Saturday, January 27, 2007

A series of sub-clinical doses

Back in the 1970’s, Anchorage Alaska was a wild western town. The building of the trans-Alaska pipeline put huge amounts of cash into the hands of people who didn’t have much experience with that kind of money. Many young men worked hard on the North Slope (where there was no opportunity to spend money) for a two-week shift and then they partied even harder in a town where they had no family. It is not surprising that in those days before the rise of Aids and the invention of crack, that sex, drugs and rock’n’roll were the order of the day.

I suppose it was like the boomtowns where George W. Bush being an irresponsible youth in 1972, when he was arrested for cocaine possession. (Not to be confused with his arrests for theft and vandalism in 1968, and drunk driving in 1976.)

Cocaine sold in those days for about $100 a gram, about the price of 117 gallons of gasoline. (Today, you would have to pay $300 bucks for that much gas.) Even a rich, well connected party animal like George W. Bush who went to the expense and trouble of acquiring a gram of coke was likely to want to make it last.

And therein hangs a tale.

See, in order to ration out the cocaine, a lot of people would do a little bit, and then wait for the cocaine to take effect. After a period of time, they would feel that for $100 bucks, they should be feeling a little more euphoric, and so, they would take another little bit.

Problem was, the first little bit had worn off, its de minimus effects unnoticed, and now the second little bit, had the same unnoticeable effect. A parsimonious user could go through an entire gram of cocaine with no noticeable effect, other than the loss of a C note. I knew a woman with a medical background who used a memorable phrase to describe the phenomenon: “a series of sub-clinical doses.”

After 9/11, it made sense to go after the Taliban in Afghanistan, who had harbored the murderous al Qaeda. We sent in CIA, troops and airpower and destroyed the leadership in Afghanistan. But we did not root out all the supporters of the Taliban. Rather, we used just enough force to get the job almost done and then we pulled off troops to make them available for the adventure in Iraq. Today, the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan.

King George the Incompetent started a war in Iraq with just enough troops to defeat an enemy that had not been allowed to re-arm since the time his father defeated them in the first gulf war. The troops – and God bless ’em every one – won the war, but there simply weren’t enough of them to keep the peace.

As a result of the failure of planning –actually a failure to pay attention to the plans that Pentagon planners had made -- there are armed militias and they are engaged in a civil war. We are told that the Shi’ite armed militias are armed by Iran, and it makes sense to me.

You would think that after losing 3,000 troops, and spending $361 trillion we should have a little more to show for it than a banner on an aircraft carrier proclaiming “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.”

Now Dumb Dubya wants to surge the number of troops. You might call it an escalation, but that would be considered tasteless, since it is redolent of Viet Nam. He’s talking about sending in another 21,500 troops, which is about a 15% increase. You might look at it as just another in a series of sub-clinical doses.

King George the Incompetent decided before the war that he would not heed the advice of anyone who knew what they are doing. He would send in just enough troops to not get the job done. That’s why I described this plan as “more of the same, only more so.”

That Dubya is as steady as a rock. Only dumber.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

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