Wow! I found out how tough it is to be a real conservative these days. I got purged-off the “East Idaho Conservatives” Facebook page this morning. It seems that being an actual conservative is not allowed, especially if one is stupid enough to write about actual conservatism, in the various debate threads and topics on the page. The main faux pas committed was likely suggesting that real conservatives might want to vote the Libertarian Party candidate for Governor, John Bujak, instead of the Republican Party offering of a third term for incumbent Governor “Butch” Otter.
Governor Otter and his side-saddle partner in crime (also euphemistically known as “politics”), Lt. Governor Brad Little (yes, in Idaho we actually have the “Little-Otter” ticket to contemplate!) have spent a near-lifetime in politics and it shows. While insuring to always mouth the platitudes of Red (meat) statism, there’s never been a federal dollar they could turn down.
Especially not, if it means Idaho biologists get to study the poop of misplaced wolves, fondle the tail feathers of grouse and read the entrails and manure of dead cattle that (horror of horrors!) had the temerity to feed on a blade of federally-controlled grass! Let’s not forget all those hundreds of millions of dollars and jobs we receive to insure the National Forest Service burns down the forest. Or, the money flowing in to rebuild all those expensive rural homes Idahoans are stupid enough to keep building anywhere outside Treasure Valley! Just look at all that great economic opportunity Little-Otter bring home to Idaho!
And oh lordy, lordy, don’t talk about the Governor and Republican legislature “pulling a Bush” and setting up a state health exchange like Bush 43 and that Republican congress who gave us “No Child Left Behind” and a Prescription Drug benefit. Or, Little-Otter’s support of Common Core curriculum, losing $14million of federal funds because of contract malfeasance, the CCA prison scandal, etc. etc. All blasphemy! Bringing up such inconvenient truths is like pointing out the horror of the Algore ManBearPig to a Progressive.
I undoubtedly had a “wide-stance” moment I should have kept to myself when I called for former US Senator Larry Craig to be booted off the Idaho GOP Executive Committee for also having the ‘misfortune’ of being cited for misusing campaign funds for personal use. It was probably bad form to also suggest that newly-elected Idaho state GOP Chairman Stephen Yates ask Craig to resign after appointing him to the position of Treasurer. After all, he seems to have such acumen with cross-appropriating money. The Idaho GOP probably needs some of that right now.
Maybe it’s time I reconsider my whole outlook as a real conservative. This whole “real conservative” thing is such a drag. Maybe, it’s time to just give in and become a mainstream conservative. Or, better yet a full blown “New Conservative” and get ahead of the game! That way by the time ‘mainstream’ conservatives realize that they’re as far off the mark as they got me to realize I was being a real conservative. Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket! Once they catch on they’ll switch too, like I should have switched, to being a New Conservative. Gosh, this political discipline stuff is easier than I thought!
Sooo, on the way to my local Mosque ( I went down to join, so I could finally learn the ‘religion of peace’ and take their course in “Practicing Safe Sex With Your 72 Virgins”), I stopped in to the local Chipotle to get my daily dose of Commie philosophy on a bag (“Hope that, in the future all is well, everyone eats free, no one must work, all just sit around feeling love for one another.” – George Saunders). While reading my little brown bag (Brilliant! Like Mao’s Little Red Book….) to fully absorb this taste of mundane nirvana it struck me as to what a fool I’ve been all my life.
Being an actual native-born American citizen of any background has become such a drag and an increasing liability. I’m thinking of also giving up citizenship to become “undocumented.” I likely can get more benefits from the state that way and now I’m considered politically correct from the get-go. Can I get a fist bump for that?
Perhaps better, especially if I ever want to run for public office, I’m thinking of divorcing my wife, Colette, of 34 years and going over to the Gay Side. Holy Cow, I’m really advancing the cause of conservatism, now! Larry Craig is actually ahead of his time. Gay is highly fashionable and soon everything will be gay, kind of like all restaurants are Taco Bell in the futurist-satirical movie “Demolition Man.” Maybe it wasn’t satire. A gay, undocumented, commie Muslim is the New Conservatism!
Oh wait….to do this right I also need to become black. Black is the new white as our magic african-caucasian President has shown us! Everyone knows that African-Americans can’t possibly be conservative, especially if they’re really black. Liberals have shown us it’s not in their DNA. Check out my new persona in the image at the top. Does it work for you?
I think those East Idaho Conservatives are on to something! They’re pretending to be conservatives. The way to become the New Conservative of the future is to become a secret Liberal and vote for Republicans-In-Name-Only (RINO). That’ll drive the Liberals back into to their secret caves! Oh, they’ll tell you they’re all about conservative, though, cause they believe in the Constitution. Well, at least, until they don’t.
Ok, so a gay, black, undocumented, commie Muslim is a shoe-in for political tolerance in our future. Yep, I think I got this all figured out.
Marijuana (MJ) and its derivatives have been the subject of social, legal and cultural policy initiatives in the United States for most of the last century. Almost all coming from the Prohibition perspective. First, emanating from various legal policies born in the 1920s and 30s, created out of racial prejudice, ignorance, bureaucratic hubris and arrogance. Next, through social and cultural upheavals in the 60s, the failed and bankrupt “War on Drugs” via the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) beginning in the 70s and 80s. The history of negative policy initiatives surrounding Marijuana distribution and use have universally been a running disaster. After spending hundreds of billions of dollars the unintended consequences just keep on coming; economically, socially, culturally and politically. It’s time to stop doing all the wrong things. They don’t work.
Many Mistakes in “Social” Policy
Implementing a subjective morality as law is a mistake in America but has not seemed to hinder its attempted practice over and over again, with excessive damage done each time.. Similar to alcohol, marijuana prohibition has always been a mistake, the same as various other legislative substance/behavior social experiments throughout the 20th century. It breaks a simple and fundamental philosophy of governance: “No government should (or, by right, can) be authorized to do anything no individual would not or should not do coercively to another citizen in a free society.” Especially not for a behavior or activity that is only potentially and primarily harmful to the individual.
Humans of one minority simply do not always do what they are commanded to do, by government or other minorities or even majorities, if they either desire not to follow those commands or believe those commands are in error and no actual crime (objective harm) is involved. It is an inherent part of human nature, in so many areas, that has not changed for thousands of years. It is also a demonstrably failing, if not completely failed, policy strategy. Rule of Law and its application must always be objectively common to all, if it is to be adhered to, effective and successful. Further, no majority can constitutionally or rightly vote to do away with the rights of any minority, even though they may try again and again.
The social and cultural cost of the War on Drugs has compounded the fiscal and financial costs. Numerous government and independent studies have clearly shown that law enforcement actions of the last 45 years have simply failed to reduce their distribution and use; both among youth and the adult population. In fact, the opposite is true. Driven by the profits of black market economics also increases distribution incentives and heightens potency. At the same time, physician-aided and self-medication has increased in the population, primarily through big pharma and prescription pharmaceuticals. Against that backdrop, the costs are supremely evident in our judicial and “corrections” system incarceration rates as well as in our families and communities integral social and cultural breakdown.
As a natural black (more correctly “alternative”) market consequence, the distribution and use of all types of so-called “illicit” substances has not been reduced but expanded, the opposite of what the proponents of prohibition always promise. That is the nature of prohibition; generating the expansion of alternative markets where none were seen previously. The moral hazards presented also cause additional breakdown in previously “responsible” behaviors, i.e., the prescription drug ‘epidemic.’
It is also evident in the broad-scale militarization and expansion of the “law enforcement” role of policing and the growing reduction and corruption of the “peace-officer” function. The expansion of Civil Asset Forfeiture (CAF) laws and their execution has only further exacerbated that process in the corruption and harm to civil society due to the introduction of additional moral hazard to policing.
Beginning with the Medical Marijuana (MMJ) movement of the last decade or so, among the several states, a certain inertia has taken hold promising to finally break the long deadlock on the issue of Marijuana use and distribution. Now, movement towards full decriminalization/legalization in other states has once again sparked debate as to what to do.
