Opioids: My Story

 
In 2001, I asked my doctor for help to manage my chronic pain because of a car accident when I was almost 19. She is a wonderfully insightful woman, very professional, and a dedicated practitioner of medicine. For the first time in my life, I started using opioids. The drug I started with contained 500mg of hydrocodone and 200mg of ibuprofen three times a day. Over 15 years, my daily dose slowly increased until I took four to six tablets daily—each containing 1000mg of hydrocodone bitartrate and 200mg of ibuprofen—more than double from where I started 15 years prior.

 

What is Wrong With our Government

We are witness to a significant, palpable trend in how we govern ourselves. The Federal level is now inept and incapable of breaking the bonds of self-imposed tyrannies. Washington is ripe and rife with tyranny. We witness the tyranny of lobbyists, though most of it is hidden from our view, inserted in our laws, and imposed upon inept lawmakers seeking only their immoral self-interests. All of this has one thing in common, greed. Then there is the tyranny of self-defeating partisanship; it is well-experienced practitioners blinded from unconsciously selected biases and ideas imposed, not their own. Last, and worst of all, is the tyranny of corruption, so ingrained it has become normalized even though it is often illegal. Tyranny, like water, seeks its level. Tyranny is incorruptible because it is the soul of corruption. We are in need of independent thinkers.

The epicenter of corruption is now Washington, DC. It is for this reason that its power to govern has become impotent, chaotic, and illogical. It is a fencing match with no winner, but we, the people, continue to lose the most.

The Federal government's power is streaming away from this epicenter, leak after leak toward local governing bodies. It streaks naked past the state level unabashed and unafraid, to where it belongs, in the hands of the people in our counties, cities, townships, villages, and neighborhoods. I am one of those independent thinkers, and so are you, if you choose to be. Please, for the sake of our children and theirs, find your voice. It is deep inside you. You probably argue with it every day. You can feel it beating in your chest. Speak from your heart. Do not surrender it to the status quo.  Do something now.

 

A Time of Rising Expectations

The phrase "a revolution of rising expectations" became popular after World War II. It refers to a situation in which a rise in prosperity and freedom leads people to believe they can improve life for themselves and their families. It leads them to seek political changes that will allow them to pursue opportunities. We now live in such a time. A time when we shed the shackles of the past, like the minimum wage, and replace it with a living wage. A time in which we get smart about recreational drug use and monetize it appropriately. These two intelligent actions will reduce poverty and much of the crime, hopelessness, addiction that comes with it.


When people have meaningful work and are paid a living wage It is good for the working person's economy, mental and physical health, and promotes the common good for society. It is a positive step on the path to fair sharing of the wealth of this once great nation.


If you are one of the millions of Americans who work paycheck to paycheck, often fall behind due to unexpected expenses like a car repair, necessary home repair, or unanticipated prescription drug costs, you need to support legislation to replace the minimum wage with a living wage. It is good for the working person's economy, mental and physical health, and promotes common good for society. It is a positive step on the path to fair sharing of the wealth of this once great nation.

How to Calculate Your Living Wage

 

The DEA: Enforcer not Lawmaker

The DEA is an enforcer, not a lawmaker. The bulk of the blame for the War on Drugs must go back to a horrible and corrupt decision by then-President Richard Nixon in 1970. He is responsible for the Controlled Substances Act. Repealing the CSA and replacing it with modern legislation is the ideal thing to do now.

Nixon put himself first while in a job where he took an oath to serve all Americans. Never forget, Nixon temporarily placed marijuana in Schedule I, the most restrictive category of drugs. In doing so, Nixon ignored the review by a commission he appointed led by Republican Pennsylvania Governor Raymond Shafer. On  March 22, 1972, that commission presented a report to Congress entitled "Marihuana, a Signal of Misunderstanding," which favored ending marijuana prohibition and adopting other methods to discourage use. The report was republished as a Signet Books New American Library paperback in 1972. 

