Jerry Ford has died. As always when you mention the life of Ford, the question of Nixon comes up. I have lots of beefs with Nixon’s career. This is my biggest. Using not just private henchmen, but the power of government to kidnap and injure your political opponents under color of law.
Nixon said to Elvis:
“You know,” Nixon said, ” those who use drugs are the protesters. You know, the ones who get caught up in dissent and violence. They’re the same group of people.”
Nixon said something similar to Haldeman on the Nixon tapes with the additional proviso that he thought pot was no worse than the martini he was drinking.
For Nixon, the drug war was never about drugs. It was a scheme to attack his political opponents based on some cultural characteristic.
It has always been thus. Alcohol prohibition was in part an attempt to destroy the Democratic Machine which organized in saloons. Laws against smoking opium were instigated because Chinese smoked opium. White folks, who traditionally drank opium had no such prohibition.
Sadly the pattern hasn’t changed much. Blacks, buy, sell, and use drugs in aproximate proportion to their population. About 12%. They make up something like 50 to 60% of the prison population.
I’m with Milton Friedman on this one. This whole stinking pile we call the drug war is totally immoral. It is about persecuting the unfavored, strictly power and control. Sadly we are getting that way with tobacco users as well. What? Forcing people out into the cold to have a smoke isn’t persecution? Give me a break.
Let me quote Professor Whitebread form the last link. From a speech he gave in 1995 when tobacco prohibition was just gathering steam. What he said seemed at least moderately fantastic at the time.

And so, yeah, we will continue the War on Drugs for a while until everybody sees its patent bankruptcy. But, let me say that I am not confident that good sense will prevail. Why? Because we love this idea of prohibition. We really do. We love it in this country. And so I will tell you what I predict. You will always know which ones are going out and which ones are coming in. And, can’t you see the one coming right over the hill? Well, folks, we are going to have a new prohibition because we love this idea that we can solve difficult medical, economic, and social problems by the simple enactment of a criminal law. We adore this, and of course, you judges work it out, we have solved our problem. Do you have it? Our problem is over with the enactment of the law. You and the cops work it out, but we have solved our problem.
Here comes the new one? What’s it going to be? No, it won’t be guns, this one starts easy. This one is the Surgeon General has what? –Determined — not “we want a little more checking it out”, not “we need a few more studies”, not “reasonable people disagree” — “The Surgeon General has determined that the smoking of cigarettes will kill you.”
Now, all you need, and here is my formula, for a new prohibition every time is what? We need an intractable, difficult, social, economic, or medical problem. But that is not enough. There has to be another thing. It has to divide by class — by social or economic class, between US and THEM.
And so, here it comes. ‘
You know the Federal Government has been spending a lot of money since 1968 trying to persuade us not to smoke. And, indeed, the absolute numbers on smoking have declined very little. But, you know who has quit smoking, don’t you? In gigantic numbers? The college-educated, that’s who. The college-educated, that’s who doesn’t smoke. Who are they? Tomorrow’s what? Movers and kickers, that’s who. Tomorrow’s movers and kickers don’t smoke. Who does smoke? Oh, you know who smokes out of all proportion to their numbers in the society — it is the people standing in your criminal courtrooms, that’s who. Who are they? Tomorrow’s moved and kicked, that’s who.
And, there it is friends, once it divides between the movers and kickers and the moved and kicked it is all over and it will be all over very shortly.

Cross Posted at Power and Control