Harder than impossible?

Lindsay Graham says the recess appointments will make it harder to get bipartisan support for legislation.
When something’s impossible, it can’t get harder.

From Monday’s NYT:

A leading Republican predicted Sunday that President Obama’s appointment of 15 officials while sidestepping Senate confirmation would make it more difficult to get bipartisan support for future legislation.

Ummm … a probability of zero can’t get smaller.

What’s astonishing is how easy it is to bamboozle reporters. Characterizing the Republican bloc vote against affordable health care as “the Obama administration’s decision to pass health care without a single Republican vote” really doesn’t pass the giggle test.but Joseph Berger of the Times reported it as if it made sense, without even doing the usual “but Democrats say” balancing act.

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: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

20 thoughts on “Harder than impossible?”

  1. Halalujia! In for a penny in for a pound. Do it again some more please Mr. President. If Republicans are squealing you know you're doing the right thing. Give the base some leadership to support and they will come out to vote you some more support in congress.

  2. A simple distinction: A predictionis not the same as a threat. Graham appears merely to predict, but really threatens. This simple trick affects the way he's written about & sees himself.


  3. K- No doubt Graham may fool himself and the press seem to be easily fooled or at least pretend to be but I don't really think that anyone paying honest attention is fooled by this dodge. It is like someone saying, "If you keep doing that you are going to get hit in the head." That is a threat pure and simple no matter how the threatening party may want to parse it.

  4. It would be fairly easy for the Democrats to get Republican support for legislation: Start proposing Republican legislation. Let's start with national "shall issue" concealed carry reform. See? Not impossible.

    Don't want to? Then don't be surprised if Republicans aren't interested in supporting Democratic legislation. The major parties disagree about what sort of legislation is a good idea. Even under the best of circumstances, there wouldn't be much cooperation.

  5. Brett, as has been repeatedly pointed out, HCR is composed of a large set of Republican ideas, many of which the GOP supported right up through last year, when supporting them meant voting for them.


  6. Mark: "What’s astonishing is how easy it is to bamboozle reporters. "

    No, what's 'astonishing' is how one-sided this is; I don't see reporters casually accepting liberal sh*t.

  7. Yes, the way to get Republican support is to push their ideas. This is why Republicans flocked to Bill Clinton when he co-opted stand after Republican stand during his presidency. Worked like a charm…

  8. One more time: the words "lie," "liar," "lying," and their synonyms, as applied to posters and other commenters, are not used on this site.

  9. Yes, the unconstitutional, tyrannical, socialistic individual mandate, which is such a threat to the American way of life that it justifies nullification and even violent resistance, was originally the official Republican alternative to the employer mandate in Hillarycare.

  10. Brett, legislation does not come with Red & Blue stickers that label the law as Republican or Democrat. We should strive to not see the world only as black and white; especially with politics, the odds that both sides are wrong is quite high.

    As for cooperation, it only helps if you have two groups interested in cooperation. We're in the Defect-Defect quadrant of the Prisoner's dilemma now.

  11. We've already seen, in fact, that even when republicans want to vote for things, they don't want them to come to a vote. The nominees who squeaked past cloture by a vote or two ended up being confirmed by 90+ margins. So really, if the democrats want republicans to vote for things, they should gain a few more seats in November.

  12. "We’re in the Defect-Defect quadrant of the Prisoner’s dilemma now."

    Right, which is to say, neither side is interested in cooperation.

  13. Brett:

    Neither side is particularly interested *now*, but for the past year Obama has been letting his agenda stall out while attempting to overcome the Republican lack of interest. At some point, facing constant defections, the only rational course is to start defecting in self-defense. The amazing thing is just how long Obama let himself be exploited.

  14. Probability might be the wrong way of looking at this. Maybe the more apt phenomenon is cooperativity? Has the advantage of knowing positive, as well as negative cooperativity. Expressed mathematically, positive cooperativity (components strengthening each others effect) means that the cooperativity constant has a value larger than unity but smaller than infinity, negative cooperativity (two components weakening each others effect) means that the cooperativity constant has a value between unity and zero, while unity itself denotes the absence of cooperativity.

    The only sort of problem with this description is that the Republican are violating natural law as their unity translates into negative cooperativity. But then that's just science, schmience, and reality has a well-know liberal bias anyway.

  15. Seth:

    I happen to agree with you. However, I imagine many Republicans feel the Democrats defected first, and the (R)s only rational choice is too cease any cooperation.

    In the mean time, no saner laws for the regulation of banks will come out, etc. It's a crazy way to run a country.

  16. MobiusKlein,

    Yes many republicans feel the Democrats defected first and their strategic choice was to cease any cooperation. This happened quite a long time ago. Maybe around Jan 20, 2009. But probably a lot longer ago, if you count all the "50 votes+Cheney= type 'ram it through' actions of the all-Republican government a few years back. In their minds, Democrats defected first simply by failing to register as Republicans.

    So it makes no sense to me that the Obama team would bet anything at all on the prospect of Republicans deciding it was suddenly time to make nice with Democrats. Sure it was probably appropriate to hold some meetings and talk about various Republican amendments that were adopted, by way of making a good faith effort to clear the air a bit. But waiting so many months while the bait & switch games played out was pretty bizarre.

  17. That was supposed to say: "50 votes+Cheney = clearly expressed will of the people". In contrast with the "60 (or 56) votes = outrage worthy of Pol Pot" standard in place today.

Comments are closed.