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Watch: Nancy Grace unleashes more reefer madness on Dr. Drew

“You take isolated instances of aberrant behavior and try to make them standardized for all marijuana users, and once and for all, Nancy, have you no conscience? When will this stop? When will you own up to the fact that millions and millions of Americans can light up a joint — and have been since the age of Woodstock — without impairing their families, driving recklessly or endangering people.” – Norm Kent

Despite being consistently wrong in the argument against marijuana legalization, talk show host Nancy Grace just can’t get enough.

Her latest quarry came in the form of celebrity doctor Drew Pinsky and NORML chair Norm Kent, who defended marijuana use after Grace blamed the plant for the shooting death of a Colorado woman last April.

“You take isolated instances of aberrant behavior and try to make them standardized for all marijuana users,” Kent told Grace. “And once and for all, Nancy, have you no conscience? When will this stop? When will you own up to the fact that millions and millions of Americans can light up a joint — and have been since the age of Woodstock — without impairing their families, driving recklessly or endangering people.”

The haughty Grace pompously dismissed Kent’s comment by replying, “Obviously you’re stoned.”

Read the full article at SF Gate »

SF Gate

Medical marijuana loses to entrepreneurial greed

Florida - Yes on 2

Well, this is Florida. The rules are different here.

Where else can you win a race with 58% of the vote and lose the election?

Only here, of course.

Here’s the thing. We have a process in Florida that allows citizens to amend the constitution of our state by popular referendum. It requires, however, that you must get 60% of the vote in order to change the law. A simple majority is not enough.

Consequently, even though the majority of Floridians voted last night to allow patients access to marijuana medicinally, by a vote of 58% to 42%, the numbers were not overwhelming enough to change our laws. Nevertheless, it was the third highest medical use vote ever recorded in America, surpassed only by Massachusetts with 64% and Washington, D.C. with 68%.

To continue reading this column, please go to: Sun Sentinel.

Florida’s Silver Bullet: The Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act

Previously published at NORML.org

Norm Kent, Esq.

On July 1st of 2008, Florida enacted a new law which enhanced penalties for marijuana grow houses. Authorities heralded it as the ‘Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act.’ It is just another excuse to lock decent people up for longer times.

There are some provisions of the act which bring back the dark days of the draconian Rockefeller drug laws in New York, legislation which sent small marijuana growers to jail for thirty years. Some might first be getting out today.

grow14.jpg

Law enforcement argued that they needed the new law because of the increasing number of grow houses operating in the state and violent crime which tend to be associated with these operations. Sure they did.

“Grow houses are not only furthering this dangerous drug trade within our state, they are bringing violent crime into our neighborhoods,” said Attorney General McCollum. “This new law will help protect our families and communities.” No, it won’t.

Read more →

Are we Going to Pot?

The latest from the Boca Raton Observer.

The public has increasingly embraced the idea of legalization, with support more than doubling since the 1970s. In October, a Gallup poll found a clear majority of Americans (58 percent) were in favor of it. But getting lawmakers to mirror the will of the people hasn’t been easy, says Norman Kent, A Fort Lauderdale attorney and NORML’s national president.

“I think (People United) has taken the right approach by going directly to the people and asking them to support a statewide petion and bypassing the weak and cowardly legislature that thinks it’s OK to get drunk in Tallahassee bars, but not smoke a joint in your home,” he says. Read more …

Boca Raton Observer

Does Your Babysitter Smoke Pot?

marijuana_joint

The way Nancy Grace on the HLN network screams about your baby sitter being on pot can make you think she is on crack. But the truth is she is not. She is in show business, knows a good topic, and can figure out how and when to run with it.

Last week she had three shows featuring the President of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. That would be me. Each time, she held the dump button, controlled the microphone, and was able to cut me off at will. No, that usually does not happen to me, but I was a guest on her show — in her court. But cannabis has become a cause for all America. We live with facts. She sensationalizes fiction.

America has turned the corner on the possession of marijuana. No one wants it to be a crime anymore. Welcome to the party. You can now come out of the closet. Legalization, education and regulation have always made so much sense. It has worked with alcohol and tobacco and the use and consumption of both is down across America. I don’t want to fool you. It is not that the world is pro-weed. Everyone is just anti-prohibition.

The entire drug war has just been a jobs program for cops. Let them do real work and arrest criminals, not cannabis users.Nancy Grace chose to defend an indefensible topic that she is eventually going to lose. Her position was so histrionic in today’s America that Saturday Night Live did a spoof of her last weekend. Let’s face it. Pot smokers have become like the pods in the ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers.’ We are everywhere. We have taken control. Everyone who was in the closet about cannabis is coming out, from the President of the United States to the Democratic senator in Florida, a former astronaut, Bill Nelson.

Mind you, pot smokers and cannabis users have always been here, from Woodstock to Washington State. Many of you have been hiding behind closed doors, afraid to admit that you smoke. Whether you are a kid walking down Main Street in Middletown, USA, or a retiree living in Coral Gables, you smoke weed. Or someone you know does. And you know nothing the government has ever said about it is true. Reefer Madness, my ass! The only reefer madness has been the government’s prohibition against responsible personal consumption. We  it was a farce then, and everyone is finally willing to say so now.

Legalization is not the experiment. Prohibition is, and it has failed dramatically. That cannabis is still illegal in 28 states stinks. Men with badges and guns can break down your doors, lock you up in steel cuffs, and bring you to jails where you are put in human cages. Legalization and regulation is so much safer. What you knew back when is still right today.

No more deals in dark alleys and no more cartels in criminal conspiracies. Let’s just have small businesses properly run, licensed and taxed, marketing the latest products and strains, from purple diesel to green kush. Free choice means Marlboros or Mary Jane; whiskey or weed. As long as you are an adult and not harming anyone, you must have the right to have your government stay the heck out of my life.

Our time is here. Light up your joint. Smoke where and when you want, but preferably not in an elementary schoolyard. Recreationally, medically, spiritually, everything tastes better with cannabis. Sex is better. Food is better. Watching Nancy Grace is easier. In fact, next time I do her show, I think I am going to get lit before the lights go on. How else do you come to grips with a delusional woman who is ranting about cab drivers smoking weed when every other person on the road seems to be a congressman on coke or mayor on meth?

The only time cannabis is dangerous is when a cop finds it on you. If Nancy Grace wants to be known as a victim’s rights advocate, let her speak up for over 29 million Americans that have been arrested for the possession of cannabis over the past 30 years. How crazy is that? And what does it say about how many have used it? Licensing, age controls, taxation, regulation, and an end to prohibition is so transparently the way to go.

It is not just that cannabis is not harmful; we have proven it medicinally invaluable. From treating muscular spasticity to glaucoma, marijuana is a healing alternative. Let’s live and let live. Let’s do no harm to each other. If we are concerned about drug abuse, treat the person and arrest the abuse. Don’t lock up the patient. We do not need any more pot prisoners.People like to say that cannabis is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and therefore it should be legalized because of that. No, it should be legalized because any abuses related to cannabis should be treated as a health or medical issue, not a criminal one.

No one has ever died from weed, but damn, society has seen its freedoms die away because of it. The criminal treatment of marijuana has opened the door to illegal seizures, outrageous forfeitures, massive fines, and unjust confiscations of personal property. We have sold our constitutional souls to arrest weed, and now it is time to free the leaf.

It is true that the majority of Americans now favor decriminalization of marijuana, and even more want legalization. One thing is sure, and that is we need to end criminalization. We have stood by and let people be wrongly placed in horrible jails with steel bars and strong locks, all to prevent them from consuming a substance that does them no harm. We have perpetuated an injustice. We owe it to ourselves to undo the hurt our deafening silence has caused.

