With two federal watchdog agencies freeing the White House drug czar to
overtly influence state ballot initiatives, the Senate is poised to
reauthorize this anti-democratic exercise for the next five years - the
wheels greased by a ten-year total of $4 billion in taxpayer-funded
advertising designed to sway the votes of those who pay for it.
The General Accounting Office recently declared the Bush administration's
$22-million multimedia ad campaign touting new Medicare drug benefits to be
marred by "omissions and other weaknesses" though not downright illegal.
The GAO has also agreed to examine whether the administration's video news
releases with fake reporters promoting the Medicare changes violate laws
against government "covert propaganda."
[continues 2542 words]
By the way, the sex for drugs was with men. Or - saying he was
revealing details he'd told no one else - so Jayson Blair told me
Friday night, the two of us alone on a Harlem sidewalk following his
first public reading. The drugs were primarily cocaine, sometimes
crack and "a little heroin" to come down on. But cocaine was his
decided favorite. Blair said he was "born a decade too late" - that
is, after coke's peak. Regarding the sex-for-drugs, I asked only the
gender involved and whether any New York Times staffers participated.
With yet another of his grating, ingratiating giggles, Blair said no
about any Timesmen, "but that would've made a good story, hunh?"
[continues 2416 words]
America's New Patriot Act and Patriot II Trash the Constitution and Brand
Political Dissent As Terrorism.
America's war on Iraq, and now possibly Syria, has drawn public and media
attention away from the burgeoning state security apparatus focused on US
domestic matters. Those who think they know better than the rest of us have
set their sights on dissidents of all stripes, including afficionados of a
No matter the Marine Corps Semper Fi inked on your bicep, to indulge in a
bowl on your back porch brands you a dissident. In the broadest sense under
the post-9/11 regime, just about any crime is terrorism. If it's been on TV
it must be true: Drug use equals terrorism. Or so the White House has
instructed the citizenry to the tune of $150 million and more a year.
[continues 3315 words]
Drug reformers of varying stripes embrace different goals, from the
widely supported decriminalization of medical marijuana to relieve the
pain of cancer, wasting from AIDS, or the spasticity of multiple
sclerosis to the legalization of recreational pot, the distribution of
clean needles to addicts and the mandating of treatment rather than
incarceration for low-level drug offenders.
Though there's been scattered progress on these goals around the
country in recent years, overall, especially on the federal level,
interdiction and incarceration remain the goal if not always the
reality. Handcuffed by his foolish, glib remark about not inhaling,
Bill Clinton never dared veer from the prohibitionist mindset. While
George W. Bush gives lip service to treatment, on his watch Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents point rifles at Suzanne Pfeil,
a paraplegic in California. When she was unable to rise at the agents'
command, they handcuffed her to her bed while proceeding to destroy
the medicine growing in a garden outside. This is repression with a
decidedly uncompassionate face.
[continues 2003 words]
Drug reformers and concert promoters united a year ago to block
passage of Democratic Senator Joe Biden's Rave Act, which would have
subjected promoters and club owners to prohibitive fines for any but
the most incidental drug use at their events.
This year, though, Biden--who said the law was needed to deter drug
use and "protect kids"--attached it to the anti-child abduction AMBER
Alert bill, which passed in April.
It took about a month for reformers' fears to be realized.
[continues 952 words]
Although not quite a bloodied-nose defeat for House Republican drug
warriors, the Drug Czar reauthorization bill that was voted out of the
Committee on Government Reform recently was certainly, as one
congressional staffer put it, "a strategic retreat." By denying
Republicans bipartisan cover for the Office of National Drug Control
Policy's (ONDCP) controversial media campaign, committee Democrats
killed several onerous provisions of the pending bill.
Originally, H.R. 2086 had covertly extended ONDCP's authority to use
up to $1.02 billion in anti-drug advertising to counter state ballot
initiatives -- or even candidates -- the White House opposed.
[continues 1051 words]
House Republicans anticipated smooth sailing for legislation to
reauthorize the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
(ONDCP), including its controversial antidrug media campaign.
But Democrats rebelled in late May over provisions that would have
allowed drug czar John Walters to use the publicly funded advertising
as he saw fit to oppose state ballot initiatives or even specific candidates.
The ads, mostly on television, have stirred controversy since Walters
took over and began running strident drugs-equal-terrorism spots that
declare that personal use of marijuana supports terrorism.
[continues 924 words]
A House committee is marking up a bill on May 22 that could strike at
the heart of ballot initiatives nationwide, significantly undermining
the efforts of drug policy reformers.
A little-known segment of a bill reauthorizing the mission of the
nation's anti-drug agency could give the drug czar authority to use
taxpayer dollars to pay for media campaigns directly targeting state
If the bill passes, and agency chief John Walters uses public funds to
hammer initiatives the administration opposes, it would run counter to
the whole purpose of ballot initiatives, establish a disturbing
precedent for federal electioneering and hobble advocates pushing for
saner alternatives to the War on Drugs.
[continues 1046 words]
Groping for an indictment of Ed Rosenthal
from a California grand jury
veering out of control, Assistant U.S. Attorney George L. Bevan, Jr sought
some reply to a rebellious grand juror who'd just argued that most of the
jury had probably voted for the state's 1996 medical marijuana initiative.
Said this official of a federal government currently running roughshod all
over California, "Whatever, that's good."
And then this federal prosecutor admitted: "The fact of the matter is it
allows marijuana for your personal use and - to be cultivated, and if you
are the primary caregiver."
[continues 2679 words]
No, the White House anti-drug ads don't work, the latest, stealth report
from the federal government indicates. Commissioned by the Office of
National Drug Control Policy and conducted under the auspices of the
National Institute on Drug Abuse, it states: "There is no evidence yet
consistent with a desirable effect of the [Media] Campaign on youth."
Though this semi-annual report builds on the poor results documented
previously, the taxpayer-funded ads - despite their demonstrated inability
to keep kids from drugs - do serve any number of purposes. One new use for
the campaign made its debut during the year's high-profile advertising
showcase, Sunday's Super Bowl.
[continues 1718 words]
Did Drug Czar John Walters illegally campaign against a pro-marijuana
ballot initiative? Nevada's Secretary of State wants to know.
Derided by the White House as "nothing more than a cheap political stunt,"
marijuana advocates' attempt to hold Office of National Drug Control Policy
head John P. Walters' feet to the fire for his overt, taxpayer-funded
political campaigning against drug-reform state ballot initiatives bore
some small fruit this week.
Responding to a formal complaint from backers of the Nevada marijuana
legalization measure that received 39 percent of the vote in November,
Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller formally charged the nation's drug
czar to issue "a written response to the complaint" by January 27th.
[continues 988 words]
The Drug Czar's Latest Reefer Madness: He Claims That Marijuana Is 30 Times
More Powerful Than It Used To Be.
Marijuana lost big on Election Day. Nevada's pot legalization proposal took
only 39 percent of the vote. An Arizona decriminalization initiative did
little better with 43 percent. And a mere 33 percent of Ohioans voted for a
measure to treat instead of incarcerate minor drug offenders.
One reason for the ballot-box failure may have been the full-throttle,
anti-marijuana campaign tour by White House Drug Czar John P. Walters.
Walters, whose official title is director of the Office of National Drug
Control Policy, inveighed against the demon weed in campaign swings through
Ohio, Arizona, and Nevada (twice). At the heart of Walters' sermon: "It is
not your father's marijuana." Today's users, he claims, confront pot that's
up to 30 times stronger than what aging baby boomers smoked.
[continues 1041 words]
Proponents of Issue 1, the Ohio treatment rather than jail initiative, know
well the official opposition buzzsaw. Gov. Bob Taft's anti-initiative
campaign has been furious and effective, though the measure may still
squeak by. Following Friday's debate in Cleveland among Taft, the
Republican incumbent, and his Democratic challenger, Tim Hagan (as well as
Natural Law Party candidate, John Eastman), a prominent Ohio medical
marijuana activist claims she now knows what it's like to be physically
restrained by none other than Ohio First Lady Hope Taft herself.
[continues 3299 words]
On drug policy, the voting public has proven ready to lead spaniel-like
politicians by the nose, voting for one liberalization measure after
another. But government, state and local officials have begun a crusade to
scuttle reform initiatives around the nation.
Three wealthy drug reform proponents have backed a string of successful
state ballot initiatives across the nation. Focusing initially on medical
marijuana measures out west, billionaires George Soros and Peter Lewis and
multi-millionaire John Sperling have won 12 of 13 ballot measures since
1996. Their handiwork also includes Proposition 36, which mandates treatment
rather than prison for low-level drug offenders and was passed
overwhelmingly in California in 2000. Other activists have similarly
outflanked the officials who lag behind public opinion, and the reform
movement as a whole has won 17 of 19 ballot measures -- much to the chagrin
of drug warriors.
[continues 3917 words]
The Drug Enforcement Administration believes in starting at the top.
By shutting down two of the most aboveboard and righteous of
California's medical marijuana operations, the feds can perhaps
instill such fear that they free themselves from chasing the shaky and
the small-fry. Last October they shuttered the Los Angeles Cannabis
Resource Center, so respected that the city of West Hollywood
co-signed its mortgage and so open that it allowed Congress's General
Accounting Office in for a look.
[continues 2712 words]
Drug initiative backers with the contumacy to flank a laggard
government by appealing directly to the people are met yet again with a
covert, multi-state gathering of government officials planning partisan
electioneering on the public dime. And, given the presentation by the
Bush Administration's drug policy second-in-command - a job senior
enough to require Senate confirmation - the White House-backed effort
will apparently include government propaganda to sway the vote of those
who pay for it.
[continues 6661 words]
The small, influential Unitarian Universalist church has issued the
rather remarkable call to: "Make all drugs legally available with a
prescription by a licensed physician, subject to professional
oversight." That's one element - certainly the most controversial - of
the denomination's recent Statement of Conscience, all of it meant to
be taken at face value. Entitled, "Alternatives to the War on Drugs",
the statement was approved through a process of amendments, debate,
lobbying by drug reformers in and outside the church and, finally, a
formal vote at the Unitarian Universalist Association annual General
Assembly, held in June in Quebec City. It was passed by the required
two-thirds majority of the 1,500 voting delegates among the 4,200 UUs
(as they often call themselves) in attendance.
[continues 6358 words]
Rabid drug-warrior Bob Barr and the equally avid, though low-key, drug
warrior John Linder are in a dead-heat Republican primary this Tuesday in
Georgia's newly drawn 7th Congressional District. The question is, if Barr
loses how much credit can the national Libertarian Party claim?
The LP's fetchingly named "Incumbent Killer Strategy" has -- with good
reason -- targeted Barr as the drug war's point man. So the party has
purchased nearly $50,000 of airtime on metro Atlanta cable stations (with a
few ads on broadcast Fox and NBC slated for this final, pre-primary weekend)
for a wrenching, 30-second ad featuring a woman who's suffered from multiple
sclerosis for 31 years and is obviously in the last stages of a painful
[continues 2698 words]
Advertising Age columnist Richard Linnett's article (6/10/02) on my
recently published work demands a response. He wrote of my months-long
study published by the Washington think tank, the Institute for Policy
Studies. It discusses the covert campaign - pursued by public employees
while on the clock - embarked on by the administration of Gov. Bob Taft
(R-OH) to defeat a treatment rather than incarceration initiative likely to
appear on the ballot in Ohio this November. It's modeled on a similar
ballot measure, Proposition 36, that passed overwhelmingly in California in
2000. Among other topics, the report discusses the supposedly apolitical
Partnership for a Drug-Free America's cooperation with the Taft
administration effort. Its URL: www.ips-dc.org/projects/drugpolicy/ohio.htm
[continues 1947 words]
Ohio Governor Bob Taft and the highest reaches of his administration have
embarked on a concerted, months-long effort to subvert the state's
electoral process. With overall control of budgets, jobs and sentencing
policy at stake, the Taft administration has organized a sophisticated,
sub-rosa campaign to defeat a drug treatment rather than incarceration
amendment likely to appear on the ballot in November. Starting last spring,
Gov. Taft himself, First Lady Hope Taft, his chief of staff, Brian Hicks,
two of his cabinet members and numerous senior and support staff have -
while on the clock, ostensibly serving the public - conceived and directed
a partisan political campaign.
[continues 900 words]