Make the World Over

We have at this moment, as we did as a result of the Revolution, a chance to make the world over.  Let us not waste this costly chance to remake our world in the image of our dreams and aspirations.  We have again the opportunity to live up to our claim that all people are created equal but that equality must extend to all.

We must build a new society with a government that has in its charge the welfare of all our citizens.  A government that is willing to curb the harms of unfettered capitalism and direct itself to making it possible for all our citizens to benefit from the wealth that capitalism can produce.  We say God created all people equal.  We now have a chance to move one giant step closer to making that vision a reality.  We moved closer with the end of the Civil War and emancipation but we have not finished the job.  This time we can finish the job by making it possible for all our citizens to enjoy equally the blessings of American Freedom.

What kind of country do we want?  It seems most of us want a country that includes everybody equally, especially when it comes to the vote, in all our doings. A country that provides the benefits we see in other countries.   Healthcare for all, Universal Basic income that eliminates abject poverty and gives all our citizens freedom and a financial platform to help our children get started and succeed in life.  This would drive the largest economic expansion in our history.  It would enable tens of thousands of our citizens to attend college who otherwise would not be able to.  The scientific and societal advances of all those educated Americans cannot begin to be imagined.

Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense that, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”  He also wrote in the appendix to Common Sense that, ‘We have the chance to begin the world over again.”  In the same vein we too today have a chance to begin the world over again as they did then.  Let us go forward bravely so that when we pass on our children will say we left the world a better place.  The chance for change comes once in a lifetime.  Let’s not blow it!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Crimes of Desperation

When one looks at the deaths of our citizens at the hands of the police one thing, other than a disproportionate number being Afro American, sticks out.  The crimes committed that instigated the confrontation with police are all minor crimes.

Selling single cigarettes on the street, a bad $20 check, minor drug dealing and drug use, heck, even a bad turn signal can end up in you being dead or incarcerated. These are crimes of desperation.  We live in a cruel capitalistic system.  Work or starve.  No work where you live?  We don’t care, starve.  Transportation to work not available?  We don’t care, starve.  Can’t afford to move to seek work?  We don’t care, starve.  This is a cruel system that exploits those at the bottom to maintain the lifestyle of the wealthy.  The current minimum wage is only one quarter of what it should be to comprise a living wage.

It is not surprising that people end up committing petty crimes to get by.  The guy who trades some food stamps to fix his car so he can get to work is a criminal but it’s either that or starve!  The system is what drives this kind of desperate criminality.  Many of these things should not even be crimes.  Drug use is one.  The 1972 Shafer Committee in its report, ‘Drugs in America’ long ago said drugs were a medical problem and not a criminal one yet we still treat drug use as criminal.  Bad turn signal is another one.  Today’s cars tell you when your turn signal is out.  You do not need a policeman to stop you to tell you something the car is already telling you.  What you need is an income that makes it possible to afford to fix it!

There is no doubt that reform is needed.  Not just police and police standards but the law that supports this system must be reformed also.  Add to that healthcare for all and a Universal Basic Income and now we are getting somewhere.

The way forward calls for us to do whatever is in our power to right the wrongs our system creates.  We must move to a more equitable economic and cultural society where not just the wealthy do well but all our citizens have the economic and cultural support needed to live prosperous and meaningful lives.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reconciliations and Reparations

We need to do some kind of reconciliation program like was done in other countries to put slavery and racism behind us. Reconciliation and reparations are needed and until we do, these things will haunt us and we can never ever put them behind us.

Rwanda saw the Hutu tribe members killing Tutsi tribe members in a massive slaughter of biblical proportions. After the killings and civil war were stopped, reconciliation hearings were held to try to repair the damage and bring the country back together. The same thing happened in Bosnia after the Balkan wars. These hearings went a long way to healing these countries.

We have the horrible things done to Native Americans and African Americans in our past and regrettably in our present and we have done nothing to atone and reconcile what had happened. We have never done anything to put these things behind us. Oh we say, well that was in the past, but it is not. We are dealing with them right now! The treatment of African Americans by our police is directly connected to slavery and the civil war.  Some blogger even posted that the only good democrat is a dead one. What’s next, knocking on doors and killing anyone who does not agree? This ‘past’ of ours will never be behind us until we own up and do the hard work of reconciliation.

What form that would take is up for discussion.  We could use what happened in Rwanda and the Balkans as a template.  Hearings to get the facts out and some form of reparations to put it officially to an end.  It won’t be perfect but it must be done if we are ever to move on.

