Thursday, November 15, 2007

It'll take 20 years to get over it:

Wondering how long it will take until this country's hysterical reaction to terrorism will take to subside? When we can look forward to a full restoration of civil liberties and the abandonment of foolish airport security procedures? Perhaps a look back to the 1980's can be a guide.

In 1986 a promising college basketball player, Len Bias, suffered a fatal cardiac arrhythmia that resulted from a cocaine overdose. It was big news. Really big news. The 9/11 of its day, you might call it. From the (pdf)
Crack was portrayed as a violence inducing, highly addictive plague of inner cities, and this media spotlight led to the quick passage of two federal sentencing laws concerning crack cocaine in 1986 and 1988. The laws created a 100:1 quantity ratio between the amount of crack and powder cocaine needed to trigger certain mandatory minimum sentences for trafficking, as well as creating a mandatory minimum penalty for simple possession of crack cocaine. The result of these laws is that crack users and dealers receive much harsher penalties than users and dealers of powder cocaine.
And now we read in the New York Times editorial: (excerpts, emp add)
Congress did a serious injustice when it imposed much tougher penalties on defendants convicted of selling the crack form of cocaine ...

The federal crack statute was passed during the height of the so-called crack epidemic of the 1980s, when it was widely, but mistakenly, believed that the crack form of the drug was more dangerous than the chemically identical powdered form. [...]

The United States Sentencing Commission, the bipartisan body that sets guidelines for federal prison sentences, urged Congress to eliminate the sentencing disparity more than a decade ago. [...]

... fortunately lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are finally recognizing that the crack laws are both grossly unfair and counterproductive. Senator Joseph Biden, Democrat of Delaware, is sponsoring a comprehensive bill that would wipe out the 100-to-1 disparity, do away with the mandatory minimum sentence for first-time offenders and open up new treatment programs.
It's not a done deal, but an indicator of how long it takes to reverse legislation enacted during a period of hysteria.

So for you out there wondering when waterboarding, domestic spying without a warrant, and abandonment of habeus corpus will be conclusively rejected, you might want to wait until 2021.


Political movements could change the timetable but the first thing we have to focus on is stopping Bush (or Hilary, Obama or a Republican front runner) from bombing Iran. Check this out: See video: U.S. Citizens Speak: Bush, Don't Strike Iran!

By Blogger Tom, at 11/15/2007 7:46 AM  

the u.s. system is unworkable. it's useless trying to do little things and having pet projects. Without a way to get the money out of reelection, you're wasting your time. It's THE only issue. Only when the congressman sees his way to get ahead as doing a good job for the whole country will the u.s. stop burying itself in hell. The u.s. is literally trying to use what remains of its time on earth to try to dig a hole toward hell so there'll be less distance to travel on its death

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/16/2007 12:12 AM  

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