Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The New Jim Crow

A luxury condo complex in New York will have two entrances: one for the rich and one for the not-so.

Extell, which is building the 33-story complex, will build a specific door for the 55 affordable housing units it’s including in order to be allowed to build a bigger building. The low-income units, which are available to people making 60 percent of median income or less, will also be in a segment that only contains affordable apartments and that faces the street while the luxury apartments will face the river.

In New York City, this arrangement is relatively common. Luxury builders get credits to use up more square footage than they normally could by promising to build affordable units as well. Those developers can then sell the credits to cover the costs of building the low-income housing. Because Extell considers the affordable segment to be legally separate from the rest of the building, it says it is required to have different entrances.

There’s no truth to the rumor that the complex will be called Tara.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

More GOP Outreach

This time it’s Haley Barbour going for the women voters.

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) shrugged off the latest accusations against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration (R) on Monday by saying they were being made by a “lady mayor.”

Barbour was responding to allegations from Hoboken, N.J. Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who accused Christie aides of threatening to withhold Hurricane Sandy relief aid from the city unless the mayor approved a real estate project favored by Christie.

Barbour, a mentor of Christie’s, was asked in an interview with CNN if the accusation hinted at the type of culture within the Christie administration.

“No, I’ll tell you what it gives me concern about, that the news media is willing to leap at any farfetched story with the basis in fact is unbelievable,” Barbour said in an interview with CNN on Monday. “This is a lady mayor who asked for $127 million of hazard mitigation money from the governor to give that to her from the federal money. When the state was only receiving in its entirety $300 million.”

And to show their appreciation for his support, Gov. Christie’s office posted the comments on YouTube.  That’s because the white privileged men really need to explain to everyone else why they should be in charge.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Reading

The Return of the Welfare Queen — Beth Reinhard in The Atlantic reports that Republicans are bringing back the stereotypes of poor people on assistance and inciting class warfare.  Ironically, some of their staunchest supporters of the tactic are living on government assistance as their sole source of income.

The mythical welfare queen was accused of driving a Cadillac and pumping out babies to keep the government checks coming; under the “food-stamp president,” as Republican Newt Gingrich dubbed Obama, she (or he) nets free healthcare and expensive shellfish.

“Newscasts tell stories of young surfers who aren’t working but cash their food stamps in for lobster,” wrote Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy in a memo before the House vote, referring to a California beach bum who flaunted his food-stamp-financed lifestyle on Fox News. “Costing taxpayers $80 billion a year, middle-class families struggling to make ends meet themselves foot the bill for a program that has gone well beyond a safety net for children, seniors, and the disabled.”

The facts defy the stereotypes. The largest group of food-stamp recipients is white; 45 percent of all beneficiaries are children; and most people eligible for Medicaid are families with children in which at least one person in the household has a job. But pitting makers against takers is simply smart, hardball politics for some Republicans. McConnell, Cassidy, and Ernst all face GOP primaries that will be largely decided by a mostly white conservative base that hates the welfare state.

[...]

To understand Kentucky’s conflicted relationship with the federal government, 50 years after hosting President Lyndon Johnson’s launch of the “War on Poverty,” is to meet Terry Rupe. The 63-year-old widower can’t remember the last time he voted for a Democrat, and he’s got nothing nice to say about Obama. He’s also never had health insurance, although he started working at age 9. Since his wife’s death four years ago, he’s been taking care of their 40-year-old, severely disabled daughter full time. She gets Medicaid and Medicare assistance.

“I don’t have any use for the federal government,” Rupe said, even though his household’s $13,000 yearly income comes exclusively from Washington. “It’s a bunch of liars, crooks, and thieves, and they’ve never done anything for me. I’m not ungrateful, but I don’t have much faith in this healthcare law. Do I think it’s going to work? No. Do I think it’s going to bankrupt the country? Yes.”

Rupe sounds like he could be standing on a soapbox at a Tea Party rally, but he happens to be sitting in a back room at the Family Health Centers’ largest clinic in Louisville—signing up for Medicaid. Rupe, who is white, insists that illegal immigrants from Mexico and Africa get more government assistance than he does. (Illegal immigrants do not, in fact, qualify for Medicaid or coverage under the Affordable Care Act.)

He’s not alone in thinking this way. A majority of whites believe the healthcare law will make things worse for them and their families, according to a United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll.

“President Obama’s idea is taking from the working people to give to the people who won’t take care of themselves. It’s redistribution of wealth,” Rupe said. “I’ve always taken care of myself. You got these young girls who go out and get pregnant and then they get $1,500 a month for having a kid, so they have two.”

On the other side of town, Adele Anderson was signing up for Medicaid at a public library. The white, middle-aged woman makes $10 an hour as a child-care provider; she also gets $86 a month in food stamps. She was unaware that Republicans voted to cut $40 billion over 10 years from what’s called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. “Democrats are too liberal,” Anderson said. “They just want to give handouts.”

The disdain she and Rupe show toward living on the government dole at the very moment they are doing just that is typical in a state that distrusts Washington as much as it needs federal help.

How The N.R.A. Does It — Robert Draper in The New York Times magazine on the power of the gun lobby.

To get to Joe Manchin’s private office in the Hart Senate Office Building, you first pass through a lobby where you encounter a small bronze statue of an Old West lawman holding a firearm — an award given to Manchin several years ago by a chapter of the National Rifle Association for his unswerving defense of gun rights. Then you turn down a hallway, past several framed photographs of children who were victims of the massacre a year ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The combination of the bronze rifleman in the lobby and the young faces on the wall suggests a particular viewpoint — I stand with gun lovers; I stand with victims of gun violence — that qualifies, in Washington anyway, as being nuanced, which is to say politically ill advised if not suicidal.

Even sitting behind his stately wooden desk in a suit and tie, Manchin, who is 66, possesses the craggy appearance of a small-town sheriff. As he proclaimed to me one morning in September, “I enjoy my guns, and my family enjoys their guns.” And indeed, Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, won election to the U.S. Senate in 2010 partly on the strength of a memorable TV ad depicting him firing a bullet through President Obama’s cap-and-trade bill that had been anathema to coal miners in his state. But Manchin’s outlook changed the day he came back from a hunting trip last December, having learned of the 20 children and six adults slaughtered at Sandy Hook. That unique horror motivated him in a way that other recent mass shootings in Tucson and Aurora, Colo., had not.

“To sit here and do nothing, I could’ve done that all day long,” Manchin said. “Let this be the happy retirement home.” Instead, for the first time in his 30-year political career, he acted against the N.R.A.’s wishes. He introduced legislation that would require universal background checks for commercial sales. Background checks have been federally mandated for firearm purchases from licensed dealers since 1994. The bill would have extended them to gun shows and all Internet sales. Manchin was aware that universal background checks would not have prevented the Newtown killings, because the shooter, Adam Lanza, used firearms that were legally purchased by his mother. Nonetheless, a confluence of factors at the time favored his efforts: a newly re-elected Democratic president personally stung by the gun tragedies that took place on his watch; a fractious and self-doubting Republican Party; the seemingly bottomless financial resources of the New York mayor and ardent gun-control advocate Michael Bloomberg, whose alliance of more than a thousand mayors throughout the United States, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, would sponsor an aggressive wave of TV ads; and the forceful but sympathetic lobbying presence of Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman who had been shot in the head in Tucson, along with the voices of the Newtown parents whose children were killed. Given this climate and the overwhelming public support for universal background checks, even the N.R.A. was braced for the passage of some version of Manchin’s gun-control bill.

But no version did pass. Four months after the Newtown shooting, on April 17, the bill failed to win the necessary votes to make it through the Senate. The most fearsome lobbying organization in America prevailed once again. Other victories would soon follow. On the day before I visited Manchin’s office in September, two state senators who spearheaded a recent passage of tough gun-control legislation in Colorado were recalled — another triumph for the N.R.A., despite having been outspent by Bloomberg’s group. (A third Colorado state senator who supported the bill announced her retirement last month in the face of a recall.) Not long after that, a mentally unhinged gunman at the Washington Navy Yard, less than two miles from the Senate office buildings, killed 12 employees. In his eulogy for the victims, the president noted somberly: “Once more our hearts are broken. Once more we ask why.” But few were asking why Joe Manchin or some other senator wasn’t out trying to round up more votes for his bill. If the murder of 20 schoolchildren had proved insufficient motivation to address gun violence in America, this killing was not enough to persuade anyone to take on the N.R.A. again.

“As far as putting on a full-court press, I don’t see that happening,” Manchin told me in his office. “And I don’t hear much conversation about it.” The defeat of the bill has added to the legend of the gun lobby’s brawn. Though the N.R.A.’s opponents still question whether the group is really as indomitable as it is perceived, at a certain point, political mythology engineers its own reality. One recently retired congressman from a conservative district told me, “That was the one group where I said, ‘As long as I’m in office, I’m not bucking the N.R.A.’ ”

One Country Saved Its Jews — Michael Ignatieff reviews the book Countrymen which tells how Denmark spared its Jews from the Holocaust.

When, in October 1943, the Gestapo came to round up the 7,500 Jews of Copenhagen, the Danish police did not help them to smash down the doors. The churches read letters of protest to their congregations. Neighbors helped families to flee to villages on the Baltic coast, where local people gave them shelter in churches, basements, and holiday houses and local fishermen loaded up their boats and landed them safely in neutral Sweden. Bo Lidegaard, the editor of the leading Danish newspaper Politiken, has retold this story using astonishingly vivid unpublished material from families who escaped, and the testimony of contemporary eyewitnesses, senior Danish leaders (including the king himself), and even the Germans who ordered the roundups. The result is an intensely human account of one episode in the persecution of European Jews that ended in survival.

The story may have ended well, but it is a complex tale. The central ambiguity is that the Germans warned the Jews and let most of them escape. Lidegaard claims this was because the Danes refused to help the Germans, but the causation might also have worked in the other direction. It was when the Danes realized that the Germans were letting some Jews go that they found the courage to help the rest of their Jewish community escape. Countrymen is a fascinating study in the ambiguity of virtue.

The Danes knew long before the war that their army could not resist a German invasion. Instead of overtly criticizing Hitler, the Social Democratic governments of the 1930s sought to inoculate their populations against the racist ideology next door. It was in those ominous years that the shared identity of all Danes as democratic citizens was drummed into the political culture, just in time to render most Danes deeply resistant to the Nazi claim that there existed a “Jewish problem” in Denmark. Lidegaard’s central insight is that human solidarity in crisis depended on the prior consolidation of a decent politics, on the creation of a shared political imagination. Some Danes did harbor anti-Semitic feelings, but even they understood the Jews to be members of a political community, and so any attack on them was an attack on the Danish nation as such.

Doonesbury — Home for the holidays.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Upchuck

The inner workings of party politics is messy, clannish, and vicious, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about Democrats, Republicans, or your local bowling league.  We all know that, but we go along with it as long as we don’t have to see the inner workings splayed out in front of us.  All it takes is one self-aggrandizing schmuck to blab about it to the press.

Such is the case with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who never misses a chance to piss people off.  Usually he’s doing it to people who may deserve it, but in an interview with The New Republic he’s an equal opportunity jerk, taking cheap shots at progressive bloggers by comparing them to the Tea Party except with less influence.

CS: … The left-wing blogs want you to be completely and always anti–Wall Street. It’s not the right way to be.

IC: So are the left-wing blogs as bad as the Tea Party ones in this case?

CS: Left-wing blogs are the mirror image. They just have less credibility and less clout.

Oh, and he takes total credit for getting Elizabeth Warren elected to the Senate from Massachusetts.

