One Week Into 2018 & Trump Sets Off Alarms
D. S. Mitchell
The last week of Trumpism has my hair on fire. First, who can escape the release of Michael Wolff’s gossip laden new book about Trump, “Fire and Fury?” Wow. It is setting sales records. I ordered mine on Amazon, got free shipping. Yes!
I can’t wait to read every salacious word. Supposedly, Amazon will have it here by next Friday.
The White House was obviously blindsided when early excerpts from “Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump White House” was published online by New York magazine and other media outlets ahead of the scheduled January 9th publication date.
Many of the most eyebrow raising excerpts centered around comments by inner circle confidant of the president, Steve Bannon. Reports describe Trump as “furious” and “disgusted” with Bannon’s newly revealed comments. Bannon reportedly called the meeting at Trump Tower in May of 2016 with Russian operatives “treasonous.” Further, Bannon said he doubted if Trump would be able to complete his term.
Late Wednesday Trump’s private attorney Charles Harder sent Bannon a cease and desist letter threatening a lawsuit if Steve didn’t keep his mouth shut. The letter insisted that Bannon was bound by a non-disclosure agreement and demanded he make no further disclosure of confidential information.
The hysteria didn’t end with the Wolff book, Trump had a very public split with Bannon, giving him the nickname “Sloppy Steve.” Rebecca Mercer, daughter of secretive computer genius Robert Mercer announced she and her father have also split with Bannon. This may lead to Bannon being pushed out of his position at Breitbart News, which Mercer has a financial stake in.
Trump threatens he will sue Wolff and the publisher. A threat he has made often over the years while never following through. Charles Harder further notified Wolff and his publisher Henry Holt & Co. to halt publication. Instead of stopping the publication, the threats increased interest in the book and have increased demand. The public demand has actually led to a speed up of the book’s publication by a week. Trump sure knows how to tamper down excitement. Trump and surrogates could not have done more to spur interest in the book if they had been part of the “Fire and Fury” marketing team.
The main source of distress is the confirmation of what most of us instinctively know; that Trump is a chaotic, stupid, childish, narcissistic, sociopath who probably can’t read. The more Trump tried to push back against the book, telling reporters that he is a “stable genius,” the more infantile he sounded.
The second hair on fire event for me, centered around the Trump administrations continuous attack on the environment. In April Trump issued an executive order encouraging more drilling rights in federal waters, part of the administration’s strategy to help the U.S. “achieve energy dominance in the global market.”
On Thursday the plan was announced, a proposal to vastly expand offshore drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic oceans with a plan that would open federal waters off California for the first time since the 1970’s Santa Barbara oil spill. The Trump proposal offers a five-year drilling plan which could also open new areas of oil and gas exploration off the East Coast, from Florida to Maine. This region has been blocked from drilling for multiple decades.
The five-year plan was announced by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Zinke stated that development of the offshore energy resources would help the economy by adding jobs and provide billions of dollars to fund conservation along U.S. coastlines.
The five-year Zinke plan would open 90% of the nation’s offshore reserves to development by private companies. Zinke has proposed 47 leases be offered from 2019-2024. Nineteen would be off Alaska. Twelve in the Gulf of Mexico. Nine in the Atlantic, and seven in the Pacific including 6 off of California.
Zinke ended his telephone announcement, saying that it was still in the “drafting stage, nothing is final yet, and our department is continuing to engage the American people to get to our final product.”
While oil and gas industry spokesmen praised the announcement, which is the most expansive off shore drilling proposal in decades, the plan drew immediate opposition from governors up and down the East Coast, including Republican Governor’s Rick Scott of Florida and Larry Hogan of Maryland. Scott and Hogan went so far as to demand that their states be removed from consideration.
Democratic governors on both coasts blasted the plan. NY’s governor Cuomo called it “another federal assault on our environment.” California’s Jerry Brown vowed to block “this reckless, short-sighted action.” Washington and Oregon governor’s both condemned the announced plan.
Third, and last hair on fire event for me was AG Jeff Sessions rescinding an Obama-era policy that had generally barred federal law enforcement officials from interfering with marijuana sales in states where the drug is legal.
Sessions has assailed marijuana as “comparable to heroin” and has blamed it for spikes in violence, and had been expected to re-ignite federal enforcement of marijuana laws. Marijuana advocates argue that legalizing the drug eliminates the need for a black market and will likely reduce violence, since criminals would no longer control the marijuana trade.
Sessions has long believed that the Obama era treatment of marijuana has created “a safe harbor” for the expansion of marijuana sales that are federally illegal, the DOJ said. Sessions’ policy will let the U.S. attorneys across the country decide what kinds of federal resources to devote to cannabis enforcement based on what they see as priorities in their districts.
Sessions’ plan drew immediate and strong objection from Republican U.S. Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, one of eight states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Gardner claimed Thursday’s action by the DOJ was directly opposite of what Session’s had told him prior to the Attorney General’s confirmation. Gardner went on to say, he would “take all steps necessary to fight the step, including holding up the confirmation of DOJ nominees.”
Kate Brown the governor of my home state of Oregon said rolling back federal marijuana policy will disrupt the state’s economy. Oregon was a pioneer in cannabis legislation. Oregon was the first state to decriminalize personal possession in 1973, legalized medical marijuana in 1998 and finally recreational use in 2014.
Oregon collected more than $108 million in taxes from cannabis sales between January 2016 and August 2016. Brown said more than 19,000 jobs have been created by the marijuana market in Oregon. State employment estimates that another 3,500 people are employed in marijuana-related businesses, with wages of nearly $23 million. The Oregon Health Authority estimated that in 2016 they oversaw $79.4 million in medical sales and the OLCC (Oregon Liquor/Cannabis Control Commission) oversaw $215. 3 million in recreational sales.
Ron Wyden, Oregon’s senior Senator said the move “ignores the will of a majority of Americans and goes against what candidate Trump had promised. Trump promised to let states set their own marijuana policies.” Wyden statement continued, “Now he’s breaking that promise so Jeff Sessions can pursue his extremist anti-marijuana crusade. Once again the Trump Administration is doubling down on protecting states’ rights only when they believe the state is right.”
Washington State Governor, Jay Inslee said he and the Washington State Attorney General will “vigorously defend the state’s laws against federal infringement.”
Session’s announcement came after California opened sales of recreational marijuana, launching what is expected to become the world’s largest market for legal recreational cannabis. California sales alone are projected to bring in $1 billion annually in tax revenue within the next several years. Polls show a solid majority of Americans believe the drug should be legalized and should be treated much like alcohol.
Over the last decade as marijuana markets have expanded it has become a sophisticated multi-million dollar industry that helps fund many government programs. Twenty nine states have legalized medical use of marijuana and another eight states plus the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use.
Oregon AG, Ellen Rosenblum characterizes the Session’s decision as “overreach.” “This is an industry that Oregonians have chosen–and one I will do everything in my legal authority to protect,” Rosenblum emphasized.
Two massive policy changes and an expose book on a corrupt and demented president. I don’t know if the Republic and tolerate the assault.
Calamity Politics is an online political news magazine. Join me for my mostly irritable take on the week’s news.
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