We Own this City Review

We own this city

I watched the last episode of We Own this City on HBO and largely enjoyed it. It’s based on a book by Baltimore journalist Justin Fenton and created by David Simon of The Wire fame. It focuses on the Gun Trace Task Force led by Sergeant Wayne Jenkins in Baltimore.

The Wire is a great show about the problems of drugs in Baltimore specifically but all across our nation and, indeed the world. It doesn’t sugarcoat the violence and spares neither the police nor the drug dealers. We Own this City continues in the same manner and I came away discouraged about the world in which we live.

That being said, I think it’s a good show and well-worth watching, particularly by those invested in perpetuating the War on Drugs.

The Premise of We Own this City

The Gun Trace Task Force in Baltimore engaged in criminal activity that resulted in many of its members being given lengthy prison sentences, particular their leader, Jenkins. They stole money, stole and resold drugs, took money from taxpayers for overtime they didn’t actually perform, and engaged in generally despicable and illegal behavior with impunity. Bullying, harassing, assaulting, framing, and otherwise attacking the citizens of Baltimore.

The six-episode mini-series details their behavior in horrifying detail and ends with the sentencing phase of their crimes.

The Quality of We Own this City

The acting, writing, sets, camera work, and everything else in We Own this City is excellent. It’s a slick and well put-together show. It’s a bit jarring seeing actors like Jamie Hector in role-reversal from The Wire but I managed to overcome that eventually.

The biggest problem with the quality of the show is the non-linear time flow. I understand they wanted to start with the arrest of Jenkins but the constant back-and-forth with time made the show difficult to process. They tried to make it easier by having Jon Bernthal, who played Jenkins with frightening aplomb, adjust his facial hair indicating the time frame.

The display of dates on the screen didn’t really help me follow the story. Is this happening before the scene we just saw? After? When is this? Has the previous scene we just watched already happened when we’re watching this scene or is it going to happen later? Very confusing. That’s pretty much my only problem with the show.

Who Watched We Own this City?

I wonder if the target audience of We Own this City actually watched it or is it a case of preaching to the choir. I have no doubt Simon and Fenton are passionate. They well-understand the War on Drugs and the horrors it begat.

The sad truth is the people who will watch this show already understand the problems associated with the War on Drugs. The people who must be convinced of its folly are not going to watch, at least I don’t think so. They don’t want to see beloved police officers turned into nothing more than the single largest criminal enterprise in the history of the world. Hyperbole? No, I’m afraid not. Police are the worst criminals in the United States.

Treat Williams Daggers the Problem

Now, having read the previous paragraph I feel certain you think I’m anti-police. Let me explain why that is not the case.

Treat Williams plays Brian Grabler, a retired officer who understand the real problem. He tries to explain its nature to Wunmi Mosaku. She plays Nicole Steele an attorney from the Civil Rights Division of the Justice department.

Near the end of the last episode, Grabler asks Steele what’s not in the report detailing the many systemic problems in the Baltimore Police Department. What’s not in the report? She doesn’t understand and he must lead her to the answer.

The problem isn’t law enforcement officers. It’s not a legal system willing to stomp the rights of citizens. It’s not the violence on the streets committed by those plying the drug trade and those trying to stop them. It’s not that police departments are completely at odds with the communities they serve, enemies unwilling to cooperate.

The problem is the War on Drugs. It’s the root cause of everything else. Its corrupted our legal system. Its corrupted our police departments. Its corrupted city hall. The War on Drugs hasn’t stopped drugs, its just created an army of amoral criminals. Police officers, lawyers, judges, politicians. All engaged in criminal activity wrapped in good intentions and driven by the money the drug trade creates.

The system forces law enforcement officers to become criminals. Judges to twist the Constitution into a laughable parody of words used to enact that which it is designed to prevent. Politicians to actively work against their constituents.


We Own this City is an excellent show marred by a confusing timeline. It’s also a show that clearly illuminates the errors of the War on Drugs. Sadly, the people who need to understand the root cause of the problem have little interest in fixing it. Those who understand the problem don’t have the power to fix it.

Tom Liberman

General Salvador Cienfuegos Charges Dropped


United States Attorney General William Barr dropped all charges against General Salvador Cienfuegos who, among other things, informed Mexican Drug Cartels who was an inside informant resulting in the murder of said person. Why did William Barr do this, well, he claims it’s because Mexico wants to charge Cienfuegos, but the real reason is to make sure that Mexican authorities continue to cooperate with the US in drug interdiction.

Let’s be clear, the United States has many, many Mexican nationals in our prisons related to drug crimes. What makes Cienfuegos special is that he has friends in high places and our completely corrupt government is happy to do them a favor.

In continuing to be clear, Cienfuegos is responsible for far more of the drug trafficking coming into the United States than a thousand low-level drug dealers. Our willingness to lock up a person selling drugs on the corner while ignoring the entire top of the supply chain is a damning indictment of those who bleat earnestly about the dangers of drugs in the United States.

I’m against the War on Drugs for any number of reasons. I don’t think we should be prosecuting this war and I think the interdiction effort has caused more harm to the citizens of the United States than any other policy of government in the history of the country.

However, if you are for the War on Drugs, if you believe this scourge must be stopped, then you should be calling for Barr to be hanged by his neck until dead, I won’t hold my breath. The reason you won’t is because you are not really invested in ending the War on Drugs. This war fills the pockets of not only Cienfuegos but law enforcement agencies throughout this country. We are completely corrupted by the money and Barr’s head is deeply in the trough.

The government takes your tax dollars by the billion and redistributes this wealth to law enforcement agencies across the country. This money is the primary way the Attorney General of the United States controls law enforcement. It is the way government bribes local officials into doing their bidding.

When Barr claims Cienfuegos will be tried and imprisoned in his own country, he is taking part in the grand deception. When Barr funnels money to law enforcement to war on drugs, they purchase equipment that allows them to crush freedom across the country, from Lafayette Square to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Drugs have won, not because they are legal, but because they are illegal. We the People are losing.

Tom Liberman

Oregon Leads the Way on Drug Legalization

Drug Legalization

All praise Oregonians and their enlightened stance on drug legalization. Hail magnificent, glorious Oregon for defying an out of control federal government led by decree wielding autocrats issuing executive orders as a way to wage war on the citizens they perceive as the enemy.

Oregon just decriminalized small amounts of cocaine, heroin, and LSD, among others so-called hard drugs. This action, this glorious defiance of an overreaching federal and state governments warms the cockles of my heart, wherever they might be found.

The War on Drugs is a war on the citizens of the United States, there is no question this war has caused more misery than any other federal program in the history of the country. I’ve written numerous times on why this war destroys families, communities, law enforcement, the legal profession, and everything it touches so I will not wax poetic today. Today I shower praise on Oregon for charging forward.

The entirety of whether or not marijuana, or any other drug, is something federal or state governments can regulate is wrapped up in a cased called Gonzales v. Raich and it is interesting reading. Drug legalization is freedom for people.

The point here is fairly straight-forward from my perspective. Those in power like telling you what to do and drug legalization is something they don’t want. The pecking order is Federal, State, Local. The party in power at each level enjoys forcing their view of right and wrong on everyone they control. It is my opinion the Constitution of the United States was written with a full understanding of the nature of humans to want to force others. The powers of the Federal Branch are barely limited anymore, what the Federal Government wants, it gets. What the State wants, it gets.

There are few solutions left to freedom lovers who have no desire to dictate to anyone else how she or he leads life. We are overwhelmed by do-gooders who know what gun I should own, what weed I should smoke, what medical procedure I should have, what religion I should pursue. We the People must pass laws, in our municipalities and states, contrary to the authoritarian decrees of out of control federal and state governments.

This is the power of the people. Well done, Oregon.

Tom Liberman

The Problem is there was no Crime in the Breonna Taylor Case

Breonna Taylor

The Breonna Taylor case is making a lot of headlines and people are upset only one criminal charge, reckless endangerment, was filed against the officers. The problem isn’t that a single charge was filed, the problem is that everything the officers did, except shooting blindly into a room, was perfectly legal. The problem is that none of them can be charged with a crime.

The problem is that police can, and all to frequently do, murder people legally. It’s vitally important to understand this is a problem for the people and for the police, both are the victims here.

This is the state of our legal system as a result of the failed War on Drugs that allows police to kill with legal impunity, to steal your money with legal impunity, to throw flashbang grenades into baby cribs with impunity, to intimidate, harass, abuse, imprison, torture, absolutely legally. That’s the problem and if you don’t see it, you’ll be a victim soon enough under the unlikely circumstances that you have not been already.

The problem isn’t the police, the problem is our society, our laws, our willingness to give up freedom and reduce safety at the same time.

Many right-wing Trump supporters out there are angry about what is going on to poor people in this nation. What’s happening to poor black people is exactly why you voted for Trump, except it was being done to you. You in West Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, and lots of other places were left out when the rich got richer, laws designed to protect wealthy people left you out in the cold in a crap job without enough money to feed your kids and no hope for advancement.

Farmers see their land taken by corporate bankers. Energy workers see their livelihood being taken from them. President Trump promised you he’d stop it all but instead he’s redirected your anger to poor, largely minority people, who are being trampled upon in exactly the same way. These people are your allies in this fight. Antifa, Alt-Right, Libertarian, BLM, the police themselves; the Trumps and Pelosis of the world want you to fight each other so you don’t line them up against a wall and put a clip into their center mass.

Breonna Taylor is dead because you gave away your freedom. You stood by and watched as politicians passed laws for the War on Drug, the War Powers Act, The National Emergency Act. You stood by while local officials made it impossible for you to drive to work without violating the law and if you get on the wrong side of the police department, they will figure out a way to fine you to within an inch of your life to finance their bloated government.

Breonna Taylor was absolutely murdered by police who got a stupid no-knock warrant to kick in her door with guns drawn because she was dating a guy who sold drugs. She was murdered and it’s not against the law. That’s the problem. Police officers, everyone wants to kill you because politicians have set you up to take the fall, no matter how much they pretend to be on your side, they are murdering you. They are sending you out to take bullets for them.

