This morning, a 7.0 earthquake hit Alaska. I haven’t seen any reports of serious injuries or fatalities but it sounds like Anchorage and the surrounding communities got pummeled with some major infrastructure damage, some TV stations going off air and the airport temporarily shutting down.
Alaska hasn’t had an earthquake since that awful M9.2 quake / tsunami hit the Prince William Sound region back in 1964. Which is exactly why a tsunami warning was issued this time in case aftershocks were powerful enough to form a tidal wave. Thankfully, while there were several aftershocks reported, none of them produced the feared tsunami and the warning was cancelled.
The Anchorage Police Department issued this statement.
“The Anchorage Police Department is operational after this morning’s massive earthquake.
Our Dispatch center is fully staffed and answering your calls as quickly as they can. Please only call 911 if it’s an emergency.
Our officers have been dispatched throughout the area and are handling multiple situations. We are working with our public safety partners to keep you safe. For parents, we are working with our partners at the Anchorage School District to check on your children and make sure they are safe.
There is major infrastructure damage across Anchorage. Many homes and buildings are damaged. Many roads and bridges are closed. Stay off the roads if you don’t need to drive. Seek a safe shelter. Check on your surroundings and loved ones.
We will keep you updated via Nixle throughout the day.
Again, stay safe and off the roads. Call 911 only if it’s an emergency.”
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker tweeted that he issued a Disaster Declaration. Now, just so you know - there are two types of Disaster Declarations. First: Major Disaster Declaration, which means the disaster has exceeded the response capabilities of the state and local government and long term recovery is probably needed. The second: Emergency Declaration, which is requested when the state and local government needs help responding to an emergency or disaster; however, no long term recovery assistance is needed.
I have not seen one way or another which type of Declaration Governor Walker has requested but I’m going to go out on a limb and say, “Major Disaster Declaration.” It was a 7.0 earthquake, after all.
This is a developing story and will be updated as further information is available.
Last week in Kansas City, MO state health inspectors stopped several non profit all volunteer groups from feeding the homeless. By poisoning all their food. You read that right. And if you think this sounds like something out of a bad young adult sci-fi dystopian novel, I agree. That's were you should expect such scum and villainy. But no. It’s real.
I thought to myself, “the moron that came up with the, “Let’s dump bleach in the food” regulation should be immediately fired.” I was saddened to hear that it’s “standard operating procedure” in many states.
So, what actually happened?
A local Kansas City all volunteer non profit group called Free Hot Soup KC went out to multiple parks on Nov. 5th to pass out free food. Mainly, home cooked soups, chili and foil-wrapped sandwiches. In fact, the group has been doing this twice a week for about a year.
Their events draw approx. a few hundred homeless, per park and they usually visit several parks. According to multiple sources, their food events are the highest attended park gathering at all of the parks they frequent. The problem is that neighbors complained about all the homeless people "invading their parks." So they complained.
After about a year of complaints, city officials and the cops crashed multiple Free Hot Soup KC events. The problem being, Free Hot Soup KC doesn’t have a permit to distribute unregulated food to the homeless. State officials make the case that the permit is free and that the state provides free training on how to prepare, package and deliver food to the homeless. So … just take the free classes and sign the free permit, right?
Seems like a no brainer.
And here’s where I think the folks at the Free Hot Soup KC are being a little pompous about the entire ordeal. They are calling their events “picnics” and claim that they don’t need a permit to have a picnic in a public park with their “friends.”
Unless, of course, you invite the public. In which case it’s no longer a private picnic with you and your friends. It’s obviously, a non profit providing food for the homeless. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s quite commendable that they do this. Just get the free permit and take the free classes on safety and food prep. Problem solved.
But no. People need to be difficult. Like, all the time.
Anyway. Yes, it’s true I think Free Hot Soup KC is acting a little self righteous BUT they are still clearly in the right here. I mean, let’s break down what the city officials claim and then do.
Ugh. And just when I was having like a, “Well, I can kind of see their point. It could pose a health risk. It probably wouldn’t, but, it might. I think a small amount of regulation is fair.”
And then the state officials offered a triple whammy of dumb. They:
Um, sorry city official. Your argument of “we’re just trying to make everything safe” just went out the window. You clearly don’t give a rats ass about safety.
Folks on the left and the right were, understandably, pissed off about this story. A common sense and reasonable op-ed appeared a few days later in the Kansas City Star. It said:
“The Health Department could agree to send at least one food safety inspector to Free Hot Soup events, free of charge, not as an enforcer but as an adviser. Those city employees could oversee food distribution, alerting volunteers when food might not be safe.
The Free Hot Soup volunteers would agree not to serve food that hasn’t been prepared and handled safely. Citations would not be issued.
Then, during the next six months, a handful of Free Hot Soup volunteers would take free food handling courses offered by the Health Department. At the end of that period, every event would have to include at least one certified food handler, or face cancellation.
Other volunteers would not need permits. The events organized by Free Hot Soup or any similar coalition could proceed, with at least one person providing trained food safety oversight.”
Thankfully, the following week, as Free Hot Soup KC went out to deliver food - the cops were not there and the food went out as usual. Hopefully, that will be the end of it.
But probably not.
This is your friendly neighborhood reminder to go out and vote. I will not push for one candidate, or one party. You’ve already made up your mind. And you probably wouldn’t want to take my advice, anyway. I have been of voting age for the past seven Presidential elections. I have voted in every race. Only three times has my candidate actually won the election. If I was an NFL team I would be 3 - 4 and probably on my way out of the playoffs.
Not only that but in my home state of MN I am 1-2 for Governor (I didn’t vote for Governor in 98 because I hated them all) and 5-3 for Senate. So, my entire Presidential / Governor / Senator win loss record added together would be 9-9. Fifty lousy percent. Nothing to write home about.
And while, it’s true, I used to be one of the many folks who said that there are only a few major differences between the two major parties; but mostly they are identical. As in, a win for either side is a win for - the rich, big corporations, big money in politics, lobbyists, the military industrial complex, patriarchy and the status quo never changing.
Boy o’ boy, I do not feel that way any longer! I’ll bore you with those details some other time.
Today, I plan to go out and actually do something about it. And that’s vote. Hopefully, you will too!
Elections feel more and more like sporting events every time they're held. There's more dirty play, more money spent, the officiating gets worse and worse, and there have been more people switching teams, from Republican to Democrat mostly, according to Twitter at least, than ever before. That doesn't make the 2018 U.S. Midterm Elections easily understood, however.
Since sports is a language we all understand, I offer this as a means to comprehend the chaos that is contemporary U.S. politics by looking at the races like they're actual races, or any sporting event for that matter. This piece aims to inform you of the facts and stakes surrounding the biggest and closest races of the 2018 U.S. Midterm Elections by comparing them to historic sporting events or sports rivalries.
The piece also offers some politics betting advice you can take or leave, but I assure you, politics betting is even more fun and addictive than sports betting. If you're disinterested in politics, politics betting makes politics suddenly interesting. I should warn you, however, that I and just about everyone else in America lost big time in 2016—in more than one way. This election we’ll start winning it back together. (Author's note: any winnings are reinvested into candidates’ campaigns the following election cycle.)
It might not be a perfect comparison to 1908's “Fight of the Century” between the first ever black heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson, and Tommy Burns, but Democrat Stacey Abrams is trying to be to the 2018 U.S. Midterm Elections what Jack Johnson was to boxing.
Abrams is running to become the country’s first ever black female elected governor of any state. Abrams’ opponent, Brian Kemp, is doing his damnedest as Georgia’s acting Secretary of State to make sure she doesn’t. It would be like Johnson’s fight against Burns, but if Burns had served as referee of the fight as well. Abrams isn’t likely to do a year in prison for dating a white woman like Johnson did, though.
A federal judge has already ruled against Kemp, who was using an “exact match” law to keep over 3,000 people—mostly minorities—from voting for things like misspellings and missing hyphens on their voter registration applications. But over 50,000 voters in Georgia have been flagged as ineligible because of the law, and despite that, Abrams trails in the polls by just one point, according to Real Clear Politics’ (RCP) average. She’s gotten the Oprah boost recently, too, so expect this one to come down to the wire.
I have $10 on Abrams to win on Predict It, an online marketplace for politics betting, basically. The difference being you can buy and sell shares right up until the election is called, so if Abrams holds a lead at some point on Election Day, I can sell my shares for her to win at a profit in case the late rounds go to Kemp. I won’t, however.
The basketball battle for the State of California between LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers and the reigning, back-to-back-champion Golden State Warriors is not unlike the battle for the Texas Senate seat. Ted Cruz is the reigning, Republican champion running for a second term, and Beto O’Rourke brings all the glitz and glam LeBron brought with him to the Lakers. O’Rourke doubled Cruz’s campaign contributions in the second quarter of 2018, raising more than $10.4 million despite taking no money from Political Action Committees (PACs). His ability to raise money has this shaping up to be the most expensive U.S. Senate race of all time.
Like the Lakers, O’Rourke will have to spend to contend. According to the latest Emerson poll, he trails Cruz by three points, but the RCP average has him even further behind in a state that hasn’t had a Democratic Senator since 1993. I have $5 on O’Rourke scoring an upset, but I’m really just hoping early tallies of metropolitan areas like Dallas-Fort Worth have O’Rourke far enough ahead early to sell at halftime before Cruz goes on a run, hitting shots from rural Texas in the third quarter like the Warriors do against seemingly everybody.
While Miamians will vote on a proposal for the purchase of real estate to house a billion-dollar Major League Soccer (MLS) complex, they'll also be voting to potentially restore the voting rights of more than 1.5 million former felons in the state (10 percent of all voters in the state). Florida is one of just three states (Iowa and Kentucky being the others) to automatically bar anyone convicted of a felony from voting. A grassroots campaign run by former felons is looking to change that, but needs 60 percent of Florida voters to vote "yes" on Amendment Four in order for it to pass.
Amendment Four would "automatically restore the right to vote for people with prior felony convictions, except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense, upon completion of their sentences, including prison, parole, and probation." And while Florida's ex-cons have an avenue to regaining their voting rights, it's a long street with obstacles abound like the last level of the arcade game, Paperboy, but with an old, pasty boss withholding payment until you get off the bike, walk up to the house, ring the doorbell, and place his newspaper ever so gently in his right hand before kissing the rings on his left.
Ari Berman explains in an article for Mother Jones that Florida felons can get their voting rights back but have to wait five to seven years to petition a Clemency Board headed by current governor, Rick Scott, who has denied 90 percent of applications—giving just 3,000 Florida felons the right to vote. Scott's predecessor, Charlie Crist, who left the Republicans for the Democrats in free agency, approved 155,000 applications. Even Republican Jeb Bush approved 75,000, and he's still on Scott's team. And that team is hard on crime because it's an easy stance to take and it pays well.
Florida's Rick Scott has received the most contributions from the private prison industry in 2018 ($70,600), and fellow Floridian Rebecca Negron is second ($29,850). Two other Florida Republican candidates make the top 20, accepting $10,000 each to funnel both prisoners and tax dollars to for-profit prisons. Texas "entrepreneurs" were turning old motels into migrant detention centers until they found out they could get away with putting up a few tents instead. Four Republicans and one Democrat from Texas also made the list.
These private prisons are literally banking on recidivism; they want prisoners to keep coming back. To them, convicts are cash cows; they're valued. But to the rest of the world, convicts are always convicts, regardless of rehabilitation. Convicts can find God but not a job. In Florida, they can get a law degree but not practice law. And in Florida, they can indulge in every pleasure imaginable except the pleasure that comes from voting. The second chance ex-cons are afforded, especially in Florida, comes with strings attached, takes five to seven years to earn, and doesn't have to be granted, and likely won't, even if the convict does everything asked of her. That doesn't mean they can't participate in democracy, though.
Even though a million-plus Florida ex-cons can't vote in the 2018 U.S. Midterm Elections, you can bet they're knocking doors and phone banking to get Democrats to the polls on Election Day so they can vote someday soon. Felons currently incarcerated in Florida jails and prisons are probably calling home to make sure their friends and family vote in this election so they too can vote someday. Left-leaning voters with friends and family convicted of felonies won't be sitting at home on Election Day, and that bodes well for Democratic candidates. Both Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum were leading in the RCP average polls on the eve of the elections.
The roughly 113,000 Florida votes that separated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016 (1.2 percent) will surely narrow, because this grassroots movement of former felons has given Florida Democrats an inside track to victory through an issue that has further motivated an already motivated base. Major League Soccer's (MLS) success in Atlanta is indicative of what can be done when you offer people something of which they've been deprived.
Both Minnesota and Atlanta got MLS expansion franchises in 2017. Minneapolis and Atlanta share similar age demographics that make them ideal soccer cities. Residents aged 20 to 30 years make up the largest segment of their populations. Atlanta is obviously more diverse, but that doesn't explain why Atlanta United leads not only MLS, but the NFL, MLB, and NHL in attendance, averaging 46,318 tickets sold per game in its inaugural season. Minnesota United managed just over 20,000 per game in its inaugural season, in a stadium with more than 50,000 seats, which the Loons filled just once and marketed hard to do so.
Atlanta United set new attendance (and points) records in 2018, averaging over 53,000 fans per game. What gives? The Five Stripes were surprisingly good surprisingly fast, but they weren't the Vegas Golden Knights of MLS. The Five Stripes lost in the first round of the playoffs despite finishing the regular season fourth overall. The key to Atlanta's stunning MLS success isn't strictly due to the product's performance on the pitch. It's influenced by the availability of excess income and a lack of quality, sports/entertainment substitutes in the area demanding those dollars.
Atlanta is a business hub home to Home Depot, Coca-Cola, UPS, and Delta Air Lines, so while Atlanta has more impoverished individuals and families than both Minneapolis and St. Paul, a lot of Atlantans have a lot of money. There are more families in Atlanta earning more than $200,000 annually than in any other income level. More than a quarter of married families in Atlanta make more than $200,000 annually. Minneapolis and St. Paul combined have just 23.5 percent of married families making more than $200,000 annually. But what sporting events would Atlantans pay to see in 2017?
The MLB's Braves might have moved into a new, publicly funded stadium in 2017, but they weren't especially good (and neither was traffic or parking), finishing 72-90, 23rd in the standings and 13th in attendance. The Braves turned that record around and won their division in 2018, but still finished 11th in attendance. For reference, in 2011, the Minnesota Twins finished their second season at Target Field with a 63-99 record and managed to finish fourth in attendance. MLB as a whole saw average attendance drop to a 15-year low in 2018, but whether the Braves' struggle to fill seats is due to traffic, parking, the ire of taxpayers, or an overall disinterest in the game doesn't change the fact that their product fails to demand the entertainment dollars of affluent Atlantans.
The NBA's Hawks were even worse than the Braves in 2017-18. After losing out in the first round of the 2016-17 NBA Playoffs, they finished the following season tied for the third-worst record in basketball, ending a run of regular-season dominance culminating in early postseason exits. The Hawks are hoping a renovation of State Farm Arena, complete with golf simulator suites and an authentic, Atlanta barbershop, demand the dollars their product currently cannot.
The Hawks do, however, offer a relatively affordable and valuable season ticket package, which is another means to make a poor product more appealing. Price matters and must reflect not just the product's quality, but how accessibility affects demand for the product. Transportation and parking expenses must be considered when setting a price, and the Hawks have years of experience at their location to more accurately estimate those costs than the Braves did.
Still, the Hawks were dead last in attendance in 2017-18, managing to fill just 14,409 of their 21,000 seats per game (68.6 percent of capacity). Atlanta United originally intended to close the upper bowl of Mercedes-Benz Stadium to create a more intimate atmosphere, lowering capacity from 70,000 to 42,500. That's 109 percent of seats sold in year one, or 66.2 percent if you use the 70,000 figure. In year two, they bested the Hawks' seat-sold percentage by almost 10 percent using considering a capacity of 70,000.
With the NHL's Thrashers becoming the Winnipeg Jets in 2011, Atlanta's affluent population has been deprived of quality, sports entertainment since the Hawks' window of contention closed in early 2017. The wallets of affluent Atlantans were practically begging for a worthwhile entertainment alternative just as Florida ex-cons are actually pleading for an alternative to Rick Scott's Clemency Board when it comes to regaining their right to vote.
Florida Democrats could replicate The Five Stripes' stunning MLS success by simply expressing their support for legislation offering disenfranchised people an alternative to Scott's Clemency Hawks subjectively dictating the voting rights of Florida's former felons with no oversight whatsoever. But something tends to be better than nothing, and nothing is very close to what Rick Scott is offering Florida's 1.5 million former felons right now. Expect a blue wave in Florida across the board.
Heidi Heitkamp has a better chance to retain her North Dakota Senate seat (11/2, according to the Predict It market) than Conor McGregor had to beat Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match (11/1). But McGregor was incredibly overrated and idiotically over-wagered. Despite a marijuana legalization initiative appearing on North Dakotans’ ballot on Election Day, Heitkamp trails Republican challenger Kevin Cramer by nine points in the latest Fox News poll. With cannabis becoming more of a bipartisan issue, the initiative might bring close as many Republicans to the polls as Democrats, so it looks as though Heitkamp’s short reign as North Dakota’s Senator could be coming to an end.
Heitkamp’s stance against Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court appointment apparently hurt her chances, but she’s not stepping into a boxing ring with an undefeated, world champion having never boxed before. She has boxed, and Kevin Cramer is no Floyd Mayweather, except that he did say even if Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, is telling the truth, the recently confirmed Supreme Court Judge would have done “nothing” seriously wrong. Mayweather, you might remember, served two months in jail after being convicted of domestic battery. A 17-year-old Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman when he was drunk, allegedly.
I have $5 on Heitkamp overcoming the long odds because she will no doubt attract the most money from Democratic donors down the stretch, as they desperately try to become the majority in the Senate. As her deficit in the polls narrows, I’ll start shedding my 15-cent shares at a profit if I can. And even if Democrats see Heitkamp as a lost cause in the late rounds, the votes in Fargo and Bismarck-Mandan areas will undoubtedly be reported first, so she’ll look close enough early on to hopefully make some money on my shares. If not, a candidate is out $5 in the next election cycle. I don't think anyone will notice.
Democrats in Wisconsin probably feel like New York Islanders fans between 1996 and 2001: like there was just no chance of winning. With their arena crumbling around them, the New York Islanders were so undesirable to potential buyers, a fraud named John Spano misrepresented his net worth and took over the team for four months. It took another half decade for the Islanders franchise to be saved by Charles Wang and Sanjay Kumar, but even then, fans questioned moves made by the new front office, only to enjoy a franchise best start to the 2001-02 season (9-0-1-1) and a second-place finish in the Atlantic Division.
It’s been seven years since Wisconsin had a Democratic governor, and it might be time Democrats get their Islanders Season in the Sun. The Democrats already received their John Spano gut punch with a failed attempt in 2012 to recall Governor Scott Walker for limiting public workers’ rights to collectively bargain. They and Wisconsinites, like Islanders fans, suffered since, and seem to have suffered enough given Democratic challenger Tony Evers’ five-point lead in the latest Emerson poll. He’s the guy with experience as a teacher and principal whose education budget recommendations Walker was ignoring while Governor. Wisconsinites seem to think he has the experience to right Walker’s biggest wrongs.
It’s no secret Walker has undermined labor unions in Wisconsin, especially teachers’ unions, but Walker’s really failed Wisconsin’s youth when it comes to education, as Patrick Caldwell writes in Mother Jones. “Walker slashed funding for K-12 schools by $792 million over two years,” forcing local property tax hikes. It’s never a good look when a candidate preaching tax cuts is responsible for tax increases.
