Friday, December 26, 2008

Voice, Song and Speech - Mariani Coca Wine

From Vin Mariani advertisement appearing in the 1884 book
Voice, Song and Speech
Lennox Browne, Emil Behnke

The wonderful properties of Coca are daily becoming more known, both as a general tonic and as a special fortifier of the throat and voice.

Coca (Erythroxylon Coca) is not, as is often supposed, Cocoa, but a shrub very much resembling Tea. It grows wild in South America, and is cultivated in Bolivia and other parts especially lor its leaves, which contain its Tonic and Ktitoralirt properties. Various methods have been tried for extracting these properties, but nothing has been found to succeed so well as a maceration of the leaves in wine.

A generous Bordeaux, of particular vintage and special character, has been employed in its manufacture. The reasons for its selection are that it contains only just the proportion of alcohol absolutely necessary to extract and hold in permanent suspension the mucilaginous, resinous, and essential atoms of the leaves, besides which it contains in its natural state small quantities of Iron and Tannin, which add to its general properties, but do not derange the digestive organs, or upset the system by the unpleasant astringent properties of most tonics. Further reasons are, that the wine when thus prepared is of very agreeable taste and pleasant aroma, and that it still contains the comforting and nutritious properties of a good Bordeaux. Unlike Quinine and many medical wines it can be taken for any length of time without fear of inflammation, or injury to the gastric juices. The beneficial effects of Vin Mariani have already been noticed in medical works, where it has been recommended to actors, barristers, clergymen, orators, singers, and to all who make great demands on the throat and voice.


COCA WINE (not Coco*)
Forms a very agreeable, and, according to the clinical experience of physicians in France, as well as in England, a very useful nervine stimulant. The value of Coca as an element of economy, as Manaud has judiciously named it, and as a similarly active agent in restraining waste, has been insisted on by Sir Robert Chrislison and many others. Coca wine is largely prescribed and used in France ; and it has been found generally valuable as a remedial agent in cases of nervous exhaustion, over-study, or excessive mental exertion. It has a certain reputat1on for enabling athletes to perform fatiguing feats without the usual amount of bodily waste, and will certainly be found considerably to alleviate the distress often incurred by students and others who are called upon to make considerable mental efforts.—British Medical Journal, May 5th, 1881.
We can speak very highly of Mariani's Wine as the most palatable and efficient preparation of coca leaves which has come under our notice. It is within our knowledge that when adm1nistered t , persons suffering from nervous exhaustion and extreme mental and bodily fatigue, it has proved most grateful and restorative. Singers, public speakers, students, and others, have found relief from mental and bodily strain from its use, and we arc inclined to think, as it becomes better known in England, it will be much more extensively employed.—Medical Record, June 15, 1881.

L'usage mode're' du vin .Mariani cst done utile aux hommes de cabinet fatigue's par un labcur CTcessif, aux convalescents dont un sejour prolonge' au lit aura aboli les forces musculaircs, aux diabetiques, dont les muscles ont perdu leur clasticite' et leur vigueur.—iiascttt des H&pitaux.

"Messrs. Roberts & Co., "Manh, 1881.

" 76, New Bond Street.

" Dear Sirs,—As I have derived great benefit from the use of Mariani Coca Wine (taken some twelve months ago under medical advice,', I have no hesitation in recommending it as a vocal restorative to all who have to use their voice professionally. " Very truly yours,
vocal instructors were early Vin Mariani enthusiasts.
At the special recommendation of Dr. Lennox Browne, of London, I have tested carefully the " Vin Mariani, " and I recognize that its splendid eflfect upon the voice is extremely satisfactory, and almost instantaneous. For over two years I have tried it, ordering it to my pupils, both ladies and gentlemen, whom I had under my care for the development of the voice, and I have invariably remarked that when-ever they had any difl&culty in singing or elocution, the " Vin Mariani" enabled them to continue the lesson, which, without it, would have been utterly impossible. I have thus every reason to be glad that my attention was called to this wonderful preparation, and am convinced that all artists and orators will welcome it and be happy to adopt it.

Emil Behnke.

The late Dr. Elsberg recommended " Vin Mariani " to me when I had been suffering with hoarseness from a severe cold, and had a long New England tour before me. I found it to act like magic upon my vocal organs. I found it also an excellent nervine. I consider Mr. Mariani a benefactor to public speakers and singers.

Settie Blume.

After having given the " Vin Mariani " a fair trial, I have found it very beneficial for my exhausting profession, " teaching singing." It strengthens not only my voice, but my whole nervous system, that I can go through my heavy daily work.

Luisa Cappianl

It is with much pleasure that I send you my testimonial for your " Vin Mariani " and your " Elixir  Mariani." During my professional career, I have been compelled to use both preparations, and know from experience that they are far ahead of any others manufactured. For toning the system and stimulating the vocal cords, they have no superior. I have come to rely upon them almost entirely, both during the many fatiguing hours of teaching and the various concerts I am called upon to participate in.

Francis Fischer Powers.

It is with special pleasure that I testify my most thorough appreciation of the excellent properties of the "VIN MARIANI." I have carefully watched its splendid effect upon the vocal bands, the mucous membranes, and the entire vocal apparatus, as likewise on the d'gestive organs and the system in general. I take it in small glassfuls before meals, and also occasionally during the day as a gargle, where it has proved itself most effective.


VERY cheerfully I state that I would never be without " Vin Mariani," and that since I used same, never have suffered from hoarseness.

Minnie Palmer.

I have found nothing to so thoroughly effect its purpose as the "Vin Mariani."

Harry Paulton.

I consider your " Vin flariani " a most excellent tonic for both singers and speakers.

J. W. Parson Price.

I would like to recommend to every singer, or any one going before the public, the use of the most delightful ''VIN MARIANI." I am never without it ; it is always on my dressing-table


Thursday, December 25, 2008

William Tibbles on Coca and Tobacco, cocaine and nicotine



(excerpt- pp 266-268)

Coca, the leaves of Erythroxyloii coca, N.O. Erythroxylaceae.

A South American plant, grown largely on the Andes of Bolivia and Peru. The annual consumption in South America is said to exceed 100,000,000 pounds. It has been an incalculable blessing to the natives in all ages. Its physiological action places it in the same category as tea and coffee, but its effects are more strongly marked. Its power of preventing fatigue or of removing it has been well established.

