Sunday, February 17, 2013

Race And More

A year ago, the Village Voice's Tim Dickinson found 

the Obama administration has quietly unleashed a multi­agency crackdown on medical cannabis that goes far beyond anything undertaken by George W. Bush. The feds are busting growers who operate in full compliance with state laws, vowing to seize the property of anyone who dares to even rent to legal pot dispensaries, and threatening to imprison state employees responsible for regulating medical marijuana.

With more than 100 raids on pot dispensaries during his first three years, Obama is now on pace to exceed Bush's record for medical-marijuana busts. "There's no question that Obama's the worst president on medical marijuana," says Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. "He's gone from first to worst."

In late October, Mother Jones' Alan Serwer reported Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced it "has reached a new record number of deportations for Fiscal Year 2011: 396,906 removals of unauthorized immigrants."   Although Director John Morton implied that most individuals deported were egregious violators, only 87,547 of the 215,698 were sent away for homicide, sexual offenses, drunk driving, or "drug-related crimes."

And last Friday, Mother Jones' Gavin Aronsen pointed out

Despite the amped-up claims that President Obama is just waiting to crack down on gun owners, a new report reveals that his administration has been pursuing significantly fewer gun crimes than the predeceeding one. Under Obama, federal weapons prosecutionshave declined to their lowest levels nearly a decade, according to a new report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research group associated with Syracuse University.

After 9/11, the Bush administration's firearms prosecutions shot up, peaking at about 11,000 cases in 2004. In 2012, the feds prosecuted fewer than 8,000 gun cases.

And then there is the expansion of the national security state at the expense of civil liberties and the continual coddling of the big banks.

Observing the federal government's assault on medical marijuana, eagerness to deport illegal immigrants, and its disinterest in prosecution of firearms cases, Digby remarks

The Latino community voted for Democrats because they are better on their issues than the Republicans and not one right winger voted for the Democrats because they deported more undocumented workers. Maybe they thought they could appease the gun lobby by prosecuting fewer gun crimes. (I don't think that's worked out.)  Maybe they thought that people think marijuana is a threat to the nation and they had to step in. But the votes in states across the land show that just isn't true.  (Arkansas --- Arkansas! --- came within four points of legalizing medical marijuana in 2012.)

She could have added: not one right winger voted for the Democrats because the Administration is raiding more marijuana dispensaries than did the previous administration, nor because they've gone easy on prosecution of individuals for violating firearm laws. And among the reasons precious few conservatives crossed over to vote for Barack Obama is because they find they find the idea of Barack Hussein Obama, a black community organizer from Chicago, as a moderate (let alone conservative) literally incredible.  But for roughly the same reason, few left-wingers voted for the Republicans despite President Obama's pursuit of policies intended to wash away any notion he is a Democrat.

The symbolic significance attached to Obama's election and re-election accounts for a significant portion of the hardening of attitudes toward the President among both conservatives and liberals.  Moni Basu on November 8 gushed

A black man is returning to the White House.

Four years ago, it was a first, the breaking of a racial barrier. Tuesday night, it was history redux. And more.

In the midst of national splintering and a time of deep ideological animosity, Americans elected President Barack Obama to a second term. And thousands rejoiced in his victory, one that seemed sweeter and, perhaps, more significant.

That was restrained compared to the normally august New York Times, which four years earlier had gushed

Barack Hussein Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday, sweeping away the last racial barrier in American politics with ease as the country chose him as its first black chief executive.

The election of Mr. Obama amounted to a national catharsis — a repudiation of a historically unpopular Republican president and his economic and foreign policies, and an embrace of Mr. Obama’s call for a change in the direction and the tone of the country.

But it was just as much a strikingly symbolic moment in the evolution of the nation’s fraught racial history, a breakthrough that would have seemed unthinkable just two years ago.

The legendary and occasionally humorous comedienne Joan Rivers would characteristically ask: can we talk?  If we can, we would acknowledge that many conservatives react to Obama in the same way as do many liberals- as a black man, a constitutional lawyer who has not only traveled, but actually lived, abroad.   Even now, you and I are hoping that, contrary to the record of the past four years, there is an inner progressive lurking in the body of the 51-year-old from Chicago by way of Hawaii.  Some even believe there is.

Digby, ever-clear eyed about the President, recognizes "the one group of people one would expect to reward the president for these stances --- the right wing --- is the one group that hates him with a blinding passion and will never even give him credit for waking up in the morning." But if we are to heed Joan Rivers' signature greeting, we need admit that the right does not have a monopoly on a knee-jerk, unyielding response to a centrist President.

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