Monday, February 27, 2012

Not Religion, Per Se, But What?

I hated chemistry in school.

I have this way of learning any new subject that is apparently incompatible with the way chemistry is taught (or at least incompatible with the way our chemistry professor was teaching it). In a nutshell, my stubborn mind refuses to move on to the next level of a complex idea until it believes it has fully (and I mean FULLY) grasped each concept along the way. It needs to fit in nicely with what else I know...with my world view...or my brain will simply shut down at that point.

I recall one day in class when, by insisting that her answers hadn't clarified some mundane issue for me, I frustrated our professor to the point that she insisted chemistry was one of those fields in which you sometimes just have to accept a point or two on faith until the "why" of it all becomes clearer to you (when you learn some latter concept that connects the dots for you). I couldn't do that. My mind would stomp its feet, like some spoiled brat in a supermarket who won't budge until Mommy puts back the Raisin Bran and buys Cap'n Crunch instead, and nothing else the professor said after that point would sink in at all. I needed to understand the previous concept.

I mention that as explanation for my response to a well-considered article by Alain de Botton [h/t A.S.], that recently appeared in The Wall Street Journal. In it, de Botton argues that a widely held, contemporary sense of loss of community may stem from a shift in our collective religious practices:

One of the losses that modern society feels most keenly is the loss of a sense of community. We tend to imagine that there once existed a degree of neighborliness that has been replaced by ruthless anonymity, by the pursuit of contact with one another primarily for individualistic ends: for financial gain, social advancement or romantic love.

In attempting to understand what has eroded our sense of community, historians have assigned an important role to the privatization of religious belief that occurred in Europe and the U.S. in the 19th century. They have suggested that we began to disregard our neighbors at around the same time that we ceased to honor our gods as a community.

He goes on to discuss how we might reclaim that sense of community "without having to build upon a religious foundation," and the piece is certainly worth a read, but I personally can't move past that last line until I work it out completely:
we began to disregard our neighbors at around the same time that we ceased to honor our gods as a community.
My problem with this concept is that it doesn't reconcile with something else I know.

My partner Murat, as many people know, grew up in in the capital of Kyrgyzstan when it was part of the Soviet Union (it was known as Frunze then, but is called Bishkek now). His family lived in a typical Soviet style complex with 20-some-odd apartments in the unit (there are several units surrounding a series of courtyards, meaning hundreds of families in all), and everyone knew everyone in each building and the surrounding buildings.

"I miss the babushkas who'd look out for everyone. Especially this one German babushka," he'll recount on occasion. "She had keys to our apartment and if any of our relatives asked to be let in while we were away she would give them a serious look up and down before deciding."

The importance of that memory is threefold with regards to why I can't move past de Botton's statement.

First, it underscores an acknowledged and strong community order or structure. The "babushka" as community busybody, but one that could be trusted to look after your best interests. One empowered without any state authority.

Second is the notion that community was in some regards more important than even family (or at least distant relatives). The neighbor had keys (apparently to many of the apartments), but the distant relatives did not.

Finally, it is no small matter that this particular babushka was German. Murat recalls a near complete absence of racial or ethnic tension in his community during the Soviet Union times. He reports that everyone got along with everyone: Russians, Uzbeks, Germans, Kyrgyz, you name it. Their background wasn't how they were judged...how they treated their neighbors was.

Ethnic and racial tensions came roaring back with the collapse, however.
And that's perhaps a big part of why Murat misses that tight-knit sense of community where he lived and mentions it often, as one does a lost loved one. Just as de Botton notes, many of us seem to long for it as well.

What held that multicultural community together in Soviet-era Kyrgyzstan, however, was something other than religion, obviously. In fact, it was with the collapse of the Soviet Union, which saw a resurgence of religion through Russia and Central Asia, that this sense of community eroded (and quickly). Yes, the economic instability (and resulting crime) that came with the collapse greatly contributed to people pulling back from "the other," but religion had never been the glue while their communities were strong.

Which leaves me wondering, what that glue is. I do believe de Botton has a point, in that this glue exists within communities where religion is less private and more communal, but it's not religion, per se, that creates or sustains the bond. It's something else.

