President Choomwagon

President Obama’s teenage gang called themselves the Choom Gang, choom being their slang word for marijuana. They developed a marijuana-oriented culture:

As a member of the Choom Gang, Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends. The first was called “TA,” short for “total absorption.” To place this in the physical and political context of another young man who would grow up to be president, TA was the antithesis of Bill Clinton’s claim that as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford he smoked dope but never inhaled.

Along with TA, Barry popularized the concept of “roof hits”: when they were chooming in the car all the windows had to be rolled up so no smoke blew out and went to waste; when the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling.

When you were with Barry and his pals, if you exhaled precious pakalolo (Hawaiian slang for marijuana, meaning “numbing tobacco”) instead of absorbing it fully into your lungs, you were assessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around.

They even called their Mystery-Machine-style VW van the Choomwagon:

I don’t have a problem with Obama — or anyone else — smoking dope. As far as I am concerned, consenting adults have the liberty to do whatever they like so long as they don’t hurt others, or take their liberty or property.

I don’t have a problem with Obama — or anyone else — defining themselves by smoking dope.

I have a problem with hypocrisy.

Not only did Obama use marijuana in his youth, he also used cocaine, and reportedly crack. Today around 400,000 Americans are jailed for non-violent drug related offenses. That’s 400,000 outside of the workforce who could be out working and producing, instead of burdening the taxpayer, who pays to create profits for well-connected corporations in the prison-industrial complex.

Put more simply, there are more black people in prison as a result of the drug war today than there were slaves in 1850.

What’s President Obama — as a black man and a drug user — doing about that? There are still thousands of people being arrested for nonviolent drug offenses who are facing life in prison.

President Obama’s signature  policy in this area has been the Fair Sentencing Act which reduced the previous 100:1 sentencing discrepancy between crack (predominantly used by blacks) and powder cocaine to 18:1, as well as eliminating the five-year mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine. So now the courts will be 18 times tougher on urban blacks using crack than they are on Wall Street traders (etc) using powder cocaine? Am I supposed to think that that is better?

No. He is willing to keep jailing nonviolent citizens who did nothing more than ingest or possess a narcotic, and deny them their liberty. He is willing to enforce racist laws and policies that lock up and criminalise a disproportionately high number of minorities, at a huge cost to the taxpayer. He is willing to deny medical marijuana patients the medicine their doctors have prescribed. He is willing to maintain the drug laws and the drug war, that (lest we forget) are the thing that are empowering and enriching the Mexican drug smuggling cartels and urban criminal gangs, and creating huge violence and thousands of deaths throughout Latin America.

As Milton Friedman wrote:

If you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel. That’s literally true.

There is no logical basis for the prohibition of marijuana. Our failure to successfully enforce these laws is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in Colombia. I haven’t even included the harm to young people. It’s absolutely disgraceful to think of picking up a 22-year-old for smoking pot. More disgraceful is the denial of marijuana for medical purposes.

But the thing that tears me up most is the rank hypocrisy. President Obama is a hypocrite who won’t even fight to legalise nonviolent behaviour that he himself proudly and overtly practised. If only he hadn’t been so lucky; those unjust drug laws that he won’t fight to repeal would likely have prevented him from ever being President, and he might instead be on probation working at Footlocker.

A President with integrity or compassion would fight tooth and nail to end this. Ron Paul — who has never used illegal recreational drugs — has vowed that as President he will pardon nonviolent drug offenders, give them back their liberty, and the right to keep the fruits of their labour, and save taxpayers a $15 billion-per-year bundle of cash by ending the waste and destruction of the war on drugs. Drug abuse should be treated as a social-medical problem. The war on drugs is an economic drain and a threat to our liberty.

66 thoughts on “President Choomwagon

  1. Pingback: President Choomwagon [Azizonomics] « Mktgeist blog

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  4. Have you heard Penn Jilette rant on this? You can find it at youtube it was part of penn’s sunday shool show. There is nothing intellectually new in it, but it hits pretty hard. Seriously, where would Obama be now in life if his own policies were to lead to having him arrested with big amount of weed (let’s say a monthly fuel for the choomwagon…)?

    • Honestly, that guy could have slipped too easily into a pattern of habituated criminality. In America, you’re one drug conviction away from being unable to join the professional classes.

  5. This is why I love Azizonomics! “President Obama is a hypocrite who won’t even fight to legalise nonviolent behaviour that he himself proudly and overtly practised”

    You are a modern day Jesus dude. Just be careful you are not put under a dripping tap. A modern day cross.

    • People Buddy Rojek has compared me to:

      1) Socrates
      2) Jesus

      Number of those people who died happily of old age: 0

      Number of those people who were slaughtered by the state for no good reason: 2

      Are you making a prediction, Buddy? Hahahaha.

      • I served with Jesus, I knew Jesus, Jesus was a friend of mine. Sir, you’re no Jesus.
        with apologies to Lloyd Bentsen

        • I would never suggest I am (though Obama did as a “joke”). It was Buddy’s suggestion, and I think he was kind of joking.

          But the 76 million people governments killed in the 20th Century weren’t Jesus either (or Socrates)…

          Comparing yourself to Jesus is a surefire way (possibly the quickest way) to make yourself look like an idiot. Readers who want to compare me to X or Y should keep in mind that I am just a guy with a laptop and a few economics charts. And in my opinion Tyler Durden and Marc Faber are still a lot better than me at that game.

        • Oh, I know you weren’t serious. I wasn’t intending to be serious either. I think you are actually Buddha. 🙂

          But I think you have a couple steps up on Tyler. A) you don’t appear to hide behind a pseudonym. B) I’ve seen the criticism that zerohedge has called 127 of the last 2 recessions. You haven’t

        • Hawks it was sarcasm. John is denouncing the pharisees so to speak. Read between my comments. No one is Jesus but analgous to if they stand up to authority and call them hypocrites.

        • It always amused me that Lloyd Bentsen could tell Quayle he’s no Jack Kennedy when he was the bottom of a ticket headlined by Michael Dukakis. It was a well-delivered line, though.

  6. The war on drugs is a racket, and a massive mistake.
    However, the politican who ends it ain’t going get re-elected. That’s as true in Europe as it is in the States. Cameron and Osbourne have both done shedloads of chonk, but that hasn’t made them change the laws on coke.
    ( Millband might actually have been too busy being a geek for drugs. Romney has always been interested only in mainlining money and power.)

    • 54% of American support marijuana legalisation, Syn. He wouldn’t be leaning against the wind legalising weed, nor on de-escalating (if not ending) the war on drugs.

      Like George Lucas ingeniously put it, Obama is a Jedi.

      But so was Anakin Skywalker, and we know how that ended.

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  8. “54% of American support marijuana legalisation, Syn. He wouldn’t be leaning against the wind legalising weed, nor on de-escalating (if not ending) the war on drugs”

    Yes, but can you imagine the media sh*tstorm that would ensue? he’s alrerady a economic communist to the right, he’d become a cultural godless commie as well.

    Plus taking on the industrial/prison complex, including prison officer unions, would open up a huge can of worms. I’m not saying he’s not a coward and a hypocrite, but he just decided not to spend any political capital on drugs.

    • Obama was elected as Mr. Change. If I was Mr. Change (and maybe in a parallel universe where I don’t hate politics I will one day be elected as Mr. Change), I would fight like a whirling dervish. The people gave him a mandate to fight, and to lead. We knew from his books he had taken drugs. The most radical thing he has done is talk in favour of gay marriage. But he picked the wrong fight — and I think this misunderstanding really shows Obama has no concept of liberty. Gay people aren’t being locked up in the USA for their consensual actions. The whole thing about the label of gay marriage (over civil partnerships) is silly; gay people have freedom of association, freedom of sexuality, freedom to live as they like. They have to deal with social intolerance, sure, but to some degree we all do. Drug users are being locked up and put in prison camps, losing their liberty. I think Obama will go down in history as a big coward and hypocrite and fraud, which is so fucking sad. We all kind of sympathised with his campaign (even if we had our suspicions and ended up voting McCain, or were non-American so couldn’t vote), we all wanted to see something different, all that momentum that he has wasted belonged to humanity, and it tears me up to see it going to waste.

  9. So what’s exactly being proposed? How would the alternative world look? Unless all these drugs will be completely decriminalized (as in anyone being able to buy cocaine, heroin, marijuana over the counter), I assume that criminal activity will still exist (there will be willing consumers that will not meet certain guidelines necessary to obtain a prescription). How would things work in this alternative world where all drugs will be decriminalized (is this what you or Ron Paul are actually proposing – if not, what’s actually being proposed)?

    • At very least I’d de-escalate the drug war in Latin America (prices will fall, hurting the cartels), and completely legalise and licence marijuana like alcohol.

      Beyond that if I got the chance I’d do a full controlled decriminalisation of most recreational drugs. Realistically (at least to begin with) with the stronger drugs, e.g. heroin and LSD and cocaine people would probably have to apply for a license. Consenting adults can buy whatever they want from a medical dispensary (preferably privately run, but probably more realistically government-run to begin with), but it would be a crime to buy for a child, etc, crime to drive while under the influence (yes, unlike many libertarians I am anti-drink driving). This would be the thing that would smash the drug cartels and criminal gangs. Abuse would be treated as a medical problem, and hopefully more users would be able to seek help knowing they will not be treated as criminals. Drugs would have to be tested prior to licensing, etc.

      I suppose there will still be the issue of criminal gangs selling harder or stronger versions of the drugs dispensaries provide, but it would be very difficult for them to undercut licensed dispensaries on price. Like today where most people drink licensed alcohol instead of moonshine, I expect most people to take licensed and tested forms.

      And obviously if things go wrong, the system should be open to tweaking, but recriminalisation would just re-empower the drug gangs, so I’d try to avoid that at all costs.

      That would be the model I would shoot for.

      On the other hand, I am actually relatively happy with laws that restrict smoking in public areas (I see dirty air as an infringement on people’s liberty) and I think the same thing should probably apply to marijuana.

      • But are there any examples where this has worked in the past? Would people understand actually what they’re getting themselves into? I can understand the idea of “alcohol abuse”, but my instincts tell me that with heroin/cocaine, abuse is even taking a single dose – wouldn’t the cost of fighting the drug lords shift to medical care and a reduced labor force (many people being on drugs and unable to work)? Maybe this is one of those situations where there’s no simple permanent solution, the only realistic one being a perpetual state of conflict between various elements (IMO, everything is like this, but this problem maybe even more so).

        • No, that’s just for possession – they’re still fighting the drug lords. And it’s still far from people being able to purchase them at the corner shop (maybe with ads on TV). I’m sure you can buy drugs in my country for example, but I wouldn’t know where to point you to.

        • Hahahaha, I would, but I grew up around deprivation in England. A few people I went to school with are now junkies.

          I’m not really advocating people being able to buy from the corner shop. The strongest thing I would advocate is pretty stringent licensing, or a prescription-only system. But what Portugal has done is a step in the right direction, I think, though it certainly does not destroy the drug gangs by undercutting them on price the way proper legalisation and licensing would. But the point is that they decriminalised possession and overall use, and addiction fell (though more people did try them) and more addicts got treatment. I think that says it all about the kind of direction we need to go in.

    • Thats the question Andrei.
      The thing is, some drugs are incredibly addictive and dangerous, thats why they’re illegal. If you make it easiy to buy them, you get awful social problems as a result. Loads of junkies, basically. And being addicted to hard drugs is life, familly, career and soul destroying in a way which drinking too much isn’t.
      There are horrible problems in parts of south America with types of cheap crack cocaine. Iran has a massive heroin problem (Narcotics Anonymous is the only western based charity which operates in the Islamic republic). Pakistan is riven with smack.

      De-criminalisng weed and reducing sentences for harder drugs is one thing. But making it easier for people, consenting adults included, to get their hands on herion or crack cocaine, is something else.

      • But making it easier for people, consenting adults included, to get their hands on herion or crack cocaine, is something else.

        It’s already easy. On the housing estate I lived on in London for a while I could have bought anything in 5 minutes, believe me (I am personally quite anti-drugs). I think restricting it to licensed sale will work. A more lax system than this — of pharmacists selling as they like — worked relatively well before World War 1, and back then there wasn’t proper tests for purity, or manufacturing controls, etc.

        If voters cannot stomach licensing then perhaps a system requiring a medical prescription for the really hard stuff is the best idea — if you want to try ketamine or shrooms or cocaine you go to a Doc, he does some tests to see if you are physically up to it, and if so you get a license for a number of uses and can go to the pharmacist to collect.

  10. ” if you want to try ketamine or shrooms or cocaine you go to a Doc, he does some tests to see if you are physically up to it, and if so you get a license for a number of uses and can go to the pharmacist to collect.”

    Yes, thats not a bad idea.
    Some pharmacists in the sixties used to prescribe medical heroin to users. It kept addicts from stealing and stuff, but I think there were problems about them re-selling their high quality product on the street.
    There’s bound to be un-foreseen negative consequences either way, but certainly the present model isn’t a good one. Especially in the States. Think of the federal savings from halving the prison population.

  11. I like libertarians especially left libertarians…however I think many of us forget how stupid some people are, and to expect these people to take responsibility for their own lives is a mistake. I am not keen on government interference through laws and regulations either, so it is abit of a connundrum for me.

    Do all parents care for their offspring? No some are highly abusive to and or they neglect their children. If the state disappeared would they become responsible parents, I doubt it but there again I do not like the fact that the state can regulate and take children away into ‘its care’.

  12. @synopticist

    ‘Think of the federal savings from halving the prison population.’

    1) The prison population in the outside world would increase the unemployed figures.

    2) Some of the prison guards, prison builders, police, court workers, social workers, and other state employees would be out of work.

    Over all the state would lose its power to manipulate society. Prison and victimless crimes like drug abuse keep the American enterprise system going. I read a study some years ago where a guy studied how drug dealing in skid row neighbourhoods provided money which went on to boost the Stock Market, and his statistics showed how the process was necessary for the Stock Market to continue.

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  16. I understand this outrage but the reality is that Barry has no say in this matter. He is simply the manager of the franchise of USA so it is irelevent to get upset as he is not the people making these decisions.
    The American owners don’t see the financial benefits I believe to legalized pot. Further it would maybe in their mind impact the productiveness of the worker. Therefore it is not to be.

  17. Ask any honest DEA agent if we’re winning the war on drugs, and they’ll give you a dispirited, “No.” They know it, we know it, even the fedgov knows it, but still we carry on with our futile attempts to stop the flow, catching only 10% of the total amount imported to the United States. Epic fail if there ever was. The fact is, alcohol is the number one destroyer of families and deaths from motor vehicle accidents, but alcohol sponsors nearly every important auto race we have. Brilliant idea. Next, they’ll be telling us to drink responsibly.

  18. Hi. As a drug and alcohol counselor I am well aware of the damage caused by mind altering chemicals. Once we remove the moral element, and views these issues from a public health and economic perspective, we are left with two bad choices, so it becomes about which is the lesser of two evils. Which will result in less harm. From almost every aspect the evidence is, control by prohibition via criminalization does not work. Much of the evidence is that in fact it accentuates the problems. And adds to the ever growing problems of the criminal cartels accumulating billions, and all the power that goes with that.

  19. The war on drugs is nothing more than a jobs program for Federal, State and local law enforcement unions and the prison system as well. Just like he handed ownership of GM to the UAW, Obama wants to make sure the drug war continues to provide money for law enforcement union dues.

  20. The involvement of the CIA and government officials in the drug trade is well known and historically documented why would they decriminalise it?, furthermore, hemp is a panacea for many modern diseases including cancer why permit competition with the pharmaceutical cartel?

  21. :Let Adults choose to ingest or not….butt out, governments. And don’t give “free” medical care to ANYONE—-problems solved.

    • Yes, butt out government. let people be free to make their own choices. Childrenn who have witnessed their parents using drugs are more likely to refuse to live that life style. After all, we do learn from experience. And keep the government out of health care. And free housing.
      And bailouts. Let the business people survive on their own merits. Also the unions. If a union is trustworthy, then workers will join of their own freewill. If the union can’t survive with an open -shop national law, then there must be a good reason. No one should be forced to join a union to keep their job.

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  23. The first problem I have with the article is in designating Obama as a”black” man. He is a MULATTO, which is a person whose parents are biracial of which one race is Caucasion and the other either Negor or Semite. Look it up in your dictionary. If Obama has any negro blood in him it is not from his parents. It could be from a grandparent, w;hich would only make his about 12% ‘black’. He has used this self-designation to get votes from hose who were kept from the truth, with the assistance of the major media. Rede.

  24. I have a problem. It’s right in front of me, whenever i look into my mirror.

    Whenever by however I sinsearly feel I am right in my own mind… you are the wrong one, the hypocrite, the bad guy; the totally, honestly, actually, really [THAR] whatever… unto the dreaded Final Solution of… “inappropriate”.

    Or just logically, person who is…is right, cannot be a hypocrite to His Self-Righteousness. Put another way, if MyFeelings are MyGod… I AM always appropriate, whatever i feel, say, think, do. It is YOU… whenever however YOU deviate from MyRuler… that are not only wrong, but SO wrong! Honest.

    This is MyPassion…as compared to The Passion. Life is MyDreamofMe being whoever & whatever I feel. And YOU must BE in MyDream… MyWay.

    Now for the Learners by Reality Movies: remember the scene in the isolatedly harmed White House where the 3 superbadguys find our President …hiding in the back while some flunkie tries to take the heat … and he says, “kneel… before Zod”? Remember what our Dear Leader then does? Who does our Dear Ruler… appeal to?

    Or, since everyone who is anyone knows Science explains everything: “Survival of the Fittest by Natural Selection”. Where’s the right and wrong? Where’s “empathy”? Where’s “hypocrisy”? Where’s “the Level”? Select…or be selected… is natural. It’s Fairness …happening … by Random Determinism in Entropy. YOU MUST TRUST SCIENCE! [Pay no attention to the little man behind the curtain. Just say 3 “rigorous peer reviews” and do not question ever again].

    Or, by comparison to the standard of our most brilliant ethical President Ever…and more popular than ever in the Whore on Women: “lying doesn’t rise to the level”….

    So, it can’t be true that every lie rises to the level of …The Fall – as long as I AM The One!

    I have to do what’s best for Me. Simple, isn’t it? So, given our ‘awareness’, it’s not whether we kneel or not – only who we kneel to.

    So how does any person know these self-evident Truths? Look in the mirror, smile, and speak the only Truth we know on our own authority: “i wish i were God…but i know i am not”.

    visit my thrashings about our basics on ?

  25. Alcohol was set up with 2 levels according to the % of alcohol. Setting up recreational drugs in a similar way would be a more responsible way to work at this problem. Marijuana is a natural ingredient so less harsh to the human system when not used in overdose amounts-some have said there is not overdose level. That would be similar to beer and wine-which do have overdose levels and young people especially tend to do this. Tax it all though. All the other illicit drugs area much more harmful in recreational amounts. Just set up a HOTEL CALIFORNIA in which they can check in but can’t check out. They can have their drugs and choose to overdose but don’t get to leave as they are actually in a vicious cycle of multiple near death episodes anyway.

    Before entering the HOTEL CALIFORNIA Drug City, they will be shown actual videos of the behavior of others high on drugs. They will be given one free week there and then they are not allowed to leave. They will have to take care of their own society and learn to live with their own mistakes. Society is tired of dealing with the messes they have produced and paying financially for their poor choices- such as medical and social care and the unfortunate children they produce.

    Freedom of choice is one thing but when they end up causing horrendous negative problems with others, their freedom is no longer theirs alone but causes negative problems for the rest of the society in which they live. If someone is so stupid as to not learn about something before getting involved, then they are lost. They are possibly in a category of: TOO STUPID TO LIVE. Without the protection of their modern society, they would have perished. Survival of the fittest has been violated.

    Taxpayers are tired of financially supporting the stupid and lazy.

    • Just set up a HOTEL CALIFORNIA in which they can check in but can’t check out.

      But this doesn’t change much. I understand the drugs outside of this HOTEL will still be prohibited. So it’s not like the 19th century level of freedom advocated here (and I’m highly doubtful of this full blown libertarian idea; it’s not like the 19th century is like the 21st century only with this single variable changed; that is, unless start analyzing things in the Krugman-one-variable-way :P).

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  29. Barack Obama never smoked a single joint – literally everything about him is fake, including your silly picture (and for the record getting high in a car with all the windows up is called “fishbowling”). Obama is the son of the King and Queen of Thailand- the King who’s older brother was shot. In any event, Obama is a 100% pure Illuminatus – the son of the most wealthy monarch in the world, perfectly fluent in Arabic, and a doppleganger. There is a very good reason Obama’s “name” is so close to that of our never-existed Islamic mastermind. I wish you all good luck in running the globe.

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