Saturday, September 01, 2012

Thanksgiving Feasts for Some, Pink Slips for Others

Note: I will be editing this post due to some doubts about the provenance of the video I embedded in the original text.  I will keep the original text, with an added caveat, at my own place.  I would not wish to bring shame on my hosts at Rumproast.  Here’s a nod of the naked noggin to D. Johnson in the comments.

In this post, I’m going to reveal my “Johnny Roughnuts” side… after all, I’m not the Big Benevolent Bald Bunny, now.  To put it bluntly, when I watched a speech by a Romney friend on Thursday regarding Mitt’s generosity, I was unimpressed.  While the speech hit some emotional notes, I think the context undermines the premise of Mitt as philanthropist.

The opening of the speech gives the game away:

In 1982, my husband Grant and I moved from California to Massachusetts, with our newborn son.
Being a church-going family, we looked for the nearest chapel and soon found ourselves in a congregation led by a clearly bright and capable man, named Mitt Romney.
I knew Mitt was special from the start.
We didn’t own a dryer, and the day he stopped by to welcome us, I was embarrassed to have laundry hanging all over the house. Mitt wasn’t fazed.
In fact, as we spoke, without a word, he joined me and started helpfully plucking clothes from around the room and folding them.
By the time Mitt left, not only did I feel welcome, my laundry was done!
As Grant and I juggled school, jobs, church and family, we grew to love the Romneys.
They became role-models and friends, and we were honored when Mitt and Ann regularly trusted us to stay with their five rambunctious – but very loving – sons when they traveled.

Mitt wasn’t merely a generous friend, he was the equivalent of a Catholic or Episcopalian bishop presiding over a small Mormon community in a northeastern state, the leader of a minority faith group in an indifferent, or even hostile, territory.  Significantly, Mormons tithe, they relinquish a portion of their earnings to their church, and some of the money tithed goes towards maintaining bishops’ storehouses, which are used to provide assistance to persons deemed worthy by the religious authorities.  It is in this context that one has to view the following:

It was when our daughter Kate was born three and a half months early that I fully came to appreciate what a great treasure of friendship we had in Mitt and Ann.
Kate was so tiny and very sick.
Her lungs not yet ready to breathe, her heart unstable, and after suffering a severe brain hemorrhage at three days old, she was teetering on the very edge of life.
As I sat with her in intensive care, consumed with a mother’s worry and fear, dear Mitt came to visit and pray with me.
As our clergy, he was one of few visitors allowed.
I will never forget that when he looked down tenderly at my daughter, his eyes filled with tears, and he reached out gently and stroked her tiny back.
I could tell immediately that he didn’t just see a tangle of plastic and tubes; he saw our beautiful little girl, and he was clearly overcome with compassion for her.
During the many months Kate was hospitalized, the Romneys often cared for our two-year old son, Peter. They treated him like one of their own, even welcoming him to stay the night when needed.
When Thanksgiving rolled around, Kate was still struggling for life.
Brain surgery was scheduled, and the holiday was the furthest thing from our minds.
I opened my door to find Mitt and his boys, arms loaded with a Thanksgiving feast.
Of course we were overcome. When I called to thank Ann, she sweetly confessed it had been Mitt’s idea, that most of the cooking and chopping had been done by him.
She and the boys had just happily pitched in.

While it may be a heartwarming tale of generosity, I can picture Mitt saying, “I can’t let these people go hungry, I’m stake president, for Pete’s sake.”  Simply put, Mitt pretty much had to assist this family.  As the equivalent of a bishop, would he have risked alienating his flock by ignoring the plight of this family that had fallen on hard times?  As someone raised in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, I can vouch for the fact that bad bishoping has a deleterious effect on the size and devotion of congregations.  For a leader of a minority faith community, the need for cohesion in a “foreign” area is crucial.

Meanwhile, Mitt’s “charity” does not seem to extend to those outside his “in group”- he had no qualms about outsourcing jobs to low-wage countries such as China and India… pardon the lack of a link, but the html for a link to the Washington Post article on Bain’s outsourcing was hopelessly broken.

I’ve developed a jaundiced view of the concept of “charity”, which seems to be an obsession for right wingers.  Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and Michele Bachmann all opined that uninsured Americans should rely on charitable organizations to provide healthcare.  This poses a few major problems.  First, and most significantly, charities do not have to provide help to all individuals, just ones that they find “worthy”.  While Mitt was perfectly happy to hand carry a Thanksgiving feast to the home of a congregant, would he have shown such noblesse oblige to a poor lesbian, or a sex worker, or an atheist?  It’s easy for a rich religious leader to dip into the community chest to resdistribute the tithes he collects to one he considers in the “us” category, he’s much less likely to help one of “them” (as Jesus H. Christ famously noted).  Secondly, charities aren’t always on the level- for example, the Susan G. Komen controversy shed quite a bit of light on the outrageous compensation packages for top executives.  Additionally, a lot of charities operate on the “Bad Samaritan” model- even though the “Samaritan” stops to help the wounded traveler at the side of the road, he’s the guy who hired the brigands to rob and beat the man, and took a cut of the take.  Mitt helped a family that he was personally involved with, then turned around and laid off thousands of other breadwinners, and we’re supposed to think he’s a good guy?  Charitable donations are often a way to assuage the guilt of the corporate shark, while putting a publicly pious façade on the rapacious. 

Personally, I trust the government more than I trust the churches and the private charities.  The New Deal was the single greatest anti-poverty measure in the history of the planet.  Public servants aren’t skimming millions of dollars off the top in the form of salaries and expense reimbursements.  They don’t flaunt their “largesse” over their lessers, but quietly and competently get the job done.  I don’t mind paying my taxes, and I don’t think that the miniscule number of scammers should inspire the demolition of the safety net.  I want to see the government do more to alleviate poverty, to expand healthcare coverage.  If that means the death of private charities, so much the better.

I don’t want a world of “Thanksgiving feasts for some, and pink slips for others”.

Posted by Big Bad Bald Bastard on 09/01/12 at 02:25 PM

Categories: PoliticsElection '12Vulture/Voucher 2012

The Way We Were


Meet the Harrises.  Mark and Irene.  Who realized a dream in Tampa this week, brushing elbows with the “movers and shakers” of the GOP.  Their bliss was only marred by one unfortunate incident that reminded them of just how depraved this country has become under socialism.  We’ll get to that, soon, but first a little background. 

Mark Harris is a Republican Committeeman (for now), representing Snyder County, Pennsylvania, a little slice of heaven just to the left of Shamokin (which is still “mighty Right”), in the territory Philadelphians refer to as “Pennsyl-tucky.”

According to their website, Rock Star GOP, (?) “Mark and Irene are both pro‐life, believe marriage is between one man and one woman, are for open records and transparency, believe in very conservative principles and the Republican platform.”  And are solidly behind Tom Smith, the wingnut TEA Party candidate running against Sen. Bob Casey.

The Harrises attended this week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, where Mark was a delegate representing the state’s 10th Congressional District. Like all hip tourists, Mark and Irene posted updates during their trip to keep their 7 readers abreast of developments, which included this on Thursday:

“During our time at Epcot we visited the different countries. It was neat seeing each country and the employees were from that individual country. Then we visited America,” where the Harris blog notes the couple discovered a Hispanic person working.

One would think you would find American employees. We were offended to find a person from Mexico working in America. Mark spoke up and told them he was highly offended after visiting the other countries and seeing employees from that country and then come to America and find a Mexican. He was very civil, but his point was well made.

Imagine!?!  The cheek of that foreigner . . .

read the whole post »

Posted by Bette Noir on 09/01/12 at 07:39 AM

Categories: CrittersPoliticsElection '12Nutters

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