Obama gets to know Omar
March 27, 2015 9:37 AM   Subscribe

 
Look... I gotta tell ya, David... talking to the the folks all across this great country of ours

...the American people would really appreciate a sequel.

Now, let me be clear, I'm not saying, as the President of the United States, that you've gotta make one.

What I'm saying is that it's something you're gonna want to think seriously about.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:43 AM on March 27, 2015 [11 favorites]


Obama's mention of Eric Holder brings to mind an earlier exchange between Simon and Holder:

"The Attorney-General's kind remarks are noted and appreciated. I've spoken to Ed Burns and we are prepared to go to work on season six of The Wire if the Department of Justice is equally ready to reconsider and address its continuing prosecution of our misguided, destructive and dehumanising drug prohibition."
posted by dephlogisticated at 9:54 AM on March 27, 2015 [18 favorites]


This is wow.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:12 AM on March 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not a face-reader by any means, but the look(s) on David Simon's face point to a conflicted inner monologue of:

1) Please quit explaining my own show to me

and

2) Holy shit my show has really impacted this guy, this guy who is the President
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:14 AM on March 27, 2015 [12 favorites]


"Don't interrupt the president Don't interrupt the president Don't interrupt the president Don't interrupt the president" --David Simon's brain
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:15 AM on March 27, 2015 [12 favorites]


"1) Please quit explaining my own show to me"
POTUSsplaining
posted by Prunesquallor at 10:24 AM on March 27, 2015 [9 favorites]


When President Obama says unemployment is going down, isn't that because the number of people who report themselves unemployed have given up continuing to doing so?
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:25 AM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well I love Obama as usual, but he's still blowing smoke (no dog whistle intended). 20 years from now? Come on man, how about now? Defund the DEA. Do something drastic. End the drug war. That would be something better than Smart, it would be Right. The president doesn't have to just start discussions and raise awareness, he can end them.

Is what I would say if I were David Simon's brain.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:26 AM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


When President Obama says unemployment is going down, isn't that because the number of people who report themselves unemployed have given up continuing to doing so?

BLS tracks that too -- it's U4 instead of the standard U3 -- and it's been falling too.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:42 AM on March 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


isn't that because the number of people who report themselves unemployed have given up continuing to doing so?

I think Obama is talking about this when he mentions "participation rates":
As the economy's recovering, unemployment's coming down drastically, but one of the puzzles we have is low participation rates... among the population in the aggregate. But when you break down why people are not getting back in the labor force even as jobs are being created, a big chunk of that is the young male population with felony histories.
posted by Jpfed at 10:45 AM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Obama's mention of Holder and Justice Department policy really struck a discordant note for me.

So apparently, in some crazy universe, the President discussed the issue with the AG years ago and Justice Department policy was reformed so prosecutors don't automatically seek the most severe penalties in every case and were instead instructed to exercise discretion in the interests of justice.

In another universe, to pick one of many fairly recent examples, the Justice Department threw the book at a guy over a fishing case, taking it all the way to the Supreme Court. At the Court: "Ginsburg asks what the Justice Department does when it has two “overlapping” statutes, one that carries a five-year sentence and another with a 20-year sentence. Martinez replies that in general the protocol is to “charge the offense that’s the most severe under the law." And we're not even getting into the number of federal prosecutions for possession of small quantities of marijuana in national parks.

Does our government have two Justice Departments I never knew about?
posted by zachlipton at 10:51 AM on March 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


I enjoyed this interview. After Obama finishes up his first round of "things I want to do after I retire" projects, I'd love to see a series of Charlie Rose-style conversations he has with people whose work he finds interesting or important. Would be even better if he did it together with Simon.
posted by longdaysjourney at 11:30 AM on March 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


When President Obama says unemployment is going down, isn't that because the number of people who report themselves unemployed have given up continuing to doing so?

The way we track this is problematic but there are reasons for it and it's what we've done since the early 70s. So for all its flaws it's still useful as a year to year comparative measure for the last forty years.
posted by phearlez at 1:14 PM on March 27, 2015


This may come off as trolling, but I'm pretty serious here: look at the name.

Justice Departments

They DO justice as hard as they can. Just like the military, to quote the immortal EIzzard, "does DEATH".

You gotta change the system and laws around them. Sure, it would be nice if under democratic presidents the DoJ was more reasonable, but it's not realistic. The institutional momentum is just SO much longer in effect than the executive branch can lever.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 1:24 PM on March 27, 2015


I think it's pretty amazing that we have a sitting president publicly give voice to the idea that the Drug War and it's lust for incarceration has done more harm than good, and on top of that, to have that conversation with a very eloquent and vocal critic of our current system, thus lending him and his views just that much more credibility.

I know it's not "perfect action to solve everything" , But it seems like kind of a big deal.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:04 PM on March 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


Maybe we can get Obama to debate Noam Chomsky while he's still with us.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:32 PM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Obama's been giving us some 60 degree days.
posted by Chessboxing at 6:19 PM on March 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have to agree with Billy; this is some heady stuff. It really is perfect positioning to reference the Wire; right now. I just didn't expect the POTUS to be interviewing David Simon. Mind is blown.
posted by vicx at 2:59 AM on March 28, 2015


I love Obama for his calm, his rational approach and his fiercely intelligent analytic ability. Everything he says here is true, but it ignores one low-down, inescapable fact of careerist political life: politicians at all levels back counterproductive "tough-on-crime" policies because that stance gets them re-elected. All too often, they're right. Until that changes, nothing else will either.

Maybe that "they're less scared" factor will take care of this issue. I'd sure like to think so.
posted by Paul Slade at 10:05 PM on March 28, 2015




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