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Gary Johnson on "Defanging" the DEA, Pardoning Marijuana Offenders, and Standing With Occupy Wall Street

Republican presidential candidate and former two-term governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson held a conference call this afternoon in which he expressed solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, defended President Obama's decision to send advisory troops in response to the Lord's Resistance Army, and promised to pardon nonviolent marijuana offenders. The campaign will release a full transcript later this week. In the meantime, I'm posting a rough transcript I typed up during the call. 

Johnson started the chat by recounting Tuesday night, which he spent in the company of Wall Street occupiers: 

Last night I went to Occupy Wall Street. I wanted to see what was happening down there. It confirmed what I had thought. You got a lot of people outraged over the fact that we have a country that isn’t all that fair. it starts with government granting favors, if you will to well-connected groups. And when I say government I mean politicians that grant favoritism to individuals, groups, and corporations that are well connected politically. When it comes to Wall Street, I don’t know if there wasn’t criminal prosecution because crimes weren’t committed. The crimes were that favors were granted. Individuals and banks that made really poor decisions were not rewarded by becoming bankrupt and losing the money that they had. Instead they were bailed out. We paid the cost for that. 

Rather candidly, Johnson admitted that he had signed legislation as governor that benefitted the film industry, a popular form of crony capitalism. Johnson said it was "ironic" that New Mexico could have given tax breaks to every industry in the state, but only did so to help the film industry. "So I'm guilty of that as well." Several bloggers asked Johnson to touch on crony capitalism and Occupy Wall Street at various points in the call. Here are some of the answers Johnson gave:

Corporatism exists in this country. it is real and alive. There is a real awareness [of this] right at the moment that makes change in this country ripe.

I have to express my solidarity with everyone [at Occupy Wall Street] that we have a country that doles it out unfairly. We bailed out banks that made horrific decisions. They should have been rewarded for those decisions by losing their money. We bailed them out at a cost of almost $1 trillion. I’m outraged by that.

[On crony capitalism at the state and municipal levels] You can be a public official and not have that influence what you do in office. I offer myself as an example of not being influenced by any campaign contributions. Yet I fully recognize you are speaking about reality.

I had a dozen conversations last night asking individuals if they could distinguish between capitalism and crony capitalism. How do you spread that truth message? Well, running for president of the United States offers that forum up. Last night, just for the people I was able to talk to, and regardless of where people were on the spectrum--there were communists and socialists all the way up to free market anarchists--it was civil.

The notion that Occupy Wall Street is misguided, well I was there last night. I don’t know that it’s misguided at all. This country is not equal. We don’t treat everyone equally. I would like to see us focus on the root cause, which is in my estimation politicians that are getting paid off. That’s the corporatism and the outrage.  

One blogger asked Johnson what he thought of the DOJ letter ordering California's medical marijuana dispensaries to close, and what steps he would take to reform drug policy. First up, Johnson said, would be an executive order removing marijuana from schedule I (the category containing the most highly addictive and harmful drugs). "Because I would be controlling the federal agencies, including the DEA," Johnson said, "I would do everything I can to defang the DEA." Later in the conversation, Johnson was asked if he would issue an executive order pardoning non-violent marijuana offenders. Johnson acknowledged that the U.S. had pardoned nonviolent violators of the Volstead act after the repeal of prohibition, and said, "I think that same thing is called for with legalizing marijuana." 

He called the DOJ letter ordering dispenaries to shut down "Obama's letter," because "the president of the United States controls all the agencies and the attorney general is appointed by the president of the United States." And that despite the coming crackdown, "We have a to celebrate this week with a poll that came out saying that 50 percent of Americans now support legalizing marijuana. We can say now we’re on equal footing with those who argue for the status quo." 

The call also touched on the Lord's Resistance Army, campaign finance reform, and energy policy. Here's Johnson on the LRA and Darfur: 

About a year ago Congress authorized action against the Lord’s Resistance Army. President Obama signed that legislation. To my understanding this is the worst terrorist group on the planet over the last few decades. They have been responsible for tens of thousands of deaths. Rapes. They are incredibly bad actors. They are a finite group. This really does in my opinion qualify as what you could lable as a humanitarian effort or the United States stepping in to stop a genocide. Congress authorized it, the president said yes, and I would’ve as president.

It’s go in, get the job done period, and get out.

I was opposed to what we're doing in Libya and remain opposed to that. I know that ostensibly was about preventing genocide, but I get the sense we’ve injected ourselves in a civil war in Libya. It’s a country. It’s a government. Lord’s Resistance Army isn’t representative of a government or any government. The only example I can think of for me where this kind of action is warranted is this very action. That isn’t to say that Darfur would not be in the same category, but I am not well versed in that.

