Are We Winning The War On Drugs

In 2010, the U.S. spent 15 billion dollars on the ‘War On Drugs’. That works out to around $500.00 per second. The US is a little different in our approach to problems. We usually ‘throw’ money at it, and let the private sectors handle it, and in most cases, this works very well. Where it fails to achieve it’s goal is when the government (hereafter refereed to as “the Feds”) throws money at itself, in the hopes of dealing with the issues. So, after spending 15 billion dollars of our hard-earned tax money, in the middle of a massive financial crisis for most people, are we any safer? Are we winning the ‘War’ on drugs?

It depends on who you ask. To understand the mechanics, you need a little background. At the turn of the century, drugs were not regulated at all. Medical remedies were freely available, many containing heroin and cocaine, over-the-counter, with no prescriptions required. Consumers were simply cautioned to use them as directed, and if you became addicted, or died, it was you’re own fault. The Supreme Court (aka: the Supremes) had ruled in 1886 that states could not regulate interstate trade, and Federal law enforcement target most counterfeiting. The invention of the automobile made interstate drug transport, and interstate law enforcement investigations much easier, so the stakes were raised. In 1906, due to public pressure, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was passed. This was meant to target toxic substances, requiring warnings on potentially dangerous substances. After many unsuccessful attempts to find ways to tax cocaine, and heroin, the Harrison Tax Act of 1914 was passed, effectively making the use or possession of heroin and cocaine illegal in the U.S. By 1933, the Prohibition debacle had ended, and the U.S. had a huge surplus of agents with nothing to do. The federal government never fires anyone, so they simply created a new organization (2, actually, one for drugs and one for firearms), the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. They placed it under the U.S. Treasury Department to avoid having to follow any Constitutional restrictions that the Justice Department had to follow. As long as they kept the appearance of it being simply a tax issue, they had a free hand in enforcement tactics. They did the same with firearms to circumvent the 2nd Amendment. The U.S. Constitution gives the federal a lot of freedom in creating, collecting and enforcing taxes.

Now that politicians had a federal organization unfettered by any constitutional restraints, who’s primary function in reality was regulating and attacking both drug trade and use, all at their beck and call, they quickly began to use them to get elected to office by manufacturing crisis after crisis involving the ‘drug epidemic’, that up until now, no one knew about. The first shot was fired in 1937. At that time, the American public’s attitudes towards minorities such as African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and Asian-Americans wasn’t that great. They were not allowed in most bars, and in some states, were banned by law from possessing or consuming alcohol completely. So many of them turned to marijuana as an inexpensive and relatively harmless temporary escape from their woes. Oppressing minorities was a great way to get elected at that time, so politicians quickly seized the moment. Posters were circulated, and propaganda movie shorts were created showing that African-American and Mexican men would get high on ‘Mary Jane’, and seek out white women to engage in debauchery with. Of course, this had the desired effect of creating a panic among white voters. They quickly voted for the ‘saviors of female honor’, and the politicians passed the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, in an attempt to tax the herb into non-existence. Even though all medical studies showed that marijuana was relatively harmless , the propaganda was circulated that it was a ‘gateway’ to using other drugs, and other such nonsense.

The Justice department was missing out on a lot of the money being allotted for enforcing the tax laws, so the Boggs Act of 1951, and the Narcotics Control Act of 1956 were passed requiring mandatory sentencing, and other provisions, allowing the Justice Department to receive a much larger share of the federal budget money. President Eisenhower didn’t want to be left out, so he created the U.S. Interdepartmental Committee on Narcotics, which was mainly just a place for him to appoint his friends and cronies to federal jobs and paychecks. They actually did very little, and the entire organization was symbolic, at best.

Moving forward to the 1970s, President Nixon had several scandals brewing and desperately needed something to re-direct attention from them. He used his clout to get the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 passed. This greatly expanded the Feds budget, and authority to enforce drug laws. In 1971, Nixon stated that drugs were “Public Enemy #1”, declared a ‘War On Drugs’, and used celebrities like Elvis Presley (great example…..) to send the message that drug use was unacceptable.

In 1973, the Feds dropped all pretense of not having a standing army with the creation of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) with draconian power and authority. Their agents use military equipment, have military-style uniforms, use military tactics, and have much more power to violate the U.S. Constitution than a normal police officer. In 1983, the slogan aimed at children, “Just say no” was aggressively propagated, so that a perceived threat to children would allow for more drug legislation (and it’s associated money) with little or no public outcry.

The war on drugs took an unexpected turn in the mid 1980s. Cocaine had become the most popular drug of the upper-class and well-off voters, many of which were directly responsible for political funding and getting politicians elected. People of lesser means preferred the new, inexpensive smoke-able cocaine, called ‘crack’. In their zeal to capture more federal dollars, they inadvertently placed their most important assets at risk for prosecution. They quickly circulated propaganda characterizing crack as the drug of choice for sinister black urban addicts, selling it to children in the ‘projects’, and focusing attention away from the upper-class cocaine users. They passed the Anti Drug Act of 1986, which stipulated that 5000 grams of ‘yuppie’ cocaine would get you a mere 10 years in prison, but just 50 grams of crack would get you the same. And of course, the convictions for crack were more aggressively pursued than standard cocaine.

In the insuring years, the Feds have been able to do pretty much anything they want with impunity. And all because of the precedents of the ‘War on Drugs’. It has been used as an excuse for countless Civil Rights violations, and continues to be a major tool of oppression. For example, the Constitution prohibits the Feds from taking your property without Due Process of Law, but if they accuse you of drug possession, they can take you car, and other personal belongings before you ever go to court. If a doctor causes you to become addicted to a pain-killer like Vicodin, you will be prosecuted just like a heroin addict, even though it was not all your fault. California legalized marijuana for medical use in 1996, yet the Feds continue to arrest and prosecute California Medical Marijuana Distributors, citing Federal precedence over state laws. So far, the Obama Administration has kept things the way they are. There does not appear to be any plans for an ‘exit strategy’ or reform on the issue.

Aside from the obvious fallacy in the War On Drugs, in that it is not possible to wage war against an inanimate object, a social issue, moods, or any other abstractions, are we any better off because of this ‘War on Drugs”? So far, the human costs are that 55% of federal prisoners, and 22% of state prisoners are incarcerated for drug offenses. This works out to over 500,000 people in prison for drug offenses, not counting people in jail awaiting trial, or people on probation, or parole. This is equivalent to the entire population of Las Vegas, or any other medium sized city in America, locked up for laws, most of which did not even exist before the 1970s. If they had just been born 40 or so years earlier, they would not be prisoners. This also has the effect of creating an under-class of citizens in this country who, in theory, can be denied any rights because of a minor mistake made decades earlier. And many of these are people who inadvertently became addicted to a prescription drug because of the rash of doctors over-prescribing drugs. And the numbers are growing.

The emotional costs are incalculable. Non-violent people who merely used an illegal drug are housed behind bars with killers, rapists, pedophiles, and the like, and gang violence is a direct result of the drug laws and prohibitions, and effect large numbers of people who have nothing to to with drugs at all.
Financially, the War On Drugs costs the U.S. Taxpayer over 20-50 billion dollars yearly, with little tangible results. This does not include the billions of dollars given to countries like Columbia to ‘help’ them curb the drug trade, or U.S. interventions in other countries, such as spraying people and crops with deadly Round-Up, a very dangerous herbicide that replaced Agent Orange some time back. If we had fought all of our past wars this way, we would still be a British colony.

So, after all this, are we winning the War on Drugs? It depends on who you ask. The government says we are, because they manipulate the numbers to show the results they want. When it comes time to ask for money from Congress, they inflate the figure by using all the numbers they can get, including people waiting to go to court for drug charges, and people in drug treatment programs who are not even under indictment. When they have to show that drug use is down, they do not include people on probation, parole or waiting for trial. Typical politics. If you ask any experts in the field of medicine, counseling, and most Law Enforcement officers, they will tell you it is a dismal failure, a waste of good prison-space, law enforcement resources, and court time.

The obvious solution is to realize that drug use is a medical and social problem, not a law enforcement one. Money should be spent on treatment programs, counseling, and education, rather than incarceration. The way to stop drug trafficking is to dry up the demand for the product. It’s time for the citizens of our country to wake up and smell the coffee. We need to quit allowing our elected officials to waste our tax money and resources on wild-goose chases, and hold them responsible for what they do in office. If you don’t vote, then you are part of the problem. It costs nothing but a little time to register. Get off the fence, and help us save our country. Get involved, knowledgeable, and most of all, vote. They’re your rights…..Use ’em, or lose ’em……

Yes, Virginia. There Really Is A Santa Claus

The year 270 AD was not a good time for Christians. The Roman Empire was in very bad health, and a lot of the blame was assigned to the Christian faith. A succession of many short-lived Emperors kept Christians in constant danger of imprisonment, torture, and death, while external threats such as the invading Visigoths chipped away at the Empire. Christianity was very fragmented, without a strong core doctrine, and little or no unity between the early churches.

Into this world was born a child destined to be an awesome force for change in the Christian world. In the small Greek town (now part of Turkey) of Patara, a boy was born to wealthy parents, who named him Nicholas. He was raised to be a devout Christian, but both of his parents died in one of the many epidemics that regularly swept the empire, while he was still very young. He had a sizable inheritance, and no idea what to do with it, so he approached the local village priest, confessed his sins, bequeathed all his money to the poor, and expressed his desire to become a priest. Impressed by the youngsters gumption, the priest took him in. He knew, however, that Nicholas lacked the education needed to become a full priest, but prayed for a miracle, just the same. As often happens, their prayers were answered positively.

In the nearby city of Myra, the Bishop passed away, and the authorities were pressed to name a new bishop for the church. Nicholas was well-known in the village, and highly respected. He had done a lot for the town, often at his own peril with the Roman authorities. One of the town elders said they had a vision, where an angel told him that Nicholas had earned the honor of being made a Bishop. The rest of the elders agreed, and Nicolas was made the youngest Bishop the Christian church has ever had, even to this day.

Bishop Nicholas wasted no time in exercising the duties of his office, and undertook them with the zeal, energy, and bravery that only youth could sustain. He became a common thorn-in-the-side to the newly ascended Emperor Constantine (who was not yet a Christian), as he had been to his predecessor Emperor Dioclecian. Due to his outspoken defense of Myra’s populace, both Christian and otherwise, he was a regular guest of the Roman prison system, and endured torture and confinement frequently. He had a reputation for defending the wrongly accused, sailors, and an unbounded love for children.

One of his deeds that eventually earned Bishop Nicholas a permanent ‘attaboy! Involved a poor man who had three daughters. It was the custom of the time that a woman’s father provide a substantial dowry to ensure them a good marriage. This man’s daughter had little hope of any martial possibilities, and the man, as was customary for that time, contemplated selling them into slavery, where at least they would be fed, and clothed. Upon hearing of this, Bishop Nicholas devised a plan that would supply a dowry without embarrassing the father, or his daughters. One night around Christmas (which hadn’t really been officially established, yet) , a mysterious figure appeared on the roof of the mans house and dropped a bag of gold down the chimney, and as luck would have it, it landed right in one the oldest daughters stockings (it was common to hang them on the fireplace to dry after washing them, and since dampers had yet to be invented, the fireplaces were off-set from the chimney, allowing things to go up and down the chimney without landing in the fire….). The mystery caller vanished into the shadows. With this as a dowry, the oldest daughter was quickly married-off to a good man. The event became the talk of the town. “Who was that masked man???” When the next daughter came of age, the event was repeated, and now the town had the worlds first super-hero, complete with a secret identity. The “shadow” even expanded his rounds, since he was out anyway, and began dropping small gifts and goodies down the chimneys of under-privileged children’s homes, and others in need. The father of the daughter was determined to discover the identity of this anonymous benefactor, so when his third daughter came of age, the man hide out on the roof, and caught Nicholas in the act. He invited him in, and gave him refreshments, some food, and his undying gratitude. Word spread like wildfire through the Christian community of Bishop Nicholas, and his unselfish deeds, and even reached the newly converted Emperor Constantine. The Emperor was so impressed that he assigned Bishop Nicholas to the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, which was responsible for creating the New Testament, the Nicene Creed, and the Catholic Church. Bishop Nicholas is also believed to be the author of the Holy Trinity Doctrine.

Nicholas passed away in 343 AD, and was declared a Saint by the new Catholic Church. Miracles continued to be attributed to him (and still are). Although he was originally buried in Myra (now Demne, Turkey), his body was later moved to Bari, Italy. His work lives on with the tradition of the Christmas stockings, and Saint Nicholas on the roof-tops. As Christianity spread to the Netherlands, and Scandinavia, the spelling was slightly changed to Santa. Nikolaus, and eventually shortened by Scandinavian and Dutch immigrants to America to Santa Clause. In the United Kingdom, St. Nicholas was refereed to as St. Nick, or more often “Father Christmas”.

So how did this extremely brave and dedicated Catholic Bishop evolve into a jolly, rotund sled-pilot, and keeper of flying reindeer and elves? You can blame modern commercialism for this one. Clement Clark Moore was born in the Hudson Valley, just outside New York City, in 1779. He graduated Columbia College and was an expert on languages, namely Greek, Latin, Hebrew, French and Italian. He wrote the first lexicon on the Hebrew language (Hebrew-English translator). This resulted in his being appointed a Professor of Oriental and Greek Languages at the Episcopal General Theological Seminary of New York. He continued with many famous translated works, and even authored political pamphlets advocating a negotiated end to the War of 1812.

Sometime around 1822, Clement decided to document the rich Dutch Christmas folklore of the area with a poem, and illustrations. The legend of Sinterklass ( which would translate as Santa Claus) was penned in a fairy-tale style, solely for the purpose of entertaining Moore’s children. To this effect, flying reindeer were added to the legend of Santa Clause bringing toys down the chimney. It was never intended for publication. His model for his version of Santa Claus was his portly, and ever-cheerful Dutch housekeeper, complete with a luxurious full white beard. He titled his poem A Visit From Saint Nicholas, and it was read aloud for the first time on Christmas, 1822. In 1823, a visiting rector’s daughter, Harriet Butler, ran across a copy of the poem and was so enchanted by it that she asked for a copy. She forwarded the copy anonymously (and without permission) to the editor of the Troy Sentinel newspaper, who immediately published it, without an authors credit, and re-named it as The Night Before Christmas. It was an instant hit, so much that other papers across the country also published it. Needless to say, when Moore found out his little poem was a national Best-Seller, he was flabbergasted, and would not even acknowledge authorship until 1838. In 1848, Moore authorized a fully-illustrated version of the poem to be published, with the illustrations done by T.C. Boyd. The red suit and elves were still to come, but when Henry Onderdonk published this version, America got it’s first look at our modern Santa Claus, the jolly, full bearded, fat man.

The next stage in the development of the modern Santa Claus was the red suit. In 1915, Haddon Sundblom was commissioned to do a poster of Santa wearing White Rock Sodas colors of red and white. It was a poster advertising their bottled mineral water. It was so successful that Coca Cola bought the rights to the image, and had Norman Rockwell do a 1930s poster for them. This immortalized the red suit.

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Mrs. Clause, the elves, and the North Pole were all introduced in the 1939 booklet Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, written by Robert L. May, and published by Montgomery Wards. The song Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer was written by radio producer, and decorated WW-II combat veteran Johnny Marks, in 1949. When beloved Singing-Cowboy-star Gene Autry released his version of the song on Nov. 25th, 1949, it shot to the #1 position on Billboard Charts. Although it has since been recorded by other big-name artists such as Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, the Cadillacs, Red Foley, Spike Jones, and even Alvin and the Chipmunks, Autry’s version is the only one to ever hit #1 on the charts.

There remains one loose end to tie up. Who was Kris Kringle? Actually, the name is an evolution of the Germanic Christkindl, meaning the Christ-Child. In German culture, Christkindle was the symbol of the giving of gifts and charities. In the New World, German immigrants often inter-married with English settlers, and the term Christkindl became intertwined with Saint Nicholas. Eventually, it was anglicized into Kris Kringle. It was made official in the short story Miracle On 34th Street, by Valentine Davies, and made into a movie in 1947. In it, the Santa Claus refers to himself as Kris Kringle.

Now you know the real truth about Santa Claus, so there is no need to tell your children “there ain’t no Santa Claus”, because there really is. Tell them the real story.

Could Ghosts Actually Exist?

The question of survival beyond death has plagued mankind even before we were mankind. There is archeological evidence that Neanderthals buried their dead with flowers, and personal effects, uniformly organized. This indicates at least some belief in a life after death. Stories of visitations of deceased persons are present in every culture, as far back as can be determined, and even make up the basis for most religions. Of all the creatures on planet Earth, we seem to be the only ones with a knowledge and concern of our own mortality. And it is an extremely big concern, if the Funeral Industry, and religion are any measure of it. And what about the pyramids? We spend a lot of time worrying about what happens to us after we die.

If any part of us does survive the death experience, then what happens? Can we come back and interact with the living? Many people think so. The séance business is a very profitable one. So is the funeral business, and religion is the biggest selling product there is. The entire premise of religions is concerned with what happens after you die, whether it is cohabitation with 1000 virgins (how would you know??), or walking streets paved with gold. Is it really possible that some part of us survives after the body dies?

Science is pretty well convinced that the brain operates on bio-electricity, which is a form of energy. Any physics major will tell you that energy cannot be created, or destroyed, only manipulated from one form to another. So the question is whether or not our consciousness is a function of this bio-electricity, and what happens when the lights go out.

I am a Paranormal Investigator, and I have been on many ‘investigations’. I am the type normally referred to as a ‘Skeptic’, or ‘De-Bunker’. I don’t necessarily disbelieve, but I do require scientific evidence. Most of the teams I have been out with were severely lacking in both scientific knowledge, and methodology. Here is a typical investigation; a group of 3 or 4 members of a supernatural organization, who are inevitably clerks, waitresses, office workers, and other non-scientific vocations, with little or no science education or background, will show up with camcorders, EMF meters, and digital voice recorders to capture EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena). They set cameras up, take pictures of ‘orbs’, and talk to inanimate objects to record the audible ‘response’. I will address each procedure separately. First, according to standard scientific methodology, you have to have evidence that can be duplicated, or observed under controlled conditions. Next, the ‘evidence’ you obtain has to be established as ‘evidence’ for that particular claim, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. And all natural sources must be ruled out. None of the activities of any group I have been out with has satisfied any of this criteria. Recording images on a camcorder is not evidence of anything other than a video was taken (the same problem with videos of cryptids). Readings on an EMF meter (which measure Electromagnetic Fields), mean nothing, because the planet is full of fluctuating EMF fields naturally, in addition to emissions from lights, wiring, appliances, etc… And they move around. Likewise with ‘cold-spots’, because there are moving temperature fluctuations everywhere. None of this is proof of any spiritual presence. As for EVPs, they are nothing. Sensitive audio equipment picks up the fluctuating ‘white-noise’ background that is present everywhere, and is a function of the earths magnetic fields. The ‘voices’ that investigators pick out of the recordings are just like most ghost sightings. The brain is evolved to put all incoming stimuli into recognizable patterns, which is why you see ‘faces’ in the clouds, etc…. Your ears do the same thing. And the ‘orbs’ that show up on photographs are simply a well known quirk of photography, where the camera lens picks up light reflected off of dust particles, and moisture. I have never experienced anything in a ‘haunted place’ that could not be attributed to natural causes.

On the scientific side, especially from a physics point of view (physics controls everything in the real world), there is no mechanism that we currently understand that would allow what goes on while you are alive, to continue after the body’s systems have shut down. At least, not in this world. And, ghosts seem to be able to defy the laws of physics, which is impossible. You cannot walk through walls, then be able to physically throw something. And you cannot be incorporeal, yet have a set of working vocal cords. And, why are ghosts always clothed? Clothing cannot have a ‘spirit’, so how does that work? Shouldn’t ghosts, if they were real, appear au naturál?

There is evidence, however, that ‘ghosts’ may be a psychological phenomenon. It is an established fact that what a person sees is often dependent on what their expectations were at the time. A great example of this was the famous Flatwoods Monster incident. In 1952, in Braxton County, West Virginia, a meteor, picked up on radar, and seen in three states, crashed near the town. Thinking it was a UFO, a group of people went to the site, and were scared half to death by a 10-foot tall ‘alien’ with a roundish face. An investigation verified (through owl droppings at the exact site) that what they saw was just a large owl sitting on a tree limb. But the people were expecting a UFO, so it must have been an alien. Most ghost sightings can be attributable to the same cause.

I would really like to be able to believe in ghosts, because they are fun. Ghost stories have provided people with many memorable camp-fire weekends. We love to be scared, as long as the danger is only perceived, and not actual. But, sadly, there is no evidence that ghosts are anything more than creations of our own imaginations. When we all cross that Great Barrier, it will be a one-way journey. Whatever happens on the ‘other-side’ will stay there.

In the meantime, we can still enjoy the thrill of ‘things that go bump in the night’. There is nothing wrong with a little imagination.