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Your first Nooner of 2014
by Barry Friedman

Is it Noonan or is Not?

What does it mean to be rich?

Is it just money or is it something else, something warmer, more enveloping, like a man—a lover, a friend, a soulmate, a metaphor, a composite, a … a … someone—who will hold you in his arms in bed while softly reading O’Reilly to you as you “draw” the 2016 battleground states in the hairs of his chest with your index finger.

Is it so, so tough to answer. Yes. Both. Neither. My memories flood over me, dousing me in warmth and tenderness.

I thought of this very germane and important and wrenching question as the insatiable beast of income inequity, once again, broke out in the American derma this week. It is like chronic acne on one’s chest—it burns, it’s unseemly and unsightly, leaving little pit marks between otherwise yearning breasts, both nubile and aging. Speaking of, the argument, the hand-wringing, comes on suddenly and quickly, like a ghost in the middle of the night that makes you thrust forward, grab your "chi-chi” (you may know it as “blankie”), and clutch it to those heaving breasts to quiet the noise and desperation and expectation that burns within. You awake, sweaty, panting, wishing for coffee and to be held … until you realize there’s nothing there.

Nobody. There.

I continue.

Still we pick at the blemishes and scabs, drawing blood and mendacity. Income inequality. Nothing there. As the 20-something girls who get all the guys say, “Whatev!”

The discussion, though, inexplicably, still confounds us, even today on this the 60th anniversary of this august Sunday morning talk show table that has faced a nation. What’s funny about the income gap—and by funny, I don’t mean funny in the way our Jewish friends make Reagan-going-to-Bitburg-jokes—but funny in the way wry, clever writers who give their opinions on multiple media platforms masterfully burst this bad, bad metaphorical piñata.

My dear, dear friends, I submit:

Rich people have money; poor people do not.
Rich people regret having to offer medical insurance so middle management can have indiscriminate sex.
Rich people have feelings, too, and hurt when they are mocked, as New York's new mayor did.

(More on this tall man later)

It’s been that way since the 1980s--this new respect for the captains of industry (a love, really)-- as far back as thinking men and women of my party remember.

Wall Street, which this administration fears, is robust, flush, and unapologetic; grocery stores, which this administration loves, are crowded and full of cheeses, frozen pineapple juice, and big bags of off-brand cereal.

It seems the markets are doing well. (See what I did there?)

So, to demonize the rich among us— those who have season tickets to touring Broadway shows and own businesses that make power cords in remote parts of China—but to extoll the poor—those without smart phones and love the biscuits at Red Lobster—is too simple, too cliched … like rejecting a middle aged woman at a bar for one of those aforementioned 20-somethings.

I wonder why we do that.

Pourquois états-unis

*Now … an apology. I may have indicated—when I came out and actually said it— that the new mayor of New York Bill de Blasio is a former Sandinista. I was angry because the big schlub with the exotic wife and the son with the foreboding ‘fro dared to question Ronald Reagan’s policy in Nicaragua, a policy I helped articulate while watching the revolution. Well, of course, he isn’t—not any more than the president is a former Kenyan warlord coming to enslave our first borns and bed our women. So … I’m sorry. I love language and putting people and places together, but I erred in my linking verb. After all, I am no Dowd. I am no Brooks. I am no Friedman.

How I yearn to be.

How I weep that I am not.

Yet I am rich.

Originally posted to News From The Plains. All This Red Can Make You Blue on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 04:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The comedian's friend (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694, viral, JBL55

    What would we do without her?

    If the Republicans ever find out that Barack Obama favors respiration, we'll be a one-party system inside two minutes. - Alan Lewis

    by MadRuth on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 04:45:24 AM PST

  •  Vuz, nothing you can do will make me (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    unfangus, catwho, viral, JBL55, Mayfly

    get a subscription to the WSJ.  Nothing.  The latest product of Nooner's fertile brain is paywalled, so I am again left to imagine...

    •  Here you go ... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wintergreen8694, salmo, JBL55, golem

      Cities sometimes make swerves. That's what New York did in November when it elected a left-wing Democrat, Bill de Blasio, as mayor. The city was saying, "Enough with the past, let's try something new." There's no doubt they will get it.

      Mayors Rudy Giuliani (1994-2001) and Mike Bloomberg (2002-13) led a renaissance of the city, which had half-killed itself in the 1960s, '70s and '80s with bankruptcy, labor unrest and high crime rates. The city was thought to be unworkable, finished. For Mayor Giuliani the job was to stabilize, get the criminals off the street, let people feel safe again. Once that was done New York's natural hunger and high spirits would reassert themselves, businesses would thrive and hire. He left behind a safer, more prosperous city. And there was the parting gift of his last days as mayor, during 9/11 and its aftermath, when—love him or hate him—he showed what a leader looked like.

      Enlarge Image

      New York Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers his inaugural address outside City Hall, Jan. 1. Associated Press

      Mike Bloomberg, sworn in weeks later, had to lead the city as it righted itself, got over the trauma and refound its confidence. His job was to shake off the ashes and dust, expand and diversify the economy, help create jobs, lower crime rates even further, move forward. He succeeded. The other night at his last dinner as mayor, one of his daughters' eyes filled with tears as she thanked him, in a toast, for leaving behind a city that her son could be proud of, love, and live in forever.

      These imperfect men with their imperfect administrations and their big mistakes—they made a masterpiece. In the past 20 years, other American cities were going down—Detroit most famously—while New York not only became again what it was, the greatest city on the face of the Earth, but it looked like it, and felt like it.

      *
      Why did New York swerve from that path instead of continuing on it? A lot of reasons. You have to have some years on you to remember New York when it didn't work—to even know that it's not magically ordained that it will. You have to be older than 30 or so to remember when it wasn't safe.

      In 1991, there were 2,245 murders in New York. In 2013, there were 333. If you're a 20-year-old voter, or a 40-year-old voter who came to the city from elsewhere, you don't remember 1991, and how it felt. You don't remember garbage strikes and grime. Your vision of the city is as it was in the Giuliani-Bloomberg era, a city ever rising.

      And New York is a Democratic town. Sooner or later it was going to swerve. Though the largely untold story is that voter turnout in November was historically low. Only about a million of 4.3 million registered voters showed up at the polls. Bill de Blasio won in landslide, but it was a landslide from a severely reduced pile of voters.

      *
      No one knows exactly what's coming, but Mr. de Blasio's inaugural address on Wednesday was not promising. Whether you are a conservative or a liberal, you can choose, as a leader, to be a uniter or a divider. Mr. de Blasio seems very much the latter. He is on the side of the poor and the marginalized, which is good, but he took every opportunity to jab at those who are not poor and don't live on the margins. "Big dreams are not a luxury of the privileged few," he said. Whoever said they were? He is a political descendant of those "who took on the elite." New York "is not the exclusive domain of the One Percent." Who said it was? His campaign promises—more spending, higher taxes—are not, he said, just "rhetoric." There was a repeated refrain: "We won't wait. We'll do it now."

      This mayor will "reform" the stop-and-frisk policy of the New York Police Department. Exactly how, he didn't say. But stop, question and frisk has been part of the kind of policing that helped New York reduce crime.

      "We will ask the very wealthy to pay a little more in taxes so that we can offer full-day, universal pre-K and after-school programs for every middle school student." The wealthy should not complain. "Those earning between $500,000 and one million dollars a year, for instance, would see their taxes increase by an average of $973 a year. That's less than three bucks a day—about the cost of a small soy latte at your local Starbucks. SBUX -0.29%  "

      Ah, those latte-swilling debutantes and malefactors of great wealth.

      There was no mention of the most famous impediment to educational improvement and reform: the teachers unions.

      Mr. de Blasio acknowledges that his "progressive vision" is not supported by everyone. "Some on the far right continue to preach the virtue of trickle-down economics. They believe that the way to move forward is to give more to the most fortunate, and that somehow the benefits will work their way down to everyone else. They sell their approach as the path of 'rugged individualism.' " But don't worry, he doesn't want to "punish success," he wants to "create more success stories."

      It isn't hard to unpack this. Those who oppose Mr. de Blasio are greedy and uncaring. They don't offer a point of view, they "preach," and what they preach is that the poor should be satisfied with the crumbs that fall from the tables of the rich. They "sell" this argument—my goodness, they're trying to make money even while discussing politics—but the flawed product they peddle is "rugged individualism," a phrase that hasn't been used in this city in a century. But even rugged individualists, he quotes former New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia as saying, can't survive in the midst of "collective starvation." And you thought Mike Bloomberg left New York in pretty good shape.

      *
      An inaugural address is a big thing. It declares an agenda but also sets a tone. An attitude. The tone Mr. de Blasio set was that of a divider.

      A uniter's approach would have been one that was both more morally generous and more honest. It wouldn't set one group against the other, it would have asserted that all New Yorkers are in this together. Something along this approach: "To those who earn half a million dollars or more a year, we know and understand that your weekly paycheck is already subject to federal, state and city taxes. Which means we know you already contribute a great deal, and not only through taxes. So many of our citizens are deeply civic-minded. They give their time and effort to helping their local churches and synagogues; to building civic organizations; to raising funds for the poor and the hungry; to volunteering for literacy programs; and donating their wealth to keep the arts and the museums going. In our town, much has always been asked of those to whom much has been given—and they have come through. They have helped build a ladder. And now we are going to make that ladder sturdier, stronger, higher and wider so more of our young can use it."

      What was absent in Mr. de Blasio's remarks was a kind of civic courtesy, or grace. The kind that seeks to unite and build from shared strength, the kind that doesn't demonize. Instead, from our new mayor we got the snotty sound of us vs. them, of zero-sum politics.

      It was not a promising beginning. Or rather what it promises is unfortunate. I already miss Mike.

  •  Once again, the Noonerator (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55

    emerges from the nubile, fertile and every other tile there is of the mind of a Plainsman with a distinctively plain rendering (and I do mean in the boiling off the fat sense) of the famous Pegster, worshipper of men's loafers and chest hair and apparently other clothing and body parts (male only aside from aging breasts).  Priceless.  

    •  she wants to play with his Florida (0+ / 0-)

      It's so pendulous and um, swingy.

      At least she didn't squeeeee that she "just wants to be with George" Zimmerman, I guess.

      "Did they really think that we wouldn't notice? Nice try-- but we got you!" Rev. Al Sharpton

      by growingMajorityMN on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 06:59:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nooner - Actually, I had another image. . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55

    But, the name is perfect for the braindead excuser of the GOP.

    NOONER

    Ok, I will always keep the image in mind every time she opens her mind with another excuse, er explanation, for why GOP plans always seem to enrich the already wealthy at the expense of the people in our society who can least afford to pay more.

    NOONER

    This weekend, I went to see "Wolf of Wall Street" and Matt Damon provided an excellent, X-rated version, of just exactly how, the Wolves work (LOL) to earn (LOLLOL - That 's a double LOL) their money.  The Wolves never contribute any actual benefit, and they prey, on the uninformed, to take hard-earned money and convert that into their wealth.

    NOONER

    Thanks, Nooner, you and your ilk have contributed about as much to the political climate of our nation as the Wolves of Wall Street have contributed to the wealth of our Nation.  You have added nothing for anybody, while enriching your own egos.

    My wife, daughter and granddaughters should have more privacy in their doctor's office than I have buying another rifle or shotgun.

    by NM Ray on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 09:26:25 AM PST

  •  Not bad Barry... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55

    ...but surely you could work Reagan's foot into this flow of consciousness...

    I don't know what's been trickling down, but it hasn't been pleasant---N. Pelosi

    by Russycle on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 09:39:30 AM PST

  •  Tell us about the dolphins (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    milkbone, JBL55

    Peggy, will we have dolphins if we get rich?

    [Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security] do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

    by MoDem on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 10:07:25 AM PST

  •  to summarize this latest offering from the nooner: (0+ / 0-)

    all tax is theft to conservatives. they want a civilized society, but they don't want to pay for it.

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