S&P 500 closes at record high; states eye getting high on pot tax

Perhaps the wobbly legged economic recovery, which has been even too pokey to be monitored by sundials, has picked up speed and soon may be galloping along at a clippety-clop pace.

After all, aren’t you sick of feeling as if you’re hunkered over a $10 Philco radio in a Depression farmhouse?

I have been asking God to give me some clear sign that financial salvation is thisclose. Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.

Now deliverance could be at hand. The S&P 500 capped off the first quarter today by closing at a record high of 1569, erasing the previous mark set in October 2007.

The key index, a better reflection of the American economy than the Dow, which set its own record recently, has been flirting with the record for weeks but has been consistently beaten down by investors wary of the bailout circus in Cyprus.

Cyprus circus clowns be damned. We’re on a record high.

Speaking of highs, cash-strapped states are eyeing a pot tax.

Legislators are seeing dollar signs in dime bags — with talk that a tax on marijuana could pump hundreds of millions or even billions into state budgets still reeling from the recession.

A cash influx like that could really, pardon me for this, light up the joint.

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SCOTUS taking it slow on gay marriage

The Supreme Court today began weighing the meaning of marriage, with several of justices — afflicted with buyer’s remorse — wondering if they just could throw the scale out the window for another day or, better yet, another decade.

The Court was treading more carefully than a platoon of soldiers tip-toeing through a minefield.

Justice Anthony Kennedy — likely the deciding vote — wondered whether the Court should have even heard the challenge to Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Kennedy also warned that it could be too soon to know what the social effects of same-sex marriage might be, saying that “we have five years of information to pose against 2,000 years of history.”

I, for one, am willing to take it fast on gay marriage.

There is a reason why God gave Adam a partner named Eve, not Elmer.

Sequestration a drop in the bucket unless FAA cuts cause planes to drop from the sky

OK, we all now are familiar with sequestration, which is a wimpy and stupid way to slice federal spending because our president and Congress didn’t have the brass you-know-what to target specific programs that deserve to be cut.

So they took the cowardly out and chose to cut a little bit from virtually every agency except for the prime budget busters, Medicare and Social Security.

Talk about having spines of taffy.

Granted, the sequester mandated only about a 5 percent cut, a paltry percentage compared to the much steeper cuts millions of Americans and thousands of businesses have had to make in recent years.

Yet there could be a stark cost to that 5 percent – a cost in lives.

Under orders to trim hundreds of millions of dollars from its budget, the FAA will close 149 air traffic control facilities at small airports around the country starting early next month.

That is crueler than pulling off a butterfly’s wings. It not only will snarl the nation’s skies but it will strip away an extra layer of safety during takeoffs and landings.

Pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers.

Sky pilot, how high can you fly? You’ll never, never, never reach the sky.

Excuse that little dose of hyperbole from The Animals’ hit single, but the impact on safety is real.

There is a reason why airports have terminals.

Obama and Netanyahu suddenly closer than Lindsey Vonn and Tiger Woods

So what’s with the new love affair blossoming between Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama in Tel Aviv?

Their hearts are skipping more beats than a heart murmur.

They used to be more hostile than rockers without drugs.

Now Netanyahu is gushing over Obama and Obama is promising extended financial assistance to make sure that “Israel can defend itself by itself against any threat.”

Obama also said the U.S. “will do whatever necessary to prevent Iran from getting the world’s worst weapons.”

Meanwhile, notorious war hawk Netanyahu suddenly wants to get cozy with the Palestinians, saying he is fully committed to negotiating a two-state solution.

I guess the order of the day was to bury all dread instead of the dead.

RNC calls for sweeping party reform

The presence of enlightenment is when you realize you have a problem and you have to fix it.

There is no disgrace in doing dumb things. People do dumb things. They ride grocery carts on the West Shore Bypass. They pet porcupines. They run the Republican Party into the ground.

But you gotta give the Republicans props.

They’re looking for answers on how to get their train wreck of a party back on the rails.

And they seem to being doing it a tad better than a guy looking for a dollar bill in a heavy fog or a hunting dog with no sense of smell sniffing for clues.

The GOP, which toppled into dissonance in 2012, wants to revitalize the party by 2016.

Granted, the Republicans have yeoman’s work ahead of them. They essentially have found that they need to change, well, everything.

That’s the gist of the Grow and Opportunity Project, a 100-page report outlining the Republican National Committee’s recommendations on how to resurrect the party.

RNC chairman Reince Priebus said the report makes it clear that “there’s no one reason we lost” the election.

“Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren’t inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; and our primary and debate process needed improvement,” he said.

Plus, their headliner was Mitt Romney but that was then and this is now.

Specifically, the party needs to make inroads with women, young voters and minorities — especially Hispanics.

The trick is prioritizing that many issues so the GOP resurrection game plan is not jumping here and there like balls in a lottery machine.

Take that North Korea! U.S. beefing up missile defense on West Coast

Freeways, earthquakes, leftover hippies and Lindsay Lohan have been the biggest threats to safety in California.

But North Korea’s improvement in long-range missile technology is spooking everybody but Korean restaurant owners on the West Coast.

Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel are so scared they’ve stopped making fun of Kim Jong Un for being shorter than a popsicle stick.

Once upon a time Arnold and Sly could have saved the day, but those guys are longer in the tooth than saber-toothed tigers snacking at the La Brea Tar Pits.

Consequently, new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced today that the U.S. is building up its missile-defense system on the West Coast in response to threats from North Korea.

Fourteen missile interceptors will be added in California and Alaska, a 50 percent increase from the current levels of 26 interceptors in Alaska and four in California.

In addition, the feds have hired Star Wars creator George Lucas to create an army of Darth Vader clones to fly starships 24/7 over California air space.

Is the new pope a conservative Catholic? Si

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires now is Pope Francis I, the first pontiff from the Americas and the first Jesuit (considered to be a scholarly order, the Mensa set of the Roman collar crowd).

Needless to say, even though he was the runner-up to Pope Benedict in 2005, Bergoglio was not the favorite in most papal brackets.

But apparently God and papal elections work in mysterious and mystical ways … complete with first black and then white smoke if not mirrors.

God had better be on Francis’ side. Being pope today is not an angelic existence, even though he always wears white.

With the Roman Catholic church rocked by a tumultuous period of sex scandal, mismanagement and irrelevance reflected by a rising tide of secularism in Europe and western nations, it’s not surprising that the papal power shift tilted to South America, where the flock still is fertile and as reverent as a church organ sprinkled with holy water.

Granted, Francis is another golden oldie, checking in at ripe 76. And, of course, he opposes same-sex marriage, contraception and abortion. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be pope. Thou shalt not be a liberal is the 11th commandment that Moses apparently overlooked.

The pope’s primary job is to be a good shepherd, and reportedly Francis brings a strong pastoral sensibility to the church.

He may be a tad uncomfortable living in the opulence of the Vatican.

As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he rode the bus to work, did his own cooking and visited the poor in Argentine slums. Instead of living in an archbishop’s palace, he chose to live in a small room in a downtown Buenos Aires home.

His choice of name harkens back to St. Francis of Assisi, a 13th century friar who founded the Franciscan order and who was a man of simplicity and humility, as well as St. Francis Xavier, a 16th century priest who founded the Jesuit order.

It is speculated that his name selection was not in any way connected to Francis the Talking Mule who starred with Donald O’Connor in a string of 1950s movies.

The election of Pope Francis has resurfaced a decades-old controversy surrounding the kidnappings of two Jesuit priests.

Bergoglio was a high-ranking official in the Society of Jesus of Argentina when a military junta was installed in the South American country in 1976. Two priests were kidnapped that year by the navy and a 2005 lawsuit accused Bergoglio of unspecified involvement in the abductions.

Those who defend Bergoglio say there is no proof behind these claims and, on the contrary, they say the priest helped many dissidents escape during the military junta’s rule.

The sniff of scandal seems to waft like incense around church leaders these days, but apparently Francis has not been tainted by any sex scandal allegations.