Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Sam Smith

If Obama is elected, by next January we will have had three presidents in a row who - if our laws had been equitably enforced - might easily have been convicted felons. Obama has admitted drug use including cocaine, and there is a high likelihood that both Bush and Clinton used cocaine as well as pot. Being a convicted felon is not a constitutional bar to the presidency but in many states the three could would not be allowed to vote or run for state or local office.

The issue comes to the fore thanks to Scott McClellan's new book. A story in the Atlanta Constitution recounts:

"McClellan tracks Bush's penchant for self-deception back to an overheard incident on the campaign trail in 1999 when the then-governor was dogged by reports of possible cocaine use in his younger days.

"The book recounts an evening in a hotel suite 'somewhere in the Midwest.' Bush was on the phone with a supporter and motioned for McClellan to have a seat. ;The media won't let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumors,' I heard Bush say. 'You know, the truth is I honestly don't remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, and I just don't remember.'"

Clinton, for his part, ran Arkansas at a time when it was one of America's leading little narco republics. He looked the other way as Papa Bush ran an arms for drugs operation out of Mena as part of the Iran-Contra disaster. The IRS warned other law enforcement agencies of the state's 'enticing climate.' According to Clinton biographer Roger Morris, operatives go into banks with duffel bags full of cash, which bank officers then distribute to tellers in sums under $10,000 so they don't have to report the transaction.

Sharlene Wilson, according to investigative reporter Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, served as "the lady with the snow" at "toga parties" attended, she reported, by Bill Clinton. She told a federal grand jury she saw Clinton and his younger brother ''snort'' cocaine together in 1979. Investor's Business Daily reported, "Sally Perdue, a former Miss Arkansas and Little Rock talk show host who said she had an affair with then-Gov. Clinton in 1983, told the London Sunday Telegraph that he once came over to her house with a bag full of cocaine. ''He had all the equipment laid out, like a real pro.''' In the 1990s, Genifer Flowers told Sean Hannity's WABC talk radio show: "He smoked marijuana in my presence and and offered me the opportunity to snort cocaine if I wanted to. I wasn't into that. Bill clearly let me know that he did cocaine. And I know people that knew he did cocaine. He did tell me that when he would use a substantial amount of cocaine that his head would itch so badly that he would become self conscious at parties where he was doing this. Because all he wanted to do while people were talking to him is stand around and scratch his head."

Two Arkansas state troopers swore under oath that they have seen Clinton ''under the influence'' of drugs when he was governor. One-time apartment manager Jane Parks claimed that in 1984 she could listen through the wall as Bill and Roger Clinton, in a room adjoining hers, discussed the quality of the drugs they were taking. And in 1984, Hot Springs police record Roger Clinton during a cocaine transaction. Roger says, "Got to get some for my brother. He's got a nose like a vacuum cleaner."

The issue here is not what these men did. After all, in a sane land, their drug use would be considered foolish but legal. The issue is that we stand a good chance of entering a third presidential administration marked by massive hypocrisy, cruelty and destructiveness in the matter of drugs. Obama shows every sign of following in the same masochistic path that has not only failed in its goal, but coincidentally began the dismantling of constitutional government and encouraged manic and self-defeating foreign adventures.

You can not understand what has happened to this country over the past three decades without putting the war on drugs near the top of the list. Nothing has so changed the way we think and function as has our callously unexamined approach to drugs.

My bedtime viewing of late has been the Netflix compilation of "The Wire," which I have come to think of as among the best literature of our times, a Shakespeare for an America in disintegration. The series touches on all forms of urban collapse - in politics, religion, labor unions, the police, the media - but the unbreakable link is a drug trade fostered by some of the worst laws and policies ever conceived. Seldom has a country so deliberately destroyed so much of its being for so little gain.

But if you check the awards "The Wire" has won they are mainly from critic and writers groups and from the NAACP. The pop honors have been strikingly absent as were the ratings.

This is not surprising, because under our cultural rules, the drug war is not something to discuss and argue about. It is to be accepted, funded and promised to be continued by whoever is running for public office.

Significantly, two of the major enablers of this madness have been the media and a liberal elite that has increasingly blended its values with those of the conservative elite, the most notable exception being those of a demographic nature. It's no longer so much a matter so much of what you do but what ethnicity or gender gets to do it.

There are, of course, exceptions such as civil libertarians and populists fighting lonely battles that used to be central to Democratic Party beliefs. But on the whole, such matters simply don't matter that much. Which is why neither Obama nor Clinton have discussed the drug issue or cities other than in passing.

In the case of drugs, there is another factor that is never mentioned, which is that among the media and elite liberals there has been more than a little use of the same substances for which they are willing to send the less prominent to prison. You see just the tip of this phenomenon when a presidential candidate's drug use threatens to become an issue. The great mediators of public discourse quickly declare this topic fit only for the lower sorts and move it off the table.

Such a willingness to punish others for what one does or what one's friends do is bad enough when it is merely an opinion expressed. When it results in prison time, it is despicable.

The liberal hypocrisy on the drug war was an early signs that I was no longer a liberal. I was stunned by the liberal enthusiasm for Clinton, and claims that he was our first black president, even as he sent an ever larger number of young blacks to prison for doing what he had done.

This is not small stuff. Far more young American men have died as a result of the drug war than have died in Iraq. More young black men have died as a result of the drug war than died in Vietnam. Yet we not meant to talk about it.

In the wake of its support of the drug wars, liberals have gone on to support such awfulness as the Patriot Act and No Child Left Behind. In many ways, liberalism hasn't died; it's just evaporated.

A progressive populism of the sort that John Edwards was reintroducing is the sane and logical alternative, one that provides the most for the most and under which you don't have to graduate from Yale or Harvard Law School to have equal rights as a woman or a black. It is obscene to speak smugly of Obama's rise and yet be indifferent to the tens of thousands of those whose skin is of the same hue but will who spend the next four years in a cell rather than in the White House because they tried to smoke or snort their way to happiness just like two past presidents, and one potential one, all in a row.


At 5:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Making it even worse, Barack's favorite TV show is "The Wire". So his stands on the drug issue are not just hypocritical, they're willfully ignorant. On the other hand, one can hope that endorsing the aforementioned series is a quiet method of signaling his actual intentions - much as JFK talked tough on Russia and Cuba but pursued relatively sane policies once in office.

BTW, his favorite character is Omar. I wonder what that means?



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Your editor has been a musician for many decades. He started the first band his Quaker school ever had and played drums with bands up until 1980 when he switched to stride piano. He had his own band until the mid-1990s and has played with the New Sunshine Jazz Band, Hill City Jazz Band, Not So Modern Jazz Band and the Phoenix Jazz Band.


Here are a few tracks:





APEX BLUES   Sam playing with the Phoenix Jazz Band at the Central Ohio Jazz festival in 1990. Joining the band is George James on sax. James, then 84, had been a member of the Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller orchestras and hadappeared on some 60 records. More notes on James

WISER MAN  Sam piano & vocal

OH MAMA  Sam piano & vocal