Sum-Sum-Summertime

The Magnificent Shed

The Magnificent Shed

I’m in a bit of a lull at present – having wrapped up a couple of books for Watercress in the last week or so, and it will be another few weeks before some of the others come up to the point where I have to set aside everything else to work on them, full-tilt. There will actually be three and possibly four. Two of the four are … high-value clients, the other two returning clients, so … yes, I am doing the happy dance.
I have finished the first draft of the next book, which was inspired by a light-hearted blog post regarding the crash’n’burn of the recent Lone Ranger movie, the one with Johnny Depp and a dead crow on his head. Yeah, that one; I began kicking around ways that the franchise could be re-booted, first as a joke, but the more I thought about it, the more fun it looked like – of course, not the Lone Ranger per se. That’s all under copyright, and I understand that the copyright holders are ferociously protective. But what about a narrative bearing a suitably distant likeness to the original premise – that is, a young Texas volunteer soldier-ranger in the time of the Republic of Texas, sole survivor of a massacre, with his good friend and buddy, an Indian scout, wandering around pre Civil War Texas on missions of goodness and niceness? Nix the mask, the silver bullets, the horse named Silver – indeed, just about every other telling detail – and make it more or less a historical, although with a looser grasp on the straight historical record than my other books. Believe me, there was enough strange stuff going on in Texas during that time, and certainly enough in the way of real historical characters and incidents to generate any number of adventures. I scribbled out six initial historical romps, my daughter suggested that I aim it toward the YA audience, especially boys who have nothing since the final Harry Potter tome and aren’t interested in the adventures of sparkly vampires … and there it is – gone to some alpha readers recruited through the Ace of Spades Sunday morning book thread for critique and analysis. I will incorporate their suggestions, plus any additional additional inspirations that their suggestions spark … and the book will be out in late October, likely. Just in time for Christmas shopping.
So – that’s done. Until I hear from the alpha readers (or really, anyone who wants to check out the adventures posted at my Celia Hayes website and drop me a line), that project is on the back burner.

As the garden looked earlier this year

As the garden looked earlier this year


August has descended on us – traditionally the hottest month of a Texas summer – it’s been over 100° every day for the last week or so. So, my enthusiasm for doing anything outdoors is pretty much under control. Walk the dogs, water the garden, that’s about it. This week, though – we finally got the antique Chambers stove moved off the back porch and into the shed. This chore had to wait until the shed was actually built, and we could round up two willing and strong neighbors to help us shift it the fifteen or twenty feet. Yes, the darned thing is heavy – when it was built in 1941, they made them to last. Eventually, we’ll have to remodel the kitchen to accommodate the Chambers. So – aside from starting the fall garden, I’ll also be revamping the back porch, once things cool off just a titch.. There was more than just the stove kept on the porch – and now it has all in the shed – so that I intend to reclaim the porch for when the cool weather returns.

In the Light of This Development …

Covered here, at length, I am certain that New Mexico, or at the very least, the Hidalgo County PD needs a new motto.

How about “New Mexico – Come for the enchantment, stay for the thorough cavity searches”?

Or “Hidalgo County Police Department – The Keyster Kops!”

Or “Hidalgo County Police Department – Let Us Take You Up the Khyber Pass

Or “Hidalgo County Police Department – Illegal Anal Probs R Us!”

Seriously, if ever there was an occasion which calls for prolonged and vicious mockery, this would be it. Don’t these people have enough real and obvious criminals to deal with?

Meth – The Evil Drug War Mis/Dis Information Goes On

I’ve just watched PBS’s Frontline: The Meth Epidemic. And, while I have to admit, I know far less about methamphetamine, its history, and the culture – both open and illicit, which surrounds it, than most of the other legally proscribed drugs I have studied, I likely know far more than the producers of this show.

And I intend to learn much more. As I have said many times before, I rely upon regular doses of pseudoephedrine (which I get on prescription) just to be functional. With a hat tip to Pastor Martin Niemller: First they came for the meth-heads… then they came for me.

