Sunday, October 10, 2010

Up In Smoke

You can never know what the future holds, but you can get a pretty darned good idea if you read enough history and keep your eyes open. Society as we know it is about to change, and with it some things are going to happen for the first time in American history. The indicators are there, but what they mean is open to interpretation. For example, California is starving and their government has shown its ability to be creative. Hello, Proposition 19. Not only has it started to gain momentum, it has started other states thinking about the same. What will happen when pot becomes legal? Forget about the fine line between decriminalization and fully legal, it's just a matter of time.

As more states sink into debt, they may be a little more inclined to listen to the people, who are willing to pay for their pot even if the utilities go off or the fridge is empty. As people begin to buckle under long-term stress, they will look for relief where they can find it. The raging success of drugs like K2 show that people will go to great lengths to pass a drug test while getting what they want. By golly, slap some sales tax on that and you have a thriving business. Legalizing pot won't put California in the black, but it might keep enough money flowing to save a few programs that are keeping people in their homes and fed. If they make a successful run of it, other states will follow.

One last thought. Has anyone considered how the dealers are going to react? I'm just saying, if Prohibition taught us anything, it's that we don't screw around with the guys that have all the money and machine guns. Much like our millionaire families of today are often descended from liquor runners, one has to wonder what effect this will have on the next generation's Capone. It might weaken gangs and free up the legal system. It could backfire and make things worse. For better or worse, the war on drugs will be forever changed.

Food for thought. Or maybe that's just the munchies kicking in.


The Consequences Of Hatred

This story out of NYC is as heartbreaking as it is infuriating.

An eighth suspect has been arrested in a series of brutal, anti-gay hate crimes against four men, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced Saturday, leaving one last suspect at large.

"When you hear the details of what occurred, torture really is the only word that comes to mind," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a Saturday press conference with Kelly.

The incident involved three victims being held against their will by as many as nine assailants who beat them in a vacant apartment and sodomized two of them, Kelly said Friday. A fourth victim was beaten and robbed in connection with the attacks, Kelly said.

The string of attacks, which occurred Sunday, began when members of a street gang calling themselves the Latin King Goonies learned that an aspiring member is gay, authorities said.

"I was sickened by the brutal nature of these crimes and saddened at the anti-gay bias that contributed to them," Bloomberg said Saturday. "Hate crimes such as these strike fear into all of us."

The details are accounted in clinical, almost antiseptic detail, but it's clear that this was motivated by homophobia so virulent that it resulted in this hideous beating of four people.  Cigarette burns, chain lashings, beatings with a baseball bat, and much worse.

The real outrage is that while this is sickening, we've allowed worse to happen to folks in Gitmo and in renditions around the globe.  When criminals do this, it's rightfully a crime.  When the state does it, it's national security.

Something to remember.

Karl Rove's Hurt Fee-Fees

Fresh off mounting allegations that Karl Rove and his Crossroads Super-PAC are, you know, pouring millions of dollars into elections without any oversight whatsoever, ol' Karl takes a dive on the turf and hopes the Village refs call Obama for the foul over this DNC ad.

CNN is more than happy to oblige.

"Have these people no shame?" Rove said of the attacks leveled at him and the Chamber. "Does the president of the United States have such little regard for the office he holds that he goes out there and makes these kind of baseless charges against his political enemies? This is just beyond the pale. How dare the president do this?"

“This is a desperate and I think disturbing trend by the president of the United States to tar his political adversaries with some kind of enemies list, with being unrestrained by any facts or evidence whatsoever."

Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation, Gillespie also responded to the charges leveled against him and Rove in the new DNC ad.

“Karl Rove and I don't run American Crossroads. We're fully supportive of it. I've helped to raise money for it. I encouraged it to come together because I think we need something like that on the conservative side because there's so much money on the liberal side. You know, $400 million was spent in 2008 to help elect Barack Obama.” 

Obama has an enemies list!  Creeping Sharia law!  Booga booga booga!  In the words of Sarah Palin, "How much do we really know about Barack Hussein Obama?"

More than we do about Crossroads and its donors.  Those poor Republicans, complaining about the money know, despite Republicans outspending the Democrats 7-1 here thanks to groups like Crossroads.  Karl Rove clutches his pearls, goes straight for the fainting couch, and the Village buys it wholesale anyway. 

Rove still knows how to play the game.  Now the issue isn't anonymous donors or foreign money going to the Chamber of Commerce, but how the mean black man hurt Karl Rove's feelings.


Jacking Up Rand, Part 2

New poll this weekend has Rand Paul's lead cut to 4 points.

A new Braun Research as in Kentucky finds Rand Paul (R) with a four point lead over Jack Conway (D) in the U.S. Senate race among likely voters, 43.4% to 39.5%. 

An impressive number of people still undecided, too...enough to swing this race.  Rand Paul's $2,000 Medicare deductible statement is already hurting him badly.

Same polling outfit here had Paul up by 5 last month.  This continues to be a close race, but Conway is gaining.  Interesting breakdown:

Here’s how the race looks in each congressional district, according to the poll:
  • 1st District: Paul 41% to Conway 36%
  • 2nd District: Paul 47% to Conway 38%
  • 3rd District: Conway 55% to Paul 33%
  • 4th District: Paul 38% to Conway 25%
  • 5th District: Conway 44% to Paul 38%
  • 6th District: Paul 49% to Conway 37%
    So here where I am in the NKY's 4th, there are still a lot of undecideds (37%!) which is why you've seen both candidates up in this area a lot.  Rand Paul is now losing in the Appalachian 5th on the east side of the state too.  That's got to be a direct result of Paul's comments on the area's meth epidemic.  Conway is winning in the urban 3rd around Louisville handily, but Paul is doing very well in the center of the state, the 2nd and 6th.  The western 1st is close.  Pretty sure the 4th and 1st are going to decide this one (feel free to weigh in here on this one, Yellow Dog!)

