Rubio Just Needs to Grab Another Sip of Water

Rand Paul and Marco Rubio did a little jousting today over opening up trade with Cuba. Paul is for it, Rubio is against it. My opinion is with Paul and I believe Paul did a much better job of defending his position that Rubio.

“He has no idea what he is talking about…” he said. “What’s hurting the Cuban people is not the embargo, what’s hurting the Cuban people is the Cuban government.”

via Marco Rubio, Rand Paul trade barbs on U.S.-Cuba deal | Fox News Latino.

I agree that the Cuban government is hurting the Cuban people but I also know that until we resume normal trade with Cuba there can’t be free trade in Cuba. Yes, Cuban citizens will only be allowed to use the U.S. Dollar on the black market in Cuba but look at the black market that can be built.

A Final Straw

I’ll not be going back to the movies any more, at least not to any of the chain cinemas playing movies from Sony or Paramount. The movie industry has gone too far in disappointing me. It’s one thing when someone tries to shut you up. It’s something else entirely when a corporation allows themselves to be shut up for little to no reason. Ideas can not be suppressed just because violent people declare that they must be. I can’t support those pusillanimous entities who allow themselves to be silenced so easily.

What had been totally uncontroversial became taboo, once violent people declared it to be such.

via First ‘The Interview,’ Now Theaters Cancel Protest Screenings of ‘Team America’ – Bloomberg Politics.

Maybe I’ll watch Red Dawn just for a reminder.

 

Congress quietly ends federal government’s ban on medical marijuana

Congress has added a provision to the just past spending measure that keeps the government running that prevents the Federal Government from expending resources to enforce federal marijuana laws against dispensaries in the states that allow for medical marijuana use.

Under the provision, states where medical pot is legal would no longer need to worry about federal drug agents raiding retail operations. Agents would be prohibited from doing so.

via Congress quietly ends federal government’s ban on medical marijuana – LA Times.

My biggest objection to marijuana remaining illegal is the cost of enforcing the laws.

So What About the Cigar Industry?

I like cigars. I smoke one or two a month and because I don’t smoke them any more than that I can afford to pay for a premium cigar. So what do I think about the effect of normalization of trade with Cuba and the cigar industry?

My favorite cigar is the La Gloria Cubana Series “R” No. 5 in a Maduro wrapper. I buy them anywhere from $7.50 to $12.00 apiece. This cigar comes out of the Dominican Republic and is, in my opinion, as fine as any cigar coming out of Cuba. When trade is normalized I see people initially jumping onto Cuban cigars but then after the novelty is off reverting back to what they like.

“U.S. residents like Cuban cigars not only because of their quality, but also because they were prohibited,” said Pedro Cabrera, co-owner of Bavaro, the Dominican Republic-based retailer and manufacturer of Cigarros Pedro Lopez. Cabrera called Wednesday’s developments “huge news.”

via End of Cuba embargo: Big news for cigar industry.

What is exciting me more about cigars and the normalization of trade with Cuba is adding some Cuban tobacco to other blends to create new cigars with a greater diversity of flavor. The coming year will be interesting.

U.S. and Cuba Will Resume Diplomatic Relations

We are getting back Alan Gross and opening up an embassy in Havana. This is great news and a great legacy for President Obama. I’ve always thought our efforts to rid Cuba of an oppressive government was totally wrong. I think this normalization is a right step toward Cubans becoming empowered enough to demand their own freedom.

However, it isn’t going as fast as I think it should and the following quote from the NYTimes story perfectly illustrates a problem I have with my government.

The United States will also ease travel restrictions across all 12 categories currently envisioned under limited circumstances in American law, including family visits, official visits and journalistic, professional, educational and religious activities, public performances, officials said. Ordinary tourism, however, will remain prohibited.

via U.S. and Cuba, in Breakthrough, Will Resume Diplomatic Relations – NYTimes.com.

Who the hell is my government to tell me what countries I can and can’t visit. I’m an American, dammit, I ought to be able to go where I please.

Update:

Dan seems to think the normalization of U.S. relations with Cuba has something to do with Guantanamo Bay. Maybe, but I think it might have more to do with José Mujica making normalization talks a condition of taking a dozen Guantanamo Bay prisoners off of the hands of the U.S. than Cuba having anything on us regarding Guantanamo.

Why Protect a Drug Dealer’s Rights?

Microsoft has been asked to hand over emails of a suspected drug dealer stored on a server in Dublin, Ireland. They are refusing:

The company has challenged the government’s search warrant as illegal, saying it involves the search and seizure of e-mails stored exclusively in another country, outside US jurisdiction. Microsoft argues the content in question is covered under Irish law and any request for the data needs to be made through that country.

via How Microsoft’s battle with the Justice Department could reshape privacy laws +video – CSMonitor.com.

Now why, you may ask, should anyone care about a drug dealer’s privacy rights? Well, it’s because government has only specified authority. If you allow government too extend it’s authority beyond where we have granted it to go after a drug dealer then government no longer needs us, the citizens, to grant it any authority. We the people lose our authority over government.

Who Really Cares About The Future of Sony’s Amy Pascal

Last night the news was all up in the air over the released emails between Sony Pictures Entertainment co-Chairman Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin. I have to be honest, before last night those were two names I had never heard.

It seems that Pascal had been invited to an Obama fundraiser by Dreamworks Animation’s Jeffery Katzenberg. It sounds like it was one of those things that people get invited to and, because of their position, can’t turn down but she really didn’t want to be their and was venting to Rudin about this in email. I’m assuming they are good friends and fairly close.

Pascal writes:

“Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” she wrote, referring to the film about a freed slave. Later in the exchange, Pascal wondered if she should ask Obama if he liked two other African American-focused films, “The Butler” and “Think Like a Man.”

via Future of Sony’s Amy Pascal questioned after hacked email revelations – LA Times.

Reading that I’m assuming that one of the reasons she doesn’t want to go is that while she might support Obama as president she has no idea what to ask him and no real interest in conversation with him in this type of environment. If I had read that about me I wouldn’t have been much concerned. Pres. Obama probably didn’t really want to be at that fund raiser either and had no idea what to ask Ms. Pascal. I can see him venting to Denis McDonough, his chief of staff, “I have no idea what to say to this woman? Do I ask her about shopping on Rodeo Drive?”

So what’s the big deal about any of these leaks? I can see had an email been released that had the State Department asking Sony not to release the movie, “The Interview”, because the CIA actually had a similar plan in place. Now that would have been news, but an email showing that some producer thinks Angelina Jolie is hard to work with and has minimal talent? I think that’s pretty much self-evident and could be easily corroborated by interviewing Billy Bob Thornton.

Some egos may have been bruised and some faces may be red but these are all public figures. If their skin is that thin they are in the wrong business.

Georgia Workers Lacking in Skills.

Georgia schools are failing their pupils. And it isn’t just the inner city schools of Atlanta it’s all over the state. We aren’t turning out students capable of writing code or maintaining factory equipment. We can’t find press operators or machinists and all the experienced workers are retiring soon.

At least that’s what the state’s High Demand Career Initiative found after thirteen meeting with more than 80 industry insiders. Their report was released yesterday.

At least 19 companies said they expect a large chunk of their employees to retire soon, and many don’t know how they will be replaced. Several others complained of a shortage of local skilled workers, particularly in the high-demand film and manufacturing industries.

That set off a scramble to fill their ranks. A Toyo Tires executive lamented that the firm had to go out of state to find maintenance workers. Ditto for LMC Manufacturing, which said it had to canvass the country because there are not enough skilled laborers here.

via Wanted: skilled Ga. workers.

We have to do something and I’m not real sure what it is.

It’s again a felony to record the police in Illinois.

Dan passed this along and I think I need to make it as widespread as possible. Illinois is making it a felony to record law enforcement officers. To be sure, regular citizens are getting the same protection but at a lower sentencing rate.

According to IllinoisPolicy.org, the bill discourages people from recording conversations with police by making unlawfully recording a conversation with police – or an attorney general, assistant attorney general, state’s attorney, assistant state’s attorney or judge – a class 3 felony, which carries a sentence of two to four years in prison. Meanwhile, the bill makes illegal recording of a private citizen a class 4 felony, which carries a lower sentencing range of one to three years in prison.

via Illinois Just Made it a Felony for Its Citizens to Record the Police and the Media is Silent | The Free Thought Project.

Now I’m not sure what constitutes “illegal recording” but I’m guessing it’s illegal to record anyone who doesn’t consent to being recording.

No Broken Windows?

Eric Garner was resisting arrest in that he protested the police putting handcuffs on him for about four seconds until Officer Pantaleo jumped on his back and took him down with a chokehold. If you resist arrest force will be increasingly applied to you until you submit or you are dead. Mr. Garner is dead.

The question I have is was his offense worth arresting him over. He was selling loose, bootleg cigarettes on the sidewalks of Staten Island and had been charged with doing so before. That’s a quality of life issue, not a public safety issue. Why not just cite him to court over it?

Some officers are advising each other that the best way to preserve their careers is to stop making arrests like that of Garner’s, in defiance of the NYPD’s campaign of cracking down on minor “quality of life” offenses as a way to discourage serious crime.

via Police say chokehold victim was complicit in his own death – The Washington Post.

This policing philosophy is called “No Broken Windows” and its based on the idea that if you crack down on the minor crimes you prevent the major crimes from ever occurring. Crack down on the litterers, the graffiti artists and the illegal vendors and you prevent prostitution, armed robbery and drug dealing.

It’s really a valid idea but how far do you take this? And to make it effective do you really have to make arrests or will citing someone to court do the same trick? And at what point does cracking down on minor quality of life crimes actually reduce the quality of life?

These are all questions I’d like to know the answer to.