A Blue-Ribbon Panel, If We're Lucky

A couple of weeks ago, the Obama-Biden transition team's website solicited policy questions from the public. Over two days, the site "processed over 600,000 votes from more than 10,000 people on more than 7,300 questions," and this was the top question:

Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?

Obama's terse answer:

President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.

Not even the most optimistic reformer would have expected Obama to endorse legalization, or even to say that pot smokers should not be arrested. But it's noteworthy that he did not take the opportunity to reiterate his promise to call off the DEA's medical marijuana raids or his opposition to imprisoning first-time, nonviolent drug offenders. He evidently felt he could not afford to throw even the tiniest bone to critics of the war on drugs.

Despite Obama's discouraging response, and despite the prominence of unreconstructed drug warriors on his team, Esquire columnist John Richardson seems pretty optimistic about the prospects for reform under the new administration. I find his evidence unpersuasive. I'm not impressed by the fact that the billionaires George Soros, Peter Lewis, and John Sperling, who are major supporters of drug policy reform, backed Obama (and Democrats generally). They support the Democrats for various reasons, and I doubt Obama's drug policy proclivities were foremost in their minds.

The fact that Marsha Rosenbaum left her job as director of the Drug Policy Alliance's West Coast office to raise money for Obama is more encouraging, but it sounds like she's been getting a cold shoulder from the transition team when she tries to find out whom Obama might pick for drug czar. All the contenders Richardson mentions are hard-line prohibitionists. "He [Obama] said at one point that he's not going to use any political capital with this [drug policy reform]," Rosenbaum tells Richardson. "That's a concern." You think? Rosenbaum's big hope for the Obama administration is pretty depressing:

I'm hoping that what the administration will do is something this country hasn't done since 1971, which is to undertake a presidential commission to look at drug policy, convene a group of blue-ribbon experts to look at the issue, and make recommendations.

The last time around, the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, a.k.a. the Shafer Commission, offered a set of enlightened suggestions, among them that possession and nonprofit transfers of marijuana in small quanitities for personal use should no longer be treated as a crime. The Nixon administration ignored the commission's report. Last year a record 873,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses, the vast majority for simple possession.

Shortly after the election, I suggested that drug policy reformers should brace themselves for disappointment.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Nigel Watt||

    Of course he won't do anything about it. It's ludicrous that anybody even expected him to.

  • ||

    He evidently felt he could not afford to throw even the tiniest bone to critics of the war on drugs.

    He's campaigning for re-election; 2012 is right around the corner.

  • ||

    I think that his anti-war supporters will be even more disappointed.

  • </||

    Sullum on May 15 2008

    on this issue Obama is much better than John McCain

    What more do you hippies want?

  • ||

    It would be interesting if a president had the balls to go for drug legalization right out of the gate. If they could make it happen fast enough (which is unlikely, because they'd have to convince enough of Congress), there would be a few years for tax revenue, reduced crime, and reduced police state to really kick in. Once the sky didn't fall, people might realize Prohibition just got repealed, and it's a good thing.

  • BakedPenguin||

    What more do you hippies want?

    How about a government that recognizes the 4th, 5th, 8th & 10th amendments? Along with the Posse Comitatus Act, the concept of mens rea. etc, etc...

    The drug war is like any war, an excuse for government to expand its powers. The fact that it's unwinnable gives them a perpetual excuse for it.

    As for Obama, when compared those who sell drugs to terrorists in his Berlin speech, any honest person should have come to the conclusion that he was going to be more of the same.

  • 24AheadDotCom||

    Now, compare Reason's discussion of the questioning portion of things to my discussion of the question and the answer.

  • ||

    The fact that it's unwinnable gives them a perpetual excuse for it.

    Now THAT's a noble cause!

    And yes, it's gonna take a miracle.

  • Frank||

    "Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?"

    Even if the Federal government gave up prohibition, would it have the constitutional authority to regulate and tax it? Why not leave these matters to the states? Do we want to feed the leviathan or put it on a diet and chain it down?

  • Warty||

    Jesus Christ, lonewacko, shut the fuck up.

  • ||

    The War on Drugs is a huge pork-barrel scheme. The chances of Obama stopping that gravy train are basically nil. The best we can hope for is that he'll leave the home invasions to the local cops so that they get the PR hit instead of the DEA. They'll be all decked out with federal money, of course.

    -jcr

  • ||

    would it have the constitutional authority to regulate and tax it

    Of course not, but how long has it been since the feds cared what their constitutional authority permits?

    -jcr

  • ||

    The genius of Obama is that he's a human Rorschach test; without a significant record, people see in him what they want to see. Drug reformers aren't immune to this. Unfortunately, unless Obama is going to jump right to campaigning for 2012 (which actually might be best for all involved) he's going to have to actually start DOING things, and this means shattering a lot of people's self-generated images of him.

  • ||

    would it have the constitutional authority to regulate and tax it

    If the Supreme Court has already conjured up constitutional authority for Congress to prohibit it, surely it would have the same authority to regulate and tax it.

  • ||

    Jesus Christ, lonewacko, shut the fuck up.

    You beat me to it. LoneDipshit is usually amusing, but not today for some reason.

  • ||

    Episiarch, does your comedy know no bounds? How funny to imagine a world where the POTUS has to get enough of the Congress to go along with his decrees.

    As though the Pres couldn't just issue a signing statement or two, plus some executive orders, and a few actually constitutional pardons for any remaining druggers who get pulled in. Were that his inspired will, peace be upon him who occupies the Oval Office, Congress would go right back to writing earmarks and doing other things that no one pays any attention to.

  • Federal Dog||

    Critics of prohibition need to go at this from the other direction: Argue that the nation requires a consistent policy about intoxicating substances, including alcohol. Take prohibitionist logic about marijuana and apply it strictly to alcohol, then demand a reasoned basis for legalizing a dangerous substance like alcohol. Either they outlaw everything, which they will not do, or they will be obliged to state some grounds on which to justify use of alcohol, which is much more dangerous than marijuana.

    Press them hard, stressing the need for a reasoned, logic basis for exempting drugs like alcohol from prohibitionist demands. I have never seen anyone able to rationalize selective prohibition. At the very least, make them look like the hysterical fools they are.

  • ||

    ClubMedSux,

    If Obama were to spend the next four years just polishing up his Deepak Chopra act, that would be a far better outcome than I'm currently hoping for.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Press them hard, stressing the need for a reasoned, logic basis for exempting drugs like alcohol from prohibitionist demands.

    Are you betting on hell freezing over too?

  • Federal Dog||

    "Are you betting on hell freezing over too?"

