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November 2009
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Odds and Ends and fireworks

bullet image A stimulating and explosive point-counterpoint at CBS between retired Superior Court Justice (and LEAP member) James P. Gray, and Drug Free America Foundation’s David Evans (who looks like, if he could loosen up a little, the father on That 70’s Show).

Gray has the patience of a saint in dealing with Evans. Evans avoids all the tough questions, keeps going back to his talking points without responding to Gray’s rebuttals, and then, when backed into a corner, accuses Gray of not documenting his assertions.

bullet image Ben Goldacre has a scathing critique of the UK government’s position that science can only go so far in crafting drug policy, and then it has to be simply a political decision (regarding the Nutt sacking).

He points out a list of ways public policy science can analyze drug policy to make informed decisions — as opposed to the government’s apparent ‘pull it out of their ass’ approach.

If you wish to justify a policy that will plainly increase the harms associated with each individual act of drug use, by creating violent criminal gangs as distributors, driving the sale of contaminated black market drugs, blighting the careers of users caught by the police, criminalising three million people, and so on, then people will reasonably expect, as a trade-off, that you will also provide good quality evidence showing that your policy achieves its stated aim of reducing the overall numbers of people using drugs.

[Thanks, Kent]

bullet image Marijuana may be able to help with bi-polar disorder.

bullet image Somewhat frustrating article by John Cloud in Time: Is Pot Good For You?. It’s well researched, and has a lot of excellent information. It’s not taken directly from prohibitionist’s talking points, and it gets a lot of information from drug policy reformers.

But it continually takes the “on the one side/on the other side” approach even when not warranted. Sort of like saying “The round-earthers show pictures and evidence to support their view, while the flat earthers counter with tales of ships never heard from again that must have fallen off the edge. Clearly more evidence will be needed to resolve those differences.”

Here’s a frustrating example:

Data on cancer also generate mixed conclusions. A 1999 study of 173 patients with head and neck cancers found that pot smoking elevated the risk of such cancers. (Smokers of anything should also worry about lung cancer.) But it’s not clear that THC is carcinogenic. The latest research suggests that THC may have a dual effect, promoting tumors by increasing free radicals and simultaneously protecting against tumors by playing a beneficial role in a process known as programmed cell DEAth.

OK, a relatively good ending. But why specifically cite a 1999 study of 173 patients, without specifically citing the much more definitive study of thousands of patients in 2006?

Or take this analysis of the supposed lack of medical science supporting medical marijuana:

The A.M.A. issued a report last year summarizing the body of knowledge about medical marijuana. It’s shockingly slim. […]

The A.M.A. concludes that the lack of “high-quality clinical research …continues to hamper development of rational public policy” on medical marijuana. Which raises the question, Why, after five millenniums, doesn’t such research exist? Two possible answers: First, the government may have rejected cannabis studies to avoid any challenge to its view that pot is dangerous and medically useless. Second, pot may just be dangerous and medically useless.

???

bullet image Jay Ambrose has a particularly unintelligent OpEd for Scripps Howard News Service: Believe it or not, there are drawbacks to legalizing drugs. You know this is going nowhere when the two people Ambrose turns to for support are James Q. Wilson and John Walters.

With more drug use, Wilson says, will come more people on welfare, more traffic deaths and more ruined marriages.

That’s just the beginning. Because they so decisively unravel our self-control, drugs can render us more likely to do all kinds of things we wouldn’t otherwise do.

Half of all those arrested for committing violent crimes were under the influence of drugs, says John Walters, former director of the Office of National Drug Policy.

He cites this startling statistic: 80 percent of all child abuse cases are drug-related. So this is the great libertarian cause — increase child abuse in America? The obvious fact is that use of illegal drugs does more than harm just the user.

That’s just embarrassing.

I love the conclusion.

And Mexico? Walters observes that decriminalizing marijuana there has hardly put the violent drug gangs out of business.

Wow. First of all, it’s been, what, a couple of months? And anyway, decriminalization wouldn’t put the violent drug gangs out of business. Nobody has said it would. What it would take is legalization (not decriminalization) in the U.S. (not Mexico) to make a serious dent in the violent drug gangs’ financial support.

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17 comments to Odds and Ends and fireworks

  • Chris

    I saw that drawbacks article earlier today.. ugh. So pathetic. So typical. Why must they always have a conclusion that makes no sense? The entire article talks about legalization of drugs, then they move to decriminalization to make a point that does not follow. Mexico will have drug cartels so long as there are illegal drugs and a demand for those drugs. They decriminalized tiny amounts and (if I recall correctly) increased penalties for small time dealers. If anything, the new law has strengthened the cartels.

