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(This is delayed a week after newspaper release as called for in the syndication deal. The current piece appears in your paper but if it doesn't, noodge the editors.)

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Listen. What do you hear? It’s the sound of real life. The commercials on TV are once again selling the pharmaceutical companies’ poisons, not the toxic waste that penetrated our brains during the campaign season. The election is over; it’s time to move on.
Except, we didn’t really move at all. We have the same president, the same Congress and the same hostile, rigid ideologies that seized our leaders before November. We will continue to careen from crisis to crisis. The upcoming one, as we all have heard, is the financial “cliff.” Unless Democrats and Republicans, the White House and Congress -- particularly the House, which is festering with extremist conservatives -- can agree, a malignant combination of tax increases and massive budget cuts likely will dump the economy back into recession.
Already the White House is saying that the president will veto any bill without a tax increase on the rich. And already, House Speaker John Boehner is insisting that there is “no way” Congress will pass one. He has to answer to his hard-right caucus, where the thought of any hike whatsoever is heresy. So disregard any statements from either side promising cooperation. They continue to be fiction, and will be remain so unless someone finds a creative way to make them reality.
You have come to the right place. Where else would you be reminded that the answer may lie in the election? Not the national one, but in the states like Colorado and Washington, that voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use. You might know where I am going with this. The solution to the D.C. gridlock is obvious: Move the bargaining to Colorado, Washington or one of the 17 states that allows marijuana’s use for medical purposes. We are, after all, talking about curing a national illness.
You provide a supply of the negotiators’ favorite weed and a lot of munchies, then let the two newly mellow negotiators go at it. It would give the term “tea party” an entirely new meaning. The whole thing shouldn’t take long. The signal of success would be a puff of white smoke; although, since there would be puffs of smoke throughout, we’d probably have to work on that. Whatever it was, everyone would come out to announce an agreement. Of course, they’d be giggling, but that’s a small price to pay.


This could work in so many ways. The GOP definitely should consider holding joint sessions to figure out ways to expand the base so it becomes more than the party of mean old white guys it is now. Instead of throwing money at Karl Rove to squander on negative political ads that failed miserably, the rich mean old white guys could open up the doors of their vacation homes in Aspen and, uh, hash things out.
The toughest problem will be getting everyone to leave and take the bad trip back to normal business in Washington, until they’re reminded D.C. is one of those jurisdictions that allows limited use of marijuana. So often, after we hear a politician speak, we ask, “What is he smoking?” Now we’d know.
There probably are some people out there who have decided this is silliness. The more humorless ones are seriously mulling this over and pondering the wisdom of having the nation’s business conducted by people who are in such an addled state. To you I say, How is this different? The simple fact is that if someone, somehow, does not resolve this “cliff” issue, we will hurtle over the side come the first of the year, and many think it will be a disaster. So we have a choice: Cannabis or catastrophe?
Besides, won’t it be great when there are TV ads for some new drugs?

© 2012 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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