The Republican Administration’s Shift On Cannabis Is A Gift To Private Prisons, And Worse.

If you have been following the news of late, you may have noticed that the Republican administration has hinted that federal law enforcement officials may no longer defer to the states on marijuana use.  source  While some states in the US have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, possession and distribution remains a federal crime.

A natural initial reaction to this is to cry foul over the hypocrisy regarding the administrations position on state’s rights.  After all, state’s rights were cited as an explanation of the executive order rescinding bathroom rules applying to transgender students.  In reality, I am pretty sure that state’s rights were not a consideration in either case.

The executive order on transgender bathroom use was a debt owed to the social conservatives and Mike Pence.

The potential change to marijuana policy scratches a couple of other itches, mostly having to do with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions has long been critical of marijuana use, having gone so far as to say “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”  source  In my opinion, however, Sessions personal view is not even the real reason for the potential change in policy.

The current administration has also rescinded the Obama era executive order aimed at reducing the federal government’s involvement with private prison contractors.  source  The president has been friendly with the private prison industry and even before the recent executive order, the industry has seen rising stock values, post election.  source  Deciding to prosecute cannabis users more aggressively will immediately create more criminals out of whole cloth, likely benefiting private prison contractors.

Perhaps even more sinister, especially considering Sessions’ history with voting rights(source), is the fact that enforcement of marijuana laws is a path to voter suppression.   While felony possession amounts vary by state, repeat offenders for possession can be charged with a felony under federal law, resulting in disenfranchisement.

If you want to do a little more reading on your own, I suggest looking at what states have legalized marijuana and which candidate they voted for in the last election.

The Dark, Republican America Is Not The Real America

There has been a lot of talk of late about an essay by Michael Anton called The Flight 93 Election.

A recent article at The Intercept makes the case that the essay is essentially the basis for Trumpism.

The essay is dark and, one can argue, racist.  It attacks the Black Lives Matter movement and raises the spectre of immigration.

One part of the Intercept’s article that struck me echoed something I was thinking a few days ago.

I quote:   “In his inaugural address, Trump used the phrase “American carnage” to describe the way things are now. Trump was wrong about the state of our nation, which is not a wasteland from coast to coast. But if Anton’s deadly Flight 93 vision comes true, carnage may well describe our future.”source

There are indeed serious problems in the US and there always have been.  Many live in poverty, both in cities and rural areas.  Many suffer from opioid addiction.  Health care is expensive and the ACA isn’t perfect.  I could go on, but the issue here is not the problems themselves, but the response.

Almost none of the reasons cited by the current Republican administration for the nation’s woes are true.  They say crime is on the rise because of the actions of illegal immigrants when statistics show that crime is much lower now than in many decades past and that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born here.source

They try to turn poor and middle class whites against African-Americans when, ultimately, they should share a common cause.

They enact policies on immigration that could have disastrous effects on the economy.   There are tons of doctors in the US who were not born here, in many cases serving areas that are in need.  source

There are also many scientists in the US from countries affected by the recent travel ban.source

The American agriculture industry also depends heavily on the work of immigrants.   There could be significant disruption of the farm industry if the current administration has it’s way.source

If Trump voters or the administration think that these jobs should strictly be done by people born here, a lot of changes would have to occur.   As for the science and medical jobs, we would need a better path to college for all citizens without the risk of crippling student loan debt.

If Americans are going to do all the seasonal farm work, food prices will have to rise dramatically.

At any rate, none of the “good jobs” (basically shorthand for factory/manufacturing work) promised by the Republican administration to it’s base are affected in any way by the people the administration seeks to demonize.

The base’s support of the administration will, sadly, get them nothing.  It won’t get them health care and it won’t get them jobs.  It won’t stop automation from marching on beyond where it is now, taking even more blue collar jobs.

Much of this article is an aside from my original thought.

I was out and about in my neighborhood this weekend.  I live in a working/middle class neighborhood that is mostly white, but has significant Mexican, Middle Eastern and African American populations.

I couldn’t help but think as I walked along the main business street that the country I see is not the one that the Republican administration sees.  The Mexican grocery store on this street had previously been a vacant storefront.  Now, it is a lynchpin of the neighborhood.  The Middle Eastern grocery nearby has been here for decades.  They are mixed in with traditional bakeries, bars, barbershops and a host of other small businesses.  It is a safe neighborhood and I am glad to live here.  I do not feel fear walking down the street.  The only crime I have experienced is when the white guy next door got in a fight with his girlfriend and holed himself up (purportedly with a gun), prompting the SWAT team to get involved.

My job takes me to many rural areas of the state where I live.  Almost all of these rural areas now have Mexican restaurants.

Does anyone really think that my neighborhood or these small towns would be better off without these businesses?

The Republican administration is lying to you.  Use your own eyes, ears and brain.

I strongly urge you to watch this US made 1947 short film on the subject of falling for fascism. It’s just as relevant now.

M

What You Can Personally Do About The Environment When Lunatics Run The Asylum

It is no secret that Republicans, both in the White House and in Congress, frequently take positions on climate change and pollution that fly in the face of widely accepted science.  This is especially baffling for those who are from states with a coastline whose cities could someday be direly affected.  See Marco Rubio, for example.

Right now, and for the foreseeable future, we find ourselves in a henhouse guarded by foxes.  What is to be done?

All of the things that harm the environment and drive climate change are the result of behaviors by the population of the world at large, especially those in developed countries.

If people are serious about stopping climate change, there are many behaviors that can be modified to reduce pollution and greenhouse gases.  The more people who do these things, the better off we all are.  Some searching on the internet reveals  a host of articles on what individuals can do.

Think about your water use and try to cut down, especially when brushing teeth or shaving.

Think hard about where you set your thermostat, especially when not at home.

Change the furnace filter regularly.

Don’t drink bottled water, or soda for that matter.  Use a refillable water bottle.

Do not buy  coffee machines that use those stupid little sealed plastic cups.

Don’t eat meat, or cut WAAAYYY back on your meat consumption.   A huge amount of resources goes into and a lot of greenhouse gas emissions results from the production of meat as food.  If you must have meat multiple times a day or week, consider hunting.

If you live where you can walk or ride a bike for errands, do it. Also, plan your shopping so you don’t have to do as much running around.  Just think about the inefficiency of moving the entire weight of a car along with yourself to buy one or two things.

Don’t buy so much disposable junk.  Use what you buy until it wears out.

These are just off the top of my head.  You can find more ideas in minutes by searching the internet.

 

The Case For Non Violent Protest

Despite the chaos and uncertainty of the last couple of weeks, there have been moments of  brightness and inspiration.  The women’s marches, the airport protest and the Yemeni bodega strike have shown that people can protest massively and peacefully.

There have been a few instances where a few wrongheaded protesters violently shoot the cause in the foot and play right into the hands of those who may want to crush them.

I am talking, of course, about protests that turned violent at UC Berkeley and also in DC on the day of the inauguration.

While some may take vicarious pleasure in these actions, they have done nothing to further the cause of freedom or justice and have perhaps only emboldened the enemies of these things.  I can’t think of a single redeeming thing to say about the person who was set to speak at UC Berkeley, and I don’t have a problem with anyone peacefully protesting his appearance, but the violence that erupted only gives him and his allies ammunition.

I will conclude with a couple of links that make the same point and  a picture.

Keep a cool head, no matter what.

 

Civil Resistance and the 3.5% Rule

Milo Yiannopoulos Feeds on Your Violent Protests. So Does Donald Trump.

Berkeley protesters just fell into the most obvious trap imaginable. Again

 

no break.jpg

Anti-Milo UC Berkeley Protests

Last night a peaceful protest turned violent at UC Berkely.source

 

I have two thoughts on this and the fallout from it.

One,  there was no need for the protests to turn violent and the fact that they did so is ultimately counter productive.  I think it is quite possible that peaceful protests would get the message to the university.   The violence gives the other side more ammunition in their hateful crusade.  Also, there has been an article circulating of late (though written in 2013) that makes the case that non violent protest is actually more effective in forcing change.source

 

My second thought is to look at what Trump said about the whole thing and point out his errors, which should be pointed out to everyone.  He made threats to UC Berkeley almost as if they were responsible for the violence.  It was actually their property that was harmed by the bad acting protestors who broke with the peaceful ones.  In the article that was the source for my first paragraph, Trump says that Berkeley “practices violence on innocent people” when, once again, it was Berkeley whose property was damaged.

 

To sum up, similar to how someone phrased it on FB:

 

UCB allows MY to come speak=protected free speech

peaceful protest=protected free speech

violent protest=not protected free speech

what Trump said=free speech, but muddled as hell and making no sense, seems to indicate he doesn’t actually understand what happened

It’s Not Just The Left, Some Conservative Perspectives To Show Your Trump Supporting Friends

This is a time of strange bedfellows.  Yes, Democrats are pretty much 100% in opposition to about anything the President does, but they are not the only ones.  While I certainly don’t agree with everything the following folks have to say all of the time, all of the following articles are written by folks who are solidly conservative or libertarian and who also oppose Trump, or much of what he stands for.

It’s also good to read this stuff and get out of your bubble.

 

Jennifer Rubin is a staunch conservative who writes a blog for the Washington Post called Right Turn.

Here is a series of her posts, many of which take Trump to task or Republicans who abandon their principles to fall in line.

 

It’s hard to find a  website or magazine more traditionally conservative than The American Conservative, founded by Pat Buchanan.  Here are four recent articles that are quite critical of the new administration.

Conservatism After Trump

Trump/Australia Pointless Quarrel

Dangerous Obsession With Iran

Essay About The Travel Ban

 

Evan McMullin, former CIA agent and presidential candidate has always been critical of Trump.  Here is some of what he has to say:

On The Executive Order

On Russia

 

The following editorial is written by someone I agree with on almost nothing at all, yet he comes out against the travel ban and other Trump related issues.

Trump Bubble Bursts

 

 

Three Articles To Read About Mexico And Trump’s Claims

I’ve been very tied up with work lately and have not had much time to write new posts.

 

Here are three articles dealing with Mexico and the (false) claims made by the President to justify his policies.

 

I want to point out that the first link is not even from a liberal site, but one that skews solidly libertarian/conservative.  The second is from the non-partisan Pew Research center.  The third is from Politifact.  They have been accused of being partisan, but University of Minnesota political science professor Eric Ostermeier did an analysis of 511 selected PolitiFact stories issued from January 2010 through January 2011, stating that “PolitiFact has generally devoted an equal amount of time analyzing Republicans (191 statements, 50.4 percent) as they have Democrats (179 stories, 47.2 percent)”.

 

anyway, the three links:

 

Trump’s Great Wall Will Be Costly and Useless and Mexico Won’t Pay For It

Chapter 1: Migration Flows Between the U.S. and Mexico Have Slowed – and Turned Toward Mexico

 

Trump immigration claim has no data to back it up