June 12, 2009


My brother just told me about some legalization of marijuana stuff that he was commending Pres Obama for. I decided to look it up, and I am more confused than ever.

I used to get so annoyed when people would blame anything bad that happened on Pres Bush. Didn't find the WMDs after giving Saddam months of advance notice that we were invading? Bush's fault. Economic troubles that started under the Clinton administration? Bush's fault. Hurricane hits New Orleans? Bush's fault.

Similarly, I will be quite annoyed if a trend starts where everything good that happens is attributed to Pres Obama, even if he opposes it and has nothing to do with it.

After four decades of mindless prohibition and draconian prison sentences for addicts and casual users, the first four months of the Obama era have seen a rapid turn toward rationality.

So far so good in paragraph one. Let's see what Obama has been doing in the realm of weed, because I simply haven't been following it. So then I get to paragraph three:

But while states like California and New York are challenging the fundamentals of prohibition and punishment that have governed America's drug policy since the Nixon era, the Obama administration is largely staying the course. The president, who has blasted the drug war as an "utter failure," has nonetheless delegated oversight of drug policy to one of the chief architects of that failure: Vice President Joe Biden, who coined the term "drug czar" and steered the passage of the nation's harsh drug sentences as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Far from scaling back funding for drug interdiction and law enforcement, the administration's 2010 budget increases the levels established under George W. Bush. And despite the growing bipartisan discussion among state leaders about decriminalizing marijuana, Kerlikowske tells Rolling Stone that legalization is not up for debate "under any circumstances." [emphasis mine]

So, pray tell, why does "the Obama era" get the credit for any of this? Obama doesn't seem to have done squat; the rest of the article gives most of the credit to Schwarzenegger and Webb.

Political pressure to end the War on Drugs is building in surprising quarters. In recent months, three distinct rationales have converged to convince a growing number of politicians — including many on the center-right — to seriously consider the benefits of legalizing marijuana.

Huh? Center-right Republicans are becoming more open to the idea of legalization, and somehow Obama gets all the credit in the opening paragraph?

And then there's this: 366-day sentence for pot dispensary owner

I have followed that story, and that man should not be in jail, period. Get your federal laws off him; this should be a states issue. But let's see what credit Obama gets here:

A federal judge sentenced the owner of a Central California medical marijuana dispensary to a year and a day in prison Thursday, spurning the Obama administration's push to give the defendant five years imprisonment in a test case of new federal policies toward state pot laws. [emphasis again mine]

Oh wait, the Obama administration pushed for a longer sentence. All hail the Obama era!

Obama hasn't done anything to help legalize marijuana or let people off who were clearly in the right under state laws. Rolling Stone needs to stop attributing anything to "the Obama era." And to think that McCain was called McSame during the campaign...

Wouldn't it be awesome if the intrastate commerce clause folks who are working on gun rights in Montana teamed up with the intrastate medicinal marijuana folks in California and turned the 10th Amendment inside out? Guns and weed, teaming up together for Change We Can Believe In!


For the record, I don't smoke pot, have never smoked pot, and am about the biggest anti-pot person you can meet, for the reasons South Park lays out:

Well, Stan, the truth is marijuana probably isn't gonna make you kill people, and it most likely isn't gonna fund terrorism, but...well son, pot makes you feel fine with being bored and it's when you're bored that you should be learning some new skill or discovering some new science or being creative. If you smoke pot you may grow up to find out that you aren't good at anything.

But just because I think it's lame doesn't mean I think it should be illegal.

Posted by: Sarah at 01:23 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 736 words, total size 6 kb.

1 That last line is classic! Perhaps all that is lame should be legal, but anything that endangers the rights of others should be illegal.

The blame-Bush bless-Barack pattern may be a throwback to our caveman days, when government was simpler, when it was just the tribal chief. One guy. Easy to understand. Our institutions have grown faster than our ability to comprehend them. So if we hate the man who personifies the government, everything is his fault. And if we love him, he gets the credit.

This isn't just a problem with perceiving government. Look at how Bill Gates is equated with Microsoft. Or Steve Jobs with Apple.

Why do ads feature celebrities? Why do informercials have hosts, even ones you never heard of? Because we are a social species. We want faces associated with our products, our organizations, everything.

But behind the One Face representing a government or business is a complex network of faceless people behind the scenes. We can't see what's going on, we may not even be able to understand it, so we credit it all to the One Face.

The power-hungry want that face to be theirs. They want to be the focus of a cult of personality. For them, "it's all about meeee!" But it never is.

Posted by: Amritas at June 15, 2009 01:45 AM (b3Ptv)

2 Example of lame and legal: Phil Collins (at least in your opinion, Sarah!).

We're not just a social species. We're a storytelling species. We want life to make sense (and it does - just not in a way we can understand or accept). We attempt to shove it into simplistic narratives with heroes and villains who can save or destroy the world with their actions. Bush and Obama fit the bill for these nonexistent superbeings.

Real life doesn't work like those stories. The spotlight is not perpetually on the protagonist. Key events occur off-camera. They seem to be Black Swans to us only because we focus too much on our favorite central plotlines. We try to fit those twists and turns into our predetermined storylines, but we're only fooling ourselves.

Posted by: Amritas at June 15, 2009 04:59 AM (usSRx)

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