We Didn’t Know

the good life

If, like us, you don’t watch much television and, therefore, effectively shield yourself from the indignities of all the marketing/messaging/propaganda used to sell products and “lifestyles,” when you come face-to-face with the fire-breathing beast, your ignorance of Basic Ideas might take your breath away.

It did ours. We were forced from our hermetically sealed cave not long ago in search of a small piece of hardware for an art project. While wandering through the Avenues of Commerce, we “watched” a little TV during a short wait for expert assistance. Seldom have we felt so stupid.

Like, we didn’t know that the surest way to earn a woman’s adoration, devotion, and abiding love – the kind of love that can be communicated with one radiant smile – is to present her with a sparkly pebble.

We didn’t know that the most comprehensive health crisis – pandemic levels, it seems — facing . . . → Read More: We Didn’t Know

When Credibility Is More Important Than Justice

upholding the law

In a story headlined “Pot’s popularity, state law create trying times for U.S. prosecutor,” a Los Angeles Times reporter named Joe Mozingo attempted a sympathetic profile of a United States attorney who works closely with DEA agents to imprison Americans for possessing or selling cannabis, even when those Americans are obeying state law. How tricky, how challenging! Especially when the prosecutor, Julie Shemitz, 57, admits that she personally has no grievance with the plant or people who enjoy it.

Indeed, she claims she wouldn’t care if Congress made it legal.

Then why does she ruin the lives of people who she understands are no threat to society? According to the newspaper, so the Justice Department can “remain credible.”

A Justice Department that prosecutes immoral laws has no credibility. Yet, so long as there are credulous writers like Mozingo and rationalizing dupes like Julie Shemitz willing to do . . . → Read More: When Credibility Is More Important Than Justice

What Has 2014 Wrought?

colorado-weed map

There once was a magic crystal ball that “fell” to Times Square on the stroke of Midnight. When the magic ball dropped, 2013 changed into 2014. And suddenly everything was different.

Well, not everything. Orwellian doublespeak was still flourishing. Time Warner was still telling their customers that an impending 18% price increase was in fact a new and, in their words, “great” promotional rate extended to their most valued patrons. Auntie Dianne Feinstein, she of the oxymoronically named Senate Intelligence Committee, was still insisting that Edward Snowden was a traitor, not an American hero, even though a federal judge had found that the secret government surveillance programs he exposed (the ones Auntie Dianne and her legislative cabal secretly authorized) were illegal, and even though the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Guardian were calling on the Obama administration to offer clemency to Snowden in . . . → Read More: What Has 2014 Wrought?

Reefer Gladness in the NFL

NFL Drug Policy

Great timing! The first weekend of NFL football regular season play – and it really is so darn playful the way those boys run around – begins today.

So we couldn’t be more delighted that the National Football League has asked us to help explain why their players – please don’t call them “warriors”; that would demean our heroic mercenaries in the armed forces – should be forbidden from enjoying marijuana. The league is refining its Drug Policy, and they supposedly want some “other points of view,” especially if discussing the NFL’s Drug Policy will distract attention from their brain injury scandal.

Apparently the assistant of someone’s assistant did a Web search and figured out we’d written a thoughtful book on all things weed-related. But apparently they didn’t actually read that book, because here we are, pleasantly buzzed, consulting for an organization, the NFL, . . . → Read More: Reefer Gladness in the NFL

Living Large

obese americans

Prior to the dynasty of Bush the Younger, my chief embarrassment about being an American abroad wasn’t that we were a nation of belligerent, imperialist, arrogant bullies. It was that we were fatties. Among the French and Finnish, Dutch and Danish, American tourists were easy to identify, whether or not they wore fanny packs. The Americans, candid locals confessed, were usually the ones with their belly hanging over their waistband and flabby flaps of flab flapping on the back of their arms.

“Why are Americans so fat?” I would be asked. “Does everyone there eat too much?”

The short answer was (and is): yes.

