Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
Joanna Rothkopf reports in Salon:
The United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has recently concluded its 85th Session during which time it considered seven state reports, including one on the United States.
The report praised many progressive steps the U.S. has taken to ensure equality, including the termination of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, the adoption of the Fair Sentencing Act and the adoption of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
However, the number of issues the report raises is pretty abominable. CERD expressed concern over the following problems:
- Lack of a national human rights institution
- Persistent racial profiling and illegal surveillance
- Prevalence and under-reporting of racist hate speech and hate crimes
- Disparate impact of environmental pollution in low income and minority communities
- Restrictive voter identification laws leading to unequal right to vote
- Criminalization of homelessness when homeless people are disproportionately minorities
- Discrimination and segregation in housing
- De facto racial segregation in education
- Unequal right to health and access to health care
- High number of gun-related deaths and “Stand Your Ground” laws, which disproportionately affect members of racial and ethnic minorities
- Excessive use of force by law enforcement officials
- Increasingly militarized approach to immigration law enforcement
- Violence against women occurs disproportionately more frequently for women from racial/ethnic minorities
- Criminal justice system disproportionately arrests, incarcerates and subjects to harsher sentences people from racial/ethnic minorities
- Youth from racial/ethnic minorities are disproportionately prosecuted as adults, incarcerated in adult prisons, and sentenced to life without parole
- Non-citizens are arbitrarily detained in Guantanamo Bay without equal access to the criminal justice system, while at risk of being subjected to torture
- Unequal access to legal aid
- Lacking rights of indigenous peoples (the report lists numerous different concerns)
- Absence of a National Action Plan to combat racial discrimination
In a press conference convened Friday, CERD committee vice chairman Noureddine Amir highlighted the death of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown: . . .
Paul Krugman once more points out some fundamental flaws in the libertarian position (that the free market can solve all problems):
n the latest Times Magazine, Robert Draper profiled youngish libertarians — roughly speaking, people who combine free-market economics with permissive social views — and asked whether we might be heading for a “libertarian moment.” Well, probably not. Polling suggests that young Americans tend, if anything, to be more supportive of the case for a bigger government than their elders. But I’d like to ask a different question: Is libertarian economics at all realistic?
The answer is no. And the reason can be summed up in one word: phosphorus.
As you’ve probably heard, the City of Toledo recently warned its residents not to drink the water. Why? Contamination from toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie, largely caused by the runoff of phosphorus from farms.
When I read about that, it rang a bell. Last week many Republican heavy hitters spoke at a conference sponsored by the blog Red State — and I remembered an antigovernment rant a few years back from Erick Erickson, the blog’s founder. Mr. Erickson suggested that oppressive government regulation had reached the point where citizens might want to “march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp.” And the source of his rage? A ban on phosphates in dishwasher detergent. After all, why would government officials want to do such a thing?
An aside: The states bordering Lake Erie banned or sharply limited phosphates in detergent long ago, temporarily bringing the lake back from the brink. But farming has so far evaded effective controls, so the lake is dying again, and it will take more government intervention to save it.
The point is that before you rage against unwarranted government interference in your life, you might want to ask why the government is interfering. Often — not always, of course, but far more often than the free-market faithful would have you believe — there is, in fact, a good reason for the government to get involved. Pollution controls are the simplest example, but not unique.
Smart libertarians have always realized that there are problems free markets alone can’t solve — but their alternatives to government tend to be implausible. For example, . . .
The headline to Justin Elliott’s story in ProPublica pretty much sums it up: “Cuomo’s Office Denies Using Private Email Accounts. But it Does.” Details of why and who and what at the link.
This article seems to be AlterNet’s answer to the NY Times series on legalizing marijuana. It’s worth reading to see where things stand, and it’s also interesting to see how many blatant lies are told (and two of the worst are Democrats: Andrew Cuomo (who seems utterly corrupt in any case) and Dianne Feinstein (who, thank God, is finally going to retire). For example:
High-ranking Democratic elected officials continue to repeat long-disproven drug falsehoods.
Elected officials like New York’s Andrew Cuomo still buy into long disproved pot myths like pot is a “gateway drug” . Recently, “Mr. Cuomo said that he was wary of allowing marijuana to become too widely or too easily available” (despite the fact that NY has hundreds of thousands of pot arrests). In recent days “he said he feared that it was ‘a gateway drug,’ and observed that the state was already dealing with a resurgence of heroin use.”
The New York Times  underscores how out of touch Cuomo is:
Marijuana “does not appear to be a gateway drug to the extent that it is the cause or even that it is the most significant predictor of serious drug abuse,” the Institute of Medicine study said. The real gateway drugs are tobacco and alcohol, which young people turn to first before trying marijuana.
Extremely interesting post by Kevin Drum. It’s interesting to me because it illustrates how the underlying biology can play a role in the success/failure of certain memes: memes that resonate with one outlook shrivel in other. So to some extent, there’s a competition among memes.
UPDATE: It was late when I wrote that: there’s always competition among memes. What I meant was that the competition among memes leads to competition among the meme hosts (humans): conservatives and progressives compete via memes, but those memes are selected to some extent by the underlying biology.
The post at the link is also interesting in providing an explanation for why most civilians who carry firearms are conservatives.
German Lopez makes a strong case at Vox.com. It is really unclear why we don’t try experimenting with wholesale legalization, regulation, taxation, and treatment.
America’s war on drugs has, by several measures, failed to live up to its goals.
Over the past couple of decades, illicit drug use has not decreased in a significant way. At the same time, the war on drugs has fallen short of its key economic goal: to make drugs more expensive, and therefore make them less accessible to drug users.
Even the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy seems to agree with this point. In a release detailing the Obama administration’s new anti-drug strategy, Michael Botticelli, acting director of ONDCP, wrote, “This Strategy … rejects the notion that we can arrest and incarcerate our way out of the nation’s drug problem.”
The White House’s strategy, to be sure, doesn’t completely do away with incarceration and law enforcement in the fight against drugs, but the statement acknowledges that the last 40 years of the war on drugs have not produced the desired results.
Given the failures of the war on drugs and the spread of marijuana legalization, many drug policy experts are now thinking about what’s next. What should happen with other illicit drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, if the war on drugs isn’t working? Should illicit drugs even be considered illegal in the first place?
I reached out to three drug policy experts for answers. They agreed that the criminalization of drugs has clearly failed, but where drug policy should go next remains a matter of debate.
There’s one point of agreement: the war on drugs is a failure
No matter their academic background or political leanings, there seems to be a consensus among many drug policy experts that the criminalization of drugs hasn’t worked. This is the one point of agreement among Mark Kleiman, drug policy expert at UCLA; Jeffrey Miron, an economist at Harvard University and the libertarian Cato Institute; and Isaac Campos, a drug historian at the University of Cincinnati.
The war on drugs goes after drug producers and dealers in an attempt to cut drugs at the source — before they reach the user. The idea is to cut down the supply, so drugs are more expensive and, therefore, less affordable and accessible for a drug user. [And, OTOH, with more money at stake and to be made, you have created a lucrative opportunity for miscreants who don't shirk from breaking the law. It seems counter-productive---and, in fact, it is, as the article demonstrates. - LG]
One way to check whether this strategy has succeeded is by looking at whether the price of drugs has gone up during prohibition. According to the most recent report from the White House’s ONDCP, that’s not the case. The prices of cocaine, crack, and heroin plummeted then stabilized in the past few decades, and meth’s price has remained largely stable since the 1980s. . .