Christine Rousselle - Medical Marijuana Comes to Georgia
Posted: 4/18/2015 2:57:00 PM EST

On Thursday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed a law that legalizes the possession of a low-potency form of cannabis oil for medicinal uses. Patients suffering from cancer, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, mitochondrial disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, seizure disorders and sickle cell disease will now be allowed to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil with a doctor's permission. The law goes into effect immediately.

The bill was dubbed "Haleigh's Hope Act," after a five-year-old Georgian named Haleigh Cox, who suffers from a seizure disorder that used to cause hundreds of seizures a day that did not respond to conventional drugs. Haleigh's parents were told last year that marijuana may be effective in treating her illness, but that it was not able to be prescribed in Georgia. When Haleigh's parents were informed she may only have months to live, they packed up and moved to Colorado as a last-ditch effort to save their daughter's life. Since the move and subsequent regiment of cannabis oil treatments, she has far fewer seizures and has begun talking once again.

House Bill 1, which took effect immediately, makes it legal for people who suffer from cancer, sickle cell disease and other illnesses to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil if a physician signs off. The state estimates hundreds of thousands of residents could be eligible for the drug, and at least 17 Georgia families have had to temporarily move to places like Colorado where the cannabis oil is legal.

The oil cannot contain more than five percent THC, the compound that causes the "high" associated with smoking marijuana. The average THC content of marijuana is 13 percent.

Despite the law, significant hurdles remain for patients who want to be treated with cannabis oil. It is currently illegal on a federal level to possess the oil, and it is illegal to grow or purchase marijuana in Georgia.

Georgia must now set up a permitting system for physicians and patients in order to distribute and prescribe cannabis oil.

Cortney O'Brien - Legislators Reintroduce FIREARM Act to Expose ‘Race, Ethnicity’ Requirements for Gun Purchases
Posted: 4/18/2015 12:00:00 PM EST

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) currently requires potential gun owners to provide their race and ethnicity when purchasing a firearm. If gun retailers fail to enforce this law, the federal government can put them out of business.

Reps. Diane Black (R-TN) and Ted Poe (R-TX), two legislators who recognize and appreciate Americans’ right to bear arms, have reintroduced the Freedom From Intrusive Regulatory Enforcement of Arbitrary Registration Mandates Act in response to the ATF’s superfluous regulations.

“This requirement by the ATF is another example how this administration continually makes it harder for law-abiding citizens to possess firearms,” said Congressman Ted Poe. “Forcing citizens who are lawfully purchasing guns to disclose race and ethnicity with the threat of federal prosecution if they fail to disclose is completely unnecessary. Bottom line, if a law-abiding citizen is lawfully purchasing firearms, race and ethnicity are irrelevant. It is time to stop punishing those who are following the law.”

Black expounded on Poe’s statement, adding that it’s not just a gun owning issue, but a privacy concern.

“The government has no legitimate reason to collect this information in the first place. That is why my bill would ban the ATF from requiring Americans to list their race or ethnicity in order to purchase a firearm.”

Both the NRA and Gun Owners of America are applauding Black’s and Poe’s efforts. Here is an excerpt from a grateful letter GOA sent Rep. Black.

“It should be of interest to both conservatives and liberals that this law enforcement agency is snooping into the racial and ethnic identity of gun owners without just cause. Your legislation will protect gun buyers’ privacy, prevent the federal government from needlessly putting gun retailers out of business, and ultimately strengthen Americans’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”

So, how did the race and ethnicity requirement get passed in the first place? The answer is: quietly.

With little fanfare, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2012 amended its Form 4473 — the transactional record the government requires gun purchasers and sellers to fill out when buying a firearm — to identify buyers as either Hispanic, Latino or not. Then a buyer must check his or her race: Indian, Asian, black, Pacific Islander or white.

The Obama administration is not always so subtle in its disregard for the Second Amendment. In February, for instance, the ATF sought to ban the sale of AR-15 ammunition. Right now, members of Congress, like Diane Black and Ted Poe, are exposing the White House's gun control agenda loud and clear–and that is good news for gun owners.

