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Today in America’s Internal Colony


Taxation without Representation:

The developments capped a roller-coaster 24 hours in the worst possible way for advocates of the District’s marijuana measure.

Late Monday, congressional aides had floated the possibility that the spending deal would include a provision sought by conservative House Republicans to block the voter-approved measure.

By midday Tuesday, it appeared negotiators had found middle ground to legalize possession of marijuana but to allow no further action by D.C. officials to create a regulatry system for legal sales and taxation of the plant.

But many warned that the partial constraints might prove to be a worse outcome, potentially leading to chaos for lawmakers and police officers trying to rewrite and enforce city drug laws.

For conservatives, it’s always about keeping big government out of the lives of everyday people and allowing them to set their own decisions. Right? That’s what they say anyway and surely we should believe them.

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  • Steve LaBonne

    Be reasonable. Without being able to bust black teenagers for possession of small amounts of pot, it will be that much harder for cops to find excuses to put chokeholds on them or shoot them, and harder for the cops and press to smear their memories if they die. We have to have our priorities straight here.

    • SgtGymBunny

      Nor can the police use the the smell of weed as probable cause to do warrant-less searches. Big fuckin’ deal indeed…

      • runsinbackground

        Plus we can campaign on the fact that certain Republican congresspeople voted to make untaxed drug sales a safer proposition! Lawnorder that, bitches!

        • postmodulator

          I can’t say this often enough, apparently: Republicans don’t care if you catch them in a contradiction. Republican voters don’t care if their politicians are caught in a contradiction. It’s simply a nonissue.

          • Derelict

            It’s not a non-issue–it’s seen as a sign of strength and righteousness. Hence David Vitter can campaign on family values and strong moral character, then get busted for hiring a prostitute to engage his diaper fetish–and then STILL get re-elected on the same Christian family values platform.

            However, in the instant case, it is of a piece with the overall Republican philosophy: Get government OUT of the boardroom and INTO the bedroom.

          • Origami Isopod

            With the “liberal” media in their pockets, why should they care? It’ll just disappear down the memory hole, and nobody will care about it except eggheaded liberals.

      • Sly

        Nor can the police use the the smell of weed as probable cause to do warrant-less searches.

        Don’t forget asset confiscation.

    • Ahuitzotl

      Ferguson proves they dont need to find excuses

  • J. Otto Pohl

    Interesting use of the phrase internal colony. The term is usually associated with regards to the US with Robert Blauner who posited that Black Americans as a people were an internal colony. Later theorists applied the term to Latinos and others. But, Blauner and those following in his footsteps always theorized the existence of these internal colonies in terms of peoples not territories.

    Michael Hechter writing considerably later came up with a different theory of internal colonialism that was territorially based. Focusing on the Celtic periphery of the UK he posited that these territories were internal colonies that had been marginalized by the English core. This conception of internal colonialism has been considerably more popular than Blauner’s in recent decades. But, I have never seen it applied to the District of Columbia.

    Here is an article I wrote applying Blauner’s concept of internal colonialism to the USSR.


    • Linnaeus

      Not to speak for Erik, but I suspect he is using the term metaphorically.

      • postmodulator

        If you want to stretch the point of black Americans being treated as an internal colony, you could consider the demographics of the District.

        After all, I think we’d all agree that this plays into how Republicans feel about the place.

        • jamesjhare

          If those people would just vote the _right_ way they would matter. It’s only their insistence on voting for Democrats that makes them PNGs, not racial animus! Look at how they treat folks like Ben Carson.

