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Sun., Aug. 3, 2014

Smart Bombs: It’s not business as usual

So the House of Representatives actually sued the president for delaying full implementation of the health care law they despise.

Why the delay? Employers – you know, the job creators Republicans otherwise extol – wanted more time to sort out the challenges of purchasing coverage for their employees. So the president gave them an extended grace period on meeting the mandate.

At the time, Christine Pollack, vice president of government affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said this: “Retailers appreciate the flexibility in the final rules which provide a roadmap for implementation and will help them prepare for the changes in the way they can provide coverage to their employees and their families.”

Republicans – the folks who otherwise hate the mandate and its penalties – said, in effect: “No delays. No grace period.” In other words, stick to a schedule that will ensure that more businesses are penalized.

Now, you might ask yourself, “What the hell?” But it’s better to ask them, “What happened to business friendly?”

Lawlessness. House Speaker John Boehner said his caucus decided to sue the president to rein in the executive branch’s “lawlessness,” which brings us to another issue.

At a news conference Friday, President Barack Obama said, “We tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.”

Aside from the awkward “folks,” it was refreshing to hear what had become plainly obvious, despite the denials of then-President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Obama was responding to the soon-to-be-released Senate report on how the CIA treated some detainees after the 9/11 attacks. It concludes that the CIA used waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation, nudity, humiliation and other brutal tactics that added up to torture, according to the Associated Press. The report also noted that the CIA lied about its actions and that torture failed to produce any life-saving information.

In short, the Bush administration undermined American values and got nothing in exchange.

Torture is illegal. Laws were broken. Obama said his administration won’t pursue criminal charges. But if Boehner’s attorneys aren’t too busy with that frivolous lawsuit, there’s some actual lawlessness to look into.

Seeds of insanity. While it’s far more common for people to drink booze and smoke cigarettes before getting hooked on heroin or other hard drugs, you never hear those substances called “gateways.”

Marijuana, on the other hand, has been saddled with this flimsy allegation from the beginning. It’s part of the justification the government uses for assigning the drug Schedule 1 status. As dangerous as heroin. More dangerous than meth.

Under federal law, marijuana has no medicinal value, but meth can be proscribed for weight loss, as a recent New York Times editorial pointed out. Ask a cop whether they’d rather deal with a pot head or a meth head.

There is no scientific basis for the severe federal judgment of pot, but its existence is repeatedly cited by members of town councils for why they won’t allow marijuana to be sold in their jurisdictions.

As a result, three holders of marijuana business licenses are suing their towns for not letting them set up shop, and the state attorney general is saddled with the task of defending the initiative that legalized the stuff.

So, once again, federal prohibition proves to be a gateway to insanity.

Associate Editor Gary Crooks can be reached at or (509) 459-5026. Follow him on Twitter @GaryCrooks.

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