Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Crash 4 - The Hudson Institute: "The Charitable Tax Deduction and the American Political Order"

I got back out on the panel circuit today and hit The Hudson Institute. This was the smoothest of my crashes so far but also the most comedically uninteresting. I really wanted to go to CAP's event, "Politics and Sexism: Don't Turn the Other Cheek," because, haha, sex.......and cheeks. Haha.


I've already crashed CAP though, so that wouldn't have been fair. And with the media FIRESTORM that's centered around this blog recently, I need to keep people guessing. Speaking of which, the recent DCist article about me has ignited quite the intense/bizarre/hilarious debate in the comment section that is pretty much the only thing anyone ever needs to read to understand DC. There's some real good stuff from commenters like Ethan Miller here:

The blog isn't written that well though and is mostly filled with comments about how Interns dress. 

Thanks for chiming in Ethan. Nailed it on content. As for the bad writing, next time I'm looking for some tips from a pale-faced internet hipster in a felt bowler hat and ironic curly mustache, I'll be sure to give you a shout:
Maybe one day we can grab a couple DC Braus at Looking Glass Lounge, discuss MLA citations, and lament how ska music never got a fair shake.

Other commenters went in a different direction, getting super butthurt about the state of entitlement culture, or non-profits....or something:

Non-profit leeches leech. It doesn't matter what education or income level. This is a demonstration of it. "Non-profit" is a tax dodge that allows lots of people to skim off of the gravy train of tax money that goes out to all the overeducated, overpaid strap-hangers that populate these greedhead organizations. He is just miffed that he got cut off the teat and goes back to what he knows: being a leech of donation money.

I just hope 'sgtted' is Ted Nugent. I also hope to successfully incorporate the word "greedhead" into my vocabulary and to use the words "miffed" and "teat" in the same sentence as often as possible.

Anyway, the panel:

Fantastic and plentiful food spread. The sandwich selection was on par with CAP, but accompanied by more diverse dessert and drink selections. They also had large bowls of Greek salad, which was an unusual and appreciated side:

You don't see a lot of vegetable options at these things usually. I'm no health nut, but I'm sure I don't need to tell any of you guys what happens when you dont eat your green vegetables but spend a lot of time sitting down. Do I? It's hemorrhoids guys. Hemorrhoids, AKA the trench foot of the panel crashing community. No bueno. Eat your greens.

Moving on.

In addition to the salad, another nice touch was that they posted large signs above each of the sandwich trays, labeling them by content.

This may seem unnecessary, but I can't tell you how many times I've watched the guy in front of me dismantle each sandwich and start digging and sniffing around to determine the exact ingredients. Here's a reenactment of what I mean:

Hudson's innovative labeling strategy renders this exploratory technique unnecessary however, mitigating any risk that the Sandwich Sniffers (TM) will confuse Albacore Tuna Salad for Alsation Ham and Cheese, and thus mitigating my risk of catching smallpox or Alzheimer's.

In other breaking news, if you google "Sandwich Sniffer," this is what comes up:

Internet FTW.

When I first walked into the room, I felt like I'd traveled forward in time to meet my future self. When  we first locked eyes, sandwich stacks in hand, it was exactly like when Joseph Gordon-Levitt first shares a meal with his future self in Looper:

The only notable difference was that my future self doesn't look like Bruce Willis. He looks like this:

I rolled in 20 minutes into the half-hour lunch period that took place before the panel began. Bruce had clearly already been there for a while, yet he still had four whole sandwiches left to go, stacked up on his  shelf stomach, um plate. My immediate reaction was to give him a nod of acknowledgment and admiration, assuming he was a fellow crasher. It was soon apparent that he was known by or affiliated with the Hudson crowd though. He got a lot of back slaps and appeared to be an expert in the field. Basically, he's the total package. Again, just like me.

My one and only complaint about this guy, was that he was one of the loudest mouth breathers I've ever encountered. Honestly sounded like I was sitting next to Tony Soprano in a Darth Vader mask. Unreal.

Firstly, as a Boston native I greatly appreciated the moment of silence held by the Hudson moderator prior to the beginning of the panel. Classy move.

Unfortunately, that silence also represented the most compelling and comprehensible moment of the entire panel, which consisted of four middle aged white guys and one older white guy talking about the charitable tax donation. They weren't debating whether the deduction is important or good though. Everyone agreed that it is. They  literally just debated the philosophical moral/political/economic origins of the deduction.

The only real highlight was the old guy's bow tie. Pretty sure it was tie-dye. My man definitely hit up a few Grateful Dead shows back in the day:

We should probably also take a moment to acknowledge the other guy's umbrella game. First of all, why do have an umbrella? There was literally not a cloud in the sky today pal. On the other hand, I can't really hate on a man for accessorizing outside of meteorological necessity when he's capable of pulling off the challenging wrist-hang maneuver. Let's also not forget that people have based their entire careers on the ability to wear dope suits and handle umbrellas. And by people, I mean Fonzworth Bentley. He is the only person that I mean:

The first presenter was the worst of the bunch. He's a tax lawyer, so he displayed exactly as much charisma and personality as you'd expect. He was accompanied by a collection of powerpoint slides, each of which was basically a tax policy version of those inspirational posters you see in hospitals:
They were basically just a series of cartoons or metaphorical images with phrases like "change the paradigm". Here's one showing a screw being driven into wood unsuccessfully by a hammer. Because screwdrivers. What does this have to do with charitable deductions? Not a fucking clue:

All I know is that if this image is truly analogous to the current taxation paradigm, well then, you might say...we're SCREWED guys! Boom. Count it.

Man I totally nailed that joke (!). Okay I'm done.

Here's another slide of his. This one marks the exact point at which I completely stopped paying attention to a single word anyone said.

The second panelist was a bit more dynamic to be fair, especially when he called the tax lawyer "willfully ignorant." Everyone was like:

Then he delivered a really predictable joke followed by a really cruel one. His name was Robert Reich, which, as I'm sure all you nerds know, was also the name of the Labor Secretary during the Clinton administration...Oh man. Two people. Same name. One was a Cabinet secretary. What are the chances?? Hold onto your hats. There's a horrific, cringe-worthy wonk joke in the making. I can't actually even remember how he delivered it because it was so predictable I started preemptively cringing. Unsurprisingly though, the crowd loved it.

Anyway, after jokingly apologizing to "everyone who expected a presentation from the Secretary Reich" (because they have the same name see), he said that he was "making it up" to everyone with a a gift under our seat. That snapped me right back to attention. I was amped up, freaking out thinking this was like when those housewives who go to see Oprah and she gives them all sorts of private jets and cruises. Best panel EVVVVEER!!!

Then, no joke, this is what was under everyone's seat:

Damn you non-secretary Robert Reich. You're a dick.

Follow me on Twitter: @PanelCrasher


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