Archive for July 5th, 2012
Reason Magazine has been against the “war on drugs” for decades. Here are many dozens of articles published by Reason regarding the insanity of the “war on drugs.” Citing to the New York Time, Reason gives the following evidence that the “war on drugs” is a failure:
Prices match supply with demand. If the supply of an illicit drug were to fall, say because the Drug Enforcement Administration stopped it from reaching the nation’s shores, we should expect its price to go up. That is not what happened with cocaine. Despite billions spent on measures from spraying coca fields high in the Andes to jailing local dealers in Miami or Washington, a gram of cocaine cost about 16 percent less last year than it did in 2001. The drop is similar for heroin and methamphetamine. The only drug that has not experienced a significant fall in price is marijuana . . .
Jeffrey Miron, an economist at Harvard who studies drug policy closely, has suggested that legalizing all illicit drugs would produce net benefits to the United States of some $65 billion a year, mostly by cutting public spending on enforcement as well as through reduced crime and corruption.
The Friendly Atheist reports: First, the legislators decide to use public money to support religious schools. Then, Valerie Hodges discovers that Islam is a religion, and that “religious” schools include Islamic schools. You learn something every day.
On Democracy Now, Juan Gonzalez asked Glenn Greenwald to comment on Barack Obama’s explanation for why high level Wall Street executives have not been criminally prosecuted. Here’s the exchange:
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I want to play a comment by President Obama on why his administration has not prosecuted any senior financial executives. He was speaking at a White House press conference in October of last year.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, first, on the issue of—on the issue of prosecutions on Wall Street, one of the biggest problems about the collapse of Lehmans and the subsequent financial crisis and the whole subprime lending fiasco is that a lot of that stuff wasn’t necessarily illegal, it was just immoral or inappropriate or reckless. That’s exactly why we needed to pass Dodd-Frank, to prohibit some of these practices. You know, the financial sector is very creative, and they are always looking for ways to make money. That’s their job. And if there are loopholes and rules that can be bent and arbitrage to be had, they will take advantage of it. So, you know, without commenting on particular prosecutions—obviously, that’s not my job, that’s the attorney general’s job—you know, I think part of people’s frustrations, part of my frustration was a lot of practices that should not have been allowed weren’t necessarily against the law, but they had a huge destructive impact.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: President Obama on why his administration has not prosecuted any senior financial executives. Your response?
GLENN GREENWALD: That answer is incredibly deceitful and misleading in several important respects. First of all, the massive orgy of deregulation that took place that let Wall Street do many things that for decades had been criminal, took place in the 1990s during the Clinton administration and under Democratic Party control and was led by people like Larry Summers and the whole acolytes of Robert Rubin, such as Timothy Geithner, who ended up being empowered by President Obama at the highest levels of his economic policy team. So this idea that he is somehow disturbed by or in opposition to the kind of deregulation that made a lot of this behavior un-criminal is incredibly misleading, given that those are the people who continue to run his administration.
Secondly, you notice that he said “some of this behavior” was not criminal. The unspoken implication of it, though, is that much of it was criminal. And, in fact, I just did an interview with Eliot Spitzer, who of course was probably the only elected official in the last two or three decades to put serious fear in the heart of Wall Street, when he was a prosecutor and attorney general and then governor. And I had said, as part of this interview, you know, I know that there’s this notion that prosecutions might be difficult of Wall Street executives, but that’s not a reason to refrain from doing them. And he actually objected and said, “You know what? Prosecutions would not be difficult.” And he’s right. We have emails from Wall Street executives where internally they’re mocking the assets that they’re representing to the public as being these sterling assets, and they’re mocking them as garbage and junk. They knew that they were committing fraud. Credit agencies were purposely shielding these assets, knowing that they were junk, as well.
And then a third issue that he said was, you know, “It’s not my job to comment on prosecutions.” That’s particularly ironic, given that President Obama expressly argued and instructed the Justice Department not to prosecute Bush officials for the crimes that were done as part of the war on terror. He’s made comments about Bradley Manning’s prosecution and decreed him guilty in public. And yet, suddenly, when it comes to Wall Street executives, who funded his 2008 campaign and are funding his 2012 campaign, he suddenly becomes very shy and reticent and says, “It’s not my job to comment on prosecutions.” He is the leader of the party. He’s the leader of the country. And the fact that we haven’t prosecuted Wall Street executives is one of the greatest national disgraces. You see in Spain, as we heard in that report, some effort to move away from that. That is his responsibility to demand that justice be applied equally. The vow that he made when he announced his presidency—run for the presidency, in the first paragraph of his announcement, he said the era of Scooter Libby justice would be over. Scooter Libby justice means, if you’re sufficiently powerful, you don’t pay a price for your crimes. That was the promise that he made when he ran, and that’s the promise that he’s so woefully failed to fulfill.
The Founders of this country saw that we might need to engage in revolution to preserve government by the People. It’s right in the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
It’s that simple. Big money is making it almost impossible for regular folks to have meaningful input into the political process. The Declaration of Independence reminds us that revolution is a right, and the Constitution allows orderly revolution by enacting amendments to the Constitution.
It is thus self-evidence that we need to amend the U.S. Constitution to kick the money-changers out of the halls of Congress.
Old-fashioned patriotism involves substantial government financial support for aggressive and even offensive journalism
Robert McChesney and John Nichols have written an excellent book advocating substantial public support (much more than the government currently gives) to support first-rate journalism. The book is titled The Death and Life of American Journalism: the Media Revolution That Will Begin the World Again (2010).
This book begins with a diagnosis of modern journalism. One of the main problems is that modern journalists rely far too much on officials in power to set the news agenda. In fact, when politicians aren’t arguing about an issue, it tends to go completely under the media radar. Another problem is that much of our news is regurgitated press release material issued by powerful government and business officials. “The dirty secret of journalism is that a significant percentage of our new stories, in the 40-50% range, even at the most prestigious newspapers in the glory days of the 1970s, were based on press releases.” In the 1980s, the national workforce of PR specialists was about equivalent to the number of journalists in newspapers, radio and television. As of 2008, there were four times as many PR specialists as journalists. (Page 49).
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