April 21, 2013
Wars: their Causes and ConsequencesAlthough the theory that a slow evolutionary process eventually produced the human brain is disputed by many and may even be unknown to a majority of living humans, the evidence supporting Darwinian evolution is compelling for those with the requisite educational and scientific background. In that connection, we now believe that our brains are the principal result of that process and the secret of our species' dominance over other life forms, as well as the "most complicated machine" in the universe.
World War Two is considered by most historians to have been an almost obligatory sequel to World War One which- in turn- grew out of a family squabble between hereditary European Monarchs, many of whom were related to Queen Victoria and apparently unprepared for the sustained carnage that would begin just weeks after a 19 year-old Bosnian Serb anarchist assassinated Archduke Ferdinand and his Duchess in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914.
Political assassinations have radically altered human history, at least since Julius Caesar was murdered by Roman Senators. In more recent times the killings of Lincoln, Ghandi, Martin Luther King and the two Kennedy brothers have had significant consequences.
We humans can be murderous when prompted by political or religious disagreements; although loathe to admit it, our emotions can also provoke humans into crimes against humanity, for which designated losers are punished in whatever way the winners may decide.
It's an unpleasant fact that America's two longest running wars: those against "drugs" and "terror," have provoked our "Justice" Department into holding suspected terrorists in Guantanamo without charges for years, while our military executes others with drone aircraft on the basis of mere suspicion.
We also recently violated the sovereignty of a supposed "ally" to kill a designated war criminal, an operation authorized by a President who once studied Constitutional Law at Harvard where he was President of the Law Review.
Ironically, last week's post marathon drama in Boston was clearly a remote effect of the rage easily re-ignited in the Balkans in 1989 by a single speech given by Slobodan Milosovich on June 28th, the 75th anniversary the 1914 assassination of Archduke Ferdinand that had triggered World War One.
For all our highly evolved intelligence and the impressive array of our recent scientific accomplishments, we seem to be struggling just to survive.
Is there an answer? Even more importantly, is there a way out?
April 11, 2013
Why is Cannabis Still illegal? Ask Obama.The campaign for alcohol Prohibition was created by an amalgam utopians, mostly female, who had come to believe that banning commerce in alcohol via Constitutional Amendment would keep working husbands and fathers from hanging out in saloons, spending money on alcohol, and thus neglecting their families. With the help of a small number of like-minded power brokers like Wayne B. Wheeler, evangelist Billy Sunday, and others, their female-dominated movement scored the first-ever "single issue" victory in a national referendum in 1918; two years before women were even allowed to vote.
The high hopes of its sponsors were soon dashed however; the ban on alcohol was almost immediately followed by a series of unwelcome consequences: bootlegging, violent criminal competition, rampant police corruption, and a surge in underage drinking. The failure of the "Noble Experiment" also exposed some unpleasant human weaknesses: our collective desire for profits tends to trump our best intentions; especially if enforced through the criminal code. Thus a wise society should probably keep its criminal prohibitions to a minimum; relying instead on a well educated, productively employed population to minimize the need for coercive policing. In that connection, the human weaknesses of police themselves make it critically important that Law Enforcement officers be well educated, highly motivated, and carefully monitored.
Perhaps no policy on Earth better illustrates the need for those principles than the "war on drugs" America has foisted off on the world through UN Treaty since passage of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970.
Since then we have completely ignored the most important single lesson that should have learned from the failure of the Eighteenth Amendment: that criminal prohibition of a desired commodity leads to social disaster. Despite all our advantages in wealth and power, we now rank among a global leaders in crime and incarceration. Ironically, we are also the principal market for products US Attorneys General have placed on "Schedule One" of Nixon's feckless CSA.
Even more ironically, it took only 14 years for failure of the Eighteenth Amendment to be acknowledged, but we are still burdened by a failing drug war over forty years after passage of Nixon's folly in 1970.
While there are many complex reasons for that discrepancy, perhaps the most important is that Nixon created his own police force to enforce the CSA and the inevitable failure of the policy it's unable to enforce continues to scare our distracted body politic into accepting that failure.
Most ironically of all, the drug that at the top of the DEA's list of failures is cannabis and we now have a President who undoubtedly benefited from his own illegal toking, but is either too dumb, distracted, or dishonest to cop to it.
I know he's not dumb. Thus I'm hoping someone with access to the Presidential ear will remind him that he was raised by a single mother before he completely alienates the Muslim world with drone executions.
No one ever said being a US President was easy, but further infuriating an implacable enemy is not a good idea. It's also not a good idea to think you can get away with such glaring hypocrisy for another three years.
April 01, 2013
How a Chain of Unexpected Events Became Nixon's Revenge1946 was the first full year of peace after World War Two; it also marks the beginning of an 18 year "Baby Boom," the largest single generation in History; children who would eventually mature as the Sixties counter culture in the US and Europe.
Tragically, just about the time the youngest boomers were discovering "reefer," two other unexpected events recurred: Richard Nixon was elected US President in 1968 and Harry Anslinger's Marijuana Tax Act was declared unconstitutional by the Warren Court in 1969.
Because Nixon was being pressured by the youthful counterculture to end the war in Vietnam, he set a high priority on restoring the illegal status of "Marijuana" as soon as possible, almost certainly to punish his young adversaries.
His solution was the Draconian Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970. To give it teeth, Nixon created the DEA by Executive Order in 1973. The DEA, like any bureaucratic agency will resist its own demise with every weapon it possesses; ditto NIDA, the agency Nixon created with another EO in 1964 to guard CSA's intellectual flank.
In the past 40 years, they have done their jobs well; the DEA has spread over the globe and convinced the world that, despite its many failures, an expensively losing drug war is less to be feared than "addiction" and NIDA, with considerable help from Psychiatry, has slanted "peer-reviewed" medical literature towards supporting Nixon's revenge.
Many of the youthful modern pot smokers I see in compliance with Proposition 215 have never heard of Harry Anslinger and are only vaguely aware of Nixon's role in the drug war (several blame Ronald Reagan).
Even though I have opposed it since the Nineties, I didn't understand the full extent of the damage done by Nixon's drug war until Proposition 215 allowed me to take histories directly from its victims.
I will have more to say about that in the next entry.