The Worst of Iowa

Wife and son at his bedside

Benton Mackenzie, 48, was convicted in Iowa district court jury of marijuana manufacturing and conspiracy, along with his wife, Loretta, 43, the Quad-City Times’ Brian Wellner first reported. Their son Cody, 22, was found guilty of misdemeanor possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. Benton Mackenzie, who had been barred by Judge Henry Latham from a defense that explains he grew cannabis to relieve his aggressive and rare cancer of the blood vessels, faces a minimum of three years in prison when he is sentenced later. His family said they intend to appeal the verdicts. Mackenzie said prison may kill him as his health worsens.

Benton Mackenzie is dead.

He should forever be remembered for the way he chose to live, pushing against Iowa’s ancient marijuana laws and a local prosecutor’s unyielding pursuit of a conviction, certainly not justice. Mackenzie chose to use his final days to force Iowans – and all Americans – to stare down hypocrisy and discover how Iowa and Scott County squandered taxpayer money to assure he left this world convicted and impoverished. (qctimes)

Iowa prosecutors hounded and convicted a suffering cancer patient right to the end of his life for the diabolical ‘crime’ of trying to treat his painful tumors with home grown marijuana.  

Show of Farce

About those tumors: 

Benton Mackenzies Tumors

What kind of barbarians have the people in Iowa become since I left there in 1976?

Why would any rational person go out of their way to commit an act of inhumanity this great against a sick and dying man?  When I visited Iowa late last year, I noted that there were so many meth heads roaming the streets it looked like a casting call for Breaking Bad and yet the police and prosecutors are wasting time and tax dollars chasing after terminally ill pot smokers. Not all the pigs in Iowa are in hog containment facilities.  Some of them are running roughshod through the halls of their government offices.

Facebook memorial

Previous Huffpo article.

Enjoy..

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Final Farewell to Fort Dodge

Although it had been my intention to regain residence in the state of Iowa and live in the city from which I graduated high school (with honors) back in 1976, the cards were stacked heavily against me. Due to the fact that I have been living in Germany for over five years, my US driver’s license was expired and of no use.  Add to that the serendipitous ‘luck’ of escaping my Nazi (no hyperbole) mother-in-law in Germany on the LAST day before my passport expired and you have the stuff of Kafkaesque nightmares. This led to a situation where I arrived into the state of Iowa with absolutely NO current ID. I imagine the Iowa DMV is overwhelmed with fake passports that are two days past expiration, such is the ease of duplicating the document.  After all, who doesn’t know at least half a dozen folks running around Iowa trying to pass themselves off as somebody else using a “potentially” forged passport just slightly out of expiration?  It’s likely just as common as tits on a pumpkin.

“Welcoming” Platitudes Were as Abundant on the numbered waiting slip at the DMV as they were about the house at my sister’s place of residence.

There were many attempts to rectify this less than fortuitous situation.  More than one of my friends back home got a front row seat to the ridiculousness as well as my personal angst and disgust which I was unable to suppress while getting involved in trying to help me solve this dilemma.

It turns out that the only quick resolution to my ‘illegal alien’ status is a trip to the New Orleans passport office, the ONLY place in the USA where this can be handled in a timely fashion:

Updated and edited to add: ONLY IF YOU HAVE A TICKET LEAVING THE US IN THE NEXT TEN DAYS, a little something I had forgotten about and which added another degree of difficulty to my life a short while down the road.

Me and my trusty companion Bandit are off to the gulf coast for the purpose of proving that I am not a foreign terrorist or Mexican immigrant.  With my passport in hand I will be able to regain some semblance of a normal life in the US (bank account, driver’s license, job….).  I’m glad to have found a quick course to the resolution of my troubles and a return to a normal life in the US, even as I’m painfully aware that there may never be a return to ‘normalcy’ for the ‘family’ I left behind in Iowa.

It’s a sad situation when the Iowa Department of Motor vehicles isn’t even allowed to check the Fort Dodge Senior High 1976 yearbook or accept the dozens of signed affidavits on my identity that I’m sure I could have collected from my many friends there in the city in order to ‘prove’ my identity, but we must remain HYPER vigilant against the communist ..err…Muslim threat.

I would have liked to open a business (or two or three) in Fort Dodge and maybe even paying some heavy taxes to help rebuild the blighted areas, but such is life.  I doubt I’ll ever move back to Iowa after the fiasco I endured, unless I get a penchant for frostbite or pick up a really heavy methamphetamine habit.

Enjoy.

Random Recap of Everything

World

DetroitSyria

Even though most of the mideast reminds Obama of Detroit, that’s no excuse for intervention.  Let’s drop some jobs into Detroit instead of bombs on foreigners.

We have no business in Syria. None. Let them kill each other off on their own, and in whatever fashion suits them best. We have no friends over there. When you can’t even fool a drunken Brit into tagging along you know you have a problem. Time to defund the spies. The NSA seems extremely adept at accessing and cross-filing Grandma’s emails (lest the Gray Panthers get a toehold on society). It’s great that they’re keeping an eye on the proliferation of heavily sharpened knitting needles, but even more worrisome that they still can’t provide accurate, reliable real-time operational foreign intelligence.

NSA Dick Check

UN Toilet Cam

Capturing small talk in the men’s loo at the UN? Easy Peezy.  Still totally clueless on any issue involving WMD’s.  Are you kidding me?

USA

Seattle-Butcher-Sells-Prosciutto-Made-From-Marijuana-Fed-Pigs

The pot fed pork producing industry (centered in Seattle -DUH) just got some good news.

Obama finally decided to call off the Feds over Colorado, Washington and California marijuana legalization rulings. He left the door to fascism cracked open wide enough that the Prison Industrial Complex is still smiling.  No change to the federal classification aligning marijuana with heroin. In other “drug” news it was reported that 500 people die every year from Tylenol overdoses and 50 to 80 thousand seek emergency room services from negative reactions to acetaminophen.  This prompted a voluntary change in the label.  Glad that’s tended to.

Hell’s Kitchen

Wildfires US 2013

With names like Incendiary Point and Hell’s Canyon it’s a wonder these places haven’t self immolated long ago.

The entire western half of the US appears to be on fire. Visitors to whatever is left of our western national park system should be required to carry portable firefighting gear on all future camping expeditions as well as pine seedlings to replant the blighted forests.

Tech

Bye Bye Balmer

Ballmer quits at Microsoft. About dam time. Most of the American workforce would already have been pink-slipped for much less serious failures, like showing up to work an hour late because they had to take their sick child to the clinic. This clown should not have survived Vista, let alone the aborted Courier and the not aborted ZuneRT.

Armed and Dangerous

iPhoneyItI won’t be long before everyone is wondering how they ever got along without a smart watch. Or not.  I have a hard time seeing the appeal so you know I’ll absolutely have to have one as soon as they come out.  In the end I think the eyeglass viewer is going to become the dominant smartphone interface, though the watches will probably sell well enough to gain a strong foothold.  Toughness and weather resistance is going to matter.

The Return of the Brick Phone

Brick Phone

Those cute little smartphones we all took home as cuddly kittens are poised to grow as big as adult grizzlies. By the time the market fully matures the number one selling phone accessory is going to be a backpack to carry all your gear. It’ll be Phabulous.

Errata

Looking into the future of Google Glass I see a Sergei Brin divorce on the horizon.

Windows tablets continue to suck, at any price.

Nintendo just released a new hand held gaming device that doesn’t include a Twitter app or a phone. What the hell are they thinking?

PZ Myers has still not been formally banned from the internet and continues with his wild ass ruminations.

Life

Johnny and Sonya

Everything continues to blossom in my world, even with the many burdens providence has seen fit to vex me with.  It won’t be long before we get to see the newest iteration of the iPhone, so reschedule that appointment you made with the Dutch euthanasia society.

There’s still something worth living for.

Enjoy.

Lady and the Scamp

20130411-130958.jpg
I have been asked to reflect on my experiences dealing with a young lady named Julia Rose, who first caught my attention on Facebook a couple years ago. She has a Facebook tribute page dedicated to preserving and distributing the works, and highlighting the memories, of Peter McWilliams.

The Lady

Here is Julia speaking about Peter in a public YouTube video taken at one of the many rallies, conventions or speaking (and singing!) venues she attends.

The Scamp

The many uplifting stories of Peter, as well as his accompanying trials and tribulations, are too broad to relate here. I know I would feel blessed to have my own wikipedia page, let alone a youthful cheerleader like Julia, so long after my ashes are scattered. FWIW, I have chosen to honor my personal memories of Peter by ending all my correspondences with Enjoy. But I digress. Let us move on to my personal account of this energetic young lady.

Getting to Know Her

The first time I spoke with Juila was when she contacted me thru Facebook after seeing my New Year’s tribute to Peter here in this blog. She indicated that she was in contact with Peter’s mother who had inherited a great deal of Peter’s literary memorabilia, some of which she was letting Julia share on the web.

We chatted on Skype a couple times times after that. We communed over the ghost of Peter, his legacy and his works. She probed my calcifying neurons for first person recollections and stories from my calls and correspondence with Peter, the majority of which (sadly) came during the hectic months of his arrest and deprivations under the thumb of America’s fascist drug warriors.

