Monthly Archives: October 2007

Gutsy Stance On The War On Drugs

Ok, maybe not all that gutsy, since he IS mayor of San Francisco, after all, but I’m glad he said it and I’m glad he called out The Democratic Party for not speaking more openly about this expensive and dangerous war on drugs.

I have more than a little experience on both sides of this issue. I think anyone that does will tell you in a hot minute that lumping Marijuana in with other recreational drugs like Cocaine and Heroin is just plain stupid. I realize that there are problems associated with out-right legalization of drugs, all one has to do is look at the rampant alcohol abuse in our society to see that the prohibition to legalization approach may need some transitional strategies applied. But again, alcohol, for the most part, affects users way differently than pot. Its probably cliche’ to say that “I’ve never encountered a violent stoner”, but it is also probably true. My Mom used to say cliche’s become cliche’s for a reason.

The statistics cited in the article are frightening. 60-75 percent of people locked up are there for minor drug offenses? I wonder how many are there for mere possession of pot? Weeding them out (pun intended) seems to me to be a no brainer.

I’m of the opinion that law enforcement is against this because any approach other than punitive will take away precious dollars from their budgets. The war on drugs is a huge law enforcement cash cow. Police departments are addicted to the cash as much as dealers, so the stakes are quite high indeed.

If I had more time today, I’d like to see what happened to Oregon State prisons after that State decriminalized it long ago.

Anyway, I wish there was more realistic conversations about this taking place.

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Easy Liberalism?

To me, Liberalism is like homosexuality. I cannot recall ever choosing to be one. (Liberal, that is) Truly, I don’t think most Liberals ever consciously made that choice. When complex issues of the day get reduced to red/blue, I think most of us rely on what feels right. Lets not confuse this with “what feels good.” Anyway, this post isn’t really about Liberal vs Conservative, because I really think those two paths intersect quite frequently, and I am trying to eschew labels all I can.

I am currently taking inventory on what it is I spend time and attention with that occurs outside of my home. People that know me will tell you that I am of course involved with Democratic Party politics, and that I have advocated on behalf of undocumented workers, Gay/Lesbian rights, worker’s rights, and to a much smaller degree, environmental protection. The first three of those strike me as basic human rights issues, and I will never waiver in my positions on them. I believe that I have a great deal to learn about what I and my family can do WRT the environment. Its daunting. I will say that since we are attempting this together, it has been fun doing this as a family.

If I say then, that basic human rights is the foundation for the bulk of my positions on any given issue, why have I been so lax about certain issues where basic human rights violations are part and parcel? The death penalty comes to mind. Access to affordable health care. Unfair application of the criminal justice system. I’m sure there are others. Even trade, which is about as boring to me as opera, is rife with some of the worst human rights violations in recent history.

What to do? Like I said, I frequently take inventory. Until recently, I owned two gas-guzzling 4 wheel drive vehicles, one of which I loved like a pet. I was determined to change my driving habits, and my consumption of fossil fuels, so I sold them both, and replaced them with vehicles that will do the job and use far less gasoline. Check.

I shop at Walmart. There, I said it. I gave myself a pass on this because I am a busy person, and everything I needed was under one big ugly roof. I even used to say to myself, “Thank God for WalMart, where else would some of these people work?” I mean, how ugly is that? But I know I’ve said it, if not out loud, at least to myself, and I’m not proud of it. I think it was easier to justify when my kids were small, and toys and bikes and diapers and groceries were all there in one convenient location. For the most part, we’ve stopped buying useless widgets we don’t need, and likewise we have altered our food buying habits by learning to cook more, with less. Eventually, we hope to raise our own meat, and at least supplement what we buy with what we grow. Even if we don’t succeed at this, I just can’t in good conscience continue to hand them my money. I do not intend to judge others that do shop there, but once I became aware of certain things, and seen the damage WalMart does to communities, I just cannot personally contribute to it. Check.

Now I’m tired. Maybe its my age. It takes energy to remain outraged for extended periods of time. Then I get pissed at other people for not sharing my outrage, and get all outraged again, then I get tired, and the cycle repeats all over.

But I think that after I conduct my inventory, I should at the very least prioritize my advocacy. A friend of mine has recently called my attention to an inmate sitting on Death Row that she feels shouldn’t be there. I will read up on it, and if I agree with her I’ll help her launch her petition, because she asked, and it feels right to do it. A man’s life is at stake, it seems worth the ten minutes of my life to read about it.

Really, y’all, I’m not sure what prompted this post, other than the fact that I hate it when Liberalism gets reduced to “doing what feels good” and nothing else. I have to tell ya, it would feel a hell of a lot better to just drive my damn truck, throw my Whopper wrappers out of the window in the WalMart parking lot, and then go in and buy my kids Halo 3.

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Grieving

She’s gone. She has been a part of my life for over 5 years, a rock steady companion that never once let me down. I loved her from the minute we met, there was that immediate bonding that takes place between owner and truck. I actually took 200 dollars less for her than I would have if she had been bought by somebody here. I don’t want to see someone else riding in her. I’m going back to bed, this is too hard….left-truck-1.JPG

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Before Beale Writes This

Triple digit oil prices.  Record number of futures bought that guarantee the 100 dollar a barrel price.  Instability in the Middle East, Mexico producing a million less barrels a day than this time last year. 

Personally, I find those facts alarming.  This country is NOT AT ALL prepared to deal with 5-6 dollar a gallon gasoline.  When it comes, and it will, prices go up on virtually everything.  Again, personally, I think this might be a good thing.  Food prices concern me, but perhaps a shift will occur and more farmers can market their products close to home.

Here’s what really scares the holy hell out of me.  So far, in just a few months, I have read statements from at least three local bloggers that they have no problem with the U.S. waging war for oil.   Well, the fastest growing economies right now are China and India, and that is naturally where the biggest demand for oil comes from.  Is it O.K. for them to be making war plans to insure they have a steady supply of affordable oil?  What about Russia?  Logic tells me a dwindling supply means that at some point, large countries with large armies and nuclear weapons will be waging war for their very survival.  Nothing about that is comforting.

Call me old school, but I believe that the only possible reason to go to war is to respond to a direct attack by an invading army.  That doesn’t mean that a country shouldn’t contribute to say…an effort to stop genocide somewhere, or as global peace-keepers when there is a potential for it, but protecting an economy by waging war is against every belief I have.

So, this makes me curious.  Apparently, the stuff inside our cell phone batteries is mined in Africa.  Africa produces more than 60 metal and mineral products and is a major producer of several of the world’s most important minerals and metals including Gold, PGE’s, Diamonds, Uranium, Manganese, Chromium, Nickel, Bauxite and Cobalt. It is interesting to note that Africa’s contribution to the world’s major metals (copper, lead and zinc) is less than 7%. As a result silver production is low (less than 3% of the world’s production) due to the fact that most silver is produced as a by product of lead – zinc and copper mining. Although under explored, Africa hosts about 30% of the planet’s mineral reserves, including 40% of gold, 60% cobalt and 90% of the world’s PGM reserves – making it a truly strategic producer of these precious metals.

Lets say that China and India and Russia all cut better deals with the Africans, (as much as you can in an area chock full of civil war) than we do, and suddenly, we are paying far more for some of those exports if we can get them at all.  This, too, could  catastrophically affect our economy…  Does the same rationale apply?

I guess I’m asking this:  What part of your daily existence would you pay much more for, or give up, if it meant we didn’t wage war somewhere on the planet?

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