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Battle of the Bosses

From the Scrapbook.

Apr 18, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 30 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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We yield to no one in our admiration for Chris Christie, even though he’s from New Jersey. The candor and plain speaking that have made him a YouTube matinee idol have made him a Scrapbook favorite too. So it’s only with the greatest reluctance that we draw your attention to an incident in which, perhaps for understandable reasons, his gift for voicing uncomfortable truths failed him.

Chris Christie, Bruce Springsteen

New Jerseyans Chris Christie and Bruce Springsteen

Newscom / AP Photo-Craig Ruttle

Christie calls himself Bruce Springsteen’s number one fan. Again, we forgive him. But when Diane Sawyer interviewed the governor last week and quoted a letter that Springsteen had published critical of Christie’s fiscal policies, the governor put on the kid gloves.

“I mean, you know, Bruce is liberal,” the governor said. “Doesn’t mean I like him any less. But you know, Bruce believes that we should be raising taxes all the time on -everyone to do all the things that he’d like to see government do. That’s fine, it’s his point of view and he’s absolutely welcome to it, and I have great respect for it, because he speaks out.”

That’s it? This is the response of a number one fan, not of a governor—and certainly not of a governor who has stared down the teachers’ union and infuriated liberals by insisting on calling things by their proper names. Why not continue the candor with Bruce? If Springsteen wants to play politics instead of music, we feel free—and so should Christie—to talk music instead of politics, by pointing out (for example) that Bruce Springsteen hasn’t had a fresh musical idea since his album The River, released 30 years ago, and that his lyrics have become as predictable as the sunrise. You know it, governor, and Bruce knows it. Go ahead: Speak truth to power.

The Perfidious Liquor Lobby?

The Scrapbook is always on the prowl for evidence that newspaper editorial staffs live in a parallel universe, and the sad fact is that it usually doesn’t have to prowl very hard. 

Last week, for example, a delightfully loony editorial in the Washington Post fell in our lap, entitled “Standing up to the Liquor Lobby.” Nobody likes lobbyists, of course—and The Scrapbook assumed that “liquor lobby” must have meant hard-faced men in dark suits who travel around carrying armloads of money for politicians to defend drunkenness, or promote those cocktails with the little umbrellas stuck in the glass. But the editorial’s subhed tipped us off that this was different: “In Maryland, a higher tax on alcohol—at long last.” 

It turns out that the terrible thing the “liquor lobby” has been doing in Maryland is keeping taxes low on liquor, which of course is a service—and no doubt a service greatly appreciated by Marylanders—that has prevented the (elected) government of Maryland from spending money that the Washington Post thinks it should spend. So, you see, in the Post’s view, it is a good thing that the “liquor lobby” has been thwarted and that taxes are going up “at long last.” 

But proof that you and I don’t reside on the same planet as Post writers comes in the editorial’s opening sentences: 

Four decades is a long time to wait, but at last Marylanders can be hopeful that the state’s politicians are prepared to stand up to the alcohol lobby. .  .  . [L]awmakers in Annapolis seem poised to raise the tax on alcohol specifically, which is so low that Maryland might as well change its official nickname from the Free State to the Cheap Drunk State.

The rest is a Carrie Nation-style jeremiad against the evils of demon rum, combined with a list of dubious causes Maryland taxpayers should be subsidizing. We’ll spare you the details. But The Scrapbook has to ask: Does the Post genuinely believe that the taxpayers of Maryland—especially those taxpayers who take a drink now and then—are “hopeful” that their taxes, which are already among the highest in America, will be raised? Or are pleased that their legislators are “standing up” against those who seek to keep their taxes at reasonable levels? 

Obviously, Maryland is a resolutely blue state, and the Washington Post believes that taxation is next to godliness. But The Scrapbook suspects that even Marylanders groan when their taxes go up—especially when applied to things they enjoy—and that you have to subsist in a really insulated, well-sealed, oblivious community to believe that anyone anywhere would be celebrating higher taxes. 

 

The Guilt of the Rosenbergs (cont.)

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