"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 13 July 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
EZ-Bake Oven


[money to the industry:]

Barry McCaffrey, an old Cold

Warrior, has gone on to a new

battlefield. And he's getting



Speaking before a Senate

committee last month without

benefit of a pair of steel balls

to roll in his hand, the retired

Army general said one of those

out-there things that would get

most of us taken in for

observation. Shortly after

discussing the threat caused to

America's youth by the movie

Half-Baked (a wonderful detail

that doesn't seem to have made

it into any of the news accounts

of McCaffrey's testimony), the

Clinton administration's

so-called drug czar got down

to fighting the real enemy. See

how many errors in reasoning you

can spot:

There is an
well-heeled, elitist group
whose ultimate goal is to
legalize drug use in the
United States. However,
because the impacts of
legalization - heroin being
sold at the corner store to
children with false
identifications, the driver of
an eighteen-wheeler high on
methamphetamines traveling
alongside the family minivan,
skyrocketing numbers of
addicts draining society of
its productivity - are so
horrifying to the average
American, the legalizers are
compelled to conceal their
real objectives behind various
subterfuges. (Currently, 87
percent of Americans reject
legalization on its face.)
Through a slick misinformation
propaganda campaign these
individuals perpetuate a fraud
on the American people -- a
fraud so devious that even
some of the nation's most
respected newspapers and
sophisticated media are
capable of echoing their


Pretty goddamned entertaining,

huh? We like to picture him

clenching his jaw and making a

squinty-eye at the panel while

he speaks, maybe with a stub of

slobbery cigar between his

teeth. "We got dopers in our

wire, gentlemen!"


McCaffrey was coy, but The New

York Times filled in the blanks

the next day. "While McCaffrey

named no names," wrote Times

reporter Christopher Wren, "he

was clearly referring to a

coalition of advocacy groups

little-known to the public that

argues the global war on drugs

has cost society more than drug

abuse itself. Some of those

advocates attracted attention

last week with an open letter to

the UN secretary-general as the

General Assembly opened a

three-day special session on



[quasi - repetition]

This would be the cabal of

secret legalizers. There's no reference

to "legalization" in their

letter, but remember that

they're a sneaky sack of

bastards. And just who are they?

Well, George Schultz signed the

letter. You may remember George

from the notoriously subversive,

pro-drug Reagan administration,

for which he served as secretary of

state. Then there were Alan

Cranston and Claiborne Pell,

former colleagues of the very

senators McCaffrey was

addressing. George Soros, who is

rich and gives money to

influence political discussion,

like Richard Mellon Scaife, is

scary and bad. And so is Javier

Perez de Cuellar, a former

secretary-general of the United

Nations and a known foreigner.

Plus 495 others.


In fact, the suggestion floated

by Schultz and company is simply

that the longstanding

hit-with-stick throw-in-cage

approach to drug use isn't

working, while the consequences

of both US drug use and the

effort to suppress it are making

life in other countries -

Colombia, to name one example

among many - kind of unpleasant.

They go on to wonder if, without

making drugs legal, it might be

possible to simply moderate the

law-and-order approach.

Alternatives go by the names

"medicalization" - long favored

by lunatic outsiders like

Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke -

and harm reduction. (Different

advocates define the term

medicalization differently. To

some, it means offering a

limited menu of drugs -

marijuana, really - for the

treatment of pain and

chemotherapy-induced nausea,

with a doctor's prescription. To

others - Schmoke among them - it

means viewing addiction as a

treatable illness, rather than

as a crime, within limits.)


And, yes, quite a few groups

involved in that coalition favor

the legalization of marijuana.

Horror of horrors. It leads

straight to children buying

heroin at the corner store.



McCaffrey needn't worry, since

there's precisely no danger at

all that the dope-loving

anarchists are going to be heard

over all the screaming. The

current US government budget

allocates more money than ever

to federal anti-drug efforts. If

the Clinton administration's

plan to hire 1,000 new

border-patrol agents - plus 100

new DEA agents, which should fix

this drug thing PDQ - seemed

like a bit much. Note that some

of the people in a position to

do something about it thought it

wasn't enough. House Speaker

Newt Gingrich, who has called

for the death penalty for people

repeatedly caught smuggling

drugs over the border, called

the US$17 billion

Clinton-McCaffrey anti-drug

plan, "a hodgepodge of

half-steps and half-truths."

Which is half a truth too much

for the ol' Newtster.


[pernice brothers - clear spot]

So, why bother to squawk like a

squashed rooster over some

letter that offers precisely no

threat at all? Well, because

you're the nation's leading

anti-drug official, and it's

hard to make sense when you've

been assigned the task of

selling a dubious product. The

tendency is to overstate things

in fairly predictable ways. Like

the announcement of a plan "that

will subject all suspicious

cargo and vehicles to

non-intrusive inspections" in an

effort to make the US-Mexico

border "open to trade, but

impermeable to drugs." You try

to say any of this with a

straight face. If you can pull

it off, there may be a job in

law enforcement with your name

on it.


One nicely entertaining example

of the profound silliness that

arises out of trying to fight an

obviously unwinnable war as

though it meant something is the

press release sent out back in November by

McCaffrey's agency, the White

House Office of Drug Control

Policy: "A new

study released by Barry R.

McCaffrey, Director of the White

House Office of National Drug

Control Policy, found that in

1995, Americans spent $57.3

billion on illegal drugs." The

release went on to quote

McCaffrey as pointing out that

$57.3 billion could have paid

for such


niceties as "22 billion gallons

of milk to feed undernourished

infants ... or a year's worth of

child care for 14 million kids."

Children born to drug addicts

unquestionably suffer horrifying

deprivation, but to toss that

monthly $20 marijuana purchase

(yes, we do know your personal

habits - we're Suck) into the

starving baby bin is a bit of a

stretch, huh?


But it gets better. Inspired to

act by the barrage of bullshit,

we called the Macebearer office and

got a copy of the complete

109-page report described in the

press release. And, yes, we did

have to ask several times. The

Associated Press story on the

report played it straight, but

we were wondering how on earth a

government agency could possibly

know how much money its

constituents spend breaking the

law. The answer is: They can't.


[sportsguitar - dinner]

Page 5: "First, the secretive

nature of drug-crop production

and manufacturing prevents

accurate assessments of drug

production. Second, with some

exceptions, drug dealers and

their customers transact

business away from public view.

Finally, drug users often

misrepresent their drug use when

interviewed. Thus estimates of

retail expenditures must be

based on incomplete, inaccurate,

and often inconsistent data, as

well as assumptions that

occasionally lack strong

justification." No kidding, no

kidding, no kidding, and no

kidding. But it's good to hear

it straight from the mouth of

the milk-'n'-babies source.

Especially since the press

release didn't make any mention

of all those maybes.


Similarly amusing language

appears throughout the report,

by the way. On page 31, an

estimate of cocaine shipped into

the United States puts that

figure at "372 to 458 metric

tons" in 1994 and "421 to 513

metric tons" the following year.

This much - plus or minus a

hundred metric tons. Close

enough for government work,



And plenty good enough for the

war on drugs, where sober

thinking pretty clearly misses

the point.

courtesy of Ambrose Beers