Category Archives: politics

Sessions is wrong about weed, yet Becerra isn’t right

jeffsessionsweedThe familial squabble between state and federal regulators over the only plant so (in)famous to inspire a loopy bit of 1950s film paranoia goes back decades. It turns out that when Californians voted for Proposition 215 and joined the movement for legalized medical use of cannabis it unwittingly became a part of the legal fight this Justice Department has since taken up. When Jeff Sessions announced his decision to overturn the Cole memorandum the attorney general put fresh fuel on a simmering fire. At its heart this battle represents a failure in Washington DC. A standing dispute over the status of some 11 million undocumented immigrants paved the way for states like New Mexico and Maryland to issue driver’s licenses; there are several examples of states coping by offering in-state tuition or Medicaid access. The problems each one is facing, when combined with a population that remains present and “in the shadows” could lead to no other conclusion. Continue reading

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January 18, 2018 · 4:32 am

Concealed-carry bill is solution in search of a problem

concealedcarryGun rights are in the news again, fortunately not as the result of another gruesome mass shooting or the ensuing round of grief and fault-finding. Whew. Surprisingly, this one is attributable to Republicans, who slipped an NRA-backed measure through the House of Representatives by a 231-198 vote. The “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act” would effectively create a national standard for the permits by compelling every state to honor those granted in each of the other forty-nine. After news reached the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, executive director Chris Cox described the vote to Washington Times scribe Andrea Noble as a “watershed moment for Second Amendment rights.” If senators concur and send “Reciprocity” to the White House, concealed-carry permits would not be treated any differently than a driver’s license. The comparison is at best a dubious one for reasons both legal and practical. Continue reading

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December 18, 2017 · 8:42 pm

GOP factions dueling over fate of Roy Moore

paul-ryan-and-mitch-mcconnell-sizedThis one was supposed to be simple, no more dramatic than any other off-year election called to replace a senator promoted to the cabinet. There were signs of what was to come — likely too subtle to register — in August when Stephen Bannon left the White House and returned to Breitbart to fight for “the agenda President Trump ran on.” The onetime investment banker left nothing to the imagination when he forecast a “season of war” aimed at the GOP, one that would challenge virtually every Republican incumbent. Alabama became the first front in a wider war when former state chief justice Roy Moore upended a stand-in who had support from the Senate’s majority leader and the president Bannon helped elect. What had been a relatively cold war went hot when the so-called “Bezos-Amazon-Washington Post” reported on charges that Moore molested or pursued four teens when he was a thirty-something assistant district attorney. The campaign’s response is telling. Continue reading

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November 29, 2017 · 1:16 am

Facebook hearings presenting noisy misdirection

171031153500-facebook-twitter-google-testify-2-1280x720Lawmakers painted a frightful picture of last year’s campaign during Senate hearings in October; witnesses told tales of Facebook users being confronted by 80,000 posts linked to a Russian troll farm that could have reached 126 million Americans. The same Kremlin-linked group sent more than 131,000 messages on Twitter and posted roughly 1,000 videos on YouTube. Democrats were indignant. Delaware senator Chris Coons described one post by a user named “Heart of Texas” condemning Hillary Clinton as “nothing short” of direct Russian interference in “our elections.” As general counsel for the social media giant, Colin Stretch told Coons “that advertisement has no place on Facebook,” and assured the senator he would not allow “that sort of behavior” again. What sort of behavior? A cursory review of the content presented on Capitol Hill reveals pages named “Donald Trump America” and “Army of Jesus” promoting the former developer as well as others for “Black Matters” and “United Muslims,” which urged visitors to support Clinton and thus “save American Muslims.” Continue reading

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November 8, 2017 · 9:36 pm

Second Amendment repeal not to be taken lightly

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Bret Stephens is not the first person to question the utility of a Constitutional Amendment — when prohibition was still in force it was routinely assailed, and eventually repealed with another Amendment. The First, Fourth, and Fourteenth have been sidestepped, undermined, and critiqued by college administrators, NSA spooks, and a certain presidential candidate. Yet nobody has suggested one of the first ten should be repealed. Until now. Presumably, the New York Times editorialist would make his case by pointing to Las Vegas and citing the number of Americans who use a gun to kill themselves or their countrymen. He argued that Democrats make their case “in bad faith,” then illustrated the rhetoric’s relationship with reality. First up was the infamous “loophole” that allows people to sell private property, like a gun, without securing a license. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe charged that 40 percent of buyers use it to evade a background check; a 2015 survey carried out by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard reviewed 4,000 cases and put the total at 22 percent. Continue reading

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October 12, 2017 · 9:09 pm

Healthcare battle continues as October looms

1-139_186538In any other environment, Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-all bill would be greeted the way Republican attempts to defund or dismantle Obamacare once were — a spirited effort by the minority party to stir its base ahead of the next campaign. The cranky Vermont senator is more true believer than opportunist, every bit an ideological counterweight to Ted Cruz, but there was something missing from the plan he presented, something a salesman would overlook. It certainly wasn’t benefits, controls, or high-minded rhetoric. As it stands, “Berniecare” is very generous: it would cover hospital visits, laboratory services, medical devices, maternity care, prescription drugs, vision, and dental. Consumers would be virtually free from out-of-pocket expenses as Sanders’ plan would effectively bar or disband public and private competition. The missing element from a drive to finish what Sanders called a “long and difficult struggle” to end an “international disgrace” is how he intends to pay for it. Continue reading

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September 29, 2017 · 9:14 pm

Torch-lit march ignited stress-test of American society

170812-charlottesville-car-crash-graphic-ew-413p_e44f0fc9685f46fbb60af1f6a2963c17-nbcnews-ux-2880-1000There was something surreal about watching footage of “Unite the Right” demonstrators marching across the University of Virginia campus chanting “white lives matter” and “you will not replace us.” Reports of “scuffles” with counterprotesters were in the news by Saturday. Nobody could have known just what a storm they were unleashing, one that would rattle the White House and cause aftershocks that reached Southern California’s Hollywood Forever cemetery. Another demonstration followed on Saturday to protest the planned removal of a statue depicting Confederate General Robert E. Lee. It was disrupted by police just after Noon when a group organized by local activists was met by counterprotesters; the two sides regrouped and faced off again later in the day as police reportedly stood by, unable or unwilling to keep the two factions apart. The crowd of rivals is the one a twenty-year-old drove his Dodge coupe into before fleeing the scene. Continue reading

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August 22, 2017 · 9:59 pm