Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pot Movement Still Gaining Momentum. Plus, Arlen Specter is Now a Democrat!!

Jim Gray is a Vietnam combat veteran who spent 25 years on Orange County's 'bench'. He's riled a lot of anti-drug crusaders with his critiques of America's war on narcotics.

In his view, it's 'high time' -- so to speak -- for another approach to marijuana.

"We would make marijuana less available for our children than it is today," Gray said.

"Why is that? Because alcohol is controlled by the government, and illegal drugs are controlled by drug dealers, and they don't ask for ID. So what's not to like?" See the rest of the interview of Judge Jim Gray:

HBW: And this from another judge this time down in Texas:

My experience is the War on Drugs that has been waged by America for all these years is an absolute, total disaster … A failure,” he said. “We’re putting people in jail for possession, and we seldom if ever really run across a dealer. I don’t think, since I’ve been in office, we have not had more than four or five dealers come through my court.”

As for America’s number one cash crop, Judge Collier does even go as far as batting an eye at marijuana.

“Marijuana is well on its way, even in the state of Texas, to not being much of a crime,” he said. “I don’t hear marijuana cases. The only marijuana cases I hear is when somebody has four ounces or more. In other words, they’ve already reduced possession of a couple of joints to the level of a throw-away misdemeanor. I would not be surprised to see it be treated more like a parking violation, where you’d have to pay a fine for being caught with it in public.”

Great debate with Rob Paul on this issue:

BREAKING NEWS: Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter has just chosen to switch parties from a life-time moderate Republican to moderate Democrat.

"Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."

This Earth shattering news would give Democrats (along with Al Franken) a 60 vote, filibuster proof majority. However, I realize that he won't be an automatic vote and I wouldn't expect anything less from a strong moderate minded politician. The modern Republicans have been attacked and further isolated by a shrinking party, which is only left with core, hard-right Conservatives. And we here in the Democratic party welcome moderates--we welcome all variations of views. We are the big tent party and proud to absorb Specter. I like that he said that he wasn't there to represent the Republican party but the Pennsylvania people--that's a politician that I can get behind. He understands who he represents and fights for first and foremost. And I hope he keeps that commitment to his constituents in the future as a Democrat.

That said, this is yet another indication of just how far the Republican party has gone toward alienating Independents and moderate Republicans. We welcome Senator Specter with open arms and I look forward to helping him get re-elected in Pennsylvania as a Democrat. We welcome anyone willing to work with us to get the business of America done. I appeal to all moderate Republicans to jump ship from their party, which has been taken over by extremist, radical, Christian conservatives. They are a dying party, which no longer believes in moderate ideas that are in-line with most Americans--especially on social issues.

Specter mentioned that the Republican party has veered way too far to the right for him to stay with them in good conscience. As the Republican party becomes less of a "big tent" party the Democratic party welcomes all who are willing to debate in good faith and willing to engage in compromise. That's what I've been frustrated with most--that Obama and the Dems have been trying to work with the "Incredible Shrinking Party" as I think I'll call them now without much help in return. We don't necessarily want to simply ram-rod our "agenda" through the Congress--we are willing to compromise on some issues and points, we just need a party willing to work with us, rather than do the sandlot "No, no, no" temper tantrum thing. We can work with anyone as long as they are willing to come half-way with us. Specter will most likely be very helpful in backing Obama's health care reform especially as it is an issue dear to his heart.

The Democrats led by President Obama have been reaching out to moderates and Independents and it appears that message of welcome and acceptance is registering. I have often found myself agreeing with Specter and respect his honest and sincere way of viewing each issue on its merits and voting his conscience. That is exactly the kind of person we want in the Democratic party and frankly he is exactly the kind of politician that the Republican party needs more of right now--not less. In the meantime GOP Chairman Michael Steele called Specter, "left wing!!"

If Specter is a "lefty" then who ISN'T a lefty now??? Arlen Specter a liberal??? He's a very Independent moderate who will despite joining the Democrats will think for himself and probably side with the Repubs now and then and that's o.k.--we're a big tent party. Again, welcome Senator Specter!!!!! Email Mr. Specter and thank-you for using his common sense: CLICK HERE FOR CONTACT FORM.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Are Republicans the Real Swines?

Remember way back in the day, President Obama delivered his Not Really The State Of The Union address, and the GOP trotted out Future Of The Republican Party Supra-Genius Bobbly Jindal to provide a rebuttal? Well, we all had some laughs, didn't we? Mainly because Jindal was all: "They want to spend stimulus money on volcano monitoring? Why everyone knows that the Hill Witch keeps tabs on our volcanoes by floating chicken bones in her own intestinal ichor!" And then Alaska's Mount Redoubt erupted, suggesting there might be something to this "let's monitor volcanoes with government-funded science" idea.

Well, as it turns out, volcano monitoring wasn't the only worthwhile public safety program that was deemed extravagant in the stimulus package,
funding for pandemic preparation was axed as well. Famously, Maine Senator Collins, the supposedly moderate Republican who demanded cuts in health care spending in exchange for her support of a watered-down version of the stimulus, fumed about the pandemic funding: "Does it belong in this bill? Should we have $870 million in this bill No, we should not." Even now, Collins continues to use her official website to highlight the fact that she led the fight to strip the pandemic preparedness money out of the Senate's version of the stimulus measure.

Naturally, it's tough to keep an economy stimulated if productivity gets diminished by a pandemic
. And, hey, it turns out that the lack of a stable and well-funded public health infrastructure may not be so good for economic recovery as a whole: On Monday, the question began to be answered, as Associated Press reported -- under the headline:
"World Markets Struck By Swine Flu Fears" -- that: "World stock markets fell Monday as investors worried that a deadly outbreak of swine flu in Mexico could go global and derail any global economic recovery." Before U.S. markets opened, the Wall Street Journal reported: "U.S. stock futures fell sharply Monday as the outbreak of deadly swine flu stoked fears that a possible recovery in the global economy could be derailed."

TPJ: Ironic that in opposing a universal health care system that could benefit all, opens the door for people with swine flu from getting the treatment they need thus exposing more people to the virus. If we had some kind of basic coverage for everyone we could most likely reduce the spread of these kinds of outbreaks. And the conservatives thought denying others health care coverage wouldn't affect them?

Try telling that to the swine flu that infected you and turned your organs into liquefied shit because the person who infected you didn't have the health care to treat them and keep the disease from spreading to you. Just another example of why having a healthy population is vital to our national security and economic security. Karl Rove too opposed spending on pandemic flu prevention as well:

What nefarious programs were Democrats trying to insert? Among other things, Rove cited $900 million for “pandemic flu preparations.”

Dr. Paul Jarris, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy earlier this year he was concerned that the provision’s deletion from the stimulus package might mean that resources would never arrive for flu preparedness.

“We are extremely concerned about the diminishing funding for state and local preparedness as well as the removal of all funding for pandemic flu, and the decrease in funding for hospital preparedness.” Jarris said. “Along with the state budget cuts, this is a matter of losing the infrastructure created over the past several years.”

