Penn Jillette is awesome for many reasons. As such I’m a fan of his new weekly podcast, Penn’s Sunday School. It always delivers, like last week when he went on a rant about President Obama’s continuation of the unwinnable, anti-liberty drug war and his hypocrisy. It’s brilliant and can be fully experienced in the clip below in a way the transcript can’t deliver.
Like Mr. Jillette, I’ve never consumed drugs or alcohol, but I do not care if another wants to do so. My only criterion is what I use for everything: do it voluntarily and without harm to another. Ingest drugs? No harm. Rob someone to get money to buy drugs to ingest? Harm. Drive while under the influence? Harm. It’s not complicated.
Contrast that with President Obama’s comments in his interview with Jimmy Fallon (video via NORML):
Notice the nanny-state mentality where anything that might be an individual problem automatically becomes a matter of “public health”. No one is an individual, just a cog in the machinery of the state to be managed and used.
Of course, Obama’s hypocrisy goes further. (As it does for all politicians, who are, by default, moral defectives.) Via the same NORML link, he clarified his remarks in an interview with Rolling Stone (from April):
Let me ask you about the War on Drugs. You vowed in 2008, when you were running for election, that you would not “use Justice Department resources to try and circumvent state laws about medical marijuana.” Yet we just ran a story that shows your administration is launching more raids on medical pot than the Bush administration did. What’s up with that?
Here’s what’s up: What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana. I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana – and the reason is, because it’s against federal law. I can’t nullify congressional law. I can’t ask the Justice Department to say, “Ignore completely a federal law that’s on the books.” What I can say is, “Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.” As a consequence, there haven’t been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes.
The only tension that’s come up – and this gets hyped up a lot – is a murky area where you have large-scale, commercial operations that may supply medical marijuana users, but in some cases may also be supplying recreational users. In that situation, we put the Justice Department in a very difficult place if we’re telling them, “This is supposed to be against the law, but we want you to turn the other way.” That’s not something we’re going to do. I do think it’s important and useful to have a broader debate about our drug laws. One of the things we’ve done over the past three years was to make a sensible change when it came to the disparity in sentencing between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. We’ve had a discussion about how to focus on treatment, taking a public-health approach to drugs and lessening the overwhelming emphasis on criminal laws as a tool to deal with this issue. I think that’s an appropriate debate that we should have.
Only to a politician does “not prioritize” mean “vigorously pursue”. And, sure, cutting off supply of marijuana to people who may legally possess and use it within specific states isn’t “prosecution”, but it sure isn’t the same as federalism or a passing nod to his campaign promises. Nor, circling back to Jillette’s destruction of Obama’s hypocrisy, is his implied wrongness of recreational use vindicated by anything he’s said or done. He’s nothing more than a bad parent’s slogan: Do as I
command, not as I do.