Military recruiters could use a hand

June 30, 2005

It is no secret. Military recruiters are having a rough go of it at the moment. The Army is off by more than 15%. What would help? Well, try this on for size:

There’s one more option that might make a difference, particularly among middle and upper-income Americans: Strong and sustained calls to service from the nation’s political leaders, up to and including the commander-in-chief.

Last fall, Charles Moskos of Northwestern University, a prominent expert on military manpower, asked a group of recruiters what would most help them: tripling bonuses or enlisting presidential daughter Jenna Bush.

The recruiters’ choice was unanimous: Jenna Bush.

Yes, Mr. President, your help as a leader is going to need more than one line in a tepid speech delivered before a host of green-clad soldiers.

Noted USA Today,

Today’s all-volunteer Army is better described as an all-recruited Army. That Army is being tested as never before by an increasingly unpopular conflict, one that was based on false premises but has morphed into part of the war on terror.

Ouch. We’re still not over the false premises issue, are we?

Back to recruiting… Leadership is at the root of the issue. When America’s elite — and I count President Bush in that category — put their actions where their mouth is, well, the rest of the country will follow. That’s what leadership is: stepping out so that others can follow behind.

We’ve only had one of America’s elite enlist — at least that I can think of — since 9/11, and he was killed by friendly fire. And he wasn’t even elite by birth, but rather elite by talent and work ethic. Army Ranger Pat Tillman, a former professional football player, I guess doesn’t fall into the same court as Jenna Bush. Jenna is elite by birthright, born with a silver spoon in her mouth; Pat Tillman earned his way, with sweat and, sadly, blood.

Let’s see the children of America’s Senators and Representatives and President, the children of Departmental Secretaries and Under-Secretaries, the children of Fortune 500 CEO’s… let’s see them enlist in the Army. Perhaps then when one of America’s elite stands up and says, “To those watching tonight who are considering a military career, there is no higher calling than service in our Armed Forces,” perhaps we’ll actually believe it.

Sometimes I wonder if we’ll remember what Saturday was like: the hot blazing sun; we hippies and freaks jiving to the music; the buzz of love. At least we have the pictures, eh?


My thanks to Phil C. for the pic of Rally Girl

Saturday: By the end of the day, I was looking old, and Elliot was looking tired and hot.

PLEASE NOTE: This photograph is Copyright (c) 2005 by Cathy Dixson and is used here by permission. This photograph may not be used further without the written permission of Cathy Dixson. All rights reserved.

In the world of transparency, sometimes… well, sometimes it all just hangs out. Like this bit which places Peter Stinson on Fiji in the midst of huge governmental corruption and acting as an agent of The Company.

A major figure in the corruption scene has been Peter Stinson … is actually far more informative. What was exposed … as doing contract work for the CIA…

Frankly, I’d always hoped my activities of the mid- and late- 1980s would remain under a deep, dark blanket, never to see the light of free speech. I guess we can’t all have what we want, now, can we?


Well, at least it was many years ago, eh? I can’t be held accountable for Peter Stinson’s actions during the heady days of the 80’s, can I?

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been checking the site statistics for Tidewater Musings. The blog is getting perhaps a dozen, maybe a bit more, visits a day. It seems we’re getting traffic from two different places. About half the referrers appear to be coming from the MilBlogs Ring; it appears that often these visitors are coming from military domains. The other half of our visitors appear to be coming from references on various neo-Nazi and white supremacist web sites.

You have to admit: this is quite a combination.

Well, welcome all. I’m glad you’re reading; I hope you’re thinking. I doubt I’ll change your mind about anything. Those of us in the military have a pretty ingrained way of thought. And, our white supremacist neighbors, well, you’re probably pretty set in your ways, too. You will likely disagree with me more than our MilBlogger readers, but, if you keep an open mind, perhaps you’ll pick up on something new.

Let me offer a post or two you might want to read to catch up. For those of you visiting from a neo-Nazi or other white supremacist site, you might find this of interest. For the MilBloggers, I leave you with this

Then again, you might not give a damn about either post.

The following landed in my inbox today; I found it amusing. Likely you will either find it amusing, or you will be mildly ticked off. Just remember, it is tongue-in-cheek… sort of…

Subject: We’re leaving

Dear Red States

We’re ticked off at the way you’ve treated California, and we’ve decided we’re leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we’re taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren’t aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay.

We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand.

We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.

We get Harvard. You get Ole’ Miss.

We get 85 percent of America’s venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition’s, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we’re going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they’re apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don’t care if you don’t show pictures of their children’s caskets coming home.

We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we’re not willing to spend our resources in Bush’s Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country’s fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation’s fresh fruit, 95 percent of America’s quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson, and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we’re discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

By the way, we’re taking the good pot, too.

You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.


Author Unknown in New California

Yes, at least the Blue States will have the Seven Sisters and the good pot. I don’t know what we’d do without both.If you were thinking things haven’t changed, the above picture ought to convince you we’re not the same service we were before 9/11. Just another day at the office; I still can’t figure out why anyone would leave a perfectly good helicopter in mid-flight. Even for the heaving deck of a Coast Guard cutter off the Virginia coast.

