Five towns saved from ruin by the booming legal weed industry. Following the example of voters, legislatures are trying to legalize marijuana. States move fast to protect pot industry. Bipartisan marijuana legalization bill gets renewed push.
Clock ticking on marijuana legalization decision in Vermont. Both sides in Vermont marijuana legalization debate try to influence governor’s decision.Vermont DIY approach to marijuana. Revenue from legalized marijuana in Connecticut won’t offset the human costs. Connecticut Democrats will push legalizing pot as part of budget fix. Rhode Island could study, delay legal marijuana debate.
California lawmakers seek to ban marijuana oil processing labs from neighborhoods. California pot czar expects lag time for testing newly legal weed. Pot convictions go up in smoke with California legalization. This cannabis project will help military veterans get jobs in the California marijuana industry. California considers sanctuary state legislation to protect pot industry. Adelanto, California, wants to be the Silicon Valley of marijuana.
Arkansas legal marijuana still a no-no for law officers. A tourist guide to navigating Arkansas marijuana market. Colorado lawmakers continue to regulate legal marijuana. Marijuana growers sow displacement fears in Denver. Washington law paves way for organic marijuana market.
Nevada marijuana sales permit application period begins. Ohio supreme court judge calls for legalization of marijuana. Organization looks to get South Dakota marijuana legalization on the 2018 ballot.
Marijuana is cheaper in states where it’s legal.
Brendan Buck is Chief Communications Advisor to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Last week – Was it only last week? – Buck got in hot water because he falsely denied that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy had said that Donald Trump and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher were being paid by Russia. When initially confronted, Buck flatly stated: “That never happened.” Confronted with the existence of a tape, Buck shifted gears to say that Rep. McCarthy was merely joking.
I’m glad Buck was called out for his lie. In fairness, this wasn’t entirely a lie. McCarthy was sort of joking. Of course, Buck’s comment wasn’t entirely truthful, either. The joke – to the extent it was a joke – rested on the accurate premise that President Trump and Rep. Rohrabacher are weirdly close to Vladimir Putin in a way that demands further scrutiny.
But here’s the real irony. Buck was humiliated over a lie that was far less significant – and really less of a lie – than many policy statements emerging from his own office that receive far less attention.
If you tell a verified lie about some political scandal, you are in trouble in Washington. You can’t say “I did not have sex with that woman,” or “I did not have communications with the Russians” without consequence. But if you lie about policy – for example to say that having Medicaid is no better than being uninsured, or that you are expanding access while leaving 23 million people without health insurance – you’ll usually get a pass. The disparate response to political lies and policy lies is one cause and symptom of our broken politics.
More here on policy lies in AHCA….
The compounded misbehavior in Bozeman yesterday has to appall any decent observer, a complete breakdown of order and decency. We should note first the only participant who comes out of it with his reputation intact, Greg Gianforte, a Trump soldier who knows how to stay on message and follow his orders both specific (“Beat the s__t out of them!”) and general: hurt the weak [GG appears to have about a foot and twenty pounds on Jacobs], beat the press, and so on. If he gets to Washington he can surely be trusted to bravely smite the sick and the poor when the time comes.
Everything goes to pieces after that, though. A Fox News crew was present and truculently went completely insubordinate, telling the truth both in their dispatches and to the authorities with no consideration of the damage it would do to a notable Republican. With minions like this, Fox’s whole mission is at risk.
Then there’s the sheriff, who had everything he needed to arrest Jacobs for armed [a recording device attested by all witnesses, and a direct question to a candidate] assault with intent to cause great political harm. Gianforte’s flack Scanlon spelled it out for him right away, with the magic words “liberal reporter.” But does he? He does not; he treacherously cites Gianforte, to whose campaign he had donated! No, it doesn’t redeem him that he smoothed out felony assault and battery into a misdemeanor.
Poor Gianforte; three Montana papers have unendorsed him. He followed the code of the West (“do unto others before they can do unto you“) and everyone walked away from him, just like the craven citizens in High Noon.
It will not be possible to tell, or even firmly conjecture, what is really going on with Trump and the Russians for months. Pieces of the puzzle are raining down, faster than any can be carefully examined, each one a shocker that would have triggered incredulity in a sane age, not to mention Republican self-preservation distancing. It beggars belief that within six months of a historic electoral victory, the GOP’s “Si, se puede!” has already turned into “Sal si puedes!” with sharks circling the foundering ship. But here’s what makes sense to me tonight.
Trump is Putin’s stooge, end of story. It’s the only way to understand the consistency and doggedness of his self-destructive behavior in all things Russian or Russian-tainted. He’s handcuffed on a long-term and a more recent chain that he cannot break. He’s not an ideal stooge, because of his own ignorance and lack of self-control, but he’s what Putin has.
The first chain is a set of financial obligations going back to the time when no-one with a desk and a window would do business with him or lend him money because of his colossal business failures. The Russians, in various assortments and, it now appears, using the very pliant Deutsche Bank among other pipelines, loansharked him to get back in the game; they own him through their ability to ruin him, and his complete inability to think of himself as anything but a great tycoon. His tax returns will go a long way to confirming or refuting this. Maybe he just owes them money he can’t pay, maybe the actual financing was criminal and he can’t reveal the details, maybe both. Remember Chili Palmer’s précis of the loan shark’s method: “in those cases, I’m the one inflicting the pain.”
The second leash on which Putin has Trump, snapped on over the last year, is that Trump knows that Putin knows everything the congressional investigators, Mueller, and the press want to know, and all of it is arrows aimed at Trump’s heart. If Trump doesn’t behave, Putin can save the gumshoes a lot of time by simply sharing some documents, memos, and audio, from the campaign and more recently, that will at least put Trump out of office and may well put him in jail. It is interesting to speculate how much of all this Trump has shared with his toadies, including his kids, and what nightmares they have about being disgraced and poor when it hits the fan; Madoff kept it all a secret from his family until the end.
It must be infuriating to Putin that when he has finally ensnared a conscience-free American president, his tool turns out to be such a tool. It’s not so easy to weaponize a loose cannon with radiantly incompetent lieutenants who can’t even fold their own parachutes, the attention span of a gnat, and a memory that can’t retain anything but the odd slight–a lame Trojan horse with glanders and bloat, who believes himself to be Pegasus. But I guess you go to war with the stooge you can capture.
Four years ago, I wrote a glowing review of a documentary, Queen of Versailles. Can’t imagine what brought this to mind.
…The second-most-astonishing aspect of this film is even sadder. I tuned in expecting to see the usual diverting reality-TV real-estate porn. Yet the wealth generated and consumed in this film just provides very little value or real enjoyment to anyone.
David Siegel runs Westgate Resorts. He made his money by selling people timeshares they really can’t afford. For a time, Westgate generates great opulence for the Siegel family. But what comes of that wealth? Unlike (say) Steve Jobs, David Siegel doesn’t create beautiful and useful innovations that make our lives noticeably better. Unlike Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, Siegel has no philanthropic vision to channel his wealth for worthy purposes.
Unlike millions of prosperous, albeit less cosmically-wealthy Americans, the Siegels don’t seem to use their wealth to make people close to them safe and happy. David Siegel’s checkered history with his adult son exemplifies things. Their relationship is strictly business. Then there is Jackie’s high school best friend. She’s a single mom who ends up in foreclosure. Jackie sends her $5,000 in an apparently unsuccessful effort to forestall the foreclosure. If I had the cash to construct a $100 million mansion, my best friend wouldn’t lose her modest home.
The Siegel family’s spiritual emptiness—I don’t know how else to say it– is rather heartbreaking. The Siegel children don’t seem to be turning out very well –except perhaps for his teenage daughter who in one scene rightly and righteously chews Siegel out for being a jerk to the rest of the family. [Heartbreaking post-script: This young woman subsequently died of an accidental drug overdose.] It’s hardly surprising that the kids are irresponsible and bratty, given their father’s narcissism and plain meanness.
Jackie Siegel is a beautiful, sweet, and vacuous trophy wife. She accumulates warehouses full of expensive junk for what is expected to be America’s biggest mansion. She has too many kids, too many toys, too many rooms, animals, too many nannies and servants. She even has too many inches on her bustline after (what I assume to be) ludicrous surgical enlargement shown off through her correspondingly ridiculous cleavage-displaying wardrobe.
Her husband treats her with blatant disrespect. When she turns forty, he jokes that he will replace her with two twenty-year-olds. Or maybe when she’s sixty he will replace her with three twenty-year-olds. He comments on camera that being married to her is like having another child.
Westgate teeters on the edge of collapse when it’s hit by the financial crisis. Both Siegel and his adult son protest that the banks got them hooked on cheap credit and are now trying to take over the jewels of their empire. Truthfully, though, everyone seems to lose in this story. The banks don’t get their principal back. The huge mansion is last seen as an unfinished and unsold construction project. Westgate teeters on the edge of ruin. Employees are laid off. Timeshare owners are foreclosed or left holding the bag for an over-valued properties.
We get to know two responsible adults in the entire film. The first is the limo driver (himself a failed real estate speculator). We also watch a heartrending interview with their Philippine nanny who relaxes in a big former playhouse of the Siegel children and who sends money back to her real family overseas.
I take it from later news that Siegel eventually landed on his feet. I guess that’s good. During the 2012 campaign, he got public attention as one of those crazy entitled CEOs who threatened to fire his workforce if Obama won reelection. In the end, Siegel didn’t go through with it.
