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Belmont Club

The Trouble With Maids

January 12th, 2014 - 3:31 am

Devyani Khobragade, indicted Indian Diplomat, who is at the center of a storm between India and the United States following her arrest for allegedly employing a servant under slave labor conditions.

Dominique Strauss Kahn, IMF Director and favorite to become president of France, arrested for allegedly behaving indecently with a hotel maid.

Zoe Baird who was nominated by President Bill Clinton as the first woman to be Attorney General of the United States but withdrew her nomination because of a controversy surrounding her hiring of two illegal aliens from Peru as servants.

Kimba Wood who following the disqualification of Baird was Clinton’s second choice, but within a day it became known that she too had employed an illegal alien to look after her child.

Balked at his first two nominations, Clinton finally selected state prosecutor Janet Reno, who was confirmed and served through all eight years of the administration. She didn’t have any trouble with maids.

Who said God didn’t have a sense of humor?

There’s a moral in here somewhere, if someone can figure out what it is. Perhaps there are two “third rails” of politics throughout the world. The first is the deep reservoir of resentment against the assertion of “class privilege”. What unites those who were ensnared by the ‘maid scandals’ is they were seen to be putting themselves above others.

That image was exploited by prosecutors or examiners who wanted to make a name for themselves by targeting otherwise untouchable game by portraying the accused as heartless villains who will exploit, rape or otherwise degrade the poor and defenseless just to save a few bucks.  If you accused a politician of keeping a million dollars in stolen money in a refrigerator, nobody would mind. But accuse them of working a maid for 100 hours a week at $1.42 an hour and look out.

The second electric rail is challenging the authority of institutions.  One of the attractions of being a diplomat is so that you’re not treated like others. You get to go in where others are kept out; you are entitled to deference whether the rest have to jump through hoops. Treating a special person like a common peon often triggers a self-protective reflex among the elites, whether Indian, French or American because it threatens them all.  F. Scott Fitgerald was right: the rich are different from you and me.

They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.

And the accused elites know better than anyone that they were playing by the real rules,  that they were simply caught transgressing by hypocritical prosecutors who are regard themselves as the most special of all.  Perhaps the wisest course is to hate prosecutors and politicians with equal vehemence.

Yet these lines cross and re-cross. Hence a survey of Twitter seems to show that even the Indians are divided by the expulsion of Khobragade. Some of the poor see it is as comeuppance for those who have long lorded it over them while the Indian great perceive it as a slight on their — underscore ‘their’ — country.

But it’s not particular to India. Recently in the Philippines the mayor of a major city attempted to bull his way through a gated community checkpoint. He wanted it opened specially for himself. The guards refused so he spent next hour getting his bodguards to intimidate the rent-a-cops until his police force could arrive to arrest them for the crime of defying him. Of course he could have driven around to another exit in 5 minutes. But that was unthinkable because he had to punish the guards for refusing to respond to his all-purpose justification for anything.

“Don’t you know who I am?” The six most explosive words in the world.

Unfortunately the whole thing was recorded on a security video camera and posted on YouTube leading to  a political crisis for the mayor.

There is nothing so fraught with peril as an interaction between the very rich and the very poor. In certain circumstances, both can be seized with a determination to assert their wounded pride to an unreasonable extent. The fact that a man is poor, no less than the fact that he is rich, can lead to an imagined inflation of dignity. In those situations two men from opposite sides of the tracks will kill each other over a sharp look, or over the possession of bottle of beer, even though neither is worth anything to either.

For the poor are also different from you and me. They know early what it is to be kicked in the teeth; what it is to scrape and grovel before idiots with a fixed smile. And to constantly listen to that terrible and meaningless phrase. “Don’t you know who I am?”

Even when the rich are right in argument with the poor, they can still think they are being shafted. It’s a perception that dies hard. One of America’s former great aspirations was to put an end to class warfare. It was  a noble dream, to see each man as an individual; a prince or blackguard for himself alone; to see the rights and wrongs of things on their merits. Too bad that its current leaders have once again come to the conclusion that class warfare is a good idea.

It’s not who’s right. It’s whose side are you on?


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Top Rated Comments   
The rich are different. One of the issues with being rich is that people assume that because you are wealthy you’re smart … or wise. As we can see, this is rarely true. Like the idiot savant, the people who have created their own wealth are often very good at one thing but not good at anything else. But a person’s wealth draws sycophants who tell the wealthy what it takes to become part of their posse.

That said, not one millionaire or billionaire has ever harmed me, but the Ruling Class in Washington have taken ever greater amounts of my pay. They have forced me to buy more expensive light bulbs, intruded into my bathroom and decided my toilet was a hazard to the planet, they have passed so many laws that I commit several felonies before breakfast. When they take charge of cities like Detroit they bleed them to death until they go bankrupt. They have forced millions to lose their health insurance under the pretense that they were going to improve American health care. They have imposed the largest Ponzi schemes in the history of the world via social Security and Medicare. They have transformed the world’s richest country into history’s brokest country without breaking a sweat. They own the distinction of spending a billion dollars on “stimulus” without actually creating a single job. They managed to elect a half-black President who promised to bridge the racial divided and who managed to set back race relations fifty years.

We are told to believe that Obama didn’t know about Fast and Furious, he didn’t know that the IRS going after conservative groups and auditing his political opponents, that he read about DOJ going after James Rosen in the paper, that NSA isn’t spying on Americans and that Benghazi was a demonstration about a video that got out of hand. We have to believe that when Obama told us we could keep our insurance, doctor and hospital if we wanted to he was telling the truth. And the press covered up the Obama scandals like a dog burying a bone.

But I’m supposed to fear rich people. Well there’s one rich person I fear and he’s currently President. Not because he’s rich but because he, or an underling, can cause the entire power of the government – IRS, DOJ, EPA, and all the rest of the government’s alphabet agencies to come down on me and bury me. Even if I’m as innocent as a lamb, he has the power to crush me with process. Forget about the rich, keep an eye on those who hold political power. Fear the politician, not the plutocrat.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
We have already lost the idea of a society where if not "classless" it is at least not a caste system. Social and economic mobility are now anathema to the Nomenklatura regardless of party. q.v.: The Leftist hatred for the concept of merit, and the Institutional Republican contempt, disgust, and hatred for those detestable low-life Conservatives that they are forced to deal with .... for a while longer.

Equality before the law has been slipping for decades, but now the very concept of an objective Law has been destroyed. Having the law on your side carries no weight if you are not part of the Nomenklatura; because it will be twisted or ignored by those who are. Yet those same Nomenklatura will demand that those below them follow every jot and tittle, and they claim the Law as their bulwark.


The sense of all being an "us", is the lubricant that allows a society to continue to exist with different groups with different priorities and beliefs. Contempt for people, for law, and for custom removes that lubricant, and the friction creates a social heat that can burst into flame far more readily than most people removed from that society can conceive.

We are no longer all an "us" in this country. We are at least two "us's" with countervailing "them's". And "them" are not our friends, nor do they have any of our interests at heart.

The use of the phrase“Don’t you know who I am?” is an unrecognized indicator to all that the lubricant of Law and custom has and is leaking away. And that the speaker does not recognize it, nor that every time it is used his protection by the Law and custom is getting weaker and weaker. Someday the speaker, and all his fellows, will come to the sudden realization that they are not protected at all, that the correlation of forces has always been against them in the absence of that protection.

The 1770 Boston Massacre started as a snowball fight. And it ended with the King's men killing 5 civilians. In the scales of empire, 5 civilian deaths weighed nothing. The soldiers were even protected by the Law; 6 being acquitted and two convicted of manslaughter but given very minor sentences instead of death. The Law operated, arguably correctly. But it was a turning point in the view of the subjects.

When the King's men tried to take a stroll in the countryside outside Boston in the spring of 1775; they found that the King's Law had become Lex Talionus. And the King's supporters found that their claws were fewer and weaker, and of no avail to protect them.

