Monday, August 17, 2009

Inspectors? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Inspectors in the War on Drugs!

Paul Krugman
Fareed Zakaria
Bruce Bartlett

"Where is the evidence that everything would be better if Republicans were in charge? " - Bruce Bartlett

"Too many whites are getting away with drug use...Too many whites are getting away with drug sales...The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them, and send them up the river, too." - Rush Limbaugh

Most surprising in the links above, is leading Conservative economist Bruce Bartlett, who has a long piece in the Daily Beast, and saying that: "Where is the evidence that everything would be better if Republicans were in charge? Does anyone believe the economy would be growing faster or that unemployment would be lower today if John McCain had won the election? I know of no economist who holds that view. The economy is like an ocean liner that turns only very slowly. The gross domestic product and the level of employment would be pretty much the same today under any conceivable set of policies enacted since Barack Obama’s inauguration.
Until conservatives once again hold Republicans to the same standard they hold Democrats, they will have no credibility and deserve no respect...

I think conservative anger is misplaced. To a large extent, Obama is only cleaning up messes created by Bush. This is not to say Obama hasn’t made mistakes himself, but even they can be blamed on Bush insofar as Bush’s incompetence led to the election of a Democrat. If he had done half as good a job as most Republicans have talked themselves into believing he did, McCain would have won easily.
Conservative protesters should remember that the recession, which led to so many of the policies they oppose, is almost entirely the result of Bush’s policies. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession began in December 2007—long before Obama was even nominated. And the previous recession ended in November 2001, so the current recession cannot be blamed on cyclical forces that Bush inherited."

The biggest shakeup came from Mexico this weekend, as 700 border inspectors were relieved of their jobs, hoping to curb the vast corruption problem in smuggling, as reported in al Jazeera: "Mexico has replaced all 700 of its customs inspectors in a bid to stamp out corruption and drug smuggling.

Sunday's shake-up also doubled the size of the country's customs inspection force, with more than 1,400 new inspectors dispatched to 49 customs points at airports and border crossings.
The new agents have undergone background checks to ensure they have no criminal records and received months of training, Pedro Canabal, a spokesman for the tax administration service, said on Sunday.

The previous agents were replaced after some were found to be linked to contraband operations, sources at the interior ministry told the AFP news agency. Custom inspectors were told to turn over their badges and weapons to soldiers before leaving their posts at airports and border crossings across the country on Saturday night"
The number of government employees replaced is now over 1,400, but some of them may reapply for their old jobs if they can pass the new background checks.

In a related article from the Washington Post, there is an argument for legalizing drugs: "Drug manufacturing and distribution is too dangerous to remain in the hands of unregulated criminals. Drug distribution needs to be the combined responsibility of doctors, the government, and a legal and regulated free market. This simple step would quickly eliminate the greatest threat of violence: street-corner drug dealing.

We simply urge the federal government to retreat. Let cities and states (and, while we're at it, other countries) decide their own drug policies. Many would continue prohibition, but some would try something new. California and its medical marijuana dispensaries provide a good working example, warts and all, that legalized drug distribution does not cause the sky to fall.

Having fought the war on drugs, we know that ending the drug war is the right thing to do -- for all of us, especially taxpayers. While the financial benefits of drug legalization are not our main concern, they are substantial. In a July referendum, Oakland, Calif., voted to tax drug sales by a 4-to-1 margin. Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimates that ending the drug war would save $44 billion annually, with taxes bringing in an additional $33 billion.

Without the drug war, America's most decimated neighborhoods would have a chance to recover. Working people could sit on stoops, misguided youths wouldn't look up to criminals as role models, our overflowing prisons could hold real criminals, and -- most important to us -- more police officers wouldn't have to die."
We have medical marijuana here in Colorado, which is a good thing for people in chronic pain. On the flip side, over the weekend one of the townhouses in the complex where I live was busted and condemned for operating a methamphetamine lab. And once the chemicals have seeped into the insulation and wood, it's near impossible to get rid of, posing serious health threats to anyone else living there, especially small children. If drugs were legalized, there's a good chance that my neighbor wouldn't be cooking up speed, with the chance of blowing up himself and several other homes nearby. The larger meth operations run by biker gangs, make tons at a time and rival the professional drug companies... Removing the source of so much violence could be seen as a positive thing to do, with less people being murdered, more folks in rehab or their habit under a doctor's supervision, having safer neighborhoods... Of course, the right wingers among us will see this as more government intrusion into our lives. less freedom and free market capitalism to make and sell illegal drugs by gangs and international criminal groups, not to mention as a secret funding source for the CIA and many military officers and corrupt DEA workers. Why change what works in America, including the billions of dollars made illegally?

late night jokes:

"Former Vice President Dick Cheney is working on his memoirs. People say when the book comes out President Bush is not going to be happy. Not because the book is critical of Bush, but because it's one of those books that's all words." --Conan O'Brien

"Former President Bill Clinton was recently asked about his wife Hillary's 11-day trip to Africa. And he said, 'I wish she were home.' Then he said, 'By which, I mean, I wish her home was Africa.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Speaking of former President Clinton -- have you heard about this? There are two American male hikers and one female hiker imprisoned in Iran. Some people are saying Bill Clinton should go rescue them. When asked about the idea, Clinton said, 'I am one third on it.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Dick Cheney is back in the news. He's talking about his memoirs. Cheney said that George George Bush stopped taking his advice during the second term of their Administration. And in Bush's defense, I think it's pretty natural to lose trust in a guy who shoots his friends in the face." --Jimmy Fallon

"And this happens with every administration. I mean, Obama only listened to Joe Biden for — never." --Jimmy Fallon

"Cheney also explained that the statute of limitations has expired on remaining silent about the Bush administration. Meanwhile, George Bush said: 'I love the statue of limitations. Beautiful lady. Is the torch open? Got to climb in the torch.'" --Jimmy Fallon

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