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Democrats can’t afford to put it on the back burner any longer

Good article at Think Progress: Rand Paul Is Right On Marijuana, And That Should Scare Democrats Into Action

Rand Paul is fast becoming a real star for the Republican Party, right at a point where it has become painfully clear to their leadership that they have to reinvent the party or become irrelevant, appealing only to an ever-shrinking wacko base. Paul the younger provides the perfect opportunity — he’s seen as more mainstream in appeal than his father, and the notion of moving the party toward a combination of fiscal conservatism and social libertarianism is a direction that could yield votes.

Just last week, Rand talked about immigration reform in ways that would have been anathema to the GOP very recently, and had a remarkable number of those on the far right support him on it. He smartly changed the wording so it didn’t appear to be adopting the views of the left, and it seems to have worked toward galvanizing the Republicans to move toward immigration reform.

Now, he talks about criminal justice reform and drug policy reform, and he does it in a way that can appeal to swing voters, without completely alienating moderate republicans.

It’s interesting when I bring up Rand Paul to some of my progressive friends, they are so enraged by him, they can’t even calm down enough to talk about the issues (it’s like they put their hands over their ears and just repeatedly yell “Racist, Racist, Racist”). Ignoring what he is doing, and letting the GOP get caught up on immigration reform and get ahead of criminal justice reform would be a huge mistake for the Democrats.

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46 comments to Democrats can’t afford to put it on the back burner any longer

  • Trouble with the parties at the moment is that they seem to be in the process of defining their platforms, and in doing so the concentration often becomes defining differences rather than similarities.

    The legalization of marijuana and the ending of the war on drugs cuts across political boundaries. An attempt will be made to make this a partisan issue. Its not. Could this issue help us to regain an operational political system in Washington? One that opposing parties could both rally around? I know I am being idealistic with high hopes. Like wishing on a star.

    I guess we are still waiting for the star. I had hoped it would be Obama.

    • Windy

      I had hopes for Obama being the one to reverse direction in the WoD in the beginning of his first term (even though I would NEVER vote for him or ANY Democrat — if the candidate isn’t libertarian in his stances, he doesn’t get my vote, ever — by his second year I knew that was hopeless and I never changed my mind even when people were saying “wait until his second term, he’ll end it then”. I don’t hold out much greater hope for the GOP, though it SHOULD be right up their alley of “smaller, less intrusive government”. Nope, this is going to have to be done by the people, not by anyone in the fed gov; we will do it piece by piece and State by State, even city by city if necessary.

    • Matthew Meyer

      Your comment reminded me of an op-ed piece that ran in the NY Times right after the election. It was basically a screed telling Democrats not to support pot legalization.

      For an idea of the flavor:

      “Indeed, marijuana activists use phony science, just as global warming deniers do…How can Democrats criticize Republicans for disregarding science and making up facts when people on our side do the same?”

      “Our side” huh?

      Here’s the op-ed: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/08/opinion/a-bad-trip-for-democrats.html?_r=0

  • kaptinemo

    That generational shift, again. The pols still don’t understand what has happened…most of them, that is.

    Both ‘parties’ have to be concerned about irrelevance to the new generation of voters. The very means of communication (and control) that the previous political paradigm employed is outdated; even the words have less meaning and value, as they were geared towards propagandizing a generation that is now leaving the political stage.

    The ‘parties’ still think they can pull the old bait-and-switch and get away with diffusing a groundswell for change in such a way as to reduce the threat to the political and social Powers-That-Be and maintain their lofty position courtesy of the status quo. But the old techniques don’t work for an Internet-savvy generation.

    And neither do the old lies.

    So, if Rand Paul is seen as a threat by the Dem leadership, it’s only because the Dem leadership ignored their own ‘radical’ base for too long in favor of appeasing warmongering NeoCons and their ‘pwogwessive’ enablers who favor the status quo (including mindless support of drug prohibition)

    And the up-and-coming younger voters saw that, and they’re having none of it. They know the whole system is rigged against their interests. They’re already footing the bill, tax-wise, and don’t believe in that money going for a number of things, one of which is drug prohibition. An irresistible force is fast approaching the fragile, Potemkin Village facade of a not-so-immovable object. Revolutions usually look like that, in the beginning.

