Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Saturday
Mar072015

The Ignorance That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Dr. Ben Carter, who is running third in more than one poll of Republican presidential candidates (behind Bush and Walker), said something so stupid this week, that prison experience proves being gay is a choice...so absolutely stupid that no comment is really necessary.  

 

Normally when someone says that no comment is necessary, you can be sure that a comment, and usually a rather lengthy one, is coming.

Not from me.

Not this time.

I'll simply repeat that the good doctor, a neurosurgeon truth be told, wins the award for stupidity and will allow John Sutter, a CNN columnist (openly gay...if it matters), to explain.

Sutter's comment that Carson's thinking takes us back to another century is not quite enough.  Since we're 15 years into this century, another century could be considered the 20th century, and placing Dr. Carson in that realm is far too generous.  The 19th century...or perhaps even the 15th century...would be more like it.

In all honesty, Dr. Carson's comments have provided a boost to gay and lesbian rights because no longer can such ignorance be allowed to stand without rebuttal, and every time we get the chance to shine the light of science on the issue of nurture versus nurture when it come to what makes people gay, ours is a better society.

As John Sutter notes in this column, the issue isn't at all in doubt as Dr. Carson--this man is actually a doctor; can you belive it?--seems to believe.  Actually until quite recently a majority of people (wrongly) expressed the belief that homosexuality is a choice.  Even that number has turned, but it's only 45-55 percent today (in my quick googling of new polling data), so we obviously need to inform the public more.  The number should be in the 10-90 percent range.

Homosexuality is not a choice.  As I've often said, who would choose to be something that throughout history made one an outcast?  And could actually get you killed in some places? 

As John Sutter notes, even if homosexuality is a choice--AND IT CLEARLY IS NOT--then homosexuals would still deserve equal protection under the law which Dr. Carson would deny them.

 

Homosexuality was once referred to as "the love that dare not speak its name".  With that in mind, I've chosen the headline for Dr. Carson's unspeakable stupidity as "the ignorance that dare not speak its name."  Dr. Carson is now on record as saying he will no longer speak about gay issues.  That horse left the barn long ago, doctor, it really did!

Enough from me...with a flash all the way back to Teletubbies (was it Pinky Winky who was supposed to be gay?), here's John Sutter from CNN.

John D. Sutter is a columnist for CNN Opinion and creator of CNN's Change the List project. Follow him on TwitterFacebook orInstagram. Email him at ctl@cnn.com. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)There seems to be an ever-growing list of people, places and things that will turn you gay. Maybe we should think of these as the brigade of evil, homosexual nouns.

There were the Teletubbies and SpongeBob SquarePants a decade ago. Now, as these views thankfully get more fringe, the theories are becoming increasingly bizarre and awesome. Among the homo nouns, there's the Common Core, according to a Florida lawmaker (education policy is super gay, obviously); Taylor Swift, who an op-ed writer for The Christian Post, Larry Tomczak,claims is being used by Ellen DeGeneres to "attract young girls" to her show (uh-huh); the Disney princess movie "Frozen," according to radio hosts in Colorado (that dress!); and now, according to a potential 2016 Republican presidential contender, Ben Carson, there's prison.

Yep, prison.

Stay away from crime, kids.

Turns ya gay.

Carson, who, let me reiterate, is a potential presidential candidate from a major American party, and a neurosurgeon to boot, told CNN's Chris Cuomo in an interview that aired Wednesday that "a lot of people ... go into prison straight -- and when they come out, they're gay."

Asked if being gay was a choice, Carson replied in a word: "Absolutely."

This level of ignorance is so last century, so near-irrelevant, that I'm hesitant even to respond. But no one who holds these beliefs belongs in a race for the 2016 White House.

Ordinarily, I'm the kind of gay person who likes to give people room to evolve. I know not everyone "gets it" automatically. That's OK, as long as you aren't hateful about it, are willing to listen and don't try to restrict the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. I'm from Oklahoma, a deeply conservative state, and I've seen friends, family and co-workers evolve. People who thought being gay was a sin -- or that it was a choice, or fixable -- now support same-sex marriage.

People change.

But presidential candidates don't get that leeway.

Carson should know better. (In fact, he later apologized, regretting his words but saying the science on the issue of sexual orientation isn't clear.)

These views belong in another decade, not modern America.

This apparently still needs to be said: Being gay is not a choice. Don't believe me? Well, ask a gay person. As I mentioned, I'm one of those (despite never having seen "Frozen" in its entirety), and I can tell you that, for me, it wasn't a choice. It's not something I would want to undo, but it also isn't like I woke up one day and was like, huh, you know what would really mix it up this winter? Dating dudes instead of ladies.

Science backs me on this. I'm not going to roll through all the details, but Mark Joseph Stern from Slate sums it up pretty well: "In study after study, biologists have found that homosexuality, at least in men, is clearly, undoubtedly, inarguably an inborn trait."

And even if it were a choice, who cares?

A person's religion is a choice.

Yet the United States offers certain protections based on religion.

People still deserve rights. Carson, meanwhile, opposes same-sex marriage. That's a stance that, again, thankfully, is getting exceedingly rare in national politics. It's also an issue that, along with transgender rights and employment discrimination against LGBT people, should be a focal point in the 2016 campaign cycle. I hope that America is evolved enough not to elect a candidate who opposes LGBT rights.

I do think we live in that country these days.

It's a country that mostly laughs at someone saying prison would "turn" someone gay.

But the point remains that saying so both belittles a serious issue of violence -- that of men raping other men in prison, which has nothing to do with turning anyone gay and everything to do with criminal activity. And it's a serious lapse in logic. Being around a bunch of dudes -- or ladies -- in prison doesn't change a person's innate sexual attractions.

It's so obvious I shouldn't have to say it. And the American people damn sure shouldn't have to listen to it. Especially coming from a 2016 presidential contender, it's almost laughably irrelevant.

Almost.

Monday
Mar022015

Colorado Banks $76 Million On Marijuana In Year One

Bloomberg News, my go to source for all real unbiased news these days, is reporting today that Colorado, in its first year of legalized marijuana, took in $63 million in taxes and another $13 million in fees based on sales of just under $700 million.  I'd elaborate, but I'm at the Bixby Memorial Library in Vergennes, Vermont, and a man on the computer next to me appears to be in the process of wheezing himself into a fit.  It's too much to take (and the internet from my brother's neighbor appears to be down), so in lieu of reporting, I'll just copy the entire story here.
In watching Channel 3, Burlington (WCAX-TV) the other night, I saw Matt Simon of MPP discussing current efforts for legalization in the Green Mountain State.  Reporters seem to think progress will be made this year, but this won't be the year for full scale legalization.
Wanna bet...Vermont still beats New Hampshire into the realm of sanity.

2.8 Million Pot Munchies and Other Numbers From Colorado’s First Year of Retail Marijuana

The statewide population of pot plants grown for the retail market is only getting higher
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Colorado’s grand marijuana-retail experiment resulted in almost 20 tons of pot sold to recreational users in 2014.

It was the first year of legal recreational sales in the state, thus the first time a statewide retail market for marijuana could be quantified. Before Colorado, no government in the U.S. had ever allowed retail sales. The state had previously allowed medical pot, which has low taxes but requires a doctor’s note. Recreational marijuana sales, which became legal in January 2014, opened the doors to any buyer age 21 and over. Retail sales carry a heavy tax burden. Colorado collected $63 million in tax revenue and an additional $13 million in licenses and fees on $699 million of combined medical and recreational pot sales in 2014. 

To track and enforce the market—and to collect those lucrative taxes—Colorado required all growers and sellers to trace their product from seed to sale with canary-yellow RFID tags. A new report from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (PDF) provides the first glimpse of that data over a full year. The increasing market for recreational pot both complements and at times surpasses the state’s medical sales:

Growers weren’t allowed to cultivate plants exclusively for recreational use until January 2014. The expansion of the recreational pot supply has been explosive ever since, with about eight times more plants under cultivation at the end of 2014 than had been growing in January. Medical providers are still planting their supply at a steady pace, too, in a sign that retail pot hasn’t dramatically reduced the medical market. Last year, according to analysis by the Washington Post, medical sales in Colorado exceeded recreational sales by $75 million.

The data don’t show whether the medical dispensaries are serving the same customers or if some of the medical customers have shifted to recreational sellers. Regulators had hoped buyers on the black market and “patients” without true medical needs would become retail customers. The new rules tried to make retail sales so easy that recreational users wouldn’t obtain medical cards to evade the extra taxes. The stability of the medical market in Colorado has implications for other places, such as Washington state, where medical dispensaries have been resisting regulation, saying it would drive them out of business.

Instead of eroding medical sales, the recreational stores expanded the overall size of the legal market. By the end of the year, retail pot made up about a third of the market. In December, retail customers bought 4,949 pounds of bud, compared with 8,799 pounds of medical flower. All told, retailers sold almost 40,000 pounds of pot in 2014.

One market where retail stores have dominated medical dispensaries is the sale of marijuana-infused edible products, which include gummy bears, tapenade—and, yes, brownies. Sales of foods made with marijuana helped retail sales of edibles surpass those at medical dispensaries by April. By the end of 2014 the edible retail market had swollen to twice the size of the longer-established medical side of the business. It was, in fact, a busy Christmas shopping season for edible-pot vendors: December saw almost 360,000 marijuana-infused items sold across the state, making it the single busiest month of the year. Colorado says the trend “suggests that retail marijuana products are a viable product for retail consumers.” The report also notes that across almost 4,000 tests, more than 98 percent of the edibles complied with the limits on how potent they can be.

Even though the state legalized sales, cities in Colorado can still ban both medical and recreational pot. While many of the state’s large population centers, including Denver and Colorado Springs, allow both types of sales, more than three-quarters of localities ban recreational marijuana—a reminder of just how young this market still is.

Friday
Feb202015

Trivia--No Time To Worry....And Whither T.S.

Which famoud figure in American literature keeps repeating that now is not the time to worry?

 

A--Ishmael in Moby Dick by Herman Melville

B--The Reverend Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

C--T.S. Garp in The World According to Garp by John Irving

D--Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

E--Huck Finn in The Adventures of Huck Finn by Mark Twain

 

Hint--The line wasn't uttered in the movie, but it was an Academy Award winning performance.

Answer--The ever laid back Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck in the movie) kept saying that.  I didn't count the number of times, but I did note that the number was adding up.

Try this one.  What names are behind the T.S. in T.S. Garp.  

Beware, it's somewhat of a trick question.  The T.S. doesn't stand for any names.  It's simply the rank (technical sargent) or the dieing airman Garp's mother, Jenny Fields, used to impregnate herself in a rather typical Irvinian scene.  Garp is in the mid-range of my favorite Irving books, probably 7th or the 13 although it was certainly his breakthrough hit.  I remember being so into it during the mid-70s (when I was climbing the 4000 foot mountains in NH) that I lugged the paperback to a summit so I could keep reading it (it might have been Mt. Liberty...I'm not quite sure), but the T.S. is not for any name.  In the movie, Robin Williams as Garp says it's for "Terribly sexy" but I don't recall that being in the book.

Gregory Peck as Atticus No Time To Worry Finch and Robin Williams as Terriby Sex Grap.  Here's another bit of trivia; that's actually author John Irving in the acting role of referee.  (He also played a trainman in "The Cider House Rules", kind of like the Alfred Hitchcock of modern times).

Friday
Feb202015

Pot May Soon Be Legal For 1 Of 4 Americans

Bloomberg Business (Channel 203 on the Dish)   has become my go to source for news these days (I can no longer stomach Fox's extreme right wing bias, especially its constant trumpeting for more U.S. involvement in wars).

 

Bloomberg is reporting today that more than a quarter of Americans will soon live in states where marijuana is legal.  

 


This falls under the category of I told you so.  

 


Polls continue to show support for legalization across the nation. When people are allowed to decide at the polls, legalization happens, and it appears that another 11 states are moving toward legalization including Vermont (where I write this).  

 


I would prefer that New Hamphsire be in the forefront of the movement, as we were in the gay marriage struggle, but rest asssured, legalization is coming just like gay marriage was coming six years ago.

 


No matter how hard neanderthals like the Shawn The Accidental Speaker Jasper fight against it, legalization is coming.  

 


Jasper, of course, was a bitter opponent of gay marriage until the very end--talk about constantly being on the wrong side of history...has this troylodyte no shame? Apparently he's engaged in a conspiracy to keep pro legalization voices off the NH Criminal Justice Committee which gets first shot at the issue.   Go figure! 

trog·lo·dyte
ˈträɡləˌdīt/
noun
  
  1. (especially in prehistoric times) a person who lived in a cave.
    • a hermit.
    • a person who is regarded as being deliberately ignorant or old-fashioned.

Here's a link to the Bloomberg story...just out.

Friday
Feb202015

78 % Of Canadians Favor Death With Dignity Ruling

If you don't think people are ready for death with dignity, check out these numbers from Canada in response to a recent Supreme Court decision there.   More than three out of four Canadians favor the unanimous decision (9-0) which will allow (but not force) doctors to provide life ending medication to terminally ill patients.  Support crosses all spectrums of political opinion from 94 percent with Greens to 70 percent with Conservatives.  It's highest in Quebec with 84 percent; love those Quebecers!

Hey, I think I'll head up there tomorrow (albeit not to die, of course).

Wake up America; the time has come.

Most Canadians in favour of Court's Decision: poll

ottawa rally

According to a poll of 1,018 adults done by Forum Research Inc three days after the Supreme Court ruled on the Carter case:

  • More than three quarters approve of the ruling (78 per cent).
  • More than six out of 10 respondents would consider assisted dying for themselves if they had a grievous condition or were in intolerable pain.

Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research Inc., said: "Canadians have been clear about their support for assistance in ending their lives since we began tracking it 4 years ago. The public was clear, but elected officials were loath to act. As in many cases of Canadian social advances, it required the Supreme Court to get the ball rolling." 

Support by age was highest among people under the age of 65. When comparing support levels by province, residents of Quebec topped the approvals at 84 per cent (compared to Alberta at 71 per cent).

Approval ratings for the decision among supporters of the major federal political parties is interesting:

  • Greens — 94 per cent support
  • NDP — 82 per cent
  • Liberals — 78 per cent
  • Bloc Quebecois — 76 per cent
  • Conservative — 70 per cent 

According to the pollster, the results have a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.