Author Archives: Nicholas Sarwark

About Nicholas Sarwark

Mr. Sarwark lives in Colorado and keeps poor people out of cages for a living. His views are his own, not his employer's, his wife's, or his dog's. They are also awesome and always right.

President Bush: Iraq Mess Doesn’t Make Preemptive War a Bad Idea

The Washington Post is reporting that the President has restated the “Bush Doctrine” in a new national security strategy document.

“If necessary, however, under long-standing principles of self defense, we do not rule out use of force before attacks occur, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack,” the document continues. “When the consequences of an attack with WMD are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford to stand idly by as grave dangers materialize.”

Last I check, long-standing principles of self-defense required that you be defending against an attack or credible threat, not shooting first and looking for evidence to justify it later.

The document also lays out our new and improved foreign policy, based on spreading democracy worldwide, at the barrel of a gun. Except when the democracy that we spread doesn’t elect people we like; then democracy is bad.

At the same time, it acknowledges that “elections alone are not enough” and sometimes lead to undesirable results. “These principles are tested by the victory of Hamas candidates in the recent elections in the Palestinian territories,” the strategy says, referring to the radical group designated as a terrorist organization by the United States.

Without saying what action would be taken against them, the strategy singles out seven nations as prime examples of “despotic systems” — North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Belarus, Burma and Zimbabwe. Iran and North Korea receive particular attention because of their nuclear programs, and the strategy vows in both cases “to take all necessary measures” to protect the United States against them.

Goodbye “Axis of Evil,” hello “Seven Bad Dwarves.” Well, at least Cuba’s close by, but I don’t think they’re first on the list. I predict that we’ll bring military action against Iran within the year. Anyone want to bet against it?


Bill Clinton Leads George Bush Among Conservative Critics

The Washington Post reports that a CATO Institute panel discussion of the Bush Administration’s policies, the White House couldn’t be bothered to send a representative.

“We did ask a few members of the Bush economic team to come,” explained David Boaz, the think tank’s executive vice president, as he moderated a discussion between two prominent conservatives about President Bush. “We didn’t get that.”

The two panelists who were there, Bruce Bartlett and Andrew Sullivan, are longtime conservatives fed up with Bush and his anti-conservative actions. The White House has obviously decided that, rather than defending the indefensible, they’ll just hide until the critics go away.

They might be smart to hide. One of Bartlett’s quips illustrates just how bad it’s become for the President.

“If Bush were running today against Bill Clinton, I’d vote for Clinton.”

So would I, Mr. Bartlett, so would I.


Shameful Treatment

The BBC has managed to get an interview with a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, through the intercession of his lawyer. In it, Fawzi al-Odah describes his treatment during a hunger strike.

“First they took my comfort items away from me. You know, my blanket, my towel, my long pants, then my shoes. I was put in isolation for 10 days.
“They came in and read out an order. It said if you refuse to eat, we will put you on the chair [for force feeding].”
He told how detainees were given “formulas” to force them to empty their bowels and were strapped to a metal chair three times a day, where a tube was inserted to administer food.
“One guy, a Saudi, told me that he had once been tortured in Saudi Arabia and that this metal chair treatment was worse than any torture he had ever endured or could imagine,” Mr Odah said.

Well, at least we can take comfort in the passage of the McCain torture amendment to the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 to ensure that this kind of treatment won’t ever happen again, right? Theoretically yes, but actually that’s wrong. Another prisoner is challenging his treatment in court under the law and running into…umm…problems.

In federal court yesterday and in legal filings, Justice Department lawyers contended that a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, cannot use legislation drafted by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to challenge treatment that the detainee’s lawyers described as “systematic torture.”

Government lawyers have argued that another portion of that same law, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, removes general access to U.S. courts for all Guantanamo Bay captives. Therefore, they said, Mohammed Bawazir, a Yemeni national held since May 2002, cannot claim protection under the anti-torture provisions.

Yep, the same law that prohibits torture prohibits those people most likely to be tortured from access to the courts to get the law enforced.

In court filings, the Justice Department lawyers argued that language in the law written by Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) gives Guantanamo Bay detainees access to the courts only to appeal their enemy combatant status determinations and convictions by military commissions.

