Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Conversation About Ending Prohibition

El Paso City Council member Beto O'Rourke says ending prohibition is looking like one of the more attractive solutions to the violence along the Mexican border.

His representative in Congress DemocratSilvestre Reyes said in effect: we don't want no stinkin debate.
the El Paso city council voted 8-0 to express solidarity with its sister city in Mexico, Juarez, which has seen its murder rate double this year alone as the Mexican government has waged war on powerful drug cartels. To slow that violence, the resolution called for "an honest, open national debate on ending the prohibition of narcotics."

That was enough to get Washington's attention.

Mayor John Cook vetoed the resolution and Rep. Silvestre Reyes, a Democrat who represents El Paso in Congress, lobbied each councilmember, making it clear that if the resolution calling for a debate passed, El Paso would risk losing money in the upcoming stimulus legislation. Five Texas House representatives made the same threat.

"Funding for local law enforcement efforts and other important programs to our community are likely being put in jeopardy," lawmakers warned in a letter to the city, "especially during a time when state resources are scarce."

Four members of the council switched their votes and supported the veto; three of them publicly cited the funding threat as the reason for backing down.
Here is how it works first your Representative brings home the bacon, but after a while you find you are owned by the butcher.
City Rep. Beto O'Rourke, the sponsor of the legalization amendment, said that "the threat from Congressman Reyes, then articulated again by our House delegation at the state level is unfortunate, but it's having its desired affect, which is to chill discussion."

"I haven't heard a specific congressman or senator who has threatened to withhold that money, just vague, unspecific threats that should we have the courage of our convictions, money will be withheld from this community," said O'Rourke.

The council passed the resolution last week as a way to combat the spiraling violence that threatens to undermine the neighboring Mexican state and spill over into the United States. "We are witness to the collapse of civil authority in a city of more than 1.5 million people, a city where many of us work or have family, and a city which contributes over $2 billion a year to our local economy," argued O'Rourke. "Add to this a very real national security threat, recently highlighted by former U.S. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, that we face the looming prospect of a failed state on our southern border."

A group of law enforcement officers who oppose drug prohibition descended on El Paso to urge the councilmembers not to backpedal from their original votes. Terry Nelson, a retired federal officer and former drug warrior, has been lobbying the city council and published an op-ed in the Sunday El Paso Times. "Only when we take away their profit margins by legalizing drugs will the cartels' financial incentive for murder disappear," wrote Nelson, a member of the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). "It perplexes me that Mayor John Cook and other observers dismiss outright the notion that we should even talk about ending prohibition, as if not discussing it has fostered great results for us so far."
You know there may be a reason that even discussion of legalization is off the table:

"The Latin American drug cartels have stretched their tentacles much deeper into our lives than most people believe. It's possible they are calling the shots at all levels of government." - William Colby, former CIA Director, 1995

It is quite possible that the drug cartels own the US Congress. After all it is obvious that they own Mexico. What is to stop their money from crossing the border? Or just never leaving the USA?
On Tuesday night, after hours of debate, O'Rourke argued -- unsuccessfully -- that bowing to federal pressure would set a precedent they should avoid. "All we're asking for is a conversation, and no important issue in the history of the United States -- social, criminal, legal or otherwise -- has ever been harmed by having an open discussion. That's all we're asking for today," he said.

"It's not just this issue. It sets a precedent that when debate is to be chilled, when positions are to be changed, people higher up will threaten us that we'll lose our money, and you have to ask yourselves if you can live with that."

Reyes, however, told the Huffington Post that he doesn't oppose a debate on legalization. He only opposed the timing, coming as it did as Obama was meeting with the Mexican president and Congress was debating the stimulus.
Yep. He questions the timing. It should not be today or tomorrow that is for sure. I think the only acceptable timing for the Feds is never.

However, events in Mexico may make the preferred timing impossible for too much longer.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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