Liddick: What’s the matter with California? (column)
March 12, 2018
California is a state with…issues.
Consider the headlines from any of a dozen newspapers in the state last Thursday: "White House Brings its Sanctuary Law War Here," referring to the Department of Justice's suit against the state for passing laws which boil down to: "we don't care about federal law and we will do everything we can to prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement doing its duty." This has the feel of a spoiled child blaming parents for its own transgressions — "look at what you made us do" — and is similar to unsavory episodes past in which states decide they were so special that federal laws did not apply to them.
Let's hope that this time the situation is halted before Governor Jerry Brown finds himself reprising the role of Orville Faubus or George Wallace, famously shouting that federal writ did not run as far as the schoolhouses of Arkansas and Alabama. They were wrong then, and Governor Brown and state AG Xavier Becerra are wrong now.
California law prohibits employers cooperating with the federal government to determine if their workers are lawfully employed. It forbids local law enforcement working with ICE to identify detained illegal residents with serious criminal records, or from notifying ICE if a local or state entity plans to release such a criminal alien. The California Secretary of State's website says one can register to vote without any traditional identification such as a driving license, social security number or other state identity card. The mayor of Oakland warned residents on at least two occasions that ICE raids were imminent. All of which obstruct justice to a degree Donald Trump couldn't even imagine.
So a lawsuit was the entirely predictable result of the state's bad behavior; arrests of local officials whose vigorous noncooperation was widely covered may also be in the offing. And since many who may be thus discomfited cheered when Arizona was reminded by the Supreme Court that immigration is a federal, not state, matter they will only be reaping their due.
Then there's weed.
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California is now among the states who thumb their noses at the federal government on the question of what constitutes a schedule 1 drug, the use, possession or sale of which is a real no-no. Think what one will of the advisability of prohibition, it is still federal law despite what Jerry Brown or John Hickenlooper might say. But in California there is a more serious issue among those jonesing for a joint: various parts of the state bureaucracy are at war with each other over the process of regulating this potentially multi-billion-dollar industry.
How does one find a pot shop in the Peoples' Paradise on the Pacific? There are several online apps and other wayfinding tools, but recently the largest and most comprehensive, "Weedmaps," was warned by state oversight agencies to cease listing unlicensed pot shops, or face both civil and criminal charges. Unfortunately for Golden Stateniks, three months after marijuana became legal more than ninety percent of its pot emporia are unlicensed.
The regulatory apparatus not only grinds very slowly in California, it is frightfully expensive. The tab for a pot shop to go through the business license process can be millions of dollars according to one industry attorney who is also part-owner of two such licensed establishments. And yes, connections and knowledge unavailable to the average proprietor of a startup tokeup station help get the ball rolling. The result is exactly what one might expect: a flourishing gray market that deals in untested products and diverts anticipated revenue from state coffers to who- knows-whose pockets. Add the welter of local laws and one has a regulatory regime with charts and illustrations worthy of Jackson Pollock.
These confusions illustrate what happens when a people's heads and hearts are not on speaking terms and the latter has control of the apparatus of government: in the case of marijuana regulation, disconnects and chaos worthy of Cheech and Chong, but without the laugh track. In the case of willful denial of the supremacy clause of the Constitution in order to protect criminal aliens, precipitation of perhaps the worst federal crisis since President Eisenhower nationalized the Arkansas National Guard in 1957. Individual Califorñanos will pay the price for both, and the state as a whole will suffer for the political posturing and vote-grubbing of its leaders. And as the headlines over Attorney General Sessions' visit clearly show, they will blame everyone but the person in the mirror for their woes, refusal to accept responsibility for the consequences of one's actions being a fundamental characteristic of the Progressive mind. But eventually there will be nowhere else to turn, and no-one else to blame.
And California's spoiled children will face some unpleasant choices.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News.
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