In my more cynical moments, I suspect it might be a common enemy. Whether that enemy be Satan or heathens or the "rotten West" (or, even the state [i.e., KGB]), it may not matter. So long as it's clear to everyone that something out there wants to hurt them all, they instinctively know to band together in self-defense.

Consider this an open thread on what hold communities together and what leads them to fall apart.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Online Art Ventures: The Good, the Bad, and the Promising

While there are seemingly innumerable Web sites popping up and claiming to cater to the art world — which we as the art media, at least, embrace immediately because we like things that are young, cool, and aesthetically pleasing (as most of these sites are) — few of these new ventures have actually established a real business. What, if anything, will come of art's current love affair with e-commerce remains to be seen.
I wouldn't call it a "love affair" as much as an "I don't want to be the last one to sign up for the next big thing, and well, let's face it, with the economy at best still sputtering along, I'm willing to try anything, affair."

Personally, I'm more than a little interested in the potential of an online presence to help in the marketing of an art gallery...the potential to reach a wider audience seems significant enough for a little experimentation. And, I've had the opportunity to try out and/or at least discuss the business models with the people behind most of these online fine art commerce websites over the past few years. In doing so, though, I've noticed a few trends (what, in my less charitable moments, I might call "flaws") in their collective thinking. I'd like to share my thoughts about those "trends" here with an eye toward perhaps, again, expanding a dialog that might eventually erase much of the skepticism about the value of online efforts to expand a gallery's reach and help sell more art, as well as steer those pouring so much money and effort into building them toward a service galleries would be more willing to pay for.

Here are some of the trends in the current online business models I'm familiar with that I think are holding them back:

Trend one is to underestimate the value of the social aspect of buying art. From 2002 through 2007, the contemporary art world (press and galleries combined) went to great lengths to train the current generation of collectors to buy at those carnivals of conspicuous consumption: the art fairs. Holding back choice works to debut them at the fairs, helping prized collectors sneak into fairs early, celebrating big purchases at the fairs in articles that continue to emphasize dollar amounts over visuals...combined, these efforts helped make purchases at the fair more glamorous (where friends would exchange stories of their daily acquisitions over cocktails or dinner later), and in doing so elevated the social component of collecting. None of the online efforts so far has managed to replicate or accommodate what became "just part of the experience" (and a very enjoyable part) for many collectors.

Trend two is to overestimate the "intimidation factor." Many of the art e-commerce entrepreneurs I've spoken with begin with a vision of addressing the discomfort new collectors feel because of how cold and heartless the staff are at galleries. Insulted by the gallerina's haughty reluctance to warmly engage them, this class of people, anxious to spend their disposable income, say "phooey" to the art world and take up other pursuits instead. Or at least that's the mythology. Many of the incipient dotcom crusaders I've talked to have concluded that if they can only help would-be collectors browse and inquire about artwork anonymously online, building their confidence, then they would be more willing to make actual purchases, the art market would expand, and everyone would be happier.

The problem with this vision is that there's a much, much easier way for would-be collectors to gain confidence in the cold, heartless art world: just make your first purchase. Upon that very moment, the gallery's iceberg facade will immediately crumble, and upon each visit afterward the directors/ dealers will rush out to warmly greet you and shower you with advice on your next purchase, the gallerinas will offer you playful banter, if not expensive coffee, and you'll never feel more welcome or confident anywhere in your life. It's a much faster way toward building a significant and rewarding collection than unguided anonymous purchases.

The lesson for the online entrepreneurs is to understand that anonymity is NOT the key here. Helping to connect the collector with the dealer, facilitating that personal relationship, is the key. At least if you expect the galleries to embrace (read: pay for) your efforts.

Trend three is to waste a lot of your time, and that of the galleries you're counting on being clients, selling them your vision rather than (and this is Business 101) listening to their needs. No matter what approach you're taking, it will most likely involve many hours of the gallery staff's time, so it had better address what the gallery needs. I spend nearly every waking hour thinking about what my gallery needs. Believe me when I say you're not very likely to know better than I do what that is. So please spare me the "It's eBay meets Basel" type sales pitches. If I needed that, it would most likely exist already.

Trend four is to create a rigid information architecture and/or metadata tags and requirements such that all the data we've spent hours entering into our own system (or the half dozen other online systems we were talked into trying) are non-transferable, meaning each time we have to start from scratch and provide or enter the data the way YOU want it. I don't have the patience for that any more. Few of the efforts we've tried so far have paid us anything, let alone paid us back for the hours we've spent customizing our images and data to have a presence on them.