“Unfortunately, I think the government’s right; it’s a correct reading of the law,” said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. “The law says you can’t torture detainees at Guantanamo, but it also says you can’t enforce that law in the courts.”

In closing, an excerpt from the BBC interview transcript with Fawzi al-Odah:

Before all this happened, what was your view of America?

I loved America. It freed my country from Saddam Hussein. My father fought with America against Saddam. I respected America. It stood for human rights and fairness around the world. America was the country we all looked up to.

What is your view now?

It has abandoned all of its own traditions and beliefs which were the cause of my respect for it. As someone who lived in the US, I cannot believe the American people know what is happening down here. This is wrong.

At this point, I have to agree with Mr. al-Odah. The actions of our government are sick, disgusting, and anti-American.


Statewide Smoking Suppression Stopped

According to the Washington Post, Virginia and Maryland have rejected statewide smoking bans. It’s a good sign for liberty when such obvious nanny-statism gets rejected. Delegate David Albo (R-Fairfax) deserves kudos for this comment:

“The problem is, I want to have smoke-free restaurants and businesses. But in America, you don’t pass a law to tell a private business owner who is paying rent or mortgage payments what he can and can’t do in his own place.”

It’s good to see that Virginia and Maryland have refused to become like New Jersey. Of course DC’s ban still lingers as a pool of fascism between the two states mentioned, despite the best efforts of groups like Ban the Ban.

UPDATE: In response to Ian’s request, Delegate David Albo’s website.


Settling in for the “Long War”

With public support for the “War on Terror” flagging, the White House and the Pentagon have a plan. Not to curtail the excesses of the “War on Terror” or to abandon the “benevolent hegemony” they’re buying with the lives of American soldiers, but something much better. They’re changing the name.

The ill-conceived state of perpetual war formerly known as the “War on Terror” will now be known as…wait for it…”The Long War.” That’s right, instead of backing away from the critics who have been making comparisons between the current regime and Big Brother from Orwell’s 1984, the Bush Administration is embracing it. The Pentagon is making 20-year strategic plans and Rumsfeld is publicly comparing the current effort with the Cold War (1946-1991). One of the core elements of the Pentagon strategy is perpetual war.

“Long duration, complex operations involving the US military, other government agencies and international partners will be waged simultaneously in multiple countries round the world, relying on a combination of direct (visible) and indirect (clandestine) approaches,” the report says. “Above all they will require persistent surveillance and vastly better intelligence to locate enemy capabilities and personnel. They will also require global mobility, rapid strike, sustained unconventional warfare, foreign internal defence, counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency capabilities. Maintaining a long-term, low-visibility presence in many areas of the world where US forces do not traditionally operate will be required.”

Since the Bush Administration sees virtually no limits on what it can do under the auspices of the Commander-in-Chief power, staying in a state of perpetual war will ensure that they are not called to account for the arguably illegal actions committed (and to be committed). Expect the phrase, “But we’re at war,” to be used early and often over the next few decades.

Let’s just get the whole thing over with and burn the “goddamned piece of paper” right now.

War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.


Friedman’s Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose

Kinky Friedman Loves TexasPenn Jillette had Kinky Friedman on his show last week. The interview got heated at times, especially when Kinky “non-denominational prayer in the public schools” Friedman was challenged by Penn “there is no God but Allah” Jillette.

Prompted by the show, I checked out the campaign site and saw the awesome new “Kinkytoon” featuring church and state getting gay married, and monkey legislators trying to reform the schools (“Don’t eat law!”). It’s hilarious and effective. Libertarian campaigns should learn a lesson here.

Kinky’s campaign is heating up, with poll numbers at around 20% before he’s even on the ballot. With fundraising help from supporters like Willie Nelson (when he’s not busy writing gay cowboy songs), he’s raising money faster than either of the Democrat candidates.

There’s going to come a time in American politics when we’re tired of ex-wrestlers, action heros, and writer/author/country singers and want staid guys in suits to lead us. Until then, and as long as the establishment politicians are fun-hating windbags who only stop legislating morality long enough to take a bribe or shoot their friends, Go Kinky!


