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Posted by on Jul 19, 2017 in Blog, Essays | 3 comments

What’s the Greatest Photograph Ever Taken?

 

 

This will be an unusual column.

For one thing, it’s interactive.

Second, there are no right or wrong answers.

Finally, your opinion matters.  Well, maybe.  Your opinion matters if you give this topic some serious thought and you craft your explanation wisely.  Here it goes….

I have no actual data on this, but it’s probably accurate to guess at least a hundred billion, perhaps even a trillion photographs have been taken since the first camera was invented about 170 years ago.  That’s a lot of photographs.

So, given the broad history of modern civilization, so widely documented with the camera by some truly remarkable people who have put themselves in danger in order to capture an image, my question is this:  What is the single greatest photograph ever taken?  More to the point — why?

For me, this is an easy answer.  I came to this realization earlier tonight while accidentally stumbling upon the well-known image, and really for the first time, recognizing its awesomeness.  Later on, I’ll share this revelation with you.  But for now, I won’t spoil the fun of speculation for those who want to engage in the discussion and perhaps even debate with others.  In fact, if someone posts a compelling enough image and argument, then (perhaps) I could be persuaded to change my mind.  I think we all want to enter this exercise with an open mind.  So, please try and draft your reasoning wisely.

The task is simple, should you chose to accept this challenge.  Google search the one photo you believe to be the greatest ever in history and then post it.  “Greatest” could also mean most shocking, most meaningful, the bravest, or perhaps even the most beautiful.  That’s entirely up to you.  The photo you chose can be of any subject.

Please visit Facebook [EASY TO DO — CLICK HERE] and post your selection.  So that others might also enjoy the discussion, your photo must also be accompanied by a paragraph or two, explaining your reasoning.

In a follow-up article sometime in the near future, I’ll cut and paste the TEN best photos and write ups.  I’ll get the final say, but also might call upon some professional photographers to offer their assessment.  Some friends I am considering calling upon would include — Neil Stoddart, Joe Giron, Jayne Furman, Erick Harkins, and David Plastik.  Let’s see how this goes.  I might even add a prize if this topic gains some steam.

And so now, let the debate begin about the greatest photograph of all time.

 

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Posted by on Jul 17, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Facing the Firing Squad, Las Vegas | 0 comments

Steven J. Horner: Rebel With a Cause

 

 

MEET STEVEN J. HORNER

“All politics is local,” is a common truism meaning that what we do with our lives within our local communities often produces the most tangible results.

Steven Horner, a retiree living in Las Vegas, best personifies this spirit of local politics.  He’s busier than most people half his age, often tirelessly putting in 60 to 70 hours per week on any of his pet projects and political activities.  He’s a champion of public education, always his favorite topic to discuss.  Any day or any night, Horner is likely to be seen participating in a public march, organizing a meeting, volunteering on a project, or directly lobbying an elected official.  Horner is a 27/7/365 activist who lives, breaths, and preaches his philosophy of life — which is justice and opportunity for all.

I first met Horner at a local political meeting right after the 2016 presidential election.  Stunned by the electoral disaster, Horner was quick to launch into action.  Always prepared to act and not just whine and complain, he began organizing yet another generation of activists eager to engage in a new battle and channel a wayward shock of political defeat into something constructive and meaningful.

Horner is the chairman of a local Democratic Party organization, a responsibility which only scratches the surface of a weekly routine which includes ceaseless political activities.  He attends local public hearings, where he often speaks about important issues.  He travels to the state capital (at his own expense) to meet with legislators.  He works with volunteers and other activists determined to fight for common values.

Whatever your politics, one has to genuinely admire Horner’s intense personal commitment and boundless energy.

Steven J. Horner was born on July 17th, 1951 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He was the first of four children born to Jack and Ruthanne Horner.  When he was young, the Horner family moved and he grew up in McGill, Nevada — a small mining town run by Kennecott Copper Corporation.

