Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Teachers for sensible drug policy...

This is in no way nearly as important as getting John Walters to resign for illegally supporting 2006 Republican campaigns on taxpayer money (see these three posts). So I humbly request that you kindly take action on that issue before guffawing and/or muttering WTF at the picture below, which my good friend Nicholas Bishop provided as an illustration for this piece of sixth-grader devised silliness:

Love and peace indeed. Nice pin, Professor. Even if he does turn out evil, and even if no one else on this blog likes Harry Potter, at least he supports SSDP. (Did you take action yet?)

If John Walters were personally responsible for releasing HP spoilers, we could really get his goat. But I daresay that his corrupt actions and ideological campaigns that defy all sense of reason and compassion ought to rile up the public just as much, if not possibly more, than spoilers... even considering that it is the last book.

This is what illegal campaigning looks like...

"Drug Czar" John P. Walters with Representative Deborah Pryce in Columbus, Ohio, one of the "god awful places" Walters traveled to in order to illegally campaign for Republican members of Congress last year.

Tell Walters to resign.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Nation on Scooter Libby and nonviolent drug offenders

Katha Pollitt has an great, punchy column in the latest issue of The Nation. She uses President Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence as an opportunity to talk about the punishments that hundreds of thousands of Americans undergo every year after they are arrested for possession of marijuana or other drugs.

Writing to President Bush, Pollitt highlights the loss of student aid for college as a particularly devastating drug penalty:

But perhaps you are looking for one big compassionate gesture that would help a lot of people all at once and not require asking your friends and relatives embarrassing questions. With one stroke of your pen, you could pardon 200,000 young people. These are the youths who have fallen afoul of the drug provision of the 1998 Higher Education Act, which bars federal student aid to anyone convicted of a state or federal drug offense. That includes everything from government scholarships to work-study jobs. Unlike Libby, a middle-aged high-powered lawyer of considerable worldliness and wealth, these are just teenagers, who are famous for being idiots, and they violated laws that are broken every day by millions of normal, upstanding, productive citizens, including many Republicans. I don't think that can be said of lying to the FBI. Most people, even most Republicans, take that one pretty seriously. Also unlike Libby, these offenders have already paid their debt to society. Now they are dropping out of college, or not going--unless, of course, their parents can afford to pay full freight. Talk about unintended consequences--a law meant to warn kids away from drugs ends up keeping them out of college, but only if they're poor. You always say no child should be left behind. Pardon them, and people might begin to believe you actually mean it.

It's true. Students who rely on financial aid to pay for school are often forced to drop out immediately after being convicted of a drug offense, while the well-to-do often 1) can afford a good lawyer to avoid a conviction in the first place or 2) know someone who can commute their sentence.

If you think it's best that students with drug convictions stay in school and on the path to success - regardless of how you feel about Messrs. Bush and Libby - you can easily send a letter to your legislators asking them to overturn the aid elimination penalty.

Partisan Republican Drug Czar must resign

As we reported earlier, Congressional investigators have uncovered White House e-mails and documents showing that the U.S. Drug Czar and other staffers from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) spent taxpayer money traveling around the country to campaign for embattled Republicans in the months leading up to the 2006 elections.

In an e-mail from ONDCP White House liason Doug Simon, he commends Karl Rove for orchestrating the operation, and thanks other members of his office, including Drug Czar John Walters, "because they actually had to give up time with their families for the god awful places we sent them."

With such disdain for those districts coming from the Republican administration, is it really any wonder that Democrats swept Congress last November?

And it is not only offensive that an someone charged with crafting sensible policies to address the serious harms of drug abuse and drug prohibition would waste government resources and time on partisan politics, it is a blatant violation of the federal Hatch Act.

Hrmmm... political appointees abusing their office for partisan purposes. Sound familiar?

Please join us in calling for the Drug Czar to resign in the wake of this outrageous scandal. Just enter your e-mail address below and the rest of your info on the following page. A letter will be sent directly to the Drug Czar. And your members of Congress - who control ONDCP's budget - will be copied on the message.

Email Address:

Even if the Drug Czar doesn't listen to us, our lawmakers who are CC'ed on our messages will have to. Take action now!

BREAKING: Drug Czar spending YOUR money on helping friends win elections

It's 91 degrees Fahrenheit in the District of Columbia. And I have a feeling it's about to get a whole lot hotter for "Drug Czar" John Walters.

Today, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (one of my personal favorite committees), announced that the Office of National Drug Control Policy spent taxpayer money trying to get friends of the Bush administration elected last year.

At the request of Sara Taylor, the former White House Director of Political Affairs, John Walters, the nation’s drug czar, and his deputies traveled to 20 events with vulnerable Republican members of Congress in the months prior to the 2006 elections. The trips were paid for by federal taxpayers and several were combined with the announcement of federal grants or actions that benefited the districts of the Republican members.

A November 20, 2006, memo from Ms. Taylor summarizes the travel Director Walters took at her request. An agency e-mail sent the following day describes how Karl Rove commended the historically nonpartisan Office of National Drug Control Policy and three cabinet departments – Commerce, Transportation, and Agriculture – for “going above and beyond the call of duty” in making “surrogate appearances” at locations the e-mail described as “the god awful places we sent them.” Other documents include an e-mail from the Interior Department to Ms. Taylor’s predecessor stating: “these folks need to be reminded who they work for and how their geographical travel can benefit this President.”

...and his friends.

Walters is probably having a bad day. Not only is Congress likely going to cut his office's advertising and drug testing budget as they've done for the past several years, but Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman sent Walters a laundry list of demands related to the political motivations behind his travels.

Recite after me, Johnny. "I don't recall being aware of.... I don't recall being aware of..."

[Thanks, Sanho]

Harry Pothead: The Sorceror's Stoned

I need to be honest here: The seventh Harry Potter book is coming out on Saturday, and between now and Friday at midnight when I will be sporting a wizarding cape and lining up at Barnes & Noble (I think I'll dress up as a Death Eater to cause a hullabaloo), I plan on reading the first six books. Thus, it is really difficult to make a legitimate drug policy blog post without bringing Harry into it.

I'm not so embarassed about that, not even the cape part. What is embarassing is the fact that, circa 2000, I wrote a story entitled "Harry Pothead: The Sorceror's Stoned." I posted it on along with my other really horrible stories about Legend of Zelda, Harry Potter, and the X-men. (No, I am not providing a link here. Go find it yourself.) If you are not familiar with, that's okay; you live a relatively normal lifestyle. If you are familiar, then you are laughing heartily with me right now. Or at me. I don't mind.

It was basically reefer madness, Hogwarts style. I had forgotten what D.A.R.E. had taught me about how to ingest marijuana, so I simply made it "magical" marijuana so powerful that just being in a greenhouse with it could get you buzzed. I did, however, remember D.A.R.E.'s claims about the drug's effects. As in Reefer Madness, one mere toke got Jimmy I mean Harry hooked. Here are some excerpts:

From Chapter One, in which the plant is introduced in Herbology class and Hermione is too stoned to answer Professor Sprout's question:
"Marijuana, also known as 'pot', is a powerful, illegal drug that can be smoked or eaten. Its effects include dizzyness, violence, hallucinations, aggression, and loss of coordination. Using, holding, buying, or selling marijuana results in jail time and suspension from school," Lavender answered, sounding like she'd swallowed the D.A.R.E. workbook. [I actually did consult my old workbook for this.]

In chapter two, Harry gets hooked through a series of events involving innocent curiosity and a freak wand accident. Deus ex machina like whoa.

In chapter three, Draco Malfoy makes fun of the crazy things Harry did while high and consequently gets punched in the face by an unusually aggressive Harry.

Chapter Four and thankfully the final chapter, in which Fred and George Weasley drug everybody as a prank and the strung out Professor Trelawney saves the day thanks to her high tolerance:
"YOU DRUGGED UP DRACO MALFOY?" Hermione thundered, looking like a crazed angry rhinocerous. Then she started laughing insanely at something behind the Weasley twins.
"Yo dudes, what's shakin'? I'm feelin' some bad vibes, man," Snape said. He was wearing tie-dyed robes and his oily hair hung over his face.
"Yes we did, Hermione," George whispered. "But we didn't stop at just ONE little Slytherin first year... we had lots left, why waste it?" Everyone who heard this statement either eyed their goblets suspiciously or spat out their pumpkin juice in horror.
"Whoa, dudes!" Snape jumped in alarm as everyone sprayed him with their spat-out pumpkin juice. "Love and peace, man, love and peace."

Make of it what you will.

There was going to be a sequel, Harry Pothead and the Scent Dogs from Azkaban. That fic would probably more serve the drug policy reform side than the anti-drug propaganda side. Perhaps I shall redeem myself by writing it, or a different and more hilarious version of the original... but then I'd have to redeem myself again just for writing fanfiction, so I dunno. (Said the girl who's going to a midnight release in costume. Seriously, what do I have to lose?)

Monday, July 16, 2007

You know what's awesome?

I'll tell you what's awesome. What's awesome is pulling into the parking lot of your town police department, accidentally planting your drug policy bumper stickers in front of the surveillance camera, walking in to report a destroyed mailbox (lame), and handing the officer an invitation to the 2007 International Drug Policy Reform Conference. Oh, oh, and the best part is having him look at you through that tinted window trying to figure out if you're trying to swindle him. No sir. Not swindling. Look me in the eye, no swindling here.

It would probably be more effective if I were myself a police officer, but I did give a brief explanation and I did see him read the quote on the back of the postcard: "Of the hundreds of conferences I've attended in my career, this was the best." -Norm Stamper, former Seattle police cheif, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. And he did say thanks.

Seems unlikely that a little postcard will change the guy's mind about drug policy, especially since it's relatively early in his career, but I've been carrying those damn invitations around since they gave 'em to me at the SSDP National Office. So now I'm being the Johnny Appleseed of drug policy reform. Or the Jehovah's Witness, but with less doors slamming in my face.

So, what would you do with a pile of colorful, 5 1/2 x 8" invitations?

P.S. The summer '07 edition of SSDP's newsletter is out, didya read it?