Vox Populi
A Letter to the Editor

Don't know your political affiliation, but wanted to respond to your AWOL Story
Friday, October 13, 2000

(Note: This Vox Populi refers to Mr. Berg-Andersson's 12 October 2000 Commentary LET THE NASTINESS BEGIN! As Bush and Gore Debate like Perfect Gentlemen, the Political Worms crawl out from under the Rocks - Ed.)

No less journalistic "luminaries" than Joe Conason and ABC News have also carried the story that you're so contemptuous of.


Personally, I don't care whether Bush dodged the draft, but I wonder if you can tell me with a straight face that you think that equal disinterest would be applied to Mr. Gore (should he have done likewise) regarding his national service, or regarding cocaine use (and of course, we don't know when Mr. Bush "stopped" using cocaine, but it would be nice to know if he actually stopped before he started imprisoning people in Texas for mandatory terms for minor possession. It would be interesting to know why Mr. Bush has a brand new driver's license---no other Texas governor has--Mr. Clinton didn't. Mr. Gore didn't.

Many of us are not so much pushing a story, but wanting to know why the same scrutiny to such allegations don't receive the same crack investigatory work we all witnessed when the national press corps descended on Sarasota to see whether a young lady still stood at her desk, and checking with veterinarians and mothers-in-law to see if indeed, they took a common arthritis information.

It's not the story, sweetie, it's the media's focus on minutiae as opposed to possible sedition, or worse to my mind, Bush's indifference to young (mostly black) men who shared his love for white powder, currently serving 10-20 in Huntsville.

It's the honor and integrity issue---the one Mr. Bush is currently running hard on.

Aisling Donnal

Mr. Berg-Andersson responds:

Your subject header started off with "Don't know your political affiliation...": My political affiliation is "None of the above"; I view Political Parties as distorters of Consensus and dampeners of Democracy and, as a result, potential threats to Liberty. Political Parties are unnecessary evils which we have been socialized into thinking are necessary in order to further political discourse-- of course, largely by the Parties themselves (little else so well explains why- for example- those deliberative bodies known as National Conventions- which deliberate on nothing- are so closely guarded by the major Party hierarchies). "The Green Papers" is a non-partisan site and I- in my Commentaries- am able to adhere to its policy of non-partisanship because I have no Party of my own to promote. However, like any good, thinking Citizen, I do have personal positions on the issues (or, at times- as in my piece on which you comment- the "made up issues") of the day and my Commentaries, rather obviously, reflect those positions.

Your comment that you "wonder if you can tell me with a straight face that you think that equal disinterest would be applied to Mr. Gore (should he have done likewise) regarding his national service, or regarding cocaine use" is interesting, though hardly enlightening- for I had already made it very clear in the second paragraph of my most recent Commentary that I would not be able to tell you "with a straight face that equal disinterest would be applied to" the Vice President. As I wrote- "I have little doubt that a similar 'Man of the Pleistocene' mentality, of which 'tidbits' have been seen in the posted rantings of Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson on the RNC site over the past year or so, is- even as I type this- filtering through the GOP down to the bottom-feeders among that Party's supporters who will, I can predict without too much fear of being wrong, send me similar garbage." But what exactly is your point here? That those who would oppose Vice President Gore's bid would be irresponsible, therefore it was okay for "TomPaine.com" to be as irresponsible as they- if not more so? Only if that is your position does this comment have any relevancy to my most recent Commentary!

Let's now turn to the issue of Society's response to the problem of Drug Abuse in and of itself (and, regardless of where people stand on this issue, most thinking people do regard this as a problem: I doubt very many think it's a really good idea for people to poison their own bodies and feel "loopy" most- if not all- of the time; one of the major fallacies promoted by those who oppose either Decriminalization or Legalization is the notion that those who want to promote treatment in lieu of punishment- or even not punish in the first place- are, for the most part, a bunch of "freaks" high on ingested chemicals almost all day: if that were true, those favoring Decriminalization or Legalization would not be particularly effective- let alone coherent!- in arguing their position).

You wrote the following: "and of course, we don't know when Mr. Bush 'stopped' using cocaine, but it would be nice to know if he actually stopped before he started imprisoning people in Texas for mandatory terms for minor possession". Firstly, I find it rather interesting that you, at least at first, used the word "stopped" within quotation marks; why did you do so? I would have to assume because you don't know whether he ever STARTED any more than I do (though you- like myself- obviously think he did start at some point). Secondly, however- and more importantly to this discussion, does the fact Governor Bush either "stopped" or didn't "stop" using cocaine have any relevance to the desirability or efficacy of putting people in prison for minor possession of that drug? You, obviously, think so; I, on the other hand, think that thinking so is just plain silly: here's why-

I assume that Governor Bush is not- by executive fiat, like some "Caesar Come Lately"- throwing people into prison; I assume that there is a statute on the books in the State of Texas that allows the sentencing of people to prison for minor possession in the manner you have described it. I further assume that this statute was not placed there merely by Executive Order but by the Texas Legislature- the duly elected representatives of the people of the State of Texas; I also assume that there was some kind of judicial proceeding- in the District Courts of Texas, that State's court of general trial jurisdiction- in which defendants were convicted and sentenced under this statute and that these defendants were represented by counsel and had right of appeal through the appellate courts of the State of Texas. Finally, I assume that the prosecution- under the control of the District Attorneys of the State- could be subject to the oversight of the State Attorney General, who is duly elected separately from the Governor. In other words, I don't see- in this admittedly cursory outline of Texas Law and Criminal Procedure- any evidence that Governor Bush himself PERSONALLY "started imprisoning people in Texas for mandatory terms for minor possession".

I also presume that, both times he was sworn in as Governor, George W. Bush took an oath of office in which (and I don't have a current copy of the Constitution of the State of Texas in front of me right now, though I have read the relevant sections in earlier versions of the document over the years) he swore to uphold the Constitution of the State of Texas and that he also swore to faithfully execute- that is, enforce- that State's laws. Are you suggesting that- because Governor Bush might have used cocaine in his past (putting aside the fact that he might not have "stopped")- he should not enforce this statute, that he- therefore- should violate his oath of office? (I get it! If Bush used cocaine, he should be scored for putting people in prison but he also should be scored for violating his oath of office if he does NOT put those same people into prison!! Does that really make any sense??)

Should a Governor who is an alcoholic- or who once had been an alcoholic- not enforce a state's laws against Driving While Intoxicated because he/she him or herself has abused- or may still abuse- alcohol? Likewise, taking this position to its logical conclusion, are you also suggesting that a parent of two teenaged children- a parent who, in his or her own teenage years, once used illegal drugs (whether or not he or she still uses them)- should NOT do everything in his or her power to keep his or her kids off of illegal drugs if he or she thinks it would be harmful to them? For that is precisely what you are suggesting, lest you wish to appear hypocritical. So, the Governor's personal behavior has absolutely nothing to do with "the honor and integrity issue---the one Mr. Bush is currently running hard on" (though, as I said in my most recent Commentary, his military record- but only as a MILITARY RECORD, not as a vehicle for merely attempting to discern his alleged past illegal drug use- is, in fact, "fair game" in this political campaign, and for the reasons I outlined): a dishonorable parent would be expected to do their utmost to raise honorable children and a dishonorable Governor- or even President (I, perhaps, need not mention one Bill Clinton and one Monica Lewinsky- to take just one example)- would be expected to, nevertheless, enforce honorable laws and fight to repeal dishonorable laws (within, of course, the caveat that the terms "dishonorable" and "honorable" as applied to Law are, at best, mostly relative).

But, more to core of what I wrote in my Commentary of 11 months ago (from which I freely quoted in my most recent piece), is this- and I quote myself yet again: "the issue of past drug use by candidates for high office is totally irrelevant to how I, for one, choose my Presidents: at the same time, and rather unfortunately so, it has become an issue despite such irrelevance. Moreover, it is just further evidence of the sorry inability of Americans to hold an honest political debate about drugs, legal as well as illegal, and truly face the issue of substance abuse in this country; it is little wonder we have never been able to deal with the drug problem as we, instead, waste our time going through the trash heap of our politicians' pasts". IF, as you put it, "imprisoning people in Texas for mandatory terms for minor possession" is- indeed- bad policy, it is not bad policy because Governor Bush did or did not used cocaine; it is bad policy because it does little to treat the offender and make sure he gets off of and stays off of drugs, it is bad policy because it does not deter drug use in the non-criminal elements of Society, it is bad policy because- perhaps- it has racist overtones (or, as you put it, "Bush's indifference to young (mostly black) men who shared his love for white powder, currently serving 10-20 in Huntsville"... keeping in mind that you- no more than I- really know just how much love the Texas Governor even had of white powder in the first place!).

It does little good- and is of no help whatsoever- to the argument against such bad policy to, as you put it, "know when Mr. Bush 'stopped' using cocaine"- "to know if he actually stopped before he started imprisoning people in Texas for mandatory terms for minor possession". If it were demonstrated conclusively that Governor Bush were "clean"- had never used cocaine (though I doubt that most of those inordinately hung up on this issue of Mr. Bush's use/non-use would accept any such findings as genuine anyway)- would you then suddenly say 'oh, OK, then- railroad all the black cocaine-using defendants you want into Huntsville prison; sorry I even bothered you'? Hardly! So, your own position on the issue has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the Governor's behavior- present or past, nor should it- because, if the law you here decry is- in fact- bad policy, it would be bad policy regardless of what the Texas Governor did or did not do. In the end, the reason "why the same scrutiny to such allegations" doesn't "receive... crack investigatory work" by the working press may simply be that it doesn't deserve to.

Finally, though, let's take yet one more look at those who have subjected these allegations to such scrutiny and, further, how it was presented by the e-mailing to me yesterday by "Democrats Press". The "TomPaine.com" 'Update' I quoted from- which formed the core of that e-mailing- had the following (allegedly) logical sequence: a.) "'crucial evidence'" revealing "the true reason for Bush's suspension... 'is missing from the records' "; b.)"in April of 1972, 'all the overseas and stateside military services began subjecting a small random sample in their ranks to substance abuse testing for alcohol and drugs"; c.)"If Bush reported for his scheduled physical in August 1972, he could have been subject to selection for a random substance abuse test.' " HOWEVER, the author of this thing didn't know what that "true reason for Bush's suspension" was, anymore than I (or, I suspect, you) do ["Where did this report go?", the author opined. "Were incriminating documents pulled from his file during his tenure as governor?"- I don't know... however, more important to my point, neither does the author- but did he do anything further to enlighten me before I was sent this drivel?... NO!]; he is correct that- at a certain point in time- random drug testing was instituted by the military and that, had Governor Bush reported for his physical only a few months later [and note that the author doesn't even know THAT!!], he might have been randomly sampled [but, apparently, the author doesn't know whether he- indeed- was or what the results were]. "crack investigatory work"? Hardly! Shoddy journalism? DEFINITELY!

I am, above all, a Commentator- NOT a reporter: that is why all my written verbiage appears under the heading "Commentary" on the home page of "The Green Papers". I COMMENT (that is, express my own opinions) on what happened; I do not solely report what happened, though I do (as I did during the National Conventions and am currently doing during the Debates) utilize what happened (which I do fairly report) as a vehicle for expressing my opinions; the site's users (at least, judging from the tone and tenor of the e-mails I have been receiving for nearly a year now) apparently expect me to do so and to do so fairly (and anyone- such as yourself- who disagrees with my opinions is free to do so and send their disagreement in written form to be posted on "Vox Populi").

And, in my capacity as a Commentator on a web site dedicated to expounding primarily upon the political process itself, I have to make a determination as to how the way this information was presented impinges (in this case, negatively) upon that process and what that manner of presentation portends. It is obvious what the author of the "TomPaine.com" 'Update' forwarded by "Democrats Press" intended the recipients (including myself) to think: that Governor Bush failed a random drug test given him while he was in the military, that- as result- the Texan was suspended from the military for drug abuse and that this fact was covered up recently to facilitate the Republican's campaign for President. But the 'Update' contained not one scintilla of evidence that ANY of this was true- NOT ONE!

So, why did "Democrats Press" (which, I assume- though I don't know for sure- supports DEMOCRATS!) forward this information on (and I can't assume I was the only one who so benefited from "Democrats Press"'s "generosity") in the form in which it was presented. To reverse a possibly bad policy which sends mostly African-American young men to hard time down in Texas? NO! Rather it was sent out merely to attempt the undermining the efforts of Governor Bush to win the election without regard to the issue of Drug Policy in Texas (or, for that matter, Bush's Military Record in relation to his own proposed military policies nationally- for, despite the headline to the 'Update', this was not a Military Record story in the least, it was a DRUG story from the get-go! ... that is, even the 'Update''s headline was a product of journalistic fraud!!)

Political writer E.J. Dionne calls this type of politicking "the Politics of Moral Annihilation"- in which the goal is not merely to win an election, but to destroy one's opponent utterly. It is this very "Politics of Moral Annihilation" which poisons political discourse, alienates the average voter and actually plays into the hands of the professional politician; always remember the adage that, in Electoral Politics, "Low Turnout is the Politician's Best Friend". The type of "pushing the story" of which I wrote is just one tool of such "Politics of Moral Annihilation" (which is precisely why I used it to illustrate the technique in my most recent Commentary); but, as (alleged) Journalism, it is both reprehensible and unacceptable within the confines of political discourse in a Free Society and, once again, illustrates why a site like "The Green Papers" is so sorely needed to counteract those of you out there who practice it and, thereby, stray so widely from the fair and critical search for Truth that Journalism is supposed to be.

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