Sunday, March 04, 2018

 

Sunday Reflection: Too important for a committee of golfers




As most of you know, I've spent the last 23 years of my life immersed in narcotics policy in one way or another. I think the way we approach narcotics is incredibly important, for two reasons.

First, hard drugs can and do create real, lasting, and deep tragedies in the lives of people, families, and communities. That has never been more true than it is now, with a literal epidemic of opioid-related deaths.

Second, I know that our approach to fighting narcotics has also created real, lasting and deep tragedies in the lives of people, families and communities. On top of the devastation created by drug use, there is the devastation we have inflicted on one another  in misguided and unsuccessful attempts to address drug use and trafficking.

The cost of these twin debacles are nothing less than destitution, the loss of freedom, and death.

In the course of working on these issues, one thing I have found over and over again is that there are many people out there working on these issues who are better-informed, smarter, and more experienced than I am. I find that out every time I venture out into the world. You know who I found there?

I found a federal judge who has gone into prisons to check up on hundreds of the people he sentenced for drug crimes.

I found another federal judge who made his bones shutting down real kingpins-- international traffickers of heroin. When he issues a sentence, he does so with an intense focus on the harm of the crime yet a recognition of the humanity of all involved.

I found an ER doctor who was so fed up with dealing with overdoses and the parade of people trying to scam him for pills that his outrage went public.

I found a woman convicted of conspiracy and then granted clemency, dedicated to the healing, freedom, and recovery of women who face the wrongs and hardships she did.

I found an academic, a former Scalia clerk, who passed by other possibilities to go on an obscure commission and from there shake up the cruel certitude of drug sentencing.

I found people from the whole range of the political spectrum who knew that the two problems I cared about were real, and who dedicated their work to doing something about it.

So.

Our President says he thinks what we do about drugs is important. And you know what he did?  In a place and time where there are people on the right, left, and center who have experience and passion on this topic, and people dying in a drug epidemic, here is who he has put in charge of the efforts, according to Politico:

-- Kellyanne Conway, who is a pollster. According to Politico, she is "quietly freezing out drug policy professionals and relying instead on political staff to address a lethal crisis claiming about 175 lives a day. The main response so far has been to call for a border wall and to promise a "just say no” campaign."

-- Andrew Giuliani, the 32-year-old son of Rudy Giuliani, who has no background in the area, but his plan to be a professional golfer didn't work out, so you know.... drug policy.

-- Oh, and there was Taylor Weyeneth, a 23-year-old who previously had, um, organized a fraternity golf event.

This is wrong, in a way that should make people angry. I know too many people for whom working on this problem is a vocation. It's why--if you ask them-- they are here on this earth. It is immoral to leave them to the side while golfers preside over what should matter.


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