February 13, 2016

Mark Kleiman puts being a #Clintonista ahead of fighting #WarOnDrugs

Mark Kleiman: Full metal Clintonista
Many people who oppose the stupidity of the War on Drugs know the name of Mark Kleiman as one of the top academic-sector crusaders for a more enlightened drug policy. And, his "more enlightened," as in examining state-by-state marijuana legalization, is often very in-depth and thoughtful.

That's why, after last Thursday's Democratic debate, it was not sad, but disgusting (and also, not at all unexpected, from what I know), to see him showing his in-the-tank Clintonista colors to go "gotcha" on Bernie Sanders' drugs and incarceration thoughts from there:
Consider, for example, this from Bernie Sanders:
… at the end of my first term, we will not have more people in jail than any other country.
That’s a very specific promise, with a timeline attached. And it is a promise that no President has the power to fulfill.

I agree it's a more specific promise than anything Clinton said.

And, I knew before reading the piece that the feds account for only about 10 percent of incarcerations. So, no, Sanders can't do that.

Beyond that, though, it's "gotcha." Clinton, like Sanders (and like all presidential candidates), when they talk about "crime," never limit themselves to federal crimes, the federal judiciary, etc. All of them talk about crime as though it's primarily a federal issue.

That said, there are two things a president could do, by executive action, that would immediately reduce federal drug crime arrests and convictions, AND would send a message to states. 

One would be to move marijuana from the Schedule 1 list to something more fitting it. Marijuana and/or other cannabis products have known medicinal value and have a medically safe usage level. The DEA and FDA, per the Controlled Substances Act, determine what listing a drug fits into, so no Congressional action is needed. Moving it way down, to, say, Schedule IV, is about right. (Lest it stir up wingnuts in Congress too much, I don't think I'd drop it to Schedule V.

After that, all Sanders needs is an executive order to DEA to tell them that, in the wake of a rescheduling, DEA efforts should solely be focused on illicit growing, ie, pot farms in national parks.

Third would be to use another executive order to note that the DEA and other federal law enforcement agencies would no longer participate in federal-state drug task forces that focus on marijuana.

Fourth would be to direct the Department of Justice, and drop hints to the various federal financial agencies, about openly accepting profits from marijuana growers and sellers as part of the rescheduling.

With all that, Sanders can definitely cut federal drug incarceration, and get state drug incarcerations to drop.

Other executive orders could do things like tie COPS grant applications to police use of body cameras, non-incarceration sentencing alternatives, etc.

As for which of the two Democrats would be more likely to do this? It ain't Hillary Clinton, that's for sure.

That said, let's look at the rest of the piece.

Let's start here:
Those of us supporting Hillary Clinton this year are sometimes accused of wanting to settle for political small-ball rather than sweeping change. But no matter how good Sen. Sanders’s intentions may be, he’s not going to be able to change very much for the better unless he’s willing to learn something about the way the world, and the political system, actually operate.
First, as I already knew, from an exchange on Twitter, Kleiman's very much a Clintonista.

That's despite her "super-predators" comment showing she's never been enlightened toward people of color, nor toward stopping the WOD. 

And, I know Kleiman's well aware of this, which only makes his wrong-footing worse.

And, yes, per Brains, other people, reporters as well as pundits, think Bernie made too bold of claims. That said, with Mother Jones, his campaign has followed up with more specifics, more narrowly tailored.

Did he goof by making an overly ambitious statement, and in too concrete of terms? Yes.

Contra Elias Isquith, not Kleiman, as I first thought:

And if the press decides that it no longer sees Sanders as America’s cranky but lovable socialist grandpa, and that it no longer sees his promises as ambitious rather than demagogic, then it could turn on his remarkable presidential campaign — hard and fast.
Is he demagogic? No. If Isquith is implying that he is? Screw you. But, he doesn't seem to be implying that — but he does seem to be hinting that the bipartisan Inside the Beltway media has a finger posed over the "smite" button on their keyboards.

Back to Kleiman. But it's not just on selling out his integrity on the War on Drugs to be an establishmentarian.

Beyond that, others on his group blog are elitist about ending the War on Drugs. In addition to decrying a state-by-state approach to marijuana legalization, they also decry the possible Walmarting of marijuana.

And? If some people want to pay Walmart prices for "junk food" pot rather than break their wallet for Whole Foods type organic, artisinal pot, that's their choice, isn't it?

As I've blogged before, the real can-do candidate? One who's been flexible in meeting goals, like the community land trust when he was mayor of Burlington? Bernie Sanders.

And, stuff like this is all part of the "kitchen sink" that Sanders already warned about.

On the other hand, Kleiman's intellect in general is sometimes overrated. He, like Doug Henwood, and perhaps a few other non "liberal" people of the left, for some strange reason thinks the Bundys et al are not terrorists.

And, he's flat-out wrong. They have used fear and intimidation as deliberate tactics — and it worked two years ago.

I hadn't seen that piece until after I started this blog post. Having now seen it, I've lost yet more respect for Kleiman. I'm like the 91 percent of New Hampshire Democratic voters who voted based on valuing integrity.

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