Bush Officials Continued DEA Raids Two Days After Obama Inauguration

Two days after the inauguration I wrote that Obama was starting out very well. Unfortunately he could not reverse everything done by the Bush administration immediately. The same day I noted several positive moves, officials from the Bush administration remained in some positions and were still pursuing Republican policies at the DEA  according to Americans for Safe Access:

DEA Raids Dispensary, Exploits Transition as President Obama Takes Office

Advocates call on president Obama to quickly change harmful, outdated policy

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided a medical marijuana dispensary today in South Lake Tahoe, California, in the first days of the new Obama Administration. Even though President Barack Obama had made repeated promises during his election campaign to end federal raids in medical marijuana states, many high-ranking Bush Administration officials have yet to leave office. For example, still at the helm of the DEA is acting Administrator Michele Leonhart, who has been responsible for numerous federal raids in California, following in the footsteps of her predecessor Karen Tandy. Neither Eric Holder, President Obama’s pick for U.S. Attorney General, nor a new DEA Administrator, have taken office yet.

“Whether or not this unconscionable raid on a medical marijuana provider is the fault of federal officials from the previous administration, President Obama has an opportunity to change this harmful and outdated policy,” said Caren Woodson, Director of Government Affairs for Americans for Safe Access (ASA). “We are hopeful that these are the last remnants of the Bush regime and that President Obama will quickly develop a more compassionate policy toward our most vulnerable citizens.”

Medical marijuana and an unknown amount of cash was seized during the raid today from Holistic Solutions, but no arrests were made. This first DEA raid under the new Obama Administration is another example of more than 100 raids on medical marijuana providers that have occurred in California over the past two years. While the greatest federal enforcement has occurred in California, the DEA has been active in other states as well. Federal agents raided the Washington State offices of a medical marijuana advocacy group that was supplying starter plants to hundreds of authorized patients. In Oregon, a federal grand jury was used by the DEA to obtain the medical records of several patients, an effort that was later rejected by a federal court. The DEA also went as far as to threaten New Mexico officials for planning to implement that states medical marijuana distribution program.

“I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users,” Senator Obama said in an August 2007 statement. “It’s not a good use of our resources,” he continued. This statement was followed up by Obama in other public events in the run up to the election. “President Obama must rise to the occasion by quickly correcting this problem and by keeping the promise he made to the voters of this country,” said Woodson. ASA has been working with the new Administration on changing federal law around medical marijuana, which has included providing a comprehensive set of policy recommendations.

Partial Victory on Teaching Science in Texas

The Texas Board of Education voted on Friday to tentatively adopt new standards for teaching science which reduced, but did not totally eliminate, restrictions on the teaching of science advocated by the religious right. The National Center for Science Education reports:

In a close vote on Friday, the Texas State Board of Education approved revised science standards which removed controversial language mandating that students be taught the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories.

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) applauds this move, since the references to “weaknesses” in the old standards have been used to introduce creationist attacks on evolution in textbooks and classrooms.

Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, Executive Director of NCSE, testified in favor of the new standards on Wednesday. She is mostly satisfied with the vote. “The misleading language [in the original science standards] has been a creationist loophole in the science TEKS [Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills] for decades. Its removal is a huge step forward.”

Unfortunately, the Board took a sizable step backward, says Dr. Scott. Last-minute amendments to the Earth and Space Science standards and the Biology standards could allow creationists to smuggle their views back into the classroom.

Steve Newton, a geologist and public information project director at NCSE, expressed concern about an amendment offered by Chairman Don McLeroy, an avowed creationist. “This amendment inserts creationist catchphrases like ‘sudden appearance’ into the heart of the biology standards, and misrepresents the state of modern geology. The board should consult with the geologists who work the oilfields of Texas, and then remove this inaccurate amendment.”

Josh Rosenau, a biologist and public information project director at NCSE, is likewise concerned. “Since the Board failed to keep the old science standards — which offered a huge loophole for creationists — creationists resorted to dumbing down the standards by inserting bogus attacks on evolution — attacks that have long since been discredited by the scientific community. Evolution is central to the study of modern biology, and is supported by centuries of scientific evidence. Texas students — who have to compete in an increasingly technical global marketplace — deserve better than this misinformation.”

During debate, several board members were upset they weren’t given time to review these amendments and to seek expert opinion.

Despite these qualms, Dr. Scott declared this first round of approval for new science standards as a win. “The Board listened to its scientific advisors and rejected an attempt to insert ‘weaknesses’ back into the standards. They didn’t, however, have time to talk to scientists about the creationist-inspired amendments made at the last minute. Once they do, I believe these inaccurate amendments will be removed.”

In a 2005 report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Texas was one of 15 states to earn an “F” for its science standards; it received a “1” (out of a possible 3) for its evolution education. (See here.)

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William Kristol and the Failure of Conservatism

There is unexpected sense in William Kristol’s column in today’s New York Times. The column is mostly incoherent. He begins by claiming “Conservatives have been right more often than not — and more often than liberals — about most of the important issues of the day…” He is oblivious to how miserably conservatism has failed, not only being unable to respond to the problems of the day but for becoming out of touch with reality.

We have seen the failure of modern conservatism, at least as practiced by the Republican Party, in their failure to respond to warnings about the threat of al Qaeda, their failed response the 9/11 attack (going so far as to attack the wrong country), their failure in responding to Katrina, and their failures on the economy.

Their fundamental ideas have been rejected when Americans saw how conservative claims of supporting freedom are lies as Republicans rationalized the government interfering in individuals lives from attempting to eliminate abortion rights, attempting to limit access to contraception, attempting to limit embryonic stem cell research, and intruding in personal end of life decisions in the Terri Schiavo case.

While some might have written off the anti-intellectualism of George Bush as an amusing quirk, the rapid ascendency of Sarah Palin has demonstrated that this hostility towards reason is the future of conservatism.

Conservatism has deteriorated into an authoritarian and theological movement which will ignore all facts, including basic science, when the facts conflict with their ideology.

Beyond making claims that conservatism was somehow a success, and that “Conservative policies have on the whole worked” Kristol writes that the success of liberalism depends upon Obama. While that might be true in a narrow sense related to electoral success, the success of ideas transcends any one individual.

This nation was founded based upon liberal ideals, and it is liberalism which made it great–often with conservatives such as Kristol kicking and screaming in their futile attempts to deny the reality of the modern world.

After paragraphs of incoherency, the column finally says something which makes sense:

This is William Kristol’s last column.

Just as conservatism has failed, William Kristol has failed at writing coherent columns. Just as it is time for the Republicans to go from Washington, it is time for William Kristol to go from The New York Times. His final column (along with so many others) showed why as this announcement is the only line which makes any sense in today’s column.