You all need to figure this out. All those organizations fighting each other in the streets of Louisville need to get together, then we will actually see change.

Tom Liberman

Shai Werts and the Bird Shit Cocaine

Shai Werts

A young man named Shai Werts who plays football for Georgia Southern was arrested for cocaine possession the other day and the entire thing gives me yet another chance to rant against the so-called War on Drugs. The entire episode illustrates how police use the War on Drugs to persecute those they don’t like, which, I’m sure you’ll find shocking, is most often minorities.

Here’s what happened. Werts was supposedly speeding on a secluded road and an officer tried to pull him over. Werts was uncomfortable in the situation, called 911, and drove to a more populated location followed by police. When he did pull over, he explained why he didn’t stop immediately.

Our finest officers then scraped bird shit off his car hood, put it in their field kits, claimed it tested positive as cocaine, and arrested him. Werts told the officers it was bird shit but they weren’t going to put up with that excuse. Later, when subjected to a real laboratory test, the substance turned out not to be cocaine, what a surprise.

Here’s what really happened. A young black man was rightly afraid for his life when the police pulled him over for speeding. That alone is sad testament to the reality in which we live. He was also likely afraid they’d plant drugs on him because that is also a reality of the world. So, he forced the officers to follow him to a less secluded location. That pissed off the officers. They decided they wanted to punish him. They found the flimsiest of excuses to harass him. Did the bird shit actually test positive in the field kit? Who knows, field kits and drug sniffing dogs are notoriously unreliable.

This situation was simply officers abusing their authority to harass someone who did something they didn’t like. If you’re a minority living in this country, you aren’t at all surprised by this. If you’re not a minority you probably don’t even believe it happens, you’re mad at me, and will write nasty comments about how I hate police.

This is the War on Drugs. An excuse to harass citizens, steal from them, put them in prison, and be a general bully. This behavior has effectively alienated law enforcement from the communities they are trying to serve. I’ve written before how this is a tragic situation both for citizens and police so I won’t reiterate.

What does it say when police scrape bird shit off the hood of a car in order to harass people they don’t like? What does it say that we put up with drug detecting field kits that mistake bird shit for cocaine, that is if we don’t just assume the officers were lying?

Close your eyes to the travesty that is the War on Drugs and reap the consequences.

Tom Liberman

Millions to Stop Drug Trafficking in Haiti to no End

Haiti Port au PrinceFor the last two years a pair of Drug Enforcement Agent whistleblowers have been fighting their way through the system in regards to an incident in Haiti. The big complaint is that a large shipment of drugs was found by dock workers and immediately looted by everyone including drug enforcement agents before anyone tried to stop it. This might seem egregious to you but it’s not my problem with events.

What I’d like to talk about is the $250 million of my tax dollars that have gone to Haiti with $18.7 million of it earmarked to train drug enforcement agents at the port in question. This is the War on Drugs. The tax dollars the United States sends to countries like Haiti supposedly to stop drugs is largely used to line the pockets of who knows how many people. The entire War on Drugs has created an industry devoted to taking that money and doing just enough to get more while pocketing most of it.

Haiti is a perfect example of this situation but hardly the only one or even the largest. The DEA has an enormous budget and employs huge numbers of people. They are tasked largely with prosecuting the War on Drugs. Does anyone think they are winning? Would there be more drug addiction, more violence, more harassment, more illegal seizures, more anything if the DEA were to simply cease to exist? I think it’s fair to say there would be less of most of those things.

The United States spent $250 million over eight years to help Haiti police stop drug shipments. That’s a quarter of a billion dollars. That’s a lot of money. Yet, it’s really not. Compared to what we send to other countries for the same reason it’s really just a drop in the bucket. After we spent $250 million of which, as I mentioned, almost nineteen million, went to secure the port at Port-au-Prince; the authorities not only allowed drugs to be taken from a ship docked there but some of them participated in the theft. Is that a good use of our tax dollars?

For two years DEA whistleblowers have attempted to call attention to this incident and been essentially silenced. One was so harassed by a supervisor that it affected her or his health. The names of the whistleblowers are not being released. With the amount of money the United States is throwing at people in Haiti and all over the world, it’s unusual to not want to steal it. You’re a weirdo if you actually don’t want to dip your hand into the never-ending slush fund. You’d likely be the same, face facts.

Almost everyone is stealing tons of money, no one is caught, the people who don’t steal get harassed and fired, more cash keeps piling in, there is no accountability, and no one cares. Tell me you wouldn’t participate. Go on, I dare you.

Tom Liberman

Loperamide and Why Drug Laws will Never Work

loperamidePeople are overdosing on a drug called Loperamide, which is meant to be used as an anti-diarrheal medication. Loperamide has been available over the counter for many years and there are currently no restrictions on purchasing it. I suspect that will change in yet another misguided chapter of the War on Drugs.

I find this new, supposed, crisis, to be extremely illustrative of the problem with drug interdiction. No matter how many drugs we restrict, there will always be something else that people will take. People will inhale gases from whipped cream dispensers. People will overdose on Loperamide. There is no way to stop people from seeking out chemical stimulants through interdiction. We must accept that those who wish to do so, will find a way.

A far better solution is attempting to treat the person’s desire to use chemical agents. This is the root cause. If we can help people not want to use such agents anymore, then we alleviate the underlying problem. Will we ever completely eliminate drug abuse? Of course not, if that’s your goal then you are doomed to a life of disappointment.

Let’s examine what government’s solution to the Loperamide crisis is likely to involve. Much like Ephedrine, there will almost certainly be regulations to limit the amount purchased. Basically, anyone who attempts to buy more than two boxes at once will be turned away. What is the result? The people who want Loperamide are forced to go to alternate sources.

Enterprising people, seeing profits, will hire teams of young people to purchase single boxes at every retail outlet for miles around. They will then sell these to users at a great profit. Police will then start arresting anyone who purchases boxes at different retail outlets. Anyone who wants to buy Loperamide will have to give personal information in order to make the purchase.

It will be a cycle of interdiction that largely fails to achieve its goal. Then a new drug will be found by addicts to substitute for Loperamide. The cycle will repeat endlessly.

I think it’s incredibly important to understand these facts for they explain, in no uncertain terms, why the War on Drugs has been, and continues to be, an abject failure. This after countless lives have been ruined, not by drug abuse, but by the attempts to save people from drug abuse. This after untold billions of dollars have been spent.

We try the exact same solution again and again despite its many failures. There are reasons for this and they mostly involve the vast amount of money interdiction provides for law enforcement, government, the penal system, and others. The War on Drugs is profitable for certain groups of people while it simply destroys others.

The question we must ask ourselves is if we truly want to help people? If we find the horrors of drug abuse and the atrocities engendered by drug interdiction to be unpalatable, perhaps we need to try to different solutions.

If that’s the case, if you are a decent human being. If you value lives more than money. We need to abandon interdiction as a method. We must embrace other tactics.

Tom Liberman

The Duterte Blueprint to Ensure a Terrorist State

president-rodrigo-duterteThere’s a politically fascinating situation going on in the Philippines that I find instructive in the nature of the state in regards to freedom and safety.

A fellow named Rodrigo Duterte was elected as president of the Philippines on a platform of eradicating drug users and dealers on the island. As mayor he at least allowed, if not aided, vigilante groups in beating and murdering drug dealers and users, including children. As president he has continued those policies nationwide. He has also largely banned smoking in the Philippines. In his latest speech he promised to suspend legal protections if terrorist activities continue on the island. That’s what I find so interesting.

Duterte is applauded by those who wish to fight terrorism and drug abuse. They love a “hard-line” policy where those who are suspected of such crimes are arrested and punished severely, often times suspending laws designed to protect citizens in order to do so. We see a similar attitude the world over. Kill the drug dealers that are preying on our children. Kill anyone we suspect of terrorist ties regardless of legal protections. The normal rules do not apply. We must suspend the laws in order to promote our safety.

As a Libertarian I am amused.

Duterte’s actions not only fail to protect the people of the Philippines from drugs and terrorists but actively make the problems worse. This is a counter-intuitive concept to be certain. How can locking up suspected drug dealers, users, and terrorists encourage them? Easy. The laws we have that protect the few who might well be guilty of being drug users and terrorists also protect the many who are not. When we suspend those laws people who are not terrorists, not drug dealers, and not drug users are imprisoned indiscriminately by government agents. Those people have friends and families. When the legal protections are removed we empower sadistic government employees who use their unfettered power to punish their personal and business foes. It is inevitable.

For every drug dealer Duterte orders killed there is an innocent who suffers the same fate. The people of a nation begin to realize they have no legal protections. That the government can and will take what they want, when they want, from whomever they want. It starts with the poor who have no advocates but it always spreads. Soon the government is taking over businesses for the money they will generate. Soon they are imprisoning political enemies.

When the people have no legal recourse they resort to illegal methods. Terrorism.

This is the juxtaposition between advocating tough laws and the reality such legislation creates.

If the people continue to allows such behavior from their political leaders then the nation will inevitably slide toward dictatorship. As more and more people clamor against an oppressive government, said government resorts to more extreme measures to put them down, thus creating more dissidents.

Only when people have real freedom does government for the people and by the people function properly.

Freedom is free, it’s just not safe. Terrorists and drug dealers must be afforded the same protections we demand for law-abiding citizens. That means bad things sometimes happen. The alternative is that worse things happen.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

Andrew Sadek – Another Victim of the War on Drugs

andrew-sadekAnyone who ever watched a realistic police drama knows how informants are used by law enforcement officers to help them make arrests. These informants often suffer horrible consequences and the case of Andrew Sadek reinforces my opinion that the War on Drugs does far more harm than the actual drugs upon which war is being waged.

Sadek was a young college student who sold small amounts of marijuana to his friends at the North Dakota State College of Science. The police recruited a person on campus to be an informant and when Sadek sold him marijuana got the young man to allow them to search his room. There they found residual marijuana in a grinder.

