Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Robin Prosser: Victim of Paternalistic Totalitarianism

"Eeet's naht a TOO-mah!"
If it were a tumor, and Arnold's treatment program included marijuana, the Feds would intervene.

Arnold Schwarzenegger suffered a fit of clarity during a recent interview with GQ, creating a small pseudo-controversy quickly cleaned up by a press aide.

Asked about drug use during the 1970s, the seven - time Mr. Olympia – whose hypertrophied form eloquently testified to the copious non-clinical use of steroids – insisted that he was clean. Reminded that millions have seen footage from the documentary Pumping Iron of the future California Chief Executive blissfully sucking on a spliff, Arnold insisted: “Marijuana is a leaf, not a drug.”

That's a perfectly defensible distinction (unlike the spurious one Arnold drew between adultery and carnal acts that fall short of the “act”). Arnold's comment, and the de rigueur “clarification” offered by his press aide, provided a brief ripple of general amusement, and the high priests of the news cycle were able to advance the story while avoiding the question of whether the remark had merit worthy of further consideration.

Marijuana is many things, both troubling and helpful. The most destructive role played by the Demon Weed is not the impact it has on the sensory perceptions of those inhabiting the Hackey-Sac and Jam Band subculture; rather, it is the exploitation of this relatively innocuous leaf by Leviathan as a way of aggrandizing its power and subsidizing its crimes.

In a society where the regulated consumption of alcohol and nicotine is perfectly legal, it makes no sense to ban consumption of cannabis. As is the case with prohibition of any kind, criminalization of marijuana has done nothing to reduce the extent of its consumption. But this is to be expected, since the War on Drugs isn't an effort to reduce narcotics use; instead, it's a singularly lucrative public works project for prosecutors, police, and others in the business of retail coercion.

Cynical sort that I am, I find myself wondering if the reason why Arnold's comments were given such wide circulation was to help bury a more noteworthy marijuana-related story – the death, by suicide, of 50-year-old Montana resident Robin Prosser on October 18. For decades, the Missoula woman suffered from systemic lupus, an immunosuppressive disorder that attacked her internal organs and slowly robbed her of the ability to live a normal life, leaving in the place of her stolen physical skills a residue of ever-growing chronic pain.

At one time, Robin was a well-paid systems analyst with a refined gift for playing the piano. At the time of her untimely death last week, she was living in a small, unventilated apartment, penniless and deeply in debt, unable even to go for a long walk: What for most people would be the welcome caress of sunlight to her would be an unbearable assault. Like many others dealing with chronic pain produced by incurable degenerative diseases, Robin benefited from the medical use of marijuana.

Robin was elated when Montana voters approved the state's Medical Marijuana Act in 2004. Although she was probably too weak and tired to be outraged by the Supreme Court's Gonzalez v. Raich decision the following year upholding the federal government's claim that it could ignore state laws permitting the medical use of marijuana, enforcing its own edicts by arresting sick people who use marijuana for the purposes of pain abatement and the compassionate health care providers who help them obtain it.

The Raich decision is marked by a singular cruelty. The majority opinion concedes that the California residents who brought the case, Angel Raich and Diane Monson, are people suffering from incurable diseases who endure “excruciating pain” and could die without the medically supervised use of marijuana. Neither of them was “trafficking” in marijuana; Monson cultivated her own, Raich received hers through two anonymous caregivers. Their behavior was perfectly legal under California's 1996 “Compassionate Use Act,” and had no nexus of any kind with “interstate commerce.”

When deputy sheriffs, in the loathsome company of a group of armed parasites from the DEA, visited Monson's home in August 2002, they concluded that “her use of marijuana was lawful as a matter of California law. Nevertheless, after a 3-hour standoff, the federal agents seized and destroyed all six of her cannabis plants.”

For this act of malicious vandalism, the feds should have been arrested by the deputies and frog-marched to the nearest jail. The deputies should have turned their guns on the Feds and defended Monson's right to life and her personal property – which is the sole reason why the office of County Sheriff exists in the Anglo-Saxon Common Law tradition. Instead, they behaved in the fashion we should expect, now that the Homeland Security apparatus has absorbed every formerly independent police agency in the country.

Given that Monson's behavior was perfectly legal and absolutely necessary for her survival, why did the Court rule against her?

"Everything within the State; nothing outside the State; nothing against the State": That was Mussolini's totalitarian formula, symbolized by the Fasces, which can be seen at left in an Axis commemorative stamp, and in the U.S. House of Representatives behind the Speaker's chair (see below).

