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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

A Republican Future Coming To A Mall Near You

Category: Society
Posted: 05/02/16 20:42

by Dave Mindeman

A story of the future in the Republican United States....

I was doing some shopping at the Mall with my wife. When we got to the food court, I said:

Me: Hey, honey, I need to hit the bathroom, I'll be right back.

Her: OK, I'll check out what's available. Meet you in the back.

So, I head down the corridor and get to the bathroom entrances. For some reason, there is a security officer standing outside. As I approach the Men's Entrance, he holds up his hand.

Officer: Sir, can I see your ID.

Me: What?

Officer: Your ID, I need to see your ID.

Me: Why would you need to do that?

Officer: I have to make sure you are gender compliant.

Me: Gender compliant? What the heck is that about?

Officer: New regulations that took effect today. Only gender compliant males can use the Men's bathroom and only gender compliant females can use the Women's bathroom.

Me: Come on. Isn't it obvious that I am a male. I have facial hair and I dress horribly.

Officer: That is not a gender compliant criteria. Show me some ID.

Me: Oh for Pete's sake.

I pull out my driver's license and hand it to the officer.

Officer: Sorry, this ID is not gender compliant.

Me: What the hell are you talking about? It has my picture and under Sex, it say M for male.

Officer: That is no longer definitive. Do you have your birth certificate on your person?

Me: What? Are you nuts? NO! I do not have my birth certificate.

Officer: I am not appreciative of that attitude sir. I am afraid I cannot let you use this bathroom. Sorry.

Me: Oh come on. I have to pee pretty bad. I assume you do have urinals in there? Come on. I promise not to loiter around and do weird things.

Officer: Sorry, I have my orders.

Me: There must be something we can do.

Officer: Well sir, maybe we can straighten this out if you will come with me to the Gender Compliance Office Area....or GenCom, as we call it.

Me: You are serious aren't you?

Officer: Never more, sir.

Me: OK, but let's make this quick.

Officer: Step through this door and we will get started. What gender do you consider yourself?

Me: I am a male. My wife says I'm a male. And my doctor has me on record as a male. I am a male.

Officer: Do you have a pen*s?

Me: What?

Officer: Do you have a pen*s?

Me: Last I checked, yes. It's a pretty damn good one, too.

Officer: No need for sarcasm. Please drop your pants.

Me: Are you kidding me? Isn't that some kind of a personal violation?

Officer: Just following protocol.

Me: I think my bladder is starting to shrivel. Ah, for Pete's sake, OK, OK.

I unbuckle my pants and let them drop to the floor.

Officer: Now your underwear.

Me: (As I look at the glass windows, I start to see a crowd gather)
Good Lord...can't we do this somewhere a little more private.

Officer: Sorry sir - we have to do this in the open for your own protection.

I turn my back to the window and drop my underwear.

Officer: OK - looks like a pen*s. Little nervous are you?

Me: Don't get funny. Are we done?

Officer: Oh no sir. I need to get my sample kit.

Me: What?

Officer: My sample kit. We have to take a sample.

Me: For God's sake, a sample of what?

Officer: I have to get a pubic hair.

Me: Get a what?

Officer: I have to get a pubic hair and do a DNA test.

Me: Oh good Lord. Are you kidding me?

Officer: Never more serious sir. It is the only way we can be 100% sure. Let me just do a quick pluck.

Me: Ooooouuuuucch!

Officer: Sorry, must have nicked a couple of the little buggers.

The officer takes his tweezer full of pubic hair and places it in a specimen bag.

Officer: OK - as soon as we get the results we can make you gender compliant.

Me: How long will that take?

Officer: Oh, about a half hour.

Me: (a bit agitated) You have got to be kidding me. (As I gingerly dance on my toes back and forth)....I still have to go really bad. How the heck am I supposed to hold it that long?

Officer: Well, there is one other alternative.

Me: Anything...what is it?

Officer: You can get a personal urinal and I'll let you use that in our broom closet.

Me: Personal urinal? Where the heck am I supposed to get that?

Officer: Well, right next door is a store that sells them - UrinalsAreUs. I think they have a modest one for about $39.99.

Me: Oh. My. God. You don't happen to have an interest in that store, do you?

Officer: Not my place to say.

I pull up my pants and run out the door and back down the corridor. My wife looks at me and down at her watch.

She: What the heck took you so long?

Me: DO. NOT. ASK.

I say this as I turn the corner and run into UrinalsAreUs.
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"Historic" Drug Compromise Guidelines Oddly Penalizes Weed

Category: Society
Posted: 04/29/16 13:00

by Dave Mindeman

A crime legislation compromise proposal is being classified as "historic" in terms of changes made to the sentencing structure of drug related offenses.

After weeks of closed-door wrangling between law enforcement, defense attorneys and lawmakers, a compromise has been reached on an effort at the Capitol to lighten criminal penalties for drug offenders statewide.

I am not sure why this had to be a "closed door" negotiation, but that is how this came to be. And there are some good things here:

1. In general "sentencing guidelines" -- the amount of prison time a convicted criminal will be presumed to get when sentenced by a judge -- for all drug crimes, will be reduced, regardless of degree.

2. Additionally, the amount of confiscated drugs required to trigger a charge has been increased for drugs like heroine, methamphetamine or cocaine. (Marijuana is a different story which will be discussed below).

3. It would define what a "trace" amount of drugs is -- a definition that has been lacking in current law and leading to a lot of law enforcement discretionary interpretation. And possession charges for trace amounts would become a gross misdemeanor, rather than a felony for a first offense.

4. Sentences for what prosecutors have called "kingpin" dealers -- those possessing or selling especially large quantities of drugs -- would become mandatory, unalterable by a judge. Also, if the accused possessed a gun, the old, harsher sentencing levels would stay in place, in addition to being mandatory. Prior law didn't differentiate much from users and dealers.

5. Mandatory penalties would be eliminated on lesser-degree drug crimes, allowing judges to be more lenient.

If utilized properly, these guidelines could reduce the incarceration rate in Minnesota prisons and give judges more latitude.

But there is one very troubling and puzzling provision....

For marijuana, on the other hand, the 100 kg required for a first-degree possession charge has been reduced to 50 kg.

In other words, marijuana was actually singled out for harsher restrictions.

This compromise was agreed to because....

Defense attorneys noted that Minnesota's marijuana thresholds are extraordinarily permissive compared to most other states, and agreed to allow them to become more strict.

I have trouble understanding why marijuana, which has medicinal legality in Minnesota, would get treated the opposite of other illegal drugs. Especially when the purpose of this compromise is to lighten the load on our prisons. Why not just leave marijuana alone? What difference does it make that our current laws are "permissive", when the tendency in the country moves towards complete legalization?

I expect that the law enforcement establishment lobbied for this. They seem to have some kind of inherent bias against marijuana and cling to decades old ideas and stereotypes about this drug.

The compromise guidelines will probably move through the legislature fairly quickly...because it has law enforcement's blessing. The marijuana aspect is troubling, but as the mood of the country changes on recreational use, maybe it won't make any difference in the long run. However, in the short term, marijuana possession will, ironically, be treated worse than your basic heroin and cocaine user.

That just feels wrong.
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Prince's Death May Have Been Drug Related, But It's Complicated

Category: Society
Posted: 04/28/16 17:24

by Dave Mindeman

I realize there is always a certain fascination in the circumstances surrounding a celebrity's death. In Prince's case, with his rock star background and mysterious personna, it all gets intensified.

Recently the media reported that Prince had prescription drugs in his possession at the time of his death. Well, he was 57 - had epilepsy - and double hip deterioration (which he refused surgery for because he is a Jehovah's Witness and cannot have a blood transfusion). Obviously, he had several medications and he had a chronic pain situation. More than likely, he has been taking opioid pain killers, (like Vicodin), for some time and there are indications that he was in a treatment program.

Certainly, prescription medication could have been involved in Prince's death, but, frankly, I do not think that should lessen anyone's opinion of him. It is doubtful that his medications were recreational in nature. Like millions of other Americans he was trying to live a normal life under painful circumstances and, in his case, with the public constantly watching.

Like other Americans, I have the feeling that Prince probably did not use proper care in the use of alcohol when taking prescription pain medication. The additive effects are hard to predict and have many other factors to consider. That could have complicated things during a medical crisis.

I guess what I wish to convey is that this country has a tendency to sweep opiod pain killer addiction under the rug. Our concerns focus on heroin and cocaine....and wrongly on marijuana.

As a pharmacist I saw people with chronic pain go through Vicodin or Oxycontin or Percocet with regular freqency. The attitude was that if the doctor prescribes it, it must be safe....and how I take it is my own business. Which is fine if taken strictly as directed and over short time periods. But chronic pain is seldom cured because by definition it has an untreatable cause or is unexplained. And that sets a lot of people up for an addictive lifestyle.

People get lulled into a false sense of security. The opioids control the pain well, at least at first, and you learn to adjust accordingly. But as the body's tolerance for the painkiller grows, they become less effective in pain control and the tendecy to increase the frequency of consumption or to increase the dose becomes the real danger.

A person who is on pain killers for a chronic situation do not think of themselves as addicted. They are treating their condition with medicine. Their doctor knows about it. But soon the patient will be calling the doctor to increase the frequency of refills or indicate that once in a while they need to take an extra tablet. And then it starts to gravitate to lies about losing the medication or spilling some tablets down the sink. Which increases, in drastic cases, to forging prescriptions.

I guess I am talking about this because we tend to think of musicians as being susceptible to the "drug culture". They get into that pattern of seeking greater experiences and more willing to experiment.

But there is also the day to day drug battle that millions of everyday citizens work with as they simply wish to seek relief from pain that forces them to live differently from what they wish.

I have the feeling that Prince fits into the latter category, although there is certainly the possibility that he could have mixed his regular pain medication with other stronger substances. After all, he certainly lived in a world exposed to that. But most of the relevant data that is out so far doesn't really to point to that.

Whatever the toxicology report states, I would be careful to just dismiss this as another "rock and roll culture drug death".

The truth is often very complicated.
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