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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tail wags dog

DEA Chief Michele Leonhart addressed a national group of Sheriffs recently and reportedly ripped the nation's president for comparing marijuana and alcohol. 
Kern County, Calif., Sheriff Donny Youngblood, president of the Major Counties Sheriffs’ Association, the group that sponsored Leonhart’s talk Tuesday at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., said Leonhart called out Obama for what Youngblood described as “irresponsible” comments that were a “big slap in the face” to cops who have lost their lives keeping drugs off the street.
“This is a woman who has spent 33 years of her life fighting drug abuse in the DEA, her entire life. To have the president of the United States publicly say marijuana was a bad habit like alcohol was appalling to everyone in that room,” Youngblood said. “I think the way that she felt was that it was a betrayal of what she does for the American people in enforcing our drug laws. ... She got a standing ovation.”
Among other things, the DEA chief was peeved that the White House had a softball game with a pro legalization group. (For your information, the stoners won) And supposedly somebody flew a flag made out of industrial hemp in the capitol. Horrors.

I think that there is an interesting corollary between the actions and views of the people who have spent their lives fighting the drug wars and the people that are involved in the spy and security monolith. The soldiers have decided that it is apparently their job to write policy, not to mention perpetuate their own bureaucracies. And they are making decisions that fly high above their pay grade, without knowledge or consent of the American people.

Marijuana is a major funding source for law enforcement, of course they want to keep it illegal. How else are they going to be able to keep all of the new eye in the sky drones flying over your house looking for patches or better yet, reading your building's heat signature? Prohibition is big business and it keeps a lot of cops and prison guards employed.

The spooks are equally protective regarding losing any of the fancy new toys in their technological arsenal, toys that suck up our personal data in ways never conceived by our founding fathers. And it goes without saying that the opinions of the American people are meaningless to them. An American public I might add, that overwhelmingly favors an end to warrantless surveillance and a clear majority of whom want to legalize marijuana.

Somehow I was harboring the strange delusion that at some point the power of our country ultimately flowed from its citizens. Yet our leaders, the Diane Feinsteins and Mike Rogers of this world, instead treat the people of this country in the most patronizing and contemptuous manner. They will make these important decisions in our best interests.

One of the most interesting narratives in Meacham's Thomas Jefferson book The Art of Power was the battle between the northeastern federalists, many of whom actually wanted to rejoin the monarchy and the Republicans, of whom our third President was a standard bearer, and who wanted a weaker federal power and stronger individual democratic rights.

The battle has continued throughout our history as a nation, never quite solved. The Federalists believed in a patrician class of aristocrats making decisons, white, male, landed gentry. And they still do. I was surprised to learn that in the early days of our nation it was actually a crime not to belong to the Anglican church.

John Inglis
One of the most interesting interviews I have read on the whole security apparatus was NPR's Steve Inskeep's recent interview with Deputy Director John "Chris" Inglis at the NSA. Inglis is retiring soon, he sounds like a very decent fellow and I wish him well in his future pursuits. Inglis addresses and tempers much of the wild speculation regarding the NSA in the interview.

I am sure that the great majority of employees and contractors are patriotic Americans who use utmost caution in dealing with their fellow citizens personal information. But my skeptical mind says that if one Snowden could make off with the crown jewels so easily, surely another could and who knows what kind of nefarious characters will have access down the road? And with one minor plot actually discovered in eight years, it it unreasonable to ask if the disease is worth the cure?

After Watergate and the Church hearings, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the FBI dirty tricks, why would any sane American trust this or any future government? History teaches us that it would be foolish to. Why do they put us in a position where we are forced to?

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