Daniel Doherty - Panic Time: Rubio Edges Bush in New Florida Poll
Posted: 4/18/2015 9:00:00 AM EST

There are worse weeks to have when announcing a presidential bid.

A new poll conducted in the Sunshine State finds that Marco Rubio has a slight (if statistically insignificant) lead over perhaps his biggest rival in the hunt for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination: Jeb Bush.

Politico reports:

Sen. Marco Rubio’s splashy presidential-campaign announcement and his subsequent media blitz has likely helped him catch up with friend and former mentor Jeb Bush in their home state of Florida, according to a new poll of 400 registered Republican voters.

Rubio garnered 31 percent support from Republicans and essentially tied Bush’s 30 percent, according to a Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey conducted Tuesday through Thursday and shared exclusively with POLITICO. The other likely and announced presidential candidates polled in the single digits and 17 percent were undecided.

Rubio’s slight edge is statistically insignificant, in part, because it falls easily within the margin of error. But the poll is instructive nonetheless.

One of the greatest and most pressing concerns for Rubio before taking the plunge, I assume, was whether or not he could secure enough donors and supporters to lock up his home state—a state that he just so happens to share with establishment juggernaut Jeb Bush. If he can't win Florida, so the argument goes, he might as well sit this one out. So, of course, the skeptics urged Rubio stay in the Senate, defer to his mentor, and keep quiet presumably because Bush is unbeatable in Florida, and thus launching a presidential campaign undercutting him would inevitably go down in flames.

Ultimately, however, Rubio refused to back down.

“I've heard some suggest that I should step aside and wait my turn,” Rubio said earlier this week when announcing his presidential bid. “But I cannot. Because I believe our very identity as an exceptional nation is at stake, and I can make a difference as president.”

He has a compelling message that moves people to open their wallets—and their minds, too. Thus, as this poll seems to demonstrate, perhaps Rubio didn’t make a mistake after all giving up his Senate seat.

Perhaps—and this might be news to Team Bush and everyone else watching—the state of Florida is very much up for grabs.

Matt Vespa - Oh My: Some People Support A $50 Minimum Wage
Posted: 4/17/2015 6:30:00 PM EST

Dan Joseph is on a mission. Who supports a $50/hour minimum wage? What better place to put forward such a bold initiative than in the free speech zone on the sanctified grounds of George Mason University in Virginia.

Now, while Joseph was able to find a few supporters, some students on campus knew that raising the minimum wage will lead to job losses and increased pricing for some goods. One man called the law racist and he’s not the only one. The late economist Milton Freidman described minimum wage laws as the most anti-African-American law on the books, as he explained in his 1966 op-ed for Newsweek:

Does a merchant increase his sales by raising prices? Does higher pay of domestic servants induce more housewives to hire help? The situation is no different for other employers. The higher wage rate decreed by Congress for low-paid workers will raise the cost of the goods that these workers produce—and must discourage sales. It will also induce employers to replace such workers with other workers—either to do the same work or to produce machinery to do the same work or to produce machinery to do the work.

Some workers who already receive wages well above the legal minimum will benefit—because they will face less competition from the unskilled. That is why many unions are strong supporters of higher minimum-wage rates. Some employers and employees in places where wages are already high will benefit because they will face less competition from businessmen who might otherwise invest capital in areas that have large pools of unskilled labor. That is why Northern manufactures and unions, particularly in New England, are the principal sources of political pressure for higher legal minimum-wage rates.

The groups that will be hurt the most are the low-paid and the unskilled.

Women, teen-agers, Negroes and particularly Negro teen-agers, will be especially hard hit. I am convinced that the minimum-wage law is the most anti-Negro law on our statute books—in its effect not its intent. It is a tragic but undoubted legacy of the past—and one we must try to correct—that on the average Negroes have lower skills than whites. Similarly, teen-agers are less skilled than older workers. Both Negroes and teen-agers are only made worse off by discouraging employers from hiring them. On the-job training—the main route whereby the unskilled have become skilled—is thus denied them.

The shockingly high rate of unemployment among teen-age Negro boys is largely a result of the present Federal minimum-wage rate. And unemployment will be boosted still higher by the rise just enacted. Before 1956, unemployment among Negro boys aged 14 to 19 was around 8 to 11 per cent, about the same as among white boys. Within two years after the legal minimum was raised from 75 cents to $1 an hour in 1956, unemployment among Negro boys shot up to 24 per cent and among white boys to 14 per cent.

Nevertheless, Joseph was able to receive more signatures than any other video in which he tried to get folks to support insanely liberal policy initiatives.

Greg Hengler - Rubio Running
Posted: 4/17/2015 5:23:00 PM EST

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal:

Dennis Prager on Hillary Announcement. Michael Medved on Hillary announcing. Hugh Hewitt with Carly Fiorina on Hillary running. Bill Bennett with Steve Hayes on Rubio running. Hugh Hewitt with presidential candidate, Marco Rubio. Bill Bennett and Pete Wehner on social issues. Prager on Iran. Hewitt with John Bolton on Iran as it relates to Obama and Hillary. Prager on the Pope's climate change agenda.

Daniel Doherty - Feel Good Video Of The Day: Stranger Saves Man In Metro
Posted: 4/17/2015 5:00:00 PM EST

Let’s take a few moments to appreciate this wonderful act of courage and kindness. Weasel Zippers caught the video:

Have a nice weekend, everyone.

Leah Barkoukis - Friday Filibuster: The Battle for the White House Is On
Posted: 4/17/2015 3:51:00 PM EST

The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.

Closing Numbers

83% of Americans say Hillary being a woman "doesn't matter much" in getting their vote for president

20% of Millennials describe themselves as Libertarian

13.6% of likely voters in South Carolina would choose Gov. Scott Walker over all other GOP candidates for president.

70,000—the number of pages in the federal tax code

2- the number of years it’s been since the Boston Marathon Bombings

19—the number of senators on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who voted unanimously to approve legislation requiring President Obama to send a nuclear deal with Iran to Congress for review

6—the number of months Cuba hasn’t been involved in sponsoring terrorism, thus making it OK by Obama to take the country off the list

70,000—the amount of money MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry owes the IRS

300,000—the number of jobs the EPA could put on the chopping block

57% of Americans say Hillary Clinton will be the 45th president

72% of Democrats and Independents want to see a serious challenger on the left side of the aisle against Hillary

40% of congressional Democrats have already endorsed Hillary Clinton 

On the Left

Hillary Clinton officially jumped in the race on Sunday and it’s been an endless display of campaign fodder ever since, from the Scooby van, which she had in 2000 for her Senate race, to reporters desperately chasing said van,  to her already lying about her grandparents being immigrants, and tipping off the press about her "spontaneous" Chipotle visit. But as Guy points out in his analysis of her entrance into the race, she’s a vulnerable frontrunner. DNC members can’t name a single one of her accomplishments, the Clinton Foundation will continue receiving donations from foreign governments, and she still doesn't even have her positions on significant issues up yet and Not that it will matter, but former Rhode Island governor/former Senator/former Republican/former Independent Lincoln Chafee may also be running for the Democratic nomination.

On the Right

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio officially jumped in the race this week, and already took some shots at Hillary’s campaign launch; Ted Cruz joined in, saying Hillary Clinton is really no different than President Obama. Potential GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina noted that the presidency isn’t about gender, it’s about track records—we’ll see how that plays out in the coming months, however. Ben Carson will make a presidential announcement on May 4, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie proposed significant changes to major entitlement programs, perhaps a political Hail Mary? Unsurprisingly, Democrats are not pleased with the GOP crop of presidential candidates; Sen. Harry Reid thinks they’re all “losers” and DWS appears concerned that Rand Paul will “let women die.” 