    This is going to come down to wire.  Note also that Obama has a massive problem here in the state (60% disapproval) and the state as a whole is coming in at R+10.  That's how much of a problem Rand Paul has.  He can dredge up all the Obama Derangement Syndrome he wants to, but in the end it's his own words he's having to do battle against.

    Zandar's Thought Of The Day

    To save you some time and to keep you from hurting your hand when you punch your monitor over the NY Times' three page tribute to Pamela Geller, here's everything you need to know about her:

    1. She has an irrational hatred of Muslims.
    2. She has an irrational hatred of anyone who does not possess the same irrational hatred of Muslims that she has.
    3. That's pretty much it.

    Just looking out for you guys.

    PS, if you have any doubts about the paper sucking up to the Wingers now because the Times believes they are going to be "running things" in the blogosphere after the election (whether that's true or not, it doesn't matter) the same NY Times has Ann Coulter trying to "reinvent" herself today as well.

    The best part is the Times won't be able to attack the lefty blogs fast enough, either.

    Great job, liberal media.

    [UPDATE]  Thanks to DougJ at Balloon Juice for the mention, and as Betty Cracker points out in the comments, Pammy is already attacking  the piece:

    As expected, the New York Times did an extraordinarily nasty and fallacious piece on me. It is full of distortions, inaccuracies and lies from beginning to end.

    This of course completely assures both that Geller gets to keep her hard-core winger hate the media cred, and that the NY Times will keep devoting articles to the "balanced view" that softening her rampant Islamophobia and passing her off as a "concerned citizen" is really just a feature of our media landscape, and not a bug.

    There's No Contradiction Here

    The Washington Post takes a look at what's really behind America's view of government in the Tea Party era and completely misses the point., whether by accident or by deliberately being obtuse.

    A new study by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University shows that most Americans who say they want more limited government also call Social Security and Medicare "very important." They want Washington to be involved in schools and to help reduce poverty. Nearly half want the government to maintain a role in regulating health care.

    The study suggests that come January, politicians in both parties will confront a challenging and sometimes contradictory reality about what Americans really think about their government. Although Republicans, and many Democrats, have tried to demonize Washington, they must contend with the fact that most major government programs remain enormously popular, including some that politicians have singled out for stiff criticism.

    The new survey also shows that although Democrats and Republicans have rarely seen eye to eye, the gap between the two has widened significantly over a decade of partisan polarization.

    Fully 80 percent of Republicans say the government's priorities are misplaced, and just 6 percent express a lot of faith in government when it comes to fixing economic problems or dealing with Social Security.

    More broadly, a nationwide report card on the government shows barely passing grades: Washington was a C student in a poll 10 years ago. Today, more than four in 10 people give the government a D or F.

    Most of those who see the country as headed off-course put "a great deal" of blame on the government.

    Overall, 55 percent of Americans say the government is not paying attention to the biggest issues. Similar percentages say the government does not use tax money wisely, is out of sync with their values and has not helped their families.

    Half say the government has a big effect on their daily lives - up significantly from 10 years ago - but most of those say the impact is a negative one. 

    The Post article goes on this track at some length, trying in vain to reconcile the fact that people love social spending programs but at the same time the Wingnut fringe wants to see the government dismantled.

    "I think the less the government governs us, the better we do," Norma Osuna, 48, said in a follow-up interview to the survey. A stay-at-home mother, she sees the country as going in a "socialistic" direction.

    Nearly half of the 2,054 adults polled say the federal government threatens their personal liberties. There is a creeping sense - now shared by one in five Americans - that it is not possible for the federal government to be run well, given all the problems in the country.

    And again, the Post just stumbles all over the map trying to reconcile the fact that one in five people basically want the federal government gone and for the states to run things, and that you'd better keep your damn hands off my Medicare and Social Security.

    The answer is actually pretty simple.  Americans, particularly Tea Party folks, love their own government programs.  They just want to take those programs away from everyone not like them.  Liberals see government programs and they think "How can I efficiently extend these benefits to as many people who truly need them as possible?"  Tea Party folks say "How can I keep these benefits for people like myself and deny them to those people so I still get them?"

    It's unfair to oversimplify the driving motives behind Tea Party conservativism and progressive liberalism to "selfish versus generous" and yet it does help explain part of the situation.  No real contradiction here.  Tea Partiers want theirs, and if that means you have to give up yours so they can get it, well...they're Real Americans, and you're not.

    Post dances around this but never goes into it.  But it does end with this:

    A more radical proposition also has broad appeal: Fifty-six percent of those polled say things would be better if there were a national referendum system enabling all citizens to vote on major national issues. At least on this point, there is rare general agreement among Democrats, Republicans and independents. 

    Hey, Tea-ranny of the Majority again. What conservatives did to California as far as making it arguably the most ungovernable state in the nation, we want to do to the entire country.  Just what we need, a national referendum system designed to pass every loopy Tea Party idea ever made and to drive people to the polls using social wedge issues.

    Won't that be great?
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