Tuesday, October 26, 2010

CA Prop 19: For Real Tokers?

We have some very exciting propositions this year in California, like Prop 19, which would make marijuana use legal. Surprising enough, this issue is backed by people you wouldn't expect, like moms and businessmen (and probably our state government that's very broke and wants to tax the hell out of marijuana). This proposition has some unlikely opponents as well, including some regular users. But generally speaking, this Proposition has also generated a lot of ads and sensation.
But, this proposition will not be a free for all for pot users (and those who just want to try it, and those who are "holding it for someone"). There will be regulations on the pot. First of all, only people 21 or over could legally buy and posses the marijuana (theoretically). You are only allowed to posses one ounce of marijuana for personal use, you can only smoke it on a private residence or a place licensed for on site marijuana consumption, and you can only grow it at home in a 25 square foot area for personal use. Also, the government will regulate it by taxes, where and when and how it can be sold, and how it can be transported.
Basically, the proposition will make marijuana a business, which goes against the history marijuana has played as going against "the man", taking a stand against government, and generally leading a bohemian or artistic lifestyle, which is why some "real" tokers (as opposed to posers who aren't anti-establishment) are angry with this bill. They, first of all, don't want marijuana to be a business and don't want it part of mainstream society. They are also angry because it will be taxed and the price will go drastically down, so they won't be able to make a profit. They are also afraid of loosing some exotic types of marijuana, since the business will be regulated. Now, there are also some people who think this is a good proposition in the mainstream. People think that if it's legalized we'll have less illegal gang activity and the government can control it. The government as well is thinking they can tax this and make some much needed revenue.
The effects of this prop could potentially be tremendous. First of all, if it becomes legal here it opens the door for other states to legalize it as well. And we cannot forget the tiny issue of the Supreme Court making it illegal to sell medical marijuana (let alone marijuana). One question we need to ask is, will, if this prop passes, the President enforce the Supreme Court's decision. Then we have the whole problem of more people will be smoking it if it's legal because the prices will drop (because it's readily available) and therefore it's cheaper to buy. Why do we want more people addicted to drugs? I don't get it. It seems like the government is profiting off people's pain and addictions. Sure cigarettes are legal, but the effects of cigarettes aren't as harmful as marijuana. Marijuana kills your brian cells and addiction to it can ruin your life. Another qualm I have with it is that there is no way the government can control every aspect of this. Marijuana use will be running rampant and people will be smoking while driving as well as in public (giving people contact highs). Sure, the police will try to control it, but they can't be everywhere at once. Do we really need more dead teens, mothers, children, and husbands because of high drivers? No. Also, this will bring even more drug dealers into our cities, and with it crime and fights. My last point, I think legalizing something that does so much harm to people's lives (as well as their bodies) should not be endorsed by the government.
`All in all, I very much disagree with Prop 19 and will definitely be voting NO on November 2. I believe Anya was pro prop 19, so she might have a rebuttal to this post

To check out a funny story of two journalists getting high because the city attorney (of LA) asked them to read here for part one and here for part two

Oh, and please vote, if you're able, on November 2. It's very important!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Nevada Senate Debate Recap

(Was there any hope of me getting any calculus done with CSPAN on? Of course not! On that note: can you be addicted to CSPAN? I have a feeling I'm well on my way. Anyway.)

Harry Reid was a train wreck.  And I'm saying this as a diehard liberal who has appreciated Reid's work in the Senate for years and who thinks Angle is a bit of a nutcase.  Reid was full of traditional Senate-speak (Dude, if you're going to mention the CBO three times in as many minutes, at least do the non-political-junkies in the audience a favor and explain that it means 'Congressional Budget Office'), dated himself constantly (people don't want to be reminded that he's a Washington creature), and missed beautiful golden opportunities to attack Angle on education and Social Security.  And don't even get me started on his weird description of colonoscopies (EW!) or his painful 'watch me fumble for my notes and then rush through a few talking points' closing statement.

Sharron Angle, on the other hand, benefitted from the incredibly low expectations everyone had for her. She only had to come across as mildly competent for her to be able to chalk this up as a win.  Is anyone else appalled at the low standard we have set for the lady who's likely to be our next senator from Nevada?  Most of her answers were very obviously canned one-liners (I literally fell out of my chair when she brought out the "man up, Harry Reid!"), which makes it even more pathetic that she basically trounced Reid on many questions.

Overall, I don't think either Reid or Angle clearly won the debate.  Which, in this case, means that Angle won.  Normally in debates with no clear winner I'd award the debate to the incumbent, but this is a special occasion.  Voters, after all, are looking for an excuse to get rid of Reid (which is why a large part of Angle's campaign has been to say 'Whatever Reid did, I won't do).  They don't really care about Angle's Social Security flip-flopping, or her bizarre ideas about getting rid of the Department of Education and the EPA.

So, what does this mean for the election?  I don't know that either candidate did well enough to sway a significant number of voters -- or even really any voters -- to their side.  Actually, I think that if any candidate benefitted from the debate, it's that quirky, special-to-Nevada "none of the above".  Heck, if I had the chance (read: if I lived in Nevada instead of Massachusetts and was old enough to legally vote) I'd pick "none of the above".  I do think though that if Democrats manage to retain control of the Senate they'll think twice before keeping Reid as majority leader.

Drinking game buzzwords (I was drinking tea, y'all, get your minds out of the gutter ;D): Reid -- "Extreme", and all its variations.  Angle -- "Obamacare", "Ronald Reagan", "Unconstitutional"

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why Democrats Will Lose in November

To start off, let me just say that I hope I'm massively wrong about this.  I'm a Democrat and a committed progressive, and I die a little bit inside as poll after poll comes out shifting more House and Senate races towards the Republicans.  And not just the Olympia Snowe Republicans, the "yeah, it sucks that they usually vote party line, but at least they can be counted on to have common sense" Republicans.  No, these races are shifting to Rand "The Civil Rights Act is unconstitutional" Paul, Christine "I use campaign donations to pay for my house" O'Donnell, Sharron "let's allow preachers to endorse candidates from the pulpit" Angle, Jim "Single mothers and gay people shouldn't be allowed to teach in public schools" DeMint, and Joe "Social Security has stolen all my money from me" Miller.  Scared yet?  That's how they want you to feel.

Now, pop quiz: How many Democratic candidates have such easily recognizable positions?  They don't even have to be as far out as these ones, just . . . recognizable.  If you answered "none", sad to say, I'm right there with you.  Democratic candidates are unwilling to embrace with such fervor their positions and programs that they've worked on these past two years.  Why?  Because the Republicans have succeeded in spinning programs like TARP (which wasn't even an Obama program), the bailout, and the healthcare bill as evils.   People who say "TARP worked!" or "The healthcare bill is going to help bring about better lives for us and our children" aren't heard, because that's not what the public wants to hear.  It doesn't make good stories.  The airwaves are a battlefield, TV ads are skirmishes, and oftentimes I feel like Democrats have surrendered before even trying to fight.

If Democrats lose badly in November, it won't just be because the party who hold the presidency usually loses in midterms.  It will be because they have been unwilling to embrace their successes.  It will be because they have let the Republicans take their accomplishments and spin them into unrecognizable caricatures of themselves.  Republicans laugh off climate change, refuse to accept equality for gays and lesbians, paint TARP and the bailouts as failures, and flat-out lie about some of the most important issues  facing America.  And, somehow, all the Democrats can come up with is "Things are awful now, but they'll be worse with the Republicans in charge"?  Well, guess what, people should have a very clear picture of what America would be like with the Republicans in charge just based on their ads.  We don't need all the Democratic ads to be saying that.

We need Democrats to be out there counter-spinning the Republicans.  We need them to be a voice for truth, for justice.  We don't need all of their negative ads that just repeat "so-and-so outsourced jobs, so-and-so's a birther" because we already know that from said candidate's own statements.  What the Democrats should be doing is talking about their achievements.  We need Barbara Boxer talking about her environmental protection legislational achievements, Harry Reid to talk about why healthcare is good, Kirsten Gillibrand to talk about her leadership on repealing DADT.  Democrats don't need to show why Republicans are worse, they need to show why they are better.  And yes, those are two very different things.  Let the Christine O'Donnell's self-immolate on their own pyres of ludicrousness.  You don't need to do their jobs for them.

If Democrats lose in November, it won't be because the Republicans have more mainstream appeal, or better ideas on how to fix the country.  It will be because they lost the media/PR war.