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Posted by on Oct 2, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Politics, What's Left | 5 comments

We Don’t Need More Prayers, We Need Tougher Gun Laws



Another mass shooting.  More bloodshed.  More death.  More agony.

And, of course, more thoughts and prayers.


Tragedy and suffering have become a national epidemic.  During the past month, America has endured three terrible storms which created mass destruction and many deaths.

But this tragedy was something very different.  The killings which took place at a country-music concert in Las Vegas were concocted and carried out by a human being.  The disaster wasn’t a natural act.  It was man-made.  Hence, the tragedy was preventable.

The current debate about man-made climate change notwithstanding, there’s not much we can do to stop forces of nature.  Storms happen.  But we can and we must do everything we can to prevent massacres initiated by one human being upon others.  We must try and stop it.  A civil society, particularly America which is such a statistical outlier when it comes to gun violence, not only faces a decision to act now, it has an obligation to do so.  This is assuming that we really do value human life, which is very much an open question.  Question:  Do we really possess the moral and political courage to stand up to powerful forces who are de facto co-conspirators in this pandemic of mass death?

I’m not so sure.

Instead, and in place of action, there are relentless empty words.  Thoughts and prayers are nothing more than a sweet-sounding Hallmark card, only they’re cheaper and not nearly as sentimental.  At least sending a Hallmark card to someone suffering inconsolable pain is a tangible act.  By contrast, thoughts and prayers ring hollow.  Thoughts and prayers are a cowardly abdication of greater responsibility if not linked to something more meaningful.  It’s like offering to help your pal move out of his apartment but secretly hoping he’s already hired a moving company.

If prayers really worked, some nutjob wouldn’t have hammered out the windows on the 32nd floor of a luxury hotel on the Las Vegas Strip and then starting shooting upon a crowd in the first place.  If prayers were effective, no benevolent celestial divinity overseeing the vast universe would have remained asleep at the wheel, emotionally isolated and criminally idle for ten full minutes, all while bullets rained down onto a defenseless cluster of terrified innocents.  Expressing “thoughts and prayers” to some imaginary do-nothing sky wizard in the aftermath of such tragedy isn’t just pointless.  It’s offensive.

Thoughts and prayers are offensive because they detract us, some by intention, from the very relevant discussion and debate we should all be having, instead.  Thoughts and prayers are a smokescreen.  Yes, perhaps there is a time for thoughts and prayers — later.  At funerals.  Do the prayers there.  There will be at least 59 funerals happening in the next week or so.  So, pray there.  Pray at remembrances intended to give comfort to relatives and survivors.  Pray there, if you want — all you want.  But the terrible aftermath of preventable tragedies aren’t assuaged by empty words tweeted and posted on public forums, even if well-intended.  Evil is eradicated, or at least diminished, by acts of courage and specific action.

Gun-fellating ostriches will protest “politicising the tragedy,” an all-too-convenient reflex I’ve already read dozens of times this morning posted all over social media.  But if this — the deadliest mass shooting in American history — doesn’t motivate us to do something now, then what will?  A hundred deaths?  A thousand?  Twenty more mass shootings?  What if your relative or friend was caught in the crossfire of some wacko blasting a high-powered assault weapon armed with thousands of rounds of ammunition?  Pray tell, — what will it take?

Quoting Sarah Q. Queen from Facebook, who said it best:

“Saying not to politicize this is the single most political thing you can do.  Anyone who has lost family or friends to an assault rifle wants nothing more than to prevent subsequent murders, and the only way to do that is to stop allowing access.  Now is the second best time, the best time being quite a few years ago.  So stop politicizing and get out of the way of doing what’s best.”

