Morning Links

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
  • USA Today tracks the remarkable recent progress toward the legalization of marijuana.
  • The Catholic church can’t bring itself to defrock priests who diddle little boys, but it’s perfectly willing to expel a little girl from private school because her parents are lesbians. (Standard libertarian disclaimer: The church is free to make its own policies about its schools. And I’m free to criticize it for those policies.)
  • Sean Penn not only continues to defend tyrant Hugo Chavez, but suggests imprisoning American journalists who criticize Chavez.
  • D.C. councilman who pushed smoking ban now asks for exemptions for his favorite events.
  • This is just a damned nice story. Conan is great.
  • Panel recommends D.C. cop who brought gun to a snowball fight get a 10-day suspension.

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49 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  PaedragGaidin | 

    As a Catholic, I’ve pretty much given up hope that the current generation of bishops and priests will ever achieve a modicum of common sense on sexuality. It’s come to dominate every aspect of the Church. And it sucks all the more because of all the great good the Church does…when it doesn’t allow backwards first-century sexual morality to taint its charitable work (this means you, Archdiocese of Washington!).

    In my more cynical moments I wonder if Penn and co. are getting paid by the likes of Chavez, but then I realize that the more movies these jokers make, the more brain cells they seem to lose.

  2. #2 |  Ron | 

    Not trying to pick a fight, but why are you a catholic if you don’t believe what they teach?

    My parents did the same thing — went like lemmings every Sunday, spent the rest of the week railing about how wrong the church was on this and that and the other thing.

    I’m gakld at 16 I saw it for what it was, ie., one big fraud, and left in the middle of my confirmation class and never went back.

  3. #3 |  Ron | 

    “I’m *glad* at 16… ”

    not enough cofee this morning.

  4. #4 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “Let’s face reality,” he says. “Taxing and regulating marijuana will make it less available to children than it is today.” — James Gray

    Wow. This guy was a judge. Such critical thinking skills he possesses.

    If this statement is not outright false, it is at a minimum unprovable.

    This clown would have earned my respect if he had said, “Let’s face reality. Decriminalizing marijuana is the right thing to do because it is wrong to dictate to an individual what one can put in one’s body.”

    Every fucking goddamn thing has to be about the children. Fuck the children already. Doesn’t anyone give a shit about adults? How about people in general?

    I wonder if any other species on Earth loathes being a member of its species like I loathe being part of the human race.

  5. #5 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “Sean Penn, appearing (perhaps as part of the terms of his probation) on Politically Incorrect, achieved the impossible: he managed to sound like even more of a dick than that smirking feculent pus-crust Bill Maher.”

    I believe we have another candidate for Quote of the Year, and possible nominee for best three-word phrase of all-time.

  6. #6 |  Ira | 

    So, I’m guessing the parents are all married, were virgins before marriage, faithfully attend mass and confession, have never had an abortion, don’t eat meat on Friday’s during Lent and all this is documented in some fashion by the Diocese.


  7. #7 |  Aresen | 

    I wonder how long Sean Penn would last if he actually had to live in Venezuela?

  8. #8 |  Andrew Williams | 

    Liked the Conan story. He’s always seemed genuinely human to me, which can’t be easy in a soul-sucking business like show business (like no business I yadda yadda yadda)

  9. #9 |  J sub D | 

    The Fraternal Order of Police said Detective Michael Baylor learned about the proposed suspension Tuesday and plans to appeal. The police union is representing Baylor, who does not have an attorney.

    If he’d shot ssomeone during his hissy fit, the FOP would still be defending him.

    Police unions are a large part of the the LEO arrogance and abuse problem.

  10. #10 |  Tolly | 

    So, 10 days of paid time off for an officer who angrily chose to turn a good-natured winter occurrence into a potentially violent incident.

    But for some civilians who make the mistake of clipping a police officer with a snowball – – there’s potentially a YEAR of jail time.

    Is it any wonder people are getting fed up with this and trashing the reputations of the departments in question?

