Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Letter of Encouragement to Assemblyman Tom Ammiano on his Bill to Legalize and Tax Marijuana

Dear Assemblyman Ammiano:

You have proposed taxing marijuana as a rich source of income for California, a state that is drowning in debt.

Your bill, AB 390 would, "Remove all penalties under California law for the cultivation, transportation, sale, purchase, possession, and use of marijuana, natural THC and paraphernalia by persons over the age of 21," and "prohibit local and state law enforcement officials from enforcing federal marijuana laws"

Good idea. Marijuana, at $14 billion annually, is California's biggest cash crop. Bigger than tomatoes, almonds or grapes. According to the New York Times:
"Betty Yee, chairwoman of the California Board of Equalization, the state’s tax collector, said that legal marijuana could raise nearly $1 billion per year via a $50-per-ounce fee charged to retailers."
Chump change compared to our $441 billion deficit. But the state has already been hit with $12.5 billion in new taxes, so an added $1 billion could be significant.

But there is one thing everyone is forgetting. Marijuana taxes area already being added to the state's coffers. Medical Marijuana cooperatives allow California residents to buy marijuana legally with a doctor's "recommendation." The recommendation itself, renewable annually, can cost anywhere from $75 to $125. And an ounce or so of pot costs from $50 to $85.

All of this is taxable and I would not be surprised to learn that it is a considerable amount of revenue. For all practical purposes, marijuana is legal in California. Legal users can grow it themselves at home if they like, but I would guess, most buy it.

If you don't believe marijuana is big business in California, check out NORML's collective list. And these are just where you can buy pot legally.

I intend to find out just what kind of taxes marijuana adds to state revenues. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Ammiano, please follow up. It's a good idea.



Note: Ammiano represents District 13, which includes San Francisco

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Congratulations, Bobby Jindal!!

Your speech following Obama's big speech to Congress was magnificent! Most of the country doesn't seem to get it, but I know your game. You pretend to be a Republican, but you are clearly a Democratic mole. How do I know? Because of the speech you gave. It was absolutely devastating to the Republican party. Several pundits commented. Here is a sample from the Associated Press:

David Brooks, a conservative New York Times columnist who has criticized aspects of the stimulus plan, nonetheless called Jindal's arguments "insane" and tone-deaf given the dire economic challenges the country faces.

"To come up in this moment in history with a stale, 'Government is the problem, you can't trust the federal government' is just a disaster for the Republican Party," Brooks said on PBS' "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer." "It's not where the country is, it's not where the future of the country is."

Fox News commentator Juan Williams focused on Jindal's delivery.

"It came off as amateurish, and even the tempo in which he spoke was singsongy," Williams said, adding that the content of the speech was "very simplistic and almost childish."

Penni Pier, a political communication specialist at Iowa's Wartburg College, said Jindal's presentation was overly colloquial and his message of less government and more tax cuts was substantively thin.

"It sounded like the same old rhetoric — we had tax cuts the last eight years, and look where it got us," Pier said. "Jindal was also trying to be so familiar, he lost credibility. Obama is familiar, but at the same time always a statesman."

Bobby Jindal, you are no fool. You know the Republican party's historical bias toward brown and black people. You are obviously posing as a Republican governor in order to help destroy the Republican party. Very clever. But you might want to tamp it down just a little. Your speech was such a blow to the Republican party even the idiots who run the Republican party might begin to get a little suspicious. You gave a speech that was a parody of the Republican party.

Kudos to you, Governor Jindal. Keep up the good work. One or two more speeches like that, and you will bury the Republicans for good. You are a true patriot. Thank you for your service to your country.



Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Obama Speech is UNFAIR

Dear President Obama,

I saw and heard your apppearance before Congress tonight. I am sorely disappointed in your speech. You were patently unfair to Republicans.

How are Republicans supposed to respond intelligently to a speech such as that? The Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal tried very hard to repond to it and failed miserably. Instead of responding, he talked about how he pulled himself up by his bootstraps (who has boots with bootstraps?), and then deplored the federal government's disgraceful response to Katrina. This was a very poor response, and perhaps Bobby Jindal is suffering an onset of dementia, forgetting that the Katrina reponse (such as it was) came from a Republican administration. So here is poor Governor Jindal complaining about how ineffectual government is at solving problems and pointing his finger at a Republican president running a Republican administration.

