Not being a jerk does not equal “politically correct”

Been thinking a lot about Trump lately.  And, of course, political correctness.  Basically, I think Trump has figured out a great (and preposterous) strategy.  You know I hate bad language, but how can you say it other than Trump is just an asshole.  What he has figured out is that he can be an asshole all he wants and just say, “well, I may not be politically correct” etc., and he gets away with it.  His audience of rubes so hates the idea of political correctness, that they just listen to him say the meanest, most absurd things about people (e.g., Fiorina’s face, Megyn Kelly comments, etc.) and somehow it’s all okay because “he’s not being politically correct.”  Politically correct is many things (and I love Chait’s take), but what it is not, is the idea that you shouldn’t be an asshole.  That’s just basic decency and civility.  But somehow Trump has successfully fooled enough people into somehow thinking being a blowhard, insulting, asshole, is just “not being politically correct.”

In part, I think people are just so fed up with overly-cautious politics as usual that they love seeing somebody break the usual political norms and rules.  It is fun.  Yes, politicians should not be quite so cautious and rule-bound.  But that doesn’t mean they should be assholes.  But for now, that seems to be working out quite well for Trump.

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Marijuana reality

So, I had an interesting experience last night.  I was working up some powerpoints for a presentation today on marijuana policy (you can see them here, if you are curious– some good graphs) with the Republican debate in the background  and they started talking about marijuana legalization.  Props to Rand Paul, who really gets this issue, including the horrible racial disparities with how it is enforced).  Alas, I also had to hear about how horrible marijuana is and how its a gateway drug.  Of course, Republicans are basically pandering to a bunch of old white people who were raised when this was the demon weed.  It’s kind of amazing just how different the oldest Americans are on the issue:

FT_15.04.14_marijuanaGeneration

Anyway, it was kind of jarring to be looking at actual science/social science research on marijuana and hear the opposite conclusions coming from the candidates.  Among other sites I visited last night, this Rolling Stone piece is a nice list of some of the top misconceptions.  I found these two particularly useful:

4) Myth: Most pot smokers are heavy users

Fact: Between 40 and 50 percent of people who have tried marijuana report a lifetime total of fewer than 12 days of use. About one-third of pot smokers report having used mariajuana for 10 days or less in the past year. About 6 million of America’s 30 million users over the age of 12 use pot on a daily or almost-daily basis according to household survey data – a fifth of those who say they have used marijuana in the past year – but they account for about 80 percent of all marijuana consumed.

Sources: Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know

 

3) Myth: Marijuana is a ‘gateway’ drug

Fact: Kids who use marijuana are statistically more likely to go on to use other drugs, but that doesn’t mean marijuana use causes use of other drugs. The same factors driving marijuana use probably explain use of other drugs. A report by the Institute of Medicine found “no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.”

Sources: Institute of Medicine, Time, Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know

Not to say there are no issues/problems with legalizing marijuana for recreational use.  There are.  But that’s almost surely better than the status quo.  And it’s more reflective of what science actually has to tell us on the matter.

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