Friday, September 30, 2005

Grand Rounds 29 Sept '05

The Grand Rounds for this week is up and they have been kind enough to comment on a recent post of mine More Vindication.

Power and Control shares a compelling review of research supporting the hypothesis that drug abuse is self medication for pain/anxiety. This is one of the self-evident "truths" that most of us accept without good science to back us up. Last week I suggested an antidepressant medication for a man who drinks heavily - smokes marijuana often, and uses cocaine to "keep stable." But he doesn't want to take a medication for fear it will alter his physiology. "Man - you ARE taking medications" I meekly suggest. He doesn't see it that way.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Boobiethon is Back

Boobiethon is raising money for breast cancer research.

The link is work safe. As for the rest of the site: you are on your own.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Origins of the Fourth Amendment

This article was originally published in a number of places in May of 2001. It is still relevant so I'm republishing it here.


I'd like to talk today a little about the origins and meaning of the Fourth Amendment. First off what is the Fourth Amendment?

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The meaning seems clear but I think it will become clearer if we look a little deeper into American history. The first point is that John Hancock before he became a signer of the Declaration of Independence was a smuggler. He had a famous run in with Crown officers in 1768 when his sloop the Liberty refused to pay the tax on some Madeira wine.

Now we know that there was strong sentiment in some corners of 18th century America in favor of smugglers. And we know that the people were continually harassed with open warrants and general searches. Revenue officers could target people on the merest suspicion or target their enemies with no cause whatever. Often there would be dragnets where the usual suspects would be rounded up for interrogations and searches. All in the name of collecting taxes and controlling contraband.

Now let us look at modern day America and the rights the Supreme court has declared we have left as opposed to those the founders gave us.

Where are we? The Drug War exception to the Fourth Amendment couldn't be larger. And let us be clear about this. The drugs for the most part are smuggled goods. So lets start with the biggest hole the drug profile or indicators as the police like to say these days. What do the police need to start a drug case against you? Do they have to see you with the drugs? Do they need to see you exchange money for drugs? No. You just need to 'look' like someone who in the opinion of the officer might do those things. You need only fit a profile or match a few indicators.

Lets look at a few of these specific indicators when it comes to the vehicle you are driving and get an idea of how specific they are:

Exterior Indicators to look for:

1. Large or late model cars with large trunks - GM most popular. a. Intermediate size also used. b. Occasionally a smaller car will be involved. 2. Older car in top running condition. 3. Vans and pickup trucks with camper tops also commonly used.

So now that the drug courier vehicle type is so clearly defined ( just about any car on the road ). Lets see what kind of driver they are looking for.

12. Driving habits often result in the courier being stopped for a routine violation a. Speeding up and slowing down b. Scrupulous obedience to traffic laws - overly cautious c. Erratic driving due to drug or alcohol use d. Many drive straight through and take drugs to stay awake e. Take a long time to pull over

So following the law or not following the law are grounds for a drug search. That sure gives you a lot of choices.

If you want to know more about how to avoid attracting unnecessary suspicion may I suggest you visit Drug Courier Profile Indicators

And the site that alerted me to the above site.

So from the above examples we see what is happening is that the limits on government are being eliminated to solve a smuggling problem. The very problem the writers of the Fourth Amendment experienced in their own lives and therefore anticipated.

If you should meet any of the so-called Supreme Court strict constructionists who have weakened the Fourth Amendment in their zeal to collect contraband tell them they are in error.

Tell them to read about John Hancock and the sloop Liberty.

Update: 25 October 2009 1207z

Here is a list of books that touch on the Drug War and the Fourth Amendment:

The Drug War and The Fourth Amendment

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Testing the Limits of the Law

An interesting discussion of the limits of the Fourth Amendment is taking place at The Volokh Conspiracy. It concerns the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Ninth Circuit in reference to drug smuggling cases. Here is my take on the question:

It looks to me from what little I know about the law that the DOJ is looking for more Drug War opportunities to shred the Fourth Amendment.

