Hillary V The Donald

trump-v-clinton

I don’t usually write about national politics because the USA seems like a lost cause to me, and following the machinations of the federal government makes my head hurt, but this current presidential campaign has gotten too ridiculous to ignore. It’s almost too ridiculous to make fun of. I still expect Trump to rip off his mask, revealing Andy Kaufman underneath. That’s how unbelievable I find Trump, but no matter who gets elected this November, it’s all downhill from here.

all-downhill-from-here

We’ve already gotten used to choosing a lesser of two evils, but this year, the evil runs pretty deep on both sides. On one side we have clever, cunning, and connected evil, vs stupid, rogue, egotistical evil, on the other. Intelligence in the service of evil is formidable. Stupidity defeats itself, and egotism always has a blind side. Do you prefer the deliberate, calculated evil of a team with a proven track record, or do you want reckless, wanton, spontaneous evil? How does one make such a choice? It’s a matter of perspective, I suppose.

perspective-breakdancer-gay-waiter

Strange things happen when the world falls apart. As the US Empire progresses from decline to collapse, only the denial and bad habits of the American people animate the rotting corpse of democracy. We go through the motions of having an election because it allows us to believe that we have some control over the government, and that it serves us, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. As push comes to shove in the New World Order, the question becomes, “Who can manufacture consent?” Increasingly, it looks like the answer to that question is “no one.”

no-one-manufactures-my-consent

Dissatisfaction with the US government is high right now. Everyone is fed up with the federal government, but instead of abandoning it, and looking for an alternative, too many people want some knight in shining armor to ride in and rescue the princess from the evil dragon. A lot of people thought Bernie Sanders was their knight. Other people see Trump that way, I guess, but pretty much everyone knows that Hillary is there to feed the dragon.

feed_the_dragon

In fact, they’re all there to feed the dragon. Presidential politics is a contest to see who can feed the most people to the evil dragon. Bernie convinced us that he could tame the dragon. Hillary wants to ride the dragon, and Trump wants to be the dragon. It’s still the same evil empire, and the people serve the empire, not vice versa. That’s how empires work, including this one, regardless of what they taught you in school.

serve-the-empire

For Hillary, it’s like this: Do you want to vote for the Wall St. candidate?  Do you want to vote for the banker’s candidate? Do you want to vote for the medical industry and health insurance industry candidate? Do you want to vote for the candidate supported by the people who have been dissecting you and eating you alive for the last few decades? Fuck no!

hillary_attacks

Think about it. Sure, Hillary Clinton is, far and away, the most qualified candidate for the job, but the job is bending humanity to the will of our Wall St. overlords.

hillary-listening-meme

Maybe we don’t want the best, most qualified person in that position. Maybe we want an incompetent buffoon in the White House, just to give humanity a fighting chance. Maybe we can use Trump’s ego to our advantage. Since all he cares about is his own popularity, he may actually respond to public pressure, Then again, we may not like how he responds.

trump-napoleon-quote

Trump really took the Republican Party by storm, and it shows. The GOP looks like New Orleans after Katrina. They’re up to their eyeballs in filth. Everything they’ve worked for for the last 160 years, is now smothered in raw sewage, putrefied garbage, and toxic pollution. The fact that he’s surging in the polls is like that hot Louisiana sun, cooking it all up into some scary-ass gumbo. The Republican leadership is afraid to touch it, let alone taste it, but now they’re stranded in it, sitting on the roof of what’s left of their house, trying to decide whether they can get along with those pretentious New York liberals, or get behind that wacko outsider who doesn’t know what “Aleppo” is, rather than hold their nose and dive in to swim with the slime.

katrina-flood-beer

On the bright side, for Republicans, I think a Trump presidency could do a lot for the image of previous Republican administrations. For instance: Donald Trump makes George W Bush sound intelligent.

trump-bush-meme

Donald Trump makes Dick Cheney appear reasonable and compassionate.

trump-cheney-meme

Next to Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan comes across as deep, and not at all vain,  and Richard M Nixon seems like a nice guy.

trump-nixon-meme

Proud Republicans everywhere can thank Trump for that.

trump-thank-you

 

So, it seems like a toss-up to me. We can have more of the same,

hillary-more-same-meme

…or we can have cheeze-doodles in Cool Whip.

trump-cheetos

I think we should take it as an indication of how fed-up people are with what they are being fed, that cheeze-doodles in Cool Whip looks good to them.

hillary-think-meme

 

SoHum Needs Rehab

rehab-worth-it

On the radio the other day I heard two women talking about the cannabis industry in Humboldt County, and the challenges they face from new regulations and changing market forces as cannabis becomes legal. They talked about “bad press” as one of those challenges. Apparently, Humboldt County’s cannabis industry has come in for some bad press lately. Specifically, they talked about the recent article in Reveal, by Shoshana Walter, about sex abuse and human trafficking in Southern Humboldt’s marijuana industry.

reveal-logo

The women on the radio admitted that it was a fair article, and that the facts contained in it were disturbing, but they talked about it from the perspective of how this article negatively effects the Humboldt Brand. The story itself revolved around several different woman who had been lured back to remote SoHum cannabis farms with the promise of work, and then held against their will and sexually abused. Most of the women profiled, never went to the police, so the perpetrators remain at large, in our community, presumably. I can see where people might not want to buy pot grown by rapists, if they have a choice, and I can see where this kind of bad press might hurt the Humboldt brand, but that’s not what shocked me about this conversation.

shocking

What shocked me, was what the women were not talking about. They were not talking about the very serious problem described in the article. They were not talking about rape culture in our community. They were not talking about how we can prevent rape in our community. Even as harvest season draws neigh, they were not talking about setting up an emergency phone line, or starting a campaign to raise awareness, and discourage this horrendous behavior by local landowners perpetrated against transients. No, they were talking about how “bad press” tarnishes their brand.

brand-shattered

A couple of weeks ago another local teenager beat another old man, nearly to death, in the Town Square in Garberville. Besides rape and human trafficking, local teenagers beating old men with baseball bats is another chronic problem around here. Admittedly, it’s not as sexy as the human trafficking story, but it still has the potential to bring bad press, and it certainly happens often enough. We laugh off the graffiti-covered, vandalized, and burned-out vehicles on our county roads, but someone might make a picture book called “The Wreckage of Humboldt County.” What would that do for your brand?

vandalized-car

We have a problem. It’s not a matter of branding. It’s about what the War on Drugs has done to us, and what we have become. We have a problem. We have a problem that money can’t solve. It’s a cultural problem that drags down our quality of life, drives social dysfunction, and leads to most of our “bad press.” If we could face facts and work together, we could beat this problem, but first we need to admit that we have a problem.

we-have-a-problem

We don’t have an image problem. This problem effects us much more than it effects how other people see us. The rapes and the murders and the beatings happen in our community, and they involve our people. Who cares what Reveal readers think of it? We create a culture of violence and coercion here in our community, because our community has been shaped by the violence and coercion of the War on Drugs.

war-on-drugs-prohibition-doesnt-work

We all feel economic pressure. Some of us buckle under that pressure, give up and turn to drugs. Most of us work entirely too much, and pay taxes in hopes of enjoying the few hours we have to enjoy our lives in a decent civilized society. Meanwhile, some of us decide to cheat the system. For whatever reason, we overlook the harm it causes. We tell ourselves that it’s OK and that everyone does it, but internally, it corrupts us.

corruption-creates-poverty

Profiting from prohibition is like drinking the blood of the community. Before long, you divide the community into two groups of people, “our people,” the people you love and nourish with your illegal loot, and “those people,” the ones who buy your product, do your work, take your order and stock your grocery shelves, whose blood you drink to survive. Here, we try to build a community from people who cheat the community for a living, and we wonder why we find it so draining.

emotionally-drained

At one time, the cheaters had plenty of money. They were generous and eager for any opportunity to improve their image, which lead to a whole wave of non-profit organizations who sprang up to accommodate them. These groups survive by getting dope yuppies drunk and telling them how great they are for supporting this work. In this way, the community was able to suck back some of their own blood. It worked for a while, but it’s not exactly what you would call, “functional.”

dysfunctional-yet

Today, legalization isn’t just about converting illegal enterprises into legal enterprises. It is about people who have cowered in the shadows their whole lives learning to stand up and become pillars of the community. It’s about people with few skills and wildly unrealistic expectations experiencing economic pressure they’ve never had to deal with before. It’s about facing that economic pressure, head-on, without cheating, and learning to do something else for a living. In other words, it’s about rehabilitation. It’s about time we faced the fact that we need it.

rehab-winhouse-nah

The War on Drugs attracts the worst people, and it brings out the worst in people. The cruel hand of the War on Drugs has twisted and warped our community for more than 40 years, and for all that time we’ve hidden it behind a veil of secrecy. As we move towards legalization, and the gnarled, twisted beast we’ve become, steps into the light of day for the first time, the truth about what we have become could easily make a bigger impact on Humboldt County’s reputation than the quality of our weed.

what-weve-become

We’ve got two or three generations of dysfunction to overcome. Forty years of suspicion, secrecy and lies. Forty years of unrealistic expectations. Forty years of “us vs them” thinking. Forty years of corruption and parasitism. Forty years of gambling with your life. Forty years of stress. Forty years of CAMP, and ripoffs, and rats and mites and mold and mildew. Forty years of war.

war-on-drugs-40-years

Forget about trying to compete in the new legal cannabis industry. We’ve got rapes and murders and senseless hate-crimes going on, right here, all the time. We’ve got real problems, and our dysfunction presents a much bigger challenge to our future than competition in the cannabis industry. We have a lot of healing to do, and we need to go through a process of truth and reconciliation. Until we come to terms with what we have done, and what has been done to us, this war will never be over for us.

war-never-ends

 

We need to tell the truth about what happened to us, and how it came to this. We need to reconnect with our own humanity and relearn empathy. We need to learn to live honestly and stand on our own two feet, before we try to step into a bigger pair of shoes, and we need to learn to live within our own means, without the overblown expectations of a dope yuppie. Those things will make our community stronger in the long run, which will make SoHum a better place to live, which makes us all richer, regardless of how much money we have.

old-economy-new-economy

We can’t control the marijuana industry, and we can’t prevent legalization, but we can change our culture. We can change our habits and build inclusive community values. We can refuse to tolerate rape in this community. We can offer a safe place, and an emergency phone line for women in trouble, and we can stop whipping our young men into hateful violent frenzies. We have a lot of work to do here in Southern Humboldt, but it’s not about building the Humboldt brand, it’s about rehabilitating our community, and it’s about time we got to work on that.

we-got-work-to-do

“Grow Big or Go Homeless”

grow big only options

The other day, I saw a guy wearing a T-shirt from one of our local grow shops. Nothing unusual about that. On any given day, half the guys you see in Garberville will be wearing an advertisement for one of our local grow shops. I didn’t see which shop sponsored the shirt, because I didn’t see the front of the shirt, but the message I saw on the back left me dumbfounded. “Grow Big or Go Homeless” the black shirt loudly proclaimed in bold white letters.

remember the homeless

Whoever came up with that slogan knows how to sell grow supplies. “Grow Big or Go Homeless” taps into growers’ fear. Everyone fears running out of money, especially growers. Growers tend to have pretty thin resumes, and the longer they grow, the less employable they become, so this slogan taps into the sense of desperation driving the current expansion in the marijuana industry.

easier to fool

People don’t think well when they’re frightened. Some people don’t think well at anytime. A lot of growers use money to insulate themselves from their own idiocy. They don’t like to think too much, but they know that having a lot of money makes life easier. The more money they make, the more silly ways they find to spend it, and soon, their lives become a death-spiral of greed and consumption that destroys natural habitat here in Humboldt County, wastes resources around the world, and contributes to global warming, while they poison themselves with their own stupidity. Just having to think frightens them, and thinking about money and the future frightens them even more.

stupid people exist because

A few growers have been paying attention, and preparing for the inevitable, others are getting out while the getting is good. As the marijuana industry becomes more professional and competitive, most Humboldt growers feel trapped. They know that they’ll never make it in the legal market, and they only have a few years left of the black market. So, like any compulsive gambler, they bet it all on this year’s crop, and made it a big one. If they can do it again next year, they’ll find a way to grow even more.

grow even more

People bought a shitload of soil and garden supplies this year, at least twice as much as last year, and then trucked all of that stuff back to a rash of seeping scars on our hillsides, where they worked like dogs in the hot sun, breathing dust and exhaust fumes all day, just so that they can double-down on last year. Why? You can only grow so much weed, and the more weed you grow, the harder you work, and the less you make per pound. You don’t have to worry about getting caught. You’ve been caught. They’re draining the pond around you, so becoming a bigger fish won’t help. We need to evolve if we want to survive in this changing environment, and turning our backs on the world and burying ourselves in weed won’t help us one bit.

buried in weed

Pretty soon, everyone will have plenty of weed, and growing it will be just another shitty low-paying job. Like the rest of our shitty low-paying jobs, nobody around here will work them unless they can find an affordable place to live. In turn, even the marijuana industry will be forced to move elsewhere because they won’t be able to assemble the reliable workforce they need, here. We’re not preparing for the future, we’re digging a pit, and the deeper we dig, the longer it will take us to climb out of it.

stuck in a pit

Business owners already complain about how hard it is to find reliable help, and they complain about all of the homeless people hanging around town too, but instead of creating affordable housing that would make money, inspire people to take those shitty jobs and give them money to patronize local businesses, they’d rather grow more weed, and pay higher taxes, so that they can pay cops to chase poor people away from their phony downtown businesses. It’s ridiculous, and it’s cruel, and it’s just one facet of the ridiculous, and cruel, War on Drugs, but there it was, distilled down to a slogan you could put on a T-shirt, “Grow Big, or Go Homeless.” Have we lost our minds?

lost my mind van gogh

Marijuana used to mellow people out, but today it has got them acting crazy. I realize that the answer to every problem we’ve faced in the past has been, “grow more marijuana,” but the future demands something else from us this time, and the sooner we realize it, the better. It speaks to the failure of our government, that it waged a War on Drugs against it’s own people, and it speaks to the bankruptcy of our economic system that we rely so heavily on the violence, corruption and human suffering wrought by the War on Drugs, but ultimately, how we handle this situation, here, together, as a community, will determine our fate. We have got to do better than “Grow Big or Go Homeless,” if we want to build any kind of a future here in Southern Humboldt.

it doesnt get better

We Sent an Invitation to “Big Pot”

michele alexander quote

I had a nice chat with Linda Stansberry about “the Greenrush,” and it got me thinking about how ridiculous it is for so-called “Mom and Pop” growers to complain about it. First, it is hilarious to watch people, who made their living, for decades, by evading the law, complain to the Sheriff and ask why he isn’t doing more marijuana eradication. They’ve been completely blindsided. Even they had no idea how big the marijuana industry really was.

attention drug dealers

 

Second, after all of the wrangling about big grows vs small grows, the terms of the new county medical marijuana ordinance don’t seem to matter nearly so much as the fact that we were the first to adopt one. Because Humboldt County passed the first industry-friendly ordinance, we painted a target on ourselves. While they worked so hard to craft an ordinance that would keep prohibition-era farmers in the game in a legal market, they unwittingly wrote an invitation to every major drug syndicate in the world. We constructed our ordinance with an eye towards keeping out “Big Tobacco,” but we completely forgot about “Big Pot.”

big weed inc

For large-scale black market distributors, Humboldt County’s ordinance offers low-risk vertical integration as well as an opportunity to “go public” when the time is right. Who knew there were so many big fish lurking in the murky waters of the marijuana industry, just waiting to devour Humboldt County. Now we face a feeding frenzy that threatens to displace most of our community. As large distributors take over production, marijuana money will increasingly flow out of the area, while long-term locals fall into poverty and homelessness. Property becomes even more unaffordable, housing even more scarce and good paying jobs go extinct because big distributors cycle through temporary help, none of whom want to live here long-term, rather than hire locals.

hemp temps

Since these operators work the, still strong, global black market, they pay no taxes and ignore regulations, while they suck the rivers dry and level the forest with impunity. They don’t care about this place or the community. They got the invitation and now that they’re here, we’re going to have a hell of a time getting rid of them, especially if we’re not willing to say good bye to the marijuana industry too.

say goodbye

 

We should have said goodbye to the marijuana industry years ago, back when Anna Hamilton asked us to think about “What’s after pot?” People just couldn’t imagine an “afterlife.” If we had worked as hard to build a diverse economy based on cottage industries, arts and crafts, ecotourism, hospitality, and who knows what else, as we did to expand our marijuana production and lobby for price supporting regulation, we wouldn’t be in this mess. What’s our excuse for not investing our pot money in education, skill building or starting legitimate businesses while we had the chance?

