Obamacare

What Obama's 2013 Budget Says About the Drug War, Police Militarization, and Intellectual Property

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The Drug War

President Obama's budget for Fiscal Year 2013 contains something akin to good news for Americans affected by the drug war. While light on specifics, the summary for the Department of Justice's FY2013 budget mentions several provisions to reduce America's appalling incarceration rate:

The Budget provides $153 million in prisoner reentry and jail diversion programs, including $80 million for the Second Chance Act programs and $52 million for problem-solving grants supporting drug courts, mentally ill offender assistance, and other problem-solving approaches. With 2.3 million people in U.S. prisons and 1 in 32 American adults under some kind of correctional supervision, these programs aim to divert individuals from incarceration, reduce recidivism, and achieve public safety in a more sensible way.

The section addressing federal prisons also hints at a public-health approach to drug law enforcement. While the the budget increases federal prison spending by 4 percent over FY2012 "due to projected growth in the Federal detainee population," the section also says "the Administration will also continue to explore opportunities to reduce the prison population, with a focus on non-violent offenders." 

Police Militarization

Typically when we refer to police militarization, we're talking about raids, the rush to violence when dealing with citizens who may or may not have committed crimes, and the use of military grade weapons/vehicles/toys. Obama's budget calls for specific militarization of police, by promising local law enforcement more federal funds if they hire veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan:

The Budget provides $257 million to support America's first responders and the hiring and retention of police officers and sheriffs' deputies across the country, and includes a preference for the hiring of post–9/11 veterans. This funding builds on the $166 million in COPS Hiring Grants funding enacted in 2012. These investments assist in building capacity to enable State and local law enforcement partners to make the most of their resources and encourage their most promising and effective public safety efforts.  The Budget includes $4 billion in immediate assistance for the retention, rehiring, and hiring of police officers in 2012, as requested by the President in the American Jobs Act.  States and localities will gain a preference for implementing programs and policies that focus on the recruitment of post–9/11 veterans for law enforcement positions.

If there's evidence that veterans make worse cops than civilians, I haven't seen it. But there is something disconcerting about shuffling veterans from the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan to American streets.

Intellectual Property

The raid and shut-down of file-sharing site Megaupload was likely the first of many, if Obama's budget is an indicator:

Recent technological advances, particularly in methods of manufacturing and distribution, have created new opportunities for businesses of all sizes to innovate and grow. These advancements, however, have also created new vulnerabilities, which tech-savvy criminals are eager to exploit. As a result, there has been an alarming rise in intellectual property (IP) crimes, illegal activities that not only devastate individual lives and legitimate businesses, but undermine our financial stability and prosperity. Therefore, the Administration is devoting nearly $40 million to identify and defeat intellectual property criminals, an increase of $5 million over 2012. The Administration's efforts have already resulted in shutting down 350 websites engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and copyrighted works. Additionally, international partnerships and joint initiatives have enabled experts to train or educate in IP protection more than 2,500 foreign judges, prosecutors, investigators, and other officials from over 30 countries.

More reporting from Reason on Obama's FY2013 budget proposal: Nick Gillespie with three "must-see charts" about Obama's budget; Peter Suderman on the claim that Obamacare reduces the deficit

NEXT: A. Barton Hinkle on the War Against Sugar

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  1. “…prisoner reentry…”

    At least they’re now explicitly admitting to subsidizing prison rape.

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  2. So you’re talking $450 million. Hardly worth wasting any breath on at this point. Yeah, yeah, all of those things are bad. I get it.

  3. But there is something disconcerting about shuffling veterans from the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan to American streets.

    Who better to keep the peasants in line than soldiers?

    1. I seem to remember Reason reporting on soldiers who feel that US SWAT-style dynamic entry techniques endanger all parties involved and aren’t even used in the battle-zone. Maybe, just maybe, after serving in a place where the average citizen really does want to kill you, that they’ll realize the average American they’re paid to protect probably doesn’t.

