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Reductio ad Biniendam

[Guest post by Alex Klein]

Everyone’s up in arms about John Binienda, the Massachusetts state representative who makes creative comparisons: namely, between forcing poor defenseless lobbyists to wear laminated badges and tattooing imprisoned Jews.

"The idea of the badge by lobbyists to me, I kind of find that revolting. Hitler during the concentration camps tattooed all of the Jewish people so he would know who was Jew and who wasn't — and that's something that I just don't go along with."

But why would he back down and apologize for such a flattering simile? Members of the tribe like me were happy to see Binienda remind us all that Jews, like lobbyists, are people too. Thankfully, Binienda will weather this storm. The outspoken chairman of the House Rules committee has been living large on Beacon Hill for 24 years now: a whopping 12 terms, each more memorable than the last.

The early years: In 1992, the Worcester wunderkind was arrested and charged with assault and battery for beating up his wife. Then his campaign manager also got arrested for beating up his wife (his own wife, that is).  Then his son got arrested for assaulting a pizza parlor owner with a broken beer bottle.

Beyond brawling, Binienda’s pre-reductio-ad-Hitlerum career has produced lots of great puns. The man has a poet’s eye. On the nation’s thirst for Saudi Arabian oil, he commented, “They have us over a barrel.” On a new law to combat litter: “The bottle bill as I see the bottle bill, has a lot of holes in it.”

Of course, there are the serious days. In the wake of 9/11, Binienda proposed giving radiation pills to all Plymouth residents. Since then, he’s introduced groundbreaking legislation to stop Republicans from buying websites. He’s also got a weird obsession with lotteries: he’s tried to start not one, but two new ones. And in 2004 he introduced a bill that would keep a winsome 18-year-old girl’s lottery ticket from expiring. In his free time, he sparred with Mitt Romney over an airport access road.

Even before his Holocaust comparison, Rep. Binienda was “noncommittal at best” on the new house ethics rules. In the next few months, I’m sure we’ll find out why. But until then, we need to come up with something to which we can compare Binienda himself. I nominate a cartoonish parody of a Massachusetts state rep.