Category Archives: Uncategorized

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)

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.

Kyle Blaeuer, the Racist Working for the Columbia Dinner Train

So I was invited to a dinner event of the Columbia, Missouri Dinner Train on Facebook. I remember the Dinner Train from a small protest that the Columbia Missourian reported on last year:

A line of 14 people formed at the opening of the Columbia Star Dinner Train Friday night – with no intention to ride.

The Columbia Star’s inaugural run was met by protesters from the disabilities community wielding signs with phrases such as “I would rather be on the dinner train” and “I have wheels, will you subsidize me?”

Protesters began arriving around 5 p.m. to protest the train’s first ride. At the demonstration, many protesters voiced their disapproval of the council’s use of public funding and resources to support the business coming to Columbia.

Last year, the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau approved $45,000 to help move the train to Columbia from Denver, Iowa. About $20,000 more in public money was used to upgrade the exisiting train station’s facilities and prepare them for use. The Columbia Star also uses the city’s rail line, which runs between Columbia and Centralia and the city-owned train station at 6501 Brown Station Road.

“Our biggest problem is that the government gave $65,000 to the business,” Allison Reinhart, one of the protesters, said. “The business being inaccessible is bad, but them giving the train tax dollars is what we’re mad about.”

Anyway, so when I received the unsolicited Facebook invite to the Dinner Train event I left a comment about how the Dinner Train shouldn’t be taking public money to support its business. That’s my view, and I don’t apologize for it, although I recognize that other people disagree with me, sometimes profoundly. I do respect other viewpoints and take them seriously and civilly in the public discourse. Anyway, my comments led an employee of the Columbia Dinner Train, Kyle Brandon Blaeuer, to send me a rather nasty private message:

Hey i just wanted to let you know i’m a Columbia resident and i personally work on this train. I am a college student and I make more money in one day on the train than I make working full time at my other job. You are a stupid fucking sand nigger from Colorado. why dont you waste your time trying to bitch on peoples sites that abuse unemployment or do other things instead of employing people in this town, bringing tax revenue, and helping college students get by. How pathetic are you? go back to your fucking country and stay out of ours! you are nothing but a brown worthless nigger. If our country had more people like you trying to ruin everyone else business then we would be more like your worthless sand-ridden mess of an area you and your worthless bloodline descended. Die and shut the fuck up. Give other people jobs because without this job i’d be in a much worse place. Your pathetic. enjoy ranting about something that happened 18 months ago, and cant be changed, and has helped our community since the first day. I hope you get to give the same for your community. A bunch of stoners and worthless fucks just like you. Enjoy.

Anyway, for the record:

I am a natural born citizen (Houston, Texas, 1984). I lived in Columbia for 9 years and put myself through school working in the wine and restaurant industries. I don’t care to disclose my income or charity but I have made substantial investments in the community during my time in Columbia. I now work in Denver as a political consultant though I hope to return to Columbia at some point in the next few years as it is a great place to raise a family. Anyway, I hope Mr. Blaeuer can learn how to disagree civilly over politics and economics and not stoop t0 calling me “sand-nigger” and spewing racist vitriol in the future; otherwise he will remain a discredit to his company and his community.

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Militarization and the Implications of Eisenhower’s Prescience

Cross-posted at The Agitator.

This article titled “The Slow Motion Coup: Militarization and the Implications of Eisenhower’s Prescience” is certainly one of the most important articles I’ve read all year; the author is William J. Olsen, Chairman of the Department of Strategic Studies at the College of International Security Affairs at the National Defense University:

President Eisenhower made these observations on the eve of leaving office in 1961.  Close on fifty years ago he warned of the dangers to America—heart, body, and soul—of a threat from the militarization of US social, economic, and political life.  Little heeded, the concern he raised then has had two generations to work its work ever more surely than he foresaw.  The consequence today is the militarization of our foreign policy and the dominance of the military in planning and implementing broad areas of domestic policy as well.  It is, in effect, a slow motion coup in which increasingly military officers and military counsel dominates strategic thinking and significant parts of the political agenda, in a reversal of Clausewitz’s dictum that war is an extension of politics.  Unlike most military coup d’etat, however, this is not the result of a small cabal of military officers plotting, ala Seven Days in May, to seize the government in a bold, overnight military take over.  Instead, it has been years in the making and is the result of contributions from a broad spectrum of politicians, businessmen, think tanks and lobbyists, a complacent public, and the military responding to real and genuine threats to national survival for over 70 years.  This is not a story, yet, of sinister conspirators.  The question is, is there any way to undo what is done and walk back from a situation that so concerned Eisenhower for the fate of the country he served so long and so well.

The rest of the article is hard to excerpt, but:

There is no shortage of advice, but advice will not help in this situation…

Take just one simple question: Does the United States need a military establishment as large as it now has?  Two simple answers: yes, which is the default position that will be pushed by those with a stake—and they are legion—in the answer; and no, which is the subject matter for an intense and excruciating soul searching that goes all the way down leaving nothing untouched.  But, on what criteria would an answer be based?  Interest in the outcome or concern by itself are not adequate.  And how does one establish any sort of consensus on the necessary criteria?  Or establish convincingly that any analysis arriving at the criteria is not self-interested, biased, or partisan?  And who is the best source to bring such an issue to the table?  There is no shortage of opinion.  But where does wisdom lie?  And how to know it?  It is a simple question.  There are no easy answers.  To ask it is only the beginning.

To take one example.  If ‘small wars’ are the most likely circumstance for the future of conflict, these, of necessity, require ‘small’ responses.  Not just an appropriate force structure but a support establishment short of the scale and scope of the current Department of Defense with all its rococo embellishments.  There is a need for specialized, scaled components specific to the need and not large, general purpose forces.  But if this is the case, then promotion opportunities, justifications for large, regular military formations and the resources necessary are likely to follow the requirements of a much reduced overall force structure.  The system as outlined above, however, is not only not geared to such a need but is designed to resist any effort to reduce the current establishment or to accept missions that suggest such a course.  This is one reason why China is increasingly seen as a military threat.  It putatively offers a threat of a ‘regular’ sort on a scale to justify a large force structure, which, according to the argument, is then more than capable of dealing with ‘lesser’ threats.  Whether this is strategically valid is less a consideration.  And the shift is itself not part of a politically considered strategy but a process driven by the military and its imperatives that now drives the process.

The current military establishment rejects the logic of small responses expect as ‘other duties as assigned’.  Such a mentality, which pervades military leadership, leads to an insistence on wars that will employ large, regular forces or turning lesser circumstances into those wars it is equipped to fight, creating a capability-requirement mismatch.  Thus, for example, although the United States was engaged in Iraq for almost ten years, the military that the US took to war was only trained and equipped for the first eight weeks of the ten years.

Or another simple question: Why do we have Combatant Commanders?  This is a model drawn from WWII, made formal and deeply rooted as the result of the Cold War.  Both are over.  Why does the establishment linger?  And if we are to have a pro-consul per region, why a military officer?  Why not a senior civilian with a military adviser?

Despite the comment above on commissions, there is one commissioner that needs to engage to follow up on the dialogue that President Eisenhower began.  To echo Cohen’s argument, that commissioner is the President, now and all his colleagues as former presidents.  The immediate demands of the office generally overwhelm the ability of presidents to deal in grand issues, which is one reason why Eisenhower made his observations at the end of his tenure.  It needs to begin the tenure and sustain itself through successive presidents, regardless of party.  It needs presidents to engage members of Congress in the discussion.  It needs leadership and patience and a serious, sustained dialogue with the public.

Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, One Year Later

Right to left: Dan Viets, Amber Langston, Mark Pedersen

Left to right: Dan Viets, Amber Langston, Mark Pedersen (July 7, 2011)

On July 7, 2011, I went with the board of the Show-Me Cannabis Regulation PAC to Jefferson City, Missouri, to file the first text of the Show-Me Cannabis Regulation ballot initiative with the Missouri Secretary of State. It would take a further two resubmissions before the Secretary of State would approve the petition for signature collection, and ultimately we would fail to gather the required number of signatures to achieve ballot status. Yet it was a historic moment as we presented the initiative text to Robin Carnahan’s office staff: it marked the first time in Missouri history that a statewide effort would back marijuana law reform.

Some History

While there had been some effort previously to change marijuana policy in Missouri, meaningful activism had only really happened at the local level. In 2004, Columbia would pass decriminalization and medical marijuana ordinances by a landslide (60%). Joplin, Missouri, had an active and thriving marijuana activist base that had been cultivated by Joplin NORML (I first met these excellent folk when they traveled to Columbia in May 2010 to protest a night-time marijuana SWAT raid by Columbia police that left two innocent dogs dead and a family traumatized). I am unfamiliar with the extent of marijuana reform activism in Kansas City or St. Louis, though both cities had NORML chapters of some size and were somewhat organized. The only other effort to change marijuana laws in Missouri that I was aware of came in the form of a medical marijuana bill that was introduced in the Missouri Legislature; unfortunately this effort historically had gone nowhere, as most of the legislators in Missouri are either proponents of these failed drug prohibition policies or unwilling to take the political “risk” of breaking from the establishment line.

It wasn’t until May 2010 that I began to consider the possibility for a statewide marijuana reform effort. This was catalyzed by the release of a training video made by Columbia police of the Kinloch Court night-time marijuana raid, which shows a SWAT team storming a Columbia residence, shooting two dogs, and arresting the homeowner in front of his family. The YouTube release of the video attracted international controversy, and sparked a tremendous outrage from the citizens of Columbia.

I had recently formed a small nonprofit, Americans for Forfeiture Reform, to work on issues of civil and criminal asset forfeiture in the United States. For those unfamiliar with the subject, asset forfeiture (or seizures of property by the government) is intimately related to the militarization of domestic law enforcement and represents the off-budget, non-appropriated revenue stream that funds drug law enforcement. The Kinloch SWAT raid provided me a perfect opportunity to frame all of these issues in the context of a brutal act of state-sanctioned domestic terrorism, and I did not hesitate to make the argument as boldly as I could.

At the end of May 2010, I would finally meet Columbia defense attorney Dan Viets, who also serves as the chair of Missouri NORML. We began talking about the possibility for organizing a ballot initiative, although Dan cautioned that it would be an expensive and difficult proposition. I immediately began looking for funding through various channels.

Finding a Needle in a Haystack

For the rest of 2010, I traveled the state and reached out to hundreds of complete strangers hoping to find the hundreds of thousands of dollars that it would cost to run a successful ballot initiative. It was hard because Missouri does not have a domestic marijuana industry that can support political action. Ultimately, I had the most success reaching out to people who had been victimized by paramilitary marijuana SWAT raids (file Sunshine requests for marijuana SWAT warrants, contact victims, listen to their stories, tactfully ask if they are able to support political change, repeat).

It was an emotionally difficult process. Most ordinary citizens only experience SWAT policing through the lens of commercial television and government propaganda, neither of which are good sources of information on the subject. It is difficult to understand what it means to have your dwelling suddenly and violently stormed by men with automatic weapons and other tools of war. And the courts do not offer much relief; the police and prosecutors who profit from the enforcement of drug prohibition are not inclined to respect the inalienable rights of Americans, and the judges are in similar thrall to the system.

I remember making this point very clearly to the Columbia City Council; that this kind of law enforcement is the worst kind of law enforcement, because it silences the voices of the terminally disenfranchised and allows the commodification of their rights and liberty by a system that is morally and intellectually bankrupt.

A Coalition Emerges

I believe it was in January 2011 that I finally found other stakeholders willing to join the effort of organizing a statewide initiative effort. Mark Pedersen of Patients Without Time sent me the draft legalization legislation written by Jack Herer, and we used that as a basis for drafting a Missouri-specific text. In March Amber Langston joined the team; she had previously worked with Students for Sensible Drug Policy and other reform organizations on a national level. Attorney Dan Viets represented Missouri NORML, of course, and gave us invaluable legal advice. My friend Abhi Sivasailam was also a key part of the drafting committee. We also consulted a variety of other figures, including Steve Fox from the Marijuana Policy Project and Tom Angell from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (it was Tom who advised us to call the PAC “Show-Me Cannabis Regulation” instead of “Show-Me Cannabis”).

In August, I found John Payne, a researcher with the Show-Me Institute, was looking for a new opportunity; in October or November, John would join the campaign formally, and proved to be a superb organizer.

Lessons for the Future

On May 6th, 2012, the Show-Me Cannabis Regulation campaign failed, turning in a fraction of the signatures necessary to make the November 2012 ballot. Yet I count this effort a success, as it allowed us to identify and organize thousands of Missourians willing to undertake the future work of repealing marijuana prohibition in Missouri. In a greater sense, thousands of Missourians for the first time recognized that they had common cause in this undertaking, and found their voices and the courage necessary to speak of their hopes and fears again. This was a great victory.

What is the future of marijuana law reform in Missouri? I have some thoughts.

First, many consider that it may be possible to collect signatures for another statewide ballot in 2014. I do not counsel this, because a midterm election does not draw out many vital constituencies that vote in presidential elections, and even a well-funded campaign may fail. Instead, I argue that the focus should be on a city-by-city effort to decriminalize marijuana penalties; this has the added benefit of allowing us to create well-organized groups of supporters throughout Missouri with the experience necessary to achieve statewide success in 2016.

Second, I believe the November 2012 election will bring much new blood to the Missouri legislature, and I believe a well-coordinated lobbying effort will result in the Missouri legislature decriminalizing marijuana penalties and possibly even passing a medical marijuana or hemp legalization bill.

Third, funding was the most significant issue we encountered on the campaign trail. Literally hundreds of thousands of dollars were promised us by various funders and organizations, but not very much of it actually materialized. A successful statewide campaign in the future will absolutely and essentially depend on the ability of Missourians to understand that the game is in their hands, and that they must sacrifice time and money to make this future effort successful. In some ways, I consider this process one of bringing people back into the sphere of participatory democracy.

Some Disclaimers

Although I organized the Show-Me Cannabis Regulation campaign and the board of directors, I do not speak for them.

This account is necessarily incomplete; a full reckoning would betray many confidences, and many people still do not feel comfortable expressing their support in public.

I deeply support marijuana and drug law reform. However, I urge readers to look at this from a broader perspective, and consider these issues from the perspective of A) revenue-driven law enforcement, B) property rights, and C) the social and political structure of democratic participation.

My knowledge of marijuana reform in Missouri in the past is very incomplete. I should also point readers to this profile of attorney Dan Viets, who has represented marijuana reform in Missouri for over 40 years.

The Wine Cultures that are India and Hong Kong

Success of brands sometimes has a drawback. In India for example, the success of Jacob’s Creek as a reasonably priced, dependable wine has created an “ABJC” movement among a circle of connoisseurs: “Anything but Jacob’s Creek” for my wedding or dinner party please! A brand can become so successful that it shuns another segment of the wine drinking population looking for more distinctive and special wines. The drawbacks of success are not only limited to the lower end of the price point. These days, Lafite is considered gauche for many Hong Kong wine connoisseurs who are turned off by both the high prices and its popularity in the mainland.

Jackson Co. Sheriff Candidate Dwon Littlejohn Blasts Resource-Consuming Highway Drug Interdiction, Pledges Residential Patrols Focused on Burglary Response

In a Facebook status update today, Jackson County (MO) Sheriff Candidate Dwon Littlejohn declared:

Burglary on the rise in the metro area and my opponent would rather have a drug interdiction unit on the highway looking for drugs! A burglary suspect gets away from deputies near Independence today because of slow response times by deputies not patrolling closer to residential areas. As Sheriff, deputies WILL be in neighborhoods!

By definition, law enforcement resources are finite. A choice to emphasize one area of enforcement trades off with the ability to emphasize other areas of enforcement at some margin. In Jackson County, this margin is not a favorable one as people actively committing property crimes are able to evade capture and continue their assault on peaceful society while the Sheriff’s men sit on the highway, looking for drug arrests and cash to seize under the civil asset forfeiture laws.
I commend Mr. Littlejohn’s perspicacious analysis of this situation, and commend him to your attention in the upcoming Jackson County elections. Here is his website.
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Regulators Chase “Five Wives” Out of Idaho

Ben Winslow from Salt Lake City’s own Fox 13 reports on the decision by Idaho liquor regulators to bar sales of vodka from Ogden, Utah producer Ogden’s Own. In a letter to the distillery, Idaho Liquor Division Deputy Director of Procurement Howard Wasserstein notes that:

Social responsibility is very important aspect of the marketing and sales of distilled spirits in the State Idaho. The Idaho State Liquor Division is responsible for the safety and well-being of the citizens of the citizens of our State.

Products we feel are marketed toward children, or are in poor taste with respect to our citizens will not be authorized for distribution.

We feel Five Wives Vodka concept is offensive to a prominent segment of our population and will not be carried.

Ogden’s Own replies:

“We have a product that has sold nearly 1,000 cases in six months in Utah,” explained Steve Conlin, partner and vice president of marketing at Ogden’s Own Distillery. “If the reaction is because of a religious concern, we think they are extremely misguided.”

“We can only presume he means Mormons,” Conlin continued. “Though that makes little sense as they allow Polygamy Porter from Wasatch Beers of Utah to be sold. We’re a little dumbfounded by it all.”

According to the U.S. Census, 27 percent of Idaho’s population are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Ogden’s Own Distillery applied for general listing and was rejected two months ago. The state’s position now blocks establishments from even receiving ‘special orders’ of the product.

 Idaho has one of the most restrictive liquor licensing laws in the nation, according to this study done by Michigan’s Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The study, written by Michael LaFaive and Anthony Davies, finds that:

Graphic 1 shows total alcohol-attributable deaths per 100,000 residents in 48 states during the period from 2001 through 2005, the most recent years for which data are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.[†] The data include deaths of both adults and children. The states in Graphic 1 are grouped from left to right by the four degrees of liquor control: heavy-control, moderate-control, light-control and license states.

The four groups are essentially indistinguishable. If state alcohol controls worked in proportion to their scope, the bars would tend to rise like stair steps from left to right across the graphic. Instead, to take just one example, the average alcohol-attributable fatality rate is lower in the license group than in the low-control group (28.46 vs. 29.95 deaths per 100,000 people, respectively). The same holds true for the under-21 fatality rate, where the average in license states is 1.70 and the average in light-control states is 1.84.[8] Statistical tests do not indicate that a state’s alcohol control regime affects average alcohol-attributable death rates.[‡]

Note that of the 10 states with the lowest fatality rates, eight are license states. The two others are a light-control state, Iowa (eighth), and a moderate-control state, New Hampshire (10th); none of the top 10 is a high-control state.

Perhaps it is time for Idahoans to re-evaluate the goals and aims of their public policy, and to particularly consider abolishing Idaho’s restrictive alcohol-control regime with something more sensible that focuses more narrowly on the public safety issues that are really at stake.
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