Archive for the ‘war on drugs’ category

“Real Men Of Genius”

May 17, 2007

Today we salute you, Mr. Moronic Mule:

Birmingham Police Wednesday announced the seizure of 7 kilos of cocaine and the arrest of two men from a Tuesday morning traffic stop on Interstate 20/59.

Captain Michael Fisher, head of the department’s vice and narcotics division, said the cocaine has a street value of $175,000.

The men whose, identities were not released, have been arrested, but not charged. They are being held in the Birmingham City Jail, Fisher said.

The drugs were discovered in hidden compartments during a traffic stop after the men were pulled over for speeding in a 1995 Buick Park Avenue. They were near the 1st Avenue North exit on I-20/59 and said they were en route to Atlanta from Dallas.

The men, who displayed suspicious behavior, consented to a search.

O.k., the speeding is dumb enough. But why in the h-e-double-hockey-sticks would they consent to a search when they knew they had umpteen thousand dollars worth of cocaine in the car? When I was in law school and read about stuff like this, my reaction was always something like “yeah, they ‘consented,’ right, during a beat down, maybe.” Now, though, I’ve interviewed enough clients to know that, nope, these guys probably just went ahead and told the cops to search the car. Why? I still don’t know, but for some reason people in that situation think it’s going to help them if they let the cops search the car. Like the cops are going to say “Oh, well, we found all this cocaine, but because you were honest with us, we’ll let you go this time.” As these guys are in the process of finding out, that’s delusional. When it comes to requests to search, the only safe response is to just say no.

Anyway, criminals don’t have a monopoly on stupidity. The second salute is to this swat team (thanks Loretta):

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Wasting Resources?

May 3, 2007

In the B’ham News today: 

Two separate traffic stops by the Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies turned up several hundred pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $330,000, authorities said Wednesday.

But to find those two “bad guys” the cops probably searched eighteen innocent people:

About 1 in 10 searches during a traffic stop uncovered evidence of a possible crime

In 11.6% of searches conducted during a traffic stop in 2005, police found drugs, an illegal weapon, open containers of alcohol, or other illegal items. Consent and nonconsent searches turned up evidence of criminal wrong-doing at similar rates.

In addition to the costs born by those innocent drivers, there’s the cost of prosecuting the two arrested drivers. I certainly don’t know the number, but I know it is a complicated process and no one involved works for free. Also, don’t forget that all the resources courts, prosecutors, investigators, forensic scientists, prisons and defense attorneys spend on marijuana prosecutions are resources not spent on prosecutions for rapes, murders and robberies.

And, of course, taking those drugs off the marker won’t have any impact whatsoever on the drug trade in the locality for which they were destined. While the cops were arresting these guys, who knows how many other deliveries zipped right on past them.

So we’re spending all these resources in a losing battle to prevent people from taking a drug that poses no more danger to the users or society than do legal intoxicants like alcohol. Sounds like government at its best. 

UPDATE: Really, what’s so bad about this:

Another Reason To Home School

January 3, 2007

This probably won’t bother many folks, but I think it’s interesting:

Sophomore Josh Reeves arrived at Gulf Shores High on a routine morning and was quickly summoned to the office. Once there, Reeves learned he must immediately provide a urine sample as part of the school’s random drug-testing policy. Reeves — a fullback on the Dolphins’ football team and an infielder on the baseball team — stepped into the restroom and returned to class minutes later.

“I like it because it keeps everybody straight,” Reeves said of the testing procedure. “It really didn’t matter to me. The kids that don’t do drugs don’t care about it, because they know they’re not going to get into trouble. The kids that do do drugs, they don’t like it because they will get in trouble.”

There’s also a third group of people, like myself, who really resent being treated as a criminal despite the absence of any individualized evidence, or even suspicion, that they’ve done anything wrong. Unless the authorities – in this case the school – have some concrete evidence that a particular person has violated a clear rule, then the authorities ought to be required to leave that particualr person the heck alone.

But those of us who place a high value on individual freedom and dignity have already lost the battle over school drug testing. Scotus has upheld random drug tests in schools: Vernonia School Dist. 47j v. Acton upheld tests for athletes and Board of Education v. Earls upheld random tests for students involved in any extra-curricular activities.

Both cases reasoned that because school students are already subjected to thorough control and the tests were used in a very limited manner, the tests were reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Justice Scalia, writing in Vernonia:

Central, in our view, to the present case is the fact that the subjects of the Policy are (1) children, who (2) have been committed to the temporary custody of the State as schoolmaster.

Traditionally at common law, and still today, unemancipated minors lack some of the most fundamental rights of self determination–including even the right of liberty in its narrow sense, the right to come and go at will. They are subject, even as to their physical freedom, to the control of their parents or guardians. See 59 Am.Jur. 2d §10 (1987). When parents place minor children in private schools for their education, the teachers and administrators of those schools stand in loco parentis over the children entrusted to them. In fact, the tutor or schoolmaster is the very prototype of that status. As Blackstone describes it, a parent “may . . . delegate part of his parental authority, during his life, to the tutor or schoolmaster of his child; who is then in loco parentis, and has such a portion of the power of the parent committed to his charge, viz. that of restraint and correction, as may be necessary to answer the purposes for which he is employed.” 1 W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 441 (1769). . . .

Having considered the scope of the legitimate expectation of privacy at issue here, we turn next to the character of the intrusion that is complained of. We recognized in Skinner that collecting the samples for urinalysis intrudes upon “an excretory function traditionally shielded by great privacy.” Skinner, 489 U. S., at 626. We noted, however, that the degree of intrusion depends upon the manner in which production of the urine sample is monitored. Ibid. Under the District’s Policy, male students produce samples at a urinal along a wall. They remain fully clothed and are only observed from behind, if at all. Female students produce samples in an enclosed stall, with a female monitor standing outside listening only for sounds of tampering. These conditions are nearly identical to those typically encountered in public restrooms, which men, women, and especially school children use daily. Under such conditions, the privacy interests compromised by the process of obtaining the urine sample are in our view negligible.

The other privacy invasive aspect of urinalysis is, of course, the information it discloses concerning the state of the subject’s body, and the materials he has ingested. In this regard it is significant that the tests at issue here look only for drugs, and not for whether the student is, for example, epileptic, pregnant, or diabetic. See Skinner, supra, at 617. Moreover, the drugs for which the samples are screened are standard, and do not vary according to the identity of the student. And finally, the results of the tests are disclosed only to a limited class of school personnel who have a need to know; and they are not turned over to law enforcement authorities or used for any internal disciplinary function.

It sounds like the Baldwin policy is in accord with these Scotus cases. The tests are completely private, the results are not included with the student’s academic record, and then they are destroyed upon graduation. Most importantly, there is no invlovement of law enforcement.

Each student is given a unique, computer-generated number that is different from his Social Security number — a safeguard that Assistant Superintendent Terry Knight said is intended to guard against identity theft. A computer program at EDPM randomly selects the numbers. The student’s unique number — not the student’s name — is attached to the sample. “No one at the lab knows the identity of the urine sample,” Ash said.

Ash said urine samples are the most reliable form of drug testing, as opposed to blood tests or hair samples. Students being tested go into a restroom stall and provide a urine sample, Ash said, and a trained technician then takes the specimen. The urine is then divided and sealed into an A sample and a B sample. The A sample is sent to one of 61 federally approved labs for the drug screening. Ash said that the gas mass spectrometry test used to confirm results is accurate in its findings to one in 10 million.

If a test comes back positive, the student’s parent is contacted. The student is not affected by a positive result if he is taking over-the-counter or prescription medication that explains the test outcome. If a parent disputes the positive test, the B sample will be sent to a separate lab and tested with the same meticulous method. “This is designed to give the student maximum protection,” Ash said.

Drug-testing records are not attached to the student’s academic transcript, and are destroyed when the student graduates, Knight said. “We shred all of those records, and all that will be erased from the computer bank once they leave high school,” he said. “It doesn’t affect their grades in any way. The only thing it will affect is their extracurricular activities and driving. … Law enforcement will not be involved in any way.”

I can live with this. Don’t like it. Think it teaches kids they belong to the state, rather than the reverse. But I can live with it.

Alabama Baptists Anathematize Stuf-Mart

November 17, 2006

They had their annual meeting this week at Six Flags Over Jesus Hunter Street Baptist Church in B’Ham. You can find all their resolutions here. I’ll highlight two.

First, Wal-Mart is evil because it does business with the homersexshuls:

WHEREAS, Alabama Baptists have long supported and believed in the biblical teachings concerning the homosexual lifestyle and the sanctity of marriage being between one man and one woman, and have supported the constitutional ban on homosexual marriage; and

WHEREAS, more than 81% of Alabamians recently voted in favor of The Sanctity of Marriage Amendment to the Alabama Constitution; and

WHEREAS, many Alabama Baptists regularly patronize Wal-Mart because of its appeal to the average consumer and its convenient locations; and

WHEREAS, according to the American Family Association, Wal-Mart in August of 2006 asked and received permission to join the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, pledging to give them $25,000.00 and fund two conferences scheduled by the NGLCC.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, we the messengers to the Alabama Baptist State Convention meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, November 14-15, 2006, call upon our denominational leadership, pastors, and church members to inform Wal-Mart at the local and national levels of our biblical beliefs concerning the homosexual lifestyle and our support of the constitutional ban on homosexual marriage; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we encourage Wal-Mart to reconsider its actions which are contrary to the biblical beliefs of many of its customers; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that we encourage the 3,249 Alabama Baptist churches and their members to pray that corporate leaders at Wal-Mart as well as other companies will conduct their business in accordance with biblical principles.

Now, if the problem is that Wal-Mart is not conducting its business “in accordance with biblical principles,” then why no resolution about sex discrimination? Or making people work overtime, but not paying them for it? Or selling clothes made from two kinds of cloth, for that matter? Why does this one particular violation get them in such a tizzy? 

Two, and this is my favorite, if you drink, you are going to end up as a junky living on the streets:

WHEREAS, Resolution No. 5 was overwhelmingly adopted at the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, concerning the support of organizations that educate people on the destructive effects of alcohol and that promote abstinence; and

WHEREAS, the Bible warns of the dangers associated with alcohol use (e.g., Proverbs 23:29-35); and

WHEREAS, alcohol use has led to countless injuries and deaths on Alabama’s highways; and

WHEREAS, the breakup of families and homes can be directly and indirectly attributed to alcohol use by one or more members of a family; and

WHEREAS, the use of alcohol as a recreational beverage has been shown to lead individuals down a path toward the use and abuse of other kinds of drugs, both legal and illegal; and

WHEREAS, alcohol use is a problem that directly or indirectly impacts many Alabama Baptist churches.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, we the messengers to the Alabama Baptist State Convention meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, November 14-15, 2006, express our total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing and consuming of alcoholic beverages; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Alabama Baptists take an active role in supporting local legislation that is intended to curb alcohol use in our communities and nation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge Alabama Baptists to be actively involved in educating students and adults concerning the destructive nature of alcoholic beverages; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that we commend organizations and ministries that treat alcohol-related problems from a biblical perspective, and organizations, such as the Alabama Citizens Action Program (ALCAP), that promote abstinence and encourage legislation designed to limit the sale and use of alcoholic beverages.

I commented on the National Convention’s version of this resolution here. Contrary to the resolution, the Bible does NOT warn “of the dangers associated with alcohol use.” And it most certainly does not support teetotalism. Here’s the passage quoted by the resolution:

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
       Who has strife? Who has complaints?
       Who has needless bruises? Who has    bloodshot eyes?

 30 Those who linger over wine,
       who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.

 31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
       when it sparkles in the cup,
       when it goes down smoothly!

 32 In the end it bites like a snake
       and poisons like a viper.

 33 Your eyes will see strange sights
       and your mind imagine confusing things.

 34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
       lying on top of the rigging.

 35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!
       They beat me, but I don’t feel it!
       When will I wake up
       so I can find another drink?”

Wonderful writing, but by no means support for a total ban on alcohol. Who has the problem, according to the passage? “Those who linger over wine.” Alcohol is no different than anything else in the world: Good in moderation, but subject to abuse.

Like I said in the earlier post, if the Baptists think alcohol is inherently bad, then they need to condemn Jesus too:

Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into very good wine. He was called a wine bibber.  And don’t forget Psalm 104, where we learn God

causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;

And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.

Don’t misread me, I used to be a Baptist, and plenty of my family members still are. But this kind of stuff is just dumb. The old joke was that the sum of Baptist ethics was “don’t drink smoke cuss or chew, or hang around with girls who do.” I’ve always thought the Bible had a much more robust message than that, and I think most Baptists do, too. These resolutions, though, simply reinforce the stereotype of Baptists as people who don’t belive in fun and who do believe in cherry picking parts of the Bible to support their own prejudices.

Now I know the true faithful will answer that Christians should only be concerned with what God thinks about them, and not with what other people might think. I have no quibble with that principle other than to point out that what people think about God may be affected by what the faithful say and do.  

Then again, I suppose having a beer after work tonight could lead to rolling doobies tomorrow, and we all know what that eventually leads to:

Go Granny Go Granny Go Granny Go

October 12, 2006

Seems the little old lady from Pasadena isn’t the only senior citizen with a need for speed:

Police made a shocking discovery in a quiet Decatur retirement community Wednesday.

Residents sat on their porches and watched as Decatur police removed meth-lab components from an apartment at Harbor Square, 3201 Sumac Road S.W.

Neighbors said that while they thought something suspicious was taking place in the apartment, a methamphetamine lab was one of the last things they expected police to find inside.

Come on, sing along:

You can see her on the street just gettin her kicks now

Go granny, go granny, go granny go

With her [ephedrine] and her [red phosphorous] now

Go granny, go granny, go granny go

Shes gonna get a ticket now sooner or later

cause she cant keep her foot off the accelerator