If you go back into the history of the country and study the case of John Hanncock's sloop "Liberty" and its run in with British revenuers in support of British mercantilist policies you will see where the Fourth Amendment in part originated.

We have a similar mercatilist policy, in support of the pharmaceutical, alcohol, and tobacco companies, of keeping competing products which are easy to manufacture off the market.

For this very reason Benjamin Rush an MD of the time and signer of the Declaration of Independence thought medical liberty ought to be written into the Constitution to prevent doctors and pharmaceutical companies from becoming monopolists. Which in fact has happened. The goal of bringing herbal medicine and vitamins under the control of the FDA is also in furtherance of this mercatilists/monopolist policy.

The reason medical costs are so high is that government controls who can enter the market through a series of "health and safety" regulations. In other words government is not just interested in an informed consumer which the initial regulations provided for. The government now controls entry into the market through control of the medical guild and the pharmaceutical industry.

It was just such restraint of trade that the Fourth Amendment was aimed at.

The Fourth Amendment in fact a limited the taxing power of the state by giving smugglers an advantage. If taxes are low smuggling is not profitable. High taxes forces the state to become intrusive in its searches.

We are in the mess we are in re: Drug Prohibition because we have forgotten what animated the founders: the British mercatilist system of monopoly profits and taxes.

The situation we are in today is actually worse. The monopoly on drug importation has been given to criminal gangs. What I like to call Republican Socialism: price supports for criminals.

In cases where there is actual harm done to a citizen, i.e. an actual crime, probable cause is not too difficult a standard to meet. Where there are willing buyers and sellers that standard is much more difficult. The government must go on fishing expeditions. To limit the taxing power of the state unreasonable searches (fishing expeditions) were in effect outlawed. As in so much of the law made by the Supreme Court these days "unreasonable" is getting more and more narrowly defined. In fact many would argue that it has been defined almost out of existence.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Bust Pork, Not Drugs

The single largest item of pork in the Federal Government is drug prohibition.

It is a failure. Illegal drugs are easier for kids to get than alcohol or tobacco.

It costs at least $19 bn every year at the Federal level. About $78 billion at the local level.

It increases crime and police corruption.

It deprives the sick of medicine.

It is worh billions to the drug companies who do not have to compete with easily grown natural herbs. Anti-anxiety drugs are a $42 bn market. Cannabis could put a significant dent in that market. Can't let home grown herbs interfere with profits.

In addition cannabis is often used as a substitute for alcohol and tobacco among those who use those substances for self medication. So now you know why the alcohol and tobacco companies are in on the deal.

Drug prohibition creates crime. Mayor Daley the Second says that 85% of the crime in Chicago is prohibition related. What is the advantage to the government of Republican Socialism: price supports for criminals? Tough question.

The Calif. prison guard union favors stronger penalties for prohibition violations. So now you know why why they are in on the scam. Jobs.

Prohibition always creates a significant violence problem. Now you know why the police are participating. Jobs. And the guarenteed profits from property confiscations.

Why are lawyers and judges in on the deal? Let me think.

This is the biggest harm creating project of the Federal Government since alcohol prohibition. The sooner we cut it the better.

Cannabis is the Best Medicine

For PTSD that is.

Dr. Tod Mikuriya gives this advice to a returning Iraq War vet about PTSD:

Medically, cannabis is the treatment of choice for PTSD but definitely would spell the end of your military career. If you elect not to medicate with cannabis, the regular exercise regimen, avoidance of drugs and alcohol, and a specialized debriefing is the least worst response to this chronic psychiatric disorder.
Now I have been saying this about PTSD and pot for three years.
PTSD Pot Alcohol & Substance Abuse.
Police and PTSD
We now have some medical confirmation. There will be more coming as this information gets better known and more research is done. So far about 18% of returning vets have long term problems with PTSD. That would be about 20,000 of those currently serving in Iraq and another 20,000 among those who have already done tours.

We claim we want the best for our vets and yet in this case the best medicine is denied them because nothing can be allowed to derail in the smallest way the prohibition machine.

The first political party to take up this cause will reap huge benefits. I can't wait.

Friday, September 16, 2005

More Vindication

It has been my contention for the last three years that what we call drug abuse is self medication for pain/anxiety. It turns out that independent (of the government) research is beginning to confirm what I teased out of the limited information available to me three years ago on the subject.

The research Cannabis Use in Adolescence: Self-Medication for Anxiety was done by Dr. Tom O'Connell, a long time opponent of prohibition.

Dr. O'Connell is mostly interested in general social factors that predispose adolescents to drug use. The most important factor he found was a missing or ineffective father.

In attempting to determine the origin of the symptoms motivating this population’s aggressive adolescent drug sampling, the most obvious place to start was family background. A common element was the absence of their biological fathers from their early lives —either physically, through early death or divorce, or emotionally, through a variety of other mechanisms...
He goes on to look at school careers as another determining factor. He sees a lot of ADD and ADHD. One thing he mentions early on is that the boys outnumber the girls in his practce (where he interviewd the kids) by a
4 to 1 ratio.

His study looked at the substitution effect. The replacement of tobacco and alcohol with cannabis. (Do you suppose this is why the alcohol companies are so heavily invested in the drug war? And the tobacco companies before they became an embarassment?)
Repeat use of both alcohol and tobacco tended to be aggressive. More than half had binged in high school or as young adults; 35% had experienced alcohol black-outs; and 12.5% had received DUI citations. Yet essentially all who have continued to use cannabis on a regular basis subsequently moderated their alcohol consumption. Few are teetotalers, but nearly all who still drink do so moderately. Most have reduced alcohol consumption to 20% of their peak levels —or less.

Cannabis also has enabled patients to reduce tobacco use. Although 68.1% of cannabis applicants became daily cigarette smokers for a while, over half (53%) of the smokers have since been able to quit and almost all the rest are trying. Even inveterate tobacco smokers (those unable to remain abstinent) uniformly relate their cigarette consumption to both stress and access to cannabis: when the former is high and the latter is low, they tend to smoke a lot more tobacco.
There are three important points I think the doctor has left out of his study. Child abuse, PTSD, and genetics. I cover child abuse and PTSD in Police and PTSD. I cover genetics in Genetic Discrimination.

He has a few thing to say about the government's interest in this type of research. It explains a number of things including why big pharma is heavily invested in the drug war.
Evidence that cannabis is capable of benignly and effectively palliating the psychotropic symptom complexes so often encountered in juveniles and young adults was clearly beyond the scope of any research funded— or even permitted— by NIDA. That such symptoms tend to persist into mid-life for many who suffer from them is now endorsed in psychiatric literature and has spurred development of a host of pharmaceuticals intended to treat them. Yet most of applicants for whom these pharmaceuticals were prescribed report that cannabis provides more effective and durable relief.
This is very interesting because I said someting similar three years ago in Addiction or Self Medication?:
It turns out that anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem in the United States. They are worth $46 billion a year to the pharmaceutical industry. You don't suppose this fact has any thing to do with the pharmaceutical industries being in the forefront of the Drug Free America campaign do you? Of course not. They are just trying to keep you from being addicted to natural products at the cost of 1/10th of a cent per dose when they are more than willing to sell you an FDA and doctor approved, pharmacy sold product that will do the job for a dollar a dose. They have only your best interests at heart. Just ask their accountants.
Dr. OConnell summarises his work this way:
Proposition 215 encouraged many individuals who had been considered “recreational” users of cannabis to apply for “medical” status. Interviews placing their cannabis use in broader context showed that it is frequently an alternative to the use of alcohol, tobacco, and “harder” drugs.

The federal government, by imposing a Prohibition based on biased, inadequate studies, is depriving the American people of a safe and effective medicine.

Beyond that concern, the increasing enthusiasm for drug testing and punishing those who test positive for cannabis wth either criminal or social sanctions is destructive to the large —but at this writing unknown —number of Americans treating emotional symptoms with what may be, for them, the best agent available.
Dr. O'Connell also thinks that even anti-prohibitionists are not acknowledging the anxiety factors and that all use may in some sense be medicinal:
Data from the author's practice show that many Californians use cannabis to treat emotional conditions. Government studies obscure this reality and some reformers seem reluctant to acknowledge it.
There are a lot of interests working together to keep pot illegal. I think as the science gets better known they will not stand.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I'm Having Trouble

Update: 04:50z 16 Sept '05

Whatever the problem was, it is now fixed. Blogger support was good. So was the help I got from my isp.


I'm having trouble reaching urls of the form where xxxxx.. is "powerandcontrol" "atoolofthemachine" "fallbackbelmontclub" "neo-neocon" or any other of that form.

I get a timed out, connection refused, or a not responding error.

Now obvioiusly if you are reading this you know that not all blogger urls are unavailable to me. Obviously I am getting the "edit" page. I can't get their "status" page but I can get the "contact us for help" page.

If any one has any ideas click on the Contact bit on the sidebar and send me an e-mail.
In fact if you see this send me an e-mail. It will be another piece in the puzzle to know that this went up.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Why New Orleans?

Why are there so many poor people in such a rich Democrat run city?

I'm just askin'.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

One Year Ago Today

This is the one year aniversary of the blog. So far it has been fun. Quite a few instalanches and other fun. I owe it all to the comments section of The Belmont Club. I needed a blogger account to comment there so I opened this blog.

My goal was for 100,000 hits the first year. How close am I? About 90,400. Not too bad.

I've also opened a second blog about one of my hobbies: CNC machine tools.

It is called A Tool of the Machine.

I look forward to another year - the Maker willing.


Nice mention of this post here. They are underwater folks and have no respect for skimmers. I suppose in their book I'm not so bad because I'm nuke qualified. And my brother-in-law was a nuke (electrician) on a boat. Did I mention he is a real nuke these days at a power plant in Michigan?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Wrong Name

FEMA is in a lot of hot water because people believe that since Emergency Management is its name it ought to be its job. If they had stuck with naming it by its real function - Post Disaster Recovery Management - Brown would still have a job.

Bush has Toasted Brown

Brown's #1 mistake in my opinion was cranking up his PR machine during the worst part of the chaos.

Being a good bureaucrat is not the same as effective leadership in a crisis.

Part of the problem is that as part of homeland security FEMA has morphed. The expectations are different. It is no longer expected to be just a check writing organization. It is expected to roll trucks and equipment in early days. Given the size of expected future disasters multi state responses will be required.

We want a 21st century response time, not a 1950s model.

I thought that Brown had a shakey understanding of the job because of the T-shirt incident early on. Replacing him with a Coast Guard Admiral was a brilliant move.

1. He will understand logistics.
2. He will understand relations with state and local governments.
3. He will be used to working with the military.
4. He will have knowledge of organizing commands in the midst of chaos.

A brilliant move by Bush to improve the staff.

In fact I suggested such a move just a few days ago. This is what I said:

I'd like to see a military logistics expert leading FEMA.
In any case when organizations get ossified you have to fire some people. Pour l'ecourager les autres. Bush should know all about this. He was part owner of a baseball team.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Victory Garden

Here is a nice government site with some very good tips on preparing for disaster. How to make up your own personal emergency survival kit. Kind of like a Victory Garden or Civil Defence for the war and natural disasters.

Of course this is a personal minimum.

Other things to consider:

A short wave radio run on rechargeable batteries or a wind up radio. If the batteries are rechargeable a solar or hand cranked recharger.

A wood stove if you live in a cold climate and are not in a major town or city.

Five gallons of gasoline - especially if you have an auto or generator. Even if you don't it will be a resource for those who do.

A campstove run by propane. The kind of propane used for blow torches. Have extra cylinders on hand. A hot meal or hot tea/coffe can help keep you warm or provide a boost to keep going when you have to. You can also steralize water or medical eqpt.

First Aid training.

Firearms. One thousand rounds per weapon. Even a .22 would be helpful. Learn to maintain your weapon. Learn to shoot straight.

