Where are the incumbents?

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Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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86 Responses

  1. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    George Schultz has been saying this since at least 1998, so it’s not like he’s suddenly reversing on anything.

    And, during Kofi Annan’s tenure, the US was kicked out of the UN’s HRC and INCB. So it doesn’t really seem like Annan was a hawk on the Drug War issue.Report

  2. Avatar WardSmith says:

    It is exactly as Kain said in a prior thread on education, and as I said here but can’t remember where exactly, police forces would shrink by roughly 20% if there weren’t a “war on drugs” as their raison d’etre. What would happen to society if 20% of the police force were suddenly unemployed (and pissed off about it)?Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to WardSmith says:

      So basically we’re hostages?

      You’re mighty candid about it. I find that… refreshing.Report

    • Avatar Simon K in reply to WardSmith says:

      There would be plenty of job opportunities in a thriving sector were many of them appear to have excellent contacts.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to WardSmith says:

      Seriously, cops strike me as eminantly employable and 20% of the police force suddenly unemployed and pissed? Sorry, not a national threat.Report

      • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to North says:

        And the flip side is all those drug dealers—criminals—put out of work.

        We cannot build enough McDonalds or grant enough Obamacare waivers to absorb them all!Report

        • Avatar North in reply to tom van dyke says:

          Tom, they can go onto the space on the unemployment rolls left when all kinds of people leave the to take jobs in the legal drug industry.

          Anyhow, keeping Mexican meth labs or cocaine mules probably isn’t a winning campaign message.Report

          • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to North says:

            Mr. North, I was being glib, but this discussion did make me think about how legalization would destabilize some of the narco-economies in the world.

            The problem isn’t the drugs themselves, it’s the murder and terror that goes along with it. Columbia has made strides; Mexico has gotten worse.

            So, when growing coca or weed is no more profitable than growing corn or coffee, what happens with all the easy-living bad guys for whom murder is just another way to make a living? Do they put down the guns and pick up a plow, and everything becomes hunky-dory?

            I don’t have an answer, but starting at the beginning, why things are the way they are, is the best place to start. It occurs to me that these narco-economies are tolerated by their governments for more reason than just corruption and big money. As long as the Bad Guys only kill each other and feed the heads of America’s bohemians—and inject outside money into the local economy in the process—it’s not really an existential problem.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to tom van dyke says:

              They’ll make abortion illegal and the cops can spend all of their time busting abortion clinics.

              So, technically, we need to keep the war on drugs going for the sake of womens’ rights.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to tom van dyke says:

              People are self interested and on economic levels somewhat rational. If the Americans stop paying bundles of bucks for wads of plant chemicals the various third world cartels and work forces currently dedicated to supplying that demand will disperse and do a great variety of other things (some legal, some not). But whatever they do it generally isn’t our problem.
              Perhaps, if the natural resources of those countries are good for it, they’ll end up cultivating legal versions of the stuff they peddle today. But even if they do it won’t be worth anything like what it’s worth now with the risk premium removed.
              You can’t really take on the government with 3% profit margin goods. You wouldn’t want to either. With 3000% profit margin goods on the other hand you’d probably be crazy not to.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to North says:

                North: Just sayin’ the criminals will find their 3000% profit margins elsewhere and it won’t be pretty for their home countries. Or at least the possibility of that.

                I was looking at the global equation, the UN, etc., per the OP, not just the US and what’s “not our problem.”

                Also, today:

                http://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/front-page/oxi-new-drug-terrifies-brazil/#

                As for crack, I had a studio on skid row during the epidemic. Bad shit went down, man, and I don’t mean the retail end, I mean the human carnage. Dunno if anybody who lived with it wants those days back.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to tom van dyke says:

                Dude, *WHERE*???

                Because, seriously, if there’s 3000% profits to be made somewhere, I want to get in before the drug dealers get there.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Jaybird says:

                JB, 3000%+ profit margins: Extortion, burglary, hijacking, armed robbery, human trafficking, sex slavery. C’mon, brother, you’re an imaginative fellow. Hell, armed insurrection, create a state within a state. A Somalia on every corner.

                I’m not being glib here now.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to tom van dyke says:

                That market is already saturated.Report

              • Not by a long shot, JB. There is always room for more crime. Pls, man, no more drive-bys in response to a considered reply. They have not profited you, I looked the story you’ve been telling today.

                Criminals need work, and it ain’t what we call work.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to tom van dyke says:

                “Just sayin’ the criminals will find their 3000% profit margins elsewhere and it won’t be pretty for their home countries.”

                Yes, just look at how Canada became a crime-ridden hellhole when Prohibition was repealed.Report

              • Is “reliable conservative” DD coming out for legalizing drugs?

                How cool. However, I have difficulty comparing Canada to anything in the real world exc Oz and NZ. If the US had been like any of those 3, we’d all be speaking German, Japanese and/or Communiss—at least bilingually.

                And yes, I argue that as fact, not glibness. And no, DD, I don’t accept Canada and Prohibition as a necessary counterargument to mine. The polity of these narco-economies is far more fragile and their tipping points far closer to the skin.Report

      • Avatar Trumwill in reply to North says:

        And in any event, I am relatively certain we could find something for the cops to do.Report

    • Not sure I buy that “suddenly” bit. Sure, there would probably be far less reason to employ quite so many law enforcement personnel, but I imagine the decrease will be more gradual.Report

  3. Avatar Ryan B says:

    Remember when Dick Cheney came out as a supporter of same-sex marriage? Was that one day after he left office and was able to do something about it, or was it two?Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Ryan B says:

      I’d thought Cheney let it be known, quietly, that he opposed GWB on this issue even while still in office. I’m having trouble finding it right now though.Report

      • Avatar Ryan B in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        Either way, he didn’t actually do anything about it when he had one of the largest megaphones in the country. I guess my only point is that I’m not convinced it’s because no one wants to admit they’re presiding over something that’s dumb/evil, or at least that it’s not *just* that. It’s also that these people fundamentally don’t care about other people’s lives as much as they care about their own careers.Report

        • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Ryan B says:

          > It’s also that these people fundamentally don’t
          > care about other people’s lives as much as they
          > care about their own careers.

          I took a class last term focused on crisis management. The professor mentioned being at a leadership conference in Europe with a lot of ex-politicians, Prime Ministers and the like. At one point, the academics at the table asked the politicos why they hadn’t implemented some policy that was under discussion, when everyone had been in agreement that the policy was probably a good idea. The politicians all sort of looked at the academics like they had collectively grown an extra head, and said, “Because we wouldn’t have been re-elected”.Report

          • Avatar Freddy "Chopsticks" Chopin in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

            “It’s also that these people fundamentally don’t
            > care about other people’s lives as much as they
            > care about their own careers.”

            Is there anything on God’s green earth that is wrong with that? Why should or would anyone care or be burdened by someone else’s life at the expense of their own?

            Life is so much more interesting and complex than being oppressively anchored down with the banalities of same-sex marriage. Who cares, really? To be honest, I don’t know of anyone. The satiated SSM subject is a done deal. Please let us move on. Jumping the shark is not an eternal option.

            Has anyone ever done a survey that overwhelmingly shows Americans prefer marriage as defined as a union between one man and one woman? Why this endless rocking the boat?

            For what it’s worth, I say, open the floodgates. I’d also say I love Oscar Wilde. And I just love, “youth is wasted on the young”!Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        There’s this, which suggests that Cheney, given the opportunity to discus the politics of his daughter’s preference, would prefer to use his basilisk glare to kill the questioner.Report

  4. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    The problem, and nothing I have to say about this is particularly new, is that there is a large, organized, and well-motivated constituency for maintaining the war on drugs and an inchoate, poorly-organized constituency for decriminalization.

    Furthermore, the public is easily persuaded by arguments containing elements of fear: fear drugs! If drugs are legalized your kids will all become addicts and wasterels! (Never mind that they are likely already addicts and wasterels, assuming that they’re the type to become addicted in the first place.)

    And the argument that “drugs are bad but legalizing them is the best way to minimize their badness” contains an element of contradiction. Someone who is already skeptical or fearful of drugs will have difficulty getting past that element of it and seeing that the illegality of drugs is a significant contributor to their badness; after all, if something is bad, it should be banned and punished. We aren’t legalizing murder, why should we legallize drugs?

    Politicians respond to political incentives. There seems to be little political incentive to spearheading an effort at decriminalization or legalization. There is, however, a significant political incentive to maintain the status quo. Until and unless the political incentive calculus changes, this is how things are going to be.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Here in AK we have some level of legal pot, but a couple years ago there was a ballot initiative to make it even more legal. Many of proponents for making it completely legal kept pushing that Hemp had all sorts of handy uses such as rope and clothing. While that may be true nobody took it seriously that better rope was the point of making pot completely legal. Also every person i saw collecting signatures for them looked like a stereotypical young pot head. I voted for making it legal but the campaign was clownishly bad.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

      This is why I start talking about Prohibition and alcohol and the Irish.

      People understand that alcohol prohibition was a bad thing even though they don’t think that people should get drunk and beat their wives/children. You can even argue stuff like “well, I think that *BEER* is okay, maybe wine if it’s only sold on Fridays or something, but not *GIN*” or, my favorite, “you want alcohol to be legal? Do you want children drinking it at the school cafeterias???”

      The problem is that there are fewer and fewer folks who have heard first-hand stories of Prohibition and more and more folks who think that, sure, Prohibition was bad but it could have worked if people just were more virtuous and had more staying power.Report

      • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

        > More and more folks who think that, sure, Prohibition
        > was bad but it could have worked if people just were
        > more virtuous and had more staying power.

        More and more folks? Who are these folks? They’re not gettin’ my beer from me, dagum.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

        Yeah but plenty of people have stories of their son,daughter, wife, husband, father, mother having their life destroyed by meth, coke, etc. Those stories matter to. I completely agree that the WOD creates all sorts of problems and we should move away from that. But that argument doesn’t address the suffering of addicts and their families. Drugs do and would do terrible things to people regardless of their legal status. To often the legalization proponents come of as smug and clueless because they don’t seem to want to acknowledge how dangerous many drugs are and that all the bad stuff that comes from drugs is not just from the WOD. A better push for legalization should come with a pile of money for more drug rehabs and intervention programs.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

          “My husband went blind drinking whisky that contained wood alcohol. AND NOW YOU WANT IT LEGAL???”Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

            So are you trying to prove my point for me?Report

            • Avatar North in reply to greginak says:

              Greg, what Jay is pointing out is that whisky containing wood alcohol ended up consumed primarily because of alcohol prohibition. Amateur criminal distillers couldn’t keep the killer poison from mixing in with the fun poison (and let’s be honest, alcohol is a poison; that’s why your body responds the way it does when you drink it). Now that alcohol production is generally legal the incidences of wood alcohol poisoning from commercial grade whisky has to be near on zero and if it isn’t zero you can be sure that the poison victims family can sue the hell out of the producer.

              Right now recreational illegal drugs get cut with ground up moth balls, rat poison and all sorts of other crap. You can’t go suing the Crips for selling your brother some toxic blow and while you can report them to the cops what will they do; try extra hard to fine the Crips for unsafe production facilities?

              As far as I can see there is only one argument from the left against drug legalization that has any molecule of sense: That corporations would somehow be worse purveyors of recreational drugs/market them more/make them more addictive. But even that depends on a significant amount of conspiracy mongering and suggests a rather unleftish lack of faith in the power of governments to regulate.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to North says:

                I understood Jay’s point. However even if we regulate and make drugs safer, which i would be all for, some drugs might be really difficult to make safer. I doubt meth or free based coke could ever be safe. I’ve had this discussion with Jay in the past, i suggested most drugs should be legalized and regulated but some are likely to difficult to be made safe or unsafe to produce like meth. Apparently that means i favor prohibition.

                To many people for legalization don’t seem to be able to see, or at least express, that many people want drugs illegal because they are often unsafe and dangerous completely aside from WOD affects. Even making them legal may not change this. There is a smugness that if only those people could understand what we know then they would see things our way.

                If drug legalization proponents want more success, and i am one those, we need to be clear what it means in terms of regulation and safety as well pouring money into drug rehab. I have no doubt there are plenty of ideologues as the drug legalization side that would object to regulations and having the gov steal there money to give to rehabs.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                So we should make whisky, vodka, and gin illegal even if we can debate the legalization of beer and wine on their merits?

                When prohibition was being discussed, the prohibitors made all kinds of promises about the benefits society would see.

                These benefits did not arrive.

                When prohibition’s end was being discussed, the prohibitors made all kinds of promises that the repeal would be worse than prohibition.

                These promises turned out to not be kept.

                I’ve seen this movie, Greg. The only thing keeping me on the edge of my seat is I’m wondering when someone will make an appeal on behalf of The Children.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Nice to use the standard “the children” appeal. its a classic. You are still making my point. I’m all for ending the WOD as i’ve said many times. But that does not mean there isn’t a need for regulation, more drug rehab and maybe some drugs are just to dangerous. I’m guessing you will equate meth with wine and tell me somehow i favor prohibition.

                What kind of regs would you favor?
                Would you be for pumping money into drug rehab?

                Up here in AK we have a lot of very remote Native villages with no road access at all. Many take a flight or two and hours to get to along with long long winters. As with most Native Americans many of the villages have huge problems with alchol abuse and huffing. Some of these villages have decided booze has done to much damage so they made it illegal. This was completely a local decisions by the locals based on seeing decades of alcohol abuse and what that has caused. I’m not for prohibition but i can’t argue with their desire to do something to prevent another generation being lost.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to greginak says:

                Greginak, I’m sympathetic to the argument that it’s dangerous to a degree but only to a very limited one because it ignores the distortions caused by prohibition. Consider crack. Why on earth did people start doing crack? It’s toxic, hyper addictive and easily laced with horrible stuff. Cocaine is considerably safer in comparison. Answer: Cocaine was illegal and expensive. But with a modest amount of cocaine and an assortment of other crap you could make a butt load of crack. Prohibition created crack. It also created entire families of hard liquor during the prohibition era; if you’re gonna get busted why get busted for wine when you can get just as busted for gin?
                Meth and crystal meth came about for similar reasons. People were hunting for alternatives to expensive illegal highs. We can’t even guess how many of the horrible poison drugs rolling around today would simply vanish from the market if the less dangerous means of obtaining highs became cheaper and safer. There’s just a mind bogglingly spectacular potential for decreasing harm present in legalization.

                And I am a liberal, I’d be all for vigorous rehab programs and the like. Though we probably have to accept that some people are just born to be cracked out bums. The substance changes but the bums stay the same.

                Personally I find myself much more sympathetic to more local prohibitions; they’re more connected to the will of the residents and improve the ability of law enforcement to enforce. There are still dry counties in the US held over from prohibition if my memory serves. Hell, getting the Feds out of drug prohibiting doesn’t mean communities couldn’t ban them.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                I’m fine with the idea of “dry counties”. Sure.

                There are still handfuls of those silly little things scattered around the South.

                We could easily have… what would the term be? “Nancy Counties” has connotations that I’m pretty sure we want to avoid (despite the “Just Say No” thing).

                Huffing??? My god, man. It’s like you’re talking about the evils of bathtub gin as reasons to keep prohibition.Report

              • Avatar WardSmith in reply to greginak says:

                Why don’t those local native villages encourage pot instead of alcohol? Seems to me they could even get state if not federal funding to do a study or 10. Of course the PTB wouldn’t be very happy about it.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to greginak says:

                “But that does not mean there isn’t a need for regulation, more drug rehab and maybe some drugs are just to dangerous. ”

                AA and MADD have government sponsorship. There are age limits on the purchase, provision, and consumption of alcohol; there are also severe restrictions on post-consumption behavior, e.g. operating motor vehicles. And there is extremely punitive enforcement of these laws.

                Again: If it’s okay to sell whiskey in grocery stores (and beer at gas stations!) then we have to admit that we’ve solved the problem of selling intoxicant drugs for unmonitored recreational use. Hell, I’ve got a perfectly-legal stimulant drug sitting here on my desk, in a glass with ice, and I didn’t even have to show ID to buy it!Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to greginak says:

                DD: “Hell, I’ve got a perfectly-legal stimulant drug sitting here on my desk, in a glass with ice, and I didn’t even have to show ID to buy it!”

                Cheers!Report

              • However even if we regulate and make drugs safer, which i would be all for, some drugs might be really difficult to make safer. I doubt meth or free based coke could ever be safe.

                In addition to what North is saying (which I fully second), there’s a big difference between “safer” and “safe.” It would not be difficult at all for legalization to make any drug, no matter how nasty, “safer,” as a not-insignificant part of the worst effects of even the most dangerous of drugs comes from the stuff that gets added or done because of the black market status. So, as North pointed out, you get crack; you also get people making meth in their basements; and this says nothing about crap that dealers might add in just to up their profit margin, which may either make the drug more toxic or may create purity variations that encourage ODs.

                And even if the drugs somehow didn’t become at least marginally “less dangerous” (ie, it somehow turns out that drug users actually prefer to have weird shit diluting their drugs in unknown amounts) at least legalization would eliminate the incentives that make drugs become ever-more dangerous.

                This, however, is not how the politics works. Instead, we are bombarded with specious claims about how we can’t possibly legalize pot because it’s like 80 million times stronger now than it was in the 1960s, as if, even were these claims believable, they would not have anything to do with the failures of prohibition. In reality, claims about how drugs are becoming more dangerous and thus cannot be made legal amount to arguing that “Prohibition is making drugs more dangerous; therefore, it is more important than ever that we continue Prohibition.”Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                I completely agree. I still think drug legalization proponents miss the honest fear people have and damage drugs have done which our answer does not seem like a clear solution. Legalize drugs so people can have New Improved Safer Crack is a really really hard sell. And it isn’t a hard sell because all those people who don’t agree with us are dim.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to greginak says:

                > I still think drug legalization proponents
                > miss the honest fear people have
                > and damage drugs have done which
                > our answer does not seem like a
                > clear solution.

                There are two problems with this statement.

                One, people have an honest fear of airline travel. It’s completely blown out of proportion to the actual risk and largely a silly thing to spend anybody’s money mitigating. That doesn’t mean they don’t honestly feel their fear: it just means that their fear is something they’re going to have to get over.

                The fear of drugs is largely the same.

                The second problem is that your statement is assuming that there *is* “a solution” to the situation of drug use. If there is a solution, then by gum we ought to use it, I’d agree.

                However, if there isn’t a solution, then passing over “making a bad situation less worse” because it’s not “making a bad situation go away” is not only making the perfect the enemy of the good, it’s deliberately trying to keep the bad around on account of we’re squeamish, which is rank cowardice.

                I’m inclined not only to believe that it is unlikely that there is a solution, but also that it’s flatly impossible.Report

  5. Avatar Koz says:

    This is a great point, and it goes beyond the Drug War as well. Notice you have pretty much the same thing going on with the budget fight too. All the Demo or “establishment” players who either support some kind of budget cuts or have made favorable news about them aren’t working for the government.

    It’s not just a matter of being elected. I’m not sure where the best chance of that happening for the D’s is anyway. They can defend government spending but they’re also going to have to own up to 10% unemployment or whatever it will be a year from now.

    The bigger issue is institutional power and control. Going the other way on the Drug War and the budget fight will represent a loss of institutional control and that is a really big under the radar issue. In particular, it puts Congressmen and Senators, cabinet Secretaries various high-level executive branch employees, and Congressional staff all on the same side.

    The former eminence-grise types don’t have the personal investment in institutional control any more, so they can go their own way a little bit.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

      Aw come on Koz that’s a crock. Democrats from Obama all the way down the chain have endorsed spending cuts of various types. They just want to couple it with revenue increasing via either increased taxes or closed tax loopholes. There’s only one party in DC that is insisting on a purist 100% solution and that’s the GOP who are insisting on 100% spending cuts with a caveat that none of their current boomer supporters have to swallow the pain of it.Report

      • Avatar Koz in reply to North says:

        Well, for the purpose of this thread my point was that’s why the D’s who have advocated spending cuts are the ones not in office (Rivlin, Bowles, etc).

        You’re talking about the bigger picture that we’ve gone over before. As far as that goes, there’s nothing about budget cuts that requires tax increases as a contingency. That’s the problem the D’s have to face. They would like it to be so for the sake of horse-trading with the GOP, but it’s not. And the GOP isn’t biting. Let’s just see what the D’s can come up with for budget cuts and bank that.

        Also there was a big vote the other day in the House of Representatives. Substantively it might not mean much but it was a huge morale boost for the GOP. 80-some Demo Congressmen voted with the GOP against the “clean” debt ceiling increase. Not more than three weeks ago or six weeks ago or whatever, Jonathan Chait was urging the D’s to make that their drop-dead position, and they can’t even get more than 60% of the Demo’s to vote for it.

        You add that together with increasing Demo unemployment (which people are going to be getting tired of in a big hurry), you can see why the D’s are getting scared.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

          Yes and big picture or small your point would be flat out factually incorrect. Every Dem in office from Obama down has advocated spending cuts coupled with revenue increases (either tax hikes, sun setting of tax cuts or closing of loopholes).
          And if we’re talking about developments I recall a recent special election that turned out very interesting, sort of a Scott Brown written blue? I suppose that never occurred in your world no?Report

          • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to North says:

            Mr. North, pls forward a link to the Dem budget, I’d like a look at it. This is snark, but sincere snark.

            Donald Trump’s political-game analysis had it right, in saying that the Ryan budget was a sitting duck for Dem demagoguery, as it’s the only one out there.

            There are no competing Dem-Rep visions, only Ryan [affirmative] and Dem [attack]. Just the way the left likes it. Attack, attack.

            And frankly, the way the GOP country club establishment likes it—no affirmative argument, only attacking Obama, or resting quiet with the status quo. This is the current crisis.

            & pls don’t offer the piecemeal of Obamacare or vague mumblings on cutting Defense or taxing “the rich” as if that’ll do it. I’m asking for a budget, a plan, an affirmative argument that offers itself up to criticism and demagoguery as Ryan’s has.

            Hey, let’s see the budget—DoD cuts, ObamaCare, eating the rich. Where the numbers add up.

            You and I both know such a thing does not exist, and so, the current national discussion is not a competition in the marketplace of ideas, but sophistry, politics and BS.

            Show us the numbers. You know as well as I do that the Dems refuse to make a move. And this comes from a Republican who gives Bill Clinton his props as a deficit hawk. And do you know what Bill Clinton just said to Paul Ryan?

            “Give me a call.”

            http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/05/bill-clinton-to-paul-ryan-on-medicare-election-give-me-a-call-.html

            And I bet Ryan will. He remains the only serious man in American politics. I can’t believe that one man & his staff— a lousy congressman at that not even a senator—managed to have the guts and wherewithal to put out a budget and a plan for the future where the entire rest of the mass and might of the American gov’t cannot.

            I’m really not trying to punk you with this, Mr. North. Them’s the facts. Only one man has put out numbers, the rest just put out talk. They say talk is cheap, but it’s actually damn expensive.

            😉Report

            • Avatar North in reply to tom van dyke says:

              Aw Tom, I’ll happily agree that the Dems are sitting on the budget issue right now in favor of attacking. It’s playing politics and certainly I’m not happy about it myself. I understand it but I don’t think it’s healthy in the long run.

              Considering, though, that it’s almost exactly the stunt the GOP pulled on healthcare; attack attack with no affirmative arguement.

              As for no possible budget existing other than Ryans right wing wankery well I don’t believe that for a moment. They’re presumably sitting on a budget, probably several budgets waiting to see what they can get away with and whether they can make hay with Ryan all the way to the election. We know, though, in general what the Dems would like: various cuts to GOP sacred cows (subsidies, defense etc), shallower cuts to entitlements and tax increases (preferably to constituencies outside Obama’s idiotic pledge though everyone knows there’s not enough money there).

              I don’t feel punked Tom, rest assured. I’m not very happy about the Dem strategy but like I said I understand it. We’ll ultimately see how it washes out when it goes to the voters.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to North says:

                “They’re presumably sitting on a budget, probably several budgets waiting to see what they can get away with and whether they can make hay with Ryan all the way to the election.”

                Great, let me help. The D’s can get away with spending cuts almost anywhere. Generic tax increases are off the table. Eliminating tax expenditures are a gray area.

                As far as making Hay on Ryan, good luck. You know, I write about Demo unemployment for a reason. It’s not like we have a magical unemployment fairy who leaves us unemployment instead of a quarter in return for a loose tooth. No, we have specific policy choices made by Democrats against the Republicans and in the case of Obama health care bill against the mobilized wishes of the American people as well. The Demo’s think they can gin up fear of the Republicans. I have my doubts.

                But we should want to anyway. Let’s vote Republican, cut spending and punish liberals and hope there’s enough time left for it to matter.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

                Yes I’m sure the GOP in their fantasy world think that. We’ll see what happens in the real world instead but there’s nothing off the table in the real world. Just in Grover’s fevered imagination.

                But I’ll happily agree with you on one issue. The Democrats should really come out with their own budget proposal; it wouldn’t take much of one to make Ryan’s offer look bad. Alas, I suspect that they’ve decided to run this out to the election which is a pity since it sure makes debating on the internet more difficult.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to North says:

                I dunno, North. In the real world I expect there to be some kind of deal to increase the debt ceiling within the next couple of months. I expect that deal will have some amount of expenditure reductions and no significant tax increases (again, tax expenditures are a gray area, there might be some of these).

                There’s no traction for the D hopes that spending cuts have to be contingent on tax increases. There’s no logical contingency between them, there’s no outside-game political support for tax increases. The D’s are being increasingly associated in the public’s mind with the unemployment their policies have created, so President Obama and Sen. Reid or whoever don’t have the institutional muscle to force tax increases.Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to tom van dyke says:

              “Them’s the facts. Only one man has put out numbers, the rest just put out talk. They say talk is cheap, but it’s actually damn expensive.”

              No shit. People are going to be getting real tired of Demo unemployment right quick. The question is, will there be enough resources and time left when the GOP has the power to act?Report

            • Avatar dexter in reply to tom van dyke says:

              Mr. TVD, Try typing “progressive caucus budget” into surfer page. I would be interested in what you think about it.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to dexter says:

                Mr. Dexter, the Progressive Caucus Budget isn’t supported by its own party, let alone normal people. It’s wank, not wonk.

                What’s wack is the Dem-controlled senate has not passed a normal budget in over 2 years. Even Mr. North concedes this is playing politics—again, the strategy is to attack their critics, not present an affirmative vision for the nation.

                But there’s playing politics [understandable], and then there’s dereliction of duty, and the latter looms.Report

          • Avatar Koz in reply to North says:

            “Coupled with” is bogus rationalization, and the D’s are losing plausible deniability for it. Let the D’s argue that every particle of spending is necessary, that there’s nowhere to be cut.

            Btw North, check this out. Not only does it appear that we’re getting closer to a Treasury downgrade (which you said could never happen IIRC), it also undercuts the D’s tactical plan for the last two weeks or so, “ZOMG the Republicans have to increase the debt ceiling or the world will end.”

            At this point I think the ball is in our court. The trick is going to be asking for something smart in return for increasing the debt ceiling, which frankly the GOP has dropped the ball on so far. (I’m thinking sh*tcanning PPACA personally.) In any case, there’s a lot of choices.

            As far as the NY special election goes, that’s why I think this last vote was so important. I don’t think special election was anywhere near the same vicinity as Scott Brown, but it clearly wasn’t good for the GOP. Combined with the poor reception for Medicare changes, and you might think that the Republicans were about to wobble. But then this happened. What a break. It’s one think to think the other side of the aisle are a bunch of hacks, it’s another to know it for a cold fact.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

              The last vote on Congress struck me as empty symbology if that’s what you’re referring to. Though, considering how the GOP was able to steal the game on messaging the last time Obama played policy, it’s no wonder they’re trying it again. Though let the record show that while they did poison the public on health care reform subject they still lost the policy battle.

              I’m all for deficit reduction, as are most of the lefties you find here along with most of the ones in DC. Some combination of entitlement reform, discretionary spending and tax increases (or loophole closing) is the obvious eventual outcome. When/whether the GOP is going to wake up from their fever dream and start bargaining rather than demanding outright capitulation is the only question in my mind. Well along with whether Obama is going to cling his hope-change-bipartisan shtick again if things get down to hard ball once Gethner starts running low on accounting tricks. Right now they’re just maneuvering, if it wasn’t such serious business I’d wish for some popcorn.

              And I’ll restate that I’m certain that no downgrade will happen. I’ll very unhappily eat crow in the event that it does happen though I doubt you’ll be reciprocating if it doesn’t since you can always claim infinitely that it is “about to happen”. Such is the convenience of your position. It’d be nice if we had a leftwing apparatchik version of you at the League instead of a cynic like me so I could let the two of you argue out and spend my time on other subjects.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to North says:

                “It’d be nice if we had a leftwing apparatchik version of you at the League instead of a cynic like me so I could let the two of you argue out and spend my time on other subjects.”

                Oh darn. And here I was hoping that you were going to help the economy instead of creating more Demo unemployment. Really North, at some point it will be less fun worrying about how I’m going to respond instead of simply catching up to reality. We did it your way, and these are the consequences.

                “Though, considering how the GOP was able to steal the game on messaging the last time Obama played policy, it’s no wonder they’re trying it again. Though let the record show that while they did poison the public on health care reform subject they still lost the policy battle.”

                Like here. It wasn’t the GOP who poisoned the public on health care. It was the D’s who heard the voters’ voice loud and clear and decided to rape them anyway. Not coincidentally, PPACA significantly increases taxes and government expenditures and now we have Demo unemployment which is high and rising.

                If you’re actually for deficit reduction. Here’s an idea, repeal PPACA. You can even keep the tax hikes if you want. If you tried that, John Boehner would probably even increase the debt ceiling.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

                I’m not in government Koz ol’ shoe, nor would any Dem in government (or me if I were in their place) accept that kind of nonsense deal. Boehner will go along with raising the debt ceiling and you can be sure there won’t be any repealing of PPACA involved.

                I’ll notice you’ve skittered off behind empty rhetoric on the subject of defaults? I’ve defined when I will admit being wrong on the subject, when will you do likewise?Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to North says:

                Well North, in a bankshot way you are in government. If you and some of the liberal Americans you know said, “F it, I’m voting Republican” we could get expenditures down right away. It wasn’t a completely sure thing that President Obama was going to double down on the welfare state six weeks ago or whenever. A lot of libs were nervous that he wasn’t going to.

                If I were John Boehner, I’d throw PPACA out there for the budget deal. If the Prez says no, say fine, take whatever you get of expenditure cuts for the budget ceiling. Then I’d “repeal” PPACA through defunding it during next year’s budget process. Tell the Prez it’s a fait accompli, we’re not going to discuss the matter any more. He can complain if he wants, shut down whatever he wants to, there’s no part of PPACA that’s getting funded.

                That would have saved $100B this year (I think) probably more next year.

                As far as the default goes, I’m not quite following you. I take it you want me to give some indication of when we’ve beaten the likelihood of Treasury default? Well, if we could run a surplus for one fiscal year, that’d be a good start.Report

  6. Avatar greginak says:

    @North, Jay-I agree with what you say North. I’m for legalizing most drugs as long as they are regulated although i doubt some drugs can be made safe. I don’t think we are disagreeing.

    “Huffing??? My god, man. It’s like you’re talking about the evils of bathtub gin as reasons to keep prohibition.”
    Why do you keep making my point for me. Thanks. I’ve never said i want to keep prohibition. I said many legalization proponents argue poorly and display all sorts of blind spots.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

      I said many legalization proponents argue poorly and display all sorts of blind spots.

      You should see those who argue against them.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird says:

        Be nice Jay, what if you snark at the wrong moment and end up Redstated?Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

        WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN!!

        So what regs would you favor?
        Would you favor spending more money on drug rehabs?
        How does people thinking huffing is dangerous support prohibition? Its more that substance abuse causes problems and legalizing wont’ solve all of them. Many of them yes, but not all.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

          Maybe we could treat it like booze.

          Instead of treating it the way we treated booze in the 1920’s.

          Its more that substance abuse causes problems and legalizing wont’ solve all of them. Many of them yes, but not all.

          My argument is not that we can finally live in utopia if only we ceased Prohibition.

          It’s that the best intentions of the Teetotalers have not resulted in better results than had we ignored them in the first place… instead we’ve created an entire black market economy with associated violence and no one, I mean no one, who wants to get a particular drug is prevented from doing so.

          I mean, they can’t stop people in prison from using drugs. THEY CAN’T KEEP DRUGS OUT OF PRISON.

          My argument is not “ending prohibition will solve all of our problems” but “prohibition has not solved a single problem that you were hoping it would solve and it has, instead, added to our problems and, as such, ending it would take us back to our previous, lower, level of problems”.

          If you want to talk to someone who is promising to end all of your problems, talk to Koz.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

            I can’t tell Jay, was that a response to me? It didn’t respond to anything i said especially since i am in favor of legalization.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

              So what regs would you favor?

              Maybe we could treat it like booze.

              Instead of treating it the way we treated booze in the 1920?s.

              Would you favor spending more money on drug rehabs?

              You can spend your money however you want, Greg. I’m not getting in your way.

              But if you’re talking about the money that we, as a society, spend… I’m pretty sure that if we spent 10% of the money that we spend on the WOD on “rehabs”, we’d have fewer people huffing than we do today. Maybe more of them smoking weed on the weekend… but, hey.

              How does people thinking huffing is dangerous support prohibition?

              You wouldn’t believe what some people believe. They believe stuff like “X is bad” and go from there to “therefore we as a society have a responsibility to do something about it!”

              In the past, this has resulted in, among other things, The War On Drugs.Report

          • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

            “If you want to talk to someone who is promising to end all of your problems, talk to Koz.”

            Au contraire mon frere. It’s not me who’s head is in the clouds here. Various libertarians, centrists, moderates, squishes, “anti-RINO” conservatives (for lack of a better word) are playing Chanson de Roland with the GOP and mainstream conservatives.

            The situation is dire and getting worse, in the meantime we’ll entertain ourselves with all sorts of irrelevant crap instead of doing the one thing that might help.

            We desperately, desperately needed some help for the health care fight. We desperately needed help a couple of months ago when the D’s decided to double down on the welfare state. Now we’re fighting the debt ceiling. After that we’ll be fighting a Presidential election.

            People want to talk about the politics ‘cuz it’s cool and most people can understand the horse-race maneuvering. But in a lot of ways that’s not the most important aspect. All these losses we’ve taken so far have had their consequences, and now we have to find out the hard way that Demo statism brings Demo unemployment. Even if we defeat President Obama for reelection and capture both houses of Congress, things will have deteriorated to the point where it’s going to be hard to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again.

            We need to start winning now, before Election Day.Report

            • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Koz says:

              There is a dime’s worth of difference between the parties. Approx $a trillion’s. Per annum.

              The soc-cons had control of the US gov’t 2001-2007. The “coming” theocracy never came. All that blather amounted to zip, nada, doodah.

              Public broadcasting does exploit its 0.01% of taxpayer funding to further the leftist agenda. Not too much, only what it can get away with—and it does. Its denizens are clever, not stupid. Its critics and would-be defunders are less clever but not stupid either. Defunding was a shot across the bow, not a killshot.

              These are all diversions from the current crisis. Cut the defense budget in half? $400B. Go back to Clinton-era 39% top tax rate, undo the “tax cuts for the rich”?? Another $100B tops. And that only gets us 1/2 to 1/3 the way there, and there is little enthusiasm in the polity for the former, and only a split in principle for the latter.

              http://www.gallup.com/poll/147881/Americans-Divided-Taxing-Rich-Redistribute-Wealth.aspx

              It’s a bit like global warming with colors reversed, concern and denial.Report

        • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to greginak says:

          > So what regs would you favor?

          For home producers, none beyond the normal prohibitions on running a chemical plant in your house. You wanna grow your own pot, go ahead. For commercial distributors, what is appropriate for the product they’re trying to produce.

          > Would you favor spending more money on drug rehabs?

          Sure. Yank it out of the prison budget, get rid of the three strikes law (here in CA), and rehabilitate addicts if you can. It’s cheaper and more humane than locking them up.

          > Its more that substance abuse causes problems
          > and legalizing wont’ solve all of them. Many of
          > them yes, but not all.

          Everything causes problems, Greg. People cause problems. Legalizing drugs won’t solve all of them; but it will solve some of the *solvable* ones without actually increasing the incidents of the non-solvable ones.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

            Of course there will always be problems. I’m fine with that, i was merely noting a disturbing attitude among people who i agree with on the matters of substance.Report

          • Hear, hear. Legalization advocates who suggest that adoption of their policy will cure unemployment, balance the budget, reverse the trade deficit, etc., do more harm than good to their own cause by offering such suggestions with straight faces.

            Legalization (or decriminalization, which is a little different and my preferred option) will produce some marginal benefits and impose some marginal burdens. It seems reasonable to me to anticipate that benefits will outweigh burdens based on historical experience with other substances and in other industrialized countries. But we won’t ever really know unless we try.Report

  7. Avatar greginak says:

    @Pat-“One, people have an honest fear of airline travel. It’s completely blown out of proportion to the actual risk and largely a silly thing to spend anybody’s money mitigating. That doesn’t mean they don’t honestly feel their fear: it just means that their fear is something they’re going to have to get over.”

    The fear of drugs is largely the same.”

    I think this is wrong. Fear of drugs is about having seen loved ones, your self or in extreme cases your family or entire tribe have its life destroyed. Its not a fear based on ignorance of stats or lack of control like fear of flying. That fear is based on lived reality. I think we need to do a better job of winning over the people who are against drug legalization, ignoring the bitter truth of their lives doesn’t do it. We have a good solution to many drug problems but the dismissive attitude i see just gets in the way. If you saw your child have their life destroyed or severely damaged by drugs you genuinely might think its bad for that drug to be legal.Report

  8. Jason, I’m curious whether you think the Internet + Bitcoins will ultimately de facto legalize drugs (http://gawker.com/5805928/the-underground-website-where-you-can-buy-any-drug-imaginable) just as it has de facto legalized porn (since there’s just too much porn trafficking on the Internet that even attempting to regulate it is mind-numbingly complex.Report

  9. Avatar FridayNext says:

    I am a little late to this thread but I would like to point out that Kurt Schmoke, who was mayor of Baltimore from 1988 – 1999 was an early opponent of the WOD and advocated the legalization, or at least the decriminalization of drugs. This stance was widely criticized at the time and it was even more brave and poignant as he had a son with a drug problem.

    Though he had a cameo role, I always thought he and his views deserved a more robust presence on The Wire. As it was the smarmy Royce stood in for him as the black mayor of a black town that turns over power to an ethnic white.Report

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