Bush's War on Pot 

Bush's War on Pot 
Posted by CN Staff on July 28, 2005 at 10:46:51 PT
By Robert Dreyfuss
Source: Rolling Stone 
USA -- America's long-running war on drugs has, literally, gone to pot. More than two decades after it was launched in response to the spread of crack cocaine -- and in the midst of a brand-new wave of methamphetamine use sweeping the country -- the government crackdown has shifted from hard drugs to marijuana. Pot now accounts for nearly half of drug arrests nationwide -- up from barely a quarter of all busts a decade ago. Spurred by a Supreme Court decision in June affirming the right of federal agents to crack down on medical marijuana.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has launched a series of high-profile raids against pot clinics in California, and police in New York, Memphis and Philadelphia have been waging major offensives against pot smokers that are racking up thousands of arrests.By almost any measure, however, the war has been as monumental a failure as the invasion of Iraq. All told, the government sinks an estimated $35 billion a year into the War on Drugs. Yet illegal drugs remain cheap and plentiful, and coca cultivation in the Andes -- where the Bush administration has spent $5.4 billion to eradicate cocaine -- rose twenty-nine percent last year. "Drug prices are at an all-time low, drug purity is at an all-time high, and polls show that drugs are more available than ever," says Bill Piper, national affairs director for the Drug Policy Alliance, a drug-reform organization in Washington, D.C. Drug smugglers and South American cocaine growers, he adds, are fast developing new ways to evade U.S. eradication efforts. "All they have to do is double their efforts," he says. "They can adapt more quickly than the government can."Given the government's failure to halt the flow of drugs, many soldiers who eagerly enlisted in the war are beginning to desert the cause. In March, the archconservative American Enterprise Institute published a report -- titled "Are We Losing the War on Drugs?" -- that concluded "criminal punishment of marijuana use does not appear to be justified." Scores of states and cities, whose jails and courts are bursting at the seams with people serving lengthy sentences for minor drug offenses, are rejecting harsh sentencing laws backed by the White House. And most schools and employers are deciding not to test students and workers for drugs, despite a national testing push by John Walters, the tough-talking drug warrior who became America's "drug czar" in 2001. Even the Pentagon, engaged in fighting real wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has quietly cut back on its efforts to interdict drug traffickers in the Caribbean and Central America."Americans will be disappointed to learn that the War on Drugs is not what they thought it was," says Mitch Earleywine, associate professor of psychology at the University of Southern California. "Many of us grew up supporting this war, thinking it would imprison high-level traffickers of hard drugs and keep cocaine and heroin off the streets. Instead, law enforcement officers devote precious hours on hundreds of thousands of arrests for possession of a little marijuana."Since taking over as drug czar, Walters has launched an extraordinary effort to depict marijuana as an addictive "gateway" to other, more powerful drugs. "Marijuana use, especially during the teen years, can lead to depression, thoughts of suicide and schizophrenia," he declared in May. Trying to capitalize on fears of terrorism, Walters has linked drugs to terror, running a much-derided series of television ads suggesting that the money marijuana users spend on pot winds up funding terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda."For Walters, it's all marijuana, all the time," says Graham Boyd, director of the Drug Law Reform Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. "He is reinforcing the atmosphere that marijuana is the drug we should care about, and that the government will do everything it can, including locking everyone up, if that's what it comes to."In June, the anti-pot crusade got a boost from the Supreme Court, which ruled that federal authorities can crack down on medical marijuana, even in states where it has been legalized. A few weeks after the ruling, as part of Operation Urban Harvest, scores of federal agents swooped down on pot clubs that supply patients in San Francisco. They raided dozens of homes, businesses and growing areas, seizing 9,300 pot plants and arresting fifteen people on federal drug charges. At one dispensary, the Herbal Relief Center, agents seized computer records, medical files and plants."We can't disregard the federal law," said Javier Pena, special agent in charge at the DEA. "The Supreme Court reiterates that we have the power to enforce the federal drug laws -- even if they are not popular. We're going to continue to do that."Since 1992, according to a recent analysis of federal crime statistics by the Sentencing Project, arrests for marijuana have soared from 300,000 a year to 700,000. The government spends an estimated $4 billion a year arresting and prosecuting marijuana crimes -- more than it spends on treating addiction for all drugs -- and more and more of those busts are for possession rather than dealing. One in four people currently in state prisons for