Posts from June 2006

Well, thank God #4

I just heard about this smashing victory in our glorious Crusade against Drugs this evening:

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Rush Limbaugh was detained for more than three hours Monday at Palm Beach International Airport after authorities said they found a bottle of Viagra in his possession without a prescription.

Customs officials found a prescription bottle labeled as Viagra in his luggage that didn’t have Limbaugh’s name on it, but that of two doctors, said Paul Miller, spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

… The matter was referred to the sheriff’s office, whose investigators interviewed Limbaugh. According to Miller, Limbaugh said that the Viagra was for his use, and that he obtained it from his doctors.

Investigators confiscated the drugs, which treats erectile dysfunction, and Limbaugh was released without being charged.

The sheriff’s office plans to file a report with the state attorney’s office. Miller said it could be a second-degree misdemeanor violation.

— Associated Press (2006-06-26): Limbaugh detained at Palm Beach airport

Well! Thank God for the narcs and the customs goons. If they weren’t there to rifle through your bags and take your pills at gunpoint, who would save us from the scourge of unauthorized erections? Who would protect us from old men having boners not in their own name?

Further reading:

Dr. Zhivago for the Day

Claire Wolfe watched David Lean’s 1965 film of Dr. Zhivago again the other night, and she posted a couple of favorite quotes–one from Uncle Alex, and the other from the anarchist Kostoyed Amourski. Wonderful lines, both of them. Here’s my favorite, though, from Zhivago’s meeting with a feared Red Army commander. I just wish that they were not so relevant to the daily business of politics in our own time:

Strelnikov: The private life is dead — for a man with any manhood.

Zhivago: I saw some of your manhood at a village called Mink.

Strelnikov: They were selling horses to the Whites.

Zhivago: No. It seems you burned the wrong village.

Strelnikov: They always say that. And what does it matter? A village betrays us, a village is burned. The point is made.

Zhivago: Your point. Their village.

You fasten all the triggers…

It seems that the new thing in higher education, since 2001, is the development of Homeland Security curricula. Many Universities not only have multidisciplinary academic programs organized around Homeland Security, but are even starting to offer Master of Arts in Security Policy Studies and Master of Homeland Security degrees. Peter Klein just posted to the LRC Blog about how he was recently asked to help develop the curriculum for a new Master of Homeland Security degree at the University of Missouri.

The first step toward challenging the horror of politics in our age is to demand that people have the decency to call things by their proper names. Maybe sometimes violence, even killing, is necessary; but when or if it is, then you ought to at least admit that that’s what you are advocating. So let’s cut out the Heimat bullshit and call this what it is: a Master of War degree.

Cue the Bob Dylan.

Prohibition kills

I saw this story splashed on the front page of the Detroit Free Press at the gas station this morning:

Teen’s life slips away in drug den

June 21, 2006

BY JIM SCHAEFER and KIM NORRIS
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS

Bloomfield Township teen Lauren Jolly clung to life for three hours after snorting a lethal dose of heroin in a Detroit drug house, but police say the man running the place wouldn’t allow anyone to take her to a hospital, the Free Press has learned.

After an ice bath and CPR failed to revive Jolly, 17, the night of May 24, the man, Donald Coleman, carried her to her car, police said. He allegedly then ordered another drug customer to drive Jolly elsewhere in Detroit, park the car and leave the body inside. Coleman gave the woman $30 to return by cab, police said.

But the woman, who is an admitted prostitute, instead took Jolly to St. John Hospital, where the Birmingham Groves High School junior was pronounced dead. When police arrived at the hospital, the woman lied and said she had found the girl passed out in a car near 8 Mile, police said.

— Detroit Free Press (2006-06-21): Teen’s life slips away in drug den

And what makes me so mad about this story is that I knew how it would end before I even read through it. Let’s set aside for a moment the currents (or riptides) of class issues implicit in this sort of front-page shocker — if you know how the suburb of Bloomfield relates to the city of Detroit, you’ll know what I mean. For now, I’d like to point out the way in which this girl’s death is immediately, unthinkingly used for a story about the heartlessness of drug dealers, and the narcs’ battle against the latest grave and gathering threat to the teenagers of the outer suburbs:

No one has been charged in connection with the teenager’s death, but federal and local investigations are continuing in the possible roles of both men and whether Jolly’s overdose was caused by a deadly mix of heroin and the painkiller fentanyl. Authorities have blamed fentanyl — which is many times more powerful than heroin — for at least 83 deaths in Wayne and Oakland counties this year.

… The investigation into Jolly’s death picked up steam over the weekend when state and federal officials spoke with several people connected with the drug house, including the prostitute, who told police she had lied earlier because she was afraid of Donald Coleman.

