Retired Buffalo Police Captain Peter Christ speaks out against the "War on Drugs:"
When you institute a prohibition like we have with drugs in this country, what you are doing is not protecting people from other people, you are attempting to use law enforcement to protect people from themselves. Protecting you from yourself is a function of family, church, education, and the health care system. It never is, and never should have been intended to be, a law enforcement function. We are out there enforcing morality when we enforce drug laws, and that is not our job. We were not trained to do it, we are not capable of doing it, and if anything else you see the failure of it.
[Heh: the headline refers to a kind comment by blog friend tg, complementing my separating "the wheat from the chaff" on AEI. I'm a pretty big AEI fan and am torn between voraciously defending a friend of liberty and graciously accepting kind words...]
I will put this under War on Drugs, but I don't mean to poke a stick into the eye of my blog brothers. This is a "world has gone to hell what are you possibly going to do?" story of the first order. Kevin Williamson of National Review tours Chicago with a Pakistani guide, one Mister Butt.
"They do this to their own neighborhood," Mr. Butt says, exasperated. "They make it a place no decent person would want to be. Why do they do that? It’s very bad, very scary at night." This from a guy who vacations in Lahore.
Williamson describes a post-projects Chicago in which the big drug lords have lost their territory in Cabrini-Green and Henry Horner to be replaced by absolute anarchy of 15 year-olds controlling a block and requiring a murder for initiation.
Mr. Butt locks the doors, and we cruise through Englewood and environs. Martin Luther King Drive, like so many streets named for the Reverend King, is a hideous dog show of squalor and dysfunction, as though Daniel Patrick Moynihan's depressing reportage in 1965's The Negro Family had been used as a how-to manual.
I don't think any ThreeSourcer would institute any of the policies used to run Chicago, and it is easy to see it as a blue model train wreck of deracinated multi-generational welfare, drug laws, gun restrictions, gub'mint education, and "community organizing."
Even if you got them to admit the problem and stop applying increased dosage of that which brought them here, what do you do? I cannot long for the sweet old days when more grownup drug lords ruled the town, holding the violence down like Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Daley? The Mob? Capone?
Mister answer for everything leaves the reader Chicago as an exercise. I'd love to yank the gangs' funding by no longer protecting their drug profits from legal competition, but much more is required.
Malala Yousafzai was a 15-year-old schoolgirl who got shot for a reason -- a terrible, awful, evil reason, but a reason. (Say what you like about Islamic radicalism, at least it's an ethos.) All of Chicago is aghast at the story of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot -- and, unlike Malala Yousafzai, killed -- apparently for no reason at all, at 2:20 in the afternoon in a public park. Miss Pendleton was a student at King College Prep, and a majorette in the school's band, which had the honor of performing at President Obama's first inauguration. Miss Pendleton had just recently returned from a trip to the president’s second inauguration when she took shelter from the rain under a canopy at Harsh Park.
I think I can finally unite ThreeSourcers on one aspect of drug policy: This is absolutely shameful:
In a promotional video released yesterday, President Obama "calls" actor Kal Penn, the former Associate Director of Public Engagement for the Obama administration, and tells him to get ready for the DNC Convention. On a split screen, Penn is seen with his Harold and Kumar co-star John Cho. The two are watching cartoons, surrounded by pizza boxes, soda, candy, and other junk food. The none-too-subtle suggestion is that, like the characters in the Harold and Kumar films, Cho and Penn are stoned.
I emphatically suggested that the drug question was a philosophical one of self-ownership and was not about condoning drug use in any way.
Leave it to the President to get a fundamental question completely, totally, 100% wrong (and drive a good blogger to redundancy)!
He makes light of drug use, which we might all admit to be damaging. And, yet, on the question of protecting individual rights, he has been home eating Doritos® and watching The Flintstones.
Hat-tip: @radleybalko Obama ad idea: Call up a cancer patient wasting, vomiting from chemo b/c of your marijuana policy; make stoner jokes. http://t.co/cHKioRrF
ThreeSources is watching out for you, the folks! Seconding brother jg's superb piece on the evils of devil reefer, I want to share another interesting data point: Energy Drinks!
