Viva Pelosi!

Pelosi: latest debt-ceiling offer one of the worst GOP ideas: “with stiff competition always.”

As a Baltimorean, I have long thought that only three immortals had ever come out of my native city: Brooks Robinson, Ray Berry, and H.L. Mencken. (No, I’m not forgetting Poe; I only wish I could.)

But Nancy Pelosi surely deserves a place in that Hall of Fame. Just getting Obamacare through puts her in the Sam Rayburn class of Speakers, but she’s never been known as one of the great Washington wits. Today, however, the House Republicans, looking at polls suggesting that their current antics might actually cost them their majority next year, made an offer: a six-week debt-ceiling extension, coupled with a permanent change to deny the Treasury the flexibility without which we would have defaulted last May. Pelosi didn’t miss a beat. She called it one of the Republicans’ worst ideas: “with stiff competition always.”

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:

38 thoughts on “Viva Pelosi!”

        1. Edward Everett Horton? Stuart Symington? Alger Hiss? (Ok, sorry about that one.) But wait: No Johnny Unitas? Come on! (I’d add Cal Ripken, but I think that my brother got it right: the headlines should have read “‘B’ Student Sets Record for Attendance.)

    1. The Babe, and Johnny Unitas (nominated below) were both stellar natural athletes. But that’s about where it stopped; personally, they seem to have been a pair of slobs. Robinson and Berry, by contrast, seem to have been excellent human beings, and more dependent on hard work than on inborn talent; Berry, for example, was both nearsighted and lame.

      To be fair to Ruth, however, he was the author (or supposed author) of one of the great comeback lines. Asked in 1930 whether he wasn’t ashamed to be making more than the President of the United States, the Babe is supposed to have replied, “What does Hoover have to do with it? Anyway, I had a better year than he did.”

  1. Yeah, a six-week extension?!? Great idea…

    The Republicans are certainly counting on the Stockholm syndrome kicking in if they think the hostages are happy to keep the crisis going that much longer.

    I know capitalism’s a rip-off for most of us, but government by extortion is taking things too far.

  2. Certainly the line ‘you have to pass it to find out what’s in it’ will live forever. It’s at least as good as ‘I am not a crook’.

    1. Well, sure, if you rip it out of context. Then again, you are the guy who said, “You will live forever as a crook.”

  3. …coupled with a permanent change to deny the Treasury the flexibility without which we would have defaulted last May.

    A stupid idea for sure.
    Like giving Osama bin Laden security clearance into a nuclear reactor complex.

    As far as “stiff competition” goes…
    I vote for the “small government model for the 21st century” as the biggest dollop of dog dirt every passed off by conserva-libertarian goofs as ambergris.

    Small government? Yeah right: S as in Salmonella, Small pox, and Somalia.
    Let’s do Salmonella first:

    We’re 10 days now into the federal shutdown and three days since the announcement of a major foodborne outbreak in chicken that is challenging the shutdown-limited abilities of the food-safety and disease-detective personnel at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration and Department of Agriculture. Here’s an update. The CDC has been able to bring back a few personnel to work on this — but only a few. Meanwhile, the Salmonella causing the outbreak has been shown to be multiple strains, several of which are resistant to multiple families of antibiotics.

    Ahhh… the beautiful smell of small government!
    Smells like gold-plated whale waste freshly sprayed with beta-ionone doesn’t it?

  4. The obituary of Rep. Justin Amash’s amendment to claw back the sweeping powers of the National Security Agency has largely been written as a victory for the White House and NSA chief Keith Alexander, who lobbied the Hill aggressively in the days and hours ahead of Wednesday’s shockingly close vote. But Hill sources say most of the credit for the amendment’s defeat goes to someone else: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. It’s an odd turn, considering that Pelosi has been, on many occasions, a vocal surveillance critic.

    But ahead of the razor-thin 205-217 vote, which would have severely limited the NSA’s ability to collect data on Americans’ telephone records if passed, Pelosi privately and aggressively lobbied wayward Democrats to torpedo the amendment, a Democratic committee aid with knowledge of the deliberations tells The Cable.

    “Pelosi had meetings and made a plea to vote against the amendment and that had a much bigger effect on swing Democratic votes against the amendment than anything Alexander had to say,” said the source, keeping in mind concerted White House efforts to influence Congress by Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. “Had Pelosi not been as forceful as she had been, it’s unlikely there would’ve been more Democrats for the amendment.”

    1. Poe didn’t “come out of” Baltimore in any meaningful sense. At least the athletes Mark mentions had long, long associations with Baltimore, although they came from elsewhere. Poe happened to die in Baltimore, at the end of a peripatetic life during which he lived in Baltimore now and then, briefly. If he can be said to have come out of anywhere, it would be Richmond.

      Anyway, I agree with Keith. Poe was a great writer of stories. His poetry is kind of embarrassing now, although I loved it when I was a kid. Arthur Conan Doyle did Poe the honor of stealing Dupin to create Sherlock Holmes. Poe’s Gothic tales are highly entertaining. I think I know what I’ll be reading tonight.

      But I second Mark’s toast to the once and future Speaker.

  5. I would like to nominate the Harrisons, father and son, to your Bawlmer Hall of Fame. Great athletes and greater role models for African-American youth.

    Also, Bill O’Donnell, the greatest baseball radio play-by-play guy who ever lived. Many fond memories of summer nights with a bushel of crabs, lots of Nat Primo, and the O’s game on a crappy portable radio.

  6. We always called ourselves “Baldamorons”. I don’t know a native that doesn’t pronounce the “t” as a “d”. It’s Baldamore.

      1. I’ve been away 25 years, but grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and most of my family’s still there. I’ve never heard a “t” in Ballmer, and there’s a “d” only when expanded to “Baldamorons”. And definitely no “y” or “d” in Marelan.

        1. @Kevin,
          Remember this old ditty?

          I don’t give a damn about the whole state of Marelan
          Whole state of Marelan, Whole state of Marelan
          I don’t give a damn about the whole state of Marelan
          I’m from the Eastern Shore

        2. Or “Murrelin.” I’m sure there must be other accents even more obnoxious than Bawlmer, but that’s the one I grew up with, so that’s the one I most despise.

  7. To Keith’s point, he also is credited to developing science fiction. He wrote some novella I believe of traveling to the South China sea…

    Also Mark, doesn’t Johns Hopkins deserve a B-more shout-out?!? He was this great liberal of the nineteenth century, created a great business, left the US with a great university and hospital system, abolitionist, etc…


    1. I think you’re talking about The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. I’ve read it. It’s a long way from EAP’s best work. Although some claim it was influential on Jules Verne, I don’t see it myself, nor would I classify it as science fiction of any sort.

  8. Seriously folks. No love for Frederick Douglass?? Sure he was born on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, but he lived in Baltimore from the age of 8 to 20. He probably would have stayed except for that whole, you know, having to be someone’s slave thing.

    Robinson, Berry, and Ruth are fine but they played a sport. Frederick Douglass was FREDERICK FREAKING DOUGLASS!!! I know Pelosi is witty, but, c’mon, compared to Douglass she is Mortimer Snerd.

  9. Adolphus:

    Thanks for adding that nugget about Douglass. I knew he was a slave in ruarl MD, but didn’t know he was a resident of B-More…


  10. Pelosi will also have to answer to history for the failure to impeach George W. Bush when she had him in her sights.

    1. I wanted that useless excuse for a human being (43) impeached and convicted.

      The votes were not in the Senate to convict Bushie. Pelosi knew it, and didn’t pull the trigger.

      Besides, if the votes were there, President Cheney? Really? You wanted President Cheney?

  11. C’mon guys, Billie Holiday? Nobody came up with Billie Holiday? How about a shout out for David Simon?

  12. Yes, I seem to have missed a few tricks. Billie Holliday for sure. Frederick Douglass if you think his Baltimore connection was strong enough.

    Yes, Poe invented both the detective story and science fiction, but I find his prose as unreadable as his poetry (though I admit that my adolescent admiration for “The Conqueror Worm,” – which I first encountered in the Worm-Runner’s Digest – lingers).

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