Responding to the latest hot headlines

Charlie Baker is one smart dude. He is a Republican in the tradition of Bill Weld, Paul Cellucci, Mitt Romney and all those other Republicans who win in Blue State Massachusetts. They win because they are reasonable and act in a rational and non-combative manner. I also suspect that part of the reason they win is because their Democratic opponents are not to the liking of the electorate. Take the governor’s newest initiative to deal with the number of drug overdoses in the state. He held a press conference with the Democratic attorney general — see what I mean about smart? — and spoke about the scourge of opiate addiction.

I really don’t see how anyone in their right mind could not recognize how many people in the state are dying from the use of opiates, including the increased use heroin and prescription pain killers. The governor wants to move the conversation about drug addiction; rather than treating it as a criminal issue, he wants us to recognize that this is a public health issue and should be treated as such.

My “go-to” personal heroine on the issue is addiction specialist Dr. Jennifer Michaels of the Brien Center. She believes that one of the biggest problems in the rehabilitation process is our insistence on attaching criminal responsibility to those who are suffering from addiction issues. What we need instead, she says, is to treat those who have become addicted as people in need of medical treatment like any other ill person.

We have gone back and forth between the various modalities in this country. In neighboring New York, then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller tried to medically treat everyone and was so frustrated by the lack of results that he instituted the punitive Rockefeller Drug Laws, with disastrous results. For his part, Baker is to be commended for going the medical route. We all know someone whose parents have paid great amounts of money to fund rehab and treatment for a child or relative who has become addicted. Why shouldn’t everyone be able to get such treatment? Addiction is a terrible disease. No, there really are no easy answers but some solutions do seem more humane than others.

Look, make no mistake about it — the Confederate flag, which has been flying over the South Carolina capitol, is a symbol of racism. While she once defended its presence, after the killing of all those wonderful people in a Charleston church, Gov. Haley came to her senses. She wasn’t alone in modifying her former irrational and cowardly position. Some of the most notorious legislators in the white political establishment finally did the same thing as the South Carolina governor, who came late to the party.

There is a lot more than a flag at play here. There is the whole idea of allowing mentally ill people to have access to guns that is equally vexing. It really isn’t one or the other, flag or guns. We may have made some limited progress on the flag-symbol issue but this country is truly gun addicted. Until we do something about that, these unconscionable and tragic shootings will continue to happen.

So this veterinarian allegedly implants the dope in the dogs and smuggles it into other countries. If true, life imprisonment would be too short a sentence.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 6/29/15

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