Sunday, February 23, 2014

Will Britain Become The Next Ukraine?

To have had any exposure to media at all in the past few weeks is to witness the uprising in Ukraine by its people against its authoritarian government and that government's equally authoritarian Russian sponsors.  Yes, Mr. Putin, I'm talking about you, and am grateful that your ridiculously expensive Winter Olympics cannot and will not hide what you really are.  It's horrifying to see this much carnage in a country whose liberation a few decades ago, along with others in the former Eastern Bloc, served as a beacon of hope to oppressed peoples everywhere.

As it turns out, however, internal disasters are by no means limited to former Soviet republics these days.  Consider the situation in our former colonial ruler and staunchest ally, Great Britain, which is being torn apart by events of almost Biblical proportions--from student riots to lowland flooding to Highland rebellion.  This, despite "austerity" policies that were supposed to unleash the magic of the marketplace to solve everyone's problems.

Well, guess what?  There are some problems the marketplace can't solve.  The marketplace wasn't designed to solve all of our problems, any more than government is designed to solve all of our problems.  The public sector does some things better than the public sector, and vice versa.  This was the prevailing view in most Western democracies in the last half of the last century, and it produced the greatest era of prosperity the world has ever known.

But then, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher led their respective countries away from the path of reason, and down the path of ideology--the path favored by those who wish not to govern, but to rule.  In other words, the path our Eastern neighbors tried to follow, and failed.

Great Britain is now beginning to get a sense of what that kind of failure may feel like.  By electing a government that has willfully surrendered much of its own power and authority to a private sector that cares about nothing except the rise of the stock markets, it has begun to trod down a path that leads to internal destruction, much like the turmoil currently engulfing Ukraine.  And the United States, truth be told, may not be far behind it, depending on the outcome of the next elections.

I call upon Prime Minister Cameron and his party to toss Thatcherism into the dustbin of history it has done so much to earn.  I call upon them to respect and follow a less authoritarian version of Toryism, one that served Britain well from Disraeli to Heath.  I call upon them to reclaim the power and authority to act as the government should--as the agent of all of the people of Britain, and not just the ones that contribute to its campaign coffers.  I call upon them to do this, before Britain becomes another Ukraine.

And I call on conservatives in this country to do the same, before we become like either of these neighbors of ours in the global neighborhood that connects us all.

Why I'm Almost Glad We Lost The Hockey Gold In 2014

I can remember it like it was yesterday.  I was working out at a health club in Forest Hills, New York, minding my own business.  All of a sudden, some of the other men started cheering, high-fiving, and shouting "WE BEAT THE F***ING RUSSIANS!"

At first, I thought that World War Three had suddenly broken out and, just as suddenly, ended.  No such luck.  Turns out that they were celebrating what is now immortalized in sports history as the "Miracle on Ice," the beating of the Russian hockey team at the 1980 Winter Olympics by a U.S. team composed of amateurs.  This was what all the hullabaloo was all about.

I don't diminish what the U.S. team accomplished, given the systematic abuse of Olympic standards by Russian and Eastern Bloc officials.  The U.S. team was the underdog, and this is a country that roots for underdogs, especially when we're the underdog.  I also have always believed it should be put into some perspective.  Much was made of the U.S. "amateur" team, but many of those amateurs went on to play in the NHL, where the level of play and competition is very much at Olympic levels.  Then, too, they were effectively playing in front of a home-team crowd at Lake Placid; who knows how much that tilted the overall atmosphere in their favor?

But, above all, it was a sports event.  I repeat:  a sports event.  It did not decide the great issues of the day, save any lives, liberate any peoples, or make life in general easier or more comfortable.  It was a hockey game, one of many winter sports events in an overall sports event that has, as its first and foremost goal, the promotion of peace and brotherhood.  Not so this particular hockey game:  it got folded into the conservative mythological narrative that America is always better than the rest of the world, and became part of the campaign plutonium that put Ronald Reagan in the White House and began the turning of America into a banana republic.

What most people don't see, however, is that, by taking that hockey game and turning it into the moral equivalent of an act of war, we effectively descended to the emotional and mental levels of the people we were so proud of defeating.  Sadly, we did much the same thing at the 1972 Summer Olympics, when the men's basketball team refused to accept their silver medals because of what they saw as unfair refereeing in the medals game.  Once again, nationalism triumphed in an atmosphere designed to promote mutual understanding and sportsmanship.  In Munich, we were poor losers; in Lake Placid, we were poor winners.

I don't deny that we are not the only country that acts this way.  But saying that other countries act this way is no justification for American pride.  That pride is justified not by descending to the level of your opponents, but by rising above it.  Frankly, it is worth losing a game if, in the process, the character you show raises the overall sportsmanship of the event, a value that transcends any one game, or any one Olympics.

Which, in a highly roundabout way, is why I'm almost grateful for this.  Let it be a teachable moment for all of us about sportsmanship, and about that thing that conservatives claim is so valuable:  character.

Is Peggy Noonan Dumb Or Deceitful?

Turns out she just can't figure out how the wealthy took center stage, even though she was backstage on opening night.  Or is something else going on here?  To paraphrase Fox, Daily Kos reports, and you can decide.  I've already made my decision.

Farewell, Mr. Utley

A loss of yet another link to the age when TV journalists were journalists, and not tabloid journalists.  RIP.

Turns Out That Tea Partiers LOVE The Undocumented

And they want to keep them that way, the better to exploit them with fear.  How else do you explain this?

The Chicken-Or-The-Egg Analysis Of Poverty

Or, to put it another way, which matters most as a cause:  circumstances or character?  Find the answer here.

Turns Out That A Liberal Can Be A Conservative Mugged By Realty

Or, if he's not a convert to liberalism, he's a first-class hypocrite.  Fracking for thee, but not for me--that's the Exxon CEO way.

Now, THAT'S The Way To Fight Back, UAW!

Ask for a new election at the VW Chattanooga plant, that is.  I have no doubt you'll get it.  I'm not as confident about the outcome of such an election.  Especially if Bob Corker keeps violating his oath of office by making thinly veiled threats.  Why in the world can't at least one Senator lead an effort to censure this transparently indecent man?  And why couldn't the Tennessee Democratic Party not find someone to run against him?  Unopposed officials have no incentive to act like there's an opposition.  That's why we have elections in the first place.

Thankfully, the UAW appears to have more spine.  Let's hope it leads to good results.

Is Volunteerism Dying?

That was the question I asked myself yesterday after learning an astonishing fact about a local community theater audition.

Baltimore is blessed with a significant number of community theaters, i.e., small companies that mostly on ticket sales, small donations, and the all-volunteer efforts of people on stage and off.  For theater people, it is either a great way to start a professional career or a great alternative to having one.  The community, of course, benefits both from the works performed and the general enhancement of the quality of local living.  But none of these theaters could survive without volunteers, especially volunteer actors.  Fortunately, Baltimore has never had a shortage in this category.

Until, quite possibly, now.  I learned the other day by way of Facebook that no one--I repeat, literally no one--attended an audition for a new production by one of the city's oldest and best-know community theaters.

That gave me a lot of cause for pause.  I'd often heard of shows that were struggling to cast one particular role.  But I'd never heard of a show that couldn't find enough warm bodies for an entire cast.

It made me think, however, about my own experience as an actor, and the direction it has taken.  I became a union actor just over four years ago, which precluded me from any further performing in community theater.  I did so in part because I wanted to make a serious effort to get professional work, but also because, as a partner in a small law firm, I could no longer justify the long number of volunteer hours away from my firm at the expense of our clients' needs.  (I should add that, in making this decision, it didn't--and doesn't--hurt that my partner is also my wife).  I knew that, if I wanted to act, I had to find a way to justify doing so financially.  So I did--and I've never regretted it.

But yesterday's news made me wonder:  Is the economy so bad that no one can volunteer anymore?

And, if that's the case, where is the advertisement for charity supplanting government as the primary source of public services?  For that matter, where is the argument in refusing to raise the minimum wage, or extend unemployment benefits, or doing anything to help Americans financially, in both the short and long term?

In short, what is the conservative argument for making the lives of Americans better, other than hoping Obamacare will be so bad that it will automatically lead voters to give conservatives full control of the government again?

It obviously doesn't exist.  They don't care about making America better.  They care deeply about one thing, and one thing only.  Power.  For themselves.

And not you.

