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Dispatch / Elections Porn / November 3, 2012

Be libertarian one time? Is that the same thing as "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas"?

 


Author’s note: I wrote this brief dispatch about my run-in with libertarian pro-marijuana activist/former judge James P. Gray back in March of 2011. But the piece disappeared into the black void of my computer hard-drive, and I forgot all about it—until now. I’m glad the text turned up, because Judge Gray’s sleazy efforts to bring lefties and progressives into the Libertarian Party fold under the innocuous banner of pot legalization is much more relevant today than it was 2011. After all, Judge Gray is now the running mate of Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson is using the weed wedge issue to siphon off votes from Obama.  —YL


Last Friday, I tagged along with a friend to a community center/Methodist Church in Hollywood for a documentary screening and panel discussion about California’s marijuana legalization movement. The film was a continuous stream of talking heads—interviews with aging hippies, baby-boomer marijuana patients suffering from cancer, former drug addicts, inmates, a few policy wonks, mystical Ibogaine practitioners and a bunch of assorted lefties and new agers involved in the marijuana legalization movement. All in all, it was a predictable set of people, and people in the audience seemed to be of the same activist demographic. But when the lights were turned on and people started talking, a cold chill ran down my spine: it was as if everyone around me had suddenly turned into a libertarian.

There were a bunch of them in the audience, including a quiet, mousy intern from Antiwar.com and her hippy bohemian writer chick friend who had been recently been converted to libertarianism, who admitted that she thought libertarianism was “really cool,” as people stood outside on the stairs and passed around a joint. The panel of experts was also stacked with libertarians, including a retired libertarian judge from rightwing Orange County who shared the stage with pot activists spewing new age gibberish about a “spiritual evolution” putting an end to the War on Drugs. New age stoners, crusty lefties and wonky progressives getting along with free-market extremists? Yes, sir. They were on the same team—and proud of it. They had risen above “mere” politics and put aside “petty” ideological differences to engage in a nonpartisan effort for the greater good of Gaia…or something like that.

I knew that libertarians have come to dominate the drug legalization movement, but I had never seen the spectacle up close and personal. And what I saw was deeply disturbing. Because from where I sat, it didn’t look like bipartisanship in action: it looked like a straight up con and a perfect example of how America’s oligarchy infiltrate the gullible leftie ranks and bootstrap liberal/progressive issues to the freemarket/anti-regulation cause.

My journalist buddy, who’s been watching and reporting on California’s drug legalization movement for the past decade, said this was not new. Libertarians have wormed their way into the drug scene in a major way, and were a big reason why marijuana legalization had suddenly gained so much mainstream credibility over the past five or six years. It made sense: the Koch-funded thinktank-industrial-complex has limitless cash, connections and access to media outlets. The Kochs also have a major objective that fits right in with the stoner scene: cloaking libertarianism with a liberal veneer and attracting lefties and progressives to the dark side.

"Three Strikes! You're out for life!"

The libertarians at this discussion were not trying to hide and operated right out in the open, starting with the keynote speaker, the Honorable James Gray. He had spent years working as a rightwing judge in Orange County, locking people up for petty drug crimes, but had suddenly seen the light and was now a vocal proponent of marijuana legalization. A former Superior Court judge coming out strongly against drug criminalization? It’s no small thing—his presence gave the stoner-dominated weed legalization movement a huge boost in credibility and respectability, and made Judge Gray a celebrity, a hero among liberal legalization activists.

Up on the stage, Judge Gray talked a lot about the failure of America’s drug policies. He talked about the stupendous amounts of taxpayer wealth wasted to no good effect. He talked about the insane incarceration rates for non-violent offenders, and the unnecessary suffering and misery caused by the War on Drugs, breaking up families, robbing young people of opportunity and leaving kids to grow up without fathers and mothers. It all made sense. And given that Gray had spent 25 years as a real life judge putting away all those people he now talked about with such empathy and feeling added some serious moral heft to his words. I gotta admit it was hard not be moved.

There was one problem with the act: it was full of shit. As a libertarian true believer, Gray has no problem with legalizing child labor, scrapping welfare, letting people die on the street for lack of healthcare and allowing companies to turn our air and drinking into into toxic sludge. So why the empathy for moochers and losers rotting in jail? It didn’t any make sense.

When I got home, I looked this guy up and it didn’t take long to figure how much he really cares. All I had to do was go the “About” section of his website. It’s all right there, down to the photo of him posing with his hero Milton Friedman, that great defender of the common man.

"Ha ha ha! Those liberal suckers think we're against the War on Drugs!"

Gray started his legal career as a JAG at the U.S. Naval base in Guam—which by the way is a government job. Next he was appointed to the bench in 1983—yep, another government position—right when Reagan’s war on drugs started picking up steam. California’s prison population tripled under his watch. Which might make you say: “Hey, you know, he saw the debacle with his own two eyes and now wants to stop it. What if he really does care about the poor and the oppressed? Give him a chance, will ya?” Sure, he cares. That’s why three years after he was appointed to the California Superior Court, he won the Business Litigation Judge of the Year award from the Orange County Bar Association— you know, because he sided with the common man.

And after he retired, Gray got a cushy job making $400 an hour at ADR Services Inc., a firm that handles out of court arbitration for corporate clients. Arbitration is a loophole created by corporate America to scam people out of their constitutional right to a fair trial by jury, bypassing the public legal system altogether and forcing Americans into a rigged private justice system. A 2007 Public Citizen report revealed that arbitrators working for outfits like Gray’s ruled against consumers 94 percent of the time:

“Many consumers will find themselves forced into the shadowy world of binding mandatory arbitration, where their chances of successfully defending themselves are slim to none. . . . Safeguards built into the justice system are not found in binding mandatory arbitration. For example, arbitrators decide most credit card cases on the basis of documents supplied by the company without the presence – and sometimes without the knowledge – of the consumer. Consumers must pay to have a hearing. Hearings are not open to the public, no transcripts are produced . . . And appeal is nearly impossible. “

Looking through the articles and press clippings amassed on Gary’s site, it’s clear where he stands on the issues. On top of getting rid of government social programs and minimum wage, he wants to enact the “FairTax” (hint: it’s only fair to billionaires) and get rid of restrictions on political donations, freeing Americans to contribute as much as they want want to political candidates—money is speech, after all.

But what about the War on Drugs? Well, no matter what he tells his progressive stoner groupies, Judge Gray sees nothing wrong with the War on Drugs per se, as long as it was being waged by the states and not the federal government. The semantics may be a bit too complicated for the legalize it crowd to follow, but let’s take a look anyway.

On his “Primary Issues” page, Gray does not actually say that he is against drug prohibition, nor the heavy handed sentencing requirements. Instead he is against the federal government meddling with the affairs of local governments:

Repeal the failed and hopeless War on Drugs by restricting the role of the federal government to assisting each state to enforce its chosen laws. Crime was reduced by more than 20 percent within one year after we pursued this course with the repeal of Alcohol Prohibition, and the same results will be realized when we finally repeal Drug Prohibition. People must be held accountable for their actions, instead of for what they put into their bodies. The War on Drugs has directly created an enormously large and lucrative black market that has corrupted institutions, people in all walks of life, and, most especially, children, here and all around the world.

He said the same thing on Bill O’Reilly in 2008:

If I was the drug czar, I would advocate letting each state decide what to do with regard to this critical issue. Invoke the concept of Federalism and get the federal government out of the equation, except to allow them to help each state to enforce its own rules.

You hear that stoners? Drug legalization is all about states rights. As in, the state can do whatever it feels like. And my current home state of California has been doing a bang up job managing the largest, most overcrowded prison gulag network in the whole country.

Remember that when you go to the polls and feel your hand drifting towards the Libertarian Party checkbox.

PS: Read David Sirota’s analysis of the GOP-LP “marijuana conspiracy” in Colorado that Mitt Romney’s hoping will siphon off enough of the progressive pro-pot vote away from Obama and hand him the state.

PPS: On top of everything, Judge Gray’s not even a real libertarian. He was a lifelong Republican until 2004, when he suddenly switched to the Libertarian Party to run for Senator Barbara Boxer’s seat.

Yasha Levine is an editor of The eXiled and co-founder of the S.H.A.M.E. Project. Read his book: The Corruption of Malcolm Gladwell.

Click the cover, buy the book!

 

 

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68 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. damn red  |  November 9th, 2012 at 12:51 am

    @49
    And it gets even funnier he refuses to vote green. He thinks it is full of conspiracy nuts…

  • 2. Ozinator  |  November 9th, 2012 at 4:34 am

    joe,

    no, I’m saying don’t be a pussy and go #3. If it results in #2, great. It beats sucking off your rapist

  • 3. joe  |  November 9th, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    @50
    Damn, I had no idea progressives vote libertarian.

    Let the D-bagging begin.

    @52
    Let me get this straight; because you challenged my manhood by calling me a pussy I should suck off the other rapist. The one that doesn’t use lube. Go fuck yourself.

  • 4. damn red  |  November 9th, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    @53
    Where have you been, it’s been a thing for years from the left, most of it comes off of how awesome Ron Paul is for wanting to end the wars, legalize drugs, and cut military spending.

    But they ignore the ideology driving his reasoning. The conclusions might be good but it completely glosses over how they intend to achieve these goals. Hint state’s rights.

    And it attracts the idiot hippies and progressives since they are obsessing over the concept of thinking locally which of course I can go into detail about why this think local bullshit also needs to be canned.

    Also the strange overlap of conspiracy oriented thought between progressive hippies and libertarians is also quite disturbing.

    But it all boils down to, dude weed man like the paper companies will go out of business if hemp were legal, fucking idiots.

  • 5. Recall  |  November 10th, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    “Where have you been, it’s been a thing for years from the left, most of it comes off of how awesome Ron Paul is for wanting to end the wars, legalize drugs, and cut military spending.

    But they ignore the ideology driving his reasoning. The conclusions might be good but it completely glosses over how they intend to achieve these goals. Hint state’s rights.”

    Getting delusional people to support sensible policy is pretty much the goal of all politics. If we’re going to end the drug war, then we can’t afford to be too picky about where the votes come from.

  • 6. joe  |  November 10th, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    @54 QFT

    Come to think of it I do know a few supposed lefties that got on the Paultard bandwagon.

  • 7. Bagtard Bob  |  November 11th, 2012 at 1:27 am

    @55
    Alright now you are either the densest mother fucker to read this site or you are just posting to piss me off. Either way…

    For fucks sake, the point is about 50,000 miles above you. Should not be shocking seeing how you think the argument is about

    “Best ways to sucker people to vote for a hard right economic policy by dangling the carrot of sensible drug policies” (Note I took some liberties with rephrasing your statement, I was nice enough to leave out the part where you pissed yourself. And sensible drug polices means, let your dumb fuck neighbors decide. Not like they can be easily duped. Just like you you savvy voter.)

    They are not arguing for legalizing drugs you stupid tit. They want to end the DEA and to use it as an attack on the rest of the federal government YOU STUPID SACK…

    They aren’t even using the end the war on drugs rhetoric for a good end. They seek to end federal funding for things that happen to benefit the so called parasites.

    They are attacking the DEA since it happens to be the weakest point and there is a growing base of youth voters who oppose the war on drugs. They are hoping to ride that wave to libertopia where you don’t have to serve blacks if you don’t want to. And if there is still money involved for keeping people locked up drugs will still be illegal on a state level since state politics are obviously not corrupt.

    It’s a Trojan horse you sack of stupid, but I’m certain you will be still surprised when your local roads collapse in on themselves despite paying a private company, since you “never voted for it”. (Hint if you voted libertarian you did, idiot)

    Jeez I need another 5 drinks.

  • 8. Tyler  |  November 11th, 2012 at 2:04 am

    I don’t get why you guys are bitching. Every one of these libertarian votes is one less for republicans. No it ain’t. A stonerbot says what?

    Since clearly, you guys think Obama is so great, despite calling him a boring technocrat, then this works for you.

    Don’t bite the hand that feeds you and passes you a joint to smoke.

  • 9. Recall  |  November 11th, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    @57

    “(Hint if you voted libertarian you did, idiot)”

    I’ve never voted anything but a straight Democratic ticket, so you can take it easy on your liver.

  • 10. Bagtard Bob  |  November 12th, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    @59
    Glad to hear you’re not that stupid.

    @58
    Well this is fun another stoner voter that seems to miss the point again…

    The problem with the weed vote is it’s deceptive, yeah sensible drug policy is good but it shouldn’t be the vessel used to deliver all the other socially regressive and economic garbage that libertarians have been arguing for.

    And on top of it they really don’t care to legalize it, they want to leave it to the states. Go talk to your neighbors, mine want weed legal but still think crack users are worse then kiddie fuckers.

    And going back to that point about not being happy with Obama, I live in a battleground state I did my duty swallowed my pride and some pills and voted for Obama. But here is the difficult concept that you might have a hard time following.

    The media narrative is just as important, and the media narrative would not take my individual thought into account nor yours for why I voted the way I did. If libertarians took enough votes and it gave the election to Romney how do you think the media would phrase that.

    And also libertarians are not the only political party arguing for ending the war on drugs, the only reason you hear it from them is they aren’t demanding anything that will upset the current ruling economic class hell they’re funding them.

  • 11. Ozinator  |  November 13th, 2012 at 7:09 am

    voting dem when they don’t earn it is dumb….maybe if they lost more than 50 percent of the time, they’d be compelled to represent the people who used to vote for them–or they’d become even more rightwing and get zapped with freemarket freedom? safe state strategy is lame…hit them where it hurts as well. No need to swallow pride at all…let them do that.

  • 12. Recall  |  November 13th, 2012 at 11:17 am

    “The media narrative is just as important, and the media narrative would not take my individual thought into account nor yours for why I voted the way I did. If libertarians took enough votes and it gave the election to Romney how do you think the media would phrase that.”

    Who gives a fuck? The libertarians aren’t getting a meaningful amount of the vote, even by third party standards.

    Obama
    51%
    (1,238,490)
    Romney
    46%
    (1,125,391)
    Johnson
    1%
    (32,262)

    That’s from Colorado, the state where they’d be most likely to throw the election. Yep, Obama lucked out with the hispanic vote–which is up around 400,000 in the mile high state.

  • 13. CB  |  November 15th, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Ozinator, apparently you’re too stupid and full of hate to realize that the people I was talking about, the people the article is talking about, are pot-smoking liberal hippies supposedly getting suckered into being libertarians by their legalization cheerleaders. They aren’t afraid of Democrats getting elected. And they aren’t voting Libertarian at the poll, either.

  • 14. Ozinator  |  November 17th, 2012 at 6:39 am

    Sorry CB,

    You said “why people shy away” instead of, “these people shy away”. Not sure where you are coming from with me being full of hate but may all your dead relatives rot in hell I guess

    Peace

  • 15. Buddy  |  November 21st, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    I hope that they don’t legalize drugs. Revolution through counter-economics. Buy your weed on the Silk Road.

    Oh wait…..I think the Koch brothers inverted Bitcoins.

  • 16. Buddy  |  November 21st, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    *invented. (Damned spell check.)

  • 17. Zhu Bajie  |  November 23rd, 2012 at 12:10 am

    @12. FWIW & 15. Aunt Bold: “I’d bet dollars to donuts that most stoners are falling for the other, more subtle troll that the koch-heads are having much greater success with– convince lefties that voting is rigged, meaningless, don’t do it.”

    In your lifetime, has anything important changed because of voting?

  • 18. Spinoza  |  January 12th, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Wow. How much Kochaine does it take to overcome the cognitive dissonance going on here?

    Seriously, you totally are right to think of libertarians as being billionaire loving fascists because they believe government’s monopoly on violence is wrong, yet according to my cut Koch – get this – government is so not totally awesome! Yes, that’s right, I troll this site that calls itself “exiled” because I’m not in love with government. And not just any kind of government, but the centralized federal government that has done such a great job of locking people up, taking American’s money and waging foreign wars for the past 50 years. Corporate America would never do that.

    Note: the swamp troll’s comment has been condensed for your reading pleasure.


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