Archive

August 30th, 2016

Federal Marijuana Laws Reek of Hy-Pot-Crisy

    For a few brief months, it looked like America might take a step closer to sanity. And then came the news: the Obama administration will not loosen federal restrictions on marijuana after all.

    Before delving into the issue of marijuana, consider its two fellow “gateway drugs:” alcohol and tobacco. Aside from the potential benefits from drinking a glass of red wine, neither one is good for you.

    Alcohol can be incredibly harmful, either via acute alcohol poisoning or via chronic destruction to your life and liver. Cigarettes are always bad for you.

    All three—alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana—supposedly entice users to take a timid step into the world of drug use and then find themselves plunged all the way in with “harder” drugs like heroin, cocaine, or meth.

    And while illegal drugs like meth and heroin can ruin your life or kill you, so can legal ones like alcohol. Just ask any recovering alcoholic.

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Donald Trump, shifting tone, still tone deaf

    As Donald Trump expressed "regret" for saying "the wrong thing" sometimes in his campaign, I thought he was going to break into song:

    "Regrets, I've had a few/ But then again, too few to mention...."

    Yes, that line from Frank Sinatra's "My Way" (actually Paul Anka's rewrite of a French song) reflects the wealthy developer-turned-Republican presidential candidate's attitude in Charlotte, N.C., in his first speech since rebooting his failing campaign's leadership.

    Regrets? He's had a few, Trump tells us. But apparently they are too few to mention, since he didn't bother to mention any of them.

    Or more likely, listing his offenses against various groups and individuals -- varying from a Gold Star family to Fox News' Megyn Kelly -- would "take too much time," as he says of all "political correctness."

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Debt Collectors Get Away With Daylight Robbery

    I thought Donnie Trump and his fellow Republicans were big law ‘n order politicians. So, why are they trying to scrap the sheriff and unleash thousands of robbers to run wild across America?

    The sheriff they want to nix is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    The thieves they’re out to help are corporate debt collectors who pay pennies on the dollar for huge databases of overdue bills, then hound the borrowers to pay up.

    Debt collectors profit from weak regulations that let them bully, harass, and run roughshod over tens of thousands of consumers every year—including people who’ve already paid off their debt or never even incurred it.

    Every year, debt collection firms routinely abuse the law and overload our courts by filing hundreds of thousands of lawsuits against debtors.

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Clinton is making her trust problem worse

    Hillary Clinton enjoys about a five-point polling lead over Donald Trump. One way to look at this is that it's a margin, at this stage of a presidential race, that is rarely reversed.

    Here's another way. The Democrats had a successful convention; the Republicans didn't. Clinton's campaign has been smooth; Trump's has careened between disasters. She has reached out to independents and Republicans; he has insulted the family of a soldier killed in Iraq, along with people with disabilities, Latinos and women. Clinton has outspent him 3 to 1.

    And she's ahead by only five percentage points.

    Most political experts are confident she'll win -- the political website FiveThirtyEight's election forecast, for example, pegs the probability at 77 percent or 85 percent, depending which measures are included. But the comparative closeness of the race underscores her problems.

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Are Hillary's emails Donald's lifeline?

    A judge's order that nearly 15,000 previously undisclosed emails from Hillary Clinton's private server may possibly be released has given Donald Trump's campaign a much-needed diversion to turn the public spotlight back onto her one glaring political vulnerability -- her trustworthiness.

    The order was obtained by Judicial Watch, the conservative legal hound dog sniffing around her involvement with the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state during Obama's first term. The order requires the State Department to review the emails and provide the court an accelerated timetable for possible public release by Sept. 23, meaning previously unseen emails could become public before the Nov. 8 presidential election.

    Trump has made clear he hopes they will add fuel to his claim that Clinton used State Department influence to reward major foundation donors in support of his label for her, "crooked Hillary."

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Anne Frank Today Is a Syrian Girl

    On April 30, 1941, a Jewish man here in Amsterdam wrote a desperate letter to an American friend, pleading for help emigrating to the United States.

    “U.S.A. is the only country we could go to,” he wrote. “It is for the sake of the children mainly.”

    A volunteer found that plea for help in 2005 when she was sorting old World War II refugee files in New York City. It looked like countless other files, until she saw the children’s names.

    “Oh my God,” she said, “this is the Anne Frank file.”

    Along with the letter were many others by Otto Frank, frantically seeking help to flee Nazi persecution and obtain a visa to America, Britain or Cuba — but getting nowhere because of global indifference to Jewish refugees.

    We all know that the Frank children were murdered by the Nazis, but what is less known is the way Anne’s fate was sealed by a callous fear of refugees, among the world’s most desperate people.

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Trump's 360-degree 'pivot'

    Donald Trump's "pivot," desperately hoped for by sane Republicans, was over before it began. He couldn't pretend to be inclusive and statesmanlike for two days in a row if his life depended on it.

    Anyone who doubts this should only consider Trump's idea of an appeal to African-American voters: "What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump? What do you have to lose? You're living in poverty. Your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?"

    That's right, black Americans. The Republican candidate for president says you live Hobbesian lives of misery and despair, with no options, no prospects, no joy, no hope. Oh, and he wants your vote.

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Trump never really had an immigration policy

    Donald Trump made a seemingly momentous announcement on Monday, jettisoning a presidential campaign's worth of assertions that he would deport millions of undocumented immigrants and close what he has repeatedly called an "open" border.

    Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly, who interviewed Trump, was obviously stunned. After telling Trump that the news media is "running wild with this," he asked Trump point blank: "Are you really rethinking your mass deportation strategy?"

    Trump's response ought to be devastating to a candidate who made deportation and a border wall the centerpiece of his candidacy. "I just want to follow the law," he said. "What I'm doing is following the law."

    The law, of course, has no funding for mass deportation. And the Obama administration's interpretation of that law enables millions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. while authorities focus enforcement resources on apprehending and deporting criminal aliens.

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The South lost the war but keeps winning the battle over Confederate memorials

    The Johnny Reb statue in Alexandria, known as Appomattox, should remain at the intersection of Prince and Washington streets, a racially divided citizens' advisory group recommended to the city council last week. But to appease those who are offended by the statue, the city should make "additional efforts to add context to its story."

    The seven-member Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Confederate Memorials and Street Names included two African Americans. Neither supported the group's findings.

    One of them, Eugene Thompson, founding director of the Alexandria Black History Museum and a member of the Alexandria Society for the Preservation of Black Heritage, explained his stance in an email: "I am not looking for any context to be added to the statue. I think it should be moved, but it cannot be moved without permission of the state. If the city is not going to ask the state for permission to one day move the statue, then we should stop discussing the statue."

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The beginning of the end of angry white males

    You can argue about when the contemporary era of white male reaction in American politics began. But surely March 8, 1970, four days after National Guardsmen opened fire on students at Kent State University, deserves a hearing.

    On that day, a student protest in Manhattan against the shootings in Ohio was met by a counteroffensive -- the "Hard Hat Riot." Dozens of construction workers organized, marched and clobbered the protesters, kicking them and beating them with hard hats in what the New York Times described as a "wild noontime melee."

    The construction workers were sick of hippies, sick of leftists, sick of privileged college kids complaining about the war and the draft and the country. Some rioters branched off to Pace University, near City Hall, where they beat up more kids after having been pelted with objects hurled from the school's roof. Less than three weeks later, President Richard Nixon welcomed a delegation of hard hats to the White House.

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