The latest Rolling Stone is “The Weed issue,” a celebration of how the war on drugs was won by…weed, I guess. I haven’t yet explored the full magazine, however, because I was too distracted by Bill Maher’s contribution, headlined inside as “The New Stoned America.” Within his allotted page, Maher blames the drug war — without delving into the human rights debacle that remains an integral part of it — on Republicans, period:
Legalization is another one of those issues, like gay marriage, that drives the Tea Bag people crazy. That Leave It to Beaver black-and-white 1950s image that Mitt Romney fit into so well is going away, and one big reason is marijuana. Bill Clinton once said, “If you look back on the Sixties and think there was more good than harm, you’re probably a Democrat. If you think there was more harm than good, you’re probably a Republican.” Well, for those people who loved the Fifties, pot played a huge role in the cultural revolution that they detest.
Republicans have always been an uneasy alliance of Jesus freaks, gun nuts, generic obese suburbanites and the super-rich, but what binds them is this idea that life was perfect in Appleton, Wisconsin, in 1958. As soon as President Obama was elected, this visual of a black guy who liked smoking pot walking into the White House was too much. Whenever you hear them say, “I want my country back” – from what? Did Blackmanistan invade us? They may want it back, but that America is gone forever.
The Mitt Romney-style clueless white guy-ism of much of the GOP is real, and it’s both an easy and a legitimate target of scorn for political critique. But Maher’s complete side-step of the culpability of our current, black guy, Democrat president in the not-yet-over-in-the-slightest drug war is astoundingly purposeful bullshit — even from a man with a long history of partisan hackery. Maher did donate 1 million dollars to Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. He also managed to admit that the president has been “a liar” on marijuana policy, during an an interview last August.”
Can we at least have that Maher in Rolling Stone?
Apparently it needs to be said again: to people pleading Republican obstructionism, there are lots of things Obama could do to alleviate the misery of the drug war. He hasn’t done them, and has even lied about his ability to do so. Any and all shifts on drug policy have been purely rhetorical.
American taxpayers could spend upwards of $1.2 million over the next decade imprisoning Jerry Duval, a Michigan medical marijuana patient who was convicted of distributing the drug.Duval has a kidney and pancreas transplant, as well as glaucoma and neuropathy. His family grew marijuana on his Michigan farm in part to treat his ailments. But when the Department of Justice prosecuted him in federal court, Duval was barred from presenting evidence of his compliance with Michigan’s medical marijuana law. He will report to prison on June 11.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons initially told Duval he would have to serve out his 10-year sentence in a prison that lacked specialized medical facilities but then relented after an outcry from marijuana reform advocates. He will now serve his time at the Federal Medical Center in Devens, Mass. — the same facility where Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is being held because of injuries he sustained during his apprehension.
Duval has written a letter to President Obama — the man whose Department of Justice per sued and prosecuted the case against him — in which he questions the harshness of his decade-long sentence. Why, asks Duval, is his life being ruined when Obama once suggested that he was willing to talk about marijuana reform (and certainly enjoyed the stuff in his younger days — which must be why Republicans hate him so much!)?
Maher is free to support the president with as many millions of his own money as he chooses. He may write what he likes in any magazine, now matter how dishonest, lazy, or partisan the resulting article. Hell, Maher is right about, and right to be overjoyed over, the inevitability of pot freedom (as in, it will happen in the future), but that doesn’t excuse his willful ignorance of Obama’s part in the current debacle. Maher doesn’t even appear to understand that there’s a Democrat making executive decisions right now. Why bother facing your side’s bad decisions, when you can keep trashing the uncool, other party instead?
Odds are Duval and the hundreds of thousands of people imprisoned for drug crimes will not be celebrating pot freedom along with Maher and Rolling Stone. At least not yet.
Should we blame Rolling Stone itself for this bullshit piece? The elder statesman of rock magazines has a long history of being good on the drug war. But maybe their more recent history of soft-ball interviews with the President and Vice President is coloring their celebration of this mythical drug war ceasefire. The rest of the issue’s pot coverage looks more informative and accurate, but that doesn’t mean the magazine’s choice of Maher to write up “How We Won the War on Pot” (the cover headline) isn’t baffling. We won the war, swears Maher, yet he doesn’t mention a single casualty of that ongoing conflict. We won the war, Maher? Not yet we didn’t. But when we do, it will be no thanks to you, your million bucks, or your president.