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  Saturday, October 29, 2005

DRUG WAR CHRONICLE - More than half a million people were behind bars for drug offenses in the United States at the end of last year, according to numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The Justice Department number-crunchers found that people sentenced for drug crimes accounted for 21% of state prisoners and 55% of all federal prisoners.

Even as violent and property crime rates have declined, drug arrests have continued to climb, reaching more than 1.7 million last year. The consequences of those arrests show up in the ever-increasing drug war prisoner numbers.

With an incarceration rate of 724 per 100,000 inhabitants, the United States is the unchallenged world leader in both raw numbers and imprisonment per capita. With a global prison population estimated at nine million, the US accounts for about one-quarter of all prisoners on the planet. In terms of raw numbers, only China, with almost four times the population of the US, comes close with about 1.5 million prisoners. Our closer competitors in incarceration rates are Russia (638 per 100,000) and Belarus (554), according to the British government's World Prison Population report.

Black and Hispanic prisoners are also more likely to be doing drug war time. More than a quarter of black and Hispanic prisoners are serving drug sentences, compared to less than 15% of white prisoners.


6:47:28 PM    comment []

Tom DeLay's attorney, Dick DeGuerin, requested the removal of state Judge Bob Perkins earlier this week because the judge has made 34 contributions since 2000 to Democratic and liberal groups, above all to

So Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle says, in essence, “You wanna piece of me? You wanna piece of me? So, Earle subpoenaed Perkins’ campaign contributions, but threw nearly 30 other potential trial judges on DeLay’s money laundering charge under the bus as well.
Earle also subpoenaed records from the Texas Ethics Commission of political contributions from 2000 to 2005 by nine judges in Tarrant County, 17 in Dallas County and five in Travis County.

DeLay has requested that his trial be moved out of Austin's Travis County, where Earle is the district attorney and Perkins is the judge. Tarrant and Dallas counties are possible locations should the trial be moved.

Almost all Tarrant and Dallas judges whose records were subpoenaed have made federal political contributions to Republican groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The center does not monitor contributions to state candidates or parties, which is the information Earle seeks.

At least six Tarrant County judges contributed to the Tarrant County Republican Victory Fund, which helps support federal and local GOP activities.

Fun with Tom and Dick continues.

(Via SocraticGadfly.)

6:37:33 PM    comment []

Joe Wilson talks about his family's ordeal. Read it all. It's important to an accurate understanding of what this has meant to the country.

Why did I write the article? Because I believe that citizens in a democracy are responsible for what government does and says in their name. I knew that the statement in Bush's speech — that Iraq had attempted to purchase significant quantities of uranium in Africa — was not true. I knew it was false from my own investigative trip to Africa (at the request of the CIA) and from two other similar intelligence reports. And I knew that the White House knew it.

Going public was what was required to make them come clean. The day after I shared my conclusions in a New York Times opinion piece, the White House finally acknowledged that the now-infamous 16 words "did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union address."

That should have been the end. But instead, the president's men — allegedly including Libby and at least one other (known only as "Official A") — were determined to defame and discredit Valerie and me.
The attacks on Valerie and me were upsetting, disruptive and vicious. They amounted to character assassination. Senior administration officials used the power of the White House to make our lives hell for the last 27 months.

But more important, they did it as part of a clear effort to cover up the lies and disinformation used to justify the invasion of Iraq. That is the ultimate crime.

Tags: , , ,

(Via No More Apples.)

6:34:25 PM    comment []

MalkinWatch does a great job of taking down Michelle & Jesse's talking points. These people know no boundaries. This part, conflating just as the Malkin's do, is great:

Republicans, remember, are people who believe that blacks are inherently criminal, and that aborting all the black fetuses would lower the crime rate.

Who think that interracial marriage is a sin.

Who applaud when Ann Coulter says that a few liberals should be executed just to keep the rest of them in line.

Who say that Emmitt Till had it coming.

Who said Rosa Parks was a communist spy.

Who believe that all our problems can be solved by nuking the entire Middle East.

Who think that all Muslims should be interned.

6:29:37 PM    comment []

The editors of National Review are, surprisingly, speaking truth to power rather than recycling GOP talking points:

Please spare us the excuses warmed over from Democratic talking points in the 1990s: the prosecutor is out-of-control, there was no underlying crime, etc., etc. It is the responsibility of anyone, especially a public official, to tell the truth to FBI agents and grand juries. If Libby didn't, he should face the consequences.

So, too, is Andy McCarthy on NR's blog The Corner:

Some observations from the wrenching experience of watching TV last night and witnessing people I admire -- people who were on the right side of the Clinton wars and have heretofore been strong rule-of-law conservatives -- engage in what is a startling defense of the conduct alleged against Scooter Libby.

The claim that Libby is being smeared with the allegation that he leaked classified information even though he hasn't been charged with it, and that because he has not been charged he has no way to get his good name back from the said smearing, is specious.

This is not a case where a person has not been charged with any crimes at all, where the government doesn't have the nerve to put its money where its mouth is, or where the government itself is leaking out damaging innuendo. The government has not filed a bare-bones indictment, as it could legally have done. Instead, the special prosecutor has given Libby elaborate notice, extensively describing his alleged conduct. We are not at a loss here to make our own judgments about what the conduct means if it is proved.

(Via Brendan Nyhan.)

6:25:43 PM    comment []

Ten surprising facts about current Iranian culture (UkInd-2col)

(Via robot wisdom weblog.)

6:25:32 PM    comment []

The funniest description ever filed of conditions on Planet Anthony Burgess must be Martin Amis's celebrated 1980 Observer profile. Bearding the then 63-year-old author in his Monte Carlo tax exile's lair to mark the publication of his novel Earthly Powers, Amis was subjected to the full range of Burgess's crazed polymathry: the multi-lingual savvy ("Yes, I read all the Romance languages"); the metaphysical strivings ("I do believe in the forces of evil"); the bookish omniscience. A five-hour luncheon having crawled to a halt with a succession of up-ended double brandies, Amis retired to nurse a hangover that persisted for two days, whereas Burgess, his interviewer surmised, "went home, did the kitchen, spring-cleaned the flat, wrote two book reviews, a flute concerto and a film treatment, knocked off his gardening column for Pravda, phoned in his surfing page to the Sydney Morning Herald, and then test-drove a kidney dialysis machine for El Pais before settling down to some serious work."

(Via Robot Wisdom.)

I haven't read any Burgess in a long time, nor have I read enough. Earthly Powers is an amazing novel, a true spiritual mystery of a book, taking on big questions.

6:17:14 PM    comment []

Matc ties it all together.

For decades, "walled gardens" of proprietary standards and content have been the strategy of dominant players in mainframe computer software, wireless telecommunications services, and the World Wide Web%u2014it was their successful lock-in strategy of keeping their customers theirs. But like it or not, those walls are tumbling down. Open web standards are being adopted so widely, with such value and impact, that the web giants%u2014Amazon, AOL, eBay, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo%u2014are facing the difficult decision of opening up to what they don't control.

...[N]ew open standards and protocols are in use, under construction, or being proposed every day, pushing the envelope of where we are right now. Many of these standards are coming from startup companies and small groups of developers, not from the giants. Together with the Open APIs, those new standards will contribute to a new, open infrastructure. Tens of thousands of developers will use and improve this open infrastructure to create new kinds of web-based applications and services, to offer web users a highly personalized online experience

5:03:04 PM    comment []

AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta

No need to clean house.

"[S]ome insiders say they are not sure if Mr. Bush fully grasps the degree of the political danger he faces and the strength of the forces arrayed against him. And Republican strategists and members of Congress say that while the components of the renewal strategy are easy to identify, they will be hard to carry out in the current environment."

(Via Dependable Renegade.)

Steve: Dang, but Dependable Renegade is great at picking photos that make Dubya look ridiculous. But then, maybe that's not all that hard. Still, scanning through the site is a riot.

4:35:26 PM    comment []

Nobelist and physicist Richard Feynman explaining the "God of the gaps" mentality/argument:

God was invented to explain mystery. God is always invented to explain those things that you do not understand. Now, when you finally discover how something works, you get some laws which you're taking away from God; you don't need him anymore. But you need him for the other mysteries. So therefore you leave him to create the universe because we haven't figured that out yet; you need him for understanding those things which you don't believe the laws will explain, such as consciousness, or why you only live to a certain length of time -- life and death -- stuff like that. God is always associated with those things that you do not understand.

IDers are great at playing this game. When something is too complex for them to figure out, they whip out their untestable, unfalsifiable explain-it-all, "God did that!"

(Via Hokum-Balderdash Assay.)

4:16:47 PM    comment []

The ex-police chief of Seattle, drawing on many years of experience as a police officer, has come to the conclusion that all drugs should be legalized. You really need to read the entire article, but you could start with:

Prohibition of alcohol fell flat on its face. The prohibition of other drugs rests on an equally wobbly foundation. Not until we choose to frame responsible drug use — not an oxymoron in my dictionary — as a civil liberty will we be able to recognize the abuse of drugs, including alcohol, for what it is: a medical, not a criminal, matter.

As a cop, I bore witness to the multiple lunacies of the "war on drugs." Lasting far longer than any other of our national conflicts, the drug war has been prosecuted with equal vigor by Republican and Democratic administrations, with one president after another — Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush — delivering sanctimonious sermons, squandering vast sums of taxpayer money and cheerleading law enforcers from the safety of the sidelines.

It's not a stretch to conclude that our draconian approach to drug use is the most injurious domestic policy since slavery. Want to cut back on prison overcrowding and save a bundle on the construction of new facilities? Open the doors, let the nonviolent drug offenders go. The huge increases in federal and state prison populations during the 1980s and '90s (from 139 per 100,000 residents in 1980 to 482 per 100,000 in 2003) were mainly for drug convictions. In 1980, 580,900 Americans were arrested on drug charges. By 2003, that figure had ballooned to 1,678,200. We're making more arrests for drug offenses than for murder, manslaughter, forcible rape and aggravated assault combined. Feel safer?

I've witnessed the devastating effects of open-air drug markets in residential neighborhoods: children recruited as runners, mules and lookouts; drug dealers and innocent citizens shot dead in firefights between rival traffickers bent on protecting or expanding their markets; dedicated narcotics officers tortured and killed in the line of duty; prisons filled with nonviolent drug offenders; and drug-related foreign policies that foster political instability, wreak health and environmental disasters, and make life even tougher for indigenous subsistence farmers in places such as Latin America and Afghanistan. All because we like our drugs — and can't have them without breaking the law.

As an illicit commodity, drugs cost and generate extravagant sums of (laundered, untaxed) money, a powerful magnet for character-challenged police officers.

Although small in numbers of offenders, there isn't a major police force — the Los Angeles Police Department included — that has escaped the problem: cops, sworn to uphold the law, seizing and converting drugs to their own use, planting dope on suspects, robbing and extorting pushers, taking up dealing themselves, intimidating or murdering witnesses.

A devastating indictment of current policy. He concludes with an outline plan of how legalization would work:

  • Regulation of manufacture
  • No advertising
  • Taxed
  • No selling drugs to minors
  • Driving under the influence still a serious crime

I pretty much agree with everything he says. I don’t have a lot to add except that of course, it’s not going to happen: no politician would risk supporting a proposal that opposes the current dogma. I have to hope articles like this may eventually help move us towards a more rational approach.

(Via Skeptico.)

4:10:21 PM    comment []

(Via The Onion.)

The Onion at its best. It's great that The Onion is now being distributed in the bay area.

4:05:36 PM    comment []


(Via low culture.)

3:30:43 PM    comment []

New Yorkers see 'Jesus' appear on city street. Looks more like Freddy the Freeloader to me, or maybe Jebus needs a shave. The stupidity of some people is just amazing.

(Via Pam's House Blend.)

2:16:56 PM    comment []

"One man's theology is another man's belly laugh."

~ Robert A. Heinlein


(Via Nanovirus.)

2:08:38 PM    comment []

From the OSC's press release, the indictment in a nutshell :

Prior to July 14, 2003, Valerie Wilson’s employment status was classified. Prior to that date, her affiliation with the CIA was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community. Disclosure of classified information about an individual’s employment by the CIA has the potential to damage the national security in ways that range from preventing that individual’s future use in a covert capacity, to compromising intelligence-gathering methods and operations, and endangering the safety of CIA employees and those who deal with them, the indictment states.

“When citizens testify before grand juries they are required to tell the truth,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “Without the truth, our criminal justice system cannot serve our nation or its citizens. The requirement to tell the truth applies equally to all citizens, including persons who hold high positions in government. In an investigation concerning the compromise of a CIA officer’s identity, it is especially important that grand jurors learn what really happened. The indictment returned today alleges that the efforts of the grand jury to investigate such a leak were obstructed when Mr. Libby lied about how and when he learned and subsequently disclosed classified information about Valerie Wilson,” he added.

Contrary to conservative claims, there was a leak of classified information that could endanger national security. Regardless of the legal culpability, anyone who helped cover this up is a traitor to this country. The Administration's moving goalposts in regards to firing conspirators, the media's faux ignorance about which officials were leaking Plame's identity, and everyone who pretended that divulging classified information isn't a big're all guilty of treason in my eyes.

More here.

(Via The Talent Show.)

1:24:33 PM    comment []

Give 'em hell, Howard:

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean today issued the following statement:

"This is a sad day for America.

"Beyond the evidence that the White House manipulated the intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq, a group of senior White House officials not only orchestrated efforts to smear a critic of the war, but worked to cover up this smear campaign. In so doing, they ignored the rule of law, endangering our national security and the brave men and women who dedicate their lives to protecting our nation's security. I. Lewis Libby was a part of this internal White House group.

"This is not only an abuse of power, it is an un-American abuse of the public trust. As Americans, we must hold ourselves and our leaders to a higher standard. We cannot fear dissent. We cannot fear the truth. And we cannot tolerate those who do.

"More importantly, we can't ignore the glaring questions this case has raised about the rationale the Bush Administration used to send us to war in Iraq, a war that continues. American soldiers are still in harms way. Over 2,000 brave Americans have lost their lives, thousands of American soldiers have been wounded, and thousands of American families have made the ultimate sacrifice. Still, the President has no plan and no exit strategy. And still he hasn't answered the question, what are we doing in Iraq and when can our troops come home?

"President Bush faces a serious test of leadership; will he keep his pledge to hold his Administration to high ethical standards and give the American people what they deserve, and will he answer to the American people for these serious missteps?"

(Via No More Apples.)

11:46:26 AM    comment []

President Bush names Ellen Sauerbray to a State Deparment post, attracting a negative reaction from many who says she's not qualified or the job. The former Maryland gubernatorial hopeful is Ambassador to the U.N. for Women's Issues.

(Via NPR Programs: Weekend Edition - Saturday.)

In the Bush administration, once again, ideology tops competence and knowledge.

11:05:49 AM    comment []

Ah, cannabis. As Homer said about donuts, is there anything it can't do?

"If the stuff wasn't illegal it would be considered a medical super-miracle given all the problems it treats."

10:03:38 AM    comment []

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