Crack Retroactivity: Don't Look to Obama for Help

Josh Gerstein has a long piece at Politico on Obama and crime policy.

Shorter version: Don't look to Obama for help in making the crack cocaine penalty reductions retroactive to help those already serving the unfair, draconian sentences:

Asked whether Obama might grant requests to commute the sentences of those who would have gotten less punishment if they committed their crimes today, an administration official said the crack-disparity bill “reflected Congress’s judgment that the law should not be retroactive, [and] the President believes that the Fair Sentencing Act will go a long way toward ensuring that our sentencing laws are tough, consistent, and fair.”

The official also downplayed the notion Obama might offer some kind of blanket clemency for earlier crack-cocaine offenders, saying that “as a general matter, the President agrees with the Department of Justice’s long-held view that commutation is an extraordinary remedy that should only be granted in extraordinary circumstances.”

Obama has been in office 18 months and not granted a single pardon or clemency.

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    Actually, in nine days (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by scribe on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 06:07:54 AM EST
    it will have been 21 months he's been in office.

    Not that that changes his absolute refusal to use the clemency power - officially, of course.  He's already granted it, unofficially, for torture and all the other war crimes of or by both Bushco and his own administration.

    Obama is no (none / 0) (#2)
    by JamesTX on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:50:15 AM EST
    outlier among pols on the drug war. It's always absolute complacence and silence in the face of desperate need for change. There is a deep, underlying, paralyzing fear on this issue that scares the daylights out these people -- the most powerful people in the world (supposedly). Nobody - absolutely nobody - of any political ambition will work toward any change in policy, even though the public desire for change is clearly evident and can be demonstrated statistically. For a pack of wolves that usually follow stats like dogs who smell meat, what's wrong with changing the drug war? It smells like political ribeye, for heaven's sake. What makes this issue chopped liver at a practical level? Who's holding the gun on them from behind the curtain?

    What (who) lurks in the shadows of Washington on this? Who is it that scares the most powerful people in the world -- those who normally write our laws and administer our government?

    The progressive movement to dismantle the drug war desperately needs to know who its opponents are. We don't, but they continue to call the shots and they make zero concessions, no matter how badly they damage our country.

    What's the matter with Kansas (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Rojas on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:01:16 AM EST
    Honestly James there is no need to go searching behind the curtains.

    In the last two weeks TL readers have been asked to send cash to two "true progressive champions" Boxer and Rangel. With over seven decades of federal legislative experience between them, as drug warriors, they are the architects and enablers of the modern security state. Yet we are told, these are the "real deal", send 'em your cash.

    You are correct, Obama is no outlier. He is a centrist Dem who lacks empathy and introspection. Another one of millions who looks in the mirror without seeing their reflection. When you've lost that ability you'll never walk in another man's shoes.


    I entirely agree (none / 0) (#7)
    by JamesTX on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 02:51:45 PM EST
    the worst of it comes from our own. That is why someone has to make them start talking about it a campaign time.

    Special interest groups too big to fail. (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Yes2Truth on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:56:09 AM EST

    That's why, James.

    From intelligence services to money launderers (BCCI, Stanford etc.) to Po-Po agencies, lawyers,
    equipment suppliers for warriors on all sides),
    Rx co's, politicians, preachers, prison industry,
    and on and on.

    THINK, brother James.  THINK


    I agree entirely, (none / 0) (#6)
    by JamesTX on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 02:50:55 PM EST
    as all those forces are complicit. The thing progressives have to do is start asking our own why they do it. Make them tell us that it is part of the deal they are making to get the other things progressives want, and make them tell us who is holding the cards and how. As it stands now, you can't get them to talk about the issue, and the reason is that it is the nexus of corruption.

    Sometimes it seems (none / 0) (#3)
    by dead dancer on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:04:59 AM EST
    that McCain/Palin should have won the election. Obviously the country didn't fall low enough for any real change to occur.