And in that is my first criticism of this program: They seem to think ALL methamphetamine requires ephedrine or pseudoephedrine as a precursor. And that is hardly true. By my current understanding, there are at least three different varieties of methamphetamine: d-meth, i-meth, and n-meth. Because of earlier crackdowns on the precursor agents, the variety most prevalent now is d-meth, which is “cooked” from ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. Other varieties, popular two decades or more ago, were formulated from other precursors, which illicit labs currently find difficult to obtain.

But, as might be expected, the pharmacological effects of each is not the same. While the deleterious effects of abuse of any drug can’t be denied, and those of any sort of methamphetamine are particularly severe, the effects of d-meth are far worse than even its chemical cousins.

But why is d-meth the most prevalent form on the street? Because of drug prohibition, and its crackdown on the precursors of earlier, less harmful, types. On prohibition, not the drug itself, you can also blame the environmental effects of clandestine drug labs, which is currently being berated on the tele. In a (reasonably regulated) free market, the drugs would be manufactured in environmentally safe professional labs.

And, of course, should they manage to eliminate all the ephedrine and pseudoephedrine – much to the suffering of myself, and others like me, the clandestine producers will just switch to a new formula.

Further, I would posit that, were it not for prohibition, “meth” would hardly be a concern, as most users would sooner use cocaine. In fact, it’s the evil war on cocaine that has made meth “a problem” in the first place.

More to come.

More Evil Drug War Insanity

If it weren’t for the BS this boy and his family is going to be put through, this would be hilarious:

A 12-year-old Aurora boy who said he brought powdered sugar to school for a science project this week has been charged with a felony for possessing a look-alike drug, Aurora police have confirmed.

The sixth-grade student at Waldo Middle School was also suspended for two weeks from school after showing the bag of powdered sugar to his friends.

The boy, who is not being identified because he is a juvenile, said he brought the bag to school to ask his science teacher if he could run an experiment using sugar.

Two other boys asked if the bag contained cocaine after he showed it to them in the bathroom Wednesday morning, the boy’s mother said.

He joked that it was cocaine, before telling them, “just kidding,” she said.

Aurora police arrested the boy after a custodian at the school reported the boy’s comments. The youngster was taken to the police station and detained, before being released to his parents that afternoon.

[...]

The school handbook states that students can be suspended or expelled for carrying a look-alike drug.

Penalties for juveniles are decided on a case-by-case basis, but if convicted, the sixth-grader could likely face up to five years’ probation, said Jeffery Jefko, deputy director of Kane County juvenile court services.

What he should get is an apology.

Hat Tip: WSJ Best of the Web Today

Patriot Act Extension Defeated – For Now

In case you haven’t heard, the cloture vote, to close filibuster in the Senate, on the Patriot Act extension, went down – getting only 52 yeas with 60 required.

I will have to take a look at the actual text of the bill currently on the Senate floor to make a definitive judgement. But my initial reaction to this is positive, as most of what Congress does is pure mischief. But, in this case, as Orin Kerr at Volokh points out, much of this bill (at least at the instant he reviewed it) pulls back the iron hand of government:

For those of us who think of the Patriot Act as actual legislation rather than a symbol of the Bush Administration, this is rather puzzling stuff. The dirty little secret about the Patriot Act is that only about 3% of the Act is controversial, and only about a third of that 3% is going to expire on December 31st. Further, much of the reauthorization actually puts new limits on a number of the controversial non-sunsetting provisions, and some of the sunsetting provisions increased privacy protections. As a result, it’s not immediately obvious to me whether we’ll have greater civil liberties on January 1, 2006 if the Patriot Act is reauthorized or if it is allowed to expire. (To be fair, though, I’d have to run through the effect of every expiring section and all of the reauthorization language to check this – maybe I would feel differently if I did.)

Well, perhaps that’s good – if that’s actually what happens. My greatest problem with the Patriot Act is with its potential for abuse. But I must admit, actual abuses have been rather rare. But they have not been non-existent.

