Interview with a Weed Nazi: Mark Ames and Max Blumenthal talk to Gary Johnson
EDITOR’S NOTE: Earlier this week, Gary Johnson, the libertarian former governor of New Mexico, threw his hat into the presidential ring.
His entry is seen by many as a response to the damp squib campaign being waged by fellow libertarian Rand Paul.
Johnson is considered by many supporters to be a “true” libertarian, as opposed to Paul who they see as a watered down, voter-friendly version of his father, Ron Paul. That may well be true: Johnson wants to maximize gun ownership, stop the US paying foreign aid and abolish the IRS (and all personal income taxes) . He also announced his candidacy not in the mainstream press but in an interview with controversial Libertarian bible, Reason magazine.
Then again, Johnson quickly had to walk back some very non-libertarian campaign pledges including a total ban on wearing the burqa in public. In the Guardian, Jeb Lund wrote that Johnson isn’t libertarian, but rather "a pro-pot Trump."
In 2012, the last time Johnson ran campaigned to become president, I was still editing NSFWCORP, which I later sold to Pando. Back then, I sent Mark Ames (now Pando Senior Editor) to Chicago to attend the third party debate. While there he and (journalist and son of Clinton advisor, Sidney) Max Blumenthal were able to track down Johnson and ask him a few questions about issues close to their heart. That interview was fascinating then, and still eye-popping now. The full piece, originally published in November 2012, is below. You can also read Mark's essay on Johnson here.
-- Paul Carr
Interview With A Weed Nazi: Mark Ames and Max Blumenthal Talk To Gary Johnson
November 22, 2012
NSFWCORP sent me to the big Third Party debate in Chicago in October — the one moderated by former CNN celebrity whore and full-time insect-head, Larry King. Max Blumenthal happened to be in town that day — he was there for a speech he gave at Northwestern University on Sanitizing Apartheid: Exposing The Israeli Peace Camp" so I railroaded him into going to the debate with me.
Rocky Anderson won the Third Party debate that night hands-down...but Chicago wasn't a left-friendly crowd. The Windy City is the original incubation site for the libertarian/neoliberalism movement that still dominates the ruling class ideology today, and it showed in the libertarian crowd's sympathies. (And in all the libertarian ponytails—for some reason libertarian males love their ponytails, it's a hippie thing I guess.)
So the Chicago libertarian-heavy crowd cheered when Gary Johnson promised to deliver harsh austerity, stood on their seats roaring gleefully over Johnson's promises to slash all college aid and debt relief, politely agreed with Johnson when he talked up marijuana while leading a pogrom against other "hard" drugs like cocaine, like Weed Nazi Führer to Weed Nazi stonedtroopers... and they hissed with disapproval when Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein stood for free universal health care, lowering college debt, and reining in bankster power (the ponytards only want to rein in the Fed, not Wall Street).
From far away in our cheap seats, Gov. Johnson looked a little unhinged with his wild-eyed rants against the income tax, against corporate taxes, against budget deficits, and especially when he went on his Weed-Nazi blood libel against poor ol’ cocaine (“cocaine puts holes in your heart, Whitney Houston is the best example of that"), the despised Dick Nixon of drugs.
Up close, he seemed easily-startled when Max Blumenthal and I approached Gov. Johnson. And way too boyish-faced, a baby boomer health nut type who’s treated his tanned face with far too much Kiehls, like expensive leather shoes.
Blumenthal interviewed Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson first:
BLUMENTHAL: The Tea Party is for ending foreign aid to every country except for Israel. Would you end aid to Israel?
JOHNSON: Yes, we’d have to include—and I’ve been to Israel. I’ve been to Israel, and I met with Netanyahu, and the takeaway—what I came away from it: Israel doesn’t want anything from us. Other than not for us to intervene and tell them what they should or shouldn’t do, them understanding that better than anyone else.
BLUMENTHAL: Why has Netanyahu visited more than any foreign leader of any leader in the last 100 years?
JOHNSON: Well in the case of me visiting, there wouldn’t... My trip to Israel just enlightened me on what a lot of these issues are. And my takeaway was that we shouldn’t be dictating to Israel what or what not to do. They best understand the issues and they’re going to make these decisions for themselves.
