Saturday, November 8, 2008

... a baker's dozen... more or less...

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"I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do."

~ Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
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What a beautiful fall... November so far is a mix of wet and dry, nice and not-so-nice but with snow falling in the Cascades this weekend its all pretty normal. When Halloween comes up at Jawbone Flats, odds are in favor of at least a modest dusting of snow. Some years tho'... the first snow may be a few days late, but generally... within 2 - 3 days of Halloween.




I love my Oregon...

Here at the farm the rain has turned the browned pastures back to green... trees in the copses and yards and streets have been ablaze in color for the last few weeks, the autumn sun is lowering to the south and the light and clean air make for beautiful days and give some great sunsets. Sunrises can be pretty cool too, especially when the fog lies low at dawn:



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And in about 2 months and 2 weeks the US will have a new President. I'll have much more to say about Mr Obama as we get closer to coronation day. ... rrrr... I mean the inauguration. One of the strongest sets of images from the hours and days after Obama's win has been those of our nation's black citizens. There is such a visible shine of pride, of relief... at last, at last...



And while I remain a doubter, I sincerely hope that President-elect Obama is at least part that which so many hope him to be... because it was not just the blacks that celebrated what is truly, truly an historic moment in our nation's history. Obama created a voting coalition that covered the spectrum. Looking at the voter percentages it is interesting to note that all the independent candidates combined garnered only about 2% of the vote. Ross Perot, when he ran as an independent garnered what, about 15% of the popular vote? There is quite a mandate on our next President's plate. Not to mention a major quagmire (and no, not Family Guy's Glenn Quagmire) or two. A couple of wars (I can count a handful without any effort) and an economy that oughta wake everybody up... if he shows himself to be some of what many hope him to be we may find a way to solve many problems. If he conducts business like just another Party shill... I see not much good ahead in these next four years.

But for our nation to actually elect a black man as Prez... wow. I'm proud of my country. To think that it has been but a mere 2 generations since our nation's black citizens were treated like this:



And all in a struggle waged over and over and over throughout human history. But these days are different. No longer are we a world of distant and relatively isolated societies. We are truly at a critical pivoting point in mankind's time here on earth.
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Because I am out of the closet -- so to speak -- about my cannabis use I thought I'd share this picture of the truck I used to drive when I worked for Bill Conde at his Redwood Lumberyard outside of Harrisburg, OR.



I put tens of thousands of miles on this truck, delivering redwood lumber throughout the western half of Oregon. And even tho' the truck is quite obviously covered in cannabis leaves I never was pulled over. In fact in all those miles I received one negative response. Driving north on I-5 one day I actually got flipped off... but that was the only time. Usually it was honks and waves, peace signs and lots of gaping. And the occasional offer to stop for a smoke (which I politely always declined). Even had folks asking to take a picture of the truck.

For such a benign and multi-faceted plant cannabis sure receives its share of grief. And of course I must note that President-elect Obama admits that when he was a young man he actually inhaled. A black man and a cannabis consumer... but ya know... he never would have gotten here if he had been arrested for possession of pot, back in da day... so, while smoking pot doesn't disqualify him for our nation's highest office it is important to make that connection that a conviction would have. And these days? We arrest almost 100 people every hour for pot here in the US. Isn't it time to drop that charade? Is it any of our business what our neighbors smoke? Pot has never killed anybody on its own while tobacco deaths (just in the US) number about 400,000 a year. Isn't that a bit incongruous? How many hours of police time do that many arrests take? How much court time? And the occasional jail time? Aren't there better allocations of our police and criminal justice system's resources?

Prohibition II will become an issue that garners this nation's attention as we look at ways and places where we can start not-spending money. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy directs most drug policy moves and comes up for reauthorization in 2010. I say axe it completely. How does a free nation -- a democratic republic -- even think that naming a bureaucrat a czar (as in Drug Czar) is acceptable? Especially when he directs and advocates policies that are repressive and grow ever more intrusive of Constitutional protections. We cannot protect our precious liberties by allowing the government to declare a "drugs exception" to the Constitution...

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) head guy Jack Cole estimates that we now spend roughly $70 billion a year on Prohibition II. Well... in 10 years we would get back the initial $700 billion we (our government) just threw at this "bailout" of our financial institutions. And that $70 billion a year is just the basics of enforcing Prohibition...

A point my friend Kirk often makes -- quite concisely -- is that it was not the efforts of G-Man Elliot Ness and his Untouchables that took away Al Capone's power in the booze trade. It was the ending of Prohibition, the re-legalizing of alcohol that in one fell swoop put booze back in the hands of legitimate tax-paying companies and their tax-paying employees... and eliminated the very rampant corruption and public violence of the syndicates who ran the booze trade.
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“Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.”

~ Thomas Jefferson

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