Obama's "Open for Questions": even MSM notices how bad it was

Earlier today, Barack Obama conducted an online townhall meeting in which part of the time was spend answering questions that had been submitted to and voted up at whitehouse.gov/openforquestions. Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times has a run-down here. The problems with the system he used are covered in the popular voting systems summary, including a brief description of a better way to do things.

As predicted, the questions were weak. However, on the plus side the mainstream media or at least the online version of same appears to be catching on to the flaws in the voting system that was used, with John Ward Anderson of The Politico offering "Pot-related questions deluge W.H." (politico.com/news/stories/0309/20526.html). Likewise, Michael Scherer from Time Magazine offers this very good round-up of the "top" questions.

The wastoids from NORML can't figure out how to ask one good question and concentrate on pushing that to the top, but by making obvious to anyone how such systems can be abused they might lead us to using better voting systems for future efforts. (And, their incessant bombarding of such efforts and comments on MSM articles is sure to backfire.)

And, the uber-hack Ben Smith offers "Ensuring a friendly audience for online town hall" (politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0309/Ensuring_a_friendly_audience_for_online_town_hall.html):

...The event should not be mistaken, however, for a perfect reflection of the concerns of the American people, or even of American Internet users, for two reasons... One is perhaps unavoidable, and perfectly fair: Well organized groups, like advocates for the decriminalization of marijuana, can push their desired questions to the top. (Is the most important budget question really, "With over 1 out of 30 Americans controlled by the penal system, why not legalize, control, and tax marijuana to change the failed war on drugs into a money making, money saving boost to the economy? Do we really need that many victimless criminals?")... The second is deliberate: The Democratic National Committee blasted out the link to the Open for Questions website yesterday afternoon to Organizing for America's list, reportedly to include about 14 million people. It's reasonable to assume that those Obama supporters make up a high percentage of the participants.

Well, duh. See the link to the better way to do things above.

UPDATE: In retrospect, sending an email to NORML letting them know I discussed them was a bad idea. Apparently another symptom is tone-deafness. Also, there's a full transcript of the event here.


Perhaps we could dispense with all the conspiracy theory nonsense and just apply Occam's Razor to the phenomenon: maybe legalization of marijuana is just an incredibly popular issue! Four times the White House has opened up its site (change.gov and whitehouse.gov) for questions. Four times, legalization has dominated every category of voting. Change.org, unaffiliated with Obama, saw the same result. Marijuana decriminalization passed in Massachusetts last year with 65% of the vote - an electoral landslide. Michigan legalized medical marijuana with more votes than Obama got in that state, and the issue won in 83 of 83 counties, even those that supported Sen. McCain. Various polls have put marijuana legalization support at 38%-44% in the past six months, with majorities on the West and East coasts favoring a taxed and regulated system of marijuana distribution to responsible adults. It also begs the question, just how big a "wastoid" do you have to be to dominate public policy discussions online, when all the "non-wastoid" audience out there have the same internet connections and far greater numbers? How is it "wastoids" can motivate their constituency to vote in mass numbers for their issue, but the NRA, for example, cannot? Certainly Al Gore and his global climate change followers have more political weight than a bunch of "wastoids", right? Are you trying to tell us we "wastoids" are incredibly motivated people? We've figured out one good question - why won't you legalize marijuana - and asked it in various ways in response to many topics, because it applies to many topics. Health Care? Medical marijuana. Mexican drug war? Legalize it. States can't make payroll? Tax and regulate marijuana. Oil addiction? Legalize hemp for biodiesel. Hunger? That same biodiesel hemp also produces nutritious hempseed. Global climate change? Hemp takes in CO2 and produces most environmentally-friendly textiles and plastics. Crime? Free up police to fight real criminals, not gardeners. The real reason we "wastoids" are dominating these conversations is because there are many more of us than you think. For decades, we've been forced into silence, for fear of losing our jobs and freedom because we prefer marijuana to martinis or Marlboros. Any mention of the topic was inconsiderate in polite company, the nattering of children, to be mocked at best and punished at worst. Now we have a president who campaigned for "change", who openly admits to having "inhaled - that was the point", and who seemed to genuinely be asking the American people about their most pressing concerns. We didn't expect Obama to legalize marijuana, but we did expect the issue to be treated with respect. Russ Belville NORML National Outreach Coordinator http://stash.norml.org

Why stop at pot? Legalize all of it and shut down the cartels, with the same stroke of the pen. It's not like the war on drugs has kept people from doing it anyway. Of course, I wouldnt ever do that.

never happen to many of our political people have big money inside the cartels.