Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Archive for July 9th, 2009

Marijuana legalization: A primer

Posted by sanityinjection on July 9, 2009

It’s been a while since I touched on the long-standing question of legalizing marijuana. I’m something of an agnostic on the issue: my reservations about legalization tend to be practical rather than fundamental.

Most of the literature on the subject comes with a very strong opinion either for or against. I therefore found this piece by Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum unusual. Like myself, Drum is a non-pot-smoker with no deep convictions one way or another about the matter. He delivers a thoughtful look at the issue from a practical rather than an ideological perspective. Along the way, he delivers some good information, like the true number of people imprisioned on marijuana charges (a lot fewer than you think.)

Drum concludes with a mild argument in favor of at least further loosening marijuana laws. I am not sure I agree, particularly because Drum does not address the proven ability of law enforcement to arrest serious criminals on pot charges. However, the conlcusion here is not important as the journey. I recommend this piece to anyone interested in a more thorough understanding of some of the issues involved in marijuana policy.


Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Health care? It’s the economy, stupid.

Posted by sanityinjection on July 9, 2009

I commend to your attention this superb piece by Jay Cost over at Real Clear Politics. Cost’s main forte is statistical election analysis, but in this piece he examines the Obama Administration’s priorities and suggests that the President is making a mistake in trying to expand health care coverage while the conomy is still in crisis.

To briefly summarize Cost’s analysis: He argues convincingly that America elected Obama primarily to fix the economy. He then criticizes the President for allowing the Democrats in Congress to craft a stimulus bill that would not meet the goal of a short-term boost ot the economy (as we are now seeing all too clearly) and ramming it through so quickly that there was no opportunity to improve it. Now he’s trying to move health care legislation while voters are still waiting for the promises made when the stimulus bill was passed to be fulfilled. Cost argues that by misreading what is most important to American voters, Obama runs the risk of damaging his political fortunes along with those of the Democrat Party.

It’s not that health care reform is not needed. It’s that you have to clean up one mess before you create a new one 🙂

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Sotomayor: Judge or trial lawyer?

Posted by sanityinjection on July 9, 2009

I return to the question of confiormation of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor. As readers may recall, I generally start from the position that the President has a right to nominate someone who shares his general political philosophy, provided he or she is well qualified.

With this in mind, I found this study by Washington Post writer Jerry Markon instructive. Markon and his colleagues looked at 46 different cases Sotomayor participated in where there was a split decision to try to get a sense of her philosophy and judicial approach. They concluded that Sotomayor seems to fit the label of a moderate liberal, well within what you would expect from a Democrat nominee.

As mentioned, that does not concern me. Nor do I question whether Sotomayor has sufficient legal and judicial experience to be properly considered for the Supreme Court. But there is something else that emerges from Markon’s story that I do find to be of concern. While there is no question that she studies the details of each case carefully and thoughtfully, what emerges is a picture of someone whose approach more closely resembles a trial lawyer advocating for a client than an appellate judge weighing the propriety of the actions of a lower court.  The suggestion is that Sotomayor has a tendency to want to retry the initial case rather than focus on whether the lower court acted properly. In doing so, she supports her arguments by pulling in a wealth of outside data that may or may not be directly relevant to the case at hand.

In short, I am left to wonder whether Sotomayor, in many of her opinions, is advocating rather than judging. Clearly that is not the role that Supreme Court Justices are supposed to play. I would hope that Sotomayor will be asked about this directly during her hearings. It will be interesting to hear what her response will be.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »