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writing for godot

The Serialization (7) of The 15% Solution: Chap. 3: The Real Drug War; Part 2

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Written by Steven Jonas   
Wednesday, 07 June 2017 11:34

A note from the actual author (that is myself, Steven Jonas, MD, MPH).  Please note that this chapter was actually written in 1994-95.  The similarities between the politics of the Republicans and of the Democrats then and in recent times are NOT purely coincidental.  Nor is the fact that this speech could easily be the one that the new Attorney General, Jefferson Davis P.G.T. Beauregard Sessions, uses to introduce his re-institution of the “Drug War” which has been such an expensive, totally unnecessarily punitive, and highly costly failure (to deal with the drug problem, that is) in the 50-plus years since Richard Nixon started it (Jonas, 2016).  It happens that in a post-prison moment of self-confession, one of Nixon’s two top aides, John Erlichman, had this to say about their real reasons for starting the whole enterprise:

“Look, we understood we couldn't make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalize their common pleasure. We understood that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be, but it was such a perfect issue...that we couldn't resist it. . . . [Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. . . . The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to."

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A Note from the “Author” of the balance of the text (that is “Jonathan Westminster”). The story of fascism in the old United States in my view begins with the accession to the Presidency of Carnathon Pine, The Last Re­pub­li­can, in the year 2001. And thus, the drama as we will see it in some detail begins in earnest in this chap­ter, constructed around that personage's Inau­gu­ral Address.  (Note from the actual author.  The Westminster Intro. to Pine’s Inaugural was presented in the previous installment.  This one is devoted to Pine’s Address in its entirety.)

The Inaugural Address of President Carnathon Pine, Jan. 20, 2001

Mr. Chief Justice, Madam Speaker, friends, my fellow Ameri­cans. It is both a privilege and a burden for me to ap­pear before you in my new role today. A privilege because no one can aspire to a higher office than the Presidency of our great, God‑blessed, land. A burden, because after all of my years in the Senate, many of them spent criti­cizing Presidents for do­ing this and not doing that, I now have to try to do what I said all along they ought to be doing but weren't.

But in all seriousness, it is a burden because I take over this awe­some responsibility at a time when our moral stock as a na­tion has sunk so low that it is hard to imagine it sinking any low­er. The prob­lems of the econo­my, over‑stated by some, are real. The problems in health care, in educa­tion, in getting the poor to bear some responsibil­i­ty for their own situation, in deal­ing with our still‑ballooning Federal deficit are real too. But under­lying all of these is the fact that as a nation we have turned away from God. We have turned our back on Him.

Of course, I subscribe to our Constitutionally mandated protections of reli­gious freedom. All of our cherished freedoms are built on provi­sions of the Constitution such as those protections. But does that mean that there is an impenetrable wall of separation between church and state? Does that mean that we must shun God in any public place or ceremony? Does that mean that we must exclude religion from the public square? I don't be­lieve for a moment that it does. And I pledge that this Adminis­tration will do ev­ery­thing in its power to re­store God to His right­ful place in our pub­lic life, within Constitution­al limits, of course.

And as we restore God to His rightful place in our public life, we must restore Him to His rightful place in our private lives as well. For only by doing so can we recover from the depths of moral degen­eracy into which we have plunged by turning our backs on Him.

Everywhere we turn we see evidence of this, from the glori­fi­ca­tion by our liberal‑dominated media of the sexual act to the pro­motion of homo­sexuali­ty as a preferred way of life. Some say that the series of natural disasters that has plagued our great land since Hurricane An­drew of 1992 is God's way of telling us that we must reform before it is too late.

But perhaps there is no symbol of our moral decay more prom­i­nent than the use of drugs. So powerfully do I feel this to be true, that it is to the use of illegal drugs and what the Pine Ad­ministration will do about it to which I will devote the rest of my address to you today.

Although these poisonous drugs, chief among them marijua­na, hero­in, and cocaine, have been illegal for many years, some of our people persist in their use. Thus, these people fall into what some would call a double sin: the sin of use and the sin of violat­ing the law. As our great and re­vered first Drug Czar, Dr. Wil­liam Bennett, said way back in 1989 (Weinraub): "We identify the chief and seminal wrong here as drug use. Drug use, we say, is simply morally wrong."

President George Bush saw the problem with simple clarity (Pear): "Peo­ple think the problem in our world is crack, or sui­cide, or babies having babies. Those are symptoms. The dis­ease is moral empti­ness."

But in this case the immoral act of taking is compounded by the fact that that taking is a crime. And so, the taking of illegal drugs, to say noth­ing of their importation, distribution, and sale, must all be treated as all crime should be. As once again Dr. Bennett said, oh so long ago (Mass­ing): "Those who use, sell, and traffic in drugs must be confronted, and must suffer conse­quences. . . . We must build more prisons. There must be more jails."

So, as our nation descends into the slime of moral turpitude, it be­comes apparent that symbolic of that descent is the double sin of drug‑taking. To destroy the sin and redeem ourselves from it calls for nothing short of War.

Now we have had drug wars in the past. In fact, President Bush and the revered Dr. Bennett did their best to launch a tru­ly effec­tive one. But as we have seen so many times, they were thwarted in their efforts by the liberal do‑gooders and do‑nothings. Well, I am an­nouncing today, as the first priority of this Administra­tion, The Real War on Drugs. We are go­ing to do it, and this time we are going to do it right.

During the election campaign we promised you a Federal bud­get, in bal­ance, now, that will also deliver an across‑ the‑board 10% tax cut. That was our number one prom­ise. But as our first or­der of business, even before we submit that budget, we are going to send to the Con­gress our program for The Real War on Drugs. Once and for all, we are going to solve this problem. We are going to win this war. We are going to begin the long and ardu­ous process of rescuing our nation from sin, and we are going to begin it right now.

The Real War on Drugs has three distinct arms.

1. Interdiction. The lily‑livered ones of the last eight years sus­pended this operation telling us that it could never be done right. Well, it simply never was done right. We are going to do what­ever it takes to stop the growing of drugs in whichever coun­tries persist in growing them to poison our young people.

First, if it proves necessary, we will not hesitate to use our own mili­tary forces to destroy those drugs at their source. Sec­ond, as proposed not too long ago by the Great One, Newt Gingrich, we are going to enact the death penalty for drug smug­glers. As Mr. Newt once said (NYT): "The first time we exe­cute 27 or 30 or 35 people at one time, and they go around Co­lombia and France and Thailand and Mexico and they say, 'Hi, would you like to carry some drugs into the U.S.?' the price of carrying drugs will have gone up dramatically."

Furthermore, as proposed by the same fount of wisdom, we are going to modify the provisions these vermin will find wait­ing for them when they enter our criminal justice system: "They'd have once chance to ap­peal. They wouldn't have 10 years of playing games with the system."

2. Street‑supply reduction. The lily‑livered ones of the last eight years de‑emphasized the arrest and incarceration of the snakes and gutter‑rats who sell and use drugs on the street. They told us that the effort was futile, that when one was sent to jail, another would always appear. They told us too that the filling of our jails and prisons with non‑violent drug‑offenders just didn't make sense, especially since it cost so much to build the prison beds we needed, and overcrowding kept vio­lent, non‑drug, crimi­nals on the street.

Well the other side was right—and it was wrong, unfortu­nate­ly dead wrong. Mandatory sentencing for even non‑violent drug offenders is nec­essary if the message on drug use is to be clear. At the same time, that practice does take up space in prisons which should be reserved for those violent wretches who prey so mercilessly upon on our citizenry.

And so, on abandoned military bases which are crying out for use, we are finally going to establish the chain of drug of­fender camps that Dr. Bennett and many other right‑thinking people have been calling for, for so long. These camps are for punish­ment, yes, and well‑deserved punishment for the crime of drugs too. But in the new spirit of redemption which is sweeping across our land, moral rehabilitation of these lost souls will be high on the agenda of the camps' educational pro­gram. In fact, the camps will be called "Moral Rehabilitation Centers."

3. Finally, we are going to formalize in legislation the "drug ex­cep­tion" to our valued and traditional American protection of civil liberties, that “drug exception" which the Supreme Court, even when it was of that now‑discredited liberal persuasion, has been developing so assiduously in case law over so many years.

I should note that, determined to make our great country once again safe for right‑thinking Americans, our predecessors in the 104th Congress attempted to significantly weaken the so‑called "exclusionary rule" that had let so many criminals go scot‑free.[1] Like them, we cannot and will not allow slavish devotion to the discredited liberal interpretation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution to interfere with our efforts to once again make our streets safe for the true Americans among us.

Thus, once and for all we are going to put the "drug excep­tion" to the Fourth Amendment into the law. And if those lib­eral op­ponents of every­thing that is right and good about God's Amer­ica somehow succeed in getting that just law overturned in the courts, we will amend the Constitu­tion as necessary. [2]

4. Now, we have every confidence that these measures, none of them extreme, all of them measured to the need, will work. But if by some chance they do not, we will go further. I want ev­eryone within the bor­ders of our great country and beyond who is any way connected with trafficking in or using the poi­sonous drugs of which we speak to be very clear about what I am about to say.

If the need arises, we will give very serious consideration to im­ple­menting a proposal that our esteemed colleague, Paul Weyrich, made back in 1990 when he spoke to Washington's University Club on this subject (Stan). At that time, he "ad­vised Congress to declare an official war on drugs, so that drug users and dealers, once apprehended, could be denied their right of habeas corpus and held as prisoners of war, allowing for their inde­ter­mi­nate incarceration under the provisions of the Geneva Con­ven­tion."

My friends, I am making The Real Drug War my first order of busi­ness, even as we begin the mammoth job of reordering the disor­der that has been dumped on our country during the last eight years. I will be making the Real Drug War my first order of business with the Congress because this drug problem is indeed the most serious one our country faces today.

We can solve it, we must solve it, and we will solve it, with God's help and with His blessing. And God's blessing we shall receive be­cause He will know that in fighting the mortal sin of drug use we are doing the Lord's work. We can only hope that the Lord will see this effort as the first step we are taking on the long road to national re­demption.

Good night, and may the God of Christ Bless you.

Author's Note

It may interest the reader to know that as far as "Drug War" strate­gy was concerned, there was not a single original thought in the Pine speech. (As we will see, this was a phenomenon that char­acterized both the think­ing and the speeches of most of the fascist leadership throughout the Period.) All of his program components could be found in all or in part in the work of such leading Right‑Wing Reactionaries and "Drug Warriors" as the ones to which he referred, Newton Gingrich and William Bennett, and less well‑known ones such as Peter Bensinger, Robert Bonner, Herbert Kleber, David Musto, Wil­liam Olson, and John Walters (Schumer).

The Supreme Court's "drug exception" men­tioned by Pine is dis­cussed by Alex Poughton in his letter reproduced below. Also as men­tioned by Pine, in 1995 the House of Representatives had passed a bill which would have signifi­cantly under­cut the provisions of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution by allowing warrantless searches in certain circumstances (Seelye). Due to vari­ous legislative and judicial developments over the years, the measure had never been fully imple­mented. Of course, as noted the controversy was ultimately brought to closure by repeal of the Fourth Amendment in its entirety in 2006.

Following is the first of the series of letters by the English journal­ist Alex Poughton that appear throughout this book. You may recall from the Preface that for the London Sunday Times, throughout the Fascist Period Poughton reported on it under the heading "American Democra­cy." Con­sistent with the politics of the paper's owner, Poughton's pub­lished pieces tended to be puffier than penetrating presentation and analysis. His private views however, contained in letters to a mysteri­ous "Karl" and preserved in his li­brary, were some­thing else again. And so we turn to the first of those re‑produced in this book, written shortly after the Pine Inau­gural. For a jour­nalist, Poughton reveals a fairly sophisticated under­standing of the drug issue, among others.

An Alex Poughton letter

February 13, 2001

Dear Karl,

First let me note the quite remarkable fact that in his In­augu­ral Pine ad­dressed in no way, even from the Right‑Wing Reac­tionary perspec­tive he personifies, the real problems facing the country: the declining standard of living for most Americans; the increas­ing economic and personal insecuri­ty, both present and future, and the declining stan­dard of health care and educa­tion for most Americans; deindustrialization and the gradual crum­bling of the public infrastruc­ture; the ever‑growing cancer of racism; the ever‑growing intolerance for "difference." But then again, how could he, really? It is the poli­cies of his party that ei­ther cause, abet, or exploit to the full for its own political purposes, all of them.

Turning to the side, thoroughly distractive, subject Pine did ad­dress, I know that you know my private fears about Pine's "Real War on Drugs," and I think, I hope, that you share many, if not most of them. I also know that you know that given complete Republican control of the three branch­es of the American Federal government (capped off by a "filibuster‑proof" majority in the US Senate) there is little hope of stopping the Right‑Wing onslaught, on drugs and every­thing else.

As you know only too well, I cannot write about any of my true views and feelings on these matters in my column and hope to keep my job. Thus, as we have discussed, I have de­cided to commit some of my true thoughts to paper from time to time, in private to you, to have them on the written, if un­published, re­cord, at least.

It is strange but I suppose highly appropriate that Pine should choose to start off what is bound to be the most Right‑Wing Pres­iden­cy ever in the US with a renewed "War on Drugs." Of course, his "War" will be no more successful in reducing the use of those drugs against which it is aimed, marijuana, her­o­in, and cocaine, than the Bush‑Bennett, Reagan, Rockefeller, or Nixon versions were over the previous 30 years. And of course, like its predecessors, it fails to address those two "legal" drugs, tobacco and alcohol, which not only cause the vast ma­jority of drug‑use‑related illness and death in the U.S., but al­so, through their use by kids, lead to almost all use of the "illegals" in the first place.

(But heaven help the Right‑Wing Reactionaries if they were ever to go after the real drug demons in the United States, the tobacco and alcohol industries. The Republicans actually go out of their way to protect those devils incarnate. They have to. They get too much in the way of cam­paign contributions and oth­er goodies not to.)

But, again like its predecessors, the "Real Drug War" is in any case not designed to deal with the real drug problem. Like that of its pre­deces­sors, its primary purpose will be to reinforce politi­cal racism by framing the "drug problem" as a black one, when in reality 75% of illegal drug use is among non‑blacks. And it will be useful for contin­uing to maintain a high level of drug‑trade, not drug‑use‑related, vio­lence in the black com­mu­ni­ties. Among other things at this time, this violence will sap the strength from a black community which might otherwise be pre­pared to offer real resistance to the on‑coming fascist regime which as you know I see getting ever‑closer.

It amazes me, although I suppose it shouldn't, that Pine is turn­ing back to programs that failed and failed badly the last time around: "mas­sive inter­diction" and "supply‑side strate­gies." Of course, it is the new ones he has added that have me the most worried. First, the wild Gingrichian proposal for deal­ing "drug smug­glers." Then, the open sus­pension of civil liber­ties for drug deal­ers/users on the "drug exception" devel­oped over the years by the Supreme Court. Remem­ber that fine pa­per by our mutual friend Steve Wisotsky (1992)? Steve pointed out that over the years Supreme Court justices from left (Wil­liam O. Douglas) to right (Antonin Scalia) have been pre­pared to abrogate the Fourth Amend­ment when it came to drugs. Well, this now has become national policy. Mark my word, as they say, it ain't going to end here.

Then, the building of that string of camps advocated so many times over the years by so many "Drug Warriors." Now, add­ed to all of this is the new emphasis on (forced) "moral rehabil­i­ta­tion" under which the Right will finally get its chain of camps, on those aban­doned Army bases, just like Phil Gramm proposed back in the '96 campaign (Berke).

Among other things this program will revive local employ­ment which had been eliminated by the "liberal campaign against the military," and further build support for the "Real War on Drugs." In this way, it will be very similar to the role played by prison construction in rural and semi‑rural areas in the 1980s and 1990s, creating that which what is left of the oppo­sition now calls the "prison‑industrial complex" (Davis). Of course, you know what I think those camps (and all that wonderful local employment) are really going to be ultimately used for. [3]

I know, I know, I'm nothing but an alarmist. As so many say, "the ge­nius of America is that somehow it always rights itself at the last mo­ment." Well, my friend, not this time, I'm afraid.

By the way, where are those so‑called "libertarians" of the Cato Insti­tute now that we need them? I'll tell you where. As in 1995, after the Repub­licans first took control of Congress, so caught up are they in the "free‑market capital­ism/antigovernment/anti‑government regulation (of business)" act that Pine is going through, that just as the Milton Friedmans have always done, they are willing to overlook "a few limitations on civil lib­erties" in exchange for the enshrinement of the myth of the "free mar­ket."

"Few limitations," my foot. Civil liberties in the US are go­ing, go­ing, soon‑to‑be‑gone, my friend, the soon‑to‑be‑gone American Civil Lib­erties Union to the contrary notwithstand­ing. But the "libertarians" will have their "free market," which failed to work when Reagan gave it to them, and their "free­dom from govern­ment red‑tape," which will just lead to ever­more degrada­tion of the environment, more white collar crime, more bankrupt­cy, and so on and so forth. But once again, as is my wont as you know, I digress.

Thanks for bearing with me. I hope, hope, hope, that I'm wrong about where this country is headed, but sadly I don't think I am.

All the best, Sincerely, Alex

References:

Berke, R.L., "Amid Placards and Texas Pomp, Gramm Makes it Offi­cial," New York Times, Feb. 25, 1995.

Bond, R.N., The Republican Platform, 1992, Washington, DC: Republi­can National Committee, 1992.

Davis, M., "Hell Factories in the Field," The Nation, February 20, 1995, p. 229.

DNC: Democratic National Committee, The DNC Briefing, "Republican Agen­da," Feb. 13, 1995, p. 1.

Edsall, T.B., "Christian Coalition Threatens GOP," Washington Post, Feb. 1, 1995.

Hamill, P., "Send Them to Camp," New York Magazine, Sept. 15, 1993.

Henneberger, M., "You Must Go Home Again," New York Times, Feb­ruary 8, 1995, p. B1.

Jonas, S., "The Drug War: Myth, Reality, and Politics," Connecticut Law Review, 27, No. 2, 1995, pp. 623 ‑ 637.

Jonas, S., Ending the “Drug War;” Solving the Drug Problem: The Public Health Approach.  Brewster, NY: Punto Press, 2016.

Judis, J.B., "Camp Bob," The New Republic, December 11, 1995, p. 15.

Massing, M., "The Two William Bennetts," The New York Review of Books, March 1, 1990, p. 29.

Mauer, M. and Huling, T., Young Black Americans and the Criminal Justice System, Washington, DC: The Sentencing Project, 1995.

NYT: New York Times, "Gingrich Suggests Tough Drug Measure," Au­gust 27, 1995.

Pear, R., "Bush Pushes for Senator and Against Congress," The New York Times, Sept. 13, 1991.

PFAW: People for the American Way, Analysis of Christian Coalition Contract, Washington, DC: June, 1995.

Porteus, S., "Contract on the American Family," The Freedom Writer, June, 1995, p. 3.

Schumer, C., "The 1993 National Summit on U.S. Drug Policy," Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building, Washington, DC, May 7, 1993.

Seelye, K.Q., "House Approves Easing of Rules on U.S. Searches," New York Times, February 9, 1995, p. A1.

Stan, A.M., "Power Preying," Mother Jones, Nov./Dec., 1995, p. 34.

Weinraub, B., "President Offers Strategy," The New York Times, Sept. 6, 1989, pp. 1, B7.

Wisotsky, S., "A Society of Suspects: The War on Drugs and Civil Liber­ties," Policy Analysis (Cato Institute, Washington, DC), No. 180, Octo­ber 2, 1992.

Right‑Wing Watch, "Quotables," Vol. 3, No. 12, Sept., 1993, p. 2.

Author’s Notes

[1] Actually, in the mid‑90s a defendant's claim of violation of the "exclusionary rule" by police lead to the failure of the prosecution's case in only from 0.6% to 5% of the criminal cases of the time (Seelye).

[2] Author's Note: The whole of the Fourth Amendment protecting all persons in the United States from unwarranted search and seizure was eventually re­pealed, by a provi­sion of the "Balancing Amendment" to the Constitution ratified in 2006 (see Chapter eight).

[3] Author's Note: In the Transition Era, the "camps solution" was proposed by many observers for many problems. And it was not the Right‑Wing reaction­aries alone who climbed on this bandwag­on. President Bill Clinton endorsed the idea of "boot camps" for dealing with youthful offenders of all types. A centrist colum­nist of the time, one Pete Hamill, proposed that to solve the problem of homelessness then plagu­ing the big cities, camps should be set for them in which both conven­tional education and "moral instruction" would be provided (Hamill).

 

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