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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Legalize Marijuana For The Chronic Pain Victims

Category: Society
Posted: 03/12/18 14:54

by Dave Mindeman

I have long been an advocate of legalizing marijuana. The evidence of this being a harmful drug are lacking and the incarceration rates relevant to it are completely out of line.

But here is the main emphasis I would like to make. Marijuana (Cannabis) would be a safe alternative to opioid pain treatment. And in this current crisis, we owe it to everyone on chronic pain therapy to have it available to them.

Maybe complete legalization is too far for some, but a much more open and simple process of medical marijuana must be allowed. The expensive bureaucracy that we are creating is just unnecessary.

Regulate it heavily. Make marijuana availability equivalent to the restrictions on alcohol or tobacco. But we need to cease the criminality farce.

Law enforcement has not been on board legalization efforts. And I understand that to some extent. Forcing weed underground with all of the criminal elements involved give police and investigators all sorts of headaches. And I assume that they cannot fathom changing that overnight.

But we can and we must. Because too many people have no other alternatives than opioids for pain.

Marijuana is not going to be a panacea of change here. It won't help everybody but in terms of medicine, it will do no harm. The evidence of what little study we are allowed to do on marijuana is very encouraging and for a country in an addiction crisis - what do we really have to lose?

New studies are giving us even better information....

A November 2017 study comparing opioids and cannabis had a very positive correlation. The conclusion:

The clinically and statistically significant evidence of an association between MCP enrollment and opioid prescription cessation and reductions and improved quality of life warrants further investigations on cannabis as a potential alternative to prescription opioids for treating chronic pain.

Another study had further positive results....

34 percent reported having used opioid pain medication in the previous six months. A majority of patients reported that cannabis was just as effective or more effective than opioids -- but without undesirable side effects. Of the patients reporting having used opioids, 97 percent reported having been able to reduce or eliminate opioids. And, 81 percent reported using cannabis alone was more effective opioids.

Legalizing marijuana is becoming a necessity. And all the handwringing about its "dangers" are close to fantasy in actuality.

We do not have a friendly Justice Department in this regard. In fact, Jeff Sessions is the worst possible place holder for real progress on this issue. But the public needs to override all of that.

Chronic pain victims need your help.
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A Tribute To Old Glory

Category: Society
Posted: 03/05/18 14:46

by Dave Mindeman

I was driving south bound on I-35 through Lakeville and I passed the new Gander Outdoors store (formerly Gander Mountain) and there in all its glory was the largest flag I had ever seen. It was very windy so Old Glory was completely unfurled and waving like those amber waves of grain.

I was surprised at the pride I felt in that moment. I love our flag and what it stands for....but being a liberal Democrat, "real" Americans seem to think I have forfeited any right to feel that pride, because after all I don't have the proper respect. At least not the respect that "real" Americans have.

But let me just say this before I violate the conservative code on what is the definition of patriot.

To me, just my opinion, you cannot give the flag its due unless you are a proper observer or student of history. That flag has spent the last 250 years flying over a tumultuous democracy (or rather republic).

From its tattered beginnings, illuminated by the rockets red glare, in the War of 1812, the flag has stood. From the brother against brother assault in the Civil War, the flag emerged- weakened but still standing. In the war to end all wars, the flag rescued Europe and expanded its global reach. In the second war to end all wars, the flag emerged as a world power. During the Cold War, the flag was tested once again by a nuclear destructive threat of incredible proportions - but weathered the potential of nuclear landscape. In later years, the flag has been further tested by division - from Vietnam to Iraq to Trumpism....through all of it, the Stars and Stripes continues to protect the people it serves....whether we respect it or not. Whether we understand its meaning or not. And whether we truly believe in what it stands for...or not.

Despite the opinions of Trumpers, Tea Partiers, the NRA, or social conservatives - I love this country. I love the flag because of what it really means. Freedom and opportunity.

We are testing that meaning every day now. The inscription on the Statue of Liberty is being rewritten with restrictions never dreamed of by this country's founders. The issues of race and gender and sexual orientation are having struggles that a nation conceived upon the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for every individual American, could not imagine given those principles and the changes over the course of time.

We are tested on competing claims for the flag's authority on guns. Gun owners think that guns are guaranteed without restrictions based on the Second Amendment. Others feel the flag tells them that they have an equal right to feel safe and secure from those who would abuse those second amendment rights.

But our newest test and danger to the principles of our flag is immigration. Was America really meant to be a bastion ONLY for Americans? And what constitutes an American - after all we are ALL immigrants to some degree. Can we abandon those people looking for hope in war pillaged countries or besieged by famine in others?

