BFTN #18 2018-09-17
September 17, 2018
BFTN #19 2018-09-24
September 24, 2018
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Part TWENTY-THREE of our series on the WAR ON DRUGS – “Perot & Reagan”.

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Show Notes:

  • William Clements, Texas’ first Republican governor in 105 years.
  • He decided to launch a Texan War On Drugs.
  • And he decided to appoint Texas’s richest businessman to lead it: Ross Perot.
  • He forgot to tell Perot though.
  • Who was mightily pissed.
  • But when people started saying publicly that Perot would suck at the job, he said “oh yeah? You watch.”
  • He ended up putting on a roadshow throughout Texas, holding town meetings, PTA meetings, Lions Club luncheons, ladies auxiliary teas, anywhere they could gather a forum of concerned parents, warning them about the horrors of marijuana.
  • One of the guys he took with him was Carlton E. Turner – a scientist who was the Director of the federal government’s Marijuana Project.
  • It grew Cannabis sativa plants, processed the plant material into marijuana and supplied it as  standardized research marijuana to researchers throughout the world.
  • And he was – and IS – very anti-marijuana.
  • In 2016, he wrote an article for the American Centre for Democracy, where he stated:
  • The fact is that marijuana is a dirty drug with so many different side effects that it will never pass the required safety and efficacy testing for medicine. Marijuana can contain over 700 individual chemicals, and when smoked the number of chemicals expand to the thousands. The smoke contains 50 percent to 70 percent more cancer-causing compounds than tobacco.
  • Which we know is horseshit.
  • At least it is, according to Donald Tashkin of the University of California at Los Angeles, a pulmonologist who has studied marijuana for 30 years.
  • Perot had his corporate lawyer write legislation, too: mandatory life without parole for selling pot to a minor, complicated reporting requirements for pharmacists, expanded wiretap and search authority for police, and more.
  • The legislature wouldn’t bite, so Perot, Turner and Schuchard organized a drug-education seminar for the male legislators’ wives the day before the legislature opened in 1980.
  • They really arrive from all over Texas the day the session opened.
  • “You’re either for us or against us, ” Perot told the legislators through a press conference that morning.
  • His legislation passed.
  • On September 28, 1980, the Washington Post ran on page one a story depicting the life of “Jimmy,” a black eight-year-old who had been a heroin addict since the age of five.
  • Splendidly written by staff reporter Janet Cooke, “Jimmy’s World” described the needle sliding into “the baby smooth skin of his thin brown arms… like a straw into a freshly bakedcake,” Jimmy’s mother watching her “live-in- lover”” plunging a needle into [Jimmy’s] bony arm, sending the fourth grader into a hypnotic nod,” the violence and rapes of the neighborhood, and the DEA’s confirmation of “Golden Crescent heroin” flooding the city.
  • So disturbing was the piece that Mayor Marion Barry launched a citywide search for the boy, ordering police and teachers to inspect the arms of every child in the District of Columbia.
  • A $10, 000 reward was offered for Jimmy’s whereabouts.
  • The Post assigned six reporters to find another “Jimmy,” on the theory that if there is one, there must be others.
  • After days of searching, neither Jimmy nor any other child addict was found.
  • When Cooke said she “couldn’t find” again the house she had described so vividly, her editor, Milton Coleman, suspected the story was a fake and shared his suspicions with the other Post editors.
  • They decided to do nothing, however.
  • Six months later, the Pulitzer Prize committee asked for nominations and put the Post editors in a bind; if they didn’t nominate Cooke’s story, it would look like they didn’t be- lieve it.
  • “In for a dime, in for a dollar,” said assistant managing editor Bob Woodward.
  • Yes – THAT Bob Woodward.
  • So the piece was sent up to Columbia University in New York, where the Pulitzer committee was meeting.
  • Among the judges was Roger Wilkins, who had won a Pulitzer of his own writing editorials for the Washington Post and who had writ- ten the New York Times’s urban-affairs column for five years.
  • When someone suggested that the story might be a fake, Wilkins stood up and angrily reminded the judges that on any day of the week at the corner of Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 116th Street — just a few blocks from where they were sitting — you could find little children heavily involved in the drug trade.
  • Nobody chose to argue with one of the nation’s most distinguished black journalists about it, and”Jimmy’s World” got the Pulitzer.
  • Right after that, the Post got Cooke to confess to making it all up, and returned the prize.
  • And that brings us to Ronnie.
  • He won the 1980 election by a landslide.
  • And he immediately started cutting taxes and trimming the government.
  • He was a big fan of saying that government was the PROBLEM, not the SOLUTION.
  • Except when it came to law enforcement.
  • When one of his guys suggested they trim a couple of thousand people out of the 54,000 employees at the Justice Dept, Reagan disagreed.
  • He said: “Law enforcement is something we have always believed was a legitimate function of government.”
  • He wanted to get even TOUGHER on crime.
  • And his wife, the First Lady, Nancy, needed an issue.
  • And she wanted her issue to be drugs.
  • Her PR people tried to talk her out of it, but she insisted.
  • She said that when she and Ronnie were in the movies business, they knew lots of people who used drugs and they thought it was a big problem.
  • And then Ronnie did something no other President before him had been able to do.
  • He got the FBI to agree to get directly involved in the War on Drugs.

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