Joe Califano: Just as stupid as ever; after all these years.

June 19, 2010

Joe Califano: Just as stupid as ever; after all these years.

Joseph A. Califano, Jr., is a native New Yorker, Harvard educated lawyer, and career bureaucrat who entered federal service in 1961 after a stint in the Navy and soon became a behind-the-scenes power in the Johnson Administration after JFK’s assassination. He later served as Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of Health Education and Welfare between 1977 and 1979.

Unfortunately, a misguided interest in Medicine has apparently kept him enamored of the false notion that criminal prohibition can be rehabilitated into good public policy, thus he founded the Center for Addiction and Drug Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia) which has since become entrenched as a drug war propaganda machine with a prestigious Ivy League address. While editing a low-budget drug policy newsletter between 1997 and 200I, I became very familiar with an unending stream of CASA “studies” that inevitably found evidence in favor of coerced “treatment” while decrying the money spent on criminal prosecution. In fact, one of the more pleasant consequences of my recent immersion in a study of cannabis users had been not having to deal with the conundrum represented by Mr. Califano and his ilk: are they evil or just stupid?

Sadly, the latest evidence has me leaning more toward evil. Yesterday afternoon, during my return from Oakland after interviews with nine typical victims of cannabis prohibition had left me more convinced than ever of the policy’s stupidity, good old clueless NPR provided me with nearly ten minutes of teeth-gnashing evidence of its fecklessness: a report on the latest carnage in Mexico followed by a typical witless endorsement from Joe C.

Now I get it. Like anything human it’s not all or none, but a combination of the two: thus anyone who takes Joe Califano seriously must be as evil AND stupid as he is.

Doctor Tom