A flagrant liar for president?

We’ve got a new darling in the GOP presidential race: Carly Fiorina!
Being the darling du jour, however, can be dicey – just ask Rick Perry and Scott Walker, two former darlings who’re now out of the race, having turned into ugly ducklings by saying stupid things. But Fiorina is smart, sharp witted, and successful. We know this because she and her PR agents constantly tell us so. Be careful about believing anything she says, though, for Darling Fiorina is not only a relentless self-promoter, but also a remorseless liar.
Take her widely-hailed performance in the second debate among Republican wannabes, where she touched many viewers with her impassioned and vivid attack on Planned Parenthood. With barely-contained outrage, Fiorina described a video that, she said, shows the woman’s health organization in a depraved act of peddling body parts of an aborted fetus. “Watch a fully-formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking,” said a stone-faced Fiorina, looking straight into the camera, “while someone says, ‘we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain’.”
Oh, the horror, the monstrosity of Planned Parenthood! And how moving it was to see and feel the fury of this lady candidate for president!
Only… none of it is true. While she urged the audience to go watch it, there is no such video – no fetus with kicking legs and beating heart, and no demonic Planned Parenthood official luridly preparing to harvest a brain.
So, did Fiorina make up this lie herself, or did her PR team concoct it as a bit of show-biz drama to burnish her right-wing credentials and advance her political ambition? Or, maybe she’s just spreading a malicious lie she was told by some haters of Planned Parenthood. Either way, there’s nothing darling about it… much less presidential.
“Fantasies And Fiction,” The New York Times, September 18, 2015.
“The Fight for Unplanned Parenthood,” The New York Times, September 19, 2015.

Willie’s Reserve

With marijuana prohibition finally ending in states and cities across the land – including full legalization and/or commercialization in Alaska, Colorado, Washington State, Oregon, and Washington, DC – who better than our friend Willie Nelson to lead the way for weed quality and social responsibility?
The iconic musician and intrepid fighter for justice has announced that he will market his own marijuana brand, “Willie’s Reserve,” and open a group of stores selling top-quality pot and paraphernalia. “I feel like I was buying so much of it, it’s time to start selling it back!” Willie said of his new weed venture. “I am looking forward to working with the best growers in Colorado and Washington to make sure our product is the best on the market.” A tireless champion of small farmers, civil liberties, the environment, common sense, and the common good, he plans to start rolling out his stores and products (including hemp goods) this year, and he’ll expand further as state laws allow. In the typical Willie way, the stores will be “the anti-Walmart model,” with a core purpose of helping expand the market for small, energy-efficient, environmentally sound growers.
Over the years I have cited Willie’s work in calling for legalization and restoration of hemp farming in America. I’ve also called repeatedly for an end to the Orwellian, Kafkaesque drug war that has criminalized the cannabis equivalent of cocktail hour – 750,000 people are arrested each year for marijuana-related offenses.
And now, I salute the innumerable grassroots activists who’ve steadily pushed America from the darkness of marijuana madness to being able to light up a Willie without getting busted! Find out more at Marijuana Policy Project ( mpp.org), and also at NORML (norml.org).

Driving America’s yellow school bus to educational hell

Public education used to be, you know, public – as in: An essential societal investment for the betterment of all, paid for by all through school taxes.
In addition to privatization schemes to turn education over to corporate profiteers, public schools themselves have steadily been perverting the idea of free education into one of “fee education.” This is a product of the budget slashing frenzy imposed on our schools in the past 15 years or so by Koch-headed, anti-public ideologues and unimaginative, acquiescent education officials.
Beset by budget cuts, too many school systems are accommodating the slashers by shifting the cost of educating America’s future from the general society to the parents of students who’re presently enrolled. Want to play a sport, take a class trip to a museum, or participate in a debate tournament? Pay a fee. Want art, music, drama, or other cultural courses? Pay a fee. Need a uniform? Pay a fee.
And now comes a new level of monetizing public education: The ubiquitous yellow school bus. Yes, just getting to and from school is increasingly being treated not as a necessary public service, but as a private “luxury” to be billed to the families of students. Districts in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Texas, and elsewhere are charging around $400 a year per child. For the poor and the downwardly-mobile middle class that’s a real hit – yet another barrier to educational access for America’s majority. What’s next – a daily debit-card deduction for kids to enter a classroom?
If our society won’t even pay for bus rides, how’re we going to get to the future we want for our children? It’s time to reject the small-minded budget-slashers, reinvest fully in public education, and get America moving again.
“Schools start billing parents for bus rides,” Austin American Statesman, June 21, 2015.
“Pay to Ride: Many School Districts Now Charge Fees to Ride School Buses,” www.publicschoolreview.com, Undated.