I take it that he’s back on top again. He’s restarting construction on his 90,000 square-foot palace. It’s an old story, though. This man remains a pitiful figure.
Three years after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the state’s mandatory sentencing laws unconstitutional, the state’s DAs and some of the other usual law-‘n’-order suspects managed to get a bill restoring them (even the “school-zone” mandatory, which I thought went out with disco) through the state’s House of Representatives. Today the Judiciary Committee of the State Senate held a hearing on the question.
My prepared remarks are below, after the jump. My oral presentation was somewhat less restrained; after two hours of listening to people assert that objecting to cruel and ineffective punishment proposals must reflect an indifference to the suffering of crime victims, I pretty much lost it: Without raising my voice, I pointed out that the vaunted capacity of prosecutors wielding the threat of long mandatory terms to convert lower-level offenders into “cooperating” witnesses against higher-ups faced the same logical and moral objections as using the threat of torture for the same purpose: the incentive to testify is just as strong for false testimony as for true testimony. If it’s obviously immoral to threaten to break someone’s arms if he won’t testify, and if spending five extra years behind bars is worse than having your arms broken, then why is it considered OK to exact testimony under the threat of an additional five-year prison term?
The broader point is, I think, straightforward. You can decompose the question of mandatories into two sub-questions:
- Would it be a good idea to have more prisoners than we have now?
- For any given number of prisoners, will a system of mandatory sentencing – especially for drug offenses – do a better job of crime control than letting the judges decide?
In each case, it seems to me, the answer is obviously “no.” The case on the other side consisted entirely of insisting that crime was a very, very bad thing and ignoring the notion that sentencing has opportunity costs.
I had lots of good company, including Al Blumstein of Carnegie Mellon, John Wetzel and Bret Bucklen of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, former Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey (now chairing the Pennsylvania Crime Commission), and Kevin Ring of FAMM. I thought the good guys clearly won the debate on points; who has the votes is, of course, a different question.
Video here. My piece starts at Minute 114. (Look for the thumbs-up from Al Blumstein when I’m done. Made my week.)
Colorado marijuana sales top $131M, set record in March 2017. Colorado lawmakers celebrate major accomplishments to end legislative session. California Attorney General defends state’s marijuana laws. Wine country looking more like cannabis country in California. Nevada Senate Democrats want to tax weed at higher rate than governor does. Arizona pot proponents split.
Vermont awaits decision from governor on legalization of pot. Massachusetts marijuana regulations still undecided 6 months after legalization. Delaware introduces marijuana legalization, but many critics remain. Recreational pot could become legal in New Jersey under new bill. Support for marijuana legalization continues to grow in Pennsylvania. Legal marijuana should be sold at Pennsylvania state liquor stores.
Canada legal pot next year means leaving UN treaties by July 1 — but the Liberals won’t say what their plan is. Different takes for different provinces as Canada moves to legalize pot. Canada feds collecting data to help stamp out illegal market.
UK Liberal Democrats will pledge to completely legalise cannabis.
Consider where we’d be if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency. Benghazi would be resurrected; the email scandal would have been the subject of at least two congressional investigations; any progress in terms of the policies she and the Democratic Party had espoused would not only have been ignored, but would have been scathingly addressed – and the Donald would have been shouting “Fraud!” from the hilltops.
True, we’re in a parlous situation with our current administration, but look at what has been taking place throughout the country. If anything, the republic is in better shape for having this cartoon character “running” the country. The Republican Party is in a real quandary, with essentially every one of its priorities (the wall, immigration, health care, Social Security, tax “reform”) unable to get any traction. With a Clinton administration in power, they would probably have been able to pass their legislative agenda, but it would have been subject to veto after veto, hardly endearing Clinton to the country. As it now stands, we will have to suffer through a crazy time, at least until November 2018, at which time (from my lips …) the Democrats will take back at least the Senate, and Trump will throw in the towel.
Since an unsustainable situation won’t go on forever, it seems that something will have to put an end to the Trump (mal)Administration. But what?
He could be removed from office by impeachment and conviction, and that’s obviously the right course of action. But – for the moment – it’s equally obviously infeasible politically.
He could also – once Mueller has done his job – be indicted for and convicted of a variety of crimes, but there’s some doubt as to whether a sitting President can be indicted. (I think he can, since the Constitution does not protect him as it protects Members of Congress, but there’s no precedent and therefore no authoritative statement of the law.)
On the other hand, he could clearly be indicted for state crimes by state prosecutors, and the New York AG might have the nerve to do it and the skill to obtain a conviction. That little-discussed option might be the actual outcome, but it’s not on the horizon right now.