There is voluminous anecdotal documentation on the various medical uses and efficacy of various extracts of Cannabis. Expansive and inclusive scientific medical studies are mostly just getting underway in the US as those studies were previously prohibited along with its use by the citizens. Consequently, the largest body of documented studies come from international sources.
The largest such example, Portugal, has decriminalized almost entirely all illicit drug use. That has resulted in a 50% reduction in the addiction rates of the most addictive substances. .Drug abuse is treated as a health problem, not a criminal justice problem. Portugal’s experience parallels that anywhere de-facto or actual decriminalization occurs. Decriminalization/legalization of “recreational” MJ in almost half the united States will only put additional pressure on any state remaining a prohibitive state as untenable. They can choose to remain under prohibition but then must accept all the negative consequences that decision continues to carry.
Probably most egregious is how the cash crop of industrial hemp got caught up in this whole ridiculous “war on weed.” Here is a plant that only looks similar to medicinal and recreational marijuana while having none of the psychoactive properties. Yet it is classified as “illegal” to grow or possess, in plant form, and is also a Schedule 1 “drug.” It is potentially a tremendously profitable agricultural crop particularly in marginal soil and arid conditions. At minimum, industrial hemp should immediately begin decriminalization and deregulation in order to improve and increase farm income opportunities and for the various related industries that come from its commercial use.
Policy Considerations For States
With the areas above as the backdrop it should become obvious why any state that borders states that decriminalize or legalize, has to get out in front of the issue of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp decriminalization/legalization. Regardless of how any state’s elected officials and policy makers may currently feel one way or the other, decriminalization and legalization efforts are likely to proceed in the states around them. That will create many direct and ancillary problems for prohibition states, as it did after alcohol prohibition ended, and should form the basis for debate in the following areas:
Law Enforcement and Interdiction/Incarceration and Corrections
Civil Rights/Liberties Abuses and Civil Asset Forfeiture and Law Enforcement Corruption
Local, State Fiscal and Budgetary Considerations
Community and Social Implications of Municipalities with State Border Proximity and Through Highway/Interstate Connectivity
Decriminalization/Legalization Progression Within Prohibition States. Decriminalization likely more attractive than Legalization
In the face of certain obvious realities the idea that any states have ever been or could become “drug-free” is a non-starter the same as the idea they had ever been or could become “alcohol-free.” Universal human behavioral traits dictate neither one is achievable or, in fact, even possible in virtually any sense. At the same time, prescription drug abuse is as large or larger a problem, than alcohol abuse and far larger than marijuana abuse. In fact, a number of international studies indicate that medical marijuana can effectively reduce the overprescription of pharmaceutical drugs in the areas of pain control, seizure disorders and certain psychiatric conditions, among others.
Ignoring or refusing to deal with such issues objectively and head-on in the coming decade will only insure that prohibitive states become unnecessarily more punitive to its own taxpayers and citizens.
Anyone suggesting nuclear technology provides the best solution to our global energy shortage is almost immediately dismissed or attacked because of supposedly, “how dangerous all that ‘nukular’ stuff is…” Most Environmentalists go into immediate paroxysms of fear, paranoia and loathing for anyone that would suggest such a thing. However, the evidence shows not only is it the safest, cleanest and most reliable in its current 3rd generation incarnations but the next generation will be an order of magnitude better, cheaper, far cleaner and safer.
Fourth generation (4G) reactors have many different designs, almost all them better than 3G designs and light years away from 2G designs. The difference between 2G and 4G nuclear reactor tech is similar to the difference between a Bell Telephone 2500 Deskset from the 60s and a Motorola Dynatac (“The Brick”) cellphone from the 80s. Or, the difference between the Dynatac and the iPhone 6. They’re not really even comparable except in the fundamentals that they both employ electronic circuitry and electrical signalling. That’s about it. Similar things can be said about 2G and 4G nuclear reactor tech; both use a form of fission. That’s about it.
The genesis of the current heightened interest in 4G nuclear power comes from a 2013 movie release at the Sundance film festival of “Pandora’s Promise” Of course the film, its creator and participants have been attacked from virtually every possible standpoint by other environmentalists and climate change interest groups. They do that because the movie breaks just about every myth that exists about the present and future nuclear power industry. Primarily it breaks the myth that “renewable” solar and wind power is going to provide any long term solution to power generation in order to reduce the carbon output of modern civilization. It also breaks the myth of atomic power as a dirty, dangerous technology.
The key to all energy production/consumption is “energy density.” Energy density is the amount of energy stored in a given system or region of space per unit volume or mass, though the latter is more accurately termed specific energy. Solar and wind-based generation has exceptionally low energy density. Thus, the giant wind turbine and solar panel farms. Carbon-based energy generation (primarily coal and natural gas) provides much higher energy density than solar or wind power. Nuclear energy provides orders of magnitude higher energy density than carbon-based sources. In addition, the unreliable nature of wind and solar renewables (no power when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine) means that a “watt-for-watt” back-up must be built to provide 7×24 power. Currently that means carbon-based (mostly natural gas) plants.
To provide the electrical energy for the US requires approximately 1,100,000 Mega-watts (Mw) of peak generating capacity to meet summertime consumption. As of 2013, the total of all “renewable sources,” other than hydroelectric, was 6% of total generation. Globally renewables, other than hydroelectric, account for less than 1%. In the US, carbon-based generation is 68%. To significantly impact those proportions would literally require millions more acres for distributed solar and wind power generation. It is not a matter of opinion, it is a simple matter of physics. There will also be no appreciable expansion of hydroelectric power (7%) in the US since most every river source for major dam projects have already been sited. That leaves nuclear, alone, as the alternative.
The great news is that 4G generation has many advantages even over 3G reactors. It is cheaper, safer, requiring far less safety and control systems and has far more inherently stable designs. Of the six classes of designs, the best of class seems to be the Gas- and Sodium-cooled Fast Breeder Reactors. However, the Molten Salt Reactor and Integral Fast Reactor designs also offer very attractive possibilities. All of these various designs offer many different inherent safety and low-waste possibilities.
Beside being inherently stable and safe, one of the key characteristics is elimination of more than 98% of the primary nuclear waste (the most radioactive) over current operating lightwater designs like Fukushima Dai-Ichi. Eliminating 98% of the primary waste over 3G reactors is not the only advantage of 4G waste. It also means a 300 year half-life before it is completely safe instead of the 300,000 year half-life of the 2G and 3G lightwater reactor’s primary waste. That eliminates a huge storage hurdle.
Modularity of design in the best classes will cure several other significant problems with existing US power generation of all types: Long-lines transmission loss, grid vulnerability and reliability. With the reduced cost, simpler control and significantly fewer added safety systems due to inherently safer and stable 4G designs, the plant footprint can be far smaller than current 2G and 3G plants. Smaller plant and output capacity means plant siting can be much closer to the consumers and have more redundancy. Those factors will reduce long lines transmission and the consequent construction, maintenance and vulnerabilities those lines carry along with their electrical transmission.
The next key consideration is the fuel source cycle usable by 4G reactors. The best choice is Thorium-232. Thorium-232 is a naturally occurring element 3-4 times more abundant than uranium . Thorium-232 requires no enrichment and can be used directly in the fuel cycle to “breed” it’s own fuels and consume most of its own waste in the fuel cycle. It is a “fertile” rather than a “fissile” material. Another of the many advantages is that Uranium-233 produced from Thorium -232 tends to be very unattractive for weapons production for a variety of reasons. Finally, there is enough high-grade thorium in the US to likely power all of the electrical generation needs for more than 1000 years. As the World Nuclear Association explains some of the possible benefits
“The thorium fuel cycle offers enormous energy security benefits in the long-term – due to its potential for being a self-sustaining fuel even without the need for fast neutron reactors. It is therefore an important and potentially viable technology that seems able to contribute to building credible, long-term nuclear energy scenarios.”
Some of the largest and highest quality deposits of Thorium-232 in the world are in the Rocky Mountain west. The Lemhi Pass, along the Idaho-Montana border, has one of the world’s largest known high-quality thorium deposits. The US is estimated to be second only to India in overall deposits. Even 2G and 3G generation nuclear power is far and away safer than carbon-based sources when one adds up the worldwide mining, drilling, processing, refining and transportation deaths and injuries each year in those industries. That doesn’t count the estimated 3 million deaths every year from particulate- and pollution-caused respiratory illness from burning carbon fuels. Fourth generation nuclear power industrial deaths and injuries, of any type, will be vanishingly small compared to carbon-based generation.
The largest current problem with 4G reactor development and construction in the US is the ignorance and irrational hysteria the term “nuclear power” strikes in the heart of the average citizen. Years of hysterical anti-nuclear propaganda and a population with a low scientific literacy rate have done their job. While China, India, Russia, France and others are moving to proliferate 4G power plants to supply their electrical energy needs, the US sits on its thumbs. The average age of our nuclear plant infrastructure is 33 years and we haven’t constructed a single new nuclear plant in more than 18 years. While the rest of the world moves to solve the carbon-based generation and energy problems, the US is frozen in time.
China was just reported to have passed the US in purchasing power equivalent GDP at $17.6 trillion. It appears that the future of cheap, reliable and safe non-carbon-based energy belongs to them and the others moving that direction. How long will it take to shake the local , state and federal officials, environmentalists, thought-leaders and verily, the citizens of the US out of their stupor and start moving again? The future is only ours to lose.
The historic vote in Scotland against independence has separatists around the world crying in their Scottish ale. Although, while not successful, subdivision of centralized government is still a boon and not a bust for such causes going forward. However, folks here should not confuse what might have happened in Scotland with what should happen in the United States.
There is a significant difference between Scotland’s historic try at separating from the United Kingdom and secession of a state from the United States. The UK IS a top-down centralized, legal, national state in two forms; monarchical and by governmental structure. The Union of United States of America IS NOT regardless of the clever ploys and propaganda by nationalists over 150 years to get the population to believe otherwise. Nowhere in our FEDERATED UNION legally, structurally or organizational was such formation put into it’s organizing documents. We are a group of federated nation-states, each (supposedly) independent joined together by contract and the common bond of principles instituted in a Constitution.
This point, due to the lost understanding of the population, cannot be emphasized enough. The United States were never formed to be governed or operated as or by a centralized, national government. A federal government was formed as an agent government subservient to the States in every aspect EXCEPT to carry out a strictly defined and limited (17 in the original) set of delegated powers.
The myth of a top-down, legal, national state is solely an invention of nationalists and a complacent, dumbed down or ignorant population and the political class they elected. It is a complete misnomer that the United States “is” anything relevant at all. It should be stated in the plural form, not singular. The proper way to refer to the United States should always be that the United States “are” a constitutionally (contractually) joined entity of co-equal nation-states. The Federal government is only there TO SERVE those nation-states NOT RULE them. It serves them by staying within the strictly limited bounds specified in the contract. Otherwise it is a complete contradiction to the phrase, “free and independent states.”
That is why Secession or legal independence is not a useful tool for the any of the United States to employ. They are already “free and independent.” The problem, as Chief Justice John Roberts recently pointed out in his leading opinion in the NFIB v. Sebelius holding, is that “The States are separate and independent sovereigns. Sometimes they have to act like it.” That quote is an earthquake that very few have felt yet in the states. Most legislators, Governors and State Attorney Generals have yet to wake up and smell the coffee on a wide variety of State powers that have been neglected for more than a century.
On every thing from control of public lands, to environmental regulation, education, endangered species and economic activity the states are treated as bastard baby brothers and sisters because they ACT LIKE THEY ARE. No state need to secede, nor likely will be successful in doing so. What needs to happen is to take the proper control of their own destinies as independent nation-states of the world and once again subordinate the federal government in EVERY AREA EXCEPT those listed powers of the Constitutions. The best way to do that is by the recent example given by Colorado in approving Amendment 64. “Just Say No” to federal prohibition and control of Marijuana within their borders. Opting -out and interposition of the state between its citizens and the Feds can be accomplished again and again and again in every area of interference.
They only have to follow the Nike model of governance. “Just Do It!”
In my home state of Idaho, during the recent primary and at the Republican State Convention, a phrase kept coming up again and again: “This fight is for the heart and soul of the Party!” The various factions in conflict within the Idaho Republican Party thought that gave special emphasis for their faction’s case. Actually, that thinking is pretty small potatoes (excuse the pun but this is Idaho). The fight we have going on is really for the heart and soul of America and the people of the world.
Everywhere we turn these days the various struggles here and around the world are between those that love freedom and liberty and the tyrants, dictators, narcissistic megalomaniacs and every day statist, a-hole controller-types that seem to inhabit almost every nook and cranny of every culture one could name. The biggest conflict of our existence is the never-ending struggle between those who want (or demand) to control every one else and those who reject the various attempts at control.
The natural tendency of the vast majority of individuals is to be free to live their life as they choose in a peaceful manner without interference and without interfering with others. However, that tendency always runs headlong into the 1-2% who, by golly, believe they were put here to tell everyone else how to live those lives. Or, they are the violent malcontents who create the problems within every civil society.
What most fail to recognize is that the controllers inhabit every portion of the political spectrum including that portion of so-called “anarchists.” The only difference is that the proportion of controllers that inhabit the opposite end, the Social Democrats to Communists, is much higher than the anarchy end of the spectrum. They are larger in number because the mass tends to go along with their schemes due to belief in the “Six Political Illusions.”
Compounding the convenience of negligent attachment to various liberal utopias, the vast majority of individuals also tend not to engage in the various political struggles of their time. That flows from the hope to avoid all the apparent nastiness and drudgery that comes with being active, involved citizens. Instead, they prefer to believe that a Republic somehow runs largely on autopilot and that somehow their complacency will be a ‘free lunch’ of good governance.
That leaves the various types of loathsome personalities free to occupy the space with open-field running in front of them. At best the electorate gets a mixed bag of benignly incompetent, statist-narcissists as candidates, then electeds, to carry water for the status quo. That leaves the field open for a small number of controllers to run the show. And the damage done continues to pile up, unresolved.
There will be no change as long as this “comfort paradigm” is maintained. Change only comes as an explosive series of reality checks which overcome the long held status quo. Those explosive realities began going off on 9/11/2001, politically, financially, fiscally and culturally ever since. With the center of both major parties failing to act to repair any of the damage done, they have instead proceeded to make it much worse. As our state GOP is learning it’s an evolutionary process, a “back-to-the-future” re-establishment of principles that have been corrupted or forgotten over decades. It’s not reliance on the same ol,’ same ol’ candidates, nostrums and the re-emergence of the Chamber of Commerce Republicans that’s going to fix ANY of this mess, they created.
Some will argue, as they drone on in various corners of the Republican Party, that the current compromised principles represents the “new reality.” They argue, very ineffectively but with passion, that it is they who recognize “reality” for the Republican Party of 2014. It’s amazing they do it with a straight face given the mess the entire country is in, largely because of the compromise and outright ignorance of principles by many on the right for more than 85 years. To them, a President such as Calvin Coolidge was an extremist, even though he was light years ahead in understanding the importance of a much toned-down presidency. Many Republicans and Conservatives have grown to promote the ‘modern’ imperial presidency as much as the Democrats and Progressives.
The one reality that the old guard establishment seems to fail at recognizing is that their time is running out, fast. All one has to do is to look at the graying visages of any Republican Central Committee. Virtually none of the youngest Republicans and conservatives coming on board right now have any solid connection or agreement with the old guard, Nixon-Bush Republicans. The younger ones see the failures of those Republicans as readily as they see those of the Democrat Progressives. They are smarter, more knowledgeable and very passionate on the Constitution and the Republic than their elders were at the same age or many of them are, even now. They’re wired and wireless and share information lightening fast. The short of it is; they scare the hell out of the old guard and, so, the establishment reacts with contempt and attempts to restrict and control them while smiling to their faces and pretending to welcome them.
However, the old guard/establishment cannot stop them. Hence the current travails of many state GOPs, around the country, just like Idaho’s. Can Idaho, or any other, Republicans mend their rifts? Or will the Republican controllers continue the slow disintegration and marginalization? At this point the answer, my friend, seems to still be “blowing in the wind.”