Want to honor the victims of this tragedy, or one of the innumerable tragedies which have taken place before?  Better yet, want to try and prevent another tragedy which is otherwise sure to come?  How about this:  Let’s update our gun laws.  Let’s start with gun registration.  Hell, let’s start with restricting guns getting into the hands of mentally disturbed people.  Yeah, that would be a good place to start.  But we can’t even agree on something this simple.  The last time federal legislation was proposed to restrict gun purchases to mentally ill people, the National Rifle Association and its faithful foot soldiers stepped in and killed the bill.  What kind of sick perverted society allows this?  What sicko wants to allow someone with mental problems to, gulp!, buy guns?

Apparently, there are about 4 million sickos.  That’s the number of active NRA members.

Note that I don’t propose getting rid of all guns, even though that’s pretty much what the rest of the civilized world has done where mass shootings simply do not happen.  People can keep a gun in the house for self-protection or perhaps even carry a weapon.  It’s a very valid point that people should have the right to protect themselves, and that right extends to legally buying a gun.

But if we’re going to sell guns to tens of millions of people from all walks of life, shouldn’t there be some minimal level of scrutiny as to who buys them?  Should anyone out there be legally able to buy a dozen potentially deadly high-powered assault rifles plus thousands of rounds of ammunition?  For what purpose?  Shouldn’t this be a red flag?  Sure, many private gun collectors who are good people and there are valid reasons for some citizens to own many guns.  Indeed, we can live in a reasonably peaceful society where we have both — tougher gun laws along with maintaining the right to bear arms protected by the Second Amendment.

We require licenses and insurance for people to drive cars, and there are plenty of good reasons for this.  No sane person would argue against requiring drivers to show competency before getting behind the wheel of a car.  We also require restaurants to obtain licenses and adhere to safety inspections.  Again, no sane person would argue against requiring food servers to demonstrate clean and safe practices.  Our government even requires many professions — doctors, dentists, insurance salesmen, financial planners, and so forth to be licensed.  Even hair stylists must obtain a license before they can cut hair.  If we demand the person who does haircuts for a living have a license, shouldn’t we require someone who walks into a gun store and purchases a deadly assault weapon to not only to meet some standard of mental competency but also attend a basic training course on gun safety?  Bartenders in many states are required to attend courses on alcohol safety.  Is anyone really shocked that a nation with much stronger laws restricting who gives haircuts and serves beer than buys a deadly rifle has a rampant problem with gun violence?


Most gun owners are responsible people and good citizens.  However, 33,000 gun deaths per year, on average in the United States, plus another 100,000 or so non-fatal accidents is a collective scream for immediate action.  That’s not acceptable breakage for any sane society that values human life.  That’s re-fighting the Vietnam War every two years.  Think of that.  Based on the number gun deaths and accidents in America, we are re-fighting the Vietnam War every 24 months.  Now as then, we are losing another costly and preventable war. 

Anyone who seriously believes last night’s Las Vegas Mandalay Bay tragedy is the final mass shooting is hopelessly naive.  No doubt, there will be more shootings in the future.  More shootings will take place given that gun laws are unlikely to change anytime soon.  And so, we are destined to endure far more preventable deaths, that is, so long as this nation remains foolishly wielded to outdated gun policies that were written when the most deadly weapon in the world was an infantryman’s musket.

Since the Second Amendment was written into the United States Constitution, technology has changed.  America has changed.  So too, our laws much change also.

And if you still want to pray — then please go ahead and pray.  But while you’re remembering the innocent victims, also pray for some sensible gun laws in America.  That’s a prayer where I’d willingly bow my head in complete agreement.


Postscript:  I would be terribly remiss were I not to add that we need to spend far more and do far more for mental health in this country.  But instead, we are cutting services to agencies which deal with mental health problems.  We will never know if mass murders like this terribly disturbed individual might have cried for help and not been given the treatment which could have prevented another senseless tragedy.



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Posted by on Jul 27, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

Braver than Bigotry: Counterarguments to the Ignorance of Trump’s Transgender Ban



“After consultation with my Generals and military experts [1], please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow … Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity [2] in the U.S. military.  Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming … victory cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs [3] and disruption that transgender people in the military would entail [4].  Thank you”

— President Donald Trump


Question:  What’s braver than bigotry?

