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June 20, 2013 07:05 AM UTC

Hubris v. Humanities

  • by: MichaelBowman

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

I've spent the last week in Washington tending to the industrial hemp issue and trying to find avenues to solve the collision of our state policy with current federal policy that bans the cultivation of the crop via the Controlled Substances Act.  We have had three avenues to address the problem: stand-alone bills S.359 and H.R.525 that would remove the crop from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act [it is treated legally on-par with heroine and cocaine].  Our other two avenues were as amendment to the Farm Bill debate that is nearing completion. 

First up: an attempt in the Senate to attach the bill as Amendment 952, which failed due to an early cloture vote.  The process then shifted to a House strategy.  Congressman Jared Polis submitted an amendment to the House Rules Committee on Tuesday that won approval.  The Amendment, #37, was debated last night on the House floor, winning by voice vote.  There will be a recorded vote today, thanks to the ignorance of Rep. Steve King [R-Iowa].  But more on him later. 

Welcome to America, the greatest country in the world, where ketchup is considered a vegetable and industrial hemp is a Class 1 drug.

Today was a day of contrasts. Some of you who are Facebook friends may have read my posting last week regarding the disabled veteran asking for money to feed his family not 20 feet away from a cart giving away free dog food.

Today was yet another of those days.

My post and pictures earlier today about the Tea Party Anti-Immigration Rally held near the Capitol steps this afternoon was an eye-opener. It's one thing to watch this circus on TV or see newspaper articles regarding this rallies. It's something quite different to be in the middle of the crowd. A sea of ignorance; as one of my dear friends remarked, "you better get a smudge".  The rally, held near the steps of the Capitol, had a lot of "God Bless Y'all" and "Do I hear an Amen?!?" coming from the crowd as Representatives King and Gohmert worked the crowd into a frenzy as they described the [mythical]  22 million illegals in this country today that the evil Democrats won't tell us about.

And you know how they'll all vote, right? Do I hear an Amen? 

No Tea Party is complete without a pontification by Rep. Gohmert that we need to reform the SNAP program – which is code for, "get these illegals off of food stamps!"  Really Rep. Gohmert, this is exactly what Jesus would want you good white folk to be doin'…yes. 

Do I hear an Amen?

As luck would have it I had the opportunity to attend a reception tonight by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in the Congressional Auditorium – not 200 feet from where the Tea Party rally was being held earlier today – while I was waiting in the Captiol for the floor debate to start on Amendment 37.  The evenings event, which included some very thoughtful opening remarks by actor John Lithgow – was followed by an incredible 7 minute video produced in conjunction with the release of the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences report, "The Heart of the Matter".  Please watch the video. 

I found my "smudge"; an auditorium full of support for the humanities; remarks by the likes of Senator Lamar Alexander, David Brooks of the NYT; Senator Mark Warner, John Rowe & Karl Eikenberry, former US Ambassador to Afghanistan. The evening gave me back the hope that gets sucked from ones being while standing amongst the most ignorant of our nation.

Lost on this afternoon's crowd is the fact that our Founding Fathers were students of the Humanities;  they sought after knowledge. Our experiment of a Democratic Republic was an informed decision based on an understanding of history. In fact, as Senator Alexander said, "our American character comes from the understanding of humanity".

If the American character is going to shine in the 21st century, if we are going to serve as Ambassadors to 'the far side of the bridge' – then we must be able to understand both shores. And we have to begin to value 'soft power'. Karl Eikenberry shared a story from Afghanistan where he asked tribal leaders what he could do to win the hearts and minds of Afghani's. The answer: bring the New York Symphony to their country. We won't win this century's global wars with 'boots on the ground'.  And just how are we going to continue with a mindset of global domination when we don't value the education that will inform of the differences in culture; when we can't speak more than one language?

Creating and innovative thinking are rooted in the Liberal Arts. President Abraham Lincoln knew well the value of the liberal arts: when he instituted the Morrill Act of 1862 he required the land grant university system compliment their agriculture and mechanical studies with the liberal arts.

But in the bizarro-land of the Cruz-Gohmert-King fantasy world we will shun education, and rather than arguing ideas from the perspective of a world view – the global market place of commerce and ideas – we get nothing but a steady drone of 'build a fence'. And fear.  Lots of fear.

So, tonight's event was a nice bridge between today's Tea Party Rally – and watching Congressman Polis fight for Colorado's farmers on the floor of the US House. And as I sat in disbelief as I watched the ignorance fall from Rep. Steve King's mouth I was once again reminded how lucky we are in Colorado to have such incredible members of our delegation to Washington.  And it was hard to miss the contrasts: Jared was on the floor fighting for the right for Colorado State University and the University of Colorado to engage in research of the industrial hemp plant so that we can begin to assemble knowledge.  So we can begin to understand how to build an industry with data generated from our land grant university – the shining stars of the Abraham Lincoln era. King was arguing for  the perpetuation of ignorance.

Jared began his debate with an American flag in his hand, a flag a made in Colorado from industrial hemp cloth.  Jared spoke eloquently about how our Founding Fathers Washington and Jefferson were hemp farmers.  How Betsy Ross used hemp to make the American flag.  How we are the only industrialized nation in the world not to allow its farmers to cultivate the crop, even though our country is the largest consumer market in the world for industrial hemp products – to the tune of nearly $500 million annually. 

Anyone with half a brain and an interest in the subject knew Jared made a compelling case.

Congressman King's response: "Oh, I'm not surprised this is coming from Colorado – where they just legalized marijuana!!!"   "Industrial hemp must be illegal for a good reason!!!"   "Why in the world would we legalize this on college campuses?!?" The worst place in the world for this!!"  "Why, the students will be hand planting marijuana amongst the industrial hemp plants and this experiment will turn out to be nothing other than a big pot party!!" 

Oh, we must stop Congressman Polis!!  Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote!!  [he was the lone dissenter on the voice vote]

That vote happens today. Fingers crossed – as yesterday the DEA was in a full-court press with very misleading information being distributed to various House committees.

It was hard to miss the contrast: while we are attempting to amass a domestic knowledge base [it’s not that hard, in 1862 this country had 16 million acres of industrial hemp under cultivation] and start to put a spear through the many failed components on our failed, trillion-dollar experiment, the War on Drugs – Mr. King is exuding ignorance and fear. 

Senator Graham got it right earlier this week:  the Republican Party is approaching a death spiral.  And Captain Steve King is in the cockpit.  Anyone left who hasn't been lobotomized should be packing their parachute and have one finger on the eject button.



3 thoughts on “Hubris v. Humanities

  1. Washington, DC is not only a 'Game of Thrones'….it's a 'Game of Inches' in a world where our global competion is running an actual race. 

  2. If by both sides you mean both camps in the Republican party, then yes.  Our side has its warts as well, and long-term it really doesn't serve us or the country well to not have two, functioning national political parties.  But in this case the Luddites occupy on side of the aisle.  They would serve themselves well to invite your Mom to DC and give them a history lesson in how real Republicans think and act. Your Mom is one class act. 

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