Author Archives: Eapen Thampy

Please Support the Re-election of Missouri Representative Rory Ellinger (D-86)

While I don’t agree with St. Louis attorney Rory Ellinger on everything, I am very grateful for his open and prominent voice in the Missouri legislature on behalf of criminal justice and drug policy reform. Indeed, Ellinger should be widely commended for his work in those fields during his freshman term as a Missouri Representative, and for particularly championing marijuana legalization. It is rare for a politician to break with the party and government establishment on such issues, and Rep. Ellinger should be commended for his leadership.

If you are a supporter of sensible drug policy reform and marijuana legalization in Missouri, you should support Rep. Ellinger’s campaign as a way to demonstrate to other politicians that it’s time to end prohibition. Even a modest donation will inform the political strategists at the Missouri Republican and Democrat parties that it’s time to take marijuana and drug policy reform seriously.

http://www.ellingerforstaterep.com

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To Better (Missouri) Government, Mandate Sunshine

A Proposal to Sunshine Missouri Government

The Status Quo

Missouri’s Sunshine Law has been a great boon to citizens engaged in the basic democratic process of understanding what their government is doing. Yet, Missouri’s Sunshine Law still acts under the presumptions that information is not released without a request and that citizens must often bear a cost for the access to that information. Citizens additionally face the dilemma of not knowing with specificity the extent of government records available, impeding their ability to find the records they need. Hence, the costs of monitoring government under the Sunshine Law effectively price most citizens out of access to basic information about the conduct of government.

In other words, Missouri government entities have a legal duty to maintain and archive records of their activities, but not to provide open public access.

The solution: Publish all records online

Rather than making it costly for citizens to search for and acquire public records, the law should mandate all public records be posted to an online archive, in as close to real time as possible. Since public records are already archived by statute, this law would only need to mandate the electronic publication of archive material.

This proposal would end fundamental barriers to citizen access of government records. Citizens would no longer be in the dark about the existence of any specific government record, and would have complete information about the entire corpus of government records. Additionally, ending fee-only access to government records would remove a cost incentive for citizens to rationally ignore the political process; on some margin we can expect this proposal to energize grass-roots political education and activism.

Details

This legislation should be enacted through a ballot initiative campaign to amend the Missouri Constitution.

Please contact me at Eapen.Thampy@gmail.com if you would like to discuss the prospects for enacting some version of this proposal in the 2016 election cycle.

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Barack Obama, Edward Snowden, and What the Athenian General Pericles Told Us 2500 Years Ago

One of the great orations of classical antiquity is the “Funeral Oration” of the Athenian General Pericles, delivered at the end of the First Peloponnesian War and recorded by the historian Thucydides. Though these words are over two millenia old they remain relevant to the concerns of democracy, republic, and government today:

“Our constitution does not copy the laws of neighbouring states; we are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves. Its administration favours the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy. If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if no social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition. The freedom which we enjoy in our government extends also to our ordinary life. There, far from exercising a jealous surveillance over each other, we do not feel called upon to be angry with our neighbour for doing what he likes, or even to indulge in those injurious looks which cannot fail to be offensive, although they inflict no positive penalty. But all this ease in our private relations does not make us lawless as citizens. Against this fear is our chief safeguard, teaching us to obey the magistrates and the laws, particularly such as regard the protection of the injured, whether they are actually on the statute book, or belong to that code which, although unwritten, yet cannot be broken without acknowledged disgrace.

Further, we provide plenty of means for the mind to refresh itself from business. We celebrate games and sacrifices all the year round, and the elegance of our private establishments forms a daily source of pleasure and helps to banish the spleen; while the magnitude of our city draws the produce of the world into our harbour, so that to the Athenian the fruits of other countries are as familiar a luxury as those of his own.

If we turn to our military policy, there also we differ from our antagonists. We throw open our city to the world, and never by alien acts exclude foreigners from any opportunity of learning or observing, although the eyes of an enemy may occasionally profit by our liberality; trusting less in system and policy than to the native spirit of our citizens; while in education, where our rivals from their very cradles by a painful discipline seek after manliness, at Athens we live exactly as we please, and yet are just as ready to encounter every legitimate danger. In proof of this it may be noticed that the Lacedaemonians do not invade our country alone, but bring with them all their confederates; while we Athenians advance unsupported into the territory of a neighbour, and fighting upon a foreign soil usually vanquish with ease men who are defending their homes. Our united force was never yet encountered by any enemy, because we have at once to attend to our marine and to dispatch our citizens by land upon a hundred different services; so that, wherever they engage with some such fraction of our strength, a success against a detachment is magnified into a victory over the nation, and a defeat into a reverse suffered at the hands of our entire people. And yet if with habits not of labour but of ease, and courage not of art but of nature, we are still willing to encounter danger, we have the double advantage of escaping the experience of hardships in anticipation and of facing them in the hour of need as fearlessly as those who are never free from them.

“Nor are these the only points in which our city is worthy of admiration. We cultivate refinement without extravagance and knowledge without effeminacy; wealth we employ more for use than for show, and place the real disgrace of poverty not in owning to the fact but in declining the struggle against it. Our public men have, besides politics, their private affairs to attend to, and our ordinary citizens, though occupied with the pursuits of industry, are still fair judges of public matters; for, unlike any other nation, regarding him who takes no part in these duties not as unambitious but as useless, we Athenians are able to judge at all events if we cannot originate, and, instead of looking on discussion as a stumbling-block in the way of action, we think it an indispensable preliminary to any wise action at all. Again, in our enterprises we present the singular spectacle of daring and deliberation, each carried to its highest point, and both united in the same persons; although usually decision is the fruit of ignorance, hesitation of reflection. But the palm of courage will surely be adjudged most justly to those, who best know the difference between hardship and pleasure and yet are never tempted to shrink from danger. In generosity we are equally singular, acquiring our friends by conferring, not by receiving, favours. Yet, of course, the doer of the favour is the firmer friend of the two, in order by continued kindness to keep the recipient in his debt; while the debtor feels less keenly from the very consciousness that the return he makes will be a payment, not a free gift. And it is only the Athenians, who, fearless of consequences, confer their benefits not from calculations of expediency, but in the confidence of liberality.

In short, I say that as a city we are the school of Hellas, while I doubt if the world can produce a man who, where he has only himself to depend upon, is equal to so many emergencies, and graced by so happy a versatility, as the Athenian. And that this is no mere boast thrown out for the occasion, but plain matter of fact, the power of the state acquired by these habits proves. For Athens alone of her contemporaries is found when tested to be greater than her reputation, and alone gives no occasion to her assailants to blush at the antagonist by whom they have been worsted, or to her subjects to question her title by merit to rule. Rather, the admiration of the present and succeeding ages will be ours, since we have not left our power without witness, but have shown it by mighty proofs; and far from needing a Homer for our panegyrist, or other of his craft whose verses might charm for the moment only for the impression which they gave to melt at the touch of fact, we have forced every sea and land to be the highway of our daring, and everywhere, whether for evil or for good, have left imperishable monuments behind us. Such is the Athens for which these men, in the assertion of their resolve not to lose her, nobly fought and died; and well may every one of their survivors be ready to suffer in her cause.

Indeed if I have dwelt at some length upon the character of our country, it has been to show that our stake in the struggle is not the same as theirs who have no such blessings to lose, and also that the panegyric of the men over whom I am now speaking might be by definite proofs established. That panegyric is now in a great measure complete; for the Athens that I have celebrated is only what the heroism of these and their like have made her, men whose fame, unlike that of most Hellenes, will be found to be only commensurate with their deserts. And if a test of worth be wanted, it is to be found in their closing scene, and this not only in cases in which it set the final seal upon their merit, but also in those in which it gave the first intimation of their having any. For there is justice in the claim that steadfastness in his country’s battles should be as a cloak to cover a man’s other imperfections; since the good action has blotted out the bad, and his merit as a citizen more than outweighed his demerits as an individual. But none of these allowed either wealth with its prospect of future enjoyment to unnerve his spirit, or poverty with its hope of a day of freedom and riches to tempt him to shrink from danger. No, holding that vengeance upon their enemies was more to be desired than any personal blessings, and reckoning this to be the most glorious of hazards, they joyfully determined to accept the risk, to make sure of their vengeance, and to let their wishes wait; and while committing to hope the uncertainty of final success, in the business before them they thought fit to act boldly and trust in themselves. Thus choosing to die resisting, rather than to live submitting, they fled only from dishonour, but met danger face to face, and after one brief moment, while at the summit of their fortune, escaped, not from their fear, but from their glory…”

 

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Kevin Sabet’s Totalitarian Reading of JS Mill

My friend Diane Goldstein has an excellent takedown of prominent drug warrior Kevin Sabet over at LadyBud Magazine. I excerpt:

In a recent opinion piece Project Sam’s founder Kevin Sabet used John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty” to posit “Civil Liberties Erode When Drug Use Widens.”

“John Stuart Mill famously wrote:

‘… over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.’ … ‘The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of the community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.’”

But Sabet only uses one part of the paragraph, which takes Mill’s meaning out of context.

“The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not compelling him, or visiting him with any evil, in case he do otherwise.”

Sabet then writes,

“Since marijuana can cause addiction, forcing people to lose control over their own self and in the process inflict harms onto others; its use can decrease overall civil liberties. And since legalization would undoubtedly increase marijuana use in society, we might expect a reduction, not increase, in civil liberties if marijuana was legalized.”

Sabet’s logic is flawed. Mill, in writing On Liberty, focused on how  government wields power to exert their will on an individual. He followed in the tradition of political theorists who tried to define the proper role of government and its effect on personal liberties. Mill’s belief that the state can only restrict an individual’s liberty if it actually harms another is accurate, but what is missing from Sabet’s analysis is this: Sabet links marijuana use, instead of choices and actions by an individual, with why marijuana should remain in the realm of the criminal justice system.

Mill believed the mere potential for harm to others is not a valid reason for social control. The harm must be manifested into action that violates our responsibilities and obligations to society prior to government intervention. He famously used alcohol and opium prohibition as examples and defined the need for intervention only when there was a distinct breach of the law.

Diane makes an important distinction here that I want to flesh out a little further. Potential for harm can’t be a valid reason for social control because there is no limiting principle that we can sensibly apply; in other words, if we are going to say that we will use the power of government to control behavior when there is a potential for harm then there is no limit to the kinds or types of behavior that can be controlled. This is a totalitarian vision; at its logical extreme it says that there is no behavior that cannot be regulated or controlled in the face of omnipresent potential for harm.

Sabet’s world, thus, is one where individual liberty cannot exist. Indeed, this is the focal point of Sabet’s career: to justify the totalitarianism of drug prohibition.

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Quote of the Day, Christine Dixon

Christine-Marie L. Dixon: “…when human ingenuity once again renders archaic everything I know.”

“Boys in the hood”? The Racist Drug Warriors at the Columbia Police Officers Association Speak Up

Today around 12:15pm, the Columbia (Missouri) Police Officers Association posted on their facebook page:

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This got quite a bit of attention, including from Radley Balko at Huffington Post. I wanted to add some more perspective; I have mapped the 99 SWAT raids conducted by the CPD in the years 2007-2010 here:


Here is what a raid on one of those “boys in the hood” really looks like:

It needs to be said that the language and the mentality demonstrated by the officers of the Columbia, Missouri Police Officers Union are racist and utterly inappropriate for people who have sworn an oath to the US Constitution and are pledged to protect and serve the citizens of Columbia, Missouri.

Good Samaritan Proposal in Missouri Legislature Will Save Lives, Reduce Law Enforcement Burden

I was pleasantly surprised to see then St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporting today about a proposed Good Samaritan law (HB 296) that’s been filed in the Missouri legislature:

Kathie Kane-Willis, director of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University, in Chicago, studies addiction-related legislation. Illinois adopted its good Samaritan drug law in 2009.

“We know from research that the biggest fear for calling 911 was fear of police involvement,” she explained.

Kane-Willis said the phenomenon of “body dumping,” with overdose victims dropped off at hospital doorsteps or abandoned in trash bins, “is a reaction of fear and disregard.”

“When someone dies, we cannot get them into treatment, and we can’t prosecute them,” she said. “… (I)t’s about redirecting people to the services they need and making sure people do not continue to die.”

She said the law would provide immunity only from a drug possession charge. “If there is a perception that this is going to be going easy on drug users or sellers, it only provides limited immunity for the one person who calls 911 and the one person who is experiencing the overdose, and that is it.”

McCulloch said he generally opposes granting immunity in any case, but he is open to exploring the legislation.

Missouri’s proposal, based on the Illinois model, is sponsored by Rep. Bryan Spencer, a Republican who represents parts of St. Charles and Warren counties. He did not return a call seeking comment.

Some states, including Illinois, allow doctors to provide a prescription to addicts, or those who are close to them, for naloxone. The injectable drug, commonly known by the trademark name Narcan, can quickly reverse life-threatening effects of an opiate overdose. The prescription option is not included in the Missouri proposal.

Excerpted from Christine Byars, “Proposed Missouri law aimed at saving lives after drug overdoses“, Stltoday.com, 05 March 2013.

Though I would like to see the issue of naxalone access addressed, HB 296 sounds like a great start.

The organization Students for Sensible Drug Policy has advocated for Good Samaritan policies and legislation for years. Here are their bullet points:

  • Good Samaritan Policies have been proven to be effective at saving lives. A 2006 study in the International Journal of Drug Policy found that emergency calls increased after Cornell University’s Good Samaritan Policy was enacted in 2002, although alcohol abuse rates have remained relatively constant.
  • Good Samaritan Policies are not a violation of federal law. The Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act explicitly states that “a disciplinary sanction may include the completion of an appropriate rehabilitation program.” Follow-up evaluations and counseling are fundamental components of any Good Samaritan Policy. The key is that these followups be nonpunitive so that they don’t serve as a deterrent to calling for help.
  • Good Samaritan Policies shouldn’t be viewed as “get out of jail free cards” or rewards for binge drinking. Rather, they provide students with the clarity they need in order to make responsible, life-saving decisions during confusing and stressful party situations. Every minute spent worrying about judicial consequences is another minute it will take for help to arrive. That minute can very literally be the difference between life and death.
  • Campus administrators are correct in wanting to send the right message. And a Good Samaritan Policy would send the message that campus officials care more about keeping students alive than punishing them. A message against the dangers of binge drinking or drug abuse should never have to come in the form of a student’s obituary.
  • More than half of the schools with Good Samaritan Policies provide coverage for situations involving all drugs, not just alcohol. This is logical, since marijuana is often involved in party situations and can serve as a deterrent to calling for help, whether or not the drug was involved in the overdose. We should also remember that the abuse of other illegal drugs and prescription medications can have dire consequences, which we should seek to mitigate by enacting all-inclusive Good Samaritan Policies.
  • The primary intention of a Good Samaritan Policy isn’t to reward those who make the decision to call for help when a friend is in trouble. Rather, the policy enables and empowers students to make that decision when they would otherwise hesitate. It is a preemptive policy that promotes responsible behavior rather than a reactive policy that rewards responsible behavior after the fact.
  • Good Samaritan Policies are only effective if they guarantee amnesty in writing (usually in the student code of conduct) and the policy is widely publicized. If a school has the unwritten practice of excusing students from punitive consequences during emergency situations, but students don’t know about it, then it is like having no such policy at all.
  • In 2008,  drug overdoses caused 36,450 deaths in the United States.  Drug overdose is now second only to motor vehicle crashes among the leading causes of unintentional injury deaths.
    Centers for Disease Control. (2011). Vital Signs: Overdoses of Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers – United States, 1999-2008. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 60, 1487-1492.
  • Rates of hospitalizations for alcohol overdoses, drug overdoses, and their combination all increased from 1999 to 2008 among 18- to 24-year-olds.  More specifically, hospitalization rates for alcohol overdoses alone increased 25%, reaching 29,412 cases in 2008. Hospitalization rates for drug overdoses alone increased 55% (totaling 113,907 cases in 2008) and hospitalization rates for combined alcohol and drug overdoses increased 76% (with 29,202 cases in 2008).
    White, A. M., Hingson, R. W., Pan, I., & Yi, H. (2011). Hospitalizations for Alcohol and Drug Overdoses in Young Adults Ages 18-24 in the United States, 1999-2008: Results from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 72, 774–786.
  • When someone in America overdoses, a call for help occurs less than 50% of the time.
    Tobin, K. E., Davey, M. A., & Latkin, C. A. (2005). Calling Emergency Medical Services During Drug Overdose: An Examination of Individual, Social, and Setting Correlates. Addiction, 100(3), 397-404; Baca, C. T., & Grant, K. J. (2007). What Heroin Users Tell Us About Overdose.  Journal of Addictive Diseases, 26(4), 63-68; Sherman, S. G., Gann, D. S., Scott, G., et al. (2008). A Qualitative Study of Overdose Responses Among Chicago IDUs. Harm Reduction Journal, 5(1), 2; Smart, A. T. & Porucznik, C. (n. d.). Drug Overdose Prevention and Education Study. Retrieved from http://www.dsamh.utah.gov/docs/dope_u_of_uschool_20060621.pdf; Tracy, M., Piper, T. M., Ompad, D., et al. (2005). Circumstances of Witnessed Drug Overdose in New York City: Implications for Intervention. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 79, 181-190.
  • Fear of police involvement is the most common reason for not calling 911 during an overdose.  
    Seal, K. H., Downing, M., Kral, A. H., et al. (2003). Attitudes about prescribing take-home naloxone to injection drug users for the management of heroin overdose: A survey of street-recruited injectors in the San Francisco Bay Area. Journal of Urban Health, 80(2), 291-301; Tracy, M., Piper, T. M., Ompad, D., et al. (2005). Circumstances of witnessed drug overdose in New York City: Implications for intervention. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 79, 181-190; Baca, C. T., & Grant, K. J. (2007). What heroin users tell us about overdose.  Journal of Addictive Diseases, 26(4), 63-68; Sherman, S. G., Gann, D. S., Scott, G., et al. (2008). A qualitative study of overdose responses among Chicago IDUs. Harm Reduction Journal, 5(1), 2.
  • Students who are aware that a medical amnesty policy is in effect are 2.5 times more likely than students who expect to face disciplinary actions to call for help when witnessing the signs of alcohol poisoning.
     Oster-Aaland, L., Thompson, K., & Eighmy, M. (2011). The Impact of an Online Educational Video and a Medical Amnesty Policy on College Students’ Intentions to Seek Help in the Presence of Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 48(2), 147-164.
  • After Cornell University implemented a Medical Amnesty Protocol, students were less likely to report fear of getting an intoxicated student in trouble as a barrier to calling for help and alcohol-related calls for assistance to emergency medical services increased.
    Lewis, D. K. & Marchell, T. C. (2006). Safety First: A Medical Amnesty Approach to Alcohol Poisoning at a U.S. University. International Journal of Drug Policy, 17, 329-338.
  • A survey of 355 opiate users found that once they became aware of Washington’s Good Samaritan law, 88% indicated that they were more likely to call 911 during future overdoses.  
    Banta-Green, C. J., Kuszler, P. C., Coffin, P. O., Schoeppe, J. A. (2011). Washington’s 911 Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Law – Initial Evaluation Results.  Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, University of Washington. Available at http://adai.uw.edu/pubs/infobriefs/ADAI-IB-2011-05.pdf.

With Republican Sponsors for HB 296, Are the Political Winds Changing?

Interestingly, HB 296 is sponsored by Representatives Bryan Spencer (Republican, 63) and Mike Kelley (Republican, 126). Hopefully this session will allow their bill to advance to committee and perhaps beyond. Interested parties should contact their Missouri representative to express support for this legislation.

If you are interested in organizing further on drug policy issues in Missouri, follow Missourians for Drug Policy Reform.

Very Important Sentences (Inequality)

From the NYT:

“The social deprivation and draining of capital from these communities may well be the greatest contribution our state makes to income inequality,” Dr. Braman said. “There is no social institution I can think of that comes close to matching it.”

Thoughts on Marijuana Decriminalization in St. Louis

The recent introduction of a marijuana “decriminalization” ordinance by Alderman Shane Cohn is a move in the right direction for St. Louis. Advocates of sensible marijuana policy should support this move, but should be aware that this ordinance has several deficiencies that should be understood and addressed. Here is the relevant text of the ordinance:

SECTION ONE Unlawful Possession
It shall be unlawful for any person to possess marijuana as defined in Chapter 195.010 et. seq. of the Revised Statutes of Missouri as amended.
SECTION TWO Medical Marijuana Exception.
Patients for whom marijuana has been legally prescribed by a physician, shall not be in violation of this Ordinance for obtaining possessing or using marijuana pursuant to such prescription.
SECTION THREE Penalty Clause.
Any person violating this Ordinance shall be subject to a fine of not less than one hundred dollars and not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than ninety days, or by both fine and imprisonment.
Here are the deficiencies in this proposition:

First, the law leaves it up to the police on where they’re going to charge someone, in state court under the old law or in city court under the new law.

 Second, it still allows 90 days in jail for a first offense – this is the maximum penalty in city court.
It doesn’t take away the power of arrest – the police can still use this law to arrest and hold for 20 hours people not committing any other offense.
And finally, the “medical marijuana exception” is not very good for two reasons, first of which is the police can circumvent it by charging medical users in state court, and second of which is that it requires a “prescription,” which you can’t get anywhere. It needs to say “recommendation” and be explicit that recommendations obtained in other states will be honored.
By comparison, the 2004 marijuana decriminalization ordinance that passed by initiative in Columbia, Missouri, is much better:

With about 60 percent support, voters last November approved a measure that prohibits Columbia police officers from arresting anyone for simple marijuana possession. That means anyone found with less than an ounce and a quarter of marijuana can only be given a summons to appear in the city’s municipal court. Police officers no longer have the discretion to refer the case to the district attorney for prosecution by the state. Once in municipal court, the maximum fine that can be levied is $250, regardless of whether the defendant is a first-time offender or has been arrested multiple times.

Supporters of sensible marijuana policy in St. Louis would do well to consider the Columbia ordinance as the standard for marijuana decriminalization as they press forward.

Full disclosure: I was ticketed for possession of marijuana paraphernalia in 2008 by Columbia police and paid about $150 in fines and court costs.

Many thanks to Missouri NORML attorneys Dan Viets and Joe Welch for their discussion of this ordinance proposal with me.

Steven Seagal for Secretary of Homeland Security?

So hopes America’s most ruthless and utterly insane sheriff:

Just as I’d given up hope, I found Arpaio. He was speaking at a rally, hosted by the Arizona Republican party, on a practice field at Mesa Community College, along with a slate of local candidates. Flanked by “Fire Obama” yard signs and a hundred or so supporters in handmade T-shirts with his face on the front above the phrase “True Grit,” Arpaio reflected on why his wife was so eager to keep him out of the house: “I have no hobbies!”

He cited his years as a young DEA agent, where he was called into Mexico to heal a relationship with a local power broker. Arpaio feted his counterpart with blueberry pie and whiskey. “It’s about personal relationships,” he concluded. “It’s not just the big stick.”

Afterwards, for $50, attendees could have their photo taken with Steven Seagal, the Under Siege star who has reinvented himself as a sheriff’s deputy in Maricopa County and far West Texas.

In March, Seagal and Arpaio were sued by a Phoenix man who alleged that the duo had killed his dog during a raid on a cockfighting ring in his house—in which Seagal drove through the front gate in a tank.

I asked Seagal if he was aware of the recent wrongful death lawsuit that had been filed against Arpaio, by the family of a mentally ill man who had died after being tasered in custody. He responded with a question: “Have you seen the film of that?” I told him I had not. “Well, neither have I. But I’d sure like to. And once I’ve seen the film, then I’ll have an opinion.” (Happy with his answer, Seagal turned once more to greet his fans.)

When I approached Arpaio, he’d just finished asking Matt Salmon, a former Republican congressman who’s running again in the state’s newly configured 5th District, to lobby for Seagal as the next Homeland Security secretary, provided he made it to Washington. (“He’d have that border cleaned up in one week,” Arpaio said.) He was much less enthusiastic to talk about his own political future.

 

MO State Rep. Mary Still: “My district isn’t up for sale but I’ll help with the auction of the 47th”

The Columbia Tribune reported last week:

In the recording, Copenhaver discusses conversations she says she had with state Rep. Mary Still, a Democratic candidate for the 19th Senate District. Copenhaver says Still contacted her multiple times between January and June asking whether Copenhaver would be interested in running in the Sixth House District instead, leaving Wright to run in the 47th.

In one of the calls, Copenhaver said, Still told her that Wright, a well-heeled investment professional who this year has donated more than $180,000 to his own campaign, would offer to pay for Copenhaver to run in the Sixth.

“She didn’t say ‘we,’ she said ‘he,’” Copenhaver told Richards.

While I don’t live in Mary’s district anymore, and am not going to take a stance on her race against Kurt Schaefer here, it is worth noting that Mary Still’s hypocrisy with respect to “special interests” is typical of the broken and dysfunctional politics that we have come to expect from mainstream Democrats, who have forgotten their principles.

Tangentially, I approached Mary last year asking her to take a stance on the Show-Me Cannabis Regulation initiative. Although she’d given me time in the past to present issues to her (even issues where we disagreed), she told me outright that she wasn’t interested in the subject. Poor way to treat a constituent in my opinion. And Mary’s unwillingness to even listen to the marijuana issue indicates that she is another Democrat who doesn’t really believe in taking care of the poor and politically weak, who are the people worst impacted by marijuana prohibition.

I remember being active for Democrats precisely because I once saw the party as an inclusive, honest institution that had principles and candidates with spine once. There are  few of those Democrats left and it is clear Mary is not one of them.

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My Drug War Speech at the Gary Johnson Campaign Rally this Monday

If you liked my speech and want to support my nonprofit (and yes, I know that the banner in the video misspells “forfeiture”), you can visit Americans for Forfeiture Reform at www.ForfeitureReform.com or at www.facebook.com/ForfeitureReform

You should also make a donation through our Indiegogo fundraiser: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/261393?a=294469

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How Liberal SuperPACs are Winning the Battle for Equal Rights in Colorado

Today’s Denver Post:

When GOP House leadership in May killed a bill recognizing civil unions for same-sex couples, politically active gays and lesbians vowed they would fight back. Now, a network of nonprofits and political committees, partly or largely funded by pro-civil- union interests, are using super PACs to fill mailboxes and cable channels with ads aimed at giving Democrats control of both legislative chambers. If that happens, a civil-unions bill could go to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper as early as January.

And if they succeed, Colorado — dubbed the “hate state” 20 years ago after voters backed a constitutional amendment prohibiting legal protections for gays and lesbians — could wind up with gay men in charge of both halls of the General Assembly: House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino and Sen. Pat Steadman, both of whom are from Denver.

“How dare the people think for themselves!”, Aussie edition

“There seems to be this acceptance in the community with regard to cannabis use and this must change.”

Great Sentences from Tyler Cowen

 

Privilege-seeking through government is often most pernicious when it has a tidy front and a well-manicured green lawn.

(NYT)

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