Maybe Now Congress Will Act On Marijuana Banking Reform?

[ Posted Monday, August 20th, 2018 – 17:16 PDT ]

Over two decades after California legalized medical marijuana (becoming the first of many states to do so), Congress has still refused to act in any way to admit the fact that the times they are a-changin' on marijuana law. Six years after Colorado and Washington became the first two states to outright legalize recreational use for adults, Congress still refuses to act. In the meantime, marijuana has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry, and as with every other multibillion-dollar industry (especially agricultural ones -- remember all those "Got Milk?" ads?), it has begun spending money on lobbying politicians. So far it's a relative drop in the bucket -- total marijuana lobbying this year is only a relatively paltry million dollars -- but one story today may eventually have a ripple effect that (hopefully) will end with Congress admitting the new reality of the existence of the state-legal marijuana industry. In a way, it's a sad commentary on our political system, where as we all know money talks quite loudly. But that's a discussion for another day, really. The system is what it is, and if in some way it spurs the otherwise-somnolent legislators into doing the right thing for once, then that at least will be a desirable outcome.

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Friday Talking Points [496] -- OMG Omarosa!

[ Posted Friday, August 17th, 2018 – 17:07 PDT ]

This week in politics can be summed up in a very short tweet: "OMG -- Omarosa!"

Omarosa was wholly created, as a media personality, by Donald Trump. He absolutely loved her backstabbing and underhanded play on his reality show, The Apprentice. He loved her act so much that he brought it with him to the White House. Now that she's turned against him, however, he isn't loving her act quite so much anymore. Sad!

And (Lordy) she has tapes!

In a week where Trump's former campaign manager's first federal trial was sent to the jury, in a week where Trump is publicly revealing his enemies list, in a week where over 350 newspapers took the president to task for calling them "the enemy of the people," all people could talk about was Omarosa and her tapes. The most jarring response came from Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who notably could not guarantee that a tape didn't exist of Donald Trump using the "N-word." This was just after Trump called Omarosa a "dog" on Twitter. That's the state of our politics today, folks.

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I Am Not An Enemy Of The People

[ Posted Thursday, August 16th, 2018 – 18:04 PDT ]

I am not an "enemy of the people." I am not an enemy of The People. Parse it or capitalize it however you like, I am still not an enemy of the people.

Today, over 350 newspaper editorial boards have published similar sentiments. While I've never been a part of the mainstream media, I had to join in this collective effort to push back against President Donald Trump's dangerous and Stalinesque rhetoric, because it is important to take a stand against such demonization. Call me small potatoes if you must, but these small potatoes are still not an enemy of the people.

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The Iron 'Stache Wins His Primary

[ Posted Wednesday, August 15th, 2018 – 16:45 PDT ]

Randy "Iron 'Stache" Bryce won his primary last night in Wisconsin, meaning he is now the Democratic nominee who will attempt to flip Paul Ryan's House district in November. It'll be a tough race, but an interesting one to watch no matter the outcome. Partly this is due to Bryce's charisma and personality, and partly it is because of the issues he chose to run on. Because he just may become the prime example of how blue-collar working-class Democrats can win elections in today's political climate.

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An Avenatti Run Would Help Democrats

[ Posted Tuesday, August 14th, 2018 – 16:38 PDT ]

The best commentary on the Omarosa-versus-Trump saga I've yet heard came from Republican pundit Ana Navarro. Forgive me for paraphrasing (I'm doing this from memory), but last Sunday she pointed out: "Omarosa is entirely the creation of Donald Trump. Trump deserves Omarosa." That pretty much sums it up. A reality-show president is being attacked by a former (three-time!) contestant on his reality show, with all the drama and faux outrage of a scripted encounter on that reality show. The question for most viewers isn't (as the media anguishes over): "Which one do you believe?" but rather: "Whose presentation is more entertaining?" As Navarro pointed out, Trump does indeed deserve Omarosa. Especially seeing as he was the one that hired her -- for the fourth time -- to be an aide in his White House.

Which brings me to a seemingly-unrelated story, that of Michael Avenatti considering a run for the Democratic nomination for president. Avenatti travelled to Iowa recently, and gave a speech to present his case for why he should be the one to take on Donald Trump in 2020. His rationale can be summed up as: "I can beat Trump like a drum -- far better than any other possible Democratic candidate." You've got to admit, that's a fairly convincing argument for him to be making.

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Taking Back The Streets

[ Posted Monday, August 13th, 2018 – 16:13 PDT ]

This weekend, decent people -- and by that, I mean people who are not white supremacists -- took back the streets, in both Washington D.C. and Charlottesville, Virginia. One year after the tragic deaths in Charlottesville (one at the hands of the white-supremacists, two from a police helicopter crash), the neo-Nazis were shamed and shouted down successfully. Thus proving the old adage: "the answer for free speech you don't agree with is more free speech." This time, the voice of decency was louder, which is entirely as it should be.

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Friday Talking Points [495] -- Lost In Space

[ Posted Friday, August 10th, 2018 – 17:19 PDT ]

President Donald Trump, when speaking of his idea to create a "Space Force" branch of the U.S. military, invariably sounds like an adolescent boy raving about his favorite science-fiction film. Perhaps this is why he sent Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Defense James Mattis out this week to announce that the Pentagon will (reluctantly) be going along with Trump's idiocy. Trump even unveiled six prototype logos for the new Space Force, all of which look like they were designed by someone who had just woken up from a coma entered into at some time in the early 1960s.

Smarter minds (which used to include Mattis himself) have repeatedly pointed out that (1) we already have military units dedicated to defending space, and (2) making such units their own branch of the military would do nothing more than introduce a massive and expensive bureaucracy on top of what already exists. Not since Ronald Reagan's "Strategic Defense Initiative" was ridiculed as "Star Wars" has any idea been so thoroughly laughed at in Washington, in fact. But (hopefully) this cockamamie idea will explode on the launch pad, since Congress is the one who would have to actually authorize the creation of a new branch of the military. It's just one more reason to get out in November and vote for Democrats, in other words.

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What A Democratic House Would Mean

[ Posted Thursday, August 9th, 2018 – 17:09 PDT ]

Representative Devin Nunes, at a rally for a Republican House leader, let slip the real reason Republicans want to hang onto control of the House -- because if the Democrats win, his committee (and others like it) will no longer be under GOP control. Which would mean investigative and governmental oversight committees would return to doing the job they are supposed to be doing -- investigating possible wrongdoing and overseeing the Trump administration to discover exactly what they're up to (and how much of it is actually illegal).

Nunes is right, and he's right to be worried about such a prospect. Because there are two practical things that would happen if Democrats do take back control of the House in November. The House would pass bills that Democrats want to see enacted into law, and they would begin investigating Trump in earnest.

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Primary Season Musings

[ Posted Wednesday, August 8th, 2018 – 16:29 PDT ]

With fewer than 100 days to go until the midterm elections, several states held primaries last night as well as one very closely-watched special House election in Ohio. The final results are not all in, due to the closeness of the race in Ohio and in the Republican gubernatorial primary in Kansas, but enough results are in to draw some broad conclusions overall.

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Photos From The Trip

[ Posted Tuesday, August 7th, 2018 – 18:59 PDT ]

As promised, today's column is nothing but photos from my Netroots Nation trip, although most of the pictures below are actually from all the stuff we did before we got there. I mention this up front, in case you're not really interested in another travelogue column. For everyone else, let's dive in.

As I mentioned last week, we found a real gem of a place to stay atop the highest point in Arkansas, Magazine Mountain. Here is this fantastic lodge, from the front.

Magazine Mountain Lodge


Here's the view from our window.

Magazine Mountain Lodge


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