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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Earworm of the Afternoon -- War on Drugs

 I mentioned in a post recently that I could count the number of conservative Senate Democrats that concern me on three fingers (and really, I can only think of two of them off the top of my head right  now). One of those is Joe Manchin, from West Virginia, who has been playing footsie with Trump since the election.

Now, it's understandable that in an Appalachian state like West Virginia, which has a massive opioid problem, the one of its Senators would call to do something about it. After all, it turns out that the makers of said pills have been deluging the state's population with them:

The trail of painkillers leads to West Virginia's southern coalfields, to places like Kermit, population 392. There, out-of-state drug companies shipped nearly 9 million highly addictive — and potentially lethal — hydrocodone pills over two years to a single pharmacy in the Mingo County town.

A normal outside observer would look at the problem and wonder why the drug companies are selling so many hydrocodone pills to Kermit. But Manchin can't do that, because, as Charlie Pierce (Merry, X-mas, Charlie!) notes, he's far from an outside observer:

What the senator fails to realize is that a great number of the people profiting from this drug trade, and a great number of people who have fallen into addiction, are white people, and we can't have a "war on drugs" in this country unless we can throw a disproportionate number of black and brown people into prison forever. Rounding up nice white executives, and nice white doctors, and nice white suburban children who chase their Oxy with 40s of Olde English on a Saturday night? My dear young man, it simply is not done. Of course, if the senator really wants to start a war on these particular drugs, he won't have to look far to find targets of opportunity.
Manchin's daughter, Heather Bresch, is the CEO of Mylan, which produces opioids. His campaign committee also has received about $180,000 in donations from the pharmaceuticals/health products industry between 2011-2016, according to Open Secrets, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that keeps track of money in politics.
Christmas Eve around the Manchin hearth ought to be a blast.
So what does Manchin point to instead?

"We need to declare a war on drugs," Manchin told CNN's Jake Tapper on "The Lead" when asked what President-elect Donald Trump should do to combat the situation.
"We've got some places that are really having some success rates, Jake, and most of them are run by reformed addicts," Manchin said.
As an example, the senator said children who began using recreational marijuana eventually could progress to their parents' prescriptions and then later routinely take heroin. "It's just been unbelievable," Manchin said, adding that opioid pills are prescribed "like M&M's."
As a U.S. Attorney in Alabama in the 1980s, Sessions said he thought the KKK "were OK until I found out they smoked pot.” In April, he said, “Good people don't smoke marijuana,” and that it was a "very real danger" that is “not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized.” Sessions, who turns 70 on Christmas Eve, has called marijuana reform a "tragic mistake" and criticized FBI Director James Comey and Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch for not vigorously enforcing a the federal prohibition that President Obama has called “untenable over the long term.” In a floor speech earlier this year, Senator Sessions said: "You can’t have the President of the United States of America talking about marijuana like it is no different than taking a drink… It is different….It is already causing a disturbance in the states that have made it legal.”
 Ready to go back to the '80s? What a great time that was.


Won't it be dull when we rid ourselves
Of all these demons haunting us
To keep us company

Won't it be odd to be happy like we
Always thought we're supposed to feel
But never seem to be

Hard to admit I fought the war on drugs
My hands were tied and the phone was bugged
Another died and the world just shrugged it off