Florida’s Medical Marijuana Amendment a Dopey Idea

Let me say right out of the gate that I’m in favor of some form of marijuana legalization.  I would support H.R. 499, which would remove marijuana from coverage under the Controlled Substances Act.  States would still be free to regulate or ban marijuana as they chose, but it would no longer be a federal issue.

As a political issue, it seems a foregone conclusion.  States that are legalizing Marijuana for either medical or recreational reasons are popping up at each election cycle.  Gallup shows that the majority of Americans now support marijuana legalization.  A mixed bag of Institutions and people now support marijuana legalization. This past year, the editorial board of the New York Times endorsed marijuana legalization; however the editorial board of the conservative flagship magazine National Review beat them to the punch by 18 years.  From Rand Paul, to David Koch to Pat Robertson; many figures on the right have spoken out in support of marijuana legalization.

However where we are now, is that even though several States have legalized medical marijuana, it’s still illegal at the federal level.  This means even though if you are in a State that has some sort of marijuana legalization, and can smoke a joint in front of your local sheriff, a federal agent could walk right up behind you and arrest you.

After all, marijuana is still illegal everywhere in the country under federal law.

What this means in the real world is that pot is still illegal, but various states have decided to facilitate breaking the law, whether it’s under the rubric of “medical” marijuana or in a more honest version, like Colorado where it’s available for recreational use.  This is the rankest sort of hypocrisy that would normally be a red flag to the young people who are more likely than not favor some version of pot legalization.  But in the case of pot…eh…they’ll let the hypocrisy slide.

And it is hypocrisy because for all practical purposes, “medical’ marijuana doesn’t exist.  Oh I realize there have been studies that have shown benefits to glaucoma patients, and for some chemotherapy patients, it’s allowed them to get their appetites back in the recovery from each chemo session, but that’s not who makes up the typical medical marijuana patient.  California provides a good case study since it’s had medical marijuana longer than any state in the nation. As writer David Frum noted recently:

“To understand where the marijuana debate is going, it’s important to appreciate that “medical marijuana” is a laughable fiction. In California, the typical user of so called medical marijuana s a 32-year-old white man with no life-threatening illness but a long record of substance abuse.

Under Colorado’s now-superseded medical marijuana regime, only 2% of those prescribed marijuana suffered from cancer, and only 1% from HIV/AIDS. Some 94% cited unspecified “pain” as the justification for their pot prescription. False patients find unscrupulous doctors: in Oregon, only 10 practitioners write the majority of all marijuana prescriptions in the state.” 

Even pro-pot Reason magazine noted that in California:

The top three reasons physicians gave for recommending marijuana were “back/spine/neck pain” (31 percent), “sleep disorders” (16 percent), and “anxiety/depression” (13 percent).

In other words, total bullshit reasons.

So now, medical marijuana has come to Florida.  Amendment 2 to the Florida constitution is on the ballot for Election Day, November 4th. Like other medical marijuana proposals, Florida’s is a sham for the purpose of legalizing pot under a fig leaf of medical diagnoses.  And this is the fig leaf from the defining of the phrase debilitating medical condition:

The measure defines a “debilitating medical condition” as cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, hepatitis C, HIV, AIDS, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease “or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.

So in other words, anything, like undiagnosed back pain, anxiety, and trouble sleeping would warrant a “prescription” for pot. So as far as Florida’s medical marijuana amendment goes, sorry but I’ll (puff puff) pass.

This constitutional amendment, like others in the State of Florida, are not the product a grassroots movement of people in the state, it’s the product of special interests.  In this case, the special interest is the PAC People United for Medical Marijuana, which is the creation of Florida attorney John Morgan.  For those unfamiliar with Florida, Morgan is the state’s equivalent of Boss Hogg.  He runs the most powerful personal injury law firm in Florida, and the power of his advertising dollar buys compliance from local Florida media.  Morgan has personally contributed over 3 and a half million dollars to the PAC, which is more than half the amount the PAC has raised.John Morgan

Morgan has a public reason for supporting medical marijuana, a paralyzed brother who depends on pot to dull the pain from his accident. That could be a perfectly legitimate reason if not for the timing of it.

Charlie Crist, the Democratic candidate for governor, works for Morgan in his law firm.  In fact, it was under Morgan’s tutelage that Crist, a former Republican who became an independent when he lost his senate primary run against Marco Rubio, was baptized as a Democrat.  All Crist had to do was reverse every single public position he ever had; a simple enough task for Crist.  Now Florida is a purple state trending blue. Obama won the state twice, but Florida also put in a Tea Party backed Republican governor, Rick Scott, in 2010.  How can that be?

Florida’s governor’s race is on what are nationally off year elections.  Although nationally this is an off year election since no President is on the ballot, in Florida, we elect governors.  Since the turn out for off year elections tends to run older, whiter, and more Republican, it’s no surprise that Florida gets a bit schizophrenic, turning red and electing a Tea party backed governor and senator (Marco Rubio) during off year elections like 2010, and re-electing President Obama and Democratic senator Bill Nelson during a Presidential election year.

So this year, it’s an off year election.  Now if you were a high rolling Democratic fundraiser and player, and had your employee running for governor, a man with no convictions at all, ready to serve and obey you, how could you increase Democratic turnout to get your guy over the top?  Let’s see, what would be an issue that might draw out young people and get them to the polls during an off year election that most of them have no real interest in?

I guess it’s a real head scratcher.

 

Dear Senator Rubio

This afternoon the Senate passed its version of Immigration Reform, 68-32.  14 Republicans voted for the bill, including my Senator, Marco Rubio, severely damaging his chances for the Republican nomination in 2016.

English: Former Speaker of the Florida House a...

English: Former Speaker of the Florida House at CPAC in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As frequent readers to this blog know, I strongly oppose the current Senate Immigration Bill and the concept of blanket amnesty in general.  I’ve contacted my Congressman on this and am satisfied that we are of like minds on the issue.  However my Senators are another story.  Bill Nelson is Harry Reid’s lapdog so he does whatever he’s told.  Marco Rubio on the other hand, is one of the architects of this immigration proposal.  If there has been a bigger Tea Party disappointment in both the House and Senate, I can’t think who it would be.

I tried calling the Senator’s office this week and got a voicemail to leave my comments after the beep.  Unsurprisingly, the box was full.  Apparently I’m not alone.  So I wrote this letter and emailed it to the Senator.

Dear Senator Rubio,

As your constituent, I have to say that you’ve profoundly disappointed me.  But what really bothers me is that you’ve managed to fool me.   I remember your debate with Charlie Crist in which you took the risky position (in Florida) that Social Security may have to be trimmed in order to save the program.  You took a difficult and courageous political position while Crist looked like a weasel in comparison.  “That’s a guy I can get behind.”  I thought to myself.

And I did.  I voted for you and was proud to do it.  I had heard you speak enough times that I felt sure of your Tea Party bonafides.  You sir, were the real deal.

Or at least that’s what I thought.  I knew you had a special interest in immigration, but you had spoken out against amnesty enough in the campaign that I didn’t think that you were secretly harboring that as a legislative goal.  I was sympathetic to your Dream Act proposal.  Those kids didn’t commit crimes.  They were brought into this country when they were too young to have any moral responsibility for what their parents did.  Some sort of accommodation should be made for them.

After the border was secure of course.

But instead you rolled me.  Me, and many others who had voted for you.  After the experience of Obamacare, I wouldn’t have thought a Republican, let alone a Tea Party “darling” would support any bill that is billed as “comprehensive.”  The purpose of comprehensive bills is to smuggle in what you really want by covering it with tons of other things.  That’s certainly what your comprehensive immigration bill does.  Every day I’m reading of new revelations of Easter eggs buried in your bill.  You know them of course, since you helped put them there.

I’m not opposed to cooperating with Democrats; that’s politics after all.  I’m upset that you are not representing a Republican or conservative position in immigration reform.  This wasn’t a compromise; this is a Democratic / liberal bill.  You’ve merely provided cover for a liberal bill.  I can’t tell where you begin and Chuck Schumer ends.  Do you have any differences on this issue?

Frankly, I can’t see that I’ve gotten anything different from you than if Charlie Crist had won the senatorial nomination.  Oh one thing; Crist was honest about his support for amnesty.  He didn’t lie about it like you did.  You may argue that technically you weren’t lying, “go back and check the transcript!”  But if you were parsing your words from the beginning, then what other conclusion can I draw but that you intended to deceive?

Virtually everything you’ve promised has already been promised in the Simpson-Mazzoli bill.  Since we didn’t get any of the border security promises then, why should I think we would get them now?

I can see both the political and policy benefits for the Democrats.  It will over the long run provide millions of Democratic voters, effectively neutering the Republicans as a national party.  Policy-wise it creates an ever expanding underclass that will need the entitlement services that the Democrats will be peddling.  The Democrats have been at their strongest when, as FDR said, “one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, and ill-fed.”

That’s what you are importing.

Your position doesn’t even make sense on its own merits.  It goes without saying its bad politics.  It’s a slow motion suicide of the Republican Party as a national contender, but I could forgive that if it was good policy.  But it’s not.  It’s bad policy too.  It lowers the wage rates of the native working poor, it increases income inequality, it increases by millions the numbers of American poor, it inflicts long term financial stress on our entitlement programs, and creates a massive new underclass.

Your bill is unfair.  It grants sweeping immunity for crimes that would throw a citizen in jail.  And no, I’m not talking about merely crossing the border illegally or overstaying a visa.  Using,  false identification and Social Security numbers aren’t minor misdemeanors, they are felonies.  How can that possibly be justified?

Since you seem committed to this dangerous course of action, you’ve left me and many others no choice but to support your primary opponent for your re-election, whoever that may be.  And there will be a primary opponent.  Don’t think that your former supporters will shrug and figure better you than a Republican who can’t will the general election or a Democrat.  If your bill becomes law, in the long run there won’t be a real future for Republicans anyway.  So if you are going to burn down the house, I want to at least make sure you don’t get re-elected to collect the insurance money.

Of all the political issues I’ve researched, I’ve never understood how someone on the right could support blanket amnesty.  If there is an intelligent argument to be made on its behalf, I’m still waiting to hear it.  Instead, I hear insults to my intelligence like the kind your fellow gang member, Senator Graham offers.

You really had a promising political future and I’m flummoxed at why you decided to throw it away in order to help Democratic political ambitions.

Sincerely,

A Republican Primary Voter

If I get anything more than an automated response to this, I’ll be sure and post it, but won’t expect any sort of response.  Rubio, even if ever read this, which is unlikely, won’t have an answer for it.

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Republicans Cannot Be Trusted On Immigration

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership...

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As Senator Ted Cruz said last week, “I don’t trust Republicans.”

I agree.  Although Cruz was talking about budget negotiations, to me it applies to the issue of immigration more than any other issue.  That’s because so many Republicans are not only prepared to vote for amnesty, they are actively campaigning for it, even though it is not only damaging public policy, but damaging to those same Republican’s political futures.

At least with the Democrats, I perfectly understand their motivations for wanting amnesty, and frankly, from their perspective they seem totally logical to me.  It’s bad public policy for the nation, but its great political policy.  For the Democrats, out of a possible 11 million new voters 10 to 15 years from now, 9 million will vote for Democrats.  That’s enough to turn the rest of the Southwest, including Texas, deep blue.  Without Texas, the Republicans are no longer viable as a national party.

And from a policy perspective, that adds 11 million more citizens in which ¾ of them don’t even have a high school diploma and virtually none of them have the high tech skills required for the 21st century workplace.  That means most of them will live and die below the mean income level, and will be major consumers of social programs.  That’s voting gold for the Democrats.  The Democratic Party was never stronger as when FDR saw “one third of a nation, ill housed, ill clad, ill nourished.”  Importing millions to fill that gap helps create the very conditions of income inequality and widespread poverty that is the fertile ground for Democratic power.

But what do the Republicans get out of it?

That is the real head scratcher.  Of course there are some aspects of big business that do use unskilled and semi skilled labor that really like the downward push on working class wage rates that increased numbers of unskilled workers provide.  Certainly the Wall Street Journal Opinion page is filled with pro illegal immigration editorials.  But for most businesses interested in immigration, the demand isn’t for millions of unskilled workers but for hundreds of thousands of skilled workers, which current immigration law limits to a mere trickle.

Politically, it seems to make even less sense.  There isn’t any evidence that pro illegal immigration positions help Republican candidates.  A recent CIS study showed that Latinos in pro-immigration Republican Districts were no more likely to vote for Republicans than Latinos living in anti-illegal immigration Republican Districts.  Certainly it didn’t help Senator John McCain in his 2008 Presidential bid.  And of course, what is the political advantage of ensuring that your political party remains a minority party for the foreseeable future?

And yet…  Republicans, including conservatives, are falling all over each other to support the Gang of 8 bill.  Fox talker Sean Hannity even hosted a one hour special for Marco Rubio last Friday that did little more than pimp the bill with friendly “questions” and a generally pro bill agenda.  Hard as I try, I can’t see a rational reason to support this.  Bad public policy, bad political strategy… what am I missing?

My suspicion is that I’m not missing much, and that the real problem with Republicans is that they think they can buy Latino votes with the bribery that has proven so successful for the Democratic Party for decades. But the Democrats can’t be outbid.  There is no line that Republicans can draw that Democrats won’t cross to buy more votes.  Republicans were just as delusional in 1986 when they accepted a “one time’ amnesty with the promise that this would be the last one and that Latinos would now love Republicans.

Instead we lost California permanently.  Well, if Republicans regard Texas as an embarrassment they can’t wait to be rid of, they are well on their way.  The Democrats won’t be embarrassed by Texas at all once they own it.

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Why Is Rubio in the Gang of 8?

Contrary to popular opinion, both in the national press and in the Republican Party, the conservative movement is split on the amnesty issue.  Just cast your mind all the way back to…last year.  During the Republican Primary battles, all of the conservative candidates were in favor of some version of amnesty.  The single hold out?  Mitt Romney, the “moderate.”

English: Former Speaker of the Florida House a...

English: Former Speaker of the Florida House at CPAC in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So it’s a confusing battle space that has anti tax activist Grover Norquist on the same side as liberal Senator Chuck Schumer, and moderate, establishment Republican columnist David Frum on the anti amnesty side while traditional conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer is pro amnesty.  On the talk radio side the views are more what you would expect, Rush Limbaugh  and Mark Levin are reliably anti-amnesty, however Sean Hannity switched sides after the election and now supports amnesty (although he is still cagey about it).  Otherwise, things are more what you would expect from a conservative split on immigration.  The neo-cons are pro amnesty (think William Kristol) and the paleo-cons are anti (think Pat Buchanan).

So where does that leave Tea Party darling Marco Rubio?  Square in the middle.

Rubio is a real conservative.  I’ve listened to enough politicians talk to know when they are the real deal and when they are just using the conservative movement to advance their own careers  *cough* Newt Gingrich* cough.

Rubio has long been a supporter of some variation of the Dream Act, which are a series of proposals to legalize illegal aliens brought over as children.  Given that as children they didn’t really have a choice about crossing the border illegally; it’s fairly easy to make the moral case to anti-amnesty conservatives for creating some mechanism for them to stay, after border security.  But it was a shock when he joined in with a group of liberal Senators and pro-amnesty Republicans, the Gang of 8, to craft a comprehensive immigration bill.

First, it was a shock that after the disaster of Obamacare, any Republican Senator would try to make common cause on a bill that intends to be “comprehensive.”  For conservatives, comprehensive is code word for cramming as much crap as possible into a massive bill and hope no one notices what’s in it.  The purpose of comprehensive bills is to slide revolting items through the process that would never pass on their own.  Of course, in the case of the immigration bill, the sole purpose is to get amnesty through.  Everything else in the bill is a sweetener to buy votes for amnesty, even though there are plenty of real, needed issues that need to be worked on.  Instead, nothing is more important than amnesty.  Steve Jobs found this out while trying to convince President Obama to loosen up on the H1-B Visa program.  From the Wall Street Journal:

According to Mr. Isaacson, Jobs “stressed the need for more trained engineers and suggested that any foreign students who earned an engineering degree in the U.S. should be given a visa to stay in the country.” The president reportedly replied that this would have to await broader immigration reform, which he said he was unable to accomplish.

“Jobs found this an annoying example of how politics can lead to paralysis,” Mr. Isaacson writes. “The president is very smart, but he kept explaining to us reasons why things can’t get done,” Jobs said. “It infuriates me.”

A simple bill to allow graduates of US schools to get a Visa would enjoy large bipartisan support and would pass easily.   So therefore we can’t allow it until we make sure we drag 11 million other people along with them!

So now Rubio is stuck riding this tiger all the way to completion.  Meanwhile, his reputation will be marred by every little crazy line item that is stuck in the bill, such as the one creating a biometric data base of all US adults.  So why would he join in with the Gang of 8?  How could this benefit him?

Just a couple of ideas and I don’t know if any of them are close to the mark:

+             He knows it won’t pass and just wants to build up some “moderate cred” for 2016.

+             He’s inexperienced and doesn’t realize  that Schumer and his gang are taking him for a ride.

+             He’s extremely experienced (a former Speaker of the House in the Florida legislature) and he’s playing the Gang of 8 by trying to “cooperate” up to the point that he can exploit the weaknesses of the bill and then blame the Senate Democrats and the Obama administration for sabotaging the bill with poison pills to keep the bill from passing and keep it as a political issue.

I’m sure there are probably many more possible reasons, but I don’t see any way for this to end well for Rubio’s political future other than at some point he disowns the bill.  If he doesn’t and ends up voting for whatever monstrosity slithers out of the Senate, than Rubio’s reputation will be damaged.  To conservatives, he will be a traitor, and to liberals he’ll be a gullible fool.

Which pill will he choose?  The red or the blue one?

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