Monday, February 4

Look, Don't Do Me Any Favors. Fucking Shut Up As A Favor To Yourself.


IT'S cold and snowy, and I've been forced to ride the indoor bike for too long now. And the only way to get in anything like enough milage is to find some teevee entertainment while I ride. Music, well, that'll cover it once in a while, but you tend to pick up rhythms, so you try to program all up-tempo stuff, and man will that make you sick of your music collection before spring.

So I keep looking for things that might be moderately interesting, and last month The History Channel, with whom I am barely on speaking terms, ran a five-or-eight-part series on the American Presidency. I recorded all of 'em, except the last; I wanted to see whether it was safe to risk their Reagan coverage.

That answer was No, as The Great Communicator made something like sixteen appearances in the Washington-to-Monroe segment. And, look, you don't have to share my opinion of Reagan, but if, in 2013, you're still talking as though the guy led a Revolution that Saved the American Economy or somethin', you are either delusional or you think I am.

The thing was, at best, a sort of community-college survey of American history, heavy on the Amusing Anecdote. It didn't exactly risk breaking any plow blades on new ground. But the opening episode did have Jack Rakove, which beats the hell out of the usual den of Kagans, and Jonathan Alter in place of V.D. Hanson is like Arthur Schlesinger instead of Hal Lindsey. I kept at it, and the Civil War episode did not contain the standard History/Military Channel panel discussion of whether Sherman was a war criminal or just a mass murderer. So I kept going.

Then it got to be 1920. And who turned up as an expert?

Amity Schlaes, the noted historian and best-selling economist.

"What th' hell are you shouting at?" my Poor Wife asked from upstairs.

Here, as nothing like a public service, is as complete a record of Ms Schlaes' contributions as I could stand transcribing. If anyone is offended by my [sic]ing her I want to offer an apology, as well as a reminder that her degree is in English.

(And, listen: if you haven't experienced her Aging Debutante With Tourette's speaking style, I apologize for the ALL CAPS routine. I started out using italics, but realized that you just don't get the flavor that way.)
They [the Harding administration] put people out of work. Their unemployment rose terribly, [sic] in fact it was 20% in some cities in some weeks. [sic]. It was a BAD recession, the recession of the early 20s.

He [Harding] besmirched the Presidency through his association with corrupt people. But he was not an evil man himself. He was just weak.

Wilson had very high taxes [sic] in World War I. Harding started to bring them down, then Coolidge came along and said, "That's not enough. It must be much lower."

Before the radio, how did you give a speech before the mic [sic]? You BELLOWED. And Coolidge was not a bellower. And there was this great, sudden surprise [sic] which is the radio was coming in [sic] and the voice that was poor for the lecture hall was ideal for radio.

Coolidge sometimes didn't put [sic] a CHAIR in his office because then his guests would sit down [sic] and have more time to ask a favor. It was CRUEL, it was RUDE, but he was saving the American people money.

The Presidency is supposed to be about policy but of course it's really about TEMPERAMENT, isn't it? It's about who you are and how you react under pressure. Coolidge reacted by stopping, halting, preventing. Coolidge was the Great REFRAINER.

When he was President his son Calvin died very suddenly from A BLISTER from playing tennis. Calvin didn't show his mother his blister early enough, and it went SEPTIC. He [sic] said of Calvin his son that "When he died the glory of the Presidency went with him."

Roosevelt * believed in action for the sake of action. Even if it's WRONG! it's OKAY. [sic]. The humorist Will Rogers [oh, that Will Rogers!] said, "Y'know, if he'd burned down the Capitol or the White House we would have said "Good! At least he got a fire started, anyhow." That's how cold and bad it felt [BA in English, magna cum laude, Yale, 1982] in 1932.
.
Roosevelt had that [the end of Prohibition] cheered as a leader [sic] and that was important to the voter [sic], especially in the Depression [sic].

There was abiding unemployment, double-digit unemployment, most of the 1930s. Instead of a recovery there was a Depression within the Depression. **

Roosevelt was good at war [sic]. He was a great sailor [sic]. He knew every crack and crevice [sic] of the East Coast, and could sail it personally not matter what SIZE the craft. And he was turning away from economics to foreign policy, which he was a master of.

FAR MORE was spent in the war than was spent on the New Deal projects of the 1930s (oh, those New Deal projects). You see the government becoming more [sic] than 30% of the economy, which was STUNNING.


QUIZ next Wednesday, class. NONE of this will be on it.
______________

* She unvaryingly pronounces it Roe-za-velt. Which is a mistake a lot of us make, at least sometimes, but a lot of us didn't write respected, best-selling tomes about the man.

** No. In case you're blissfully unaware of Ms Schlaes claim to economic literacy, here it is for you. She managed to take some fourth-generation class resentment about the New Deal and turn it into a best-seller for the already persuaded. And the whole fucking thing hinges on the Recession (not Depression) of 1937, which is frequently, if not universally, thought to have occurred because the administration tightened the money supply prematurely, and reduced stimulus spending. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Professor Schlaes' position, but enough, apparently, to get her a sinecure with the George W. Bush Institute. †

† No, really.  There's a George W. Bush Institute.

12 comments:

Tommy said...

I watched that, and every time Ms. Schlaes was speaking I kept wondering, "Who is this dunce?".

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Amity Schlaes, the noted historian and best-selling economist.

English major, dammit.

She graduated a year after I did. I'm more of an economist! (Econ. B.A., you see.)

I should have learned to tell lies for the right people, apparently.
~

ErgoDan said...

I listened to her Coolidge talk (Well, about two minutes was all I could stand).

Yikes. Sort of like running a harpy across a chalkboard.

Anonymous said...

Well, this was a great read, Riley, and thanks!

"She unvaryingly pronounces it Roe-za-velt. " Is this necessarily wrong? I looked it up, and it seems pretty correct, the way that family said it, and the proper Dutch way to say it. Maybe in the day a lot of Americans said ROO-sevelt, But they themselves (the Roosevelts) didn't, it appears. Link to a debate about this -admittedly, about Teddy, but interesting.

http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1079254

Anyway, keep up the good work, always love checking in for a bracing and no-nonsense read from Doghouse Riley. I love what you write, don't stop. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

No, really. There's a George W. Bush Institute.

The CIA complex in Langley is named (after GHW, the former Director) "The Bush Center For Intelligence". During the eight long years of junior's misrule, it was a regular stop for foreign tourists in the DC area to have their picture taken by the road sign pointing to possibly the most ironically named building in the the world.

What a meritocracy we live in.

Interrobang said...

Not all English majors are that stupid or ill-spoken, and it's not an automatic ticket to a wingnut welfare sinecure, either.

Signed, the grumpy tech writer

Anonymous said...

If boredom is creeping in, may I recommend you peruse the following:

http://www.indystar.com/article/20130203/NEWS05/302030343/Bills-take-federal-government-highlight-political-split-Indiana?nclick_check=1

Additional confirmation, if such is needed, that our state legislature contains significant numbers of complete fucking morons. Did these guys somehow miss that history class about how we settled this issue with the rednecks and peckerwoods back in 1865?

Li'l Innocent said...

Just because a person can write English, and even write a thesis in it and have said thesis accepted by the powers in the Dept., don't mean shit about whether said person can talk extempore in English.

Loved the thing about foreign visitors having their pictures taken by the Bush Ctr. for Intelligence. I'm too frightened, though, to look up the Bush Institute.

In Shrub's time, you used to be able to get a T-shirt that said "I apologize for our President. I didn't vote for him" in six or seven different languages proceeding down its front. It was intended for foreign travel.

satch said...

"Amity Schlaes, best-selling economist."

Yes... she's been bought and sold so often she should have a bar code on her ass.

Anonymous said...

Google spells it S-h-l-a-e-s. Though the c might creep in once one is plastered enough to enjoy listening to her.

And anyway I saw she had a nice smile. Always good for selling books to a certain demo.

Very entertaining post, as usual, Riley. Though how you were able to take verbatim notes that fast is a wonderment. The extra effort for the sake of your readers is much appreciated.

—anotherbozo

Michele said...

Hi, I nominated Bats Left/Throws Right for the Liebster award. Please visit
http://www.theaccidentalenvironmentalist.com

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

It's the title "economist" I was objecting to, Interrobang.

She's not one by training, and her work since reveals her to be a propagandist who writes lies about economics.
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