SocraticGadfly: RIP Mark Kleiman, classist War on Drugs hypocrite

July 25, 2019

RIP Mark Kleiman, classist War on Drugs hypocrite

RIP Mark Kleiman, an overrated classist and a hypocrite in the War on Drugs. The truth is that addiction cuts across race, class and socioeconomic guidelines, so if Kleiman really were worried about pot potency, he should have looked at ritzy pot shops just as much as worrying about Walmart. I first saw this via Popehat's Twitter; Ken, if you're going to write over-the-top, and IMO untrue, encomia (Kleiman was NOT a "giant of his field") I'll Tweet out the reality, as I already did Tuesday night with those links.

The only thing, IMO, he truly got right was that marijuana legalization is not a panacea. And he screwed the pooch on that by bringing in his classism.

That takes care of the "classist" part. Well, not quite.

Let's spell this out more, with the alcohol analogy.

Did Kleiman ever call for additional taxes on Two-buck Chuck, Ripple, Mad Dog or T-bird? On vodkas with fake Russian names?

I'm hearing crickets right now.

Actually, the National Review encomium is anti-crickets. It notes that Kleiman explicitly accepted the way things were with alcohol but said we should take a different cultural tack with pot.

To extend the issue, since Kleiman often compared alcohol to pot? People become alcoholics on Glenlivet or sauvignon blanc just as readily as on Two-buck Chuck or fake Russian vodka. And rich white Republicans become alcoholics or addicts at generally the same rate as poor black Democrats. And, if Kleiman really knew that much about addiction, he would have known that, too.

To put it another way, per Grits' recent trip to Canada? One could have steep enough taxes on it, yet have a "generic" version of legal marijuana sell cheaper at Walmart than black market skunk weed currently does.

Now, the "hypocrite" part.

Kleiman was a Hillbot, and a big one, in the 2016 Democratic primaries, to the point of doing some "gotcha" on Bernie Sanders. That and more is at the second link. Shock me that Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly mourns his passing so much.

I wanted to do something more than the brief mention I put in yesterday's Roundup, in part because I had personally (online) tangled with Kleiman over this and other things.

First, beyond Hillary Clinton's well-known "superpredators" comment, which itself tied at least indirectly to the War on Drugs, Kleiman ran a group blog with a mix of neoliberals and a few neocons sprinkled in. I didn't think that much of the intellectual level of his writing partners, either. He was so bad I put him in a mock Clinton Cabinet.

Hell, Kleiman was an apologist for ConservaDems when Shrub was still president.

Also, this genius thought the Bundy family out West were NOT terrorists. They were at that time, and even more beyond then, with them and their friends at the Malheur NWR standoff.

If Ken White really thinks Kleiman was a giant, rather than offering a powder-puff encomium, I've got to further question his legal judgment, beyond his being a First Amendment weaponizer. Otherwise, Popehat overrates Kleiman as much as ActualFlatticus overrated Jay Sekulow.

He was a leader in the field. A giant? Not so much. Any drug policy analyst who loved DARE, as Wiki reports Kleiman did? DARE was a great tool for police PR, but not police-community relations. DARE was actually kind of full of it, and still is. And outside the field, his dyed-in-the-wool Democratic stance, per his Bernie trolling, was fairly narrow. His love for Hillary was surely infused with the same incrementalism that infused his drug policy.

Even worse, per Wiki, is his consulting firm taking money from PMI Impact, a public policy outfit of Philip Morris, now Altria. PMI Impact fights illicit tobacco trade. Of course it does. Not because it cares if people are smoking or not, but because it wants them smoking legal, Philip Morris-made cigarettes or e-cigs, as it actually was in this case.

My personal background with Kleiman was some online tangling with him during the 2016 Democratic primaries. Per the hypocrite link, I thought he was playing "gotcha" with Bernie Sanders, at least to a degree. Then, we tangled further over the classism issue. And, if Kleiman really was such an expert on drug policy to include being knowledgable about addiction, he knows what I've told you above about addiction statistics.

I didn't know until writing up this post, though, about him taking Philip Morris blood money. And, that's exactly what it is.

One wonders if he opposed full-on legalization of pot because of taking tobacco blood money and being a hypocrite on alcohol.

Also interesting. Anti-War on Drugs crusader Glenn Greenwald and the gang have nothing on Kleiman at the Intercept.

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