October 21st at the Saxon Pub

That's the date and place that I finally got to see Tom Cochrane in person. I've been a fan of his for more years than I can remember, and this one set at the Saxon Pub in Austin has made all the years melt away. ready to go dig out the albums again and give them all a listen.

The bar was full, probably 30 people. Tiny little place. Nice music venue, as small clubs go. When I asked if Tom was in the house, the doorman waved me over toward the stage, where Tom was in a conversation with another fan. Tom was warm and friendly, wanted to know what I would like to hear. I know, Life is a Highway is the song you get if you ask for Tom Cochrane at a radio station (it's his Stairway to Heaven equivalent) but, Life is a Highway has a special place in my heart because my children demanded I play it over and over again in the car, when it was a new song. I asked for something off of Neruda too, because Neruda remains my favorite album of his. He left the table after that, and we sat down to enjoy some front row seats for the set. I started reflecting on "what I wanted to hear" at that point. Then it hit me, and I had to wander over to his manager's table where he was waiting to take the stage, and ask if he could play Beautiful Day, the last new song of his that really spoke to me. He actually laughed and said something to the effect “that was four years ago, my memory doesn’t go back that far” although he said he liked Stonecutter’s Arms from the same album X-ray Sierra (another one of my favorites) I discovered he has some new material out, an album called No Stranger (same name as a local band that I used to follow, oddly enough, No Strangers) I look forward to giving it a listen soon.

When they took the stage...
[Tom, obviously as lead singer/guitar, Ken Greer on steel guitar, Shawn Pander played rhythm guitar and sang back up vocals on the last three songs. Didn’t catch the drummer’s name. The Wife played percussion for years, so she probably knows. They talked for a good 10 minutes about the wooden drum that he was playing. (This looks like him, but surely not..?) Two horn players too. All part of Shawn’s band, from what I understood]
...they played Lunatic Fringe, White Hot, Northern Star, White Horse and finished up with Life is a Highway.

Shawn started his set with a unique take on Lonely People, and a quip about Tom being harder to follow than a Beatlemania band. I was there to see Tom, but Shawn’s music warrants a listen to. Hard to say what I thought of his act, since I was so psyched about getting to see Tom for the first time.

We talked for awhile between Shawn’s set and the next band’s start time. Complimented Ken on his guitar work. I never realized just what an impact his presence in the band was, until he sat in for one of Shawn’s songs. Completely changed the feel of the music. The man can make a guitar speak, in ways that very few people can come close to mastering. A true artist.

Then it was over. All too soon. Got a hug from Tom. The Wife did too. I hope to see them all again sometime, including Shawn. It was an interesting evening. One for the long term memory files, if only I can find the key to those...

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in favor of federalizing Texas law enforcement

Downsize DC sent out an alert yesterday in response to the announcement by the Attorney General that he intends to enforce federal drug laws in California even if the people there vote to legalize Marijuana.

War on Drugs: How the Attorney General Will Waste Your Money and Trash the Constitution

Being the slacktivist that I am these days, I copied the content of the letter in the alert, and posted it as my own, changing the text to reflect my state instead of James Wilson's. It went like this;

If California's Prop 19 passes, it will mean the voters believe the War on Pot is unjust, ineffective, unworkable, and too expensive.

If Texas passed something like Prop 19, how would you react? Would you follow the will of the people? Or would you want the DEA to randomly terrorize law-abiding Texans?

Attorney General Holder wants to do the latter. If Prop 19 passes, Holder promises to "vigorously enforce" federal marijuana laws in California.

This would be a complete waste of my tax dollars! There won't be enough DEA agents to effectively enforce the federal laws.

More importantly, most federal marijuana laws - as with most federal drug laws in general - violate the Tenth Amendment. This means that the fraction of pot growers and users who do get arrested in CA will be law-abiding citizens singled out arbitrarily or maliciously by the DEA.

Please speak out against Holder's plan. Please do so before the election, so I know where you stand.

Cornyn's mail server, being the mail server for the savvy politician that he is, just auto-responded that he got the letter. I'm sure he won't have much to say before the election. Senator Hutchison though...

...Her office sent out a letter of a completely different nature. Her reply follows.
Dear Friend:

Thank you for contacting me regarding efforts to legalize marijuana. I welcome your thoughts and comments.

As drug use continues to rise in our country, especially among our youths, I believe we need to send a message that all illegal drug use is dangerous. We can win the war on drugs, but we will not do so by legalizing marijuana or encouraging its use for any purpose.

Researchers have found that marijuana use can adversely affect brain activity and the respiratory system, lead to increases in heart rate and blood pressure, and impair critical skills related to attention, memory, and learning. In addition, the harmful chemical in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has been linked to low birth weight and impaired motor development in children whose mother used marijuana.

I appreciate hearing from you, and I hope that you will not hesitate to contact me on any issue that is important to you.

Sincerely,
Kay Bailey Hutchison
United States Senator

284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
202-224-5922 (tel)
202-224-0776 (fax)
http://hutchison.senate.gov
Dear friend. Such a personal response too. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Yes it's a form letter, but it's a form letter that her office felt addressed my concerns. Let's parse this so that we understand what this response means.

First off, she says "we can win the drug war" a claim that is patently absurd based on the multi-decades long attempt to outlaw drug use, as can be demonstrated by the briefest perusal of the content over at CATO.org. To truly understand the magnitude of the folly we are engaged in, one need look no farther than the history that documents alcohol prohibition, and what a success that endeavor was. Which is why alcohol remain illegal to this day, right?

Then she goes on to list out the harmful effects of marijuana use, the claims of which are highly exaggerated, to say the least. Even so, the harmful effects of alcohol consumption are far greater, not to mention tobacco use. Good thing neither of those can be consumed legally, either.

All of this is beside the point that motivated me to write. While the drug warriors won't admit it, the writing is on the wall; the War on Drugs is a failure. It's all over but the crying. I'd like to limit the harm inflicted on the population at large by grandstanding politicians, greedy state and city police forces that see dollar signs every time they confiscate another families entire list of assets if they can only be shown to be dealing drugs, and the ignorant population that doesn't read up on subjects that they think they have valid opinions on. (that's right. If you disagree with me, your opinion is invalid. Have a Nice Day!) What motivated me to write was the news that the Federal government (those guys in Washington that our state leaders here in Texas are always whining about) is going to go out of it's way to victimize Californians that dare to engage in legal activities within the State of California.

...And Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in favor of federalizing Texas law enforcement as well, apparently. If we dare to pass laws that the feds don't like, that is. Time for a new Senator or two. Perhaps an entirely new Senate is in order. I hear-tell that there's a movement afoot to repeal the 17th amendment. Perhaps it's time to reverse that one, just like the one that was reversed and should have stopped all drug enforcement operations in the US. If only they had gone that far then.