- Today in world’s smallest violin/if it works, let’s go for it.
- The drone program has killed more people than who died on 9/11. Thanks, Obama!
- Me at Antiwar: ‘The Nonsense of War’
- Me at Rare: ‘On marijuana, Obama is a huge hypocrite’
- On March 30, I was on The Bob Zadek Show to talk about the war on drugs and private prisons.
- A Liberty.me LIVE spreecast where I chat with Sheldon Richman on ‘The Poison Called Nationalism.’
- And the slightly less polished Sheldon Richman and I talk Iran one. (Also my mic is too loud at the start. Lo siento.)
- 1) What the hell happened to this Salon? 2) What the hell happened to this Christopher Hitchens?
- Let’s take a break from antiwar talk to note that I would totally go to this if I could. Dunkirk little ships! The internet claims that Sundowner will be there. Sundowner being the yacht of Charles Lightoller, the surviving senior officer on the Titanic. Lightoller was told they were taken his boat for the evacuation, and he was all, nah, I’m taking it. So he went over, grabbed 160 fellas, and came back. One of the last adventures in a long life of them. Seriously, somebody make a BBC series about his life. Please. I can’t. I’m not British enough.
- Apropos of the above, I totally wrote Titanic fanfiction when I was 19. Except it was HISTORICAL. And I only did it twice.
- Yep. I had some excellent talks while smoking — or standing next to– M.R. and K.H. in Reason days. (But then, that wouldn’t have been so if smoking were still allowed in buildings!)
- This is a very lazy response to the conspiracy theorists who wonder why/how the BBC reported the fall of Building 7 20 minutes before it happened. But the comments are amazing. I might have missed one or two, but it appears that every single comment is by a truther. Every one.
- Still, I am not #readyforhillary
- Here is a great twitter essay, as they call it. It’s short, but should be in a blog somewhere.
- Apparently Sam Quinn used to have a moderately (for alt country, etc.) successful band called the Everybodyfields. I thought he was just the amazing maker of a live tape that S.T. and I listened to all the way to Nashville from Richmond, and back which includes the most stunningly slide guitar-filled, beautiful cover of the “Juicy Fruit” song you could possibly imagine. But, uh, this song is also on that tape.
- The Milk Carton Kids are a band I have seen twice, technically. They opened for the Lumineers who were opening for Old Crow Medicine Show, and I saw all three bands for a two night stand at DC’s 9:30 club in 2012. The Milk Carton Kids are definitely bigger fish now. They are a little too pretty and slow sometimes, but they’re really good. And if 12-year-old me had known that a duo that sounds this Simon and Garfunkel-ish was coming along, she would have rested easier.
- “You call me up again/just to break me like a promise/So casually cruel/in the name of being honest” is T-Swift lyrics at their finest. This is a solid power ballad, or whatever it is. I like the reckless mixture of cliches and legitimately good lines.
- Pokey LaFarge has written a hell of an earworm for his new album (due out later this month). I am excited to see him on the 30th! And to dance. It’s impossible not to with him playing.
Oh, hey, look at me over at The Daily Beast!
In which I try to talk to people who are overly focused on private prisons, but have the right idea of “something is wrong with the American prisons system.” There is a libertarian kicker at the end.
In the last few years, as a surprisingly bipartisan backlash against American over-criminalization has grown, many justice reformers have noticed, and rightfully critiqued, private prisons. The stalwart American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is uncomfortable with the idea of profiteering from mass incarceration and notes that the industry’s bread and butter is putting and keeping people behind bars. The Methodist and Presbyterian churches, and some Catholic dioceses, are starting to come out in opposition to the multibillion-dollar private prison industry. Liberal outlets like Think Progress and Alternet publish fearful exposes about these powerful, amoral corporations.
And they have good points, these upset people. They note how private prisonsheld 128,195 people back in December 2010. That’s only about 5.5 percent of the total population behind bars (including county jails); but that number shot up 37 percent between 2002 and 2009. Critics point to Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison corporation, which employs eight lobbyists and have waged multimillion-dollar efforts to influence laws and politics.
The rest here
- Oh, here are some things I have written lately, like “Advocating For the Next War Means Forgetting History” for Antiwar. Also, my VICE piece — most successful ever, yes I watch the shiny clicks happens — on cops shooting people holding (non-firearm) weapons. Also, my new VICE piece — not nearly so successful — on the idea of feds fixing local cops.
- Hey, Dad‘s Dogging Steinbeck was reviewed in The Daily Caller! Best of all, reviewed by a creative nonfiction writer who uncomfortably concluded that Dad had a point with his Steinbeck annoyance. (Thanks, Jordan Bloom, for finding a worthy reviewer!)
- Allah Pundit linked to me, other less important people, while musing on Rand Paul’s interventionism levels.
- And hey, I ranted about the police on Saturday Night Cigar Lounge over at Vigilant Liberty Radio. (My segment starts at 33’45).
- Here’s Pat Buchanan on ISIS, the why and the what to do
- Headlines from the start of World War II (no offense, Manchuria).
- Matt Welch gives Rand Paul credit on criminal justice reform — something he deserves, no matter what else happens.
- Reminder that Jeff Mizanskey is serving life in prison without parole for marijuana-related crimes. This, unclever liberals and conservatives who say libertarians are just Republicans who want to smoke pot, is why we hate you when you say that.
- Policy Mic writer confused that the decreasing threat of new gun regulations has lead to fewer sales of “assault” rifles. How is that surprising?
- WTF, DHS
- Oldie, but goodie: Cathy Young is reasonable and non-panicked in respect to the issue of online harassment. Violent threats are disturbing and should not be excused as just trolling, HOWEVER, if you read Jezebel, similar, you will see unqualified statements about the life of being a woman online being one of endless harassment. Knock on wood, but that has not ever been the case for me. Nor are these handful of disturbing stories acceptable proof that this problem is as widepsread as people are making it out to be. Again, people being told they will be raped and murder, not okay. Thankfully, it might be rarer than it seems.
- This piece mentions the word “taxi” once — “What happens when the local taxi companies are destroyed[?]” Well, people in Pittsburgh might be able to get a ride somewhere, for one. Critique Uber all you like, but if you want me to take you remotely seriously, don’t use “hyper-capitalism” and try to have the slightest idea what you’re talking about in terms of transportation regulations.
- Also today in nope: Nope, Melissa Harris-Perry. Rand Paul deserves more criminal justice points than Obama. Sorry.
- Nope, Taylor Swift is not obligated to do anything, or sing about anything. The world is always going to shit, which is exactly the reason some people like stupid songs about “haters.”
- And nope, the ice bucket challenge isn’t bad because…uh…people in other countries are suffering. I don’t even know.
- Here is a Guardian sentence: “If you see yourself as a left-leaning progressive parent, you might want to exercise some of that oppressive parental control and limit your kids exposure to the “freedom” expressed in YA dystopian fiction.” I see you reaching feebly for self-awareness, but it’s too late. Yes, stop the children from reading The Hunger Games. Katnis is such a horrible model for children, with her self-sacrifice, bravery, and desire to live without government oppressing her. Damn those books for suggesting that war is horrible — even wars of liberation — and may leave you with PTSD and a worse, or equally bad government. Ugh. I might need to write more on this topic, for the troll is strong.
- I find Jerry Springer singing about Cincinnati sort of entrancing, yet disturbing. (H/T: Jesse Walker)
- Empire Records is not a very good movie, and yet 1) I read this entire piece, 2) When my sister’s friend from Canada was visiting, the two of them watched the movie 2.75 times, and I watched it three times, and each time I was totally too young to know what was going on. 3) At least it’s not Reality Bites, because God damn that movie is the worst.
- These are the vaccines you’re looking for.
- Why Doctor Who gets us right in the gut.
