Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Reading this expose of the Special Operations Division of the DEA seems to be exactly the sort of problem that the NSA program opens itself up to.  But reading through the article, it's unclear whether the NSA is forwarding wiretaps of American citizens in the US, or whether they are getting half a conversation by listening in to an international call.

In a broader sense, this is the worst possible conflation of the War of Drugs and the War on Terror.  Wars erode civil liberties almost by definition.  The War on Drugs has, for years, eroded civil liberties.  Drug dealers are not very sympathetic and neither are terrorists, so we haven't cared much.

But we've also seen two trends: one is the increased incidents of abuses by the drug enforcement agencies and two is the public acceptance of some drug legalization.

We need to disenthrall ourselves from this idea that we can wage "war" on drugs or terror.

What we need to do instead is focus on hardening ourselves and our society against addiction and attack.  And perversely, it is hard to make drug treatment and addiction prevention palatable if we are "waging war" on drugs.

And let's not sugar coat it.  Drugs kill a ton more people than terrorism does.  Marijuana may be reasonably safe, but moving up the scale from there, things get pretty dicey.

The question is whether drugs cause this problem or drug crimes.  I've been binge-watching The Wire and season three grapples with this in the creation of "Hampsterdam" - a legalized drug free zone.  But that is heroin and cocaine mostly, not pot.

Part of this is a political problem in that our political emotions tend to be similar to a five year old child.  If something displeases us, we want to smash it.  We don't like drugs and terrorism, so we will smash them.

Forty years later, the effect on drug use has been minimal. Islamic terrorism has been negated, but what do we call Newtown?  Eau Claire?  Aurora?

Hell if I know.

We need to pull back a little on our police state, but at the same time, crime is at all time lows.

Any ideas?

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