Wednesday, May 28, 2014

We Americans...Must Be Americans

By Robert Charles,

Robert B. Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, lawyer who has written widely on constitutional, legislative and policy issues and  former adjunct professor at the Harvard Extension School.  He currently leads a consulting firm in Washington DC.

As Memorial Day passes, pause with me to celebrate what We Americans have in common. 
There is a certain hypocrisy, if I may say so, enveloping us. 
You can see it in the most recent resuscitation of class warfare, adversarial race relations and visible efforts to turn Americans, one and all, against each other. 
I have had my fill of this hypocrisy. 
Interestingly, until liberals of all stripes began chastising America for being insufficiently sensitive toward each other, most Americans felt that we were imperfect, but a generally positive, hopeful, historically idealistic and upwardly mobile society, a group of rather unrepentant dreamers who wanted to make good things happen.

Oh yes, and we had an improving sense of perspective on each other, one in which differences of race, creed, age and station were secondary to being American, a defining quality. 

That is, we were doing a reasonably good job -- imperfect and subject to individual cases of utter failure -- but a reasonably good job all the same, of giving each other the benefit of the doubt, forgiving errors in judgment, accepting that achievement was hard work, hard work produced results, and wealth, or what we used to call “getting ahead” or “improving our lot,” was a good thing. 
It was a good thing for us, and for everyone. 

Indeed, we wished it upon each other and accepted with joy the notion that others, by working and making something of themselves, offered us ways to follow suit. 

Although we slipped, we collectively had the humility to see, in examples great and small, that “there by the Grace of God go I.”

We also had determination. 
We asked questions like, “If I can dream it, why not do it?”  
That is why, as a People -- not as a Government, but as a Sovereign People -- we grew stronger and faster than any Nation ever has in history. 
We invented more, trusted the individual, tried to limit our government, assumed personal risks, and gambled our lives for the sake of others more than any other People in world history.  
We did so without fear or self-consciousness. 
Our Constitution was, as we all know, the first of its kind in the world. 
Our Wright Brothers first to fly, Lindbergh first across the Atlantic, Americans first on the beaches of Normandy, and our footprints first and only on the Moon. 

We Americans, and please remind the next generation, are not an accident. 
We Americans were -- and still are -- the combination of unswerving human intent, uncontainable heart, and inexplicable Providence. 
We have aspired to do more, reach higher, and have a greater positive impact as individuals and as a Nation -- than most of humanity, living and dead. 
True, we have not always succeeded, but we have never gone at a mission half-heartedly. 
By and large, we have been blessed in our quests.  “Seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you,” that is what Saint Mathew says; we did and it has.     
On race, as on class, we were neither ashamed of who we were nor ignorant of how we came to be, as one Nation. 

We knew the history of the Civil War, as well as the Revolutionary War, and every other war. 

We were believers in truth, versed in the country’s history, good and bad, the permutations and perambulations that brought us, again by an historical miracle, to this day -- to each day. 

That is how we got up, and that is how we went to sleep, feeling lucky to be Americans.  

We knew that America’s progress -- and leadership of Mankind from the US Constitution to innate mutual respect -- were special, understood the world over, and marveled at. 

We liked that. 
Whether understood by others or not, our identity was dear to us. 
We appreciated what went before us, but also let go what was not useful to the soul, learned how to refocus on what was. 
We were a Nation of doers not stewers. 
That, too, was part of what made us Americans -- we had perspective, resilience and pluck.   
To a one, we had little interest in highlighting things that pulled us apart, no pride in victimhood. 

Instead we used our different personal stories to educate each other, and as a basis for proving the veracity of something else, a miracle in history -- the chance for an individual to improve his lot from one generation to the next, what we called “The American Dream.” 

We knew that here alone, if nowhere else in the world, we were safe. 

We were all the same because we were all different. 

And we knew that, if we set our sails right, read the wind right, worked the tiller, the far horizon was ours. 

We had pride in this miraculous place, America. 

Indeed, while we took strength from our individual stories, all different, some tortuous, we instinctively knew we had more in common than ever could separate us. 
Wound we had, but they were nursed together.  
Common wisdom -- and it was both wisdom and common -- was that America was proud of who She was; we were all proud of who we were. 
We were always aspiring, even if not yet a perfect “melting pot.”  
Not long ago, you could ask Americans anywhere what they felt that phrase meant, and you would have heard something along the lines of hope, opportunity, respect for one another -- and not just for our good behavior and our skin colors, cultural legacies and different beliefs, but for our tolerance of each other’s gaffs and mistakes, lifetime disagreements and unchanging opinions. 

