07/15/12 Lisa Bloom

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Lisa Bloom NYT best selling author of Swagger, Neill Franklin of LEAP at NAACP + Prohibion is a Flop

Audio file


Cultural Baggage / July 15, 2012


Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”

DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.


DEAN BECKER: My do we have a show for you today. We’re going to be bringing Lisa Bloom. She’s the author of a book, “Swagger.” Gonna tell you more about it here in just a moment but I want to recognize the passing of Supreme Court Justice Gustin L. Reichbach Will read a little bit from his May 17th OPED in the New York Times.

“Given my position as a sitting judge still hearing cases, well-meaning friends question the wisdom of my coming out on this issue. But I recognize that fellow cancer sufferers may be unable, for a host of reasons, to give voice to our plight.

It is another heartbreaking aporia in the world of cancer that the one drug that gives relief without deleterious side effects remains classified as a narcotic with no medicinal value.”

He closed his OPED with this:

“Medical science has not yet found a cure, but it is barbaric to deny us access to one substance that has proved to ameliorate our suffering. “

That’s in recognition of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Reichbach up in New York. With that I want to introduce our guest. You may have seen her. Lisa Bloom has been a fixture on American television for a decade as a legal analyst for CBS, ABC and many others. You’ve seen her on the early shows, CBS Evening News, Dr. Phil, etc. And, again, her book “Swagger: Ten urgent rules for raising boys in an era of failing schools, massive joblessness and thug culture.” Welcome, Lisa Bloom.

LISA BLOOM: Thank you so much for having me.

DEAN BECKER: Lisa, this book is a game changer. It’s a recognition of the nature, the twisted nature of what we’ve done to the expectations mostly of our young males here in America. Right?

LISA BLOOM: You know I have a son and a daughter and I wrote my first book about girls in America. That’s a book called “Think.” As I went around talking about it a lot of parents approached me and said, “What about boys?”

As I began looking into it, Dean, I was really shocked at what I found that girls are outperforming boys at every level of school now in every subject. Some colleges would be 70% female if they weren’t practicing affirmative action for boys and the admission officers are openly admitting that.

In the early stages of employment our young men are unemployed at the same rate as young men are in Arab Spring countries – between 18 and 25%. We really have a crisis in this country when it comes to boys and young men so I wrote this book.

The first chapter is a wake-up call about what’s really going on with boys today in America. The second half of the book is a guide for parents about what you can do, about what the latest and best research shows you can do starting today at either free or very low cost to help your son and make sure he stays on track.

DEAN BECKER: Lisa, I have three sons ranging in age, one is actually 28-years-old today on up to age 40. The fact of the matter is that I think back to my time as, you know, teenage years, 20s and 30s and how here living in Houston, the manufacturing capital of the world, I could acquire 4 jobs in a single day if I wanted to. And yet those days are passed.

LISA BLOOM: Yeah, exactly. My kids are 22 and 20 and it couldn’t be a more different world for people raising young boys. When you and I when our kids were little or when we were little. As you say, the manufacturing base has dried up. It used to be one-third of the economy now it’s about 5%.

This comes at a time as boys are dropping out of high school in huge numbers or those who do finish 1 in 5 graduates illiterate. So the problem is our boys are doing worse and worse in school. School has become increasingly important to their future and so many parents think, “Well boys will be boys. Let them go out and play. Of course girls are better at reading. Don’t worry about it.”

I wish we could have that sanguine attitude but, unfortunately, we can’t. As I point out in the book if your boy’s not reading well by the fourth grade you can almost predict what his future is going to be – that he’s going to do poorly in all subjects because they all require reading. That he probably will drop out of high school or if he finishes he’ll finish with low grades. He probably will not go to college or finish college. And he’s going to have a very difficult time in the job market.

As you point out with all the changes in Houston these changes are probably not going to change back. We’re not going to be getting a lot of manufacturing back from China. Most of the jobs today are service jobs that require reading and writing skills and communication skills and that’s exactly what the girls are killing our boys in.

So it’s a tough world for guys right now.

DEAN BECKER: It is and there is this…the culture which you delve into as well – what we have done, what it means to be a man and one of the, I guess we’d have to say, prime failings of what we’ve allowed to happen is that reading is now girly, reading is not doing - as your book indicates, right?

LISA BLOOM: Isn’t that shocking? So I interviewed boys all over the country and I kept hearing this that reading is girly and I thought, “Good grief where is this attitude coming from?”

Don’t you know that it’s coming from us adults subconsciously. We adults tend to give books as gifts to girls twice as much as boys. We tend to give boys sporting equipment. If boys see somebody reading in the home it’s typical mom not dad. Women read twice as many books as men do for pleasure.

If your son is getting read to (and I hope he is) he’s probably getting read to by mom or his teacher who’s female. So they absorb the message that reading is a girl thing. They understand that people want them to read but they don’t see men reading. So one of the tips I have in the book is, “Dad, you need to read for pleasure, your own book, in the presence of your son. You need to model for him that reading is a pleasure. That intellectual curiosity is important. Of course read to him but read with him as well and let him see that real men read books.” It’s such an important lesson for our boys.

DEAN BECKER: Indeed it is. I have, as I say, my youngest son is now 28 and I even had a talk with him about your book because there develops an attitude of, you know, I won’t say hopelessness because he has a job now but the fact of the matter is there is not that stair step, that rainbow on the horizon like there used to be. I kind of wanted to tell him it’s not his fault. He should recognize what we’re up to, you know?

LISA BLOOM: Yeah. A lot of people are calling this the big flip. So I’m 50-years-old. When I was in school the expectation was boys are smarter. You know, “You girls…” they would say patting us on the head. “You might do well. That’s fine. You can be good at some things but, overall, boys are just smarter and that’s just the way it is.”

Now we have a complete reversed attitude where many parents just think girls are smarter. “My son can’t compete.” You know, a lot parents hold their sons back a year before they start kindergarten so they can give them a little bit of an advantage, maybe they’re older.

It’s really shocking to me, of course, I don’t think girls or boys are inherently smarter than the other. All the studies show that the reason girls are doing so well is they do more homework, they stand tasks better and when they have a problem they ask for help and that’s something our boys really have trouble with. That’s why I call the book, “Swagger” because there’s this swagger attitude that our boys are getting from pop culture and pop music and it’s really harming them especially in school because a guy who swaggers, who’s over confident, he’s not going to ask for help. He’s going to fake it. He’s going to gloss over the problems and that’s a formula for disaster.

DEAN BECKER: Now, as you’re aware, Lisa, this show deals with the drug war. That is our weekly framework. Your book delves deep into that as well – the hip hop culture and the ramifications of having gotten caught up in at one time can ruin your prospects for life. Do you want to tell us how that’s in your book.

LISA BLOOM: Yes and thank you so much for doing a show on this every week because it’s such an important topic. I talk about the four problems that are hammering our boys right now and one of them is our culture of mass incarceration. Maybe your listeners know but most people don’t know that the United States currently incarcerates more of its own people than any other country on earth including China (a notoriously punitive country and has four times our population) and more than any other country in human history.

We currently have 7 million people under correctional control in this country - 2 million incarcerated, 5 million on probation or parole. 93% of those are male so this is really a problem for our boys and for our young men. And a huge percentage of this number is because of the War on Drugs. We’ve simply decided to classify whole categories of human behavior as criminal that we didn’t used to consider criminal.

So it used to be, in the United States, a simple possession crime for drugs would get you either community service or probation, rehab maybe up to one year in jail at the most. Now people are getting 5 or 10 years for marijuana possession felonies and, of course, that continues after they get out harming them, really, for the rest of their lives because they have to check the box on job applications and no one is going to hire them if they are a convicted felon even if it’s for a 20-year-old marijuana possession charge. They can’t vote. They can’t get licensing in many areas. They can’t get public housing. We even deny them food stamps in many places. I mean this is horrendous and this harming our young men, in particular, who are the ones swept up in this.

I do a lot of talking about this publically and some people on the conservative side have joined with me simply because of the issue of cost. Even if you don’t like drugs and personally I don’t like drugs. I don’t do drugs. I’m very anti-drug with my kids but, you know, what other people want to do with their own bodies I frankly don’t want to pay $50,000 per year to incarcerate them for that and that’s what it costs in my state of California. It’s too expensive. The last thing I’ll just say quickly is I’m also a big advocate for education funding and for getting our class sizes smaller and getting more teachers in the classroom and all the things that we need to educate our kids. As I speak about that everywhere I go I hear the same thing, “Lisa, we don’t have the money. We wish we could do more in education but we don’t have the money.”

