Monday, March 31, 2014

Will Be Writing Soon

I wish I had something witty to offer where it involves me being rather ill these days. Actually, it is not so much a passing illness and a few that will not pass, but have to be lived with. So, there will be times when this site suffers. And, that is alright.

It is my hope that I will feel well enough to write something in a few days; this is my hope. Yet, I thank everyone for coming and am glad to know that some people, apparently, still like reading my stuff. For those who read me in my old career, thank you for coming here. I am a little frail where it comes to my health so thanks for your understanding.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Journalism: Speaking Truth To Power

Wherever I got the notion of speaking "truth to power" was the dumbest idea I ever had. I can see things pretty clearly now, as a semi-retired writer looking forward to that day (hopefully soon) when I will be a completely retired writer. Consequently, I have a pretty good idea of what journalism is and is not. 

When I worked I was a newsman in New Jersey, and I wrote for local, county and state level papers in the Garden State for about 20 years. I guess I made as much money reporting news as anyone has made in the newspaper industry -- and then spent it all -- but it was a good living. It was a heck of a run. 

I wrote my daughter, Amanda, not so long ago and I said something in one of my paragraphs to her about bringing truth to people and how it doesn't make any friends. In fact, bringing the truth to people, hard truths they do not want to hear, makes enemies for the writer dumb enough to do it. 

In my career, I was offered the post of government information specialist in Trenton for a party caucus (if I shut up about governmental irregularities in the Bayshore of NJ). I didn't do it -- I told the guy who tried to bribe me to go to hell. I was offered a government spokesman job after Katrina out-of-state, if I would just shut up and fly right with some local bad guys. I wouldn't do it. There were other bribes, but these were the biggies -- and I told all of them to go pound salt. 

I was really taken by those ideas thrown around in the words of the Declaration and Constitution. Those words used to strike fire in my heart as a child. There was real power behind them, unassailable by the menace or shortcomings of men and women -- or so I thought. 

I have suffered retribution by office holders and candidates, and their organizations, after I reported on uncomfortable truths or news of outright illegality out into the public, which is mostly as bright as a 10-watt light-bulb. I never, ever gave up about the truth. And, it did my heart good. I really felt like I was doing something there for a few years. 

But, the good guys do not always win. Sometimes, petty crooks and small-time fiends win the day with their lovely suits and dresses, their nice smiles, soft hands and greasy hearts. There is at least one political group that is still hounding me to this day. But, the only refrain I have to comfort them with is the same one I have for so long -- and it involves them going to hell. I suspect that would be the words I would give them if it were my last breath. 

Oh, the stories about getting hounded sought by politicians, elected and appointed officials, assorted political cronies and political parties are many and scary, silly, dumb and unjust over the years -- and there would be entertainment value in it. I would have done so much better for myself, in so many ways, if I had played ball with bad guys -- but I hate what corruption does to this country. Yeah, it is as simple and sappy as that.

When I was a United States Army Paratrooper in my youth, I was attracted to the Airborne because the U.S. is traditionally "the Good Guys" in a world where there are plenty of "Bad Guys," and I deeply want to whip their ass. It was that simple. 

Now back to journalism: Most news outlets do not print investigative or controversial news for three reasons today: 1. They do not have reporters who could do an investigative piece and avoid libel and defamation because they are half-trained at best these days (experienced reporters cost money, cut into profits); 2. They do not want to alienate any possible advertisers, current or future, with a lot of controversial news; and 3. It would take organizational effort from newsrooms no longer built to investigate or treat stories in an in-depth manner. 

So, instead of being an informal check or safeguard against tyranny these days -- Online and printed news organizations on every level have become the friends of the politicians, reigning political overlords, big-shot developers etc., because it is not the truth that sells papers or gets hits (or whatever those people count)...because these newspapers and Online news deals are paid for not by subscriptions, which are only a small part of any news organization revenue. News organizations are subsidized by advertisers. So long as news organizations are playing ball and not lifting the carpet up for people to see the ugly truths of local, county and state government -- they get subsidized and 'news people' get paid. News has become propaganda on every level of government, by and large. 

I want to give a big shout out here to the folks over at The Star-Ledger who, once again, recently proved to be the exception to the rule with their fine reporting and, as always, to The New Jersey Herald for its continuing good show -- even in the hardest of times. The rest of them could be thrown in a ditch and buried up and it still wouldn't make them gone enough for me. 

The news coverage from the Washington Post that brought down President Nixon in 1973 could not happen today. Reporters don't know how to research anymore and don't have editors with the knowledge to guide them or the rocks to follow through. 

I like what I did with my dumbass career. An old friend of mine, Joe Caliendo, once joked that my reporting and the reporting of the newspaper I published for 11 years earned me enough enemies in this world that I should hire someone to start my car in the morning. It's funny and I don't mind the hard-ass reputations I earned with government and political people. 

But, if there are any would-be journalists out there, don't do what I did -- there is a big career in selling out -- it's done every day. Bringing truth to people will never earn you a dollar, a friend or a kind word. All it will do is let you sleep like a small child each night. So, that's not bad at all. 

Upcoming: Part 5 of Racism in the Suburbs

I will have Part 5 on the "Racism in the Suburbs" series in a few days -- look for it!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sister Wendy and Art Appreciation 101

An enormous part of my life is really art appreciation -- the old school stuff being a personal favorite. And, the wonderful person who really got me interested in this as a younger man was no one other than Sister Wendy. As a tribute to her I would like to show some of her shows here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Make No Mistake

Abuse and Addiction to Drugs such as Pain Killers, Alcohol and Food

By David H. Kerr, March 16, 2014
Kathleen O'Brien, writer for The Star-Ledger has summarized the National Safety Council's report on addiction and overdose stating that:
"Accidental poisonings — chiefly drug and alcohol overdoses — have supplanted motor vehicle crashes as the biggest cause of unintentional death in New Jersey, according to the latest report by the National Safety Council."  See her report below printed in the Ledger on March"
With our growing "pain sensitive" culture, addictive drugs continue to be promoted as a palliative to reduce or to extinguish the pain. One problem solved and another more serious problem created.  Make sense? Not to me. 
"In looking at the history of substance abuse over thousands of years, here’s a quote that seems applicable: "It's been my experience, Langford, that the past always has a way of returning. Those who don't learn, or can't remember it, are doomed to repeat it." ―Steve Berry,The Charlemagne Pursuit
We've been here before.  Morphine was the high potency legal drug until 1898 when heroin was distilled from morphine as a more potent opiate painkiller.  With millions of Americans using these drugs, we soon noticed the harm they caused. As a result, we passed a law regulating and taxing the importation and distribution of opiates and coca products in 1914 called "The Harrison Narcotics Act."
The Harrison Narcotics Tax Act (Ch. 1, 38 Stat. 785) was a United States federal law that regulated and taxed the production, importation, and distribution of opiates and coca products. The act was proposed by Representative Francis Burton Harrison of New York and was approved on December 17, 1914.[1][2]
"An Act to provide for the registration of, with collectors of internal revenue, and to impose a special tax on all persons who produce, import, manufacture, compound, deal in, dispense, sell, distribute, or give away opium or coca leaves, their salts, derivatives, or preparations, and for other purposes." The courts interpreted this to mean that physicians could prescribe narcotics to patients in the course of normal treatment, but not for the treatment of addiction.
Although technically illegal for purposes of distribution and use, the distribution, sale and use of cocaine was still legal for registered companies and individuals.
While heroin was first controlled in the US in 1914, it continued to be used for medicinal purposes. In 1924 though, Congress made the production and sale of heroin illegal, due to obvious harsh health consequences resulting from its continued and excessive use and abuse causing addiction and death.
Now we are in that same addiction limbo that defined our culture in the early 1900's. We now know that there are millions of people in our country born with the genetic disposition for addiction and if we flaunt legally prescribed addictive medicines in front of them day after day, it's most likely that they will succumb to their disease.  They will continually seek and take what is prescribed for their pain, regardless of the harmful consequences from their overuse prompted by their disease.  Then they will take more and more until they run out of prescription renewals and will continue their habit with illegal heroin – usually injected.  This is the definition of addiction and this is what is going on now.  It is exactly what happened in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Based just on media reports, this is a dangerous pattern with very serious consequences including addiction and death.
In my post to, September 20, 2010 below, "A Beginning Solution to the Burgeoning Problem of Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction," I spoke about
"A new online tracking system approved by State Health Regulations on August 2010.  This new system would appear to help pharmacists and physicians fight the growing problems of prescription drug abuse. The new system also should prove helpful for law enforcement agencies fighting drug dealers who obtain prescription pain killers to sell for profits."
New Jersey's Prescription Monitoring Program appears to have been implemented just recently on March 1, 2014.  Here is the summary of the law:
For too many New Jerseyans, addiction begins in the medicine cabinet.  Please be advised that beginning March 1, 2014, pharmacies will be required to report information to the NJPMP on a weekly basis using the ASAP 4.2 format. However, in order to help facilitate any software conversion that may be necessary, the NJPMP will continue to accept submissions using the ASAP 4.0, 4.1/2009 format until September 1, 2014
The New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (NJPMP) is an important component of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs' initiative to halt the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs.
Established pursuant to N.J.S.A. 45:1-45 et. seq., the NJPMP is a statewide database that collects prescription data on Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) and Human Growth Hormone (HGH) dispensed in outpatient settings in New Jersey, and by out-of-state pharmacies dispensing into New Jersey. Pharmacies are required to submit this data at least twice per month.
In a recent report in the Ledger – see below:
"Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, says it has completed testing of an abuse-resistant version of the painkiller hydrocodone, a surprise development that could derail sales of the recently introduced Zohydro, a powerful pain medication that has been heavily criticized for lacking such safeguards."  Zohydro is an addictive medicine.
Time will tell if Purdue's new "abuse-resistant" and non-addictive painkiller will work but it would be a real achievement if we could develop a non-addictive painkiller.  However, as long as there are addictive painkiller's available that will "get the patient high," most people will likely stick with the product that makes them happy, gets them feeling "high" as well as reducing their pain.
Here's what will happen if history is a predictor: People in pain or not in pain will pursue the legal "painkiller" that gets them high and that continues to make them feel good. Heroin use and abuse will accelerate since it fills the bill, and it will become a major problem for our society. It has the best track record for getting people mellow or stoned and out of pain as well as seriously addicted.
Our culture seems to be in a pleasure seeking mode and people tend to get uppity when you try to tell them what they shouldn't put into their bodies.  "I'll take what I want and no law can stop me.  It's my right as a citizen of this free US of A."  That sounds fine until someone shows that he or she doesn't have the judgment to know "when to say when."  This is not so uncommon considering the millions of Americans who have ignored their disease and become out of control alcoholics and addicts.  Now someone's innocent child is killed in an auto accident as a result of an over drugged driver.  My mom would use this phrase: "Your liberty ends where my nose begins."  A person over medicated and driving erratically down the highway has no right to hurt or kill others.  If the excessive medication, or drugs or alcohol puts others at risk, the law must step in to clarify the boundaries.  Unfortunately the disease of addiction knows no such boundaries and the disease can and has hurt self and others.
We all must be alert to the signs of the disease of alcohol, drug and food addiction and we can keep it simple: increasing use and overuse and abuse of these substances plus the genetic disposition for addiction will define your potential as an addict – food, drink or drugs.  Awareness, control and moderation are three watchwords for preventing this slow creeping disease that often won't show its destructive face for years and even decades but when it does, it may be too late.
Never mind what's your “right.”  This is the rationalization I've heard from many an addict.  Take a look at your own substance use over time.  Is it increasing, little by little?  Awareness, moderation or total abstinence may set a safe path for you to remain functional and reasonably happy and safe living with your disease.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The New Politics of Racism in Suburban New Jersey, Pt. 4

By Rev. Jim Purcell, MPS, CPSP1 (Ret.)

