Pot Lessons from Colorado

Often the first thing I’m asked when traveling outside of Colorado is a half-question half-joke about how many people in the state I now call home are stoned. Although I’m pro-legalization, I’ve never touched marijuana and it seems as if I’m not alone: even though the state passed — by a 10-percent margin — a constitutional amendment in 2012 legalizing “recreational” (but still highly regulated) marijuana sale and use, sales tax receipts have underperformed expectations.

I have more context than the average American on this issue: I used to live in Amsterdam. In that wonderful city — where, I repeat, I never touched the stuff — you drink coffee at cafés but at “coffee shops” you ingest marijuana, whether by smoking or eating cookies or brownies or by who knows whatever clever delivery system the 21st century has on offer. What I noticed the few times I was in a coffee shop with friends or even just walking by The Bulldog was that the majority of the patrons were not Dutch.

I suspect the same is happening here, with marijuana tourism fueling a substantial fraction of the recreational pot sales in the state. One company in Colorado’s fledgling pot tourism industry offers four-hour tours during which participants visit dispensaries and “grow” operations, “enjoy free sampling on the cannabis friendly luxury party bus” and “end our day with a smoke out…with delicious munchies, ganja and drinks.”

It sounds like a bad ’70s movie but this is serious business which other states are watching closely, wondering whether the potential public revenue and private employment benefits are worth the cost and effort of regulation, of reforming state banking laws and pushing for parallel federal reforms, of how to deal with “edibles” (one of the biggest post-legalization issues in Colorado) and the impact of legalization on children — including everything from accidental ingestion to the prescription of high-CBD strains such as “Charlotte’s Web” to treat seizure disorders. (CBDs are pharmacologically active ingredients in marijuana but do not get you “high,” a feeling created by another chemical called THC. Many high-CBD strains are specifically engineered to be low in THC.)

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:

My interviews of former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell

It's not just because I put many many hours of work into this that I want you to read and share. It's also very interesting and you'll learn (or at least begin to think about) some very important issues:

Hillary's Holdout is Halted

On Monday, the State Department said it might take until January 2016 for the agency to release to the public Hillary Clinton’s official secretary of state emails. Yesterday, a federal judge slapped down that plan and gave State a week to provide a plan for the ongoing “rolling” release of those emails — which Hillary’s staff gave to the government on paper, not in electronic form, in a dozen large boxes, creating a long, boring job for a handful of workers at Foggy Bottom.

Later on Tuesday, amidst the latest news of the simmering email scandal, Fox News reporter Ed Henry shouted his frustration at Mrs. Clinton not having taken a question from a reporter for nearly a month. Mr. Henry later explained that “We had been through one of these campaign events after another, getting monotonous, one city after another. Roundtables. All candidates, Democrats and Republicans, are able to do their talking points, but we’ve gone 27, 28 days without a question. That’s why I just jumped in.”

It worked; Hillary deigned to answer a few questions from justifiably eager reporters.

She took questions about the Clinton Foundation, the Iraq War, her own personal wealth, and two separate questions about two separate email-related issues. For each she was ready with a scripted response.

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:

Senate Flushes Fast-Track

As if either President Obama or Hillary Clinton needed a reminder that the most powerful person in the Democratic Party is now Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth “I’m a Cherokee” Warren, on Tuesday Senate Democrats followed the lead of the scourge of capitalism by filibustering “fast-track” trade promotion authority (“TPA”) legislation designed to allow the Obama administration to negotiate and more easily enact international trade agreements, particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) which would liberalize trade between the United States and eleven Asia-Pacific region nations.

Both the policy and the politics are complex.

Left-wing groups including labor unions and environmentalists oppose most free trade treaties, particularly with developing nations, the former arguing that it leads to moving American jobs overseas and the latter demanding more protections for air and water along with provisions aimed at combatting so-called climate change.  (They seem not to recognize that the best way to minimize a nation’s likelihood to pollute – not that carbon dioxide is pollution – is by that nation becoming wealthier, something that free trade helps them do.)

A few conservative groups oppose TPA as unconstitutional, perhaps also looking for an excuse to deny President Obama a victory of any sort – a laudable sentiment if the cost were not so high.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) – historically a supporter of free trade – offered a list of critiques of fast-track including its circumventing the Senate’s constitutional authority over treaty ratification.

Sessions has other concerns, including perhaps the most important criticism of the TPP (which TPA would be used to enact): the administration, in true “pass it to find out what’s in it” style, has not made the agreement public.

In what sounds like a Douglas Adams-based parody of government (make sure you watch!), The Hill reports that in March, the US Trade Representative’s Office “put a copy of the TPP agreement in a security office in the Capitol where lawmakers can view the developing pact along with a member of their staff as long as they meet a certain security requirement.” Senator Rand Paul has said that the requirement includes not being able to take notes about the agreement, though a USTR spokesman disagrees with that assertion. Perhaps Senator Paul will take a walk, read the treaty, and report back on its benefits and pitfalls.