IC: One of the people you say has shaped your outlook is Elizabeth Warren. And obviously, she’s someone who has a lot of support from the grassroots of the Democratic Party—

CS: You know I helped persuade her to run. There is a good little story. [Looks to aide] I can tell this. I went to Scott Brown and said, “If you give us the sixtieth vote for the Citizens United rollback,1 we won’t go after you.” I spent a lot of time lobbying him, and met some of his friends and had them lobby him. He said yes. Then he said no. So I wanted to recruit the strongest candidate against him, and I thought that was Elizabeth Warren.

He’s so full of wonderfulness it’s amazing that he can even stand being around himself.

I will stipulate that there are some left-wing bloggers who are anti-Wall Street.  Given its track record over the last few years, it would be an event if there weren’t.  But to lump all of us together is as irresponsible as saying that all the people in the Tea Party are cranky old white men who privileged Jesus-shouting Rascal-riding racist homophobic get-off-my-lawn NRA members.  Some are women.

And to offer Scott Brown a free ride to the Senate in exchange for a vote makes me want to get up and throw something.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

No Harm, No Foul

Henry Olsen at the National Review goes off on House Republicans:

The conservative war on food stamps is the most baffling political move of the year. Conservatives have suffered for years from the stereotype that they are heartless Scrooge McDucks more concerned with our money than other people’s lives. Yet in this case, conservatives make the taking of food from the mouths of the genuinely hungry a top priority. What gives? And why are conservatives overlooking a far more egregious abuse of taxpayer dollars in the farm bill?

They may have suffered from the stereotype of being greedy bastards, but it has rarely lost them an election.  I’m hard-pressed to think of a candidate who was defeated by campaigning against a government program, even one that benefits the people who vote for him or her.

HT Andrew Sullivan.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Reading

Putting Down the Pen — Philip Roth retires from fiction writing.

On the computer in Philip Roth’s Upper West Side apartment these days is a Post-it note that reads, “The struggle with writing is over.” It’s a reminder to himself that Mr. Roth,who will be 80 in March and who has enjoyed one of the longest and most celebrated careers in American letters, has retired from writing fiction — 31 books since he started in 1959. “I look at that note every morning,” he said the other day, “and it gives me such strength.”

To his friends the notion of Mr. Roth not writing is like Mr. Roth not breathing. It sometimes seemed as if writing were all he did. He worked alone for weeks at a time at his house in Connecticut, reporting every morning to a nearby studio where he wrote standing up, and often going back there in the evening. At an age when most novelists slow down, he got a second wind and wrote some of his best books: “Sabbath’s Theater,”“American Pastoral,”“The Human Stain” and “The Plot Against America.”Well into his 70s, the books, though shorter, came uninterruptedly, practically one a year.But over the course of a three-hour interview — his last, he said — Mr. Roth seemed cheerful, relaxed and at peace with himself and his decision, which was first announced last month in the French magazine Les InRocks. He joked and reminisced, talked about writers and writing, and looked back at his career with apparent satisfaction and few regrets. Last spring he appointed Blake Bailey as his biographer and has been working closely with him ever since.

Mr. Roth said he actually made the decision to stop writing in 2010, a few months after finishing his novel “Nemesis,” about a 1944 polio epidemic in his hometown, Newark.

“I didn’t say anything about it because I wanted to be sure it was true,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wait a minute, don’t announce your retirement and then come out of it.’ I’m not Frank Sinatra. So I didn’t say anything to anyone, just to see if it was so.”

On a table in his living room was a stack of photographs he had just been sent by a cousin: his mother in her bridal gown, the veil trailing down a flight of stairs; a very young Mr. Roth with his parents and his older brother, Sandy, outside their home in Newark; a handsome teenage Roth sitting on a sofa with his first serious girlfriend; Private P. Roth in his Army uniform and helmet.

Nearby was an iPhone he had bought recently. “Why?” he said. “Because I’m free. Every morning I study a chapter in ‘iPhone for Dummies,’ and now I’m proficient. I haven’t read a word for two months. I pull this thing out and play with it.”

Then he corrected himself: “I haven’t read during the day. At night I read. I read for two hours. I just finished a marvelous book by Louise Erdrich, ‘The Round House.’ But mostly I read 20th-century history and biography. I lived then. I was either a child or at school or at work. It’s time I caught up.”

Free Stuff — Ta-Nehisi Coates on what everyone wants.

There was a great deal of talk after the election of the “fever” breaking around the GOP, and the party coming to their senses. Perhaps Bobby Jindal’s aggressive rebuttal evidences some of this.

At any rate, I think it’s worth noting that all political parties organize around their interests, around pay-outs, as Romney calls them. Mitt Romney, for instance, represented a coalition whose stated interests lay in expanding the policies of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, outlawing national protection for abortion, doing nothing about climate change, and decreasing the tax burden on the “makers.”

This is interest-group politics. It is not a nefarious evil. It is the practice of American democracy. At least that’s what it is when taken up by interest groups who are predominantly white, predominantly male, and rooted, electorally, in the old Confederacy. When the practice is taken up by a coalition of women, gays, the young and people of color, many of them tax-payers, it is suddenly deemed a “pay-out” or “stuff,” as it was so recently put.

But they too want “stuff.” They want the right to discriminate against gay families. They want the right to enact poll-taxing. They want the law to force all pregnant women into labor. That many Americans disagree can only be the result of Chicago-style bribery. I win or you cheated.

Who Killed the Twinkie?  — James Surowiecki on the struggle for labor and management to adapt.

Hostess’s management certainly bears some of the blame for its failure to successfully adapt, though the company made numerous (and failed) attempts to introduce healthier products. But the simple truth is that this kind of failure is endemic to the system—there are always going to be companies that are unable to change in response to the marketplace. And those companies are supposed to go out of business. Not to be too clichéd about it, but this is what creative destruction is all about.

The problem, of course, is that that destruction is going to upend the lives of thousands of workers. And to the extent, then, that Hostess’s demise shows us something important about the plight of organized labor today, it’s not that greedy workers have precipitated their own demise. It’s rather that one of organized labor’s biggest challenges over the past four decades has been that union strength was concentrated in industries and among companies that, though once dominant players in the postwar American economy, have often ended up in a slow slide to obsolescence, employing fewer and fewer workers and having less and less money to pay them with. In theory, unions could have made up for this by organizing those companies and industries that have become ascendant since the nineteen-seventies, but for a variety of reasons (including a tougher corporate approach to union-busting, a less friendly legal climate, the difficulty of organizing many small enterprises as opposed to a few big factories, and a tendency to protect existing members rather than put real money into organizing) they haven’t. And the paradox is that as unions have gotten smaller and less influential, they’ve also gotten less popular. That’s why it’s so easy for Hostess’s management to spin the anti-union narrative.

The real issue here is that people’s image of unions, and their sense that doing something like going on strike is legitimate, seems to depend quite a bit, in the U.S., on how common unions are in the workforce. When organized labor represented more than a third of American workers, it was easy for unions to send the message that in agitating for their own interests, union members were also helping improve conditions for workers in general. But as unions have shrunk, and have become increasingly concentrated in the public sector, it’s become easier for people to dismiss them as just another special interest, looking to hold onto perks that no one else gets. Perhaps the most striking response to the Hostess news, in that sense, was the tweet from conservative John Nolte, who wrote “Hostess strikers had pension. PENSIONS! What is this 1962?” It was once taken for granted that an industrial worker who worked for a big company for many years would get a solid middle-class lifestyle, and would be taken care of in retirement. Today, that concept seems to many like a relic. Just as Wonder Bread does.

Doonesbury — Invisible Men.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Makers vs. Takers

Paul Ryan told an audience a year ago that 30% of the country want a welfare state.

“Seventy percent of Americans want the American dream. They believe in the American idea. Only 30 percent want the welfare state,” Ryan said. “Before too long, we could become a society where the net majority of Americans are takers, not makers.” (It’s not definitively clear whether Ryan said “the welfare state” or “their welfare state.” HuffPost originally transcribed it as “their welfare state.” Regardless, the comment was made in reference to people on government assistance.)

Ryan’s comments were delivered as part of his keynote address at The American Spectator’s 2011 Robert L. Bartley Gala Dinner, which the magazine posted online. A reader tipped HuffPost to Ryan’s speech, given in November — six months before Romney’s videotaped remarks.

This isn’t exactly a bombshell; the Republicans have always seen Other People as being moochers and leeches who don’t share in the bootstrap mentality and oh by the way they’re probably not white, either.

It also explains why the Republicans are having such a tough time selling the idea that they actually give a shit about people, and it makes selling Mitt Romney as an empathetic candidate a little like trying to get an alligator to eat nothing but salad.

This is what real class warfare looks like.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day

If you have the day off, take just a moment to remember why we get the day off in the first place, then enjoy it. I certainly will. I plan to work on something that is a labor of love… my long and as-yet unfinished novel.

Last year I posted a reply to a discussion over at SFDB in defense of organized labor. It still resonates today, especially with the beating unions are taking from all sides.

Having grown up in a union town that was near a large city that relied on union labor, I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the people who most hate unions are folks who think that it is unconscionable that workers should have the same rights as the managers and the owners of the company. How dare they demand a living wage and safe working conditions. Who do they think they are?

Yeah, yeah; in every large group there are bad apples and examples of bad faith and extremism. Welcome to the human race. The Republicans hold the unions up as the boogeyman of the Western world and label them as thugs… and give tax breaks to the corporations because they know that if they don’t, the corporations will kneecap them. Not literally; they’ll just stop giving them money, which, in corporate circles, is thuggery. The people who whine about “class warfare” always turn out to be the ones who are winning the war.

Perhaps one of the reasons that union membership is down is that unions have accomplished a lot of what they set out to do 100 years ago. Factories are safer, working hours are reasonable, wages are better than the minimum, and pensions provide some security. The unions have learned, however awkwardly, to accept that they have been successful, but they also know that if some people had their way in the world, they would turn back to clock to 1911, put children to work, take away the healthcare, and demand more production. After all, it works for the Chinese, and look how they’re doing.

By the way, not all union workers are Democrats; they certainly weren’t were I grew up. A lot of them are hardcore Republicans or conservatives — including police officers — who don’t care about the politics; they just want to be treated fairly. And a lot of people who are not union members are working under union contracts; in most places there is no requirement to join a union to benefit from their efforts. So while actual union membership may be down to 15%, the number of people who are part of the union is far greater. That includes public sector jobs as well as private. So the next time someone feels the urge to union-bash, be sure you’re not peeing in your own campfire.

Full disclosure: I am a dues-paying member of a union of sorts; I belong to the Dramatists Guild. It provides services for writers and lyricists and makes sure that when our works are produced, we have a fair contract and get paid our royalties. The joke among us is that we don’t go on strike; we just get writers’ block.

Happy Labor Day.

Labor Day

If you have the day off, take just a moment to remember why we get the day off in the first place, then enjoy it. I certainly will. I plan to work on something that is a labor of love… my long and as-yet unfinished novel.

Last year I posted a reply to a discussion over at SFDB in defense of organized labor. It still resonates today, especially with the beating unions are taking from all sides.

Having grown up in a union town that was near a large city that relied on union labor, I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the people who most hate unions are folks who think that it is unconscionable that workers should have the same rights as the managers and the owners of the company. How dare they demand a living wage and safe working conditions. Who do they think they are?

Yeah, yeah; in every large group there are bad apples and examples of bad faith and extremism. Welcome to the human race. The Republicans hold the unions up as the boogeyman of the Western world and label them as thugs… and give tax breaks to the corporations because they know that if they don’t, the corporations will kneecap them. Not literally; they’ll just stop giving them money, which, in corporate circles, is thuggery. The people who whine about “class warfare” always turn out to be the ones who are winning the war.

Perhaps one of the reasons that union membership is down is that unions have accomplished a lot of what they set out to do 100 years ago. Factories are safer, working hours are reasonable, wages are better than the minimum, and pensions provide some security. The unions have learned, however awkwardly, to accept that they have been successful, but they also know that if some people had their way in the world, they would turn back to clock to 1911, put children to work, take away the healthcare, and demand more production. After all, it works for the Chinese, and look how they’re doing.

By the way, not all union workers are Democrats; they certainly weren’t were I grew up. A lot of them are hardcore Republicans or conservatives — including police officers — who don’t care about the politics; they just want to be treated fairly. And a lot of people who are not union members are working under union contracts; in most places there is no requirement to join a union to benefit from their efforts. So while actual union membership may be down to 15%, the number of people who are part of the union is far greater. That includes public sector jobs as well as private. So the next time someone feels the urge to union-bash, be sure you’re not peeing in your own campfire.

Full disclosure: I am a dues-paying member of a union of sorts; I belong to the Dramatists Guild. It provides services for writers and lyricists and makes sure that when our works are produced, we have a fair contract and get paid our royalties. The joke among us is that we don’t go on strike; we just get writers’ block.

Happy Labor Day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

No Help

Charlie Pierce doesn’t think there’s anything nefarious in Mitt Romney’s tax returns. (John Cassidy at The New Yorker begs to differ.) He just won’t release them because the common people wouldn’t understand what a terrible burden it is being rich and that all those loopholes and off-shore tax havens aren’t just for his benefit; they’re there to make it so he can be a job creator and shine his beneficence on the rest of us.

The Help has no right to go pawing through the family books, giggling at the obvious loopholes and tax dodges, running amok through all the tax shelters, and probably getting their chocolate-y fingerprints all over the pages of the Romney family ledger. And, certainly, those members of The Help in the employ of the president of the United States, who is also part of The Help, have no right to use the nearly comically ostentatious wealth of the Romney as some sort of scrimey political weapon. He does not have to answer to The Help. I mean, jeepers, he’s running for office.

This isn’t stubbornness. That’s often an acquired trait. What this is, fundamentally, is contempt. Contempt for the process, and contempt for the people who make their living in that process, and contempt for the people whose lives depend on that process. There are rules for The Help with which Willard Romney never has had to abide, and he has no intention of starting now. My dear young fellow, this simply is not done.

Now, have Lawrence bring the station wagon around to the front; I need to take the dog for a walk.

No Help

Charlie Pierce doesn’t think there’s anything nefarious in Mitt Romney’s tax returns. (John Cassidy at The New Yorker begs to differ.) He just won’t release them because the common people wouldn’t understand what a terrible burden it is being rich and that all those loopholes and off-shore tax havens aren’t just for his benefit; they’re there to make it so he can be a job creator and shine his beneficence on the rest of us.

The Help has no right to go pawing through the family books, giggling at the obvious loopholes and tax dodges, running amok through all the tax shelters, and probably getting their chocolate-y fingerprints all over the pages of the Romney family ledger. And, certainly, those members of The Help in the employ of the president of the United States, who is also part of The Help, have no right to use the nearly comically ostentatious wealth of the Romney as some sort of scrimey political weapon. He does not have to answer to The Help. I mean, jeepers, he’s running for office.

This isn’t stubbornness. That’s often an acquired trait. What this is, fundamentally, is contempt. Contempt for the process, and contempt for the people who make their living in that process, and contempt for the people whose lives depend on that process. There are rules for The Help with which Willard Romney never has had to abide, and he has no intention of starting now. My dear young fellow, this simply is not done.

Now, have Lawrence bring the station wagon around to the front; I need to take the dog for a walk.