walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

It could not have happened to a more worthy target

I've been surfing around reading coverage of the Todd Henderson disaster, partly because I've been curious to see if there is any appetite for soak-the-rich. There are some fantastic arguments (some of which are even being made) that high income folk in the 250K-millionish range are getting soaked already compared to the truly high earners (hedgies who don't pay income tax; they pay capital gains and those rates are obscene. And I say that as a person who has benefited from those rates). Of course, that means nothing in the current debate, which is the relative tax burden of median folk and people who are making meaningfully more than $250K taxable.

I've been a little puzzled by the number of lawyers willing to jump in on the Henderson side of the $250K/yr does not make you rich. This strikes me as a dumb argument: your audience will either hate you, or already agree with you. It isn't going to convince anyone, so why even bring it up? Adding details that include as much spent in "other household expenses" as median folk see in take home pay really stings, too. There was a time when this sort of thing got beaten out of people, either by their parents when they were kids, by other children when they were kids, or by family/friends who were median folk and didn't like richy-rich getting all uppity, at any age. Perhaps we've gotten a little too good at segregating by income.

Also, take a look at this:

http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/henderson

If that career doesn't scream, I HAVE ASPERGER'S, well, the photo does. Come on. An engineering degree to law professor at University of Chicago? This is not a man with social skills. I recognize the type. You know, because I _am_ the type.

Moving on to a news link on the site:

http://www.law.uchicago.edu/news/henderson102809

The Federalist Society gave him an award. If you aren't familiar with the Federalist Society, google might take you here:

http://www.fed-soc.org/aboutus/

Or here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalist_Society

This ought to catch your eye:

"The society was begun by a group including Edwin Meese, Robert Bork, Theodore Olson, David M. McIntosh, and Steven Calabresi, and its members have included Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia, John G. Roberts and Samuel Alito."

Mind you, Ted Olson has done some things lately to really give conservatives pause (joining up with Boies on the Prop 8 case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perry_v._Schwarzenegger).

Let's pretend, for a moment, that you're a political organizer or strategist or just someone who is pissed as hell about what the last couple years have been like: Democrats controlling both houses and the Presidency, and the Republicans running an amazing circus in the media and implementing Gregg's playbook of Just Say No to Everything in the Senate. You're thinking, a little monkey wrench, that'd be a good thing. Change the debate. Hmmm. Well, the tax cuts are about to expire, and rhetoric is mired in whether it is the Democrats raising taxes and if so on who, or the Republicans demanding tax cuts for the rich before they'll sign off on tax cuts for the middle class. And this young idiot blogs something fairly incendiary and unbelievably out of touch. You might decide that it was worth e-mailing some bloggers and some friends of yours a link to that post, and, for good measure, some critiques of that post. Very low cost intervention. Potentially a huge win -- not because you pick on some nerd who managed to evade every single piece of information anyone gave him about how to behave in public. No. What you're _really_ hoping is that all his buddies, who usually nod and cheer when he rants about the liberal wtf, will experience a moment of group hysteria, or temporary insanity, or camaraderie, or whatever. Maybe _they'll_ post something completely out of touch and incendiary. Maybe this ball could be kept rolling, and as long as it's rolling, it's really hard to scare the masses about Marxian anything or socialist whatever. They're too distracted by the idea that someone who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars _every single year_ is saying he's not rich. And all his lawyer and political friends are agreeing with him.

The initial bloggers pushing this ball downhill (Delong, etc.) were quite cautious to acknowledge that perhaps the Todd Henderson doing the blogging was not _really_ the Todd Henderson, Professor at University of Chicago Law School. After all, we've seen what happened when some right wing blogger offered up red meat and Fox News took it. A little too much embarrassment all around to want to be a party to that. And while I haven't checked in with Rachel Maddow tonight, this hasn't turned up on MSNBC that I've seen so far. But I would be feeling a whole lot of respect for Democratic chances in this midterm if we could get some video of relevant people saying $250K/year isn't rich. And play it over and over and over again. Honestly? That would be better than masturbation is wrong because you can't do it without lust in your heart. It might even be better than misspent campaign funds.

But even if it all piddles down in the next 24 hours and never makes it out of the blogs, even if the only guy to get truly hammered is a guy used to nothing but adulation from academia and complete oblivion outside it, well, at least he'll be an object lesson to young guns in the Federalist Society: someone is reading your blog and waiting for you to really and truly be a jackass.
Tags: economics, politics, taxation
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