Wednesday, October 03, 2007

What the hell are they smoking?

White House deputy press secretary Larry Speakes once said, "If you say the same story five times, it's true." We've all heard how well our precious little wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are going, so how can the Bush administration hit the trifecta on their war lie?

BBC--The top US drugs official has said anti-drug efforts are having the best results of the past 20 years. John Walters, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said cocaine shortages had led to a jump in prices in 37 American cities.

Efforts on both sides of the Mexican border have disrupted the flow of all drugs into the US, Mr Walters said.

Yes! The War on Drugs is turning into a cakewalk too! Do you know what this means? As Speakes might say, the Bush administration is now only two wars away from telling the truth!

Of course, just like with real wars, gauges of success can be ridiculously arbitrary. In this case, the indicators involve two things closely associated with George W. Bush: the Mexican border and cocaine.

About 90% of the cocaine entering the US comes through Mexico.

"What's happened for the first time in two decades is we now see widespread reports of cocaine shortages in the United States," Mr Walters said.

[Lindsay Lohan joke space for rent. Five cents per word.]

[Yuppie joke space for rent. No charge.]

As a result of the drop in supply, the price of cocaine had increased by 24% and nearly doubled in some cities.

The federal government is eerily well-informed on that one. I don't know how much a carton of eggs costs, and that's something I can see on a price tag at any market. What do the feds do, just go up and ask dealers? Considering how the three branches of government are acting these days, maybe it's a lateral question.

Just like with all the other wars we're fighting, the real questions aren't being asked. The questions shouldn't be, "How can we stop Mexicans from smuggling cocaine into California?" The question should be, "Why do so many Americans feel the need to risk everything to take illegal drugs?" Hell, just the legal drugs are a bad sign: Americans abuse caffeine, nicotine and a smorgasbord of prescription drugs, none of which even count in the War on Drugs, but can arguably have the same bad effects as the illegals.

Drug policy in the U.S. ignores the underlying causes of drug abuse, emphasizes punishment over rehabilitation and makes arbitrary distinctions of legality. It's a war fought exactly the wrong way, just like our little adventure in Iraq.

If anything, the War on Drugs has probably done more to alienate U.S. citizens from its government than any life-destroying drug addiction. Why should anyone feel solidarity with a federal government that can't even face the basic idiocy of its drug policies?

And, no, I'm not a druggie - closet or otherwise - nor have I ever been. Personally, I think that drugs destroy lives and aren't worth the initial high. I even have to be goaded into taking aspirin for a headache. This stance did not come to me because of the fear of Nancy Reagan or because being told doing so would support the terrorists (unlike gasoline); it came through honest education and candid dialogue.

I remember a PSA in the late 1980s that was (bizarrely enough) narrated by George H.W. Bush. The spot was aerial footage of hundreds of kids saying the same thing over and over: "Just Say No! Just Say No! Just Say No!" For the longest time I thought they were chanting "Go Saints Go," which made me excited for football season, but didn't get me thinking about drugs all that much.

Cementing my decision never to do drugs came the first time I ever recall seeing a "Just Say No" commercial. In it, a guy asks a younger kid if he wants some drugs. The kid shrugs and says...well, you know. But the commercial would have flown right past me if my dad hadn't said:

"Does anyone ever ask you that?"
"No."
"Good. And don't give in if they do."
"OK."

And that was all I ever needed to hear.

If we as a nation put as much energy into honest education and sharpening the intuition of kids as we do into building more prisons, we wouldn't even need a war on drugs. Because common sense is a hell of a shield.

Then again, common sense is usually the biggest enemy against war.

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