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Bill Bennett’s Anti-pot Gospel

Bill Bennett, who had been Secretary of Education under Reagan and Drug Czar under George H.W. Bush, was on the talk shows last Sunday plugging his new book, “Going to Pot: Why the Rush to Legalize Marijuana Is Harming America." Co-author Robert White is a former federal prosecutor.

An obsequious piece about the book in the Washington Times refers to "Mr. Bennett’s research revealing that more Americans are admitted to treatment facilities for marijuana use than for any other illegal drug..." As Bill Bennett knows, almost everyone receiving "treatment" for marijuana is court-mandated or parent-mandated or job-mandated. In other words, forced. Very few marijuana users consider themselves in need of treatment. And nobody gives up their drug of choice until they themselves really want to, according to the 12-steppers’ collective wisdom.

When Bennett was Drug Czar under George H.W. Bush, he decreed: “‘The simple fact is that drug use is wrong... And the moral argument, in the end, is the most compelling argument.’”

According to Bennett, drug use is immoral because drugs are illegal, and drugs are illegal because they’re immoral. He urged prosecutors to go after casual users whose lives were manageable because their example might send a confusing signal to their friends, neighbors, and children. He promoted public hospitals’ drug-testing of pregnant women, which resulted in many women losing custody of their newborn babies. (Only poor women have to rely on public hospitals.)

Bennett’s biggest accomplishment as Drug Czar was to increase the budget 52%. After 18 months he declared victory and resigned unexpectedly. He then served briefly as chairman of the Republican National Committee, but quit the $125,000/year gig when it turned out that he couldn’t pocket the speaking proceeds. “I didn’t take a vow of poverty,” Bennett said at the time. It seemed venal and gross, but later we came to understand.

In 2003 Bennett was exposed in Newsweek and the Washington Monthly as a big-time compulsive gambler who holed up at Las Vegas casinos for three-day binges. Bennett had blown at least $8 million at the slot machines. Only profits from his best-seller, “The Book of Virtues,” and its manyspin-offs, plus $50,000 speaking fees, enabled him to avoid debt.

It also came out that he played in a weekly Washington poker game with Supreme Court Justice Scalia, Chief Justice Rehnquist (who took Fentanyl daily for back pain and checked into a rehab spa every summer), and the failed rightwing nominee, Robert Bork.

The Republican Damage Control Team tried put a lid on the story of Bennett’s gambling addiction, employing the same arguments that Bennett’s Drug War victims had used in vain to fend off persecution. There they were on TV: “Why is it anybody’s business?” asked the effete Billy Kristol. “He did no one any harm,” said Tony Blakely (himself a compulsive overeater). “He has taken personal responsibility,” declared Anne Coulter (brushing back a strand of hair thinned by excessive bleaching). “It’s between him and his family,” said another blonde who’d had some bad work done on her lips... The Damage Controllers promptly turned out poor Mrs. Bennett to announce that she would not let Bill take any more “trips.”

Other arguments were splashed on the flames by these Friends of Bill: gambling isn’t a sin to Catholics, gambling is legal, he didn’t go into debt, and so forth. It was all a misdirection play. What’s reprehensible about Bill Bennett is not his gambling but his monumental hypocrisy. When someone who really understands the force of compulsion tells the world that compulsion can easily be overcome by will, it’s a conscious lie. To imprison people behind that lie is completely immoral.

Joshua Green of the Washington Monthly elicited from Bennett an evasive but revealing quote: “When reminded of studies that link heavy gambling to divorce, bankruptcy, domestic abuse, and other family problems he has widely decried, Bennett compared the situation to alcohol. ‘I view it as drinking,’ Bennett says. ‘If you can’t handle it, don’t do it’.”

A source at a casino told Green that Bennett always tried to slink around unseen. “He’ll usually call a host and let us know when he’s coming. We can limo him in. He prefers the high-limit room, where he’s less likely to be seen and where he can play the $500-a-pull slots. He usually plays very late at night or early in the morning —usually between midnight and 6 a.m.”

Bennett’s connections are so powerful that, after a brief absence, he resumed pontificating on the airwaves. Rosie heard him recently advising parents never to tell their kids that they once smoked marijuana and found it to be harmless. “He said that hypocrisy is better than honesty because it shows you have moral standards. I don’t know about his Catholic schools, but in my Catholic schools we received a moral education, we read philosophers and discussed them, we were taught that you don’t lie and that hypocrisy is completely immoral. Jesus said, ‘You hypocrite, take the beam out of your own eye before you talk about the splinter in someone else’s’.”


  1. humbilly February 20, 2015

    Bennett hates weed but he dearly loves his booze. He has the classic bloated face and body of an ethanol addict. Why the ‘media’ gives him air time is beyond me the guy is a blowhard and a fraud, almost an educated Limbaugh.

  2. Richard Paul Steeb February 21, 2015

    ANY nation with thriving tobacco and alcoholic beverage INDUSTRIES lacks the moral authority to issue a STERN LOOK at Cannabis.

    Take the beam out of your eye, and shove it where the sun does not shine, Bennett.

  3. Rick Weddle February 22, 2015

    re: wrongdoing under color of office…

    Yep, Bennett’s big, well paid crusade as a member of winos against weed; what a deal. Where could you or I sign up for a gig like that? Bennett may not have any monopoly on the mis/disinformation, and mis/malfeasance rackets, but his pickled-sludge mugshot makes him a dandy posterboy there. Not much wonder People with any sensibilities remaining turn away from ‘politics’ in droves and in disgust. American taxpayers have long been accustomed to calling graft, corruption and official duplicity by the name of politics…and sitting there, taking it, all politically INERT. And for some wild reason, lots of us continue to insist on funding these traitor-looters in royal lifestyles. Hey, why should it make any sense at all if it makes enough dollars?

    Asserting that cannabis is a terrible danger, either to individuals or to society, is a lie. More than two thirds of the U.S. public know this from first-hand experience. Lots more of us have pieced together the big chunks of evidence to get it, also. Where did this particular deranged wombat (sorry, wombats!) get his badge and microphone? You guessed ‘er, Esther: he bought ’em with cash stolen from the selfsame taxpayers he’s been misleading so heartily and successfully.

    So, who actually benefits from the so-called war on drugs? James Watt, for one, who left his Interior post with Reagan to go into the zillion-dollar drug-test business; Law enforcement and corrections personnel, busy fraudulently imprisoning hundreds of thousands of folks who’re actually not criminals, then going home and firing another joint from the evidence locker (an unenforceable law, like those against marijuana, or the other Prohibition, is eternal job security for these overfed, lying dirtbags); the Petroleum hucksters who’s many ‘essential’ products — fibers, chemicals, fuels, finishes, adhesives, medicines — could well (and hopefully soon will) be displaced by the Devil Weed, itself; …

    This list of the ‘drug war’s’ beneficiaries goes on a ways. Who’s left out? The People of the U.S. so dearly paying for Lawful Government and getting Bennetts, instead, that’s who. And the People of Mexico, Central and South America as ‘collateral damages’ of this one little war;…golly, almost Everybody’s missing the drugwar gravytrain!

    Mickey Cohen said that you can cook up any kind of organized crime you want if you’ve got three items in your recipe: The Sheriff, the Chief of Police, and the District Attorney. Malcolm X said that organized crime exists ONLY to the extent it is known by the ‘authorities.’ It’d be a stroke of downsizing genius, then, if you were to cut out the middlepersons and just blatantly engage in criminal wrongdoing in your official capacity, using taxpayer dollars as your personal kitty, under the Stars and Stripes, and in the name of America’s ‘interests.’ And damned few even seem to notice…

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