Visual source: Newseum
Maureen Dowd gets out her cerebral microscope and goes hunting
Newt Gingrich's mind is in love with itself.
It has persuaded itself that it is brilliant when it is merely promiscuous. This is not a serious mind. Gingrich is not, to put it mildly, a systematic thinker.
His mind is a jumble, an amateurish mess lacking impulse control. He plays air guitar with ideas, producing air ideas. He ejaculates concepts, notions and theories that are as inconsistent as his behavior.
The GOP, looking up from the trough where Perry, Bachmann, Palin, and Cain wallow in such self-congratulatory ignorance that the members of Pink Floyd want to shout "you really do need an education," sees Newt as a smart guy who still agrees with us
. The truth is that Newt is only smart enough to play the GOP. Even so...
Frank Bruni sees Newt's sporadically functional cranium as his biggest problem in securing GOP votes.
It’s Gingrich’s braininess — or at least his preening assertion of such — that doesn’t quite fit, breaking the Republican pattern of late. How does an ostentatious know-it-all fare so well in a party supposedly hostile to intellectuals and intellectualism?
The candidates who surged before him are to varying degrees yahoos. They proved it anew last week. Michele Bachmann seemed to be under the impression that we had an embassy in Iran, and Rick Perry was definitely under the delusion that the voting age in this country is 21 instead of 18.
Bruni comes to the conclusion that Republicans are after an "intellectually muscular" candidate who can debate President Obama. To which I say 9-9-9. Nothing about this season has suggested that the GOP is in any way after someone with two neurons to rub together. What they're looking for is not a skillful debater, it's a bully. And no one is a bigger bully than Newt.
Dana Milbank thinks it doesn't matter if Newt wins or the Mittster pulls it out, because both represent victory for politics as usual.
It may be Mitt Romney or it may be Newt Gingrich, but from the point of view of this town, it doesn’t matter: Neither poses a threat to our way of life. Our hometown industry — a commission-based economy in which the local citizenry helps the powerful get what they want from a too-big government — will survive.
Washington’s win was not always assured. Michele Bachmann would have taken a whack at big government, when she wasn’t trying to convert the residents of Dupont Circle to heterosexuality. Rick Perry would have slashed large chunks of the federal government, once he remembered what they were. Pizza man Herman Cain, had he not been weighed down by accusations of extramarital toppings, probably would have brought the whole place to a halt.
Rest assured, K Street, Newt would be a president of the lobbyists, for the lobbyists, by the lobbyists. Just don't forget: he expects to be paid.
Kathleen Parker proves that she still gets the same marching orders as every other conservative columnist by describing Newt using the instantly trite "sinner who has been saved" phrase. She then sifts many tea leaves and finds that her every idea about this Newty-surge (which she completely failed to predict) contains a keen insight. No wonder she likes Newt.
Chi Birmingham and Alex Vitale explain how the decay of respect for the first amendment right of assembly and racing technology have generated a feedback loop that has left protestors facing off with police wearing gear that seems to have been lifted from sci fi movies about invading lizard men.
Al Baker follows up with a related piece about what happens when civilian police adopt military tactics.
But beyond... symbolic and formal similarities, American law and tradition have tried to draw a clear line between police and military forces. To cast the roles of the two too closely, those in and out of law enforcement say, is to mistake the mission of each. Soldiers, after all, go to war to destroy, and kill the enemy. The police, who are supposed to maintain the peace, “are the citizens, and the citizens are the police,” according to Chief Walter A. McNeil of Quincy, Fla., the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, citing the words of Sir Robert Peel, the father of modern-day policing.
Yet lately images from Occupy protests streamed on the Internet — often in real time — show just how readily police officers can adopt military-style tactics and equipment, and come off more like soldiers as they face down citizens. Some say this adds up to the emergence of a new, more militaristic breed of civilian police officer.
Ross Douthat outdoes himself with logic tangling that would make the Gordian knot cry uncle. While he continues to be unable to understand the Occupy movement, he spends this week declaring that the unions in Wisconsin and environmental activists working against Keystone XL are "decadent" because they're only trying to help workers and the environment and not also... well, that's not clear, but the problem is surely that they're not doing enough for downtrodden millionaires. It always is.
Thomas Friedman reminds us that the deal between the Obama administration and the car industry to raise mileage requirements to 54mpg is important. And it is.
This is a big deal — a legacy deal for Obama that will make a significant, long-term contribution to America’s energy, environmental, health and national security agendas.
Naturally, the E.P.A.-haters hate the deal. They focus on the increase in vehicle costs that will phase in over 13 years — and ignore the net savings to consumers, plus the national security, innovation, jobs, climate and health benefits. These critics are the same “conservatives for OPEC” who, after Congress agreed in 1975 on a 10-year program to raise the fleet average mileage of American cars from 15 m.p.g. to 27.5 m.p.g., got together not only to halt mileage improvements in American vehicles during the Reagan administration, but to roll them back. This helped to drastically slow U.S. auto mileage innovation and ultimately helped to bankrupt the American auto industry and make sure the United States remained addicted to oil.
Unfortunately the mileage increases mandated in this new compromise don't start to kick in until 2017. Meaning there's plenty of time for a fresh round of knuckleheads to screw the country the same way they did in the 80s.
Carl Zimmer wonders about the ethics involved in living treatments.
Manufacturers already add beneficial bacteria, called probiotics, to a range of foods. But regulating a microbe is trickier than regulating a molecule. Probiotics can multiply inside us, and can later escape to colonize new hosts. When a doctor prescribes engineered microbes for individual patients, the ethical questions will extend far beyond them, to their families and communities.
Tip o' the hat to the New York Times this week. After an achingly bad stretch of Sunday opinion pages, this week has several that are well written and worth reading. Thanks, folks. In addition to those cited above, Susan Crawford has an interesting bit on the digital divide, Elisabeth Rosenthal looks at a Post Office drowning in junk mail and wonders if this is what we need, and Lucy Komisar raises serious issues about the relationship between the food industry and what goes into most school lunch programs. All three are articles worth reading.
Leonard Pitts wonders why one missing white woman is instantly national news.
For anyone who has a loved one missing, Godspeed the day of that person’s safe return. Or failing that, Godspeed the bitter satisfaction of knowing his or her fate. To have someone you love vanish is, one imagines, a special kind of hell.
If all you had to go by was NBC or CNN, you’d never know that over 335,000 men and boys went missing last year or about 230,000 African Americans. You will see no coverage of them on national news. Nor, for that matter, of older people or less attractive ones.
While the effect of this bias is to deny the worth of anyone who is not a pretty young white woman, a case can be made that it does pretty young white women no favors, either. The driving force of that bias, after all, is a narrative that depicts them as damsels in perpetual distress, helpless little things under constant threat from the harsh vicissitudes of a big, mean world. With apologies to a certain Oscar-winning song, it’s hard out here for a white woman.
If we have to have a 24 hour news cycle built on sensationalism, can't we at least find a new sensation?
John Timmer unravels a fascinating story of bad science, mistaken results, and death threats. A story of how the scientific system worked, but not without some hard blows landed all around. It's also a prime example of how scientific results get validated or invalidated, not by people trying to exactly reproduce the original work, but by trying to take the next step. Well worth reading.