Hoping For The Best

The leftover taco meat was heating up in the microwave and the fixin’s were all ready when, ‘Ding Dong’, the doorbell rang. I dropped what I was doing and answered the door to find two men from the local ‘Bible Church’ who proceeded to engage me regarding their religious beliefs.

We had a lively discussion in which I informed them that I was a ‘Humanist’, for want of a title, and was not a ‘believer’ like them. I said that I think, as the ancient Greeks did, that although we have a soul, it dies along with the body.  I think that one should treat others as one would like to be treated and live a good life.  That is the most one can do.  The older of the two gentlemen kept saying, “But what if you are wrong?”  I replied that if I am wrong, at least I would go to my grave having stuck to what I think.  He informed me that he knows what happens after we die and was positive about it.  I disagreed and we parted congenially, and they left.

While eating those again reheated tacos, I realized that a small part of me was a tiny bit insulted. Two strangers came to my door and proceeded to tell me that they know what happens after we die and that what I think was wrong and it was too bad I would not get to their version of heaven.

It reminded me of what the character Lazarus Long says about religion in Robert Heinlein’s book, ‘Time Enough for Love’. “History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis.  Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to face the unknown without help.  But like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure fiddling with it.”

Maybe I should be a little insulted? How shallow would I be to turn my back on my life long thoughts on the matter on the word of a stranger who purports to know otherwise?  I have always thought religion was a scam.  “Oh, I’ll take that sacrifice and make sure the God gets it!”

Morality and decency come not from what we believe but from our need to live together in peace and brotherhood. Despite the wish of humans to know what becomes of us when we die, we can only know the here and now.

So, live a decent and moral life treating others as you would like to be treated. Cross your fingers and hope for the best!

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Hemming and Hawing Over Cannabis Legalization

Last year there was a significant push to pass a medical cannabis bill thru the Republican controlled Legislature in Kentucky. The bill was successfully stopped by some prominent Republican legislators.  Shortly afterwards one of these legislators, a leader of the group, received an award of appreciation from the Alcohol Industry for his support.

We should not be surprised at this as it is the core reason Republican controlled legislatures across the country hem and haw and do their best to slow and if possible, stop cannabis legalization.

Alcohol use drops by 7% in easy access legal states and it is not just the Alcohol Industry. The Pharmaceutical Industry also has a stake in keeping cannabis illegal.  Many patients who switch to cannabis give up their medicines finding then no longer necessary.  Veterans, for example, who stop following the VA regimen for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and switch to cannabis, give up an average of 8 pills when they do.

When viewed in this light, it is easy to see why legislators, who are financially supported by these industries, are reluctant to pass any bills legalizing the use of cannabis.

Here in Michigan we see the Republican controlled legislature doing just that with the minimum wage ballot initiative, passing a bill to nullify the ballot initiative before the election.  If the Legislature can pass a bill before the election and keep recreational legalization off the ballot they can bring legalization to a crawl as they have done with medical cannabis legalization over the last ten years.

Should Republican legislators manage to stall legalization with their plan, Industry Appreciation Awards will be appearing on the shelves of a Legislators bookcase near you!

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Lying Eyes

President Donald Trump in a speech at the VFW, said this,”Just remember, what you are seeing and reading is not what’s happening.”
Forget that these instructions are similar to the instructions given by the Party in the classic novel 1984.  Donald is pulling the old. ‘Lying Eyes’ joke on us!

You know. A guy is caught by his wife in a hotel room with his mistress.  The wife is understandably upset and when she questions her husband he replies, “Who ya gonna believe? Me, or your lying eyes?”

I don’t know about you but this Veteran believes what he sees and reads and looks even closer when told not to.

Donald has told the American people not to believe their lying eyes. Maybe it’s time for Divorce Court!

 

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Nail In The Coffin

This fall Michiganders have the opportunity to put another nail in the coffin of marijuana prohibition. Despite all the hubbub and hollering, the fact remains that marijuana is a very safe drug and was declared so in 1988 by the Administrative Law Judge for the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Honorable Francis Young when he ruled that marijuana was, “the safest therapeutic substance known to man.”  Of course the DEA immediately got that ruling overturned and prohibition continued unfettered.

What we are actually voting for is to end is the use of marijuana prohibition, at least at the state level, as a tool of repression and suppression particularly for racist and political reasons. It should be no surprise that citizens of color are arrested for marijuana offenses 6 times more often than white citizens.

Marijuana prohibition was from the very beginning used this way. California made marijuana illegal in the early thirties as a way to push Mexicans back across the border because they were taking ‘American jobs’.  Sound familiar?  By 1937 it went national with the 1937 Tax Stamp Act which was declared unconstitutional in 1969, thank you Dr. Timothy Leary.

The law that replaced it was the 1970 Controlled Substances Act which was hijacked by the Nixon Administration as a tool to harass Nixon’s political enemies. This law scheduled drugs by their danger and use and the worst were called schedule one, dangerous and having no medical value.  The only drugs made schedule one at this time were heroin, marijuana and LSD.  This is curious because heroin derived from opium is the same as morphine derived from opium and yet morphine is schedule 2 and able to be prescribed by a doctor.  Marijuana had 30 or so medicines approved as effective and safe by the Food and Drug Administration before it was made illegal in 1937.   LSD was beginning to be studied as a tool in mental health cases.  So why these three?

These three because Nixon needed them to be illegal for his own purposes. Now you may say, “This is sounding like a crazy conspiracy theory”, except that, it is true!

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 Mr. Dan Baum recalls an interview with President Nixon aide John Ehrlichman. Mr. 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 anti-war 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.”

Around this time Nixon had appointed the Shafer Commission to report on the drug situation and to make recommendations. Its overall recommendation was that drugs were a medical problem and not a criminal one.  Nixon felt betrayed by the commission and proceeded to prosecute the prohibitionist policy we have today, besides he had other uses for the ‘War on Drugs’ not the least of which was harassing his political enemies.

The resulting death, destruction and misery caused by this decision cannot be calculated. Over almost 50 years of a war created solely for the benefit of one man and one party with arrest and incarceration of hundreds of thousands of our citizens every year.  The last 15 years have seen more than 600,000 arrests every year.  Our jails are overflowing with the enemies of the President even decades after Nixon, who gave us this disaster is dead!

Let us be clear. What we will be ending this fall is the use of marijuana prohibition as a tool of political and cultural suppression and repression.  Its end cannot come soon enough, here, and hopefully in the near future, across the nation.

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Modern Confederates

Michigan State Senator Rick Jones’ call for an Article 5 US Constitutional Convention is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Forcing the Federal Government to a balanced budget actually plays into the hands of those who would like to shrink the Federal Government until it can be, as Grover Norquist said and many Republicans have signed on to, “Down to a size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”  This idea of a balanced budget amendment will not only cripple our Government but will impact poor and middle class families with devastating results.

Imagine if we had one now. After giving 1.2 trillion dollars away to their benefactors and donors Republicans will cry, we must balance the budget and will use Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to do so, bleeding these programs dry and hurting our citizens like never before.  You can forget that stuff about balancing the budget like most American families do every month around the kitchen table.  That doesn’t happen as most of us carry debt over to the next month all the time just as the Federal Government does.  This call for a balanced budget amendment is a ploy to destroy the Federal Government and with it the Union!

A Constitutional Convention would not be limited to just the budget or term limits. The entire Constitution would be open to change. Voting rights, free speech, citizenship, gun rights, all of it could be changed during a convention.  Pack the Convention with your backers and all bets are off.

This call for a Constitutional Convention for term limits and a balanced budget is another Republican attack on our Government and is as despicable and dangerous as the Confederate attack on the Union was. Sadly the Republican Party has morphed into the modern version of the Confederate States, bent on destroying the Union.  They must be stopped just as the Confederate rebellion was.

 

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The Crystal Belly

President Trump has said on numerous occasions, when meeting with our adversaries, that he ‘believes’ he will be able to ‘feel’ if the leader he is meeting with is serious or not. The President said he doesn’t need to prepare, that he will know their intentions by the feeling in his stomach.

I don’t know about you but my gut tells me as many wrong things as right and is as reliable as flipping a coin. Trump lies pathologically to us and to himself.  Are we to leave our fate to the rumbling acid reflux of the Trump belly?

His belly has created a riff in our relations with our allies. It has moved us closer to autocrats and dictators and it has him praising those who poison and murder to stay in power

When will the serious damage his abdomen has done to our country and it’s institutions finally make Americans cry enough is enough and push back against the madness of the would be first dictator of the United States?

Trump may score a small win in Korea but at what cost? Our reputation as a reliable partner in the free world has been trashed. Mr. trump has gone out of his way to cozy up to Putin despite the attack on our country and our election.  What in Trumps gut allows for his ignoring of this attack? Is it fear? Exactly what does the Russian president have on Mr. Trump?

I wish America would stop ‘believing’ and ‘feeling’ get back to policies based on fact and not based on the gaseous bag of guts rumbling around in Trumps belly.

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Get About Fixing It!

Kentucky’s teachers are protesting at the Capitol not just for better wages but for the very lives of our children. The better prepared and educated they are the greater the benefit to our cities, our counties, our state and our country.

The money these teachers seek is available in a new revenue stream just waiting for us to hook up a hose and start sucking those dollars in!   I am speaking of the cannabis industry.

States that have established a robust and well- regulated cannabis industry are enjoying a remarkable amount of economic activity as a result. Colorado which has a population of 5.5 million, has, for 2016 seen revenue of 150 million on sales of 1.3 billion dollars. Most of the revenue is dedicated to the schools!  They, as well as California with 20 years of medical legalization, have yet to experience any of the harms prohibitionists have been shouting about for 80 years.

One wonders why the Assembly will not allow the cannabis industry to move forward. Twenty-nine states and DC, the capitol, have legal cannabis industries and they are doing just fine, thank you! There is no reason to think we would have any problems here in Kentucky.

All the Assembly members are doing is depriving the State of a new and safe revenue stream. There is also this.  Several studies have shown a significant drop in opioid overdose deaths in legal states.  Simply put, if cannabis is available to the citizens, less people die as people choose the safer drug.  It’s as simple as that!

SB80, the Senate cannabis bill, is in the Veterans committee. Despite Legislators claim that, “our Veterans deserve all we can do for them”, this bill is not being allowed to move forward.

Something is certainly off in the moral compass of the Assembly that they would prefer to allow the deaths and suffering of our citizens and a lower quality of education for our children rather than admit that prohibition was a mistake from the very beginning and should have never happened in the first place. The members of the Assembly should finally admit that and get about fixing it.  Senate Bill 80 is a good place to start!

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