Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mitt Romney: A Simple Test of Character

Ironic, isn’t it?

Ironic that the very people most outspoken about gun rights are the ones who keep shooting themselves in the foot.

But I digress.


Know how to spot a jackass?

Know how to spot a racist? A bigot? A sexist? A hater?

Sure you do.

Sometimes they make it easy.

They glory in their hate.

They wear it proudly like a lovingly polished pair of jackboots pressing down on your throat.

They put on a white hood and burn crosses in other people’s front yards.  They tattoo swastikas on their faces and shave their heads and march down the middle of the street shouting slogans with their fists raised high. They wrap themselves in their religion and their flags and stand on the corners waving their guns and holy books, screaming hatred and intolerance. They’re easy to spot because they’re too stupid and ignorant and filled with seething hatred not to be.

And sometimes they’re not quite so obvious.

At first.

But, they don’t try to hide their bigotry and they don’t understand why they should have to. They know what they are, but they think that they’re righteous in their bias, justified by history and some ancient wrong, by religion, by class and wealth, by rank and position, by birthright.

Often they seem like decent people – they think they are decent people – but the quiet little hate is still plain to see without much effort.

There’s an old saying: a sure test of a man’s character is how he treats the waiter. Over the years I’ve found that to be an excellent measure.  Back when I was in the Navy I used to see it in the wardroom and the passageways of Officer Country. It was easy to tell which officer thought their position a privilege and a sacred trust, and which thought they were born to a commission by right, wealth, education or inheritance.  All you had to do was watch how they treated their juniors and the enlisted men who cooked their meals and washed their clothes and cleaned their toilet and shower. A surer test of character there never was, nor a more certain predictor of their actions in the crucible of battle, crisis, and among the endless stressors of daily life inside a warship. If you want to know what kind of officer you’re dealing with, watch how he or she talks to the Filipino mess cooks.

And sometimes, they try to hide it.

They work to conceal the hate, the bigotry, and the contempt, but it’s still there, right below the surface, hidden behind a firm genial handshake and a warm white friendly smile.

A person can change, they can grow, they can learn not to hate, they can learn to think and see and feel instead of paraphrasing somebody else’s twisted worldview, they can learn empathy and they can learn respect. They can learn not to be selfish, they can learn not to lie to themselves. They can become the actual person their religion, their country, their education, or their conscience tells them to be.

They can do that, change, anybody can.

For many of us, that’s part of the process of growing up.

People can change.

But too many don’t. They won’t.

And they won’t because, down deep where it really matters, they don’t think their little hates are wrong.

They keep that little hate alive. And they hide it because they don’t want you to see it and they’re just too cowardly to admit – especially to themselves – that they need the people they despise.

So they hide who they really are.

But you can still tell.

It’s not how they act in public – and that’s exactly what it is, an act.

It’s not even how they treat the waiter – because they know you’re watching and they’re on their best behavior.

It’s who they are among like-minded friends. That’s the real indicator.


The true test of character is how a person acts when they think nobody is watching.


These are the people who want you to believe that they’re not racists because they don’t actually call a black man racial slurs to his face. They want you to believe they’re not racists because they talk to an Asian woman waiting on their table in a civil manner. They want you believe that they are not racists because they listen to Feliz Navidad on the radio at Christmas time. But they get racist jokes via email, and they never protest or set the sender straight because, well, you know, the sender isn’t a racist he’s just being funny. Besides, who does it hurt? Nobody here but us white folks. Then they send it on, it’s not racism, it’s just funny. These are the folks who practice a kind of Leave It To Beaver racism, happy smiling 1950’s racism where everybody knows their place and people of color are the help, not the President.

These are the people who want you to believe that they’re not sexists because they don’t actually beat their wives. They want you to believe they are not sexists because they didn’t sell their daughters into slavery or into arranged marriages like they do over there in that heathen country, you know the one. But then they consistently proclaim the inferiority of women and attempt to marginalize them at every turn, from healthcare to pay to law to religion to politics to rape – to the jokes they share with their friends in the locker room where their wives and girlfriends can’t hear.

These are the people who want you to believe that they’re not homophobic because they don’t actually demand that gay people be stoned to death in the public square – well, not out loud anyway. These are the folks who think they’re being tolerant because they suffer a gay man to live, but not to marry. These are the folks who say they believe in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – just not for everybody. Every Sunday they sit smug in their pews and they listen to their holy man tell them how God hates homosexuals and they do not protest.

These are the people who want you to believe that they’re not anti-Semites because they want America to kill a million Muslims in support of Israel – meanwhile on the internet they anonymously decry the nefarious Jew who doesn’t love Jesus and secretly schemes to take over America, indeed, the world.

These are the people who come at you with a hand extended and a smile on their faces, who kiss your baby and tell you that they understand. But underneath?

Underneath they regard you with scorn and contempt.

When they’re among their friends and cronies and when they think they’re alone with people just like themselves, when they think nobody can hear, well then you find out exactly what they’re made of, don’t you?

"…There are forty-seven percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are forty-seven percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it – that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. These are people who pay no income tax. [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

The true test of character is how a person acts when they think nobody is watching.

And here, ultimately, is what Mitt Romney thinks of nearly half of his fellow Americans.

It’s been 24 hours since Mother Jones broke the news and published Mitt Romney’s comments before his rich white friends when he thought nobody was looking.

Every pundit and politician and news outlet in the country has torn this statement apart today. I have a few observations to add.

Romney was speaking at a fund raising party in the Boca Raton home of private equity fund manager, Marc Leder. Despite the claims of conspiracy nuts, there is no disputing that it was Romney. There’s no disputing exactly what he said, or exactly how he meant it when he thought it was “just us rich white folk.” Mitt himself admits as much and says that he stands by his comments – even if he could have said it better.

He stands by his words. Well, good for him.  To bad he didn’t show that kind of character before he opened his mouth in Boca Raton.

Welcome to the age of the personal webcam, Mitt.

Welcome to the internet.

It’s not like the old days when you could just deny, and keep denying, you ever said something. You get caught spouting off bigotry to your cronies nowadays and there’s a damned good chance you just exposed yourself to the entire world.

