I Married a Politician from Outer Space

See? Look, when the light over the podium hits him just right! You missed it? You couldn’t see that horrid face under the human mask? Are you blind?

There are creatures among us, hate to break it to you. They look like us, they move like we do, they even eat and drink our food, but they aren’t human…they can’t be; no real person could say and do the things they do.

We call them ‘politicians.’

I got to thinking about this recently while watching a favorite old science fiction film, I Married a Monster from Outer Space…the inspiration for the title of this piece. It’s not as well known as its contemporary, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but I’ve got a soft spot for it. It doesn’t boast the best acting and its special effects are primitive by today’s standards, but it has its moments. The film’s plot is a recurrent one we’ve seen many times in movies; aliens have come to Earth either to take over or steal our resources (in ‘Monster’ they’re after Earth women to breed with since all of theirs have died) and dupe the locals by assuming human guise, in this case by occupying their bodies. How this is done isn’t made clear, but we know the facade isn’t perfect: on the night of their honeymoon, Bill The Alien is standing on the balcony of their apartment watching as a thunderstorm approaches. His human bride, Marge, is elsewhere, so luckily for her (or perhaps unluckily) she misses the unpleasant sight of Bill’s ugly alien visage becoming suddenly visible as lightning flashes nearby. What makes this scene exceptionally  creepy, of course, is that we know he’s about to join Marge in the bedroom to consummate their marriage. No dialogue directly states this, but in typical Fifties style, it’s discreetly made clear what’s about to happen.

Later in the film, we find that the offworlders are absorbing more men of the town, using them to seal it off from snooping outsiders. They barricade the roads with co-opted maintenance workers, control the individual members of the populace with co-opted police, and their operatives ensure that no long distance telephone calls can be made, incoming or outgoing. “All the lines are busy,” the faceless operators repeat endlessly.

What a useful metaphor for politicians, their bureaucratic apparatchiks, and their muscled enforcers in uniform! True, I’ll grudgingly admit that there aren’t really any aliens (though some folks persist in believing there are), but they sure do act like the Andromedans in the movie; marauding control freaks who care little for any humans or even animals that get in the way of their designs, casually killing whenever the urge is upon them.

In our time, the politicians have much loftier ambitions. They claim the monopoly on force, both domestically and abroad. With the myriad of taxes on every human activity or transaction, it’s clear they believe they are the owners of all of the fruits of our labors, save whatever fraction of our earnings they deem it acceptable for us to keep. Not content with simply laying claim to our money, we’re often told what we can and can’t spend those earnings on. We must obtain permission from our masters to use our own property as we see fit, and if some agency doesn’t agree with our choice of action, well, that’s just too bad. The politicians dictate to us what sorts of fixtures we are allowed to have in our homes (the ‘low-flow’ toilet requirement being one notorious example), and even the humble incandescent light bulb can’t escape their clutching fingers. I could go on almost endlessly, the politicians in their endless hubris have a Plan for micromanaging  every aspect of our lives, from the cars we drive to the food we eat, but there’s no need to catalog them all. It’s abundantly clear to anyone with even a shred of ability to think independently that ‘freedom’ in the United States is now considered a quaint and outmoded concept.

In some cases the hubris of those whose hands are upon the levers of power can be frightening. A prime example of this is evidenced by a quote from Ron Suskind, writing for the New York Times Magazine in October 2004, relates a statement from a senior adviser to George W. Bush: “The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.’”

How on earth did this situation come about? While there are any number of specific reasons, I believe it boils down to a combination of just a few significant factors.

First, we as a nation are seeing the results of more than a century of mandatory public schooling. It has failed, many say, pointing to the vast numbers of young peoples unable to read, write, or understand basic mathematics. We observe with sorrow their vacuousness, their nihilism, their lack of motivation and wonder where the spirit that once made this country great at one time has gone.

What we’re overlooking is the fact that most of those ills are evidence that the compulsory education inflicted on people for all these years is working exactly as it was designed: to stamp out good little worker bees assembly-line fashion who’ll toil away their lives, never questioning their place and always doing as they’re told.

The few who exhibit the ability to think creatively, the nonconformists, the misfit square pegs…in short, the very sort of people most likely to have the spirit and inherent smarts needed to be the innovators, the thinkers, the inventors and entrepreneurs we so desperately need to make our country prosperous and successful again…mostly have those qualities squashed out of them by the gnashing gears of the machine by the time they reach adolescence. The fraction remaining who survive this ordeal unscathed are routinely ushered into obscurity by the various traps the elites in control have set in their paths to ensure failure; the stifling hyperregulation, the taxes and the penalties…including prison…that await those with the the audacity to buck the tide. The Steve Jobs’, Sam Waltons and Oprah Winfreys of this world do sometimes miraculously succeed despite the system, but I have no doubt their numbers would be vastly increased were it not for the impediments foisted upon people that begin at the earliest ages.

As I’ve stated, the educational system in place was intentionally and very cynically designed long ago to produce these results, starting with the establishment of the Prussian education system of the nineteenth century, brought to this country by the Progressives of the early twentieth, and nurtured by the likes of Horace Mann and John Dewey. For those interested in a comprehensive view of this massive scheme, I suggest a thorough study of the writings of John Taylor Gatto, a preeminent scholar and at one time the most highly awarded public school teacher in New York, who had an epiphany around 1991 and abandoned the system, vowing that he no longer wished to “hurt kids to make a living.”

