The Monthly Editorial Blog By Schlafly Beer Co-Founder Tom Schlafly
Alert readers (ARs) who follow baseball probably know that Game 2 of the 2015 World Series will be played on Wednesday, October 28 in the American League city. This is the fourth anniversary of the Cardinals’ victory in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series. I was fortunate enough to be at the game, celebrating my 63rd birthday while sipping a Schlafly Pale Ale and watching the Redbirds win their 11th world championship in ‘11.
ARs who are more interested in politics than in baseball may prefer to watch the GOP presidential debate, which will take place at the same time on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder. The debate will include more candidates than the number of players in the lineup at any one time for either team in the World Series. There’s also a good chance the debate will drag on longer than the World Series game.
Apropos presidents, back in August I had a chance to visit Quincy, Massachusetts, which bills itself as the “City of Presidents.” In addition to the homes of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, I visited United First Parish Church and learned that the last time an incumbent U.S. president made a public appearance in Quincy was on October 28, 1948, when Harry Truman spoke from the steps of the church. At the very moment Truman was declaiming in Quincy, my mother was starting to go into labor in St. Louis. By the time I was born, at 9:38 a.m., Truman was on a train somewhere between Fall River and Providence.
While electoral politics is at the heart of our American democracy, there are some who are able to assume the mantle of leadership without the messy necessity of being elected. One such leader was Baroness Barleywine, aka Barley, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever who was in charge from the moment she became part of our household early in 2001. She was born on October 18, 2000, while Bill Clinton was in the White House. For over 14 years she reigned supreme over Ulrike and me, letting us know in no uncertain terms when it was time for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and occasionally sending food back to the kitchen when it didn’t meet her standards. She enriched our lives in ways too numerous to recount in this space. In her final months she received deluxe, canine hospice care before dying peacefully on September 12th. An AR named Tom Stillman, with whom Barley’s late sister Tess had lived for many years, consoled us with the thought of the two of them in up heaven, energetically retrieving sticks for St. Peter. I liked the image, but could also imagine St. Peter getting tired of throwing sticks and telling the two pooches to hang out with St. Francis of Assisi, who had a lot more patience with animals.
As I’ve written in this space in the past, I share a birthday with several celebrities, notably Bill Gates (between us we have a combined net worth of around $80 billion) and Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner (between us we have….oh, never mind). It’s also the birthday of a couple of iconic national monuments. The Statue of Liberty was officially dedicated on October 28, 1886; and the Gateway Arch was completed on October 28, 1965. Recalling my own experience of turning 50, I’m wondering if the Arch has been receiving unsolicited membership cards from AARP, as I did in the months leading up to my birthday and for years thereafter.
On the downside, one of the worst laws in the history of the United States was passed on October 28, 1919, the Volstead Act, which inflicted the pain of Prohibition on the American public. Actually, the legislation had been passed earlier by both houses of Congress, but had been vetoed by President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson’s veto was overridden by the House of Representatives on October 27th and by the Senate the next day.
It was around this time that legislation against marijuana began to gain momentum. In the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, Mexican immigrants began pouring into the United States, bringing with them an appreciation for cannabis. Anglos, appalled by this influx of Mexicans and their use of recreational weed, reacted by passing laws against this particular form of “poison,” as cannabis was described in the legal nomenclature of the time. In 1935 President Franklin Roosevelt, having previously led the effort to repeal Prohibition, pushed for states to adopt the Uniform State Narcotic Act to regulate cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. One year later the movie Reefer Madness was released, portraying the many horrors of marijuana addiction. The following year the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was adopted, effectively criminalizing the possession or use of marijuana nationwide.
Seventy-five years later, Colorado enacted Amendment 64, which legalized the possession and use of marijuana in the state, notwithstanding federal laws to the contrary. According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, for the fiscal year ending June 30 the state had collected nearly $70 million in marijuana taxes, 67 percent more than the $42 million it had collected in alcohol taxes for the same period. I think it’s safe to say there will be a lot of extra mellow taxpayers in and around Boulder when the GOP candidates are in town for their debate.