New York's attorney general is investigating whether the multibillion-dollar energy-drink industry is deceiving consumers with misstatements about the ingredients and health value of its products.
Eric T. Schneiderman issued subpoenas in July to PepsiCo Inc., PEP, maker of AMP, Monster Beverage Corp., MNST and Living Essentials LLC, maker of 5-hour Energy drink, according to a person familiar with the matter. The subpoenas asked for information on the companies' marketing and advertising practices.
The caffeine-heavy, carbonated beverages have become ubiquitous at grocery stores, gas stations and checkout counters across the country. Makers of the drinks, which are often sweetened with flavors such as grape or mixed berry, say they boost energy with a mix of additives including B-vitamins, taurine and ginseng. AMP's website, for example, says the B-vitamins and caffeine in its Boost drinks offers "the kick you need to tackle the early morning meeting." On its website, 5-hour Energy says it gives "hours of energy" with "no crash later."
With all the usual caveats about the reliability of "scientific studies" here is another datapoint in the marijuana debate.
Prof Moffitt said adolescent brains appeared "more vulnerable to damage and disruption" from cannabis than those of fully mature adults.
Reliable figures on cannabis usage among today's British teens and twentysomethings are hard to come by.
But Prof Moffitt said there was growing concern in the US that cannabis was increasingly being seen as a safe alternative to tobacco.
"This is the first year that more secondary school students in the US are using cannabis than tobacco, according to the Monitoring the Future project at the University of Michigan," she noted.
"Fewer now think cannabis is [more] damaging than tobacco. But cannabis is harmful for the very young."
The news article, by UK Telegraph medical correspondent Stephen Adams, quotes study contributor Professor Terrie Moffitt on the cascading effects of an 8-point IQ diminishment:
"Research has shown that IQ is a strong determinant of a person's access to a college education, their lifelong total income, their access to a good job, their performance on the job, their tendency to develop heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and even early death," she said.
"Individuals who lose eight IQ points in their teens and 20s may be disadvantaged, relative to their same-age peers, in most of the important aspects of life and for years to come."
Chris Christie is not a wimp, a hippie, or a countercultural icon. He's not known for taking time out from budget negotiations to smoke dope, or for his sympathy for drug dealers.
Yet he is a soft-liner on the war on drugs. That the combative New Jersey governor and Republican rock star -- just tapped to keynote the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla. -- vocally dissents from drug-war orthodoxy is another sign that the tectonic plates of the drug debate are shifting. Perhaps our appetite for spending billions and incarcerating millions, in the service of pieties immune to rational analysis, is not limitless after all. -- Rich Lowry
Like myself, Boulder's [Democrat] District Attorney Stan Garnett doesn't understand why the Obama Justice Department is so tough on the medical marijuana business. After all, aren't Democrats and weed activists fellow travelers? And, perhaps because I had dinner with the man 12 days ago (well, actually, different tables in the same Boulder burger joint) I agree verbatim with General Garnett on this sentence from his letter to United States Attorney John Walsh:
"The people of Boulder County do not need Washington, D.C., or the federal government dictating ..." WAIT! Stop right there.
But he continued, "how far dispensaries should be from schools or other fine points of local land use law," Garnett wrote.
I don't think Garnett helped his effort by suggesting what the US Attorney's priorities should be, but that probably won't be what makes or breaks the G-Men's "prosecutorial discretion."
In the "things that make you say, hmmm" department: The article also says that Boulder has an estimated 12 dispensaries within 1000 feet of a school.
[Randy] Paige: Let us deal first with the issue of legalization of drugs. How do you see America changing for the better under that system?
