Doctors say cannabis treats Meniere’s disease

More good news about cannabis. People suffering from intense vertigo and nausea due to an inner ear problem — a condition of unknown cause and limited susceptibility to conventional medical treatment called Ménière’s disease — find significant improvement from cannabis, according to California doctors.

California doctors routinely approve the use of cannabis by Meniere’s patients who say that it helps ease their symptoms. “Meniere’s causes dizziness, dizziness causes nausea, cannabis relieves nausea,” says David Bearman, MD. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the symptoms caused Mrs. Gee to be a little depressed and of course cannabis helps that, too.”

Robert Sullivan, MD, corroborates: “I’ve issued many recommendations for Meneire’s, as well as tinnitus [ringing in the ears]. It works well enough to make a significant improvement in patients’ lives, i.e., symptoms not gone but much abated so they can function and carry on their daily activities, instead of sitting and suffering. It also aids sleep.”

R. Stephen Ellis, MD, has given some thought to how cannabis might help in the treatment of Meniere’s. “Three possible mechanisms come to mind,” he says. “Number one, the anti-anxiety effect of cannabis would be very useful to a Meniere’s patient. These people are anxious as can be when they hit the ER. When they get an attack it’s as if they are wired — that’s why Ativan is one of the treatments, to bring them down. Two would be the anti-nausea effect. Duh! You’re barfing and there’s a drug that offers relief in 10 seconds. The third is slowing down the vertigo itself — the sensation of spinning caused by the inner ear problem. My patients say cannabis is as good as Benadryl, which is the classic treatment. I recall reading that the auditory nerve does have CB1 receptors. I don’t know about the cochlear structure itself.”

Fred Gardner has more.

Hat-tip to mayan.

It’s an eminence front, a put-on, a lie, a deception

The Who – Eminence Front

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Say hello

There is worse coming

if you don’t stop them.

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Every one of them is a hypocrite

Sara Robinson writes the definitive article on the hypocrisy of the right-wing in light of the resignation of Mark Foley, a representative who fronted his strong moral opposition to the exploitation of children, while engaging in solicitous conversation with a sixteen year old boy on the internet.

Update: This story keeps getting squickier. What with the release of explicit instant messenger conversations between Foley and the teen boy, and the fact that house speaker Dennis Hastert was notified months ago by at least two representatives, house majority leader John Boehner and representative Tom Reynolds, none of whom did anything about this. Boehner for his part has changed his story several times today.

Hat-tip to Glenn Greenwald.

Update 2: Glenn has even more in this ever growing unfolding story that may envelop the entire house Republican leadership in scandal, and would not surprise me to reach its tendrils into the Duke Cunningham and Jack Abramoff investigations. This Republican congress behaves like a criminal conspiracy, because that’s what it is, and there are probably some Democrats involved as well given the pressure that must have been put on them to pass the Torture Bill last week. But this is just my speculation, carry on.

Another perspective on voters for torture

If we are against torture and I am, it is not sufficient just to say we oppose it, if we do not do what we can to stop it. To do this requires that we try to understand why anyone supports it, even ambiguously, and respond to those kinds of perspectives in a constructive way if possible.

Doctor Biobrain has a similar way of analyzing things to my own, by adopting a little bit of right-wing or conservative thinking for a moment as a thought experiment to see how certain false premises and faulty logic which excludes important consequences can lead people to make wrong decisions. This is not stated as a condemnation, but a recognition that torture is simply wrong under any circumstance.

In describing how the Democrats in congress voted for this Torture Bill, rather than appealing to the baser motives of nominal support for ambiguous torture which Adam Scales proposed, Doctor Biobrain thinks this was actually a compromise.

And the thing to remember is that this is the compromise position, because the conservatives didn’t think Bush had to ask Congress for these powers.  They thought it was theirs for the taking.  I’m sure it was a major blow to them that they had to make all this public and admit that Congress was nominally in charge of this kind of thing.  Because that means that Congress can also take this away; a position that the Bushies would never agree with.

Perhaps, and let me credit that it is certainly a reasonable self-deception. By forcing the president to concede that congress had any say at all over the matter was to concede a great deal in theory, but in practice it does not put off the inevitable constitutional crisis very long and makes it larger and harder to resolve. Worse, and this is the part that the adherents of this theory do not wish to countenance, by sacrificing the people who will be tortured to the administration, to commit human sacrifice to the boy emperor, for the sake of some feeling of security, is precisely what they have done. Unknowing and unconscious, perhaps, but not without some self-doubt, which reassures them of their humanity, I’m sure.

And so they are, human every one of them, even the worst of them. But they will regret what they have done worse than any words I can express. All of our actions have consequences which we will experience in time.

Letter to Adam Scales

Adam Scales is a right-wing commentator at the right-wing neolibertarian Volokh Conspiracy. Sometimes I jump across the pond to see what’s being said, and Adam’s comment was insightful and worth highlighting as a way of comprehending the mindset of people who vote for torture.

