Is the Drug War flipping inside out?
For decades, we’ve had conservatives—traditionally associated with the Republican Party and the right wing of American politics—rail against drug use and fight for a stronger Drug War that throws more people in jail, while liberals—traditionally associated with the Democrats and the left wing—did the exact opposite, arguing for legalizing drugs or at least scaling back the war. Now, this has never been a perfect analogy—Buckley himself wrote in National Review that the Drug War was stupid and could not be enforced, and many liberals in the government have done truly nothing to try and end this war, and in fact have reveled in it (see: Clinton, Bill and Obama, Barack.)
But lately, we’ve been seeing a complete switch. First, on the conservative side, we have Pat Robertson coming out against marijuana prohibition, followed by George Will’s latest columns that, while not actually arguing for legalization, is seriously questioning prohibiting hard drugs. Meanwhile, President Obama says he wants to have a “debate” about it, but says that legalization is “not the answer.” (To which I say, “Well, then what is, big guy?”)
Of course, we can rack a lot of this up to people being out of power and others being in (and needing to appease the government beasts.) But still, it seems quite baffling to me, where we have conservatives/Republicans questioning the Drug War and liberals/Democrats more or less supporting it.
Televangelist Pat Robertson’s psychotic ramblings seem to often catch people off guard, so in the wake of disaster in Chile and warnings of tsunami in Hawaii, I thought I would try a pre-emptive approach.
Chile recently elected a center-right leader in the form of Sebastian Pinera. While his right of center politics may seem like Robertson should like him, Pinera says that he voted to end the Pinochet regime in a 1988 referendum. When Pinera made that fateful vote (I have a suspicion that Pat Robertson was or would have been a Pinochet supporter), was he making a deal with the devil and thus bringing on today’s disaster?
Recently, a bill came before the House of Representatives aimed at providing a 21st century version of “separate but equal” for Native Hawaiians by creating a parallel government for a portion of Hawaii’s population. It’s called the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act and is by all means a political regression into an age of ethnic separatism and segregation. Perhaps Pat Robertson would believe that the tsunami is coming as God’s wrath over the bill before the House?
Pat Robertson, the televangelist and host of The 700 Club, made waves last week when he said that marijuana should be legalized and treated like alcohol and also expressed his support for ballot measures in states that would decriminalize its usage:
[Robertson] first became a self-proclaimed “hero of the hippie culture” in 2010 when he called for ending mandatory prison sentences for marijuana possession convictions.
“I just think it’s shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of a controlled substance,” Robertson said on his show March 1. “The whole thing is crazy. We’ve said, ‘Well, we’re conservatives, we’re tough on crime.’ That’s baloney.”
“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Robertson was quoted by the newspaper as saying. “If people can go into a liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol and drink it at home legally, then why do we say that the use of this other substance is somehow criminal?”
Robertson said he “absolutely” supports ballot measures in Colorado and Washington state that would allow people older than 21 to possess a small amount of marijuana and allow for commercial pot sales. Both measures, if passed by voters, would place the states at odds with federal law, which bans marijuana use of all kinds.
While his spokepeople are trying to walk back his comments, Pat Robertson, a well-known televangelist, recently called for decriminalization of marijuana (emphasis mine):
Calling it getting “smart” on crime, Robertson aired a clip on a recent episode of his 700 Club television show that advocated the viewpoint of drug law reformers who run prison outreach ministries.
A narrator even claimed that religious prison outreach has “saved” millions in public funds by helping to reduce the number of prisoners who return shortly after being released.
“It got to be a big deal in campaigns: ‘He’s tough on crime,’ and ‘lock ‘em up!’” the Christian Coalition founder said. “That’s the way these guys ran and, uh, they got elected. But, that wasn’t the answer.”
His co-host added that the success of religious-run dormitories for drug and alcohol cessation therapy present an “opportunity” for faith-based communities to lead the way on drug law reforms.
“We’re locking up people that have taken a couple puffs of marijuana and next thing you know they’ve got 10 years with mandatory sentences,” Robertson continued. “These judges just say, they throw up their hands and say nothing we can do with these mandatory sentences. We’ve got to take a look at what we’re considering crimes and that’s one of ‘em.
“I’m … I’m not exactly for the use of drugs, don’t get me wrong, but I just believe that criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot, that kinda thing it’s just, it’s costing us a fortune and it’s ruining young people. Young people go into prisons, they go in as youths and come out as hardened criminals. That’s not a good thing.”
As if to illustrate that those on the Left are just as capable of irrational, insane and downright bizarre comments as Pat Robertson and the Religious Right, Danny Glover suggests in this audio clip that the Haiti earthquake was a response (by Mother Nature, God or somebody) to the failure to address global warming at Copenhagen.
On Keith Olbermann’s program, Eugene Robinson correctly observes Pat Robertson to be a demented old man.
For the first book review here at United Liberty, I picked Christopher Buckley’s new book Boomsday.
The protagonist of Boomsday, Cassandra Devine, in many ways bares similarities to our own fiscal hawk, Shana Kluck. A young, female political activist and blogger, Cass (as she is called for most of the book), takes the dry issue of Social Security reform and spices it up with a controversial proposal: tax breaks for families of retirees who commit suicide.