Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More on Drugs

Two days ago I posted a small e-book and a video on the evils of our drug war and the response has been overwhelming. Between my channel and a pirated version we are cruising steadily towards 1,000 views on Youtube. The e-book is now the #2 war on drugs book of any kind on Amazon. There are a couple of arguments I wish I had addressed better in the book or the video, and I also failed to suggest any next steps for the interested. This blog post is an attempt to address those gaps.

First the arguments.

My stuff does a decent job of pointing to the failures and injustices of the system, but it falls down on the broader philosophical implications, which I care deeply about. This video does a great job, and is worthy of your attention and re-posting:

The e-book touches briefly on the fact that our local police departments are becoming paramilitary organizations. This article does a great job of outlining the full horror of it.

Beginning with the Military Cooperation and Law Enforcement Act of 1981, the Pentagon gave local and state police access to surplus military equipment for purposes of drug interdiction. By 1997, local police departments around the country had stockpiled 1.2 million pieces of gear, including thousands of military-style M-16 automatic rifles, body armor, helmets, grenade launchers, night vision goggles, even armored personnel carriers and helicopters.
This arms build-up is out of all proportion to any conceivable threat, and is used exclusively to terrorize American citizens. It strikes me as reminiscent of the growth of local military forces in Lebanon, prior to their disastrous civil war. Thankfully nothing similar seems in prospect in the US, but if it were, the necessary materials are now dispersed throughout the country.

On that depressing note, on to possible actions.

NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana laws is the granddaddy of drug policy organizations. They have been operating for over 40 years. Their website suggests a number of possible actions.

The Drug Policy Alliance is a somewhat newer, slicker organization. They take a more comprehensive view. They go beyond marijuana legalization to focus on potential treatment options and new approaches to our nation's drug problem.

Both of these organizations are worthy of your support. They are working to establish a saner, safer, and more just country.

Thanks to all for the interest and support, and I hope you will keep tuning in as I put out more videos in the coming weeks.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The First American Century

Historians and social theorists like to talk about the 20th Century as "The American Century". The United States was the most important country in the world economically, politically, and certainly militarily. Our armies waged wars across the globe, our pop culture defined modernity, and the buying habits of our people made or broke the fortunes of billions. We were, and for now remain, the first dominant country with truly global reach.

The benefits of this power have been immense. Our position as the world's reserve currency alone has given us all kinds of leverage on the world stage. The benefits and necessity of this position are debatable, but our nattering classes seem agreed that it is something worth preserving. Some degree of fretting about our loss of position is a punditry stand-by. A think tank called Project for a New American Century had a lot to do with the policies of the Bush Administration. The financial crisis has led to resignation. The conventional wisdom is that our dominant position is about to be surrendered to China. Our golden historical moment is about to pass.

Well I am here to tell you that a new American Century is already here. American Dominance will continue, but in a new form. America is not just North America, and certainly not just the United States. Stacked up against China's 1.2 billion people, our 300 million doesn't look like much. The American Hemisphere's nearly 1 billion people stack up very well however. The individual wealth of these near billion people far surpasses that of China. US GDP may be eclipsed by China by the 2030s. China may never surpass the GDP of the American continents. With the resources of Canada and Venezuela, among others, the American continents have the potential to be self-sufficient in oil. The Old World has to deal with the debilitating poverty of billions in the African, Indian and Chinese hinterlands. The New World has to deal with the debilitating poverty of scant millions in Haiti and other countries. They have North Korea with its Nukes to appease, we have Cuba with its... cigars? As South and Central America become richer, the foreign policy interests of its constituent countries will come to align more and more closely with ours. These countries have the potential to be tremendously more valuable allies than stagnant Europe.

We in the US now have a choice. We can choose to lead this new century of American dominance by looking for ways to work with the other countries in the hemisphere. Trade agreements, environmental stuff, and law enforcement cooperation are all lovely, but we have two large stumbling blocks to over-come before this new century of American dominance can begin. The first is Immigration. This has largely solved itself demographically( see below), but a legal system that actually reflects reality might not be a bad idea. The other major stumbling block is the Drug War. We simply cannot move forward as a hemisphere until we abandon this ridiculous charade. As much as it hurts us, it has been disastrous for our southern neighbors. We will never be able to move forward as a hemisphere, until we deal with it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our experts are idiots...

This article by "Middle East Expert" Daniel Pipes has made me angry enough to blog again after four years. My four months as a not-too-observant tourist in Turkey have led me to believe he has absolutely no idea what he is talking about.

Calling Turkey's current Kurd issues a "crescendo" as compared with the full on civil war of the mid-90s is a joke.

I have now spent time in Turkey's two most religious cities, Konya and Sanliurfa. In both of these cities I have seen outfits on women that would have raised eyebrows in the trashiest neighborhoods of Washington, DC. To call Turkey "Islamist" is to broaden the definition beyond the point at which it has meaning. It's just a scary word to use on the simple-minded.

Yes, AK Prime Minister Erdogan has some troubling views. That does not mean we should lament Turkey's transition to full democracy.

Turks don't much like Israel. Not particularly surprising considering their main influences are Islam and historically anti-semitic Europe. Frankly a Turkey that follows the consensus on that issue is a better partner for us. Following the Islamic party line, of outraged impotence, means they are better positioned to export the benign parts of their model to Arabia. There is no question of them actually getting into a military engagement with Israel outside of the fantasies of children like Daniel Pipes. The financial critique was boring. I got lost halfway through his source material. If the past five years have shown anything, it is that the folks making economic predictions have no idea what they're talking about. In any case, we are hardly the people to be lecturing folks on fiscal responsibility. This article fits into the sad, stupid genre of "why don't they do exactly what we say anymore!?!?!?" Turkey articles that I have no sympathy with.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Writers of the World Unite.

Yay, Writing. I suppose I should be doing more of it.

Here's an excuse (not that I'm making much progress on this either).

I'm pretty reflexively anti-union, but knowing people on the picket lines does build sympathy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Immigration Solved

Quite simple really.

The bar at the bottom will bring you through the years. 20 years from now we are going to be hurting for cheap labor. I say pack 'em in now. Next Issue?

If you've not seen the film describing this tool, you should.


The guy in this video is clearly meant to be a Thriller-era Michael Jackson.

Two Views of Los Angeles.

Found a Seductive post on LA through Dynamist on Thursday.

Everything there somehow precedes you, even new construction sites, and it's bigger than you and more abstract than you and indifferent to you. You don't matter. You're free.
Read the whole thing. I sent this to a friend, suggesting that it made me want to visit LA. Her reaction was interesting.

Really? I thought it was a cute piece, but I have to say I disagree. Yes -- eating your cheetos and watching a soap opera marathon on the TiVo is oh so glorious -- but the truth is this town judges you constantly -- in every possible way. The guy was right when he calls LA the void and the apocalypse. It is certainly those things. But I don't find anything to celebrate in that. It is existentialism solidified. If nothing matters then life is worthless, and I'd rather not go through life in hopelessness. To Apathy I say "meh..". The reason people just do whatever the fuck they want in southern california is because they don't give a fuck about anyone or anything else. That's a bad thing.