Well, beats some of the other stuff I do. 😉

Last night, my brother and I were finishing the last of the evening’s strike activities from the Rally for Social Justice. We’d parked the rented truck downtown and were heading up High Street to pick up a lock at the 24-hour Walgreens. As we were heading out of Olde Towne, I noticed a large, black SUV — complete with tinted windows — in front of us. For some reason it looked out of place. Perhaps it was the Michigan license plate. Perhaps it was the high gloss. Perhaps it was the window sticker proclaiming a website for the National Socialist Movement. Er, make that three window stickers.

We traveled, light to light, down High Street bit. The two young guys I could see sitting up front didn’t look all that different from us, as a matter of fact. Younger, for sure, but beyond that, nothing. I did notice they were focused straight ahead, not looking around at all.

Phil made an utterance about why they’d be in Portsmouth since they were likely staying on the Peninsula following the day’s activities. He also thought perhaps they were attempting to find my house to deliver some sort of message; afterall, one of their midst had, several months ago, posted my name, address, and phone number on several internet sites in an attempt to intimidate me away from working on the Rally for Social Justice, a creative, non-confrontational response to the tactics of the neo-Nazi movement. The Rally’s focus on the values of diversity, tolerance, non-violence, and social justice — for all — and our belief in creating an alternative to their First amendment gatherings rather than directly confrontation (why is it we have a belief here in America that in order to oppose something one needs to directly confront it or ignore it; there seems to be little room for other responses) seem to, at the least, confuse some people. Anyway, he figured they were up to no good.

I figured they’d come to Portsmouth to partake in some fine German food at our renowned Bier Garden. Good German food (for those that like German food) and a huge selection of beers, the Bier Garden is a gathering place for all Portsmouthians and friends from out-of-town.

Well, I think I was more right than Phil. Seems they were here in beautiful Portsmouth to find dinner. I’m not sure if they started out headed for the Bier Garden, but evidently a contingent of neo-Nazis ended up at Wendy’s on Airline Avenue and then the Ruby Tuesdays over at the old Tower Mall site.

I’m thinking for that kind of food, they couldn’t have found something closer to their hotel on the Peninsula? Or, perhaps they choose Portsmouth to make a statement. I’m thinking they realized that we were a fairly diverse town… and they wanted to experience that diversity. Note: if I’m not mistaken, Portsmouth has the highest percentage of non-whites of any city or county in southeastern Virginia.

Anyway, the police blotter reports they found some food. As to the fine and wide selection of beer… well, that they missed.

And, it seems several readers are confused also. I’m Peter. I never went to law school, nor have I ever practiced law. My degrees are in English & philosophy, counseling & human development, and national security & strategic studies; perhaps the confusion is that I’ve been a counselor, albeit not counselor-at-law.

Such confusion is understandable, however. So much time; so much disinformation to seed; so much confusion to attempt to create.

Perhaps we’re all just a little confused.

I’ll just say this: some people are humorous when they don’t mean to be.

Funny. Very funny.

Still not much truth, but very funny.

This is a test… Several months ago, I began to use Flickr — just a little — to add pictures to the blog. Now it seems that Blogger has added the capability to directly post a photo to a blog. So, I’m going to try it.

And I have. The picture is old — from last September — Elliot has grown and so has Andrew… Elliot’s walking and Andrew is… well, never mind. Anyway, it’s one of only two pictures I have on this new computer, the Wal-Mart special from Balance with the Linspire operating system. I’d have more, but Snapfish seems to have created some sort of long-standing bug that will not allow me to enter into any of my files… they can’t figure out what is wrong (actually, they say I’m imagining things). So, they have a slew of photographs I can’t get to. Perhaps it is time to go totally digital.

Some people have it. Some people don’t. Tamara Dietrich has it. This morning, Tamara — a columnist for the Daily Press — takes on our friends the neo-Nazis.

You never know nausea till you call up a neo-Nazi. It’s an exercise in mastering your own insurgent stomach and the bile rising in your throat.

But master it I did, and called Bill White, National Socialist and latent, over-age Hitler Youth. After all, White had had the courtesy to call me up after my previous column about the upcoming white supremacist rally in historic Yorktown, assuring me in a phone message that he and his buddies had ridiculed it and me with much gusto.

He’d also thrown in comments about how much better his car was than mine, how much bigger his house, how much heftier his income – from which I inferred that even racists can afford to be ignorant.

“You go, girl,” I want to say. “You go.” Let me say that Bill’s not the brightest bulb in the pack; he thinks I’m a disbarred civil right attorney. A simple search on Google would yield more truth than he’s ever printed.

Sorry, I digress. So, Tamara hammers home on poor, poor, pitiful Bill. Ah, poor Bill. To live in a society where minority and majority will soon not mean a thing. To live in a melting pot. To live in a world where we all have rights to speak out, to protect the innocent, to laugh at idiocy.

