February 2018

The word in Trump World is that the big guy’s solution to drug addiction is to knock off the drug dealers. And there we were thinking all we needed was a wall. As he often does, he floated the idea as a joke. (From Axios)

He often jokes about killing drug dealers… He’ll say, ‘You know the Chinese and Filipinos don’t have a drug problem. They just kill them.’

And ISIS executes gays.

What started as a joke has possibly hardened into a serious policy. So let’s have a look at it. As with so many things Trump, the policy has a superficial logic to it. But like the wall and arming teachers, it doesn’t bear scrutiny. The ‘just execute all the drug dealers’ is a simplistic solution to a complex problem.

It’s a great sound bite, but naive. For instance, how do we get the machinery of death up and humming? How can we make it do what it hasn’t done in decades? Capital punishment was once widespread. It has fallen out of favor in the civilized world. In the US we reserve it for certain murders and hardly ever use it.

In 2016, 17,250 Americans were murdered — but only 20 executed. Currently, the average stay on death row is 18 years. What would it become if you add in drug dealers?

The process of killing a criminal is slow and expensive. The law and order types like to have it so they can say they are doing something, without actually having to do something. And as a strategy to address crime, it is irrelevant.

In less civilized places summary execution is still a mainstay. And it is those jurisdictions and their capricious approach to civil rights that have so attracted Trump. But America is still bound by constitutional niceties. Trump may like to shoot suspected drug dealers in the streets but American judicial philosophy calls that third-world barbarism.

Even Trump himself acknowledges this:

Trump has said he would love to have a law to execute all drug dealers here in America, though he’s privately admitted it would probably be impossible to get a law this harsh passed under the American system.

The problem with Trump’s philosophy is more than just its impracticality. Focusing on punishment misses the point entirely. It does nothing to cure addiction. On the other hand, if there were no demand for illegal drugs there would be no illegal drugs. And surely that points to a better approach than playing whack-a-mole with drug dealers.

And that’s what it would be. There is too much money in the drug trade to think that the death penalty — even if it were widespread and sped up — would dissuade people from pursuing the cash. Let’s face it. The business already has a high mortality rate and no shortage of applicants for open positions.

So the critical question becomes: How do you reduce the demand for illegal drugs? You focus on treatment. Including such controversial measures as heroin-assisted treatment and supervised injection rooms. The philosophy is to keep addicts alive and in touch with healthcare workers. In addition, most first world countries provide cost-free addiction treatment as part of their national healthcare program.

Our pursuit of drug policy as a criminal justice matter hasn’t always been the goal. It wasn’t until the 1930s that drugs became a focus of federal law. And it took until 1970 and the passage of the Controlled Substance Act before the War on Drugs really got going. That endless and expensive campaign hasn’t worked. And neither will capital punishment.


Arming Teachers – Why It’s even Dumber than You Might Think.

February 24, 2018

Donald Trump has come down firmly on the side of arming teachers. Here’s a tweet: Donald J. Trump‏  @realDonaldTrump ….If a potential “sicko shooter” knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there…problem solved. Must […]

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Chutzpah: A Conservative Tells Democrats to Stop Playing Politics with the Russian Investigation

February 24, 2018

Marc Thiessen slavishly followed the conservative playbook in writing a Washington Post op-ed piece on Russian interference in the 2016 elections. He cooked the evidence and blamed the Democrats. The title of his article set the tone: “Democrats are crippling America’s response to Russian interference.” As has repeatedly been pointed out —  and equally often ignored by Republicans —  the GOP controls both branches […]

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Trump’s Tweets Victory in the Russian Investigation – Just a Little Prematurely.

February 17, 2018

Trump tweeted this afternoon. He was in Florida, but his mind had moved on from the Parkland school shooting, and his sole subject was the Russians and their election interference. Specifically, how his election was legitimate — and not a present from Putin. He started with an opinion piece from a reliable backer — the New […]

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The NRA’s Culture of Death. How Fetishizing a Tool Kills Kids.

February 16, 2018

Here we are once again in the aftermath of yet another gun massacre. And once again we will do nothing. Typical is Ted Cruz’s reaction, “This could happen anywhere, we have seen that evil could occur whether in Parkland or in a church or central Texas or in schools across the country. Evil is sadly always present.” What […]

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Why American English Has a Better Case to Be Considered Standard English than British English.

February 13, 2018

The BBC — an organization which takes language exceptionally seriously — published a piece “How the Americans Preserved British English”. In it, the author posits that there are isolated populations in America that pronounce words more closely to the way they were in Shakespearean England than the British currently do. And that Americans, in general, are more […]

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Fox News EVP Says the Olympic Motto Is Now “Darker, Gayer, Different.”

February 9, 2018

(Note: I wrote this post in response to a Fox News opinion piece that was so shameful Fox News took it down. But if you want to read it you will find the text at the bottom of the post) John Moody, EVP and Executive Editor at Fox News, is upset that the US Winter Olympic team isn’t as white […]

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A Police Assassination in Tennessee.

February 7, 2018

In Tennessee, last April, a slow sped car chase ended when the unarmed driver of the fleeing vehicle was shot dead. It is a story too often told, but what makes this one so notorious is that the local sheriff ordered his cops to avoid damaging their vehicles and instead use deadly force on the driver. It gets […]

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