The Long View 2005-06-07: The New Jersey Primary, and Worse

Rofecoxib

Rofecoxib

This is a great quote:

When I was young, I was quite a prig about not using drugs, and I have not mellowed over time. On the other hand, I often shock people who know me with the argument that most drugs should be legalized, even for recreational purposes, simply because prohibition causes more trouble than it is worth. I have no opinion about the efficacy of medical marijuana, but I think it could never do as much harm as prescription blood-pressure medicine.

The problems with rofecoxib [trade name Vioxx] had hit shortly before John wrote this. I'm not sure that legalizing recreational drugs is a good idea, but I am at least willing to consider it, given the way in which prescription drugs overseen by otherwise responsible doctors have harmed the public too. With the ever increasing opioid overdoses in the US, we enjoy the worst of both worlds: legal and illegal drugs working together to really mess people up. 


The New Jersey Primary, and Worse

 

The party primary elections in New Jersey are today. Registered Republicans who have listed telephone numbers have been bombarded day and night, and sometimes in our dreams, by political telemarketing calls for one or another of the gaggle of people who are seeking the Party's nomination for the gubernatorial election in November. Many of the calls are from a roster of Formerly Famous People, such as Jack Kemp, Tom Keane, and Steve Forbes. Actually, I soon developed the habit of hanging up before I was told whom these people were endorsing, but most of them seem to be partial to Bret Schundler. Doug Forrester's ads tend to feature Ordinary Citizens and doting family members. The other five often endorse themselves. I am not sure that all their calls are recordings.

Walking to the polling place to vote this morning, I was interviewed by WPIX, the local television affiliate of UPN. Taken by surprise, I was quite unable make an apt allusion to Julius Evola, or even James Madison. I did mention property taxes, which seemed to be what the news lady wanted to hear.

When I voted, the polls had already been open for two hours, on as fine a late-spring day as you could ask for. I was voter number 6. The people are disenthused, I fear.

* * *

Meanwhile, I see that the United States Supreme Court, in Gonzales v. Raich, has held that the federal Controlled Substances Act does allow the federal government to prosecute the users of medical marijuana, even if the users have a valid prescription issued under state law.

The chief curiosity here is that the Controlled Substances Act is based largely on the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which allows the federal government to control the distribution of goods in interstate commerce. The Court held that power also justified the application of the Act to this situation, where the marijuana was homegrown and had not moved in commerce at all. This reasoning is not a novelty: the courts have long held that the federal government could regulate what farmers grow on their own land for their own use, on the theory that local production displaces goods from outside the state. That principle is probably necessary, but it still looks like an instance of coaxing a camel through the eye of a needle.

When I was young, I was quite a prig about not using drugs, and I have not mellowed over time. On the other hand, I often shock people who know me with the argument that most drugs should be legalized, even for recreational purposes, simply because prohibition causes more trouble than it is worth. I have no opinion about the efficacy of medical marijuana, but I think it could never do as much harm as prescription blood-pressure medicine.

Still, I have to say the Supreme Court majority was right: both the Controlled Substances Act and its application here are necessarily valid. Whatever doubts I might have had about the matter were dispelled by this bit of incoherence from Justice O'Connor's dissent from Justice Steven's majority opinion:

There is simply no evidence that homegrown medicinal marijuana users constitute, in the aggregate, a sizable enough class to have a discernable, let alone substantial, impact on the national illicit drug market --or otherwise to threaten the CSA regime.

If Congress has to present "evidence" to Justice O'Connor's satisfaction every time it passes a law, the Republic is doomed.

* * *

Speaking of formerly famous people, Mark Steyn has taken to prophesying that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton may well win the presidential election in 2008. In a column entitled Last Man Standing, he issues these oracles:

If the Democrats ever want to take back the White House, 2008 is their best shot. After the 2010 census, the electoral college apportionment for the 2012 Presidential campaign will reflect the population shifts to the south and west ...

Frankly, that sounds a little like the belief in the British Labour Party in the 1920s that the rise of the Party to the status of permanent governing party could be calculated with arithmetical certainty. After all, the electorate could grow only more working class over time, couldn't it? But let the point pass.

Bill Clinton was about as good a Democrat as you could get: he liked to tell friends he governed as an "Eisenhower Republican"...

Wasn't that how John Kerry during last year's election promised to govern? The leading sentiment within the Democratic Party now might be: "Let's give the real Left a chance."

As a rule, Governors make the best Presidential candidates...The Republicans do have a popular governor of a large state, but his name's Jeb Bush, and even loyal Baathists might have drawn the line at Saddam being succeeded by both Uday and Qusay. On the other hand, if Jeb wants to avoid being penalised by American distaste for dynastic succession, the 43rd President's brother running against the 42nd President's wife may be the most favourable conditions he'll ever get.

Jeb has said he will not run in 2008, and I see no reason to doubt him. Still, that is a good point: a Hillary candidacy would shortcircuit the nepotism issue.

You see that were are already well into the next election cycle? The presidency is becoming Ixion's Wheel.

* * *

Once again, let me repeat that I am attending the annual conference of the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations later this week, at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul in Minnesota, USA. The conference topic is Civilizations, Religions and Human Survival. I will post comments when I get back about the conference. My paper, "The Second Religiousness in the 21st Century," will appear online eventually, but the ISCSC might want first-publication rights for their journal, the Comparative Civilizations Review.

Finally, you are again invited to send money here to support this study of metahistory. That, and the Heineken Brewing Company, green jewel of the Dutch Empire.

Thanks!

Copyright © 2005 by John J. Reilly

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