Student Activists Win a (Small) Retreat From the Drug Warriors

drug use and student financial aid limitationsDespite some fronts in the War on Drugs still going strong, Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) has won a hard-fought victory against the drug warriors in Congress. Congress has passed a bill that revises the Higher Education Act (HEA) provision restricting eligibility for financial aid, which will be signed into law unless the President finds the veto pen he hasn’t used in six years (unlikely).

The Drug Provision of the HEA was added by Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) in 1998 and restricts anyone with a drug conviction (even simple possession) from receiving Federal financial aid. That means that right now, you can get Federal education funds if you’re a convicted child-raping murderer, but not if you got busted for pot. The revision, included in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, and finally on its way to the President’s desk, will make it so that only convictions while a student is enrolled in college will disqualify them from receiving aid. This means that all of those people who had brushes with the law before going to college will be allowed to move on with their lives, get financial aid, and an education.

“After years of political posturing and empty promises, Congress has finally helped some students harmed by this misguided policy,” said Kris Krane, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. “But this minor change is just a ploy to sweep the penalty’s problems under the rug. Tens of thousands of students will still be pulled out of school every year because politicians failed to listen to our concerns. The only option students have left is to take action in court.”

After years of grassroots activism, including SSDP’s former President confronting the asshole Representative who started it all in his home district (video), the reform movement has a small victory for freedom. (more videos in the SSDP video gallery) The next step is getting the provision removed completely, as the congressionally-created Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance recommended in 2005.

Hat Tip: DARE Generation Diary


Speech Codes Are So Gay

CensorshipIn a stunning display of overreaction and hypersensitivity, French gay-rights groups sued an MP for making anti-gay statements and won.

Stating that “homosexual behaviour endangers the survival of humanity” and that “heterosexuality is morally superior to homosexuality” can cost you dearly in France. Exactly these opinions, expressed by the French politician Christian Vanneste last year, led to him being sentenced on Tuesday to payment of a heavy fine.

A court in Lille [Rijsel in Dutch], in the French northern province of Flanders (adjacent to the Belgian Dutch-speaking region of Flanders), ruled that Mr Vanneste has to pay a fine of 3,000 euro plus 3,000 euro in damages to each of the three gay organisations that had taken him to court. The politician, a member of the French National Assembly for the governing UMP, also has to pay for the verdict to be published in the leftist Parisian newspaper Le Monde, the regional Lille daily La Voix du Nord, and the weekly magazine L’Express.

Les Flamands Roses (The Pink Flemings), a gay activist group from the North of France, applauded the verdict, saying that freedom of speech does not allow “incitement to homophobic hatred.” Mr Vanneste had been taken to court because of what he had said in a recorded discussion with activists of the “Pink Flemings.”

Tuesday’s verdict is the first conviction on the basis of the French anti-homophobia bill of 30 December 2004, one of France’s draconian laws prohibiting so-called “hate crimes.” According to the “Pink Flemings” Mr Vanneste abuses freedom of expression “in order to insult and discriminate [against] gay men and women.”

Freedom of expression should only be used for kind, gentle, non-insulting speech? Fuck that! Laws like this result in a society dominated by the banal smalltalk best reserved for dinner parties, not a vibrant free-wheeling marketplace of ideas. On the other hand, this is a country that has an offical government agency to police the language. Now those conservatives afraid of a vast gay conspiracy to homosexualize America can point to France in the same way that Second Amendment activists point to the United Kingdom. Vive la France!

When “hate speech” codes are proposed, the supporters loudly disclaim any intent to curb all but the most vile speech, yet those same codes often end up used as swords to cut down those one disagrees with, rather than shields to protect the oppressed. Note to Howard Stern (and anoyone else prone to intemperate speech): Stay out of France.


ACLU Catches Up On Impeachment

Bush photochopped on NixonOnly a couple of weeks after we analyzed the situation here and concluded that Dubya and Tricky Dick had more in common than just being dog owners, the ACLU figured it out and placed this full-page ad in the New York Times. Glad to see my membership money is going to something worthwhile.

Before you get all excited, it’s likely that any impeachment efforts will be derailed by the complexity of the FISA issues, the inherent Article II powers, and whether or not we’re at “war.” The legal waters are muddy enough that the Administration can make a plausible case that they thought everything was legal and avoid conviction. On the bright side, this might put the kibosh on any future warrantless domestic wiretapping.

Hat tip: I Am Not A Crook?


What’s Impeachment For Again?

Bush photochopped on NixonThere’s been a Patriot Act filibuster, a Presidential address, and a press conference since the New York Times revealed that the President ordered the NSA to engage in domestic spying. Orin Kerr has a long analysis of the potential legal arguments that the Administration can put forth and how likely they are to persuade a court. It’s a good, well-researched post, but takes no opinion on the propriety of the actions.

To summarize his analysis, the actions taken by the President may be part of the inherent Article II powers, not be implicated under the Fourth Amendment under the so-called “national security exception” ( the “border search exception” argument is bullshit; a phone call is not a border.), and probably violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) statute, 50 U.S.C. 1801-11. There’s also the bullshit argument that the Congressional Authorization of Military Force magically trumps all of our laws, but (a) that’s too Orwellian for words and (b) wiretaps are not force. The colorable arguments that the Administration can make might keep impeachment at bay, by showing that the President was acting in “good faith” based on competent legal advice.

All well and good, but let’s start looking at the suspiciously Bavarian forest, instead of examining tree bark. The Fourth Amendment requires probable cause before warrants can be issued. FISA courts keep the argument for probable cause secret in order to not tip off the foreign power being investigated. However, FISA courts still require the government to show (retroactively in case of emergency) probable cause that “the target of the electronic surveillance is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power,” with the specific limitation “[p]rovided, That no United States person may be considered a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States.” See 50 U.S.C. 1805(a)(3)(A) for all the statutory language.

Since the President specifically chose not to use FISA, it’s likely that he’s spying on people for engaging in First Amendment protected private speech. While you might be able to get a FISA wiretap for someone being called by Khalid Sheik Mohammed, there aren’t many courts who would give a secret wiretap for everybody in his cell phone, or everybody in their cell phone, or so on, in an ever-expanding and attenuated net. However, this is the kind of eavesdropping that the NSA specializes in. Connect the dots.

As an aside, I’m wondering how many bizarre Administration policies Professor Kerr can defend try to explain before his head explodes. Similarly, for those Administration apologists, I ask you this: “What violation of the Constitution and/or the law would be sufficient for you to impeach him?”

There was a previous President who felt justified in conducting warrantless wiretaps of people and organizations in America. Here’s hoping that the New York Times will play the role of the Washington Post this time around. When the President abuses his power, he must go. Sic semper tyrannis.

Previously: Bush Curses the Constitution Again


Action: Stop the Patriot Act

The Patriot Act renewal was passed by the House and moves to the Senate today for renewal. There’s discussion of a filibuster effort, but whether it will be successful is unclear. That’s where you come in. Take three minutes out of your day to fight for Liberty, using this handy guide:

  1. Look up your state Senate delegation here.
  2. Call (yes, with the phone) each Senator’s office
  3. Tell the person who answers the phone:
    1. Your name
    2. That you are a constituent from your home city
    3. That you would urge the Senator to block renewal of the Patriot Act

That’s it, should take less than a minute per call. If enough people call, we can stop this thing.

UPDATE: The roll call vote in the Senate has just completed. We won! Congratulations to all who helped make it happen.

The results (52 Aye – 47 No) of the roll-call vote will be posted here. “No” was the correct way to vote. Do feel free to make a follow-up call to your Senator to dispense praise or criticism as appropriate.

UPDATE 2: Senator Frist is backing the White House line that there will be no short-term extension of the Patriot Act to allow the Senate to reconsider it after the winter break. With the filibuster successful, it looks like the Senate is back to debating the Patriot Act on the floor of the Senate, so keep calling your Senators. We’ve stopped renewal for the moment, but it’s not over yet.

As to the Presidential threat, when the rubber hits the road, I have trouble believing that the President would be stupid enough to veto a short-term reauthorization. Even if he was that stupid, I’d bet that the Senate would override.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: MeFi has a great post up with a lively discussion. The best part though is the title: Who are you and what have you done with my Senate?


Orwell’s Got Nothing on the TSA

Suspected TerroristJohn Gilmore’s quixotic crusade against government ID checks being required for domestic air travel has inched forward a bit. (Gilmore’s also been providing the support for Deborah Davis’ case in Colorado) The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case last Thursday.

