Older man with receding gray hair with a strange look on his face

We are currently in the political twilight zone. Nothing concrete has been affected since the tax reform vote, and Congress hasn’t been back in session long enough to do its usual damage. Plenty has been said, but it is not yet clear exactly what will happen, or in which direction each action will cause the nation to move. We are effectively stuck between optimism for the new year and a gnawing fear of what is likely to occur.

Let’s start 2018 with the world’s least lovable pixie: Jeff Sessions. In his capacity as Attorney General, Sessions ended the federal government’s rule on not interfering with state-based marijuana industries. The rule respected the rights of those states’ residents and guaranteed those who grow, distribute, sell, and use marijuana would not be prosecuted under the federal law which makes the plant illegal. The rescission of the rule opens the door to criminal charges being brought against peaceful, tax-paying citizens, but it does not guarantee it. Sessions has not told either the FBI or federal prosecutors to start going after those in the industry, nor has there been any legislation to support his position. The Rohrabacher-Farr appropriations amendment, upheld by multiple judges, prohibits federal funds from being used to attack state medical marijuana laws. Also, many individuals have already spoken out against Sessions with some promising to not prosecute Americans for the most harmless drug imaginable. Colorado’s US Attorney won’t change his approach to tackling drug crimes. Cory Gardner, a very conservative senator, has announced his intentions to push legislation that safeguards sales. As everything currently stands, nothing is happening to the states’ existing operations. There should be no panic about people losing their jobs and going to jail tomorrow. It is yet another petulant, partisan move by the far-right which contains more symbolism than anything else. It would then be unwise to waste time on looking for reasons why Sessions is doing this. There’s obviously no scientific reason behind it. Liberals and progressives constitute the overwhelming majority of marijuana supporters so maybe the raging elephant inside him feels compelled to come out against it. Perhaps in his youth he appropriately sat on the left, but no-one passed the kouchie and he’s still bitter about it. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter why; all that matters is what the feds do over the next few weeks and how the people react.

Now we move from innocuous marijuana to devastating nuclear weapons. This year was welcomed with yet more rattling of teeny tiny sabers. Kim Jong-un informed the world he had a nuclear launch button at his fingertips and the President of the United States of America told him to stop being childish and arranged a meeting for the two countries to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction and promote international cooperation. No, wait, all he did was tweet that his button was larger (the button is so big Trump will need both of his hands to push it). The media, both mainstream and social, went nuts over the president engaging in foreign policy via Twitter and mustering only a juvenile response to the threat of a nuclear attack. Sadly, those reactions were another instance of Americans focusing on the superficial aspects of politics. The real issue isn’t at all how the two imbeciles communicate with each other; it is that they genuinely could wipe entire populations off the face of the Earth. No individual or group, or even nation for that matter, should possess the ability to destroy any amount of humanity, let alone thousands of lives in only seconds. Nuclear weapons and their ilk should never have existed, and they certainly have no place in the modern world. So how can anyone possibly think those inventions serve a positive purpose? How can they believe instruments of war bring/maintain peace? What is it inside people that makes them accept the presence of those weapons in their homeland, yet lose their minds over how the president talks about them? I would love to say we know the world is heading towards peace, love, happiness, sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, but I cannot. On this issue, we truly are in a state of purgatory. We could be progressing away from war and towards diplomacy. South Korea could be setting an example America will be forced to follow while an antiwar movement reemerges to rid us all of death and destruction. We could also be headed towards a burning, inhospitable landscape where a demonic ruler oversees us all. It is an unlikely scenario which actually makes what I said before more relevant. The likelihood of, and talk about, nuclear conflict are not the root issue: the mere possibility is. Everyone should consider that the next time they go to the ballot box.

On a much lighter note, Mitt Romney is on the cusp of making a political comeback! Orrin Hatch, the Duracell Bunny of assholes, finally announced his retirement this week. He has served the theocracy of Utah since the 70s and claimed he was waiting to retire until a suitable successor was in place. He may have found his man in Mitt Romney. Romney has not publicly stated any firm interest in the seat, although there are seemingly no drawbacks in it for him. He could redeem himself after getting crushed by Obama in 2012 while bolstering all of his personal investments. Besides, there is negligible risk of him ever losing a Utah-based election. As enjoyable as it would be having him around to make fun of however, his presence in the senate could have serious ramifications. We all got a good idea of his positions during his limp run for the White House. He is vehemently pro-business, pro-religious tyranny, anti-science, and anti-dog. We can reasonably expect him to fight campaign finance reform and public education. We can likewise expect him to refuse to fight climate change and racism. Nonetheless, his conduct throughout 2016 throws a wrench into the works. He was one of the most prominent anti-Trump Republicans prior to happily being considered for Secretary of State. He may work hard against the administration’s agenda or quickly fall in line behind it. He will possibly moderate some of his positions (anti-Trump Romney), or shift further right (Trump’s employee Romney). The country will just have to wait and see if he even takes the seat, and then watch how he begins to vote. Either way, no-one even remotely liberal or progressive should be okay with Romney in the senate. In fact, it is one case in which I hope big-money interests get involved. Coca-Cola, Calvin Klein, and SpaceX all have an interest in keeping a man like him out of the senate (everyone who gets that will receive a complimentary copy of the Columbus Free Press!).

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, land thief and elephant trafficker, announced the administration’s intention to further open up the oceans to oil and gas exploration. The long-term goal is to have privately-owned rigs completely surrounding the nation exploiting every last drop of fossil fuels. The company shareholders, who are all already millionaires and billionaires, will see their incomes increase. There will be no improvement in energy security because there is a finite amount of resources under the American coastline and their worth is volatile. The already threatened wildlife will be pushed closer to extinction and there will be a greatly heightened risk of earthquakes, oil spills, and industrial accidents. America’s atmosphere will be further poisoned as the investments in safe, sustainable energy sources drop. The government is willing to risk the existence of entire species and the health of its people purely for the financial benefit of a very select few. Thankfully, this flagrant action is far from being implemented. A public feedback stage will be followed by a revision period before the administration releases its final list of sites approved for exploitation. There is plenty of time and opportunity to completely shut down Zinke’s efforts.

Here is something the government got right this week. That’s right all you lily-livered, sulking, jaundiced, MSNBC-binging Clintonistas, not everything the current administration does is automatically abhorrent. The decision was recently made to freeze almost $1 billion of military aid to Pakistan. The aid was to be in return for Pakistan controlling terrorism in the region, which it has failed to do. The first reason for this being a good decision is that the money and equipment were not achieving what they were supposed to. If someone invests money in a company but sees no returns, they pull the money out. If a patient takes a medicine that doesn’t make them feel better, they stop buying that medicine. With as much governmental waste as there is, this is a welcome act of fiscal restraint. The second reason is that shipping weapons around the world is a terrible idea. They can easily end up in the wrong hands or be used for the wrong purposes. More specifically, giving weapons to Pakistan doesn’t make anyone safer. It gives them more capability to attack India and/or their own people, and adds gunpowder to the already overflowing keg of the Middle East/South Asia. American taxpayers should be thrilled their hard-earned money is no longer being used to arm a dangerous and unpredictable foreign country when many domestic programs are horribly underfunded. International aid is still essential; it should just be in the form of vaccines, solar panels, and books instead of cash and guns.

To cap off the week’s big political news, here are all of the fresh ideas and progressive promises for the new year from the elected left:









It may be unnerving to find yourself in a period of uncertainty. It’s probably easy to take the comments being made and instinctively believe the worst is about to happen. However, this time gifts us the opportunity to sit back and critically think about what the government is trying to achieve and how we can prepare to combat it. Enjoy this moment of nothing much happening and conserve your energy for the upcoming wild ride of 2018.