Currently viewing the tag: "obama"
  • ob2Obama (via the CIA?) to send ‘small arms, ammo’ to Syria. Guess that “red line” counts after all? Or is it a super distraction from the various scandals plaguing the White House? Not saying they wouldn’t have done it anyway, just saying now seems like a terrific time for a distraction.
  • Edward Snowden seems to not have had security clearance access to the files he snagged; he also used a USB drive, which is a big NSA no-no. That’s some safe-sounding data, y’all.
  • Obama ’80 percent worse than Bush on medical marijuana’
  • More on that bullshit from LA Weekly
  • Somebody tell Bill Maher and Rolling Stone, okay?
  • Fascinating Telegraph UK piece on what happens when you disown conspiracy theories and Trutherism [h/t: Austin Petersen]
  • And for more on paranoia and conspiracies, check out Reason’s Jesse Walker being interviewed by VICE’s Harry Cheadle. These two awesome writers discuss Walker’s forthcoming United States of Paranoia, which I have been looking forward to for like two years.
  • Oathkeepers founder Steward Rhodes supports Edward Snowden
  • But libertarian 101 staple John Stossel writes a baffling piece on how we have bigger things to worry over than NSA spying.
  • And Cato’s Roger Pilon and Richad A. Epstein wrote an appalling editorial that waves away the spying while managing to ipply that everything about USA PATRIOT was open and above board.
  • But thankfully there’s Red Eye‘s true-Scotsman Andy Levy, who gave a great response to David Brooks’ “oh noes, cynicism! Wah!” column on Snowden. Watch.

Today’s video:

The great North Carolina fiddler Tommy Jarrell playing my favorite murder balled of the moment, “Poor Ellen Smith.” Rumor has it that Jarrell learned the song from his father, who in turn learned it from the killer of Ellen Smith himself. I hope that’s a true story, I don’t care if it isn’t.

potThe latest Rolling Stone is “The Weed issue,” a celebration of how the war on drugs was won by…weed, I guess. I haven’t yet explored the full magazine, however, because I was too distracted by Bill Maher’s contribution, headlined inside as “The New Stoned America.” Within his allotted page, Maher blames the drug war — without delving into the human rights debacle that remains an integral part of it — on Republicans, period:

Legalization is another one of those issues, like gay marriage, that drives the Tea Bag people crazy. That Leave It to Beaver black-and-white 1950s image that Mitt Romney fit into so well is going away, and one big reason is marijuana. Bill Clinton once said, “If you look back on the Sixties and think there was more good than harm, you’re probably a Democrat. If you think there was more harm than good, you’re probably a Republican.” Well, for those people who loved the Fifties, pot played a huge role in the cultural revolution that they detest.

Republicans have always been an uneasy alliance of Jesus freaks, gun nuts, generic obese suburbanites and the super-rich, but what binds them is this idea that life was perfect in Appleton, Wisconsin, in 1958. As soon as President Obama was elected, this visual of a black guy who liked smoking pot walking into the White House was too much. Whenever you hear them say, “I want my country back” – from what? Did Blackmanistan invade us? They may want it back, but that America is gone forever.

The Mitt Romney-style clueless white guy-ism of much of the GOP is real, and it’s both an easy and a legitimate target of scorn for political critique. But Maher’s complete side-step of the culpability of our current, black guy, Democrat president in the not-yet-over-in-the-slightest drug war is astoundingly purposeful bullshit — even from a man with a long history of partisan hackery. Maher did donate 1 million dollars to Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. He also managed to admit that the president has been “a liar” on marijuana policy, during an an interview last August.”

Can we at least have that Maher in Rolling Stone?

Apparently it needs to be said again: to people pleading Republican obstructionism, there are lots of things Obama could do to alleviate the misery of the drug war. He hasn’t done them, and has even lied about his ability to do so. Any and all shifts on drug policy have been purely rhetorical.

