Friday, April 02, 2021

John Boehner pleads: "It's not my fault!"

 This absolutely stunning apologia by former US House Speaker John Boehner is both truth-revealing and overwhelmingly despicable. You must read it for his behind-the-scenes views of the Republican Party's slide, and then plummet, into turpitude, treason and insanity.  He blames - with real cause - Rupert Murdoch and the Kochs and Mercers and Sinclair Radio Nuremberg Rallies, without ever going into the puppet-master roles played first by the Saudis - (who have always owned and operated the Bush family) - and later Vladimir Putin.

 So what's Boehner's self-defense, now? Paraphrasing from his book, On the House: A Washington Memoir"I stayed in order to be a moderating influence." The same excuse given by so many of Donald Trump's enablers, and that Spencer Tracy demolished so well, in JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG.

It doesn't wash. Even slightly. Of the four pre-Trump GOP Speakers, Newt Gingrich set the stage, but demonstrably did at least want to legislate. Newt worked with Bill Clinton to get Welfare Reform and budget surpluses and at least a few modernizing bills passed. Gingrich trashed all the Congressional resources - like OTA - that questioned dogmatic "truthy" falsehoods. (And he later went completely insane.) But at least as Speaker he made some deals and he also appropriated money for non-policy science. 

The Republican Party was not yet at open war against every fact-using profession, from science, teaching, journalism, civil service and law to the "deep state" men and women who won the Cold War and the War on Terror.

For all of those reasons, the increasingly crazy GOP jettisoned Newt (whose "Contract With America" is a case study of how to do polemical politics successfully) in favor of Dennis "friend to boys" Hastert, a man of such stunning evil that I won't even begin to describe, but whose "Hastert Rule" declared utter vengeance on any Republican officer holder who ever again negotiated in good faith - or even socialized - with a Democrat. Thus, explicitly and openly, the GOP became the party that deliberately killed bipartisan politics as a way that adults might sometimes find common ground to act on behalf of a nation and civilization.

Gingrich, Hastert, Boehner and Ryan, all were utterly committed to transforming the America that was riding at its zenith in 1994 into an insular, oligarchy-run backwater devoted above all to the protection and enhancement of aristocratic-inherited privilege. (I'll save Paul Ryan for last. He was the smoothest of a wretched series and I wager has 'plans.')

Let's be clear. With the exception of Pelosi's brief 111th Congress, all the others since 95 were GOP run - despite losing all but once the popular vote - and all of them - including all of Boehner's terms as Speaker - were the LAZIEST and most unproductive legislative sessions in American history, setting records for low numbers of hearings (except Clinton witch hunts), bills proposed or passed (except firehosings of $trillions at open, aristocratic maws), and corruption and sexual perversion.

For John Boehner - Hastert's successor - to come before us now with a "tell-all" is simultaneously welcome (an interesting read) and contemptibly self-serving. His whine that a radicalized 'tea party" clade of radicals terrorized the party leadership is laughable!  That radicalization (through threats of primary election challenges) could have been staunched simply by ENDING GERRYMANDERING and restoring electoral importance to the General Election, when a district's moderate majority might defend a moderate representative.

Boehner could have restored - single-handedly - some science advisory staff to credibly challenge outright lies and coach GOP reps how to be conservative without denying the existence of objective reality. (See my proposals for how this could be part of a way to end the war on facts.)

Boehner had the power, at any time, to tell Rupert Murdoch "Go back to 'fair and balanced' or I will go to the People and tell all. And I'll do it now, in the 90s and Oughts... when it might actually do some good, instead of waiting till 2021 when the nation teeters and civil discourse has been shredded."

His explanation for why he put Michelle Bachman on the Intelligence Committee, where that fizzing loco and likely Kremlin agent had access to high US secrets, is the most spectacular piece of rationalization I have seen, in a long time. And his top complaint about Barack Obama -- "He could come off as lecturing and haughty" -- is doggie doo of the purest odor, redolent of the final redoubt of this mad Confederate campaign of outright treason --

-- which is spite toward all our expert and knowledge castes (name one exception). It's the good-old-boy reflex that has metastacized into hatred of anyone who knows anything and can speak in coherent sentences. A self-destructive curse that delights all our enemies, shatters every American strength and thatJohn Boehner did everything in his power to spread. Setting the stage for Donald Trump.

He concludes:

"Under the new rules of Crazytown, I may have been Speaker, but I didn’t hold all the power. By 2013 the chaos caucus in the House had built up their own power base thanks to fawning right-wing media and outrage-driven fundraising cash. And now they had a new head lunatic leading the way, who wasn’t even a House member. There is nothing more dangerous than a reckless asshole who thinks he is smarter than everyone else. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Senator Ted Cruz. He enlisted the crazy caucus of the GOP in what was a truly dumbass idea. Not that anybody asked me."

Oh fuck off you stunning piece of work!  You shambolic excuse-maker, still refusing to make amends with real courage.

I will say this in John Boehner's favor. That he issued this self-serving masturbatory "who me?" apologia at all does show one thing...

... that he is not one of a majority of top DC republicans who is either a known pervert or under someone's blackmail thumb. If he were, he'd have been ordered not to do this. And hence we can be pretty sure he was at least a half-decent husband and father. 

I'll grant that seems likely. But that is all that I will grant this truly wretched betrayer of the nation he was supposed to love.


Oh, Paul Ryan? For a while there a consensus pointed at him being the Republican Party's once and future prince. I expect he'll still try to do what Mitt Romney cannot - patch together a GOP winning alliance out of Trumpism and Foxite populaism and millions of 'ostriches' who are disgusted with the Trump era, but eager to mumble, with their heads buried in denial "that's all over, now. And Liberals are worse. Liberals are worse. Liberals are worse. Liberals are worse. Liberals are worse. Liberals are worse." 


Tim H. said...

LGM's take on Boehner's book is amusing:

The bad part of chasing momentary advantage, you can end up somewhere really unpleasant.

David Brin said...

LGM usually means Little Green Men!

David Brin said...

Ha ha. Very funny. Axta Prima Aprila my shiny mettal butt.Pfeh. April Fool jokers need serious whipping!  And from my alma mater, too!
Full paper (PDF):

DP said...

Boehner is basically Don Draper from "Mad Men" as Speaker of the House. He's like some frozen cave man from the 60s the got thawed out in the 90s to become Speaker.

Robert said...

And once again, I find that Peter Watts sums it up best:

Edmund Burke once said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. I think that begs a question.

If you do nothing, what makes you any fucking good?

scidata said...

I think Larry Hart has properly covered this sort of pathology. The propensity for creating monsters, either directly or indirectly, with the belief they can later control them is sad. Bigly sad. It explains much of world history. Imagine Dr. Frankenstein writing a book like this. It's goofy. Shakespearean goofy.

Treebeard said...

The main point to keep in mind at all times is that America is a crazy society. My very scientific, empirical estimate is that around 75% of the population is nuts. This is reflected in every group, institution and social stratum, including its political leaders. When something crazy happens they all line up to say “this is not who we are”; but of course it is. One downside of exceptionalism is that you have an exceptional number of unhinged people. And anyone who takes American mass culture (which includes the paid political actors in DC) seriously and considers himself an intellectual is contributing to the insanity, imo. The sanest, smartest people I know don’t pay any attention to it and hope it will go away, though this is challenging—sort like ignoring the guy down the block with a bazooka, a megaphone and a shortage of psych meds. I think people outside the USA increasingly view it that way—though if you point this out to Americans they are prone to screaming at you with a megaphone and pulling out a bazooka.

David Brin said...

While Treebeard & I agree that insane neighbors are a serious American problem, we'd disagree on much else, like the ratios in any past or present other culture, levels that I believe were likely vastly worse. And of course whether HE belongs in the category he derided.

Indeed, much of today's American insanity is superficial, based on enemy (e.g. via Fox/Sinclair) effoprts to to turn healthy reflexes cancerous. e.g. suspicion of authority, which is normally healthy skepticism and willingness to question experts, which our enemies learned how to convert into an all-out, frothing war against all knowledge and fact-based expert professions.

Were someon influential to make CLEAR that's what's happened and how insane it is to ASSMUME all smart people are stupid, then the surface insanity might break.

madtom said...

For decades I've been convinced that your heart and mind are in the right place, so an even dozen Brin novels sit on my sci-fi shelf between Biggle and Brunner. But for some reason I didn't follow your politics much and was pleasantly surprised to find just now that you are as upset about the present situation as I am. So I want to offer my idea for a solution:

A brighter future in a brighter America.

If you check out Boris Sidis, the psychologist father of William Sidis, often called the smartest man alive, you'll see that the answer was there over a century ago: early childhood education. But Boris made the sad mistake of raising his son as a loner, despite our evolved-in need to be group members.

Here's what Boris had to say about "precocity"

As far as his idea went, though, he was right on: we are wasting the earliest years, when Nature gave us brains that were growing and learning at the fastest possible rate (for obvious evolutionary reasons).

My own life provides two more supporting data points for Sidis' claim that learning ability declines with the passage of our earliest years: I was lovingly taught to read in my mother's lap by age 3, and I clearly recall the stages of forming a unified self-consistent worldview that included systems thinking quite automatically. I soon grew dissatisfied with the kid stories that were the original motivation, and started reading factual material. Upon entering 1st grade I was given a Stanford Binet that said IQ 160+ and skipped into 2nd grade. Then I had to learn about numbers and elementary math for the first time. Many years later in 1972, my GRE scores added up to 1580, also equivalent to a 160+ IQ. But my verbal was 830, 50 points above the 780 that was 99th %ile, yet my 750 math was only 93rd %ile. Older may be wiser, but not a better learner.

Somehow I suspect that I'm not the only person to have this in his worldview. But we also know well that while the old “survival of the fittest” idea is quite accurate, it fails to mention that being a clever and pleasant cooperator is a key requirement for being among the fittest.

So IMO there is real hope for a better future for all if we can manage to begin educating our young at the earliest age possible, and bringing them up in pleasantly socialized surroundings. Even our current rulers and would-be rulers would find their descendants entering a better world.

madtom said...

My just-posted comment was already too long, and there's no need to print this one, but I'm regretting my failure to point out for your consideration that for centuries our ruling class has maintained its power - perhaps consciously, likely instinctively - by making good use of our developmental years to force the young to accept logically contradictory worldviews as the basis for their thought and action. I'm sure you know this history, but it's worth another look with this in mind, as the centuries-old example is quite relevant to this day:

Those few centuries ago, we humans had accumulated quite a bit of knowledge, including how to save knowledge, organize it, spread it, and teach it, using not just lecturing and hand-copied books, but the newly invented printing press. And so our leaders (really our owners) had to work harder to keep their subject masses as ignorant as possible, for reasons you can well imagine.

You probably know the history of the European Christian churches in the middle ages, and how much the printing press was involved in their troubles, but just in case, you can get more detail at Before Gutenberg’s press made costly and rare hand-copied books obsolete, a pyramidally organized church could have absolute control over the exact wording of "their" Bible. And those rulers were so determined to be the holy and only go-betweens, who authoritatively told their subjects exactly what God wanted said, that over a century of murderous wars between religious factions began in Europe. This, despite all combatants claiming to be Christians. I always found this interesting, because I see few if any places in any Bible that say God gave some organized church appointees sole authority to communicate His commands to us humans. And nothing at all was said by Jesus about when to kill others, was it? Quite the contrary. A little logical inconsistency there?

So how could churches claiming that “Thou shalt not kill” is one of God’s Ten Commandments also direct centuries of war with other churches that made the same claim? No problem, if you’re a leader who arranges to have easily misled followers.

And building such logical contradictions into human brains is no great trick in the early years when the worldview is being formed. Equal insistence on total contradictions simply requires the construction of two or more different worldviews, each to be used or ignored as the moment requires. But such split personalities are a very inefficient use of our limited neural circuitry, and we usually try to have each worldview ignore the other(s) rather than arguing with them. Because such internal argument can cause great internal discomfort, plus the malfunctions that we now call mental illness. As demonstrated by the mental condition of so many American servicemen when they return home from their overseas "duty".

Paul451 said...

If it was someone else, I'd suggest that the cover photographer was setting up Boehner with the obvious reference to his high-functioning alcoholism. But, along with the title, I suspect he is in on, and perhaps instigator of, the joke.

scidata said...

Re: "his fabled tour bus"
I once found myself in DC on a biz trip with a day free, so I did the standard tour of institutions and sites. I passed one exasperated kid whining, "Dad, where are the rides?" Civics classes weren't downgraded without consequences.

David Brin said...

mattom hi and thanks for lots of stuff!

Re precocity, you might find interesting my take on the evolutionary value and effects of human neoteny.

Can the early education thing - valuable as it is - be taken too far back to the beginning? See my short story "Dr. Pak's Preschool."

See the Flynn Effect. early nutrition+education have already had huge effects.

And yes, humans can believe ten impossible things before breakfast. Especially if they watch only Fox News.

Onward to next post!



Anonymous said...

Hi Dr. Brin, and thanks for letting my posts appear in your blog, and for your comments!

I hadn't run across "Dr. Pak's Preschool" before, but finding it available online, I found it fascinating. And perhaps a bit sad, not so much for its immediate presentation of an unhappy time, but because it seemed to me like it might have been originally conceived as the intro to another novel that went deeply into some serious and very real modern human issues. And as I really like the way you handled similar social relationship problems, both human-human and human-other in some of your classics, well . . . [and I liked the way you hinted at the climax with the introduction of a Klein bottle image in the in-utero training!]

It also made me wonder whether you were partly inspired by having run into the Boris & William Sidis story (which had turned my whole self-image around when I ran across it). After a lifetime of egotism about my IQ, learning about the generally applicable effect of early education also revised my worldview.

Our early learning feature was surely evolved to form a maximally useful overall worldview as quickly as possible, also enabling more efficient organize-the-details learning by providing the background structure. And I can clearly recall going through that process in my first few years, driven by natural urges no more intellectual than hunger or an itch, decades before ever hearing the term "systems thinking".

Which, of course, is why I've been hoping to popularize the practice of early education to bring into existence a generation that can constructively solve the problems that today's humans can't. I actually had a year or so of pause, because I had visions of the typical ruling class forcefully ensuring that only they would be able to get the benefits. I re-read Barbara Tuchman's "March Of Folly" account of the Middle Ages Catholic Church, inspired by the news about Jeffrey Epstein & Co.. Which made me wonder whether (perhaps semi-consciously) the suppression of early education was already the practice of some significant portion of ruling classes, at least after the printing press came into widespread use.

But then I fitted more things together, remembering how important constructive cooperation has been shown to be as a key feature of being among the "fittest" in the old "survival of . ." evolution saying.

So it now seems to me that even if the not-so-nice portion of the ruling class tries to keep early learning benefits for themselves, over time, they will fail. And quite likely there are enough *good* people among our modern ultra-wealthy rulers that the introduction of early reading to the masses may just become widespread fairly quickly. At least that's the best hope I can see for the least unpleasant and most constructive way out of the current mass of climaxing crises.

Hoping I haven't been too wordy and boring, as I know is too often the case, but at least there's no pressure on you to have read more than you wanted to, so . . anyway, thanks again!

P.S. I had heard of the Flynn Effect in my psychology studies, but this was the first time I looked him up in Wikipedia. And found a shocking similarity between us. We both moved from the US to New Zealand because of the very uncomfortable political direction being taken in the US.

David Brin said...

Anonymous... hi. The screenplay version of "Dr. Pak" is a bit more optimistics. No I did not know about Sidis.

Yes, "March of Folly" pretty much described that awful litany called "history."

Alas, our threads ususally end when I type "onward," So join us under the LATEST blog entry? Also a non-anonymous monicker helps.


Danny said...

'..the America that was riding at its zenith in 1994..'

Zenith: the point of the celestial sphere that is directly opposite the nadir. Zenith, in astronomy terms, is the point in the sky directly overhead. Eliot thought that a classic, in the strictest sense, was a work that apotheosized a great civilization at its zenith. When it could not get any higher. Virgil fulfills the requirements. Also, this blog, I suppose. In any case, sorry, I do realize that the thread, at least, has passed its zenith..