Politics is first of all about lying, followed by deceit, then corruption, with the public good seldom coming in better than fourth in the list of politicians' priorities.
Two seemingly unconnected events happened this week. The Obama administration (but not Obama himself) announced it would issue instructions to federal officers and prosecutors that set new priorities for the federal enforcement of marijuana laws. This is largely the result of 21 states (if you include the city of D.C.) having legalized medical marijuana, with two, Washington State and Colorado having also legalized recreational marijuana.
It took Barack Obama only six years to figure this out. The preponderance of voters are now for marijuana legalization, and the Democratic Party has been taking a lot of heat on the issue for years. The new priorities for busting people are: when the weed crosses state lines; when it is sold or given to minors; when the proceeds are used to fund other criminal enterprises; when the entrepreneurs have not made donations to the Democratic Party. In theory at least medical marijuana gets a pass in the states where it has been legalized, as does recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington State.
Then there is Syria. Some group of people there (the lone gunman theory not being bought by anyone in this case) used some type of nerve gas agent on a sufficient scale to kill hundreds of people, who are usually described as civilians. It is generally agreed this happened to a neighborhood of Damascus that is pro-Rebel and anti-President Bashar al-Assad. But Bashar denies giving the order, and a U.N. investigation team has not formed conclusions yet.
Nevertheless, former law professor, now President Barack Obama wants to bomb Syria. It won't be to help the rebels, supposedly, especially since the rebels are now led by Sunni Islamic fundamentalists. It's just a sort of international spanking, grounding (economic embargoes) having not done the trick, so far. If Syrians just go back to killing each other with small arms, artillery and the occasional beheading, Obama will be alright with that.
War crimes are a funny (odd, legally peculiar) thing. War itself is a war crime, since all wars have to be started, and starting a war is a war crime. Once a war is started there are a set of rules both sides are supposed to adhere to. If the war has a winner, the winner usually prosecutes the losing side for war crimes. Winners usually don't prosecute themselves for war crimes, though in a few cases low-level soldiers or officers have been prosecuted.
Obama can't easily try Bashar for war crimes, not without a successful invasion of Syria. But there are all sorts of war criminals he could prosecute. He has simply not chosen to make that a priority for the Justice Department.
There are the Vietnam era war criminals, many of whom are still alive. They started a war with North Vietnam, which was a war crime. They killed vast quantities of civilians both in South and North Vietnam, which was a war crime. They used chemical warfare in the form of napalm and Agent Orange, which was a war crime. They also invaded Laos and Cambodia, also war crimes. They supervised the South Vietnamese murdering civilians and POWs, which was a war crime. These war criminals would be easy to arrest and not too hard to prosecute. But it isn't a priority.
Among the other war criminals milling around Washington, D.C. and the various united States are those who initiated wars on Grenada, the states formerly known as Yugoslavia, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Libya. I probably left out a few.
Perhaps this illustration of the importance of prioritization is a mere coincidence. After all, Obama did not time the nerve gas incident, unless it was the work of the CIA. You may not realize it, but for those who plan ahead, like politicians and their stockholders, this is the gearing up time for the 2014 elections. One-third of the U.S. Senate seats will be up for grabs, as well as the entire House of Representatives. While incumbents almost always win, you can never be sure. Fundraising is in full swing and potential opponents are calculating their odds. Primaries are only a few months away.
Here in Mendocino County, where Republicans are distinguished mainly by their having enough money to smoke more than their fair share of the dope, there will be a backlash against both of Barack Obama's policies. Only the most loyal of Obamacrats want him to bomb Syria. More important, everyone is nervous about the price of marijuana. It is bound to drop as more people enter the market. To some extent that can be compensated by growing more, but at some point trying to sell marijuana will be like trying to sell houses in 2008.
Some people might have to actually make money with their real jobs, instead of just using them to launder cash.
But it is not Mendocino County that the Democratic Party bigwigs are worried about. It is the districts where the two war crimes organizations known as political parties are about evenly balanced. The competitive districts that determine which party gets to spend the loot gathered from taxpayers.
Bombing Syria makes Obama look tough, which is generally considered to be a positive thing with the voters. But it might alienate the peace-loving wing of the Democratic Party. The new marijuana policy is meant to placate that wing.
Its hard to tell what dose will work out best. Just enough dope to get people to calm down and forget about all the ways Obama has disappointed the hopes they had for him. Not so much dope as to be too out of it to vote the Democratic Party ticket come election day.