Saturday, December 31, 2011

Today in Reefer Madness

Here is a story that perfectly illustrates the pernicious effects of cannabis. Indeed, the sufferers in this instance have entirely lost the use of their minds, if the reporting is broadly accurate. As is invariably the case when Reefer Madness is diagnosed, the victims are again law enforcement officers, who this time were so sure that some guy's car had some pot stashed in it some place, they totally destroyed it in the process of "searching" it.

Personally, I think the reporter is being too kind to the police when he takes at his word the attorney who says

"They went way beyond the scope of this," said Jeffrey Gold, a criminal defense attorney who taught search and seizure courses at the Burlington County Police Academy. "Once they got into it, they started tearing the car apart. They made it worse, in the hopes that they would make it better by striking gold."
In fact it is highly plausible that the police decided they were going to crush this obnoxious little f*cker who got in their faces at the traffic stop and just decided to wreck his vehicle on the pretext of "searching" it, and they have been entirely and unpleasantly surprised by the fact that there have been any consequences for them. Given that the police enjoy a kind of de facto immunity when it comes to misconduct of this sort, they have every right to be.

Think about it for a moment. You're out driving around on a Saturday night with a friend and get pulled over for a burnt out tail light or something. The cops decide they don't like you and start trash-talking you, one thing leads to another, and on Monday morning there you are, without your car. You also are staring at charges of evidence tampering and resisting arrest. This is serious stuff you're facing, and for no other reason that you didn't lick the cops' boots when they started in on you. It canwill seriously disrupt your life, if your life is that of the majority of Americans: How are you going to get to work with no car? And dealing with those false criminal charges, what about the time off work for that? Not to mention the lawyer's bills, or the towing and storage fees you'll have to pay to get your car back. Just getting busted, with no charges ever making it to court, can be a pretty heavy blow to someone living paycheck-to-paycheck with no employment security. And that's before it turns out that the cops have totally wrecked your car, just for kicks.

The police know this, of course, and while they will not trash someone's life like this for nothing (after all, doing the deed involves some effort and paperwork on their part) nothing seems to urge the fullest exercise of these extralegal powers like the smell of pot, real or imagined. And while trashing a citizen's life is not effortless for the police, it is generally almost entirely without risk of adverse consequence. After all, the Supremes have said that it's OK for a prosecutor to convict a guy on a capital charge, then keep him on death row for 14 years, all the while possessing evidence that the guy was not guilty and knowing that the defense was unaware of that evidence. That's not prosecutorial misconduct against which the convicted guy has any recourse, so why should a cop worry about a little thing like throwing somebody out of work, or destroying the most valuable thing he owns?

I'm surprised that Geico paid out for Richardson in this case. The theme of the police using a "search" to destroy the property of a "drug suspect" is a well-worn one, and I have heard of houses being rendered uninhabitable in this way, with no recourse for the victims. It will be interesting to see how this eventually plays out. If it does go to court the cops will have a different sort of opponent than they're used to in cases like this.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

War on Christmas


Israel and the US

We deserve one another I guess.

Opting out of the civilized world together.

Obama Republicans

OK, so I am going to make my first 2012 Presidential election prediction. If, as they appear to be dead-set on doing, the Republicans manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of the victory you'd expect them to win (judging from the state of the economy and the listlessness of the Administration in doing anything about it) on November 7 et.seq. there will be a lot of ink spilled about the "Obama Republicans" who made the President's re-election happen.

I base this prediction on the conversations I had with various relatives over the last few days. These are educated people of the asset-owning class, who probably never have voted for a Democrat for any office, ever. I guess they're what you'd call "country-club Republicans," not the guys my Grandpa used to bitch about ("The trouble with this country is that there's too many people who think they're Republicans as soon as they get two $10 bills to rub together." Adjusting for inflation they'd have to be Benjamins these days, but he had the principle down pat.) Some of these people first marked a ballot for Herbert Hoover, and they have not chosen a D since. They all say they're voting for Obama.

I post this now with no further analysis, just to note the phenomenon and establish priority for my prediction, if things do work out that way. I did try googling the exact phrase "Obama Republican" and the only thing that came close to meaning what I had in mind was the link to this Wikipedia page about a few thousand voters in 2008.