Who counts as a 'drug dealer'?

This is the president announcing that he’d like to murder drug dealers after a “quick but fair” trial. (Watch it here.) Y’know, like they do in China and Singapore. Trump was a big fan when Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, just up and started murdering drug addicts and dealers.

I know, you’re thinking, “Eh, they’re drug dealers, who cares.” But let me just ask a quick question:

Who counts as a “drug dealer”?

When you think of a “drug dealer,” you probably have a specific image in mind, probably something like a black man in gang colors, the leader of a Mexican cartel, Al Pacino in Scarface, something like that.

Are you thinking about your buddy Bob who works at the factory with you and smokes a lot of weed when he goes home? Because depending on your state’s laws, that guy counts, too.

Weed is legal in Oregon, but if you’re carrying too much and get caught, you can still be prosecuted for intent to distribute. That is, they assume you’re dealing.

I know a person who got pulled over recently after a store run and had a big bag of weed in the car that they fully intended to smoke themselves over the next few weeks. But if this perfectly nice, job-having, responsible person had got busted with that weed, the cops and judges would have assumed they were a drug dealer and sent them to prison.

Is that who you’re thinking of when you think “drug dealer”? Because that’s who the law means.

If someone doesn’t want to go to the local weed store twice a week, should they be murdered?

I don’t smoke, but if I did, I would definitely hit the store once or twice a month and stock up, like I used to do with cigarettes. If I got pulled over and busted on the way home, my lazy ass would be going to prison for intent to distribute. And if Trump had his way, I’d get a “quick but fair” trial, and then I would be killed.

People like to think in jumbo-sized crayon primary colors with big thick lines and simple designs.

I’m not bashing on anyone when I say that – it’s just natural. That’s how our brains work. It’s a pattern that helps keep us safe – helps us generalize dangerous situations and learn to avoid them. Back in the caves, we’d see Oog get mauled by that one specific lion, and our brains would turn that into “large cats=bad,” and that helped keep us from getting mauled.

But that pattern of thinking does us a huge disservice when it comes to more modern-day situations. Things are a lot more complicated now than “don’t get mauled to death by large cats,” and you can’t make a law like “murder all drug dealers” without sweeping up half your families, neighbors and coworkers.

And now you’re thinking “Well, we’ll write the law so that the ‘good people’ aren’t included,” but my dude, we already wrote laws that way, and the ‘good people’ were getting included. See above.

None of that even mentions the extensive racism problems inherent in this argument; how wildly, morally wrong the death penalty is to start with; the fact that the death penalty doesn’t even work as a deterrent; the socio-economic problems that lead to a life selling drugs and how you have to deal with that first if you want to solve the problem; or the fact that the main American drug problem that we’re dealing with right now is the direct result of years of over-prescribing opioids, how it turned people into addicts, and how when they couldn’t get them anymore they turned to heroin and meth. Or any of the numerous other issues that a dumb idea like “murder all drug dealers” doesn’t address.

OR whatever Trump’s idea of a “quick but fair” trial is. Because I’ll bet you literally any amount of money that it doesn’t match mine.

Nor does it address the very valid point that Trump is a goddamn fool, and that what he really wants is to be a fascist dictator who “solves” problems with the sweep of his hand by murdering people he decides he doesn’t like, which is what his “murder all drug dealers” bullshit is actually pointing at.

Also, do you seriously think China and Singapore don’t have drug problems? Because I can assure you, they do.

Friday Roundup

It was 65 degrees in Antarctica today, and a considerable portion of my morning was spent pondering whether saving for retirement is really worth my effort.

What Trump’s Been Up To Since Being Acquitted

  • He’s destroying national monuments. (AP)
  • He’s punishing New York for passing a bill to allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses. (CNN)
  • His administration instituted new restrictions so now Bill Barr has to approve investigations into presidential candidates or campaigns. (NPR)
  • Trump went on a vengeful tirade at the National Prayer Breakfast and in an hour+ speech to the press. (CNN, NBC News)
  • The Trump administration won’t give Ukraine the guns and ammunition they bought. (Buzzfeed News)
  • Trump just fired Lt. Col. Alex Vindman, the Ukraine expert on the NSC who testified against Trump in the House impeachment investigation. (CNN)

Things to Read

Trump acquitted.

Senators voted on Wednesday afternoon to acquit President Trump on two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — after an historically unusual but typically contentious trial.

Forty eight senators supported a verdict of guilty; 52 voted not guilty on Article I. Forty seven senators supported a verdict of guilty on Article II; 53 voted not guilty.

‘Not Guilty’: Trump Acquitted On 2 Articles Of Impeachment As Historic Trial Closes – NPR

If you thought he was bad before, just watch what he does now that he knows he’s invincible.

Please stop listening to Instagram influencers.

Today I have learned that “dry fasting” is a thing.

Social media influencers are selling this idea on various platforms but mostly Instagram. It goes along with the extreme dieting and fad dieting trends, and relies on a lot of the same quackery: “removing toxins” from your body, promoting “healing,” plus the usual “lose weight, feel more energetic, age more slowly” garbage.

The idea is that you stop drinking water for 24 or more hours. Or you stop drinking all fluids for three or more days. Or you eat only fruit for the rest of eternity, because you’re immortal now. This lets your kidneys “rest,” so they have “better filtration.”

If you believe those claims are real, then I encourage you to dry fast for considerable lengths of time, because if you’re that dumb, I need you off my planet.

For the rest of you, drink water, please, and eat properly? Just, like, eat a reasonable amount of food. More vegetables than you are currently. Move sometimes. Drink plenty of water. And FFS, don’t listen to skeletal, over-photoshopped beauty/muscle models on Instagram.

This has been a public service announcement from a person with (an apparently above-average amount of) common sense.

Last Night's Iowa Caucuses

Well, the Iowa Democratic Party managed to completely shit the bed at their caucus last night.

I’m actually impressed. You have to work to fuck up that much all at once. That doesn’t just happen, people. You have to really commit to doing absolutely everything wrong to make this big a mess of something you’ve been doing for like 200 years.

No one seems clear yet on what all actually went wrong last night. Most of the trouble seems to revolve around an app that Iowa precincts were supposed to use to submit their caucus tallies to the Iowa Democratic Party’s headquarters. Which was, for the record, a wholly bad idea from the outset.

Guys. Smartphones are not in any way, shape, or form secure. Apps are all uniformly garbage.

FFS, I can’t even get the Facebook app, which has been in use by millions of people around the world for several years, to reliably post a photo to my newsfeed. And someone wanted to use a brand new baby app that no one tested to count votes or whatever?

What the actual hell. Whoever had that idea should be slapped. And then fired.

And that’s not even to mention that apparently Iowa changed their caucus procedures fresh for this year and made them even more complicated, and then didn’t practice with them or decently train people in them.

And then! And. Then. The Iowa Democratic Party handled the debacle in absolutely the worst way.

Instead of just coming straight out with things and being like, “So, that app everyone warned us not to use is trash and isn’t working the way we want, so now we have to do everything by hand and y’all are just gonna have to wait while we count stuff,” they were all coy about it and tried to play their cards close to their chests. Which, of course, led to just everyone spawning wild conspiracy theories about the Iowa caucus.

Oh, and of course, there’s the fact that the caucus method is a bullshit stupid way for 3 million people to pick a presidential candidate. Seriously. Just go cast a ballot like sensible people do.

For the record, we still don’t have results as I write this. 🙄

I propose that we go to a national system. Six months before an election, we all cast a mail-in paper ballot to pick a presidential candidate, all at the same time, and run with whomever we get. Then, in November, we all cast a mail-in paper ballot to pick the president. Easy as pie, simple to do and easy to remember, and nobody’s mailbox is gonna crash on the night of the election.

Image credit: xkcd, Voting Software. (CC BY-NC 2.5) Comic alt-text: “There are lots of very smart people doing fascinating work on cryptographic voting protocols. We should be funding and encouraging them, and doing all our elections with paper ballots until everyone currently working in that field has retired.”