Morning Briefing: July 13, 2011

The federal government should legalize and tax marijuana and internet gambling to help reduce the nation’s debt, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today. Based on a 2005 Harvard study, the government could raise $2.4 billion a year by legalizing and taxing marijuana. Doing the same for internet gambling, Polis said, could raise $42 billion a year.

The AARP has launched a mutli-million-dollar TV ad campaign pressuring members of Congress to avoid cutting funds from Medicare and Social Security. Florida AARP leaders, meanwhile, are traveling to Washington today to meet with members of Congress and both of the state’s senators to urge them to protect the programs from “devastating cuts.”

News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch is considering selling off his British newspaper division implicated in hacking as a way to extract himself from the explosive scandal and save his company. Murdoch has reportedly quietly shopped the News International group to potential buyers, so far with no luck.

Libyan president Moammar Qaddafi “is sending fresh signals through emissaries that he is ready to discuss stepping down, Western diplomats said Tuesday,” while intelligence reports show the country’s military weakening. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Qaddafi “sending messengers everywhere” across the globe to discuss stepping down.


Democrat Janice Hahn won yesterday’s special election in California, defeating self-funded businessman Craig Huey by a healthy margin. Hahn, a Los Angeles city councilwoman, will assume the seat vacated by Rep. Jane Harman (D).

Yesterday, six “real” Democrats easily won primary elections in the first of Wisconsin’s recall elections, which were prompted by the state’s contentious anti-union bill. They defeated six “fake Democrat” protest candidates that were supported by the GOP in an effort to sabotage the recall effort.

Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX) rebuked remarks by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) that he would support anything “short of shooting” to stop illegal immigration. “Rhetoric referencing acts of violence has no place in the discussion for realistic solutions to our country’s immigration problems,” said Gonzalez, who is also the head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

And finally: While many conservatives made hay of health conscious First Lady Michelle Obama’s ordering a high-calorie meal at Shake Shack the other day, “several top nutrition experts” are “salut[ing]” Obama for her occasional burger splurge. “A healthy lifestyle is all about balance and inclusion, not deprivation and misery,” a nutritional author told USA Today.

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