The latest instalment in our ongoing monthly feature. 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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….
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….
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.
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.
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.
Wikipedia describes what happened in between the Before and the After as the
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.
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.
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.
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’).
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 likewar on drugs,war on organized crime,andwar 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.
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?
Winter Soldier: Just Another Tuesday. From Ryan Endicott, formerly a United States government Marine stationed in Iraq.
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
All Bizarro News that am unfit to print. In which a argument against an imaginary, Bizarro World version individualism is set to fight with a completely imaginary Bizarro GOP which somehow became
the party of untrammeled freedom and maximum individual choice(?!). For more on an earlier installment in David Brooks’s concerted efforts to liberate the Republican Party from moral principles that it never held, cf. GT 2009-01-28: How to be social while staying civilized
On intersections, boundaries, and fortifications. bfp, flip flopping joy (2009-05-01): northern territory, sexual activity, teens and police state. In which Ozzie territorial governments set out to create a territorial sex-Stasi to coerce reports of any and all sexual contact by Aboriginal teenagers. Including consensual sex or fooling-around between one teenager and another. Quote:
This sort of nation/state targeted monitoring of the sexuality of teens/young people is something most people of color are vividly aware of. When you through in queerness, disability, and nationality (among others), and community expectations, things for especially teen girls of color get even worse. How do we learn, engage in, and trust ourselves to build a healthy fabulous sexuality when from the time we reach reproductive age, the nation/state literally owns the first and final say as to what happens to our bodies? How do we learn to say
yeswhen the nation/state insists on doing it for us?
We need democratic governments instead of private protection agencies to ensure that political decision-making remain transparent and decision-makers are held accountable to the people: Molly Ball, Las Vegas Review-Journal (2009-05-10): SECRET GOVERNMENT: Lawmakers keep public out as session winds down with most important decisions looming
On planes as prisons and terrorizing as
security: Jessica Bautista & Kitty Caparella, Philadelphia Daily News (2009-05-12): Blind interpreter detained at Philly airport says he has nightmares from arrest (On which, cf. also GT 2008-05-07: Airport security.)
On legal lynching, part 2. For part 1, see last week, where I said this:
When Anarchists propose that all the functions currently controlled by the authoritarian State, including the judgment of cases involving disputes or violent crimes, we are inevitably told that without a State-controlled, hierarchical system of courts, you’d have nothing more than the justice of the lynch mob. This is actually a classic example of statist inversion: by focusing on the dangers that informal and irregular efforts at seeking justice will lead to a disregard for objectivity or evidence, the statist completely blanks out the ways in which formalization and enforced hierarchy oblige government courts to disregard evidence themselves in the name of formal procedures, and to elevate authority above objectivity, by standing on ceremony or respect for turf at the expense of substantive justice. If the state’s plans to murder Troy Anthony Davis are not an example of a slow-motion lynching, what is?To which we will add, this week: Radley Balko, The Agitator (2009-05-18): Prosecutors Blocking Access to DNA Testing In which government prosecutors make active efforts to block access to DNA tests that could potentially exonerate the innocent, all in the name of
you-had-your-chancejurisdictional turf wars and statist legal
The police are here to keep us safe. By driving their cruisers at 109 MPH in a 45 zone, on a major commercial thoroughfare, late at night, with no sirens and no flashing lights. Then, when this predictably leads to a fatal crash that kills one of the cops, by lying about it to the media in order to make your dead buddy look like more of a hero, and by arresting the poor innocent man that the cop slammed into at 90 MPH for his allegedly reckless driving.
The police are here to keep us safe, part 2. Radley Balko, Hit & Run (2009-05-18): Cops Gone Wild, in which cops from around the country celebrate National Police Week in D.C. with wine, weapons, and reckless driving.
The police are here to keep us safe, part 3. Commentary from Center for a Stateless Society news analyst Tom Knapp (2009-05-18): To Serve and Protect (Themselves)
Name your own salary. Las Vegas Sun (2009-05-16): City, county may lose say in police pay negotiations. Las Vegas Metro is currently working to get a new state law passed which would allow Vegas cops to get a salary set unilaterally by their own boss cop, and then send the bill, whatever it may be, to folks who had absolutely no say whatsoever in the negotiations.
The Gangsters in Blue come to Philly. Radley Balko, The Agitator (2009-05-01): Update on Bodega Raids by Rogue Philly Narcotics Unit Balko asks, apparently non-rhetorically,
Why did no one in the department ask why anCome on, really? The reason is that the State as such is essentially irresponsible, and this kind of thing is Standard Operating Procedure for
elitenarcotics unit was wasting its time busting immigrant shop owners with no criminal record for selling bags instead of pursuing actual drug distributors?
elitenarc squads. There’s a lot here to justify outrage, but very little to justify surprise.
On terror-famines for the international narco-crats. Jacob Sullum, Hit & Run (2009-04-30): U.S. Intensifies Campaign to Wipe Out Afghan Economy. Cf. GT 2004-11-20: The tall poppies and GT 2007-01-13: The tall poppies, part 2.
Austro-Athenian Virtue Ethics versus Moral Fictionalism. Neverfox, Instead of a Blog (2009-05-17): Pulp Non-Fiction
How political control of schools produces terrible textbooks. Tamim Ansary, Edutopia (November 2004): A Textbook Example of What’s Wrong with Education. (Via B.K. Marcus, lowercase liberty (2009-05-18): What’s wrong with textbooks?)
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.
tax-and-regulatereformism, and in praise of a thriving black market economy: Crispin Sartwell, eye of the storm 2009-05-18
Law among the pirates. Jesse Walker, Hit & Run (2009-05-19): To Live Outside the Law You Must Be Honest
Package-dealing portable double-key encryption for web browsing and web mail: Chris Acheson (2009-05-05): Firefox Portable + GnuPG + FireGPG = CryptoFox. (Via @H+ [2009-05-20], via Human Iterations 2009-05-21.)
On freeing the MHD3 and all political prisoners. By way of follow-up to the recent report on the bullshit arrest and jailing of the Motorhome Diaries crew, see Motorhome Diaries (2009-05-15): Jones County Sheriff's Department Falsely Arrests MHD Crew, which recounts the full timeline of their arrest, jailing, and release. See also Motorhome Diaries (2009-05-17): Thanks for springing the MHD3 from Jones County (with Allison Gibbs), Motorhome Diaries (2009-05-20): The "Grumbling Old Fart" Addresses Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge's Statements, Motorhome Diaries (2009-05-20): MHD on Freedom Watch
Don’t vote. Secede and repudiate. Stewart Browne, Strike the Root (2009-05-18): A New Strategy For Liberty – Part 2: Secession in Three Easy Steps
pissed-off, man-hating, dykes with an excess of body hairlike it’s supposed to be a bad thing… Kevin Carson @ Mutualist Blog (2009-05-21): An Open Letter to Keith Preston, Mike Gogulski @ nostate.com (2009-05-21): Taking sides on the right to be a complete jackass, Darian Worden (2009-05-21): Perverts Versus Preston, and Brad Spangler (2009-05-22): Bigotry and Revolution
Boston Anarchist Reading Group. Jake, Anarkismo.net (2009-05-17): Anarchist Reading Group at the Boston Anarchist Picnic! June 6th, 2009
Iconoclasta for Colombian anarquistas: Revista Iconoclasta – Anarcol, Anarkismo.net (2009-05-15): New anarchist periodical in Bogota – Iconoclasta. More information online at http://prensaiconoclasta.entodaspartes.net/.
New subscriptions. Anarchy in the Garden