Actually, it has come up on us pretty quickly. What with the collapse of the US economy from the greed and criminal behavior of those who we foolishly entrusted to act responsibly, we are finding that we no longer can afford to run a perpetual “war on drugs” that only seems to be making things worse.
The cost of prisons and law enforcement is breaking us. Millions of marijuana users have been branded as criminals, served hard time, and found that the system is rigged to keep them from ever putting their lives back together again.
And now it looks like drug cartel violence is spilling over our borders from Mexico.
Why can’t we stop it with interdiction? Because drugs are the ultimate free market commodity. Where there is demand, there will be supply. It turns out that marijuana is the main fuel for the profits of drug cartels.
Now they used to say that we should be providing treatment if we want to cut demand. But the problem with that is that nobody’s really addicted to marijuana, not like cocaine, heroin, or tobacco.
Another problem is that a large number of people who take illegal drugs may be using the drugs to self-medicate for untreated mental health problems. Do you suppose this number might be rising in a bad economy? I think so.
Finally, much of human history has been dominated by the search for better mind-altering drugs. How else would people abuse substances in all countries and cultures, even though some of them are quite dangerous? It’s just human nature.
The “solution” as proposed is quite simple. Legalize and regulate the production and sale of marijuana. Take the importers out of the picture. Tax it like cigarettes or booze. The cartels will dry up as people buy home-grown and switch from illegal hard drugs to marijuana, which is pretty innocuous as far as drugs go.
With the added pressure of a shattered economy, more and more angry men are loadin’ up the guns and goin’ on a rampage. They’re shooting their families, their neighbors, their former co-workers, and a whole bunch of strangers who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
They’re targeting women, minorities, and liberals.
The demagogues on hate radio and television like to think of themselves as being at the forefront of a glorious movement, where gun nuts armed to the teeth will seize power with a few deft and well-coordinated maneuvers and return it to “Real Americans”, whatever they are, and have the country run by a paramilitary fascist force.
The unfortunate fact is that the people with the guns are not tactical military geniuses. They are desperate, close to insolvency and homelessness. They blame everyone but the politicians whose policies are responsible for their misery. For all the endless posting on unmoderated right-wing sites and repeated calls and emails to their Congresspeople, they are small in number, and it is impossible for them to maintain the delusion of ubiquity without seeing an occasional crack in the facade.
Nor are the hate-mongers who are trying to encourage their supporters to arm themselves for the coming insurrection geniuses, although they certainly see themselves as just that. (Hint: If you think you are the only sane person in the country, you are neither.)
Many of the armed warriors believe that the Rapture is imminent. Like Sarah Palin, they may believe that we are in a cosmic struggle between good and evil, between witches and demons on one side and angels on the other, and apparently those angels are carrying semi-automatic weapons.
People like this are literally on a crusade.
Rather than forming “well-regulated militias”, these people will crack one at a time, taking out whoever they can shoot before they are cornered and kill themselves.
I see no difference between this and a guy in Iraq who straps on a bomb, walks down to the market and blows up himself and a dozen others for a political cause and a fast forward into heaven.
The Huffington Post is a great place to look for the sort of news of interest to the left which is ignored by mainstream media. They cover general interest stories, as well as all kinds of political details about Obama appointments that would only interest the most politically-oriented leftists.
They also print blog entries. I’m not sure what it takes to be a blogger there, but there is definitely some kind of screening and approval process that goes on. A lot of them are interesting, but unlike the Daily Kos (where it’s okay to admit you’re a poor, struggling radical), there seem to be quite a few who are…how to put it…self-consciously upper-middle class. Sometimes I wonder how people like that get approved in the first place.
I recall reading one a while back where the author, a woman, blathered on about how any woman who considers herself a feminist should support the $150,000 shopping spree that Sarah Palin helped herself to, because it’s unfair that men’s clothes cost more than women’s (true) and that women are expected to have a larger wardrobe than men (also true), or else they may be savaged by the press. But $150,000? That’s worth twice the value of my house. They could have clothed her for a quarter of that money, and should have, considering how many people are doing without necessities in this economic downturn. Besides, $20,000 was the budget she was given in the first place.
And the writer started in on how Palin had every right to take her kids with her on political junkets they had not been invited to and charge it to the state, and women should support her on this…
Let’s just say that there were no supportive comments and the entry disappeared within a few hours.
But onward. There’s a blog entry by a woman who is reciting her life history as reflected in the Black Friday sales she has attended, and how she is marshaling on despite loss of family members and the depressing economic outlook. Um, brava?
I have to admit that I am prejudiced here. I am, in fact, so un-American that I have never viewed recreational shopping as a virtue, nor shopping like a crazy person when you hate to shop for stuff you don’t need.
There was a post yesterday by Beth Broderick, Poor…it’s the new rich that just totally had me shaking my head. The gist of the article is that upper-middle class people have all these obligations, like mortgages and tuition at pricey exclusive colleges, and their investments have fallen in value. But we’ll do whatever it takes to get by, and by golly, we will make it!
But poor people, they are not weighted down by possessions, they have their spirit, and they have each other, so no matter what happens they are far richer than ‘us’.
Like, excuse me, so if poor people have each other but neither heat nor food, they’ll still be fine? Talk about self-serving, it made me want to puke. Actually, it reminded me of this old Onion article.
Remember when Joe Francis was going to offer Eliot Spitzer’s favorite escort a ton of money to feature in a sleazy video, but he withdrew the offer when it turned out she had participated in one of his “girls gone wild” spring break special parties? He already had all the footage he needed. All he had to do was burn it to a dvd and release it.
Except for a small and inconvenient detail – that she was 17 when she was talked into signing that release form. Now she’s suing him for a cool $10 million.
Go for it, girl. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. You deserve that money a lot more than he does.
When I heard Obama make the original “bitter” remark, I said to myself, “Yeah. People are bitter about how life’s been treating them, especially when the people in power have made all the rules and don’t seem to be suffering a bit.” But then the HRC machine took over and put spin on it, as though the average middle-class and working-class Americans are pleased as punch at how things have been going for them and the country in particular.
Obama had a response for this, which was characterized by his “Annie Oakley” comment in this speech in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania doesn’t even seem to feel that being called “bitter” is some kind of an insult. Story They’re plenty bitter at how things are going, and they’re not in a state of denial.
But here’s another perspective, from a blog posting in the Daily Kos by One Pissed Off Liberal. Do all Americans feel exactly the same way? Nope. Guess what? We are still able to think for ourselves, in spite of the actions of the national propaganda machines that the media have become.
The person who wrote this is not “bitter”, he’s outraged at what this country has become, and what has been perpetrated in our name.
How do I feel? Bitter? A bit. Outraged? We’re getting closer. How about, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take anymore.” Getting closer…
I have been trying to find a hook for this for quite some time. It began with the hearings where Yahoo executives “took responsibility” for handing over the identity of a Chinese dissident to the Chinese government, which promptly locked him up and threw away the key. First the execs apologized—a lot of good an apology does in a case where damage cannot be undone—and then they paid off the relatives of the incarcerated dissidents. But they’re still in jail, ya know?
It wasn’t exactly an overexposed story, but I wanted to weave it into a commentary on insincere apologies, where people “apologize” for something they knew they weren’t supposed to have done in the first place—something I have observed a lot lately. I feel like shaking them by the shirt collar. “You knew you weren’t supposed to do it in the first place, but you did it anyway, and for sure you’ll do it again next time. Saying you’re ‘sorry’ at this point is meaningless. Bogus.”
Anyway, then we moved on to the Scott McLelland book previews. Yet another Republican political insider has left the sinking ship we call the current administration and written a book claiming no responsibility whatever for collaborating with White House lies and crimes. No. It doesn’t work that way. If you had the ability to stand up for what is right and moral at the time—but chose not to—you have no right to assert innocence now.
Now we move on to a bizarre little blog I found called the Mordant Traditionalist. In a little post called “The end of the era of Personal Responsibilty and Accountabilty” the author ascribes to Democrats the end of personal responsiblilty as we know it, completely ignoring that Republicans seem to have been doing more than their share of corrupting and being corrupted during the current administration. Like dogs in a dumpster can full of rotting garbage, they can’t get enough, caught one after another. It boggles the mind.
But amazingly enough, the story linked to has nothing really to do with personal responsibility or Democrats except maybe peripherally. It’s a general story on Congress is considering giving judges the option of relieving oppressive home mortgage terms, in the same way they (apparently) already had the discretion to bail out investors and vacation home owners.
Hmm… We could revisit the subprime mortgage issue. Recall that originally the lending industry was regulated so that people who were not in a position to be able to understand complex financial documents could not be taken advantage of by unscrupulous lenders. It’s called “Lending Responsibility”. That’s where you don’t offer a loan to someone who can’t afford it. And you also don’t do things like offering them a loan that they can afford now, but they clearly won’t be able to afford later. You don’t offer them a crappy deal that you know they won’t be able to afford later instead of the standard fixed-rate mortgage that they actually were qualified for, and then lie about it and tell them it’s the best deal you could find them.
There was no such thing as a “subprime” mortgage until after the lending industry realized it would be a GREAT way to end up owning a lot of property without buying it themselves, and lobbied for regulatory changes that would allow them to use these.
The neocon take on this is, of course, that lenders are free to rip off borrowers however they please, and it’s up to the potential borrower to understand and realize that it’s not a good deal. They would have to hire an accounting firm to see if the paperwork is in order. And probably a private detection firm to see whether the operators are legitimate businessmen, shady characters, or Russian gangsters, I suppose.
It’s the lending industry that has dropped the ball on personal responsibility. It isn’t companies that write bad mortgages and pitch them to financially unsophisticated borrowers. It’s people. People who are hiding behind the names of internet lenders and fly-by-night companies that have crashed our housing market with their unbridled greed. To say that we should bail out corporations who were trying to make windfall profits from the housing markets and not homeowners who were outright lied to and robbed—and now face homelessness—is the nadir of personal morality. The bar is so much lower than it has ever been before, and dropping out of sight fast.
I’m not usually into telemarketer pranks. I used to work for a marketing research company, where we’d call people at home to try them to take surveys or take part in (paid) focus groups. A lot of times people would try to pull stuff on us, and it was dumb, not remotely creative or funny. Then they’d hang up, thinking they’d got the better of us, and we’d be telling the person on either side of us about the moron we just spoke to.
Seriously, of course we called people at home in the evening. That’s when they were home. People would ask for my home phone number so they could “call me during dinner”, and I’d flat out tell them that I didn’t get dinner, I had to work—but they could call me at work. Or I’d give them the phone number for the main switchboard at the local police department.
If somebody was abusive enough, I’d take down their number in reserve, in case I ever wanted to give it to another idiot so the idiots could call and abuse each other. That never actually happened, but it could have. These people didn’t realize that the fact that we had their phone numbers meant that if they pissed off somebody who was really crazy, they were not protected by anonymity.
But anyway, on to the video. I was laughing so hard on this one I could hardly breathe.