    I am not betting on anything. I am merely suggesting that the most effective way to make the point is to insist on the extension of prohibitionist logic to alcohol. Let them explain why prohibition should not apply, then immediately apply their reasoning to a less dangerous substance than alcohol, like marijuana.

  • ||

    Episiarch, does your comedy know no bounds? How funny to imagine a world where the POTUS has to get enough of the Congress to go along with his decrees.

    I'm like the W.C. Fields of the drug war!

    "I never voted for anybody. I always voted against."

  • Kolohe||

    @fed dog-

    Politicians are able to hold two or more mutual exclusive ideas in their heads simultaneously?

    Inconceivable!

  • Invisible Finger||

    The war on drugs creates job, too. Mostly police and lawyers. And those are high-paying, low-productivity jobs. So the war on drugs will never end.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Reforming the drug laws, like gay marriage (or banning abortion, if you swing that way), will have to go forward on a state by state basis, with lots and lots of dispiriting two steps forward-one and a half steps back moments. the most that sensible people can hope for is a federal government that isn't furiously anti-drug, that will allow states to treat marijuana users tolerantly. If only we had a system to government that would allow each state to determine social policies for itself. But I guess that's too much to ask for.

  • Federal Dog||

    "Politicians are able to hold two or more mutual exclusive ideas in their heads simultaneously? Inconceivable!"


    That's the point: Let them explain that fact.

    Don't misread me: I know full well that idiots cannot be dissuaded from their idiocy. I am merely suggesting that the best way to argue against prohibition is to require prohibitionists to champion prohibition in a context in which prohibition is distasteful to them.

  • Federal Dog||

    "The war on drugs creates job, too. Mostly police and lawyers. And those are high-paying, low-productivity jobs."

    Don't forget the immediately-demanded forfeiture profits. Prohibition is a lucrative industry worth billions per year. So-called law enforcement personnel are the most important part of organized crime in this area.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Over two days, the site "processed over 600,000 votes from more than 10,000 people on more than 7,300 questions," and this was the top question"

    I find it hard to believe that with all that's going on with the economic recession, financial system crisis and all the resulting bailout issues that the number one issue in the general public's minds is legalizing marijuana.

    Sounds to me like a concerted campaign by the potheads to flood the website.

    It's not a response representative of the general public.

  • Kolohe||

    Don't misread me: I know full well that idiots cannot be dissuaded from their idiocy.

    Postulate 1: Most people are idiots.

    Postulate 2: Representative democracy is, nonetheless, the best form of government.

    Conclusion: DOOM DOOOM DOOOOOOOM!

    More seriously, look at the how popular smoking bans are. There really is no context where prohibition is 'distasteful', just where it is deemed impractical.

    I will say, it will be interesting if indeed a devolution to the states does takes place wrt mj laws (for which I am not holding my breath, so to speak). It will be a hoot to watch the states (most likely on the west coast) as the public policy trajectories tobacco and marijuanna cross paths.

  • BakedPenguin||

    It will be a hoot to watch the states (most likely on the west coast) as the public policy trajectories tobacco and marijuanna cross paths.

    For two years in the US, it was legal to buy heroin, but not legal to buy alcohol.

  • ||

    That's the point: Let them explain that fact.

    Drugs are bad, mkay?

    Alcohol isn't as bad as drugs.

    Now vote for me.

    Just don't ask me why that actually works.

  • Well Duh||

    Guess you all should have voted for Ron Paul.

    Then NONE of this would be an issue.

    But hey, we're all Happy in our fascist nation right? We've got a black guy for a president, what else could be better?

    >:)

  • Mike Farmer||

    It would have been a much better political move for Obama to appoint a committee to study the issue of marijuana legalization to get recommendation from experts representing diverse interests, legal, medical, law enforcement, social costs, ethics, etc.

    He could have still said no, but he could have at least considered the pros and cons.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Don't forget the immediately-demanded forfeiture profits. Prohibition is a lucrative industry worth billions per year. So-called law enforcement personnel are the most important part of organized crime in this area.

    Yep. With a spend-like-crazy government, the only way taxes could be lowered is by creating more criminals with strokes of the pen.

  • Russ 7300||

    7,300 questions

    What. The. Fuck?

    And Who. The. Fuck. would take the time to even LOOK at SEVEN THOUSAND questions?? No sane person would even think posing seven thousand questions to the general public is even a worthwhile idea.

    Bureaucracy on steroids.

  • ||

    The war on drugs creates job, too. Mostly police and lawyers. And those are high-paying, low-productivity jobs.

    And they can't be sent overseas!

  • Voton||

    It's especially unlikely that an old stoner like Obama is going to draw attention to his own "indiscretions" by legalizing marijuana.

  • Orange Line Special||

    Once again, if you haven't seen my discussion of BHO's scam soliciting questions from the public, here it is.

    You have to wonder about the IQs/sobriety of those who thought that was a good question and who thought they'd get a good answer.

    And, you have to wonder about those - like Reason - who just whine rather than coming up with a solution: asking better questions.

  • ERECTUS WALKS AMONG US||

    Guess what? Science has proven that blacks are not actually human. Read this book

  • ERECTUS WALKS AMONG US||

    Now that this has been proven, will Reason do an issue about how different racial types react to things like LIBERTY? Or will they go on pretending that there's some monolithic group called "man"?

  • MAX HATS||

    I am 100 percent in favor of drug legalization, but this is not the 90's, it's not 2000, it's not even 2003 anymore. Drug policy is not in the top five of our country's problems. I wish it were. I wish life was so good we could go back to arguing about blowjobs and prayer in school, but we can't. It's hard to overstate the issues of the day, their magnitude.

  • d||

    I suggested that drug policy reformers should brace themselves for disappointment.

    As is everyone else who expected him to actually live up to their hype.

  • bill||

    The question they should have asked is "Will you legalize industrial hemp?". That could also be a multi billion dollar industry.

    Anyway, Obama is a usurper. He's ineligible to be President because his father was a foreigner.

    http://therightwing.net/index.php/2008/12/09/the-natural-born-citizen-case-explained/

  • MNG||

    What we need on drug issues is something like the early court decisions legalizing gay marriage. If you remember back when the first ones of these were handed down the debate was not about gay marriage, hell not even about civil unions, it was about whether homosexuality itself should be illegal! Suddenly though even conservative opponents of gay marriage started to say "well of course we should'nt harrass these people with criminal laws, but they shouldn't marry, civil unions, maybe that's ok." The goal posts really moved.

    We opponents of the WOD need something like that.

    I should also mention that everyone who cares one cent about this issue should look into supporting this man for a run in 2012:

    http://www.garyjohnson2012.com/index.html

  • MNG||

    Shorter bill:

    He should have asked about industrial hemp instead. Also, I am crazy.

  • dirty hippie||

    hemp will save the planet

  • bill||

    Crazy like a fox.