“We will pursue everything we possibly can, but there are no guarantees,” he added. “I wouldn’t say there are any promising leads we’re following right now. It seems that Congress is turning a blind eye to state and local health preparedness.”

TPJ: Meanwhile, the Republicanistical party has been (and is as of today) holding up the nomination of the Health and Human Services Secretary:
The Center for Disease Control (CDC), which is responsible for preventing the spread of swine flu, is managed by Health and Human Services (HHS) - a 65,000-person federal department lead by the HHS Secretary. At this moment, the office of HHS Secretary is empty. The reason? Republicans are blocking a vote to fill the office.
TPJ: That's right, we have no one in charge of the Heath and Human Services Department in the middle of a health crisis. Playing politics with your health--It's the new Republican Party everybody!! Maybe their plan for winning the next election is to hope that this swine flu kills off all the Democrats? Who knows, they've shown no limits to their desperation up till now.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

After 100 Days America is Impressed with President Obama.

A poll published in Sunday's Washington Post showed 69% of voters approve of the way he is handling the country. A poll by the Pew Research Centre showed that 73% of voters - and as many as 46% of Republicans - held a favourable view of Obama as a person even if they disagree with some of his policies. Obama does particularly well on foreign affairs, with 71% of Americans backing his planned withdrawal from Iraq and clear majorities in favour of his policies toward Afghanistan, the easing of sanctions on Cuba and his shift toward the European view of the need to take global warming seriously.

TPJ: Nearly three-quarters of Americans support President Obama but the conservatives would have you believe that Americans are ready for revolution against the government. "Oh but, but, but, there is a ground swell of opposition as evident by the tea parties!!"--yeah all 29% of you guys, what a movement!! I bet 99 percent of that 29% who disapprove of Obama are Republicans and yet they say the tea parties were not a partisan thing!!

Yeah, like maybe one independent guy amongst a sea of Republicans. And the only reason he's independent is because the Republican party is too left for him. Talk about tone deafness!! They're in denial that America has moved beyond their outdated ideas and principles. And this isn't the only poll to show his approval in the very high 60s--now pushing into the 70s.

Fifty-five percent of Americans say they are now optimistic about the future, up by 7% on February. Obama's highest rating, at 90%, is for being willing to listen to different points of view. He also does well for his understanding of ordinary people and for being a strong leader.

TPJ: Oh but the Conservatives whine that it's Obama doing the "my way or the highway" thing. The Republicans in Congress conveyed right away that they didn't want to work with Obama but with 90% agreeing that he is willing to compromise there are more average Republicans supporting Obama than they might realize. It seems to me that the only ones not supporting the president are Republican politicians in Congress. In order to reach 90% there have to be a lot of Republicans and Independents saying Obama is willing to be bipartisian.

The 55% saying they are optimistic about the future might not sound super high but considering the right track/wrong track numbers under the end of Bush it is extremely impressive. In the final days of Bush, the right track number was polling at 17%. In only 100 days of his four year term the right track number under Obama is 55% and climbing--even in a deep recession!!

So many Americans want him to succeed because in a large way our fate is tied to his. It is amazing how much confidence a people have when they have confidence in their leader. In these uncertain, chaotic times I think Americans are also responding positively to his calm, steady and optimistic style of leading. He is the reassuring voice in the midst of troubled waters. We need to believe in our leaders and so far we believe in Obama and he in us. Let's hope he continues to move us forward and bring confidence back to an exhausted America post-Bush.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Tortured Logic.

The CIA water-boarded al-Qaida masterminds Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah a combined 266 times. Doesn't water-boarding lose its effectiveness once the prisoner knows he isn't going to drown? Water-boarding affects the digestive and respiratory systems. As the victim ingests more and more water, his intestines swell, which produces a burning sensation. This effect lessens somewhat with repeated exposure, as the digestive organs stretch; interrogators can avoid this by using more water.

The respiratory system is not as resilient to the torture. Oxygen deprivation—the direct effect of water-boarding—causes a panoply of physical effects, like bleeding from the nose and ears and under the skin. Hypoxia also triggers a secondary stress response: Even if you're not consciously fearing for your life, your body will react as though you were and release norepinephrine and cortisol. These stress hormones can produce unpleasant side effects like intense asthma and a racing heart. A calm and confident victim may have a less-acute stress response. On the other hand, an experienced victim might just as well have the opposite reaction—he may be so traumatized by the mere sight of the water-board that his stress response is heightened.

In order to ensure that the atrocities of Guantanamo aren't visited upon the world by future administrations, Obama must also eviscerate the structures that enabled and supported torture. At the top of a long list is the U.S. military's secretive torture school, known as SERE, which stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. Founded in the aftermath of the Korean War to train U.S. servicemen to withstand enemy interrogation, the school was central to the development of the notorious "enhanced interrogation techniques" at Guantanamo. As Jane Mayer put it in her study of U.S. torture policy, The Dark Side, "SERE is a repository of the world's knowledge about torture, the military equivalent, in a sense, of the lethal specimens of obsolete plagues kept in the deep-freeze laboratories of the Centers for Disease Control."

I served in the Marine Corps in the 1990s, and I attended SERE as a young lieutenant in November 1995. I have since been to Iraq three times (as a reporter), and I can attest that the school isn't relevant to the threats American soldiers face abroad. It resembles more of an elaborate hazing ritual than actual training.

While I was in the school, I lived like an animal. I was hooded, beaten, starved, stripped naked, and hosed down in the December air until I became hypothermic. At one point, I couldn't speak because I was shivering so hard. Thrown into a 3-by-3-foot cage with only a rusted coffee can to piss into, I was told that the worst had yet to come. I was violently interrogated three times. When I forgot my prisoner number, I was strapped to a gurney and made to watch as a fellow prisoner was water-boarded a foot away from me. I will never forget the sound of that young sailor choking, seemingly near death, paying for my mistake. I remember only the sound because, try as I might, I couldn't force myself to look at his face. I was next. But for some reason, the guards just dropped the hose on my chest, the water soaking my uniform.

I was incarcerated at SERE for only a few days, but my mind quickly disintegrated. I became convinced that I was being held in an actual prisoner of war camp. Training had stopped, from my point of view. We had crossed over into some murky shadow land where the regulations no longer applied. I was sure that my captors, who wore Warsaw Pact-style uniforms and spoke with thick Slavic accents, would go all the way if the need arose.

In fact, our soldiers need training from SERE based on an entirely different premise, as illustrated by the experience of Michael Durant, the helicopter pilot who spent several weeks in captivity when he was captured by Somali fighters during the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" raid. Durant survived by befriending his captors and forcing them to see him as a fellow human being. SERE conditions servicemen to expect nothing but the worst from their captors; Durant's life depended on his ability to understand his captors and find ways to manipulate them psychologically.

