Politico Magazine has a
lengthy expose by Garrett M. Graff of the financially bloated,
systemically corrupt, often violent U.S. Customs and Border
Earlier manifestations of the CBP, such as the Immigration and
Naturalization service, have historically been understaffed,
underfunded, and largely ignored. But the post-9/11 hysteria
heightened fears about border security, leading to the creation of
the CBP under the Department of Homeland Security. It also ensured
that the new border protection agency would get a generous share of
the national security cash pie.
The CBP during the Bush years morphed into a goliath lumbering
along America's borders. Tom Ridge, Bush's post-9/11 homeland
security czar, recalled that "people just wanted to give me
unlimited amounts of money."
The agency would eventually grow into "the nation's largest law
enforcement agency, with its 46,000 gun-carrying customs officers
and border patrol agents and massive $12.4 billion annual
Customs and Border Protection not only employs some 60,000 total
personnel—everything from desert agents on horseback to insect
inspectors at airports—but also operates a fleet of some 250
planes, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles like the Predator
drones the military sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, making CBP both
the largest law enforcement air force in the world and equivalent
roughly to the size of Brazil's entire combat air force.
The Border Patrol wing of this vast apparatus has experienced
particularly dramatic growth: By the time the Bush administration
left Washington, the fiercely independent agency—part police force,
part occupying army, part frontier cavalry—had gone from being a
comparatively tiny, undermanned backwater of the Justice Department
to a 21,000-person arm of the largest federal law enforcement
agency in the country.
The Bush administration had been keen on increasing the
capabilities of the agency as quickly as possible. This urgency
came with its own human price tag—one the Obama administration has
been unwilling to address:
Corruption and excessive force have also skyrocketed along with
the massive hiring surge. In fact, between 2005 and 2012, nearly
one CBP officer was arrested for misconduct every single day—part
of a pattern that Ronald Hosko, former assistant director of the
FBI's criminal investigation division, calls "shocking." During
Obama's first term, the sheer number of allegations was so glaring
that, according to two CBP officials, DHS under Secretary Janet
Napolitano ordered Customs and Border Protection to change its
definition of corruption to downplay to Congress the breadth of the
That redefinition differentiated between two supposedly distinct
types of corruption:
The agency began to differentiate between "mission-compromising
corruption"—bribery, narcotics-smuggling or human-smuggling
allegations—and "non-mission-compromising corruption," a "lesser"
category of cases that included things like employees' sexually
assaulting detainees or workplace theft. Only the
"mission-compromising" problems, the agency now decreed, would be
reported to Congress…The distinction helped them wipe nearly a
third of the corruption cases out of statistics.
Graff lists some examples:
There was the Miami CBP officer who used his law enforcement
status to bypass airport security and personally smuggle cocaine
and heroin into Miami. There was the green-uniformed agent in
Yuma, Arizona, who was caught smuggling 700 pounds of marijuana
across the border in his green-and-white Border Patrol truck; the
brand-new 26-year-old Border Patrol agent who joined a
drug-smuggling operation to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of
marijuana in Del Rio, Texas.
Not to mention the excessive force complaints, the victims of
CBP assault, and those killed by trigger-happy border agents.
The expansion of the CBP into one of the most dangerous
government agencies in America should be deeply unsettling to
everyone—particularly now, when roughly two-thirds of Americans
a "border" zone where the government claims the right to
conduct stops and searches without warrant or cause.
Many Americans have contended that the last two presidential races and countless others have been rigged – here’s your smoking gun. Non-citizens are actively being registered to vote – which
Are we heading into a new Cold War with Russia?
Secretary of State John Kerry says it's even worse.
