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Secret Service Incident Highlights Double Standard PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Roderick T. Long   
Friday, 20 March 2015 08:08

Imagine the following scenario: You’re driving along one fine evening, pretty thoroughly drunk, and ram your car through police tape and into a barricade. Suppose further that the barricade you’ve smashed into is in front of the White House. For good measure, let’s add that the police tape you broke was marking off an active crime scene – an ongoing bomb investigation, which you’ve now dangerously disrupted.

The cops quickly approach your car. What are your chances of avoiding arrest, or worse?

Oh wait. I forgot to mention that you’re a Secret Service agent. So it turns out you don’t get shot, or Tased, or roughed up, or slapped in jail, or even detained. You just go home.

Precisely this scenario unfolded on March 4, with two seemingly intoxicated Secret Service agents crashing into a barricade at the east entrance to the White House grounds, nearly running over a suspicious object that agents on the scene were in the course of investigating as a possible bomb.

 
Total Recall: Bad for the Working Poor PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Thomas L. Knapp   
Tuesday, 10 March 2015 19:31

It seems like a common sense, life-saving proposal: U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) want state motor-vehicle agencies to require completion of automakers’ safety-recall repairs before issuing license plates.

Their justification, of course, is safety. But on a closer look, the bill is just a sop to the auto industry. Its biggest effect will be to hurt working people.

Pop quiz: Of the top three causes of auto accidents, where does “failure to get recall items fixed” rank?

Answer: It doesn’t.

 
Forced Blood Draws, DNA Collection, and Biometric Scans: What Country Is This? PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 04 March 2015 08:35
“The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway, and jail official. The framers would be appalled.” – Herman Schwartz, The Nation

Our freedoms – especially the Fourth Amendment – are being choked out by a prevailing view among government bureaucrats that they have the right to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, Taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.

Forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies, forced blood draws, forced breath-alcohol tests, forced DNA extractions, forced eye scans, forced inclusion in biometric databases – these are just a few ways in which Americans are being forced to accept that we have no control over what happens to our bodies during an encounter with government officials.

Worse, on a daily basis, Americans are being made to relinquish the most intimate details of who we are – our biological makeup, our genetic blueprints, and our biometrics (facial characteristics and structure, fingerprints, iris scans, etc.) – to clear the nearly insurmountable hurdle that increasingly defines life in the United States: We are all guilty until proven innocent.

 
Don’t Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol – Keep Government Out! PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by James C. Wilson   
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 06:48

On February 20, U.S. Representatives Jared Polis (D-Colorado) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) introduced two new bills for federal marijuana legalization. The U.S. government’s practice of imprisoning, fining, harassing, and stigmatizing marijuana users is tragic and has damaged many lives. Ending prohibition is a welcome change, but these bills have severe problems. If passed, they would turn marijuana into a cartelized industry rather than a business opportunity for everyday people.

Blumenaur’s bill, The Marijuana Tax Revenue Act of 2015 (HR 1014), would place a federal excise tax on marijuana, and occupational taxes on the marijuana-related businesses. Polis’ HR 1013, The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, would end federal prohibition of marijuana and transfer enforcement from the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives. The bills would subject marijuana to the same sort of taxation and regulation as alcohol and tobacco, using Colorado as a nationwide model. Such a regime would lead to the development of “big marijuana” firms similar to “big alcohol” and “big tobacco.”

 
The Best Defense (for the Welfare State) Is an Expensive Offense PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Thomas L. Knapp   
Friday, 06 February 2015 05:54

In late January, the U.S. military-industrial complex reported results for 2014’s fourth quarter and expectations for 2015. Good times! Northrop Grumman knocked down nearly $6 billion in Q4 2014 and expects 2015 sales of around $23.5 billion. Raytheon did about as well last fall and expects a big radar order from the Air Force this year. Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced a travel upgrade for the president of the United States – a new Air Force One. Base cost for the Boeing 747-8? $368 million, before presidential modifications.

Anyone who doesn’t live under a rock (or whose rock gets bombed periodically) knows that the U.S. government spends more on its military than any other nation-state. A useful way of understanding how much more: If the U.S. “defense” budget were cut by 90 percent, it would remain the first- or second-largest military spender in the world (depending on fluctuations in China’s military expenditures).

That 90 percent – and then some – is the single-largest welfare entitlement program in the U.S. government’s budget, even omitting “emergency supplementals” for the military misadventure of the week and military spending snuck into other budget lines.

 
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