Julia shared with me that Peter’s mom was reluctant to publicize the more risqué or controversial aspects of Peter’s political life. Julia’s main interest in honoring Peter was his poetry and self-help writings.

All that touchy-feely emotional hoodoo is just fine by me (and the 32.4% of me that is gay), but the rest of me negotiated stridently with Julia for a much more prominent emphasis on the politics of the subject that cost Peter his life. She agreed and promised to discuss the issue with Peter’s mom.

She seemed a rather shy and reluctant spokesperson at first, but as the last couple years have shown, her message and music have bounced to one event or the other all over the planet (or at least a tri-country area).

She’s some kind of a hippie-chick rock goddess guru within the medical marijuana community these days now that she’s embraced my early mentoring. I’m too old to even keep up with her frenetic pace on Facebook, but I proudly point her out as a protege and someone I knew before they got famous.

Enjoy.

Good Idea Gone Horribly Awry

First a little background. I first struck up an email friendship with Peter McWilliams after reading his book “Ain’t Nobody’s Business – The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in America” many years ago. It was at a time in Peter’s life when he was very active in the medical marijuana movement, having stumbled onto the relief the drug gave him in combating the nausea brought on by his AID’s medicines. He was eventually jailed and charged for conspiracy to grow medical marijuana. This was clearly a retaliatory measure from the DEA to silence him and his inspirational message on the subject.

As part of his plea deal to avoid continued incarceration, he was forced to stop using cannabis to control his nausea or face a long prison sentence and forfeiture of bond (his mom’s house!)

His compliance with the orders of the court saved his mom’s house, but cost Peter his life. Shortly after sentencing, Peter ended up choking to death on his own vomit from the uncontrolled nausea the marijuana had previously abated. While you may never have heard of Peter, he was high profile enough to have attracted the attention of a John Stossel (on 20/20), who did a segment on his death at the hands of the police state. Peter died in 2000.

Fast forward to 2010. A person I’ve never met, a seemingly gently soul with a desire to honor Peter’s memory, sets up a Facebook tribute page on behalf of the memory of Peter. She’s been amazing in her efforts to honor Peter, going so far as to write a tribute song which has received a fair bit of radio play. She’s also working on a video to honor Peter as well. She saw one of my pro-Peter posts and invited me to join the Facebook group which I promptly did.

At the time, I was totally unaware that there were ulterior motives behind the effort. Perhaps ulterior is too dark a word. Maybe “competing interpretations of Peter’s life” would be more accurate. Peter was many things to many people. That’s not up for debate. The problem with the tribute page on Facebook is that it’s being run, not as a PUBLIC tribute (why Facebook then?), but as a repository of goodwill specifically tailored to make his mother feel better about her son. Therefore, some aspects of Peter’s politics and passion are NOT WELCOME on the page, lest it ‘upset’ the remaining members of his family. I have been chastised in private messages from the group for mentioning aspects of Peter’s work, simply because of family politics.

I can understand the desire to shield the family, but I do not agree with the idea one bit. I’ve mentioned topics that Peter wrote and spoke of loudly and proudly when he was alive. Subjects he took the time to commit to his writings and public speaking venues. Subjects that not only was he was passionate about, but that I am passionate about as well. The latest smack-down from the group aimed at me comes as a result of my mention of Peter’s stance towards legalizing prostitution.

In the bizzaro world of Peter’s Page, such topics are considered taboo because of the aforementioned family sensitivities. I might feel more compassion for their position if Peter himself hadn’t been so forthright on these very same issues when he was alive. Peter never shied away from confrontation about issues he felt strongly about and neither do I.

Why the family should feel shamed by discussions surrounding the subjects so near and dear to Peter is puzzling. I can’t help but wonder how far Peter’s Page wants to take this newly found protectionist attitude? For chrissakes folks, we’re talking about a fellow who confronted not only the medical/prison industrial complex, but also the issue of his own homosexuality in a society openly hostile towards same.

His family should feel no shame at all. They should be angry about the way he was treated by authorities and proud that he stood up for what he believed in. The work that Peter did in advancing the cause of medical marijuana has advanced greatly since his death. That said, even the Obama administration, despite public statements to the contrary, is still raiding medical cannabis dispensaries in states that have legalized it’s use in that regard. The war is far from over. I will not let the memory of a fallen comrade, nor the advancement of the goals he believed in, be glossed over for the sole purpose of defending the delicate sensibilities of family members he himself apparently discounted when he was still alive.

Enjoy.