[Hoss of Hosses, Nobel Laureate Milton] Friedman: I see America with half the number of prisons, half the number of prisoners, ten thousand fewer homicides a year, inner cities in which there's a chance for these poor people to live without being afraid for their lives, citizens who might be respectable who are now addicts not being subject to becoming criminals in order to get their drug, being able to get drugs for which they're sure of the quality. You know, the same thing happened under prohibition of alcohol as is happening now.
Under prohibition of alcohol, deaths from alcohol poisoning, from poisoning by things that were mixed in with the bootleg alcohol, went up sharply. Similarly, under drug prohibition, deaths from overdose, from adulterations, from adulterated substances have gone up.
The enforcement-heavy segment of ThreeSources can be proud today.
Here's a Mercury News profile of Bob Wallace, an 88-year-old chemist who started a very successful cottage business selling iodine crystals under the "Polar Pure" brand new, used by hikers and disaster relief workers for water purification. Wallace has been put out of business by the Drug Enforcement Agency, who say they once busted a meth lab that was using Wallace's iodine in their process.
I share this link both to torque the enforcement-heavy segment of ThreeSources and also to share Mr. Wallace's awesome response:
For Wallace to comply, the state Department of Justice fingerprinted the couple and told Wallace he needed to show them such things as a solid security system for his product. Wallace sent a photograph of Buddy sitting on the front porch.
"These guys don't go for my humor," Wallace said. "Cops are the most humorless knotheads on the planet." Even so, Marco Campagna, Wallace's lawyer, promised to strengthen security and make other improvements to allay the government's concerns.
The Drug War, with an impact stretching far beyond the inner cities, is one of America's worst policies. It costs billions we don't have; it promotes the growth of transnational criminal gangs and supports large black markets in money and arms that terrorists as well as drug lords can use; if fills the prisons and it hasn't stopped either the use of existing illegal drugs or the development of new ones. Furthermore, as a Cato Institute paper estimates that legalizing and taxing drugs would yield more than $80 billion a year in savings and new revenue. (Something tells me that even the hardiest Tea Partiers might see their way to a hefty excise tax on heroin and cocaine.) -- Dirty Hippie and Professor Walter Russell Mead
To be fair, Mead raises more interesting concerns than most. His thoughtful piece is sobering reading for the legalization crowd as well.
I set out on the internet this morning to find support for a personal premise: The existence of unenforced laws undermines respect for those laws that are enforced. The experience caused me to recognize an unacknowledged subsequent premise: Individual liberty is enhanced in a law-abiding society. For some time now I have thought the first premise was a call to action in furtherance of the second premise but then I questioned the validity of that objective, and of the second premise itself.
Slate magazine published, in October 2007, a rather wide-ranging compendium of unenforced law discussion by Tim Wu.
He addressed the drug war, illegal immigration, copyright, polygamy and more. Wu seems to conclude that non-enforcement is good for America. Not, as I would attempt, in furtherance of greater liberty but of "the economic interests of the nation."
Immigration policy is perhaps the strongest example of the ways in which tolerated lawbreaking is used to make the legal system closer to what lies in the economic interests of the nation but cannot be achieved by rational politics. All this is why the Bush administration faces an uphill battle in the course of trying a real internal enforcement strategy.
I tend to agree with this conclusion but I attribute as cause the very American attitude of individual liberty amongst voters who won't tolerate a heavy hand against individual workers and employers. More to the point is what this does to our representative government. Since our legislatures cannot achieve rational laws our judiciaries and our executives, at both state and federal levels, exercise discretion in which laws are enforced and to what extent. This appears, at first, to be a good outcome since the forces that guide the police and the courts are those of public opinion which derive, in turn, from individuals. We effectively have 300 million citizen legislators. However, this system has (at least) two major flaws.
First is the disparate influence on the legal system from concentrated versus individual interests and the tyranny of the majority. Allowing the trial lawyers lobby, the AARP and SEIU to dictate which laws are left to wither (and which to be bolstered) is no boon to liberty.
But worse yet, the ability of government to "get" any individual on some trumped up charge whenever it is "necessary" is a hallmark of totalitarian states.
At the federal prosecutor's office in the Southern District of New York, the staff, over beer and pretzels, used to play a darkly humorous game. Junior and senior prosecutors would sit around, and someone would name a random celebrity--say, Mother Theresa or John Lennon.
It would then be up to the junior prosecutors to figure out a plausible crime for which to indict him or her. (...) The trick and the skill lay in finding the more obscure offenses that fit the character of the celebrity and carried the toughest sentences. The, result, however, was inevitable: "prison time."
It's one thing when government lawyers make selective prosecution into a drinking game, but quite another when used as a tool of coercion and intimidation. In the name of liberty, laws to prevent "injuring a mail bag" have no place in a just society. Liberty is enhanced when laws are obeyed, but said laws must first be not just objective and knowable but also justified in the cause of protecting individuals from others and not from themselves.
AURORA -- Two men were shot dead Thursday inside an apartment where they apparently planned to rob a man and a woman they thought to be marijuana growers, police said.
The couple were both critically wounded. Their child, a toddler, escaped the gunfire.
Marijuana is, for all intents and purposes, legal in Colorado. If you want it, you can get it or grow it with virtually no fear of prosecution. The Refugee was under the impression that if we made drugs legal, drug-related crime would end. What gives?
When the SWAT team came for Richard Paey in 1997, officers battered down the front door of the Florida home he shared with his wife and their two children. Paey is a paraplegic who uses a wheelchair after a car accident and a botched back surgery. He also suffers from multiple sclerosis. Paey was accused of distributing the medication he used to treat his chronic pain, even though there was no evidence he had sold or given away a single pill. Thanks to Florida's draconian drug laws, he was eventually convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Queue the ThreeSources chorus of "well, mistakes are made and we cannot discontinue enforcement because of one bad [Judge | Cop | Prosecutor]..."
The problem, as Radley Balko explains is that the prosecutor in question still brags about this case and is now a candidate for Judge in Florida and is so far running unopposed. The good news is that Governor Charlie Christ (Weasel - FL) pardoned him after "only" four years.
NOBODY was harmed. The absolute worst thing that possibly happened (and it is disputed) is that an MS-suffering paraplegic in chronic pain after a car crash and botched back surgery may have forged a prescription to get pain medication. Thankfully they got prosecutors in the Sunshine State who are not afraid of the tough cases,
I see no reason that a man in this condition should be denied his medication or his freedom.
My John Stuart Mill argument for ending drug prohibition did not, as I recall, win over all ThreeSourcers to full legalization based on self-sovereignty.
I might try one more time on a more pragmatic matter. I had linked to Blog friend tg's CATO video "Ten Rules for Dealing with the Police" notable more for exposing perceptions about the police. John Stossel had John McWhorter on his show last night. McWhorter's belief is aligned perfectly with mine: take away the job of selling drugs on the corner.
My conversion, I admit, came not from some great libertarian tome, but from Richard Price's novel "Clockers." I wanted -- like McWhorter -- to expunge that profession from the face of the earth. Stossel writes a column on McWhorter's column in the recent CATO letter.
McWhorter sees prohibition as the saboteur of black families. "It has become a norm for black children to grow up in single-parent homes, their fathers away in prison for long spells and barely knowing them. In poor and working-class black America, a man and a woman raising their children together is, of all things, an unusual sight. The War on Drugs plays a large part in this."
He also blames the black market created by prohibition for diverting young black men from the normal workforce. "Because the illegality of drugs keeps the prices high," he says, "there are high salaries to be made in selling them. This makes selling drugs a standing tempting alternative to seeking lower-paying legal employment."
I invite the many who disagree to read McWhorter's complete column (pdf) and consider it in tandem with the video.
If we truly want to get past race in this country, we must be aware that it will never happen until the futile War on Drugs so familiar to us now is a memory. All it will take is a single generation of black Americans growing up in a post-Prohibition America for us to get where we all want to go. The time to end the War on Drugs, therefore, is yesterday.
No doubt brother br will chime in in support of the authorities, here. They were just doing their job, most milk patrol officers are good people, goat bites can be extremely painful, and drinking raw milk is not a victimless crime -- children may have to smell it if you get sick.
But for the rest of us, can we start with a little John Stuart Mill? I rolled my eyes at announcements that the FDA banned caffeinated alcoholic drinks. Not sure that's a good idea (I mean what would you drink to sober up?) but the wholesale theft of our sovereignty is deeply disturbing.
Jameson Hospital, where Isabella Rodriguez was born on April 27, has a policy of testing expectant mothers' urine for illegal drugs and reporting positive results to LCCYS, even without any additional evidence that the baby is in danger of neglect or abuse. LCCYS, in turn, has a policy of seizing such babies from their homes based on nothing more than the test result. Unfortunately for Isabella's parents, Elizabeth Mort and Alex Rodriguez, Jameson sets the cutoff level for its opiate test so low that it can be triggered by poppy seeds, which is why two caseworkers and two Neshannock Township police officers visited their home the day after baby and mother returned from the hospital. LCCYS seized the three-day-old girl and put her in foster care for five days before conceding it had made a mistake.
The ACLU does not get a ton of love on these pages, but hip-hip-hooray, baby!
What kind of world lets a government take a new baby from her parents? Based on a goddam drug test? Even if the test was not a false positive -- hands up those who think the child is better in foster care. Mandatory drug tests for parenthood?
I've only one question mark remaining: Citizens or Subjects?
Blog friend tg suggests that everybody in America should see CATO's video "Ten Rules for Dealing with Police."
We had some good natured persiflage on his comments page as to whether the wonky CATO introduction was better than the short documentary they screened and highlighted (I took the affirmative).
But I suggest ThreeSourcers watch it for a different reason. It highlights drug prohibition's exacerbation of race relations. The officer after makes the claim we could "end racism" by ending the drug war. I don't think I'll go that far, but I will suggest:
Aggressive drug policing makes residents feel disconnected from their communities.
This deracinated populace has no reason to contribute to a community, city, state, or country that they are not a part of.
Without policing drug crimes, police could establish better relations with lower-income communities and enjoy greater cooperation and participation.
I'm guessing ThreeSourcers are going to hate this video. It teaches Constitutional rights, but it is presented through a prism of institutional and police racism. I'd challenge you to disagree if you want, but realize that these feelings are prevalent. And that they are perpetuated thanks in part to drug prohibition.
RELATED TOPIC; My blog brother jg offers another "trade" for drug legalization in a comment below. This time, he offers to accept legalization in exchange for privatization of education financing. Milton Friedman would be proud: vouchers and ending prohibition.
I'll accept either half of that deal and love both. But I again think he misidentifies the polity for legalization. Are the teachers' unions the obstacles to ending the drug war? Maybe they are but I do not see it that way.
I will say that I am stunned from my representative sample of the population. I agree with a populist, Limbaugh-listening relative and his überprogressive daughter. I have bonded with libertarians, liberals, and a large smattering of conservatives. Yet the opposition around ThreeSources surprised in its ferocity. I still think there is a plurality for it. But the distribution and different reasons preclude it -- and make jg's legislative bargains particularly difficult.
Thirty-seven-year-old El Paso City Council member Beto O'Rourke, a father of three, told me that before witnessing the slaughter of his neighbors and the economic decline of his city, he'd never really given the drug war much thought. But in 2008, after more than 1,660 murders, the city council sponsored a resolution condemning the violence with an amendment he offered "calling for an open and honest dialogue on ending the prohibition in this country." The resolution passed 8-0, but the mayor vetoed it on the grounds that it would make the city look bad in Austin and Washington.
When the council tried to override the veto, Mr. O'Rourke says council members received phone calls from Democratic Congressman Sylvester Reyes that "basically threatened [the city] with loss of federal funds if we continued with this resolution." Mr. Reyes's office says it only sent a message that in a moment when the congressman was trying to garner stimulus funds for El Paso, the resolution "wasn't helpful." The override failed by two votes.