Second, as befell many other civilizations that have preceded our own, our success was also partially to blame for our own undoing. Simply put, we’ve gotten lazy and complacent. We’ve got our plasma TVs, American Idol to watch on them, and Ipads and Ipods for when we’re away from the house. Combine that with the lack of ability for creative thought and craving for instant gratification courtesy of the public school institutional training, and you get a whole lot of people turning into professional couch potatoes, docile and complacent. Between this and the fact that one in six Americans are now dependent on government assistance, it certainly seems we’re doing our best to copy the ‘bread and circuses’ policies of the failed Roman Empire. When you take into account the aforementioned inability of most people to think analytically thanks to our dumbed-down public education system, it seems unlikely that this situation will change except for the worse in the foreseeable future.

Third, and at least as troubling is the fear factor. We’ve already seen peaceful protesters, manhandled, assaulted and pepper sprayed by police. If history is any guide, the next step will be summary executions of those who step out of line. Hopefully there is sufficient residual morality of an older America remaining that this won’t become commonplace any time soon…but given the ever-increasing militarization of the nation’s police, it’s difficult to have much confidence behind that hope.

What gets me is how obvious it seems that these people, who the public trusts to act in its best interests, are so often behaving in ways that are inimical to those best interests. Watching them smiling woodenly, smirking, glad-handing their audiences at public appearances, I want to grab their supporters and demand to know how they can consent to these critters’ rule over us. Their insincerity, their smug assurance that their self-serving, destructive behavior will not only be able to run unchecked, but is encouraged by so many of my countrymen and -women, is downright maddening.

In another fun aliens-masquerading-as-humans film from 1988, They Live, the decidedly ugly aliens hide their identities from the humans by means of a mysterious beam, more efficient than the Andromedans’ need to take over bodies individually in I Married a Monster from Outer Space, that causes their appearance to mimic humans’.  The genuine humans can defeat the beam by wearing special sunglasses, and the scene in which the protagonist dons a pair for the first time and sees himself surrounded by hideous aliens is a memorable one. Later, the band of human Good Guys manages to destroy the beam projector, ruining the aliens’ plan for global conquest by enabling all humans to finally see them properly, their horrified screams assuring their deliverance from the alien usurpers’ clutches.

I find this a splendid example demonstrating the concept described by the French philosopher Étienne de La Boétie in his work “The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude,” written in 1553, of the effect of the body of people nonviolently withdrawing their consent to a tyrant’s rule:

Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.

I’m aware it’s a gross oversimplication of the situation we face, that it’s not possible to reduce the uncountable machinations and manipulations needed to convince a country to trust a despot or despots with the reins of power as we have to one easy factor, but I often find myself wishing for a couple of container loads full of those magic sunglasses to hand out…perhaps when the shrieking had died down we all might find we’d won a divorce from those evil entities we’ve allowed ourselves to be shackled to.

©2016 by Glenn Horowitz, republished from the original that appeared in the American Daily Herald 2011-2012

Dumberer and Dumberest

Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not yet completely sure about the universe. -Albert Einstein

Not long ago I came across something that leaped out and smacked me in the face with its significance, the sort of idea that’s unique not only for its elegantly simple presentation, but for the vast scope it covers. I’ve been familiar with and considered it for years,  but paradoxically I’d never actually defined for myself nor explored in terms of its practical effects in a larger view. Oh, there’s no doubt that I’m a latecomer to this party…plenty of people know about it, I just wasn’t one of them until recently.

I’m referring to the Dunning-Kruger effect, the hypothesis detailing ‘a cognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to recognize their mistakes.’  Fair enough, it’s hardly a secret that not-so-bright people don’t realize that they’re not so bright. They tend to perform tasks badly, and being unaware of their poor performance, never catch on to the whys and wherefores of that poor performance and never learn from their mistakes…which leads with very few exceptions to their becoming enmeshed in a vicious circle of mediocrity in all kinds of areas.

I confess that like many other people who’ve also come to the same conclusion, in my microcosm it I’d always thought it sufficient to be able to recognize such people as mere obstructions in life, but reading  Dunning and Kruger’s work on the subject has been a sharp reminder for me that simply working around the incompetent is not enough.

Whys? Easy enough to answer: there are so many of them out there, and their numbers seem to be rapidly increasing.

It’s important to keep in mind that I’m not talking about universal incompetence; if that were the case literally nothing would ever get done and never would have. At the risk of stating the terribly obvious, people are relatively smart and adaptive creatures and we wouldn’t have achieved the level of development we enjoy as a species if most of us were simply stupid. Nonetheless, it’s becoming obvious that in America at least, we took a wrong turn somewhere, that as a people, we’ve stagnated in our progress. Worse, our nation is rapidly devolving into a de-industrialized and authoritarian State that bears little resemblance to the country it was a hundred years ago. Warts and all, we used to be a country that understood liberty better than others, we were innovative and strove for change for the better. One thing’s for certain: our forbears were not the status quo loving, insecure lot we are today, fearful of change or anything that’s perceived as a threat to our oh-so-precious safety.

I’m talking about the sort of  targeted and specific incompetence that took over a hundred years of patient direction to achieve, primarily through public education. Not surprisingly, the culprit has been none other than our old nemesis, The State.

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, America bought into the idea that along with industrialization and the mass production of goods that had been so successful in manufacturing things in recent years, it would be just dandy to mass produce educationand indoctrination…in people as well. The Prussians had recently developed this method of mandatory public education, and like many of the authoritarian nationalist schemes of that era it seemed like a pretty good idea to fledgling central planners everywhere. The climate in the US at that point of rising xenophobia and the desire for uniformity in public thought helped set the stage for Progressives like Wilhelm Wundt, John Dewey, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller (among others) to promulgate the collectivist and Statist objectives of their brand of enforced public education, and history shows that they were successful beyond their wildest dreams.

If you’re not familiar with it, the Prussian system was a teaching methodology designed to stamp out good little worker bees assembly-line fashion, trained to be complacent with their station in life and compliant with every demand of the State. An elite of those better educated but still proven unquestioningly loyal to the State were promoted to lead the proletariat, rewarded with elevated status and material success commensurate with their skills and the zeal they demonstrate in supporting the system. It specifically avoided developing creativity and independent thought, reasoning these were skills the worker classes didn’t need in their roles as mass produced labor.

It’s an intricate but fascinating story in a grim Machiavellian way, and thanks to the efforts of revisionist scholars in recent years, it’s available online to anyone interested in learning about it. There are two sources I can recommend that I believe excel at communicating  the history of collectivist indoctrination in a comprehensive manner: the works of John Taylor Gatto and Charlotte Iserbyt.

John Taylor Gatto was a highly regarded public school teacher in New York City up until 1991, when while still the current New York State Teacher of the Year, he decided he’d had enough. Quitting teaching, he devoted himself to educational reform thereafter, stating explicitly that he was no longer willing to hurt children. He is the author of several books on the subject of education, multimedia projects, and most recently his work on the documentary film series The Fourth Purpose. His book The Underground History of American Education: A School Teacher’s Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling is available in print as well as freely available online at his web site.

Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt is an American freelance writer who served as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), U.S. Department of Education during Ronald Reagan’s first term, and staff employee of the US State Department (South Africa, Belgium, South Korea). A self-styled whistleblower, she’s drawn attention to the hazards of the misuse of technology in influencing American public school students. She’s a prolific writer and her book the deliberate dumbing down of america is offered as a free e-book on her web site, one of several books and articles she’s authored.

All of the thought and effort that’s gone into deconstructing modern education has arrived on the scene none too soon; we are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history. After more than a century of ‘scientific’ public education, indoctrination, and Skinnerian training, the chickens have come home to roost with a vengeance. We have a country full of people who while reasonably capable of performing their jobs, have never learned the basics of creative or independent thought. They can play the most intricate of video games, but lack the skills needed to think their way out of a paper bag in far too many instances. Worse, since the State has indoctrinated them so well with its peculiar brand of non-logic, any trouble or obstacles they encounter in life caused by the State itself are often simply overlooked by these folks as if they didn’t exist, blinded as they are by State worship. This hearkens back to Dunning and Kruger’s observation that people deficient in reasoning skills don’t learn from their mistakes and will repeat them without ever realizing the fundamental problems at the root of their failures.

They can’t spell, punctuate or compose a paragraph competently, skills that were considered essential for children growing up a century ago. As Orwell’s Newspeak in 1984 removed the ability to commit thoughtcrime by destroying language, so too have the public incrementally lost the ability to communicate effectively…without even realizing it. As the situation deteriorates, so-called educators excuse its failure by promoting the idea that the proper use of language constitutes ‘elitism,’ one of the worst pejoratives in their arsenal of epithets flung at enemies to silence them whenever they cross its will.

When we’ve reached the point of speaking or writing in little more than grunts, the mere concept of resisting control and coordinating efforts to change things for the better can escape the grasp of the average person, but this is of course the desired result from the central planners’ perspective: why would they want to encourage their subjects to develop any cognitive skills that might lead to dissatisfaction with their assigned role within the hive?

Keeping the public ignorant just doesn’t work any more, not in today’s world with its greater reliance on brainpower rather than horsepower. People haven’t changed one bit in thousands of years, but the stakes are higher than ever before as technology improves and has an ever greater effect on them with its faster communication, capability for intrusive surveillance and more lethal weapons.

Look at just a few of the assortment of people in occupations that can be (and have been) skewed, distorted or perverted by Leviathan’s training in its dogma of omniscience to make them more dangerous. They’re the mainstream media, like it or not, still the gatekeeper of information for the majority of Americans, cynically using their position to influence public opinion. They’re lawyers, judges, doctors, and scientists interpreting manmade and natural laws, always under pressure to force those laws to conform to the needs of the State first and foremost, even at the expense of rationality and decency.

More ominously, they’re also the State’s enforcers, the soldiers and police…and of course their new Sturmabteilung, the almost universally loathed TSA. In capacities like these they wield great power over other peoples’ lives and property and as such take on massive responsibilities that include (in theory) not only doing their jobs, but respecting the citizens who have trusted them with that power and who rightly expect them to shoulder those responsibilities. However, unless you can willfully ignore the facts or are so deeply immersed in worship of the State that you can rationalize any act perpetrated by someone clothed in its livery, you’re aware that in many cases these responsibilities are given mere lip service as citizens see their rights, dignity and increasingly their very lives destroyed by the State’s minions in the prosecution of one or another of its endless wars against endless enemies; terror, drugs, disobedient client states or even just inconvenient sovereign individuals.

