Sunday, August 31, 2003


That's the view of Main Street from the gates of Smith College. I haven't walked past that first traffic island in months. That's the thing about lovely downtown Noho. If there is one word that could sum it up, it's convenience. Everything you need and a fair amount of the stuff you just might want, is within three blocks walking distance. Since my day job is also within that triangle, I don't have much reason to wander out of the hood. The short spire with the red roof is the Courthouse. That's as far as I usually need to get. My office is a half a block further east past the white building in the middle of the shot. Even downtown you can't see it for the trees.


I'd meant to get more done inside the house today, they were predicting rain, but it turned out to be so unexpectedly perfect, I headed outdoors instead. I didn't go downtown though, I toured the local gardens on the side streets, all finally in full bloom after such a cold summer and doomed I'm afraid, to end too soon this year. The almanac is predicting another tough winter. I ended up at the track of course. I love horses. That's an actual picture of the grandstand at the fair by the way and more than likely the same jockeys that rode today. Same guys are here every year.

From the time I was 8 years old, I always wanted a horse. My favorite TV programs were My Friend Flicka, Fury (about a black stallion) and I adored National Velvet, the movie was made into a series for a short time. At this point, I don't want to own one, but I like this weekend when the ponies come to race in my town. Thanks to Ronnie Sarazin and his friend Stan, I learned enough about how to read the statistics in the program that I could instruct a few strangers today in the terminology but I don't really care about the gambling. The only reason I put my two dollars down on a race is to fit in with the crowd and to have a reason to cheer my horse.


My inbox is overflowing into the red zone with unread WODSU news but on the last weekend of summer, I just don't want to talk about it. There is one heart wrenching eulogy however, posted by Phillip S. Smith, Drug War Chronicle Editor, at DRC Net for his brother, that I want to leave you with. Bradley Brent Smith was 46 when he died in prison a few weeks short of release. He made some mistakes in life, but he did not deserve to die from the lack of proper medical attention.

Phil sums it up in his editorial, One Less Prisoner in America, a thoughtful look at what went wrong. I leave you with this excerpt:

And that is a true tragedy. I have been in prison myself -- on a marijuana charge -- and I have experienced for myself the mind-numbing sorrow, loneliness, and futility of prison life: the gradual falling away of girlfriends, wives, friends, and all too often, family; the severing of connections with any community; the despair, the depression, and hopelessness; the sheer cruel idiocy of prisons full of nonviolent offenders. In my case, I was old enough and mature enough emotionally and politically to turn the experience into one that steeled me instead of one that broke me. But too many other prisoners do not have those tools or life experiences. My brother certainly didn't when he went to prison at 18 over a bag of pot.

And that's the last word.

Saturday, August 30, 2003


The Three County Fair just started this weekend. It's the biggest piece of New England Americana that remains pretty much intact around here. Cummington and Littleville still have authentic agricultural events, with horse pulls and wood chopping contests but Noho is only one remaining in Massachusetts that has horse racing.

It was a funny day at the track. It was a grey day and they had to put a horse down right in front of the grandstand in the third race. The horse broke its leg on the first turn and threw the jockey. They dropped the tarp for a moment, right before the unfortunate creature got the shot. We made eye contact. He knew. I should have left then.

But the jockey was okay. He rode the rest of the day and actually won another three races and I spent time with a few people that I hadn't seen in a long while. I lost twenty bucks, but it was worth the money to spend the day away from the keyboard and get some fresh perspective along with some fresh air.

I sat with Ron Sarazin, my old boss from the Baystate Hotel, as I always do. He taught me how to read the program and play the ponies. It's a miracle in a way that we ever became friends, much less remain so. We could not be more opposite, politically and philosophically. Still he has a good heart and a good mind and he challenges my assumptions.

I'm giving him the quote of the day, even though he is such a Luddite he refuses to learn how to use his computer and will never read it. We were in a political discussion with a couple of other people and he got so annoyed at the point I was making, he said to them"

"Don't listen to her, she's just a Libby-terian".

Maybe you had to be there, but it made me laugh.

Friday, August 29, 2003


Party energy has been building up for the last hour or so outside my window. I turned my Christmas lights on to add to the spirit. My bay window frames the porch. I have a feeling this one is going to be big. Just found out they're all friends of the Warren Commission, a band that used to play at the Baystate. As I recall, they were a substantial crowd and it's their last night together after five years in town. Never really got to know them, but I did like them. I'm sure I won't need my earplugs. In fact, I kind of hope the band does an acoustic set at the party.

Guess I'll probably spend some time sitting on the stoop tonight.


I turned on CSPAN when I got home and there was Clarence Thomas taking questions from a roomful of black high school kids living in DC. He is not a great public speaker, his 'um' is the title of the piece, and the kids asked some kick-butt questions. I wish the White House media lemmings would be that tough.

His Honor was thrown by the adjudication of the Bush regime question but he was ready on the affirmative action decision. He hit his element when he started talking about his granddaddy however, who was a veritable fountain of appropriate maxims:

Don't let the sun catch you in bed.

Get up, you think you rich?

You got to work twice as hard, to get half as far

It was interesting. The room warmed up when he started talking like he remembered his roots. You could see it in the kid's faces. He pitched the importance of the voting concept well, particularly in light of being unexpectedly confronted with text taken from the Bush decision in which he said an individual's vote wasn't important and then having to decline the question. Hope those kids grow up to be journalists.


You may scoff at astrology, but all I know is my world started spinning back into a positive orbit practically the moment that Mars hit it's apex, or is that apogee? I had my last heroin argument with Harry yesterday, sitting on the City side of the bars. Harry is the most astute business owner I know, he really listened to me and he understood. I think I got through. In the end, you have to put aside your personal judgments and look at the economic side of the question. It costs less to let them use it than it does to try to stop them.



Back to the cannabis front at last, there are developments but unfortunately, mostly sad.