This case “is made difficult by [Raich and Monson's] strong arguments that they will suffer irreparable harm because, despite a congressional finding to the contrary, marijuana does have valid therapeutic purposes,” the Court allowed, with “Justice” Stevens employing that tone of sympathetic regret often used by people making indefensible decisions that harm innocent people.

However, the Court was zealous to preserve the power of Congress, as the legislative appendage of the Leviathan, to impose its will on the entire American population – even when doing so results in unambiguously bad policy that expands the compass of human misery. This is because central government supremacy must be maintained at any cost.

According to Stevens' opinion in Raich, the controlling precedent is the pernicious Wickard v. Filburn, the 1942 ruling that turned the Constitution's Commerce Clause into a license for totalitarian regulation. On Comrade Stevens' reading, “Wickard ... establishes that Congress can regulate purely intrastate activity that is not itself `commercial,' in that it is not produced for sale, if it concludes that failure to regulate that class of activity would undercut the regulation of the interstate market in that commodity.”

In the case of Wickard, the commodity was wheat grown by a farmer purely for his own consumption on a tract of land he owned; in Raich, the commodity was marijuana produced solely for the consumption of individual patients under medical supervision (and in Monson's case, she grew her own). Yet because Congress has decreed that marijuana grown and consumed under such circumstances could affect interstate commerce in some way only those omniscient seers can detect, it has the power to criminalize that activity.

Most likely for tactical reasons, the respondents in the Raich case didn't challenge the constitutionality of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention Act; after all, they weren't trying to decriminalize narcotics, they were simply trying to compel the Feds to respect state medical marijuana laws. But in any case, the Court isn't receptive to the idea that there are limits of some sort on the powers of the central government:

The Supremacy Clause unambiguously provides that if there is any conflict between federal and state law, federal law shall prevail. It is beyond peradventure that federal power over commerce is `superior to that of the States to provide for the welfare or necessities of their inhabitants,' however legitimate or dire those necessities may be.... Just as state acquiescence to federal regulation cannot expand the bounds of the Commerce Clause, ... so too state action cannot circumscribe Congress' plenary commerce power.”

Here Stevens was just a tad precious in trying to demonstrate his even-handedness: His attempt at dialectical symmetry falls apart when he refers to the congressional commerce power as “plenary,” which would mean that it had no place to “expand.” But he's lying (no other word fits) in his depiction of the Supremacy Clause.

The entire point of enumerating federal powers is to restrain the central government to the specific enumerated functions. The entire point of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments is to protect individual rights and reserved state powers against federal encroachments.

And as James Madison instructs us in Federalist essay number 45, under the Constitution it is the states, not the central government, that have plenary authority to deal with “all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State” -- including the issue of whether or not critically ill people can exercise their God-given right to seek palliative care in the form of medical marijuana.

In his concise and well-reasoned dissent from the Raich majority, Justice Thomas points out: “In the early days of the Republic, it would have been unthinkable that Congress could prohibit the cultivation, possession, and consumption of marijuana.”

By ratifying the Bush Regime's policy of ignoring state medical marijuana laws, “Here, Congress has encroached on States' traditional police powers to define the criminal law and protect the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens.... Further, the Government's rationale – that it may regulate the production or possession of any commodity for which there is an interstate market – threatens to remove the remaining vestiges of States' traditional police powers.”

And this is the entire point, of course – not only of this execrable Supreme Court decision, but of the entire War on Drugs: The consolidation of a unitary, omnipotent State.

To the soul-dead functionaries building that system, the sufferings of Robin Prosser (may she rest in God's peace) and others in her condition are a painful but necessary sacrifice – incense on the altar of the Almighty State.

In March of this year, the DEA – acting on a tip from a UPS employee – confiscated a package bound for Robin Prosser that contained less than an ounce of marijuana. Displaying what he probably thought was heroic magnanimity, Jeff Sweetin, the DEA's regional commissar, said that Prosser wouldn't face prosecution.

We're kind of protecting people from their own state laws,” gloated Sweetin. “Give me liberty, or give me death,” responded Prosser in a despairing newspaper column.

To be free of the besetting pain inflicted needlessly on her by the paternalistic State, Prosser had to die. Tell me again: In what sense is this a genuinely free country?

Video Extra

The late Robin Prosser shares a first-hand account of her plight:

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Here we see Robo-Republican Mitt “Double Guantanamo” Romney confronted by Clayton Holdon, who uses medical marijuana to treat his muscular dystrophy. This exchange from October 6 dispels at least one of the mysteries surrounding Mitt: Given the place he stores his head most of the time, it's no wonder the 60-year-old candidate's hair remains dark brown.

Dum spiro, pugno!


Al Newberry said...

Mitt Romney, murderer by way of apathy.

Anonymous said...

The appropriate response of the states would be to utilize the national guard to oust the Feds. No governor would have the testicles to do such a thing, unfortunately. Still, it's strange these people are getting caught. I mean, weed is everywhere, and millions of people smoke it their whole lives without fear of capture. If it were a matter of life or death, I think I'd have to take those DEA agents out. At that point it's self defense.

Anonymous said...

How do these people get caught? Weed is everywhere. Screw the Gestapo, millions smoke it every day and don't even think of capture. I've seen people smoking a joint stopped at a light. No worries.

Anonymous said...

That was Mitt Romney? No way. Can't be. Just look a little closer. The You Tube image clearly identifies the lecturer as Rudolf Hess, circa 1938.

liberranter said...

If it were a matter of life or death, I think I'd have to take those DEA agents out. At that point it's self defense.

That's exactly what things will be coming to in the near future, if they aren't there already. Be it DEA, FBI, or any other "law enforcement" agency exceeding the bounds of its authority and embarking on "no-knock" raids, etc., an increasing number of us who adhere to the sanctity and efficacy of the 2nd Amendment as a means of defending our God-given rights are going to be armed and ready to respond to any such assaults on persons or property. We may not survive, but neither will agents of Leviathan come away unscathed either. Only when a growing number of citizens stand up for themselves and their property in the manner sanctioned by the founding documents will we begin to see a decrease in Leviathan's violent, lawless arrogance.

Taylor Conant said...

The Romney video was appalling, and revealing, indicative of the State's general attitude toward needless suffering.

But what I found most unfortunate about the video was the sick man's insistence that HE didn't support legalization "for everyone." This is such a typical mindset in America these days... special privileges for me and my kind, but not anyone else.

It's like saying, "Abortion is murder, except following a rape, then it's acceptable."

Or, "I support the prosecution of thieves, unless they happen to be working for the government, then that's fine."

Speaking of abortion, so many women get so indignant about "taking away their right to choose," you'd think that if all these women really cared about was their right to make decisions about their own body, you'd have a bunch of militant female legalizationists/libertarians running all over the country all day long. Pity, you don't see that.

There is no logical way to defend a "marijuana privilege" for some sufferers and not others because there is no objective way to determine or define who is "suffering" and who is not. If you honestly believe you have a right to use marijuana, I don't see why you wouldn't support the "extension" of that right (ie the non-denial by the State) to everyone else as well.

Everyone's right to do anything is inextricably tied into everyone else's right to do anything... if you don't want other people to be allowed to do what you want to do, you shouldn't be very surprised that they aren't too supportive of letting you do that which you want to do either!

It's an odd form of elitism, but one I see demonstrated more and more every day. I remember a recent appearance by Charles Payne on a Fox Business News channel show (I was watching a clip for the appearance of Peter Schiff on the show, I swear I don't watch Fox anything just for the fun of it!!) in which everyone on the show was talking about a recent Dept. of Labor regulation that stipulated some kind of forced savings attempt being foisted on employees with 401(k)s. This arrogant SOB Charles Payne said he wasn't a big government, "big Democrat government" (big Republican government, that's a-okay!) type of guy, but he thought this was a critical issue and Americans needed some "nudging" as he put it.

I can just imagine asking Charles, "say, what about you Charles? Should the government be 'nudging' you to save more?" to which I am sure his response would be:

"Me? Oh, no, I can take care of myself, thanks very much. It's them I'm worried about."

Anonymous said...

That photo of Arnold looks more like a roided up version of Prince.

Unknown said...

I couldn't have said it better. Great comments.

Doug: It's great to see your name in the comments here.

Anonymous said...

If the drug tests are to end, we need more stories like this to hit the news:



"Martina Hingis said Thursday she has been accused of testing positive for cocaine at Wimbledon, and then announced her retirement from professional tennis....

...Hingis, a five-time Grand Slam champion and former Wimbledon winner, denied using cocaine.

"I find this accusation so horrendous, so monstrous that I've decided to confront it head on by talking to the press," she said. "I am frustrated and angry. I believe that I am absolutely 100 percent innocent."

The nannystate /, what would the children think if... / rehab industrial complex is freakin' out of control and it must be stopped.

If only people would stop selling out for that job and draw the line by not cooperating with the war on some drugs. Sure, you may not get that sweet $100,000 / year gig, but at least you will have a little dignity and help put a stop to the 21st Century Inquisition.

People signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that their very signatures associated with that document placed their very lives in jeopardy. Are we so weak as to roll over and pee on demand, for a job which could be outsourced or downsized?

We are all drops of water behind a dam which is built on a faulty foundation.

\Nobody expects the Inquisition.

\Couldn't help it.

Al Newberry said...

You know what also bugs me about Romney in that video? He points out that "there is synthetic marijuana you can take."

So, taking something natural should be illegal, but taking a synthetic drug which mimics the effects of natural substance should be legal? The main reason they make synthetic drugs is because they can't patent natural substances and make more money on them.

dixiedog said...

It's certainly tragic that this woman took her own life, but I'm always amazed at how willing and energetic some folk are to commence fighting to legalize certain drugs for whatever pet reason they claim.

After all, I've also heard that cigarettes have beneficial effects and help prevent Alzeimers, but nobody is fighting on the tobacco front. Grigg mentions that they are legal, but in many areas these days, the "legal" aspect only covers buyin' 'em, not smokin' 'em. Yes, we don't mind ya BUYING them (and PAYING our exorbitant excise taxes, naturally), but you'll be heavily restricted on when/where, or even IF, you can consume them.

And I'm skeptical of one who claims to be allergic to ALL of the painkillers on the market. Hell, there's a plethora of LEGAL narcotics on the market for heaven's sake as drugs of every sort and type are being advertised on the damned booby constantly. But no, I can ONLY tolerate cannabis!

I'm just not that empathetic with members of the drug corner of the culture when so much else, much more important and critical than whether Leviathan has it's heavy hands involved in the drug racket, is being stomped out of the public arena.

The point that Leviathan is involved in ANY venture not specifically enumerated in the Constitution should be self-evident to even the walnut brained, so anyone who expects me to scream, cry, or whine aloud about Leviathan's unsconstitutional involvement in the arena of d-r-u-g-s is wasting their breath. After all, many of us here....s-i-g-h....already have long known about Leviathan's far-reaching tentacles. No new revelation there.

In addition, many if not most of these same folk are largely unconcerned and apathetic about the other aspects of the culture war waging around us. So, likewise am I apathetic about this segment, sorry.

Now, this woman may have been an exception to the above, but most of those endorsing so-called "medical marijuana," or any drug legalization agenda for that matter, seem to ONLY come out of the woodwork, pursue notoriety, and pout and squeal over their inability to legally exercise their own narcissistic traits, whatever they may be.

Besides, as anonymous (10:26 PM) said above, "Weed is everywhere. Screw the Gestapo, millions smoke it every day and don't even think of capture. I've seen people smoking a joint stopped at a light. No worries."

I guess I just don't share Will's enthusiasm for the incessant squawking about the "War on Drugs" over all the other more culturally impacting "Wars" in progress (War on Christianity, War on the Nuclear Family, War on Independent Thinkers, War on Decency, and a myriad of other "War on [insert any trait or character exhibited or practiced that's worth a damn]."

If the "War on Drugs," actually one could call it the "Battle over Drugs" ended outright tomorrow, the WAR would still be in full course and very much in progress. Winning one merely insignificant (arguably even detrimental in the grand scheme, or characterized as a Pyhrric victory at best) battle does not in the slightest put an end to a large-scale culture WAR with elements thereof using the hand of Leviathan as an ally in their respective attempt to crush the opposition. The Netherlands has no "War on Drugs" and it's NOT a place I would want to live my entire life. I've been there and it's certainly a great hedonistic party utopia - all you can consume drugs, sex, drinking, etc. - but that's about it. Most other types of behavior, traits, and freeeeeeeeedoms - the critical and meaningful kind, that is - have tight reigns governing those, or even bans applied.

But we're harmonizing with the European Union overall, with the exception of drugs and instigating wars everywhere, perhaps, at the moment, but I think we'll even be "harmonized" soon enough on those fronts.

Don't be so inpatient, folks! Give it time!

Anonymous said...

Some people just dont have the time to wait... And, by the way, I met this woman. She "can't" use standard meds because of how her body reacts to them. The desease she had deteriorates her organs, makeing almost anything she puts in her body damage it more, and makeing her more sick. Inhaleing smoke brings the medicine to the lungs, dispursing it quickly, and most of the rest of it gets blown back out. I do agree that weed should be completely leaglized, but one battle at a time.

For Robin it is too late...

We can still help others...