Digital Winesburg.

There are two schools of thought on small-town America — no, three. Briefly:

School 1: Heaven
School 2: Hell
School 3: It’s more complicated than that

See if you can guess which one I favor.

Anyhoo, school no. 2 got a big boost today from the biggest town in the world’s fave newspaper, the New York Times. With the homespun dateline of Mountain Grove, Mo., we learn:

One of the established places here for trading the gossip of the day is Dee’s Place, a country diner where a dozen longtime residents gather each morning around a table permanently reserved with a members-only sign for the “Old Farts Club,” as they call themselves, to talk about weather, politics and, of course, their neighbors.

But of late, more people in this hardscrabble town of 5,000 have shifted from sharing the latest news and rumors over eggs and coffee to the Mountain Grove Forum on a social media Web site called Topix, where they write and read startlingly negative posts, all cloaked in anonymity, about one another.

Color me…unsurprised. I’ve lived too long to be shocked by the fact shiny surfaces sometimes hide ugliness within, or that Mayberry was a myth, or whatever. The part of the story I find interesting is on the second page, in which the chief executive of Topix looks around the room and says, “Who, me?” Like this:

Mr. Tolles …defended it on free-speech grounds. He said the comments are funny to read, make private gossip public, provide a platform for “people who have negative things to say” and are better for business.

At one point, he said, the company tried to remove all negative posts, but it stopped after discovering that commenters had stopped visiting the site. “This is small-town America,” he said. “The voices these guys are hearing are of their friends and neighbors.”

Mr. Tolles also said the site played a journalistic role, including providing a place for whistle-blowing and candid discussion of local politics.

He noted that the Mountain Grove Forum, which had 3,700 visitors on a single day this month, had 1,200 posts containing the word “corruption,” though it was unclear how many of them were true. One resident used the site to rail against local officials, helping build support for a petition-driven state audit of town government.

Only an internet executive could use the presence of a single word to argue that a scuzzy poison-pen message board somehow qualifies as journalism. (Never work harder than cntrl-F, I always say.) Actually, I’m amazed the NYT was able to get him on the horn at all, although hey — they’re the NYT. I bet the people who’ve been the victims of their nastier neighbors on Topix sites haven’t been so fortunate. Perhaps they’ve been told, instead, to start their own thread, to fight words with words, and other helpful advice.

As you know, my experience in journalism runs from lamestream to present-day, and one of the things I struggle with, weekly if not daily, is how much the latter has to learn from the former. I used to be a fan of anonymous posting; I’m not so much anymore. I used to believe a lot of that Jeff Jarvis spiel about throwing it all out there in the name of immediacy and letting the self-correcting internet sort it out; not so much anymore. I’ve learned that readers are busy and time-starved and all that stuff they told us pretty much throughout the ’80s, but they’re also lazy and disinclined to dig deeper for truth, because they have to race down their Facebook news feed to find out what the slacktivist meme of the moment is — change your profile picture to raise awareness of something, or whatever.

I’ll give you an example: We recently went through a bruising battle here over the hiring of a new superintendent of our local schools. A minority of the board didn’t like the internal candidate, pushed hard from the beginning by the majority, and the vote to hire him was 4-3. At the meeting to approve his contract, one of the minority members tossed out the figure $700,000, which he said was the total value of his 2.5-year contract. As near as I can tell, that figure was arrived at by taking his salary, bennies, retirement and office-coffee consumption and multiplying by 2.5, then rounding generously, sort of like the calculation of the street value of a pound of marijuana.

But he said it at the meeting, and the other online news source, Patch, reported it. (My online news source wasn’t there, because this meeting happened between WSU terms, which meant I had no reporters. I was at another meeting, thinking the contract approval would be pro forma and less newsworthy. So in our semi-hiatus month, we didn’t have a story.) They had to, and I don’t blame them — their mandate is immediacy, and it came out of the mouth of a board member. But there it was: The new superintendent is costing the district $700,000, in the subhead.

This then gets bundled into the social-media presentations, and the comments start. Wow! $700,000 — that’s a lot of money! And so on. Where do I apply? I could use $700,000, etc. Two days later, the reporter files a deeper dive into the contract, broken down by salary ($175,000, about what the last supe was making, and entirely in keeping with the marketplace for districts of our size and quality) and other benefits, and now the estimates for the total compensation are about $200,000 per year, or $500,000 over the length of the contract. This story, I should add, gets far less Facebook chatter, perhaps because the original amplifiers are chastened, or maybe because it’s more reasonable.

But I remain convinced there are people in this community who read no further than the subhead and Facebook comments, and believe the new superintendent is earning $700,000 in salary alone. If we had a Topix board here, there would probably be speculation about on-call massage therapists and other, you know, CORRUPTION. What is it they say about truth and lies and which one puts its shoes on faster?

I’m starting to see the benefit in the ol’ skool, where if you wanted to write a letter to the editor, you had to use your full name, the letter was carried by the ponderous U.S. Postal Service and the paper called to verify your identity, all of which gave you many stops on the path to reconsider.

OK, time to go to work, so how about a 180-degree turn with the bloggage?

What we had with our roast chicken Saturday night. Super-duper yum factor. Which should remind us that it’s probably time to fix something from the Minimalist’s greatest hits. Not many wrong turns there.

What Was There, a site that layers historic photos onto Google street-view shots. Oh, you librarians will love this one.

Finally, late-breaking news from Toledo: FBI raids several local IHOPs, reportedly on suspicion of TERRORIST ACTIVITY. I am not making this up. Big hat tip to our treasure, Dexter.

And I think that’s it. Happy Tuesday to all.

Posted at 10:32 am in Media |

53 responses to “Digital Winesburg.”

  1. coozledad said on September 20, 2011 at 11:11 am

    This is just a theory, but I think small towns and communities are pits of resentment because the bloodlines have started to become homogenized. It’s gotten to the point where there’s an Oxford face, and a Roxboro face (not dissimilar, the towns are close to each other and more than a hundred years of crosshumping has made jug-ears and pig eyes a regional characteristic).
    Chapel Hill, because of the University, has been a bit more cosmopolitan over the years, and is home to many attractive people with teeth. Just don’t stray too far out in the woods, or you’ll find some of my relatives. Durham’s famous mid nineteenth century whorehouses brought hookers and johns from all over the country, and while the city itself got a rep for some mean characters, they looked a lot better than the pellagra stutterers from the surrounding hamlets who’d get together for knife fights and drinking at hog slaughtering time.
    For Jeffersonian reasons, this theory accommodates people of both races.
    Where it gets really nasty, in my experience, where the veneer of civility is frailest, is the nuclear family. John McGahern said it best, but I can’t recall where, or even quote him exactly. It was something like “Irish families get together and eat for an hour or so on the holidays, and then settle in to a four hour denunciation of each other, beginning in the return trip home in the car.”

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  2. Joe Kobiela said on September 20, 2011 at 11:20 am

    The story of how much the super makes is just like the false claims on how much auto workers are payed, or how much it cost to have the Thunderbirds or blue angels fly. If you really get into it the prices are greatly inflated, same for airforce one. A bit off topic, but if you get a chance check out the story in the Chicago Tribune this morning about how the rich really do pay more in taxes.
    Pilot Joe

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  3. Kim said on September 20, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I deal with the anonymous post issue all the time. The other day a would-be poster who loves to name names and what he believes are their transgressions (against him, natch) asked why his comment wasn’t approved, why I wasn’t allowing him free speech. My answer as along the lines of yes, you have a right to free speech. We all do. That doesn’t mean anyone has to publish it. And it especially means I am not going to go to the mat defending your right to say whatever the hell you want, unsubstantiated, when the guy you’re going after comes after me. He came back at me with the threat of calling the ACLU.

    Bring it. People can be such morons.

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  4. nancy said on September 20, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Kim, I can beat that. I had a boss once who said we were going to file a FOIA request with…

    …the Catholic church.

    “But FOIA only applies to public agencies,” I said. Puzzled look, etc.

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  5. alex said on September 20, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Joe, I saw that story in the Trib, as well as stories in quite a few other places. I guess it all depends on who is manipulating what particular set of facts.

    The New York Times had a very good Room for Debate posted earlier today, with articles by various academics arguing either pro or con, but I’m not seeing it there now. One in particular discussed the fact that in the early 1970s, the average CEO made seven times the median salary of his employees, whereas now the number is something like 329 times the median salary. The article also said that the middle class has already become shrunken to the point that marketers are now aiming for the high and low ends of the market instead of the once broad middle. Companies such as Proctor & Gamble have even taken notice and adjusted accordingly.

    Back in 2001 Warren Buffett himself said that the Bush tax cuts were a stupid idea and would wreck the economy in the long run and would not create jobs or stimulate economic investment as was being purported. Too bad nobody listened to him.

    Pretty much all that’s being proposed is that those cuts, which were supposed to be temporary and were supposed to end last year, come to an end. Some minor differences, to be sure, but essentially it’s that. Restore taxation to 2001 levels.

