Obama and state's rights


So how many angry pot smokers (and how many of my libertarian-leaning blog trolls) are going to love this? The governors of four western states want to take control of federal land inside their borders, and they're organizing to do it. Mostly a political stunt -- the governors want to allow more mining, ranching, and drilling on public lands, and the feds are taking it a bit more slowly. And nothing new -- we've had these western range wars for decades, and for decades Utah governors have insisted that the state ought to be making the decisions around the 66 percent of the total Utah land mass that's owned by Washington.

There's no doubt in my mind that the administration is doing the right thing by resisting -- you can't just take national parks and national forests and Bureau of Land Management land and turn it over to development-oriented states. Much of that was federal land before there were states. And it's not as if the Interior Department is all pristine about it -- there's already far too much resource development on public property, and the public doesn't get anywhere near enough money for it. Sometimes it's so bad it's nutty.

But Obama's got a problem, and it's called medical marijuana -- and he's doing the same dumb thing that presidents before him have done, and all it does is create allies for the far right. Hell, after the U.S. attorney started attacking dispensaries I was ready to seceed. Let's take California and walk; we're already the ninth largest economy in the world, and we pay far more in federal tax money than we get in federal benefits. The Sierra makes a pretty defensible permiter; who needs Washington?

Of course, I'm quite happy that Obama doesn't want to let the nuts in Arizona and Alabama get away with their racist and oppressive anti-immigrant laws and I'm happy to argue (in those cases) that immigration is a federal issues and that states shouldn't try to mess around with it.

Except that San Francisco is a sanctuary city, and we have our own policy, which is excellent and the feds should leave us alone. And when this city did same-sex marriage, in defiance of state law, that was one of the coolest things ever.

You see where I'm going here.

Both sides can raise this Constitutional stuff and argue state's rights and a long list of other things, and any good law school professor can spend years talking and writing about the historical and legal issues. There are some things that should be left to the states, and some things that the federal government should do, and that is always evolving.

But really, a lot of this is about policy. Legal pot is a good thing. So is same-sex marraige. Crackdowns on immigration are bad. Drilling and mining on public land are a problem, whether it's state land or federal land. Politics isn't perfect, and I'm willing to take our victories where we can get them.

But when the president is inconsistent (he's cracking down on medical marijuana in CA but not Colorado; he's against the Arizona/Alabama laws but still his ICE trying to mess with SF's Sanctuary City) and does things that make his allies and supporters (that's us potheads) mad at him, then it's easier for the governor of Utah to say the feds are on his land and should leave him alone. Just like the pot farms.