by Greg Method
We are at war.
And no, I'm not referring to that ugly invasion in Iraq that has cost us nearly a thousand lives because Bush wanted revenge and oil and Cheney wanted something to masturbate to.
No, dear reader, I am speaking of a different kind of war.
A war on drugs.
Hey, stop laughing. America is going to get serious when it comes to the "War on Drugs."
How do I know this?
Because Bush said it tarnishes professional sports!
Gasp! Does he mean to say that professional athletes, men who have gone on to murder their wives and rape teenagers, have...taken drugs?? I...I'm stunned.
Boy, if Bush hadn't caught this problem in time, who knows what may have happened. Some guy may have broken Roger Maris's home-run record or something!
Seriously, Bush took precious time out of this year's rambling and incoherent State of the Union to address the problem of steroid use in sports, simply because he was worried that athletes are setting a bad example for children. This was shortly after he proposed $23 million in the federal budget to subject teenagers to humiliating drug tests involving public urination.
That seems to be Bush's main answer when it comes to the War on Drugs: throw more money at it...oh, and slip in some faith-based programs, too!
When Bush started talking about the problem of steroid use in professional sports, I thought I had momentarily fallen through a time portal. Since when did this become a hot topic again? What is this, 1988?? I felt like I was watching a sitcom episode that takes place "in the past," during which time there is of course the obligatory convoluted dialogue that "predicts" things that were to come (usually such lines revolve around the Internet and cell phones, because after all not only have those been the only two advances in American life, but they were also the only things people talked about back then!).
Sheesh, Junior, you're only about two decades behind in making people give a flyin' crap about this.
Bush's War on Drugs is nothing but a farce. He believes success lies in guarding the Southwest border ("coincidentally" where illegal immigrants from Mexico cross to enter the United States), sending troops to Colombia to destroy the drug supply (to hell with the effects to that country's economy), locking up first-time cocaine offenders possessing less than one gram for 180 days, and of course lots of church.
How can we possibly take a president's drug policy seriously when the only prominent person who's been arrested under it is Tommy Chong??
I guess my biggest problem with Bush's drug stance is that he's such a goddamn hypocrite. Here we have an admitted alcoholic and a strongly suspected cokehead, and he's spent millions of dollars to send users to jail. They aren't all criminals. They're people with addictions, like he admitted to having. For whatever reason, he's determined to make people pay dearly for the same problems he had thirty years ago. Oh no, he doesn't have issues.
It would be like Laura Bush enforcing vehicular-homicide laws.
Now, it has never been proven that Bush had a cocaine addiction, but it is very easy to connect the dots. Perhaps the biggest clue is that his story changed every time he was asked about it. During the 2000 election, his answers would go from no comment, to "when I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible," to denouncing the questions as irrelevant "rumors," and then back to no comment.
He has this really weird elitist idea about himself that he doesn't have to answer questions about his past. Well sorry to have to tell you this, Dubya, but when you run for the biggest job in public office, your life is now an open book. It's not "cute" that you won't answer the simple question of "Have you ever used cocaine?" In fact, it's downright revealing.
For some reason, he felt that talking about passing standard White House security checks should have been irrefutable evidence that he was clean...after all, that's something we've all been through. But even then, that answer changes. At first he said he could pass a security check dating back seven years (this was in 1999, making that 1992). That time frame changed to fifteen years (1984), and then to twenty-five years (1974...what the hell was he doing in the White House in 1974?!?). I realize that not everyone keeps accurate detail of the last time they had indulged in drugs, but seven years to twenty-five years is pretty big mofo-in' leap! It would be about as exact as saying "I haven't snorted coke since the last century."
Then, of course, there's his questionable attendance in the Texas Air National Guard. The official word from the Bush camp is that Georgie was suspended because he failed to complete his mandatory annual flight physical. Again, this was a mandatory physical, something that one has to take if they want to fly in the Air National Guard. George's lifelong dream was to fly a plane (god help us), so why exactly would he fail to show up for a mandatory physical, thus preventing him from achieving his lifelong dream?
Well, chew on this: The month that Bush did not show up for his physical, April 1972, was the same month all branches of the military started random substance-abuse testing. This was something the Pentagon had been planning since the end of 1969, and all branches were made well aware of it. What did Junior have to hide?
How ironic that Bush had avoided a possible random substance-abuse test in 1972, yet now he wants to subject high-school students to the very same procedure. Oh no, he's not a hypocrite.
One thing that Bush has in fact confirmed is that he, like everyone else in Bush family, was a big stinkin' drunk. In November 2000 he admitted that he was arrested for drunk driving in 1976 in Snob City...err, I mean Kennebunkport, Maine. Bush pleaded guilty, paid a $150 fine, and had his driving privileges temporarily suspended in Maine.
Yet, if he was so open about his DUI arrest, then why was his driver's license altered in March 1995? According to MSNBC, Bush was able to have the number on his license changed, thus giving him a "new," clean driving record. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles said that changing someone's license number is "highly unusual" and that it's only done when the license number can prove that someone was involved in illegal activities. But, Bush was open about his drunk-driving arrest, and being arrested on a DUI is hardly the worst crime in history anyway, so it just leads to the question...what else was he trying to hide?
Bush claimed that he stopped drinking in 1986 at the suggestion of Birdbrain...err, I mean his wife Laura. Yet now he credits his recovery with religion, and in fact much of his current drug policy involves people enrolling in faith-based programs.
In September 2002 Bush said, "You know, I had a drinking problem. Right now I should be in a bar in Texas, not the Oval Office. There is only one reason that I am in the Oval Office and not in a bar. I found faith. I found God. I am here because of the power of prayer."
This is currently the nut running the country! He's frickin' President Flanders.
Now, I am not religious in the traditional sense, and if someone wants to believe in something they can go right ahead as long as it doesn't get in my face. But time and time again it is has been shown that alcoholics only turn to religion out of desperation. It's because they're weak people, not because they've "seen the light" or have "found God." They need something to be addicted to, which is coincidentally enough why most churches hold alcohol and drug recovery meetings. Religion catches addicts on the rebound, period.
So no, I don't think Bush's fixation on Christianity is admirable or even normal. It's a sick obsession based on weakness, desperation, and addiction...and it's definitely not something anyone should based government policies on.
Yet, that's exactly what he wants to do. Last year he planned to spend $600 million to put addicts into faith-based organizations. This was the first major addition to his drug policy in almost three years, after proposing in October 2000 a $2.8 billion plan to curb drug use. And even this previous plan was just intended to piggyback on the drug policies originated by Bill Clinton's administration. So Bush's first original idea on the War on Drugs? Religion, varmints!
Dickhead Cheney isn't any better, either. He's also admitted to being arrested twice for drunk-driving while in his twenties, which I guess would have been around the 1890s.
Cheney's biggest claim to fame on the War on Drugs was in 1988 when he co-sponsored H.R.4470, a bill that rewarded people who ratted out their drug-selling friends.
So the position of the Bush/Cheney White House on drugs seems to be "Go to church and become a government snitch."
At least John Kerry realizes that you can still fight the War on Drugs without cramming church down addicts' throats or destroying the economies of foreign countries, as he has voted against both increasing penalties for minor drug offenses and invading international drug suppliers. He realizes that the problems lie with dealers and those who bring the drugs into the country in the first place.
Let's face it. Bush isn't going after drugs because he cares about the American people's health. If he truly did, then where is the "War on Tobacco?" The "War on Alcohol?" The "War on Fast Food??"
Not that I'm saying that any of those things should be banned either, of course, but aren't nicotine and Big Macs greater threats to our general health than dope and acid? And aren't alcohol, cigarettes, and fatty foods as addictive as any illegal drug?
With Bush in office, there will never be a "War on Alcohol" because that will make him look like an even bigger hypocrite. And there will never be a "War on Fast Food" because the HMOs are counting on everyone in this country to develop some form of diabetes.
There is of course a bigger reason why Bush will never launch a "War on Alcohol" or a "War on Fast Food"...he doesn't want to piss off the redneck assholes, err, I mean "Nascar dads." You know, those twangy, smelly, skinny guys in wifebeaters who pray to Dale Earnhardt's head while dragging black people along country roads in their pick-up trucks...you know, the "real Americans." Cripes, any "Nascar dad's" Saturday night depends on shutting the kids up with Happy Meals while he and the babysitter have beery sex.
But perhaps there is a key reason we will never see a "War on Tobacco," "War on Alcohol," or "War on Fast Food" from Bush, and it's quite the no-brainer. Because the tobacco, booze, and food industries are all in Bush's back pocket.
Let's first take a look at the alcohol industry. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, and based on the Federal Election Commission's figures for the 2003-2004 election cycle ending March 29, 2004, alcohol has given Bush $591,765. That's almost $600,000 for this election year alone! Bush has received more booze money this year than any other politician running for public office, at least five times more than the next runner-up, former presidential candidate Dick Gephardt ($116,750)...and ten times more than John Kerry has received ($57,525)!
I wish I could say this was anything new. In 2000 Bush again was the alcohol industry's favorite politician. The then-candidate received $421,343 from the sour-mash people, about one-and-a-half times as much as Dick Gephardt ($250,800), who was running for the House of Representatives at the time...and almost four times what Al Gore received ($110,800).
What does all this mean? Well, the alcohol industry has contributed $1,013,108 to Bush's two presidential campaigns. Yeah, Bush has received over one million dollars from the beer and wine companies...I guess they thought Bush was their spokesman or something.
And how about the deadly tobacco industry? This year, those wacky tobaccy people gave Bush $136,950. Granted that's not nearly as much as one may expect, but still more than they've given to any other politician this year, with North Carolina Republican senator Richard Burr coming in at the #2 spot having received $93,400. In fact, out of the top twenty-one politicians the tobacco companies have contributed money to this year, Bush is the only presidential candidate. Makes ya think, eh?
Tobacconists gave Bush a slight raise from what they gave in 2000, a still-concerning $91,125. That's still about $8,000 more than what they gave Virginia Republican senator George Allen ($83,300), thus making Bush tobacco's favorite politician for two presidential-election years in a row. And no, Al Gore didn't make that year's top twenty-one spots, either.
So over the course of two presidential campaigns, the tobacco industry has given Junior $228,075. Hardly a fraction of the billions of dollars tobacco products make each year, but still enough to make a redneck party boy with no morals drool.
You think you've seen some impressive numbers yet? $228,075 is peanuts compared to what ol' George II has received from the restaurant industry, which includes fast food. For this election alone, restaurants and bars have already given $598,050 to the Bush campaign...more than the alcohol companies have donated. This time John Kerry is in fact second behind George, as restaurants have contributed $62,750 to Kerry's campaign. Only $62,750, meaning that restaurants and bars have given Bush nine-and-a-half times more than they have given Kerry!
The food-service industry again beat ol' alcohol in 2000, giving Bush $481,048. Bush again was the industry's favorite. The second-highest donation went to none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton's New York Senate campaign ($117,290). Bush received over four times the amount Al Gore received from restaurants and bars ($110,550).
During both campaigns, the restaurant-and-bar industry has given Bush $1,079,098. That's $269,774.50 for each of his four years in office!
I could spend days going over each and every individual food industry, but keeping with the theme of addictions, let's just for a moment look at what the sugar companies have given to Bush. This year, the sugar industry has contributed $53,655 to his election campaign, a little over $12 thousand more than given to Florida Republican congressman Mark Foley. Again, Kerry didn't even crack the top-21 list.
Bush was once again the favorite in 2000, as the sugar industry donated $38,950 to him that year, giving Bush the slight edge over North Dakota Democrat senator Kent Conrad ($33,500). And once again, Gore didn't see enough sugar money to make the top twenty.
So from both 2000 and 2004, Bush has received a total of $92,605 from sugar companies.
Why do I bring up sugar? It's not that I'm against sweets (hell, I was eating a horrid ice-cream sandwich while writing the last paragraph), but obesity and diabetes are quickly becoming epidemics in this country, and a lot of that has to do with our addictions to sugar and fast food. When Bush has happily received $92,605 from one and over $1 million from the other, it kinda shows how seriously he'd address this problem, doesn't it?
So no, we'll never see Bush start a "War on Tobacco," a "War on Alcohol," or a "War on Fast Food" because the tobacco, alcohol, restaurant, and sugar industries have contributed a mind-boggling sum of $2,412,886 to his campaigns. It's clearly in his and his party's best interests to keep Americans fat, drunk, and coughing.