Desperation is a stinky cologne, and that’s exactly what Scott Walker is emitting. He suddenly wants to adopt a portion of Obamacare, protecting coverage guarantees for people suffering from pre-existing conditions. He’s hoping it will save his political life like a full Medicare expansion could have literally save the lives of his constituents. It won’t be enough, though. Walker’s just done Wisconsin wrong too many times—just like Islanders owners done Islanders fans.
Greg Gianforte managed to win election to the U.S. House of Representatives despite body-slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs when he asked the candidate a question the day before the election. Gianforte's win might be due to the postponed release of his mugshot to the public and press despite being formally charged and arrested for assault. A court eventually ordered Gianforte’s mugshot released, but not before the election was held.
The mugshot might not have mattered, though. Gianforte reportedly raised more money the day after his assault of a reporter than on any other day. Now he’s a California-born, New Jersey-raised, Trump-loved Brock Lesnar defending his championship belt in Montana against a tiny, minority-defending female version of Eddie Guerrero.
Kathleen Williams’ strong candidacy, likely the strongest Montana Democrats have ever run, might not matter either. Gianforte’s folk-hero status with Conservative Montanans could be insurmountable, but she’s made the race close for the first time in a long time. Montana is deeply red when it comes to the House of Representatives, especially recently. A Republican has represented Montana in the U.S. House for over 20 years. The latest Gravis poll has Montana’s At-Large Seat all tied up though. If Williams gets a surprise spear from Goldberg (i.e. Oprah), she can win just like Guerrero did.
As you can see, I have no money down on Republicans in any races, but I did turnaround some shares I purchased for Republicans to retain the Senate. I also had shares of Democrats taking a majority in the House (they need to win 23 seats, and 25 Republicans are up for reelection in districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016). Both races were too close for my comfort, so I concentrated my funds on individual races I was most confident would either go Democrat or start to lean Democrat so I could sell my shares at a profit.
Basically, I made modest bets on longshots or long bets on what I perceive to be sure things. Use RCP and New York Times polling to guide your bets, and then, on Election Day, vote if you’re a registered voter, register to vote if you're not and you still can in your state, and then treat it like the holiday it ought to be. Watch Election coverage like it's Thanksgiving football. Turn it into a drinking game. Eat like an American, and win and lose your bets like an American—"cocky and arrogant, even when you're getting beat."
Another day, another lunatic. Many sources have reported multiple gunshot fatalities at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. At least 12 people were shot, eight appear to have been killed. Multiple officers were injured while exchanging fire with the shooter, who eventually surrendered.
The shooter, Robert Bowers, was an active poster on “alt-right” sites, especially, Gab. A site I’ve never even heard of. Anyway, his Gab profile was quickly disabled after he was named the shooter. But images captured from his profile before it was deleted show that a few days before the shooting Bowers wrote about the “kike” infestation, “the overwhelming Jew problem” and this about the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I’m going in.” And then he picked up his AR-15 like rifle and attacked a Jewish synagogue during a baby naming ceremony.
Why he chose Tree of Life specifically is so far unclear. You know what’s particularly scary about his attack? He marched right up to the third floor to begin shooting. You know what is usually happening on the third floor of that building on Saturday mornings? Children’s classes.
So, it’s kind of looking like crippling insecure man baby Robert Bowers knew that children were going to be up on the third floor so he went up to massacre them. Thankfully, earlier that morning, all the children’s classes had been canceled (for some reason but presumably, for the baby naming ceremony). Bowers then shot up the synagogue killing several people - here are the names of the victims.
Michael Eisenberg, the immediate past president of the Tree of Life congregation, spoke with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and told them that, at any typical Saturday morning there would be approx. 100 - 150 people from multiple congregations holding simultaneous services in the building.
Police believe he acted alone and that there is no further threat to the community and are treating this as a hate crime.
This is a developing story.
Another day, another lunatic. Multiple sources have reported that federal authorities arrested Cesar Sayoc, a Florida man, in connection to sending possible package bombs (or suspicious looking packages) to prominent Democrats / Trump critics including (but not limited to): Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Maxine Waters, Joe Biden, John Brennan, James Clapper, Cory Booker, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Eric Holder, the offices of CNN and Robert De Niro.
The packages all looked exactly the same. Manila envelopes all with multiple misspellings and the same return address: Debbie Wasserman “Shultz” (also misspelled) the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. A few of them even had “postage due” stamps on them suggesting the package went through the entire mail system before being discovered as “suspicious.”
The folks over at CNN actually opened the package, not knowing what it was and uncovered the bomb. They partially evacuated the building and the bomb squad came and ended up destroying the pipe package bomb (which is standard procedure).
It should be noted that none of the bombs exploded. Which means they may or may not have been working bombs. Which is mind numbingly stupid. I mean, don’t get me wrong - I’m not suggesting to send working bombs through the mail. I’m suggesting that the culprit put together fake bombs to scare and / or make a political point and now, that he’s caught, will be prosecuted as if he sent real bombs.
What a moron. (Editor's note: The FBI now says the bombs were real. It's fortunate that, but unclear why - none of them exploded.)
I’ve already read the conspiracy sites too. They are up in lunatic arms. “False flag attack. Bummer Obama and Killery Clinton are behind it all!” They claim. *sigh*
I don’t need a conspiracy to answer this basic question, “Do you think someone, in this day and age of hyper partisanship, is crazy enough to send pipe bombs to political figures he despises?”
The answer is - yes! I do! Obviously! I mean, it seems to happen a lot. Death threats. Online harassment. Partisan fucking hatred. Gunmen go after republicans. Gunmen go after democrats. Gunmen go after kids. (Note: The Sandy Hook Massacre was NOT a false flag attack!). Gunmen go after folks hanging out in church.
Point being: There are lunatics everywhere. And some of them are violent. When you hear “lunatic man sends pipe bomb to prominent Democrats” your first thought should be, “Another fucking lunatic man terrorizing political figures” and not, “It’s probably a Killary / Obummer false flag plot to stifle conservative voices all told through the fake news narrative of the CIA controlled media.”
No. It’s not.
It’s probably just another lunatic man sending pipe bombs through the mail. That’s probably what it is. And I hope he goes to jail forever.
This is a developing story.
The damage from Hurricane Michael is staggering. Georgia’s farms were clobbered and the agricultural industry is reporting “unprecedented generational losses” that are estimated to reach nearly $3 billion in damages.
About a million acres of timber has been destroyed as well all sorts of vegetable and nut farms. Lots of sources are still reporting about the Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, Fla. The base, if you have not heard, sustained heavy damage from the storm. Most of Tyndall’s planes were flown to safety before Michael hit the coast but 17 F-22 Raptors were left behind because they were undergoing maintenance and were not flight worthy. Each of the Raptors cost an estimated $330 million each. Which means that’s almost $6 billion dollars of fighter jets that may have taken significant damage from Michael. The Air Force is being a little mom on the subject, which - fair enough. There is no reason to broadcast to enemies how many of our fighter planes were damaged beyond repair.
But that isn’t even touching on the personal cost to homeowners up and down the coastline. The NY Times has a “Damage in Pictures” all about Michael and from the look of things it’s as bad as everyone expected. Entire towns are wiped out. Farms are gone. Houses obliterated. It’s apocalyptic looking stuff.
If that’s not bad enough there are sheriffs in FL reporting that they are arresting about 10 looters each night since last Wed. Armed looters, it appears, are targeting homes without electricity and taking advantage that first responders are stretched thin. People really suck sometimes, you know?
There are even neighborhoods putting up hand made signs that say things like, “You loot. I shoot.” Which - sounds about right to me.
Still, it sounds as if hundreds of thousands of people are still without power and cell phone service has only just recently been (mostly) reinstated.
And keep in mind this is all damage from one hurricane. That’s not counting the damage that Florence did just last month. It’s not counting the death toll when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and almost three thousand people died as a result. How about Irma and Harvey - two Hurricane’s that pummeled the south just last year.
They keep coming and they seem to keep getting more destructive and more costly. And why is that? Well, last year my co-worker wrote a strongly worded story titled “Hurricanes should blow climate deniers’ eyes, minds open.” In it he writes:
“While I wish the best to all those affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, I also hope climate change deniers affected by the hurricanes realize their denial of climate change contributed to their current situation and will contribute to worse situations in the future.
Mother Earth is doing her best to convince climate denying Americans that global warming is no hoax and that people are responsible for the increasing instances and intensity of weather disasters. She started by flooding the Gulf Coast with category-three hurricane, Harvey, which AccuWeather predicts will cost America more than Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina combined.”
His story makes compelling arguments and he links to more than a dozen reputable sources and studies. He wrote that more than one year ago and he was correct in predicting that this year the hurricanes would be much, much worse.
And they are. And now all we can do is rebuild and assist those that are in need. And we’ll probably have to do it again. And again. And again.
If you can, donate to the Red Cross.
If you can, donate to the Humane Society Animal Emergency Rescue Fund.
Hurricane Michael, the strongest on record in the U.S. since 2004 hit the Florida coastline this afternoon. It’s too late to evacuate. If you’re there - you’re there. Michael is a Category 4 hurricane with winds at 155 mph. But that makes it that top end of Category 4 because as soon as winds hit 157 it will officially be a Category 5. Not that there is much difference between 155 and 157 mph winds other than the rating system because, either way, enormous damage is about to rain down on Florida.
Not even one month after Florence flooded Georgia & the Carolinas and caused $1.5 billion in damages, the E coast is getting hammered again. This time by Hurricane Michael, which meteorologists have rated a Category 4.
Folks in Georgia and the Carolinas still have flooded areas in large portions of the coastline and in a few more days will receive more rainstorms as Michael hits Florida today but will move N further inland by Friday. Michael is actually the opposite of Florence which went from a Category 4 down to a Category 1 by landfall while Michael increased in strength as it came closer to the SE coastline. In fact, meteorologists believe that Michael will still be a Category 2 Hurricane when it hits Alabama and southern Georgia.
If that’s not bad enough Hurricane Michael, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, could spawn tornadoes anywhere from 50-100 miles outside the hurricane eye. That’s all those folks need, right? Tornadoes to go along with their Category 4 hurricane.
Last month, our very own Dr. Daliah wrote a “How You Can Help” column for Hurricane Florence and all of her information is relevant for Michael as well. You can read her column here. Her column also has plenty of links to the Red Cross, the Army Emergency Relief and other sources if you want to donate assistance. The American Red Cross is accepting monetary and blood donations. Financial donations can be given here or on their website at redcross.org. Moreover one can call 1-800-RED-CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. More relief numbers in her column.
The forecast cone is expected to stretch Michael all the way north to Maryland, which is a lot of damage, and a lot of danger.
This is a developing story.
The Category 1 hurricane that hit the Carolinas on Friday is expected to cause “widespread devastation” to multiple states.
Five people, including an infant, have been reportedly killed within the first 12 hours of Hurricane Florence’s landfall.
Torrential downpours are expected to continue and power outages, floods, raging waters, and the potential for tornadoes threaten coastal and inland residents.
Risks of drowning, crush injuries, infection, malnourishment, chemical exposure, hypothermia are just a few of the grave issues residents are facing.
Many of those who did prepare for the storm may not have stored plenty of food, especially healthy fresh food. Those trapped in their homes may find the food they did store contaminated by flood water.
The World Health Organization states that floods bring water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, leptospirosis and Hepatitis A. Vector-borne diseases include Zika, malaria, dengue hemorrhagic fever, yellow fever, and West Nile.
Mosquitos initially get washed away during the storm, but the resulting puddles of water take weeks to dry and make ideal breeding grounds for insects.
The water gets dirty pretty quickly. People touching the flood water need to wash their hands thoroughly before eating or preparing food.
Moreover due to the moisture that seeped into walls and floors of houses, mold can grow and cause a variety of respiratory issues among other physical ailments. Massive disinfecting needs to take place before coming home to flood water contaminated residencies.
Chemicals from garages and fuel seeping into flood water expose victims to many compounds such as benzene, toluene and xylene that can cause a multitude of health effects including those that affect breathing, skin, the gut, balance, thought, and memory.
Multiple looters in North Carolina have already been arrested. During Hurricane Harvey, a Cajun Navy rescuer told CNN that looters fired shots at him and his comrades, trying to take their rescue boat, which had actually broken down.
Panic fuels dangerous behavior and those without resources may try to take from those who prepared.
Sexual assault crimes can rise as predators find the chaos and lack of video surveillance ideal conditions to find victims who can’t yell for help.
When one loses their home, neighborhood, income, treasured belongings and more, its devastating. Post-traumatic stress disorder may ensue.
To combat these risks, medical personnel and the CDC are preparing. Among food, shelter and clothes, paper products, sanitizer, cleaning supplies, tetanus vaccinations and counselors will be needed is mass quantities.
Hurricane Florence, although weakening, is expected to hover over the next few days bringing more deadly conditions.
Army Emergency Relief is taking donations here to help victims of natural disasters.
Save the Children‘s Hurricane Florence Children’s Relief Fund site can be found here.
Blood supplies will be needed as residents who routinely donate have evacuated the area. Donating blood at your local blood bank may be shipped to the area in need.
United Blood Services have locations throughout the country that can accept your blood Donation. Contact UBS here.
The American Red Cross is accepting monetary and blood donations. Financial donations can be given here or on their website at redcross.org. Moreover one can call 1-800-RED-CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
The Salvation Army is also accepting donations online here and by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769).
The Red Cross and Salvation Army may also need local volunteers to help set up shelters. Contact the above numbers.
Local volunteers are asked to donate supplies to nearby recreation centers for housing evacuees.
Supply drives in out-of-state locations may not be accepted directly but could help local charities who need to ship supplies to the affected area.
Hurricane Florence begins its long assault on the Georgia, Carolina(s) coastline. My understanding of Florence is that it is an anomaly amongst storms, the main reason being - it’s both wide and slow. Florence is much wider than a typical hurricane and is only travelling at about 2-3 miles per hour. Which isn’t even as fast as a regular person can walk.
What this means is that the force of the storm will linger twice or three times as long as a typical hurricane. And, perhaps obviously - the longer your area is battered with 100 mile an hour winds, the more damage the storm will potentially inflict.
Now, it’s true that in the last several days the storm has dropped from a Category 4 to a Category 3 and now hits the shores as a Category 2. (Go here for a breakdown on the differences between categories of hurricanes) But just because Florence has been downgraded to a C2 doesn’t mean that everyone can now breathe a sigh of relief. The danger is far from over. A C2 hurricane can and will cause significant damage. Again, because the storm is slow it will affect your area much, much longer than a typical storm.
Plus, one hundred mile an hour winds aside, there will still be 30 to 40 inches of rain in a large part of the Carolinas and the coastline is expected to have massive flooding of - get this - anywhere from 6-13 feet of water.
If you can’t imagine what 100 mph wind feels like, think of this - Hurricane Floyd, which also hit the Carolinas in 1999 brought 60 hours of rain (in some areas), massive flooding, caused 74 deaths and approx. $6 billion in damage. And since $100 in 1999 is equal to $147 today (adjusted for inflation) - that would be approx. $9 billion in damage today.
Okay. But Florence is so wide and so damn slow - it’s possible that some areas can expect to be affected by the hurricane twice or three times as long as what happened in Floyd. Imagine that - 120-180 hours of rain! That’s six to seven and a half days of pouring rain!
But that’s not all! Meteorologists have tracked waves 20 feet high and up to 80 feet long heading toward the coastline. Earlier reports suggested the waves were 80 feet high but weathermen (and women) around the country quickly corrected them. I mean, an 80 foot tall wave is 2004 Indonesia Tsunami high and that wiped out entire cities and swept a quarter of a million people into the ocean. Thankfully, Florence does not have 8o foot high waves.
But still, an 80 foot long wave has tremendous force and once it hits the shore will push inland for a very long time. That, coupled with the rain means - massive flooding. Probably, unlike the Carolinas (and Georgia) have ever experienced.
Florence is expected to be full force from late Thursday until early Sunday. Approx. 36 hours of hurricane gale hitting affected areas. And then - additional rain (for days). I certainly hope most folks heeded their Governor’s warnings to evacuate the area.
Of course, I say that and I am not trying to sound glib. There are plenty of reasons where one might not evacuate. Living in poverty with nowhere else to go comes to mind. I understand there are people who might not be able to evacuate and there are always folks who chose to stay for various reasons. I understand.
But man, if I had the means I would be so out of there.
So, what happens after the storm? Well, as usual the best way that you or I can help is to donate to the American Red Cross. From the Fed side of things there is the Disaster Relief Fund. Of course, President Trump has recently made news because - during the height of Hurricane Florence worry - the President transferred almost $10 million from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement).
Now, thankfully, the money President Trump transferred out of FEMA wasn’t part of the Disaster Relief Fund as some have reported. Of course, as reported by Vox.com, this still complicates things. From their Is Trump Using Hurricane Relief Money to fund ICE? Not exactly:
“The Trump administration points out that the $9.8 million transferred from FEMA didn’t come out of the Disaster Relief Fund that is specifically appropriated for major disasters. Instead, it came out of the agency’s “operations and support” fund. DHS (Dept. Homeland Security) characterizes that fund as used for administrative expenses: Examples listed by a DHS official included “employee travel expenses, training, basic purchase cards, office supplies, HQ overhead support.”
What complicates this slightly is that one of the things funded by FEMA “operations and support” is the agency’s Office of Response and Recovery, which organizes the agency’s emergency operations and rebuilding efforts. About $2.5 million of the transferred funds came out of the response and recovery budgets.”
Lovely! So the exact office that organizes the Disaster Relief Fund just had a budget cut of $2.5 million - all during the Florence build up! Think about it this way - what happens in your office when you suddenly lose a significant percentage of your work force and / or work support? You know what happens. Suddenly lots of people double up on jobs that they don’t have any experience in and things are more expensive to process and take twice as long to figure out! Which, is totally what we want to happen when people need the Disaster Relief Fund, right? We all want to make it as hard as possible for people to receive assistance! Right? (Please, note the sarcasm).
*sigh* It’s almost like we have a President who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about people.
Anyway, all that being said. I wish the best for the folks of the Carolinas and Georgia.
This is an updating story. We will publish more about disaster relief, where to find it and how best to help, ASAP.
Multiple sources around the country are reporting on the NY Times Anonymous Op-Ed published on Wed September 5th titled, “I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration.” You should take a few minutes to read it over or watch the video in which CNN’s Kate Bolduan reads the entire piece. I'm not going to speculate who wrote it, but I do want to discuss it in general.
The Op-Ed has stunned many and, apparently - enraged President Trump.
Um. Okay. I get why President Trump is angry. But why is everyone else stunned by this admission?
The Op-Ed basically says, “Hey, there are people within the White House that are actively trying to stop President Trump from fucking up the country. I should know. I’m one of them.” Conservatives are up in arms. Even Liberals are like, “This is not how the country works Mr. Anonymous - no one voted you into office so shut your piehole and obey!”
What about this Op-Ed is controversial? It basically says that - politicians and officials are working against each other. Don’t we already know this? I mean, don’t we have two parties publicly working against each other on many issues, all the time? Hell, didn’t the House and the Senate run 6 extremely vocal years of obstructionism against President Obama? It wasn’t even a secret. They went on TV and shit, and were like, “We’ll just not ever pass a budget and threaten to shut down the government every year and just not do our jobs and never vote on things - ever - as long as Obama is in office.”
Is the fear now supposed to be that “we didn’t elect” the person who wrote the Op-Ed who claims to be working against the President from the inside? Okay. I guess I can understand why that seems a bit awkward. Except that our elected President(s) get undermined by billionaires and officials both elected and / or appointed like, all the time.
I mean, I guess it’s controversial because finally someone came out and admitted it. Fair enough. The idea of the Deep State Conspiracy is that there is a body of people, typically - influential folks with powerful positions, that are secretly manipulating government policy. Some people believe in the Deep State actually runs the government. Some people think the entire idea of a Deep State is ludacris.
