Thanksgiving is a time for reflection. Hopeful, bloviated thankfulness is in the air. As a Democrat, for example, I am incredibly grateful to the Republican Presidential Debate Club for designing that cute circular firing squad format. This nation of immigrants welcomes their wholehearted endorsement of Latino displacement and Syrian xenophobia. The math is so simple: We deport 11,000 illegal immigrants and we refuse entry to 2,000 immigrants fleeing genocide — 13,000 reasons to demonstrate America’s continued commitment to human rights.
I’m thankful for those Republican governors refusing Syrians entry to their states. I mean, after all, Lebanon, a country the same size as Oregon for Christ’s sake — four million citizens — has already absorbed over one million Syrians. Even Germany, with its reactionary history, has taken in nearly a million. WTF! How could our president possibly allow 2,000 of these victims into the U.S.? It’s probably because Obama is a wimpy sympathetic immigrant himself, having been born in Kenya or Hawaii or some other foreign country. Just ask Donald Trump.
I’m also thankful the Oregon Legislature dropped the ball on marijuana legalization and taxation when they met earlier this year. They could have cleared the air but chose instead to leave the whole debate in a hazy cloud. Thank goodness they let the Oregon Liquor Control Commission make the rules! At least now all of our vices can be controlled by one state agency. If you think Colorado and Washington had problems, wait until Oregon’s Legislature approaches state cannabinoid taxation and regulation in 2016. Will they give syntax to sin tax?
Finally, we should all give thanks to the UO law school for remaining open for business. You heard it here first: We are going to need more lawyers! Did I mention that the Oregon legislative branch and executive branch just released 70 pages of new state rules governing recreational marijuana use? As a public service, and after my rigorous preliminary analysis, I offer you, faithful readers, the following observations:
• Oregon students will be required to register to vote in order to legally consume recreational marijuana. That’s right, if you test positive for cannibanoids, you must vote. Conversely, if you test negative for cannibanoids, you don’t have to vote. (But you should probably find a better drug dealer.)
• It is still illegal to toke and drive! Remember: Telling the arresting officer that you had to toke and drive because you were too stoned to walk is probably not going to work as a legal strategy.
• You can only get stoned in private. If you get stoned with a friend, then that’s a “public” occurrence and you will be placed in a holding cell with a TV showing a looped replay of all the 2015 Republican presidential debates without commercials.
OK, now you know what I know about the new laws. Holy shit, Batman, how many bong hits will it take the Court of Appeals to kick it up to Oregon’s highest court, the Supremes? We’ll definitely need more lawyers.
2016 should be a great year for Oregon politics. The general election is less than one year away. The primary election is less than six months away. It is being held on May 17 next year to honor the birth date of Dennis Hopper, the Ayatollah Khomeini and me. (Dennis will be 80, I’ll be 67, and the Ayatollah would have been 116, but he’s not.) Scariest of all, the Oregon Legislature will convene for just 67 days. Everything that didn’t get settled in 2015 will be up for grabs — a revenue shortfall amidst a kicker rebate for Oregon’s wealthiest, college tuition increases, a minimum wage increase and a badly needed state transportation plan.
And don’t forget about the potential initiatives that could be on next November’s ballot: two competing minimum wage measures, a so-called “right-to-work” initiative that would weaken public sector unions by allowing workers to “opt out” of union dues, and a measure by Our Oregon — a statewide coalition of educators, seniors, parents and people who care for needy citizens — to raise taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals. And there is even a ballot measure which would make English the “official language” of Oregon and require employers to verify the immigration status of their workers. If that passes I’ll probably need to send for a copy of my Irish birth certificate. But I’ll do anything to keep Donald Trump and his supporters feeling safe and happy. Stay tuned.