A Decision That Changed My Life

A Decision That Changed My Life

 

I believe that most every human who has ever lived has at some point in their life looked back upon their life and said what if. What if I had taken that other job offer and not the one I did except? What if I hadn’t married the person I did but had married a different person? Or maybe what if I hadn’t decided to drive drunk that one night or maybe what if I hadn’t shot that burglar. I am an old man now and I have had many such conversions within my  own self throughout the years. Personally I know that I have made many mistakes in my life that I wish dearly that I could go back and change yet even those things would have thrown the life I have lived right off the rails. Personally I believe that if there were an Angel up in Heaven with a little clicker like a home plate umpire uses in a baseball game and they clicked it every time I have screwed up, sinned, or made a wrong decision I think that clicker would have broken many years ago. Not something I am proud of, but the truth is still the truth.

 

Today in this letter to you I am going to pick out just one of those decisions to talk with you about, I hope you will think along with me as I talk to you about it.  The year was 1983 and that summer I decided that I would enlist in the U.S Army. I lived in the Dallas Fort Worth area of north Texas and I went to the designated location to take a battery of tests to see what I was best qualified to do once in the Service. Turns out that I scored very high on them and then a Sergeant with the Texas National Guard came over and talked to me. The Guard was looking for someone who scored real high to accept a position of a Lieutenant with the Texas National Guard but I turned down the offer and went into the regular Army instead.

 

I entered the Army on July 18th of 1983. While in Boot Camp at Fort Dix New Jersey while on a training mission I was struck by a bolt of lightning. To say the least that messed me up inside a lot. The results of that event totally and completely changed the course of my life from physical stand points. This messed up my legs, spine and heart and disabled me from any form of a natural life. What if I had taken the job as a member of the Texas National Guard? The Guard Boot Camp would have been in Texas at one of their Army Forts, not New Jersey. I would not have  been hit with that bolt of lightning. Maybe I would have been able to have lived a normal life style and never been injured at all. But, isn’t that really just a guess? Just because I wouldn’t have been at Fort Dix at that particular time, what if that decision of going into the Guard would have put me into a place and time where I would have gotten killed or mangled in some other event? Only the Lord knows all of the couda, wooda, shouldas, I know that as a human the best I can do is to just wonder, what if.

Why Pro-Legalization Cory Booker Isn’t Cosponsoring The New Marijuana Bill

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF MARIJUANA MOMENT)

 

POLITICS

Why Pro-Legalization Cory Booker Isn’t Cosponsoring The New Marijuana Bill

Published

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is in presidential campaign mode, and he’s made marijuana reform a critical tenet of his platform. So why isn’t he cosponsoring new bipartisan legislation to shield legal cannabis states from federal intervention that was introduced in Congress last week?

The senator signed on to an earlier version of the bill that was filed last year. And he’s repeatedly said that states should be granted the autonomy to set their own marijuana policies. That would be accomplished under the proposed bill, yet he declined to add his name as an original cosponsor of the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act.

The reasoning behind his decision was unclear until Tuesday, when Booker told VICE’s Matt Laslo that he’s withholding his support because the bill doesn’t go far enough in terms of repairing the racially disproportionate harms of prohibition.

“At this point it’s too obvious and urgent and unfair that we’re moving something on marijuana on the federal level and it doesn’t do something on restorative justice,” he told VICE. “I want that bill to have some acknowledgement of the savage injustices that the marijuana prohibition has done to communities.”

“I get very angry when people talk about legalizing marijuana and then give no light to how marijuana law enforcement was done in ways that fed upon poor communities—black and brown communities. This is a war on drugs that has not been a war on drugs—it’s been a war on people, and disproportionately poor people and disproportionately black and brown people.”

Listening to the 2020 Democratic candidate talk about his drug reform philosophy of late reveals something of a shift—one that places greater weight on social equity—and Booker seems to be indicating that the STATES Act doesn’t meet his standard for reform.

“We fundamentally have laws in this country that have treated people differently,” Booker said in separate comments last month. “I’m hoping all of us when we talk about marijuana legalization or marijuana decriminalization, in the same breath we’ve got to talk about expunging the records of everyone who is still suffering.”

Under the senator’s own Marijuana Justice Act, federal courts would have to expunge the records of individuals with convictions for possessing or consuming cannabis. It would go further too, by federally descheduling cannabis and penalizing states that enforce marijuana laws in a racially or socioeconomically disproportionate way by withholding certain federal funds. And that saved money would go toward community reinvestment efforts such as job training programs.

“Senator Booker is right that for any marijuana legalization bill to pass Congress, it must have robust racial justice provisions,” Michael Collins, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, told Marijuana Moment. “We need to take steps to right the wrongs of the war on drugs, and we hope that more members of Congress will embrace Booker’s position.”

It’s already apparent that Booker is working to distinguish himself from the current crowd of pro-legalization Democratic presidential hopefuls. For example, he seemed to make a veiled critique of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) after she made a lighthearted admission that she used marijuana during college.

“We have presidential candidates and congresspeople and senators that now talk about their marijuana use almost as if it’s funny,” he said last month. “But meanwhile, in 2017, we had more arrests for marijuana possession in this country than all the violent crime arrests combined.”

During that same campaign stop, Booker also said “do not talk to me about legalizing marijuana unless in the same breath you talk to me about expunging the records of the millions of people that are suffering with not being able to find a job,” touting his legislation.

Booker’s criticisms of what he sees as the inadequacies of the STATES Act, which was filed by competing presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), could provide another way for the senator to separate himself from the pack in the race—though Warren and Harris, along with other contenders, have also signed on as cosponsors of his Marijuana Justice Act.

The STATES Act is a relatively non-controversial, bipartisan bill, as far as cannabis reform in Congress goes. It has a states’ rights focus that has appealed to even some historically anti-marijuana lawmakers like Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), who endorsed the legislation in a letter to the chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

“[I]t sounds like I need to talk to Cory Booker about fixing a federal-state conflict,” Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), the chief Republican cosponsor of the Senate version of the STATES Act, told VICE. “This is about fixing a conflict in federal and state law that needs to be done, and it’s pretty simple. So I think he would be hard pressed to vote against it.”

To be clear, while Booker is withholding his name as a cosponsor of the bill, he hasn’t said he would vote against it—a prospect that would almost certainly sink its chances of clearing the Judiciary Committee, of which he is a member, if brought up for consideration there.

In the 116th Congress, the STATES Act also seems to have revealed additional political schisms in marijuana policy within the Democratic party. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) removed her name from the original cosponsors list after supporting the last version, for instance, but advocates suspect that that decision reflects what they see as the senator’s disingenuous prior support, which came in the midst of a re-election battle with progressive challenger, state Sen. Kevin de Leon (D).

https://www.marijuanamoment.net/sen-dianne-feinstein-signs-onto-marijuana-bill-after-decades-of-drug-war-advocacy/embed/#?secret=bZEm4WU4qn

Photo courtesy of Senate Democrats.

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The 11th State to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Is …

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘MOTLEY FOOL’ WEB SITE)

 

The 11th State to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Is …

This state could see $850 million in annual cannabis sales by 2022 if recreational weed is legalized.

Dec 2, 2018 at 11:41AM
This has been a big year for the North American cannabis industry. Without question, the highlight was the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada on Oct. 17. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had spoken for years about legalization and was finally able to see his vision realized with the passage of the Cannabis Act. A few years from now, when capacity-expansion projects are complete, the Canadian legal weed industry could be generating upward of $5 billion in added annual sales.

It’s also been a banner year for the U.S. market. During midterm elections in November, voters in two new states approved medical marijuana initiatives, bringing the number of states to have legalized pot in some capacity to 32. Residents of Michigan also voted to green-light adult-use cannabis, becoming the 10th state to do so.

Now cannabis enthusiasts and investors have turned their attention to which state(s) could be next to legalize. Thankfully, not much guesswork may be needed.

A judge's gavel next to a pile of dried cannabis buds.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

The Garden State has its eyes set on legalizing adult-use pot

On Monday, Nov. 26, two panels in New Jersey voted overwhelmingly to approve three new cannabis bills — one of which aims to legalize adult-use marijuana.

These panels, from the state’s Senate and Assembly, voted 7 to 4, with two abstentions in the Senate, and 7 to 3, with one abstention in the Assembly, in favor of the bill that would legalize recreational marijuana within the state. The additional two bills that also passed cover an expansion of the state’s existing medical cannabis program and the creation of a system that would speed up criminal expungements of low-level cannabis offenses. Now all three bills move on for an official vote from the full Senate and Assembly. Assuming passage, a recreational marijuana bill could find its way to Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D-N.J.) desk within a few weeks.

What might recreational legalization look like in the Garden State? As with other legalized states, it would allow adults aged 21 and up to purchase up to 1 ounce of cannabis. There would be an attached tax rate of 12%, which would be considerably lower than the aggregate tax rates that some folks might pay in Washington state or California of up to 37% and 45%, respectively. For what it’s worth, Gov. Murphy has suggested that a 12% tax rate is too low. Instead, Murphy has called for an excise tax of 25% on legal weed sales for what could be an $850 million industry within the state by 2022.

A bearded man holding up a lit cannabis joint with his fingertips.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Beyond the basics, the broad-based legalization bill also includes a section on the expedited expungement of low-level marijuana offenses. Though a separate bill is being worked on that would tackle this faster and more efficiently, the mere existence of this clause is worth noting. It’s also worth pointing out that North Dakota voters turned down a recreational legalization initiative in the recent midterms that had an expungement clause, suggesting that it’s no given to attract support.

Finally, the bill would allow for marijuana delivery services within the state, as well as give permission for dispensaries to create “consumption areas.” Essentially, New Jersey would permit pot shops within dispensaries where consumers could enjoy their product outside of their homes.

Needless to say, it’s an ambitious bill with a lot more going on than a simple cut-and-dried legalization of recreational pot.

An indoor commercial cannabis growing facility.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Marijuana stocks and investors are paying close attention

Though Gov. Murphy has taken exception to the proposed tax rate, he’s been very clear in the past about his support for legalizing recreational marijuana as both a revenue driver within the state and a means to reduce cannabis enforcement costs. This, presumably, gives New Jersey a very good chance of becoming the 11th state to legalize recreational pot. Should this happen, a number of pot stocks could be all smiles, and none more so than Curaleaf Holdings(NASDAQOTH:LDVTF).

Curaleaf, which IPO’d in late October with more than a $4 billion valuation, making it the largest IPO in marijuana history, currently has 28 dispensaries, 12 cultivation facilities, and nine processing sites throughout select legalized U.S. states. As a reminder, since the federal government has stood firm on its Schedule I classification for cannabis (i.e., wholly illegal), interstate transport of marijuana isn’t permissible. Therefore, the only way to vertically control supply and costs as a U.S. dispensary is to also grow and process cannabis within a state, which is what Curaleaf is doing.

As noted by analyst Robert Fagan of GMP Securities, courtesy of Investor’s Business Daily, the broad-based legalization bill would allow existing dispensaries in the state (which includes Curaleaf’s) to immediately begin recreational sales, assuming approval, without the need to apply for any new licensing.

Furthermore, Curaleaf is working on a 435,000-square-foot greenhouse facility in New Jersey. The first phase of that production should come online next year, allowing it to become a key producer and retailer within the Garden State.

A marijuana processor holding a freshly trimmed bud in their gloved left hand.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

By a similar token, the also-newly public Acreage Holdings (NASDAQOTH:ACRZF) would likely benefit from a New Jersey legalization. Back in March, the vertically integrated Acreage made the decision to enter the New Jersey market by partnering with the Compassionate Care Foundation (CCF) in the state. CCF is one of only six licensed alternative treatment center operators in New Jersey, with Acreage providing the financial resources to help meet patient demand. Presumably, with Acreage having assets up and down the cannabis supply chain, it could broaden its horizons if the New Jersey legalization bill passes.

Last, and per the norm, don’t sleep on KushCo Holdings (NASDAQOTH:KSHB). Pretty much anytime a new country or state legalizes in some capacity, KushCo is there chomping at the bit to get its piece of the packaging-and-branding-solutions pie. As a provider of tamper- and child-resistant packaging, KushCo ensures that medical and recreational growers remain compliant with local, state, and federal laws. Also, because packaging requirements tend to be so strict, KushCo takes on the task of helping growers and their products stand out. It’s an indispensable behind-the-scenes pot stock that could benefit if the Garden State goes green.

Sean Williams has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends KushCo Holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Legal weed is now one step closer to reality in N.J.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NJ.COM)

 

Legal weed is now one step closer to reality in N.J.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Are you interested in the N.J. cannabis industry? Subscribe here for exclusive insider information from NJ Cannabis Insider.

After months of false starts and delays, New Jersey took a big step toward legal weed on Monday, with lawmakers advancing a bill that would legalize the possession and personal use of marijuana.

Committees from both the state Senate and Assembly approved the bill, which now awaits a full vote in the Legislature before it could be signed into law by the governor.

After nearly four hours of debate in a hearing room packed with about 200 people, the bill cleared the Senate budget committee, 7-4 with two abstentions, and then Assembly budget panel, 7-2, with one abstention.

This is the first official action taken by the Legislature on recreational marijuana since Gov. Phil Murphy took office in January, in part on the promise to legalize marijuana. Prior to Monday’s hearing, no bill legal weed bill had made it past introduction.

Here's how N.J. is likely to legalize marijuana under new bill just unveiled by top Democrats

Here’s how N.J. is likely to legalize marijuana under new bill just unveiled by top Democrats

Gov. Phil Murphy still needs to be on board for the legal marijuana bill to become law.

“This process has been a long one,” said Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, who has led the charge for legalization in New Jersey. “I started talking about this 15 years ago.”

Despite the committee action on Monday, legalization is not assured.

Even the supporters of legal weed agree that New Jersey’s plan could still use some work, so it remains possible that legalization could bleed into next year as lawmakers continue to tweak the legislation. The only remaining day this year where the Legislature is scheduled to be in session is December 17.

“They’ve made good progress, but there are still changes that need to be made,” said Dianna Houenou, a senior policy advisor with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, who spoke in support of legalization. Houenou said she wanted to see improvements to language in the bill about expungement and other social justice issues.

Scutari said Monday that the bill remains a work in progress will be changed before it gets a floor vote. It has already been amended since it was introduced last week.

The legal weed bill, which was unveiled last week, would legalize the possession and personal use of one ounce or less of marijuana for people at least 21 years old, and create, regulate and impose a 12 percent tax a commercial marijuana industry in the state. An extra 2 percent excise tax could be raised for towns which host cannabis businesses.

The legislation also aims to speed up the expungement process for people who have prior arrests and convictions for possession or distributing small quantities of marijuana. Within six months of the law’s enactment, the Administrative Office of the Courts must create an electronic filing system for expedited expungements, a concept that has been the linchpin of social justice debate this year.

First pass at legal weed could roll into Statehouse in days, but full vote will require joint effort

First pass at legal weed could roll into Statehouse in days, but full vote will require joint effort

The top two leaders of the state Legislature gave an update Wednesday on the push to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey.

The main tension in the hearing on Monday was social justice versus money.

“This is still being sold under the auspices of social justice, but it’s about money,” said Sen. Ron Rice, D-Essex, who has long been opposed to legalization. “It’s not about social justice. It’s about money for white investors.

“It’s a slap in the face to people like me and people of color.”

But several lawmakers on the committees later pushed back on that idea, citing the state’s racially disproportionate marijuana arrest rate.

An ACLU report from last year found that black people are three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite similar usage rates between the groups.

“Do you have a solution that’s better than our current legislation?” Assemblyman Joe Danielsen, D-Somerset, asked a group of law enforcement officials about fixing the racially disproportionate arrest rate. If they did have a solution, they did not share it before the committee.

Other opponents of legalization mentioned health concerns associated with marijuana, along with one of the more confounding issues that accompanies legalization: driving while high. Inconsistent and sometimes flawed data regarding marijuana DUIs

means it's hard to draw firm conclusions

means it’s hard to draw firm conclusions

One of the biggest concerns about legalization is whether it would make New Jersey roads more dangerous. We looked at what happened in four states.

.But in the end, final passage of the legal weed bill may well come down to the balance of social justice and money. Houenou and other advocates, along with several key lawmakers, have said they wouldn’t support the bill if its social justice elements, like expungements and minority participation in a future industry, were too weak.

On the other hand, Murphy has indicated he might not support a bill unless it had what he concerns an acceptable tax rate. Murphy wants 25 percent, the new bill calls for a 12 percent tax.

On Monday, Murphy declined to say whether he’d support the bill that is now moving through the state Legislature.

“It’s too early to tell,” Murphy said during an unrelated news conference at his Trenton office.

“We haven’t commented on specifics, but I am very happy that this is moving.”

After the bill passed the committees, Senate President Stephen Sweeney said the Legislature would be getting Murphy’s approval on the bill before taking a full floor vote.

NJ Advance Media reporters Brent Johnson and Susan K. Livio contributed to this report.

Are you interested in the N.J. cannabis industry? Subscribe here for exclusive insider information from NJ Cannabis Insider.

Payton Guion may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @PaytonGuion. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

Can Trumpism Survive Without Trump?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

By Ryan Teague Beckwith

8:04 PM EST

In his ads, Ed Gillespie hit all the same notes as Donald Trump. He argued that his Democratic opponent was soft on MS-13, a brutal gang with origins in Central America. He criticized sanctuary cities, even though Virginia doesn’t have any. He argued for keeping up Confederate monuments.

But unlike Trump, he lost.

In a race closely watched by Democratic and Republican operatives from across the country, the former Republican National Committee chairman spent millions on ads that sounded Trumpist themes of the risks of immigration and the need to protect America’s heritage.

But Democrat Ralph Northam, the state’s not-particularly-inspiring lieutenant governor, roundly defeated Gillespie, 54 to 45 percent, as Democrats rode a wave of victories in other statewide offices and the state’s House of Delegates.

The nation’s foremost expert on all things Trump, one Donald J. Trump of New York City, had an explanation: Gillespie just wasn’t Trumpy enough. Taking advantage of Twitter’s new 280-character maximum, the president of the United States explained Tuesday night that Gillespie “did not embrace me or what I stand for.”

It’s somewhat true that Gillespie did not embrace Trump. The president did not campaign for the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, even though it’s a short drive from the White House, making him the first president since Richard Nixon not to do so. And Gillespie missed other opportunities to play up his connections, even as the president tweeted his praise.

But he more than embraced what Trump stands for, as evidenced by his campaign ads.

There’s another explanation. Trump was the ultimate outsider: a reality TV personality and billionaire developer who had never run for office or served in an elected position who pledged to “drain the swamp.” Gillespie was a creature of the swamp, a former party official who advised George W. Bush and Mitt Romney, worked as a lobbyist and ran unsuccessfully for Senate.

When Trump attacks MS-13, voters hear a guy who launched his campaign by going off-script to argue that Mexico is sending rapists to the United States. When Gillespie attacked, it was clear he was singing from a borrowed hymnal.

And then there are the views of political scientists. For all its history as the heart of the Confederacy, Virginia is a state whose demographics are trending blue. Trump’s approval rating is lower than any modern president. And Virginia has tended to vote for governors from the opposite party of the incumbent president in recent years. Maybe a loss was baked in.

All of these explanations hold some truth to them, but most of them are not good news for Donald Trump.

If Trumpism only works with Trump on the ticket, the president is going to find his Republican allies thinning out.

If Trumpism only works when the candidate is a true believer, the president may find there aren’t enough people who fit the bill and have the wherewithal to win a race. (That’s one reason former Trump advisor Steve Bannon’s potential picks for 2018 included several wealthy people who could self-fund.)

And if Trumpism is subject to the usual rules of politics — something Trump managed to evade in his unlikely 2016 campaign — then the president will find his party losing seats in the upcoming midterm elections.

There were other signs on Election Night that Trump could be in trouble.

Elsewhere in Virginia, Democrat Danica Roem defeated the state’s most socially conservative lawmaker, Del. Robert G. Marshall, to become one of the first openly transgender elected officials in the U.S.

The win was doubly sweet for LGBT advocates, as Marshall was the author of a failed bathroom bill, once called himself the state’s “chief homophobe” and referred to Roem using male pronouns.

That could be bad news for Trump, who has taken moves to bar transgender troops from serving in the military.

In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy decisively defeated Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, second-in-command to Trump’s erstwhile ally, Chris Christie, in a campaign in which he called on the blue state to turn an even deeper shade of blue.

A one-time Goldman Sachs executive who has never held elected office before, Murphy advocated for legalizing marijuanaraising the minimum wage to $15 and fighting the Trump Administration. Basically, very part of the preceding sentence is bad news for Trumpism.

In Maine, voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum to expand Medicaid under terms set by the Affordable Care Act, a move that Republican Gov. Paul LePage vetoed five different times. That’s not a positive sign for Trump, who vowed to repeal Obamacare as president.

And while each of these races can be explained away by local factors, the accumulation of results matters. Democrats have already begun citing Tuesday’s results to prospective 2018 candidates, while more Republican incumbents may be looking to join their colleagues who have already exited stage right.

The future of Trumpism remains an open question. But after Tuesday, the future of Trump looks much more cloudy.

Governor Shows His Self Centered Ego On Beach He Closed To the Public Over 4th Weekend

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to sunbathe on a beach he closed is dominating the national news on this day before the July 4 holiday. So, why did he do it? And what does it say about him — and any political future he might have? I put those questions — and a few more! — to NJ.com political reporter Matt Arco, who’s seen his fair share of crazy stories in the Garden State. Our conversation, conducted via email and lightly edited for flow, is below.

Cillizza: Christie announced a week ago he was planning to spend the July 4 weekend at the beach. Why? And was there ANY sense it would become such a giant deal?
Arco: The governor was asked in recent weeks about his July 4 plans and said he would be at the governor’s beach house with his family at Island State Park. In addition to getting the family together for the holiday, they were celebrating their oldest son’s birthday. As the likelihood of a shutdown became more apparent, Christie was asked if he was changing his plans or if he planned to go to the park, which is one of only two shore spots along the coast that are state parks and thus would be closed to the public. Christie said he wouldn’t change his plans. The event was to celebrate Andrew Christie’s birthday and get the family together.
A giant deal? No. But controversial? Yes. Christie’s popularity in the state is at a historic low. There’s an impasse between him and a top Democrat in the Assembly that’s preventing the Legislature from sending Christie a state budget. New Jerseyans don’t know who Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto is, but they do know Chris Christie. Christie knew he was going to take the brunt of the blame for the shutdown, but he doesn’t have to run again.
The governor was getting criticism from some lawmakers over the weekend for heading to the shore after working the day in Trenton. But putting a picture to the story? Things exploded.
Cillizza: Christie was at 15% approval before all of this. Is it the Trump connection? The presidential bid? Or something more local?
Arco: Christie had rock-star status when he was reelected in 2013. He was still feeling the love from his response to Hurricane Sandy and some polling had him in the 70’s. Then came  Bridgegate. From that point, Christie’s polls took a nosedive. But they didn’t enter the land of “terrible pol.” At some point, the numbers leveled off. That was until images of Christie hugging Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made the rounds. Christie took another hit. (Oh, and his time out-of-state as chairman of the Republican Governors Association didn’t do him any favors.) By the time he announced his presidential campaign, Christie’s numbers in New Jersey were in the tank. Then came Trump and Democratic-leaning New Jersey soured on Christie even further. At 15%, Christie is the state’s most unpopular governor of modern times.
Cillizza: Has Christie just stopped caring about what people in the state think of him? Otherwise, why do this?
Arco: The governor has repeatedly told the New Jersey press corps he’s not concerned about the negative polling. He also likes to say that he didn’t believe the polls when he was in the 70’s and he doesn’t believe he’s as disliked as all the latest polls suggest.
Cillizza: New Jersey has a very colorful history in recent governors — from Jim McGreevey to Jon Corzine to Christie. Is this the craziest story you have covered?
ArcoBridgegate was crazy and attending a lengthy press conference to discuss Christie’s lap band surgery was pretty crazy. But yes, this takes the cake. A governor caught sitting in a chair on the beach where he told us he’d be. It is crazy. But the optics for him are terrible.
Cillizza: Finish this sentence: “The political impact on Christie of Beach-gate will be __________.” Now, explain.
Arco: “A drop in the polls.”
This has the feeling of being like all those other things that caused Christie to taking a drop in the polls.

Bill to Regulate Marijuana Introduced in New Jersey

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MPP NEWS)

Bill to Regulate Marijuana Introduced in New Jersey

May 22, 2017 , , , ,


Last week, Senator Nicholas Scutari (D) introduced his long-awaited bill that would end marijuana prohibition in New Jersey and replace it with a system that regulates and taxes cannabis similarly to alcohol. Please contact your lawmakers and urge them to support S3195.

While Gov. Chris Christie has made no secret of the fact that he would veto such a bill, he is leaving office in January 2018. It’s important to get New Jersey’s lawmakers to discuss this important policy and show their support of ending prohibition now, so that change can happen quickly once a new governor is in office. While Sen. Scutari’s bill doesn’t include every provision in MPP’s model bill — notably not allowing for home cultivation — it would be a dramatic improvement over the status quo. One noteworthy provision would allow people with marijuana possession convictions to expunge their records immediately.

Despite someone being arrested for marijuana possession every 22 minutes in New Jersey, prohibition hasn’t stopped cannabis use, and it has disproportionately impacted African-Americans. If you are a New Jersey resident, please ask your legislators for their support in ending this failed policy.

Germany: After Berlin Murders: Chancellor Merkel Political Career Is In Jeopardy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST/WORLD POST)

THE WEEKEND ROUNDUP 

Europe was already reeling from major terror attacks in Brussels, Paris and Nice as well as Brexit and the defeat of the political establishment in the Italian referendum before this week. With anti-immigrant parties standing ambitiously in the wings waiting for events to further boost them into power, the worst thing that could have happened, the shoe waiting to drop, was a terror attack at Christmas time in Germany by an asylum-seeker linked to Islamist terror groups. It is just that which took place in Berlin this week.

That the inevitable has now occurred likely seals the political fate of Europe. Public opinion will surely turn decisively against the open-arms refugee policy of German Chancellor Angela Merkel — the most prominent defender of the troubled European project of integration and the free movement of people. Merkel’s coalition partner (yet mainstream opponent) Horst Seehofer of the Bavarian Christian Social Union, has already laid down the challenge. “We owe it to the victims, to those affected and to the whole population to rethink our immigration and security policy and to change it.” As Nick Robins-Early reports, the Alternative for Germany party and other anti-immigrant groups are already capitalizing on the incident. One AfD leader called those killed “Merkel’s dead.”

Alex Görlach hopes that Merkel’s considerable political skills can save the day by adjusting the Europe-wide refugee policy in the wake of this week’s tragedy. That she is also the only European leader who can stand up to the next American president, Görlach notes, could be a political asset.

Yet, even if the chancellor survives, the damage has already been done. The European idea, which has been losing luster for years, looks to be the latest and most consequential casualty of a world in turmoil that stretches from the rubble of Aleppo to the World War II memorial ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, near where the Christmas market attack took place in Berlin.

Writing from Germany, Stefan Schmidt argues that his fellow citizens should resist calls to blame anyone but the perpetrator while continuing to embrace the values of an open, but inevitably vulnerable, society. In a similar vein,Sebastian Christ writes from Berlin that, “We can’t give in to those who want to force their hate-filled world view on us. … On top of everything, we must continue to hold on to freedom for ourselves. I will definitely continue going to Christmas markets in Berlin.”

Picking up on the theme in the back of everyone’s mind about Muslims at Christmas, Dean Obeidallah fondly remembers his Muslim father, born near Jesus’ birthplace of Bethlehem, hanging Christmas lights on their home in New Jersey as a child. He also surveys other American Muslims who partake in the holiday, including Aasif Mandvi.

Unfortunately, the attack in Germany wasn’t the only attack we saw this week. Another act that shocked the world took place in Ankara, where the Russian ambassador to Turkey was assassinated. John Tures, who has studied the different motivations and effectiveness of “lone wolf” versus “wolf pack” terrorists linked to organized extremists, argues that preventing future attacks, whether of the kind in Berlin or Ankara, requires being able to distinguish between these two threats.

Details are still emerging about the attack in Ankara, but it appears to be an apparent act of revenge over the Kremlin’s key role in the brutal assault on Aleppo in recent weeks. As Alex Motyl writes, more such attacks can be expected due to Putin’s Syria policy. “Anti-Russian terrorism is the new normal,” he says. Turkish journalist Ilgin Yorulmaz ponders the timing of the assassination in Ankara, which came on the eve of a tripartite meeting of Russia, Turkey and Iran concerning Syria, and reports that some suspect a geopolitical aim. “A strong NATO member,” she writes, “Turkey may have found a new ally in Russia, and possibly even Iran, to become a game changer in the Middle East.”

This week also saw the last evacuations out of Aleppo. Dr. Ahmad Tarakji, whose organization has been working on the ground in the besieged city, offers a detailed account of the humanitarian catastrophe there, which he says is far from over after the forced relocations. “The world has failed the people of Aleppo time and time again,” he writes, “but it’s not too late to act now to help those seeking refuge somewhere else. The international community must do everything in its power to protect these most vulnerable of people. They continue to suffer while the world is standing idly by.”

Writing from Moscow before the Syrian regime claimed control over all of Aleppo,Vladimir Frolov proposes that the best course for the Kremlin now would be, “declaring victory in Aleppo, scaling down its military operations against the rebels, refocusing its air war on ISIS in a new collaborative effort with the U.S. and pressuring the Assad regime into a political settlement.”

Returning to the hot issue of Russian influence meddling in the affairs of democracies, Toomas Hendrik Ilves knows from whence he speaks. In 2007, the former president of Estonia experienced a Kremlin-led cyberattack on his government, banking and news media servers. He expects more such attacks in Europe as elections loom. “The conundrum that Europe will face in the coming year,” he writes from Tallinn, “is whether or not to use illiberal methods to safeguard the liberal state. … Because of cyberattacks and fake news, we can already imagine the problem all democratic societies will face in future elections: how to limit lies when they threaten democracy?”

In an exclusive interview, former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski claims Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in the effort to tip the recent American election scales in Trump’s favor. “Yes. Russian intelligence was involved, no question,” he says, “Yes. Putin plays that kind of direct role. Russian intelligence is not some independent agency. It is an agency of the state organized for specific political purposes. Putin absolutely controls the state apparatus. No doubts there.” He also warns that “stupid irritations” over Taiwan risk derailing America’s most important foreign policy relationship with Beijing. “A world in which America and China are cooperating,” Brzezinski underscores, “is a world in which American influence is maximized.”

One of the hottest issues in the U.S. presidential campaign was Donald Trump’s pledge to build a wall with Mexico. Writing from Mexico City, Homero Aridjis and James Ramey offer a highly innovative proposal: Instead of Trump’s wall, they want to build a border of solar panels. “It would have a civilizing effect in a dangerous area,” they contend. “Since solar plants use security measures to keep intruders out, the solar border would serve as a de facto virtual fence, reducing porousness of the border while producing major economic, environmental and security benefits on both sides.” Such an installation, they continue, “would make trafficking drugs, arms and people all the more difficult for criminal cartels. In Mexico, the solar border would create a New Deal-like source of high-tech construction and technology jobs all along the border, which could absorb a significant number of would-be migrant workers on their way to cross into the U.S. illegally, at great physical risk.”

Rolling back globalization to stem joblessness and inequality was another prime issue in the recent presidential election campaign. Branko Milanovic takes up this challenge, arguing that reversing globalization would only reduce growth rates in both the advanced and emerging economies, to no one’s benefit. “A more promising avenue for dealing with inequality in rich countries for the 21st century,” he writes, “is to reduce inequality in human and financial capital endowments. This implies, first, reversing the currently extraordinary high concentration of capital assets by giving the middle classes fiscal and other incentives to invest and own assets and, second, equalizing access to high-quality education that is increasingly monopolized by the rich.” A special Highline investigative report we publish this week traces the corporations and criminals profiting handsomely from the refugee crisis.

A ‘Good Samaritan’ saw a deputy being attacked by a Florida man so he fatally shot the assailant

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

A ‘Good Samaritan’ saw a deputy being attacked by a Florida man so he fatally shot the assailant

November 16 at 3:17 AM

Passerby shoots, kills suspect fighting deputy

Authorities are thanking a passerby who shot and killed a motorist fighting a deputy along a Florida interstate on Nov. 14. (Reuters)

When the man saw a patrol car parked on the exit ramp of a Florida interstate, he witnessed a scene too troubling to ignore: a sheriff deputy being slammed to the ground and beaten by a man in plain clothes.

The passerby, whom the Lee County Sheriff’s Office is now calling a “Good Samaritan,” rushed to the two men, telling the attacker he would shoot him if he refused to stop beating the deputy.

 The attacker, later identified as 53-year-old Edward Strother, continued to pin down the deputy and attack him, and the deputy struggled to keep his weapon away from him. When the attacker failed to comply to his warning, the passerby shot him three times, killing him, the News-Press reported.

The deputy, a 12-year veteran named Dean Bardes, was treated for his injuries and later released from the hospital.

Mike Scott, the Lee County sheriff, commended and thanked the man “who engaged the crazed assailant and stopped the imminent threat of great bodily harm or death to our deputy,” NBC-2 reported. He did not identify the man, however.

But the attacker’s brother later criticized the sheriff’s positive response to his brother’s death and questioned the details of the fight.

“They are calling him a Good Samaritan?” Strother’s brother, Louis Strother, said to the News-Press. “Was my brother armed?”

The scene had begun to unravel at about 9:30 a.m. Monday, when a driver began to recklessly swerve and drive along the left shoulder at what seemed to be at least 100 miles per hour, a witness told the News-Press. Bardes was responding to an unrelated crash involving the Florida Highway Patrol when Strother almost struck him with his car.

Sensing the near-crash was intentional, Bardes chased the vehicle southbound, until the driver stopped and exited his car at an off-ramp, approaching Bardes’s patrol car. The fight that ensued was one in a string of “egregious acts of aggression toward law enforcement officers across this country,” Scott, the sheriff, said.

Kimberly Jenkinson, a Florida woman driving by at the time, told WINK News she saw the man violently throw the officer to the ground.

“He just started punching him and hitting and hitting and hitting,” she said. “I was afraid for the police officer. I thought he was going to kill him.”

Later, she posted a status on Facebook that read, “I just watched a police officer get taken down. What is this world coming to?”

 

An emergency crew performed CPR on Strother at the scene in an attempt to revive him. Strother has a previous, active misdemeanor arrest warrant for failure to appear on a battery charge in Florida, according to NBC-2.

The “Good Samaritan” had a concealed-weapons permit that allowed him to carry his gun, NBC-2 reported.

Bardes, 47, of New Jersey, served in the U.S. Air Force for three months, before being discharged for knee pain, the News-Press reported. He worked as a corrections officer for two years before becoming a patrol officer.

The deputy’s file included notes from supervisors who wrote early on in his career that he acted cautiously and was always respectful of the public, the News-Press reported.

Bardes, “is able to deescalate situations and resolve these incidents in a fair and partial manner,” the personnel file states.

What Is The Value Of The Dollar Inside The United States?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MICHAEL REAGAN REPORT)

Michael Reagan
Businesses Flee California

By Michael Reagan

It never occurred to me that one could do exchange rate calculations between U.S. states. I always thought exchange rates only applied to foreign countries.

For example: Does the 20-to-1 exchange rate for pesos and dollars make up for the risk of decapitation on a visit to Mexico? Or should I settle for the much lower 1.32-to-1 exchange rate for Canadian dollars to U.S. dollars and have a better chance of surviving my vacation?

The Tax Foundation has estimated the difference in purchasing power for a $100 bill in various states. The winner of the competition was Alabama where you get $115.34 in value for your Benjamin.

Right next door to my home state of California, my former home state (went to high school there) of Arizona nets you $103.73 for your hundred smackers.

While in California your $100 is worth $88.97. Only in New York, New Jersey and of course Washington, D.C. could you get less for your money.

Is it any wonder Spectrum Location Solutions found 9,000 businesses left California between 2008 and 2015 in search of pastures where their greenbacks had more impact.

Joseph Vranich, president of SLS, told the Dallas Business Journal “companies are leaving California to escape escalating costs and regulations can move to Texas or Nevada that have no income tax and high relative purchasing power. I even wonder if some kind of ‘business migration history’ has been made.”

In the same interview Varnish estimated that California escapees have enjoyed “astonishing” operating cost savings from 20 to 35 percent.

That’s what happens when nanny state government decides to put the golden goose on an Ex-Lax diet to pay for its “compassionate” big government.

Some states claim to be “open for business” while California has “opened up on business.”

The top ten states that have enjoyed to California’s government-induced business exodus are Texas at the top followed by Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Virginia.

The California counties that have suffered the largest loss of businesses are just the ones you would expect: Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Diego, Alameda, San Mateo, Ventura, Sacramento and Riverside.

Proving that after a while business realizes California may have good weather, but you can’t take a climate to the bank.

Breitbart observed, “The Tax Foundation established a direct inverse correlation between purchasing power and the percentage level of state tax rate. California, with a 13.3 percent top state tax bracket, leads the nation.”

A dubious distinction that costs the remaining residents in lost employment opportunities.

Michael Reagan is the son of former President Ronald Reagan and chairman of the League of American Voters. His blog appears on reaganreports.com

 

 


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