Subject: WoD: Frontlines report -- 26-Feb-93 Pod people, Daylight Savings Time, and other
From: "Paul Hager"
Subject: WoD: Frontlines report -- 26-Feb-93
Pod people, Daylight Savings Time, and other surreality.
Since leaving the world of independent contractordom, I've
been managing a group of software engineers at Crane Naval
Surface Warfare Center. This activity has put a bit of a crimp
in my political activism but I still try to remain involved. I
did have to resign my chairmanship of the ICLU Commission on gun
control and the 2nd Amendment (I'm still on the commission,
though) and was unable to attend yesterday's hearings on HB 1047
which increases Indiana penalties for marijuana possession and
cultivation (but I sent a couple of deputies to stand in for me).
In the latter regard, I obtained some very useful recent studies
from the Rand Corporation and the University of Chicago
demonstrate that marijuana decriminalization produces tangible
social benefits. The Rand study by Karyn Model uses DAWN data on
emergency room (ER) mentions to demonstrate that, in an
environment of marijuana decriminalization, ER mentions for other
drugs decrease while marijuana mentions increase. Given that
marijuana mentions represent very small absolute numbers from a
very large base and other drugs represent larger numbers from a
much smaller base, this is very significant from the public
health standpoint. The University of Chicago study is by Frank
Chaloupka and Adit Laixuthai that does an econometric analysis of
alcohol and marijuana use in order to determine whether alcohol
and marijuana substitute for each other. Among other
conclusions, they found that the states that had decriminalized
marijuana had lower highway accident rates than those that had
not. But, I digress ...
Two days ago, I ventured forth to reconnoiter the forces and
disposition of the local (Bloomington) prohibitionists. They've
given themselves the soothing sobriquet, "Bloomington CARES."
Its constituents include our old friends, The Governor's
Commission for a Drug-Free Indiana (DFI) and the Bloomington
Police Department's D.A.R.E. program, as well as a number of new
friends like, the Girl Scouts and Bloomington Parks & Recreation.
A special kick-off meeting had been organized and the general
public was invited.
I arrived at the meeting a little early. The meeting room
was virtually empty. On the far side of the room and buried in a
mound of undulating adipose tissue was another old friend, Bill
Bailey. Readers of these postings will remember that the
malignantly obese Bailey is the head of the "Drug and Alcohol
Information Center" at I.U. and a self-proclaimed expert on the
evils of drug abuse. My most recent prior encounter with Bailey
had been an epistolary exchange in the I.U. newspaper over a
Bailey statement that cannabis had never been legal. (Bailey's
justification was a bit of sophistry to the effect that there had
been no law explicitly making it legal.)
People began to show up and find seats at the round tables
that filled the meeting area. There was a disquieting quality
shared by just about everyone in attendance. Like the pod people
in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (the first, and best, movie),
their outward friendliness and liberal concern was attended by a
subtle lack. Hitler had a similar but much more global lack. By
all accounts, the Fuehrer was a charming dinner companion who
doted on children and dogs. The prohibitionist pods didn't seem
to have a Hitler stand-in in attendance although Bailey would
have made a creditable Herrmann Goering.
The meeting finally got underway about 10 minutes late.
Joining me at my table were Dennis Withered and Marty Ransford,
HCRC comrades, and a woman named Jill Strobel, the new head of
the South Central DFI office in Bloomington. I only got a chance
to speak briefly with Ms. Strobel -- long enough to find out that
Jennifer Stabb (remember her?), the former head of the
Bloomington office, has been percussively sublimated in the DFI
hierarchy to new levels of bureaucratic incompetence. I'm sure
Ms. Stabb's many fans on the net will be pleased to hear this.
Tim Tilton, one of the County Commissioners, started things
off. I was dividing my attention between the proceedings and
Stanton Peele's excellent book, "The Meaning of Addiction", which
I had been rereading. At one point, Tilton said that efforts
needed to be made to understand addiction and then made an
attempt at a joke about his addiction to chocolate covered
peanuts. Pod people have no sense of humor about such things and
Tilton's pause after his punch-line was two very long seconds of
funereal silence. Tilton is one of the large group of drug war
Quislings: "good liberal Democrats" who have bought into the drug
war out of political expediency but who really know better.
Leslie Henke, a pod of long standing, got up to explain the
origin of CARES. It all began with a fellow named David Toma.
Toma achieved a modest degree of fame after he was portrayed on a
TV series carrying the appropriate name, "Toma." Toma caught the
swell of drug war hysteria early -- in fact, he may have helped
to create it. As the hysteria began to crest, Toma was there to
ride it into a series of speaking engagements around the country.
My independent information about Toma and his visit to
Bloomington sometime in the mid-80s was that he was a mindless
zealot, ranting about the destructiveness of drugs and blaming
all of society's ills on them. He asserted that his own use of
drugs -- chiefly alcohol, it turned out -- had led to the death
of his son. Thus, Toma is the perfect case study of a person
riven with self-loathing and guilt who externalizes his own
failures into a blanket condemnation of other people and other
lifestyles. As Henke was talking about the "inspirational" Toma,
I realized that the pods had their Hitler.
After a couple of presentations, a short break was announced
during which we were to fill out a questionnaire. We were
supposed to agree or disagree on a series of assertions about
what constituted major problems in Bloomington with regard to
"alcohol and drugs." One of the first things I did was to cross
out "drugs" in most of the phrases. I also added numerous
comments in the margins, correcting some of the assumptions.
I hadn't planned on saying anything. During a concluding
public comment section, one fellow got up to cite statistics
about "alcohol- and drug-related" crime in Bloomington. He said
that 60% of domestic violence fell into this category. I
couldn't stand it. I asked the fellow if the numbers would
change at all if he had substituted the phrase "alcohol-related."
He said that he didn't know, probably not very much. His guess
was that alcohol was responsible for 85%. I said that was
interesting because almost 3 years ago, Bob Miller, the Monroe
County prosecutor, had said that alcohol alone was involved in
85% of all crime in the country. I didn't badger the fellow but
I left the clear implication that alcohol, and alcohol alone, was
the problem drug in Bloomington. Another Quisling got up and, in
good liberal fashion, called for new incarceration facilities to
be built. I couldn't take this either and I pointed out that all
drug use had been declining since the late 70s (I didn't throw in
all of the qualifications about recent reversals in some of the
trends). Was Bloomington such an anomaly, I asked, that we had
been experiencing massive increases in drug use even as the rest
of the country had not? This brought him up short. He said that
current facilities were inadequate and he saw a need for minimum
security facilities to deal with non-violent offenders. Remember
what I said on the net a few months back about a kinder and
gentler drug war?
Shortly after this, I leaned over to Dennis and said that I
was going to leave. He took my arm and mock-dramatically said
that I'd better stick around because someone might need to
restrain him. Dennis is ex-Green Beret and he did seem to have
that glint in his eye but ... I took my leave and didn't read of
any altercation in next morning's paper so I assume he was able
to exercise self-control.
Concurrent with the drug war bills I've been watching,
another bill has been winding its way through the Indiana
legislature. This is a bill that would put Indiana on Eastern
Daylight Savings time. Currently, Indiana is on Eastern Standard
time all year around. The bill is being pushed by business
interests who argue a benefit will accrue from being on the same
schedule as our Ohio neighbors. As someone who commutes a total
of 2 hours to and from work each day on some of the most
dangerous country roads in the state, I have some real problems
with a change that increases the number of months I'll confront
darkness on my morning trip. Many of the other Crane commuters
feel exactly the same way. I began a one-man crusade to lobby
legislators on this.
I ending up speaking directly with Jerry Bales and Linda
Henderson -- both representatives from Bloomington. Bales I've
dealt with before on drug policy issues -- he's generally pretty
bad in that area. On this occasion, Bales listened to my
concerns and responded, non-committally that the bill was
probably going to pass the House. I said that if the economic
arguments were going to carry the day, a suitable compromise with
those concerned about morning travel hazards for commuters and
school buses would be for Indiana to go on Central Daylight time
rather than Eastern Daylight time. Revelation! Bales had
clearly never considered such a possibility. He said he'd call
I spoke to Henderson second. She was more forthcoming about
the bill -- she said her boyfriend worked at Crane and she knew
how treacherous the roads were. Her committee "seat mate" is the
fellow who authored the bill and, according to Henderson, had
been lobbying her "real hard." The big business interests were
behind it, she averred. Again, I offered to cut the Gordian
Knot: "What about going on Central Daylight time?" I asked. She
got excited -- what a concept! She wanted to get my phone number
and have the sponsor of the bill speak to me directly! That was
hardly necessary -- from my viewpoint, by starting a buzz about a
compromise involving Daylight time, I've done my job. The next
day, I heard back from Bales that he had spoken to Bob Garton,
the President Pro Tem of the Senate, and Garton was favorably
disposed to looking into the possibility of Central time if the
bill passes the House and goes to the Senate. If only
progressive drug policy issues could generate this kind of
Meanwhile, I await a report from Dennis, et al., on the HB
1047 hearings. Dennis contacted some of the local media and
hoped to ask the committee members a lot of embarrassing
questions. This legislative session seems to be a washout but in
the interval until the next year's session, I want to find a
sponsor push legislation to end the driver's license suspension
for a marijuana "crime", a medical marijauna bill, and, perhaps,
a re-legalization bill. Stay tuned for developments.
paul hager email@example.com
"The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason."
-- Thomas Paine, _The Age of Reason_
From: "Paul Hager"
Subject: WoD: Frontline Report -- 24-Sept-1993
Frontline Report -- 24-September-1993
I thought I'd share with the net my first ranging shots in a
battle that has developed here in Bloomington, Indiana. To fill
everyone in ...
A local Republican politician, Jim Fielder, the incumbent
County Clerk, was busted for possession of less than 30 grams of
marijuana a few weeks ago. Although this is only the most recent
of a long series of offenses perpetrated by drug warriors, it
elicited a strong response from the Prosecutor's office headed by
Democrat, Bob Miller. In essence, Miller said that police
shouldn't be wasting their time getting search warrants to seek
out misdemeanor violations of the state drug laws.
As the story has unfolded -- which story has been
extensively covered by the local newspaper -- Fielder has
complained about intimidation by the police who demanded that he
"name names" of other government officials who were "users" lest
the police "ruin" his career. Then the floodgates opened. More
people came forward, going public with stories of botched police
raids where no drugs were found but people were humiliated and
"treated like criminals" -- e.g., a grandmother was made to stand
in her nightgown while police rifled through her belongings.
The local police have also been zealously pursuing the
"threat" of "drug gangs" in Bloomington, claiming that "Crips and
Bloods" have found our town fertile ground for "recruits." I
believe, although I'm not certain, that some of this may be
driven by anti-gang grants that were obtained by the police
department. Recently, the police began harassing youths who
gather on Kirkwood Street claiming that they were members of
gangs and that they were wearing "colors." To his credit, Miller
has finally spoken out about this insanity and appears to be
taking steps to rein in the cops. Meanwhile, a "citizens" Anti-
Gang Task Force has formed and is now holding meetings -- I call
the meetings two minute hates.
There has been a surprising public backlash against the
excesses which could be a source of political recruits.
Accordingly, I've been fairly active of late making contacts. I
was also interviewed by the local newspaper as a representative
of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union. What follows is my first
"official" polemic. Enjoy.
To the editor:
I was gratified to see that Prosecutor Bob Miller has taken
a principled, if belated, stand on the actions of the local
police. This stand, however, does not fully exculpate Mr. Miller
from responsibility in helping to bring about the current
To a certain extent, we can trace the activities of the
police to the hysteria generated by the drug war and the
institutionalized zealotry of the Governor's Commission for a
Drug-Free Indiana (DFI). Early in the existence of DFI, Mr.
Miller operated closely with them. Gathering from his recent
statements, this association was more a matter of politics than
of conviction. I say this because the threat of "drug gangs" is
one of the standard hobgoblins conjured up by DFI.
There is something more insidious at work here. Who
remembers the squalid Shuon affair in which the Prosecutor's
office, amid wild charges of "Satanic" crimes, engaged in the
religious persecution of Dr. Shuon and his followers? This is no
mere coincidence. The linkage of drugs, gangs, and mostly
imaginary Satanic crimes in the paranoid fantasies of perfervid
drug warriors is behind an unprecedented increase in police power
nationally and locally.
I'm glad that Mr. Miller has finally decided to distance
himself from the officially sanctioned nuttiness about gangs that
has infected the local political establishment. Unfortunately,
no one else seems to be willing to follow Mr. Miller's lead. I'd
wager that 80% of people in local government recognize that all
of this talk about drug gangs is a manifestation of hysteria.
Maybe it's time for them to dust off their copies of Profiles in
Courage and show a little political spine.
NOTE: The "Shuon" affair to which I refer really was squalid.
Shuon, originally from Switzerland, is an internationally known
philosopher and theologian who has made his home here in
Bloomington. Shuon has a group of followers or disciples who
have formed a community. A couple of years ago, a disgruntled
follower of Shuon leveled charges against him and his group to
the effect that they were engaging in child sexual abuse and
Satanism. Fortunately, Shuon and his devotees were not heavily
armed which prevented a Waco-style massacre. But I digress.
Shuon and some of his followers were arrested and brought in
shackles (yes, this really happened) to the courthouse where they
were charged. The case collapsed when it became clear that there
was no evidence save the claims of the disgruntled follower, a
person who it turned out was of unsavory reputation and limited
paul hager firstname.lastname@example.org
Hager for Congress, c/o Libertarian Party
PO Box 636, Bloomington, IN 47402-636
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank