In light of recent events, TruthOut points us to a 2015 essay from Rachel Herzing explaining how we might get to a "police-free future," by advancing reforms "that lead toward the erosion of policing power rather than reinforcing it. I support a lot of the reforms described herein, but just as I dislike calls to "dismantle government" because politicians put their donors' interests ahead of ours, I also remain in the keep-police-but-oversee-them-more-effectively camp. Even if I were to accept, without qualification, the notion that the sole function of police is "armed protection of state interests," I still insist that we are the state, and if the state doesn't act in our interests, we change it into one that does.
Uh oh: ProPublica reports that police all over America are using a $2, 40-year-old drug test that routinely gives false positive readings. You think science has changed any over the last 40 years? Think maybe chemical processes have become more accurate? Among the problems: the kits don't have precise directions, and lots of other things turn these chemicals a different color. Moreover, the DOJ declared, shortly after these kits came out, that they shouldn't be admissible in court -- but, it turns out, unscrupulous/stressed people in law enforcement and the courts can work around that pretty easily, simply by pretending it's not true. I've worked enough jobs to know how overworked police officers and lab techs are, but that doesn't excuse the corporations that put out drug testing kits like they work.
Why are we having such trouble passing incremental criminal justice reform such as the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act? Alexander Bolton at The Hill suggests it's because Senate Majority Leader/Greatest and Brightest Shining True American King of Presidents Mitch McConnell doesn't have the cojones to face down two Republican Senators who might object. The bill's sponsor, Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, has carried plenty of water for Republicans over the years, but I doubt Mr. McConnell conceives of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act as a payment for that water-carrying -- rather, he considers the water-carrying as payment for all the times he's let Mr. Grassley alone to do, you know, actual governing and oversight on behalf of his constituents.
John Cheese at Cracked talks about "The Four Types of People on Welfare Nobody Talks About." The article contains many necessary insights -- a substantial chunk of welfare recipients get it for seven months or less and then don't need it any more, which is kind of how it's supposed to work, while more than 90 percent of welfare benefits go to disabled folks, seniors, and folks who are also working (i.e., at McDonald's or WalMart), which means folks who constantly complain about lazy people getting free money are either stupid or deliberately lying to you. And don't miss Mr. Cheese's own reminiscences about being on welfare as a child. Spoiler alert: despite not asking to be born, he felt quite ashamed of himself.
States that have legalized medicinal marijuana saw a drop in Medicare drug spending between 2010 and 2013. If it were legal everywhere, you might see a half-billion dollar drop nationwide, which isn't a very big part of Medicare's budget -- but, ironically enough, it's very, very hard to research the medicinal benefits of pot, which means some folks using pot to treat their problems probably shouldn't do that. I suspect the big pharma corporations that make money off the antidepressants and painkillers that pot can replace will advance this point posthaste -- without recommending, of course, that we should make marijuana research much easier than it is.
Finally, former U.S. House Rep/talk-radio fixture Joe Walsh said this on Twitter after the shootings of at least a dozen Dallas police officers: "This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter (sic) punks. Real America is coming after you." (Naturally, he deleted the tweet not too long afterward.) While this flatugasm may not qualify as "threatening the President" (and only because the threat is rather non-specific), it certainly qualify as "being an asshole in public." Well, they always say you should do what you're good at.