The future King of England will likely survive having his wife’s tits splashed across the internet, but it remains to be seen if GOP presidential aspirations will survive a similar exposure of their boobs.

As I’ve said previously, Mitt Romney acts like the rich jackass upper classman from every single 1980’s John Cusack movie.

But that’s not really what is so galling about Romney’s statement.

And it’s not that it’s accurate, because it’s not - not even close.

It’s that his unguarded words show you just how much contempt these people have for the rest of us. And when I say “the rest of us” I’m not just talking about liberals. I’m not just talking about the forty seven percent that Romney assumes (inaccurately as it turns out) support his opponent.

When Mitt Romney looks down his nose, he’s looking at all of us who don’t happen to live in the big house, Left and Right.

And that means you conservatives too.

Let’s review, shall we?

Romney’s assertion relies on stereotypes and assumptions about one demographic: the forty-seven percent of Americans who supposedly don’t pay income taxes. That number is accurate as far as it goes.

According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, during tax year 2011 46.4% of taxpayers did not, in fact, pay federal income tax. (I note that Romney, a guy supposedly good with money, rounded up when the rules of basic math indicate he should have rounded down. But I guess 47 percent sounds more impressive than 46. It does make you wonder about those budget numbers he keeps throwing around though, doesn’t it? But, again, here I am digressing).

That’s where Romney should have stopped. Right there.

Or rather, if he was going to use that number, he should have explained how it was derived – after all he’s talking to investment brokers and fund managers, they should have had no trouble understanding the math (er, well, OK, point taken). But, really, neither Romney nor his rich friends are interested in that, they want to hear how half of America is made up of socialist parasites. It feeds right into their self-image, their idea that they are exceptional and special and better than the riff-raff.

Politicians complain when some damned dumb inflammatory statement they said is taken out of context. No problem, let’s look at Romney’s assertion in the context of his statement. 

About forty-seven percent of Americans don’t pay Federal Income Taxes.

The population of the United States is around three hundred million.

Therefore basic math indicates roughly one hundred and forty million people, a little less than half of the American population, do not pay income taxes.

And that’s correct, more or less, but taken as a number without further qualification, as Mitt Romney specifically did, it is grossly misleading.

Demonstratively so. 

Taken in context, Romney’s statement directly says one and forty million Americans are automatic Obama voters who are a) dependent on the government, b) think they are entitled to government support without earning it, and c) whiners.

Folks, if Obama could depend on one hundred and forty million votes, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, would we?

So, what about those one hundred and forty million Americans?

Why don’t they have to pay Federal Income Taxes?

Well, for starters, because a lot of them are kids.  Uh huh, kids.  Technically, I guess Mitt is right, they are parasites, and who would know that better than a Mormon, right? Big families, lots of kids. Kids feel like they’re entitled to stuff. Yep, I concede the point.  We were all in this category once upon a time, kids I mean, not necessarily Mormons. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t expected to kick in as a four year old.

Speaking of kids, some of that one hundred and forty million are teenagers, they work minimum wage jobs and they just don’t make enough to pay federal income tax. I was one of these people too once, longer ago than I care to remember.

A significant number don’t pay taxes because they are homeless, or poor, or handicapped in one fashion or the other. Some are bankrupt, some by their own hand, some by the bad business decisions of others, some by circumstances beyond their control. And some, well, some were left ruined by Mitt Romney and the very people he was talking to. Some of us have also been in this category at one time or another, including me.

Some of them don’t pay taxes because they are wearing a uniform of the United States, and they’re in the warzone right now. I’ve been in this category as well. Several times. You send us to war, you get to pay not only for the war itself and pay us for serving there, you also lose the income we would have paid into federal and state coffers. Didn’t think about that, did you? Generally military people serving in warzones are exempt from Federal Income Tax. For the last ten years, for every Soldier and Sailor and Marine and Airman and Guardsman you sent into the warzone, you removed a taxpayer from the rolls.  And when we come home, well some of us are too broken to return to being productive taxpaying citizens, and you get to pay for that too.  War costs. A lot. In many more ways than one.  We bought this war on credit and now the bill is due, with interest. Still want to invade Iran?

Some of them – a very small amount - don’t pay taxes because they are rich and they are taking advantage of legal loopholes in the tax code available only to the wealthy. I’ve never been in this category, but to be honest, I suspect that it is very likely that I would take advantage of the loopholes too, given the opportunity.

And many of them are old. A good many. Hopefully all of us will be in this category ourselves one day. As they say, it sure beats the alternative.

In point of fact, there are a number of very good reasons why about half of Americans don’t pay federal income tax.

Sure, there is a germ of truth in Mitt Romney’s assertion, but only a germ. 

It’s only a smaller percentage of folks, really, who are parasites on the system.

And there’s a big difference between  the total number of Americans and the total number of Americans who are required to file federal income taxes. Mitt Romney’s statement implies the former, but really means the later.

Note that those reasons do not mean that the folks who currently don’t pay federal income taxes have never paid federal income taxes, or that they never will pay federal income taxes. 

Most of those kids will grow up to pay taxes which in turn will support their kids when the time comes. Most of those old people paid taxes at one time or the other, most paid taxes their whole lives.  So did most of those military folks. And all of those people pay other taxes, payroll taxes, gas tax and sales tax and state taxes and city taxes. People who don’t have to pay federal income tax often have to pay Social Security and Medicare withholdings – and that was Mitt’s beef, they get entitlements without paying federal income tax. But in reality for most of that one hundred and forty million, the entitlements they’re getting they did indeed pay for – or their parents did.

Deliberately implying that one hundred and forty million Americans are freeloading parasites who will automatically vote Democrat because they like handouts is misleading at best and an out and out bald faced pandering lie at worst. I’ll leave it to you to decide which Mitt is engaged in. Personally, despite Rick Santorum’s remark about conservatives being stupid, I think Mitt Romney is plenty smart enough to know exactly what he’s saying.  Maybe Mitt ought to have a chat with his righteously moral God about that.

Romney dismissed the conservative bluehairs who make up the knobby spine of the Tea Party and conservative laborers and members of the military serving in the warzone right along with the tofu-eating Prius-driving sissy-liberals and the welfare queens.

But that’s just how Mitt Romney and his rich friends see us. All of us. Left and Right.

Don’t believe me?

That’s certainly your right, but what makes you think that a man who would strap a member of his family to the roof of a car is likely to treat you any better?

Perhaps in the final measure, the truest test of character is how a man treats his dog.

Especially when nobody is watching.


  1. Another winner, Jim.
    Keep 'em coming.
    It is always a good day when I come aboard Stonekettle Station and find a new offering from you. You have no idea (or maybe you do) how much hope you provide to those of us who wonder if we are wandering alone in the wilderness surrounded by Red-leaning thinkers (and, worse, speakers).
    Fair winds.
    Old Navy Comm O

  2. Thanks, and you have to give me a least an hour before you start pointing out the numerous typos. I'm working on it.


    1. Rew as in How do you do, my name is Rew and I come from "The SaultSeptember 19, 2012 at 6:00 AM

      I see 'em but I forgive 'em. The power of the message outshines any little errors. :D

    2. I agree, who cares about typos when you have content like this? I don't even see them.

    3. Jim,
      I was just so enjoying the read that I thought I'd leave all the nit picking to others this time. Besides I didn't want the first comment to be anything other than 100% positive.
      Thanks again...it is truly a fine world that you to write in it!
      BZ, shipmate!
      Old Navy Comm O

  3. "But that’s just how Mitt Romney and his rich friends see us. All of us. Left and Right."

    You hit it on the head with that. You are who you really are around your true friends. Excellent post- I think I am getting spoiled here with the plethora of pulitzer-level posts!! Thank you, Mr. Wright.


    (Actually I know people who treat their dogs better than their kids- what does THAT tell you?)

  4. Not too long after this broke, The Atlantic Monthly posted a map regarding just where these "liberal freeloaders" live. They ranked the states by percentage of people who paid no income tax. Now, if Romney was right, you'd see all of these states in the liberal Northeast, Midwest and Pacific Coast state.

    But he wasn't.

    With one exception (the very Red state Idaho), all of the states that are in the top ten among those who have the most "freeloaders" are in the Republican stronghold of the Deep South. Every. Single. One. South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico (ok, admittedly New Mexico isn't as conservative as it once was, but it makes a solid block). The states where the GOP is the strongest are also the very states that are the biggest moochers. Of course, those of us who noticed the socialistic redistribution of federal spending by region initiated by the Gingrich-era Congress have known this for fifteen years. The "conservative" states are, with virtually no exceptions, drains on the federal treasury. The "liberal" states, again with virtually no exceptions, bankroll them.

    Yes, Santorum said that the smart people will never be on their side and he's right. Romney said that the "freeloaders" will never be on their side and he couldn't be more wrong. The GOP, without the freeloader states of the Mountain West, the Great Plains and especially the Deep South, would be utterly impotent as a political party.

    1. Magister, you have struck the nail on the head. The best marketers in the world have formulated political branding strategies to appeal to how folks in those bright red "leech" states, so that they vote against their own best interest because they've been led to beleive it's congruent with how they want to see themselves.

      It's amazing how well it's worked, see here...

    2. Good lord, I'm almost as bad as Jim with the typos...

      should be "appeal to folks in thos bright red states," minus the "how"

      And it's "believe," or course...


    3. Did not find map on Atlantic site. Do you have a link. please.

      Good post as well.


    4. Never mind, found it:



  5. I really, really wish we would come up with a better word to use than "entitlement" for these programs. Increasingly, the way it gets used tends to imply people demanding things they only *think* they deserve.

    Any ideas?

    1. Maybe just calling the speaker on the use of the word entitlement. Maybe just pointing that we or our parents have all paid into the system. Maybe pointing out that our money supports those programs so that as many people as possible will have as good a life as possible.

      I have never collected unemployment, but I do not resent that other people have benefitted from the fact that I have paid into unemployment insurance (yes it is insurance offered through the state). My life is actually better because other peoples' problems are eased by my contribution. Maybe we need to point things like this out every single time someone referres to our "entitlements".

    2. The anonymous answerer is right (on the first paragraph) .

      It really is the framing the word 'entitlement' as a bad thing. It's not. You are entitled because you paid in.

      You contributed, and are pulling back out, what you need due to the disadvantage of being laid off at will from employment because you don't get unemployment if you are fired for cause, or what you were promised that you paid in for, in the case of social security. Even social security disability has some frame of reference to what you once earned.

      Social security and unemployment are best explained as government run insurance programs. They are not some sort of freebie handout. Your social security and unemployment taxes were your premiums.

      And now we get to wander into the ACA and the mandate issue.... required to pay for insurance? Of course. We've been doing that all along for two other things we have.

    3. These programs were always called 'social services' until very recently. I don't know why it changed to use the Republican-Tea Party term. Maybe it was some conspiracy of the big bad liberal media. ;) They are not entitlements. In many cases they are programs which we must pay into before we become eligible to receive benefits.

    4. Google this. There was a Lyin' Ryan $15 luncheon that he held instead of a town hall. As he was blathering on about entitlements a 71-year old gentleman got up and started yelling "STOP CALLING THEM ENTITLEMENTS - I WORKED FOR THOSE FOR 40 YEARS!!!..." I shit you not he was tacked and taken out in handcuffs.

    5. Not "entitlements" but insurance. You pay in and, even if you get more out than you paid in, that's the coverage you purchased. Unemployment, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, welfare benefits, etc. Those are the programs citizens pool their money into as a *safety net*, similar to life, car and homeowners' insurance. Only the private sector never did come up with reasonable, *affordable* precursors to those gov't insurances. So the fed and state gov'ts stepped in and did it - more efficiently too, studies prove. Let's just call those things "non-profit insurances". I think this is mentioned by some other commenters below (I confess to skimming later ones).

    6. How about Return on Investment? That is a term that the so called Captains of Industry understand. It is also accurate. And by the way, a person is entitled to his or her SSI ROI because it was made with labor and hard dollars, not soft dollars and OPM (Other People's Money).

  6. Must say, I'm new to your blog and I've been reading over your past entries and keeping up with your current events. Thank you for giving a solid and compassionate, HUMAN voice to issues that we are all concerned about, without the rant and slant. To the point of your post, I know the name of every member of the cleaning staff at my office, what country they hail from and have helped many of them navigate the waters of day-to-day business paperwork. Many of my fellow co-workers ask why I "waste my time" on these folks. I say, we both put our pants on, one leg at a time and what makes me better than the guy who empties my trash? So far, I've avoided throat punching anyone or stabbing them with one of my high heels. Been close, but I've maintained control, lol.

    What makes us human is our humanity, and so far... I'm not seeing a whole heck of a lot of that in Mr. Romney. Again, thanks for the post.

  7. Awesome as usual. Keep em coming.

    Nitpick: "Maybe Mitt ought to have a chat with his righteously morale God about that." morale -> moral

    1. I think you guys are starting to regard this as too much fun, like Where's Waldo.

      It's fixed. Thanks.

    2. It's kind of apropos, however. I'm pretty sure FSM, God, Yahweh, Buddha, Allah, She Who Must Be Obeyed or whomever Mitt bows down to (looks down his nose?)'s morale is in the toilet (a Cosmic Crapper, if you will) because he has no morals.

      I've disliked the man ever since I read about the dog on the roof. My furry kids ride inside, asshole. Him, I'd strap to the roof. And keep driving to Canada and back (I forgot to turn the water off), and then back again.


    3. Whatever you do don't leave him in Canada we have our own asshole to deal with.

    4. Nope, I'll kick him out on Kristol's doorstep, he thought Palin and Romney were such great choices, let HIM adopt 'em.

      How is Harper doing, now that you mention him?


  8. Righteously morale God is the only typo I noticed. Beatings will continue until you heathens get better morales?

    1. Already fixed. But thanks, anyway.

    2. You're having too/to/two issues Jim. I love your posts and relish reading them when they appear. I've been lurking for awhile and I really don't want to be a grammar harpy but I'm a former proofreader and editor so it's in my nature now. But we grammar harpies only do it to make sure that you are the best you can be. We don't want to see you skewered for a typo.

      That would be TOO bad. You made this error in the past TWO posts. I know you don't mean TO mix up your words intentionally.

      Otherwise, keep up your excellent work. I really do appreciate it! Thanks!

    3. Grammar Harpy - You've described me. Thanks, I'll use it.

  9. I knew the wait would be worth it (As soon as I heard about the video I thought "I wonder what Jim will say?"). Thank you Jim.

    I'm not usually one for correcting peoples writing because I make more mistakes than the average, so I apologize in advance. Did you mean 47 'percent' instead of 47 million?

    "According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, during tax year 2011 46.4% of taxpayers did not, in fact, pay federal income tax. (I note that Romney, a guy supposedly good with money, rounded up when the rules of basic math indicate he should have rounded down. But I guess 47 Million sounds more impressive than 46..."

  10. That was amazing. Your posts get better all the time. Thank you.

  11. We bought this one (on?, with?) credit. Otherwise, top quality stuff, as usual. Good thing that guy already has a bunch of kids, the way he keeps stepping on his dick, it might not be good for anything soon.

    1. On credit. Fixed. Like I said above, I think you people are starting to enjoy finding the typos :)

    2. You know, I for one simply skim over any typos. I'm looking for meat! Your typos reflect your passion as you write. Keep up the awesome work, Jim. I may know my grammar and spelling but you know your way around the playground. Lead on!

    3. I'm with you, Susan. I don't even care about the typos. It's easy to know what Jim's talking about when he's saying exactly what I'm thinking. I think my brain just auto-corrects it for me while I read.

    4. Well said, Susan Duckett. No silly typo took away from the strength and "rightness" of your message. I'm not a long-time reader, but from what I have read of late, I will be checking out your earlier postings soon. You seem to be a very thinking, caring person and best of all - you seem to agree with ME. And we (you and me) are right as rain on this one!)

  12. The problem, well, one of the problems is that map that shows how the biggest federal freeloaders are in the reddest states. Because they're like the old Tea Partiers who shouted at their representatives to keep the government out of their Medicare and Social Security. Because all those good conservatives know they aren't a part of the 46% because, by God, they earned what they got. They paid in. It's all those other freeloaders out there that are the problem. And so, those red state conservatives will never see themselves in Romney's 47%, even though it's very clear to the rest of us that Romney wasn't talking about the 47%, he was talking to the 1%, telling them what they know, that the rest of the 99% aren't as good, aren't deserving of what they have. And that the 1% is more than deserving and the rest of us should be thankful for their clear guidance. And if you aren't of the 1%, Romney doesn't give a good goddam about them. That was evident from all those at the RNC who gave their personal testimony about how Romney was such a good person. All of them a part of the crowd Romney believes are "his people" (or as the rest of us call them, the "Good People").

  13. Overlap that map of the 46-47% with this:

    Guess which sides wants Right To Work Reduced Wages Laws...

    Dr. Phil

  14. Jim

    By the time I was 8 yrs old I knew just about every ethnic perjorative that existed at the time. And where did I learn them, - from kids in school, neighbors, shopkeepers, etc., etc., but seldom at home. I hated it when someone called me using an ethnic slur and I avoided using them as a result. But I also found out that you could get a bloody nose if you used the wrong one at the wrong time.

    And on the issue of paying taxes, I started paying into Social Security when I was in jr high school in the early 1940’s practically from day one (it wasn’t a hell of a lot of money considering that I made 18cents/hr stocking shelves in the first supermarket in town). And I paid into Medicare from the time it came on board in ’65 until I retired about 20 years ago. It was the understanding when these became a part of our life that the money contributed would be invested in government securities as a form of insurance, Actuaries calculating the amount of money that would be available, estimated that all retired contributors would get coverage. Their figures were helped somewhat by the life expectancy tables of the late 1930’s projecting 65 as the average. In truth, it’s been a bargain for me because I’m now in my mid-80’s. My parents and brothers were on the other side of the distribution curve so I don’t apologize for what I’ve received.

    But don’t ever believe that my wife and I don’t pay taxes. We both have retirement plans and a few minor investments and the Feds and the state take a sizeable chunk for taxes. But I fully understand the theory of the “common good” so I don’t complain. I also do a lot of volunteer work that must have some value though I’ve never figured out how much it might be worth. All I want to consider is whether it has some value to others who might need some help. Isn’t that what this country is supposed to be all about?

    John from Rhody

    1. I wish there was a "Like" button here ... Thank you, John. And thank you, Jim.

      You make me believe there IS hope in and for this country. I am one of 8 "older" adults in my family - most of my relatives are members of the Christian Right. It's very discouraging to see the people you love spout and spew the crap that the Republicans and Christian Right are feeding them. It actually makes me cry some days.

    2. John from Rhody,

      Proud to make your acquaitance, sir.

      Kay from New Mexico

  15. Thank you for being such an eloquent voice of reason. You have put into words exactly what I've been thinking and feeling for a long time. I've only recently found your blog, and I am already a big fan.

  16. Those of us who sacrificed our economic lives to serve our country deserve better than being insulted by a jerk like this. Willard seems to be setting the bar for his campaign somewhere between YGTBSM and simply stupid.
    It's rumored that a simple "server" at the event recorded the video. I guess it's better than burning down homes in Boca Raton or the Hamptons.

  17. Jim, I very rarely read blogs, but a friend of mine referred me to this one and I must say....Bravo! I too am a retired Chief Petty Officer, living in Virginia and paid my taxes (when I wasn't in a war zone). I'm currently not paying any Federal Income taxes because I'm jobless and living on my retired pay. And I'm a "freeloader"? Or have I earned that right after 22 years of service? Come them coming, and I'll be reading from now on.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. I deleted this because I wasn't careful with my spelling. See below. Cheers!

  19. Thanks for another fine piece. Eloquent and fair. And not a cheap shot to be found in your commentary, in spite of the fact that your subject is begging for it. Thank you for your continued service.

  20. If I didn't know better (or at least think that way), I'd swear you hide some typos on purpose just to give your fans some extra incentive to read the posts. Like an interactive thing - here you go, guys - have at it. There are xx of them, good luck. ;o)

    Of course, there's no need, since these posts are truly instructive and inspirational - at least for me. I especially appreciate the intro using your experience in the wardroom. I shared the same observations in the Chief's mess during my career. You can tell a lot about a leader by the way they treat their people and, hell, everyone else for that matter. Dignity and respect, even for the least, knowing that everyone makes a contribution. These leaders don't do it because they're expecting something eventually in return (though that does end up being a fringe benefit), they do it because it's just the right thing to do - period.

    One other quick observation. You pretty thoroughly dissected the 47% that don't pay income taxes, but Romney conflates this number with some similar percentage who receive government benefits. Although the numbers are similar, they are NOT the same thing. There's a good description of these on Ezra Klein's Wong Blog at the Washington Post site. You may already be familiar with this, but here's a link - if it's allowed - http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/09/18/who-receives-benefits-from-the-federal-government-in-six-charts/

    Thank you for all you do.

  21. Jim, this was crafted so well, and so pithy, it was sheer pleasure to read it. I grew up in CT, so visiting my college beau in Maryland was like visiting another planet, especially as far as racism and sexism were concerned. I went out with him and his cousins friends one night, and if I opened my mouth and said anything, they all stopped and looked at me, and then continued on as if I had said nothing at all. It took me a while to figure that out. And the jokes! The racist jokes they all assumed I would like because I was not black. I felt soiled on coming home that night.

  22. As always thanks so much for your thoughts...and I'll be sharing...

  23. With all due seriousness, Jim, have you ever tried selling any of these pieces?

    I'm sure some magazine would pay you real money for them. I certainly would.

  24. The comments early in the video about immigrants killed me. We don't let the "smart" ones in, just the ones with no skills...his marginalization of the human race is nauseating.

    That video (of which I have only choked my way through 12 minutes, with breaks)shows the spectrum of moral bankruptcy he has. I was a Republican until the last year or so. This video (even in the first 12 minutes) shows every reason [magnified] why I left and have not looked back...and I pay double the effective tax rate Romney does....

    Did anyone notice his China talk as well? Very different than his public stance on that...

    Anyway, great post. This video should should guarantee him a loss, except the idea of being socially offensive is more appealing to the Tea Party and GOP than allowing Obama to win another term. They will defend him, "explain" away the language used, and divert all attention on to the "parasites" of society, and unite the elitists, right wing, Conservatives, and racists to give President Obama a run for his money in November.

    1. I feel this as well that's why it is important we vote.

  25. "To bad he didn’t show that kind of character before he opened his mouth in Boca Raton."

    (Great post. I found a Waldo! :) )

    1. Finding a Waldo....another Wrightism. Still and always my lower case god, Jim.

  26. Jim, Thanks so much for your blog. It's nice to hear a voice of reasonable dissent. Even though I'm one of those elite liberals, I still get tired of the "leftist" rants. You did cause one of pet peeves to growl, though: old adage. Guess that's a reeeeeealy old saying.


  27. The real Willard Romney shows through in this fundraiser.

    There a few things things I'd like to point out about your analysis of those not paying income taxes. I think that Willard doesn't understand the concept of children not "earning" money and paying taxes. If these children are not "earning" money and paying federal income taxes than they are by Willard's definition dependent on handouts like public schools. Does Willard think that all public school students are both "victims", and "entitled" to an education? That's the kind of ruination our country has experienced lately I guess. Someone really needs to ask him about this. Just to get it out in the open.

    I am sure that Mitt, along with Margo, Jean and G. Scott all had tax returns filed for them as wealthy children. As did his wife Ann, who also happened to be a wealthy child. I am also sure that Mitt oversaw the filing of taxes for all five of his sons from the time they were born. So perhaps Mitt just does not understand things like deadbeat dependent children in need of a handout. Whether they are Mormon or Gentile.

  28. I had to give a small chuckle of affirmation to the point you made about how Naval Officers regard their subordinates. When I served in the Early '80s, we could tell the same thing- most of the 'zeroes' were pretty cool, but there were glaring exceptions. The most arrogant seemed to be Naval Academy grads- they really did consider themselves the 'elite'. The officers who were the most respected, and respected their subordinates the most, were the ones who came up the enlisted ranks, like you did- including my Division Officer, XO and Skipper.

    Mittens has always seemed to me to be like an average Annapolis grad; self-centered, entitled and arrogant. I know there are exceptions to every rule, but every time Mitt goes off-script, he reveals just a little more of his character (or lack thereof), and just how out of touch he is with what it means to actually be a good citizen. The main difference between us and him is that he never considered serving his country in the military- that kind of service is beneath him. So, really, who are the makers and who are the takers here?

    I just want to say that I really love your blog, and I'm proud to have you as a shipmate, Jim...

  29. There is another flaw which has been exposed by this recording being leaked. The Romney Campaign is apparently completely incompetent in monitoring social media. Either they do not have a proper monitoring system, or they ignore what a functioning system would have reported. Specifically, that this recording had been made, and was being circulated.

    The Romney campaign should have known on August 24 that the recording was out there. That day clips or links to clips were posted on Rachael Maddow's Twitter, Balloon Juice and Angry Black Lady Chronicles. The original YouTube account where the clip was referenced in these posts was "Rachael Maddow" but it had no connection to Rachael Maddow, as her tweets show.

    Maddow:Rachael Maddow MSNBC
    YouTube account has nothing to do with me, the show, or MSNBC: http://is.gd/JxpAA6 Working with YouTube on getting it taken down.

    Balloon Juice:At Bain, Romney Shopped For A Factory in China Where Young Women Worked Behind Barbed Wire for a Pittance (video)

    Angry Black Lady Chronicles (cross posted to Balloon Juice):At Bain, Romney Shopped For a Factory in China Where Young Women Worked Behind Barbed Wire for a Pittance (video)

    On August 25 the same clip was posted at LiveLeak:[LEAKED VIDEO] Mitt Romney talks about using Chinese slave labor to profit Bain Capital

    The Romney campaign should have known on September 10 that this recording existed. That is when a new Daily Kos member anneonymous670 posted nine diaries, each one a separate clip from the video now posted in full by Mother Jones. Click through to view the diaries.
    The sourcing of the video was questioned at Daily Kos. The poster responded to these concerns with an interesting comment. Posted on the diary titled Mitt Romney admits using Chinese slave labor @ Bain: "It's real. David Corn to verify. You should be extremely suspicious of a guy running for president that thinks like this. Thanks for watching.

    All one has to do is look at the links posted and see that something as simple as a proper Google Alert would have given several weeks warning to the Romney campaign. It is hard to imagine that a legitimate presidential campaign would not monitor a known source of agitprop and insider wisdom such as Daily Kos. I suspect there is some finger pointing within the campaign about how this was missed. The only logical explanation for the 7 Ps failure of the Romney campaign is that this was a surprise; and thus there was no planning and preparation for this. The alternate possibilities are even more disturbing and damning.

    Going forward, if this was a surprise, then the paranoia about other supposedly off the record statements Willard has made must be extreme. He can't possibly remember everything he has said that he does not want to discuss. Every media question becomes a loaded gotcha question in his mind. Good press relations have not been a strength for the Romney campaign. Mitt's 10PM press availability on Monday (the 7 Ps moment) just made things worse. Since some members of the media must have known, and failed to tip off the Romney campaign, that just proves to the campaign that the media are not on his side. But Willard already knew that. It's not just most members of the media that are now suspects. If you can't trust the waiter, then everyone not donating large sums of money is suspect.

    1. It is possible that Romney does not see anything truly wrong with this statement. It is clear that the people attending the dinner agreed with him.

  30. Jim, thanks again for this (especially the laugh out loud 'boob' line).

    Do you offer correspondence courses in Advanced JimWrightness? Cuz what draws me back here is not just the good writing, but your repeated demonstration of nobility of character which gives your thoughts such accuracy and such force. You're an example of _how_ a citizen of a Republic should think about things, not just what such a person thinks. For which I thank you.

    I just wish that such a thing was more generally contagious...

  31. Another fine post.

    Still, I wonder if even this is the real Romney - perhaps he was just saying what his audience of the moment wanted to hear. I'm not sure if there's a real Romney to find anymore.

  32. The Man, by which I mean Mitt Romney, shows all the symptoms of a sociopath. I think this might be a qualification for The Life Political!
    My Father told me , at a young age, that anyone who sought Political Office, should automatically disqualified on grounds of Hubris!

  33. When I got the notification that you had posted this, I was listening to this- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PS82DRuXiyI

  34. Mitt has tried to wiggle out of responsibility for hid words by saying they were 'off the cuff'. Anyone who has the stomach to watch the actual video will be able to tell that he is in fact walking through a well-rehearsed stump speech, albeit one which was meant only for the ears of his 'base'.

    The man can hide, but after this he cannot run.

    1. Not only can he not run, he also can't perform arithmetic, a useful skill pointed out by President Clinton in his DNC speech. In the 2008 elections, there were 132,618,580 voters (56% of the 231,229,580 total registered voters btw)-47% of the US population is 146,448,200 people-not likely that more folks in total than even voted in 2008 are for Obama...

  35. Jeeze, Jim. Another homer, a game winner at that. Note the capitalization, it's not the place in Alaska:)

    "But, they don’t try to hide their bigotry and they don’t understand why they should have to. They know what they are, but they think that they’re righteous in their bias, justified by history and some ancient wrong, by religion, by class and wealth, by rank and position, by birthright."

    That is the most simple and direct explanation I have seen in a long time, if not ever. Terrific, the whole piece just rocks.


  36. '...to...' should be '...too...' but the rest was fan-freakin'-tastic!

  37. My favorite new campaign meme is Romney dismissing something stupid he says by explaining that he was speaking "off the cuff". Even assuming that I am willing to accept this as an excuse of some sort, the phrase "off the cuff" means speaking with little or no preparation or impromptu. It has been my experience, and I believe you have found it to be yours, that when people speak extemporaneously, they tend to reveal their truest, innermost thoughts and beliefs.

    To expand upon the theme, the true test of character is how a person acts when he doesn't have a script.

