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Friday, October 28, 2011

About that Herman Cain ad

As explained in the book, advertising is a form of media. It is present in all other forms of media, including the news media and the entertainment media.
Even political ads are included.
Which brings me to this popular commercial for presidential candidate Herman Cain (above).
The ad is pretty non-controversial and frankly, not memorable and thus insignificant.
Until the very end.
When Cain's campaign director takes a drag from a cigarette and then blows smoke right at the camera.
The man smokes right after saying, "We can do this. We can take this country back."
Then the song begins: "I am America..."
The camera then turns to Cain, who after about 10 seconds, just smiles. Like I said, weird.
While there are many interpretations of the meaning of the ad, we can all agree that this is just weird.
Here is my take on the meaning as a long-term anti-smoking advocate.

First, is someone who smokes in this day and age a smart person? Like stupid.
I mean, given all we know about the dangers of smoking, do we really want someone who smokes to help lead our country? Further, if he is not smart, doesn't that mean he is probably not fully capable of picking the best person to lead our country?
Smoking today is like an admission that you don't care about the dangers of smoking--that you will likely die from the product, an average of 14 years earlier than normal--in a slow, painful, and incredibly expensive way.
Or that you are just uniformed about the dangers of smoking.
And that's what we need right now, isn't it? An uniformed leader!?!?!?!

Second, what's with the "taking our country back?" Do you mean for smokers? Because you cannot smoke indoors in public anymore? Because "your right to smoke" has been so severely infringed?
Sorry, dude, but we're not going back to the 20th Century when you could smoke anywhere you wanted in spite of the dangers it poses to people like me who don't smoke.
Third, why blow smoke in my face? Your right to smoke stops at my nose. The CDC says 50,000 Americans die every year from second hand smoke. That's three years worth of murder, more than ten times the number of people who die from all illicit drugs combined, and the equivalent of almost twenty 9/11 terrorist attacks every year (like I said, stupid).
Sorry, dude, but you are NOT America. Only about 20% of people now smoke (I wonder if it is the same 20% who identify with the "Tea Party movement?"). 80% of us don't smoke and many of us would not want to support your candidate just because you flaunt your smoking on national TV.
Personally, I don't think Herman Cain is a viable candidate for President, even if he currently leads in the polls.

But that is irrelevant. My opinion plus two dollars gets you a cup of coffee.

I am concerned that a leading candidate for president has his campaign led by a smoker (just like I am concerned that the current President smoked for decades).
Smoking is one of the worst "crimes" that is not a crime in America. Anyone who participates is helping to contribute to hundreds of thousands of deaths in the US every year.

Nation & World

Web sensation: "Smoking Man" features Herman Cain's chief of staff, Mark Block, endorsing Cain and smoking a cigarette.

Cain campaign 'Smoking Man' video goes viral

A viral video for the Herman Cain campaign features Cain's chief of staff, Mark Block, endorsing Cain and smoking a cigarette.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Random crime stories from NC today

Just saw this on Yahoo when checking my mail.
Iredell authorities make record heroin haul- Charlotte Observer
Teen assualted, robbed in Charlotte high…- WCNC
24 men charged in NC child porn cases- Rock Hill Herald

Weird, no?

Nothing about whether the heroin bust makes any difference.
Or how rare such attacks at schools are.
Or why we should care about guys looking at porn on their home computers.

Just random crime news to scare the heck out of you.

The Rich Getting Richer

The talking heads on various news networks (especially Fox but also other ones), and especially the morons on talk radio, have been repeatedly attacking the motives of the Occupy Wall Street movement (keep in mind these are the same people who vociferously celebrated the birth and activities of the Tea Party movement). They say those people don't even know what they stand for.

The fact is they stand for a lot of different things, all of which are centered around the fact that 99% of us have our present and future negatively impacted by brash, risky, and often illegal decisions of the 1%.

Consider this story from USA Today as further evidence of the problem:

Directorships, already among the best-paying part-time jobs in Corporate America, are becoming even more lucrative.

