Saturday, December 21, 2013

President Obama commutes the sentences of 8 people. A lesson in outrage vs organizing ensues

Perhaps you've heard by now that this week President Obama commuted the sentences of 8 people convicted of using crack cocaine under the former disparate sentencing guidelines. Here is part of his statement:
Commuting the sentences of these eight Americans is an important step toward restoring fundamental ideals of justice and fairness. But it must not be the last. In the new year, lawmakers should act on the kinds of bipartisan sentencing reform measures already working their way through Congress. Together, we must ensure that our taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, and that our justice system keeps its basic promise of equal treatment for all.
Right on cue come the howls of "THAT IS NOT ENOUGH!" Here's Meteor Blades at Daily Kos:
No president, no attorney general can fix all that is wrong with our sentencing laws, even just our drug-sentencing laws. But in the case the crack-cocaine convicts, the president could wipe the slate clean without waiting for Congress to give him something to sign: Commute the sentences of those 7,000 federal prisoners who wouldn't be incarcerated right now if they had been sentenced under the 2010 law.

Nothing radical in such a move, just an act of justice and fairness. But it would take courage and the willingness suffer the inevitable barrage of media and nutcase attacks that would be delivered to any president who dared take such action.
And along comes the great Al Giordano to take down that nonsense:
To say, "Oh, it's only eight, he should have released all tens of thousands of them" is trademark "Eeyore Activism" (the syndrome in which any one step toward progress is never enough, in which some even express anger at the person who made that step). As one with scar tissue upon scar tissue from the slings and arrows of having fought to end all imprisonment for drug crimes for so long, I see it as a watershed moment. It "normalizes" the concept for public opinion, opening the door for the rest of us to organize to free the rest.

Can you imagine the media shit storm if all tens of thousands were released on the same day before public opinion was ready to embrace it, the media witch hunt sensationalizing any error made by any single one of them after release, the blowback and subsequent retreat setting back our cause another 20 years? Every long march happens one step at a time. A step in the right direction should always be applauded and encouraged. In fact that's the only thing in history that has ever paved the way for the second step to be taken, something the Eeyores would do well to study and understand better…
What Meteor Blades is advocating smacks of the kind of "Daddy save us" patriarchal authoritarianism I was talking about the other day. He is a master of the old liberal guard wallowing in their disappointment that nothing those in authority do is ever enough...sigh. What a perfect name for that - Eeyore Activism!
But as usual, Giordano gets what an important step this is from a President who believes in the power of partnership (ie, democracy) and the long game that can bring about transformational change.


  1. Lovely proverb.

    Yep, you can always tell what would be the most disastrous thing for the President to do by seeing what the slack-tivists say he should do.These people have no understanding of politics or how to accomplish real change. They don't want to do the long, hard thing that gets it done right. They want Daddy to do it for them. Makes me wonder if they even know how to wipe themselves.

  2. just like back when healthcare was done. kill-the-bill "progressives" are incapable of learning - they're too ensconced in their own self-declared mutually-reinforcing saintliness to so much as *consider* that they're impotent.

    1. Oh contra-air. They wallow in their impotence.

      Remember....they're only happy when it rains. (yeah, I blame you for turning me on to that one)

    2. Of course they're only happy when it rains.... remember, that which you do not have, is what you want more than anything. Those of us who have lived through adversity and hardship want some comfort here and there - and we want it for our fellow human beings. But there are some for whom life is easy - they have no real problems to speak of. For them, hardship is something to dabble in - a contrast to their daily lives of privilege. They don't want to give up that privilege - they just want something to play at that will make them feel "alive".

      Despair and hardship aren't bad, when you can leave them behind any time you please. You can't know what happiness truly is unless you can contrast it with sadness, and vice versa. So they play with sadness like a toy, because they can. And our lives are just toys to them as well. True pain and sadness bring compassion and empathy, and fake begets fake. Problem is, when they play their silly little games, they screw us all.

  3. Every time I see one of the emotarian meltdowns because progress has been made that wasn't enough for them, because they had a better solution in their heads, I think of the movie "The Day After Tomorrow". The father knew what was coming and no one would listen to him. He was a prophet. Then the father did everything to reach his son in a frozen NYC. It was a good thing he had the equipment and knew how to traverse an Antarctic like climate in American citizens. The people he took with him to save his son, "respected" (worshipped) him to the degree that one sacrificed his life so that the father would keep moving to save his son. Then, what was left of the U.S. government pulled out all the stops to save him, his son, and a handful of people. They sent a helicopter, that somehow flew to Mexico from NYC. It was sickening and left me wondering if that's what a lot of people want in a parent--- strangely, extraordinarily heroic behavior in spite of all obstacles and contrary to reality.

    That's some spoiled wanting right there. Wanting it from one's own parent is bad enough, but demanding it from the POTUS is unreal. Most children from 8 up are more realistic than that.

  4. Hey SP,
    It feels really strange to see emoprogs begging an AA president to grant them their every wish. AAs are used to begging the white man to grant them a few wishes. I smile when these silly, spoiled, self-indulgent wimps even mention PBO's name! They learned nothing including Rachel from the LGBT fight! I want to hear what they have to say when they have been in the trenches for years without a single victory or fighting the same fight for 50 years! Give me a break!

  5. I think the puritopians would treat almost any modern day Democratic President like this (when it comes to President Obama, they never paid attention to his platform or what he said in '08 to the present day, they decided what they thought he should be in early 2008 and went from there).

    They all want to live in a FDR dream world. And while I give FDR many props and hold him up as a revolutionary figure in the party, he was a man not only with personal faults but with a great many policy faults (I always thought Eleanor would have been a better President), that they gloss over seamlessly.

    Simply put, no President will ever be enough for them. I like Senator Warren greatly but trust me as I say this, were she to become President these same folks would turn on her quicker then any of us could say, 'told you so'.

    P.S.: MB isn't the brightest of bunch despite what he may think. Many of his arguments (even those based in science) are wrong.