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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/30/09

Breaking Taboos in the U.S. Establishment

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John Kusumi
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They're hosed -- the commentariat, the punditburo, the establishmentarians in the U.S. Congress and White House. All the king's horses and all the king's men.

The marijuana legalization issue is a good example of what happens when the establishment rusts shut. Now, they are like Rip Van Winkle, waking up to an America that they do not know.

And, Barack Obama is showing us the hypocrisy of a President who waffles and punts on too many issues and opportunities. Why punt on first down? Does this mean "change we can believe in"?A lot of my fellow Americans are noticing that for all the talk of change, remarkably little of it has been ushered in by the Obama administration.

At some point in American history, there were "anti-pot geezers" (my thanks to Jeremy Mayer for circulating that phrase) who put into place the federal war on drugs. That war has disrupted more lives than all of the pot smoked in America ever since then. The war on drugs is an ugly farce on the part of misguided authorities, who create victimless "crimes" and target vulnerable and disadvantaged population segments. The result is to criminalize a population segment, and to create a permanent underclass that is ever behind the establishment's eight ball.

To criminalize a (permanent) population segment should be unconstitutional. In other examples, I would oppose criminalizing abortion. There will always be with us a certain segment of the population, namely women who have had abortions. They should not be treated as crooks and thrown into the slammer. (Perhaps I can qualify and say that I oppose late term and partial birth abortions. But even then, the penalties should be civil rather than criminal, and should apply to the medical practitioners who abort late term pregnancies -- not to women who undergo the procedure.)

On the matter of pot, Barack Obama has been an acrobatic politician, appearing on both sides of the issue.

As seen in a YouTube video, in 2004, Obama said--

"In terms of legalization of drugs, I think that the battle -- the war on drugs has been an utter failure, and I think that we need to re-think and decriminalize our marijuana laws, but I'm not somebody who believes in legalization of marijuana, what I do believe is that we need to rethink how we are operating in the drug wars and I think that currently, we are not doing a good job."

Listeners might infer that he would change marijuana from a criminal to a civil infraction.

The only problem is that he hasn't done that. It seems that in 2004, Obama was red-blooded, and in 2009, Obama is blue-blooded. Politically, he can do (and has done) shape shifting without breaking a sweat or interrupting his smile. In an earlier article, I dubbed him "The President of Bait and Switch." First he promises change, and then he delivers continuity. And, this is blatant hypocrisy.

But, two more things are true. First, the country has changed, even while federal policies have not. Writing at Politico.com, Jeremy D. Mayer tells us,

"The tide of public opinion is slowly moving towards decriminalization. As polling expert Nate Silver recently pointed out, only 10% supported legalization in 1969, while at least 40% do so today. The younger you are, the more likely you are to have tried marijuana, and to support its legalization. NORML doesn't have to persuade anyone to win; if they just wait for the anti-pot geezers to die, most Americans will favor legalization within a decade."

As we can see in the recent attention to this issue, America has indeed changed, and most people are now inclined to listen and to have a serious debate on this issue. In the old days, politicians felt more peer pressure to go with the (federal) flow. The topic was treated as a political hot potato, with scorn and derision for whomever brought up the matter. But, the country today is not going to ostracize those who take a reasoned position in favor of legalization. (And because governments like tax revenue, pot may in fact be legalized sooner rather than later, or so I speculate.) However, Barack Obama the unimaginative climber actually failed to notice these political currents. Evidently fearful that he cannot keep his 2004 position, or perhaps fearing ostracization from political pundits, he dropped the potato. As I asked above, "Why punt on first down? Does this mean 'change we can believe in'?"In his recent Q&A session at the White House, Obama said: "The answer is, no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy," and his spokesman Robert Gibbs later clarified, "The president opposes the legalization of marijuana...he does not think that's the right plan for America."If Obama is such an easy flip-flopper, he would be well advised to flip-flop back again, to his earlier position. Meanwhile, there are some dorky political writers who themselves remain fearful of giving considered treatment to hot potatoes. The world still includes its geezers of political correctness, and we're waiting for them to die off, too. The long term trends of history do not favor geezers.In fact, the second additional point is that the country increasingly sees through the affectations of the blue bloods, and the flip flops and the posturing for election purposes, and the President of Bait and Switch. To understand just how transparent Obama is -- and just how he has left himself vulnerable to exposure and open to attack -- simply take in the new documentary, The Obama Deception, by Alex Jones. The blue-blooded establishment may ignore it, but the red-blooded streets of America are quickly turning that film into a classic. As exposure for hypocrisy, Jones' DVD certainly does take Obama down by at least a notch. So, to recap, political currents have been changing on marijuana, at the same time that Barack Obama has been blatantly flip flopping on this and other issues. And, there is a new movie to expose the hypocrisy. That the world has changed is even more starkly evident as we consider the rise of the internet and the fall of the print newspapers. There has been an "information explosion," an "information revolution," and now we have an information environment that makes it easy to break taboos, and hard to hide the truth. Politically, the planet Earth has a chance to overtake the planet Gergen! The commentariat? The punditburo? The Congress? The White House? They are geezers, geezers, geezers, and a flip flopper, respectively. U.S. politics remains an ugly circus, but nowadays it is fully exposed, and we can all see the rank hypocrisy of the sociopaths as they loot the taxpayers and plunder the less privileged classes.

What to say? "Tsk, tsk. Bad politcos!" I am not convinced of anything but their hypocrisy.

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The author was once the 18-year-old candidate for U.S. President ('84) and later the founder of the China Support Network, post-Tiananmen Square.
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