Daily Kos memberTHU DEC 25, 2014 AT 10:28 AM PST

Chief White House photographer Pete Souza posted a photo to Instagram today showing the president donning a tiara alongside a group of Girl Scouts from Tulsa, Oklahoma. The photo, from the annual White House Science Fair, was taken in May.What a delightful, sweet picture. This is a man very secure within himself. Humble with a good sense of humor. This is a man who's made up his mind to enjoy his final years in office and not give a rat's ass what anyone thinks.I love this comment from someone on Huffington Post:

Sometimes you see a photo and just know. This is a man with daughters. The kind of man who probably let his nails be polished and has had many a cup of imaginary tea, while in the company of teddy bears. I understand he plays basketball as well.It's predictable what the ugly, joyless responses from the right wingers will be. But, I'm not going to give a rat's ass. Haters gonna hate.

Congress made history yesterday. With a 56-40 bipartisan vote, the Senate approved a sweeping $1.1 trillion spending package that will keep keep the government running through the next fiscal year. But beyond avoiding another government shutdown, the billincludes an amendment that will effectively block the Department of Justice from arresting or prosecuting anyone who sells or uses medical marijuana in the 32 states that currently have some type of medical pot law on the books.

The so-called "cromnibus" bill — which still requires President Barack Obama's signature before it officially becomes the law of the land — will likely affect several pending federal criminal cases, and almost certainly make DEA raids of law-abiding dispensaries a thing of the past. The legislation also stands to derail civil asset forfeiture cases in California, where federal prosecutors have used the tactic in attempt to shutter dispensaries in the Bay Area and Orange County.

The new rules also contain protections for industrial hemp, the production of which has been legalized in 18 states and is being considered by more than a dozen others. Obama approved a law in February that sanctioned state-level industrial hemp production, but just three months later the DEA nevertheless seized a batch of hemp seeds in Kentucky.

Is Congress about to make weed in Washington, DC both legal and unregulated? Read more here.

"We applaud this Congress for doing the right thing by protecting the rights of patients, and ending a years-long attack on the medical marijuana community," Mike Liszewski, government affairs director with Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy organization, said in a statement. "By approving this measure, Congress is siding with the vast majority of Americans who are calling for a change in how we enforce our federal marijuana laws."

The weed amendment, first approved by the House in May, was co-sponsored by Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Reps. Rohrabacher (R-Calf.), Don Young (R-Alaska), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Paul Broun (R-Ga.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Steve Stockman (R-Texas), and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). The language specifically blocks the use of DOJ funds to "prevent [medical marijuana states] from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana." 

According to Americans for Safe Access, the Obama administration has spent roughly $300 million on enforcement in medical marijuana states since the president took office.

"The federal government will finally respect the decisions made by the majority of states that passed medical marijuana laws," Rep. Sam Farr told the Huffington Post following the Senate vote. "This is great day for common sense because now our federal dollars will be spent more wisely on prosecuting criminals and not sick patients."

If Obama signs the spending bill as expected, the DOJ de-funding measure is scheduled to remain in effect until the end of the current fiscal year, which falls on September 30, 2015. In the meantime, medical pot advocates are working to formalize the policy with standalone legislation. One proposal — HR 689, the "States' Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act" — would remove marijuana from the list of Schedule I controlled substances (where it currently sits alongside heroin, LSD, and other drugs with "no currently accepted medical use"), and allow funding for therapeutic research.

Native American tribes see profit — and pitfalls — in new legal weed rules. Read more here.

"This is a great day for patients and for public safety," Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, said in a statement. "Congress has finally listened to the vast majority of Americans who believe the federal government has no right to interfere in the personal decision to use medical marijuana made by a patient in consultation with his or her doctor."

The spending bill contains language that complicates marijuana legalization in Washington, DC, but the weed amendment does not affect the three states that have legalized recreational marijuana use and sales: Washington, Colorado, and, most recently, Oregon. 

Federal drug laws still stand in direct conflict with state laws that sanction marijuana use, and the DOJ — which oversees the DEA — will still be able to prosecute people for many types of marijuana-related crimes. The spending bill changes also fail to provide relief for medical marijuana business owners who are unable to use deposit their proceeds in banks due to current federal regulations.

"We're very encouraged to see Congress begin to take some legit steps to resolving the state and federal conflict with marijuana law," Erik Altieri, spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), told VICE News earlier this week. "There are issues that still need to be resolved with banking and taxation, but this at least shows they can come together in a bipartisan way and stop raiding state-approved medical marijuana."

VICE News reporter Colleen Curry contributed to this article.

Follow Keegan Hamilton on Twitter: @keegan_hamilton

Ian Reifowitz
Daily Kos member
                   When working people elect Republicans, they get screwed.

First, some data. In the recent midterm elections, a study by the Public Religion Research Institute found that white working-class voters—defined as those lacking a college degree, and whose jobs paid an hourly wage—voted for the Republican over the Democrat for Congress by a whopping margin of 61 percent to 26 percent.Got that? Good. Also, the "vast majority" of recipients of the Earned Income Tax Credit—and remember, that credit only goes to people who earn enough money that, without it, they'd be paying income taxes—are white, according to data collected by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Finally, the 2009 Obama stimulus package expanded the Child Tax Credit to make more working class families eligible. We don't have exact data on the racial composition of those who benefited from the expansion, but given that about half of families in poverty are white, we can extrapolate that somewhere around half of beneficiaries are white.

Still with me? Okay. Now check this out, from a New York Times article about a deal in the works that centers around making corporate tax cuts permanent:

The emerging tax legislation would make permanent 10 provisions, including an expanded research and development tax credit, which businesses and the Obama administration have wanted to make permanent for years; a measure allowing small businesses to deduct virtually any investment; the deduction for state and local sales taxes; the American Opportunity Tax Credit for college costs; deductions for employer-provided mass transit; and four different breaks for corporate and charitable giving.Smaller measures already passed by the Senate Finance Committee, from tax breaks for car-racing tracks to benefits for racehorse owners, would be extended for one year and retroactively renewed for the current tax year.

[snip] Left off were the two tax breaks valued most by liberal Democrats: a permanently expanded earned-income credit and a child tax credit for the working poor. Friday night, Republican negotiators announced they would exclude those measures as payback for the president’s executive order on immigration, saying a surge of newly legalized workers would claim the credit, tax aides from both parties said.

It's worth noting that the deal would also mean the expiration, in 2017, of tax credits that support the development of wind power because, oh noes, the oil and gas industry thinks they are unfair. Doesn't the oil and gas industry receive billions in tax breaks? Er, well, hey, look over there!The absurd hypocrisy of that aside, think for a second about how Republicans understand payback. President Obama does something Republicans don't like on immigration, and their idea of payback is to stick it to working-class Americans who have kids, most of whom—when we are talking about whites—just voted to make them the majority party in both the House and the Senate. At this point, the only thing standing in the way of the loss of those tax breaks for working Americans is President Obama. Oops.

I guess the lesson of the story is: be careful who you vote for. A better lesson of the story is: Republicans are boot-licking corporate sycophants who hate working families.