  • the unregistered voter||

    Take prohibitionist logic about marijuana and apply it strictly to alcohol, then demand a reasoned basis for legalizing a dangerous substance like alcohol. Either they outlaw everything, which they will not do, or they will be obliged to state some grounds on which to justify use of alcohol, which is much more dangerous than marijuana.

    IIRC, that was pretty much the approach used in the '60s and '70s. The result is that smoking cigarettes is now all but illegal, the federal government has forced the states into a uniform drinking age, and the penalties for DUI and other alcohol related offenses have increased exponentially. "Which they will not do", my ass!

  • ||

    And the world looks just the same
    And history ain't changed
    'Cause the banners, they all flown in the last war

    I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
    Take a bow for the new revolution
    Smile and grin at the change all around me
    Pick up my guitar and play
    Just like yesterday
    No, no!

    I'll move myself and my family aside
    If we happen to be left half alive
    I'll get all my papers and smile at the sky
    For I know that the hypnotized never lie

    Do ya?

    YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

    There's nothing in the street
    Looks any different to me
    And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
    And the parting on the left
    Is now the parting on the right
    And the beards have all grown longer overnight

    I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
    Take a bow for the new revolution
    Smile and grin at the change all around me
    Pick up my guitar and play
    Just like yesterday
    Then I'll get on my knees and pray
    We don't get fooled again
    Don't get fooled again
    No, no!

    YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

    Meet the new boss!
    Same as the old boss!

  • Bob||

    I am merely suggesting that the most effective way to make the point is to insist on the extension of prohibitionist logic to alcohol. Let them explain why prohibition should not apply, then immediately apply their reasoning to a less dangerous substance than alcohol, like marijuana.


    Don't even need to work up a sweat:

    "Alcohol, even though it causes problems, should not be prohibited because its manufacture and use are accepted by society, and the proof of that is that the attempt to outlaw them was quickly reversed. Marijuana should be prohibited because its manufacture and use are not accepted by society, and the proof of that is the laws that have been in place so long; and because it causes problems for society, the proof of which is that many people continue to break the laws by manufacturing and using it."

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    @Bob: is that a cite-able quote, a synthesis of various talking heads, or a prediction?

  • ||

    @ClubMedSux | December 26, 2008, 2:25pm

    Yes, I wonder how Obama will handle this. When serving as a representative, he was able to duck out of the most controversial votes. As President, he'll have no place to run.

    Personally, I think we have nothing but more of the same coming for the next four years. Of course, Obama will blame pretty much everything he does on Bush, that is Bush painted Obama into a corner.

  • Paul||

    We're very close to the end of the War on Drugs... I can feel it.

  • 24AheadDotCom||

    I am the leader of the brave UndergroundResistance against the ComingTyranny of the BHO Regime. You "libruhtarians" should join me in my secret MethLab for further instructions.

  • Eddy||

    I'm rather fond of many of the answers in general. They start with something like "President-elect Obama is a strong supporter of Federal funding..." and "President-elect Barack Obama does not believe an economic crisis is an excuse for wasteful and unnecessary spending", presumably since spending doesn't need an excuse when it's for the chitlin. And no, "for the chitlin" isn't an excuse, damn it!

  • Lefiti||

    "Shortly after the election, I suggested that drug policy reformers should brace themselves for disappointment."

    Half-wit free-market fundamentalists should brace themseleves for perpetual disapppontment.

  • ||

    "erectus",

    When you were a little kid, did you insult the other kids to get them to kick your ass just so you could get some attention?

    Get some serious professional help. You don't have to be a racist prick.

    -jcr

  • Federal Dog||

    "Alcohol, even though it causes problems, should not be prohibited because its manufacture and use are accepted by society"

    "Just cuz" is not a reasoned basis for selective prohibition. Alcohol kills; marijuana does not. State a reasoned basis why a substance that kills is properly acceptable, but a substance that cannot kill is properly outlawed.

  • ||

    All I know is the sooner we get that moron out of office, the better off we will all be!


    Jess
    www.privacy-tools.at.tc

  • SIV||

    Alcohol kills; marijuana does not. State a reasoned basis why a substance that kills is properly acceptable, but a substance that cannot kill is properly outlawed.

    The PBRs in my refrigerator haven't killed anyone.The isopropyl in the medicine cabinet and denatured in the utility closet would profess their innocence as well,if they weren't morally neutral objects incapable of acting on their own.

  • Abner MacGillicuddy||

    So, bill, can you cite a source for this legal and constitutional theory of yours?

    Someone who knows some real law would help. Not some guy who ends his screed with "I warn, I am not a supreme court justice or a lawyer,..."

    Not that that was not readily apparent. But, seriously, someone needs to tell this guy that you put disclaimers like that at the BEGINNING of a piece, so that intelligent people know to not waste their time reading it.

    The protoKlansmen over at LGF and VDare don't count either.

    Hint: if you don't want people to think you're a racist don't keep company with them.

  • Swen Swenson||

    Law enforcement and prisons are major growth industries. You're in favor of industry, aren't you? With the economy being what it is right now we can't afford to do anything that would cause further damage! /sarc

  • ||

    This is really surprising, that is, the "BO doesn't support legalization." Not even a look at reform... Well, there's not much left other than same-sex marriage, which, I would venture that fewer Americans support than legalizing pot.

    Legalizing all recreational drugs would be easy and and a win-win: first of all, the jails would be be free of possession offenders, thus making room for violent criminals and folks like Bernie Madorff. Secondly, gang violence would all but disappear as their enterprise would become legit and thus there's no need to keep one step ahead of the law. Thirdly, be honest: if you commit a crime under the influence - just like DUI, etc. - you're going to be put under the jail. Finally, as long as you're not doing it in public (not everyone wants a contact buzz and such can constitute a public hazard as secondhand pot smoke can get you high and you don't want to drive the kids home from the beach when you're stoned).

    'nuff said.

  • ||

    This was my best hope for Obama.....to start scaling back the drug war.

  • Erectus Walks Among Us||

    Jcr,

    I tell the truth. You know that blacks aren't humans! If they were, how do you explain all their accomplishments?

  • ERECTUS WALKS AMONG US||

    Blacks are so pathetic. Nobody wants to see them on TV because of how incredibly ugly they are. And they complain about it! Do they have so little self-awareness that they don't know they look like (and have the genes for, click on my name!) apes?

  • Elemenope||

    Legalizing all recreational drugs would be easy

    No, it really wouldn't. Just because it's the *right* thing to do and would pay out dividends, both social and economic, over time, it does not follow that the transition or the following regulatory structure would be in any way "easy". It would likely be quite a mess for a few years while everything got sorted.

