Morning Links

Monday, October 19th, 2009
  • Obama formalizes policy calling the feds off of medical marijuana dispensaries. We’ll see how the policy works in practice, but Obama deserves some credit, here.
  • Jacob Weisberg jingos up, calls Fox News “un-American.”
  • “Calling America’s bluff on Internet gambling.”
  • Seems to me that whatever you think of its politics, this group is trying to prevent violence, not instigate it.
  • Oops.
  • Ayn Rand inspires . . . the fashion world?

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  • 44 Responses to “Morning Links”

    1. #1 |  de stijl | 

      Re: Oops. story

      He also forgot Leviticus 19:18

      Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

    2. #2 |  Michael Chaney | 

      I want to give Obama some credit here, but can’t.

      First, this is, what? month 9 of his Presidency? Like DADT, this requires nothing but a piece of paper that says “the federal government will act legally with regard to state laws, signed, BHO” and it would have been done. Instead, he’s screwed around for this long and given what seems to be a vague guideline.

      Two Justice Department officials described the new policy to The Associated Press, saying prosecutors will be told it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state laws.

      “Not a good use of their time”? Lovely. How about “Constitutionally illegal”?

      We really need to get the federal government back into its boundaries. At this point, I’d settle for an honest conversation about those boundaries.

    3. #3 |  de stijl | 

      Here’s the backstory on the Leviticus tattoo guy.

    4. #4 |  MDGuy | 

      Re: Oath Keeper’s story

      I love how they paint these guys as conspiracy theorists. Nutcases who claim the the federal government was responsible for 9/11 are conspiracy theorists.

      “The Patriot movement, so named because its adherents believe the federal government has stepped on the constitutional ideals of the American Revolution…”

      This is not a conspiracy theory. It is a matter of daily-observable fact. There is an official record, kept by the government itself, of it’s own transgressions against the Constitution.

      Here’s one turd among thousands (millions?) dropped squarely on the 5th amendment:

      United States v. One 1976 Mercedes Benz 280S, 618 F.2d 453, 461 (7th Cir. 1980).

    5. #5 |  Mattocracy | 

      The liberals call Fox News Unamerican. This would be hilarious if the reversal of rhetoric wasn’t so damned scary.

    6. #6 |  Marty | 

      The oathkeeper movement looks interesting to me- is there any connection to LEAP?

    7. #7 |  Boyd Durkin | 

      When I see Obama pardon all the citizens caught up in the Feds’ war against state maryjane legalization, then I will be impressed…that he did his fucking job and upheld the Constitution.

      God damn low bars.

    8. #8 |  Chance | 

      Most soldiers already would lay down their arms rather than fight to support a dictatorship. Of course, my leader/party/group isn’t bringing about dictatorship, yours is. LOL

    9. #9 |  Chance | 

      Caveat: unless that dictatorship is that of an allied country of course. :)

    10. #10 |  Nick T | 

      I don’t agree with the Un-American talk for just about anyone, but I would like to point out the difference in its rhetorical usage in the column Radley linked to.

      Fox is no longer a biased news organization (which really isn’t a bad thing to be at all) it is a propaganda outfit. They organize news events, they spew talking points, they are pretty clearly the publicity wing of the GOP. Propaganda being dressed up as news could be said to be Un-American in some ways, and I think that’s how it’s being used here. (though it’s not clear)

      it’s still not appropriate to make that charge because it cheapens the debate and the author makes almost no case to support how exactly Fox is un-american. But let’s not forget that “Un-American” was a phrase thrown around to imply that people wanted America to fail, or sympathized with terrorist or wanted to murder pupies in front of kids with cancer or whatever. That’s a not unimportant difference.

    11. #11 |  bobzbob | 

      Radley Balko “jingos up”, accuses media critic of of jingoism.

    12. #12 |  Andrew | 

      Change that I’ll believe in once I see it.

    13. #13 |  parse | 

      “We say if the American people decide it’s time for a revolution, we’ll fight with you.”

