The Five Stupidest Things Howard Schultz Said Yesterday
For reasons known only to Xenu, Crom, and the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is still "running for president" under the delusional belief that anyone but Howard Schultz would vote for him. Yesterday, at Miami Dade College in Miami, Schultz gave a speech about his "vision" of how he'd run the White House, presumably to an auditorium filled with students bribed with extra credit to attend. He had many ideas for increasing bipartisanship and governing from the center! Let's quickly count down five dumb things he said, and then go back to ignoring him!
5. 'The Center' is SEXCITING!
Apparently in reply to something Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said at SXSW, Schultz went full Droopy Dawg and pouted, "But I like the center. It is a good place, the center, where I pretend I am, and look at me, I am not 'meh' in the least. Are you calling down-home values meh because meh is where the heart is?"
The crowd responded with a hearty yawn, from the heart. The center isn't always meh, but Howard Schultz certainly is.
4. I will support only the blandest possible legislation!
Schultz made a solemn vow to force bipartisanship and bring a divided America back together, or perhaps just never get anything done in office, ever, insisting he would "not sign any legislation -- none -- into law that does not have bipartisan support." As examples of stuff that passed with a bipartisan vote, he cited the Civil Rights Act and Bill Clinton's terrible welfare reform bill.
"Real reform does not depend on the other side disappearing," Schultz said. "Real reform in America requires us to come together and find common solutions that honors and preserves our democracy."
Well that's a nice thought! You could even use some other data points, like the fact that Medicare passed in 1965 with at least some votes from Republicans in the House and Senate. Of course, today, it would get nowhere. And the Civil Rights Act wouldn't pass, either. Nor would the Voting Rights Act (another bill with wide bipartisan support in 1965, but it's unlikely today's R's would sign on). So while we'd be freed of the Bush and Trump tax cuts (passed by Republicans only), we'd also have no Obamacare and still be plagued with people facing death or at least bankruptcy because their preexisting conditions weren't covered, hooray! (Schultz might go counterfactual and insist that outcome couldn't happen, since Americans would clearly demand bipartisan health reform. Yeah, sure, wanna bet?) Schultz's message to Republicans: Don't worry about Dems retaking both houses if I'm president! You can block everything!
3. 'I am running for president'
Hahahahahaha, that one always gets us.
2. I will never appoint anyone to the Supreme Court!
OK, here's what Schultz actually said, and it is pretty much the same thing:
So ain't nobody going to be nominated, let alone confirmed. That's nice. But at least Schultz would find time for a wonderful idea: He would mandate bipartisan consumption of his former company's coffee!
You see, Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill got along good even though they disagreed, and just look at how well that worked out for America, with a bipartisan agreement that Republicans could let corporate lobbyists write the laws and Reagan could make "liberal" the dirtiest word ever.
1. I was born a poor black child in the projects
We actually haven't seen whether Schultz relied yesterday on his favorite line about having grown up on "literally the wrong side of the tracks," in "low-income housing," and probably having to fight rats for crumbs of food with Whitey on the Moon. But his supposed "rags to riches" story has been a constant part of his pitch. He grew up poor -- dirt poor! -- in a housing project and became a billionaire, so look what an American success story he is!
Except the darn Washington Post had to go and put the lie to that self-made myth by doing journalism to it.
Turns out that while his family did live in public housing when Schultz was a boy, it wasn't exactly the mean streets at all. Instead, it was a pretty nice complex of apartment towers aimed at families with solidly middle-income -- or lower-middle income at the least -- during the postwar housing shortage, back when public housing for the middle class wasn't a completely alien idea like it would be today. The Bayview development was brand new when his parents moved in, in 1956, and it was in no way a slum:
"It was a shiny, wonderful world," said former Bayview resident Elyse Maltz, one of many residents of the development who contend that Schultz, 65, has distorted the reality of the place where they grew up in the 1950s and '60s. "Everything was brand spanking new. "
Maltz, who got to know Schultz in seventh grade and now lives in New Jersey, said the Bayview that her family and Schultz's moved into "was middle-class, not lower middle. You were interviewed to get in. My family was pretty well off. I know Howard wants to look like he's rags to riches, but we had a wonderful, plentiful life. I mean, my ma had a cleaning lady. We really didn't lack for anything."
She called on Schultz to "please stop referring to us as poor or destitute, because it's insulting and we didn't feel that way at all."
And no, this isn't one of those "they weren't really poor because they had a refrigerator" stories; nor is it "AOC is not working class because she had a nickname in high school." Bayview just plain wasn't for poor people, by definition:
In 1956, the New York City Housing Authority opened Bayview as a "moderate income" development, built a block away from Jamaica Bay [...]
[Bayview] was built as a "no cash subsidy" project, according to city records.
That meant that unlike developments subsidized by the federal or state government, Bayview had minimum income requirements for tenants, charged higher rents intended to cover the entire cost of its mortgage, and was "built to high standards compared to [federal] projects," according to "Affordable Housing in New York," a history of public housing in the city.
The piece notes several former residents kept using the very same to describe the place: "the country club of projects" (where people no doubt drove the Cadillac of Minivans). Here's former Bayview resident Shelly Blank:
Howard Schultz makes it sound like a slum, but you couldn't be poor to live there. Don't let Howard fool you: It was brand new, a beautiful new place with new kitchens, new plumbing. We're excited that he's running, but I yell at the TV when he says this stuff.
And for all his talk of "escaping" the mean (tidy, fairly prosperous) streets of his formative environment, it turns out the people he grew up with weren't exactly trapped in poverty, either. Bayview in the '50s and '60s wasn't a place people tried to escape -- it was a place they aspired to.
"Bayview was for people who were moving up, part of the old tenement trail as people left the tough life in the old walk-ups of Brownsville and East New York to get to a place like Bayview," said Jonathan Rieder, a sociologist at Barnard College who spent years studying Bayview's neighborhood, the Canarsie section of Brooklyn. "Bayview was a heavily Jewish, solidly middle-income place. It was an oasis, a sanctuary."
The former neighbors really don't sound like they were forever bogged down in poverty, either, for some reason, though Schultz insisted in a 2012 self-hagiography, "Few kids would grow up and make it out of Canarsie." Sorry, bud, they seem to have done OK!
In fact, hardly any of Schultz's peers remain in Canarsie. Many are affluent professionals who live in big houses in New Jersey, on Long Island and in Florida, records show. And many are puzzled or distressed by their friend's version of the place they recall so fondly.
"Howie is already a politician because he is lying about Bayview," Debra Gherman wrote in the Bayview Facebook group. "You weren't poor if you lived in Bayview. You were middle income. . . . Rags to riches. Give me a break, Howie."
Hey, how about another big surprise? Schultz says he learned all about the value of diversity as a kid because he grew up in an "urban melting pot" where about a third of the residents were black and a slightly smaller percentage were Puerto Rican, and probably they all had rumbles in the alleys like the Jeks and the Sharts, too. Except nah, Howard Schultz did not live next door to Esther Rolle and John Amos in Cabrini-Green, and never heard Jimmie Walker shouting "Dy-no-MITE!" through the walls.
New York public housing generally had about the racial mix Schultz described -- blacks made up about 38 percent of residents at the time. But not Bayview:
In 1956, when the Schultz family moved in, the brand-new development's population was 93 percent white and 6 percent black, according to Housing Authority reports. [...]
Henry Bolus, who is African American and lived at Bayview for 43 years, including most of the time Schultz was there, said that "you could look near or far and maybe you'd see one other black person."
By the time Schultz moved to Michigan for college, in 1971, Bayview was 81 percent white and 17 percent black.
Dude's family was gentrifying Brooklyn before it ever de-gentrified.
We also love the dramatic defensiveness of Schultz's campaign about all this: He was too a poor black child, he WAS TOO:
A spokesman for his nascent campaign, Tucker Warren, said: "The rent at Bayview was less than $100 a month, and some months the Schultz family couldn't pay the rent. Any insinuation that Howard didn't grow up in an economically distressed environment is more of a comment on the state of our politics than it is about the economics of his family."
A hunnert bucks a month is not much! Of course, in 1956, it was equivalent to $939 today. Now sure, that still won't get you much housing in today's NYC market, but as you may have gathered, things were very different then.
In conclusion, go read the whole story, it is hilarious, and makes an excellent argument for housing subsidies for the working class. Thank you, comrade Howie!
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