From, this newsbrief reports that Hemphry, a 1971 Volkswagen van used as a promotional vehicle by the Canadian hemp firm Pure Hemp, is currently being detained by Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE, formerly US Customs) in Maine. Hemphry, which sports a hemp field motif and "Pure Hemp" license plates, was impounded earlier this month after driver Johannes Chapman attempted to cross the border while carrying eight pounds of roasted, seasoned hemp seed. Hemp seed is legal in the United States, but Hemphry was seized and Chapman faces marijuana importation charges.

Hemphry remains in custody pending further tests of the hemp seeds. Chapman was turned back from the United States, but has been invited back to face the marijuana importation charges September 9.

Hemphry was seized on the way to the big Phish concert in Maine by the way. He did nothing illegal, this is just one more outrage perpetrated by the thugs upholding the Bush agenda. I'm reminded of the orcs in Lord of the Rings.


A bittersweet victory was won by medical marijuana patient and activist Christopher Robert Giauque in his four-year battle to reclaim an ounce of pot seized during a 1999 traffic stop.

On Monday, Chief Judge Marilyn Patel of the U.S. District Court, Northern California, ruled the ounce of marijuana must be returned to the activist. Unfortunately he has been missing since August 9th. His family suspects foul play and has offered a $50,000 reward for information as to his whereabouts. Good decision. I hope Christopher is merely hiding and is enjoying the outcome.

Funny how judicial conduct has slipped onto the radar screen today. I found this USA TODAY story about downward depatures on mandatory sentencing, a positive development. In this article, even the conservative Justice Rehnquist called the adminstration's latest edict to track the depatures as "troubling" and said it "could amount to an unwarranted and ill-considered effort to intimidate individual judges."

I love it when he talks like that.


Last word and quote of the day goes to Clarence Thomas' grandaddy:

You can't change the hand you're dealt. You just have to play it.

They say he was a really good Whist player.

Thursday, August 28, 2003


Some days nothing happens to me and I don't know what to say. Some days so much happens, I don't know where to start. Yesterday was the latter. Details to follow later this evening. For now, I'm a bit pressed for time so let me tell you about the 'invitation' I just found in my mailbox.

We have a lot of turnover in this building. The students often live here for only a semester or two. My neighbors next door have been here such a short time, that I never really learned their names. It seems however, they are having a party tomorrow night that promises to be raucous. Smart kids though, they invited all the neighbors to attend. Should we choose not to attend, we are also invited to complain directly to them about the noise rather call the police when the event runs into the wee hours. I like their style. Attached to the invite was a package of earplugs along with instructions for use.


David Borden, founder and executive director of the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet), an organization which calls for an end to prohibition and the so-called "war on drugs" has committed a courageous act of civil disobedience. In an eloquent open letter to DC's Chief Judge, Rufus G. King III, he explains his reasons for refusing to answer the call to jury duty. Click the link for the full text, it's long but well worth the time to read. He sums it up in this paragraph:

My service as a juror in the District of Columbia would directly or indirectly support injustice, and would help to fuel the illusion that drug prohibition serves the health and safety of the public; when in reality only some form of legalization can adequately address the combined harms of drugs and drug prohibition, which in the currently one-dimensional public dialogue are commonly attributed only to drugs; and when in reality only some form of legalization can satisfy the fundamental obligation of society to respect individual freedom while requiring individual responsibility.

I await the court's reaction, with great anticipation. Initially I thought jury nullification, a citizen's right and responsiblity as espoused by Thomas Jefferson himself, was the answer. Unfortunately our current administration has decided to criminalize that choice as well. I think this idea of consientious objection to serving at all as a brilliant move. Thanks David.


Breathing a sigh of relief at the change in the energy. I'm so glad the Mars thing finally did its swing. I've had more arguments in the last week, than I've had in the previous decade. I woke about just before 6:00am, when the planet spun into the magic zone and had a day almost beyond description.

I took an unexpected and ultimately heated meeting with my boss, and almost immediately thereafter, quelled a person having a virtual nervous breakdown. By the end of the day, that looked like the easy part. At 7:30 I found myself driving through the dusky twilight of Hatfield, on my way to the 63 Roadhouse. Seasons are changing here. Last time I took this trip in June, it was still daylight at that hour.

Mark Herschler, my soul brother, was hosting the open mike. It was glorious to see him, he's my favorite player on the planet and I haven't seen him live in over a year. As always, he had a new song that knocked me out and had assembled a group of impeccable musicians. I'd heard of the bass player - Peter Kim- by reputation. He lived up to it on stage last night.

My ex-best friend/neighbor was noticably absent, as was his Miller's paramour, the co-owner of their establishment. Nonetheless, I had some fun with the 63 regs. Ran into Jake again. He's the really young guy working for the local kick-butt sound company. I also met Rodney Beauchesne, a/k/a Beau. He handed me a red card with text on both sides. I'm not entirely clear on what he trades in but his slogan is, "You Can't Beat My Deals!".

On the ride home, I saw Mars hanging in the sky over the fields on River Road. I pulled over for a moment and watched it pull away.


If someone had predicted six months ago that I would have spent the last week supporting the legalization of heroin, I would have sneered. I want to shout it out loud. I HATE HEROIN. It's a dangerous substance. It has taken too many of those I held dear, away from me too soon. I wish nobody wanted to consume it and frankly, having tried it once, I don't know why they want to.

But I'm pragmatic. The profit margin of the heroin trade in Afghanistan this year will reach 1. 2 billion. And that's just one country. People are buying this stuff to the tune of close to 8% of the world's entireeconomy and the continued criminilization of the substance merely fuels a criminal market driven by artificially inflated costs and conducted in an environment that necessitates violence in order to protect one's assets. If it was legal, these business men would be using lawyers rather than Uzi's to enforce their business agreements?

In any event, in what I hope will be my final post on the subject for a good long while, I going to post my conversation with my sister. In response to my post about the recent ODs here, she said:

Where are you? You haven't posted on your blog since Saturday. Listen, you can't lump all drugs under some innocuous umbrella with pot. Heroin, crack, meth are all processed drugs. They are not natural or safe even though their base ingredient is from a plant. It has been dramatically altered. We certainly do not need a clinic to help someone stick a needle in their arm or light a pipe. I don't mind standing on the side of decriminalizing marijuana, but the idea that this kid may have "inadvertnetly" gotten hooked? Come on Lib, what, he didn't realize he was shooting up an addictive drug? He was not an innocent bystander in a drive by, he was using heroin and no doubt knew exactly what he was doing. You might be right, he may have gotten some bad stuff laced with God knows what or some really pure stuff. He probably would have gotten more from pysch therapy than a drug clinic. I'm really sorry he died. I hate to see a young life wasted, but don't do a white wash and spin it to fit your agenda. If you are going to fight this war, you need to be real. All drugs should not be legal and your friend is a graphic example of why that is so.

I replied:

The alcohol prohibition didn't stop people from drinking either but it did create a black market driven by crime and people were dying and going blind from drinking bathtub gin. When the government came to it's senses and realized they can't stop people from using alcohol, they legalized and regulated it and reduced the harms of that drug.

Yes, heroin is problem. The solution is legalization and regulation. Our current policy of attempted eradication is destroying the ecology of the planet, has it stopped the production of drugs? They are no less available. They suppress the coca industry and the heroin industry grows and so do the number of addicts as heroin is more addictive than cocaine. They supress the heroin, and addicts starting making meth in their bathtubs. The demand does not decrease and
the black market and the crime associated with it,grows as well, driven by the rising prices which is the only real effect our current drug policy has on the market.

Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, gee I think I'll become a heroin addict today. Especially young kids, who think I'll try it just this once. I won't get hooked. It happens and where can they go for help when they find out they were wrong? To the grossly underfunded rehab facilities, where the waiting lists are years long?

Our incarceration strategy has put 2.1 million citizens in jail, 1 out 3 of them black men and 56% of the growth at the federal level is for non-violent drug convictions. 1 out of 123 Americans are in jail right now. More people in jail than Russia. More than China. It has not stopped the demand for drugs nor has it prevented the adverse consequences of the black market.



My sis and I debated this at great length, however she sums it up best:

Oh, and no matter what, I will always love you and accept you just the way you are, no matter what our differences.

And that the last word.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003


My world has been spinning for the last few days with a lot of negative energy. I'm still convinced it's the Mars thing. Everybody's fighting; I've been in three arguments myself. I haven't posted because I thought this blog had already become way too morose this week but then that's my life, so here's the smallest argument I'm in.

I have a major problem with one of the rules being enforced at the Eagles club. Under this regulation, anyone who ever was a member and let their dues lapse for any reason, will not be allowed in the club unless they pay their 20 bucks immediately. In the year and half I've been a member there, I've seen it enforced twice, both times involving friends of mine who had been out of town for a long time.

I'm certain this rule was enacted for a good reason once, however for a fraternal organization with a waning support base, it seems a bit counterproductive to recapturing lapsed members. It would be simple enough to put them back into the three time guest category.

I never speak at meetings. I've learned from long years of committee work that it only makes them longer, and I've sat virtually silent at a few of them here, but next month, I'm going to say just that. A practical solution in my mind, but I have a feeling it won't play so well with the trustees at the aerie. I may get pushed out of the nest for it, but what the hey, I'm an Eagle. I'm supposed to fly.


Rumsfeld, our Defense Secretary, keeps flying onto my radar screen as well lately. It appears he actually can tell the truth, the trouble is, our mainstream press does not seem to notice. This came in from Columbia Week, an excellent newsletter with the authentic news on what's happening in South America. You can subscribe to this free bulletin by writing to They don't seem to have a link to the web version of the publication. They published Donald's remarks on U.S. policy in Colombia, when he was asked how the United States is responding to soaring opium production in Afghanistan. I offer you this excerpt they posted of a CSpan segment as transcribed by Sanho Tree at Drug Policy Project.

DONALD RUMSFELD: "You ask what we’re going to do. The answer is, I don’t really know. I think it’s an awfully tough problem. My impression is that, in a very real sense, it’s a demand problem. It’s a problem that there are a lot of people who want it, a lot of people with money who will pay for it, a lot of people who will steal from others to pay for it--and that you can squeeze it down in one country to zero and you don’t change at all the amount of the product that ends up in Europe or the United States, because it’s demand that [determines] how much is going to get in there. You push it down in one country and it goes up in another country. You push it down in four countries and the price goes up because there’s a shortage. And the higher the price and the greater the willingness of people to take risks,..

Didn't I just say this recently? How he can understand this point and still justify trying to solve it with military campaigns and incarcerations? Of course, if we were building clinics at home, instead of bombing peasants abroad, he would be out of a job, or at least out of the limelight.


A writer and photographer that deserves a little light of his own, is Vlad (Tamarov) the Russian at the GNN forums. Vlad's bio reads: I was drafted in Soviet Airborne Special Forces in 1984. I was send to Afghanistan 3,5 month later . 621 days in war I didn't want. 217 days of combat I couldn't forget. During my service secretly I was taking pictures.

He paints an eloquent picture of the unwilling complicity of a soldier in conflict:

On August 10, 1984, my plane landed in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. There were no skyscrapers here. The blue domes of the mosques and the faded mountains were the only things rising above the adobe duvals (the houses). The mosques came alive in the evening with multivoiced wailing: the mullahs were calling the faithful to evening prayer. It was such an unusual spectacle that, in the beginning, I used to leave the barracks to listen -- the same way that, in Russia, on spring nights, people go outside to listen to the nightingales sing. For me, a nineteen-year-old boy who had lived his whole life in Leningrad, everything about Kabul was exotic: enormous skies -- uncommonly starry -- occasionally punctured by the blazing lines of tracers. And spread out before you, the mysterious Asian capital where strange people were bustling about like ants on an anthill: bearded men, faces darkend by the sun, in solid-colored wide cotton trousers and long shirts. Their modern jackets, worn over those outfits, looked completely unnatural. And women, hidden under plain dull garments that covered them from head to toe: only their hands visible, holding bulging shopping bags, and their feet, in worn-out shoes or sneakers, sticking out from under the hems.

And somewhere between this odd city and the deep black southern sky, the wailing, beautifully incomprehensible songs of the mullahs. The sounds didn't contradict each other, but rather, in a polyphonic echo, melted away among the narrow streets. The only thing missing was Scheherazade with her tales of A Thousand and One Arabian Nights...A few days later I saw my first missile attack on Kabul. This country was at war.

For photographs and more, visit Vlad's web site,


Ever the most creative voice of reason that finds its way into my inbox, Elmer Elevator offers up this scathing parody on the John Walters failed media campaign:

Top Ten reasons why rank-and-file (male) street police officers oppose the decriminalization of marijuana:

10. It's a gateway drug.
9. It sends the wrong message to our kids.
8. It's not your parents' Woodstock weed anymore.
7. It affects short-term memory.
6. Using pot aids terrorists.
5. If you're a black teen, you'll back up at a fried chicken restaurant and run over a little kid on a bike.
4. You'll lose your federal college financial aid.
3. It affects short-term memory.
2. Smoking pot will make you pregnant.


(drum roll)

21 Aug 2003
Rocky Mountain News (Denver)
by Berny Morson


Lafayette police are investigating an incident in which officer Gardner Mendenhall allegedly returned a marijuana pipe to a teenage girl after finding it in her purse.

Mendenhall is accused of sexually assaulting the 17-year-old girl the following night. He was bound over for trial on that charge Wednesday.

Police Chief Paul Schultz said Wednesday that officers are not supposed to return marijuana pipes to teenagers. He said the investigation is nearing completion. Mendenhall is on leave without pay from the department.

The pipe has come up several times in testimony on the assault charge.

[continues: 24 lines]


Quote of the day thanks to Jules who sends this new signature line making the rounds.

"I prefer a man who will burn the flag and then wrap himself in the Constitution to a man who will burn the Constitution and then wrap himself in the flag." -- Rep. Craig Washington

Saturday, August 23, 2003


We've had the kind of days in New England that you always wish to wake up to but rarely find. Cold front is pushing down hard from Canada and brought clear air, bright sun and a refreshing breeze. Feels more like September than August, but it was nice for it to have come on a weekend when I wasn't cooped up in the office.

It's the last weekend that the residents own the town for the academic year. The students will start taking over in the next week or so. The place is virtually deserted but the energy on the streets is crazy. I think it has something to do with Mars being so close to Earth. That's the planet of war isn't it?

Everything is so loud. Agitated conversations, raucous laughter, people singing, challenges being hurled - all ceaselessly echo on the nearly empty streets. Even our resident squirrel was acting exceptionally nutty in the last couple of days.


The town wears a shroud of sorrow this week. One of the dirty little secrets in these small New England towns is the heroin problem. No one denies it exists, but few want to admit how deeply it reaches into the community. I've watched the problem grow here for over a decade. When I arrived, almost no one was doing it. Cocaine was pretty much the party drug of choice. There weren't many ODs. Then the War on Some Drugs and Users escalated, driving the price up and the buzz in the clubs began to center around $5 bags of heroin. The kids thought if they only snorted it, they would be safe, but they started dying instead.

Now I don't advocate the use of this drug, or any drug for that matter. I think it's unrealistic however, to deny that the drugs are on the streets and that people are going to use them. Chances are, some 20 year old, perfectly clean cut kid you know, is snorting a batch of Taliban Gold right now. (I made the name up but I'll bet it's called something like that.) One of them will likely OD on it.

Around here the heroin deaths that occur within the good families are covered up. They are usually listed in the obits as unexpected deaths. Only the street people get attributed to an overdose in the evening news. Making an educated guess based on rumor and personal knowledge however, I'd say we lose at least a dozen young people a year to this drug.

There appears to be either a really bad or really pure batch on the streets right now. We've lost three users in the last ten days. Two were street people and the other was unattributed publicly. Young kid, maybe 23, good looking and smart. He was one of the regulars in the City after-work crowd. We had just started having conversations beyond the usual nod and small exchange of pleasantries.

Three days before he died, we had done a crossword together, having found ourselves at the same corner of the bar. He was about to give up but I filled in some more answers which renewed his interest. Between the two of us we finished it with the certainty that every answer was correct. He was a really nice kid. I wish he wasn't gone.

I was shocked when I heard the news. I've known a lot of users in my lifetime and I would not have pegged him as one. I suspect he either got hooked inadvertently, or was inexperienced and didn't realize he was taking too much. I can't help but think if we had clinics to administer legal doses of this drug, it wouldn't have been available on the street to kill him.


That's the problem with this ridiculous war. It does not acheive it's stated (and unobtainable) goal of eliminating drug use and it creates social problems that could be readily solved by simple regulation. If they put the millions they are spending on eradication into building clinics, the money would stay in this country, boosting our ailing construction industry and would help addicts, help themselves out of the cycle of addiction.

The only way they could possibly eradicate these drugs at their agricultural origination point is to launch an herbicidal attack from space and defoliate the entire planet at once. Even now, as our government plys its inhumane eradication policies against the coca plant in the Latin Americas, the poppies bloom to fill the void - supply for the demand. A demand that remains steady in spite of unprecendented numbers of our citizens in jail for non-violent possession. If you ask me, it's a hell of a dumb way to run a war.

Just take Afghanistan for example. Once touted by this administration as a prohibition success story, poppy production is now surpassing pre-Taliban levels. As recently reported by Time magazine,

This year, after a bumper crop of opium poppies, say U.N. officials, Afghanistan became the world's largest heroin producer, with an estimated $1.2 billion in profits.

The article goes on to say,

The debate over whether to crack down on the drug trade has reached the top levels of the Pentagon. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld doesn't want the already over-stretched 8,000 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan to become sidetracked from their main goal: to capture and kill terrorists. And chasing drug smugglers could take away allies from the Americans. Diplomats say many of the local commanders the U.S. military relies on for intelligence on al-Qaeda and the Taliban and to provide hired guns are mixed up in the drug business. "Without money from drugs, our friendly warlords can't pay their militias," says a Kabul diplomat. "It's as simple as that."

Let's see, Rumsfeld doesn't want to waste his resources on chasing drug lords. Is he still working for the same government that spent hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars on a media campaign to convince kids that even taking one hit of marijuana was supporting terrorists? And they wonder why that ad campaign failed.

Sorry if I'm sounding bitter today folks, hypocrisy always leaves a bad taste in my mouth.


There is some good news. Pete Guither at Drug War Rant has a good post on the pardon of The Tulia 35 . Extensive coverage on this moment of justice can be found in the MAPINC archives.

Peter also has an excellent section on actions you can take to end the war against personal sovereignty.

The action that is the dearest to me on that list, is the UMASS Medical Marijuana Project. They have been trying to get a license there for a long time. This is a legitimate application for a serious project that has been stalled for much too long by bureaucratic machinations designed to thwart necessary scientific research. Meanwhile patients suffer, the collateral damage of this political agenda. Please participate in this action.

A lot of people tell me they don't participate in political actions because it doesn't do any good. They believe there is no way to change the system. All I can ever say to that is - you're wrong. A concerted group effort can make a difference.

Last word of the day goes to Richard Lake, who has this to say on that theme:

...all that has happened since the bust went down in Tulia really got started and pushed along by a state reform group coordinating thru an email list of about 140 members - the Drug Policy Forum of Texas.

There are dozens of Tulia's out there, some recognized, some not, and of course not all as big. But from the start DPFT members recognized the problems, that the bust did not make sense, there just could not be that many coke dealers in a town that size, etc. and dug into the story, pushing the media, working with MAP to get the word out, etc.

In time other .orgs recognized the truths that DPFT presented and joined in. Today those more wealthy .orgs get much of the credit, as they paid for lawyers, etc. But it was folks just like you that put Tulia on the map.

Just one state email list and good folks on the list doing what needed doing is what made this happen.

Friday, August 22, 2003


I stopped on my way home from work for my usual dose of human contact at the City tonight, and witnessed what will become a legendary Keno run in the history of lovely downtown Northampton. I know the guy and his wife and I've seen his kids. I never remember any of their names.

The legend will tell that he arrived at 4:00 and left in two hours with more money than he really had in his pocket, but he was definitely on the longest winning streak I've heard tell of, or witnessed, in the year I've been stopping by this place. It was fun to watch.


A literal city is about to assemble in the desert of Nevada; a mini-model the size of the town I currently live in, of a sensible New World Order based on personal responsibilty. I've always wanted to go to Burning Man, but the Spirit didn't move this year either and I'm afraid by the next, it may grow too large for my solitary soul.

It's been a long time since I camped out under the stars alone, much less than within a city of briefly assembled, beautiful strangers. Still, I can't deny a big tug of regret when the first reports came in from those who will be there and are on their way. I had this moment where I thought, I could rent a Ryder van and sleep in that...... No, not going to happen.


Here in the Baystate, the countdown to the 14th Annual Freedom Rally has begun. One month to go until the Boston gathering of concerned citizens against the criminalization of personal choice. If you're northeast of NYC, this the the rally to attend. Hope to see you there. I'm signing up tomorrow.


I haven't been following the California gubernatorial extravaganza myself, but Donezone at UNDUN checked in with a valuable insight on this somewhat crowded race. I didn't even know that George Shultz had come over to the Arnold camp and I have no idea where Arnie stands on the medical marijuana issue but I have to think that it's not a bad sign that George is on board.

DoneZone notes:

Now would be a great time for california harm reductionists to pin down George Shultz on drug-war policy - since he's being touted as a major advisor to Arnold.

George and I were neighbors for many years in Cummington. He's a good man with a reasonable view on this war. Hope he sticks to it.


I'm kind of blown away tonight because our humble blog appeared in this week's Drug Sense newsletter in the Hot off the Web section. If you want to stay apprised of the news that matters, and you're short on time, subscribe to this digest. They don't call it Media Awareness Project for nothin'.

And that's the last word.

Thursday, August 21, 2003


It's going to be one of those flotsam and jetsam nights folks. This war can get so depressing sometimes. I think we could all use a night off....

Roger, the bartender at City, is one of the few people in this town that I can talk to about politics. I routinely print out the more obscure stories I run across during the week for him. I swung by to deliver his ration of political outrage tonight and he had a cheering tale to tell about unexpected opportunity. It seems that out of the blue, his friend was offered an interview with the NY Mets as assistant general manager. This just at the time he was looking for a job in NY and he's a Mets Fan.

Now I've been a Mets fan since the day they joined the league. They have not been doing well the last couple of seasons. I like to think a little of that hometown luck will run off on the team. I would love to see them win a subway series next year. Of course if they played the Red Sox, and don't scoff - they could, I'd have a conflict. I love an underdog and that team could certainly use some cheering up. Especially after the debacle in 87. Or was that 88?


I remember watching Hedy Lamarr movies as kid. As I recall, she was quite a siren even though she played intelligent women. I was suprised to learn she invented a technology. From the article:

A beautiful mind: how hollywood starlet Hedy Lamarr
invented spread spectrum technology - and transformed the wireless world

In WWII Hollywood, most actresses were content selling war bonds and rallying troops. But one young glamour queen got a patent for radio technology intended to help Americans torpedo German ships - and ended up changing the world

Indeed, it was that 1942 invention - patent number 2,292,387 - that Lamarr would consider her crowning achievement. Identified simply as a "Secret Communications System," Lamarr's idea helped change the world, even if the world didn't recognize it for nearly sixty years.


I picked up this little entertaining time-waster from the GNN forums. The guerrillas were having a jolly time entering the names of the ringmasters of our current political circus. My own name was not enlightening but many others reported uncanny results when they entered theirs. If you like word games, try the Anagram Scrambler


If astrology interests you, I got this link courtesy of Bambi, a great astrologist in her own right, while cruising the GNN threads a while back. I did the free chart and found the reading to be pretty much on target. If you want to know where your planets are, check out The Chart Builder at


Last word tonight goes to my pal Elmer Elevator. He wrote this a very funny LTE in response to this article about some Canadian MP's sneaky backroom dealing with our own deputy Drug Czar in an attempt to overturn a marijuana bill.

Re "MP group sought U.S. help to derail pot bill" (19 August), may I offer Jimmy Durante's valuable advice to the cabal of Liberal MPs who left behind a transcript of their secret meeting to enlist U.S. government help with their Parliament scheme:

"Say it wit' flowers
"Say it wit' mink
"But whatever ya do
"Don't say it wit' ink!
"-a-dinka-dee, a-dinka-doo ..."

And good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are. Thanks for reminding me of him Elmer. I used to love Durante.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003


It appears I need to issue my first correction. I recently quoted Jules Siegel and not only did I spell his name wrong, but I mis-quoted him. Jules told me he knew the Vietnam War would end when the Wall St. Journal published an editorial against it, not the New York Times as I had originally reported.

Jules is one of the most astute observers of the human condition I know, so while I still think it's a good sign that the NYT is coming out against the atrocities of the drug war, guess we'll have to wait for the WSJ to catch up to the times before we can expect this insanity to end.



I never thought I'd see the day when I'd link to an article by Juan Forero, but what really scares me about it is, it's a pretty well balanced story. When the mouthpiece of the mainstream media gets concerned enough to start telling the truth, we should all be afraid.

This in today from the New York Times, U.S. Backs Colombia on Attacking Drug Planes.

BOGOTÁ, Colombia, Aug. 19 — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, on a one-day visit to Colombia, said today that the United States would support Colombia in resuming a policy that allows Colombian fighter pilots to shoot down planes suspected of ferrying drugs or force them to land.

Such a policy, which has been criticized by human rights groups, was suspended in Colombia and Peru after a Peruvian jet fighter mistakenly shot down a private plane carrying American missionaries, killing two people, one an infant, in 2001.

A White House statement said President Bush had determined that Colombia had since "put in place appropriate procedures to protect against loss of innocent life."

Guess they figured enough time had passed that people will have forgotten that horrifying incident. And here's their appropriate procedures.

The downing not only raised serious questions about the lack of safeguards, but also deeply troubled American officials about future lawsuits, said officials familiar with the policy.

Those concerns helped delay a new program, said Phillip McLean, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for South America who helped negotiate the shoot-down policy with Peru in the mid-1990's.

"They wanted to make sure that the thing was put together to protect them," he said.

Mr. Vivanco said the fear of lawsuits has led American officials to shift more of the responsibility to Colombia. Indeed, the American official emphasized that the Colombian government, not the United States, would oversee the program.

"The U.S. knows for sure that they cannot protect themselves from domestic litigation," said Mr. Vivanco.

American officials and Mr. McLean said the Colombian government had been careful about downing planes even before the incident in Peru. Before the suspension in 2001, the air force here mainly focused on disabling aircraft on the ground.


Shooting down civilian aircraft unfortunately is the least of our worries. Of greater concern is the continued US support in the form of millions of our tax dollars towards the continued campaign of herbicidal warfare against the resident population living in the heart of our planetary ecosystem. Our government is essentially dumping tens of thousands of gallons of criminally toxic herbicides on innocent families who have nothing to do with the drug trade.

I've been searching for the identity of the surfactant in the herbicide Roundup they are using in Colombia for a long time. Finally found it and wouldn't you know it's my compatriot from the inaugural session of the NarcoNews J-School, Jeremy Bigwood, who wrote the definitive piece on this issue. I trust Jeremy's impeccable research skills completely. This is the real deal and Toxic Drift: Monsanto and the Drug War in Colombia was written for CorpWatch over two years ago.

The drift factor is the real concern here. There are stringent standards applicable to the application of this kind of agricultural poison. It has a legitimate purpose in the farming community, without it we would probably starve from crop failures but it has to be delivered precisely.

What it should look like

What happens in Columbia

It's all about the altitude and the collateral damage is being done to a society of innocent souls who are struggling every day to scratch a living from that tortured earth. Let me say it again, these poisons are saturating the heart of our ecosystem and from the cloudforests of Columbia, like castles made of sand, they will fall into the sea and be delivered onto our shores by the relentess tides, eventually.

From the article, here's what will be washing up on Cocoa Beach for your descendant's enjoyment.

In a talk at the University of California in Davis in May, Dr. Nivia said: "the [Roundup Ultra] mixture with the Cosmo Flux 411 F surfactant can increase the herbicide's biological action fourfold, producing relative exposure levels which are 104 times higher than the recommended doses for normal agricultural applications in the United States; doses which, according to the study mentioned, can intoxicate and even kill ruminants." The use of this enhanced Roundup would not be acceptable in the U.S. without prior testing and scientific evaluation.

Furthermore, the label Roundup label warns that: "It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in any manner inconsistent with its labeling. Do not apply this product in a way that will contact workers or other persons, either directly or through drift. Only protected handlers may be in the area during application."

This atrocity brought to you by Monsanto, by the way. Call me crazy, but this is not the legacy I want to leave for future generations.

Last word of the day on this issue goes to Sanho Tree's photo essay of the damage done by this Monsanto product. For my regular readers, this is a repeat from several weeks ago, but worth a second review.



Tuesday, August 19, 2003


I found myself surprising alert at 11:30 last night and remembered Al Johnson of the Drunk Stuntmen was doing a new solo thing across the street at Harry's. It was like a homecoming. I used to bartend at the music scene bar a year and a half ago. I've barely seen that crowd in about that long but I saw a lot of my favorites last night. All the Stuntmen were there along with Tall Girl, (whose real name is the same as my daughter's). As soon as I walked in the door I was glad to run into really old friends, Mark Bode, (the pink Shiva is his btw), and his lovely wife Molly.

I next found myself eye to eye with Mark Herschler, my kindred soul. Our story is one that can't be told in few enough words tonight, it must suffice to say it was magical to run into him. It has been far too long. As an added bonus, I caught Harry himself, cozying up with Jeannie in the corner and caught up on their exploits as well.

We were all there for the music and Al just knocked me out. It was a musical side of him I had never seen before and he played some guitar that left me breathless.



Speaking of social events, the Students for Sensible Drug Policy, is holding a fundraiser in Baltimore at The American Visionary Art Museum currently showing the exhibit "High on Life", an exhibit of art about drugs, the drug war, and addiction.

I'd love to get to this one. I know the speakers. Preston Peet, will be there, Shawn Heller, director of SSDP, who immediately responded with help to my email about getting signatures on Marco Cappato's UN appeal, Anthony Papa who I just know of, and Valerie Vande Panne, writer and SSDP board member who I came to know as a friend in Merida. I'm still trying to work out the details, but if you're in the area, I would recommend this event.

Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be served.

Saturday, August 23rd, 2003
7 PM
American Visionary Art Museum
800 Key Highway
Baltimore, Maryland
$50 suggested donation, all proceeds go to Students
for Sensible Drug Policy.

For more information contact Darrell Rogers at



Howard Wooldridge rides his horse, "Misty," down the long road to sensible drug policy. This is the third year that Howard has been riding cross country to carry the message of cops against this war. I believe I met Howard briefly in Merida this winter, at least the hat and the mustache look familiar. I thought at the time he was from Texas. Thanks to Richard Lake over at, for posting this heartening story, FORMER COP SAYS LEGALIZE DRUGS.

Howard is a sensible guy with a very clear take on the harms of prohibition. He has this to say about the War on Some Drugs: The millions of hours spent on drug enforcement reduce public safety.

"There's a massive crime wave because of the U.S. prohibition of drugs," he said. Drugs are cheaper, stronger and easier to buy than ever before.

Wooldridge is a founding member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of current and retired police officers who support legalizing drugs. He retired from law enforcement in 1994.

In response to those officers who would claim locking up the dealers will solve the problem of drug abuse, he says, "They make big busts and fill up prisons, but does it reduce the supply of drugs on the street? No." "We condemn our children to grow up in a world of blood-sucking drug dealers and their free samples, and since all profits go to criminals and terrorists, where's the upside?"

"If legalized, the price of drugs would drop precipitously," he argues. "With prices slashed, abusers wouldn't have to steal to get money to buy drugs, and a drop in other crimes would occur. "If legalized, cocaine would drop from $45 a gram to $2. Additionally, the $60 billion a year going to drug law enforcement could be reallocated to other areas."

Wooldridge is optimistic about his mission. "I sincerely believe that in eight to 10 years the baby boomers will be fully in control of government and at a minimum will end prohibition on marijuana," he said. "Enough voters will come to believe it's a waste of time for our thin blue line to be looking for pot under some kid's front seat."

"This is a good cause, and I'll work on it until it's solved or until I draw my last breath," he said.

And that's the last word tonight.


Monday, August 18, 2003


Some days nothing really happens to me. Yesterday was one of those days. I guess that's a good thing, I needed the rest and it gave me a chance to catch up on some long neglected correspondence and reading. Along the way, I discovered another blog speaking out against this inhumane War on Some Drugs.

Pete Guither is posting Drug War Rant as part of larger website. Check it out and while you're there be sure to take a look at his galleries of fine photographs. Pete and I appear to be kindred souls. Although we were unaware of each other's existence until yesterday we have both been focusing on the same articles among the all too many choices on drug war news.

Pete offers this insight on Will Glaspy's remark that the DEA knows "it can't arrest it's way out of the problem".

It appears this phrase is part of the standard DEA phrasebook whenever they feel they need to look balanced. In fact, that exact phrase has an interesting history:
- Barry McCaffrey first said it in 1996 and used it a number of times.
- Donnie Marshall (then DEA head) used the quote in 2000.
- Asa Hutchinson used it in an interview with the NY Times in 2001 when he was a nominee.
- Police Sylvester Johnson of Philadelphia used it as a slogan for his massive Operation Safe Streets.
- And it's on the DEA website.

Pete goes on to quote from the DEA's publication, "Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization":

Successful drug policy cannot take an "Either-Or" approach to harmful drugs. Just as we know we can't arrest our way out of the drug problem, we also know we can't simply turn our backs on the problem and throw up our hands in defeat. Rather, we must take a balanced approach that combines prevention, enforcement, and treatment.

Hah! I suppose that's why we have 2.1 million inmates in our prison system while treatment programs are being decimated across the country. It's time for the DEA to start walking their talk.


To underscore that point, this email alert arrived in the in-box today from CADCA a national anti-drug coalition. This is how much the DEA cares about their treatment programs:

DEA's Demand Reduction Program Threatened with Elimination

August 18, 2003

Last month, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary passed its appropriations bill with report language that would redirect all funding for the DEA's Demand Reduction program to strictly law enforcement activities....

Quoting the Harm Reduction professionals employed by this program:

...The DEA Demand Reduction Coordinators have unique expertise and credibility regarding enforcing our national drug laws and are the main law enforcement agents who bring this vital information to communities around the nation. While their efforts make up less than 1% of the DEA’s budget, they provide an essential link between Federal law enforcement and local communities...

... is imperative that as a field we actively advocate on behalf of the DEA's demand reduction program....

Now this is a legislative action but I see no word of the DEA leaping to the defense of the program. One percent of their budget is not pocket change, but don't you think they could spare that much to pretend they care about harm reduction? My guess is the professionals even in this program, much as the rest of the medical community, are beginning to understand that legalization is the only way to reduce harm.



At the same time, the prison statistics being released this week just keep getting worse. An AP story released yesterday, 5.6M Have 'Prison Experience' recounts a recent government report that about one in every 37 U.S. adults was either imprisoned at the end of 2001 or had been incarcerated at one time. That's about 2.7 percent of the adult population of 210 million as of Dec. 31, 2001, with "prison experience". And that doesn't count the people who were temporarily held, a time frame that can span several months or more while waiting for trial. Think about it friends, more people in jail than Russia or China. And we call those countries oppressors.



This administration just loves the crusader theme. They're determined to reform the heathens whether they like it not. Guess they figure it will be easier to evangelize if their audience is stuck in a jail cell. Faith-based drug wars published by Working For Change, reported that although more than 30 months have passed since President Bush announced the centerpiece of his domestic agenda -- his faith-based initiative -- and no significant broader efforts to fund his initiative has emerged from Congress, the administration continues to move ahead on a number of fronts.

Bush's latest faith-based proposal involves enlisting religious youth groups in the war on drugs. Towards that end the adminstration published 75,000 guidebooks called "Pathways to Prevention: Guiding Youth to Wise Decisions." Krissy Oechslin, of Marijuana Policy Project, remarked about the faith-based effort. "We do not oppose efforts to teach kids the truth about drugs. But the one thing that will likely be conspicuously missing from this faith-based initiative is any discussion about the effects of our drug laws."

When the president announced his National Drug Control Strategy, "compassionate coercion" was the term used to describe their strategy. Under the heading "Healing America's Drug Users" a White House fact sheet said: "Getting people into treatment -- including programs that call upon the power of faith -- will require us to create a new climate of ‘compassionate coercion,’ which begins with family, friends, employers, and the community. Compassionate coercion also uses the criminal justice system to get people into treatment."

Oh right there's those treatment programs again. You see a lot of teenagers sent to these quasi-boot camps in order to avoid a criminal record. That's how they manufactured the statistics about more teenagers admitting to being addicted to marijuana. It was say that or go to jail. What would you pick as a 17 year old who got caught with a joint?

This war against us is draining our treasury of 40 billion dollars a year and making a criminal out of one out of every 37 citizens. We are not criminals. It is this war that's a criminal waste of our all too finite communal resources.

Last word and quote of the day on this issue goes to Bruce Mirken, the Marijuana Policy Project's director of communications:

Bush's whole drug policy is in reality one gigantic faith-based initiative. It's sure not based on science or data, particularly in regard to marijuana. The government's own figures show that marijuana use by kids under 21 has gone up over 2000% since marijuana was banned, and a National Research Council study commissioned by the Drug Czar's office reported in 2001 that the evidence shows little or no relationship between the severity of criminal sanctions and rates or frequency of drug use.

If the government announced a program to reduce unemployment, and unemployment subsequently rose 2000%, that policy would be toast faster than you can say 'Bill Bennett loves to gamble, but the administration believes, with deep religious conviction that drugs are bad and must be banned. It's truly a faith based drug policy, and it ruins lives every day.

AMEN Bruce.


Saturday, August 16, 2003


The students aren't back yet so it was quiet in lovely downtown Noho on this beautiful morning. I was listening to the birds and cleaning out the inbox when the house started to vibrate with the unmistakable sound of an F-14. Jesus they are low I'm thinking, as I throw on a skirt and run outside to check. You see C-5As here a lot but the fighter planes rarely come over downtown.

My neighborhood was being buzzed by the Blue Angels! There's two military air fields in the area and one is having an airshow this weekend. There were four of them, circling in pairs, right over my head. When they came back over the condos, I could practically see the pilot. I read they were in town for the first time in many years. I didn't expect a personal show.

And for those who sneer at my new age belief in the power of the universe, (I'm often mocked for it), I'd just like to mention that I really wanted to see them but didn't want to set foot on a military base to do it. This show was brief, but more intimate than I would have experienced on the field. All I can say is, thanks Spirit for granting my wish.



I'm in discussion list withdrawal today. The Drugwar list is down because of the black-out. The members of the list have come to be a significant presense in my daily life and I'm feeling a little bereft without them. Fortunately, Preston's website is still available for today's ration of news from the front.

The Seattle Weekly published this story on Cops Against the Drug War. Jack Cole, a retired New Jersey State Police officer with 26 years of service, now leads a group of law-enforcement professionals who are disillusioned with the war on drugs called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP, a nationwide organization that declares the war on drugs an abject failure. It's cops like Jack that make me feel safer in the homeland and give me hope that we can yet restore sanity to civilized society in my lifetime.


Meanwhile, across the pond, Stephen Robinson of the UK Telegraph reports on England's new equivalent of the US AG, Director of Public Prosecutions, Kenneth MacDonald. Robinson says MacDonald isn't the first member of the Establishment to admit to 'youthful indiscretions'. As Francis Maude protested, "It was quite hard to go through Cambridge in the Seventies without doing it a few times,". The article is aptly named, 'Didn't everyone do dope at college?'


In our own federal government, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has suddenly acknowledged that opium production is on the rise in Afghanistan, according to an editorial, Drug war distortions, in today's Boston Globe. The Globe quotes Rumsfeld characterizing drug use as "a whale of a tough problem. And I'm afraid that the ultimate solution for that is going to be probably found by attacking it in all directions, not just the supply side but the education and demand side as well."

Not quite the right answer, which is not to attack but to regulate, but it's a start. Quote of the day however goes to Will Glaspy, Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman, who insists the overall policy is balanced, "combining strong enforcement with education and treatment". Glaspy goes on to say,

"We know we can't arrest our way out of it."

From your mouth to John Walters' ears, Will. It's time DEA policy started reflecting the reality of that statement.


Friday, August 15, 2003


The blackout barely registered in lovely downtown Noho. I was on the phone when the electricity blipped for just a second. The only thing we lost was the phone calls. Computers didn't even reboot. Oh, and there was also the one fried power strip.

Reports filtered in almost immediately. By bizarre coincidence, I received some spam in the morning that had a link to a really cheap hotel in Chelsea, and I was going to book a room for the weekend.

Perversely, I'm watching the footage and wishing I was there. I love New York. I don't know how it got this reputation as a cold town. Of all the cities I've spent time in, New Yorkers are the friendliest locals I've ever met and something like this brings out the best in them. Besides, it's been twenty years since you could see the night sky over the big city.

Thinking of all of you who are in the midst of the crisis and hope you are having the kind of encounters that restore your faith in your fellow man.



Well if you thought I was excited about finding the blog on page two of a Google search the other day, imagine my delight at finding out I'm on page one when you google the words Last One Speaks. I've tried this periodically since I started the blog without success but Karen tried it on a whim yesterday and there we were at hit number two. I don't know how Google finally found me, but thanks for the boost guys.



One of the more over-looked aspects of the prison-indutrial complex is this policy of virtually selling prisoners to the lowest bidder. Not only are they imposing ridiculously long sentences but then they ship them out to places so far away, it precludes any meaningful contact with their families.

I remember when they spoke of prisons as wanting to rehabilitate criminals. When they turned the jails into profit-making enterprises, it kind of removes the incentive for that, doesn't it?