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January 2012
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Kevin Sabet and the New York Times slammed

Thank you David Sirota.

How Americans really feel about drugs

A NYT op-ed uses “moderate” double-speak to deny the truth: Most people want marijuana legalized […]

The latest example of this insidious framing comes in the form of a Monday New York Times Op-Ed. The piece is written by Kevin Sabet, formerly one of President Obama’s top drug policy officials. Titled “Overdosing on Extremism,” he employs the “centrist” and “moderate” code words to criticize those pressing for reforms that, for purposes of law enforcement, would treat currently outlawed drugs such as marijuana just like far more dangerous yet legal drugs such as alcohol. [..]

Instead, he (and the New York Times editors and headline writers who published his piece) wholly ignores the indisputable facts and simply deems the millions of Americans in this pro-legalization majority as “extremists” — that is, he pretends that the position in the actual center of public opinion is on the extreme edge of that public opinion. […]

Taken together, Sabet’s goal in his Op-Ed is obvious: He’s a committed drug warrior with a vested (and, based on his Times billing as a “drug policy consultant,” possibly financial) interest in marginalizing those trying to end the drug war. To do that, he’s employed the most tried and true instruments of marginalization — the newly redefined notions of “centrism” and “moderate” policymaking. And he’s employed them even though the actual facts show that, in comparison to the mass public, he’s the fringe extremist.

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45 comments to Kevin Sabet and the New York Times slammed

  • Dante

    One correction (in all caps):
    “Instead, he (and the New York Times editors and headline writers who published his piece) wholly ignores the indisputable facts and simply deems the HUNDREDS OF millions of Americans in this pro-legalization majority as “extremists” —

  • ezrydn

    Just like the Dept. of HS (plug your own words in there) has deemed all war vets as “potential extremists.” When we win, I’d love to run into dear small-minded Kevin and ask him “What’s your margin NOW?” He must still be on his book tour.

  • Francis

    Finally got around to reading the Sabet op-ed. Couple of reactions:

    1) darkcyle nailed it: “Beware of anybody who enters a controversy or public debate and accuses everyone else there of being ‘extremists’. The cry of ‘where are the moderates?’ will invariably be followed with a presentation of THEIR position as the only truly moderate one. It’s a tactic, and not a very effective one at that.” Bingo. It’s a very tired, very lame, and very transparent tactic.

    2) There’s nothing inherently noble or praiseworthy about holding a “moderate” or “centrist” position on an issue. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with holding an “extremist” position. Also, what constitutes a “moderate” or an “extremist” position is changing constantly. Opposition to slavery was once an “extremist” position. Would my views on drug policy qualify me as an “extremist”? Maybe. But I’m damn proud to hold them. And my position gets LESS extremist every day — and that’s not because MY position is changing.

    3) In his effort to portray himself as occupying the reasonable center, Sabet sets up a dichotomy between “a few tough-on-crime conservatives and die-hard libertarians [who] make it appear as if legalizing drugs and ‘enforcement only’ strategies were the only options.” Um… I know LOTS of people who support legalizing drugs, and with respect to cannabis, that position is now the MAJORITY view. But I don’t know anyone who claims to support an “enforcement only” approach. Do you? Seriously, have any drug warriors come out against drug education and treatment programs and argued that those shouldn’t complement “enforcement”?

    4) Even though Sabet’s entire pro-“moderate” column is lame and disingenuous, I think it’s also encouraging in one respect. To set up his argument, he’s forced to acknowledge (at least rhetorically) that there are “extremists” on the anti-legalization side. Although the “extremist” position he identifies there is a complete straw-man, that’s still a concession. And the argument also implies a degree of parity between us legalizers and our opponents. The drug warriors are increasingly unable to deny that there is a real debate over this issue. And it’s a debate they can’t win.

  • darkcycle

    I’m still pissed there aren’t any comments at Sabet’s P.O.S.
    I’ll add this Francis, in our favor. That article, his very central argument, was so flimsy a smart sixth grader would cut it to shreds. I’ll note that went out in the NYT, The Nation’s Newspaper of Record. Not many of those readers will be swayed by his nonsense. Also, that sort of argument is a fawning, pleading failure. “Where are the moderates?” comes off much more like begging for mercy than like standing up on your own two legs and giving your opinion. It’s a weak, weak tactic that is really little more than thinly concealed submission.

  • primus

    Even though some readers of Sabet’s drivel may see through it, most will not partially because it reinforces their own preconceptions. NYT has many many more readers than Salon, so his message will unfortunately carry more weight. The only way to counter this is to have numerous rebuttals appear in the NYT.

    • darkcycle

      Those who share those preconceptions are fewer and fewer. And that was weak. Really, it was, I even think the prohibitioists who read it will be dissapointed.

  • Francis

    “a few tough-on-crime conservatives and die-hard libertarians dominate news coverage and make it appear as if legalizing drugs and ‘enforcement only’ strategies were the only options”

    The more I think about the Sabet op-ed, and the above excerpt in particular, the more absurd it seems. According to Sabet, one group of “extremists” thinks we shouldn’t be locking people in cages for using drugs. Period. (That would be us.) We’re told that there’s a second group of extremists who thinks our drug policy should consist ENTIRELY of locking people in cages (although again, I’ve never met anyone who fits that description). Apparently, the thoughtful, serious, and “moderate” position lies between these two “extremes,” i.e., we should keep locking people in cages for the non-violent, victimless “crime” of using (certain) drugs, but we should also do other things, you know, education, treatment, and crap like that. You might call it a “balanced approach” — if you were a complete tool and a paid apologist for this country’s worst and most systemic violation of civil rights since Jim Crow.

    • claygooding

      The Newt,,he wants drug transporters hung and all drug users locked up. I am so glad he was pummeled in Iowa.

  • HisHeadIsBendingLow

    I hear those gentle voices calling “Poor old Kev”

  • Francis

    One more thought. Sabet has been pummeled around the web for his lame op-ed by us “legalizers.” That’s to be expected. (We are “extremists” after all.) But if Sabet’s position really is a “moderate” one, and he really is flanked on BOTH sides by extremists, WHERE IS THE CRITICISM FROM THE OTHER SIDE?! Has anyone read any scathing indictments of the Sabet piece arguing that Sabet is too “soft on crime”? Where are the indignant rebuttals from all those extremist “tough-on-crime conservatives” who favor an “enforcement only” approach to drug policy, you know, the ones that Sabet courageously distanced himself from? Does anyone seriously think that if the NYT had allowed comments, a roughly equal amount of criticism would have come from each direction (presumably with a third group of commenters arguing that Sabet got the “balance” about right)?

    • darkcycle

      Straw men don’t speak. And ALL of the prohibitionists are using the current buzzwords “Balenced approach”. It isn’t even a good straw man. If you plan to attack a straw man, it is helpful if you can make your audience believe he’s real, if only for a moment.

  • darkcycle

    Oh, yeah,….uh-huh,…that’s right. Can I have an AMEN, Brothers and Sisters?
    Cannabis can reduce morbidity and mortality for neuropathic pain patients using medication to cope with pain, and this study suggests it should be tried PRIOR TO opiates in these cases:
    http://www.harmreductionjournal.com/content/pdf/1477-7517-9-1.pdf

  • darkcycle

    They’re certainly not timid. This global drug company is blatent in the U.K. with their support of “per se” laws. Of course they stand to profit handsomely, but They don’t seem to be bothered one whit by the conflict of interest:
    http://www.thisiscroydontoday.co.uk/Expert-panel-delay-new-drug-driving-law-decade/story-14334988-detail/story.html

  • darkcycle

    WONDERFUL!!! A BRAND NEW VENUE in which to vent our spleen. No funnin’ this looks to be funny as hell!:
    http://stopthedrugwar.org/speakeasy/2012/jan/05/strange_new_website_attacks_mari

    • darkcycle

      *Hysterical laughter* Bwahhh-haaaaa-haaaa-haaaa!:
      http://www.thoughtful-living.org/

      • Duncan20903

        .
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        Medical merrywanna is majick! Don’t give yore money to that Peeter Louis who’s almost Gorge Soros! Leegilicing pot is bad!

        It really was a sad day when Mr. Darwin retired. The phrase “too stupid to live” is an anachronism nowadays.

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .
      Several months back my wife got some bad news about her cholesterol from one of her regular blood tests. Nothing particularly extreme. As a matter of fact I was amused that the doctor described it as very low high cholesterol. Anyway changes in diet were recommended. Even though I was surprised that doctors can actually recommend non-prescription treatments we decided to take it seriously. Since I’m in charge of food in our house and have never suffered from high cholesterol that meant I had to learn about cholesterol, where it comes from, how to avoid it if needed so as to not overdose etc. This wasn’t that hard but after studying its specs for the first time in my life I’m inclined to think that vegans are actually on to something. Cholesterol comes from animals almost if not exclusively. It appears to have no redeeming dietary value. The RDA seems more accurately described as the recommended daily maximum to avoid health consequences. I found it shocking just how many things you’d think vegetarian which are actually lousy with animal parts and therefore cholesterol. Jell-O is animal product? Who the heck knew you could actually have 100% beef Jell-O?

      • darkcycle

        Duncan, just think back to your highschool biology class. Gelatin is usually one of those “Oooh, ick!” lessons that occur regularly in the learning process.

        • Duncan20903

          .
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          I majored in cutting class in high school. I only got my high school diploma because the administration forced me to take one. Social promotion, what a concept.

      • darkcycle

        I wonder, is it wrong to enjoin them to eat nothing but Bacon Cheeseburgers until their arteries are completely clogged, and their blood is more like chicken schmaltz than any sort of recognizable fluid? We might rid ourselves of some ilk.

  • Peter

    Re: Thoughtful-living.org
    “Thoughtfulness” writes like a none too bright 15 year old. One of his/her main beefs with “pot smokers” is that they “want to get caught…”

    • claygooding

      I have thought of that Peter,,and although we didn’t want to be caught,,being caught is what has jammed up our judicial systems and loaded up our prisons so much that people are starting to wake up

  • claygooding

    Drug bust busted,,cops killed and wounded,,perk wounded,,I knew this was going to happen sooner or later and I am surprised it took so long,,searching news,,happened in UTAH.

  • claygooding

    Father: Suspect in deadly Utah police shootout had PTSD, depression, may have been using pot

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/police-6-officers-wounded-in-ogden-shooting-no-reports-of-fatalities/2012/01/05/gIQATcPobP_story.html

    OGDEN, Utah — Search warrant in hand, a team of bulletproof vest-wearing officers rapped on the door of a small, red-brick Utah house, identifying themselves as police. When no one responded, authorities say, the officers burst inside. That’s when the gunfire erupted.

    When it was over Wednesday night, a 7-year veteran officer was dead and five of his colleagues were wounded, some critically. The suspect, an Army veteran whose estranged father said suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and may have been self-medicating with marijuana, was injured.

    They want to know what went wrong,,,try looking at a mirror,,this was not a drug dealer,,he appears to have been growing his own medicine but no verification on that.

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .
      Don’t they call that a “good start”? Usually when I hear about things like this I’m really disappointed in the lack of talent with firearms. Considering the bullet proof vests this doesn’t seem to be an issue in this one. Amazing that a team of supposed professional law enforcement paramilitary wannabes with all their firepower couldn’t hit this guy.

      Remember the story just recently about the 250 teens busted in Nevada on their bus trip to Utah, then let go because of lack of resources? I posted a link here to a Utah MSM. The comments were full of foaming at the mouth Know Nothing prohibitionists stuck in a time warp. One actually used the word “pusher” for crying out loud. I think we can expect apoplexies, conniption fits and urgent calls for death penalties and multiple life terms in prison for the poor man. I think this is going to be a clusterfuck.

      • claygooding

        He may get off,,or should. He was not a drug dealer,he was in his home,possibly asleep,,when thay kicked his door in,instead of a scared pot head growing marijuana they found an Iraqi veteran in the combat mode growing his own medicine to treat ptsd..

        • kaptinemo

          I’ve said several times here in the past that sooner or later this would happen. Sooner or later, the over-confident cops would run up against someone who’s used to dispensing real violence. And here it is. And it will happen with increasing frequency until things change.

          In an aside, I am reminded of something Solzhenitsyn said:

          ““And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”

          I don’t hold that we reformers deserve everything that happened to us. We have tried to warn others, for decades we’ve tried. But if our fellow citizens are indifferent about the health of the ‘canaries in the mineshaft’, namely, those who are trying to warn you about the slow, steady suffocation of your rights, then you most assuredly do deserve that jackboot on your neck…repeatedly.

  • Peter

    Jan Brewer MMJ suit overturned followed by great video recap-ing Obama’s statements on medical cannabis before he was elected and the reality of his administration’s actions in California
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/05/-jan-brewer-medical-marijuana_n_1186781.html

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .
      Okra iced, that may be the scariest picture I’ve ever seen. I actually crossed myself involuntarily when I saw her. Holy shit how the heck did she get elected? Do you think she had the snakes removed surgically or did they just run away when they saw her face?

  • Francis

    OT: But have you guys seen this video?

    Dude in Audience: Would Jefferson or George Washington have been arrested for growing marijuana?

    Gingrich: I think Jefferson or George Washington would have strongly discouraged you from growing marijuana, and their techniques for dealing with it would have been rather more violent than the current government.