  • Hillary Clinton can cozy up with gays but she will never change her stance on marijuana legalization.

    She is too old and crusty to change.

  • “[President Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.” — H. R. Haldeman to his diary

    The Republicans have a legacy.

    2016 needs to provide a Republican addressing to the issues of their own legacy.

    Rand Paul sounds like a clone of Kevin Sabet in his recent news appearances. He is promoting what sounds like a “prohibition lite”.

    “Paul said that he doesn’t support people using marijuana but said he also doesn’t necessarily support putting them in jail for extended periods of time.” (Politico- Rand Paul: I don’t promote marijuana http://tinyurl.com/bfwelrv ) Did they get it right?

    I am glad to see some light appearing at the end of the Republican tunnel, but its some pretty dim light if you ask me. I hope Rand grows some and clarifies this a bit.

  • Tony Aroma

    If the Republicans were smart, they’d jump on the legalization bandwagon. Of course that’s true for all politicians of all parties these days. But as much as Republicans like prohibition for various reasons, it just doesn’t fit very well with their limited government rhetoric. And such a radical change in their platform might just attract the attention of some younger followers, and save the Republicans from becoming an extremist fringe group.

    But my prediction is that they won’t because it conflicts with their uncontrollable urge to legislate morality. Neither will the Democrats, mainly because they want to protect us from ourselves. And of course both parties have financial interests in maintaining the status quo. That leaves the progressives and limited government supporters with no choice but the Libertarian party, which I predict will grow significantly over the next few elections.

    • Republicans aren’t that smart so the probability is quite low.

      The Democrats generally have the better education but ending marijuana prohibition goes against the big govermnment nanny state objective.

    • Windy

      That leaves only the limited government supporters with no choice but the libertarians.

      The progressives do NOT support limited government or ending the WoD, they support totalitarian government and have been indoctrinating toward that end in the educational system almost since the educational system began in this country.

      Related, sort of:
      http://www.examiner.com/article/the-tea-party-vs-the-establishment-gop-the-fight-for-total-control

    • Republicans are in sorry shape. They really are an opposition party with no outlook for any new or bright future. Rand Paul is the only person who I know of that has no apologies to make for “the sins of the father”, and therefore a logical choice in my mind for a new face.

      The Republicans need more than a new face. This could tip a bit in Republican favor if the Dems decide to sit on their thumbs with regards to the issue of marijuana legalization. That would be foolish.

  • ashkenxxx

    It is almost impossible to have great sex without first smoking a joint, sensitivity is doubled and the climax is mind blowing. Most ladies will not refuse a date if the guy promises to bring along good weed, she knows that it will be a fun evening. The chances of pregnancy are greatly increased among pot smokers; this is due to deeper penetration and a relaxation of the vagina.

    • primus

      Plus when the woman has an orgasm it is easier to get pregnant.

      • Duncan20903

        .
        .

        Heck, I’ve heard that there are even some guys getting preggers now. When I was a boy my mother used to like to say that if a man ever got knocked up he’d be rich and famous. I was totally shocked when I found out about that guy but not until he was well into his second pregnancy. Sorry mom, maybe in the 1960s but here in the third millennium it barely rates half an episode of Oprah.

        Women can have orgasms? Wow, who’da thunk it?

  • allan

    It is almost impossible to have great sex without first smoking a joint

    sorry, gotta call BS on that, but whatever floats your boat. And besides us getting screwed, that all relates to drug policy how?

  • Servetus

    The Democrats may already be too far behind to catch up. Evangelist Bryan Fischer (yes, that Bryan Fischer), in response to Rand Paul’s suggestions on marijuana policies, is saying marijuana should be fined like a speeding ticket.

    http://tinyurl.com/c3hgsqh

    • *..*/Comment

      “Has anyone been injured jumping on a bandwagon yet?

      Support for gay marriage and pot were political suicide last week, now it is so mainstream the screaming Jesus crowd is on board.

      Can we get a hallelujah for single payer, choice, immigration reform and a safety net now?”

      —Tristero1

  • ezrydn

    Howard’s recent newsletter told of his attending CPAC. He sat in front of the podium when Rand spoke. After the speech, He says Rand came down, shook his hand and said, “Thanks for wearing the shirt.”

