Subject: WoD: Frontlines report -- 26-Feb-93 Pod people, Daylight Savings Time, and other

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

From: "Paul Hager" Subject: WoD: Frontlines report -- 26-Feb-93 Pod people, Daylight Savings Time, and other surreality. 26-Feb-1993 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 me back. 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 response. 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 "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. --------------------------cut here-------------------------- 24-September-1993 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 situation. 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. Paul Hager [278 words] --------------------------cut here-------------------------- 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 trustworthiness. -- paul hager Hager for Congress, c/o Libertarian Party PO Box 636, Bloomington, IN 47402-636 **************************************************************************


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank