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Real public servants are free enterprising individuals who, inspired, embrace challenge, take risks, and create, sometimes big, and often, they create jobs in the process, all out of their ideas, and self initiative...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The GOP's Earmark No-Brainer Sen. Jim DeMint is offering Republicans a chance to prove they meant what they said on spending.

Senate Republicans ran to midterm victory last week hitting every single high note. One week in, they risk ruining the aria with some off-key grunge.

What issue could prove so important that senators would risk blowing up the vision of a GOP unified against spending? Earmarks, of course. You know, the ugly little spending perks that have grown into one of Washington's biggest political liabilities. The pork that earlier this year was unilaterally sworn off (to public praise) by House Republicans, who appear to be ready to do the same even in their new majority.

In the Senate, not so much. South Carolina's Jim DeMint is offering his party its first opportunity to prove it meant what it said, by offering up a moratorium on Republican senators' earmarks. Fifteen GOP senators—including six senators-elect—are co-sponsoring the ban, which will get its vote on Tuesday. At least 13 Senate Republicans—spearheaded by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Jim Inhofe—are going to the mat to keep the spending privileges. Twenty senators are apparently still mulling over the complex decision of whether to demonstrate some principle.

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Botched Paramilitary Police Raids: An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents"

"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern." —Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006. An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," by Radley Balko. What does this map mean? How to use this map View Original Map and Database

Key

Death of an innocent. Death or injury of a police officer. Death of a nonviolent offender.
Raid on an innocent suspect. Other examples of paramilitary police excess. Unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people.
The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of "no-knock" or "quick-knock" raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt -- it's difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night. But even more disturbing are the number of times such "wrong door" raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map above aims to refute that notion.

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