pot offenses are classified as "low-level offenders." In New York, arrests for possession -- which now account for nine of every ten busts -- are up twenty-five-fold during the past decade. In Memphis, marijuana arrests are up nineteenfold, and large spikes have also been recorded in Philadelphia, Las Vegas and Houston.Walters insists that the surge in arrests is having a "deterrent effect," scaring kids away from smoking pot. Testifying before Congress in February, he reported that the administration has exceeded its goal of reducing teen drug use by ten percent. "Over the past three years," he declared, "there has been a seventeen percent decrease in teenage drug use."But in reality the numbers for pot use have remained remarkably steady. About a third of all teens and young adults report having smoked pot in the past year, as do one in seven adults over thirty-five. And despite the government's all-out assault on marijuana, there's still plenty to go around. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, part of the Justice Department, as much as 19,000 tons of pot are still harvested each year in the United States, with more coming from abroad.To catch more marijuana users, Walters has launched a nationwide effort to persuade schools to conduct drug tests on student athletes -- and even entire student populations. The drug czar has asked Congress for $25 million to support drug testing next year, up from $10 million this year and just $2 million in 2004, and he is leading a series of national summits on student drug testing. The Supreme Court has upheld drug testing of students involved in sports and other extracurricular activities, and the Bush administration believes "extracurricular activity" can be stretched to include any student who parks on campus. "The court did not elaborate on random drug testing of student populations," says Jennifer de Vallance, a spokeswoman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy. "But we think that schools would be on very safe ground to conduct that kind of testing."Studies have shown, however, that such tests fail to deter students from using drugs. They're also inaccurate: Because hard drugs such as cocaine and crack exit a user's system quickly, most tests manage to detect only marijuana use. "Drug testing is, in effect, marijuana testing, because that is what stays in your system," says Boyd of the ACLU. As a result, fewer than five percent of schools currently conduct drug tests, and many companies are giving up on the practice as well. According to a survey by the American Management Association, only forty-four percent of firms currently screen employees for drugs -- down from sixty-eight percent a decade ago. The administration is also running into widespread opposition over its efforts to force welfare recipients and public-housing residents to pass drug tests in order to qualify for benefits. Michigan, the only state that requires welfare recipients to undergo drug testing, recently suspended its program when a federal court declared such testing illegal.Even more striking, states are backing away from the tough mandatory-minimum sentencing laws that have put tens of thousands of pot smokers behind bars for years, stretching state budgets to the breaking point. Unlike federal drug hawks, who continue to call for even harsher penalties, more than two dozen states have rolled back or repealed state mandatory minimums. "The federal government continues its love affair with mandatory minimums, but the states are moving in the other direction," says Monica Pratt, spokeswoman for Families Against Mandatory Minimums. "Most people aren't worrying as much about drugs these days. It's just not at the top of their list anymore."The war on pot diverts money and manpower from fighting far more harmful drugs. While the feds target pot smokers, a burgeoning meth epidemic is swamping rural communities, especially in the West and the Great Plains. Nearly half of state and local law-enforcement agencies identify meth as their greatest drug threat -- compared with only one in eight for marijuana -- and more than 1 million Americans use the highly addictive drug, which is linked to violent crime, explosions and fires at meth labs, severe health problems, and child and family abuse. In 2003, drug agents busted a staggering 10,182 meth labs, and the fight against meth is straining the resources of local police and sheriffs in small towns. But the White House has proposed slashing federal aid for rural narcotics teams by half. "If those cuts go through, they're going to totally wipe us out," says Lt. Steve Dalton, leader of a drug task force in southwest Missouri.Over the past four years, as the War on Drugs has been eclipsed by the War on Terror, the administration has been forced to scale back its expensive and ineffective efforts to stem the tide of drugs from South America. President Bush has barely mentioned drugs since September 11th, and key federal agencies, from the Department of Defense to the FBI, are quietly bowing out of the anti-drug crusade to concentrate their attention on Iraq and Al Qaeda. "The number-one stated priority for the FBI is to prevent another attack," says a spokesman for the bureau, which has diverted hundreds of agents from its anti-drug task forces to anti-terrorism work. "Other things are not the primary focus. We've had to retool."For the