Ours is a society that has chosen to live by the sword. The story isn’t likely to have a happy ending.
Here is a five-part presentation about the history of the drug laws. It’s a fascinating story, far more entertaining and bizarre than you might expect.
Senator Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign this morning. Although I did not support her candidacy, I recognize the historic importance of her speech. Watch and listen to it: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. Full transcripts available here.
Alexis did not get to watch or listen to the speech live, as I did, so I got to sit in the background while she took it in on-line. Alexis thought the speech was pitch perfect. I think it was brilliant. Sadly, I remain profoundly disappointed with the Democrats for their failure to serve as a true opposition party. I find myself appalled at the power of corporations and frightened by the disintegration of Constitutional law in this country. It seems to me that the Ralph Nader and Ron Paul campaigns have far more intellectual and moral substance than do those of Obama, Clinton and McCain.
At the same time, I recognize the importance of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and I respect the enthusiasm that it has generated among several generations of American women. I have no doubt that this speech will be quoted for many years to come. For those whose work on Senator Clinton’s campaign has been their first taste of political activism, this address by their candidate will serve as a continuing inspiration.
Although I handed out bumper stickers for the Bobby Kennedy campaign when I was nine years old, I didn’t put any real time and effort into a political campaign until the McGovern candidacy of 1972. Sometime between now and election day, I’ll publish the campaign literature that still sits in my files, including the piece put out within weeks of Watergate, entitled “Bug Nixon Before Nixon Bugs You.”
I remember election night,1972. Everybody knew that Nixon was going to win a gigantic landslide victory. I spent that night alone in my room, with a cheap black and white television set and a cassette tape recorder. Even today, I still remember the hot tears on my face as I watched and listened to George McGovern’s concession speech, just days before my 14th birthday. I dreaded the future under a second Nixon administration. Little did I suspect at the time that Richard Nixon would leave a more progressive legacy than would any of his successors.
Have a listen to Senator McGovern’s fine speech from that miserable November evening more than 35 years ago, and imagine the sort of world we would live in if fine people like McGovern had been leading the executive branch of government instead of the ones we ended up with. As I listen to this speech again today, I recognize that McGovern was hardly the perfect candidate – yet his words and and the substance of his career continue to inspire me today.
No doubt Hillary Clinton’s speech will do the same for untold numbers of young women who for the first time have tasted politics, and political disappointment, with Clinton’s campaign of 2008.
Forty years ago today, I did my first bit of political work. For a few minutes during the afternoon of Saturday, June 1, 1968, I handed out bumper stickers for the Bobby Kennedy campaign. I was nine years old, and I figured I was a late-bloomer, seeing as how much younger kids had been active, demanding the right to drink out of any water fountain they wanted to use.
They had a campaign table on the south side of Hollywood Boulevard, close to my favorite toy store. I knew one of the young women who was working at the table. She gave me a stack of bumper stickers to pass out. Even today, 40 years later, I still remember the expressions on the faces of adults I reached out a bumper sticker to. Some people looked at me with a type of anger that I hadn’t seen before. Others took a bumper sticker and gave me a friendly pat.
Here’s a picture of me, taken a couple of weeks before my tiny role in the 1968 California Primary. I did it so my cat Tiger Paws and I could live in a freer, less violent world. The smart money was betting on the opposite outcome.
This picture was taken in 1988, twenty years ago, at UC Berkeley, bastion of free speech. Some of America’s smartest and most talented college kids thought this was a practical way to deal with the TV problem.
Alexis and I grew up in Hollywood. Our family has been connected to the entertainment business for more than 60 years. We do not have cable or any other kind of pay television. We do own a 13-inch television set. It picks up a few local stations, but mostly it is a DVD player.
Every year we watch the Oscars and the Super Bowl. Every four years, I watch the World Cup. Last night, we watched an episode of a TV show called “Boston Legal.” Actually, Alexis watched it, and I dropped in for about a quarter of it.
To me, “good TV” is an oxymoron. I’d rather listen to ancient old radio shows instead of watching TV, because the pictures in my imagination are more entertaining to me than anything that might appear on a television set. Plus, I just don’t like sitting around, observing a piece of furniture. That said, “Boston Legal” seemed to be OK. As a lawyer, I can’t say I go for entertainment based on the practice of law. The performers seemed to be having fun in this show. There’s a lot more zooming around and other camera movement than I remember being on TV, back in the day.
Here we are again, back in Berkeley in 1988. As you can see, the Authorities sent several uniformed officers with guns – to protect the televisions! After all, this was Reagan’s last year in office, and those folks knew how important it is to keep the people watching TV and not thinking about politics. But let’s don’t blame Reagan. That guy was reading a teleprompter on TV and he conducted his cabinet meetings off of cue cards written for him by others. He wasn’t in power; like the current stooge in the White House, he was merely the Acting President.
Yesterday’s court decision was a remarkable achievement – by the Chief Justice and his colleagues in the majority. This is an amazing bit of scholarship and philosophy. Here is a link to the text of the decision.
Basically, the court says it’s not ruling on the merits of same-sex marriage, but on the constitutionality of the ban. In CA, statutory interpretation requires looking at the overall scheme of laws when considering an individual law. Since same-sex partnerships have all the rights of married couples in the eye of the law in CA, since sexual orientation is a protected category under civil rights law, and since there’s a fundamental right to marry, the court said the government had to show that the ban was necessary to serve a compelling state interest. This is the “strict scrutiny” standard of review.
Here’s a three and a half minute video I have produced on the decision for Juris Vodcast.
Organized Crime has its own newspaper! Because I have a fancy education and ended up a member of the ‘investor class,’ the Wall Street Journal let me have a year’s subscription to its expensive fish wrap for a mere $99. The year ran out with the May 8 issue, which you see gracing the top of our recycling for the week.
Wow, what an amazingly bad newspaper! Karl Rove is deemed an astute commentator, and Henry Kissinger is considered an elder statesman. No corporate crime goes undefended in this paper, and no regulation goes uncriticized. Insane crackpots are the rule, not the exception. This is the newspaper of war mongers and, even worse, war profiteers.
Rupert Murdoch, an embodiment of evil, took this lousy paper and made it even worse. This is no mean accomplishment. Murdoch has made the Wall Street Journal even more stridently partisan and even less literate.
Now, just where did I put that invitation to try the Financial Times for a year, cheap?
25 years ago today, I was a second year law student at the University of Southern California. Here is what was on my mind as I sat in one of the big amphitheater classrooms. A typed translation of the scribbling follows, below.
“I sold pot in the U.S. A quarter ounce. It cost me 40 years in jail, where I have been raped and beaten. The Supreme Court says this is not cruel and unusual.”
“Hi! I’m a rich, deceased lawyer. My picture is up in room 1 of the USC Law Center. I was convicted of tax fraud, but over the years I donated $160,000 to USC.”
“I’m Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. Who says my brains need to be reasonably related ty my job?”
“I’m a haggard USC 1st year law student, the victim of a brutal socialization (brainwashing) process. I feel as if my arms have been tied behind my back.”
“I’m a woman associate at a large law firm. My chances of becoming a partner are cut by my dislike of playing softball and my interest in becoming a mother as well as a 1st rate attorney.”
“I’m a fertilized egg in the womb of a poor woman. I present a threat to the life of the woman I’m inside. The courts say it’s OK for the government to deny the woman a free abortion, despite the direct threat to her life.”
Today is the 28th anniversary of my assassination. Fortunately, since I was raised by cats, I have more than one life to give for school and country.
In 1976, KFI was a good radio station. It carried the Dodgers broadcasts, had a real news department, and was part of the NBC radio network. KFI was part of the local community, too. Back then, a teenager could win his first chance to fly in an airplane from the station by taking a few minutes to enter a local essay contest.
Today, the station is just another brick in the wall of downsized corporate propaganda.
But wait! Take a look at the topic of the essay. “Why I am proud to be an American.” It’s not as if they said, kids, in 25 words or less, explain “What America Must Do to Live Up to her Promise.”
Back in the mid-1970’s, I spent a lot of time entering speech contests at places like the Lion’s Club. They would usually ask us to speak on topics such as “What the Flag Means to Me.” You’d always get a free meal, and often a pass to stay out of a period or two of class. Plus, it was a fine way to become a better speaker.
I remember once giving a talk to a room full of WW2 Vets, back in ’75 when I was a scruffy teenager, on the topic “What is Patriotism?” I recalled Hiroshima, our support for the Shah of Iran and Apartheid South Africa, and our recent expensive and humiliating defeat in Vietnam. I noted that my earliest memories included the assassination of President Kennedy, and that I got my driver’s license a few weeks after President Nixon resigned in disgrace. Looking out at the audience, I saw a lot of angry guys, including one who was holding an ash tray in his right hand as if he might be thinking of throwing it in my direction. “Patriotism,” I concluded, “is the feeling all of you have right now. You love your country and most of you defended it with your lives when you were only a few years older than I am now. I look around me today, and I feel the most patriotic thing I can do is to stand up and say that our country has lost its way…” (A different teenage orator won that particular contest.)
Back in ’75, when I won this extremely expensive, fun trip, I remember a friend being impressed with me for “giving them what they want, for a change.” Although obviously what I wrote was what they wanted, when one of my teachers gave me the KFI contest form, I approached the exercise sincerely. I like being challenged to express an idea in few words. At the speech contests, I figured the point was to be sincere, to challenge the audience rather than pander to it.