If the "war on drugs" was really about drugs, it would be a classic example of everything Republicans are against: It is a huge federal and state bureaucracy, it's enormously expensive, it doesn't work, and it prevents "free-market" competition. And, of course, it directly causes more crime, corruption and disrespect for the law than the drugs themselves ever could.

However, once you realize that "war on drugs" is Republican code for "war on blacks" it all becomes clear. The "drug war" allows black people to be oppressed and persecuted, sets the black community's progress back 140 years, and has unjustly imprisoned 3 million black folks for doing what 30 million white people do with almost complete impunity.

And after they get out of prison, they can never vote again. It's a win-win-win proposition for the right wing. So, in their view, the "drug war" is working perfectly.

"You have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this all while not appearing to." — Richard Nixon, as quoted by H.R. Haldeman. — Peter Nemzek, Ashland

Since last fall, the political rhetoric over "who's to blame for our economic mess," has taken on a partisan hue. As people rush to fix blame, one thing's clear: to a degree, both political parties are responsible for the mess we're in.

A main factor that caused our economic crash was the extensive use of financial derivatives. Derivatives don't get mentioned often because they're mathematical.

Mainly, derivatives are a financial hedge that's both highly profitable and financially dangerous. Tellingly, Warren Buffet has referred to them as "financial weapons of mass destruction."

The recent and controversial fall of insurance giant AIG is directly related to AIG's use of risky financial derivatives known as credit-default swaps. Before the Clinton administration, most banks and insurance companies were barred from dealing in these risky investments.

Many blame today's problems solely on Republican President Reagan's economic revolution that began in 1981. However, a more accurate analysis reveals that Democratic President Clinton, along with a Republican Congress, deregulated derivatives during Clinton's time. This deregulation was a main reason our economy crashed.

Therefore, both political parties bear responsibility for our current situation. — Perry Casilio, Talent

It is encouraging to read about the proposals to make greater use of our existing rail system where moderate expense will allow higher speed train transportation to reduce automobile traffic.

However, there are also areas where the existing rail system is not presently utilized at all in Southern Oregon and possibly elsewhere. For example, simple low-speed commuter trains on existing unused tracks between Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, Medford, Grants Pass and more northerly communities should reduce highway commuter traffic appreciably if schedules are arranged to be attractive and reliable. — William Holmes, Ashland

In 1979 the Peoples Republic of China, recognizing the catastrophic consequences runaway population growth had on their economy, put into place their One Child Policy in an effort to gain control over their own destiny. Today China is the economic and financial envy of the world, with a huge trade surplus and control over billions in American debt.

During the same period, America ran through a series of presidents who refused to do anything about illegal immigration, the source that fueled America's own runaway population growth. As a result, we find American institutions, hospitals, and schools choked to the point of collapse with millions of dependent, uneducated hordes, while our economic future spins into depths not seen since the darkest days of the Great Depression.

Recently Barack Obama announced his intention to provide a path to citizenship for over 20 million illegal immigrants; at the same time, the nation's newspapers revealed that illegal immigrants were having children at a much higher rate than native born Americans.

Whose side is this president on? — Robert Bennett, Grants Pass

Amidst the national fratricide unleashed by the release of the "interrogation memos" provided by the Justice Department to the CIA came three mollifying messages from our national leaders.

To the men and women of the CIA, their families and friends, now caught up in a swirling vortex of conscience and recrimination, these messages must be the most worrisome of all:

  • "You need to be fully confident that as you defend the nation, I will defend you." (Leon E. Panetta, director, CIA).
  • "As the president has made clear "¦ we will not use those techniques in the future. But we will absolutely defend those who relied on these memos and those guidelines." (Adm. Dennis C. Blair, director of national intelligence).
  • —¦ the men and women of the CIA have assurances from both myself, and from Attorney General Holder, that we will protect all who acted reasonably and relied upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that their actions were lawful "¦ . They need to be fully confident that as they defend the nation, I will defend them "¦ Thank you for your service, and God bless the work that you do." (Barack Obama, President).

As the Drudge Report sometimes notes: Developing. — Irving Jaffe, White City

Hurray, renewable energy has a friend and his name is Secretary Salazar. Thanks to him for canceling oil and gas leases on the edge of Utah National Parks and historic sites on nearby public land.

We know it takes courage and an incredible heart to stand up to the oil and gas industry and we bow to his stance. His will and goodness allow him to know that he is a steward of our public lands and we are grateful to have him serving our country. We focus on his continued strength, health and certainty of will to fight the good fight for the love of the land and all its living beings. Thank you. Thank you. — Lynne Conwell, Talent

Get ready citizens of Oregon, the money grabbers of the phony, ridiculous cap-and-trade tax are coming to extort more money from us energy ratepayers, to the tune of over $11 billion a year under the guise of saving the planet. What a joke. — Curt Hinkle, Medford

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