agencies now grouped within the new Department of Homeland Security, the ones responsible for border security -- the Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs -- preventing terrorists from entering the country trumps their anti-drug mission. The Pentagon, meanwhile, has shipped troops responsible for drug interdiction in South and Central America to the Middle East. Surveillance flights in the Caribbean have been cut back by more than two-thirds. "We're concerned about the ability of the Defense Department to continue to provide support to law enforcement for drug interdiction," says an aide to Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., who chairs the House subcommittee that oversees the War on Drugs.For the military, the drug war has become a convenient training ground for troops heading to Iraq and Afghanistan. Joint Task Force North, a unit under the U.S. Northern Command, is supposed to provide military assistance to U.S. law enforcement agencies, especially in Southwestern states along the Mexican border. But after soldiers from a Stryker brigade based in Alaska recently spent sixty days training in "rugged desert terrain" to support the border patrol, they were promptly given their marching orders for Iraq."This is what we term a win-win situation," says Armando Carrasco, a Northcom spokesman. "We provide assistance, and we get training directly related to our activities."Those "activities" have left the feds with fewer troops to fight the drug war. With America engaged in a quagmire in Iraq, at great cost in lives and money, the administration is simply unable to push its anti-drug agenda with the same intensity. "The president could sell the War on Drugs in peacetime," says Timothy Lynch, director of the Project on Criminal Justice at the conservative Cato Institute. "But they don't want to embarrass themselves now that we're in the midst of an honest-to-God shooting war. To continue that kind of rhetoric in the middle of a real war, when American soldiers are getting blown up in Iraq, makes it look trivial. There's just no comparison."Note: Forget meth and other hard-core drugs -- the administration would rather waste taxpayer dollars in an all-out assault on marijuana. Source: Rolling Stone (US) Author: Robert DreyfussPublished: July 28, 2005Copyright: 2005 Rolling StoneContact: letters rollingstone.comWebsite: Related Articles & Web Site:Drug Policy Alliance War on Pot: Wrong Drug, Wrong War Becomes Focus of Drug War Behind 45 Percent of U.S. Drug Arrests 
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Comment #30 posted by Hope on September 04, 2005 at 08:04:30 PT
"The mag"?
You mean our own Stan White made an issue of Rolling Stone?Hey, it isn't the "cover"... but it's Rolling Stone! Thanks Rolling Stone! Thanks Stan!
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Comment #29 posted by FoM on September 03, 2005 at 17:59:32 PT
Another good job! I hope you have a good and safe holiday weekend.
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Comment #28 posted by The GCW on September 03, 2005 at 17:52:06 PT
3 LTE's from the mag; issue 982; Sept. 8, 2005
3 LTE's from the mag; issue 982; Sept. 8Buzz Kill (1 of 3)As the Aunt of a young man who rcently overdosed on heroin, I could not agree more with your story asserting that the Bush administration’s focus on marijuana is horribley misguidd [RS 980]. Round up a hundrend junkies and ask, “What was the point of no return?” I’m confident that none will say it was pot. Going after marijuana to lessen the availability of hard drugs is like giving out parking tickets when the guy next to you is selling crack – technically your’re doing your job, but in reality your’re taking the easy way out.M. A. White
New Rochelle, NYBuzz Kill (2 of 3)Marijuana has never killed anyone, but it does help ease the suffering of cancer patients. I went through chemo and nothing the pill pushers gave me made me feel better than a few bong hits. Yet the government keeps marijuana on the list of drugs with no medical use. That’s just wrong.Roy Siegmund, Kansas City, KSBuzz Kill (3 of 3)Robert Dreyfuss’ Article hit a bull’s-eye in exposing the high price of anti-pot enforcement. Caging humans for using a Godgiven plant is absurd. The cost of cannabis prohibition is higher that the buzz itself.Stan WhiteDillon, CO
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Comment #27 posted by afterburner on August 04, 2005 at 12:44:20 PT
Look How Well the War on Cannabis Protects Kids? 
School bus drivers, employees among 29 charged in Oxycontin ring
Tampa Bay's 10, FL - 1 hour ago
Miami, Florida -- School bus drivers, attendants and other school employees are among ... part in an illegal drug ring involving the powerful painkiller Oxycontin. ... drivers, responsible for safe-guarding the nation's student children, are involved with a dangerous, addictive painkiller, Oxycontin, cousin of heroin. Meanwhile, the US Drugged Czar continues to see cannabis, even medical cannabis, as America's greatest "drug" threat!
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Comment #26 posted by afterburner on July 31, 2005 at 01:16:32 PT
Support the Cause: 'If We Don't Hang Together...
BCMP Decries Loss of Canadian Sovereignty 
by Kirk Tousaw (30 Jul, 2005) Help free Marc Emery from American tyrany's 4:20. You know what to do. It's always 4:20 somewhere on God's green Earth.
