Saturday, March 31, 2012

Captain Sanogo and CNRDRE Create an Economic Catastrophe

             Amidst the sudden coup d’état and disintegration of military positions in Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu, the international media has begun to accord the West African nation of Mali its share of due attention. However, beyond the capital city of Bamako, behind the frontlines of the North, a tremendously more consequential and lethal but less photogenic drama is about to unfold in the towns and villages which constitute the majority of the Malian population. Absent a sudden turn of events, a completely unnecessary, man-made catastrophe is about to unfold, and the international community can do little but watch as it all happens in slow motion.  

            The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has given the CNRDRE mutineers a 72 hour ultimatum; either step down and abdicate all powers which they now illegitimately control, or the regional organization is about to shut Mali off from all international trade. If CNDRE does not abdicate power, the ECOWAS nations – including the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Guinea, and Niger – are going to close their borders and restrict all trade with Mali – a land-locked nation. ECOWAS will suspend Mali’s account at the regional central bank, shutting it off from cash reserves. The deadline for this ultimatum is Sunday night.
Observing what is about to happen to the Malian economy is akin to watching a car speed down a two-lane highway and a much larger vehicle is driving in the same lane straight towards it, for one brief moment you can see exactly how this head-on collision is going to occur, and there is nothing that you can do to stop it.

To understand what these sanctions are going to do to exacerbate the misery of an already impoverished nation, one must understand the Malian economy in this particular stage of development. Mali’s economy is already the third- or fourth-poorest in the world, with a per capita GDP of only $1,300. The vast majority of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture of millet, sorghum, rice and corn. This year even the rural farming class is beset by a massive food shortage as precipitation last year’s growing season was pitiful. Malian farmers call the time of year before the millet harvest in September “hungry season” because the cereals stored in their granaries is now down to the last dregs, and many families reduce their consumption to one meal a day. This year, “hungry season” has already begun for many families in March – and the next harvest is six months away.
To boot, hundreds of thousands of Tuaregs and Songraï from the North have fled from the advancing MNLA forces, creating a crisis of refugees and internally-displaced persons where a population of displaced farmers can’t farm, and their reluctant hosts don’t have food to feed them. Already, absent any government interventions, Mali is facing one of the worst food crises in a generation. Rice is now hovering around 400 to 500 CFA a kilo (~$1), which is a lot seeing that that 500 CFA is a good full day's wage in a country where very few people are even employed in the formal sector, and each wage-earner has to support between 1 and 4 wives, each with an average of 7.4 children per woman, as well as his parents, grandparents, and extended family.
A food crisis is more complicated than a mere shortage of food. During the Great Global Food Crisis of 2009, there was millet and rice in Malian markets, it was there to purchase. However, due to a global shock caused by a devastating drought in Australia, stockpiling by Thailand, speculation on the global commodities markets, the price for rice soared around the world. In just any plain food crisis, the market in food is so shocked by a massive spike in prices that a significant swath of the population cannot afford to buy it. A spike in the price of rice has a dire affects among the population of consumers who purchase all of the food they eat – namely, the urbanites of Bamako, Ségou, Sikasso, Mopti, Gao and Timbuktu. But the 2009 Global Food Crisis was not so bad for the country folk who grew most if not all of the food they eat – in fact, it was a good year for a number of farmers who could demand more money in exchange for surplus grains.   
But this food crisis of 2012 is a monster of its own. This time, there is actually a great, endogenous shortage of millet, sorghum, corn, rice, and everything else. The people who farm cereals did not produce enough to feed themselves - let alone sell a surplus they don't have. A lot of subsistence farmers are dipping into their seed corn and slaughtering their draft animals. Many otherwise subsistence farmers are now forced to sell what little they have of economic value – cows, goats, sons, daughters – to purchase their food at market.
To fathom the impact of the impending ECOWAS sanctions on Mali, one must appreciate the absolute precariousness of the already-existing humanitarian crisis. When I call my friends in my erstwhile home, they tell me “the villagers are running out of millet, rice is too expensive to buy.” Rice is now between 400 and 500 CFA/kilo, but it is feared that that price might skyrocket to 1500 CFA/kilo. The Malian economy is already so impoverished that it is difficult to imagine how much more miserable it can become. We are about to find out.   
The Malian agricultural sector does not produce enough food to adequately feed its own population, so the food economy is significantly dependent on rice and other foodstuffs imported across the borders with the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Guinea. If the nations of the ECOWAS bloc close their borders to Mali, all Malian imports of rice, corn, and all other foodstuffs will cease (but for the inevitable black market). Mali’s food crisis will deepen even further.
The Malian economy is completely dependent on imported gasoline which is shipped from the Persian Gulf to the port of Abidjan, then trucked overland across the Ivory Coast to the Malian border. As of Saturday, March 31, the price of gasoline had already spiked from 750 to 2000 CFA per liter. Without gasoline, transport and commerce will come to a standstill beyond the local village economy, what little goods can be sold by foot, bicycle, donkey cart, and canoe. Mali’s urban population of roughly 3 million, entirely dependent upon a commercial economy, without any fields to farm, are going to suffer as Malian commerce completely and utterly collapses into a subsistence economy.
            In addition, ECOWAS is about to freeze Mali’s account at the central bank from which the Malian Ministry of the Treasury receives its currency to put into circulation. If all goes as planned, on Monday the various private banks of Mali will have no more bills and coins to distribute to account holders when they come to withdraw money. Last week, the banks were already like a scene out of It’s a Wonderful Life; people are waiting in lines 50 people deep to withdraw from their accounts, and the banks are telling patrons that they can withdraw a maximum of 500,000 CFA (~$1,000). By Monday or Tuesday, the banks will have no currency to distribute at all. Soldiers in the Malian Army, gendarmes, all civil servants and teachers will be unable to cash their paychecks.
The point of the ECOWAS sanctions on Mali is to replicate what occurred in the Ivory Coast last year when dictator Laurent Gbagbo refused to abdicate power to the elected president Alassane Ouattara, and ECOWAS froze the Ivorian account. Without the power of the paycheck, the pro-Gbagbo forces demonstrated that their loyalty was contingent upon a paycheck, and they lost all will to fight. Some innocent people suffered, but Gbagbo fell within a few weeks.  
If ECOWAS does in fact impose crushing sanctions on Mali beginning this next Monday, one might hope that the embargo succeeds in achieving its intended goal: Sanogo & Co. step down as soon as possible. However, there remains the distinct possibility that the CNRDRE mutineers cling to power for an extended period of time, during which the Malian people are going to suffer dearly. Even after the disaster of collectivized agriculture, the droughts of the 1970s and 80s, this impoverished nation might know a period of deprivation unlike no other.
Capt. Sanogo and the CNRDRE junta apparently don’t care. In judging his reaction to recent events, is clear that in Sanogo and his junta have only contempt for the international community and brazen disregard for the Malian people whom they purportedly govern.
Make no mistake; the ECOWAS sanctions on Mali are not the result of other states' "imperialism", but the inevitable conclusion of the CNRDRE mutineers' virulent conduct towards its  economic partners. The junta showed its true colors by preventing a delegation of ECOWAS heads of state from landing their planes. Planes carrying the respective presidents and prime ministers of Ivory Coast¸ Burkina Faso, Niger, Liberia, and Benin were in en route to Bamako to meet with the CNRDRE faction to diffuse the politica crisis, when they turned around amidst reports of a security breach at the Bamako airport. The press reported that the airport runway had been taken over by a violent demonstration of junta supporters. Read between the lines; the Bamako airport is one of the few government installations which the CNRDRE mutineers tangibly control; they have prevented almost all planes from coming or going since the coup began. "These protesters... couldn't have got to the runway if the military didn't want them to," says Bruce Whitehouse, an anthropology professor at Lehigh University. In other words, instead of negotiating with ECOWAS presidents and prime ministers, Sanogo & Co. chose to orchestrate a threat on their lives in order to prevent a dialogue from even commencing.

Therefore, the Presidents of Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso and Benin did not come to Bamako to negotiate with CNDRE to step down because CNDRE effectively threatened to assassinate them if they landed at the Bamako airport
These are not grown-ups we are dealing with, but children armed with AK-47s. The New York Times reports that when ECOWAS met to issue its threat of sanctions on Thursday, a senior advisor to Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara said that Capt. Sanogo’s reaction to the regional body was "basically the equivalent of telling us (fuck) you.”
            As Capt. Sanogo and his cohorts jostle with the ship of state as though it is their plaything, 14 and half million Malian civilians are going to suffer as the collateral damage of a few warlords’ lust for power and wealth. It is not out of hand to predict that tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and particularly children are going to die needless deaths in a completely man-made famine, all but proving Amartya Sen's thesis that famines don't occur in democracies. The cruelest element of this catastrophe is that it is not a matter of natural cause and happenstance, but the will of a few evil men.  

