Posts tagged D.C.

Change You Can Believe In (Vol. III, No. 4, April 2011)

The latest instalment in our ongoing monthly feature.[1] You may be surprised to find that this month I am going to pass over the new fucking war that the Peace President has been kinetically pursuing against yet another Muslim country. Too obvious. Instead, we have….

Executive power

In which Obama decides he’s in favor of the unitary theory of the executive — in order to save his Czars, natch.

There is no ambiguity in that vow: none at all. He explicitly promised not to use signing statements to nullify Congressional statutes he thought were invalid. Citing his credentials as a Constitutional Law professor, Obama explained that “Congress’ job is to pass legislation,” and when that happens, a President has only two options: “the President can veto it or sign it.” In contrast to Bush — who, Obama said, “has been saying ‘I can change what Congress passed by attaching a statement saying I don’t agree with this part, I’m going to choose to interpret it this way or that way’” — Obama said he, by contrast, believes “that’s not part of [the President’s] power.” He punctuated his answer as follows: “we’re not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end run around Congress.” It just doesn’t get any clearer than that.

But on Friday, Obama did exactly that which he vowed in that answer he would never do. When signing the budget bill into law, he attached a signing statement objecting to some provisions as an encroachment on executive power but still vowing to obey them (such as restrictions on transferring Guantanamo detainees), but then explicitly stated that he would ignore the provision of this new law that de-funds his so-called “czars” (which are really little more than glorified presidential advisers). Declaring that the Executive has the unfettered “authority to supervise and oversee the executive branch” — i.e., asserting another critical aspect of the “unitary theory of the Executive” — Obama declared that “the executive branch will construe [the de-funding provision] not to abrogate these Presidential prerogatives.” In other words, we’re going to ignore that mandate because we believe it’s unconstitutional: he’s going to use funds for exactly the purpose that Congress, in a bill he signed into law, flatly prohibited.

— Glenn Greenwald, Obama v. Obama on signing statements, in Salon.com, April 17, 2011.

Drug warfare

Hey, remember back when Obama stopped the Drug Enforcement Agency from raiding medical marijuana dispenaries in states that have legalized medical marijuana?

Here’s how Obama’s DEA stopped raiding medical marijuana dispensaries that this month in Spokane:

DEA agents raided at least four dispensaries around Spokane…. On Thursday evening Charles Wright said that “THC will be open and in full operation tomorrow.” His message less than a day later was much different.

“Effective immediately, THC Pharmacy is shutting down immediately and I recommend all pharmacies in Washington State follow suit,” he said.

DEA agents raided THC Pharmacy Thursday, confiscating all the marijuana and cash. But it wasn’t the raid that scared Wright into closing. He said his it was a conversation he said his attorney had with US Attorney Michael Ormsby Friday morning.

“I am being threatened with 20 years to life and I have no further political power to do anything. If I open the doors today they will put me in prison tomorrow,” he said.

… Charles Wright said that US Attorney Michael Ormsby has said that federal raids will continue until all dispensaries are in compliance with federal law, which states it is illegal to possess or sell marijuana.

Rob Kauder, Feds Continuing Crackdown On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, at KXLY.com (29 April 2011)

Here’s how they stopped it in Rhode Island:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The top federal prosecutor in Rhode Island has warned Gov. Lincoln Chafee that the state’s plan to license medical marijuana dispensaries violates federal law.

U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha says in a letter delivered to Chafee on Friday that federal prosecutors have the right to investigate and prosecute those who grow and distribute marijuana, even if such activities are allowed by state law.

— Associated Press, Federal Prosecutor Warns RI About Medical Pot, at abc6.com (2011-04-30)

Here’s how they stopped it in San Marcos, California:

At least one medical marijuana dispensary in San Marcos was raided by law enforcement agents Thursday, authorities confirmed, and the homes of suspected medical marijuana providers in North County were hit, as well.

Authorities raided the Club One Collective, a medical marijuana dispensary at 1232 Los Vallecitos Blvd., a business park just north of Highway 78, said San Diego County sheriff’s Capt. Mike Barnett.

“It was raided today along with several other locations throughout North County and Riverside County,” said. “Evidence was seized and money was seized.”

… Also, residences in Vista, Oceanside and Temecula were raided Thursday by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the San Diego Narcotic Task Force…. The homes hit by the raids were the residences of medical marijuana patients, said Eugene Davidovich, the director of the San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access.

— Teri Figueroa, SAN MARCOS: Authorities raid medical marijuana collective, in the North County Times (28 April 2011)

Here’s how they stopped it in Metro Detroit:

Drug agents executed search warrants at two medical marijuana facilities in Oakland County on Tuesday, but it was unclear whether it signaled a new federal crackdown against the state’s fledgling industry.

The raids were part of a wide-ranging operation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which dispatched agents in eight coordinated raids of homes and businesses in Detroit, Novi, Commerce Township, Walled Lake and Romulus.

… [T]he raids were focused in Oakland County, ground zero in the battle between medical marijuana clinics and law enforcement officers.

A DEA official confirmed that agents executed search warrants at Casab’s home in Commerce Township and his Caregivers of America marijuana facility on 12 Mile in Novi.

The DEA raided another Caregivers facility on Decker Road in Walled Lake. The building is owned by 1020 Decker LLC, whose registered agent is lawyer Barry A. Steinway of Bingham Farms, state records indicate.

Walled Lake issued a medical marijuana dispensary license to 1020 Decker LLC on Aug. 31, 2010, under terms of a local ordinance.

“The feds say it’s illegal, but the city issued them a license,” Abel said.

— Robert Snell and Mike Martindale, DEA raids Oakland Co. medical marijuana centers, in the Detroit News (13 April 2011)

It’s been two and a half years, but I’m sure that sometime real soon now our Progressive President is going to get his Drug Enforcement Agency to halt those raids. They probably just haven’t gotten around to it yet, because they’ve been so very busy in the past couple months.

War on the World

Finally, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention one of our Progressive Peace President’s real triumphs. During the long, dark night of the Bush administration, the United States government became notorious for its use of torture, its disregard for due process, and its endless, arbitrary detentions in legal black-holes like Guantanamo Bay, all in the name of a ever-shifting, never-ending War on Terror. Obama promised that he would rectify that. Nowadays, thanks to Obama, they only promise to hold people in Guantanamo forever without a trial after they try out a few options and can’t figure out any kangaroo court where it would be politically expedient to send them. Under the Bush administration, the CIA became notorious as one of the leading practitioners of indefinite detention and interrogation by torture, in black-hole secret prisons where prisoners — many of them innocent victims of mass sweeps and round-ups — had no legal recourse at all. The Obama administration has put an end to all that. Now:

“The CIA is out of the detention and interrogation business,” said a U.S. official who is familiar with intelligence operations but was not authorized to speak publicly.

— Ken Dilanian, CIA has slashed its terrorism interrogation role, in the Los Angeles Times (10 April 2011)

Huzzah and kudos. Now, instead of indefinitely detaining people without trial and torturing them for years, the CIA just kills them instead:

Under Obama, the CIA has killed more people than it has captured, mainly through drone missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. At the same time, it has stopped trying to detain or interrogate suspects caught abroad….

— Ken Dilanian, CIA has slashed its terrorism interrogation role, in the Los Angeles Times (10 April 2011)

In summary executions like this one:

WASHINGTON — C.I.A. drones fired two missiles at militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas on Wednesday…. The strikes drew a sharp rebuke from a Pakistani government that is increasingly public in its criticism of the C.I.A.’s covert role in its country.

… The drone attack was widely interpreted by Pakistan’s main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, as a deliberate effort by Washington to embarrass the country. “If the message was that business will continue as usual, it was a crude way of sending it,” a senior Pakistani intelligence official said.

… The targets of the attack were militants commanded by Maulvi Nazir, a Taliban leader from South Waziristan…. The drones struck a double-cabin pickup truck and a motorcycle as they returned from Afghanistan into Pakistan, a Pakistani military official said. Seven fighters were killed and six others were wounded in the attack just south of the village of Angor Adda on the border between the two countries.