BLUMENTHAL: So we shouldn’t be telling them “Stop the occupation”?
JOHNSON: Right. Let them deal with that issue. If I were president of the United States, I would be urging Israel to not bomb Iran.
BLUMENTHAL: But what about the Palestinians and Palestine?
JOHNSON: All right, you understand it as well as anyone. I mean, enlighten me. What would your solution be?
BLUMENTHAL: I support the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) which encourages Israel to abide by three conditions of international law, which they have refused to abide by: Resolution 194 allowing the Palestinians the right of return; ending the occupation; and providing equal rights for Palestinians — which they have refused to abide by.
JOHNSON: It’s hard to understand. I could not — I could not converse on that issue intelligently.
BLUMENTHAL: Why do you think Palestine was left out of last night’s debate?
JOHNSON: I think that, uh, probably has to do with, uh...I can’t speak for it other than...it’s not in either party’s interests to talk about it?
As Max decided to drop it there, I quickly butted in with a question about foreclosure fraud. Johnson nervously buckled back, then caught himself and tried to answer how he would tackle the ongoing housing crimes that have left millions of Americans in ruins and no one to stand up for them.
AMES: What will you do about foreclosure fraud and housing fraud that neither party is doing anything about or helping Americans?
JOHNSON: I would love to be in a position — I found that as governor of New Mexico it was wonderful to be able to bring the people to the table who would most understand these issues and the people that know, and be cutting edge on it. But I do not have that opportunity. I mean hey, I have the same questions as you do!
I couldn’t believe I just heard him say that — was Gary Johnson selling me a car stereo, or was he running for president of the most powerful nation on earth?
As it turned out, Gary Johnson’s answer to the millions of Americans who lost their homes to illegal foreclosure fraud— and who were bankrupted and enslaved with debt through lending fraud — is simple: Abolish the Fed, and hand over all money-printing to private banks. Because in the 19th Century, there were never banking panics, the middle class was never defrauded and fleeced, and the rivers flowed with Belgian chocolate waterfalls.
AMES: What about all the Wall Street criminals who were bailed out, who made enormous amounts of money committing fraud — and not one of them has been punished yet by either Obama or Bush before him?
JOHNSON: Ultimately, it was Federal Reserve policy that made these low-interest loans available. And Greenspan, who said, “Look, what I failed to see were these banks overseeing themselves.”
I should point out here that Gov. Gary Johnson gets his great ideas from the same crazy Russian baglady that Alan Greenspan got his brilliant ideas from, as Gov. Johnson explained to the Weekly Standard: “I think I view the system the same way that Ayn Rand views the system—that it really oppresses those that create, if you will, and tries to take away from those that produce and give to the non-producers.” And just as Alan Greenspan met his first wife at one of Ayn Rand’s cult meetings, Gary Johnson has been busy brainwashing his fiancee in the Randroid Way: “The woman that I’m with, and I’m gonna be married to and I’m in love with now—we’ve been together for a couple of years—she asked me was there anything that she could read to understand what it is or how I thought, and I recommended to her Atlas Shrugged.”
The big shocker — if you’re the easily-shocked type, and you’re young enough to take libertarians at their word on anything — came at the end, when Johnson essentially came out in support of bank bailouts, TARP and QE-Infinity, so long as that very same Fed bailout came from something he labeled “a regional banking system” rather than from what we now call a “Federal Reserve”:
AMES: So what would you do about the Fed incentivizing banks to speculate by offering them free money?
JOHNSON: I would sign legislation abolishing the Federal Reserve if given the opportunity.
AMES: So money would be generated privately?
JOHNSON: Money would be real.
AMES: So how would people be protected from the sorts of panics that happened in this country before there was a Federal Reserve?
JOHNSON: Well, it would end up being a sort of regional banking system that could combine together to be able to provide that kind of liquidity. Don’t misunderstand me—regional banking could step in and take up that kind of slack that the Federal Reserve is I think needed for... There are needed elements of the Federal Reserve. One is to provide for liquidity for assets that are on the books. I mean, given a certain discount — now you’re getting into, uh, what is the leveraged borrowing on those assets.
AMES: Right...thank you.
Indeed. Perrier, anyone?