Dig deep into a prohibitionist and you may find…

El Paso

County Commissioner Willie Gandara, Jr.:

In September, he said in a statement that drug legalization was a bad idea for the country in a story in the El Paso Times.

“Legalizing drugs is the coward practice of combating cartels, it is an insult to our men and women in law enforcement, and the laziest form of parenting our children and youth about the effects of drugs,” Gandara said.

Gandara said that he could not back former city Rep. Beto O’Rourke in his bid for Congress because O’Rourke had advocated the legalization of marijuana as a way of taking money from Mexican drug cartels.

“As a parent, it is common sense for me to support Congressman (Silvestre) Reyes who is against the legalization of drugs. Unfortunately, on (sic) this upcoming primary election we will have many wolves in sheep’s clothing running for office who are seeking election with an ulterior agenda to legalize drugs.”

Yep. That’s a hard-core prohibitionist, all right.

Yesterday, Willie Gandara was arrested on federal drug trafficking charges.

Ethan Nadelmann asks the interesting question:

Hypocrisy or self interest?

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36 Responses to Dig deep into a prohibitionist and you may find…

  1. darkcycle says:

    In answer to Nadelmann; Yes.

  2. Dante says:

    How many drug warriors are corrupt? More than half?

    What percentage of “public servants” are really serving only themselves? More than half?

    And the big one: Why do We The People always have to pay for all of it? Why don’t the corrupt, self-serving “public servants” sacrifice their pensions and their houses and cars and dirty money to We The People when they are caught instead of using taxpayer money to pay for restitution and settlements after trial?

    Why? Because the corrupt, self-serving “public servants” said so. And we would be traitors if we don’t kneel down and obey the corrupt, self-serving “public servants”.

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

    • Dave K, Phoenix, AZ says:

      Unfortunately, it is not against the law for a politician to lie to the American people. It would seem in a democracy, though, that this kind of lying should be considered treason for the simple reason that voters need the truth to be able to make an informed decision. Our founding fathers were right to teach us to distrust our government. This is a very good example of why we should continue to do so.

  3. I haven’t plugged my site here in awhile, so…

    If you live in Connecticut and want to end marijuana prohibition in our state, please take a minute to visit http://www.ctprimaryproject.com.

    Please pass this on to anyone you know in Connecticut!

  4. claygooding says:

    It makes you wonder if Biden,Kerli,and most of the Senate and House are receiving checks from a guy named Jose every month.

    What would it cost the cartels for a million to each and every politician a year is a drop in the bucket out of the estimate the FBI and ONDCP gave congress last summer.

  5. Francis says:

    In fairness, not all politicians who support prohibition are corrupt. Some of them are just stupid.

    • rita says:

      Oh, please! These people don’t even take a shit without surveys and statistics and projections. There’s no way any of them could possibly unaware of the consequences of prohibition. NOBODY is that stupid.

  6. allan says:

    gosh, color me surprised. Not…

    If only someone had pointed out that Prohibition = corruption. What’s the matter w/ you all? I mean… gosh Beav

    • Francis says:

      Bingo. Here’s my standard “corruption” comment:

      Prohibition is inherently corrupting. When you outlaw certain drugs, you make them incredibly expensive (and hence incredibly profitable), and you grant a monopoly on this lucrative market to criminals. The law says that police should arrest and incarcerate the sellers of illicit drugs. Well, it turns out that most people are not too keen on being locked in a cage. The criminals, flush with obscene amounts of cash thanks to their black market profits, frequently use some of that money to bribe cops and other officials, whose other option is often a painful death. (The criminals also use some of that money to buy weapons and hire thugs.) Guess what? A lot of people given that choice will take the money. And because drug “crimes” involve consensual exchanges that don’t produce complaining witnesses, there’s no independent third party with the incentives to “police the police” and make sure that drug investigations are handled properly. Corruption was rampant during alcohol prohibition. It’s rampant today during drugs-other-than-alcohol prohibition.

  7. DuffedUpInBlackpool says:

    Thank you Pete, and County Commissioner Willie Gandara, Jr – you’ve both made my friggin’ day!

  8. mark says:

    El Paso is at the front line of our beloved drug war–I’ve lived here for 25 years. Gandara is corrupt AND stupid, likewise Congressweasel Reyes.

    There’s a great book put out last year by the above-referenced Beto O’Rourke and city councilwoman Susie Byrd. “Dealing Death and Drugs” is the best, most concise (100 small pages) argument I’ve ever seen for marijuana legalization (outside of this blog!). Just the facts ma’am, with complete footnotes & backup for those who need persuading…like some of my family. 🙁 It makes a fine gift for people you love who Just Don’t Get It and no, I’m not involved w/book at all. check it out & pass along.

    • Dave K, Phoenix, AZ says:

      Thank you for the recommendation. I just read the book (available on Amazon through Kindle) and was amazed at the story that she told. The level of corruption that is required to make the entire system work is disturbing. Also disturbing is the reaction of those in authority to their decision to do the right thing for the people involved and the obvious intent of those with power to withhold federal funds not to allow the story of how the decision was made to be told. I applaud the author’s courage to tell the story. This book should be read by everyone living near our southern border.

  9. ezrydn says:

    A man’s gotta cover his bottom line, don’t cha know! Evidently, it seems those who shout the loudest are more deeply involved in what they hate than they’re willing to admit.

  10. Homer Simpson says:


  11. Servetus says:

    Willie Gandara is typical. Robert Altemeyer, in his book The Authoritarians, describes the authoritarian in ways that resemble the typically unprincipled prohibitionist:

    “They are highly submissive to established authority, aggressive in the name of that authority and conventional to the point of insisting everyone should behave as their authorities decide. They are fearful and self-righteous and have a lot of hostility in them that they readily direct toward various out-groups. They are easily incited, easily led, rather un-inclined to think for themselves, largely impervious to facts and reason and rely instead on social support to maintain their beliefs. They bring strong loyalty to their in-groups, have thick-walled, highly compartmentalized minds, use a lot of double standards in their judgments, are surprisingly unprincipled at times and are often hypocrites.”

    Wilhelm Reich links the authoritarian personality with fascism:

    “Fascist mentality is the mentality of the subjugated “little man” who craves authority and rebels against it at the same time. It is not by accident that all fascist dictators stem from the milieu of the little reactionary man. The captains of industry and the feudal militarist make use of this social fact for their own purposes. A mechanistic authoritarian civilization only reaps, in the form of fascism, from the little, suppressed man what for hundreds of years it has sown in the masses of little, suppressed individuals in the form of mysticism, top-sergeant mentality and automatism.”

    Among prohibitionists, their ‘little man status’ is mitigated by arresting people who often possess a progressive and superior social and intellectual status, people who are far more aware of the facts concerning drugs and drug use than the prohibitionists themselves, and who consequently don’t need protection from drugs. Prohibitionists regard themselves as experts on drugs even though they reject basic drug facts that don’t fit their oppressive world view. This is exemplified in the prohibitionist rejection of medical marijuana, for instance.

    As Mike Lofgren notes:

    “In the right-wing id, freedom is the emotional release that a hostile and psychologically repressed person feels when he is finally able to lash out at the objects of his resentment. Freedom is his prerogative to rid himself of people who are different, or who unsettle him. Freedom is merging into a like-minded herd. Right-wing alchemy transforms freedom into authoritarianism.”


    “Here again we see the paradoxical nature of the authoritarian personality: rebelling against authority while hungering for it – exactly as the contemporary right wing fancies it is rebelling against big government while calling for intrusive social legislation and militarism.”

    Prohibitionism is a form of authoritarianism, making any attack upon authoritarianism equivalent to an attack upon prohibition.

  12. allan says:

    I keep reading that… I must have read it 6, 7 times now and I suffer a whole flush of emotions. I laugh, wince, chuckle, shake head in befuddlement and damn near cry every time.

    Is there a peak to absurd? I mean there’s absurd, patently absurd, freakishly absurd and holy shit! But this… (and I admit to a presumption of at least a lack of innocence on Gandara’s part) this is absurdly absurd. I read Gandara’s quotes and I think aaah, from the same school as Linda but it elevates beyond that. If I’d seen this on any of the bajillion CSI programs, I would’ve scoffed at the script writer.

    Damn. WE will read it, and get it. But you know the WalMartians won’t. I mean they might if it gets in People® magazine. Otherwise not so much. That it won’t matter any more than the house of death or the ATF sending guns to the cartels or the NIH finding out that cannabis fights cancer and the DEA burying the study is part of it’s absurdity.

    Ever listen to Firesign Theater whilst on lsd? It so makes sense! As weird as Firesign gets they always manage to get a specific poke in that penetrates even a psychedelicized skull. And in full color audio 3D no less…

    Entry (pending conviction):

    gandara (gon dar uh) n. 1. A two faced prohibitionist. 2. One who lacks morals. Syn. Hypocrite, immoral, politician, profiteer.

  13. allan says:

    OT (to this post…) from Tom at LEAP:


    *Friday, Feb. 24 at 9 p.m. ET*

    Hosted by John Stossel


    In this Fox News special, John Stossel investigates why America has become a country where no one can know what is legal.


    John Stossel argues that America has become a country where no one can know what is legal.

    Kids who open lemonade stands are now shutdown by police. Stossel tries to open a lemonade stand legally in NYC. That was quite an adventure. It takes 65 days to get permission from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

    With government adding 80,000 pages of rules and regulations every year, it’s no surprise that regular people break laws without even trying.

    A small businessman spent 6 years in federal prison for breaking
    Honduran regulations (and, to make it worse, the Honduran government said he didn’t). A family in Idaho can’t build a home on their land because the EPA says it’s a wetland—but it only resembles a wetland because a government drain malfunctioned and flooded it.

    TAXI TROUBLE: Want to start a taxi business? Too bad — it’s illegal. Illegal, that is, unless you buy a government-issued “taxi medallion” that can cost as much as a million dollars. One city has a free market for cabs — Washington, DC — but lobbyists there are pushing to regulate.

    ILLEGAL FOOD: Increasingly, government tells us what we can and can’t eat — bans on trans-fat, happy meals, “raw” foods. California officials raided a raw food club, and arrested clerks for selling unpasteurized milk. Farmer Joel Salatin, author of “Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal,” explains why Americans DON’T have the freedom to choose the food they eat.

    *ILLEGAL DRUGS: Drug use is illegal — but should it be? Where drugs are legal, businessmen replace gangs as the dealers and pay taxes. Portugal decriminalized all drugs 10 years ago–including crack, ecstasy, and heroin. What has happened since then? We go to Portugal and get the facts from police, politicians, and drug addicts.*

    ILLEGAL SEX: Our government bans prostitution because people think it’s a dirty, dangerous business. But in brothels where prostitution is legal there is no crime or disease. On this show, three sex workers confront a prosecutor.

    One bit of good news is that while there may be so many laws that no one knows if he’s a lawbreaker, it has never been easier to “watch the watchmen.” Tiny cameras in our iPods and cell phones allow citizens to film law enforcement and hold our government accountable. But in the last few years, cops have arrested and jailed people for taping in public. The arrests are not legal, but they happen anyway.

    Fortunately, arrests are caught on tape.

    • allan says:

      and the reason it came from Tom is that LEAP’s Neill Franklin was interviewed for the piece. And I know about assuming… but I suspect Neill will be in the section on illegal drugs. Just a guess.

    • Hope says:

      Just some of the things that make a government so easy to despise. We need government. We do not need this kind of “Protection” racket. I resent it and so do many others.

  14. Horny the Clown says:

    “The greater the number of laws, the more corrupt the republic.” Tacitus

  15. darkcycle says:

    Ah…my kid is finally asleep. Spark’em if ya got ’em

    • Peter says:

      DC…I’m sure this comment is the model of responsible parenting etc. etc. but why give people like Jackass the excuse to traduce us as drug addled? Twitter might be a better medium for your social updates.

      • darkcycle says:

        Not so fast there, Peter. I am certainly not the model of responsible parenting. And I could give two shitz in a cesspool what Jack Marshal (or most anybody else) thinks. I’m a pot smoker, (in my case, medical need, dontcha know) and I’m generally proud of it. I wear a drug war rant sweatshirt with a giant potleaf emblazoned on my back pretty much anytime. Some of my neighbors roll their eyes when they see me. Others are REAL friendly. I haven’t encountered Jack Marshal in my travels about, but I’d LOVE to walk past him streaming smoke from the joint I habitually smoke while walking my dog in my neighborhood. See, I’m an advocate, not a hypocrite or a suckass.

        • Peter says:

          It’s pretty obvious that Jackass and other prohibs read this blog. Why give them ammunition for their usual fallback response when cornered that drug reformers are disqualified from the debate due to the effects of their drug use?

        • darkcycle says:

          Because that would mean giving them a pass on an ad hominem tu quoque argument. it’s a fallacy to use alleged behavior to try to invalidate an argument. And I’d NEVER give an “ethicist” a pass on an obvious fallacy. And because I’m an anti-authoritarian by nature. Why would I deny it?

      • darkcycle says:

        ?..and what is this “Twitter” of which you speak?

        • darkcycle says:

          At this point the only reason I’m keeping the darkcycle moniker is out of courtesy for my wife and her career. It is simply a fact that “academic freedom” in this day and age, in this country, is a fiction.

        • darkcycle says:

          ….she’s going on sabatical next year, after that, she’s been tapped (it seems) as new department chair. We’ll see after that. Brian? You listenin?

        • darkcycle says:

          Nice… One more for the list: drugwarrant -I’m eating this donut as a direct result of the violence of prohibition. Legalize and regulate sprinkles!

      • Peter says:

        one particular problem we face as drug reformers is the stereotype of the “drug user.” it is far too easy for prohibs to attack us as being “pro drugs” because we “just want to get loaded.” this one reason why leap has been so effective in getting the public to start to see the fuller argument in favor of reform because they do not fit the cheech and chong stereotype thrown around by lazy and mendacious prohibs

  16. sleeping sleuth says:

    despite not wanting all drugs to be legal because a lot of them are quite easily problematic and i think just letting people have them until they do something serious (of course im not talking about marijuana. which is like the best drug out of almost all drugs every where and should be legalized) i am still for drug policy change in that i think it should mainly be about treatment and mostly focused on fines. all while still gunning after the cartels selling the more dangerous drugs (helping mexico with the problem we (US) contributed to). but I’d prefer to hold off till this “guy” gets one BIG SENTENCE.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Well you’re falling into a common trap sleeping sleuth. The only advice I have is to reconsider based on the thought that legalization is a wide continuum, and that the choices are not either draconian penalties or being forced to allow the sales reps from the heroin factory to set up promotional displays to hand out free samples in the lobbies of our elementary schools. The Swiss have already made limited legalization of heroin work much, much better than the US’ utter failure of absolute prohibition.

  17. Duncan20903 says:


    Well Mr. Gandara makes me wax nostalgic for my days in the black hole of cocaine. In that black hole being compelled to visit various courthouses from time to time is a fact of life. During one visit to the Arlington County, VA facility as a witness (no fooling, no plea bargain) the defendant was being represented by an Attorney named Tommy Morris Jr. Mr. Morris Sr was also a local attorney though I’m not sure why he dropped by. I suppose he went to all of Junior’s little league games too. During a break in the proceedings Mr. Morris Sr got self righteous to the point of apoplectic indignation screaming epitaphs of indignation over “dirtball cocaine pushers” (that would have been me). Some times there is a bit of karmic justice in the world. A couple of years later I had the distinct pleasure of writing to Mr. Morris Sr. in the Federal lockup and pointing out that I had never been convicted of cocaine trafficking, or been sentenced to 13 years in Club Fed for that.

    He did manage to get his sentence cut down to 2 years on appeal. There really aren’t very many people who get convicted of drug charges which find me pleased that it happened, but I make exceptions for hypocrites.

  18. allan says:

    TOT (Totally Off-Topic), blatant horn tooting self-promotion:

    A morningdonut blogpost of mine got picked up by a Hugo Award winning sci-fi fanzine (pdf), I’m on pg 16:


    See… I do know about stuff other than drug policy.

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