Stray thought

Between Trump’s antics and Blingrich’s, they’re starting to make Sarah Palin look like a reasonable human being. And with Huckabee out, unless Bachman gets in Palin might grab virtually the entire true- wingnut vote while Romney and Pawlenty and maybe Daniels split the votes of the people who hate the poor and the planet but not the Enlightenment.

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 “Stray thought”

  1. You’re assuming Palin is in. I think she’s got more sense than that. It’s true that her star seems to be fading. Her travel show wasn’t renewed and other people are attracting more of the spotlight. And a solid showing in the primaries, the chance to say more outrageous things with even more cameras present, might give her enterprises a shot in the arm.
    On the other hand, a poor showing – even, in retail politics Iowa, a mediocre showing – might utterly finish her, wreck the gravy train for good. And getting a decent showing means a lot of hard work; not just showing up and wowing th yokels, which she seems to enjoy, but reading briefing books and juggling numbers or getting along with competent professionals – things she manifestly doesn’t enjoy. Or, instead of committing herself to a year of hard work, bad food, and low pay, she can eke out the last dregs to be had from the clown show going and keep the cash registers ringing as long as possible.

  2. I agree with Warren on Palin. On the other hand, I think Bachman is going to run. I really think she’s very, very different than Palin. Palin’s a grifter, and lazy. Bachman really believes the crazy, and isn’t lazy. I not only think she’s going to run, but with the Huck out, I think she has a damned good chance of winning Iowa.

    Mark, she’s the one you want to pin your hopes on now. I think she’s more likely to win the GOP nomination than Palin, but would also be an even weaker general election candidate. She’ll say things wacky enough to make me stop longing for Alan Keyes to decide he wants a rematch.

  3. I agree with both of the above comments. My dad was a campaign manager and I can hear echoes of his laughter above.

  4. Governor Palin always sounded reasonable to me, even when she takes positions with which I disagree. I don’t see her constructing arguments out of silly mispronounciations of people’s names (“Blingrich”), insinuations that they or their supporters are insane (“wingnuts”), or crude sexual allusions (“teabagger”). I don’t see from Governor Palin insults, followed by lectures on the relation between incivility and political violence, followed by mockery of calls for civility in political discussion, as we see from Professor Kleiman.

  5. If Malcolm is correct then it is indeed time for Palin to put on her mama grizzly pants…
    Stop pussy-footing around…
    And get in the race and heal this country with her Christian wisdom, empathy, and good ill…

  6. Palin should have done a Trump and scored a ton of free publicity for her “personality”, while doing a fake bid for presidency. Now it’s probably too late.

  7. Governor Palin has more freedom wrt timing than most Republican challengers, seems to me. She already has name recognition, good and bad, and a pile of IOUs. Speaker Gingrich has dug himself a hole. The rest of the field have to construct a public face. Governor Romney has his Romneycare support to explain. Governor Pawlenty has his flips on CO2 regulation to explain. Governor Johnson and Herman Cain simply need exposure. Ambassador Bolton needs to establish domestic policy credibility. Governor Palin has not reversed herself on anything major, that I know, and she has name-recognition already.

  8. Why would you assume Palin is running? Does quitting the governorship in order to launch a book tour and a reality TV show sound like plans to become president or plans to cash in those 15 minutes of fame? Like I said the other day, think deeper regarding these “candidates”. What do they really want? I think it will be Romney vs Pawlenty with the hardcore base screaming about “no true conservative” just like in 08. What really matters, though, is the economic headwinds. I mean it isn’t like Bush was a true conservative in 04 but the conservatives lined up just like they always do.

  9. I don’t know, Benny Lava. The famous Republican party discipline seems to be badly fractured these days. Look at the way everyone “fell in line” behind Newt this week. Isn’t that the key problem for any R candidate right now — credible or otherwise, not one of them can unite the party?

  10. (Benny): “…it isn’t like Bush was a true conservative in 04 but the conservatives lined up just like they always do.
    “Always” overstates things. Turnout depends, in part, on enthusiasm. If Republicans pick a candidate to fond of regulation and market intervention, free marketeers can burn their ballots and vote Libertarian.

  11. Also arguing against Benny’s point is that there was no Tea Party in 2004. The so-called “social conservatives” were still allowing themselves to be duped by the plutocrats.

  12. Malcolm,

    Why do you assume that winning the popular vote depends on turnout? That seems to be a popular conservative sentiment, but evidence suggests that winning the unaligned “independent” vote is more important.

    Betsy,

    Why do you think party discipline is waning for Republicans? There weren’t any major elections recently.

    Henry,

    Aren’t they still being duped?

  13. Also Malcolm, you’ll note that I did not say “always” even though you quoted me as such, which is quite mendacious. Not surprising, you’ve done that before.

  14. Turnout depends, in part, on enthusiasm. If Republicans pick a candidate to fond of regulation and market intervention, free marketeers can burn their ballots and vote Libertarian.

    What, both of them?

    It’s obviously hard to assess how many people who don’t vote are affirmatively deciding not to vote but remain interested and could be coaxed back to the polls. Maybe Malcolm’s right, and there’s a massive groundswell of untapped electoral support just waiting for the candidate willing to abolish child labor regulation. On the other hand, we can see how many people vote Libertarian, and we can see how many people show up to the polls but refuse to vote in the Presidential election – seemingly a more likely action for those strongly interested in politics but opposed to the main candidates, as it enables them to vote in other races and ballot questions where they might have a preferred choice, and it gives their refusal to vote for President a voice. And the number of voters who vote for non-left-wing fringe candidates (at least since 1996) or who don’t choose a Presidential candidate is “functionally none”. Hardly an obvious sign of support for Malcolm’s hypothesis.

    Of course, Malcolm seems to be equating non-voting with a principled Libertarian action of protest. I’m pretty sure the evidence for this is nil. Still, I believe there are two types of Libertarians existing in the US: the entirely irrelevant, and the hypocrites piously mouthing Libertarianism to help sell a Republican agenda. If some handful of Libertarians are silently and non-quantifiably refusing to even spoil their ballots, this would put them almost perfectly in the first of these camps.

    As to Malcolm’s other comments, pretty much par for the course. Bolton needs to establish domestic policy credibility? For a guy whose entire foreign policy record is that he’s nuttier and more extreme than any other three contenders combined, John McCain’s song about Iran possibly excepted? Palin – who he persists in calling “Governor” in honor of the year or so she spent in the position before abandoning first the responsibilities and then the job amidst a world economic catastrophe in pursuit of higher office and then of personal wealth – has no flip-flops to account for? Leaving aside the degree to which this alleged record of policy consistency derives from a lack of a record of policy positions, what about the little record she has? Has Malcolm ever heard of the “Bridge To Nowhere”? The woman who spent October 2008 carefully enunciating “Barack Hussein Obama” – emphasis on the second word, high note on the second syllable – doesn’t play politics with peoples’ names? The woman who’s announced that the first amendment means she has a right to be free from criticism has no conflicted history with demands for “civility”? Pull the other one, Malcolm.

  15. (Benny): “Malcolm, you’ll note that I did not say ‘always’ even though you quoted me as such, which is quite mendacious. Not surprising, you’ve done that before.
    Ummm…
    (Benny): “…just like they always do.
    (Malcolm): “‘Always’ overstates things.

  16. (Warren): “The woman who’s announced that the first amendment means she has a right to be free from criticism has no conflicted history with demands for ‘civility’?
    Cite, please? Someone made this assertion before on this site and I requested a cite. No answer so far.

  17. (Warren): “The woman who’s announced that the first amendment means she has a right to be free from criticism has no conflicted history with demands for ‘civility’?”
    (Malcolm): “Cite, please? Someone made this assertion before on this site and I requested a cite. No answer so far.
    (Warren): “Malcolm, it is not terribly difficult to find a rundown of Palin’s attempts to reinterpret the first amendment.
    From your link…
    (Palin): …”Letterman certainly has the right to ‘joke’ about whatever he wants to, and thankfully we have the right to express our reaction. This is all thanks to our U.S. Military women and men putting their lives on the line for us to secure America’s Right to Free Speech – in this case, may that right be used to promote equality and respect.”
    (C&L):…”
    Alas, the same Right to Free Speech did not extend to her critics.
    They’re saying Letterman was a supporter?
    A couple of other points:…
    1. On counter-suing people who made allegations of official misconduct: Even politicians have legal protection against libel and barratry. It would not constitute a violation of my First Amendment right to free speech if Governor Abercrombie were to sue me for defamation if I asserted that he was evicted from NAMBLA for the excessive pursuit of pre-teen boys, for example.
    2. I agree with the C&L point that “Right to Free Speech” does not mean that broadcasters must retain shock jocks who step over the line. It’s sloppy usage to equate “First Amendment right to free speech” and “freedom from shunning by people whom you offend”. Here I agree with C&L. Note, however, she deployed this appeal in defense of Laura Schlesinger and Carrie Prejean, not herself.
    3. A right to free speech should have protected Shirley Sherrod from termination by the Department of Agriculture.

  18. Malcolm,
    I have no idea whence your first bullet-point about counter-suing arose. I understand that you live in Hawai’i and so perhaps reflexively invoke Governor Abercrombie as an example of a prominent politician, but even if I understood why you brought up counter-suing I’d have no idea why you felt the need to invent any specific example of a false claim, let alone one so vile, and especially why you felt compelled to connect it to a particular politician, even as an example of a false and libelous claim.

    Regarding your second bullet point, anyone with half a brain knows that if you want to portray yourself as a sympathetic victim, rather than whining in public about the unfair treatment you’ve received it’s far more effective to find an analogous case and stand up for the rights of that victim. The audience will get the point, and will understand that the subtext is that you understand your analogous person’s victimhood because of what you have yourself suffered. Palin clearly realizes this, and indeed doesn’t necessarily rely on a subtext, instead explicitly invoking this message by prefacing her intercession on these others’ behalf with phrases such as “I can relate as a liberal target myself”.

    That being said, let’s look at what examples Palin invoked (and I’m ignoring your attempt to shift this to the blogger at C&L’s attempt at irony).

    With respect to Dr. Laura, she felt that Dr. Laura had a First-Amendment right to retain her employment as a broadcaster after she was fired amid criticism of what she’d said. This is nuts, especially given that she was employed to provide entertaining speech that would not reflect too poorly on her advertisers.

    It’s with Carrie Prejean that you see Palin embracing the alternative version of the First Amendment the concoction of which she is often credited. The quote is:

    I respect Carrie for standing strong and staying true to herself, and for not letting those who disagree with her deny her protection under the nation’s First Amendment Rights. Our Constitution protects us all — not just those who agree with the far left.

    Now, I will concede that I frequently have difficulty discerning Palin’s intended meaning. But it certainly seems to me that she is saying that among Prejean’s First Amendment rights is the right not to be criticized. Note that this passage is specifically prefaced by Palin saying she is herself a victim of liberal criticism also.

    And although I’ve focused on what Palin said about other “victims”, meaning of course for her audience to draw lessons about Palin herself, let’s not overlook what she did say about herself:

    “If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”

    To be sure, this is a little different from either of the other two examples. I don’t think she’s quite saying that she has a First Amendment right not to be criticized here; instead, she seems to be saying that the First Amendment perhaps should be abolished if the press criticizes her and people like her. So perhaps the correct answer isn’t that she thinks the existing First Amendment immunizes her against criticism, but that she thinks a better First Amendment would do so.

    With respect to your third bullet point, I disagree with you about Sherrod. Sherrod was traduced, was slandered, should have received due process before any decision was made about her employment (instead of being railroaded), and should not have been fired – but if the claims made by Breitbart had been true (never a likely circumstance), if Sherrod actually had addressed an audience saying that in the performance of her public duties she decided whether to assist clients based on their race, that would absolutely have been a firing offense (after due process), and the First Amendment should not and would not have protected her.

  19. 1. (Warren): “I have no idea whence your first bullet-point about counter-suing arose.
    From your link:…
    (C&L): “Alas, the same Right to Free Speech did not extend to her critics. When various bloggers and media outlets published reports that the Alaska Governor might be the subject of a criminal investigation, Sarah Palin threatened to sue.
    2. We agree that a “Constitutional Right to Free Speech” does not include a right to immunity or termination from private sector employment for the expression of unpopular opinions. Maybe. How do you feel about a business using political beliefs or religious beliefs to determine employee qualifications? Anyway, I do not support the usage that equates “Constitutional” with “I prefer”, so here I agree with C&L, although that is a common rhetorical device (e.g., Brennan’s assertion of a “constitutional” right to abortion).
    3.(Warren): “ although I’ve focused on what Palin said about other “victims”, meaning of course for her audience to draw lessons about Palin herself, let’s not overlook what she did say about herself:

    If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.

    (Warren): “To be sure, this is a little different from either of the other two examples. I don’t think she’s quite saying that she has a First Amendment right not to be criticized here; instead, she seems to be saying that the First Amendment perhaps should be abolished if the press criticizes her and people like her. So perhaps the correct answer isn’t that she thinks the existing First Amendment immunizes her against criticism, but that she thinks a better First Amendment would do so.
    I did not get that. To me it sounds like a complaint about the popular erosion of toleration of opposition views, which may lead to a legal environment in which the First Amendment protection of free speech is a dead letter.

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