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Posts Tagged ‘radley balko’

The Washington Times says so in an editorial full of huffy misdirection and false alternatives. Radley Balko, rightly, takes the piece apart.

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This is so freakin’ hilarious!

For those lazy to follow through the above link, here’s the story. The Republican Liberty Caucus published a piece of news that attempted to portray Radley Balko as a liar. Except that they forgot that Forbes.com is not the same as Foxnews.com. Here’s what the Caucus post stated:

Liberal (and ersatz libertarian) blogger and wanna-be pundit Radley Balko claims on his bio on his blog that he is a bi-weekly columnist for Forbes.com. But an investigation by the RLCIL demonstrates that Mr. Balko has taken extreme liberties — perhaps even license — with the term “bi-weekly.”He makes his claim at, http://www.theagitator.com/about/, indicating, that, in addition to laboring over his poorly written blog, “I’m also a biweekly columnist with FoxNews.com.”

However, the claim is not bourne out by the evidence. We searched through the Forbes.com site, and could find only two URLs, from the summer of 2005, authored by Mr. Balko.

I mean, how could this post possibly get published? This takes shooting yourself in the foot at a completely different plane.

That, and the utter irony of the Caucus lecturing Radley Balko about the meaning of libertarianism. For those unaware, the Republican Liberty Caucus (as Radley himself pointed out in this earlier post) opposes “strange sex”, claims that “pornography is not a free speech issue”, spends its funds denouncing Ayn Rand for not believing in God, thinks that anyone who can support Playboy is a “cultural radical” and opposes one Obama appointee because he, among other things, supports the right of gays to serve in the military and the right of women to have abortions without spousal notification.

The whole thing is so funny. Liberty has some strange friends, but none so demented as this sad organization.

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Wow.

Dear America,

I take it back. I don’t apologize.

Because you know what? It’s none of your goddamned business. I work my ass off 10 months per year. It’s that hard work that gave you all those gooey feelings of patriotism last summer. If during my brief window of down time I want to relax, enjoy myself, and partake of a substance that’s a hell of a lot less bad for me than alcohol, tobacco, or, frankly, most of the prescription drugs most of you are taking, well, you can spare me the lecture.

I put myself through hell. I make my body do things nature never really intended us to endure. All world-class athletes do. We do it because you love to watch us push ourselves as far as we can possibly go. Some of us get hurt. Sometimes permanently. You’re watching the Super Bowl tonight. You’re watching 300 pound men smash each while running at full speed, in full pads. You know what the average life expectancy of an NFL player is? Fifty-five. That’s about 20 years shorter than your average non-NFL player. Yet you watch. And cheer. And you jump up spill your beer when a linebacker lays out a wide receiver on a crossing route across the middle. The harder he gets hit, the louder and more enthusiastically you scream.

Yet you all get bent out of shape when Ricky Williams, or I, or Josh Howard smoke a little dope to relax. Why? Because the idiots you’ve elected to make your laws have have without a shred of evidence beat it into your head that smoking marijuana is something akin to drinking antifreeze, and done only by dirty hippies and sex offenders.

You’ll have to pardon my cynicism. But I call bullshit. You don’t give a damn about my health. You just get a voyeuristic thrill from watching an elite athlete fall from grace–all the better if you get to exercise a little moral righteousness in the process. And it’s hypocritical righteousness at that, given that 40 percent of you have tried pot at least once in your lives.

Here’s a crazy thought: If I can smoke a little dope and go on to win 14 Olympic gold medals, maybe pot smokers aren’t doomed to lives of couch surfing and video games, as our moronic government would have us believe. In fact, the list of successful pot smokers includes not just world class athletes like me, Howard, Williams, and others, it includes Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, the last three U.S. presidents, several Supreme Court justices, and luminaries and success stories from all sectors of business and the arts, sciences, and humanities.

So go ahead. Ban me from the next Olympics. Yank my endorsement deals. Stick your collective noses in the air and get all indignant on me. While you’re at it, keep arresting cancer and AIDS patients who dare to smoke the stuff because it deadens their pain, or enables them to eat. Keep sending in goon squads to kick down doors and shoot little old ladies, maim innocent toddlers, handcuff elderly post-polio patients to their beds at gunpoint, and slaughter the family pet.

Tell you what. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll apologize for smoking pot when every politician who ever did drugs and then voted to uphold or strengthen the drug laws marches his ass off to the nearest federal prison to serve out the sentence he wants to impose on everyone else for committing the same crimes he committed. I’ll apologize when the sons, daughters, and nephews of powerful politicians who get caught possessing or dealing drugs in the frat house or prep school get the same treatment as the no-name, probably black kid caught on the corner or the front stoop doing the same thing.

Until then, I for one will have none of it. I smoked pot. I liked it. I’ll probably do it again. I refuse to apologize for it, because by apologizing I help perpetuate this stupid lie, this idea that what someone puts into his own body on his own time is any of the government’s damned business. Or any of yours. I’m not going to bend over and allow myself to be propaganda for this wasteful, ridiculous, immoral war.

