Casualties of War

[This is a guest post by Iris Vander Pluym]

The War on Drugs is not a war on drugs, at least not as that phrase is commonly understood in the English language. Assess the misery associated with the drug trade, and you would have to be on drugs yourself to believe the War on Drugs is anything other than a total, abject failure. From measures of public health, addiction rates, narco-terrorism, police corruption, gang violence, vast criminal networks spanning the globe to the inhumane prison-industrial complex here at home, the War on Drugs has made the world a far worse place.

Of course the U.S. government has long known that (a) military strategies do not work and may actually boost profits for drug traffickers, and (b) drug treatment is far cheaper and twenty-three times more effective than supply-side approaches. If the War on Drugs is such a spectacular failure in every respect, why would the feds continue to perpetrate it? The answer is that it is not a failure in every respect: the War on Drugs provides an excellent pretext for violent action by the U.S. and its client states in the Western hemisphere. Not in service to democracy, freedom and human rights, mind you—strictly for the benefit of elite U.S. business interests.

Since 1946, the U.S. Army has been training Latin American government and military officials at its School of the Americas (now WHINSEC) in "counterinsurgency," for the purpose of suppressing leftist movements that might interfere with the unimpeded exploitation of natural resources by U.S.-based conglomerates. We helpfully trained these people in various torture techniques, civilian targeting, extrajudicial executions and extortion. We enthusiastically encouraged terrorism, sabotage, arresting people’s relatives and blackmail. We have engineered violent coups and murders to keep in power cooperative governments. We have deposed, assassinated and otherwise interfered with democratically elected officials and other leaders who exhibit the merest hint of socialism.

In recent decades in Colombia alone, the U.S.-trained army and its allied right-wing paramilitary groups have killed thousands upon thousands of union organizers, peasant and indigenous leaders, human rights workers, land reform activists, religious leaders, leftist politicians and their supporters. Some paramilitary leaders have attempted to ‘cleanse’ Colombian society by murdering drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, petty criminals and the homeless. It’s true that some Colombian presidents have attempted to address the social, political and economic issues that the guerrillas claim are their grievances. But the United States government will not have any of that. With assistance from its allies in the Colombian political, economic and military elite, efforts at meaningful reform have all been thwarted. And so those pesky guerrillas—who have no love for the drug trade—will continue to strike back the only way they can: by blowing up oil pipelines. That is why there is a "War on Drugs" in Colombia.

Sound familiar? It should. The War on Terror works exactly the same way in the Middle East. That is, it doesn’t work, at least not for its stated purposes. No one seriously doubts that our policies create far more terrorists than we could ever capture or kill, or that we have long supported and armed some of the most brutal, tyrannical, anti-democratic and oppressive dictators in the region for the benefit of the world-warming, profit-pumping petroleum industry. Take a look at this nifty interactive map of Yemen , and then try to tell me with a straight face that we’re over there drone bombing Muslims to Keep Us Safe… from terrorists, as opposed to, say, protecting a very cooperative Yemeni regime .

The War on Terror has led to profound changes in American society. The populace has meekly accepted the militarization of domestic police forces, the rise of a vast and insidious surveillance state and the erosion of constitutional rights and civil liberties, all in exchange for empty promises of safety. It’s long been clear that none of it works . Meanwhile, on the home front the War on Drugs has subjected generations of citizens to mass incarceration. More than two million people are behind bars in the U.S.: that is 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Prison populations have exploded since the 1980s, with the majority of the increase comprising low-level offenders, particularly drug offenders, and disproportionally black and Latino men who are no more likely to dabble in drugs than their white counterparts . What happened after the 1980s? The previous go-to excuse for invading, bombing and otherwise imposing our imperial will on other countries—the Cold War—had just collapsed, but the War on Drugs had already begun. Eventually, Osama bin Laden did America’s Owners a big favor, and the rest, as they say, is history. What could be a more perfect pretext than a "War on Terror"? Let’s invade Iraq for oil! We’ll just say Saddam’s in league with Al-Qaeda or something! The press?! Pfft. They’ll help us do it, bro.