We have harmed the fabric and freedoms our country held dear, discriminated unjustly against minorities, and denied to Americans the desires of its majority. There is no cannabis calamity or catastrophe in America. There is an awakening that will soon shine a soothing light on the rest of America, and with luck, one day, even Nancy Grace.

Pot Smokers Finally See the Rainbow

Medical Marijuana

When 64 % of the voters in Miami Beach in a straw ballot said they would support medical marijuana last month, it was no surprise.

Pot smokers may not wear rainbow flags, but they have finally come out of the closet. Their colors are a bright green.

For forty years, since early in the 1970’s, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has been fighting to change repressive and regressive laws against the responsible use of cannabis by consenting adults. Many new organizations are joining the fray. Welcome to the party. It’s not just time to light up though. We have a ways to go. In 30 states, pot is still illegal.

The truth is that the ‘war on drugs’ was never a war on drugs. It was a war on good and decent people, whose only crime was smoking a joint at the end of the day. It was a war on your friends, many of whom you know went to jail, lost their property, and were disgraced in the community. What bullshit that was, huh?

Most Americans have always known that the horror stories about pot consumption were delusional hallucinations thrown upon us by cowardly politicians who were afraid to be seen as ‘soft on dope.’ Today, though, cannabis consumers realize they can trust their own experiences more than the government’s forked tongues.

The government that is still raiding medical dispensaries is holding onto the vestiges of a policy as sure to unravel as prohibition against alcohol once did. Cannabis consumers are no longer want to be illegal bootleggers or rumrunners. We are first class entrepreneurs, building small family-owned businesses, starting collectives, marketing vaporizers, lecturing about medical uses, and making America realize how right we have always been about pot.

In 20 states where citizens have been asked if they want pot to be decriminalized, they have resoundingly said ‘yes.’ Current Gallop polls in fact have showed that a majority of nearly 60% of Americans wants pot legalized.

A stunning Florida poll released just a week ago, conducted by a Canadian firm, suggests that 82% of Floridians support medical marijuana. It may even be on the ballot next year, but not surprisingly, the conservative and Republican Attorney General and governor are opposing the initiative. They are stuck in the past that has passed them by.

Every state that gets to vote on decriminalization will overwhelmingly support it, in both red and blue counties. Pot has only one color- green- and only one party- everyone is now in it, from teenagers to baby boomers.

The world is catching up with what we always knew. Now if our political leaders spent less time buying cocaine on the side they could focus on making pot legal. It isn’t because we are all stoners, though many of us are. It is because we as Americans are fed up and disgusted with the lies and laws our legislators have passed and prosecuted.

Over four decades, we have empowered our government to enact draconian measures that have compromised our civil liberties and sacrificed common sense. We are fighting back, against spying, surveillance and stupidity. We are fighting forward, for responsible adult consumption, medical use, and research progress. We are fighting a common sense battle to eliminate an illegal underground and energize a national tax base.

For too long, while we were too complacent, our leaders have ratified statutes allowing for our sons and daughters to be jailed, our cars to be seized, and our scholarships to be forfeited. In certain places, moms and dads can still lose custody of their kids because they are caught smoking pot. It is an outrage and injustice Americans can no longer endure or countenance.

Last week in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom, I had to fight for custody for a single parent father who let his 17-year-old son smoke cannabis. He has two other kids, one already an emergency room doctor and the other at Harvard. We need an agency to protect us from Children and Family Services like that.

People just can’t take the absurdity anymore. Like Howard Beal in Network, we are shouting from the windows. Today, from Miami Beach to Maine, from Seattle to South Florida, we are saying ‘Free the Leaf.’  It’s not just to get high. There are valid medical and curative reasons to support normalizing marijuana.

Thousands of Americans who were living with HIV learned years ago that medical cannabis inhibited a ‘wasting away’ syndrome and enhanced their appetite. Others, like Elvy Mussika, a grandmother from Hollywood, Florida, found out smoking marijuana can alleviate her blinding glaucoma. She now actually gets pot monthly from the DEA, cultivated at a government-controlled grow house in Mississippi.

Scientists in Israel have discovered cannabis can control muscular spasticity and arthritic conditions amongst the elderly. One housewife in Manatee County, Cathy Jordan, has grown and used cannabis for a quarter of a century to combat Lou Gehrig’s disease. Acknowledging her use is a ‘life-saving condition,’ an enlightened prosecutor has declined to prosecute her. But now the sheriffs’ association is saying no, that pot is “dangerous.” No, what is dangerous is electing sheriffs who are stuck in the past enforcing Jim Crow laws that discriminate against minorities.

Those of us who smoked joints watching Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix in the 1960’s are now in our 60’s. We have seen pharmaceutical companies overdose us with a sea of prescription pills that have led to unanticipated consequences and multi-million dollar class action lawsuits.

None of us has ever died from weed, but we have all been victims of the war against it. If you want a cause to fight for, to get high on, this is it. It is a battle for freedom of individual choice. It is yours at stake.

Fox News vs. Team Obama

This past week the Obama Administration said that it does not view the Fox News Network as a credible news organization because it has an agenda and a perspective inconsistent with neutrality.

As if to prove the point for them, Fox’s terror dogs immediately went on the attack, led by Karl Rove, asserting that the President is creating a Nixon-like ‘Enemies List.’ Talk about stretching the truth. The ‘enemies list’ created by 1970’s-era President Richard Nixon was a master list, created by the President, to engage in secretive and illegal surveillance on prominent citizens who disparaged or disagreed with the government. Rahm Emanuel, on the other hand, stated rather routinely that Fox News ought to be called out for its transparent lack of neutrality while presenting news to the American people. Quite a difference.

Bill O’Reilly, Tucker Carlson, Glenn Beck, Greta Van Sostern, and then Bill Hemmer, also entered the fray for Fox News, championing their individual liberties, while remarking that Obama’s team was trying to silence a free press; that they were being ‘bullied.’ So the most powerful network on television struts out its stars to reach their massive audiences, and comes to the table shrieking that their rights are being infringed, their freedoms shattered, their lives ruined. Boo hoo! Cry me a river. Who are they kidding? This is hardly a network being silenced.

Fox is a media outlet. It relished every moment of the attack, one long overdue. Frankly, it is about time that liberals fought back, firmly and angrily. What the Obama administration showed is why they got to the White House. They do not run. They stand their ground. They do not apologize for who they are. And they will not stand idly by as Foxnuts seize misrepresentative quotes and misleading sound bites to falsely demonize decent Obama appointees as extremists and radicals.

For years, we have heard all the nasty things about the liberal media. We have listened as right wing commentators took over the AM radio stations beating and bashing those humane liberals who have fought for a 21st century society which embraces diversity. We have been demonized for supporting everything from the right of handicapped to have access to public facilities to allowing for salmon to swim upstream. And guess what, gays are getting married and society is not collapsing. People smoke marijuana medicinally and children are still going to school We liberals are right about wrong foreign wars, corporate exploitation of citizens and making health care affordable and accessible. But our voices have not been loud enough. It is about time that changed. Many of us are strong on crime. We believe Rush Limbaugh should have gone to jail for drug trafficking years ago. And maybe Dick Cheney should not be allowed to own handguns or rifles.

Accordingly, the Obama Administration’s David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, and Anita Dunn should not be censored for firing back, they should be celebrated. Any administration represents a point of view, sets an agenda, and argues its cause. If the Fox News Network opposes it, as they clearly do, then so be it. They have a right to write too. But the administration has no duty to pander to its activist agenda. Fox may brag it is fair and balanced, but there are many, this writer included, that believe their presentations are tilted and unbalanced, leaning to the rabid right and the wrongfully righteous.

As a network, it makes for delightfully entertaining programming. They are the best at what they do. Fox is ingenious at getting under the liberals’ skin, but it has not done much but get them ratings. The Democrats’ control the House, the Senate, and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It is now not only the obligation of Fox but its duty to call the administration to task for its achievements and appointments, its policies and its practices. That they do so on an entertaining and creative venue like Fox News simply requires Team Obama to rise up to the challenge with good governance and a capable administration. Achieve that goal and it is the best answer that will ever be written. But every news entity has a right to question authority, and challenge those in power. So too may those in power evaluate whether the critiques are credible and the criticisms just.

A feud between the Obama Administration and Fox is not to be demeaned and denigrated. It ought to be publicized and promoted. Each may become better voices at effectively getting their message out, and both can prosper from the discussion. Fox will get more viewers, and Obama may get to refine, streamline, and more effectively present their voice. Neither should be silent or intimidated. Neither has a right to be above criticism or review. Not as long as we live in a free society.

Fox just has to own up to what columnist John Batchelor wrote this week: they may present the news, but they are in show business. So is every campaigner that gets elected to office today with its slick brochures and television marketing. Let’s be real. The most articulate conservative commentators only land in the tv studio after getting prepped in a dressing room for hair and makeup.

We are all mad men and we only get madder if we deny that essential truth. The only significance of the Obama War on Fox is that Fox got to War on Obama. It made for a good show. And that is all that counts in the end, except maybe if you really care that Americans are still dying in a foreign war that has lasted longer than all the combined years of World War I and II. You see, Fox you are no Walter Cronkite. And that’s the way it really is.

Medical Marijuana Goes Mainstream

A whopping 63% of Fox News viewers have endorsed the Obama Administration’s decision to stop targeting medical dispensaries in California. The disclosure was made by Geraldo Rivera last week on his popular show, ‘Geraldo at Large.’ For once, Fox is catching up with the rest of the nation.

Geraldo presented more than just a fair and balanced report. The news item clearly distinguished the marked differences between the casual user of marijuana for recreational or personal medical use and traffickers operating illegal Mexican drug cartels, which everyone acknowledged should be targeted for enhanced enforcement. Rivera even applauded Attorney General Eric Holder for his new and rededicated efforts to stop that illegality, inserting into his news report the AG’s announcement of a raid last week, which netted 300 suspects nationwide.

Ann Coulter, of course, came on to criticize Obama, but she is a howler monkey who stands on the end of the branch and shrieks at anything Barack and Friends do or do not do. Even she had a hard time coming down too hard on smokers, preferring to just attack President Obama. Surprise. When Geraldo then turned to conservative Mike Huckabee for a countervailing viewpoint, he tempered his criticism of the new policy by recognizing that every governor has to set its priorities. The best objection he came up with was that if the Obama administration wanted to “change the law, go ahead and change it, but don’t keep a law you are not going to enforce.” That is a far cry from stating this was bad policy, a poor change, and counter -productive to our nation.

What viewers eventually saw on the piece Geraldo did was a presentation that medical marijuana is a wave sweeping over our land, and the 15 states which already provide for it are a precursor to a national future. You could almost sense that was the direction Geraldo was headed when he opened with a segue featuring Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin at a recent ‘Smoke Out’ rally in LA.

Afterwards, Rivera followed with a short piece about a white-collared businessman, explaining to the audience that he ran a lawful, state-compliant dispensary which was busted by the feds. That gentleman, Phil Smith, then explained how he had just spent ten months in jail with hardened criminals and murderers. That too is a far cry from the day and time when marijuana growers were presented to American audiences as hardened criminals. Geraldo even scoffed at the way we once thought of marijuana, with a scene from ‘Reefer Madness’ dropped onto the set in the background.

As he waded through the piece on medical and legal pot, Geraldo even postured this was an issue that crossed ideological lines; that Americans across the board do not want pot law enforced harshly against our citizens. Coming from the barrios of New York City, having grown up in the 1960’s, and spending decades with celebrities in the media, Geraldo uniquely understands how pervasive and personal marijuana is in the American psyche. In fact, as he recovers from knee replacement surgery, I would not be surprised if instead of using Percocet daily he tried out some Purple Haze. (I don’t know, I’m just saying…)

The bottom line is Geraldo is one of America’s grittiest and most seasoned journalists, who has covered stories from mistreatment in mental institutions to mass murders. He knows where ‘pot’ fits into the scheme of things- enough so that he could joke and poke at this story, recognizing as he does our nation has greater issues, more pressing problems.

When NORML (www.norml.com) recently held its annual convention in San Francisco, former Mayor Willie Brown opined that “we should legalize pot because as many people are using it recreationally as are using it medically.” Prop 215 author, activist Denis Peron, once stated: “all use is medical.” Last year, NORML’s founder, Keith Stroup, and Rick Cusick, the Publisher of High Times, along with 50 students from local colleges, were foolishly arrested for smoking joints at a ‘MassCann(abis)’ convention in the Boston Commons. The next thing you know Mr. Stroup was testifying before Massachusetts legislative committees to change the laws in the Bay State. Those statutes have now been amended to provide for the medicinal use of marijuana.

One of my clients, Elvy Mussika, is amongst the last of those getting marijuana from the United States government on a now abandoned program entitled the ‘Compassionate Use Protocol.’ Under the plan, the DEA grows experimental marijuana at the University of Mississippi and freeze-dries it for distribution in a prescription can to Ms. Mussika, a grandmother fighting the intraocular pressures associated with Glaucoma, which constantly cause pain in her eyes. ‘Smoke 3x daily, or as needed for pain’ the jar reads. There are thousands and thousands of other Americans similarly situated, who only want to use pot to relieve pain. For them, marijuana is medicine.

Then there are the Michael Phelps of the world, using bongs and water pipes and rolling papers to get high and give themselves a buzz, for fun’s sake. They too should not be criminalized or denied scholarships to school, should they? Some may not win gold medals in swimming pools, but they should not be posting bail in county jails, either. They may not find themselves as guests of the Jay Leno show, but they should not find themselves as guests of the local sheriff either, should they? It is becoming so normal to smoke, talk, and write about pot that NORML now represents the silent majority of Americans who just want to be left alone with their pot. It would seem that even Fox News agrees.

Google medical marijuana and you will find a cross section of articles in every mainstream newspaper and magazine. As a matter of fact, medical marijuana is becoming so ‘ordinary’ a story that it has found its way to cover stories in the past few months in magazines from Forbes to Harper’s Monthly, not to mention the New York Times. Last month, The Today Show, with Matt Lauer as the interviewer, ran a positive news feature featuring ‘Women and Pot in the Workplace.’ Think about it, one of America’s most popular shows presenting marijuana as medicine in a fair and unfrenzied light. Congressman Barney Frank has even postured that medical marijuana may soon become the law of the land.

In Colorado, a state which has opted for the opening of dispensaries, the Denver Westword, a popular newsweekly, has published a classified ad seeking to hire a random ‘marijuana critic,’ in order to ‘taste-test’ the product which its new dispensaries will be distributing. Lots of daily journalists are out of work. I am guessing there will be no shortage of applications for that job.

What is the outcome of all this to be?

Do not be surprised when a consumer affairs television reporter one day, in a neighborhood near you unveils a feature on the best marijuana dispensaries in your hometown. Medical marijuana is coming to Main Street. We are not just Zig-Zag anymore.

How Judges Disgrace the Bench

All across this country, from small counties to large cities, judges are being exposed as every bit as corruptible as the public they preside over. They are frail. They are weak. They are foolish. They are human. There are 800,000 stories in the Naked City. These are just some of them.

Isolated incidents that would normally never be noticed from state to state now come together because of the breadth of the Internet and its spontaneous dissemination of news and information. The picture it creates forever tarnishes the credibility of our courts. The fears that our justices have about attorneys destroying our courts by open criticism of our judiciary can be put to rest. The judges are doing themselves in without any help from counsel.

Let’s begin in Pennsylvania, the shocking case where two jurists were arrested for taking kickbacks from a private firm paid to run juvenile justice detention centers, compensated by the corporation each time they sent a kid into custody, whether he needed to be there or not. They pled guilty and are headed to jail. It is as disgusting a betrayal of a robe as we will ever see anywhere.

Of course, there is a United States District Judge from Texas facing federal sex crime charges, and he added to his woes by getting indicted last week for obstruction of justice as well. That is more serious than the judge in Alaska who was suspended after he decided to play a game of ex parte during a trial, passing only one of the parties’ notes to aid his litigation. And the note was not about shooting a moose from a helicopter.

There is a Texas county court judge fighting a DUI where she was pulled over for going 92 mph in a residential community. The Commission on Judicial Performance is accusing another judge of leaving work too early, too often, contending that he frequently departed the courthouse halfway through the day. Better than this groveling judge though, begging for mercy on a video cam after being pulled over for a DUI. Here is that link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLWI6zy1pAg

In New Jersey, a former judge has been suspended from his law practice for three months for an incident in which he allegedly told police officers who had arrested him on a drunken driving charge to “get the Vaseline out and bend over.” Is that better or worse than the retired Broward County judge who pulled citizens over at gunpoint while he was drunk ? That was years ago. I am writing now only about things which have just happened in the thirty days since I started blogging.

Of course, Broward County, Florida has created a comfortable niche for itself, populated by a battery of judges whose words and deeds this past year have been highly improvident. At least five separate county and circuit court judges have been humiliated for either inexcusably or inadvertently denigrating courthouse service personnel, gays, African Americans, and other lawyers. One was accused of taking kickbacks from an attorney for assigning him cases, another accused of snaking money from the elderly, and another went to a judicial conference sober but came home disrobed.

Meanwhile, the Mississippi Supreme Court has reprimanded a former judge for derogatory public comments he made about “white folks.” How does that compare to the NY federal bankruptcy judge who was popped for a domestic violence charge last week after slapping around his wife of 20 plus years?

In St. Petersburg, Florida an Appeals court judge resigned his seat after admitting to helping a stripper he ‘befriended’ conceal assets from judgment creditors. Well, that is a little bit better than the newly elected judge just south of Seattle who ‘befriended’ and then threatened male prostitutes, and now is being investigated by county prosecutors. In Boca Raton, a lawyer who was suspended from the practice of law managed to win a judicial seat from the jurist who had filed the disbarment proceedings against him. But the Supreme Court has barred the newly elected jurist from serving. Is this a soap opera or not?

As an embryonic blogger, my net-surfacing these past 30 days has enabled me to criss-cross the Blawgosphere the way an astronaut speedily circles around a planet. I have stumbled upon a collage of articles on popular legal blawgs and sites like the ABA Journal and Law.com., exposing these judicial foibles. Clearly, I have found lawyers too whose transgressions are outrageous and many. I have written about those too. But there are what, 500 lawyers for every judge? If the Legion of Judicial Disgraces continues at this pace, they are going to have their own comic books. It almost seems like the Obama Administration vetted judicial candidates.

The bottom line is that the judiciary is not above questioning. Behind those many colored robes are some seriously dysfunctional individuals. It thus becomes the burden of every litigator to stand their ground, make their case, and advocate zealously for their client. The judge’s duty is to be impartial, but first we must guarantee they are credible and competent. Lawyers and litigators must hold them to their tasks.

There is a denigrating joke a senior partner in a big white collar law firm about the candidates they promote for judicial office: “Well, if they can’t generate their weight in billable hours, we make them judges.” Yes, they wear robes and ought to be honored for the office they hold. Many come to the bench to crown a lifetime of achievement and honor. Still, no one should get a free ride.

Judges too must be held accountable. Apparently, around the country, some are. Not enough, I think. It is the tip of the iceberg. Sadly, from what I have seen so far, the judicial ship they are piloting is called the Titanic.

Freedom of the Press is Real National Security

The buildings that fell on September 11, 2001 in New York City took down more than steel and concrete, and stripped us of more than 3,000 lives.

The attack on the World Trade Center was a precursor to a government assault on our civil liberties. From airport scanners and metal detectors, to cameras taking your picture- as you drive innocently through an intersection to go to the dry cleaners- we have become the Surveillance States of America. No matter where we go and what we do, someone somewhere is now watching us. We have subjugated ourselves to powerful forces that can’t be trusted.

Worse than all of the invasive intrusions into our privacy, government now seems to sanction secrecy for those who are in charge and in power. Every overreaching step that law enforcement takes is justified and defended by the need for ‘national security.’ Think about it. If you oppose a law called the ‘Patriot Act,’ what does that make you? Fighting for your freedoms makes you seem traitorous. Outrageous.

It is no secret to us that our government deploys spies, or conducts clandestine operations. But what if the lawmakers become the lawbreakers? If someone working at an agency doing spying exposes the agency for doing things illegally, who is really violating the law? Who is the hero and who is the villain?

Daniel Ellsberg is a former United States military analyst who, while employed by the RAND Corporation, precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers a top-secret Pentagon study of U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War to the media. We forget that Ellsberg was prosecuted, smeared, and harassed.

There is a 2009 documentary about the story, which led to lawsuits by the NY Times, when then attorney general John Mitchell went to court to try to stop publication of the documents. The Supreme Court eventually upheld the right of the NY Times to publish the Pentagon Papers. It is a pillar of first amendment law.

Flash forward to a Moscow airport in 2013. Why is Edward Snowden fighting for his freedom after revealing to a reporter the United States has been illegally spying on our citizens? Shouldn’t we be giving this guy a medal? Has he really put soldiers at risk?  Or has he gone to a reporter and revealed systemic and institutionalized corruption which is compromising your rights as an American citizen?

Transparency is healthy for our government. There is a reason freedom of the press is in the first amendment. It is the most important. Cover-ups are unacceptable breaches of the public trust, and we cannot stand for them at any level.

Whistleblowers play a critical constitutional role in our system of government, particularly in the area of national security. We reward people for their courage in standing up to the system, not take away their rights.

So why is Bradley Manning, a gay man in jail for providing documents to Wiki-Leaks? Did he really aid the enemy or assist you as a free citizen with a right to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Today we celebrate Martin Luther King’s letter from a Birmingham Jail. Will society so salute Bradley Manning one day?

He should not face life in jail for daring to make information accessible to the American public that the government should not have been hiding. Is the empire falling, or are our trains still running on time? His trial is a travesty of justice, with the secret lawbreakers trying to protect their secret making. The fact is we have over classified too much and declassified too little. This does not strengthen our country. It weakens us. Sunlight is a disinfectant.

We have Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency. How many Americans even know there was a secret court created by the Foreign Intelligence Service Act?  How many people know the government has asked for about 15,000 surveillance warrants from them. which judges grant 99.997% of the time. You cannot trust these entities with delivering you the truth.   These are the people that have brought you the disgrace we call Guantanamo Bay, the internment camps of the 21st century.

The IRS did more than target the Tea Party. A disproportionate number of non profits using buzz words like marijuana reform were apparently also targeted. The powers that be enforce their powers without discretion or discrimination.

These are the people secretly spying on you, maybe with drones over your shoulder, and taps on your phones, collecting your emails and monitoring your Facebook account. A healthy distrust of government is the safest way to protect national security.

A free press has a duty and an obligation to report the truth, uncover the lies, and expose secrets. One congressman has gone as far as suggesting that Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who published Edward Snowden’s story, should himself face jail. No, the truth is that a congressman who suggests such a thing should himself face expulsion from the house.

The truth is that our country is strong enough to withstand revealing tears in the emperor’s clothes, and our fabric is strong enough to expose the lies, sew together the wounds and heal the divisions. As the Billy Joel song noted, ‘we are still standing.’ We will not only survive these purported and hyped-up alleged breaches and leaks of national security; we will become stronger because of them.