Photo of the day

Pretty amazing gallery from World Press photo contest winners via Atlantic:

Nature, Third Prize, Stories—Now You See Me: Buffaloes at the drinking station. These photos combine a well-known natural phenomenon: the starry sky and portraits of wild animals not visible to the naked eye. The series needed very accurate planning, research and preparation as the photos were made with remote control, and no modification was possible while capturing the photos.

Bence Máté

Trump logic: opiate problem = crackdown on marijuana

Ugh, the stupid!!  From the Post:

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday that he expects states to be subject to “greater enforcement” of federal laws against marijuana use, a move that could undercut the growing number of jurisdictions moving to legalize the drug for recreational purposes.

Spicer, speaking at a White House press briefing, said that President Trump sees “a big difference” between use of marijuana for medical purposes and for recreational purposes.

“The president understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing, especially terminal diseases, and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them,” Spicer told reporters.

Spicer said that state’s allowance of marijuana for recreational purposes “ is something the Department of Justice, I think, will be further looking into.” …

In explaining the rationale of greater enforcement of federal marijuana laws, Spicer cited growing problems with other illicit drug use.

“I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people,” Spicer said. There is still a federal law that we need to abide by.” [emphasis mine]

No, no, no!!!  Marijuana is a gateway drug like salad is a gateway food.  Just because most illegal drug users start with marijuana does not mean a causal chain.  It’s like suggesting a nacho appetizer or a salad causes people to eat dinner.  It just comes first.

In a statement Thursday afternoon, the National Cannabis Industry Association took issue with that argument.

“Science has discredited the idea that marijuana serves as any kind of gateway drug, and the addiction and death rates associated with opioids simply do not occur in any way with cannabis,” said Aaron Smith, the organization’s executive director.

He’s right!  But, I’d argue this is somewhat flawed journalism.  How about having one of the actual scientists say that scientists have discredited the idea.  You know a bunch or readers will automatically discount anything from the National Cannabis Industry Association.  This is just lazy “both sides” reporting.  Even better, the journalist should use their own voice to make this point.  “Scientists have found no evidence to support the gateway hypothesis…”

Anyway, big picture.  If there’s anything that’s a stupid waste of federal resources, it’s cracking down on recreational marijuana use in states that have decided it should be legal.  The Feds know best, that’s the Republican mantra, right?

Not fooling anybody (except those who voted for him)

I got a perverse kick out of this NYT article yesterday written as if Donald Trump actually believed his campaign rhetoric about the social safety net:

Two days before Election Day, Donald J. Trump traveled to Sioux City, Iowa, and proclaimed that he was the protector of federal programs aimed at helping elderly and low-income Americans. It was Hillary Clinton, he said, who was an untrustworthy steward of the working class and who would slash vital benefits.

“I am going to protect and save your Social Security and your Medicare,” Mr. Trump said. “You made a deal a long time ago, a long time ago.” The pledge followed earlier promises to enact a new paid-maternity-leave benefit and not to make cuts to Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor.

When President Trump addresses Congress this Tuesday and follows the speech with a budget blueprint for the fiscal year that begins in October, his White House will finally address in concrete numbers one of his central contradictions: He campaigned as the populist protector of programs for the working class, yet he has pledged to control the budget deficit, cut spending and cut taxes.

Moreover, Mr. Trump has surrounded himself with traditional small-government conservatives bent on cutting back or eliminating many of the programs he has championed. Many of his aides and cabinet members have expressed views that are fundamentally opposed to those he campaigned on…

The disparity between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and his appointments has cheered many Republicans and left Democrats fearing that he will not only renege on his promises to protect the government’s largest entitlement programs but that he will also slash programs he did not mention on the campaign trail that offer food, housing and child care support for the poor.

Seriously, is anybody actually the least bit surprised.  Trump is clearly committed to this as he’s committed to the pro-life agenda.  That is, he knows what to say because it helps him win votes/support.  There’s basically zero evidence it’s anything more than that.  And anybody who thinks otherwise (or voted otherwise) has just been scammed.

In Evan Osnos’ fabulous profile of Trump last year, he identified Trump’s clearly held, core beliefs: nativism, isolationism, opposition to free trade, and authoritarianism.  And from what we’ve seen so far, it is clear as day that these are his guiding principles.  Everything else?  Electoral strategery.  And it’s truly transparent to any people paying half-attention or not willfully deluding themselves.

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