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November 2014
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Open Thread

I spent the past week in Wisconsin with family and to attend the baptism of my grand-nephew. I apologize for the lack of posting here, but family took priority for a time.

Obviously, #Ferguson was a huge topic of conversation at a lot of Thanksgiving dinner tables.

Here’s a post I made for friends on Facebook with some drug war relevance that I thought I’d share with you…

This is not just about race, although it is about race. It’s also not just about Mike Brown and Officer Wilson, although it is about them as well.

I really did not expect an indictment. I’ve followed too many cases like this over the years to expect that this one would be different. I’ve kept my own page of some of the police action victims of our drug war — http://www.drugwarrant.com/articles/drug-war-victim/ — heartbreaking stories of people who did not deserve to die and shouldn’t have died if things were done right. (Those names are only the tip of the iceberg – see Radley Balko’s work for more.)

And in case after case, I’ve watched the review boards conduct their investigations and determine that there was no wrongdoing on the part of the officers.

But that misses the larger picture. As a society, we have determined that we are going to authorize certain ordinary people to kill others — those administering the death penalty, soldiers, police. And because we want safety and don’t really want to know how sausage is made, we don’t pay attention to the details of that authorization, or the larger issues that bring that authorization into play.

And in these cases of people killed by police, invariably, it turns out that the police officer did what we expected them to do.

So the grand jury or the review board essentially says “Yep. Sucks for the dead guy. But policies and procedures were followed.” And we all wring our hands and say, “but that cop should be punished,” when what we really should be saying is “Wait a second. What about those policies and procedures?”

Our anger, and more importantly, our active commitment to change, should be aimed not at Officer Wilson’s fate (over which we have no control), but rather at the broken system that so easily puts lethal force into play, that increases the necessity of putting lethal force into play, and actually fuels both this kind of confrontation and the setting for this kind of confrontation.

We have an out-of-control drug war that actually causes violence, a prison pipeline that can make our streets less safe (through ridiculous laws, we have 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prison population), a broken judicial system that can’t handle the load and has therefore, for all practical purposes, given prosecutors complete power to charge, try and sentence. And we have a police structure that has associations lobbying for tougher laws, more militarization, and more ways to extract increased budgets from the people they serve.

These are the things we need to address.

I have friends who tell me that the protestors are wrong. There doesn’t need to be a reevaluation of how policing works in this country; it’s doing just fine given the circumstances it faces. I disagree. But even if that were true, there is still a real problem. There is a widespread national perception that something is not right, and when your job is to serve people, perception of failure is, in fact, failure. At the very least, you have to come to the realization that you can’t do your job well if you’ve lost the confidence of the people in your communities.

That requires serious evaluation and commitment to change (and probably more than just a press release).

It’s important that ‪#‎Ferguson‬ be about more than just race and Officer Wilson (although it is about race, and about Officer Wilson). We need to continue the uncomfortable and gritty national dialogue about justice in this country, and how it’s made.

For more, see my earlier post on #Ferguson:
https://www.facebook.com/guither/posts/10102220561768440

P.S.: I have good friends who are good cops, and I don’t want anything to happen to them. I want them to be protected and to be able to do what’s necessary to protect themselves. But the plain fact is that cops are generally safer today than they have been in a century, and we know this because that data is carefully and specifically tracked nationally. This is despite the fact that certain policies (like the drug war) make violence (and therefore, danger to cops) more likely.

I also know family members of people who have been killed by police. And, quite frankly and alarmingly, we really don’t know how prevalent this is. And this is because police departments refuse to provide that data to fulfill the federal mandate for tracking it. This also needs to be fixed if you want to have the confidence of the people.

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17 comments to Open Thread

  • n.t. greene

    I have a bunch of people as Facebook friends who really need to read this.

    There’s room on the couch, right?

  • jean valjean

    Bureaurocracy run amok. That about sums up the drug war and the license it gives to its agents to destroy the lives of those it designates as Other. As long as these policies remain in place we will have cops like Wilson who instinctively know (or have been told by their racist bosses) that they will never have to face the consequences of their own illegal actions. I wonder what high paying job has been earmarked for Wilson by his KKK handlers to compensate him for the loss of his gig in Ferguson?

    • B. Snow

      If they want him to live = he might be better off spending a decade or two in another country!
      Whoever *They* is = should consider sending him off to some Scandinavian or Northern-EU country – where his pasty “Nordic” features might blend in with the locals.

      Or a stuff him away in a remote spot in ‘The Caucasus region’, Or perhaps in one of the Central Asian “stans”… maybe?

      Kazakhstan has been advertising on TV a lot lately. (Yes ‘Really’ – they seriously have been) = Kinda like New York has been lately – except there’s more than just tax-incentives. They’re advertising deals on loans, investments and IIRC *bonuses* to their currency exchange-rates for foreign travelers?

      I’m thinking the cost of a personal security team, might turn that into a situation where you’re breaking even at best = IF, they can keep you from being taken hostage…

      But (IMO) that’s an exceptable risk in this instance – If some *flavor* of extremists want him, they can fraking keep him!
      On a more cathartic level = It also seems like a good chance for him to learn what its like living with a constant threat to your life, liberty, and freedom…

      He could come back in a dozen or so years & possibly try to share that experience with his peers.

  • EuropePlaysCatchUp

    Berlin – The German Hemp Association (DHV) has invested half a million euro in an advertising campaign for the legalization of cannabis. The first commercials were presented on November 24th. The commercials are to be shown in cinemas nationwide.

    a. We control the market here!

    b. What happens when the money stops?

    a. Impossible, there’s a secret weapon behind this door!

    b. A hitman?

    a. That’s my man in the government. He makes sure it never gets legalized

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1KWszvwti4

  • Crut

    .
    .
    Went on a boat and disconnected for a week. In some ways, I wish we could have just stayed disconnected.

    Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate it.

    .

    So yea, Ferguson…

    As a human, I believe every life has value. I’ve found that you can learn something from anyone you meet. And for the vast majority of individuals I’ve met and learned about, the “good” in their life far outweighs the “bad”.

    A relatively new friend who picked us up from the boat unfortunately revealed a dark/racist side of himself that I had not seen before. And I’m not sure how or even if I could continue my relationship with him.

    It’s uncomfortable how the same facts can be interpreted so differently from another perspective. First, after sharing that he got a gun for his wife for Christmas, the conversation started with an unknown to me local story of a failed attempted kidnapping of an 11 year old; and how, had he been there, he would have just shot the kidnapper in the back and then turned him over for two more shots in the head. Great way to set me on edge, thanks a lot.

    In Ferguson, he sees only the rioting as indicative of “their mentality” and fell into the manipulative trap of believing this kid was a worthless thug (wish I could’ve asked him what line has to be crossed to deserve death…). I’m not usually one for confrontation, and was shocked to silence with his opinions. When I tried to soften the tone by broadening the issue past the non-indictment and the rioting to the issue of race at large, his “mentality” comment came out again, and the tone was even more abrasive. At this point my wife was too uncomfortable with the direction of the conversation, so we stopped, and I’ve been upset about it since.

    I’m not sure how or if I should engage this further. He’s a relatively intelligent person, but now I see he is highly motivated by fear and a racism that I didn’t recognize before.

    I guess what scares me is that with all the fear mongering that he fell victim to, I get the feeling that a societal tipping point on this is here or might be close to coming, and it could be violent on a level not seen before.

    I want to get back on the boat.

    • Well try this (already posted elsewhere on the thread):

      “Look, we understood we couldn’t make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalize their common pleasure. We understood that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be, but it was such a perfect issue…that we couldn’t resist it.” – John Ehrlichman, White House counsel to President Nixon on the rationale of the War on Drugs.

  • NorCalNative

    For some medicinal cannabis patients in California, the future is here now.

    A company called Care By Design has taken the research and knowledge of GW Pharmaceuticals and produced their own line of CBD-rich products.

    GW Pharmaceuticals product Sativex is a whole plant extract that contains 2.7 mg THC and 2.5 mg CBD per spray as the primary cannabinoids. The California CARE BY DESIGN product is exactly a 1:1 ratio and contains 2.6 mg THC and 2.6 mg CBD.

    Care By Design has 5 different ratios of CBD-to-THC (1:1, 2:1, 4:1, 8:1, and 18:1)

    The 1:1 ratio is comparable to Sativex and the 18:1 ratio is comparable to the GW Pharmaceuticals product Epidiolex that is being used as a NEW/INVESTIGATIONAL DRUG for pediatric epilepsy, think “Charlotte’s Web.”

    For ease of dosing, this product is superior to the use of an eye dropper for olive-oil based extract and/or the plastic syringe that’s commonly used to dispense Rick Simpson Oil.

    Prices for a 5 ml bottle (30 sprays) go for $30-to-$35 in Sonoma County.

    Personally, I’ve found that for nerve pain (neuropathy) the 18:1 ratio commonly used for epilepsy is the best fit. For the joint pain of arthritis, I’ve found that the 1:1 ratio works best.

    Currently, the Care By Design website lists 42 California dispensaries that are carrying these products. I would expect that EVERY medical dispensary in the country will have this at some point, and the sooner the better.

    The only negative about these products is that for fans of cannabis-related psychoactivity this isn’t going to get you high so you still need to budget for THC.

    I recently checked out the menu of an Oregon cannabis dispensary (don’t remember the name) and was surprised that the buds and flowers were almost 1/2 the price of California weed and that the Oregon full-extract-cannabis-oil was DOUBLE the California price. WHY?

    • B. Snow

      I’ll hazard a guess, probably has to do with the some difference in the “drug manufacturing” charges in each state.

      And, something to do with the level of experience among those making the various “extracts”.
      On top of the waves of news-scares caused by fires related to the BHO process. IDK, what the “real-world” danger is in comparison to the (Kevie-backed?) “Grimms’ Fairy Tales” = I think he tried to sell dabs as (the crack of mj) at least once to about as much derision as he normally gets.

      If I were to guess I’d bet it turned out – that People could readily smell the manure he was shoveling.
      He and others close to him and/or in the same business, Have long sense gone & stayed *noseblind* to the stench…

      I suspect California having had way more experience with a variety of extracts AND the wisdom to know = Let responsible/experienced adults do the extracting and they’re not going to set fire to their garages/homes.

      They’ll also tend to use up most of the trim/trash used to make it = so there’s fewer newbies trying to make small batches of *dabs* setting their garages or bedrooms on fire in the process.

      And/Or – shortly afterward when some fools try to sample their work in a room with leftover butane in bottles, patches of carpet it spilled on, or lingering fumes?

      I’m only going by what I’ve read, none of that was “a thing” in my day – there were some vague recipes for creating what we’d call “hash oil” – I remember one involving Everclear (grain-alcohol) & days/weeks of waiting… never tried it.

      There was a guy I knew that made something similar (kind of a homemade gel-cap) that invloved a freezer, & a microwave, = and thoroughly disappointing results.

      *Good luck with the Blessed Rain & the potential/possible mudslides out y’all’s way! Stay safe…

  • tensity1

    Excellent, excellent post, Pete. Thanks.

  • Mike Brown is definitely causing some ripples, Choom is asking for cameras for cops, wants to reduce the inflow of military hardware to PDs (haven’t read that one yet). We have and ARE applying some real pressure, there are a lot of folks out there getting a crash course in USA criminal policing.

    And major props to the StL Rams players that came out hands up in their game yesterday. Made the StL PD folks cwy, they compwained, NFL said wah, go away. 🙂

    Swing those hammers!

    • Five Takeaways from Obama’s Police Militarization Report

      yeah… what a wimp

      2. Almost a half a million pieces of military equipment are now in the hands of state and local police

      Under the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which allows the defense secretary to transfer excess supplies and equipment to local law enforcement agencies without charge, only 4% of the property provided last year was “controlled” property that may include military equipment, high-power weapons and tactical vehicles. In raw numbers, that meant 78,000 pieces of equipment last year, bringing to about 460,000 the number of pieces of equipment now in local agencies nationwide. The Defense Logistics Agency has made such transfers to 8,000 federal and state agencies overall, with $2.7 billion in just the last five years. State and local law enforcement agencies got $18 billion in funds and resources overall from the federal government between fiscal years 2009-2014, the review found. These came from the departments of Defense, Justice, Treasury, Homeland Security, and Office of National Drug Control Policy.

      3. The White House has found this program to be useful

      Here’s one reason why Obama is not taking more aggressive action: turns out the White House found the programs were considered quite useful by law enforcement, most notably in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said today. Instead of scrapping the programs altogether, the initial review led the administration to determine that oversight and training were the answer, not a wholesale shutdown of the programs.

      4. No legislation or proposals are endorsed to address police militarization

      The demilitarization issue only underscores the longstanding difficulties administration has had with these issues. There are limits to what Obama can do both because of separation of powers and because of the politics involved including public support for law enforcement agencies since the 9/11 attacks and the power of the law enforcement and gun lobbies. President Obama sought and failed to get stronger gun control legislation after the school shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut in 2012. Local police departments across the U.S. have been amassing military equipment for years, fueled by federal government grants and programs that distribute surplus gear from the Pentagon. The stockpiles have grown faster as the Homeland Security Department promotes domestic anti-terror initiatives and the military winds down from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This latest report does not even recommend legislation or weigh in on proposals that would address military equipment going to local police. [emphasis mine]

  • A Federal Marijuana Tax: Why It Might Just Be A Good Thing

    The economic analysis noted that studies in the UK and Canada suggest that the societal costs of individual marijuana consumption are between 12% and 28% of the costs of an individual alcohol user. This study also predicts cannabis prices eventually falling from today’s prices of $200-$300 an ounce to as low as $5-$18 an ounce. The report estimates a total market size of $40 billion and notes that a federal tax of $50 per ounce would raise about $6.8 billion annually.

  • FB is an interesting place (I haven’t ever used it much, couldn’t) and I suppose depending on your “friends” it’s either a very informative place or very… frivolous. I like that I have informative type friends.

    round 2 from the Guns of Gupta: Sanjay Gupta Says Medical Marijuana Should Be Legalized Federally

  • “Look, we understood we couldn’t make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalize their common pleasure. We understood that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be, but it was such a perfect issue…that we couldn’t resist it.” – John Ehrlichman, White House counsel to President Nixon on the rationale of the War on Drugs.

  • Mr_Alex

    In my view the Cannabis Prohibitionist is a cancer, Unmoralistic and lying frauds that use fake science or even fraudulent science to continue prohibition, Cannabis Prohibitionists are nothing more than Religious Cult members that look for unsuspecting victims off the street and force them to take their opinion and repeat it