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[Cross-posted at The Left Coaster.]

One of the most dismaying and destructive media tactics carried over from the Bush administration is the anonymous media leak and launching of a “trial balloon,” floating an issue in the media by hidden officials with a certain policy posture. The tactic is not to softly begin some policy stance, but rather to watch what happens to the balloon as it cruises up through the policy skies of America.  It’s not uncommon for a stupid or provocative balloon to bring forth a fusillade of flak from an outraged constituent group and the policy idea never mentioned again, man that baby got shot down fast, it’s said with satisfaction.

Any time a public official (plainly not a whistleblower) anonymously talks to a journalist as a source something manipulative and dishonest is going on. Journalists who collude in the practice make a mockery of the press opposition principle, instead of helping the little people discern the truth they’re actively hiding it for various reasons.  It’s a disgusting practice many hoped would end in 2008, but the centrist Obama administration is positively addicted to it, despite howls of disgust from media watchdog sites and policy advocacy groups they just keep doing it, dickless journalism ombudsman queasily saying it shouldn’t happen as it keeps going on and on.

It happened again just last Thursday, the 6th, when Charlie Savage of the New York Times blew huge clouds of cannabis smoke into a fairly subtle trial balloon, but unmistakable nonetheless.

People familiar with the deliberations….some law enforcement officials…Not one public official is on the record with this alleged “story,” they’re not authorized to talk about it but they do anyway as that weasel Savage pumps up the balloon.  The administration is floating the classically hard line Republican authoritarian response to cannabis legalization in Washington and Colorado, that truth  is revealed in the 7th paragraph.

“…declined to comment on the deliberations, but pointed to a statement by the Justice Department….” Excuse me, Mr. Savage, but how does an administration “point” while saying nothing?  You are the point, Mr. Savage, a servile bird dog to manipulative public servants who can’t even be basely honest to say who they are.  Jesus has this gotten old.

That point goes straight to a classically boot-heel quote from a Justice Department lawyer in Seattle declaring cannabis a Schedule I drug.  This is a hugely provocative issue in the cannabis legalization community and one of the most stupid and tragic elements of our disastrous drug war.  It’s as if a lawyer went on the record stating the Washington Monument is constructed of Tillamook cheddar cheese, goddamnit it looks like stone and has stood for 150 years but hey, it’s made of cheese because I say so.  It makes a mockery of Federal law and provokes manifest disgust and distrust of government but authoritarians could care less.

The entire rest of the “story” is what some “interagency task force” (just where did this “force” come from and who is it made of, Mr. Savage? It just magically appears in the 10th paragraph, you’re getting sloppy, dude) has as its sickening options in putting the cannabis legalization down by whatever means necessary.

John Cole of Balloon Juice gave an excellent rational response to that possible outrage, and he’s a strong Obama supporter.  But another problem with trial balloons is that the public officials watching the reaction may not be watching John and the legalization side at all, what they’re worried about is the authoritarians on the other side.  If there are no bloodthirsty calls from conservatives groups to oh yeah, stomp on those dirty fucking hippie pot smokers, it may be they’ll decide to come down on the legalization side of cannabis, since the authoritarians were so muted.

An honest Justice Department offical could have publicly stated all this and took no questions, of course, but that would make them stupid authoritarians and they’re not ready to wear that jacket just yet, so a New York Times trial balloon is what we get instead.  My Sharona.

In all this reeking mess I would add that a repressive authoritarian response to cannabis legalization makes a mockery of the law not only in rationality but it principle, how is it possible to prosecute stoners while Wall Street crooks walk free?  Legalization draws howls of “selective law enforcement,” but the pernicious ship of selectivity sailed forth from the Obama Justice Department long ago.

The little people aren’t stupid, Attorney General Holder.  I respectfully request that these childish little games with your cholos at the New York Times immediately cease and that we get an honest resolution of this issue based upon little people principles as soon as possible.  Merry Christmas.

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