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December 20, 2014
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Ear to the Ground

Lawmakers Seek to Legalize Pot, Trump Sues Maher, and More

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Posted on Feb 4, 2013

Better Late Than Never: The U.S. Department of Justice is planning to file civil charges against Standard & Poor’s over its mortgage bond ratings before the 2008 financial crisis, marking the government’s first civil lawsuit against a credit ratings firm. Some states, including California, are expected to join the lawsuit. S&P acknowledged Monday that it had received a letter from the Justice Department informing it of the pending legal action. The company issued a statement denying any wrongdoing, saying the “DOJ would be wrong in contending that S&P ratings were motivated by commercial considerations and not issued in good faith.” (Read more)

Pot Push: An effort is under way in Washington to end the federal ban on marijuana, with two Democratic congressmen planning to introduce legislation Tuesday that would make the drug legal and taxable. Colorado Rep. Jared Polis’ measure calls for marijuana to be regulated the same as alcohol, while Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s bill would tax it. But Democratic lawmakers aren’t the only ones working on changing the nation’s drug laws—California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is expected to introduce his own legislation that would allow states to come up with their own pot policies. (Read more)

Unwelcome Change: Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan says he’s against a proposal in his state that would change the way electoral votes are awarded in the next presidential election, even though it could benefit his party. The former GOP vice presidential nominee says he likes the state’s all-or-nothing system. “I’ve always kind of liked the idea of being targeted as a state,” he told the Wisconsin State Journal. “I’d hate to be a flyover state. I’d like to be in the hunt for being a targeted state. I think it’s good for us.” Under the new proposal, Wisconsin would allocate its Electoral College votes by congressional district. Had that been the case in the 2012 election, Ryan and Mitt Romney would have collected half of the Badger State’s 10 Electoral College votes. (Read more)

Hindering Hagel: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans haven’t ruled out filibustering Chuck Hagel’s secretary of defense nomination. If the GOP follows through, that would mark the first time a Cabinet nominee has been defeated by such means. The former Nebraska senator’s performance last week before the Senate Armed Services Committee was widely panned, something McConnell noted to reporters in Kentucky. “Senator Hagel did not do a very good job. ... I think the opposition to him is intensifying,” McConnell said. “Whether that means he will end up having to achieve 60 votes or 51 is not clear yet.” (Read more)

Monkeying Around: Donald Trump has filed a $5 million lawsuit against Bill Maher for not paying up after the billionaire real estate mogul proved he wasn’t the product of a human and an ape having sex. Maher made the joke offer last month on “The Tonight Show,” telling Jay Leno that he would donate $5 million to a charity if Trump released his birth certificate and proved he wasn’t the “spawn of an orangutan.” Evidently, the Donald didn’t get that the “Real Time” host was just parodying Trump’s offer to President Obama ahead of the November election in which he promised a donation to the charity of Obama’s choice if he released his college records and passport application. Wisely, the president ignored Trump’s bid. (Read more)

Video of the Day: Joe Scarborough is the latest conservative to smack down the NRA over its claim that all children in the country should have the same level of protection as President Obama’s daughters. Sunday, it was Fox News host Chris Wallace bashing the organization for the “ridiculous” claim. On his MSNBC program “Morning Joe” on Monday, the former Republican congressman offered praise for Wallace while assailing the gun lobby group. “Chris Wallace really drilled down hard here—the argument. Seriously? That all of our children deserve the same amount of protection as the president of the United States’ children? That’s the problem with Wayne LaPierre and the extremist wing of the NRA’s arguments. They’re stupid arguments!”

 

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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