As I sit here, I’m wondering if Bill’s as pure-in-blood as he thinks he is. I wonder how much African or Native American or gypsy blood he has in him. I suspect there are very few – if any — people in America (at least who can trace their generations back a while) who are pure anything. And, I’m also thinking that if we return this country’s land to it’s rightful owners, not many of us pale-skinned folks, including Bill, are gonna be left.

Sorry, Bill, you just don’t get it.

For the rest of you — those who do get it — we hope to see you Saturday at the Rally for Social Justice, an alternative event to the neo-Nazis and counter-protesters, a peaceful & music-filled couple of hours.

Cleveland. I’m walking from the Federal Building to my hotel, and I cut through the Colonial Arcade. The Colonial Arcade is home to a fitness club, a Segway dealer, a tarot card reader, a couple of art galleries, a Chinese restaurant… and panhandlers.

I’m not sure what it is about Cleveland, but of all the cities I travel to, Cleveland has the most and the most aggressive pan handlers of anywhere.

I’m walking through the Arcade, my mind diligently on work, when I hear someone call out, “Excuse me sir.” I turn and there is an older gentleman; he says, “Could I have a couple of bucks to buy some food.”

Food, I think. I’m thinking of the chana masala from Royal Saffron around the corner, but there’s the Chinese place, and they have a decent curry. I offer to buy him a meal at the Chinese place. “It’s too much,” he says.

“Too hot?” I ask.

“No,” he says. “It costs too much. I just want a sandwich from Wendys or McDonalds.”

So, let me get this straight. I’m offering to pay for a meal. He doesn’t want it because it costs too much?

“Sir,” I say. “I’ll buy you meal at the Chinese place.”

He looks askance at me before saying, “No, thank you.”

Hmm… Perhaps I suspect he wanted the money… so he could buy booze or drugs… and he wasn’t really interested in food?

I had to chuckle. Grady Hendrix has perhaps captured the essence of my life.

“Herbie: Fully Loaded” is a triumph of advertising. I stumbled out of it burning with an uncontrollable desire to buy a Volkswagen, watch NASCAR, and sleep with Lindsay Lohan, in about that order. My hat’s off to the Imagineers at Disney: this time they’ve aimed low … and scored!

I can see myself walking out of “Herbie” with the same desires, although perhaps my order would be different.


May the State of California throw away the key:

Police searching the home of a convicted child molester discovered handwritten lists of more than 36,000 children’s names — mostly boys — and codes that appear to indicate how he abused them.

Whatever happens to Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller is too good for him.
Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseLast night, our City Council got a glimpse of a possible future. The future

includes six high-rise towers, a waterfront park and a traffic circle that would become the new gateway to the city.

Not that I’d be amazed, but, knowing how our fair city screws things up, I’ll be amazed. And, I’ll be thankful I own a home right downtown. If this plan happens, things will change. Gone will be the parking lot next to the Federal Building. Gone will be City Hall and the courts complex. And, how about this one right close to home: The plan calls for

Closing the northbound lanes of Crawford Parkway, making the parkway a two-lane road and using the additional land for a waterfront city park.

While I remain ever pessimistic, and cynical, I’m also ever hopeful.

In the mean time, cheers to Ray Gindroz and Urban Design Associates. Check out their work. And let’s hope our City Manager knows what he’s talking about.

“In my experience, when a city does plans, they generally come true,” City Manager James B. Oliver Jr. said. “We have some really clear emphasis now.”

Yup. A pretty picture of a possible future.
Drinking and driving just doesn’t pay; the consequences can be huge. Just ask Gary W. Waters, the sheriff here in Portsmouth for more than 20 years. He lost the primary yesterday.

Unofficial returns show W.O. “Bill” Watson defeated the incumbent by nearly 690 votes, taking 57 percent of the vote on a day of generally low turnout.

Oh, did I mention that Waters is the chairman of the Democratic Party here in Portsmouth? Yup. The party faithful gave him the boot.

Of course, here in Virginia registered voters can choose which primary to vote in. Many people I know chose the primary which gives them a chance to vote in whichever race they feel is most important. When John McCain was running for President, I voted in the Republican primary. Yesterday, I voted in the Democratic primary. Perhaps it wasn’t the party faithful who gave Waters the boot, but rather the citizens of Portsmouth who were just over him.

Last year, Waters was pulled over for DUI; he was released by the police, but the incident later came to light in the press, and Waters ended up pleading guilty to the DUI charge. Last night, Waters was at a downtown watering hole; I wonder how much he’d had to drink.

The sheriff was interviewed at a campaign party, following his defeat, at Paddy O’Brian’s, a bar and restaurant. He acknowledged the incident hurt, “apparently, quite a bit.”

November will find Watson up against a Republican candidate, the relatively unknown Ronald L. Davis.I’m all in favor of the filibuster in the Senate. It’s one way for the minority to be heard. Recently, we had the whole uprising about using the filibuster to squelch judicial nominees; fourteen Senate moderates were able to work out a solution that saved judicial nominee filibusters and still sent Bush’s nominees to the floor for a vote. Prior to that the Republicans were all up in arms about the filibuster. Now, I read this about a resolution in the Senate which will apologize for lynchings in the US. The resolution calls lynching “the ultimate expression of racism in the United States following Reconstruction.” No shit.

So here’s what has me all up in arms

Seven U.S. presidents have asked Congress to end lynching. The House passed three laws to do so, but Southern senators filibustered each one. In a country that has never formally apologized for slavery, the Senate resolution stands as Congress’ only apology for an injustice done to thousands of African-Americans.

Let me get this straight. Senators are pissed off because their colleagues use the filibuster to hold up judicial nominees, but they don’t care that Senators have filibustered laws to make lynching against the federal law! What kind of shit is that?

I want the names of every single Senator that has filibustered against lynching laws. If any of them are still in the Senate, I think somebody ought to take them out behind the woodshed.

I was struck today by three bits…

In the first, a statement from a senior Sony executive that the PlayStation 3 will have a hard drive and a linux operating system.

SONY COMPUTER Entertainment boss Ken Kutaragi has suggested the upcoming Playstation 3 will come equipped with a hard disk. And the hard disk may come with Linux pre-installed.

Kutaragi is miffed that the likes of Nintendo and Microsoft won’t call their consoles computers. Nintendo, he complains to Japanese site Impress PC Watch, “keeps telling the world their consoles are ‘toys’,” while Microsoft keeps calling the Xbox a “game machine”.

“We’re positioning the PS3 as a supercomputer”, he says, “But people won’t recognize it as a computer unless we call it a computer, so we’re going to run an OS on it. In fact, the Cell can run multiple OSes. In order to run the OSes, we need a hard disk. So in order to declare that the PS3 is a computer, I think we’ll have [the hard disk] preinstalled with Linux as a bonus.

And, in the second bit, Michael Robertson, the owner of Linspire, a high-end Linux distribution, takes a whack at Apple Computer.

I was disappointed with Apple’s actual announcement on Monday, which revealed not a bold strategy embracing the openness movement but confirmation that Apple is still a company locked in the time warp of the go-it-alone ’70s. Apple agreed to switch from processors made by IBM to special processors made from Intel over the next two years – that’s it. This is only slightly more significant than Apple choosing to change the hard disk or memory supplier it puts into its computers….

I’m sure Jobs remembers a failed experiment in the ’90s when Apple embraced a more open strategy. During that time, other companies were permitted to build Mac clones. Those companies targeted the most lucrative customers, siphoning off the high-end users who wanted the fastest machines. Apple depends on those customers to pay top dollar and uses those profits to fund their significant research and development costs. Losing them was a painful experience and Jobs shut down the clone business when he returned to the corner office at One Infinite Loop.

A more open strategy could perform differently this time if Apple put as much ingenuity to its structure as they put into their elegant software and hardware. Imagine a world where Apple encourages clone manufacturers to grow the middle- and low-end markets while keeping high-end products for themselves. Perhaps they limit clone products to a certain speed? Or maybe offer variable pricing so that computer builders would pay a percentage of the computer price for the operating system, meaning Apple would make much more if a top-of-the-line Mac clone was sold. This could significantly grow the Apple market share because price-conscious clone manufactures could attack Microsoft and grow new markets. If these clone makers did poach existing customers, it would be Apple’s least profitable ones or they would have to pay handsomely. You may be perplexed why I am inviting Apple to compete with Linspire in the PC-compatible world. I believe another threat to Microsoft would divide its counter-operative forces, and desktop Linux would continue to compete well with Apple on cost and software variety – two critical components for any platform.

And the third note is from the Motley Fool:

Apple isn’t a software company; it is, and always has been, a device company. What defines Apple? The iPod, iMac, and PowerBook. AppleWorks, Final Cut Pro, and iPhoto are cool add-ons that help sell the hardware. And that’s all.

Apple’s real enemy is Dell, plain and simple. The Intel deal aims to lure those buying computers from Dell — or Gateway, or Acer, or even iPod partner Hewlett-Packard — into trying a Mac. Everything else is a distraction.

Do I see a pattern here?Sometimes, well, sometimes you just don’t know.

This past week, Cora Grove, a long-time resident of Greencastle, PA, died. She was 87.

Greencastle is on I-81, just north of Hagerstown, MD, and east of Mercersburg, PA, home to Mercersburg Academy

Years ago, she worked at my high school alma mater, Saint James School, located just south of Hagerstown. She’d been the dietician

Cora I. (Wagner) Grove, a Schuylkill County native, married John L. Grove in 1943, beginning a partnership that would endure for 60 years. She was an entrepreneur in her own right, operating several successful restaurants in Chambersburg (the Chuck Wagon and the Tropical Treat) in the 1950s. She was also the dietician at St. James School near Hagerstown for a number of years.