Sir E. Christison made many experiments with it. He found during great exertion that fatigue was lessened and hunger and thirst prevented by it, and the mental faculties were liberated from the dullness and drowsiness which follow great bodily activity ; that the waste of the tissues was lessened by its use, although it did not diminish perspiration, nor were the digestive functions impaired by its use. The South American usually consumes coca by chewing it with a trace of lime or chalk. Its effects are those of a stimulant and restorative ; while quickening the heart and respiration, it prevents muscular and nervous exhaustion and diminishes the consumption of the bodily tissues, and enables a person to bear up against bodily fatigue with less food than usual, or even without any. It enables persons to climb high mountains without the difficulty of breathing customary in ascending from a low to a higher plane. The mental faculties are, however, said to be less stimulated by coca than by tea or coffee.

Composition. — Coca-leaves contain 02 per cent, of cocaine (C^-HgjNO^), an alkaloid occurring in colourless monoclinic prisms, having a bitter taste, which is followed by a tingling sensation and numbness ; secondary alkaloids are ecgonine and Iso-atropyl cocaine ; it also contains hygrin, which gives aromatic properties to the leaf, together with coca-tannin and coca wax."

The physiological effects of coca are due to the alkaloids, and are analogous to those of tea and coffee. It may therefore be used in the form of an infusion, wine, or elixir, as a general stimulant to diminish or remove the exhaustion due to muscular exertion and mental fatigue from overwork, worry or trouble, and in convalescence, nerve exhaustion, neurasthenia, nervous and muscular debility ; it may also be usefully employed in cases of insomnia, in gastric and intestinal indigestion, in which food is not properly assimilated, in cachectic conditions due to many diseases and blood poisons, and to combat the effects of opium and alcohol.

As in the use of other stimulants, a habit may be formed which is comparable in its results with the worst moral effects of opium-eating, morphinism, or alcoholism; but these cases are rare, except when cocaine is taken hypodermically for long periods and in excessive doses. Even chewing the leaf in excess will bring on various disorders, and the desire for it increases to such an extent with indulgence that a confirmed coca chewer is said to be never cured.

Of the alkaloids, iso-atropyl cocaine is a powerful heart poison, and cocaine will in time not only benumb the cerebral faculties, but reduce the subject to a state of complete mental imbecility, unable alike to perform his professional or social duties, and more or less unfitted for the companionship of his fellows. It is a good servant, but a bad master ! The increasing use of cocaine in the treatment of disease points to the necessity for care in prescribing it. ' A delicious beatitude' follows its application for hay-fever and other diseases, which has a tendency to make the patient a slave to the habit. Symptoms due to the habit usually begin with disorders of digestion, as loss of appetite and emaciation. But its chief pathological effect is, as indicated, upon the nervous system, in which some form of degeneration takes place which induces insomnia, tremors, incoordination ; even convulsions, paralysis, hallucinations or delusions, and delirium or insanity, may follow. It behooves all medical men to be extremely careful how and for whom they prescribe it, and to take especial care that the patient does not have a free hand in its use.

An agreeable coca essence or cordial may be made like an ordinary tincture by macerating 2 ounces of the leaves in 1 pint of proof spirit, with the addition of ginger, cloves, allspice, or other aromatics ; two teaspoonfuls added to a tumblerful of warm sweetened water makes a good beverage for all times of the year.

Coca wine may be made thus : Soak 4 ounces of ground coca- leaves in 16 ounces of hot water for three hours ; then add 64 ounces of port wine ; percolate 56 ounces ; and in it dissolve the sugar, add 6 ounces of alcohol, strain, and make up to 64 ounces with port wine. Each ounce represents 30 grains of leaves.


On Tobacco
(excerpt pp 271 - 278)

Tobacco {Nicotiana tabacum, N.O. Solanaceae). According to modern statistics, the average consumption of tobacco per annum by each inhabitant is as follows :

Netherlands, 3,400 grammes ; United States, 2,110; Belgium, 1,552 ; Germany, 1,485; Australia, 1,400; Austria and Hungary, 1,350; Norway, 1,335; Denmark, 1,125 ; Canada, 1,050 ; Sweden, 940 ; France, 933 ; Eussia, 910 ; Portugal, 850 ; England, 680 ; Italy, 635 ; Switzerland, 610 ; and Spain, 550 {Medical Becord, December 21, 1901).

Tobacco is a poison in every form in which it is used ; but use inures the individual to its effects, as it does to those of opium and other narcotics. The active principle is nicotine (Cj^H^^Np^), an acrid, oily, volatile liquid, of pale amber colour, smelling strongly of tobacco ; it can be resolved into nicotina, an alkaloid in the form of malates and citrates ; and nicotianine, or tobacco camphor, which is a concrete volatile oil. There are other principles besides nicotine in tobacco. Pictet and Eotschy4*5 extracted from 10 kilos of crude tobacco juice 1,000 grammes of nicotine, 20 grammes of nicoteine, 5 grammes of nicotinine, and 1 gramme of nicotelline, from which it is evident that nicotine is the principal agent, although the others probably have deleterious effects or become decomposed into secondary substances.

The proportion of nicotine varies according to place of growth, soil, and other circumstances. French tobacco contains as much as 7 or 8 per cent., Kentucky and Virginia 6 or 7, Havanna not more than 2 per cent. Sinnbold's analyses give the following results : European cigars contain 0-648 to 2-967 per cent, of nicotine ; Havanna cigars, 0-841 to 2-241 ; cigarette tobacco, 0-80 L to 2-887 ; and pipe tobacco, 0-518 to 1-584.-

"The physiological effects of tobacco are — (a) short stimulation of the central nervous system, followed by depression ; (b) similar stimulation of the sympathetic nerves, followed by a lasting paralysis ; (c) an action, like that of curare, on the terminal nerve-plates of the motor nerves in the muscles, also followed by paralysis. The heart is at first slowed and its contraction prolonged ; the blood-pressure is raised by constriction of the arterioles, due to excitation of the vaso-motor centres in the peripheral ganglia ; at a certain stage, however, this system is paralyzed and the blood-pressure is no longer affected by it ; motor paralysis is induced by its action on the intramuscular part of the nerves.' Other effects are trembling, giddiness, head-ache, salivation, contraction of the pupils, convulsions, paralysis, etc. That nicotine, the oily fluid containing the two alkaloids, is a powerful poison cannot be denied. The active principle in the smoke of a single cigar suffices to produce convulsions, paralysis, and death in a frog.

A drop of nicotine near the beak of a canary will kill it; two drops on the tongue will kill a terrier dog in a minute; two drops on the tongue of a cat caused convulsions and death in two minutes; and a mastiff dog was destroyed in five minutes by the application of ten drops in the same manner.