"The Cold War was easy compared to where we are today," Kerry
said yesterday at a forum in Washington, D.C. It's a dramatic
turnaround from the United States' position several years ago when
Hillary Clinton, who held the secretary of state position just
before Kerry, symbolically "reset" American-Russian relations in
what was supposed to a newly amicable era.
reports emerged of American diplomats in Russia having their
tires slashed, computers hacked, and experiencing break-ins. Kerry
confronted his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
over the reported harassment. But that's just the tip of the
The Washington Post on Tuesday
broke news that White House computers were breached by hackers
believed to be working for the Russian government. "Russia is
regarded by U.S. officials as being in the top tier of states with
Furthermore, "Russian bombers may be flying nuclear strike
drills over the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea, current and former
U.S. Air Force officers believe,"
states The Daily Beast:
Since Oct. 28, NATO air defenses have detected and monitored
four groups of Russian combat aircraft over the Baltic Sea, North
Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and Black Sea. Norwegian F-16 fighters
intercepted one particular group of Russian aircraft on Oct. 29
that included four, nuclear-capable Tupolev Tu-95 Bear H strategic
bombers and four Ilyushin Il-78 aerial refueling tankers. Once
intercepted, six of the Russian aircraft headed for home while the
two remaining Tu-95 bombers continued southwest, parallel to the
Norwegian coast, before eventually turning back towards Russia.
The giant, propeller-driven Tu-95 is a launch platform for the
1,600 nautical mile range Raduga Kh-55 nuclear-tipped cruise
missile. The weapon carries a 200-kiloton nuclear warhead; by
comparison, the bomb that destroyed Nagasaki was a mere 21
The foray into European airspace by the Tu-95 Bear bombers is
cause for concern. That's not just because of the Bear bomber's
long-range nuclear weapons capability, but also because of the
Russian's general disregard for international air traffic norms.
Not only did the Russians not file a proper flight plan, they also
did not have active transponders—which would allow civilian air
traffic controllers to see them. The situation could lead to a
serious accident where an airliner might collide with a Russian
The combination of hacking and dangerous flying represent the
old and the updated techniques of Cold War signal-sending,"
suggests The New York Times' David Sanger. "In the
Soviet era, both sides probed each other's defenses, hoping to
learn something from the reaction those tests of will created."
NATO, for which the U.S. is the largest supplier of troops and
funding, has essentially broken off relations with Russia, and is
for a greater military presence in Eastern Europe since Vladimir
Putin began a bloody, brutal invasion and annexation of parts of
Ukraine earlier this year.
Poland, a NATO member, isn't taking any chances with Russian
aggression in its backyard. The nation
announced this week that it may move thousands of troops to its
eastern border to ward of Putin. Nearby, Sweden spent part of
October hunting down what it believed to be a Russian submarine
lurking in its waters, prompting a sudden shift in
popular support for joining NATO.
Russia is returning to Cold War practices at home, too. Half the
nation's people fear
Soviet-style mass repression will happen again in their
lifetime. Reason has talked to several Russian
libertarians about the
domestic crackdown on
political opposition and the press.
Human activity is remaking the
face of the Earth: transforming and polluting the landscape,
warming the atmosphere and oceans, and causing species to go
extinct. The orthodox view among ecologists is that human
liberty—more specifically economic activity and free markets—is to
blame. For example, the prominent biologist-activists Paul and Anne
Ehrlich of Stanford University recently argued in a British science
journal that the environmental problems we face are driven by
"overpopulation, overconsumption of natural resources and the use
of unnecessarily environmentally damaging technologies and
socio-economic-political arrangements to service Homo
sapiens' aggregate consumption." The Ehrlichs urge the
"reduction of the worship of 'free' markets that infests the
discipline" of economics. Reason Science Correspondent
Ronald Bailey asks in an essay over at The New Atlantis if
liberty and the natural environment are, in fact, antithetical.
I love it when the media publish two completely contradictory reports; in this case, it's about the state of Maine's attempt to impose a mandatory quarantine on nurse Kaci Hickox, in which Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere has ruled... something.
The Associated Press says: Judge Rejects Ebola Quarantine for Nurse.
FORT KENT, ...
Most of Sean Haugh's positions are pretty
much what you would expect from a Libertarian Party candidate.
Haugh, who's running for U.S. Senate in North Carolina, favors
legalizing marijuana and opposes any restrictions on abortion. He
says his top priority is to end "all war." But nestled among the
unremarkable is one stance that's, well, not like the others.
The Weekly Standard
Asked if he thought it was a mistake to reject additional
federal funding to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, Haugh replied,
"The rejection of the Medicaid expansion dollars—which on the
surface you could kind of make a libertarian case for—but the end
users have suffered."
The notion that choosing not to expand a massive welfare program
is only "kind of" a libertarian thing to do is a bit of a head
scratcher. Federal grants to the states for Medicaid and the Child
Health Insurance Program totaled $265 billion in 2012. Under
Obamacare, states can get even more money in exchange for agreeing
to let a wider population, including non-disabled adults without
children, into the program.
A number of states, including North Carolina, have opted to
forgo the extra funds after the Supreme Court in 2012 issued a
decision that safeguards their ability to do so without facing
retribution from Washington.
Haugh's position seems to be that lawmakers in Raleigh were
wrong for not voluntarily adding another 800,000-or-so people to
their Medicaid rolls. In a July 12
Facebook post, the Senate hopeful went even
further, implying that when states don't expand the program,
"people die." As evidence, he linked to a
news story about a North Carolina hospital that will soon be
Vidant Health System executives cited North Carolina's decision
not to participate in federally funded Medicaid expansion as a
factor in the decision to close the hospital.
Haugh, who has worked in the hospital industry, talked about
this issue at more length in a
video for his campaign website. "As a libertarian, I
definitely want to reform and eventually eliminate federal
involvement in health care," he says in the video. "But I'll be
damned if I'm going to throw grandma out on the street to
Two “Stop the Violence” Protesters Arrested for Beating Man Until He Had Seizures & Was Vomiting Blood
Irony in action… I have long said those calling the loudest for justice and peace out there are the most violent among us. Unfortunately for a far Left radical, “Stop
When a Marine who has undoubtedly seen and fought the unspeakable terrors condoned and performed by Muslims sees that his daughter has been assigned a sugar-coated essay about Islam, he
In the Colorado Senate race, Democrat
Mark Udall, the incumbent, has arguably pursued the "War on Women"
strategy with more vigor than any other Democrat this year. He's
run so many ads focused on the “women’s issues” of contraception
and abortion that he's been dubbed "Mark
The strategy doesn’t appear to be working very well. Although
Udall leads by six points amongst likely women voters, who support
him 45-39, Udall is down overall against his Republican opponent,
Cory Gardner, who leads with 46 percent of likely voters overall,
according to a Quinnipac poll released yesterday. With just 39
percent of likely voters saying they plan to support Udall, he’s
down by seven points.
A new poll from the Associated Press helps explain why this
strategy, versions of which are being run by Democratic candidates
across the country, is falling flat: This year, most voters care
more about economic issues than social issues.
Via the AP:
Only 32 percent of likely voters called gay marriage an
important issue, compared with 91 percent ranking the economy
important, 78 percent with similar concerns about health care and
74 percent naming Ebola important. The issue that some Democrats
have emphasized most of all - abortion rights - also has been a
relatively low priority, with only 43 percent of likely voters in a
September poll ranking it important.
…One domestic issue that remains a priority for Americans is
health care. Only 3 in 10 say they support the overhaul passed in
2010, while nearly half (48 percent) oppose it.
Democrats are running on issues that many voters consider low
priority. But they may not have had much choice. As a Gallup poll
foundrecently, Democrats are winning on issues like contraception,
but Republicans are now
more trusted on higher priority issues like the economy and the
budget deficit. As Gallup concluded, “it has become pretty clear
that Republicans have a distinct and emerging issue advantage in
the 2014 campaign.”