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:

The Brains of the Operation

Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America's Founding Document
by Senator Mike Lee
(Sentinel, 256 pages, $27.95 list; $17.94 at Amazon.com)

In recent years there has been a welcome infusion of young Constitution-minded Republican members into the U.S. Senate. A few of these first-term senators have already announced that they’re running for president. So Ted Cruz (TX), Rand Paul (KY), and Marco Rubio (FL) tend to get the airtime and the ink — not a bad thing since they represent an interesting cross section of the GOP.

But the brains of the operation — the guy behind the guy — is another freshman senator, a man who seeks less publicity than most politicians but who provides the philosophical foundation, the intellectual ammunition, and — and this is more important than you might think — the moral support for constitutional conservatism among politicians and ordinary citizens alike.

That man is Utah’s junior senator, Mike Lee, who is the author of a new and important book, Our Lost Constitution, which should — along with the Constitution itself — be required reading. Not just for anybody seeking elected office in the United States but for any American who cares about good government, freedom, and leaving a worthwhile country for our children.

The book’s subtitle more explicitly diagnoses the disease for which Sen. Lee offers a treatment (if not a guaranteed cure): “The Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document.”

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:

Downright Dull Democrats

When ordinary voters think about Hillary Clinton — which I hope they do very little since life is short — some may think “secretary of state,” some may think “scandals” or “Benghazi,” and some may think of the double-edged sword that is her famous husband.

But for me, and I suspect for an increasing number of Americans, the gut reaction to Hillary is boredom.

Just as you can imagine a teenager writing down random combinations of “Chevy,” “road,” “union,” “girl,” “town,” and “engine,” interspersed with assorted first person pronouns and single-syllable verbs to create a convincing Bruce Springsteen song, it wouldn’t be hard to teach your eighth grader to write a plausible Clinton response to any question she’ll be asked or to draft believable Clinton talking points on any issue of policy or politics.

Her words would include “everyday,” “ordinary,” “living wage,” “equality,” “Republicans,” “tax breaks,” and “regardless of who you love.”


Since the official start of her presidential campaign, has Mrs. Clinton said a single thing about a pressing national issue or even about the simmering (real) scandal over the Clinton Foundation’s finances that surprised you or that you would find more interesting (or more comprehensible) than a rerun of Deal or No Deal? Even her “the dog ate my server” excuse for bad judgment bordering on criminality was boringly Clintonesque.

Indeed, of all of the likely Democratic presidential candidates, Mrs. Clinton is the most sententious, predictable, and soporific — which is saying something in a field that includes Martin O’Malley. At least Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee have a few instincts outside of boilerplate liberal dogma. And at least Bernie Sanders is briefly amusing in his economic idiocy and with hair as crazy and unruly as his thought process. (Interestingly, the exact same sentence could be used to describe possible candidate and current vice president Joe Biden.)

Which is not to say that those gentlemen are actually interesting; they’re just slightly less sleep-inducing than the presumptive nominee.

The current and likely Republican field may be many things. But “dull” applies to few of them individually and not at all to the group as a whole.

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:

A Brief History of Hillary’s Hypocrisy

Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign mantra of “hope and change” was meaningless, thus leaving him free to act without fear of being accused of violating his principles, because he stated so few.

In comparison, at this early stage in her campaign, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is a ball of contradictions and hypocrisy that Republican candidates will pick at for the next 18 months until one of them defeats her in the 2016 presidential election.

On a Monday evening in March in a “room full of political reporters,” Mrs. Clinton said: “I am all about new beginnings.… So here goes, no more secrecy, no more zone of privacy.” Just four days later, Clinton’s attorney informed Congress that she had deleted all emails on a private server that she used for both personal and official State Department communications while serving as secretary of state, having delivered to the State Department only those that she deemed sufficiently work-related to turn over.

In 2007, then-Senator Clinton excoriated the Bush administration for “secret White House e-mail accounts,” saying that they represented “a stunning record of secrecy and corruption, of cronyism run amok.” Mrs. Clinton’s own secrecy and obvious conflicts of interest show that she has added hypocrisy to her (and her husband’s) history of above-the-law self-dealing.

Two weeks ago, Hillary announced that “we need to get unaccountable money out of the political system.” Yet just a few days earlier, her team made the shocking pronouncement that Hillary’s campaign intends to raise $2.5 billion, more than Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent combined in 2014.

Just how “accountable” is $2.5 billion of spending, and just what would those donors think they’re buying?

Please read the rest of my my article for the American Spectator here:

Now That Took Some Balls

My friend and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Jerry Doyle tells the story of running for Congress in Hollywood as a Republican. The short version: it more or less cost him his career in TV, movies, and voice-over work in a city that is so rabidly intolerant of non-leftists that agents will sacrifice their ethics, their friendships — or at least what might have seemed like friendship — and even their own financial well-being rather than work with a conservative. (And Jerry isn’t even that conservative; he’s much more of a libertarian.)

In Hollywood these days, along with other bastions of liberal elitism, being L, G, B, or T is not just acceptable. It’s downright cool. Transgender actress Laverne Cox, best known for her role in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black (often called a “star” of the show even though her part is no more important than that of a dozen other members of the cast), was invited to Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner as a guest of the gay-oriented Washington Blade newspaper.

The evening before, as if to emphasize the coolness of the tiny fraction of the American population that is transgender, Cox’s new MTV show — she’s the executive producer — Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word (“about seven brave transgender youth”) won the Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class Special. If that doesn’t sound like an award created just to show how diverse and tolerant the television industry is...

Ms. Cox is on Time’s list of the 100 most influential people. She’s gone nude for Allure magazine, and has spent time with President Obama.

In other words, the LGBT movement — much like the feminist movement before it — has already won. In Hollywood, it hasn’t just won, but it no longer even has a loyal opposition.

So when it comes to revealing oneself as gay or, as Bruce Jenner did in a marathon interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer on Friday night, as identifying with the opposite gender from that which people have long known you, it takes a modicum of courage but there’s very little real risk of harm to reputation or employability, at least in television and film.

Yes, Bruce Jenner said to millions of people on national television, “for all intents and purposes, I'm a woman.” But the real display of bravery came when Sawyer played a clip of President Obama using the word “transgender” in a State of the Union speech, trying to get Jenner to praise the president, to which Jenner responded, “Not to get political, I’ve just never been a big fan; I’m kind of more on the conservative side.”

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:

Does Hillary Inspire Anyone?

Who other than college students enamored of voting for the “first woman president” — because voting for the “first black president” has worked out so well — will be inspired by the candidacy of Hillary Clinton?

I don’t mean in contrast to any of the increasing number of interesting Republican candidates whom liberals object to with unbecoming condescension.

I mean in her own right.

Putting aside what many of us understood to be the true nature of Barack Obama and despite his vapid rhetoric about “hope and change,” the man was to many Americans an inspiration.

Ronald Reagan, because he understood and spoke honestly of the true nature of man and of Soviet communism, remains an inspiration and will do so long after history doles out to Barack Obama the verdict of failure he so richly deserves.

Other candidates have had individual traits that offered some inspiration, or at least a commendable example of how to live a life, even if the men in their entireties were not great candidates (if they lost) or not great presidents (if they won). These — and there can be honest disagreement about the praiseworthy aspects of each of them — could include essentially every Republican and Democratic presidential nominee since, but not including, Jimmy Carter.

(I realize this is very generous to both Al Gore and John Kerry, neither of whom I can think of a serious reason to compliment, but let’s play nice. After all, John Kerry managed to marry two women each with nine-figure fortunes while appealing to the anti-war Left and Algore invented the Internet, or at least had the cojones to suggest as much, while appealing to anti-humanity environmentalists who want us to use only one square of toilet paper per evacuation. It’s also worth noting that these two men — the most difficult since Carter to laud based on their characters or ability to inspire normal people — both lost, for which I thank them.)

But whom does Hillary inspire? And if you have an answer please explain how she does so.

Please read the rest of my article for The American Spectator here:

Hillary's Fatal Conceit

Even if you were naïve enough to believe that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was actually listening to anything through her mercifully brief “listening tour” to Iowa — during which she met with a handful of hand-selected and bused-in Democratic activists — the whole adventure demonstrates what Nobel prize-winning economist F. A. Hayek called “the Fatal Conceit.”

While in the Hawkeye State, Mrs. Clinton’s fabrications — no doubt so frequent due to an overdose of Liagra — included the lie that “all my grandparents, you know, came over here (as immigrants).” Even the liberals at PolitiFact point out that only one of her four grandparents was not born in the United States.

Still, let’s engage in a willing suspension of disbelief and take Mrs. Clinton at her word when she explained, “before I roll out my policies, I want to hear from you on the front lines.” She added that she wants to “build on what works” in Obamacare and, as the liberal British Guardian newspaper put it, she “leans left out of Iowa with a bold progressive checklist.”

I understand: You’re trying not to laugh when I suggest going along with Hillary’s claim that she really wants to hear from the people before putting out a platform, rather than that she’s basically doing her own polling to find out what she can get away with politically and avoiding giving the media and her Republican competitors fodder for hard questions. But again, let’s say she means it. Is that actually a sign of something good?

Hillary, in addition to being a prototypical Wellesley radical coed smitten with Saul Alinsky, has an unfading Progressive streak running through her every condescending and elitist thought. Namely, she believes that she and other smart people and “experts” are so much wiser than you or I — it’s a wonder we can even make it through our pathetic work days — that we ought to gratefully accept a technocratic bureaucracy of ivory tower-cloistered PhDs whose beneficence should be given control over every important aspect of our lives.

The problem, as Hayek point out, is that no expert or group of experts could ever hope to “generate and garner greater knowledge” than can all of us troglodyte participants and believers in “spontaneously generated moral traditions underlying the competitive market order” as we manage our own businesses, know our own customers, suppliers, employees, local market peculiarities, etc.

Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:

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