The Bookshelf 

Ann Coulter has released the cover and title of her new book this week, which attacks "the immigration issue head-on." Editor of the Conservative Book Club sat down with Salem radio host Hugh Hewitt to talk about his new book "The Ten Commandments: Still The Best Moral Code." And Cortney O'Brien caught up with Christy Beam, author of the new book, "Miracles From Heaven: A Little Girl, Her Journey to Heaven, and Her Amazing Story of Healing,” to talk about her daughter's miraculous healing after falling 30 feet inside a hollow tree. 


Guy Benson - Reality Check: Yes, Hillary Will Be the Democratic Nominee
Posted: 4/17/2015 3:35:00 PM EST

Bloomberg's Mark Halperin says Hillary Clinton is "terrified of the Left," which may be partially true. She lost to an upstart Barack Obama who ran to her left in 2008, and the Democratic Party has taken a distinct lurch in that direction ever since. The Clintons are masters of triangulation and appealing to the center, but angering and alienating the lefty base is the only way Hillary could possibly imperil her clear path to the nomination:

This 'base' fear helps explain Hillary's decision to channel Elizabeth Warren in Iowa (coughcoughloud cough), and her brand new position on gay marriage.  Pandering and posturing aside, though, this is a woman who will be her party's nominee, barring an unforeseen political earthquake.  When I said that Hillary's announcement marked the "simultaneous commencement and conclusion" of the Democratic race, that wasn't just snark. She dwarfs the expected (or even potential) field in name recognition, she's unleashing a breathtaking fundraising juggernaut, and her polling lead over other potential candidates (including Joe Biden and Warren, neither of whom are likely to run) is nearly 50 percentage points.  Five-zero.  Team Hillary is so confident that they've reportedly discussed not participating in any primary debates, have begun considering running mates, and park in handicapped spaces with impunity.  Noah Rothman notes that even those Democrats who've dared to challenge Hillary are pulling punches and going nowhere.  I discussed the Hillary coronation on Fox News this afternoon:

Bonus content -- Here's my segment from yesterday, responding to Harry Reid's latest smear job:

Regardless of what happens in the 2016 elections, Harry Reid will no longer sit in the United States Senate when the dust settles.  Since it's almost the weekend, I'll raise a glass to that.

Katie Pavlich - Beretta to Tim McGraw Last Year: No You Can't Use Our Name For Your Movie Character
Posted: 4/17/2015 2:30:00 PM EST

Country music singer and actor Tim McGraw, who is currently on his "Shotgun Rider" tour, is in hot water and being slammed as a hypocrite this week for headlining an upcoming concert for Sandy Hook Promise, a gun control advocacy group. McGraw is defending his decision to participate but fellow singer Bill Currington, who was scheduled to appear with McGraw at the event, has dropped out.

According to emails sent in 2014 between McGraw's talent representation and firearms company Beretta, an entertainment company working with the singer wanted to use the Beretta name for a character in one of McGraw's upcoming movies.

"Superstar country western singer-actor Tim McGraw's agent Brian Loucks at Creative Artists Agency is working with us to get our action picture set in Macao China in production this November. Tim will portray a former secret agent who teams with his long lost twin who we'd like to name BERETTA," an email to Beretta from Harlequin Entertainment states. "We have several private Chinese investors along with an American real estate developer who are prepared to fund the picture. We have the greatest respect for the Beretta name and company (and) are thrilled to see it move to another state that recognizes and validates the Constitution. The screenplay has been vetted by top agents at International Creative Management and Creative Artists Agency (#1 in the film industry). It is available in PDF format via the internet and it would be a great honor if you will read it before making any decision. This picture could launch Tim as an American James Bond."

Beretta declined the request.

"After careful consideration," an email from Beretta states. "We have decided not to authorize use of our name for this movie."

Matt Vespa - A Student Wanted A Conversation On Religious Freedom; She Got A Petition Against Her Instead
Posted: 4/17/2015 2:15:00 PM EST

Nothing says tolerance than being called the C-word for supporting religious freedom, or having a student-led petition started to have your banner removed at your respective school. That’s exactly what happened to Lindsey Kolb, a senior student at Missouri State University in Springfield, after she voiced her opinions in support of religious freedom a few weeks ago. At the time, the city was debating whether to add sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) to its nondiscrimination statutes.  Some, like Lindsey, felt the religious exemption wasn't specific enough.

Yet, before we get into the liberal intolerance that was thrown at Kolb, let’s discuss a little more about the law’s aspects.

As the Springfield News-Leader reported, anyone found guilty of violating the ordinance would be served with a 180-day jail sentence and a $1,000 fine, though the city’s attorney said virtually all of these infractions would only result in a financial penalty. As for existing law, local columnists have come to the same scenario in question: bathrooms:

One thing that does change is that a business owner would not be able to preemptively kick someone out because the owner believes that person is a threat. As it stands now, if a business owner believes a person is in the "wrong" bathroom, the owner would have the right to tell the person to leave the business. With sexual orientation and gender identity protections in place, the person who is asked to leave would have the recourse to file a complaint with the Mayor's Commission on Human Rights.

As for the religious exemption [emphasis mine]:

One ordinance suggested by the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Task Force included a broad religious exemption. Basically, any business owner could deny service if he or she did so on religious terms. However, the version of the ordinance the city adopted only exempts strictly religious organizations.

For example, a church can deny employment to whomever it chooses, for any reason. A religious person, who owns a call center, shoe store, or any other such business, cannot.

And therein lies the controversy; a private business owner who is deeply religious would be forced to go against his own faith and beliefs. It’s the baker and the gay wedding cake scenario.

Kolb wrote an op-ed in the Standard on March 31, one week before the scheduled vote on the bill–in response to a satire piece that mocked Christians. Yet, it’s her final paragraph that struck at heart of the battles now raging over religious freedom laws:

My last point is to call for the entire community to engage in civil discourse regarding this topic. I ask you to consider both sides, read the bill, talk to your friends, talk to your family, do some research and come up with your own decision concerning your vote. Last week in The Standard, the attempt at making an argument for one side attempted to cease the conversation by using name-calling, making light of valuable political conversation and attacking one community with hopes that it will relieve tension on another community. This is not only unprofessional, unproductive and immature, but it is not held to the standards that our university has poured into our lives. Missouri State University is dedicated both to public affairs and creating educated persons. Let’s start having conversations now about important issues rather than turning to insulting tactics.

On April 7, the ordinance failed by a narrow margin.* Nevertheless, the “Get Kolb” campaign was up and running.

Kolb said that the vitriol aimed at her included people telling her that she should commit suicide, along with other attacks laced with profanity and misogynist language.

Kolb is former president of MSU's College Republicans chapter and the State Chairwoman for the Missouri Federation of College Republicans, as well as a university ambassador, which explains one petition urging the school to remove her banner hanging on Carrington Hall–the main administrative building on campus.

From the petition's description on, it says it doesn’t aim to make Kolb a “scapegoat,” though it also says its impetus was grounded in “the things Lindsey has said in the past.” It’s an ideological mess [emphasis mine]:

My goal here is not to make Lindsey a scapegoat for the way the vote turned out yesterday [April 7] or attack her religious rights or right to free speech. The goal is to create dialogue that induces change here on campus and in our city. Yes, last night's vote was disappointing, but the petition was not made because of the way things turned out, it was made because of the things Lindsey has said in the past that include the comments she made last night. I respect Lindsey's right to say what she believes just as much as I ask anyone to respect my right to voice my opinion, however when one is the representative for something larger than themselves, it is important that their opinions and values align with those of the entity they represent. Missouri State claims to value its Public Affairs mission pillars of Ethical Leadership, Cultural Competence, and Community Engagement and each year chooses one pillar to highlight. This year, the chosen pillar is Ethical Leadership. In GEP classes, students are assigned projects to define and identify ethical leaders in our world. At SOAR, new students do group activities that represent our Public Affairs mission and one that I specifically remember is the one in regards to Ethical Leadership. My SOAR [Student Orientation, Advisement and Registration] group found that an ethical leader is one who has their own set of values but can recognize when the greater good requires them to set those values aside.

Whenever Lindsey was approached in 2013 to be on the banner on Missouri State's most recognizable building, she agreed. Through that agreement she also vowed to live our Public Affairs mission and be culturally competent, engage in her community, and be an ethical leader. For Missouri State to continue to endorse her discriminatory views is effectively showing that they do not in fact value ethical leadership. The goal of the petition is not to attack free speech or victimize Lindsey. The goal is to show that there are consequences to one's speech whenever it is inflammatory and supports discrimination against those who the speaker represents.

Lindsey is not to blame for the loss for the LGBT+ community last night, but signing the petition can help change our campus and our city for the better.

This classic American progressivism; we support free speech, just our version of free speech. At least they note that Kolb isn’t to blame for the failure of the ordinance since she has zero skin in the political game in Springfield.

“Personally, I don’t vote in Springfield. I vote in my home district. I advocated for the repeal because I believe in religious freedom. I believe that churches, businesses, and organizations, and people with religious convictions should be able to decide whom they serve,” she said.

Well, she’s in the majority. Overall, while Americans generally support gay marriage rights, a AP/GFK poll found that 57 percent think that a wedding-related business should be allowed to refuse service to a gay couple if it violates their religious beliefs.

In a poll conducted by Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research on behalf of the Family Research Council, they found 81 percent of Americans believed government “should leave people free to follow their beliefs about marriage as they live their daily lives at work and in the way they run their businesses.”

Now, the poll’s sample was 800 registered voters. For a more accurate count, a polling sample of at least 1,000 would have been required, but it clearly shows–as does the AP/GFK poll– that Americans think there are certain things government should stay out of regarding how a business conducts itself.

A discussion of these results should happen,though it seems that can't happen without petitions being drafted or insults being hurled.

This is another example of Americans having lost the ability to have a conversation, which is ironically what Kolb was encouraging in her March 31 op-ed. Freedom of speech is a tough principle to honor; it forces you to tolerate opinions that one might find utterly repugnant. If there’s anything worth watching in The American President, it’s actor Michael Douglas nailing that concept.

Luckily, school administrators told Kolb that the banner would not be taken down, and admired her demeanor throughout this whole ordeal. Another petition was started in support of Lindsey as well. Missouri State University President also issued this statement earlier this month, noting that the public affairs mission isn’t a “weapon” to be used against those with contrarian opinions:

Missouri State’s public affairs mission is not a weapon to be wielded when we work or study with those who have different ideas, beliefs or values than our own. In the same way that discrimination will not be permitted at Missouri State, we will also not permit retaliation based on someone’s political or religious beliefs or advocacy efforts on this or any other political issue. Missouri State is committed to maintaining an environment that encourages people to speak openly. We do not behave as ethical leaders when we seek to stifle free expression or punish those who advocate for particular viewpoints. The free exchange of ideas, so long as it occurs civilly, adds to the diversity and depth of the Missouri State experience. That is true whether those ideas are very conservative, very liberal or anywhere in between.

Nevertheless, the #KeepLindseyOffCarrington hashtag and other insances of cyber-bullying have taken a toll on her. “I feel bullied because of this,” Kolb said to the Standard. “The people who started this petition did not personally know me (or) my convictions and completely took my beliefs out of context.”

At least Kolb has found allies in the administration.  Here's MSU's Dean of Students:

*Question 1 is the citywide ordinance.

Correction: It was originally reported that Kolb was the president of MSU's College Republicans and Vice Chair of the Missouri Federation of College Republicans. She's no longer vice chair of the Missouri Federation of College Republicans; she's now the chairwoman. And the election to select a new president for MSU's College Republicans chapter was held three weeks ago.  The post has been updated to reflect the changes.