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December 23, 2011

boehner: the opposite of theater

Not to get political on the day before the day before the biggest day in the wrapping paper industry, a side effect of having to bear the Tea Party, or now the Tea Party Caucus of the House, is that it makes you miss the Republicans you used to get steamed about.

For example, check Speaker John Boehner yesterday explaining his decision that he will bring his caucus into into line with regard to the payroll tax cut (which the tax-cut hungry GOP opposed because of who in the world knows why?).  He comes off more like a Tip O'Neill than he does a career politician reading a poorly written script wearing teabags on his ears (like he usually sounds).

Boehner was in a politically untenable (and unsupportable) position, and he was the only grown-up in the room (he was in a room with Eric Cantor, BTW).  It's like that moment in the old detective films, when the cop and the burglar share a smoke after the collar—a collegial acknowledgment of the game being played.

It's the opposite of theater.  I like it.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:35 AM

December 22, 2011

how much do books cost?

Real quick, as I'm staring at a day of holiday travel, there's a new thing up at The Awl as of yesterday, another in the Adjusted For Inflation series, this time concerning books.  Hardcover bestsellers, to be specific.

Remember!  These are not meant to be exhaustive or even scientific — just little thought exercises.  Light entertainment!  Which I thank you for reading!

Posted by mrbrent at 9:13 AM

December 21, 2011

michael boyd is today's wrong

I was listening to a pretty innocuous segment on The Takeaway during the dog walk this morning, concerning the not-sexy topic of Europe cap-and-trading airlines.  And as usually happens, there was a guest for and a guest against.  The guest against, a dude named Michael Boyd, who is predictably in the aviation consulting business, was all like, "There is no global warming."

OK then.  Some people do that.  Weather instability came up, and Boyd was like, "There's no proof that there's a correlation between pollution and that."  Some people do that too.

And then the host suggested that they table the climate change issue for a second, and Boyd refused, saying that that was the only issue.  Then he said, "You know what we have here?  Another Solyndra."

And that's demonstrably not true.  Sure Solyndra was a scandal, but it was seated in the effort to develop green industries.  It has nothing at all to do with cap-and-trade, or any other modest effort to curb our carbon footprint.  Invoking Solyndra? Petty demagoguery.  And maybe this is a candidate for a new Godwin's Law?

So Micheal Boyd?  Shut up, and may you be forced forever to spend time with people dumb enough to fall for that kind of thing.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:36 AM

December 20, 2011

as a four-year assistant professor of history forty years ago...

So there's this new thing, this tack by Newt Gingrich now that the Republican base has remembered he's Newt Gingrich and is accordingly withdrawing support, where Newt is "taking on the judiciary," which is a thing that certain right-ish politicians do when they feel the need to pat the base on the head.

And it's not the Bush v. Gore judiciary or the Citizens United judiciary that Newt is "fighting" of course, but rather those activist judges, as they are known, who rule in ways that Newt disagrees with.

This could be a useful topic to discuss, what with Newt wanting to drag the 9th Circuit off to the hoosegow, but this is Newt Gingrich we're talking about, the unelectable thrice-married philanderer with a pronounced God complex.  So instead, let's look at how he phrases the argument for his expertise on this issue:

I would suggest to you, actually as a historian, I may understand this better than lawyers.

See now, there's this little thing that Newt does, referring to himself as a historian.  Newt was a history professor once, at West Georgia College starting in 1970.  Assistant professor, actually, and then he transferred to the geology department in 1974.  (He left West Georgia in 1978 when he was denied tenure.)

So that's eight years as an academic, and four years exclusively as an assistant professor of history.  To compare, Newt spent twenty years in the House of Representatives (until he was run into retiring by his own party), and then twelve years as lobbyist (or at least an unregistered lobbyist seeking massive amounts of money for his political influence).

In light of the totality of the career of Newt Gingrich, him calling himself a historian is not quite as bad as me calling myself a coroner because I grew up watching "Quincy," but it is bad enough to suggest this: he should be forced, each time he is tempted to qualify something he is saying with, "As a historian..." to instead say, "As a four-year assistant professor of history forty years ago..."

(Though if doing that would make him less appealing to the people that might nominate him for president, I TAKE IT BACK.)

Posted by mrbrent at 8:40 AM