REVIEW OF THE WEEK

by

BAO DAI OF HOLLYWOOD

DATELINE: HOLLYWOOD, May 27, 2001

MEMORIAL DAY AND THE ONGOING MOST UNAMERICAN OF CIVIL WARS

? Blogmania! #

Aside from a three day weekend which "officially" marks the onset of Summer -- Start of Summer as in break out the seersucker you stupid suckers (and don't forget the white bucks... Start of Summer as in have a parade/fair and that first of what by July will seem like an agonizingly endless array of barbecues featuring hotdogs, hamburgers and charred chicken parts... Start of Summer as in the flight of Suburbanites to anywhere which features sand to make suntan lotion coarse and/or water on which to use that boat you bought for reasons which probably now elude you -- aside from that and all the other good stuff that goes along with record breaking temperatures and shirt soaking humidity and the ice cream man and maybe a cold Ballentine at the ball park, few people of the Baby Boomer Generation and its progeny know, or worse care, about the purpose behind Memorial Day.

Well, as near as I can figure, it is to commemorate those who gave their lives to protect the United States of America and that for which it stands, which, from a public relations angle anyway, include the right of the People to rule themselves freely and to be free from arbitrary and capricious seizures, laws, regulations and deprivations of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

And believe me, no one more than Bao Dai of Hollywood, heir to the House of Nyguen which itself benefited from the selfless sacrifice of more than a few members of the US Armed Forces, believes the fine men and women of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps should be commemorated each Memorial Day (even if their government decided someone other than Grand Father should rule Viet Nam).

But what about those brave people, both citizen and soldier -- men, women and children -- who die daily, directly or indirectly, in the War of Aggression known as the "War on Drugs"?

Should their sacrifice -- as wounded, as prisoners, and as corpses -- not be celebrated?

For in the US anyway, the War on Drugs is the Civil War of the 20th, 21st and should the nation survive, I fear the 22nd 23rd, 24th... ad infinitum Centuries.

Of course, as has been pointed out by a plethora of pundits, the War on Drugs is not so much a War on Drugs as a War on People who use drugs -- and not just those who use certain drugs seeking intoxication, but also people who use certain drugs medicinally -- and I do not limit that to marijuana. The "enemy" of the Drug Warriors (DWs) include those who use certain drugs for chronic pain or other conditions.

Of course the DWs would never admit to such, because few have ever been used as crash test dummies only to be met by doctors who was too afraid of the Gestapo -- I mean the DEA -- to treat a patient's pain properly. It must be odd -- doctors are trained to have huge egos (if they didn't have them before Medical School) yet they routinely allow the Fun Police determine the manner in which they treat patients (by making an example of a doctor who bothers to really treat pain, stripping him of his license and threatening to send him to Leveanworth).

Similarly, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) praises opioid agonist maintenance treatment (most commonly Methadone Maintenance) as "the gold standard" of substance abuse treatment modalities, yet there is so much subtle and not subtle disrespect heaved upon methadone maintenance patients by not only society in general but many of the very dispensers of the treatment that its usefulness is often rendered nearly moot and patients of this most studied treatment have their lives more regulated than many murderers who are released on parole by authorities who don't even know where the nearest medical school is located let alone been to one because the drug has the potential to get non-patients intoxicated.

To the DW intoxication achieved by the use of anything save certain ancient Anglo-American accepted substances is wrong -- morally spiritually and by God, legally wrong. To DWs, the potential of a substance to alter reality is sufficient to make that substance and any one who uses it for any reason wrong and thus a detriment to society -- not to mention himself, and there being no cause greater than saving the individual and all that rot.... What? Did you think prisons were (and still sometimes are) known as "penitentiaries" -- i.e., a place to do penance was just coincidental? Did you think the folks who named what some call a Bureau of Prisons "The Department of Corrections" just thought it was a catchy phrase?

For all the diversity celebrated in the US the population is, and has always been, at its heart, a pretty "Live like me -- down to what you eat, drink, smoke, listen to and your God or you're not okay" kind of gang.

That's a rather simplified version of that side of the coin, and I suspect if you're really interested in the full, propagandized version one might go to the horse's mouth. The DEA would know because at some point we handed over the Enforcement Division of the Sameness Doctrine on intoxicants and possible intoxicants over to it, or its counterpart. Some say it had to do with the Negro Question and/or the habits of the Yellow Peril, but at its root it had to do with the need of people fleeing Merry Old England in search of religious freedom (including the freedom to hunt witches) need for validation.

Now normally a War has at least two opposing organized sides -- or at least two sides which are arguably organized. Not the War on Drugs. Up against the DWs with their shiny black spit shined shoes and men in pressed blue uniforms with big guns at their side is what? A few do good groups who are accused of doing things like hiding behind the Constitution and trying to keep God and guns away from school children and a bunch of disorganized disheveled and deranged dope smoking/snorting/shooting hopeless "hop heads" who while fighting for their right to party as they want -- hell, live as they want in the land of the free -- will tell you they don't want their kids to use the stuff, and who will generally warn total strangers thinking of trying the real hard stuff to forget it.

No guns on the side of those who just want to relax at the end of a hard day with their intoxicant of choice and watch the good folk arrive at the neighbor's house for a Bible Study or even have their own Bible Study. Users of "soft" drugs who are not criminals in other ways and who do not hunt or desire home protection or who aren't just gun nuts don't have guns... users of the harder drugs -- well -- their guns are often at the pawn shop collateralizing a rather hefty loan.

Oh, people think guns and gangs and cartels and Uzis and AK-47s being fired by dark skinned surly types chattering in foreign tongues when they think War on Drugs, but those guys, to the extent they think of the politics of the War on Drugs at all are among the most strident fans of Prohibition. The profits possible due to Prohibition are so great that a good number of people who have never consumed illicit drugs are willing to risk their freedom, indeed their lives (if caught by legal execution in some places, if successful or threatening another's success, by ambush, torture and execution all over the place).

Funny "War". Both sides are all for slicing the poppy plant -- they just want it cut a little differently.

But at the bottom line, so long as it's cut one way or the other, it means money. The DWs destroy a few more fields or labs or raid a few more warehouses than the producers anticipate then all that happens is the price rises and maybe some addicts are sick for a couple days while a new connection is rushed into place, or the old connection reorganizes after a bust.

There's a saying among professional dealers -- "same thing, new location."

And likewise, after he's busted, an addict -- a real addict -- takes care of his addiction so he can take care of all the shit related to the bust -- and the first way he takes care of it is not by heading for rehab.

All those "drug related/gang related' shootings and drivebys and carnage that make the St. Valentine's Day massacre look like something thought up by Norman Rockwell ... all that AK-47 gunfire on the mean streets -- that's just about who is going to sell the drugs at a given location (if related at all). if prohibition ended tomorrow so would shady street deals and things like crazed teens shooting up a street and killing innocent little kids and old ladies would end -- I mean how often do you hear of pharmacists getting into shoot outs with each other over who can open a store in a given mini mall.

The users and abusers on the front lines of the drug war -- the ones who usually get busted and go to jail for having 200 mg of a white powder in their pocket -- risk their lives in large part, not by the bullet of the DW, but because of the War itself. I guess they are the collateral damage in a War that is supposed to protect them from themselves by being against them.

See, when a substance is prohibited, it cannot be regulated. Alcohol sold to consumers has a label which identifies the "proof" of the product -- e.g., its purity. 100 proof Vodka is 50% alcohol by content. Heroin is sold, I hear, either in unmarked containers or in little containers which may bear a brand name, or a picture which may be designed to tout the product's strength, but is, as Justice Cardozo said in that Carbolic Smoke Ball case, "just puffing."

You'd think that if the DWs really wanted to be all virtuous and protect the users and abusers and the innocently and take from those who reap huge illicit profits they would be do something really war like and take over the illicit drug business. I mean the chances of a close friend of Super Fly or Cadillac Willie getting a license to sell drugs from the Regulators are slim. Narco billions could turn Central and South America, our NAFTA partners, into First World nations with growing middle classes, paved roads, school districts, Levittowns and all that shit. Indeed, that was the decision which the members of the Judges of the US Ninth Circuit arrived at in the early 1990s during a super secret meeting on "Real Solutions to the Drug Problem" -- legalize and regulate. Then, at the last minute one of the dinosaurs (a Federal judge job is for life and once they work their way up to a WPA built court room in LA with chambers the size of the Millennial Condo, the incentive to quit at age 90 and go into private alternative dispute resolution is slim) who was probably on the pay roll of the Calle Cartel and saw the immense profits crack would bring argued that "there will always be a black market because, well you know them dope fiends -- they'll be buying it retail and jacking up the price and shooting up high school students and any other child on who they can get their grubby hands."

Maybe this guy was passing out envelopes stuffed with cash. Maybe he was one of those assholes who refuse to shut up and let everyone go play golf until he gets his way. Who knows. Anyway, instead of concluding that this problem could be easily solved by making the penalty for such conduct -- along with that for selling cigarettes and booze to kids -- to 25 years in prison or pointing out that even if they didn't add such a rider kids can go buy dope from such people today, and that the only person we now have standing between our youth and smack/coke/LSD and what have you is a criminal willing to risk his life and freedom for a $10 sale, the Meeting adjourned with no recommendation, or a decision to just keep fighting an admittedly unwinnable war because of this (new?) black market. And so yet another Memorial Day comes while America fights its War on Drugs that anyone with half a brain can see by the world wide opium glut and the sharp decline in the price of coke at a time when people are climbing over cracked crack pipes to get more.

When asked, any Washington politico will claim we are winning the War on Drugs... or at least say something vague and unintelligible about the need to rid the world (meaning America) of the Plague and cite big busts that really only make people wonder how the fuck anyone got 20 TONS of the shit into the country in the first place.

And in the end it is not only an unwinnable war, but one that no one who could bring it to an end has any incentive to do so.

It's a War where both sides (as seen by the public) make billions of dollars and the only people who actually suffer are poor people caught in the cross fire of dealers, low level street pushers who get shot in territorial disputes and a bunch of non-voting drug addicts as well as a few hundred thousand suffering people with chronic, treatable pain....

It is a War fought by DWs who supposedly have some philosophical loyalty to stuff like freedom of choice and the pursuit of happiness and the right of the individual on wide open fields of golden grain waving across the heartland.

It seems this is the most un-American of Wars.

Memorial Day is, i think, a day on which to remember that war really is hell and that it kills and hurts and changes forever the lives of very real people... people who, to the DWs and Narco producers could care less so long as their jobs are secure and they can buy a new Mercedes every year.

So a moment of silence, please....