Adam writes in part:

Second, I am not sure that the legislation under consideration actually marks a profound transformation of our legal culture. If 2/3 of the Senate, the President, and the House think “ambiguous torture” is permissible, there’s a good chance that they didn’t reach this view suddenly, in the teeth of an obviously opposite legal culture. I also have the feeling that a solid majority of Americans will support these measures – and more. I expect to find a great range of disagreement among judges, though less so among academics.

These “pro-torture” constituencies may be wrong, or stupid. It may even be that they do not have the legal power to take these steps. I have little unique insight into these questions. But one should consider how these constitutive parts of the legal culture could so do, if the legal culture was in fact profoundly opposed to them.

What Adam says may be partially true, there may be a substantial democratic constituency for ambiguous torture. Our culture has been so propagandized for war for so long, it has been denied a true free speech media for as long as most of us have been alive, with the present exception of the internet (though even here there are constraints on what can be said.)

If a majority of Americans supported ambiguous torture, that would not make it acceptable. This is where I will speak against democracy, in the abstract. But in the concrete, I do not believe that most Americans will support torture if they know it is happening.

Torture is unacceptable in any case, and every one of us who tortures will feel what it is like to be tortured. When you become conscious of what you have done, you will experience what you did from the other side. You will know, and you will stop doing it. That is how justice is done.

Too few perceive God anymore. God reflects us. Be Love, and God is Love.

Torture Bill

I think this deserves an encyclopedic article.

Open thread

“There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse.
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.”

Please read Len Hart’s existentialist thoughts of the day.

And as a second subject, now that the Geneva Conventions are toast, who do you think will join the administration in creating a new Terror Convention?

Since this is an Open Thread and catch-all, I also thought I’d mention that someone was the 6,000th visitor to Cannablog just a moment ago.

“I call it ‘The Aristocrats’!”

The Aristocrats

Hat-tip to watertiger.

Filed under “Antisocial humor.”

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Even the hopeless sinner


One Love! One Heart!
Let’s get together and feel all right.
Hear the children cryin’ (One Love!);
Hear the children cryin’ (One Heart!),
Sayin’: give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right;
Sayin’: let’s get together and feel all right. Wo wo-wo wo-wo!


Let them all pass all their dirty remarks (One Love!);
There is one question I’d really love to ask (One Heart!):
Is there a place for the hopeless sinner,
Who has hurt all mankind just to save his own beliefs?


One Love! What about the one heart? One Heart!
What about – ? Let’s get together and feel all right
As it was in the beginning (One Love!);
So shall it be in the end (One Heart!),
All right!
Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right;
Let’s get together and feel all right.
One more thing!


Let’s get together to fight this Holy Armagiddyon (One Love!),
So when the Man comes there will be no, no doom (One Song!).
Have pity on those whose chances grows t’inner;
There ain’t no hiding place from the Father of Creation.


Sayin’: One Love! What about the One Heart? (One Heart!)
What about the – ? Let’s get together and feel all right.
I’m pleadin’ to mankind! (One Love!);
Oh, Lord! (One Heart) Wo-ooh!

Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right;
Let’s get together and feel all right.
Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right;
Let’s get together and feel all right.

Jack and Karl sitting in a tree

Laura Rozen has the report, which you can read.

Skimming these, this is shocking stuff. The buying of influence at pretty high levels of the White House. And so sloppy! Check out page 13 of the .pdf here. Abramoff to his staffer, Kevin Ring. “Dammit. It was sent to Susan [Ralston, Rove’s aide] on her mc pager and was not supposed to go into the WH system.” Ring to Abramoff: “Your email to Susan was forwarded to …. She said it it is better not to put this stuff in writing in their [the White house] email system because it might actually limit what they can do to help us, especially since there could be law suits, etc. Who knows?” They seem to express knowledge of potentially improper or illegal activity as it was happening.

More background from Laura and the New York Times here.

Mr. Rove has described Mr. Abramoff as a “casual acquaintance,” but the records obtained by the House committee show that Mr. Rove and his aides sought Mr. Abramoff’s help in obtaining seats at sporting events, and that Mr. Rove sat with Mr. Abramoff in the lobbyist’s box seats for an N.C.A.A. basketball playoff game in 2002.

After that game, Mr. Abramoff described Mr. Rove in an e-mail message to a colleague: “He’s a great guy. Told me anytime we need something just let him know through Susan.” The message was referring to Susan Ralson, Mr. Abramoff’s former secretary, who joined the White House in February 2001 as Mr. Rove’s executive assistant.

* * *

On learning in July 2002 that Mr. Rove planned to dine at Signatures with a party of 8 to 10 people, Mr. Abramoff wrote to a colleague: “I want him to be given a very nice bottle of wine and have Joseph whisper in his ear (only he should hear) that Abramoff wanted him to have this wine on the house.” In another e-mail message, Mr. Abramoff directed his restaurant staff to “please put Karl Rove in his usual table.”

Here is your constitution, please read

The Existentialist Cowboy has already written what the Torture Bill means. It is unconstitutional, as both an ex post facto law and a bill of attainder.

We don’t often see language like that and most people don’t know what it means.

No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

–US Constitution, Article I

This is how former chief justice William Rehnquist described what it meant in the constitution:

A bill of attainder was a legislative act that singled out one or more persons and imposed punishment on them, without benefit of trial.

That is what this pro-Torture Bill does, singling out those people whom the president designates to be imprisoned without trial and tortured — also a violation of the Eighth Amendment which prohibits cruel and unusual punishments.

The pro-Torture Bill is also ex post facto, meaning retroactive in effect, as it attempts to legislate away crimes that have already been committed by the administration.

Radiating just the right amount of cool and heat

Lamb – B-line

Needs no introduction

Night has fallen

There may be little more that I can say regarding politics.

The era of freedom in America is over, though we do not yet see it in our home towns. In Washington, they have given all power and authority to the commander in chief, the decider, and that is what he has become.

If you think this is overwrought, you are not paying attention to what I have been saying and showing you.

The congress, both houses, have approved legislation which gives George Bush the authority to detain anyone and torture without trial or due process of any kind. You are not safe from arrest, no matter how well you may have tried to protect yourself.

You have relatives you think are not in any danger, but they are. You have sons and daughters and sisters and brothers and mothers and fathers who will be arrested, for violating the laws of war which this administration will invent out of whole cloth. The war on drugs is the same as the war on terrorism, the war on terrorism will become the war on cannabis. They will call us terrorists merely for saying things that make you feel scared of your government.

I need you to understand something — my way is not the way of the sword, the gun or the bomb. My way is the way of love.

You will not win if you take another way. Even if you think you are one of the jailers, and you feel very safe and secure in your place, you will be jailed. And if you pick up the sword then you will die by the sword.

We are not willing to be crucified again, and none of us are up on that cross alone.

The time has come for music.

Cannabis treats depression

It isn’t only physical pain which cannabis treats, scientists are discovering. Emotional pain, too, is helped by the use of marijuana. A study at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the Bloomberg School of Public Health in Santa Monica found that while a significant percentage of self-reported cannabis users had current depression,

After adjusting carefully for baseline differences between adults who subsequently use marijuana and those who abstain, the significant associations that are initially present between ongoing marijuana use and depression are substantially reduced, if not eliminated.

Translated into plain English, cannabis does not cause depression, but depressed people may be more likely to use cannabis. That is because cannabis helps people who are depressed to overcome their challenges and become mentally happier and healthier. Another study published last year in the journal Addictive Behaviors concluded,

Despite comparable ranges of scores on all depression subscales, those [respondents] who used cannabis once per week or less had less depressed mood, more positive affect, and fewer somatic (physical) complaints than non-users.

Daily users [also] reported less depressed mood and more positive affect than non-users.

This is good news and is important for doctors to know. Patients with depression who are currently taking SSRI or other prescription medication for their condition should not discontinue without medical supervision, due to the risk of relapse and severe withdrawal. But I would suggest talking to your doctor about medical cannabis if you are in a part of the country where it can be recommended, and be willing to find another medical opinion if you are unsatisfied with your present care.

What can happen?

From today’s Washington Post:

NEBAJ, Guatemala — A decade after the conclusion of the long civil war that ravaged this Central American nation, Guatemalans are literally trying to dig up their past….

About 40,000 victims simply disappeared after being seized by government operatives.

That is what your government is approving here in America, today.

Hat-tip to Lindsay.

How torture works

A short film by Dave Neiwert.

Today is a turning point

As the Republican Congress waives habeas corpus without obstruction by the Democrats, as the torture of accused prisoners becomes standard (called, ominously enough, “the program”) and trials are deemed too expensive to grant to people unless they are very important, the justice system is being transformed into a black hole for prosecutors to control without any check by judges.

That is what this is about today, and that is what one judge has refused to recognize.

Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled the administration was unconstitutionally wiretapping private conversations without a warrant and in violation of the law.

She has now refused to give a stay beyond seven days for the administration to comply with her order.

Prepare for the onslaught on the judiciary, and I will tell you that it is well underway and discredited by everything from the members of the minor judiciary who fail to do justice in their courtrooms to the rulings of the supreme court which permit government lawlessness. It is because these judiciary members are too weak, not because they are too strong, because they are too willing to compromise with an out-of-control executive.

But when they are strong, as Judge Anna Diggs Taylor is, and pronounce the language of the constitution and the laws in an uncontrovertable way, which prohibits utterly the conduct that the government engages in, then the judiciary may stand.

Glenn Greenwald has the details.

Don’t worry about me, no

Grateful Dead – Estimated Prophet (1977)

Comment from elsewhere

Seven Star Hand, you might like to take a look at something my friend wrote, and I would tell you on your own blog but I could not seem to be able to leave a comment there.

Lindsay, sorry for putting this where it might not otherwise be welcome. It is one person’s metaphor, and that is all anything religious is. Each of us have our own, and each of us should respect that others have their own, even if we are reading from the same hymnal. We all think thoughts and in thinking we perceive differently.

The conservative mindset is the idea that everyone else has to share your own metaphor down to the very details of the color of the paint on the car, so to speak. It is to say that you cannot think for yourself but must accept the “wisdom” that was given to you, only it is not wisdom unless it is earned by your own experience.

Those words, those scriptures, in whatever language they were written, in whatever time and place, they were written by people, and they are not God’s own words unmediated by human hand. There is no arguing this point, and the conservatives who may be confused and thinking differently because they were taught otherwise and never questioned it, cannot be persuaded by logic until and unless they open their minds to reality.

This is one of the reasons I am mainly focused to ending the prohibition of cannabis, because what cannabis does is awaken the inner self, the God-connected active thinking soul, whatever you choose to call it or believe in. I am not selling you on what I believe but that cannabis has the effect of bringing people into fuller awareness of their surroundings and independent of their brainwashing.

That is why cannabis is illegal and that is why Mel Sembler and his cohorts are opposing us everywhere and that is two of the major sides involved in this — the prohibitionists versus the cannabists. They fear us more than anyone, because we speak for cannabis and not merely against the harms that are alleged to be due to it.

You have seen the fruit of the prohibitionist tree, you have seen the abuse visited upon the children, and the lives destroyed. You have seen the hypocrisy and immorality of these people. Judge only in the sense of choosing, when you consider the tree.

As Led Zeppelin said, there are two paths you can go by, and there is always time to change the road you are on.

Posted by: whig | September 28, 2006 at 12:51 PM

Why is cannabis illegal?

Some people prefer to use the Spanish name, marijuana. Same thing.

To quote Pete Guither:

Many people assume that marijuana was made illegal through some kind of process involving scientific, medical, and government hearings; that it was to protect the citizens from what was determined to be a dangerous drug.

The actual story shows a much different picture. Those who voted on the legal fate of this plant never had the facts, but were dependent on information supplied by those who had a specific agenda to deceive lawmakers. You’ll see below that the very first federal vote to prohibit marijuana was based entirely on a documented lie on the floor of the Senate.

You’ll also see that the history of marijuana’s criminalization is filled with:

  • Racism
  • Fear
  • Protection of Corporate Profits
  • Yellow Journalism
  • Ignorant, Incompetent, and/or Corrupt Legislators
  • Personal Career Advancement and Greed

These are the actual reasons marijuana is illegal.

Read more.

Prescription drugs kill, cannabis has never killed anyone

In the news:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico Anna Nicole Smith’s 20-year-old son died from a lethal combination of a drug that treats heroin addiction — methadone — and two antidepressants: Zoloft and Lexapro.

FoM asks: “Why is Cannabis illegal? It helps with pain and depression and doesn’t kill.”

Do you feel safer?

Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend gave a press conference yesterday on the National Intelligence Estimate in which all intelligence-gathering arms of the United States government concluded that the war in Iraq had made this country less safe, and that the situation was deteriorating rapidly.

“Although we cannot measure the extent of the spread with precision, a large body of all-source reporting indicates that activists identifying themselves as jihadists, although a small percentage of Muslims, are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion.”

Pretty clear statement, and of course it deserves a pretty clear response from the administration. Fortunately they had a questioner that was obviously pitching softballs:

Q Could I get a quick follow on George’s question? Are you questioning the judgment that jihadists are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion? Because if that’s true, how can you say we’re safer?

MS. TOWNSEND: I’m sorry, how can you say — I didn’t hear the question.

Q We’re safer.

MS. TOWNSEND: I don’t think there’s any question that we’re safer.

And that is what passes for journalism in America?

Hat-tip to Holden C.

Update: From Larry Johnson, the following chart shows the CIA statistics on actual terrorist incidents, note that the Iraq war began in 2003.

Hat-tip to thehim.

Sadly noted

Steve Gilliard exposes a disturbing record of racist remarks by Kinky Friedman. I wanted him to win, now I really hope he won’t. It’s a terrible dilemma for those of us who think that ending cannabis prohibition is the most important thing, and this is another example of why I can’t vote.

Hat-tip to James Wolcott.

Don’t look away

Thanks to Dave Neiwert. Read more from Digby and Pastor Dan.

Check out dis Sembler

Lindsay has more on Mel Sembler, at Firedoglake, including his connection to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Drug Free America Foundation (DFAF).

Say hello

Punctuated language

George Bush says the civil war in Iraq is “just a comma,” and people think he isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but what I’ve long believed is that he actually is very clever (not to say intelligent) and communicating in a different language than most of us understand.