your excuse

Instead, we put all of our eggs in one basket and naively told our Supervisors that we wanted to protect the marijuana industry. So, the Supes passed an ordinance that created another real-estate bubble, and with it, one more opportunity for agents, brokers and appraisers to get obscenely rich, while the rest of us lose our homes, the fish die and our forests become an industrial wasteland. Not only have we failed to protect our livelihood, we’ve insured the destruction of our community and the environment, just because we couldn’t see beyond marijuana, and because we wouldn’t change.

cant see beyond beliefs

Change happens. Either we make change, or change happens to us. We became obsessed with marijuana and money and “marijuana money” as a community, and the more obsessed we got, the more our world shrank. Instead of thinking beyond pot, we decided to become the center of the legal marijuana industry. We asked the Board of Supervisors for an industry-friendly ordinance, because we thought we were the industry. We should be more careful about what we ask for.

change2

Now that we have passed the ordinance, the industry doesn’t really need us anymore, it just wants our land. The people who used to send guys to Garberville to sit in the Humboldt House Inn and buy your weed all day, now send people here to buy property all day, and then send more people and equipment and money to level the forest, sack your homestead and blow-up another mega-grow.

mega grow

Whatever reputation Humboldt County growers have earned, that reputation gets transferred, along with the title of the land, to new owners from all over the world, whether they know how to grow weed or not. One or three (or none) of them may even come out on top of the legal cannabis market, when the dust finally settles, proudly bearing the “Made in Humboldt” label. Several more will quietly amass vast personal fortunes in the these chaotic transitional years. The rest of us, on the other hand, will have to find something else to do. We should have done it years ago, but even at this late stage in the game, the sooner we face it, the better.

before this

The Big Lie Called “Public Safety”

the big lie unmasking

Last year, Humboldt County instituted a a new regressive sales tax, Measure Z, that unduly burdens the poor in Humboldt County. This year, the county intends to pass a new ordinance that will infringe on our civil rights. Apparently it wasn’t enough to just send more cops out to harass the poor, which Measure Z funded, they now find it necessary to invent a new crime, for which the poor can be prosecuted. Still, no one wants to pay taxes, and no one wants to give up their rights, so how do our County Supervisors generate public support for these measures? That’s easy. They lie.

lies ill take apack

County Supervisors used the same lie for both Measure Z and this new proposed “aggressive solicitation ordinance.” That is the lie called “public safety.” Remember “public safety?” That was the lie the Federal Government used to justify marijuana prohibition too. “Public safety” is one of those big lies that fascists have used repeatedly throughout history to restrict civil rights, suppress dissent and control the public, and that’s exactly how the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors use it today. Don’t believe for one second that the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors gives a rat’s ass about public safety. All you have to do is watch Estelle Fennell drive to know that public safety is the very last thing on her mind.

Reckless-driving cartoon

“Public safety” sounds like a good thing. Who doesn’t support public safety? We outlawed fireworks, so we wouldn’t have so many forest fires. We outlawed driving while intoxicated so we could cut down on the number of traffic fatalities and we mandate seat-belt use for the same reason. Those are some ways that legislators have addressed public safety concerns through legislation. We can argue whether or not these laws work, but “public safety” becomes a big lie when politicians use it, not to save lives, but to steal our money and take away our rights.

big ripoff

I readily admit that Humboldt County is a dangerous place to live. We face many threats to public safety here in Humboldt County, some natural, some man-made. We’re prone to earthquakes, fires, floods, tsunamis and mudslides, all of which have a long, devastating history in Humboldt County, and we can rest assured that overwhelming natural disasters will remain a predictable part of our future. We could probably save a lot of lives by spending some money now to prepare for the inevitable. In a real disaster, it would really help to have plenty of bed space in emergency shelters, and it would help even more to have people with experience running an emergency shelter, who know what to expect when disaster strikes.

when disaster strikes

Just think of the lives that could be saved in a natural disaster, if we had a full-time emergency shelter in Southern Humboldt. Think of how many people need help in times of personal emergency, and how much good it would do for the whole community to have an emergency shelter serving people in crisis as a way of preparing for the major natural disasters that will inevitably impact all of us in the future. That’s what a policy designed for “public safety” might look like. You won’t see much of that in Humboldt County.

