Pubdate: Thu, 31 Jul 2003
Source: Missoula Independent (MT)
Copyright: 2003 Missoula Independent
Author: Mike Keefe-Feldman


Remembering The Way We Were

Once again, the Indy's die-hard political columnist has left the
autumnal beauty of Montana to hit the road and garner the "view from
afar." This time, it's up to Canada where, as far as I can tell,
decriminalized pot and gay marriage haven't dragged the friendly
Canadians down to the gutter yet. If anything, the country with which
we share our longest common border seems to view us as a good friend
who has somehow gone crazy-or to be much more specific, as a country
that has fallen under the leadership of a truly insane

George Bush's vicious recriminations toward Canada for not joining his
bogus "coalition of the willing" in the Iraq War, however, have not
gone over very well here. Along with France, Germany and much of the
United Nations, Canada is just one of the countries that found Bush's
post 9-11 frenzy of bloodlust and misguided revenge just a little too
hard to swallow.

That our nutball president went so far as to smear those nations who
didn't agree with his aggressive war plans as being cowardly, or
somehow soft on terrorism, remains a burr under the saddle for Canadians.

The so-called "protests" that certain Americans performed by pouring
French wines down the drain is also viewed as rather extreme in this
bi-lingual country, where everything from highway signs to food labels
are printed in both English and French. And of course the frugal
Canadians can see no good whatsoever in the sheer waste of such
foolish acts. However, no one seems to mind that similar idiots
(especially those in the U.S. Congress) dumped French fries in favor
of the inane "freedom fries." After all, up here, they are simply
pomme frites.

While America is wrapped up in its never-ending remembrance of tragedy
and its neo-Nazi security scene, Canadians seem most like Americans
used to be-happy, kind, open and unafraid.

Perhaps that's because Canada is so multi-cultural that the kind of
perversions being instituted by Bush and Ashcroft simply won't fly
here. Exclusion of one subset of humanity, like the Muslim pogrom now
sweeping the U.S., would mean the exclusion of all subsets sooner or

Many in our country don't see it that way, of course, deluded into
thinking that we can persecute Muslims now without persecuting
Presbyterians later.

Same deal on the de-criminalized pot. Ashcroft and his ilk have for
years made millions of Americans out to be criminals for the simple
act of smoking marijuana. What's funny about it all is how the various
states have tried and tried and tried to get the message across that
spending bazillions of scarce bucks busting pot smokers is really a
waste of police time and taxpayer money.

Seattle just voted to demote marijuana violations to the lowest law
enforcement priority in their city. Alaska, which has long held that
personal possession or use of less than four ounces of pot in your own
home is legal by virtue of constitutional guarantees to privacy, has
just re-affirmed that decision on yet another legal appeal.

And then there's the whole medical marijuana debacle.

In the U.S., badass federal drugbusters have no problem slapping down
those who would provide pot to the critically ill. There's no doubt
that it helps cancer patients have better appetites, or that many
prefer it to the dizzying array of prescription drugs with which our
country has no problem.

But the feds refuse to acknowledge any of the state laws-which is
really odd when you consider that Bush ran on a platform of limited
federal government and states' rights.

Was he only kidding?

No, he wasn't kidding-it's just that he didn't agree with the big, bad
federal government under Bill Clinton's presidency. But now that Bush
is in charge of the federal mega-bureaus, well , let's just say the
big stick of the feds has never been bigger, or badder, or deployed as
often and with as little just cause against its own citizens.

Quite the contrary on the medicinal marijuana scene up here, where the
Calgary Herald just ran an opinion column deriding the quality of the
government's "official" medical marijuana as inferior, full of ground
up stems and leaves, tasting bad and working worse because of its low
THC content. The column's conclusion was that the Canadian government
should leave the growing to those who do it best-the hippies.

Now, does that help put the difference in perspective between the Bush
fascists and the Canadians, or what?

No one dreads going through customs into Canada. Their biggest concern
remains what it has always been-firearms. While we get crazier and
crazier and more and more paranoid, the Canadians just want to make
sure we're not bringing any of that American cold-steel craziness with
us when we come north. If you have to be worried about something,
being worried about guns-and especially handguns that primarily wind
up getting used on other people-seems like an eminently reasonable

The Iraq War garners mention on page five, if that, instead of the
daily drenching we are subjected to by our print, voice and visual

That Americans continue to die there every day is something that is
known and viewed as a tragedy, but not ground into every second of
your consciousness as yet another reason to kill more "bad guys."

Somehow, Canada seems to be a lot like Montana used to be, and can
still be-a relaxed place where people are friendly and polite and Big
Brother seems a long way off. The division spawned by politicians like
Bush and Martz, turning citizens against one another on a daily basis
for any number of reasons, is simply vacant.

The real excitement, at least here in the Canadian Rockies, is the
approaching ski season, heralded by the first new snows on the
majestic peaks.

This American, for one, finds it a very welcome change.

When not lobbying the Montana Legislature, George Ochenski is rattling
the cage of the political establishment as a political analyst for the
Missoula Independent.