    And do I even have to mention that decriminalization of the demand while leaving the supply illegal does nothing to the cartels? This would be obvious to anyone who had done any research before writing an article, but he just called up his good buddy John Walters apparently.

  • kaptinemo

    Another rather chilling castigation of a basic fundamental philosophy governing our lives:

    “He cites this startling statistic: 80 percent of all child abuse cases are drug-related. So this is the great libertarian cause — increase child abuse in America? The obvious fact is that use of illegal drugs does more than harm just the user.” (Emphasis mine -k.)

    I’ve been following a certain trend amongst the so-called ‘progressive’ blog sites, and am now seeing that trend being adopted by right-wing authoritarians, and I find it very disquieting.

    Everyone knows that words have power. But the original meaning of a word can be changed through deliberate warping of its’ meaning by attaching values to it that it normally would not possess, and thus make the word mean something different from the original.

    A long time ago, the word ‘conservative’ used to mean that such a person was intent upon ‘conserving’ rights and liberties from encroachments upon them by The State. Now, modern ‘conservatives’ worship prostrate before The State’s altar, and engage in witch-hunts against all those who do not share their beliefs. They seek to use the power of The State to enforce rigid adherence to their beliefs…in diametric opposition to what a traditional ‘conservative’ used to believe.

    Thus has the meaning of the word changed, because those who stole the word for their own use were not ‘conservatives’ but wished to be identified as such because the original meaning of the word granted a them a power they could not have acquired honestly if those who had valued it identified their true intent and blocked them.

    The same thing is happening again, and it could have dire consequences for all who value cognitive liberty.

    Notice how both the authoritarians and the (putative) ‘progressives’ have been dragging the word ‘libertarian’ through the mud? And yet, the basic fundamental principle of our form of government, intended for us by the Founders was…libertarianism.

    I’ve contended before that this is no accident. It appears a campaign is underway to smear the word and anyone who espouses such ideals in order to acclimate the public to greater tyrannies…just as those who commandeered the word ‘conservative’ did. This is especially dangerous for those who favor cognitive liberty, such as drug law reformers, for what is cognitive liberty but libertarianism in practice?

    Those who excoriate the tenets of libertarianism are playing with fire, for in doing so, they endanger the rights of not only others but themselves as well. For those rights are the basic fabric of our society, and to call those rights into question as they do, and by intentionally fomenting a belief amongst the public that the underlying principle of those rights are invalid, they in essence nullify those rights.

  • kaptinemo

    And, in an aside, asking Johnny Pee his opinion of matters dealing with drug prohibition to me has all the weight ascribed to the ‘testimony of farm animals sought during the Spanish Inquisition’s witch hunts. Being an inveterate liar, it’s pointless to regard anything he says as having any value.

  • ezrydn

    The Mexican decrim law was never targeted toward the cartels. It’s purpose was to reorient the police view from the causual user to the higher ups. Mexico figured out that it was not good to put their younger population in jail by the multitudes. It also goes a long way to bring a little respect to the community for the police, since they’re not dragging kids away now. In Calderon’s speech about the decrim bill, he actually said it was “for the children.” He specifically mentioned the youth that would be spared by this bill. It was never intended as a strike against the cartels. But, what to you expect from news people up there? They don’t report. They only cut and paste.

  • same back and forth shit over and over and over.

    that’s why the pictures are so important.

    less talk, more eyeballs

  • DdC

    This is an unexpected surprise. Did we win?

    AMA Ends 72-Year Policy, Says Marijuana has Medical Benefits
    The American Medical Association voted today to reverse its long-held position that marijuana be retained as a Schedule I substance with no medical value.

  • DdC

    Fired UPS driver’s suit claims he wouldn’t deliver pot
    Mike Martindale / The Detroit News
    A former United Parcel Services driver is suing the delivery company, claiming he was fired in August after deciding not to deliver a suspicious package that later turned out to contain marijuana.

  • cabdriver

    I really, really mistrust the motives of John Walters.

    He’s been around too long not to realize that his arguments have been refuted repeatedly, often to his face.

    Yet he persists in offering whatever sort of demagoguery and weaseling he can come up with, no matter how discredited.

    There’s something sneaky and illegitimate about it. He’s targeting the gullible.

    I don’t think he believes any of it himself.

    I also have a strong suspicion that he’s sufficiently dialed in to the networks of power in this country to know full well that the “national security establishment” of the U.S. government has an extensive documented history of countenancing large-scale drug smuggling rings and granting impunity to them, when it suits their political aims.

    That’s a sketchy combination.

  • cabdriver

    As for James Q. Wilson: at this point, he has an entire professional career built on his assumptions about the “pathological” culture and lifestyles of urban black neighborhoods, and how to best deal with them- while never once performing an honest full-scale review of the role of the political economy of the illegal drugs trade in those communities. Not once, in his entire career. He prefers to trade in moralisms and homilies.

    That neglect is sufficient to consign him to the sad role of academic quack.

    Any number of scholars who have incorporated a full accounting of the economic role played by illegal drug markets in pressured urban black neighborhoods could, in a properly moderated debate, clean his clock.

    But James Q. Wilson is one of those Media Darling Professors- one of the very few academics entrusted by the American Media to provide “scholarly insight and perspective” on American social problems. Quack though he may be.

  • DdC

    Walters gives tax shelters to corporations and then funds Calvina and other Propaganda groups. Plus pisstasting and forced Rehabs. All based on his fictional book Body Count with xczar Bennett and x faith based rehaber Diullio. Predator kids on BC super pot ravaging neighborhoods. It is also a covert fund for Iran Contra seed money. To think their bottom line is a higher priority than Americans safety and well being is the stuff of Traitors and should be dealt with as such.

    Present Drug Czar John P. Walters criticized ABC News for reporting on the Montgomery case. Walters showed no concern for Montgomery but rather complained, “Apparently ABC couldn’t find a grandmother on death row for carrying a roach clip…”

    Philanthropy Roundtable
    John P. Walters President
    The Philanthropy Roundtable is a national association of individual donors, corporate giving representatives, foundation staff and trustees, and trust and estate officers. The Roundtable is founded on the principle that voluntary private action offers the best means of addressing many of society’s needs, and that a vibrant private sector is critical to creating the wealth that makes philanthropy possible.
    Copyright 1997-2001 by the Philanthropy Roundtable

    “Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.”
    From Benito Mussolini
    “London Sunday Express,” December 8, 1935

  • R.O.E.

    “Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.”
    From Benito Mussolini
    “London Sunday Express,” December 8, 1935

    You know damn well that these lessons of the past are used today. How easy it must be to convince people they are living in a ‘free’ society.

    Heres some common sense to counter this type of thinking.

    I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

    Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have … The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

    We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826), letter to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816

    A little rebellion now and then…is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826), Letter to James Madison, 1787

    If none of these quotes ring true to you, you are truely un-American.

  • ezrydn

    That David Evans looks vaguely familiar. I know I’ve seen him somewhere before. Ah, I know. “This Island Earth!”

  • Sukoi

    Judge Gray has been reading the good Kaptins’ postings:

    One more question: A few years ago, Florida Governor Jeb Bush spoke publicly about his family’s anguish that his two daughters were found to have a (I think it was a) prescription drug problem or addiction. And what he said was that his family needed privacy and understanding, and his daughters needed treatment. I completely agree, and I felt for all of them. So if WE have a problem (namely, us middle and upper class Caucasians), we need privacy and treatment. But if THEY have a problem (namely, the lower classes and people of color), they need jail! That is what is happening all over our great country. Doesn’t that fact bother you? If so, what do you propose we you do about it?

    OUTSTANDING!!!

  • kaptinemo

    @ EZ: LOL! Oh, jeez, you’re right! Only, he doesn’t have ‘Exeter’s sense of morality. He’s more like ‘Brak’, if you ask me.

    And I have an old VHS tape of that somewhere in my moving boxes. Gonna have to dig that out and watch it again when I finish. That and Forbidden Planet.

  • kaptinemo

    Sukoi, like I said last night, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see this. It’s one of those ‘Emperor sans clothes’ things that nobody in ‘polite society’ wants to say anything about. So, as Newton put it, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Dr. James Woodward, Rufus King, Stanton Peele, Carl Sagan, Judge Gray, and so many, many people who came before us. Those are the ‘giants’ of our movement whose shoulders we all stand upon. I’m just a Scots-Irish blarneymaster compared to them.

    As I said, the genie’s out of the bottle…and it’s not going to go back in without a fight. A very public fight. And Judge Gray’s obviously ‘loaded for bear’. I wouldn’t want to tangle with him, in or out of court. Let’s hope the prohibs remain as foolish as his latest opponent was…

  • ezrydn

    Kaptin,

    Him just need a widdle bitty Krel Brain Boost, that’s all. Glad someone else saw the resemblence besides myself.

  • kaptinemo

    EZ, he wouldn’t survive it. Not so much the procedure but, with the mental brain boost, the realization he’s been on the wrong side and has aided and abetted so much misery with his self-righteousness would make anyone normal suicidal from shame.

    That’s assuming he has a conscience to begin with. And if he turned out like Morbius? I don’t want that howling, bloodthirsty, deathless Id-thing running loose. Real prohibs are enough of a menace…