  • the unregistered voter||

    What we need on drug issues is something like the early court decisions legalizing gay marriage. If you remember back when the first ones of these were handed down the debate was not about gay marriage, hell not even about civil unions, it was about whether homosexuality itself should be illegal! Suddenly though even conservative opponents of gay marriage started to say "well of course we should'nt harrass these people with criminal laws, but they shouldn't marry, civil unions, maybe that's ok." The goal posts really moved.

    Really moved, indeed. And having been burned once, do you really think people are going to be stupid enough to fall for that line twice?

    Anyone who tells you slippery slope arguments are a logical fallacy is an idiot. Almost all of our political history could be described in terms of slippery slopes. Except that the slippery slopes have a way of getting ratified as "progress" after the fact.

  • ||

    Believing that anyone in the White House or Congress will stand up for decriminalization is a fantasy.

    Democrats, in particular, use the issue as a lure to get the stoner vote. And (surprise!) they fall for it every time.

  • VM||

    Warren:

    until the new boss lies to get us in war, tortures, etc, it's NOWHERE NEAR LIKE THE OLD BOSS.

    now, go to your room!

  • pc offender||

    Q. Why are Leftists always standing up for blacks and homosexuals?

    A. Because for all three groups their only God is their penis.

  • bill||

    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=169&invol=649

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0088_0162_ZO.html

    http://naturalborncitizen.wordpress.com/

  • Elemenope||

    Anyone who tells you slippery slope arguments are a logical fallacy is an idiot.

    That is true. They are not, generally speaking, logical fallacies.

    Anyone who misidentifies overshooting one's goal to have negotiating room as a "slippery slope" is also an idiot. Huh. Wonder what that means.

  • Bob||

    "Alcohol, even though it causes problems, should not be prohibited because its manufacture and use are accepted by society, and the proof of that is that the attempt to outlaw them was quickly reversed. Marijuana should be prohibited because its manufacture and use are not accepted by society, and the proof of that is the laws that have been in place so long; and because it causes problems for society, the proof of which is that many people continue to break the laws by manufacturing and using it."


    @Bob: is that a cite-able quote, a synthesis of various talking heads, or a prediction?


    It's a distillation of what's been said in various forms over many years. The names of other substances may be substituted, but it's starkest in the case of these two. Implicit is the concept that it's wicked for persons to deliberately choose marijuana when a similar product, liquor, has been approved by society. Because such persons are wicked, society must maintain sanction against supply of the material these persons choose.

  • Elemenope||

    ...is that a cite-able quote, a synthesis of various talking heads, or a prediction?

    Yes.

  • MNG||

    Unregistered voter

    Do you deny the marriage rulings radically changed the debate? I'm not asking you to agree that this was a good thing (though I think it was), just that it was a game changer.

    And I would think those who want drug law reform would want a game changer. I do.

    btw-the marriage rulings were not really a slippery slope. A slippery slope would be first allowing homosexuality (getting sodomy laws thrown out), then allowing civil unions, then gay marriage, and then of course man-animal nuptials (;)). But what happened here was leaping straight to gay marriage, which then made even opponents say ok to allowing homosexuality and civil unions.

  • MNG||

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/12/27/gaza.israel.strikes/index.html

    Since this seems to be the closest to a weekend open thread we have, I'll note that current estimates of the slaughter in Gaza is around 200 lives killed by the IDF in the usual collective punishment carried out very probably with weapons paid for by US citizens.

    I'm sure those who are horrified, horrified by the very concept of even mild versions of "collective punishment" (punishing an entire group for the acts of a few of that group), such as The Angry Optimist or Michael Moynihan, will report their outrage about this mass slaughter carried out against all residents of occupied Gaza (for the immoral acts of rocket fire on the part of some in that area) soon.

    Yeah, I'm sure.

  • ||

    You don't want drug legalization to happen at the same time as the largest Austrian business cycle crash in your lifetime anyway. Crime is bound to go up, and better to blame it on the depression.

  • Elemenope||

    Since this seems to be the closest to a weekend open thread we have, I'll note that current estimates of the slaughter in Gaza is around 200 lives killed by the IDF in the usual collective punishment carried out very probably with weapons paid for by US citizens.

    I'm sure those who are horrified, horrified by the very concept of even mild versions of "collective punishment" (punishing an entire group for the acts of a few of that group), such as The Angry Optimist or Michael Moynihan, will report their outrage about this mass slaughter carried out against all residents of occupied Gaza (for the immoral acts of rocket fire on the part of some in that area) soon.

    Yeah, I'm sure.


    While it is terrible, and Israel really deserves to get smacked for its relatively frequent overreactions, it's not like the crimes haven't been going back and forth for a long time. If it wasn't Jews killing Muslims for being in the way, it was Muslims killing Jews for approximately the same thing.

    The thing that I can't get past is why a group of people would work so hard to move back into a neighborhood absolutely lousy with people who don't like them. Doesn't make much sense to me. Must be a "God" thing.

  • Chubulor Corpulens II||

    Anyone who tells you slippery slope arguments are a logical fallacy is an idiot.

    The slippery slope is fallacious when used as a logical argument. It is however a very reliable description of human behavior (which no one should ever confuse with logic!).

    It is similar to the ad hominem attack in this way; while it is logically fallacious, people do tend to disbelieve people who are bad in some way.

  • Elemenope||

    The slippery slope is fallacious when used as a logical argument. It is however a very reliable description of human behavior (which no one should ever confuse with logic!).

    If we want to get technical, the "slippery slope" *is* a logical argument, just not a deductive argument. It is an inductive argument (a lay application of Bayesian mechanics). A whole different beast, at once more and less useful (and hey, at least it isn't a GIGO machine the way poor deduction is).

    Everyone always thinks Aristotle fucking put logic to bed, when he barely even scratched the surface.

  • the unregistered voter||

    @MNG

    Do you deny the marriage rulings radically changed the debate? I'm not asking you to agree that this was a good thing (though I think it was), just that it was a game changer.

    On the contrary - I'm affirming they were a game-changer. Which is why there are people like me, who happen to enjoy their drugs very much, thank you, who don't want to see them legalized.

    btw-the marriage rulings were not really a slippery slope. A slippery slope would be first allowing homosexuality (getting sodomy laws thrown out), then allowing civil unions, then gay marriage, and then of course man-animal nuptials (;)). But what happened here was leaping straight to gay marriage, which then made even opponents say ok to allowing homosexuality and civil unions.

    That isn't true. There were some residual sodomy laws on the books in some states that might have been thrown out post the gay marriage rulings, but the majority of them had already been tossed off of the books, or were at least no longer enforced, ever since the late '70s and early '80s. The residual laws were invalidated by the Supreme Court's Lawrence v. Texas ruling in 2003, which was in no way related to state rulings on gay marriage. The majority of them were indeed repealed long before the courts addressed gay marriage. Note the history of sodomy laws in the United States. The gay marriage issue is, in fact, a very, very good example of a slippery slope in action.