Strictly in theory, the Middletown Township Committee has to vote as a body on things like who will be named to what position, if a body will be created or disbanded as an advisory group or any other kind of group affiliated with the municipal government, among other things.

In reality, though, GOP committee people do not express individual leadership skills and vote as a small herd. It is less the Round Table, so to speak, than it is the Borg, of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame.

I have already been asked why I do not include discussion of the democracy and 'one-member-one-vote' nature of the committee more heavily when discussing the governing body and its decisions relative to the controversy about the abolishment of the Middletown Human Rights Commission. This is because such 'democracy' by the committee is in theory and ceremony only. The real power behind such votes are not even the mayor, past or present, associated with the town through the course of time, but the Republican Machine that has controlled the community for the past 40 years.

In fairness, members of the Republican Party in Middletown Township who serve on the governing body do have opportunities in office to express their ideas, from what I can tell after years of covering the town. However, these expressions are more private at first, certainly not 'off the cuff' ever or without prior consultation with the town GOP's Political Machine. GOP office holders in Middletown row their oars in the same direction and no one plays as an individual in the political game -- and benefits from that organization.

Yet, this is not how a government organized under the Government of the United States is supposed to operate -- doing things the way they are done in Middletown laughs in the face of the American system of rule within its own borders, in my opinion.

Well, the core with this, of course, is that no political party is supposed to run any town or community in the United States of America -- yes, their candidates/officer-holders do but the darn political party is supposed to have nothing to say. This is where Middletown takes a 'hard right turn into crazy.' The idea that the electorate votes and sends cardboard cut-outs instead of bona fide representatives of the people's will to a governing body, which then gives license to any measure brought by the town's GOP Political Machine, which is led by several attorneys that are paid by the township for various services, is ridiculous and goes on every single day in Middletown.
Hailing a cab in Middletown?

This is not the first place I have stated that the leadership of the Middletown Republicans have historically been involved with overseeing governmental borrowing from a Newark law firm for several decades now. This must be legal, or else law enforcement would have been involved in this years ago, but it nonetheless smells as bad as Johnny On The Spot after a day at the circus.

The Middletown Committee is not, historically, a group of independent-minded people looking to do local government as much as they are a collection of the hopeful and ambitious seeking to be helped in careers and futures by the Middletown GOP, which is the most influential community politically in the county -- and one of the most influential in the state. In addition, so many state legislators and officials hail from Middletown it seems being closely aligned to the Middletown GOP can often lead to advancement in the ranks of politics or professions (particularly law or engineering).

Where does all this arrive where it involves bias? Not just of race but certainly that too. Its collected excesses have made Middletown one of the last all-White gated communities in New Jersey, if not the Industrial North East, intent on not allowing diversity or thoughts other than those in the 'group speak' of a small ring of influential, anonymous attorneys who are the real force behind the community's governance; not the committee people -- not the elected representatives of the people.

However, Middletown stoics, intent on never giving sway to the laws that govern the rest of the land, or the diversity that is so present nearly everywhere else in the Garden State, cannot win forever and, one fine day, this government will have to join the rest of the world.

Does all this make the elected and non-elected politicians of Middletown racist? Well, after much consideration, the community is 93 percent White -- and that is the proof in the pudding, isn't it? If race were not one of the single-most important issues to the powers that be there, how would the town have otherwise acquired a Native American population that is many times over the number of traditional minority residents in town? No, working-class Blacks and Hispanics are definitely be kept away from the town as per plan.

There is an old saying in the Black Community that, in many places, someone could get in trouble for a "DWB" as easy as a "DWI." And, I asked what DWB was and was told: It's 'driving while Black.' It happens in places where there usually aren't a lot of Black residents and it is a means of keeping Blacks intimidated.

I found it so hard to believe such things happened in my late teens. A lot has changed since then, and then again a lot of things about this world have remained the same since then -- just ask anyone you meet on the streets in Middletown.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

On The Mend

Still a bit under the weather, will be good to hook tomorrow. Thanks for being patient. All the best!

Monday, March 10, 2014

The New Politics of Racism in Suburban New Jersey, Pt. 3

By Rev. Jim Purcell, MPS, CPSP1

On March 3, in Middletown Township, New Jersey -- perhaps the 'Whitest' town this side of Nebraska, the Township Committee voted to disband the Human Rights Commission. This commission was also, by statute, the Civil Rights Commission for Middletown Township, one of the largest municipalities in New Jersey -- and likely the leader in the least diversity.
Middletown is rich in patriotic spectacles, if not addressing civil liberties

In my opinion, no community stays all-White (or 93 percent at least) for its entire history, dating back to when the town was a Tory stronghold for Red Coats before and during the Revolutionary War -- unless part of the town priorities are not being inclusive, and for generations. Meanwhile, things like human rights commissions can certainly be a nuisance in that scenario. Communities today are not non-diverse by accident. It is a plan by the town fathers, long-standing political bosses and party interests that keeps that ugly idea going. And, there is no short supply of that in Middletown, as will be discussed in the next installment of this series.

It is a great shame, not only because the commission had been in continuous operation since 1968, but also because I am aware of the work of  the commission's chair, Dr. Carolyn Schwebel, and I have always known her to be the one in the trenches, fighting for disabled-accessible improvements to public buildings, not being afraid to tackle issues of race and controversy to do what was as just as she and her commission members could.

It is not a secret in Middletown that Dr. Schwebel was not a "team player" with the all-Republican GOP. She speaks truth-to-power in a place where that is very hard to do. Dr. Schwebel, you see, is pretty much the only actual tether the government in that town had of understanding how the actual world, not secluded in a moneyed section of New Jersey, works.

