Vermont Stoners Can Now Light Up, Legally

On Monday, Vermont became the ninth state in the United States to legalize recreational marijuana, and the first to do so through state legislative action. Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine — plus Washington, D.C. — all passed their legalization measures through ballot initiatives.

Vermont’s approach to marijuana legalization also seems to be more limited and deliberate than the process has been in other states, undoubtedly the result of having to get through the legislative debate process and win the approval of Vermont Governor Phil Scott, a Republican who did sign the bill into law but was far from an enthusiastic supporter.

After signing the bill, Scott posted a statement on his website saying that he was signing the bill “with mixed emotions.”

“I personally believe that what adults do behind closed doors and on private property is their choice, so long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children,” said Scott.

Under the bill, H. 511, marijuana remains a controlled substance but a small exception is carved out for personal use. After the law takes effect on July 1, personal possession of marijuana will be decriminalized for adults who are at least 21 years old. Specifically, what is allowed is personal possession of no more than one ounce, and cultivation of two mature marijuana plants (and four immature plants) on private property.

Consumption of marijuana in public will remain illegal, as will selling marijuana, or being under its influence while operating a motor vehicle. Additional provisions allow schools, employers, landlords, and local governments to adopt their own policies or ordinances restricting the use or possession of marijuana.

A previous bill, S. 22, had been vetoed by Scott last May, and he conditioned his approval of H. 511 on the inclusion of certain provisions, including increased penalties for use by minors, or for adults who provide marijuana to minors, plus additional measures targeting highway safety.

A “Marijuana Advisory Commission” will review issues related to the sale and taxation of marijuana, and make recommendations by the end of the year to the Vermont General Assembly to consider before any system allowing the commercial sale of marijuana to adults will be enacted.

Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, called Vermont’s new law a “great step forward.”

“Responsible adults will soon have the freedom to enjoy a safer option legally, and law enforcement will be free to concentrate on serious crimes with actual victims,” said Simon.

The new law in Vermont follows a trend of increased public support for reducing or eliminating altogether criminal penalties for personal marijuana use. A Gallup poll from October 2017 found 64% of Americans supported legalization, the highest percentage in five decades they had polled the issue. This included, for the first time, support from the majority of Republicans.

Meanwhile, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions seems determined to push the federal government in the opposite direction of these states, rescinding Obama-era policies that instructed federal agents not to attempt to enforce federal law in states that opted for legalization.

The answer may lie in Congress following Vermont’s path, a step-by-step approach to adopting laws that decriminalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use, and studying the issue before rolling out a regulatory system for a commercial marijuana market. The nine states (plus D.C.) that have now allowed some level of legal recreational use, plus the additional dozens that allow medical marijuana uses, can provide data for the research studies.

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Paul Nehlen Is Very Angry About Jews in the Media

Just in case it wasn’t already clear what a total garbage person Paul Nehlen is, today he spent a few hours on Twitter reminding everyone that he is an anti-Semitic nutcase.

Nehlen, who has launched another challenge for Speaker Paul Ryan’s Congressional seat despite losing by a humiliating 68 points in 2016, is annoyed that an article posted at Buzzfeed last week reported how he was coordinating with alt-right Twitter users to attack his critics in the “Jewish media.”

Nehlen attempted to refute the accusations of anti-Semitism by posting a series of tweets complaining about Jews in the media.

Yes, really.

In a string of tweets Monday afternoon, Nehlen claimed that the private message discussions that Buzzfeed reported were merely “a coordination effort by my supporters on my behalf.” He then argued that the references in these messages to the “Jewish media” aren’t anti-Semitic, but are actually a “well-founded observation.”

Nehlen then posted several graphics with the names and photos of people employed by major media organizations, identified with Jewish stars next to their photos, to indicate if they are Jewish or have a Jewish spouse. He did this for CNN, NBC, the New York Times, NPR, and Fox News.

For NPR, the comment at the bottom of the graphic questioned why Jewish people with dual American and Israeli citizenship were allowed to work at the taxpayer-funded public radio station.

The graphic for Fox News includes a special red star for Rupert Murdoch, identifying him as a “Christian Zionist,” which the graphic explains as suspecting that he has Jewish ancestry, “although it’s never publicly admitted” and for being a “devoted Zionist” who has received honors from Jewish organizations.

Today’s tweets are far from the first bigoted comments from Nehlen. Just last month, he tweeted and vigorously defended a white supremacist meme, so vile that even Steve Bannon and Breitbart News were pressured into distancing themselves from him. Breitbart has since deleted the author page that featured articles written by Nehlen, but thanks to the Wayback Machine, you can see what it looked like less than a month ago, along with Nehlen’s articles that they’ve attempted to bury.

As RedState has previously reported, Nehlen has been making nasty, racist, bigoted comments for awhile, openly promoting white supremacist and alt-right twitter accounts and memes for months, even while Breitbart and others were proudly touting him as a challenger to Ryan.

Discussing a specific person in the media who happens to be Jewish isn’t necessarily anti-Semitic. Religious background is an interesting part of a person’s biography just like their hometown or where they received their college education.

But pointing out everyone in leadership at a media organization who is either Jewish or married to someone who is — not to mention the “Christian Zionist” attack against Murdoch — and saying there is something negative and nefarious about it, well, there’s no way to interpret that as anything but anti-Semitic. 

Nehlen also failed to address the substance of the Buzzfeed article. The issue wasn’t just how he was complaining about “Jewish media,” but his specific comments about how there was “a list of goys attacking me, and a separate list of Jews,” people who were “working for the Jewish media” and “fake conservatives who happened to be Jewish.”

“I’m gonna decimate them all,” wrote Nehlen to his supporters, “and y’all are going to help me.”

Memo to Nehlen: Yes, you’re an anti-Semite. And a loser. You’re not going to decimate anyone, even with the help of all your alt-right trolls. In 2016, Speaker Ryan beat you by more than 68 points. This year, you’ll be lucky to get out of the single digits.

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Don’t Forget the Real Reason Shutdowns Happen: Congress is Stupid

What a circus. The federal government shut down for three days, then opened back up, all to accomplish absolutely nothing.

As the dust settles, it’s important to keep in mind the real reason the shutdown happened. It’s not because Republicans wanted to hold children’s health insurance hostage or the Democrats stink at bargaining or the President has the attention span of a toddler on a sugar high.

It’s because Congress is stupid. Even worse, they think we’re stupid too.

Image result for stupid gif

The bill that failed on Friday and finally passed today wasn’t really a budget, but something called a “continuing resolution.” To understand what that is, and how screwed up Congress really is, let’s take a moment and talk about the federal budget process.

The federal government spends our money in two categories: mandatory spending and discretionary spending.

Mandatory spending is the spending that is enacted by law and can continue without a specific appropriations bill. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other entitlement programs fall under this category.

Discretionary spending is the spending that requires a specific act of Congress to appropriate the funds. With some rare exceptions like military procurements and housing programs, the vast majority of discretionary spending items require an annual appropriations bill.

In Fiscal Year 2017, 63% or about $2.6 trillion of federal spending was mandatory spending, 30% or $1.2 trillion was discretionary spending, and the remaining roughly 7% represented net interest on the federal debt.

Currently, there are twelve appropriation bills that Congress is required to pass every year, and there is an appropriations subcommittee for each of these categories in both the House and the Senate (Defense, Homeland Security, Interior and the Environment, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, etc.). Congress can combine the twelve appropriation bills into one or more omnibus bills, but they do have to approve appropriations for all twelve categories by the end of the fiscal year, September 30 of each year.

If Congress fails to meet that fiscal year deadline, the government will go into shutdown unless they pass a continuing resolution authorizing expenditures of the funds.

This is the process established by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, which has been amended several times but the fundamental procedures remain the same.

Since that bill was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1974, Congress has managed to pass all the required annual appropriation bills by the deadline only four times: 1977, 1989, 1995, and 1997.

That’s right — Congress has not been able to pass a budget on time for over twenty years.

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This is stupid.

Kids born in 1997 will be able to legally drink alcohol this year, and it will be tough to blame them for desperately wanting a stiff drink when they realize how much debt our incompetent Congress is leaving for them to pay.

What happens all the other years Congress can’t do its job by its deadline is a repeated series of continuing resolutions. The vote on Friday was the fourth for this fiscal year; the third was last December.

Remember, Congress itself established the rules and deadlines for its own budget process. 

If they can’t follow their own rules, perhaps they need to try harder, or amend the rules so they make more sense.

Instead, what the American taxpayer got this month was an absolute circus, as Congress struggled to agree on approving funding for less than a third of our government’s spending (as stated above, the mandatory entitlement spending and interest on the debt comprise about 70% of total federal government spending).

This is stupid.

Congress knows it’s stupid. 

They think we’re too stupid to notice if it’s not fixed.

Every now and then, you’ll see a Congresscritter talk about this — usually on the campaign trail. But the longer they settle into their cozy Washington habitat, it gets mentioned less and less and less.

Image result for stupid gif

This week, we saw members of both parties jumping in front of TV cameras and posting their outrage in tweets and press releases,  denouncing the other side’s irrational malfeasance for driving the government into a shutdown, or for making ridiculous demands.

The truth is that they’re all to blame, they have all failed to follow their own rules and meet their own deadlines, and — perhaps most egregiously — they have all failed to take any real and practical steps to address our growing national debt.

$20.6 trillion and counting! Wheeee!

This is so ****ing stupid.

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BREAKING: McConnell Offering Amendment to Fund Government Through Feb. 8

The government shutdown deadline passed just over an hour ago, but the Senate remains at work. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is introducing an amendment to the existing continuing resolution bill to fund the government through February 8th.

This plan was confirmed to RedState by a Senate Republican source who spoke with us on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, a deal was offered to the Democrats for a short term continuing resolution that would fund the government through February 16th, but they rejected it, the deadline passed, and the government shutdown officially began.

“The government may be heading into shutdown but the Senate’s not shutting down,” said McConnell on the Senate floor just after the deadline. “And we’re open to talk and resolve this.”

“I don’t think it makes the institution look very responsible,” he added. “The American people should expect better from us than this.”

UPDATE: CNN has confirmed our reporting, that McConnell is pushing for a continuing resolution through February 8th.

UPDATE #2: Our source also pointed out that last night McConnell had asked for consent to vote on the continuing resolution through February 16th via a majority vote, but Sen. Chuck Schumer objected and forced a vote at the 60-vote threshold, and that measure failed.

Tonight’s 50-49 vote total showed that there were in fact fifty votes in favor of the continuing resolution. So, no matter how Schumer tries to spin this, it was the Senate Democrats who blocked the continuing resolution and caused the government shutdown.

UPDATE #3: The Senate has headed home and will reopen at noon. Depending on timing and if McConnell can get consent, they could vote on McConnell’s February 8th amendment later today, or might have to hold off until Sunday or Monday.

McConnell’s full remarks:

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White House: Democrats Who Forced the Shutdown Are ‘Obstructionist Losers’

The White House has released its first official comment after the government officially shutdown when the Senate was unable to pass the continuing resolution before the midnight deadline.

The statement, posted on Twitter by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, blames Senate Democrats for the “Schumer Shutdown,” saying that they “put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans.”

“We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators.”

If “obstructionist losers” is what the White House is saying in their official press release, Trump’s tweets tomorrow morning are most likely going to be lit.

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It’s over.

The Senate has been voting since 10:00 pm Eastern Time, and the vote is still open while I’m posting, but there is not enough time to get sufficient votes from the Senate, and definitely not enough time to go back and get the measure passed through the House again too before the clock strikes midnight.

How long the shutdown will last — hours, days, weeks? — remains to be seen, but it’s definitely happening.

UPDATE: The deadline has come and gone, and the shutdown is underway. Senators are still negotiating on the Senate floor, but we are officially in a shutdown now.

UPDATE #2: The official vote count was 50-49. Sen. John McCain of Arizona is recuperating from cancer treatments and was not present for the vote.

The vote was along party lines, except for several Democrat defectors from red states, Senators Doug Jones (Alabama), Claire McCaskill (Missouri), Heidi Heitkamp (N. Dakota), Joe Donnelly (Indiana), and Joe Manchin (W. Virginia), and Republicans Senators Lindsey Graham (S. Carolina), Jeff Flake (Arizona), Mike Lee (Utah), and Rand Paul (Kentucky).

UPDATE #3: McConnell has offered an amendment that would fund the government through February 8th.

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Brave Sir Robin Ran Away: The Theme Song of Red State Democrats

As the government shutdown looms — just minutes left! — several Senate Democrats in red states have decided they aren’t willing to join their colleagues in voting against the continuing resolution, and allowing CHIP funds to expire and the government to shutdown.

Democrat defectors include newly-minted Sen. Doug Jones (Alabama), as well as Sen. Claire McCaskill (Missouri), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (N. Dakota), Sen. Joe Donnelly (Indiana), and Sen. Joe Manchin (W. Virginia).

As we reported earlier, polling shows that voters are not inclined to blame this shutdown solely on Republicans. To be fair, poll respondents spread the blame around, but Senators who have to win the approval of right-leaning voters are likely more concerned than most about the risk their party will shoulder the blame.

So, here’s a theme song for them, courtesy of Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

Brave Democrats ran away.
Bravely ran away, away.
When a shutdown reared its ugly head,
They bravely turned their tail and fled.
Yes, brave Democrats turned about
And gallantly they chickened out.
Swiftly taking to their feet,
They beat a very brave retreat.
Bravest of the brave, Senate Ds!

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Government Shutdown: Chuck Schumer Was Right (Yes Really!)

Fair is fair. Just like I praised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier for some smart messaging strategy regarding the looming government shutdown, I have to admit something that may sound a bit shocking.

Chuck Schumer was right.

Yes, the New York Democrat’s comments about government shutdowns were correct…in 2013.

Senate Republicans pulled some video clips from 2013 of Schumer, with some great cameos from Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi.

“It would be governmental chaos,” said Schumer. “It’s a politics of idiocy.”

Democrats are threatening to vote against a bill they otherwise support, allowing the government to shutdown and CHIP funding to expire in multiple states. All because they don’t yet have a deal on DACA, which doesn’t expire until March at the earliest (and maybe even later depending what the courts do).

That sure sounds like the politics of idiocy to me. Schumer was right!

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Note: This post has been edited because autocorrect changed Senator Schumer’s name to Schemer, which is pretty hilarious. We’ve corrected the spelling but enjoyed the sentiment.

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POLL: Who’s to Blame if the Government Shutdown Happens?

As always happens in Washington, a lot of the political strategy guiding the actions of the Republicans and Democrats regarding the possibility of a government shutdown tonight is driven by who they think will get the blame.

Would voters blame President Donald Trump, for sending conflicting messages about what kind of DACA bill he would support? Republicans, because they control both houses of Congress? Or Democrats, because they’re using the filibuster threat against a bill that they otherwise support?

A new CNN poll, released during Anderson Cooper 360° tonight, shows that the answer is…everyone.

The poll, which CNN conducted from January 14 to January 18 has a margin of error of +/- 3.7%. When asked who is most responsible for the government shutdown, the responses were:

President Trump: 21%
Republicans in Congress: 26%
Democrats in Congress: 31%
All of them: 10%

This follows another CNN poll this week, which we reported on earlier, showing a strong preference for avoiding a government shutdown (56%) over continuing DACA (34%).

Less than four hours until the deadline…

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Good Night! Senate Adjourns Without Voting on Spending Bill — Shutdown Looms Tomorrow

Senate Republicans have barely twenty-four hours to find a way to convince their Democratic colleagues to vote for the spending bill and prevent the first government shutdown in four years, but they couldn’t even agree on holding a vote, and adjourned until tomorrow morning.

From Politico:

Congress is careening toward the first shutdown in more than four years, with Republicans and Democrats at a seemingly intractable impasse over government funding and the fates of young immigrants facing deportation.

Though House Republicans voted Thursday night to keep the government open, the real drama is in the closely divided Senate, where it’s unclear what, if anything, can clear the chamber’s supermajority threshold. The Senate couldn’t even agree on holding a vote on Thursday night, adjourning after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spurned Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s request to hold a vote and, assuming it failed, restart bipartisan negotiations on immigration and government spending levels.

Senators said they expected a vote on Friday, but had little idea what would come next.

As RedState reported earlier today, the House already passed the bill, but Senate Democrats are in the driver’s seat for these negotiations because Republicans lack the 60 votes needed to thwart a filibuster.

The critical thing to remember, as Caleb Howe pointed out, any government shutdown is the fault of the Democrats, even though they got what they wanted with the six years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) program — they are wielding the filibuster threat to attempt to get an agreement on DACA, an entirely separate matter.

It does not matter that government shutdowns are extremely disruptive and inconvenient. It does not matter that Democrats got the CHIP funding they wanted. It does not matter that President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans are generally on board with a legislative fix to allow DACA recipients to stay here. 

Democrats are willing to shut down the government and allow states to run out of money for children’s health insurance because they want a DACA fix now instead of a few weeks down the road. 

Senate Republicans have been unable to offer anything capable of swaying Senate Democrats, who have dug in their heels and are whipping votes on the DACA issue.

The Senate will reconvene tomorrow morning and try again.

A bill must be passed by 11:59 pm Eastern Time Friday or the government will shutdown. Just remember who’s to blame.

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