Fortune 500 directors could receive median pay of nearly $234,000 in 2011. That's a 10% jump from the 2010 median of $212,500, according to an analysis out Wednesday by compensation consultant Towers Watson.

Got that? Since last year, CEOs got pay huge raises! What about you? If you are the average American you probably have not had a significant raise in 5-10 years, if you still even have a job.
Behind the increases: higher cash retainers and gains on Wall Street, which lifted the value of directors' stock compensation 9% last year — the biggest jump in equity award values since 2006, Towers Watson pay consultant Doug Friske says.

So you get the fact that it is Wall Street that is being occupied?

Directorships can be far more lucrative. Apple directors averaged more than $984,000 in 2010, while Occidental Petroleum directors averaged nearly $420,000 and directors at troubled Hewlett-Packard got over $381,000.Moreover, while Towers Watson found median pay up 6% in 2010 and expects gains of up to 10% in 2011, firms such as Allergan and Navistar are boosting retainers by up to 80%.

Directors are tasked with overseeing management, executive pay and corporate strategy. Typically, their ranks have been filled by CEOs and retired executives.

Aside from a handful of board and committee meetings, directorships typically consume little time. A recent National Association of Corporate Directors study found directors averaging just 4.3 hours a week on board work.

Critics says directors are largely overpaid and ineffective. "Far too much of their time has been for check-the-box and cover-your-behind activities rather than real monitoring of executives and providing strategic advice on behalf of shareholders," says John Gillespie, a former investment banker and co-author of Money for Nothing: How the Failure of Corporate Boards is Ruining American Business and Costing Us Trillions.

Compensation consultants say that with more regulatory compliance required under federal laws, qualified directors are hard to find, even with higher pay.

"It sounds like a lot of money for a part-time job, but there are some pretty full-time risks," says Jan Koors of pay consultant Pearl Meyer & Partners.

While CEO pay has come under increasing scrutiny, director pay has largely flown under the radar. Stubbornly high unemployment and the growing disparity between the pay of rank-and-file workers and executives could put fresh scrutiny on directors by movements such as "Occupy Wall Street."

Says Arun Gupta, who has been tracking Occupy efforts in several cities for the Indypendent newspaper: "People are going to look at these numbers and say they're excessive and unfair."

The National Association of Corporate Directors did not respond to calls for comment.


Well, of course not, what could they say? "You know, in spite of the fact that we are making record profits and yet are not hiring anyone--well not in America at least--and even though we routinely kill our own workers for profit, we earned these salaries!"

So income inequality--the gap between the rich and poor--continues to grow. This is linked to higher rates of violent crime and murder across nations.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Senate Republicans block National Criminal Justice Commission Act

Want a sense for how difficult it is to reform the U.S. prison system? Last night in the Senate, Jim Webb put forward his long-awaited bill to create a 14-member commission to examine federal, state and local criminal-justice practices. The commission would’ve looked at everything from prison overcrowding to drug-war policies and made recommendations for how to reduce the overall incarceration rate, tamp down on prison violence and improve mental-health treatment. That’s it. A non-binding, blue-ribbon commission. Even conservative and law-enforcement groups had backed it as a reasonable first step.


 And yet it failed. Fifty-seven senators voted for it, 43, all Republicans, voted against it. That wasn’t enough to overcome a filibuster. Two Republicans, Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn and Texas’s Kay Bailey Hutchison, argued that the federal government would be overstepping its constitutional bounds by spending $5 million to study state and local justice systems, according to the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. “We are absolutely ignoring the Constitution if we do this,” Coburn said.

Radley Balko smells hypocrisy: “The drug war is as direct and aggressive an assault on federalism and the power of states and localities to make their own criminal justice policy as anything else the federal government does. Yet Hutchison, Coburn and the rest of the GOP senators who killed the Webb bill all support it,” he writes. “Along comes a bill that would create a committee to make some non-binding suggestions … and suddenly all of these GOP senators get a case of the constitutional vapors.”