Part of what’s fascinating is that this is happening despite how
thin the GOP agenda continues to be. Republicans have campaigned
heavily against Obama this year, but have been reluctant to offer
specifics about what they support. Democrats are running on the
wrong issues; Republicans are running on no issues. Yet voters seem
to prefer whatever it is the GOP stands for to what Democrats have
already done and still have to offer.
But what this also suggests is the increasing weakness of the
Democratic agenda as well. We have been hearing for years now that
the GOP is out of ideas, and there is an awful lot of truth to
that. But Democrats do not seem to have much of a grand to-do list
either. And what they do have does not seem to be particularly
motivating. As I've argued before, we’ve entered a post-policy
moment for both parties, in which both sides have exhausted
their agendas. Whatever comes next is going to be very
The City of South Miami wants to secede from
Florida. No, not by itself: In a
resolution passed earlier this month, the mayor and city
commission proposed that 24 counties leave the state together,
setting up a new state that they'd call South Florida and forcing
the rest of us to confront the thought of a world with two Floridas
Like many of the country's secessionist movements, which pop up
periodically in regions ranging from eastern
western Maryland and from
northern California to New
York City, the Miami revolt reflects a cultural divide. North
Florida is more southern than South Florida—yes, I know how weird
that sentence sounds—and that sometimes manifests itself in ways
more consequential than whether there are any good Cuban
restaurants in town. Right now, the resolution complains, "in order
to address the concerns of South Florida, it is necessary to travel
to Tallahassee in North Florida. Often South Florida issues do not
receive the support of Tallahassee. This is despite the fact that
South Florida generates more than 69% of the state's revenue and
contains 67% of the state's population." Similar sentiments
inspired a pair of split-the-state resolutions a few years ago in
the towns of
North Lauderdale and Margate.
But there's another factor this time: fear of climate change.
The built-up coastal communities on the southern tip of the state
are worried about rising sea levels, and they don't think they're
getting the support they need from the legislature. Here's a
section from the South Miami resolution:
Whereas, climate change is a
scientific reality resulting in global warming and rising sea
Whereas, it is estimated that there will be a 3 to
6 foot sea level rise by the end of this century. In addition,
South Florida has very porous rock and, as the level of the sea
rises, the pressure will cause water to rise up through the ground
and flood the inland areas; and
Whereas, South Florida's situation is very
precarious and in need of immediate attention. Many of the issues
facing South Florida are not political, but are now significant
We're used to hearing global warming invoked to justify
centralization, not decentralization. Occasionally someone like
Elinor Ostrom will break with
that consensus, but that's rare. The general assumption is that
the way to deal with climate change is to try to prevent it at
the source, and that the way to prevent it is to create a globally
binding agreement. World leaders haven't
had much luck with that plan so far, and I doubt that's going
to change anytime soon.
And so we're hearing more about adaptation as
well as prevention. But adaptation is a decentralized process, not
a centralized one, with adjustments made by ports, private
companies, city and county governments, and other entities directly
affected by changing conditions. That doesn't mean the feds are
left out—they're getting hit up for subsidies and other sorts of
help—but the decisions are being made at relatively local levels,
and not always in the public sector. Those decisions don't
always even require people to agree about what causes warming or
whether it's happening at all. When my wife covers the effects of
rising sea levels on the Eastern Shore or the
islands of the Chesapeake Bay, the locals will often tell her
they think the streets are being flooded because of erosion or poor
drainage rather than climate change. But that doesn't mean they
don't want to do anything about it.
This is the other side of climate politics: a messy and largely
local trial-and-error process being carried out far from the
international summits that seize the headlines. That, plus the
occasional flare-up into something strange, like a secessionist
movement in the Miami suburbs. Save your Spanish doubloons, boys,
South Florida will rise again!
Last night, my daughter's school had a little pre-Halloween
parade. She's 3. She was wearing a pink tutu. A nice-looking older
lady was standing on the parade route handing out baggies of candy
to the army of Elsas and Iron Men, none of whom were older than 9
or 10. When we got home, I checked out her spoils (though
not because I was afraid of razor blades or poison). This is
what I found:
That's right, it's a 24-page anti-marijuana tract in a baggie
with some bribery candy. Which someone thought would be appropriate
to hand out to elementary school kids.
