Friday, February 7, 2014


Some of us remember when the drinking age was 18 and a kid could drive at 16 if licensed by the State. I don't recall any restrictions on either once you reached the minimum age. It was easy and I thought it made sense. When I was 16 they raised the drinking age in my state but we could still drive to Tennessee and buy beer so I didn't much care. When I went to school, the age in that state was 21, and shortly after I graduated, that became the mandatory Federal minimum age to purchase or consume a beer that was heretofore, as legal as driving a car load of friends to the beach.

For a time, for a very long time, the States set the minimum age for drinking and fenced it with rules and limitations as they saw fit. Then the Federal government got involved and decided to regulate things to make it better. They criminalized and severely penalized what had been legal behavior. It wasn't a big deal when I was young because the mechanism used by the State to enforce the laws was to hold businesses strictly accountable to observe it. You could get busted a hundred times by the store or the bar bouncers for a bad fake ID but nobody called the police.

That wasn't the way the State and Federal government decided to proceed against Americans who violated the Federal government's law against drugs. Whole new agencies of government were created, police at every level moved to establish drug task forces and prosecute every aspect of the drug laws with the broadest application possible. They went after the growers/manufacturers, they went after the sellers/dealers, they went after the buyers and users and then they went after the doctors and people in pain. They criminalized medicine. How funny is that?

Along the way it quickly became clear that the police and federal agents were a major part of the problem. They bought the stuff, sold the stuff, used the stuff. In some perverse way, it became legal for the police to deal drugs but not the rest of the citizens. As their need became greater, they became more rash and allowed fewer and fewer constraints on their behavior. In fact, the police know no restraints on their behavior. I don't think we can point to a single law on the books and say that it was not legal somewhere for the police to break that law. For our own good of course. Yes I am talking about everything from speeding to Justice Department sanctioned killing if that is what it took for an informer to make a case against the mob.

Something changed in the this decade. The drug war which was once perceived as a solid front against everybody in a war waged by every law enforcement official from the meter maid to the FBI and DEA, cracked under the strain of unleashed police violence. People got fed up with the meritless war against the people and rolled back the police authority to proceed against some drugs. In short, they invited the police to Fuck Off.

We're back now to the somewhat chaotic state that reigned in this country up until implementation of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. Remember when it was so legal to buy alcohol at different ages in different states that a lower-age state's borders were wall to wall beer shops at the first highway off ramp? Sure. The police weren't enforcing that law uniformly and the only time it was enforced was at the point of sale. You could transport an ocean of beer legally at ANY age.

On that topic, I come to Ohio after 30 years living in California, Washington and the world and still laugh when I go to the supermarket here to buy wine or beer (which is all they're allowed to sell since the State has the monopoly for selling all other booze) and the cashier must hold up business to get an adult to scan the wine and beer since they are not legally permitted to touch it or sell it since the State views them as minors. How pathetically charming. And stupid.

I digress. The drug war has now been rolled back to just such Confusion. What one branch of government perceives as criminal from initiation through consumption is now legal in many states and the local law is enjoined from arresting or prosecuting pot growers and consumers. In the rest of the states, the cops are still willing to kill you to keep you from raising a plant that is legal to grow, sell and smoke in the next state.

Sometimes in war, it doesn't go as expected.

“The events on December 19, 2013 are tragic. In my opinion, the Burleson County Sheriff’s Office did nothing illegal by securing and executing a “no knock” search warrant that day. I believe the evidence also shows that an announcement was made. However, there is not enough evidence that Mr. Magee knew that day that Peace Officers were entering his home. The events occurred in a matter of seconds amongst chaos. The self-defense laws in Texas are viewed in the mindset of the actor, not the victim, which allows for tragedies to occur when one party is acting lawfully, but it can be reasonably seen as a threat of deadly force by another. However, the Burleson County Sheriff’s Office would not have been there that day if Mr. Magee had not decided to live a lifestyle of doing and producing illegal drugs in his home. Therefore, we will fully prosecute the drug charges against him. This event should wake the community up that drug crimes are not victimless.”

The "Peace Officer" was killed while violently breaking into a man's home late at night when the man was asleep and woke with legitimate fear that violent criminals were smashing their way into his house. As his lawyer said, they didn't need to do that. They could have waited until he left the house and arrested him openly and he wouldn't have resisted. They could have come and knocked on the door during daylight and he wouldn't have resisted. But the police could not help themselves. There was a war on! In a war, it is legal to attack with lethal intent and it is just as legal to resist with lethal force.

In my opinion, the police are not well served by the instant escalation of force and violence. We certainly didn't train security forces that way. I don't know what happened or when but the instantaneous overwhelming resort to force and violence has been something new. I don't remember hearing about it growing up in America. The first case I can recall was the vicious unprincipled murder in Waco, Texas when all the police and federal agencies decided that a community must be attacked and the women and children burned alive for the safety that was in it. They could have arrested the man they wanted the next time he went to town but they were compelled to attack his house and kill everybody.

It might be time for the police around the country to sit down and ponder how they behave in the matter of fireworks laws. In addition to the beer sales along the state fringes in my kind of states, there are also states where it is perfectly legal to buy, sell and use all kinds of fireworks that cause other states to go hermatile. You can buy them in one state and transport them across the state line and the only people who are regularly vicious unprincipled thugs about that sort of thing are the Alcohol Tax losers in Virginia. That wasn't the story I was looking for but it will do. Drawing a gun on three girls over bottled water? Do you suppose even if they had bought beer and one was underage that it was worth shooting them for that crime?
The Runaway
 The picture above represents the police I had when I grew up in America. Your Police May Vary.


OldAFSarge said...

Excellent post Cap'n. Sounds like we grew up in similar circumstances.

Not sure what the answer is to the burgeoning growth of all these alleged "law enforcement" agencies. But it is out of control in many areas of the country.

juvat said...

Well said. Since when does the Dept of Education need a SWAT team?

Buck said...

What Chris and juvat said. I recently read an article about the Farmington, NM police department acquiring a "surplus" MRAP vehicle for (I believe) $5,000.00. Which, of course, makes me wonder just WHY they feel they need such a vehicle. The militarization of our police forces is just totally and overwhelmingly out of control.

HMS Defiant said...

The answer is pretty obvious to me. We need to remove sovereign immunity from the thugs and bureaucrats and let them stand up for the laws they abuse in the same court of law that we have. You and I should be able to sue them when they break the law and behave in an egregious and outrageous way. Shooting random people and killing them 'by accident' and then staying on the police force is unacceptable. Breaking into the wrong house, unacceptable. Shooting little old ladies because you mistook them for a 6 foot 3 black male former police officer in broad daylight, unacceptable.
Let us have a return to "Peace Officers and Law Men."

HMS Defiant said...

Thank you. I don't get it unless they think they need it to back up the teachers. We have a bigger problem then.

HMS Defiant said...

I'm kind of OK with selling Army surplus vehicles to community organizations. I remember a lot of small town Civl Defense trucks were old deuce and halfs and probably even 5 tons. MRAPs seem over the top but you can't beat the price paid for a vehicle that cost over a 100 grand. In a year or two when the annual maintenance cost exceeds the purchase price by 2 or 5 times, they will quietly dispose of it. Whenever it comes down to keeping gear or a cop in pay, gear always loses to the bodies.