Perhaps the mass and inertia of all those years of enforced ignorance will prove too great a force to be halted. I choose to think otherwise, and that we can turn back to the path of liberty and individual freedom that our ancestors looked to as a goal…flawed though their understanding of it was in execution, it was still pointed far closer to a sane direction than the same old statist systems have always been.

There’s no Utopia out there, as the hubris filled schemes of powerful individuals to attain their version of that goal have so often proven, leading only to misery and slaughter during the twentieth century. I don’t know what all of the answers are, but the good news is that we have a pretty safe bet to begin with as a first course of action: deliberately turning away from the dehumanizing collectivism that has done us such damage for so long. Concentrated power in few hands has led to nothing but grief, but we can reclaim that power, diffusing it back to the citizens and taken away from the usurpers who have so perverted our republic into the monster it is today.

This will prove true in education as well, I do not doubt. Mentoring, homeschooling, and even unschooling are just a few of the options open to us, and doubtless more will evolve once the heavy hand of the State is out of the picture. We can thank people like John Taylor Gatto and Charlotte Iserbyt for helping light our way, but we are the ones who need to accomplish it, one individual at a time…delegating this duty to others has created our current disastrous state of affairs.

We’d best get to it, lest we plummet right past Dunning-Kruger defined incompetence straight into the bottomless depths of sheer Idiocracy.

©2016 by Glenn Horowitz, republished from the original that appeared in the American Daily Herald 2011-2012

REAL Warriors Oppose the State’s War on Cannabis

“After two puffs on a marijuana cigarette, I was turned into a bat.”
~ Dr. James C. Munch, testifying before Congressional hearings on the Marijuana Tax Act (1937)

During Congressional hearings for one of the first truly decisive steps in what would become known as the War on Drugs, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, only two doctors were called upon to give testimony. One, a Dr. Woodward, testified against the Act for various reasons on behalf of the A.M.A.. That organization felt that the bill had been hastily and secretly prepared, as well as the fact that even then the benefits of cannabis were acknowledged by physicians prescribing cannabis, retail pharmacists selling cannabis, and medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing. He was politely told to shut up and go away. While details are sketchy, the animosity seems to have been mutual, the A.M.A. strongly doubted the government’s wild claims of insanity, death and addiction made by the bill’s proponents, most notably those concocted by Harry Anslinger, newly appointed head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and a vehement prohibitionist for his entire professional life.

The other was the Dr. Munch quoted above, a pharmacologist from Temple University, who not only testified that a taste of cannabis had turned him into a bat, but expanded on this claim, asserting that once transmogrified he “flew around the room for 15 minutes before finding himself at the bottom of a 200-foot high ink well.” Not bad for a story concocted decades before Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone!

Of all of the substances criminalized by the drug warriors, none have borne the brunt of their concentrated hysterical fury quite like cannabis has.  There are a number of reasons for this, none of them pleasant.

Apart from a strong Puritanical hatred of euphoriants of all sorts, those involved in the demonization of cannabis had a strong degree of racist hatred motivating them. The early twentieth century had seen a rapid growth in anti-Mexican bias, along with a further increase in the long established racist attitude toward blacks in America. As always happens in situations like this, those irrational attitudes seeped into the mindset of a great many Americans, including those in charge of the one group with a claimed monopoly of force for use against their fellows to coerce them into conformity with the group’s precepts: the government. Sadly, anti-cannabis propaganda quotes from government functionaries and prominent citizens at every level who shared these racist beliefs abound, as seen in this declaration from a Texas state senator: “All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff [marijuana] is what makes them crazy.” Similarly, an editorial in a 1934 newspaper opined “Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice.”

Anslinger himself added some real gems of his own to this ugly race based fearmongering, such as “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others,”  along with “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”  His blanket statement on the urgency of criminalizing cannabis says all that need be known about his character as he concludes: “…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.” 

When discussing the creation of any malum prohibitum law, it’s always wise to ask just who benefits from its implementation, and with laws against cannabis we see some striking examples.

Cui bono?

William Randolph Hearst, for one. As a media mogul of the time, he  jumped enthusiastically on the anti-cannabis bandwagon. As a publishing magnate, he was in an ideal position to use the proven technique of yellow journalism to whip up a frenzy of sensationalist anti cannabis sentiment in the public mind, and these were spectacularly successful in selling huge numbers of Hearst publications. Lurid tales of violence, sexual deviance and assorted petty crime soon became a regular sight in his publications, and as expected they were often attributed to the already marginalized minorities. Hearst was a man of the times in his racist attitudes common to many Americans of that era, harboring a vitriolic hatred of Hispanics, Mexicans especially, blacks, and other minorities. In addition, he was especially hostile to Mexicans after losing about 800,000 acres of prime timberland, a major source of raw material for the newsprint needed by his publishing empire, to Mexican rebel Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution.