To really take advantage of the digital age, the art industry needs a standard data format (like ONIX provides for the publishing industry) so that our data is sharable across platforms. The same information we enter for our website should, with the push of a button, be able to populate the online listings we use, the art fair applications we send, the online e-commerce sites we participate in, etc. etc. etc. The online effort that manages to invent/enforce that standard will be the one I'm willing to pay for.

Having said all that, I'm very happy to note that Moving Image has teamed up with what I consider the most responsive (especially in terms of the trends I've noted above) new online platform devoted to partnering with the gallery world to bring contemporary art to a wider audience.

Gallerist.com is still in their beta mode, but I can't tell you how impressed I have been with their team. I've had a good look at their interface, discussed what I need with their development team (who have the most "can do" attitude I've ever seen), and never once suspected that they were in over their heads (as I have frequently with other initiatives) or were not listening to my feedback. Their promises are delivered on in astonishingly respectful time-frames, and they are perceptive in a way that saves me time. In short, they're a dream.

Gallerist will be launching a unique website to promote the artists exhibiting at Moving Image on March 4th. It has innovations in it that I'm almost giddy about, and to be perfectly frank, it represents in my opinion perhaps the best hope yet for an online collaboration that will work well for galleries.

Here's a visualization for the home page.


Like other online joint efforts with fairs, ours will provide viewing opportunities before, during, and after Moving Image, expanding its reach (which, after all the hard work that goes into it, seems only right to me :-). Unlike some other joint efforts with fairs, though, there's been no confusing contracts to sign or what looks like long-term commitments, making Gallerist a site willing to prove itself first, which further builds my confidence in them.

I'll be back to announce the URL on the 4th. Please check it out...and be frank in your assessment (they can handle it).

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Starting From Scratch

I got an email the other day from the wife of an artist who at one time (and, in her words, "without any effort") had a network of galleries across Europe and Australia up through 2006. These galleries reportedly sold out the husband's shows.

The email continues to note, though, that after 2006, the husband moved to the country and stopped working with galleries (but rather sold his work directly to collectors from his home until the economic crash in 2008). She doesn't specify whether this arrangement (i.e., cutting out the galleries from sales) was his idea or the galleries' idea, but the letter suggests it was his idea.

Her email continues,
He has not sold a painting in the last two years. Now many of the galleries he worked with have closed or changed hands or the people he knew have died or retired. He is in the position of having to establish himself all over again in a very different market. He paints in a quite life of near solitude and has no skills to sell himself and although I know nothing about how to help him I am desperate to help him.
I offered the wife a suggestion for a gallery on where I think her husband's work fits, and I do wish them both all the best, but I think their story raises two important issues as well.

The first issue (my being an art dealer, of course) centers on wondering about the details of why he stopped working with his galleries to sell directly to collectors himself. I could sense the urgency of the request and didn't want to add to the wife's desperation, so I didn't pry, but I surmised from her account that it was a conscious decision on her husband's part to cut out the "middle man." Assuming that to be the case, I have to admit to not having as much sympathy as I might had the galleries dropped him. If indeed he chose, while the market was hot, to develop a direct relationship with his collectors and cut out his galleries, that reveals a shortsightedness about the always potential pitfalls in the arc of any artist's career and market.

At the very least, it would have made sense in this case for him to keep in contact with those galleries (possibly offering them some work from time to time). His being in the "position of having to establish himself all over again in a very different market" is directly related to this failure.

The second issue relates to another point the wife raises in her email, in retelling how she had organized an exhibition of his work on her own : "There were many requests to buy the [artwork] but the price was too high." I won't reveal all the details that led to this statement (in the interest of protecting the artist's privacy), but the situation as I understand it is that, when he had a network of galleries, the artist's prices had reached a level that he's reluctant to reduce at this point. And if I had purchased his work at its peak "gallery price," I would appreciate that he wasn't undermining the value of the work I owned.

Still, what I feel this highlights (and what seasoned collectors understand very well) is that the "gallery price" of artwork includes more than just the object the collector takes home. It includes the service and commitment to working to protect the value of the artwork (something very much in the collector's interest) that the gallery provides. It includes having someone working to prevent having the artist's support network fade away. Finally, it includes having someone whose job it is to respond to the market as it shifts and steer the artist's career through those changes.

Again, the wife noted "He is in the position of having to establish himself all over again in a very different market."

I can imagine, when the market's hot and an artist can calculate that they have enough collectors to live off direct, from-the-studio sales, that it's tempting to go it alone. It's a good idea, though, should you choose that path, to keep in mind that no market stays hot forever and networks are hard-earned support systems it makes a lot of sense to keep intact. Again, that can be as easy as offering your former galleries a few works from time to time.

Cutting them off altogether, as it did with this artist, can leave you starting from scratch just at the time in your life where you'd rather do just about anything other than sending cold calls submissions to a new crop of galleries.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Moving Image New York 2012 : Artists and Participating Galleries and Non-Profit Institutions

Moving Image, the contemporary video art fair, is very pleased to announce the artists and participating galleries and non-profit institutions in our 2012 New York edition. Returning to the Waterfront Tunnel event space, March 8-11, 2012, with an international selection of 30 single-channel videos and installations from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia, and North America, Moving Image has been conceived to offer a viewing experience with the excitement and vitality of a fair, while allowing moving-image-based artworks to be understood and appreciated on their own terms.


Highlighting the program are works by historically influential artists, including legendary American experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs (presented by Electronic Arts Intermix, New York); Austrian Post-war feminist icon VALIE EXPORT (presented by Charim Gallery, Vienna, Austria); and Zhang Peili, "the Father of Chinese video art" (presented by Saamlung, Hong Kong, China).

New works in the program by noted emerging artists include videos by Kate Gilmore (presented by Braverman Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel) and Alex Prager (presented by Yancey Richardson, New York, NY). Even newer names are represented by Brooklyn's Interstate Projects, presenting work by Jesse McLean, and Los Angeles' The Company, presenting works by Jesse Fleming and Alexa Gerrity. We are also very excited to present several large-scale installations, including works by Josh Azzerella (presented by DCKT, New York), Daniel Phillips (presented by DODGEgallery, New York, NY); and Janet Biggs (presented by Winkleman Gallery, New York).


For updates on exhibitors and our special panel discussion programming information, please visit the Moving Image website www.moving-image.info.


MOVING IMAGE NEW YORK 2012

Participating Artists / Presented by galleries and non-profit institutions
(as of February 13, 2012)


AES+F / Anna Schwartz Gallery (Melbourne / Sydney, Australia)

Sama Alshaibi / Lawrie Shabibi (Duabi, UAE)

Josh Azzarella / DCKT Contemporary (New York)

Janet Biggs / Winkleman Gallery (New York, NY)

Eelco Brand / [DAM] Berlin | Cologne (Berlin, Germany)

Josef Dabernig / Andreas Huber (Vienna, Austria)

Song Dong & Yin Xiuzhen / Chambers Fine Art (New York, NY)

Valie Export / Charim Gallery (Vienna, Austria)

Jesse Fleming / The Company (Los Angeles, CA)

Alexa Gerrity / The Company (Los Angeles, CA)

Kate Gilmore / Braverman Gallery (Tel Aviv, Israel)

Christopher K. Ho / Winkleman Gallery (New York, NY)

Susanne Hofer / Christinger De Mayo (Zurich, Switzerland)

Ken Jacobs / Electronic Arts Intermix (New York, NY)

Yael Kanarek / bitforms gallery (New York, NY)

Kelly Kleinschrodt / Carter & Citizen (Los Angeles, CA)

Mary Lucier / Lennon Weinberg (New York, NY)

Jesse McLean / Interstate Projects (Brooklyn, NY)

Jaakko Pallasvuo / Future Gallery (Berlin, Germany)

Zhang Peili / Saamlung (Hong Kong)

Jenny Perlin / Galerie M+R Fricke (Berlin, Germany)

Daniel Phillips / DODGEgallery (New York, NY)

Alex Prager / Yancey Richardson Gallery (New York, NY)

Hunter Reynolds / P.P.O.W Gallery (New York, NY)

Miguel Angel Rojas / Sicardi Gallery (Houston, TX)

Mariateresa Sartori / Galleria Michela Rizzo (Venice, Italy)

Jaan Toomik / Temnikova & Kasela Gallery (Tallinn, Estonia)

Stafanos Tsivopoulos / prometeogallery di Ida Pisani (Milan, Italy)

Martha Wilson / P.P.O.W Gallery (New York, NY)

Marina Zurkow / bitforms gallery (New York, NY)



Moving Image
March 8-11, 2012

Waterfront New York Tunnel
269 11th Avenue
Between 27th and 28th Streets
New York, NY 10001




Hours
Thursday - Saturday, March 8-10, 2012: 11 am - 8 pm
Sunday, March 11, 2012: 11 am - 4 pm


Opening Reception: Sponsored by Bacardi and 42Below Vodka, Thursday, March 8, 6-8 pm


__________________________________________________

ARMORY FILM

Moving Image is delighted to announce a unique partnership with New York City’s premier contemporary art fair, The Armory Show. Moving Image will curate the inaugural edition of ‘Armory Film,’ a series featuring an international selection of leading contemporary video and experimental films.


Screenings will take place during the course of the fair and will be shown in the dedicated Media Lounge on Pier 94. Please check www.thearmoryshow.com for details in the coming weeks.


Free Shuttle Buses run from main entrance of The Armory Show to the main entrance of Moving Image throughout the fair.


__________________________________________________


Moving Image's New York 2012 Curatorial Advisory Committee

  • Viktor Misiano, Independent Curator and Critic, Chief-Editor, Moscow Art Magazine (Moscow/Ceglie-Messapica, Italy)
  • Elizabeth Neilson, Director, Zabludowicz Collection (London)
  • Berta Sichel, Curator-at-large at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, independent curator and art writer (Madrid/Berlin)
  • Stephanie Roach, Director, The FLAG Art Foundation (New York)
  • Dr. Stephan Urbaschek, Independent Curator (Munich)

Moving Image Team

Co-Founder, Murat Orozobekov

Co-Founder, Edward Winkleman

Director, Janet Phelps

Managing Director, Jay Grimm



Media Partners and Sponsors

  • Ogilvy Art
  • Ogilvy Digital Lab
  • Art in America
  • Safiniart
  • Electronic Arts Intermix
  • The Art Newspaper
  • Artnet
  • The James Hotel New York
  • Encanto Vineyards
  • Hotel Americano Chelsea New York
  • Dazian Creative Fabric Environments
  • 42Below Vodka
  • FAD Website
  • Gallerist.com

Moving Image

March 8-11, 2012


Waterfront New York Tunnel

261 11th Avenue (between 27th and 28th Streets)

New York, NY 10001

T: (1) 212.643.3152

E: contact@moving-image.info

www.moving-image.info

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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Better Red than Misinformed

Back in 2010, Yevgeniy Fiks led a guerrilla, unsanctioned "Communist Tour of MoMA" with the stated purpose of connecting "the history of Modern Art to history of the 20th century Communist movement." Barry Hoggard and James Wagner documented the clandestine tour on their blogs.

The tour was the sort of open-minded, honest look at the wider sociopolitical landscape of 20th Century art history that was hard to imagine taking place in MoMA not all that long ago:
During the McCarthy Era, Modern Art became the subject of the media and the government’s anti-communist witch-hunt. In his 1949 speech, Michigan U.S. Congressman George A. Dondero called Modern Art subversive, communistic and a weapon in the hands of the Communist conspiracy and the Soviet Union. He named the Museum of Modern Art a site of Communist infiltration. In response to these allegations, MoMA’s curator Alfred H. Barr, Jr. discursively separated artists from their artworks by stating that, “We (MoMA) are not exhibiting the artists, but their works. And the artist’s political believes are personal matters, distinct from his work, which should be judged on its merits.”
But in 2012, when the Soviet Union is a fading memory and even China is arguably more Capitalist in many ways than most of the rest of the world, such reluctance to recognize that the ideas behind Communism were viewed as worthy of consideration (and not simply innately "evil") by many of the great minds of the 20th century, including artists, seems to have faded.

In other words, it seems the historical truth is safe, now that we won the Cold War.

Hence, we are very pleased to announce that this time, it's official!

Next Wednesday, Yevgeniy is leading another tour, with MoMA's blessing:

Lectures & Gallery Talks | Adult Programs
Communist Tour of MoMA

Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 6:00 p.m.