    @Chubulor Corpulens II

    Point taken.

  • BDB||

    "The thing that I can't get past is why a group of people would work so hard to move back into a neighborhood absolutely lousy with people who don't like them."

    For Jews, Elemenope, "a lousy neighborhood with people who don't like them" was pretty much, at one time or the other, the entire fucking world.

  • Elemenope||

    For Jews, Elemenope, "a lousy neighborhood with people who don't like them" was pretty much, at one time or the other, the entire fucking world.

    True, but not now, and not for about seventy years or so. Since the modern State of Israel is younger than that, I don't think that quite serves as an excuse.

    But I don't blame the Jews. Or the Muslims. I blame the British. Why the British? Because the disintegration of the worldwide British Empire created *every single major conflict area plaguing the modern world*.

    India-Pakistan
    Israel-Palestine
    Sri Lanka
    Iraq-Kuwait

    and, of course...

    Ireland-England

  • BDB||

    I blame the the guy that killed the Archduke of Austria. Then the Ottoman Empire wouldn't have collapsed, and the Turks would still be keeping order in Palestine and Iraq. Give the whole fucking thing back to Turkey!

  • BDB||

    I don't think (with the possible exception of Israel/Palestine) they created those conflicts so much as the British said "LOL it's been fun guys! BYE!" after WWII cause they realized they weren't going to be able to solve them.

  • Elemenope||

    I blame the the guy that killed the Archduke of Austria. Then the Ottoman Empire wouldn't have collapsed, and the Turks would still be keeping order in Palestine and Iraq. Give the whole fucking thing back to Turkey!

    Word.

    I don't think (with the possible exception of Israel/Palestine) they created those conflicts so much as the British said "LOL it's been fun guys! BYE!" after WWII cause they realized they weren't going to be able to solve them.

    My thing is, if you take it upon yourself to start juggling five glass vases because it amuses you and people pay you so they can watch, you are responsible if you 'kthxbye!' and drop them.

    Like you said, many of those conflicts were preexisting, but that doesn't mean the manner in which Britain disengaged didn't make things a great deal worse.

  • Elemenope||

    I blame the the guy that killed the Archduke of Austria. Then the Ottoman Empire wouldn't have collapsed, and the Turks would still be keeping order in Palestine and Iraq. Give the whole fucking thing back to Turkey!

    Then on second thought, weren't those the fuckers that genocided the Armenians?

  • BakedPenguin||

    On the contrary - I'm affirming they were a game-changer. Which is why there are people like me, who happen to enjoy their drugs very much, thank you, who don't want to see them legalized.

    And the 200,000 innocent people currently in prison for drug possession thank you. Moron.

  • BDB||

    They did that, Elemenope, after they went all nationalist. Before that the Ottoman Sultan didn't give a fuck what language you spoke or your religion as long as you paid taxes and served in the army. Which is why the Kurds had a much better deal then.

  • MNG||

    unregistered voter
    Take a look at this regular Gallup Poll:
    http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/pdf/t2982007.pdf

    About half of the nation used to think homosexuality itself should be illegal.

    14 states still had laws on the books when Lawrence came down, some of them quite populous (Tx, Fl, Va). True they were not strongly enforced, but they of course were still there to affect gays in many other ways (for example Va courts held that gays could not have certain rights because they were technically felons under the law). But the point is a great deal of folks were holding that homosexuality itself should be illegal in some sense, and quite a few states had that as policy.

    Now that number is quite small. In fact I can't remember the last conservative pundit I heard taking that view. Also most conservative pundits now say civil unions are not unthinkable for them, just stay away from marriage! And that is a moving of the goalposts. It's pretty remarkable really.

  • MNG||

    LMNOP and BDB

    I have to say I hate this attitude, which is common enough, whenever something plainly awful happens in the Middle East. "Well, those guys have been doing this for centuries, whattaya gonna do?"

    Well, one thing we could do is stop lopsidedly support one of the sides, especially when they are using the weapons we gave them or the money we gave them to do some of these awful things. We could stop giving them the absurd level of diplomatic support that we do
    (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/UN/usvetoes.html). We could raise holy hell.

    And guys like Moynihan who post five times a week about Chavez's plans to take away a tv station's liscense or whatnot could speak out about this kind of thing.

  • Elemenope||

    It's pretty remarkable really.

    It really is. I don't think there's been a comparable movement with that quick success for major social change anywhere on any subject.

    So, who's left, after the inevitable gay marriage thing goes through? We, as a society, still screw with Hispanics, teenagers, cripples, and the elderly, and we still do the wink-nod thing towards dehumanizing and torturing criminals and other guests of the state.

    The list is getting short, and that is something to be a little proud of. I particularly like how it irritates reactionaries.

  • MNG||

    "On the contrary - I'm affirming they were a game-changer. Which is why there are people like me, who happen to enjoy their drugs very much, thank you, who don't want to see them legalized.

    And the 200,000 innocent people currently in prison for drug possession thank you. Moron."

    Thanks Baked, I read that part a few times and thought "WTF" myself, but wanted to address something else.

  • Elemenope||

    I have to say I hate this attitude, which is common enough, whenever something plainly awful happens in the Middle East. "Well, those guys have been doing this for centuries, whattaya gonna do?"

    You missed my point a bit. It needn't be an apologia for inaction or stupid action to point out that the roots of the problem stretch back to when city walls were the pinnacle of military technology. But we are *guaranteed* to get nowhere if we assume that one neighborhood problem is fungible with any other. History matters, and is likely to be an element of any solution.

  • Elemenope||

    "On the contrary - I'm affirming they were a game-changer. Which is why there are people like me, who happen to enjoy their drugs very much, thank you, who don't want to see them legalized.

    And the 200,000 innocent people currently in prison for drug possession thank you. Moron."

    Thanks Baked, I read that part a few times and thought "WTF" myself, but wanted to address something else.


    Talk about underdetermination...he could have meant any number of things with that sentence.

    1. I like drugs, but do not want drugs to be legalized (asshole)

    2. I like drugs, but do not want *gay marriage* to be legalized (non sequitor)

    3. I like drugs, and the drug issue is analogous to the gay marriage issue in that both admit to being vulnerable to slippery slope arguments, but I don't like gay marriage and so pheer the slippery slope.

    [1] is pretty ridiculous, and [2] seems unlikely, so I'm charitably going with [3], esp. given the context of the rest of the conversation.

    Not that he's right, mind you.

  • the unregistered voter||

    And the 200,000 innocent people currently in prison for drug possession thank you. Moron.

    If they're "innocent", why are they in prison for drug possession? Did somebody hold a gun to their heads to possess drugs?

    Whether or not you like the laws, the fact is if you flout them, you are voluntarily assuming a risk. I'm afraid I can't get too worked up about people who assume needless risks and then cry "foul!" when the risk materializes.

  • MNG||

    The West played a sorry role in putting the current state of Israel in someone else's back yard. And the U.S. has played a pretty sorry role of irresponsibly (not cutting it off when they do things that we morally abhor for example) and lopsidedly supporting that state for decades now.

    The Peel Commission of 1937 hit the nail on the head, the problem of unrest at the time was not the result of age-old animosities bubbling over but a quite natural reaction to the wacky idea of a bunch of Europeans to plop down in the Middle East and announce the creation of a nation.

  • MNG||

    " Did somebody hold a gun to their heads to possess drugs?"

    No, someone points a gun to their heads FOR possessing drugs.

    And we think that is terrible.

    I guess you think that blacks that were locked up for fleeing their slave masters deserved what they got. Hey, it was illegal and they knew the law when they broke it...

  • the unregistered voter||

    3. I like drugs, and the drug issue is analogous to the gay marriage issue in that both admit to being vulnerable to slippery slope arguments, but I don't like gay marriage and so pheer the slippery slope.

    Close. My point is that while I enjoy my vices, I do, in fact, recognize them as vices. My point is that history tells us that people who demand their vices be legalized usually follow up in short order by demanding they be legitimized and socially accepted, if not publicly subsidized, immediately after demand No. 1 is acquiesced to.

    Thanks, but no thanks. I've said it before and I'll say it again - if the price of buying my dope legally is having to put up with watching the mayor of New York City leading the Junkie Pride Parade through Times Square, I'll settle for taking my risks with the law, thankyouverymuch.

  • the unregistered voter||

    I guess you think that blacks that were locked up for fleeing their slave masters deserved what they got. Hey, it was illegal and they knew the law when they broke it...

    A rather idiotic analogy. AFAIK few blacks voluntarily became slaves. Given that use of recreational drugs is entirely voluntary, there really isn't much of a comparison.

  • Elemenope||

    My point is that while I enjoy my vices, I do, in fact, recognize them as vices. My point is that history tells us that people who demand their vices be legalized usually follow up in short order by demanding they be legitimized and socially accepted, if not publicly subsidized, immediately after demand No. 1 is acquiesced to.

    Prostitution is legal in my home state of Rhode Island, and has been for some time. Does not by any stretch mean that most people here would pull a Jesus and hang out socially with them or speak highly of their vocation.

    And, from media consumption habits and production I'd be willing to hazard that private marijuana consumption is, in most quarters, *already* socially acceptable and legitimized, and it is the LAW that lags behind social norms, rather than the other way around.

  • Elemenope||

    Given that use of recreational drugs is entirely voluntary, there really isn't much of a comparison.

    So, the ten year old that tried their first cigarette to fit in, or on a dare, or whatever other idiot thing explains the behavior of ten-year-olds, and became addicted...made a fully rational and responsible choice? Huh.

  • the unregistered voter||

    So, the ten year old that tried their first cigarette to fit in, or on a dare, or whatever other idiot thing explains the behavior of ten-year-olds, and became addicted...made a fully rational and responsible choice? Huh.

    As a matter of fact, I started smoking when I was 10 myself. I certainly didn't become addicted with the first smoke, in fact I had to keep at it for quite a long time before I could even smoke one of the damn things without throwing up. Whether or not it was a rational choice, it was certainly a voluntary action.

    As someone who has given up several addictions, I can tell you for sure that while withdrawal is uncomfortable, it is not impossible. And one of the biggest incentives for bearing the discomfort is the knowledge that failure to do so will eventually result in even greater discomfort. Such as getting cancer. Or serving a jail sentence.

  • ||

    "A Blue-Ribbon Panel, If We're Lucky"

    Another Wickersham Commission?

    Great!

    (Could we start another thread about how "ribbons" are a euphemism for Federalist/pro-government?)

    Peaceful anarchist, Ruthless

  • Elemenope||

    As someone who has given up several addictions, I can tell you for sure that while withdrawal is uncomfortable, it is not impossible. And one of the biggest incentives for bearing the discomfort is the knowledge that failure to do so will eventually result in even greater discomfort. Such as getting cancer. Or serving a jail sentence.

    Well, that's fantastic for those lucky ones who were scared into quitting before getting caught, but that pales in comparison to the damage it does to those who are unlucky enough to get caught.

    Tell me, exactly how does a prison sentence or an arrest record help a person? Does it make it easier to keep a job, or get a house loan, or raise kids? No, actually it does the opposite of those things.

  • Elemenope||

    Could we start another thread about how "ribbons" are a euphemism for Federalist/pro-government?

    You could indeed start, by explaining how that is so.

  • ||

    the unregistered voter,
    Not that it had any effect on me whatsoever, but the guy who taught me how to smoke--Jimmy Dale--died of lung cancer at a very early age. I visited him in his last days at the Veterans Hospital near where I was attending college.
    I fortunately never became addicted to nicotine.

    But addiction in the many various shapes and forms lure each and every one of us constantly.
    I'm surely addicted to this that or the other.
    Hear! Hear!

  • Chubulor Corpulens II||

    My point is that history tells us that people who demand their vices be legalized usually follow up in short order by demanding they be legitimized and socially accepted, if not publicly subsidized, immediately after demand No. 1 is acquiesced to.

    I disagree about history's teaching here...you seem to be basing this solely on the gay marriage issue. In the case of pornography, for instance, legalization was not followed by a movement for social acceptance. Indeed in many cases "vices" were socially accepted before they were legalized (birth control, abortion, alcohol during Prohibition, etc), so the question is ill-posed to begin with.

  • the unregistered voter||

    Indeed in many cases "vices" were socially accepted before they were legalized (birth control, abortion, alcohol during Prohibition, etc), so the question is ill-posed to begin with.

    Considering that at least two of those "vices", abortion and birth control, are now frequently subsidized with public dollars now that they're legal, I stand by my argument.

  • the unregistered voter||

    Tell me, exactly how does a prison sentence or an arrest record help a person? Does it make it easier to keep a job, or get a house loan, or raise kids? No, actually it does the opposite of those things.

    Well, for a start, the object of a prison sentence isn't to help a person, it's to punish them. In that respect it's very effective indeed.

  • MNG||

    "A rather idiotic analogy. AFAIK few blacks voluntarily became slaves. Given that use of recreational drugs is entirely voluntary, there really isn't much of a comparison."

    No, I don't think so. Your point was this:

    "Whether or not you like the laws, the fact is if you flout them, you are voluntarily assuming a risk."

    And yes, the slave that ran away knew it was illegal to run away, knew it was a risk to be punished criminally if they did so, and yet chose to do it.

    And the person who uses a substance declared illegal today knows it would be illegal today, knows it is a risk that they will be punished if they do so, and yet choose to do it.

    I'm afraid the analogy is still apt. In both cases you have a person who knows action x is illegal and that it risks punishment if they do so. I think in both cases though it's terrible that the person is punished. Because I think laws that say a person held as chattel cannot run away and that say a person cannot do things to his body that do not harm others are both wrong.

  • MNG||

    You see where you went wrong right? Of course the guy didn't voluntarily become a slave, but I wasn't talking about that, I was talking about fugitive slave laws. The fugitive slave ost certainly voluntarily decided to break THAT law when he decided to run away, just like the drug user voluntarily decides to break drug criminalization laws.

    What makes punishment of both wrong is that both laws are immoral themselves.

  • MNG||

    "that people who demand their vices be legalized usually follow up in short order by demanding they be legitimized and socially accepted, if not publicly subsidized, immediately after demand No. 1 is acquiesced to"

    Here you state two concerns, that people's "vices" (I put that in quotations since who are you to decide for me what is a vice and what is a virtue?) once legalized lead to
    1. social acceptance
    2. subsidization

    To which I reply:
    1. So what so long as no one makes you accept them?
    2. How much has this happened? I have to say I don't consider birth control (or gay sex for that matter) a "vice" btw. There has been some funding of abortions, but what other "vices" are being subsidized right now?

  • Elemenope||

    Considering that at least two of those "vices", abortion and birth control, are now frequently subsidized with public dollars now that they're legal, I stand by my argument.

    Considering you got the arrow of causation exactly backwards, that makes you stubborn but not too smart.

    Well, for a start, the object of a prison sentence isn't to help a person, it's to punish them. In that respect it's very effective indeed.

    Take a person, in whatever social or moral state. Take away his prospects. Then, force him to make prospects. Wow! Shock! He turned again to crime. Whatever shall we do? Lock him up again! That seemed to work so well the first time.

    Also, FWIW, most people even in the penal industry no longer hew to the notion that prison should primarily be punitive. So, fail again.

  • ||

    Well, for a start, the object of a prison sentence isn't to help a person, it's to punish them. In that respect it's very effective indeed.

    Actually, the main object of a prison sentence is to keep them from repeating their asocial acts upon other innocent people.

    Other considerations sometimes prevail, but that's the main motive for most sentencings.

  • Elemenope||

    Actually, the main object of a prison sentence is to keep them from repeating their asocial acts upon other innocent people.

    Which, given the recidivism rate, makes the whole thing a sick, ironic joke.

  • dhex||

    "Thanks, but no thanks. I've said it before and I'll say it again - if the price of buying my dope legally is having to put up with watching the mayor of New York City leading the Junkie Pride Parade through Times Square, I'll settle for taking my risks with the law, thankyouverymuch."

    "oh no! parades! better subsidize the prison industry instead!"

  • BakedPenguin||

    the object of a prison sentence isn't to help a person, it's to punish them.

    And here we have the root of the War on Drugs in a nutshell. Drugs are EVIL!!! Users must be punished!!! You'll notice that the more politically astute avoid this line of reasoning, because asking why drugs are evil can only end up in them admitting they're trying to do 'God's work'.

  • Abner MacGillicuddy||

    bill | December 27, 2008, 3:47pm | #
    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=169&invol=649

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0088_0162_ZO.html

    http://naturalborncitizen.wordpress.com/


    So, bill, have you read and understood all of those two cases or have you just taken the word of one of the the protoKlansmen at LGF and VDare? If you have read them, quote the pertinent sections which would prove your case.

    Oh, wait, your third "citation" answers my question. Sorry, but linking to some guy quoting passages that don't mean what he say they mean from court cases he doesn't understand doesn't work, you see.

    I already told you the protoKlansmen over at LGF and VDare don't count.

    But I'm done with this.

  • Nobody Important||

    I was going to make the obvious joke about the government being addicted to the power and revenue that the War on Some Drugs has given it.

    But I think David Brin's observation that "a relentless addiction to indignation may be one of the chief drivers of obstinate dogmatism and an inability to negotiate pragmatic solutions" is more appropriate for an internet forum.

    Denial is the first sign that you have a problem.

    http://www.davidbrin.com/addiction.html

    * * * * *

    The Most Common (but Unstudied) Form of Self-Addiction

    So far, we are on ground that is supported by copious (if peripheral) research. If nothing else, at least there should be an effort to step back and notice the forest, for the trees, generalizing a view of this whole field as we've described so far. A general paradigm of self-reinforcement.

    Only now, taking this into especially important new territory, please consider something more specific. A phenomenon that both illustrates the general point and demands attention on its own account.

    I want to zoom down to a particular emotional and psychological pathology. The phenomenon known as self-righteous indignation.

    We all know self-righteous people. (And, if we are honest, many of us will admit having wallowed in this state ourselves, either occasionally or in frequent rhythm.) It is a familiar and rather normal human condition, supported -- even promulgated -- by messages in mass media.

    While there are many drawbacks, self-righteousness can also be heady, seductive, and even... well... addictive. Any truly honest person will admit that the state feels good. The pleasure of knowing, with subjective certainty, that you are right and your opponents are deeply, despicably wrong.

    Sanctimony, or a sense of righteous outrage, can feel so intense and delicious that many people actively seek to return to it, again and again. Moreover, as Westin et.al. have found, this trait crosses all boundaries of ideology.

    Indeed, one could look at our present-day political landscape and argue that a relentless addiction to indignation may be one of the chief drivers of obstinate dogmatism and an inability to negotiate pragmatic solutions to a myriad modern problems. It may be the ultimate propellant behind the current "culture war."

    If there is any underlying truth to such an assertion, then acquiring a deeper understanding of this one issue may help our civilization deal with countless others.

    * * * * *


  • MNG||

    This guys thinking seems to be "I really like using drugs, but I don't want them legalized because then there will be all this acceptance of people who really like using drugs. People like me."

    Besides, there is a already a whole cottage industry built around giving hugs to "addicts", it's just that they have to be ever-renouncing TEH EVIL that they enjoy to get those hugs instead of prison.

    Again, there's nothing wrong with "social acceptance" of a once illegal process if we don't force folks to do that accepting (most churchs don't kick adulterers [which was illegal in many places] like John McCain out of their churchs forever, but they can if they want to). And I don't think we end up subsidizing many things that become legalized at all.

    No problem.

  • MNG||

    And, once we agree that some criminal laws are bad and immoral, and thus those who knew of such laws and the risks of breaking them, "flouted" them anyway and then are punished, do not "deserve" punishment, then the debate simply becomes whether or not any criminal law in question is moral or not.

    See, it's clear to everyone (now) that a fugitive slave law was immoral and those who voluntarily decided to "flout" punishment by breaking it did not "deserve" said punishment. It's just that I think most of our drug laws are in that same category. If unregistered voter wants to argue otherwise he can do so now that some of his main distracting points have had the air let out of them...


    I will say this: when they do have the Junkie Pride Parade I would like to man the Hot College Girls and Ecstasy Addicts Float.

    And "man" it I will ;)

  • Elemenope||

    "oh no! parades! better subsidize the prison industry instead!"

    Oh, man. I think that there is a thread-winner.

  • ||

    You know that blacks aren't humans!

    I know exactly the opposite, flacidus. People are people, even when their parents fail utterly to teach them decent values, and cause them to become degenerate collectivists like yourself.

    Have you considered going to school, liberating yourself from your poisonous ignorance, and becoming a contributing member of society? Maybe if you did, you wouldn't be pathetically seeking self esteem by disparaging others.

    -jcr

  • ||

    And one of the biggest incentives for bearing the discomfort is the knowledge that failure to do so will eventually result in even greater discomfort.

    Here's an idea: why don't you just ask your best friend to beat you black and blue if you use drugs, and leave the government out of it? That way, you get what you want, and the rest of us don't have to suffer the damage to our liberty and our prosperity that the War on Drugs inflicts.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Sanctimony, or a sense of righteous outrage, can feel so intense and delicious that many people actively seek to return to it, again and again.

    I have a friend who was married to a woman with that addiction. She had the poor guy completely cowed, and would berate him for anything she could possibly construe as positive attention towards another female. I don't know how he tolerated it, but by the time they finally broke up, he hadn't gotten laid in close to two years.

    After she destroyed their marriage, she had a series of relationships with men who would feed it by cheating on her (which my friend had never done). I've got to say that "righteous indignation" addiction of hers must have caused her far more misery than the average coke habit.

    -jcr

  • ||

    a fugitive slave law was immoral

    That it was. I often wonder if I would have had the guts to take up arms against any federal troops coming to Vermont to recapture escapees.

    -jcr

  • Elemenope||

    That it was. I often wonder if I would have had the guts to take up arms against any federal troops coming to Vermont to recapture escapees.

    You could always have distracted the feds with a wedge of the finest Vermont cheddar instead.

    "Slaves? This is Vermont, man! Have a cracker."

    Win/Win, as they say.

    People are people, even when their parents fail utterly to teach them decent values, and cause them to become degenerate collectivists like yourself.

    While I agree that racism is a degeneracy, I've met many a racist who were libertarian in orientation. Loving freedom is no great inoculation from turning out to be a douchebag.

  • ||

    I've met many a racist who were libertarian in orientation.

    I've met a handful who may have sounded libertarian, but their anti-government stance turned out to be rather superficial. IOW, they object to THIS government, but they'd be fine with one that outlawed whatever they disapproved of.

    -jcr

  • Bob||

    Yes, it does seem that many practices that were illegal because they were thought of as wicked in some way or other make a quick transition after legaliz'n to subsidy -- mostly because the way they become legal is to convince society that there are benefits to the practice. It's hard to prove slippery slope is at all a factor because the changes are all part of the same current.

    Abortion and birth control are considered medical, and to the extent that medical practice is subsidized, so are they. Hitchhiking was illegal in many places, and it became legal as a result of the oil embargos, and now forms of hitchhiking ("car pooling") are subsidized or otherwise favored by gov't policy.

    If marijuana is legalized, there's a very good chance that the argument for doing so will largely be one of societal benefits to consuming cannabis, probably as medicine (and probably not in the form of inhaling smoke), so, yes, there's a good chance it would then be subsidized. This would not be, or not be much a product of a slippery slope effect from its being legalized, but rather that both its legaliz'n and its subsidy will be a result of its being seen as having societal benefits.

    Fortunately that hasn't been the case with guns. There hasn't been a serious revival of militia obligations with the passage of "shall issue" legislation. Perhaps DC will be the place where that will happen. If the powers that be there want to discourage gun possession any way that can survive in court, it may be by conditioning it on a militia training and service requirement.

    *************

    Meanwhile, some drug reformers are on board with the blue ribbon panel idea thinking (or hoping) that it will provide cover for a confidentially pro-legaliz'n admin. These reformers realize what happened in the past, but they think that such a contemporary commission may be a necessary, though not sufficient, condition for legaliz'n. They figure either Obama's for it, or he's not. If he's not, the commission does no harm even though nothing results. If he's secretly for it, then he might need a commission to provide an excuse for such action. The results of previous commissions would not do, because they were already known when Obama came in, so he needs to inaugurate a new commission to prove he didn't come in with that idea himself.

    Makes sense to me. How could another commission hurt?

  • Elemenope||

    Makes sense to me. How could another commission hurt?

    While I agree with most of your analysis, a commission could indeed hurt by (who knows how) coming out against legalization even in the protected anonymized environment it affords. That would cock up legalization efforts for decades.

    I don't think that is at all probable a conclusion unless the process gets rigged very deeply, but it is a risk.

  • Elemenope||

    I've met a handful who may have sounded libertarian, but their anti-government stance turned out to be rather superficial. IOW, they object to THIS government, but they'd be fine with one that outlawed whatever they disapproved of.

    Most *Libertarians* I've met are motivated more by disliking this government, rather than government in general. The second is an ideological appendix of the former. And while we're on a no true Scotsman roll, I find it improbable in the extreme that there does not exist a person who hates all government and also hates some group/class of persons. Given that, my original point was that the desire for freedom and the urge to hate people for stupid reasons are largely independent thought-processes, and while they may in some very highly abstract way be contradictory, in a practical sense they can and do sometimes co-exist comfortably in the same mind.

  • Bob||

    Even as slanted as it was by its composition, the Meese commission concluded that text porn was not dangerous. But even if a new drugs commission came out anti, I don't think that would make any difference in the laws or the chance of changing them, maybe just an increase in their enforcement.

  • guy in the back row||

    I've come to the conclusion there just be some shadow figure hidden deep in the government bureaucracy who has the dirt on all our elected official, ala Hoover in the 1950s and 1960s. There's no other reason that politicians could ignore public opinion so completely.

  • ||

    How could another commission hurt?

    By serving as a substitute for/delaying real reform, that's how.

  • Bob||

    And how/why would that substitution occur? Why wouldn't it tend to have the opposite effect, by focusing att'n on the issue?

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement