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January 30, 2012 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-01-30

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4A - Monday, January 30, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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f idtIgan aih)
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Imran Syed is the public editor. He can be reached at publiceditor@michigandaily.com.
A greener future
States should regulate marijuana like alcohol
olorado may become the new battleground for marijuana
legalization. A proposal likely to be on the ballot this Novem-
ber asks the state government to regulate cannabis like alcohol.
Colorado joins Washington and Missouri, who will soon have similar
ballot propositions, while a smaller push occurs in Michigan. Numer-
ous pro-legalization groups have pushed the initiative in Colorado to
try to make the illicit drug safer and to combat the problems that have
come with medical marijuana legalization. All states, fromtolorado to
Michigan, should explore legalization initiatives and begin regulating
marijuana in a safer and more realistic manner.

,7,7 70. " 7 70

T he political reality of a rally

W hen I saw President
Obama stride onstage,
my thoughts tuned
to "The West
Wing." There
simply will never
be a television
series that can
surpass itssuperb
cast, writing, and
direction. If you
disagree with ANDREW
me, I'll happily WEINER
punch you in the
When creator
and writer Aaron Sorkin left after
season four, however, the political
drama - following two terms of a
fictional White House - suffered.
Seasons five and six came and went,
but the show found its spark again
in season seven, focusingon a presi-
dential election.
The result was exhilarating to
watch - a Hispanic Democrat tak-
ing on a moderate Republican. Like
much of the show, you take its rep-
resentation of presidential politics
with a grain of salt as opposed to
a true depiction. Still, watching a
behind-the-scenes depiction of a
presidential campaign is fascinat-
ing. The back room dealings, secrets
and lies, personal relationships and
problems scattered along the way
make for a great plot. The part I
couldn't get over, however, was how
those problems disappeared when a
candidate got onstage to address a
Seeing what occurred immediate-
ly before and after rallies and speech-
es makes you realize how much of a
production these events are. Bright
lights, camera crews and makeup
teams - are we on Capitol Hill or the
back lot of Universal Studios?
When I was in Iowa for the
Republican caucuses early this
month, I could've sworn I'd stum-
bled onto the set of "The West
Wing." The night before the Tues-
day caucus, candidate Mitt Romney
hosted a rally at a large manufac-
turing warehouse about 15 minutes
outside of Des Moines. I immedi-
ately wondered how much thought
went into pickingthat specific loca-
tion. A safe estimate is "a lot."

Immediately upon entering the
building, attendees were immedi-
ately blinded by bright floodlights,
which illuminated a small raised
stage already surrounded by hun-
dreds of supporters. To play up
the scene to the cameras, those
who came were packed into a tiny
section of the facility - it could
have held hundreds more far more
comfortably. But, hey, it's all about
I went into every event in Iowa
with a moderately negative atti-
tude, but the rally won the top
prize. Being smashed against
people in support of Romney, or
any of the Republican candidates,
is hardly on my daily to-do list. A
teenaged girl with dyed purple hair
pushed next to me, attempting to
make small talk. "You know what
I'm worried about?" What are you
worried about, crazy girl? Besides
matching your flannel pants to your
hair color, of course. "Occupiers."
I struggled to stifle a laugh.
"I don't know," she mumbled,
"something about them's just not
I kept staring at one blinding
light hanging from the high ceil-
ing that would shine down on the
former governor of Massachusetts
when he finally emerged. Every
part of this was so horrifyingly cal-
culated. I looked around for a grain
of truth, but the light kept remind-
ing me I was on a television set, not
observing the political process.
Mitt Romney came out and I
mused on who had picked out his
wife's necklace, how his sons had
been instructed to stand, why his
speech said absolutely nothing of
substance but was still interrupted
by cheers and, most importantly,
how good they looked doing it.
Romney's team designed the set;
all the news channels had to bring
were the cameras.
On Friday, like thousands of other
students, I came to see President
Barack Obama speak at Al Glick
Field House. Fortunately, I was out-
side the fences caging the packed
audience. They only used a small
portion of the football field, but I
was too excited to see the president

to put much thought into that.
I'll admit it. I was wholeheart-
edly seduced by the entire event.
Students camping in the cold for
tickets, my White House Press Pool
pass, Obama calling out Denard -
how crazy cool was this! When the
speech started, I listened atten-
tively and agreed with most of what
he proposed - smiling like a crazy
person the whole time.
At a certain point, I realized
Obama's sleeves were rolled up.
Those cuffs were too perfect,
there's no way he rolled them him-
self. The illusion was shattered and
I emerged from fantasyland.
Is this
Capitol Hill or
A light hanging from the ceil-
ing shined on Obama just like it
had shone on Romney a month
ago. American flags and Block 'M's
were strategically placed around
Glick. His speech pandered to his
audience, and he said very little of
substance. When the crowd in Ann
Arbor erupted after the president
said, "Go Blue!" I didn't roll my eyes
like I did in Iowa.
Call it hypocrisy, parochialism or
whatever suits you best. From poli-
tics to personal relationships, we
give passes to those we agree with
for doing similar things to those we
don't. To borrow the construction
of journalist Sydney Harris: We're
ideological and they're partisan.
We play aggressive and they play
This frame of mind isn't ben-
eficial to anyone. It's what leads to
gridlock, it's what leads to a wid-
ening partisan gap and it's what
ultimately leads to hatrmes no mat-
ter what political party or leader is
- Andrew Weiner can be reached at
anweiner@umich.edu. Follow him on
Twitter at @andrewweiner.


If passed, the ballot proposal would
allow citizens to possess marijuana in small
amounts. The initiative is led by the Campaign
to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. The
group's goal is to control the illicit drug and
take it out of the underground market, earning
state revenue off taxation and keeping it out of
the hands of young people. In 2006, a similar
proposal was up for vote in the state but failed
largely due to the lack of funding for advertis-
ing. Today, with a well-established medical
marijuana industry in Colorado to fund cam-
paigning, the ballot is expected to be more
widely accepted.
While medical marijuana is legal in Colora-
do, the current system is in need of change. The
state has seen countless dispensaries pop up in
the last decade. Many communities are angry
at the pot-peddlers that cater to customers
who some deem ineligible for medical canna-
bis. About 88,000 Colorado residents currently
have medical marijuana cards. Of these, an
unusually large number are men in their 20s
and 30s. The federal government complicates
the issue by shutting down legal dispensaries
in Colorado and across the nation that have
"stepped outside their legal boundaries," even
though those boundaries remain largely unde-
fined. By legalizing cannabis, Colorado resi-

dents would be rid of the shroud of hypocrisy
surrounding medical marijuana use.
When a similar legalization effort was put
on the ballot in California in Nov. 2010, stark
opposition was seen by the state's beer indus-
try. Since Colorado hosts Coors and countless
other private microbreweries, the proposal
may face the same opposition. Alcohol indus-
tries opposed to the bill view marijuana as a
form of unwelcome competition. In this fight
for recreational dollars, the alcohol industry
doesn't have much of an argument. In a recent
study published in The New York Times,
researchers found thatsmokingthe equivalent
of a joint a day for seven years has no appar-
ent effect on lung function. Alternatively,
thousands of deaths are caused by alcohol's
long-term health effects. The alcohol indus-
try's arguments are driven by self-interest and
should not be taken into account by voters.
Young and old alike will continue to smoke
marijuana whether it's made legal or not.
Though the current abuse of the medical mari-
juana system raises doubts about legalization,
the decriminalization of marijuana would cre-
ate a safer and more efficient way to deal with
the issue. Colorado voters should choose to
legalize cannabis to better control substances
in their state.


Aida Ali, Laura Argintar, Kaan Avdan, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Michael McHenry, Harsha Nahata, Harsha Panduranga,
Timothy Rabb, Adrienne Roberts, Vanessa Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba,
Seth Soderborg, Caroline Syms, Andrew Weiner

Read immediate post-speech commentary on Obama's remarks by Andrew Weiner:
As students at a university, that as a result of reduced state funding continuously increases tuition,
making each incoming class more debt-ridden than the last, we need to do something. Anything.
Obama's poor human rights record

We need to elect Obama to
another term in office
Dear Mr. President:
The night followingyour Fridayvisitto cam-
pus, thousands of dollars in potential campaign
contributions were spent on cheapbeer and the
momentary escape from a tired future in a bro-
ken world. For us students, it's a weekly exer-
cise in avoiding the confrontation of problems
we no longer believe we can solve. Our dreams
have been tempered by cynicism, and our fears
have been enflamed by anger and hatred. We
have lowered our sights and raised our guard.
We still believe in change, but the more things
change, the more they seem the same.
President is uninformed on
auto industry, student debt
Michigan residents should be deeply
offended by President Barack Obama's
remarks in Michigan on Friday. The Presi-
dent credited himself for bringing auto jobs
back to Michigan, when in fact the automo-
tive industry was bailed out by the American
taxpayer at our own expense.
In a time when millions of Americans face
bankruptcy, it's an outrage that such large
companies with power and privilege are
bailed out for their own mistakes. To show
up in Michigan and boast of such crony capi-
talism and imply that Michigan's vote can
be bought for a price is truly an insult, to all
Michigan residents and especially to those
working for auto companies that were not
bailed out.
Adding insult to injury, the president
chose one of America's most expensive public
universities to demand college costs be held
in check, when in actual fact it is his own
policy of giving easy credit and large loans to
college students that spurs the skyrocketing

In your office resides the power to reverse
millennia of human suffering. The great-
est statesmen have wanted nothing more and
demanded nothing less. They have refused
"the tranquilizing drug of gradualism." For
them, there was no such thing as a political
necessity. There were only necessary politics.
And so, late Friday night and early Satur-
day morning we toasted to four more years.
We do wish you four more years. For the
American undergraduate, college is our own
four-year term. It's a term of learning and
growth. It's a time of little responsibility and
great exploration. It is, above all else, four
more years before we too must enter a world
yet to be repaired.
Daniel Richard Kliger
Engineering freshman

cost of education. Indeed, rising tyition costs
at the University of Michigan significantly
outpace the inflation rate.
The national student loan debt is now over
$1 trillion, and unfair bankruptcy laws that
exempt student debt from bankruptcy pro-
tection are leading hundreds of thousands of
bright young people into a lifetime of crush-
ing debt.
As usual, the president invokes the rhetoric
of class warfare and the fallacies of Keynes-
ian economics to justify what are nothing
more than wealth distribution schemes.
Only Ron Paul has the presence of mind
and the courage to speak the truth about
students loans: that just as easy lending laws
enabled banks to make billions on mortgage-
backed securities while millions lost their
homes, easy student loans are a snare for
students who take them, and a barrier to the
education of those who cannot get a loan.
The only winner is the banks.
This is one more reason why informed and
serious students support Congressman Ron
Paul for president.
Vincent Patsy
University alum and Campus Coordinator for
Michigan for Ron Paul

President Barack Obama's recent campus visit, fol-
lowing his highly touted State of the Union address,
has elicited a predictable upsurge of sycophantic
praise for the president. A recent viewpoint written on
behalf of the University's chapter of the College Demo-
crats stressed how "honored" we all should feel for his
brief 30-minute campaign speech. However, praise for
Obama seems to be based more on the fact that he's less
insane than the Republican frontrunners and members
of Congress rather than on his actual record of accom-
plishments. A critical examination of Obama's major
domestic initiatives and foreign policy actions reveals
not only significant discontinuities, but even exacerba-
tion of some of the most egregious policies established
by the Bush administration.
It didn't take long after Election Day 2008 for
Obama to show what kind of "change" he so proudly
proclaimed during his campaign. Almost immediate-
ly upon assuming office, the Obama administration
gave Bush administration officials full immunity from
criminal prosecution for what every major human
rights group, the United Nations and multiple army
general investigators have termed war crimes. Instead
of focusing on war criminals, Obama has vigorously
prosecuted whistleblowers who've exposed govern-
ment waste and crimes at a higher rate than all other
previous administrations combined. Daniel Ellsberg,
the highly respected journalist who leaked the Penta-
gon Papers, stated that Obama was worse than Bush
and Nixon on such issues. Obama's hypocritical excus-
al of the Bush administration's crimes, with the osten-
sible desire to "look forward" while at the same time
prosecuting the heroic whistleblower Thomas Drake
for exposing the fraud and illegality of the previous
administration's National Security Agency, is simply
inexcusable. All of this is coming from a president who
campaigned specifically on transparency and rule of
law and a strong critique of the Bush administration's
Just in the past month, Obama signed the National
Defense Authorization Act into law. The Act gives the
U.S. government the right to indefinitely detain nearly
anyone, including American citizens, without charge
or trial. This has been bitterly condemned by the
American Civil Liberties Union and many other civil
liberties organizations for its blatant unconstitutional-
ity and violation of international law. While Obama has
asserted that his administration will choose to inter-
pret the new provision in a way that does not allow
detention of American citizens, this has no bearing
whatsoever on how a President Mitt Romney might

choose to interpret the law. The ability to indefinitely
detain citizens without charge or trial has been the
hallmark of authoritarian governments and is a viola-
tion of our constitutional and human rights.
Another Bush initiative that Obama has vastly
expanded is the use of drone strikes in Afghanistan,
Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The media typically
presents a sanitized picture of these strikes against
"militants" that dehumanizes the victims of U.S.
bombing while only briefly mentioning the cold and
calculating collateral damage. So far, the number of
children killed by drone strikes authorized by Obama
has reached nearly 200. In fact, of the 2,000 people
killed in these strikes, very few have even been identi-
fied. This has made it difficult to assess who exactly is
being killed and what justification there is for killing
them. The utter lack of oversight and accountability
involved in these operations has caused Human Rights
Watch to call for an end to drone operations until the
Obama administration can show they were lawful and
didn't disproportionately kill civilians. The admin-
istration has refused to honor the ACLU's Freedom
of Information requests regarding the drone attacks,
allowing the administration to continue killing whom-
ever it pleases at will while keeping victims invisible
and as far from the public mind as possible. If we were
forced to look into the faces of the innocent who have
been so recklessly killed by U.S. bombing before see-
ing Obama's speech on campus, perhaps we might feel
more outraged than honored by his presence.
While it's understandable that most college students
are concerned with Obama's education policy and what
he'll do for Michigan, it's important to remember what
most of us claim to believe about human rights. If we,
as a student body, have a minimal level of moral integ-
rity, we should be willing to stand against the numer-
ous well-documented ongoing human rights violations
committed by the Obama administration. While I
haven't mentioned even a fraction of this administra-
tion's abuses here, these examples speak strongly to
this administrations disregard for the rule of law and
human rights. It's time for liberals to stop ignoring
these issues and acting as though the only criticisms of
the president must come from conservatives. Instead
of blindly supporting this president due to the fear of
a worse alternative, we should be doing whatever is
in our power to end government abuses carried out in
our name, no matter what political party or leader is
Michael McHenry is an LSA senior.


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