For context, here’s an old piece that Webb wrote for Parade magazine about why he’s so obsessed with prison reform (the piece contains the usual mind-numbing stats — one in every 31 U.S. adults is in prison, jail or supervised release; we now spend $68 billion per year on corrections). And here’s an old Washington Post profile of Webb’s crusade to reform the justice system. Once Webb retires from the Senate in 2012, it’s unclear who else, if anyone, is going to take up this contentious issue with such an intense focus. Which means it’s hard to see reforms getting any easier.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Has it really come to this?

Where the mainstream press show a photo like this, on the front page of every news website in America?


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Criminal Justice Commission gaining steam

From the ACLU website:

A Path Forward to Criminal Justice Policy that Keeps us Safe and Reflects our Values

Today, there are over 2.3 million men and women in prisons throughout the United States. We incarcerate more of our population than any country in the world, and the increased incarceration of offenders with drug offenses represents the most significant source of growth. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, our government spends nearly $69 billion on our correctional system alone.

While everyone agrees that government must not compromise when it comes to preserving public safety, the fact remains that many people are incarcerated for non-violent, low-level offenses and could be held accountable using alternatives that are not only less costly, but also more effective.
Take the case of Hamedah Hasan, who when 21 years old found herself in an incredibly abusive relationship with a man in Portland, Oregon. She moved hundreds of miles away to Omaha, Nebraska hoping to escape her violent ex-boyfriend. But the cousin that she moved in with was dealing crack cocaine and asked her to run errands and wire money. Under drug conspiracy laws she was sentenced to 27 years in prison.

Even the judge who sentenced Hasan recognized the unfairness of the sentence imposed, writing in a letter to the Department of Justice Pardon Attorney's Office, "I can say, without equivocation, that Ms. Hasan is deserving of the President's mercy. I have never supported such a request in the past, and I doubt that I will support another one in the future. That said, in this unique case, justice truly cries out for relief." Hamedah remains in prison, along with countless other people being warehoused for far too long in the federal system — at skyrocketing costs to taxpayers — because of unfair sentencing policies.

Today, Sen. Jim Webb filed an amendment to the Senate's Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act that would create a bipartisan commission tasked with examining our nation's criminal justice system and offering reform recommendations in a number of important areas including rates of incarceration, law enforcement, substance abuse treatment, and reentry policies.
The idea of a national criminal justice commission has gained bipartisan support in Congress as well as support from a range of stakeholder groups representing law enforcement, state and local governments.

Supporters of this amendment include prominent law enforcement organizations, such as the National Fraternal Order of Police, the National Sheriffs' Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Narcotics Officer's Associations' Coalition, and the International Union of Police Associations, as well as state and local government organizations, such as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Criminal Justice Association, and National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities. Additionally, over 150 civil rights, criminal justice, community-based, and faith-based organizations have expressed their support for the adoption of this amendment.


A bipartisan national criminal justice commission will create the political space for policy makers to engage in frank and thoughtful dialogue about the significant shortcomings of our current system. It is an important first step toward creating criminal justice policy that not only keeps us safe but also reflects our values.

You can help. Tell the Senate to adopt meaningful criminal justice reform now.

Yes, do your part. This is an incredible opportunity to impact criminal justice policy--to make it more well planned and less "nonsense."

And check this article out. Nice timing, no?

Crunching the numbers on criminal justice

October 19, 2011 A new report finds that subjecting criminal justice policy proposals to cost-benefit analysis would show that many "get tough" policies take an outsized toll on taxpayers and society.

Decisions about criminal justice policy have historically been driven largely by politics, ideology and fear rather than research and hard data. The political toxicity of the “soft on crime” label in particular has created nearly unremitting upward pressure in the harshness of measures including three strikes laws, mandatory minimums, and longer sentences.
But the result has been an era of mass incarceration, with disastrous effects on some communities -- and at enormous cost to the taxpayer. 
So the question arises: In an economic downturn, when state funding is scarce and legislatures are on the lookout for even the smallest of budget cuts, could smarter criminal justice decisions bring better results with a smaller price tag? 
A new report out today from NYU's Institute for Policy Integrity encourages policymakers to apply an economic analysis to criminal justice policy.  And such an analysis, the report says, would reach this conclusion: "Public safety can be prioritized and even improved at a lower cost than traditional incarceration, using techniques like behavioral therapy for young offenders, intensive supervision, or a new iteration of a drug court."
The Nieman Watchdog Project asked the Institute for Policy Integrity what questions reporters should be asking policymakers about criminal justice decisions going forward. Their suggestions:
Q. Has an independent appraisal of costs to taxpayers been conducted?
Q. If so, have all of the direct and indirect benefits -- to victims, to offenders, to offenders' families, and to society writ large -- been considered?
The policy that results in lower recidivism rates will often be the one with the greatest benefit to society. Reporters should ask:
Q. Which policy will reduce recidivism rates most?
Q. Have the all the benefits of having fewer repeat offenders been considered?
These benefits will include the cost-savings of having fewer people victimized, fewer prosecutions, fewer inmates. But there's also the benefits of increased lifetime earnings and improved quality of life for victims, offenders, and offenders' families.

Monday, October 17, 2011

This is your police department on drugs

This week in my drug policy class I am teaching about methods used in the US drug war, including asset forfeiture.

This is horrible practice where your property is seized and charged. That's right, you are not charged, your property is. And the government only has to prove by a preponderance of the evidence (not beyond a reasonable doubt) that the property was somehow involved in the illicit drug business. If this is shown in court, you lose your property even if never charged with a crime.

And thus, police departments are driving around in police cars that say things like: "This car seized from a drug dealer" (which raises the possibility that police departments in some areas are coming to rely on funds from illicit drugs).

Here is part of an article from NPR:


In Kleberg County, where Kingsville is the county seat, Sheriff Ed Mata drives a gleaming new police-package Ford Expedition bought with drug funds. This year, he went to his commissioners to ask for more new vehicles.

"They said, 'Well, there ain't no money, use your assets,' " he says. He says his office needs the money "to continue to operate on the magnitude we need."

Another county agency, the Kingsville Specialized Crimes and Narcotics Task Force, survives solely on seized cash. Said one neighboring lawman, "They eat what they kill." A review by NPR shows at least three other Texas task forces that also are funded exclusively by confiscated drug assets.


This is just anecdotal evidence. And thus, no strong conclusions can be drawn from it.

But we learn about more and more abusive cases every year, where people are never charged with anything but still lose their property, where people get killed in their homes by police for resisting and yet no evidence of any drug business is found, and on and on. Drug funds are being used even for nice dinners. Thus, some call it a racket.

Government agencies now derive more than $1 billion per year in proceeds from asset forfeiture; a large portion of this is due to illicit drugs.

This raises an interesting question:

If police are relying on illicit drugs to fund their policing operations, do they really want to get rid of drugs entirely?

Friday, October 14, 2011

News coverage of the OCCUPY movement

This is a fascinating topic, and yes, it has criminal justice implications.

People around the country and angry, frutstrated, and they are taking to the streets and literally occupying public spaces until something is done about it.

And the news has been largely dismissive, especially Fox News who has been downright mean to protestors (in spite of literally sponsoring Tea Party rallies).

Here is one good and brief discussion of why people should be out there. And it is from FORBES!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

From alcohol prohibition to marijuana prohibition

"Marijuana Prohibition's Legal Insanity Continues."

So says Chris Weigant over at Huffington Post.

Watching the PBS series, Prohibition, inevitably brought up thoughts in me of our nation's current prohibition of marijuana. Same with Weigant.

It is astounding the parallels between alcohol prohibition, an utter failure, and marijuana prohibition, also an utter failure. Here is Weigant:

"Looking back at the era of alcohol Prohibition is like examining a society that went crazy for a decade, in more ways than one. Unfortunately, looking at the Obama administration's renewed vigor in denying the reality that one-third of the country has approved of medical use of marijuana is reminiscent of such a crazy period. This is not science. This is not medicine. This is not even admitting the legal doublethink which is required to classify a state attorney general -- trying to thread the needle of writing sane regulations (on a policy the federal government refuses to be sane about) -- with a major drug lord. That, right there, is insane. After all, even during Prohibition alcohol was available for medicinal uses."