Pakistani officials have grown more alarmed at the frequency of the drone attacks — 117 last year, more than all previous years combined — and the fact that the targets are now largely low-level fighters and junior commanders, not top operatives. Wednesday’s strikes bring this year’s number of attacks to 20….

— Eric Schmitt, New C.I.A. Drone Attack Draws Rebuke From Pakistan, in the New York Times (13 April 2011)

Plus ca change, mes amis. But President Bush must be careful to cover his political bases; I hear that he is planning to run for a fourth term next year.

  1. [1] Here’s January 2011; here’s February 2011; here’s March 2011.

Housing and Urban Development

Here’s a view of the Southwest neighborhood in Washington, D.C., in 1949, before government planners came along to Develop it. The buildings are mostly small rowhouses, some of them dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. A lot of the people living there were poor; most of them black folks or European immigrants. There were bustling commercial districts, grocery stores, a lot of little shops, and a movie theater.

It's an aerial view photo of a neighborhood filled with little rows of houses and shops, lots of green space, small roads criss-crossing.

Before.

Here’s a view of the Southwest neighborhood in 1963, after it got Urban Renewed. Every square inch on this map was claimed under eminent domain; this is what the award-winning urban planners and developers did with it.

It's an aerial-view photo of the same neighborhood. Almost every building has been leveled and a giant paved freeway is running through the vacant lots and the handful of buildings.

After.

Wikipedia describes what happened in between the Before and the After as the 1950s rebuilding.

Here’s another photo from 1979, when the highway construction was complete and the government had finished some brutalist office and residential buildings, new office complexes for HUD and the EPA, and some government housing projects. Some of these developments were widely praised; some even won an award.

Thank goodness government is around to develop these neighborhoods for us. Just think of all the blight and unlivable neighborhoods we’d have if they just left it up to the people who live and work in a neighborhood to determine the conditions under which they want to live and work.

(Thanks to BeyondDC.com 2011-01-10.)

See also:

How cops see themselves (#2). National Police Memorial Week and El Monte, California.

Continuing in the vein of GT 2009-05-07: Occupying forces, GT 2009-03-28: It doesn’t take much imagination, and GT 2008-09-25: How cops see themselves, see also this all-too-earnest article by Robert O’Brien, in POLICE: The Law Enforcement Magazine (2009-05-13): National Police Memorial Week: Never Forget, written in honor of Washington, D.C.’s annual drunken police riot, in which we are informed, along the way, that Law enforcement deaths could easily weaken our profession’s resolve [sic] to protect and serve. However, the exact opposite is true. Instead of weakening us, our thin blue line strengthens into a solid steel band of brothers. We may bend, but we will never break.

I’m not sure how many solid steel bands of brothers bend without breaking. However, the important upshot of this purple-blue prose is this:

As Lt. Dave Grossman says, you are society’s sheepdogs, and you willingly and selflessly protect your flock—with your lives if necessary.

— Robert O’Brien, POLICE: The Law Enforcement Magazine (2009-05-13): National Police Memorial Week: Never Forget

Cops believe that they are like big dogs corralling a flock of sheep (for their protection). Guess who’s the sheep?

And then what follows:

You are our nation’s domestic warriors and heroes. And I thank you for your continuing dedication and service.

— Robert O’Brien, in POLICE: The Law Enforcement Magazine (2009-05-13): National Police Memorial Week: Never Forget

Meanwhile, in Kicking Up a Stink Over California Incident (the incident was a cop kicking a prone man in the head after he had already surrendered, and then high-fiving his buddy-cop after; hence the cutesy title), Dean Scoville is outraged by the outrage, and openly longs for the good old days of you can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride:

There is one thing the cop is unquestionably guilty of: Working in the wrong era.

There was a time when post pursuit ass-kickings were obligatory. Cops knew it, suspects knew it, and there are enough old timers on both sides of the fence that will verify the assertion when I say that what this officer did was NOTHING compared to what would have happened in another place and time. This might account for why back in the day punks thought twice before running. Nowadays, they’ll flip off a cop and run for the hell of it with little fear of reprisal (unless, perhaps, it’s El Monte PD doin’ the pursuin’).

— Dean Scoville, POLICE: The Law Enforcement Magazine (2009-05-15): Kicking Up a Stink Over California Incident

Scoville is disgusted by simplistic arguments that all life—however vile, wicked, or inconsequential it might actually be—is valuable. He believes that it’s impractical for them to be expected not to inflict extrajudicial punitive rage-beat-downs on Suspect Individuals:

… I am forced to ask if we’re being practical.

Perhaps matters of practicality shouldn’t even be considered in a profession that embraces terms like war on drugs, war on organized crime, and war on gangs, but is not allowed the means to fight them as such. These are our domestic Vietnams. They are wars we could win, if only we could really fight them.

— Dean Scoville, POLICE: The Law Enforcement Magazine (2009-05-15): Kicking Up a Stink Over California Incident

Cops believe that they are domestic warriors, a class separate from mere civilians like you and your neighbors. They are fighting a battle in your hometown’s streets, as part of an ongoing occupation of hostile territory. They believe that they are in the midst of several Wars, wars which are like the United States government’s occupation and counter-insurgency campaign against South Vietnam, and that they need to be freed from restraints on the tactics that they can use in order to really fight like a military force engaged in total war. (Complete, no doubt, with the usual free-fire zones and strategic hamlets.)

Who gives a damn about Posse Comitatus, or about whether or not the Army patrols American cities, when the local police forces already patrolling them are already indistinguishable from an the Army in self-conception, attitude, tactics, arsenal, personnel, and just about everything else except the cut of the uniform?

Friday Lazy Linking

  • Winter Soldier: Just Another Tuesday. From Ryan Endicott, formerly a United States government Marine stationed in Iraq.

    Via Clay Claibourne, L.A. I.M.C. (2009-05-13): Winter Soldier Southwest on YouTube #1

  • The regulatory State versus freed markets and the human future: A quote from Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, via B.K. Marcus at Mises Economics Blog:

    To expect the government to prevent such fraud from ever occurring would be like wanting it to provide cushions for all the children who might fall. To assume it to be possible to prevent successfully, by regulation, all possible malpractices of this kind, is to sacrifice to a chimerical perfection the whole progress of industry; it is to restrict the imagination of artificers to the narrow limits of the familiar; it is to forbid them all new experiments; it is to renounce even the hope of competing with the foreigners in the making of the new products which they invent daily, since, as they do not conform to our regulations, our workmen cannot imitate these articles without first having obtained permission from the government, that is to say, often after the foreign factories, having profited by the first eagerness of the consumer for this novelty, have already replaced it with something else. … Thus, with obvious injustice, commerce, and consequently the nation, are charged with a heavy burden to save a few idle people the trouble of instructing themselves or of making enquiries to avoid being cheated. To suppose all consumers to be dupes, and all merchants and manufacturers to be cheats, has the effect of authorizing them to be so, and of degrading all the working members of the community.

    — Turgot, Éloge de Gournay (1759), translated by P.D. Groenewegen

Outrage

Think.

Left-Libertarianism

  • On dialectical jujitsu: Roderick Long, Austro-Athenian Empire (2009-05-19): How to annoy a conservative

  • Ownership failures, not market failures Chris Dillow, Stumbling and Mumbling (2009-05-01): Markets, the poor & the left. Dillow makes two really important distinctions: one of them the familiar left-libertarian distinction between freed markets, on the one hand, and actually-existing corporate capitalism, on the other; the other a less familiar, but very important, distinction between market processes and patterns of ownership. Quote: In many ways, what look like ways in which markets fail the poor are in fact merely ways in which a lack of assets fail the poor. Exactly; and the many cases where there are not really market failures, but rather ownership failures, have everything to do with feudal, mercantile, neoliberal, and other politically-driven seizures and reallocations of poor people’s land, livelihoods, and possessions — and nothing to do with genuine market exchange.

Counter-Economics

Movement

Communications

December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

December 17th, 2008 is the 6th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

From GT 2005-12-17: December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

The commemoration began from the Sex Workers’ Outreach Project’s memorial and vigil for the victims of the Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer. Since then its purpose has expanded to a memorial for, and protest against, all forms of violence against women in prostitution and elsewhere in the sex industry.