Go ahead and tear me down if you like. But let’s see you rationalize in your next lame ONDCP commercial how the greatest motherfucking swimmer the world has ever seen . . . is also a proud pot smoker.

Yours,

Michael Phelps

For purity, for truth, for passion, for justice, for liberty; this rant has got to be one of the greatest things ever penned. Radley Balko, you rock. If I lived in your neighbourhood, I’d buy you a beer every day.

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I am a long time reader of Radley Balko’s outstanding blog, The Agitator, and I have seldom seen him this jubilant.

From yesterday’s post:

Credit where it’s due: Well done, Mr. Obama. I’m sure we’ll have our differences, but afer your first 40+ hours on the job, this libertarian couldn’t be happier.

The tally:

  • Obama rescinded Bush’s 2001 executive order allowing former presidents, vice presidents, and their heirs to claim executive privilege in determining which of their records get released to the public. Even better, he’s requiring the signature of both his White House counsel and the attorney general before he can classify a document under executive privilege.
  • Issued a memorandum to all executive agencies asking them to come up with a new plan for open government and complying with FOIA requests. [...]
  • Put a freeze on the salaries of top White House aides.
  • Suspended the military trials at Gitmo, and is expected to issue an order closing Gitmo as soon as today.
  • Said this:

    “For a long time now there has been too much secrecy in this city.  [...] The mere fact that you have the legal power to keep something secret does not mean you should use it. The Freedom of Information Act is perhaps the most powerful instrument we have for making our government honest and transparent and holding it accountable. I expect my administration not only to live up to the letter but the spirit of this law.”

  • Yes, it’s only been one day. But this is mighty impressive. Obama’s top priority upon taking office was to sign orders rolling back his predecessor’s expansion of executive power. Put another way, Obama’s top priority upon taking office was to institute limits on his own power.

    That’s something even a cynic like me can celebrate.

    And today:

    Rock ‘n’ Roll:

    President Obama yesterday eliminated the most controversial tools employed by his predecessor against terrorism suspects. [...]Key components of the secret structure developed under Bush are being swept away: The military’s Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, facility, where the rights of habeas corpus and due process had been denied detainees, will close, and the CIA is now prohibited from maintaining its own overseas prisons. And in a broad swipe at the Bush administration’s lawyers, Obama nullified every legal order and opinion on interrogations issued by any lawyer in the executive branch after Sept. 11, 2001.

    It’s worth emphasizing again here these steps Obama’s taking effectively limit his own power. That’s extraordinary.

    [...]

    In that regard, if I may borrow a phrase: mission accomplished.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say mission accomplished. But these are certainly very important steps and ones that libertarians ought to applaud the president for. 

    I have criticized Obama on several occasions on this blog. Undoubtedly I’ll do so on many more. His basic economic philosophy is some kind of pragmatic statism, his ideology stresses on sacrifices and obligations rather than liberty and he displayed some disturbing tendencies towards censorship during the campaign. But he is also a sensible and highly intelligent person and his actions so far have been far more friendly towards freedom than his rhetoric has been (that’s a trade-off I’ll happily take).

    So credit where credit’s due. Well done.

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    The absurdity of the drug war is so gargantuan that a critic simply has no idea where to begin. There are a lot of things that are wrong in this world and a lot of things that are unlibertarian but very few are so wrong, so unlibertarian and so stupid. Yet, ask a common man on the street his opinion about drugs and you will hear ignorance, fear and strong support for the existing policy.

    Much of this craziness is undoubtedly because most people are so used to viewing drugs as ‘evil’ that they have never even stopped to think seriously about the issue. If you are one of them, or you just want to read one article that summarises the collateral damage from the war on drugs, read this piece by Radley Balko.

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    If you wish to effectively advance liberty — yes the kind of liberty that I talk about in this blog — or just make a real difference to the life of someone in need, who should you donate to?

    Check out this great list by Radley Balko. Liberty can thrive only if people who care enough about it do something, and surely a check of $25 or so won’t pinch you too much. Radley’s list include key libertarian organizations, charities that actually work and people who have been unjustly persecuted by the state.

    Among the entities that Radley lists, I currently donate to Reason and the Institute for Justice; excellent organizations both. Once I stop being a poor grad student and get a real job (hopefully in six months or so), I hope to significantly expand my giving for liberty. But those of you reading with a real job already, you really have no excuse ;-)

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    Radley Balko has some unsolicited — and thoughtful — advice for the new president elect.

    Even if Barack does just one (any one) of the things Radley suggests, it will be wonderful.

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    Radley Balko points out the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the war on drugs:

    We’re told that drug war is a moral imperative because, in the words of Walters himself, “dangerous drugs damage [children's] lives and limit their futures.”  But like most temperance zealots, Walters measures success not by actual lives wrecked or ended prematurely, but merely by how many people are and aren’t getting high.

    Switching from the “drugs ruin lives” justification for the drug war itself to “how many people are getting high” when measuring the same drug war’s effectiveness, then, hides a more important statistic:  How many people have had their lives ruined and futures limited by the drug war?  The vast majority of the 873,000 people arrested for marijuana offenses last year, for example, likely had more damage done to their lives by the prohibition of marijuana than could ever be done by the drug itself.

    Such is why drug warriors like William Bennett, Karen Tandy, and Walters can assert with a straight face that alcohol prohibition was, also, a “success.” Sure, the crime rate spiked, alcohol hospitalizations soared, and corruption and contempt for the rule of law was rampant.  But fewer people swallowed down less demon rum.  So, score one for social engineering.

    Sure, deaths from drug overdose have jumped 70 percent, and more than doubled among young people.  But fewer people are smoking pot.  And that means we’re winning.

    As they say, if you repeat a lie enough times, it becomes true. Bennett, Tandy and Walters are proof of that.

    But surely then, if you repeat a truth enough times, as Radley, I and so many other try to do, it should make people listen as well? Isn’t that the least that fairness owes us?

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    Both candidates running for presidency are bad from a libertarian perspective, but, my opinion, as I have often stated on this blog, is that McCain is clearly worse. Radley Balko, who shares that view, has a fine post explaining why.

    Obama is a seriously flawed candidate. And yes, Obama united with a Democratic Congress is a scary proposition. But on the issues I cover and that I think are most important this election, Obama is clearly the better choice. Will he disappoint, even on those issues? Almost assuredly.

    But we’ve had eight years of a GOP administration, and before that eight years of a mostly GOP Congress. The result has been an explosion in the growth of government that by every measure has been the largest since at least the Johnson administration, and by some measures since FDR. I see no reason why a McCain administration would be any different, particularly given that he has made bipartisanship and deal-making the hallmark of his career (and let’s face it, “bipartisanship” is rarely a case where the parties come together to shrink the government–it almost always results in more government). In other words, the GOP has consistently been worse than the Dems even on the issues where they’re supposed to be better.

    I agree. And as I point out in his comments, it is not just about the issues. Obama might have positions I strongly disagree with, but anyone who has followed his career closely or read his works will see that he possesses undoubted intelligence, a good temperament, intellectual curiosity and above all an ability to see both sides of a question (more than McCain does, anyway). Also, as he has demonstrated with his stand on several issues, he prefers a ‘nudge’ to outright force in influencing behavior (see this post of mine). That’s much more than one can say about McCain, who epitomizes authoritarianism.

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    After landing in Columbus, the [Hillary Clinton] campaign entourage headed by motorcade to Zanesville, a town of about twenty-five thousand, sixty miles away, for what was billed as an economic “summit.” When one speaker offered encomiums to Clinton rather than economic prescriptions, she gently reprimanded her, saying, “We’re going to put a moratorium on compliments.” Then, with the bonhomie of a high-school health teacher, she turned the conversation back toward government programs to help people “quit smoking, to get more exercise, to eat right, to take their vitamins.”

    - New Yorker, March 17, 2008

     

    Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.

    - Michelle Obama speech in UCLA, February 3, 2008.

     

    [John McCain] recently proposed legislation requiring every registered sex offender in the country to report all their active email accounts to law enforcement or face prison. He wants to federalize the oversight of professional boxing. He wants yet more vigor in fighting the War on Meth. He has lauded Teddy Roosevelt’s fight against the “unrestricted individualism” of the businessman who “injures the future of all of us for his own temporary and immediate profit.”
    [John McCain] has long agitated for mandatory national service.
    McCain’s attitude toward individuals who choose paths he deems inappropriate is somewhere between inflexible and hostile. “In the Roosevelt code, the authentic meaning of freedom gave equal respect to serf-interest and common purpose, to rights and duties,” McCain writes. “And it absolutely required that every loyal citizen take risks for the country’s sake…. “

    - Reason, April 2007.

     

    H/T to Radley Balko at Reason for the first two excerpts. His response to them mirrors my sentiments:

    But what if I don’t want to give a crap?

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    All evidence points to the fact that everyone would be better off if drugs were legalized. So what makes the war on drugs go on? In this excellent article, Radley Balko glimpses into the mind of a drug warrior.

    We’re told that certain drugs have to be prohibited because they’re too dangerous. But we should also resist efforts to make them less dangerous because doing so might encourage drug use.

    It’s a bizarre argument until you consider the real motivation behind it: In truth, it’s not so much about the harm some drugs do; it’s about an absolute moral opposition to the use of some drugs.

    Even if they were completely harmless, some people simply don’t like the idea that we can ingest chemicals that make us feel good.

    And of course, this moral opposition translates into coercive laws. It always does.

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