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Comment #25 posted by afterburner on July 31, 2005 at 01:01:29 PT
Living 'As If'
After leaving jail last year, Emery said, "Once you get over your fear of whatever they can do to you, you become empowered to just live as if marijuana is legal, without much concern for the consequences they threaten you with. Whatever they do to me- arrest, incarceration, even if they kill me- it's not going to make me live in fear. We're going to continue to show them that marijuana should be legal, that our culture is harmless and vibrant, and that it is the drug war, not the cannabis culture, which threatens public order and safety." --Emery empire raided at request of United States 
by Jennifer Garner (29 Jul, 2005) Cannabis activist and two others arrested"The search warrants were authorized at the highest levels of the provincial government in concert with a cross-border US-Canada law enforcement pact created by a US-authored Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters treaty (MLAT) between the US and Canada."Canada, be a hu(man): pull out of the MLAT before you lose all Sovereignty!
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Comment #24 posted by FoM on July 29, 2005 at 11:27:01 PT
I know I don't need to do anything but pay taxes and die but I wanted to do it. I hope it works for you.
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Comment #23 posted by jose melendez on July 29, 2005 at 11:19:33 PT
you don't need to!
I'm just a worker bee, as you know! 
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Comment #22 posted by FoM on July 29, 2005 at 11:09:43 PT
I hope this works ok. I checked and it works with IE and FireFox. If you get published again it won't show up on here though. I just thought you might like this so I had time and made this page for you.
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Comment #21 posted by FoM on July 29, 2005 at 08:34:12 PT
You're Welcome Jose
Here's a link that will show you what CNews is doing as far as stats go. The summer months are very slow but we will be up again this month from last year by 25 percent or so.
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Comment #20 posted by jose melendez on July 29, 2005 at 08:21:18 PT
a million hits this month!
Sometimes I wish I was more humble, I'd possibly misspeak less. I had started writing a list of the far more prolific and LTE writers like Stan White, Kirk Muse, Stephen Heath and Robert Sharpe, but then remembered I am trying to say more with less, and truncated my comments . . .That said, I noticed CNEWS is over 1 million hits this month! Wow! Thanks, FoM. 
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Comment #19 posted by FoM on July 29, 2005 at 07:58:31 PT
I think you are right. Being involved in drug policy issues because of the nature of the beast sure keeps us humble! LOL!
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on July 29, 2005 at 07:56:45 PT
One More Note
In two more articles CNews will turn over to 21,000 articles posted. Sometimes CNews breaks and Matt needs to fix something when we turn over. I have talked with Matt and he thinks it's ready for the turn over but if it breaks it will get fixed. I thought I should mention it ahead of time so if it happens not to worry.
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Comment #17 posted by BGreen on July 29, 2005 at 07:56:03 PT
I'll bet there are a lot of letters being written
under those "fake" names that other people call us by that go unrecognized here on CNews, but are nonetheless effective for our cause.The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on July 29, 2005 at 07:48:16 PT
Just a Note
If anyone talks to Matt or maybe Observer and would ask them about adding LTE links to LTEs from people here please ask them. Maybe if others ask then just me they might do it.
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Comment #15 posted by jose melendez on July 29, 2005 at 07:46:09 PT
I am honored, FoM. I want to encourage everyone to please write more, as such letters are an effective method to expose the tyranny and fraud that oppresses us all.Know history, or repeat with renewed vigor!Here is what has cached of my letters to date: peace. - jm - - -The student of knowledge has great significance and the people of knowledge are the select amongst the creation. Upon them are obligations and responsibilities over and above everyone else.The Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "Everyone is a shepherd, and is responsible for his flock." [Bukhaaree] The people of knowledge are shepherds and guides. They should be concerned about society as it is their flock...’
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on July 29, 2005 at 07:38:14 PT
Thanks BGreen
I really would love to add a link to CNews front page with published LTE of people who are regulars here but I can't do it myself. It would be nice if it could have the background of CNews too but there again that would be up to Matt.
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Comment #13 posted by BGreen on July 29, 2005 at 07:33:36 PT
I count 32 for Jose. Way to go! White is number 4 with 222 LTE's! is an awesome man. I'm glad he and Jose are cranking out the letters that are I know are better than average because they get printed.The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on July 29, 2005 at 07:00:59 PT
How many LTE have you had published and posted on Mapinc? Is there a link to your letters? If so I'd like to add the link to one of my FTE pages. I can't add anything to CNews because it takes Matt to do that but I can on my personal page. I don't correspond with anyone at Mapinc. or I'd ask them.
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Comment #11 posted by jose melendez on July 29, 2005 at 05:43:09 PT
I got the links in comment #10 backwards, but there are only 140,000 hits or so a day on cnews, so who cares? ;)
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Comment #10 posted by jose melendez on July 29, 2005 at 05:38:28 PT
Interesting idea, we could use the millions to bribe, I mean lobby Congress as our competitors do.Then we would not be using the herb illegally, as cannabis would be legal, as it probably already is because drug war is crime . . .And they think circular logic says nothing:'Is this draft response okay -- i.e., does it succeed in saying nothing at all?' - - -Published again: In reference to:
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Comment #9 posted by OverwhelmSam on July 29, 2005 at 04:26:42 PT
US Drug Problem Eradicated
This could really work. It would be cheaper than enforcement and more effective than incarceration to simply offer all Cannabis users a million dollars to quit using Cannabis illegally.I would take the million and forever quit using Cannabis illegally. I would be promptly retiring to a country where it's legal. Bam! US drug problem solved overnight, but it would never happen. To many industries depend on drug users for their jobs. 
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Comment #8 posted by billos on July 29, 2005 at 04:06:59 PT
...No, the Drug War started...
in 1937 when Harry Anslinger convinced Congress to ban cannabis because it made black men who smoked it look a white woman in the eye. It also made white women tap their feet to jazz. (just two of their several scientific reasons)I would love to see anyone force Congress to debate the original reasons why cannabis was banned.
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Comment #7 posted by charmed quark on July 28, 2005 at 19:15:18 PT
Nice article, but ...
The intro is misleading. The drug war didn't start 20 years ago to fight crack, it started under Nixon 35-some yeats ago to fight pot. It was ramped up 20 years ago with hysteria over crack.
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Comment #6 posted by MikeC on July 28, 2005 at 18:21:05 PT
I agree 100%!This article needs to be seen on the cover of as many papers and magazines possible!
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Comment #5 posted by b4daylight on July 28, 2005 at 18:17:48 PT
RIght on
I wonder how many rolling stones subscribers smoke pot...
This article needs to be stuck on the front page of the NYT or Post or Usa Today... I love the article it hit on alot of good points...Comment #3 posted by PainWithNoInsurance on July 28, 2005 at 12:22:10 PT
Turning to hard drugsWell I know meth and coke takes about 2 days with urnine,,, from research I did... Alcohol takes also two days to remove it from your blood. I would agree why not do meth or lsd or herion if it will only last a couple days.... Rather than risking it and doing pot which last 2 weeks or more when supposly it is as bad as the rest. some interesting things about this...
I wonder how much steriod testing goes on? These are expensive tests to perfom.... Second it would be interesting to see what they test for?
Currently the Tea act (the one the federal gov. makes you take)does not test for things like LSD, Steriods, Psychoblin, or ecastey. 
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Comment #4 posted by global_warming on July 28, 2005 at 15:35:09 PT
Nice Article
The cost of this War on drugs, the billions of dollars, has not much impact on the mind of an average man.The average man, knows that taxes and death,Are the ultimate reward of this life.The average man, is waking up,The cost of fuel will quickly capture, his attention, but will he be able to look ahead, to see his favorite summer time Peach, become so much more valuable?Winter, will soon be blowing a chill on my front doorstep, reminding me, of those less fortunate, when that cold reaches into your bones, who will you run to, some dead jew on a barren cross, or to that warm fire, that will let you stop shaking?gw
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Comment #3 posted by PainWithNoInsurance on July 28, 2005 at 12:22:10 PT
Turning to hard drugs
This is such a good atricle.I didn't know that hard drugs exit a person's system quickly. I wonder how quickly it does because this would say to me that drug testing is turning young people to hard drugs. QUOTE:
Because hard drugs such as cocaine and crack exit a user's system quickly, most tests manage to detect only marijuana use. "Drug testing is, in effect, marijuana testing, because that is what stays in your system," says Boyd of the ACLU. If they are so determined to have a drug free society then why haven't they tried to come up with some kind of a reward system for BEING drug free, but instead they have the opposite (a punishment system). It just sounds like they are more hate motivated than helping. 
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Comment #2 posted by observer on July 28, 2005 at 12:20:21 PT
Bait and Switch, 101
"Many of us grew up supporting this war, thinking it would imprison high-level traffickers of hard drugs and keep cocaine and heroin off the streets. Instead, law enforcement officers devote precious hours on hundreds of thousands of arrests for possession of a little marijuana."The old bait and switch. Politicians and other toadies for government power make you believe in the existence of some "crisis." The government "solution"? More government power. Only long after do the righteously indignant dupes learn the crisis was hyped for the ready-made government "solution". The scenario is repeated endlessly. The crises must all sound so plausble, because the sheep fall for it every time.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on July 28, 2005 at 10:48:03 PT
Thank You Rolling Stone
We need articles that really say it like they see it.
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