Person of the Year: Barack Obama version.indd

This was a rather obvious choice in an election year. As Time points out, Obama is “the first Democrat in more than 75 years to get a majority of the popular vote twice. Only five other Presidents have done that in all of U.S. history.” Time‘s explanation:

There are many reasons for this, but the biggest by far are the nation’s changing demographics and Obama’s unique ability to capitalize on them. When his name is on the ballot, the next America — a younger, more diverse America — turns out at the polls. In 2008, blacks voted at the same rate as whites for the first time in history, and Latinos broke turnout records. The early numbers suggest that both groups did it again in 2012, even in nonbattleground states, where the Obama forces were far less organized. When minorities vote, that means young people do too, because the next America is far more diverse than the last. And when all that happens, Obama wins. He got 71% of Latinos, 93% of blacks, 73% of Asians and 60% of those under 30.

They left out the more important fact that Obama ran against a Republican Party which has moved to the extreme right and very well might never again be able to win a national election until the party changes. (Some Republican apologists might counter by claims that John McCain and Mitt Romney are moderates but in reality both ran on platforms which were bat-shit crazy, even if the Republicans do have even worse lunatics among their ranks.)
Time’s interview with Obama gives indications we are living in a world which the authoritarian right just cannot handle. Obama took time to announce his support for gay marriage, but we may have reached a tipping point where any candidate who does not support marriage equality would be seen in the same light as someone who didn’t support interracial marriage. Obama is more conservative than many of his supporters on drugs, and it is a disappointment that he is not ending the drug war, but at least does not intend to use government resources for prosecution of marijuana users:

I have a couple of policy questions growing out of that shift. Do you expect your administration will join the gay marriage cases at the Supreme Court?

We are looking at the cases right now. I’ve already been very clear about DOMA, so there is no doubt that we would continue the position we’re on, that DOMA is unconstitutional and should be struck down. And I think the Prop-8 case, because the briefs are still being written, I should probably be careful about making any specific comments on it.

One of the other big things that happened in the election was in Washington State and Colorado, marijuana for recreational use was legalized. And, again, the same base — the younger people, more progressive people are in favor of that. Is a recreational marijuana user who is following state law someone who should be a federal law enforcement priority?

No. And I think what the Justice Department has consistently asserted is that it’s got finite resources. Our focus has to be on threats to safety, threats to property. When it comes to drug enforcement, big-time drug dealers, folks who are preying on our kids, those who are engaging in violence — that has to be our focus.

Now, obviously, you’ve got a challenge, which is federal laws that are still on the books making marijuana a Class I drug that is subject to significant penalties, and you’ve got state laws now that say it’s legal. We’re going to have to have a conversation about how to reconcile that, because it puts the Department of Justice and the U.S. attorneys in a pretty tough position; they don’t want to look like they’re nullifying laws that are on the books; their job is to carry out the laws of the federal government. On the other hand, I think not only have these states indicated that they’ve got a different view, but what’s also true isthat the public as a whole — even those who don’t necessarily agree with decriminalization of marijuana — don’t think that this should be a top priority for law enforcement.

So this will be something that we navigate over the next several months and next several years. I think that the broader lesson to draw here is that substance abuse is a big problem in oursociety, and we should be doing everything we can to prevent our kids from being trapped by substance abuse. I think a law enforcement model alone, or an emphasis on a law enforcement strategy and not enough emphasis on the public health approach and treatment has not yielded the kind of results that I think we would like. And we’re going to have to have a serious discussion about that.

There are many pictures worth viewing accompanying the articles:
Obama Clinton
Obama Spiderman
Obama from Behind
Obama Chicago
obama white house
Obama Families 911 Victims
Obama Bo
Obama 3D Glasses

Merlin Finale: Le Morte d’Arthur?

The BBC has released the above trailer for the final episode of Merlin, to air on December 25. As the fifth season hasn’t aired in the United States yet, this is sort of a spoiler, but since the Arthur legend is well know this shouldn’t totally ruin things for those who have not seen Season 5 yet.

The fifth season has not been the greatest mid season but last week’s episode leading into the two-part series finale was excellent. Radio Times says that this week’s episode, the first part of the two-part story concluding the series, The Diamond of the Day, is the best episode of the series so far:


To those who may have doubted Merlin in recent weeks, I say only this: watch the next episode. It’s a beauty, the best of the series so far.

Structurally and emotionally, it’s the most satisfying, and tees up the finale in ripping fashion. Writer and co-creator Jake Michie knows better than most what makes Merlin magic, and here he’s concocted a potent brew.

Yes, series five has gone walkabout from time to time, but in that respect it’s no different to any of the preceding four. And you could accuse almost any long-running drama of mid-season sag. Even the mighty Homeland!

So what happens in The Day of the Diamond Part 1? Well, without giving anything away, Morgana acts on the information that her new ally Mordred has supplied – that Merlin is actually sorcerer supreme Emrys.

It’s impossible to watch Merlin without occasionally thinking of Harry Potter. And that’s no criticism. But just as Lord Voldemort would dispatch his pet snake Nagini to do his dirty work, so Morgana employs a big, magic-sapping slug to take Merlin out of the equation.

In the bigger picture, M&M (Morgana and Mordred) are closing in on Camelot, so Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table must hatch a cunning plan to protect the kingdom.

It sounds straightforward on paper, but there are some juicy little side issues. Even loyal, mouthy Sir Gwaine (Eoin Macken) is given a little more to do than swish a sword.

There’s not quite enough for Gwen or Gaius to sink their teeth into ­– same old, same old – and the supposedly ruthless Morgana does (or rather doesn’t do) something a bit stupid. But these are minor complaints in the context of an episode that has such heart, and guts.

A surprising reappearance, one quiet moment of almost poetic sorcery, an invigorating, Henry V-style pep talk and some stirring incidental music complete the package. Enjoy!