For example, in Michigan, where medical marijuana is legal:

American taxpayers could spend upwards of $1.2 million over the next decade imprisoning Jerry Duval, a Michigan medical marijuana patient who was convicted of distributing the drug.Duval has a kidney and pancreas transplant, as well as glaucoma and neuropathy. His family grew marijuana on his Michigan farm in part to treat his ailments. But when the Department of Justice prosecuted him in federal court, Duval was barred from presenting evidence of his compliance with Michigan’s medical marijuana law. He will report to prison on June 11.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons initially told Duval he would have to serve out his 10-year sentence in a prison that lacked specialized medical facilities but then relented after an outcry from marijuana reform advocates. He will now serve his time at the Federal Medical Center in Devens, Mass. — the same facility where Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is being held because of injuries he sustained during his apprehension.

Duval has written a letter to President Obama — the man whose Department of Justice per sued and prosecuted the case against him — in which he questions the harshness of his decade-long sentence. Why, asks Duval, is his life being ruined when Obama once suggested that he was willing to talk about marijuana reform (and certainly enjoyed the stuff in his younger days — which must be why Republicans hate him so much!)?

Maher is free to support the president with as many millions of his own money as he chooses. He may write what he likes in any magazine, now matter how dishonest, lazy, or partisan the resulting article. Hell, Maher is right about, and right to be overjoyed over, the inevitability of pot freedom (as in, it will happen in the future), but that doesn’t excuse his willful ignorance of Obama’s part in the current debacle. Maher doesn’t even appear to understand that there’s a Democrat making executive decisions right now. Why bother facing your side’s bad decisions, when you can keep trashing the uncool, other party instead?

Odds are Duval and the hundreds of thousands of people imprisoned for drug crimes will not be celebrating pot freedom along with Maher and Rolling Stone. At least not yet.

Should we blame Rolling Stone itself  for this bullshit piece? The elder statesman of rock magazines has a long history of  being good on the drug war. But maybe their more recent history of soft-ball interviews with the President and Vice President is coloring their celebration of this mythical drug war ceasefire. The rest of the issue’s pot coverage looks more informative and accurate, but that doesn’t mean the magazine’s choice of Maher to write up “How We Won the War on Pot” (the cover headline) isn’t baffling. We won the war, swears Maher, yet he doesn’t mention a single casualty of that ongoing conflict. We won the war, Maher? Not yet we didn’t. But when we do, it will be no thanks to you, your million bucks, or your president.

Yesterday’s piece, in which I speculate, probably too soon, over whether Snowden is more sympathetic to certain folks than was Manning.

Today Edward Snowden, a former computer analyst for the CIA recently employed at the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, voluntarily revealed his identity as the source of The Guardian and The Washington Post‘s massive scoops about the NSA’s PRISM program, as well as its system of logging the metadata from every single call made from Verizon phones (and Sprint and AT&T, turns out).

Snowden fled to Hong Kong on May 30, and was interviewed there on June 6 by Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald. In the interview he is amazingly well-spoken about the principles surrounding his decision to leak top-secret documents.Until late last month, the 29-year-old seems to have had a comfy life in Hawaii with a girlfriend and a $200,000 a year job with Booz Allen. But the reported Ron Paul supporter who voted for “a third party candidate” in 2008, wasn’t interested in keeping that level of coziness while possessing information that he believed the public has a right to know.

“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under,” Snowden told Greenwald.

Snowden also seems eerily resigned to the likely consequences of his actions — namely that he may never see his home country again, and that government officials may come for him at any time.

The rest over at Antiwar.

  • eagle_circle_bigThe Washington Post‘s exclusive story on PRISM, the NSA/FBI program that allows those agencies to tap into the servers of nine of the biggest internet companies in the U.S., including Microsoft, Google, and Facebook. (Not Twitter, it seems!) The awkward NSA powerpoint leaked to WaPost can be found here.
  • Gleen Greenwald’s Guardian exclusive on how Verizon is forced to hand over its customers metadata — meaning which numbers call which numbers, for how long, and the location of the nearest cell tower. Here’s the official leaked document.
  • It’s not just Verizon, it’s also AT&T and Sprint.
  • Greenwald going on MSNBC, being a sexy patriot and telling the government to come at him, bro.
  • The New York Times had an amazing, withering editorial that used to say that the Obama “administration has lost all credibility.”
  • And then they wussed out, notes Gawker.
  • Amazing detail from the previously more-awesome editorial: Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, the author of the PATRIOT Act, is worried about the NSA. His laughable and infuriating statement can be found here.
  • Radley Balko is even a better poet than I am!
  • Ann Coulter has no principles.
  • Reminder that Thomas Drake was another (former) NSA employee who leaked information. Even the people in the scariest agencies sometimes realize that something is awry. This is a strange concept for a libertarian to comprehend.
  • In other weirdly positive government news, Sens. Mark Udall and Ron Wyden tried to tell us something was amiss. I suppose they’re inherently sell-outs for taking that job, but at least they’re pushing back.
  • On the other hand, Udall still can’t confirm anything that was leaked in the last few days.
  • Jerry Tuccille muses on the madness of internal immigration checkpoints. I still don’t understand why they’ve been upheld by the Supreme Court.
  • Man Tazered by police while he struggled to save his son from a burning house. The baby died.
  • Michael Tracey on Alex Jones, Bilderberg, and the GOP welcoming the crazies.

At this point, it’s pretty clear that Jezebel exists to make Gawker look thoughtful, radical, and  passionate. Gawker slants tediously leftist, as do all of its writers (to my knowledge). But Hamilton Nolan, Max Read, and a few others have written quality, serious pieces on cops, the drug war, and war — many of which contain nothing in them that would alienate a libertarian.

Now, compare and contrast  a few Gawker posts with this latest Jezebel piece on the president, entitled “Check Out Obama’s Adorable Prom Pic.” It begins: “After last week’s hellish scandal week, President Barack Obama could use a little PR break.”

It continues:

What’s this? Photos of a young Barry at his prom have unearthed and Michelle was not his date? Is that infidelity? Does this mean impeachment? IS HE WEARING MARIJUANA AROUND HIS NECK? Nope, this photo is just sweet and innocent.

Oh Mr. President, look how happy you were at such a simple time when the greatest concern that could possibly bother you was the size of your fro, the breasts on your date and the awkwardness of the slow dance.

One of Barry’s high school friends, Kelli Allman (second to the left) just shared this gem from senior prom with Time, and it’s beyond adorable. It features Barry’s BFF, Greg Orme (the other dude in the photo) and Barry’s date that night, Megan Hughes. Apparently the double date duo sipped on some champagne before prom, did a Socialist ritual at prom (I kid, I kid) and attended an after-party like any other high school kids.

Allman also shared a photo of her yearbook, which has an even sweeter note from the future President. If you want to get the full experience, just let your eyes wonder at this picture. But if Barry’s handwriting is too handsome for you to handle, here’s what he says:

It continues, but I don’t care to.

Jesus Christ, editors; swoon over Ryan Gosling, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt, or any of the other currently-dreamy men who have made no choices that lead to the deaths of Pakistani children. This continuing obsession with the attractiveness of the president is completely appalling. It’s worse than the lowest type of gossip site, it’s worse than completely ignoring politics or serious issues, in the manner of Cosmopolitan. Yes, Jezebel is actually more embarrassing for women than Cosmo. It’s official. As a lady writer, I declare it so. Better to not talk about politics than to degrade good, old fashioned fawning in this manner. Teen idols don’t deserve to be grouped in with Barack Obama. The Jonas Brothers do not have predator drones. David Cassidy didn’t spy on the AP. Leif Garrett didn’t permit the DOJ to shut down medical marijuana clinics.

Jezebel is free to hire only leftist writers. They don’t even need to think about how all women are being portrayed when they write for a women’s blog — that’s too much to ask of anyone. They’re a subset of a subset, a moderate-left-blog for women’s interests. But it’s still troubling when there are multiple blogs on one platform, and it’s the women’s one with the most empty-headed, brood-hen bullshit. Just stop writing about politics entirely if you side-step their deadly seriousness.

And if you really support the president, explain why. Don’t write snotty posts with dog-whistles to the most inane, right-wing strawmen critiques so you can all have a hearty laugh about how wacky are those Republicans. Be honest and say the drug war, the wars, the spying is all worth it to you. Politics is awful, but Obama has the power of life and death, or freedom and imprisonment, over millions of people. That is fucking serious, do not write about it as if you were a 12-year-old.

With such posts — and such timing! —  you’re embarrassing the rest of the women, and the rest of the teen idols. Obama might have been a nice guy in private life, but he lost the privilege of being a morally neutral figure the moment he was elected, and he sure as hell lost the ability to be a sex symbol.