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Bennett Black Needs Marijuana to Live. John Kavanagh Wants to Take It Away from Him.

8:33 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

medical marijuana

I read something just now that makes my blood boil:

It starts the minute he wakes up and puts his feet on the floor. The nausea quickly builds from the base of his stomach to the back of his throat and he tries to think mind over matter but matter generally wins and this is just the beginning of the day. The really hard time, he would tell you, comes later in the afternoon, when he must force down the pills he needs to stay alive and hope they stay down. Food? The thought of it makes him gag and this goes on day after week after year. His parents wonder whether he can survive it. So far, in 14 years, Bennett Black has only found one thing that eases the nausea enough so that he can eat, so that he can live.

That’s marijuana.

Now there’s a move afoot to repeal the medical marijuana law that Arizona voters have approved three times now. Bennett Black’s father is hoping the Legislature will take a pass on [state Representative John] Kavanagh’s bill to put repeal on the 2014 ballot.

Back in 1997, when Bennett was 14, he was hit by a car while riding a Go-Ped. This caused brain trauma that led to life-threatening grand mal seizures so severe that the best specialists in the nation haven’t been able to totally stop them despite many years, treatments, and surgeries. The anti-seizure pills he takes do cut down on the number of seizures, but at the heavy price of a constant nausea that renders eating virtually impossible and his waking life a living hell. Frankly, I’m amazed he didn’t give up years ago.

The only reason he’s able to eat at all is because a couple of years after the accident, after Bennett went from 180 pounds to 114 pounds because he couldn’t get, much less keep, anything down long enough for it to be absorbed into his body, a sympathetic neighbor with neck problems suggested to his mother Cindy that he try marijuana. It was a godsend. It allowed him a brief period each day to have a fighting chance to eat — and, more importantly, to digest — enough nourishment to stay alive.

There were a couple of problems with this treatment. One was that it was illegal to use pot, even for medicinal purposes, at the time that Bennett first tried marijuana. The other was that Bennett’s father is former U.S. Attorney Mel McDonald, a Reagan appointee who enforced and even helped set Reagan-era policies in the War on Some Drugs. The family had to live a strangely bifurcated existence: Cindy procured the weed, Bennett consumed it — and Mel, the U.S. Attorney, made a point of staying well out of sight on both sets of occasions, so he wouldn’t be witness to something he would have to consider as a crime even as it saved his son’s life. The advent of legalized medicinal marijuana has enabled the family to have something more closely resembling a normal state, and Mel McDonald’s attitude towards medicinal marijuana has done a 180-degree turn, as he’s seen how it’s helped his own son. But they now face the possibility of being forced back into the shadows again because of Rep. John Kavanagh’s bill to put repeal of medicinal marijuana on the Arizona ballot.

Why does Kavanagh want to repeal the state’s medicinal marijuana law? Because he apparently thinks that the people taking advantage of it are all plain old recreational dopers and that no real doctor would actually approve of it: “No medical authority would say it’s helping you. They all say it’s harming you.” As anyone who’s studied the medical marijuana debate for more than five minutes knows, this is a lie; there are many, many studies done by many, many doctors and scientists showing the efficacy of marijuana as an anti-emetic, among other things.

Bennett Black needs marijuana to live. John Kavanagh wants to take it away from him. It’s as simple as that. Read the rest of this entry →

Lies and the Lying Liars That Revive Them

3:56 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Amazing, how over the span of eight-plus years, high-powered conservatives with a national reach are touting themselves as such helpless little infants, so untutored in the ways of society, that they can claim they’re unfamiliar with something that’s present in every sports bar and many fast-food places, and has been for over two freaking decades: “closed” captioning on TVs.

I am not kidding. Sarah Janacek and Kellyanne Fitzpatrick did it in late 2002, and Jim Hoft’s doing in early 2011:

It appears that Gateway Pundit saw a picture of the Tucson rally, in which the Jumbotron was featured. He then mistook the closed captioning as “instructions” for the audience to applaud.

That’s right, folks: A bit of technology that every sports bar, many regular bars, and many casual-dining restaurants have possessed for nearly three decades is somehow so unfamiliar to these self-styled wise ones that they can allegedly mistake it for “applause signs”.

If this sounds awfully familiar to some of you, it should: It’s the same bogus story that was bruited about after the Wellstone memorial:

Kellyanne (Fitzpatrick) Conway went on TV the day after the memorial and told a nationwide audience that the Jumbotron instructed the crowd “when to cheer and when to jeer.” (The speeches were close-captioned and would indicate when there was LAUGHTER and APPLAUSE.)

Even though the words on the closed captioning followed the speaker’s words by five or so seconds and were often misspelled, Sarah Janecek, a Minnesota Republican lobbyist, said the speeches on the Jumbotron were proof that the speeches had been written and vetted by the cynically politically motivated Democrat who ran the event. Actually, the people who spoke at the Wellstone memorial were all chosen by the families of those who died. No one’s speech was vetted. The Wellstone people had all spent the previous five days going to funerals. It never occurred to them to vet the speeches. The irony is that because they weren’t thinking politically, they opened themselves to being accused of staging a political event.

Janacek’s tried to deny all of this, but I — and several other persons who were at the event and/or heard Janacek’s dishonest commentary on it on Minnesota Public Radio the morning afterwards — know better. Here’s Techno, a regular Balloon Juice commenter and personal friend of Paul Wellstone:

@Doctor Gonzo:
It is true what you say about this stupid slander about closed captioning being used after the Wellstone funeral. In fact, it was first said by that execrable Republican hack Sarah Janecek on MPR the day after the funeral.

The reason I remember this so clearly is that I was driving my car and got so upset at this lie that I had a heart attack and wound up in the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. I have not knowingly conversed with a Republican since that day except to insult them. I am STILL angry about that cynical lie.

And here’s Velveteen Ocelot commenting at Democratic Underground:

She was all frothing at the mouth about the memorial right afterwards, lying out her ass on local Hate Radio about how the organizers were using closed captioning to prompt the crowd, and going on about how horrible and partisan and scripted it was. Maybe she realizes how full of crap she was and feels bad about it now; or maybe — more likely, I think — she just wants to distance herself from the truly repellent Katherine Kersten, who really went off the deep end in that obnoxious column. I was doing some volunteer work at one of the DFL offices just before that election, trying to get out the vote for Mondale, and Al Franken showed up and got after Janacek on the phone to call her on her bullshit. I know what she said then, and it was 180 degrees from what she’s saying now.

A caution to those conservatives who, like Jim Hoft, are tempted to revive and repurpose the Wellstone event “applause signs” smear, or any other of the smears originated and disseminated by Republicans about that event: The lying by Republicans about the Wellstone event in Williams Arena was so egregious and so infuriating that it did two (2) things: it led to the rise of the reality-based, progressive side of the blogosphere, and it caused Al Franken to decide on a career in electoral politics. Do you all really want to risk anything like that happening again?

UPDATE: TBogg notes that at least one other right-wing blogger is jumping into the fray on Hoft’s side — even as his own commenters try vainly to correct him. And when a person who actually works as a closed-captioner tried to explain to Hoft and his fan base how closed-captioning works, one of them looked him up online, found out he was gay, and decided that meant his word couldn’t be trusted. Oy gewalt.

Arizona GOP Precinct Staff, Fearful Of Tea Party, Resign To Avoid Bullets

6:14 am in campaign finance, Government, Politics, Republican Party, Tea Party by Phoenix Woman

photo: longhorndave via Flickr

If “both sides do it”, as the righties and their media defenders like to say, why is it that both sides fear the far-right teabaggers more than anything else?

This morning’s latest example, via DKos (I’m sure there will be more before lunchtime):

In an e-mail sent a few hours after Saturday’s massacre in Tucson that killed six and injured 14, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Miller told state Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen he was quitting: “Today my wife of 20 yrs ask (sic) me do I think that my PCs (Precinct Committee members) will shoot at our home? So with this being said I am stepping down from LD20GOP Chairman…I will make a full statement on Monday.”


The newly-elected Dist. 20 Republican secretary, Sophia Johnson of Ahwatukee, first vice chairman Roger Dickinson of Tempe and Jeff Kolb, the former district spokesman from Ahwatukee, also quit. “This singular focus on ‘getting’ Anthony (Miller) was one of the main reasons I chose to resign,” Kolb said in an e-mail to another party activist. Kolb confirmed the contents of the e-mail to the Republic.

When was the last time a Democrat (or a Republican) resigned any sort of position because he or she feared being shot at by folks on their left wing? Answer: Never.

Oh, and when Tweeting stuff like this, the hashtag is #BothSidesDONT

Protesting Too Much? Right-Wing Attacks on Sheriff Dupnik Are Tacit Confession on Their Part

7:10 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Jon Kyl

There’s an old Bill Cosby routine, called “Shop”, on the album Why Is There Air? that is quite apposite to the events of the past two days. In it, Cosby describes how his junior-high-school shop teacher tricked the guilty party into tacitly confessing to having put a bullet in the shop class furnace — and without directly accusing the kid or even so much as saying his name. With the right-wing attacks on Pima County, Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, we’re seeing something rather similar play out.

Just as Cosby’s shop teacher didn’t directly accuse any of his students of being the one who put the bullet in the furnace, Sheriff Dupnik, without naming persons or ideologies directly, blamed the political climate in Arizona for making possible the shooting of Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and several others. And, just as the kid who put the bullet in the furnace inadvertently revealed himself — “I didn’t put the bullet in the furnace, and stop talking about my mother!” — the attacks by conservatives on Sheriff Dupnik, who never once said the words “conservative”, “Republican”, “Tea Party”, or “right-wing” when discussing the creation and creators of the climate of bigotry and prejudice, stand as a tacit admission that they know full well they are responsible for having created it.

First off, we have the nuttier of Arizona’s two nutty far-right senators, Jon Kyl, who said this on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday morning:

First, I didn’t really think that that had any part in a law enforcement briefing last night. It was speculation. I don’t think we should rush to speculate. I thought that the report that we just saw from Tucson seems to have it about right: We really don’t know what motivated this young person except to know he was very mentally unstable as was pointed out in the piece.

It’s probably giving him too much credit to ascribe a coherent political philosophy to him. We just have to acknowledge that there are mentally unstable people in this country. Who knows what motivates them to do what they do? Then they commit terrible crimes like this. I would just note Gabrielle Giffords, a fine representative from Tucson, I think would be the first to say don’t rush to judgment here.

Um, except the sheriff didn’t do any of what you claim he did, Senator. Unless you’re going on the record as approving of Arizona’s becoming the capital and mecca for prejudice and bigotry?  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Media, Conservatives Try to Hide Their Roles in Promoting Hate-Filled Climate

1:17 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Courtesy of Talking Points Memo.

(Crossposted from Renaissance Post.)

Yesterday afternoon, at a press conference to discuss the Tucson, Arizona shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and over a dozen others — a political hit that has so far resulted in six deaths, a nine-year-old girl’s among them — Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was quite clear on who he thought was to blame in egging on a mentally imbalanced suspect with ties to the right-wing racist hate group American Renaissance. From FDL’s Jane Hamsher’s liveblogging of Sheriff Dupnik’s news conference:

Says Giffords was the target, and that there were 2 incidents occurred in a “very vitriolic” campaign. Someone in an “angry audience” dropped a weapon out of their pants. Another incident where windows were broken out of her office. At her office at Swan and Pima right now, suspicious package being investigated.

The 22 year old suspect does have a criminal past. Says this is how “unbalanced people respond to vitriol coming out about ripping down the government. Arizona has become the capital. We have become the mecca of prejudice and bigotry.” Believes people who are unbalanced especially, like the suspect, are extremely susceptible to vitriol.

Interestingly enough, there has been an effort by the media organs that have served as enablers of the peddlers of vitriol to minimize, if not outright conceal, their roles in spreading it. One method is to simply pretend that Sheriff Dupnik — a man who, as an Arizona law enforcement officer, has been a first-hand witness to the effects of this media-promoted vitriol — didn’t say what he said. This method is the one used by Carl Hulse and Kate Zernike of the New York Times, who in this story on the shootings scrubs out Sheriff Dupnik’s comments on media-enabled vitriol helping to make Arizona the capital and Mecca of prejudice and bigotry as assiduously as various right-wingers such as Sarah Palin and Giffords’ Republican opponent Jesse Kelly have been scrubbing their websites of crosshairs and other implied threats directed at Representative Giffords. Meanwhile, Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander is ordering the press to stop talking about Palin and the Stalinesque “Commissar Vanishes” removal of this inflammatory material from right-wing websites; knowing how the corporate media usually leaps to fulfill the requests of their GOP allies, I suspect this will happen very shortly.

. . . Read the rest of this entry →