Comcast to Air First Television Ads for Medical Marijuana

The weed doctor is in ||| might not
have the most inspired name, but the website is set to make U.S.
television history
with the first medical marijuana-related TV ad
. The 1-minute
spot—slated to air on Massachusetts Comcast channels come
April—compares buying drugs illegally to buying sushi off the
street and urges potential patients to visit to
find pot prescribing physicians.

Jessie Quintero Johnson, a University of Massachusetts-Boston
health communication professor, viewed the ad positively. “This is
a great example of the producer of the ad trying to create an
association with credibility,” she told The Patriot

Medical marijuana is still relatively
new for Massachusetts
. Though voters approved it in 2012, state
regulators just issued
the first permits for medical marijuana dispensaries
late January 2014. The first of these dispensaries are expected to
open this summer or fall. 

In what is perhaps the first and only likable thing I’ve ever
heard about Comcast, CEO Jason Draizin said
the cable conglomerate was “happy to do business” with him, even as
other companies balked at the idea. Draizin bought 200
ads, which
will also air in New Jersey and the greater Chicago area
. A
Comcast spokeswoman said that the ads would only air between 10
p.m. and 5 a.m. on cable channels without children’s

from Hit & Run

Is Another Politically Motivated Delay of Obamacare On the Way?

Remember, Obamacare is


of the

. And there’s absolutely no messing with it. Unless you are
the Obama administration, and it’s an election year.

In The Hill, Elise Viebeck
 on the latest delay anticipated for the health
care legislation: 

The Obama administration is set to announce another major delay
in implementing the Affordable Care Act, easing election pressure
on Democrats.

As early as this week, according to two sources, the White House
will announce a new directive allowing insurers to continue
offering health plans that do not meet ObamaCare’s minimum coverage

The explanation for the delay is purely political. There’s not
even a pretense of a policy justification:

Prolonging the “keep your plan” fix will avoid another wave of
health policy cancellations otherwise expected this fall.

The cancellations would have created a firestorm for Democratic
candidates in the last, crucial weeks before Election Day.

The White House is intent on protecting its allies in the
Senate, where Democrats face a battle to keep control of the

Is there a sound legal basis for such a delay? If so, we’ve yet
to hear about it. 

This is the second tweak to the health law in less than a week.
Last Friday, presumably after noticing that many of the state-run
health insurance portals created under the law
aren’t working so well
, the administration announced that in
states with clunky exchanges, individuals who enroll in health
coverage outside those exchanges would still be eligible for the
law’s tax credits. 

That fix is also fairly clearly aimed at helping Democratic
allies in governor’s offices. From an AP

Although the new policy fix is available to any state,
Republican governors basically defaulted to federal control of
online sign-ups in their states. Those who stand to benefit the
most are Democratic governors who plunged ahead and ran into
problems. Some are facing sharp criticism at home, from both sides
of the political aisle.

This tweak is also of dubious legality — by which I mean,
the plain text of the law flatly prohibits it. Section 1401 of the
text of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says that
the law’s subsidies shall be available “through an Exchange
established by the State under Section 1311” of the law. The
administration has
already reinterpreted this section once
, changing it to mean an
exchange established by a state or the federal government. It is
now intent on ignoring the requirement that the subsidies be
offered through an exchange altogether. 

Both of these administrative edits follow the further delay of
the law’s employer mandate requirements that the administration

in February. (For the record,
it was also illegal

None of this was supposed to happen! At the end of December, as
Obamacare’s coverage provisions were about to kick in, Kathleen
Sebelius said that despite the rocky launch, things were working
smoothly with the law, and she did not any anticipate
any additional delays
. As is always the case with Obamacare,
everything’s working fine, until it isn’t. 

from Hit & Run

Josh Peterson: Verizon Reveals More About Federal Spying on Customers

updated its transparency report Monday to include orders issued by
the nation’s spy court. During the first six months of 2013, the
nation’s spy court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,
ordered Verizon between zero to 999 times to hand over content for
4,000 to 4,999 customer selectors. During that same time, the court
issued the company between zero to 999 “non-content” orders to hand
over information affecting zero to 999 customer selectors. Verizon
notes in its report the government uses the term “selector” to
refer to account identifiers, such as phone numbers. Josh Peterson
reports that Verizon released the data in response to loosened
government strictures on such disclosures, and the company called
on the government to do the same.

View this article.

from Hit & Run

A.M. Links: Putin Makes Statement on Situation in Ukraine, Western Republicans To Urge Court To Back Same-Sex Marriage, Obama To Release Budget Plan

  • In his first public statement since the Crimea crisis began
    Russian President
    Vladimir Putin
    said that Russia reserves the right to use “all
    means” to protect the interests of citizens living in eastern
    Ukraine. Putin added that “nationalists” and “anti-semites” are in
    the streets of Kiev.
  • The head of Egypt’s armed forces, Field Marshal
    Abdul Fattah al-Sisi
    , says that he cannot ignores call for him
    to run for president.
  • Republicans from Western states are expected to urge the U.S.
    Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver to rule bans on

    gay marriage
    unconstitutional today.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
    has urged the Obama administration to insist that
    Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
  • President Obama is set to release his 2015 budget plan today.
    According to the White House, the budget proposal will include a

    $60 billion expansion
    of the Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • An immigration reform group linked to Facebook CEO Mark
    Zuckerberg has
    criticized Republicans
    for not doing enough to work towards
    changing immigration policy.

 Follow us on Facebook and Twitter,
and don’t forget to
 for Reason’s daily updates for more

from Hit & Run

Read Reason’s Complete March 2014 Issue

Reason March 2014Our entire March
issue is now available online. Don’t miss: Peter Huber on
overcoming 20th-century medical regulations to allow 21st-century
cures; Stanton Peele on the cultural basis for the debate about sex
addiction; John Hood on the success of free-market principles on
the state level; Greg Beato on a revolution in online higher
education; Matt Welch on the failure of drug warrior arguments;
plus our complete Citings and Briefly Noted sections, the Artifact,
and much more.

Click here to read
Reason’s complete March 2014 issue.

from Hit & Run

Brickbat: Close Enough for Police Work

Cody Lee Williams
spent 35 days in a Clay County, Florida, jail after being arrested
on sex
assault charges
. Williams knew he hadn’t committed any crime
and didn’t know the girl who had accused him. While looking over
documents in court, however, he discovered the person who was
supposed to have been arrested was a boy who attended the same high
school he did, Cody Raymond Williams. He alerted his mother, who
convinced a deputy to show the girl a picture of her son. The girl
said he wasn’t the one who assaulted her. Three deputies involved
in Cody Lee Williams’ arrest and incarceration were given
counseling. Deputy Johnny Hawkins was suspended for 10 days without
pay and transferred from the investigative division.

from Hit & Run

Matthew Feeney Discusses Paul Ryan’s Comments on Anti-Poverty Spending at 10:30pm ET

Later this evening I will be discussing a House
Budget Committee report promoted by Chairman 
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.)
 on The David Webb Show. Rep. Ryan said
the following in a
on the report:

For too long, we have measured compassion by how much we spend
instead of how many people get out of poverty. We need to take a
hard look at what the federal government is doing and ask, “Is this

Head over to
Reason 24/7
for news on wages and income, and click here to read more from on poverty.

from Hit & Run

Tonight on The Independents: Ukraine, Oscars, Pot Commercials, Bone Marrow Transplants, My Brother’s Keeper, De Blasio’s Attacks on Charter Schools, and a Mournful After-Show Featuring the Deceased Lysander Spooner

Tonight’s live episode of The
(Fox Business Network 9 pm ET, 6 pm PT;
repeats three hours later) will start off with an extended look at
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and what that says
about American politics and political discourse (in addition to
actual, um, Ukrainians). Joining in that effort will be
on-the-ground reporter Jared Morgan in Kiev, former CIA
dude Buck
 from The Blaze, and tonight’s Party
Panel of Sun Sentinel columnist and “GOP/Republican
strategist” Noelle
and “Democratic/Liberal pundit” Steve Leser

Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Jeff Rowes will be on to
I.J.’s work
in trying to legalize compensation
for bone marrow transplants
. Kmele Foster will give the what-for
to President Barack Obama’s “My
Brother’s Keeper
” initiative. New York Mayor Bill De
Blasio will get a rhetorical shiv or two in the ribs for his
decision to start
croaking Gotham charter schools
. The party panel will also be
back with post-game comments about last night’s Oscars.

Did I say Oscars? Here are two Oscar-related segments from
Friday’s show, featuring New York Post critic Kyle Smith and’s
own Kurt

The sexy after-show tonight will feature much wailing and
gnashing of teeth about the death of our beloved bullfrog,
Lysander. Make sure to send tweets to @IndependentsFBN, using
the hashtag #indFBN, and we’ll see you
at 9.

from Hit & Run

Rutgers Faculty Upset at Condoleezza Rice Invitation to Graduation —Will They Oppose Barack Obama’s Too?

smhThe faculty council at Rutgers University in New
Jersey is upset the school invited former Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice to deliver the commencement address in May, and to
receive an honorary doctorate, passing a resolution calling on the
university administration to rescind it.
The Star-Ledger reports

[T]he faculty council cited her war record and her
misleading of the public about the Iraq war as reasons for their

“Condoleezza Rice … played a prominent role in (the Bush)
administration’s effort to mislead the American people about the
presence of weapons of mass destruction,” according to the
resolution. And she “at the very least condoned the Bush
administration’s policy of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ such
as waterboarding,” it said.

“A Commencement speaker… should embody moral authority and
exemplary citizenship,” it continued, and “an honorary Doctor of
Laws degree should not honor someone who participated in a
political effort to circumvent the law.”

The measure was introduced by a chemistry professor who said
students were also concerned.

Misleading the American people? Participating in a political
effort to circumvent the law? Condoleezza Rice has a long career in
academia and policy making, and her life stories can certainly
provide some kind of inspiration and even direction for graduating
seniors, the role of a commencement speaker. Iraq was a major
policy blunder, one that cost the U.S., and Iraq, too much blood
and treasure. And the Bush White House, for whom Rice served, is
certainly guilty of a gross expansion of the powers of the
executive branch, including waterboarding and other potential war
crimes. Whether that precludes Rice from speaking to twenty-one
year olds being sent out to the real world after spending four to
six on a piece of paper isn’t necessarily obvious.

Being a hopeless pessimist, what does seem obvious to me is that
the faculty council is being driven not by any moral compass but by
partisan concerns. They can prove me wrong. New Jersey’s
congressional delegation
is lobbying for Barack Obama
to accept Rutgers’
 invitation to speak at the 2016 commencement. Will the
faculty condemn this invitation too? Obama, like Rice, and more so
as the head of the executive branch, is also responsible for Bush
and terror
misleading the American people
, and
attempting to circumvent the law
. Arguments that would support
Obama speaking to graduating seniors but not Rice are highly
unlikely to be intellectually rigorous or anything more than
partisan apologetics.

from Hit & Run

Rand Paul is Not an Isolationist

Last Friday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) released a statement on
the situation in Ukraine:

We live in an interconnected world and the United States has a
vital role in the stability of that world. The United States should
make it abundantly clear to Russia that we expect them to honor the
December 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which the U.S., Russia, and
the United Kingdom reaffirmed their commitment ‘to respect the
independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.’
Russia should also be reminded that stability and territorial
integrity go hand in hand with prosperity. Economic incentives
align against Russian military involvement in Ukraine. Russia,
which has begun to experience the benefits of expanded trade with
World Trade Organization accession, should think long and hard
about honoring their treaty obligations and fostering the stability
that creates prosperity for its citizens. Most importantly, Russian
intervention in Ukraine would be dangerous for both nations, and
for the rest of the world,” Sen. Paul said.

This sort of position is not good enough for neoconservatives,
some of whom are repeating familiar and inaccurate rhetoric
relating to Paul’s foreign policy positions.

Over at Commentary, Jonathan Tobin today referred to
 Tobin has previously associated Paul
“a growing chorus of isolationists.”
In a column for
The Washington Post published today,

Jennifer Rubin
refers to “the isolationist right,” and writes
that “no one has looked less able to lead America in dangerous
times than Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).” Rubin previously referred to
“isolationist vision”
in a column about intervention in Syria.
In a post for the American Enterprise Institute published in
October last year, Phillip Lohaus referred to Paul’s
“isolationist tendencies.”

Of course, Paul is not an isolationist. Wanting trade and
diplomatic relations with countries while opposing being overly
involved in their affairs does not make you an isolationist. Taken
to its extreme, an isolationist foreign policy results in a country
that looks much closer to North Korea than a country like
Switzerland, which in economically engaged with the world but is
known for being wary of military intervention. 

That Paul is not an isolationist has been point out before by
the Cato Institute’s
Justin Logan

Rand Paul, Rep. Justin Amash, and other skeptics of reckless
foreign wars and secret government spying on Americans aren’t
isolationists. They’re prudent conservatives who take the
Constitution seriously and rose to power amid the wreckage of the
George W. Bush administration, which destroyed the GOP advantage on
national security and provided a good example of how not to conduct
foreign policy.

There are some on the right who do understand the difference
between isolationism and non-interventionism.
National Review
correspondent Kevin Williamson writes
that those who advocate for non-military solutions to foreign
affairs justifiably protest against the use of the term

Paul has outlined his position on foreign policy before in a
speech at The Heritage Foundation last year. Watch below:

from Hit & Run