It’s not so much a strange thing, and I do it too when I speak in particular ways. There is always an audience that is imagined, even if only subconsciously, and knowing them well you can address them in ways that they will understand but most people might not.
What is important, in recognizing this part of how George Bush speaks, is that we try to understand the context of his audience. Who are they and what do they want?

I’m very open about what I want. End cannabis prohibition, and it will be possible to end war. It is a necessary and sufficient condition to bring about a change in consciousness for peace for many people. Even if this is not true of everyone, it is true of enough people, and for each such person who turns away from war and its promotion, we have one more person working for peaceful government.

So that’s my agenda, right out in the open. And what do George Bush and his supporters want?

Total war for total control.

So in that context, yeah, I guess the little conflict in Iraq would just be a comma, followed by the global conflagration which George Bush and his followers hope and expect to bring about.

Submitted without present comment

These are the April NIE “key judgments” as have been declassified, via Laura Rozen. Original PDF from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence here.

Declassified Key Judgments of the National
Intelligence Estimate “Trends in Global Terrorism:
Implications for the United States” dated April 2006

Key Judgments

United States-led counterterrorism efforts have seriously damaged the leadership of al-Qa’ida and disrupted its operations; however, we judge that al-Qa’ida will continue to pose the greatest threat to the Homeland and US interests abroad by a single terrorist organization. We also assess that the global jihadist movement—which includes al-Qa’ida, affiliated and independent terrorist groups, and emerging networks and cells—is spreading and adapting to counterterrorism efforts.

  • Although we cannot measure the extent of the spread with precision, a large body of all-source reporting indicates that activists identifying themselves as jihadists, although a small percentage of Muslims, are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion.
  • If this trend continues, threats to US interests at home and abroad will become more diverse, leading to increasing attacks worldwide.
  • Greater pluralism and more responsive political systems in Muslim majority nations would alleviate some of the grievances jihadists exploit. Over time, such progress, together with sustained, multifaceted programs targeting the vulnerabilities of the jihadist movement and continued pressure on al-Qa’ida, could erode support for the jihadists.

We assess that the global jihadist movement is decentralized, lacks a coherent global strategy, and is becoming more diffuse. New jihadist networks and cells, with anti-American agendas, are increasingly likely to emerge. The confluence of shared purpose and dispersed actors will make it harder to find and undermine jihadist groups.

  • We assess that the operational threat from self-radicalized cells will grow in importance to US counterterrorism efforts, particularly abroad but also in the Homeland.
  • The jihadists regard Europe as an important venue for attacking Western interests. Extremist networks inside the extensive Muslim diasporas in Europe facilitate recruitment and staging for urban attacks, as illustrated by the 2004 Madrid and 2005 London bombings.

We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.

  • The Iraq conflict has become the “cause celebre” for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.

We assess that the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities and are likely to do so for the duration of the timeframe of this Estimate.

  • Four underlying factors are fueling the spread of the jihadist movement: (1) Entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness; (2) the Iraq “jihad;” (3) the slow pace of real and sustained economic, social, and political reforms in many Muslim majority nations; and (4) pervasive anti-US sentiment among most Muslims–all of which jihadists exploit.

Concomitant vulnerabilities in the jihadist movement have emerged that, if fully exposed and exploited, could begin to slow the spread of the movement. They include dependence on the continuation of Muslim-related conflicts, the limited appeal of the jihadists’ radical ideology, the emergence of respected voices of moderation, and criticism of the violent tactics employed against mostly Muslim citizens.

  • The jihadists’ greatest vulnerability is that their ultimate political solution–an ultra-conservative interpretation of shari’a-based governance spanning the Muslim world–is unpopular with the vast majority of Muslims. Exposing the religious and political straitjacket that is implied by the jihadists’ propaganda would help to divide them from the audiences they seek to persuade.
  • Recent condemnations of violence and extremist religious interpretations by a few notable Muslim clerics signal a trend that could facilitate the growth of a constructive alternative to jihadist ideology: peaceful political activism. This also could lead to the consistent and dynamic participation of broader Muslim communities in rejecting violence, reducing the ability of radicals to capitalize on passive community support. In this way, the Muslim mainstream emerges as the most powerful weapon in the war on terror.
  • Countering the spread of the jihadist movement will require coordinated multilateral efforts that go well beyond operations to capture or kill terrorist leaders.

If democratic reform efforts in Muslim majority nations progress over the next five years, political participation probably would drive a wedge between intransigent extremists and groups willing to use the political process to achieve their local objectives. Nonetheless, attendant reforms and potentially destabilizing transitions will create new opportunities for jihadists to exploit.

Al-Qa’ida, now merged with Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi’s network, is exploiting the situation in Iraq to attract new recruits and donors and to maintain its leadership role.

  • The loss of key leaders, particularly Usama Bin Ladin, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and al-Zarqawi, in rapid succession, probably would cause the group to fracture into smaller groups. Although like-minded individuals would endeavor to carry on the mission, the loss of these key leaders would exacerbate strains and disagreements. We assess that the resulting splinter groups would, at least for a time, pose a less serious threat to US interests than does al-Qaida.
  • Should al-Zarqawi continue to evade capture and scale back attacks against Muslims, we assess he could broaden his popular appeal and present a global threat.
  • The increased role of Iraqis in managing the operations of al-Qaida in Iraq might lead veteran foreign jihadists to focus their efforts on external operations.

Other affiliated Sunni extremist organizations, such as Jemaah Islamiya, Ansar al-Sunnah, and several North African groups, unless countered, are likely to expand their reach and become more capable of multiple and/or mass-casualty attacks outside their traditional areas of operation.

  • We assess that such groups pose less of a danger to the Homeland than does al-Qaida but will pose varying degrees of threat to our allies and to US interests abroad. The focus of their attacks is likely to ebb and flow between local regime targets and regional or global ones.

We judge that most jihadist groups–both well-known and newly formed–will use improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks focused primarily on soft targets to implement their asymmetric warfare strategy, and that they will attempt to conduct sustained terrorist attacks in urban environments. Fighters with experience in Iraq are a potential source of leadership for jihadists pursuing these tactics.

  • CBRN capabilities will continue to be sought by jihadist groups.

While Iran, and to a lesser extent Syria, remain the most active state sponsors of terrorism, many other states will be unable to prevent territory or resources from being exploited by terrorists.

Anti-US and anti-globalization sentiment is on the rise and fueling other radical ideologies. This could prompt some leftist, nationalist, or separatist groups to adopt terrorist methods to attack US interests. The radicalization process is occurring more quickly, more widely, and more anonymously in the Internet age, raising the likelihood of surprise attacks by unknown groups whose members and supporters may be difficult to pinpoint.

  • We judge that groups of all stripes will increasingly use the Internet to communicate, propagandize, recruit, train, and obtain logistical and financial support.
Posted in News. 1 Comment »

Letter to Shakespeare’s Sister

Seriously, Shakespeare is best performed, especially before children and adults who have never seen it and have no idea how it is to be read and understoood. Dull? Indeed it is, when read by dullards!

But anyone can get a video tape of a performance by Kenneth Branagh or any number of other versions, and show it in a small theater for the students if that can be gotten rights for.

Then they can read Shakespeare with understanding.

And I never even mentioned “macaque”

Via Glenn Greenwald, Michael Scherer documents in Salon further what kind of a priceless example of sterling Republican values is George Allen.

Who should you listen to?

Neil YoungOld Man

Written and performed as a young man, then he bought the ranch and settled down. Got married, raised a family. Cared for people. This is a good man.

No more cut-and-run

Glenn Greenwald is defending Bill Clinton in Salon today, against the charge that he “cut-and-run” from Somalia.

Can I just say, “cut-and-run” isn’t even a meaningful word or phrase. It’s pure nonsense, as it’s used. We could try to make sense of it by adding some more words — like “cut losses and run away” — but that might even seem like a reasonable proposal if expressed as such.

Sure, run away sounds bad, that’s the part that makes it sound cowardly. Cutting losses sounds pretty good, though. Anyone who invests in the stock market and has any sense at all knows to sell their non-performing assets — which is to say if you buy something and it looks like it’s not going to give you a better result in the future than it has in the past, and it’s been all bad so far, you unload it and invest somewhere else.

That’s what Iraq looks like, and that is what Somalia looked like. But Glenn wants to defend Clinton because, he’s right, the charge isn’t as true as it should be. Which is to say, the right wing is lying about Clinton’s record, but the record itself is not thereby transformed into a good one.

And Glenn digs in a little deeper and smacks Reagan for withdrawing from Beirut. When that was undoubtedly the right thing to do there. It’s a powerful argument because the Republicans today are arguing against the policy that their pre-Bush hero followed, calling them on the disjunction between their current beliefs and those prior.

The Republicans can show you that point of disjunction, though. It was September 11, 2001. That’s the critical event which was used to transform their ideology from one of “isolationism” to one of “engagement.” But by these terms a false sense is also left. The idea that somehow engagement must be military in nature. That we must invade the world in order to befriend it.

This is a manipulated, mass-psychology event. This is a coordinated media mind-control program. By use of language that deceives, they create patterns of deception, which embed in our consciousness and make us unable to think clearly. So we need to get past that and stop letting our words think for us. You need to experience and understand things and that is the way to learn, and then we can communicate with one another and share those experiences to help one another understand.

So how the propaganda works with “cut and run” is they combined a positive “cut losses” with a negative “run away” and joined them together as if they were a unit. This shuts down thinking because the two meanings contradict one another in their implications.

Let’s cut losses, for sure. We don’t have more men and women to spare, for God’s sake. Losses — human lives lost, misery and hatred and despair for millions of people — that haven’t made us safer. Losses that have made us more likely to be attacked, not less. That’s not just my opinion, that is what the United States intelligence services have reported.

And stop saying “cut-and-run.”

