Paul Manafort and Pot

The conviction of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort for numerous white-collar crimes, including tax fraud and bank fraud, was a big win for those of us who dislike the way the U.S. justice system has historically worked. It’s also a win for the millions of people who’ve been arrested and charged with a minor marijuana offense over the years (including me back in my college days).

In my opinion, Manafort is the embodiment of the cheesy, well-off, white male sleaze bag who parades around in expensive — and in his case, often tacky — clothes while kissing the asses of other cheesy, well-off, white sleaze bags, like President Trump. They pretend to be patriots. They wear American flag lapel pins and generally do a good job — with help from Sean Hannity and Fox News — of fooling undereducated, working-class white men who have a hard time seeing them for who they are. (Think TV preachers, if you want an example of how the strategy works and the demographic they target.)

These dishonest creeps have figured out that there are a fair number of Americans who can’t see through scams like “Trump University” and will vote for someone who says they’ll bring back typewriters, coal jobs and a safe, white-dominated country that really only exists in the minds of idiots. They also know that a lot of their followers are easily fooled into overlooking the fact that they skipped military service, got their start in life from “daddy,” cheated their way to the top, act in ways that undermine American security and rarely practice what they preach (Trump, for example, used Asian steel on all his high-rise buildings and employed undocumented workers).

Why am I so delighted that Manafort will likely spend decades in jail? Why am I, a relatively wealthy white guy, loving every minute of the Trump investigation and hoping that he too ends up in prison? Simple: For decades, rich white guys have committed white-collar crimes like embezzlement, tax evasion, fraud, insider trading and money laundering. They cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars a year in lost tax revenues, which could go to education, schools, cleaning up the environment, etc. They rarely get caught, and when they do, they usually get a slap on the wrist.

On the other side of the coin, poor minorities get caught with a few grams of weed and get punished with huge fines and long prison sentences. It’s been a national disgrace for decades in the U.S., and it’s as easy to see through as Trump’s lying and reluctance to prove he even pays taxes.

The long road to legalizing marijuana has been littered with people who got sent to the big house for possession of relatively small amounts of weed. They get the shaft. Jerks like Manafort on the other hand, rarely get caught, do real damage to the country and get away with murder (sometimes literally). It will be a good thing for America if Manafort gets a long sentence. Hopefully it will send a message.

It’s also good that the legalization of marijuana will result in fewer poor minorities getting jail time for a victimless crime that has far less negative impact on the country than the white-collar offenses committed by folks like Manafort, Trump, Roger Stone, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn and Scott Pruitt.


Greg James



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