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Cognitive closure and US politics

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That’s from a very interesting Open Culture post by Dan Colman, which begins:

There’s a political disconnect in the United States. We have two political parties, each now living in its own reality and working with its own set of facts. The common ground between them? Next to none.

How to explain this disconnect? Maybe the answer lies in the theory of “cognitive closure”–a theory first worked out by social psychologist Arie Kruglanski back in 1989.

“People’s politics are driven by their psychological needs,” Kruglanski explains in the short documentary above. “People who are anxious because of the uncertainty that surrounds them are going to be attracted to messages that offer certainty.”

He sips a soda, then continues, . . .

But watch the documentary. It’s just 7 minutes.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 December 2016 at 6:12 pm

Good education of all citizens is a prerequisite for a well-functioning democracy

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The solution to the problem of fake news is to improve the educational curriculum in elementary, middle, and secondary schools to include the teaching of critical-thinking skills. We now have a good handle on what these are and how to teach them, and well-tested programs (such as the educational materials offered by Edward De Bono’s Cognitive Research Trust) have been shown to be effective in several countries that have adopted the materials.

However, the problem with a good education—in particular, imparting the skills needed to analyze propositions and to make rational decisions based on evidence—is that many parents do not want their children to question any beliefs the parents hold dear, and in particular do not want those beliefs subjected to critical thinking. The GOP in Texas attempted to make it illegal to teach critical thinking skills in schools (for obvious reasons).

So many parents would fight the teaching of thinking skills (as in many communities parents have fought the teaching of evolution, which is as well established as the theory of gravity—indeed, we seem to understand evolution and its mechanisms better than we understand gravity).

The problem is that if a large segment of the public lacks critical thinking skills, they are vulnerable to manipulation. Earlier I pointed out an NPR interview with a producer of fake news. This particular question and answer is relevant:

When did you notice that fake news does best with Trump supporters?

Well, this isn’t just a Trump-supporter problem. This is a right-wing issue. Sarah Palin’s famous blasting of the lamestream media is kind of record and testament to the rise of these kinds of people. The post-fact era is what I would refer to it as. This isn’t something that started with Trump. This is something that’s been in the works for a while. His whole campaign was this thing of discrediting mainstream media sources, which is one of those dog whistles to his supporters. When we were coming up with headlines it’s always kind of about the red meat. Trump really got into the red meat. He knew who his base was. He knew how to feed them a constant diet of this red meat.

We’ve tried to do similar things to liberals. It just has never worked, it never takes off. You’ll get debunked within the first two comments and then the whole thing just kind of fizzles out.

It seems clear that conservatives, who generally seem to reject critical thinking skills, can be more easily duped. This is not good for our nation.

Josh Jones at Open Culture has an interesting 5-minute video and discussion about this issue.

Jones writes:

How often have you heard the quote in one form or another? “Democracy is the worst form of Government,” said Winston Churchill in 1947, “except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time….” The sentiment expresses two cultural values many Americans are trained to hold uncritically: the primacy of democracy and the burdensomeness of government as a necessary evil.

In his new book Toward Democracy, Harvard historian James T. Kloppenberg argues that these ideas arose fairly recently with “mostly Protestants, at least at first,” notes Kirkus, in whose hands “the idea of democracy as a dangerous doctrine of the mob was reshaped into an ideal.” Much of this transformation “occurred in the former British colonies that became the United States, where, at least from a British nobleman’s point of view, mob rule did take hold.”

The modern revamping of democracy into a sacred set of universal institutions has defined our understanding of the term. Just as the West has co-opted classical Athenian architecture as symbolic of democratic purity, it has often co-opted Greek philosophy. But as anyone who has ever read Plato’s Republic knows, Greek philosophers were highly suspicious of democracy, and could not conceive of a functioning egalitarian society with full suffrage and freedom of speech.

Socrates, especially, says Alain de Botton in the School of Life video above, “was portrayed in the dialogues of Plato as hugely pessimistic about the whole business of democracy.” In the ideal society Socrates constructs in the Republic, he famously argues for restricted freedom of movement, strict censorship according to moralistic civic virtues, and a guardian soldier class and the rule of philosopher kings.

In Book VI, Socrates points out the “flaws of democracy by comparing a society to a ship.” If you were going on a sea voyage, “who would you ideally want deciding who was in charge of the vessel, just anyone, or people educated in the rules and demands of seafaring?” Unless we wish to be obtusely contrarian, we must invariably answer the latter, as does Socrates’ interlocutor Adeimantus. Why then should just any of us, without regard to level of skill, experience, or education, be allowed to select the rulers of a country?

The grim irony of Socrates’ skepticism, de Botton observes, is that he himself was put to death after a vote by 500 Athenians. Rather than the typical elitism of purely aristocratic thinking, however, Socrates insisted that “only those who had thought about issues rationally and deeply should be let near a vote.” Says de Botton, “We have forgotten this distinction between an intellectual democracy and a democracy by birthright. We have given the vote to all without connecting it to wisdom.” (He does not tell us whom he means by “we.”)

For Socrates, so-called “birthright democracy” was inevitably susceptible to demagoguery. Socrates “knew how easily people seeking election could exploit our desire for easy answers” by telling us what we wanted to hear. We should heed Socrates’ warnings against mob rule and the dangers of demagoguery, de Botton argues, and consider democracy as “something that is only ever as good as the education system that surrounds it.” It’s a potent idea, and one often repeated with reference to a similar warning from Thomas Jefferson.

What de Botton does not mention in his short video, however, is that Socrates also advised that his rulers lie to the citizenry, securing their trust not with false promises and seductive blandishments, but with ideology. . .

Continue reading.

The whole idea of a liberal arts education is to impart the intellectual skills required to free oneself: skills of language (reading, writing, speaking, and listening effectively), skills in analysis and reasoning, knowledge of history and philosophy, and so on. Skills are acquired by practice and improved with experience.

Unfortunately, education is the skills and knowledge required to be an effective citizen—the liberal arts—are being systematically displaced by the skills and knowledge required to be a good employee. Education has for the most part become training, focused on occupational and professional skills alone, which creates a huge vulnerability in our society, a vulnerability that will now have serious repercussions.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 December 2016 at 11:29 am

Interesting, eh? Some Fake News Publishers Just Happen to Be Donald Trump’s Cronies

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Ian Fang reports in The Intercept:

The extraordinary phenomenon of fake news spread by Facebook and other social media during the 2016 presidential election has been largely portrayed as a lucky break for Donald Trump.

By that reckoning, entrepreneurial Macedonian teenagers, opportunists in Tbilisi and California millennials have exploited social media algorithms in order to make money — only incidentally leading to the viral proliferation of mostly anti-Clinton and anti-Obama hoaxes and conspiracy theories that thrilled many Trump supporters. The Washington Post published a shoddy report on Thursday alleging that Russian state-sponsored propagandists were seeking to promote Trump through fabricated stories for their own reasons, independent of the candidate himself.

But a closer look reveals that some of the biggest fake news providers were run by experienced political operators well within the orbit of Donald Trump’s political advisers and consultants.

Laura Ingraham, a close Trump ally currently under consideration to be Trump’s White House press secretary, owns an online publisher called Ingraham Media Group that runs a number of sites, including LifeZette, a news site that frequently posts articles of dubious veracity. One video produced by LifeZette this summer, ominously titled “Clinton Body Count,” promoted a conspiracy theory that the Clinton family had some role in the plane crash death of John F. Kennedy, Jr., as well as the deaths of various friends and Democrats.

The video, published on Facebook from LifeZette’s verified news account, garnered over 400,000 shares and 14 million views.

Another LifeZette video, picking up false claims from other sites, claimed that voting machines “might be compromised” because a voting machine company called Smartmatic, allegedly providing voting machines “in sixteen states,” was purchased by the liberal billionaire George Soros. Soros never purchased the company, and Smartmatic did not provide voting machines used in the general election.

One LifeZette article misleadingly claimed that the United Nations backed a “secret” Obama administration takeover of local police departments. The article referenced Justice Department orders that a select few police departments address patterns of misconduct, a practice that, in reality, long predates the Obama presidency, is hardly secret, and had no relation to the United Nations.

Another LifeZette article, which went viral in the week prior to the election, falsely claimed that Wikileaks had revealed that a senior Hillary Clinton campaign official had engaged in occult rituals. Ingraham’s site regularly receives links from the Drudge Report and other powerful drivers of Internet traffic.

But LifeZette, for all its influence, pales in comparison to the sites run by Floyd Brown, a Republican consultant close to Trump’s inner circle of advisers. Brown gained notoriety nearly three decades ago for his role in helping to produce the “Willie Horton” campaign advertisement, a spot criticized for its use of racial messaging to derail Michael Dukakis’s presidential bid. Brown is also the political mentor of David Bossie, an operative who went to work for Trump’s presidential campaign this year after founding the Citizens United group. In an interview this year, Brown called Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway a “longtime friend.”

Brown now produces a flow of reliably pro-Trump Internet content through a company he owns called Liftable Media Inc., which operates a number of high-impact, tabloid-style news outlets that exploded in size over the course of the election. . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more.

I don’t think much of seditious libel as a crime, but I think a case could be made for seditious spamming of fake news, which corrodes the basis for our democracy and government. In other words, I think the offense is quite serious. It’s no laughing matter.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 November 2016 at 8:27 pm

Worth reading: “Why I Left White Nationalism”

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And worth pondering, since I think most with any trace of a liberal education will believe that it will be best for our communities, culture, and country if a lot of people left white nationalism, so it’s worth paying attention to those who do and discover what motivated them.

R. Derek Black writes in the NY Times:

I could easily have spent the night of Nov. 8 elated, surrounded by friends and family, thinking: “We did it. We rejected a multicultural and globalist society. We defied the elites, rejected political correctness, and made a statement millions of Americans have wanted to shout for decades.”

I’d be planning with other white nationalists what comes next, and assessing just how much influence our ideology would have on this administration. That’s who I was a few years ago.

Things look very different for me now. I am far away from the community that I grew up in, and that I once hoped could lead our country to a moment like this.

I was born into a prominent white nationalist family — David Duke is my godfather, and my dad started Stormfront, the first major white nationalist website — and I was once considered the bright future of the movement.

In 2008, at age 19, I ran for and won a Palm Beach County Republican committee seat a few months before Barack Obama was elected president. I received national media attention and for a while couldn’t go out without being congratulated for “telling them what’s what.”

I grew up in West Palm Beach across the water from Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, and he was always a loud presence in the neighborhood. I would drive a pickup truck with a Confederate flag sticker past his driveway each morning on my way to the beach and my family would walk out into the front yard to watch his fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

It surprises me now how often Mr. Trump and my 19-year-old self would have agreed on our platforms: tariffs to bring back factory jobs, increased policing of black communities, deporting illegal workers and the belief that American culture was threatened. I looked at my white friends and family who felt dispossessed, at the untapped political support for anyone — even a kid like me — who wasn’t afraid to talk about threats to our people from outsiders, and I knew not only that white nationalism was right, but that it could win.

Several years ago, I began attending a liberal college where my presence prompted huge controversy. Through many talks with devoted and diverse people there — people who chose to invite me into their dorms and conversations rather than ostracize me — I began to realize the damage I had done. Ever since, I have been trying to make up for it.

For a while after I left the white nationalist movement, I thought my upbringing made me exaggerate the likelihood of a larger political reaction to demographic change. Then Mr. Trump gave his Mexican “rapists” speech and I spent the rest of the election wondering how much my movement had set the stage for his. Now I see the anger I was raised with rocking the nation.

People have approached me looking for a way to change the minds of Trump voters, but I can’t offer any magic technique. . .

Continue reading.

Later in the column, he points out that support of the measures was a good example of whose ox is gored:

Mr. Trump’s comments during the campaign echoed how I also tapped into less-than-explicit white nationalist ideology to reach relatively moderate white Americans. I went door-to-door in 2008 talking about how Hispanic immigration was overwhelming “American” culture, how black neighborhoods were hotbeds of crime, and how P.C. culture didn’t let us talk about any of it. I won that small election with 60 percent of the vote.

A substantial portion of the American public has made clear that it feels betrayed by the establishment, and so it elected a president who denounces all Muslims as potential conspirators in terrorism; who sees black communities as crime-ridden; who taps into white American mistrust of foreigners, particularly of Hispanics; and who promises the harshest form of immigration control. If we thought Mr. Trump himself might backtrack on some of this, we are now watching him fill a cabinet with people able to make that campaign rhetoric into real policy.

Much has been made of the incoherence of Mr. Trump’s proposals, but what really matters is who does — and doesn’t — need to fear them. None of the ideas that Mr. Trump has put forward would endanger me, and I once enthusiastically advocated for most of what he says. No proposal to put more cops in black neighborhoods to stop and frisk residents would cause me to be harassed. A ban on Muslim immigration doesn’t implicate all people who look like me in terrorism. Overturning Roe v. Wade will not force me to make a dangerous choice about my health, nor will a man who personifies sexual assault without penalty make me any less safe. When the most powerful demographic in the United States came together to assert that making America great again meant asserting their supremacy, they were asserting my supremacy.

And later:

Most of Mr. Trump’s supporters did not intend to attack our most vulnerable citizens. But with him in office we have a duty to protect those who are threatened by this administration and to win over those who don’t recognize the impact of their vote. Even those on the furthest extreme of the white nationalist spectrum don’t recognize themselves doing harm — I know that because it was easy for me, too, to deny it.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 November 2016 at 5:49 pm

Trump Team Thinks NASA Should Study Planets, Just Not the One We Live On

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It’s worse than stupidity, it’s willful ignorance (aka “choosing to be stupid”). Becky Ferreira reports in Motherboard:

Earth: It’s the planet we live on. Understanding its complex dynamics is essential to the continuation of human civilization on our home world, and beyond it. That’s why NASA has spent the last decade heavily investing in its Earth Science Division, with the support of the Obama administration. The agency’s growing fleet of sophisticated Earth observation satellites has distinguished it as the world’s leading player in studying climate change, natural disasters, rising oceans, and other major issues that impact people who happen to reside on Earth.

President-elect Donald Trump, however, is beginning to shape a different vision for NASA, particularly with regards to Earth science. According to former congressman Robert Walker, Trump’s senior space policy advisor, NASA’s Earth observation programs are too “politicized” and must be scaled back.

“We see NASA in an exploration role, in deep space research,” Walker told the Guardian. “Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission […] I believe that climate research is necessary but it has been heavily politicized, which has undermined a lot of the work that researchers have been doing. Mr. Trump’s decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicized science.”

There’s a lot to unpack there, but let’s start with clarifying what Walker means by “other agencies.” In the lead-up to the election, Walker hinted that a Trump administration would redistrict NASA’s Earth observation efforts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is the government arm responsible for monitoring sea and air conditions. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has also been floated as a federal agency that could help pick up the slack on Earth science.

NOAA and NSF fund important work, but they receive a fraction of NASA’s annual budget for their research. Plus, both agencies already depend on partnerships with NASA to study Earth from space, as they lack the money and the spaceflight facilities to continue those projects without NASA’s support. Unless the Trump administration clearly outlines how non-NASA agencies will be compensated for taking over NASA’s leadership in this field, this idea seems like a rather blatant attempt to sweep Earth science under an administrative rug. So far, Walker has not elaborated on this strategy beyond affirming that “there would have to be some budget adjustments” in terms of retooling Earth science under other agencies.

For reference, Earth science has been on the margins of NASA’s interests since the agency’s inception under President Dwight Eisenhower. But it wasn’t until the NASA Authorization Act of 1985, during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, that the agency became focused on Earth science as a dedicated goal. In 1986, NASA’s advisory council published a detailed roadmap for its new Earth observation division that called for collaboration with NOAA and NSF. NASA took the lead in providing the spaceflight infrastructure for satellite observations of Earth, while NOAA and the NSF have provided support on selected projects.

But as Earth science became more controversial over the subsequent decades—particularly climate change research—conflict has erupted over whether NASA’s prime directives should be constrained to ”deep space activities rather than Earth-centric work,” as Walker wrote in an October 19 op-ed for SpaceNews. It is not a new angle for the GOP. In early 2015, for instance, Republican senator Ted Cruz, Trump’s former presidential rival, lamented that President Obama “shifted [NASA’s] funding to global warming pursuits rather than carry out NASA’s core mission.”

READ MORE: Scientists’ Top Concerns in Trump’s America

At the heart of this argument is a denial of Earth science’s relevance to space science. As NASA administrator Charles Bolden pointed out to Cruz last year, Earth is, in fact, located in space. Even setting aside the urgent need to monitor global effects of human activity on our environment, our planet provides a veritable Rosetta Stone for identifying and deciphering patterns on countless other alien worlds. It is our most valuable planetary research sample. In fact, even the mere act of observing Earth from space has long been acknowledged to be profoundly revelatory and meaningful, because it exposes the harrowing fragility of our planet and its inhabitants.

NASA’s Earth observation missions not only keep tabs on dangerous environmental problems that will impact people regardless of political leanings, these efforts represent cutting-edge technological platforms that have encouraged innovations in many emerging fields.

Take the GOES-R spacecraft, launched on Saturday, which is the most advanced weather satellite ever built, offering the most precise meteorological forecasting system in space. From . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 November 2016 at 6:13 pm

How Idaho’s Drug Warriors Crushed Hope in Epileptic Kids

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Eric Boehm reports in Reason:

In December 2014, Josh Phillips’ mother answered the phone to news no parent wants to hear. Her son, an epileptic high school senior and champion wrestler, was in the hospital.

The whole Salmon High School wrestling team was waiting at Steele Memorial Medical Center when Jeanette and Gary Phillips got there. The team had been on its way home from a match at West Jefferson High, more than an hour away and out of cellphone range in the rugged backcountry of northeastern Idaho, when Josh Phillips suffered the worst seizure of his life.

As the bus raced back to Salmon, Josh went in and out of consciousness. He stopped breathing at least once.

“We thought we were going to lose him,” recalls Jason Bruce, the team’s coach.

Josh had been diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 10 years old, but he’d been wrestling since he was much younger, following in the footsteps of his father and older brother. Josh was the best of the bunch. He’d never been pinned during his four years at Salmon High, and Bruce says Josh was a clear favorite to win the state championship at the end of his senior season.

He never got the chance.

After a frantic drive through the mountains, Bruce was finally able to call an ambulance to meet the bus and Josh made it to the hospital where he was stabilized. But the incident on the bus forced the school’s hand, and the decision was made that Josh would no longer be allowed to travel with the team. It was too dangerous.

Now, instead of dreaming of a championship, Josh is just hoping for a normal life. He’s tried more than a dozen different medications and even underwent brain surgery. But the seizures that denied him a shot at a state title now prevent him from pursuing even the most mundane goals of the average 19-year-old. He can’t go to college and probably won’t be able to move out of his parents’ house. He’s not allowed to drive a car, and won’t get permission until he can show doctors that he’s having less than one seizure per month.

With pharmaceutical and surgical treatments unsuccessful, the Phillips family and others in Idaho placed their hopes in the legalization of cannabidiol oil, or CBD, a form of medical marijuana. Though not guaranteed to work for everyone, CBD has been shown to be effective in controlling seizures in some epileptic patients. For that reason, it’s been legalized in dozens of states as a medical treatment, including many states where more widespread uses of medical marijuana remain banned.

In Idaho, a bill to allow people like Josh Phillips to access CBD oil was passed by the state legislature in 2015, only to be defeated by a group of powerful special interests—including cops, prosecutors, and pharmaceutical companies—with direct access to policy makers in Boise. Emails obtained by Reason reveal a behind-the-scenes effort organized by the state’s Office of Drug Policy to derail the CBD legislation and, after it passed against the wishes of Gov. Butch Otter and his administration, to use executive authority to replace the bill with an alternative treatment program that has done nothing to help Josh Phillips or many other Idahoans suffering from seizures.

In the middle of it all was a governor who had for years professed support for ending drug prohibition, only to turn his back when the opportunity came.

Nearly 20 years before Josh Phillips was born, Clement Leroy “Butch” Otter was already pushing for marijuana to be legalized in Idaho.

In 1978, the future governor was a 35-year-old two-term state lawmaker who was running as something of a radical upstart in the state’s gubernatorial election.

“If a person, of his own free will, wants to use marijuana, I question whether the government has any propriety in telling him he can’t,” Otter told Reason that year. “The government, in effect, is taking away the only real gift the Lord gave us.”

Intentionally or not, Otter was suggesting that socially permissive policy choices were compatible with—and perhaps even logically following from—a worldview informed by Christian religious tradition. Free will demands that people be allowed to go their own way, take their own risks and make their own mistakes. That’s a perspective that fits with Idaho’s religious conservative culture—and one that runs directly against any notion of government-enforced prohibition.

Otter lost his first gubernatorial race in 1978, finishing third in a seven-way GOP primary. But he won his next race, for lieutenant governor in 1986. He would win re-election to that post three times before earning a seat in Congress in 2001.

As lieutenant governor and during three terms as the representative from Idaho’s First Congressional District, Otter developed a reputation for being a free thinker with a high degree of skepticism toward government power.

In 1987, Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus left the state to attend a conference, leaving Otter to serve as acting governor. While in that role, Otter vetoed a bill that would have raised the legal drinking age in Idaho from 19 to 21 in order to allow the state to access federal highway funds. He said the bill was tantamount to giving into federal blackmail.

Starting in 1999, Otter fought a two-year personal battle with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after being cited for building an illegal pond in his backyard. The EPA said he was disturbing a protected wetland, but Otter maintained that he was allowed to do as he pleased on his own property.

In Congress, he gained notoriety for being one of three Republicans—along with Ron Paul of Texas and Robert Ney of Ohio—to vote against the PATRIOT Act in 2001.

In 2006, after three decades in politics, Otter found himself back where he started: campaigning for governor and talking to Reason magazine about why Idaho should legalize marijuana, at least for medical purposes.

“I still support medical marijuana,” Otter said in 2006, just weeks before he was elected governor. “Some of these people, the only way they can get relief is by smoking marijuana.”

Nine years later, after winning a third consecutive term as the state’s chief executive, Otter finally had a chance to put his name on a law that would legalize, for the first time in the state’s history, a form of marijuana to treat medical issues like seizures. The bill was SB1146.

He vetoed it. . .

Continue reading.

Do click the link and read the rest. It’s a sorry story, but it’s part of the US today. Later in the article:

. . . Unlike Rice, Otter wasn’t convinced. Ten days after the CBD bill passed in the House, the governor issued his veto with a message scolding the legislature for passing the bill against the wishes of the state’s law enforcement special interests.

“I don’t know what more I or senior members of my administration could have done to help legislators understand our strong opposition to this legislation,” he wrote in his veto message. “Both the House and Senate were told by the Office of Drug Policy, the Department of Public Welfare, and the Idaho State Police—as well as prosecutors and local law enforcement officers throughout Idaho—that there were too many questions and problems and too few answers and solutions in this bill to let it become law.”

Forced to choose between the families and children who wanted CBD oil legalized and the opposition from law enforcement, Otter chose the latter—though he said he “sympathized with the heartbreaking dilemma” facing Idahoans dealing with debilitating diseases that could potentially be treated with CBD.

Jon Hanian, Otter’s spokesman, says the governor stands by the veto. Asked how that decision squares with decades of professed support for marijuana legalization, Hanian said Otter admits to changing his position. . .

No kidding. What’s the word for when you support something so long as it can’t happen, but when it can happen you oppose it? Opportunism? Hypocrisy? Dishonesty?

Do read the whole thing. It provides quite a bit to ponder. Later, for example:

. . . In his veto message, Otter explained his decision by warning of “the potential for misuse and abuse with criminal intent.” He cited the lack of support from Idaho’s law enforcement groups, and said that legalizing CBD oil could “decrease public safety,” without explaining how.