BAC An Unjust Standard

This from Max Borders at TCS Daily:

Whether youre a 220 lb. guzzler with an iron liver or a 120 anorexic whos just had her first drink, you will be evaluated by the same standard in determining whether youre capable of driving. The standard in most states is a .08 blood-alcohol content or BAC. But other states have policies in which an even lower BAC can send you to jail. Recently, for example, the Washington D.C. city council voted in favor of raising its legal BAC from .01 to .05 — where between .05 and .079 police may use their discretion about whether to make an arrest.

[...]

It turns out that while the BAC standard is an objective standard for measuring the percentage of alcohol in the blood. It isnt an objective standard of someones ability to drive safely. The very term DUI stands for driving under the influence. But the breathalyzer and other BAC measures cant determine the influence of alcohol on ones reaction times, faculties, and motor skills. If we were trying to determine whether someone is actually impaired, arent reaction times, faculties and motor skills what we ought to be looking at?

To be fair, there was a time in which the BAC standard made sense. In the absence of a better standard, a proxy standard would have had to suffice — just as age 65 might be a reasonable proxy standard for testing elderly drivers for the degenerative effects of aging.

I might also add that, while alcohol also generally lowers a person’s inhibitions, that effect varies greatly from one individual to another. I have in my life known several people who tend to throw caution to the wind after they’ve had a few drinks. I’ve also known others who recognize that they are below their peak performance level, and compensate with additional caution, just as a responsible senior citizen should.

These are the reasons the checkpoints advocated so vigorously by MADD, and similar organizations, are such a waste of valuable resources. Dangerous drunks make themselves known readily, by virtue of their actual driving, to even the casual lay observer – much more so to the trained and experienced patrol officer – so long as he/she is actually on patrol, not manning stationary checkpoints.

Hat Tip: InstaPundit

Cory Maye Summary

Radley Balko has posted a summary of what he knows, to date, on the Cory Maye murder case. If you’ve been following this, and you should be, this is a must read. Because, as Radley states, many errors have crept into the story, as it’s made its way around the blogosphere. Stephen Gordon is also making an effort to keep the facts in order.

In other news, CBS has picked up the story. But so far, only to the extent of following the blogs. There’s also a passing mention in Slate, but only relative to a Tookie Williams story. A Google news search shows no other MSM interest, as yet.

And, For This Week’s Victim Of The Evil War On Drugs…

…We have the common cold and allergy sufferer, who will have a much harder time getting the medication they need, due to a “Combat Meth” amendment snuck into the Patriot Act:

TalkLeft has previously criticized North Carolina's use of its “weapons of mass destruction” law to charge a meth lab owner (follow-up here), as well as Oklahoma's law and John Edwards and John Kerry's plan to introduce a federal restriction on buying cold pills.

As TChris wrote here, the meth crisis is a myth. The only effect this bill will have on those who cook meth is to cause them to steal the pills instead of buy them. Plus, here's who will get busted under the cold pill laws – convenience store clerks, probably those that have difficulty understanding English, who thought the undercover cop was talking about a barbecue when he mentioned a “cook.”

Henry Hyde tried to slip a provision into the Patriot Act that increased drug law penalties by designating them “narco-terrorism offenses.” The Patriot Act has been used to bust a marijuana smuggling ring.

We need to be vigilant about keeping terror laws and drug laws separate, except in such instances where the two clearly are linked. We already have laws that penalize terrorism and laws that penalize illicit drug activity. There is no need to combine them.

In Oregon, and other states, there’s talk of making pseudoephedrine “prescription only,” None of this will do anything to stem the use of methamphetamine. Besides increasing the incidence of burglaries, as Jeralyn notes, it will simply move more production south of the border – where most of the meth is produced already – further enriching ruthless Mexican drug gangs.

This is of grave concern to me. I don’t have to worry, at this point, because while I rely on 120mg/day of pseudoephedrine, along with some other medications, to control my chronic sinus drainage, I get mine on prescription already. However, it’s but a step from requiring prescriptions to outlawing altogether – “first they came for the…”

The surest way to reduce consumption of meth? Make cocaine legal.

Playing Fast And Loose With The Facts

If you haven’t been following Radley Balko’s seminal investigative series on the murder trial of Cory Maye, you really should. In his interview with the prosecutor today, I get the distinct impression McDonald is playing fast and loose with the facts, just hoping Balko will go away.