The woman now described going to the house on Keating to buy heroin and finding Jolly sitting unconscious in the dining room.

The woman told police that she learned that after Jolly took the heroin, Donald Coleman and others had put Jolly in the bathtub with ice cubes to try to revive her. Her wet clothes had been removed.

The woman said that the teenager eventually appeared to stop breathing. She and Donald Coleman then tried CPR, unsuccessfully, police said.

There were about eight people inside at the time, police said. Several people volunteered to take Jolly to the hospital before she died, but Donald Coleman wouldn’t allow it, police said.

… Heroin laced with fentanyl has appeared on the streets in cities from Chicago to St. Louis to Pittsburgh. It has drawn together local, state and federal law enforcement officials to fight it and even extended to Mexico, where a fentanyl lab was raided by Mexican authorities several weeks ago.

The growing threat also has gotten the attention of the Bush administration. Last week, Scott Burns, the deputy drug czar, attended a conference on fentanyl in Chicago.

— Detroit Free Press (2006-06-21): Teen’s life slips away in drug den

That’s right: it’s a scary world out there in Detroit, and you suburban parents had better keep an eye on your teenagers. The cops are looking out for them but they can’t do everything in the face of such a growing threat. The people pushing this stuff are the sort of heartless scum who would let a poor girl die of an overdose and try to dump the body rather than getting her medical attention.

It may very well be true that Donald Coleman is heartless scum. Some drug dealers are. But, even then, why would he try to stop the girl from being taken to a hospital? Many of his customers volunteered to take her in; Coleman even tried to save her life himself. But he refused to let her be taken to the hospital. Because he was afraid that if that happened, the cops would arrest him and send him to prison for dealing drugs.

If it were not for drug laws, and the corresponding threats of violence, Lauren Jolly would have received immediate medical care, and she might very well be alive today. It’s not drugs that killed her, or even drug dealers. It’s drug prohibition that made Coleman was desperate not to get the authorities involved. Lauren Jolly is dead because drugs are illegal and drug dealers are constantly under threat from the police.

And yet, even though it is only because of drug prohibition that she is dead, and even though the fact that Coleman was trying to avoid arrest is so obvious that it doesn’t even merit mentioning in the story, her death is still being exploited by the narcs and their propagandists in the local press as yet another opportunity to stir up fear about the dangers of drugs and the need for ever-tougher prohibition.

Once again, the pigs who all but murdered this girl will use the human cost of their own failures as the excuse for even more widespread and invasive powers.

And around we go…

At almost this exact time last year, I wrote this in response to a petitioning campaign by MoveOn.org over proposed cuts to government grants to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Don’t get me wrong. I like PBS and NPR is just about all the radio I ever listen to. The issue here isn’t whether they should face a funding crisis or not; I hope that they don’t. Rather, it’s what you should do in the face of that funding crisis. MoveOn just invested an incredible amount of time, money, and energy into mobilizing a bunch of Progressives to whine about it in Congress and beg for the money back. Meanwhile, instead of signing an online petition, calling my Representative, and e-mailing my friends and colleagues to get them to shake the change cup with me, I shut up and put down a pledge of $10 / month to Detroit Public Television.

Now, if 1,091,509 people in MoveOn’s orbit had done what I did, instead of what they did, then by my calculations PBS and NPR would have $130,981,080 more money for programming in the upcoming year. More importantly, they’d have that $131 million no matter what Congress and the Senate decided to do.

You might claim that not everyone who gets MoveOn e-mails will put down a pledge, but a lot more people will put down a zero-cost signature. You might think that MoveOn just can’t command that kind of money. Well, that strikes me as making excuses: we are talking about the group that just threw tens or hundreds of millions of dollars (depending on the as-yet unreleased budget data for their 501(c)(4) branch) down the tubes for electable John Kerry just last year. But fundraising is tricky, and maybe they wouldn’t make as much as they might hope. But think it about it this way: when you give money directly to people doing good work, the economics of failing to meet your goals are different. Lobbying is, more or less, an all-or-nothing game, with very few chances for gains on the margin. Names on a petition may or may not make a difference; but if they don’t make a difference (and, frankly, it doesn’t look like they made much of one here) then the names and pious hopes that NPR and PBS got out of the campaign aren’t worth the electrons that they’re printed on. But if you don’t hit your targets in direct support, the contributions you did get are money in the bank, no matter what. If only half as many people pledged as signed the petition, well, then PBS and NPR would have $65,490,540 that they didn’t have before. If the average contribution was $30 instead of a $10 / month pledge, they’d would have $32,745,270. Maybe that will save Big Bird and maybe it won’t; but even if it doesn’t it’s a darn sight better and more secure than the nothing that failed petitioning campaigns produce.

There’s a general principles here worth mentioning; it’s a principle the Left used to care about. It’s called direct action, and the longer the Progressive wing of the Left keeps ignoring it — the longer that they spend throwing time and organizing effort down the tubes to beg the government to support the institutions that they like — the longer we are all going to be losers.

— GT 2005-06-25: Shut up and put up

image: a hamster runs on its wheel

Above: Mister Buckles is saving public broadcasting!

Hey, guess what showed up in my inbox last week? Quick! Everybody make a massive public outcry!

From: Noah T. Winer, MoveOn.org Civic Action
To: Charles Johnson
Date: 6/8/2006
Subject: Save NPR and PBS (again)

Everyone expected House Republicans to give up efforts to kill NPR and PBS after a massive public outcry stopped them last year. But they’ve just voted to eliminate funding for NPR and PBS–unbelievably, starting with programs like Sesame Street.

Public broadcasting would lose nearly a quarter of its federal funding this year. Even worse, all funding would be eliminated in two years–threatening one of the last remaining sources of watchdog journalism.

Sign the petition telling Congress to save NPR and PBS again this year …

Here’s what Winer was referring to:

Health research, school aid and social services for the poor would bear budget cuts under a bill approved by a House panel Wednesday. … The House Appropriations Labor-HHS Subcommittee approved the bill by a 9-7 party-line vote Wednesday …. The panel’s action also rekindles a battle fought last year over the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The bill would cut by 5 percent previously appropriated funds for the budget year beginning Oct. 1 and eliminate subsidies for educational programs and technological upgrades. The bill also fails to provide future-year funding for public television as is the typical practice.

— Andrew Taylor, The Guardian (2006-06-16): House Panel Cuts Health Research Budget

Four days later, Winer was ecstatic to report:

From: Noah T. Winer, MoveOn.org Civic Action
To: Charles Johnson
Date: 6/12/2006
Subject: Save NPR and PBS (again)

Dear Charles,

I just wanted to share some very cool news with you.

Over the last couple of days, over 300,000 people (including 80,000 who are totally new to MoveOn) have signed on to our petition to save NPR and PBS. That brings the total number of signers to over 1,400,000–making this not only our largest petition ever, but one of the largest petitions anyone’s done.

But the next vote in Congress will be as soon as tomorrow. To stop Congress’ budget cuts, we need to go even bigger: we’re aiming for 1.5 million of us to sign on by tomorrow. Can you join us by adding your name to the petition to protect NPR and PBS? It just takes a minute, but it’ll make a real impact.

The real impact that this made was to send over 1,400,000 copies of the following note to members of Congress:

TO: Your senators and representative
FROM: (Your Name and Email)
SUBJECT: Save NPR and PBS

Dear senators and representative,

(Your personal note)

Congress must save NPR, PBS, and local public stations. We trust them for in-depth news and educational children’s programming. It’s money well spent.

This strong show of public outrage produced the following real impact on June 13:

WASHINGTON — The House Appropriations Committee voted Tuesday to restore $20 million of proposed cuts in federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides money to local public television and radio stations.

The Bush administration originally proposed to cut about 37% of the federal funding for public broadcasting, and a subcommittee last week proposed a cut of $115 million, or 23%.

A net cut of $95 million, if passed by the House and the Senate, would go into effect Oct. 1. It would result in the elimination of some educational programming, including Ready to Learn, a literacy program, and Ready to Teach, an online resource for teachers, according to a National Public Radio spokesman.

Los Angeles Times (2006-06-14): Smaller Bite Sought Out of Corporation for Public Broadcasting

WASHINGTON (Hollywood Reporter) – The House Appropriations Committee voted on Tuesday to slash funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and refused to fund the service for 2009.

— Brooks Boliek, Reuters (2006-06-14): House panel votes to slash public broadcast funds

Meanwhile, I shut the fuck up and made an annual contribution to my local PBS station at the $40 membership level. If those 1.4 million people in the MoveOn orbit had done what I did, instead of what they did, public broadcasters would now have over $56,000,000 to put in the bank, no matter what Congressional Republicans say or do or think about it. The time, energy, and money wasted on throwing 1.4 million nearly identical notes about money well spent managed to salvage a bit more than a third of that in reductions to the budget cuts, and it leaves PBS and NPR at the mercy of next year’s round of government budgeting. (Oh, but don’t you worry–when that happens I’m sure that MoveOn will mount another massive public outcry to save PBS and NPR again, again.)

We can do this ourselves, so quit begging. Shut up and put up.