Derin Devlet is Coming for You

Beware. I have warned you. Derin Devlet is coming for you. Derin will steal your rights, your freedom, and perhaps even your life. Derin can manipulate the news, drive the economy up or down, start wars, alter history, and control the media.

They have warned us and yet Derin is still there; lurking, immortal, invisible yet affecting our everyday lives, all to Derin’s whim with little regard to anything else except maintaining the power and the continuity of Derin Devlet.

You may know Derin by another name. Throughout the long history of the world, Derin has borne many names. Derin Devlet is his Turkish name, translated literally to Deep State.

While many Americans believe the “Deep State” to be monolithic, if a secretive, behind-the-doors group of well-organized individuals holding vast power and controlling the government, the reality is different.

Some would argue it’s the Civil Service, career bureaucrats engaged in what some see as subverting elected officials’ policies. Others see it as preserving the law. The deep state exists in various manifestations.

The first use of the term seems to be in 1817, John Fitzgerald Pennie’s “The Varangian, or Masonic Honor,” offered this dialogue of two servants working a large banquet hall filled with contriving earls and knights.

Second servant: “Oh, could I but pry into these deep state secrets! I would give my very head to — Third servant: “Thus mayst, for aught ’tis worth.… Would I could pry into a venison pasty…. I will see what cheer the buttery yields.”

Second servant: “Then art thou come in right good time: there’s glorious feasting here. But thou, dull fellow, hast no great regard for plots and state affairs.”

Third servant: “No; but I have for the sad state of my deserted bowels.” (https://www.thenation.com/article/what-is-the-deep-state/)

Here’s the way Mr. Trump seems to see the Deep State.

If an allegation against, let’s say Billary Hinton, is unprovable, then the Deep State protected him, or her, or this fictitious person who bears no resemblance to any person living or dead or soon to be living or dead or otherwise real.

If an allegation is proven against, let’s say, Dichael Bohen, or Dichael Slynn, or the other 35 individuals indicted (so far) by someone with a name like Mobert Bueller, (again all fictitious individuals I mean 37 people indicted in one organization in government and not part of Organized Crime? Come on!) the Deep State conspired to make it happen.

One might make an argument the deep state exists, in an existential sense, by looking at the effect it has on public perception with little firm evidence of its reality. The Deep State lives in the minds of many, and thus it exists.

I offer here a proof of this Deep State and the power it wields. John McCain did not die. He was promoted to Director of Deep State from Beyond, and his one job is to torment Donald Trump.  You have only to read the maniacal ravings of Mr. Trump and see McCain’s evil hand forcing the President to hit Tweet, Tweet, Tweet all night long.

Derin Devlet is coming for you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Excerpt: UnMade Honor Loyalty Redemption

In the 1970s, Olneyville was a desolate neighborhood of rundown, multiple family homes and small manufacturing shops, which sat in a valley across an overpass that ran above the Route Ten connector to I-95.

It was a short walk from the Italian, Federal Hill section of Providence. No emblems on street signs showing demarcation points, nothing separated one neighborhood from the other, yet it needed none. The intersection of Atwells and Harris Avenue was the boundary. Along Atwells, up on the Hill, sat cafes, restaurants, salumerias, social clubs, laundromats, pastry and veal shops, live poultry markets. All part of the fiefdom, the unofficial headquarters of one of the most feared of all Mafia Don’s, Raymond L. S. Patriarca.

When gang-banging, street criminals thought about edging out of their Olneyville neighborhood, and moving toward the Hill, the thought was a fleeting one. Patriarca deplored all street crime, unless, of course, he ordered it. Bad for business, it brought unwanted attention from the police. Olneyville gangsters stayed in Olneyville; it was safer.

One day, a blond-headed, blue-eyed scary guy, who scared very scary guys, crossed that bridge. Back then, Bobby Walason understood it would be suicidal to challenge the supreme power, it was far more sensible to join it.
This story casts a light onto the ebb and flow of a dark side of American society, a look at the forces that play havoc with lives that go adrift on the streets of all our cities.

As a child, Bobby held out against cruelty no boy should ever endure. Thrown from his own house at the age of twelve, he lived in a cardboard box and survived. Though the word survived is a stretch.

As an adolescent, there were turnstiles of reform schools, escapes, and then, even though he was underage, the adult correctional institution, known as the ACI. A prison for adult criminals where he was misdiagnosed, beaten by guards, and fought extraordinary battles holding his own against overwhelming numbers. Finally, they wrapped him in canvas and chains and shot him full of Thorazine—a drug he was allergic to.

