How many laws do you break every day? None, you say. Think again. There are so many laws, rules, and regulations –80,000 new ones were passed by the feds just last year alone — that it seems impossible to do much of anything these days without running afoul of one of them.
A client sent me a link to this video of a TV report by John Stossel, perhaps the only network reporter who really gives a damn about America its citizens.
The show was titled Illegal Everything and touches on raw milk, lemonade stands, videotaping police, drugs, prostitution, and more.
I challenge you to watch it and point to one person who was victimized by police and the law and explain how it was justified.
The video runs forty-two minutes so grab a cup of coffee or a glass of whatever, settle back, and prepare to be outraged at what is being done to Americans all across the nation. Or, maybe you’ll think it all makes good sense.
Either way, please let us know when the video is done.
Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner, Lori.
Given the astoundingly rational and common-sense conclusions drawn by The Global Commission on Drug Policy, one might think the group consisted of a bunch of “famous for being famous” folks who enjoy getting high, but one would be wrong. Very wrong.
The members of The Commission are some very heavy hitters, including George Shultz, former US Secretary of State, Paul Volcker, former Federal Reserve Chairman, Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, and former Presidents of Brazil, Colômbia, Mexico, and Switzerland.
What follows is their Executive Summary. The whole report, in PDF format, is linked below.
The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.
Vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption. Apparent victories in eliminating one source or trafficking organization are negated almost instantly by the emergence of other sources and traffickers. Repressive efforts directed at consumers impede public health measures to reduce HIV/AIDS, overdose fatalities and other harmful consequences of drug use. Government expenditures on futile supply reduction strategies and incarceration displace more cost-effective and evidence-based investments in demand and harm reduction.
Our principles and recommendations can be summarized as follows:
End the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others. Challenge rather than reinforce common misconceptions about drug markets, drug use and drug dependence.
Encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens. This recommendation applies especially to cannabis, but we also encourage other experiments in decriminalization and legal regulation that can accomplish these objectives and provide models for others.
Offer health and treatment services to those in need. Ensure that a variety of treatment modalities are available, including not just methadone and buprenorphine treatment but also the heroin-assisted treatment programs that have proven successful in many European countries and Canada. Implement syringe access and other harm reduction measures that have proven effective in reducing transmission of HIV and other blood-borne infections as well as fatal overdoses. Respect the human rights of people who use drugs. Abolish abusive practices carried out in the name of treatment – such as forced detention, forced labor, and physical or psychological abuse – that contravene human rights standards and norms or that remove the right to self-determination.
Apply much the same principles and policies stated above to people involved in the lower ends of illegal drug markets, such as farmers, couriers and petty sellers. Many are themselves victims of violence and intimidation or are drug dependent. Arresting and incarcerating tens of millions of these people in recent decades has filled prisons and destroyed lives and families without reducing the availability of illicit drugs or the power of criminal organizations. There appears to be almost no limit to the number of people willing to engage in such activities to better their lives, provide for their families, or otherwise escape poverty. Drug control resources are better directed elsewhere.
Invest in activities that can both prevent young people from taking drugs in the first place and also prevent those who do use drugs from developing more serious problems. Eschew simplistic ‘just say no’ messages and ‘zero tolerance’ policies in favor of educational efforts grounded in credible information and prevention programs that focus on social skills and peer influences. The most successful prevention efforts may be those targeted at specific at-risk groups.
Focus repressive actions on violent criminal organizations, but do so in ways that undermine their power and reach while prioritizing the reduction of violence and intimidation. Law enforcement efforts should focus not on reducing drug markets per se but rather on reducing their harms to individuals, communities and national security.
Begin the transformation of the global drug prohibition regime. Replace drug policies and strategies driven by ideology and political convenience with fiscally responsible policies and strategies grounded in science, health, security and human rights – and adopt appropriate criteria for their evaluation. Review the scheduling of drugs that has resulted in obvious anomalies like the flawed categorization of cannabis, coca leaf and MDMA. Ensure that the international conventions are interpreted and/or revised to accommodate robust experimentation with harm reduction, decriminalization and legal regulatory policies.
Break the taboo on debate and reform. The time for action is now.
Predictably, according to this story in the Boston Globe,
The office of White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said the report was misguided.
“Drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated,’’ said spokesman Rafael Lemaitre of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Making drugs more available, as this report suggests, will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe.’’
What do you think of the report and the recommendations it makes?
What do you think of our drug czar’s reaction?
And can you think of a better way to spend our tax dollars than arresting, prosecuting, and imprisoning folks for providing and using products millions of Americans clearly want?
Back in February, I came across an interesting piece about police dogs.
Most folks believe, as I did then, that dogs are very good at sniffing out explosives and drugs. Researcher Lisa Lit and her colleagues at the University of California, Davis decided to put that belief to the test and what they found was, to me, pretty disturbing.
Dr. Lit had 18 dog handlers and their canines run through two sets of four short searches in the rooms of a church that was free of any drug or explosive scents but in which the researchers placed decoy scents of unwrapped sausage. The handlers were told that search areas might contain up to three scents and that some of the target scents would be marked with a piece of red paper.
Of 144 searches, in only 21 were there no alerts by the dogs which means that even though there were zero explosive or drug scents in the search rooms, the dogs reacted a total of 225 times in 123 searches!
In some cases, the dogs reacted to the sausage scent, but almost twice as often — 32 out of 36 times — the dogs detected drugs or explosives where there was a piece of red paper. That means the dogs were not reacting to any scent but were reacting to their handler’s anticipation of them detecting a scent!
What does this mean in the real world?
To me, it means that dogs, who have evolved the ability to sense their owner’s moods and body language, are often, perhaps most often, trying to please their handlers when they “detect” something at a traffic stop and in other situations. The dog’s “reaction” provides police with probable cause to perform searches. But a Chicago Tribune analysis revealed that more than half the time, the dog’s alert is false.
That means that more than half of all such dog-initiated searches expose citizens to intrusive, time-consuming searches for no reason at all, which seems to me to fit the definition of the kind of “unreasonable searches” mentioned in the Fourth Amendment. And it was worse for Hispanics who were subjected to improper searches 73% of the time!
This lunacy is, of course, made possible by our nation’s absurd preoccupation with what other people choose to ingest or do to themselves. We’ve spent trillions trying to stop people from using drugs they clearly want to use and incarcerating them when we catch them. Worse, we enable vicious criminals to produce and sell the drugs, then shake our heads at the murders, the robberies — the whole quagmire of associated crime, none of which would exist if we left our citizens free to choose their drugs as they choose their booze.
The Law Enforcement, Judiciary, Lawyer, and Prison System Full Employment Act that is our drug laws has probably destroyed far more more lives than all the currently illegal drugs combined.
When the hell are we going to wake up and put an end to it?
One might think women would be most attracted to guys they know like them. After all, liking them back is a safe bet. Or, based on observational evidence, one might even make the case for women being more attracted to the bad boys they know are not really attracted to them. But it looks like both assumptions might be wrong.
An ABC News report last Thursday concerned a study by Erin R. Whitchurch and Timothy D. Wilson of the University of Virginia and Daniel T. Gilbert of Harvard which found women were more attracted to a man when they are not sure how much the guy liked them. While only women were tested, the assumption is that men would behave similarly.
Ladies, after you read the report, does the conclusion ring true to you? Do you (or did you when you were single) find yourself more attracted to the guy you know likes you, the one who doesn’t, or the one you’re not sure about?
And guys, same question to you about women.
If one tallied the ranks of US Senators who are least likely to appear on the the quiz show Jeopardy, Chuckie Shummer from New York would probably appear high on the list.
Chuck’s latest attempt to top the list comes in the form of Senate Bill 436, the “Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011” which seeks “To ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the national instant criminal background check system and require a background check for every firearm sale.”
Chuckie has decided that anyone arrested for a drug offense in the past five years should be denied their right to purchase and carry a firearm. It would be bad enough if Chuck’s proposed legislation only denied you your rights if you’d actually been caught with a little pot, but you will also be denied even if the charges were dropped or you were found innocent of the charges, and even if you were arrested for possession of something for which you had a prescription and even if the cop who arrested you didn’t care the bag of green stuff on your car seat was dried parsley from your garden that you were bringing to your mom! Just being arrested makes you guilty in Chuckies eyes.
I was about to type “Surely such idiocy would not stand in the Senate” but then I realized these were largely the same people who passed things like Obamacare.
Here is the language from the bill:
SEC. 104. CLARIFICATION OF THE DEFINITION OF DRUG ABUSERS AND DRUG ADDICTS WHO ARE PROHIBITED FROM POSSESSING FIREARMS.
‘(1) IN GENERAL- An inference that a person is an unlawful user of a controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802)) may be drawn based on–
‘(A) a conviction for the use or possession of a controlled substance within the past 5 years;
‘(B) an arrest for the use or possession of a controlled substance within the past 5 years;
‘(C) an arrest for the possession of drug paraphernalia within the past 5 years, if testing has demonstrated the paraphernalia contained traces of a controlled substance;
‘(D) a drug test administered within the past 5 years demonstrating that the person had used a controlled substance unlawfully; or
‘(E) an admission to using or possessing a controlled substance unlawfully within the past 5 years.
‘(2) MEMBERS OF ARMED FORCES- For a current or former member of the Armed Forces, an inference that a person is an unlawful user of a controlled substance may be drawn based on disciplinary or other administrative action within the past 5 years based on confirmed use of a controlled substance, including a court-martial conviction, nonjudicial punishment, or an administrative discharge based on use of a controlled substance or drug rehabilitation failure.’.
Note that in (2), Chuckie apparently also wants to disarm active duty service members. Oops!
The level of Chuck’s brilliance is truly something to behold…or would be if it were possible to see that low.
Who knew the Navy was big on alternative energy research? Boosting the power of liquid fuels with nano-particles; turning seawater into jet fuel – seriously! If they can get that to the point of cost effectiveness, maybe it can be commercialized and we won’t have to keep sending billions to the middle east every year.
From the Too Stupid to Walk and Chew Gum file, comes this Associated Press story:
Connecticut man asks cops about growing pot, is arrested
FARMINGTON, Conn. – Police say a Connecticut man called 911 to ask a dispatcher how much trouble he could get into by growing one marijuana plant, then was arrested. Farmington police say a dispatcher told 21-year-old Robert Michelson on Thursday night that he could get arrested for growing pot, and Michelson said thank you and hung up.
Officers went to Michelson’s house and seized a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Michelson has admitted he bought seeds and equipment for growing.
Michelson was released on $5,000 bail after being charged with marijuana possession and other crimes. A woman who answered the phone at his home Friday said he wasn’t available for comment.
If I were the judge when this gets to trial, whatever the jury decides, I’d sentence him to a vasectomy before he spreads those genes any further.
I’m a “please and thank you” guy. When I ask for something, I say please. And I issue thank-yous constantly; to my wife, to waiters, to those who fetch my coffee and muffin, to the person driving the car that stops to let me pull out of my side street, to everyone who deserves one. The way I look at it, nobody can fault me for having good manners. But anyone can think less of me for not being courteous, especially when courtesy takes so little effort.
These days, there’s a great temptation to send thank you notes via email. After all, actually writing one by hand takes so much time. You have to find a pen and some paper or an appropriate card. Then you have to compose the letter in your head before you start to write. And when you do start to write, you have to think about what your writing and do it carefully lest you end up with a scribbled note full of crossed out words. It’s so much easier and faster to just dash off an email or even a text message. But what do most folks do with an email after they’ve read it? Correct. They delete it.
And that’s one of the the points Post makes in his column.
In the business world, if someone does you a good turn, or grants you an interview for a job, or spends some time with you at a conference – whatever – you can thank them with an email that will get deleted if it’s even read or you can hand-write a short note that might well be saved or even pinned to an office wall.
As Post says in his column, “Would you rather be deleted or remembered?’’
I can’t believe governments, shipping companies, and insurers have let these pirates operate for so long. Why isn’t every vessel that travels anywhere near Somalia armed to the teeth so they can blow the pirates out of the water before they even get close? Why aren’t they at least accompanied by gunboats?
Is it cheaper to keep paying ransoms to these criminals than it would be to send the Marines to wipe them out? Is the money supposed to be some kind of misguided welfare payments?
By doing nothing for so long, haven’t we encouraged more of the same? At what point do we say enough is enough?
UNBELIEVABLE! The Boston Globe publishes something that includes an admission that Sarah Palin is right about something! Hold on a second while I check to see if the sky is still blue or if I’ve slipped into an alternate universe.
Whew. It’s still blue. The Op-ed is worth a read. The Palin quote is near the end.
The inescapable fact is that if government is to control health care dollars, they will have to ration care. It doesn’t matter whether you call them Death Panels, Resource Allocation Trustees, Funds And Resources Teams, or anything else, bureaucrats will be deciding who lives and who dies by deciding what care gets funded and what care does not.
If we were really serious about reigning in costs and making sure everyone got cared for when they needed it, we’d get government and its mandates out of the health care business.
When they wrote the Constitution, there was a reason the nation’s founders did not grant to the federal government any power over health care. They knew government must, by its nature, do everything by consensus, meaning everyone gets a little of what they want and the best is never done. That’s why they left the responsibility for things like health care and education to individual citizens, who would always look out for their own best interests.
Government does not and can not care about you or me. It can only, at its very best, care about the greatest good for the greatest number. And if you’re not part of the greatest number, then you’re number is up and no bureaucrat will shed a tear or even care. Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin, and a bunch of other guys thought that kind of system was just peachy.
Is what they did to their nations, to their citizens really what we want to do to America?
A moment of silence, please, for pMSNBC’s loony-toon former commentator Keith Olberman. May he quickly find a new job deserving of his skills.
Anyone know of a WalMart that needs a greeter?
REFLECTION FOR THE DAY
The opposite of courage is not cowardice; it is conformity.
~ Rollo May
It took me a minute to realize May is correct.
It’s easy to go along with the crowd, just as it’s easy to hide rather than fight, give in rather than struggle, etc. And it takes guts – courage – to be a non-conformist, to think or dress or behave differently than your peers.
In the 60’s and 70’s, those of us with long hair and jeans thought of ourselves as individualists rebelling against the establishment. I suppose, compared to our parents we were. But compared to our peers, at least the peers in the urban and suburban areas of the country I knew, it turns out the guys with short hair who’d never even tried marijuana, they guys we scorned and made fun of, they were the real non-conformists. What do you know about that!
Beatrice isn’t the biggest city in Nebraska. It’s 12,500 citizens place it 14th on a 2009 list. But last year, Beatrice had a grand idea. On May 20, 2010, 148 years to the day after President Lincoln signed the original Homestead Act, which gave 640 acres to about 1.6 million people before the Feds discontinued it in 1976, Beatrice passed it’s own Homestead Act of sorts, offering city plots of 5000 to 10,000 square feet in size to anyone who will move there, build a house, and live on the land for at least three years. Four days ago, Therese Ebert, from Poway, California, became the first person granted land under the new statute.
I hope things work out well for Ms. Ebert, but I have to wonder why other, larger cities are not doing the same thing to get some of their abandoned property back on the tax rolls.
Have you ever thought about chucking the hustle and bustle of city life and settling down on a nice, quiet piece of land to grow marijuana? Well, if you ever do, Mendocino County in California might be the place to go. The Closing of the Marijuana Frontier offers an interesting look at an area and culture where, by some estimates, pot accounts for as much as two-thirds of the local economy.
Free the Chickens! Some folks in Denver, Colorado don’t care much for the 50-year-old ordinance that prohibits keeping chickens in backyards. They want the right to keep up to six hens so they can enjoy fresh eggs. Here’s a link to a recent news story and another to the Free the Chickens website.
I’m on the side of the chicken-lovers. I’ve enjoyed fresh eggs laid by home-raised chickens and can testify that factory-farmed eggs come in a poor second. Of course, that’s not news to the many Backwoods Home readers and Forum members who live the life and have been raising chickens for years.
Comment Contest Winners # = Repeat winner
For the week ending
1/29 Leonard Barnes2 2/5 Pat
2/12 Brogan1 2/19 Stephanie
2/26 Scott Schluter
3/5 Storm4 3/12 Donna C.
3/26 Becky Holm
4/30 Brogan1 5/7 Blue_Sky
5/14 Drill Sgt K.
6/25 Woody3 7/2 Christie
7/9 Candace Delaney
7/16 No responses!
7/23 Rob Andrews
7/30 George Deas
8/6 Vinny V
9/17 Leonard Barnes2 9/24 Kathy
11/5 Kentucky Kid
11/26 Woody3 12/3 Leanne
12/10 Gina Jackson
12/31 charles scamman
1/7/12 Gloria Meyer
1/14 Liz Gavaza
2/4 Phillip Dukes
2/11 Storm4 2/18 Leslie
3/3 Debby Rich
3/17 Carolyn McBride
3/24 Keith Hodges
3/31 Jeffrey C. Anthony
4/7 Sue Reynolds
4/14 No responses!
5/5 No responses!
5/19 Estes Mills
6/16 Chip Johnson
6/30 Elizabeth Martin
7/21 K Howe
8/4 Will you be this week's winner?