This is not a Republican-Democrat thing. No matter which party is nominally in power, the U.S. government will use every tactic at its disposal keep the American left marginalized as effectively as the Colombians do. Obama saw to it that the Occupy movement was crushed. FBI, NYPD, State Police and other law enforcement agencies have long been infiltrating and monitoring groups opposed to U.S. economic policy, immigration policy, harmful trade agreements, union-busting and racial profiling. The feds are also interested in keeping tabs on anti-death penalty groups, labor organizers, those who support Palestinians or the Israel divestment campaign,and, unsurprisingly, anti-war groups. After all, how are we all going to be duped into the next War on Whatever if we have a formidable peace movement?

All of this is precisely what one would expect from a system of unbridled, imperialist capitalism constrained by neither law nor conscience. The System is the problem.


On Tuesday afternoon, I attended a rally at Union Square. It was the NYC kickoff for an "Abortion Rights Freedom Ride," a cross country caravan organized by StopPatriarchy.org , with rallies planned along the route including places where some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws have been passed: Fargo, North Dakota; Wichita, Kansas; and Jackson, Mississippi. Take Mississippi , for example: since 2002 only a single clinic providing abortion services has been in operation. The state’s legislators and governors, who clearly have no other problems to attend to , have been very busy attempting to shut down that last remaining clinic by passing disingenuous laws purporting to protect women’s health. (As if anyone, anywhere, believes conservatives are concerned about anyone’s health. OMGLOL .) Not to be outdone, North Dakota —another state with only one remaining clinic—passed a ban on abortions after six weeks, a point at which many women have no idea they’re pregnant.

I had recently written a piece mentioning StopPatriarchy.org and their refreshingly plain language and savvy messaging: "Abortion on Demand Without Apology." "Women are NOT incubators." "Forced motherhood is female enslavement." When their campaign started to gain attention, the liberal hand-wringing came right on cue . There were concerns, you see. This Abortion Rights Freedom Ride will be "too confrontational, too vociferous and may turn off people to the cause." The activists will be viewed locally as "invading outsiders." Mass political protest only "distracts from important court cases." Besides, it’s better to "rely on officials channels of politics."

Really. How’s that been working out? In the past three years , states have passed nearly 180 restrictions on abortion, and 2013 is already on track to record the second-highest number of abortion restrictions in a single year, ever.

And these concerns sounded familiar. Where had I heard this before? Oh, that’s right: from critics concerned about the Occupy movement, who in turn echoed nearly verbatim critics of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement, and critics of the women’s suffrage movement before that. Quiet down, they said. Wait. Work with The System. Please. When has anything short of confrontational, vociferous, mass political protest ever yielded more than lip service or a few table scraps from The System?

America’s Owners do not care one whit about abortion rights, except insofar as the issue drives conservatives to the polls to elect their Republican servants or outrages liberals enough to elect their Democratic servants . Indeed, they have every reason to keep the War on Women raging.

This is why voting is not enough: the game is rigged. As Chris Hedges put it so succinctly , "There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs."Democrats have concern-trolled themselves right into irrelevance. They are The System. The System is the problem. The math is not hard.

I’ll leave you with something promising. There are people who get it. I met some of them at the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride rally.

diazmimsdix

Meet (L-R) Noche Diaz, Jamel Mims, andCarl Dix, members of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network , and defendants in cases brought for nonviolent civil disobedience actions protesting the NYPD’s Stop & Frisk practices. To be honest, when they were first introduced I wondered why three d00ds would be speaking together at an abortion rights rally. It didn’t take long to find out: their explicit message was that if women, who make up half of humanity, are not free, then none of us are free. They spoke powerfully and eloquently about the oppression that they and their communities have faced—and linked it directly to the same source of oppression and exploitation that women, workers and millions of marginalized people face, here and abroad: The System.

The difficult part is predicting what will spark the revolution—and where we will end up after it’s all said and done. To have a shot a desirable outcome, we need more citizens to realize that we, too, are casualties of war.

I’ll see you in the streets.


Iris Vander Pluym is a godless, feminist lefty blogging at perrystreetpalace, a contributing columnist at The Political Junkies for Progressive Democracy, The Feminist Hivemind, Worldwide Hippies/Citizen Journalists Exchange, and an occasional guest poster at Pharyngula, The Greanville Post, and elsewhere. When she is not busy mocking conservatives and other fools, she is an artist and activist living happily in New York City’s West Village.

Comments

  1. madtom1999 says

    Re the drugs trade – its one of the few businesses that actually benefits from being illegal. It’d be worth the drug cartels themselves actually bribing governments to ensure it remains illegal. With the massively profitable side effects of the illegality it too good a revenue stream for too many people to ever imagine it being decriminalised.

  2. Rip Steakface says

    @1

    Yeah, the sheer number of people whose self-interest lies in keeping drugs illegal is incredible. Between moral warriors, the manipulations of the system, and the drug runners themselves liking the setup, it’s amazing that places like WA and CO legalized marijuana at all.

  3. says

    Excellent post, Iris! Thank you. Long days ago, when the feds spent all that money on weapons and gear to outfit cop shops all over, the expense had to be justified somehow. The “war on drugs” has been happily used for justification.

  4. Dick the Damned says

    Iris, your post is, I believe, very insightful. I’ve been vaguely, but increasingly disquieted by rampant capitalism for some time. It’s easy to dismiss some ideas about the control of an oligarchy as just being conspiracy theories, but i think you’ve really nailed it. Thank you.

  5. ck says

    Good post, but you forgot the arms manufacturers, who profit massively by being able to sell their goods to military and paramilitary groups as well as on the black market to the people the military and paramilitary groups are fighting.

  6. says

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

    When speaking of this atrocity, I can never lose the chance to mention another profiteer of the Drug War: drug testing companies. Like you said with the War on Terror getting people to meekly submit to all sorts of outrages, we have been made to meekly accept a highly intimate form of search and seizure as a condition of being allowed to earn a living–and like the Drug War itself, it’s a failure, a form of security theater that was pushed on the American people based entirely on deliberately skewed data, moral panic, and public ignorance. Why do it if it’s so ineffective? Lots of reasons: screening out people you don’t want on your insurance, for example, is a reason a business would like to do it (according to the ACLU, “In 1988, the Washington, D.C. Police Department admitted it used urine samples collected for drug tests to screen female employees for pregnancy – without their knowledge or consent”–if they got caught once, you think no one else is pulling that kind of crap?) , as well as the government payouts. There is also the racism: a lot of people have been conditioned to understand “dealer” and “addict” as code for “black people”, and some ignorant racists might see that as a great way to avoid having to hire black people–and even better, you can use the prevalence of false positives to fire people or avoid hiring people who are black or even people who are outspokenly pro-union or hold any other opinion the corporations don’t want you to have. But there’s also the mental state that submissive urination creates–it subconsciously establishes a master-slave relationship that the right-wing authoritarians in corporate America find very desirable.

    Gotta hit my own crappy job now, but I write a lot more on the subject at my anti-Drug War blog that has a particular focus on drug testing (enddrugtesting.blogspot.com). My first post has a list of informational links I’ve collected over the years on the subject.

  7. poxyhowzes says

    Want another reason why the WoD perpetuates? Look up the numbers for total US prison population, subtract out those few who are incarcerated for crimes that have nothing to do with drugs, then add the remaining number to the number of people in the US who didn’t have a job last week.

    Imagine reporting that number, week after week, — as the US unemployment rate.

    pH

  8. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Thanks for the interesting and informative post, Iris!

  9. unclefrogy says

    The first thing that came to mind was “The Revolution Will not be Televised”
    Then I remembered this old song “trouble coming every day” by the mothers of invention

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOGydWBJ1mE

    my fear is that the forces of repression and control will have the upper hand in the next 20 – 30 years and with the consent and the assistance of the wealthy and powerful interests of today prevent any changes in economic, political or environmental regulations or rules or behavior long enough to facilitate a major collapse of the global civilization . It would not be the first time the reactionary forces in a culture or civilization fucked up and caused their own collapse.

    happy sunday thoughts
    uncle frogy

  10. says

    Hmm. My father would a) love this, and b) then not do a damn thing about it. He drives me nuts some times. His default assumption is that “no one” in the system wants to fix it, which.. well, I bloody well hope not, because if that where the case, we are screwed anyway, since there is no way short of open revolt to get them out of the system, and no way, once you try to rebuild it, to keep more assholes from getting right back in, by pretending they where on our side the whole time. And, that is assuming we don’t get bloody conned from day one, by some stupid shit like the whole “Tea Party” movement, which took what.. less than a week to be taken over by complete wackos, who believed in pretty much the exact opposite of everything it stood for? The only reason Occupy panicked these people was that there wasn’t anything in it that they could latch onto, and pretend to push, that wouldn’t screw them, if they did it, or even pretended they where going to. So, it had to die instead.

    But, the thing that drives me nuts, when I once in a while get into a conversation with my dad over something, is that.. well.. if the US government was Arkham Asylum, the people currently in charge of the Republican party are the ones dressing up as the Joker, Two Face, Poison Ivy, etc., because they, by comparison, relatively sane inmates are no longer in control over there. It might be true that the problem is that we are letting the nuts run things in the first place, but.. there is still a qualitative difference between your cousin, who needs to take meds for their bipolar disorder, and is otherwise not so bad a person, and someone that dresses like a warped version of Robocop, and dreams of using a giant freeze ray, to coat NY in ice. And, right now, its those latter sorts of nuts that are keeping anything remotely progressive, at all, from passing (or, much of anything else, for that matter). Yet, every time I point this out, his attitude is, “Its not just a problem on one side.”

    No fraking s… But, that doesn’t mean one of them isn’t, at the moment, a bigger bloody problem, or, that the answer is only to either a) be prepared to join the revolution, or b) sit on your ass and not even protest against it by any means, even if it is the really minimal attempts I make to sign petitions, and try to convince some of the wingnuts at work, as much as I can without creating a job ending conflict, that their side has seriously bloody stupid ideas right now (when they have any at all).

  11. moarscienceplz says

    I am reading an excellent book on the WoD, which includes discussions of what the science actually says about drug addiction, as opposed to the BS that “everybody knows” and the media hypes. It’s ‘High Price’ by Dr. Carl Hart.

  12. shawnthesheep says

    I’ve spent a great deal of time the last few years in Latin America, and I’ve seen firsthand some of the destruction caused by the US gov’t and US corporations. It’s deplorable. The US has spent decades sponsoring torture, murder and economic slavery in these countries, all in the name of corporate profits. The War on Drugs is no different. It’s nothing but a profit opportunity for US corporations.

  13. says

    In recent decades in Colombia alone, the U.S.-trained army and its allied right-wing paramilitary groups have killed thousands upon thousands of union organizers, peasant and indigenous leaders, human rights workers, land reform activists, religious leaders, leftist politicians and their supporters. Some paramilitary leaders have attempted to ‘cleanse’ Colombian society by murdering drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, petty criminals and the homeless. It’s true that some Colombian presidents have attempted to address the social, political and economic issues that the guerrillas claim are their grievances. But the United States government will not have any of that. With assistance from its allies in the Colombian political, economic and military elite, efforts at meaningful reform have all been thwarted. And so those pesky guerrillas—who have no love for the drug trade—will continue to strike back the only way they can: by blowing up oil pipelines. That is why there is a “War on Drugs” in Colombia.

    The situation in Colombia is actually even more fucked up than this paragraph indicates. At present, there’s basically a four-way war going on, with the right-wing paramilitaries going after the drug lords, the FARC, and any politicians who are to the left of Pinochet, the FARC is going after the drug lords, the right wing paramilitaries, and any politicians to the right of Che Guevara, the drug lords (who have at last count got more money than the actual government due to the fantastically lucrative markets created by the U.S. drug war) going after the FARC, the right-wing paramilitaries, and any politicians they can’t buy, and the actual army has until recently been shooting at anyone they even think might be a member of any of the other three categories, although apparently there has been a significant ratcheting down of violence in the last decade, with many paramilitaries right and left laying down their arms. The drug lords are still a problem, though.

    Kagehi

    His default assumption is that “no one” in the system wants to fix it, which.. well, I bloody well hope not, because if that where the case, we are screwed anyway, since there is no way short of open revolt to get them out of the system, and no way, once you try to rebuild it, to keep more assholes from getting right back in, by pretending they where on our side the whole time.

    Not, strictly speaking, true. Even if no one who is currently in the system actually wants to fix things (a claim I would dispute), there are still means of entry into the system for people who do want to fix things. It can be a long, tedious, and unpleasant process, but in can, in principle, occur. Similarly, although it’s not really feasible to keep the assholes out entirely, systemic reform can reduce the potential scope of their assholery.

    And, that is assuming we don’t get bloody conned from day one, by some stupid shit like the whole “Tea Party” movement, which took what.. less than a week to be taken over by complete wackos, who believed in pretty much the exact opposite of everything it stood for?

    There was never a time when the Tea Party wasn’t astroturf and wingnuts, and they stand for exactly what they’ve stood for from the beginning: Theocracy and fascism.

  14. kevinalexander says

    It would not be the first time the reactionary forces in a culture or civilization fucked up and caused their own collapse.

    I can see a small craft industry in making guillotines.

  15. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    Yup! And you said it so very well, Iris.

    Two of the associative thoughts I had when reading were:

    The war on drugs has also caused environmental issues by denuding the slopes of the Himalayas of hemp, which is a great soil stabilizer (and hardly usable as a drug unless cultivated for that purpose). I often wonder how much of the devastation from seasonal rains can be attributed to this.

    We have been fucking with Latin America for a very, very long time. Before the drug fiascoes, it was plantations and mining. Gotta protect our interests!

  16. says

    The war on drugs has also caused environmental issues by denuding the slopes of the Himalayas of hemp, which is a great soil stabilizer (and hardly usable as a drug unless cultivated for that purpose). I often wonder how much of the devastation from seasonal rains can be attributed to this.

    Not to mention the side effects of spraying massive quantities of pesticides over South and Central American jungles while trying to kill off the coca plantations.

  17. says

    There was never a time when the Tea Party wasn’t astroturf and wingnuts, and they stand for exactly what they’ve stood for from the beginning: Theocracy and fascism.

    Hmm. And, I would dispute that. I watched it develop where I was. The people involved where, at the time, democrats, and republicans, and others, they generally had a sense that the government was spending more than it should, but not clear ideas as to what they really meant by that, and you didn’t find them 100% anti-regulation, or running around promoting the idea that we needed more “god” in the country. Sure, maybe, somewhere in there, was a core, who knew where they wanted it to head, and what they did was take a more general movement, and ideas, and push for it to be all lumped into the same Tea Party ideal. But, its wasn’t immediately clear what that direction was, and, initially, there was a bit of diversity in the idea of what direction it could go in. Then.. we got the “Tea Party Express”, and only the people that where deluding themselves that they still had control over the movement, or that the direction the nuts that just showed up where headed might be a good thing, or mitigated in some manner, failed to realize what was really going on.

    But, I had people, right up until the election, in my town, telling me I was dead wrong about what the kooks in charge intended, and that it wasn’t just right wing wackos, who where “in charge” of the whole circus, by that point. The only ones that now deny this, actually approve of what it has been doing since its cronies landed in office.

  18. says

    …it’s amazing that places like WA and CO legalized marijuana at all.

    I’ve got an idea on this. Is it possible that the reason these places legalized it is because trafficking was so minimal there? The one person I’ve known from CO talked a lot about that which was “homegrown”, which makes me think that maybe that factor was key in the decision.

    Anyone else have any related thoughts?

  19. says

    Awww…thanks youse guise. *blushes* And thanks so much for posting it, PZ.

    I have an update of sorts: my contact at Stop Mass Incarceration Network emailed to tell me that Noche Diaz and Jamel Mims were arrested again yesterday at a protest. : |

    I’ve been thinking for some time about the intersectionality in these various “wars” of oppression (to which we can add wages and labor rights and other things too numerous to mention), and I think in that respect Occupy was onto something. Whenever I visited Zuccotti Park, I saw a pretty wide diversity of people and grievances. That was a strength, and probably what scared America’s Owners more than any single-issue movement would.

  20. says

    F:

    The war on drugs has also caused environmental issues by denuding the slopes of the Himalayas of hemp, which is a great soil stabilizer (and hardly usable as a drug unless cultivated for that purpose).

    Yep, not just there, either. Here in ND, more than one farmer has attempted to grow hemp, which is *legal* (supposedly), only to have the fuckin’ DEA descend and destroy everything. Those asses are long out of control. Hemp would be a great crop here, it’s good for the soil, especially grown in rotation.

  21. CaitieCat says

    Excellent post, iris, and thanks for posting it, PZ. And if I may plug in a way she doesn’t, she’s got a fine blog over there, too.

    I’ve seen people also point out about the WoD that it’s actually “The War on (some) Drugs (used by some people)”, referencing things like the discrepancy in mandatory sentencing for different forms of the same drug (cocaine and crack), which somehow, just accidentally I’m sure, happens to make more criminal the version used in poorer/more PoC-filled places, and keeps the kind used on Wall Street much less prisonworthy.

    I think, too, it’s important to note the very big role in this played by private prison corporations, which have lobbied successfully since the 80s for mandatory minimum sentencing, three-strikes laws, and other business-generating policies that a complicit government has happily given them, riding a “Tough on Crime (by Black People)*” concept into office and paying it back with birthday policies for the big prison-corps.

    * Cf. Wall Street, post-meltdown.

  22. says

    Aaaahhhh — that just sounded so good, I want to just luxuriate in it for a long, long time.

    End the drug war, end female enslavement, both great things to do. I just hope that everybody here sees that they have allies in these fights, allies that many people here (hi PZ!) tend to disparage, recoiling at the mere mention of the faction: libertarians!

    WAIT! DON’T RUN AWAY! Good ideas can come from anyplace, and we shouldn’t be afraid to make the coalitions we can. Radley Balko is all over the rise of militarist police, and has been singing from that hymnal for years. (His book is great!) While Rand Paul is bad on most issues, he is currently the best senator we have on the drug war and drones. I don’t agree with all of their positions, and don’t expect many here to either, but we agree where we can, when we can, to get these policies changed.

    A few other notes:

    1) When marijuana legalization was first proposed to Obama in a press conference, he laughed. He’s not laughing any more — in fact, he is speechless. Literally — he hasn’t responded to Washington and Colorado, after most of a year. Maybe, if we keep pushing, we’ll get the next president to actually think, rather than laugh.

    2) Not all movements have to be monolithic and uni-voiced. Sure, everybody remembers Martin Luther King and the SCLC, but there was also (in increasing order of scariness) CORE, SNCC, the Nation of Islam, and the Black Panthers. It’s a lot easier to go along with SCLC if the Black Panthers are scaring the shit out of everybody. So sure, keep the pro-abortion side mixed. Planned Parenthood is great, but it can’t be the only voice.

  23. says

    Caine: I recall a news story (60 Minutes maybe?) that featured a fundie Christian farmer d00d from the midwest who was all about getting the government off his back for growing hemp. (iirc we import hemp from other countries.)

    INTESECTIONALITY FTW. Medical marijuana advocates, civil liberties activists, right-wing farmers, potheads = MILLIONS OF PEOPLE.

    ‘Swut I’m sayin’.

  24. kevinalexander says

    I don’t get how people keep going on about the supposed failure of the war on drugs. It’s been a spectacular success!!
    If you’re a racist judge with stock in a prison corporation it’s win win win! You get to collect a state salary and dividends and put melanin enhanced people away!
    The war on drugs, like any war, doesn’t cost, it earns hundreds of billions for the people who can con the taxpayers into paying them to protect them from the bogey man.

  25. launcespeed says

    Another industry to consider: The “dirty” money has to be laundered somewhere. The pile amounts to at least $US 1.6 trillion p/a. (Around 2.7% of global GDP in 2009.)

    There’s probably a tidy profit to be made by the institutions that are well placed to disguise the origins of said cash. Probably enough of a profit to provide the required incentive to actively protect that revenue stream.

  26. says

    Kagehi

    Hmm. And, I would dispute that. I watched it develop where I was

    The first Tea Party rally was staged by Young Americans for Liberty, a Ron Paul support group. Ron Paul is a noted theocrat and neo-Confederate, which I feel can reasonably be classified as a subspecies of fascism.

    The people involved where, at the time, democrats, and republicans, and others, they generally had a sense that the government was spending more than it should, but not clear ideas as to what they really meant by that,

    And mysteriously, this suddenly became a huge problem in 2009, rather than when Bush was running up trillions in debt on his unfunded wars and ludicrous tax cuts for his cronies. Hmmm… What changed in 2009? What’s different about the new president? Why might white people suddenly have huge but poorly defined grievances about business as usual? I wonder…. It’s also worth noting that the fascist bloc in the U.S. is actually bipartisan, just heavily weighted Republican.

    and you didn’t find them 100% anti-regulation, or running around promoting the idea that we needed more “god” in the country.

    In fact, you didn’t see them having any coherent greivances at all, just dogwhistles.

    Sure, maybe, somewhere in there, was a core, who knew where they wanted it to head, and what they did was take a more general movement, and ideas, and push for it to be all lumped into the same Tea Party ideal.

    People like Young Americans for Liberty, conservative blogger Keli Carender, Fox News, FreedomWorks, the Drudge Report… you know, the usual rightwing propaganda mills who were the ones pushing the Tea Party from the very beginning.

    But, its wasn’t immediately clear what that direction was, and, initially, there was a bit of diversity in the idea of what direction it could go in.

    Yes, it was, to anyone who was paying the faintest bit of attention, since Tea Party rhetoric was libertarian crypto-fascist bullshit from day one.

    Then.. we got the “Tea Party Express”, and only the people that where deluding themselves that they still had control over the movement, or that the direction the nuts that just showed up where headed might be a good thing, or mitigated in some manner, failed to realize what was really going on.

    I have no sympathy for them; they made their bed, and they can lie in it with the rest of the Teabaggers. They never had a single ‘point’ that hasn’t been a talking point of the far right for decades.

    But, I had people, right up until the election, in my town, telling me I was dead wrong about what the kooks in charge intended, and that it wasn’t just right wing wackos, who where “in charge” of the whole circus, by that point.

    Fuck them, frankly. Enablers are really no better than the criminals they abet.

    spudbeach

    End the drug war, end female enslavement, both great things to do. I just hope that everybody here sees that they have allies in these fights, allies that many people here (hi PZ!) tend to disparage, recoiling at the mere mention of the faction: libertarians!

    I am reluctant to deal with libertarians, because when the rubber hits the road, they vote Republican, chasing the phantom of economic freedoms at the permanent expense of social justice and civil liberties.

    WAIT! DON’T RUN AWAY! Good ideas can come from anyplace, and we shouldn’t be afraid to make the coalitions we can.

    Libertarians haven’t got any good ideas that can’t be found elsewhere without the libertarian bullshit that comes with them.

    Radley Balko is all over the rise of militarist police, and has been singing from that hymnal for years. (His book is great!)

    On that topic, yes, but he likes to play fast and loose with his figures on economic matters.

    While Rand Paul is bad on most issues, he is currently the best senator we have on the drug war and drones.

    The best thing Rand Paul could do for the legalization movement is to shut his damn mouth and get out of politics forever. The last thing we need is to be further associated with that scumbag.

    I don’t agree with all of their positions, and don’t expect many here to either, but we agree where we can, when we can, to get these policies changed.

    In practice, he’s shown himself largely unable to accomplish much of anything at all, preferring pointless showboating, mostly about his wingnut economic and social ideas. He’s certainly welcome to vote for legislation proposed by others that would move towards these goals, but he doesn’t, because that doesn’t feed his ego or advance the rest of his bullshit, which he clearly considers far more important.

  27. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    Damn, Iris… Just… Damn.

    @spudbeach

    While Rand Paul is bad on most issues, he is currently the best senator we have on the drug war and drones.

    So your plan is to vote him in, celebrate when he ends the War on Drugs and the War on Terror, and then sit back with your fingers crossed and just hope he doesn’t fuck everything else up too much before his term is over?

  28. Pteryxx says

    Along with militarization, prison profits, etc, yet another handy (side?) effect of the War on Drugs Disadvantaged – felony disenfranchisement. Nearly 1 in 10 black men cannot vote due to laws removing the right to vote from people convicted of crimes, even after their sentences or probation are over.

    http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/14/black-male-turnout-higher-than-official-data-suggest/?_r=0

    In its tabulations, the Census Bureau counts any American citizen of voting age as an eligible voter. But nearly one in 10 black men are ineligible to vote because of state laws that apply to people with felony convictions.

    The census report listed the turnout rate for black men as 61.4 percent, compared with 70.4 percent for black women. However, once noninstitutionalized felons — people who are not in prison but lost the right to vote as punishment — are removed from the tally of eligible voters, the turnout rate among black men rises to 68 percent, according to Bernard L. Fraga, a political scientist at Harvard, and the rate among black women rises to 71.4 percent.

    http://blessedaaron08.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/felony-disenfranchisement-a-holdover-from-the-jim-crow-era/

    Kemba’s story is just one example of how the legacy of the 1901 Convention lives on. In today’s Virginia, 350,000 people are still disenfranchised by the 1901 law, and many of them are African Americans. Nationwide, 48 states allow some form of felony disenfranchisement, and one out of every 13 voting-age African Americans is affected. In four states — Virginia, Iowa, Kentucky, and Florida — disenfranchisement can be permanent.

    When Virginia introduced felony disenfranchisement in 1901, they also expanded the list of felony crimes. By raising the penalty for a number of minor offenses, they planned to lock African Americans in the prison system — and out of the political system. A century later, our drug laws have the same amplifying effect. African Americans are far more likely to be arrested for minor drug crimes, and therefore more likely to have their vote taken away.

    More at the NAACP and ACLU.

    Expanding domestic terrorism laws and police militarization could result in felony disenfranchisement of activists in general, too. Not pro-lifers or gun lovers, of course… those other activists.

  29. says

    Is it possible that the reason these places legalized it is because trafficking was so minimal there? The one person I’ve known from CO talked a lot about that which was “homegrown”, which makes me think that maybe that factor was key in the decision.

    Anyone else have any related thoughts?

    Or.. MJ isn’t the real problem, and never has been, but since you ship the crap in volumes that are about 500 times greater, to get the same value, as say.. cocaine, it allowed authorities to make huge ass, but completely meaningless, scores, while the more serious products slipped in under their noses. Hmm. Nah…

  30. says

    @thumper: No, we don’t have to vote for him, or give him money. We just have to say “Thank you for not trying to lock everybody up forever. Now, can you extend that to a more logical conclusion? And how about applying your libertarian ideas to race and sex too?”

    We can’t win by insisting that the movement must be pure. We can only win by taking the assistance of those we have _some_ common cause with, and trying to get more. Purity loses, every time.

  31. says

    We can’t win by insisting that the movement must be pure. We can only win by taking the assistance of those we have _some_ common cause with, and trying to get more. Purity loses, every time.

    As long as the “uncommon” causes don’t undermine things just as critical, or, possibly, the very things we imagine we have in common, then sure. But, seriously.. libertarianism, as practiced, tends to swing liberal one moment, then turn crazy the next, as soon as those “universal benefits” they claim to believe in inconvenience them, but taking money, or anything else, out of their own pockets. Its, “Liberty for all, as long as I am the one benefiting from it!” When they are no longer the ones getting the lion share.. all of the sudden things need to be regulated/controlled, until they are on top again. Somehow, the idea that giving up something, to get something else, which is worth more, just doesn’t fit into their mind set. Its all, or nothing, especially if they are the ones with the all, and everyone else has the nothing. And, many of them, even if they don’t think they think this way, show a serious inability to predict the logical outcomes, never mind historical ones, of what they are proposing.