Chart of the day

Women in Congress by Party.  Nice Upshot article on it.


A root cause of the gap is that Democratic women who are potential congressional candidates tend to fit comfortably with the liberal ideology of their party’s primary voters, while many potential female Republican candidates do not adhere to the conservative ideology of their primary voters.

But it’s not just moderate Republican women who have been affected by the polarization of the parties. “If you look at the moderate men, they’re not there, either,” she said, and conservative Democrats in state legislatures also aren’t running for Congress.

Ms. Thomsen found that one in five Republican state legislators of either sex could be described as moderate, based on their voting history and donors, but moderates were not nearly as eager as conservatives to run for Congress.

“Conservative Republican men and women state legislators are equally likely to run for Congress, but women are outnumbered five to one,” Ms. Thomsen said…

The Republican women who have run in congressional primaries over the past 25 years have been as conservative as Republican men, according to astudy produced this year by Political Parity, a program that pushes for more women in Congress. (Ms. Thomsen and Ms. Shames both worked on the study). There simply have not been very many highly conservative female candidates, compared with men.

On the Democratic side, the situation is different. Female candidates for Congress were more liberal on average than their male counterparts, the study found, helping them do well in party primaries, which emphasize ideological purity.

Thus, don’t look for this to change anytime soon.  And, how about that slope for Democratic women!

Just because our current marijuana policies are really stupid doesn’t mean the opposite is good

Very nice piece by Michael Specter in the New Yorker about how we need to slow down and make sure we are approaching marijuana policies in a smart and considered manner.  Of course our current policies are a complete failure on many levels, but that doesn’t mean full-on legalization is a good thing (given that this is also the position endorsed by Mark Kleiman, that’s damn good reason to not go overboard):

It’s not that I think marijuana should remain illegal; based on the evidence from our stunningly ruinous war on drugs, smoking pot should be no crime. The Portuguese long ago abolished most penalties for personal drug use, a decision that has proved surprisingly successful in curbing crime and returning addicts to society. (A few years ago, I wrote about Portugal’s approach to drugs for this magazine.) Still, the opposite of inane laws ought not to be blind acceptance…

What do we know when we swallow a marijuana gummy bear? Is it like a hit of good pot? Is it like three? For that matter, is a hit of good pot like it was five decades, or five years ago? Or even five months ago? Nobody seems able to answer those basic questions.

“Right now, people don’t know,” Raphael Mechoulam, an emeritus professor at Hebrew University’s Hadassah Medical School, recently told National Geographic. Mechoulam has done much of the seminal work on the chemical composition of cannabis. “For it to work in the medical world, it has to be quantitative. If you can’t count it, it’s not science,” he said…

The joints I rolled as a teen-ager contained about one per cent THC by weight. By the early nineteen-eighties, that figure was four per cent. It’s now likely to be closer to twenty per cent. More than that, while occasional smoking seems relatively benign for most adults, there is clear evidence that exposure during adolescence can cause long-term changes in the brain.

I am not suggesting that we all dust off our copies of “Reefer Madness,” or that getting high is inherently wrong—as long as you know how high you are getting and what it is you are smoking. But we don’t. It is a strange country that is filled with people who object to life-saving vaccines, insist on labelling G.M.O.s, protest the use of pesticides that, when used correctly, have not been shown to cause harm, and yet seem ready to smoke whatever a dealer hands them to put in their pipes.

Sounds like what we really need is to definitely end marijuana use and possession as a crime, but to be very careful in how it is ultimately regulated.  I’ll sure take that over the status quo.

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