Five Minutes Five Issues: President Mattis, Clemency Puffery, Marijuana Rescheduling, Clinton Defense, Waste More

A new episode of Five Minutes Five Issues posted today. You can listen to it, and read a transcript, below. You can also find previous episodes of the show at Stitcher, iTunes, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to the show here:

Read a transcript of the show, including links to further information regarding the topics discussed, here:

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity welcomes you to Five Minutes Five Issues.

Starting in five four three two one.

Hello, I am Adam Dick, a Ron Paul Institute senior fellow.

Let’s start.

Issue one.

Some people, including pro-war commentator Bill Kristol, are talking up James Mattis running as a third party candidate for president of the United States if things don’t turn out to their satisfaction at the Republican National Convention.

You may know Mattis as a retired Marines Corps general and former commander of the United States military’s Central Command. Mattis is on the Board of Directors of General Dynamics, one of the biggest military contractors in the world.

Issue two.

President Barack Obama’s counsel Neil Eggleston has been withholding some important information. While heralding Obama’s granting of commutations to 248 individuals, which I talked about in last week’s Five Minutes Five Issues, Eggleston said the commutations are more than those of the previous six presidents combined. This is what is left unmentioned: While Obama has granted relatively many commutations that reduce prison sentences, Obama has granted relatively few pardons. A convicted person would, of course, prefer to receive the much more sweeping pardon.

Looking at Department of Justice records on pardons and commutations, David Meyer Lindenberg points out at Mimesis Law that Obama has granted fewer pardons than any of the last six presidents. Counting Obama’s commutations and pardons together, Lindenberg notes, they are less than those of the other presidents, except for Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

Issue three.

In December, I wrote at the Ron Paul Institute blog about a letter Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and seven US Senate colleagues sent to the heads of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The letter suggested the Obama administration may be planning to reschedule marijuana.

This week, the senators received a letter in response. This letter says the DEA hopes to release “in the first half” of this year its determination whether marijuana should be moved from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Moving marijuana to a lower schedule is far short of legalization, but it may help curtail some aspects of the US government’s war on marijuana.

Issue four.

People criticize former Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) for many reasons. For example, her Democratic presidential primary opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said Wednesday that Clinton is not qualified to be president for reasons including, he said, her vote for “the disastrous war in Iraq.” Many people would look similarly at Clinton’s effort as secretary of state to convince President Barack Obama to support overthrowing the Libya government.

But, how about if Hillary Clinton as a lawyer decades ago used her legal skills to help her client, an accused child rapist, plea bargain for a lesser charge? Some people are criticizing Clinton for that. Such criticism is not justified. Advocates vigorously defending people accused of crimes provide a check against government efforts to over-incarcerate the guilty and lock away the innocent.

Issue five.

Two new examples of government waste are in the news.

First, the US Department of Defense inspector general reported in March that an airplane on which the US military and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) together spent more than $86 million in over seven years “remains inoperable, resting on jacks, and has never actually flown in Afghanistan,” where it would be used in drug war efforts.

Second, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) admitted it paid nearly $50,000 for a “randomizer app” that allows a TSA employee to tap a tablet computer screen to produce an arrow randomly directing people to walk to the left or right TSA search, scan, and frisk line. Critics say the seemingly simple programing should have cost much less.

Wouldn’t it be better if the DEA and TSA spent their entire budgets on “wastes” like these instead of on fighting the drug war and harassing travelers?

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That’s a wrap.

A transcript of this episode, including links to related information, is at the Ron Paul Institute blog.

Five four three two one.

Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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