On campaign finance: 

It should be 100 percent transparency. There should be no contributions coming in the back door that are not reported.

[On super PACs] I absolutely believe the reform that’s needed for campaign contributions is 100 percent transparency. Super PACs offer up a way for wealthy individuals and corporations to influence elections without their fingerprints on it. That’s not right.

On his three economic promises: 

I promise to submit a balanced budget to Congress in the year 2013. Promising it does not mean they’re going to pass it, but that I’m going to submit it. Second promise is I promise to veto legislation where expenses exceed revenue. Well you can say that I can veto all day long, but they’re just going to override you. That very well may happen, but spending will eventually go down. Lastly I promise to be a never-ending advocate of reforming our federal tax system and replacing it with the fair tax.

On energy: 

When it comes to oil, we should be responsibly drilling for oil in our own territory. We should be producing 50 percent of what we consume. I’m opposed to cap and trade. I think the number one component to a good environmental policy is good economics....We should be building new coal-fired plants. We’re not. That’s one of the uncertainties preventing hudreds of thousands of jobs in coal areas. Looking at the green space, at solar, and biofuels--I do not include ethanol in biofuels. The bet in green space is that every five years the green space becomes 100 percent more efficient. That’s not happening, that’s not even close to happening, but if it were, green space would be providing 15 percent of our energy in 15 years.

As to a free market approach to nuclear facilities, I don’t see how we have free market faciilities when no one will underwrite the risk. I suppose I could see government doing that...If we dont have more energy, we’re looking to brownouts in the 8-10 year timeframe.

Reason's definitive page on Gary Johnson.  

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  • ||

    In a perfect world, Gary Johnson would be where Herman Cain is both in the polls and in terms of media exposure. Of course, in a perfect world, the Cubs would be getting ready to play Game One of the World Series. Damn you, imperfect world!

  • ||

    As a Cardinals fans, I say "Suck it, Cubbies!"

  • Warty||

    In my home universe, Katy Perry has never sung a note in her life and is a renowned porn star. I hate this piece of shit universe I'm stuck in.

  • ||

    I can get on board with that. Or, alternatively, she could be my second wife (assuming we're rich enough that I don't have to worry about her spending all my money on clothes and handbags). Oh, and the Black Eyed Peas would be the house band at some hotel I'll NEVER visit.

  • ||

  • Warty||

    My cats would not have been nearly that brave.

    I'm not sorry about stealing your Katy Perry joke, though.

  • ||

    That cat in the picture is a mainecoon. It was too stupid to be afraid.

  • Warty||

    Maine Coons might not be smart, but they're usually tough enough to make up for it. I don't think that would help much against a lion, though.

  • ||

    Not in my perfect world.

  • ||

    Your perfect world involves Tampa Bay winning something. Ain't gonna happen, baby.

  • ||

    I assume you mean in baseball since we've won titles in the other major sports that we have.

    It's only been a few years since the Rays were in the World Series, and they've won the division twice and the wild card once in recent years. Not sure how they're anything remotely resembling the Cubs.

  • ||

    I was merely needling you, ProL. The cool thing is that it worked.

    In my perfect world, I would win the US Open.

  • ||

    People would perform Calvin Ball, en masse, in giant arenas, simply for my amusement. To the death.

  • Robert||

    I remember the first pro sports team (maybe first team of any kind) to have "Tampa Bay" rather than just "Tampa" as part of its name: the Rowdies. At least I think they were 1st.

  • ||

    What the hell is a Bay Ray? I understood Devil Ray, as that's an actual creature. But a Tampa Bay Ray? Makes no sense. I predict continued failure until they move the franchise to Lutz.

  • ||

    That would be great. Beats the drive to the games for me now.

    I think the Rowdies were the first "Tampa Bay" team.

  • ||

    Maybe next time around will be closer to perfect. RP will be too old and Gary can inherit a sizeable chunk of the libertarians and they won't be able to ignore him in the debates. By then the political landscape may be ripe for a true foundation shaking. And BTW there is no perfect, Gary's just closer than I've seen. His acomplishments, his disclipine, his vision, his conviction to principles all stand taller than his opponents Rep or Dem.

  • ||

    Except next time, Rand Paul will be running, and the media will ignore Gary Johnson on the premise that he did so poorly this time (thanks to their limited coverage.)

