Mexico just took a big step toward marijuana legalization

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

Mexico just took a big step toward marijuana legalization

Mexico’s Supreme Court deemed the country’s marijuana prohibition law unconstitutional.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday deemed the country’s marijuana prohibition law unconstitutional, bringing America’s neighbor one step closer to marijuana legalization.

It was not the first time the court made such a ruling, but it was the fifth time — a crucial threshold in Mexico. Under the country’s legal system, once the Supreme Court reaches a similar decision in five separate cases, the standard set by the rulings applies to the country’s entire court system.

As the Associated Press explained, “The rulings technically do not legalize recreational use, however. They establish that courts must allow it, but it is still up to each individual to press his or her case in the judicial system.” The rulings apply to possession, use, and growing — not commercialization or sales.

The Supreme Court “found that adults have a fundamental right to personal development which lets them decide their recreational activities without interference from the state,” the AP reported. The right is not absolute, and it does not apply to all substances — but it does mean that total marijuana prohibition is unconstitutional.

Suprema Corte

@SCJN

Primera Sala reiteró inconstitucionalidad de la prohibición absoluta del consumo recreativo de marihuana. Lo que permitió integrar jurisprudencia sobre el tema.

Mexican lawmakers could react to the ruling by adjusting the law to regulate marijuana under the new legal framework set by the Supreme Court. Officials in President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government have indicated that they may legalize marijuana, Reuters reported.

If Mexico’s government follows through, the country could become the third in the world to legalize pot for recreational purposes — after Uruguay and Canada.

Although nine states in the US have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, pot is still illegal under federal law in America.

Supporters of legalization argue that it eliminates the harms of marijuana prohibition: the arrests over a relatively harmless drug (and the racial disparities involved in America), and the billions of dollars that flow from the black market for marijuana to drug cartels that then use the money for violent operations around the world. All of this, legalization advocates say, will outweigh any of the potential downsides — like increased cannabis use — that might come with legalization.

Opponents, meanwhile, claim that legalization will enable a huge marijuana industry that will market the drug irresponsibly. They point to countries’ experiences with the alcohol and tobacco industries, which have built their financial empires in large part on some of the heaviest consumers of their products. This could result in far more people using pot, even if it leads to negative health consequences.

At least in Mexico, the supporters won a big victory this week.

For more on marijuana legalization, read Vox’s explainer.

2 pastors just heckled Jeff Sessions at an event on religious liberty

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX.COM)

 

2 pastors just heckled Jeff Sessions at an event on religious liberty

They told him “you are wounding the body of Christ” by failing to care for marginalized.

Jeff Sessions has come under fire from religious groups for his anti-immigrant stance
 Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was heckled by religious leaders for his approach to the migrant crisis at a religious freedom event Monday morning.

While Sessions spoke about religious freedom at the Boston Lawyers chapter of the conservative Federalist Society, two religious leaders interrupted his speech, according to video footage from ABC News. The first man, since identified as United Methodist Pastor Will Green of the Ballard Vale United Church in Andover, quoted lines attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “I was hungry and you did not feed me. I was a stranger and you did not welcome me. I was naked and you did not clothe me.” The verses are frequently read as Jesus’s exhortation to care for the poor, sick, and marginalized.

He then told Sessions, “Brother Jeff, as a fellow United Methodist, I call upon you to repent, to care for those in need, to remember that when you do not care for others you are wounding the body of Christ.”

While Green did not explicitly state what he was criticizing Sessions for, the attorney general has frequently come under fire from some religious groups for his hard-line stance on immigration, including his role in helping enact the Trump administration’s migrant family separation policy. Sessions is currently advocating for the narrowing of grounds for applying for asylum in the United States, even as a 4,000-strong caravan of migrants from Honduras is currently making its way to the United States-Mexico border.

ABC News Politics

@ABCPolitics

Religious leaders interrupt Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ speech: “Brother Jeff, as a fellow United Methodist I call upon you to repent, to care for those in need.”

Sessions: “Well, thank you for those remarks and attack but I would just tell you we do our best everyday”

His companion, Pastor Darrell Hamilton of the First Baptist Church in Boston, rose to give a second speech, but was drowned out by boos and cries of “go home” from the audience. As he was escorted out, Hamilton accused his audience of being “hypocrites” for advocating for religious liberty politically, only to deny him the opportunity to express his religious faith by quoting the gospel at the event.

Sessions appeared to laugh off the interruption, telling his audience, “I don’t believe there’s anything in the Scripture … [or my] theology that says a secular nation-state cannot have lawful laws to control immigration … not immoral, not indecent, and not unkind to state what your laws are and then set about to enforce them.” His listeners responded with raucous applause.

This is not the first time Jeff Sessions has come under fire from religious leaders for his role in the migrant crisis. In June during the migrant family separation crisis, 600 clergy and members of the United Methodist Church brought formal church charges against Sessions, who is himself a Methodist, over his role in the crisis.

Sessions was charged with racism, child abuse, immoral behavior, and the dissemination of heretical Biblical teaching — a reference to his use of the Bible verse Romans 13 to justify Christians’ submission to government policy on the issue of migration. The charges were dropped two months later, with the district superintendent in charge of Sessions’s church, Barbara Bishop, arguing in a statement that “a political action is not personal conduct when the political officer is carrying out official policy.”

The protests of the two clergymen at the event exemplify the increasingly visible role that the religious left, including both mainline Protestants and some evangelicals, are playing under the Trump administration.

From presiding Episcopal bishop Michael Curry’s fiery liberation theology-tinged sermon last spring at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Royal Wedding to retired Episcopalian bishop Gene Robinson’s openly political advocacy for LGBTQ rights at last week’s interring of Matthew Shepard, more and more religious leaders are using their platform to spread a message of political resistance.

Or, in the case of these two men, simply sharing the gospel.

Update: this article has been updated to reflect the fact that the pastors have now been identified

Lindsey Graham, Brett Kavanaugh, and the unleashing of white male backlash

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

Lindsey Graham, Brett Kavanaugh, and the unleashing of white male backlash

“I’m a single white male from South Carolina, and I’m told I should just shut up, but I will not shut up.”

Friday morning, during a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said probably the most honest thing about this hearing that a Republican has said during the entire process.

“I’m a single white male from South Carolina, and I’m told I should just shut up, but I will not shut up,” Graham said.

Graham is elevating the stakes of the Kavanaugh hearing. No longer is this about Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, or what he may have done to her in suburban Maryland in 1982. It’s about beating back the challenge from feminists and people of color demanding a seat at the table; it is about showing that white men in power are not going anywhere — that they will not listen, will not budge, and will not give ground to #MeToo or the Black Lives Matter movement.

This was always the subtext of the Republican approach to the sexual assault allegations. But now Graham has officially made it the text: Voting “yes” on Kavanaugh is the battle cry of the reactionary man.

Lindsey Graham, Donald Trump, and backlash politics

Donald Trump’s 2016 election is now widely understood among social scientists to be a kind of backlash to social progress. The backlash against a black president gets the bulk of the attention, but there’s also good evidence that a sexist backlash to the prospect of a woman president played a major role.

Research by three political scientists — Brian Schaffner, Matthew MacWilliams, and Tatishe Nteta — found extremely strong correlations between an individual’s scores on measures designed to estimate racist and sexist sentiments and their likelihood of supporting Trump:

Brian Schaffner/Matthew MacWilliams/Tatishe Nteta

There is not a single, discrete backlash in the United States in the Trump era. There’s a more wholesale one, directed not just against racial minorities but decades of social progress for all sorts of different marginalized groups. Trump is a living, breathing avatar of this kind of politics. But at the outset of his presidency, it was an open question as to how far Republican members of Congress would be willing to buttress the president on these points.

Graham just showed that he’s pretty willing indeed.

The specific language that he used — “I’m a single white male from South Carolina, and I’m told I’m just supposed to shut up” — is a direct reference to one of the core arguments used by feminists and social justice activists: that white men in positions of privilege don’t have direct experiences with hostile sexism or racism, and should listen to the people who have.

Graham is saying he cannot, and will not, listen: He will vote for Kavanaugh regardless of what Ford said, and will defend him in the face of any criticism about the gender and power dynamics at work.

“I will not shut up” is a perfect mantra for Trumpian backlash politics. There is no risk that white men are, in mass, going to be silenced: They occupy the commanding heights of power in every walk of American life. The demands that they be quiet at times are a response to the over representation of their voices, that they understand what life is like for more vulnerable people and then change the way they act accordingly.

But Graham is not willing to give even that little ground. His rage on this point, one shared by Trump’s base, has been palpable throughout this process. During Thursday’s hearing, he interrupted Rachel Mitchell, the sex crimes prosecutor that Republicans had deputized to ask questions during the hearing, to deliver a furious rant in defense of Kavanaugh.

“To my Republican colleagues, if you vote no, you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics,” Graham said during Thursday’s hearing.

After Graham spoke, Mitchell was denied a single additional question. The Republicans on the committee, all white men, took turns apologizing to Kavanaugh for what he had gone through.

The literal silencing of Mitchell, and the stolid refusal to credit Ford’s account of Kavanaugh’s behavior, shows just how much contempt the modern Republican Party has for the idea of taking women’s equality serious seriously. The Kavanaugh confirmation has been a defiant attempt to show that #MeToo does not speak for the country, and a declaration that the white men the movement has targeted will not back down.

There is no better epitaph for this whole sorry episode than a white man from South Carolina saying he will not shut up.

Kentucky: Veteran Amy McGrath continues a Democratic winning streak for women and veterans

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

Veteran Amy McGrath continues a Democratic winning streak for women and veterans

McGrath, a first time candidate, beat Lexington Mayor Jim Gray in a Kentucky House primary race.

Courtesy of McGrath campaign

Insurgent candidate Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot, pulled off an upset victory in a Democratic primary House race in Kentucky on Tuesday night, defeating the party establishment candidate.

McGrath emerged from a three-person race in Kentucky’s Sixth District, beating her main challenger Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. The race was called around 8 pm, with McGrath winning with 46 percent of the vote, compared to Gray’s 42.3 percent. Gray, a millionaire who ran for US Senate against Rand Paul in 2016, had the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

McGrath was born in Kentucky but only recently returned to the state; she spent the past couple decades serving in the Marine Corps as a fighter pilot. With help from a viral campaign announcement video highlighting her years of military service, McGrath went from an outsider and first-time candidate with no name recognition to the Democratic nominee.

Throughout the campaign, McGrath positioned herself as a change agent, part of a new generation of young candidates and Congress members, and touted her lack of political experience — the very thing her opponents attacked her for.

“Recruiting the same types of big-city, older millionaires is not the future,” McGrath said in a January interview with Vox. “Especially in the Democratic Party, we cannot keep relying on a staple of rich white people, old men, to save the Democratic Party.”

But McGrath’s opponents attacked her outsider status as evidence that she didn’t know the district she was running in. Having recently moved to Kentucky from the DC area, McGrath struggled to name the counties of three rural communities when asked about them at a debate.

In the run-up to Tuesday night, Gray’s campaign released its first negative ad about McGrath, hitting her for moving back to the state to run.

Ally Mutnick

@allymutnick

SIREN: @JimGrayCongress is airing 1st negative ad of the race, hitting @AmyMcGrathKY as a carpetbagger ahead of Tuesday’s primary

“Now she’s running for Congress to represent the one place she’s never lived: here,” a narrator says on the ad. “In fact, she moved here from Maryland just last year to run for Congress. We honor Amy McGrath’s service, but shouldn’t she live here for a while before she tries to represent us?”

The ad immediately received pushback from veterans groups like VoteVets and some sitting members of Congress who are veterans, such as Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA).

“You can elevate yourself, but don’t attack another Dem,” Lieu tweeted. “One reason @AmyMcGrathKY lived in a different place is because she was serving our nation in Afghanistan & Iraq flying F-18 combat missions. Stop attacking her military service. Take your ad down.”

Ted Lieu

@tedlieu

Dear @JimGrayCongress: You can elevate yourself, but don’t attack another Dem.

One reason @AmyMcGrathKY lived in a different place is because she was serving our nation in Afghanistan & Iraq flying F-18 combat missions.

Stop attacking her military service. Take your ad down. https://twitter.com/votevets/status/997660601886429191 

Gray’s ad demonstrated another thing: In the last few weeks of a race that was supposed to be an easy win for him, the Lexington mayor saw McGrath as a serious competitor.

McGrath now faces Republican Andy Barr, and she’ll likely have help from national Democrats

Even though things started out tense between McGrath and national Democrats, this likely won’t be another Laura Moser oppo memo situation in Texas. McGrath wasn’t happy with the DCCC for backing Gray early on; her campaign had also been in talks with the organization before they added Gray to their Red to Blue list.

“It’s disappointing to me that they would do that, especially after the talk of them wanting more veterans and more women, and more first-time candidates,” she told me in January. “To have done that, it kind of shows you the real disconnect between the national Democratic Party and places like Kentucky. And the key is, we have forgotten, as a party, how to win the Midwest and the South.”

Even after the McGrath campaign’s initial furor at the DCCC backing Gray, National Journal’s Ally Mutnick reported the campaign has kept in regular contact with the DCCC to show them internal polling numbers that had McGrath ahead of Gray.

McGrath has also shown herself to be a very capable fundraiser; she’s raised about $2 million as of May, as opposed to the $1.3 million Gray raised (although Gray still had more cash on hand).

In other words, even as McGrath positioned herself as the outsider candidate, she was making sure to keep up a good relationship with national Democrats, whose support she’ll need in order to triumph over Barr in the fall.

The ultimate test in November comes down to whether McGrath can convince Trump voters to cast their ballots for her instead of Barr. The district leans Republican, and many of its rural counties voted for the current president in 2016. But it contains 100,000 more registered Democratic voters. In other words, it’s prime Trump country.

Barr will face a tough election no matter what. Democrats have already mounted credible challenges to him in past years but fell short on fundraising. That’s different this year. McGrath and Gray fundraised millions between the two of them in the primary; they have real fundraising chops. Barr will also have to defend his votes for Obamacare repeal and GOP tax cuts.

Now she’s made it through the primary, McGrath is betting that her anti-establishment brand will carry her to Washington in an election year that’s shaping up to be a Democratic wave.

Once Again Jeff Sessions Makes A Pathetic Joke Out Of The “Justice Department”!!!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘VOX’ NEWS SITE)

The US Department of Justice is literally prosecuting a woman for laughing at Jeff Sessions

As attorney general, Jeff Sessions now heads the Justice Department.