Friday, February 6, 2009

The Michael Phelps situation has gotten out of hand

When I first heard about this incident, I was cautiously hoping this could remain little more than a publicity nightmare for Phelps. USA Swimming's recent decision to suspend him for three months shows it cannot. I would find the federation's decision egregious under any circumstances, but it is especially so in this case. When Phelps was convicted in 2004 of driving under the influence, USA Swimming should have reacted in the same manner. It chose not to although Phelps ran a red light and nearly hit a police car.

USA Swimming had this to say in 2004:

"This is not a situation where any anti-doping rule was violated, but we decided to send a strong message to Michael because he disappointed so many people, particularly the hundreds of thousands of USA Swimming member kids who look up to him as a role model and a hero."

What kind of message does it send when you condone behavior that endangers public safety while punishing behavior that does not? It seems that no place in society is safe from the hypocritical tentacles of drug war ideology.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kansas Senate panel OKs stiffer sentences for armed drug felons

This legislation could potentially add one to two years to a drug crime sentence when a firearm is involved. It was initially written to extend sentences five to ten years but a fiscal note to the Judiciary Committee led to an adjustment. One can only hope a bill like this will fail to pass the full body. It is unclear from reading the bill whether this sentencing enhancement would preclude a defendant from being charged separately with criminal possession of a firearm.

It seems that this law is designed to increase the sentence of an offender under false pretense. Firearms are rarely used to commit drug felonies because coercion is not part of drug transactions. Sen. Terry Bruce gives some insight into the rationale behind the bill with this statement from the Kansas Liberty.

"Drugs and violence seem to beget one another, and we definitely want to interrupt that relationship and let drug dealers know that the violence they bring into the community will have an added weight. Its bad enough they are selling narcotics and ruining people’s lives, but then by bringing a firearm along they are also endangering the lives of community members."

Prohibition and violence definitely beget one another. It is always striking to me how lawmakers can blame drug dealers for ruining people lives. They rarely if ever apply the same logic to alcoholic beverage producers. The use of a firearm by a drug dealer endangers public safety, but the mere possession of one does not.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

New Season of "DEA" Starts Feb. 10th

It is disturbing that the only federal agency whose activities can maintain a TV show is the DEAs. The exercise in futility that makes up the daily life of a DEA agent should make viewers sad. Only the most discerning of viewers will ever see this fact through the fog of raids, seizures and agent testimonials about the difference they are making. This quote from DEA Chief of Congressional and Public Affairs, Mary Irene Cooper sums it up very well:

"If you liked the first season of 'DEA,' you'll love the second. Season II delivers more episodes, more action, more dope and more money than viewers have ever seen before. You'll have a front row seat to DEA's hard-charging, relentless special agents risking their lives for the mission. They'll captivate you with their gritty determination and leave you wanting more."

Only the DEA would use its continuing failure as a selling point for a TV show. The mission of any law enforcement agency should be a reduction in the problem they are fighting. The nature of crime often makes this goal unattainable. When you take any business and make it a crime, the goal of stopping that crime will never be achieved. What the DEA calls "gritty determination" is truly pathological. Delusions of grandeur, are necessary to be part of DEA.