Sunday, December 12, 2010

Last Call

You know you've made it big in Washington when your cause has industry lobbyists.

If there's one group of people who get their way in Washington, it's lobbyists.

Now, advocates of marijuana legalization may have a reason to cheer that political reality: They're getting their own marijuana lobby group.

And just Big Pharma and Big Oil lobby for greater leeway for their businesses, so too will Big Marijuana push for their industry to be given the freedom to succeed.

Aaron Smith, executive director of the newly formed National Cannabis Industry Association, says that marijuana legalization is "looking inevitable."

Smith told McClatchy news service: "It's pretty clear that the medical marijuana industry is becoming recognized more and more by the mainstream as a fully legitimate part of the economy."

Legalization "didn't happen in 2010, but it's likely to happen in 2012," he added. "It's going to be relatively soon we're going to see states move from medical marijuana into broader legal markets. And the federal government needs to catch up. Frequently the American people are ahead of the Congress."

Don't think legalized pot is going to be big business?  Look at the beer and cigarette giants.  Sure, there will still be specialist makers of these products (cigar makers, microbrewers, etc) but look how much beer and cigarettes pull in as far as profits and taxes.

I don't see legalized pot being any different.

The Whale Room At The Big Casino

In Vegas parlance, the biggest gamblers are called "whales":  they drop six-figure bets, have lines of credit, are treated like royalty by the staff, and blow a whole weekend gambling what would be an entire lifetime's worth of earnings for a regular American.  The financial world equivalent of the whale room at the biggest casino of them all?  The derivatives kings of Wall Street.

On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.
The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable — and controversial — fields in finance. They also share a common secret: The details of their meetings, even their identities, have been strictly confidential.
Drawn from giants like JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the bankers form a powerful committee that helps oversee trading in derivatives, instruments which, like insurance, are used to hedge risk.
In theory, this group exists to safeguard the integrity of the multitrillion-dollar market. In practice, it also defends the dominance of the big banks.
The banks in this group, which is affiliated with a new derivatives clearinghouse, have fought to block other banks from entering the market, and they are also trying to thwart efforts to make full information on prices and fees freely available. 

Why let anybody else into the club?  More derivatives dealers means more competition and less margin for the trading houses.  And these are the true "whales"...they buy and sell the American economy.  This shadow market is worth hundreds of trillions of dollars...and everything else is just background noise.  And since the meltdown two years ago, the entire derivatives machinery is controlled by a handful of banks who have locked everyone else out.

The Justice Department is "looking into it" of course.  But you're mad if you think anything will happen.

There's just too much money involved.

Steele Trying To Decide

RNC chair Michael Steele will supposedly make an official decision to run again for the position or not public tomorrow.

In an email sent to RNC voting members send last night, Steele announced a "private conference call" for the GOP leaders nationwide who will determine who leads the RNC for the next two years.

Steele has yet to announce whether he'll seek a second term as the field of Republicans interested in replacing him fills up. Politico reports "key supporters" of Steele expect he'll decline to run again.

That field got one name longer Friday when former RNC deputy chair Mary Cino formally entered the race for chair. Cino's name has been floated for weeks, and her bid enjoys the support of Vice President Dick Cheney as well as other big names from the Bush era.

As amusing as Steele has been, nobody's about to give him any credit for the Republican victories in 2010.  It's actually a bit of a shame.  Despite his many gaffes and attention-grabbing antics,  all Steele did was prove beyond a doubt that the real power in the Republican party rests not with the RNC, but the coalition of Super-PAC donors and fundraisers like Karl Rove's American Crossroads outfit.

In effect, these outside groups have completely taken over the RNCs duties in all but name.  It was happening anyway, but the Citizens United decision sealed that deal.  Steele was just there for show, but he put on a good one while he was there.

Playing the Devil's advocate, if Steele really was in charge, and responsible for the Republicans' substantial midterm victories, do you think letting him stay on would be a problem?  I don't.  Steele's a figurehead and he knew it.  But now the RNC is looking for somebody more substantial going into 2012.

Part of me is disappointed to see an African-American politician rise to the top like this when he was so obviously being used.  But the other part of me knows that Steele allowed himself to be used as a counter to Obama from the beginning.

I've said Steele was gone a number of times and I've been wrong so far, but that just meant he was more useful as a figurehead rather than a scapegoat.  This time I believe he'll step down.

Took Them Long Enough

With all the non-stop attention on Bernie Sanders's theatrics and the guilty pleasure of "the President's own party" opposing it, it seems the Village has finally noticed that there are those on the right who oppose Obama's tax deal as well.

Many conservative activists are particularly upset that the measure would add almost $900 billion to the deficit - although they all support the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, arguing those would spur economic growth.

Many conservatives, including Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota, are also concerned because the measure would increase some taxes, pointing to the resumption of the estate tax, as well as extending the unemployment compensation for the long-term unemployed without any offsetting spending cuts.

Bachmann told CNN's American Morning Friday she would not vote for the package as it is currently drafted.

"It ramps up spending in a big way, and it also ramps up deficits, and we are seeing a real difficulty with selling the treasury bonds," she said.

Leaders of the Tea Party Patriots group are asking each of their members to call five members of Congress urging them to vote against the proposal.

"The Deal" or 'The Tax Deal' as it is becoming known around the country between President Obama and Congressional Leadership is problematic. This is a deal that needs to be opposed," says the group on its website.

"I am very upset. It is a direct breach of the Republican pledge not to add to the deficit," the Tea Party Patriots' National Coordinator Mark Meckler told CNN.

I could have told you this would be the real Republican reaction to the deal, and I said as much earlier in the week.   Anyone who has been paying even basic attention to the Tea Party in the last year should have known that there was no way they would allow increased deficit spending, or a bipartisan win for President Obama, and sure as hell no way they would allow something that did both to go by unchallenged.

The same conservatives who are gleefully taunting progressives saying that the President has abandoned them are the same ones who have failed to notice that Republicans are doing the same to the Tea Party.  And that latter fight is going to be far more ugly.

Snowed In

A major blizzard in the Midwest has dumped enough snow this weekend in Minneapolis to actually collapse the roof of the Metrodome.

A blizzard warning remains in effect in parts of Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota where heavy snow caused the roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to collapse, a spokesman for the Minnesota State Patrol said Sunday.

The National Weather Service issued an alert Sunday for parts of the three states and regions along the Mississippi River, warning travelers of hazardous conditions caused by heavy snow, fierce winds and subzero temperatures.

In Minneapolis, the roof of the city's 64,000-seat football stadium caved in, its iconic dome no longer visible after more than 17 inches of snow blanketed the Twin Cities since Friday.

Concerns about the stadium's Teflon-covered inflatable dome surfaced Friday night, prompting officials to postpone a football game between the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings.

I'm sure Green Bay fans are laughing their asses off.  Perhaps the dome will be ready for Monday night's game, or not.  Hell, I'm sure the Packers would let the Vikes use Lambeau Field if the dome wasn't reinflated, just to piss them off.
Related Posts with Thumbnails