Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Obama’s evasiveness

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David Sirota points out the dismaying nonresponse from the White House in response to their own petition mechanism and promises. Obama continues to disappoint. Sirota writes in Salon:

Nearly two months ago, after my fellow Coloradans voted to legalize marijuana in our state, I filed a simple White House petition that garnered headlines and enough signatures to mandate an official substantive response from the president’s staff. The request in the petition, which you can read here, was not that the president support a new federal law imposing pot legalization on all states. Instead, I and eventually 46,000 other people asked the president to merely support new bipartisan congressional legislation to change federal law so that it formally permits states — if they choose — to end the war on pot within their borders.

Late last night, the White House finally decided to respond by deploying its drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, to make some serious news. The same drug czar who once declared that “legalization is not in my vocabulary nor is it in the president’s vocabulary” now concedes that America is “in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana.”

For those pushing to end the Drug War, that declaration alone from a spokesman for the president of the United States is nothing short of historic — and it represents the success of major political pressure. Indeed, as Tom Angell, chairman of the advocacy group Marijuana Majority, said in response to the White House’s announcement: “It makes a difference when marijuana legalization gets more votes than your boss does in an important swing state.”

However, even as that “serious national conversation” intensifies, there is bad news about where the president seems to be positioning himself in the discussion. That’s because of what Kerlikowske had to say — or not say — about the specific question in the petition.

Rather than answer the petition’s request that President Obama support the congressional legislation at hand, Kerlikowske only said “the Justice Department is reviewing the legalization initiatives passed in Colorado and Washington.” He then points concerned citizens to the president’s previous interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters in which Obama said he does not support legalization of marijuana. But, tellingly, that interview never addresses whether the president supports legislation to give states, and not the federal government, explicit authority to legalize it on their own within their own state borders.

This part of the White House response to the petition can be interpreted in one of two ways — each not encouraging. Either it is a wholesale refusal to respond to citizens’ request or, arguably worse, it is an outright rejection of the petition’s central request.

If you see the response as a non-response — as a refusal to actually deal with the specific issue at hand — then first and foremost, we are witnessing the administration make a total mockery out of the very petition system that the Obama White House cites as proof of its supposed populist appeal and grassroots cred. If this is what’s going on, it would be difficult to overstate the arrogance inherent in setting high thresholds for voters to merely get a response from their government, and for that same government to then ignore those voters when they happen to exceed that threshold. Basically, this would be Washington’s latest way of proudly — almost cheerily — giving Americans the big middle finger, expecting us to somehow not notice that we just got flipped off.

Just as important, though, is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2013 at 10:41 am

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