The experience of torture at SERE surely plays a role in the minds of the graduates who go on to be interrogators, and it must on some level help them rationalize their actions. It's not hard to imagine them thinking, Well, if I survived this, then it's OK to do it to this guy. This acceptance of abuse from up high down to the lowest levels is the root of our military's torture problem. Unlike other Western militaries (Britain's, for example), ours thrives on sometimes-cartoonish authoritarianism and contrived rites of passage (like those hazing scandals that continually plague all the service academies). To young, impressionable soldiers, it is a too-short mental leap to the depredations of Abu Ghraib, as evidenced by a 2007 Army Times poll showing that 44 percent of enlisted Marines thought torturing a detainee was OK under certain circumstances. As John McCain said of torture in 2005, "It's not about them—it's about us."
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Demand an Independent Investigation into Bush Admin. Engagement in Torture--Now.

TPJ: I'm tired of hearing this defense that water boarding is o.k. and not torture because we do it to our own troops. A few things need to be raised in response: First, our soldiers knew that they were going into this because they had to sign a waiver and they knew that they weren't going to die because they trusted their commanders. Second, the main reason that they go through this training is so that they know what it's like in case they are captured.

In Japan during World War II and in the Korean War it was used on our soldiers and on allied soldiers to get a false confession from them. In other words, they pour water down your throat until you can't stand it and confess to anything to make it stop. So if enemies have been using this torture to get false confessions out of people then why shouldn't we suspect the information gained from water boarding terrorists? No wonder we didn't get much credible information from these torture sessions!!

We know this kind of stuff is ineffective because John McCain famously said that he gave his captors bogus information to make the pain stop. They also did it to frustrate their enemy as their captors chased down these false leads. In one case McCain gave them the names of the starting front line of the Green Bay Packers football team instead of his officers!! These supporters of torture (mostly Bush loyalist Republicans left in the Congress) can't give more than one case where this torture supposedly help stop a credible terrorist attack. It was that "threat" in 2002 that said the Library tower in L.A. was an al-Qaeda target. Except that isn't exactly true:

Outraged intelligence professionals say President George W. Bush is "cheapening" and "politicizing" their work with claims the United States foiled a planned terrorist attack against Los Angeles in 2002. "The President has cheapened the entire intelligence community by dragging us into his fantasy world," says a longtime field operative of the Central Intelligence Agency. "He is basing this absurd claim on the same discredited informant who told us Al Qaeda would attack selected financial institutions in New York and Washington."

Within hours of the President’s speech Thursday claiming his administration had prevented a major attack, sources who said they were current and retired intelligence pros from the CIA, NSA, FBI and military contacted Capitol Hill Blue with angry comments disputing the President’s remarks.

“He’s full of shit,” said one sharply-worded email.

Intelligence pros say much of the information used by Bush in an attempt to justify his increased spying on Americans by the National Security Agency, trampling of civil rights under the USA Patriot Act, and massive buildup of the Department of Homeland Security, now the nation’s largest federal bureaucracy, was “worthless intel that was discarded long ago.”

"There was no definitive plot. It never materialized or got past the thought stage," says a senior counterterrorism official, who has worked at the CIA and the FBI, who talked to Capitol Hill Blue and the New York Daily News.

FBI Deputy Director John Pistole refused to characterize it as an advanced plot when discussing it in June 2004. A New York Times story cited “several counter-terrorism officials” as saying that “the plot never progressed past the planning stages…. ‘To take that and make it into a disrupted plot is just ludicrous,’ said one senior FBI official.” In addition, the senior Army SERE psychologist warned in 2002 against using SERE training techniques during interrogations in an email to personnel at Guantanamo Bay, because, “It usually decreases the reliability of the information because the person will say whatever he believes will stop the pain… Bottom line: the likelihood that the use of physical pressures will increase the delivery of accurate information from a detainee is very low.”

The idea that waterboarding KSM six times a day for a month, as well as torturing his children, would lead to anything other than false confessions is absurd on the face of it.

However, by regurgitating the confirmed hoax that KSM “confessed” to a plot that never even existed because of the “success” of waterboarding, the CIA has once again highlighted the fact that not only was the torture program an insult and a disgrace to everything America is supposed to stand for, but that it was also a complete waste of time and only put Americans in more danger because false confessions were taken as gospel so that they could be used not to protect the country from terrorists, but to propagandize to the American people and enlist their support for the thoroughly deceptive and insidious “war on terror”.

And then there is this from The New York Times:

But some of the experts involved in the interrogation review, called “Educing Information,” say that during World War II, German and Japanese prisoners were effectively questioned without coercion. Mr. Kleinman, who worked as an interrogator in Iraq in 2003, called the post-Sept. 11 efforts “amateurish” by comparison to the World War II program, with inexperienced interrogators who worked through interpreters and had little familiarity with the prisoners’ culture.

TPJ: Many of the WWII interrogators found that they got the best information from building relationships with prisoners and even from game after game of chess or checkers. As well as talking with them about their families and friends. They noticed that the prisoners were more co-operative after realizing that they weren't going to be treated the way they were told by they propaganda ministers in the military. They were told Americans are animals but when they found we treated them like human beings they opened up like a pinata.

Here's a great link on debunking this "torture is effective" bullshit and that it is something we have to do.

TPJ: And more:

Now that Bush administration officials have launched a major campaign to persuade us that torture “worked,” perhaps it’s worth recalling that George W. Bush’s own FBI director said in an interview last year that he wasn’t aware of a single planned terror attack on America that had been foiled by information obtained through torture.

Robert Mueller, who was appointed by Bush in 2001 and remains FBI director under Obama, delivered that assessment at the end of this December 2008 article in Vanity Fair on torture:

I ask Mueller: So far as he is aware, have any attacks on America been disrupted thanks to intelligence obtained through what the administration still calls “enhanced techniques”?

“I’m really reluctant to answer that,” Mueller says. He pauses, looks at an aide, and then says quietly, declining to elaborate: “I don’t believe that has been the case.”

That stands in direct contrast to Dick Cheney’s recent claim that torture has been “enormously valuable” in terms of “preventing another mass-casualty attack against the United States.”

TPJ: Still with me? Good because this last bit is important too:

The US military's Survival, Evasion, Resistance anmd Escape (SERE) training -- designed to prepared captured soldiers to resist abusive interrogation -- has recently drawn attention as the direct source of the torture techniques used by the CIA and US military on detainees.

Former SERE trainer and military interrogator Colonel Steven Kleinman is angered by what he sees as the way SERE techniques have been misused. He told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Wednesday, "The SERE program is a very, very noble program. It's designed and run by some of the most incredible patriots you'd ever want to encounter. But it's designed for one purpose -- and that is to help our military personnel who should find themselves in harm's way, allow them to return with honor by introducing them to the worst possible scenarios."

Kleinman was scathing in his criticism of the Bush administration officials who, in his opinion, misapplied SERE techniques because of a fundamental misunderstand of their purpose. "At the very senior levels of government," he stated, "the understanding of the complexities of interrogation is rare, it really is. It's probably shaped more by the television show 24 than by practitioners of the art."

Kleinman said he realized that SERE was being misused when he was sent to Iraq in 2003 to offer advice to young and inexperienced interrogators. He testified last fall before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he had witnessed detainees under interrogation being repeatedly slapped hard across the face after every response and subjected to sleep deprivation and stress positions. Eventually he "told the task force commander that the methods were unlawful and were in violation of the Geneva Conventions."

"When we realized interrogation was going to be very important after 9/11, the [CIA] apparently looked within its capabilities, its personnel, and found that they didn't have a real formal structured interrogation capability," Kleinman stated. "So they did the right thing, they started to look for that capability elsewhere, outside the confines of Langley. But the question I struggle with is allegedly they had hired two clinical psychologists who had extensive experience in SERE. ... And I thought, did the CIA not understand the difference between SERE resistance training and interrogation for intelligence purposes? And if they didn't, I can't -- I find that shocking."

"There's a lot of people," Kleinman concluded in speaking with Maddow, "who don't understand the difference between a model that would train people to resist harsh interrogation ... to compel people to produce propaganda, and intelligence interrogation, which is designed to elicit cooperation, and therefore timely, accurate, and comprehensive intelligence. ... They appear almost similar on the surface, but there's very, very profound differences, and those two cannot be crossed."

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Is Obama a Weak President? If so Then so is Bush, Reagan and Nixon.

Have you heard the latest desperate attack from the right? Here's Newt Gingrich who Republicans have brought out of the retirement home as a desperate hope for 2012:
"Everywhere in Latin America, enemies of America are going to use the picture of Chavez smiling and being with the president as proof that Chavez is now legitimate, that he's acceptable," Gingrich told NBC's "Today." "It does matter to the world if the United States tolerates a vicious anti-American propaganda campaign and then smiles and greets the person who’s systematically been anti-American for his entire career."
So President Obama is a "weak president" because he shook hands with Hugo Chavez--but wait, didn't President Cowboy Bush shake hands with Chavez too? Not only that but he held hands and kissed the Saudi leader!!
Imagine if Obama did that--they'd call him a homosexual traitor!! As if there is anything wrong with being homosexual anyway but you know conservatives, they think everyone is homosexual--besides any of them of course. All you have to do is give another guy a hug and they're ready to water board ya or burn you at the stake for daring to show affection to another man!!!!!!!!!! THE HORROR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's Republicanistical Senator Ensign:

“When you're talking about the prestige of the United States and the presidency of the United States, you have to be careful who you're seeing joking around with,” Ensign told CNN on Sunday.“And I think it was irresponsible for the president to be seen kind of laughing and joking with Hugo Chavez."

Oh and I seem to remember something during my studies as a history major about Reagan shaking hands and even smiling with Gorbachev!! (GASP).
As well as Nixon going to China and shaking with hands and smiling at Mao Zedong for fucks sake but you have to remember that history isn't the strong suit of today's Republicans.
TPJ: Laughing with Chavez??? NO!!! Anything but that...ANYTHING but that horrible, treasonous crime of LAUGHING!!! What a joke. Besides the above examples of Republican presidents of old, Bush was the comic in chief. He joked around with everyone-including this picture of him laughing it up with the Communist dictator Hu Jintao whose government is responsible of some horrific atrocities on the Tibetan people and the Falun Gong.
TPJ: But Bush wasn't happy with just joking around with dictators abroad so he brought one into the hallowed walls of the White House. He accorded brutal dictator Islam Karimov all the honors of full state visit--where was your, "he's a weak leader who cozies up to dictators" then? OF COURSE we have to meet with unsavory people now and then as Obama, Bush 2, Clinton, Bush 1, Reagan, Carter, Ford and Nixon have done to name a few. The world isn't black and white but shades of gray so what Obama is doing is called diplomacy--Republicans, now would be the time to look that word up because you've eschewed that for the last 8 years.

Their next charge that he is weak comes from his openness toward Cuba, which even many Republicans believe is over-due. However, if you listen to the Republicanistical Party you'll get the impression that Obama is allowing Fidel Castro to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom--but wait, where did Islam Karimov stay when he visited the White House? The Republicanistical Party's view toward Cuba is absurd when one of our biggest trading partners and partners in foreign affairs even is COMMUNIST CHINA!!!!!!!! Yeah, the same China who has an ATROCIOUS human rights record, stifles freedom of press, freedom of religion and freedom to protest. I'm not done--what about Vietnam, which is becoming the new whore house for uber-Capitalist's desire for cheap labor.

The Republicanisticals love to say how Nixon's embrace of China opened China up to capitalism, which is slowly but surely modernizing and leading to a more open and free China. And they are right--bringing China into the world of nations and allowing trade to flourish has brought China closer and closer to democracy.

So why wouldn't we want the same for Communist Cuba? You'd think the uber-capitalists would be DYING to get in there for some cheap money and trade, so what's keeping them from following Obama's lead? The Republicanistical Party is tied at the HIP with the more conservative, older, Cuban-American population for political reasons. The younger Cuban-Americans want a new policy as do increasing numbers of even the older generations.

So who's left? Oh yeah, Mitt "helmet hair" Romney:

Romney also takes Obama to task for not responding more forcefully to Iran's announcement that it has successfully mastered every step necessary to enrich uranium or to North Korea's launch of a long-range missile.

"As one of the world’s most oppressive and tyrannical regimes is on the brink of securing the 'game changing' capability to reach American shores with a nuclear weapon, the president shrinks from action: no seizure of North Korean funds, no severance of banking access, no blockade," writes Romney.

TPJ: As opposed to the "success" that Bush had with stopping Iran's nuke program or preventing North Korea from launching missiles. But, but, but...I can hear Republicanisticals saying, "At least Bush condemned the launch!!" Not so fast guys and girls, Obama did put forth the same condemnation during this most recent launch.

Come on guys, don't you have anything better than that, oh, wait, sorry--you don't. Awww, I almost feel sorry for you guys--almost.

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My First Obama Gripe and Steve Schmidt Supports Gay Marriage and Warns Against a "Religious Party."

Overall I am very pleased with the job that President Obama is doing and am enjoying the Republicans squirm to try and find their footing as the American political paradigm is shifting toward a more socially liberal society via gay marriage, pot legalization efforts, abortion and immigration issues.

Republicans are quickly being outnumbered by minority voters--Dems get 3/4 of the minority vote because the GOP hasn't had the best record on minority rights whether it is blacks, latinos, gays or women.

And these "minorities" will soon be the majority in America and if the Republicans don't do something they will lose the Latino vote for generations just like the youth. The longer they cling to anti-immigrant policies and antiquated views on social issues (gay marriage, pot legalization) the smaller and smaller the party will get. In a lot of ways the Republican party has become the party of the white, southern, undereducated, male, Christian and you can't win a modern election with that narrow of support.

However, like I said I am disappointed with President Obama's signals that he wouldn't prosecute any Bush officials for water boarding (which was an offense we prosecuted and even executed Japanese officials for doing after WW2). I'm not for executing anyone but I do believe Obama owes it to the Founding Father's, we the people, the world and to our image and reputation as a law abiding, Democratic society to investigate anyone involved. If that leads to former President Bush then so be it--Everyone in America has to obey the law and presidents shouldn't be exempt. Otherwise it sets a horrible precedence that future presidents can refer to as defense of future torture or other crime.

Now, I heard breaking news just earlier that Obama might be changing his views on this a bit by leaving the door open for prosecuting those who authored the memos but not those who were following those orders (i.e. the grunts in the field). That's a bit better but I think even those who followed those orders should be investigated as well. They might not be found guilty in the end but the rule of law demands we investigate.

Anyone with a moral conscience should have resigned from their service than torture detainees. They might be told it was o.k. from above but a person knows in their heart if what they are doing is unjustifiable and excessive. The law is the law and we didn't let the Nazis go at the Nuremberg trials because of their defense of, "I was just following orders."Meanwhile, another Republican has come out for gay marriage recognizing that unless the party does so then they will disappear into history. Steve Schmidt was John McCain's campaign manager and also served former President George W. Bush. He is seen as a heavy hitter in the Republican party so his words carry even more weight:
"If you reject [gay marriage] on religious grounds, I respect that," he said. "I respect anyone's religious views. However, religious views should not inform the public policy positions of a political party because... when it is a religious party, many people who would otherwise be members of that party are excluded from it because of a religious belief system that may be different.

"If a party is seen as anti-gay than that is injurious to its candidates in states like California, Oregon or Washington or New Jersey or New York, increasingly even in states like Virginia and the mid-south," he said.
TPJ: Thus, so much for standing for religious freedom. Schmidt went further went on to say that religion is alienating people from the party and could lead as well to the death of the party:

"If you put public policy issues to a religious test, you risk becoming a religious party," Schmidt declared. "And in a free country, a political party cannot be viable in the long term if it is seen as a sectarian party."

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Which States Pay more Taxes and which States Get the Most Money From the Feds?

TPJ: Nice tidbit from Chris Matthews, talking about information he picked up from The Tax Foundation:

Matthews: Of the states that give more in federal taxes than they receive, the donor states--the ten that pay the most in taxes compared to what they get back they're all blue states--states that voted for Obama. And 8 of the 10 states who take more than they give are red, republican states who voted for McCain.

TPJ: So who are the welfare queens now Republicans? Stop whining about tax and spend because most likely if you live in a Republican state you'd be screwed without that tax money coming into your state. Paying taxes is the price of being a citizen in one of the most advanced, wealthy, pro-business, highly attractive to entrepreneurs and smart students, high standard and quality of life states in the world.

If it wasn't for having the amazing luck of being born in America these folks who make $250,000+ a year wouldn't have that terrible problem of having to live in that income tax bracket. Oh it's such a hardship!! Now they will have to sell one of their three homes!! I mean, life is not worth living without that ski condo in Aspen. All they are left with is the villa in Tuscany and the mansion in Orange County. THE HORROR!!!

I am nearly choking on the irony here that the states who bitch about paying taxes the most get the most in return for those taxes!!! The rest of us are going about our civic duty paying our taxes with the understanding that it's the dues for being in the club. Conservatives seem to love the Sam's club to stock up on supplies and you have to pay a due for that club so how do you think you can be in "America Club" without having to pay your fair dues? And I don't mind paying more in taxes to help the states that need more help, which happen to mostly be Republican. I don't want to shaft fellow Americans even IF they are Republican and/or Conservative. This is America--we take care of our own.

I don't know how many times I have to go over this but I will again for the sake of repitition being the only way some people learn, "If you are paying more in taxes chances are you can afford to pay more in taxes. If you're making $250,000 a year I don't think you're wondering how you're going to make next month's budget. You have plenty to spare and the rest of us get a tax cut--that's like 90 something percent of us so if you don't make $250k or more then your taxes won't budge so sit down and chill out. No one is coming after your wallet except to put some more money in it.

So you Republicans who enjoy whining about federal taxes and federal spending should pay attention to this statement, which pretty much sums up this post: "The people who have the most complaints have the least to complain about." That's you in those 8 out of 10 Republican states. Why aren't those liberal states who pay the most complaining? Because they know that taxes are essential to a strong America. Oh the irony from the Republicans just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter.

Yesterday it was Rick Perry, Republican Governor of Texas talking about secession from America!! Does that mean that we can invade them for the oil? Oh that would be irony at it's Texas best--especially for "W." Other irony being that as my friend from Left of Centrist says, "How ironic that some in the party of Lincoln (The Republican Party) are now calling for secession." Where were the pitchforks when you guys [Republicans] double the national deficit? Where were your tea bags then?

PHOTO: I chose the picture at the top of the post because I found it especially disturbing. Please people, don't involve your kids in these kinds of things--politics is a messy, often ugly, confusing, stressful process for adults. Kids shouldn't be burdened with this kind of stuff--let them drop their signs and go play. Let them be kids.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Texas Secession, Tax Havens and Brainwashed, Average Republicans.

Texas Gov. Perry has been talking secession--TWICE now!! The question I have for conservatives is this, "Is this kind of talk patriotic? Isn't it treasonous?" If the liberal bastion of New York decided to secede while Bush was president you know that they would be called treasonous and unpatriotic. As they should be called under that situation. So where's the outrage conservatives? I want to hear it. As my friend Robert roughly said today, "It's ironic that the party of Lincoln is talking secession."

How come we didn't see your tea bagging parties and this secession talk under Bush and his ballooning deficit spending, which wasn't even doing our country any good? It was all being pissed away in that sand trap in the middle-east. It's like how when a forest fire rages out of control some times a tactic is used where you actually SET fires to choke off the bigger fire.

Yes we have set a new fire with deficit, stimulus spending. However, it will most likely (economists on the left and right argue) make it so that the new fire (the stimulus spending) will burn off the excess fuel waiting to be torched (toxic loans, etc.) to protect more structures from burning down (further job losses and stock market drops) which changes the direction and intensity of the main fire (the recession). So that it has no where to go, nothing left to burn and dies out of it's own lack of energy.

At least now the spending being done by Obama is building bridges, schools, a new energy grid, etc. that directly employ people. He is investing in Wall Street, the biggest Republican bastion in New York City and what is he hearing in return from you uber-capitalists? SOCIALISM!!! (Notice the red highlight? I did that for all you people who hate American Socialism (i.e., police and fire departments, medicare, social security, public universities, etc).

You idiots, he's trying to SAVE your precious capitalist enclave of Wall Street so that it in turn can jump start the micro-economies of each industry, which means more money in your pockets and better job opportunities. And as for protesting, "fiscal insanity", how about they protest all the tax dollars we are losing because of the fat cats using the tax haven loop holes in the Caribbean?

That's lost revenue to America that is dearly needed to help us get out of this recession. That's capital and capital is what lubricates the gears of our economy. We probably wouldn't be in such an economic hole if the, "I'm so rich I towel off with hundred dollar bills" crowd paid their fair share in taxes. Keith Olbermann makes this point better than I, listen:
The Republican elite want the tax breaks to go to the rich and then when the average, middle-class, Republican guy or lady loses their house because all the tax relief is going to the wealthy they are so brainwashed by the Rush Windbags of the world that they actually turn on the Demcorats who fight for middle-class tax relief and blame us with these TEA PARTIES!!! It's Stockholm syndrome where you begin to sympathize with your captor after a time of brainwashing and learn to hate the very ones trying to help you.

The Republican elite must just laugh and laugh and laugh all the way to the bank. They don't even have to fight their own battles anymore, they have a brainwashed army of less educated, middle-class folks fighting for them who honestly think that these Republican elite would/are looking out for them. THEY are the ones taking your money--WAKE UP!!

The Bush tax cuts went to the top 1% and you average Republicans need to realize that you (and the majority of your friends) are NOT in the top 1%, which means you're getting the "no lube screw job special" from the rich Republican elite as much as we Democrats are. Hopefully that clear truth will get through the brainwashing from your radio broadcast prophets one day and you'll turn on your masters as we did long ago. Can't you see? The rich, Republican elite in this country are dividing us within the middle and lower classes against each other.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Conservatives Love Tea Bagging.

My oh my do the conservatives (all 5 of them) have their underwear in a bunch and they are looking to relieve that bunch through some good old fashioned tea bagging. They are staging these "tea parties" to protest rising tax rates and government spending. They are sending tea bags to members of Congress and the White House. These cheap skates will always whine about paying their fair share of taxes even though most of these "tea baggers" probably don't realize that their taxes won't go up but be reduced under Obama:

But everything that critics mock about these parties has long been standard practice within the Republican Party.

Thus, President Obama is being called a “socialist” who seeks to destroy capitalism. Why? Because he wants to raise the tax rate on the highest-income Americans back to, um, about 10 percentage points less than it was for most of the Reagan administration. Bizarre.
TPJ: The rich have manipulated the less affluent classes for years--they tell people who don't research these things much that their taxes are going up. Well, that's all some of these folks need to hear and off they go protesting taxes that won't be raised on them but on the ones telling them these lies. Folks like the FOX News crowd who all make millions. Yeah, the fat cats are right about one thing- their tax rates will go up. Yet even with that hike the rate will still be below the Reagan tax rate.

The protest against the government spending part is especially suicidal. To put a freeze on nearly all government spending, which is the big idea from these "tea baggers" (more on that phrase later) would ensure a steeper and longer-lasting down-ward spiral.

As it is we are seeing some signs that the bailout packages are working--big banks are starting to pull out of this hole and getting them stabilized and moving again will jump start the rest of the economy. Goldman Sachs is already in position and is looking to pay back the money loaned to them by tax payers. Wells Fargo posted better than expected earnings and Citigoup shares surged ahead of a earnings report to be released this week. In the rest of the country stimulus money is putting people back to work building new bridges, energy grids, repairing roads and on and on.

That is what people fail to realize--that the banks represent the levers that start the gears moving again. They are the ones holding all these bad loans from when the housing bubble burst, which is where much of this downturn started. So how do you fix a problem if you don't address the sector in which the problem started? Thus, why the bailout is necessary--we don't have much choice because a government spending freeze is exactly what Herbert Hoover did right before the Great Depression. It was a bad idea then and is a bad idea now.

In addition, economists on the right and the left support this Obama plan, which is already starting to show some glimmers of recovery. They agree that the last thing you should do in a deep recession is cut back on spending. This is a point Obama reiterated today along with saying he understands that we would cut back as families during this time as well as businesses. He goes on further to make it clearer to us:
However, if ever person and every business cut back then no one is spending any money, which means that there are no customers, which means there are more layoffs, which means that the economy gets even worse. That's why the government has to temporarily step in and boost government spending in order to stimulate demand.
TPJ: Thus the government becomes and is currently the investor and spender of last resort. The government is doing its job as spender of last resort to keep the economy from completely freezing over until the private sector can get back on its feet.

Now, on to the phrase, "tea bagging" that conservatives are throwing around saying they are going to "tea bag" the White House and Congress. Well, if these often socially close-minded people where more with the times they'd know that "tea bagging" is a sexual act in pop culture, which is ironically common in homosexual men!! I call it ironic because conservatives are so anti-gay and yet here they are refering to a common gay male sex act!! Teehee. I'll let you read what it exactly means for yourself--I'm not going to write it out word for word here in this post.

Check out this clip from, "The Rachel Maddow Show" about this tea bagging mayhem!! And for the rest of America all this tea bagging is leaving a bad taste in our mouths. Hehe...I couldn't resist. That said, by all means get out there and tea bag away!! I'm all for the right to assemble, demonstrate and free speech so get out there and tea bag your friends, neighbors, co-workers and even total strangers!! (wink). By the way, the tea parties are nothing like the original, which was protesting taxation without representation. These clowns have representation at all levels of government:

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Portugal's Decriminalization Has Led to Lower Drug Rates.

Champions of harsh drug criminalization laws as the best solution to curbing drug use will be chagrined to find that Portugal’s eight year history of decriminalization has led to lower drug usage rates. According to a new report entitled, “Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies,” while drug use across the European Union has risen steadily since 2000, Portugal, which has the most liberal drug laws of any country, has actually seen its prevalence rates decrease in various age groups since it decriminalized all drugs in 2001.

Prevalence rates measure how many people have consumed drugs over the course of their lifetime.
Greenwald, who presented his findings at a Friday event at the Cato Institute, which sponsored the writing of the report, noted that the United Kingdom and Estonia, EU nations with some of the harshest criminalization laws, also have the highest cocaine usage rates in the EU. "While drug addiction, usage, and associated pathologies continue to skyrocket in many EU states, those problems—in virtually every relevant category—have been either contained or measurably improved within Portugal since 2001.”

Greenwald said the strongest evidence in Portugal that supports drug decriminalization is the declining usage of drugs in the crucial 15-19 age group
. Because there has been little debate on empirical grounds, which are verifiable and provable, on why drugs should stay criminalized, the “extremely unexamined” assumption that decriminalization would result in a massive increase of drug usage has become widespread and generally accepted, Greenwald said.
But with the decriminalization of drugs in Portugal, drug reformers can now point to empirical evidence that demonstrates that decriminalization has positive affects.

Like it or not, marijuana is a massive industry. One hundred million Americans admit to government survey-takers that they've used it, with nearly 15 million acknowledging use in the past month. That's a huge market -- exceeding the number of Americans who will buy a new car or truck this year, or who bought one last year. Estimates based on U.S. government figures have pegged marijuana as the No. 1 cash crop in the United States, with a value exceeding corn and wheat combined.

Current U.S. policies are based on the fantasy that Americans can somehow make this massive industry go away. But prohibition hasn't stopped marijuana use. Although marijuana use hits peaks and troughs over time, overall consumption of the drug in the United States has risen roughly 4,000 percent rise since the first national ban took effect in 1937. In other words, for 72 years, the U.S. government has in effect granted criminals, including those brutal Mexican gangs, a monopoly on production, distribution, and profits.

TPJ: The same was true of the Netherlands, drug use went up at first but when the novelty of it wore off marijuana use went down.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Obama Doesn't Want Your Guns.

You hear it more and more from the fringes that Obama is ushering in the end of the world and is trying to take away everyone's guns to prevent people from fighting against his "World Domination" plans. My decision to post today on guns and gun control comes mostly from this article:
Ever since the election of President Barack Obama, gun store owners have reported massive increases in sales of firearms and ammunition. Attendees and sellers at Knob Creek can confirm that. Ron Hansen, a retiree from Michigan, grumbles that the ammunition supply at the show has “declined dramatically” since the displays of only a year ago. Myron Moore, a seller making a brisk trade in pistols and clips, explains that sales spiked right after the election and have slipped only a little because people worry this will be their last chance to stock up. “I’m selling everything Obama’s trying to ban,” he laughs.

The noise, loud enough to interrupt a conversation outside of the gates, is deafening inside. Earplugs are not mandatory, only recommended, but everyone has them, from flimsy foam things handed out near the entrance to shapeable rubber plugs on strings to full-coverage, noise-deadening headphones. Every thirty-odd minutes a loud horn blares, and the shooting begins — dozens of Brownings, AK-47s and mini-guns open fire, some with armor-piercing rounds, on a range of broken-down cars, flaming barrels, and metal cans.
TPJ: Does anyone really need an AK-47 besides the military? I know that it doesn't say in the second amendment that you can't own an AK-47 but it also doesn't say that you can own a tank or an nuclear tipped ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile). I'm talking about fully-automatic assault rifles or machine guns not the semi-automatic rifles that are covered in the assault weapons ban. I don't have a problem with people owning semi-automatics as even your regular, old pistol could be considered semi-automatic. Though I do worry how easy it may be to make those semi-autos into full automatics.

However, if you think owning an AK-47 is going to protect you from a government gone totalitarian then you're dreaming. An AK-47 can not compete with M1-Abrams tanks, modern artillery, Blackhawk helicopters, predator drones and the rest of the modern Airforce. Here's is Obama's general view on guns and gun control:

As a general principle, I believe that the Constitution confers an individual right to bear arms. But just because you have an individual right does not mean that the state or local government can’t constrain the exercise of that right, in the same way that we have a right to private property but local governments can establish zoning ordinances that determine how you can use it.

TPJ: That doesn't stop the crazies from whipping each other up in a frenzy of paranoid conspiracy thinking:

This is a place where vendors can sell T-shirts that read “The Fourth Reich: Obama-Biden 2012,” and “Hitler Gave Great Speeches Too..” and, most succinctly, “Fuck Obama.” It’s somewhere for people with hard-to-explain interests in World War II memorabilia can pick up items from Wehrmacht uniforms (”I’m putting the stuff together to make me a German officer,” says a man buying a Wehrmacht officer’s cap), Adolf Hitler mousepads (”Next time… no more Mr. Nice Guy”), and coffee mugs with Nazi commanders’ faces etched on them.

One man asks a vendor if she has any “Impeach Obama” bumper stickers. Initially, he’s open to talking about his problems with the president. “There’s a black man in the White House,” he said. “What else do you need to know?” The Barack Obama “Birthers,” who believe that the president cannot prove that he is an American citizen, were present in a table located close to the main range, near the NRA’s sign-up booth. “He’s an illegal alien!” shouts Theresa Padgett, one of their volunteers. “We have an illegal alien running the country.”

Alan says that he gets the real story on the threat to gun-owners from Mark Koernke, the militia leader who hangs around the show until the end, wearing Swiss camouflage and carrying copies of
“How to Start and Train a Militia Unit.” He thinks that the revolution against the government in Washington and “the corporation of the United States” will begin this year, kicked off by some Lexington and Concord stand-off. He gives one attendee some advice about how to take care of his Mauser. “When this is used in the next war,” Koernke says, “it’ll be part of the victory weapons that liberated America. ‘Yeah, my granddaddy used this in 2011! It was a hell of a fight!’”

TPJ:
It makes me wonder if they WANT this supposed "coming war" as I get the feeling some of these people wouldn't mind instigating something, which is unthinkable. I hope law enforcement is keeping close tabs on some of these people. Of course the vast majority of gun owners are law abiding Americans, reasonable, sane, good people--not all by any stretch are kooks like some of the ones at that gun show. However, what I was trying to convey (in part) by listing those examples is how dangerous that propaganda can be--some of it even being pumped into minds via conservative talk radio.

Take for example the guy in Pennsylvania who gunned down three police officers because he was afraid that President Obama was going to take away his guns using the police as a proxy. There are people out there who are on the edge and amping up the rhetoric that Obama is coming to take away your guns is playing with fire. Obama believes in regulations on firearms, which is only natural when you consider how potentially dangerous they can be. We regulate everything else that has a dangerous potential--including fireworks, alcohol, cars,
etc. so why shouldn't we have sensible regulations on guns?

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Ugandans Immune to HIV/AIDS?

Kampala — A SMALL fraction of Ugandans have been able to naturally knock off HIV from their body, a development that could lead to an HIV vaccine, scientists have said. Dr. Pontiano Kaleebu, an immunologist heading the Basic Sciences Programme of the MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), told Saturday Vision that an ongoing study and a previous one at the institute had unearthed signs that some Ugandans may be resistant to HIV.

They have special white blood cells that can only be produced when the virus attacks the body. However, even with the most sophisticated tests, HIV could not be found in these individuals, implying that the virus had tried to infect them but the immune system kicked it out. At the AIDS Information Centre in Kampala, the UVRI scientists are studying 70 discordant couples to see if some of them are indeed resistant to HIV. These are couples that have had unprotected sex for more than a year, one partner has had HIV for long while the other has not become infected.

"We have set up a clinic in Kampala where doctors and counsellors do a lot of counselling and give them condoms to reduce risky sexual behaviour," Kaleebu said. Prof. Heiner Grosskurth, the Director of the MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS, said: "A lack of ability to becoming HIV infected is extremely rare, but there is evidence meanwhile that people who have this characteristic exist worldwide, although in very small numbers."
Kaleebu cautioned that nearly all people are vulnerable to HIV and Ugandans should not relax simply because a few individuals seem to be resistant to the virus.

"It has to be clear that this apparent resistance is not a common thing. If you are HIV negative and your partner is HIV positive we cannot say you are resistant and you cannot become infected. If you continue to have unprotected sex you might become infected in the long run," said Kaleebu.


TPJ: Could this be human evolution at work? Uganda at one point had one of the highest rates of epidemic from HIV/AIDS at 29% of the population. However, by 2001 the rate was at 5%!!! We know that humans have developed immunities at different occasions in human history and that is evolution at work. Anti-evolution groups often cite why haven't humans evolved wings or something dramatic but first of all evolution is microscopic in nature on a cellular level and can take billions of years. It took ages for humans to evolve from monkey to man so unfortunately for our western, impatient, demand for instant gratification evolution works on its own time.

The evolutionary struggle for survival of the fittest led to the refinement [evolution] of intricate immune systems, including the adaptive immune system. Innate immunity, preformed and directly inherited, is the first line of defense against disease. Click here for another great article on the human evolution of the immune system.

TPJ: Plus, it is my opinion that this discovery blows a hole in the theory of many Christians that HIV/AIDS is punishment by God for homosexuality and for the rest of society for "allowing" homosexuality to exist and even (the horror!!) be tolerated. If HIV/AIDS is a punisment from God for tolerating homosexuality then why are some immune from it regardless of having sex with someone infected? And how would "God" allow someone who is against homosexuality get HIV/AIDS from a partner because the odds suggest that such an instance has happened?

How could someone have (for example) "gay sex" with an infected person with HIV/AIDS and not get sick if HIV/AIDS was sent by "God" to punish just that very thing? Is it possible that the human body found a loop hole in "God's judgement?" Then how can this "God" be all powerful? And if he's not all powerful then why call him "God?"

A long time ago it was the plague, then tuberculosis, then polio, then meases and now HIV/AIDS. It is only a matter of time that we evolve to be able to defeat this disease as well. It's an age old battle between viruses/diseases and human immune systems. Diseases/viruses evolve to get past our drugs, then our immune systems and drugs evolve to defeat the new threat and back and forth it goes.

Anyway, in other news the Vermont legislature has over-ridden the Governor's veto to legalize same-sex marriage!! Yey!! The momentum just keeps picking up after Iowa's decision. I find it interesting and promising that the same-sex marriage movement has only picked up more support and momentum despite the shocking defeat of Prop. 8 in California.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Iowa Court Rules Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional.

By MONICA DAVEY and LIZ ROBBINS
Published: April 3, 2009

DES MOINES — Iowa became the first state in the Midwest to approve same-sex marriage on Friday, after the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously decided that a 1998 law limiting marriage to a man and a woman was unconstitutional. The decision was the culmination of a four-year legal battle that began in the lower courts. The Supreme Court said same-sex marriages could begin in Iowa in as soon as 21 days.

“The Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution,” the justices said in a summary of their decision.

And later in the ruling, they said: “Equal protection under the Iowa Constitution is essentially a direction that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike. Since territorial times, Iowa has given meaning to this constitutional provision, striking blows to slavery and segregation, and recognizing women’s rights. The court found the issue of same-sex marriage comes to it with the same importance as the landmark cases of the past.”

TPJ: Wow!! What a great piece of news!! It seems like the snowball of states legalizing same-sex marriage is growing momentum and hopefully soon will be unstoppable. History is on our side and if we can over come slavery then WE WILL overcome the ugly discrimination of denying marriage and other rights to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

I must say that I'm pleasantly surprised by Iowa being the first midwestern state to approve same-sex marriage. I thought it would have been Illinois or Minnesota but Iowa is really becoming known as a progressive state with giving the big caucus victory to Obama and now this. I just really love the midwest--my parents and many aunts and uncles are from there and many still live there.

I am always inspired by the midwestern values of fairness, decency and reason. Yes there are many other areas of the country with the same values but the midwest will always hold a special place in my heart. Thanks Iowa for standing up for what is right, just and in keeping with the American narrative laid out by our founders that everyone deserves the right to pursue happiness as they see it.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Marijuana Sanity in Connecticut.

|The Hartford Courant On a groundbreaking vote, the [Connecticut] legislature's judiciary committee decided Tuesday night to decriminalize marijuana possession for adults 18 and older who have less than half an ounce of the drug. Under a compromise, the marijuana laws would not change for anyone under 18, and the amount that would be decriminalized was reduced from less than 1 ounce to less than half an ounce. The possession of small amounts would no longer be a crime and would instead be an infraction with a maximum fine of $250 that could be paid like a speeding ticket.

The bill would cut costs for police, courts, public defenders and prosecutors, he said. The legislature's Office of Fiscal Analysis said the 9,928 marijuana arrests in Connecticut in 2007 represented 7 percent of total arrests statewide, and estimated 3,300 of those involved less than 1 ounce.

TPJ: I'd still like to see an eventual legalization but decriminalization is the next best, realistic action.

Some Democratic legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney of New Haven, have been pushing hard this year for decriminalization, saying that doing so could save the state more than $11 million in law enforcement costs annually because far fewer people would be sent to state Superior Court to be overseen by prosecutors and probation officials. If marijuana users were issued a ticket that could be paid by mail, they would no longer need to go to court.

TPJ: Plus the state would gain extra revenue from the tickets. However, the clueless and heartless Governor has already vetoed a bill making medicinal marijuana legal. Then in regards to this bill he uses some interesting "logic" to oppose this bill:

"Whether it's little or a lot, it is an illegal substance, and the governor does not support the bill," Rell's spokesman, Christopher Cooper, said Tuesday night after the vote.

TPJ: Yeah, it is an illegal substance right now and the bill doesn't legalize marijuana but simply reduces it to a minor offense. So how exactly is that not in keeping with maintaining its status as an illegal substance? I think a lot of people who oppose marijuana legalization, decriminalization and its use for medical purposes have never even tried the drug. It seems like too that many don't even look into the evidence but just go with the knee-jerk reaction of sticking with the past because it's "How we've always done things."

Or because they afraid that supporting decriminalization and such would negatively effect their political career despite a large portion of the population calling for changes in our laws toward pot. It is irritating that politicians have inaccurately demonized marijuana and used it as a convenient scapegoat when they want to appear "tough on crime." Well idiots their wouldn't BE any marijuana related crime if it was legal or at least it would be drastically, drastically reduced--not to mention the savings to the tax payer. Republicans and Conservatives should be for decriminalization or legalization for no other reason than the money factor as they seem to love money so much.

Plus I find it confusing as to why Republicans and conservatives (who are supposedly for protecting the rights of the individual to live their life how they wish) can oppose either medicinal marijuana laws, decriminalization or legalization? Do these people remember the prohibition of alcohol in the early days of the 20th century and how much unnecessary crime it created? Alcohol is a drug too and in many, many ways much worse for a person and society in general than marijuana. If you honestly look into the marijuana debate then you will see how draconian, antiquated and unrealistic our stance against pot really is.

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