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The New Constitution of Mali: A Fig Leaf for Military Dictatorship

            In the wake of the coup d’état in Mali, the CNRDRE mutineer government has paid lip service to democracy. Capt. Amadou Sanogo speaks as though he is manifesting the will of the Malian people to crush the Tuareg insurrection in the North, to improve education, and do away with corruption in government. However, in substance, Sanogo and his CNRDRE cadres have effectively established a one man dictatorship and a military junta in the wake of the democratic regime which existed from 1993 to March 22, 2012.

            On March 28, Magistrate Lt. Jacques Koné of CNRDRE came on the ORTM television network to read aloud a new “constitution” line for line. It would be a gross understatement to say that this document, slapped together in the handful of days since the coup on March 22, was drafted with something less than the republican ethos of the Constitution of 1992.  

The new constitution reaffirms the most superficial aspects of the Republic of Mali’s former Constitution of 1992; that the name of the country is “La Republique du Mali”, that the capital is in Bamako, that the flag shall be composed of three stripes, red, gold and green. Though the 2012 Constitution attaches foremost importance rhetorical emphasis on the language of independence, democracy, and territorial integrity, in reality - of course - the new regime lacks 2 out of 3 of those qualities.
The Constitution of 2012 also pays lip-service to human rights and civil liberties. Article 7 through 31 intone that “human life is sacred”,  enshrines freedom of thought, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of art and culture, freedom from torture, the right to property, the right to work, the right to unionize, the right to strike. It even creates some positive rights; namely, the right to education, health care and jobs. When the government of a country with abysmal access to health care and crushing unemployment enshrines a constitutional right to universal health care and employment, it makes one wonder how serious they really take any of the words of this document.

For instance, Article 25 of the new Constitution protects "freedom of association, meeting, and demonstration." However the new junta has already demonstrated that it has no toleration for any such thing. In at least two instances, plainclothes thugs attacked peaceful demonstrators protesting the coup. At the most signficant occurence, at a major rally at the labor exchange, a group of CNRDRE goons arrived, throwing rocks at the demonstrators and beating them with sticks. Of course, as the assailants did not wear uniforms it is unclear for sure whether or not they acting as private individuals or as agents of the CNRDRE regime; however common sense and recent history in Egypt, Libya, and Syria suggests the latter.  
Acting on their promise to improve the ethics of the Malian government, Article 35 Constitution prohibits “sabotage, vandalism, corruption, and illicit enrichment” from governmental service. In other words, the junta that only days ago looted the Presidential Palace has a remarkable sense of chutzpah.
More troubling than CNRDRE’s sacking of the home of the legal, then-incumbent head of state is the fact that the new constitutional sacking of the very tenet of constitutionalism; namely, separation of powers. In marked contrast with the 1992 Constitution, which preserved a civilian presidency and an independent judiciary, the 2012 Constitution names the President the head of government, the military, and the judiciary. The President has exclusive authority to make foreign and military policy – which makes sense for a military junta. The President has the prerogative to appoint the Prime Minister. The new constitution grants CNRDRE – an appendage of the President-apparent Sanogo – legislative powers, as well as powers to change the Constitution. It appears that the President will make decrees, and the military and the judiciary will enforce them. 
To demonstrate just how little Capt. Sanogo & Co. appreciate the concept of accountability in government, the “Constitution” of March 28, 2012 also grants the President explicit power to grant amnesty to members of CNRDRE. In other words, the Constitution grants blanket immunity to the leaders of the coup - whose members have committed treason against a democratic government, looted the presidential palace, committed widespread theft in Bamako, has made scores of political arrests of government ministers and presidential candidates and continues to hold them as political prisoners, and that has left three people dead thusfar.
            Notably absent from the new Malian Constitution is any language pertaining to voting or elections. Of course, that should not be an issue until the CNRDRE regime holds elections – as Capt. Sanago promises – after it "secures the country" in the North, fixes longstanding problems in the military, education, corruption in government. The Tuareg rebellion began in earnest in 1962, and the government has been suppressing it on and off for the past half-century. Mali's endemic problems in education and corruption will take many multiple generations to reform. In other words, I wouldn't hold my breath.
            The Constitution does mention the National Assembly, which CNRDRE declared dissolved as of last week. It appears that CNDRE has taken their place as the legislative branch of government – that is, unelected and an entirely indifferentiable appendage of the presidency.
If you connect the dots, the 2012 "Constitution" is nothing of the kind. It is the putschists’ self­-declaration of authority to rule the territory of Mali and the Malian people, substituting their own manifestation of the popular will for the consent of the people derived from elections – which were scheduled for April 29th. It establishes a government of the mutineers, by the mutineers, for the mutineers – all in the name of the “Restoration of Democracy.” The new “Constitution” is merely a fig leaf for an unchecked military dictatorship which has no interest in the rule of law, no respect for constitutionalism, and has no interest in restoring democratic government anytime in the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Requiem for Malian Democracy (1993-2012)

             As I write this, the Sun is just coming up in my former home of Diaramana, in the erstwhile Republic of Mali. The first call to prayer has already been issued. It is hot season now, too dry to do much farm work. But the women are already busy at work, pounding away at millet to cook a simple porridge for their family’s breakfast. This year their porridge is much leaner because there is a food crisis; it might be the family’s sole meal for the day. This year’s sharp rise in grain prices is partly because last rainy season’s rains were pitiful. But the real reason grain prices are so harshly inflated is because hundreds of thousands of families have fled from the fighting in the North - food becomes rather scarce when an ethnic insurgency creates a refugee crisis and a subsistence agriculturalist population can’t farm.

            Though the Sun is just now rising, today might be the darkest day in the history of this young nation. Though it is still too soon to say for sure, today, March 22, 2012, may mark the death of Malian democracy. A group of mutinous soldiers calling themselves the NCRDRS, led by a certain Capt. Amadou Sanogo, appears to have achieved a coup d’état. In a matter of hours, the mutinous soldiers have seized the state television and radio network ORTM, wrested and looted the presidential palace, and arrested numerous government ministers.

 NCRDRS has used ORTM to  announce that they have suspended the Malian Constitution and dissolved all "state institutions" i.e. the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, and - notably - the special high courts which exist specifically to try government officials for treason.

            To understand the import of these events, one must contextualize them in Mali's 51½ years as an independent state.
            Between independence in 1960 and 1991, Mali was governed by strongmen.  Modibo Keíta first ran the country as a First Wave post-colonialist state, conducted a disastrous experiment in African socialism and collectivist agriculture, and suffered humiliating losses to the Tuareg rebels. In 1968, Lt. Moussa Traoré led a military coup against Keíta and seized control of the Malian state - which he grafted and embezzled as his personal fiefdom for almost a quarter century. Traoré's one positive contribution was his system of decentralisation in which he established a federalist-style system of local governments on the level of Region, Cercle, and Commune;  they were still for the most part as corrupt as sin - but at least the corruption was local. Traoré even allowed elections in the local governments, but only one party (his) was on the ballot.  

But something profound happened in 1991, when paratrooper commander Amadou Toumani Touré in turn deposed the President of Mali. “ATT”, as he is popularly known, declared that he would organize multiparty elections in 1993, that he would not be a candidate, and that he would step down from office. And remarkably enough, Touré did exactly that.

           In 2002, Touré ran for the presidency himself as an independent candidate. Having shown that he respected republican institutions enough that he could do the unthinkable and relinquish power without a fight, ATT won election handily. The Malian people called him “le Soldat de la Democratie”; he allowed free, multiparty elections, promoted freedom of the press and political rights for women. Sure, Touré had his faults – over ten years, his administration was criticized for political cronyism; he made some major military blunders regarding the rebellion in the North, and he was famously aloof from public opinion. But ATT never rigged any elections, he never took political prisoners. He was an authentic democrat who planned to abide by  the constitutional term limits, step down again at the end of his second term, and go back to tilling his millet fields like a Malian George Washington.  