There was an industrial incentive to eliminate hemp, too, though perhaps not as powerful a motivation as using its illegality as a xenophobic social control: the DuPont chemical company had just patented the world’s first synthetic fiber, nylon, and had a large financial stake in promoting it over older natural fibers like hemp. By an interesting coincidence, that intrepid drug fighter Harry Anslinger just happened to be the nephew of Andrew Mellon, one of the richest men in America…who was heavily invested in DuPont. Just how significant this is as a factor in the war on cannabis is difficult to say, but when trying to determine criminal culpability in a case, investigators look for motive and opportunity. Anslinger certainly seems to have had both.

The legislation against cannabis easily passed into law, even though hemp had been a proven, reliable resource used for mankind’s benefit for centuries. It had been an essential material from America’s beginning; canvas sails had harnessed wind power that brought the first settlers from Europe in their ships as well as being the source of their very rigging and ropes. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution were written on hemp paper, and hemp was a staple crop for many of the country’s founders like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. The tough canvas that covered the wagons of the westward expansion, and Levi Strauss’ first blue jeans were made of the same hemp.  Even Henry Ford developed a car constructed in great measure of stiffened hemp fiber…which ran on biodiesel fuel made from hemp.

Despite these and many more benefits, cannabis was criminalized and remains so to this day. Many lay the blame for this on the pervasive influence of the giant oil, paper and now pharmacological industries, while others ascribe it to residual racism and culture clash. While I am usually the last person in the world to avail myself of the race card when assigning blame for a societal problem, in this case I must agree with the latter to an extent. A bit of searching turned up an interesting essay on Alternet that supports my suspicion, should readers wish to explore it further. Still, the ‘why’ is not of primary concern here, the unalloyed fact that an unusually useful resource for humanity remains heavily stigmatized and criminalized is the central issue, one that’s assumed even more significance in recent years. All of this depression and unrelieved pain continues in direct refutation of scientific studies, propelled by the inertia of an irrational and racist propaganda campaign, and it’s growing as the number of American service people involved in Leviathan’s endless wars increases. Worse, we’ve watched America become notorious as the nation with the highest rate of incarceration of its own citizens, most of them for nonviolent drug offenses. The prison-industrial complex bears much of the responsibility for this situation, and tellingly opposes drug legalization, seeing it as a threat to their profits. Cui bono?

This topic is one I’ve meant to address for some time, and now I can give thanks for the inspiration from my friends at the Combat Veterans for Ron Paul to do so. I’ve been working closely with this group in recent months; we have a great deal in common despite the fact that I’m a lifelong civilian. Obviously we’re all admirers of Dr. Paul and his message of liberty, but beyond that,  in matters of political theory, moral philosophy, and foreign and fiscal policy I’ve found many parallels between CVRP’s stance on issues and my own since encountering them, a trend that shows no signs of slowing.

One of CVRP’s many endeavors is their online broadcast, the ‘Language of Liberty’ show. I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of participating in the show lately, thanks to a relationship that’s developed with a couple of its prime movers, Adam House and Nick Allison. Everyone I’ve met who’s involved with CVRP is a serious, motivated and committed activist in the liberty movement, and I was delighted to find that they were dedicating a show to the state of health care (or the lack thereof) for American veterans, in particular an examination of the problems in accessing any cannabis based treatment for many ailments afflicting veterans. I found the ‘Liberty in Health Care’ broadcast one I can strongly recommend to anyone with even a passing interest in this topic. The discussion between co-hosts Adam House and Eric Fields and their guests was refreshingly genuine, its extemporaneous content a delightful contrast to the canned, agenda driven shows promoted by the increasingly irrelevant corporate mainstream media.

Most of these people were new to me, but then CVRP has a habit of introducing me to welcome new faces. Eric Fields, the evening’s co-host, is a disabled veteran and journalist in his own right, a good choice for the role, with a knack for bringing cogent and relevant topics to the discussion. I found hearing CWO (ret.) Perry Parks, one of several veterans showcased in the Emmy Award winning documentary The Good Soldier, relate his personal experiences with cannabis and its beneficial effects on soldiers with traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) most instructive, even from my civilian’s perspective. There are, after all, a lot of similarities between those injuries and the deleterious effects on the brain from multiple sclerosis. Anyone whose only experience with users of cannabis comes from inaccurate and often hysterical second- or third-hand accounts by those with an anti-drug agenda would do well to listen to Chief Parks instead, I firmly believe.

The stories of the other guests, disabled Air Force veteran and Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access Executive Director Michael Krawitz, as well as SSgt. Rhys Williams, were no less powerful or impressive. Hearing real stories from real people who have experienced or witnessed very real pain that is allowed to continue because a segment of the population…untroubled by pain of their own…has decreed that the remedy for that pain is a ‘dangerous drug’ is a stark reminder of the current injustice in the system. That those people feel justified in continuing to deny those in pain an effective remedy based upon unscientific and often ludicrous reasons is disturbing, to say the least. Personally it can be maddening,  and I don’t think I’m out of line in saying that. Along with the physical limitations and cognitive issues multiple sclerosis bestows on people like me, it also brings a measure of constant neuropathic pain to those afflicted with it. I’m in a better situation than many since my own pain is fairly well controlled by prescription pain medication, but to be honest I’d much prefer to take the natural remedy of cannabis that has been reported effective for others. Since I don’t have access to any the point isn’t relevant, at least not right now, but even if it were I don’t know how likely to avail myself of it I’d be, given the over-the-top response by law enforcement when they uncover cannabis use in too many instances every year. The alternatives being constantly pushed on me are the same that veterans find themselves under pressure to accept: the ‘approved’ moneymakers for Big Pharma with all their nasty side effects, from pain killers that only mask the pain to ‘antidepressants’ that often cause depression along with a host of unpleasant mental side effects, like the zombifying SSRI drugs that leave a trail of ruined or dead people in their wake.

I’m indebted to Adam and Eric for waiving the normal protocol of accepting no callers for most weekday shows and allowing me to participate via phone that evening. I wanted to add my own input to the conversation that I felt was relevant. There is at this point no ‘approved’ treatment for the primary progressive MS afflicting me, and I find it offensive that the War on Drugs not only prevents me from obtaining better and more effective pain relief through cannabis use, which may even reduce some of MS’ symptoms…the one actual treatment that might work to help my affliction, and one that would cause no harm even if it didn’t, unlike the potentially lethal potions proffered by Big Pharma. My situation is not at all uncommon for civilians or veterans, many of whom have to deal with even more severe chronic pain or are in even worse physical condition. When push comes to shove, we’re all in this together, pitted against an opponent that seeks to use us for its own ends no matter which hat it happens to be wearing.

In addition, I wanted to pose a question to any listeners in the audience who might still favor drug prohibition even at this late date, one that I’ve found almost always gives pause to even the most ardent drug warrior by introducing the concept of self ownership into the equation: if you are not free to ingest any substance that you see fit, one that affects no one but yourself, and risks only your own body, are you truly free? I’ve never yet been able to avoid the conclusion that if you do not control your body, you are a slave to those who do. This is a compelling argument, since it doesn’t occur intuitively to many people and may be the first time they’ve considered it.

Americans, veterans and civilians alike, are subject to severe penalties under laws that are at best capricious for the non-crime of seeking natural remedies for painful and debilitating disorders. In addition, we’re allowing our country to suffer based on an immoral prohibition of a natural resource that has served humanity for many centuries, providing us with paper, clothing, structural materials and even a source of renewable energy. We could see immediate and much needed benefits in many areas of our ailing economy by repealing an archaic law based on corporatism, fear and racism.

Why on earth do we continue along this path?

The Combat Veterans for Ron Paul are some of the very best allies we could ask for in the struggle to correct this awful mess, and they’re willing to join with liberty lovers everywhere. How about you…will you join with them?

 

©2016 by Glenn Horowitz, republished from the original that appeared in the American Daily Herald in 2011

Back To Business

Time flies, doesn’t it?

It’s been almost two years to the day since I last published anything on this blog. I  heartily regret this in many ways, since I’ve always enjoyed writing for pleasure…I never much cared who or how many might actually be reading what was on my mind, it was its own reward. I have missed it, and I can at least say that I have not been entirely idle in the meanwhile.

My friends may recall that back in 2010, in the same week I was finally confined to a power wheelchair, I moved my mom here to get her out of Mordor-On-The-Potomac, also known as Washington, D.C. I’d long wanted her out of that nest of vipers, but my original plan to help her obtain a small home in Tennessee (in town, but definitely Not-Here) went out the window when disability bit me. In that week in the autumn of 2010, not only did I trade my legs for wheels, but my then-housemate took off for greener pastures…in the process sticking me with three months of her rent unpaid.

It seemed a good idea at the time, as the cliche goes, to replace her with a family member who needed a place to live and was unlikely to stiff me for her share of the expenses.In some ways this worked out as planned, in others…well, not so much.

Suffice to say that my mom was, as expected, of the same mercurial temperament that I’d always recalled from my…let’s call it somewhat unusual…youth, often downright irrational and unpleasant. The next four years were largely an ongoing soap opera of drama and pathos that I really could have done without, to be candid. At the time I was still becoming progressively more disabled, and as many of you recall the summer of 2011 is when I inaugurated my ‘Get Glenn Mobile’ fundraising blog. On top of that, I’d begun composing fairly regular opinion pieces for publication, so I was kept fairly busy, more so with trying to make my mom comfortable and attend to her needs along with the other tasks demanding my attention. Happily, the blog culminated in the last weeks of 2013 in its wholly unexpected success and my acquisition of the modified Honda Element that allowed me finally to board and drive a vehicle while in my power wheelchair…but life was still working some mischief for me.

In the last blog entry, I demonstrated to my great pleasure that I could still operate the X-WAV safely in my condition, as documented here by my account of the two solo road trips I made, with accompanying video. This is where I left off.

Now, I was thrilled beyond measure to have actually succeeded in my quest, and was and remain eternally thankful to everyone who contributed to it, including, I must add, even my mom, whose contribution late in the game was the proceeds of the sale of her decade-old Toyota that she’d stopped driving a couple of years prior to that. I give her real credit for her help, it provided the last couple of thousand bucks needed to complete the deal. However, several factors became evident at this time:

First, though those two road trips were completed safely and successfully beyond even my expectations, the debilitating fatigue that comes with my disorder had also increased significantly over the intervening years. I found to my dismay that after each short trip, all the transferring to and from seats, driving, and enjoying the activities at my destination took an enormous bite out of my energy reserves. I found my body simply unplugging and needing twelve or more hours of sleep, in fact.

Though a bitter pill to swallow, the reality was that even with my awesome X-WAV at hand, my long-hoped-for plan to get out in the world and engage people on a regular basis was shot. It might not have been my fault, but I still felt like a louse, since a big part of the fundraiser’s purpose was to incorporate more chances to persuade regular people outside of my previously limited circle of movement of the benefits of liberty and a truly free market for everyone’s betterment. I’m still dealing with that feeling even though it’s tempered by the plain fact that my fatigue level increasing was sure not my idea or desire.

At the same time, I found to my real displeasure that purposes I felt so vital to me, my desire to write, to create, to reach out to try to get people considering alternatives to the status quo, were all rapidly leaving me.The 2012 elections were over. Ron Paul was retiring after renouncing his bid for the presidency. And on top of that, here was Obama beginning another dismal term where his lethal excesses in the drone strikes and endless foreign wars, collectivist social policies, and destructive economic policies were inflicted on the public afresh. And the hell of it was that so many of the people (though by no means all, thank goodness!) just didn’t seem to care. Like Madeline Kahn in ‘Blazing Saddles,’ I was tired.

Then on the home front, my mom seemed to redouble her efforts to discourage every move I made at increasing my independence and doing things.To tell the truth, all of my efforts only made her angry, almost furious at every turn. I discovered she’d been telling her few friends that she’d moved here not to escape D.C., not to live without its insane cost of living crushing her, but to ‘take care’ of me, of all things. Now, I have no intention of creating some maudlin ‘Mommy Dearest’ type of narrative here, only to convey the basic facts, but to be entirely forthright her idea of ‘care’ was akin to caring for a potted plant at best. Those of you who come from dysfunctional families probably have a better grasp than most on how things were, but the overall effect was yet another sucker punch delivered to me after the others I’ve described, one that simply tipped me over for a while.

My mom passed away in late 2014 from a case of cancer she’d evidently been concealing for years (there’s more of that drama and pathos she loved so well, I’m afraid), and though hardly a large amount, the life insurance benefit she left was enough to have her decently cremated, pay some current expenses, and give me a breather to modify my life to get by with just my disability income fueling it. Maybe I’m a trouble magnet, but for now I’ve had my fill of parasites and opportunists over the past few years sabotaging my life with their toxic antics, so I’m going it solo for now. Probably not forever, my own gregariousness and the fact that I honestly like the company of real people will see to that eventually! In the intervening time, I’ve had gratifying results in cutting my expenses to a bare minimum while still operating at a sustainable level, and even allowing me to enjoy a few of my pleasures and pursuits that have always been a part of who I am and that I’m still capable of enjoying.

In the last few weeks, I’ve finally been able to really relax for the first time in a long time…I may be on impulse power, but I’ve reached a pretty steady equilibrium here. Most encouragingly, I’ve gotten to the point of being under two years from my mortgage being paid off…a powerful motivator, believe it. I find myself looking forward again to what the future will bring, and even resumed my efforts in aeromodelling again by constructing a transmitter for my radio controlled aircraft that I can comfortably use for full control of them with my one functional hand…something that’s been a major obstacle in my enjoyment of the sport for several years.

Even better, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that my limited opinion threads on Facebook and elsewhere no longer wipe me out after only a small effort expended. Pushing the boundaries, talking with my friends via IM even for hours hasn’t caused me to nap for hours afterwards…it might not sound like much to healthy people, but you can take it from me, this is a huge improvement from the last couple of years.

First things first. Since I’ve missed the writing so acutely, today I determined to resume this blog, play catch-up a bit, and get it current. And wonder of wonders, I’ve composed this whole post in one sitting but I’m still feeling pretty fresh…hey, that’s Big Stuff for me at this point!

Along with periodic updates, since my former venue for my opinion columns, the American Daily Herald, is likely down for good, I thought it might be useful to re-publish a selection of my previously published essays here as well, on my own. I’ll never forget the help and support from my editors there, Dennis and Denise Behreandt, who first gave me that opportunity, and rest assured I’ll be following their ongoing adventures, but it’s time to get back to being productive again.

And, apart from writing new content as I can, I have business to take care of in other areas. Look for some new YouTube videos as I dig through the recordings I made over a year ago at Nashville’s 5 Spot, where many notables from the liberty community were in attendance for the Music City Friends of Liberty event. My friends like Dan Hagen have already published much of the fantastic music that he, the Furious Primates, and Cat Beach performed that evening, but I think I’m the only one who captured the hilarity of freedom lover Adam Kokesh and the inimitable Austrian economist and karaoke ninja Bob Murphy together onstage…you haven’t lived until you’ve seen these two dueling to out-smartass one another!

I’m back. Alive and thriving, if I may be so bold. There’s more content coming soon, so (man, it’s great to be able to say this again) STAY TUNED!

First Road Trips Solo in the X-WAV!

Maybe it’s the steamy summer air getting to me even though I’m in my air conditioned home 99% of the time, but I have to confess I’ve been feeling mighty low for weeks.

I continued my adventures in driving in mid and late June to get up and back twice to meet with my new gunsmith Jeff Walle at the Guns And Leather store in Greenbrier TN, but only tonight did I finish putting the few hours of effort in needed to edit the 30 video clips I recorded during them with my GoPro camera into a coherent YouTube video.

Well, better late than never, eh? I’m pleased to present my latest KripKam video #9 for your perusal. This was the real stress test for me, not only driving myself on two short road trips in various types of traffic, but accomplishing several transfers between my power wheelchair and Athena’s driver’s seat plus toting my gear to and from Guns And Leather’s indoor range when the opportunity was presented to give both my repaired Ruger and my SP101 a workout, the latter with my friend Jason LeBlanc’s light range ammunition he handloaded for me.

These excursions wiped me out for a couple of days following each one, but were more than worth it. It was beyond gratifying to actually, finally, do the things I’ve wanted to for years, not to mention incredibly liberating, I must say!

Yes, I CAN Still Drive-The Adventure Continues

I’m sure everyone who helped make Get Glenn Mobile! a success has been wondering “okay, you’ve got the wheelchair accessible vehicle you were after, but when are you gonna actually drive the thing?”

Well, if you’ve kept abreast of my progress, you know that after I took delivery of the Honda, I found out fast that it was harder than anticipated just transferring from my power chair to its driver’s seat, so I’ve been putting in the effort needed to build up the muscles required for the maneuver over the past 2-3 months. Also, since I have no intention of driving while impaired, I’ve had to taper off the amount of my daily intake of pain drugs to its current low level. I still need them when sitting around the house or getting comfortable enough to get to sleep, but I’ve been pleased to find that when I’m occupied with an activity I don’t notice the neuropathic pain nearly as much, so I can go for hours before it begins to eat at me, the window I need for driving safely.

I confess, I got to the physical level I needed to be a few weeks ago, but worry over just how much my overall condition and especially my right foot that’s used for the accelerator and brake might affect my driving kept me from taking the next step. The mind can be an odd thing, daunting your resolve by throwing unpleasant fantasies about what could go wrong at you…as mine was.

I got sick of allowing myself to stagnate when I knew that most of my concerns were just vapors. I’d already gone over every necessary task of driving and knew I could deal with any limitations safely. If I had any real doubts about my safe operation on the road I’d have resigned myself to permanent passenger status by now, being neither dumb nor reckless enough to risk any innocent lives, my fancy vehicle, or my own skin, in order of importance.

So, on Friday, May 23, 2014 I told the chattering doom-monkey in my brain to shut up, got a good sleep, ate and got down to business. Here are the results, recorded in my new Krip Kam video #8 for your consideration. It’s not terribly exciting, but that was kinda the goal: to show my old habits were sound and I could drive just as competently as ever. I hope you like Krip Kam #8, Driving!

Gone Shootin!’

Well, as usual my annoying low energy level has been slowing me down of late, but I finally got the video assembled, edited and published that I’ve been talking about for the past couple of weeks of the trip to the nearby Stones River shooting range. I’ve been pining to burn some ammo for ages, especially since I’d never gotten to try my first centerfire revolver, the Ruger SP101 that I acquired a couple of years back. I’ve cleaned it, dry fired it thousands of times to seat the internal springs and components and gloated over this excellent little wheelgun…but this was my first chance to actually shoot it.

And shoot it I did! Along with my well loved Ruger Mk.II single action autoloader that I’ve owned since the mid-90s, I shot that SP101 till I was almost out of the .38+P and .357 Magnum ammo I brought, a good couple of hundred rounds. The Mark II was a pleasure to shoot as always, with the only problem an occasional failure to fire. I suspect a big part of this was the fact that I haven’t cleaned and lubed the weapon in a long time, and while a gun should never have any fresh oil visibly showing, a recent oil application means enough oil will be in the pores of the metal to assure smoothest operation. Mine was bone-dry, and I’m betting that next time I’ll have far fewer failures. This model also has an aftermarket firing pin I’d like to install, one with a bit larger area on its face to impart energy to the rimfire cartridge’s primer. It has seen ammo before that it just didn’t like, but rimfire guns are notoriously picky about their diet.

The SP101 on the other hand was an absolute joy to shoot. I hadn’t anticipated any real problems, but I am limited to one-handed shooting with my non-dominant hand thanks to MS ruining most of my left hand and arm’s function, and a revolver lacks the slide and springs to soak up the recoil impulse of a selfloader. How pleased I was to find the gun entirely comfortable and controllable to shoot, even with full power .357 Magnum loads! The engineers at Ruger really did a good job here, and my only improvement was the addition of a rubber Hogue Monogrip to replace the factory grips. The rubber soaks up some extra recoil energy by covering the gun’s backstrap, and has added finger grooves for a more comfortable and secure hold. At no point did my hand get sore or tired…I could shoot this little tank all day!

My friend Dan Hagen volunteered to drive us out there, and again it was great to see how low-maintenance I am for anyone acting as my helper. Other than attaching one of the tie-down internal straps in the X-WAV and detaching it at the destination, all he had to do was show up and drive. He’d been wanting some practice himself, so it was a useful bit of car pooling for both of us. I appreciate his effort a lot, he’s been busy with his music and I know his time is valuable, but this was a fine way for both of us to benefit. I’ve plugged him before, but for those who haven’t yet listened to Dan’s musical artistry, if you enjoy jazz please do yourself a kindness and check out his web site and YouTube channel, both listed here in my ‘links’ section…a splendid time is guaranteed to all!

So without further ado, I invite you to have a look at my latest Krip Kam video, Gone Shootin.’ I hope it pleases…see you soon!