Update: Glenn has more on his blog.

Propaganda: Pete’s Couch

This is the second in a series of presentations of propaganda by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and their Above the Influence campaign.

The first one I reviewed is here.

This one is titled “Pete’s Couch.”

(Scene opens with a guy sitting on the couch talking directly to the camera)

I smoked weed and nobody died.
I didn’t get into a car accident, I didn’t O.D. on heroin the next day, nothing happened.

(Shot widens to show the guy with two friends sitting on the couch)

We sat on Pete’s couch for 11 hours.
Now what’s going to happen on Pete’s couch? Nothing.

(Shot now shows the guys on the couch in the middle of the woods with some mountain bikers riding by. Then to a basketball court. Then an ice rink.)

You have a better shot of dying out there in the real world, driving hard to the rim, ice skating with a girl. No, you wanna keep yourself alive, go over to Pete’s and sit on his couch til you’re 86.
Safest thing in the world.

(Shot now shows the guys on the couch outside a movie theater. The guy talking gets up from the couch and walks into the theater)

Me? I’ll take my chances out there. Call me reckless.

( logo appears)

Now you’ve seen it. You’ve read the script. Now read what Jeralyn Merritt has to say.

Daily Olbermann

I wish our cable had MSNBC. We got Free Speech TV instead, which is very good, but we don’t get to see Keith Olbermann until Crooks & Liars posts it up. Please watch, it should be a patriotic duty.

Bill Clinton didn’t do much for me as president, but he’s absolutely right about this.

Update: YouTube has the video now, posted below. Hat-tip to Attaturk.

Bush’s designated successor

John McCain is being groomed, and every Hamletesque soliloquy which he performs against the administration’s excesses is to be understood as an act in order to make him appear as if he will be kinder and gentler when he is to be crowned king.

He will not, I think. From what I have seen of McCain he is a bitter and angry man who wants “justice” done for what was done to him, and he wants to exact that price in blood. He is not against torture unless it is against himself, and even so he believes it made him stronger. It did, it gave him a political career. It could give him the Presidency.

In that context, his performance on Face the Nation on Sunday can be understood. He does not want to end any of these practices, he does not want to close Guantanamo, or bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, but more than this, he does not want them brought under tighter control. He wants to expand all of them. He won’t come out and say this directly, but he will empower the administration to grab whatever authority it needs by playing the part of the independent, conscientious Republican.

Update: Scout Prime on Richard Perle. Not directly related, but part of tracing this whole family tree of darkness. Anyhow I didn’t want to make another post.

Update 2: This is becoming a bit of a catch-all post, and I’m updating it a day later because, again, I don’t want to make a brand new post about this. Shakespeare’s Sister gives some more context to John McCain, and his desire to swiftly approve whatever the administration wants.

Stop the drug war

Partial comment from elsewhere today

As I see it, <50% voter turnout = a majority vote for a better solution than politics. I don’t think that voting can fix anything, at best you can slow down the process by which the state takes all authority for a few privileged people and deprives the rest. What we need are new institutions, new ways of governing ourselves which do not depend upon force and which rely more upon persuasion and agreement.

That’s really what I think blogtopia is becoming (skippy the bush kangaroo invented that word and it fits in well with my own thinking on what we are trying to do). We are the government, for real. You are part of the new government. We’re just small right now and not very powerful, but powerful enough to make a difference.

People are reading blogs, people who you might not expect. People like Bill Clinton who is meeting with bloggers and showing them respect. I don’t care about Bill or his politics, I do care that people are willing to stand up and be seen with bloggers. We are credible and influential.

I am representing the cannabis coalition, if you like. I am a representative to the blogtopia, self-selected.

Update: I should make it clear that the rest of this comment was an encouragement for more of us to become representatives. I do not believe my own viewpoint is privileged in any way. I speak only for myself, but my views are largely unheard in many parts of the world, and in many parts of this country. So by virtue of the minority for which I speak as a member of, I am a representative, but just one of many.

Protect the free press

Go and read what Lindsay Beyerstein has written today about the case of Bilal Hussein. Independent journalism is at stake. Your right to read information critical of the administration is at stake. Your ability to see images that the administration does not want you to see is being deprived, not because of any threat to national security, but because the administration does not want bad news to be known, or anything that makes them look bad.

A comment made elsewhere today

Without suggesting that people drive under the influence of cannabis, there are no statistics to show a heightened risk of vehicle accidents related to cannabis use.

This is not true at all of alcohol, where the data is unambiguous. One of the points that is being made in Colorado and other places is that if people are going to use something recreationally, whether it be cannabis or alcohol makes a difference. Cannabis is safer.

Conservatives are like frightened children

I’ve changed

Tracy Chapman – Change 

We can be friends, too

Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. has a lot of power. He is the publisher of the New York Times, the so-called “paper of record.” What he says goes in the paper, goes in the paper unless someone wants to put their job on the line to prevent it. And what he says stays out of the paper, stays out of the paper unless the story is going to come out regardless.

But Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. is not an independent man, in some ways. He depends upon the other members of his own class, to support him and promote the well-being of his paper — the people who, like him, wield vast power to inform or deceive the public — and many of whom do not like him or the New York Times very much at all.

He may be a very good man. I do not know him personally, but I believe that he is doing what he believes he can, and we should be glad that he does help inform more than some people would like him to.

I think that there is a base of power and support that the “blogtopia” can provide to the news media if they will work with us and not against us.

For more on the internal workings of the Times and its executive editor, Bill Keller, there is an excellent article this morning in the New York Metro.

Thanks to Lindsay Beyerstein for the link.

Update: RickD reminds us:

The cited article passes on misinformation.

“a national poll shows 54 percent of Americans in favor of wiretapping without warrants.”

See the ACLU poll for comparison.

Update 2: Attaturk gives a visual demonstration of how Newsweek is painting their coverage of current events. Hat-tip to NTodd.

Update 3: Sometimes posts just seem to evolve on their own in a direction I never intended originally, but the Newsweek issue cover is so blatantly ridiculous that this is getting coverage all over. See The Carpetbagger Report and thanks to skippy.

It’s not just New York

I know that in Pennsylvania, district justices are also rarely even attorneys. The New York Times has an exposé on how many people in their state are terrorized by an incompetent local judiciary, and Lindsay Beyerstein has more.

You can alter your perceptions

Just watch this.

Who are you?

Writing to a blog is very different from writing to a particular audience, because I really do not know who will be reading what I say. I could try to always target my message to the same people, and I do so when I participate on a bulletin board or another blog which is specific to some topic. But when I write here, it could be about anything, although the primary subject is cannabis.

So every message is to some people and not to others, though I hope as many understand what I am saying as might want to. When I try to imagine my audience, I think of at least three separate groups of people.

  • Progressives and liberals in the left blogosphere.
  • Cannabis users: medical, spiritual or personal.
  • Libertarians and conservatives.

The last message was more or less addressed to the junction of the cannabis users and neolibertarians/neoconservatives. If you aren’t a member of both of those groups, you might not get what I was saying and it might seem like nonsense. Especially if you aren’t a cannabis user. But maybe you will understand anyhow, there’s no way for me to know.

We all have our own dialects, our ways of expressing ourselves, which are unique to our social group. We have shorthand names for things that we understand. We call our friends things that they would not want to be called by a complete stranger. I don’t want you to call me a pothead unless you use cannabis. And that’s just respect. But if you do, I won’t be offended, I’ll just think you’re confused. It would be like using an ethnic term with someone whose ethnicity you don’t share.

Anyhow, if you ever want to know what I’m trying to say, if you think it makes no sense at all, you can ask me and if you’re nice about it I’ll probably answer you. I’m not hostile to anyone if you’re not hurting anyone. If I seem a little harsh sometimes, then let me know and I’ll consider if I might not be saying things that could be expressed more gently.

Don’t ask me to try to understand torture or mass murder, or to favor your position if you believe in those things. That is as gently as I can put that and you should rethink your approach if you want anyone to respect you.

As always, if this message is addressed to you, hopefully it will make sense to you.

How pot makes you feel stupid

I used to be really smart, and I knew I was the smartest kid in the whole world. It wasn’t true, but I believed it. And I believed a lot of things that I don’t anymore.

Pot made me honest. It made me more humble. And what that felt like, at first, being in a state of mind that I was so damn smart, to realize I wasn’t. I’m good at some things, I think I write pretty well, when I put my mind to it. I think I communicate well this way, and if I’m a little socially awkward, well it will get better with time.

It felt like I was stupid. Like I had no idea what I was talking about half the time. I had read something or been told something and I just repeated it because it was what I wanted to believe. You can’t penetrate this shell, with logic. You have to convince the person to break out on his or her own.

Pot does this. It makes us wake up inside, so we can perceive ourselves as we truly are. That can be an overjoyful experience for some people, who think themselves small and of no importance. But it can be a crushing blow to a person that thought himself so superior.

Conservatives go stark paranoid on cannabis. They really do. And a lot of the neolibertarian and neoconservative insanity is paranoia on a grand scale. Those pot smoking libertarians have talked themselves into a fantasy world of total freedom for themselves no matter how many others have to suffer or be enslaved.

So part of the peace we need to settle is between ourselves, and it’s not going to be easy, but you can’t kill us off. There are too many cannabis users, there are more than you can count, and we are going to survive. You cannot make a law which is going to target only one of us, and you cannot protect yourselves from your own allies when they decide you are standing in the way of their freedom.

See, that’s the rhetoric. That’s how George Bush talks and what he means. Freedom. Not for you. For him.

And so if cannabis is not set free, if we are not to be spared than neither will be you. Save yourselves by saving us, and we will talk and settle things between ourselves.

Elvis lives again!

Kate Bush – King of the Mountain