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Doris writes a weekly column for LaGaceta, the nation's only trilingual newspaper, which has pages in English, Spanish, and Italian.  Begun in 1922 for Tampa's immigrant community, it continues to thrive more than a century later.  Her column is titled "In Context," as it aims to put contemporary issues in the context of the past.

Let's Cool It With the Impeachment Talk

As usual, Nancy Pelosi is absolutely right and should be heeded.  I've been amazed at how many of my smart friends are jumping on the impeachment bandwagon.  Yes, of course, there is lots of legal justification for that move – but these Democrats seem not to see that Mike Pence is the inevitable next step down impeachment path.  If this vice president becomes president before the 2020 election, he'll have the advantage of incumbency and voters will be deceived all over again.


He'll be exactly like another hypocritical and dimwitted vice president from Indiana – you remember Dan Quayle, right?  His president, George Bush the First, was sufficiency experienced in government that he kept a lid on Quayle's embarrassments, but that of course is not the case with the Current Occupant.  Pence will present a nice, conventional, good-hair contrast to Trump, and lots of voters will rush to him to atone for their mistake at the top of the ticket last time.  But although Pence will be less of an international mortification, he will be equally bad for civil rights and economic justice at home.  Most important, we could miss the opportunity to elect another Bill Clinton or Barack Obama.  Or, preferably, a female version of them.


And then there's the matter of dozens of co-conspirators.  If the scene shifts from the judicial system to impeachment by the Congress, not only does politics play a stronger role, but many truly bad guys will not get the sentences that the courts otherwise would hand down.  Think how much better off we all would be if Roger Stone had gone to the prison the first time around, along with other Nixon acolytes.  Let's let these jerks cool their heels while prosecutors take the time to build cases that will keep them in the cooler for the rest of their worthless lives. 


Stone, Manafort, and many other Trump supporters have seen government as a game for decades.  They aren't so much loyal to Trump personally as they are natural fascists and oligarchs who exploit the naive to enrich themselves.  The last list I saw of potential co-conspirators had about eighty names, and I'd like to see them all checked out.  Hillary was right:  there is and has been for a long time a vast right-wing conspiracy, and now it is international, with Russia's Putin laughing all the way to the bank.  Swiss banks, that is, or those in the Caymans, where dark depositors go.


These are people who value riches above all else, and they should be taken down case-by-case.  Following the money trails of guys who are experts at hiding it takes time, but it's important to get it right – not only to punish criminals, but also to make the global economic system more democratic.  Prosecutors should have the time to do their work methodically, and due process should be so complete that ill-gotten gains are obvious to all.  This is especially true because, with his threats about using the military, the police, and Bikers for Trump, he has made it clear that he would enjoy a civil war.  So take time.  Make the case that the dealing with Russia would be considered treason if Democrats did it.  Give the co-conspirators rope; don't take it away for a premature hanging of Trump. 


Our Changing Times


         My sister keeps me apprised of things in my home state and recently sent a copy of the weekly publication, Arkansas Business.  The front page story was "Little Plants on the Prairie:  A Peek at Arkansas' First Crop of Medical Marijuana."  The four-page report was entirely positive, especially emphasizing the money to be made in a literally green industry.  More than thirty marijuana dispensaries have been set up in the state.  Although they are fairly evenly distributed by geography, I noticed immediately that the area with the most investors was around Bentonville, home of Wal-Mart.  The Walton family and other smart folks up in the Ozarks can see the future.


         And yet it makes me sad.  Think about all of those people whose lives were ruined when they were arrested for possessing pot.  Especially now that private prisons have discovered that there isn't as much money to be made as they thought, we would do well to review prison censuses for people who were convicted of something that now is legal.  This could be a savings to taxpayers, too, as well as an employment program for lawyers.


         Think also of the fact that other mind-altering drugs, especially alcohol, have been available throughout American history.  Think about how much the prejudice against this particular drug may be based in the name, at least unconsciously.  Americans never had any problem smoking tobacco, but "marijuana," of course, translates to "Mary Jane."  How much of its undeservedly negative reputation is due to its Mexican origin?  (And no, I don't smoke or eat or otherwise use it.  Vodka is legal and sufficient.)


Not All Change, Of Course, is Progress


         Take this proposal from a Missouri Republican, who presumably persuaded people to elect him to the legislature.  I'm going to quote blogger Chris Reeves, as I couldn't write the story better:  "It is near unthinkable that any private company in America could be elevated to the point where the government picks & chooses winners – by forcing all citizens to own their product.  It, however, wasn't unthinkable to Representative Andrew McDaniel, who put forward…House Bill 1108.  The bill has a simple demand.  The McDaniel Militia Act would offset the entire cost of an AR-15 to everyone between 18 and 36 who is eligible to own a weapon, and then would require them to do so."


         The bill's language:  "Any person who qualifies as a resident on August 28, 2019, and who does not own an AR-15 shall have one year to purchase an AR-15… A resident may sell an AR-15, provided that the resident owns at least one for the entire time he or she qualifies as a resident."  Reeves added, "Missouri Republicans, now intent to tell families how they must spend their money – and on which specific vendors – seem to be saying the Government has a duty to force you to buy two weapons for every qualifying adult… No word on how the Deering Republican expects those in poverty to pay for the weaponry."


         And hey, what about those of us older than 35?  We can't get a free gun?  Surely someone in the legislature will offer a friendly amendment to take care of that omission.  This would at least partially fulfill my lifelong proposal on this issue:  Only Grandmothers Should Have Guns.  And do you think we could persuade hordes of Floridians to move to Missouri to build up their weapons cache?  That would be helpful in lots of ways.  Of course, you have to read the fine print to realize that this mandated purchase is not reimbursed in cash, but only with a tax credit.  Given that Florida doesn't have an income tax in the first place…


Seniors as Conservatives?


         Pundits always have seen us elderly folks as conservatives – except of course for those socialist programs that benefit us, primarily Social Security and Medicare.  Now decades old, those programs proved to be fiscally sound and extremely popular, and the best that conservatives (Republicans) can hope for is that voters will forget that they were created by liberals (Democrats).  That soon will be the case with Obamacare, and opponents will (or at least should) recognize the mistake they made in scornfully attaching his name to it.  Even my spellchecker recognizes it as legitimate.


         We seniors have opinions, however, on more than Social Security and health care.  While it's true that young people around the world now are marching to draw attention to climate change, my generation has had the environment near the top of our agenda since we created Earth Day in 1970.  And I hope that the young Americans who are promoting the Green New Deal remember that their grandparents promoted the New Deal that created the modern economy, including the Civilian Conservation Corps that preserved millions of acres of land.  Neither that generation nor mine was largely composed of conservatives – not even after we aged. 

The Green Deal has the potential to again create well-paid jobs in essentially rewiring the world to be less polluted, and I hope young people will use that as their chief preaching point.  As with the issue of impeachment above, I hope they cool it on predictions of imminent environmental disaster.  Please remember that parts of Great Britain, the geographical location we know best, have been falling into the sea for centuries.  The Jurassic Period may reappear, but it's a long time off, and panicked prognostications help no one.


         But back to pondering the assumption that seniors are conservative.  I don't think so.  Aging hippies are the backbone of my East Hillsborough Democratic Club, the Sierra Club, the AARP, etc.  We are the generation of now-grown kids, both black and white, who took to the streets for civil rights.  We protested against the Vietnam War, and we ended both it and the military draft.  We seriously cut down on legal discrimination against women, and we have protected our reproductive rights for more than 45 years.  Lots of younger people have done less. 


And many – think of the sneering faces of young conservative Congressmen Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan – are infinitely more regressive than their average elder.  "Conservative," that is, in the sense of "I've got mine."  I've never seen that bumper sticker on a vehicle driven by an older person.  Instead, it's the hubris of youth, especially white male youth.  Being young no more makes a person liberal than being old makes one conservative, and I wish politicos would stop filing me under that category.  Grannies are uniting for 2018.  No cookies will be baked for those who try to stop us.



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