I take it that Tom Ridge made this announcement:

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Thursday that there is “credible” information indicating that al-Qaida is moving ahead with plans for a “large-scale attack” in the U.S. aimed at disrupting the November elections.
to assist in bush’s effort to squash a House attempt to remove some of the more onerous pieces of the patriot act:
The Republican-led House bowed to a White House veto threat Thursday and stood by the USA Patriot Act, defeating an effort to block the part of the anti-terrorism law that helps the government investigate people’s reading habits
Nah, they wouldn’t do anything like that….
Hat tips to Norbizness and Talkleft.


Just why is this allowed?

But today was my first experience with the special “premier” security screening. While other travelers waited in long lines, first to have their bags checked and then to pass through the metal detectors, I was whisked through.
This apparent perk makes me more then uncomfortable. It makes me a bit angry and my answer to a question that Kleiman asks later in his post iis that, no, it is not a good idea to let folks buy their way out the regular security line!!

Something is Broken

It is incarceration statistics time again and things have not improved in the US since we last visited this subject.
The rates are up:

Figures just released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicate that as of midyear 2003, there were nearly 2.1 million inmates in the nation�s prisons and jails, representing an increase of 2.9% over the previous twelve months.
This is a rate of 715 per 100,000 residents!!??
Who is the nearest competitor? It is Russia which jails 554 per 100,000 which is down from 690 per 100,000 in 1995.
How does the US compare to some other developed economies? It is not a pretty picture:
Rates of incarceration per 100,000 for other industrialized nations include Australia � 114, Canada — 116, England/Wales — 143, France — 95, Germany � 96, and Japan � 54.
Are you reading about uncontrolled lawlessness in any of these countries?
The numbers appear to support the points made by Zombyboy and the talking dog in the comments to this post that there is a large racist component in our existing drug laws:
One in eight (12.8%) black males aged 25-29 was in prison or jail at midyear 2002, as were 1 in 27(3.7%) Hispanic males and 1 in 63 (1.6%) white males in the same age group.
Things don’t look too good if you are a black male. And even worse if you are a black male drug user :
While African Americans constitute 13% of the nation�s monthly drug users, they represent 35% of those persons arrested for drug crime, 53% of drug convictions, and 58% of those in prison for drug offenses.
Who are the other 87% of drug users? No big surprise here: whites 72% of users, Hispanics 11% and others 4%.
To the folks that argue that the declining crime rates must be a result of the increased incarceration I say phooey. First, if this were the case then we should see declining admissions as well but, no, admissions are increasing. Second, we should be looking at these numbers and asking: Why do we need to jail so many at all? The real issue is that in the US, in the land of the free, some things are broken.
Societies that incarcerate this large a portion of their population need to do some serious self evaluation and reworking.
Governments that incarcerate this large a portion of their population need to be redesigned.
Via Talkleft and Let it Begin Here.