Archive for the ‘Experiences’ Category

Riots in the streets and pigs on the wing   Leave a comment

17 March 2016 — Bellingham, WA.

So, Donald Trump is threatening riots if he doesn’t get the Republican nomination.

It will happen. I’m sure. I’ve been saying it all along. People in Jerusalem last month asked me what I think is going to happen as a result of the primaries, and invariably I would say, “Riots.” Well, that’s not entirely true. Sometimes I’d say, “Chaos.” But that was the general theme of it.

I firmly believe the powers that be — the conservative hard-core insiders, the ones who refuse to hold hearings for Supreme Court Justice — will also refuse to award Donald Trump the nomination of the Grand Old Party. Just picture a Trump-Kardashian ticket next to the (R) on your ballot. Even Reince Priebus is tweeting  #NeverTrump in fake Twitter profiles. This year (R) might stand for Reality TV, and there’s going to be plenty of it on CNN.

This morning another major development happened, and it seems that indeed pigs can fly, as Lindsey Graham announced he’s throwing an AIPAC fundraiser for Ted Cruz, someone he’s admitted on CNN and elsewhere he doesn’t really like. Calling Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar on the Senate floor doesn’t get you many points. Graham was careful to say that he’s not endorsing Cruz, but that Cruz was the only mainline Republican who has the chance to keep Trump off the ballot.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, the hometown boy, the convention and riots being in Cleveland, is a very dark horse to sneak in under the wire, and only if he wins Pennsylvania or Wisconsin and gets a healthy injection of charisma. If you ask me, Kasich, who’s known to fly off the handle, couldn’t attract the media with free sandwiches and an open bar. He began going negative against Trump today. Watch out – the mud’s flying.

It’s funny. The last time there were real riots at a convention, it was 1968, in Chicago, at the Democratic convention. Now, all the action’s going to be in Cleveland, with the Trump supporters. They have the capacity to go full zoohouse. I don’t want to be within a hundred miles of Cleveland during the Republican Convention. The best seat’s going to be in front of a TV anyway.

But what about Philadelphia?

On the Philadelphia side, the prune-faced screaming banshee has an insurmountable lead over Bernie Sanders, who authored most of her ideas, especially in her last month’s speeches. Saying this is sure to get me branded a blatant sexist, and so be it.

I’ve met Hillary Clinton, in 1991, 1992, and 1996, when I worked for her husband’s campaign in Colorado. She was cordial in the way upper class types condescend to normal everyday people, except when I had to use the bathroom after she just hopped out of the shower (visual: Hillary in a bathrobe and towel) at a Clinton friend’s house during motorcade downtime.

Excuse me if I’m biased, but I’m a child of the sixties: Bernie Sanders holds the emotional torch for the Democrats. His followers haven’t been as loud as the Trump people who want to revolt against the Republican elite. And it remains to be seen if Sanders’ supporters are driven enough to get tough. I can’t imagine a Texas death match between Trump’s people and Sanders’.

But the Sanders people are adamant in their support. My social media feed is full of Bernie stuff from Bernie people, non-stop Bernie stuff, always upbeat. You would think the superdelegates, the Party faithful — I know a lot of them — will turn and feel the Bern like their contemporaries. Will the hard-line Bernie people be as hard-line during and after the Convention?

I’ve come across a lot of older and younger “hippies” who would never think of holding a physical revolution. But I’m sure they’re out there. You wonder if there would actually be an Independent or Third Party Revolution. I’m sure that would cause riots in the leadership offices of both parties.

But that’s what it may come down to for both parties come this summer, so it may be time to start thinking about what might happen in a four-way race between Clinton, Sanders, Trump, and whomever the Republican establishment anoints. Or at least tumbling the idea around in our minds.

For too long, the American public have been complaining about too little choice in Presidential candidates. Maybe this year, we’ll have four to pick from.









The Trip of a Lifetime   Leave a comment

So, my wife and I just returned from our first-ever trip to Israel to attend our older son’s wedding. I’ve shaken off the jet lag, I’m just getting over the airplane flu, but I’m still getting up at two or three in the morning, which is OK because it facilitates texting with overseas friends.

I had a really wonderful time, went through a transcendental kind of change, and had what you might call a couple of personal epiphanies. I’m keeping my experiences separate from my politics, hence the Israel Trip page on the nav bar up top, whereupon you’ll find short paragraphs, vignettes, and observations, with a lighthearted tint.

Please check back on that page from time to time and read an apolitical kind of view of a place that after only a very short time felt like home, and may one day become home, depending on how things go in the next few years.

I’d like to give a special thanks to all the people who enabled this trip of a lifetime on the GoFundMe page we put up, without whom we would never have been able to attend our own son’s wedding. G-D bless all of them, and there were many.



