Points Toward the Presidency: Stephen Colbert

Editor’s Note: Following her reviews of the Ricks– Santorum and Perry— Guest Blogger Kelsey Harclerode brings her attention to the third (or maybe second-and-a-half) candidate in Saturday’s South Carolina Republican primary: journalist and political pundit Stephen Colbert. Friday’s “South Cain-olina Primary Rally”made it clear: Stephen Colbert wants to be the Republican presidential nominee. Because Colbert …

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Points Toward the Presidency: Rick Perry

Points’ coverage of Rick Perry’s drug policies appeared at 8:13 this morning.  Exactly one hour later, the Huffington Post carried the news that Perry was dropping out of the race and would endorse Newt Gingrich as the Republican candidate.  Our memo on Gingrich will appear next week– what happens next is anybody’s guess. –the eds.

Editor’s Note: In our second post in this series, guest blogger Kelsey Harclerode explores the twists and turns of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s approach to drugs legislation.  Readers new to Points may also want to examine our coverage of Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman.  The remaining candidates– whoever there are– will be profiled in the days between the South Carolina and Florida primaries.

Dude, Where's My Car?

When a Presidential hopeful has to refute claims that he was either drunk or on drugs during a speech, as Rick Perry found himself doing (repeatedly) after a New Hampshire speech last fall, one would assume that his policies on drinks and drugs would also be lively.  And that is one assumption on which Texas Governor Rick Perry definitely does not fail to deliver. There is a lot to cover, so let’s get right down to it.

Although there are long-standing allegations that Perry has a cocaine habit (and a thing for strippers– oh yeah, and another thing for boys), and although he started his career as a Democrat, no evidence has surfaced to suggest that Perry has ever dabbled in drugs, or even drunk to excess more than the average man from West Texas.  In a recent Parade magazine interview, he flatly denied ever having tried drugs, “unless you call caffeine a drug. Or cold beer or whiskey.”

But Perry’s drug policy stances don’t mirror his personal commitment to temperance so much as they do his debating techniques: policy-wise, he’s all over the place. Whereas Rick Santorum’s positions were incredibly predictable, Perry definitely throws some curve balls into the policy arena.

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Points Toward the Presidency: Rick Santorum

Editor’s Note: As we mentioned in our recent valediction for Jon Huntsman, this week sees the beginning of a timely new series at Points, where we map the republican presidential candidates’ stances on a range of drug and alcohol issues.  A new and  zealous staffer is dedicating herself to bringing Points readers profiles of all the remaining candidates before the Florida primaries: she is Kelsey Harclerode, a 3rd-year University of Florida double major in Political Science and Women’s Studies. Depending on how closely you’ve followed the primaries thus far– or how much you believe that party affiliation determines policy positions– you may not learn a lot that’s new.  But you’ll now have a go-to source for all the details on topics ranging from access to medical marijuana to mandatory minimum sentences.  Plus, our unique “Points Inhale-Scale” will position each candidate relative to Bill Clinton’s “I didn’t inhale” and Barack Obama’s “Of course I inhaled– that was the point.” Our series starts off with a look at that paragon of values conservatism, Pennsylvania’s Rick Santorum.

Santorum, Santorum, Santorum. Do not Google his name. (Trust me.) Instead, what you should Google is his approach to drug policy because that is truly an interesting read. Known for his staunch Catholicism and Evangelical Christian base, Santorum is probably one of the most dependable candidates running in the Republican primary. Whether he’s dependably good, bad, or somewhere in between is up for you to decide– we hope the points below will help you with that determination.

First and foremost, although he admits to having smoked pot himself in college, Santorum is wholeheartedly against drugs of any sort and he has consistently framed his drug policy stances as moral positions. This theme has followed him from his days as a Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives (1990-95), to the U.S. Senate (1995-2007), and ultimately into his campaign for President. Throughout the past two decades, he has stood strong as an ardent drug warrior. Let’s review his scrappy anti-drug tactics.

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“Jonny, We Hardly Knew Ye!”

The Points staff notes with sadness that former Utah governor Jon Hunstman has withdrawn from the competition for the Republican nomination. News of his decision in this regard came just as the staff was preparing a new series, to roll out next week, on the drugs and alcohol platforms of all the candidates.  Was it …

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More Books on Drugs

Editor’s Note: Readers who enjoyed the fiction recommendations from the Points editorial crew may want to know that a few of the editors did surf the web looking for ideas as we prepared that post. As we perused the many “Best of 2011” lists out there, we came across “The Nobbies”— a compilation of admirable …

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Counterprogramming Capra: The Points Holiday Viewing List

Editor’s Note:  Okay: you’ve read Joe Spillane’s thoughts on Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, but maybe even his Points-inspired re-viewing of the film can’t get you excited about ol’ George Bailey and all that guardian angel stuff.  For all those who simply can’t stand any more cinematic Christmas cheer (Acker, Ambler, McClellan, Roizen, Spillane)– or who need their holidays leavened with some drugs and alcohol (Herrera, Long, Travis)– the Points staff offers the following suggestions.

Not-so-Righteous Dopefiend Carmen Sternwood

Caroline Acker:  In The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks, 1946), the errant ways of Carmen Sternwood (the younger sister of the Lauren Bacall character) drive the plot.  In one scene, she is apparently high on opium, which she’s been given in exchange for posing for pornographic pictures– which are retailed around town by a known “fairy,” Arthur Geiger.   To cement the image of Geiger as decadent and depraved, the photo shoot takes place in his house, which is decorated with Chinese objects; the dopey Carmen is dressed in Chinese-style garb.  The creepy Orientalist narcotics netherworld is juxtaposed throughout the film to the wholesome and alcohol-drenched realm where Bogey and Bacall do their thing.

Chuck Ambler: I’m not an expert on African cinema, but the recent arrest and eventual exoneration (after a “poop watch”) of Nigerian film actor and comedian, Baba Suwe got me thinking about whether drug use and drug trafficking are common plot lines in the hundreds of video films produced each year by Nigeria’s film industry—Nollywood.  I haven’t come up with any yet, but one could turn to Chris Obi Rapu’s classic 1992 hit, Living in Bondage (the film that pretty much created Nollywood) as a metaphor for addiction.  Like many Nollywood films, this one features lots of drinking in up-scale homes and commercial bars and cocktail lounges, but the plot turns in this movie (as in many Nigerian films) on a young man ensnared by witchcraft– and ultimately saved by Christian faith.  Many Nollywood films are available on line.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Do Some Blow

Brian Herrera:  Less Than Zero (Marek Kanievska, 1987).  A college freshman comes home to Los Angeles for Christmas break and discovers that he can’t fix the coke-broken lives of his friends.
Go (Doug Liman, 1999).  A drug deal gone wrong makes for a mad mad mad Christmas Eve in this comedy-thriller.
Rent (Chris Columbus, 2005).  Christmas Eve marks both the start and finish for the five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes of the year in which everything changes for a group of NYC friends (including star-crossed and drug-addicted lovers Mimi and Roger).

Amy Long: It should be noted that Brian Herrera beat me to the punch and named not one but two (!!) of the movies I’d thought of listing here– Go and Less than Zero— so in his honor I want to recommend How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Chuck Jones, 1966).  No hard feelings, though; I just had to pull a little harder to come up with the titles that follow. 

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Holiday Gift Books II: Points Recommeds Alcohol & Drugs Non-Fiction

Editor’s Note: You liked the suggestions for novels and memoirs, sure, but let’s admit it: everyone has a dad who only wants to read non-fiction.  Here’s your chance to avoid buying him yet another hack trade book about Abraham Lincoln or the financial crisis.  Get something you might actually enjoy talking about.  The Points staff …

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Drugs and Discovery: An Early Modern Perspective, Part II

Editor’s Note: Last week historian Matthew Crawford argued against the overdetermined notions of “discovery” and “invention,” and called instead for a palimpsestic understanding of the plant-derived drugs that appeared courtesy of transatlantic encounters.  Today, he takes his thinking further, looking for the earliest–and persistent– traces of the presence of cinchona bark in the pharmacopoeias of the Amazon.

Peru Offers Chinchona Bark to "Science" (Guess Who's Who?)

Before 1820, when the alkaloid was isolated, quinine effectively did not exist. Instead, people had a drug known in Spanish as quina or “the Peruvian bark” in English. Quina was a term for the pulverized bark of the cinchona tree, native to the Andean forests of South America, that would be dissolved in water or wine and administered to patients suffering from intermittent fevers. It was from this bark that Pelletier and Caventou isolated quinine and other alkaloids. Quina was a product of the early modern Atlantic World. Europeans, probably Jesuit missionaries, first encountered the bark in the 1630s and 1640s and it became quite popular by the end of the seventeenth century.

One point of contention in the early history of qiuna is whether the indigenous people of the Americas knew about and used the bark before the arrival of Europeans. In our current context of the destruction of indigenous cultures, debates over intellectual property rights with regard to pharmaceuticals derived from ethnobotanical knowledge, and the long shadow cast by colonialism, the question of indigenous use of quina is highly politicized. 

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