Get Our Newsletter



Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

December 2019
S M T W T F S
« Nov    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Tag: opinion

San Diego Union-Tribune: Advocates of Marijuana Legalization Miss Mark

marijuana-istockBy David W. Murray & John P. Walters
The San Diego Union-Tribune

A recent example of the logical abandon of today’s backers of legal marijuana is the plan to defund the Drug Enforcement Administration’s program to eradicate illegal marijuana (DEA/CESP), an $18 million program that eliminates millions of plants a year and arrests thousands of criminals, many of whom were brought here to labor for Mexican drug cartels controlling the marijuana black market.

Yet Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) wants to end the effort as a “ridiculous waste” of federal resources, when multiple states “have already legalized marijuana,” use of which should “no longer be a federal crime.” Clearly, the congressman has not thought this through. He is, in fact, arguing against his own legal marijuana case.

A central tenet of the legalization movement is that criminal marijuana was to be supplanted by “safe, regulated and taxed” marijuana under careful control. It is a contradiction of that principle to foster, by cutting the DEA program, the proliferation of unregulated, untaxed and “unsafe” marijuana plants controlled by violent criminals, thereby corrupting the entire point of a “legalized” marijuana market.

While a “regulated and taxed market” was the position sold to legislators, the real objective seems to be a dope-growing paradise, unregulated and unopposed. Congressman Lieu doesn’t even try to explain how this is supposed to advance America’s well-being.

For years now, Americans have been subjected to efforts by advocates for legalized marijuana to make their case. Today, the arguments often come from legalization lobbyists, often with legal or political training, seeking to legitimize what they hope will become a billion-dollar business in addictive toxins – repeat customers guaranteed.

Or consider the argument that marijuana is “safer to use” than alcohol. That alcohol is dangerous all acknowledge, costing the health of thousands. But the proper argument is that each intoxicant presents its own unique threats. It is not productive medically to “rank” them. But what is the logical implication of the alcohol talking point?

The regulation of alcohol is precisely the idealized model that lobbyists put forth for legal drugs. Hence, every time they insist that alcohol is the more damaging substance, what they are actually showing is that the model of legal, regulated sales of addictive substances produces widespread harm to adults and adolescents.

To read more click here. 

 

Border Remains Open Despite Border Patrol’s Best Efforts

Bob Casimiro of Bridgton is former executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Immigration Reform.
 
By Bob Casimiro 
Bangor Daily News.

It’s a cat-and-mouse game, and the mouse is still winning. In spite of the best efforts of our Border Patrol agents, drugs and humans keep coming across our border with Mexico.

I recently returned from my seventh trip to the border. Our Border Patrol agents are trying to do their job, but they are being hampered by bureaucrats and “open border” initiatives put in place by President Barack Obama’s administration.

On this trip, I went out with two local groups, the Arizona Border Defenders and Arizona Border Recon, both comprising activist citizens who want to help us secure our borders by augmenting what the Border Patrol does.

The Arizona Border Defenders are from Tucson. Their members come down on weekends to service cameras they have placed in the desert that transmit live video images when the camera’s sensors detect movement, which may be cattle, illegal aliens or Border Patrol agents. They see the video images on their cellphones, wherever they may be, and alert the Border Patrol if they see anything suspicious.

Arizona Border Recon is a veteran-based organization. Tim Foley, the field operations director, and his communications director, “Spartan,” recently moved permanently to Sasabe, Arizona, less than a half mile from the Sasabe Port of Entry. Foley is a slender, chain-smoking, U.S. Army 82nd Airborne veteran who roams the smuggler trails with a shotgun in one hand and his dog, Rocko, complete with ABR K-9 jacket, close behind. “Spartan” handles communications with law enforcement.

On our second day we caught a glimpse of a shadowy figure disappearing down the back of a mountain inside the U.S. border; it was a cartel “scout.” The “scouts” operate on the mountains and monitor the movement of the Border Patrol and let the smugglers know when it is safe to bring across drugs and human cargo. Keep in my mind they operate in the mountains on U.S. soil as far as 100 miles inside our border.

Sasabe is in the Tucson Sector, which extends 262 miles from the New Mexico border in the east to the Yuma (Arizona) County line in the west. The Border Patrolapprehended 87,915 illegal aliens in fiscal year 2014 in this sector. In the same fiscal year, 479,371 illegal aliens were apprehended across the whole 1,954-mile length of the Southwest Border.

So, how many get through? Chris Cabrera, vice president of National Border Patrol Council #3307, estimates in a recent video that only 30 percent of illegal aliens coming across the border are apprehended.

In the time I was there, I noted the whole array of devices used at the border: Border Patrol and Arizona National Guard helicopters, an inspection station on Highway 286, “virtual fence” towers with radar and cameras sweeping the horizon, Border Patrol trucks racing up and down Highway 286 from their base in Tucson, quads on trailers used to go in the desert where other vehicles can’t, drones, sensors.

I was thinking about all this on my last day as Foley and I stood beside the 13-foot fence separating the United States from Mexico.

I asked him, in exasperation: “Why the hell aren’t we stopping everyone coming across the border?”

His answer: “We are waging a war with a shift mentality.”

He was referring to the fact that the cartels operate 24/7 while the Border Patrol, with shift changes, have gaps in their coverage. Border Patrol agents are further hampered by the Obama administration’s “open border” policy, such as theacceptance of the tens of thousands of unaccompanied alien children last year; the suspension of the Secure Communities program in November 2014, the use of “prosecutorial discretion,” and the sharp decline in Interior Deportations from 236,000 in 2009 to 102,000 in 2014.

To read more click here.  

Washington Post: Justice Department Report Proves Racial Bias in Ferguson

Michael Brown

By Washington Post
Editorial Board

The Justice Department said two things about Ferguson, Mo., last week, both of which should make Americans uncomfortable. First, federal officials announced that they did not have evidence showing that police officer Darren Wilson used unreasonable force when he shot African American teenager Michael Brown. Second, the department found that there is a lot of rotten policing with racist overtones in Ferguson. Mr. Wilson may have been exonerated, but that does not excuse the primed powder keg of community anger that Ferguson authorities had set in place before the incident occurred.

On the Michael Brown shooting, federal investigators pored through the local authorities’ evidence and gathered their own. After an exhaustive inquiry, they determined that they didn’t have a case against Mr. Wilson. They even punctured the widely circulated claim that Mr. Brown had his hands raised in surrender when Mr. Wilson shot him.This is the independent review of the event that Ferguson and the country needed, and it should serve as a warning to those who would rush to judgment in such sensitive policing cases before the facts are in order.

That is not to say that the protesters who filled Ferguson’s streets after the Brown shooting didn’t have a reason to be angry. The Justice Department found that they live under an official system consciously designed to suck money out of vulnerable people. The system combines high fines for all sorts of violations — such as $77 to $102 for having weeds or tall grass — and enforcement that too often is well beyond reason. Investigators found one instance in which a man sitting in a parked car was searched on bogus grounds, arrested for complaining about it, then ticketed for eight municipal code violations. The man claims the charges cost him his job.

Ferguson’s municipal court attaches more fees for missing a payment or a court date, and it regularly hands out jail time for failing to pay. One woman ended up owing more than $1,000 and spending six days in jail over parking tickets, and the court refused to accept the partial payments she attempted to make.

When Ferguson police go in search of revenue, the evidence the Justice Department found suggests that they target minority communities. Police and courts punish African Americans far out of proportion to their share of the town population. Add these numbers to the documented racial bias of certain city officials, the department concludes, “and there is evidence that this is due in part to intentional discrimination on the basis of race.”

To read more click here. 

LA Times: Does End of Homeland Security Stalemate Mean New Type of GOP Leadership?

By Los Angeles Times
Editorial

It took the House GOP leadership a couple of weeks, but it finally conceded defeat Tuesday and allowed a “clean”  funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security to come up for a vote. With all 182 Democrats in the Capitol and 75 of the 242 Republicans lining up in favor, the measure passed easily and was sent to President Obama to sign.

The question now is whether the Republican majority has learned not to pick fights they don’t have the votes to win, or whether they’ll overplay their hand again the next time a must-pass bill comes up. Given what we’ve seen the past lour years, the latter seems more likely.

The Homeland Security measure isn’t exactly “clean” because it contains numerous policy changes negotiated by Republican and Democratic appropriators, such as one stepping up the department’s ability to detain people caught crossing the border illegally. What it doesn’t have are the House-passed riders that would have reversed Obama’s temporary deferrals of some deportations.

It’s rare to see House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) bring anything to the floor that doesn’t have at least 218 Republican votes, and rarer still to see anything that most Republicans oppose. But Boehner reportedly told Republicans in a private meeting that they had run out of options. There weren’t enough votes in the House for another stop-gap funding bill, and Senate Democrats wouldn’t let that chamber even consider a measure that rolled back President Obama’s immigration orders.

That brings us to a crucial point that, sadly, continues to be lost on many House Republicans: The filibuster is a very powerful thing. As long as it’s available to Democrats, Republicans won’t be able to move anything through that chamber without the help of at least six members not in their party.

To read more click here. 

Bloomberg View: Republicans Must Prevent Halting of Homeland Security Budget

John A. Boehner

House Speaker John A. Boehner

By Bloomberg View 
Editorial 

Now that they’re back in Washington after a weeklong break, Senate Republicans should make their first order of business something they’ve been wanting to do for a long time anyway: saying goodbye to their least favorite member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet, Attorney General Eric Holder.

The problem is that giving Holder a proper send-off requires confirming his replacement, Loretta Lynch. And approving Lynch means acknowledging that they cannot block Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
Those actions have since been put on hold by a federal judge, although the administration plans to appeal. At any rate, it’s clear that Senate Republicans do not have the votes to pass a bill preventing the Department of Homeland Security from carrying them out. So they are blocking Lynch instead, mostly out of sheer frustration.

In other words: The fight over Obama’s immigration order is over. Republicans have lost. Holding Lynch hostage — or even defeating her nomination, as Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are urging — will not change this central fact. Republicans are now in charge of Congress, and the Department of Homeland Security is funded only through the end of the month. This is their problem to solve.

To read more click here.

Washington Post Columnist: Homeland Security Fails to Protect Buildings from Cyber Attacks

By Josh Hicks
Washington Post

Federal buildings are unprepared for potential cyber attacks on their security systems, elevators, heating and cooling networks and other critical operations because the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t have a handle on the risks.

At stake are thousands of vulnerable facilities, including the offices of federal employees and structures that house high-risk items such as drugs and weapons.

Those are the findings from a Government Accountability Office report this week that said DHS lacks a strategy for protecting government buildings from hackers, terrorists, corrupt employees and criminal groups who might want to breach their networks.

Auditors determined that the increased digital connectivity with federal facilities “heightens their vulnerability to cyber attacks, which could compromise security measures, hamper agencies’ ability to carry out their mission, or cause physical harm.”

GAO released its findings on Monday, the same day President Obama gave a speech about national cybersecurity efforts and hackers took control of two social media accounts operated by the U.S. military’s Central Command, posting threatening messages and Islamist propaganda videos.

The watchdog report said the Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for protecting federal buildings, has failed to formulate a plan for dealing with the vulnerability of government facilities.

“No one within DHS is assessing or addressing cyber risk to building and access control systems … in part, because cyber threats involving these systems are an emerging issue” the report said.

To read more click here.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Raids Medical Supply Firm With Wall St. ‘Wolf’ Tie

Undercover Agent Explains How He Helped FBI Nab Silk Leader

House Bill Aimed at Blocking President Obama on Immigration

ATF Takes to Facebook to Interact More with Public

Is TSA Compromising Security for Popularity, Peaking at Your Records


Washington Post: President Obama’s Executive Order Is ‘Convenient Reinterpretation of Tradition’

By Michael Gerson 
Opinion Writer for Washington Post

There are any number of marvelous things one might do as president, if Congress were not such a checked and balanced mess. But future presidents now have a new method at their disposal: Declare a long-running debate to be a national emergency. Challenge Congress, under threat of unilateral executive action, to legislate on the topic before your term runs out. And when lawmakers refuse, act with the most expansive definition of presidential power.

The supporting arguments for this approach come down to the claim that the American political system is broken — incapable of action on urgent matters because of obstructionism, bad faith and the abuse of legislative procedure. It is the political philosophy of “something must be done.”

The arguments against this approach often come down to institutionalism. Major policy shifts, in this view, deserve legislative hearings and an open amendment process. The White House should make its views known and issue veto threats. There should be a negotiation between the House and Senate to reconcile a bill. There should be a presidential signature, or a veto and an override debate. The machinery is admittedly creaky, but it manufactures democratic legitimacy.

President Obama has ably and sequentially defended both these positions. A year ago, during another immigration speech, a heckler insisted, “You have a power to stop deportations.” Obama replied: “Actually, I don’t, and that’s why we’re here. . . . What you need to know, when I’m speaking as president of the United States and I come to this community, is that if, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a nation of laws. That’s part of our tradition. And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. And what I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve.”

Obama has now officially abandoned the harder path — not because the issues surrounding immigration will never be resolved (a case no one has adequately made) but because he wants to be the president to resolve them. Since our democratic process has proved disappointing during his time in office, we get a convenient reinterpretation of tradition — using a history of reasonable discretion in tying up the loose ends of a law to justify a major policy shift in the absence of law. This is motivated reasoning on steroids — and future presidents of both parties will likely find it appealing, on a variety of issues.

By crossing this particular Rubicon, Obama has given up on politics, which is, from one perspective, understandable. He doesn’t do it well. He has always viewed the political process as sullied, compared with the reasonableness of his policy insights. In the aftermath of his party’s midterm defeat, he diagnosed a problem of salesmanship. “It’s not enough just to build a better mousetrap,” he said. “People don’t automatically come beating to your door. We’ve got to sell it.”

To read more click here.

Opinion by The Atlantic: FBI Lies A lot – And It’s Often an Affront to Fourth Amendment & Consent

By Conor Friedersdorf
The Atlantic

The FBI lies a lot.

Sometimes that’s fully justified. Brave agents risk their lives to infiltrate terrorist cells, organized crime, and child-pornography rings. Subterfuge is vital to these operations, and needn’t harm the country if done correctly. But there are certain kinds of lies and untruths that the FBI should carefully avoid. FBI Director James Comey isn’t always able to identify them.

Consider his remarks on three separate subjects.

The first is the debate about whether Apple, Google, and other device manufacturers should build security vulnerabilities into their devices so that the tiny subset that police want to search can be compromised after a warrant is obtained. Comey went on 60 Minutes and misled its audience about whether a warrant is always needed to read your email. He “clarified” his remarks during a subsequent speech at the Brookings Institution. But key details of that speech turned out to be misleading too. Perhaps these were untruths spoken out of ignorance and lack of preparation rather than lies. Either way, an FBI director should take special care to speak accurately when engaged in public debate about important matters of public policy. Comey keeps failing that standard.

Subject No. 2 concerns an FBI lie that everyone acknowledges to be deliberate. Agents in Las Vegas suspected an illegal gambling ring was being run out of a few fancy hotel rooms. But they didn’t have enough evidence for a search warrant. The law forbade them from entering unless the inhabitants let them in voluntarily.

The agents hatched a scheme. They would shut off the room’s Internet connection as if it had broken, pose as hotel employees coming to fix the problem, and thereby gain the “consent” of the inhabitants to come in and look around. This is an affront to the Fourth Amendment and the concept of consent.

To read more click here.