Videos of the day:
John Doe and the Sadies cover Johnny Cash
Sam Quinn, whose music is so good, and so not very available to share with the people, does a version of “Peggy-O.” I wish I could share his live version of the Juicy Fruit jingle. It is truly inspired.
A libertarian panel hosted by Lucy Steigerwald, where ranting is encouraged, and smashing the state is mandatory.
-Lucy Steigerwald: Columnist for VICE.com, Antiwar.com, Rare.us, and Editor in Chief of The Stag Blog; @lucystag
-Michael Tracey: New York City-based correspondent for VICE.com, contributor to The American Conservative, Reason, The Nation, The Awl; @mtracey
-Joe Steigerwald: Publisher for The Stag Blog, technical dude; @steigerwaldino
-Joshua M. Patton: Writer for the internet, www.joshuampatton.com; @joshuampatton
Our cranky, liberty-loving panel discussed the possibility of NSA/spying reform, Michael Tracey’s VICE piece on heroin panic, and the drug war in general, then we had a long, long discussion on libertarianism, feminism, and the horrors of the Buzzfeedification of the media.
When I was 12 or 13 years old, my mother mentioned that maybe weed wasn’t so bad, and police weren’t so good. Being homeschooled by libertarians has that benefit — the lessons are subtle and everyday, and occasionally they are explicit and in the moment, quite shocking.
Since that day, I’ve written and thought a great deal about the insanity of the war on drugs and the dangerous state of American policing. But, I haven’t written as much as I should about another harmful prohibition on a natural human action — one that also leads to outrageous laws, immoral punishments, and Puritanical shaming — sex work. When Maggie McNeill prodded me into writing a piece for her Friday the 13 support for sex workers tradition, I was again reminded that I have not done my job in covering the issue. So, though I have a little post here, my real message for today is, I will do better on this. Because it is the same issue that makes me rant 1000 times a day, to my parents, boyfriend, friends, and literally anyone else who will listen. And the same innocent people are being punished.
Drug use is easy (at least for libertarians) to defend. Depriving people of medical marijuana or prescription drugs or punishing people for their choice of relaxant — it’s seems so simple and wrong to me after almost 15 years of thinking about it. I’ve been around people smoking weed, and nothing dire happened. I can see the smallness behind the prohibition of this supposedly great social ill and that yeah, Reefer Madness is a campy movie, not a policy guidebook.
Drugs are more familiar to me (in a manner of speaking), and they can be enjoyed without any kind of ruin to health or morals. But so too can selling (or buying!) sex. Drug use is a failing and a crime, so says the right; and to the left it is a health outrage to be paternalistically — but still forcibly — remedied with drug courts and mandatory rehab.
Sex work is the same. A fallen woman or a dirty whore in the right’s eyes might be to the left a a trafficked victim, perhaps one suffering from false consciousness if she declares she choose this particular carer.
I don’t often feel comfortable wielding such a lefty, workers of the world, etc.! word as “solidarity”, but when I think of the people who “don’t count” by the standards of society and law, I feel an urge to help them. Not because I know the first thing about how they lives should go, but simply because I know that the laws that oppress them, the cops that harass them, and the rest of us who tolerate or excuse it are all in the wrong.
Chatting with Maggie McNeill and once visiting a strip club are about the extent of my personal knowledge of the world of sex workers. I don’t see the appeal of stripping, whoring, escorting, or any of that for myself. I don’t disapprove of any of it, to be sure, but even if I did, I could — and should — write this same post, knowing that my personal feelings about selling sex shouldn’t mean a damn thing to anyone.
They certainly shouldn’t mean anything when deciding national, state, or local policies. The bedroom is the bedroom, whether money changes hands or not. And pro-woman, pro-sexual freedom liberals and small government conservatives should put their money where their mouth is and realize that laws against prostitution violate all manner of their professed principles. But libertarians, too, must take more notice of this, regardless of personal feelings about the work itself.
That’s the thing — the war on drugs, the war on the homeless, the war on immigrants, the panic over gun owners, religious weirdos, right-wing and left wing activists, all of this has lead to an out of control police force, and prisons spilling over with 2 million people. All of this is excused with, well, it’s not me getting my door kicked in at 4 am over weed, it’s not me schizophrenic and afraid of the police, it’s not me who wants to homeschool my kids in Idaho while owning a few guns, it’s not me being sprayed at protests, it’s not me photographed and held for hours at my work for a compliance check performed by armed police officers, so what does it matter?
Sex workers are judged, screwed over, and oppressed. The state and the busy-bodies have decided they — like so many other eccentrics or “immoral” actors — don’t get the same rights and protections good, upstanding citizens do. Their choices are wrong. Not just wrong, but against the law. And the law is the law, as the meaningless, malevolent tautology goes. Once that is declared true, all else so painfully familiar — jailing, “saving,” shaming, and ignoring people when they do need help — follows.
In the last two years, it’s been tempting to preemptively celebrate the end of the war on drugs. Consider that more than five years ago, only libertarians, the occasional radical leftists, or politicians named Ron Paul were seriously talking about the need to end this disastrous policy.
Now suddenly recreational marijuana is newly legal in two U.S. states, the House has voted to restrict the Drug Enforcement Administration from going after medical medical marijuana in the 22 states (plus DC) where it’s legal, and mainstream politicians are fighting over who can seem the most relaxed about legal weed (admittedly, with plenty of exceptions).
Nevertheless, the urge to pack it in, say “job well done,” and assume that social progress will roll in the direction of ending the war on drugs is a dangerous one.
It’s dangerous not just because of the countless people imprisoned for consensual drug crimes who are still filling our prisons to bursting. And not just because we still haven’t legally won on marijuana, even though 38 percent of Americans admit to having tried it, and a majority has supported its legalization since last year.
The “mission accomplished” mentality is really dangerous because the hard part is still ahead. Reformers will soon have to press on to legalizing the harder, more dangerous drugs as well.
This is one reason why though the relative safety of marijuana — though be careful with that dosage, Ms. Dowd — is relevant, it’s far from the only important issue in the war on drugs. After all, taking the logic that safety is the concern, we could argue, as Slate’s Reihan Salam recently did, that “the war on booze deserves a second chance” since alcohol is more dangerous than weed.
This is one reason the conversation about legalization must not get bogged down in statistical calculations of danger. Yes, weed is relatively safe. Its schedule one classification helps prove the utter cluelessness of folks who profess to know enough to ban something for an entire nation. But even a scientifically rigorous prohibition on substances is morally reprehensible and will have the same kinds of predictable, bad effects that any kind of baseless government action will.
Consider the recent media and public outrage over the Georgia drug raid during which a 19-month-old toddler was critically burned when police threw a flashbang grenade into his playpen. The no-knock raid performed by the Habersham County Sheriff’s Department and the Cornelia Police Department was over the alleged sale of a small amount of meth by the nephew of the Phonesavanh family who had moved into their relative’s home after theirs burned down two months previous.
After little Bounkham Phonesavanh was sent to the hospital and put into a medically-induced coma thanks to these cops, Cornelia Police Chief Rick Darby swore they didn’t know a child was in the house. They protested that would have done things differently had they known. They also didn’t realize that the subject of their search wasn’t even there when they busted in the door.
Wanis Thonetheva, 30, had hours before supposedly sold meth to an informant. (Thonetheva was later arrested with an ounce of meth on him, so that seems probable for once.) For anyone else besides a police officer performing a no-knock raid, this excuse would be an embarrassment. What made police believe that a few hours was enough time between the alleged meth sale and the 3 a.m. door-kick to be sure nobody innocent would be endangered during the raid? Do they not know children exist?
On the other hand, for a drug war action, “we didn’t know” is just as reasonable as anything else. After all, if killing innocent adults, endangering your fellow officers, and destroying 500 years of English common law isn’t enough for a line to be drawn, why should simple toddler maiming be such an outrage? This isn’t weed we’re talking about, this is “not even once” meth.
The rest here
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