The so-called “war on drugs” – actually a war on certain people associated in various ways with certain drugs – has served since the Nixon administration as a major profit center for governments at every level. Owing to the ostensible efforts to suppress the possession, use, and commerce in these drugs, governments have been able to justify great increases in their staffs, budgets, and power.

Like many people, I’m not crying that FBI Director James Comey was fired from his job before his tenure was up. As Rand Paul has noted, Comey never stopped crawling to Capitol Hill for more money, more spying authority, more power to the government, and all those things I’m against. And like many people, I find the claims of Russian meddling in the election to be a diversion from the more obvious point that voters wanted change and didn’t want Hillary Clinton.

What has struck me more is a particularly telling aspect of the way the firing of Comey was done. This is a human-interest story to me. It reveals a grim facet of human life and serves as a warning about the type of power move all of us need to be on the lookout for. What would you do if your boss muscled you into taking the fall for his or her sketchy decisions?

Governor Bruce Rauner regularly attempts to “go over the heads” of the news media and talk directly to the public without any journalistic filters. Usually for people in his particular position, that’s just not possible. Governors aren’t presidents, after all. They can’t deliver Oval Office addresses that are carried live by television networks or give stump speeches that cable news networks regularly broadcast. They don’t have millions of Twitter followers or Facebook-video watchers.

That hasn’t stopped Rauner from trying. He has spent millions on television advertising even in non-election years attempting to frame his issues his own way – mainly to avoid taking any blame for his state grinding to a halt without a budget, and to shift all blame to House Speaker Michael Madigan and the Democrats.

Aside from those ads, most of his Facebook videos have fewer than 10,000 or so views, a tiny fraction of Illinois’ population. He only has about 20,000 Twitter followers, which is less than I have.

So last week’s Old State Capitol speech about the need for “unity” was a true rarity.

One of the hottest rumors making the rounds among Statehouse types last week was that the governor and/or the Illinois Republican Party will be sending “trackers” to Springfield for the upcoming special legislative session.

The rumor, which was everywhere, was that the trackers would follow Democrats around to try to get them to say silly things or record them doing stuff that might not look good to the folks back home.

Nasty rumors thrive in the pea-soup fog of fear and loathing that pervades the Statehouse these days. At one time or another, it seems like everybody has fought everybody and now nobody trusts anybody.

As we’ve all seen over the past several months, Governor Bruce Rauner is adamantly refusing to provide any help whatsoever to Chicago – which is struggling mightily under the weight of years of fiscal misfeasance – until his Turnaround Agenda demands are met. A long-sought education-funding-reform bill, a 911 emergency-call-center fee, and even a bill to allow the expedited sale of the Thompson Center have been hit with Rauner’s broad (and often false) brush of being a “Chicago bailout.”

Rauner will never again get another “opportunity” like this one. Democrats have historically protected Chicago, and the city needs more help now than ever before. Going after the city is, by far, Rauner’s “best” leverage to force the Democrats to cut a deal with him.

Democrats, particularly in the House, won’t budge, partly because their city-based and statewide union allies are demanding all-out war.

House Speaker Michael Madigan was his usual self during the final week of the General Assembly’s spring session, passing bills to make one point or another without actually accomplishing anything.

Bills are routinely moved in the House for the sole purpose of creating TV ads or direct-mail pieces or newspaper headlines. Madigan’s only real ideology is maintaining his majority, and he doesn’t consider that to be a bad thing. And maintaining that majority has been inextricably tied for two long years with stopping Governor Bruce Rauner at every turn, despite Madigan’s repeated claims that he’s cooperating and that Rauner should just accept a win and move on.

Whatever else you can say about Madigan, he’s not wrong about that last part.

A new statewide poll finds that strong opposition to an income-tax hike to solve the state’s budget problems significantly eases when the tax increase is coupled with a property-tax freeze.

That’s important because Governor Bruce Rauner has insisted that he won’t approve any tax hikes or a budget without a four-year property-tax freeze. Democrats in the General Assembly, however, have resisted the governor’s freeze proposal. And the Senate Democrats last week went ahead and passed a budget with tax hikes but not Rauner’s freeze.

Democrats have been privately grumbling for a while now that Governor Bruce Rauner isn’t truly interested in good-faith negotiations on a balanced budget with economic reforms to end the two-and-a-half-year Statehouse stalemate.

But Senate President John Cullerton spent days and days negotiating the details of a four-year property-tax freeze with Rauner, only to have his spokesperson tell me last week that he hadn’t acceded to Rauner’s demand for a four-year freeze. So Rauner isn’t the only one to blame.

The thin-skinned Statehouse partisanship of the past two-plus years last week infected the annual fundraising gala of the Illinois Conference of Women Legislators (COWL).

COWL is a bipartisan organization that raises money every year to “assist mature women who wish to continue their undergraduate education,” according to its Web site. “The goal of the scholarship is to focus on deserving, qualified women whose educations were interrupted due to family concerns and economic problems,” the group says. Women who have shown “leadership promise through community service” are given preference.

Anyway, it’s a good organization and it’s one of two events that I never miss each year – the other one being the House-versus-Senate softball game. Both events allow legislators to do things together without partisan or leadership barriers. They help build relationships and trust. Plus, they’re both a lot of fun. And after two and a half years of watching politicians fight each other to a draw on a state budget and economic reforms, we all need the occasional good time.

If you are consuming your news from broadcast networks ABC, NBC, or CBS, or from cable channels Fox News, MSNBC, or CNN, you are arguably among the most misinformed, or under-informed, viewers in modern times. Not only is precious little of those outlets’ daily content composed of unbiased, need-to-know, evidence-based information; most of it is nothing more than guided speculation, therefore hardly reliable as relevant news.

I have warned readers many times that guided speculation is a sophisticated strategy to manipulate viewers and push us into predetermined conclusions. The Obama administration called it “nudging.” Cass Sunstein, the administrator of the White House Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs (RCReader.com/y/nudge1) from 2009 to 2012, co-authored a book on the subject titled Nudge, and its precepts were implemented throughout the executive branch, via executive order, to effect greater acceptance by the public of President Barack Obama’s policies and programs (RCReader.com/y/nudge2). It is doubtful the new Trump administration will disband this inter-agency behavior-modification department. The question should be: Toward what desired outcomes is the public being nudged now?

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