Bad sport

Flying down from Boston to Dulles on Jet Blue, I was seated in the row behind someone who spent the flight watching Glenn Beck. Watching without the sound on is always an interesting way to get the full force of the visual experience. I was surprised by the constant use of the blackboard: does Beck’s audience really long to be back in the third grade, with Teacher at the front of the room telling them the Truth?

But I mostly enjoyed watching that sniveling sore loser whine and pout, without having to hear his annoying voice.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

18 thoughts on “Bad sport”

  1. Why do liberals hate Glenn Beck so much? Usually when liberals hate someone so much it's because that person is pushing all the right buttons, which means success for the good guys.

  2. Beck and Limbaugh Hannity are little twerps who are not part of the real equation now. But there are some substantial challenges to this law that deserve some serious comment.

    The GOP may not go ahead with that repeal thing after all, now that the Chamber of Commerce is not going to support them on it. But the constitutional issue seems to me not to be frivolous. The AG of my state is one of many who will challenge the law on constitutional grounds. I am not sure that he is wrong.

    I have been hearing some Democrats dismissing the constitutionality of the individual mandate by citing precedents that to my untrained ear seem not that relevant. The federal government prohibited individual farmers from raising crops in excess of crop mandates, it was said (on NPR). However, that was a mandate to businessmen who raised crops, not to private citizens who engage in no business enterprises at all. They are being required to purchase insurance from private, for profit companies, and I have not heard a clear precedent for that yet.

    This SCOTUS construes the application of the commerce clause fairly narrowly. Ironically, one GOP proposal, rejected by the Dems, was to allow purchase of insurance across state lines. This was rejected for good policy reasons, but it left health insurance purchases strictly within state lines. This tends to remove it from the purview of the commerce clause, it would seem. If that mandate is overturned, the consequences would be hard to predict. A public option might be different from a mandate to buy from a private company. As an advocate of a tax-funded single payer system, I have no inclination to see the individual mandate go forward. But this Achilles heel of the law, even though it will not be pierced by the hurling of tea bags, or by an unstable talk show host throwing chalk at it, may be vulnerable to a judicial review, with at least four justices almost a certain bet to strike it down.

    So let's forget about Beck and the others, and think about what is likely to be the main event. Comments from people who actually know something about the Constitution would be most welcome. Educate me, please!

  3. Very interesting, kth. I worked for a time with schizophrenics and the recycling bin was always filled with, well, insane scratchings. There's something powerfully cohesive about the way we process visual logic.

  4. Jolly good, James! Wish they had had Balkin on NPR. I had heard the tax argument before, but had forgotten it.

    Now, Bux, I can give you my personal reasons for despising Glenn Beck.

    I dislike Beck because he is shallow and ignorant, and is immersed in his own feelings at the expense of facts and reason. Liberalism works better when it has serious, worthy opposition, and suffers when it has to deal with fools whose knowledge of history is so sparse that they do not know when a member of Congress was not only a civil rights leader, but was a Freedom Rider back in 1961, when it was not safe to go to Birmingham in defense of civil rights. There is a Gresham's law at work; just as bad currency drives out good, bad political debate has a way of drawing out good.

    We need a good debate about the constitutionality of the individual mandate (or the tax equivalent) of the new health care law. We need good debates about the reliability of long-term accounting projections that have such a large influence on deficit projections with health care reform. We need serious, scholarly (that means having lots of book learning) opponents who can read our positions and point out what assumptions we are making, where those assumptions may lead us into bad policy, and where we should head in search of better policy. Beck and company provide none of this.

    I want to repeat a challenge I made to you earlier (on March 14, at 4:21 pm, under the heading " “You thought Red Blogistan couldn’t go any lower.” On March 13, Mark pointed out something Dan Riehl had said on his website suggesting that Mrs. Harry Reid should be euthanized. Riehl responded with personal invective to a post from "Doc" which agreed with him in substance but disagreed with his tone. You had said in your post at 7:37 pm on March 13, ” I know you liberals can’t handle criticism or intellectual debate. So yes, go ahead, censor me off this site. I forgot that censorship is what you liberals are all about. What a joke. This is nothing but a big group-think.” I asked you for specifics about when a host of the RBC had made such a personal attack on a contributor to the RBC commentary. I am still waiting for a specific reply.

    Just 2 days after the Blogistan post, on March 15, at 11:02 AM,, Jonathan Zasloff had a post titled "Good President, Bad President" in which he criticized Mark's unconditional support for Obama. He was pretty sarcastic, and he slammed Obama for negligence in pursuing his political appointments. If this were nothing but a big group-think, this should not have happened.

    You need to address yourself to the real liberals who exist outside your head. The ones who exist inside your head are indeed a bunch of fools who march in lock step and are incapable of independent thought. Consider them annihilated. Serves them right. Then turn your attention to the ones who are made of flesh and blood in the three-dimensional world.

  5. As the air to a bird or the sea to a fish, so is contempt to the contemptible.

    Or, in the modern vernacular, DNFTT.

  6. You have to keep the calendar in mind. It would be astonishing to get a ruling from a district court striking down the statute before the Fourth, and even unlikely before Labor Day. (Delaying the Reconciliation would draw this out: what judge is going to want to go that far out on a limb without knowing what the final statute is going to say?) Presuming it comes in the DC Circuit — due to GWB appointees, probably the best venue for this sort of thing — you'd not expect an appellate ruling by Election Day. Briefing might not be done by then. And a Supreme Court ruling in May/June 2011 at the earliest.

    I suppose a state could seek a preliminary injunction, if they could find some kind of argument for irreparable harm. I'm not seeing it, but then there's a whole lot of wingnuttery I'm not seeing.

  7. In all fairness, Keith Olbermann belongs in the same cage as Glenn Beck. Actually, better get separate cages . . . it might get ugly.

  8. Speaking of bad sports, tells about the teabaggers who posted what they thought was Tom Perriello's home address in order to have their friends drop by and chat; it was his brother's house, and a gas line there was severed soon after the posting. The teabagger who posted the misinformation (Perriello's brother has small children) calls this "collateral damage."

    Time to send another contribution to his campaign. Teabagger terrorism must not be rewarded.

  9. Ed Whitney, you want evidence of a host on RBC making a personal attack, here goes…

    In the March 3, 2010 post by Mark Kleiman entitled "Creationism, Global Warming Denialism, and your Child's Textbooks", I posted a comment to which Mark Kleiman later replied at 10:17pm on March 4, 2010 by saying "Bux, for once in his life, is correct. “It’s no point in debating bigots and idealogues because, although they give lip service to it, they don’t believe in reason.” So please don’t feed the troll."

    Sounds like a personal stab by an RBC host to me. Of course ad hominems in general abound on this site by main contributors. The hate just oozes out. Where is the love?

    p.s., Jonathan Zasloff is a piece of crap (see Zasloff's Feb. 24, 2010 post)

  10. Duly noted. I was looking for something parallel to the Riehl response to "Doc," who agreed with Riehl on being pro-life but took exception to Riehl's tone. Doc had said, "Christians everywhere should pray for the recovery of Mrs. Reid, and that perhaps through this, her husband can see the evil that he does and repent." Riehl told him to get lost, called him a twirp, and added, ". if you don't have the ballz to get in their face, be glad someone does."

    Actually, I was sort of looking for an example where a host of RBC would say something nasty about your genitals or manhood, in order to make a convincing case of equal and opposite abuse. But if this is your best example, so be it. I've been in the same place myself and know how these things go. Once on a big final exam in world literature, the question asked for an example from a work of literary merit of a protagonist meeting and dealing with some situation of danger in which moral choices had to be made. The only thing I could think of was when Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher got lost in the cave. I didn't get a very good grade, but hey, it was what I could come up with. So I empathize. It was pretty lame, but it was all I had.

    Today, Riehl says something about David Frum: "I have less of a problem with self-professed 'rodeo clowns' like Glenn Beck than I do with David Frum, who constantly asserts he is possessed of a more thoughtful, more intellectually mature ideology, but whose actual output consists of nothing but fagged-up derivatives of Morning Zoo shock jockery."

    There seems to be some kind of sexual undertone to the Riehl discourse, even when he is talking about people in the same general region of political space (well to the right of center) as he is. He is awfully pleased with himself, it seems, and no doubt thinks he has knocked Frum for a loop.

    Looks like your example gets a C minus (just what I got on my Tom Sawyer essay). But shoot, at least that is a passing grade.

  11. But trolls are people too! We may snap their jock, but we don't kick them in the balls. That is the difference between the RBC and the wingnuts.

    Maybe if, instead of Tom Sawyer, I had written about the dangers faced by the Three Billy Goats Gruff…

  12. "This SCOTUS construes the application of the commerce clause fairly narrowly."

    In much the same sense that the Milky Way galaxy is smaller than the entire universe, yes. They've indicated that they're not yet ready to read it as a grant of authority to regulate EVERYTHING under ANY circumstances whatsoever. Oh, that's narrow.

    Yeah, a product it's actually illegal to buy across state lines, that's something which clearly falls under the interstate commerce clause.

  13. I was thinking along the same lines as Brett B about the commerce clause, but in following the link provided by James Wimberly, I found, which discusses the issue under the clearly enumerated power of Congress to tax; the new law may not depend on the commerce clause at all. The writer of the column does not think that there will be five votes on the current Court to reject decades of precedents, but that was written before the Court struck down a century of precedents in deciding that corporations have the same rights as individuals when it comes to campaign contributions.

    I am still not convinced that the suits are entirely frivolous. Flawed, yes, but flawed and frivolous are two different things.

    There have been individual mandates to purchase products in the past, as in the Militia Act of 1792, requiring every free able-bodied male citizen to "provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder" This was the power to provide for the common defense by establishing a uniform militia throughout the country. Constitutionally, a no-brainer.

    It appears that the issue is likely to be not so much the tax on individuals who do not provide themselves with insurance, but the authority of Congress to impose such a tax. Before I owned a house, I had to pay extra taxes on income that now is sheltered by the mortgage interest deduction. By not purchasing a home, I was subject to taxes from which I am now exempt. Was I the victim of an unconstitutional individual mandate to purchase a house, or was I taxed extra for being a renter? My tax bill was greater than that of homeowners with the same income. The tax bill of the uninsured will be greater than the tax bill of the insured. It sounds constitutional to my untrained ear.

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