Later, Horner attended a boarding school in Mt. Pleasant, Utah — Wasatch Academy.  This experience was “one of the truest influences in my life,” he says.  Indeed, this strict educational indoctrination at a church school triggered the first of many impulses over a lifetime to #resist.  Horner’s revolutionary spirit first sprouted during a time of sweeping political and social change across America.  Horner’s questioning of the establishment resulted in expulsion from school during his junior year.  He questioned the rules set forth by the governing church, which was not a popular thing to do in Utah at the time.  Horner was branded as a troublemaker — a label he would eventually come to embrace as someone not willing to sit by idly in the face of ignorance and unfairness.

Horner did not graduate until later in life, a shocking revelation given his intense devotion to public education and broad knowledge of so many different subjects.  Horner later moved to Silver City, New Mexico, where he met his wife while working at a semi-professional theatre.

In 1971, Horner moved to Las Vegas.  “I did many little jobs, drove a truck, worked as a bartender, and a cook,” he says.  Shawn, his first child was born a year later.  Later, he had a second child, aptly named Hope.

Many who know Horner now might be taken back by his decision to enlist in the U.S. Army in 1973 — just as the Vietnam War was coming to an end.  He served and was even stationed in Italy for a time.  Despite a growing family and active military service, there was still a deep void in Horner’s life.  He knew that he had to go back to school and complete his education.

And so, after years in the Army, Horner returned home to Las Vegas.  In 1979, he began to pursue a B.A. in Theatre Arts.  However, he’d take another personal detour which lasted ten long years.  Behind the scenes, there was a darker cloud overhead which had begun to profoundly impact his daily routine, and not in a good way.

Horner recognized that he’d become an alcoholic.  In fact, the 1980s were something of a blur, until Horner finally woke up one morning convinced he had to make some serious changes in his life.  His sobriety began on June 12, 1990 (Horner still remembers the exact date).  Sober and feeling alive again, he returned to UNLV and completed his BA in 1992.  Three years later, Horner — the rebellious youngster who had once been expelled from a church institution and dropped out of high school and later even college — was awarded an MEd in Special Education.

Horner went on to become a teacher in the Clark County Public Schools where he’s spent the balance of his time teaching and working as an advocate for teachers.  Horner insists he “retired” in 2014, but now remains busier than ever.

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STEVEN J. HORNER FACES THE FIRING SQUAD
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What are some of the things you stand for?

My passions are public education (specifically K-12, but also includes all public education i.e., Headstart and all public colleges) and workers’ rights especially to collective bargaining protection. I also advocate for universal healthcare, public lands, clean and renewable energy.  The exploitation of any minority is something that I do engage in as well, no matter the reason no person should be treated as inferior. Overall, I will stand with people above the churches and corporations that currently seem to control many of our world`s governments.

 

What are some of the things you stand against?

Corporate greed and the destruction of the public education system. Beyond that, the narcissistic attitude that gives some individuals the sense that somehow elitism is acceptable. Money is a necessary evil in our current lives, however I will stand against and will fight the greed that leads to this behavior. To deny any living being the basic needs of life is cruel and undeniably the most reprehensible attitude displayed by anyone. And that I will always stand against this no after what the opposition.

 

What living person do you admire the most, and why?

I hate to be cliché, I have many living heroes for many reasons, but Hank Aaron is the man that I can always look to for inspiration. From 1957 when I listened to game winning home run in a World Series game to the night I watch on TV him hit number 715, he was a man that did with class and no self-bravado.  No matter the death threats, hate mail, rejection by Bowie Kuhen and MLB he went out each day and did the job he was given and always gave it his best effort. I will never know what it is like a to be an African American and that kind of hate, but I do know that when faced with so much hate and so many obstacles here was a man that truly held his head high and rose above it all to just do his job in the Deep South.

 

What historical figure do you admire the most, and why?