The laws in North Dakota about selling even small amounts of drugs on school grounds and federally mandated sentencing guidelines meant that if convicted Sadek faced the potential of many years in prison. To avoid this he agreed to be the next chain in the link of drug informants. He made a few buys for the police. Then he ended up dead with a bullet in the head.

The investigation is ongoing and it’s possible Sadek was murdered or he committed suicide. It doesn’t matter to me which one. He’s dead because police terrified him into doing something stupid. He’s dead because we have laws in this country that potentially put people in jail for decades because they sold an easily grown weed to people who willingly pay for it.

I discussed this matter with a friend who suggested that Sadek was more than partially responsible for his death and that the police were merely doing their job in trying to catch higher level drug dealers. I don’t completely disagree with this thought. Sadek could have refused to cooperate but I think the burden falls more heavily on the government officials who at the very least coerced him into doing something quite dangerous. I’m of the opinion Sadek didn’t do anything wrong at all in his sales but the current laws say he did. He knew he was breaking the law and risked punishment.

That being said it seems awfully vicious, cruel, and manipulative to threaten a young man with the destruction of his life over such a minor thing as selling a little marijuana and then using that threat to place him in what can only be described as a physically and emotionally dangerous world. It’s irresponsible of law enforcement to do it. They must be held at least partially accountable for Sadek’s death.

The main question I have over this incident and the many other’s I’ve written about is quite simple.

Is it worth it?

Is this War on Drugs worth doing such horrible things to people? I ask law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, and tax payers. Is it worth it?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

Rape, Assault, Murder, Cooperate .. the Rene Enriquez Story

rene enriquezThe War on Drugs makes my stomach turn and I just read another story that brings me close to vomiting. Our police agencies are ferrying around a man convicted of rape, assault, and murder because he is has been cooperating with authorities for the last twelve years.

A fellow by named Rene Enriquez grew up in a middle class neighborhood with a businessman father but, for whatever reason, took up criminal activity. His first crime was raping an intoxicated woman as a juvenile and his list of misdeeds just gets more heinous from there. He helped organize the violent Mexican drug cartels and is clearly responsible for countless murders.

All this violence is fueled by money from the illegal drug trade. I’m not going to pretend there aren’t violent people who would commit crimes even if all drugs were legal but the level of violence and the organization of those who manufacture and distribute drugs is fueled by money.

That being said it’s not point of my blog today. Enriquez was essentially tortured in prison by being sent into isolation for twenty-four hours a day. After about tens years of this he decided he was willing to help police understand how the Mexican gangs operate and began cooperating with the FBI and local California police agencies.

He has acted as a witness in numerous occasions and is essentially on a speaking tour to promote his book. That’s what the original story is about. He was recently released from prison to give yet another speech. This time the paperwork wasn’t filled out properly and all the money spent to protect him from possible vengeful cohorts has come to light. The speech was for business leaders and top level law enforcement officers.

These same business leaders and law enforcement officers are speaking out on his behalf begging for this murdering rapist to be released. Why? Because he is cooperating. If released he will be moved into Witness Protection, given a new identify, and go on about his life.

I’m angry because it was drugs and their attendant money that led him down this vile path. I’m furious that this murdering, rapist is the darling of supposedly “tough on crime” high-ranking police officers and business leaders.

This is the place the War on Drugs has led us. We created Enriquez with our misguided laws and now we want to reward him for his criminal past. How many has he killed? Who knows and apparently who cares? He can help us perpetuate the War on Drugs so we can breed a thousand more just like him so let’s forgive him, let’s grant him parole. Yay!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

More Casualties from the War on Drugs – Baby Phonesavanh

phonesavanh_familyLiterally not a week goes by that I don’t spot a disturbing story about over-zealous police and the ridiculous War on Drugs that is nothing more than a giant promotional device to make drug-dealers rich. This one makes my stomach hurt. After reading this story I want to punch someone. I’m not a violent man and being all of 5′ 7 1/2″ tall and weighing 155 pounds I’d probably get beat up in the end anyway. Still. It’s infuriating.

I hate you proponents of the War on Drugs. I despise your shortsighted insanity. Your insane logic. Your willful ignorance of reality. Your war has cost so many people so much. This includes so many good law enforcement officers who died or were destroyed while trying to carry out your stupid laws. So many people hurt and only pain and violence the result. The War on Drugs has brought on so much more violence than the drug use it was purportedly designed to prevent.

Why am I so mad? I’ll sum up the story of the Phonesavanhs. In an unrelated incident their home burned. So they moved in with family. The estranged son of said family was a meth addict and dealer. The boy had stolen from the family and was not welcome home. Had not been seen in the house since the Phonesavanhs moved in. They didn’t know him although knew he was unwelcome. A wonderful DEA agent named Nikki Autry used statements from a drug informant whose name we will never know to gain a no-knock warrant on the house.

By no-knock they mean kick down the door. Judge James Butterworth authorized the warrant. Apparently no one bothered to learn that the house was overflowing with children including 18-month old Bounkham Jr “Bou Bou”. The officers kicked down the door. They hurled flash grenades randomly about. One of them flew into the crib. The crib!! The doctor described the injuries thus: His chest wall had torn down to muscle and it tore his face down to bone, down to his teeth.