      I’d say prevention of violence is only part of the Oath Keepers mission

    14. #14 |  Dave Krueger | 

      Concerning the internet gambling legislation and the obvious nature of selling Congressional favors to the highest bidder (of which ordinary citizens are not included)…

      One thing I find particularly telling is the fact that the idea that something should be legal simply on the basis that America is a free country never enters into legislative discussions. Of all the arguments made in opposition to legislation that prohibits some activity, freedom has the least standing.

      Freedom, a concept utterly meaningless in practical terms (at least in the eyes of Congress), has simply become a handy emotional trigger (along with patriotism, the flag, etc) used to motivate naive young adults to go piss their lives away in some foreign country in a fight spawned, not for any legitimate national security interest, but by a war of egos between equally cold self-absorbed heads of state (as all wars are).

      It’s not terrorists who are a threat to our freedom. It’s our government. It might be added that our government has killed one hell of a lot more of us than any terrorists.

    15. #15 |  Mattocracy | 

      I think what hurts Fox News the most is it’s delivery. They come across like professional wrestlers to me, screaming into the camera with outrageous accusations. All news organizations are biased, but Fox is biased wrapped up in a box of Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan.

    16. #16 |  Andrew S. | 

      I’m not going to give Obama any credit on the medical marijuana issue until he can show me that it’s more than just talk. In the early going, albeit before it was a formalized policy, it’s very clear that the stance is nothing but talk.

    17. #17 |  Dave Krueger | 

      #15 Mattocracy

      I think what hurts Fox News the most is it’s delivery. They come across like professional wrestlers to me

      Excellent characterization. It’s like fakers masquerading as the real thing.

      On the other hand, that Weisberg thinks it’s unAmerican for a TV news company to design its programming to appeal to the largest audience shows a mind boggling ignorance of precisely what television has been doing since it was first invented. It would be unAmerican if it didn’t do that.

      That Fox News is so popular says more about the viewing public than it does about about the company or its stars.

    18. #18 |  Zargon | 

      Let’s say John Smith Sr. owns a mansion full of guns, complete with a multi-level dungeon. John Smith Sr. is a bit on the psychopathic side, and runs around the neighborhood harassing, kidnapping, and killing anybody doing “bad things” as defined by John Smith Sr. For their own good, of course. And the children.

      Then John Smith Sr. dies and John Smith Jr. inherits the house. If John Smith Jr. decides not to wage war on his neighbors as John Smith Sr. did, I’d breathe a sigh of relief, but certainly give no credit.

      Similarly, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief (in addition to believing when I see it) if Obama ends this psychopathic practice of ruining the lives of harmless drug users for their own good, even if only in part (which is all even the most optimistic among us can hope for anyway), but I’ll not give him any more credit than I give my next door neighbor for refraining from murdering me with a kitchen knife yesterday.

    19. #19 |  Radley Balko | 


      I have no idea what your comment means. Do you know the definition of “jingoism?”

      Do you have anything to say other than a knee-jerk aversion to any criticism of the left?

    20. #20 |  Michael Chaney | 

      After Dan Rather passing off an obviously faked memo as the real thing right before an election, I find it simply amusing to see the rest of the media (and other people) act like Fox has some monopoly on spin in news. Actually, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not even aware of them doing anything like the faked NG memos.

      And, those faked memos are simply one incident. The recent attribution of false quotes to Rush Limbaugh is yet another.

    21. #21 |  Boyd Durkin | 

      I keep forgetting, what is “American” now? Socialist? Communist? Capitalist? I know that last one is a laugher.

      I need to get Toby Keith on the line pronto. Or, Alec Baldwin. No, wait…I forgot I don’t care about American patriotism because I save my fandom/loyalty for my sports teams.

      In matters of the state, the people would do well to be decidedly UN-patriotic and instead demand a functioning, limited republic.

      Let’s face it, before Fox most Americans had no idea what media bias looked like and called you crazy if you brought it up. There’s your silver lining. That and the hot blondes Fox hires.

