by founder and publisher Jann S. Wenner with President Obama Wednesday. Below are two excerpts, the first on marijuana raids and the second on climate change.
After having avoided even invoking the term "climate change" in his 2012 State of the Union address, in two recent energy-related speeches on campuses in Tampa, Fla., and Nasha, N.H., and in his Earth Day proclamation, Obama makes the first mention of climate change unprompted and then responds to a later question, saying it will become an issue in the campaign, "and I will be very clear in voicing my belief that we're going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way":
Let me ask you about the War on Drugs. You vowed in 2008, when you were running for election, that you would not "use Justice Department resources to try and circumvent state laws about medical marijuana." Yet we just ran a story that shows your administration is launching more raids on medical pot than the Bush administration did. What's up with that?
Here's what's up: What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana. I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana – and the reason is, because it's against federal law. I can't nullify congressional law. I can't ask the Justice Department to say, "Ignore completely a federal law that's on the books." What I can say is, "Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage." As a consequence, there haven't been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes.
The only tension that's come up—and this gets hyped up a lot—is a murky area where you have large-scale, commercial operations that may supply medical marijuana users, but in some cases may also be supplying recreational users. In that situation, we put the Justice Department in a very difficult place if we're telling them, "This is supposed to be against the law, but we want you to turn the other way." That's not something we're going to do. I do think it's important and useful to have a broader debate about our drug laws. One of the things we've done over the past three years was to make a sensible change when it came to the disparity in sentencing between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. We've had a discussion about how to focus on treatment, taking a public-health approach to drugs and lessening the overwhelming emphasis on criminal laws as a tool to deal with this issue. I think that's an appropriate debate that we should have. [...]
James Hansen, NASA's leading climate scientist, has said this about the Keystone pipeline: that if the pipeline goes through and we burn tar sands in Canada, it's "game over" for the planet. What's your reaction to that statement?
James Hansen is a scientist who has done an enormous amount not only to understand climate change, but also to help publicize the issue. I have the utmost respect for scientists. But it's important to understand that Canada is going to be moving forward with tar sands, regardless of what we do. That's their national policy, they're pursuing it. With respect to Keystone, my goal has been to have an honest process, and I have adamantly objected to Congress trying to circumvent a process that was well-established not just under Democratic administrations, but also under Republican administrations.
The reason that Keystone got so much attention is not because that particular pipeline is a make-or-break issue for climate change, but because those who have looked at the science of climate change are scared and concerned about a general lack of sufficient movement to deal with the problem. Frankly, I'm deeply concerned that internationally, we have not made as much progress as we need to make. Within the constraints of this Congress, we've tried to do a whole range of things, administratively, that are making a difference—doubling fuel-efficiency standards on cars is going to take a whole lot of carbon out of our atmosphere. We're going to continue to push on energy efficiency, and renewable energy standards, and the promotion of green energy. But there is no doubt that we have a lot more work to do.
Part of the challenge over these past three years has been that people's number-one priority is finding a job and paying the mortgage and dealing with high gas prices. In that environment, it's been easy for the other side to pour millions of dollars into a campaign to debunk climate-change science. I suspect that over the next six months, this is going to be a debate that will become part of the campaign, and I will be very clear in voicing my belief that we're going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way. That there's a way to do it that is entirely compatible with strong economic growth and job creation – that taking steps, for example, to retrofit buildings all across America with existing technologies will reduce our power usage by 15 or 20 percent. That's an achievable goal, and we should be getting started now.
an achievable goal. And it's one that could go a long way toward dealing with the nation's miserable deficit in construction jobs. It's far from the only thing that must be done regarding climate change, but it's a positive step. The retrofitting, along with implementing stricter energy-efficiency standards for new structures, would require significant public investment. But the return on that investment both in terms of reduced carbon emissions and reduced energy-costs would be well worth it. If only we could elect a Congress with the brains and political willingness to make it happen.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2003:
The anti-war movement made two key points in the leadup to GW II: 1) the Bush Administration was overstating the case against Saddam, and 2) by doing so, it was putting our troops and civilians in harms way.
Iraq fought back harder than many expected, but luckily for everyone its regulars laid down arms before a truly bloody confrontation in Baghdad. Still, we suffered 600 dead and wounded, and thousands of Iraqi soldiers and innocent civilians lost their lives in the war. Thus, #2 came to pass. Thousands died.
So it's important to see whether their lives were given in vain, or whether their ultimate sacrifice was indeed in pursuit of our national security.
So it's with genuine horror that it's clear that we naysayers were right. Administration officials are now admitting they overstated the threa[t] of Iraqi WMDs, and invaded Iraq simply to "make a point."
Tweet of the Day:
I think Chuck Grassley's Twitter feed may be run by Russian agents.
— @jeremyscahill via web
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