Tuesday, April 14, 2015

New Drug War Follies column in Skunk magazine

My new column for Skunk magazine. You know, I was very lucky to be asked to contribute to Skunk about 10 years ago. And I've run my column, Drug War Follies, in all but a couple of issues--I think I was late with it twice and then in the hospital once or twice and didn't write one. Today, the latest issue came and I got to see what I wrote about 6 weeks ago and I was happy with it. I was reading it and thinking, Gosh, I wish I wrote that!--and then of course, realized I did write that. Silly, but still a good rush to be happy with work well done. So here it is, and the whole issue is great because it covers the Women of the Cannabis Movement. And when the editor, John V, announced who he was going to cover, lots of us in the movement longer than him--and he's a well-seasoned pro now--reminded him of names some people have forgotten that he then included. So while nobody asked me to tell you to go buy the current issue of Skunk, with the key cover line being Women of Weed, I'm still going to tell you to do it. It's a good time to tip our hats to hundreds of women who have worked ferociously to end the drug war, to lessen the pain of the drug war, to inform a lot of us of illnesses that cannabis can help treat in a body-friendly way. These are women who put their lives and freedom on the line and they are fantastically brave and if I was a soldier and had the right, I would salute them all. As I'm not, I can only say a very respectful, Thank you. Thank you very much for your work, your sacrifice, your hearts. 
    Here's my new column:
Drug War Follies #84

Those irascible Repubs! That incredible DEA! Hell, we almost got a flippin’ lovefest going on here. Not!

By Peter Gorman

Well, well, well. We sat on our asses while the gerrymandering went on. We sat on our asses during the last election cycle. And now we’re gonna pay the price here in the U.S.A. for that. You people up in Canada have your own problems with insane Conservatives, I know, but when it comes to outright idiocy, I think my Congressmen and Senators from Texas alone have all of the nutty Canadian politicos beat. Batty John Cornyn? Can-Tex Teddy Cruz? Little Louie Gohmert? That’s a Texas-sized six-gallon hatful of fucking crazy right there.
    So in case anyone is not keeping score--and I know I’m getting off the drug war tact here for a few minutes but this is important, so pay freaking attention!--the Republicans maintained control of the House of Representatives and took control of the Senate recently. And emboldened by what they see as the will of the people of the U.S. after that victory, they lost no time in pushing through several bills that would not just set us back 100 years, but would have us fighting the Civil War all over again while they ate popcorn and applauded the bloodshed.
    Yeah, okay, so what did they do?
    Well, first thing was pass a bill allowing the Keystone Pipeline to proceed full speed ahead. Why? Because they’re freaking stupid, that’s why. For years everyone with a brain in their general vicinity has been noting that the Alberta Tar Sands won’t produce jobs, will not provide any petroleum products to the U.S., and TransCanada won’t even have to pay taxes on moving it through the States because it’s being shipped out of the international free port of Port Arthur. Nonetheless, top of the agenda: Push the Keystone through, with Crazy John Cornyn still insisting it will produce 250,000 jobs. John, take off the tinfoil, John. Lay it down easy there, boy. Don’t hurt yourself.
   Okay, we knew they were gonna pull that shit because it will make Obama veto it and then the Repubs can claim the president is obstructing jobs. Yeah, all 35-40 of them, mostly going to TransCanada execs--unless you count the thousands of jobs we’ll create to clean up tar sands spills--which can’t really be cleaned up. 
   Then they went after the Affordable Care Act again, lodging the 57th lawsuit intended to overturn Obamacare. For those who forget, among the provisions of the ACA are 1) insurance companies must use 80 percent of the funds they bring in for actual medical care, not for administrative costs; 2) insurance companies cannot turn people down for a pre-existing condition; 3) insurance companies cannot set limits on the money they spend for a person’s treatment; 4) kids up to 26 are kept on their parent’s insurance policies. 
    Those four items alone make it a fantastic law. Which is why the Repubs want to repeal it so badly. Just an ornery, dumb bunch.
    Then they’re about to shut down the Department of Homeland Security because they’ve tied funding our border patrol to quashing President Obama’s immigration policies--so he ain’t gonna be signing that any time soon. By the way, those immigration policies simply say that the U.S. deport criminals here illegally before they deport illegal parents of legal kids who got citizenship based on having been born here. 
    Then they’ve introduced legislation to ban abortion after 20 weeks, regardless of circumstances.
    They’ve said they will call for states to receive block grants for education from the federal government which they can utilize for anything at all--they don’t want education funds earmarked for education. Isn’t that special? How to balance a state budget on little Timmy’s back, 101.
    They’re planning even more nonsense: after having used the Senate filibuster a record 315 times during the first six years of Obama’s presidency to prevent bills coming up for a vote, they’re now suggesting they change the rules to prevent any filibusters by the Democrats.
   They’ve introduced a bill that would make it illegal for the president to create new national parks or national monuments--the standard way in which those parks and monuments have been created for more than 100 years. Hell, yeah, who needs more protected green space when we can use that land to strip mine for coal and copper after we’ve clear-cut the trees?
   They’re about to introduce legislation that will allow employers to not provide full time employees with health care.
   Bills are being introduced to provide more corporate tax cuts. They want to privatize social security. They plan on allowing corporations to cut their contributions to worker’s pension funds. They’ve introduced legislation cutting worker disability payments and food stamps. They’ve introduced legislation to further gut restrictions on banks and investment firms so that greed can run unbridled into the night.
   See where this is going? Straight to hell in a hand basket. Every goddamned decent social cause and safety net, trampled on. Who are these people? I know they say “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” and all that, but a person cannot do that if they ain’t got boots. 
   I got issues with the president and the Democrats. They’re way too wishy-washy for me, way too centrist and not nearly bold enough or brave enough to push through real reforms that would transform the U.S. back into an innovative powerhouse. Hell, they can’t even get money to rebuild freaking infrastructure--which would not only save lives but produce millions of good jobs--so yeah, I got issues. But the guys on the other side of the fence--they really suck. They really like to inflict pain on the weak, the young, the old, the infirm, the powerless. Probably haven’t got a full-sized dick among them.
   Watch out below, because the U.S.A. is falling fast.