Insane is a pretty good characterization of our national drug policy when it comes to marijuana.

So if there is anything disappointing about the recent PBS documentary about prohibition it is this: It did not even mention the parallels with marijuana or the relevance of prohibition for today. As noted by Weigant:

"... I truly wish Ken Burns had dedicated at least a paragraph at the end of Prohibition to point out the much-longer insanity of marijuana prohibition that doesn't just continue to this day, but is actually getting worse. The ultimate irony is that Barack Obama has admitted he used marijuana himself, back in the day. The question I keep hoping some intrepid reporter will ask him is: "Mister President, if you had been caught for your illegal drug use and prosecuted the same way your own Justice Department is now trying to prosecute medical marijuana providers, how would your life have turned out differently? If you had been forced to 'pay for your crime' back then, do you think it would have improved your life, or changed it radically for the worse?" And a followup question, as well: "Then how can you justify what [Attorney General] Eric Holder is currently doing? [vigorously enforcing federal marijuana control policy even when it conflicts with local and state law]""

Heard that.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Should Minor Offenders Be Subject To Strip Searches?

Riding into work today I heard this fabulous story on NPR.

And the good news is that NPR and the story are available online.

Here is the story:

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a case testing whether prison guards may constitutionally strip-search even minor traffic offenders when they are arrested and taken to jail.
For decades, most courts did not allow such blanket strip searches, but in recent years, the pendulum has swung the other way.

Wednesday's test case began on a New Jersey highway in March 2005. Albert Florence, his wife and his little boy were in a celebratory mood as they motored their way to the home of Albert's parents. The couple had just bought a new house and had been looking at new furniture at the design center. April was at the wheel, and Albert noticed that their BMW was being followed by a state trooper.

April assured her husband that she wasn't speeding, but the trooper soon signaled them to pull over. After checking April's license, the trooper asked who owned the car, and upon learning that her husband, sitting next to her, was the owner, the trooper ordered Albert out of the car, handcuffed him and arrested him on an outstanding warrant for failure to pay a fine.

Albert Florence, a finance director at a car dealership, had no criminal record. He had just one brush with the law, years earlier, stemming from his leaving the scene of a traffic stop. He had been fined $1,500, and when he fell behind in his payments, a judge issued a warrant for his arrest, prompting Florence to pay the amount due in full.

The problem was that the warrant had never been purged from the computer system.

Florence, however, could prove he had paid the fine. He kept the document showing he had paid in his car, and he showed the paperwork, complete with a state seal, to the state trooper. The officer apologized but said he still had to arrest him.

The Constitution requires a suspect to be promptly arraigned and, in most cases, released, on bond if necessary. However, in Florence's case, despite the best efforts of his wife, he did not get a hearing and remained in jail for a full week.

At the Burlington Country jail where he was first taken, he was told to shower and was inspected by a guard.

The guard "was at about arm's distance," Florence recalls, "and he instructed me to turn around, squat, cough, lift up my genitals, and then put on the orange jumpsuit."

Florence says he pleaded with jail authorities to check with Essex County, where the warrant originated, and he kept waiting for his hearing. But it didn't happen. Meanwhile, his anxiety was growing. By the fourth day, he says, he was "pretty messed up" and scared about not being there for his wife, who was seven months pregnant with a condition that put her at risk of a premature birth.

After five days, he was transferred to Essex County, where he expected that everything would be straightened out.

Instead, Florence found "the same hell all over again."

He was not only strip-searched, but unlike in Burlington County, where he was by himself, Florence was now mixed in with other criminals.

"I'm with a whole bunch of murderers and carjackers and rapists and all walks of life that I wouldn't wish upon anybody, " Florence says.

Finally, a week after his arrest, and after his wife got a lawyer, he was released. He sued both counties for failing to give him a hearing and for what he contends were illegal strip searches. The failure to provide a prompt hearing is still pending before the lower courts. The strip search is before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

In Washington, D.C., a woman arrested for eating a sandwich on the subway was strip-searched in front of male guards.

Florence contends that strip-searching a person who is arrested for "a noncriminal offense" violates the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches.