Only a special kind of mother could possibly know this   2 comments

A couple of my most beloved friends lost their baby last week. It was neither totally unexpected nor do I believe was it totally unwelcome, given the other possible outcomes of this tragically ill-fated pregnancy that began on an otherwise magical night in the most #becausefutbol moment of both of their young lives. (If you haven’t seen the ‘maternity ward’ commercial that ran on ESPN during the World Cup, find it on YouTube, then apply it to the NFL.)

This piece is about the mother. The word – mother – doesn’t seem to carry the weight to justify its mass, sitting there on the page, or the monitor, whichever. Less so on the monitor, because the black type means a small array of switches have been set to zero; their circuits have been broken; their value nil.

I would imagine that in a way my friend must somehow feel the same, although God Himself knows she’s got no reason to. She’d spent most of the spring preparing her body; her heart and her nature, her soul if you will, and her mind have always been prepared. She’s been mother material for longer, I’m sure, than the decade or so that I’ve known her. And, to be perfectly honest, we’re so diametrically opposite in just about every way, if we were really close friends, I’m convinced she would hate me. I just love her because she’s always had this aura or something. Maybe she gives off a maternal pheromone; I have no idea.

Other than family, I’ve only met one other woman in my lifetime, really, whom I would describe in those terms. While the one central to this event has been fortunate – she’s always been put on a pedestal by her husband, and rightfully so; the other, not so much — sadly, she was abused by virtually every male who ever got within arm’s reach of her. You wouldn’t know either one’s background by the way they love their children, the way they hold their heads up when they’re with them — their blessings, their treasured gifts. Interestingly, they both have three. I love them both. I just hurt for them in different and indescribable ways.

Now, I need to interject that through the winter, we’d found out my younger son’s wife was pregnant with their first child, a boy, whose gender we found out at an ultrasound the morning after the Super Bowl in February. So I was pretty excited that I was going to be a grandfather for the first time in July, which I did, B”H, on July 7th.

Back to the end of April, when my friend central to this story told me she was pregnant, I had somehow sensed (divined?!) it for no apparent reason, and I was wild with excitement, because I’ve got a sense for that (and earthquakes – don’t ask), and I posted this on my Facebook page:

I’ve been thinking [friend – not named] is pregnant for two full weeks now, and didn’t want to impose by asking her or her husband, who’s also a friend. The last time I had this premonition was this morning, oddly enough in the shower. I wasn’t thinking of her (she’s like a sister, people, come on), but I got that feeling again, and she just confirmed that today, without my having to ask. The oddest thing is, I’ve done that with one of her previous kids. She’s the only person I’ve ever been able to detect twice, but about the 10th-12th person I’ve been able to make the call on just out of thin air.

By the time May came around, I’d expected to hear or see, in the form of a cute Facebook post, what my friends’ baby’s gender was going to be, and I enquired and was told they believed it was a girl, but there were problems and the outlook didn’t look good either way, pending some more tests. I tried to swallow my heart back down. Prayers and requests for same go out immediately, literally around the globe. Older son in Jerusalem to Western Wall, holy sites in Hebron, other friends to mosques and churches….

More painful days of even more painful tests told them their baby had a “not uncommon” (1 in 6000) genetic disorder, and would likely not survive until birth, but a small percentage may live as long as 10-12 years, require 24/7 care and have the mental capacity of an infant. This could have a permanent effect on their family, their three kids would be scarred for life, and they could end up among the least fortunate, God forbid. The kind of stuff that runs through your mind when there’s absolutely not one blessed thing you can do to make any kind of constructive difference….

I was dying to give her the one thing I could, but I couldn’t! It was only a suggestion. The suggestion every single woman I spoke to about this said they would give their daughter, and what they would do themselves! But being a progressive — being in favor of a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body, all I could do was shut my mouth and respect her decision to follow her own beliefs. She’s a smart woman, has graduate degrees; she’s a scientist. She knows her options. But if she follows her beliefs as religiously as she does, with so much conviction, then I have to follow my belief, which is a woman’s right to choose, as religiously as she does hers. What an incredibly difficult real-life test for a confirmed, dyed-in-the-wool, blue-state progressive liberal Democrat from Brooklyn named Levine. I hope I never have to take one like it again.

That aside, I tried to put myself in her place when her husband told me, knowing her child had died inside her, going into the hospital and being induced (as my son’s wife had been just days before), going through I don’t know how much painful sweating, agaonizing labor and having a natural birth (as I witnessed my wife do twice) and knowing that after everything she and her body and soul put into it, there was nothing more than a lifeless body that never breathed the air, a child she loved and now had to bury without ever hearing him cry, I don’t think I could survive something like that. I would be a total and complete wreck. Just give me the needle and don’t take it out. Where on earth does one find the strength?

This is the kind of stuff that a special kind of mother’s character is built on. The heroine doesn’t need a name, she doesn’t need a philosophy or a specific belief or anything, she doesn’t need a background. This is about a woman’s – a mother’s – superhuman strength of mind, body, and character. This goes so deep into the makeup of her character, it is an eye-opening, mind-expanding, cathartic thing for me, as a male, to really sufficiently identify with in any kind of way. All I can do is try to imagine what it must feel like.

Except I can’t.


What’s Left to Prove in Pistorius Case?   11 comments

Streaming AC360 on CNN, waiting for the Pistorius trial to resume in about an hour, and wondering what the muse will hit me across the face with this evening. The latest Cadillac Escalade commercial comes on. The background music is pretty compelling: David Bowie’s “Fame.” Now, I’m not a particular fan of David Bowie – I don’t like his politics – but this particular tune is pretty slick. Great lyrics, some very fitting in this case. So, I click off this window and over to the CNN window, and there’s this shiny white Escalade pulling up in front of a shiny white house that looks spookily similar to Oscar Pistorius’ house. Huh? (Shakes head to ensure he’s not dreaming.)

It happens more often than we think; that we’re doing something, and our attention is distracted by a completely different thing, and then something within that distraction turns out to be somewhere between borderline related to or incredibly poignant given the unrelated thing we were involved in before we were first distracted. The subconscious mind works in strange ways….

Yesterday’s testimony was incredibly boring. I believe the only thing that came out of the entire day was the fact that the front door to Oscar’s house was left almost imperceptibly open. I don’t believe I’d heard anyone testify to that before.

Both daddy and daughter witnesses spun wildly detailed versions of a very simple story, hers slightly different than his. They were very difficult to listen to, and there was no surprise Mr. Nel let them both off pretty easily. All he really needed to do was ask one question to each of the defense witnesses on cross: “And your testimony means…. what…?” Upon receiving a shrug as a reply, I would cut the witnesses free in disgust and called whomever today’s leadoff batter is. Hopefully, he’ll be able to keep me awake past tea….”

— 00:10h PDT 6 May 2014 —

The live television stream from the courtroom doesn’t come on until the witness is already taking questions. The questions are all softballs. Naturally,the husband on the other side of the Pistorius house never did  hear a shot, just “crying,” which the witness described very adeptly as “crying.”

There’s weeping, sobbing, bawling, wailing, howling, all kinds of descriptive words one could use to describe a form of crying, and each has a different facet. This guy never heard of either term, in English or Afrikaans..

The woman describes something she heard  as “a bang sound. There’s no other way to describe the bang than as a bang.”

Not in EITHER language you speak??? Kitchen pots falling on tile make a “bang” sound. A garage door closing on a car makes a “bang” sound too. So does a firecracker. And so does an M-80, and a grenade. But to her, it’s all the same. She describes a bang about as well as her husband describes “crying.”

Are these people totally deficient, or are they lying? Both of them have watched the entire trial, because the whole world is, and they’re his (the defendant’s) neighbors, so of course they’re interested. They were useless; time-fillers.

The next friendly neighbor stated that she woke up to hear someone crying very loud, so loud he could been in her house (questionable analogy), and after waking her husband to see if he heard the screams, which he said he did but thought they happened in a dream, she said she told him  (55:30 mark) “…I thought that maybe a security guard had been shot.”

Curious, since she’d never mentioned hearing a shot, and I can’t imagine one single voice producing more decibels than a 9mm pistol. [Note to self: record witness’ impression of Oscar’s scream for use as ringtone.] For some reason, Nel didn’t catch that; maybe he was as bored as I was, listening to this tedious repetition of stuff we’ve heard so often before.

In the first place, I cannot understand how the people in the two houses next to Pistorius’ failed to hear the gunshots. Four gunshots in a bathroom, with a window open, at 0300 in the morning. Not a one of them. How can anyone take them seriously? They’ve all watched the trial, and they’re all testifying against anyone who said earlier that they’d heard the shots. So, what does that mean? That there was no gun? That Reeva Steenkamp wasn’t all shot up? That Oscar didn’t do it? How is Gerrie Nell letting them get away with this, and why, my lady, is the judge herself not getting involved in silencing these witnesses whose stories are to a great part made up specifically to dispel the prosecution’s case?

I suppose we’ll all get to see what goes down Thursday morning at Zero Dark Thirty Pacific Time, after a round of presumably peaceful elections in South Africa.

Bon Voyage….   2 comments

So, further to Monday’s surprise crisis, and my Facebook post at 3-something in the morning, I had to go down to the hospital today and sign an affidavit, unfortunately, to involuntarily commit her. I wouldn’t have done so had the psych evaluator not told me she was accusing me of having raped and tried to kill her. So, I schlepped my tired ass down to the hospital on about 15 minutes’ notice and swore out an affidavit for Superior Court, and they’re holding her for 72 hours pending (usually) an in-hospital court hearing.

