cj#438> ESSAYS: Drugs & State of The Union

1996-01-24

Richard Moore

The styles are radically different, but the thoughts amazingly parallel in
these two postings that come in yesterday.

-rkm

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Date: Wed, 24 Jan 1996
From: •••@••.••• (Joe Ferguson)
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: The State of the Union.

        Last night, in the car, I listened to most of President Clinton's
State of the Union address.
        I was impressed with the oratory, with the leadership and with
the great, relevant truths, like the exhortation to the families of the
United States to "stay together" and to the men of the United States to
care for their children and to provide not only financial support but
love and guidance as well.  Who could possibly argue with this?  Who
could possibly oppose this great leader?
        As I listened, I gradually became aware that this production was
as polished as any Hollywood blockbuster; as smoothly persuasive as any
Madison Avenue ad campaign.  Soon I came to realize it in fact WAS a
Hollywood blockbuster.  It WAS a Madison Avenue ad campaign.  There was
no "Desert Storm" theme music, but it was a production.  "The Great Saga
of The 1996 United States Political Struggle Between The Great Democratic
Party and The (slightly less) Great Republican Party" I soon came to
realize was theater for the Great American Status Quo.
        It doesn't matter too much to the powers that be, whether the
Democrats or the Republicans win in November.  Either way, the agenda of
the greedy multi-national corporations is safe.  However, based on the
staging of the drama last night, I feel the stage is slightly tilted,
this time in favor of the Democrats.  Their apparent empathy with the
underpriviliged and vulnerable segments of our society will allow things
to run smoothly with much less chance of an angry uprising of the masses.
A bloodbath is, after all, not good for business nor public relations.
        Clinton really lost me, however, when he boldly stated his
intention to escalate the War On Drugs by appointing a military man to
the Drug Czar post and taking our war to "foreign soil."
        Mr. Clinton said that our policy against crime is working, and
that the incidence of violent crime is dropping.  I couldn't help but
wonder at the reports I have heard that this is not true.  I couldn't
help but remember an online newspaper editor's doubt about how accurate
is the body count in his Lost Angeles neighborhood.
        Mr. Clinton made a number of challenges to the people and the
legislators of the United States.  Now I would like to make a couple of
challenges of my own.

        CHALLENGE # 1: Don't maintain America's drug problem, SOLVE it.

        SOLVE the drug problem.  How?  I'm not saying it's simple, but
there are a number of harm reduction policies that have been proposed by
reputable authorities in this field, any of which would be an improvement
on our current stupid policies.
        Why did we repeal alcohol prohibition?
        I think we should think about the prohibitions that are putting
harmless people in jail, turning our poorest neighborhoods into battle
zones, boosting the cost of drugs, boosting profits for traffickers,
corrupting policemen and politicians, and WASTING OUR TAX DOLLARS.
        Regarding the non-addictive, herbal drug cannabis, our policy
is simply corporate welfare.  There is NO LEGITIMATE reason to ban hemp
in any form.  Humans can not die from it and can not develop the severe
liver problems associated with indulgence in alcohol.  It is NOT
addictive and could probably be used to TREAT nicotine addiction, but
we'll not know that until the laws allow us to research it.
        The hemp ban protects Nylon from its most potent competitor.
(Nylon was patented by DuPont within one year of the passage of the
federal hemp prohibition legislation... hmmmm...)
        The hemp ban protects from a robust, natural, renewable,
environmentally friendly competitor, the petro-chemical industries, the
forest products industries and the pharmaceutical industries.  The ban
also helps bolster the drug testing and prison industries.  What is
the total dollar amount of all of these industries?  Add that up, and
take a tenth of it if you are skeptical, half of it if you are pro-hemp.
Either way, does it seem to you like enough money to tempt someone to
buy a law?

        I believe any Presidential candidate that does not oppose the
War On Drugs in its current form is guilty of one of the following:

        A) He is corrupt and is profiting directly or indirectly from
the huge black market in drugs;

        B) He is in the pocket of any number of powerful and corrupt
people who profit directly and indirectly from the prohibitions;

        C) He wants to be elected too badly to do the right thing.

        Do you think any of the above apply to either or both of the two
major presidential candidates of 1996?  How about two out of three?

        CHALLENNGE # 2: END COVERT AGENCIES AND ACTION.

        The operation in Bosnia is, in my opinion, acceptable so far,
if for only one reason: it is taking place in the light of day.
        If the United States really wants to act as a world leader in
good faith, it is time to end our covert activities.
        Too many times have our supposedly "good intentions" been
undermined and corrupted by covert action gone awry.
        Too often has our method of "the end justifies the means"
abjectly failed as the end has been lost among the immoral means.  Too
often has the end been the same: higher profits for the wealthiest
capitalists.
        Too often have we Americans had good reason to be ashamed of
what our tax dollars, spent abroad, have financed.
        If the United States is not ready to abandon covert action,
we are no longer just the most powerful nation in the world, we are
a nation of bullies.
        There is no excuse to allow the abuses we have seen to
continue.

        CHALLENGE # 3 is for the American electorate.  WAKE UP AND
SMELL THE COFFEE.

        Some people who have been paying attention think that the next
Vietnam will be fought in Central America when the liberation movements
of indigenous people in Chiapas state and the adjacent Guatemala unite
and threaten the status quo in that region.
        I think President Clinton declared the next Vietnam last
night.  It will be a militarized escalation of the War ON People,
(oops I mean Drugs) on "foreign soil" (his words).
        This war will be fought by our children, nephews, nieces and
neighbor kids.  It will be finaced with our taxes and with their blood.
Tens of thousands of innocent civilians in the target foreign regions
will die in the battles.
        Wake up and smell the coffee here at home.  Clinton said we
are going to send more people to prison.  This is a scandal.  Prisoners
of the drug war are increasingly being subjected to forced labor in our
prisons.  I'm not making this stuff up.  American jobs in the private
sector are being lost to cheap foreign sweatshop labor _and_ to cheap
American prison labor.

        My parents' generation fought World War Two, but was brainwashed
about marijuana as are many of my generation.  The worst effect if all
Americans smoked an occasional joint (as long as they didn't try to pilot
vehicles or operate heavy machinery under the influence) would be that
the effects of Madison Avenue would tend to be countered, and our
materialistic over-consuming behavior patterns would shift.  We would
also be a bit less likely to be taken in by slick, staged political
events.

        I was impressed with President Clinton's address last night.  I
heard it compared to Reagan's 1984 State of the Union address.  I may
even still vote for the guy in November, but if I do, it will only be to
keep out a Republican, for whatever that's worth.
        It was a great speech, and the really excellent things said must
not be forgotten just because the overall event may have been, at its
core, phony.

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Date: Wed, 24 Jan 1996
From: "•••@••.•••" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: cj#437> (:>) The Man Who Didn't Know Who He Was

When I saw the above subject line I honestly thought that it would
introduce a snide meditation on the president as he appeared to at least
a few Americans, including himself, last night.

Was he Democrat or Republican, pacifist or war dog, sitting executive or
campaigner, agnostic intellectual or evangelical yawper, father to the new
country we dream of or grave digger for the old one we live in?

I suggest that the last part of this question subsumes the others,
deserving our paramount attention.  It has taken a war-protester president
to link up The War On Drugs{tm} with its own metaphor in the most blatant
and unapologetic form, that of the bemedalled General McCaffrey.  No doubt
this man has TV charm and can turn a fine phrase, but make no mistake about
what's basic: he's a cold-blooded killer, and one of his Cobra gunships can,
on his Vietnam-bred conception of probable cause, turn your entire beloved
neighborhood into a lifeless desert.  Hold onto the car for one more year
and get a few shoulder-fired Sting missiles instead.  I'm not joking.

Like another war, usually deemed over but still raging in VA wards, bars and
homeless shelters near you, the drug war is a conflict that is regularly
escalated without reference to its underlying premises; it is an application
of engineering criteria to the pulpy ambiguities of human life, reacting to
every stimulus by predictably moving further and further in the same
maladaptive direction: a prescription for the death of any and all empires.

American suburbanites, if queried on the run, might betray an indifference
or discernible hostility toward the single ghetto growth industry that they
fancy to be General McCaffery's single target.  Wake up, people; you too are
unpaid extras in this movie.  There's dope reposing at no greater distance
than the kids' bedroom, or in a backyard merging imperceptibly with that
of your neighbor.  And how many lazy synonyms for `dope user' can dance on
a Pentagon pinhead: Black, Latino, Arab, artist, hippie, non-conformist,
pacifist, agnostic, tree-hugger, free-choicer.  Do I see any hands, class?

The general, his Panama-based army, and his entourage of FBI acolytes,
have hitherto been enjoying the free fire zone afforded by uninsured,
non-industrial peasant villages, where hot pursuit of the dope devil
justifies all.  "Don't settle for nostalgia, boys; out with your Zippos!"
A 2-year Huey ride down Memory Lane, paid for by a grateful citizenry,
grateful, maybe, because this narco-Caesar hasn't crossed the Rubicon, yet!

The war is coming home, people, perhaps pursuant to the tormented prayers
of Amazon Indians and Altiplano shepherds.  You can masochistically wallow
in its violence, arbitrariness and intimidation if that will discharge your
Vietnam guilt, but I think a far better homage to our victims of that war
would be a studied emulation of the Viet Cong.  This time you're on home
turf, and the enemy looks and vibes now just as he did there and then.

Chuck the goddamn TV, find out who your neighbors are and what they really
think.  If you sit around waiting for the next election, the next fiscal
year, or some other irrelevant milestone, you may find it was one too many.


So who or what is that man we listened to last night?  He is a nothing,
a pale shadow, a mere fluctuating pretext, but in the hands of his unseen
masters he approximates a reason to hope, to wait, to expect and believe.

He is a keystroke millennium on offer by a priesthood of currency hackers.

                                                                      valis

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 Posted by Richard K. Moore (•••@••.•••) Wexford, Ireland
 •••@••.•••  | Cyberlib=http://www.internet-eireann.ie/cyberlib
    Materials may be reposted in their entirety for non-commercial use.
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