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Number of posts: 78
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By John Hickman:
Why did Richard M. Nixon launch the War on Drugs? Despite the immense domestic and international costs from that policy decision, like so much else that issued from our most disastrous presidency, there is no scholarly or popular consensus about his motives. What we know for certain is that drug prohibition had been national public policy in the United States for decades before events during his administration signaled an escalation in such efforts: passage by the U.S. Congress of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act in October 1970, Nixon’s description of drug abuse as “public enemy number one in the United States during a June 1971 press conference, universal urinalysis drug screening for returning U.S. Vietnam War veterans under Operation Golden Flow that same month, creation of the Office of the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE) in December 1971, and finally, Nixon’s request that the U.S. Congress establish the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in a July 1973 speech…
There is more than a simple public relations lesson to be learned about the risk of thinking out loud in the recent experience of Kansas State Representative Virgil Peck. During a March 14th meeting of the State House Appropriations Committee on a proposal to deal with the problem of feral pigs by shooting them from helicopters, the 11th District Republican suggested that, “if shooting these immigrating hogs works maybe we have a (solution) to our illegal immigration problem.” Conservative lawmakers would be wise to express their murderous impulses away from microphones. Aerial summary execution of the undocumented as a state immigration policy is shocking enough, but what Peck later said in response to criticism was even more chilling. “I was just speaking as a southeast Kansas person,” he said.
The first time you view the 35-minute long ‘Muslim Pirates and Ayatollahs’ speech by U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert on March 3rd it is easy to suspect that it is a spoof. If he were still with us, performance artist Andy Kaufman couldn’t have delivered a better send-up of the stereotypic cornpone Texas politician obviously out of his depth as he rattles on about complex foreign policy issues. Amusement eventually fades to dismay, however, with the realization that Gohmert’s act is no act. After all, C-SPAN regularly broadcasts rank nonsense but never spoofs.
Having recovered from the shock that this is actually a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives speaking and that these are actually his thoughts about foreign policy, the second thing you notice is the puzzling nature of his speech. The First District Republican sometimes returns to a narrative about U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East after an excursus on a high school history lesson or a trip down memory lane but at other times he simply abandons the digression to its own fate to strike off down another path.
That Georgia House Bill 401 is not really about preventing Barack Obama’s name from appearing on the 2012 presidential ballot in Georgia is patent. Less obvious is what it is intended to accomplish. Rather than an exercise in irrational partisanship, a collective temper tantrum on the part of conservatives convinced they are entitled to have one of their own in the White House, as is supposed in much of the commentary on the ‘Birther Bill,’ there is method to the madness of Georgia Republicans.
Granted, among the 89 Republicans in the Georgia House of Representatives who chose to affix and leave affixed their names on HB 401 as co-sponsors may be individuals willing to insist upon choosing the Democratic nominee who will lose the state in the general election.
Failed witch hunts reveal political ambition at its most repugnant and most ridiculous. Consider the unhappy situation in which Virginia State Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II now finds himself. Like every other politician on the make, his career has been a search for issues to capture public attention and garner campaign contributions. When he launched his crusade against climatologist Michael E. Mann, the Virginia Republican probably thought he’d caught the scent of an issue that would elevate him above the herd of conservatives who also staunchly oppose universal health care, abortion, same sex marriage, gun control and undocumented workers. Unfortunately that recognition has come at a rather steep price: the unmistakable, unshakable odor of the aggressive crackpot.
Back to back news reports about the War on Drugs on the December 1, 2010 broadcast of the PBS NewsHour, widely considered to be the best nightly television news in America, provide examples of the hollowness of drug policy news coverage. The first story by reporter Tom Bearden is a vehicle for the local official sources in Colorado Springs to describe their War on Drugs while the second story was an interview by reporter Margaret Warner with Wall Street Journal correspondent Nicholas Casey. Both reports on the economics of the drug trade carefully elude the fundamental reason that it is so extraordinarily profitable.
Decrying high taxes, high unemployment and high deficits is in every legislator’s job description. So there is nothing wrong with Jim DeMint bemoaning each of those economic problems. What is wrong is for the junior Senator from South Carolina and Tea Party Grandee to assert that all three can be reduced simultaneously. Wrong because he knows that it cannot be done and wrong because he is disingenuous about which problem is his real priority.
Here is the economic policy dilemma. Dealing with one of these three problems nearly always has implications for the other two.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is rarely subtle but there was an important subtext to his recent comments about the Mosque scheduled for construction in lower Manhattan on Fox & Friends. Gingrich said the following: “You know, Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor. There’s no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center.” The false parallel hidden in plain sight is between ‘Nazi’ and ‘Japanese.’ Gingrich was a history professor so he knows that how the enemy is identified is crucial in determining how countries fight their wars. Where ‘Nazi’ identifies a political ideology and movement rather than all Germans as the enemy during the Second World War in Europe, ‘Japanese’ identifies an entire people as the enemy during the Second World War in Asia. That is consistent with the how the United States waged that war. German industry rather than the German population was the primary target for the American aerial bombardment of Germany. The Japanese population, however, was the primary target for the American aerial bombardment of Japan. Very few German Americans were interned in United States during the Second World War while most Japanese Americans in the continental United States were interned.