Which is why you should NOT give them your vote.  Otherwise, a lot more in this country than volunteerism will soon be dead.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

There They Go Again, Blaming Everyone Else In The U.S. First

Pity poor Diane Francis.

According to her above-link OpEd piece in The New York Post, she and her husband are something close to international heroes for their incredibly brave decision to buy a luxury condominium on Manhattan's 57th Street.  They're creating jobs!  They're adding tax revenue!  They're single-handedly saving New York City from the greedy commoners who have the nerve to question who is benefiting the most in a metropolis where the benefits of living are increasingly front-loaded for the 1%, and everyone else is asking how they're suppose to continue living in a city they can no longer afford!  Why, those greedy parasites scurrying about in the subways instead of limos should be grateful for their very existence.

She's missing the point.  And she's not alone.

As an immigration lawyer who helps investors with visas, I frankly have no problem whatsoever with helping the Diane Francises of the world invest in America.  I believe America is well worth investing in.  And there's no doubt that we need the additional revenue.

But let's be clear.  All of us pay taxes.  All of us contribute to the public fisc in more ways than one.  And, even in New York, the burdens do not fall exclusively, or even disproportionately, on those with high incomes.  In fact, when it comes to owning real estate in New York, those at the top of the economic house of cards we have built for ourselves benefit greatly from the rules that have been written for them, as this New York Daily News article shows.  Clearly, Mrs. Francis and her husband are far from dumb.  They may indeed "fork out at least $25,000 a year in property and sales taxes," but I'm inclined to suspect that this "sacrifice" will barely begin to compare to the ones that are being made the overwhelming majority of us.

And that is what's wrong with the system that's been built for the benefit of those at the top, based on the assumption that those at the top are the most essential economic players.  The truth is that their income is only possible because of our spending.  They are not supporting us; we are supporting them.  As Winwood Reade wrote in "The Martyrdom of Man," there is no wealth without industry.  And there is no industry without labor.  Or, to quote a truly great Republican President:  "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."  Thank you, Mr. Lincoln.

That is why Bill de Blasio is now Diane Francis' mayor.  He understands just how badly we have reversed Lincoln's understanding of the relative merits of capital and labor, and why he is determined to do something about it.

Enjoy life in the Big Apple, Mrs. Francis.  It's a city that's filled with heroes.  But buying overvalued real estate does not make you one of them.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

"A Letter To My Son About Porn"

If you have a son who is about to enter adolescence, or even one who is already there, you owe it to him and to yourself to share this with him.  Trust me.  It may very well be the biggest favor you ever did for him.

Has The Citizens United Decision Permitted Overseas Contributions?

It's beginning to look like the answer is "Yes."  If that's true, it could accelerate the drive to pass a constitutional amendment against this monstrosity of a SCOTUS decision.  Money is not speech, and corporations are not people.  Period.

A First-Hand Source On The Fraud Of CEO Pay

A former CEO.  I'll let him speak for himself.  But I certainly second everything he says.

Maybe the Democrats CAN Retake The House

If Alex Sink is any indication, that is.  Go, Alex!  And let's do whatever we can to help her!

Look Who's Talking, Mitt Romney

I hold no brief for Vladimir Putin.  But could there be a better example of the pot calling the kettle black than this?

Mitt, when you and your fellow plutocrats liberate the trillions of dollars you're hiding offshore, and return it to the country whose name is stamped on it, so that it can be used for "nation building" in the nation where it belongs, I'll consider deputizing you to lecture overseas plutocrats.  Then, and not one second before.

Further Evidence Of The Rise Of "Big Government" Republicans

The worker base of the United States is rapidly becoming a base of guard labor.  This is inevitable, when the economy is controlled by thieves.  Even they know they don't deserve the fruits of your labor.

So why do you let them keep it?

"Big Government" Republicans And Union Busting

Consider the following:

Auto workers participate in an election to decide whether or not they want their interests represented before management by a union.  The employer not only raises no objection to the election, but indicates that it would be supportive of the outcome if the workers voted in favor of joining the union.

So what could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, if the workers and employer are in Tennessee, which now appears to be the home of "big government" Republicans.  Where a governor, a U.S. senator and other GOP state officials successfully intimated workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee to vote against their personal economic interests, and reject membership in the United Auto Workers.

