Reason Morning Links: Obama OLC Nominee Faces Opposition, Fargo Floods, Post Office Tanks

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• Republican senators mounting challenge to Dawn Johnsen, Obama's nominee to head up the White House Office of Legal Counsel. Their complaint? She opposes torture and broad views of presidential power.

• "My grandfather was not a monkey!"

• U.S. Postal Service running out of money, may cut delivery to five days per week.

• U.S. taking over leadership role in the war in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, new evidence that the Taliban's resurgence has been aided by Pakistani government intelligence.

• John Hope Franklin, RIP.

• New study in the American Journal of Public Health finds "no evidence that decriminalization of marijuana leads to increased drug use."

• Fargo braces for historic, icy flooding.

(Correction: "New" study on marijuana use not so newâ€"came out in 2004. My error.)

NEXT: Drug War: Yet Another Failed Conflict The U.S. Must Continue, Says Clinton

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  1. Does anyone know how the marijuana is regulated in Amsterdam from growth to delivery to the coffee shops? Is it also legal in other Dutch cities and towns?

    Is it also legal for personal use at home, or just in the licensed shops? I’m curious if federal legalization in the US would end up causing widespread bans in homes and some states and cities if people use Amsterdam as the model.

  2. Obama’s economic plan is a road map to hell.

    (yes, he really said that)

  3. I guess I can be glad that I never voted for Sec. Clinton (during the primary).

    Voting for the man who nominated her is not making me feel very good right now.

  4. looks like your new study is at least four years old

  5. looks like your new study is at least four years old

    LOL, “so we have known this information for over four years” could be a good way to salvage that one.

  6. Is “historic, icy flooding” another sign of climate change? I am having trouble keeping track of that one.

  7. “My grandfather was not a monkey!”

    In the beginning, we were all fish. Okay? Swimming around in the water. And then one day a couple of fish had a retard baby, and the retard baby was different, so it got to live. So Retard Fish goes on to make more retard babies, and then one day, a retard baby fish crawled out of the ocean with its…mutant fish hands…and it had butt sex with a squirrel or something and made this: Retard frog-sqirrel, and then that had a retard baby which was a…monkey-fish-frog…and then this monkey-fish-frog had butt sex with that monkey, and that monkey had a mutant retard baby that screwed another monkey…and that made you! So there you go! You’re the retarded offspring of five monkeys having butt sex with a fish-squirrel! Congratulations!

  8. Do you ever think the whole evolution issue stems solely from the fact that some people can’t work with big numbers? Yeah, dude, your grandfather wasn’t a monkey. But your ancestor from four million years ago was some kind of little primate.

  9. Fuck Fargo and the Red River Valley. Every year it floods there, and every year we spend billions cleaning it up (4 billion last year). Its more of a sad joke than a tragedy.

  10. “William Young, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, stressed in his testimony that the agency is not seeking a taxpayer bailout, “but we are here to ask the Congress for help.”

    What help could congress give the post office other then taxpayer money?

  11. Do you ever think the whole evolution issue stems solely from the fact that some people can’t work with big numbers?

    No, it stems directly from religious indoctrination.

  12. Do you ever think the whole evolution issue stems solely from the fact that some people can’t work with big numbers? Yeah, dude, your grandfather wasn’t a monkey. But your ancestor from four million years ago was some kind of little primate.

    That’s actually a very interesting part. It might be part of the justification of their religious views. “Yeah right, like something that substantion could have happened over a span of 4 million years.” I think another part of it is that people can’t grasp dynamic systems even in concept. Anything beyond 1 or 2 deviations gets lost. This is why people like command economies, because they think things happen in isolation.

    It’s like when people are like “oh right, like oxygen just happened by itself so that we could breathe.”

  13. kinnath,

    I’m not arguing that, but I just wonder if it’s something more fundamental. After all, there are religious nuts who have no problem with evolution. Or astronomy. Or geology. Or physics.

  14. to expand – people start with an outcome in mind and then try to build a system around which you could make sure that this certain outcome would happen as opposed to the specific outcome being one possible outcome of the system.

  15. I understand now. William Young was asking Congress to help deliver mail when they aren’t busy passing legislation.

  16. allright Epri a great Southpark reference timely and on topic. BTW the new season of Sp is the best ever!

  17. The lottery is evidence that vast swaths of the general population can’t understand numbers.

    But that isn’t necessary for creationists to misunderstand the concept of evolution. Way back when, my 8th grade biology teacher was an ardent creationist. This was a college educated “scientist” who clearly had no problems with the bulk of what he taught in school. But as a deeply religious Southern Baptist, evolution was antithetical to what he “knew” was true.

    Most creationists that I run into are bright enough to understand the concept of evolution, they just reject it.

  18. Republican senators mounting challenge to Dawn Johnsen…

    At least she’s a better choice than Don Johnson…

  19. Speaking of Fargo, has anyone here been to North Dakota? I lived in Minneapolis for a year and drove through South Dakota–that’s as close as I ever got. I understand–and this comes from hardy Minnesotans–that North Dakota is friggin’ cold, with the deadly winds blowing like a bat out of a deep-chilled hell.

    kinnath,

    I think you’re mostly right; I just wonder if there isn’t a seed of innumeracy behind all of this.

  20. That being said, it is the bright people that reject evolution that feed crap like “my grandfather wasn’t a monkey” to people that are just to stupid to understand any part of science.

  21. That being said, it is the bright people that reject evolution that feed crap like “my grandfather wasn’t a monkey” to people that are just to stupid to understand any part of science.

    Yeah, that’s definitely a frustrating thing for me. Whenever someone says that (only it comes across as “I don’t know about you, but I didn’t come from no monkey”) or similar “clever” things I always feel compelled to say “really? you come up with that yourself?”

  22. What help could congress give the post office other then taxpayer money?

    Maybe a seminar on how to organize your work efficiently?

    Yes, that one made me LOL too 🙂

  23. What help could congress give the post office other then taxpayer money?

    The email surcharge they have lusted after for years. It’d still be taxpayer money, of course, but not technically a bailout.

  24. SF,

    Maybe they want the Congress to draft volunteers for the work that the full time workers don’t want to do?

  25. Most creationists that I run into are bright enough to understand the concept of evolution, they just reject it.

    Ding! The subject of evolutionary biology is forbidden in my household because I will lose my mind and start screaming obscenities at people. I know too many otherwise intelligent rational human beings that will not look past their upbringing on the subject and resort to parroting some numbnuts idea of a witty comeback at me. It really does make me want to punch people. If you’re going to reject the scientific method and the conclusions you get from it, go live a cave and eat berries. You don’t get to play in the world we built with it.

  26. What help could congress give the post office other then taxpayer money?

    Show them the line at the court where the should submit their bankruptcy filing.

  27. The email surcharge they have lusted after for years. It’d still be taxpayer money, of course, but not technically a bailout.

    Or further legislatively granted monopolies. That’d work pretty well, too.

  28. It’s amazing people who believe a creation story can be so unimaginitive
    about evolution.

    Your grandfather wasn’t a monkey…but your great (x1000) grandfather slept
    with his sister and/or other relatives to get the species started and his
    father talked to snakes?

  29. Maybe they want the Congress to draft volunteers for the work that the full time workers don’t want to do?

    The Post office needs interns… only interns.

  30. Maybe they want the Congress to draft volunteers for the work that the full time workers don’t want to do?

    “A rising cry rippled through the tiny village. The blue coats had returned, come to capture their yearly conscriptment of “volunteers” for The Mail. From their ragged shoulder bags sprung the instruments of enslavement: nets woven from coupon mailers and whips made from the dead flesh of FedEx employees. The left-wheeled Jeeps revved to demoralize the villagers with their all-to-familiar roar.”

  31. I know too many otherwise intelligent rational human beings that will not look past their upbringing on the subject and resort to parroting some numbnuts idea of a witty comeback at me.

    T – the subject should similarly be banned in my family’s households as well because I also start screaming. The thing that infuriates me the most is the condecension and smugness with which the creationist viewpoint is expressed in someone else’s “witty” words. It approximates a personal attack if you ask me by shutting down any kind of intelligent conversation and resorting to “well my side has witty catch phrases.”

  32. Republican senators mounting challenge to Dawn Johnsen, Obama’s nominee to head up the White House Office of Legal Counsel. Their complaint? She opposes torture and broad views of presidential power.

    That really mis-states the case against Johnsen. Republicans oppose her because she once argued that pregnancy without access to abortion was the equivalent of slavery. Also, she was at the forefront of expanding extraordinary rendition and executive power under Clinton and has little credibility as a reformer in those areas.

  33. Nick – I usually probe that willingness to believe that ridiculous story when I’m at natural history museums.

    I’ve been guilty of mocking relatives when they comment on how amazing dinosaurs are.

  34. “Republican senators mounting challenge to Dawn Johnsen, Obama’s nominee to head up the White House Office of Legal Counsel. Their complaint? She opposes torture and broad views of presidential power.”

    That is a bunch of bullshit Balko. When Johnson was at the Clinton Whitehouse she loved Presidential Power. To wit:

    “Particularly rich is Johnsen’s diatribe against Bush’s purportedly outlandish claim of power to ignore statutes that encroach on executive authority. When Johnsen served in the Clinton administration (which invented extraordinary rendition, detained Cuban refugees without trial at Guantanamo Bay, conducted warrantless national-security searches, and attacked a foreign country without congressional authorization), OLC’s official position was that “the President has enhanced responsibility to resist unconstitutional provisions that encroach upon the constitutional powers of the Presidency.” The office opined that several statutes (including privacy provisions in the federal wiretap law) could not bind the president, and Johnsen herself authored a 1997 OLC opinion concluding that presidents were above consumer-credit-disclosure laws. In that case, she broadly asserted that “statutes that do not expressly apply to the President must be construed as not applying to him if such application would involve a possible conflict with his constitutional prerogatives.””

    http://nrd.nationalreview.com/article/?q=YzcyODUwNjAwNzg3YTYyZjBiOWU3ZTQwZmYzOGIwOGQ=

    Balko you are really an intellecutally lazy reporter sometimes. It makes me wonder about all the stuff you write even the stuff I agree with when I see you put out chickenshit crap like that. Come on. You owe your readers better than that.

  35. The fundies believe ‘faith’ is what keeps them out of Hell for all eternity. Faith is defined as beliefs in assertion of fact (a man literally rose from the dead at the very least). Therefore, a willingness to believe despite evidence against or lack of evidence for is the mindset required to keep you away from eternal torment.

    Do they believe we didn’t evolve, or are they trying to convince themselves they believe that to prove to themselves they have the ‘faith’ to avoid Hell?

  36. It approximates a personal attack if you ask me by shutting down any kind of intelligent conversation and resorting to “well my side has witty catch phrases.”

    Well, I think that’s the idea. They are unwilling to challenge their belief on the subject, and don’t want you doing it either. So the “witty” comebacks are designed to shut off the conversation so they don’t have to think. Because thinking is like, hard, and stuff.

    My mom told me once she didn’t believe in evolution because of the fruit fly studies she did in college. “Millions of generations of fruit flies, and they never evolved.” Umm. Yeah. You have no idea how glad I am that this bears no relation to her ability to deliver care (she’s an RN).

  37. John,

    First! Neener-neener!

  38. “William Young, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, stressed in his testimony that the agency is not seeking a taxpayer bailout, “but we are here to ask the Congress for help.”

    What help could congress give the post office other then taxpayer money?

    Stimulus money. See, it’s not taxpayer money. For every 1 dollar of stimulus money injected into the economy, we will see a $1.50 return. I know this is true because the leaders of the party that doesn’t believe in economics said so.

  39. I know Abdul. I was pissed off by Balko’s langauge, I didn’t bother to read the thread. you were first. Balko can be right about some things, but he is easily the most intellectually lazy and causually leftist of the Reason writers.

  40. Is it also legal for personal use at home, or just in the licensed shops?

    It’s not legal there. There is defacto decriminalization, but theoretically, they could start enforcing the law at any time.

  41. But proponents of retaining the rule complain that the standard will apply to all scientific theory while the political debate is focused on evolution.

    “I’m very concerned that some of the State Board of Education members will weaken every discipline of science if they remove the strengths and weaknesses language,” said Don McCall, an engineer and president of the Leander school board. “This is not about a narrow issue but about every discipline of science and engineering.”

    Maybe I’m just cynical, but I can’t help wondering if this issue is being driven in part by the Global Warming Mob.

    “Well, some people don’t agree, but they’re kooks.”

  42. re:John Hope Franklin

    Whatever may have been the extent of psychological knowledge at the time of Plessy v. Ferguson, this finding is amply supported by modern authority.

  43. Huh. “Unconstitutional” as in infringing on the president’s prerogatives. Figures. Nothing about liberties or limited government.

  44. What help could congress give the post office other then taxpayer money?

    A small calibre bullet in the back of the head?

  45. Yeah, dude, your grandfather wasn’t a monkey. But your ancestor from four million years ago was some kind of little primate.

    Game over.

    You lose.

    The world is only six thousand years old, Mister Smartypants, so how could anything have happened “millions of years ago”?

  46. I rebut it thus: Those are God years, man.

  47. “My mom told me once she didn’t believe in evolution because of the fruit fly studies she did in college. “Millions of generations of fruit flies, and they never evolved.” Umm. Yeah. You have no idea how glad I am that this bears no relation to her ability to deliver care (she’s an RN).”

    They probably haven’t evolved because they’re so well adapted to their environment. Any genetic mutations that may have happened probably didn’t have survival value and weren’t passed to future generations.

  48. I rebut it thus: Those are God dog years, man.

  49. They probably haven’t evolved because they’re so well adapted to their environment. Any genetic mutations that may have happened probably didn’t have survival value and weren’t passed to future generations.

    No, they breed some pretty messed-up flies in labs with no survival benefit to the mutation and they’re generationally stable. I think another error involved with people’s thinking about evolution is that the endpoint of evolution is some sort of intelligent being. We’re not all aiming for the Omega Point. Shark is just fine where he’s at.

  50. T,

    When that comes up, it’s good to hit them with the Entelechy Fallacy. What you said, but with a fancy Greek word attached.

  51. Fundies are on the march against more than just evolution.
    http://www.geocentricity.com
    Teach the controversy.

  52. I think another error involved with people’s thinking about evolution is that the endpoint of evolution is some sort of intelligent being.

    If that was the case, then evolution wouldn’t be working very well right now, would it?

  53. I think another error involved with people’s thinking about evolution is that the endpoint of evolution is some sort of intelligent being.

    That’s what I was thinking. Just because the fruitflies don’t evolve into a super race of intelligent pterodactyls who release themselve from the cages and slaughter the hapless lab assistants (like, err, flies) that doesn’t mean there is *no* evolutionary trend.

  54. Give the Postal Service the exclusive right to deliver legalized marijuana! Budget problems solved!

  55. When that comes up, it’s good to hit them with the Entelechy Fallacy.

    Ahh. There’s a word for it! I’ll file that one away in the memory banks for further use.

    If that was the case, then evolution wouldn’t be working very well right now, would it?

    People often assume we’re smarter than previous generations. We’re not. We just know more. The cognitive limits on what we can do with all the accumulated knowledge really haven’t changed lately. We’re making systems too complex for us to understand, much less control. Pride goeth, etc.

  56. “Speaking of Fargo, has anyone here been to North Dakota? I lived in Minneapolis for a year and drove through South Dakota–that’s as close as I ever got. I understand–and this comes from hardy Minnesotans–that North Dakota is friggin’ cold, with the deadly winds blowing like a bat out of a deep-chilled hell.”

    I was married to a native North Dakotan. The standing rule is that you never visit the state in any month containing the letter R.

    I flew to Grand Forks for thanksgiving. Stayed for 10 days. During that visit, it NEVER got above -20 (that’s actual temp not wind chill).

    As her grandmother used to say, the cold may be brutal, but it keeps out the riff-raff.

  57. If you’re going to reject the scientific method and the conclusions you get from it, go live a cave and eat berries. You don’t get to play in the world we built with it.

    As much as I agree, with this sentiment, it occurs to me that a functioning scientific establishment and the technological progress that is possible in that context are another large, complex, and dynamic system. So if Reinmoose has got it right, these people don’t have a chance of understanding (really getting it in their gut) the connection between the idea of evolution and their big screen TV.

    No real point. Just a thought.

  58. I was married to a native North Dakotan. The standing rule is that you never visit the state in any month containing the letter R.

    I have relatives in Montana. I apply an even stricter rule. I don’t go in any month but July, because that’s the only month it doesn’t snow.

  59. “My grandfather was not a monkey!”

    No, but he did agitate for a one-size-fits-all centralized government funded school system. That’s the political equivalent of flinging poo.

    U.S. Postal Service running out of money, may cut delivery to five days per week.

    Hey Obama, want to help fund the stimulus? Sell off the Postal Service!

  60. I have relatives in Montana. I apply an even stricter rule. I don’t go in any month but July, because that’s the only month it doesn’t snow.

    Hey- last night’s snow has almost melted, already. And the temp has soared into the mid-thirties.

  61. Hey- last night’s snow has almost melted, already. And the temp has soared into the mid-thirties.

    Today’s high: 77. Snow? Not in 3 years.

  62. The fruit flies probably didn’t evolve in thousands of generations because they were lab flies. What incentive do they have to change? What are the differing circumstances in climate or predation that ’cause’ them to evolve?

    I hate people who don’t understand science. Then again, I hate people.

    Also, reason commentators are terrible at this. If I WERE president; if he WERE alive today. Not if he WAS prez or WAS alive. WERE. Also, I wish I WERE God. Not was. WERE.

  63. ev – the subjunctive tense is sadly neglected

    Gillespie would know better than to make that mistake, I expect. He has a doctorate in English.

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