    On Edit:

    Here it is. In particular, see the piece called “Is Capitalism Working for You?” by Chrystia Freedland. I misremembered some of the facts I stated above regarding executive compensation, but this piece and most others there were worth reading and considering.

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  6. april glaspie said on September 20, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Joe, really wealthy people in America pay taxes out of discretionary income, not funds necessary to feed and clothe children and commute to work. They also have the wherewithal to hire lawyers and accountants to shield their incomes, and lobbyists to ensure their favorite tax breaks and corporate subsidies are sacrosanct in Congress. Capital gains, which comprise most of the income of the wealthy are taxed at a ridiculously low rate. That’s just a fact and that is regressive and unfair. One fewer Lamborghini or country club membership isn’t the same thing as relying on gubmint cheese to stave off hunger. I guess this is all just fine for people that don’t think the American Constitution ever intended or established a social contract, but I think those are decidedly unAmerican and non-Judeo-Christian attitudes for all of these Christian patriots to be standing for.

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  7. april glaspie said on September 20, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Fleming charged that the plan is a terrible idea which kills jobs provided by wealthy “job creators” who pay personal income taxes. When asked about his business ventures — including his role in a number of Subway restaurants and UPS stores — from which he earned $6.3 million last year, Fleming told MSNBC host Chris Jansing that his business expenses left him with little to tax “by the time I feed my family.

    Every bullshit GOP anti-tax talking point in less than two minutes. Now if you take this charlatan at his word, and subtract for rent and business expenses, simple math shows that the 500 employes working for this beneficent job creator are averaging less that a $10grand annually apiece. What a helluva buncha guys. Seems to me IRS ought to be talking to Congressman McDuck. Maybe he employs some arcane medieval business model like feudalism, or he’s a slaveholder. One way or another, something ain’t kosher.

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  8. Sue said on September 20, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Oh, Joe, don’t worry! Your rich friends will continue to be protected.
    To make this work –
    first, Obama has to get past those in his own party who are basically mini-Republicans and/or won’t risk their political careers;
    then, he has to get past Republicans whose main goal is to make sure he is not re-elected, citizen interests be damned;
    then, he has to get past his own tendency to give away the store even before anyone comes in to rob it;
    then, assuming he is able to get some POS legislation passed, it will be sure to include lots of shared sacrifice that will turn out to be iron-clad hits to many struggling groups, including the elderly and military personnel; with accompanying ‘shared’ hits to the politicians’ wealthy overlords that will be easily circumvented when congress immediately begins passing legislation that somehow nobody but easily-dismissed lefty bloggers notices replaces the sacrifices that the wealthy must endure with substitutes that make up for it.
    THEN, he can run for re-election with everyone thinking he’s responsible for personally taking money out of their pockets.
    So you’re in good shape. This should work out well for Republicans, though not necessarily for those who vote for Republicans and the Democrats who emulate them. Personally, I was almost sick last night listening to and reading about the liberal/progressive happiness about this. I can’t stand watching this again.

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  9. april glaspie said on September 20, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    So be Patriotic. Go out there and get rich. Get so obnoxiously rich that when that tax bill comes , your first thought will be to choke on how big a check you have to write. Your 2nd thought will be “what a great problem to have”, and your 3rd should be a recognition that in paying your taxes you are helping to support millions of Americans that are not as fortunate as you.

    –Mark Cuban, best pro sports owner in USA, and apparently patriotic and socially responsible participant in society

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  10. Dexter said on September 20, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    The late Fred Imus, who was a stalwart on XM Radio’s “Outlaw Country” station, once said the worst part of living in a small community was that every time he walked out onto the steps of his trailer, “all these people stared at me”. It’s true, that happens in small towns, I experience it here in my small city, but never in large metropolitan areas. ( By the way, unlike theme-based radio characters who say they live in a trailer for comedic effect, Fred Imus actually did live in a Tuscon trailer, where he was found dead a short while ago.)

