Shamelessness and incompetence

Michael Walzer once said that there is neither profit nor honor in doing evil badly. How he foresaw the current leadership of the Republican Party must remain one of life’s mysteries.

Michael Walzer once said that there is neither profit nor honor in doing evil badly. How he foresaw the current leadership of the Republican Party must remain one of life’s mysteries.

The new, Murdochized Wall Street Journal editorial page, as if eager to demonstrate that the old page had not fully plumbed the depths of depravity, accepts the idea that – with the economic recovery in real peril and millions of actual people suffering badly from unemployment and underemployment – the primary goal of the Republicans in Congress should be defeating President Obama for re-election, even if the means are disastrous for the country.  But the editors scold the Republicans for blowing the theatrics of extending the payroll tax cut. (At least they’re more aware than some of my friends about who’s been winning the poker game, writing, “After a year of the tea party House, Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats have had to make no major policy concessions beyond extending the Bush tax rates for two years.”)

Jonathan Karl of ABC News reports that the House Republicans are planning to climb down as soon as they figure out a face-saving way to do it.  Your mileage may vary, but I can’t see the face below as worth a single American job.






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:

10 thoughts on “Shamelessness and incompetence”

  1. Having a good poker player in the Oval Office leads to a nice irony when he can make the point that this is no poker game. Pres. Obama may be pretty capable of remembering what that guy in the picture did last time he held a pair of tens and tried to act as if he had a full house.

    1. I wouldn’t be counting your winnings until after you’ve won. The GOP has been in this situation before and Obama and/or Reid has let them off the hook every single time. In fact, last time the GOP played this game it was Obama who rode to their rescue. It tells you something that Obama has a mortal nut lock and people are still very seriously wondering whether he’s going to fold again.

  2. I guess I sort of understand the impulse to read the WSJ op-ed page. Used to be when I felt unmotivated, I’d just read a Mickey Kaus piece and immediately be re-energized with irritation. (It’s harder to find him now.)

    But otherwise, I wonder about whether reading such people is a good investment of time.

    1. The WSJ comix page saved my life several times in the mid-1990’s. Sometimes, when I wasn’t careful, my eye would stray onto the NYT op-ed page. Fortunately, I always felt the impending brain death in time, and a WSJ comix page was near at hand. One invigorating jolt of the crazy, and I was awake again. Nowadays with the Intertubes, I’m no longer at risk. I can read my Krugman with no risk of stumbling across a Friedman or a Dowd. (And even Friedman, at his worst, is far better than A.M. (“On what mind?”) Rosenthal. And Dowd, even though she is guilty of every crime alleged against her, still gets a pass from me for discovering the true name of Alberto Gonzalez: “Torture Boy.”)

  3. The point being? I take it for granted that these guys are assholes. My question is how did the Dems screw up the politics so much that these assholes looked, temporarily at least, like normal people? Because I can’t control other people, I can only control myself.

  4. Actually, this is one time the WSJ had it wrong. It’s McConnell who screwed up. The House has it right on policy. It’s one year or it’s nothing. Obama’s and Reid’s insistence on two months is so overtly political that it will backfire on them. But McConnell gave Reid cover. Tactically, that was a dopey thing to do.

    My own preference is to let the tax holiday expire. One year was what was promised and that’s enough. It wasn’t that long ago the you guys would have been apoplectic about starving SS revenues – remember Gore’s lockbox? As for the extension of the 99 interminable weeks of unemployment, I’m for phasing that out too. Pass a bill that extends it for those currently on unemployment, but for any newly unemployed, let’s recycle it back to where it was before.

    The keystone piece is a red herring. Accelerating Obama’s decision to not do the pipeline is also overtly political. I would just do the unemployment phase-out and the mediscare fix for the doc’s and call it a day.

  5. It wasn’t that long ago the you guys would have been apoplectic about starving SS revenues

    The bill requires the funds that would have been paid to SS from the payroll tax to be paid out of general revenue kthxbye

    1. Yeah, sort of like what happens anyway. The Treasury takes the money and gives the Trust Fund T Bonds. With this bill, there is just less money to take.

      Anyway, the House had to knuckle under, since the Senate went on vacation, so politics triumphs over policy as usual, leaving the public with yet another galactically stupid result. Walking past the deficit clock in Manhattan is just a sickening experience. $10,000 a second, recently ticked $15 trillion.

      1. There is no “deficit clock” in Manhattan. There’s a National Debt Clock. If you don’t understand the difference between those two things, why would I be interested in your opinion on any of these matters? Also, you know that retiring a bunch of debt is more expensive than servicing it, yes?

      2. How would you pay for it? The GOP rejected a millionaires’ surtax – might cut into the contributions, I suppose. Cut spending? Where, bearing in mind that a spending cut that affects middle and lower class workers undoes the stimulus effect, and might well just be using the right hand to take back what was given with the left.

        I’d be all for a clean one-year extension. But let’s not pretend the House Republicans are interested in that.

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