RSSCategory: law and order

For one Republican, reason prevails.

August 5, 2011 | By | Reply More
For one Republican, reason prevails.

I’m sorry to say that this reasonable approach to Muslims shown by Jersey Governor Chris Christie (i.e., the lack of bigotry) is all too rare among Republicans. Lawrence O’Donnell reports:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Christie’s words shouldn’t be inspirational, but they are in this climate of Republican bigotry.

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Forty-five people were massacred in the United States yesterday

July 24, 2011 | By | 18 Replies More
Forty-five people were massacred in the United States yesterday

Forty-five people were murdered in the United States yesterday (16,591 homicides for the year 2009). And another forty-five will be murdered tomorrow. And another forty-five every day of the year and next year and next year.

What happened in Norway was terrible. A Christian extremist named Anders Breivik killed 91 people.* It was clearly a massacre. Here in the United States, we have a massacre the size of Norway’s every other day, but we don’t call it a “massacre” because the killings aren’t as geographically clustered–but then again, many of them are clustered in the inner cities of America. And if we don’t call it a “massacre,” we don’t feel as compelled to do something to stop the killings.   Something simple like  calling off the “war on drugs.”

For anyone who objects that I’ve called the Norwegian killer a “Christian,” I’m willing to make a deal. Next time a Muslim inflicts violence in America, will you agree that you won’t describe him as a Muslim when you describe his conduct?  That would avoid a double-standard. Deal?

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Obama to continue vigorous prosecution of marijuana users

July 17, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More
Obama to continue vigorous prosecution of marijuana users

LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) is disappointed that Barack Obama has reneged on his promise to turn over the enforcement of marijuana regulation to the states. Here’s the first paragraph of an email I received from LEAP today:

Previously, the Obama administration wanted the public to believe that they were going to respect how states decided to handle medical marijuana legalization and regulation. But a new memo released to the public today confirms that this president is simply continuing the harassment and interference policies of the Bush administration when it comes to actually providing patients with their doctor-recommended medicine.

Here’s the evidence that Barack Obama seeks only more wasteful and destructive prohibition.  As you can see, there is no sharp line protecting those who are using marijuana at the recommendation of their doctors.   Why not?

What are alternatives to prohibition? Travel Guru Rick Steves has become outspoken on this issue. Here’s his general philosophy:

Like my European friends, I believe we can adopt a pragmatic policy toward both marijuana and hard drugs, with a focus on harm reduction and public health, rather than tough-talking but counterproductive criminalization. The time has come to have an honest discussion about our drug laws and their effectiveness. When it comes to drug policy, you can be soft, hard…or smart.

I whole-heartedly agree with Rick Steves, and I admire him for taking this forthright stand, even when taking this could lose him some customers and fans.  Speaking of fans, I recently met two brave souls pushing for medical marijuana in front of Busch Stadium, where thousands of fans get high on liver-threatening beer.   While I discussed medical marijuana with them, they were jeered and scorned by several fans.  They described cancer patients they knew who would like to use marijuana in Missouri, but were afraid that they’d be arrested and thrown in jail.  Folks with similar situations are described in this recent NYT piece.

Every year authorities arrest more than 750,000 people each year for possessing or using an extremely safe drug that many people find pleasurable and others use because it relieves them of pain. This is more than the entire population of South Dakota, and these users include many people you know and respect.  I mentioned LEAP at the top of this article. LEAP consists of law enforcement officers who have seen first-hand that prohibition fails. LEAP’s approach is this:

We believe that drug prohibition is the true cause of much of the social and personal damage that has historically been attributed to drug use. It is prohibition that makes marijuana worth more than gold, and heroin worth more than uranium – while giving criminals a monopoly over their supply. Driven by the huge profits from this monopoly, criminal gangs bribe and kill each other, law enforcers, and children. Their trade is unregulated and they are, therefore, beyond our control.

History has shown that drug prohibition reduces neither use nor abuse. After a rapist is arrested, there are fewer rapes. After a drug dealer is arrested, however, neither the supply nor the demand for drugs is seriously changed. The arrest merely creates a job opening for an endless stream of drug entrepreneurs who will take huge risks for the sake of the enormous profits created by prohibition. Prohibition costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars every year, yet 40 years and some 40 million arrests later, drugs are cheaper, more potent and far more widely used than at the beginning of this futile crusade.

We believe that by eliminating prohibition of all drugs for adults and establishing appropriate regulation and standards for distribution and use, law enforcement could focus more on crimes of violence, such as rape, aggravated assault, child abuse and murder, making our communities much safer. We believe that sending parents to prison for non-violent personal drug use destroys families. We believe that in a regulated and controlled environment, drugs will be safer for adult use and less accessible to our children. And we believe that by placing drug abuse in the hands of medical professionals instead of the criminal justice system, we will reduce rates of addiction and overdose deaths.

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Sweet revenge for homeowners against Bank of America

June 3, 2011 | By | Reply More
Sweet revenge for homeowners against Bank of America

As I watched this delightful video, I wished I could ask the bank manager “How did you like THAT?” Of course, the bank actually had it coming, and a lot of homeowners are totally innocent victims of the banksters. Some call them house-jackers.