    1. Off the cuff is more like out of his ass...

    2. An excellent point that I don't see having been made anywhere else.

  38. Wow, great post. I watched the video last night and still can't believe what I heard!

  39. Great article! Go Navy!

  40. Thanks for another interesting take on Mr. Romney's disdain for the great unwashed masses. The thing that struck me most wrong about his statement was his insistence that his job is not to worry about "these people." If you are by some act of God (read "horrible accident") elected President, it will be a very important part of your job to do just that.

  41. How about we worry about Mr. Wright's typos when he gets a much deserved book deal?

    As usual, spot on post. Thank you.

  42. If you have to say it, you've already lost. Ann Romney: Mitt Doesn't Disdain The Poor - over at Buzzfeed http://www.buzzfeed.com/zekejmiller/ann-romney-mitt-doesnt-disdain-the-poor

  43. Very well said. And his "truth" about the 47% is about as accurate as the "massive" voter fraud that Republicans (Federal and State) want to rein in by requiring voter ID.

    I'm a Republican at heart - just not this Republican Party.

    1. You and me both. Let's start our own Republican Party.

    2. PLEASE. For the love of all that you hold dear, form something sane with which people can hold friendly arguments and occasional bilateral agreements, instead of all this obstructionist neo-con fake-Christian-flavoured insanity embarrassing sincere and reasonable conservatives.

  44. "If you want to know what kind of officer you’re dealing with, watch how he or she talks to the Filipino mess cooks."

    You got that right, brother. People with this mindset look at both the Filipino mess cook and you and me the exact same way - assets to be used to achieve their own ends.

  45. "The true test of character is how a person acts when they think nobody is watching."

    I have been saying this all my life, as a result of personal experience.

    I. Love. You.

    Thank you for writing this entire piece. I wish there were more men like you.

  46. But really, what else could you expect of a guy whose religion teaches him that he, too, can become a god one day? Mitt's just workin' on it, folks. Cut him a break.


    I hope I can be forgive for saying I have no desire to live on his planet, when he gets it. I don't like what he's trying to do to this one. However, I am impressed that the GOP is being so brazenly open about what they really think about the poor (that includes me ... I used to think I was middle class until Mitt set me straight with his comments about income), women and their magic vaginas (more thanks to the GOP for informing me about superpowers I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW I HAD), and the fact that my vote for Obama = me being a mooch with a victim mentality. I think Mitt may be a little confused on that one. My magic vagina and I don't want a FREE ride, we want a FAIR ride. In other words, this Obama voter has no intention of being a victim of GOP anti-average-America, anti-woman policies.

  47. Jim, I'm new to your blog...just found it a couple of weeks ago...but I have to tell you that this column is one of the finest dissections of what makes Mitt Romney tick that I've come across.

    As others have pointed out, you need a bigger audience and a fat paycheck for your writings. Keep up the great work and remember, "Illegitimi non carborundum." (Don't let the bastards grind you down.)

  48. Jim, Former SF NCO and I know 'zactly what you mean about how to judge an officer. I've also been a professional editor for many years (and still have my dad's copy of Strunk & White *with all of the errors corrected in red ink*), and this is one grammar geek who's perfectly happy to look t'other way when the content is so damned good. Dog bless you, fellow warrior!

  49. After watching the evening news last night one of the commentators stated that the slight shift in public opinion (as express in the news polls) was the result of the divergent messages at the Republican and Democrat's conventions. I suspect that this view is largely correct. The news commentator went on to say it would be interesting to see the next poll after this video has been absorbed by the public at large. I keep thinking to myself that the next big shift will be after the debate, I fully expect our President to demolish Romney in any debate.

    Thanks for the excellent blog post Jim, always a pleasure to read your writing.

  50. Samuel Johnson used slightly different language ("The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who does him absolutely no good") to express precisely the same sentiment as you did in this piece. Great minds? Indeed.

  51. A true test of a man is if he can love someone while expecting nothing in return.

    Dude enjoyed your blog. A new fan here. Kudos

  52. Great post, as usual. I can overlook the typos, but would like to point out that the 47% refers to households and not to individuals. (see http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3505) If you went by individuals the percentage would be higher as all those kids would be counted separately. Hate to nitpick, but it's an important distinction.

  53. If Romney is going to dismiss 47% of the American people, because they don't pay taxes, perhaps he should show his tax returns.

    1. 2011 returns have been released.

    2. Wow, two returns!
      Wait, didn't I read that the 2011 returns are published as prelims?

  54. Wright, you fucking bastard. You made me cry. Damn you. Nothing worse than a 50yo man dripping fluids from his eyes.

    Damn you. I needed that.

    1. I'm alright now. I found a hanky. By myself, without help from the govt. I bootstrapped.

      But you left out several important reciepients of govt largess.

      Farmers. Farm subsidies. Yes those radical freeloading bastards who grow food for us.

      Oil Companies-Oil subsidies. Just so we can have the priveledge of burning up our planet for $3.77 a gallon.

      Govt Contractors-Because where would the mercs from Blackwater (XE?) find meaningful opportunities to abuse and shoot innocent bystanders?

      Stuff Like that.

      I'm better now (sniffle)

  55. Awesome post. I wish I could write this well. :)

    This hits on the same mentality that fuels a particular joke making the rounds of the Internet, about little Billy who wants to keep all his lawnmowing money instead of giving it all away, which I took apart here:

    How To Steal Little Billy's Lawnmowing Money While Secretly Insulting People You Claim To Support

    Note the one person who takes exception with me shreddingt the joke has to argue that the joke is OK, and that demonizing an entire group of people is OK, because the joke-tellers are, well, y'know, ANGRY.

  56. Wonderful and awesome, more so than usual. Has it been an hour? The sentence beginning Taken in context is missing a hundred.

  57. I am a longtime lurker and I'm coming out of hiding to issue a plea to the grammar/spelling police to cut it out. I really like to read the comments of Jim's readers, but the suggestions for fixing typos interrupts the flow of things and it's becoming really really irritating. Especially if one gets to the post a little later than everyone else and everything as been fixed and the comments are no longer relevant. Is there any way to make those suggestions behind the scenes? Please? Pleeeeeeeeease?

  58. Bravo! Everyone in this country should read this. Precisely and eloquently written and spot on!!

  59. For some reason, I always heard "The true measure of a society, is how it treats it's poor". I guess that would sure be a little too "on the nose" in the current climate...and an out and out "urban legend" in Mitten's circles...

  60. This was great. This sentence resonated:

    "But that’s just how Mitt Romney and his rich friends see us. All of us. Left and Right."

    Thanks. I hope this blog goes viral as well.

    I have to say this about the wealthy who do not pay federal income taxes- I personally take issue with anyone wealthy who does not pay federal income taxes disparaging any fellow citizen that honestly cannot afford to pay. I just believe at some point as a people we have to take a stand against this sort of attitude. My husband and I worked for 30 years in corporate America. We retired and started a small business and did not use the SBA to fund it. We did that. As the business was telcom based we had to reinvent our line of business when Wall Street/lack of oversight/whatever one calls it contracted the economy. We lived on our savings for 7 months- and still paid taxes at the end of the year as that reinvention generated funds. We created not one line of business but 3 as we looked for the best business opportunity for two not quite old folks. I got sick-cancer;am well-and just could not work. SO my husband, a true man of character- works his ass off for someone else as a subcontractor. We have insurance. And we are sure as hell part of the 47%,no matter how the math is done. I resent deeply that this man whose family received public assistance had the temerity to make such a statement. I resent that in AMERICA this group of people thrive and are admired. I think it is time that we the people refuse to wink and smile and use legal but unethical methods to avoid taxes. Damn it! This is MY country, these are MY people. You know, my husband and I got nothing in the way of public assistance when times got tough. But we are still standing and frankly as I paid in I would prefer those dollars go to working folks like us rather than tax cuts for the wealthy. I am not supporting a 70 or 90% tax or even a flat tax. I am supporting meaningful taxation, enough to take care of the people's business. I get this is a difficult concept but I think we can resolve this issue fairly. Sorry for the rant, but this attitude that 47% are freeloaders enrages me- especially when those making this allegation often pay less % taxes than a firefighter, a cop, service member , or a teacher. It is NOT okay with me that 3000 families earning over 2.2 mil a year pay no federal income tax as long as one working family, like my parents, pay in year after year.Or like us- we paid in every year after the children left. We paid in every year we were a SP. This concept is outrageous.

  61. Well said. And, I would still like to see his tax retuns because his refusal to show them leads me to believe that he is a 47%.

    1. Reported as about 14% paid in tax and about 30% given away to charitable organizations.

  62. Well said Jim,typos and all.I find when we are soooo passionate over something our fingers fly and don't really care about spelling! You can become another voice for all those that are thinking ALL of the above and just won't or don't know how to say it.Personally...you just made my morning!!My husband is retired Navy reservist,our two boys are Naval sub officers,this will be forwarded around the map today.Thanks! have a great day and I'll be watching for more. Mrs.K Hurt

  63. Mid-60's I was a C-130 crew member in Antarctica. We had navigators not GPS.
    At Byrd Station, hundreds of miles from homebase, an Ensign, Texas Aggie, said to a 1st Class, "Bring my bag inside."
    1st Classes reply, "Look around, fuck stick! This ain't Forest Hills."

  64. Jim --

    I just discovered your blog and am catching up on the older posts. Wonderful stuff.

    Take it from someone who has been earning a lower-middle-class living as a writer for some time: You can write.

  65. As usual, an oasis in a vast desert - cool, refreshing, and crystal clear.

    Thank you.

  66. This was great! Thank you so much. Shared on my FB page. I also commented as westtexas8. I wanted you to know how much we enjoyed this blog.

  67. Well written, and interesting. Despite the fact that I do not agree with many of your assertions and conclusions, I honor the fact that you have the absolute right to make those assertions, and others may decide to agree or not based on how they see the 'facts'. As it is written, iron sharpens iron, and as I read what you put forth, I find that I must make sure that my conclusions are exactly as they should be. Causes me to think, which is always good. I am now looking forward to your dissection of the 'redistribution' statement given by our President, and the 'this will be the most transparent administration', and of course, the ever popular 'if I can't fix this, I'll be a one termer'. I for one will appreciate your interpretation of those statements in light of his 1st term. And thank you in advance for those interpretations.
    As an aside, I read your commenting rules, and have to openly admit, I am a Dick, hopefully in name only and not also in character. Therefore I know that I am not adhering to the rules, despite knowing you did not mean a Dick in name, but a dick in action. Crazy how using the same word can be interpreted 2 different ways.
    So I am going to appeal to you as an obvious leader of men and women, start the trend to stop discriminating against those of us who are named Dick and find another adjective or adverb or whatever as a descriptive term.
    I interpret it just like if someone calls a person of a certain nationality by a derogatory term. And guess what, it was not funny when the young man in Greece came up to me after dealing with me for 10 days, and realizing that despite not voting for Kerry (he asked me, I didn't wear a banner) that I was a nice guy, and with pain on his face asked me why would I call myself dick? Seems like he saw that as if I had skin of of a differrent color and chose to call myself the n-word.
    Thank you to you and to your readers for leading the charge to quit using my name as an insult. And really, please address the words of our President in the same manner as you address Romney's. I would enjoy reading that.

  68. I salute you, Jim. USMC, Vietnam, 1966.


  69. First time reader, but not the last...excellent post

  70. Great post. I have been trying to tell anyone who will listen (unfortunately not that many) :) that Mitt only cares about the rich and the richer. He was born with a silver spoon and has never not a single time in his life had to try and figure out which bills NOT to pay in order to keep food on the table and roof over his head. I cannot even begin to understand how anyone who has to "work" for a living can support him and his ideas.

  71. Your last three sentences sum up exactly how I made my mind up about Romney (from indifference to complete opposition). I don't need to know anything about his positions, his plans, or his carbon-copy foreign policy.

    Seamus told me all I needed to know.

    (Makes me worried about those serving by extension.)

    Thank you for saying it so well.

  72. Replies
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      Go ahead and post your thoughts, I'll review them and see that they post so long as they meet my guidelines.


Comments on this blog are moderated. Each will be reviewed before being allowed to post. This may take a while. I don't allow personal attacks, trolling, or obnoxious stupidity. If you post anonymously and hide behind an IP blocker, I'm a lot more likely to consider you a troll. Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.