Death was always preceded in cases seen by the author by convulsions of a tonic character, and rigor mortis set in at once. In man, death has followed the injudicious application of a quid of tobacco to stop the bleeding of a wound ; the application of nicotine on the point of a needle to a decayed tooth caused serious collapse, and the use of an infusion of tobacco as an external application in skin diseases, and an injection into the bowels for intestinal obstruction, have caused death ; on the other hand, recovery is recorded after the injection of an infusion made from half an ounce of snuff and an infusion made from five tobacco-leaves.

The symptoms of acute nicotine-poisoning are observed when a person smokes a pipe or cigar for the first time ; there is confusion of the mind, giddiness, nausea, vomiting or purging, trembling of the limbs, faintness, feeble pulse, and a cold clammy sweat, which are the signs of shock or collapse as the result of a profound impression on the nervous and muscular systems. These symptoms have been observed in a man who was induced to chew a piece of ' twist tobacco ' to relieve him of toothache. When the dose is a large one, the breathing becomes difficult, the vision
dim, and convulsions occur ; death, preceded by more or less paralysis, may take place in fifteen to thirty minutes from tobacco, or in three or four minutes from the use of nicotine.

By custom most people become inured to the influence of nicotine in tobacco smoking, snuffing, or chewing. The moderate use of tobacco has a soothing and beneficial effect upon the nervous system of the man of business;' it soothes and cheers the weary toiler and solaces the overworked brain'; that it has a stimulating effect upon the cerebral functions can scarcely be conceded, although it temporarily increases the flow of blood through the cerebral arteries and may thereby spur a weary brain, and by the free supply of oxygen and food assist that organ in its work.
Many men of great intellect have been large smokers. In like manner, the after dinner pipe or cigar aids digestion by increasing gastric secretion and peristalsis, and has a hygienic effect in stimulating the corresponding intestinal movements.

The effects of excessive use of tobacco, or chronic nicotine-poisoning, are best understood by reference to its physiological action. The most immediate effect of tobacco or nicotine in any form is to make the heart beat slower, but more powerfully ; this is followed by an acceleration of the heart's pulsations by 30 to 50 per cent., due to the influence of nicotine upon the cardiac branches of the pneumogastric nerve.

Nicotine suppresses or paralyzes the inhibitory fibres of that nerve, and there is consequently an acceleration of the action of the heart. It also paralyzes the sympathetic ganglia and prevents the passage of impulses through them, and consequently the vasomotor nerves are paralyzed. Interference with the functions of the vasomotor nerves, especially those in the abdomen, causes dilatation of the arterial system and lowering of the blood-pressure. The vertigo, dizziness, and trembling are, in the first instance, a consequence of diminished supply of blood to the brain, and later of the toxic effects of nicotine on the nerve cells. The effect of a pipe of tobacco on the stomach is chiefly due to its influence upon the nerves ; the inhibitory fibres of the vagus being suppressed, the gastric mucous membrane becomes flushed with blood owing to vascular dilatation, the secretion of the gastric juice takes place with greater rapidity, and the peristaltic movements are accelerated ; intestinal movement and secretion are likewise increased. But excessive and long continued use of tobacco causes the gastric and intestinal secretions to be diminished and the peristaltic movements to be slower and feebler ; it enfeebles the nerves of the ganglionic system, secretion and movement are slower, the mucous membrane of the mouth and throat gets dry, the throat inflamed, thirst becomes great, appetite fails, dyspepsia or gastric catarrh appears, and nutrition is impeded.

Nicotine is a cardio-vascular poison acting through the nerves upon the muscular tissue. The influence of excessive smoking on the heart consists of an increase of the excitability of that organ ; the pulse becomes intermittent and irregular, periods of acceleration are followed by enfeeblement of its action. In some cases it causes abnormal quickening or tachycardia ; in others, abnormal slowing or bradycardia. Functional derangements of the heart and digestive organs are common results, and organic changes sometimes occur in the nervous system where it influences the circulation unfavorably and leads to degeneration and paralysis of nerve cells.

One of the effects of chronic tobacco poisoning is shown by anemia of the brain, resulting in dizziness and vertigo on rising from a bed or chair, and enfeeblement of memory and power of concentration of thought. Further deleterious effects on nerve tissue are shown by general nervous debility ; by tachycardia, as the result of paralysis of the vagus, or bradycardia, from degeneration or paralysis of the ganglia; by defects of vision, as amblyopia or amaurosis and paralysis of the portio dura, which are due to the exhibition of small doses of the poison frequently absorbed and acting over a lengthened period.

Much discussion has taken place as to what produces the harmful effects of smoking tobacco. Some writers assert that nicotine does not, and others that it does, exist in the smoke; that pyridine and other products of its decomposition during combustion produce the injury. Pontag gives the following composition of tobacco smoke : Hydrocyanic acid, 0'080 per cent. ; pyridine, 0'146 ; nicotine, 1-165 ; ammonia, 0'360 ; carbon monoxide, 410 c.c. from 100 grammes of tobacco. Thorns says tobacco smoke contains nicotine and its decomposition products, pyridine and its homologues, and a peculiar ethereal oil only produced during the combustion of the tobacco.

He states that this oil causes violent headache, trembling, and giddiness, and he attributes the toxic effects of tobacco to it, since it is known that they do not depend altogether on nicotine. The quantity of carbon monoxide is too small to have any effect on the health. Brunton states that pyridine acts chiefly on the sensory nerves ; that small doses stimulate, but large ones have a paralyzing effect on, the heart muscle.' Nicotianine, the so-called tobacco camphor, is a mixture of nicotine valerianate, camphorate, oxy-camphorate, and pyridyl-carbonate; and nicotine-pyridyl-carbonate is the most highly toxic principle of tobacco, the other salts chiefly imparting fragrant characters to it. The influence of the frequent inhalation of carbon monoxide upon the blood, which is ordinarily injurious, should not be overlooked ; but Wahl says it is so highly diluted that it may be breathed for four hours without ill results. Arsenic is known to exist in some kinds of tobacco, and being volatile can be detected in the smoke, and may have an injurious effect upon the smoker. Smoking a pipe is healthier than cigars or cigarettes ; some of the carbon adheres to the pipe and forms a cake which absorbs a portion of the nicotine, and a plug of ashes and tobacco at the bottom of the bowl adds to the absorbent power. An oleaginous extract containing nicotine is deposited along the tube. The longer the pipe the less nicotine will there be in the smoke, and it has the advantage of being cooler and consequently less irritating to the mouth and throat. A hookah, with its bowl of rose-water through which the smoke is drawn, is as much superior to a pipe as the latter is to a cigar or cigarette. The pipe-smoker gets only half of the nicotine originally in the tobacco, while that in the smoke is only in contact with the mouth a short space of time. On the other hand, when smoking a cigar, the leaf is held constantly in the mouth, an infusion of tobacco is formed, and a considerable portion of the nicotine may be swallowed. In cigarette-smoking there is the additional temptation to inhale the smoke, which increases its injurious effects.

