DO WITH THE LIME…”)

Status…

June 1, 2009

in DC, it’s who you know…but in the end, it’s who you are. don’t give up on one to focus on the other.

What I think Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi should say about torture:

May 14, 2009
I am granting this article an open-source copyright, including free use without attribution.

I believe that Madame Speaker stands strongly and authentically against the practice of torture on an ethical basis, and rejects “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” authorized by the Bush administration because of the potential harm they bring to national security and America’s standing in the world. If I was in a position to advise Pelosi regarding her public statements today, here is what I would suggest saying:

“The interrogation strategies used by the Bush Administration — which turned its back on bipartisan cooperation and collaboration and mocked opposing views as “unpatriotic” — were part of a highly classified set of policies and materials which members of Congress and the House Intelligence Committee were not in a position to expose or comment on publicly — and were not included in the process of deciding and formally approving policy, even in the few cases where we were fully and openly briefed at all. Under Bush Administration policies members of the House Intelligence Committee were simply informed that lawyers in the Department of Justice, hand-picked by Alberto Gonzales to give Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld carte blanche approval for any of their flawed and failed policies, had approved some vague idea of “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.” While we had suspicions that the Bush Administration may indeed have authorized and directed torture in violation of the Geneva Convention, we were never told what, when, to whom, or under which circumstances these illegal interrogation techniques could or would be used.

“Torture, including waterboarding, is inhumane, unethical, illegal, and unacceptable. However even our strongest objections to the policies forced into place by the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld triad could not be made public; because despite our disagreement and abhorrence with the potential for violation of human rights, or even war crimes outlawed in the Geneva Convention, we could not just breech security protocol to rush a debate in order to eliminate any policies that the Administration had put in place which might have opened the door to torture. The interrogation practices in question were entangled with larger strategies and policies that Bush and Cheney claimed were in the interest of Homeland Security and anti-terrorism, and to bring the full content and specifics to public attention would have put the mission and lives of our servicemen and women in the Armed Forces into jeopardy.

“However, within Congressional protocol and federal law regarding classified information, I along with other Democratic leaders and even many concerned Republicans used every avenue open to us to push for the elimination of these practices which are downright un-American. I could not reveal classified information to the public in an argument against the Bush Administration’s policies. However, I consistently stood up and universally rejected the prior administration’s potential use of torture, and have done everything in my power to push these policies into debate so that we may be fully briefed into the actual interrogation practices authorized and–God forbid–used under Bush and Cheney.

“We are doing everything we can to fix the mess Bush and Cheney left America to deal with after the people overwhelmingly rejected the flawed and unethical policies of the last 8 years. Today, President Obama has begun the process of opening up formerly-classified information to our full attention. We must now institute a bipartisan commission to investigate the actual techniques approved practiced by the Bush Administration, and if and when illegal techniques may have been used. The commission must have the latitude and power to make their decision based on complete information, so that it can bring to light exactly who decided, formally authorized, or knew the complete range of interrogation tactics used under the Bush Administration. Once everything is known about the details and extent of ethical and legal violations that may have been committed under the previous administration, it is even possible that we will be able to prosecute those responsible for potential war crimes, if that is what is necessary to bring justice. At this time, however, I can not comment on my opinions regarding prosecution.

“President Obama is also working with us in Congress (not against us the way Bush and Cheney turned their back on the balance of power and the Constitution) to restore our security policies to truly protect the American people, while once again respecting human dignity for people around the world. Doing so will not only make America safer and more secure than we were under Bush/Cheney policies, but will also restore our strength and standing in the international community.”

Meltaway Kiss in Union Station

April 19, 2009

from August, 2005

gardenstateVideo still from the movie Garden State.
CLICK TO PLAYFrou Frou – “Let Go” (opens in new window)

I think the warm welcomes and bittersweet farewells that go down in airports and train stations are some of the most beautiful displays of connectedness and shared feeling that we have to live for. But why should travelers get to have all the fun? Eating lunch every day in Union Station never gets old…the building is magnificent and airy, and filled with the a buzz as people do their thing, mostly minding their own business.

Wouldn’t it be amazing, to meet in the middle of the randomness and chaos and share one of those perfect kisses that let everything else melt away, even if only for a moment? What would happen after we came back to reality? Would it just be kiss and go? Could there be a spark to ignite something more? Or is this too dreamy an idea altogether?

Re: war on drugs and other minor issues

April 16, 2009

I posted the following comments on our Stanford Alumni e-mail network, adding my thoughts to an ongoing discussion on some of the big issues facing the nation and the world (as well as a few small issues facing the e-mail network itself)

It should be mentioned specifically that different substances can be considered and treated differently in a reformed drug policy.

Some call for legalization or decriminalization of marijuana and other natural, unrefined substances such as mushrooms. Both of these substances are far less addictive than nicotine, cocaine, heroin, and other “hard” drugs. However the delineation based on a substance being natural vs. processed or refined does not always take into account the consequences or damage of particular drugs such as Opium, which can be highly addictive and very dangerous.

One line of thought is to decriminalize all drugs for the sake of reducing the demand for unregulated dealing and trafficking, thereby helping to curb organized crime. Decriminalization would also reduce the cost to our society of imprisoning offenders (especially in the cases of consumption or possession), and allow for a way to provide substance abuse treatment without stigma.

Others suggest treating different substances in different ways, according to the harm of use. Some substances could be legalized, others decriminalized to provide social services to curb use, and a few could remain completely illegal (perhaps drugs that are used as part of violent acts such as date-rape drugs).

Particularly with marijuana it is nearly impossible to die from an overdose, the effects of intoxication are not as severe as those of alcohol in most cases, and there are proven medicinal benefits (especially if you factor in the so-called benefits of legal psychoactive pharmaceuticals such as antidepressants, even “feeling good” is a relative benefit). And being widely grown across the country, regulated and taxed trade would generate tremendous revenues.

There are complicating issues, such as the difficulty in testing for intoxication. For example, a person involved in a car accident may have been impaired due to having smoked just before getting into the car. Or the driver could have been completely alert, attentive, and sober at the time, but may have smoked at some point a month earlier. Both drivers could test positive for THC in their body, but there is currently no fast and affordable way to see which driver was under the influence at the time of the accident and which was driving responsibly. Still, the behavioral impairment of marijuana use is likely testable in the field — just like walking a straight line or counting backwards, an officer could perform some sort of screening in the field. And unlike alcohol, where people get drunker and drunker (toward the point of unconsciousness) the more they drink, people just get high and stay there on marijuana rather than getting higher and higher. The high for some people may impair them to the point where they absolutely could not drive safely, and for others they may actually be more focused on the road under the influence. At any rate, it should not be society’s decision to exert over the individual, since there are so many analogs between marijuana and legal (not to mention profitable) substances such as alcohol, tobacco, alprazolam, zolpidem tartrate (look them up…the SOLAR spam filter thinks I’m some kind of internet pharmacist spammer), etc.

Concluding, this isn’t intended as a well-organized argument…just some thoughts. But I am convinced that our current drug policy, enforcement, and cultural stigmatization of drugs need to change to reflect the actual effects of drugs, both positive and negative, rather than discriminatory gut reactions and intentional marginalization (see Nixon) of individuals and communities who use these substances. Or worse yet, plain legislation for corrupt political ends — for example favoring the pharma lobby over the drug reform interests (not to mention the paper and textile industries which felt threatened by hemp fibers), or criminalizing substances out of Jim Crow era hatred toward the minorities who were associated with the use of certain drugs.

This is a complex issue that needs a balanced solution that respects individual health, choice, privacy, and liberty as well as the stability of society. That, I hope we can all agree on.

Jim Cramer Interview Uncensored on The Daily Show

March 13, 2009

Jon Stewart: “I understand you wanna make finance entertaining…but it’s not a fuckin’ game.”

(part 1 of 3 – the other segments will automatically load and play after the first clip is completed)





Bang Bang – Anyone else in the world… (my random, internet-generated band/album!)

March 9, 2009

bang-bang-anyone-else-in-the-world

Here’s what you do:

1 – Go to Wikipedia’s “random” page:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random

The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

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