Listening to the Republicans, one would come away with the impression that state's rights are one of the most important issue facing America, second only to the 2nd Amendment. From what was euphemistically called "Welfare Reform" to abortion issues, the right is adamant that every right not specifically given to the federal government belongs to each state exclusively.
With that sort of manic focus, this administration would seem to backpedaling like crazy on those issues and demanding that the federal government wrest that control away in the same manner that the Republicans accused the Clinton administration and, specifically, Janet Reno of attempting. So, one might ask, do the Republicans believe in their own jargon or are they just more hypocrites just like their Democratic counterparts? I suppose you already know my opinion, now don't you?!?
If the Republican Party stands for the notion of state's rights then perhaps they might consider sending Attorney General John Ashcroft back into the dark of night where his sort is more comfortable. You see, twice in the past year Ashcroft has stomped all over the idea of state's rights.
First, California voters passed a law that legalized the possession and use of marijuana when prescribed by a medical doctor for cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief. It was a show of compassion for the ill and defenseless that has been little seen in this era of mean spirited conservative control. California joined Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington as states in which voters firmly declared their right to legalize marijuana use and the legislature of Hawaii became the first state's government to declare medicinal marijuana legal. Many other states are watching closely to judge the effectiveness of the legislation in anticipation of following suit and a 1999 Gallup poll showed that 73% of Americans support the medicinal use of marijuana. ( 1 )
Well, in a show of what Bush so often proclaimed "Compassionate Conservatism", Ashcroft immediately fired off at a press conference that he would use his federal power to arrest anyone caught in possession of or using medicinal marijuana. At nearly the same moment, marijuana clubs were raided, their employees arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute, and all marijuana in stock seized. Those anti-state's rights actions have continued into the moron's little war when, on Oct. 5th, scores of DEA agents descended on the L.A. Cannabis Resource Center, seizing all of the center's computers, patient files, bank records, plants, gardening equipment, and medicine. ( 2 )
Oh, and a wee bit more of a peek into the twisted minds of the right is that Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia was the driving force behind a raid on clubs in Los Angeles and the warrant was signed, not by a real judge, but only by a 70-year-old Nixon appointee from Florida who happened to be serving temporarily on the circuit. ( 3 )
Ashcroft also threatened every doctor in the state that they, too, would be arrested and their licenses to practice medicine revoked if they attempted to express the mercy and real compassion that their profession centers around.
Now, just what part of a state declaring a weed to be a legal medicinal product does Ashcroft have problems with? We know that, like Osama bin Laden and Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, Ashcroft is a religious fundamentalist who believes that his fairy tale is the TRUTH while the fairy tales of others are "SACRILEGIOUS! In fact, Ashcroft forces his entire staff to indulge in his personal little religious rituals every morning in his government office, a clear violation of the separation of church and state.
Nevertheless, if the Rabid Right wishes to preach the sanctity of state's rights in any area then they must step aside for issues that states have very firmly proclaimed their views on. If the right wants to allow every state to decide its own abortion issues and worker's safety issues, then they must abstain from any actions that intrude on the rights of every state's voters to decide this issue for themselves.
Another of Ashcroft's massive infringements on a state's right to control those areas not constitutionally established as federal powers is the latest case in Oregon.
A 1994 voter initiative granted state licensed physicians the power to assist terminally ill patients to hasten their deaths through the use of prescribed drugs. The law didn't go into effect until 1997 due to court battles. In 1998, Attorney General Janet Reno barred federal agents from acting against physicians who assisted these terminally ill patients.
Ashcroft, an attorney at best, crossed over into the practice of medicine when he proclaimed in a memo to DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson that assisted suicide is not a "legitimate medical purpose". In order to violate the state's rights of the voters in Oregon, Ashcroft has instructed the DEA to revoke the license to dispense drugs of any physician who acted in the best interests of their patients and in accord with Oregon state law.
In a rather twisted chain of logic, Ashcroft will only persecute those physicians who, in following the state's procedures, admit on state paperwork that they have assisted in a suicide. Where did that bit of insanity come from? Well, sad to say, it was undoubtedly crafted by some of the more irrational segments of the National Right to Life Committee like medical ethics director Burke Balch. It creates an interesting dichotomy in which physicians can give comfort to dying patients but they can't fill out the paperwork necessary to comply with the state's law. So, according to this perverted decision by a truly demented Ashcroft, physicians can assist the dying, they just can't admit it.
Again, just what part of state's rights does Ashcroft not understand. We all know that he and all of his sort are overt hypocrites and will lie out of both sides of their mouths while decrying the same habit in Democrats but this issue is supposed to be a big time focus of the Rabid Right. It's time that the right either acknowledge the power of the federal government to interfere in all state issues like marijuana and assisted suicides and setting aside state land for National Monuments and over turning state laws regarding abortion or else to cease their interference in the decision of Oregon's and California's and all the other state's voters who have long ago decided that the federal level is too far behind the wishes of the people to be relevant any longer.
These are just two examples of the continuing problems that seems to infect every administration. They just cannot abide the reality that the people of America do not want a fundamentalist government of any odor forcing their narrow minded beliefs on the rest of us. There is no place in America for any little minds to attempt to displace the Constitution. We, the American people, want neither a bunch of fundamentalists decreeing anything nor do we want issues constitutionally left to the citizens of the various states to be countermanded by the federal government acting on those silly fundamentalist belief system. ( 4 )
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