I Get High With A Little Help From My Friends, Part 2, The Gore Years

Now it’s Al Gore’s turn in the drug policy spotlight. Again, since he’s been playing second banana to his boss these last eight years, we can only go on the administration’s record and on Gore’s promises made in the heat of a close campaign (in other words, it’s all pretty much bull puckey).

Let’s begin with what has happened in the old War on Americans Who Use the Wrong Drugs front.

The administration can be proud of itself on the number of arrests for drug law violations over these last eight years (although any real human being would be ashamed). The number of arrests have soared from 1,066,400 in 1992 to the amazing figure of 1,559,100 in 1998. ( 1 )

Now, one might question just how much safer these arrests made you and me. I mean, getting a million and a half drug dealers off the streets is a pretty big deal in any Republican’s wet dreams, wouldn’t you agree?

Well, here’s where it gets a bit more complicated. Consider this wee fact: in 1997, there were 1,583,600 drug offense arrests in the United States. Only 324,638 were for the sale or manufacturing of drugs, however. The rest, the astounding number of 1,258,962, were for the horrendous crime of simply possessing a drug that the government has deemed illegal.

Want another scary little statistic like that? How about the fact that the number of people arrested in 1992 for the sale or manufacturing of drugs, 338.049 was nearly exactly the same number as in 1997 but the number of arrests for the simple possession of drugs not acceptable to the government was only 728,351. In other words, the number of Americans who have had their lives ruined by the Clinton Administration’s idiotic continuation of the War on Americans Who Use the Wrong Drugs nearly doubled while the number arrested for sale or manufacture remained nearly even.

Okay, now we know that the administration that Gore served in was about as nasty and mean spirited as any Republican administration in the last couple of centuries.

How about the length of the sentences that these “criminals” received for ingesting the wrong drug, particularly as compared to other crimes? Well, in 1985, the average sentence for violent offenses was 131.2 months. That number dropped to only 92.3 months in 1995 (the last year that data is available). For drug offenses, though, the length of the average sentence soared from 57.5 months in 1985 to 85.4 months in 1995. ( 2 )

Okay, so does putting a million and a half human beings behind bars every year for using the wrong drugs having any effect on current statistics?

You make the decision.

Number of Americans over the age of 12 who have used drugs in the past month in
1992 - 12,000,000
1998 - 13,600,000

Drug usage by 13 & 14 year olds
1991 - 18.7%
1999 - 28.3%

Percent of teenagers who believe marijuana is harmful
1990 - 72%
1999 - 54% ( 3 )

Currently, 22,000,000 Americans have used cocaine with 1,000,000 regular users.

Heroin is used by 2,000,000 Americans with about 1,000,000 physically dependent.

Of 59,000,000 women of child bearing age, nearly 5,000,000 use illegal drugs. ( 4 )

In 1994, 13.3% of all adults aged 18 - 25 were current users of illicit drugs. By 1998, that number rose to 16.1%.

In 1998, 13,600,000 Americans were current users of illicit drugs, meaning that they had used a drug within the past thirty days.

Number of deaths due to an overdose of heroine in Florida during 1993 - 28

During 1998 - 206 (a 600% increase).

Number of drug related deaths in New Mexico during 1992 through 1994 - 317.

During 1995 through 1997 - 401. ( 5 )

Okay, so the administration’s War on Americans is a complete and utter failure when viewed through the precept of actual results.

Since Gore served the man who “feels your pain!”, perhaps there is some good news in the racial statistics on those in prison.

On June 30, 1999, an estimated 11% of all black males, 4% of all Hispanic males, and 1.5% of all white males in their twenties and early thirties were in prison or jail. Between 1990 and 1997 the number of black inmates serving time for drug offenses increased by 60%, while the number of white inmates rose 46%, and Hispanics by 32%.

In 1998, the percentage of drug users who were white was 72%, who were black was 15%, and Hispanic were 10%.

All major Western European nations’ incarceration rates are about or below 100 per 100,000. The United States, in 1999, recorded 375 black females per 100,000 and 4,617 black males per 100,000. For Hispanics, the numbers are 142 females per 100,000 and 1,802 males per 100,000. For white females, the numbers are 53 per 100,000 and 630 males per 100,000. (Land of the free, my ass!)

1,460,000 blacks out of a total voting population of 10,400,000 have lost their right to vote.

Even with equal levels of illicit drug use, black women are 10 times more likely to be reported to child welfare agencies for prenatal drug use. ( 6 )

So, it appears that Gore and his boss can’t quite force themselves to feel the pain of those POWs in the War on Americans Who Use the Wrong Drugs. How sad but how expected.

Okay, then we have to accept the fact that the War has been lost and move the nation towards that “Kinder, Gentler Nation” that Tumbleweed’s Daddy was so hot up about. Maybe Gore is intelligent enough to see the defeat for what it is and maybe he’s offering something new and progressive for the nation to take hold of on the ride across that “Bridge Into the Twenty-first Century” that his boss keeps ranting on about.

For that, let’s go directly to the horse’s mouth (yeah, that end) and see what he has to say for himself.

According to one link within his campaign’s web site, Gore promises to do even more of the same when he states that he “would increase the number of community officers and provide the police with new tools.” He would also, “...put 50,000 more community police officers in neighborhoods across the country.” Can you say “Occupying Force” boys and girls? I knew you could!

He claims that he would continue the same old - same old approach when he promises to, “... expand the number of drug courts and fight for tougher drug penalties.”

He promises something warm and fuzzy but basically meaningless in, “expand[ing] discipline and character education.” Whose style of “discipline” and whose defiintion of “character” is left for the listener’s own fantasies. ( 7 )

He wants to expand on the hateful and mean spirited programs designed by the Far Right that would, “Speed the administration of justice by funding increased prosecutors, defenders, and court support staff - along with use of the latest in technology and modern management techniques - to insure that criminal justice is swifter and more certain.” Now, is it just me or do the rest of you folks find something wrong with the idea that, when it comes to the future of a human being, that faster is better? Granted, it sounds good when you’re speaking at a crowd of fellow Nazis but in the real world faster means more mistakes and less time to prepare and amass whatever evidence and witnesses may be necessary to prove one’s innocence.

Gore, for some bizarre reason, even crows that, “he helped win enactment of the first federal death penalty in 30 years.” Why pushing a law to punish someone who kills by killing them is something to be proud of is beyond my little liberal/commie/bleeding heart sense of intelligence.

Employing the same media that has gotten him this far in the campaign (and paying them back with probably billions in procured air time) Gore wants to, “Expand the national media campaign started by General Barry McCaffrey targeted at deterring illegal drug use and provide funds for comprehensive drug education programs in schools.” Now, first, McCaffrey is and has been the poorest possible choice for his program in that he hasn’t heard the word “compromise” in his entire life (it may have been spoken but you can be certain he tuned it out of his “zero tolerance” brain). Secondly, for those of you who have had the opportunity to actually read the propaganda that the D.A.R.E. programs inflicts on your child’s mind, you know that this is an idea whose time passed many, many years ago.

In fact, Gore would DOUBLE the funds for Safe and Drug Free Schools (see above).

At last, way down near the end of this recipe for disaster, Gore finally gets something right. On page four of five on this page, he offers, “Provide greater availability of treatment options for youth.” Now, he fails to expand on that and say whether or not that treatment will be made available to all youths, including those arrested for possession of the wrong drugs or if he just means those very, very few who might decide to rat themselves out to their families and schools by inquiring about where, exactly, these treatments can be found. Will these treatment programs be a part of that expensive advertising program that Gore wants to gift his corporate media buddies with or will the child need to figure all that out for himself. Gore doesn’t bother to say. ( 8 )

Gore had an opportunity to answer a few positive questions from the fine, unbiased folks at Project Vote Smart but, probably because his answers will change according to the pooling data that shows what he’s supposed to believe today as opposed to yesterday, he refused to reply. You can still see what the Project Vote Smart folks concluded he would have probably answered using his past comments and policies. ( 9 )

So, gentle readers, what has all of this data proven in regards to what we can expect from Al Gore, the President?

Well, it shows that, like the data for Bush in Texas, things aren’t quite as rosy as they would like you to believe. Every important statistic concerning drug usage and drug sentencing and the like is going up, not down. More kids are trying drugs, more and more blacks are going to prison for possessing drugs and on and on. The War on American Who Use the Wrong Drugs is a dismal and complete and utter failure. The government lost, folks, but they still hold hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Americans as Prisoners Of War.

What does Gore offer as a solution to this national nightmare? Just more and more of the exact same policies and punishments that have been at the very core of the act of losing the war the first twenty times they were tried. Gore, like Bush, hasn’t had an original thought in his little head in years and, by God, he isn’t about to start now, either! On drugs, Gore is as inept and bankrupt as his mortal foe, Tumbleweed.

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Copyright 9/15/00