How are Republicans supposed to respond to calls for an end to torture, keeping close track of bailout money given to banks, serious proposals to help out homeowners facing foreclosure, close scrutiny of the spending of bailout money, priortising the economic recovery health care and education? All of this makes way too much sense. I admit, Bush was much better for both parties. The Republicans got to admire him and Bush left plenty of room for Democrats to rightly criticize his incompetence and stupidity.

But Obama:

"We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before," he said. "The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation."

How are Republicans supposed to answer a call to hope and optimism like that? It is UNFAIR to Republicans. It puts the GOP at a tremendous disadvantage. A speech like the one Obama gave tonight rallies the American people to support the Democratic program and reject the Republicans. All they can say is something like, "Obama's program will saddle future generations with debt" and "We have better ideas, the free market system," when, of course it was the free market system unfettered and Bush's expensive war which got us into this mess. Not to mention the $2 billion a week his war has cost us for several years, week after week.

Let's hope President Obama will take pity on the Republicans and give less impressive and less inspirational speeches in the near future. Otherwise he threatens to cripple the Republican party as it dithers and obstructs in its efforts to save its political future.

All they have to offer so far is Bobby Jindal, a GOP presidential hopeful for 2012. President Obama, you have got to give them a chance to do better than THAT. Just in the spirit of FAIR PLAY.



Monday, February 23, 2009


Dear Sean Penn,

I was hoping you would win the Oscar as Best Actor. Rarely have I seen an actor turn in such a truly stunning performance. I heard one crew member who knew Harvey Milk say that when he was on set he was floored when he say you walk in wearing that three piece suit. He said it was like seeing a ghost.

I hope your performance and the movie gives hope to all the young, gay people. I am sure they take a lot of crap, some from their parents, some from other kids. And sometimes they just can't take it anymore and take their own lives. It is very sad.

I didn't hear your Oscar speech, but I understand you said something about the people who voted YES on California's Prop 8. You said something like...OK, I looked it up:

"I think it's a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect on their great shame and their shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone."

Someday we will look back on the discrimination against gay people the same way we look back on flat earthers or prosecution for witchcraft.

Congratulations, Sean Penn. I have a copy of MILK and will watch it again, more than once.

By the way, the photo above is not Sean Penn. It is of Harvey Milk.



Friday, February 20, 2009

To the United States Secret Service

Dear Secret Service,

You guys are supposed to be protecting the President. As if I had to remind you.

So are you going to at least pay a visit to this idiot New York Post cartoonist, the one who penned the violent and racist cartoon featuring two cops, one with a smoking gun standing over a monkey with two holes in his chest? The other cop says, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus Bill.”African Americans have been compared to chimps and monkeys for decades. OF course it is the bigots who share the intellectual level of our less sophisticated primate cousins. It is clear that this is a racist cartoon. And it implicitly calls for the assassination of President Obama.

There are plenty of screwballs out there who might take this cartoon as a form of inspiration.

So doesn't this guy Sean Delonas deserve a visit from some of you guys in the dark suits with the shades and the wires in your ears?

I'm just sayin'



Wednesday, February 18, 2009

To Congress, CBS, NBC, ABC News and All Cable News Channels

Well, that just about covers everyone. (As if they actually will be reading this. Oh well...)

I don't get it. Millions of Americans are suffering under a system of virtual slavery devised by the big banks and no one is paying attention. The media, including all newspapers and magazines are ignoring this problem. But scratch the average Joe on the street and you'll get an earful.

I am talking about credit card debt. Beginning with Ronald Reagan and the destruction of unions and good paying jobs, decent wages were replaced with easy credit via credit cards. For many, many people, their lifestyles were supported by credit, not a good, middle class paycheck

Now millions of Americans owe billions, perhaps trillions of dollars in credit card debt. Many Americans are crushed by credit card debt. Evidence is the fact that radio ads constantly bombard us with offers from companies promising to fix our credit card debt, make it go away, with secret methods "the credit card companies don't want you to know about."

It amazes me that the media and Washington politicos have managed to ignore this problem. It is huge. It is an elephant in the room, so big there is barely room for the sofa and a table.

And the banks that own the credit cards have been bailed out with our money. The cardholders that are being held hostage are also the taxpayers who are subsidizing the these bloodsucking banks.

It's insane.

We need federal legislation that would at least limit the interest rates on credit cards. In some cases interest has soared to nearly 30%. And the banks are using federal money at zero or 2%. On top of that the credit card companies raise the interest rates whenever they feel like it.

It is more than insane.

It is criminal. And the American people are the victims of this shit. The credit card companies need to be reined in.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

To Ignorant Insensitive Parents

I took my 17 year old son to the neighborhood theatre this afternoon to see Friday the 13th, one more in a collection of horror movies starring Jason Voorhees, a murderous serial killer who wears a hockey mask and carries a machete.

Frankly I found it a bit boring. My son is a big Friday the 13th fan along with the Halloween movies, Texas Chain Saw and Nightmare on Elm Street, etc.

Friday the 13th was a bore, in my estimation because it had no discernible plot. It was shot mostly at night and consisted mostly of a series of vicious murders shot via shaky cam edited in with half second clips so that the overall effect was a bit subliminal. Still, the murders were there, with machetes, an ax, a screwdriver and other instruments of destruction.

I noted during the movie that I heard the laughter of children at some of the more gory parts. None of this really registered wtih me until the movie was over and the audience was filing up the aisle toward the exit. Half the audience was children, little children, some as young as five or six. These kids were witnesses to the mayhem on screen with their parents who had brought them to this gorefest. And I have not even addressed that fact that this movie contained a strong sexual component.

I looked at the parents with their kids and wondered who these people were, who would bring their little children to a movie like this. These kids may grow up entirely normal, with no psychological problems, but they have imprinted in their little brains the images of Jason killing people, people screaming in wide-eyed terror, and the jarring, crashing soundtrack engineered to raise the heart rate and engender fear. This can't be good for kids. No one could argue that this kind of experience is a positive thing for child development.

What kind of adults will these people be, those who laughed as little children at the sight of terrified people being murdered?

You parents who take your kids to movies like this should be ashamed of yourselves. You are ignorant and insensitive people. This was an R rated movie. "R" means that children under 17 are supposed to be accompanies by a parent. Well, these were. But frankly, I think bringing little children to a movie of this kind is a form of child abuse.

I'd like to read any opposing view. But frankly I would guess that anyone who actually would bring their little kids to this movie wouldn't be intelligent enough to write an opposing view.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Republicans Have Snookered You, Obama

Dear Mr. President,

I can't believe that a smart guy like you has been snookered by the Republicans. You did everything but kiss their ass and they gave you zip.

Here's what happened. They got enormous tax cuts for the upper middle class and the caviar class. None of this will stimulate the economy. But the Republicans believe in it. The Republicans believe in a lot of nonsense. God created everyone and evolution is bunk. Government isn't the solution, government is the problem. Women shouldn't have a right to abortion. War solves problems. The death penalty deters crime. Tax cuts stimulate the economy.

Practically every economist worth his salt will testify that tax cuts do not stimulate the economy. Yet you, Mr. President and the Democrats in Congress allowed the Republicans to hijack the stimulus plan and load it up with billions in tax cuts.

If the stimulus plan works, you get some credit, but the fact is, the stimulus plan is crippled by the Republican tax cuts. Therefore it is not likely to work. This is what the Republicans are hoping for. They would rather win the next election than help the country. Even if it works the Republicans will claim that their tax cuts were part of the solution, and your contribution will be diminished.

Fact is, there is very little if anything in the bill for middle income people. There are no limits on credit card interest, which would have helped the middle class enormously. Just that one thing would have been of significant help. But there was not even discussion of outrageous credit card interest imposed by the very banks we taxpayers have given billions.

I hope you learned your lesson from this, Mr. President. You can't work with these criminals. They need to be shut out of the system. They don't want to participate. They want you and your plans to fail. They have said as much. Their great bloated drug-addled leader, Limbaugh has said as much.

What will happen when you try to implement a national health care plan? Will you let the Republicans hijack that and put in language that will guarantee the insurance companies' grip on our health care system? Or will you have the guts to insist on real reform? Your behavior these last few weeks do not inspire confidence.

The Republicans wish to harm America for their own selfish ends. They are political terrorists, and they should be treated as such. We all hope you have learned this lesson. We all hope you will no longer work with these American Jihadists. Screw 'em. You won the election. Now act like it.



Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mr. Obama, Will You Learn That the Republicans are Not Going to Cooperate

Dear PResident Obama,

You are like a rejected lover sending Valentine flowers to a lady who does not want you. You have wooed the Republicans for weeks now, and they have simply turned you down. Any more attention and you'd be a stalker.

House Republicans gave you ZERO votes on your stimulus package. Senate Republicans gave you THREE. ANd now your Republican appointment for Commerce Secretary has told you to buzz off, he is not interested. Can you take a hint? They don't want to work with you. They don't love you and they don't want your flowers.

How about working with Democrats for a change. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are enough like Republicans that maybe they'd be happy to work with you. Invite them over for tea and cookies and ask them to act like Democrats. There's an idea.



Monday, February 9, 2009

Harry Reid, You are an Embarrassment to the Democratic Party

Alternet is reporting that the Senate Democratic leadership has given away the best and most productive parts of the stimulus package in the name of "bipartisanship.

You Democrats in Congress seem to have a wimp factor braided into your DNA. Here's part of what AlterNet says:
Reid surrendered $86 billion in proposed stimulus spending.

In doing so, the Democrats agreed to cut not just fat but bone, and to warp the focus and intent of the legislation.

The Senate plan is dramatically more weighted than the House bill toward tax cuts (which account for more than 40 percent of the overall cost of the package). This is despite the fact that there is a growing consensus -- among even conservative economists and policy makers -- that tax cuts will do little or nothing to stimulate job creation in a country that lost almost 600,000 positions in January alone. As French President Nicolas Sarkozy, no liberal, said Friday of countries that opt for tax cuts rather than stimulus: The approach "will bring them nothing" in the way of economic regeneration.

The Senate's increased emphasis on tax cuts comes at the expense of the aggressive spending in key areas that might actually get a stalled economy moving.

Spending for school construction that would actually have put people to work -- while at the same time investing in the future -- has been slashed. (Almost $20 billion slated for school construction is gone.)

Money for Superfund cleanup, Head Start and Early Start child care, energy efficiency initiatives and historic preservation projects -- all of which create or maintain existing jobs -- has been cut.

Supplemental transportation funding has been hacked.

The House's proposal to help unemployed Americans maintain their health benefits has been chopped down.

Axed, as well, has been $90 million that was to have been allocated to plan for and manage a potential flu pandemic that economists and public health experts worry could shutter remaining businesses, bring the economy to a complete standstill and throw the country into a deep depression.

The bottom line is that, under the Senate plan:

* States will get less aid.

* Schools will get less help.

* Job creation programs will be less well funded.

* Preparations to combat potential public health disasters -- which could put the final nail in the economy's coffin -- will not be made.

In every sense, the Senate plan moves in the wrong direction.

Great job, Ried. Now Obama will get a plan that is likely to fail. Did it ever occur to you that this is what the Republicans are aiming for? They want Obama to fail. Their fearless leader Limbaugh has said as much publicly.

Harry Reid, you and your fellow Democratic leaders are like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. If you only had a brain.

With Love,


Saturday, February 7, 2009

To My Dear Republican Friends

I wish some Republican would answer this question: By what logic do the Republicans think they have a right to oppose anything this president is doing to try to save the country?

You idiots got us into this horrific mess with your eight years of neocon religious beliefs in unfettered markets and darwinian capitalism. Now you insist on giving us more of the same in Obama's rescue package and if you don't get your way, you threaten obstructionism. It's insane.

It's as if you, led by the Bush and Cheney criminal crowd tossed us all into quicksand and now that the rescuers are on the way, you want to set up some roadblocks to keep the emergency vehicles away.

Republicans should--to quote Dick Cheney--shut the fuck up.

yr most obedient and humble servant, I remain,


Dear Mr. President

A lot of good stuff got cut from the Senate stimulus bill. I hope the good stuff gets put back. Did you get this list? If not, here it is: Stuff that got cut



Dear Kellogg Cereal Company

I will never eat another box of Kellogg's cornflakes or any other Kellogg product. Not after that bonehead play pulling Michael Phelps' endorsement. So what if he smoked a little weed? He's a star. He's one of the most accomplished people in the universe.

Grow up.


An Idea for Obama

Dear Mr. President, here's an idea.

Order the CIA or the Marines or some other badass combat vets to Congress. Have them take all the Republican leadership thugs into custody, McConnell and Kyle and Boehner and Cantor in the House and that bunch, and rendition them to Gitmo. Then have a version of this photograph tattooed on their foreheads, so every time they look in a mirror they will see the problem.

Actually every time they look in a mirror now, they see the problem, but they don't recognize it. Maybe this would put an exclamation point on it.


Photo by Newsguy in Eagle Rock, California

Friday, February 6, 2009

Screw the Goddamn Republicans. Stomp 'em!

Dear President Obama and the Democrats in Congress,

Will you guys please grow a spine. The latest viersion of the stimulus bill contains 42 % tax cuts which you know damn well will not stimulate the economy. The tax cuts are failed Republican ideas. The bill also cuts education and unemployment benefits, apparently at the behest of Republicans, in an effort to mollify Republicans. Yet the reports indicate only three Republicans will vote for it in the Senate.

How about CRUSHING the Republicans. How about KICKING THEM IN THE ASS. How about letting them do their damn filibuster and letting them show the entire American public what obstructionist asses they really are.

In other words, how about acting the way actual Democrats are supposed to act, instead of sucking up to these freakin' idiots. Mr. President you have already acknowledged that their economic philosophy is a failure. How about calling on the Democrats in Congress to reject their goddamn tax cuts and get back to infrastructure, education and spending for an actual recovery to benefit the middle class instead of stupid tax cuts.

You know that wealthy people who will benefit most from the tax cuts will just sock it away. That's what wealthy people do.

I am so sick of spineless Democrats. How about acting the way Republicans did when they were in charge and ramming through the bills you think are right, the bills that actually make sense? We have had quite enough of faith based policies instead of fact based policies, thank you.

I want to see some Republicans roundly defeated and whining that life is so unfair. Screw em. You won the election. Now act like it.



Thursday, February 5, 2009

President Obama, Crush Those Interest Rates!

Dear President Obama,

During the campaign, you repeatedly told us you were going to help us middle class folks. Now that you are president, it appears that your bailout package is designed to shovel cash to the Big Money Boys. I don't see much that would help the folks struggling to pay mortgages and credit card debt.

The very banks that are taking Federal Money are the ones screwing us with outrageous interest rates. While Federal Reserve rates are zero or close to zero, credit card holders are being charged 10%, 12%, 18%, even as high as nearly 30%. These are rates that used to be illegal!

And the credit card companies are using every excuse to jack up interest rates on their customers. Pay a credit card monthly minimum just one day late, and rates will skyrocket on that card and other unrelated cards. In fact, they don't even use pretenses. Card holders are getting notices in the mail that their rates are going up. No real explanation. They just do it because they feel like doing it, and because they have the legal right to change the terms of the deal on their whim. And because they can send out notices telling their customers that they can either accept the terms or not. Of course, this is no choice at all. If a customer does not accept the terms, he is obligated to pay off the entire balance all at once. Unless the customer has won the lottery, it's impossible.

Meanwhile, the banks and Wall Street Treasury Pirates have taken the money with no explanation of what they have done with it. Occasionally a scandal erupts. Some CEO gets a zillion dollar bonus with taxpayer money. Some bank buys a private jet airplane. Another bank plans a multimillion dollar Las Vegas bash for its employees. Mr. President, you have issued rules capping executive bonuses, but today the Los Angeles Times reports that they will find a way around that. And in the case of the jet and the Vegas party, those have been cancelled, but we all know that other outrageous expenditures will happen out of the public spotlight. And with our money.

Put a cap on credit card interest rates. Millions of Americans owe the credit card companies billions of dollars. We are all struggling out here. We want to pay our debts, but we want a fair financial deal at the table. And credit card rates are grossly unfair to us, the taxpayers who are paying for the bailouts. It makes sense to cap those rates. It would help ease the financial burden on Americans, many of whom are under emplolyed or losing their jobs. And any help we can get will surely help ease America's economic meltdown.

Mr. President, we voted you into office based on your promises to middle class Americans. We expect you to do all you can to keep those promises.

Los Angeles.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Letter to Olympic Gold Medal Record Holder Michael Phelps

So, Michael Phelps, someone caught you on camera smoking pot. Big deal. You've won a ton of Olympic Gold Medals. You have a ton of money in endorsements. You deserve to relax a little.

The pot laws are insane. Hundreds of thousands of people have been arrested and are in prison because they had in their possession the leaves of a plant that, when smoked, produces a happy high for a short time. We are all going to look back on this in a hundred years the same way we look back on the testing of witches in Massachusetts in the 1600s. Maybe, with luck, this insanity will end in just ten or twenty years. Enforcement of pot laws cost millions, billions of dollars and ruin hundreds of thousands of lives.

If you wish to smoke pot, Michael, come to California and get a doctor's recommendation, then go to one of our storefront collectives, walk in and buy a few buds legally. For all practical purposes, marijuana is legal in California. Anyone who buys it illegally in this state is a fool.

Someday, marijuana will just be legal, taxed and regulated. And it will be no big deal to smoke a little doobie on a Saturday night in America, the Land of the Free.



Short Letter to The President of the United States

Dear President Obama,

The Afghans drove the British out of Afghanistan. The Afghans drove the Russians out. What makes you think they can't drive the Americans out? Take a lesson from history.

Afghanistan is your Vietnam. Get our troops out. Now.