As a young adult, there was little thought of a future, he lived hour to hour. Adrift in a world where no one would notice if he lived or died, he found a harbor of refuge in an even darker place.

A career path tailor-made for Bobby Walason as custom fitting as the expensive clothes he would soon come to wear. He became an enforcer in a Mafia crew. A manic-depressive Bipolar Type I enforcer for the mob.

A very scary guy who scared very scary guys.

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Another Day

(A re-posting of a favorite of mine. We are once again enjoying some time in Aruba. While the weather at home is improving, it has a ways to go to match the Caribbean breezes and warm ocean waves.

We are once again staying right near the Cormorant Tree (not it’s name, but it seems so with the crowd of birds.)  Since I last wrote about them in 2015, some of those birds have passed on, others remain, and new ones have come to be.

The comforting rhythm of nature continues.)

My wife and I are spending some time in Aruba, escaping the single digit temperatures, snow, and ice of New England.

On our first day here, we went to the store and bought hotdogs.
Yes, hotdogs.
We have been craving a nice, well-done, burned skin hotdog on the grill for weeks. Talking about it as we watched the snow fall and wind chill dip lower and lower.

There is nothing that says warm summer evening like a well-burned hotdog. The crinkled skin nestled in the crispy onions, bathed in relish and mustard, embraced by a soft roll.

Nirvana.

As the sun set, I cooked the hotdogs and sipped a beer. I watched as a tree in the middle of a lagoon fill with Cormorants, those birds that swim underwater in their daily search for food.

Against the waning sun, purple red, orange yellow skies, watching them circle and land on the branches caught my eye. Like most of these type birds, the bodies appear heavier than they are, the seemingly fragile, thin branches easily supporting their deceptively light weight.

I’ve watched this phenomenon a couple of times now. (Once we had our hotdog fix, we moved on to Italian sausages!)

The daily gathering of the birds repeats each evening.

As each new wave of birds return, they join in a chorus of noises that sounds like a combination beer burp and growl.

At first I thought it a challenge or threat;
My branch, my branch
Get off, go away
And then I realized, it is a welcome home
Glad to see you, my friend
We’ve lived another day

Rationality Reemerges with Attorney General Peter Neronha’s Drug Policy

It would seem we have an Attorney General who embraces rationality and realism over politics and rhetoric and I, for one, am pleased.

The drug problem in the United States, and worldwide, is complicated. On the most visible side, you have addicts, deaths from overdoses, hospitalizations, and lost opportunity by convictions for possession.

On the other side, you have the intricate relationship of governments of producing countries with the enormous money generated by the cartels. Drug money funds politics, political candidates, and corruption.

Over the last several decades, the trend in the US was to increase punishment and eliminate rehabilitative services for inmates. There was an apparent shift to warehousing more inmates with no consideration for what happens when released.

Recidivism among drug offenders reached 60-70%. Most offenders released from prison are rearrested within a year. Something is not working. There is another troubling trend buried within the change toward punishment that should concern us all. The shift to private prisons. Logic would dictate that businesses with a vested interest in a steady, or growing, supply of “customers” would have little incentive to reduce crime or incarceration rates.

In 2008, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates issued a memo ordering a reduction in using private prisons by Federal authorities. Just days after Jeff Sessions became US Attorney General, he rescinded the order. Private prison stocks soared as the prison industry resumed its growth. Once again, money and politics trumped rationality. (https://www.cnn.com/2017/08/18/politics/private-prison-department-of-justice/index.html)

AG Neronha’s proposal brings rationality to our drug policy. Recognizing the accepted medical definition of drug addiction as a treatable mental health condition, shifting the focus from punishment to treatment and prevention is sound policy.

While the policy is welcome, it must go further. Reducing the number of minor offenders sent to prison is a good start and removing the stigma of a felony conviction will help reintegrate those with drug issues back into society but treating those with mental illnesses, both inside prisons and in society, is also a pressing problem. (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/criminals-need-mental-health-care/)

With the trend toward punishment, they incarcerated those with mental illnesses at an even faster rate than the general population. Until we recognize the revolving door of the mentally ill sent to prisons lacking any mental health services, released after they complete their sentence, and rearrested because of lack of mental health services nothing will change.

AG Neronha wisely recognized the Criminal Justice system in Rhode Island needed a change. He is in good company with other states who have reduced recidivism through “Second chance” type programs, increased treatment opportunities, and punishment tempered by a goal of reintegration into society. (https://csgjusticecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Reducing-Recidivism_State-Deliver-Results_2017.pdf)

Some would argue that such policies will encourage drug use, will increase the number of addicts because it reduces the preventive effect of punishment, will be only a progressive “feel good” effort with little to no benefit.

In the 1980s, Congress passed some of the most Draconian criminal sanctions to deal with the then rising scourge of crack cocaine. Possession of relatively small amounts resulted in life sentences. Yet the effect on the street was minimal, and the adverse impact on the minority population was devastating.

The numbers do not lie. We lead the world in prison population, and the numbers are growing. Whatever we have done to this point, it is not working. (http://www.prisonstudies.org/highest-to-lowest/prison-population-total?field_region_taxonomy_tid=All)

We can do better than that, and Mr. Neronha’s proposal is a tremendous step in the right direction.

Freedom of Speech*(*Conditional, of course)

In Muslim culture, they greet one another in this way.

 “As-salaam Alaykum,” meaning “Peace be upon you” and answered by “wa ʿalaykumu s-salām” meaning “and peace be upon you too.” (Apologies if I got the spelling wrong)

What’s wrong with that? Almost sounds Christian.

In the America of today, using such a greeting might prompt a visit from the FBI when your fellow Americans suspect you of being a terrorist. We fear the unfamiliar despite our claims of embracing all colors, creeds, and cultures.

Freedom is relative in America these days. While most Americans support Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion, many attach a condition to these cherished rights.

Look to the headlines and the evidence of conditional toleration is everywhere.

Opinion pieces are rife regarding the newest members of Congress, Muslims. Where is the religious toleration and why is their religion significant? I mean what could happen next, Atheists? Religious toleration only goes so far, we tolerate Christian faiths, perhaps even Jews-but not too many, you know what happens when they take over-but Muslims? There goes the neighborhood.

We can’t have it.

Freedom of religion, as enshrined in the Constitution, is unambiguous. The 4000 plus religions in the world are free to practice their faith as long as they harm no one or refuse to tolerate the different religious practices of others.

Simple, right? It would seem not. Intermixed with Freedom of Religion, which includes Freedom from Religion, is Freedom of Speech.

Once again there is a difference between what we say, or point to in the Constitution, and what we practice in our daily lives. Professional athletes take a knee to highlight persisting racism within this county and we rebuke, threaten, and call them un-American.

What is more American than taking a stand to right a wrong? What is more emblematic of American courage than to stand against evil? But even if you disagree with their method, which I found ineffectual, you must support their right to such expression.

If you argue that everyone must stand for the National Anthem out of some sense of respect for the hard-fought freedoms most of us enjoy, you’ve missed the point.

Being a product of the 60s, I lived through the years of violent antiwar protests, antigovernment upheavals, and civil rights riots. My parents’ generation looked on those protesters as un-American. Yet President Lyndon Johnson saw the need for sweeping civil rights legislation, the Great Society, to right many wrongs highlighted by the protests.

Despite Dr. Martin Luther King’s plea for nonviolence, decades of rage over racial disparity coupled with an ill-conceived and unnecessary war in Viet Nam drove the country to the boiling point.

Yet we survived.

Today, conditional toleration threatens Freedom of Speech. We need zealously guard free expression, even when we find ourselves in complete disagreement with the message.

Think about this for a moment. During the war in Viet Nam, many considered antiwar protesters to be anti-American. If that’s the case, then to be pro-American is to be Pro-War? Such sentiments carried over to the endless conflict in Iraq.

I find that opposing war is un-American to be false on its face. Americans should fight only when necessary and vigorously oppose policies to the contrary. Had such a philosophy existed in 1954, when American military advisers first went to South Viet Nam, 56,000 more Americans might be enjoying their freedoms.

To be American is to hold a wide variety of political, religious, and cultural perspectives. To be American is to accept differences in others and work together for the benefit of all.

If we want to set standards for the religion or speech we will tolerate, it is a slippery slope to losing our freedoms.

Look to the headlines and the evidence of conditional tolerance is everywhere.

Opinion pieces are rife with references to the newest members of Congress, Muslims. Where is the religious tolerance and why is their religion significant? I mean what could happen next, Atheists? Religious tolerance only goes so far, we tolerate Christian faiths, perhaps even Jews-but not too many, you know what happens when they take over-but Muslims? There goes the neighborhood.

We just can’t have it.