Amateur radio gear. Get a license and practice on Field Day. Every year. When the power goes you want to be able to communicate.

If you are going to spend alot of time on the couch, don't eat so many potatoes. Better yet. Exercise. Want a home gym? Good Will sells them cheap.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Getting Ready for the Big One

Katrina has been excellent practice for a nuke in a major city. How do you evacuate a million or five million in 24 or even 48 hours. What happens when transport you depend on for the evacuation plan is destroyed? How do you keep the roads from getting clogged?

How do you maintain civil order? Do we need more armed citizens?

Do we have enough ham radio operators?

Joe Commer from Sgt. Stryker says: My call sign is W 1 F K Y, /mobile W5. Look for me on 75 meters; 3965, 3835, and wherever the GCHEN (GULF COAST HURRICANE EMERGENCY NET) happens to be meeting. On 40 meters, 7265, I’m told, is the primary frequency. I don’t know about 20 or above. I will probably be operating physically somewhere between Fairhope, AL, and Slidell, LA. Prime contact will be MEMA, AEMA, LEMA, and FEMA.


Is a political hack who got fired from an Arabian Horse Association the best we can do for the head of FEMA? It is like having a rule book general in time of war. I'd like to see a military logistics expert leading FEMA. Some one with recent experience. I'm open to suggestions.

This total break down in initial response is actually a good thing: once. It is going to teach us a lot of lessons and help us clear out the dead wood. Kind of a Kassirine Pass of disaster preparedness.

Update: 0142z 07 Sept 2005

Here is a link with some Amateur Radio Frequencies and advice for hams. Here is the advice:

Amateur nets move around. Just tune the band for anyone obviously
using procedures. 20 meters above 14100 is prime hunting territory
in day time, and 75 meter USB is common at night.

The ARRL has an Emergency Service letter dated 03 Sept '05.
"Here's how you can help now. Keep frequencies with any kind of relief traffic clear -- that means listen only, don't be a policeman. Have patience. If you want to go to the area to assist with communications or other activities, contact the Red Cross or other relief agencies. They have required training courses before you can be deployed, so do not be surprised if you are told "no." Donate money. Coordinate your travel offer for ARES mutual assistance with your SEC. Do not attempt to travel to the area on your own." -W4STB

Monday, September 05, 2005

Bring Back Alcohol Prohibition?

Instapundit links to an article about the DEA being nostalgic for alcohol prohibition.

They cite the fact that alcohol consumption was cut by 2/3s. They also mention dramatic reductions of liver cirrhosis. OK let us fact check their asses.

What exactly were the dramatic reductions? About 10% to 20%.. Now I'd say that the correlation was weak. Why would it be weak? The simple reason is most users use responsibly and prohibition deters them. Prohibition does not deter the most irrespponsible users.

I'd expect the deal with other drugs is about the same. Prohibition only deters responsible users. So what good is it? Well it is what I like to call Republican Socialism: price supports for criminals. Which are indirect supports for law enforcement. Well what we can say from an economic point of view is this: it takes a hell of a lot of crime to get a few more cops on the street. We all knew socialism was not too effective. More proof.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Disaster and Plug in Hybrids

Disaster has struck America. It is early days yet but estimates are that the Gulf Coast has suffereded between 40,000 and 400,000 dead.

The question is what can we do to better prepare ourselves for the next disaster?

A lot of things it turns out.

I'm going to talk about one.

Plug in hybrid autos. They make a lot of sense when gasoline is hard to get. You plug in the vehicle and you are good for a short trip about 3 to 30 miles depending on how much battery is included in the vehicle.

Not much good when there is no electricity you say? Correct. So how will plug in hybrids help? With a slight modification a battery charger can work in reverse and make AC house current. Here is an excellent example of what is available today if you want to make your own plug in hybrid generator vehicle. It is kind of pricey for a single unit, however they do give volume discounts. What you get is the ability to generate 20 KW of electricity. Think of what a few thousand such vehicles on the road would mean in an emergency.

I think the first car company to come out with such a package would be a big hit.