Society has a drug problem, if numbers like these are any indication (and they are). I mean, don't get me wrong, drugs are an excellent way for consumers to waste time, but add to that the snitch-killing and the crop dusting and the weapons stockpiling and the car detailing and wiretapping and the condom swallowing and the fact that determined junkies will figure out how to fatally overdose on legal cancer drugs anyway and you start to think, hey now let's just call this a day, DEA. But is that why the Bush Administration, according to yesterday's Times Magazine, appears to have given up on the Drug War in Afghanistan? Or is it just like, what the fuck else are they going to grow there? That and how Gabriel Garcia Marquez's plan to eradicate the Colombian coke trade didn't work out so well, plus sundry other dour observations and musings on the meaninglessness of with me and Megan after the jump.MOE: Yo I am here, barely, at an airport hotel that is not actually an airport hotel, more an airport adjacent hotel located nearby a Westfield Mall, but this is where the JetBlue flyer with the friendly Nationwide Hospitality Inc. operator got me the $69 rate, and my god, I am tired, maybe because here it is five in the morning, but news that New Jersey school officials want to ban Red Bull just reminded me I am no longer in school and therefore should probably go locate myself something containing Guarana. MEGAN: Doing Crappy Hour from the West Coast sucks balls in a way that no one who hasn't done it can ever understand. But that might be because I consider 5 am a time to strive to stay up until, not an hour to get up at. MEGAN: If it helps, check out the long cool drink of water in this picture and rejoice that somewhere in the bowels of CNN.com, there is a Jezebel looking out for us. MOE: Yeah I actually forgot to reset my alarm and so woke up around 3:45, but holy SHIT that picture is ridiculous. The gun is um scary though. Also, Obama's hip is hurting? Isn't that a body part whose inflammation we'd usually associate with John McCain…or his mom? Unless… MEGAN: Um, I'll just say that sometimes after sex my hips hurt, but I have an old ballet injury to explain that, but if that's why Obama's hurts, well, go Michelle! MEGAN: In other flotsam, by the way, SF mayor Gavin Newsom got straight-married this weekend... in Montana. MOE: Yeah I bet the wedding I was at was better. Um before I forget can I just say I am fucking sick of shit like "Caroline Kennedy for VP???!!?" which is the only thing worse than "Chuck Hagel for VP????!!!?" which is to say, "WHY AM I READING THIS GO ON VACATION!!!!??!!!" MEGAN: Everyone for VP!!! MEGAN: I mean, McCain's got to pick someone before the Olympics start because no one will be paying attention otherwise, or so goes the meme, but I'll bet Obama's VP will interrupt Olympic coverage. MOE: And then there's this story. I guess I'll listen to it, because really what better things do we have to do? Discuss the half trillion dollar budget deficit planned for 2009 — that's a record, by the way — or how the Frannie Freddie bailout is supposedly the largest government bailout since the New Deal?? Yeah, didn't think so. Although who knows, it's still early, I could see us getting into that shit. MEGAN: We could talk about the protests at the Vatican to lift the ban on birth control, too. MOE: Oh how serendipitous I was thinking of lifting my personal ban on that in response to public sentiment as well. I wonder if someone told the Vatican about me and they were like "oh jesus christ we do not want to be responsible for that person procreating." Seriously though, I don't know if this is going to have much of an impact in the Benedict administration. MEGAN: I'm going to say... exactly none. The Pope listens to God, not the people of the world OR the AIDS rate in Africa. That's God's plan, or do Catholics not believe in predestination? It's so hard to remember CCD. MOE: In other news does another fifty pointless deaths indicate violence returned to The Iraq? Petraeus seems to think maybe . Oh, and is Afghanistan a narco-state …I kind of want to actually read that one, because I found myself realizing the other day that I really did not know how Colombia had come to control 90% of the cocaine trade exactly and whether there are other countries with power vacuums and the climate and topographical conditions to get in on that, since heroin is, like, probably not as big a moneymaker. MEGAN: Hahahaha, "returned" to Iraq. You're such a comic genius. Or else Petraeus is. MOE: Hey I am going to miss how you actually get it when I am being sarcastic. MEGAN: Although my dad got up and made me coffee this morning, I have yet to get a chance to get up and drink it because in your honor I read Maureen Dowd. That was painful. MEGAN: But probably not quite as painful as Barack having to submit to an interview in Paris from La Dowd. MOE: oh GOD. MOE: I'm not bothering to blockquote this because there's no way anyone would confuse it for anything I would write and even if you charged me with parodying Dowd I could never come up with Even for Sarkozy the American, who loves everything in our culture from Sylvester Stallone to Gloria Gaynor, it was a wild gush over a new Washington crush. MEGAN: Or how about this awfulness: Obama kept his cool through a week where he was treated as a cross between the Dalai Lama and Johnny Depp. I mean, in my mind, she says this in a little girl voice even more highly pitched than my own. MEGAN: OK, also, now I have to ask what the fuck? MOE: Okay this Afghanistan story is really fucking interesting. Basically, post-September 11 Afghanistan is the one kind of situation where this drug war we've been fighting for the past 20 years really comes in handy, as we learned previously from the story of that narcotics guy who successfully interrogated KSM. But the Pentagon, by some combination of generalized Bush Administration wrongheadedness, generalized Bush Administration ineptitude, generalized turf protection and listening to Hamid Karzai, not only systematically undermined the DEA's mission in the country and everyone involved with the drug war, but the whole idea that heroin was bad at all, which in turn just led to the continued flow of this massive spigot of funding to the Taliban and sundry other evildoers. MEGAN: Wait, Karzai is pro-heroin? Or just anti doing terribly much about it? Anyway, didn't you know that Mary Jane is the Great Satan of our time? Or is it oxycodone? Or meth? Or can we just ask what it is about modern life that so many people feel the need to alter their consciousness to escape it? Because I know what it is about my life, but I'd sort of be interested to know if I'm unique in that. MOE:
A lot of intelligence - much of it unclassified and possible to discuss here - indicated that senior Afghan officials were deeply involved in the narcotics trade. Narco-traffickers were buying off hundreds of police chiefs, judges and other officials. Narco-corruption went to the top of the Afghan government. The attorney general, Abdul Jabbar Sabit, a fiery Pashtun who had begun a self-described "jihad against corruption," told me and other American officials that he had a list of more than 20 senior Afghan officials who were deeply corrupt - some tied to the narcotics trade. He added that President Karzai - also a Pashtun - had directed him, for political reasons, not to prosecute any of these people.
MEGAN: Is there some reason it matters that they're both Pashtun? Also, in an barely-stable government, I can sort of see the reason if he thinks that the narco-corruption isn't one of the destabilizing forces. MOE: Well the news here is that no only has opium production grown — a UN report says 80% of poppies in the south were planted in the last two years — it is funding the insurgency and making farmers rich and Afghan officials all the way up to Karzai continue to say things like "it's tradition and poverty makes them do it and we don't want you to dust our crops aerially with pesticides because our poor farmers will think it is poison coming from the sky" when such things are demonstrably not true. MEGAN: Crop dusting didn't really make us — or the Colombian government — a ton of friends when we did it there either but we didn't exactly stop doing it. MOE: Well we haven't apparently started doing it in Afghanistan. The point is twofold, though. It's not so much that, according to this guy, how do you keep Afghanistan from becoming the Colombia of opiates, but whether you can use what you learned in Colombia to cut off the flow of funds to the insurgency, I think, I am not through yet though. I mean, I guess eventually, as in Colombia, everyone is in the business, on both sides, and then everything is just …really violent until someone like Uribe comes in and decides to grant wholescale amnesty to pretty much anyone who asks. MOE:
Karzai was playing us like a fiddle: the U.S. would spend billions of dollars on infrastructure improvement; the U.S. and its allies would fight the Taliban; Karzai's friends could get rich off the drug trade; he could blame the West for his problems; and in 2009 he would be elected to a new term.
MEGAN: Awww, he's like a mini GWB, just with drugs instead of oil! MOE: Hahaha the chief of the anticorruption commission is a convicted heroin dealer. MOE: And here's our little microcosm of the whole damn thing:
At the same time, the 101st Airborne arrived in eastern Afghanistan. Its commanders promptly informed Ambassador Wood that they would only permit crop eradication if the State Department paid large cash stipends to the farmers for the value of their opium crop. Payment for eradication, however, is disastrous counternarcotics policy: If you pay cash for poppies, farmers keep the cash and grow poppies again next year for more cash. And farmers who grow less-lucrative crops start growing poppies so that they can get the money, too. Drug experts call this type of offer a "perverse incentive," and it has never worked anywhere in the world.
Sort of like the drug war has never worked anywhere in the world? MEGAN:
KarzaiBush was playing us like a fiddle: the U.S. would spend billions of dollars on infrastructure improvement; the U.S. and its allies would fight the Talibanin Iraq; Karzai'sBush's friends could get rich off the drugoil trade; he could blame the Westliberals for hisour problems; and in 20092004 he would be elected to a new term.
MOE: Or Bush could blame the Middle East for his problems? MEGAN: Hell, that shit doesn't even work in U.S. farm policy. You pay subsidies for wheat, they grow more wheat. You pay subsidies to let marginal lands grow wild, people plant on marginal lands for a year or two to collect the subsidies. MOE: It would be a more direct counterpart. MOE: Okay here is something depressing (or heartening?) Check the fucking comments. Some of the stuff that has been "recommended" is basically illiterate. MOE: Such as
2008 8:35 am After I saw American Gangster, I knew that the increase in heroin production was no accident. I'm sure the DEA is involved in shipping the drugs back to American cities. It's no wonder we can't see the coffins unloaded at Andrews Airforce Base. - Jane, Royal Oak, MI Recommended by 7 Readers
MEGAN: You know, there's a growing debate about whether to allow comments on newspapers' websites for exactly that reason. Like, I know Gawker employs a person (hey, Kaila! your hair is probably lovely today!) whose job it is to weed out the crazies and I've looked in the bin and WHOO boy are there some crazy people out there who write some crazy ass shit. But I guess because newspapers have higher comment volumes, or higher crazy volumes or haven't been able to figure out how to monetize their websites, they can't manage that shit? MOE: Incidentally that other drug is in the news today too. MEGAN: OH, speaking of drug wars, I've seen so many freaking meth heads back here. Upstate NY was slow to come to the metholution because of the easy access to good Canadian weed, but I do believe we've finally made it into the 21st century! MOE: Yesterday I found this old story on Gabriel Garcia Marquez advocating "outlaw American chemists" develop a kind of synthetic cocaine to rival the real deal as a way to combat his own country's addiction to easy money. But um I sort of feel like, that's how we got meth, and meth did not do much good for Colombia. MEGAN: Or Afghanistan! Meth is for people that can't afford crack, let alone coke, or heroin shipping in for Afghanistan, and who don't mind the side effects like the black teeth and the faster progression to heroin chic and the complete wasted crazy look that horrifies me in a bar to the point where my friend has to remind me to stop staring at the meth head.