        • SgtGymBunny

          Now if this were an enclave of good, god-fearin’, 92-brightness ‘Muricans trapped in a librul hell hole…

      • cpinva

        “Not to speak for Erik, but I suspect he is using the term metaphorically.”

        not speaking for him either, but i don’t think he is. based on previous comments he, and others, have made, he’s using it in a literal sense.

        which brings me to a point all too often ignored, when discussion of DC’s status comes up: DC only actually exists, as it is. otherwise, it doesn’t exist at all.

        created from the whole cloth of a parcel of swampy land donated by the state of MD, it was intended to have absolutely zero political influence of its own, serving only as the home of the federal gov’t, and those running the federal gov’t.. if the current citizens of DC wish to be able to vote for a congressperson or a senator, they have two viable options:

        1. move to a state.
        2. return DC to MD, and all become and vote as, MD citizens.

        no one’s forced to live in DC, people move there knowing they’ll lose their federal vote, people stay here, knowing they have no federal vote (except for president). it’s not like it’s been a well kept secret or anything. of course, the people complaining about their “lack of representation” always conveniently omit the fact that they only want “representation” on their terms: representatives and senators from DC, not MD.

        • Katya

          What? You’re full of it. First of all, moving is not as easy as you make it sound, and even for those of us with the means to do so, it involves some significant tradeoffs. What about the poor and the elderly? Where are 650,000 people supposed to move to and still stay within commuting distance of their jobs? Second, many of us would be just fine if the district was returned to Maryland, but it’s not up to us, is it? How is something out of my control a “viable option?” Third, when DC was created, basically no one lived here. Fourth, I’m a citizen and I pay federal taxes. (Personally, if I was exempt from taxation, I’d be okay with not voting. We’d be like Puerto Rico.) So shove it. I just really get tweaked when people casually dismiss the voting rights of over 600,000 citizens. You wouldn’t say that about any other group of Americans–“Well, if you really wanted to be able to vote, you’d just move.”

          • Origami Isopod

            Well said.

          • ScarsdaleVibe

            cpinva has been very slatepitch-y lately. Not sure if he/she has always been like that, or I’m only just noticing.

            Anyway, notice how it’s been going on 4 hours and they still haven’t returned to defend themselves. I always find that very amusing. *cue Monty Python* Run away! Run away!

          • ScarsdaleVibe

            (Personally, if I was exempt from taxation, I’d be okay with not voting. We’d be like Puerto Rico.)

            Shit, careful what you wish for. That’s the type of thing that would turn DC red overnight. Every glibertarian and Republican’t would swarm in, and the SE would finally be gentrified and look exactly like bland rich Georgetown and be full of rich conservative brodudes in luxury condos and million dollar townhouses, and the poor and black residents would be pushed out to VA and MD.

            And they’d consider it a public service. Because *those people* can’t be on the dole and not pay their taxes! They had no choice…

            • In other words, DC by 2025.

              • ScarsdaleVibe

                Fair point

            • Katya

              I’m not saying that’s what I want–I’d prefer to pay taxes AND vote. I’m just saying, I wouldn’t seethe at the injustice.

        • Derelict

          I think this misses the point by about the width of the Potomac. The District has a functioning city government, but that government is rendered utterly powerless to do much of anything for the people who live there. Their votes regarding ANYTHING are window dressing at best. It’s not that they want representation on THEIR terms; it’s that they HAVE representation within their own city government, and that representation is routinely ignored or overridden.

          • Katya

            That too. We can’t vote for Congress, but Congress gets a veto in our affairs. Bit of a one-way street, that.

        • sibusisodan

          no one’s forced to live in [the American colonies], people move there knowing they’ll lose their [Westminster] vote, people stay here, knowing they have no [Westminster] vote […]. it’s not like it’s been a well kept secret or anything. of course, the people complaining about their “lack of representation” always conveniently omit the fact that they only want “representation” on their terms: representatives and senators from [America], not [Britain].

          I don’t think I’ve tortured the flow of the argument too much?

          • Katya

            Nope, that’s pretty much it.

        • joe from Lowell

          What is this “stay” and “return” businesses?

          Hundreds of thousands of DC residents were born there. They don’t have anywhere to return to. You’re talking about the abandonment of their homes – and on a scale sufficient to provide for legitimate representation, a mass migration sufficient to eliminate the local culture that has grown up for generations there.

          Are you only thinking about the white areas in NW that are full of people from everywhere else?

          • ScarsdaleVibe

            Are you only thinking about the white areas in NW that are full of people from everywhere else?

            Probably. And frankly, that says it all about that comment.

