Did Anybody catch Nader and Buchanan on Larry King last night?
October 3, 2000 10:46 AM   Subscribe

Did Anybody catch Nader and Buchanan on Larry King last night? I did, and I actually found myself *agreeing* with Buchanan -- on so many issues that I surprised and shocked myself!
posted by snakey (44 comments total)
Is there any place to download a compressed version of it either audio broadcast or visual? There's got to be a copy of it somewhere...
posted by bkdelong at 10:55 AM on October 3, 2000

I taped it, but I couldn't find the whole thing on the web. If I could have, I would have posted it.
posted by snakey at 11:22 AM on October 3, 2000

Want to enlighten us as to which issues you were in agreement?
posted by holgate at 11:26 AM on October 3, 2000

let's see... buchanan supports mandatory minimum sentencing, forced prison (slave) labor, death penalty, ending affirmative action, outlawing abortion, increasing the defense budget, trying youths as adults, eliminating the contributions of people of color from the US history curriculum, closing the borders, English-only policies...

apart from campaign finance reform, life under buchanan sounds like a nationalist/fascist nightmare to me. i'd sooner vote for giuliani.
posted by sudama at 11:29 AM on October 3, 2000

I'm guessing that Buchanan's stance against globalization was a major point of agreement.
posted by harmful at 11:31 AM on October 3, 2000

Yes, but I'm sure for entirely different motives than Nader. ;)

Watch out who you get into bed with...
posted by solistrato at 11:32 AM on October 3, 2000

Here's a transcript -- but basically, Buchanan drives home a lot of the same things that Nader has been saying.

On debates: "...you've got a situation that the American people are not permitted to hear a candidate whose campaign they are paying for."

On Bush & Gore:
"KING: Do you -- are you of the belief that the two parties are not very dissimilar?

BUCHANAN: They've ceased to be -- Larry, I came up in a time of Goldwater and Johnson, Nixon and McGovern, Reagan and Mondale. There's clarity whether you agree or disagree. You've got a real choice.

Again, I'm going down all these issues. Where is the difference in these fellows in foreign policy, in trade policy? "

Nevertheless, I also think that he's got a lot of wacko ideas (especially on bilingualism) -- but I found the first half of his segment inspiring.

posted by snakey at 11:36 AM on October 3, 2000

yeah buchanan understands what's wrong with the political system -- and i'll admit i, too, was shocked to find myself nodding my head last night -- but the rest of his platform is horrible reactionary nonsense.
posted by sudama at 11:46 AM on October 3, 2000

Watch out who you get into bed with...

Exactly. IMHO there's nothing to be gained by embracing the hateful Buchanan, even if he agrees with us on certain prominent issues.

I'm guessing that Buchanan's stance against globalization was a major point of agreement.

There are a few similarities but also a big difference: Buchanan wants a closed economy, whereas (most) progressives want an open, people-friendly economy.

Plus, all the important differences sudama mentioned.

I would say that the issues on which Buchanan and Nader agree are merely the issues on which ALL the third party candidates agree (including the Libertarian, Constitution, Socialist, and Natural Law parties).
posted by johnb at 12:07 PM on October 3, 2000

Speaking of the Libertarians, I'm glad to see them taking on drug decriminalization as one of their major issues. Harry Browne says he would pardon all non-violent drug offenders in his first day in office.

Nader disappoints me on the marijuana reform issue because he so rarely brings it up. For all his talk of courage, he only mumbles his support of industrial hemp, and is almost completely silent on marijuana reform.
posted by snakey at 12:13 PM on October 3, 2000

What's interesting is that (if I get this right from my transatlantic perch) Buchanan's got $12million in Federal funds to fight the election. In short, while he's a right-wing loon, he remains something of a test case for campaign finance reform.
posted by holgate at 12:14 PM on October 3, 2000

Not really, Holgate. Buchanan basically absconded with $12 million that Ross Perot brought in by his showings in the 1992 and 1996 elections. He left the Republican Party when it became obvious that they were sick of him. He then brought all his cronies and followers into the Reform Party - who were having a schism of their own between Perot and Jesse Ventura - and walked out with the cash.

Buchanan's low showing in the polls only bears out the fact that you can throw all the money in the world at a pig, but in the end it's still a pig.

I just horribly mangled some metaphor or cliche there.
posted by solistrato at 12:59 PM on October 3, 2000

Can someone explain to me why these are necessarily bad? (And not because you don't agree with the proponent's other views, just on the merit of the point itself)?

mandatory minimum sentencing
forced prison (slave) labor
increasing the defense budget
trying youths as adults

Why do you view these as bad? If a thirteen year old walks into a store and blows away the clerk, shouldn't he be tried as an adult?