Much of the media discussion of this story revolves around the fact that the plant is located in the South, which has a strong historical resistance to union organizing (much what you would expect from the folks that gave us slavery).  But no one (up until now) has looked at it from the prism of what masquerades as the Republican philosophy of government.

That philosophy, among other things, supposedly stands for the freedom of private parties to make contracts between themselves subject to whatever terms they agree to--without interference from government.  This is supposedly the basis for every conservative objection to every law or rule enacted in support of the rights of workers--that such laws and rules allegedly infringe on that limitation.  In fact, it is those rules that guarantee anything even close to a level playing field for employers and employees to contract with one another.  And the right to collectively bargain for working conditions is one of the most important rights of all.  In an age when employers are corporations and not individuals, unions give employees the collective strength they need to protect their rights.

But, when big-government Republicans talk about more freedom and less government, they are not talking about more freedom and less government for working men and women.  They are talking about the shiny new tax breaks and deregulation they want to give to their corporate masters, and only their corporate masters.  For the rest of us, it's the right to slavery, masquerading as the "right to work."  Because that's what their corporate masters want, too.  Along with a set of election rules that allow unlimited contributions from their corporate masters to them, while restricting the rights of unions to use their funds for campaign contributions to their supporters.  Just consider the GOP double standard on corporate spending, and you'll soon realize that their "small government" rhetoric is just cover for the greed of their corporate masters.

And make no mistake.  No number of union election outcomes like the one in Chattanooga are going to appease that greed.  Those outcomes will not make employers want to do more for workers.  They will not keep jobs in this country.  They will not build a better future for your children, or their children.  It will just push this nation of free people further and further toward becoming a nation of slaves.

Unless you do something about it.  Organize, contribute, and vote in November.  Before Chattanooga becomes a symbol for the surrender of the American worker.

The Next Congress May Be An Impeachment Congress

Unless all of us do something to stop it, that is.

Consider the progress, or lack thereof, of immigration reform over the past eight months.  After Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came together last July to pass an imperfect, but nevertheless real, comprehensive bill, the House has spent the entire time engaging in a series of stalls.  First, the Republican majority said it was going to enact reform on a "piecemeal" basis.  President Obama and Senate Democrats sent signals that they could live with that approach.  Result:  no legislation, piecemeal or otherwise.

Then the House GOP announced a series of "principles" for reform, which embraced citizenship for undocumented minors, but residency only for their parents.  Again, Obama and Senate Democrats indicated they might be willing to live with that.  Again, no legislative progress.

Then the Tea Party caucus, the tail that wags the dog named John Boehner, denounced the "principles" altogether and said they wanted nothing to do with making immigration reform a reality, because Obama couldn't be trusted to implement it.  Again, the Democrats bended, in the form of a proposal by Senator Chuck Scuhmer to delay the implementation date of reform to sometime in 2017, to get around this obstacle.  This was dismissed out of hand, almost as soon as it was proposed, because Obama would allegedly use this delay to deliberately flout the law until reform went into effect.

Get the picture?  They contend that Obama is breaking the law when it comes to immigration, but have no intention of doing anything that might stop this alleged breaking of the law.  As undereducated as Tea Partiers are, and as beholden to the undereducated white vote as they are, even they know that immigration is an issue that has to be addressed, sooner or later.

But not if, in the short run, they can use it as a basis for impeachment proceedings against Obama.

And there you have it.  The real reason that Republicans and their conservative supporters don't want to do anything between now and Election Day 2014, so that they don't accidentally misplay what pollsters currently tell them is a winning hand.

The Tea Party Congress knows that the country has largely turned against them.  They know that the public is with the Democrats on virtually every issue currently facing the nation.  Even Obamacare is proving, day by day, to be less of an albatross for Democrats and more like a rising tide that will help them win elections for years to come.  For all practical purposes, Obama has beaten the Tea Party, and this past week's enactment of a clean debt ceiling increase confirms that defeat.  And the Tea Party hates him for it.

Short of an assassination attempt (G-d forbid), impeachment is the last card they have to play against the President.  And, if the Tea Partiers feel that they need to do so, they will spend two years of full Congressional control proving it, at the expense of the nation and its needs.

Is this want you want?  Outside of the Tea Party, is this what any of us want?  Of course not.  And it's one reason why, if you are a progressive or even a voter who cares more about the country than about partisanship, you cannot afford to treat this as an off-year for voting, one that doesn't affect your concerns.  Because it does.  We can't afford to let immigration, climate change, bank regulation and gun control, among other issues, go unaddressed while the Tea Party wrecks havoc at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

So please register.  And contribute.  And VOTE, above all.  Even if you think the choice is between the lesser of two evils.  Because, if you vote the right way, there will still be less evil.  And you will have helped to make that happen.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Perhaps The Future HAS Started To Arrive

When it comes to a self-sustaining culture, at any rate.

A Debt Ceiling Increase AND More Spending?

You heard it here first.  Actually, you can hear it at Politicususa first.  See here.

At Last, Something Conservatives Can Be Honest About

They need a small electorate to win--and they don't mind telling you all about it.  See here.

I Didn't Know That Jimmy Carter Was Running For President

In any event, the "failed" Mr. Carter still looms large on the political landscape, as a threat to Republicans.  Why else would Politico run a story like this?  It's amazing how apparently afraid they are of more "mush" from the "wimp."   And keep in mind that I say this as someone who is happy to admit that he voted for Carter twice.  Yes, twice.  Because I believe, then and now, that he was the better man in each case.

And trust me:  If he were to run against any of the available GOP losers in 2016, he'd still be the better man.  By a mile.  That's why conservative sites like Politico spend so much effort trashing him.  The success of conservatism always depends on burying the truth.

Monday, February 10, 2014

If You Don't Have Health Coverage, Don't Blame Obamacare

Blame the Supreme Court and Republican governors, who have allowed millions to suffer for the sake of a failed ideology.

Who Knew That Sochi Would End Up Hosting The Summer Olympics?

And, for those of you who still think all this is a hoax, just remember the basic principle of actual reality:  it's not a hoax if it's actually happening.   Take a look.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

This Week's Reason Why Obamacare Is Working

A chart exposing the part-time worker myth.  Please share.

Obama vs. Reagan?

A "birthday present" to the Gipper that does to him what he did to us--and shows why we need Obama.  Enjoy.

Maybe NOTHING'S The Matter With Kansas

If there's even a possibility that this could happen, that is.

And One Great Big Reason To Believe It

If even Rand Paul believes that Texas can go blue, why should the rest of us doubt it?

Eight Reasons To Believe The Republican Party Is Dying

And each is a prominent party member who has used his or her party registration to say "enough is enough."

The First Amendment Lawsuit That's Just Waiting To Happen

When they started putting copies of the Ten Commandments in publicly-funded areas (courthouses, town squares, and so forth), I knew that it would only be a matter of time before those monuments would be challenged the way they should be--with equal time from other points of view.  But, now that it's started to happen, and have gotten responses like this one, I know that it's only a matter of time before the lawsuits, and the amicus briefs from the ACLU and other similar organizations, get going in earnest.

Sorry, conservatives, but it's still a free country before it's a conservative one.

The GOP's REAL Immigration "Principles"

Last summer, in what remains a very special week for me, my wife and millions of other immigration activists, the U.S. Senate did something that might shock fans of the Republican-held sector of Congress:  It legislated, and did so by taking aim at the seemingly unreachable target of comprehensive immigration reform.  It took persistence, hard work, and a lot of compromising by Democrats and Republicans.  It produced a far from perfect result.  But it produced a result that everyone could live with, including President Obama and attendees of the American Immigration Lawyers Association's annual conference, which was taking place even as the bipartisan 68-32 vote approved the bill.

Except for the House of Representatives, which has not only declared its intention to never take up the bill, but has spent the past seven months looking for reasons for continuing to do nothing.  The latest manifestation of this process is the House GOP caucus' list of "principles" on the subject of immigration.

Now, there are aspects of this list to both like and dislike.  On the one hand, as I have previously written, it is enforcement-heavy to a degree that most Americans, increasingly concerned about government "snoopervising," would and should reject out of hand.  On the other, it appears to finally accept the fact that we aren't going to deport 11 million human beings that, documented or otherwise, have built lives in this country that are worthy of protecting--lives, in fact, that contribute greatly to the lives of American citizens.

