In a nutshell

Barack Obama, yesterday: “The one unifying principle in the Republican Party at the moment is making sure that 30 million people don’t have health care.”

From the President’s press conference yesterday:

The one unifying principle in the Republican Party at the moment is making sure that 30 million people don’t have health care.

True. And potentially powerful. The current lunacy of the GOP is not politically sustainable. The question is when the public becomes sufficiently aware of that lunacy that even “Red” districts come into play. The answer I’m hoping for is “2014.”

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:

12 thoughts on “In a nutshell”

  1. The current lunacy of the GOP is not politically sustainable.

    I have to differ. The current lunacy is the same lunacy the US has been dealing with since 1830. (It’s the same lunacy because they’re busy recycling ideological positions and arguments from said time period, e.g. ‘Tentherism’.) They can go on believing whatever it is this week for a long time, because they already *have*. It’s politically unsustainable in the sense that they’ve never been able to win out over the long run. So I expect this will go right on indefinitely.

    The mistake that Team America (as opposed to Team Graycoat) has been made has been to misjudge our opponent’s commitment to this. They really hate you/us/blacks/browns/poor/Yankees/whatever and they don’t much like the Republican establishment either.

    So, the only option is to fight, and win, which means all that ‘appeal to reason’/bipartisan/civility stuff has to go.

    [‘I don’t like it, but hoping against the evidence that a unicorn will appear will not work and that leaves no other option.’]

  2. “The current lunacy of the GOP is not politically sustainable.”

    Hmmm … Do we have some evidence to support this bold assertion?

    PT Barnum thought otherwise.

    1. Look up “There’s a sucker born every minute” on Wikipedia. Barnum apparently didn’t say it.

  3. I have to agree with the skeptics. The John Birch Society and its Teaparty offshoot has only gone from strength to strength. And they’ve succeeded far beyond their wildest dreams in interjecting their nutty ideas into the center of American political life in a way that would have been unimaginable even in the 1950’s. To be sure, the nuttiest of the nuttiest may not get elected but everything about the American political scene has been shifting pretty much ever further to the right and I see nothing that leads me to predict a change for the better anytime soon.

    1. And yet the most populous and wealthiest state in the Union is a one-party Democratic state. And I really disagree that everything is moving farther right; we have [some kind of] national health care insurance policy.

      1. Which was originally proposed by a right-wing “think tank”. That’s the great achievement we’re all supposed to defend against charges of “socialism” hurled by the ideological allies of the people who wrote ObamaCare in the first place. And, by the way, we don’t actually have any kind of national health care insurance policy. What we have, in fact, is a requirement that everybody must buy a policy of dubious value from an insurance company. For the moment, and after bribing the health care industry for the privilege, we have agreed to use our tax dollars to allow some (but not all) poor people to enrich the insurance companies by buying similarly dubious health insurance from them and directly paying for the health care needs of people who might not be profitable for the insurance companies.

        I would hardly call that socialized medicine—particularly since, unlike Medicare, it requires continually bribing the health care industry so that they will allow us to spend tax money for the common good. Eventually this “transaction tax” is going to become unaffordable. So no money to provide health care for the poor. But perpetual servitude to the health insurance companies.

        As for California: Yes, the GOP overplayed its hand because most Californians wouldn’t vote for a Bircher nutcase and that’s the only candidate far enough to the right for the lunatic base of the California GOP. On the other hand, the Democratic Party hasn’t moved even as far left as was Pat Brown. The clever boots consultants keep telling the candidates to move more to the center to pick up some potential Republican voters and “insulate” themselves from being called liberals. Jerry Brown has been a pretty good Governor by he’s to the right of his dad and certainly no flaming leftist in any event. By contrast, the “reddest” states are very reliably, extremely right-wing.

      2. Perhaps everything is not moving further to the right, but it is certainly becoming more polarized. The GOP has realize that its strongest play to thwart the forward progress of civilization is to create a permanent stalemate. If they can’t have what they want, they’ll sure as hell prevent us from getting what we want. It’s a schoolyard bullying tactic that has proven extremely effective.

  4. “they’ve succeeded far beyond their wildest dreams in interjecting their nutty ideas into the center of American political life”

    That’s what having more money than God, and being willing to spend it on political re-education, can do for you. Lewis Powell has certainly earned the thanks of a grateful 0.1% of a nation.

    Now that he’s come up with a pithy, pointed, and powerful characterization to use, let’s all hope Obama doesn’t just drop it. Four things are necessary to combat this right-wing bilge effectively: terse, understandable, and true statements like this one, and repetition, repetition, repetition. I can’t remember that Obama has ever been particularly interested in the last three items. Or any Democrat I can think of, actually.

  5. For all of Obama’s way with words, FDR was better. Recall “Martin, Barton and Fish”?

    Or 4 years earlier, this?

    Pithy contempt, repeated over and over in varying ways, is in order. It would have a clarifying effect.

  6. Funny how “evidence-based” advocates want to erase parts of the Constitution for ideological reasons — it’s too bad, if one is a leftist, that the 10th Amednment impedes one’s agenda but that is not the same thing as the 10th Amendment doesn’t exist.

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