I’m opposed to prostitution as an industry, on radical feminist grounds. I frankly have very deep and sharp differences with the organizers of the event, and I’m iffy at best towards the rhetorical framework of sex work as a whole, for reasons that are way beyond the point of this post). But so what? The day is an important one no matter what differences I may have with the organizers. Real steps towards ending the ongoing daily violence against women in prostitution and elsewhere in the sex industry are more important than that; here as much as anywhere — probably more than anywhere else — women’s lives are at stake.

You can read the rest at the original post. Any serious commitment to freedom for, and an end to violence against, women, means a serious commitment to ending violence against women who work in the sex industry. All of it. And that means any kind of violence, whether rape, or assault, or robbery, or abduction, or confinement against her will, or murder. No matter who does it. The one image of violence against sex workers that the malestream media never tires of repeating is the roving madman, cutting women down in the streets. But roving madmen come in a lot of shapes and sizes and uniforms. It may be a serial killer. But it may be a pimp. Or a trafficker. Or a john who imagines that paying for sex means he owns a woman’s body. Or, lest we forget, it may be a cop who believes that his badge, and his victim’s status in the system of patriarchal sex-class, makes absolutely any kind of sexual predation or physical torture a cop’s prerogative and nothing better than what the victim deserves. Or, lest we forget, a cop or a prosecutor or an immigration control freak, who calls the violence of an assault, restraint, and involuntary confinement an arrest or a sentence under the color of The Law. The Law has no more right than anyone else to hurt women or shove them around.

No matter who does it, this kind of violence — violence against peaceful people whose work, whatever you think of it, is honest work for willing customers, and is a way to get by, and doesn’t do one thing to threaten or violate the rights of a single living soul — violence against women who are made vulnerable by the violence and the killing indifference of the State — violence against women practiced in the name of enforcing patriarchal sex-class and misogynistic hatred for overtly sexual women — is wrong, absolutely wrong, and it has to stop. Immediately, completely, and forever.

In Las Vegas tonight, SWOP-Las Vegas is holding a vigil:

Reminder! TONIGHT in Las Vegas…

Join SWOP-Las Vegas to commemorate December 17th, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers!!

Las Vegas
Wed, December 17th

7:00 pm:

Meet at The Center: 953 E. Sahara Ave., Suite B-31, Las Vegas, NV, 89104. (In the Commercial Center) Phone at The Center: 702-733-9800

We will memorialize those sex workers who have lost their lives, and honor those who are missing. We’ll also make signs for the vigil.

8:15 pm:

We will hold a vigil in The Center parking lot with candles and then take our signs and red umbrellas to Sahara, where we will walk towards the strip. We will have masks for those who wish to use them. Afterward, we will return to Commercial Center to eat Thai food! Yum!

For more information, email us at info(at)swop-lv.org or call us toll-free at 1-866-525-7967, ext. 701.

In Washington, D.C., sex workers’ freedom and harm-reduction groups are coming together for a National March for Sex Workers’ Rights:

Advocates from across the nation will converge to mark the 6th Annual Internatinal Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (IDEVASW). We are calling for an end to the unjust laws, policing, shaming and stigma that oppress our communities and make us targets for violence. We will both honor the lives of sex workers whose lives have passed and celebrate our vital movement. SWOP-USA, Different Avenues, HIPS, SWANK, Desiree Alliance, and many allies in harm reduction and social justice welcome your support. Join us as we march on Washington to demand human rights!

I wish that I could attend an event tonight but I will be away, traveling. In commemoration of the day, in memory of the 48 women murdered by Ridgway, and in solidarity with the living, I have contributed $120.00 tonight to Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, a harm reduction group that provides counseling, safety resources, clothing, and food to prostitutes on the streets of the Washington, D.C. area, and $120.00 to Alternatives for Girls, whose Street Outreach Project provides similar services out of a van along the Cass Corridor in downtown Detroit. For other groups that provide similar resources and mutual aid, you can check out the links at the end of my original post.

May we all live free in the glory and joy of life that every human being deserves.

— Daisy Anarchy, I deserve to be safe

Remember. Mourn. Act.

See also: