Archive of Articles for August, 2018

Friday Talking Points [498] -- Remembering John McCain, Good And Bad

[ Posted Friday, August 31st, 2018 – 17:19 UTC ]

We have to begin today, sadly, by speaking ill of the dead. However, we do so respectfully (unlike some other folks have done this week). We fully realize it is a serious breach of etiquette, but in all the laudatory remarks given this week about the late Senator John McCain, there has been one glaring omission. Because, more than anyone else, John McCain is responsible for regularizing the concept that a know-nothing could be considered presidential. Some might push the blame back further, to George H. W. Bush, who selected Dan Quayle as his vice president, but McCain certainly shoulders the lion's share of this blame for deciding that Sarah Palin was qualified to be president. Anyone listening to her speak for more than two minutes could easily tell how misguided the idea of her running the country truly was, after all. And yet McCain went ahead and selected her anyway.

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The Final Propaganda Battle In The War On Weed

[ Posted Thursday, August 30th, 2018 – 17:23 UTC ]

The War On Weed's days are numbered. That should be pretty obvious, by now. State after state has jumped on the bandwagon against the War On Weed, liberalizing their harsh laws on cannabis through decriminalization, legalization of medicinal marijuana, or outright legalization for adult recreational use. In fact, it's getting harder and harder to find any states which haven't done so, in one form or another. Nationally, the public's attitude on the subject has gone through a sea change in the last two decades, and now polls regularly cite public support of complete legalization of marijuana at 60 percent or higher. The weed warriors, obviously, are losing the battle for hearts and minds, and they're losing almost all the battles at the ballot box. This long social warfare, stretching back almost a century, is finally almost over. In the end, sanity will prevail, and the nation's second Prohibition will finally be thrown on the ash heap of failed political and social policy.

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Four Progressive Candidates For Governor

[ Posted Wednesday, August 29th, 2018 – 17:46 UTC ]

Primary season is winding down, which means the slates have mostly been set for the midterm general election races across the country. Last night, two Progressives won Democratic nominations for governor, in Florida and Arizona. This means at least four such Progressives will be running in November, when you add in the races in Maryland and Georgia. Progressives haven't exactly swept the board in the primaries this year (many other Progressive candidates in various races have lost to Establishment Democrats), but this is still significant progress. But their chances of winning in November vary, so anyone looking for sweeping conclusions about the superiority (or inferiority) of a Progressive platform is almost sure to be disappointed. All of the candidates are people of color as well, which could also lead to erroneous conclusions by pundits looking to nationalize the story in some way. Different states and different candidates mean there likely won't be one single and obvious conclusion to draw, once the dust settles. You really have to take the races individually in order to accurately assess them on their own. So that's what we're going to do, in alphabetical order.

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Is Manafort About To Flip?

[ Posted Tuesday, August 28th, 2018 – 16:48 UTC ]

Paul Manafort, now an eight-time convicted felon, could be considering cutting a deal with Bob Mueller to avoid his second (and more serious) federal trial. The Wall Street Journal (not exactly a left-wing news source) is reporting that Manafort's team already explored the possibility of such a plea deal during the four-day period when the jury in his first trial was still deliberating. The plea talks broke down and no deal emerged, but the fact that such a discussion took place at all shows that Manafort's legal team knows full well the serious jeopardy their client is in. Today it was also reported that Manafort's second trial will be delayed for one week, at the request of the defense. Could the extra week be to work out a plea deal before the second trial even begins? Speculation is running rampant on that very question.

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Defining Impeachable

[ Posted Monday, August 27th, 2018 – 16:48 UTC ]

Today's question is a purely academic one, for the time being. What constitutes an impeachable offense for a United States president? What rises to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanors" and what falls short? The quick (but unsatisfying) answer to that is that anything that a majority of House members find impeachable is impeachable. This still leaves a lot of undefined territory, obviously, but it is indeed the only concrete standard that really exists.

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Friday Talking Points [497] -- Guilty Pleasures

[ Posted Friday, August 24th, 2018 – 17:41 UTC ]

We have to admit, we were torn when selecting this week's headline. The other candidate under consideration was: "Making Flippy Floppy," which of course was a Talking Heads song from the 1980s which contained the immortal line: "Our president's crazy / Did you hear what he said?" What with today's news of the Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization flipping after being granted immunity, this did seem like the obvious choice, since it followed the news of Michael Cohen and David Pecker of the National Enquirer also flipping on Trump. Oh, and the news of those 30 hours of testimony already given by White House Counsel Don McGahn, as well. But in the end, we weighted the uncontained glee which liberals everywhere greeted the news of the sixteen guilty verdicts/pleas this week more heavily, and had to go with acknowledging these guilty pleasures. Because no guilty verdicts/pleas have caused this much pleasure on the left since Scooter Libby's fall from grace.

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Elizabeth Warren's Swamp-Draining Bill

[ Posted Thursday, August 23rd, 2018 – 16:26 UTC ]

What with all the guilty pleas and verdicts for felony corruption in the news, it's hard for any other story to break through -- even one about a senator valiantly trying to end some of the most egregious forms of corruption in the nation's capital. Which is a shame, because Senator Elizabeth Warren's new bill deserves more attention than it has been getting -- maybe now more than ever.

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The Unindicted Co-Conspirator

[ Posted Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018 – 17:10 UTC ]

Listening to the ever-more-frantic attempts by Trump supporters to explain away all the rampant lawbreaking committed by his inner circle is certainly amusing, that much is for sure. I even heard the laughable: "Paul Manafort's going to walk away on 10 out of 18 charges!" Well, um, yeah... if he's lucky, in about 10-15 years he will be walking away; but that's hardly a stunning legal victory to brag about. Bob Mueller can always (if he chooses) retry Manafort on the 10 charges, but he may not even have to since Manafort still faces his second trial in a few weeks, on multiple other felony charges. But according to Sean Hannity, this is somehow all Hillary Clinton's fault -- can't forget to wow the audience with the oldies, right?

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Guilty. Guilty.

[ Posted Tuesday, August 21st, 2018 – 16:42 UTC ]

I have to admit, before we get started here, that there were several possibilities for today's title for me to consider. I could have done an homage to Watergate-era "Doonesbury," and gone with: "Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!" To be really pedantic would have been to list all sixteen counts of guilty which appeared in courtrooms today, but: "Guilty. Guilty. Guilty... (etc.)... Guilty." would have been rather annoying to read -- I couldn't even manage to type it out in full in this sentence. So in the end I went with just two Guiltys -- one for Paul Manafort's eight guilty verdicts, and one for Michael Cohen's eight guilty pleas, which he voluntarily gave in consideration of a plea deal. Guilty. Guilty. Insert your own "gavel hitting the bench" sounds, if you will....

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Maybe Now Congress Will Act On Marijuana Banking Reform?

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

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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