Over at The Trebach Report I have posted a short essay discussing the potential policy significance of this investigation.
I liked it so much I assigned it to my online class, especially the following passage because I have seen this pattern with so many other drug laws: “Unlike alcohol prohibition, narcotics prohibition was not caused by any widespread public pressure or political campaign. Rather, it was the work of government insiders, led by progressive-era professional groups and anti-opium missionaries, with crucial support from President Theodore Roosevelt.”
As a public service I will now translate this politically obtuse statement into English; It is alright to lie to people in order to scare them into doing something that is against their own interest. I feel qualified to present this rendition, as I am very familiar with the concept expressed by Gore, because the main focus of my studies has been the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs.
While she does quote a policeman, she does not name or quote any businessmen. If Caldwell had found some worried entrepreneurs their apprehension would be a bit tardy since Americans have been going to Mexico in droves to seek all sorts of drugs both recreational and medicinal for decades. MTV Spring Break Cancun` will not show you all those fresh faced college students smoking marijuana but I feel confident in saying that is precisely what very many of them do there. And, in fact, Caldwell does undercut her own theme by quoting shoe shine person Elipio Rodriguez to the effect that drugs are already everywhere. He says, “There by the bridge (to the U.S.) anyone can do drugs. Police always patrol there, by those who are selling, and nothing ever happens. Do you think something will change now?”
Cross Posted on The Trebach Report
The only other non-government official heard from is 58-year-old waiter Raul Martinez who provides the obligatory what about the children? A former Pentagon anti-drug official and a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman have their say but no one from the drug reform movement or those involved in actually passing the legislation are allowed a voice in the AP’s world.
I would like to say positively that the transparent straw man of drug tourism will not have an effect on policy. I can not, however, because a communication from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has informed me that Mexico’s President Vicente Fox has so far declined to sign the law. The NORML website reports that U.S. officials, including one from the Drug Enforcement Agency, met with Mexican officials and among other things "urged them to clarify the law so it would not make it attractive to those who would go to Mexico to use drugs."
So it appears that this manufactured fear of drug tourism is having an effect, but why? If someone visits a place because of the availability of drugs they will still spend money on all the other things, transportation, entertainment, food, gifts, that other tourists do, there will simply be more people spending money. No one solely uses drugs.
As for increased violence that is not a problem because legality would eliminate the need for black market mayhem. Drug use per se causes an infinitesimal amount of the violence the prohibitionist like so much to talk about. The drug alcohol is by far the most associated with pharmacological aggression, yet it also legal in most places and highly celebrated in others. In successful attempts to reduce the violence connected with important soccer matches both the Portuguese and Dutch police instituted a policy of tolerating marijuana smoking. Also, ask Dutch police where they would rather go on a call, a bar serving alcohol or a cafe` serving marijuana and they will say the cafe` because it is much less dangerous.
There are millions of middle aged relatively wealthy adults, who quit smoking marijuana years ago, who would love to go somewhere to safely get high, recapturing some of their youth, and then return home to resume their normal lives. A city that realized the potential and put a Dutch cafe` policy in place would reap enormous economic benefits for its citizens. At the present time no location in the U.S. is experiencing such a needed windfall, one more cost of the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs.
Let us not forget that George Bush’s illegal war against Iraq had a precedent in Bill Clinton’s illegal attack on Serbia. Just as there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq there was no genocide in Kosovo. Ethnic cleansing of Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies did occur in Kosovo but that was after Clinton’s bombing made it possible. Both military excursions were justified by lies. MoveOn is an organization dedicated to perpetuating the falsehood that there is some kind of meaningful difference between the behavior of Democratic and Republican politicians.
Fortunately, their attorneys were able to have the procedure halted. One of the lawyers, Zenon Peter Olbertz, said “It's shocking that this kind of action by the federal government could be sought and accomplished in secret, without anyone being notified.” He went on to say, “it reminds me of the secret detentions" in cases related to terrorism.
There is a very good but frightening book by Richard Lawrence Miller titled Drug Warriors and Their Prey, which argues that the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs is step by step transforming our justice system into one that will closely resemble the one in place in Nazi Germany. And, he is familiar with that system because his previous book Nazi Justiz dealt with that topic.
When I read a story like the one above I get the depressing thought that Miller may be one of the most prescient writers of our time.
Hat tip to Jeff Schaler
Cross posted on The Trebach Report
This is not the first time Chappelle has spoken on this topic. Two weeks ago I saw him on the program Inside the Actors Studio. During the interview he said something I thought to be very profound. Chappelle asserted that, "The worst thing you can do to someone is to call them crazy because it is so dismissive."