  • claygooding

    When incumbent prohibition supporting legislators start losing their offices and it becomes evident that was why they lost their seat both parties will quit ignoring drug law reform,,until then all we will get is more smoke and mirrors.

    • claygooding

      It would wake a few up now if this guy wins:

      Former City Councilman Albanese supports the legalization of marijuana

      http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/high_hope_for_frisks_X5BflHKPBX9dsxchWOAeFN

      Sal Albanese, a former city councilman from Brooklyn, recommended legalizing pot so people who are found with small amounts of it during stop-and-frisks won’t be arrested.

      “Legalize it, tax it, and regulate it — that’s what I would do as mayor,” Albanese said on MSNBC yesterday morning during a panel with all Democratic mayoral candidates except Christine Quinn, who declined to appear.

      This is what we need,,not only states but our major cities legalizing to get both parties to get into the fray.

  • Servetus

    Much of the inspiration for a border fence and related surveillance facilities along the Mexico/U.S. border has been to support the drug war’s feeble efforts at interdicting drugs smuggled across borders.

    After 9/11, and with the Mexico drug war killing thousands every year, national security is in high gear. Border security equipment has become a booming technology sector for the drug war industrial complex.

    Drug war mongers, corporatists and fence builders are probably deliriously happy about this, but the cost to the taxpayer has been enormous. For Democrats and Republicans alike, these costs should be factored in when determining the overall price of the drug war:

    In 2012, the U.S. government spent $18 billion on border and immigration enforcement agencies, more than on all other federal law enforcement agencies—including the FBI, DEA, Secret Service and several others’—combined. Tucson and Southern Arizona are front and center in this border policing bonanza, and it’s one of the reasons the Washington D.C.-based DRS Technologies has also set up shop at the University of Arizona’s Science and Technology Park on Rita Road.

    The UA tech park has identified 57 border technology companies working in and around Tucson in what Bruce Wright, associate vice president for university research parks, called an “emerging industry cluster.” Wright said that when you consider the international market for border technology, it is a booming industry approaching $20 billion in sales in 2013 and projected to reach $54.4 billion by 2018.

    …Sarah Launius of the Tucson-based humanitarian aid group No More Deaths posed a question probably not widely considered at the expo: “When government and industry talk about ‘border security’ we have to ask ‘security for whom?'” Since Sept. 11, the United States has spent $791 billion on homeland security, which outdoes the cost of the entire New Deal by (an inflation-adjusted) $300 billion.

  • Matthew Meyer

    OT: Any of you ever see this site, claiming to be the fruit of a scientist’s search for truth?
    http://hemphoax.org/

    The site bashes “stoner history” (my term) of hemp, claiming to debunk a series of “myths” including the notion that hemp was ever an important crop in the US.

    I think it serves a purpose of some value, since I don’t like repeating false information.

    (A new tidbit for me: hemp farming was not outlawed by the 1937 Tax Act, and, according to the author, failed for market reasons, not legal ones.)

    It just seems like a tiny little corner to have the science police in; I mean, I’m wondering whether the guy thinks stoner exaggeration or mistaken assertion rises to the level of skulduggery involved in prohibition itself.

    I mean, really.

    I’m wondering who funds it.

    • claygooding

      Pure ONDCP science:

      “”When grown on similar soils under similar management, trees consistently outproduce hemp on a per acre, per year basis. The myth is derived by misrepresenting a 1916 USDA study comparing hemp on ideal agricultural soil under fertilization with unmanaged natural stands of trees on soil too poor to farm. The 4X more statistic also was calculated by assuming the use of the hemp hurds for paper, which is only a hypothetical industry; the real hemp paper industry employs the bast fiber, which is a smaller portion of the hemp plant than the hurd. Thus, the “four times more per acre” argument is complete nonsense.””

      He fails to allow that 20 years of crops of hemp would produce sufficient fine hemp fibers compared with what 1 crop of pulpwood. Also when growing the finer fibered hemp I believe two crops can be produced a year because it is not raised to maturity but picked at appx 4 ft height.

    • Rudyard/Dumpling

      His demeanor reminds me of an old friend.

    • Irie

      I read the article, then some of the comments (couldn’t take to much of them as my head was starting to throb because of the stupidly that oozed from them)….anyway wanted to make one small observation….I feel I can make this in good faith, and common sense, as I too grew up,( literally, was setting chokers and running power saws by the time of 11) in the logging business, my parents owned over 400 acres of it, and the entire county is logging county.
      I keep reading about the ratio of tons of pulp and fiber being talked about on timber verses hemp. Did anyone factor in the FACT of a tree must have at LEAST 80 years of growing (especially good pine and fir),and in 80 years, how much hemp can one grow and produce on that same acre of land? How is the ratio then? I am educated enough, and have enough sense to know that I don’t know everything, so I’m throwing it out there…..can anyone answer this with some clarity, please

      • stlgonzo

        That is what I was wondering. I did not understand when he answered that in the comments.

      • Pave the planet: One people/One world/One slab of concrete

        .
        .

        The way they worded it sure made it sound like they had taken all factors into account. I’m not saying that they did that, I’m saying that they said that they did. Does anyone else recall a couple of decades back when the little talking prohibitionist doll saying “math is hard!” was an item of controversy? No wait, maybe that was Barbie. It’s easy to confuse a Barbie doll with a prohibitionist.

        I think this one belongs in the “half truth” division although I suppose it’s arguable that it could qualify as a bald faced lie.

        Did you know that nowadays it’s cheaper to use steel studs when building a structure. It seems obvious to me that when steel is cheaper than wood that we’re running short of trees. Just try to build a study with redwood wall panels. The Japanese desire for redwood is going to make your eyes pop out of your head when you see the price. Sheesh, it’s almost as if it would take centuries to bring a redwood tree to harvest.

  • stlgonzo

    OT: Majority Of Missourians Support Legalizing Marijuana

    When a poll says this about my backwards-ass home state. I think we are really reaching the tipping-point.

    http://tinyurl.com/btg4get

  • Daniel Williams

    Neill Franklin was at my home this morning – very nice guy, by the way – and we discussed this very issue. I’ve said (and written) for the past 15 years that repealing drug prohibition was in the Republicans’ wheelhouse – all they needed was a return to their core principles of limited government and personal reponsibility.

    Outreach to the Republicans by drug policy reformers will scare the shit out of the Democrats and maybe, just maybe, get us off the dime and rolling ahead. Worst case is that the Republicans will be no different than the Democrats – who seem pretty uninterested in helping us, as they believe we’ve got no place else to go…

    Buckle-up, kiddies – it could be a wild ride!

    • darkcycle

      Lucky you, I hope you said “Hidey” from all of us stuck here on Pete’s Couch.
      Wild ride indeed. Jus’ hoping I come through this with my ass still attatched. Gettin’ a little fretful over what Kleiman is gonna recommend to the State…I thinks that choice bodes ill.

      • Duncan20903

        Well it could very easily have been much worse. They could have hired Linda Taylor or Calvina Fay.

    • kaptinemo

      “…they believe we’ve got no place else to go…

      And thus betray their true situation; it is they who have no place left to go.

      Why? Consider: the demographics have changed, already. The old folks who could be counted on to ‘vote the straight ticket’ are dying off. With the Dems pretty much having abandoned their true progressive base (as opposed to the ‘business-as-usual’ Establishment enablers) the Green Party is waiting with open arms.

      That is not as empty a threat as many may think, when you consider that it was that very same true progressive base that worked so hard for Mr. Zero’s first campaign…and thus his and the Dem Party’s ideological betrayal stings even worse. The arrogance of the Dem’s ‘no place left to go’ assessment has cost them the very dedicated foot soldiers they need to remain viable. And one of the ideals very near and dear to those foot soldiers is drug law reform.

      Recall how the Dem Establishment players used to laugh at drug law reformers? Hear any further laughter? Hear of any more deprecating, condescending comments about ‘the Internet people’? Nope. President Choom isn’t snickering anymore, and neither are the Dem Party apparatchiki.

      What you’re hearing now is nervous silence. The nervous silence of someone who’s realized his poker hand isn’t as good as he thought it was.

      The proof of how seriously they are taking this is in the fact that almost immediately after the Election the more forward thinking (or opportunistic) pols began to approach the reform organizations for input on re-legalization legislation.

      And with a mass exodus facing the Dems (more and more people are declaring themselves ‘independent’), in any direction, the Dems will face the same specter the Repubs are facing right now, the specter of a politically demographical Grim Reaper swinging his scythe in their direction, They have to come up with a way to regain the relevance they once had, and that means they MUST address the issues of importance to the (younger) demographics they wish to court.

      They don’t own the lifeboat, anymore; we do. And after all the years of us being ‘in the water’, marginalized courtesy of Dem pols enabling the institutionalized oppression of cannabists, I’m more inclined to bash their frakkin’ skulls in with the paddle rather than help them aboard…and I daresay I am not the only one. If they want to stay a viable party, then drug law reform is, finally and irrevocably, ‘on the table’. Otherwise, they can sink, and I and millions more would happily assist them.

      I’ve said it before, and at the risk of seeming a boor, I’ll do so again: It will take exactly 2 election cycles to prove we’re not to be ignored anymore, and we’ve already had the first one, where the sleepily cocksure, arrogant political beast got a rude awakening courtesy of WA and CO whacking it on the snout. Another election cycle that removes prohibition enablers from office will be all the confirmation needed to realize we’re a force to be reckoned with.

      • allan

        the Repugs have so much as admitted they were waaay behind the Obamismos on the whole social media thing. But even the Dems are archaic, following the trend rather than leading it.

        Last summer when the Dems had 2 candidates here in OR for AG in the primary, former US Atty for Oregon Dwight Holton was the leading candidate, with an 8 point edge over Ellen Rosenblum. Well, young Dwight (very well connected Virginia political family) made the mistake of pissing off OR cannabists.

        A young man very active on SSDP, Sam Chapman led the social network assault. Others provided No-on-Dwight and Not Dwight wwwebsites. Plenty of LTEs were written and published, websites like the WeedBlog kept up the Yes Ellen – No Dwight barrage and some late, big money came from the likes of DPA to help Ellen finish strong. In the end Dwight lost nearly 2 to 1.

        A big reason we are where we are now in drug policy reform is the constant barrage of counter drug war propaganda with which we have been relentlessly blanketing all media with our letters and comments lo these many years.

        Now… we need a Bull Moose independent, running as an enthusiastic anti-prohibition prezdental candidate to pull a Teddy Roosevelt and beat one of the major party candidates. That and a few more states passing legalization… and (pardon my fantasy) provide a drubbing to the likes of of a high-profile Dem like Nancy Pelosi. (ok, specifically Nancy Pelosi)

        • kaptinemo

          I was thinking of the Holton loss, but couldn’t recall his name. But you’ve illustrated my point better than I could.

          This is what it means when I say the demographics have shifted in our favor. The technology, alone (which cannabists and other cognitive libertarians invented) is beyond the ken of the apparatchiki. That was a comparatively tiny first flexing of the potential that cannabists have always possessed (due to sheer numbers), but the circumstances (that demographic shift, again) had not wheeled into place yet. Now, they have.

          Our opposition really, truly have no understanding of it, and it’s out-pacing them ever further; they’ll never catch up. They amount to being Stone-Age primitives trying to pilot a jet aircraft…primitives who certainly have no business being at the controls, but who, with the equivalents of inchoate grunts and threatening gestures, insist on being so.

        • Duncan20903

          .
          .

          allan for gods sake go back to history class. Mr. Roosevelt and Progressive Party, AKA the Bull Moose Party, were H. Ross Perot style spoilers in 1912. Subsequently the Progressive Party gave our Country the Federal income tax, elected rather than appointed U.S. Senators, drinking alcohol prohibition, and voting women. Constitutional Amendments 16, 17, 18, 19 respectively. Their primary reason for supporting women’s suffrage was not because it was the right thing to do but because women supported the idiocy of drinking alcohol prohibition by a rather large margin. Ironically they got the 18th Amendment ratified before women’s right to vote became a protected right under the 19th Amendment.

          The Progressive Party was by and large funded by U.S. Steel because President Taft used the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to break up the company. That despite the fact that while POTUS that Mr. Roosevelt had approved J.P. Morgan-owned U.S. Steel as a “good” trust. “Publisher Frank A. Munsey, the largest stockholder of U.S. Steel at the time, provided much of the funding for the new organization; George W. Perkins, a director of U.S. Steel and Chairman of the International Harvester Company —- one of the trusts Taft had attacked —- became its executive secretary.”
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Party_%28United_States,_1912%29

          IMO Teddy Roosevelt was a total asshole. Had he not done that thing with the Progressive Party, President Taft almost certainly would have been re-elected in 1912. Instead we got Woodrow Wilson.

          While Roosevelt was campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 14, 1912, a saloonkeeper named John Schrank shot him, but the bullet lodged in his chest only after penetrating his steel eyeglass case and passing through a thick (50 pages) single-folded copy of the speech he was carrying in his jacket. Roosevelt, as an experienced hunter and anatomist, correctly concluded that since he was not coughing blood, the bullet had not completely penetrated the chest wall to his lung, and so declined suggestions he go to the hospital immediately. Instead, he delivered his scheduled speech with blood seeping into his shirt. He spoke for 90 minutes. His opening comments to the gathered crowd were, “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” Afterwards, probes and x-ray showed that the bullet had traversed three inches (76 mm) of tissue and lodged in Roosevelt’s chest muscle but did not penetrate the pleura, and it would be more dangerous to attempt to remove the bullet than to leave it in place. Roosevelt carried it with him for the rest of his life.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt#Formation_of_the_Bull_Moose_Party

        • allan

          I know Duncan… I was using Bull Moose as an example of a 3rd party playing the spoiler part, not the specifics of winning and losing an election.

        • Duncan20903

          .
          .

          If you think that the SCOTUS made the wrong decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010) then it would be totally unethical for you to support the Legalize Marijuana Super PAC in any way, shape or form.

        • darkcycle

          How do you figure? I don’t get that at all. Citizen’s United decided that money was forever more the only way to get representation in this government. I dislike it. I disagree with it. I despise the inordinate influence it gives to large moneypots. But why, oh why, since there is nothing I can DO about Citizen’s United, would I just unilaterally give up any ability to influence this system at all? Makes no sense for me to simply crawl into a hole and withdraw from the fight. We’re not in any position to pick the feild….if we don’t fight, we lose.

      • Duncan20903

        .
        .

        I really am grateful that the prohibitionists on the other side of the table have finally fabricated some new arguments. I find it an annoying vexation every time I hear a yet another piece of Know Nothing hysterical rhetoric that was old before Ronald Reagan was the POTUS.

        Jimmy Carter was POTUS at the very first time I heard the very lame argument which asserts that we can’t re-legalize pot because we don’t have a breathalyzer equivalent to detect merrywanna or a pro se “limit” so that we don’t make the prosecutors police officers and judges have to work very hard with trivial nonsense like proving the actual crime was committed by the person charged with cannabis addled driving.

        Jimmy Carter was President when the bogus monkey brain study proved that carbon monoxide causes brain damage if inhaled in large quantities.

        Richard Nixon was POTUS when I first heard that we can’t re-legalize merrywanna because there “just aren’t enough valid scientific studies” so we can’t take any chances.
        http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,841337,00.html (subscription required)

        It was 1990 when I heard a prohibitionist predict the imminent demise of the Dutch coffee shops. I remember because it made me very, very sad that I was never, ever going to get a chance to live the dream. Periodically they are still predicting that Dutch are ready to come to their senses and reinstate draconian penalties for possession of an illegal smile and/or other assorted cannabis law violators. The joke is on them because the Dutch hand out the harshest average penalties for their cannabis law violators of any country in the EU.

        Of course Mr. Reagan was POTUS the first time we heard the platitude, “just say no” which was designed busy work to keep Nancy out of the liquor cabinet during the daylight hours.

        It’s about frackin’ time that they came up with some new material.

    • It would be great if Neill Franklin was the next US Drug Czar. Since drug czars tend to come from a law enforcement background, I can think of few people more qualified.

      • Duncan20903

        IIRC Mr. Franklin has a problem with being a bald faced liar and that’s a prerequisite to taking the job as the drugzar.