    I used to rant and rave on an anonymous telephone line which was transcribed into The Bryan Times, my local paper. This was 28 years ago, before everybody had a computer, and everybody got the paper. In those days, Ronald Wilson Reagan gave me plenty of comment fodder, and I would outline my rant with pen and paper and then call in to the answering machine. I respected the forum, which I think was called “Open Forum”, actually.
    Of course, the fun part was reading all the Jesus freaks’ comments about all topics, and the way the transcribers would write the words into the forum pages phonetically, such as if a hillbilly would call it and say “y’all”, “you-uns”, and “fishin’ down to the crick”, stuff like that. I really enjoyed reading that stuff. And the reasons some of these people loved Reagan…unbelievable.
    Now I jump ahead to the world of post-article comments in newspapers like The Freep. Outlandish, childish, profane in a disgusting, not entertaining manner (which makes it repulsive). I simply stopped reading comments, and yes, sports fans are the worst, I believe…they make little or no sense and they appear to be just plain stupid a lot. It’s just the same with YouTube music comments…just moronic, mostly. So to hell with anonymous comments. You had your chance, humanity, and the bad apples and id-jits fucking ruined it for everybody.

    Oh, and years ago when I was still a UAW worker, during the contract negotiations with the Big Three’s target one year, Ford Motor Company, the company PR folks addressed the media the first day with the announcement that workers were getting $71 an hour, total package. Nobody was getting anything close to that, and at the much smaller company where I worked, we were getting just a small fraction of that. But oh did the papers run with that goddam $71 figure.

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  11. april glaspie said on September 20, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Here’s a more astute analysis of Rep. Plegming’s side businesses than my slapdash, top of my head version, from the comments on the story:

    6.3 million…­.About 30% minimum for food costs and utilities, another 5% franchise fee…

    That leaves 4million, 95thousand­….He takes 400K…We are at 3.695 million.

    With 500 employees that’s $7390.00 gross each.

    Say 7.75% in payroll tax and maybe 2.25% state income tax…

    They net $6651.00 or $127.91 per week.

    And notice, the perfidious sumbitch is leaving out the $175grand he gets paid with the world’s greatest health benefits for being a fucking nihilist obstructionist Congressman.

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  12. Jakash said on September 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    I don’t understand why this “job creator” theme gets to be bandied about as if there is no evidence regarding the premise. If the main benefit to the rest of the country from these Bush tax cuts is that it puts more money in the hands of “job creators”, who will then create jobs, supposedly, then why in the world is this country not overflowing with jobs after ten years of said tax cuts? Am I missing something here?

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  13. Sue said on September 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    “Am I missing something here?”
    Jakash, you’re not missing a thing but every hard-hitting reporter at every press conference and Sunday-morning-lovefest is.
    The job creators aren’t doing their jobs. Fire them.

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  14. coozledad said on September 20, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    This was the aim of stress based pedagogy and creation of an artificial class system in the US, favoring the criminally inclined. We got us a country of peasants who’ll fight each other to the death for scraps.
    “Job creators” is just another tongue bathing for people vulgar enough to believe the stink has worn off them.

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  15. Jeff Borden said on September 20, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I will take all this bullshit about the uber-wealthy being “job creators” when we start seeing some jobs being created. Back in the days when Nancy, me and other weirdoes were frequenting Crazy Mama’s in Columbus, I used to wear a button on the lapel of my vintage sharkskin suit coat that read, “Eat the rich!” I need to find that button again. I’m sick to fucking death of reading about all the pain my seven, eight and nine-figure betters are suffering under the Kenyan anti-colonialist bastard. Move to Monaco or some other tax shelter and quit whining, assholes. And, by the way, quit talking about how patriotic you are when your selfishness results in the weakening of the nation you profess to love.

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  16. april glaspie said on September 20, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Jeff: Best bet for an Eat the Rich button.

    Origin of the term.

    Peasants fighting to the death for scraps. The strategy is borrowed from the Brits who managed to rape Ireland for years by distracting the serfs with religious warfare, but the vehicle is class rather than religion.

    As for “job-providers” someone should stuff George Lakoff’s mouth with gym socks. The wealthy don’t invest, and they sure as shit, as a class, don’t work. They collect dividends based on robber baron behavior of their ancestors. Those that actually made themselves rich seem to be most outspoke about paying a fair share without whining. But i’d like to hear some GOPer explain how hedge fund riches produce jobs. What, armies of personal trainers and concierge manicurists and tailors? Bullshit.

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  17. Bitter Scribe said on September 20, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    For some reason, this brings to mind Teddy Roosevelt, after he left office, suing some little rag in Armpit, Michigan for calling him a drunk. That poor schmuck of an editor must have been terrified when he got the summons. I think he reached a settlement.

    I guess my point is that people say all kinds of stuff when they think they won’t be held accountable. A few good libel suits, or even threats, might be enough to bring the more irresponsible actors in line.

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  18. april glaspie said on September 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Does anybody think that Lamar Alexander leaving a GOP “leadership” position will “make the Senate more effective” when he is replaced by the vile ideologue John Thune of the C-Street ministry. This is a bad omen. Does anybody believe this was Senator Alexanders decision? Only if it resulted from disgust with his colleagues.

    And you know, Scribe, half a million people were in Yankee Stadium when Babe Ruth called a homerun. Anonymity. On the internet, people can even get away with egregious shit like:

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  19. mark said on September 20, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Alex makes the point that deserves attention and scrutiny- the incredible excess in CEO compensation. It is one thing to acquire wealth a la Bill Gates (or even Mark Zuckerberg or JK Rowling) through rewards for creation and innovation. But hundred million dollar packages for executives to “run” existing enterprises, are obscene, and corporate boards should be held accountable. There is a huge difference between what Walt Disney created and being paid a salary to manage his creation. Disney’svision was a one in a million thing. Competent executives are much more common and don’t requie Eisner-like salaries to attract their interest and attention.

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  20. Jeff Borden said on September 20, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Amen, Mark, amen.

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  21. Bitter Scribe said on September 20, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    April, absolutely nobody in Yankee Stadium could have seen Ruth’s called shot, because it (allegedly) happened at Wrigley Field.

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  22. april glaspie said on September 20, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Of course, it was Wrigley. And I’ve seen film that appears to show Babe actually pointing to the bleachers. I just suggest that people will claim anything if they believe thay can’t be called on it. It’s like the plastic pocket protector people making physical threats on message boards, and people defending GOP tax policy on line by making wild claims about their own wealth and tax situations, and adventures in job creation.

    The CEO:R&F pay ratio is undoubtedly obscene, and it doesn’t even account for Golden Parachutes that these bimbos get for laying waste to companies and their employee pension plans, as well as, frequently, stockholders’ portfolios.

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  23. Joe Kobiela said on September 20, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I wish Mr Obama would define “rich” has anyone come up with a number? Is the magic number What you make a year? What you have in the bank? How much your investments make? Am I rich because I make more than my neighbor? Is he rich because he makes more than me? Im I rich because I have a share of a airplane? Is Nancy rich because she owns a sail boat, Hay Cooz you rich cause you have land? I really don’t think this will pass, hell the rich Dems don’t want it, we need to get out of the class warfare thinking.
    Waiting on my transplant team in beutiful Evansville Ind
    Pilot Joe

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  24. Sue said on September 20, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Joe: from the U.S. edition of the International Business Times:

    The centerpiece of the White House’s plan is a proposal to increase the effective tax rate on incomes over $1 million per year.

    Liberal and populist groups generally favor Obama’s proposal because of what they argue is a flaw in U.S. tax law. Although in theory upper income groups pay a higher percent of their income in federal tax, after subtracting for deductions, credits, and other breaks, upper-income adults — and especially the uber-rich with adjusted gross incomes above $5 million per year — often pay a lower percent of their income in federal income tax than middle-income and working class adults.

    In other words, Obama is going after one of the biggest loopholes in the current tax law — and one that costs the U.S. Government hundreds of billions of dollars — the 20 percent differential that encourages tax filers to find ways to reclassify wage income as investment income.

    That loophole in federal tax law is one reason that hedge fund managers, for example, among other institutional investors and accredited investors, who gross over $10 million or $25 million per year can, via reclassification, shift wage/salary income to investment income — often resulting in a lower effective tax rate than middle-income and working-class filers.

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  25. coozledad said on September 20, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Well, since you ask, Joe, I’m not rich because I own land. In fact, I would say the land falls on the debit side of the ledger. At least fell, until it was paid for, by my wife. You see, I got my money the way most rich Americans get theirs: I got related to it.
    I don’t mind paying taxes, because I count myself fortunate to live in a land where a man can roast 3/4 of his brain cells and remain cognizant enough of his surroundings to say “I do”, and have enough money that he cannot drink it all up in a couple of lifetimes. USA! USA!

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  26. Sue said on September 20, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Cooz, I think I like your romantic stories the very best of all.

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  27. Jeff Borden said on September 20, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    My father, who never made more than $31,000 per year in his life and did that only once, told me he was actually happy when he had to pay federal income taxes for the first time because it meant he was now earning enough to be taxed.

    Compared with the vast majority of other educated, industrialized nations, our tax rates are ludicrously low and are far lower now than during the Clinton administration, when we were enjoying an economic boom. And yet you’d think the feds have their boot heels on the throats of our poor plutocrats to hear all the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    As Oliver Wendell Holmes noted, paying taxes is our down payment on civilization. This is something our uber-wealthy –particularly the whiny, grasping, Montgomery Burnsesque shitheads like the Koch brothers, Scaife, the DeVos,– either do not grasp or choose to ignore while they wrap themselves in the American flag and piss on the poor and the dispossessed.

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  28. Maggie Jochild said on September 20, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    From “Miniature Earth”, if you have a refrigerator in which to store food, you are among the 8% richest in the world. Owning land, a sailboat, a dwelling, a degree, medical insurance, yes, they are all signs of being among the economic elite. We need to place ourselves in the continuum of humanity, feel and express gratitude for how we have been privileged simply by accident of birth (which accounts for far more of it than any personal industry), and recognize that intelligent sharing IS in our long-term best interests. Which I have to say used to be a defining characteristic of the Middle Class in our country, and part of why that class is being diligently dismantled. Returning to the tax rates used during the “Golden Age” fundies want to drag us women, darkies and queers back to would restore properity for EVERYONE. Which is why they are agin it. But some of us recognize that at least from Reagan onwards, we have been the targets of a deliberate and unrelenting class war, and fighting back is the only rational response. Claiming we are starting the conflict is the battering husband’s argument.

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  29. april glaspie said on September 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Troy Davis: If a man is convicted of murder solely on the basis of ID testimony, and 7/9 of those witnesses recant and additional witnesses now identify another person as the murderer, how do the courts turn down appeals, and how does a paroles and pardons board and a governor refuse to consider clemency? How does an allegedly civilized country with a supposedly superior legal system execute that man? Is this what people mean by American exceptionalism? This is a national outrage. Terrific Nellie Mckay video on this case, with a very spooky sax accompaniment.

    This “class warfare” bleating from GOPers is like all the horseshit about activist judges. As with the latter, GOP figures it’s gotten the upper hand, and doesn’t want anybody but themselves to use the rhetoric, when it serves their bludgeoning purposes.
    Class war has been waged by the Republicans leaving the slow demise of the Middle Class and the ascendancy of the CEO class, just as the only activist judges still legislating from the bench are people like Scalia, and they won’t cease and desist until money isn’t political speech, money is votes. And members of the American working class were the proverbial frogs in the pot of water brought slowly to a boil, that never had a clue they were cooked.

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  30. april glaspie said on September 20, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Jeff Borden: Restoring tax rates to the levels of the Raygun-era would put an end to all this mindless garbage about the deficit and the debt. Shouldn’t Republicans agree to returning to rhe reign of Ronaldus with the alacrity of dogs responding to Dr. Pavlov’s dinner bell? I mean, everything was perfect then, right?

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  31. Dexter said on September 20, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Coozledad, your day lottery number down there in the Tarheel :
    North Carolina (NC) Lottery Results – Latest Winning Numbers

    Pick 3
    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    316 (“For God so loved the world …” John 3:16

    This must be an omen, and a lucky man like you should act upon it and buy some tickets ASAP.

    My dear wife sometimes shows a jealous streak when she returns from church (sans me…I can’t take it ) and tells me how a certain couple complains about dispersing emergency cash to a church family who are about to have their electricity cut off because they lost their jobs.
    This couple have two farms. The husband as well as the wife each inherited a large-acreage farm. Even those people just one (or two) rungs up out of poverty will hate those who have little or nothing.
    I’m neutral, having inherited just two items in my lifetime, a chewed up pipe my grandfather sucked on (it came in a box with a worthless pocket watch) and a pillow my great aunt slept upon as a baby in a covered wagon back in 1875.

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  32. moe99 said on September 20, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Sue–LOL! Your comment made my day!

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  33. april glaspie said on September 20, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Hard facts about job creation and tax rates. Since 1950, the periods of largest employment growth in America have coincided with marginal tax rates of 65-80%. So these moos are flat out lying their asses off, or they’re dangerously delusional.

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  34. Joe Kobiela said on September 20, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Wonder what George Soros paid in taxes last year??
    Pilot Joe

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  35. april glaspie said on September 20, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Who knows, Joe? But you can bet Kommissar Karl had the IRS on his case during the W Lost decade. How ’bout them Koch-heads? Or that hard-working Richard Mellon Scaiffe, the vilest excuse for a human being in all of political finance.

    Bike accessory I have to have.

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  36. moe99 said on September 20, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    There is no correlation between tax cuts for the rich and job creation. WSJ said so 2 years ago:

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  37. MarkH said on September 20, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Joe @23 and April @33, see Alex @5.

    The income threshhold for “wealthiest Americans” has been most commonly stated as $250,000 for families and $200,000 for individuals, according to the president’s past pronouncements. But I have seen talk of taking it down to a flat $200,000 for everyone vis-a-vis Obama’s new tax plan. So, in reality, it may be maleable.

    Especially if you’re Charels Schumer, who has left the bus and decided to protect his constituents:

    I just wish I had as much time on my hands as April does.

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  38. coozledad said on September 20, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    From commenter Whetstone at Alicublog:
    “Most (81%) political conservatives say there is one ‘ultimate truth in the world, and new economic information of cost-benefit analysis is not going to change their mind about how the economy should work'”
    It’s a religion folks. This is the definition of epistemic closure. No need to try and discuss it with them.
    The Soros reference adds a nice touch of medieval anti-Semitism.
    I’ll give a shot at anwering that question in the way it was framed: For every Christian baby George Soros melts into shabbat candles, he has to lop off a leg and give it to the international Jewish conspiracy. For every poisoned well, a couple of shekels to international communism. Every time he makes Jeebus cry, he has to have a “dollar days” at one of his thousands of pawn shops.

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  39. april glaspie said on September 20, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    MarkH I work overnight and don’t really sleep more than three hrs. every 24. I’ve got an office for occasional conferencing and a business expense to write off. I’ve developed master specifications over 20 years so that I can produce contract documents for large construction porjects in a very short number of hours and get paid a lot for them. That is charging for expertise in covering contingencies and keeping clients out of legal trouble. Thanks to the W economy, work is off considerably. I’m not worried, no mortgage, condo free and clear but for the regime.And we don’t need $200thou a year to feed ourselves like Cong. Flemming, the poor struggling dear. I’ll be taking my social security in a few years, having paid in at top rate for many years. I will also be using Medicare if assholes like Paul Ryan don’t privatise it into functional oblivion, because I’ve been paying into it and also buying a beaucoup buck policy, because I think, despite being healthy, it’s abrogation of a citizen’s responsibility to go without. I don’t work as much as I would these days, because public entities are not renovating these days. TaDa no cash. Believe me, this situation did not manifest itself in the last 2-1/2 yrs. So yeah. I’ve got time to act like an asshole on the internet.

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  40. apocalipstick said on September 20, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Oh, the hilarity. I live in Mountain Grove. This is the second time in a decade it’s been featured in the Grey Lady (the other was a story about how the school was cutting the budget for the education of gifted children). It’s pure-dee Palin country, long on resentment and brimming full of bile. A local couple adopted two children from Russia. What did they name them? Rush and Reagan! I shit thee not!

    The town’s attitude is summed up nicely in an old Russian story:

    An angel appeared to a peasant who was plowing in the field. The angel said, “I will give you anything you desire.”

    “What’s the catch?” asked the peasant.

    The angel smiled. “Whatever I give to you, I will also give to your neighbor.”

    The peasant thought. “So if I wish for a thousand fat cattle, Grigori also gets a thousand fat cattle? If I wish for a palace of gold, he gets one as well?”

    “Just so,” said the angel.

    The peasant thought, then his face brightened. “I know,” he said. “Pluck out one of my eyes!”

    That’s my town!

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  41. nancy said on September 20, 2011 at 8:26 pm


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  42. Dexter said on September 20, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Update, all text from The Toledo Blade newspaper:
    “No reason given for raid at 6 NW Ohio IHOP restaurants
    Federal agents searched six IHOP restaurants in northwest Ohio and another in Indiana and executed search warrants on two homes and a storage locker Tuesday as part of an investigation that involves Homeland Security and the Internal Revenue Service. The nearly simultaneous raids at the popular eateries, including locations in West Toledo and Sylvania, Springfield, and Perrysburg townships, began just after 6 a.m., interrupting the busy breakfast rush at the restaurants.”
    Updated 5 minutes ago

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  43. Dexter said on September 20, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Winesburg. When my brother moved to Bellevue, Ohio in the 1970s, he made a friend named Bert Wolfe. Bert shortly after became my friend, too. Bert was born on September 10, 1892, and was a WW1 vet of fighting in France, and later he worked on the railroad out of Bellevue.
    “I landed in Bellevue in 1929”, he’d say.
    I bring this up because one must travel through Clyde, Ohio to reach Bellevue from the west.
    In the course of our day-long visits, Bert once told me all about Winesburg and Sherwood Anderson.
    Of course, Winesburg was printed before Bert came to Bellevue, but Bert had talked to many old-timers over the years about the book.
    Sherwood Anderson’s name was mud in that part of Ohio for decades…many of the Winesburg characters-of-degradation were real people, or at least a lot of folks thought they were the people exposed in the book.
    As I recall, Anderson was only honored many years later, for bringing fame and a little infamy to Clyde, Ohio.
    I remember a Winesburg Inn in Clyde, also.
    I guess all is forgiven by now, except you just might feel that somewhere some grandchild is keeping the hate-fires glowing or smoldering.

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  44. coozledad said on September 20, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Dexter: Didn’t Sherwood Anderson die from septicemia after a toothpick lodged in his throat? Nearly happened to me when I failed to notice one in a fried chicken chimichanga many years ago.
    He was a close friend of J.J. Lankes, a great unheralded print artist. Lankes lived in Durham while his girlfriend was being treated at the mental hospital nearby in Butner.

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  45. Dexter said on September 20, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Peritonitis was the final diagnosis, according to reports. A martini olive on a toothpick it was; did him in , what a horrible way to go, age 64. This is from Wikipedia so it’s gotsta be da troot’. 🙂

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  46. coozledad said on September 20, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    That’s right Dexter: I misremembered because of my own brush with toothpick death. I was sitting in a booth in a restaurant choking, and reluctantly trying to get the attention of the philosophy of Marxism class that met there. This occurred not too long after a man had received an unnecessary emergency steak knife tracheotomy at Slug’s At The Pines restaurant in Chapel Hill. I was conflicted.

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  47. alex said on September 20, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    cooz, I nominate you the new southern writer to beat Rita Mae Brown, Faulkner and Jesus. (Not that Jesus was a writer of any renown, but southerners always talk about beating him. Is that intended in the same vein as the colloquialism among the urban Irish about flogging the pope?)

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  48. brian stouder said on September 20, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    I’m starting to see the benefit in the ol’ skool, where if you wanted to write a letter to the editor, you had to use your full name, the letter was carried by the ponderous U.S. Postal Service and the paper called to verify your identity, all of which gave you many stops on the path to reconsider.


    To be fair, the terminology – “Tweets” on Twitter and scrawling on “walls” on Facebook – honestly points at the essentially trivial nature of what is written there; or so one (of a certain age) might think.

    We grew up reading papers that called themselves “Sentinels” of news, or “Tribunes”, or “Journals” or fixed “Stars” or “Suns”; or a “Free Press”; all of which actually came off of a mechanical press that produced ink-on-paper irrevocability. The people who produced those news-filled papers knew that passing on “news” that wasn’t true or wasn’t accurate would not be eraseable or deniable, but embarrassing and discrediting.

    Twitters and tweets and anonymous posts onto walls sound like entropy to me, but not to our next generation.

    And true enough, a certain percentage of people will pursue things that don’t “sound right” from this or that electronic source, while many won’t; many people will be easily diverted and misinformed. I suppose that has always been the case. Afterall, “yellow journalism” existed, and any number of dishonest and/or ill-informed (not to say hateful) pamphlets and broadsides and scandal sheets were printed the old fashioned way, all through our history.

    I guess the thing to do, when someone says something startling, is to ask where they learned whatever they just said. And when they say “Twitter”, the proper response is probably to giggle and snicker

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  49. Dave said on September 20, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Dexter, the last I knew, having more than a passing familiarity with Bellevue, the Winesburg Inn in Clyde was closed.

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  50. Kim said on September 20, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Cooz – Dare I say it but you are a right southern treasure. I know of J.J. Lankes and feel his love-hate relationship with the south. Or, The South.

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  51. lisa said on September 20, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    IHOP story link:

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  52. Dexter said on September 21, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Bert, the guy I knew from Bellevue, was put into Eshleman’s Nursing Home in Clyde about the time he turned 88. He hated it there, and he hated his son’s decision to stick him there. I’d drive the 90 miles one way to visit him on weekends.
    Bert began to become more and more paranoid each visit. He began to envision the other residents as “spotters”, out to report him for indiscretions.
    One Saturday I decided to spring him from the place for a few hours and get him a shot of liquor that he loved so much, and a cold beer. It was OK’d, then at the door we were denied exit, as someone decided it would be bad to take Bert out for a drive. I was a little miffed and Bert accepted it .
    That day Bert showed me a device he had hidden away, a heavy-duty plastic bag with a drawstring. He told me that if the spotters began to close in, he was going to put it over his head, pull the string tight, and kill himself.
    A few months later I was informed Bert had died “in his sleep.” I asked about the bag…was it a suicide? No. He died of natural causes. I wondered, though….

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  53. Dexter said on September 21, 2011 at 2:23 am

    Let me tell you
    How it will be…

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