As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Carrots for Barney Frank

I criticized Barney Frank last week for his demonizing of progressives and slavish defense of the Administration's horrid DOMA brief. He deserved the criticism. Now he deserves some plaudits.

First, Frank offered an amendment that would strip out unnecessary funding from the Defense Authorization Bill for the F-22 program, which the Pentagon, the President and even the manufacturer agree should be shuttered. Not only will this offer clarity on who wants to put parochial interests above the needs of the country, it will offer a good lesson on how "fiscal responsibility" goes out the window when it comes to defense spending, which of course to Blue Dogs and Republicans is magic and doesn't impact the bottom line. I don't think this amendment will be successful, actually, but House members should be up front about adding needless weapons spending that has not been used in the Iraq or Afghanistan theater while at the same time they scream about the deficit.

Then, Frank introduced a bill to decriminalize marijuana use, one of the first bills to upset the bipartisan consensus on the failed war on drugs that I've seen in decades.

A controversial law in Massachusetts could go national if Congressman Barney Frank gets his way.

Frank has filed a bill that would eliminate federal penalties for personal possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana.

It would also make the penalty for using marijuana in public just $100.

"I think John Stuart Mill had it right in the 1850s," said Congressman Frank, "when he argued that individuals should have the right to do what they want in private, so long as they don't hurt anyone else. It's a matter of personal liberty. Moreover, our courts are already stressed and our prisons are over-crowded. We don't need to spend our scarce resources prosecuting people who are doing no harm to others."

Frank says it best there. We should not be warehousing nonviolent offenders who do no harm to others and send them to what amounts to violent crime college. It's destructive to those individuals who need treatment and not jail, destructive to our budgets which runneth over with prison spending, and destructive to law enforcement who could be pursuing criminals but instead have to bust people for pot. Digby has more.

While Frank sometimes uses his prodigious skills to front for elite interests, and while he seems to unduly criticize those who attack his point of view from the left, he's a very useful lawmaker because he's willing to fight these battles that practically nobody else will fight.

...True Majority wants you to call your lawmaker and tell them to vote against purchasing F-22's that the Pentagon doesn't even want.

...Great quote by Rep. Frank:

I am of course struck that so many of my colleagues who are so worried about the deficit apparently think the Pentagon is funded with Monopoly money that somehow doesn’t count... These arguments will come from the very people who denied that the economic recovery plan created any jobs. We have a very odd economic philosophy in Washington: It’s called weaponized Keynesianism. It is the view that the government does not create jobs when it funds the building of bridges or important research or retrains workers, but when it builds airplanes that are never going to be used in combat, that is of course economic salvation.

It makes the hand-wringing over paying for health care completely ridiculous.

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