No, I am not trying to be a troll or stir up emotions, I am asking these questions because I am legitimately trying to understand. To me, it seems like any thinking person who is concerned with societal order and protection of the citizens would be in support of these changes?

posted by tsitzlar at 1:37 PM on October 3, 2000

Point taken. I suppose my argument is this: if Buchanan can fight a campaign in 50 states (admittedly as a minor minority candidate) with $12 million, and get more than adequate media coverage, then there's no reason why the major candidates can't do the same.
posted by holgate at 1:40 PM on October 3, 2000

off the top of my head:

Mandatory minimums: like "three strikes and your out", leads to manifestly disproportionate sentences in some cases. More importantly, attacks the independence of the judiciary. (We've had this debate in Britain. The judges basically said they wouldn't work with it.)

defence spending increases: oh, for fuck's sake, the US is already armed to the teeth. You're just making arms dealers wealthy, while threatening treaty obligations and upsetting the balance of power elsewhere (hence European objections to the US missile shield programme).

trying youths as adults: statistically, the quickest way to turn a juvenile offender into a lifetime criminal.
posted by holgate at 1:46 PM on October 3, 2000

obtypo: "three strikes and you're out".
posted by holgate at 1:47 PM on October 3, 2000

mandatory minimum sentencing
Judges are called that for a reason. It is their job to judge. Mandatory minimums weaken the power of the judiciary by taking decisions out of judges hand and assuming that the legislative branch got it right, and that a blanket solution is right for every case. If the judges can't be trusted to make adequate decisions then something is wrong with the selection process, not with sentencing law.

forced prison (slave) labor
I don't see anything wrong with this. I think that if you are in prison, you should earn your keep. The average cost per day per prisoner should be added up for each prison, and every inmate should provide restitution by way of services equal to that amount; i.e. instead of lifting weights and filing appeals all day, they could manufacture items, or break rocks, or clean roadways, or push a little wheel around and generate electricity, or do whatever they wanted to. Once they reach their monthly quota they would be free to sit around and play chess. This way skilled workers could be sentenced to prisons where their skills would be applicable, and they would be able to keep up with and even improve in their fields, and come out of prison with a chance to be productive members of society.

increasing the defense budget
I would be all for increasing the defense budget if it was used for defense, but the sad truth is that most of it is used for what can only be termed offense. If instead of getting involved in the affairs of every country in the world in order to protect the business interests of American corporations, we focused on the actual physical defense of the citizens of the United States, I don't think it would cost nearly as much.

trying youths as adults
I don't think that there should be a mandatory herd edged distinction between children and adults in the eyes of the judicial sustem. I think that a judge, looking at the facts of the situation and meeting with the accused, should be free to pursue whatever course of sentencing he or she feels is most appropriate. (See mandatory minimum sentencing above)

There is more to the United States then just societal order and protection of the citizens. As Ben Franklin so eloquently phrased it "Those who would trade their precious freedoms for a little bit of safety are deserving of neither freedom nor safety."
posted by donkeymon at 2:11 PM on October 3, 2000

If a thirteen year old walks into a store and blows away the clerk, shouldn't he be tried as an adult?

if i walk up to you and punch you in the face should i be tried as a martian? a dog? a toaster? a martini? apples and oranges.

prison labor (which is simply morally and ethically wrong as far as i'm concerned) creates a condition in which incarcerated individuals become a profit center for corporations. our media, law enforcement & judicial institutions are already extremely skilled at criminalizing "undesirable" segments of society, esp. youth of color -- imagine what the "free market" is going to do with this opportunity.

posted by sudama at 2:11 PM on October 3, 2000

mandatory minimums are demonstrably racist in practice.
posted by sudama at 2:13 PM on October 3, 2000

"prison labor (which is simply morally and ethically wrong as far as i'm concerned) creates a condition in which incarcerated individuals become a profit center for corporations. our media, law enforcement & judicial institutions are already extremely skilled at criminalizing "undesirable" segments of society, esp. youth of color -- imagine what the "free market" is going to do with this opportunity."

We'll all be trying to get incarcerated at the "best" prisons. Kinda like corporate culture only without the pretense.

I have to ask, Sudama...a) why do you feel that prison labor is morally and ethically wrong, and b) what would you have the incarcerated of the world do instead?
posted by ethmar at 2:19 PM on October 3, 2000

>>increasing the defense budget

Cutting the defense budget is a no-brainer -- even hawks at the Pentagon concede that they're lavishly overfunded. Only the defense industry has an interest in more defense spending -- and the Democrats and Republicans support further spending because that's what the corporations are paying them to support. It's really that simple. It's not a "hawks vs doves" thing.

If you are a conservative (you certainly sound like it), check out the Libertarian Party's argument for cutting the defense budget. As they note:

"Earl Ravenal, a Distinguished Research Professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University, estimates that, if the United States were to pursue a policy of defending its own borders while avoiding foreign intervention, we could realistically reduce our defense budget to as little as $125 billion over the next five years. The beneficial economic impact of such a "peace dividend," if returned to the American people in the form of tax reductions, would be enormous."
posted by johnb at 2:20 PM on October 3, 2000

Mandatory minimums let rapists and murderers out of prison so that marijuana growers can do hard time. One statistic that Families Against Mandatory Minumums likes to point out is that the average sentence for manslaughter is 18 months, and the average sentence for non-violent drug offenses is *8 years*
posted by snakey at 2:26 PM on October 3, 2000

We'll all be trying to get incarcerated at the "best" prisons

that's absurd. the corporations will be trying to get you a steady job that they don't have to pay a salary, wages, or benefits for.

the incarcerated of the world should be getting an education/dealing with their problems/rehabilitating. if that's hopeless and they remain dangerous to society then they need to be kept away, simple as that. we've got no right to use them to our economic ends.
posted by sudama at 2:30 PM on October 3, 2000


I agree with your assessment for the most part (especially on the topic of forced labour).

I guess my main question about mandatory minimum sentencing would be "does the prisoner have to serve the entire sentence"? To me that is still one of the worst aspects of our (United States) legal system-- someone sentenced to 15 years should not be out in 15 months or even 12 years; they should get 15 years. Since I have yet to see a so-called "truth in sentencing" law that worked, if mandatory minimums meant that the offender had to actually serve a mandatory min, then I'd be for it, simply because then you are at least guaranteed something.

As for the prison labour issue, I am particularly intrigued by sudama's comment. One of my closest friends is an educator in the prison system. The other day we were figuring out that it we would need to make about $50,000 a year to live at the same level as the inmates at his prison. To me that seems a little excessive for someone who isn't doing anything.

How can you ever hope to reform someone if they are living better on the inside than on the out?


(And I realize this is getting a little a field-- I apologize!)

posted by tsitzlar at 2:30 PM on October 3, 2000


Ok, then, perhaps instead of mandatory minimums we need brighter parole boards and prison calendars that actually match those in the real world. (See my previous post above.)

Would that help?

As someone who knows someone that was gunned down, I guess I have a particularly biased view on this-- the individual got less than 18 months for fataly shooting him in the back.

Nevermind he was actually sentence to a term about ten times that...

posted by tsitzlar at 2:34 PM on October 3, 2000

Why do you view these as bad? If a thirteen year old walks into a store and blows away the clerk, shouldn't he be tried as an adult?

- The younger the kid is, the less likely they are to understand the gravity of their actions. It's a rare 13 year old who knows what death means.

- Kids change faster than adults. Five years in jail for this hypothetical 13 year old is a much more substantial chunk of their life than it would be for a 35 year old.

- Kids grow up. Is it fair to hold an adult hostage to the actions of a kid whose mindset he can hardly remember, much less agree with?

It might be *just*, in a cruel sort of way, to treat all people who commit crimes alike regardless of age. It certainly isn't humane, and it isn't a good idea either.

posted by Mars Saxman at 2:34 PM on October 3, 2000

that's absurd. the corporations will be trying to get you a steady job that they don't have to pay a salary, wages, or benefits for.

You mean like contract labor?

But I digress. Chill out my friend, I was making a "joke".
posted by ethmar at 2:36 PM on October 3, 2000


Why do you think "it's a rare 13 year old who knows what death means"? I've know what death was since I was at least 6.

It seems to me that if you don't know about death by the time you hit your teenage years, you have lead one sheltered life. By the time I was 13, I'd already lost one grandparent and two or three aunts/uncles. (Not to mention at least one pet.)

I think you may be underestimating today's youth. Growing up with the amount of violence that the see/hear about on tv/movies/school, I don't think there's any questioning that they have at least the most rudimentary understanding of death early on.

Besides, at the very least, by that age they should know better than to shoot people, don't you think?

The rest of your comments, though, I think are fair and well taken. Still, I find it troubling that age would automatically get someone off easier, especially as they grow closer to adulthood. There are dramatic differences between someone 13 - 17 and someone who is, say, 6. At the very least I think we need to rethink the way we handle teens.

But, as I said a while back, I am just one person babbling his views and in no way claim to have ANY answers, nor am I trying to sway anyone else -- just trying to understand the other POV better (and thereby question my own).

posted by tsitzlar at 2:41 PM on October 3, 2000

The other day we were figuring out that it we would need to make about $50,000 a year to live at the same level as the inmates at his prison. To me that seems a little excessive for someone who isn't doing anything.

Which is why nonviolent "drug offenders" shouldn't spend even one *minute* in prison.

In general, we should be trying to minimize the number of people in prison. When you privatize the "prison industry", you create an economic incentive to lock more people up. And as the prison industry grows, its lobbying power will drive politicians to introduce increasingly "tougher" sentencing laws, resulting in a massive waste of taxpayer income as more and more Americans are put behind bars for minor offenses.
posted by johnb at 2:45 PM on October 3, 2000

tsitzlar -- mandatory minumum sentencing is directly responsible for violent felons getting lenient sentencing, because mandatory minimums are targeted at drug-related crimes.

It makes me sick that simple posession of a few hits of acid gets 10 years *without parole*, and they turn some rapist loose early to make room.
posted by snakey at 2:51 PM on October 3, 2000

Chill out my friend, I was making a "joke".

Well, I guess it wasn't "funny". 87P

Or else I need a "sense of humor".

posted by sudama at 3:03 PM on October 3, 2000

This thread is turning out kinda interesting. I have no real reason to enter, but Snakey's last post get me in the mood to say something.
I am certainly not about the dope. The subtle x's on my hands tell you that I am an old time sXe kid. I do not believe people can be saved from themselves, and locking someone up for possesion does not make sense to me. I don't care how much you alter yourself, until you get a speck on me I will not mind. Once you affect me, because you have to steal to support your monkey, or you lose control of your body, I will not accept that you have an illness. The punishment should come down just as hard (but no harder) as it would on anyone who is stealing/injuring for any other reason.
Rapists and murderers should be put to death. Bingo roomy prisons, echoing from lack of occupation. Vote for me!
posted by thirteen at 3:26 PM on October 3, 2000

This was a Nader/Buchanan thread... so, as a nod to the anti-tangential forces out there: I'm voting for Nader. Buchanan is an idiot.

But onto what the thread has become: I'm intrigued that no one has brought-up one of the biggest issues regarding mandatory minimums and the like: before the Supreme Court decided that any form of punishment in excess actual incarceration was "cruel and unusual", we didn't have the perceived need of mandatory mins. Now, as someone has mentioned earlier, it's a better life inside (aside from the lack of mobility... but who really goes out these days? =) than where many of the convicts came from.

posted by silusGROK at 3:42 PM on October 3, 2000

murderers should be put to death

Conservatives/libertarians should read this:

"The historical record of the 20th century is quite clear that giving any group of people the power to kill those who don't pose an immediate and direct threat inevitably leads that group to apply its power against the innocent, whether intentionally or not. The power to kill those who don't pose a direct and immediate threat should be one firmly opposed by libertarians."

posted by johnb at 3:50 PM on October 3, 2000

JohnB: I already read that one, but I have no desire to argue the point. Change my statement to: Murders should be given big houses and fabulous prizes!!! The victims families should be put to death. :)
posted by thirteen at 3:56 PM on October 3, 2000


I was distinguishing between awareness of death in the sense that one knows it exists or even what it looks like, and awareness of death in the sense of understanding one's own mortality and being able to empathize accordingly.

Perhaps kids do grow up faster now than they did when I was young, which wasn't all that long ago in the grand scheme of things... I just remember the awareness of death (and of ideas like permanence and irreversibility) developing over time. There's a difference between being aware something exists, and understanding what it means and why.

But I'm not a psychologist, so I should probably shut up.

posted by Mars Saxman at 4:01 PM on October 3, 2000

Murders should be given big houses and fabulous prizes!!! The victims families should be put to death. :)

Wow -- good description of the US government's attitude toward right-wing dictators (Pinochet, Suharto etc) But that's another subject entirely :)
posted by johnb at 4:09 PM on October 3, 2000


Responding to your comment:

What if a friend or family member of yours went to prison for some crime, would you seriously approve of them spending all day "breaking rocks" as some neaderthal MeFier put it?

Actually, if it was one of the violent crimes that I think this should be tied to (rape, murder, etc.), then, yes, I would-- and have in the past.

Just because it is someone close to me does not change any of my views. To do so would be hypocritical. Those that know me IRL know this and would back me on this.

As a matter of fact, I would support it even if it were *me* in the big house-- assuming, of course, we have a legal system where the Powers That Be aren't smoking cheap crack themselves.

(Ok, I'll shut up now... )
posted by tsitzlar at 5:04 PM on October 3, 2000

I'm catching up a bit late on this thread...

1. It can be quite sensible to give a lesser sentence for manslaughter than for other crimes which on their face seem less heinous than homicide.

Many manslaughter convictions arise either (a) from situations where there was a significant element of accident, inadvertance, self-defense (i.e. two guys fighting in a bar), sympathetic emotional mitigation (you kill the guy who stole your wife from you), etc. or (b) evidence is very weak and the prosecution is unlikely to get a murder conviction. They settle for a plea of manslaughter because the defendant isn't willing to gamble on a life sentence for murder.

In other words, there are many non-homicide offenses which reflect a much more certain or depraved criminal mentality, disposition, intention, etc., and therefore deserve harsher punishment. There are very situations where murder proper has lesser mandatories than many other offenses.

"Three strikes" and other statutes which have the effect of giving you a very long sentence for a minor offense are not punishing you for that offense, but for the "crime of being a criminal." (Although I should note that that phrase was first used to describe the RICO Act, which is a whole 'nother thread...)

2. A historical note -- one of the first big pushes to deprive judges of sentencing power actually arose from _left wing_ dissatisfaction with discretionary and indeterminate sentencing. Leftwingers felt that poor and minority defendants got harsh punishments when for the exact same offense, educated, prosperous and white defendants got off easy, based upon "character" evidence, their roles in the community, etc.

Thus, rape, which might have had a sentence range of 1 year to life under the old discretionary laws, got a sentence range of something like 5 to 8 years. Unfortunately, once the principal was established, there was nothing to keep those non-discretionary bands from being pushed out and sentences elongated.

3. Truth in sentencing, "no parole," etc. Good idea in theory, with many fans on the right and left, horrible idea in practice. Ask any prison guard -- prisons would be utterly unmanagable without the "carrot" of "good time" -- sentence reduction for avoiding disciplinary proceedings. (A typical formula is one day off your sentence for every three days without a violation.) It would be unconstitutional to _extend_ sentences for violations handed out by the prison authorities, leaving only two highly unpalatable choices: (a) arresting, trying and resentencing prisoners for every internal violation -- raising huge issues as to proof, fair trials, costs, etc., or (b) an incredibly brutal and draconian (beyond current standards) regime of lockdowns, solitary confinement, and guard use of force.

posted by MattD at 5:10 PM on October 3, 2000

You all saw it didn't you? JohnB. is trying to trick me into becoming a right wing dictator!
posted by thirteen at 7:16 PM on October 3, 2000

Personally I'm just impressed that no one has yet invoked Godwin's Rule. That's rare for a long Buchanan thread.
posted by smackfu at 8:23 PM on October 3, 2000

What bothers me about Buchanan is that even if I agreed with him (and I don't, not on most issues), what we're hearing in his speeches and interviews is the moderated Buchanan, the careful, calculating, planned and prepared Buchanan. His pattern of judgment and behavior is such that I would not trust him to make decisions on the issues that would come after he was elected, not the issues covered in the cut-and-dried campaign handbills he hands around while he smiles and kisses babies and shakes the working man's hand. He seems like the kind of man who would not anticipate a second election and so would act with disregard for any opinion but his own when elected. And that's the kind of near-zealot I don't want anywhere near an elected office.
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:28 AM on October 4, 2000

This ultimately comes down to a very simple question for me. I can't support crueler prisons, longer sentences, or work programs for one very simple reason: I think it is quite likely that I will end up in jail someday. It's not that I plan to rape, murder, or (heaven forbid) break out the windows of the local Starbucks, but that the U.S. government has a nasty little habit of locking up activists and other troublemakers. And I'd really rather not have to spend my days pounding rocks into gravel when I get there.

posted by Mars Saxman at 11:15 AM on October 4, 2000

The exact Franklin quote is, so far as I've been able to find out: "Those who would give up an essential liberty to ensure a little temporary security deserve neither
security nor liberty."

It's an excellent sentiment.

I hope someday for "Defending palatable speech is unremarkable" to be up there with it. :-)
posted by baylink at 8:09 AM on October 5, 2000

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