This is also another incidence where the blogosphere is way out in front of the mainstream media. Stay the course, Radley. Perhaps you’ll be the first blogger to win a Pulitzer.

Limiting Raich

Randy Barnett at Volokh has been working on a brief for the Ninth Circuit in the abominable Gonzales v. Raich case. The Supremes ruled only on application of the Interstate Commerce clause, this deals with Angel Raich’s basic rights. He’s written a short forward for an upcoming collection in the Lewis & Clark Law Review on Raich’s potential ramifications vis-a-vis federalism. Here’s the abstract:

In Gonzales v. Raich, the Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to the Controlled Substance Act, as applied to the cultivation, possession and use of cannabis for medical purposes as recommended by a physician and authorized by state law. The challenge relied on the precedents of United States v. Lopez and United States v. Morrison in which the Court had found that the statutes involved had exceeded the powers of Congress under the Commerce Clause. As explained by the articles in the symposium in which this Foreword will appear, the Court in Raich has now cast the applicability of these previous decisions into doubt. In this brief essay, I offer a route by which a future majority of the Supreme Court can limit the scope of its decision in Gonzales v. Raich should it desire to put its commitment to federalism above a commitment to national power. Viewed in this light, the decision in Raich is not quite as sweeping as it first appears.

Update: Glenn Reynolds pitches he and Brannon Denning’s article in the collection:

[O]ur article is the only one, I believe, to invoke Emily Litella — and it also has zombies, and a subtle Simpsons reference. Plus a radical theory of the Necessary and Proper clause!

LOL!

The Neighbor from Hell

I think every village or suburb or city block must be afflicted with a bad neighbor, or in the luckiest locations, the not so good neighbor. At best this neighbor may be merely rude, clueless, thoughtless or just disagreeable— or an unfortunate combination of all those qualities. Ordinary bad neighbors may play loud music late at night, neglect the unmown lawn, leave garbage cans at the curb for weeks on end, and permit weeds to thrive unmolested until they are the size of small shrubs. They may dismember industrial machinery in the front yard, or leave the broken-down heap with three flattened tires parked in the street in front of their house for months on end, and have rowdy parties on weekends.

This sort of ordinary bad neighbor invariably lives right next door to the picky and house-proud sort, who lovingly groom their borders with nail scissors and maintain an exquisitely velvety green lawn which renders the torment all the more excruciating. The bad neighbor may not actually be a suburban sloven, but instead maintains a rackety, public and disreputable personal life, one involving a lot of yelling, flung objects and frequent visits by law enforcement authorities. This sort of neighbor actually serves quite an enjoyable function, as the focus for lots of scandalized gossip. These are the two commoner sorts blissfully, rare indeed is the malevolent or deranged bad neighbor. This would be the kind of person, which when they finally snap and melt down, usually involves automatic weapons or explosives, a number of messily dead bodies, and headlines in the local paper above the fold for days. And none of the neighbors, interviewed by minions of the press, are quoted as saying Oh, very quiet. So nice. Kept to him/her/theirselves. Wouldnt hurt a fly we were just that shocked! No, when they talk about this kind of neighbor, everyone says, Well were surprised it didnt happen sooner. Or Human catastrophe, looking for a place to happen. Or even, They fought with everyone, and we all hated their guts. And usually, someone throws in a lament about the authorities not having seen the danger signs and acted promptly, saving (fill in the blank number) lives.

My parents had such a neighbor when they lived at Hilltop House— and I was glad on one account when they moved down to their very own hill in Valley Center, as I was afraid that this particular neighbor would snap, and mow down half the neighbors with heavy artillery as opposed to just harassing them with spurious complaints about manufacturing drugs.
Mr. F. and his wife (I will call her Mrs. F.) lived in a house on a cul-de-sac lower down the hill, and ventured only rarely into our ken, so were spared the full malevolent blast. (According to his mythology, with our house full of teenagers and the yard full of old cars, we must be in the distribution end.) His immediate neighbors were not so fortunate, as he gradually developed a bizarre delusion that they— immensely respectable, middle-aged home-owners all—were all manufacturing, selling, and transporting illegal drugs.

He insisted there were pipes full of drugs, running between all the houses. His suspicions were as strong as actual physical evidence was weak; over the course of several years he cut a swath through every law enforcement body in the state of California. Initially being interested enough, then increasingly disillusioned, and finally writing him off as just another unbalanced crank, Mr. F. would move on to another agency which knew of him not, and repeat the process. All this was terribly difficult for the immediate neighbors— everyone up to the DEA eventually wore a path to their various doors. Mr. F. was well spoken, immensely convincing at first, but as law enforcement increasingly declined to humor him, his behavior became freakishly bizarre. He took to prowling the streets at odd hours, taking pictures of visitors, or carrying around a box he claimed was taking samples of the air to test for drugs. Pippys wedding reception was held in the garden at Hilltop House, with Mr. F lurking in the oleander hedge by the front gate. We felt rather like the mafia family in the Godfather, with the shrubbery full of FBI agents, on this marital occasion.

But by that time, Mr. F. had well gone past the point of being an amusing local nut-case. One of the closer neighbors, a woman in late-middle age, was slowly dying of MS; Mr. F. insisted that it was actually the result of drug abuse. Even if no one credited that, it was a cruel thing to say. Other neighbors filed injunctions and suits, to no avail— Mr. F. could put on a pretense of rational normality in court. Eventually, Mom told me that people selling their homes nearby had to list Mr. F. as a sort of local toxic waste dump and inform potential buyers of his malign presence. Some time after I had enlisted and left Hilltop House for good, and Mom and Dad had decamped for the wilds of Northern San Diego County, Mom told me of the cruelest, most horrible thing he had done. A couple with two small children had bought a house farther down the hill— not on the same street, but a house where Mr. F. could see into their back yard from his. He called the child protection authorities, accusing them of drug abuse and neglecting their children— and because he was new to them, they believed. It took six months for them to get custody of their children again.

Several years later, I read of him in the news of the weird section of the local newspaper. Among other things, it seemed there was an injunction against him in the State of California, forbidding him to ever call 9-11. I cant find confirmation via google, but that was a long time ago. With luck, he went undeniably barking mad, before the rise of the internet, and at this date, all the neighbors around Hilltop House are sleeping sound at night, knowing that Mr. F is not lurking in the shrubbery, or that gullible law enforcement officers are not wearing a path to their front door. We shall, with luck, not see his like again. Or very soon. And especially not on the same street.

(Accounts of horrible, impossible, malevolent and generally deranged neighbors are eagerly solicited, of course. Id love to know that somewhere, some time, there was worse than Mr. F running around loose.)

Rusty Shackleford Doesn’t Know Enough Libertarians

Apparently, he thinks we all think the same way:

Every one that I admire is wrong about the drug war. And I mean every one.

The Libertarians I hang around with try to pretend that drugs aren’t all that bad. The usual drug that is called not bad is Marijuana. Marijuana is not bad, it–and by inference other drugs–ought to be legalized.

The Rightists I know and admire tend to over-exaggerate the consequences of drug use. Drugs are not only not bad, they are really really bad.

The Leftists I know seem to be a mixed bag on this. Some of them mimmicking the Libertarian position, others of them mimmicking the Rightist position. Only, instead of spending my money on jail cells for stupid drug users they want to spend my money on rehab for stupid drug users. And on needles. And on publicly funded medical marijuana. And on rehab, again…..

The worst arguments I hear are the back and forth medical statistics. This drug is less risky than tobacco. Users of that drug may experience sudden heart failure. Blah blah blah.

Let me tell you where I stand. Drugs are bad, mmmkay. The biggest problem with drugs are not their long-term effects, but their near term effects. That is, people do things under the influence of drugs that they normally wouldn’t do. I have a problem with that.

But, just because drugs are bad does not mean that they should be illegal. Stupid things that harm others ought to be illegal, not stupid things that harm yourself. And if the worst bads associated with drugs are when you do stupid things to others, then, well, we already have laws to cover those.

No, Rusty: libertines think that drugs aren’t “that bad”. Real libertarians, those that have thought long and hard about it, as I have, realize (not “pretend”) that drugs are neither good or bad. As with guns, drugs are just tools. Powerful and hazardous tools, too be sure, but tools nonetheless. Drug abuse is bad. If drugs themselves where bad, why would we allow doctors to prescribe them?

Convoluted Liberial Thinking On Raich

This from the editors of TNR:

The 6-3 majority opinion in Gonzales v. Raich by Justice John Paul Stevens was an uncontroversial application of Supreme Court decisions that have been settled since the New Deal. In 1942, the Court upheld Congress’s power to regulate wheat grown for personal consumption, on the theory that locally consumed wheat might reduce demand for wheat that crossed state lines. By the same logic, Stevens held for the majority, Congress could prohibit the use of marijuana grown for personal medical use, since it, too, might have a substantial effect on the national market for recreational pot.

In a welcome development, the majority included Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, two leaders of the so-called federalism revolution on the Rehnquist Court. In other cases, which this magazine has criticized, Scalia and Kennedy have voted to strike down congressional regulation of guns in schools and violence against women. But Scalia reasoned that those cases could be distinguished from the regulation of marijuana because they did not involve economic activity. Scalia’s willingness to uphold Congress’s broad power to regulate the national economy shows him at his best: a traditional conservative defender of judicial restraint, who is willing to respect precedents with which he disagrees.

Unfortunately, three other champions of states’ rights–O’Connor, Rehnquist, and Thomas–endorsed a reckless judicial activism. In her dissenting opinion, O’Connor’s contempt for Congress converged with her devotion to states’ rights: She said that Congress could not regulate medical marijuana unless it made detailed findings that the regulation was essential to the enforcement of national drug laws. But, as Stevens pointed out, it’s not the job of the Court to flyspeck what are quintessentially policy judgments; instead, the Court should uphold Congress’s regulations as long as a reasonable person might conclude that they would affect interstate commerce.

But wait, Raich has NOTHING to do with Wickard, save perhaps that they are both bad decisions. I mean, in Raich, we are talking about an activity (the interstate commerce in marijuana) which is illegal, and should ideally be zero. Only by some wild flight of fantasy could any reasonable person claim that a user cultivating marijuana for their own use could do anything but DECREASE the interstate traffic.

I mean, by this precedent, it could be claimed that it is Unconstitutional for Amber Alerts to be put out by neighboring States after a child has been kidnapped, as it may effect the interstate trade in sex slaves.

Update: Marty Lederman at SCOTUSblog has this interesting take on Wickard:

– And then there’s Wickard itself, of course. One got the sense that the Lopez and Morrison courts were not too fond of Wickard, but were willing to nominally affirm it as long as it could be narrowly described and its precedential import contained. But at some point, the Court would have to overrule Wickard, or distinguish it away to nothing, if it were to place serious constraints on Congress — and today’s decision suggests that we’ll be waiting quite a while longer for that day to come. Indeed, the Court is unlikely to abandon Wickard-like attenuation analysis anytime soon, because such analysis comes in very handy when there’s a statute that the Court wishes to uphold. Just two years ago, for instance, the Court unanimously upheld a federal statute requiring states to make certain hazardous-road reports inadmissible as evidence in state-court proceedings. This statute fell within Congress’s Commerce Clause power to protect channels of commerce, reasoned the Court, because of the following possible causal chain: Requiring such an evidentiary rule would make it more difficult for would-be plaintiffs to obtain evidence to support negligence actions against state and local governments, which would in turn “result in more diligent [government] efforts to collect the relevant information, more candid discussions of hazardous locations, better informed decisionmaking, and, ultimately, greater safety on our Nation’s roads.” The writer of this opinion, which makes Wickard‘s causal chain look direct and obvious by comparison? None other than Justice Thomas.

Read the whole post. There is a definite lack of intellectual consistancy in the Court’s so-called Federalist Revolution.

Another Setback In The Evil War On Drugs

This from Gina Holland at AP:

WASHINGTON Jun 6, 2005 Federal authorities may prosecute sick people who smoke pot on doctors’ orders, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, concluding that state medical marijuana laws don’t protect users from a federal ban on the drug.

The decision is a stinging defeat for marijuana advocates who had successfully pushed 10 states to allow the drug’s use to treat various illnesses.

Justice John Paul Stevens, writing the 6-3 decision, said that Congress could change the law to allow medical use of marijuana.

The closely watched case was an appeal by the Bush administration in a case that it lost in late 2003. At issue was whether the prosecution of medical marijuana users under the federal Controlled Substances Act was constitutional.

Under the Constitution, Congress may pass laws regulating a state’s economic activity so long as it involves “interstate commerce” that crosses state borders. The California marijuana in question was homegrown, distributed to patients without charge and without crossing state lines.

The most chilling point from the majority opinion, authored by Justice Stevens is here:

We have never required Congress to legislate with scientific exactitude.

And the fact that this decision was joined by the Supreme suposed most rigorous “original constructionist” gives lie to the entire “activist judge” argument. The fact of the matter is that “they will do what they do, and we will do what we do. Constitution be damned.” This opens the door to any sort of police-state legislation.

Hat Tip to InstaPundit, who has many more links. Of particular interest is Radley Balko:

Thomas was dead-on, and proves to be the only principled federalist with an orginalist view of the Commerce Clause.

[...]

Let it no longer be said that Thomas carries water for Scalia.

He’s easily the most principled and consistent defender of federalism on the court.

Doctors Targeted By The Evil Drug Warriors

This from NYTimes’ Tina Rosenberg:

Federal prosecutors in Virginia want Dr. William Hurwitz, recently convicted on 50 counts of distributing narcotics, to go to prison for life without parole when he is sentenced in mid-April.

For the 50 million or so Americans who suffer from chronic pain, the fate of Dr. Hurwitz should be of some interest. He is a prominent doctor committed to aggressive treatment of pain. His behavior in some cases was inexcusable. Patients for whom he freely provided large prescriptions should, at the very minimum, have been given more close supervision. But malpractice should be cause for loss of license.

Instead, Dr. Hurwitz has been prosecuted as a drug kingpin because some patients sold their pills, although prosecutors never claimed he made a penny from it. That sends a chilling message to doctors who treat people with extreme pain.

[...]

Dozens of doctors have been charged with drug trafficking because the D.E.A. felt they were prescribing too many pills. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons warns doctors to think twice before treating pain. “Discuss the risks with your family,” it says.

One California doctor who prescribed opioids, Frank Fisher, was charged with five counts of murder – including that of a patient who died as a passenger in a car accident. All charges were dropped. A doctor in Florida, James Graves, is serving 63 years for four counts of manslaughter involving overdoses by people who either abused their prescriptions or mixed their prescribed medicines with other drugs.

Your doctor could be next.

Hat Tip: The Agitator, where you’ll also find this.

Celebity Justice

Has-been NFL quarterback is in drug trouble again:

Former USC and Oakland Raiders quarterback Todd Marinovich is serving a 90-day jail term stemming from an arrest in Newport Beach last month for possessing methamphetamine, officials said Monday.

Marinovich, who played at Mater Dei and Capistrano Valley, pleaded guilty last week to a felony count of possessing a controlled substance and two misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and the unauthorized possession of hypodermic needles, said Mark Macaulay of the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Marinovich, 35, was on probation for a 2001 conviction for felony heroin possession.

What? 90 Days?!?!?! I can assure you that had any “average citizen” with Marinovich’s record been up on similar charges, he/she would have been off to the state pen for at least a couple of years.

More Over-The-Top Tactics By The Drug Warriors

Talkleft blogs on the allarming practice of police attempting to get search warrants for people’s homes based upon samples taken from thier doorknobs:

Is it my imagination or are our Fourth Amendment protections shrinking? A U.S. District Court in Utah is considering a challenge to searches of the doorknobs to our homes. It’s a tactic being used around the country and it’s called the Ionscan test. Police swipe a doorknob with a drug-detecting cloth and if the cloth then tests postive for microscopic particles of a controlled substance, they tell a judge they have probable cause to get a search warrant. Do they? It’s up in the air right now.

I am reminded, in this case, of U.S. v. $30,060 (1994):

On November 8, 1994, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit again took the lead in asset forfeiture reform by putting dog alert evidence into its proper perspective.

For the past ten years, the lure of asset forfeiture revenue has prompted law enforcement officers to use dog sniffs as witch- hunting tools to seize cash — any amount of cash — without any other evidence of criminal behavior. So called “drug-sniffing dogs” are supposedly trained to alert to the smell of drugs on money, and their noses, police claim, are so sensitive that they can detect miniscule amounts of drugs. When dogs “alert” to cash, the officers claim that proves that the money has come into contact with drugs, therefore, the money is drug proceeds, and the person whose money was seized is a drug courier. FEAR has long pointed out the falacy of this argument — the dog’s alert may prove there is drug residue on some of the cash, but that proves nothing about the person from whom the money was seized.

In United States v. $30,060, the Ninth Circuit held that a drug dog alert has little probative value in showing that cash was connected to drug trafficking.

The court recognized the fact that “cocaine can be easily transferred simply by shaking hands with someone who has handled the drug: a pharmacist, toxicologist, police officer, or drug trafficker” (quoting Andrew Schneider & Mary Pat Flaherty’s Presumed Guilty series for the Pittsburgh Press, August 1991.) A dollar bill used to snort cocaine goes back into circulation, contaminating all the other bills it comes into contact with — in wallets and cash drawers, the court explained.

The court’s opinion cited reports showing that 75% to 90% of all circulated currency in Los Angeles (the city where the seizure occurred) is contaminated with cocaine residue.

Orin Kerr also has an interesting analysis of this case.

Walters’ Song-And-Dance On “Plan Columbia”

Despite his former gaff, White House Drug Czar Dan Walters now claims Clinton’s “Plan Columbia” is a great success in stemming the tide of cocaine into the US:

Mr Walters was speaking in Washington after visiting Colombia and Mexico.

He said American-backed efforts by those countries had sharply reduced the estimated flow of the drug to the US.

The statement appears to contradict comments he made last week. While in Mexico, he said there was no fall in the amount of cocaine reaching the US.

“We have not yet seen in all these efforts what we’re hoping for on the supply side, which is a reduction in availability,” he said at a news conference in Mexico City last Thursday.

The fact is, while we have turned Columbia into a war zone (as if it wasn’t one already) the supply of cocaine from Peru and Bolivia has just increased to fill the gap.

The Drug Warriors, like school bureaucrats, and so many others in government, keep insisting that success is just around the corner, and we need only to increase their funding to see it. It’s time to learn that success is not to be had, and undesirable in the first place.

The Case For Medical Marijuana Expands

It now appears that marijuana is beneficial in the treatment of brain cancer:

Marijuana Ingredient Inhibits VEGF Pathway Required For Brain Tumor Blood Vessels
Cannabinoids, the active ingredients in marijuana, restrict the sprouting of blood vessels to brain tumors by inhibiting the expression of genes needed for the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).

According to a new study published in the August 15, 2004 issue of the journal Cancer Research, administration of cannabinoids significantly lowered VEGF activity in laboratory mice and two patients with late-stage glioblastoma.

“Blockade of the VEGF pathway constitutes one of the most promising antitumoral approaches currently available,” said Manuel Guzmn, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, with the Complutense University in Madrid, Spain, and the study’s principal investigator.

“The present findings provide a novel pharmacological target for cannabinoid-based therapies.”

Glioblastoma multiforme, the most aggressive form of glioma, strikes more than 7,000 Americans each year and is considered one of the most malignant and deadliest forms of cancer, generally resulting in death within one to two years following diagnosis.

The disease is usually treated with surgery, followed by conventional radiation alone or in combination with chemotherapy. However, the main tumor often evades total destruction, surviving and growing again, eventually killing the patient. For this reason, researchers are actively seeking other therapeutic strategies, some of which might be considered novel.

This, and other scientific evidence, gives lie to the federal government’s listing of marijuana as a “Schedule I” narcotic (those with no valid medical use). It’s time for the drug warriors to stand down on the marijuana front.