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Walton Brown’s Reefer Madness November 24, 2010

Posted by bermudashorts in Uncategorized.
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I’m still struggling to understand Walton Brown’s editorial in the Royal Gazette today. He mentions that “We have to first listen and better understand young people before we can begin communicating with them on this issue.” so why don’t we start right here…

Mr. Brown firmly states that he is not in favour of legalisation or decriminalisation. Yet, one of his main ideas for marijuana policy is decriminalisation. He believes that people should not be given criminal records for posession. That is decriminalizing pot, Mr. Brown, I’m not sure why you think otherwise?

The one thing he got right in this editorial, “smoking anything is not good for you”. Correct, smoking is not the healthiest practice. However, smoking weed is a lot less harmful than smoking cigarettes.

I’m not sure whether his portrayal of the pro-legalization arguments are misrepresented on purpose, or out of misunderstanding.

He states that the “juvenile” juxtaposition of alcohol’s legality and weed’s illegality is unfounded. He argues that moderate amounts of alcohol have health benefits while smoking weed has none. I suppose that is true if you put it that way. However, the “juvenile juxtaposition” is based on the idea that alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, which it is. Alcohol can make some people angry and violent, and it goes without saying that drunk driving can be lethal. When you compare that to the only “dangerous” effect of smoking marijuana (its bad for your lungs), this argument makes a lot of sense. If someone smokes a lot of weed, chances are they may eat an extra bag of Cheetos or fall asleep and will probably be too lazy to even get behind the wheel of a car. If our government does not want to “validate the use of something that so clearly destructive” they had better outlaw alcohol, cigarettes and ban all cars with combustion engines.

He also does not buy the argument that legalization and taxation would earn revenue for the government and end the profitability of the illegal trade, which I don’t quite understand. If the government grows, taxes and regulates the selling of weed, chances are the price of what you pay for say an eighth would go down dramatically. The government has the ability to put any person growing a bunch plants in their closet, out of business via economic strangulation. There is also not just tax revenues to be gained, but huge savings in the police, prisons and court system. Money that can be better allocated to fighting real crime.

He mentions that he’d like to lower demand, much like the demand has lowered for cigarettes in the past 30 years. People have stopped smoking cigarettes because they are extremely bad for you. Everyone has seen the anti-smoking ads where they list the different harmful chemicals in cigarettes. Your average joint doesn’t have those. People won’t stop smoking weed for the same reason, mainly because it is less harmful than smoking cigarettes. Truth be told, there is no way to stop people from smoking weed.

If Mr. Brown want’s a meaningful conversation with young people about weed, he’ll have to understand that most young people enjoy getting high and don’t want to be fed a bunch of lies about marijuana’s ill effects.

ps. I suggest that Mr. Brown go and pay a visit to California. Although they didn’t pass Prop. 19, weed is practically legal anyways.

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Correction November 18, 2010

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Okay, so false alarm. There will be no PLP primary to challenge Dale Butler.

Party Switch November 17, 2010

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Today’s headline in the paper got me thinking; if Michael Dunkley does indeed switch parties what does that mean for the BDA and UBP?? It would be  a huge switch.

For the BDA…

While the political lightweights over at the BDA could benefit from the firepower that Senator Dunkley would bring. They have great ideas, but not quite enough balls or charisma to make people listen. However, the switch may tarnish the image that the BDA is trying to build (a new party), at least in the eyes of the PLP and perhaps the public. They have tried to escape from the PLP criticism, that the BDA is really just another wing of the UBP, a criticism that I think they have distanced themselves from as they have gotten a look at the BDA’s membership and potential candidates. A switch like this will most likely set them back. Michael is seen as old, white UBP (mostly just because he’s a white guy who’s stuck around for a while)remember the attacks on him during the 2007 Election? If this happens, it may just turn on the PLP spin machines again. However, there is no question they would see a little benefit from a political heavyweight like Michael Dunkley.

For the UBP…

Without question a major blow. They will lose one of their most essential politicians

This is all speculation of course. I think that the RG essentially printed a rumor, it is a pretty slow news cycle.

Watching the news tonight. VSB reported that Dale Butler is being challenged for his seat by Jonathan Smith, the former police commissioner. I guess it will come to light in the next few days how this primary process will work. It will also be interesting to find out who put Jonathan Smith up to the task of challenging for the seat. It has become very clear over the past few months that the Progressive Labour Party no longer has any time for their most progressive MP. If I were Mr. Butler, I would switch parties or become an independent immediately. I’m sure the only thing keeping him in place is his constituents. Not out of fear of losing their support, (I think he’ll have it forever) but switching allegiances would seem dishonest in his eyes.

It seems pretty clear to me, as someone who would like for him to work for Bermuda, not just the people of Warwick whatever. He’s been pushed way too deep into the backbench.

Could be a good week for the BDA?

Oh and congratulations to Marc Bean on winning Ewart Brown’s old seat. The BDA’s drug test challenge was dumb. Who really gives a shit? If you really want the electorate to take you seriously, don’t bring a wet noodle to a gun fight, talk about real issues to make a statement. Last I checked, MP drug use was not a real problem facing Bermuda. Nobody cares if you’re drug free or not. Oh, that is unless you are the UBP’s candidate. People may want to know if you’ve stopped using cocaine, fresh off of your drug sentence.

End of Discrimination of Sexual Orientation? November 9, 2010

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Not likely. Glenn Blakeney’s statement regarding the legislation was in the beautiful bullshit language that we hear from politicians more often than not. He did not make a solid commitment to pushing the motion through. My biggest problem was with this part of his statement. “We’re looking at doing some things that we believe will address the concerns of the various stakeholders in the community regarding sexual orientation, without compromising the integrity or moral fibre for some who might be concerned, with regard to spiritual and/or religious beliefs.”
May I remind the Minister that there is no such thing as compromise with this issue. Passing this legislation has nothing to do with offending conservative or religious Bermudians, it is about discrimination, protecting human rights, one of a government’s main responsibilities. Our government should be looking out for the rights of individuals that are being discriminated against, not compromising the “moral fibre” of backwards thinking people. This statement to me, sounds like Mr. Blakeney is not really ready to tackle this rather simple issue that has been constantly dismissed.
The reason I am not optimistic about the outcome, is because even if the bill is tabled, it will face practically the same audience that Renee Webb’s bill faced in the house in 2006. Here’s to hoping that MP’s on both sides will not be as cowardly as they were in 2006. This isn’t a morally difficult discussion like gay marriage. This is about ending discrimination and beginning a deconstruction of homophobia that is rampant on our island.

Thursday and Friday November 5, 2010

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Hey, sorry, there won’t be any posts on Thursday or Friday. I am in the process of moving. Check back during the weekend or Monday for some fresh material.

Ha-hah! November 3, 2010

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Very happy with the story on the front of the RG this morning. To see my related post in tourism, click here

More thoughts on Cabinet November 2, 2010

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With a little more time, thought and information. I’ve had a couple of revelations.

1. While the breaking up of the Finance Ministry is good for the most part, there are problems with Customs and Immigration.

The creation of the Business Development and Economy, Trade and Industry (ETI) Ministries will hopefully bring more focus to tackling Bermuda’s troubles in all of those fields. However, I have a feeling like Customs and Immigration are going to end up being massive clusterfucks. The subdivision of Customs into Finance and National Security doesn’t make too much sense. You are separating a department that works together, in doing so you create the risk of non-communication, more bureaucracy and nobody being in charge. Same goes for the “work permit regime” going to ETI and “border control” going to National Security. Work Permits and Border Control also need to work together, so again, separating them seems unnecessary and holds the same risks as Customs. I may be over hyping the relationship between all these departments, someone tell me if I am. I just think that separating will further confusion instead of decreasing it.  Hopefully, the Premier has thought this out a little more than I have, and I am wrong. I would love to be wrong.

2. Glenn Blakeney

I expressed in an earlier post that I think Glenn Blakeney should be out of Cabinet. I believed that he should not have  control of Sport, who he’d screwed in the last administration. Unfortunately, it falls under the Youth and Families Ministry (the social rehab and youth and sport ministries zombie). So I reiterate my desire for him to be out of control of Sports. My first reaction to him being Youth and Families Minister was, “huh? the guy with his own family troubles?” But after thinking about it a little more, he may be the perfect one to tackle our social problems, he has witnessed first hand how guns and violence tears a the social fabric of our nation.

3. Ministry of Public Information Services

Still not explained.

4. There’s a rumour circulating that Zane DeSilva got picked for Minister of Health because he will be building the new Hospital. That’s laughable, I think there is enough space between the BHB and government if anybody is seriously worried about that.

 

FYI Government Press Release November 2, 2010

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This explains my questions in the earlier post today

“Premier, The Hon. Paula A. Cox JP, MP unveiled significant changes in the composition of Ministries today. In the Finance portfolio retained by the Premier, HM Customs has been streamlined to permit a newly styled Minister of National Security to have responsibility for border control and interdiction while the revenue collection function remains within Finance.
Signaling her clear intention to tighten controls on spending and project management, the Premier also assumes responsibility for the architectural design and construction section formerly within Works and Engineering and it is joined with a new division of contract and project management to form a Procurement Office.
“I promised to reconfigure and reshape the way we do business and these changes deliver on that promise,” the Premier said.
“The heartland of Government’s care and concern for the people…” the Premier said in describing the Ministry of Youth, Families and Community Development. This new Ministry will administer the transformational Mirrors programme and combine the “helping” services of Financial Assistance and Child and Family Services. Youth, Sport and Recreation and the Department of Human Affairs round out this community-based ministry. “Minister Blakeney will forge key partnerships in a continuum of care catering to all aspects of making our communities stronger and empowering our youth and families”.
Under new Attorney General and Minister of Justice Michael Scott, the portfolio combines the Department of Corrections, Department of Court Services and the Department of National Drug Control. “The administration of justice must be cohesive and providing one Ministry will all the elements to prevent recidivism is key,” the Premier continued.
Two new Ministries among those created demonstrate a keen focus on the Island’s economy. Sen. Kim Wilson becomes Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, which assumes responsibility for the work permit regime as well as “the natural synergy” between Labour and Training.
The Ministry of Business Development and Tourism sees a return to Cabinet of Mrs. Patrice Minors who will be tasked with heading the development and growth of the Island’s existing twin economic pillars: International Business and Tourism. “This is an exciting area,” the Premier continued. “There has long been a desire to better align these two sectors and combining these responsibilities with an emphasis on development will instill confidence in Bermuda and our future in these two areas.”
A clear and sharp focus on public safety issues is evidenced in the new ministry of National Security. Lt. Col. David Burch will now add border control elements of Customs to his portfolio and retains the Police and the Bermuda Regiment. “Combining these critical functions under this experienced Minister will result in a stronger interdictive force against the scourge of drugs and guns in the community. This flows from the Gang Task Force joint initiative and will strengthen the efforts of our uniformed, front-line services,” the Premier indicated.
“This Cabinet unites significant experience with fresh faces and we are committed and well equipped to meet the challenges facing Bermuda today.”

New Cabinet! November 1, 2010

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The new Cabinet appointees at Government House today

Paula Cox has appointed an interesting new Cabinet. Not a real surprise that my predictions were way off. I had a feeling that we might see Dame Jennifer Smith return from the backbench. I think that she will make a fine minister, although by judging her history of lavish spending while she was Premier makes me wonder if she’s going to have the balls to cut the education budget. I hope she doesn’t, I am totally against cutting education, it would be a huge mistake to do so.
I think that some of the new cabinet posts are improvements. Having a Business Development Ministry is an important one, especially because retail is struggling so hard. Kim Wilson’s new post also sounds interesting, Economy, trade and industry. Looks like she will be the one to tackle the international business troubles. Not sure what the Public Information Services Ministry will cover? Wasn’t there one of those in No.1 shed? Sounds like they’re making Neletha Butterfield a librarian, it might just be a bad name…
The Colonel’s new post as Minister for National Security is well suited for him, but do we seriously need a National Security Ministry? I guess it depends on what is meant by “national security”. If it means combatting gun crime, I’m all for it, but if they mean it in the American sense; looking for terrorists, that might be a little silly.
So what’s missing? A sports ministry. Not sure if the gazette forgot to print who was Sports minister, or whether there is simply no sports ministry.
Also missing, Dale Butler. It seemed certain that he would serve in Cabinet. This may be proof that he no longer has a place in the PLP. From my perspective, Dale is one of the few in the PLP that has modern, progressive social views, so it is sad to see him not included.
I guess we will hear detailed descriptions of these new ministries in the coming days. I am excited to hear what they have planned.

Monday’s Agenda. November 1, 2010

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Check back later today for reflections on cabinet choices and perhaps a little more 🙂