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John McCain's Awful Response to a Cop Who Wants to End the Drug War

When NH police officer and LEAP speaker Bradley Jardis confronted John McCain last week, demanding an explanation for the ongoing failure of the drug war, McCain's response was just unbelievable:

McCain acknowledges that too many first time offenders are serving time, but he otherwise delivers a defense of the drug war that is as banal and incoherent as any such discussion could ever be. I won't bother to categorically refute the mountainous absurdities contained herein. Instead, I've transcribed McCain's marvelous distinction between drugs and alcohol, which should be etched in stone as a timeless embodiment of the rank idiocy that defines the modern war on drugs:
Look, I've heard the comparison between drugs and alcohol. I think most experts would say that in moderation, one or two drinks of alcohol does not have an effect on one's judgment, mental acuity, or their physical abilities. I think most experts would say that the first ingestion of drugs leads to mind-altering and other experiences, other effects, and can lead over time to serious, serious problems.
This is what John McCain chose to lead with. This, for McCain, was the strong central point that explains why the drug war is necessary. And it is just so transparently stupid and wrong.*

When the curtain is pulled back, perfect cluelessness is revealed to be the single unifying principle that binds the drug war philosophy together. That is why McCain nearly falls to pieces when confronted by someone with real firsthand experience waging the war he so clumsily defends.

Most drug war supporters are not qualified to discuss this topic even briefly. If you ask them a smart question about the drug war, their answer will come out something like this:

*Update: It's been suggested to me that it is actually necessary to explain that alcohol is a drug. Maybe it is, so here goes: It's a drug. It produces a powerful intoxicated state commonly referred to as "drunkenness," in which one's judgment can become impaired along with the ability to operate heavy machinery.

John McCain ought to know that alcohol is a drug. I think he just wasn't prepared for the question and said the first thing that popped into his head. It is typical for defenders of the drug war to begin their argument by issuing wildly false generalizations.

[Thanks, Micah]
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Speed Freaks with Jet Fighters

Contrary to Senator McCain’s “legalizing methamphetamine” question to the police officer in the clip, McCain should know that methamphetamine is a Schedule II substance and that it is legal to use with a prescription.

As a former fighter pilot shot down over Viet Nam, McCain should also have some first hand knowledge of methamphetamine.  Note the following government report:

"Following Desert Storm an anonymous survey of deployed fighter pilots was completed. 464 surveys were returned (43%). For Desert Storm: 57% used stimulants [methamphetamine] at some time (17% routinely, 58% occasionally, 25% only once). Within individual units, usage varied from 3% to 96%, with higher usage in units tasked for sustained combat patrol (CAP) missions. Sixty-one-percent of those who used stimulants reported them essential to mission accomplishment."

Source: "Performance Maintenance During Continuous Flight Operations: A Guide For Flight Surgeons," NAVMED P-6410, Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, Jan. 1, 2000, p. 11.

A drug war topic for Senator McCain might concern the pep pills he undoubtedly carried and probably consumed as a Viet Nam era pilot.  And if he used drugs such as methamphetamine during the course of his wartime combat, then by his own declaration on the clip, he is too brain-addled to be president.

If McCain is right, then methamphetamine-addlement might also explain the sordid career flops of former fighter pilots such as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, nut-case Rep. “B-1” Bob Dornan, (R-CA), and convicted bribe-taker Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA).  There is definitely a trend here.


Fuzzy, assumptive math!

The survey's respondents admit to using "stimulants" which (correct me if I'm wrong here) is an extremely general way of saying "methamphetamine", sort of like calling Primates and Cetacea simply Mammals, though scientifically there are many differences between primates (ya know, monkey's, humans, etc.) and whales. Unless the survey specifically stated "methamphetamine" as opposed to the broad spectrum "stimulants" I am pretty much required to logically reject the "findings" of the author as a biased exclusion of the coffee drinkers of the military.

Oh yeah, and do the math, 57% (percentage of admittance to using these horrible "stimulants") of the 43% of people that responded.... that's what? Less than 1/4 (24.51% to be exact) of the deployed fighter pilots (originally given the survey) throughout Desert Storm.... Hold on, time for more math.... this might blow your mind... get ready....

The author states 464 survey's were returned, of which 57% admitted to using "stimulants". Of that 57%, 17% (or 45 total) of the pilots routinely used "stimulants" while 154 of their fellow pilots used "stimulants" occasionally. Are you telling me that less than 200 out of the over 900 Navy Pilots involved in Desert Storm either drank coffee, smoked cigarettes, or (hahaha) did Methamphetamine!

Completely throwing the numbers by the wayside, let us go ahead and assume that Sen. McCain was among the less than 20% of U.S. Navy pilots that used "stimulants" during Desert Storm..... what's that you say? Sen. McCain wasn't in Desert Storm? That's right, he was in Vietnam..... more than 20 years earlier. Well, there goes the final pillar of support for the author's argument.

The fact is that in 1967 (when Sen. McCain was shot down and made a Prisoner of War) methamphetamine was regularly, and legally, prescribed by doctors in the U.S. as treatment for such ailments as narcolepsy, depression, obesity, and even Parkinson's disease. It was not until 1983 (two years after Sen. McCain retired from the Navy) that Methamphetamine was legally banned in the Unites States. Though correctly cited as a Schedule II substance, the prescription of methamphetamine is unanimously frowned upon by the medical community due to its negative connotation by the general populace. A connotation largely attributed to the successful efforts of the War on Drugs.

In conclusion, the author's biased interpretation and subsequent presentation of the "facts" surrounding Sen. McCains supposed first hand knowledge of Methamphetamine and it's relation to his position on the War on Drugs is absurd and based on widely circumstantial evidence; a myriad of "what if's" that attempt to lead the reader on a fanciful journey to the debunking of the credibility of Sen. McCain


The reform movement does need to focus more on specific solutions -- and not just the baby steps that are politically viable. The idea of mere "legalization" paints kind of an ugly picture in the minds of those who aren't familiar with successful means of regulation, such as the Swiss heroin clinics.

And where does this "They tried it in Europe and it was a disaster" keep coming from? Are they talking about Needle Park?

Anyway, it's nice to see at least a little bit of dialog, even if it didn't really go anywhere.

Alcohol as a drug

Next time this comes up, just point to this blog post by Mark Kleiman:

Is alcohol a "drug"? Why the question matters

- daksya

Alcohol as Drug

The federal definition of "drug," and the definition of that term as provided within the Merck Manual, excludes an item that is a "food."* Alcohol yields seven kilocalories per gram. It, therefore, is a food. Therefore, it is not a drug. David Yolleck, [email protected].

*For all X, X is not a drug if X is a food. Alcohol (X) is a food. Therefore, alcohol is not a drug.

Squeezing John McCain's Monster Balloon

Drug War Abolitionist New Hampshire state police officer Bradley Jardis confronted Republican Arizona U.S. senator and presidential candidate John McCain about the failed war on drugs that McCain supports. The Huffington Post 'Off The Bus' column reported this week.

McCain and Jardis bantered a dozen different issues ranging from first time offender addicts, crime, children's access to drugs, border security and drug cartel violence that Jardis and McCain ably debated. McCain was able to latch onto one aspect of one concern he raised ignoring Jardis black market response.

Legalization of Meth-amphetamine.

McCain asked Officer Jardis if he would legalize meth. Jardis half punted the question with the important point about how the meth dealers would not exist without the economy created by prohibition.

I would like to focus on the question of Meth-amphetamine regulation with a definite yes. All intoxicant substances need to be legally regulated...... Squeezing John McCain's Monster Balloon posted at my blog, ALeftIndependent

Not the first time...

McCain has made this argument.

This entire video is pretty painful, but déjà vu begins at about the 1:15 mark.

I agree with your point of view in a way...

I do, and I'm a recreational user myself of several different drugs BUT you can't just STOP fighting drug flows. Lets say for arguements sake 1 in 3 people that smoke cannabis and are affected mentally, now consider if just 30 million (roughly 10% of the US population) were smoking cannabis, that gives you millions that have developed mental problems from slight paranoia to full blown schizophrenia, is that good?!

These figures are best guesses but even if the percentage is less, say half that you're still left with millions of people who could potentially act negatively because they smoke cannabis. Of course you then need to consider all the other drugs.

I guess what I'm saying in a rambling way is the US should definitely ease up on the drugs policies for individual users but you just CANNOT stop fighting it.


First of all, the rate of psychotic illness among the general population has remained at a steady 3% for many years, despite substantial increases in marijuana use during that time. So, a causal relationship is highly unlikely. The higher rate of psychosis among cannabis users is probably just a result of the fact that people with mental illness tend to self-medicate. I used to know a guy with schizophrenia, and he said pot was the only thing that would make the voices go away.

Decriminalization/legalization isn't going to cause a sudden increase in the rate of drug use. It's been well established that the law has no deterrent effect whatsoever, and prohibition may very well exacerbate the problem. Any change in usage rates after a substance is decriminalized or legalized is usually one of less usage.

Allowing these substances to be controlled by a black market, and refusing to regulate them is the most irresponsible and damaging course of action to take.

1 in 3 cannabis smokers have long term neggative mental effects?

I think maybe you should do a little research before you make these bold claims based on your "best guesses".

War on the less adept

The "war on drugs" does not catch the particularly affluent.

I would bet a year's salary that there are plenty of senators like McCain that use drugs of some type, even if it is a prescribed heroin or cocain.

The difference is that the users in his class are exempt from the laws created to "catpure" the "cartels". Heck, I would bet that several of those cartels also have Lobbies that will funnel money into McCains re-election coffers. Everybody has heard the "do you know who i am?" when they get pulled over, and THAT WORKS.

(ok, McCain is broke, so maybe not his coffers, but others...)

Good thing we have Ron Paul



I went this summer and the city was EXTREMELY safe.

Why is it called a "war" on drugs.

First let me say drug usage should be placed in the hands of trained medical professionals. If smoking a little weed can improve the quality of life for a cancer or glaucoma sufferer, how is that any different than giving a methamphetamine (methaphenidate ie ritalen) to a child with ADHD so that they can function in school? While I do believe that the abuse of any drug, legal or otherwise is wrong, I also think is wrong to arbitrarily prohibit the use of substances under all circumstances when a proven medical benefit is known.

The reason we have a "war" on drugs, is that by declaring war, it gives the government legal powers it would not otherwise possess. Check out the "war powers" the constitution grants and you will see that this is more than just a catch phrase, it is a constitutional power grab.

Now let me play devil's advocate a bit.... THC and nicotine both act on the brain far more directly than alcohol. They more easily cross the blood-brain barrier and have specific neural transmitters that are sensitive to them, hence the "high" attraction to abuse them and their addictive qualities (and yes pot can be as addictive as alcohol or cigarettes to the right individuals under the right circumstances). THC also has the added complication, in that it is not immediately metabolized by the body, rather it can be stored for two weeks or more in fat cells. That is why you can come up positive on a drug test long after you have used it.

I do not believe we should be at "war" with drugs. You cannot have a war with an object. Why not have a war against ignorance or cancer, it would be far more productive. The government should only be able to declare a war against a living breathing, thinking can have a war against drug dealers, not drugs; you can have a war against terrorists, not terror. Unfortunately in order to declare a war against individuals you have to know who they are, by using broad and ambiguous labels the federal government can cast their nets far and wide, justify invading our privacy and suspending our constitutionally granted rights.


The fact is the majority of americans think exactly the way mccain does, and they're proud to say so. Alcohol is legal, so it MUST be safer than pot (or the blanket term "drugs"- meaning all illegal substances). They may be drunk off their asses and need a stomach pump because of ALCOHOL POISONING, but hey- they're not breaking the law. This sort of garbage talk makes me want to puke and then cry. There is truly no hope for america or humanity for that matter. Were doomed to be enslaved by ignorance.

You Can't Write.

Nor can you spell. [email protected].

puregenius's picture


John Mccain needs to come see how I function after drinking 2 oz of liquor compared to ingesting 4 cg of pharmaceutical grade THC. Within a minute after that drink I can't walk or think clearly. When the THC takes effect I can walk normally, think clearly enough to play high-level poker and play chess rather well. I can probably drive too, but I don't take such risks with any psychoactive substance.

McCain, a money launderer in denial

Why else is the plutocracy so nonchalantly confident and scapegoating towards illegal drugs? Answer: their illegal market profit margins would crash.


It's Disgusting That Our Politicians Today Don't Think...

... about the self-medicators who use street drugs to substitute for Rx medication. McCain's answer is so typical of American politicians who don't even know how to respond to the question about drugs because it doesn't really concern them. John McCain has used plenty of psychotropic drugs in his life that for him to come out and talk about first time offenders is merely a denial of his own past.

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