Monday, December 31, 2007

Say Goodbye to 2007

The Mobile Press-Register ran a column yesterday titled Say Goodbye to 2007 in which they list all of the incredible, amazing and hilarious things that happened in 2007.

Guess what made the cut?

But did he inflate?

Attorney General Troy King was a sitting duck for Loretta Nall's inflatable pig.

The state's sex-toy ban has been the subject of court challenges for nearly a decade. After it was finally upheld in federal court, a Jefferson County judge still refused to close a store selling sex toys in Hoover.

King could have left that matter alone; instead, his office said that if law enforcement officers wanted it, he would put stronger enforcement language in his legislative package.

So Nall, a one-time Libertarian candidate for governor, started a "Sex Toys for Troy King" drive, which she led by sending an inflatable pig to his office.

Some of you may be wondering what, exactly, is done with an inflatable pig that would make its sale banned in Alabama. The Insight staff looked it up on the Internet, and we're not going to tell you in a family newspaper.

God I love Alabama!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Now..That There is QUALITY Staff

The Birmingham News is reporting that the off-duty Lipscomb police officer who shot a man on Christmas Eve was fired from the Birmingham police department after two shootings in three years.

Friday, December 28, 2007
News staff writers

An off-duty Lipscomb police officer who shot a man Christmas Eve was fired from the Birmingham Police Department after being involved in two shootings there in less than three years on the job.

Officer Michael Thomas, 29, was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the Birmingham shootings by the Jefferson County district attorney's office, but then-Chief Annetta Nunn fired him in June 2005 after the second incident.

At the time, Nunn cited violations of the department's policy on using deadly force. Thomas appealed his firing, which is still under review.

So, if he was fired for violations of the departments deadly force policy then why the hell was he allowed to go elsewhere in Alabama and get hired as a police officer? I know damn well that the police can do a background check...they've damn sure done one on me. But they can't run one on someone applying for a job that involves carrying a firearm?

But gets better...

Thomas is also scheduled to go on trial in January on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.

Lipscomb Mayor Debbie Miller said Thursday that Thomas is still an active member of the Lipscomb force and has not been placed on administrative leave. Miller said she received a preliminary report from the Jefferson County sheriff's department - the agency investigating Monday's shooting - that the shooting appeared justified.

So, they have a trigger-happy-wife-beater on the force....that they have not placed on leave? Oh, and the shooting appears justified.

Thomas was hired by Birmingham in October 2002. About a year later, as an East Precinct officer, Thomas shot at but did not hit a man running from him in a wooded area in eastern Birmingham. His conduct in the incident was investigated but efforts to obtain details on that internal probe were unsuccessful Thursday.

In October 2004, Thomas shot a 25-year-old man after a reported scuffle on an isolated dead end street near Zion City.

Thomas was in the area guarding a stolen car while waiting for a wrecker to retrieve it when Adam Hall drove down the street, police said at the time. Thomas checked the man's car tag and found he had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant. The officer blocked the man's car and then they got into a foot chase. The officer reportedly sprayed Hall with Mace during a struggle before he fired at least one shot at Hall.

I always thought you weren't supposed to shoot at someone running away from you...isn't that how things are supposed to work? If they are running towards you and they have a gun then OK I can see shooting. But running away from you means they were not threatening your personal safety and obviously didn't have a gun pointed at what is the justification for shooting? Because you can?

And then the stolen car bit...So, this officer was guarding a stolen car and just decides (apparently for shits & giggles) to run the tags of anyone passing by? Comes across a piss-ant misdemeanor warrant for someone he shouldn't have been checking up on, blocks the car, sprays the guy with mace and then shoots at him. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but there are no misdemeanors that are punishable by the death penalty.

And somehow this is all par for the course, it was all justified, according to those now in cover-your-ass mode, this dangerous, unstable goon with a government sanctioned gun is still roaming around in uniform and no one in the Lipscomb area is safe.

Your tax dollars at work! This thug really should be gotten off the street before he kills someone for running a red light or not using a turn signal.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Drug Prohibition has Bred Super-Traffickers

(Note: Sanho Tree was my tour guide when I traveled to Colombia back in 2004. I can say without doubt that Sanho is the wisest human I have ever met. He is one of my top role models in the drug policy reform movement.)

Minuteman Media

DECEMBER 26, 2007

What Darwin Teaches Us About the Drug War

by Sanho Tree

With every passing year the drug problem seems to
get worse. The U.S. government responds by
pumping billions more dollars into the war on
drugs. Federal spending for this “war without
end” is more than twenty times what it was in
1980 and still the drug traffickers appear to be
winning. Despite more than six billion dollars
spent on “Plan Colombia” alone, cocaine
production has actually increased in that
country. Now the Bush Administration is asking
for $1.4 billion more to aid the Mexican
government’s drug crackdown through the “Merida Initiative.”

Although it may seem counterintuitive, the “law
and order” response by our politicians only
intensifies the problem. Instead, they might turn
to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to glean
insight as to why these “common sense”
reactionary solutions often are counterproductive.

As illegal drugs become easier to obtain and more
potent, politicians respond in a knee-jerk manner
by ramping up law enforcement. After all, drugs
are bad so why not escalate the war against
drugs? Politicians get to look tough in front of
voters, the drug war bureaucracy is delighted
with ever expanding budgets, and lots of
low-level bad guys get locked up. Everyone wins –
including, unfortunately, the major drug traffickers.

As politicians intensified the drug war decade
after decade, an unintended consequence began to
appear. These “get tough” policies have caused
the drug economy to evolve under Darwinian
principles (i.e., survival of the fittest).
Indeed, the drug war has stimulated this economy
to grow and innovate at a frightening pace.

By escalating the drug war, the kinds of people
the police typically capture are the ones who are
dumb enough to get caught. These criminal
networks are occasionally taken down when people
within the organization get careless. Thus, law
enforcement tends to apprehend the most inept and
least efficient traffickers. The common street
expression puts it best: “the dealer who uses,
loses.” Conversely, the kinds of people law
enforcement tends to miss are the most cunning,
innovative and efficient traffickers.

It’s as though we have had a decades-long
unintended policy of artificial selection. Just
as public health professionals warn against the
overuse of antibiotics because it can lead to
drug resistant strains of bacteria, our overuse
of law enforcement has thinned out the
trafficking herd so that the weak and inefficient
traffickers get captured or killed and only the
most proficient dealers survive and prosper.
Indeed, U.S. drug war policies have selectively bred “super-traffickers.”

Politicians cannot hope to win a war on drugs
when their policies ensure that only the most
efficient trafficking networks survive. Not only
do they survive, but they thrive because law
enforcement has destroyed the competition for
them by picking off the unfit traffickers and
letting the most evolved ones take over the
lucrative trafficking space. The destruction of
the Medellin and Cali cartels, for instance, only
created a vacuum for hundreds of smaller (and
more efficient) operations. Now the police cannot
even count the number of smaller cartels that
have taken over – much less try to infiltrate and disrupt them.

Moreover, the police have constricted the supply
of drugs on the street while the demand remains
constant thus driving up prices and profits for
the remaining dealers. Increasing drug
interdiction creates an unintended price support
for drug dealers which, in turn, lures more
participants into the drug economy. Of all the
laws that Congress can pass or repeal, the law of
supply and demand is apparently not one of them.

A public health approach to dealing with illicit
drugs should take precedence over “law and order”
approaches. Treatment and prevention must take
priority over interdiction and eradication
because drugs are a demand-driven problem.
Politicians, however, continue to devote most
drug funding toward cutting the supply. The
proposed aid package for the notoriously corrupt
Mexican drug war establishment would be better
spent on providing treatment for addicts in the
United States. Over reliance on politically
expedient “get tough” policies will only continue
an endless spiral of drug trafficking evolution.


Sanho Tree is a Fellow at the Institute for
Policy Studies in Washington, DC and directs its
Drug Policy Project. The Institute for Policy
Studies is the only multi-issue progressive think
tank in Washington, D.C. Through books, articles,
films, conferences, and activist education IPS
offers resources for progressive social change
locally, nationally, and globally.

Sanho Tree
Fellow, Drug Policy Project
Institute for Policy Studies
1112 16th St., NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036
202/787-5266 (direct line)
202/387-7915 (fax)
202/494-8004 (mobile)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ron Paul on Glenn Beck

Yesterday I had the great fortune to catch Republican Presidential hopeful Dr. Ron Paul on both "Meet the Press" and later on "Glenn Beck". I thought Dr. Paul did fabulous on both shows. Tim Russert was a total shithead to Dr. Paul but Ron held his own.

Then last night I learned that Dr. Paul was going to be a guest on the "Glenn Beck" show. I held my breath. I have something of a love/hate relationship with Glenn Beck and he has been somewhat unfair to Dr.Paul's campaign in the past. But, I gotta tell you, Glenn did a stellar job last night interviewing Dr. Paul. I was clapping, cheering, hootin & hollerin!

In case you missed it...

Here is a link to the "Meet the Press" segment.

Every time I hear Dr. Paul speak on America's foreign policy I want to turn back-flips. It's the exact same as my take on American foreign policy after I returned from a 10 day visit to the jungles of Colombia in 2004. That I am hearing a very popular presidential hopeful say the same words to millions of viewers brings me untold joy!

Go Ron Go!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Me & Snoot

My friends and fellow activists Mitch & Christie O'Brien presented me with an awesome digital camera last night at our Compassionate Care meeting. Today I have been playing with it. Here are some shots my son just got of me and my dog. I have wanted shots of the two of us together for the longest but the pictures my cell phone takes suck. Thanks so much Christie and Mitch for the camera!

Without further's Snoot and me.
(NOTE: These get much larger when you click them)


A few weeks ago my son, Alex, who is a sophomore in high school took the ACT test. It is required before one can be considered for admission to The Alabama School of Mathematics and Science in Mobile. Yesterday his results came in the mail and he scored a 29 out of a possible 36. This is his first time taking it and he did not study any of the guides that are available. The only area where he had trouble was the math and only then because some of the questions were material, that as a sophomore, he has not covered yet. Everything else he got right.

