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April 2007
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A masterpiece of chicanery

This is a work of art. Dick Morris and Eileen McGann have the slimiest piece of work I’ve seen in some time in today’s New York Post: A Drug War Dilemma.
The piece is actually about the Colombia free trade agreement (which Morris and McGann support), but the authors have chosen to frame it as being about the drug war and placed it in the New York Post to apply specific pressure on New York’s Charlie Rangel who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Now the free trade agreement is controversial. There are those who say that it’s nothing more than a gift to large multi-national corporations who will be given advantages over local industries and hurt the people of Colombia. There are those who say the only reason Colombia is agreeing to it is to get drug war aid. There are those who say it will mean the loss of jobs here. And others say it will provide strong economic development to a poor country. I don’t know all the details of the plan, so I can’t say for sure what will happen (although I have my guesses given the brilliance of our foreign aid policies).
However, who would have guessed that opposing the free trade agreement means that black people will destroy their lives with drugs? That appears to be the argument Dick Morris and Eileen McGann are making.
First, they talk about how the war on drugs is working:

With the help of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Colombia has been making sensational progress in the war on drugs.

That’s some dream world…
They also talk about the connection between having profitable alternative products and giving the farmers something else to grow besides coca. Now that’s a reasonable point, but it’s much more complicated than they’re willing to discuss (as long as the drug trade is more profitable and controlled by criminals, the option to grow Dole™ fruits and flowers won’t change the lives of the people very much), and it won’t change the availability of drugs here in the United States.
But Morris and McGann aren’t interested in discussing the finer points of free trade. No, they see an opening they can exploit — hit Charlie Rangel with the drugs on the streets bit. See if you can see the pattern:

REP. Charlie Rangel (D-Harlem) faces a crucial choice: As chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, will he do what’s needed to keep drugs off the streets? He’s a key man in ratifying the free-trade agreement between the United States and Colombia – and that accord will have real consequences on 125th Street and across America. […]
The administration’s position leaves Rangel with a clear choice: Do the bidding of the AFL-CIO – or pass the treaty as-is and reduce the flow of drugs to his district. […]
While the Bush administration is committed to fighting drugs, too, its concern is a bit more theoretical than that of the congressman from Harlem. […]
The free-trade agreement with Colombia is of vital importance to all those who take the war on drugs seriously – most of all, one would think, Charlie Rangel. [emphasis added]

It really is impressive. The extremely subtle racism. The misdirection. The political calculations. Amazing.

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