So far, nothing remarkable. An old lady who lived in the country, who’d been a dietician, died…

Here’s the remarkable part: She was a philanthropist who last December gave away $3.5 million dollars, the last of a string of gifts.

And I don’t think Saint James benefited at all. Mercersburg did; who would have thought the development folks should’a kept in touch with the dietician when she left the employ of the school?

Here’s an interesting take on the Deep Throat story — told with a focus on what it means to be a mentor or a mentee. Check it out; I think there’s a lesson for all of us.Over the weekend, a pizza delivery guy was shot while making the rounds. Rather than quit the run or head to the hospital, he first finished his deliveries!

A robbery attempt by a masked man and a gunshot wound to the leg didn’t stop a pizza delivery man from making his rounds, pies in hand.

Thomas Stefanelli, 37, said dedication to his job at Hungry Howie’s Pizza kept him on the job after a struggle with a robber Saturday night left him bleeding from a bullet wound in his left thigh.

That’s dedication to the job.Pennsylvania… official tourism blogs… check it out… what are we going to see next? Blogs by church goers about their Sunday experiences? Blogs by customers of the DMV spouting about how easy it is to get a driver’s license?

I can hardly wait.

Last night, my bride was reading my blog. “You’re talking an awful lot about medicinal marijuana,” she said.

“Yup,” thought I.

But it’s not about the pot. Really. Here’s the Washington Post’s take on it; they seem to agree it’s not about the pot, but they say I have it all wrong.

THE SUPREME COURT’S decision Monday in the case of Gonzales v. Raich is a defeat for advocates of the medical use of marijuana, because the court ruled that federal drug laws can be enforced against patients even in states that would permit them to light up. But the true importance of Raich has nothing to do with drugs; it relates rather to the balance of power between the federal government and the states. The government’s crusade against medical marijuana is a misguided use of anti-drug resources; that doesn’t mean it’s unconstitutional. A Supreme Court decision disallowing federal authority in this area would have been a disaster in areas ranging from civil rights enforcement to environmental protection.

The Constitution’s commerce clause, which provided the foundation for the court’s ruling in this case, is the foundation of the modern regulatory state, underpinning since the New Deal huge swaths of federal law: worker protections, just about all federal environmental law, laws prohibiting racial discrimination in private-sector employment. Over the past decade, however, the court has tacked away from its most expansive vision of national power, emphasizing that the commerce power is not unlimited. The court said, for example, that Congress can’t use the clause to legislate against sexual assaults or to regulate gun possession near schools. That made sense; without some outer bound of the commerce power, Congress would have authority over anything. But the court’s recent reconsideration of the commerce clause carried dangers, too. Limit the legislature too much and Congress lacks the power to run a modern country whose national policy is necessarily more ambitious than it was in the 18th century.

The plaintiffs in Raich, patients who regard pot as essential medication for their conditions, contended that because their use of the drug is noncommercial and within a single state that tolerates medical marijuana, the federal government lacked the power to stop them. This may seem like an attractive principle, but consider its implications. Can Congress protect an endangered species that exists only in a single state and may be wiped out by some noncommercial activity? Can it force an employer who operates only locally to accommodate the disabled?

Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the court, emphasized the critical principle that if Congress enacts a regulation aimed at “the interstate market in a fungible commodity” — in this case drugs — “[t]hat the regulation ensnares some purely intrastate activity is of no moment.” Justice Antonin Scalia reached the same conclusion for slightly different reasons. The result is a six-justice majority that stands strongly against a revolutionary approach to commerce clause jurisprudence. While questions remain, the importance of this cross-ideological statement is enormous — even if it means the Justice Department can continue harassing sick people.

Point taken. It’s not about the pot. Sometimes I wish it was.Turns out those agents who were in favor of legalizing marijuana aren’t alone.

Polls show most Americans support medicinal use, including those opposed to general legalization of the drug.

For example, in a poll conducted last December for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), 72 percent of respondents aged 45 or older agreed that “adults should be allowed to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if a physician recommends it.”

This can be seen as part of the general public belief that individuals – not government – should be in charge of their medical care, including end-of-life care as was at issue in the Terri Schiavo case.

That support is behind the push in several states to legalize the use of medical marijuana, provided a physician recommends it. The Connecticut Senate, for one, is considering a bill that would license medical doctors to certify the use of marijuana for certain debilitating conditions; patients would be allowed to grow up to four plants for personal use.

Do I see strange days ahead?From the annals of too much reliance on technology and not enough reliance on brainpower, we find this story. Seems middle schools students can use calculators on their standardized tests, but the Texas Instruments calculators that local schools purchased can do fractions… I say let’s go back to pencil and paper and ditch the calculator altogether, at least for middle school standardized tests. Of course, since the kids probably can’t add, subtract, multiply, or divide, the calculators will help out on those tests.Chalk this one up to… inexperience, perhaps?

A .50-caliber machine gun mounted on the deck of a Navy destroyer fired in error Monday, sending a single round into an unoccupied barge at a neighboring pier.

No one was hurt; the bullet came to rest in a washing machine on the Navy barge, which will house sailors during the upcoming overhaul of another ship.

Lot’s I could say… I’ll stick with “oops.”Interesting turn of events. The Supreme Court ruled that federal law supercedes state laws with regard to medicinal marijuana.

Terminally ill patients who smoke marijuana to alleviate pain can be prosecuted for violating federal drug laws, even if their own state laws allow them to use marijuana for medical purposes, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that federal drug laws, which say marijuana has no medical value, trump statutes in 11 states that allowed terminally ill patients to use the drug or limit penalties for doing so. Although the ruling does not overturn the state laws, it means patients who use marijuana for medical reasons could be arrested and prosecuted under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

How’d they come to that? Well,

Under the Constitution, Congress may pass laws regulating a state’s economic activity so long as it involves “interstate commerce” that crosses state borders.

Hmmm… of course the case that set this ruling in motion involved a chronically ill woman who had six pot plants in her backyard and didn’t sell it. And, none of it went across state lines.

But, the bust was federal in nature.

The Bush administration said the raids were conducted under Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce–a provision that has long been the rationale for federal intrusions into traditional state functions. But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the “cultivation, possession and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and not for exchange or distribution is not properly characterized as commercial or economic activity.” If there’s no commerce, it concluded, the commerce clause is irrelevant, leaving the federal government powerless.

In the past, the Court has sided with states when there’s been no interstate commerce involved.

The high court had long stretched the commerce clause to expand federal regulatory authority. But the tribunal had seemed to edge back toward a traditional federalist position in its 1995 Lopez decision striking down a 1990 federal law prohibiting guns in school zones. In that ruling, Rehnquist, O’Connor and Thomas joined Scalia and Kennedy in ruling the federal government had no regulatory authority since the issue had no discernible impact on interstate commerce.

So, if I get this right. State laws trump federal laws when it comes to guns in schools, but federal laws trump state laws when it comes to the medicinal use of pot.

Got it. That makes a whole lotta sense.

I’m thinking those folks who want to legalize pot have their work cut out for them.

Two tales before I sign off for the moment.

Many moons ago, I attended the Coast Guard’s small boat coxswain school in Yorktown, Virginia. We had a couple of DEA and Customs agents in our class. They, federal law enforcement officers, were all in favor of legalizing pot. All the way. Tax it like any other sin product — alcohol and tobacco — but make it legal. They also did not buy into the slipper slope argument that pot leads to harder drugs; and, they were opposed to legalizing any other drugs, such as cocaine.

It was hard for me to shake my paradigm; here were federal agents who held strong, strong beliefs in the right-ness of our current laws, policies, and strategies.

Second tale involves a trip I made to Amsterdam once. I’d compare the Red Light District to the French Quarter in New Orleans except Amsterdam was cleaner, people were better behaved, there weren’t drunks stumbling down the narrow streets, and the air had a slight tinge of smoke… When it’s all in the open, it’s not that big a deal.

In the mean time, I’d suggest Angel McClary Raich, the Oakland woman at the center of the Supreme Court fight, consider moving to Amsterdam before the feds come busting back in her home to look for weed. She can blow a little boo without fear of ending up in a federal pen.

Dooced: Getting fired because of something that you wrote in your Web log.

The debate about blogging, work, and freedom of speech continues on

Blogger Heather B. Armstrong — fired from her Web design job for writing about her job, her co-workers and her life as a single girl in Los Angeles on her personal blog, —

is one of a growing number of people who have been fired for things they posted on a personal blog (Web log – get it?) or Web site. Sometimes the postings were work-related, sometimes not. The question is: with 10 million blogs in cyberspace, where is the balance between an individual’s right to privacy and freedom of speech and a company’s right to protect its image and proprietary information? And how do we establish those parameters in the free-for-all and largely unlegislated World Wide Web?

More great questions. So, what is a blogger to do?

As employers take steps to protect themselves from employee Web activity, employees are developing standards for how to blog safely. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights advocacy group in Washington, D.C., recently released a how-to guide for safe blogging. Among other things, it advises bloggers to blog anonymously.

Anonymous? Guess I’m screwed.“You mean to tell me that when the truth offends people, you’re going to change the truth?”

Questions: What should we remember as people and as a culture? What stories should we tell? Are somethings better left unsaid? Who gets to write our collective history?

Check out this bit of reporting from the LA Times on a dark side of American history and how it is playing today, 2005… At one of the few museums to stage America’s shameful past, slavery reenactors want to reflect more of the brutality

The latest on John Bolton’s nomination to be the US ambassador to the United Nations:

John R. Bolton flew to Europe in 2002 to confront the head of a global arms-control agency and demand he resign, then orchestrated the firing of the unwilling diplomat in a move a U.N. tribunal has since judged unlawful, according to officials involved.

A former Bolton deputy says the U.S. undersecretary of state felt Jose Bustani “had to go,” particularly because the Brazilian was trying to send chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad. That might have helped defuse the crisis over alleged Iraqi weapons and undermined a U.S. rationale for war.

