Meanwhile

A friend shared this on FB.  Not sure of the originator, but good stuff:

Here are eight things that you should be aware that have nothing to do with awards shows or college football —
1. Trump fires all Ambassadors and Special Envoys, ordering them out by inauguration day (this is unprecedented, by the way).
2. House brings back the Holman rule allowing them to reduce an individual civil service, SES positions, or political appointee’s salary to $1, effectively firing them by amendment to any piece of legislation. We now know why they wanted names and positions of people in Energy and State.
3. Senate schedules 6 simultaneous hearings on cabinet nominees and triple-books those hearings with Trump’s first press conference in months and an ACA budget vote, effectively preventing any concentrated coverage or protest.
4. House GOP expressly forbids the Congressional Budget Office from reporting or tracking ANY costs related to the repeal of the ACA.
5. Trump continues to throw the intelligence community under the bus to protect Putin, despite the growing mountain of evidence that the Russians deliberately interfered in our election.
6. Trump breaks a central campaign promise to make Mexico pay for the wall by asking Congress (in other words, us, the taxpayers) to pay for it.
7. Trump threatens Toyota over a new plant that was never coming to the US nor will take jobs out of the US.
8. House passes the REINS act, giving them veto power over any rules enacted by any federal agency or department–for example, FDA or EPA bans a drug or pesticide, Congress can overrule based on lobbyists not science. Industry thinks that workplace safety rule is expensive? Congress can kill it.
We – regardless of our politics – need to wake up to what is actually happening to our beloved country.

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Trumpism over ideology?

Nice piece from Seth Masket arguing that Republican politicians are putting party, in the form of support for Trump, ahead of core tenets of conservative ideology:

It’s no secret that our partisanship affects how we view the world. Political science has hundreds of findings supporting this conclusion. But many of us had assumed some sort of ceiling for this effect, a limit on what our partisanship could ask us to do or believe. The events of the past year, and particularly the past few months, have served as a test of this theory, and, so far, we haven’t found the limit.

The evidence is being provided by Republican Party leaders in their reactions to Donald Trump’s pronouncements. Political observers early in the 2016 election cycle broadly understood that Trump was not on board with many longstanding Republican policy stances, from Social Security to trade to military deployments…

This is part of what makes the Republicans’ embrace of Trump so striking. But it’s also the nature of his policy disagreements. It would be one thing if he were simply more moderate than most Republican leaders on some issues, or if he cared about some issue that the party usually ignores. But Trump is pushing against core Republican principles, and many Republicans are adjusting to meet him…

With the exception of a few years when George W. Bush was seeking to improve relations with Russia early in his term, Republicans have basically always been the more hawkish party, and have been willing to tarnish any Democrat even speaking about working with Russia as not having America’s best interests at heart…

Another core tenet of modern Republicanism, of course, is free-market capitalism. The best economic system, the party maintains, is one in which businesses can operate with minimal regulation and thus produce wealth and innovation that benefit everyone. Trump’s approach has literally been the opposite of that. To use the tax code and other tools to selectively bully and punish companies that exhibit undesirable but legal behavior, such as building plants in other countries, is many things, but it’s not free-market capitalism. But many Republican leaders have nonetheless enthusiastically backed Trump’s approach.

This is good stuff and makes important points, but I think Seth gets one thing wrong.  These are only rhetorically core tenets of the Republican Party.  When push comes to shove there’s basically one and half core tenets.  Tax cuts for rich people and less regulation for business (this one is more flexible, depending upon the business).  Now, if Trump was actually going to raise taxes on rich people, there’d be a 100% revolt.  But, his plan is for massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  And it’s clear, with Trump promising that, everything else is negotiable.  This is the core tenet of the Republican party.