    22. #22 |  Dave Krueger | 

      I agree with Zargon. Gratitude is not would I feel for someone who decides to not terrorize me.

      While I am pleased when a politician decides not to support a policy of causing citizens much misery, I know that he is motivated by personal gain. Indeed, I am certain that, should strong support of the drug war enhance his chances of winning an election, he would support it without a second thought.

      In other words, I would be much more impressed if he stood up against a tyrannical policy if he knew it would reduce his chances of winning election. I might also point out that I vote for people who do that regularly.

    23. #23 |  MassHole | 

      RE: Oathkeepers

      The group’s Web site,, features videos and testimonials in which supporters compare President Barack Obama’s America to Adolf Hitler’s Germany. They also liken Obama to England’s King George III during the American Revolution.

      One member, in a videotaped speech at an event in Washington, D.C., calls Obama “the domestic enemy the Constitution is talking about.””

      Assuming the above is true, I don’t see how these guys aren’t stoking the fires of hatred. Once again, these people find their voice once their guy isn’t in charge.

      Any decent person in uniform already knows to refuse an illegal order, regardless of what team the order comes from. They shouldn’t need a membership card to understand that. If not, I hear Xe is hiring.

    24. #24 |  Radley Balko | 

      Actually, I’ve compared the federal government’s abuses today to the abuses of King George as laid out in the Declaration of Independence. And I think the abuses we tolerate today are far worse. Does that mean I’m “stoking the fires of hatred” too?

      Comparing Obama to Hitler is absurd, but couldn’t you say the same thing about the lefties holding the BushHitler posters at anti-war rallies?

      I agree that it’s unfortunate these groups weren’t as vocal during Bush’s presidency, though the OathKeepers guy does acknowledge that it was Bush’s unconstitutional imperial presidency grabs that set the stage for what he objects to now. I’ve said the same thing about the Tea Partiers.

      But that doesn’t qualify either as a “hate group.” Just an activist group prone to hyperbole. Which doesn’t really even make them all that unusual.

    25. #25 |  albatross | 

      ISTM that broadcast news has always been biased in various ways. One difference is that, when there were three networks, they managed to keep a rather similar bias on all three–a sort of consensus view of reality that distorted and excluded a lot of information, but that was at least consistent across the networks. Now, that’s been broken, and probably it won’t ever come back. To some extent, Fox News may have broken it. But I think a bigger thing that broke it is the internet, which makes it almost impossible for a small number of US news sources to decide what will and won’t be covered, and make it stick for almost all Americans.

    26. #26 |  Dave Krueger | 

      I’m not a big fan of waiting until we actually get a Hitler before we react to a government heading toward domination of its citizens’ every decision.

      They say that countries engaged in conflict are often fighting the last war because they haven’t anticipated how the world has changed. The same could be said for citizens. We’re all feeling quite safe in that we don’t have a Hilter in our midst. But the next tyrant to plunge the world into disaster will probably be nothing like Hitler.

      I wouldn’t mind people who invoke accusations of Nazism as part of their scaremongering, if it weren’t for the fact that their proposed alternative is often just a slight variation of of the very thing they’re opposing.

    27. #27 |  MassHole | 


      I think your making something out of nothing here. Where did I defend or even mention Bush/Hitler or call them a “hate group”? I could care less about the King George comparison as it may be apt. Hitler is not.

      You continually make rational, well reasoned points regarding the erosion of our freedoms. That’s why I come here daily and attempt to add to the discussion.

      If your goal is to oppose the “unconstitutional imperial presidency”, then you make your points with facts and examples, not calling this specific POTUS “the domestic enemy the Constitution is talking about” or Hitler 2.0. That hyperbole makes sane people tune them out. It’s their website, they control the content. If they feel Hitler 2.0 doesn’t represent their viewpoint, they shouldn’t have it on their site.

    28. #28 |  Radley Balko | 

      I’m not defending their hyperbole.

      I’m just objecting to the SPLC portraying them as a dangerous hate group.