Ah, but what about the other end of spectrum? The health-services industry includes HMOs, and we all know how much in love they are with Republicans. Yet this year alone that industry has only donated $395,300 to Bush. Bush is still the favorite of the industry, receiving almost $300,000 more than Connecticut Republican congresswoman Nancy Johnson ($103,596) and six-and-a-half times more than John Kerry ($60,500).
In 2000, Bush was again the health-service industry's favorite, having received $264,158. This is over twice than what the companies gave their second-favorite candidate, the one and only Al Gore ($120,265).
In total, the health-service and HMO industry has only given Bush $659,458 for both of his campaigns, not even a third of what Bush has received from four industries that deal exclusively in vice and human overindulgence. I'm not saying whoever contributes the most money rules, but it's interesting to see that companies that specialize in addictions side with Bush more than companies that treat these addictions.
I don't think I'm revealing any big secrets when I say that the reason there even is a "War on Drugs" is because the government receives absolutely none of the money made from the sale of street drugs. You can bet that if there was a legal marijuana industry, the Republicans would not only bug it for contributions, but they'd also try to get Jimmy Buffet to sing at their convention!
How else does one explain the recent boom in legal drugs that target a very general group of people with very general symptoms? The government cannot break into the business of drugs people actually enjoy using for brief moments of escapism, so it has created a business of drugs people don't need. "Acid reflux disease" is just heartburn, yet there are currently dozens of drugs on the market targeted to treat this supposed "disease."
And what a business it is! Bush is the darling of the pharmaceutical industry, having received $708,289 this year, over five times more than the aforementioned Richard Burr has received ($123,335)...and over ten times what the industry has given John Kerry ($70,500).
By now it should come as no surprise that Bush was also the pharmaceutical industry's favorite in 2000, as the drug companies gave him a whopping $499,283. Slimey Utah Republican senator Orrin Hatch only received $391,324 to make the industry's #2 spot, while Al Gore received a meager $114,300. The industry spent a total of $230 million in 2000, which in addition to campaign contributions was also used to support its lobbyists in Congress and to produce print and television advertisements for its sleazy "front" group, Citizens for Better Medicare.
So, once again, during both 2000 and 2004 the pharmaceutical industry has contributed a jaw-dropping $1,207,572 to Bush's campaigns. And that's not even counting the $1.7 million the industry paid for Bush's inauguration ceremony!
Combining that first amount with what the alcohol, tobacco, restaurant, and sugar industries have donated, during his campaigns Bush has been given at the very least a stunning $3,620,458 to not only go after street drugs in favor of prescription drugs that overmedicated Americans don't need, but also to not focus on the other potentially harmful addictions that plague our society.
With Bush in office, it's a no-win situation. He receives over $2 million from industries determined to keep us unhealthy, all the while rambling about the "dangers" of something that many of us don't even indulge in.
I'm not saying we should ignore the problem of drug abuse, but we simply have bigger health concerns to deal with right now. Alcohol has caused more car crashes and rapes than all the street drugs combined, while lung cancer and diabetes are currently running neck-and-neck in a race of which will kill more Americans this year.
So, what are we supposed to do? I think I have an idea.
That's right, walk.
If we're going to give Bush his walking papers, then we may have to do some walking ourselves.
The next time you feel the urge to get a beer, buy some smokes, or have a donut, take a walk. And I don't mean join a scout troop and hike through Vermont. Just take a ten-minute walk somewhere, to the corner for example, and then of course walk back home.
Now, this will take a small amount of willpower from you, but it may just work. I doubt we'll cripple any businesses in the process, but if alcohol, tobacco, and sugar industries insist on supporting someone who's turning his back on this country's real health problems, then the least we can do is stop supporting those industries. And hey, we might all make ourselves a little healthier in the process.
And if someone asks you why you're walking, just say "To help get rid of Bush!" That person may give you a weird look, as if to say "What the hell does that mean?", but at least you're walking.
In the end, I thought back to what Bush was saying during the State of the Union about subjecting kids to drug tests...
"The aim here is not to punish children, but to send them this message: We love you, and we do not want to lose you."
In other words, "If you're gonna die, at least die from something I get a cut of."
Thankfully, Bush hasn't profited from walking...yet.
Contribution figures according to OpenSecrets.org
Link of the Month
"Our Nation's Comforter," the First Bush/Cheney Television Advertisement of the General Campaign