The officers snatched up the baby and rushed him to an ambulance. The parents, worried, asked if anything was wrong. He lost a tooth they were told.

Agent Autry retired almost immediately. Judge Butterworth resigned from the bench. No penalties were exacted on either of them.

The investigation leading up to the raid was called hurried and sloppy according to the grand jury convened to see if any officers, or anyone at all, should be held responsible. No charges were filed.

Medical bills, you ask? Over a million dollars. The state’s responsibility you might wonder? Zero. Protected by laws designed to shield them from any damage they do while enforcing the War on the Drugs.

Oh how I hate thee War on Drugs. You make my heart sick. You make my mind burn with rage. What can I do to stop this insanity?

I write my blog. I write my books. I want to do more.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

$10 Billion Tax Dollars to stop Afghans from Growing Poppies

Poppy CultivationI read a lot of news stories trying to find things to blog about and I was perusing an article about how the United States government spent $3 million on seven rigid patrol boats that don’t look much different than the raft I floated down the river in while on vacation in Colorado. That’s $375,000 per boat. They were ordered to help patrol the rivers of Afghanistan. The boats are sitting unwanted and unused in a warehouse.

Near the end of the article they mention $10 billion spent on anti-narcotics and agriculture programs in Afghanistan since 2002. The idea being to curtail the growing of poppies which eventually are used to make heroin. Since 2002 the production of poppies in Afghanistan has tripled. $10 billion of your tax dollars spent on the War on Drugs in addition to the annual budget of the DEA which is $3 billion.

Furious about this waste, I started to do some research into where this $10 billion was spent. The first story I turned up was this one. Corruption in Afghanistan is high so we’ve created a court that is above corruption, well, sort of. Basically everyone who comes before it gets convicted. Of course only low level farmers who grow relatively small amounts come before this court. The big players never see the inside of the place. That sure endears us to the people of Afghanistan. It’s all nonsense of course. They take our money, throw lots of little fish in jail, and smile all the way to the bank.

The second article I found was a long and detailed one from 2009 report written by the Brookings Institute. It basically calls all efforts prior to a change of policy by the Obama administration in 2009 a complete and utter failure in which far more damage was than any good.

The report focuses on how to keep the money from drug sales away from those who plan and execute terrorist attacks. It details many of the difficulties involved in attempting to do just that and doesn’t paint a rosy picture. It tries to offer a real solution.

Of course our money isn’t being spent that way and of course no one seems to care.

No one is much interested in a real solution. We want lots of people thrown in prison. We want huge hauls of heroin that we can show-off to the public and claim our misguided plans are working. This is the country we live in today. People want a soundbite, a scapegoat, and a huge plate of french fries.

I don’t have a real point today. I’m just super-angry about $10 billion that was used not to alleviate a problem but actually exacerbate it. To make people all over Afghanistan hate me and want to kill me. Then there’s the $3 million on eight stupid little boats that are doing nothing.

When will this madness stop?

If you blame Democrats, if you blame Obama, if you blame Republicans, if you blame Jessica Simpson and Kim Kardashian, well, I’ve got a suggestion for you, blame yourself. You vote in elections, you click on stories, you drive the media, and you drive the country.

Do I see people getting angry enough to vote in Independents who don’t care about agendas and simply want to do what’s right? In a word, no.

But don’t worry, I’m not giving up! I’ll keep posting my blogs, I’ll keep writing my books, and I’ll keep voting for Independents.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Purchase The Broken Throne today!
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Pot Raids and Death Sentences

Drug ViolenceThere were two stories in the news yesterday that are related in a sad way. A murderous scum was sentenced to death by a federal court and a marijuana dispensary was raided by federal agents.

How are these two things related? It’s a topic I’ve discussed numerous times before; the War on Drugs or as I call it the Drug Cartel. I spoke about how Mexico became a drug nation thanks in no small part to President Reagan and why the failed war on drugs is nothing more than a system designed to promote violence and wealth (for all the wrong people).

Today I feel the need to talk about these points yet again. I hope I’m not boring everyone.

Now, on to the stories. In 2003 a drug and gun dealer named Ronell Wilson was making a deal with two undercover officers. He decided to rob and kill them. After a number of trials he has been sentenced to death for the cold-blooded murders which no one is denying he committed. Meanwhile in present day America the federal government raided a legal dispensary of marijuana in the great state of Washington.

How are these two things related? Drugs. The only reason James V. Nemorin and Rodney Andrews ever came in contact with Ronell was because they were part of the Drug Cartel. We like to think that only Wilson was a member of the drug cartel but the reality is that without Nemorin and Andrews and others like them out there enforcing ridiculous drug laws, Wilson would not be the leader of a violent gang powered by drug money. Wilson would have had no money, no power. Nemorin and Andrews would be police officers out there today protecting and serving.

I’m certainly not blaming the undercover officers. They were doing the job they were sent to do and died because of it. I’m blaming the people who sent them to do that job.

Now, the marijuana dispensary was raided. There was no violence. The DEA arrived with eight vans, guns drawn, and stormed the place. Why? Because their experience with drug houses is that they are filled with guns and dangerous people. The legal marijuana dispensary was filled with clerks. The workers were scared and surrendered peacefully.

Look at these two incidents. Look at them! Voters, legislatures, courts, law enforcement officers. LOOK AT THEM!!!

I’m a little heated on this one I guess. Our laws and our enforcement of them created all this violence, all this death. Good men dead. Bad men created. If we make drugs legal they will be bought and sold in little stores by clerks instead of in back alleys by murderous scum. It’s that simple.

Will some people ruin their lives with drugs? Certainly. Will there be accidents caused by people on drugs? Yes. Those things are already happening and they are choices made by free people. They choose to take drugs with the bad that comes with it.

Our lives are worse because of the Drug Cartel. Drugs are plentiful whether illegal in nature or prescribed by a doctor.

Nemorin and Andrews are dead and aren’t coming back but maybe we can save someone else. End the Drug Cartel. Make drugs, all drugs, legal. Create laws about activities allowed to be done while under the influence of drugs, create laws on the age someone is allowed to purchase drugs, allow industry to supply demand. End the madness.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99, buy it, read it, review it)
Upcoming Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Drug Raid in Kansas City nets Three Tomato Plants

Tomato GardenI’ve posted about the stupidity of the “War on Drugs” several times before so I’m not going to write a lengthy article here on yet another example of that idiocy. I do want to use a recent incident to draw a direct correlation to the argument that our safety is inversely correlated with our freedom.

The basic story is that the states of Missouri and Kansas use a day celebrated by marijuana enthusiasts, April 20, to launch raids against those they think are growing that drug. These raids are highly publicized when marijuana and drug paraphernalia is seized. In this case one of the homes raided belonged to a moderately wealthy family in an upscale Kansas City neighborhood. The police found no evidence of drugs in the house.

Why is this a big deal? Because the family in question seems to have had nothing to do with illegal drugs except the fact that they do some indoor gardening and frequent a store that supplies equipment for that hobby. This sort of equipment can also be used by marijuana growers. There seems to be no other evidence of drug use and the assumption is that the police department used sales records of hydroponic equipment to convince a judge to allow a search warrant.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is clear and it is vitally important to our freedom, to your freedom, and most importantly, to my freedom.

I don’t do any indoor gardening but I stand by Adlynn and Robert Harte. In this case they represent my lost freedom. If you purchase cough medicine, fertilizer, or a myriad of other common items then you have something in common with terrorists and drug lords. Does that give the government the right to search your home? To insult your family?

The reason we must be protected from the government is that it represents a real threat to our freedom. In many ways much more of a threat than foreign enemies. Yes, our laws protect criminals also. Yes, our constitution is used by the guilty to get away with criminal activity. That’s the price of freedom. So called patriots yelp about how “Freedom isn’t free” but the reality is that such phrases are used to frighten people into giving up their freedom. In my opinion the phrase should be, “Freedom isn’t safe”. Freedom isn’t safe. It’s dangerous. It’s also glorious. To be free we must allow people to do as they will and sometimes this means danger. We can’t insulate ourselves from the world. There are people trying to hurt us. We can be hurt.

My argument is that the methods used to give us safety are actually far more dangerous than the threats they claim to thwart. Terrorists killed 3,000 people on September 11th. That’s true. How many men and women have died in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world trying to keep us safe? How many Americans have been wrongly imprisoned? Brutalized? Let’s just play a numbers game and see who loses. How many have died in the “War on Drugs”? How much money pours into the hands of bad people because an adult chooses to smoke a plant?

The War on Drugs is a threat to our freedom and in the end doesn’t make us any safer.

Finally, I strongly support anyone doing indoor gardening to raise healthy fruits and vegetables for their family. The idea that they will be raided for this noble effort infuriates and frightens me.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water (A book about overcoming fear)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Deadly Drugs – Already Legal

Prescription MedicationThere are many people out there who oppose the legalization of drugs because of the danger they represent to society. Well, I’ve got news for you. Drugs are largely already legal and lethal. Only the drugs that the drug industry controls are considered legal and alternates that could be dispensed cheaply are still illegal. This article describes how overdose from prescription medications now outnumber overdoses of illegal drugs. Prescription medication pain pills use has increased dramatically in the last fifteen years with it reaching a level four times higher in 2010 than it was in 1999.

At first glance my argument appears to support the continued legal penalties for drugs like heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and others of their ilk. If prescription medication kills so many people then we should think about making Vicodin and others illegal as well. I see the idea but my point is that the violence associated with illegal drugs would largely stop once we ended our prohibitionist laws. Also, many people who become addicted to prescription painkillers eventually turn to illegal drugs because they are far cheaper and readily available. This brings them into contact with hardened criminals. These hardened criminals are actually only a short step away from the doctor that prescribes Vicodin and the pharmacist that dispenses it.

So, prescription drugs are killers and lead to addiction. Illegal drugs lead to violence beyond imagination. What’s the answer?

There will always be people who seek out the chemical pleasure drugs induce; be it legally with alcohol or some other legal medication or illegally with marijuana or other drugs. There will always people in pain who have legitimate need for pain killing drugs to help them get through a medical crisis. We must accept this fact before we can arrive at a conclusion. Drugs will always, and have always, destroyed lives. People are documented as dying from alcohol related illnesses for as long as we have written records.