Freedom of religion, as enshrined in the Constitution, is clear and unambiguous. The 4000 plus religions in the world are free to practice their faith as long as they harm no one or refuse to tolerate the different religious practices of others.

Simple, right? It would seem not. Intermixed with Freedom of Religion, which includes Freedom from Religion, is Freedom of Speech.

Once again there is a difference between what we say, or point to in the Constitution, and what we practice in our daily lives. Professional athletes take a knee to highlight the persistence of racism within this county and they are castigated, threatened, and called un-American.

What could be more American than to take a stand to right a wrong? What could be more emblematic of American courage than to stand against evil? But even if you disagree with their method, which truth be told I found useless and ineffective, you must support their right to such expression.

If you argue that everyone must stand for the National Anthem out of some sense of respect for the hard-fought freedoms most of us enjoy, you’ve missed the point.

Being a product of the 60s, I lived through the years of violent anti-war protests, anti-government upheavals, and civil rights riots. My parents’ generation looked on those protesters as un-American. Yet President Lyndon Johnson saw the need for sweeping civil rights legislation, the Great Society, to right many wrongs highlighted by the protests.

Despite Dr. Martin Luther King’s plea for non-violence, decades of rage over racial disparity coupled with an ill-conceived and unnecessary war in Viet Nam drove the country to the boiling point.

Yet we survived.

Today, Freedom of Speech is threatened by conditional tolerance. We need zealously guard free expression, even when we find ourselves in complete disagreement with the message.

Think about this for a moment. During the war in Viet Nam, anti-war protesters were considered anti-American. If that’s the case, then to be pro-American is to be Pro-War? Such sentiments carried over to the ongoing conflict in Iraq.

I find the idea that opposing war is un-American to be false on its face. Americans should fight only when necessary and vigorously oppose policies to the contrary. Had such a philosophy existed in 1954, when American military advisors first went to South Viet Nam, 56,000 more Americans might be enjoying their freedoms.

To be American is to hold a wide variety of political, religious, and cultural perspectives. To be American is to tolerate and appreciate the differences others may have and to work together to bring the best of these to the benefit of all.

If we want to set standards for the religion or speech we will tolerate, it is a slippery slope to losing our freedoms.

In the Arabic world, the majority of which is Muslim, they greet each other in this way.

“As-salaam Alaykum,” meaning “Peace be upon you” and answered by “wa ʿalaykumu s-salām” meaning “and peace be upon you too.” (apologies if I got the spelling wrong)

What’s wrong with that? Almost sounds Christian.

Presidential and Not-so-Presidential Quotes

Every President has a signature line or a memorable quote. A moment in time that everyone who heard it will remember.

Kennedy had, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Johnson had, “I will not seek, and I shall not accept, the nomination of my party to run for President.”

Nixon began a sad trend in memorable moments, “I am not a crook.”

Gerald Ford briefly recovered our pride with his line after Nixon’s resignation. “Our long national nightmare is over.”

Carter was such a disappointment as President, and so admirable as an ex-President, I can recall nothing he said.

Reagan had, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” (Tear down a wall? Almost heresy today.)

Bush 41 said in his inaugural address, “We know what works: Freedom works. We know what’s right: Freedom is right.”

Clinton, reinvigorating the downward spiral said, “I did not have sex with that woman.”

Bush 43 had this prescient statement. “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on.”

Obama brought a sense of dignity back for eight years with these lines, “We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.”

And now we have President Trump, who did come up with a good line, “One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace, good people don’t go into government.”

But we are stuck with his pedantic predilection for tweets and must bear with the corybantic flummery of a popinjay. (I love the richness of the English language)

Let’s hope we have hit rock bottom.

Stepping in the Minefield of Abortion

At the risk of stepping into a minefield–oh hell who am I kidding I love stepping into minefields–I would like to set the record straight on the New York legislation regarding late-term abortions.

I was struck by the words of Timothy Cardinal Dolan (the archbishop of New York and member in good standing of the Catholic Church, one of the most disingenuous and corrupt organizations ever conceived by man, even if many of its members are good and kind people) who said the Reproductive Health Act of New York was a “ghoulish, grisly, gruesome,” practice.

wordmap

It started the usual social media debate. At first, I thought to let it pass. But, alas, I could not.

Here’s that actual language from the statute.

“According to the practitioner’s reasonable and good faith professional judgment based on the facts of the patient’s case: the patient is within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.” (https://legislation.nysenate.gov/pdf/bills/2019/S240)

The Reproductive Health Act will permit abortions after 24 weeks in cases where a woman’s life or health would be threatened by continuing the pregnancy. It also allows licensed nurse practitioners and physician assistants to provide abortion services and decriminalizes abortion.

It is a pre-emptive strike against any Supreme Court reversal of the well-established, yet misunderstood, Roe V. Wade decision. The movement to overturn Roe, almost exclusively funded and driven by religious fundamentalism, poses a grave danger to women’s rights.

Their efforts have not been without success.

Several states passed what is known as “heartbeat” restrictions, limiting abortions once the heartbeat begins. These statutes artfully dodge the fact that most women do not even know they are pregnant at that point.

These states’ highways and byways are oft adorned with myriad Come to Jesus signs and the legislatures routinely try to circumvent the Separation Clause. States where science carries less respect than NASCAR, conspiracy theories, and Bigfoot are the point of the fundamentalist spear.

Scattered throughout these same states, are billboards with a smiling baby and the ominous words, “A baby’s heartbeat starts at 21 Days!” (it is actually 22 days, and the fetus bears little resemblance to a recognizable human form.) It is about the size of a poppy seed. About the size of the period at the end of this sentence. In numbers, the size of a three-week fetus is LENGTH: 0.03 in / 0.08 cm WEIGHT: 0.002 oz / 0.06 g. (Growth Chart)

It would be nice if we put as much care and consideration into those children living in deplorable and desperate conditions as we are wont to do for those not yet born. It would seem our concern ends at birth.

I am always struck by the conservative opposition to abortion based on the “sanctity” of life, while many embrace the death penalty. As they often do, they turn to the ultimate authority (nope, not Google) but the original source of all knowledge, the Bible.

“Thus says the Lord God… “Will you profane Me… killing people who should not die, and keeping people alive who should not live…?” -Ezekiel 13:18-19

“He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord. -Proverbs 17:15 (Italics the author. Me, not the original. No one knows who that is.)

Here’s the problem. God may be infallible, the American Justice system is not.

I am struck by the number of men who see themselves as the ultimate arbiters of morality, primarily in others. While many women oppose abortion, men seem particularly fervent in their opposition. One cannot help but wonder if this is as much a sense of loss of control as it is a genuinely sincere position.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, in the year before he authored the pro-abortion Roe v. Wade opinion (which was passed by the Republican majority court), wrote in a 1972 death penalty case of his “excruciating agony of the spirit. I yield to no one in the depth of my distaste, antipathy, and, indeed, abhorrence, for the death penalty… It is antagonistic to any sense of ‘reverence for life.'”

The conflict between the two conservative positions on abortion and the death penalty cannot be starker.

Until we come to terms with the dichotomy of our willingness to risk killing an innocent person who was wrongfully convicted yet deny women the right to make their own choice, I think it best we stay away from legislating morality.

Leave women their right to choose and do not deny them the opportunity to save their lives whenever it is medically necessary. Leave medical decisions to professionals and the individuals forced to deal with them.

If you oppose abortion, don’t have one.

An American Twelve Year Memory Loss

In 1956, the year I was born, the world was a much different place than it is today. My generation came into a nuclear-armed world where the possibility of global annihilation rested on the shoulders of opposing powers, Democracy and Communism.

wordmapOr so we were told as we learned to duck and cover under our desks in case of nuclear attack. A mere twelve years before, in 1944, the world still faced Hitler, the Final Solution, and raging war. The end of the war still more than a year, and hundreds of thousands of more deaths, away.

There were no cell phones, websites, or Facebook.

Imagine.

Twelve years later, in 1968, America was being torn apart as much as our military forces were tearing apart the country of Vietnam. The ’68 Tet Offensive, live on TV, brought the war into the American living room as the body count climbed. The military defeat of the Viet Cong lost in the outrage over America’s continued spending of the blood of our young men and women for a failed policy.

Twelve more years pass and, by 1980, Americans were held hostage in Iran, and a new President came into office promising to win their release. What first appeared to be the success of a firm and effective policy later turned out to be political subterfuge.

In 1992, a new chapter dawns. A President takes office who would reopen relations with Vietnam and start the healing process for those who fought there, and then go on national television and lie to the American people. An unnecessary and foolish lie.

Another twelve years, 2004, would find America embroiled once again in an endless war, with no clear goals and no end in sight. A President would commit troops to combat and tell the American people to go shopping.

He would go on to declare “mission accomplished.”

Twelve years later, 2016, the troops were still there. Except, of course, for the ones who’d been wounded or killed after the mission was accomplished.

We also had a new President. In the peculiar institution of our electoral process, more people voted against him than for him but he won the Electoral College.  It gives one pause to consider if we should rethink the accreditation of this college.

Nevertheless, he is the President.

Since taking office, he has shut down the government unless Congress meets his demand for money to build a wall most people agree is an ineffective solution to a complex problem.

And so it goes.

It would seem Americans have an attention span of fewer than twelve years. We repeat the same mistakes, or conveniently forget about them

If I am fortunate enough to enjoy the full extent of my life expectancy, I have two or three more twelve-year cycles to go. Let’s hope we get better at it.

Potheads Fixing Potholes

In the debate over marijuana legalization, which is like arguing over last year’s Superbowl, whether the motivation is tax revenue, the realization of changing attitudes, or resignation, there is one thing we should all understand.

cannabis_leafMore lives are ruined by an arrest for marijuana possession than have ever been ruined by using marijuana.

There is no better rationale for legalization than that.

While one can argue over the potential for abuse, the impact on those with schizophrenia, or other known or suspected risks of using marijuana, every substance known to man, from caffeine to soda to aspirin to tobacco, has risks.

Life has risks, one cannot legislate it away.

Americans must be trusted to use their own judgment on acceptable risks. The law is not the most effective method to mitigate these issues, education is. An informed consumer can be trusted to make their own decisions.

According to a 2016 article in the New York Times, marijuana arrests far outdistance arrests for violent crimes. Even considering the number of violent crimes is lower than the number of people possessing marijuana, it is an enormous waste of police officers’ time, burdens the courts with cases, and overwhelms prisons or probation officers with little, or no, positive effect on quality of life. (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/13/us/marijuana-arrests.html)

Hidden within these arrest statistics is another troubling element. While the use of marijuana is about the same between whites and blacks, blacks are four times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana. The one consistent aspect in matters of the law is the racial disparity. That alone should give one pause.

I spent twenty years as a police officer. I made many arrests for possession of marijuana, and let just as many off the hook, based primarily on how they reacted to being stopped. The law was clear and debating the rationality on the street wasn’t the proper forum.

But my experiences with those who used marijuana was almost always non-violent. That cannot be said for the other drugs on the street, but it is true of marijuana. Back then, most officers understood the futility of wasting precious resources on such minor offenses. Sadly, not every officer shared the same common sense approach to the reality on the street.

It’s time we legalize marijuana and redirect criminal justice resources to efforts that make people safe. To borrow a phrase I heard the other day.

Let’s take the tax money from the sale of marijuana to potheads and use it to fix potholes.

 

The America I Knew

This is not the America I knew.

wordmapIn the America I knew, differences made us a more dynamic society. They did not tear us apart and separate us into opposing sides.

In the America I knew, public service meant serving for the good of the public, not gathering power to maintain one’s position.

In the America I knew, we had empathy for those less fortunate, confronted ignorance driven by fear with compassion, and demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice to benefit all.

In the America I knew, Presidents commanded respect by their actions and deeds or faced the condemnation of a country that deserved and demanded more.

In the America I knew, we stood as a beacon to the oppressed, a sanctuary to the hopeless, and a refuge to the desperate.

In the America I know now, fear drives policy. Greed drives international relations. And the threat of unrestrained military force fuels diplomacy.

The America I knew was not perfect, but the goal of the American people has never been perfection. America’s destiny is to be the first society which puts the overall good of the world before self-interest.

Time and time again this nation rose to the defense of countries which for centuries waged war over territory, power, and politics. We fought for ideals, not personal gain. We sent our youth to far-flung places to fight and die for the greater good.

All we asked in return was land to bury our dead.

The America I knew, once the enemy was defeated, extended a helping hand to restore the former enemy and aid them in rejoining a peaceful coexistence with the world.

In the America of today, we are a society divided. Unwilling to see the value in an exchange of ideas out of misplaced obstinance and irrational adherence to our own positions. There is never one way to achieve a goal, but there are a million ways to seek success at the expense of our once tightly embraced values.

In the America I knew, it was never us versus them. Today, the tear in the cloth that was America threatens to send us down the oft-repeated path of history. Instead of a lasting, sustainable legacy, we will be just a brief shining moment ended by our failure to remember why America came to be.

This is not the America I knew, we need to regain the spirit that made us different.