Yup. Let’s get him through the process so he can go to New York and continue on with his partisan, parochial, steamrolling behaviors.Friday afternoon. After 5pm. And the Pentagon decides it might be time to release new info about Gitmo and the Quran.

The Pentagon on Friday released new details about mishandling of the Quran at the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects, confirming that a soldier deliberately kicked the Muslim holy book and that an interrogator stepped on a Quran and was later fired for “a pattern of unacceptable behavior.”

In other confirmed incidents, water balloons thrown by prison guards caused an unspecified number of Qurans to get wet; a guard’s urine came through an air vent and splashed on a detainee and his Quran; and in a confirmed but ambiguous case, a two-word obscenity was written in English on the inside cover of a Quran.

Yes, I’m pretty certain it is merely coincidental that the information was released on a Friday evening. Sure it was.Somehow, a conversation between news editors and the President didn’t get much play. Check this out.I’ve been thinking I’d like to win the lottery — MegaMillions, to be specific. The jackpot is $106,000,000 for tomorrow’s drawing. Take the single payout (recommended by most certified financial planners) and that would be $53 million before taxes and about $42 million after taxes.

Yeh, I could live on that. Perhaps.

Here are the top 5 signs of not spending the lottery winnings wisely:

  1. You gave Savannah and Trixie $60 mil each for a lifetime supply of lap dances — but then forgot to get a receipt!
  2. Before: You start your day with Motley Crue on the clock radio. Now: You start your day with Motley Crue live in your bedroom.
  3. “Wait a minute… if I had mink seat covers, I could drive my Hummer naked!”
  4. Most of your winnings launched a chain of Kirstie Alley Fitness Centers.
  5. You’re simultaneously dating Robin Givens
    Anna Nicole Smith and John Kerry

Hmm… food for thought. And here at MSN:

For a lot of people, winning the lottery is the American dream. But for many lottery winners, the reality is more like a nightmare.

“Winning the lottery isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be,” says Evelyn Adams, who won the New Jersey lottery not just once, but twice (1985, 1986), to the tune of $5.4 million. Today the money is all gone and Adams lives in a trailer.

Ouch. All the tales told in the MSN article have one central theme: “Everybody wanted my money. Everybody had their hand out. I never learned one simple word in the English language — ‘No.'”

Here. Let me get started. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

Got that, folks. No. I’ll be following Bob Sanford’s counsel

Of course, if I want to live life large, I could just take the top job at the White House. The President

and his squeeze don’t have to pay one thin Roosevelt dime during their four to eight years at the White House. Add up all the presidential perks and subtract the wars, natural catastrophes, and economic disasters, and it seems like a pretty sweet gig.

Title 3 of the U.S. Code is what governs the cash at the president’s disposal. Here’s the basic package: For starters, he makes a salary of $400,000 a year, plus a $50,000 expense account to defray costs relating to the “discharge of his official duties.” Traveling expenses: $100,000 per year. Entertainment: $19,000. As for taking up residence in the White House (including use of its bowling alley and movie theater), trips on Air Force 1, meals, and vacations at Camp David…all are comped.

By law, the prez is also entitled to “use of the furniture and other effects belonging to the United States and kept in the Executive Residence at the White House.” Mr. Lucky Ducky is also appropriated up to $1 million each fiscal year to spend at his discretion for “unanticipated needs” related to the national interest. Then of course there are the gifts. Finally, when his term of office is up, he is entitled to an annual pension of $157,000 per year, plus office space, administrative help, and Secret Service protection.

So, either one: win the MegaMillions or win the Presidential election. I have about the same chance with each, I figure.Hmmm… from the upper reaches of the Coast Guard’s Ninth District, this two-week old story just breaking now:

The U.S. Coast Guard has removed Lt. Cmdr. Mike McBrady as captain of the 225-foot-cutter Hollyhock because his commanding admiral said he lacks the leadership needed to command the ship and its crew.

McBrady calls the firing unfair and said it is the result of a clash of leadership styles. He is appealing the decision….

Coast Guard Rear Adm. Robert Papp made the decision May 13 to relieve McBrady.

“The cause is for personnel issues and command climate on board the vessel,” Coast Guard spokesman Chief Petty Officer Jeff Hall said.

McBrady temporarily has been reassigned to the Coast Guard Sector Detroit. Papp in a statement spoke of his disappointment with McBrady.

“I feel that Lt. Cmdr. McBrady has not met Coast Guard-wide expectation of professionalism and decorum expected of an officer of his rank,” Papp said. “Nor has he been a positive leadership example for the members of his 50-person crew.”

McBrady on Wednesday said the firing stems from his decision to promote a crew member with a history of disciplinary reprimands. He said Papp did not agree with the promotion or McBrady’s handling of the situation.

However, the differences in leadership styles do not make him a bad commander, McBrady said.

“I would not agree with that, and I would not think anybody in my crew would agree with that either,” McBrady said.

