Holding Court – Gospel Of The 1 Percent

Holding Court Headerby Benjamin T. Moore, Jr.

I Was Offended!

What follows is the account of an encounter I had the other day in our local Meijer grocery store. I see this more and more frequently these days. Some Apostle of the GOP, spreading the gospel of Fox News and the 1%, will begin loud talking someone. Most often this is a person whom they perceive to be uninformed or under informed and they promptly get busy planting the seeds of their delusion in what they perceive to be fertile ground.

I do try and mind my own business… However, when someone is playing to an audience and seeking converts… I don’t do “audience” well. I tend to talk back, object and ask questions. Hopefully you will enjoy the following exchange and perhaps join me in pushing back against these charlatans who seek to pull the wool over the eyes of people they believe are beneath them. Enjoy!

Holding Court – Gospel Of The 1 Percent

The other day I had to go down to our “City Hall” to pay our property taxes… I’ve had several bad experiences with their security check point – read: damn near had to strip – so, I figured I’d put on some sweat pants and a sweat shirt with nothing on me other than my wallet, keys, checkbook, a pen and my smart phone. All in all? I looked pretty grungy.

Weather report called for sub-arctic temps, so I figured while I was out I’d swing through Meijer’s and grab a few items so I wouldn’t have to go out again for a couple of days. Thus it was, with visions of a glowing fireplace in mind, I found myself on the dairy aisle heading towards the eggs.

Holding Court - Dairy Aisle My first intimation of an unusual exchange came when I heard this older white guy talking in what I call his “holding court voice.” I’m sure you’ve all heard and experienced this. When people talk way too loud for a conventional conversation such that people 20 or more feet away can hear clearly and follow along whether they’re interested or not. The second thing I noticed was… damn if they weren’t standing dab smack in front of the egg section!

Let me paint the picture for you. The older white gent was wearing some designer jeans, loafers and something like a members only jacket. He had silver hair, was about 6′ tall and exuded wealth and power. The poor employee he had “buttonholed” was maybe in his late 20’s, early 30’s. Rather scraggly faced. Ponytail, tall and lean. I’d seen him around numerous times. He was always pleasant but quiet and reserved.

My intentions were to grab my eggs and get the hell out of there… glowing fireplace, remember? What stopped me in my tracks was, I heard the younger employee defending himself by saying, “Meijer made quite a profit this year… to me that means they ought to be able to give us employees a raise.”

My eyes narrowed as the alarm bells begin to go off. This older fellow must have been pressing the employee quite a bit because this isn’t generally the topic of conversation that goes well… *on* company time and on company *property.* The older fellow – again in his “holding court voice” – proffered, “well, all these grocery stores are running quite a lean ship and there’s just not as much money as you think there is…” He rocked back on his heels smugly and gave a knowing smile.

Holding Court - Silver FoxI slowly turned, looked at him and said, “you seem to be as old if not a bit older than I? I’m sure you recall when we grew up, things really weren’t all that bad… back in the days when the CEOs of corporations didn’t make 700 times what their front line employees make? We did pretty well back then didn’t we? Just because something is a certain way, doesn’t mean it has to be, or should be that way…” Jamie Dimon, the CEO of Chase just got a $20 million bonus package… this same year Chase paid out over $29 Billion in fines… but the board still gave him a $20 million bonus package.

I noticed his spine stiffen a bit. Clearly he had foreseen things going a different way. He was game however and immediately argued that, “the federal government almost put a gun to J.P. Morgan Chase’s head and made them buy several banks which is how they incurred those fines.” At this point I tried to sort of clue him in that it is unwise to judge a book by its cover… namely me. I informed him that I knew all about it as my wife happened to be an executive vice president for the bank. I then pointed out that this did nothing to explain the investigation being carried out by the U.S. Attorney General’s office into criminal wrong doing at Chase.

At this point he became almost apoplectic! I had to step back a bit to keep from being sprayed as spittle formed at the corners of his mouth. “Eric Holder is a criminal he spat!” I did try to make allowances even though I felt myself begin to do a slow boil… nevertheless, I pushed the fury down, looked him directly in the eyes and said, “he’s the United States Attorney General and I choose to respect him as such.” A more prescient man would have detected the edge in my voice and noticed the fire that had begun to flicker in my eyes. Not so with this fellow…

“Well then he needs to start prosecuting criminals he bawled!” He had just crossed the Rubicon and there was no going back now. The game was afoot! Okay, I said. “Tell me which crimes he isn’t prosecuting.” “Well he can start with all those guns coming in from Mexico!” “Uh huh,” I said, “that’s ‘Fast and Furious’ and that was under George Bush.” “Next? Have you got anything else???” He turned beet red and began to sputter. No time like the present to start my evisceration of this fool. “Your problem” I said conversationally, “is you get all your news from Fox News. Studies have shown that people who don’t watch any news at all, actually know more about the news than people who watch Fox.”

At this point he literally began to shake, his fist clenched as he exclaimed, “I don’t watch Fox news… and I don’t watch CNN, ABC, CBS or NBC… furthermore, *watching any other station is useless!”* The more agitated he grew, the calmer I became. Lowering my voice a level I said, “so you’re a liar! You do get your news from Fox! You just admitted to it.” His mouth flew open and he began gulping air. Attempting to recover, he exclaimed, “no I don’t! I don’t watch any of the news channels!” He was shaking now… and I had him. Time to deliver the coup de grĂ¢ce. “So where do you get your news?” I asked pleasantly. “Or do you just pull it out of your ass???”

I didn’t think it was possible for him to become any more red! He began to shake and then with the almost plaintive wail of a child, he said, “I get my news from sources…” “Which sources” I pressed. “Sources that *I* trust!” At this point I looked over at the employee, spread my arms, shrugged my shoulders and with a smile and a nod I said, “Fox!” I shook my head and calmly walked away, eggs in hand, to get the rest of my items.

A moment or two later the employee located me, walked up to me, shook my hand and said, “thank you so much. I really can’t debate these people while I’m working.” I smiled and said, “no worries, I had you covered.”

The Way Forward – SOTU 2013

The Way Forward SOTU 2013 HEADERby Benjamin T. Moore, Jr.

Last night President Obama delivered the annual State of the Union Address. The reality is this has become mostly theater however, there was some substance in his address. If we were to be technical, once he said, “the state of our Union is strong,” he could have ended his speech, dropped the mic and walked off the stage. Of course, that’s not how we roll. So, allow me to hit some of the highlights.

The Way Forward – SOTU 2013

SOTU - 2013

SOTU – 2013

President Obama did a masterful job of laying out where we’d been and how far we’ve come. Yes, we’ve got a long way to go. However, we can see daylight in the distance. After a decade of war, we will be leaving Afghanistan within the next year. We’ve created 6 million jobs, we’re using less foreign oil than at any other time in the past 20 years, Corporate profits are at an all time high, we’ve cut our deficit by 2.5 trillion dollars, we’re producing more domestic oil than we have in the past 15 years and nearly half of all new energy production has come from wind power.

The future has the potential to be bright indeed. Tempering this outlook for peace, love and happiness, was acknowledgement of an extremely truculent Republican Party who to date has shown little inclination to do anything other than obstruct the President’s agenda while shooting themselves in the foot… repeatedly!

The Way Forward


How can any sane person oppose the VAWA?

President Obama laid out a host of programs that the Republicans have opposed. Many of them are what could be considered, “no brainers!” VAWA – The Violence Against Women Act – there shouldn’t even be a discussion on passing this. Politically, women are over half of the electorate. They’ve voted for and passed it in the past, why not now? The “Fix It First” program, we can see our infrastructure crumbling all around us. Whom in their right mind wouldn’t want our bridges and roads repaired? How many bridge collapses do we have to have before the Republicans come to their senses?

Fix It First

If we don’t fix our infrastructure, we will become a 3rd world nation.

If you were sitting in your home with a leaking roof, and it was pouring down rain, you wouldn’t sit there for long trying to catch the water in buckets. You’d take the next opportunity – go into debt if you had to – to secure and fix your house. The United States is where we live. It is our home and we need to fix it.

Immigration Reform

Anti-Immigration Republican

Take America Back??? From whom?

Immigration reform. Again another no brainer. The fact is, we’re down to almost zero illegal immigration across our southern border. The problem is, we’ve got people who were brought here as children through no fault of their own. They don’t have any ties or connections with Mexico to speak of. Some don’t even speak Spanish. All they’ve known is the United States and some did not even know they were here illegally until they went to apply for a job after college. What do we do about them? We’ve educated them. They’ve been paying taxes and working along side us to build a better country. Send them home? This is the only home they’ve ever known. Some have even served and some have died in our military. Fixing immigration is long overdue.

Again, do the Republicans think they can survive alienating the growing Hispanic population? Their anti-immigration posture is lunacy writ large. Mitch McConnell said, “President Obama is out to destroy the Republican Party.” If that were his intent, he’d have to do nothing but simply get out of their way. They’re doing a fine job of destroying themselves.

Minimum Wage

Word CloudRaising the minimum wage to $9 an hour? Again another no brainer! If you think tax cuts will stimulate this economy, raising the minimum wage will do it better and quicker. Here’s a dirty little secret. When you give rich people money, they save it. When you give poor people money, they spend it. Who do they spend it with? They spend it at all the businesses ironically owned by rich people. It is just common sense that anyone who works a full 40 hour week, shouldn’t be living below the poverty level. If you cannot make enough to live by working, what exactly is the point of having a job? Think of the crime, raising the minimum wage would cut down on. People will do whatever it takes to live… up to and including robbing you.

Gun Violence

Paul Revere

Paul Revere’s Ride

This has been both the foil and the bane of the Democratic Party. My personal opinion is that they should treat it like the 3rd rail and leave it alone. Here’s why, our culture is based on gun ownership. Going all the way back to the Revolutionary War, Paul Revere wasn’t riding through towns to alert the military. He was calling up the militia. Who were the militia? The militia was defined as all males between the ages of 16 and 45. These were common ordinary citizens who came with their own personal firearms, ammunition and supplies. In the army, your weapons and equipment is supplied. You’re given a uniform. Think about that word “uniform.” Uniform means that everyone, everything is the same. Everyone is issued similar weapons, similar ammunition, given similar training and is dressed similarly.

In the Militia, you come as you are and you bring what you’ve got. Had it not been for individual gun ownership, we would still be a colony of Great Britain and our national anthem would be “God Save the Queen.” So ingrained was this lesson in our early history, the importance of personal firearms ownership was codified into our Constitution. This is what the 2nd Amendment was about.

Understanding The 2nd Amendment

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Let’s take the first clause. This seems to cause people some problems. In order to regulate the Militia, the Militia must first exist. You cannot regulate what does not exist. When the armed citizenry come together as a group, they form the Militia. Then they can be regulated. They can be organized into groups. Given assignments, taught tactics what have you.

Why would you do this? You would do this because they are necessary to the security of a free State. Now remember whom the Militia is. All males between the ages of 16 and 45. They have to have their own firearms because the State or the Federal Government isn’t burdened with having to issue these citizens arms or supplies. This brings us to the latter clause. “The right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Our Gun Culture

The Man With No Name Trilogy

Clint Eastwood – The Man With No Name Trilogy

Guns in the hands of our citizens have been critical to not only our survival as a nation, but to our expansion into the west to fulfil our “Manifest Destiny.” Firearms were used to feed us and protect us on the frontier. The heroes in the old “Dime Store Novels” were the likes of Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hitchcock, Wyatt Earp and “Doc” Halliday.

When the motion picture industry came into being, the quick gun shootin, rooty toot tootin, Cowboy became and American icon. Tom Mix, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson and a host of others became our heroes. They all solved their problems with fast and accurate shooting. We played with cap guns in plastic holsters.

As we matured, guns and their use matured with us. The wise cracking, fast shooting Cop shows of the 80’s like “Miami Vice” introduced us to shoulder holsters and ankle holsters. Do I need to mention James Bond with is Walther PPK?

The Duke

The Duke

Thanks to movie ratings, we never saw the reality of the aftermath of a shooting. No pools of blood. No gray matter and brain tissue splattering the walls and the floors. No mothers falling out and weeping. It was all neat clean and tidy. Only lately have they begun to show limited realism in the CSI type shows.

Is it any wonder that our relationship with firearms seems so excessive to other cultures? You simply cannot undo over 200 years of our culture by passing a few laws. If you could wave a magic wand and remove all 300 million firearms from these United States, all you would succeed in doing is creating the worlds largest “Black Market” for guns. We can’t even keep drugs out of the country. Guns? I don’t think you can train “gun sniffing dogs.”

With these facts in mind, pursuing the tools of gun violence – the gun – will only serve to alienate – remember our culture – those who might otherwise stand with you on all the other issues. I fully understand the raw emotion of the issue when it comes to parents and family members who have lost a child to gun violence. I understand because my oldest son was murdered by a thug with a gun. So, I’ve been there. This isn’t theory for me, I’ve lived it. The gun didn’t murder my son. The piece of excrement who pulled the trigger did.

The Republican Response

The official Republican response to the State of the Union was delivered by Marco Rubio, the junior Senator from Florida. It was a colossal train wreck! First of all, his response was clearly written before he had the opportunity to hear the President’s address. You could determine this because he was rebutting statements and points that the President never made.

Marco Rubio’s Water Bottle Moment

He basically rehashed – in some cases nearly word for word – old speeches by Mitt Romney. Then there was the water bottle fiasco. Evidently towards the end of his speech, his mouth got dry. I suppose nerves will do that to you. He leans way off camera to grab a water bottle and it was so inartfully done, the effect was hilarious! I don’t know why they bother. At some point they came to the conclusion that in order to deliver a proper rebuttal, staging was everything. Thus, they’ve tried everything to give their responses more gravitas by attempting to make the staging look as officious as possible.

We’ve had them deliver their response in a State House stacked with phony audience members clapping on cue. We’ve had the disastrous marionette like walk out of Bobby Jindal and now Marco Rubio stands in front of a set designed to appear as though he’s standing in the “Oval Office” with a window behind him. Far be it from me to give them advice when they’re doing so well, but perhaps a bit less attention to form and a little more attention to substance would do them well.

The Complete State Of The Union Speech