Sunday, April 22, 2012

As '4/20' comes and goes, only honesty will win discussions

Some people would have us believe that if the United States were to "stop enforcing the War on Drugs" our country would "turn into Mexico."

The problem with this line of reasoning is that it ignores one simple truth: as the violence in Mexico escalates, it is slowly spilling over our borders because of the "War on Drugs."

The reason why Mexican drug cartels are so brutally and cold-bloodedly violent is that since what they're doing already is illegal, there's absolutely no incentive to spurn other criminal actions such as turf wars, kidnapping, and so on. Instead of vying for customers through marketing and offering a superior product – which is the case with legal goods, the most assured way to get and keep customers is through violently eliminating the competition.

By legalizing at the very least all-natural intoxicants such as cannabis, the raw coca leaf, and poppy plants, there becomes incentive for those who still would engage in distributing and/or selling them to not just step out of the shadows but even to comply with regulatory statutes such as those governing the production, handling, marketing, and sales of alcohol. There would be no point in violent activity directed at competitors.

Also, by ending the "War on Drugs" that would mean no longer aggressively pursuing, prosecuting, and incarcerating those who use drugs: there becomes incentive for those individuals to step out of the shadows with their choices (much the same as what happened with alcohol consumption once Prohibition ended as a result of the repeal of the 18th Amendment), which would in turn make it much easier for those who wish to engage in drug abuse outreach to identify the people they desire to help.

That, right there, is billions (if not tens-of-billions) of dollars saved every year. Much of the remaining tens-of-billions of dollars saved comes from not having to house the vast majority of those who are in prison for "drug-related crimes" – particularly those prosecuted as felons for simple possession of small amounts.

Also, the reason why Mexican drug cartels are multi-billion-dollar operations is that there is (for a lack of a better phraseology) a market for their products. If those who would produce, ship, and sell legal intoxicants were given the incentive to stay out of the cross-hairs of the criminal justice system (licensing, taxation compliance, local zoning ordinances, etc.), there would be an even further quelling of violent and corrupt practices as operating completely above board offers the promise of staying out of prison.

When the 21st Amendment was passed, America did not descend into a sea of drunkenness where anyone and everyone old enough to unscrew a bottle cap would die by drowning in booze and their own vomit. The same will hold true with drugs.

It is beyond time to do-away with the irresponsible rhetoric permeating this issue.

Monday, April 9, 2012

GOP antics took ugly turn

Just when I thought it was safe to deduce partisan politics couldn’t get any more bizarre in Ohio, another story emerges which boggles the mind.

Bill Yarbrough was an erstwhile candidate for the Libertarian Party in 2010: he sought the 3rd District State Senate seat then. For this year’s election cycle, he made the decision to re-identify himself as a Republican and challenge incumbent congressman Pat Tiberi for that party’s nomination for Ohio’s District 12 seat. At his Website he even discusses frankly the fact he “ran as a third party candidate to learn the ropes” about pursuing public office.

Since getting to know him during our respective campaign trails two years ago, I came to admire Yarbrough. Naturally, I was disappointed to learn he had chosen to make the switch in party identities. But, I will do my best to respect his choice – the freedom for him or anyone else to do so is one of the many little things which make America great.

That choice, however, led to circumstances I doubt Yarbrough (or anyone else, for that matter) could have anticipated.

When I spoke with him during the recent Libertarian Party of Ohio state convention, he told me when he began his run for Congress he contacted each of the Republican Party chairs in each county the 12th District touches. His main goal in doing so was to seek potential endorsements from the county parties.

What he got, instead, from Delaware County’s Executive Committee chair Bob Mann was a complaint filed with the Ohio Elections Commission alleging Yarbrough had committed federal election fraud.

And the heinous crime about which Mann felt so strongly that he sought federal felony charges to be brought against him?

Yarbrough identified himself as “Republican” on his candidate petitions.

That’s right: for engaging in the sinister act of realigning himself with the Grand Ol’ Party, it was not enough in Chairman Mann’s eyes to petition the OEC to have Yarbrough removed from the Republican Primary ballot – Mann was fully ready to have him prosecuted and incarcerated.

So, instead of being able to run an effective primary campaign, Yarbrough had to begin pouring money into his legal defense, spend time publicly clearing his name in the weeks leading-up to the March 6 primary, and watch the inevitable stress on his wife and children mount.

Needless to say, Tiberi coasted to his party’s nomination by a wide margin.

This is where my blood begins to boil over this situation. I don’t give a damn what your party affiliation may be, no one can deny that Mann was perfectly willing to risk destroying the life of an innocent man, a good man, a family man with young children. And, he was willing to do so for the narrow, repugnant purpose of preserving the status quo.

To all of you who identify as Republicans, there is no middle ground on this item. Anything less than an unequivocal repudiation of Mann’s actions constitutes complicity and approval. Sympathy for Yarbrough is cheap. You need to show a backbone and fully denounce what Mann did.

Furthermore, it is easy to see Chairman Mann clearly wanted to set a precedent that was intended to have a chilling effect on anyone further down the road who might dare challenge any Republican incumbent within the party – especially if they’re running as a liberty candidate or constitutional conservative.

So, Tea Partiers, take heed of Bill Yarbrough’s ordeal. To those of you who insist the path to restoring America must be accomplished by reforming The Republican party from within, does your beloved political party really want that reform?

In his run for State Senate two years ago, Yarbrough successfully earned the endorsement of local Tea Party groups and identifies heavily with the Tea Party movement.

Now, we know what the Republican Party was willing to do to him.

What will they be willing to do to you?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Olbermann wears-out another welcome

The inimitable Keith Olbermann has once again found himself wanting for a job.

Evidently, in the waning days of the month of March, he was terminated by Current TV for breach of contract. As is being reported by those who simply may have been bored due to a lack of real news to cover, the folks at Current got tired of him being an incomparable ass.

Being that much of an ass is not new to Olbermann. It was the catalyst for his parting ways with ESPN in 1997 as well as Fox Sports Network in 2001.

When it comes to his abrupt departure from MSNBC, his droning and baseless commentary of the Tea Party’s inherent racism opened the door for karma to rear its ugly head. As was noted by members of the Tea Party in Dallas, the percentages of people of color at Tea Party rallies was dramatically higher than could be found on that network’s daily line-up of political coverage.

True to form, Olby didn’t let this obvious hypocrisy deter him from perpetuating this meme – for what would be the remainder of his tenure at MSNBC.

One thing about his dismissal from that channel which continues to surprise me is the fact no one in mainstream media or even an online alternative source was able to reach the following observation: Olbermann got bitten by the quota bug.

I have no doubt executives at MSNBC were feeling significant heat for maintaining such a monochrome corral of talking heads while allowing their primetime darling to decry the absence of color at Tea Party events. "Where are these people?" he once droned.

It had not yet occurred to me when the network hired Cenk Uygur (also known for his work on The Young Turks) for what would prove to be an eight-month run how desperate executives there were to combat the issue. It was when they hired Rev. Al Sharpton to fill the 8 p.m. slot that my epiphany happened.

Perhaps the clearest example that the era of Olby was waning at MSNBC came when he felt compelled to bring his college diploma with him to work to prove he earned his degree from Cornell University (if you watch the video, the highlight takes place at the 1:40 mark).

And, now, he managed to irritate executives enough at a network co-founded by Al Gore – of all people – to prompt his latest dismissal.

Karma: she is as unforgiving as she is entertaining.