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Barack Obama didn’t forget to pardon Bradley Birkenfeld today

May 23, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More
Barack Obama didn’t forget to pardon Bradley Birkenfeld today

Today, Barack Obama pardoned eight people. They included people convicted of drug offenses and a woman accused of evading bank reporting requirements.

Bradley Birkenfeld, an American banker who formerly worked for UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank, was not among the eight people pardoned.   The information Birkenfeld voluntarily provided to the federal government in 2007 led to the government’s “uncovering the biggest tax fraud in U.S. history.”  Perhaps Birkenfeld (photo here) was intentionally overlooked because pardoning him would remind the public that he is sitting in prison for no good reason, after attempting to report tens of thousands of rich tax cheat to the federal government.

Birkenfeld’s problem is that he is not a celebrity, or wealthy or a sport star or a politician, like many of the thousands of tax cheats he tried to bring to the attention of an uninterested federal government. Birkenfeld continues to sit in prison in Schuylkill Pennsylvania, while the United States continues to wage its war on whistle-blowers (and see here).   Several additional links on whistle-blower abuse here.

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Racist Reflex or ?

April 14, 2011 | By | 3 Replies More
Racist Reflex or ?

A 21 year-old man was released without charges after being arrested near the Delmar Loop MetroLink in St. Louis on Saturday. The police officer who arrested the 21-year-old experienced a minor head injury. The St. Louis Dispatch and KMOV report that the officer was breaking up a fight that allegedly drew a crowd of between 50 and 100 people, including many teenagers.

In response to the “incident” and complaints that teens who are “not from University City,” are “wandering,” “roaming” and “brushing up against customers,” along the Delmar Loop, a Tuesday meeting was called between Delmar Loop business owners, representatives from Mayor Slay’s office, University City officials and representatives of Washington University. (Washington University’s Office of General Counsel denied any involvement in this meeting).

Several proposals emerged from the meeting. These include “lowering the city’s curfew to 6 p.m.,” rounding up teenagers to “let them sit in a paddy wagon for three hours,” adding a police substation to process them and “closing the Loop’s MetroLink station early on Fridays and Saturdays.” To curb the influx of “unruly” young adults, the University City manager promised “active enforcement of all ordinances.”

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Front row seat at the grand jury

March 28, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More
Front row seat at the grand jury

What’s it like for a self-described liberal to sit on a grand jury? Over at Occasional Planet, Gloria Shur Bilchik describes her experience.

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It is dangerous to quote the United States Constitution in America

March 16, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More
It is dangerous to quote the United States Constitution in America

Here’s a cool idea: Write the Fourth Amendment on your chest in a marker, and then refuse electronic scanning at an airport, henceforth removing your shirt and thus displaying the Fourth Amendment.

Actually, it’s not a cool idea, Aaron Tobey used this technique of self-expression, and here’s what the TSA did, as described at Lowering the Bar:

they cuffed him, interrogated him, had the airport police charge him with “disorderly conduct” (favorite of official thugs everywhere), and then contacted the cops at his university and suggested that they report Tobey to the Dean of Students.

Here’s a copy of Tobey’s lawsuit. A link provided in this same article suggests that the body scanners used at many airports might be emitting ten times as much radiation as previously claimed.

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How We Got Here: The Debate II

March 9, 2011 | By | Reply More
How We Got Here: The Debate II

To continue…

The Whiskey Rebellion more or less blew up in Alexander Hamilton’s face. The tax he pushed through congress on whiskey that triggered the entire affair was shortly thereafter repealed and it was a while before the federal government tried to impose internal taxes. One of the stated goals of the revolution was to end taxation without representation, but in practical terms this meant an end to taxation, period.

The federal government used tariffs and land sales to pay off the debt incurred by the revolutionary war. Jefferson’s purchase of Louisiana was still done by a combination of the two plus borrowing. Generally, tariffs were kept low, to encourage volume of trade. Some high tariffs were employed in the 1820s and 1830s as protectionist measures to level the field with Britain, which was in the midst of its “workshop of the world” period. The South hated these tariffs because it raised the price of manufactures and shipping, which impacted on their trade which was almost entirely agricultural.

It was different in the states. Property taxes early became a source of state revenue. The definition of “property” for the purposes of such taxes stretched far beyond the bounds we would recognize or accept today and under Jackson came to include just about anything a person owned. Local reaction to such impositions varied by city and state, but rarely rose to the level of rebellion.

Federal internal taxes did not come into play until the Civil War. The need to raise revenue in huge amounts and quickly necessitated the creation of the first income tax, among others, including a vast array of excise taxes and licensing. There were special corporate taxes, stamp taxes for legal documents, and inheritance taxes.

Most of these were phased out after the Civil War. Interestingly, the Republicans—a new party formed just before the Civil War which became the second national party, supplanting the archaic Whigs—kept two elements of the new tax system: high tariffs and taxes on liquor and tobacco. High tariffs were protectionist measures. The excises on liquor and tobacco were not greatly challenged because they coincided with the growing Temperance Movement, which was becoming politically significant.

[More . . . ]

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