disaster-shelter2

Now ask yourself: When was the last time an “aggressive panhandler” killed anyone in Humboldt County, by panhandling too aggressively? I don’t think it has happened yet. I’m sure we would have heard about it on the news. Not one single death by “aggressive panhandling” in Humboldt County in as long as I can remember. I don’t ever recall hearing about a single injury, not even a bruise, caused by “aggressive panhandling” anywhere in Humboldt County, have you? The “public safety threat” posed by aggressive panhandling is entirely imaginary. We can only imagine how an aggressive panhandler might possibly threaten public safety, because we’ve never had a single aggressive panhandling related injury in Humboldt County in as long as anyone can remember.

25 cent jokes

On the other side of the coin, reckless drivers, like Estelle Fennell, kill and injure dozens of Humboldt County residents every year. Out-of -control drivers on the Briceland-Thorne Road constitute a serious threat to the public safety of the citizens of Southern Humboldt, but none of the money from Measure Z goes towards traffic enforcement West of Redway. Instead, the cops cruise around Redway and Garberville harassing poor people all day, poor people who do not own cars or drive cars, have not committed any crimes and do not pose any threat to public safety.

trouble with poor people

The cops themselves pose a serious threat to public safety. We have some of the most violent cops in the state. The Eureka Police Dept leads the state in police shootings, and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Dept is famous for torturing locked-down non-violent protesters by swabbing pepper-spray in their eyes. This we know for sure. Complaints and allegations of police abuse have only multiplied since then, and the EPD still refuses to turn over dash-cam video from an 2012 incident reported by Thadeus Greenson in the NCJ. Cops around here remain largely above the law which makes this threat to public safety even more insidious and dangerous.

police violence

But wait, there’s more.

but wait theres more 1

Dead bodies turn-up every month or so around here, and most of these deaths appear to be connected to the black-market marijuana industry. Hash labs explode every week or so, maiming and killing residents and destroying homes all over Humboldt County, and at least a dozen people, probably more, mostly young people, die in black-market drug deals every year in Humboldt County. Hundreds more die violent premature deaths in the black-market marijuana industry across the country every year in the process of selling Humboldt County marijuana. Not only does Humboldt County’s black-market marijuana industry dramatically impact public safety here in Humboldt County, we have become a public safety menace to the rest of the country.

pot plant

Speaking of black-market drug deals, we have some of the highest drug addiction and drug overdose rates in the state. We consume the equivalent of 14 Vicodin tablets every day, on average for every man, woman and child in Humboldt County, and that doesn’t include all of the heroin, meth and cocaine we consume. Drugs kill hundreds of people in Humboldt County every year. The deadly combination of an entrenched black-market coupled with our culture of addiction, poses, by far, our most serious threat to public safety here in Humboldt County, and the bright red cherry at the top of this public safety crises sundae is Hepatitis C.

Sundae

Humboldt County has been recognized as the most prolific breeding-grounds for Hepatitis C in the entire USA. The Hep-C epidemic threatens to overwhelm our public health system even without a natural disaster. Despite new treatments, complications of Hepatitis C claim tens of thousands of lives across the country every year.

Causes of hep C(4)

Welcome to the heart of the Hep-C generation, and you are welcome for that brief rundown of genuine public safety concerns that the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors could be working on at this very moment, were they not so busy lying to you, stealing your money and shutting you up. So, the next time your County Supervisor or your local newspaper tries to convince you that we need this new, unconstitutional, free-speech stifling, fascist police-state style “aggressive solicitation ordinance” in Humboldt County for “public safety” you will know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lying to you.

keep speaking the truth

“Aggressive Solicitation”

help

It’s open season on the poor and homeless in Southern Humboldt. Vigilante gangs terrorize them on the streets. Cops abuse them and local merchants harass them for not looking prosperous enough to patronize their overpriced ripoff businesses. Now the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors intends to pass a new ordinance designed to punish this oppressed population still further, while it chokes out our civil rights and strangles the democratic process to boot. The so-called “aggressive panhandling” or “aggressive solicitation” ordinance will make it a crime to ask for help in Humboldt County.

cops harass woman

Under this proposed ordinance, a person who had just been robbed, stabbed, beaten and left laying on the sidewalk screaming for help, could be cited for “aggressive solicitation.” This ordinance could stop Ray Oakes from asking the “Question of the Week” for the Humboldt Independent, and this ordinance could certainly be used to prevent effective grassroots organizing. Unions would have never gotten started without “aggressive solicitation.” It takes a whole lot of “aggressive solicitation” to get any grassroots political movement off the ground, and here in America we have whole religions dedicated to “aggressive solicitation.”

street preacher

Here in the USA, we decided, almost 250 years ago, that we prefer “aggressive solicitation” to violence, deceit and treachery, which had long been the custom in Europe, and it was the proud American tradition of “aggressive solicitation” established by such patriots as Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry and Paul Revere that made this country a beacon for freedom and democracy. More than a civil right, the right to “aggressively solicit” is a human right, and a birthright. In fact, “aggressive solicitation” is the only thing we know how to do, instinctively, from birth.

screaming baby

Without “aggressive solicitation” we would not survive as a species, and “aggressive solicitation” has an important function within the community, as well as the family. It makes no more sense to prohibit “aggressive solicitation” within the community, than it does to punish a baby for crying in the house. If your baby won’t stop crying, you don’t punish the baby, you feed the baby. “Aggressive solicitation” is a signal, and we ignore it, or worse, prohibit it, at our own peril.

feed the baby

In another era, both past and perhaps future, with more enlightened judges, the Supreme Court would almost certainly shoot down any ordinance resembling the one the Supes currently consider, but thanks to the Scalia Court, the court that handed down “Citizens United” and declared that money is protected speech and corporations are citizens, they could probably get away with it. Who knows how constitutional this proposed ordinance, or the one Eureka and Fortuna passed, will look next year?

future of the supreme court

I did a lot of political work back in the ’90s, to legalize marijuana, and to close nuclear power plants. We would never have been able sustain those movements without a significant amount of “aggressive solicitation.” I know, because I did it. I could get a complete stranger to write me a check for $100 in two minutes.

write a check

I didn’t just approach pedestrians, or stand on street corners, malls, parks and other public spaces, although I did plenty of that too. I went even further. I raised a lot of money for a number of organizations by wandering through neighborhoods where I didn’t know anyone, onto private property, and knocking on complete strangers’ front doors. I knocked on about 50 doors every night. That’s “aggressive solicitation” no matter how you look at it. Lots of people called the cops on me.

call the cops

At the time, what I did was considered constitutionally protected free speech. We had a legal department, and when we didn’t have a legal department, we had the ACLU. Occasionally, some little uptight burg would pass an ordinance like the one the Supes are now considering, and liberal New England lawyers would swarm them like hornets, and they’d never do it again. We won every time.

ACLU

Around here, non-profit groups seem to rely more on alcohol sales and parties to fund their campaigns, than the kind of direct grassroots fund-raising that I did. I doubt any of them will recognize the threat this proposed ordinance poses, or stand up for their right to become politically relevant one day. The poor and homeless don’t have a legal team to defend their rights, and the general public has no idea what it takes to organize a grassroots movement, and I doubt many of them even care.. It seems most people in Humboldt County prefer violence, deceit and treachery to democracy anyways.

treachery and violence

But here’s the kicker. I have, never once, been “aggressively solicited” by anyone in Humboldt County. I don’t spend a lot of time in Garberville, but I usually walk from the library at the North end of town, to the thrift stores on the South side of town, right through the Garberville shopping district,, at least once or twice a week. I’ve usually got a buck for anyone who asks, but hardly ever does anyone ask. When they do ask, people usually ask very timidly, and often I can barely hear them.

shy homeless person

Even in Eureka and Arcata, I get “spanged” every once in a while. Usually by the fourth ask, I’m tapped out, but I can’t remember the last time four people asked me for spare change on the same day, anywhere in Humboldt County. Does that really constitute a problem? Once, years ago, I got hustled for $20, by the kid who used to own Nacho Mamma, when I saw him a few years later, in the parking lot of Eureka Natural Foods. Honestly, I was glad to see that at least someone around here had it together enough to concoct an effective rap, and I knew the guy. If he told me he needed $20, for anything, I’d have given it to him, once.

