The Other War

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The Other War

Postby fangz1956 » 2008 Mar 09 23:42

There is another losing and costly war being waged in this country. It doesn't seem to be as much in the spotlight anymore these days............sadly, it gets buried by Iraq, the economy, healthcare, and this crazy election year. The funny thing is that all of those affect and are affected by The Other War. The Other War props up this economy AND has the power (and has done so in the past) to fund wars we wage against other nations. The Other War has caused serious over-crowding of jails and prisons. The Other War is a great contributor to racial profiling. The Other War has had a major hand in the staggering rise in cases of Hepatitis C and AIDS worldwide. The Other War costs us far more than money and we are losing it. It is time to end The Other War and look for new answers and solutions to the problem. This 30+ year war hasn't solved or changed a thing. The Other War is the War on Drugs.

The General Assembly in Richmond is looking to cut all state funding to the drug courts over the next two years. The cost of having a person in the drug court system is $3000 per year. The cost of incarcerating that person for one year is $20,000. I am speaking here of non-violent drug offenders, the majority of which suffer from substance abuse and addiction problems. Persons such as this who enter the drug court program are given opportunities for treatment for their addiction, they work and pay taxes, and have the chance to reunite with their families. Can we say anything that positive from a societal viewpoint about the results of incarcerating those same people? I don't think we can. Wouldn't the money be better spent getting people back to being responsible and productive members of society? I think so.

I happened catch a film the other night titled American Drug. It chronicled the drug war in this country since its inception and included the story of racial profiling and ethnic cleansing in Tulia, Texas to the Iran-Contra Affair when the CIA funneled massive amounts of cocaine into California in order to fund the Contras in Nicaragua in their overthrow of the Sandinistas. It continued on through today with how the war in the Middle East and the overthrow of the Taliban has actually INCREASED production of opium poppies for the manufacture and marketing of heroin(and I'm not talking about parmaceutical heroin for pain relief here). Thank you, Uncle Sam! Can we say Lawyers, Guns, and Money???

In order to fully understand what is happening today and some of the whys and wherefores, it was necessary for me to do a little trippin' back in time. The reading is interesting and revealing (even if it is a little dusty) and is just as important today regarding this subject as it was when the actual events occurred. ... 3202.story ... he-masses/ ... _11-1.html ... rugs/cron/

Ever looked at someone and thought "the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead"?

Renegade Mom

Re: The Other War

Postby Renegade Mom » 2008 Mar 10 07:57


This is a good synopsis of a terrible injustice to the American people. It is another good example of our hypocrisy, self-delusions and greed. The so-called "War on Drugs" is a sham, and has torn the fabric of this nation.

The links you provided flesh-out the issue in all its complexity and simplicity. I am very familiar with the issue, but most are not. It is another one of our 'dirty little secrets'.

While you point out that 'the majority of (non-violent drug offenders) suffer from substance abuse and addiction problems', I would personally amend that statement to add that many of those people do not even have a 'substance abuse' problem, but rather choose to use an illegal substance (cannabis) for their purposes rather than the government sanctioned substances (alcohol and prescription drugs). There are thousands of decent, productive, (formerly) tax-paying citizens that are incarcerated for cannabis, which is far less harmful than alcohol and prescription anti-anxiety medications. The real drug problems are born out of our national addiction to pharmaceuticals and the lack of social programs/opportunities for the poor.

You point out the disparity in the cost per individual between 'drug court' and incarceration. What you overlooked mentioning is how building and running prisons is BIG BUSINESS. A small group of people are making obscene amounts of money locking people up. Just a couple of weeks ago, statistics were released about the insane number of Americans that are in prison (sorry, don't have time now to look up the exact number). And remember, these people do not have the right to vote, nor will likely have it after they are released (since they may be held on a felony drug charge). We create more disenfranchised people, directly and indirectly, as their families are burdened with this legal hardship as well as losing their formerly stable and productive loved-one.

We train our children from an early age to take drugs. Since I heard George Carlin's bit about "two in the mouth, son, two in the mouth", satirizing our national addiction to medications as a child over 30 years ago, the problem has grown tremendously. Kids are bombarded with television advertisements for drugs all day long, watch their parents popping anti-depressants (another national addiction...) and Xanax on a daily basis, and are even themselves pumped up with Ritalin and its brethren by the recommendation of their burned-out teachers and parents. Then we tell them "Don't do drugs". We may be fooled by our own hypocrisy, but our kids get it. And when they are told lies about the dangers of different drugs, they discount almost all the information they are being taught - both the truth and the lies.

I've had 2 kids go through the Rockbridge County schools K-12, and they report consistently over the years that the problems start at the middle-school level with kids experimenting with their parents prescriptions. I have overheard numerous instances of high-schoolers pilfering their parents Xanax and Ativan without anyone noticing. So many kids are stoned at school on their folks scripts at the same time their classmates can be crucified by the school for getting caught drinking beer at a dance. Not that this excuses underage drinking, but things are WAY out of balance and perspective. I'd like a survey of the teacher's and administrator's prescriptions and see how many of them are medicated at school.