History is not the most reliable teller of truth; it is often very biased, so biased that it is untrue. People try to rewrite history every day. One must always consider the source when attempting to evaluate whether a claim is valid. For all the positive things Nixon did, like visiting and opening up a dialogue with China and retiring the gold standard, ignoring the findings of the commission he created, his paranoia-driven decision will forever retain a black mark of death. Many politicians from both sides followed in a lemming-like fashion to continue the futile war. Such is the self-destructive drift of humanity.

In 1994 Joe Biden considered the legislation he sponsored to continue and escalate the War on Drugs his signature legislation. He turned a blind eye to countless people harmed by ill-conceived and untested legislation. In 2020 he recanted by admitting, “[The crime bill] worked in some areas. But it failed in others. ... The violent crime rate was cut in half in America.” Was it? “The violent crime rate has been nearly cut in half — down 46% — from 1994 to 2017, but Biden’s suggestion that the 1994 legislation should be credited is misleading. Factcheck.org looked into a similar claim from Bill Clinton in 2016 and found experts pointed to other factors for most of that crime decrease."1 Multiple variables influence the crime rate. It is disingenuous to suggest a single factor.

Others continue to rationalize the expansion of the War on Drugs, wasting our tax dollars. The War on Drugs is a living travesty that continues to infringe on the rights and freedom of millions of decent Americans. Joe Biden has had his eyes opened; we all have, at least those who are willing to take an objective look at the state of the nation.

In 1972 Watergate got all the press. For months it was all the rage in Washington DC. Nixon, not a crook? Draw your conclusions.  For me, Richard Milhouse Nixon, a politician who I once admired, goes down in history as one of the worst criminals of all time. Nixon did his dirty work covertly, and my bet is he continued to discount the harm his policies caused millions of Americans until the day he died. It is the unconscious behavior of all megalomaniacs.

With Nixon out of office, the menace he created continued to ramp up 50 years. The same mentality that extended the Vietnam War was infectiously active in the War on Drugs. Why throw more lives and money at an unwinnable war? Would stopping the War on Drugs harm the economy? No! Just the opposite. Look no further than the impact of the decriminalization of marijuana here and in other countries around the world.

1  Lori Robertson, Biden on the 1994 Crime Bill, July 12, 2019, FactCheck.org, https://www.factcheck.org/2019/07/biden-on-the-1994-crime-bill/

The Evil Harry Anslinger

More Insight Into the Corrupt Racism that Led to Decades of Drug Prohibition

I hereby give the National Library of Medicine appropriate acknowledgment. From the NIH website, "Information that is created by or for the US government on this site is within the public domain."

The following excerpt provides a wealth of references. Let me be clear. I did not write this article. I reproduce it here because it is in the public domain and likely very obscure but to me, it is an important “must-read.” 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/home/about/policies/#copyright

Note: The Film, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, available on Hulu, is a fair and accurate representation and illustration of how blatant racism was in our government. It also includes some great acting and music.

Citation

Solomon R (2020) Racism and its effect on cannabis research, Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research 5:1, 2–5, DOI: 10.1089/can.2019.0063.

 

In 1930, Harry Anslinger, became the first director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.12 Ansliger was appointed to the position by Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, his wife's uncle.13 Ansliger, an avid supporter of prohibition, had minimized the dangers of cannabis before his appointment. Once appointed, he began a campaign based on race and violence. Anslinger did not hide his prejudice, with comments like, “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, results from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and others.”14 Anslinger helped popularize the use of “marijuana” instead of the more common “cannabis,” to tie the drug to anti-Mexican prejudice.15,16 Anslinger's themes were replicated in the movie Reefer Madness17: cannabis turns men to violence and women to sexual promiscuity.††

Later, the Nixon administration was more subtle, but no less cynical, in enacting the CSA. Many people think of modern cannabis policy as starting with the CSA, but the Act was in basic principle a continuation of the MTA of 1937,4 which had the intent of prohibiting cannabis on a federal level. When the MTA was held to be unconstitutional in 1969,18 the Nixon administration formed a commission under the chairmanship of Raymond Shafer, a former Republican Governor of Pennsylvania.19 Nixon saw the commission as a means to establish the dangers of cannabis. To Nixon, the Shafer Commission was the opposite of legitimate scientific inquiry. It was a hit job and, as we learned later through the Nixon tapes,20,21 the hit was directed at African Americans and the antiwar movement, two groups Nixon despised.

John Erlichman, a senior advisor to Nixon, was later quoted as saying “We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”21 Ray Shafer did not get with the program. The commission concluded that cannabis was not as dangerous as perceived, and recommended decriminalization.19,22 The Administration and Congress ignored the recommendation and moved forward with the CSA.

The subsequent War on Drugs may have put hippies and the antiwar movement in a bad light, but, as shown by Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow,23 it was African American young men who paid the price by way of massive arrests. The conservative Cato Foundation and liberal Center for American Progress both agree that Nixon's War on Drugs, which was enforced by subsequent administrations, was an expensive failure, resulting in a period of 50 years of a federal policy based on a false premise and a conscious avoidance of evidence-based research.24,25

The consequences of federal policy include the Schedule I listing,26–28 a requirement to use limited and inadequate federally approved cannabis from the University of Mississippi for research,‡‡,§§,*** a federal bureaucracy tied to antiquated policies, and limited funding. As states liberalize cannabis use, state actors continue to act in fear of federal reprisals. State universities, including some of the greatest research facilities in the world, want to foster research, but are justifiably risk averse to any activity that may place federal funding in jeopardy.†††

We are not very good at admitting past mistakes, especially on issues of race, and that has consequences. When federal drug policy is to “Just Say No,”‡‡‡,§§§ there is little room for discussion. When the Attorney General of the United States comments that good people do not smoke cannabis,31,32 which he views as a gateway to the opium crisis and heroin use,****,†††† he quashes a rational discussion and signals that any research will be based on curtailing cannabis, not exploring its medical and social potential. Nancy Reagan and William Sessions are gone, but the policy lives on.

Cannabis laws are evolving quickly and rescheduling may occur in the near future. Until then, research will be inhibited, with a virtual lock on some of the most promising research. To move forward, we need to understand our history, and the false premise on which we have based this misguided policy. We need to treat the cannabis policy started in 1937 the same way we treat segregated schools,‡‡‡‡,33,34 miscegenation,§§§§ and other race-based policy. Our inquiry needs to start with an acknowledgment of the history of racial discrimination in our drug policy and move toward serious evidence-based research. If we fail to do so, we will remain the willing victims of our own racist history.

Go to:

Abbreviations Used

CSA

Controlled Substance Act

DEA

Drug Enforcement Administration

MTA

Marihuana Tax Act

UCOP

University of California Office of the President

 

No competing financial interests exist.

*Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus is a gothic novel written by Mary Shelley (1818) in which Victor Frankenstein creates a creature from dead body parts.

Stranger Things (2016) is a popular television series written by the Duffer Brothers and released by Netflix, in which government experiments open a portal to an alternative dimension, which allows human-eating monsters into a small town. Three seasons have been released, and each deals with a new threat and attempts to close the portal.

See Reichard6 in support of the claim that the anti-cannabis campaign was based on economic interests.

  • For a contrary view, see Wishnia.7 Both versions emphasize the racist nature of the anti-cannabis campaign. The only dispute between the two versions is on the question of motive.

**As described in The Nation, “By the twenties and early thirties Hearst had expanded his media empire to include twenty-six daily newspapers in eighteen cities. All told, almost one in four US families read a Hearst paper every day. Still searching to expand his political sway, he moved into magazines—including Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Town & Country and Harper's Bazaar—then to radio stations, then newsreels.”

††Reefer Madness Grand National Studios, Los Angeles, CA, also attributed to MCM/Fathom, originally titled Teach your Children, is a 1936 anti-cannabis film, in which innocent teenagers become addicted to “reefers” distributed by unscrupulous drug dealers. Their use of cannabis leads to listening to attending jazz parties, resulting in violence and promiscuity.

‡‡The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulates the cultivation of cannabis for research purposes under the CSA through licensing requirements. Since the inception of the CSA, DEA has only issued a single license for the cultivation of cannabis for research, to the University of Mississippi, which is funded through a NIDA contract.

  • §There have been many complaints about the quality of the University of Mississippi cannabis.27

***There have been many complaints about the quality of the University of Mississippi cannabis.28

†††As one example, the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) has held information sessions and regular conference calls to seek input and establish policies. Decisions on accepting funding from the cannabis industry, as well as other research determinations, are being made at the local level, with UCOP input. As a participant in several of these discussions, the author is aware of the tensions around any decision that might be grounds for a claim of a violation of federal law.

‡‡‡On September 14, 1986, in a nationally televised address, Nancy Reagan announced the “Just Say No” campaign, which emphasized abstinence and little else. The announcement can be seen on YouTube.29

  • §§The policy has been considered by most analysts as a failure. As one of many examples, see Grayholm.30

****William Sessions' views on cannabis and drug use were widely reported when he was nominated by Donald Trump the be the Attorney General of the United States.31

††††At a Senate Hearing in April 2016, he endorsed the Just Say No campaign and spoke on the dangers of cannabis.32

‡‡‡‡See, Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), holding that racial segregation in education violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

  • §§§See, Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), holding that state laws banning interracial marriage violated the equal Protection and due Process Clauses of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

References

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  4. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Pub. L. 75-238, 50 Stat. 551, enacted August 2, 1937
  5. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The Controlled Substances Act. 21 U.S.C. Section 801 et. seq. 1970. Available at: https://www.dea.gov/controlled-substances-act (last accessed October 29, 2019).
  6. Reichard Z. Exposed: the full story behind why marijuana is illegal & classified as a schedule 1 drug. Medical Jane. 2015. Available at: https://www.medicaljane.com/2013/01/23/exposed-the-full-story-behind-why-marijuana-is-illegal-and-classified-as-a-schedule-1-drug/ (last accessed October 29, 2019).
  7. Wishnia S. Debunking the hemp conspiracy theory. Cannabis News. 2008. Available at: http://cannabisnews.com/news/23/thread23703.shtml (last accessed October 29, 2019).
  8. Frank D. The devil and Mr. Hearst. The Nation.. 2000. Available at: https://www.thenation.com/article/devil-and-mr-hearst/ (last accessed October 29, 2019).
  9. Business Mirror. The twisted marijuana history and why it's illegal. Business Mirror. 2016. Available at: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2016/06/02/the-twisted-marijuana-history-and-why-its-illegal/ (last accessed October 29, 2019).
  10. Rabinski G. Meet the man responsible for marijuana prohibition. Mass Roots. 2015. Available at: https://www.massroots.com/learn/the-man-responsible-for-marijuana-prohibition/ (last accessed October 29, 2019).
  11. Daily Kos. Marijuana, Mormon Racists, Mexican Bandidos, and Crazy Queen Carlotta.. 2007. Available at: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2007/11/29/415310/- (last accessed October 29, 2019).
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  13. Fusion CBD. The Strange Case of Mr. Anslinger and Cannabis. Available at: https://www.fusioncbd.com/the-strange-case-of-mr-anslinger-and-cannabis/ (last accessed October 29, 2019)
  14. Smith L. How a racist hate-monger masterminded America's War on Drugs Timeline. 2018. Available at: https://timeline.com/harry-anslinger-racist-war-on-drugs-prison-industrial-complex-fb5cbc281189 (last accessed October 29, 2019).
  15. Miller J. Here's why you shouldn't use the word marijuana anymore. 2017. Available at: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/word-marijuana-has-racist-past-say-those-who-want-it-banished-from-the-lexicon (last accessed October 29, 2019).
  16. Serrano A. Weed all about it: the origins of the word ‘marijuana’. 2013. Available at: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/12/14/weed-all-about-ittheoriginsofthewordamarijuanaaintheus.html (last accessed October 29, 2019).
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  20. American Enterprise Institute. The shocking story behind Richard Nixon's ‘war on drugs’ that targeted blacks and anti-war activists. 2018. Available at: https://www.aei.org/carpe-diem/the-shocking-and-sickening-story-behind-nixons-war-on-drugs-that-targeted-blacks-and-anti-war-activists/ (last accessed October 29, 2019).
  21. Lopez G. Nixon official: real reason for the drug war was to criminalize black people and hippies. 2016. Available at: https://www.vox.com/2016/3/22/11278760/war-on-drugs-racism-nixon (last accessed October 29, 2019).
  22. Sterling E. Shafer Commission Report on Marijuana and Drugs, Issued Forty Years ago Today, Was Ahead of its Time Huffpost. 2013. Available at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/shafer-commission-report-_b_2925777?guccounter=1 (last accessed October 29, 2019).
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  25. Pearl B. Ending the war on drugs: by the numbers. Center for American Progress. 2018. Available at: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/criminal-justice/reports/2018/06/27/452819/ending-war-drugs-numbers/ (last accessed October 29, 2019).
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  30. Grayholm J. How effective was the Just say No campaign against drug abuse?. 2018. Available at: https://www.quora.com/How-effective-was-the-Just-say-No-campaign-against-drug-abuse (last accessed October 29, 2019).
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  34. U.S. Supreme Court. Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967). 1967