I go to the check-in desk at the hospital, and ask for the person I’d spoken to on the phone, I have a seat across the hallway, and I hear a guy asking for her, so  I go up to introduce myself, and he did the same. Turns out he’s the former boyfriend who, she’d told me, raped her at least five times and he regularly made her go through some ridiculous choreographed sex fantasy or he couldn’t get off.

Why he was there, I have no idea, but I said, “Oh, she told me you raped her five times. She’s only accusing me of raping her once. Think we can split a public defender?” Blank stare. Some people have no sense of humor.

I walk the 200 yards to and from the psych holding area, and sit back down in the waiting lounge. I fill out the affidavit that she went apeshit crazy and had struck me six times and brandished my own crutch at me like it was a bayonet, and the mental health evaluator came out and sat down next to me, and I showed her about ten minutes of video, which I may or may not post here at some time in the near future. For now, it’s evidence.

So, what started out to be a good deed — a service to an ex-friend whose entire flock of lifelong friends had refused to help her in any way — and I end up with 180 pounds of creepy-ass cracker bitch punching me in the ankle, hitting me in the nards, and ramming into my knee like she was LT and I was Joe Theismann. And on top of all that, she falsely accuses me of rape and attempted murder!!!

I go back in after the mental health evaluator sees the video and takes my statement, and I asked her if said delusional beast would agree to see me for a couple of minutes, which I said was kinda odd for someone who’d just been raped and nearly killed, but we all know this cracker is crackers, and she didn’t disappoint. I went in and sat down across the hall from her, and asked her why she accused me of two Class A Felonies, when I was the only one who gave enough of a shit about her fat white ass to offer her 1. a ride to Bellingham to see her shrink today (turns out no appointment  – she talked into his voicemail and acted like she was confirming an appointment. In reality, she hadn’t seen him in over a year); 2. a place to sleep for the night; and 3. relief from her own mother, a nut case in her own right and a major trigger point for her daughter.

So I’m sitting across from her in the hall, and she said, “The firemen (EMTs) said you were going to charge me with assault and wanted to involuntarily commit me.”

“And THAT’s why you accused me of rapiing you and trying to kill you?” I was trying to keep my cool. “Guys have served forty fucking years after being falsely accused of stuff like that. Who says that kind of shit???”

“Well,” and she cocks her head and does what I call the by-polar blink – eyes rolled up, all that. “they said you were going to come down here and sign some papers and something about court.”

“Look you,” I said to her through my clenched teeth, because I didn’t want to show any kind of anger to the hospital people OR their security cameras, “your own goddamn mother wouldn’t get off her ass to help you, and I did, even though we haven’t spoken in months. And as thanks for that, you go on a delusional rage and ram into the fucking knee replacement I’ve been waiting half a fucking lifetime for!!? (I was getting real close to losing it.) You’re goddamn right I did, but I wasn’t going to until you accused me of everything in the book. Why don’t you let them give you a cervical exam or do a rape kit? You fucking liar!

“I just signed a court document that says you physically attacked me, and that’s why I called 911. Oh, and I also gave them ten minutes of video that proves it. So, lose my number and don’t ever fucking call or text me again or I will have you charged with stalking.”

And then I walked out into the clean, crisp autumn air of The Free State of Washington, drove home, and lit up a joint to help me chill.

Did anyone ever pay your kindness back with a flaming bag of dogshit in front of your door? Please comment if the spirit moves you, and follow me on Facebook if you really want some laughs.

Support Patients Against New Approach Washington   Leave a comment

I received the following email from NORML on February 17th and have been in an ongoing conversation with some intern at in Washington, D.C. The kid I’m communicating with sounds like a future congressman. In other words, an apprentice liar.

Following are highlights of the conversation. People should know that WA I-502 is going to HURT legal medical marijuana users, and that NORML is pushing for its passage, which goes against all the principles they supposedly stand for.

Personally, I have no idea what’s driving NORML, but whatever is, I don’t like it. Nor do I have any idea whom he’s referring to at the very bottom of this post, when he refers to “elite billionaires,” and I don’t think he does either. But that doesn’t stop him from praising their efforts.

Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2012 10:57:04 -0500
Subject: Endorsed: NORML Supports Marijuana Legalization Initiative in Washington State

Dear NORML supporters in Washington,

The importance of Washington potentially becoming the first state where the voters send a loud and clear message to both state and federal government “Please end the failed policy of Cannabis Prohibition and  replace it with logical alternative public policies like tax-n-regulate” can’t be overstated.

The in-state organizers of Initiative 502 have done a remarkable job lining up the most formidable, respected and famous citizens in Washington (such as NORML Advisory Board member and best selling author/TV host Rick Steves) as the lead public proponents for this ground-breaking initiative that can most certainly have positive national implications for ending the country’s now 74-year-old Cannabis Prohibition.

Check out the NORML endorsement:

Please become an active supporter of Initiative 502 by visiting the webpage below:

[NAW link removed]

With 50% of the US now supporting cannabis legalization, please help lead the rest of the country out of eight decades of Reefer Madness by passing Initiative 502 this fall in Washington!!

Cannabem liberemus,
-Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director
NORML Washington, D.C.

This was my reply to the bulk email above:

Dear Mr. St. Pierre:

As a licensed medical marijuana patient in Washington State, I have to take major issue with your support of this incredibly unfair initiative. I-502 would also make it illegal to drive with blood THC levels equal to or greater than 5 nanograms per milliliter. Medical marijuana experts are concerned that this will lead to medicinal marijuana users being convicted of DUI despite current legislation giving them the right to drive. I’ve been a supporter of NORML since Frank Fioramonti founded it.

But many legalization advocates are concerned about the impact on authorized medical-marijuana patients of the DUI provision, which defines impairment as 5 nanograms of active THC per ml. in the bloodstream based on 2005 research.

Since THC is stored in body fat, and I’ve unfortunately got plenty of that, I’d still be legally DUI over a week AFTER my last dose! The only way around this would be to go back to opiates like oxycodone or hydrocodone – Percocet or Vicodin – which make me physically ill (unlike mmj) but which are presumably out of my system a lot quicker. That would be stupid and self-destructive. I’m not going back to prescription opioids!

<Blogger’s note: I clipped and pasted the following from a couple of recent articles.>

Although I-502 specifically does not preempt the state medical-marijuana law, activists believe the DUI provision would apply to existing patients.

Dr. Gil Mobley, who runs a Federal Way clinic catering to medical-marijuana patients, said he recently tested several patients and found they passed cognitive tests even with THC concentrations of up to 47 nanograms. Nearly four hours after one patient medicated, they still tested at 6 nanograms.

“I told them they’d be legally unable to drive if this law passes,” said Mobley. “It’s philosophically, morally and legally wrong.” Nora Callahan, who has campaigned for drug-law reform since 1997, said she supports regulating legalized marijuana, but says I-502 would be “continuing prohibition.”

So, given all of the above, I don’t understand why you support this initiative. Can you explain?

I received the following reply from an intern at The NORML Foundation:

Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2012 11:45:49 -0500
Re: Endorsed: NORML Supports Marijuana Legalization Initiative in Washington State


Thanks for contacting NORML and having a keen interest in NORML’s longstanding pro-reform advocacy efforts. [bullshit and doubletalk removed] Your email was forwarded to me for a reply.

NORML’s board, which voted unanimously (13-0; two not present), including two members from Washington… supports I-502 in the same manner that it supported the clearly flawed medical cannabis initiative in WA in 1998…. They, like WA, all have components of their initiatives that are objectionable (and) that has led to Washington having semi-sanctioned medical cannabis dispensaries in one city, but not another….

When initiatives–like the flawed cannabis initiative LeMar in 1972 in CA right straight through to today’s Initiative 502 in WA–substantively reform cannabis laws beyond what otherwise recalcitrant legislatures and the timid judiciary (which largely defers to legislative and executive intent) will deign, it behooves cannabis consumers and other taxpayers alike to support and vote for these reform initiatives.

To the extent there are serious flaws or defects with cannabis law reform initiatives that pass voter muster, activists historically have sought effective relief in amending legislation after the fact. (emphasis added)

Much is the same and expected with WA where state legislators have already crafted legislation addressing the concerns of some activists and consumers regarding DUID standards.

Like many other national cannabis law reform organizations and activists in Washington, NORML readily expressed the concerns it had with the proposed initiative language to the [sic] I-502’s backers. However, just like these other cannabis law reform groups–namely Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, SAFER, Marijuana Policy Project, ACLU; along with NORML’s chapters in WA–national NORML too is supporting WA’s Initiative 502 to substantively reform cannabis laws and therein challenge the federal prohibition.

In conclusion, while supporting the broad intent and substantive reforms created by the passage of Initiative 502, NORML however does not endorse the imposition of per se laws for drivers who test positive for THC or THC metabolites in blood without additional demonstrable evidence of psychomotor impairment. Further, NORML supports amending legislation post the passage of Initiative 502 (emphasis added) to 1) enact legal protections via legislation for those citizens—notably medical cannabis patients—who are most disproportionately at risk of being adversely impacted by such standards, and 2) to allow consumers and patients to privately cultivate cannabis for personal use.

Kind regards, thanks again for your interest and support,

Casey, NORML Foundation intern, Washington, D.C.

And so they revealed their game plan for us (since it doesn’t involve them); specifically to get the bill amended AFTER it passes. He fails to explain what guarantees are in place  until that presumably happens. My reply:

Hi, and thanks for your reply.