A federal appeals court wrestled Thursday with what seems to be a straightforward question: Can Americans be required to show ID on a commercial airline flight?

John Gilmore, an early employee of Sun Microsystems and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the answer should be “no.” The libertarian millionaire sued the Bush administration, which claims that the ID requirement is necessary for security but has refused to identify any actual regulation requiring it.

To bring everybody up to speed, Gilmore tried to board a flight to DC to meet with his Congresswoman and refused to show ID or consent to a search of his person. As one would expect, he was denied the right to board the flight. As it says on the TSA website:

If you have a paper ticket for a domestic flight, passengers age 18 and over must present one form of photo identification issued by a local state or federal government agency (e.g.: passport/drivers license/military ID), or two forms of non-photo identification, one of which must have been issued by a state or federal agency (e.g.: U.S. social security card). For an international flight, you will need to present a valid passport, visa, or any other required documentation. Passengers without proper ID may be denied boarding. For e-tickets, you will need to show your photo identification and e-ticket receipt to receive your boarding pass.

Challenging such a public requirement seems like all sorts of nutty moonbattery, no? It would, except for the fact that nobody would show him the law or regulation requiring passengers to show ID. I know, still sounds like tax-protester stuff, except in this case, the Department of Justice says that there is a law, but they can’t reveal it because it would threaten aviation security. As noted in the Contra Costa Times story:

A lower court judge had earlier rejected Gilmore’s case, and U.S. government lawyers have refused to confirm or deny a federal law or regulation requiring IDs at airports even exists. Government attorneys say they are barred from disclosing the existence of security-related regulations.

Not that they can’t reveal the people on the No-Fly List, they can’t/won’t reveal the actual TSA regulation that mandates ID checks in the first place. Hello Kafka! To their (small) credit, they did offer to file the regulation under seal with the court, but claimed that it couldn’t be shown to the defense lawyers. Even Kevin Drum, who thinks Gilmore’s nutty, is freaked out by the Orwellian nature of the law.

Look, the world’s a dangerous place and if checking ID of airplane passengers will make it safer (doubtful, but possible), let’s do it. However, there should be an actual debate and the laws should be passed in public, not made up in secret as it appears the TSA is doing now. Thanks to John Gilmore, longtime Libertarian activist and freedom fighter, we may get to have that debate.

UPDATE: I’ve listened to the oral arguments and while I still think the government position is wrong, I’d agree with Tim Cavanaugh’s take, Gilmore’s attorney (James Harrison) sounded completely flummoxed.

Also, Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy tries to figure out just what the hell is going on here, here, and here.


Intelligent Design: Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing

Intelligent Design editorial cartoonFrom the news out of Kansas and the heated rhetoric of Pat Robertson, our favorite televangelist scumbag (since Jimmy Swaggart’s retirement, that is), you would think that the Intelligent Design movement is rolling across the heartland, ready to storm the ramparts of higher education and destroy American science. Or, for those who have a different view, bravely standing up for revealed truth against the militant atheists who claim we’re descended from apes, reforming America as a Christian nation. In either event, you’d be wrong. The New York Times reports that all the Intelligent Design hubbub is a collapsing under its own goofy, unscientific weight.

Behind the headlines, however, intelligent design as a field of inquiry is failing to gain the traction its supporters had hoped for. It has gained little support among the academics who should have been its natural allies. And if the intelligent design proponents lose the case in Dover, there could be serious consequences for the movement’s credibility.

On college campuses, the movement’s theorists are academic pariahs, publicly denounced by their own colleagues. Design proponents have published few papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Well, duh. The scientific evidence against Intelligent Design is overwhelming. The majority of scientists have always been against creationism Intelligent Design. So what? The real news is that Intelligent Design is so inherently unscientific that even the true believers are backing away slowly while speaking softly and watching for any sudden movements from this Crazy Uncle Eddie of “science.”

While intelligent design has hit obstacles among scientists, it has also failed to find a warm embrace at many evangelical Christian colleges. Even at conservative schools, scholars and theologians who were initially excited about intelligent design say they have come to find its arguments unconvincing. They, too, have been greatly swayed by the scientists at their own institutions and elsewhere who have examined intelligent design and found it insufficiently substantiated in comparison to evolution.

