Perverse Priorities

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 many of his former supporters as possible, played an alarmingly large role.

In Oakland, California, a man armed with a legally procured gun took his weapon to a small Christian college campus and started shooting people. He killed seven unlucky victims before being apprehended.

On the same day in Oakland, less than two hours later, just a few miles away, the federal government, in the form of agents from the IRS and DEA, trampling on the voter-approved laws of California, raided the apartment, dispensary and trade-school of one of America’s highest profile medical marijuana activists, Richard Lee. He was the paraplegic former Republican behind Proposition 19, a living refutation to all the invidious stoner stereotypes propagandists use to scare uninformed citizens. Candidate Obama, you may recall, promised not to prosecute medical marijuana users who comply with state law, and his Deputy Attorney General David Ogden reiterated that unambiguous position in a 2009 memo credited with sparking California’s “green rush” of pot-related businesses. Lee is the latest and most blatantly obvious victim of the Justice Department’s intimidation tactics, in which individuals are targeted for their political speech. Since the Ogden Memo, nearly 200 marijuana-related operations, many of them dispensaries that serve medical patients, have been raided, and more than 300 landlords of dispensaries have been sent letters threatening them with seizure and prosecution.

On the very same day as the Oakland events, President Obama was hosting a summit with leaders from Canada and Mexico. President Calderon expressed his concern over the unthinkable violence – the equivalent of a gunman shooting up a Christian college on a daily basis — that occurs when his rich neighbor to the north offers a combination of loose money, an insatiable appetite for mood altering substances, and fatally porous gun laws. Might legalization be the answer? President Obama has already declared that idea not open to discussion. The War on Drugs marches on.strip search

That was one day in Oakland. A few days later, the administration announced that several terrorism suspects would soon be tried – at Guantanamo Bay. The place that candidate Obama promised to close. The War on Terror marches on.

Our same President Obama, he of the dangerously progressive bent that real Americans hate, spent some of last month on a cross-country “energy tour,” in which he adopted the formerly Republican stance of “all of the above” when it comes to feeding our appetite for energy. “All,” of course means fossil fuels, and that’s convenient since Obama pledged to expedite the southern leg of the controversial (to lefties) Keystone XL tar sand pipeline. The President is intelligent enough to know that our gasoline prices are actually too low and should be taxed more aggressively to discourage consumption, not encourage it. He understand that you can’t be pro-environment and pro-pipeline — not if you want to look your grandchildren in the eye. But his priority isn’t to make America an altogether healthier and better place; it’s to get re-elected.

Meanwhile, our Supreme Court justices taught us in Florence vs. Board of Chosen Freeholders of Burlington County, that strip-searching jail inmates is always permissible, even if those inmates are being held in jail for traffic violations. The War on Crime marches on.

Meanwhile, the General Services Administration chief, Martha Johnson, the person whose responsibility it is to be a steward of the public’s money, resigned her post after it was revealed that her GSA gang partied in Vegas at taxpayer expense. The boondoggles recalled the recent revelation that Eric Holder’s Justice Department, the same one that is on a mission to prosecute state law-abiding cannabis users, spent $32 per-person on Cracker Jacks and $600,000 on event planners, none of whom, one assumes were instrumental in planning the raid on Richard Lee’s Oaksterdam complex.

And amid the shooting and arresting and pilfering and prevaricating, we’re still fighting over how much (or little) of our national treasure we should spend on education.

If Mr. Darwin was right about the whole evolution thingie, let’s hope it doesn’t take our species as long as the insects and the birds and the fish. Because we’ve got to get our priorities straight. And fast. Before it’s too late.

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