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Letter To The People - September 2006
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BEN MASEL for US Senate: Ben stands for your rights, even when you don’t! Originally from New Jersey, he came to Madison in 1971 to attend UW and was suspended indefinitely for actions during the last phase of Vietnam War protests. He was even placed on Nixon’s “White House Enemies” list, a list that also held the name John Lennon.
The first time many people heard the name Ben Masel was in 1990 when he challenged Wisconsin governor Tommy G. Thompson in the Republican primary for governor. His goal at that time was to re-introduce hemp as a raw material for the textile, fuel and paper industries.
Others may know him as the guy who puts on the Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival every year in Madison. Starting with a rally in Library Mall, the event features guest speakers, info booths, music, food, vendors and more. The rally is always followed by a peaceful march to the capitol steps where more guest speakers and a call to the governor are always made, usually by blow horn (see the back cover for event info).
The failed drug war was his target for many years, but decriminalizing pot is not his only passion. I remember him testifying for the A.C.L.U. in the late ‘90s when the KKK was coming to Madison. He was testifying in favor of allowing the KKK to have a rally at the capitol. I was confused until he told me, “If they can stop the KKK from having a rally, then they’ve set the precedence to stop you, too.” That is when I saw a truly altruistic person.
If you see him on the street, go and talk to him. Ask him his views on subjects like drug law reform, renewable energy sources, war, cell phone tracking legislation, the Patriot Act, gun control, search & seizure, civil rights, etc. I think you will find that he is well informed, logical and practical.
As an advocate of peace, every one of Ben’s protests has been non-violent. In fact, the only “violence” I’ve ever seen him involved in was at the hand of the police officers arresting him for “not” violating the law. The reason I say “not” is that he always wins during his day in court – And, honestly, we the tax-payers foot the bill for the civil authority’s ignorance and stupidity.
In the end, Ben is a true patriot. Like his friends Russ Feingold and Tammy Baldwin, Ben believes in our system and civil rights, as well as the protection of those rights from political erosion. Lastly, Ben is a brand new grandfather this month, congrats Ben! And good luck.
Adventures with Nikolai and Elizabeth: Summer is coming to an end for Nikko and Elizabeth. Elizabeth starts third grade this fall and Nikko starts pre-school. It seems like yesterday I was announcing Elizabeth’s birth and Life of Agony was on the cover….. that was May 1998, the first Adventures With Elizabeth.
He wrote a behind the scenes emailed newsletter that I used to read religiously. He always had the inside scoop as he’d attend practices and what not as a reporter. His articles were always witty and at the end of the Packer news was a sub-column called “Adventures with Evan,” his then 6 year-old son. Evan’s a teenager now and website blogs proliferate cyberspace, so Jeff’s hanging it up. I emailed him telling him how he inspired me to write the end of my column about my kids. He loved it and even told me he picked up Maximum Ink from time to time. What a small world.