Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Giver

81cJChEQjSL“In communist regimes, poverty is equally distributed—except for those in power. ‘The Giver’ presents a clever twist on this totalitarian theme. In the fictional tale, every material need is met. We are in a world where all human misery has been eliminated. There is no rage, no war, no wealth and no poverty.

“But at a cost. There is also no music, no art, no literature no beauty. And no memory: Just to be safe, all memories are the possession of a lone individual. In this setting the human spirit is almost extinguished.” Raymond Flynn

‘The Giver’ and the Totalitarian Instinct

Watching the movie, I thought about another utopia-gone-wrong and about the power of faith.

Raymond Flynn, The Wall Street Journal, August 8-15, 2014, p. A 11

I recently attended a screening of “The Giver” in advance of the movie’s Aug. 15 release. The Hollywood version of the still-popular 1993 novel by Lois Lowry is compelling in its own right as it depicts the bleak reality of a society that sacrifices human individuality in the utopian pursuit of “Sameness.” Watching the cast that includes Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and Katie Holmes in this powerful, dystopian story, I kept thinking of a real-life tale populated with actors on the world stage: communist Poland in the 1980s, when men such as Pope John Paul II and Lech Walesa changed history.

I was in Poland one day during that period, listening to the striking members of the Solidarity labor union at the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk. Story after story detailed the Polish people’s plight under the military rule instituted after the first glimmers of a bid for freedom. State control trumped individual human rights.

Yet the Poles knew that they had a champion: Pope John Paul II. The Solidarity labor leader, Lech Walesa, spoke to me movingly about the courage John Paul showed in standing up to this tyranny. The pope’s visit to Poland in 1979, and another in 1983, had given millions of Poles solace and inspiration.

Recently, I saw Mr. Walesa again. We assessed Poland’s political landscape, then and now, but the focus was mostly on the heady days of the past. Mr. Walesa extolled the Cold War leadership of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, but he still holds a special place in his heart for John Paul. Continue reading

Legal Pot

“The great irony, or misfortune, of the national debate over marijuana is that while almost all the science and research is going in one direction—point out the dangers of marijuana use—public opinion seems to be gong in favor of broad legalization.” William J. Bennett and Robert A. White

Legal Pot Is a Public Health Menace

Public opinion is moving in favor of marijuana, even as medical research raises fresh alarms.

William J. Bennett and Robert A. White, The Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2014, p. A 11

ED-AS548_bennet_D_20140813182557The great irony, or misfortune, of the national debate over marijuana is that while almost all the science and research is going in one direction—pointing out the dangers of marijuana use—public opinion seems to be going in favor of broad legalization.

For example, last week a new study in the journal Current Addiction Reports found that regular pot use (defined as once a week) among teenagers and young adults led to cognitive decline, poor attention and memory, and decreased IQ. On Aug. 9, the American Psychological Association reported that at its annual convention the ramifications of marijuana legalization was much discussed, with Krista Lisdahl, director of the imaging and neuropsychology lab at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, saying: “It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth.”

Since few marijuana users limit themselves to use once a week, the actual harm is much worse for developing brains. The APA noted that young people who become addicted to marijuana lose an average of six IQ points by adulthood. A long line of studies have found similar results—in 2012, a decades-long study of more than 1,000 New Zealanders who frequently smoked pot in adolescence pegged the IQ loss at eight points.

Yet in recent weeks and months, much media coverage of the marijuana issue has either tacitly or explicitly supported legalization. A CCN/ORC International survey in January found that a record 55% of Americans support marijuana legalization.

The disconnect between science and public opinion is so great that in a March WSJ/NBC News poll, Americans ranked sugar as more harmful than marijuana. The misinformation campaign appears to be succeeding.

Here’s the truth. The marijuana of today is simply not the same drug it was in the 1960s, ’70s, or ’80s, much less the 1930s. It is often at least five times stronger, with the levels of the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, averaging about 15% in the marijuana at dispensaries found in the states that have legalized pot for “medicinal” or, in the case of Colorado, recreational use. Often the THC level is 20% or higher.

With increased THC levels come increased health risks. Since Colorado legalized recreational use earlier this year, two deaths in the state have already been linked to marijuana. In both cases it was consumed in edible form, which can result in the user taking in even more THC than when smoking pot. “One man jumped to his death after consuming a large amount of marijuana contained in a cookie,” the Associated Press reported in April, “and in the other case, a man allegedly shot and killed his wife after eating marijuana candy.” Reports are coming out of Colorado in what amounts to a parade of horribles from more intoxicated driving to more emergency hospital admissions due to marijuana exposure and overdose. Continue reading

Gamechanger

“A prominent CNN commentator…among the more than 1,000 members of Gamechanger Salon.” Brian Sikma, Eagnews.org,
top secretAugust 7, 2014

“Jordan Flaherty was, as of last year, a producer for Al Jazeera America television. He is also listed as a member of Gamechanger Salon.” Ibid

“David Brodwin writes an online column for U.S. News & World Report. Brodwin is a member of Gamechanger Salon.” Ibid

“Lisa Graves, who leads the Madison, Wisconsin-based Center for Media and Democracy, is also a member of Gamechanger Salon.” Ibid

“Amanda Terkel, the Senior Political Reporter and Politics Managing Editor at The Huffington Post, is a member of Gamechanger Salon.” Ibid

“Gamechanger, founded by leftwing activist Billy Wimsatt, is a secretive digital gathering of writers, opinion leaders, activists and political hands who share information, ideas and strategy via a closed Google group.” Breitbart News.com, August 6, 2014

1,000-Member Secretive Progressive Journalist Group Uncovered

Brian Sikma, Eagnews.com, August 6, 2014

UPDATE: Names, activities of secretive progressive journalist group revealed

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A prominent CNN commentator, the top two political reporters for The Huffington Post, a Reuters
reporter, the editor of The Nation magazine, a producer for Al Jazeera America television, a U.S. News & World Report columnist, and approximately two dozen Huffington Post contributors are among the more than 1,000 members of Gamechanger Salon.

Founded by leftwing activist Billy Wimsatt, the group is a secretive digital gathering of writers, opinion leaders, activists and political hands who share information, ideas and strategy via a closed Google group.

The group’s existence was discovered by Media Trackers through an open records request filed with a University of Wisconsin professor who happened to be a member of the network.

Sally Kohn, formerly a Fox News contributor, now works for CNN reliably echoing pro-Obama Administration talking points and championing leftwing ideas as a network commentator. Kohn is also a member of Gamechanger Salon, and e-mails show that she occasionally approached the group’s membership and asked them to promote her television appearances.

“I’m guest co-hosting CNN’s Crossfire tonight at 6:30pm EST, with fellow co-host Newt Gingrich. I would be grateful for folks (a) helping spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, etc to encourage people to tune in; and (b) tuning in and live tweeting during the show,” Kohn wrote to the group on January 14 of this year. Continue reading