Luckily, my daughter can't read. But plenty of the kids at her
school can. (Or at least I hope so.) And if they cracked open this
booklet while munching on Bit o' Honeys, here's what they would
The last page of the tract says that "millions of copies of
booklets such as this have been distributed to people around the
world in 22 languages." The publisher is the Foundation for a
Drug-Free World, a Los Angeles–based nonprofit.
Naturally, I went to the Google to figure out what the heck was
going on. Short answer: It looks like Scientology dressed up
as a drug warrior this Halloween.
You can read a little more about the Foundation for a Drug-Free
World in their own words on an official Scientology
or on Wikipedia here.
But essentially the organization is a way to grab people with
substance abuse problems and funnel them into Narconon, which
promotes L. Ron Hubbard's
rather unorthodox views about addiction.
There's nothing wrong with giving kids a little age-appropriate
information about drugs, and this lady was well within her rights
to hand out these pamphlets on a public street. I'm more than happy
to provide counter-propaganda in the form of Jacob Sullum's
oeuvre when the time is right. But it's unlikely the
well-meaning parade organizers would smile upon their Halloween
festivities being used as a Scientology recruitment ground.
Yet no one thought to question her. Why? Probably because, to
their eyes, she looked like an obvious good guy. Marijuana's legal
status may be changing, but she was doling out materials more or
less identical to what will be foisted on kids during official
school activities for the rest of their lives. We've become so numb
to outrageous anti-drug scaremongering that someone can hand a
3-year-old ballerina a booklet with stories about people dying of
cancer and teachers urging kids to use heroin and no one bats an
More often than not, we see stories about men burglarizing homes, but rarely do we hear about such behavior from women. Unfortunately for these two ladies, the punishment for any
Last week King County, Washington, Sheriff John
Urquhart, speaking at a conference in California, alternated
between praising his state's approach to marijuana legalization and
conceding that implementation has been more than a little bumpy.
His overall message: Things are great, and it will all work out in
the end. In my latest Forbes column, I explore the
reasons for such ambivalence. Here is how it starts:
Next week voters in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington,
D.C., will decide whether to legalize marijuana. If they
look for guidance to the two states that took that step in 2012,
they will see a situation in Colorado that falls far
short of the cannabis catastrophe predicted by
prohibitionists. The legal industry is thriving, although it has
not entirely displaced the black market yet, and
marijuana-related problems are minimal so far, although controversy
swirls around issues such as regulation of
edibles and restrictions on consumption. If voters
contemplating legalization turn their attention to Washington,
which has been plagued by regulatory delays and uncertainty, there
are lessons to be learned there too, but they mostly
concern what not to do.
In Vendargues, a small French town near Montpellier, there will
be one classic costume conspicuously missing this Halloween. Under
decree by Mayor Pierre Dudieuzere, no resident age 13 or above
shall wear a clown costume or clown makeup in public this October
So what are we looking at here? An extreme case of coulrophobia? Au
contraire! It seems nearby cities and towns have been terrorized by
evil teenage clowns for the past several weeks. Dudieuzere said
he's merely aiming to "avoid confusion and eventual disruption on
the occasion of the feast of Halloween."
Vendargues' ban on clowning around in public lasts through
November 30, 2014, although an extension is possible if "the
evolution of this phenomenon" of menacing clowns continues. Those
who break the clown ban will be arrested and prosecuted, though the
decree does not say what the punishment is. Also no word on whether
mimes are prohibited.
According to the BBC, French police have recently arrested more than
a dozen teen clowns who were "frightening passers-by" with
weapons and sometimes physically assaulting people. "The incidents
appeared to be fuelled by a clown craze on social media," the BBC
article reports cryptically.
A story from earlier in the week elaborates on
this alleged evil clown "social media craze", which apparently
is not just a phénomène français but an "international trend."
"Earlier this month in the US, there were several reports of
scary clowns in California, Florida and New Mexico," the
BBC's Anne-Marie Tomchak reports.
Photos of clowns were shared on social media accounts using the
name "Wasco Clown". The Wasco Clown was was originally an art
project featuring photos of an anonymous clown in the town of the
same name. It inspired copycats, with some sharing disturbing
images of clowns in intimidating scenarios. Social media accounts
using the Wasco Clown name built up a following on Twitter and Instagram.
There was also on a tribute
Yes, folks, anyone in the whole world who posts clown photos to
the Internet is clearly part of this global violent clown
conspiracy. Don't worry, though: "Social media is also being used
as part of a counter movement. In France, police say groups are
organising online to track down the clowns and they're taking the
matter very seriously," Tomchak notes.
According to the
French Ministry of the Interior, several clown hunters were
arrested carrying batons and brass knuckles. "Possession of a
weapon on a public road is an offense punishable by imprisonment,"
says the Ministry in a statement. "Everyone, aggressive clowns
clowns or hunters, discovered in possession of a weapon ... on the
highway will be arrested" and taken into police custody. The
statement also urges French citizens to report "aggressive clowns"
to authorities immediately.
While Mowing the Lawn, a Father Noticed a Bald Spot Under His Daughters’ Window; That Night He Found the Cause
As parents, you want nothing more than to protect your children and make sure they grow up in a safe environment. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. One father in Orlando,
Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI)
has just published an
op-ed in Ozy titled, "What No One is Saying about
Marijuana," where he sounds the alarm that "Addiction is big
business, and with legal marijuana it’s only getting
recidivist drug and alcohol abuser (who has miraculously
avoided jail time despite committing crimes while under
the influence that would send lesser mortals to prison on felony
convictions) arguing for the continued imprisonment of adults
choosing to responsibly consume a substance is rich in its own
right. But for a third-generation Kennedy to argue against ending
marijuana prohibition because major profits will be made off of it
is head-exploding irony and hypocrisy.
Perhaps the ex-Congressman missed the just-concluded
final season of Boardwalk Empire, which included a major
subplot depicting his grandfather, Joseph P. Kennedy, shrewdly
anticipating the end of alcohol prohibition and getting in on the
ground floor of legally importing liquor into the United States.
With that one move, the politically connected and ruthlessly
ambitious Kennedy patriarch built the fortune which to this day
affords the Kennedy scion the ability to avoid both work and
In today's op-ed, Kennedy's greatest fears for a world without
marijuana prohibition are "Big Tobacco" swooping in and profiting
off the newly legalized substance with a potentially huge consumer
base, and that the "mainstreaming" of marijuana will harm
the mental health of the nation's youth. He
I’ve spent the last several years after leaving Congress
advocating for a health care system that treats the brain like it
does any other organ in the body. Effective mental health care,
especially when it comes to children, is critically important.
Knowing what we now know about the effects of marijuana on the
brain, can we really afford to ignore its consequences in the name
of legalization? Our No. 1 priority needs to be protecting our kids
from this emerging public health crisis. The rights of pot smokers
and the marijuana industry end where our children’s health
Citing one study tying
marijuana with mental illness, Kennedy not only goes nowhere
near the effects
of alcohol on mental health, he makes no
mention of the billions of dollars spent on marketing alcohol to
youths, merely lamenting that when "Big Tobacco" becomes "Big
Marijuana," they will surely "target our kids and profit from
Essentially, a man who owes his money, power, and freedom to
profits made off of selling the
most toxic and deadly drug in existence, wants people to
continue to be locked up for recreational drug use, lest other rich
people make money off of selling drugs.
For more on "The Patriarch" and the booze business that enables
a grandson's passion for prohibition, watch this Reason TV
interview with Joseph P. Kennedy biographer David Nasaw: