Morning Ed: United States {2017.01.03.W}

[US1] Memphis found a creative way to get around a Tennessee law instituted to protect Confederate statues.

[US2] Hurm.

[US3] When bros are bros.

[US4] We give cops a lot of crap, but we should also remember the good they do.

[US5] Ziplines over the Grand Canyon!

[US6] Sometimes plans to murder an estranged spouse can be a bit too elaborate.

[US7] Some questions sort of answer themselves, so the answer to the question of why all the bars in New Hampshire sell foods is obviously government regulations.

[US8] I approve of the Dick Clark New Year’s show having a New Orleans franchise. I suppose it’s too much to ask that they have a couple ore for the other two main time zones. Santa Fe and Las Vegas, maybe?

[US9] A look at laws going into effect in this New Year.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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94 thoughts on “Morning Ed: United States {2017.01.03.W}

  1. [US2] Yeah, white families not wanted to send their kids to poor public schools is racist. Everyone knows that richer white folk need to “take one for the team” by cratering their kids education to uplift the rest of the community. As the article says, the real problem is the City Council has “too much power”.

    [US6] What hiring a contract kill via several cutouts isn’t complicated enough?

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    • US2: You know it’s more complicated than this. When segregation was no longer possible, many White parents pulled their kids out of public school and placed them in private school. They then gave the public schools minimal founding.

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        • That’s exactly how it works. Most of the problems the government has to deal with are ones that I had no hand in creating, and this extends clearly to the most basic functions of the state [1], long before we get to talking about things like education and healthcare.

          If there’s an argument to be made here, it’s that sending your kids to shitty schools won’t actually do anything to solve the problem.

          [1] If someone in Hamilton gets their TV stolen, and we end up jailing the robber at public expense, how is that my fault?

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          • If there’s an argument to be made here, it’s that sending your kids to shitty schools won’t actually do anything to solve the problem.

            My policy is to put my children first, I expect other parents to do the same. IMHO parents who deliberately send their kids into bad schools to help the collective have their priorities wrong.

            I expect “the system” to occasionally fail my kids and I’ll need to intervene. It’s a one size fits all world and they don’t always fit. The system also knows my kids less well than I do and/or my kid isn’t their first priority.

            Schools are a wonderful thing but they’re a tool for parents, not a replacement for parents. They teach things I can’t or don’t have time for, they do other good things too, but they’re not an outsourcing of my responsibilities.

            I think the bulk of parents do the same thing I do, they’re just less open about what they’re doing and why. Or maybe they’re less willing to be honest to themselves. Whatever solution we come up with needs to work with these instincts, not against them, or it’s just not going to work.

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            • The Left would like to offer a third option between sending your kids to a shitty public school or sending them to an expensive private school.

              We believe that free citizens in a democracy have the power to create good quality public schools, the same way we can create good quality public water supplies, or good quality public fire departments.

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              • The Left would like to offer a third option between sending your kids to a shitty public school or sending them to an expensive private school.

                My kids go to public schools. I moved across gov lines for these public schools. When the school administration made it clear my kid wasn’t their priority, we went Charter for two years.

                In my state Charters are public schools, but it’s a different district, so the larger public schools lost the money attached to my kids. Then we revisited the issue and this time the local schools agreed to do it my way and we went back.

                Charters are a wonderful way to force public schools to be responsive and responsible. The Charter was… different, not better, but also not worse. No busing, no gym, no athletics, two teachers per classroom.

                I have the resources to vote with my feet. I’d suggest empowering poorer parents to do the same would work well. The brutal truth is even a good system doesn’t always work well. My kids are high functioning, the local schools are good-to-great, and they’ve still managed to drop the ball occasionally.

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              • We believe that free citizens in a democracy have the power to create good quality public schools, the same way we can create good quality public water supplies, or good quality public fire departments.

                This is a fantasy. Good schools aren’t created by democratic will. They are created by a convergence of factors related to the communities that they are in, the students that go to those schools, and the families from which those students come.

                Find a community of relatively wealthy, highly educated, intact, psychologically healthy families and chances are that place will have high performing schools. Find a community of poor, less educated, splintered and dysfunctional families and chances are that place will have schools that don’t perform very well. There is certainly a narrow range over which schools and teachers can have marginal positive and negative effects on kids. However, the idea that what goes on in the six hours that a kid is in school is going to reliably counteract what happens to that kid during all the other hours of the day is a stretch. Yes, it exists as anecdote. but more often it’s just fodder for movies and television.

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                • I’m not sure where I saw this, but I read somewhere that the biggest predictor of school success is how many books are in a child’s home when they are young. And not necessarily because that child is pulling those books off the shelf and learning from them, but because books in a home are a proxy for all the things that families tend to do that promote education and academic success. So (if this is true), the takeaway isn’t to just drop off boxes of books on everyone’s doorstep, but to help families create the sorts of environments that have books in them naturally.

                  I won’t pretend to have an easy solution for doing that.

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                  • And not necessarily because that child is pulling those books off the shelf and learning from them, but because books in a home are a proxy for all the things that families tend to do that promote education and academic success.

                    The most significant of which being sharing the genes that made the parents the type of people who like to buy books.

                    To be fair, I’m actually pretty surprised that they found as much influence from shared environment as they did. For most traits, the contribution of shared environment is much smaller.

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                • Find a community of relatively wealthy, highly educated, intact, psychologically healthy families

                  Find them?

                  Like, these families are naturally occurring artifacts that we can discover with a test for maybe midichlorians or something?

                  Isn’t society a creation of both individuals, families, and institutions like churches and schools?

                  And isn’t it a foundation of conservative thought that the norms of behavior such as thrift, sobriety, and respect for authority are both enforced and reinforced by these institutions?

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      • And now we join the Culture War Episode Umpteenth, with its recurring cast of characters:

        Poor Black Guy played by a lazy shiftless no-account who smokes reefer;

        Poor White Guy , played by a salt of the earth, Carhartt wearin’ pickup truck drivin’ country music lovin Real American who enjoys gettin drunk on whiskey.

        Rich White Guy, played by a coastal elitist rootless (((cosmopolitan))) snob who eats avocado toast and is probably a homosexual.

        In this episode, Poor White Guy nobly desires the best for his children and so refuses to associate with Poor Black Guy by placing his children in a Christian school.

        Meanwhile, Rich White Guy smugly wants the best for his children, and refuses to associate with Poor White Guy by placing his children in a prep school.

        Hijinks ensue when Poor White Guy strikes back at the ugly vicious snobbery by voting for Trump and placing a Confederate flag decal and Pepe the Frog bumper sticker on his pickup truck and urges the police to get tough with drug users.

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        • In this episode, Poor White Guy nobly desires the best for his children and so refuses to associate with Poor Black Guy by placing his children in a Christian school.

          Meanwhile, Rich White Guy smugly wants the best for his children, and refuses to associate with Poor White Guy by placing his children in a prep school.

          And where in this morality play fits the Working Class Black Gal who puts her kid in a Christian school to get a better learning environment for her child?

          You don’t have to answer. Pretty sure that I already know.

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          • I place no judgement on parents opting out of the public system. I don’t necessarily like it, but I respect it as their right and recognize the myriad factors that inform such a decision.

            What I would criticize is what Lee mentions, when those same parents than support policies that further undermine the public system and then decry its failings.

            “You want me to send my kids to that school whose budget I voted to slash?” is a rather unsavory position to take.

            As someone who has worked in independent schools my entire career and whose mom was/is an independent school teacher/administrator, I’ve been privy to this world for a while. Many working and middle class folks rely on scholarship and financial aid funda to attend independent schools. Such is reality… no shame there. But they are sometimes subjected to certain indignities as a result of being in such a position and/or must grapple with the fact that they have access to such an opportunity somewhat via the mercy of others… which they may be reminded of in any number of ways, some far more offensive than others. People respond in all sorts of ways to this. For any such folk who shake their fists at this aspect of the system while also turning around and doing much the same thing to their local public schools (which is probably a fairly small minority, I’ll note), I am aghast.

            People should feel free to make whatever educational decisions they think is best for their child. They should also take the time to inform themselves on what is best (and, no, having black or brown classmates isn’t some inherent disadvantage). But, ideally, we’d all come together to support our public education system(s) financially and otherwise. And folks who advocate for that are often themselves parents trying to do the best for their own kids; they shouldn’t be derided for that any more than independent school parents should be for their own choices.

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            • To add to that, some insight on independent school (IS) finances. I’m largely focusing on non-parochial schools since their affiliation with other institutions can change the financials.

              Most, if not all, ISs operate at a loss if they solely relied on tuition dollars. Tuition rates are not based on per pupil spending, in part because we know some students won’t pay full freight (so base rates are set higher) AND because of the enormous dependence on fundraising, most of which comes through alumni donations and big donors. What this means is that the majority of students/families are having their IS education subsidized by others. Which isn’t bad or wrong… it just is. But because this is sort of hidden, it leads many to think they are boot-strapping their way through when in reality, they are there due to the good graces of the more/most fortunate. So it’s be nice if, in turn, when they are situated as the more fortunate, they remember this and act towards others as they hope to/are treated themselves.

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              • To clarify, per pupil spending may be $35K. Over 100 kids, that’a $3.5M in operating costs. School believes it can fundraise $1M. So it needs $2.5M in tuition or $25K/kid. So set tuition at $25K, right? Nope. Set it at $32K, because not everyone can pay the $25K.

                Full pay families supsidize the FA/scholarship families. But full pay families themselves are subsidized by donors (who may themselves be full pay families also).

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            • What I would criticize is what Lee mentions, when those same parents than support policies that further undermine the public system and then decry its failings.

              I am honestly not quite sure what that means. Mostly when I hear people talking about undermining public schools, they’re talking about people who dare to not support everything that teachers’ unions want or who think that financing should follow the student and not be de facto allocated to the school. If that is undermining, then fine, I’m all for undermining public schools, because I don’t think that there is anything sacrosanct about a public school. It’s a means to an end. There are any number of ways to publicly provide and finance universal K-12 education and a public school is only one of those ways.

              What this means is that the majority of students/families are having their IS education subsidized by others. Which isn’t bad or wrong… it just is. But because this is sort of hidden, it leads many to think they are boot-strapping their way through when in reality, they are there due to the good graces of the more/most fortunate.

              My own view is that this whole dichotomy of deserving v undeserving/earned v unearned is mostly meaningless. We are all where we are due to a number of inextricably linked, intertwining factors, some of which were completely out of our control, some of which were wholly due to our own actions, and most of which are somewhere in between. Why this should be a leading determination in how we structure and finance education is completely lost on me?

              More to the point, there is a particular historical phenomenon of white people in the south moving to private schools to escape integration. If we are going to talk about that, then let’s talk about that. What’s the purpose of using that to make some sweeping statement about private schools. And if we are going to talk about those people as villains, then let’s talk about all the good progressive white people who vote for right politicians and support the politics of the teachers’ unions and oppose school choice and then when they have kids, either move to the suburbs or send their kids to private schools (or use whatever influence they have to get their kids into the best performing public schools). As far as I can see, it’s all just part of the same system of white supremacy.

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              • When I talk about undermining the public system, I’m mainly referring to those who want to gut the budget.

                I only mentioned the IS funding model because odds are anyone from this particular district who is attending an IS is doing so with help from someone else. Which I have no issue with. The issue I do have is *if* they then turn around, support budget cuts for the public system and insist it isn’t their job to pay for other kids to goto school. And not because it necessarily is their job to pay for others to goto school, but because they are demonstrating their own ignorance of who is actually paying for their kid to goto school.

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                • I think that you’re mostly offering an inaccurate characterization of folks on the other side of an issue. I’m all for changing the way that we fund education, mainly by funding individual students and letting them take that funding to whichever school they want/will take them. Effectively, that’s a budget cut to some public schools and my reasoning has nothing to do with not wanting to pay for other kids to go to school.

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                  • I think it is less “sides” and more a wide range of positions. I’m speaking specifically about the folks that send their kids to independent schools and then push for their local public schools to be as poorly funded as possible because their kids aren’t using it. These folks are probably a pretty small group.

                    I’m open to the idea of vouchers, though the devil is in the details. I also support charter schools and am slightly opposed to teachers unions, not because I think they are selfish monsters who want to eat children (or whatever) but because public sector unions create all sorts of perverse incentives. I don’t fault teachers (or any other group of workers) from banding together to promote their own interests.

                    I think in an ideal world, we’d have a wide variety of schools employing a range of methods and a system for helping families/kids attend the school that works best for them.

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          • And where in this morality play fits the Working Class Black Gal who puts her kid in a Christian school to get a better learning environment for her child?

            We’ll be informed that any educational and professional attainments she achieves are due entirely to “handouts” and “racial quotas”, regardless of her own efforts and those of her mother.

            Thanks for playing!

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            • Thanks for playing!

              I’m not playing. I’ll leave it to the white folks to argue over who the good guys are. The only thing that I’m interested in is how to help get black people out of their role as props in other people’s morality plays.

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              • My point was that when rich people refuse to associate with us, its elite snobbery, and we routinely enjoy morality play stories where these elite snobs get their comeuppance.

                When we refuse to associate with poorer people, well, mister, that’s just us protecting our kids.

                When a rich person decides they deserve to rule over us, its ugly aristocracy, and we are all equal as God made us.

                When we look at poorer people, well, they are just inferior somehow, without the good breeding of us decent folk.

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  2. US2: Fake news. The city apparently has a council-manager system of government and only the manager gets a key to the building; the mayor received a key to his individual office. And this appears to be of the genre, reporter goes south to tell a story that he/she didn’t need to go far to report: “So, how does the city get around the federal law prohibiting segregation in public schools? All the white children go to private academies while the black children attend public schools.”

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  3. Us8 – I thought I saw promos during the New Year’s Eve show about upcoming performances in Las Vegas and Hollywood (both PST). (I only saw the half hour before midnight)

    For complete coverage*, you also need San Juan, Anchorage and Honolulu.

    *of American cities, sorry Guam and American Samoa.

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  4. In other news, Manafort has gone with the full hail mary.

    Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is suing special counsel Robert Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and the US Department of Justice.

    Manafort is accusing Rosenstein of exceeding his power by appointing Mueller to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from” the initial inquiry.

    Now, I’m no lawyer, but that seems to be a move of utter desperation.

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      • Manafort hasn’t made a deal. Neither has Gates. Flynn has, as has Papadapolous (who possibly wore a wire).

        Although fun news there — apparently the FBI was tipped off back in early 2016, well before the Steele Dossier, by Papadapolous drunkenly bragging to an Australian diplomat about how the Russians were offering Trump dirt on the Clintons. Said Diplomat promptly informed his intel community, who informed the US intel community, who informed the FBI.

        And apparently the Australians weren’t the only ones notifying the US IC about Russian meddling.

        Which was why the FBI was already digging into Trump months before the Steele dossier came to their attention.

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        • Also very loud in it’s absence is the Trump campaign going to the FBI to report what they had been told and that the Russians were actively trying to deal info to them. Sort of , you know, odd they didn’t report all that stuff. Even, judging by todays hot news, Bannon realized that was deep doo doo.

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    • I had long suspected he never wanted to be President and the momentum of his campaign and base’s support just got carried away and took him with it. I predicted he’d find a way to bow out of the race, especially when the odds just looked so absurdly against him, to avoid winning OR losing and would claim it was because he was better for the country at the helm of his country or something. Basically, a face-saving moved that avoid the sting of defeat or the enormity of success.

      I haven’t read the piece yet, but I suspect now that if there wasn’t such a viscous backlash to his candidacy, he might have taken this route. But the more folks shat on him, the more important it became to him to shit right back.

      So, yes, here we are… a President seemingly motivated by anything but good governance, leadership, or the country’s best interests.

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    • This news broke after my earlier comments about Trump’s unfitness, but they exemplify it perfectly.
      In that, there is something odd, very disturbingly odd and objectively wrong about the Trump presidency.

      Something that has nothing to do with policy differences or political ideology.
      I mean, I understand the argument from Corey Robin or the guys at LGM that Trump governs like a bog standard Republican.

      But the Executive isn’t just the executor of a policy platform; as the holder of a unique set of powers, his temperament and fitness and behavior is as much a part of the qualifications for the office as his age and citizenship status.

      And there is just something really wrong with this guy– maybe mental instability, perhaps deep seated emotional issues, but whatever it is, when the media portrays him as just another politician and his bizarre tweets and speeches as on par with Bush’s or Obama’s, it reminds me of that Twilight Zone episode with Billy Mumy as the boy with godlike powers, and everyone just carried on with forced cheer, terrified of speaking the truth.

      On one level it may appear that the media is overly hostile to Trump, but as I see it, what they are really doing trying to ignore what is in front of our eyes and instead look at some imaginary Trump who speaks in Beltway English, with all the gravitas and dignity of a conventional politician. This is what they mean when they insist on taking him “seriously but not literally” or when they assure us he is actually just some kind of performance artist.

      It reminds me of when Newsweek or Time ran an article about Yuri Andropov, the short-lived successor to Leonid Brezhnev. The article claimed to have information that instead of a gray, staid, Politburo hack, Andropov was secretly a jazz afficionado who wanted to liberalize the Soviet Union.
      It was all bullshit, but eagerly lapped up by Westerners desperate to believe such a thing.

      As Paul Musgrave puts it:
      There is no secret master plan; Trump is the WYSIWYG President.

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      • I think there is a ton of anecdotal evidence to say that Trump is experiencing some kind of dementia and/or on-set of Alzheimer’s. Not only does the Trump Presidency say something dark about the man himself, it says ill of the body politic. Tens of millions of people voted for Trump because of his WYSIWYG factor. They continue to do so despite all evidence of Trump’s unfitness. And these people have some defenders of the “I didn’t vote for Trump but I will defend people voting for Trump” variety.

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      • What Trump tells me is that it is long past time for the American people to stop placing so much on the president with regard to domestic policy of any stripe.

        Trump is the F-You president of the right, and the only reason an F-You president has any value is because people see the office as so terribly important to their interests.

        Nay, to their id & ego. Too many people have some need to see something significant of themselves in the president.

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        • If the office of the Presidency were to become a ceremonial figurehead with the sole power of cutting ribbons and attending foreign funerals, then…

          No.
          No, even then I can’t.

          Even that is too much to place in the hands of a person like Trump. He couldn’t be trusted not to feel up a female Prime Minister, or engage in a dick measuring contest with a dignitary. Perhaps one that was metaphorical, or not.

          This isn’t a commentary on our political structure. No matter what the governmental org chart looks like, every single office needs to be held by a person with suitable gravitas and stability. Someone needs to be in control of the military and nuclear arsenal. Even a sub-Cabinet position like the director of FEMA makes life and death decisions.

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    • The most interesting part of that article is the short blurb explaining how the information was arrived at. The author of an upcoming book, a journalist, was just…allowed to hang out in the White House, without anyone setting any ground rules on what could and couldn’t be published.

      People would habitually talk to him, and not state it was off the record, or would state it then restate it in an “on the record” comment, voiding their previous claim. (Also, it turns out Trump just habitually calls people — not friends, just acquaintances — to complain, and they in turn talk to the press. Those leaks Trump was searching for? Some of them were him, late at night, complaining on the phone to random people).

      Apparently the journalist (Wolfe? Woffe?) taped some of these conversations to boot.

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  5.  
  6. In the choice between sooner and later, it looks like Sessions chose “Sooner“.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding the Obama-era policy that had paved the way for legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country, two people with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press. Sessions will instead let federal prosecutors where pot is legal decide how aggressively to enforce federal marijuana law, the people said.

    The big thing is that California legalized recreational recently (like, it became legal on January 1st).

    And now we finally have the crisis we’d been needing and, luckily, we hit it after what I suspect is the tipping point. The feds are going to go after the big growers (and, if they’re really stupid, the small tokers) and they’re going to find out that you can mess with whatever you want… EXCEPT FOR INCOME STREAMS.

    My money is on the pot question being resolved before 2019. In the direction of legalization/regulation.

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    • My first two thoughts were:

      1) There will be plenty of growers and dealers who are in violation of both federal and state marijuana laws. Big busts — forest growers, converted houses, people with hundreds of pounds in the trunk of their car — remain routine in Colorado. IIRC, California has estimated that the legal dispensaries will capture no more than 75% of the total retail business. States should welcome anything that drives people into the legal taxed market.

      2) Are there very many federal prosecutors who will take the risks to their property, person, and (very unfortunately) families likely to occur if they go after the state-legal operations? Young males being young males, I can envision a steady stream of petty vandalism: cars keyed, tires punctured, school lockers messed with. When does a prosecutor think, “You know, there are plenty of other crimes for me to prosecute.”

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      • Prosecutors might show discretion (though there are enough egregious examples of them *NOT* doing so that I question whether that’s going to change now). What’s going to change things is that the state gummint is going to use what sparse tools it has to lean on Congresscritters/Senators.

        (Hey, remember way back when we were arguing over why in the hell some people would want to get rid of direct election of Senators? Here’s a situation where State Government would be able to lean on State-Appointed Senators in a way that they do not have under a framework of direct election!)

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        • My cynical view is that Obama policy allowed gave federal prosecutors discretion to enforce federal drug laws, it mainly just gave them an excuse to exercise the discretion not to do so.

          The practice of appointing federal officials in a state through recommendations supplied by that state’s U.S. Senators has fallen under bad repute of late, particularly as some federal judge appointees don’t seem to know what a motion in limine is. But if the practice is allowed to continue then the states will have influence on the US attorneys selected.

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  7. Secretary of the Interior Zinke announced today that the administration is opening up nearly all US outer continental shelf waters for leasing for oil/gas drilling. 47 lease sales will be held between 2019 and 2024. Governor Rick Scott (R) of Florida is quoted saying, “I have asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration.”

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