            • Origami Isopod

              I hadn’t even picked up on that nuance. I thought everybody knew that DC was majority black. That brings a whole new level of asininity to the comment.

        • SgtGymBunny

          no one’s forced to live in DC, people move there knowing they’ll lose their federal vote,

          Well, no, but if you actually work in the District, it really would be nice to live there as well (which is basically the history of DC–somebody’s gotta work the Federal parcel of land, might as well live here as well). But I only say that as a Baltimore-DC commuter, so spitballs.

          • ScarsdaleVibe

            But I only say that as a Baltimore-DC commuter

            Shit! Don’t envy that commute.

        • Gayle Force

          The fuck?

          First off, moving is expensive. It would require insane commute times from MD or VA for people to get to their jobs in DC (and the longer the commute, the more expensive the metro ride is), to say nothing of the fact that there is a severe lack of affordable housing anywhere within the DC metro area, especially out of the city. You need a car to live outside of the city, too, which a lot of poor folks don’t have the luxury of buying.

          Second, who gives a great goddamn how DC was constituted originally? The system is unfair and undemocratic NOW (as were a lot of things constituted in those days. We’ve rectified many of them). There is a city life, a culture, a community here now. Stating that I and many other DC residents shouldn’t get representation just like every other American citizen without abandoning my job, my home, my friends, and my community is just flat-out monstrous.

          Plus, there are racial dimensions to this that should give anyone claiming DC folks don’t deserve a vote pause.

          • ScarsdaleVibe

            I lived in Ballston and it was very doable without a car. Many parts of Arlington are. But literally everywhere else outside of the District you need a car.

        • Congratulations. I think this might be more ridiculous than “Nurr, people living in the deep south should just move if it sucks so bad.”

        • ScarsdaleVibe

          return DC to MD, and all become and vote as, MD citizens.

          It’s not quite that simple. You can’t force a state to accept new territory, even if it formerly owned that territory. MD has to want to take DC back. The state might decide that they have enough issues of their own without sorting out DC’s.

          Probably more likely that MD takes DC back than Virginia takes West Virginia back (which is never happening), but I don’t see it going down anytime soon.

          • Katya

            No backsies?

        • ScarsdaleVibe

          1. move to a state

          I admittedly have zero sympathy for the yuppies and rich people who moved into million dollar homes in the District.

          But there are people whose families have lived there for generations. They’re supposed to just leave their homes? What about lower middle class and poor people? Even just plain middle class people. Uprooting yourself and moving, even just a few miles away, is very time consuming and expensive.

          Better yet, how about everyone who makes the city run (the real people who make the city run, like bus drivers) just move out? That makes sense.

    • Fosco

      Also not to speak for Erik, but he may be referencing Mark Plotkin, who was quoted widely on the subject yesterday:

      “This is nothing new,” said Mark Plotkin, a longtime figure in DC politics. “We are a colony. We are America’s colony and anytime they want to screw around with us, they can do such things.”

      • I hadn’t seen that, but I’m hardly the first person to say this.

    • Ronan

      What does the research say about Ireland’s relationship with England/Britain ? My impression is there has been a move away from viewing it as ‘colonial’ , which I think I’d agree with, but Im interested to know what detached experts in the area have to say (rather than those involved in the interminable nationalist/revisionist debate)
      I’d assume a lot depends, as well, on what timeframe we’re looking at ? The legitimacy of Ireland’s place in Britain (from Ireland’s vantage) seemed to vary from time to time, and was complicated by different types of conceptualisations of national governance (Home Rule, complete independence etc). Can you come to any firm conclusions considering the complexity of the history ?

    • DrDick

      It actually best describes Indian reservations.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        That was the argument of Matthew Snipp. The shortest rendition of his thesis is in the article below.

        SNIPP, MATTHEW 1986 ‘The Changing Political and Economic Status of the American Indians: From Captive Nations to Internal Colonies’,
        The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 145-157.

        • DrDick

          I know Matt and have read that, along with much of his work.

  • postmodulator

    I liked the Maryland rep who did it justifying it to the press: His chief argument was that Congress was legally allowed to do it. (There was some stuff in there about more study being needed, but I think most of us have cracked that code.)

    • jamesjhare

      Andy Harris only cares because it’s marijuana. He’s got a bug up his ass about the devil weed for some reason.

      • postmodulator

        Based on his date of birth, let’s go with “dumped by college girlfriend when she fell in love with a Deadhead.”

      • shpx.ohfu

        It’s a manifestation of his religious extremism.

        • Serious question: does the bible mention marijuana? Or any forms of getting high other than alcohol?

          • J. Otto Pohl

            There is a reference to Herb which the Rastafarians take to mean Marijuana.


            • Okay. That sure doesn’t read like god pushing prohibition.

          • Genesis 1:12 – And the earth brought forth grass, [and] herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed [was] in itself, after his kind: and God saw that [it was] good.

            Genesis 1:29 – And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which [is] upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which [is] the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

            Isaiah Chapter 18

            4 For so the LORD said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, [and] like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.

            5 For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away [and] cut down the branches.

            • Lee Rudolph

              And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed

              Man, if I had known that way back when, I’d have been all over God. Seeds, okay I guess, but what’s with all the stems, Dude?

  • Bitter Scribe

    I don’t understand, and never have, why “decriminalization” is supposed to be this big panacea. What good is “decriminalization” of marijuana if it’s still illegal to grow or sell?

    • postmodulator

      While decriminalization really is a stupid half-measure, possession of marijuana is the ex post facto rationalization for a lot of stop and frisks, and decriminalization should take that away.

    • Hogan

      It’s not supposed to be a big panacea; it’s supposed to be harm reduction in places where full legalization is politically not achievable.

      • Murc

        That always confuses me a bit. Most people I meet (anecdata! Always accurate, right?) seem to think that decriminalization is legalization. They seem confused when you tell them it doesn’t mean you can buy weed at the cigar shop.

        So I don’t get why it’s an easier political lift. I understand that it is, of course, that’s self-evident, but I fail to grasp why.

  • Todd

    Compromise reached after it was pointed out to Republicans than DC is no longer majority African-American.

  • Sly

    I remember when small-government, future candidate for President from the Libertarian Party Rep. Bob Barr pulled this shit with D.C.’s medical marijuana initiative back in ’99; attaching a rider to a D.C. appropriation forbidding the district from spending any money to count the votes.

    Like Buckley and segregation, he repudiated this position once no one gave a shit about him anymore.

  • Murc

    You know, if I were a Congressperson, I would literally rubber-stamp anything the district put in front of me, no matter how repugnant it was to my personal ideology. Absent folding the damn thing back into Maryland or statehood, that’s literally the least that you can do.

    (Within reason, of course. Congress, iirc, decides how much money to five the district, but I’d strive my utmost to simply give them the pot of cash and then let them work it our themselves.)

  • Cheerful

    Trying to parse out how this would play out. One could possess marijuana without fear from the police, DC cannot tax the sale or transfer, or make rules regarding who or who does not, but is that sale or transfer itself still illegal?

    What a bizarre thing for our federal legislators to accomplish. They seem to have a cootie theory of legislation – no federal approval of something they hate regardless of what it actually means for functional operation of the laws.

  • DrDick

    Actually, conservatives are only interested in keeping big government out of the lives of rich, white, heterosexual, Christian, male people and large corporations. Everybody else should be subject to the strictest possible scrutiny and regulation, along with frequent arbitrary interventions.

    • joe from Lowell


      The desire to keep the government out of the lives of rich, white, heterosexual, Christian males stems at least in part from the perception that having the government stick its nose in your business amounts to treating you like a member of the slave class.

    • Libertarians believe in libertarian rights, not human rights. This includes the right of libertarians to violate non libertarian’s rights.

      • DrDick

        Non-libertarians have no rights, you silly boy!

  • LF

    I’ll just note without comment that DC residents can’t contact Rep. Harris directly to voice their concerns about this. Because he only accepts emails from his own constituents.

    • But his office in D.C. is near a few Metro stations.

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