"Am open and honest dialog" threatened the city's esteem in Austin, Washington, and in the take-a-number-please line for Federal Jack.
Meanwhile across the Rio Grande, "Since the beginning of this year, more than 2,200 people in the city have been murdered. Since 2008, the toll is almost 6,500. On a per capita basis this would be equivalent to some 26,000 murders in New York City." This is causing, Mary Anastasia O'Grady asserts, conservatives in Texas and Catholics in El Paso to rethink Drug Prohibition that they have heretofore supported.
Sleep easy tonight, parents, the children are now safe!
Last night the United States Senate voted to double the penalties for the nation’s newest existential threat: brownies made with marijuana!
The Senate unanimously passed Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)’s “Saving Kids from Dangerous Drugs Act of 2009″ (S. 258) that targets pot brownies and other marijuana edibles preferred by some medical marijuana patients. The bill next moves to the House; if it passes that chamber, anyone making pot brownies or similar products could be subject to double the fines and jail time for regular marijuana.
Senator Feinstein (Grassley's in too, maybe if they used corn sweetener instead of sugar...) is afraid this will lead to "candy flavored meth."
Hat-tip: NRO Corner. Andrew Stuttaford gets a Headline-of-the-Day for Another Fine Meth
40 years ago, President Nixon declared a war on drugs, but what has it achieved? Police forces that increasingly resemble paramilitary forces, breaking down doors, holding families at gun-point, killing the family dog...over small amounts of marijuana. Drug gangs are funded by the high profits that come from black market smuggling. All to stop people from getting stoned?
On my FBN show tomorrow (Thursday @ 8pm & midnight ET), I'll debate some of that with Fox News' Sean Hannity. In my syndicated column today, I explain why I think that drug laws cause more harm than drug use.
Fairness dictates that I share a movie review with my ThreeSources brothers and sisters.
On the recommendation of my truther buddy, I put "How Weed Won the West" on my Netflix Queue. Wasn't sure what to expect, but I took a flyer. Watching their argument for the decriminalization of marijuana, I am tempted to call up Bill Bennett and sign up. "Mister Secretary, I'm joining the war, where do I start?"
It was a paranoid-left version or reality that asserted that pot was illegal to enrich the corporations who run private jails, and that pharmaceutical firms were onboard because they can't patent it and it cures everything and makes all other "medicine" obsolete.
We are enlightened to all this by one bombastic talk show host, but mostly by a bunch of stoners who are always smoking onscreen out of giant bongs and wearing T-shirts with their favorite varieties. A few gang members and a professional female wrestler break up the monotony. No John Stuart Mill, a few bows to the possible revenue streams from a taxed and legal product, but basically two hours of naive losers. I give it a half star (and that's for the wrestler).
Our foray into militarized SWAT raids quickly devolved into an interesting discussion on drug laws. I'm all for it.
But back to the original question of the suitability of using paramilitary tactics on US citizens, I have to link to (those hippies at) Reason. Radley Balko gets a letter from a "US Army officer, currently serving in Afghanistan." I'll cede some selection bias in that he is writing to Reason Magazine, but this officer suggests that rules of engagement are far stricter in a war zone fighting suspected Taliban than in Missouri fighting US citizens who have a Constitutional presumption of innocence:
For our troops over here to conduct any kind of forced entry, day or night, they have to meet one of two conditions: have a bad guy (or guys) inside actively shooting at them; or obtain permission from a 2-star general, who must be convinced by available intelligence (evidence) that the person or persons they're after is present at the location, and that it's too dangerous to try less coercive methods. The general can be pretty tough to convince, too. (I'm a staff liason, and one of my jobs is to present these briefings to obtain the required permission.)
Oh, and all of the bad guys we're going after are closely tied to killing and maiming people.
UPDATE: Balko is cutting out the middleman and guest blogging at Instpundit this week. I fear It's going to be a long week for the conservatives around here. Y'all might want to join Glenn and take the week off...