There are four members of her commission, and there have been several others wanting to join as well. And, as I am well aware from my days putting out a newspaper in this close-knit community, the Middletown Committee ignores the truth of the actual world, in favor of its own. In fact, Dr. Schwebel was not able to accept everyone who was interested in joining the commission, because there were too many.

Yet, one of the primary reasons offered by former Mayor Anthony Fiore for this disbandment was because there were not enough people interested in joining this commission. Well, I have known Dr. Schwebel many years and I am not about to call her a liar, as I am aware of her good character, while I am similarly aware of the tradition of bad conduct by this committee and its entrenched politicians.

One of the so-called reasons, which were expedient excuses, by the town committee was that the Human Rights Commission was not drawing enough interest by volunteers. In fact, the commission had no wont of new recruits. Dr. Schwebel, reluctantly, had to turn down several volunteers for the post due to the size of the body.

She stated recently to her commission members: "Mr. Fiore was wrong when he said that there was no interest, no one applied for the Middletown HRC. Several citizens have actually applied for membership on the Middletown HRC. While Larry, Spiro, and Ray were appointed, the rest, about seven, who looked good,were not."

In its proclamation disassembling the 46-year-old town body, the committee stated: "Whereas, the Commission has not been an active body for many years, and when it did meet, it failed to focus on its statutorily defined mission as set forth under N.J.S.A. 10:5-10 (formerly N.J.S.A. 18:25-10 at the time of its formation by Resolution in 1968); and whereas, not only did the Commission fail to perform its statutorily defined duties, it involved itself in matters entirely outside of the jurisdiction of the Township’s governing body, in one instance it was even used to promote a pet food drive for a charity associated with a member of the commission."

So, the alleged reasons for the disbandment included, but was not limited to: the commission addressing the broad scope of issues presented it (e.g. "failed to focus on its statutorily defined mission") -- yes, it could not be told what it would say by politicians; it is alleged the commission "has not been an active body for many years," and I would ask how the commission can be meeting and doing things the committee didn't like without being active; and, "in one instance, [the HRC] was even used to promote a pet food drive for a charity associated with a member of the commission." The committee is castigating the commission for helping out dogs? Really?

Things cannot stay stuck in the past for any community so long

So, the Town Committee and former Mayor Fiore and freshman Mayor Stephanie C. Murray all made it clear they didn't want the commission around. The final excuse for this was that the action was a cost-saving measure.

Insofar as  "saving money," the HRC was a volunteer body, as was the volunteers that helped them with their initiatives (far from being inactive). Aside from burning some electricity and leaving the bathrooms open when they met at Town Hall, 1 Kings Highway, there was really no cost whatsoever attached to this body. I daresay the governing body probably spends more on appetizers for one or two of their own self-congratulatory, private events than this commission costed the town in an entire year.

On Friday, January 28, 2010, Dr. Carolyn Schwebel, the chair of the commission, wrote a letter to then-Middletown Township  Mayor Anthony Fiore thanking him for his visit the previous night during a meeting of the HRC.

At that session there was, naturally, a discussion between Mayor Fiore and Dr. Schwebel about the nature of her commission.

As she promised at the then-recent meeting, Dr. Schwebel sent Mayor Fiore a memorandum from the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, noting NJSA 10:5-10, "which empowers local municipalities to appoint local commissions on civil rights."

Dr. Schwebel went on to cite the reference and noted the primary function of such a included "...[an] attempt to foster through community effort or otherwise, good will, cooperation and conciliation among the groups and elements of the inhabitant of the community."

Dr. Schwebel made the argument that the "intention was not to limit the functioning of local civil rights commissions only to advising the governing body." Yet, in the resolution abolishing the commission and in its language throughout the dismantling process the group was always characterized by the Township Committee as an "advisory group" to the governing body; not an independent body of its own with its own ability to review issues or take testimony, as appropriate, about crucial issues of diversity and equal access and offer independent opinions, other than those the Township Committee strictly gave them.

It is no secret that Dr. Schwebel is also involved, and has been for many years, in an area group called The Equalizers, a private group that explains and, when necessary, agitates for, equal access to various public venues for those who are disabled. This is work intended to 'catch up' lethargic Monmouth County and Shore towns in things they should be doing anyway to comply with the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act. If such a group is a reason for scorn in any community, then priorities for that place need to be seriously re-examined.

Middletown is part of the United States of America, where there is a U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights in operation right now, despite those who would seek to run their municipality in a similar fashion to "Boss Hog" on the beloved 70's TV show "The Dukes of Hazard." Yet, Middletown Township has managed to do just that -- evade what most other communities have to do in New Jersey to ensure the rights of the citizens of this state.

Where there is not oversight, there will be excesses: Any CEO can tell you that -- any store manager for that matter. What is it that will get accomplished? Whatever is checked to ensure workers have done it. In this case, the Middletown Committee just did away with its own Human Rights and Civil Rights Commission. So the question has to be offered: Just what is the pain in the neck that the committee wants to go away -- the human rights" part or the "civil rights" aspect of the body? Either way, it is not a healthy sign for any community.

Correction: I have been informed that the abolishment of the Human Rights Commission has not yet occurred, it was simply vetted on March 3rd for the governing body, which will vote upon it finally at its next session. Personally, I don't think anyone on that dais is going to change their mind about a thing, though. JJP

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Upcoming features on The Chronicle

A friend of mine asked me to look at issues surrounding the recent disbandment of the Middletown Township (NJ) Human Rights Commission, which had existed since the 1960s. In addition, I will be posting the third installment of my five-part series dealing with Racism in the suburbs, coincidentally also involving Middletown Township, New Jersey. I hope to have the first installment of the Human Rights Commission piece tomorrow and the latest Suburban Racism feature posted by the day after.

And, of course, Happy St. Pat's to everyone.

-- Rev. Jim Purcell

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Alcohol Linked to 75,000 US Deaths a Year

 Alcohol vs. Pot. 
One no worse than the other?
  Is this the discussion we should be having?
By David H. Kerr              
Obama Says Marijuana No Worse than Alcohol
byVOA News
U.S. President Barack Obama says he thinks using marijuana is less dangerous than consuming alcoholic drinks, but has told his daughters he does not advocate pot smoking
I love our President, Barak Obama. He has led with courage and humility and he has earned my respect and admiration. It’s a shame though, that he has gotten sucked into the debate about which substance: alcohol or pot is worse for you. 
Your child’s drug or alcohol use may be in their genes and/or it may be shaped by your own habits as a parent modeled by your children. It will likely not be improved by what you say but rather by what you do.
Is one worse or better than the other?”  My response: “Is this the question we should be asking?”  This discussion may prove how far along we are in our understanding of drugs and their effects. “Which is worse, alcohol or Pot?”   
Here are some recreated quotations taken from my notes, depicting two individuals bragging about the effects of pot vs alcohol:
“I know a pothead who failed his GED test cause he was high.”
“That’s nothin’, I know an alcoholic who never got his law degree cause he was too drunk to pass the test.”
“Well I know a pothead who was high and fell into his bathtub and damn near drowned.”
“That’s nothing,’ I know a drunk who drove into a tree and killed his whole family.”
“I know a pothead who was shooting for the stars.  Trouble is, his wife left him cause he didn’t see her as one of the stars…”
“Yea, well I know an alcoholic who wrote a poem about his victory over drinking, surviving many close calls with death.  His brother read it at his funeral after his fatal auto accident.”
These quotes and this essay show the futility of the pot – alcohol debate. 
Actually, we could settle this once and for all - a contest of what’s worse:  Drinkers or Potheads.; drunk or stoned.  We need your opinion but only by those who are experienced drinkers and/or potheads – say no less than 10 years of use and abuse.  Be sure to attach your bio including your missed opportunities and accomplishments as a drunk or pothead, your present employment status and your relationship with your wife and family.
Until then, I guess we’ll just have to keep up the shots vs. the joints debate until we can determine a winner.  And by the way, while we’re drinking and potting, ya’ll think that the kids are paying attention? “Naw” says Pothead Pa. They live in their own world.  They never notice what I do.
The facts?  Alcohol abuse has wreaked havoc and death for thousands of years and yet, many people can drink moderately, with never an increase.  Pot? Well, we don’t have the same robust data on pot yet.  It can’t be tracked as well since it is illegal.  I guess we’ll just have to keep puffin’ to see what happens or maybe make it legal so new potheads can join the old potheads and offer their ideas. 
I’ve heard from many “harmless drinkers” who reach the age of 40+ and might say something like this: “hey, I think I may have a little problem here; I crashed the car, lost my license and now I’m blackin’ out every time I drink!”  That’s not what I’m really worried about though says Pothead Pa.  I’m just worried sick about my 15 year old boy. There isn’t a party he goes to that he won’t come home drunk.  I try to talk to him but ya know… he just don’t listen any more.  What’s wrong with kids these days…can’t figure why they don’t want to listen to their dad.  Ya know, l been smokin’ pot for a little while, tryn’ to cut down on the booze and except for my coughing, it’s not a bad way to chill out.  I don’t like to smoke it in the house though cause it smells so, and I don’t want to give my boy any bad ideas.  So I only smoke pot drivin’ back and forth to work – don’t want to get caught drivin’ drunk.  Great upbeat way to start the day though don’t ya think – on pot?  I think I’m havin’ some success cuttin’ out the booze though.  Don’t drink but a little now.”
The above is a fictional account based on thousands of stories and my understanding of addicts and drunks over several decades, coming to Integrity House for help.  They often came to my door with no family or friends, left - alone.  No job either but some are lucky enough to get a welfare check every month and they get some free meals and housing thanks to the shelter.  Without treatment, welfare$ = get drunk or high.  It’s up to them to enter treatment.  Many don’t.  I’ve said this before; the disease of addiction is relentless.  Here are some facts from a 2002 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)”:

22 Million Americans are Drug-Alcohol Dependent

Marijuana most commonly used illicit drug

An estimated 22 million Americans abused or were dependent on drugs, alcohol or both, in 2002, according to the latest report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Some 19.5 million Americans -- 8.3 percent of the total population ages 12 and up -- currently use illicit drugs, 54 million take part in binge drinking and 15.9 million are heavy drinkers.
While 7.7 million people needed treatment for their drug problem and 18.6 million needed treatment for a serious alcohol problem, the report shows that only 1.4 million received drug abuse treatment and 1.5 million were treated for their alcohol problem. Over 94 percent of people with substance use disorders who did not receive treatment said they did not believe they needed treatment…”
Is this some kind of intellectual debate, alcohol vs pot?  Have we no other way to spend our time?  I know, how about spending it with our children - clean and sober!  That’s a good start - role model.
I have been in the business of substance abuse treatment since 1965 and have spoken to thousands whose lives have been wasted or ended with alcohol and/or drug addiction.  I’ve heard all the creative stories and reasoning from addicts as to why drinking or heroin won’t hurt you as well as which is worse or better. 
Now we know far more about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and the potential dangers of a possible excessive habit forming “deadbeat” pot use and its drain on creativity and focus.  I think that this debate is misdirected without facts.  In fact, maybe pot can help my neurophathy?  Problem is, if I smoke anything, I get asthma.  Having had both, I think I prefer neurophathy.  Here’s a link for some good things about “medicinal marijuana use” and its positive effects on neurophathy:
Addictions can be debilitating and are difficult to stop as many know by now.  There are so many opportunities to put tested and untested substances in our bodies, why add pot to the list?  Talk to a smoker or overeater.  These habits become part of one’s lifestyle and lifestyles are very difficult to change.  The lifestyle surrounding excessive drug or alcohol use or overeating has to be changed in order for a person to remain clean and sober or to learn to ‘eat healthy.’  We’ve found that the drug or alcohol usually can’t just be removed without a replacement.  What would that be?  For many it has been eating – not so great.  For others it is exercise or walking or marathons or singing or reading or yoga…or time with the kids.  For many more, too far along in their addiction lifestyle, long term residential treatment is the only alternative. 
Two things we have learned about the causality of addiction:
  1. It’s a genetic disease – alcohol, drugs, food
  2. Our behavior and addiction lifestyle will be replicated by our children if it isn’t already in their genes.
Know these facts as you draw on your next joint or pop open your 5th beer in an hour, and say, “I’m, ok….I can handle it….”  Instead of alcohol or pot, how about more time with the kids, a brisk walk, some yoga and a bowl of cheerios?  You’ll be the better for your new alcohol and drug free attitudes and actions and your children will model your safe, healthy and positive lifestyle.

January 20, 2014
Obama Says Marijuana No Worse than Alcohol
by VOA News
U.S. President Barack Obama says he thinks using marijuana is less dangerous than consuming alcoholic drinks, but has told his daughters he does not advocate pot smoking.

In a wide-ranging interview with New Yorker magazine, Obama said that while he smoked marijuana as a youth, he now views it "as a bad habit and a vice." But he said smoking pot was "not very different" than the cigarette habit he engaged in through much of his adult life before quitting.

He said marijuana smoking is not as dangerous as drinking "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer." But he said it is "not something I encourage."

The United States is in the midst of a debate on the use and criminality of marijuana.  National laws still call for criminal penalties for its possession, but some states allow its sale for use as a medical treatment and voters in two western states, Colorado and Washington, have approved its sale for recreational use.

According to a recent NBC News report:
Alcohol abuse kills some 75,000 Americans each year and shortens the lives of these people by an average of 30 years, a U.S. government study suggested Thursday.
Excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States after tobacco use and poor eating and exercise habits.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which published the study, estimated that 34,833 people in 2001 died from cirrhosis of the liver, cancer and other diseases linked to drinking too much beer, wine and spirits.
Another 40,933 died from car crashes and other mishaps caused by excessive alcohol use.
Researchers considered any man who averaged more than two drinks per day or more than four drinks per occasion to be an excessive drinker. For women it was more than one drink per day or more than three drinks per occasion.
“These results emphasize the importance of adopting effective strategies to reduce excessive drinking, including increasing alcohol excise taxes and screening for alcohol misuse in clinical settings,” the study said.
Men accounted for 72 percent of the excessive drinking deaths in 2001, and those 21 and younger made up 6 percent of the death toll.
Light or moderate drinking can benefit a person’s health, but heavy drinking increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disorders, certain cancers and liver disease.
Excessive drinkers are also more likely to die in car accidents. The United States aims to cut the rate of alcohol-related driving fatalities to 4 deaths per 100,000 people by 2010, a 32 percent drop from 1998.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Non-Vets Should Have No Place in Elected, Appointed Offices

Rev. Jim Purcell, MPS, CPSP1

No American citizen who has failed to complete a tour (of three years or greater) in one of the armed forces of the United States of America should be permitted to participate in the American political process, aside from holding voting rights. There must, of course, be exceptions established for those who are disabled, but otherwise there should not be any.

Political and Governmental Office is a serious thing, too long left to unqualified hands, who were and are of the mistaken belief that education, business acumen, family connections or money alone should allow them a place at the table of power in the United States and/or any of the governments organized within the United States. In truth, no one who has failed to serve and defend their nation in its uniform is deserving, nor should be permitted, to stand for any elected office or appointment, and where it includes legal and medical posts -- they too should be exclusively filled with candidates otherwise qualified for such positions, but who have also served their nation in its uniformed services for a minimum of one tour.

Without the element of brotherhood and/or sisterhood with Americans, which is derived from military service, it has been learned in the present and past that office-holders, politicians and politicos hold their first loyalty to political parties, corrupt patrons or oft-demented personal desires. However, where it involves the vast number of veterans of the nation, their first loyalty shall always be to God, their family and this nation.

The non-veteran, regardless of governmental post held, does not understand what patriotism or citizenship in this nation truly includes and does not include.

Patriotism is surrendering one's own will to that of the Republic and the officers appointed over them by their nation. Enlistment in the U.S. military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard) is a leap of faith -- a physical demonstration of the inner loyalty one has to the land of their birth or naturalization. And, these people -- our service members and veterans -- are patriots; only veterans or service members, by definition, can be patriots. Someone who has not so subordinated their will to this nation (a non-veteran) is not, nor shall ever be a patriot of this Republic.

Further, for any veteran, enlisted or officer, to be qualified for elected or appointed office, they must have honorably completed a tour in the U.S. military to become eligible to hold such office in the United States, its territories or possessions. Through completing a period of honorable service in the U.S. military, discipline, faith and dedication is amply demonstrated by veterans, which is requisite for being a successful office holder.

Barring satisfaction of these standards of service no citizens, naturally born or naturalized, should be permitted to run for or place their name in nomination for elected office in the United States, its territories and possessions. In addition, to wrongfully assert one's military status as rendered or  "honorably served" under this system, incarceration in a Federal prison for not less than one year and not more than two years should be established within the Federal Courts System.

This measure needs to be emplaced for the following reasons:

I. Office holders, confused over their proper loyalties, have placed party ahead of the interests of the Republic and its citizenry. And, this is disloyal and treasonous;

II. Governmental gridlock has adversely impacted the nation and states within this nation, requiring more responsible leadership than can be otherwise offered by non-veterans;

III. Political parties, of both persuasions, have each actively sought to unfairly target and/or harass specific, identifiable groups within the American Republic -- and so have betrayed the Constitution of the United States of America: Clearly, the vast majority of office-holders, holding allegiances to these parties, are unfit to hold office; and

IV. Disloyal acts, in official and unofficial capacities, by American politicians, office holders, staff appointees, boosters and contributors have warranted a formal return of the once informal precedent that elected office holders should have successfully served previously in the military. With frequency, American office-holders are routinely committing acts that could be labeled as treasonous if brought to the full-light of public attention, as it should be. Patently, non-veterans are not trustworthy, by definition, despite notable exceptions.