      At the very least, they’ll actually know how to use the military-grade weapons given to LE agencies.

      One can hope…

    2. For their own sake, I hope they don’t push too far, because a one-hundred-million-man army might just be mobilized through outrage if domestic law enforcement becomes a de facto military enterprise.

      1. Hahaha… you really think 100 million people are going to put down the remote control for a few hours? Good luck with that.

        You might get 100 million ‘likes’ on FB and a bunch of form letters emailed to congress, but beyond that…

        1. The state of our moral character really HAS degraded so amazingly, hasn’t it?

          1. The American Experiment has failed, for a government that celebrates liberty must also be paired with a moral people.

            We have neither.

      2. domestic law enforcement becomes a de facto military enterprise

        You mean that it isn’t?

        1. Only partially, and it’s already a murderous abomination. What happens if it becomes total?

          1. Then this country will be just like the rest of the world.

            1. Are you TRYING to make me drink myself into a stupor? *Sob*.

              1. there is no try. only do.

                Also, fried chicken.

    3. It’s as if they KNOW that their actions are, at some point, going to inspire armed resistance, and they’re planning a strategy to combat it without ACTUALLY using the military.

      They’ll just use a police force made up of ex-military men, many of whom engaged in battle and were trained to wield a gun for the sole purpose of killing, and armed with all of the latest military toys. What could go wrong?

      A veteran friend of mine, who had the displeasure of working, while in Iraq, with a reserve unit comprised primarily of cops, once told me that “Soldiers make terrible cops and cops make terrible soldiers.”

      I’m generally not the “there oughtta be a law” kind of guy, but there really ought to be a law against allowing returning veterans from becoming police officers. Instead, they’re encouraging it. Fucking great.

  4. Hmm, I don’t like any of those things. So I guess I won’t be supporting Mr. Obama’s budget. Because, you know, I was seriously considering doing so before today.

    1. Nuclear Gangrene and Mittens are tea-bagging scum who hates homosexual black people, and Ron Paul is a Nazi. Obama is the only choice, comrade citizen-subject.
      Obama 2012/2016/2020/2024/4lyf!

  5. Obama’s decision on the super PAC: Stand on principle or increase the risk of losing re-election?

    February 14, 2012 by jimmycsays [Kansas City]

    Sometimes, my beloved New York Times tends to get too liberal and idealistic for my Democratic tastes.

    One of the things I love about The Times is that it holds politicians to extremely high standards ? as it should, of course ? and seldom lowers the bar.

    But in an editorial last Wednesday, The Times held President Barack Obama to an unrealistically high bar, in my opinion, when it chided him for deciding to cooperate with a super PAC called Priorities USA Action.

    The Times said that Obama’s announcement “fully implicates the president, his campaign and his administration in the pollution of the political system unleashed by Citizens United and related court decisions.”

    By agreeing to play ball with a super PAC, the editorial went on, Obama “gave in to the culture of the Citizens United decision that he once denounced as a ‘threat to our democracy.’ ”

    The editorial ran under the headline, “Another Campaign for Sale.” The subhead said, “President Obama reverses position and joins the sleazy ‘Super PAC’ money race.”

    1. In defense of the NYT, which is not easy to do, they have derided all politicians that have participated in the Super PACs. The fact that they called Obama out so sharply is likely due to the fact that he was so vocal in his opposition to them.

      Their incorrect assessment on Citizens United and their intentionally misleading statements about it’s effects on politics are another story.

      1. That is only a defendable position if you think there is something wrong with political action committees. I do not view this as the problem.

        1. Neither do I. That’s why I made sure to note that they are wrong and misleading on Citizens United.

      2. As the NYT was part of the group of beneficiaries of the pre-CU legal landscape (ie, the “press”), I doubt they’re innocent mistakes.

