04/29/20 James Gray

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
James Gray
Libertarian Party

James P. Gray announces his intention to run for President under the Libertarian banner + Dr. Suni Aggerwal discusses pandemic, advancing integrative medical care and research in oncology, psychiatry, neurology, rehabilitation, and palliative care

Audio file


Cultural Baggage


HOST DEAN BECKER: I am the Reverend Dean Becker, Keeper of the moral High Ground in the Drug War for the world and this is Cultural Baggage.

Hi folks. This is indeed Cultural Baggage and I am Dean Becker the Reverend most high. What do you say we just get going? Well folks as we start off today's show. I want to tell you a little bit about our first guest. He wrote a book. It's called Why our Drug Laws have failed and what we can do about it: a Judicial indictment of the War on Drugs. He's written another great book Wearing The Robe - the art and responsibilities of judging in today's courts. He was the presiding judge of the superior court of Orange County, California. He was the 2012 libertarian party Vice Presidential nominee as well as the parties 2004 candidate for the u.s. Senate there in California. Now Judge Gray has been my friend and Ally for about 20 years now, we first met in Houston when he gave a talk at the invitation of the drug policy forum of Texas. I think we had instant Rapport. I'd like to introduce my friend Judge James p- Gray. Hey judge

JUDGE JAMES GRAY: Dean, Dean indeed. Thank you. It's just a pleasure to be with you and well I should say I'll underscore what you said. I felt a bond with you from the beginning and still do thanks for the work you do Dean.

Well, thank you, sir.

JAMES GRAY: I am running as you know now for Libertarian nomination for president and if elected I would be the first Peace Corps volunteer to be in the White House at least elected there. So I'm proud of that then I was being drafted as soon as I got out of the Peace Corps. So I joined the Navy as a Navy lawyer for several years and then was a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles and became a judge at the end of 1983 as I tell people when I was only 12 years old. That's why I'm still so young, but we will skirt that one for the moment and did something really unusual, Dean as you'll know back in 1992. I held a press conference saying our nation's drug policy of drug prohibition has failed and we must replace it with something better, which wouldn't be hard because anything we would do would be better than what we were doing at the time. So that was a pretty libertarian thing to do and candidly I put my professional life at risk by doing this but some things are more important than job security and I've been talking about this pretty much ever since, the last thing I would bring up is that at that press conference, and again. judges just don't do that. I made the comment that I guaranteed that by the year 2000 we would have an materially different drug policy in our country and boy was I wrong about that prediction, but we're making some progress slowly in the meantime, Dean you may not be aware of this and I think it was the ACLU that came out with this statistic that in the last eight years. We have still had six million arrests for marijuana violations, most of which are possession and use it's just, it's just an outrage as to what we're doing. We're ruining people's lives. I've never smoked marijuana. My drug of choice is alcohol and almost any scientist will tell you that my drug of alcohol of potentially is far more harmful than marijuana will ever be.

DEAN BECKER: now judge Gray, you indicated, I was not going to bring this up, but you are throwing your hat in the ring to become the presidential candidate for the libertarian party who will be your VP.

JAMES GRAY: Well, thank you. It's a it's a fellow named Larry Sharpe. Who's just a wonderful man from New York. Sharpe- go to a and look a little bit about us and you can go to Larry Sharpe's website and look at their have a video. It's about maybe 12-15 minutes the Larry Sharpe story. Excuse me, the Larry Sharpe story and I got literally I got tears in my eyes when I was watching. He's a former Marine. He's had some problems in his life. He rallies to overcome them. He's doing very well. Well, I could not be prouder than to have Larry Sharpe as my running mate.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you, sir. Now like many organizations are forced to do in this time of covid-19. The libertarian party had an online debate just a couple of days ago. How did that go, sir?

JAMES GRAY: Well fine. Actually I have run as you probably know as a republican for congress in 1998 as a Libertarian for US Senate in 2004. And then as a Vice Presidential nominee with Gary Johnson of New Mexico in 2012, I'd never been on a debate before. So the last one a few days ago was my first and I think I spoke a little too fast, but I'll have another one this evening and you know, it's just nice to be able to confront people, libertarian values are we should be able to discuss anything not yell each other, not call each other names but just discuss these things and we do it rather straightforwardly and good for us, but it's just it's fun to be able to be kind of boots on the ground. And talk with the voters and and exchange views with my fellow candidates. It's really kind of a kick.

DEAN BECKER: Well, thank you. All right, you know I've been working with now former Congressman Thorpe, for more than 10 years now educating him on the full truth about the drug war and he fell by the Democratic Wayside and I'll be honest sir Bernie was my man. But now I feel the DNC has just shafted him again. And I know that you have given much time and effort continually writing in your online blogs as well as your books. The many areas of concern for America that makes you different from Donald Trump or Joe Biden? Why vote Judge Gray?

JAMES GRAY: well and thank you for that. That's a softball question. But gained I was a judge for 25 years here in Orange County, California and you're trained to listen, you're trained to gather information, to assess credibility of witnesses and then eventually to make a decision and to explain it look no one can be president of the United States. It's just much too overwhelming a job. So you have to put in good, good people in your cabinet and in your Administration a make sure that they're qualified make sure that they share our values of responsibility at all levels of society Live and Let Live don't tread on me while actually don't tread on anybody that sort of thing and then listen to him let them have some prerogative to make decisions and and to not shoot from the hip, not to fire people if they don't agree with you which we've seen a great deal of in the last few years and just actually put good people into into office and listen to them but also, you know, I will say this without fear of contradiction Dean, that big government is really really good and effective at one thing and that is increasing the size the cost the power of big government and the more that you bigger the government is the less Freedom that we have. It's directly correlation. So government is overstepped its bounds in many ways. It should not look to the Constitution Article 1 Section 8. There's no provision in there for a War on Drugs. We realized that with regard to alcohol prohibition and passed the 18th Amendment. So yes, then it was in the Constitution repealed it with the twenty-first amendment but there's no there's nothing in the Constitution that delegates the power to the federal government to Outlaw, for example marijuana. It's they're just nothing there. But but we have allowed this to happen. It's kind of a creep but so I'm really in touch with the views of the founders and I don't say founding fathers because there were many founding mothers as well Abigail Adams and others but but they fought they bickered they debated on lots of things but Dean the thing that all 55 delegates agreed upon the most important function of government is keeping the government from encroaching upon our liberties. Number two is keeping us safe. So I think our Founders would take up arms against where we are today that the bigger the government the fewer the lower the citizen, the fewer the freedoms and I think that our Founders would be very upset with us.

DEAN BECKER: I certainly agree with that thought sir, you know, some folks have chastise me for doing this interview. Why would I take the chance you would take away the oh so necessary votes from The Blue Team and I think your platform will appeal to voters on both sides and are in fact more likely attract the red hat Clan more so than the blues your response to that postulation, sir.

JAMES GRAY: Let me quote a fellow that you probably heard of named Thomas Jefferson who is a prototype libertarian and he said I don't care if you worship one God, Twenty gods or no God it doesn't pick my pocket and it doesn't break my leg. Just Live and Let Live, Dean you should be able as an adult to live the life that you want as long as it not wrongly affect our ability to do the same and the government now is controlling these various things certainly the coronavirus or they're exercising powers that they do not have which probably now we'll stay with us, you know, the government will be able to close down businesses. That is an over reaction, you trust people and it's so arbitrary to and these what we've seen with government. You trust people. Nobody wants to get sick. So if I want to go to a hardware store on the hardware store now has been closed by the government. It's not essential which is inflicting enormous economic harm on people. We're going to lose numbers of businesses. We're going to we obviously have lost tens of millions of jobs. And we're going to be pushed into a recession if we keep this up, but it's a balance. So if I want to go to a hardware store, clothing or heating and air conditioning those those businesses are closed arbitrarily by the government, but I can always go to these big box stores, you know, the cost goes and targets and the rest and they're still open. So while I'm getting my fruits and vegetables there I can also go and get my clothing and my hardware and stuff. So we have the government in effect closing down some businesses and assisting others. Look if I run a hardware store Dean, I'm going to advertise, we're starting to see it now. Hey, we have filtration systems. We take care of this and make sure you wear masks. We could require you to have your temperature taken before you come into our store. We want to protect our employees. We want to protect our other customers and will only allow I don't know 10 -15 people in the store at one time and then you advertise that and then I'll let us as adults make the decision. Yes, they're taking care of me. I will buy my clothing at this store or my Hardware or whatever, but but it's so arbitrary and the other arbitrary thing. I hope people noticed this team that this big bailout the 2.2 trillion dollars, which of course adding to the deficit which is again a big big security threat to our country to have these deficits that our children. And by the way yesterday, I became a granddaddy. So my little grandson Hudson now is saddled with debt. He's probably bankrupt because of our debt.

DEAN BECKER: congratulations just the same.

JAMES GRAY: Thank you. I'm granddaddy now, and that's a wonderful thing. But but if you look in that bail out the Kennedy Center in DC received, I think it was 15 million dollars and somebody was questioning that why did they receive that in? The answer was? Oh, they were harmed by being closed which of course is true. What about Dean all the other theaters around the country and why only give it to the Kennedy Center? It's just it's arbitrary you pick winners and losers and the government has no business doing that.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, something like 26 million Americans have now lost their jobs. Seeking unemployment trying to make it through the president and his men are trying to tell us it's going to be over in a few weeks a few months. And I think that it's going to take a probably a few years until we fully unwind this mess and the madness that's being woven into it and we'll never fully recover to our prior state and will need to reboot our nation, your thoughts on that Judge?

JAMES GRAY: Well, there are some legitimate functions of the federal government doing and again Article 1 Section 8- military and Judiciary all that sort of thing. But also it is incumbent upon the federal government to plan for emergencies and they don't know what they don't know when they don't know where it could be an earthquake. It could be a hurricane flood or a pandemic because once it occurs, it's too late to plan and the government was flat-footed. They didn't have an evacuation plan. They didn't have a medical plan. They didn't figure out the ventilators or the masks and that sort of thing. So they failed Us in that regard then they overdid it by oh, by closing down all the economy and in addition to being really importantly and I'm a Libertarian and I believe in it. We're not heartless. I again I was in the Peace Corps I care about people but but the Public's the private sector was all set to manufacture more masks or ventilators or or take care of the medical needs and then it was the FDA and the various government regulations that kept it from happening, you know to get a pharmaceutical product today through the FDA the Federal Food and Drug Act it takes about 10 years to get one cleared and cost something like two and a half billion dollars. Well, so you're keeping these things from happening. I believe that the FDA literally has killed thousands of people in our country because they kept these various possible drugs from being able to be distributed worldwide or Nationwide. And even if it's done in Germany, we still don't know which is a pretty good test case. We still don't allow those medicines to come in here unless they go through the FDA so it's again government just keeps getting bigger and more powerful and slows things down speak a little more about the FDA right now. Their mandate is to make sure that these Pharmaceuticals are safe and effective now, look certainly safe. Nobody wants Arsenic and in your in your aspirin, but effective let the free market decide whether it's effective go with truth in advertising and and put these drugs out there saying okay, they haven't been proved to be effective and then and if they're not effective they won't work, but you can get them out in Stand one year at about the cost of maybe 10 million dollars instead of 10 years of the cost of two and a half billion. Its government that causes the problems

DEAN BECKER:judge, we’re wrapping this up. I want to move to the central issue of the Drug Truth Network and that is across the United States of cities and even the feds have shown signs of changing of the heart, a lessening of draconian ways and inclination to undo many of the worst aspects of the drug war of punishing Minor crimes; there are now efforts to lower and more especially to eliminate Bail Bonds that's very much in play. And now in this time of covid-19 a recognition that we have no real need to lock up drug users and other minor players in jail in the first place. This is because our fear of this pandemic is now much greater and more real way more so than our fear of what drug users might someday do. We now realize the futility of the wastefulness of an all-out War on Drugs a war on drug users. What's your your thoughts there judge Gray?

JAMES GRAY: Well, it's certainly time. It's beyond time Dean, you know this but the United States of America has 5% of the world's population and 25% of its prisoners. There was a democratic US senator from from Virginia. Mr. Webb, who said he saw those two sticks and made the comment look either were the most criminally oriented people in the world or we're doing something wrong. I mean, which do you think it is much of which becomes up front because of drug prohibition which is an absolute failure fact, I used to I say now that drug prohibition is the biggest failed policy in the history of the United States of America second only to slavery and it's true and when it comes down to it now, my libertarian values come out again, but it makes as much sense to me to put this gifted actor Robert Downey jr. In jail for his heroin problem and he's had that pretty much for a long time now have to be careful who have those cravings and he's making good movies, but it makes as much sense to me to put him in jail for his heroin problem as it would have Betty Ford in jail for her alcohol problem. It's the same thing. It's a medical issue. But if Robert Downey jr., Betty Ford, you or I, drive a motor vehicle impaired by any of these mind-altering substances again, methamphetamines, heroin marijuana alcohol, that's a crime. The difference is now by their actions. They're putting our safety at risk, but the criminal justice system is really quite effective at saving us from each other and protecting us from each other, but it's totally inEffective and not designed to protect us from ourselves. That's our job as an adult and we're finally coming around to that and hooray for that. It's about time

DEAN BECKER: Indeed, It is, well judge. We got to wrap it up. But please share your website closing Thoughts with my listeners. Well, sir, and thank you for that.

JAMES GRAY: It's I've written more than any presidential candidate in history about the issues. I've been writing for four books, few musicals, lots of

Columns, it's all there nice to be with you my friend. Hope to see you soon.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you. My friend Judge James Gray.

----Audio Clip----

It's time to play name that drop by its side effects: in the disinfectant heard knocks it out in a minute. And is there a way we can do something like that? The injection inside your, or in between from the lungs and it has a tremendous number of- it sounds interesting to me.

Do not inject any type of disinfectant no matter if the president of the United States tells you it may be okay. He claims to be a stable genius but he is not a doctor.

----Audio End----

DEAN BECKER: All right, folks. So, you know, we are should be very grateful should be very I don't know supportive of the essential workers out there the doctors the nurses and other good folks that are keeping us alive keeping his fed and one such individual is my long-term friend based up in Washington State he's the founder, co-founder if you will of the AIMS Institute and with that I want to welcome. Dr. Suni Aggerwal. Hello Suni.

Dr. SUNI AGGERWAL: Hi Dean. It's great to be back with you.

DEAN BECKER: Well, this is Suni. I want to first thank you tip my hat to you for your commitment to this work of saving lives during this pandemic.

SUNI AGGERWAL: Thank you. It's what I went to school for to try to help them. Whatever way I can

DEAN BECKER: it's time to save lives now and we're losing. I think it's over 40,000 dead as of this point in the United States and the number is climbing. Correct?

SUNI AGGERWAL: Yes. Unfortunately, it's the curved seems to be, you know, starting to flatten a little bit in terms of the more the case rate and mortality rate in each state in each region is a little different but we're here in, in Washington where the watch the United States pandemic began. We've seen a reduction in our frequency of admissions to the hospital now, so we're hoping that that Trend continues and we're on the maybe on the other side of it, but it's still there still numbers piling up and there's a lot of other places that are are are you know, everyone has to control it. So because we're all in this together, folks don't- I mean there's a lot of conspiracy theories out there than this is a hoax or not real. I can tell you it's very real seeing patients. Unfortunately, I’ve seen patients that have passed away from this and struggle with this gotten sick with this. I've seen others who had mild cases too. so it's it but it is real. I think I think people are saying well these folks they if they really want to go out there and violate all these orders of being a part and then they really are putting the system at risk for spreading virus and during those those those those protests and I mean, I think I think there's some truth to that and people not being educated in those about what the reality is, of viruses is that you can't see that can be deadly. I think I think there's just a sense of well. Well, hey, I don't. I haven't seen it. It doesn't mean it means it's not real and it's all a hoax to take away my rights. I can understand where that's coming from, but I can assure everyone this is very much real.

DEAN BECKER: The one thing that you know, we need you to address it, is that we need to recognize that this is real, that it is deadly, it is killing people and I as an accountant and former accountant. I look at the Numbers and it is 4% 5% dead from this contagion. And so many people try to say it compares favorably with the flu, which is, you know, a portion of a percent of dead per year and it's time to look at the reality of this, right.

SUNI AGGERWAL: Yeah, I mean, it's absolutely the case that case there was with Flu, people we have seen it's really the people who are weak immunocompromise medically have issues going on that are the most vulnerable elderly and and in in covid-19. This is a severe acute respiratory illness that you know gets you sicker than anything than Flu can you know, some of the bad Flus can do. And some sometimes you don't have to have any medical comorbidities, you know, you could be otherwise healthy, maybe maybe your immune system is a little bit down from you know being stressed or something like that, but not like chronically ill but even even those folks, you know, who don't have chronic illness are sometimes having a very severe illness life-threatening sometimes just they're just dying from you know, in ability for us to be able to do what's needed for the critical illness maybe even even if they have a ventilator, even if they have all the advanced, you know intensive care therapies. Sometimes it's not enough. So it is worse. It is more deadly than the flu. We're- we’re, I understand we're going to have we need to develop vaccines. We need to develop, you know, we need to do more research to prevent to get these I think what's called convalescent plasma is another exciting therapy. That's coming out that's for people who are survivors of this week. We can get them to be donors and harvest their antibodies. I think there's other therapies out there like intravenous vitamin C. That should be used that seems to boost the immune system to help fight this I mean, there's more that we can do to help us, you know, eventually get to a place where we're having no deaths from this but we're a ways off from that.

DEAN BECKER: What is the typical work day like at the, How many gowns, how many masks, how many how much equipment is necessary?

SUNI AGGERWAL: Well, you know I'm not an intensive care doctor. I'm not an internal medicine doctor. My specialty is hospice and palliative medicine when I'm in the hospital palliative medicine is is a specialty where we were kind of experts in dealing with patients with life-threatening or terminal illness. And so my my job is to get, get with family. Oftentimes patients that I see and I see you they can't talk at all at this point because they are on a ventilator and they're sedated- so my job is to help. I mean, it's hard to see them if I can before that happens to them but oftentimes things go so fast, so I'm seeing them, I'm seeing them really Through The Eyes of their family and helping the families understand what the risks and benefits are of this treatment and whether the they would want these kind of burdens if they are you, you know wouldn't want to if it's too much, you know, the life quality of living with on a life support for a prolonged period of time or a recovery. That's very very, you know, prolonged or not anything that's consistent with their values and wishes if that's really something that they would want to do discontinued. So I have I'm having conversations about life and death and it was called Advanced directives and now the families are not even being allowed to visit the hospital. Because of very very limited visitation, so I'm doing a lot of these things without having to go right into the heart of where you know, the patient's where they're having the droplets in the air. So I'm not having to Dawn as much besides a basic surgical mask or occasionally what's called an n95 mask to be in some of these areas of the ICU. My colleagues who are going right into the rooms. They are putting on major gowns, major gloves. They're putting on negative pressure there in negative pressure areas, where they're using these reusable air purifiers that are attached to their attached to their math. So it's a very it's like a whole operation and it takes a while it takes work to take it on. Take it off, you know you, Well thankfully in our hospital we do have supplies but there is conservation going on. It's my colleagues who are on the front line doing the intensive care and the nurses they're there at the greatest risk, and I think it's thankfully with our CDC. We're following CDC guidelines and they are we hope staying safe and minimizing their exposure.

DEAN BECKER: It sounds an awful lot like prepping for a spacewalk and to be honest with you. Well, once again friends were speaking with Dr. Suni Aggerwal. He's a physician in Washington state now Suni. I caught an article it was in The Stranger and we're going to close out with this thought. Is it okay to smoke weed right now?

SUNI AGGERWAL: Well, I think that depends on it's always been okay to smoke weed even though it's not legal from a medical standpoint because in general people it's a very safe, you know substance that has never caused any deaths. There are a few people that have you know, shouldn't be using that because of these severe reactions they might have or allergy but in general it's a safe substance, you know, do you want to be smoking it is due to the it damages that can occur from chronic exposure to smoke and sit when we're in the midst of an illness that that you know really takes a toll on your lung. Well, I think that's probably not necessarily the safest way to take it in. At this time. So in that article, I talked about non smoke delivery method Vapor, that vaporization and other techniques to minimize any exposure of sort that can can lead to bronchitis and things like that which might, you know, lower your chances of recovering from a covid-19 infection

DEAN BECKER: Friends. Once again, we've been speaking with Dr. Suni Aggerwal. Dr. Aggerwal give you 30 seconds here to wrap us up if you will Point folks to a website or however you want to close things.

SUNI AGGERWAL: Well, thank you. Well, my name is Dr. Suni Aggerwal. I work at a place called The AIMs Institute in Seattle. That's for do Advanced Integrative Medical Care across oncology neurology Psychiatry pain and palliative care and we're here to help if we can all right.

DEAN BECKER: But that's about all we can squeeze in. I would ask you to please go to our website nearly 8,000 shows are available now for your perusal. And again, I remind you because of prohibition. You do not know what's in that bag. Please be careful.

To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world. This is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the unvarnished truth. Cultural Baggage is a production of the Pacifica Radio Network archives are permanently stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for public policy and we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.