Answer:  Any transgendered person who is willing to voluntarily enlist in the United States military, especially in face of so much ignorance and hatred.

Unlike the dirt-dumb, draft-dodging, tweeting-twat tainted with the stain of five cowardly draft deferments, many thousands of transgendered Americans have answered the call to duty and been brave enough to serve our nation.  Listen up, Mr. President — you might learn something.

Instead of choosing to take their rich daddy’s dirty money and spend most of their lives dodging creditors, avoiding taxes, bankrupting bond holders and business associates, scamming poor college students, and preening for television cameras, many fine American citizens who also just so happen to be transgendered opted to join our armed forces.  To me, this takes a special kind of person.  So far, according to the U.S. Department of Defense’s own records, virtually all of these people on active duty and in reserve units have served honorably.  Many transgenders even risked their in combat and were awarded the most prestigious honors we can bestow on the bravest.

Are you listening, you bumbling coward?

However, our bitter half-wit of President with absolutely zero previous military service — with no prior background in any form government — and who lacks any experience whatsoever in foreign affairs — shocked everyone yesterday when he tweet-farted an inexplicable official new military policy certain to disrupt and distract us all once again from things which are important.

The military ban against transgenders wasn’t just wrong in terms of its substance.  The ban was yet another classless, poorly-thought through, politically-motivated smooch to the religious right wing hate machine, one of his few constituencies of continued support.  It seemed to be made with all the contemplation of popping an Alka-Seltzer after a case of indigestion.  The ban even blindsided the highest members of his own cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all four branches of the U.S. military.  They all woke up Wednesday morning to a new order from the President, with no sense of guidance nor any detail.  Waking up in America now has been reduced to running to the crib each morning to see what the screaming baby has tweeted out to the world.

As is the case with all things Trumpian, the statement is pockmarked with blatant falsehoods and lies.  See President Trump’s statement above.  Accordingly, I have highlighted four particular segments in bold type:

[1]my Generals and military experts” — Generals and military experts do not belong to you, Mr. President.  Personnel in all branches of the military have served this proud nation long before you.  They will serve once you are long gone — hopefully sooner rather than later.  Moreover, the President clearly did NOT consult with anyone on his staff.  President Trump lied.  See:  US JOINT CHIEFS BLINDSIDED BY US MILITARY BAN

[2]in any capacity” — This was the line that took many by surprise.  Clearly, there are many jobs in the military which transgendered people can do just as well as everyone else.  The “fitness for combat” debate is perhaps worth having and we should let those who know combat have a strong voice in this.  However, most jobs in the military are not combat-related at all.  They are in support.  Many are technical.  Others are in repairs.  These jobs should be open to everyone who’s willing to enlist, so long as that person passes the necessary training requirements.  This includes transgendered people, too.

[3]tremendous military costs” — Here the President is referring to a tiny fraction of enlistees who opt to have transgender surgery while on active duty.  The Pentagon reports this medical cost amounts to about $8.5 million per year, which is about the cost of a couple of tires on a F-22 fighter.  Just to prove the absurdity of this comment from the President, erectile dysfunction pills (such as Viagra) costs the U.S. taxpayer ten-times the amount as transgender surgeries — nearly $90 million annually.  “Tremendous military costs,” my ass.  President Trump is lying.

[4]disruption that transgender people in the military would entail” — Wrong again, Mr. President.  Not just wrong.  But embarrassingly wrong.  Don’t take my word for it.  Listen to the RAND CORPORATION, the most revered, hawkish, pro-military think tank in the history of the United States.  Rand released a comprehensive study on this subject last year.  Their conclusion (in their words) was as follows:  “Policy changes to open more roles to women and to allow gay and lesbian personnel to serve openly in the U.S. military have similarly had no significant effect on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.”


