Rohrabacher Does us Proud on Pot and TPP


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dana weird hat“Credit where due” is like, my middle name.  So when my old nemesis, my Congressman-for-life, whose cheerleading for the 2003 Iraq invasion was probably the main thing that inspired me to get into political activism and blogging, the somewhat madcap Republican with whom I’m now (thanks largely to the rightwing HB Facebook forums) guardedly friendly, does two praiseworthy things in the same month, setting himself apart from the majority of his GOP colleagues and aligning himself with the majority of Congressional Dems, well, credit where due.

First there’s the Medical Marijuana Amendment he co-wrote with Salinas Democrat Sam Farr, an amendment that would “prohibit any federal employee from using federal funds to prosecute patients or doctors using medical marijuana in states that have made it legal,” and which passed handily on Wednesday by a 242-186 vote.  As Dana eloquently states on his website:

“This shows the people’s representatives really can reflect the overwhelming sentiment of Americans to do the right thing.  Too many patients, for too long, have suffered under a regime that encourages doctors to prescribe opiates rather than the cannabinoids they deem much safer and more effective.  The federal government has been expanding its control over our lives far beyond what our Founding Fathers had in mind.  This should be a states rights issue like many others.”

This being a budget-amendment type thing, he and Farr pulled it off last year as well, and presumably will have to keep it up every year until marijuana is finally legalized nationally.  Dana’s especially happy that “a record 67 Republicans” supported it this year, up from I’m-not-sure-what last year … so his allies on this are obviously mostly from across the aisle.

Running the pre-eminent Orange County political blog as I do, I was most interested in which of OUR 6 or 7 Congresscritters backed him up.  The Democrats?  Loretta and her sister?  Alan Lowenthal?  “Oh, I’m sure Alan and the Sanchez sisters were for it.”  Ed Royce?  Mimi Walters?  Those two soulless drones not so much. 

issa crooked faceWhat about Darrell Issa, the wealthy Vista firebrand who’s also been representing southernmost OC for a few years now?  Dana really wasn’t sure.  “Something he said made me think he backed it, but … I may have misunderstood, I’m really not sure how he voted.”  I called Issa’s office and they were strangely touchy.  “Darrell and Dana are very friendly, so I doubt Darrell would have opposed Dana’s amendment.”

Wrong.  I checked with Naz Namazi (yes, that Iranian-American filmmaker lady who ran for something last year and still works for Dana) and Darrell was a NO.

So the takeaway for OC voters who support medical marijuana, states rights, and/or a ratcheting-down of the Drug War:  Darrell Issa, Ed Royce and Mimi Walters have no problem with Obama’s DEA stormtroopers coming in and kicking down the door of state-law-abiding dispensaries and collectives, and ripping the edibles out of your warm living hands.

Whereas Alan Lowenthal, Dana Rohrabacher, and the Sanchez sisters did the right thing for patients, and California voters.

Wait.

D

I found myself twice in our phone conversation using the expression “did the right thing” or such, and both times Dana took exception.  “I don’t like to claim that I do the right thing and other politicians do the wrong thing.  I just try to follow my conscience, and I’m sure people who decide the other way have their own honest reasons.”  Honest?  If you say so, but…

Again, wait!  Does that mean that he didn’t write the quote above that was attributed to him on his website?

Oh well, moving on…

tpp

One vital  national issue that this blog has been covering for years and is FINALLY getting some press attention is the Transpacific Trade Partnership, known unaffectionately as “NAFTA on Steroids” … our friend D’Marie wrote us a pretty definitive article on it not long ago, which you should read if you haven’t.  What’s leaked out of the negotiations so far is pretty disturbing and seems mostly centered on giving corporations even more power, more power than people and even governments… but that’s the thing, it’s being conducted in such secrecy we can only guess at how bad it is.

And to help this go down even quicker with less opposition, the administration is pushing for “Fast Track” (now euphemized as “Trade Promotion Authority”) whereby Congress is kept in the dark about all the agreement’s details until the last minute at which they have to vote either yes or no.  Congressmen with any balls (male or female) bridle at this subversion of their power;  curiously those seem to be mostly Democratic Congressmen who are resisting this usurpation of their Constitutional authority by a Democratic President.  I’ve been glad to see that our Dana is one of the couple dozen Republicans who agrees with those Dems, and is planning to vote NO when Fast Track comes up in Congress in a couple weeks.

lorettaHe explains his biggest problem is the “lack of transparency;” he doesn’t think any such big and important agreement should be done in secrecy.  Word.  I know that our OC Democrats feel the same way;  I got to ask Loretta about it at her Senate announcement and her answer was strongly protective of the powers and responsibilities of the legislative branch.  Both Loretta and Dana can truthfully claim to have opposed Fast Track on trade agreements under Presidents of BOTH parties, and good for them!

The shady kleptocrats Ed Royce and Mimi Walters, not so much.  “Just get this done,” their corporate masters instruct them, and they know that happens quickest and easiest in secrecy. 

What about Darrell?  He’s told our south county readers who inquired that he has “concerns” about the lack of transparency, and his peeps told me the same.  “Concerns,” arggh.  That is politician-speak for “I am going to vote the wrong way, with faux reluctance and faux misgivings.”  Dana isn’t sure how his “good friend” Darrell will vote on this, but sadly predicts “He’ll probably go with the establishment.”  The establishment being the majority of corporatist Republicans and the minority of corporatist Democrats including the President.  Still, south-county readers, keep bugging Darrell:  949-281-2449.

no fast track

Please note, Republicans, that the fact that Dana is joined on these two issues by more Democrats than Republicans does not mean he’s being “liberal” or “moderate.”  The issues are:

  • freedom / ramping down the Drug War;
  • states’ rights; 
  • the power of the legislative branch vis-a-vis the executive;  and
  • transparency.

Those SHOULD be Republican issues, SHOULDN’T THEY?  Shouldn’t Dana have MOST Republicans with him, not just a small bold minority?

beach bonfire

Last year I had my first friendly conversation with Dana, at a Huntington Beach Community Forum bonfire.  (This was after I discovered that the three cute kids I was helping to make s’mores were his triplets.)  He had gradually become an opponent of the Bush/Cheney war in Iraq, but it sure took him a few years. 

bush mission accomplishedI tried to get him to admit he’d made a mistake being such a supporter of the war from the beginning.  It sure is hard to get a politician to admit a mistake, especially one THAT big.  I’m not sure if Hillary even has yet.  He allowed as how if he’d known how INCOMPETENTLY the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bremer team would RUN the war he would never have backed it.  That’s it.  Not the common “If I’d known there were no weapons of mass destruction.”  Apparently he has no problem with waging an unprovoked and expensive war halfway across the world to remove a nasty dictator who’s never attacked us, as long as it’s done “COMPETENTLY.”

I teased him about something Moxley never lets him forget, that he had entered office in 1988 promising to serve no more than three terms, and is now on his thirteenth.  (I hoped to maybe get the scoop on when he was planning to retire.)  He claimed that if Obama hadn’t won in 2008 he would have left then, but is convinced that he needs to be there to protect the nation at least as long as Obama is in there working his evil.

biden grinningThis led to, who would he like to see as the next President?  He believes that Hillary has no chance because she has “too much baggage.”  (Symptom of living in a Republican bubble;  I should make him a bet on that.)  Interestingly he has a real fondness for Joe Biden.  For one thing, they both share an end vision of Iraq being divided into three nations, and he also loves Joe’s sense of humor.

“I wouldn’t mind seeing him as President, but of course that can’t happen, with all his personal eccentricities.”  I looked at him silently, until he added with a chuckle,  “I know, I’m one to talk about personal eccentricities aren’t I?”

And that’s my story about Dana Rohrabacher.  First one that’s not all mean and angry!

crazy dana
[Pic by the Weekly]


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.