Shame on America

I grew up in a beach town on Florida’s Gulf Coast. I spent my childhood swimming with dolphins and manatees, lying on white sand watching squadrons of pelicans cavort overhead while bales of Colombian marijuana floated in from the ocean.
Our beach was paradise. Teenagers could mate in sand dunes while smoking herb and tripping on “window pane” LSD. Hippies lived peacefully under the pier. There was no crime, pollution, or traffic snarls. Just orange trees, bikinis, and sweet waves.

Then, in the mid-1970’s, Republicans came to town. Bribed by allies in the development industry, Republican politicians approved shopping malls and high-rise hotels. Voters repeatedly disagreed with their pro-growth agenda, but Republicans kept taking bribe money from construction companies, who bulldozed the nests of thousands of endangered birds in the middle of the night, and destroyed my beach.

Within ten years, my county was paved over. The Bay died. The dolphins and manatees were killed by pollution and jet skis. The beach became a polluted mess- asphalted and traffic jammed. Many of the politicians who helped trash my home were later found guilty of corruption. Some of them spent a few weeks in jail. But my Florida, a beautiful tropical paradise that was once home to pure freshwater springs and rivers, was ruined forever.

And now, with the presidential election apparently rigged and stolen by George W.Bush, his brother Jeb (the governor of Florida), his father (the former head of the CIA), the Florida Secretary of State (who was allowed to make major decisions that will influence whether George W wins, even though she headed Bush’s presidential campaign in Florida), the rape of Florida is complete. When I think of my home state, it is with tears in my eyes and rage in my heart.

I am a Libertarian Green. I’d rather have Ralph Nader as president and Steve Kubby as Vice President. I agree with Nader that choosing between the lesser of two evils (Bush and Gore) still gives evil.

Yes, Al Gore lied about medical marijuana during the campaign, even though he smoked plenty of marijuana while he served in Vietnam and afterwards. And yes, the Clinton administration revved up the war on drugs.

But anybody who believes that George W Bush will be less of a drug warrior than Gore is a fool. Bush’s transition team has indicated that Bush intends to choose either Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating or former California Attorney General Dan Lungren to be the US Attorney General.

Keating is the heartless Republican politician who refuses to give an executive pardon to Will Foster, a disabled veteran sentenced to 93 years for marijuana cultivation, even though citizens and other politicians urged him to free Foster.

Lungren was California’s Republican attorney general during 1996. He directed harassment of medpot activist Dennis Peron during a crucial phase of Peron’s attempt to pass Prop. 215, the nation’s first successful medical marijuana law. When Peron ran against Lungren in the 1998 gubernatorial primary, Lungren again used the power of his office to harass Peron’s campaign. He is also suspected of masterminding various plots against medical marijuana clubs and individial medpot activists, including Libertarian candidate for governor Steve Kubby, who is currently on trial for marijuana charges possibly caused by Lungren’s dirty tricks.

If either of these two men become America’s highest-ranking law enforcement official, there are dark days ahead for the marijuana movement.

George W’s brother Jeb, as governor of Florida, is running a hardcore drug war. Military jets patrol the state’s coastline looking for pot boats; police routinely violate civil liberties by engaging in racial profiling, illegal searches, and violence.

These same terror tactics sullied Florida’s presidential election process. Police set up speed traps and interdiction zones in black districts. Black and Hispanic voters were subjected to prejudicial scrutiny that discouraged some from voting. Elderly voters, many of whom suffer from glaucoma, cataracts, arthritis, and other aliments, were presented with confusing ballots, broken voting machines, and surly pollworkers who refused to help them. Tens of thousands of ballots, most of them in districts that voted heavily for Gore, were lost, mishandled or thrown out.

Bush supporters, many of whom are paid hacks rather than just “concerned citizens,” have staged noisy and sometimes violent demonstrations – making fun of elderly people, intimidating elections officials, demanding special treatment for military absentee voters.

The typical Bush supporter’s ideology is frightening and illogical. They don’t want to women to enjoy sex or abort fetuses, but they support war, guns and the death penalty. They hate mother earth while claiming to love the God who allegedly created earth. Their ultimate goal is to establish a fundamentalist Christian theocracy in the world’s strongest military police state.

On talk shows, Bush supporters liken Gore to Abraham Lincoln, threatening civil war if Gore becomes president and tries to take their beloved guns and Bibles away.

American politicians and pundits claim America is the world’s leading democracy, but that’s obviously a canard. Florida is only one of many states where voting irregularities are persistent and serious. Election agencies, along with parks departments, are among the most poorly funded government services in the US. Honest observers admit that the 2000 presidential election results will probably never be accurately counted. Al Gore won the popular vote. George W Bush won most of the redneck states, where slaughtering animals, chainsawing trees, and paving wetlands is as sacred as shooting abortion doctors.

In Canada, Switzerland, Holland and other progressive countries, democracy works better. Marc Emery, Dana Larsen, Reverend Damuzi and dozens of other marijuana activists were allowed to participate in Canadian elections, and attracted enthusiastic voter response and media coverage. In Holland, coffee shop guru Nol Van Schaik is pushing the Dutch government towards official approval of medical marijuana while contemplating a run for public office. In Switzerland, citizens get to vote on everything, including marijuana, and have basically legalized cultivation and possession of the sacred herb. They know how to count votes!

In the US, Ralph Nader and his Libertarian counterpart were barred from presidential debates and subjected to nasty media treatment. Politicians like Kubby and Dennis Peron are arrested. Corporate mainstream media is biased in favor of Bush. And the typical American – like a sheep on Prozac – flocks to shopping malls and runs up huge credit card debts. Many Americans don’t care who’s president, as long as they can still afford their gas-hogging SUV’s.

Along with gay rights activists, environmentalists, and civil libertarians, marijuana advocates are among the few Americans willing to stand up and fight the rising tide of fascism in the US.

I’m American, so I say this with shame: my country is corrupt, spoiled, in denial, pathological. It prevented progress on global warming reduction during a worldwide summit at The Hague. It tries to force Canada, Holland and other countries to conduct Americanized drug wars. Its failed presidential election is a sign of pervasive moral decay.

I envy those of you who live outside America. I may soon join you. I watched the Republicans destroy my hometown. I can’t bear to see them do the same thing to the rest of the country. And if the CIA’s Manchurian Candidate ends up in the White House, it will be very dangerous to speak out.

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