Thursday, April 11, 2013

Crash 3 - American Enterprise Institute: “Lower Pay: Are Race and Gender to Blame?”

After a week off, I returned to DC today even poorer and less able to feed myself than before. I also returned apparently having totally lost my knack for sneakiness. First stop was the American Enterprise Institute based on a Twitter tip about their gourmet lunch buffets. My internet friend wasn’t wrong, but what he failed to tell me was that the AEI interns are ON. POINT, and I got completely hosed by this intern. But I didn’t get into the Panel Crashing/Blogging game just to give up in the face of one overeager intern. I adapt. I overcome. I make fun of that intern on the internet anyway.

Interns and Food:
When I first rolled into AEI there were three female interns sitting behind a large front desk to check people in. Personally, I enjoyed the irony of having three unpaid women welcoming me to a panel centered around the thesis that gender has nothing to do with the wage gap. Here they are:

Nevermind, that’s actually a shot of Muammar Gaddafi’s female bodyguards. I couldn’t actually get a picture of the AEInterns™. They were standing on a raised surface, which made my “pretend to be texting but actually be taking pictures” strategy difficult. Then this old dude stepped in front of me, so all I got was this piece of crap photo:

Fortunately, this captured the only intern you need to know about, the ginger. Remember her, because before I even had time to take a long-distance pic of her and her posse, she'd caught me red handed. She was clever and waited until I went in for the food, which, by the way blew every other lunch panel out of the water. They had a full hot bar buffet with a real nice shrimp gumbo situation, grilled chicken breasts, rice pilaf, and a delightful little spring salad! This was served with real ceramic plates and silverware. Nothing conservative about that kind of presentation folks am I right??

What I now realize however, is that this food spread was a trap. I was so excited that I started just cockily taking pictures of the buffet like a weirdo, calling attention to myself and not paying attention to my surroundings. I forgot crasher rule number 46: Head on a swivel. The result? I failed to see our ginger friend lurking in the background waiting for me to make my move. Only afterwards did I notice her in the picture above, arms crossed, wearing pink to seem unthreatening but tracking my every move. I hate her, but dammit do I respect her. Don't see what I mean? ENHANCE!!

Within SECONDS, the she was on me like condescending, self-important white on my panel crashing rice : “Sir, are you taking pictures of our food?” What I should have said was “Uh, ya, ever heard of Instagram? This rice pilaf will look totally dope once I throw a Valencia filter on there.” Then I could've just emailed her this sick insta and settled the whole thing:
OMG the colors!

But she caught me totally off guard, so instead I just started shaking, sweating, and sputtering nonsense about my affiliation and intentions. She had me completely cornered against the buffet table, as you can see in this picture:

Okay fine that’s a picture of the Stormtroopers capturing Han Solo and Princess Leia in Star Wars. But it was basically like that. The truth is that I have no pictures, because she sternly informed me that AEI has a strict no picture policy at their events.That seems like total bullshit, because they were webcasting it, but I was so intimidated that I had no choice but to comply. Then I started connecting the dots. Why am I doing exactly as this girl tells me? Who is she? What do I know about her?

Well first, she's a ginger:

Second, she crosses her arms in a very intimidating manner:

And third, she's extremely good at interrogating people and catching them doing something they don't want to be caught for....


That's right. The woman who took down Osama bin Laden can now add The Panel Crasher to her list of victims. She is a true American hero.

But seriously, if I were this intern I would just erase the rest of my resume and put “Summer 2013: Caught the Panel Crasher.” Bang, done. Hired. Lifetime think tank employment.


Once the interns had me on missile lock though, I was screwed. Maya sent another intern to sit behind me, so I couldn't take a single pictures. Thankfully, the internet exists.

The panel was centered around a new book about why race and gender are not to blame for wage disparities. The book was written by this woman and her husband, but she was the only one of them on the panel:

She didn't say it, but she has to be related to Dr. Ruth, that old sex therapist who had that call-in show "Good Sex" back in the day. Don't know what I mean? Do yourself a favor and watch this video of her explaining to 70-year old caller Henry how to have better erections:

Once you're done throwing up, tell me they aren't related:

Dr. Ruth's best moment on the panel was when she put up a powerpoint presentation that was on her laptop. The laptop faced her, but was connected and displayed on the screens around her for the audience to see. In a classic old lady move, which no one had the heart to call her on, she kept saying things like "now you see here on this graph," and then pointing to her laptop screen rather than the TV screens, as if that could be seen the audience...because, you know, computers.

The second panelist was a guy named Mike Myers. Yes, finding a picture of Mike Myers on the internet was difficult, thank you:
Now this Mike Myers is not a serial killer or a terrible comedian, but he is most certainly the only black guy who thinks that race and discrimination have literally nothing to do with wage disparities. More importantly though, at one point he said the phrase "pusillanimous posturing." No clue what he meant, but it was hilarious.

Then he yelled out, "The rent is too damn high!!!!"

Anyway, the best panelist was this gentleman, Harry Holzer:
Now Harry had the unenviable job of being the liberal voice on the panel, arguing that racism and sexism remain significant barriers to wage equality. How did he do this? Well after a few platitudes to Dr. Ruth he proceeded to tear. her. book. to. shreds. Literally: page-by-page, he went through and dressed down her claims and conclusions, making it rain with citations of studies, experiments, reports, and anecdotes. It was such a barrage of facts and figures that he could of been totally making it up as he went along. No idea if there was any validity to what he was saying. Dr. Ruth had been soft-spoken, frail, and polite in her presentation, but this dude went the total other direction with it, blasting her loudly and ceaselessly. I literally was waiting for him to  yell “dammit woman you ARE discriminated against, and you’ll like it. Get me a sandwich! SEE!!!”

Well the last panelist, a woman named Diana, did NOT like Harry's presentation. So what did she do to prove that sexism was dead? Make her own articulate rebuttal? Nope. She called on Dr. Ruth's HUSBAND, who had co-written the book and was in the audience, to take the mic and defend Dr. Ruth by peppering Harry with questions. THEN, when Harry went to answer the questions, she grabbed the mic back from him and said, “Um, Harry, I gave my time to Dave, not you okay,” and proceeded with her presentation. In short, Harry owned Dr. Ruth, but then Diana and Mr. Ruth owned him even harder.

The most owned person at the panel however, was me. Hats off to the AEI ladies. I may have been the Jazzy Jeff to your Phil Banks this time.....
But I'll be back, and you will be crashed. Oh yes, you will be crashed.  

Follow me on Twitter @PanelCrasher


  1. Dear Panel Crasher,

    Those weren't interns, they were staffers. Your secret is out.

    Your commentary is hilarious, FWIW.

    1. Well hats off either way! I guess I've made my first black list then. Big moment for me. Thanks for the complement. Please keep reading, even if you wont let me into your events.

    2. Hey PC—I'm a writer with the New Republic. I was wondering if you could get in touch.

  2. Well hats off either way! I guess I've made my first black list then. Big moment for me. Thanks for the complement. Please keep reading, even if you wont let me into your events.

  3. This blog is amazing. It makes me a little less ashamed of the fact that I'm a poor grad student in DC who will metro to the ends of the earth for a free meal. Bravo!

  4. This is hilarious! So clever! Also, wise to watch out for us Gingers, we are a meticulous bunch.

  5. OMG, this is the best journalism in Washington! The young 'uns (you give your age away by calling everyone and his brother "old.") are often the funniest. Keep it up and thank you! But really, I think you're doing good because isn't the aim to eat? And you do eat, and well, it seems. So what if you can't get a photo. Congrats on a good meal.

  6. Dude: I'm given to understand that the Heritage Foundation has some kind of meal type event like every. damn. day. at their Mass Ave NE quarters. You're welcome.

  7. You are like a think tank Robbin Hood, who takes from the pedantic... and gives the internet brilliance. You are an inspiration to us all Sir Panel Crasher! I'll see you around, I'm sure (get a more discreet camera though).

  8. OMG!! This is brilliant!!! Can you please share for all the fellow broke ass and hungry ones with no jobs, HOW do you find these free food panels and events and what do you say to get in?! Do you give a fake name and position? Thank you!

  9. What an entertaining read. And expect more traffic to come your way now that you've been linked by the Marginal Revolution blog. Am sending a link of your blog, to a sibling who will be doing graduate studies in DC soon. . .

    Good job!

  10. I signed up for an AEI nighttime event and was even more impressed with the food, the booze, and the legion of young female interns dressed right out of Ann Taylor. Sure, the talk with BS unscientific drivel (race, despite crazy high correlations, has NOTHING to do with economic status) but damn it was fun.

  11. Mess with the ginger, get the horns!

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