The rioting over the killing of another African American is just the outward appearance of the anger and resentment left over by the horrible treatment of our own citizens by our Government, and to think it will just stop one day without an honest treatment of what happened is living in a nonexistent dream world.  Without some kind of reconciliation and reparations we will never be free of our past.

Until we face our past and reconcile what was done in our name it will continue to haunt us from century to century and the only way to put it behind us is reconciliation and reparations.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Anger in the Land

There is a folk song written in 1950 by Don West and Hedy West titled, ‘Anger in the Land’ about the horror of lynching in the South and the anger of the people affected by it.  The folk group Peter, Paul and Mary did a cover of the song and recast it as an anti-war song with the people angry at the continued deaths of their sons in Vietnam.  More than 50,000 died in that war.  The people were angry and wanted it to end.

The lyrics, as Peter, Paul and Mary sang them, could be applied to the crisis we are in today.  We are witnessing the deaths of over 100,000 of our citizens, many of which would still be alive were it not for the denial and bungling of the Administration in its handling of the crisis.

We have been encouraged by the President to flout the restrictions and mitigation measures put in place by the State Governors who have been left on their own by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.  The President certainly does want to churn up anger, not at him, but at our State Governors who, on the whole, are trying to cope as best they can.

There should be anger in the land but not about the measures taken to mitigate the spread of the virus, but rather at the stunning number of deaths and the ineffectual response of the Trump Administration that allowed many of them to happen.

A recently released study from Columbia University found that if social distancing had been put in place one week earlier, as many as 36,000 of our citizens would likely still be alive.  Instead of being angry at our Governors for trying to save our lives, we should be angry at the Administration for the preventable deaths of our Fathers, Mothers, Sons and Daughters.

There should be anger in the land and lots of it.  It should be loud and insistent and directed to those responsible.  Most importantly, it should not stop.  Each and every death must be accounted and paid for and until then there should be increasing non-stop anger in the land!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Open Letter to Presidential Candidate Joe Biden

Sir,

I am supporter.

I am responding to a political advertisement that says you now support ‘decriminalization’ of marijuana use as opposed to full legalization.

Sir, this is simply a half- a– answer to the problem of drug prohibition.  This policy would allow law enforcement to continue to use marijuana possession and use as an excuse to harass anybody over it any time they want.  This sort of harassment always falls mostly on minorities and poor whites.

I have used cannabis to treat my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from child sexual abuse for 50 years.  I was, despite prohibition, able to have a great career and retired from the Air Force after a little over 20 years.  I worked in communications and wrecked my back pulling manhole covers and climbing telephone poles.  I am disabled and also use marijuana to treat my chronic pain.  It helped me avoid opioid addiction too!  I also work as a Senior Advisor for Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access.  We were instrumental in getting the VA to stop withholding meds and treatment from Vet Patients simply because they tested positive for cannabis in a routine urinalysis.

Please read the following before you continue with decriminalization.  You must be made aware, despite your past opinions that prohibition as policy is a total failure.

The demonization of cannabis began in California in 1913, based on prejudice against “Hindoos” (https://www.researchgate.net/…/242120559_The_Origins_of_Can…) Immigrants from south Asia who used hashish and evolved into a deliberate campaign of racially biased propaganda directed against certain segments of our nation who still struggle against discrimination. Harry J. Anslinger the first drug Czar said cannabis should be illegal because, “It makes black people think they are as good as white people”, among other things.

Prior to 1937, cannabis was the most used medicine in America. During the early Thirties, it was demonized by the Hearst newspaper group with article after article of stories of Timmy killing his Grandmother with a skillet and such. Politicians jumped on the band wagon along with law enforcement, (many were out of a job with the end of alcohol prohibition). Despite many cannabis based medicines being approved for use, the fix was in. The Marijuana Tax Stamp Act of 1937 required one to have a Tax Stamp to possess marijuana but it was a trap law and finally was declared unconstitutional in 1969.

Next up, the 1970 Controlled Substances Act which temporarily placed cannabis in the same category as heroin, Schedule1, Dangerous and having no medical value.  They were waiting for the Nixon appointed Shafer Commission to report on its study of Drugs in America.  They finished in 1972 and reported that marijuana use should be decriminalized and that drugs were a medical problem not a criminal one.  Nixon ignored the report and declared the War on Drugs. The cover story in the April 2016 edition of Harper’s Magazine titled, “Legalize it all” with the subtitle “How to Win the War on Drugs” written by Dan Baum recalls an interview with President Nixon aide John Ehrlichman. Mister Baum was asking questions about the politics of drug prohibition and as he tells it, Ehrlichman asked, “You want to know what this was really all about?” He went on to say, “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Besides being used as a political scam prohibition was also used as a way to harass immigrant and minority populations, (Afro-Americans are 6 times more likely to be arrested for drugs than Caucasian citizens.) and the result is an overblown prison population and arrests in the hundreds of thousands every year. Even with legalization in many states, there were over 500,000 arrests last year alone.   Millions of our citizens have had their lives upended and destroyed behind the totally failed policy of drug prohibition.

During the 90s America and Portugal were experiencing increasing numbers of drug users. Portugal took the step of decriminalization and rehabilitation whereas America doubled down on prohibition. Portugal has seen a 67% drop in drug use and abuse and America is still seeing no progress in its fight against drug use and abuse.

We should end marijuana prohibition completely.  (How about the ATMF Department, Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms).  Adopt a policy similar to that of Portugal that, as the original Shafer Commission recommended, drugs are a medical and not a criminal problem.

If there is anything I can do to help you with this issue please feel free to contact me.  If you make it to MI, feel free to drop in for a cup of coffee!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Political Lives and Deaths

General Mike Flynn recently pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts and discussions with the Russians.  Reportedly, these discussions were regarding economic sanctions placed on Russia as a result of their invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. General Flynn told the Russians to wait till after the elections and the sanctions might go away. Never mind the Ukrainian soldiers dying from Russian bullets. General Flynn is not the first to make a deal with a foreign government for political reasons while awaiting an election.

There was another politician who basically did the same thing only in his case the dead were American soldiers.  Richard Nixon was preparing to run for president in the 1968 election.  He would be running against Lyndon Johnson, the incumbent.

Johnson was already sick over the loss of American lives in Vietnam and wanted to bring the war to an end.  He knew also that with the immense push back of anti-war protesters he needed either to win the war or end it as soon as he could.  He proposed peace talks and felt they might just be successful.  At least if he got the talks started he would be better positioned for the election.

Nixon decided the only way to stop Johnsons election would be the collapse of the talks.  He had an ally in General Chennault former Commander of Air Operations in China during WWII.  He knew the General’s wife and asked her to do him a favor and pass a message to the South Vietnamese President that if they ignored the Johnson talks and waited till after the election Nixon would get them a better deal.  South Vietnam refused to participate and the talks collapsed.  Johnson was so distraught over the collapse of the talks and his inability to end the war that he decided not to run for reelection in 1968.

The most terrible part of this story is that the war went on for another 6 years.  Six years of American deaths that could have been avoided were it not for the political meddling of Nixon.  His willingness to use this suffering and death simply to win the election cannot be understated.  My brother is one of them.  As a helicopter mechanic he would have been exposed to Agent Orange.  He served from 1969 to 1970 in Vietnam and died of 2 cancers in 2009.  It is quite possible he would not have been there were it not for Nixon’s interference.

Today we are witnessing another sacrifice of American lives for political ends.  President Trump is pushing the country to reopen the economy and get everything back to ‘normal’ before the election in November.  He has deemed it imperative to his winning.  He is willing to ignore the advice of the experts that opening too soon and without a vaccine could cost thousands of lives.  Here again we have a politician willing to sacrifice American lives to win an election.

Given the mishandling of this pandemic and the already thousands of deaths we have suffered, they are now willing to risk more lives simply to look good for the November election.  Surely many will die unnecessarily if their plan is carried out.

We never held Nixon responsible for the interference that caused so many deaths. Nor have we held President Bush responsible for the lies that sent us into Iraq and so many Americans and Iraqis to their deaths.

This time we should not let it go.  We should not pass it off.  Studies show that roughly 36 thousand deaths would not have occurred had the Trump Administration not denied and completely bungled the response to the pandemic.  Now they want more deaths as a sacrifice simply so they can look good politically.  We should say in a loud voice, “No!”  “No!”, not one more sacrifice to the altar of their avarice and lust for power.  The accounting will come.  Let us make sure that these lives lost are placed exactly where they belong, at the feet of every one of these immoral and corrupt politicians with a vow that we should never let it happen again!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Future Fear and Conspiracy

With all the hoopla and conspiracy theories over vaccines and the virus I would like to remind you all that your conspiracy theories are nothing new…..

From ‘Empire of Liberty 1789-1815’ By Gordon S. Wood, From the Oxford History of the United States.

President Adams had called for a day of fasting and prayer on May 9, 1798 and the orthodox clergy in the North and Middle States responded with support for the Federalist (conservative) cause, especially since most of the rapidly expanding Baptists and Methodists favored the Republicans.(liberals)  The traditional Congregational, Presbyterians and Episcopalians clearly saw their fight against infidelity linked to the Federalist fight against France and the Jacobins in America’s midst.  Jedidiah Morse, author of the best selling, ‘American Geography’ (1789) and Congregational Minister in Charlestown, Massachusetts spread the theory that the French Revolution was part of an international conspiracy to destroy Christianity and all civil government.  Drawing on the anti-Jacobin work of the Scot, John Robison, ‘Proofs of a Conspiracy Against All the Religions and Governments of Europe’ (1798), Morse traced his conspiracy back to a society of free thinkers called, the Bavarian Illuminati, who had infiltrated Masonic organizations in Europe.  Morse claimed that the French were now conspiring to use Jeffersonian Republicans to subvert America’s government and religion. (Pg. 244)

Then as now conspiracy theories are always based in fear of the future.  With the pandemic of today and much concern and fear of the future we see many conspiracies thriving especially as the ability to communicate these fears and conspiracies is advanced by social media.  Truth is a way to push back against this nonsense but truth doesn’t work once people are invested in the conspiracy.

One can only hang on, search out the facts and wait.  The proof of the validity of the conspiracy will eventually show up as it did with the French Revolution and the fear of the time that it would spill over into American society.  Like the old saying goes, you can have your own opinion but not your own facts and the facts are really all that matter.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Freedom From Want

If there is one thing the strain of dealing with the current pandemic has shown it is a need to prepare and strengthen our economy so that the strain of recession or depression can be dealt with whatever crisis arises.

Legislators talk of putting the economy in a coma, closing businesses and having people stay home as we are doing during this current pandemic.  In order to do this economic support from Congress is required.  This time Congress passed a one-time $1200 per person stimulus designed to help our citizens weather the shutdown of economic activity.  Although they are moving in the right direction, they are stopping short of completing the job.  It is clear another $1200 per citizen will be needed next month and the month after that.  Our leaders are, without knowing it, proving that instituting a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is an idea whose time has come.

Currently we must wait till Congress gets it together to pass another stimulus payment, had a UBI been in place that would not be necessary.  A UBI coupled with Universal Health Insurance would have our citizens already in a good position to weather the current crisis.

There are other advantages to a UBI.  It would eliminate abject poverty in America and give all our citizens a financial platform from which they can grow and prosper.  That kind of support would make it possible for all our children to attend college should they desire to.  Right now the child who might cure cancer is not going to because cannot afford the education needed to do so!

A UBI would also give all our citizens, ‘skin in the game’!  That monthly payment would remind them that they have a stake in what happens in Washington.  Many of our citizens feel disconnected from their Government.  This would give them a reason to pay attention and vote!

A UBI coupled with Universal Healthcare would give all our citizens a kind of financial freedom.  They would no longer have to fear starvation should work not be available. It would enable the free flow of labor.  Workers would easily be able to move from their current job to a better one. Instead of workers begging employers for a job and having to take a crappy job with crappy wages, employers would have to bargain for their labor.  It would enable people to more easily volunteer for service work like the Peace Corp. Volunteer service does not pay much and this financial support would make it easier to do so.

The naysayers claim that with this financial support people would not work.  They seem to think the only reason people work is to avoid starvation.  All the available evidence shows just the opposite. People work for many reasons and hunger while compelling is not the only reason.

Many of our leaders support the idea of a UBI.  President Obama, President Nixon, President Roosevelt, Founding Father Thomas Paine, Nobel Prize winning economists Milton Friedman and Peter Diamond.  Economist John Kenneth Galbraith who signed a document with 1200 other economists in 1968 calling for a UBI.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Former Walmart Chairman S Robson, Former Chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers Greg Mankiw and Martin Feldman, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and more recently Andrew Yang 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate to name a few.

President Roosevelt cited four freedoms every one of our citizens should enjoy the benefits of, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from fear, and the last Freedom from want.  A Universal Basic Income would actually accomplish the last, Freedom from want.  Let us create a better economy, one that moves all our citizens to a better life and thereby making a better country!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lets Try Something That Works

Let’s Try Something That Works!

