A Real Alternative

The Green Party is a political alternative for those committed to building a sustainable and just society. What makes Green politics different is a holistic, ecological outlook that recognizes the interconnection of all life and social processes, and that neither social nor environmental problems can be solved in isolation from each other. We pursue a broad conception of politics that embraces electoral efforts, the development of alternative institutions, education for empowerment, nonviolent direct action, and ecological lifestyles. We choose these issues based on the Greens’ core values.

Green politics is dedicated to pursuing a broad range of issues from energy, transportation and environment to health care, labor issues, and the rights of indigenous peoples. Fundamental reform of government and the electoral system to empower citizens and restore and protect democracy is an important part of Green activism. We believe that resisting free trade treaties like NAFTA and MAI and addressing wealth inequalities in our society is essential to protecting our democratic rights.

The Other Masters Case Reveals More Local Police Misconduct

Originally appeared in Fort Collins Now
12 December 2007
Eric Fried

What is it with Fort Collins cops taking the law into their own hands in the Masters case?

No, not the Tim Masters’ murder case, where police and prosecutors are embarrassed almost daily by new revelations of misconduct and withholding evidence. I mean the case of James and Lisa Masters, who apparently threaten the very foundations of western civilization by self-medicating their many and varied ailments with marijuana.

Here are the facts: Fort Collins police arrested the Masters in August 2006 for possession and distribution of marijuana in their home, and seized their plants, their paraphernalia, and their two daughters, who were cruelly separated from their loving parents for two months. The Masters were serving as a local arm of the Colorado Compassion Club, a state network of providers for medical marijuana patients, including themselves. Colorado voters in 2000 agreed to legalize medical marijuana, over the objections of drug war zealots who see the relatively harmless, naturally occurring weed as the devil’s handmaiden. The Masters were not on the official state medical marijuana registry at the time of their arrest, but did have doctor’s recommendations. In January 2006, in a related case, a jury in Gunnison County ruled that doctor’s recommendations were sufficient grounds for medical marijuana use under the state initiative.

The Masters got their daughters back late last year, and this June a county judge declared the police search illegal and dropped all charges. Last month the same judge ruled the Master’s property – pot and all – must be returned to them. The city appealed, and lost again. Finally the cops turned over the plants, which had long since died, with the lame excuse that it wasn’t their responsibility to keep the evidence alive. But according to the Masters’ attorney, under the terms of the voter-mandated state law, that is precisely what they were required to do. The Masters plan to go back to the judge to ask for about $100,000 in damages.

Imagine if the police seized your dog in an illegal raid, held it as evidence, and finally returned it 16 months later – dead. Would their argument that feeding the dog was not their job make you feel any better? I thought not.

It is true that marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and police insist federal law in this matter trumps state and local laws. Funny, I thought conservatives favored more local control, and less federal control. I guess that offer is void where localities take more liberal positions that the feds, whether it comes to gun control, assisted suicide, or victimless crimes like marijuana use. Then our hypocritical “small government” Puritans want Uncle Sam to come in, guns blazing, and put those uppity locals in their place.

Advocates for more rational marijuana laws in Denver are fighting the same battle. Voters there have passed several initiatives to basically decriminalize pot use, but some elements of the police insist they will continue to ignore the will of the people.

There lies the heart of the problem. The job of police officers is to enforce the law, not to write the law or interpret the law, whether they like it or not. Sometimes they act as if they answer to a higher authority, and that actual facts must give way to Truth as they see it. If that requires violating the law, or stretching the facts to frame someone they “just know” is guilty, then so be it. At that point, they have taken the law into their own hands, and become an uncontrolled, rogue force answerable to no one but themselves. In a democracy, where there is no higher authority than We the People, that cannot be allowed to stand.

Besides, with a rampant meth epidemic tearing us apart, why are we wasting ANY time and money on the ridiculous, failed, anachronistic War on Marijuana, whether people are using it as medicine or mild intoxicant?

Poudre Valley Green Eric Fried writes a monthly column for Fort Collins Now.

Sizing up the Underwhelming Republican Presidential Candidates

Originally appeared in Fort Collins Now
5 December 2007
Eric Fried

Watching the CNN-You Tube Republican Presidential debate last week, I had to chuckle at what passes for diversity in the GOP: eight rich, old, white guys, ranging from conservative to ultra-conservative. Since I’ve taken potshots at the Democrats before, here’s a quick rundown of your Republican presidential wannabes.

Mitt Romney – hair-dyed, blow-dried and perfect-tied – is the candidate from central casting who looks most presidential and has the most money. But Mitt has three big problems: he’s a phony who was pro-choice and pro-gay rights when he ran for Governor of Massachusetts; some folks just don’t trust Mormons; and we’ve never elected a president named for a baseball glove before.

John McCain’s window of opportunity closed in South Carolina in 2000, when the Bush campaign spread rumors that he fathered an illegitimate black baby. (Memo to Hillary: THAT’S mudslinging, not criticizing your record.) McCain used to be a straight-talking independent, for which the Republican base will not forgive him, but he has since cozied up to Christian Right leaders and called for expanding the war in Iraq. He’s yesterday’s news.

Former Senator Fred Thompson was the frontrunner – BEFORE he started running. Now he looks like a sleepy old man trying to pass a kidney stone. He’s also trying to pass himself off as an outsider, though he lives literally inside the Washington DC Beltway and has worked as a corporate lobbyist for years. Why are Republicans so enamored of actors who pretend to be tough guys?

Colorado Congressman Tom Damn-crazy is trying to ride his anti-immigration horse all the way to the White House, but most Republicans aren’t buying it. When he fails to finish in the top three in Iowa and New Hampshire, his one-trick act is over.

Duncan Hunter used to be buddies with fellow LA Congressman Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham, now doing time in the federal pen for corruption. Hunter has more chance of winding up there than in the Oval Office.

Former Arkansas Governor (what, again?) Mike Huckabee is surging in Iowa, and conservatives like the fact that he didn’t become conservative just in time for the primaries.

Also rising in the polls is the real straight talker, Texas Congressman Ron Paul. I agree with him on some issues, like getting out of Iraq and legalizing victimless crimes, and vehemently disagree with him on others, but I respect the guy for his consistency and courage. He’s your side’s Dennis Kucinich.

And then there’s front-runner Rudy Giuliani, fresh off his recent fly-in photo-op serving coffee in Loveland. Sure, “The Mayor of 9-11” looked heroic walking the streets of Manhattan with a dust mask, giving orders, and appearing at funerals and Yankees games. But dig a little deeper, folks. If Rudy had not ignored his aides by locating his Emergency Operations Center in the World Trade Center (which had already been attacked by terrorists in 1993), he might have had a more useful place to go. If he had used his seven years in office to give firefighters proper radios, many would have gotten out before the towers collapsed. Rudy told rescue workers the air was safe to work in without using breathing apparatus, and many are now sick and dying.

Allegations of cronyism and sweetheart deals swirl around Giuliani, and recent news is even worse. His protégé, former Police Chief and nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security Bernard Kerik was recently indicted on multiple felony charges. Kerik’s former lover Judith Regan is suing him, and has revealed they used a city apartment designated for exhausted rescue workers near Ground Zero. City taxpayers also paid for security when Rudy visited his then-girlfriend (now his third wife) on Long Island, and they carried on the affair in the Mayor’s official mansion while the wife and kids were asleep. Nice.

In short, Rudy is Dishonest, Uncaring, Bullying, Yet Arrogant. Say, maybe he IS the perfect candidate to succeed Dubya!