20 dollar quote

I don’t think we have a problem with “aggressive solicitation,” so much as we have a problem with “aggressive fascism.” We have a craven cadre of drug dealers, real-estate developers and merchants pulling the strings of our elected officials to invent new laws that criminalize poverty and stifle dissent. They all want to skim the economic cream from the injustice of the War on Drugs, while they criminalize the poverty the War on Drugs creates in this community. Does it get any uglier, greedier or more corrupt than that? No, I don’t think we have a problem with “aggressive solicitation” at all. We have a much bigger problem than that, and it’s going to take a lot of “aggressive solicitation” to solve it.

Fascism mussolini quote

You Can Count On Me

count on me keep calm

People sometimes criticize me for my over-the-top opinions and no-holds-barred writing style. They think I should moderate my views and be more sensitive to people’s feelings. Fuck that! In reality, these people just wish I would shut the fuck up and leave them alone with their illusions, but they want to say it in a way that sounds like constructive criticism.

constructive criticism

If Carl Hiaasen offered a few words of advice about my writing, I’d be all ears, but when I get writing advice here in SoHum, it usually comes from people who can barely read. I don’t listen to them any more than I would take target shooting advice from an unarmed blind man. If you can’t see the target, and you’ve never handled a gun, you won’t be much help, so relax. I know what I’m doing, and I shoot straight.

shoot straight kid

You’re lucky to have me, frankly. Thirty years of silence, secrecy and sycophantic schemers has given this community a very distorted image of itself. The injustice of marijuana prohibition turned community values on their head. What began as a new green awakening, degenerated into the same old greed and dishonesty. We celebrate marijuana, but our addiction to the War on Drugs shapes us, and it shows.

it shows

 

Greed is uglier than alcoholism. It’s even uglier than meth addiction, and that heartless, senseless, relentless thirst for more takes a toll. Like alcohol and meth, greed hardens people while it kills them from the inside. I see what that disease does to people. I see what that disease has done to this community.

alcoholism disease

While cannabis may have healing qualities that make the user more sensitive to subtle emotional cues, the War on Drugs produces hard, rotten people. Every community has a few, quite a few, I’m sorry to say, just like every community has it’s share of alcoholics, tweakers and greed-heads. Unfortunately, the opportunities created here by the War on Drugs tend to attract them, so we have more than our fair share. We also have more than our fair share of money, which, like gravity, inexorably draws greedy scum towards it.

money like gravity

The War on Drugs made bad people rich while it drove honest people out of town, just like it does in any drug ghetto, and just like in any drug ghetto, we have enormous social problems as a result. We try to put a nice face on it. We try to look like a normal, prosperous, small town, but the truth shows. It angers the rich ugly, hard, rotten people around here, that they can’t just sweep the poor, ugly, hard, rotten people out of sight, but that’s who we are, and that’s what the War on Drugs has done to us. So long as the War on Drugs continues, we shall remain, as a community, unnaturally rich, unnaturally poor, and rotten to the core.

rotten to the core skull

Greedy bankers and real-estate blood-suckers measure the marijuana industry in dollars, because that’s all greedy people see, but the more money the marijuana industry brings to Humboldt County, the more poverty it produces. The black market marijuana industry produces poverty all over this country, but here in SoHum, it produces some of the most expensive poverty money can buy.

poverty an expensive luxury

Greedy people, like drug addicts, become so focused on their addiction that they often fail to notice how poor they really are. The people who drive those spotlessly clean late-model trucks, often live in total squalor, expensive squalor, but squalor nonetheless. Lots of children grow up in dysfunctional homes, without books, living on junk food, and we have some of the highest suicide and drug addiction rates in the state. For all the money that the War on Drugs brings in, we sure don’t seem to live very well as a result.

Money-Wont-make-you-happy zig ziglar

It takes more than money to make a community function. It takes culture, and hard, rotten people produce a hard, rotten culture. It’s a hard, rotten culture that blames the poor for their poverty, and rewards drug dealers for their greed, and this hard, rotten culture belies our deepest poverty: our penurious shortage of intelligence, imagination and moral courage. I know you don’t want to hear it, folks, but that’s the truth. You won’t get that from many people around here, but you can count on me.

you can Count-On-Me