April 20th, 2012
I was walking along Pearl Street the other day, by the liquor store. Just ahead of me was a skinny, pimply, late adolescent in bermuda shorts and a white teeshirt on a skateboard. Coming towards us was a big fat kid in a hoodie, about college age but something told me he was a townie, and his friend, a kid only slightly less weedy than the skateboarder. As they passed me, the big guy said to this friend, “Whenever I see a kid on a skateboard, I want to punch him. Is that weird?”
Please discuss among yourselves. For extra credit, what would Dante have to say about this impulse?
April 12th, 2012
Apparently in response to polls that show he is somewhere near 20% less popular among women than Barack Obama, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Romney has been claiming lately that 92.3% of jobs lost during the Obama administration have been women’s jobs. In this context, a “woman’s job” is a job that was held by a woman. The arithmetic whereby he arrives at this result is not entirely specious, in the sense that he divides one actual statistic into another actual statistic and the result is .923. But I’m not here to talk about math. There’s a Yiddish word – well, probably more than one – for somebody who makes such claims, and I want to talk about that.
The Bush Recession, if you will remember, started in the housing, construction, and manufacturing sectors, in large part as a result of the sudden scarcity of commercial credit that was part of the financial meltdown. All this was well underway by the time Obama took office. The jobs lost in this early phase were held primarily by males. State and local tax revenues were hit hard by the downturn, as businesses shrank and people lost income, but thanks to the much-maligned stimulus passed at Obama’s behest, which largely operated by passing funds down to state and local governments, the impact was softened for a while. The stimulus might have been larger but for the Obama administration’s almost certainly correct political calculation that Republicans would block a larger package, even if the Democrats could be gotten to agree to it. Then, when the stimulus funds began to run out, the state and local budget cutting began, led by Republicans devoted to downsizing government no matter what the cost. The ax fell on teachers, social workers, health care workers, administrative staff – predominantly women.
“Chutzpah” is often defined as a quality best exemplified by someone who murders his parents, then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan. Ladies and gentlemen, I present you Willard Romney, who lays at his opponent’s door the baleful effects of his own party’s acts.