His lawyer, Susan Chana Lask, notes that Florence was not arrested for a knife fight or a drug violation.

"He was pulled off the street for a traffic stop," Lask says. "There was no reason to strip-search Albert Florence unless they thought he was carrying contraband, but they never made that case."

Indeed, the state of New Jersey has a policy against strip searches without suspicion. And Lask, in her brief, calls the number of trivial offenses for which individuals are regularly arrested and would be subject to indiscriminate strip searches "astonishing." Such jailable offenses include car equipment violations, such as driving with a noisy muffler, parking violations, even riding a bike without a bell. In Washington, D.C., a woman arrested for eating a sandwich on the subway was strip-searched in front of male guards.

The New Jersey counties where Florence was imprisoned, however, have an entirely different perspective. Representing them, lawyer Carter Phillips will tell the Supreme Court that cases like Florence's are both rare and better than the alternative. Phillips notes that Essex County includes Newark, where thousands of prisoners are processed. To protect prisoners and guards alike, he argues, "it is simply the safer approach to say, if for whatever reason the system has seen fit to put you in a jail ... you have to go through the strip-search process."

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1979 ruled that prison officials may, in the name of security, conduct strip searches of prisoners who have planned contact visits with outsiders. The court said such searches are reasonable in order to prevent weapons, drugs and other contraband from being brought into the prison. Until quite recently, however, the lower courts have not permitted automatic jail-admission strip searches for those charged with minor offenses and not yet convicted. In the past decade, that trend has started to reverse. And now that question is squarely before the Supreme Court.


This is a criminal justice policy story. Is this policy correct? It is logical? It is Constitutional?

Click on this link to hear the story.

And the story is here:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Why the death penalty is hatled in North Carolina

From The Herald-Sun

N.C. high court rules with state on death penalty
10.07.11 - 08:48 pm

Associated Press

RALEIGH — A North Carolina Supreme Court ruling on Friday that affirms how the state approved new lethal injection procedures is unlikely to change the current de facto moratorium on capital punishment here, a lawyer in the case said.

"There are a lot of other lethal injection lawsuits that are outstanding right now," said David Weiss of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation. "We're in a position right now where we're not even thinking about resuming executions because we've got so many issues to deal with."

Noelle Talley, spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said lawyers there are still reviewing the court's decision, but that even with Friday's ruling there are still legal challenges involving the death penalty both in Wake County and federal court.

The case before the justices was a largely technical matter concerning the 2007 approval by the Council of State of new lethal injection guidelines developed by the Department of Correction. Lawyers for five death row inmates argued that the council failed to follow requirements for approving new agency policies as set forth by a state law called the Administrative Procedures Act.

But the Supreme Court unanimously decided that because the correction department is explicitly exempt from the ADA, the council wasn't under any obligation to follow the law's procedures for new policies in this case.

The Council of State consists of North Carolina's 10 holders of statewide elected office.

A series of legal challenges, new legislation and law enforcement controversies have effectively held up executions in North Carolina since Aug. 18, 2006, when Samuel R. Flippen was put to death for the murder of his 2-year-old stepdaughter.

An audit last year found serious problems with work done by the state blood analysis crime lab, and the Racial Justice Act has allowed death row inmates to appeal their sentences by citing statistical evidence to argue that race may have distorted the process.

For those reasons, Weiss believes the court's ruling, while a setback to death penalty opponents, is unlikely to mean executions will swiftly resume.

"There's no reason to think about the resumption of executions right now," he said.


Oh, yeah, and then there is this.

I find it appalling that the state's highest Court would make the ruling that it did, although nothing surprises me anymore.

It is also appalling that the Council of State makes such decisions in the first place. After all, these are not criminal justice experts nor do they know anything about the death penalty. They are simple the heads of state agencies dealing with issues like transportation and education.

The death penalty in North Carolina is undeniably broken and also not fixable. We can keep playing these games with it or we can finally do what is right and come up with a different solution that protect society from murderers and provides justice for society and crime victims.

In case you think we need the death penalty for the above goals, consider the reality that murder is down in North Carolina even after we've stopped killing murderers.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Woman kills husband by shooting at him 11 times with 2 guns ...

... is acquitted of murder.

"Battered-woman defense."

Her husband was abusive.

Oh, and he was a cop.

I've already seen this on Law & Order: SVU, so don't expect them to do it again, even though the case was in New York.

The evidence?

Mr. Sheehan had been shaving before he was killed; his body was found on the bathroom floor, the faucet still running.

Ms. Sheehan testified that the couple had a fierce argument the day before, and she had decided to leave, carrying one of her husband’s guns for protection. When her husband saw her, she said, he reached for a gun on the bathroom vanity and aimed it at her.

Thus, she shot him. Eleven times. With two guns.

And yet, she was acquitted of murder.

Instead, the jury found her guilty of possessing the second weapon, since she had shot her husband even after he no longer posed a danger.

Um, yeah, see, so that is the thing. If he no longer posed a danger, then it was no longer self-defense.

I really hate to be on this side of the issue, because I believe the wife was battered. At what point does that give you the right to shoot someone eleven times? With two guns?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Drug abusers getting drugs paid for by taxpayers

Every once in a while a story comes along that just warms your heart.

From the USA TODAY:

"Drug abusers are exploiting Medicare prescription's benefit to score large quantities of painkillers, and taxpayers have to foot most of the bill, congressional investigators say in a report.

"About 170,000 Medicare recipients received prescriptions from multiple doctors for 14 frequently abused medications in 2008, the Government Accountability Office found in an investigation for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"A Medicare recipient in Georgia got prescriptions for 3,655 oxycodone pills — more than a four-year supply of the painkiller — from 58 different prescribers. Another, in California, got prescriptions for a nearly five-year supply of fentanyl patches and pills from 21 different prescribers. Fentanyl is a powerful narcotic used to treat relentless cancer pain.

"The cost of the questionable prescriptions amounted to $148 million in 2008. Overall, taxpayers pay three-fourths of the cost of the Medicare prescription drug program, which covers some 28 million seniors and disabled people for about $55 billion a year."

What I am curious about is where is the context? In the book it is shown that the media often provide no context about the stories they run.
So, for example, what portion is $148 million of the total US budget? In other words, is this a big problem, small problem?

Are there other, even larger problems that are not getting our attention? And do some of them deal with drugs? (hint: the answers are yes on both counts)

Further, where is the discussion about the (in)efficacy of US drug control policy? The US government has programs in place to deal with the problem of doctor shopping--e.g., Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs).

Does this story prove that they do not work? If so, what are the implications for US drug control policy?

These questions are often left unanswered by the mainstream media.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Why is this man still talking? (and his daughter is qualified because??)...

Dick Cheney is still talking.


Discussing the recent killing of an American citizen by predator drone strike in Yemen (without trial), Cheney said: "I think it was a very good strike. I think it was justified." Then he added: "I'm waiting for the administration to go back and correct something they said two years ago when they criticized us for 'overreacting' to the events of 9/11."

The Obama administration has "clearly ... moved in the direction of taking robust action when they feel it is justified," Cheney said.

Cheney's daughter, Liz Cheney, went a step further, saying Obama "in effect said that we had walked away from (America's) ideals."

"I think he did tremendous damage," Liz Cheney said. "I think he slandered the nation and I think he owes an apology to the American people."

And Liz Cheney is qualified to make such a statement because???????

When asked by Crowley if Dick Cheney also wants an apology, the former vice president replied, "Well, I would. I think that would be not for me, but I think for the Bush administration."

Republican critics of the administration claim it is hypocritical for Obama to approve the killing of Americans without due process while criticizing Bush officials for signing off on the use of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding.

The use of such techniques has been banned by Obama.

In other criminal justice news, some of the Supreme Court's docket has become known. From CNN:

"Think segregation. Think abortion. And now the latest divisive debate over the role of government: health care reform.

"Monumental. Unprecedented. Life-changing. For a town that oozes hyperbole, the stakes in an almost certain election-year Supreme Court review of health care cannot be overstated."