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Monday, April 19, 2010

I Don’t Believe What I Just Saw

The signature line from the legendary announcer Jack Buck couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to describing my experience while bracketing Jerry Brown at the California Democratic convention this past weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The Democratic Party is supposed to be the party of “diversity” and “tolerance”, but it certainly didn’t feel that way as I waded through the sea of Democrats with a huge JerryLand.org (coming soon) poster along with three incarnations of the career politician Jerry Brown.

I could not and still can’t believe what I saw at the CDC… a complete lack of enthusiasm, ardor or concern for real issues that affect everyday people and more importantly, I can’t believe that Democrats are using the same tired and insincere rhetoric. Everything at the convention just seemed manufactured (except Jerry’s speech, which is always unpredictable and unintelligible) and out of touch, so what I tried to find out from the crowd leaving the main auditorium is which Jerry Brown is running for governor and will he ever take a stance on anything?

Do you think the Democrats tolerated any of that? Hardly. Supposedly I have the right to express my opinions respectfully to encourage healthy debate but the Democrats weren’t having it. Instead I was called ignorant, shoved around in the crowd, and even challenged to a fight by a woman who had to be in her 70’s. Judging by the press accounts, this is the only time Democrats at this convention were sincerely passionate about anything.

What is wrong with asking a candidate for governor to take a stance on an issue? What is wrong with asking for specific solutions? Those are serious questions that deserve serious answers. I couldn’t find a serious answer to any of my concerns the whole time. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more unbelievable the California Democratic Party Chairman was quoted as saying the secret to getting the youth to vote in November was legalizing pot.

Like I said before, I don’t believe what I just heard.

So I guess California’s failing economy isn’t a good enough reason for people to come out to vote? Solving unemployment isn’t good enough either? No, their Get Out The Vote solution is…pot.

Think about that for a second…

If Jack Buck were still alive, I am not sure how he would have responded to that.

Fortunately there is one thing I do believe; Republicans are offering real solutions. Republicans aren’t placing their hopes on a mind altering drug. Republicans take their constituency far more seriously than to say something as outlandish as what the California Democratic Party Chair said this weekend. And if the Democrats hold true to form it looks like I will be shaking my head in disbelief until Election Day.

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Back to Reality

Somewhere along the lines of strong rhetoric, economic promises, and wishful thinking, marijuana is now the miraculous solution to the already long list of miserable policies that plague Californians. There is a serious disconnect with reality here. Let me spell it out clearly...marijuana is a mind altering drug.

Proponents of legalized marijuana will readily point to its seldom used medicinal purposes and to its potential to be a revenue creator; California proposition 215 also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, allows patients with a valid doctors recommendation to cultivate marijuana use, since then Oakland has become the first U.S. city to put a tax on the drug which estimates put at $300,000 to $1,000,000 annually in revenue back into the city.

These arguments look good on paper, but in reality, the massive expansion of drug use is not the way to go.

I grew up in South Central Los Angeles (now known as South L.A.), a place filled with rampant drug abuse, urban decay and gang violence. 88th and Hoover. I remember it like it was yesterday, drug dealers destroying the community, territorial gang wars, and late night western movie like shootouts fueled by the very same substance that proponents of this initiative are trying to make available to everyone.

How could my father ever tell me that doing dope was bad, and that they have peripheral effects that can change the direction of my life for the worse if the state of California is endorsing it? How could my mother tell me not to partake in an activity that in some shape or form may cause the reckless endangerment of people? Does that sound extreme? Yes. However, it was my reality for a long time, and it still is for many people living in inner cities throughout the state of California.

My father would constantly warn drug dealers throughout the neighborhood that their cavalier attitude laced with gang violence and drug abuse would lead to peril. I watched my father tell a young man by the name of Dwight to leave the drug house alone, and that if he didn’t it would be his final resting place. Dwight thought that marijuana use was no big deal and that there wasn’t any connection to the other drugs he was involved with. A mere three hours later while Dwight was in the middle of a drug transaction, some gang members drove by in a Cadillac with tinted windows and laced Dwight with bullets. Dwight was only 19 and he died right where my father predicted he would.

Do we still want to accept moral relativism?

As young as 11 years old, I was solicited to use drugs and marijuana. I am not sure that those who favor decriminalizing marijuana have witnessed students ditch class and throw away their education because of drug use. I can recall sitting through countless D.A.R.E. presentations in the third grade. Why? Because the problem is that serious. Students would regularly come to campus with nickel bags of weed laced with other strong hallucinogens.

The countless murders, the lunch time fights, the gang warfare; it all starts with that very same gateway drug. We expect the people who engage in this reckless behavior to all of sudden become responsible citizens? Get real...

Do you seriously expect a drug dealer to give up their income? That is laughable. You'd literally have to be smoking to come to that conclusion. Drug dealers will only move to harder drugs. I can only ponder what direction such a course of action would take us considering that universal health care is now the law. We would be sending a message to our inner city youth saying, "Hey, smoke your life away, but don't worry, we'll pay for you to eventually kill yourself”. Ridiculous.

Am I saying that all people who smoke weed are doomed to a miserable life, and that there aren't any medicinal purposes? No. I am saying that there are far better ways to support the government, and the legalization of marijuana should not be on that list. Out of all the dope smokers in the inner city that I grew up with, I can say with 100% confidence that not one of them furthered their education, not one of them have contributed meaningfully back to society.

Is this the type of behavior that we want California to condone? Do we really want to expand these problems to a statewide level? It's just not worth it.

Proponents assume that making marijuana legal will inexplicably lead to drug dealers buying it wholesale from the government. No. Drug dealers, like they do now, will always beat the system. Where I grew up, they were always one step ahead of the police and the government, and my fear is that this legislation will turn that 'step' into a colossal leap.

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