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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bill Keller, "Crime and Punishment and Obama": Keller's Swan Song and a New Obama Legacy to Replace Obamacare

Bill Keller is leaving the New York Times. Yes, I know, who cares?

In his final Times op-ed entitled "Crime and Punishment and Obama" (, Keller explains that he will be establishing a nonprofit journalistic venture "devoted to the vast and urgent subject of our broken criminal justice system." Keller goes on to say:

"Obama has also been the stingiest of recent presidents in using his powers of pardon and commutation to undo the damage of the crack panic and of sentencing that keeps prisoners in lockup long past the age when they represent a danger. Marc Levin, director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank with a justice reform agenda, points out that in his first term Obama pardoned one in 50 applicants while Ronald Reagan pardoned one in three. Late last year Obama commuted the sentences of eight drug offenders, out of more than 8,000 federal convicts serving time under outdated crack laws."

Keller's conclusion:

"The Obama presidency has almost three years to go, and there is reason to hope that he will feel less constrained, that the eight commutations were not just a pittance but, as he put it, 'a first step,' that Holder’s mounting enthusiasm for saner sentencing is not just talk, but prelude, that the president will use his great pulpit to prick our conscience.

'This is something that matters to the president,' Holder assured me last week. 'This is, I think, going to be seen as a defining legacy for this administration.'

I’ll be watching, and hoping that Holder’s prediction is more than wishful thinking."

Ah yes, given the "success" of Obamacare, we have a new presidential legacy in the making: The Procrastinator-in-Chief will now seek saner sentencing in his last three years in office. Yeah, right.

I hope Keller finds meaning in life after the Times.

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