R.I.P. Sasha Shulgin


Psychedelia Researcher Dies at 88: ‘Alexander Shulgin, a chemist who specialized in the creation of and experimentation with mind-altering substances, and who introduced the controversial drug popularly known as Ecstasy for potential therapeutic use, died on Monday at his home in Lafayette, Calif., east of Oakland. He was 88.The cause was cancer, his wife, Ann, said.

Dr. Shulgin, whose interest, as he put it once, was “in the machinery of the mental process,” was both a rogue and a wizard, a legitimate scientist and a counterculture hero. Over more than four decades, working generally within the law if occasionally on the edge, trying out his concoctions on himself, his wife and a few friends, and publishing his results, he was the creator of almost 200 chemical compounds capable of rejiggering the quotidian functions of the mind.’ (NYTimes obituary)

George W. Bush “competency” myth: Why Beltway media is dangerously confused again

Washington Post piece suggests a presidents ability to “get things done” and “competency” are analogous. Nope! We’re not going to argue that Obama is the most “competent” president in history and George W. Bush is the least. Neither really seems to make the Presidential All-Star team in that respect. But the question about a president’s ability to “get things done” seems more an issue of how well Washington is working and the state of gridlock at any given time than about an individual president’s competency.’ (Salon.com).

Robert Reich: Mississippi is turning back the clock on the civil rights movement

‘Mississippi used its new voter-identification law for the first time Tuesday — requiring voters to show a driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID at the polls.The official reason given for the new law is alleged voter fraud, although the state hasn’t been able to provide any evidence that voter fraud is a problem.The real reason for the law is to suppress the votes of the poor, especially African-Americans, some of whom won’t be able to afford the cost of a photo ID.It’s a tragic irony that this law became effective almost exactly fifty years after three young civil rights workers — Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman – were tortured and murdered in Mississippi for trying to register African-Americans to vote.’ (Salon.com).

Ronald Reagan “treason” amnesia


GOP hypocrites forget their hero negotiated with terrorists. He was just really bad at it – ‘It’s been said that if President Obama were to walk on water, the headline news would be “President Can’t Swim.”

That can explain why what would normally be a cause for celebration — the return of America’s only prisoner of war in Iraq or Afghanistan — quickly became a controversy, with talk of it being a crime. Reactions to the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, in exchange for five Taliban members being held at Guantanamo, have been so severe that even the hometown joy at his release has been dampened.GOP criticism — picked up by the media — initially focused on two lines of attack on Obama, the first claiming that “negotiating with terrorists” sets a bad precedent, and the second claiming that Obama broke the law by failing to consult with Congress 30 days in advance of releasing the Taliban detainees.

There were calls for “investigations,” the GOP’s favorite word in Obama’s second term. But the consultation requirement in a bill passed by Congress was countered by a presidential signing statement — and acting on such signing statements was never a problem for the GOP when Bush was president.As for “setting a bad precedent” by “negotiating with terrorists,” the GOP’s very serious concern comes three decades too late: Their hallowed icon, Ronald Reagan, firmly established that precedent in a still-murky tangle of secret dealings with Iran, only some of which came to light in the Iran-contra scandal….’ (Salon.com).