I am so proud of him I could just explode!!! A 29!!! My God that is astounding! Look at this graph which covers the percentiles. Alex is in the 94th percentile....meaning he did better than 94% of other students who took the test. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy better!

DAMN! I see an Ivy League college in his future if he so desires to attend.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Prison Commissioner: Prisons Becoming Defacto Mental Hospitals

I gotta hand it to Alabama Prison Commissioner Richard Allen for having the courage to tell the damn truth when he is called upon to do so.

Earlier this week Allen met with the House Ad Hoc Committee on Mental Health where he stated the following;

The state's prisons are turning into de facto mental health treatment centers because Alabama lacks the money to provide adequate care, state officials said.

The state Department of Corrections provides mental health care to thousands of inmates each year, Corrections Commissioner Richard Allen told a legislative committee Wednesday.

"Prior to 2000, the Alabama Department of Corrections didn't consider mental health treatment part of our mission," Allen told the House Ad Hoc Committee on Mental Health.

In recent years, the state has moved many mental health patients from large hospitals to the community for treatment and has scaled back or closed the hospitals. For some patients, the changes provide care in a more natural setting.

But when the patients commit crimes, there is nowhere to send them but prison, Allen said.

"We more or less are criminalizing mental illness," he said.

The New York Times Regional Newspapers reported that the state mental health commissioner, John Houston, agreed with Allen.

"Jail becomes a default mental health facility because there are no resources to provide care," he said.

Allen said the state prison system budget will fall short by $31 million this year, and the cost of treating mental illness has contributed to that.

Houston told the committee that "the short and simple answer is get more beds" for mental health patients outside of the penal system.

The long-term answer, he said, is more treatment outside the criminal system for drug and alcohol abuse and mental illness.

"There's a huge substance abuse problem in the court system," Houston said. "It's not as simple as it seems."

That last line by the Commissioner on Mental Health is priceless. What he is saying is that courts are addicted to drug users. The courts abuse the system by prosecuting people with substance abuse problems and then stick them in a government cage that really oughta be reserved for true bad guys. Then, if the drug addict in question wasn't already dealing with some mental issues (most true addicts are) they damn sure will develop some while in prison. Keep in mind that most people arrested and prosecuted for drug use and possession are not addicts at all, but rather recreational users who had the misfortune of getting caught. They'll damn sure develop some mental issues and PTSD when placed in a cage, surrounded by rapists and murderers. So, not only are we warehousing the already mentally ill in our current prison system we are creating more mentally ill people by using prison to address substance use when the only fucking problem with using said substance is that you might get caught and go to prison for it. '

Here's another thing....drug courts in Alabama will not take a dual-diagnosis person. For instance, if someone has been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and has been arrested for drug use then drug courts won't take them. There are very few mental health courts in the state right now. So, what happens to these people?

Let me just say that I have a great deal of respect for prison commissioner Richard Allen. While I have not worked with him directly he has opened the door to my colleagues who work exclusively on prison reform and probation and parole. They have always been invited to the table as long as Mr. Allen has been Commissioner. Allen strikes me as a guy who has a lot of sense, a clear picture of just what is fucking up the prison system so bad and the balls to speak his mind and tell the truth about it. Really, we reformers couldn't ask for much more than that.

Thanks Commissioner Allen!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What a Wonderful Surprise!

Yesterday I got a call from a local florist who said I had a delivery. However, the florist closed at noon and I did not get the message until sometime after. I sat all night and wondered who had sent me something and what it might be. Then just a few minutes ago the beautiful flowers pictured above arrived at my door. They are from everyone at the Drug Policy Alliance as a token of thanks for helping the Phillips family after the death of Michael.

This is the first time I have received flowers in years and I really needed cheering up. Thanks DPA for adding brightness to my day and for your wonderful note of thanks!

A Question about Slavery and the Ten Commandments

Tim Lennox, anchor of Alabama Public Television's For the Record and fellow Alabama blogger had raised a very interesting topic for discussion over at his site about slavery being condoned in the bible.

Here is the question Tim asks:

The question I've asked is this: how could a message directly from God not identify slavery as opposed to only coveting your neighbor's slaves? Was slavery acceptable then but not now? Please leave comments!

Please do leave comments...but on Tim's site and not this one.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Doggie Post

(Awww wook at those eyebrows!)

I haven't written about my doggie Snoot in a while. For a while there I was doing one Friday Doggie Blogging post a week. Lately though I have been short on time for writing about my family's guardian.

Here are a few shots of him this morning as he got distracted from his morning constitutions and decided to stalk kitties instead.

He has such beautiful form. He's equivalent to the Mercedes in engineering and perfection. I love to just sit and look at him sometimes.

My recent trip to New Orleans was hard on both of us. He has not been away from me for more than one night since I got him about this time last year. I worried about him. Missed him like crazy. The kids and dad would tell me on the phone that he was just moping about and being sad. I remarked numerous times to my fellow travelers that I wish I could have brought my dog with me. They missed their pooches too. It's amazing how attached we get to them and they to us. Saul nearly knocked me down when I walked in the door from the trip. It was pretty late at night and he would not be content with anything less than a half-hour cuddle-fest. After such a tragic end to the trip a healthy dose of good old-fashioned cuddling was exactly what I needed.

I continue to be blown away by his incredible intelligence. While I was gone he performed a trick. My husband had been bringing wooden reels home from work to use as starter wood in the fireplace. They had been treated with some nasty, sulfur-smelling stuff and stank horribly when lit. So dad decided to start soaking them in the bathtub. One day he and the kids heard a strange noise emanating from the bathroom area. They went back to check it out and found Saul, in the bathtub, picking up each reel and dropping it out of the tub and on to the floor. They said it wasn't play, he wasn't tossing them around or barking at them...he was simply on a mission to remove them from the bathtub. I couldn't tell you why. Perhaps he wanted a bath? He damn sure needs one.

Since I've been back from New Orleans I have noticed that something of a bond has finally formed between Saul and my husband. They time they had to spend in each others company while I was away seems to have eased the friction. Terry took him for long walks while I was gone. The walked the boundaries of the property and Saul peed every few feet. Terry said he now understands the value of a German Shepherd and Saul, in particular. They are an excellent burglar deterrent...better than a gun in some ways. You don't have to load one of these or fumble around for it while a stranger violates the sanctity of your home. No, a German Shepherd is already cocked, loaded and pointed at the door at the first sign of an intruder. They are fiercely protective of their family members, do not like strangers by nature, can pick up from you what needs to be done without you ever having to say a word. It's damn near like telepathy. Oh yeah, they are also deadly. They want to eat something up. It's what they are bred to do. Guard and protect. If I were a burglar or rapist or kidnapper and chose a home that had a German Shepherd I'd keep moving. Just don't even want to fuck with that.

I love to take him out in the woods behind the house and watch him trail a scent. We have a large herd of deer that come through here just about every day and he loves to sniff along their path. Something had been over the big rocks in the woods because yesterday he spent 10 minutes going over every inch. He'll lick things to get a better impression. Stick his nose way up in the air and turn his head and flare his nostrils. There is also a family of armadillo's that live here and he likes to walk behind them and just sort of nose them when he catches them out of their hole.

His instincts are so's like all I had to teach him is some basic manners (which he is still learning). He came already knowing the rest. Above all though, he is a great companion. I wouldn't take a zillion dollars for him.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ron Paul Top Story on CNN!!

Now That's NEWS worth reporting!

So, I've Been a Really Good Girl this Year

It's that time of year where most of us begin to reflect on the things that happened in our lives in the previous 12 months. In 2007 I really focused all of my energy and work inside Alabama, as opposed to years past, when I spent much of my time on issues outside the state. The 2007 year in review will look scant when compared to the 2006 Year in Review. However, I find that work inside the state is much more fulfilling for me because Alabama is my home and I love her. Not to mention that if I intend to live out all of my days here then there's some shit that's gotta change.

Let's review shall we?

January 2007 was something of a slow month.

LTE on dependence of the criminal justice system on drug prohibition published in the Mobile Press-Register

Invited to Speak at MENSA Gathering


Began holding Compassionate Care meetings on a regular basis

I reviewed Barry Cooper's "Never Get Busted" video

The review of that video set off a chain reaction of Barry Cooper threats, personal attacks, demands, child-like behavior and finally the threat of legal action over my opinion of his DVD. I still stand by that opinion, by the way. Most of the correspondence is linked at the bottom of the page linked above if you care to read it.

Attended Vigil for Billy Jack Gaither

In mid-Feb. a coach at my kids school paddled a student so hard that it left large rectangular bruises on his back, buttocks and legs. The coach had the misfortune of paddling a kid whose mom works with my husband. WHen I got wind of it and saw the pictures I decided to do something about it.

It's Child Abuse

Protest at Horseshoe Bend School

Parents Allege Assault After Sons Paddling

An Invitation for the Community to come to the Table

This case is ongoing.

March 2007

Back to Court

More Court Shenannigan's

My MeMaw Dies and I Pay Tribute to Her Buttermilk

Protested the Alabama Legislative body's HEIST of our bank accounts

Appeared on the NORML podcast

My explanation of why the State of Alabama is WRONG and I am RIGHT

Another Court Appearance

More Gems from my Trial Transcript

D.A. taints Nall Jury Pool

After 4 1/2 years my case is DISMISSED On 420 Oh Hell Yeah!

Former Candidate for Governor Cleared of Marijuana Charges

Drug Charges Against Alex City Gubernatorial Candidate Dropped

One Time Candidate Beats Drug Case


LTE's on medical marijuana written by members of Compassionate Care

Let Doctors Treat Their Patients

Medical Marijuana Gets Panel Hearing

House Panel Hears Case for Medical Marijuana


Loretta Goes to Church

Alabama Senate Brawl

Fighting Legislators Deserve Students' Treatment

Which Ways Hooters?


Nall Addresses MENSA

An Admitted Child Sodomizer Walks Free

My comments in that post got me an invite to appear on Hannity & Colmes

Loretta Nall on the Attack Machine

And Where is Troy King, btw?

The Drug Court Discussion Begins

Hillary Clinton Copies my Cleavage Campaign


Fighting Back Against Reefer Madness

Critics Resort to Reefer Madness

Relax Medical Marijuana Laws

Two Letters in the Birmingham News

My Brother Dies on me While Riding Down the Interstate

What Happens if you can't afford car insurance?

Working Poor Being Harassed

Drug Courts Expand in Alabama


Leave Pot Smokers Alone

Remove Pot Smokers from Drug Court Equation

Loretta LIVE from Wal-Mart

Incarceration No Cure for Addiction


Beam Me Up Scotty...There's No Intelligent Life at Wal-Mart

Things Wal-Mart customers do that piss me off!

Veteran Alabama Political Commentator Bob Ingram Dies

A Gripe About the Food Stamp Program

Half of Alabama drug arrests are for simple possession of marijuana

Squandered Resources in War on Drugs

Back to my real life

Now, November was the most fun month of all. It started when "King Troy" our Attorney General hinted that he would waste legislative time and taxpayer money trying to make the anti-obscenity law in Alabama tougher. Seeing as how the courts have already ruled that Alabamian's do not have a constitutional right to sexual privacy I'm not entirely certain how it could be tougher. Apparently though it wasn't tough enough to close down an adult novelty store in Hoover. Hence King Troy's misstep in my favor. When he announced that he might take it back before the legislature I decided that if Troy wanted to focus on sex toys then, by God, that's what we'd do. So, I started a

Sex Toys for Troy King Drive which I kicked off by sending Troy an inflatable, penetratable pig!

The next day the Mobile Press-Register ran with the story Woman Fights King on Sex Toys

And then editorial cartoon genius J.D. Crowe really summed it up with the following editorial cartoons.

The Tuscaloosa News penned a stellar editorial about the need for folks like me in Alabama politics

Internet Helps "Sex Toys for Troy King" reach nation (with what has to be the best opening line ever!)

Press-Register Editorial: Scrap the Sex Toys Law and Let's Move On

Sex Toys for Troy Makes Rolling Stone & DAME Magazines

Legislator Pre-Files Bill to Repeal Sex Toy Ban


J.D. Crowe Strikes Again

Aside from the funny that J.D. provided December has not been such a great month so far. On Dec. 5, seven friends and I set out for a trip to New Orleans for the International Drug Policy Reform Conference. This was the first time I had ever taken an Alabama delegation with me to one of these. A few of my fellow travelers were medical marijuana patients who were going to the conference to learn more about how to get the Compassionate Care Act passed in Alabama and to meet other people with similar conditions. All was well until the morning we were scheduled to depart for home. I found one of our members had suddenly and unexpectedly passed in his sleep during the night.

You can read about Michael Paul Phillips and his tragic death here

See Photos of Michael Having Fun in New Orleans

You can read the eulogy I gave at his funeral here

Here are some other pictures from the New Orleans trip.

So, that's where I stand right now and the year isn't over yet. I emailed the reporter for Rolling Stone yesterday to ask when the issue with "Sex Toys for Troy" would be out and he told me that the editor's at RS are waiting to see if anyone gets arrested before Christmas before they run it. I inquired as to who might possibly be arrested and on what charges and he said if anyone it would likely be the girls behind the counter at Love Stuff but, that Troy could also potentially come after me, too.

For distribution.

Of an inflatable pig.


Can you imagine the media circus my arrest would generate? Me arrested and jailed right before Christmas because I was generous and sent Troy King an early gift? Ah, well, no good deed goes unpunished I guess.

Here's a shot of me presenting the girls at Love Stuff with an autographed print of the original "Sex Toys for Troy" cartoon. I'm sending Don Siegelman one of those prints for Christmas to hang on his prison wall. I know he could use a laugh.

It's been a busy and productive year for me here in Alabama and I think I have been a very good girl overall. So, Santa (or any reader in the mood to play Santa to me this year) I'd really like the following.

A Day at the Spa (gift certificates available online :) )

Money is always well received and is put to good use as you can see from the past 12 months of activity.

A digital camera

A digital video camera

Or...just send me some love.

Happy Holiday's Y'all!!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Pictures from New Orleans

The Drug Policy Reform conference was wonderful from what I remember. Due to the unexpected death of Michael Phillips immediately afterwards most recollection of the conference has been wiped from my memory. I do have photos though that various attendees sent to me and that members of my group took while there. Here are a few of them.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Saying Goodbye to Michael Phillips

(L to R - Michael Phillips, Loretta Nall, Christie Reeder)

Michael Paul Phillips' funeral was held today in Millbrook, AL. As with any funeral, it was a very solemn occasion. I was happy to see that the church was packed with Michael's friends and loved ones. Christie Reeder, Ralph Hendrix and myself were in attendance for Alabamians for Compassionate Care.

The morning started out all wrong. I put my dog outside in his pen and put his kennel in the car. I had planned to take him with me because I wasn't sure how long I would be gone. When I went to get him out of his pen he refused to come. I had to leave him alone, outside and hope that he would not escape and eat a neighbor or get killed in the road. I don't think I can take any more burials of the things I love this week.

The family had agreed to let me deliver one of Michael's eulogy's. When I went to print it out I discovered my printer had no ink. I called my friend Christie who printed one and brought it with her. When I started reading over it about 20 minutes before the funeral started I realized that the printer had chopped off words and deleted entire sentences from paragraphs. I didn't know what I was going to do. Michael's family lives right around the corner so I decided to call them and see if they could print it for me. I had already sent it to them for approval. His sister-in-law said they had already printed it out and that the family loved it. Michael's Uncle Ron brought me a copy to the church.

Michael's Uncle Ron was the first to speak. He and Michael were the same age and had grown up more as brother's than as Uncle and nephew. Ron spoke about the good times growing up and shared treasured family memories with us. He told a great story about when he and Michael were baptized. He said they went home immediately afterwards and burned all of their rock-n-roll tapes.....except their favorite ones. Michael's favorite band at that time was KISS. The Ron sang a beautiful rendition of "I'll Fly Away." It's always that song and "Precious Memories" that tear me apart at funerals.

Next I spoke. His family had requested that I not mention medical marijuana specifically because not everyone knew about that part of Michael's life and it might cause other complications that no one should have to deal with on a day like today. Michael had given me an olive green safari hat in New Orleans that looks just like the light tan one I wear everywhere. Just out of the blue came in my room one morning and said, "I brought you this hat." As I took the podium I donned the hat and explained why I was wearing it. At the end of the service a small boy came up to me and said, "Michael used to wear that hat all the time."

Here is the eulogy that I delivered for our friend Michael.

Good morning. My name is Loretta Nall and I have a few words I would like to say about Michael Paul Phillips. I'd like to start by thanking his family for graciously granting me a few minutes of this most precious and private time. They are very brave because most people would have serious reservations about turning me loose with a microphone at a funeral. But they know I loved Michael and that I am deeply scarred by his passing and that this is the very last thing that I will ever be able to do for him. So thank you Ms. Jackie and Mr. Bobby for trusting me once again with Michael.

I met Michael after he saw me on the Keith Olbermann show during the 2006 election. He called me up and told me he was a patient and that he wanted to be involved in passing a law that would make his life and the lives of people like him more tolerable.

I worked with Michael for a little over a year on some political issues that he was interested in. I guess you could say I was his patient advocate. He was born with an inoperable brain tumor that caused multiple seizures on a daily basis. He had taken every seizure medication known to humankind, and a few that were not, to no avail. He survived 4 different and unsuccessful brain surgeries that resulted in major injury to his brain causing him to have problems communicating, understanding and slowing his motor skills and coordination. As a result of that he was never able to be independent. He was never able to live on his own for very long, was never able to get his drivers license, never married and never had any children. He had also been mostly ostracized from society because the world is a cruel place especially for those with disabilities. I was fortunate to be counted among the friends that Michael had along with the small group of people who work with me here in Alabama.

I began taking Michael to our patient advocate meetings around the state and coaching him on how to stand before the heartless power structure in the Alabama State House and tell his story. His proudest moment came when he and his mother testified this year before the house judiciary committee and he got his name and story in the Mobile Press-Register and the Montgomery Advertiser. He was chomping at the bit to be able to testify again in 2008 and would call me multiple times a week to see when we were going back. He had found happiness and strength in speaking out and standing up for himself. I think for the first time in his life he had found his voice and even if he could not do the little things that so many of us take for granted in life, speaking out was the one thing he could do for himself and people like him. And he took to it with a vengance. It was a beautiful thing to witness him discovering his inner strength and it was nothing less than a blessing for me to be able to be a part of that.

A few months ago the organization that I work for offered scholarships to attend a conference in New Orleans about the issues Michael and I worked on together. I was able to secure one for him to attend. To say that Michael was excited would be a vast understatement. He called me or emailed me at least twice a day about the trip for a good month before we left. His child-like enthusiasim was a beautiful thing to behold. He told me this would be his first trip away from home since he graduated high school. That was 20 years ago. Michael had a lot of fun on this trip. He was fearful sure, but he was excited and he knew he was part of a group of people who cared about him and loved him and accepted him and understood what his life had been like. I want to paint a brief picture of Michael's last days with us.

On the way to New Orleans Michael had complete control of the stereo system. He brought his large CD collection of the same kind of music that I love and we cranked it up and sang most of the 300 miles to our destination. During the times the radio was off he talked about is mom and dad and said he would miss them during the trip. He talked about his little nephew and how much he enjoyed it when he would come into his room and ask Uncle Michael to print him out some coloring sheets and they would color together. He told us that he had asked for a dog for Christmas. He discussed his medical history with Ms. Terry Gillard and Ms. Dawn Palmer who were riding with us. There is a class action suit against one of the manufacturers of a drug he had recently stopped taking and he wondered if he might be able to get in on that. I told him we would research it when we got back. He said he better start losing weight and taking better care of himself because he wanted to look good as a millionaire.

At the conference Michael got to meet other people who had seizures, mulitple sclerosis, who were in wheelchairs....people like him who could really relate to what his life had been like. My experience with Michael was that he was mostly a very shy person but at this conference surrounded by people who could relate he came out of his shell and made many friends. He got to meet some people that were very important to him and he felt very proud of himself and you could see his confidence growing and taking root. He got to tell his story to people who got it. He got to walk down Bourbon Street which is something everyone should see before they die. He got to eat raw oysters every day. He took notes during the sessions we attended, struck up conversations with the strangers sitting anywhere near him, exchanged contact information with other patients who were destined to become his friends and had begun making plans for how he would implement all that he had learned once he got back home. No one was more shocked than I was to find that he had passed without warning in the night. Michael passed the way most of us hope to exit this world. Asleep and never the wiser and although he was away from home and his loved ones he was nontheless surrounded by people who love and cared about him.

What I want to leave you with today is a message of compassion. Michael was a grown man with all the brains, drive and passion of any normal person lucky enough to be born without brain tumors. Because of his lifelong struggle to survive, his numerous surgeries, and the toll his seizures took on his brain function and his physical body he lacked the communication skills to express himself and it took him a little longer sometimes to understand things, which was very frustrating for him. Not being able to do the small things we take for granted like drive to the store, live in your own place, have a job, take a trip or even have a dog of his own made Michael a man who had to live as a child...never having the opportunity to grow up.

I am so glad that Micahel's path crossed mine for he taught me many lessons about patience, which is something I am notoriously lacking. He taught me to look underneath what you can see on the outside of people and find their core, because while our differences may be many on the physical level our similarities, if we take the time to look for them are always many, many more.

Before I end this today I want all of you to take a moment and think about someone you know who may have problems similar to Michael's. Do you know someone who is disabled? Unable to drive? Lacking human companionship because they can't get out and make friends? Someone who is in need of a little extra understanding and compassion? Someone who is often not included because it is inconvenient for us to take them along? Michael did not ask to be born with inoperable brain tumors but for much of his life he was treated by society as if he had. Could you do a little more to help people like Michael feel loved and included? Could you offer to lighten the load on the family members who care for people like Michael? While I know they do not want his life to be seen as a burden to them there is no denying that caring for a terminally ill person takes a very big toll. I could do more and I will do more. I am going to take the very important lessons that Michael Phillips taught me and incorporate them in to my daily life by reaching out more to people that we as a society often isolate whether we mean to or not. Will you do the same?

Michael Phillips I am so blessed to have known you and your passing has left a huge hole in my life. I will miss your phone calls, funny emails and your innocence. I will continue the fight for the common beliefs that you and I shared because I know that is what you would want. While we will miss you we know that you are in a place that does not require drivers license, you have your own house with a dog and there are no such evil and monsterous things as inoperable brain tumors. Thank you for showing us the true meaning of courage and bravery. On behalf of Christie and Mitch O'Brien, Dawn Palmer, Terry Gillard, Ralph Hendrix, Gabriel Sayegh and all of the new friends you made in New Orleans Peace Out Buddy! We'll miss you.

His family had also requested that I read the lyrics to "Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum

When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that's the best
When I lay me down to die
Goin' up to the spirit in the sky
Goin' up to the spirit in the sky
That's where I'm gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that's the best

Prepare yourself you know it's a must
Gotta have a friend in Jesus
So you know that when you die
He's gonna recommend you
To the spirit in the sky
Gonna recommend you
To the spirit in the sky
That's where you're gonna go when you die
When you die and they lay you to rest
You're gonna go to the place that's the best

Never been a sinner I never sinned
I got a friend in Jesus
So you know that when I die
He's gonna set me up with
The spirit in the sky
Oh set me up with the spirit in the sky
That's where I'm gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
I'm gonna go to the place that's the best
Go to the place that's the best

Afterwards I went over to Ms. Jackie and Mr. Bobby, got down on my knees in front of them and laid my head in their laps. They gave me comfort and I hope I provided comfort to them. Michael's family had brought a small CD player and played "The Best Day" by George Strait. I suspect that was a request from Michaels father who took his death very, very hard.

We loaded up my old station wagon
With a tent, a Coleman and sleepin' bags.
Some fishin' poles, a cooler of Cokes,
Three days before we had to be back.

When you're seven you're in seventh heaven
When you're goin' campin' in the wild outdoors.
As we turned off on that old dirt road
He looked at me and swore...

Dad, this could be the best day of my life.
I've been dreamin' day and night about the fun we'll have.
Just me and you doin' what I've always wanted to.
I'm the luckiest boy alive,
This is the best day of my life.

His fifteenth birthday rolled around,
Classic cars were his thing.
When I pulled in the drive with that old Vette
I thought that boy would go insane.

When you're in your teens
Your dreams revolve around four spinnin' wheels.
We worked nights on end 'till it was new again,
And as he sat behind the wheel he said,

Dad, this could be the best day of my life.
I've been dreamin' day and night about the fun we've had.
Just me and you doin' what I've always wanted to.
I'm the luckiest boy alive
This is the best day of my life.

Standin' in a little room back of the church with our tuxes on,
Lookin' at him I say, I can't believe, son that you've grown.
He said,

Dad, this could be the best day of my life.
I've been dreamin' day and night of bein' like you.
Now it's me and her,
Watchin' you and mom I've learned,
I'm the luckiest man alive,
This is the best day of my life.

I'm the luckiest man alive,
This is the best day of my life.

I mentioned in an earlier post that one of Michael's favorite bands was Metallica. While we were riding to Birmingham last week to pick up the rest of our group he played "Sanitarium" and said it was his favorite song ever. Understanding something about Michael's life and listening to that song with him while riding down the road I totally understood how that was his most favorite song ever. Read the lyrics and see if you don't agree.

Welcome to where time stands still
No one leaves and no one will
Moon is full, never seems to change
Just labeled mentally deranged
Dream the same thing every night
I see our freedom in my sight
No locked doors, no windows barred
No things to make my brain seem scarred

Sleep, my friend, and you will see
That dream is my reality
They keep me locked up in this cage
Can't they see it's why my brain says “rage”

Sanitarium, leave me be
Sanitarium, just leave me alone

Build my fear of what's out there
Cannot breathe the open air
Whisper things into my brain
Assuring me that I'm insane
They think our heads are in their hands
But violent use brings violent plans
Keep him tied, it makes him well
He's getting better, can't you tell?

No more can they keep us in
Listen, damn it, we will win
They see it right, they see it well
But they think this saves us from our hell

Sanitarium, leave me be
Sanitarium, just leave me alone

Just leave me alone

Fear of living on
Natives getting restless now
Mutiny in the air
Got some death to do
Mirror stares back hard
kill is such a friendly word
seems the only way
for reaching out again

I got seperated from the funeral procession and was unable to locate and follow them to graveside services. I plan to visit Michael's grave when I have had some time to digest and accept all that has happened. Right now I am just too raw and drained. As I was driving home the radio station played "Paradise City" by Guns-N-Roses. That was one of the songs Michael and I sang at top volume on the way to New Orleans. He said we must look like the characters in "Wayne's World" when they were driving down the road and jamming to "Bohemian Rhapsody". I'm actually still hoarse from it. I cranked the stereo up all the way coming home, think I might have blown a speaker in the rental car and thought how perfect it was that song should come on at that moment.

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green
And the girls are pretty
Take me home (Oh, won't you please take me home)

Just an urchin livin' under the street
I'm a hard case that's tough to beat
I'm your charity case
So by me somethin' to eat
I'll pay you at another time
Take it to the end of the line

Rags to riches
Or so they say
You gotta
Keep pushin' for the fortune and fame
You know it's, it's all a gamble
When it's just a game
You treat it like a capitol crime
Everybody' doin' their time

Strapped in the chair of the city's gas chamber
Why I'm here, I can't quite remember
The surgoen general say's it's hazardous to breathe
I'd have another cigarette
But I can't see
Tell me that you're gonna belive

Capitain America's been torn apart
Now he's a court jester
With a broken heart
He said turn me around
And take me back to the start
I must be losing my mind
"Are you blind?!"
I've seen it all a mllion times

I want to go
I want to know
Oh, won't you please take me home

I want to see
Oh, look at me
Oh, won't you please take me home

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green
And the girls are pretty
Take me home (Oh, won't you please take me home)

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green
And the girls are pretty
Oh, won't you please take me home

Take me down
Oh yeah
Beat me down
Oh, won't you please take me home

I want to see
Oh, look at me
Oh, won't you please take me home

I want to see
Boy, I'm gonna be mean
Oh, oh take me home

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green
And the girls are pretty
Oh, won't you please take me home

I want to go
I want to know
Oh, won't you please take me hooooooome

When I got home I had a note in my inbox from Michael's brother Scott.

"loretta i think that is perfect and that you are wonderful! scott"

It was response to my question of whether the eulogy was acceptable to Michael's family. I am glad they liked it and I hope that I did Michael proud. It was an honor to tell the part of his story that I know and send him on his way with love from his friends. I want to thank the Phillips family for showing me so much warmth and kindness, for allowing me to be a part of Michael's ceremony and for allowing me to be a part of his life. I'll always share a bond with them now. Ms. Jackie and Mr. Bobby asked me to please let them know when the medical marijuana bill starts working its way through the legislature again because they plan to stand and speak for Michael and others like him whose lives could be made better by safe access to a simple plant. Michael will be very proud.

Michael's family is still in need of financial help to cover the cost of transporting his body from Louisiana to Alabama and covering the cost of his funeral. If you haven't already please take a moment and send them something now.
To mail a contribution please send a check or money order payable to Bobby or Jackie Phillips to

Bobby & Jackie Phillips
3802 Martha Lane
Millbrook, AL 36054

Or use the paypal button below to make a contribution online. These contributions will go to my account as the Phillips' family does not have one. I will then distribute any monies to them.