It wasn’t until much later, after many trips to countries that organized their affairs differently than we do in America, that I recognized the direct connection between our cultural imperative to over-consume and our position in the world as Fatty-in-Chief. When . . . → Read More: Living Large

Perverse Priorities

oaksterdam

Sometimes our chaotic, unknowable, seemingly random Universe arranges itself with perfect symmetry. In these moments of bracing clarity, authored by a Creator (in whatever guise or nomenclature you prefer) whose sense of irony is matched only by her/his/its sense of wicked humor, our innate foolishness and learned stubbornness are robbed of their pretensions. We see what we have wrought – and then pretend we didn’t, because, despite our professed wish for “change you can believe in,” change is the process we’re most unwilling to endure.

Last week provided several of those The Way It Is moments, with several illuminating events happening almost simultaneously, twinned like opposite sides of a coin, as though the worm-hole theories of modern physicists were getting an earthbound demonstration. Our chief prophet of change you can believe in, President Obama, who seems intent on being as big of a disappointment to as . . . → Read More: Perverse Priorities

Our Drug Problem

legal-drugs

We’ve been told to “just say no” to drugs. We’ve been warned. We’ve been prosecuted and imprisoned and rehabilitated. We’ve been cajoled and counseled and criticized. Yet we haven’t been convinced. At least not enough to change our deadly ways.

We’re a nation of drug addicts. And our addictions are killing us.

In the first decade of the millennium, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, for the first time in recorded history more Americans died from drug-related complications than automobiles. Drugs have overtaken everything else as the leading cause of accidental death.

This is a stunning development in light of the tens of billions of dollars we’ve devoted to our failed “War on Drugs.” From a return-on-investment standpoint one would expect at least a nominal lessening of the drug scourge, a dip in the line graph. Instead, the . . . → Read More: Our Drug Problem

A Lost War

drug-war-peace

On June 17, 1971, President Nixon told Congress that “if we cannot destroy the drug menace in America, then it will surely destroy us.” And thus was the war on drugs commenced.

This week marks the 40th anniversary of another failed American war effort. The numbers, courtesy of the folks behind the next California “legalize it” Proposition, are staggering.

“We’ve spent more than $1 trillion on this war. And what do we have to show for it? Right now, 2.3 million Americans are sitting in prison, while over 7.2 million people are currently part of the criminal justice system as a result of being on probation or parole — a full 1 in every 32 adults. Because of the failed drug war, America now imprisons more people than any other nation on earth.”

Trying to arrest ourselves into submission hasn’t cut drug use. We’ve only created . . . → Read More: A Lost War

Our Environment: Another Drug War Casualty

growroom1_sm

Our failed War on Drugs has cost us vast treasure, ruined the lives of harmless citizens, and fueled a growing empire of violent crime. To continue with this national folly would be stupid at best and catastophic at worst. It’s time to legalize marijuana, treating it as we do tobacco, alcohol, caffiene, and other widely desired drugs. Doing so will also be good for our environment.

Because of prohibition — throughout a 5,000 year legacy of cannabis use among civilizations around the globe, the first century weed was made illegal was the 20th — what was once natural and open is now furtive and shrouded. Plants that belong outdoors, soaking up the sun and growing like, well, weeds, are now consigned to indoor “grow rooms,” where 1,000-watt lamps irradiate genetically stabilized clones rooted in nitrogen-rich fertilizer. The enromous quantity of energy consumed and waste prodcuts produced . . . → Read More: Our Environment: Another Drug War Casualty

How Propaganda Transforms Young Minds

propagandafiles

If we can put aside millennial-old inquiries into the nature of Truth, assuming such a thing exists, we can agree that propaganda, which is less concerned with veracity than with delivering a particular message, is a kind of prevarication. A lie. A tendentious assertion that’s antithetical to our notion of Truth.

I was reminded of this uncomfortable tension when my family informed me that my nephew and nieces, ages 8-10, were being inculcated at school with a “zero tolerance” policy toward drugs. The children, I was told, were alarmed to learn that their Uncle Mike, who has written an honest book about marijuana, was, according to what they were being taught in public school, breaking the law and ruining his brain.

Their parents warned that when I next saw the kids they would have many questions and would want explanations.

My answers, however, couldn’t contradict the . . . → Read More: How Propaganda Transforms Young Minds