Out in the west Texas town of El Paso, where bags of drugs are simply thrown over the border from Juarez to be retrieved from back yards on the US side, things almost took a turn for the worst. The City Council decided that the terrible violence of Juarez and its creep across the border needs to stop. But they didn’t call for helicopter gunships or paramilitary intervention; the failure of those sorts have tactics has become all to apparent. According to a recent Reuters report, the Mexican cartels have even infiltrated the DEA. They have the money and the arms to fight, and the profits are high enough to make it worthwhile. The violence in Juarez has reached epic proportions, so in a show of solidarity with their sister city, the El Paso City Council voted in favor of a resolution that included “an honest, open national debate on ending the prohibition of narcotics.”
Never mind that the resolution also called for clamping down on gun running and money laundering. It was the desire to debate, and perhaps focus less on incarceration for drug offenses that made the resolution go over like a lead Zeppelin. The Mayor vetoed it, and the council members started getting pressure from as high as the US Congress to shut the fuck up.
The standard means of the federal government to squash an open, honest debate about drugs and the laws which apply to them is to threaten state and local governments with withholding federal funds. El Paso was told, in no uncertain terms, that continuing with their call for debate jeopardized their slice of the bailout pie. The city council buckled and did not overturn the mayor’s veto of the resolution, though several members are furious about the intimidation tactics. As well they should be. It’s not as if they were voting to make narcotics legal in El Paso, they were only voting to discuss the issue.
It is apparent to anyone with half of a brain (which excludes the majority of federal politicians) that the War on Drugs is an utter failure.
Civil liberty arguments go unheeded. Economic arguments from syndicated, conservative columnists go unheeded. Common sense goes unheeded.
Even electoral arguments go completely unheeded. Mr. Obama is lucky that he was running against a grumpy old white man and not the evil dope, because in multiple states Marijuana initiatives surpassed his margin of victory. In Michigan, Obama won 57-41; proposition one (medical marijuana) passed 63-37.
Mr. Obama has, however, filled his cabinet with unrepentant drug warriors. From his Vice President, who is quite proud of foisting the office of Drug Tsar on his nation, to his pick for Attorney General who was Clinton’s point man in the escalation of the war on marijuana.
Some will argue that we have far bigger issues to tackle than drugs; i contend that when you’re faced with a long list of problems, solve the easiest ones first. Furthermore, to have an admitted user of illegal drugs hold the highest office in the land (proving once and for all that one can smoke pot and still grow up to be president) and prosecute others for the same behavior is beyond even standard, American hypocrisy.
But over and above all that, squelching debate is the most un-American activity that i can imagine.