All posts by Lucy Steigerwald

Political Agendas and Parallels

Change—terrifying change in society—can happen quickly. It rarely happens as quickly as we imagine.

Margaret Atwood’s 1985 speculative fiction classic The Handmaid’s Tale has just aired its eighth episode of a Hulu television adaptation. Previously turned into a clunky Canadian movie in 1990, this new version is beautifully shot, well-cast, and stars Mad Men’s Elizabeth Moss who easily carries the role of a shrewd, frightened and wry woman, concealing fury and a determination to survive the theocracy she finds herself in. Moss plays Offred nee June, the eponymous woman whose narration states she “once had another name–but it’s forbidden.” She’s had a child before. She’s presumably fertile. Her husband was previously married, so their union doesn’t count in this new world, and she has been become birthing chattel.

Read more at SpliceToday

Even though Trump’s budget guts the Office of Drug Control Policy, the war on drugs will continue

On Friday, news broke that Donald Trump’s 2018 budget would reportedly cut the budget of the Office of National Drug Control Policy by almost 95 percent. According to CNN, who got the draft themselves, this means the ONDCP would fall “from a $380 million budget to $24 million.”

Libertarians and other anti-prohibitionists should be careful not to celebrate too early. The drug war, like life, tends to find a way. The draft memo justifies these cuts mostly in terms of redundancy. And we will still have a DEA, Chris Christie’s shiny new anti-opioid task force, and myriad federal, state, and local drug laws. Drug warriors may be having a bad day, but they shouldn’t panic too much.

Continue reading at Rare Politics

Donald Trump, Rodrigo Duterte and a Tale of Two Drug Wars

President Trump’s “very friendly conversation” with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte included an invitation for a White House visit, though the latter says he may be too busy to accept. The invitation reportedly shocked Trump’s own top officials, who weren’t consulted before it was extended, and was met with horror by human rights groups.

According to the White House readout, the two leaders “discussed the fact that the Philippines is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs,” and Duterte has previously said that Trump has commended him for how he’s dealt with drug dealers.

But Duterte’s drug war is not just a war with cartels, or SWATs teams kicking in doors, as might might be familiar to people in North America but extrajudicial death squads responding to the president’s declaration of open season. And it’s not just talk. Some 8,000 people have been killed already—not counting many more “suicides” by those in police custody—and Duterte was elected only last year.

Read more at The Daily Beast 

Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems

There’s a season for it–the thinkpieces, the brave suggestions, the crawling out to the edge of the limb and saying, yes, I have the answer, we should force America’s youth to come together and serve in some collective cause.

In spite of the right’s fondness for military service and such pageantry, it’s usually the left or the more accurately, the muddy, authoritarian center that suggest this kind of thing. Progressives worry over wars, but they don’t worry enough over the civilian casualties in other countries, or the blowback in America. Sometimes they become overly concerned, insteadn about how poor people join the military, and rich, privileged people don’t. Sometimes they even pull up an extra deep argument, dust the dirt off of it, and say, gee, maybe the draft can stop wars! Charlie Rangel spent decades in congress trying to bring back conscription for that very reason.

And then the thought leaders–the columnists who have to waste space in the New York Times or various blogs each week–they need to get in on this brainstorming. America is broken. America is fractured and overly politicised, and we could be on the brink of a God damned civil war. This is dangerous. Also dangerous is the fact that young people aged, say, 18-25, just keep on choosing their own paths in life. Sometimes they get married or do important things that contribute to society’s togetherness. But sometimes they just eat exotic food and become polyamorists or or Instagrammers. We have to do something.

Why not bring back the draft? What was once the weight on the back of every young man–the fear that he would have to kill or be killed for a broadly-defined goal of patriotism, nationalism, service, whether he wanted to or not–is now gone. Youths are not grinding themselves down under nationalist knapsacks nearly as much as they did before, in the days that were good.

Read more at COUNTERPUNCH

The New Drug Czar’s ‘Hospital Slash Prisons’ Are a Horrible Idea

Once he was safely a lame duck, President Barack Obama let states set their own marijuana policies, pardoned or commuted thousands of prisoners’ sentences and talked more freely—and less hypocritically—about the need to end the war on drugs. In fact, his Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) concluded that Richard Nixon’s famous War on Drugs was now a relict by sending the wrong message in prioritizing punishment over treatment. (In reality, the war did continue, even if the phrase had been covered neatly with a tarp for a few years under the guise of “laboratories of democracy.“)

Now we’re in Donald Trump’s America, with Trump’s ODCP and Trump’s Department of Justice. Attorney General Jeff Sessions heads the latter and he’s expressed befuddlement that the American people aren’t cheering his musings on the prospect of kicking the drug war up a notch to prevent some imagined dystopian future of convenience-store marijuana sales. Unfortunately, POTUS’s supposed pick for drug czar, U.S. Representative Tom Marino, is likely to be just as bad as Sessions. A Republican from Pennsylvania, Marino’s voting record on the drug war makes him well-suited for this position in a Trump administration.

As the Washington Post reports, Marino seems to gung-ho on the “Let’s vaguely pretend this is about public health” front, a position that is all the rage on the right. For Marino, protecting public health may involve “hospital-slash-prisons.”

During a 2016 congressional hearing about heroin, Marino wrung his hands on drug abuse and mostly, how it affects children. His full quote, in context: “One treatment option I have advocated for years would be placing nondealer, nonviolent drug abusers in a secured hospital-type setting under the constant care of health professionals. Once the person agrees to plead guilty to possession, he or she will be placed in an intensive treatment program until experts determine that they should be released under intense supervision. If this is accomplished, then the charges are dropped against that person. The charges are only filed to have an incentive for that person to enter the hospital-slash-prison, if you want to call it.”

Continue reading at Playboy