Now, I do not necessairly agree with everything put forth in the dialogue, I do, however, strongly support the following statement; "The Soviet Union imploded. I thought: What an incredible vindication for the United States. Now it's over, and the time has come for a real victory dividend, a genuine peace dividend. The question was: Would the U.S. behave as it had in the past when big wars came to an end? We disarmed so rapidly after World War II. Granted, in 1947 we started to rearm very rapidly, but by then our military was farcical. In 1989, what startled me almost more than the Wall coming down was this: As the entire justification for the Military-Industrial Complex, for the Pentagon apparatus, for the fleets around the world, for all our bases came to an end, the United States instantly -- pure knee-jerk reaction -- began to seek an alternative enemy. Our leaders simply could not contemplate dismantling the apparatus of the Cold War."
Hat Tip Kenny Rodgers
Today, someone sent me further evidence in support of that thesis in the form of a clip from the television show Boston Legal. One of the program's lawyers, defending a woman who refused to pay her taxes in protest of the war in Iraq, gives a very powerful and eloquent closing argument that is well worth watching. (click on freshest video) If this is the kind of message being put out during prime time on mainstream media then I believe there is some hope of ending the fiasco in Iraq in the near future.
As well there should be, my friend also sent me the latest post by Scott Ritter who constituted a voice in the wilderness throughout the build up to our most recent invasion of Iraq. In the article Ritter, who has been right on this issue from the very beginning, devastates both the historical and present cases for war. To those who say the world is better for our invasion and occupation he replies, “Iraq has come to this: a human and social disaster of enormous scale, where unified central governmental authority is not only non-existent, but unachievable under current conditions.”
In an argument very similar to the one used by the above television attorney, Ritter closes his piece with this statement; “If, by writing a book exposing the lies about Iraqi WMD or submitting an essay to Al Jazeera (or for that matter, to AlterNet or any other outlet that publishes a dissenting view), the Bush administration construes my actions as representing a threat to the United States and as such worthy of covert monitoring, so be it, for it is their actions that are seditious to the ideals and values set forth by the Constitution, not mine. When faced with the scale of the criminal activity undertaken by the Bush administration in the name of bringing freedom to the Iraqi people or defending America, the only real sedition I could commit would be to remain silent.”
Hat Tip Kenny Rodgers
Four jobs I have had:
Electronic warfare technician, Pet food salesman, Census taker, Quality control technician
Four movies I can watch over and over:
The Big Liebowski, His Girl Friday, Reefer Madness (the Showtime musical), To Kill a Mocking Bird
Four places I have lived:
Syracuse, New York, Bath, Maine, Tampa, Florida, Norfolk, Virginia
Four TV shows I love:
Cheers, Simpsons, St. Elsewhere, Daily Show
Four highly regarded and recommended TV shows I haven't seen:
24, Law and Order, Grey's Anatomy, CSI
Four of my favorite dishes:
Calamari, Coconut Shrimp, New England Clam Chowder, Grilled Lamb
Four sites I visit daily:
Liberty and Power Group Blog, Trebach Report, Antiwar.com, American University Blackboard site
Four Places I've Vacationed:
Smokey Mountains, Orlando, Florida, Gettysburg, Black Hills
Four albums I can't live without:
Louis Armstrong, Hot Fives and Hot Sevens 4 CD box set
Four new bloggers I'm tagging:
David Beito, Radley Balko, Robert Higgs, Wendy McElroy
That edition of the paper also contains a review of Bartlett’s new book in which Claude R. Marx unfairly accuses the author of having a “generally tedious writing style.” As a regular reader of Bartlett’s essays, I can testify that they are well written, interesting, and that they often contain very revealing information. The reviewer takes a more substantial shot when he writes that, “It is easy to criticize an administration (of either party) when you don't have to answer to voters or 535 members of Congress, each with his or her own agenda.” However, Mr. Marx needs to be reminded that in each and every case the programs cited by Bartlett were enthusiastically embraced by the Bush Administration not imposed upon them by the opposition.
I have mixed feelings about the DPA, sometimes I see them in the same light as I see the people in pre-Civil War America who sought laws to soften the condition of slavery, thereby prolonging it. Also, they distain the word legalization yet they put out mountains of information supporting the conclusion that ending prohibition is the only logical course. They focus too much on incremental change and not enough on forcing those favoring and benefiting by drug prohibition to defend that indefensible position. Nevertheless, the DPA on the whole performs a considerable service by raising the issues and doing the research that it does. So, I hope Mr. Cronkite brings them in some money.
As anchorman of the CBS Evening News, I signed off my nightly broadcasts for nearly two decades with a simple statement:"And that’s the way it is." To me, that encapsulates the newsman’s highest ideal: to report the facts as he sees them, without regard for the consequences or controversy that may ensue. Sadly, that is not an ethic to which all politicians aspire - least of all in a time of war. I remember. I covered the Vietnam War. I remember the lies that were told, the lives that were lost - and the shock when, twenty years after the war ended, former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara admitted he knew it was a mistake all along. Today, our nation is fighting two wars: one abroad and one at home. While the war in Iraq is in the headlines, the other war is still being fought on our own streets. Its casualties are the wasted lives of our own citizens.
I am speaking of the war on drugs. And I cannot help but wonder how many more lives, and how much more money, will be wasted before another Robert McNamara admits what is plain for all to see: the war on drugs is a failure.
While the politicians stutter and stall - while they chase their losses by claiming we could win this war if only we committed more resources, jailed more people and knocked down more doors - the Drug Policy Alliance continues to tell the American people the truth -"the way it is."
I'm sure that's why you support DPA's mission to end the drug war. And why I strongly urge you to support their work by giving a generous donation today. Make a Donation
You see, I’ve learned first hand that the stakes just couldn’t be higher. When I wanted to understand the truth about the war on drugs, I took the same approach I did to the war in Vietnam: I hit the streets and reported the story myself. I sought out the people whose lives this war has affected.
Allow me to introduce you to some of them. Nicole Richardson was 18-years-old when her boyfriend, Jeff, sold nine grams of LSD to undercover federal agents. She had nothing to do with the sale. There was no reason to believe she was involved in drug dealing in any way.
But then an agent posing as another dealer called and asked to speak with Jeff. Nicole replied that he wasn’t home, but gave the man a number where she thought Jeff could be reached.
An innocent gesture? It sounds that way to me. But to federal prosecutors, simply giving out a phone number made Nicole Richardson part of a drug dealing conspiracy. Under draconian mandatory minimum sentences, she was sent to federal prison for ten years without possibility of parole.
To pile irony on top of injustice, her boyfriend - who actually knew something about dealing drugs - was able to trade information for a reduced sentence of five years. Precisely because she knew nothing, Nicole had nothing with which to barter.
Then there was Jan Warren, a single mother who lived in New Jersey with her teenage daughter. Pregnant, poor and desperate, Jan agreed to transport eight ounces of cocaine to a cousin in upstate New York. Police officers were waiting at the drop-off point, and Jan - five months pregnant and feeling ill - was cuffed and taken in.
Did she commit a crime? Sure. But what awaited Jan Warren defies common sense and compassion alike. Under New York’s infamous Rockefeller Drug Laws, Jan - who miscarried soon after the arrest - was sentenced to 15 years to life. Her teenage daughter was sent away, and Jan was sent to an eight-by-eight cell.
In Tulia, Texas, an investigator fabricated evidence that sent more than one out of every ten of the town’s African American residents to jail on trumped-up drug charges in one of the most despicable travesties of justice this reporter has ever seen.
The federal government has fought terminally ill patients whose doctors say medical marijuana could provide a modicum of relief from their suffering - as though a cancer patient who uses marijuana to relieve the wrenching nausea caused by chemotherapy is somehow a criminal who threatens the public.
People who do genuinely have a problem with drugs, meanwhile, are being imprisoned when what they really need is treatment. And what is the impact of this policy?
It surely hasn’t made our streets safer. Instead, we have locked up literally millions of people...disproportionately people of color...who have caused little or no harm to others - wasting resources that could be used for counter-terrorism, reducing violent crime, or catching white-collar criminals.
With police wielding unprecedented powers to invade privacy, tap phones and conduct searches seemingly at random, our civil liberties are in a very precarious condition. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on this effort - with no one held accountable for its failure.
Amid the clichés of the drug war, our country has lost sight of the scientific facts. Amid the frantic rhetoric of our leaders, we’ve become blind to reality: The war on drugs, as it is currently fought, is too expensive, and too inhumane.
But nothing will change until someone has the courage to stand up and say what so many politicians privately know: The war on drugs has failed. That’s where the Drug Policy Alliance comes in.
From Capitol Hill to statehouses to the media, DPA counters the hysteria of the drug war with thoughtful, accurate analysis about the true dangers of drugs, and by fighting for desperately needed on-the-ground reforms.
They are the ones who’ve played the lead role in making marijuana legally available for medical purposes in states across the country.
California’s Proposition 36, the single biggest piece of sentencing reform in the United States since the repeal of Prohibition, is the result of their good work. The initiative is now in its fifth year, having diverted more than 125,000 people from prison and into treatment since its inception.
They oppose mandatory-minimum laws that force judges to send people like Nicole Richardson and Jan Warren to prison for years, with no regard for their character or the circumstances of their lives. And their work gets results: thanks in large part to DPA, New York has taken the first steps towards reforming the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws under which Jan was sentenced.
In these and so many other ways, DPA is working to end the war on drugs and replace it with a new drug policy based on science, compassion, health and human rights. DPA is a leading, mainstream, respected and effective organization that gets real results. But they can’t do it alone.
That’s why I urge you to send as generous a contribution as you possibly can to the Drug Policy Alliance. Make a Donation
Americans are paying too high a price in lives and liberty for a failing war on drugs about which our leaders have lost all sense of proportion. The Drug Policy Alliance is the one organization telling the truth. They need you with them every step of the way. And that’s the way it is.
Sincerely, Walter Cronkite
P.S. Why does this reporter support the Drug Policy Alliance? Because they perform a service I value highly: When no one else will, they tell it the way it is, and they do so on one of the most important but least discussed issues in America today. Just as they did in Vietnam three decades ago, politicians know the War on Drugs is a failure that is ruining lives. Please help the Drug Policy Alliance tell the truth about the war on drugs - and get our nation on the path toward a sensible drug policy.
Dr. Ari is a member of the Aymara indigenous people of Bolivia and the AHA letter writers are “deeply disturbed by the possibility that ethnicity might form the basis for excluding members of our profession from gainful employment.” The authors of the plea to Secretary Rice believe Waskar Ari’s to be a case of racial profiling. I think they are wrong about this, not about their assertion that the denial of entry has nothing to do with any terrorist threat, clearly it does not, but about the real reason behind it.
The letter itself tells us that the State Department had ordered our embassy in La Paz to cancel all existing visas. So it was not race being profiled but rather the country. Now why would the United States single out Bolivia last summer? Perhaps, the July 15, 2005 issue of The Drug War Chronicle can enlighten us. They reported that, “Peasant coca grower leader Evo Morales has announced that he is seeking the presidency, and as arguably the most popular politician in the country, he is well-positioned to win.” He did in fact win and Bolivia is no longer cooperating with our country’s suppression of coca use, a habit, by the way, practiced for hundreds if not thousands of years by the Aymara. Therefore the people of Bolivia must be punished, starting with Dr. Ari.
The war on people who use certain kinds of drugs is the reason the students at Nebraska will be deprived of the considerable specialized knowledge Professor Ari promises to bring to the table. The silence of the AHA on the role coca played in this miscarriage of justice is the one of the primary reasons this kind of injustice will continue.
It is no accident that someone with an abolitionist background wrote such a work because the modern paternalistic ethos, which infects all levels of government, has much in common with the ante-bellum pro-slavery ideology that Spooner so opposed.
Let us face the fact that the Syrian demonstrators calling for the beheading of the Danish cartoonist have achieved de facto if not de juror censorship over almost all of the Western press. On the Colbert Report he said they were taking the principled stand to not show those cartoons because they might be killed. Colbert was, of course, going for the laugh but the paper I read The Washington Times did not show the cartoons either. In any other situation, something so central to something so controversial surely would have been shared with the readers or viewers. From a purely news standpoint those drawing should have been printed in every major daily newspaper in the country as well as being shown on the ubiquitous television news programs.
Now, did The Washington Times and so many other papers choose not to run the cartoons because they felt them to be deeply offensive or did they choose not run them because they did not want their editorial boards to end up on some cleric’s list of people it was every Muslim’s duty to murder? Will we ever really know?
Keillor then goes on to write: “Not a bad gig, considering. There are mature gifted musicians scuffling for less than screeners earn, and farm families scraping along despite prayer and hard labor, and genius comedians scrapping for spare change. So a young Republican lady or gent could be tickled pink to land a job as assistant secretary for compliance assurance and get an 18-by-24 office with a window looking out on the Washington Monument and spend the day in meetings after which you will write memos of ingenious persiflage and obfuscation, like a cat smoothing the litter box.”
Hat Tip Kenny Rodgers.