Why Not Fat and Happy?

Why Not Fat and Happy?
Posted by FoM on February 12, 2000 at 08:22:57 PT
Abroad at Home By Anthiny Lewis
Source: New York Times
There is a curious thing about the John McCain phenomenon. Populist campaigns usually arise from adversity. In this time of unprecedented prosperity, one would expect voters to be fat and happy, contented with the status quo. Why, then, are so many turning to an iconoclast, a candidate who promises to shake things up? 
The answer must be that a good many Americans, however full their pockets, are discontented with something. And the something is evident: the political system. Fewer and fewer people vote: in 1996, under half of those of voting age. Why vote when you feel that policy is shaped not by your votes but by money? One observer summarizes it this way: "The economic boom of the 90's has masked a looming national crisis: a corrupt political system that auctions off public policy to the highest bidder and leaves the overwhelming majority of Americans feeling alienated from their own government." That quotation is from a new book by Arianna Huffington, "How to Overthrow the Government." Yes, the same Arianna Huffington who has so pungently argued conservative views. Her rhetoric is still pungent, but her viewpoint seems to have undergone a sea change. The book is devastating on the flood of money into our politics. There is a certain irony in that: Her former husband, Michael, spent $28 million of his family fortune in an unsuccessful race for the Senate in 1994. She notes wryly that Al Checchi spent $40 million trying to be governor of California in 1998 -- "thankfully, for those of us named Huffington, replacing Michael Huffington as the poster child of campaign profligacy." Lobbying is another of her targets. She describes Dwayne Andreas, chairman of Archer Daniels Midland, as "Mr. Special Interest" for his success in getting federal subsidies for ethanol. He and ADM have given more than $3 million to the parties in soft money, and they get $300 million a year in ethanol subsidies. "How this differs from Al Capone buying off judges in Chicago is a topic worthy of debate in civics class," Ms. Huffington writes. But the book is not only about money in politics. Ms. Huffington attacks what she calls "the culture of greed" that makes the rich much richer while "more children are homeless than at any time since the Great Depression." She savages Republican attempts to abolish the estate tax for the sake of the rich. What has happened to Arianna Huffington? I asked her that question when she was here in Boston the other day. Writing a column about politics as she does, she said, brought her "face to face with distorted priorities, the abuse of language, the neglect of poverty as a social issue. I couldn't bear to hear them going on about our prosperity." The most striking thing in the book, for me, is Ms. Huffington's discussion of what she calls the two greatest crime problems, "the exploding prison population and the failure of the war on drugs." The priorities of the drug war, emphasizing criminal prosecution and attempts to cut off drug supplies, are all wrong, she argues. Supplies and use have increased, and will not go down until the priority is shifted to education and treatment of addicts. Coupled with the excesses of the drug war is the policy of mandatory minimum prison sentences for even trivial drug offenses. The policy is not only inhumane, she says, but has created an enormous social problem: two million Americans in prison, where they are being brutalized. The drug war and long prison sentences are indeed a disaster for our country. Yet it seems impossible to do anything about them. Politicians are afraid to do anything that would make them vulnerable to charges of being "soft on crime." That is the problem that Ms. Huffington's book underlines. We have a democratic system of government, but it seems unable to respond to urgent needs. The power of money prevents economic and political reform. In California the prison guards' union is so powerful that even the most sensible criminal law reform is blocked -- because the union wants more prisons and more prisoners. What will break us out of the stalemate? In a democracy the answer is leadership. I have no idea whether Senator McCain would look at the drug war or poverty or health care and say it is time for a change. But people are looking for someone who might have the courage to challenge the profound flaws in the status quo. Published: February 12, 2000Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company Arianna Huffington News Articles & Web Site:Arianna Online This Is Two-Tiered Justice's Cocaine Question and the Drug War New Callousness, Cash And Campaign 2000
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Comment #3 posted by jdd on February 12, 2000 at 18:52:16 PT
Screw McCain! Our wonderful news media tries to portray him as an 'outsider'. Give me a break. This guy is a Senator, for God's sakes!! He's about as 'inside' as one can get. His "campaign finance reform" is a farce. While he trumpets corruption in campaigning, he himself is violating the very laws he says he wants to reform. As far as the 'war on drugs' is concerned, just remember that he is a big-government republican, so he will, for sure, keep the 'war' going because it is another social program. We need LESS government interference in our lives, not the same, or even more. I'm sorry, but even the Green party will not guarantee that. The only party that really wants the government out of our lives is the Libertarian Party. Less government means more liberty! Let freedom grow!!
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Comment #2 posted by Tom Paine on February 12, 2000 at 13:16:26 PT
McCain bares his GOP drug warrior teeth. Press.
This is also on the web elsewhere, too. CLICK below!: McCain bares his GOP drug warrior teeth. True colors emerge! Press articles. John McCain, possibly the Republican nominee for U.S. President.Just another far-right GOPer! Another fanatic Republican drug warrior. With a smiley face as he puts your ass in jail. You know the similarity between a politician and a shark? They both show their teeth when they smile... :-)We need a real democracy in this nation. Where are the Greens in Congress? Why don't we have proportional representation? Why don't we just start another revolution!Battle in Seattle!=============================CAMPAIGN 2000: Crime and drugs the topic in South Carolina By Yvonne Abraham, Boston Globe Staff, February 9, 2000.COLUMBIA, S.C. - Having chosen to forgo its primary, Senator John S. McCain didn't have to stump for votes in Delaware yesterday. Instead, he took advantage of his morning alone in South Carolina to deliver a speech on his crime policies to students at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. McCain lambasted the Clinton administration for what he said was its abdication of its responsibilities in the war on drugs, and he called for a national program in which veterans would mentor troubled teenagers. ''Crime is not a price we pay for freedom,'' McCain said. ''It is freedom's enemy. And, as president, I will fight that enemy with every fiber of my being.''McCain continued to fight a different kind of war yesterday, with Texas Governor George W. Bush. The two have been wrangling for days, via surrogates and in television advertisements, over whose tax policy is better for the nation, who was more like President Bill Clinton, and who went negative first. But that battle was not in evidence at the academy, where a few hundred brown-uniformed students sat politely for McCain's prepared speech, which he delivered without opening jokes or closing questions, which made it a rare occasion for McCain. In his speech, McCain pledged to provide police forces with more resources and personnel. He proposed that most assets seized in federal arrests be kept in crime- and drug-plagued communities to aid them with prevention efforts. He urged a strong, uniform ratings system for all kinds of entertainment be introduced to help parents keep their children away from violent content. And he said, as he often has, that computers in public libraries should be strictly controlled to prevent children from accessing violent or pornographic Web sites.But he reserved most of his remarks for the war on drugs, from which, he said, ''the Clinton administration has been AWOL. The bully pulpit is vacant,'' McCain said. ''The Oval office is merely an echo chamber when it comes to the drug issue. What does it say to brave American heroes working to protect our kids from drug pushers when the vice president responds to the question of whether he inhaled by saying `as deeply as I could?'''McCain was apparently referring to allegations in a new book that Gore smoked marijuana regularly after returning from the Vietnam War. Gore has said he used marijuana sparingly. McCain called for a redoubled commitment to Nancy Reagan's ''Just Say No'' campaign, a reassessment of the drug budget to focus attention on rural areas, where he said the problems of crime and addiction had been neglected, and he stressed the importance of treatment programs for nonviolent, first-time drug offenders.Most significantly, McCain proposed that part of his war on drugs be fought by veterans, ''a great and untapped national resource.'' He proposed that they become part of a national program to mentor troubled teenagers, and teach them ''discipline, civic responsibility, integrity, and character.'' ================================
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Comment #1 posted by Tom Paine on February 12, 2000 at 12:03:35 PT
McCain Unveils Anti-Drug Plan In South Carolina.
US SC: McCain Unveils Anti-Drug Plan In South CarolinaURL: Jane Marcus Pubdate: Tue, 08 Feb 2000 Source: Reuters Copyright: 2000 Reuters Limited. Author: James Pierpoint MCCAIN UNVEILS ANTI-DRUG PLAN IN SOUTH CAROLINA COLUMBIA, S.C. (Reuters) - Sen. John McCain, returning to the state that is vital to his Republican presidential campaign, on Tuesday called on fellow veterans and teenagers to join him in a war against drugs. Speaking to students at South Carolina's Criminal Justice Academy, the senator from Arizona pledged to form a nationwide program to pair troubled teens with veterans who could teach them "the virtues of discipline, civic responsibility, integrity and character." McCain, a former Navy pilot and Vietnam War POW, also vowed to incorporate the war on drugs into his foreign policy, particularly to cut off the supply of cocaine and battle "narco-terrorists" in Colombia. "The biggest threat in our hemisphere is no longer communist dictators, but drug lords trafficking in death, civil disorder and destruction of democracy -- financed with U.S. drug profits," he said. McCain delivered his address as he resumed campaigning in South Carolina, where has climbed from more than 20 percentage points behind Texas Gov. George W. Bush to running neck-and-neck in advance of the crucial Feb. 19 primary. MAP posted-by: Derek Rea 
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