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Drug Czars Say the Darndest Things

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Deputy Drug Czar Bertha Madras delivered this gem in Colorado as she promoted random student drug testing to school administrators:

"We are not waging a war on drugs; we are waging a war of defense --
a defense of the basis of humanity, and that is our brain," said Dr.
Bertha Madras, the White House deputy drug czar in charge of reducing
demand for drugs. [Denver Post]

This is the same woman who argued against distributing overdose prevention kits, claiming that overdoses would teach people not to use heroin. So no, she's actually not very interested in "defense" against the harms of drugs.

She supports drug testing programs that don’t work, but opposes overdose prevention programs that do. Her ideas would make considerably more sense if her job were to make the drug problem worse.

Update: In comments, Giordano asks "Is Dr. Madras’ brain on the defensive?" Yes, I think that's exactly what's going on here.

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In Defense of Humanity

“'We are not waging a war on drugs; we are waging a war of defense -- a defense of the basis of humanity, and that is our brain,' said Dr. Bertha Madras, the White House deputy drug czar in charge of reducing demand for drugs.”

Well, I know I’ll sleep better at night knowing Dr. Madras is on the job defending…what was it, again?  The basis of humanity?  Sounds to me as if it’s a big job.

And I’m truly happy Dr. Madras says we’re no longer waging a war on drugs.  That war was truly starting to suck.

But a defensive war for the basis of humanity that is our brain?  Is Dr. Madras’ brain on the defensive?  Perhaps it goes on the defensive when it comes to her explaining or actually succeeding at her job of reducing drug use.  But what her brain actually does remains a mystery.

For one thing, a defensive war is no way to wage a war.  Would General Ulysses S. Grant have fought a defensive war against the Confederacy?  Hell no.  General Grant would have proclaimed, “Get me another bottle of whiskey from the case the President sent me!  I’ll show you a f%#king war!”

A really offensive war against the human brains of drug users is more descriptive of the policies supported by Dr. Madras.  With little or no apparent social conscience applied to the psychological consequences of arrest, incarceration; social, political, legal and professional ostracism, legal fines and costs, and whatever else current legal policies bring to bear in the endless persecution of the drug user, Madras’ favorite brain war machine continues to devour its own children.


Thought control...

The brain is where your thoughts reside. Czar (King) has no deputy king. It must be difficult to defend such a mindless entity, as the war on drugs. They think that if they reframe the picture, they will get a different picture?

Bertha Madras the Sado-Moralist

"We are not waging a war on drugs; we are waging a war of defense" -- Bertha Madras

The best defense is a good offense. Regulate and tax those dealers out of the market. No need to treat kids like they are on probation or in jail.

Parents need to grow up. If parents want to drug test their kids, then they should accept the responsibility for doing the dirty work, not some gym teacher.

Here in Texas, school districts are spending an average of $150K a year on drug testing to find 10 students with THC in their urine, while their drug use surveys show very little difference in youth drug use from previous years without drug testing.

The basis for the next Supreme Court case on drug testing??

If these medical results are supposed to be confidential, the following highlights a serious and potentially detrimental problem in the way school districts follow-up on the results.

Excerpt from article:

But coaches, principals, teachers and students acknowledge there is little privacy within the school community. A kid tests positive and isn't suited up for the big game, everyone knows why.

"If they are embarrassed because everyone knows, maybe they won't do it again," said Rangely's Boulger, who knows of two kids who were nabbed under his school's testing program. "Drugs are illegal. Nobody forced them to do it. They made the choice, and they pay the consequences."

It's that lack of privacy that worries opponents. "They say it's confidential, but that doesn't mean it is," said Mike Krause with the Independence Institute, a Golden policy research organization that is critical of expanding the role of government. "This could really screw a kid's life up if they get flagged and it comes back to haunt them in 20 years."

The schools are really behind these kids

"If they are embarrassed because everyone knows, maybe they won't do it again," said Rangely's Boulger, who knows of two kids who were nabbed under his school's testing program. "Drugs are illegal. Nobody forced them to do it. They made the choice, and they pay the consequences."

So when a kid has a drug problem, I'm guessing Rangley's Boulger will be the last person they turn to.

Speeding and running red lights is illegal (and actually puts others at safety risk), so why don't schools get the driving record of every student. Those who have a certain number of marks on their records should not be allowed to park on campus. We might actually wake up parents with that proposition

its just war

to raise more profits for ever hungerypolice courts and others who profit from prohibition .its just a war against innocent Americans people are just pawns in this never ending war for profit.its disgusting and must end.we the people are not just collateral damage

"It's not a war on drugs,

"It's not a war on drugs, It's a war on personal freedom thats what it is, ok? Keep that in mind at all times, Thank you" - Bill Hicks

Micah Daigle's picture

Delusions of grandeur

You know, I think Madras actually believes what she said, to her very core. She has to.

It's a common psychological phenomenon among zealots and fundamentalists of all stripes to wrap their beliefs in an epic context. Just as both Osama Bin Laden and Jerry Falwell see the Iraq War as an epic battle between good and evil that will determine the fate of the universe, so do Drug War zealots see their fight through a holy lens. Indeed, they must see it this way, in order to justify the atrocities carried out every day in the name of "defending the basis of humanity."

Ironically, I actually agree with her. This fight IS about defending the basis of humanity. And the basis of humanity is cognitive liberty. Once we no longer have sovereignty over our bodies and minds, our humanity is ceased -- we become drones.

So bring it on, Bertha. Humanity's worth the fight.

hold people responsible for actions, not their choice of drug

It is so disgusting the cruel way alcohol users lord it over people who use other drugs. The treatment of users of hard drugs is the most despicable part of it, because penalties for mere use (or small scale dealing to support use or addiction) are so draconian, and there's the racist disparity between the two types of cocaine. Alcohol supremacism over cannabis is the most ludicrous part, because alcohol is indisputably far, far more dangerous to life and limb than it's main competition.

The Facts of Life -- #1 People Don't Care About Your Civil Libs

Newshawk: Herb
Votes: 0
Pubdate: Mon, 28 Apr 2003
Source: Rebel Yell (Las Vegas, NV Edu)
Copyright: 2003 Rebel Yell
Author: Cliff Schaffer
Bookmark: (Students for Sensible Drug Policy)



I am one of the founders of the Drug Reform Coordination Network, the organization that spawned Students for a Sensible Drug Policy. I also established the DRCNet Online Library of Drug Policy, the world's largest online collection of research on drug policy at . I cannot comment on any issues with SSDP and its chapters but I have taught more people how to debate this subject than anyone else, so I can comment on Alexander Marriott's arguments.

Alexander misunderstands the argument about alcohol prohibition. The argument is not "one bad thing is legal, therefore other bad things should be legal." The argument is that prohibition only makes matters worse. Just because something is bad doesn't mean that prohibition is the best approach to the problem. In fact, prohibition only drives the problem underground where there are no controls. Alcohol prohibition is the best example. Among other things, it caused the biggest teen drinking epidemic our nation has ever seen.

Alexander's argument that people have a right to control what they put into their own body fails for a number of reasons. Even the people who wrote the original drug laws agreed with that idea, but it did not make any difference. That's why they wrote the laws as "tax acts" rather than outright criminal prohibitions. That argument has never been a significant legal issue at any time in the history of these laws.

In addition to being legally irrelevant, it doesn't persuade anyone who was not already persuaded to support reform. It is sad to say but most Americans really don't care about the Bill of Rights. Lots of them will tell you that "free speech" and similar protections only apply to "approved speech".

Another problem with the argument is simple perception. Lots of people interpret that argument as "I have a right to get loaded and do anything I want." That's not the argument being made, of course, but that's what other people hear. What people hear is not necessarily what you said, especially with the general hysteria surrounding drugs. They don't care that you want to get high and they really view it as selfish so no such argument will ever change their opinion.

Over the years I have debated literally thousands of people on this subject. To date, I have never seen any person who was persuaded to support drug law reform by the argument that someone has a right to use drugs.

Alexander can find references for all of the above facts, and discussions of his arguments at

CLIFF SCHAFFER, Director, DRCNet Online Library of Drug Policy,

Wrong guy

[email protected],Vancouver,B.C.Canada The comment was great but the person you went after(personal perhaps?)wasn't the person that wrote the letter about alcohol.

Malkavian's picture

It goes much deeper

"So no, she's actually not very interested in "defense" against the harms of drugs."

Ahhhhh, but she explicitly stated that THAT was not her goal. She was talking about the "basis of humanity, and that is our brain". Let me translate this modern-day sentence into how it would have sounded in the Middle Ages where such euphemisms were not so prevanlent:

"The basis of humanity" = morality
"Brain" = soul

She is a religious crusader doing her Inquisition thing. If that requires us to fling a gagged and bound witch into a lake to see if she floats or drowns, so be it. The loss of her LIFE is of so much less RELEVANCE than her immortal SOUL.

The piles of crap have shiftet a bit around and some of the stuff has different names. Yet it's the same thing happening all over.


Abolish the ONDCP and we get rid of the Drug Czar and the entire BS associated with this bureaucracy.

YES!!! Abolish the fraud.

Abolish the damn thing. Been waiting on this for years. Looks like Obama may want to abolish. I know ,I know, what about the children..... the children are for abolishment too!

Drug "Czar"?

The drug war is just a consequence of the federal government not following the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Both of these documents give the individual the right to his/her own body.

Unfortunately, many opponents of the drug war have been proponents of limiting other rights involving life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Private property, the right to keep and bear arms and so on are important. BTW, a candidate with the views of Obama openly espouses the continued expansion of government.

The United States is a Constitutional Republic, *not* a Democracy (Majority rules). If the majority rules that your religion, your political views or your possessions are bad, they do not have the moral, legal, or Constitutional right to infringe upon you unless you are imposing yourself on others.

Why is someone in a Constitutional Republic appointed a "Drug Czar". What is next, the "Food Fuhrer" to make sure only approved foods can be chosen?

Let's Abandon the Euphemisms

And call these people what they are: murderers. The drug warriors killed my stepson, just as certainly as if they had tied the rope around his neck, and I am well beyond cutting them any slack for their support of the WOD. Each and every politician and bureaucrat who supports the WOD bears collective responsibility for every death related to it. I never miss an opportunity to say that to their faces, in public: "You, sir, are a murderer. You, personally, killed my stepson, and I will use all means at my disposal to assure that you will eventually answer for it. How can you sleep at night, knowing that you bear responsibility for these crimes. MURDERER!

A retired cop.

She ain't kidding

[email protected],Vancouver,B.C.Canada I lost count of the friends and acquaintances I've lost to drug overdose.It sure did cure them from their drug abuse.Hearing someone say something as evil as this makes me wonder what rock she crawled out from under.

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