By John Seiler | Watchdog.org
Taxes have become a key point of attack in the Democrats’ campaign to derail GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney — Romney’s own taxes, to be specific, and his refusal to release federal returns beyond the past two years.
Reasonable minds can disagree on whether Romney ought to comply with the Democrats’ insistence that he release everything — a decade’s worth, maybe. I figured reasonable minds also could agree that prominent elected Democrats making that demand release their own, too.
As long as I was making that pitch to elected Democrats, I wondered what liberal journalists would make of my request that they, too, produce their tax documents. Journalists aren’t — and shouldn’t — be required to release their tax docs just because politicians should. They’re not running for public office.
I figured I’d get polite declines.
I didn’t figure on Daily Kos blogger Michael Tuck, who calls himself “Black Max.”
Here’s exactly what I asked Tuck:
My name is John Seiler and I’m a reporter with the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity.
I noticed that you called for Mitt Romney to release his tax returns.
For an article I am doing on this, will you please publicly release your own tax returns and send me a copy?
It’s the same email I’m sending out to electeds — including the key word “please” that precedes a request that I regard as pretty non-confrontational.
Here’s how Tuck translated that request into a headline on his blog at the Daily Kos:
Tuck went on to quote my email request, and then to let his readers know that he’d really let me have it. He delighted in re-telling the savagery with which he said things — and could have said things.
When he blogs “Here’s what I wrote in return,” you can almost feel his adrenaline surge:
“Sure thing, John, as soon as I declare my candidacy for the presidency. And for the record, knowing what I know about Ben Franklin and the rabid partisanship of the Franklin Center, if Ben were with us today, he’d slap you guys silly. Don’t bother me again.
“I didn’t call him a right-wing jackass, though I certainly could have. (I mean, he did say ‘please’),” Tuck continued. “And since he was so willing to reach out and touch me through the wonders of the Intertoobz, I’ll provide his email address in case you’d like to do the same.”
He included my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) — as if he were being truly sassy. But my email is pretty easy to find because I’m managing editor for CalWatchDog.com, a Franklin Center affiliate.
Black Max then went on a long screed against the Franklin Center and others with whom it associates — or doesn’t associate with except in his imagination: “loony right,” “wingnut,” “rat (expletive deleted),” “(expletive deleted) sundae,” “puking,” “dumbass,” “Birchers,” “racist.”
I could go on, but you get the picture. He wrote, “From visiting their site and reading about them on that selfsame Intertoobz thing, it seems their real mission is to get Republicans elected and (expletive deleted) the media to keep the balance tilted towards the right.”
Funny, in my 57 years, including 37 in journalism, I hadn’t noticed the media “tilted toward the right.” Rather the opposite.
And I’m not a Republican. Since I registered to vote at 18 in 1973, I’ve always been an independent, or “Decline to state” in California. I did briefly register Republican this year to vote for Ron Paul, whom the Romney forces aren’t going to let speak at their convention next week.
Personally, I’ve always believed that the more opinions we have, the better. I’ve read The Nation now for 45 years. I also read The Progressive, Dissent and other left-wing publications, as well as the Daily Kos. (Which reminds me of Woody Allen’s old quip, “I heard Dissent and Commentary had merged and formed Dysentery.”)
In his 847-word response to my 53-word request, his most predictable dig is to suggest that I’m, well, a Nazi, an epithet that quite honestly seems beneath even a guy who calls himself “Black Max”: “I wonder,” he wrote, “if I will hear from Herr Seiler again.”
Well, he insisted in his email to me, “Don’t bother me again,” so I’m not emailing him. But the Internet still is free. At least until his beloved Obama invokes the NDAA against me. And I’m a reporter, so I’m reporting here.
As to the “Herr Seiler” quip, as was noted in the Daily Kos comments, it’s my German-American last name that he’s associating with the Third Reich – you know, like such other German-American names as Eisenhower and Nimitz. But in my family, practically everybody who could fought in the U.S. military in World War II. There was my father, whose name I bear. That’s his picture in 1941 at bootcamp in Louisiana, taking aim at a clothesline. He rose to become a captain in the U.S. Army.
I also had three uncles who served in the U.S. Army, a great uncle who was a U.S. Navy veteran and was recalled for the duration, and a cousin who was badly shot up in France serving in the U.S. Army infantry. Even my Mom served as a registered nurse at a Chrysler tank plant in Detroit, part of the Arsenal of Democracy.
My parents always remembered the friends who never came back.
I served in U.S. Army military intelligence myself, 1978-82. The FBI did a thorough background check on me before I was given a Top Secret-Special Intelligence clearance. They discovered, to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart, I’m no Nazi.
Nor am I the kind of guy who gets bugged when a guy named after a portable gas-powered generator questions my patriotism.
Black Max is full of himself — which is to say full of highly flammable methane. No one, it turns out, is really “demanding” anything from him. We simply thought this would be funny. And it is.
Contact John Seiler at email@example.com.