Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Honey Badger's Last Hurrah

Senate minority leader Harry Reid may have one last ace up his sleeve before he retires and heads back to Nevada in the form of procedural maneuvering to force Senate Republicans to vote on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, whose nomination has now been blocked by the GOP for a record-breaking 148 days without a even a hearing.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday left the door open for Democrats to potentially use a procedural tactic to force a vote on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. 
"We have a couple of options, and we're deciding when to do that and if we should do it — when and if," Reid told reporters during a conference call. "I've been in touch with some of my senators during the break to determine that." 
Reid didn't specify how Democrats could bring Garland's nomination to the Senate floor, but said they had some "extreme" options that would ultimately need more than 50 votes to succeed.

"It all boils down to whether you have more than 50 votes. If you don't have more than 50 votes ... most of it is not for anything other than a little drama," he said.

Democrats currently hold 44 seats, in addition to Independent Sens. Angus King (Maine) and Bernie Sanders (Vt.), who caucus with them. 
One option could be using a discharge resolution to bypass Republicans on the Senate floor and try to force the nomination out of the Judiciary Committee, where it has been waylaid by Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-Iowa) refusal to give Garland a hearing. 
Reid's comments come amid a months-long entrenched fight over Garland's nomination after President Obama nominated him in March. 
GOP leadership has pledged to keep the seat open until next year, allowing Obama's successor to fill the vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia's death.

There are several scenarios that play out here: First, should GOP Senate races start crumbling under the weight of Donald Trump's disastrous campaign, opposition to Garland's nomination could crumble along with it in an effort to split the ticket and "save" GOP control of the Senate. once they come back from Labor Day recess.

Second, the GOP gambles they can keep 51 seats and they lose in November, or that Clinton loses in November, and they lose on both counts.  This is probably just as likely as scenario one in my head, and in both cases opposition crumbles and the Senate GOP accepts Garland.

Third, Reid plays his ace and the pressure during the campaign breaks the GOP.  The rest plays out like in scenarios one and two: opposition to Garland's nomination fails.

Four is where things get interesting: this is where Clinton is elected but the GOP keeps the Senate, barely.  This however imperils a whole different group of GOP senators in 2018, and they probably don't want to deal with this can being kicked down the road.  A lot of moving parts happen here, but I would think Garland would at least get his hearing and a vote.

Five? Five is where Trump wins, and well...all bets are off.  We do not speak of Scenario Five.

Weeding Out Change

The DEA is rejecting any notion that it will relax prohibition on marijuana, pointedly announcing today that it will keep pot as a Schedule I substance subject to federal drug laws.

The Obama administration has denied a bid by two Democratic governors to reconsider how it treats marijuana under federal drug control laws, keeping the drug for now, at least, in the most restrictive category for U.S. law enforcement purposes. 
Drug Enforcement Administration chief Chuck Rosenberg says the decision is rooted in science. Rosenberg gave "enormous weight" to conclusions by the Food and Drug Administration that marijuana has "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States," and by some measures, it remains highly vulnerable to abuse as the most commonly used illicit drug across the nation. 
"This decision isn't based on danger. This decision is based on whether marijuana, as determined by the FDA, is a safe and effective medicine," he said, "and it's not."
Marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, alongside heroin and LSD, while other, highly addictive substances including oxycodone and methamphetamine are regulated differently under Schedule II of the law. But marijuana's designation has nothing to do with danger, Rosenberg said. 
In a letter to the petitioners, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New Mexico nurse practitioner Bryan Krumm, Rosenberg said doctors are responsible for treating patients, but the FDA makes decisions about drug safety: "Simply put, evaluating the safety and effectiveness of drugs is a highly specialized endeavor." 
Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, said in a statement that the decision was disappointing. 
"President Obama always said he would let science — and not ideology — dictate policy, but in this case his administration is upholding a failed drug war approach instead of looking at real, existing evidence that marijuana has medical value," he wrote. 
Most Americans support legalization, Angell wrote, and the federal government should at a minimum leave regulatory decisions to the states.

I don't use pot myself, but like most Americans I know people who do. I don't think it's a huge deal considering how many Americans die from smoking or booze every year, both of which are regulated, taxed, and still sold to people.  The real problem is the criminal justice aspect of federal pot laws (and state laws), which imprison tens of thousands every year , a disproportionate amount being black and Latino when the majority of pot users are white.

It's completely up to the Obama administration to determine whether or not pot is a Schedule I drug or not, and the president is making it very, very clear that it will continue to be.  That's unfortunate for any number of reasons, and it will become Hillary Clinton's problem to deal with starting next January (I hope...)

Regardless, I expect this to change pretty quickly should large states like California legalize recreational pot use, and several states including California will be holding votes in November to do just that.  Having enough states legalize, regulate and tax pot is going to eventually cause the necessity for federal statues to be changed.

We've seen it before with same-sex marriage.

The Donald Getting Trumped In Cincy

To win the White House, as a Republican Donald Trump has to win Ohio.  To win Ohio as a Republican, Trump has to win Hamilton County and Cincinnati.  Any political strategist could have told The Donald this, but apparently he's just not smart enough to care.

With the presidential election 90 days away, the Donald Trump campaign is scrambling to set up the basics of a campaign in Hamilton County, a key county in a swing state crucial to a Republican victory, a recent internal email obtained by The Enquirer shows. 
The campaign has yet to find or appoint key local leaders or open a campaign office in the county and isn't yet sure which Hamilton County Republican party's central committee members are allied with the Republican presidential nominee. 
"If they are against us, we just need to know," wrote Missy Mae Walters, Southwest Ohio regional coordinator for the campaign. 
Even campaign materials, such as signs and stickers, aren't yet available.
"We have been promised they're on their way," she wrote. 
The campaign plans to open 25 Trump "Victory Centers" statewide, she said, but a planned Monday opening of an office in Kenwood got held up waiting for a legal department sign-off. Some volunteer training sessions have been set up with more planned, she wrote. 
The email indicates a campaign whose ambition matches the urgency of its late arrival. The campaign plans to have a presence at the Labor Day union picnic event in Cincinnati, in an attempt to siphon supporters for Donald Trump's trade policies away from what would otherwise be a heavily Democratic crowd. 
A request for comment from the Trump campaign in Ohio wasn't immediately returned on Wednesday.

And this is why Trump is done:

The state of the Clinton campaign in the county and statewide stands in stark contrast. It had 12 offices open across Ohio at the end of last week, with local offices in Walnut Hills, Pleasant Ridge and Woodlawn. The campaign is opening seven more offices this week, including a Mason office on Wednesday night.

So that makes 19 Clinton offices in Ohio, and four in Cincinnati alone.  Meanwhile, Trump's ego is so massive he assumes that everyone will vote for him because he's Donald Trump. The fact that people are doing the opposite for that reason hasn't occurred to him.  If you can't win Hamilton County as a Republican, you're done.  Romney and McCain both lost Hamilton County. to Barack Obama. Both lost Ohio as a result.  Both went on to lose the White House because no Republican has ever won without Ohio.

Trump isn't even trying to win Hamilton County yet.  That should tell you everything you need to know about him.


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