Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Marijuana Bills Heading For Des Moines (Again)

After voters in Colorado and Washington state approved laws that legalized possession of regulated recreational marijuana, two Iowa lawmakers hope to introduce more modest marijuana-related bills here in the Hawkeye State. Iowa state Rep. Bruce Hunter (D-Des Moines) and state Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) are preparing to introduce bills which would allow medical marijuana with a prescription.

In 2010 the Iowa Board of Pharmacy voted unanimously that legislators should allow prescription use of marijuana.  A Des Moines Register Iowa poll at that time showed that 64% of Iowans supported allowing patients to use marijuana with a doctor's approval.

Hunter and Bolkom's bills will face an uphill battle in the 2013 session. House Republicans say they do not support the effort and Governor Branstad says he will veto any bill that would legalize marijuana in any form.

Perhaps opponents of allowing marijuana in any form are being influenced by the likes of Peter Komen­dowski, pres­i­dent of Part­ner­ship for a Drug-Free Iowa, and Steven Lukan, the direc­tor of the Governor’s Office of Drug Con­trol Pol­icy. “What we’re doing,” said Komen­dowski, “is send­ing a mixed mes­sage to our kids that some drugs are OK and some aren’t OK. If you know kids, it’s extremely con­fus­ing to them if you’re not on message.”

Lukan spoke referring to supposedly higher levels of THC in marijuana. “A good analogy I was given is that back in the ’60s, smoking a joint was like drinking three beers. You achieved a quick high that didn’t stick around as long,” Lukan said. “Today smoking a joint can be like drinking a keg.”

Long-time Iowa marijuana law reformer Carl Olsen takes both men to task on his blog:

"So, the mes­sage we’re cur­rently send­ing, accord­ing to these two, is that alco­hol is okay and mar­i­juana is not. Pre­scrip­tion drugs are okay and mar­i­juana is not. That mes­sage is exactly the oppo­site of what it should be. These intel­lec­tu­ally bank­rupt rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the legal drug indus­try haven’t made a step toward mak­ing alchohol and tobacco ille­gal in Iowa, or deny­ing access to pre­scrip­tion drugs. Alco­hol and tobacco, along with pre­scrip­tion drugs, are the biggest killers out there. Mar­i­juana has never killed anyone.

"So, the mes­sage, kids, is that you should drink lots of alco­hol and smoke lots of cig­a­rettes so you can get sick and use lots of pre­scrip­tion drugs. Got it? Good, now shut up and do what you’re told."

Let's hope that the forward momentum of the two states that just legalized recreational marijuana, as well as the 18 states that have already approved the use of marijuana with a doctor's prescription, will allow Iowa to take the common sense step of at least allowing medical marijuana to ease the pain and nausea of select patients in our state.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Debt: Taxation Without Representation

As you probably know, the federal debt is now over $16 trillion. Members of both political parties (elected by us) have added to this staggering total for decades. The debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency and Obama has managed to rack up more debt than that in just one term. As you may have heard, we reelected him.

Technically it's Congress that wields more power over the federal government's purse strings than the president. Despite record low approval ratings of these big spenders, we just sent 91% of the incumbents back to Congress. Don't look for a sudden change to frugality there.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the federal debt will be $25 trillion by 2021. Unfortunately, CBO projections historically have been about 40% low 80% of the time.

Of course none of these figures include the unfunded liabilities that we are going to have shell out for Social Security and Medicare. These currently stand at about $121 trillion. Any way you slice it there is a mountain of debt coming down.

Children who didn't get to vote for or against the crooks running up this debt will one day labor to repay it. Perennial Iowa Libertarian candidate Dr. Eric Cooper has called this “taxation without representation in its purest form.” It is hard to argue otherwise.

"No taxation without representation" was the rallying cry that lead the American colonists to rebel against the British Empire. Someday, when we hand a future generation of Americans the bill for tens or hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of taxation without representation, they will be just as morally justified to do to us what the founding generation did to the redcoats.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Iowa First District Election Update

Bruce Braley (D)
Ben Lange (R)

Lange Lunges Ahead

A late October poll shows challenger Ben Lange charging past incumbent "Borrowing Bruce" Braley to take a narrow 46.9% to 45.4% lead in Iowa's 1st congressional district. The poll shows 6.9% are still undecided and has a margin of error of 5.1%, so Lange, who has been burning shoe-leather all across the district, definitely can't coast to the finish line. In this race every vote is important.

Interlopers Support Braley

According to 3rd quarter financial records, 78% of the contributions to Bruce Braley's campaign came from out of state special interests. 92% of Ben Lange's donations came from Iowans. This seems to continue a trend since during the 2010 election cycle 71% of Braley's contributions came from out of state while 86% of Lange's came from in state.

Despite calling for a ban on lobbyist contributions to Congressmen, "lawyers & lobbyists" have given $718,216 to the Braley campaign during this election.

National Rifle Association Endorses Lange

In addition to being A-rated by Gun Owners of America, Ben Lange has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF). In a statement the NRA-PVF explains:

"Ben Lange will protect our Second Amendment freedoms," said Chris W. Cox, chairman of NRA-PVF. "Because of his strong support of our rights, Ben Lange has earned an "AQ" rating and endorsement from the NRA-PVF."

Ben Lange supports the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago, which held that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms for law-abiding citizens in Iowa and everywhere in America. Lange also supports “The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act,” which would ensure that law-abiding Americans with a valid concealed handgun permit would be able to carry a concealed handgun in any other state that does not prohibit concealed carry. Additionally, Lange will pursue the truth in the deadly Operation Fast & Furious scandal and help deliver justice to the family of murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

In contrast, Ben Lange's opponent, incumbent Representative Bruce Braley, has fought against our constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms and is "F" rated by the NRA-PVF.

Bruce Braley refused to join the historic District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court, making it clear that he does not believe the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Braley also supported reinstating the failed Clinton semi-auto gun ban and opposed an amendment that would prevent the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives from circumventing the will of Congress, and the American people, by centralizing records of American’s long gun purchases. In addition, he voted against H.R. 4089, “The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act,” which would promote America’s hunting heritage and positively impact sportsmen throughout the country.

"Ben Lange will defend our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage, and the people of Iowa know that Bruce Braley has not," Cox continued. "We urge all NRA members and gun owners in Iowa’s 1st District to vote Ben Lange for U.S. House of Representatives on November 6."

For more about Lange's view on the Second Amendment (and other issues) read my post "10 Questions with Ben Lange."

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