Those that died in a cause of helping the working people to have a voice, these individuals were often nameless and lived in poverty. Because those individuals stood their ground and died for their brothers and sisters to have a better life is something I think about every day. I grew up in a mining town and saw the benefits of those that stood up. From the Railroad massacres in the 1800’s to the mining deaths as recent as the last decade, I recognize the worker, not the union boss, as the true hero in the strife for those that work every day to keep food on the table and a roof over the heads of their family.

 

What living person do you despise?

The Donald Trumps of the world — those willing to lie, cheat, and exploit to gain a place of power to further the lying, cheating, and exploitation. Donald Trump is the most visible, but I have seen these people in all places, union leadership, principal of a school, elected officials, any place that there is an illusion of power over other people.

 

If money were not an object, what profession would you choose?

I was and would again be a teacher.  I am sorry I ever left the profession.

 

What is it about yourself that you are most proud of?

My sobriety.

 

What is it about yourself that you’d like to change?

I would like to be a stronger leader, both with my grandchildren and my fellow people — I feel at times like I have failed them.

 

What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?

I can’t think of a specific single event. Every time I advocated for a teacher that was being bullied or exploited I felt excited and as if this was a mission. We didn’t always win but we gave it the best fight and those on the other side knew they had to work hard to gain a victory, but on those occasions we prevailed I felt as if the world had gained a victory.

 

What’s the most unusual time and place you’ve ever visited?

The Presidential Inauguration in 2012. I have never been comfortable in large crowds but to watch a President that I voted for, with my grandson and wife being sworn in was a very unusual albeit exciting time. But not one I would like to repeat.

 

Name a place you’ve never visited where you still want to go.

The Death Camps of Nazi Germany… man’s inhumanity to his fellow beings is something I have a difficult time understanding and I continue to search places that represent that inhumanity. From Little Big Horn to Andersonville, to Japanese internment camp in Twin Falls and Delta, I search for the reason and hope to learn how to bring forward the idea that this can never happen again.

 

Favorite book, favorite movie, and favorite musician.

Favorite (Fiction) book and movie are the same — To Kill a Mockingbird.

Non Fiction is — Das Kapital

Favorite musicians:  Tchaikovsky and Andrew Lloyd Weber

 

What upsets you the most?

Politicians that vote against the will of the people that elect them, then tell the electorate that they just don’t understand.  That kind of arrogance is what makes politics unappealing to the masses.

 

What bores you?

Reality television this is truly the dumbing down of the people, followed closely but self-gratifying people.

 

Do you believe in an afterlife and why do you believe it so?

Okay, metaphysics also bores me.  No, I personally do not believe in the afterlife or a mythical deity.  I do believe that each day if you get up and do your best, someone will remember you and tell someone else of what kind of daily hero you were and through the oral history that memory will be forever.

 

Finally, I understand you have another passion that might strike some as strange given your background.  Why is golf your hobby?

I realize that it is probably the one sport that symbolizes everything I despise, but I find competition a waste of time unless it is against myself. I also find it amazing that a sport that perfection cannot be achieved is something to which I can relate. Each swing is something that I try to repeat but find each is different. It is also a time that I can find some reflection time.  It is the sport of the rich, but sometimes the poor can find solace in the imperfection that is golf.

 

 

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Posted by on Jul 13, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

What Happened the Last Time Conservatives Ruled America?

 

 

There once was a time, not too long ago, when conservatives dominated most of American daily life.

During this memorable period, three consecutive Republican presidents were elected — all by wide margins.  Each of these presidents appointed pro-business cronies to high office who were given positions of power.  Giant companies prospered due to laissez-faire attitudes combined with government’s abdication of responsibilities.  People at the very top got really rich.

By contrast, liberals were widely viewed as political outcasts.  Many of their ideas were classified as either “radical” or much worse — “Socialistic.”  Politically powerless, many American liberals flocked instead to more welcoming professions such as the arts.  Liberals became really good at making movies, wrote the most popular books of the day, and created a new form of popular music known as jazz.