Ya know, I just can’t get over going to the DEA’s official website and going through their top stories now and then. I’ve said it before, but somehow I think their top stories are going to involve intercepting 10 tons of coke or a ton of heroin or 1 million oxycodone or something like that. I mean, we spend better than $3 billion a year on them and so I expect they’re going to do spectacular things. Now, personally, I want all drugs legalized, period. I do not want one more person losing freedom or property over drugs, drug dealing, for the rest of time. I want the private prisons closed, I want drug cops laid off, I want drug courts abolished. BUT, if you’re going to spend $3 billion on the DEA annually, you’d think their top stories would be pretty spectacular accounts of airplane chases, cigarette boat chases, warehouse busting, you know Miami Vice sort of stuff. But that’s just not how it is: On a recent Monday, the top national DEA stories, the ones they were touting to show what a great job they were doing included one story about two doctors in Detroit illegally prescribing oxycodone and Roxicodone to patients, then buying it back from them and selling it to street dealers. Another top story involved a deputy sheriff and her brother trying to sneak 36 pounds of weed across the Mexican border. A third involved an operation called Operation Safe Schools, which netted 19 small time dealers within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds in the South of Market district of San Francisco.
   Those are pretty small time busts. I mean, for $3 billion anyway. But at least there were no reports of wrong address killings or the like, so that’s good. But considering that tons and tons of cocaine are imported daily to the U.S. and Canada, and that probably a full ton of heroin comes in and tons of meth, well, either someone’s asleep at the wheel or the real dealers are very, very good at what they do. If we’d legalize, it would all go away. And the people who get in over their heads? We’ll we could give them maintenance drugs or offer them a free hospital bed with all the money we’d save. That’s the ticket and we all know it’s true. But embedded bureaucracy is tough to dislodge. One way to do it would have the President come out for ramping up the war on drugs 20 notches. The Repubs would immediately object and demand an end to the whole damned drug war.
It would all be funny if people weren’t dying and the prisons weren’t full.


Bill Freimuth said...

Bravo for putting it all out there so clearly and concisely, Peter!

Unknown said...

Brilliant. Well dialed in.