There can be no doubt whatever that the moderate consumption of tobacco, two or three pipes a day, is not injurious to the majority of smokers ; that it acts as a powerful sedative, soothing the brain and assisting in the concentration of thought ; that the after-dinner pipe aids digestion and the action of the bowels and kidneys ; but it adds no potential strength to the body, is not a food, does not spare the tissues, and its action is destructive rather than constructive. In excess, its influence upon the digestive organs, heart, brain, and nerves, indicate its powerful deleterious effects. Very many people have no idea that tobacco is capable of producing ill effects; in others a habit of excessive smoking is formed which is most diflicult to break. It is advisable never to form such a habit; in all cases the lightest and mildest tobaccos are the best, and a limit of 2 ounces per week is a moderate allowance, beyond which it is not safe to indulge. The anti-smoker tells of cases of sudden heart failure, loss of memory, dwarfed growth, and early death attributed to smoking. Ardent smokers point to the hale and hearty old man who has smoked for fifty or sixty years, and attributes his health and longevity to it. Both have arguments in their favour ; but the anti-smoker is prone to exaggerate, and the hearty old man does little justice to his sound constitution when he attributes his health and longevity to it. A well-known tobacco manufacturer says that tobacco is injurious in nine cases out often ; but this he attributes to the large consumption of inferior kinds of tobacco, and he states that sufficent attention is not paid to the growth and blending of the leaf, to the soil on which it is grown, nor to the paper of which cigarettes are made. The best tobaccos are grown on virgin soil ; the best cigarettes made with pure rice-paper. Many inferior tobaccos are used by mixing them with a better class of leaves ; the color is little to go by, as some leaves are blanched, others darkened by chemicals or colouring agents. Tobacco Leaf, which is a trade journal, says too much attention should not be paid to the outside of a cigar ; a light-coloured cigar is not necessarily a mild one, nor a dark-coloured one a strong cigar ; avoid greasy or streaky leaves, which contain an excess of nicotine, and pale yelloio ones, which contain too little and are flavourless ; unripe tobacco leaves are nauseous to the taste and have greenish blotches. Tobacco is neither better nor worse for being spotted. The ash should always be white or gray, never black or uneven. Good tobacco burns freely until it reaches the mid-rib or vein across a leaf, will never scorch or blister ; it is an infallible proof of a had cigar, made from inferior tobacco, if it shows a black rim or blister near the ash or if it goes out as soon as the light is withdrawn. Take off the outside cover of a cigar and apply a light to it ; in a good cigar it will burn, but in a bad cigar made of inferior tobacco it will not take fire.

When one considers the enormous growth of the cigarette trade, and the almost incalculable number of cigarettes consumed annually, the consideration of their use becomes an important sanitary question. One has only to observe the pale face, the marble brow, the haggard and dwarfed appearance of boys who indulge the habit freely to conclude that cigarette smoking is decidedly injurious.

This is, to some extent, due to the inferior tobacco from which so many of them are made; the commonest of tobaccos, frequently chemically treated and mingled with tobacco dust, are rolled in impure papers to make cheap cigarettes. The evil effects of cigarette-smoking are greatly enhanced by inhaling the smoke ; that it really is inhaled is proved by the fact that very little smoke is exhaled. The fact that the smoke of a cigarette is not very irritating does not lessen the evil effect of drawing it into the lungs, for by this method the absorption of the poisonous principles is more rapid. Some absorption takes place in the mouth, but it is trilling in comparison with that which takes place in the lungs. It is admitted that moderate smoking allays restlessness and irritability and is beneficial in other respects ; but the sequel to the habit of inhalation may be very bad indeed, the heart and nerves bearing chiefly the effects of it. The fumes likewise appear to create an unnatural desire to be always smoking cigarettes, and those who indulge the habit generally consume more tobacco than they would by smoking a pipe, and the consumption is greater than is necessary for the ordinary enjoyment to be obtained from smoking. The habit should therefore be discountenanced by all medical men and others who have the interest of the human race at heart. Repressive measures are required to stop the practice of cigarette smoking by children, for it is firmly believed that it prevents growth and renders its devotees a ready prey to disease. It not only makes them tired, lazy, and irritable, but it lowers their mental capacity and moral tone, makes them stupid, dull and weak, and prone to lying and cheating. Attempts are being made in America, Canada, Prince Edward's Island, and Norway, to suppress the habit by law ; in some places it is a misdemeanor to sell or give cigarettes to a minor, and in others it is unlawful for a minor to smoke tobacco in any form.
William Tibbles, a British physician, was author of Erythroxylon Coca: A Treatise on Brain Exhaustion as the Cause of Disease, (1877), which recommended the use of coca for a variety of physical and mental diseases.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Obama Change On Marijuana?

From Drug War Rant
Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Obama and Marijuana

There appears to be no rush to re-open the "Open for Questions" at, although there are discussions going on there. However, the questions are speculation are not going away, and I think that's a good thing.

bullet image If Obama Is Pro-Science and Honest, He'll Put the Kibosh on the Drug War by Alexander Zaitchik at AlterNet:

Nobody expected Obama to tap Tommy Chong to run the Office of National Drug Control Policy. But maybe, just maybe, Obama would have the political courage to publicly acknowledge what an emerging majority of Americans now grasps: that the war on drugs is a failure, that it is unjust, and that it is an epic waste of law-enforcement time and resources.

Still a month before inauguration, the hopes of drug-policy-reform advocates have had their wings clipped several times... [...]

Advocates may have their best ally not in the White House or in Congress, but in the economy. As state budgets shrink across the country, legislatures are often forced to choose between education and prison budgets.

bullet image Why Obama Really Might Decriminalize Marijuana by John H. Richardson in Esquire

The stoner community is clamoring to say it: "Yes we cannabis!" Turns out, with several drug-war veterans close to the president-elect's ear, insiders think reform could come in Obama's second term -- or sooner.

Let's keep the conversation going. I know that there are some who support drug policy reform who believe that we have to save the conversation for the "right moment" (and, of course, there's always a reason why that moment isn't now). But that's wrong. The more the conversation happens, the more people come to realize the importance of reform.

There's a lot you can do. Talk to your family at the holidays. Write a letter to the editor. Reward and thank journalists and others who talk about reform. Encourage others to do so.

Update Reactions to the Esquire article:

5:49:57 PM | | Links | permalink | comment [4]

Monday, December 15, 2008

Busting The Criminals (low level)

In the U.S.A., low level criminals (police), particularly in certain jurisdictions, routinely violate the highest laws of the land in favor of legislative crime.

From Drug Law Blog:

Stinging Back - Texas Police Trapped in Reverse Sting by Fake Grow House The still below is from a remarkable video of a sting conducted to catch police officers rather than drug dealers.


Mark Barry Cooper, the former narcotics detective behind the book DVD Never Get Busted Again, wanted to demonstrate that police lie on warrant affidavits in carrying out drug raids. So he set up a house in Odessa, Texas containing nothing but some grow lights and a couple Christmas trees. According to a description of the sting,

The trap was set and less than 24 hours later, the Odessa narcotics unit raided the house only to find KopBuster's attorney waiting under a system of complex gadgetry and spy cameras that streamed online to the KopBuster's secret mobile office nearby.

Full video of the police entry:

And here is a TV segment on the raid:

Cooper's claim is apparently that police must have either lied to obtain a warrant or used illegal thermal imaging cameras. Tough to know for sure what happened without more facts, but it certainly looks a little fishy!

(Hat tip: Pete, and before him, Radley Balko.)

(Thanks to the commenter who caught some errors in this post.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Kleiman Falls Flat On His Face

from Drug War Rant

(Kleiman ignores market and judicial perversion to enable continuation of status quo- clearly a man paid too much for producing hot air!)

The foremost academic apologist for a kinder, gentler prohibition -- Mark Kleiman -- has resurfaced to address prohibition again, and as usual resorts to academic dishonesty and outright wankery.

Kleiman had pretty much stopped writing about drug policy at his blog, particularly during the election season, possibly (I thought) because he got pummeled every time he would make outrageous, unsupported statements slamming drug policy reformers.

But all the press surrounding the 75th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition seems to have brought him back to his usual prohibition-enabling diatribe (and so, of course, I must rant in response). Kleiman starts:

As Talleyrand said about the restored Bourbons, the anti-prohibitionists have learned nothing and forgotten nothing in thirty years of making exactly the same points in exactly the same way. Ethan Nadelmann's op-ed in Friday's Wall Street Journal doesn't admit that "an end to prohibition" means increased availability, and that one of the consequences of increased availability is increased abuse.

It doesn't seem to me that it was the point of his OpEd -- the point of the OpEd was that prohibition was damaging and that drug prohibition has similar failings. But that's not enough for Mark.

Of course that isn't where the argument ends; maybe the increased level of abuse is a price worth paying to avoid the bad consequences of prohibition: the harms generated by the illicit markets and by enforcement, plus the loss of liberty and consumers' surpluses for those (for almost all drugs, the majority) who would use the drugs without falling in to the trap of drug abuse. But that's where any honest argument has to start: how much more abuse are we going to have as a result of a given change in the laws? And that's where Nadelmann & Co. relentlessly refuse to start it. Their "vigorous and informed debate" refuses to face the basic trade-off involved.

Note how Kleiman decides that he gets to determine where the start of the argument should lie. Apparently, unless we're willing to state exactly how many more people will abuse drugs if they're legal (regardless of the distribution structure), then he's going to take his ball and go home and not discuss alternatives to prohibition. In point of fact, that's his way of avoiding the "informed debate" at all -- because he loves prohibition. He just wants to tinker with it to make it better.

But the issue of how many people use drugs and how many people abuse drugs is actually secondary to the issue of prohibition. That's the part that Mark won't grasp. Prohibition is the disease we are trying to end. And you can't heal it by tinkering around the edges with drug courts and mandatory drug testing.

Prohibition is people dying and being imprisoned and corrupt cops and bad foreign policy and dangerous streets and broken families and over-militarization and environmental damage and racism and fiscal irresponsibility and drug dangers. This is the start of the debate. It is what really and truly matters. Then, once we have done that (and concurrently), we can look at what kinds of legalization models will work to truly reduce the harm of drugs. But that's useless as long as prohibition is doing more damage. And as long as the "academics" have dishonestly refused to even discuss alternatives to prohibition (even as they formidably demonstrate the failures of prohibition), it is up to the drug policy reformers to continue to force people to pay attention.

Kleiman says that it's dishonest to talk about ending prohibition until we talk about how many more people will abuse drugs. It's not. In our country, legal is the default, and it is incumbent upon those who would deny liberty to justify it. Let the prohibitionists tell us how much it costs (in corruption, tax dollars, violence, loss of liberty, etc., etc.) for each addict we stop.

But that aside, there's another issue here. Why is it that Kleiman puts the value of the drug abuser's life over all the rest of us?

If I'm a family member of Kathryn Johnston or Tarika Wilson or Rachel Hoffman or Cheye Calvo or those dead journalists in Mexico or the thousands dead in Thailand..., well, you know, I wouldn't give a fuck how many more stupid people addicted themselves to cocaine. I'd say fine, legalize it and regulate it so they hurt as few others as possible and give me my family back.

Kleiman continues....

And, speaking of honesty, Nadelmann refers to "500,000 people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails for nonviolent drug-law violations." Really? How many of the dealers now in prison (most of the people in prison for drug offenses are incarcerated for dealing, not simple possession) were armed? How many actually used violence in the course of their business? How many of those in prison for possession actually have long records of predatory crime? (Hint: the average drug-possession inmate has more burglaries in his criminal history than the average burglary inmate.) The fact that violence isn't part of the definition of drug offenses doesn't mean that drug traffickers as a class are "non-violent." The list of crimes compiled by those spared prison terms under California's Prop. 36 -- including not a few homicides -- is rather impressive.

Ah, Nadelmann is dishonest for referring to "500,000 people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails for nonviolent drug-law violations" even though that is true. Kleiman wants Nadelmann to interview each of the 500,000 people incarcerated for nonviolent drug-law violations and find out if they were, at any time, violent. And then reduce the number of nonviolent drug-law violations event though they would still be "nonviolent drug-law violations." Apparently, we should arrest people not for the crimes they commit, but for the crimes we didn't catch them for. In other words, instead of arresting burglars, we should arrest drug offenders because they're probably burglars. Unbelievable.

As to substituting taxation and regulation for prohibition, those "strict controls" are themselves prohibitions: it is prohibited to sell untaxed cigarettes, or to sell alcohol to those under 21.

Really? You're going to go there? Really?

Talk about intellectually dishonest -- this one really takes the cake. Gee, if we're going to define prohibition that way then drinking alcohol wasn't prohibited during prohibition. So what do we call it?

How far down must he go to attempt such stupid semantic tricks?

OK, for the really dense out there, here's what we're talking about. We're talking about eliminating criminal prohibition such that a responsible adult would be able to, in some transparent way, legally obtain and consume drugs, although there may be regulations in terms of time, place, and manner, and taxes may be charged, and these regulations may be different for different drugs.