Our "No Tolerance" policies for students is a sham. The administrator's know it is unreasonable, so they take it upon themselves to mete out consequences as they see fit on an individual basis. So when you get an real ass like the principle at RCHS, you have situations of great disparity in punishment. Last year we had a freshman girl bring bottled beer to school that rolled out of her purse onto the floor in class. She got 7-10 days of in-school suspension. A boy I know, a senior (18) and an honor student, went to a dance obviously intoxicated on alcohol (but not violent) and was arrested and put in jail, forced to undergo drug testing at his parent's expense (no drugs were involved in the incident), was also given in-school suspension for 2 weeks, was banned from all school activities for the rest of the year (inc. prom and senior trip), immediately kicked off the lacrosse team (where he was a star), and not even allowed to watch a practice or a game. He was humiliated and mocked by the manager of the lab (Rockbridge Laboratories) where he had to give urine samples. This whole experience left him crushed as well as punished. It also removed all peer support from and accountability to team. They could have provided a more constructive punishment and a positive push in the right direction. Luckily his family kept him from sinking into depression and/or going the way of the 'do-nothings' after school and weekends and really getting into drugs and alcohol. To make matters worse the principle lied to him and his family along the way. Talk about setting a youngster up to turn into a societal problem... (Luckily he got into his first choice college and pulled through his common childhood mistake despite the miscarriage of justice).

Anyway, I'd like to know what to do about this boondoggle issue of the "War on Drugs". No one seems interested. It seems to pacify some national guilty conscience about our own 'government-sanctioned' drug use. Pothibition is as stupid as prohibition, although I'd personally rather see more cannabis smoking than alcohol guzzling. Smokers don't get violent and aggressive. As long as it pays some corporate bigwigs and paybacks politicians, I think the "War on Drugs" scam will remain. What to do???

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Re: The Other War

Postby Wise One » 2008 Mar 10 13:03

My congratulations to both of you for super super posts ... I can hardly add a thing. Well, except for today's NYT Editorial that coincidentally speaks to these issues !
On March 10, 2008, Editorial, New York Times wrote:Prison Nation

After three decades of explosive growth, the nation’s prison population has reached some grim milestones: More than 1 in 100 American adults are behind bars. One in nine black men, ages 20 to 34, are serving time, as are 1 in 36 adult Hispanic men.

Nationwide, the prison population hovers at almost 1.6 million, which surpasses all other countries for which there are reliable figures. The 50 states last year spent about $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections, up from nearly $11 billion in 1987. Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan and Oregon devote as much money or more to corrections as they do to higher education.

These statistics, contained in a new report from the Pew Center on the States, point to a terrible waste of money and lives. They underscore the urgent challenge facing the federal government and cash-strapped states to reduce their overreliance on incarceration without sacrificing public safety. The key, as some states are learning, is getting smarter about distinguishing between violent criminals and dangerous repeat offenders, who need a prison cell, and low-risk offenders, who can be handled with effective community supervision, electronic monitoring and mandatory drug treatment programs, combined in some cases with shorter sentences.

Persuading public officials to adopt a more rational, cost-effective approach to prison policy is a daunting prospect, however, not least because building and running jailhouses has become a major industry.

Criminal behavior partly explains the size of the prison population, but incarceration rates have continued to rise while crime rates have fallen. Any effort to reduce the prison population must consider the blunderbuss impact of get-tough sentencing laws adopted across the United States beginning in the 1970’s. Many Americans have come to believe, wrongly, that keeping an outsized chunk of the population locked up is essential for sustaining a historic crime drop since the 1990’s.

In fact, the relationship between imprisonment and crime control is murky. Some portion of the decline is attributable to tough sentencing and release policies. But crime is also affected by things like economic trends and employment and drug-abuse rates. States that lagged behind the national average in rising incarceration rates during the 1990’s actually experienced a steeper decline in crime rates than states above the national average, according to the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit group.

A rising number of states are broadening their criminal sanctions with new options for low-risk offenders that are a lot cheaper than incarceration but still protect the public and hold offenders accountable. In New York, the crime rate has continued to drop despite efforts to reduce the number of nonviolent drug offenders in prison.

The Pew report spotlights policy changes in Texas and Kansas that have started to reduce their outsized prison populations and address recidivism by investing in ways to improve the success rates for community supervision, expanding treatment and diversion programs, and increasing use of sanctions other than prison for minor parole and probation violations. Recently, the Supreme Court and the United States Sentencing Commission announced sensible changes in the application of harsh mandatory minimum drug sentences.

These are signs that the country may finally be waking up to the fiscal and moral costs of bulging prisons.
"If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like Donald Trump."

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Re: The Other War

Postby fangz1956 » 2008 Mar 10 22:41

Here is some further info about the film I watched. The full title is American Drug War: The Last White Hope. It is airing this month on Showtime. If you have access to that channel, it well worth a look. Here are links to a couple of clips from that film that can be found on YouTube.

