July 19, 2004

What is peace To the people Who work the land And die in wars?

* The ineffective, expensive, drug war rages on. [via drug war rant] excerpt:

"The drug czar's 'anti-drug' media campaign continues, especially with regard to marijuana. Apparently John Walters and company still adhere to the 'reefer madness' nonsense that started back in the 1930s. In 2003, Walters' office wrote: 'Marijuana is not a benign drug. Use impairs learning and judgment, and may lead to the development of mental health problems. Smoking marijuana can injure or destroy lung tissue. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more of some cancer-causing chemicals than does tobacco smoke.'

"Both of these statements are either outright lies or gross distortions. There is no scientific evidence that marijuana leads to serious mental health problems, although there are people with mental health problems who may use drugs (and drug use is merely a symptom rather than a cause). Besides, alcohol is far worse and there is no prohibition against it. As for injuring lung tissue, to begin with, 'moderate use' is defined as 15 to 24 grams of tobacco per day, and very few pot smokers use more than a gram or two; hence smoking cigarettes is far more damaging. In fact, while no one has recently died from too much pot smoking, about 450,000 die each year from illnesses caused by tobacco. Too bad marijuana growers don't have a lobby to give money to politicians like the tobacco and liquor industries do.

"Walters and company also claim that marijuana can be addictive, citing as evidence the fact that 'more teens are in treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illicit drugs combined.' This is extremely misleading, for most kids ordered into treatment by juvenile court judges have accepted this as a plea bargain to avoid harsher punishments. Few, if any, are 'addicted' to pot. If anything, they are more likely to have problems with alcohol dependence.

"A study at Johns Hopkins University found that of 1,318 subjects covering a 15-year period, there were 'no significant differences in cognitive decline between heavy users, light users and nonusers of cannabis.' The report concludes that: 'These results...seem to provide strong evidence of the absence of a long-term residual effect of cannabis use on cognition.'"

* Mike Watt on Politics and Power. excerpt:

Q: What do you think Boon would say about what's going on in the world today?

MW: I think about that every day. Boon and I were very conversational; we would literally talk about everything all day long. So whenever I'm confronted with a situation I always wonder what he would say about it. And I know he'd be very upset by the way people are being manipulated through fear today. He was a big kid so he was always picked on and bullied, and he hated that crap. And now I get asked whether or not, after 9/11, anyone can truly write a political song anymore. I don't even have to pause before saying, "Sure." This country was founded on protest, and just because some fucking idiot pulled that shit in New York doesn't mean we have to give up on all of our ideals.

Q: That's playing into the enemy's hands.

MW: People want shortcuts and there aren't any. You give up all your ideals, it might be hard or impossible to get them back. You've got to talk about it. After all, politics is about power, and as long as there are humans involved, there's going to be discussion about how to use that power, how it's distributed.

Q: Plus, if the arts have taught us anything, it's that power doesn't stick around for long.

MW: And there are different kinds of power. There is also the power to create, whether in the arts or elsewhere. Power isn't just about killing and bombing. And an election is not a beauty contest that we have every four years. It's not something you keep in a neat little box. I think the world is oversimplified by those who are convinced that a television can tell them everything they need to know. I have people tell me, "You have to trust your government, because they know more than we do." And I'm like, whoa, maybe it's time to go to Monticello and watch Thomas Jefferson do the rotisserie tumble in his grave.

Q: Speaking of oversimplification, how about the media coverage of Reagan's demise?

MW: Yeah, the Big Revision. Both Boon and I were very conscious of Reagan's handiwork; in fact, he's opened the doors for some of the clowns we've got in there now. It's just cronyism, which is what I remember most about the Reagan era. No one is talking about how Rumsfeld was chilling on Saddam's couch back in 1983, selling him the WMDs we're so worried about. Or the Contras and drugs-for-money, Ollie North and his secret government. Everyone wanted smaller government, but ended up with bigger deficits and breaches of the Constitution. If you want a fairy tale without too many complications, turn on the TV. But I know I won't be fooled; I was there when it all happened.

* Siver Joos videos for Rebel Jew, Slow Education, and New Orleans are posted at Bad Horse.

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