But why a list of "principles"?  The House is a legislative body.  Its purpose is to produce legislation, in cooperation with the Senate and President.  Why not produce its own legislative version of CIR?  For that matter, why not hole a vote on the Senate bill, and use the amendment process to achieve the same result?

Either or both of those things could and should have happened by now--and would, if House Republicans had leadership worthy of the name.  Instead, it has the chain-smoking, bourbon-swilling John Boehner, who is being forced in public to mumble about "principles," a "step-by-step" process that would proceed at the state of sludge, and maybe, one day, a final "take-it-or-leave-it" bill.

In fairness to Boehner, his caucus is not cohesive enough for anyone to hold it together.  It consists of a handful of moderates and a burgeoning wingnut faction that prevents it from being anything like a true majority.  Had the Senate bill been put to a vote, enough moderate Republicans would have joined with all of the minority Democrats to send to Obama for signature, with or without a Senate conference.  And that result would have torn the Republican Party apart.

Which brings me to the real reasons why the House can do no better than "principles" when it comes to immigration.  Politics, as succinctly described here.  And race, as described here.  Sadly, these are its only real "principles."

And that begs the question:  if a party can be so dominated by politics and racism that it can do nothing of practical good for anyone but itself, can it have very long to live?  I don't think so.  I think that the Republicans may, in fact, be so worried about the political harm in 2014 that would come about by acting on immigration that they have no idea of the disaster they will face in 2016 if they do nothing about it at all.  Politics, as I have said before, is as generational as it is local, and the next political generation is a multi-cultural, multi-national, multi-ethnic cohort.  And that is why Bill Kristol is wrong in thinking that immigration is not an urgent issue.  It is very urgent, for his party and his country.  I care not one fig for his party but, for the sake of the country we both share, I hope that he and the rest of the VRWC figure this out soon.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

I Hate Drugs--And That's Why I Want To Legalize Them

The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is publicly being treated as a great tragedy.  For his family, friends, and fans, and for the art of acting, it is without any doubt an enormous loss.  But tragedies, by definition, are inevitable.  Hoffman's death wasn't--or, at least, it shouldn't have been, his addiction notwithstanding.  This explains why in greater detail and, perhaps more than anything else about the sad end to a life and a great career, it is well worth your attention.  It should be worth the attention of every lawmaker at every level in every country in the world.  Especially here in the United States, the world's biggest collection of addicts.

Let me get something out of the way at the beginning:  I hate drugs.  Of all the changes in American society that took place in the 1960s, the explosion of narcotics use is by far the worst one.  It has shortened too many lives, damaged too many brains, and collectively made us a society hooked on pleasure rather that self-improvement and adventure.  I am convinced beyond all persuasion that they have played a key role in moving society to the right in the 1970s and 1980s, based on my experience with the evangelical community.  Nine times out of ten, I found a history of drug abuse as part of an evangelical's conversion narrative.

But there is something I hate almost as much as drugs, if not more so.  And that is the way we have responded to the growth of their use--by declaring "war" on them.  We have decimated cities, filled prisons to capacity (and beyond), almost broken the back of our collective criminal justice system, and spent literally billions of dollars that could have been spent on so many truly valuable things.  All to fight what Ronald Reagan jingoistically called a war on drugs.  An ironic way to put it because, to paraphrase Reagan's assessment of the war on poverty, drugs have won--hands down.

And they didn't have to.

I have believed, for a very long time, that the key to fighting the common vices of organized human society--tobacco, alcohol, narcotics, gambling, prostitution, and every other form of addictive behavior--is knowledge.  When it comes to dealing with our deepest and most powerful compulsions, knowing why we do what we do, and how we can reprogram our behavior, is a thousand times more powerful than the power of the sword.  And, for that reason, every human vice should be treated by government at all levels not as a police issue, but as a public-health one.  Limited legalization, followed up by public information programs and treatment options are always the way to go.  Contrast the effects of Prohibition with those of the Surgeon-General's warning on cigarette packages, and you won't need me to make the point.

It's not too late to treat Hoffman's death as a wake-up call, and start discussing a sane approach to drug use that followed the public-health model rather than the police one.  It is, sadly, too late for Hoffman.  I hope and pray that he rests in peace.  I think he's more likely to do so if we consider his unnecessary passing to be a teachable moment.