Well, I’ll tell you something, I think that’s a lie. We do have the money. We just choose to spend it on prisons and not on our children. That’s what we’re doing wrong. I’d like to see more money spent on our children, on education and less money spent on incarcerating our own people. It’s just not working.

DEAN BECKER: Once again we’re speaking with Lisa Bloom. You’ve seen her on TV. She’s been on dozens of programs and her new book is “Swagger.”

I can’t say enough about this book. This thing blew my mind. It will be part of my toolkit as I move forward trying to educate and motivate people about this drug war. It is a powerful book.

Lisa, you know, the fact of the matter is over the years - we’ve been doing this 10 years – I’ve invited the Drug Czar, head of the DEA, all kinds of mucky-mucks that run the drug war to come on this show to clarify the need for this and I want to share something with you because I guess the major networks will never ask me to speak but here’s the 50 words I’d love to share with you and it goes something like this:

“In lieu of the consequences of the drug war which include empowering our terrorist enemies, enriching the barbarous Latin cartels, giving reason for more than 30,000 violent gangs to prowl our neighborhoods selling contaminated drugs to our children – what is the benefit? What have we derived from this policy that offsets that horrible blow back?”

I wanted to share that with you because you might have use for it.

LISA BLOOM: That’s so good. That’s terrific. And I would add the cost, the cost of our inner-city neighborhoods where most of the drug sweeps happen, the cost to young lives, you know, young men who generally are the primary bread winners in their families taken off the street, put in cages, the women and the families left behind devastated. Not to mention the people being denied the right to vote which I think is appalling that anyone in America would be denied the right to vote. Once you’re out of prison you should have the right to vote. You’re paying taxes. You’re part of this country like anyone else. The consequences are devastating.

DEAN BECKER: In many European countries you can vote in prison.

LISA BLOOM: You know, you can and they encourage it. They encourage it because they want you to still feel connected to your country. And because the people we vote for make laws that affect all of us so of course we should want people in prison to vote just like we should want them to get rehabilitated and learn skills and get off drugs and alcohol and whatever the problems are that sent them to prison. But we don’t do that anymore.

You know, literacy programs in prison have very high effect in terms of reducing recidivism. People who learn to read and write and develop those skills are more likely to get employed when they get out but we’ve cut most of those programs because we think we’re being soft on criminals. We’re not. We’re just actually helping people turn their lives around so we don’t have to pay to re-incarcerate them.

DEAN BECKER: And we’ve been seeing of late stories coming out that the U.S., you know, besides being the world’s largest jailer we’re also the world’s leading solitary confiner. We have so many people locked up for years, decades sometimes, sometimes for 23 hours per day, no interaction with anybody.

LISA BLOOM: Which is really cruel and unusual punishment. The studies about that are very clear about the psychological effect. If I thought about having to be alone in a tiny little cell for 23 hours a day I think it would take me about 2 or 3 days before I started to lose it.

Keep in mind 9 out of 10 of our prisoners are going to get out. They are going to come back out. So what we do to them while they’re in prison is going to affect all of us because they are going to be walking amongst us again.

DEAN BECKER: Ah, so true, Lisa. We’re running out of time here. We’ve got less than 5 minutes. Let’s talk about a couple of the urgent rules you have for raising boys in the era of failing schools, mass joblessness and thug culture.

LISA BLOOM: I’d be happy to. I call the book “Swagger” not because it’s a book about how to swagger because swagger is a word I heard when I talk to boys all over the country and very few parents were aware of it.

Swagger is the most popular song lyric in the last decade across all genres – rap, hip hop even Justin Bieber and Jonas Brothers are singing about swagger. It’s this attitude of confidence and on the one hand it started out as kind of a fun, you know, puff up your chest kind of attitude and that’s fine. But, with many boys, it’s crossed the line into arrogance.

So, for example, the United States is 25th in the world in math out of 30 first world countries but we’re number one in one area – confidence. This over-confidence is especially true among young boys and it really damages them so the first rule I have for parents is to get your kid to lose the swagger and instead return to an old fashion value we hear very little about anymore and that’s humility. You know, when was the last time you heard anybody talking about humility? It’s so out of style.

Although the bible says pride goes before a fall, with humility comes wisdom the modern social science bears that out. If you teach your kid that everyone is equal to him – no better, no less. We’re all equal in the eyes of God. We’re all God’s children. You’re not all that just because you woke up this morning and tied your shoes. You have to earn it. That child ends up doing better in school. That child is emotionally healthy, less likely to drink, do drugs, get into fights. There’s a lot of benefits from that one little attitude adjustment. So that’s the first one is getting your kid to lose the swagger.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah and that’s the case. Going back to my teen and twenties, you know, there was a little bit of swagger – having a job and paying your own rent, succeeding in life, making a little progress…you know, like I said, I got four jobs a day. I was looking for the highest paying job. I went for that one.

There is … we’ve taken away the ability to prove one’s manhood in a way, to shine within the environment you’re living in. Little wonder that some are forced to puff up themselves to feel better. Your response, Lisa.

LISA BLOOM: That’s true and, you know, I have a profile in the book a young man named Giaseppe who I interviewed here in Los Angeles and all he wanted was a job. He told me he had sent out hundreds of resumes and there were just no jobs and he was devastated.

I think we have this attitude that, “Oh, these guys who live on mom’s couch – they’re slackers.” And we kind of look down on them but it’s just the opposite. When I talk to them many of them were desperate for a job. They would have done anything for a job and the failure to launch into adulthood in the way that they expected and the way that their parents had expected was really harming them emotionally. They become depressed. It’s very difficult for young men out there that don’t have the skill set, that don’t have the education.

That’s why we got to start early with our boys. That’s why I wrote the book. You can start as early as 2-years-old and teaching him about reading and literacy and how important it is, getting his intellectual curiosity going, helping him to get the best possible grades, helping to go to college, stay in college, complete college. I believe strongly that anybody who can finish high school can finish college if given the right tools and I have those all in the book.

That’s what we really need to do. That’s the best insurance for a bright future for our sons.

DEAN BECKER: Lisa, I have a 2-year-old grandson. He’s my youngest and …

LISA BLOOM: Oh, congratulations.

DEAN BECKER: I’m going to put much of your advice with him. He’s a bright, scrappy little kid - throws a good fast ball already.

Folks, we’ve been speaking with Lisa Bloom. She’s a New York Times best-selling author. Her latest is “Swagger: Ten urgent rules for raising boys in an era of failing schools, mass joblessness and thug culture.”

Lisa, we got 30 seconds here. Is there a website you’d like to point folks towards? Otherwise, we’ll be seeing you on ABC, NBC or one of the thousands of programs you’ve been on.

LISA BLOOM: Yes, my website is http://www.lisabloom.com You can read free exerts of both of my books there. I’m very active on Twitter at lisabloom. I’m obsessively tweeting about things that I think are important. I also have a Facebook author page, again, just my name, lisabloom. I’d love to connect with your listeners if they want to sound off and tell me what they think. I’d love to connect on social media.

DEAN BECKER: Real good. Lisa, I want to thank you, once again, for this book. I will be putting it in my tool kit. I will be using this information as I interact with other folks in the future. Thank you for this book, “Swagger.”

LISA BLOOM: Thank you so much, Dean, for everything that you do. Really appreciate it.

DEAN BECKER: Alright. Lisa Bloom.


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DEAN BECKER: Last week we gave you a quick summation of what was going on in Houston – the convention of the NAACP and one of the exhibitors at the convention was Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and one of those sitting at the table sharing information with passers-by is the Director of LEAP, Mr. Neill Franklin. How are you, sir?

NEILL FRANKLIN: I’m doing well, Dean. This was a wonderful event.

DEAN BECKER: In the short time that I sat here we saw kind of a good cross section of the attendees and people from all across the country. Tell us a typical encounter. Who came up to the table, Neill?

NEILL FRANKLIN: I’ll tell you what was interesting. We’ve been here for 4 days. This is the fourth day at the booth here and hundreds of people have come by. We’ve had conversations with, obviously, all these people and I expected more people to not understand what we were trying to do here and what we were trying to say here about ending prohibition and why. I expected more of a convincing conversation from our perspective but, believe it or not, most of the people who came by knew about the harms of the drug war, of prohibition. They didn’t know the details of it but even those that didn’t have the knowledge, didn’t have the facts could sense it – that it was wrong, that it is immoral, that it was one of the major reasons that their communities and their families are literally coming apart at the seams.

And, you know, here at the NAACP convention there was a lot of talk about (not just hear at my booth but also in one of the criminal justice forums) the topic of black on black crime came up. May I add at the end of the day even that sits upon the foundation of drug prohibition policies.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, and I think you’re right that people are aware of the clues – subtle and not so subtle – that help them to form the opinion, to recognize the failure of the drug war.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Yeah, they did. There was only one or two people that didn’t quite get it at the time they stepped up to our table but after 10, 15 minutes of a good conversation they then realized that our current position on prohibition in this country was, in fact, a problem.

As a matter of fact, one of the first things we did is just start out with the places where we agreed. We found that common ground and then from that place of common ground we started dissecting the policy and the results of our current policy. So even those people that stepped up to our table that were completely on the opposite side of this issue of prohibition they now have a different perspective and they walked away with a little bit of education.

DEAN BECKER: Neill, I think it’s as simple as that. The clues, subtle or otherwise, are there. People maybe don’t compile them, don’t recognize how they’re interwoven and part of the same problem, right?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Yeah and what’s really interesting is those who weren’t quite there when they stepped up to the table, you know, what they were interested in was treatment and education. So we started talking about treatment and education but then when they realize that those who are suffering from addiction need to be treated from a health perspective instead of a criminal justice perspective. So that was an enlightening moment for them. And then when they realized that there is so much money being spent on the enforcement end of this that could be spent on education and treatment – there was another enlightening moment.

And then when we had a discussion about cigarettes, tobacco and the improvements we’ve made over the past few decades in reducing tobacco consumption in this country (almost cutting it in half) not sending a single person to prison, not shooting a single person in the street and we did it through education, treatment and social acceptance or un-acceptance, OK? They realized we could do the same thing with the drugs that we currently classify as illegal.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, now on a different topic – next month and into September there is going to be a major gathering, a major caravan, if you will, across America. It’s called the “Caravan for Peace: Stop the violence.” This is going to involve a lot of great folks from the NAACP, from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and many other social organizations around the country. Tell us what you know about that, please.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Caravan for Peace began by a Mexican poet by the name of Javier Sicilia who lost his son in Mexico to drug violence where his son and his friends were killed by members of the cartel and ever since that time he has been leading caravans in Mexico – one in the north, one in the south and he did one around Mexico City.

He’s been convening tens of thousands of people every time he would do one of these caravans. And what we realized is that in Mexico, obviously, they’ve had over 60,000 murders in the past 6 years by the cartel, 10,000 people still missing, many orphans. We realized that we have similar issues here in the United States in our cities. We have mothers who have lost 2 and 3 sons to drug violence working these open-air drug markets. We’ve had thousands of men and now women in prison for non-violent drug crimes leaving orphans at home.

So we have similar issues here in the United States. We have numbers of people who are dying from overdoses. We have addiction issues. So there are a lot of survivors in the United States so what we are going to do is to join our citizens from Mexico with our citizens here in the United States and we’re going to travel from San Diego hitting 25 cities and ending up in Washington D.C.

So from mid-August to mid-September we’re going to make this journey. LEAP is going to lead this journey or, at least, provide an escort vehicle so we’ll have some of our speakers traveling with the caravan during the entire route and we’re going to talk about the violence. These families are going to share stories. They’re going share stories among each other. They’re going to share it in front of the media. They’re going to share it in front of the citizens of these 25 cities.

When it’s all said and done we’ll all realize how much all of us are touched by the War on Drugs in some negative way. We’re going to move this country. We’re going to move Mexico and this country to a place that it hasn’t been before.

We’re going to move our politicians to a place they haven’t been before. We’re going to move our citizens to a place where they haven’t been before. And when it’s all said and done at the end of the day there shouldn’t be many citizens left in Mexico or the United States who don’t know about this issue and the dire need to end these policies of prohibition and to move into a realm of regulation and control and end the violence.

DEAN BECKER: We’ve been speaking with Mr. Neill Franklin, the Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Please check out their website, http://leap.cc.


Prohibition is an awful flop. We like it.

It can’t stop what it’s meant to stop. We like it.

It’s left a trail of graft and slime. It don’t prohibit worth a dime.

It’s filled our land with vice and crime…nevertheless, we’re for it.

Franklin Adams, 1931


DEAN BECKER: OK. Lisa Bloom, her book “Swagger” – check it out. As always I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.


DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica Studios of KPFT, Houston.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org