But Kleiman continues...

And those prohibitions, just like categorical prohibitions on selling or possessing a particular drug, invite evasion and require enforcement. Tobacco smuggling is reported to be a major source of terrorist finance in Europe.

Again, intellectually dishonest. Badly so. To equate the policing of grey market sales tax evasion on legal products with the violent worldwide black market on illicit drugs is not just dishonest, it is insulting.

And so, we see what Kleiman wants:

That's the honest debate we ought to be having: just what should we permit and what should we prohibit, and how should we go about enforcing those prohibitions, to steer between the Scylla of drug abuse and the Charybdis of prohibition side-effects?
It's not an honest debate he wants. He wants a debate with legalization off the table. He wants a debate between prohibition and prohibition.

And that's not honest. It's insulting and contemptuous. And the world isn't putting up with this crap much longer. If Kleiman and RAND and the others aren't willing to be honest with themselves, nobody else is going to listen to them.

Update: He just gets weirder.

Now, in his blistering critique of Walters (made confusing by Mark's insistance on promoting his own pet causes in the middle of it), Kleiman finds more unsupported ways to attack Nadelmann (and all drug policy reformers)

Walters and Nadelmann are like a pair of aging vaudeville comedians, still whacking away at each other with their slapsticks long after everyone in the audience has gotten bored with them. [...]

The arguments for the drug war and for "an end to prohibition" are symmetrically nonsensical, only with opposite signs: rather like a particle and its anti-particle. Sadly, there's a difference; I see no hope that the "drug war" and "drug policy reform" might someday meet and disappear in a flash of photons.

Cute. Geeky. Meaningless. It's the only way he ever addresses alternatives to prohibition - by ridiculing and dismissing without reason, and without actually ever addressing them. More intellectual dishonesty.

11:26:01 PM | | Links | permalink | comment [17]

Market Perversion- encouraging more dangerous modes of drug taking, e.g. cigarettes and crack over coca, alcohol over marijuana.

Judicial Perversion- encouraging the use of courts to maintain this criminal racket.

Kleiman UCLA
Kleiman- the drug warriors are (also) stuck on stupid

Saturday, December 6, 2008

RAND Falls Flat on Its Face In Status Quo Defense

From Drug War Rant

RAND should be embarrassed by their researcher Rosalie Liccardo Pacula

Patt Morrison in the Los Angeles Times attempts a cute piece on the notion of taxing marijuana: Should We Tax Pot?

Do we think we can stick our bicuspids under the pillow and the national tooth fairy will leave $800 billion? No? Then what about legalizing and taxing one of our biggest, oldest vices?

That notion arose because Friday is the 75th anniversary of the end of a nationwide ban on a substance that millions of Americans broke the law and bought anyway: liquor. Criminalizing it turned out to have complications so enormous and expensive that in 1933 a new president, faced with a profound economic crisis, wanted it legalized and taxed again.

Now, as we're desperately trying to reinvent the economy, should we consider marijuana? [...]

Sacramento would be doing the backstroke in black ink. With all the new parks and health clinics, we'd have more ribbon-cuttings than a baby shower. Is this just a pipe dream?

So, to find out, he turns to Rosalie Pacula, Co-director, RAND Drug Policy Research Center; Faculty Research Fellow, National Bureau of Economic Research. Now, you might think that someone like that might know what they're talking about on this subject.

But apparently you would be wrong.

Is this just a pipe dream?

Rosalie Pacula says that in all likelihood, yes. She's a senior economist at the Rand Corp. and co-director of its drug policy research center. Here's how she burst my bubble:

First, you have to consider that legalizing it would have its own costs. Recent research, Pacula says, shows marijuana to be more addictive than was thought.

Really? What recent research? Care to mention some? It turns out that NIDA is currently funding a study which has been billed as the "first comprehensive study of marijuana addiction." That won't be done for four years. The only other new study on the subject I know of is the laughable one that studied a whopping "12 heavy users of both marijuana and cigarettes." Otherwise, we're looking at the same information we've always had -- a small percent of marijuana users do have problems with dependency, and their marijuana-related dependency tends to be mild compared to other drugs.

Because marijuana is illegal, and because its users often smoke tobacco or use other drugs, teasing out marijuana's health effects and associated costs is almost impossible.
Actually, no. There have been so many studies trying to find marijuana's negative effects, that we have a pretty good idea by now (after all, that's all that NIDA will fund). No lung cancer, some other lung-related problems in long-term heavy smokers of marijuana, and... that's about it. What we have yet to find more of is some of the potential positive effects, such as the impact on reducing Alzheimer's disease, or stopping cancerous growths. Plus the potential for dramatically lowering prescription drug costs as marijuana substitutes for more dangerous and expensive prescription drugs.
And more people would smoke it regularly if it were legal -- Pacula estimates 60% to 70% of the population as opposed to 20% to 30% now - -- and the social costs would rise.
Really? And from just what orifice did you pull that figure? Do you have some historical evidence? Perhaps you took a look at the states that previously decriminalized marijuana to get some guidance. Did they shoot up to 60%? No, they actually declined. How about the Netherlands? It's legal there to consume. Usage must be up around 70%. Right? No, it's dramatically lower than in the United States. So tell me, Rosalie, where do you get your numbers?

She takes issue with figures from Harvard's Jeffrey Miron, among others, who says that billions spent on enforcing marijuana laws could all be saved by legalization.

So Ms. Pacula takes issue wIth Jeffrey Miron's research. Why is Rand's research better? Have they done better digging into the nuts and bolts of legalization? Let's take a look at their major report on drug policy - How Goes the "War on Drugs"? An Assessment of U.S. Drug Problems and Policy by Rosalie's colleagues Jonathan P. Caulkins, Peter H. Reuter, Martin Y. Iguchi and James Chiesa, where they state:

Nor do we explore the merits and demerits of legalizing drugs, even though legalization is perhaps the most prominent and hotly debated topic in drug policy. Our analysis takes current policy as its starting point, and the idea of repealing the nation's drug laws has no serious support within either the Democratic or Republican party.
So, Rand, in a major drug policy study, cannot be bothered to even "explore" legalization, while Jeffrey Miron of Harvard has actually spent lots of time, you know, studying it. So why should we listen to Ms. Pacula?

Rand's research, Pacula says, finds that many marijuana arrests are collateral -- say, part of DUI checks or curfew arrests -- and many arrestees already have criminal records, meaning they might wind up behind bars for something else even if marijuana were legal.

OK, that's just bizarre. We won't save money from arresting 800,000 marijuana users a year, because we'll probably just have to arrest them for something else? (And that collateral stuff doesn't wash either -- in many cases, the DUI checks or curfew arrests are excuses to search for pot.)

Legalization also wouldn't do away with pot-related crime entirely. There would likely be a black market, just as there is in other regulated substances, such as cigarettes and liquor. That means police and prosecution, which cost money.

This is just a downright dishonest argument that we hear time and again. Start out with the implied straw man: "Legalizers claim that legalization would eliminate the black market entirely." Then find the small exception: Sales tax differential black market. Conclude therefore, legalizer's argument that legalization would reduce the black market is wrong.

She's actually comparing the police activity to ferret out illegal smuggling of cigarette cartons from a low sales tax state to a high sales tax state, to the entire drug war apparatus! She studied economics? Was she awake?

As to the tax benefit, that's partly a function of the price point for legalized pot. If everyone could legally grow and consume dope, then the crop probably wouldn't be worth $35 billion and the taxes wouldn't be anything to write home about.

This is also ridiculous. Certainly, some people will choose to grow their own pot if it's legal. But most won't. You could legally make your own beer or grow your own tobacco now, but most people don't. You can even legally buy tobacco cheaper and roll your own cigarettes to save money, but people don't. Sure, if you taxed marijuana at a rate of $10 a joint, you might lose your benefit, but you can still tax it pretty dramatically without having any significant loss in consumers (particularly compared to the actual cost of producing it).

"I have a hard time believing the tax revenue would offset the full cost of regulating and enforcing the legal market," Pacula concludes

Again. Really? What are the actual costs of regulating and enforcing other legal markets compared to their tax revenue? Miniscule. We make tons of money off alcohol and tobacco taxes. Why wouldn't we off marijuana taxes? Do you have any reason for your statement, Rosalie?

Even then, the actual question involves the elimination of all the marijuana enforcement costs (OK, except for sales tax smuggling), which is (still) in the billions of dollars and the addition of sales tax revenue (which, yes, would be in the billions of dollars). Would we bring in significant savings financially? Clearly, yes.

But Pacula seems to be willing to simply make up stuff, put it under the heading of "words from an economics and drug policy researcher" and shove it out there for public consumption.

And Patt Morrison dutifully laps it up, concluding with an even more bizarre statement:

No golden pot tax in the pot at the end of the rainbow, then? Pacula left me thinking that the unintended consequences of legalizing marijuana in 2009 might match the unintended consequences of outlawing liquor in 1919.

That has got to be an award-winning example of up-is-downism.

Note: in this analysis, I am assuming that Morrison correctly represented Ms. Pacula's positions. And I would be happy to hear from either Patt Morrison or Rosalie Pacula regarding my critique and any defense of their positions. I'd be happy to print their replies.

11:02:55 AM | | Links | permalink | comment [8]

Will this be the formula for Obama to deny marijuana decriminalization?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Obama AG Holder From Covington & Burling

The law firm that has advised the Drug Policy Foundation,
Big Pharm,
and coordinated for the cigarette industry

Drug Policy Organizations Weigh in on Holder

1964+ Cigarette Industry Legal Coordination

Congressman J.H. Covington:
A Name Appearing in the Formulation of U.S. Food & Drug Laws

D.P.F. Washington, D.C. Legal Connection: Covington & Burling

D.P.F. Was Advised By Covington & Burling Food and Drug (and Insurance) Lawyer

Eric Holder's bio at the Covington & Burling website:

Mr. Holder is a litigation partner who handles, among other matters, complex civil and criminal cases, domestic and international advisory matters and internal corporate investigations.

During his professional career, Mr. Holder has held a number of significant positions in government. Upon graduating from Columbia Law School, he moved to Washington, DC and joined the Department of Justice as part of the Attorney General's Honors Program. He was assigned to the newly formed Public Integrity Section in 1976 and was tasked to investigate and prosecute official corruption on the local, state and federal levels. While at the Public Integrity Section, Mr. Holder participated in a number of prosecutions and appeals involving such defendants as the Treasurer of the state of Florida, the Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, a local judge in Philadelphia, an Assistant United States Attorney in New York City, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a "capo" in an organized crime family in Pennsylvania.

In 1988, Mr. Holder was nominated by President Reagan to become an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He was confirmed by the Senate and his investiture occurred in October of that year. Over the next five years, Judge Holder presided over hundreds of civil and criminal trials and matters. Many of the trials involved homicides and other crimes of violence.

In 1993, President Clinton nominated Mr. Holder to become the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. He was confirmed later that year and served as the head of the largest United States Attorneys office in the nation for nearly four years. He was the first black person to serve in that position. As U.S. Attorney, Mr. Holder created a Domestic Violence Unit to more effectively handle those types of tragic cases, implemented a community prosecution project to work hand in hand with residents and local government agencies in order to make neighborhoods safer, supported a renewed enforcement emphasis on hate crimes so that criminal acts of intolerance would be severely punished, developed a comprehensive strategy to improve the manner in which agencies handled cases involving the abuse of children, launched a community outreach program to reconnect the U.S. Attorney's office with the citizens it serves, revitalized the Victim/Witness Assistance Program to better serve those individuals who were directly affected by crime and developed "Operation Ceasefire," an initiative designed to reduce violent crime by getting guns out of the hands of criminals.

In 1997, President Clinton appointed Mr. Holder to serve as Deputy Attorney General, the number two position in the United States Department of Justice. He became the first African-American to serve as Deputy Attorney General. Mr. Holder briefly served under President Bush as Acting Attorney General pending the confirmation of Attorney General John Ashcroft.

As Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Holder supervised all of the Department's litigating, enforcement, and administrative components in both civil and criminal matters. Under his guidance, the Department developed and issued its guidelines on the criminal prosecution of corporations (the so called "Holder Memorandum") and issued guidelines on the use of the False Claims Act in civil health care matters. A task force he created also developed the existing regulation concerning the appointment of special counsels to investigate allegations involving high-level federal officials. He began the Department's Children Exposed to Violence Initiative and made Department priorities enforcement efforts in health care fraud, computer crimes and software piracy. Mr. Holder successfully worked to fund and expand nationwide the concept of community prosecution which seeks to connect more directly prosecutors with the citizens they serve. At the request of the President, Mr. Holder began and directed Lawyers for One America a multi-agency, public/private partnership designed to diversify the legal profession and to increase the amount of pro bono work done by the nation's attorneys. As Deputy Attorney General Mr. Holder was at that time the highest-ranking black person in law enforcement in the history of the United States.

Mr. Holder's community activities include service on a number of philanthropic boards including, Columbia University, the Meyer Foundation, Save the Children, and his long time membership in the organization Concerned Black Men, a group that seeks to help the youth of the District of Columbia with problems ranging from teenage pregnancy to sub-par academic achievement. He has received numerous awards and honorary degrees and is featured in The Best Lawyers in America 2007. Mr. Holder was profiled in the June 2008 issue of The American Lawyer and was recognized as one of "The Most 50 Influential Minority Lawyers in America" by The National Law Journal. He has also been identified by Legal Times as one of the "Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Past 30 Years."

He has also served on the board of MCI prior to and during its merger with Verizon. Mr. Holder was a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission Ad Hoc Advisory Group that examined, and made recommendations to revise, the organizational sentencing guidelines and was Chairman of Eastman Kodak's External Diversity Advisory Panel.

Mr. Holder was born in New York City. He attended public schools there, graduating from Stuyvesant High School where he earned a Regents Scholarship. He attended Columbia College, majored in American History, and graduated in 1973. Mr. Holder then attended Columbia Law School from which he graduated in 1976. While in law school, he clerked at the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense Fund and the Department of Justice's Criminal Division. Mr. Holder lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Dr. Sharon Malone, an obstetrician, and their three children.

Publications and Speeches




  • Columbia Law School, J.D., 1976
  • Columbia College, 1973
From the last of his three publications listed, Holder apparently has some background with the pharmaceutical industry.

Perhaps this has something to do with his past advocacy of criminally depriving people of their god-given liberties for possessing or dealing in Marijuana?

Obama Sells Out America's Youth and Defenders of Civil Liberties
with Eric Holder

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

by Richard Searcy

Corporate media focus on Eric Holder's role in the effort to pardon billionaire fugitive Marc Rich: basically, a wealthy man's game. But the author reminds us that, as a U.S. Justice Department official for Washington, DC, Holder was "an extreme drug warrior who believes that harsher and longer sentences should be enacted for minor crimes such as marijuana use and prostitution." Barack Obama's choice for U.S. Attorney General is "bad news for America's youth."

Obama Sells Out America's Youth and Defenders of Civil Liberties with Eric Holder

by Richard Searcy

"Holder is an extreme drug warrior."

Living to see the first African-American elected as President of the United States was supposed to feel a lot better. But, it's hard to get excited about Barack Obama, who seems to have never met an issue he can't take both sides on, and who has elevated "selling out" to an art form. Obama is the Magna Cum Laude, Zen master, and Oracle of All Sell Out Knowledge. He has once again affirmed his exalted position as the King of Masquerade when he chose Eric Holder to be his Attorney General and sold out American youth, particularly black youth.

Holder, yet another ex-Clintonite, was Clinton's Deputy Attorney General and US Attorney General for the Washington DC area. He is an extreme drug warrior who believes that harsher and longer sentences should be enacted for minor crimes such as marijuana use and prostitution. This, in spite of the mounting evidence that the "war on drugs" is a failure and has amounted to nothing more than a war on black people, which also appears to be it's original intent. He wants harsher sentencing for marijuana, which will impact American youth more than any other demographic, and it will specifically impact African-American youth, who are already targeted to be shuffled off to America's new plantations, US prisons.

Perhaps this was Clinton's, now Obama's plan for getting more Black men employed by major corporations, because once inside of prison, many get hired by some of America's top corporations. Of course, they're only paid about 25 cents an hour and they have no benefits. But at least they have a job, something that cannot be said for an increasing number of Americans who are not part of this "affirmative action" program. Some American companies are actually closing up shop, laying off workers, and re-opening in a prison to take advantage of this bonanza of prisoner/slaves. Funny, but America's new slaves look an awful lot like the old ones.

"Some American companies are actually closing up shop, laying off workers, and re-opening in a prison."

You are aware that slavery is still legal in America, aren't you? If you aren't, be assured that American corporations are.

Holder was part of the Clinton Justice Department that enacted harsh and racially biased laws that exploded America into becoming the greatest prison nation in human history and Bill Clinton into becoming the greatest incarceration president in American history. Clinton ran away from signing legislation that would have addressed the injustice of crack and power cocaine laws. America has more prisoners than all the totalitarian nations we like to look down our noses at. America locks up more prisoners than China, which has 4 times our population.
I wonder how much it costs to be the greatest prison nation in human history?

In 1996, as U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C, Holder petitioned the City Council to enact mandatory minimum sentencing laws and to make marijuana sale offenses a felony, even for first time offenders. He said he wanted to "Nip it in the bud." He wanted to turn a misdemeanor into a five-year prison sentence. Holder said in an interview that he is considering not only prosecuting more marijuana cases but also asking the D.C. Council to enact stiffer penalties for the sale and use of marijuana. His policies achieved none of its stated goals.

Obama supporters, particularly the youth, who stood in hours-long lines to vote for him thinking him a fresh approach to politics and society have been sold out. If you thought Obama once saying that our prisons are too full with first time offenders or that our prisons are too full of young people was a good reason to support him, you've been sold out.

"Holder was part of the team that developed strategies for the re-authorization of the Patriot Act in 2005."

However, Holder's appointment, which will fly through confirmation by the lemming-like Democratic Congress, is not only bad news for America's youth, it's bad news for those who thought Obama was about protecting civil liberties in this country and reversing the atrocities of the Bush Administration. If you didn't get a clue when Obama reversed himself on FISA and the Patriot Act, Eric Holder is your next clue. Holder was part of the team that developed strategies for the re-authorization of the Patriot Act in 2005, and had this to say about opponents of it: "We're dealing with a different world now. Everybody should remember those pictures that we saw on September the 11th. The World Trade Centers aflame, the pictures of the Pentagon, and any time some petty bureaucrat decides that his or her little piece of turf is being invaded, get rid of that person. Those are the kinds of things we have to do." Get rid of those who oppose it. I voted for someone, although not "petty" by any means, Cynthia McKinney, who certainly opposed it, and the system got rid of her just as he said.

Holder was also involved in Clinton's pardoning of Mark Rich, and as a corporate lawyer in private practice after leaving the Clinton team, played a key role in negotiating an agreement with the Justice Department that got Chiquita Brands International executives off the hook for paying protection money to right-wing death squads in Colombia.

Of course many African-Americans will be dancing to the beat of seeing the first black Attorney General and never notice the words they're dancing to. But those who stand against the attack on civil liberties that emanated from the Bush Administration, and America's youth, Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian college students, who rallied to Obama's side, have now joined the antiwar crowd and those looking for genuine change as pawns in the mindfuck called "Change We Can Believe In."

Everybody's dancing .. but the election is over, and it's time to listen to the words.

Richard Searcy can be contacted at