Thursday, May 15, 2003

I've been meaning to blog in depth about this particular subject recently, and I still might one of these days. But since someone who knows way more than I do on this subject, you might as well check out what this most recent Salon article had to say which discusses the new book by Eric Schlosser has to say. There's also an interview with the author as well;

Hypocrisy is one of the indictments Eric Schlosser levels against America in "Reefer Madness," his smart, levelheaded look at the unpleasant truths that emerge when you turn over the rock of mainstream American business and check out what's underneath. The other is that our worship of the almighty free market leads us to ignore injustice -- because, as he points out in his discussion of illegal laborers, "giving unchecked freedom to one group usually means denying it to another." It's hard to argue with these conclusions. But Schlosser's analysis takes a back seat to the vivid portrait he paints of three funny-money zones where punitive moralism, venality and Puritanism grow as luxuriantly as 10-foot-high Humboldt County sinsemilla. Although Schlosser is a meticulous reporter who rakes the muck with the best of them -- his bestselling "Fast Food Nation" emptied out the grease trap of the fast-food industry -- "Reefer Madness" is more of a guided cultural tour, by turns infuriating, depressing and weirdly entertaining, than a polemic. "If the market does indeed embody the sum of all human wishes, then the secret ones are just as important as the ones that are openly displayed," he writes. "Like the yin and yang, the mainstream and the underground are ultimately two sides of the same thing. To know a country you just see it whole."

Face it - all that mumbo jumbo about the free market, supply and demand and the heart of capitalism is is conflict with "Family Values", or at least the Family Values the Religious Right would impose on the nation if they had their way. People like violence in movies, Marijuana (and other drugs), Pornography and a slew of other so called sinful things. These items do quite well in the underground economy. When are some of those who advocate the free market is the answer to everything (except what they don't like very much) going to realize the flaw in their argument? The idea of completely free markets are in direct conflict with the family values that those same politicians claim to want.

Here's a link that is jaw dropingly stunning and yet not surprising at all at the same time - CONGRESSIONAL FAMILY DRUG OFFENDERS ESCAPE MANDATORY SENTENCES, GET FAVORABLE TREATMENT:

TODD CUNNINGHAM--SON OF U.S. REP. RANDY "DUKE" CUNNINGHAM (R-CA): In Boston, Todd Cunningham, 29, was sentenced on November 17 to 2-1/2 years in federal prison for marijuana smuggling. Rep. Cunningham, who has supported the death penalty for drug traffickers, made a tearful plea to U.S. Judge Reginald C. Lindsay for leniency for his son. Prosecutors supported the sentence, which is half the mandatory five-year term for such an offense, because Cunningham provided information about other offenders involved in the smuggling operation. It was Cunningham's first conviction (Bill Murphy, "Son of lawmaker sentenced to prison," SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE, November 18, 1998).

Prosecutors had agreed to recommend a 14-to-18-month term in boot camp and a halfway house for Cunningham, but the Representative's son tested positive three times for cocaine while released on bail. On the day of the third failed drug test, Cunningham tried to escape authorities by jumping out a window onto a restaurant roof, breaking his leg. He is scheduled to participate in drug treatment while in prison, which, if successful, may reduce his sentence by as much as a year.

Todd Cunningham was arrested on January 17, 1997, by DEA agents for flying more than 400 pounds of marijuana into Lawrence Municipal Airport in North Andover, Massachusetts (see "U.S. Rep. Cun­p;ningham's Son Charged With Drug Trafficking," NEWSBRIEFS, February 1997, p. 30).

On August 14, 1997, Cunningham pleaded guilty to possession and conspiracy to sell marijuana. He also admitted to helping smuggle two other shipments of marijuana out of California (Bill Murphy, "Law­p;maker's son pleads guilty," SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE,, August 15, 1998).

CLAUDE SHELBY--SON OF SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL): On July 24, authorities at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport arrested Claude Shelby, the youngest son of US Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), for possession of 13.8 grams of hashish. Claude Shelby, 32, is married and has one child. Sen. Shelby is chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence ("Drug Charge," USA TODAY, July 29, 1998, p. 6A).

U.S. Customs Service inspectors found the hashish in Shelby's possession using a drug-sniffing dog. Shelby, who had arrived on a flight from London, was issued a $500 fine, which he paid on the spot. He was then turned over to the Clayton County Sheriff's Department for state prosecution.

Responding to the incident, Sen. Richard Shelby said that he and his family were "shocked and saddened" by the charge but that he would "stand by him through this difficult ordeal." The senior Shelby added, "My position on fighting drugs is well known. It continues to be a priority for me regardless of personal circumstances."

"The senator may find it hard to be stoic if his drug-fighting colleagues in the House have their way," said Monica Pratt, communications director for Families Against Mandatory Minimums, in an op-ed in the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. Pratt was referring to the "Drug Importer Death Penalty Act" (HR 41), introduced by House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), which would mandate a life sentence without parole for offenders who import "100 usual dosage amounts" of a controlled substance, and a death sentence for such offenders with a prior conviction for a similar drug offense. The measure does not define what amounts constitute "100 usual dosages." Pratt said, "Under this broad definition, Claude Shelby's 13.8 grams of hashish could be enough to qualify him for life imprisonment (Monica Pratt, "Congress Comes into the Courtroom," ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, August 12, 1998). The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines provide that 1 gram of hashish is the equivalent of 5 grams of marijuana and that 1 gram of marijuana is two doses.

"Luckily for the senior Shelby, he will not know the pain of visiting his son in prison for the rest of his life. . . . Perhaps his son's brush with the law will convince the senator that life-and-death sentencing policies are not trifling matters to be bandied about during election-year politicking," said Pratt.

DAN BURTON II--Son of U.S. Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN): In January 1994, Dan Burton, Jr., was arrested in Louisiana for transporting nearly eight pounds of marijuana in the trunk of his car. Rep. Burton is the chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. Six months later, Burton was arrested again, this time at his Indianapolis apartment, where police found thirty marijuana plants and a shotgun with ammunition. Federal prosecutors declined to prosecute the case; Indiana prosecutors recommended dismissal of the charges against Burton; and a Louisiana judge sentenced him to community service (Associated Press, "Congressman's Son Arrested With 7 Pounds of Marijuana," GARY POST-TRIBUNE, January 14, 1994, p. B5; Eric Schlosser

The link just has more of the same kind of info on Reps and Senators with relatives who got lenient terms with drug convictions. And aint it interesting that so many of these elected government officials are Republicans?


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