One drug (chart) to rule them all

Damn I love this chart from Wonkblog that so perfectly summarizes the vast absurdity of our drug policies:

Two brief observations.  Had no idea that Ecstasy was so low on potential harm.  And somewhat surprised that Buprenorphine is as high as it is.  At least we get heroin and cocaine right.


When the bar is below the ground (stable genius at work)

So, Trump had a big show of a meeting on immigration with Congressional leaders.  And you know what he did?  He talked in complete sentences.  He accurately stated the names of people that were on placards in front of him!  Take that, those of you questioning dear leaders’s mental acuity!  Now that is like, a really, really smart, stable genius at work.  Oh, he also showed so much command of his signature policy issue that he accidentally adopted the Democrats’ position on DACA before being corrected by a Republican Congressman.

What’s really amazing about all this, is how much the media (and yes, even the “liberal” mainstream media) wants to be able to portray Trump as actually competent.  NYT:

For 55 minutes, with cameras rolling, President Trump engaged in a vigorous discussion of immigration with congressional leaders of both parties in a setting usually reserved for bland talking points and meaningless photo opportunities.

In effect, the president and his visitors threw away the blah-blah scripts and negotiated possible legislation in front of the nation. “I hope we’ve given you enough material,” a pleased Mr. Trump joked with reporters as he finally ushered them out of the Cabinet Room in the White House.

That was the point. After days in which his very fitness for office was debated, Mr. Trump appeared intent on demonstrating that he could handle the presidency. He was in command of the meeting while inviting input. He did not berate anyone. He did not call anyone derogatory nicknames. He signaled that he was open to compromise. [emphasis mine]

The bar, of course, was historically low given that Democrats and even some Republicans have been describing him as so unstable that he should be removed from office. For his advisers, the meeting was a relief, a chance to reset the narrative and make Mr. Trump look more like a traditional president. And his critics, grading on a curve, called it a welcome change, a moment of constructive engagement that they hoped would lead to more.

Yet it was a measure of Mr. Trump’s political weakness that anyone seemed surprised.

To Baker’s credit, he admits this is an absurdly low bar.  But he’s not doing American democracy any favors by pretending that this is a remotely acceptable bar for a president.  Seriously, not calling anyone derogatory names during a meeting counts as competent?!  Not to mention the “openness to compromise” was actually him showing he did not even understand what is ostensibly his administration’s own position.

Terrific piece from Yglesias on all this.  And more reason to look down upon Politico, whose political editor literally defended their fawning coverage on the basis of the fact that Trump got names right (they were on placards!!).

Donald Trump’s entire political career has been a bizarre exercise in large-scale lowering of the bar for what’s considered acceptable conduct in a high-ranking public official. But we as a society somehow reached a new low Tuesday afternoon after Trump staged a pointless, unproductive televised discussion of immigration policy with several members of Congress and successfully earned media plaudits for the feat of not suffering from any obvious symptoms of dementia.

I wish I were exaggerating, but this literally happened.

Emily Stephenson, a Politico editor, tweeted that the session was “a rebuke of reports that [Trump] is less than fully capable” while promoting a Louis Nelson story that congratulated the president for his ability to recall the names of the participants in the meeting he organized…

This tendency reached comical new heights via David Martosko of the Daily Mail, who first congratulated Trump for a commanding display the likes of which we’d never seen from Barack Obama before swiftly retreating to the contention that Trump had proven he’s not senile…

But while I cannot believe this actually has to be said, “not senile” is not an appropriate bar to set for the president of the United States, and an afternoon of lucidity doesn’t even prove Trump meets this bar. [emphasis mine]

And, not the least bit surprisingly from political journalism, the policy stakes get totally lost in all this:

There’s something more than a little pointless about the mental fitness debate. Trump is, for better or worse, now pursuing an utterly orthodox Republican Party approach on every policy issue under the sun. Ultimately, Trump’s slothful work habits and boundless incuriosity are more a problem for that party’s leaders than for anyone else. If their considered judgment is that this policy agenda is better pursued by a lazy, ignorant cable news addict than by Mike Pence, that’s really their problem.

The agenda itself, however, is a problem.

And lost in the shuffle of whether we’re supposed to be impressed that Trump remembers Feinstein’s name is “Dianne” or appalled that he can’t remember what his position on DACA is, we have the fact that Trump’s position on DACA is appalling.

Trump canceled DACA supposedly out of scrupulous worry that extending deportation protection and work permits to this group of immigrants exceeded the Obama administration’s legitimate constitutional authority. On a policy level, however, Ike Brannon and Logan Albright of the Cato Institute have concluded that “deporting the approximately 750,000 people currently in the DACA program would be over $60 billion to the federal government along with a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.”

Sad and pathetic all around.

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