Republicans in the House have announced they are now ready to do something on immigration. I only mention this in passing here, because the entire talking points section is going to be devoted to a warning for Democrats: there will be traps laid by the Republicans, so Democrats have to be vigilant about defusing each one as it pops up.
Archive of Articles for January, 2014
What prompted this column (clippy though it may be) was the breaking news that House Republicans have leaked a two-page document to the press outlining their priorities in new immigration bills. The first thing they stress is the plurality of that last word -- as in "bills," and not "bill." Republicans have, of late, developed a bizarre and unreasonable fear over legislation that they consider long and hard to read. They score some sort of political points with their base by opposing such bills, which is inexplicable outside of that base, so we'll just accept it as fact so we can all then move along. The House Republicans will have lots of little bills rather than one big bill -- that's a given, at this point.
Last night, President Obama gave his annual address to Congress and the American people. Reactions, as usual, were all over the map. Listening to some of them, though, I found myself wondering what will happen if the conventional Washington wisdom proves wrong in the 2014 midterm election. Because while I didn't actually hear anyone toss out the "lame duck" term to describe Obama, most commentators were assuming that it's going to be a good Republican year at the polls, and that the only real question is whether Republicans will win control of the Senate or not. But what if this proves not to be true? Call me a cock-eyed optimist if you will, but I couldn't help wondering how different next year's State Of The Union speech will be if Democrats have a much better year than expected, and not only hold the Senate but win control of the House.
OK, as usual, I'm sitting down to write this without really dipping into the oceans of ink (and electrons) that are being spilled right now by other pundits, so that my reactions to both the "State Of The Union" speech and the Republican response are untainted by either groupthink or the herd mentality. So there's a very good chance (as always) that what I thought will be a long way away from what others think (on both sides of the aisle).
We would like to take the time to mark the passing of a great American, Pete Seeger.
As the city of Washington prepares for its time in the spotlight tomorrow night (the "State Of The Union" speech being approximately Washington's "Oscar night" on primetime television), pundits will go into overdrive on the question of "what it all means," for roughly the next week or so. Every paragraph of the speech will be examined microscopically, supporters will cheer, opponents will boo, and conclusions will be drawn among the inside-the-Beltway set.
Sooner or later, though, whether it is 2014 or 2016 or beyond, the "Year Of The Marijuana Voter" is coming.
Some in the political world shy away from insanely-early election analysis. It is somehow unseemly (or even downright shameful), these people tell us, to indulge in speculation about an election too far in advance. These are the same type of people who point out that there's an election this year to get through first, for Pete's sake.
A new and extensive interview with President Obama recently appeared in the pages of The New Yorker magazine. In the middle of this wide-ranging piece there is a short section where interviewer David Remnick asks the president -- after previously discussing his "evolution" on gay marriage -- about his views on marijuana and the law. Obama answered with as honest an evaluation as I think I have ever heard from an occupant of the Oval Office, during my entire lifetime. Which makes me wonder a bit, since it is indeed that season of year when presidents traditionally "run a few things up the flagpole to see who salutes" (as they say). In the weeks just before the State Of The Union address, pet policy ideas are often floated in just such a fashion, in an attempt to gauge public reaction to new ideas or proposals. Perhaps I'm wrong about all of this, but the timing did seem more than a little coincidental.
For those of you not up on the lingo of the marijuana subculture, that headline is meant to be a pun of sorts, combining the Super Bowl (more on this in a moment) with the phrase "packing a bowl." Barack Obama, back in his "Choom Gang" days, would certainly have known what this is meant to refer to -- cramming marijuana in the bowl of a pipe constructed to smoke the substance.