    Thank God the Newt bubble appears to be over.

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .
      Doesn’t stuff like this make anyone think that involuntary conscription by random lottery to fulfill the duties which today are fulfilled by elected public officials just might be worth considering? At least we’d have a half a chance of getting a decent cross section of the public into office? Is a 1 in ~200 million chance that Newt ends up POTUS really a deal killer?

      Perhaps we don’t draft the office holders directly, but we do draft candidates and then vote? Regardless, this election stuff just isn’t working right.

      • kaptinemo

        WRT to the business of ‘drafting’ pubic officials, I prefer a different tack. In Heinlein’s ‘Terran Federation’ from Starship Troopers, you don’t get to vote unless you’re willing to serve the Federation in any capacity (only 5% were military, most were civil service ‘clerks and jerks’) for 2 years…after extensive, intensive psych screening. Sociopaths of any stripe need not apply.

        I guess that would ‘weed out’ (pun intended) the worst of the bullied-boy LE sohl-juh wannabes who get hard-ons at the mere thought of doing to their fellow citizens what was probably done to them in childhood. A pity we don’t have that in real life.

      • tensity1

        Yeah, I wholeheartedly agree. You’ve mentioned this before, and I’ve thought along these lines, too.

        Though I’d prefer the idealistic selfless volunteering of enlightened citizens in a model republic/democracy, I’ve figured out that’s just bullshit. We’re human, after all.

        The setup you propose would at least give a better cross-section of the citizenry than just the power-, money-, and influence-hungry hominid assholes who typically seek “leadership” positions. Even better, I’d hope such a setup would eliminate most of the money–thus, corruption–from the political system.

        Call yourself a citizen? Then learn and participate in the political process, common man. Even better . . . support the troops? Then serve in empire’s wars when called upon, young scion of the rich and elite. Things might just get balanced concerning the interests of various segments of society–but I ain’t holding my breath.

  • claygooding

    Santorum is no better and Hominy Romney isn’t addressing the issue.

    • claygooding

      EXCUSE ME,,selling 100 guns and tracking them to an arms dealer is intelligence gathering,,selling thousands of guns and not tracking them is gunrunning.

      And how many times since 2006 has the ATF asked for more budget to try and catch the people selling guns to Mexico?

      ;<)

      • Duncan20903

        .
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        It’s natural to try to run the competition out of business. It’s the way of the world.

      • darkcycle

        Clay, it’s more than just 100, the piece says 300, but it’s probably a good bet that there were more. The article says that “Early in the investigation, prosecutors had enough to charge suspects who had been converting firearms into machine guns, but law enforcement officials decided to wait, according to emails by personnel at ATF.” and later allowed those to pass into Mexco, then to the cartels. Then…gone. Because they wanted to look at vehicles..and locations.
        It later goes on to say that Mexican authorities were to be informed…but they weren’t. Darryl Issa said in the F&F hearings ““It is deeply discouraging that top Justice officials knew such details about problems in Operation Wide Receiver yet were still so quick to dismiss warnings from whistle-blowers [in Fast and Furious]”
        So, it was a complete wash and an utter cock-up AND it was a warning ignored when they went ahead with F&F. That’s some clever intelligence gathering.
        Clay, intelligence was why I was in CA. One basic rule always applies in intel: Never exchange useful assets for trash. Intelligence is supposed to work the other way ’round, old man. Unless, of course, you’re playing both sides…

        • claygooding

          F&F was an alleged 2000 guns,and F&F reported the guns were not followed,,the receipt for guns bought by an ATF agent in Phoenix is what started all this,,his complaint was that his boss “ordered” him to quit following the guns,,that is why he kept the receipt and the letter instructing him to buy the guns,,he did not want to be the patsy,,want to bet he is the only ATF that gets fired for it?

  • vickyvampire

    Yeah the moronic Drug war goes on to keep minorities enslaved and the pharmaceutical companies rich and powerful with there synthetic garbage drugs .
    Yeah I live in Utah will we ever get the whole true story on what happened to those cops they will blame pot on it and dangers that drugs pose our children. Some here are blaming the attorney general and chief of police in Salt lake and a few other authorities in Utah for being supportive of illegals for causing all these horrible gangs and drugs to destroy country, The cops are totally freaked here and crying I would not go near one they might be to trigger happy after this incident it has them freaked not kidding I afraid this state is a Mormon theocracy I’m still working on getting the fuck out of here.

  • darkcycle

    Hang in there V.V. I imagine it could be worse (I’ve been told I have a vivid imagination) 🙂