February 21st, 2012 at 6:00 am by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
Governor Chafee is under fire in Rhode Island for blocking three medical-marijuana dispensaries authorized in 2009 and selected in 2011 from starting operations. But he thinks the real problem is the inconsistent policy of the president he endorsed in 2008.
Asked by Rolling Stone magazine what the result has been from the Obama administration moving to prevent states from carrying out laws allowing the distribution of medical pot, Chafee replied: “Utter chaos.” The governor has faced protests and legal threats since suspending Rhode Island’s dispensary program in May.
Chafee offered his take in a new article published online last week that reports on “a shocking about-face” by the administration, which in 2009 gave the green light on medical marijuana to states but last year launched a widespread crackdown involving the DEA, the DoJ, the ATF, the IRS and U.S. attorneys nationwide:
The sharpest and most surprising rebuke to the administration has come from centrist governors who are fed up with the war on medicinal pot. In November, Gregoire and Chafee issued a bipartisan petition to the DEA, asking the agency to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug, the same as cocaine and meth – one with a recognized medicinal value, despite its high potential for abuse. “It’s time to show compassion, and it’s time to show common sense,” says Gregoire. “We call on the federal government to end the confusion and the unsafe burden on patients.”
A petition by two sitting governors is historic – but it’s unlikely to shift federal policy. Last June, after a nine-year delay, the Obama administration denied a similar petition. An official at the Department of Health and Human Services left little hope for reclassification, reiterating the Bush-era position that there is “no accepted medical use for marijuana in the United States.”
The DEA says it’s reviewing the petition from Chafee and Gregoire, though it’s unclear when and how the agency will respond. For a longer look at the state of play for medical marijuana in Rhode Island, read David Scharfenberg’s January article in The Providence Phoenix.
On a meta note, this is the second time in recent months Chafee has provided a crucial soundbite to Rolling Stone political correspondent Tim Dickinson. The governor offered some choice words on Republican economic policies in the magazine last November.
November 10th, 2011 at 11:34 am by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes
Gov. Lincoln Chafee is a key witness for the prosecution in a lengthy new Rolling Stone article that argues Republicans have “abandoned the poor and the middle class to pursue their relentless agenda of tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent.”
The governor, who left the GOP in 2007, explicitly blames the party’s 2000s-era leadership for the stagnant economic growth that’s taken place in the wake of the global financial crisis.
“The Republican Party went on a tax-cutting rampage and a spending spree,” Chafee says in the Nov. 24 edition. “It tanked the economy.”
“The wreckage was left by Dick Cheney, Grover Norquist and the gang,” he later adds. “This was their doing.”
Chafee describes conversations he had with Cheney and then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott during the debate over the 2001 Bush tax cuts as what solidified his distaste for his party’s fiscal priorities.
March 3rd, 2011 at 11:03 pm by Ted Nesi under General Talk
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed and his colleague Carl Levin of Michigan have an op-ed in Friday’s Washington Post entitled “The surge Afghanistan still needs” – and no, they write, their support for President Obama’s policy there is not the result of military psy-ops:
A now-discredited report in Rolling Stone alleged that U.S. military officials in Afghanistan used inappropriate information operations techniques to try to persuade us, as well as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others, to support additional resources to train more Afghan troops.
The truth is, we have long argued that the best way to bring our troops home sooner while succeeding in Afghanistan is to build a stronger Afghan military and government. We’ve been making that case because the facts support it – which is why the president and the majority of the American people do, too.
We saw during a trip to Afghanistan in January that the United States, our Afghan allies and our NATO partners have made significant progress in reversing the momentum of the insurgents, seizing the initiative and helping Afghans secure their future.
Areas once closed to travel and commerce are open. Afghans’ confidence is growing, and the country’s security forces increasingly are taking the lead in operations.
While we’ve begun to turn around the once-daunting dynamic in Afghanistan, there is no guarantee that our progress will continue or that our gains will be permanent. The phrase “fragile and reversible” could have been invented for Afghanistan.
Read the whole op-ed here. I also reported on what Reed and Levin learned during their visit to Afghanistan during my trip to Washington in January.
February 24th, 2011 at 10:26 am by Ted Nesi under General Talk
Rolling Stone’s Michael Hastings, whose explosive story about Stanley McChrystal forced him to step down, has another bombshell investigative report – that a three-star general “illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in ‘psychological operations’ to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war.”
One of those senators was Rhode Island’s own Jack Reed, a senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee who has visited Afghanistan 11 times since the war there began a decade ago. Others included committee chairman Carl Levin, John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Al Franken.
Reed called for a full investigation of the allegations during a live appearance on MSNBC a few minutes ago.
“Charges of this nature are very serious and disturbing and they have to be fully investigated,” Reed said, though he emphasized that he listened to a range of voices, including diplomats and lower-ranking soldiers, on his visits and “didn’t feel anything unusual going on” when he was there.
“Having grown up as a young Army officer in the Vietnam era, I have an instinctual sort of notion that you have to look very carefully and weigh very carefully what anyone says – not suggesting any improprieties, but there are people with institutional stakes who need to protect their own positions,” Reed said.
The senator also used the opportunity to offer a reminder that he voted against the Iraq war, which he called a “strategic mistake” that drew attention away from Afghanistan and caused coalition forces to “lose a lot of ground” there. He also offered support for President Obama’s plan to begin withdrawing troops from the country this summer.