    29. #29 |  Sam | 

      Would the OathKeepers exist today had McCain have been elected? Of course not. It’s nonsense that “the stage was set by Bush.” They accepted/cheerleaded Bush’s behavior and can’t stand Obama’s. Any other interpretation is utter nonsense.

    30. #30 |  Nick T | 

      Radley, please write a column based on comparing our government to the complaints laid out in the Declaration of independence. Most people don’t know that document is 80% just complaints about that a-hole and think it’s some lofty philosophical manifesto all the way through.

    31. #31 |  Cynical in CA | 

      The Constitution is composed of words, all of which must be interpreted.

      The argument is not about objectivity, but whose version of subjectivity is to prevail.

      America is a colony of the Powers That Be, that much is certain.

      What power individuals retain in America will be determined by how hard those individuals are willing to fight, and die, for it.

    32. #32 |  Dave Krueger | 

      #31 Cynical in CA

      What power individuals retain in America will be determined by how hard those individuals are willing to fight, and die, for it.

      If the population can’t even manage to go to the polls and vote out their incumbent Senator, I don’t hold out much hope that they’re likely to fight and die to take power back from Congress.

      If we establish that government doesn’t work and anarchy doesn’t either, then what do we do?

    33. #33 |  Charlie F | 

      Sam # 29:
      Many of us , including the OathKeepers, don’t view the current situation in the US as a left/right struggle as you insist on doing. McCain would have been a terrible president, as was George W, and would likely be causing just as much damage as Obama is causing right now.
      Strict Republican and Democrat supporters have much in common. They both hate one side, and the other can do no wrong. You play right into their hands, my friend.

    34. #34 |  Brian | 

      “I think what hurts Fox News the most is it’s delivery. They come across like professional wrestlers to me, screaming into the camera with outrageous accusations. All news organizations are biased, but Fox is biased wrapped up in a box of Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan.”

      So you can look at people like Keith Olbermann, Wolf Blitzer, and Chris Matthews, and still think that MSNBC and CNN are somehow not just as bad as Fox?

      They’re all ratings whores.

    35. #35 |  KBCraig | 

      In SPLC’s world view, any belief in actually following the Constitution gets one branded as a racist terrorist hate group.

    36. #36 |  Cynical in CA | 

      “If we establish that government doesn’t work and anarchy doesn’t either, then what do we do?”

      That would be the status quo, Dave. Each individual must decide his/her own course of action. Most will run with the pack, wherever it leads them. The minority will find work-arounds.

      So it is, so has it always been, so shall it ever be.


    37. #37 |  Stormy Dragon | 

      This almost makes me wish I hadn’t cancelled my Newsweek subscription after the “We’re All Socialists Now” cover story a year ago so I could cancel it now.

    38. #38 |  RobZ | 

      The “Rathergate” document was an obvious forgery? Not at all. Most people don’t know squat about typography. Most people don’t know that typewriters that could do proportional fonts were quite expensive in 1972. (And so wouldn’t be very likely to be the property of the National Guard.)

    39. #39 |  Dr. T | 

      “Obama formalizes policy calling the feds off of medical marijuana dispensaries. We’ll see how the policy works in practice, but Obama deserves some credit, here.”

      For what?! He just re-announced the same garbage that Eric Holder announced six months ago. The memo says, if you’re really busy at your local DEA office, we would prefer that you bust sick people and their suppliers of medical marijuana. However, it’s totally up to you, and you can ignore our preference without penalty.

      The snap-reaction to give Obama “some credit” is exactly why he re-announced this lame memo to the DEA. He’s doing nothing while getting credit for liberalizing policy. He is the president. He can flat-out order the DEA to stop all investigations and arrests related to medical marijuana. He chose not to do that. He chose to let the DEA continue investigating and arresting. Obama also chose to do nothing about the DEA harassing, investigating, and arresting physicians treating chronic pain. Obama wants to head a police state, and he will not give up any police powers. The only credit he gets from me is that he hasn’t yet demanded the arrests of supporters of medical marijuana and pain-killing opiates.

    40. #40 |  supercat | 

      The Constitution is composed of words, all of which must be interpreted.

      The argument is not about objectivity, but whose version of subjectivity is to prevail.

      To some slight extent that is true. On the other hand, so-called “Constitutional law” is for the most part based not on trying to judge cases according to what the Constitution actually says, but rather in trying to find ways to pretend the Constitution means things it clearly does not.

      For example, the First Amendment clearly states that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom speech, nor freedom of the press. Under the McCain-Feingold abomination, an individual who wishes to send out more than 500 letters (or pamphlets, or whatever) to people to inform them what one of their politicians is doing must seek government permission; sending out such letters without permission is a felony.

      Any honest person who actually cares about the Constitution would recognize that circulating letters or pamphlets critical of government is certainly one of the activities the First Amendment was deliberately written to protect. One doesn’t need any special reading skills to recognize that the McCain-Feingold abomination is illegitimate. One need only recognize that the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land, and that it means what it says.

    41. #41 |  supercat | 

      //The “Rathergate” document was an obvious forgery? Not at all.//

      The term “obvious” in this context means “obvious to anyone who would be remotely qualified to judge the authenticity of any related materials”. CBS maintained the veracity of the documents even after it could be readily demonstrated that they were 100% false. If a purported Leonardo da Vinci painting were discovered that contained a picture of a Model T Ford, any reasonable person would conclude that one of two things had to be true: (1) Ford based the design of its car off the painting, or (2) the painting produced by someone who based it off the design of a Model T Ford (or other similar car). Either the default settings and behaviors of Word were modeled after some really obscure memos-to-file, or the memos were derived from the default settings and behaviors of Word. The former notion is sufficiently preposterous that only the latter one makes any sense.

    42. #42 |  Rick H. | 

      To elaborate on what Dr. T said, here’s the money shot from the “new” marijuana policy:

      …this memorandum does not alter in any way the Department’s authority to enforce federal law, including laws prohibiting the manufacture, production, distribution, possession, or use of marijuana on federal property. This guidance regarding resource allocation does not “legalize” marijuana or provide a legal defense to a violation of federal law, nor is it intended to create any privileges, benefits, or rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable by any individual, party or witness in any administrative, civil, or criminal matter. Nor does clear and unambiguous compliance with state law or the absence of one or all of the above factors create a legal defense to a violation of the Controlled Substances Act.

    43. #43 |  Dave Krueger | 

      I tend to be kind of an all-or-nothing guy. To me, the drug war is wrong and failure to end it is as bad, if not worse, than continuing with our apparent mission to eventually fight a war with every nation on the planet.

      But, this seems to be the first relaxation of drug laws since Nixon, so I’m willing to see it in a positive light. So many government employees are dependent on the drug war for their income that even hinting at the possibility of legalizing some drugs would stir up a huge shit storm. And let’s keep in mind that the bulk of those employees are almost of the same moral caliber as mafia goons. (Note, I said “almost”. Lord knows I don’t want to insult any mafia goons.)

    44. #44 |  RobZ | 

      CBS found themselves in just the sort of situation where people usually attempt to deny error even when it appears obvious to others.
      Before the document was questioned, they believed they had very good reasons to believe the document was genuine. Accepting error meant that they had to publicly accept that they’d been sloppy. How often have you seen people admit that they should be fired when they still have a few reeds to cling to?

      And there were reeds aplenty. CBS thought they’d already nailed the story of Bush not having completed his National Guard commitment, before they got the document. The content of the forgery was consistent with the things CBS had already learned. The quality of the forgery was adequate enough to fool the “expert” typographer hired by CBS and then CBS called the White House for comment before the show, the White House didn’t deny anything. Typewriters with proportional fonts were available, if expensive, in 1972.

      Not properly vetting their expert or questioning the provenance of the document? Professional malpractice. Not admitting a career threatening error quickly? Seems to me like that’s merely evidence that they are human.

      In any event, CBS didn’t do it on purpose. If they had, they’d never would have been found out.