07 September 2006

American Foreign Policy as Political Failure

In this video, Robert Kuttner, Founding Editor of The American Prospect, discusses the failures of American foreign policy and ways to improve it. I found this while digging through Google Video recently. Bob's analysis is dead-on, timely and profound. Be sure to note that he is not reading from a script and that most of this speech is off of the top of his head. His fourthcoming book should be out of this world.

06 September 2006

Khatami, Clowns, Romney and His Troopers.

Today, Boston.com posted a question to its readers:

"Governor Mitt Romney declared yesterday he would not allow any state resources to be used to protect a former Iranian president during his visit to the Boston area this weekend, and he sharply criticized Harvard University for inviting Mohammed Khatami to speak on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Do you think the governor is doing the right thing?"

Needless to say, some of the responses were outrageous:

From 2004Sox: “how can you not agree with Romney? Unless you love tyrants who despise democracy and are anti-semitic and would like to see America lose the war on terror. Harvard is giving camp to a wolf in sheeps clothing. they are immoral and degenerates. basically, harvard is saying that tyrants and dictators without regard for other cultures and POVs have a legitimate voice at the table of civilization. Unbelievable.”

From Titmouse: “I agree with Farty - Romney should instruct the State police to arrest his @ss and charge him with terrorism charge you'd like, but only after we've allowed every 9/11 victim's family to kick him in the nuts (if he has any nuts, which I doubt). Shame on Harvard but what would you expect from an anti-Israel, racist institution? This is right in line with their publicly expressed beliefs.”

The number one reason why I love the 1st ammedment is the humor that it brings to my life on a daily basis. I wish these were fringe view points, but they are not. I can’t say that I am shocked by these responses, but I am shocked that these people read, well…anything, and there are many more where this came from.

No, I do not agree with Mitt and I am not surprised by the move, politically. It is a no lose for him. The BPD (who don’t have jurisdiction in Cambridge) will provide security, as well as some from the State Department and personal guards. However, the last thing in the world that Boston/Massachusetts needs is an international incident, and offering troopers as protection would help to prevent that. Thanks Mitt, we’re counting the seconds until January. Also, I can’t wait until the spring of 2007 when you get destroyed in the primary, once the South catches wind of your special underwear and that whole Jesus and the Native Americans thing, best of luck.

In regards to Mohammed Khatami’s trip to Harvard; I know this may be a shock to some of the uninformed clowns who replied to this post, but Mohammed Khatami is not the same person as current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And dear god, neither of them had anything to do with 9/11. Where did that idea come from? Oh right, they’re all the same. Khatami’s time in office was marked by a dramatic shift in Iranian foreign policy from confrontation to conciliation. He is a moderate (very moderate by Iranian standards); he seeks a dialogue with the West, much unlike the jabs being thrown between Ahmadinejad and Bush. Khatami is a man with political and philosophical credibility in the Middle East, who has some new ideas to stabilize region, thank god. How can the Kennedy School not offer him a forum? How can the some of the uniformed, ignorant, blowhards of this city criticize them for it? What about the free speech and diplomacy? Oh right, Fox News/Drudge, etc. now I remember.

05 September 2006

An Incredible Discussion

 The folks over at Blue Mass Group have outdone themselves this afternoon with a lengthy and informative (and informed) discussion of charter schools, pilot schools and public schools in Massachusetts. As I've never studied education policy and have only taught at the pre-kindergarten level (and not in Massachusetts, at that), I've got nothing to add but feel obligated to mention it and pass it along. Perhaps once I've digested the information, I'll have an opinion on the matter but at the moment, I'm simply glad to have learned more about an important issue facing Massachusetts generally and Boston in particular.

I'll write my own opinion soon.

I do have my own intesting things to say, I swear. I'm brewing up a hum dinger of a combo post, for the 1 year anniversary of Katrina and 5 year of 9/11. Specifically, why America needs "Katrina: Never Forget" bumper stickers, because it looks like these colors do in fact run.
In lue of a real posting, I want to share the latest from the unfortunatly titled blog, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Canniabis:

Top 10 Pot Studies The Government Wished It Had Never Funded

10) MARIJUANA USE HAS NO EFFECT ON MORTALITY: A massive study of California HMO members funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found marijuana use caused no significant increase in mortality. Tobacco use was associated with increased risk of death. Sidney, S et al. Marijuana Use and Mortality. American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 87 No. 4, April 1997. p. 585-590. Sept. 2002.

9) HEAVY MARIJUANA USE AS A YOUNG ADULT WON’T RUIN YOUR LIFE: Veterans Affairs scientists looked at whether heavy marijuana use as a young adult caused long-term problems later, studying identical twins in which one twin had been a heavy marijuana user for a year or longer but had stopped at least one month before the study, while the second twin had used marijuana no more than five times ever. Marijuana use had no significant impact on physical or mental health care utilization, health-related quality of life, or current socio-demographic characteristics. Eisen SE et al. Does Marijuana Use Have Residual Adverse Effects on Self-Reported Health Measures, Socio-Demographics or Quality of Life? A Monozygotic Co-Twin Control Study in Men. Addiction. Vol. 97 No. 9. p.1083-1086. Sept. 1997

8) THE "GATEWAY EFFECT" MAY BE A MIRAGE: Marijuana is often called a "gateway drug" by supporters of prohibition, who point to statistical "associations" indicating that persons who use marijuana are more likely to eventually try hard drugs than those who never use marijuana — implying that marijuana use somehow causes hard drug use. But a model developed by RAND Corp. researcher Andrew Morral demonstrates that these associations can be explained "without requiring a gateway effect." More likely, this federally funded study suggests, some people simply have an underlying propensity to try drugs, and start with what’s most readily available. Morral AR, McCaffrey D and Paddock S. Reassessing the Marijuana Gateway Effect. Addiction. December 2002. p. 1493-1504.

7) PROHIBITION DOESN’T WORK (PART I): The White House had the National Research Council examine the data being gathered about drug use and the effects of U.S. drug policies. NRC concluded, "the nation possesses little information about the effectiveness of current drug policy, especially of drug law enforcement." And what data exist show "little apparent relationship between severity of sanctions prescribed for drug use and prevalence or frequency of use." In other words, there is no proof that prohibition — the cornerstone of U.S. drug policy for a century — reduces drug use. National Research Council. Informing America’s Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don’t Know Keeps Hurting Us. National Academy Press, 2001. p. 193.

6) PROHIBITION DOESN’T WORK (PART II: DOES PROHIBITION CAUSE THE "GATEWAY EFFECT"?): U.S. and Dutch researchers, supported in part by NIDA, compared marijuana users in San Francisco, where non-medical use remains illegal, to Amsterdam, where adults may possess and purchase small amounts of marijuana from regulated businesses. Looking at such parameters as frequency and quantity of use and age at onset of use, they found no differences except one: Lifetime use of hard drugs was significantly lower in Amsterdam, with its "tolerant" marijuana policies. For example, lifetime crack cocaine use was 4.5 times higher in San Francisco than Amsterdam. Reinarman, C, Cohen, PDA, and Kaal, HL. The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy: Cannabis in Amsterdam and San Francisco. American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 94, No. 5. May 2004. p. 836-842.

5) OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER (PART I): Federal researchers implanted several types of cancer, including leukemia and lung cancers, in mice, then treated them with cannabinoids (unique, active components found in marijuana). THC and other cannabinoids shrank tumors and increased the mice’s lifespans. Munson, AE et al. Antineoplastic Activity of Cannabinoids. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Sept. 1975. p. 597-602.

4) OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER, (PART II): In a 1994 study the government tried to suppress, federal researchers gave mice and rats massive doses of THC, looking for cancers or other signs of toxicity. The rodents given THC lived longer and had fewer cancers, "in a dose-dependent manner" (i.e. the more THC they got, the fewer tumors). NTP Technical Report On The Toxicology And Carcinogenesis Studies Of 1-Trans- Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, CAS No. 1972-08-3, In F344/N Rats And B6C3F(1) Mice, Gavage Studies. See also, "Medical Marijuana: Unpublished Federal Study Found THC-Treated Rats Lived Longer, Had Less Cancer," AIDS Treatment News no. 263, Jan. 17, 1997.

3) OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER (PART III): Researchers at the Kaiser-Permanente HMO, funded by NIDA, followed 65,000 patients for nearly a decade, comparing cancer rates among non-smokers, tobacco smokers, and marijuana smokers. Tobacco smokers had massively higher rates of lung cancer and other cancers. Marijuana smokers who didn’t also use tobacco had no increase in risk of tobacco-related cancers or of cancer risk overall. In fact their rates of lung and most other cancers were slightly lower than non-smokers, though the difference did not reach statistical significance. Sidney, S. et al. Marijuana Use and Cancer Incidence (California, United States). Cancer Causes and Control. Vol. 8. Sept. 1997, p. 722-728.

2) OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER (PART IV): Donald Tashkin, a UCLA researcher whose work is funded by NIDA, did a case-control study comparing 1,200 patients with lung, head and neck cancers to a matched group with no cancer. Even the heaviest marijuana smokers had no increased risk of cancer, and had somewhat lower cancer risk than non-smokers (tobacco smokers had a 20-fold increased lung cancer risk). Tashkin D. Marijuana Use and Lung Cancer: Results of a Case-Control Study. American Thoracic Society International Conference. May 23, 2006.

1) MARIJUANA DOES HAVE MEDICAL VALUE: In response to passage of California’s medical marijuana law, the White House had the Institute of Medicine (IOM) review the data on marijuana’s medical benefits and risks. The IOM concluded, "Nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting, and all can be mitigated by marijuana." While noting potential risks of smoking, the report added, "we acknowledge that there is no clear alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana, such as pain or AIDS wasting." The government’s refusal to acknowledge this finding caused co-author John A. Benson to tell the New York Times that the government "loves to ignore our report … they would rather it never happened." Joy, JE, Watson, SJ, and Benson, JA. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. National Academy Press. 1999. p. 159. See also, Harris, G. FDA Dismisses Medical Benefit From Marijuana. New York Times. Apr. 21, 2006