Bob Barr: As Nasty as He Wants to Be

Your Vote Doesn’t Count in D.C.

Great, but disturbing, article on Bob Barr and the D.C. vote to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. Nobody thought the Berlin Wall would come down, but it has. In the same way, the tide of drug policy will veer away from our present policy of brutal repression. Cracks are beginning to appear in that monolith, only our leaders — left and right — will not recognize it. Instead, they go on about how drugs must be stopped before they destroy the moral fabric of our culture. Beware of all those who rant about preserving the moral fabric: it’s merely the social conservatives’s code for restricting private behavior of which they don’t approve.

James van Scoyoc

‘Must Reads’…or Must Research?

“Must Reads: When ‘dolphin-safe’ isn’t”

Dear Mother Jones:

Your “must read” on dolphin-safe tuna deserves a “must investigate further.” Your reporter has done a crack job of turning around an Earth Island Institute press release and calling it news. What the story lacks, however, is Mother Jones’ proud tradition of investigative journalism.

Here’s a few points to consider…

There is a good reason why such a diverse group of environmental organizations, from Greenpeace to the World Wildlife Fund, have supported this legislation, and support the change in labeling standards. It raises the conservation standard by using the strong observer program established by the U.S. and several Latin American fishing fleets to allow truly dolphin-safe tuna (i.e. no dolphins died) back into the U.S. (Where do you think Earth Island gets its data on dolphin/tuna interaction? The international-observer program, of course, but they don’t want you to know that.)

The countries that have worked hard to lower their dolphin deaths (indeed, more than 90 percent of fishing-net deployments result in zero dolphin mortalities) deserve a great deal of credit. And remember, if they don’t feel rewarded for their efforts, they have the sovereign right to start killing dolphins again, and the U.S. will have no leverage (i.e. market power) to influence their behavior.

The net result? Consumers will buy “dolphin-safe” tuna (under the old definition), doing nothing to improve the fate of dolphins in the oceans where it matters most.

Finally, don’t downplay the significance of the unanimous U.S. Senate vote. Many of the senators that voted for the change in the law authored the original labeling legislation, including Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Senator Joe Biden (D-Del.).

I look forward to reading the rewrite.

Rodrigo Prudencio
University of California, Berkeley