  11. #11 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Keith Stroup and his NORML brigade finally come ’round after 4 freakin decades of pot politics. Christ, that was quick.
    Funny how those darker blue states are the highest
    in corruption, obesity, Honky-tonk religion,
    energy consumption, incarceration. The list goes on.

  12. #12 |  J sub D | 

    “Let’s face reality,” he says. “Taxing and regulating marijuana will make it less available to children than it is today.” — James Gray

    Wow. This guy was a judge. Such critical thinking skills he possesses.

    If this statement is not outright false, it is at a minimum unprovable.

    Fron The Partnership for a Drug Free America

    … the number of teens in grades 9-12 that used alcohol in the past month has grown by 11 percent, (from 35 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2009),

    past year marijuana use shows a 19 percent increase (from 32 percent in 2008 to 38 percent in 2009). [emphasis added]

    Noting the difference in the time frames it appears that legal (for those over 21) and regulated alcohol has significantly more use from teens than illegal marijuana. I would expect a small but measurable uptick in teen reefer use were it made legal.

    Like politicians, I happily trumpet the benefits of a change in the law.
    Unlike politicians, I don’t lie about the downsides.

    P.S. I hope my HTMLology works on this comment. Lacking a preview makes getting it all right a bit more difficult.

  13. #13 |  Ride Fast | 

    Up with Tolly.

    How does punishment with a vacation work??? Whoever proposed that is angling to be disciplined with a free hookers and open bar Caribbean cruise, at least.

  14. #14 |  Mattocracy | 

    Sean Penn is a tyrant. He likes his own kind. He’s the Dick Cheney of Hollywood.

  15. #15 |  Zargon | 

    This clown would have earned my respect if he had said, “Let’s face reality. Decriminalizing marijuana is the right thing to do because it is wrong to dictate to an individual what one can put in one’s body.”

    Well, at the beginning he did say something to that effect, before he went on to explain all the PC reasons legalizing drugs is a good idea, because he’s trying to change the game by playing it, so his real audience is the vast majority who’s brains are pretty much incapable of parsing an argument for drugs from a personal rights standpoint.

    He won’t be successful in making any substantial change in the system. My hope is simply that as a judge, he prevents more pointless, wanton destruction of human life than he participated in as a prosecutor. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes by the book when he’s on the job.

  16. #16 |  Andrew | 

    Penn is clearly a smarmy dick, but he also clearly meant that comment in a tongue-in-cheek manner, it’s assholish to suggest otherwise.

  17. #17 |  Howlin' Hobbit | 

    In the USAToday article Tom McLellan sez: “We have an enviable process by which we approve medications, and that’s through the (Food and Drug Administration)…”

    Enviable? By whom? Snails, because it moves slightly faster than they do? Pirates, because they wish they could rake in that kind of dough? (Costly process, y’know.)

    Or maybe just Big Pharma, who like to justify the ludicrous costs for many of their products.

  18. #18 |  Michael Chaney | 

    “Let’s face reality,” he says. “Taxing and regulating marijuana will make it less available to children than it is today.”

    This probably is a true statement. His other statement that it’ll hurt street gangs is also spot on.

    When you create a legal market, most black markets go away.

  19. #19 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Panel recommends D.C. cop who brought gun to a snowball fight get a 10-day suspension.

    They don’t say if it’s with or without pay. This comes back to my eternal concern – why are they turning a criminal matter into an administrative matter? (Rhetorical question, I know why) There were multiple crimes committed by that nut, and he should be prosecuted. His suspension from the force should be irrelevant as he can’t do his job from a jail cell…

  20. #20 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “Let’s face reality,” he says. “Taxing and regulating marijuana will make it less available to children than it is today.” — James Gray

    #18 | Michael Chaney — “This probably is a true statement.”

    Noting your careful hedge, I have to respectfully disagree with you Michael. Alcohol is difficult to produce, so the average teen is extremely unlikely to distill his own alcohol.

    Marijuana can be grown just about anywhere, inside or outside. The black market may disappear, but private growers will proliferate. Any teen who wants to get high will still be able to get high at exactly the same rate as today. That is is the essential nature of marijuana and why the establishment fears it so — it is extremely easy to produce privately. Not so with alcohol, meth, opiates, etc.

    That being said, my point is that what Gray said is unfalsifiable, at least until the system he proposes is installed. And his motivation of “for the children” is a piss-poor foundation anyway. Marijuana should be legal just because it’s a matter of essential human liberty.

  21. #21 |  Cackalacka | 


    I believe this Gray feller is the same guy who Radley posted a Youtube video of earlier this week.

    In it, he does a good 5 or 6 point, upside/downside (vast majority being upside) honest assessment of what a decriminalized outcome would look like.

    It should be noted that he starts with the “Government back the eff up” argument before hand, and progressess to identify solid rationales, like enforceability, diversion of resources, etc.

    He spells out the child-use-dropping argument (which if you follow Portugal, the Dutch, or any other nation that has decriminalized, is fairly evident, if counterintuitive) for probably for the EXACT SAME reasons you take issue with; namely, the principle argument against re-legalization is the “WONT SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!?” histrionics.

    Don’t get too upset at a pre-emptive soundbite. Just about every ethically challenged abridgement of rights starts with a child safety rationale.

  22. #22 |  kant | 

    Cynical, I would disagree with you on the ease for production. distilling alcohol i won’t comment on because i don’t know how hard/easy it is to do but brewing alcohol is actually very simple.

    For brewing beer (i’ve done it and it’s fun) it’s about a day’s worth of work and a couple weeks of letting it sit in a dark closet (fermenting process; which requires no work).

    whereas cannabis is a plant it requires regular attention for 3+ months.

    Will that stop people from growing their own? absolutely not. but i’m unconvinced that it will be more prolific than today’s home brews.

  23. #23 |  max | 

    Anyone who thinks a 14 year old has the patience, discipline, and foresight to locate a private place (ie away from mom and dad) to grow a pot plant, obtain seeds illegally, raise the plant, and then breed out a strain with any kind of potency, has not met a 14 year old in a long time, I think.

    It is a common misconception that pot is “easy” to grow. Pot plants do grow like weeds, but growing a plant that actually produces mind-altering substances is a much different matter (and as someone who has made moonshine before, while the latter is more difficult it’s not by nearly as much as you think). There’s a reason that entrepreneurs in CA are getting rich offering classes to people who want to grow pot — it takes a lot of effort and skill. And, by the way, it’s also pretty expensive, unless you’re doing it in quantity.

    No one knows whether child use will go up or down with legalization. (though I think you’re pretty callous, Cynical, to ream someone for caring about this. Whether you like it or not, it matters.) But to the poster who offered some stats on alcohol and marijuana use (from the Partnership, no less – I’m sure there’s no conflict of interest there), I’d invite you to take a look at stats for teen cigarette use after the implementation of the “We Card” campaign. They dropped *way* down, and have trended below teen marijuana use ever since. I think there’s good reason to see that as a closer parallel to marijuana use than your alcohol comparison.

  24. #24 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Alcohol is hard to make? On what planet?

    The ancient way of wine making was to stomp the grapes and let the juice flow into indentations they’d carved into rocks. They would then go back in a few weeks and get the wine. It’s not rocket science. Making *good* stuff is a little harder…

  25. #25 |  Sean L. | 

    “…I’m unconvinced that it will be more prolific than today’s home brews.”

    I’ve never had an interest in home brewing. But the day it’s legalized here in CA, I’m planting a garden!

    (Just count me as one data point in your anecdotal arsenal.)

  26. #26 |  MacGregory | 

    Whether or not the “for the children” argument for legalization has merit, I certainly like the idea of turning the tables on the drug warriors.

    “You’re against legalizing it? You don’t want to protect the children? You must hate kids.”