I don’t actually understand why the Deep State idea is even controversial.
Don’t get me wrong - I don’t believe for one second that the Deep State is a secret alien run Illuminati conspiracy. That’s fucking nonsense. But, as to the idea that influential (rich) folks and Corporations get politicians to do their bidding! Well - duh. Everyone knows this happens. That’s what lobbyist do. It’s not even a secret and it’s legal. And they are out in the open. All over Washington. They don’t need a secret conspiracy to coerce the government into being their bitch. It pretty much just happens out in the open. With colossals amounts of cash. The manipulation of elected officials is nothing new and has been happening for … well, probably since folks invented government.
And now we have someone saying, “Hey, we’re working against the President. But, like - from within and in secret.”
Okay. Well, lots of people work against the President. But I guess this time it’s controversial because Anonymous is supposed to be on the President’s side. Therefor the whispered “soft coup” keeps popping up in the press. Well, a coup is an attempt to seize power from the government which I think we can all agree that is usually a bad idea but … but …. but it happens all the bloody time!
Lobbyists and their Corporate masters get our elected officials to do and say all sorts of asinine things that only help Corporations and will never, ever, ever help the people of the country. Sure, if a politician is publicly outed as being 100% in the pocket of Evil Corporation A, you can try and vote them out of office but the insane amount of $$ thrown into elections makes it very difficult for the people to seize any sort of power back from career politicians. Especially, when those politicians are in the pocket of Corporations.
It certainly doesn’t help that extremely popular conservative news organizations and even some moderately popular fringe liberal websites - just make shit up and spread fake news everywhere. Without accurate information it sometimes makes it hard to separate the good guys from the bad guys.
But I digress.
Look, I can see why the word “coup” frightens people. But I hardly feel this is a legitimate coup attempt. Perhaps Anonymous is overstepping his or her boundaries (it reads to me as if it was written by a man). Are people not allowed to over step their boundaries in order to do things that are just and moral?
I certainly think so. Perhaps you don’t.
Anyway. If you want to make the argument to me that “but, maybe this kind of “soft coup” isn’t how it should be in our Republic” then I would probably agree with you. But if you say, “this just isn’t how things operate in our Republic” then, um - what the F! are you even talking about?
Governors across the United States have declared State Blood Donation Days to help combat our nation’s blood shortage as part of National Blood Donation Week (NBDW).
Blood supplies have been critical in many parts of the country and natural disasters, such as fires and hurricanes, tax blood banks even more.
What makes NBDW so unique is that both Republican and Democratic governors are uniting and coming together for a common cause.
This year National Blood Donation Week is September 3-10th with September 5th being National Blood Donation Day.
Governors in the following states have already proclaimed September 5th to be their state Blood Donation Day for 2018:
Arizona has proclaimed September 3-10th Arizona Blood Donation Week with more to come.
Oklahoma has proclaimed the month of September Oklahoma Blood Donation Month.
Alaska proclaimed the month of July Alaska Blood Donation Month.
“Blood and platelet donations are currently being distributed to hospitals as fast as donations are coming in, and more donations are needed, especially type O, to replenish the blood supply,” said Laurie Nehring, communications director for the American Red Cross. “We appreciate Dr. Daliah’s efforts to educate the public about the importance of regular blood donations.”
Emergency rooms treating trauma victims, hospitals treating anemic patients, and medical clinics replenishing low blood levels in cancer patients require a steady supply of blood products.
38% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood but less than 10% actually do.
“The unified effort across America to proclaim state blood donation days around the Labor Day holiday comes at an important time for patients,” said Mitzy Edgecomb, Blood Systems Vice President, Donor Marketing & Communication. “Blood donations often drop dramatically during the summer months and over holiday weeks when regular donors take time away to enjoy family vacations. We appreciate and applaud the governors from the multiple states who have called attention to the ongoing need for blood donations and thank those who step forward to make a life-transforming impact on others by giving blood.”
Donating blood is easy and takes less than one hour. Many places of work can hold blood drives so employees don’t have to take off work (plus you get yummy cookies).
Dr. Daliah giving blood.
Inconsistent donation patterns during the year result in unpredictable and reliable blood supply numbers, hence donation is requested year round.
United Blood Services suggests donating three times a year.
The summer and holiday season appear to be the “driest” in terms of donations. States and regions frequently need to ship blood to areas who are in need.
One pint of blood has the potential to save three lives. Imagine what the whole country can do!
For a list of Governor Proclamations visit here.
After more than 30 years as a Supreme Court Justice, Anthony Kennedy has announced his retirement. This news probably doesn’t come as a shock to many, as the man is 81 years old making him the seconds oldest Justice that served. Ginsberg is three years his senior but has vowed to stay on the Court through the Trump administration.
President Reagan appointed Kennedy to the bench in 1988 and for almost two decades Justice Kennedy voted largely conservative on a variety of social issues including (but not limited to) - abortion, affirmative action and gay rights and the Gore vs. Bush recount; however, in more recent years he has cast a key swing vote for liberal principles casting the deciding vote in 2015’s for same sex marriage and even wrote the majority opinion - much to the chagrin of Republicans who began to view him as a turncoat. That being said, Kennedy did side recently with the majority allowing President Trump’s travel ban to stand.
So, Kennedy has voted on both side of the fence but with his departure it’s pretty much a certainty that President Trump will nominate a strong conservative to the high court. Which will give conservative judges a majority for, probably - decades.
Kennedy’s retirement will take effect at the end of July.
There is new hope that states with adult-use and medical marijuana laws on the books and states considering legalization or decriminalization will finally be able to stop worrying about the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) commandeering their police officers and sheriff’s deputies to enforce federal marijuana prohibition. A bipartisan group of United States’ Senators and Representatives introduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Entrusting States (STATES) Act on Thursday. It’s intent is to allow states to determine what marijuana laws are right for them.
Republican Cory Gardner of Colorado and Democrat Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts introduced the bill in the Senate. Republican David Joyce of Ohio and Democrat Earl Blumenauer of Oregon are co-sponsors of the bill they introduced in the House of Representatives. Upon introduction of the bill, its creators emphasized that their legislation would not make marijuana legal throughout the country – as if the name of the bill and its acronym weren’t revealing enough.
The bill’s bipartisan group of writers wants everyone to know the STATES Act is a states’ rights bill and not a legalize marijuana bill for obvious reasons – the biggest being that legislation ending federal marijuana prohibition would never pass Congress let alone get the support of Donald Trump, who said he’ll “probably” back the bill. But any legislation even misrepresented as a marijuana legalization bill would do lasting damage to the cannabis movement that has seen economies, government budgets, infrastructure and education improve while crime, opioid overdoses, suicides and healthcare costs decrease in states with adult-use or medical marijuana laws.
With the STATES Act, it will be nigh impossible for Conservatives to justify their opposition of the bill by calling it an endorsement of drug use. Politicians representing states that border states with adult-use or medical marijuana laws could claim the bill would only stretch their law enforcement and judicial budgets even thinner, but they couldn’t misrepresent the legislation to their constituents as an attempt to legalize marijuana. They could even request additional federal funding to address the increased law enforcement and judicial workload they anticipate, but they couldn’t vote “no” with the excuse of “I’m not about to legalize marijuana.” I mean, they could say that in their defense, but not without subjecting themselves to ridicule.
Another reason the bipartisan crafters of the STATES Act are making cannabis a states’ rights issue is because it appeals to a majority of the public. A Gallup poll conducted in June 2016 found that 55 percent of Americans prefer government power to be concentrated at the state level instead of the federal level, and Republicans are are four times as likely to support state power.
Giving more power to the states appeals to Republicans, Libertarians and even some Democrats. Hell, I’m a Socialist, and I support small government because I know Socialism, like all forms of governing, works most effectively and efficiently in people’s behalf when the number of people it governs is small and when that population is concentrated in a governable geographic area. Why? The answer was provided by the late Alan Thicke back in 1978: “Now, the world don't move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you, may not be right for some.”
Those are, of course, the opening lyrics to the “Diff’rent Strokes” theme song, and a more true statement could not be uttered let alone sung. The United States is a vast country that spans the spectrum of both geography and demography, which makes it difficult to govern. Americans experience such differing circumstances that what might be right for you, may not be right for some. Hell, in my home state of Montana you can drive eight hours and never leave the state, but the geography and the people change immensely. What works in the West probably won’t work in the East and vice versa. Marijuana legalization might be right for Californians, but it may not be right for Nebraskans. The STATES Act would allow states to choose what cannabis laws work best for their residents.
This isn’t the first time a bipartisan bill has been introduced to strengthen states’ rights to adopt and enforce marijuana laws as they see fit. I was on Capitol Hill as a student lobbyist for Students for Sensible Drug Policy five years ago when H.R. 1523, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013, was before the 113th Congress. It too sought to allow states to decide the legality of adult-use and medical marijuana by altering the Controlled Substances Act to exclude persons acting in compliance with state marijuana laws.
We felt way back then that this would be our path to ending federal marijuana prohibition, and while we weren’t going to get federal legalization, it was a compromise we were willing to make to appeal to Conservatives and get the legislation passed. I left the reception held after our lobby day filled with hope after hearing Democratic Congressman from Colorado Jared Polis and famed Conservative Grover Norquist agreeing that cannabis was an issue for states to decide by and for their respective residents.
According to Congress.gov, that bill is still before Congress, lost and forgotten by the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations since April 30, 2013. It has 28 cosponsors in the House, six of which are Republicans. The House version of the STATES Act already has 14 cosponsors in the House plus the two Representatives who assisted in drafting the bill. Eight are Republicans, so the new bipartisan bill is already appealing to more Conservatives than H.R. 1523.
This bipartisan group has high hopes for the STATES Act given what’s occurred since H.R. 1523 was introduced. The STATES Act does what H.R. 1523 would have. It amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude persons acting in compliance with state and tribal marijuana laws. But it doesn’t eliminate all federal oversight. Distribution of cannabis at transportation facilities and rest stops would remain federally illegal and enforced. The STATES Act does a lot more than allow states to determine their own marijuana laws, though. It also addresses some of the issues that have resulted from states legalizing adult-use or medical marijuana, which should appeal to both sides of the aisle.
Back in 2011, I wrote that cannabis would be America’s best cash crop ever – even bigger than tobacco. Marijuana consumption has already far surpassed my expectations upon its legalization for adult- and medical-use, but industrial hemp is what’s going to make cannabis America’s best cash crop ever. It grows like a weed if you’ll forgive the pun, and can be used for virtually anything. It’s a stronger fiber than cotton and can be used to make textiles that last longer so our clothes don’t fall apart in the wash. It will make stronger rope, hopefully saving mountain and rock climbers’ lives, and cowboys, cowgirls and sailors headaches. Hemp seeds are also rich in fatty acids, protein, fiber and other important nutrients. Hemp can even be used as fuel, which ExxonMobil will no doubt exploit given its investment into biofuels. All that algae research ended up being nothing more than a good PR campaign because hemp is a much less intensive biofuel to produce than algae. You can even build a house out of something called hempcrete, and cannabis can also relieve your pain without getting you high. That’s right, cannabidiol, better known as CBD, has been proven to have pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety properties without the psychoactive effects of THC. So cannabis can clothe you, feed you, shelter you, transport you and your things, relieve your pain, and even save your life while creating jobs and improving our environment by oxygenating the air. Along with solar and wind energy industries, industrial hemp will be one of the biggest contributors to the health of America’s economy and environment for years to come.
The STATES Act would make cannabis transactions legal, allowing cannabis providers to take methods of payment besides cash and store that money in a bank. Cannabis providers have had a justifiable fear of depositing their profits in federal banks subject to federal law. The federal government could seize those assets like they seize vehicles used to traffic drugs. No criminal charges need to be brought against the cannabis providers for them to lose their money either, as asset forfeiture is a civil action, not criminal.
Since its legalization in Colorado, many cannabis providers have hired motorcycle couriers to pickup and deliver literal saddlebags of money to be deposited in a safe somewhere. One California dispensary owner reportedly delivers $40,000 in cash in the trunk of his car every month simply to pay his taxes. The STATES Act would make those trips a thing of the past and likely result in fewer instances of theft.
So is 2018 finally the year federal marijuana prohibition ends? Some people think so, but ultra-Conservatives could get in the way, just as they did on a cannabis bill for veterans just last week. The STATES Act probably won’t have many supporters from the religious right, which will be its biggest obstacle to overcome. But now more than ever before, Senators and Representatives on both sides of the aisle are going to be more willing to consider the end of federal marijuana prohibition given what we’ve all learned from the experimentation spearheaded by states. Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia could all adopt medical marijuana laws this year, and if that doesn’t surprise you consider where we were five years ago, when Maryland relaxing criminal penalties for seriously ill people using marijuana was considered a win for cannabis advocates.
Your Senators and Representatives are not experts on cannabis and need you to inform them on the issue, so here’s a guide on how to do so most effectively. You’ll want to appeal to the humanity in them. Politicians are not cold robots. When they hear a story about someone using cannabis to treat their chronic back pain that otherwise would keep them bedridden, they can probably relate to that. They especially want to know if cannabis helped you kick your opioid addiction. They have friends and family struggling with the same problems with which the rest of us struggle, so speak or write from the heart. The facts will only bore them to the point they tune you out.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Cannabis A to Z