Once we come to that conclusion, that we cannot stop the self-destructive behavior of a certain percentage of our society, we can start to think about real solutions. How do we minimize such destruction and also minimize the criminal element that causes so much harm as well?

It’s a two-pronged attack. The first step is to legalize all drugs. Heroin is just branded as Vicodin or Oxycontin. It’s really the same family of drug and there isn’t any drug out there that isn’t dispensed legally by prescription. So, why not just make everything legal? It completely destroys the criminal element behind illegal drug production and dispensation which destroys so many lives.

But, that’s not the only attack. Even as a drug legalization advocate I acknowledge the dangers such substances represent. Should anyone be able to purchase heroin at the corner drug-store without a prescription? Would we end up as a nation of drug stupefied zombies? Certain psychoactive drugs are physically extremely destructive. Should we allow these to be sold over the counter to any comer?

I think the solution is one of education and available help. We should dispense with the nonsensical anti-drug arguments and give real information on the harmful effects of these substances. Then the industry of drugs should be taxed, yep I said it, to allow for free clinics for those who want help. Those who don’t want help, those who gleefully destroy their lives, there is nothing we can do for them and there will never be anything to be done.

It’s not a perfect solution. There will still be drug addicts. There will still be those who destroy their own lives and harm those around them because of these addictions. I’m of the opinion that people have to make their own way in life. If we allow people to make decisions like buying some heroin at the local drugstore without a prescription then eventually people will, mostly, make good decisions. We cannot be a nanny-state and a successful country.

We cannot force people into good decisions. We can give people information, give people choices, give people opportunities. When everyone has hope and opportunity I’m of the opinion that society succeeds. That people succeed. Maybe I’m an optimist.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water
Future Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Casualties of the War on Drugs

War on DrugsYet again I read an article spelling out the complete and utter failure of the war on drugs. Sigh.

First off I’m going to start using a new phrase. “The War on Drugs” simply doesn’t compute in any reasonable way. “The Drug Cartel”. Because that’s all it is. It’s an alliance between the United States, drug manufacturing, and drug dealers legal and illegal.

Now, let’s trace the roots of this Drug Cartel. The term “War on Drugs” was coined by President Nixon in 1971 and its goal was to reduce the production, distribution, and consumption of psychoactive drugs. I’ll spend one sentence on its failure. Has the production, distribution, and consumption been reduced? Done. Ok, a link with detailed explanations. Global Commission on Drug Policy. Read that and then follow the links to the various papers.

Ok, back to Nixon. While he may have coined the phrase “War on Drugs” the misguided policies in the United States date back to 1914 and the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act.

Another quick detour. Did you know that in the 1890’s before all this madness began that Sears & Roebuck offered a syringe and cocaine priced at $1.50 in their catalog?

The early attacks on drug distribution were the same ones we see today. That drugs fuel violence and crime. Good news then. The Drug Cartel is succeeding in ways that Sears & Roebuck could never have dreamed possible. Unless, of course, the idea was to reduce the violence and crime associated with drug use. Then, well, fail.

The next anti-drug (pro-crime) policy was Prohibition enacted in 1920. Again, easy to see the results.

The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, precursor to the Drug Enforcement Administration was created in 1930. Guess who expanded it greatly by establishing the DEA? President Nixon in 1973.

Next came the ridiculous Marijuana Transfer Tax Act in 1937. This act placed a tax on cannabis and was eventually replaced in 1969 with something far worse, The Controlled Substances Act.

But, let’s get back to the DEA. In 2010 there operating budget was over one billion dollars. A healthy sum. Guess what percentage of that was dedicated to reducing demands for drugs as opposed to prosecuting and catching offenders? .28%. So, 99.72% of the budget of the DEA was used to stop the flow of illegal drugs into the United States through interdiction in foreign countries and here. The numbers in 2005 suggest that the DEA seized about 2 billion worth of drugs and drug related assets of which about half a billion was actual drugs. The total amount of drugs sold in the US that year is estimated at 64 billion. Let’s do the math … .78% of all drugs were prevented. Really? .78%? In what world is that worthwhile?

Meanwhile there are any number of accusations that the United States works with drug providing nations to bring the material to the country. I’m willing to give the government the benefit of the doubt that they are simply doing this in order to catch drug dealers. But, they aren’t stopping the flow by any appreciable amount and they are actually contributing to it! This is insane.

Meanwhile the number of American citizens incarcerated has increased hugely since the Drug Cartel began. It was less than .2% of the population at the onset of the Drug Cartel and is now over .8%.

I’m now tired of finding reasons why the Drug Cartel is madness. I’m not out of reasons, I could go on .. and on … and on, but I’m just tired and discouraged.

It’s up to you, people of the United States. Write your Congressmen, ask them politely (don’t yell and scream like a five-year old who didn’t get his cookies) in Town Hall meetings. We must stop this insanity. Legalize drugs. Disband the DEA.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
New Release: The Hammer of Fire