Archive for November, 2005

 War on your Rights

Not in recent memory has there been a news report that so perfectly illustrated everything that is wrong with the so-called War on Drugs. I just had to share this one.

Let us ignore, for the moment, that neither Congress, nor any other legislature, has the authority to ban a substance (without first amending the Constitution). Let us further ignore that declaring “war” on drugs is as effective as declaring war on Poverty, Illiteracy, or Terrorism. Which is to say not at all.

If one can get past the absurdity of those two assumptions, then consider that federal tax money is being spent in my home state of Missouri to launch “an ad campaign Monday warning that the secondhand effects of meth labs can ruin the health of non-users.” Whether or not that is an effective use of money is left as an exercise for the reader (hint: it’s not), but just the simple fact that you, dear reader, as a non-Missourian, are helping foot the bill for an ad campaign that targets a bunch of inbred rednecks in another state should be enough to make your blood boil. But guess what? I live in this freakin’ state and it makes my blood boil too!

Now consider the fact that designer drugs such as crystal meth would not even exist if the federal government had not overstepped its bounds in the first place and tried to ban naturally occurring substances such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin. That’s right. The danger of drug use has been compounded many times over by the government’s irrational and unConstitutional crusade against natural narcotics, thus forcing people to skirt the drug laws by constantly seeking to create and manufacture new drugs that do not appear on the government’s ever-growing list of “illegal” substances. Some of these designer drugs that first appeared in the 1980s can cause instant Parkinson’s disease in some users. You can say what you want about smoking weed, but it has never created a Parkinson’s victim. Thank you federal government.

Beyond that it must be noted, as is so often the case with laws intended to protect us, that the rights of the *law-abiding citizens* are routinely violated here in Missouri as well. Forget about no-knock raids, and other overtly egregious violations of our Fourth Amendment rights, but what about an individual’s simple right to remain anonymous? Not in Missouri. At least, not if you have a common cold and would like to go to your corner drugstore and buy some Sudafed or other cold medicine. No. You will not only be forced to *register* your purchase of Sudafed (with your name and home address) but your right to freely contract will be further infringed by the state of Missouri (in direct violation of Art I, Sec 10, of the Constitution) as they restrict the amount of Sudafed you are allowed to purchase.

All in the name of preventing a free people from engaging in the entrepreneurial activities associated with manufacturing a product that is in demand and bringing it to market — none of which violates the rights of anyone. Because, you see, the so-called War on Drugs has never claimed a drug as its victim (and it never will), only the rights of the individual in an ostensibly free society.

 Jarhead

I still remember being awakened by the phone the evening of January 16, 1991 and hearing my father’s voice say, “Jerry, they’re bombing Baghdad.” When you’re five years into a six-year enlistment in the Marine Corps, finding out that you’re suddenly at war is not the greatest news. Despite my non-deployable status as a member of the Landing Force Training Command Atlantic (LFTCLant), a Marine can never be sure what his next set of orders will contain. My initial apprehension about being sent to an active combat zone was soon replaced with feelings of helplessness, and later uselessness, as I watched my friends in the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (with whom I shared a barracks) leave for Operation Desert Storm. So in some small way I can completely relate to Anthony Swofford’s feelings of frustration and futility.

This is a fantastic film with a number of different, but important, messages all competing for screen time. From the absurd morality of arguing over who should get to kill an officer of the Republican Guard, to the complex ethos of a bus-load of Marines welcomed home by a Vietnam vet who received no homecoming parade of his own.

It brought back a number of memories for me, although I never regretted my decision to join, so there were a number of negative aspects of Swofford’s perspective that I could not share. But whether you love or hate the Corps, it is a great source of comedy and drama, and it was great to see “the Suck” as a co-star of this war movie for my generation.