Istook Double Take and More

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Reader Dave Gallaher (aka Ruthless) sends along this WashPost story about Rep. Ernest J. Istook Jr (R-Okla.), who's pissed that the DC Metro carries ads from pro-pot group Change the Climate:

The ad showed a man carrying a tanned blonde in a short white dress, the two of them set against the azure sky of some tropical retreat. Under the picture appeared the declaration: "Enjoy better sex! Legalize and Tax Marijuana."

In a Nov. 10 letter to Jim Graham, chairman of the Metro board, Istook called the ad "shocking" and said the board had "exercised the poorest possible judgment, so I must assure that [Metro] will learn the proper lessons from this experience and will only accept appropriate ads in the future."

This week, Istook inserted into a bill language that would cut Metro's funds by $92,500 and prohibit any transit system that receives federal funds from running advertising from a group that wants to decriminalize marijuana. The money is just a fraction of the federal government's $164 million subsidy to Metro for capital projects.

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  1. You mean, like the Levitra ad with the presumably former football player finally getting his football through the hole?

    Or the Trojans ribbed condom ads (“Trojan man…”)?

    For them it is about the substance. For us it is about self-determination. I don’t care if it’s rat poison; if you’re dumb enough to eat it, then you’re doing the world a favor by doing so.

  2. rst said:
    “For them it is about the substance. For us it is about self-determination.”

    You threw me off for a while because there is no “substance” to any of this silly subject, but now I agree: its the war between hysteria over inanimate substances and who owns my body.

  3. its the war between hysteria over inanimate substances and who owns my body.

    Indeed. And as LibertyLover suggested, we fight because we’re fighting over two different things. We know drugs are dangerous, but so are skydiving and riding a bike without a helmet. It’s not about the cost, it’s about our having the right to pay or not pay that cost of our own accord.

  4. And along the lines of what arjay said, Istook’s press sec’s sound bite that it is promoting illegal activity is incorrect. If marijuana is legalized and taxed, as the ad calls for, then it would not be an illegal activity to smoke it. Unless it is enjoying better sex that is illegal.

    The whole thing smacks of rhetoric being more important to our lawmakers than the rational bases for public policy. Which apparently is an ok imbalance as long as nobody says, “God”. I understand that these guys aren’t necessarily the upper eschelon of intellect, but seriously, Istook needs to keep his overreaction to the trappings of free speech to himself and not burden us with his flabbergasted sensibilities.

  5. arjay,

    “I guess I missed when they made advocating changing laws illegal.”

    National Lampoon once did a comic strip called “G. Gordon Liddy: Agent of CREEP.” His mission was to thwart a shadowy conspiracy known as “THEM,” led by the evil Dr. Ellsberg, to “overthrow the government by defeating the President in an election.”

    Seriously, though, it always makes me uncomfortable when legalization advocates stress the possibility of taxing or regulating marijuana. When pot’s legalized, it will probably replace tobacco as the main target of vice taxes. Which means there will still be a large black market in untaxed pot. Makes me wonder if NPR liberals’ main problem with the drug war, is its contribution to an underground economy not subject to the regulatory state.

  6. This is a deliberately provocative ad. Change the Climate wants to have it’s ad removed so it can instigate a first amendment case. A free speech suit is great publicity, lots of media attention, and an almost certain win in court.

    One problem with this case, the got the space free as part of a program for non-profits. It’s not so clear that the metro is required to provide the soap-box.

  7. Change the Climate wants to have it’s ad removed so it can instigate a first amendment case.

    That the ad may be instigatory to a lawsuit does not reduce its merit as speech. That classification is coincidental to the contentiousness of the issue upon which it is commenting. If this ad said Enjoy better sex! Decriminalize merchants and retailers removing tags from mattresses!, no one would see it as being instigatory, yet its claims would have the same scope.

    It’s not so clear that the metro is required to provide the soap-box.

    That is not the issue. Istook’s language seeks to prevent Metro and any federally-assisted transit system from accepting any advertising, regardless of content, from a group that wants to decriminalize marijuana. So even if Change the Climate threw down twice the price, they still couldn’t run the ad. Why? Because it shouldn’t be legal to advocate the changing of laws, of course. That’s not how democracy works you see.

    I was reading through his “site” at http://www.house.gov/istook. Now I understand, he’s a mouthpiece. He’s against flag desecration, D&X, and wants the federal government, that entity that’s supposed to regulate interstate trade, to provide an amendment that gives a definition for marriage.

    Maybe we could follow it up with an amendment that defines “jackass”. The entire 108th Congress could sign it and we’d be all set.

  8. Legal precedent strongly suggests that if the Metro allows ANY space for non-profit messages, they are then restrained from discriminating based on content; provided other criteria are satisfied (not obscene, nudity, obviously libelous statements etc).

    Here in Pinellas Cty, FL (St Pete, Clearwater etal) the transit system decided a couple years ago to eliminate all non-profit messages. I learned that when I called about placing a Change The Climate – then in its infancy – ad on our bus system.

    The case that provoked the change was when they rejected a message from a group that challenged members of The Church of Scientology with a simple message, “ASK QUESTIONS”. The COS world headquarters are here in Clearwater and they objected to the ad. But PTSA legal department felt it better to eliminate all non profits rather than obstruct a single message.

  9. Actually I think the exact message on the anti-COS ad was, “ASK QUESTIONS – THINK FOR YOURSELF”, which offended the COS.

  10. Kevin sez “When pot’s legalized, it will probably replace tobacco as the main target of vice taxes. Which means there will still be a large black market in untaxed pot.” When pot’s legalized, the political atmosphere will have changed to the extent that there will be a better understanding of black markets, what creates them, and how they work. Which would militate against “sin” taxes high enough to create a black market – keeping in mind, black markets don’t appear at the first penny of taxation.

    “Makes me wonder if NPR liberals’ main problem with the drug war, is its contribution to an underground economy not subject to the regulatory state.” Companies subject to the rule of law are responsible in their business dealings, and settle disputes in a civilized manner. Companies that are not so subject screw and harm their customers, intentionally or not, and settle their disputes violently, often huring innocent people in the process. So yes, the regularity with which the operation of the underground drug economy turns into atrocity is this NPR liberal’s primary reason for opposing the drug war.

  11. Actually when pot is legalized for adult use, there will not only be a virtual elimination of the black market, there will be a substansial drop in the overall ‘market’ per se.

    Unlike many other commodities or services which may straddle the legal/illegal market line, growing pot is something most anyone with a little time and interest can do at home.

    Removing criminal penalties for possessing marijuana will reduce it market-wise to the value of most garden vegetables. That is maybe up to a couple bucks a pound for those who wish to distribute it to a commerical market, and ‘free’ for anyone else who has their own, and/or shares with neighbors.

    The ultimate ‘communal’ activity: sharing our creations from the earth with everyone.

    Check out the county fairs in about oh, 50 years or so. The biggest squash competition will be competing with the Best Bud event.

  12. “Metro is using taxpayer facilities to promote illegal activity,” said Micah Swafford, Istook’s press secretary.

    Whoa…

    Did I miss something? I guess I missed when they made advocating changing laws illegal. Must be because of all the drugs I don’t remember taking.

    Just think people this stupid have high-paying jobs with all kinds of power and responsibility all accross this country.

  13. Wouldn’t want to use taxpayer facilities to promote illegal activity. Which is why Istook would never speak on the floor of the House in favor of loosening any environmental or worker safety regs.

    I paid for that microphone.

  14. Wouldn’t want to use taxpayer facilities to promote illegal activity.

    Congress breaks the laws so we don’t have to. How selfless of them.

    Don’t fret, kids. Republican conservatism is dying, and old guard reps like Istook with it. The government expressly declines the financial windfall to be found in selling and taxing marijuana to the millions who already use it. It’s bad business, but in this war on drugs, if Congress won’t prevent white women from getting knocked up by opium-bearing Asians, who will? We must protect our alcoholic, obese, and lazy Prozac nation from the dangers of marijuana.

  15. Not to defend Istook, but as long as we treat some substances such as alcohol and coffee differently then other substances such as pot and cocaine, we will continue seeing the same behavior on both sides of “drug legalization”.

    Istook is just responding in the standard political dialogue. And the commerical, well, I don’t see many ads in public places that encourage potential consumers to use the product to enjoy better sex.

  16. When (if) pot is legalized, it will replace cigarettes as the whipping boy. This means that cigarettes will no longer be the whipping boy.

    And this is bad why? We are always going to be fighting. What the specific issues are, where the lines are drawn, and who is on which side is constantly changing. But we will always be fighting over issues.

    As long as we are fighting over marijuana (and cocaine), the battles over cigarettes and alcohol will be diminished.

  17. BYNA: When (if) pot is legalized, it will replace cigarettes as the whipping boy

    SinC: Not likely. For it to be a whipping boy, it will have to be producing some clear adverse effect on people and society, as tobacco (which you cite as the current whipping boy)currently does.

    Marijuana has no lethal dosage and after 50+ years of medical research is yet to be shown as particularly detrimental to health, especially if it’s ingested in ways other than smoking.

    Once it’s legalized (and yes, it will be as it is currently severely decriminalized in many nations outside U.S.), the tens of millions of users will not have to be afraid of coming out of the closet and true longterm health effects can be medically documented.

    Under the current system of prohibition, only the federal government has the say on who can do research and currently they have only one such research project being allowed and that is at the Univ of Cal SD.

    Note that the primary motivation for the feds to be shutting down California medical marijuana providers is NOT to quell supposed illegal USE of pot, but rather to allow seizure of patient records and thereby prevent a medically legitimate patient database to be created and maintained. To allow that would undermine the 70+ years of government sponsored reefer madness lies.

  18. Warren,

    As I understand it, once the US, state, etc. government opens a space as a “public forum,” then it cannot control the content of the speech, as long as it is protected speech. Now if it was simply the government “speaking,” then they can control the content. This appears to be a case of the former rather than the latter though.

  19. The Washington Post apparently doesn’t believe the sex and zip code I gave them, and won’t let me read the article.

    What Istook is doing had its seeds when Congress first discovered it could use selective funding to bully states and localities into passing the laws it wants. The logical conclusion, not far away, is to deny federal funding to states that allow candidates to oppose the incumbents.

  20. EMAIL: krokodilgena1@yahoo.com
    IP: 62.213.67.122
    URL: http://www.auto-loans-usa.biz
    DATE: 02/01/2004 05:26:19
    I dont know what to say, but i likeed it.

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