With Colorado having transformed into a bastion of legal marijuana, The New Yorker sat down with President Barack Obama to get some of his candid thoughts on smoking weed. The President played it safe, offering measured support of further decriminalization, saying "It's important for it to go forward because it's important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished." He's referring to the fact that minorities tend to get punished more harshly for possession of weed, a well-known statistic. "As has been well documented," he goes on to say, "I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol" ... Discuss

 

The big question at the center of the George Washington Bridge-closing scandal detonating in New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's offices today is "how much did he know?" Governor Christie told press today, in so many words: nothing. Christie has been on the record many times saying he was uninvolved in the lane closure and it was not politically motivated, but leaked emails and text messages from his close aides yesterday reveal that the whole thing was done out of spite against Democratic Mayor Mark Sokolich, who refused to give Christie his endorsement. The lane closures threw the traffic of Fort Lee into a nightmarish gridlock (school buses were delayed and at least one person died while an ambulance was stuck.) Christie is maintaining his innocence, calling the whole thing "completely unacceptable" and firing the aid who sent the condemning emails.

It comes at a tough time for Christie, who has wide bi-partisan support and was considered a frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, but has had to frequently fight off accusations of being a bully ... Discuss

 

New Jersey Governor and generally well-liked Republican Chris Christie is under the gun today, following a report that his top aids forced controversial lane closures as revenge against Democratic Mayor Mark Sokolich, who refused to give Christie an endorsement. Several lanes were shut down on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge, plunging the traffic in the mayor's town into days of nightmarish gridlock. The Bergen Record acquired several emails and text messages from top Christie aids which say it was part of a retaliation plan. "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Christie's deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly emailed to Christie's high school friend and Port Authority appointee, David Wildstein. Wildstein also engaged in this text conversation with an unidentified person, which has sort of a cartoon Disney villain flair to it:

Person: "Is it wrong that I am smiling?"
Wildstein: "No."
Person: "I feel badly about the kids. I guess."
Wildstein: "They are the children of Buono voters."

According to NBC, "Buono" is the Democrat Christie defeated in last year's race. For his part, Christie is saying that he was lied to and, as far as he knew, politics had nothing to do with shutting down the bridge ... Discuss

 

A federal judge has ruled in favor of two plaintiffs who argued that the seizure of their phone records by the NSA was unconstitutional. And by unconstitutional, he means not even close to constitutional. In his decision, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon wrote, “I cannot imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary invasion' than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on 'that degree of privacy' that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”

The program was first revealed in a series of documents leaked by former NSA private contractor Edward Snowden, who has fled to Russia to escape U.S. persecution. So, is Snowden free to return home after a judge essentially confirmed that the government was violating the basic rights of its own citizens? Not a chance. A Justice Department official said they plan on appealing the ruling, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Snowden should be returned to the U.S. to face felony charges. This contradicts what the head of the NSA told 60 Minutes, saying it would be "worth having a conversation” about giving Snowden asylum under certain circumstances. At least everyone is on same the page.

For his part, Snowden is pleased with the ruling, saying in a statement, “I acted on my belief that the NSA's mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts" ... Discuss

 

Whoops. Oh, well. There's a lot to take in in this shot of a Christmas decoration unveiling at the White House, and a lot to learn. For example, just because Sunny's the First Dog (well, one of the First Dogs. The first First Dog, Bo, certainly wouldn't do anything like this.) doesn't mean she can't get a little hyped up on holiday joy. Poor Mrs. Obama—trying to rein in that which cannot be reined: the Christmas spirit. Fortunately, Sunny's victim—a young military child named Ashtyn Gardner—was only the recipient of some overeager licking and didn't seem too taken aback. Nevertheless, there's pretty much no ceiling on what she can ask for this Christmas ... Discuss