Conservatives were determined to put “America First.”  Back then, conservatives were viewed as nationalists, while liberals were thought of as globalists.  Relations with other nations were widely thought to be inconsequential.  America tore up previous trade agreements and even imposed strict tariffs on imports from foreign countries.  The United States military withdrew from global alliances and abandoned its status as a world power.  After years of international conflict, America stubbornly refused to join a new organization devoted to peaceful diplomacy called the League of Nations.  Way too European.

Sound familiar?

When conservatives ruled over the land, immigration to the United States from other countries was curtailed.  Tough new naturalization laws were imposed which denied entry to most people from other nations.  Immigrants were even subject to a rigid quota system, based on national origin (race and religion).  No one wanted to take refugees from countries in crisis.  In particular, Leftists were singled out and were widely viewed with suspicion.  Despite the rising scourge of Right-wing dictatorships all over the world at the time, the few immigrants who did make it to U.S. shores were asked only about “Communist” sympathies.  Nothing about fascism.

Republicans held onto control of the White House for 12 years.  Republicans also dominated both chambers of Congress, holding more than two-thirds of all seats in the legislature — the highest percentage ever in American history.  Wall Street went absolutely bonkers.  Republicans cut corporate and personal taxes, especially for the super wealthy.  Banking and finance were deregulated.  The stock market soared to record highs.

Ring a bell?

While conservatives may have indeed championed economic freedoms, individual freedoms were widely curtailed.  Alcohol was banned nationwide in the form of a new Constitutional amendment known as Prohibition.  The government’s first “War on Drugs” was openly declared, which made drug possession a serious criminal offense.  Gambling was illegal in every U.S. state, including Nevada.

Inside conservative America, Christianity wasn’t just religion — but was the veritable law of the land.  All communities everywhere were subject to a strict faith-based code of morals and ethics.  Church attendance reached an all-time high.  No coincidence, membership in the Ku Klux Klan also skyrocketed, becoming that largest fraternal organization inside the United States with more than four million active members.  The Klan was so prominent all across America and so politically powerful that white-robed throngs all waving American flags marched down the streets of the nation’s capital, to the cheers of thousands.

The social order in America was as strict as it was clear.  Abortion was illegal everywhere and punishable by imprisonment.  Gay rights didn’t exist.  Blacks and other minorities weren’t merely treated as second-class citizens.  Rather, they were often confronted with violence and even murdered without any repercussion by angry mobs, and sometimes even by law enforcement.  There was no such thing as a “hate crime,” back then.  Minorities were dragged down the streets and hung from trees.  For millions, segregation and discrimination were a way of daily life.  The existing social order imposed mostly by White conservatives also made it far more difficult for minorities to vote in elections.

Remind you of anything?

Public education wasn’t so much a path to enlightenment as an indoctrination of traditional beliefs based on faith.  Creationism, not evolution, was taught in schools — at least until a famous landmark case finally ruled in science’s favor.  Conservatives in many parts of the country continue to fight this ruling, to this very day.  In other words, we’re still entrenched in the attitudes of the past.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the period of American life when conservative ideology dominated the political, economic, and social landscape like no other time was — the 1920’s.

Yes, the Roaring Twenties.

To many, the fond memory of flag-waving patriots following a faith-based moral code is appealing.  To many, the thought of reducing government’s role in our lives and allowing unregulated businesses to profit might seem an intriguing proposition.  To many, the notion of building relationships with other countries just isn’t all that important.  In short, except for far less white sheets and a lot more booze and casinos, the conservative American mindset isn’t that much different today from the way things were nearly a century ago.

However, let’s never forget what happened when the conservatism’s grand illusion all came crashing down.  Recall the instant the light switch flicked on at America’s unprotected financial orgy of unregulated excess and the avaricious saw each other with their clothes off.  Remember what occurred when capitalism was left to its own self-policing devices and the working class was utterly abandoned by the protections of government regulation and proper oversight.

October 29th, 1929 might not jog the memory, because it happened so long ago.  That’s when the Great Depression officially began, which turned our national economy into a dust bowl and ruined millions of lives.  Some historians even claim the global economic collapse fostered the rise of totalitarianism over the next decade, and eventually the start of World War II.  Thanks, conservatives.