  • ||

    Johnson has said he does not plan to run in 2016. Of current Libertarains/'Libertarians' of big name, Rand Paul is the most likely I see to take the mantle.

  • ||

    Rand Paul is not a libertarian and he's even said as much.

  • ||

    Don't fall for the "HermanLame" troll. It's likely Max or shrike.

  • ||

    Have you read his book? He says he's not a libertarian, but he does a LOT of libertarian name-dropping.

  • Cris Ericson||

    DEADLINE Oct. 22 PLEASE HURRY & HELP!

    PETITION TO END MARIJUANA PROHIBITION

    http://wh.gov/gP1
    at White House now!

    "Demand an Amendment
    to the U.S. Constitution to End Marijuana,
    Marihuana, Cannabis and Hemp Prohibition"

    President Obama allows Adults and
    children age 13 and up to sign "We the People"
    petitions.

    This is the 13th MARIJUANA petition at the
    White House and it is an UMBRELLA for all
    the other marijuana, cannabis and hemp petitions.

    The link is case sensitive, upper case capitol P.
    http://wh.gov/gP1

  • ||

    Republican Debates - MADCHESTER EDITION

    Ron Paul - Joy Division
    Gary Johnson - New Order
    Mitt Romney - The Smiths
    Rick Perry - The Stone Roses
    Herman Cain - Happy Mondays
    Rick Santorum - A Guy Names Gerald

    Anderson Cooper - Tony Wilson

  • ||

    Don't smear the Stone Roses with Rick Perry's name.

  • ||

    [pedant]
    Joy Division and The Smiths aren't Madchester. I'd replace them with Inspiral Carpets and The Charlatans. Also, it's A Guy Called Gerald, not A Guy Named Gerald.
    [/pedant]

  • ||

    Well, Montani did warn us that it would be pedantic.

  • ||

    I used to get Happy Flowers confused with Happy Mondays, which is weird because Happy Flowers were actually good

  • ||

    Yes yes, this is all well and good, but the really pressing question is: what is his stance on the legality of gamboling across forest and plain? Until that crucial matter is addressed, I cannot support him.

  • ||

    GAMBOLING 4 LIFE

  • ||

    I'm still cracking up about that, "These are the gambols of the starship Enterprise..." yesterday. I don't know why, but that just struck me as being incredibly funny.

  • ||

    Even being the stupidest troll ever, White Indian has given us a fucking hilarious word.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Last night, just for the people I was able to talk to, and regardless of where people were on the spectrum--there were communists and socialists all the way up to free market anarchists--it was civil.

    Civil? That's not what the Stoss told me on his show.

    As for standing with OWS, the problems they complain about are very real but, as has been pointed out, the solutions call for are very different than should be Johnson's. If there's one semi-cohesive (if counter-intuitive) message from the Occupiers, it seems to be a need for more government control.

  • ||

    The poor, unfortunate nitwits that make up the "occupy this and that" movement will never come to terms with the fact that the real villian is in the mirror every time they look there.

  • ||

    I actually think this is Johnson trying to use the OWS people as a springboard to get the media to stop ignoring him.

    I mean, he is a politician after all.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    He should light a doob on national TV. (Which for him I guess would have to be in the window behind Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira.)

  • ||

    He'd be the "I'm totally voting for that dude, dude" dude that nobody ever votes for.

  • ||

    I hope it works, but it probably won't.

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    I actually think this is Johnson trying to use the OWS people as a springboard to get the media to stop ignoring him.

    Heh. I'd say it's more of a case of desperation. When you're that desperate for some lovin', even the ugly girls look good at closing time.

  • Robert||

    Then we need more libertarians in there, to dilute and blur their message.

  • Robert||

    To dilute & blur the Occupiers' message, I mean.

  • ||

    Gary who?

  • ||

    I look forward to standing in the voting booth an extra minute to type G A R Y J O H N S O N.

  • ||

    Gary who?

  • ||

    interesting that both libtoid candidates (johnson & paul) express support for OWS while H&R libtoids routinely slime OWS'ers as bourgeois hipsters, marxists, & smelly hippies.

    >paul specifically said of OWS'ers to stop blaming the victims.

  • ||

    Yes, very interesting.

  • ||

    Unlike you, we don't slavishly follow or believe whatever politicians tell us.

  • ||

    derp!

  • ||

    u mean dont follow libertarian orders. but no prob w the gop orders to slime the ows'ers right?

  • ||

    u mean u have indipendent thoughts which is scarey and dangerous 2 me

  • ||

    u know who else had independint thoughts.....

  • ||

    Erasmus of Rotterdam?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Triple Asshole,

    I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention - did you moo something?

  • ||

    a little testy, r we? no wonder u wingnuts r driving moderates back into obama's arms.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Triple Asshole,

    I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention - did you moo something... again?

  • ||

    Little testes?

  • ||

    TARP bailouts were unconstitutional.
    So would have been the alternative - FDIC for everyone whose accounts were wiped out. And bank shareholders were clobbered - I'm down 90% on several bank stocks I held. Bank execs had their options wiped out too. In any case, does anyone have a table of which TARP payments were or haven't yet been repaid, at hefty interest?
    Are taxpayers left holding the bag on any "Wall Street" bailouts, or just on AIG and Fanny and Freddie (which shouldn't be considered Wall Street)?

  • ||

    And bank shareholders were clobbered - I'm down 90% on several bank stocks I held.

    I made 20% shorting Bank of America! Of course, I lost it when I shorted the market over the october 10th weekend.

  • ||

    FDIC only covered up to 100k at the time.
    Grandma's passbook account wasn't at Goldman Sachs anyways.

  • ||

    True, but FDIC had over $4 trillion in obligations at the time. Had half the banks failed (as many libertarians gleefully wished for it seems) the hit to the taxpayers would have been more than TARP. Not mention what kind of
    additional assholes would have won election in 2008.
    Again, anyone know the net cost of us taxpayers of TARP?

  • ||

    Had half the banks failed (as many libertarians gleefully wished for it seems) the hit to the taxpayers would have been more than TARP.

    Irrelevant. FDIC insurance was widely publicized and in writing. The TARP bailouts were made up after the fact. By not letting the banksters go broke for their own poor decisions, the moral hazard of the unwritten "government backstop" was extended and bank execs with poor judgment kept in positions to do further harm to the economy. If they had been allowed to fail, the banking business would have shifted to others with better judgment.

  • ||

    Irrelevant. FDIC only covers deposit institutions, not brokerage houses. Countrywide was not a deposit bank. Neither was Bear Stearns, nor Morgan Stanley, nor Goldman Sachs, nor were the vast majority of TARP recipients.

    Sadly, the FDIC *has* been busy, with over 100 bank closures per year since the beginning of the recession.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Alt text: Blurry leadership.

  • ||

    I'm not in for taxpayers underwriting the risk for nuclear power plants. Sorry, that's crony capitalism right there. However, there is so much other good stuff he IS saying, that I look forward to voting for Mr. Johnson.

  • ||

    So he's in favor of military intervention in Uganda? That's....disappointing.

  • ||

    That was my reaction as well.

  • ||

    Not a fan of his foreign policy answers there. And I am still "jury out" on full transparancy of campaign contributions. But I would still rather have VETO GARY than any other choice.

  • ||

    Yeah, I disagree with full transparency. Sounds like a way to chill free speech, and his foreign policy answers are disappointing, but at least he draws a line somewhere regarding conflicts of convenience. At any rate, he's still the best of the bunch.

  • ||

    Actual contributions to the candidate's own campaign machine? You bet, full transparency. Or, go to the other extreme - the identity of contributors cannot be disclosed to anyone, including the campaign or the candidate, and if a contributor outs themselves, they will be charged with attempted bribery.

    All other expenditures supporting/opposing candidates? Be as opaque as you like.

  • ||

    OWSers are dipshits who don't know their assholes from their elbows. That's not to say I really care, but anyone who takes any positions about what they "stand for" are just making shit up.

    Totally with him on the MJ/DEA thing, and many of his other positions. But between him and Ron P, I'll take Ron. Neither will be the Republican nominee. So, the decision in 2012 will be, let's see what the republican nominee can get done, or not vote.

  • ||

    There is a libertarian "wing" of the OWSers, but it's a wing that consists of a utility closet and a half-bath on the Taj Mahal of the entire movement.

  • ||

    Give GJ credit for trying to make the pivot to Big Gov and politicians as the engine of corpocratic evil.

    Too bad the Occupados are too dim to follow his lead.

  • Old Mexican||

    This really does in my opinion qualify as what you could lable as a humanitarian effort or the United States stepping in to stop a genocide. Congress authorized it, the president said yes, and I would’ve as president.


    And of course, both members of Congress and this consequentialist and potential president have the knowledge and insight to determine what different genocide to commit when stepping into a conflict half-way around the globe in order to stop a genocide.

    It should be 100 percent transparency. There should be no contributions coming in the back door that are not reported.


    Because we all know contributors would have something (wink, wink!) to hide if not, right?

    Presumption of guilt, Gary???

  • ||

    don't like the black ppl much, do we?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Triple Asshole,

    I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention - did you moo something?

  • ||

    Nice try, race baiter.

  • ||

    @poor orrin

    Says the guy who signed up for the brownpeoplekillingest organization in the history of man.

    What did the army do to you, man?

    I'm really curious to know what kind of derp pills the government chemists are coming up with now.

  • T||

    Says the guy who signed up for the brownpeoplekillingest organization in the history of man.

    Nitpick, but I think the leader in murdering funny colored furriners still has to be Mao.

  • ||

    True, but you can play fast and loose with history when talking to PFC Dipshtit; he'll never know.

  • ||

    "To my understanding this is the worst terrorist group on the planet over the last few decades."

    No Gary. The worst terrorist group on the planet over the last few decades is the U.S. government.
    What other group has invaded countries and cost hundreds of thousands of lives by trying to impose their political will on others?

    But hey, i'm sure you have a BIG problem with foreign people coming to America to fight the U.S. government, while simultaneously clamoring to send troops into yet another hornet's nest you think you have a right to burden American tax payers (and innocent African collateral damage victims) with.

    Libertarian candidate my ass. Aside from immigration issues Gary Johnson isn't fit to wash Ron Paul's jockstrap.

  • ||

    Gary's only 58 and I believe there are active military personnel that age or older. Get thee to a recruiter's office, Mr. J.

  • ||

    So to argue for a FP position you don't like, one must join the military. What a brilliant argument. You're not at all a disingenuous asshole.

  • ||

    A post so retarded it's palpable.

  • ||

    I was a Gary Johnson supporter - but he sounds like complete dipshit here. He's trying to connect some connectable dots. Lazy commies aren't Libertarians.

    Sure their was crony capitalism - but the primary cause was idiotic members of Congress deciding that banks should loan to low-income / high-risk people. They made it happen through Fannie and Freddie and regulations.

    As for Uganda - I just don't care. Drop a bunch of fuel-air-explosives on them and forget about it.

  • ||

    but the primary cause was idiotic members of Congress deciding that banks should loan to low-income / high-risk people

    Out here in California, the "sub-prime mess" was only a small part of the problem. Plenty of high income, supposedly low risk people took out HELOCs on the inflated bubble values of their homes, spent the loot, and then stopped paying when they realized they were underwater.

  • ||

    Oh, the banks did a lot of stupid shit and I have no sympathy for them. I had neighbors foreclosed on for owing $800k on their $500k house. They hadn't paid the primary or second mortgage for years - despite 3 of the people living there collecting Social Security.

  • squishua||

    an executive order removing marijuana from schedule I


    So make it a schedule II like methamphetamine and cocaine? Whoop dee fucking doo.

  • Robert||

    It's not clear to me that changes in the control schedules can even be made by executive order. However, it doesn't say it would be put on any other schedule, so presumably he's saying decontrol.

  • squishua||

    Yeah, I noticed he'd also be overstepping his Presidential authoritah.

    Saying "remove it from schedule I" isn't the same as "removing it fom the schedule altogether. It would not only be an overreach, but a completely useless one.

  • ||

    considering the kind of crap that both bush and obama have pulled via "executive order", i wouldn't put it past them.

    regardless, assuming scheduling is not the role of the president (and i am confident it is not) , he CAN -- regardless of how MJ is federally scheduled -- respect states rights in regards to medical mj. Raich idiocy aside

  • ||

    Gary Johnson is my favorite presidential candidate so far. We'll see who the LP nominates in July.

  • ||

    ...there were communists and socialists all the way up to free market anarchists...

    Kudos to GJ for not saying "down"....

  • ||

    It’s go in, get the job done period, and get out.

    -LBJ, 1964

  • ||

    -GWB, 2003

  • ||

    I will be voting for Governor Gary Johnson for president! End the wars, balance the budget, equal rights for LGBT and legalize marijuana! This guy is exactly what America needs! The People's President.

  • ||

    He's a dumbass, bur he's our dumbass damnit!

  • ||

    Johnson is the real deal. It's a shame he (and Ron Paul) are not given a fair shake by the establishment media.

    http://truthalert.net/Oct 2011 Republican Presidential Candidate Rankings.htm

  • ||

    I'm voting for him if I have to write him in. I may be wasting a vote when all is said and done, but I am tired of being told what to do with my body, my life, and my sexuality by the government.

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