When evangelicals won’t even teach it, there may be a problem with the theory. I think Derek Davis, director of the J. M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at that bastion of secularism that expelled students suspended one fraternity, one student, and disciplined the others for posing in Playboy, Baylor University, said it best.

“I teach at the largest Baptist university in the world. I’m a religious person. And my basic perspective is intelligent design doesn’t belong in science class.”

Mr. Davis noted that the advocates of intelligent design claim they are not talking about God or religion. “But they are, and everybody knows they are,” Mr. Davis said. “I just think we ought to quit playing games. It’s a religious worldview that’s being advanced.”

Not only is the only higher educational institution that teaches Intelligent Design a seminary, there’s a trial going on in Dover, Pa. to determine whether teaching Intelligent Design is teaching religion. (World’s Shortest Amicus Brief: Your honor, Intelligent design is warmed-over creationism; the pig’s got nice shiny lipstick on him, but he’s still a pig. Respectfully, Nick Sarwark)

Since the Intelligent Design folks are likely to lose in Dover (we’ve already been through this with the Scopes Monkey Trial), they’re already working the spin machine about how the outcome of the court case is unimportant to the science; probably the only point where I agree with them.

Now, with a decision due in four or five weeks, design proponents like Mr. West of Discovery said the Dover trial was a “sideshow” – one that will have little bearing on the controversy.

“The future of intelligent design, as far as I’m concerned, has very little to do with the outcome of the Dover case,” Mr. West said. “The future of intelligent design is tied up with academic endeavors. It rises or falls on the science.

Thank God.

Previously on Hammer of Truth:
Rethinking My Views on Intelligent Design


Grandparenting: Hobby or Job?

some token grandparents pictureLots of kids in Washington, D.C. don’t have a traditional, two-parent family. Out-of-wedlock births, high crime, high incarceration rates, poverty, and greater extended-family involvement in the black community are all contributing causes. Many of these kids end up being raised by their grandparents. All things being equal, this is much better for the kids than being shunted into the foster care system.

With all that, why not give the grandparents some extra money to help with those expenses?

The D.C. Council is considering a bill that would provide a monthly stipend to adults raising their grandchildren if they meet income and other requirements. If the legislation passes next month, advocates for the elderly and experts say, the District would be among only a handful of jurisdictions in the country to establish a subsidy for caregivers who are not part of the foster care system.

Kids stay out of foster care, grandparents get some financial help. The city would have spent the money on foster parents anyway. What could be wrong with that?

According to the 2000 Census, 8,100 people in the District are raising grandchildren. The reasons range from a parent’s unexpected death to issues involving drugs or mental illness.

The D.C. office of AARP, the main force behind the bill, convened a grandparents focus group in 2003, published a report and has lobbied council members for more than a year.

The first reason to be skeptical is that the AARP, those same extortionists who are busy mugging young workers for Social Security and Medicare entitlements, are the driving force behind the bill. Senior citizens are the richest demographic in the nation; they don’t need extra handouts via taxes. But let’s suspend judgment until we get to the real kicker.

Under the bill, sponsored by council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D), the stipend would equal what the city provides to a long-term permanent guardian of a foster child: about $718 to $791 per month per child, depending on the youngster’s age and the amount of other public benefits received. The grandparent would have to have legal custody of the child, submit to a background check and meet other requirements, such as having an income of no more than $16,090 a year in a household of three.

Supporters say the cost of the subsidy would be much less than what the city winds up paying when a grandparent cannot afford to raise a child, who then must be placed in foster care, which can cost up to $80,000 a year, according to the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency.

The District has about 2,700 foster children in its care, while roughly 16,700 children live in grandparent-headed households, the agency said.

Aha! This bill isn’t about helping grandparents struggling to raise their grandkids; it just does that by accident. This bill is about making those grandparents into foster parents, with all of the bureaucratic red tape that implies. It’s also about expanding the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency‘s control to more than six times as many children’s lives.

We’re used to D.C. government grabbing land for stadiums or trying to grab Federal disaster relief money, but trying to grab control over the lives of 16,700 kids and their grandparents goes too far. There’s something very wrong with paying grandparents to take care of their grandkids.