Monday, March 16, 2009

Oh, No You Don't

I know lots of folks on the left are somewhere between disappointed in and royally pissed off at Chris Dodd, but we Democrats here in the 2nd CD of Connecticut worked too hard, too recently, to get rid of Rob Simmons to let this happen.

My first real active involvement in politics began in 2006, and one of the key elements in waking me up was a (then) high school kid who put up a blog called Bye Bye, Rob, devoted to helping Joe Courtney take Simmons' place in the House. Having successfully said bye bye, I'm not inclined to say howdy to Simmons in 2010.

This is just the beginning, of course, but unless someone can show me a Democrat who can beat Dodd, and beat Simmons, and deliver more for progressives than Dodd has over the years, I know who I'll be supporting for Senate in 2010.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

First Drugs, Now Sex; Can Rock and Roll Be Far Behind?

After yesterday's revelation that federal agents would no longer raid medical marijuana distributors that are operating legally under state law, now comes word that talks have begun on ending the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy regarding gays in the military.

It's like I said: Quietly, without fanfare, we're seeing the basic attitudes of our government change for the better. Republicans may fear an activist government; I cheer one that increasingly treats me like an adult.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Is It Polite To Say "No Shit, Sherlock!" to the SecDef?

Because that's the only response I can think of to this headline:

Gates: Obama is ‘more analytical’ than Bush.

Nice to have a master of understatement leading our forces, eh? Actually, now that I think about it, it is nice to have a master of understatement leading our forces.

Not With a Bong, But a Whimper

The Michael Phelps/bong hit story broke during my recent blogging interregnum, so I haven't had a chance to favor you with my thoughts on the matter. I don't actually have a dog in this fight: I don't smoke pot, and with the exception of a tiny handful of furtive, youthful experiments, I never have. That said, I thought all the hoohaw over the picture of Phelps with a bong was ridiculous.

Understand: Pot is not a performance-enhancing drug (maybe for archers or biathletes, but not swimmers!), nor (by all accounts) is it banned by FINA outside of competition... so there was no issue of "cheating," a la the steroid and human growth hormone revelations in baseball or the blood doping and erythropoietin (EPO) scandals in cycling. Further, while I doubt anybody would claim with a straight face that the infamous picture doesn't show Phelps actually smoking pot, it certainly doesn't constitute clear evidence that he was: There's no way to prove, from the photo alone, that there was pot (or anything, for that matter) in the bong. So it's not surprising that authorities declined to prosecute him.

In fact, it's shocking that they would even think about it: Under South Carolina law, possession of an ounce or less is a misdemeanor. I would never argue that Phelps should get special favors because of his fame, but he shouldn't be harassed because of it, either... and when was the last time you heard of a "regular person" being prosecuted because a photo of him possibly committing a simple misdemeanor showed up on teh intertoobz months after the fact? Let's be serious, shall we?

Ahh, but the Richland Country sheriff apparently has a rep to maintain as a Miami Vice-style crusader against "drug crime." Not for nothin', but haven't we had about enough of law enforcement from the Carolinas trying to make a name for itself on the backs of prominent athletes? And isn't calling this a "drug crime" a bit hyperbolic anyway? What Phelps did was partake of a mild intoxicant while enjoying himself at a party. If it had been a beer or a glass of wine (or a Sardonic Buddha), nobody would've thought a thing of it. And if we had halfway rational laws on this point, the law would treat it just as if it were a beer or a glass of wine.

Well maybe, just maybe, we're getting a little more rational. In the wake of the Phelps story, Rob Kall of the Huffington Post suggested that it might hint at a turning point in drug policy; today, relatively quietly amid the continuing cacophony of economic woes and the gathering budget battle, comes word that the federal government will no longer raid distributors of medical marijuana in states where it is legal. It's not legalization, nor is it exactly an earthshattering shift in policy... but I think it represents a shift in attitude, a move away from the stern-daddy disapproval of conservative rule, that will eventually lead to liberalization of social policy on many fronts. Every journey begins with but a single step, after all.

To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, "this is the way a policy ends."

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Funny How Time Slips Away

I really don't have much to say about the passing of Paul Harvey... but it was a shock, when I heard the news tonight, to realize how long it's been since I last actually heard that iconic voice. I still hear it in my head, and have often imitated it, when promising to tell someone the rest... of the story.