The demonization of cannabis began in California in 1913, based on prejudice against “Hindoos” (https://www.researchgate.net/…/242120559_The_Origins_of_Can…) Immigrants from south Asia who used hashish and evolved into a deliberate campaign of racially biased propaganda directed against certain segments of our nation who still struggle against discrimination. Harry J. Anslinger the first drug Czar said cannabis should be illegal because, “It makes black people think they are as good as white people”, among other things.

Prior to 1937, cannabis was the most used medicine in America. During the early Thirties, it was demonized by the Hearst newspaper group with article after article of stories of Timmy killing his Grandmother with a skillet and such. Politicians jumped on the band wagon along with law enforcement, (many were out of a job with the end of alcohol prohibition). Despite many cannabis based medicines being approved for use, the fix was in. The Marijuana Tax Stamp Act of 1937 required one to have a Tax Stamp to possess marijuana but it was a trap law and finally was declared unconstitutional in 1969.

Next up, the 1970 Controlled Substances Act which temporarily placed cannabis in the same category as heroin, Schedule1, Dangerous and having no medical value.  They were waiting for the Nixon appointed Shafer Commission to report on its study of Drugs in America.  They finished in 1972 and reported that marijuana use should be decriminalized and that drugs were a medical problem not a criminal one.  Nixon ignored the report and declared the War on Drugs. The cover story in the April 2016 edition of Harper’s Magazine titled, “Legalize it all” with the subtitle “How to Win the War on Drugs” written by Dan Baum recalls an interview with President Nixon aide John Ehrlichman. Mister Baum was asking questions about the politics of drug prohibition and as he tells it, Ehrlichman asked, “You want to know what this was really all about?” He went on to say, “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Besides being used as a political scam prohibition was also used as a way to harass immigrant and minority populations, (Afro-Americans are 6 times more likely to be arrested for drugs than Caucasian citizens.) and the result is an overblown prison population and arrests in the hundreds of thousands every year.  Even with legalization in many states, there were over 500,000 arrests last year alone.   Millions of our citizens have had their lives upended and destroyed behind the totally failed policy of drug prohibition.

During the 90s America and Portugal were experiencing increasing numbers of drug users.  Portugal took the step of decriminalization and rehabilitation whereas America doubled down on prohibition.  Portugal has seen a 67% drop in drug use and abuse and America is still seeing no progress in its fight against drug use and abuse.

Portugal’s policy has been a success.  Time to try their policy here in America.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Modern Confederacy

The current occupant of the White House and his cronies in the administration are the modern embodiment of the creators of the old Confederacy.  Those Legislators in 1860 were willing to destroy the Union of States for the most despicable of reasons. The goal was to create a Government that would guarantee their wealth and power by protecting the institution of slavery.  If it took the dissolution of the Union, then so be it!

In a similar fashion the current Republican Party, beginning with President Reagan, tapped into the racism of the southern states over the fight for civil rights to build a Party supported by some of the worst elements of our society.  Using tax cuts Reagan proved to his moneyed backers that their money was well placed.  It is a specific tool the Party uses to maintain power.  The aim is to weaken the Federal Government so it cannot oversee and regulate the harms the Capitalist side of our nature can produce.  Less income means a weaker Government.  The Party has chosen our own Government as the enemy they will save us all from with the miracle of unfettered Capitalism.

Grover Norquist head of Americans for Tax Reform promoted his ‘No Tax Pledge’ getting many Republican Legislators to sign on.  He described the goal by saying this,” I don’t want to abolish government.  I just want to shrink it down to a size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

Every Republican President has followed this plan.  Huge tax cuts for the wealthy and large businesses while shifting the cost of government to the poor and middle class thereby weakening the Federal Government even further.  We went from one worker supporting a family of 4 to 2 workers with one having 2 jobs and barely getting by.

Evidence of this to the extreme is everywhere in the Trump Administration.  He has gutted the State Department and failed to make competent appointments to vital positions and filled the Justice Department and other departments with his yes men much to the detriment of the country. The effort to privatize the Post Office is another example.  Recently, after originally denying the danger of the ongoing pandemic, he said the Federal Government had no role in the response to the crisis.  He then told the State Governors that, they were on their own!  Some even set up border crossings to turn back travelers!

This is as close to the dissolution of the Union as we have gotten since the Civil War. The Party of Lincoln has turned 180 degrees into a band of modern Confederates willing to dissolve the Union to maintain their wealth and power.

Crisis brings change.  WWII brought us the vibrant middle class which has been under attack since Reagan.  Hopefully when we get on the other side of the current crisis we will come to our senses and realize that the ideal is a beneficial compromise of capitalist and socialist policies that benefit and create a bright future for all our citizens.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment