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August 2008




“bullet” Tonight someone searched Google for the words: Can they shoot you? … and it brought them to my site. Yes, they can. … “bullet” Lot of bodies piling up in Mexico. THEHIM’s thoughts are right on target:

Part of me really wants this issue to be discussed in the upcoming debates. The wiser part […]

Politics and power

Since you guys can’t get enough of talking about politics, let’s get another thread going here… “bullet” It appears that the St. Paul Minnesota cops are taking a break from their armed home invasion drug raids and instead doing armed home invasion preemptive protestor raids. That’s right — they’re using armed assaults on people who […]

Open Thread

“bullet” NORML’s Allen St. Pierre delivers a smack-down to the ONDCP in the latest episode of the battle on The Hill. Go join the fun. “bullet” “drcnet”

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin

Breaking: It appears to be McCain-Palin (although that’s not confirmed as of this writing). She admits to having tried marijuana, but says she didn’t like it. Update: Confirmed.

Drug war contradictions in Bolivia

Must read: Bolivian Is an Uneasy Ally as U.S. Presses Drug War by Simon Romero in the New York Times

The refrain here in the Chapare jungle about Americans is short but powerful: ‹Long Live Coca, Death to the Yanquis!Š
So when President Evo Morales recently came to the area, raising his fist and shouting those words before his supporters, the irony was not lost on an elite wing of the Bolivian military that survives on American support.
‹We depend on the Americans for everything: our bonuses, our training, our vehicles, even our boots,Š Lt. Col. JosÚ Germ½n Cuevas, the commander of a Bolivian special forces unit that hunts down cocaine traffickers, said at a military base here in central Bolivia.

The contradictions abound…
Morales must protect the critical, historical, non-cocaine coca industry in his country or face the wrath of his people and the destruction of their economy. And yet…

For now, Mr. Morales and the United States remain uneasy bedfellows. Mr. Morales has been hesitant to sever ties with the United States, especially since it provides Bolivia with about $100 million in development aid each year. It also grants duty-free access for Bolivian textiles, an economic lifeline for his country.
On the American side, officials argue that a sharp increase in coca cultivation could drive more cocaine to the United States, even though it is currently a negligible market for Bolivian cocaine. A deeper reason may be that the antidrug money gives them a rare window into Mr. Morales‰s government.

Yes, of course, the use of anti-drug money to control other countries.

Indeed, Mr. Morales has said that the decades of American aid to Bolivia had as much to do with asserting control over puppet governments as with fighting drugs or helping people. Earlier this year, he dissolved an intelligence unit that received American money, and he announced that Bolivia would stop sending officers to receive combat training in the United States.

Of course, America complains about Bolivia, even though Bolivia is trying to balance responsible use of coca with cooperating with the U.S.

Coca cultivation has increased during his two years in office, but instead of booming, it has simply climbed, up 8 percent in 2006 and 5 percent in 2007, according to the United Nations.
That still places Bolivia far behind the world‰s largest coca producer, Colombia. Despite being the Bush administration‰s most ardent ally in the region, Colombia had a 27 percent increase in coca cultivation last year, and remains the top source of cocaine smuggled to the United States.
While American officials publicly congratulate Mr. Morales for keeping cultivation from exploding, they are privately pointed in their criticism. ‹Let‰s put it this way: It‰s going in the wrong direction,Š said an American official at the United States Embassy in La Paz about Mr. Morales‰s drug policies, speaking anonymously because of tense relations with Bolivia.

Yes, complain about Morales, complain about Chavez, when the largest cocaine source in the world is in territory supposedly controlled by a U.S. puppet. (Interestingly, so is the location of the largest illegal heroin source.)
Our foreign policy is so dysfunctional and juvenile. We’re ridiculed worldwide behind our backs for our stupidity, even as countries make supportive noises to collect their drug war handouts so that we can spy on them. And if they don’t collect their handouts, they face our wrath.

Crystal Meth Intervention….

… the Musical!

See more Kristin Chenoweth videos at Funny or Die

From the folks at Funny or Die

The Democratic Convention is over

… without any mention of drug policy (except from protestors)
And, as Matt Welch notes, the Democratic Party Platform does not contain the words “drug war,” “war on drugs,” “Fourth Amendment,” “marijuana,” or “cocaine.”
And my reaction is… “whew.”
Because, quite frankly, I knew that nothing resembling reform was going to come in a party convention. For some strange reason, the political masters consider it to be more politically dangerous than using euthanasia to abort gay immigrant assault weapons in a vegetative state.
So, if there was to be any mention of drug policy, it was more likely to be a “we need to get tougher about drugs in our streets” charge, which pleasantly, I did not hear.
But it’s nice to dream what it would be like if politicians could talk about drug policy reform. I imagined it at various moments through Obama’s speech tonight…

It‰s a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect. […]
Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. […]
The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. […]
I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less š because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.

The principles that our politicians espouse are not incompatible with drug policy reform. It’s just that the notion of drug policy reform is incompatible with politics.
On that note, it was interesting to read Paul Armentano’s post about Nancy Pelosi’s recent confrontation regarding medical marijuana.
Pelosi said:

“We have important work to do outside the Congress in order for us to have success inside the Congress for [the] use of medical marijuana. … [W]e need peoples’ help to be in touch with their members of Congress to say why this should be the case.”

Paul Armentano’s reaction:

I humbly submit that those of us who work ‘outside’ the so-called ‘hallowed halls’ of Congress have done our part. It’s now time for our federally elected officials, in particular Speaker Pelosi and Democratic Presidential Nominee Obama, to pledge to do theirs.

The thing is, I believe that both Paul and Nancy are right.
Paul’s right — we’ve done the work, we’ve made the case, we’ve done more than enough for our elected representatives in a fair world to take on the charge.
But, annoying as she is, and as frustrating as it is that she is unwilling to make the sacrifice to put if forward, Pelosi is also right. And it’s not about medical marijuana. It’s about drug policy reform as a whole. Throughout history, there have been a handful of issues that fit in this same predicament. The politicians are never going to lead in this area. Once the people have risen up with overwhelming outrage, the politicians carefully, slowly, haltingly, will shuffle into line behind them. Only when the people hold the politicians accountable for the damage caused by the drug war will Congress find their courage.

Mayor: I need an army to fight a drug war

This editorial seems to be identifying some slight issues with the mayor….

Mayor Frank Paterra — who, by all indications, would not care if Charleroi slid into the Monongahela River as long as it did not involve crack cocaine — concerns himself only with his personal war against illicit drug trafficking. […] But in virtually […]

a/k/a Tommy Chong

I just watched the documentary on Tommy Chong that was released on DVD yesterday. It’s a very delightful piece about an American icon. I learned a lot about Tommy and his life, and even learned more about Operation Pipe Dreams (although I had followed it very closely at the time). It was amazing how […]

Oh no you didn’t

LEAP Becomes Latest Victim of Government Censorship

Arlington: Virginia – Retired police detective Howard Wooldridge, representing Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), was ousted from the National Asian Peace Officers Association (NAPOA) Conference in Crystal City because he was representing a view contrary to U.S. government policy.
LEAP is a 10,000-member organization of police, judges, prosecutors, DEA & FBI agents, and others who know ending drug prohibition will reduce death, disease, crime, and addiction, while saving billions of our tax dollars each year.
On Tuesday (8.26.2008) acting under pressure from unnamed federal officials, Reagan Fong, President of the NAPOA, insisted on the immediate removal of LEAP from the conference vendor roster. It appears that some of the event‰s other exhibitors took exception to the LEAP message and put pressure on the event organizer to expel LEAP from the event. While the incident was civil and took place prior to the second day‰s session it represents a serious violation of Constitutional rights as cited within the First Amendment.
Federal agency representatives manning booths at the conference included DEA, Federal Air Marshals, NCIS, and Coast Guard. The prior day LEAP‰s spokesperson had visited the DEA booth and described the agent as ‹decidedly unhappyŠ with an opposing viewpoint. In sharp contrast at 37 national and international law enforcement Conferences where LEAP has been allowed to exhibit, 80% of booth visitors agreed with LEAP‰s stance for ending this failed drug war.
As for the Crystal City NAPOA incident, the appearance of impropriety is almost as bad as the real thing. LEAP has attempted to establish contact with Mr. Fong, NAPOA President, to confirm the details of the incident but we have received no response so we can only conclude it is blatant censorship originating from a judgmental ‹Big BrotherŠ mentality. LEAP believes that this group owes us an apology. We ask that Mr. Fong identify the individual, agency or group that lobbied for our eviction from the event.
If this was an independent effort then he or she was acting outside the scope of authority and should receive administrative punishment for unprofessional actions. If this action was sanctioned by upper level management then the managers need to explain their behavior in an open forum. If this was sanctioned official action by the U.S. Government it is a serious matter which requires serious and immediate attention.

Now if only LEAP had some connections with people in law enforcement, or some judges, or lawyers or someone who could… Oh, right.
Not a very smart move on the part of NAPOA.
We’ll be waiting to hear what NAPOA President Reagan Fong (who works for Homeland Security) has to say.

[Thanks, Tom]