Here are a few additional *myths* I’ve come across on social media during the last day or so (with my responses):

MYTH:  Transgenered people are bad for morale and combat-readiness:

Wrong.  Rand Corporation’s study examined all nations where transgendered (as well as gay) people have served, including combat.  “….little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.  Commanders noted that the policies had benefits for all service members by creating a more inclusive and diverse force.”


MYTH:  Transgenered people don’t make as good a soldier as “straight” enlistees.

False.  There is no evidence in support of this.  Yes, there are some anecdotal experiences of bigots who may not have been entirely comfortable serving alongside people they think are different.  Yet, nearly two years into the policy of inclusion and nearly two decades into a more open policy towards gays, military preparedness has not been impacted whatsoever by their inclusion.  If anything, given some difficulty in recruiting talent and finding people willing to engage in combat, the volunteerism by transgenders (and gays) has been positive.


MYTH:  The military is not a place for social experimentation and forced engineering of equality.

Bullshit.  The same sadly pathetic outdated arguments were once used against Blacks serving when the armed forces were fully integrated in 1948.  Later, Blacks ended up serving in disproportionally higher numbers in combat when Vietnam came around, thus negating the “social experimentation” claim.  Later, the same prejudice was used against women enlisting in various jobs.  Then, the same excuse was pulled from the mothballs again when we began allowing gays to serve.  Now, here were are in 2017, and the old putrid stench of bigotry is back rearing its ugly head once again.


MYTH:  The military isn’t like civilian life or other government jobs.  Service men and women do not enjoy the same rights.

This is true, in part.  However, we’ve seen over the generations that military service is often a critical gateway to accessing education and training.  This has especially been the case for the poor and lower middle-class who have looked to the military as a springboard to a solid career, a good-paying job, and greater stability later in life.  Those who are able to serve and gain skills are often preferable job candidates.  They enjoy advantages over non-veterans, especially in many technical, medical, and security jobs (vets get preferential hiring treatment in most government positions).  Denying any person access to the military DISCRIMINATES AGAINST THAT PERSON FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE.


MYTH:  We should listen to the military people alone on this issue.  They know more about this than we do.

Yes, we should listen to the military people.  But we should also listen to others, too.  In the past, a large contingent of the military opposed racial integration, saying it would destroy morale.  They were wrong.


MYTH:  The military isn’t the place to take risks, especially with lives on the line.

False.  The military has always been the greatest risktaker in America.  The military rolls experimental aircraft down runways, manned by brave pilots who don’t know if the plane will fly or crash.  The military uses all kinds of experimental weapons, many of which explode accidentally.  The military engages in risks in battle — almost daily.  Risk is a fundamental part of life in the military, for everyone.  Hence, allowing .02 percent of the armed forces to be made up of transgendered personnel seems like a relatively minor risk, especially given that it’s produced no discernible issues, so far.


MYTH:  Transgenders are enlisting to get free surgery, at taxpayer expense. 

Numbers vary, but out of 1.3 million service personnel currently in uniform, somewhere between 1,600 and 6,500 are believed to be transgendered.  The actual number of trans-related surgeries performed each year is quite small.  Moreover, the motivation for joining the military varies.  Many enlist in order to get training and education.  Some seek the benefits.  Quite a few simply want to serve their country out of patriotism.  The same motivations which apply to “straights” also apply to transgenders.


My position is simple:  I will stand up and fight for equal opportunity for all, including transgender people.  This is NON-NEGOTIATIABE.  It is a basic human right.

In conclusion, I have but one final question for all the bigots and blindly-obedient Trump fluffers out there who think banning transgender people (or anyone else physically and mentally fit to serve) is a good policy:

Why are you so afraid of transgender people?

Here’s a thought:  Perhaps you’re the one who needs mental counseling.


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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.


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 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.   



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Posted by on Apr 10, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Rants and Raves | 14 comments

An Alternative Opinion of Doctor Drama Queen Forcibly Dragged Off United Airlines


We criticize airlines for overbooking practices.  We blast them when they occasionally run into problems, like when too many passengers show up.  Yet, most doctors do exactly the same thing.  However, no doctor has ever offered me a $400 voucher and a free lunch for making me wait too long.


By now, you’ve probably seen the shaky cell phone footage showing a screaming United Airlines passenger dragged down mid aisle and forcibly removed from a flight yesterday.

The passenger, claiming to be a doctor, was asked to give up his seat by the airline’s staff after it was discovered the short flight was overbooked.  There are some additional background details pertaining to this incident, but I won’t get into them here.  [OPTION:  READ MORE]

After watching the video, the popular reaction has been scathing criticism targeted at United Airlines for the way they handled this matter.  Sure, airlines are giant fuck buses with wings.  It’s easy to understand why so many people sympathize with a fellow passenger, versus the big bad airline doing mean stuff to a helpless man simply wanting to fly back home.  Indeed, air travel has become an agonizing experience.  Airline service sucks.  When we fly, we’re treated like helpless pawns being run though a cattle chute.

Nonetheless, let’s also agree that none of this would have happened if Doctor Drama Queen would simply have behaved like a grown up instead of throwing a temper tantrum like a 2-year-old child.

Hey, Doc — this isn’t a Vietnam War protest.  Your resistance isn’t an act of valor.  Being forcibly dragged away isn’t heroic civil disobedience.  It’s stupidity.  It’s selfishness.  It’s a petty display of entitlement and exaggerated self-importance made considerably worse by rampant conceit that doctors are somehow entitled to special privileges whereecer they go.  Well, I have news for you, Doc.

Who knows if Doctor Drama Queen really had patients waiting back in Louisville?  No one has confirmed yet if his claims about having medical patients are really true.  And even if they are true, most doctors sure as hell don’t care about our valuable time, not when patients are often crammed into waiting rooms and forced to stare at the walls for an hour or more after our scheduled appointment time.  Sure, doctors provide us while entertainment while we’re waiting.  Last time I had a medical check up, I read two entire years worth of Highlights for Children magazines.  Hey Doc, let’s learn a lesson together.  Gallant cooperates with airline security.  Gufus thinks he’s more important than everyone else and goes bat-shit crazy when he doesn’t get his way.

[Update:  “Dr. David Dao lied to the airline crew.  He’s a bold-faced liar.  “Dr. Dao” had no patients waiting for him the next morning back in Louisville, since his medical licence was suspended in January.  He’s currently under indictment for peddling opiods.  So — pending a conviction — he’s probably a dope peddler]

So, we criticize airlines for their overbooking practices and blast them when they occasionally run into problems when too many passengers show up.   Yet, most doctors do exactly the same thing.  However, no doctor has ever offered me a $400 voucher and a free lunch for making me wait too long.

Oh, and by the way — he must not be much of a doctor if he’s flying coach.   But I digress.

United Airlines might get sued over this and be tempted to settle.  Let’s hope not.  Instead, Doctor Drama Queen should be criminally prosecuted to the full extent of the law for interfering with the operation of an aircraft.  He not only caused a scene.  His actions also created a needless delay for everyone else on that flight.  How selfish of him.  He certainly wouldn’t have protested someone else getting plucked from the flight for many of the reasons people travel — including families reuniting, a prospective job interview, or a funeral.  No, this was all about him.

Admittedly, this is a case of very bad timing for United Airlines, particularly after the embarrassing (overtly sexist) dress code incident a few weeks ago.  However, one miscue doesn’t entail perpetual and comprehensive guilt across an entire industry when it comes to dealing with passengers.  Sometimes the airline is wrong.  Other times the passenger is wrong.  In this case, Doctor Drama Queen was wrong.

Lock him up.




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