Archive for October, 2010
The most important item on any ballot in the country this Nov. 2 is Proposition 19 on the California ballot. It seeks to make marijuana legal, which will be a small initial step to stopping the drug violence associated with America’s War on Drugs.
Just today the Associated Press is reporting the following story:
Mexico: 13 dead in massacre at Ciudad Juarez party
(AP) – 6 hours ago
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) — Gunmen stormed two neighboring homes and massacred 13 young people at a birthday party in the latest large-scale attack in this violent border city, even as a new government strategy seeks to restore order with social programs and massive police deployments.
Attackers in two vehicles pulled up to the houses in a lower-middle-class Ciudad Juarez neighborhood late Friday and opened fire on about four dozen partygoers gathered for a 15-year-old boy’s birthday party.
The dead identified so far were 13 to 32 years old, including six women and girls, Chihuahua state Attorney General Carlos Salas told reporters at a news conference at the crime scene. The majority of the victims were high school students, a survivor said. … You can read the rest of the story here, or on any of the other news outlets on the internet.
The reason the California proposition is so important is because it puts America’s most populous state on a collision course with the federal government over whether or not drugs should be legalized or continue to be criminalized. The federal government’s Attorney General Eric Holder has already said the feds will continue to prosecute marijuana users, whether or not Prop. 19 passes.
The California proposition only deals with marijuana (These Mexican gangs are battling over more than marijuana) and it’s not a blanket state-wide mandate (since local jurisdictions can opt to legalize and tax marijuana or not), but it is a start. If this measure passes, other states will likely follow California’s lead and set the stage for a battle between the states and the feds. It will quickly become a major states rights issue.
Eventually, of course, what is needed is to legalize all drugs. Just as with the repeal of Prohibition, it will take the crime element largely out of the drug equation and put drug abuse in the medical arena where it belongs. As a huge additional benefit it will cut America’s prison population down drastically and free up hundreds of millions of dollars now used in arresting and prosecuting drug offenses.
One European country has already gone the legalization route with tremendous success. Portugal legalized all drugs ten years ago, and in that time it has gone from one of the worst drug-abusing populations in Europe to one of the least-abusing populations. You can read about it here.
Many bureaucrats don’t want Proposition 19 to pass. It will mean wholesale layoffs for bureaucratic paper pushers, and especially cops, judges, prosecutors, and jailers. They like drugs being illegal because it ensures them of a fat job and pension.
Prop 19 is a chance for citizens to strike a blow now for a sane drug policy, and to sow the seeds of an important states rights battle with the federal government.
We’re still battling to allow the Crook Point Golf Resort to be built here at Pistol River in Curry County, Oregon. It’s on private property financed by private money, but environmentalists have appealed the affirmative vote by local county commissioners. It’s the usual environmental delaying tactics to prevent any kind of development along the coast. I’m sure the golf course will be approved eventually, but these delaying tactics add cost to the project.
If you’d like to help put an end to these unnecessary and totally phony delays by environmentalists, we need to make a show of force at the public hearing on this environmental appeal. The hearing is Nov 4 (Thursday) at 7 pm at the Showcase Building at the Fairgrounds in Gold Beach.
The main impact of the new golf course will be to bring several hundred good paying jobs to the area. It will have no adverse environmental impact, but instead will help safeguard this part of the coastline as a beautiful, picturesque area where wildlife abounds. Maybe if enough people show up at the meeting and voice their support we can get the golf course going and bring some much needed jobs to the area.
The Sierra club, by the way, is not opposed to this golf course. The opposition is coming from fringe environmentalist groups who are merely obstructionists to progress of any kind. These groups exist, as far as I can tell, to delay sensible progress. They give a bad name to constructive environmental groups.
I cannot make the meeting because I’ll be in Utah at a self-reliance expo. Toby Stanley, the assistant coach of the youth golf team I sponsor, will appear in my stead and make the case for how local youth golf will benefit by going forward with this golf course.
Of all the commentaries I’ve written in my 20 years as publisher of Backwoods Home Magazine, the one that still haunts me to this day is titled, “America, land of the free
…ha, ha, ha!,” which appeared in Issue No. 104, the March/April 2007 issue. It is about Matt Bandy and Bradford Metcalf, both wrongfully prosecuted by the U.S. Government.
Bradford Metcalf remains in prison these past 12 years on trumped-up charges concerning weapons possession, but the Supreme Court may hear his case. I got the following email this evening from the Metcalf family:
Defenders of the Constitution,
The Supreme Court will confer regarding “10-6452 Metcalf v. US” on Oct. 15, 2010.