More information about this film and its creator can be found at

I hear ya loud and clear, RenegadeMom......and I'm with you 100% and then some. There is so much to write about and so much that can be said that it is difficult to know where to begin. I am sure that some of friends think I'm a radical, insane nut job for the stand and views I take on this issue. Isn't that what most folks would think about a recovering addict who sees no harm in and supports the decriminalization of marijuana. Society(read power elite) jumps up and down and shouts that cannabis is a gateway drug. To that I say bull@#$%!!!! Unfortunately, I had to give it up for professional reasons known as random drug screening in the workplace. To be realistic, we don't want or need medical professionals to be impaired on the job but we discount and turn a blind to those who come to work under the influence of legal mood and mind altering pharmaceuticals. Cannabis will get you fired but Xanax or Valium will allow you to keep working. Go figure!

I was thinking about RenegadeMom's post today when I went to pick up my 16 year old after school. I thought about all the money spent (taxpayer money) to put a DARE officer in every school. From what I understand from my daughter and her most recent DARE class, the officer at her school uses arrogant scare tactics and tells these kids he will search until he finds something to charge them with. In her younger years, the DARE officers actually encouraged the children to rat out their parents who smoked cannabis. This is my tax money at work?!? To the credit of the children and their parents, none of them did so to my knowledge. Kids are not as dumb and gullible as the government and law enforcement seems to think they are......and that's a good thing. I thought about the lacrosse player who was run through the wringer for doing the very same things I did at that age. My son played football in his HS years and all of the players had to sign a contract vowing to be drug, alcohol, and nicotine free in order to be a part of the team and be eligible to play. This piece of paper is a joke. It would not be so bad if the consequences for breaking the contract were uniformly enforced but they are not. What applies to the lacrosse team, the baseball team, the basketball team doesn't apply to the football team. The latter can get away with murder and be treated like royalty by the coaches, teachers, and principals. Over the years, I have met a number of the football players and I know how this game gets played. I know what these boys do when they think nobody is looking and they get away with it. The sad part is that a lot of these are NOT honor students and are being passed by their teachers just so they can remain eligible to play. (Gotta stop.......digressing and derailing from the topic at hand). Back to the lacrosse player..............the person at the lab needs to be fired. That person crossed a line of professional ethics that should never be crossed. We are there to help and to do NO harm. I hope that boy's parents go after that person's job.

I did some perusing of the VHSL website this afternoon.....followed some links that took me to the National Federation of State High School Associations. There are a couple of articles there regarding drug testing in the schools. And yes, in some places it is already mandatory. I am still trying figure out how they decide who gets randomly chosen for testing in these places. If I read those articles correctly, it reads like some sort of profiling program and that disturbs me greatly. It is interesting to note that the drug the schools seem to be most concerned with is cannabis with comparatively little concern over alcohol and anabolic steroids. NONE of the schools surveyed had any real apparent interest in testing for anything other than illegal substances. The socially acceptable and legal ones are obviously not deemed to be a problem. What a nutty world we live in.

There was a tragedy here several years ago. There was a big party at the home of a doctor (the adults were out of town and the teenagers had the run of the house). The good doc kept pharmaceutical samples at home (as do many docs) and among them was Ritalin. Teenagers plus party plus Ritalin equals overdose and death. People need to understand that drugs like Ritalin have an amphetamine effect on normal people. They work in reverse on folks who are ADHD. So a child died, not from an illegal substance, but from a legal one. This is becoming a major crisis in this country as we have become the medicated masses and there is at least one pill for every ill and they are easily accessible. Direct marketing of pharmaceuticals to the public needs to stop. The only reason behind that kind of tactic is the sheer greed of Big Pharma. We only need look at the problems Big Pharma has created in society with drugs such as Oxycontin and Vioxx.........the cure is worse than the disease. The list goes on and on and on..............but it's legal and that makes it OK. But heaven forbid that somebody would want to put a Methadone clinic in your neighborhood. We went through that here and everybody was so convinced that this would exacerbate the drug problem in this valley. "Oh God......heroin addicts!!! They bring crime and they will lure our children into drug use and addiction". Yeah, right! The clinic got built and guess what? None of those fears spread by media propaganda have come to pass.

What I see is this. The "drug problem" in this country was intentionally created by a government as a way to control the people. The whole thing is a lucrative racket for the people in power. And think about Hurricane Katrina. Think about who was left behind in New Orleans......the poor, the black, and the drug addicted. Are we 100% positive that those levees broke without a little help from elsewhere? If you think about this in light of the story from Tulia, Texas, is it really beyond the realm of possibility?

Ever looked at someone and thought "the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead"?

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Re: The Other War

Postby fangz1956 » 2008 Mar 10 23:33

Though alternative sentencing for low-risk offenders is cost-effective, one of the most successful sentencing alternatives, the state's drug courts, is threatened with budget cuts. Instead of going to jail, nonviolent, low-level drug offenders work to get off drugs and straighten out their lives under the close supervision of a judge.

Participants have a low recidivism rate, but mere success is not enough to win over some policymakers. "Our judges are not social workers and they shouldn't be social workers," Senate Courts of Justice Committee member Ken Stolle told The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.

If the model works, why dismiss it? Cost? The Virginia Drug Court Association says the courts spend an average of $2,190 per participant per year. The cost to incarcerate that person for a year would be between $22,000 and $24,000 -- if he or she is an adult. The cost for a juvenile is more than $100,000.

The best long-term strategy for diverting people from prison, of course, is to keep them from breaking the law in the first place. The Pew study notes that high-quality prekindergarten shows a dramatic impact on at-risk children. One difference: They are less likely later to commit crimes.

Virginia offers preschool for some at-risk 4-year-olds, but Republicans are balking at Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine's push to expand the program. They should consider the costs, in more than money, if the state does not.

These are hard times in Virginia, and the state has to balance its budget. As Del. Chris Jones of Suffolk told The Pilot, justifying the cuts to drug courts, "In tough economic times, you have to make decisions that aren't easy or pleasant." Yes, but they shouldn't be dumb.

For every $1 that Virginia spent on higher education last year, the Pew researchers found, it spent 60 cents on corrections. It needs to change that equation, starting now.

Just a little footnote that I found.

Ever looked at someone and thought "the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead"?


Re: The Other War

Postby 10thFO » 2008 Mar 11 18:48

If a drug is illegal then it is illegal. Of course that is what they are going to test for. Cannibas is legal too, if you have glaucoma. People abuse all sorts of drugs, but it has became an issue with some of the ones you are talking about lately.

Instead of worrying about the kids getting high on their parents Zanax, or Oxycontin, then how about worrying about the parents, knowing whether the kids are stealing their drugs or not. There has to be some parental consideration here. The Cannibas isn't bad, but everything else is?

I have smoked pot a couple times in my life. Less than 5. I have also drank, and I have also taken prescription pain killers. One of these is illegal, and is the reason, I don't do it on a more frequent basis. Even though many have told me it would make my pain feel better. Bottom line is it's against the law.

As for the athletes in HS, where the standards are different. Well, I hate to say this, but when did anyone say life is fair. Has this not always been the case? I've railed at the system long enough in my days, but I also understand that nothing will ever be judged in black and white. Life just isn't fair no matter how much we tell our kids, or how much it should be.

It is not right, but it is the way it is.

Maybe one day, we will live in a world where everything is judged equally and without prejudice but until that day happens to expect it and to teach our kids that "it is the way things are going to be" is not teaching them responsibly for the future.

Renegade Mom

Re: The Other War

Postby Renegade Mom » 2008 Mar 12 07:43

I don't know if its a Venus/Mars thing, or a Renegade/Good Soldier thing, but I think we are on the wrong frequency...

Yes, life isnt fair. But when what we do individually or collectively reveals itself to be ill-conceived, stupid, harmful, overly-expensive or obsolete, it is not only appropriate but imperative to re-evaluate our decisions.

Lots of things have been illegal that are not now. How did that change? Because people questioned the value of the law, came up with a new idea, and then changed course. That becomes an element of social evolution.

What we are challenging here is the value system that favors creating a huge prison industry over other responses to a societal issue. What we are challenging is the blatant hypocrisy of those who may be in a position to influence, judge and punish others while they themselves indulge in similar behavior yet are 'excused' by a very thin line. What we are challenging are the mixed messages we send our children and how that defeats our stated purpose.

What we are challenging is the HUGE cost to our country and how that can be viewed as another means of government suppression, especially of the poor.

Where did you get the idea that we are not concerned with parental responsibility for kids stealing meds??? That's exactly what I'm talking about!

The value of cannibis was a secondary or tertiary sub-topic here. The ass-backwards treatment of cannibis in comparison to other substances was more to the point. It may be acceptable to some to shrug their shoulders and say 'oh well' its illegal and the other things are not, but I find this a cop-out on many levels. If you don't want your kids to grow up seasoned pill-poppers, then set an example for them. If you think cannabis is a legitimate herbal remedy (for lots of things BTW) then teach your kids how to indulge without getting caught and how they will have to take FULL responsibility if they do get caught.

Cannibis is NOT legal for glaucoma or even the treatment of chemotherapy effects except for in a few states. The Federal Government is actively attacking those states and anyone they can catch because they contend that it is still illegal under Federal guidelines. California smokers clubs (for medical use) have been attacked under these protocols.

And BTW, the parents of the LAX player reminded him repeatedly that he had to take responsibility for his mistake, fair or not. They did not start a fight with the school or school board but they did let their kid know that the way he was being treated was a bit fascist. The kid actually received a lot of support from teachers and other adults who scolded him for his stupidity, reinforced the concept of him standing up and taking responsibility for his transgression, and OPENLY railed against the stupidity, hypocrisy and mean-spiritedness of the way he was treated. Actually, compared to some other kids who got in trouble for the same offense the year before, he got off easy - the others were expelled. Again, this points out how there really is not a workable policy within our school system, rather arbitrary decisions are being left to dubious administrators.

Should we really 'throw away' good kids who make a mistake? it is basic knowledge that teenagers make lots of stupid mistakes. This is the time of life to do stupid things. Except for the most extreme things, specifically related to guns and violence, I reject "NO Tolerance" policies. In most cases, a level of tolerance is a wise choice. And how about these little kids who get suspended for having a pen knife? Can we inject some common sense into these situations? Not when "No Tolerance" is in place. You know teen depression and suicide are a big societal problem, too. Maybe we can do better than crucifying kids for smaller scale mistakes. What happened to community service??? That's a much more constructive alternative in my mind.

In conclusion, I have suffered with chronic pain issues since I was a teenager. I made a decision at 17 to eschew prescription painkillers because I did not want to become dependent on pills and Big Pharma, suffer the side effects, and define my life by my pain. Cannabis has always been a blessing and a help for me when it has crossed my path. I dream of someday moving to Hawaii where I can get a prescription to grow 7 plants in my kitchen garden. Here in Virginia, you are better off shooting someone in the leg than getting caught with a sack of buds. Malicious wounding will get you a slap on the wrist (No!No!), but cannabis will put you in jail. That's screwed up! And, yeah, that's the way it is!

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Postby Juggler » 2008 Mar 17 21:14


Re: The Other War

Postby 10thFO » 2008 Mar 25 13:28

Renegade Mom,

Let me apologize, for cruising off course. Must have been one of those durg induced dazes that they warn me not to drive on.

I do agree with the assessment of the Prison system. I think there is nothing more ludicrous than the county trying to build a bigger jail. There was a pretty good piece in one of the local papers a couple weeks ago about the whys and why nots of not needing it here. Pointing the finger at the judges and a commonwealth attorneys office hell bent on throwing everyone into the pokey for even some slight discretions.

I realize that there are many things that are illegal that are later overturned and found to be ridiculous. Sort of like sodomy laws and the such in my opinion. I personally don't care if they overturn the ban on Mary Jane. It is my belief that if they would legalize drugs it would be less of a problem. Of course we'd still have underaged drug use, but maybe with legal drugs we could quit making new ones out of stuff that is found underneath the kitchen sink.

The biggest boon to overturning the laws against it would be tax revenue. Then again, it seems that this country is hell bent on stopping people from smoking so who knows if anything will every change. Imagine if we had prohibition now, it would never get overturned again.

Let me reiterate that while I think parents and children should stand up for what is right, I also think it is our duty as parents to make sure they understand that just because something isn't fair, doesn't always means somebody owes you something. I'm all for responsibility on a personal and corporate level. If there is a wrong done, then it should be addressed, but I see far to many people getting hung up on the wrongs in their life, that they miss any chance of all the rights that could happen.

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Good Sense ... Finally

Postby Neck-aint-red » 2008 Apr 12 17:39

Here's something that comes from a very smart, very experienced law enforcement official with a wealth of first-hand knowledge.

It makes the best sense on this subject I've seen for a long time.

:clap: Evidently, Common Sense ain't so Common :clap:

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Re: The Other War

Postby fangz1956 » 2008 Apr 13 17:15

Thanks for the article. Sometimes when I am working long stretches, I don't get a chance to sit and read the paper.....and this is one of those times. I agree 100% with article and with the sad fact that common sense seems to be becoming a thing of the past. I have never been one that approved of the legislation of morality and personal choice. There is something egregiously wrong with that concept. I could go off on a rant here but I won't.

Suffice it to say that I think the government (of which the schools are a part) have no business and no right doing this kind of thing. The schools already seem to have adopted the mindset that they own the children and the parents are nothing more than a nuisance. I think they are working to effectively remove the "P" from PTA..................with the permission of parents who lack common sense. The reading I have done on this issue has revealed shocking plans nationwide and these plans look like ways to further divide the students into "classes" and to brand certain undesirables as trouble-makers (undesirable meaning kids who come from families who have a strong belief in personal liberty and freedom).

We all know what problems free-thinking creates in society as free-thinkers don't fit the prescribed government box or mold. We are viewed as a threat to society as a whole when the exact opposite is the truth of the matter. So the Big Brother solution is to randomly search and seize (randomly being used loosely here as the persons actually searched are pretty well targeted in advance and those targets do not generally include football players or kids from wealthy families) and weed out the "undesirables". Then they can be suspended or expelled from school with little or no chance of returning. "Random" search and seizure will accomplish the things that Ritalin failed to the school system a hand-picked, and mindless student body. Hmmm.........kind of smacks of Hitler's Germany and the Aryan Youth.

Ever looked at someone and thought "the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead"?

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Re: The Other War

Postby fangz1956 » 2008 Apr 19 05:15

The Liberator On-Line wrote:Progress in the War on Sharpies

Eight-year-old Eathan Harris was suspended from Harris Park Elementary School
in Westminster, Colorado.

His offense? He used a black Sharpie marker to color a small area on his
sweatshirt. When a teacher saw him smelling the marker and the spot on his
clothes, the teacher sent the eight-year-old to principal Chris Benisch, who
promptly suspended him for... substance abuse.

"This is really, really, seriously dangerous," Benisch announced, warning that
smelling the marker fumes could cause the boy to "become intoxicated."

Just one small problem: that's really, really, seriously... not true.

According to toxicologist Dr. Eric Lavonas, of the Rocky Mountain Poison
Control Center, non-toxic markers like Sharpies, while pungent-smelling, don't
get you high.

"I don't know whether it would be possible for a real overachiever to figure
out a way to get high off them," Lavonas said. "But in regular use, it's just
not something that's going to happen. If you went to Costco and bought 50 bags
of Sharpies and did something to them, maybe there's a way to get creative and
make it happen."

But in the zero-tolerance War on Sharpies, like the larger War on Drugs, truth
doesn't get in the way of action.

Indeed, according to local TV station KUSA, the incident has led Principal
Benisch to take the War on Sharpies to a new, um, high.

"We've purged every permanent marker there is in this building," he proudly
told KUSA.

We can only hope Principal Benisch purges the school of pencils, too. After
all, we don't want kids exposed to the danger of lead poisoning, do we?

(Source: "8-year-old suspended for sniffing marker," KUSA)

:hammer: Oh brother!
Ever looked at someone and thought "the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead"?


Re: The Other War

Postby paxham » 2008 Jun 04 20:22

Hello Rockbridge,

I think I've stayed out of this conversation for the most part. Let me say that I am neither a father nor a mother nor a soldier, so take that for what you will.

There are many other wars besides Iraq and Afganistan; Dafur and inumerable other conflicts in Africa for the most part. Strangely I can't think of anything else outside the continent of Africa. Further still, there are no demonstrations in DC. precious little coverage in the media and little or no US involvement, but for the people affected there is no less tragedy. Why is the AA lobby so silent? Why is the activist community so impotent?

This is really the subject for another thread. Perhaps I will start one, but I don't expect much reaction because American mothers and fathers are not mourning and the American media really doesn't care.

The dancing smilies in the sidebar mock me. There isn't one to express what I feel on this subject.

Paul Hammond
Richmond, VA

p.s. If I were in your shoes, I can't say what I would feel.

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Re: The Other War

Postby fangz1956 » 2008 Sep 06 05:05

Stanton Peele wrote on June 13, 2008:

McCain (and Cindy) On Drugs
Much has been made of allegations of youthful use of illegal drugs by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. Meanwhile, his GOP opponent, Arizona Sen. John McCain, has admitted that his wife not only illegally used drugs but walked away from criminal charges. The McCains have worked to make Cindy McCain's addiction into a political asset-despite the fact that she stole the drugs from a charity she directed and used them while mothering four young children.

In 1994, Mrs. McCain admitted that she had solicited prescriptions for painkillers from physicians who worked for an international charity that she founded, the American Voluntary Medical Team. She then filled the prescriptions in the names of her staff.

There are two ways to react to this behavior. According to the Betty Ford model, people can sympathetically respond to the oppressed and ignored wife of a busy politician who has bravely come forward to admit her overpowering addiction. Mrs. McCain took this posture when she first tearfully confessed her addiction. She and her husband repeated this performance in October, 2000, on the NBC program "Dateline."

The other possible public reaction is one of anger. Americans are prosecuted every day for such drug use. While most drug abusers purchase their drugs from street dealers, Mrs. McCain used her status as a charity director and senator's wife to cajole the drugs she wanted.

In fact, Mrs. McCain was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration after the agency was approached by a former staff member of her charity. The investigation resulted in no charges or prison time for her, and she entered a diversion program. While these records were not made public at the time, Mrs. McCain eventually confessed her drug use when she learned that a reporter was investigating the story.

Is Mrs. McCain to be judged as a pitiable victim or as a criminal felon? This debate is at the heart of the discussion of American drug policy. Should we deal with illicit drug users as victims or as criminals?

Let's examine Mrs. McCain's position in these terms. She is the privileged daughter of a wealthy family and spouse of an important politician, a person who had her own position of prestige and power. Should she not be held at least as accountable for her actions as an uneducated inner-city drug user? After all, she could enter drug treatment at any time she chose, unlike many drug users who find themselves in prison.

Moreover, Mrs. McCain was violating a position of trust by stealing from a charitable organization, using its money and medical expertise to fuel her drug use. Is this not morally more reprehensible than simply purchasing drugs illegally?

Finally, Mrs. McCain was the mother of four children at the time she admits to using drugs-between 1989 and 1992. Her children were born in 1984, 1986, 1988 and 1991. In other words, Cindy McCain was using drugs while raising small children, one of whom she adopted while she was an addict. In most states, family services will remove children from a woman who is known to be an active drug addict, and she would certainly not be allowed to adopt a child while addicted.

John McCain is a hawk in the drug war. He advocates stricter drug laws, penalties and enforcement against drug sellers. He has had nothing to say about redressing our punitive approach toward drug users. Of course, McCain also supports family values. Yet if John and Cindy McCain were not well-off and influential, they might not have a family at all. McCain's lack of concern for street drug users contrasts sharply with the support and understanding his wife received. It's the old American double standard. For "straight-shooter" McCain, charity begins at home-and ends there.

This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at


Ever looked at someone and thought "the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead"?

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Re: The Other War

Postby fangz1956 » 2009 Apr 04 03:55


Yesterday, I had the privilege of escorting my daughter to court for the awarding of her official driver's license. The Commonwealth of Virginia is the only state in the Union that requires this for new drivers under the age of 18. In this area, the ceremony is led by the judge who heads the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court for this part of the state. The whole thing lasted about two hours and was chock full of factual information. Some of it I knew and some of it was totally new to me. I guess things have changed (and not for the better) over the years. Some of the statistics quoted by the judge were shocking and sobering. Some of those facts follow here.

Every day, on average, 11,318 American youth (12 to 20 years of age) try alcohol for the first time, compared with 6,488 for marijuana; 2,786 for cocaine; and 386 for heroin.

Alcohol is a drug. It alters your mind, body and emotions. It is also our nation's largest youth drug problem, killing 6.5 times as many young people as all illicit drugs combined.

Children who are drinking alcohol by 7th grade are more likely to report academic problems, substance use, and delinquent behavior in both middle school and high school. By young adulthood, early alcohol use was associated with employment problems, other substance abuse, and criminal and other violent behavior.

Young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin drinking at 21.

Teens who have a blood relative who suffers from alcoholism are 50 (yes 50) times more likely to develop alcoholism.

The costs to the United States of underage drinking is substantial. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Institute of Medicine released a landmark report to Congress in September 2003, "Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility", found that underage alcohol use costs the nation an estimated $53 billion annually, including:

Violent Crime: $29,368,000,000
Traffic Crashes: $19,452,000,000
Burns: $189,000,000
Drowning: $426,000,000
Suicide Attempts: $1,512,000,000
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: $493,000,000
Alcohol Poisonings: $340,000,000
Treatment: $1,008,000,000
TOTAL: $52,788,000,000

The average age when youth first try alcohol is 11 years for boys and 13 years for girls.

It has been estimated that over three million teenagers are out-and-out alcoholics. Several million more have a serious drinking problem that they cannot manage on their own.

Annually, more than 5,000 deaths of people under age 21 are linked to underage drinking.

The three leading causes of death for 15- to 24-year-olds are automobile crashes, homicides and suicides -- alcohol is a leading factor in all three.

Approximately 25% of the alcoholics currently in the Virginia Court System are between the ages of 17 and 21, with the largest majority of that number being female.

And here's a little synopsis of the ceremony we attended prescribed by Virginia law:

Court Licensing Ceremonies
To help new young drivers in Virginia learn about the legal responsibilities that accompany the privilege of having a driver's license, all license applicants under the age of 18 must appear with a parent or guardian at a court licensing ceremony to receive their driver's license. The ceremony is conducted by the judge of the juvenile and domestic relations court district in which the juvenile lives. Each ceremony is usually attended by 75–100 juveniles and their parents or guardians. Each judge has discretion in the design of the ceremony. These ceremonies serve to educate juveniles and parents about the risks involved in underage drinking and impaired driving and the legal consequences of violating the State's "use and lose" law and other laws related to underage drinking and impaired driving. Police officers may appear at these ceremonies as guest speakers to discuss the consequences of drinking and driving. Before receiving his or her child's license, a parent must pledge that he or she will not give the license to the child until they have discussed a strategy for handling potential drinking and driving situations. This action makes the parent an active participant in the process and a partner with the court. Community coalitions have successfully worked with the juvenile courts in Virginia to develop and implement such a program. An example of such a coalition/court collaborative effort is "Children at Risk Today" (CART) in Chesterfield County, Virginia (Police Executive Research Forum, in press). This strategy has not been evaluated.

YES.......I still have the new license in my possession. We have had numerous talks already on this subject and will definitely have a big one today. No open dIscussion=no license. Mom's rule and Mom's pledge to the judge.

Ever looked at someone and thought "the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead"?

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Re: The Other War

Postby Neck-aint-red » 2009 May 14 11:00

President after president has trumpeted a wrong-headed "War on Drugs."

You see the result. How could anybody could think this is a good thing, that we should continue it or even accelerate cruel and ineffective steps that hurt millions and cost billions without any significant benefit?

I am so happy that, finally, an elected president and his appointee are willing to tell the truth and set off on a different course.


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Re: The Other War

Postby Amy Probenski » 2009 Aug 20 07:31

Wow. There's a lot of good sense in this article by Kristof on crazy ideas Americans hold ... billions to jail folks who don't hurt people, but not one cent for education and health.

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Re: The Other War

Postby Buck Turgidson » 2011 Jun 11 07:45

CHARLES M. BLOW on June 10, 2011 in NYT wrote: Drug Bust

Friday marks the 40th anniversary of one of the biggest, most expensive, most destructive social policy experiments in American history: The war on drugs.