The law enforcement community’s own explanation for its opposition wasn’t any better.

“It basically opens the door, carte blanche, to make it almost unenforceable for us to be able to stop marijuana or illegal drugs in our communities,” said Shane Turman, president of the Idaho Chiefs of Police Association, at a hearing of the state Senate State Affairs Committee concerning the CBD oil bill in March 2015.

“The bill is the most liberal CBD bill in the country,” declared Bryan Taylor, president of the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association, at the same hearing. “There are no regulations or safeguards.”

Rice, the Republican legislator who sponsored the CBD legislation, sees things differently. He says the state legislature worked with law enforcement to rewrite parts of the bill in an attempt to address those concerns. The final version of the bill would have required written permission from a doctor before a patient could obtain CBD oil and allowed doctors to prescribe CBD oil only for the treatment of intractable seizures after other medical options had been tried. There was nothing in the CBD bill that would have prevented police from arresting anyone for illegally obtaining or using marijuana or marijuana-derived products. . .

And this is Idaho, which presents itself as supporting the individual, etc. What a bunch of hypocrites.

Later we start to see the real reasons for Otter’s about face:

. . . If we take Otter at his word—and the word of his spokesman—then it was law enforcement’s opposition to the CBD oil bill that convinced the governor to veto it, and general concern about the public safety consequences of legalizing marijuana that convinced him to change his long-held views on the topic.

There may have also been a second factor pushing Otter’s administration to oppose the bill and favor a clinical trial of a particular drug instead.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, or PhRMA, represents drug companies and lobbies on their behalf. According to federal lobbying data aggregated by Maplight, PhRMA has spent more than $150 million on lobbying since 2008—a total that only includes federal advocacy efforts, not similar work done in state capitals.

But Big Pharma is active in the states too, and drug companies have been particularly keen on fighting efforts to legalize medical marijuana in all its various forms, including CBD oil.

That’s because states with legal medical marijuana have lower rates of drug prescriptions. In a study published earlier this year, Ashley and W. David Bradford, a daughter-father pair of researchers at the University of Georgia, analyzed state-level prescription drug databases from 2010 through 2013 and found that doctors prescribed significantly fewer pharmaceutical drugs in states with legal medical weed. The largest drop-off was for prescription painkillers, with 1,800 fewer doses prescribed annually in states with medical marijuana laws. They found a significant decline—486 fewer doses annually—in prescriptions for anti-seizure drugs as well.

In Idaho, PhRMA employs two full-time lobbyists to influence public policy. It also spends lots of money helping to elect state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle—including Otter. . .

Written by LeisureGuy

23 November 2016 at 5:26 pm

Maggie Haberman is the Judith Miller of the left

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Just read this article in The Intercept by Zaid Jilani. The Democratic establishment does not want actual Democrats running the party—that is, those who express traditional progressive Democratic values. They want the Clintons and the Wall Street Democrats. (I wonder whether Haberman has apologized to Ellison for laughing at him. I would bet she never does. The arrogance of NY Times reporters and editors means that they never admit error, and thus they seldom learn from their mistakes: they ignore, minimize, downplay, and conceal mistakes.)

The report begins:

The NY Times on Tuesday published an article portraying the Obama White House as skeptical of Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison’s ability to lead the Democratic National Committee. Ellison, who endorsed Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary and is viewed by many as a sort of Sanders proxy, declared his candidacy earlier this month, emphasizing a need to prioritize grassroots organizing.

The Times article signaled that the establishment of the Democratic Party is opposed to Ellison’s bid for DNC chair, and laid out an argument questioning the congressman’s ability to lead the party.

One of the article’s two authors, Maggie Haberman, was on an ABC News panel with Ellison in July 2015 when he suggested that Donald Trump might end up “leading the Republican ticket” and that there was a real possibility of his capturing the presidency. Haberman burst out laughing: . . .

Read the whole thing. And watch the 30-second video.

Of course the NY Times repeatedly says that it will avoid using anonymous sources—the exception seems to be for anonymous sources who say things the NY Times wants to print.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 November 2016 at 5:22 pm

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