There are devious, unpatriotic and un-American groups operating in and around the institutions of power in this country, who will not like this standard to be established. As a result, such groups and politicians would be seeking to make war against the Constitution of the United States and its intent. Accordingly, a law-enforcement and/or military formula should be made to nullify this threat to the common good.

Make no mistake -- I am proposing an emergency measure following the collapse of our governmental processes since the late 20th century. The very nature of this collapse threatens every American community and the very fabric and stability of the American Republic. This is especially so where it involves the securement of our borders, economic interests, foreign policy, economic prosperity and national security. All of these have been left in the hands of non-patriots from political parties. These groups have attempted to make arguments to avoid the blaring fact that none of them, who has not served in the military, should be holding office right now.

Further, no non-veteran should be permitted to hold office within political parties, due to the proximity of these offices to seats of power.

Why all of this? Well, the armed forces are enormous teams, which exist only to serve this nation and its people. Servicemen and women the world over dedicate their lives to serving our nation responsibly night and day, without fail. They do not make speeches about honor -- they live honor.

There is a fundamental tenant of leadership that one cannot lead without first having followed. Further, in spite of many good office holders in the current and past who have been non-veterans, the non-veteran performing admirably in elected office without using advanced marketing to disguise their unpatriotic flaws, is rare. Non-veterans, far and away are not patriotic and do not even know what that phrase means. As a result, they are unclear about what their duties to the Republic actually are.

To prove my point, many Americans mistakenly believe espousing a certain political set of beliefs (and often bitching about it loudly) amounts to patriotism: it is not.

Former soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are truly citizens of this nation who have proven their fidelity, patriotism and dedication in hostile environments and climates all over the world, at sea, in the air and on battlefields when summoned to them. It is the veterans of this nation who -- now and forever -- need to teach Americans what loyalty to this country is -- by serving in its halls of power at every level, as responsible guardians of our nation's stores, lands, money, resources, shores, skies and waterways.

The 'cure' to America's political issues is not allowing one political 'side' or the other to win, or even to keep on arguing; it is solved by removing these false 'patriots' from their seats and positions of power to allow for more competent, resolved leadership that will protect the Republic rather than damage it any further.

Without this kind of creativity, I cannot believe that our nation has even another century as the greatest power on earth: Does anyone believe that our way of doing government and politics will 'work' without true Americans -- veterans -- at the helm of our nation? I, for one, do not.

In Rome, the Republic was strong when its veterans ran the nation and its commerce. It was when Rome became weak by employing mercenaries and fat from its own greed that their empire fell to pieces, as ours is currently. I believe, this course of action, is the only one that will reverse our collective governmental trajectory.

(The Rev. James J. Purcell is a graduate of the New York Theological Seminary and Capital Healthcare, respectively. He is a former Sergeant who served as an Intelligence and Infantryman in the U.S. Army and its components between 1983-1998. He is also a former long-time member of the Greater Long Branch NAACP and is also a life-member of the 82nd Airborne Division Association.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The New Politics of Racism in Suburban New Jersey, Pt. 2

Section 2

Middletown And The Facts

Middletown Township, New Jersey is the second-largest municipality in Monmouth County, which includes 58.7 square miles. In fact, Middletown is the 16th largest community in New Jersey and is easily larger than many of the state's smaller cities.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the median income in Middletown is $96,190 per year, and the median family income is $110,944 per annum. The municipality was founded Oct. 31, 1693, and was a largely pro-British/Tory haven during the American Revolution (1775-1783). Later, the community was incorporated on Feb. 21, 1798.

Middletown is so large it has several towns or villages within it, which have their own unique identity: Belford, Navesink, Port Monmouth, Oak Hill, Lincroft, River Plaza, Leonardo, Lincroft, Locust, East Keansburg and Fairview. Famous residents include news entertainer Maury Povich and Rock legend Jon Bon Jovi, among others. It is the hometown for Knowshon Moreno, the NFL running back; the infamous former Giant Christian Peter; and ABC Anchorman Brian Williams.

New Jersey is popularly known as the most densely populated state in the union with 8,791,894 residents. Of those residents, racial groups breakdown as 6,029,248 Whites; 1,204,826 Blacks; and 725,726 Asians, among others. These numbers were courtesy of the Federal Government's 2010 Census.

Notoriously Conservative and Republican Monmouth County is home to 630,380 people; 520,716 residents are White; 46,443 are Black; and 31,258 are Asian.

Then to Middletown, considered the "gem in the crown" of the county: Once pristine farmlands, as late as 25 years ago. The sprawling township has since dedicated itself to becoming a bedroom community and housing area for monied New York and North Jersey executives who are seeking a bit of the country for their families.

The township itself is home to 66,527 residents, again based on the 2010 Census, which comprise 23,962 households and 18,235 families. Now, the numbers get incredibly interesting to me, as I am not one who normally shucks off societal demographics to luck or chance. Middletown is comprised of 93.89 percent Whites, with 62,456 people; there are .10 Blacks, with 67 residents; 2.6 percent Native Americans, which number 1,730; .01 Asians, with 8 residents; 855, or 1.29 percent, Pacific Islanders.

Ok, let me get this right: In New Jersey -- the most densely populated state in the union -- there is a community where Blacks coincidentally number one-tenth of one percent of a population, while Pacific Islanders (let's face it, all are welcome but it's not something one normally sees every day) represents the better part of 1.3 percent of the population in that same community. Well, if I were to believe that, I would have to suspend reality a bit -- like I was watching one of those Science Fiction or Horror movies in the theater. But, this is life, so it seems an odd thing to do.

So, Middletown was a Tory hangout at one time, which means it was decidedly not an 'everyman' kind of place. And, ever since its founding, the municipality has been basically White -- without interruption. Now, when there was mostly farmland, that is one thing: Farms are owned by farmers, largely handed down from father to son, that kind of thing. Yet, in the last quarter-century, what is the chance -- or the truth -- behind a town that has still (in the 21st century) not become diverse, if not for purposeful action on the part of at least some long-term leaders in the community, past or present? To say that Middletown's more than 93 percent White demographic was not, in my view, an accident, a coincidence or any of that nonsense. Middletown is not diverse because, yes I am saying it, the government and many quarters of the population want it that way and make positive actions to do so.

This is very acute: It is not even like wealthy minorities live there. Middletown has become a publicly funded "All White" zone and, as far as I am concerned, the very concept of such a place is patently un-American.

There are two public high-schools in town, Middletown High School North and South, respectively. It is so rare to see a place -- anyplace -- in this case the MTHS South and North athletic teams -- take to the floor or field with largely all-White teams, so they are an anomaly. I suppose the 'line' is that this is just how things shook out; I don't believe that at all. I cannot recall teams that were often exclusively White, except when Knowshon was recruited his senior year to play for South (as it was already clear he was headed to Univ. of Ga. and probably the NFL).

I ask this: If there was no rule or requirement that kept Knowshon from joining an otherwise all-White football team, why is there not more diversity on these teams? For that matter, with larger Black populations in the neighboring communities of Keansburg, Aberdeen, Keyport and Highlands -- how come none of those non-White athletes or students ended up attending a Middletown school? Or, was Knowshon welcome because he was a star athlete and only one person?

Yes, I believe that was what it was. I live in this world, complete with a BS detector that is fairly prominent. I could wear it as a hat.

For decades, Middletown has made no secret of the fact that they pay communities throughout the state to take their COAH (Council on Affordable Housing) responsibilities from the state agency. Why? Because residents in Middletown from the mayor to children barely old enough to attend school know that affordable housing means poor people, and poor people means diversity becoming a part of their very Antebellum demographics.

I have always likened Middletown to a gated community, only one that is supported by the State Government. It has its own special rules about who can live there, or who cannot, it seems. It 'so happens' everyone who does live there is largely (almost exclusively) White: Now, there is a blast from the past.

Today, I wanted to discussed some of the numbers before we go further into this subject. I will examine little bits of this community until there is enough for the reader to make a judgment, in my opinion. While this method lacks the thoroughness of the Socratic Process, examining any topic from several different angles does sometimes afford one a clear view of an object.

As always, thank you for stopping by, hope to see you tomorrow and -- seeya later, alligators!

--- Rev. Jim Purcell, MPS, CPSP1

Monday, March 3, 2014

What it takes to turn around a long term addict

By David H. Kerr, February 10, 2014
“That anger at what he said, maybe because it was starting to look true, that’s what kept me going.”
 The following interview with a long term clean and sober employed recovering person, has been taken from my soon to be published book called “The Voices of Integrity.”

 Dave K.: What are your thoughts about the long, tough treatment program you went through?  Did that somehow put a scar on you?

Ernie M.: “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That’s what Nietzsche said. 

Dave K.: Well, the reason I asked is that you’ve been through a tough Therapeutic Community program. You admit that you felt humiliated at times and that you were confronted about your lies and deception. Did that leave a scar or how did that affect you as you look back?

Ernie M.: Nah, it didn’t.  This is how I see it:  What’s more humiliating than being locked up, being a drug addict, having guards tell you when to sh—t, when to shower, when you can go here, when you can go there.  You’re locked up like an animal in a cage and then working for 30 cents a day.  That prison experience is the most humiliating thing.  But you know it’s good to put pressure on people to confront the reality and to help them develop some calluses on the belly because basically drug addicts need to develop some moral fiber and some inner strength, not to buckle over and weep and run away from their problems. I think that is the idea of the long term Therapeutic Community: “You are here to change, and you’re not gonna let anything run you out the door.”

“Anger at what was said and those who confronted me kept me going. I’m not going to let anyone drive me out of this place.” You have to make a decision, you know what I mean, and I was determined to stay. There were a few times I thought of splitting though. I remember one time saying:’ this is bullshit, but I knew if I split, I’m gonna pick up another escape charge and I’m back to prison again. And then it’s like, when you’re doing time and you’re young, in the beginning, it’s no problem. You think you’re tough you know, and you just step it off. But then all of a sudden, you do your nineteenth birthday in jail and your twentieth birthday in prison. Now you’re twenty-two, and you start saying, “I gotta do something.” I remember a parole officer at one time telling me when he met me at the county jail. He said, “You’re the f—ing type of guy that’s gonna do life on the installment plan. And I would say, “F—you, you know what I mean.” I was like I’m not doing life on the installment plan. That anger at what he said, maybe because it was starting to look true, that’s what kept me going.

The person above has been drug free for decades. I’m calling him Ernie.  He has made a new life for himself, attaining top grades in undergraduate and graduate school, earning a Masters Degree and working his way up the ladder in a large corporation to an executive position and a role model to hundreds.  He is now married with a family, a church, and a new positive lifestyle. 
Here’s the question you might ask: What does it take to turn around a long term addict?
1.    A mentor, someone who has suffered and overcome the disease of addiction;
2.    An attitude of openness and humility and a strong spiritual commitment;
3.    A commitment to face the disease every day, with resolve, and gratitude, one day at a time;
4.    A resolve to act to replace the hole that results from removing the addiction and accompanying lifestyle, with a new positive drug free lifestyle.  One with new friends, new places, and new values based on remaining clean and sober.  One that shows gratitude, determination, concern for others and a core of spirituality.