Tuesday, March 20, 2012

JuiceBlender // More CD6 Debate About War in Iran, Critique of O'Malley's Marijuana Veto, Another Pundit on CD6 Dem Battle

Here's another random blend of political tidbits, starting with a clarification from CD6 Democratic Candidate Ron Little about his view on preemptive war with Iran:

JUICE #1 // CD6 DEM RON LITTLE RESPONDS TO ANDREW DUCK & JUICE - Recently, Maryland Juice has been writing about the 6th Congressional District Democrats' views on when and whether military force could be justified against Iran. We published an infographic highlighting the various candidates positions on preemptive war with Iran. Our graph indicated Milad Pooran was the only Democrat to call for military attacks only if the U.S. or one of its allies were actually attacked first. In the comments section to the post, someone purporting to be Andrew Duck (the 2010 CD6 Democratic candidate) wrote:
ANDREW DUCK: Note that the only candidate who has served in combat sets the bar the highest.
Democratic candidate Ron Little sent in the following response to Mr. Duck, along with a clarification of his views on the use of military force in Iran:
RON LITTLE: The discussion of prospect of war with Iran is not appropriate for soundbites. I agree that Milad is the only one who stated that military action would be appropriate if Iran launched an attack first. I am very clear in my recall of my remarks on this subject and I characterized myself as something of a pacifist not just because of our recent history with misinformation that caused the loss of countless lives but because war will not solve our problems. I will, however, make this further clarification. Any implication that I lack the capacity to understand the ravages of war because I have not been on the front line in a "sanctioned" engagement is insulting. I grew up in an environment where people died violent deaths nearly every day; where summers meant that local gangsters dispensed gunfire without regard for unintended consequences; where children and pedestrians were viewed as potential shields and where windows and steel doors frequently protected families from errant gunfire. I understand in ways that many, hopefully, will never comprehend.

I live in a military family and that "family" includes many friends that actually serve on the front line taking enemy fire. I have a great respect for everyone who serves in our military and anyone who thinks that I will agree to send my active duty wife, family and friends into war unless it is absolutely necessary, is completely misinformed. None of my friends serving on the front line have ever referred to shoulder to shoulder combat with anyone except their field-medic or corpsman. If this discussion will be framed as an "either/or" then I submit to you that we are already in trouble.

JUICE #2 // A CRITIQUE OF O'MALLEY'S PLANNED MARIJUANA VETO - The Baltimore Sun today publishes an insightful op. ed. critiquing Governor O'Malley's planned veto of medical marijuana legislation being debated in Maryland (aka The Free State). The piece was written by Eric Sterling, president of the nonprofit Criminal Justice Policy Foundation and former counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. We re-post an excerpt from the full article below:
O'Malley gets it wrong on medical marijuana
Md. governor seems to have fallen for Del. U.S. attorney's bluff

On March 9, Gov. Martin O'Malley said he is likely to veto a medical marijuana law if the Maryland General Assembly passes one. His spokeswoman said he is concerned about a Feb. 9, 2012 letter from Charles Oberly, Delaware's U.S. attorney, to Gov. Jack Markell, threatening to prosecute Delaware officials as common drug traffickers if they carry out their state's medical marijuana law.

Governor O'Malley should look carefully at this letter. After reading the law and analyzing the letter, I believe Mr. Oberly dishonestly manipulated Governor Markell by threatening prosecutions he is forbidden to bring in order to block a valid state law he doesn't like.

First, the federal drug law explicitly immunizes state officials from prosecution for conduct while enforcing any state drug law. Second, unlike the federal lawsuit against Arizona over immigration, no U.S. attorney, Mr. Oberly included, has ever challenged any state's medical marijuana law in court. So there is no judicial or statutory authority for these threats. Mr. Oberly's letter does not refer to any statute, any court ruling or any constitutional provision challenging the Delaware law. Very simply, Mr. Oberly gambled his empty threat would scare Mr. Markell, and it worked.

Mr. O'Malley may be under the misimpression that a state can't write an effective medical marijuana law. In fact, no provision of the federal drug law indicates an intent of Congress to exclude the states from passing laws on marijuana or other drugs except if "there is a positive conflict between ... [the Controlled Substances Act] and that State law so that the two cannot consistently stand together." This means the federal drug law acknowledges states have the power to write their own marijuana laws, and they can differ from federal law. If Mr. Oberly thinks he can persuade a federal court to invalidate the Delaware medical marijuana law for being in "positive conflict" with federal law, he should do so. But no U.S. attorney has ever tried such a case in any of the 16 medical marijuana states....

The intimidation of Governor Markell, and now possibly Governor O'Malley, through a bluff about a prosecution that is actually barred by the federal drug law is outrageous misconduct that should be investigated by the Office of Professional Responsibility of the Department of Justice....

The governors should heed the concerns of their citizens struggling with real diseases and real pain, not plainly bogus threats.

Indeed, Maryland Juice has pointed out the senselessness of these ghosts of the War on Drugs. The people of today don't agree with that approach anymore -- a super-majority of Americans support medical marijuana, and a majority even support decriminalization. Don't worry politicians, it is now obviously becoming the politically safe vote to support these efforts, not to hold them back. You need to follow-the trendlines, not the norms when YOU were coming of age politically. Times and demographics are changing rapidly....

JUICE #3 // ANOTHER PUNDIT SCORCHES CD6 DEM FRONTRUNNERS - Today Baltimore Sun columnist Thomas Schaller published a scorching condemnation of the frontrunners in the 6th Congressional District Democratic Primary. Schaller takes a broadview of the 6th District seat in the context of Maryland's other Democratic members of the U.S. House:
THOMAS SCHALLER: Maryland Democrats' six-member House delegation includes a businessman who made his fortune collecting on bad debts (Dutch Ruppersberger); the nephew of the state's longest-serving U.S. senator (John Sarbanes); a former Capitol Hill staffer and state senator (Chris Van Hollen); and two veterans with a half-century of House service between them (Elijah Cummings and Steny Hoyer). These five congressmen do good — sometimes great — stuff for the state and nation. But Maryland Democrats on Capitol Hill aren't short on political careerism or business connections.

The outlier of the bunch, and its only woman, is Rep. Donna Edwards, who spent her pre-Congress life working for white-hat, nonprofit organizations....

I don't endorse candidates, but I do endorse this idea: If you want to change the outputs from Congress and the federal government, first change the inputs. Here's hoping Sixth District Democrats keep that in mind on April 3.

JUICE'S 2-SECOND TAKE ON CD6: Maryland Juice agrees that the Democrats need to keep driving the Party to evolve. But step aside from the issues for a second. From a tactical perspective, I actually find the CD6 race kind of boring to watch. It is all conventional political warfare right now, and nobody is taking any real risks. I keep thinking that a candidate could break away from the pack by rejecting the rules of engagement --- but it appears that the time has passed for that kind of tone-shifting opportunity. So for me, the CD6 race is now about presenting a learning moment to the rest of the Democratic farm team. We now have a lot of datapoints and anecdotes for candidates about how to run a campaign in 2014 (and also what not to do). I hope you're paying attention! Meanwhile, I am sure there are real policy differences that exist on core Democratic principles, but none of these are likely to be debated. Lame.

In any case, The Sun's Schaller doesn't endorse any candidates in the CD6 race, but he has praise for Milad Pooran. He also has some pretty negative things to say about the two frontrunners in the race:
THOMAS SCHALLER: ...consider the two Democratic candidates who have attracted most of the attention in the race.

After working on Capitol Hill and then for a top Washington lobbying firm, Rob Garagiola won a state Senate seat in 2002, at age 30. Mr. Garagiola is tall and handsome, and his campaign website features a nice picture of his wife and three children. His voting record is pretty consistent with the agenda of his political patron, Senate President Mike Miller. Other than brief service in the National Guard, he's a climber who has spent his entire post-college life in politics — and nobody would mistake him for a foe of big business.

John Delaney, meanwhile, personifies big business. With a reported estimated worth between $51 million and $278 million, he made his fortune through predatory lending to desperate small businesses. (Title of Forbes magazine's profile of him? "Loan Shark.") And get this: Mr. Delaney doesn't even live in the district. If you're buying a seat in Congress, sir — and Mr. Delaney is tapping into his personal fortune to do so — at least have the courtesy to buy your own district.

Congress is bursting at the seams with people like Messrs. Garagiola and Delaney.

More juicy political coverage soon!

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