Metcalf was convicted in 1998 of Conspiracy to Possess Automatic Weapons and 8 other possession charges (no violence) and sentenced to 40 years (he acted as his own attorney – his jury thought he would get 3 to 5 years…). You can contact the Supreme Court Public Information Office to urge their consideration at this address:
Here is what I sent:
Subject: Case Defining “arms”
Please consider case no. 10-6452 Bradford Metcalf v. US (slated for conference Oct 15) as a vehicle to define arms protected under the 2nd Amendment. Can the US limit possession? Is a rifle OK but not grenade? 50 caliber but not 20mm canon? “80% completed machine gun sideplate” (requires milling to make functional)?
Second Amendment Sisters
Jews for Preservation of Firearms Ownership
Backwoods Home Magazine
Heartfelt thanks to you all.
Please join me in contacting the Supremes to consider this case. Bradford Metcalf is a political prisoner left over from the Janet Reno/Bill Clinton crackdown on conservative dissidents in the wake of Waco and Ruby Ridge. Unfortunately, he is not the only political prisoner still languishing in federal penitentiaries.
Here is a chance to at least speak up on behalf of one nearly forgotten political prisoner.
John Silveira is a valuable senior editor. After a couple of busy days of canning kale soup, Boston Bakes Beans, and pea soup at my house, he has just informed me it is now 10 seconds past 10 pm on the 10th day of the 10th month in the 10th year of the current millenium. I hadn’t realized that.
I’ve been mulling over what to do with the 3,000 copies of Claire Wolfe’s Hardyville book BHM had printed. We had already advertised it in the new issue for $14.95 plus shipping, but have since discovered that the center margins of the book (at the spine) are not big enough, forcing the reader to open the books wider than normal to read the pages. It is not a huge problem for the reader, but it is a problem. So I’ve decided to discount the book to $6.95 plus shipping. The online ad for it, and a view of the problem, is here.
In addition, I’ve decided to send a thousand of the books to Claire and let her sell them. She talks about this in her blog post here.
This is an unusual move for the magazine, but I feel as though I can’t sell them at full price because of the spacing flaw. I’m just “particular” that way. If you’ve already sent in the full price for a copy of the book, someone at the office will contact you and figure out what to do: either refund you some of your money or sell you something else, whatever you want.
By the way, Hardyville is an absolutely superb read.
BHM staffer Haley Kessel heads to the mountains
Haley Kessel, a member of our crack BHM office staff, will work her last day at the office tomorrow, Friday. She and her honey are heading to La Pine, Oregon, where they plan to enjoy the mountains, the high desert, and the snow. Both are avid snowboarders. They also have family and friends there.
We’ll miss her. For a number of years I would not hire a “young dingbat broad,” as I used to call them, because I thought they made unreliable workers. Haley, who is 22, changed my mind completely in the two years she has worked at the BHM office. She’s been one of the most efficient and reliable workers we’ve ever had, and I may just go out and find another young lady to replace her.
Most people only see the inside of a jail on television, as on the many programs MSNBC airs with titles like “Locked Up:Raw.” TV shows focus on bad guys who have committed violent crimes and who continue to commit violent crimes on other prisoners while locked up. The guards are always shown as nice family people just trying to keep order among the degenerate inmates. The guards are doing important jobs for society, the TV programs would have you believe.
The reality is quite different. Most inmates are not hard core criminals incarcerated for violent crimes, but ordinary, mostly young people caught doing or possessing drugs, which probably shouldn’t be outlawed in the first place. That’s why America has the highest incarceration rate in the world — drug use. It keeps the prisons full, the guards employed, and drug prices high so the drug gangs and America’s criminal justice system can both make billions in profits. It’s a win-win situation for all of them. Many towns in America are now totally dependent on keeping their prisons full. In a recession, especially, these small towns need the prison revenue more than ever. So what if we’re targeting our youth population! It’s good business!
Your typical prisoner is very docile while in prison, simply attempting to survive the rather inhuman experience visited upon them by the criminal justice system. Most of the people in jail with me during my two-day stay in the county jail in Gold Beach were there for probation violations on previous drug convictions. These are the hapless young souls among us. They had made a mistake and been convicted of a drug crime, primarily possession of marijuana, hashish, or methamphetamine, and they had served an initial incarceration period. Now they are serving additional time for violation of their probations. Some were stupid enough to have been caught doing drugs again, but the others had been picked up on, from what I could gather, phony probation violation charges, such as being observed by a cop “associating with known drug users.”
These prisoners keep the county jail full in small towns like Gold Beach. It continues the flow of revenue from the state to the local cops, courts, and jail. Their incarceration essentially provides full employment for the local bureaucrats and cops.
Several of my cellmates told me that the cops go looking for people they know are nearing the end of their probation, then bust them on any technical violation they can find or dream up so they can fill up the county jail cells. While I was in jail, the cells were right about at capacity, although there was always room for just one or two more hapless souls or dui cases like me. Dui cases like me come and go all the time, they told me, but the young kids stay there, for weeks and months awaiting trial on phony probation violation charges.
Eight people were with me in my 10-bed jail dormitory. Although most were in their 20s, there was one guy in his 40s on a duii like me. He was a commercial crabber from Port Orford and came into jail drunk. Real nice guy who I’ll go out crabbing with in the future. We joked in jail that if we went crabbing together, it may constitute an “association” probation violation for each us that will land us both back in jail. He said as soon as he got out (a couple of days after me), he’d hitch a ride back to Port Orford to do some crabbing so he could pay his fines and the alcohol rehab sessions he was required to attend. He thought he only needed to raise $50 for the initial session, but I told him it was actually $150, then an additional $150 per session for an additional 12 mandated sessions. He was pretty depressed at that news.
I found all the inmates friendly and cooperative, in sharp contrast to the guards, who (except for a guard named Burgess) were condescending and robotic. It occurred to me that this could be the future of America, with an army of all powerful condescending and robotic guards gainfully employed at the expense of their fellow citizens who have made relatively minor infractions of senseless laws.
The prisoners in my jail dormitory (I believe they call it a jail pod) were self-organizing as they tried to make a bad situation tolerable by cooperating with and helping each other. They divided the two open toilets at one end of the 30-foot by 30-foot room into a pisser and a crapper, each person doing his best to keep the area clean and private for whoever was using it.
There was a tiny ancient TV bolted on the wall near the ceiling at one end of the pod, but I could barely see it or hear it from my bunk at the opposite corner. It got only a couple of channels but it did get a football game on Sunday.
The beds were double bunks like in military boot camp, but they had no springs, only a rigid steel frame with a two-inch mattress. It just about totaled my bad back. You are issued one blanket, summer or winter, and no pillow. Brian, a diabetic and asthmatic, said he got cold a lot. The guards would let him out of the cell twice a day to take his insulin, but he said they denied him his Albuterol, which is the same asthma inhalant my daughter uses.
There was a phone on one wall, but it didn’t work half the time I was incarcerated. Chris was on the phone often with his wife and sometimes his daughter. He kept telling his wife he had no money to give her, and it nearly brought tears to my eyes when he told his daughter that Daddy will be home as soon as he can.
There were no windows in the pod, and although there was a door with bars, an outer solid steel door was always kept closed so that you had no view of even a hallway. No outside light of any kind penetrated the room.
The only thing that could actually be moved in the pod was your mattress, a rubber cup and rubber spoon each of us were issued, our single 18-inch by 30-inch paper-thin bath towel, and our two extra sets of underwear which we kept under our mattress. Oh yeah, and a dozen or so ancient dog-eared paperbacks piled on the one empty bunk. (No magazines allowed.) Otherwise you had nothing.
Everything was bolted down. Big steel buttons turned on the water in the two showers and two steel sinks. No human being, no matter how pissed off, could possibly dislodge or break much in this place, except maybe for the six fluorescent lights on the ceiling, which provided ample light for the steel-encased video camera on the wall above the bathroom.
Of the two showers, one was broken and the other leaked profusely into the toilet area, so the guards provided extra towels that helped provide a dam between the showers and toilets. Of the shower that worked, it delivered near scalding hot water so that you had to duck in and out of it, soaping yourself in between, to keep from getting burned.
The floors were green concrete with patches of red where the paint had worn off. The walls were yellow concrete, and the ceiling was off-white concrete. It resembled very much a dungeon.
For exercise the inmates paraded in a 12-foot circle around the two steel tables in the center of the room. There was room for as many as five to parade at a time. I paraded around them for about two hours a day, on the trail of worn-off paint that revealed the underlying old red color on the floor.
Since there was nothing to do, most of the inmates slept at least half the day. I, of course, being much older and having worked at newspapers much of my life, interviewed them and wrote extensive notes on the few sheets of paper issued me.
There were no arguments and lots of commiserating among the inmates as they listened to each others stories of arrest and offered each other advice.
There was no privacy at all. Even the toilets were just barely blocked from the view of other inmates. The entire room was designed to dehumanize its occupants. Once a day, one of the older guards would come in and inspect the pod, tapping on the steel mirrors and looking for anything out of the ordinary. He was exceptionally hostile in his demeanor.
This whole experience of arrest, trial, and incarceration was a first for me, and it has left a very bitter taste in my mouth. I look at things differently now. I especially look at the cops and the criminal justice system differently. Whatever respect I had is gone. For two days I was in the custody of the enforcers who must be willing to administer the insane justice meted out by an increasingly dictatorial state. Every society has these willing participants who will gladly enforce the state’s tyranny for their generous pay and pensions.