In conjunction with the exhibition Diego Rivera: Murals for The Museum of Modern Art, Artist Yevgeniy Fiks leads a performative tour of the exhibition Diego Rivera: Murals for The Museum of Modern Art and other artworks in the Museum’s collection as part of a discussion of modern artists’ leftist politics.

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Carolina Miranda sets the historical context and connects the dots between Yevgeniy's performance and the Rivera exhibition in the current issue of ArtNEWS (pdf file).

Hope to see you there!

Photo by Stamatina Gregory.

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Thursday, February 02, 2012

"Dude I hate poor people"

Ian Parker has a riveting article in the current issue of The New Yorker (seriously, is there any pub on this earth better than this magazine?) about Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers freshman who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate had cyber-spied on him and tweeted "I saw him making out with a dude. Yay." The article could be a textbook example of how poorly informed we generally are about real world events, and yet how we rarely let that stop us from projecting all our fears and anger onto people unfortunate enough to get caught in the public limelight.

None of which is to say the roommate doesn't have some accounting to do for his spying, mind you. Just that the public hatred directed at him was clearly misdirected. As his trial approaches, the best anyone can say about how justice should be meted out here was perhaps best summarized as such:
Paula Dow, then New Jersey’s Attorney General, said, “Sometimes the laws don’t always adequately address the situation. That may come to pass here.”
What Parker manages to do in his article is flesh out the personalities and motivations of both roommates and make you like and dislike them both more than possible with the information about them that came out on the heels of the tragedy. I have a very hard time feeling bad for the roommate who spied, but it's really not clear at all that his actions were directly responsible for Clementi's suicide. What is clear is that the roommate, Dharun Ravi, was not a monster, but more or less an average teenager with an obnoxious streak and very poor judgement about other people's rights to privacy.

More than that, though (and the central brilliance of Parker's article), is how it exposes so much about a culture with a moral compass that's completely on the fritz. There's a slightly Orton-esque theme running throughout the piece, confirming that the harder we work to conceal our meaning, the more our words generally reveal our true selves. More than that, though, the behind the scene chats of both roommates reveal young adults with very little certitude about right or wrong.
Take for example Ravi's response to perceiving that his new roommate wasn't wealthy:
Once Ravi understood that he would be living with Clementi, not Picone, he felt that he knew these essential facts: his roommate was gay, profoundly uncool, and not well off. If the first attribute presented both a complication and a happy chance to gossip, the second and third were perceived as failings. “I was fucking hoping for someone with a gmail but no,” Ravi wrote to Tam. Clementi’s Yahoo e-mail address symbolized a grim, dorky world, half seen, of fish tanks and violins. Ravi’s I.M.s about Tyler’s presumed poverty were far more blunt than those about sexual orientation. At one point during his exchanges with Tam that weekend, Ravi wrote, “Dude I hate poor people.”
Side note: can't let it pass without mentioning that Ravi is passing judgement on Clementi's "coolness" even though he himself played hours of Ultimate Frisbee and logged an astonishing number of tweets. Clearly, coolness is relative.

But compassion isn't.


Disdain for the poor is perhaps the single clearest indication of a dangerous degree of narcissism in my opinion. Anyone who "hates" the poor is clearly too dim to understand "there, but for the grace of God, go I" and that makes them a threat to everyone else.

Ambivalence about the poor is no better. While it's only fair to assume his words didn't come out as intended, Mitt Romney's recent declaration that "I’m not concerned about the very poor," is perhaps another Ortonesque uttering. Despite himself, his words revealed the true Mitt. I know that sounds harsh, but given his track record of consistently putting profits over the needs of working class people, while heading Bain, I'll stand behind that assessment until prove otherwise (and his easy ability to donate millions to charities, mostly within his Church, doesn't exactly make him Mother Teresa in my book).

Sincere concern for the very poor is one of the hallmarks of most major religions, including Romney's (although, granted, the LDS church
only added “to care for the poor and needy” to its longstanding “threefold mission,” in 2009...maybe Mitt missed that memo). His stated ambivalence (suggesting the safety net we know his party is hellbent on dismantling frees him from needing to focus on their plight) must rank among the most cynical and uncharitable of statements any politician running for President has ever made.

Our national moral compass needs a good whack.

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