That’s what worries me; that I’ll lose the right to grow my own if this passes (until it’s presumably amended), and that I’ll end up in jail for DUI when I can drive circles around most everyone else (I’ve driven in half a dozen Presidential and Vice Presidential motorcades).

I don’t want to get screwed by some overzealous cop who thinks he’s Gil F–king Kerlikowske, the child-killer of the Seattle WTO protests. America’s answer to Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng, the child-killers of Tiananmen Square.

Anyway, whatever they end up doing, there are going to be serious repercussions against the medical marijuana community, whether it’s by taxing, or fining, or prohibition, or some other major life-inconvenience, but that’s our payoff for getting attacked on 9/11, right? I’m so tired of my personal rights being violated, I don’t even get on a goddamn airplane anymore.

This is why I live within walking distance of Canada.

Now, as you can see, I’m beginning to get frustrated with this misinformed little twit who’s probably not even old enough to get an MMJ permit. His answer:

Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2012 10:02:15 -0500
Hello again Mr. Levine,

Thanks for your reply email.

Your fear of medical cannabis, notably cultivation, becoming illegal under I-502 is not founded in the proposal or in the strategy of the organizers.

In fact, the very group of funders and WA activists that brought the medical cannabis initiative in 1998 to WA are the exact same ones trying to pass this initiative.

Do you think they’re trying to undo their previous work?

Hardly. They’re building upon it.

Re the DUID, the state already has a 90% conviction rate on DUID charges. If the initiative passes, what is the real consequence here…an effective 95% rate of conviction.

And for this you’d vote against a legalization initiative that effectively stops the arrests, prosecutions, incarcerations, civil forfeitures and overall harassment of the vast majority of cannabis consumers, be them [sic] for medical or recreational purposes. Also, if the initiative passes, other states will follow suit quickly, and the federal prohibition will continue to be turned on its head.

If I were a WA state resident, including if I was a patient, I’d vote for I-502 as readily as I’ll take my next breath. In my view, the opportunity for serious state reforms in WA and impact on the federal prohibition is too great not to fully embrace. (Blogger’s note: How many different tenses does this kid include in the first sentence? I’m counting three.)

Thanks again and regards, Casey
NF intern

This was my reply to him:

Not too long ago, Christine Gregoire was forced by the feds to back off issuing business licenses for dispensaries in WA. These people can’t even use a bank account anymore. There are millions of dollars in cash floating around, AND we undoubtedly lost some of our legitimate tax base. So the feds drove the dispensaries underground, at least as far as being a legal entity is concerned, by threatening State workers with federal crimes.

Further to the tax base, I don’t want to see a 25% tax every time a plant changes hands. Grower to distributor, distributor to dispensary, dispensary to customer. Three 25% taxes (whether or not they’re cumulative) is insane unless the prices are controlled. Which we also don’t want to see. (Blogger’s note: Here I cut & pasted directly from I-502.)

NEW SECTION. Sec. 27. (1) There is levied and collected a
marijuana excise tax equal to twenty-five percent of the selling price
on each wholesale sale in this state of marijuana by a licensed
marijuana producer to a licensed marijuana processor or another
licensed marijuana producer. This tax is the obligation of the
licensed marijuana producer.
(2) There is levied and collected a marijuana excise tax equal to
twenty-five percent of the selling price on each wholesale sale in
this state of useable marijuana or marijuana-infused product by a
licensed marijuana processor to a licensed marijuana retailer. This
tax is the obligation of the licensed marijuana processor.
(3) There is levied and collected a marijuana excise tax equal to
twenty-five percent of the selling price on each retail sale in this
state of useable marijuana and marijuana-infused products. This tax
is the obligation of the licensed marijuana retailer, is separate and
in addition to general state and local sales and use taxes that apply
to retail sales of tangible personal property, and is part of the
total retail price to which general state and local sales and use
taxes apply.
(4) All revenues collected from the marijuana excise taxes imposed
under subsections (1) through (3) of this section shall be deposited
each day in a depository approved by the state treasurer and
transferred to the state treasurer to be credited to the dedicated
marijuana fund.
(5) The state liquor control board shall regularly review the tax
levels established under this section and make recommendations to the
legislature as appropriate regarding adjustments that would further
the goal of discouraging use while undercutting illegal market prices.

You’re probably right about medical users being able to cultivate. From my research, it seems only recreational users are prohibited from cultivating. But I’m not a lawyer. Do I understand correctly that for medical users, the personal possession and cultivation limits are to be unchanged from the present RCW 69.50 et al? (Blogger’s note: the little shit didn’t even address this question.)

As for the ridiculous, unscientifically-based, and completely arbitrary blood-content limit, it’s easy for you to be so flip about it because you’re not in my shoes. The new limit will mean that every time I drive my car, I’ll be committing an arrestable offense. This is the WORST part of this ill-advised and sloppily-written law.

What we REALLY need is shitheads like Gil Kerlikowske out of the business of busting harmless marijuana smokers; and we need to get the goddamn FDA, DEA, WTF-ever, to DECLASSIFY marijuana, because it has NOTHING in common with addictive, destructive opiates.

So, this time I WAS pissed off, but here was his reply, which I read this morning:

Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2012 17:40:01 -0500

The primary reason why most all Governors back off from the feds is because it is still a violation of the CSA and International Treaties to sell govt-sanctioned, regulated and controlled cannabis (unless it is highly controlled for medical use). No words have changed re cannabis in the CSA since the inception in 1970. Indeed, in some parts of the country people’s attitudes, along with economic conditions nationally, have created an amazing patchwork of grey are laws (ie, despite clearly being against both state/federal laws, King County is mostly allowing retail sales…at the same time cities on the eastern slope, like Spokane, retail access to medical cannabis is still aggressively prohibited).

Geography is the biggest contributing factor, right down to the neighborhood, that largely determines if retail medical cannabis is ‘legal [sic] or not.

Thankfully, policymakers in other states (CO, NM, ME and AZ), sometimes overriding their Governors’ concerns, have effectively challenged the feds to stop them from taxing and regulating medical cannabis.

NORML’s staff thinks the real legal Armageddon is if and when the feds go after one of these current medical cannabis retail states, or, subsequently a legalization initiative state like WA/CO/CA (the states most likely to pass a ‘legalization’ initiative first).

This has not happened yet, but seems inevitable, again, with no changes in federal law being made by the Congress that technically only allows 5 patients to be in a closed federal program (Compassionate IND) that provides them 300 joints per month, 15 CSA Schedule I researchers and law enforcement (who, when deputized and acting in accordance with the law, are made immune from CSA laws), meaning that other than these very small communities, no one else in America can even touch cannabis.

So every dispensary in WA, and in all other states—blessedly good for humanity as they are–are demonstrably illegal under the still controlling CSA.

So, at some point, absent major legal changes to the CSA by Congress (and none currently are politically viable or supported by either party), it looks like some state sooner than later is taking a legal rocket ride to SCOTUS. (Blogger’s note: How fucking insane!!! The radical right-wing activist Supreme Court is, as a group, more dangerous to our individual rights than the Republican-controlled Congress.)

Re the DUID, NORML has already written and submitted the amending legislation at the behest of WA legislators Dickerson and Welles. If I-502 passes, amending legislation will very likely pass and be signed into law.

All of these cannabis law voter initiatives are flawed in one form or another, for one reason or another, but after the ‘big’ work to get through the Prohibition Rubicon is done by the people—as compared to timid policymakers—then what if any important details can be addressed by concerned parties in later legislation, that both amends and affirms the major changes achieved.

Indeed, medical cannabis users should not feel too much of a [sic] overtly negative impact save for potentially those charged with DUID pre-amending legislation, and youthful medical cannabis users, who could face harsher penalties if they can’t prove their medical approval.

If NORML had funded and written the initiative, virtually none of this contentious stuff would be in it, but, ironically, ALL of the pro-reform initiatives since 1996, including WA’s, have been funded by elite billionaires who choose NOT to work with (or fund) grassroots organizations like NORML.

Casey, NF intern

Memories of the World Trade Center   Leave a comment

The first time I walked into the World Trade Center was on a snowy Lincoln’s Birthday in 1977. Half the City didn’t go to work that day, but I had a job interview, and I wasn’t about to blow an opportunity to work in those shining towers that meant as much to New York as the Rocky Mountains do to Colorado and Mt. Rainier does to Seattle.

I met with a fellow named Sam Zekser, the Import Manager. I apologized for my ridiculous rubber snow boots, but he told me how much he appreciated my shlepping in on a day when most of New York stayed home and they were closed anyway because Customs was off. (Score one for me!)

The office was huge. It took up a full quarter of the 16th floor, facing uptown — the direction the first plane came from — and the place was mostly empty. He ushered me into a conference room, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to take my coat off.

He brought in two pencils, a few sheets of xerox paper, and a calculator. And he wrote out maybe a dozen math questions as he sat across the table from me. I read them upside-down as he was writing them out, and solved them all in much less time than it took him to write them down. He hired me on the spot, and I started the next day.

The job was classifying imported items from a huge tariff book, figuring out the duties payable to Customs, and filling out the Customs entry documents. The office consisted mostly of Cubans and other Latin-Americans, all very legal immigrants, and from a dozen different countries.

I worked on a team with three other guys: Gil Casas was my supervisor – he was a short, thin guy in his 50s, and he taught me the mechanics of the business; a fellow named Bernie something, a Jewish guy from Brooklyn, who grumbled and growled all day between having telephone arguments with Customs inspectors, but who was able to classify almost any item you would ever see imported into this country without looking in the 1400-page tariff book; and Mario Garcia, a former political prisoner from Cuba who learned chess in prison, became an International Grandmaster, and swam shark-infested Guantanamo Bay to freedom after a match against a visiting team from Russia.

He and Gil would play two games sometimes after lunch, taking just seconds between moves. Mario was in his late 40s, looked like 60, and he had an accent like the guy in the Dos Equis commercial. “Stay thirsty, my friend” sounds like something Mario would say.

Once lunch hour ended, Mario would start off the afternoon with a hearty, “Let’s maaaake entry, boys!” which always made the girls in the office giggle, and in turn always had us four guys laughing. He and I would often ride the Number 7 train home together – he got off in Jackson Heights, and I stayed until Main Street, the end of the line, in Flushing.

Another guy I worked with, Richard Pencak, a 6’5″ 300-pounder who everyone lovingly called Bigfoot, later wrote the book (literally – two of them) on how to become a Customhouse Broker. He was on a par with Bernie. They used to have long discussions about Customs Regulations, and thanks to all those guys, I learned a business that would take me from New York to Denver and around the world, and then to Seattle. (As I was researching this story just now, I learned that Richie died just over a year ago, at 56. Too damn young.)

Sam, the guy who hired me resigned on the first day of my second week on the job to open a company of his own. He was replaced by a guy named Billy Sullivan, who kept me on and promoted me a couple of months later. When Sam left, Richie became Billy’s assistant. Another guy I worked with for a short time there won five million dollars in the New York State Lottery, took a limo in the next day, and offered to buy the company. They refused, so he went to the Customs office and turned in his license.

I worked at that company for a little over a year, during which our team cleared a lot of high-profile stuff. I wrote one of the first landed-cost programs for Macy’s, which started me on a second career; Gloria Vanderbilt visited our office once – we cleared her designer jeans, and Jordache’s too; we cleared the King Tut exhibit when it first came to the U.S.; we cleared the former Shah’s son after he fled Iran; a piano for Elton John, who played a private party at Windows on the World; and a very expensive Steinway that belonged to Leopold Stokowski, whose original death certificate had to be presented to Customs with the documentation to avoid paying duties. The guy in the Fine Arts Department who did the entry secretly kept the original after it cleared, and blamed its loss on the Customs people. (I’ve kept that secret for 35 years, until now.)

Since I was just 22 when I started working downtown, I had plenty of wild little experiences in the five years I worked there, and since it was the 1970s, a lot of them had to do with getting stoned:

My friend and I were in the final scene of the King Kong remake. It was done over a weekend, at 3:00 AM on Saturday and Sunday and most of the crowd was drunk or stoned or both, including a few of the “soldier” extras. We smoked a joint as Jessica Lange climbed up on the dying motorized gorilla.

One fine lunch hour, a bunch of U.S. Customs officers in a van made me eat a lit joint right across the street from the north entrance to their building. Luckily, (a) they didn’t bust me; and (b) Customs was the most prepared of all government agencies on 9/11, because they’d drawn up evac plans after the 1993 bombing. Every last person in the New York Customs Headquarters at the World Trade Center got out alive. That was the only really good news to come in the days after.

A messenger I worked with — I can’t remember the company — guy named Henry something, used to like to get high in the sub-basement levels. We went as far as the 5th underground level once, if my memory is accurate. After I moved to Denver at the end of 1983, I didn’t think about it for 10 years.

Then, in 1993, I was in my hotel room in Taipei, ready to check out and come home, when CNN International reported that the WTC had been bombed. As my colleagues came to take me to the airport for my flight home, I watched about a half-hour of the coverage, and then I had to catch the worst return flight I was ever on — 11 hours of only knowing that the World Trade Center had been bombed, and people had been injured, but unable to get any details of what I would be flying home to.

The World Trade Center — I refuse to call it Ground Zero — was a pretty fantastic place to see, and a great place to work at. I was young and it was beautiful. I loved it. And now it’s gone, and I refuse to go back.

I took a trip to Long Island a few years ago to attend my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah, and we flew into and out of Islip (thank you, Southwest Airlines), because if we flew into any of the three major New York airports, we would likely overfly lower Manhattan, and I didn’t want to see the gigantic scar on my City.

Today I’m very thankful for U.S. Navy Seal Team Six and Barack Obama and all of our troops, and everyone who had anything to do with killing bin Laden and feeding his dead ass to the sharks. To know that some carnivorous lower life form has long since shit him out to the bottom of the ocean is almost enough payback for me personally.

But ten years have gone by since that awful day, and we’ve got to demand that America bring our troops home from Afghanistan and leave that damned wasteland for good. And we have to vow, as a nation, never to elect a total fucking incompetent like George W. Bush again. He should have left right after 9/11, on the planes that he arranged as getaway vehicles for the Saudi royals and bin Laden relatives.


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