Monthly Archives: October 2012

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)

Overcriminalization Kills Babies

Alternatively, the War on Drugs is a War on Babies. This is Chris Wildeman from the University of Michigan:

“Estimates suggest that had the American imprisonment rate remained at the 1973 level—the year generally considered the beginning of the prison boom—the 2003 infant mortality rate would have been 7.8% lower, absolute black-white inequality in the infant mortality rate 14.8% lower.”
 

Will Nixon, DBG, and Marijuana at Mizzou, with a little Ray Hartmann on Donnybrook

I’ve always thought it was an absurd proposition that we arrest and prosecute our young men for marijuana possession. Indeed, I remember in my formative years as a middle-schooler the dogs and law enforcement presence that was deployed to intimidate, harass, and arrest children in the public schools for possessing marijuana. I remember asking myself why society needed to act with such force against its youth; why marijuana and drug possession couldn’t be dealt with like any other misdeed, with parental discipline and community support.

Last year I was living at 10th and Cherry, down the street from Harpo’s. Late one summer night the police were called to a ruckus at the Brookside Apartments across the street; there were frequent loud parties featuring all manner of drunken and bellicose behavior, and I thought nothing of it. The next day the news broke…Governor Jay Nixon’s son, Will, had been arrested for marijuana possession, charges that would be later dropped by prosecutors citing lack of evidence.

And this week…news broke that three MU football players, including Doriel Green-Beckham (who is the no. 1 recruit in the nation) were arrested for marijuana possession. Again, I don’t understand…why harass these young men? Why put promising young lives and dreams in contact with the criminal justice system? I generally think that it is unjust for the government to intrude into our personal lives without a pressing societal need…and yes, I presume that neither Mr. Nixon nor Mr. Green-Beckham’s immediate or proximate relationship to marijuana justified the use of force to sanction and punish their behavior.

Tradeoffs Matter

During those minutes the police were citing and arresting Mizzou’s young men for marijuana, they could have been walking the beat, ensuring that innocent people had recourse in the case of assault. Indeed, anyone who’s ever partied in Greektown knows how drunk and rowdy the town can be at night. When I used to work at restaurants in downtown Columbia, it was common courtesy to walk the female staff to their cars late at night after closing. Clearly, this is a core desire of society for law enforcement: to make the streets safe when people are dangerous.

But instead of being able to guarantee their citizens that this maximum effort is expended on their behalf, our law enforcement chooses to fritter away their valuable time arresting and citing young men for marijuana. Hence we do not receive the full benefit of the law enforcement services paid for by our tax dollars. People are not as safe as they could be because police officers are sniffing for marijuana and not patrolling for safety.

Responsiveness matters in law enforcement. Bottom line.

Ray Hartmann Nails it on Donnybrook

My good friend David Johns pointed me to this recent episode of the St. Louis show Donnybrook (which makes me nostalgic for my old life in St. Louis). At about the 40th minute, CEO of St. Louis Magazine discusses the DGB marijuana arrest, advocates for the legalization of marijuana, and receives a round of applause from the audience.

Watch Donnybash – Live at the Sheldon, Oct. 4, 2012 on PBS. See more from Donnybrook.

I’ll leave you here. But remember…our participation in society brings with it a moral obligation to confront injustice and speak on behalf of those who are oppressed. We shouldn’t be arresting young men for marijuana. They deserve their liberty. The public deserves better choices from its law enforcement. To sustain the status quo harms us and maintains the manifest injustice of marijuana prohibition.

Honest Words from a Liberal

I thoroughly enjoy L’Hote, and today Freddie had a post up that resonated with me. Excerpt:

What I am looking for from people who take a hard, pro-Obama line, I guess, is a coherent theory of democracy. Because when I hear people insisting that everyone has got to get on board and let go of their unpopular criticisms, I wonder how they think long term change happens, how political evolution happens. Part of what’s frustrating is that people are so inconsistent in how they say we should proceed. Some say that the important thing is to engage in the process, so you should vote for a third party candidate. But many say that voting for a third party is to throw your vote away. Some say that the place to challenge Democrats to be more liberal (and less militaristic) is through the primary process, but again, during primary season, I read in many places that primarying Obama would be the height of left-wing absurdity. Many just speak vaguely of organizing and agitating, never being exactly clear what kinds of agitating are permitted, or why this theoretical kind is allowed but the kind undertaken by prominent critics Obama is not.

From 2002 through 2008, American liberals waged a campaign of resistance and criticism against American aggression in the Muslims world. And for good reason: our conduct since 9/11 has been a profound injustice, involving collective punishment, violation of international laws and egalitarian ethics, and the dehumanization of over a billion people. In response, an apparatus of refusal was created– blogs and documentaries and books and organizations and ideas. This apparatus has proven to be insufficient. But the attempt has meant everything; it has changed the landscape and expanded the boundaries of the possible. Just a few short years ago, this paragraph would be entirely uncontroversial on almost any liberal blog. I’m sorry to say that this appears to have changed.

The Democrats are my preferred political party, warts and all, and I have been a registered Democrat since I have been legally eligible. But I refuse to be held hostage by narrow partisan need, and I sincerely believe that both the moral interests of America and the long term political interests of the Democratic party are served by presenting an alternative to Republican militarism and anti-Muslim aggression. The only way to create that alternative is to press for it, vigorously and without apology. If Democrats prove unwilling to be moved, then the criticism will have to function as the endorsement of another way, of a politics without a party.