Events, and news of them, move a lot faster than in the 1700's. As do the reactions to those events. Pebbles can start an avalanche.

Subotai Bahadur
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
"With the rich and mighty always a little patience."

Extremes of wealth can produce narcissism. So can other variations such as physical appearance. Sometimes the attractive child grows up kind and trusting because when they are an infant everyone smiles at them and sometimes the truly ugly harbor a deep pain inside. Sometimes it is the other way around and the beautiful assume everyone is insincere and easily manipulated while the homely learn to be gracious to elicit support. People learn to play the odds when dealing with others because there are costs to learning an individual's character and most such prejudices are based in a statistical reality. So people anticipate how the other will behave and when wrong are often distressed, even if the conduct encountered is better than expected.

Wealthy and powerful people in the West are usually accommodating when dealing with the weak. The CEO will hold the door for a poor woman or stop to help a minor customer. In our culture to bully the defenseless is a sign of weakness. In other cultures that may not be true.

The culture of poverty is that of grievance collecting and confrontation. The poor in spirit are constantly seeking to establish power over others by pointing out slights and errors or bullying to get a short term advantage. Government and retail are filled with these bitter people.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (13)
All Comments   (13)
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The rich are different. One of the issues with being rich is that people assume that because you are wealthy you’re smart … or wise. As we can see, this is rarely true. Like the idiot savant, the people who have created their own wealth are often very good at one thing but not good at anything else. But a person’s wealth draws sycophants who tell the wealthy what it takes to become part of their posse.

That said, not one millionaire or billionaire has ever harmed me, but the Ruling Class in Washington have taken ever greater amounts of my pay. They have forced me to buy more expensive light bulbs, intruded into my bathroom and decided my toilet was a hazard to the planet, they have passed so many laws that I commit several felonies before breakfast. When they take charge of cities like Detroit they bleed them to death until they go bankrupt. They have forced millions to lose their health insurance under the pretense that they were going to improve American health care. They have imposed the largest Ponzi schemes in the history of the world via social Security and Medicare. They have transformed the world’s richest country into history’s brokest country without breaking a sweat. They own the distinction of spending a billion dollars on “stimulus” without actually creating a single job. They managed to elect a half-black President who promised to bridge the racial divided and who managed to set back race relations fifty years.

We are told to believe that Obama didn’t know about Fast and Furious, he didn’t know that the IRS going after conservative groups and auditing his political opponents, that he read about DOJ going after James Rosen in the paper, that NSA isn’t spying on Americans and that Benghazi was a demonstration about a video that got out of hand. We have to believe that when Obama told us we could keep our insurance, doctor and hospital if we wanted to he was telling the truth. And the press covered up the Obama scandals like a dog burying a bone.

But I’m supposed to fear rich people. Well there’s one rich person I fear and he’s currently President. Not because he’s rich but because he, or an underling, can cause the entire power of the government – IRS, DOJ, EPA, and all the rest of the government’s alphabet agencies to come down on me and bury me. Even if I’m as innocent as a lamb, he has the power to crush me with process. Forget about the rich, keep an eye on those who hold political power. Fear the politician, not the plutocrat.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Would that be the same Janet Reno who had no problems with ordering the incineration of dozens of children in Texas?
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
To have less than you want, but more than you need, is the inevitable condition of sinful mankind.

Mark 10:17-27

[17] "And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?"
[18] "And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God."
[19] "Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother."
[20] "And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth."
[21] "Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me."
[22] "And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions."
[23] "And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!"
[24] "And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!"
[25] "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
[26] "And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?"
[27] "And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men [it is] impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible."

Our pastor suggested today that Jesus probably smiled when he spoke the words in that last paragraph. Jesus wasn't commanding all Christians to become ascetic monks, but to have their hearts focused on God and our concerns on others, not just on ourselves. Narcissists are not Christians. The world and it's things are just going to burn, i.e. come to ruin someday. Don't live life for these things.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
We have already lost the idea of a society where if not "classless" it is at least not a caste system. Social and economic mobility are now anathema to the Nomenklatura regardless of party. q.v.: The Leftist hatred for the concept of merit, and the Institutional Republican contempt, disgust, and hatred for those detestable low-life Conservatives that they are forced to deal with .... for a while longer.

Equality before the law has been slipping for decades, but now the very concept of an objective Law has been destroyed. Having the law on your side carries no weight if you are not part of the Nomenklatura; because it will be twisted or ignored by those who are. Yet those same Nomenklatura will demand that those below them follow every jot and tittle, and they claim the Law as their bulwark.


The sense of all being an "us", is the lubricant that allows a society to continue to exist with different groups with different priorities and beliefs. Contempt for people, for law, and for custom removes that lubricant, and the friction creates a social heat that can burst into flame far more readily than most people removed from that society can conceive.

We are no longer all an "us" in this country. We are at least two "us's" with countervailing "them's". And "them" are not our friends, nor do they have any of our interests at heart.

The use of the phrase“Don’t you know who I am?” is an unrecognized indicator to all that the lubricant of Law and custom has and is leaking away. And that the speaker does not recognize it, nor that every time it is used his protection by the Law and custom is getting weaker and weaker. Someday the speaker, and all his fellows, will come to the sudden realization that they are not protected at all, that the correlation of forces has always been against them in the absence of that protection.

The 1770 Boston Massacre started as a snowball fight. And it ended with the King's men killing 5 civilians. In the scales of empire, 5 civilian deaths weighed nothing. The soldiers were even protected by the Law; 6 being acquitted and two convicted of manslaughter but given very minor sentences instead of death. The Law operated, arguably correctly. But it was a turning point in the view of the subjects.

When the King's men tried to take a stroll in the countryside outside Boston in the spring of 1775; they found that the King's Law had become Lex Talionus. And the King's supporters found that their claws were fewer and weaker, and of no avail to protect them.

Events, and news of them, move a lot faster than in the 1700's. As do the reactions to those events. Pebbles can start an avalanche.

Subotai Bahadur
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Janet Reno is notorious for prosecutorial overreach, particularly with the Branch Davidians and Elian Gonzalez. No even the New York Times editorial board (!!!) is concerned about Rampant Prosecutorial Misconduct http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/opinion/sunday/rampant-prosecutorial-misconduct.html?hp&rref=opinion&_r=1

That may be a pre-emptive effort in advance of a projected impeachment of Eric Holder (where the prosecution would be the House of Representatives). but it highlights a real problem.

FREE KURT MIX

Just look at the latest on this front. Mix's lawyers have been making the judge, prosecutors and the court look corrupt.

http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2014/01/judge_orders_lawyers_in_bp_eng.html#incart_river

Did the prosecution try to tamper with a potentially hung jury by engaging in feeding Juror A information in the elevator that the judge had already excluded from the testimony? Jury tampering is a CRIME.

It fits the pattern

http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2013/12/judge_rejects_request_for_mist.html#incart_river

Mix attorney Joan McPhee, in an afternoon hearing, argued that federal prosecutor Jennifer Saulino went too far in mentioning the possibility of the hand-written notes and the copying of the documents.

McPhee also said Saulino stepped over the line from prosecutor to witness when she reminded Arabie of conversations she had had with him about the documents. McPhee said Saulino should be disqualified from the case and should be subject to being called as a witness.

Saulino said she was merely getting Arabie to clarify his testimony. She also said the testimony about the documents was relevant because a deleted voice mail dealt with the documents.

Duval said Saulino "may have been on the precipice" but did nothing to warrant removal.

He said the testimony about copying documents was not relevant to the case and jurors would be told to disregard it.


The NYT is right, policing the lawyers IS the judge's responsibility and Judge Duval is failing in his responsibilities.

Now another former prosecutor, Chris Christie, is on the hot seat.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
My brother has pointed out that the assault on the Branch Davidian compound, and the terrible cost in lives of the occupants, served to cover William Jefferson Clinton's quiet announcement of the mass replacement of 93 federal prosecutors at a stroke (Yes, ninety three.) Former assistant prosecuting attorney Jerry Sanford had the considerable brass to castigate G.W.Bush for firing EIGHT federal prosecutors while acknowledging the 93 simultaneous replacements of Clinton.

The sheer duplicitous arrogance of the Left knows NO limits. They've NEVER HEARD of the concept "What's good for the goose..." They see no difficulty in completely different standards for themselves versus the constraints they want to impose on ANYONE who disagrees with them.

At this point after a half century or more of their Janus-like oversight of the alpha and omega of conflict, I should not still be surprised at their perfidy.

14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think Bruce Banner's "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry!" is a better line than, "Don't you know who I am?" For one thing it's a statement rather than a question, and any litigator knows not to ask a question if you don't know what the answer is going to be.

I don't think these maid cases are all the same, the Zoe Baird cases were back in those halcyon days of yore when it seemed to matter if federal nominees followed the letter of the law, Obambus has put an end to that hiring tax cheats to run Treasury, not to mention his own dubious record and his behaviors regarding Obamacare since. The foreigners and diplomats treating maids like slaves - just doesn't work here. Unless you're a Hollywood producer treating your minimum wage PAs that way, or, mmm, a President with a cigar, I guess. Anyway there are certain conventions that must be followed, and when not followed, prosecution follows instead.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
And then there was the Saudi "princess" charged with beating her maid in her Orlando home. She was allowed to leave the country.

During the LA Riots, two black men were seen via a TV helicopter beating the crap out of a white truck drive, a Mr. Denny. The defense of one of them was that it was nothing personal, he was not hitting Mr. Denny but "the white race." He got off very lightly as a result of having copped a plea to a hate crime rather than an assault. It seems that George Zimmerman should have said he was attacking the black race in protest against their mistreatment of Hispanics. La Raza would have been right there detailing every time a black guy as much as sneezed in the direction of a Mexican.

Because the Left only sees Big Causes, in everything. The fate of the world depends on your not drinking grape juice or buying products made by Dow Chemical. The Personal is the Political - except when it's really personal and allows us a glimpse into some Favored Ones' true soul.


14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Praise be to Nero's Neptune
The Titanic sails at dawn
And everybody's shouting
"Which side are you on?"
And Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot
Fighting in the captain's tower
While calypso singers laugh at them
And fisherman hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea
Where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much
About Desolation Row"

Bob Dylan
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not to go all Althouse on you or anything, but my goodness Dylan is a genius! Or, an idiot savant at least.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Do you know who I am?" The question itself recognizes a fatal limit to fame. If you find yourself asking it, you have already lost big time. Verbal assertions of fame or authority border on the comical. Such actions are dis-connective and put you at the mercy of someone you already see as being below you.

I've seen airline counter people laugh in the face of self absorbed passengers when that line was pulled out. Build positive connections with people, and you are far more likely to make your flight.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Do you know who I am?"

"No, and I DON'T CARE" has got to be the most devastating response possible.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
"With the rich and mighty always a little patience."

Extremes of wealth can produce narcissism. So can other variations such as physical appearance. Sometimes the attractive child grows up kind and trusting because when they are an infant everyone smiles at them and sometimes the truly ugly harbor a deep pain inside. Sometimes it is the other way around and the beautiful assume everyone is insincere and easily manipulated while the homely learn to be gracious to elicit support. People learn to play the odds when dealing with others because there are costs to learning an individual's character and most such prejudices are based in a statistical reality. So people anticipate how the other will behave and when wrong are often distressed, even if the conduct encountered is better than expected.

Wealthy and powerful people in the West are usually accommodating when dealing with the weak. The CEO will hold the door for a poor woman or stop to help a minor customer. In our culture to bully the defenseless is a sign of weakness. In other cultures that may not be true.

The culture of poverty is that of grievance collecting and confrontation. The poor in spirit are constantly seeking to establish power over others by pointing out slights and errors or bullying to get a short term advantage. Government and retail are filled with these bitter people.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
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