On the morning of June 17, 1971, President Richard Nixon, speaking from the Briefing Room of the White House, declared: “America’s public enemy No. 1 in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive. I have asked the Congress to provide the legislative authority and the funds to fuel this kind of an offensive. This will be a worldwide offensive dealing with the problems of sources of supply, as well as Americans who may be stationed abroad, wherever they are in the world.”

So began a war that has waxed and waned, sputtered and sprinted, until it became an unmitigated disaster, an abomination of justice and a self-perpetuating, trillion-dollar economy of wasted human capital, ruined lives and decimated communities.

(Since 1971, more than 40 million arrests have been conducted for drug-related offenses.)

And no group has been more targeted and suffered more damage than the black community. As the A.C.L.U. pointed out last week, “The racial disparities are staggering: despite the fact that whites engage in drug offenses at a higher rate than African-Americans, African-Americans are incarcerated for drug offenses at a rate that is 10 times greater than that of whites.”

An effort meant to save us from a form of moral decay became its own insidious brand of moral perversion — turning people who should have been patients into prisoners, criminalizing victimless behavior, targeting those whose first offense was entering the world wrapped in the wrong skin. It feeds our achingly contradictory tendency toward prudery and our overwhelming thirst for punishment.

Last week, the Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a 19-member commission that included Kofi Annan, a former U.N. secretary general; George Shultz, President Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state; and Paul Volcker, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, declared that: “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the U.N. Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the U.S. government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.”

The White House immediately shot back: no dice. The Obama administration presented a collection of statistics that compared current drug use and demand with the peak of the late 1970s, although a direct correlation between those declines and the drug war are highly debatable. In doing so, it completely sidestepped the human, economic and societal toll of the mass incarceration of millions of Americans, many for simple possession.

No need to put a human face on 40 years of folly when you can swaddle its inefficacy in a patchwork quilt of self-serving statistics.

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Re: The Other War

Postby Neck-aint-red » 2011 Dec 09 17:09

That's a pretty good article, Buck.

Most of the editorials you see in our local Rockbridge Weekly are stupendously wrongheaded, but one in about every 100 actually makes some sense. I guess it's hard to be wrong 100% of the time.
Jerry Clark wrote:Pondering The 'Drug War' & Its Costs

Far more often than not, we find ourselves more comfortable with what would commonly be viewed with “conservative positions.”Increasingly, however, we’re finding that the so-called “war on drugs” is a national “strategy” which is nothing less than a colossal failure and a very costly one at that.

Consider some of the following statistics and ponder with us what these mean for our society:
• we now have in excess of 2 million in our prisons
• together with state expenditures of about $31 billion, and the federal portion of the drug war at about $23.5 billion, mean a total expenditure for the year 2011 of about $54-$55 billion.
• ancillary costs, i.e. break-ins, murders and other crimes, some of which are never reported nor quantified.
• some statistics appear to indicate that illegal drug use is increasing in the youth population
• those in the business of supplying illegal drugs are amassing huge sums of money while fostering a climate of extreme violence to maintain their turf.

We wonder...if all of the violence, all of the associated crime and associated harm that the massive public expenditure on this "war" is the best way to deal with human beings hell bent on the use of mind-altering substances. Use is not declining, nor is its distribution.

Minor cracks have been made in some large distribution channels and a few successes achieved with respect to interdiction on our nation’s borders, but by and large, it’s pretty clear that the present state of affairs in this realm is pitiful. The anti-drug lobby has a huge incentive for the war to continue: tens of thousands of jobs are based upon incarcerating users, investigations and related crimes.

After an obviously predictable initial surge in overall use, might the legalization of drugs then kill the huge profit motive and put an end to the significant amount of property and related crime? Could this help create an atmosphere for treatment and education?

Banning anything in this country hasn’t worked. It didn’t work with alcohol, it made prostitution far more profitable, it’s resulted in higher sales of some highly controversial books and it certainly did nothing to stop the gambling industry. In the present climate, we wonder if the “drug war” isn’t just another misguided attempt to regulate an age-old behavioral failing, whose consequences are mainly suffered by the fools who engage in that activity, not society as a whole.

Frank Strickler

Re: The Other War

Postby Frank Strickler » 2012 Jan 01 13:03

This time I must agree with you folks that I usually disagree with.

The government is OK with alcohol, the use of which causes thousands of traffic deaths. and violent acts by people who have had too much to drink.
However the government is against "POT" which makes people mellow, and the folks who use it do not cause nearly as many traffic deaths. Mostly they just eat too much and talk a lot. I believe based on contact with them that most "POT" smokers cause very few problems for anyone other than themselves.
As far as some of the things our government does for "OUR OWN GOOD" it would be better if they just stepped down and stayed out of our business.

Please understand that I'm one who drinks and does not use any drugs. I could be called a functioning alcoholic. Realizing this I know when to drink and when not to, and know not to drive a car or ride my motorcycle when I've been drinking. Also I'm considered a mellow drunk.