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Pot’s Uphill Toke in Florida, CIA Torture Cover-Up, Obama Between Two Ferns, Dieudonné: The Live Wire

| March 12, 2014

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They’re marathoning all over the place. But it has a cost.

Today’s Live Wire: Quick Links


Medical Marijuana in Florida: No Sure Thing

For the people's pot.

For the people’s pot.

From the St. Pete Times: “Medical marijuana enjoys broad backing in Florida, with polls in the past year indicating that 65 to 70 percent of voters support the idea. But passing a constitutional amendment to legalize medical pot may not be the cakewalk that such numbers suggest. Florida requires a 60 percent majority to amend the state Constitution. Older voters — who usually dominate turnout — favor medical marijuana, but not as strongly as younger voters do. […] Tallahassee consultant David Johnson, who generally works for Republicans, found 65 to 70 percent support for the amendment in his own personal polling but thinks that will dwindle. […] The Florida Sheriff’s Association, the Florida Medical Association and other opponents will carry moral weight, [Republican consultant Rick] Wilson said, but “I don’t think they are going to be spending much money. […] Pro-amendment forces enjoy the deep pockets of Orlando lawyer John Morgan, who spent nearly $4 million to get medical marijuana on the ballot. Spending for the campaign will depend on opponents, Morgan said. “We will see how much offense there is to see how much defense we have to put up.” Morgan is planning TV ads in September and October “with real people who have real-life experiences with diseases.” Campaign director Ben Pollara expects a budget of at least $10 million. If the campaign gets expensive, so be it, Morgan said. Among other things, he said, he has discovered that publicity over medical pot brings in clients.” The full story.

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The CIA Torture Cover-Up

Repressed memories.

Repressed memories.

From a Times editorial: “It was outrageous enough when two successive presidents papered over the Central Intelligence Agency’s history of illegal detention, rendition, torture and fruitless harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects. Now the leader of the Senate intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, has provided stark and convincing evidence that the C.I.A. may have committed crimes to prevent the exposure of interrogations that she said were “far different and far more harsh” than anything the agency had described to Congress. Ms. Feinstein delivered an extraordinary speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday in which she said the C.I.A. improperly searched the computers used by committee staff members who were investigating the interrogation program as recently as January. Beyond the power of her office and long experience, Ms. Feinstein’s accusations carry an additional weight and credibility because she has been a reliable supporter of the intelligence agencies and their expanded powers since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 (sometimes too reliable). On Tuesday, the C.I.A. director, John Brennan, denied hacking into the committee’s computers. But Ms. Feinstein said that in January, Mr. Brennan acknowledged that the agency had conducted a “search” of the computers. […] Ms. Feinstein said that when Senate staff members reviewed thousands of documents describing those interrogations in 2009, they found that the C.I.A.’s leadership seriously misled the committee when it described the interrogations program to the panel in 2006, “only hours before President Bush disclosed the program to the public.” The interrogations included a variety of brutal methods, some of which — waterboarding in particular — were unequivocally torture. […] The Justice Department now has a criminal investigation to conduct, but the C.I.A. internal review and the Senate report must be released. Ms. Feinstein called on President Obama to make public the Senate report, which he has supported doing in the past. She said that this would “ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation will never again be considered or permitted.” The lingering fog about the C.I.A. detentions is a result of Mr. Obama’s decision when he took office to conduct no investigation of them. We can only hope he knows that when he has lost Dianne Feinstein, he has no choice but to act in favor of disclosure and accountability.” The full editorial.

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Obama Between Two Ferns

From Politico: “Valerie Jarrett said Wednesday that President Barack Obama’s appearance on Funny or Die’s “Between Two Ferns” has been “overwhelmingly successful” at calling attention to Obamacare. Jarrett said on “CBS This Morning” that before she went to bed last night, the video of Obama’s interview with Zach Galifianakis had 10 million hits. But more importantly she said, the traffic on HealthCare.gov has gone up 40 percent between Tuesday and Wednesday. […] “It wasn’t hard to get him to participate,” Jarrett said of the president.” Meanwhile, Bill O’Reilly couldn’t resist: ““The Affordable [Care] Act is dubious to say the least, and using a comedic website to enroll people is a little bit desperate, don’t you think?” O’Reilly said Tuesday on Fox News’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” […] But O’Reilly, who praised the president as “quick” with a “good sense of humor,” wasn’t laughing. […] While O’Reilly said he didn’t have a problem with the video “in general,” he raised questions about whether the timing hurts Obama, citing the economy and recent tensions with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Putin is clearly testing the president. It looks like Putin believes the president is a lightweight, will a comedy video counter that? Just asking,” O’Reilly said.” Watch:

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Kevin Bacon on 1980s Awareness

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Dieudonné, the Comedian France Loves to Hate

dieudonne-comic-hateFrom the New Yorker: “It’s still early January, but 2014 is shaping up to be a big year for the French comedian Dieudonné. The mayors of three French cities have moved to cancel his upcoming shows, insisting that he has repeatedly violated French laws against inciting racial and religious hatred and denial of the Holocaust. The French-American basketball player Tony Parker apologized for, he said, inadvertently offending people by posing with Dieudonné while making a gesture called the “quenelle,” which was invented by the French comic. Many people insist that it is a kind of inverted Nazi salute, but Dieudonné claims that it is simply a defiant “up yours” to the establishment. (Never mind the little joke he made about the gas chambers at a recent performance.) After ten years of legal cat-and-mouse games, in which Dieudonné—originally Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, the son of a man from Cameroon and a white French woman—has been convicted several times for inciting racial hate, the government of François Hollande appears to have decided that enough is enough. […] The Cannes Film Festival banned his movie “L’Antisemite,” (“The Antisemite”), in 2012, but by all accounts his career has thrived, financially and otherwise, in an atmosphere of controversy. According to Libération, the Paris daily, Dieudonné generated revenues of 1.8 million euros through his performances and the sale of merchandise in 2012, for a profit of 230,000 euros. […] Dieudonné has made a career out of walking (and often crossing) a fine line between mocking racial stereotypes and using them. He got his start in the nineteen-nineties, working with a Jewish comedian named Élie Semoun. The two formed an odd couple of French comedy—the funny-looking, little Jewish kid and the big black man. Their act consisted mostly of reciprocal insults, with some gay-bashing mixed in. After watching many Élie and Dieudonné videos, I have to confess that I found nothing witty or funny in them. In one, Dieudonné says to his Jewish partner, “The Germans should have finished the job in 1945.” […] On Thursday, the French Conseil d’Etat backed the decision of the mayor of Nantes to cancel Dieudonné’s performance there. “The Republic has won,” said Manuel Valls, the minister of the interior, on hearing the news. “One cannot tolerate preaching of hate of the other, racism, anti-Semitism, or Holocaust denial. That is not France.” Yet this may prove a temporary and even Pyrrhic victory. The performance in Nantes was cancelled, but some six thousand people still showed up to buy tickets. And more challenges await in other cities on his planned tour. The matter may eventually come up before the European Court of Human Rights, as a question of right of assembly and expression.” The full post. Here he is in a compilation from 2005:

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Ricky Gervais on Celebrities

ricky gervais muppets profileFrom the Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Gervais, 52, plays a villain named Dominic Badguy in the next Muppets movie, “Muppets Most Wanted,” to be released on March 21. […] Mr. Gervais didn’t become a Muppets fan by way of any children. He and his longtime girlfriend don’t have any, and he argues that too many people do. He jokes that parents who want children should have to apply for licenses before they do so. “You’ve got seven children?” he says, pretending to be a law-enforcement officer. “Why do you want another one?” […] Mr. Gervais says that he doesn’t enjoy embarrassing people—but he doesn’t hesitate to share his own views, even if they make others uncomfortable. “I have truth Tourette’s,” he says with a grin. In 2011, Mr. Gervais made waves for roasting Hollywood stars at the Golden Globe Awards, but he thought the criticism was overblown. “You usually have to be a serial killer to get that many inches” in the press, he says, adding that “offense is taken, not given.” He went on to host the Golden Globes again in 2012. […] Along with working on “Derek,” he has recently extended his old “The Office” character’s life in an online series called “Learn Guitar with David Brent” and is planning to make a feature film with him. Mr. Gervais also performs around the world as a standup comedian. […] “I’ve got a nicer house, and I travel comfortably, but that’s about it,” he says. “I don’t do drugs, I don’t race cars, I don’t gamble, I don’t buy jewelry, and nothing I couldn’t do when I was poor have I started doing when I was rich,” he adds. “I always acted like I was a famous cocky bastard.”” The full story. Watch Gervais on the Daily Show:

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Yellowstone Falls: An Anselm Adams Anniversary

Yellowstone Falls by Ansel Adams

Yellowstone Falls by Ansel Adams

Yellowstone became the first Federally protected national park by the Act of Congress signed into law on March 1, 1872. From ourdocuments.gov: “In the years preceding the Civil War, U.S. Government exploration made the nation keenly aware of its western lands. Once the war resolved the question of survival of the Union, the national government turned more attention to settlement of its western territory and exploitation of the continent’s wealth. […] Civilian explorers eventually replaced military engineers. On the Federal level, Clarence King, John Wesley Powell and Ferdinand Hayden, proceeded with the collection of information from the field followed by classification, organization of information, and publications of the findings of their surveys. […] Hitherto the West had been a place to cross over on the way to the Pacific coast or a place of mystery, fearsome in either case. Now it became America’s wonderland. Photographs and canvasses conveyed the monumental size and geological complexity of the region and enticed viewers to experience its scenic splendors themselves. What historian William Goetzmann calls “the cult of Naturalism” was an extension of the Romantic worldview, where the individual sought out unspoiled wilderness to experience nature’s power first hand. As once tourists had flocked to Niagara Falls to revere the sublime, virtually sacred vista and to revel in the patriotic pride at America’s natural blessing, western sites such as Yosemite and Yellowstone now became popular vacation destinations. Public knowledge and the popularity of the wilderness paradoxically posed a threat to its survival. The settlement and commercialization of western lands inevitably followed their opening. […] Years before Theodore Roosevelt and the era of Progressives, these public servants formulated guidelines for prevention or reformation of abuse, fought for and erected the structures of bureaus and commissions to advance their agenda, and trained experts in the science and social sciences who would be agents of reform. One of the most imaginative and uniquely American responses to the endangered wilderness was the invention of the national park system. In 1864 the State of California reserved Yosemite as a parkland. The Federal Government followed shortly afterward. Early trappers and army explorers had been profoundly impressed by the upper reaches of the Yellowstone River, a region called Colter’s Hell. Ferdinand Hayden surveyed the area in 1871. Upon his return to the East, he mounted a campaign to promote, but also to protect, the natural wonders he had seen. He quickly wrote a well-received article for Scribner’s Monthly that included fellow expedition member Thomas Moran’s illustrations. He provided Charles Bierstadt, brother to the artist and a leading manufacturer of stereographic cards, with copies of William Jackson’s expedition photographs. He lobbied members of Congress by presenting them with an album of Jackson’s Yellowstone photographs. He was supported in his effort by Jay Cooke, the railroad magnate who anticipated increased tourist ridership on his lines serving the Yellowstone area. On March 1, 1872, Congress passed into law the act creating Yellowstone “a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” (From Westward Expansion: 1842–1912, Records from the National Archives Teaching With Documents.)

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Today’s Limerick (John Updike)

There was an old poop from Poughkeepsie,
Who tended, at night, to be tipsy.
Said he, ”My last steps
Aren’t propelled by just Schweppes!” –
That peppy old poop from Poughkeepsie.

–John Updike

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