Malian democracy (1993 – 2012), as established by President Touré, has had its share of hiccups and bumps in the road. It was of course difficult to establish a democratic culture in a country where the bulk of the population lives in small villages, often quite far from the nearest polling stations. The vast majority of the population is illiterate, and only a small minority has completed a high school education. It would be an understatement to say that corruption, cronyism, and general incompetence in local government are all quite common. 

When I was working with the Office of the Mayor of the Commune, I kept on submitting typed policy proposals to the Mayor for water projects. He would look at my drafts for a few minutes, nod, and hand them back to me. "Perfect! No problems!", he would say. It took me a few months to realize that the Mayor - a guy whose job was to type up official government documents - was completely illiterate. If he didn't have a stamp with his name on it, he signed his name with an "X." It follows that Monsieur la Mairie was not very effective at typing birth certificates and marriage certificates on his typewriter. But if the majority of the population of a given Commune is illiterate, the important thing is that the people have the right to choose which among their illiterate fellow citizens gets to serve in public office - that's the beauty of democracy.

On the other hand, there are a number of outstanding public servants in Mali who are dedicated to the cause they serve. I have met with village chiefs and advisory councils who lead their communities in the daily struggle of subsistence and development. I have worked with Malian water committees who valued improving their environment and quality of life.  Most importantly, I have plenty of teachers and principals who are earnestly dedicated to teaching the next generation of Malians to be educated and capable citizens.

 Not everyone in public life is involved for altruistic reasons, there are a number of politicians who are just looking for a lucrative source of income - those are some of the outstanding problems in Malian politics. But there are some people in Malian history who have risen to the top and have demonstrated their capacity for leadership in a democratic society; namely President Amadou Toumani Touré, who planned to step down after his second term this spring. Among the candidates running for President in the elections scheduled for April 29th include Modibo Sidibé, a former Prime Minister, Sidibé Aminata Diallo, a former Minister of Education, Oumar Mariko, a member of Parliament,  Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, another former Prime Minister, former speaker of the National Assembly, and Cheick Modibo Diarra, a Malian astrophysicist who worked at NASA and Microsoft Africa.

Warts and all, the Malian experience in electoral democracy has been considerably successful.  They have conducted four presidential elections, and a fifth is scheduled for April. Especially on the level of Communal government (the equivalent of a county), much of the population personally interacts with their elected Mayor. When I lived in Diaramana, my host mother Durcas Dembele ran in the Mayoral primary, and she rode from village to village on her motorcycle stumping for votes. In the end, Durcas lost among the nine candidates on the primary ballot.

In April 2009, le Commune de Diaramana held its general elections at the primary school. People came from every village in the Commune dressed in their finest clothes to vote for their Mayor. Election Day has become a national holiday woven into the fabric of Malian society.

An independent committee of active citizens conducted the balloting process and made sure that each citizen is registered to vote in the Commune. The voters dipped their fingers in purple ink to mark their ballot. Because so few people can read, the ballot was listed by party and each party’s line was marked by its official symbol; ADEMA is a bumblebee, SADI is a lion, etc.

Each citizen casted his or her vote in privacy.

My good friend Sidiki showed off his purple ink-stained fingers. In a country where democratic self-government has only truly existed for 19 years, voting is a matter of great pride. Sidiki wouldn’t tell me whom he voted for, because the principle of confidentiality is taken so seriously.

            The great tragedy of this coup is not just that an elected President has fallen, subverting the will of the people. The tragedy is that with the declaration of the suspension of the Constitution and the dissolution of all state instutions, the NCRDRS may have permanently extinguished the fire of Malian democracy. All of these institutions of representative self-government which the Malian people have been developing for decades may have been stamped out by a new military junta.

              It is difficult enough to eke out a living farming in the parched Sahel. It is even more difficult when the heavy hand of a tyrannical government oppresses the people with extortion, bribery, graft, embezzlement, and exorbitant taxation to fund a war that many analysts say cannot be won. That is why, in order to facilitate sustainable development and improve their standard of living, the people of Mali must be able to guide their own destiny with a truly representative self-government.

The people of Mali do not have very much. They are one of the very poorest nations in the world. But one thing that they did have was democracy.
They will have it once again, insh’allah.

Ala k'aw deme.

Ala ka here caya.

Ala k'a ban pyu pyu.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Is "Glitter-Bombing" Criminal Assault?

Over the past few years, marriage equality activists have conjured a new form of protest known as “glitter-bombing.” To protest the lack of equal rights for LGBT individuals, some activists employed the novel tactic of showering homophobic politicians with pink or rainbow-colored glitter. Recent victims of glitter-bombing have included Republican candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul. Prominent supporters of gay rights, including Senator Joe Lieberman and writer Dan Savage, have also been glitter-bombed because some LGBT activists felt that their support for the cause does not go far enough.

Though glitter-bombers are using this tactic as a form of political expression, it is clearly not protected by the First Amendment because it is not pure speech – it is conduct involving a physical activity with an object in relation to another person.  One person throwing an object towards another person might implicate the civil and criminal charges of assault and battery. Though social conservatives often accuse the marriage equality movement of forcing judges to “redefine marriage," thanks to “glitter-bombing” the marriage equality movement might force criminal law practitioners to redefine the charge of “assault.”
The common law charge of assault consists of 1) an act with intent to cause a harmful or offensive contact with a person, or an imminent apprehension of such a contact; and 2) the other person is thereby put in such imminent apprehension.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has suggested that glitter-bombers should be arrested, “[t]hat’s an assault.  It’s one thing to yell at a candidate, you never put your hands on him, you don’t touch him.”

“Glitter bombing is clearly an assault and should be treated as such,” recent victim Newt Gingrich explained, “[w]hen someone reaches into a bag and throws something on you, how do you know if it is acid or something that stains permanently or something that can blind you?  People have every right to their beliefs but no right to assault others.”

In February 2012, college student Peter Smith threw glitter at Mitt Romney while at a campaign rally in Denver.  Romney’s Secret Service detail pulled him away from the stream of glitter just in time to avoid contact, and within a moment the candidate resumed shaking hands with supporters.  Denver police pulled Smith away and held him in handcuffs for five hours.  Peter Smith now faces misdemeanor charges of throwing a missile, creating a disturbance, and an unlawful act on school property.  If convicted, Smith might face up to a year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines.  To date, he remains the sole glitter-bomber to be charged with a crime.
Nick Espinosa, the Minnesota protester who conducted the first glitter-bombing of Tim Pawlenty, and later glitter-bombed Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in that state, has also expressed his ire by throwing more solid, potentially-injurious objects.  At a campaign event in 2010 Republican gubernatorial Tom Emmer proposed new minimum wage laws to make servers’ tips count against their minimum wage, and Espinosa threw a bag of pennies at the candidate.  If you watch the video, Emmer appeared to be visibly fearful of the objects hurtling towards him.  After all, if thrown with sufficient velocity at someone’s face, pennies can cause serious injury.

Though it might seem harmless, a person could possibly suffer significant bodily injury from a glitter bomb.  According to optometrist Stephen Glasser, “If it gets into the eyes, the best scenario is it can irritate, it can scratch.  Worst scenario is it can actually create a cut.  As the person blinks, it moves the glitter across the eye and can actually scratch the cornea.”
Likewise, it makes sense for the law to prohibit persons from throwing objects at others, especially public figures and candidates for elected office.  In a nation with a long history of assassinations and assassination attempts, it is clearly in the public interest to discourage people from throwing objects at political figures.  In the split seconds between a protestor flinging glitter and confetti at a presidential candidate and it making contact with the candidate’s suit, it is difficult for the recipient to discern whether it is a serious attempt on their life or just a prank.

Conversely, the fact of the matter is that glitter is not a deadly weapon - it is just many little pieces of lightweight plastic.  When all is said and done, the worst that a glitter-bombing victim has suffered is the annoyance of having to brush pieces of glitter from their hair and suit jacket.  In a time of cash-strapped state budgets and overcrowded prisons, prosecuting a glitter-bomber with criminal charges might be an abject waste of prosecutorial resources.  Moreover, no aspiring Commanders in Chief who might one day have to deal with ballistic missiles from North Korea or Iran would want to appear petty or emasculated by testifying at the criminal trial of a glitter-bomber.
When Espinosa glitter-bombed Gingrich at a book signing in May 2011, Gingrich reportedly smiled as he brushed glitter and confetti from the table and muttered, “[n]ice to live in a free country.”

(Originally posted in the WCL Criminal Law Brief Blog)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

LOLSkool Catz II