Drug Policy

Why Is David Brock's Democratic PAC Attacking Paul Ryan for Voting Against More Drug-War Funding?

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I spent this morning looking for any record of GOP vice presidential candidate and seven-term Congressman Paul Ryan talking about the drug war. I didn't come up with much on that front: Ryan has apparently never spoken publicly about the drug war; the only clear votes he's cast on drug policy are the three he cast against Hinchey-Rohrbacher, the House bill that would have defunded the DOJ's war on medical marijuana, and the one vote he cast shortly after first being elected to block D.C.'s medical marijuana law and federal funding for a clean needle exchange. Those votes are ugly, but considering that Democrats controlled the House in 2007 (the second time Hinchey-Rohrbacher failed), and that Obama is currently president, Ryan can't be held solely responsible for the continued federal crackdown on medical marijuana. 

But just because I couldn't find a single record of Ryan talking about the drug war doesn't mean my search was entirely without fruit. In the course of digging, I found an oppo research file on Ryan published by American Bridge, a Democratic PAC started by David Brock. Amazingly, that file criticizes Ryan for not voting in favor of increased drug war funding.

Here are the sections in question:

Ryan Opposed Additional Funding for Anti-Drug Enforcement Efforts. In 2003, Ryan voted against the Consolidated Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2003, which included $525.4 million for the Office of National Drug Control Policy: $226.4 million for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, $20 million above the President's request; $145 million for the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign; $70 million (full funding) for the Drug-Free Communities program.

The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program advanced the National Drug Control Strategy in the most critical drug trafficking areas of the country, including Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Washington/Baltimore, and Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands AND the Southwest Border. The purpose of the program was to empower equal local, State, and Federal partnerships to dismantle the most significant drug trafficking and drug money laundering organizations. The program primarily supported progressive initiatives such as co-located task forces, intelligence sharing and electronic networking of Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies, and linkages between the criminal justice system and drug treatment. The bill passed 338-83.

Paul Ryan Opposed Funds for High Intensity Drug Program in 2000. Paul Ryan voted for the $29.1 billion Treasury  Appropriations that represented an $824.5 million increase over the previous year's funding. It funded the US Postal service, the Treasury Department, and Executive Office of the president, as well as $731 million for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and $8.9 billion for the Internal Revenue Service.

I doubt American Bridge would argue that Ryan voted against the appropriations bills above solely (or even partly) because they increased funding for the drug war; the sections above simply highlight what Ryan's votes against various appropriations bills meant for drug spending.

But I nevertheless find it fascinating that a progressive group is hammering a Republican for voting against giving more drug-war funding. That $145 million for the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign? It paid for the Above the Influence ad campaign, which the GAO deemed a failure with unpleasant unintended consequences. Those High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas? They've since been used to crack down on low-level drug offenders and medical marijuana

As for Ryan's 2000 and 2007 votes against funding the Office of National Drug Control Policy: The head of the ONCDP through 2001 was Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a hardcore drug warrior who was later revealed to be a paid shill for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and who recently said that Portugal's decriminalization efforts were "bullshit." The second time Ryan voted against increased funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Drug Czar John P. Walters (2001-2009) was in charge. Not only did Walters advocate for randomly drug-testing high school students, he wrote a piece for The Weekly Standard earlier this year decrying any and all legalization or decriminalization efforts. 

So, in addition to wanting to know more about Paul Ryan's stance on the drug war, I'd also like to know why David Brock's super PAC is attacking Ryan for not giving more money to Barry McCaffrey and John P. Walters. 

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  1. TEAM trumps principle. Not really news.

  2. So, in addition to wanting to know more about Paul Ryan’s stance on the drug war, I’d also like to know why David Brock’s super PAC is attacking Ryan for not giving more money to Barry McCaffrey and John P. Walters.

    Because they’re scumbag TEAM hacks, and have absolutely zero integrity? I mean, come on, dude; are you actually saying you think they stand for anything other than their TEAM winning? Don’t be absurd.

  3. Those Above the Influence ads were terrible.

    1. Do kids even watch tv anymore? Or did they run these commercials during Hulu/Youtube/gamer intermissions?

  4. and the one vote he cast shortly after first being elected to block D.C.’s medical marijuana law and federal funding for a clean needle exchange.

    Voting against federal funding for needle exchanges seems like something a libertarian would do. Ryan probably did it for the wrong reason, but still, calling that an “ugly vote” seems wrong.

    1. Federal funding for needle exchange in the Federal District? I’d actually be ok with that.

      1. If its paid for with DC revenues, sure.

        If its paid for out of general federal revenues, not so much.

        1. Fair enough.

    2. Needle exchanges are only necessary because it is illegal almost everywhere to buy needles OTC. It is a patch to “fix” a problem the drug warriors created in the first place.

      Very, very few people use dirty needles just for kicks.

      I’ve run into problems buying insulin needles, which are largely useless for intravenously injecting drugs.

      1. Wait, the law doesn’t force you to get AIDS? We need to CLOSE THIS LOOPHOLE.

        1. He already has MEGA-AIDS. No loophole.

          1. That was an accident. I’m like those poor hemophiliacs. All they wanted was to have sex with the blood of strangers; they didn’t deserve to die.

      2. I believe you may have left the, “umm, I’m told” off of your last sentence there, Suge.

        1. Yes, I’ve never tried to hit a vein with a insulin needle. I only snort heroin, which totally means I’m not a junkie.

          1. That’s right. Also, you’re not a junkie if you only shoot it between your toes so no one can see the track marks.

            1. Wait, he told me he shoots it into his nutsack.

              1. The hard nodules of nutsack skin-popping give me a sexual prowess none of you can hope to match.

          2. What I would give to have seen Jim Morrison’s face when he realized he just snorted an OD worth of heroin instead of a little snoot. Of course, I was only two at the time, so I would probably been scared.

            1. Dude, I totally dropped acid at Woodstock, and I was only two months old. It was far out, man.

              True story.

          3. I smoke my opium. It’s more like a ritual.

      3. Needle exchanges are only necessary because it is illegal almost everywhere to buy needles OTC

        You could just not use drugs.

        1. “That you, Tulpa? Is this me?”

          1. “Who the fuck said that?”

      4. Insulin needles are what every IV junkie I’ve ever met has used.

        1. And they lead to nodules and ulcers and infections. I’m not saying you can’t, I’m saying they are supremely sub-optimal and likely used because they are marginally easier to obtain than optimal needles.

          They ban appropriate needles, so IV users gravitate toward insulin needles, and then the drug warriors make them harder to obtain as well.

          Sell all needles to anyone that wants them, is my position.

      5. I’ve run into problems buying insulin needles, which are largely useless for intravenously injecting drugs.

        WTF? Everybody shoots dope with insulin syringes.

  5. I’d also like to know why David Brock’s super PAC is attacking Ryan for not giving more money to Barry McCaffrey and John P. Walters.

    I’m flummoxed.

    1. B/c Brock is an idiot?

      1. That and he’d pick up any stick at hand to flail away with.

  6. But I nevertheless find it fascinating that a progressive group is hammering a Republican for voting against giving more drug-war funding.

    You only find this fascinating because you live under the illusion that somehow “progressives” will end the Drug War any sooner than conservatives.

    They are both equally full of shit when it comes to SAVING THE CHILDREN!!!

    1. you live under the illusion that somehow “progressives” will end the Drug War

      Where did you get that idea?

      1. [blink] THESE ARE THINGS PROGRESSIVES ACTUALLY BELIEVE [/blink]

      2. I don’t, but apparently Riggs does if he finds this so “fascinating”.

  7. Upon further consideration,

    I’d also like to know why David Brock’s super PAC is attacking Ryan for not giving more money to Barry McCaffrey and John P. Walters.

    makes perfect sense in the “jobs created or saved” context. No bureaucrat left behind!

  8. Meh. It’s been my experience that many proggies are every bit as much drug warriors as stereotypical hard right conservatives. I knew several leftist progressives who voted against CO’s medicinal MJ law when it came up on the ballot. The WoD is a bipartisan disaster.

    1. The proggies don’t want anyone making any filthy filthy lucre from it, that’s why.

      1. Good point – now, if it was government distributed…

    2. There’s a lot of “I’m smart enough to handle it, but you dumb apes need to be controlled” going on there. Sure, they want it illegal but they also know that upper middle class white people don’t do time for possession unless it’s for big quantities.

      1. I once had a little single frame cartoon on my wall that showed a demon like creature making his single phone call from jail, and the caption read “Hey Dad, can you come bail me out? They busted me for possession!”

        Guess you had to be there.

  9. Vote Rope and Chains

    Vote Obama

    1. “They’re going to put y’all back in chains.” -Joe Biden

      Rope and Chains 2012!

  10. The fundamental premise of progressivism is that lower classes must be perfected by submitting to the rule of their betters.

    The Drug War, which seeks to deny the lower classes the poisons which lead them to sloth and poor choices and prevents them from being able to obey the dictats of the upper classes, was instituted by progressives.

    They can’t walk away from it; it would require ceding some degree of control back to the lower classes.

    1. In fairness, the merger of the countercultural aspects of the ’60s served to temper this. Now it is that the lower classes have the right to certain hedonistic pursuits, so long as there is no profit involved and everything is “controlled” by “science”.

      1. so long as there is no profit involved

        I don’t think that mentality is limited to just illegal drugs.

    2. It’s about healthcare. Period. You can’t regulate soda and fat intake because of an “obesity epidemic” or create onerous taxes and regulations on cigarettes all relating to the public health burden, and let people shoot herioin, smoke dope and snort coke. The two lines of thinking must go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other.

      1. The left really wants to get back to its hippie roots and like, let the drug users be free man.

        They just don’t want any dirty corporations involved.

  11. But I nevertheless find it fascinating that a progressive group is hammering a Republican for voting against giving more drug-war funding.

    The only thing that I find fascinating is that you’re fascinated.

    How long does this pattern have to continue before people say, “Ohhhh, NOW I get it!”

    The modern progressive perspective is almost entirely driven by prohibition.

    Regulation of the individual, especially in the realm of healthcare and health choices is an almost exclusively progressive proposition.

    I believe that within another generation that republicans might just turn out to be your best friends (in the realm of the two major parties) for reversing (slowly) the drug war.

    This is not an endorsement to vote GOP now, because the GOP won’t deliver. It’s merely my prediction of the future.

    The current GOP crop associates drugs with dirty hippies. When that generation dies and thins out, the GOP might begin to see the drug war as part-in-parcel of bigger, more intrusive government. If that happens, they may begin to turn around.

  12. But I nevertheless find it fascinating that a progressive group is hammering a Republican for voting against giving more drug-war funding.

    You do?

    I’m not sure you’re qualified to be an official libertarian cheerleader if this sentence is true.

  13. Why so serious Mike?

    Democrat shills are Democrat shills with no principles. What a shock. Are Democrats love the State and hate the Republicans for not growing it enough.

    In addition this whole post seems to be predicated on the notion that progressives are opposed to the drug war. Don’t see much evidence of it. Also their attitude towards legal substances don’t seem to suggest that they really oppose the Drug War either.

  14. Re-reading the linked article on the failure of the “Above the Influence/the Anti-Drug” campaign, it astounds me the lengths to which the Drug Warriors will go to justify failed programs, and to support positions that are patently ridiculous.

  15. “But I nevertheless find it fascinating that a progressive group is hammering a Republican for voting against giving more drug-war funding.”

    Why?

    Where have progressives demonstrated a principled indifference to what substances people ingest?

  16. The program primarily supported progressive initiatives such as co-located task forces, intelligence sharing and electronic networking of Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies, and linkages between the criminal justice system and drug treatment.

    Here’s your answer. The drug war is the Progressive movement’s means for turning local police agencies into proxies for federal power. Intelligence sharing is obvious, but the drug war allows the feds to arm and train local police, and as Reason has reported, the feds also work with local police to circumvent asset forfeiture protections, earning their loyalty by cutting them a share of federal plunder.

    Everything for the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State, that’s the Progressive credo. And (lest you observe that local police are the state), no state will do for those purposes but a powerful national state.

  17. But just because I couldn’t find a single record of Ryan talking about the drug war doesn’t mean my search was entirely without fruit.

    Is this a set-up for a David Brock gay joke?

    1. Fucking blockquote tags, how do they work?

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