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Give vets access to medical marijuana

by Dan Burns on March 6, 2015 · 0 comments

CANNAB~1The obvious problem here (along with the slim chance of getting anything so reasonable through this Congress) is “in states that have legalized medical marijuana.” Since federal law supersedes state law, it should be a relatively simple matter to allow veterans everywhere access. In states where there is no legal distribution network for weed, they can mail it in from elsewhere. Even from Minnesota, before much longer.

If a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers have their way, doctors in states that have legalized medical marijuana will soon be able to recommend the plant to military veterans who suffer from serious injuries and a host of chronic conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The Veterans Equal Access Act – reintroduced in the House of Representatives on (February 3) – would give doctors in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) leeway in recommending the use of medical marijuana to military veterans.
The law as it currently stands prohibits VA doctors from advising patients to use cannabis for medical purposes. While more than 20 states allow the medical use of marijuana, only 10 states and Guam authorize doctors to prescribe it as treatment for PTSD.
(Think Progress)

That article references a lack of clinical studies. Plenty of PTSD sufferers say that marijuana helps. That’s all I need to hear.


hamlins_wizard_oil_netFebruary was a tough month for a liberal in Minnesota.


First, we had the ineffable mid-month public dust-up between Majority Leader Tom Bakk and Governor Dayton. Ineffable, as in impossible to explain.


I was taught from a very young age to keep family fights behind closed doors because — you never know — there might be a few Orangemen lurking about. In fact, in my neighborhood growing up, the hausfrau’s always hung the undies on the inside lines between the bedsheets. And they grew the backyard lilacs tall. They didn’t want the neighbors to know the family wore underwear, I guess. That’s how closely people conducted their private affairs.


Might could be that Bakk and Dayton could learn from their example. But Hey! — who am I to judge? If our honorable leaders at the Capitol want to act like a couple of boozy bruisers from the Marshall Street scrap yards slugging it out at Frank’s Stand-up over a 25-cent tune on the jukebox, it ain’t really my business. Just don’t spill my beer.


Except, of course, that it makes the party look bad.


So, already burdened with lengthy bout of dyspesia, which I had just about suppressed herbally with thrice daily doses of Moroccan Mint tea ($3.79 at better grocers everywhere), along comes the budget surplus announcement, which is projected to be $1.86 billion as opposed to the $832 million projected in the last forecast. An increase in funds available of $1.03 billion.


Now, that should have been ‘A Good Thing’, as Martha Stewart liked to say about insider dope before she did prison time for stock fraud. In earlier times, politicians on both sides of the aisle would have thrown their arms in the air and erupted with cheers and vigorous back-slapping all ’round. Yay! Minnesota is back on the road to Fourple-A bond ratings, expansive job growth and increasing prosperity for everyone! Let’s all be real happy!


But, no; sadly, no. It took a veteran whitebread buzzkill like Speaker Kurt Daudt to fug-up the festive mood by injecting partisanship into the announcement and simultaneously squander all the careful work I’d put in to drown-out the bellyfire that the Bakk-Dayton flap had ignited. That’s known to Coolers in the Vegas casino’s as a twofer. Maybe that’s where Daudt’s real talents lay. 


snakeoil2“Part of this economic confidence,” Daudt told reporters with a straight face, “is there is balance restored in state government.”


With that statement, I knew instantly that I’d have to bring up the heavy guns and elevate the alimentary counter-assault to Kaopectate® milkshakes morning and night to have any hope of victory. Still, I tried desparately to follow Speaker Daudt’s logic: since January 6, 2015 — a little more than seven weeks of “balanced” government (when T-Paw was gubner, they called it “divided” government) — economic confidence among consumers has been restored to the tune of an extra Billion-Plus dollars in tax revenues? Is that really what he’s claiming?

  More Below the Fold


Despicable crap from gun nuts

by Dan Burns on March 5, 2015 · 1 comment

1512828_845205385490441_7641497850566305413_nThese crazies never stop. The most recent insanity that I‘ve seen:

National Rifle Association radio and television host Cam Edwards claimed that people who argue against concealed carry as a solution to rape on college campuses “are OK with” sexual assaults that could supposedly be prevented by guns.
At least 10 state legislatures are considering NRA-backed legislation to allow students to carry concealed guns on campus, and advocates for guns on campus have increasingly argued that arming students will help address the epidemic of campus sexual assault. Critics have pointed out that, among many other problems with this argument, campus sexual assaults often involve alcohol…
A 2002 study in the Journal of American College Health by researchers affiliated with the Harvard School of Public Health found that students who keep guns at college are more likely to engage in risky or illegal behavior. Specifically, they wrote, “Compared with students who did not have a firearm at college, those who had a firearm were more likely to be male (85% vs 43%); to be White (91% vs 72%); to live off campus (86% vs 57%); to live with a significant other (16% vs 8%); to drive a motor vehicle after binge drinking (27% vs 9%); to have unprotected sex when under the influence of alcohol (17% vs 10%); to vandalize property (21% vs 10%); and to get into trouble with the police (10% vs 6%).” The authors also addressed the interplay between binge drinking and violent behavior, concluding, “Given that alcohol is widely thought to contribute to violent behavior generally and to a majority of college student suicides, rapes, and other violent crimes, we find it quite troubling that almost two thirds of students with guns at college report binge drinking.”
(Media Matters)

This is the most comprehensive, definitive article ripping apart everything that the gun creeps claim, that I’ve ever seen:

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This Guy Wants to be President — Exxon edition

by Eric Ferguson on March 4, 2015 · 0 comments

clowncarI might as well own up right away that the headline is a bit misleading, as only one of these stories involves Exxon. Well, someone has to be in Exxon’s pocket. The Koch brothers surely can’t squeeze in everybody. Then again, the Kochs and Exxon are part of the same oil oligopoly and between them do much to keep global warming denying funded, and the subject of the second story is infamous for Koch-pocket inhabiting, so please undulge some stretching in an effort at cleverness. Anyway, New Jersey governor Chris Christie let Exxon pay $250 milion after suing for $8.9 billion in damages.

I can appreciate why, when it comes to the Christie administration, the assorted controversies can be tough to keep track of, but this story is raising questions that deserve answers.
A judge was poised to rule on damages, and New Jersey was seeking $8.9 billion – $2.6 billion to help restore the damaged areas and $6.3 billion in compensatory damages. The fact that Exxon was responsible was not even at issue anymore.
And then the Christie administration decides it’ll settle for $250 million, most of which the governor can now apply to his state budget shortfall – rather than, say, environmental recovery.

Essentially, with the lawsuit successfully fought to the point where culpability was established and they were down to the money, Christie suddenly decided his state could give up billions to the benefit of Exxon, which made roughly $32 billion in net profit last year, while his state government, like pretty much all states run by Republicans, is short of cash. I guess if the Kochs have given their affections elsewhere, Christie needs to find a sugar daddy where he can.


Kurt Daudt makes like Mitch McConnell

by Dan Burns on March 4, 2015 · 0 comments

daudtThat would be Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown).

“I think that part of this economic confidence has to do with the fact that there’s balance restored in state government,” he told an incredulous capitol press corps Friday.
Pioneer Press reporter Rachel Stassen-Berger immediately asked Daudt to go ahead and expand on that notion.
“Can you reiterate that theory? The theory that this forecast is good because the Republicans now have the House and there’s balance restored to the capitol? Tell me more about that,” she said, wearing the amused smirk of a teacher listening to a student recount how the dog did, in fact, eat his homework.
(City Pages)

“After so many years of sluggish growth, we’re finally starting to see some economic data that can provide a glimmer of hope,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged in floor remarks (January 6). “The uptick appears to coincide with the biggest political change of the Obama Administration’s long tenure in Washington: the expectation of a new Republican Congress.”
(The New Republic)

For me, the most significant story of this session so far isn’t the overhyped “rural/urban divide;” it’s the inexplicable lefty behavior from some Republicans. Though that hasn’t been getting much attention what with corporate media’s tiresome (if at times perhaps not entirely undeserved) focus on DFL-bashing. In any case, if it is some kind of communal thing among the GOP, Daudt seems to be having none of it.


Franken will skip Netanyahu speech

by Dan Burns on March 3, 2015 · 2 comments

israelRighteous. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress (scheduled for 10AM CST this morning; I ain‘t watching that s*it), is a sorry stunt intended to improve his (unfortunately already strong) chances of retaining his job after the election in Israel this month, and to undermine U.S. negotiations with Iran and promote another disastrous U.S. war in the region instead.

In a statement earlier Monday, (Sen. Al) Franken (D-MN) described the speech as a “partisan spectacle.”
“This has unfortunately become a partisan spectacle, both because of the impending Israeli election and because it was done without consulting the administration,” Franken said. “I’d be uncomfortable being part of an event that I don’t believe should be happening. I’m confident that, once this episode is over, we can reaffirm our strong tradition of bipartisan support for Israel.”
(Huffington Post)

As always, President Obama is running rings around the right-wing Congress. He’s already dealt with the crap “Bibi” is likely to spew.

Speaking away from the AIPAC conference, which was attended by both Rice and Obama’s UN ambassador, Samantha Power, on Monday, the president was less diplomatic and more scathing of Netanyahu’s position.
“[He] thinks that the best way to do that is either through doubling down on more sanctions or through military action, ensuring that Iran has absolutely no enrichment capabilities whatsoever,” Obama told Reuters.
“And there’s no expert on Iran or nuclear proliferation around the world that seriously thinks that Iran is going to respond to additional sanctions by eliminating its nuclear program.”
He also repeated his criticism of Netanyahu’s decision to visit Washington – just two weeks before an Israeli election – calling it a “distraction” from the priority of negotiations with Iran.
(The Guardian)

Comment below fold


Jewish Voice for Peace MN Panel on Israel

by JeffStrate on March 2, 2015 · 0 comments

JVP Panel 12.13.2015

Members of Jewish Voice for Peace Minnesota formed a December 13th panel to discuss their journeys as Jewish people to speak out on behalf of Palestinian rights in Israel at. From the left: Marc Trius, Allan Malkis, Marisa Katz, Ilana Rossoff and Andy Berman. The forum was sponsored by Women Against Military Madness and Middle East Peace Now.

Five local members of Jewish Voice for Peace, a national campaign for Palestinian justice in Israel, are featured on the current edition of Democratic Visions, the political issues program I produce out of the southwest suburbs.


The JVP Minnesota members were panelists at a December 13th forum at the Southdale Library in Edina.  Video clips of the forum combined with additional perspective shared later by lead panelist Andy Berman arc into highly personal stories about being Jewish and coming to reject Israel’s political, economic and military actions towards Gaza, the West Bank and Palestinians.


Andy Berman began the forum with this statement:  “I suspect that a common theme we’ll be hearing today is that our solidarity with the Palestinian people and all our work for peace and justice, is deeply rooted in our Jewish identity.”


Panelist Marc Trius was born in Russia but grew up and was educated in Haifa, Israel.  He speaks poignantly of situations that turned him into a critic of the Israel government and its defense force with personal anecdotes; one of them is about a picnic held in a park where once stood Palestinian homes.


Marisa Katz grew up in Georgia “with a proud Zionist family history and background.  ” Katz attended Jewish summer camps and as a high school student took a study trip to Israel.  She says that she found Israel fascinating but came to feel that the visit was less about education and more about recruiting future citizens.  During college in Ohio Katz recounts that she began to read and discuss other perspectives.


Ilana Rossoff grew up in New Jersey.  Her father is a Reformed Rabbi.  She says that she began asking why reported wartime body counts for Israel were significantly lower than those for its enemies in each conflict.  Andy Berman and Allan Malkis have long lived in Minnesota but grew up in New York City.  Each tells how he has measured the devotion of their respective families to the Jewish traditions of working for social justice and peace against the record of Israel in the mid east.


The Jewish Voice for Peace Minnesota forum was held before the announcement of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3rd address to the United State’s Congress.  The panelists focus on their respective and evolving personal takes on Israel rather than Iran’s nuclear program and the Israeli elections.  But, as pro/con posturing over the Netanyahu-Boehner show has been amplified by main stream media, Democratic Visions has provided five small but resonant voices a broader reach.

Click here to link to the 23-minute long Democratic Visions presentation which is an edited representation of the 90 minute forum.

The complete, on-line video presentation is available on Vimeo at Bill Sorem Videos.



Eden Prairie, Richfield, Minnetonka, Edina and Hopkins Comcast Channel 15 – Sundays 9 p.m., Mondays 10 p.m., Wednesdays 5:30 p.m., Saturdays 2 p.m.

Bloomington – BCAT Channel 16 — Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.

Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.  Program is streamed at the MTN website during cablecasts.

Champlin, Anoka,Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Channel 15 — Fridays 8 a.m.,Saturdays 6:00 a.m., 10,30 a.m.,10:30 p.m.

Segments and full half hours of Democratic Visions are archived on YouTube.


It does not appear that the alleged shooter of three Muslim students, Craig Stephen Hicks, will be leaving the local slammer any time soon.


And when he does, if convicted in court, he could be facing the death penalty in North Carolina — although the ‘how’ of state executions is somewhat in legal limbo at the moment.Per the web site, for North Carolina, where there have been recent releases of men on death row, sometimes for decades, who were innocent, and in the face of a lack of approved drugs for lethal injection, even conservatives (which dominate the political landscape of NC) are opposing the death penalty. Notably a GOP party chair LED from last year opposed the death penalty continuing, where the right has previously strongly championed it:

Mark Edwards
, chair of the Nash County (North Carolina) Republican Party, recently spoke about replacing the death penalty with a sentence of lfie without parole: “As a conservative seeking to find the best way to protect the residents of this great state from crime, I believe the death penalty has had its day in North Carolina. It is time to begin the debate on replacing the death penalty with life in prison without parole.” He also said, “We are advocating that we replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole, which would will prevent debacles like the Oklahoma execution. It is a tough punishment, and inmates with no hope of release certainly do not live on ‘easy street.'” Edwards is a member of North Carolina Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, and he pointed to the toll executions take on correctional officers, especially when executions go wrong: “No matter how professionally the staff carries out its duties, a community is formed and relationships established with the prisoners, including those who sit and wait on death row. Then they have to participate in the inmate’s execution. That cannot be easy for these men and women,” Edwards said. “It is not fair for us to impose these untested (and, as the events in Oklahoma remind us, possibly unreliable) drug protocols on the dedicated staff of the Department of Corrections.”

The Durham County prosecutor has filed the necessary papers as of Feb. 25th, per Raw Story and local station WTVD. The federal inquiry into his actions, seeking to determine if this is a hate crime (presumably under federal statutes) and therefore a separate set of charges,is ongoing.


As we have noted here, and as continues to be the finding of the police investigation, this does not appear, so far as we can determine, a religious based hate crime but rather a crazy nut job obsessed with guns seeking to dominate and be an authoritarian figure, much like George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin shooting several years ago.


An interesting if not particularly pertinent detail about Craig Hicks, he was studying to become a para-legal.  The information makes me wonder how this man could have such an apparent disrespect for the law, to have (allegedly) executed three people, and to have so clearly used his firearm for which he had a cc permit, to threaten and intimidate so many other people (many of whom were not Muslim).


Political libertarians never grow up

by Dan Burns on March 2, 2015 · 0 comments

libertarianBest analysis of contemporary “libertarianism” that I’ve seen in a while.

Libertarians believe themselves controversial and cool. They’re desperate to package themselves as dangerous rebels, but in reality they are champions of conformity. Their irreverence and their opposition to “political correctness” is little more than a fashion accessory, disguising their subservience to – for all their protests against the “political elite” – the real elite…
Libertarians proclaim an anti-government position, but they are only opposing the last measures of protection that remain in place to prevent the government from full mutation into an aristocracy. By advocating for the removal of all social programs, libertarians are not rebelling, as much as they are reinforcing the prevailing ethos of “bootstrap” capitalism…
When children yell “you’re not the boss of me” they believe they are launching a rebellion against the household establishment, but they are conforming to the codes of behavior visible among all children. Libertarians are attempting to practice the same political voodoo – transforming conformity into rebellion – without realizing that their cries for freedom coalesce with their childlike culture.

In Minnesota, I don’t know whether it’s more accurate to call political libertarianism “dormant,” or just plain “done.” Past efforts, earlier this decade, to gain power in the state GOP, didn’t work. In 2014, their most prominent candidate, Hannah Nicollet, a former Ron Paul staffer, ran for governor on the Independence Party ticket, and got 2.88% of the vote. (The IP, on the whole, performed poorly enough so as to lose major party status in the state.) There is a Libertarian Party; its ticket got 0.92% for governor. Presumably politically inclined libertarians here have something in mind.

Image: Occupy Seattle Facebook


Gun nuttiness at the Mall of America

by Eric Ferguson on March 2, 2015 · 0 comments

Artist's conception. Not actually Tony Cornish

Artist’s conception. Not actually Tony Cornish

State Rep. Tony “Yee-haw Bang” Cornish, lover of all things bullet-throwing, had his own take on the recent call by Al Shabab for attacks on western shopping malls, specifically the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. Faced with a threat someone might bring in guns and start shooting, Cornish thinks the solution is for the mall to let anyone at all walk around with guns.
Yes, he’s serious. Right now, law enforcement might figure that if anyone is walking around with a gun where guns are prohibited, that might be a good clue as to the identity of the terrorists. But no, Cornish wants his fellow ammosexuals walking around showing their guns and looking for trouble. Great, because that would solve the terrorists’ problem of needing to blend in.
Would the mall be safe with lots of armed, untrained, and paranoid people wandering around? I’m sure these responsible gun owners won’t pull out their guns and start shooting until after the terrorists reveal themselves — or they get a good suspicion of who is a terrorist — or they feel vaguely threatened — or they hear a sudden noise.
Cornish is doing what must always be done when logic refuses to give way to love of guns: use the law to require acts of stupidity. He wants to force the mall to change its no-guns policy. So when the mall wants to keep out protesters, it’s all about property rights. When it wants to keep out guns, what are these “property rights” of which you speak?
If we can rein in the paranoia a moment, can we take notice that Al Shabab called for an attack rather than attacking? Would they do that if they were actually planning an attack, give us this nice warning first? What would they do if they wanted to scare us but didn’t actually have the means to attack? One guess is they might call for an attack, by some undefined someone else — like they did. Or maybe they’re actually being just a bit more clever than that. An effect they might get, even if they didn’t actually think of it, is to get the non-Muslims suspicious of any Muslims walking around the mall. Maybe they want us to treat Muslims as suspects, make them feel unwanted, or, with a bunch of armed paranoiacs wandering around, out and out threatened. Making Muslims feel alienated is presumably helpful for recruiting if you’re some sort of jihadi. So sure, let’s strap on our holsters, menace some Muslims who just wanted to visit Legoland, and give the terrorists what they want.