I’d say McBrady is screwed, no matter what happens. Interesting, as most relief for cause come about because of inappropriate relationships or lack of accountability of bucks or bullets.With all the discussion about stamping down on anonymous sources, here’s an idea that I’d hope would catch fire:

The US media needs a modern-day “Deep Throat” within the administration of President George W. Bush to reveal how America was “misled” on Iraq, former presidential contender George McGovern said.

“We need someone like that who is highly placed to tell us what’s really going on. We know that we were misled on Iraq,” McGovern told Fox News Radio.

Bring it on; bring it on.Well, not really, but it is generating a great deal of pundit-speak.

From the Wheeling, WV, Wheeling News-Register

He was, in short, a true idealist – a man who was concerned deeply with doing the right thing. That, we hope, is the picture history paints. And that, we hope, is the role model Felt presents to others in government – of a man truly dedicated to ethics in public service.

From President Clinton, we hear,

“I think he did a good thing, and I think it was unusual circumstances,” Clinton said Wednesday on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”

“I think Felt believed that there was a chance that this thing would be covered up,” Clinton said, referring to the break-in and Nixon administration’s cover-up. “Ordinarily, I think a law enforcement official shouldn’t leak to the press because you should let criminal action take its course.”

SIDEBAR: Also in the CNN report I learned,

The Bushes have invited Clinton to their family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, this summer.

Sometimes I’m just amazed… okay, sidebar’s over.

From Woodward and Bernstein, we catch this:

Carl Bernstein dismissed critics, many of them former Nixon administration officials, who say it would have been more honorable for Felt to resign from his post as the FBI’s deputy director.

“Clearly this person wanted to effect some kind of end to the criminality and unconstitutionality of what was occurring,” Bernstein said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“And given the stories we were writing, we’re only speculating here, this might have been the one reliable avenue,” Bernstein said. “All the other institutions were corrupted.”

Bob Woodward, speaking on NBC’s “Today” show, described Felt as “a very reluctant person in the turmoil of, ‘Am I doing the right thing, how do I get this out’.”

“We had no idea of his motivations, and even now some of his motivations are unclear,” Bernstein said on NBC.

Motivations? you ask. Try this on for size:

“It’s doing me good,” Mr. Felt told reporters outside his home in Santa Rosa, Calif., when asked how he was reacting to the publicity. “I’ll arrange to write a book or something, and collect all the money I can.”

I have to be honest: that doesn’t give me warm and fuzzies.

Even former FBI agents, and others, are getting in on the game

Retired San Francisco Agent George Grotz said the last time he logged on to a private chat room for former FBI agents Wednesday, about 60 percent of those voicing an opinion were against Felt’s decision to act as a source for Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Those who disagree with what Felt did question his motives, and believe he betrayed his government and violated the FBI tradition of not revealing investigative findings to the public until the case has been resolved.

But others believe Felt acted heroically by blowing the whistle on a crooked president.

And the current President? Well,

President Bush said Thursday that he was taken aback by the news that the bureau’s former deputy director was Deep Throat. He said he saw it as “the end of a chapter, and I probably won’t comment. It’s not appropriate for the president to get drawn into the debate.”

That’s probably the smartest thing GW said yesterday.

The Secretary of Defense weighed in yesterday, too.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who worked for the Nixon administration and has been critical of news leaks in the past, had this to say when questioned at a Pentagon news conference: “Any time any wrongdoing occurs, I think it’s important that wrongdoing be reported. Now, who one reports that to — the authorities is one thing, or somebody else is another. I’m not in any judgmental mood.”

I love his quote: Any time any wrongdoing occurs, I think it’s important that wrongdoing be reported. And then he quickly ditches with his who do you report it to comment. I’m thinking he wants all wrongdoing in the Department of Defense — including his own — reported to him. Yeh, that’s the ticket.

And, for this posting, the final word goes to someone who knows a thing or two about whistleblowing.

Stephen Kohn of the National Whistleblower Center, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., dedicated to helping government employees who report misdeeds in the workplace, said that no matter what people think of Felt leaking to the press, the law protects him from prosecution.

“A government employee swears his or her allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, not to the White House or any government bureaucrat,” Kohn said. “The American public has the right to know about illegal conduct by high-ranking officials. In the case of Felt, his disclosure options were very limited. He had good cause to believe that his chain of command would not properly address the allegations.”

For some of the most complete coverage of Deep Throat, check out the Washington Post.Gitmo and gulags: any similarities? The President says“No.”

President Bush said yesterday that it is “absurd” to compare the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay to the gulags run by the former Soviet Union.

Okay. I’ll take that on face value. What do I know about gulags?

How’s this? Prisoners included murderers, thieves, and other common criminals–along with political and religious dissenters… sometimes the inmates were physically abused by camp guards…

Or this? surrounded with walls and barbed wire, and hidden by a policy of secrecy and enforced silence… Prisoners, entirely cut off from their homes and families… Any communication with relatives was subject to severe limitations and censorship…

Yeh, I can see where the President would think there’s no similarity between gulags and Gitmo.