      3. The NYT hates SuperPACs because they reduce the effect of Unions. Their chiding Obama is window dressing. Both are dominated by the Sinker mentality. And the NYT misleading on any story is part and parcel of their Sinker mindset. Once more people study and understand the Sinker influence to soon we will be able to return to the freedom of our birthright. That is all…

        1. “The NYT hates SuperPACs because they reduce the effect of Unions”

          I’d say it has more to do with reducing the influence of the NYT. Harder to control the narrative when everyone has freedom of the press.

          1. Very possibly a contributing factor. Though they most likely are uncomfortable with anyone on their team loosing ground to the competition. And of course you know they hate competition. Thanks for sharing Zeb. That is all…

    2. “One of the things I love about The Times is that it holds politicians to extremely high standards ? as it should, of course ? and seldom lowers the bar.”

      Hahahhahaaahahhaahahahaha!

    3. I thought candidates weren’t supposed to coordinate with the Super PACs. How can Obama have anything to say one way or the other about what a super PAC does? Wouldn’t telling the PAC not to support him in his campaign be coordinating with the PAC?

  6. The Budget provides $257 million to support America’s first responders and the hiring and retention of police officers and sheriffs’ deputies across the country, and includes a preference for the hiring of post?9/11 veterans.

    When did our nation start allowing our government to actually incentivize hiring one class of people over another? It’s not only in direct conflict with the principle of “created equal,” but smacks of prejudice.

    Not that I’d ever want to be a cop, but there are probably a lot of qualified people out there that would want to be a cop but have a conscientious objection to serving in a military. Those people now have a distinct and government-enforced disadvantage.

    1. ^^THIS^^ That is the objection to this program. Instead Riggs gives the bullshit “hiring veterans is icky” line. Who says we owe veterans a job?

      That is a sensible argument. And one to which there really isn’t a good response. But Riggs’ “there is no evidence but I still feel there must be something wrong with veterans” line is just insulting bullshit.

      1. Pretty much every federal, state, and local agency gives hiring preferences to veterans (which bothers me a lot less than preferences based on race, gender, etc., etc.). I think veterans are less likely to be trigger-happy than civilian cops, not more.

        1. I agree that they probably do make better cops. But not always. And I object to blanket preferences.

          1. It could go both ways.

    2. “When did our nation start allowing our government to actually incentivize hiring one class of people over another?”

      It has been happening for 40 years or so. At least with hiring the vets, they might get a few people who are able to do the job. Not like most affirmative action hires.

      1. At least with hiring the vets, they might get a few people who are able to do the job.

        It depends on what they define “the job” as. And therein is the problem. Police departments often hire former military for the wrong reason: to show how badass they are.

        It’s the same reason they sport combat gear rather than older constabulatory-looking uniforms, buzzcut their hair and wear blade sunglasses, the reason they all wear flak-jackets even though the incident of civilians shooting at them is dramatically low, the reason they purchase tanks for their departments and the reason they like to perform dynamic entry raids.

    3. The federal government should not be involved with state and local government employment at all, except for in regards to a few things like speech and discrimination.

      We have another round of Vietnam-like veterans coming up. I would prefer they become private sector professionals. Police have enough ego and entitlement problems as it is.

      1. Let me clarify this real quick. I believe that public sector jobs will if anything bring out the worst of “I was in Irak, maaaaaaan.” More so if we concentrate them in the public sector with these affirmative action type things.

    4. Federal government has had a hiring preference for veterans for as long as I can remember. But this is a new level of federal meddling in local govt hiring.

  7. That budget doesn’t look so bad. Wait, that first phone book says Appendix.

    1. PHONE BOOKS.

      how much is spent producing those fucking things, and the goddamn budget won’t even get approved.

      I hope they’re at least recycling the paper between never-gonna-get-approved revisions.

      1. Unused phone books are collated in the National Archives.

      2. They have to produce enough information to increase the likelihood that no one will bother reading it.

  8. But there is something disconcerting about shuffling veterans from the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan to American streets.

    When we like them they are our brave men and women whose service everyone everywhere makes sure to say they are thankful for. When we don’t like them they are enforcers of the corporatist state whose presence everyone everywhere fears.

    1. That Riggs quote makes me very angry. It is only disconcerting if you are a prejudiced ass.

      If Riggs wants to object to veterans preferences on account of them being unfair to everyone else, he will get no argument from me. But that quote is utter bullshit.

      1. I agree — it’s off.

      2. I would hazard a guess that the majority of vets that they attract with this program served as military police.

        1. The ones most likely to “SIEG HEIL, REICHSFUHRER”.

          1. Actually, I think these troops are the ones most likely to do that.

  9. “the Administration will also continue to explore opportunities to reduce the prison population, with a focus on non-violent offenders.”

    Didn’t someone link to an article about some government entity reclassifying drug possession as a violent crime? Because fuck you, that’s why.

    1. God forgive us, Americans, for what we’ve done to our inheritance.

  10. just stop. Obama’s budget “says” nothing beyond “I am proposing a spending plan that neither house is going to consider, let alone pass. I want it that way because it lets me campaign agaisnt the do-nothing Congress.”

    It’s a campaign ploy, nothing else. Stop treating it like a serious proposal.

  11. Could we please stop pretending that this “budget” document means anything at all?

    It certainly isn’t intended to have any affect on actual government outlays or programs, we all know that.

    It isn’t even an indication of what Obama really wants.

    All it is, is the Obama administration’s guess at what sorts of talking points will win a few votes in November.

    1. Well, it gave me some billable work this morning.* but I really don’t get why clients want to know what’s in a budget plan that ultimately won’t go anywhere

      *this counts as a job saved.

  12. the Administration will also continue to explore opportunities to reduce the prison population, with a focus on non-violent offenders

    One should read this as “How can we can get them to do work for no money so we don’t have to spend money housing them in a lock-up?”

  13. This morning, as I was channel-surfing, I paused briefly at Morning Joke; just long enough to hear the tail end of an “interview” with some guy who apparently just wrote a book detailing the AWESOMENESS of the FBI.

    The wrap-up included some back and forth about how, “It was tough, but we managed to combat the scourge of terror and make the country safer without sacrificing our liberties or the essence of what makes this country exceptional.”

    This claim went unchallenged by all and sundry. I hate those fuckers.

    1. You know Brooksie, self-flagellation is a lot better than that show for not only the mind, but for the body as well.

      1. google didn’t help: how many calories you think get burned in an hour of self-flagellation? need for my calorie tracker, thx.

        Also, fried chicken.

        1. I couldn’t find it either. All I come across are blogs by nationally-ranked strength athletes. We may have to wait until a cop smokes an unarmed and defenseless civilian and then we can ask dunphy.

          I predict we will be able to ask him within a few hours.

  14. The Administration’s efforts have already resulted in shutting down 350 websites engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and copyrighted works.

  15. How many calories does Fearless Fosdick burn “schooling” us bigoratiarians? Must be thousands.

    1. Don’t you mean “how many calories does dunphy burn while furiously masturbating to cop-kills-citizen threads?”

      The answer is: one too many.

  16. If even one person (just ONE!!!!!) on one of those “news analysis” shows would laugh out loud when somebody makes a flagrantly specious claim about anything, I would be deeply grateful.

    Amazed, but grateful.

    1. Cool story, bro.

  17. It seems that the government is waging a new unwinnable war that benefits no one except those in power and victimizes people for performing harmless actions. I dub it the war on file-sharing. Expect more money to be pissed away, more lives and families broken, and more bullshit from government officials and lobbyists.

  18. If there’s evidence that veterans make worse cops than civilians, I haven’t seen it. But there is something disconcerting about shuffling veterans from the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan to American streets.

    Given that one of the major reasons for pulling out of Iraq was that US soldiers would not be given immunity for atrocities committed in that country, this does not strike me as remotely a good idea.

  19. Very good article.

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