Saturday, October 22, 2011

Will the Madness Continue?

The particular madness I have in mind is the horribly failed so-called “War on Drugs.” Vicente Fox, past President of Mexico, has now made a plea for the United States to legalize drugs and thus put an end to the ongoing criminal madness in Mexico. He argues, as quite a few of us have argued for years, that drug usage and abuse is a medical problem, not a political problem, and making drugs illegal is no different than prohibition, the previous failed attempt to make alcohol illegal. I believe he is quite right about this, and while making drugs legal might not completely solve the problem it would certainly go a long way to help.

There is little doubt that our multi-billion dollar war on drugs has been and continues to be a dismal failure. Illegal drugs are no harder to get now than they ever were. I suspect they may even be much easier to get. Going after non-violent drug offenders has done little except to fill up our prisons with individuals that really should not be there. At the moment it appears that for the first time 50% of the American public thinks that marijuana (in particular) should be legalized. There is little doubt that eventually this will happen, perhaps sooner than we think. Legalizing just marijuana would make an incredible difference with respect to the war on drugs and it might eventually lead the way to the legalization of all drugs, something that should have been done long ago.

President Obama has now ended the “war” in Iraq and also vowed that Afghanistan will be next. Ending the “war” on drugs is every bit as important and should be done forthwith, but it is not likely to happen as it is too embedded in our national madness and will, of course, be resisted by many who benefit from its continuation. This is only one element in our national madness, it is joined by our ridiculous and useless embargo on Cuba, our uncritical support of Israel, our infernal meddling in the Middle East, and our current inability to govern ourselves.

Speaking of madness, how about the ongoing Republican contest for a Presidential candidate? The current frontrunner is so ignorant of Foreign Affairs, end even ordinary politics, one has to wonder if the Koch brothers haven’t entered him into the race just for comic relief. The other frontrunner has almost made a career of running for President, having previously been rejected and basically told repeatedly that virtually no one likes him, one of those who is unwilling and unable to take “no” for an answer. Still another wants us to return to the 18th century, one other is so frightened of homosexuality he equates it with beastiality. Of the remaining three, two are Evangelicals every bit as ignorant as the frontrunner, and the last one is a loudmouth hypocrite who believes he’s an intellectual and is only in it for the money and exposure. When these seven take the stage the only thing missing is the circus music. However this turns out it is unlikely to be destined for success.

While I believe our national madness is in general more important for the long run, the Republicans seem to be lost in a madness of their own. They are opposed to jobs for firemen, police, and teachers, opposed to Social Security and Medicare, opposed to unemployment insurance, abortion, Gay marriage, Planned Parenthood, legal drugs, and just about everything else the American public is for or that would improve their lives. This seems to me political suicide. It makes sense only if you understand their goal is to get rid of President Obama no matter what the cost. The cost to date has been considerable but is going to get worse as long as they continue to refuse any form of cooperation. I cannot imagine who in the United States is going to vote for them other than perhaps the 1% they so stubbornly defend. But as we are all caught up in what could become a not-so-gentle madness these days anything might happen.

A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.

H. L. Mencken

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