Update: The Youtube video (below) has better sound.
Archive for October, 2007
Kentucky; land of bourbon, horses, and grass. Not bluegrass, mind you:
Deep in the Appalachian woods near the Knox-Bell County line, Kentucky State Police Trooper Dewayne Holden’s Humvee belched smoke and roared as it struggled up what once was an old logging trail. As his three-truck convoy stopped at a clearing atop a 3,000-foot ridge, Holden grabbed a machete and joined eight other armed troopers and National Guard members, hiking toward a hill under some power lines.
Keeping an eye out for nail pits, pipe bombs and poison-snake booby traps, they found fresh ATV tracks. The pot growers had beaten them to the prize: Gone were the 40 to 50 marijuana plants worth as much as $100,000 that Holden spotted from a helicopter more than a week earlier. Only six spindly plants were left.
According to officials at the Office of National Drug Policy’s Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA), Kentucky produces more marijuana than any other state except California, making it home to one of the nation’s more intensive eradication efforts — a yearly game of harvest-time cat and mouse in national forests, abandoned farms, shady hollows, backyards and mountainsides….
Authorities say their efforts keep drugs off the streets and illicit profits out of criminal hands. But critics call it a waste of time and money that has failed to curb availability or demand. “Trying to eradicate marijuana is like taking a teaspoon and saying you’re going to empty the Atlantic Ocean,” says Gary Potter, an Eastern Kentucky University professor of criminal justice who has researched the issue for decades.
The efforts are very popular with the locals….
Many of the small towns of Eastern Kentucky, steeped in a tradition of bootlegging moonshine, also have high rates of unemployment and poverty and in some cases, public corruption, according to federal drug officials. People can make as much as $2,000 from a single plant, an often irresistible draw when good-paying jobs are scarce. Much of what is harvested is carried in car trunks to such cities as Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit, authorities say.
Over time, growing pot has become an “accepted and even encouraged” part of the culture in Appalachia, according to a 2006 report from the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Still, authorities complain that in some counties it is difficult to get a jury to indict, much less convict, a marijuana grower.
Read further to see how eradication efforts have led to… a 1000% increase in domestic marijuana production over the last quarter century. When you’re reading, remember that we’re trying to do the same thing with opium in Afghanistan, and that Kentucky, at least, is blessed by the lack of a brutal insurgency capitalizing on such efforts.
Pundit Rule #1: Blame Must Always Be Equally Apportioned Among the Parties Irrespective of the Facts
Shorter David Ignatius: The fact that the Bush administration reneged on a deal brokered between the director of national intelligence and Democrats in Congress proves that Democrats are unwilling to compromise and putting political interests above national security. Democrats are also to blame for assuming that a general acting as an apologist for a catastrophic Republican policy did not represent an impartial conception of the national interest. [via publius]
During his ascent toward the Supreme Court, where he would eventually serve nearly 20 years as Chief Justice, Rehnquist established himself as a vigorous defender of 19th century racial custom. While serving as a clerk for Associate Justice Robert Jackson in 1952, a youthful Rehnquist drafted an infamous, spritely memo in which he insisted that Plessy — the 1896 case validating the constitutionality of segregation laws — was “right and should be reaffirmed.” As he explained to Jackson,
in the long run it is the majority who will determine what the constitutional rights of the minority are. One hundred and fifty years of attempts on the part of this Court to protect minority rights of any kind — whether those of business, slaveholders, or Jehovah’s Witnesses — have been sloughed off, and crept silently to rest. If the present Court is unable to profit by this example it must be prepared to see its work fade in time, too, as embodying only the sentiments of a transient majority of nine men.
Rehnquist elaborated on this point in another memo the next year, when he informed the justice that “white people of the south don’t like the colored people,” and that the Court could only do so much to alleviate the burdens placed upon minority rights. (These observations, it should be recalled, came less than a decade after World War II had seemingly demonstrated the perils of racial majoritarianism. Then again, Rehnquist’s wartime duty was limited to stateside meteorology, and so his sensitivity to the war’s broader ideological meanings may not have been terribly well sharpened.)
Although Jackson and the eight other justices failed to accept his deference toward herrenvolk democracy, Rehnquist continued to fight the good fight as a private attorney in Phoenix. While the national civil rights movement pursued federal legislation with greater urgency, Rehnquist donated his time to “Operation Eagle Eye,” a voter-suppression effort organized by the state’s Republican Party. For several years, he and other GOP lawyers assembled themselves into flying squads that harassed south Phoenix voters — most of whom were African American and Latino — and challenged their credentials as they waited in line. Rehnquist’s goonery eventually helped earn him a position in the Nixon Justice Department and, before long, on the highest court in the land. Somewhat perversely, William Rehnquist was confirmed to the seat last occupied by John Harlan II, the grandson of Plessy’s lone dissenter and an important advocate for racial equality in his own tenure on the court.
In his 34 years on the bench, Rehnquist helped drag the court rightward, to such a degree that traditional judicial conservatives like John Paul Stevens eventually appeared liberal by comparison. He continued to take a dim view of individual (and especially minority) rights, interpreting the Equal Protection Clause in the sort of narrow terms that would have made his 19th century forebears proud. And in the Chief Justice’s waning years, the Rehnquist Court bequeathed to the nation the singular error known as the Bush Presidency, which — among its other constitutional sins — has presided over (arguably) the worst decline in civil rights since the second Cleveland administration.
All that said, we would be amiss in overlooking Rehnquist’s gift for music. At the annual 4th Circuit Judicial Conference, the Chief Justice used to lead friends and colleagues in rousing choruses of old-time American songs, including an enlightened ditty known as “Dixie.”