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29 January 2005

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

The Solicitor General
is the cheese at the U.S. Justice Department who represents the federal government in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. As I stick my toe into Lake Blog for the first time, the acting cheese's name is Paul Clement, and I'm having a frabjous day because he's just announced he's NOT going to represent the federal government before the Supreme Court in an ugly pissing match between skunks called ACLU et al., v. Norman Y. Mineta.

Norman is the Secretary of Transportation, and he was dragged into this mess because he doles out federal funds to mass transportation systems -- or not, as Congress directs him to, or not.

And last year, Congress ordered him not to dole out any federal funds to any subway or bus or commuter rail system that runs ads which advocate legalizing or decriminalizing or liberalizing or reforming our nation's marijuana laws.

Here's one of the ads the ACLU et al tried to put up in Washington DC's subways:

Oh, wait! For God's sake, don't open this ad if any kids under 30 are looking! Okay, have all the kids left the room? Are you sure? Okay, you can open the ad now.

Norman was just doing the bidding of U.S. Rep. Ernest Istook, Republican of Oklahoma, who stuck this little bonbon into the Transportation budget because he was outraged that subway-riding citizens might see, and think about, suggestions that making criminals of pot-smokers, and sending them to jail, and branding them with a lifelong criminal record -- well, that these laws really suck, and that sane people who don't like to stab themselves in the thigh with a fork should think about changing these laws.

Did you open the ad? Well, there you have it: The ACLU et al clearly wants to abduct your children, strip them naked, tie them to chairs, and force them to smoke pot, which they distribute free to children.

Actually, no. Nobody's smoking pot in the ad. Nobody's advocating pot in the ad. Nobody says Pot Is Good in the ad.

The ad urges voters to think about our state and federal pot laws, to think about the damage these laws have done over the past thirty years.

Maybe pot's bad. But the laws that make pot a crime are much worse.

That's what these ads said. And that's why Istook wanted to punish any subway system that sold space to display these ads. Display these ads, lose million$ in federal grants.

There is, of course, a teensy-weensy problem with that.

Every mass transit system in the USA is currently plastered with government-sponsored ads that merrily describe marihuana as the Demon Weed From Satanic Terrorist Hell, which is destroying our nation's Youth, and causing Todd and Tifani to dance the hootchy-koo, have sex, and then murder their parents.

If you want to take the bus to the mall, you MUST see the government ads. But Istook et al passed a law to make sure you can NEVER see ads that say the government ads are just loopy propaganda crap.

ACLU et al., v. Norman Y. Mineta climbed its way up the federal courts, Acting Solicitor General Clement could see the handwriting on the wall, and knew how the Supreme Court would decide this First Amendment jalapeño. So he just broke Rep. Istook's heart: He announced that the Justice Department will not appeal a lower court decision that declared the Istook Amendment unconstitutional.

Let the reeform ads begin! Let there be light! Let the citizens read, and ponder, and think, and dialogue, and contemplate!

The banned ads aren't like liquor ads, which urge cool people (who look suspiciously like teenage hotties and buff preppie Todds to me) to buy Blatz and Schlitz.

The banned ads urge people to vote against idiots like Istook, and ponder this business of reforming or repealing state and federal marijuana laws.

And that's Constitutionally protected political speech. One side says "Keep busting everybody for smoking pot forever! It's the American way!"

So the other side has the right to say, "Stop busting everybody for smoking pot. Get real. Lights on in your heads. Straighten up and fly right."

If one side can plaster its advocacy message in a public bus or subway system, so can the other.

There's a guy named Joe White about 20 miles north of me. We've never spoken or met, but I think I want to buy him a big pastrami sandwich on pumpernickel. He runs Change the Climate, the outfit that started this skunk piss festival. Change the Climate creates and tries to buy subway and bus space for marijuana law reform ads.

The Boston "T" subway system refused. Change the Climate et al sued. I loved The T's argument for banning the ads. Boston, they argued, has an ancient and well-known historical tradition of banning things -- books, theater, movies, the hootchy-koo -- and "Banned in Boston" is enshrined in the American vernacular. So the T's lawyers asked the federal judge to respect this local cultural heritage of censorship. (The judge, who is dumb as rocks about the First Amendment, respected this local heritage, and ruled the T could keep banning the ads.)

Looks as if these marijuana law reform ads will soon be on the T anyway, and on the DC Metro, and MARTA, and BART, and (I hope I hope) my Pioneer Valley Transit Authority buses.

American Free Political Speech lives! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!


Blogger Sharon Secor said...

Yea!! O happy day, you've begun a blog!

Blogger Johnny Freedom said...

"Metro is using taxpayer facilities to promote illegal activity."

Thus spoke the confused Representative Istook in expressing his shock at an ad in favor of legalizing and taxing marijuana. I wondered at the time if Istook believed that attempting to change bad law was illegal or if he just wished it were, his comment a Freudian slip that might embarrass a lesser man. No matter now, thanks to someone at Justice sensing that the Supremes would find the Bill of Rights more powerful then the fools on the hill.


Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Dear Sharon and Johnny,

THANKS for welcoming my blog! (Where's my fruit basket?)

Istook, I am sorry to say, isn't confused. He has one job to do: To get re-elected every two years, unto perpetuity, and he knows how to do it. He tells everyone "I'm tough on drugs! I'm tough on crime! My opponent is soft on drugs. My opponent is soft on crime." He says that 5,000 times for four months, and he's re-elected.

In Congress, he does stuff like his ad-ban amendment so he can show the folks back home that he's tough on drugs -- even though a high-school civics student could have told him it was patently unconstitutional and would never survive a court challenge. What does Istook care? He put on an entertaining "Hawaii Five-O" show for his constituents. He tried to save Oklahoma's kids from marijuana, but those whacky liberal judges and that weenie Solicitor General betrayed all good Americans. Only Istook is the Champion of the People. Vote for Istook.

It's just all so sleazy. I'm sorry to have to say this, but the only cure for Congress creeps like Istook and Souder is a better-educated and better-informed electorate, who learn to demand something more from their candidates than circa-1983 recycled bumper stickers and sound bites.

Blogger SteveHeath said...

Well if you ask ME, and you DID (in that Email that almost got redirected into my SPAM box on accounta the GIANT FONT frightened all the other less-endowed emails sitting within my INBOX, as well as creating mild envy among the mails doing time in the FOLDERS section of my Eudora, not to mention the poor saps that have been Banished to the NeverEmptied TrashBox), then I would say YES, Everything All You Guys Said.

My greatest inpsiration as we enter Year V in the Reign of King George is that I'm pretty sure most of the Bad Guys are still internet illiterate, or as we preefer to say - they're nearly all Cyber Dum Dums.

This gives an advantage to citizens working on opposite sides of His Royal H-anus' various agendas and in few areas is it more going our way than in the realm of drug policy.

I'd lay a pretty good chunk of my coin that Rev.----errrrr Rep Istook is like our bud John Walters. They've never sat down for even ten minutes on the Internet alone without guidance.

I think this case is a sterling example of Major Political Poobahs thinking they could use Dirty Tricks as practiced in the constantly updated Secret MPP (not OUR MPP...see above acronym) Playbook that has been handed down from administration to administration since about oh, Fillmore? Polk? Whoever, they all look alike....whatever era it was that the last of the founding fathers passed.

And then SHOCK...every time they lie and it's exposed, the corrected version is WORLDWIDE within about oh, fifteen seconds, or however long it takes for the Exposer to hit SEND a few times on his keyboard.

The prevailing response for about ten years now is for the Liars to just reefer back to the Playbook and then just Lie Again with a Bigger Lie (repeat as needed until opposition subsides).

But the pesky cyber trail is more damning then the old paper trail which could be "lost" or burn up in a courthouse fire or sumpin'.

Off 2PAB, we remain your humble southeastern reporter,

Steve in 73 degree, pretty much sunny all day, light breeze off the Gulf of Mexico and the Bay, Clearwater

PS: The smaller font is more readable unless you can make your margins wider.

Anonymous Bill Krause said...

k Kaleidoscope says:
SteveHeath may be right, but thanks to republican geeks or money hungry geeks THEY now have a program that has already file, catagorized, & graphed this blog due to key words. All in the name of Home Land Security. ;)

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