Our marijuana policy stupidity

Great essay in the Post from Marie Myung-Ok Lee who writes of the wonderful benefits marijuana provides for her son’s severe autism– and the absurd difficulty of obtaining it for medical use in New York (and many other states).  The idea that this drug is still Schedule I is so, so appalling.  From the essay:

It took me awhile to perfect the cookie recipe. I experimented with ingredients: Blueberry, Strawberry, Sour Diesel, White Widow, Bubba Kush, AK-47 — all strains of cannabis, which I stored, mixed with glycerin, in meticulously labeled jars on a kitchen shelf. After the cookies finished baking, I’d taste a few crumbs and annotate the effects in a notebook. Often, I felt woozy. One variation put me to sleep. When I had convinced myself that a batch was okay, I’d give a cookie to my 9-year-old son.

At the time he was consumed by violent rages. He would bang his head, scream for hours and literally eat his shirts. At dinnertime, he threw his plates so forcefully that there was food stuck on the ceiling. He would punch and scratch himself and others, such that people would look at the red streaks on our bodies and ask us, gingerly, if we had cats.

But when I got the cookies right, he calmed down. His aggressions became less ferocious and less frequent. Mealtimes became less fraught. He was able to maintain enough self-composure that he even learned to ride a bike — despite every expert telling us it would never happen…

We tried all kinds of treatments, including applied behavior analysis (the supposed gold standard in autism therapy), occupational therapy, horse therapy and auditory integration. We even got him a session with Soma Mukhopadhyay, a celebrity in the autism world, whose Rapid Prompting Method has helped some people learn how to communicate by pointing instead of vocalizing. By the time he was 5, our son was in a special school and on a hypoallergenic diet. His gastroenterologist prescribed powerful anti-inflammatories, which left him vulnerable to violent episodes triggered by, say, hearing a dog bark 100 feet away, but stopped the worst head-banging: on our cast-iron tub…

Then, a couple of years later, the medication stopped working. And his aggressions exploded.

His school insisted he see a psychiatrist, who recommended the drug Risperdal to treat his “autistic irritability.” I was reluctant. Adults taking Risperdal often refer to it as a “chemical lobotomy.” In kids, there are also reports of alarming weight gain and sleepiness. Additionally, back then I could find only one studyon the medication’s use in children with autism. It tracked 49 children who took the drug for eight weeks to six months — hardly long term — and showed uneven results on behavior, with side effects including an average weight gain of six pounds in the eight-week period, elevated insulin levels and tremors. My husband said he’d rather our son attack us every day than suffer through that. But the school was calling us weekly, demanding that something change.

I was desperate and frantic. It seemed like we’d run out of options. Then I happened upon a paragraph in Michael Pollan’s “The Botany of Desire.” Pollan argued that cannabis is great for pain relief and can slow short-term memory formation. Might this, I wondered, help mitigate my son’s pain and the onslaught of sensory input that he struggled to process? …

For my son, not every strain of cannabis helped. When we did see positive effects, they were often accompanied by red eyes or an unwillingness to do anything (“couch lock,” it’s casually called). But eventually, we settled on White Russian, a favorite of cancer patients in pain, and we transitioned from cookies to an oil tincture that my son received orally every few hours with a dropper. (That allowed us to titrate the dosage and made it easier for the nurse to administer at school.) It left him clear-eyed and alert, without the constant pain-furrow in his brow or the off-the-wall rages.

It seemed like a miracle. And seven years later, it’s still working. But unlike with other wonder drugs, we can’t just pop into the pharmacy for refills.

Lee goes onto detail the incredible difficulty of obtaining the medicine her son so clearly benefits from.  Now, you know me, I like science and data over anecdotes.  But when we are talking about people’s lives, you sure want to at least let them try a substance that plenty of evidence– if not yet scientifically conclusive– will help.  It’s so hard to get decent studies with marijuana, though, because it is schedule I.  And it is hard to deny that the preponderance of evidence suggests that it really does help with certain medical conditions.  It may not be the panacea that some chalk it up to being, but it is insane that it so much more regulated than the literally poisonous alcohol or the literally destructive cocaine and opioids.

Oh, for some sanity here.  And, yes, it is an absurd, absurd waste of our criminal justice resources that this is illegal, but it is also an absurd, absurd shame that many people suffer who’d conditions could likely be alleviated by marijuana.

And, honestly, all the more upsetting when you realize the whole reason marijuana was criminalized in the first place was due to racism.

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