For those who may need a refresher course in history — incredibly, unbelievably, inexplicably — all this happened again a decade ago.  Starting in 2001, a proud conservative was elected to the presidency.  This new leader was widely admired as a Christian man, with deep personal faith.  A cornerstone of his economic philosophy included the comprehensive deregulation of banking and finance sectors, resulting in a temporary stock market boom that all came violently crashing down on September 15, 2008.  Just as before, when Republicans were allowed to run most of the show, the entire world ended up in crisis and chaos. [See Footnote]

On both previous occasions (1932 and 2008), progressive new leaders from the Left were elected to office to scrub the shit stains out of the rug left by conservatives.  And they did.  Franklin Roosevelt and his “New Deal” programs (including an overhaul of banking regulations) eventually restored the United States into a stable, even prosperous economy.  Some seven decades later, President Barack Obama inherited just as huge an economic mess and — despite overwhelming opposition from conservatives every step of the way — still somehow managed to lead the American economy to a full recovery, on which the grotesquely-oblivious and historically-ignorant current President now rides coattails like a hopelessly spoiled child craving attention and praise.

Conservatism versus Liberalism isn’t a dull argument for academics.  It’s a debate we all must engage in, here and now, given the stakes are so high and that we’ve been down this familiar path twice before, both times when conservatives dominated the political landscape and crashed the national psyche onto the rocks, abandoned the ship and left us all to sink.

This time, let’s remember our history and try to learn from it.

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Footnote:  On October 19th, 1987 a third economic collapse occurred, when stock markets crashed around the world.  On “Black Monday,” the NYSE dropped 24 percent.  The formula for this disaster was much the same.  A Republican president with traditional values professing to be anti-government and pro-business was well into his second term.  Conservative economic policies — including deregulation of banking and finance as well as massive tax cuts for the wealthy — were adopted.  After a temporary boom period, the end result was disastrous.

 

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Posted by on Jul 3, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Restaurant Reviews | 2 comments

Elia Authentic Greek Taverna — Las Vegas (Restaurant Review)

 

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Elia Authentic Greek Taverna is a new restaurant located on the west side of Las Vegas, just south of the intersection of Flamingo and Durango.

This location has been quite a tough sell for restaurauteurs and local foodies who fancy trying out new and creative ethnic cuisine.  Previously, the sun-bleached strip-mall storefront has been the culinary graveyard of an upscale seafood eatery (closed in 2008) followed by Gino’s Italian Bistro (which closed last year).  For those keeping score, that’s 0-for-2 — even though both prior places were well above-average restaurants that I enjoyed frequently (though apparently not frequently enough).

Elia likely stands a much better chance for success based on a number of reasons.  First, the local economy is far better now, than a decade ago.  Many popular upscale eateries in Las Vegas shuttered their doors following the economic crash of ’08, which now seems like a distant memory with all the mess going on right now.  The surrounding area has changed also, with the most notable new neighbor being Mint Indian Bistro, which moved in directly behind Elia’s.  Using the magnet marketing theory, the very best thing that can happen to restaurant struggling to create a steady clientele is having another creative dining force located right next door.

More belaboring a proven point, if I may.  This area has been utterly flooded by Mediterranean restaurants over the last decade, at least in proportion to the local population, many who probably don’t know the difference between a falafel and kibbeh.  Directly across the street, a nice Persian restaurant closed-down just three months ago.  Half a mile to the north is Zaytoon, my favorite Iranian market-bistro here on the West Side.  Even Putter’s Bar and Grill, a popular neighborhood pub about 200 feet away serves up tasty Lebanese food.  Yeah, I know — Greek food isn’t the same as Lebanese or Persian food, but many Americans likely won’t see much of a difference in the basic ingredients.  This is what makes Elia’s challenge all the more intriguing.

Elia is small, about what one might expect if vacationing on the islands of Kos or Crete.  White tablecloths, perfectly manicured tabletops, and a sparkling clean interior are most welcoming.  So was the house music, played at the perfect decibel level, which are mostly mandolin-heavy Greek instrumentals — a perfect background for table conversation.  Even more welcoming is the friendly ownership and staff, which greets customers instantly.  From the moment we walk in the front door, we are made to feel like their house guests.

What may be the best price-fixed menu in Las Vegas is available until 3 pm daily at Elia, and this made for an easy choice among lots of temptations to choose from.  For $15, a three-course meal with various options is available.  The courses include an appetizer or salad, a main course with potatoes, and a dessert.  All for 15 bucks.  That’s quite a bargain.

This might seem like a small thing, but it’s really a big thing.  It often foretells of the experience to come, and that’s the bread.  Many restaurants opt to go cheap in the bread, serving stale unimaginative dinner rolls or slices of white bread that are little more than caloric time-buyers intended to stave off customers until the main course arrives.  Not Elia.  Their bread was oven fresh, as good as any European bakery in the city.  Pipping hot, laced with flour, crispy, and accompanied by an above-average ramekin of Greek olive oil.  This was a very good sign.

Then, the first of three courses was served.  We began with Keftedakia, which is essentially Greek meatballs (borrowing from the Turkish Kofta).  Four were served on a platter with mint, onion, and parsley.  I could have enjoyed this as a main course — yes, it was that satisfying.  My three-course meal also included a marvelous Greek salad, though not of the standard creation one is typically used to at many Greek-American restaurants.  Mine was made of immaculately chopped rocket lettuce, topped with a perfect seasoning of olive oil, zesty lemon, and mint, accompanied by a delicious block of feta cheese and black olives.  Yummy.

The main course (e.g. the second course) was also satisfying, but not quite up to the glorious standards of both value and quality set forth in the appetizer (and finished with the dessert).  I enjoyed my home-made gyro sandwich, which is pretty standard at all Greek establishments.  To their credit, the meat wasn’t nearly as salty as I’ve tasted elsewhere.  The yogurt sauce wrapped in the pita was delicious.  Elia also serves fresh, hand-cut fries (not frozen) on the side, which merits applause.  Again, this is a very minor critique, and can certainly be overcome by ordering one of many other Greek dishes available at lunch and dinner ( must return and try multiple items — perhaps worthy of a follow up report).  If the bread and appetizer scored a 10, the main dish would scale an 8.  As for the next course, I would give it an “11.”

Dessert was fabulous.  I wolfed down my rice pudding, served in a cold cup, topped off with a generous dazzle of reddish cinnamon.  Marieta enjoyed her fresh yogurt topped with a coulis of three fresh berries — raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.  The rich creamy yogurt, which I’m not typically a fan of, was stunningly delicious.  We fought over the last few bites.  The tart topping of berries was as zestfully delightful as any five-star restaurant.  I would call this simple, yet delicate Greek closer absolute perfection.

Our two three-course meals, with a drink and tip all came to $42 — a steal.  Dinner prices are equally competitive, but are assuredly an even better value given all the alternative mediocre food served elsewhere by run of the mill chains which charge considerably higher prices and then cut on the quality.  Give this place a try.  Skip the stale old Applebee’s or abomination of Friday’s for a night, and live a little.  You’ll be glad you did.

Elia receives my highest possible restaurant rating based on fast and friendly service, a comfortable atmosphere, authenticity, quality, and more than enough menu choices to keep me (and hopefully many readers) returning for more.

ELIA AUTHENTIC GREEK TAVERNA (OFFICIAL WEBSITE)

 

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Posted by on Jun 30, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Personal, Politics | 1 comment

Light My Fire (On Legalizing Marijuana)

 

 

Tonight at midnight, it becomes legal to smoke marijuana in Nevada.

This new law which goes into effect a few hours from now is long overdue, and hopefully a harbinger of things to come in other states.  I believe in the total decriminalization of (outlawed) drugs.

Let’s look at the hard facts.  The “War on Drugs” has been a failure from the start.  We’ve wasted billions of dollars in law enforcement and prosecution at every level.  We’ve blown billions more on incarceration.  We’ve ruined countless lives making non-violent drug violations every bit as harsh as murder and child sex crimes in some states.  We’ve also seen many people killed on both sides of the law because of drugs.

I say the “War on Drugs” has failed because no one can possibly make a convincing case that it’s succeeded.  Despite all the efforts — from law enforcement to education — the majority of Americans have tried illegal drugs at least once.  If that’s not a failure, I don’t know what is.  When hundreds of billions are blown fighting a pointless war with zero tangible results to show for it and still more than half the country ignores the law, what’s the point?

I’ve been asked to attend a few “Light Up” parties tonight here in Las Vegas.  One of my closest friends even wants me to write about his gathering of lucky invitees who will all get to imbibe in a secret stash that’s equivalent of popping the cork on a rare bottle of 1962 Chareau Lafite Rothschild.  Another associate suggested that actually I smoke marijuana for the first time and then document my experience as though I’m some poor man’s Timothy Leary.

Not happening.

Surprising as this news might be to many, I’ve never tried any illegal drug (other than moonshine — does that count?).  I’ve never had any desire to smoke, snort, nor inject.  I have my own reasons for this position, which I’ve conveyed in my past writings.  Nonetheless, this personal opinion about what’s best for me doesn’t preclude me to issue judgments towards others who may have quite a different view.  This is what’s called freedom and individual responsibility.  To each his (or her) own.

I love to drink and make no apologies.  I also know alcohol is a far deadlier vice than marijuana. On this there is no debate.  About 10,000 people die per year because of drunk drivers.  The number of injuries and amount of property damage caused by drinking is considerably higher.  Then, there are the needless brawls at public gatherings, the abusive marital relationships worsened by alcohol, and the general lethargy caused by drinking which probably makes this our most costly social addiction (except perhaps for guns).

So, what happens when we legalize marijuana?  Even for the “let’s legalize drugs” crowd, the results are pretty shocking.

A new study found that the number of traffic deaths declined in states where marijuana was legalized [REUTERS STORY HERE].  Traffic deaths declined!  One can speculate as to the reasons why there’s an apparent contradiction between changing laws and expectation.  Perhaps many users who would otherwise drink to excess are now smoking marijuana instead, which doesn’t necessarily inhibit operating a motor vehicle.  Maybe the worst that happens is the stoners fall asleep at traffic lights.  Maybe they’re too busy waiting at the drive-thru at In-and-Out Burger.  I don’t know.  But the statistics don’t lie.

So, who does lie?  Well, the Attorney General of the United States of America — for one.  Jeff Sessions is now ordering tougher drug sentences for offenders.  That’s right.  President Trump’s point man on criminal justice is taking us back to the bad old days of prohibition.  He’s returning to the failed policies of “Just Say No.”  All research shows this to be not just the wrong approach.  It will also waste more money.  It will clog up the overburdened courts.  It will lock up more people needlessly.  It will break up families.  It will waste money we do not have to waste [READ MORE HERE IN THE ECONOMIST].

We have truly reached the point where society is turned completely upside down.  We have responsible marijuana users who have been proven to cause little or no harm to society, nor to themselves.  We also now have an Administration and a federal government determined to prosecute and punish these people.  It’s madness.

June 30th, at least for one night and for a little while until the heavy hammer comes down, Nevada will join the ranks of progressive states with modern, science and fact-based 21st Century outlooks on drug laws.  Meanwhile, the Trump Administration intends to take us back to the failed drug polices of the past.

This is yet another policy position that is both stupid and utterly indefensible.

 

READ MORE:  I strongly recommend reading “Race and the Drug War,” which details the vast disparity of justice based on race and income.   

 

FOLLOW THE DISCUSSION ON FACEBOOK HERE.

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