Articles from Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research are provided here courtesy of Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine

 

 

A Gift That Doesn't Fit: The Dumbing-Down Of Brilliance

 

my mind explodes with ideas

my brain can't keep up

I think it does not want to.

well, at least the bad half.

 

So.

the bicameral brain wages war upon itself

a battle ensues

 

thank you mind

for staying undivided

when I dream, I am excitedly at peace

my visions inspire 

not just me but others

if I dare come out of hiding

and let them know

what I think

else who cares?

 

the brain attacks the ideas

It shouts stop

like the teacher who stifles a child's creativity

"we don't do things that way."

"we've always done it this way."

"no need to change"

"change is bad."

"just go stand in the corner 

or kneel on these hard kernels of corn 

until you learn to be quiet."

 

No, thank you.

change I must

It just happens

slowly

stealthily seeking to be invisible

don't wanna get caught scheming about change.

 

Change am I

life is change 

without change, we die 

doomed by repeating the past 

but worse 

by choice 

by bad leadership

and apathy.

 

How do you grow without change? 

without consciously changing?

what is learning without change?

am I here to memorize the past?

what about the future

can't memorize that

the admonished child screams silently, in tears.

 

Change on a paradigm?

there's an idea.

there is strong evidence

debating for decades of delay, decay, difficulty-by-design, deliberate obfuscation, and human tragedy.

change by force fails

failing to change = death

We must continually seek new ideas 

not stifle them

 

encourage the disruptive child 

develop their creativity

delicately

they are, by nature, fragile

provide them a space in which to dream 

to explore and then apply and experiment and implement and validate

they are a future 

not left to chance

they are a way to

stop being "borne ceaselessly into the past."

Depressives Alert #1: Exercise

Depressives Alert #1: Exercise

 

 

When one is depressed, ideas to alleviate their depression will often pop into their head. But even thinking about what to do can deepen depression because it enhances and illustrates what the depressive is not doing but could/should do—quite the conundrum.  

 

I think it is a natural function of our brains to go to work solving problems whether we ask it to or not. The good angel bad angel concept comes to mind. You have probably seen this concept illustrated by a tiny angel sitting on one shoulder while a devil sits on the other.

When I conjure this image, I can’t help but think, does the shoulder on which the devil stands have anything to do with being right-brained or left-brained?

 

Individually we can come up with ideas to alleviate our depression, but because of our depressed state, we have a tough time acting on those ideas. For example, a depressed person should know that exercise is the cheapest and easiest thing to beat the blues or a much more severe chronic state of depression, yet we feel (and act) as if we are super glued into the recliner. So we grab the remote (try hiding it) and escape into the artificial reality of TV programming (ever wonder why it is called programming)? 

 

If you are a victim of depression (who isn’t?), you should know that exercise is probably the number one thing that you can do, something that doesn’t cost a thing but a little bit of time will alleviate depression almost immediately. The relief may be temporary; nevertheless, after you do something as simple as washing dishes, running the vacuum, or walking to the mailbox, you begin to feel better, even if it is ever so slightly. There is a danger that comes with this strategy__addiction. If your something to do is surrender to an addiction (I once started to list all of my addictions, when the list topped ten, I stopped because listing them was causing me to become depressed). 

 

I recall participating in a public speakers workshop when the speaker posited the question, “What do you do when you have the Blues?” I raised my hand and responded with, “I wash the dishes.” It got a laugh (20 people instantly became less depressed) and led to an arousing dialogue about what one can do to beat the Blues.  While I'm on the subject of the Blues: we often talk about the Blues as a mild form of depression which it is, but we can't confuse the Blues with serious, bordering on life-threatening depression. 

 

Almost non-stop suicidal ideations epitomized my personal experience with life-threatening depression. The one thing I would do (I think many depressives will identify with this) to alleviate the endless flow of endless ways to kill myself was watching TV.  I quickly learned that I had to be careful about what I watched because certain TV shows would make the depression worse. Even uplifting shows could make my depression deepen. I would identify with characters doing some incredible things for themselves and others. The problem? Because I knew they were depicting behaviors that I could do myself and for others, things I usually would do, yet I was not doing them. It is a wicked, sticky problem. 

 

 

Internal Conflicts

On More

 

loneliness has been my partner

four marriages matter little

several lovers lost count

led me here

unfortunate

deep sacred introspection

 

an intro into inspection

who, what makes up rules?

too many of them

easy to ignore

an invitation to spend a life ripping myself apart

day after day

moments mounting

until the depression is so gripping

worthlessness so real

i sense i reek like rotting flesh

 

my sins no longer forgiven

were they ever?

god is dead to me

an evil stalker haunts me

lures me

to a dreadful end

confession no longer viable

a ruse a perversion

capriciously taken away by rule makers

public confession

an invitation to lie

or die

or

write and write more

what no one will read

the child who would not stop asking why

is still at it     

he refuses to die.

t. villella

2018

Quotes on the subject of "The War On Drugs"

  • “The pejorative term ‘abuse’ used in connection with diseases of addiction has the adverse effect of increasing social stigma and personal shame, both of which are so often barriers to an individual’s decision to seek treatment.”
    ― Joe Biden 1942 ― present
  • “The amount of money and of legal energy being given to prosecute hundreds of thousands of Americans who are caught with a few ounces of marijuana in their jeans simply makes no sense - the kindest way to put it. A sterner way to put it is that it is an outrage, an imposition on basic civil liberties and on the reasonable expenditure of social energy.”
    ― William F. Buckley Jr. 1925 ― 2008
  • “Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal use…”
    ― Jimmy Carter 1924 ― present
  • "The war on drugs has made government more powerful, citizens less free, and hasn't helped users or addicts."
    ― Victor Mitchell 1965 ― present
  • "We cannot continue doing the same thing and expect different results."
    ― Otto Perez Molina 1950 ― present
  • “The war on drugs is wrong, both tactically and morally. It assumes that people are too stupid, too reckless, and too irresponsible to decide whether and under what conditions to consume drugs. The war on drugs is bankrupt.”
    ― Larry Elder 1952 ― present