  27. #27 |  Sydney Carton | 


    You are obviously exaggerating for effect, but in doing so you’re only showing yourself to be unfair. There is a plenty of stories about abusing priests in the Catholic church who have been removed and defrocked.

  28. #28 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Thanks cackalacka. I was looking at Gray’s comments from a narrow perspective.

    Kant, along with my response to Max below, I’ll concede that I’m overestimating the ease of growing good quality marijuana, to the extent that an average teenager or layman may have the patience and desire to undertake it.

    Max, I’ll grant that growing marijuana may be tougher than I initially claimed. I mean, if you’re after world-class type stuff rather than dirtweed, I’ll go ahead and grant that to you. I’m looking at it as an avid gardener who would have no trouble putting in the effort. Your assessment of the modern average 14-year-old may be spot-on — I admit my reference is my own memory of the resourceful friends I had in my teen years. The times have probably changed. My point was that rationalizing marijuana legalization based on its effect on teenage use is a very weak argument — IMHO the individual liberty argument is rock-solid. And my point is that there is no crystal ball and no way to do a controlled experiment (case studies of Portugal and the Netherlands, small homogenous societies, notwithstanding). There are similarities and differences regarding the cigarette argument — those same modern 14-year-olds aren’t about to roll their own cigarettes, let alone plant a field of tobacco, so I see more differences frankly as growing pot is easier.

    Thanks for the solid rebuttals, Max, Kant and Cackalacka.

  29. #29 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Michael, how many friends of yours made alcohol as kids? When I was 16, I was buying beer and liquor from the local liquor store and I was underage obviously. It was much easier to buy it than make it. How many of your adult friends make it? It’s still easier to buy it. It may not be “hard” to make alcohol, but there’s a reason why stories of teen homemade stills don’t make the news — they don’t exist.

    Since getting pot is extremely easy these days too, I suspect there aren’t many teens growing it for the same reasons. Should taxing and regulating it come to pass and it gets more difficult for teens to obtain it (simply a guess), then it’s possible home-growing might tick up. Anyone’s guess.

  30. #30 |  Mo | 

    The statement that making it legal and regulated makes it harder to obtain isn’t that far fetched.

  31. #31 |  Waste93 | 

    I think that legalizing marijuana would actually make it easier for kids to get. Here’s my reasoning. Alcohol is illegal for under 21’s. But it isn’t that hard to get. Kids can use a fake ID, raid their parents liquor cabinet, or get friends to buy it. Same would apply if they legalized it. Also another factor. If you legalize it it will likely lower the cost. Lower cost means it would be easier to afford. People could grow their own for personal use where it wouldn’t be taxed. Part of the cost of it now is because it’s illegal and smuggled. Even with the tax on it, it likely would be cheaper than it is now.

    I’m not saying not to legalize it. However to say that doing so would make it harder for kids to get seems rather far fetched.

  32. #32 |  Alex Russell | 

    “‘Let’s face reality,’ he says. ‘Taxing and regulating marijuana will make it less available to children than it is today.’ — James Gray Wow. This guy was a judge. Such critical thinking skills he possesses. If this statement is not outright false, it is at a minimum unprovable.”

    “I would expect a small but measurable uptick in teen reefer use were it made legal.”

    There’s a difference between availability to children/teens and propensity of children/teens to use. There might indeed be some uptick in propensity to use among teens if marijuana were suddenly in the “legal” column. But there would still be a describable reduction in easy availability to teens. If pot were legal, most people would obtain theirs legally, in which case an age limit could be enforced; extralegal channels would wither, and home growing would decrease for lack of need. So access to marijuana without an age limit getting in your way would grow harder.

    Back when I smoked pot in the late ’80s in southern New Mexico, there were a number of marijuana “droughts” – which I later discovered had never happened in the high school. Apparently the ease of networking from all the kids getting together in one big building had resulting in the teens vacuuming up all the pot. High school access exceeded adult access. The most you can say about the effect of cell phones and the Internet since then is that they may possibly have caused adult access to pot to come closer to equalling teen access! A legal regime would reverse this imbalance by making adults fairly reliable gatekeepers. You could call this result “unprovable” in a vague sense, because any illicit teen use would be covert, but it’s hard to see how it could be “outright false”.

  33. #33 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Heh, I remember the “Drought of ’85!” Those were dark times indeed. Affected my high school too.

    Lively discussion, but all it really proves is that none of us knows jack, myself included.

    The only way we’ll know the effects on teenage American society is if marijuana is legalized, decriminalized, regulated, whatever, and then studied for years. And my hypothesis is that teen use would remain fairly constant, owing to ease of production.

    This is why I revert back to first principles and rest comfortably knowing that if the first principles are sound for liberty, then the consequences are acceptable, regardless of anyone’s personal opinions.

    It is the politicization of opinion, and its codification within the State, that causes the greatest harm. The War on Drugs, specifically marijuana, is among the greatest evidence for this I know of.

  34. #34 |  Steve Jean | 

    @Cynical, et al.

    Good points about the abominable “for the children” template for squashing liberty. Regardless of whether more or fewer children smoke pot, it is wrong to punish adults for growing, selling, buying, or using marijuana.

    Also, it’s wrong to tax it, because the government isn’t actually contributing anything to the marijuana market and has no excuse to take a cut of the profits, other than it’s bigger than us and has lots of people with guns. After all, that’s just replacing the mafia-style mentality of getting a take of the black market because they’re more powerful than the other gangs who would like to operate in that neighborhood. Why is racketeering legal when done by office holders?

    A year or two ago, I saw a documentary on Discovery or a similar network. There were police task forces dedicated to catching moonshiners. They displayed glee at being able to occasionally outsmart the scofflaws. They couldn’t argue that they did it “for the children” or that the drug being confiscated was horribly dangerous and not fit for consumption by anyone, because they could go to the nearest store and buy that same drug. It was almost surreal to see that going on in modern times. Are there task forces for hunting road-side produce vendors who don’t charge sales tax? Or, is it just the “vice” aspect that makes these people tick?

    If politicians could figure out how to tax consensual sex between people not married to each other, they’d be sending out SWAT teams to execute no-knock warrants because, you know, the couple could have time to stop the copulation. Damn, I better shut up about this before I give anyone any ideas.

    One more thing about “the children” argument. Again, appealing to consequences is not a justification for punishing grownups who aren’t doing anything wrong. That said, after a few years of marijuana being legally on the open market, I’d guess that the demand would trend more towards younger people. Getting very drunk or stoned loses its appeal for most people when their bodies get older and it takes longer to recover. Also, marijuana isn’t addictive like alcohol, nicotine, or narcotics. That’s all speculation on my part, of course. And, again, all moot with regards to the question of rights.

  35. #35 |  David Chesler | 

    “I ask kids all the time, and they’ll tell you it is easier to get marijuana than a six-pack of beer because that is controlled by the government,” he said, noting that drug dealers don’t ask for IDs or honor minimum age requirements.

    I was in college right when the legal drinking age was going from 18 to 21, and we made almost exactly that argument then — they can raise the age for alcohol, but they can’t raise the age for pot.

  36. #36 |  MDGuy | 

    I think it’s kind of pointless to argue whether legalization would drive use up or down among teens. First, there’s the irrelevance of it, as Cynical points out – teen use shouldn’t even matter because it’s an issue of basic liberty. But beyond that, all recreational drugs wax and wane in popularity over time, which is governed more by cultural forces than prohibition efforts. So teen use could drop or rise, and either way, there’d be a whole lot of people claiming it’s connected to the legal status of the drug, when in reality, that rise or fall may be better explained by the popularity of the current chart-topping rap star or the latest summer blockbuster.

  37. #37 |  Marty | 

    after seeing huffing becoming more common again, I vote to give the kids as much weed as they want. the legal alternatives kids come up with are far more dangerous than smoking a little reefer or munching on a few brownies…

    heroin would be much better off legalized, also. a batch that’s cut strong will wipe out a bunch of junkies in a weekend. hepatitis c is a nasty byproduct, also….

    cocaine and meth should be easy to get, too. too many meth heads building meth labs in their water bed pedestals (or wherever) and burning their apartments, motel room, trailer, parents’ house, etc down to the ground.

    we should be talking about legalizing and making POTENT recreational drugs safe- it’s a joke that we’re even debating whether marijuana should be legal or not. I guess dipping and lacing marijuana would be concerns, but I suspect that’ll go away with legalization.

  38. #38 |  Frank | 

    Does Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School have that much of a waiting list that they can afford to kick out a student? From what I’ve seen elsewhere, Catholic schools are hurting for kids and tuition, and a number have be shut down or consolidated.

    The Denver Archdiocese has just shot themselves with both feet.

    And I’m surprised that DC detective is getting any disciplinary action at all. A previous commenter is right that he should be defending his suspension from a prison cell, but that’s not going to happen any time soon. Some pigs are more equal than others.

  39. #39 |  Frank | 

    A further thought: I wonder what Sister Maripat Donovan would make of what’s going on in Denver? Or did the Archbishop run her out of town?

  40. #40 |  Chuchundra | 

    I have one thing to say to Sean Penn. Never go full retard.

  41. #41 |  Growler | 

    #2, isn’t being gackled a sin?

  42. #42 |  Darryl | 

    I’ve gackled ever since puberty–even after I got married, but I’m not Catholic so is it still a sin? I need some expert theologian to help me out with this–preferably female who won’t talk to my wife–ah shit–my wife is reading over my shoulder–gotta go!

  43. #43 |  deadcenter | 

    10 day suspension. Unbelievable.

    Want to send the message that drawing a gun on a snowball fights is the wrong reaction? 60 days with no pay and require him to burn through any vacation he has banked before being allowed back.

    Personally, the guy should be fired. Drawing a gun on what at its worst could be considered vandalism, assuming the snow ball actually damaged the Urban Assault Vehicle…er…Hummer is clear evidence that the guy does not have the disposition to be a cop.

  44. #44 |  Michael not Mann | 

    Hasn’t it been well established that Chavez didn’t win the last election. Chavez knew which voting machines were going to be inspected before the election. The statistics show he lost. And Carter came out and said the world should ignore the election fraud and accept Chavez as the winner.

  45. #45 |  CRNewsom | 

    @#44 Didn’t the exact same thing happen recently in Iran? Didn’t the US (read: administration in power at the time) basically stand behind a known dictator with nuclear weapons ambitions while at the same time attempting to admonish said ambitions?

  46. #46 |  Michael not Mann | 

    There were some in the Bush administration that moved to reclassify Venezuela from elected socialist to dictatorship. That’s what flipped Carter out.

    I don’t know what Iran is classified as. You might what to check with Obama’s Chief Diversity Officer.

  47. #47 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    That is is the essential nature of marijuana and why the establishment fears it so — it is extremely easy to produce privately.

    It certainly is a unique condition. What oh what would the ruling class do if the peasants could grow their own?

  48. #48 |  Will | 

    10 days off for waving around his pistol and they want to give those kids who threw the snowballs a year or more prison time.

  49. #49 |  KBCraig | 

    Here’s the reality of the DC snowball cop: the comission proposed 10 days suspension (which means withoutpay). The deciding official will reduce that to 7 days. And then after appeal, it will be further reduced to 3 days, so that he gets a nice back-pay check.

    Here’s my take on the arguments of reduction in use of legalization of marijuana versus alcohol: a weekend party pack of alcohol for you and all your friends is easy to interdict, because it’s several armloads of beer, or several bags of liquor. Contrast that to a weekend party pack of marijuana, which slips right into your pocket.

    I agree that both substances are nobody’s business, and total legalization reduces abuse all around. I agree that the “tax and regulate” model is wrong, because it’s doneso much to stop teenagers from driving drunk. [insert eye-roll}