Is an American only white? Is an American a race? a gender? a social class? Is an American any unique entity in any way, shape, or form?

We go through these "protectionist" periods in our history when we get concerned that the goodness of America is a finite substance. That we cannot possibly take care of everyone who wants to be here...to be us.

But at some point, we realize that protecting ourselves is counter to our very place in the world. When the world needs help, they look to us. Can we just turn away? Those who say we are founded on Christian principles (which I disagree with for many reasons) must at least hold to the concept of we are our brother's keeper....or suffer the least of these to come and forbid them not...or do unto others as you would have them do unto you. How can a Christian nation or just a responsible good hearted nation ignore the pleas of those who need help and protection.

We are the hope to people living in authoritarian countries. We are supposed to be the example, the beacon, the safe haven for those that seemingly have no hope.

We cannot abandon that. The Flag will not abandon that. We can have momentary lapses about deciding who we are - but the flag brings us back. Back to a land of the free and the home of the brave. Not just for a privileged few - we overthrew privilege 250 years ago - No, we are a nation that welcomes those who are tired, poor, and yearn to be free.

We will come back to those principles. Our flag demands it.
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Message Notwithstanding: The DFL Is Rural MN's Best Hope

Category: Society
Posted: 02/19/18 08:24

by Dave Mindeman

In a Star Tribune article about the caucuses, there was this paragraph near the end about the 23B special election worth noting...

This points up a problem for the DFL: The House GOP's ruthless greater Minnesota messaging -- DFL equals city slickers who don't care about you or your people -- continues to work. And/or the DFL's standing in districts in greater Minnesota has quickly collapsed for myriad possible reasons. President Barack Obama lost the Munson district by just 3 points. Gov. Mark Dayton lost by just 2 points. But now their party is in a 15-20 point hole.

OK - let's examine this. I do not question that the DFL is in a hole with rural districts like this. Saying it is 15-20 points is a little hyperbole, but there is a deficit to be sure.

The thing I never understand is that the House GOP's messaging is just that - a message. 1) It is not true. 2) The GOP is worse for rural communities than the DFL has been.

Yes, the DFL has lost some of its Farmer roots - but you ask some of the Farmer organizations and you may hear a different story. Rural Minnesota may be a challenge for Democrats but greater Minnesota cities are not exactly happy with the results coming from the GOP.

Rural areas are farms and small towns - neither of which get anything other than a message of "the DFL is bad for you" from the Republicans.

When it comes to their issues, the Republican legislature is a disaster.

1) Broadband - the consistent theme on broadband is that the Democrats propose larger funding proposals and the GOP cuts them down to the minimum. Rep. Garofalo keeps telling our rural constituents to wait for new satellite technology - that's all they need. But they are not buying it.

2) LGA - the biggest beneficiaries of local government aid (LGA) are the smaller and mid-size greater MN towns. Although dollar amounts to the metro area may be larger - on a per capita basis, the state help to rural Minnesota is much more concentrated. Democrats have championed LGA for years. The Republicans have called it a budgetary waste.

3) Buffers - Dayton took the lead and the heat on this issue. It is very important for water quality. To their credit, Minnesota farmers have complied with the new rules, but would like more say in how it is implemented. The MN GOP has just been a critic - not a leader. In the long run farmers and the state will benefit, but not from any GOP policy.

4) Infrastructure - Per capita MNDOT dollars are much greater in rural Minnesota than the Metro. The GOP "message" is that greater MN is shortchanged by the concentration of mass transit in the Twin Cities. But while the MN GOP legislature is hard core cutters on transit, they do not move those dollars into a rural infrastructure - they just tack on extra tax cut money. Many rural projects slated to be acted on, have been delayed by budgetary funding shortages which the current legislature is responsible for.

5) Child Care - Although this doesn't seem like a particular major rural issue, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities lists it in their top three on their home page. Western Minnesota has been talking about this for awhile now....

The situation is being called a crisis in many areas outside of the Twin Cities, with reports easy to find of parents taking their children to communities 40 miles away.

Hear any MN Republicans talking about that? I haven't.

So, the MN Republicans hide behind a message. They keep preaching to long time Republicans that the DFL is NOT their friend in rural Minnesota. But that is a questionable statement on the merits. The DFL has tried to address the above named policies for several years - especially during the Dayton tenure - and have met nothing but resistance and obstruction from their Republican counterparts.

The DFL may have a messaging problem in rural Minnesota, but they are, in reality, rural Minnesota's greatest hope.
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