- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hey man, like it’s a bummer: There’s unintended collateral damage when marijuana is legalized for recreational use.

Legalization is “bad for the state’s wholesome image” according to a majority of registered Colorado voters. So says a new Quinnipiac University poll, which finds that 51 percent of the respondents agreed with the idea. Oh, but here’s a partisan divide. Almost three-fourths of the Republicans — 73 percent — felt the image had been sullied.

But 57 percent of Democrats say legalization is actually good for the state’s image.

It’s the same story in the under-30 crowd versus geezers: 57 percent of voters under 30 say it’s good, compared to 67 percent of those over 65 who say it’s bad. Consider that some of those may actually be aged hippies. But no matter.

“Slightly more than half of Coloradans say they’ve smoked marijuana at some time in their life, but only 10 percent admit to taking a legal toke since Jan. 1,” says Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute.

He adds that only 17 percent of Colorado voters say they would try marijuana brownies if someone brought them to a get-together, while 64 percent of voters say they would be “very uncomfortable” riding in a car with a driver who has smoked or consumed moderate amounts of marijuana.

The survey of 1,139 registered Colorado voters was conducted Jan. 29-Feb. 2. Incidentally, the poll found that overall, 58 percent of the voters actually approved of legalization. It’s the particulars that make them a little nervous.

THE MEDIA’S HILLARY OBSESSION

The news coverage of one Hillary Rodham Clinton inspires endless, prodigious prose from journalists; consider that she generated 124,000 press mentions or stories in the last 48 hours, according to a Google News count. Maybe it’s because there’s just so much material. Maybe it’s just tradition. But it is phenomenon.

A study released Tuesday by Mediaite.com gauging Hillary-centric coverage on Fox News, CNN and NBC from Feb. 3-9 found that the three networks devoted 80 segments to Mrs. Clinton last week, for a total of 173 minutes.

“All during a week in which Clinton, who does not currently hold office and has not announced her candidacy for an election almost three years away, said and did almost nothing,” says Evan McMurry, a columnist for the website.

CNN, which focused on Mrs. Clinton’s relationship with Vice President Joe Biden, was the most acutely interested, with 72 minutes. MSNBC, which dwelled upon “war on women” issues, logged 57 minutes; Fox, with coverage centered on Benghazi, accrued 44 minutes.

“If anything, this week, which saw the release of HRC by Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen, could be worse,” Mr. McMurry adds. “Eternal reminder: There are 1,001 days until the 2016 election.”

AND THOSE HILLARY HEADLINES

Yes, the White House derby is far, far away. But that notion doesn’t appear to dampen speculative press enthusiasm across the board. A few select Hillary headlines among the hundreds, then. This particular batch is all in the form of questions.:

“How will Hillary’s Monica rant play in 2016?” (Boston Herald), “Where is Monica Lewinsky?” (CNN), “6 Ways Hillary Clinton is her own worst enemy” (Time), “A fresh start for Hillary Clinton and liberals?” (ABC News), “Rand Paul vs. Hillary Clinton? The 2016 presidential election is likely to be radically transformational” (Forbes), “Did Karl Rove start a GOP civil war over Clinton attacks?” (Media Matters for America).

Note: Mr. Rove had advice for Sen. Rand Paul, no fan of Mrs. Clinton, or her husband. In an appearance on Fox News, Mr. Rove cautioned the Kentucky Republican: “I’m not certain that beating up on Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky is a particularly good thing to strengthen your skills,” Mr. Rove said.

CHRISTIE REJECTS THE QUAGMIRE

Is he getting his brusque, Tony Soprano groove back? Maybe. A simple comeback strategy has emerged from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, following the rigors of “Bridgegate,” internal reviews, official investigations and multiple subpoenas for his former staff members.

“The first thing that happens to you is extraordinary disappointment. But you only have a few minutes to wallow in that disappointment and then if you are a leader you have to try and get a handle on the story and take decisive action, which we did by letting people go and talking to the public about it,” Mr. Christie told 1,200 members of the Economic Club of Chicago during his visit to the Windy City on Tuesday.

“If there is more action that needs to be taken, I’ll take it,” he added.

Ah, but there’s much work to be done. Mr. Christie now trails Hillary Rodham Clinton by 21 percentage points in a theoretical presidential match-up, according to a McClatchy/Marist poll released Tuesday. Only four weeks ago, the governor was 13 points behind, and was still classified as the Republican Party’s greatest hope for 2016. But like most “scandals,” Mr. Christie’s traffic woes could have a relatively short shelf life as press and public lose interest — possibly to pay closer attention to Mrs. Clinton and newly revealed details about her past.

The poll is a cautionary tale for the Grand Old Party and its cast of indistinct characters. She currently leads all Republican contenders because the GOP field is “fractured” and “largely unknown,” suggests Marist Poll director Lee Miringoff. Voter preference may have little to do with her actual political and policy prowess at this point.

“People are a long way from forming voting choices,” Mr. Miringoff says.

NEWS STORY OF THE DAY

Nothing like fruit and firearms. This account hails from the great state of Texas, courtesy of KBMT, a local NBC affiliate in Houston:

“A Beaumont man was cited by police after riling up motorists by standing at an intersection carrying an AK-47, while dressed as a banana.

Derek Poe, owner of Golden Triangle Tactical gun shop, said the stunt was part of the store’s grand opening after moving locations. Mr. Poe said the man in the banana suit was holding an AK-47 across his back with the barrel pointing down and holding a sign with an arrow pointing toward the store.

He said this idea was to attract customers to the store.

A Beaumont police spokesperson said officers temporarily detained the 18-year-old and found he had the rifle with a drum magazine attached with at least a 50-round capacity.

The spokesperson said the teen was cited for violating a city ordinance that prohibits soliciting in and alongside roadways.”

POLL DU JOUR

77 percent of Americans support meetings between the U.S. and Cuban governments on mutual concerns like drug trafficking and smuggling.

62 percent of Americans support allowing more American companies to do business in Cuba.

61 percent of Americans support removing travel restriction to Cuba by U.S. citizens.

61 percent would support sending a special envoy to Cuba.

56 percent of Americans favor normalizing U.S. relations with Cuba; 35 percent oppose the idea.

52 percent do not think that Cuba poses the same “threats” as Sudan, Syria and Iran.

Source: An Atlantic Council survey of 1,024 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 7-15 and released Tuesday.

Rumors, reactions, rumination to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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