There was respect for the art of showing respect, for the ability to keep each other’s foibles in perspective, laughing at absurdities without defaulting to anger.

Americans were proud of how they listened, not just what they said. 
They were proud of showing patience with those who did not yet see the light, might never see it. 
They were proud of empathy for ignorance, proud of tolerance for opinions eclectic, idiotic, odd and strident. 
In other words, you would have recognized in the words of all Americans an understanding that societies are never -- ever -- politically correct, unless overtaken by fear, which trades freedom to speak for the false promise of perfect speech and perfect harmony. 
That sort of harmony is the dark cloak of tyranny, an abuse of power so great that by suppressing individual opinions, it suppresses individuality. 

Nothing could be more un-American.

When honest and impassioned disagreements on issues from governance and economics to pride and prejudice, sexuality to personal faith, medical ethics to marriage are no longer germane in America’s public square, when the right to open disagreement is gone, freedom is in full retreat. 
Any society so scarred is destined for what Churchill said would be “a thousand years of darkness.” 
A society intolerant of the freedom to speak from the heart betrays the Founders, and all who follow. 
As an aside, it also does not prosper. 
Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other Founders wrote us about this; just read their letters. 

Not long ago, all Americans knew this. 

That is why we sighed, bellowed, traded gritty arguments and tasteless jokes, always without taking much offense. 

We tolerated outlandish speech, correcting it, laughing at it, responding to it, educating by reference to it, but not outlawing it. 

Only “time, place and manner” limits were imposed, and those lightly, for example to bar “shouting ‘fire!’ in a crowded theater.” 

We knew we were all different by degrees, by talents and shapes, race and means, character and motivations, strength and lineage, health and heritage -- but we were all individuals, bound by pride in America’s promise that we could be individuals.
That was not so long ago. 

Tolerance of error and recourse to the remedy, corrective speech, were part of America’s paradoxical and permanent -- so we thought -- magic.  Without error, the chance for correction never comes -- and that correction, once made, never gets the chance to stick. 

Not long ago, we learned from, with, about and for each other, and ourselves, through unbridled public speech. 

Rather than the hypocrisy now afoot and the resurgence of this “political correctness” or government coerced conformity of thought, we had a very different way of getting at the truth, which the Founders thought worth preserving. 
Deep differences of opinion were understood to elicit further thought, compelling logic and restorative understandings, to lubricate civic dialogue, to teach us patience and how to understand each other better. 
Often, we disagreed about right and wrong, sometimes without resolution. 

But we were not afraid to be guided by our consciences and faiths. 

We had a sense of obligation to higher truths, as we saw them -- even if we saw them differently. 

We thought most people learned through candid conversation, not by government mandate. 

Even the most righteous government, if there was such a thing, could not replace this obligation, an obligation to listen and speak frankly while pursuing truth. 

Americans could genuinely “agree to disagree,” because we were at last all Americans.

Such simple understandings defined Americans, one and all. 
We learned through error and correction; the price of liberty was patience. 
Darned if it didn’t work, too!  
We saw humanity in each other, and corrected ourselves, no government needed. 
A free society nurtured humility, not judgment.  
Miracle of miracles, we tried to be better Americans, in this became better individuals. 
That was America.  
One American to another, we shared pride in the struggle, what De Tocqueville called Americans’ ability to embrace “the uncomfortable face to face” -- not always coming away friends, but always closer. 
As a Frenchman, he thought Americans exceptional. 
What about that? 
He thought we spoke with unvarnished candor, were sincere, purposeful and earnest in our associations, even when disagreeing.
He wrote a book about it, actually two.
Back then, and even more recently, we expected ourselves to speak civilly to our detractors, to labor with honor to bring them around, or at least to take comfort in trying. 

We strived for patience and tried to model it for our kids, peers and personal enemies. 

No loss of face in tolerance of that kind, listening to those who disdained us or had widely divergent opinions; in this way -- perhaps counter-intuitively -- we all got stronger. 

We discovered how to take a pass on pointless anger and soul-destroying resentment. 

No one -- not a single American -- would have admired a political “leader” who pushed the opposite behavior. 

And that brings us to today. 
Today, we find leaders not leading, often neither candid nor honest, not accountable or concerned about the hypocrisy they are modeling. 
What do I mean? 
I mean they are not seeking, as Ronald Reagan and many others did, to draw us to our moral height, to inspire us to be our best selves. 
They are not teaching honesty, good will, patience and cooperation from an open heart, not asking us to find and to follow our better angels. 
Instead, they are encouraging us to see one another as predatory or mean spirited. 
They are pointing out the failings and foibles in each other, and then making much of them.  
Such “leaders” are unworthy of their title or office.
They emphasize, at fundraisers and press conferences, how different we are from each another, We Americans, all of us. 
They drive wedges -- or try -- between us. 
They pitch the idea of taking up swords or placards, of trying to stake claims to resentment and victimhood, to grabbing a share of mythical entitlements -- all against each other, at the expense of each other, at the expense of America’s past, at the expense of … ourselves. 
Here is the candid truth:  This way is not America. 
We hear these “leaders” calling us “a house divided,” urging us to see ourselves as more different than the same. 

But that, we know, is not true.   

We are different, but more the same as Americans than ever were different. 

And no American becomes happier by falling for this ploy, embracing resentment and anger. 

Not one. 

Happiness is not to be found in jealousy, envy, retribution and punishment, nor a push for more money and wider condemnation, more effigies, apologies and agonists. 

Nor are we being true to our legacy by accepting conformity and dependency on the State.  

None of this is America, American or good for the soul. 

Abraham Lincoln, John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan -- and even the Bible -- tell us that “A House Divided shall not stand.” 

It never has. 

We cannot let ours be divided by new promoters of division. 

In this political season, listen to the radio, read papers or blogs. 
This is what you hear -- more than any time in decades, a bizarre and misplaced “call to arms” for economic and racial warfare, a blur of recrimination, a call for condemning some other group of Americans with righteous indignation, as if our history somehow permitted that. 
It does not. 
This is all for political effect, all an effort to sew dissention that makes us to forget who we really are and what we come from. 
This is an attempt to distract us from the Nation’s unity, as well as our higher calling and common values. 
This is a bold attempt to divide Americans from each other by placing them in static, make-believe economic castes, separating us publicly by cultural background, profession, educational level, race, age, geographies or biographies. 
Do not fall for this political tactic. 
We are still “one Nation under God,” and that is -- the truth once again -- how we got here.
After all, what can mutual recrimination, pointing of fingers and seeking of advantages at each other’s expense do for us? 


It is a trick, a foil to inflame, a tactic as old as “divide and conquer.” 

This is no more than a new set of “promises” to be broken, false hope, the notion that we should fight for a mythical society that perfectly mirrors our self-image, and is perfectly intolerant of everything else, except what we are. 

That is a flawed and manipulated vision, a political slight-of-hand. 

That world is a string of paper dolls, viral duplicates in one’s own self-image, not America. 

We should not want to become that mythical place and we should condemn those who, with knowing hypocrisy, encourage us to lower ourselves to it. 

We are one, with all our warts and differences.

In the end, there is only this -- and we should be proud of it. 
We are imperfect, but we are Americans, and that trumps all this class cataloguing, race pitching, societal division nonsense. 
We are the world’s “land of opportunity.” 
It is time we took stock of the fact, and pride in it.  
Why do you think the world flocks to our shores? 
As Americans we have a right to say and do what we want.  
Accordingly, with hundreds of millions of Americans behind me in time, I am going to say something -- loud and clear. 
This sort of anti-American hypocrisy has no place in our common American culture. 
This kind of intentional sowing of division has no place in political office, the political lexicon or our political leadership. 
This was, is and will be a country built on hope and sacrifice, courage and idealism, generosity and -- yes, common patience. 
Yep, we are pretty damn imperfect, one and all. 

But we are also Americans with heart, one and all. 

That binds most if not all wounds. 

That unity has more than once saved us and saved all the world. 

So, take a moment to feel the pride -- from whatever background or opinion set you hail. 

And do not forget it. 

Do not let the children forget it. 

Let’s get back to being Americans, We Americans, shall we. 

Together, we should begin again to celebrate our common ideals, as well as our natural differences, particularly on days like Memorial Day. 

Together, we can and should laugh, cry, love, live and die as proud, equally flawed and equally free … Americans.  

And that is good enough, at least for me.

POT HEADS, aka Drug Pushers/Addicts

VERACITY - Definition:  the truth, accuracy, or precision of something.

Americans [both young and old] across the nation are seriously questioning the veracity of those like NORML, ASA, DPA, MPP, and others who continue to use old, worn out talking points in the hopes of converting America from a  wholesome culture to a culture of drug abuse; in the likeness of the Latin American Narco-Nations in Central and South America.

Thanks to the great work of many scientist and research institutions across the world from France, England, New Zealand, America, and several other countries, the truth about the terrible and tragic damage marijuana is doing to the human is getting the attention of the Citizens across the United States; and the world.  The evidence is now overwhelming; with every new scientific publication showing marijuana is a dangerous drug.

Recent poll #1 and another poll #2, [CBS Poll]shows America and the world that the folks are now having second thoughts about marijuana for both medical and recreational use and the poll numbers supporting the legalization of marijuana are now beginning to decline.

We have already seen this in California when the ballot poll taken in November/2010 showed the Citizens of California were tired of the Pot Head lies and soundly defeated Proposition 19 to legalize marijuana.  Recently, the pro-pot lobby even failed miserably to gather enough signatures when trying to place four propositions to legalize marijuana on the November/2014 ballot.

Since that eventful day in 2010, even more cities and counties across California have banned marijuana dispensaries within their jurisdiction at the consternation of the Pro-Pot Lobby.  Well over 85% of the cities and counties of California have either banned marijuana, have moratorium in place, or have created ordinances that keep marijuana out of their city or county limits. 

The City of San Jose, the 3rd largest city in California, is currently creating an ordinance that has the pot-lobbyist up in arms and threatening the city officials that they will do what ever they can to stop the ordinance from ever taking effect.  At the recent San Jose City Council meeting, several citizens spoke before the council about all the damage that the pot stores and their customers are doing to their neighborhoods, and the businesses located nearby.  They are angry, they have had enough, and they want an ordinance to ban marijuana dispensaries within the jurisdiction of the city.  By my count, over 45 people went to the San Jose City Council meeting to express their desire to close the dispensaries down and far fewer spoke in favor of the dispensary's; yes, attitudes are changing in the 3rd largest City of California.

For those of you who want to know the truth about marijuana and the damage it does to the human brain, I have added some powerful scientific information for your consideration below.

You will find the first link, "People voting with out knowledge" by Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute of Drugs (NIDA) of particular interest.

Best Regards,

Ronald L. Kirkish, CDFC/IFBC/CAlM





Link to video’s with NIDA’S Dr. Nora Volkow:

People are voting without knowledge (33:42 min):

Addiction is Much More than “Just Saying No” (10:32 min):

Watch Dr. Nora Volkow Explain How Neuroscience Shapes Drug Policy (2:36 min):

Interview with Dr. Nora D. Volkow Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse:

NIDA - Drug Facts: Marijuana

Population-based case-control study of recreational drug use and testis cancer risk confirms an association between marijuana use and nonseminoma risk.

New Scientist: Cannabis can kill without the influence of other drugs

The Cannabis-Psychosis Link: Mind Your Mind

The Cannabis-Psychosis Link

Schizophrenia, Neurocognitive Dysfunction, and Substance-Related Disorders: A Review

Adolescent pot use leaves lasting mental deficits; Developing brain susceptible to lasting damage from exposure to marijuana


For more information on marijuana and its health effects, visit   

For information on marijuana research at NIDA, see

For information on NIDA's role in providing marijuana for medical research,

For details on therapeutic cannabinoid research projects funded by NIDA

More:  Independently Funded Studies Receiving Research Grade Marijuana - 1999 to present

>>>> more scientific links for consideration:

NIDA: Marijuana   (Research Report Series – Revised July, 2012 – NIH Publication # 12-3859)

About the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA)

NIDA Press Office

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): NIDA is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy and improve practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the NIDA home page at To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA's new DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or fax or email requests to 240-645-0227 or Online ordering is available at NIDA's media guide can be found at, and its new easy-to-read website can be found at


Tuesday, May 27, 2014


By Robert "Bobby" Charles - May 24, 2014

Robert B. Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, lawyer who has written widely on constitutional, legislative and policy issues and  former adjunct professor at the Harvard Extension School.  He currently leads a consulting firm in Washington DC.

Talk of religious freedom and limiting it, seems to be everywhere these days.

The US Supreme Court affirmed the right recently of townships to say a public prayer before a local meeting, which seems rather like declaring the sun’s right to rise in the East, if you consult the Founding Fathers’ writings – and their practices.

Meantime, atheist devotees – if there is such a thing as a formal devotee to atheism, since that might make them religious followers of non-worship – are trying to create the first non-religious religious chaplain in the military.

Confusion seems to abound about what restrictions the Founder’s intended for State involvement in religious activities, and what freedoms they wholly expected never to be infringed by the State.

This confusion extends from prayer at local meetings – which a dissenting minority of the US Supreme Court still seems to be confused about – to turning military chaplains into atheistic psycho-babblers.

It extends from limiting local control over long-established religious prerogatives to widening the natural divide between Church and State.

Nevertheless, the essential confusion is simple – and resolvable by recourse to the Founders’ clear intent.

The core confusion that prevails today, whether we talk of religious freedom to erect a public crèche and cross or a community’s decision to demur, is the meaning of two phrases that appear in the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights.

As Americans, we share a conviction that the Federal government shall never establish a “State” religion – and the parallel conviction that no State shall do so, pursuant to the application of the First Amendment to the States, through the Fourteenth.

The operative phrase is this: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …”

At the same time, we share another conviction, namely the freedom to worship The Creator – or not to worship – as each and every individual American may choose.

That religious freedom – indeed, the individual’s free choice to worship or not, and a community’s ability to defer to the majority in all religious traditions – is often traced to another portion of the First Amendment.

That operative phrase is the second of that Federal proscription. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The confusion comes when these two phrases are viewed together, and average Americans – as well as currently dissenting Supreme Court justices – wonder to themselves, how much free exercise is allowed by an individual or by a collection of individuals who call themselves a majority in any given community, before State involvement is triggered at a level that amounts to the “establishment” of a religion.
The answer is – by reference to several of the Founders – not hard to ferret out.
The Founders fully expected that “free exercise” would be just that, free and uninhibited, in no way “prohibited” by the State.
Was religion important to them, indeed was the Christian religion important to most of them?
Well, what do you honestly think?
This guarantee was the first freedom granted in the first line of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution?
Neither individuals nor communities, by a majority vote, would be barred from practicing fully – and freely – their faith, so long as that faith was practiced in an orderly way, a way that did not otherwise disrupt civil society.

Indeed, barring the “establishment” of a “State” religion was expressly intended to prevent devotees of the Church of England from mandating that this one religion become “The Church” of the new country.
But there would be no reason to prioritize this proscription, without also prioritizing the all-important right of unencumbered “free exercise” by individuals and communities.
The bar to “establishment” of one “State” religion was also, quite obviously, never meant to bar publicly spoken professions of individual faith, of any faith, in the public square, whether by an individual or by some organ of the media.
That is probably one reason why there is such a close juxtaposition of three other rights with the right to “free exercise” of one’s faith.
Those other three rights – just behind faith in the First Amendment – are the rights to free speech, press and assembly.
So, how did the Founders really think about the importance of honoring faith or orderly religion, as they framed this Amendment?
The answer is found in their own words. James Madison, often referred to as the Father of the Constitution, writing a full three years before the Constitutional Convention, stated the main intent this way: “The religion … of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man … It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage, and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to him.”
To Madison, the object of preventing “establishment” was to encourage free worship, that is, to leave the field of worship fertile, but able to be sewn with that variant of faith which best suited every man and woman, as their conscience dictated.
The “no establishment” clause was hardly meant to dampen “free exercise.”
But Madison, arguably the most important chronicler of the Constitution’s evolution, went on.
“This duty [to the Creator] is precedent in both order and time, and in degree of obligation, to the claims of civil society … Before any man can be considered as a member of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe.”
So, as you sit back and think about it, how important do you think the freedom to openly worship was to this Founder?
Perhaps Jefferson is more your style.
You may take more comfort in his broader vision of faith than in Madison’s.
Here then, are his words, written a year before the Constitutional Convention.
Thomas Jefferson, revered author of our Declaration of Independence, wrote poignantly of the importance of preserving “free exercise” of religious faith.
He advocated preserving this “natural right” because “Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments … tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in His Almighty power to do …”
Did Jefferson want the “State” to stay out of the business of promoting a single religion? Yes.
Did he want that so that the State would not suffocate a free People’s ability to freely and regularly worship as they pleased?
What do you think?
He wrote, also: “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical,” adding that religious “truth” draws us to it, given the chance.
Thus, this “truth is great and will prevail if left to herself” since it is “the proper protagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons …”
So were the Founders religious men?
Did they raise religious families?
Did they say prayers, in public and private?
Did they seek to promote free exercise of religion, or instead to defile, dismiss, debar and fence it off from the public square?
I think the facts speak for themselves.
These were men who gave up everything to make this the first right in the first line of the first Amendment of our Nation’s Founding Document.
And so what is our job?
Just this: To understand their fervent intent, to listen harder for the “truth” which lies within the “natural right” they recognized, and gave all to preserve, to see that nothing trumps “free exercise,” certainly not an appeal to State-sponsored atheism or to banning of “free exercise” from public places.
Finally, we are obliged to hear Jefferson’s appeal that we avoid “habits of hypocrisy and meanness” as well as the modern tendency to “interpose” and “disarm” religious truth’s “natural weapons.”
So, talk of religious freedom is good; limiting that talk is bad.
And that constitutes our best dissent to the Supreme Court’s recently vocal minority, who would prefer to update Madison and Jefferson.
For myself, I think we are in good company.