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Archive for October 2013

Oh, SNAP!

Posted on: October 22, 2013

The recent malfunction of the EBT system (food stamps) sparked some discussion among my friends and associates. It occurred when I expressed dismay that many of the comments on Twitter mocking the people who would now not get “free food” were from individuals with lots of “Christian” stuff on their profiles. I was trying to square that with all of their other exhortations to be their brother’s keeper and What Would Jesus Do. It wasn’t any sense that they disagreed with a program that feeds hungry kids that struck me; it was the seeming glee with which they did it. Which got me to wondering why we have no trouble offering enormous tax breaks and financial aid to corporations, to freaking baseball and football teams who might build a stadium, to other nations, to BANKS!! But god forbid we offer financial assistance to actual living, breathing human people who might be poorer than us

I think it is because those other recipients of our national welfare system can somehow show a return on investment, which somehow makes them worthy. So the ball club will hire 200 people and offer construction jobs. The banks will perhaps not plunge us into a worldwide depression. The other nations will have our backs in volatile regions of the world and perhaps not send anyone to bomb us here. I get it.

But poor people?! Poor people?! Oh, hell no! Not unless they are the Right Kind of Poor Person. Because here in America we like our Poors to be Bob Cratchit Poors. The kind that are noble, decent, living hand to mouth–and not at all to be mistaken for us. We require our poor people to live in Dickensian squalor in order for us to find them worthy of our help. We can’t countenance them having (gasp!) a car or (oh noes!!!) a cell phone, because that means that they are trying to be like us–only, we PAY OUR OWN WAY. Right? Because, of course, if a person getting food assistance has a car or a cell phone, they are obviously gaming the system and cheating us all. And why do those poor kids have candy bars?! Hey kid, you are POOR. You do NOT get candy! MY KIDS get candy because I WORK for that candy. YOU do NOT get candy because you need to know your place.

Brother, please.

SNAP is not welfare. It is a nutrition assistance program for low-income, disabled and elderly individuals. Even if you have seen–as you and every FOX News viewer swears you have–families with 12 kids pushing their shopping carts full of cigarettes and beer up to the cashier, they aren’t–they cannot be–paying for those items with the EBT card. The EBT card does not pay for those items, nor would the store be able to allow it.

85% of all SNAP recipients live well under the poverty level of $22,350 for a family of four. The majority of people using SNAP are elderly, disabled, currently employed at low-wage jobs or temporarily unemployed. They are not hordes of illegal immigrants coming here to steal the Velveeta out of YOUR child’s mouth. Not even if your grandma’s email chain letter said so.
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The level of fraud and abuse of SNAP is extremely low. Overpayments last year were at 3%, a good deal of which was due to clerical errors rather than fraud; 1/5 of which was due to UNDERpayments. Now, you can go research other forms of assistance we might give to Americans in need and report back on them, but the Congressional Budget Office’s numbers show SNAP to be one program that is rather efficiently run. Limits on those eligible are already tight. Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents have a 3-month limit for any three year period. Benefits are structured to provide incentive to work: for every extra dollar a recipient earns, they receive only 24-36 cents less rather than the full dollar, thereby not disincentivizing higher-paying employment.

My point being that we can have a rational discussion about entitlement programs in America. We can have a rational discussion about the efficacy and efficiency of said programs. We can have a rational discussion about any policy aimed at helping the poor. But we cannot have that discussion if one of us thinks it’s funny that kids won’t eat today. We cannot have that discussion if one of us thinks our religion is against feeding hungry people. Please show me this religion if you can find it. More importantly, and personally for me, we cannot have that discussion if one of us thinks we know everything there is to know about another human by what we see in a grocery store line.

People you probably cannot imagine ever having been on food stamps (cough cough) have been on food stamps. While one parent worked. And carted her three kids to the store. No doubt to the stares of people wondering why they have to pay for those three mouths to eat when that lady looks plenty able-bodied. And then getting into their late-model Subaru all pleased as punch to be defrauding the good people of America. Never once imagining they were driving home in a second-hand paid off car, to their disabled father, lying in a bed in the house they would surely lose if not for the fact of food stamps helping with the grocery bill.

So no. We cannot have that discussion until we both acknowledge that we know NOTHING about another person, another family, another fellow human in a grocery store. Except for the fact that even poor people deserve some respect, some privacy in their financial transactions–and hell, maybe even a candy bar.

jamieMagChallengeHello, Mr. Jamie Oliver. I recently noticed your “Jamie” magazine in a local indie bookstore. The subtitle of your little revista is “Making You A Better Cook.”

Oh, dear, sweet, lovely, misguided Jamie Oliver. There is no magazine in the history of our planet that can make me a better cook. I am–and I say this with absolutely no shame–the WORST COOK EVER to set foot in a kitchen. Why? Well, probably a natural god-given lack of talent. But also a very real lack of interest. I just do not give a shallot about cooking. I mean, I like the idea of sumptuous feasts served to jolly family and friends as together we enjoy the delightful repasts of celebration. I imagine every family holiday to be a culinary soft-focus combination of Norman Rockwell and Currier & Ives. I do. But somebody else needs to actually make that happen, because I surely cannot.

Case in point: The BabyDaddy (an amazing cook) subscribes to Cooks Illustrated. The latest issue cover mentioned a Chicken Stew, which sounds very Scottish and very Fall and very something I’d like to eat. I was all ready to try my hand at it, until I opened the magazine and—for the love of god!–this thing required actual cooking! Ain’t nobody got time for that. Upon recounting my horror at the actual level of work required to produce said stew, the BBDD asked me what I had been expecting the recipe to say. Well. I was thinking something along the lines of:

1. Purchase pre-cooked chicken
2. Open a jar of organic high-quality chicken stew sauce
3. Add any vegetables that happen to be in your fridge today
4. Heat and eat!

So you see from whence I come as regards cooking. So the notion that Mr. Jamie Oliver, by dint of his no-doubt excellent full-color periodical, will somehow make me a better cook is really rather hilarious.

Which means that IT IS ON, MISTER JAMIE OLIVER. I am going to attempt a recipe every week or so to see if I do indeed get “better.” My sense is that my first, or any, attempt at your not-very-delicious sounding grilled cucumber in almond cream is going to go about as south as we can all imagine. But regardless.

Challenge Accepted!

*Photos of various Food Atrocities to follow in subsequent posts

Link

Posted on: October 9, 2013

Workouts Are Apparently “Essential”

Click above to read the details on this:

Yes, people of America. We are shutting down the government out of concern for YOU and YOUR future. Fiscal responsibility is at the core of this shutdown.  It’s all about principles. And YOU.

We will provide more details as soon as we are finished our workouts in our STILL OPEN Members’ health club. You know, because our health is of utmost importance. Essential, even. So essential that YOU are paying for it. Just don’t ask me to pay for any aspect of YOUR health care. That would be socialist fiscal mismanagement.

LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS.

HardballTalk

Braves fan Paul Kaplan was quite upset that the Braves lost in the NLDS last night. So upset that he wrote his congressman about it.

I have to say, I never would have considered this, but if this logic applies in baseball, I may very well be willing to reassess how I feel about it when it comes to government.

source:

source:

(thanks to reader David L. for the heads up)

UPDATE: The Congressman responds!

View original post

In my house, when someone throws a tantrum we ignore it. We mock it. We absolutely NEVER give in to it. EVER. Because that teaches the tantrummer that her strategy works. Right? Especially when, like most tantrums, it is about something irrational.

Please let’s talk about Congress. The Republicans in Congress, specifically. The Tea Party Republicans in Congress, even more specifically. The people responsible for the government shutdown. Responsible for the fact that we are an international joke. That we are losing credibility by the day.

And why? Because they don’t like the Affordable Care Act, couldn’t block it, couldn’t get their anti-candidate elected to stop it, couldn’t repeal it (and they tried. 37 times at a cost of $52 MILLION. So much for fiscal conservatism). Couldn’t get the Supreme Court to strike it down. Nope. So now they are holding the government hostage in order to get their way because they have failed every other way. Folks. THIS IS THE LIVING BREATHING DEFINITION OF A TANTRUM. And it would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous for our democracy.

Think about it. Long term. Beyond this crisis. Whenever you cannot get a legislative majority or an electoral victory to either implement or stop a particular policy, you simply corral your members and refuse to do your job. You do not pass a budget. You threaten the very foundation of our economy (and the world’s!) by making debt ceiling threats. And if you get your way, then God help us all, because now that becomes the new normal.

So if my kid throws a fit that she wants candy at 10am and I say no, but you can have it at 2pm. Then she refuses to get dressed, put on shoes, come out of her room. And I say, “You know we don’t eat candy at 10am. This is a ridiculous request. You can have it at 2pm.” Then she screams that she wants it at 11, then. And I say NO. Then she freaks out because I am Refusing To Negotiate and I am Being Unreasonable. Listen kid, you started this whole tantrum, right? I made a very reasonable offer of 2pm and you lost your damn mind. Figure your own way out of it. She demands 11am, again accusing me of Not Negotiating. Were I to capitulate you would think me the worst parent on the planet, right? And you’d want me to swat that kid for having the giant balls to think Negotiation is at all on the goddamn table.

There is no negotiating with irrational stupid people, folks. Kids or Congress. Remember: the Tea Party hates government. We elected people who hate government to run our government. And this is what you get. People who react with glee to the government shutdown but then have faux outrage when actual things (monuments! websites!) are, in fact, shut down. Still waiting for the same outrage that the poor veterans not allowed access to monuments don’t have access to their goddamn well-earned CHECKS.

If they want a fight about the ACA, they should have that fight. For the 50 millionth time. But they should NOT try to have that fight on the back of the budget and on our nation’s full faith and credit. It is irresponsible, dangerous and STUPID. And that’s where I’m at, my friends. Tea Party people love to talk about the evils of PC, political correctness. Well, let me tell you something. I am sick and tired of not being able to call stupid people with stupid ideas STUPID. We’re bending over backwards to get “all sides” of the story. Hello? Some sides of the story are STUPID. The people promoting them are misinformed and stupid, and they do not deserve to be on the same stage as actual sides of the story. Sarah Palin is stupid. There. I said it. She is. I don’t mean book larnin’ or college degrees or social status. I mean: a person with no intellectual curiosity, no concern for finding out either the truth of an issue or the deeper truth of their beliefs. No interest in understanding the other person or view. And literally no shame about spreading lies, falsehoods and ill will simply because it comports with their political motives. Regardless of the cost to our society and our democracy. She is stupid. As a goddamn box of rocks. And I really wish more people had the courage to call out the stupid people like her. Ted Cruz, who apparently is as elitist as the elitists he claims to abhor, is not academically stupid. But stupid he is. As a Texan Box o’ Rocks. He is literally bringing the once-glorious (although not my speed) Republican Party to its knees. And anyone who thinks otherwise is, I’m sorry to say: stupid. Or willfully, stupidly blind.

And, for the record, two things: Congress is NOT exempt from Obamacare. Here is a link to an article showing the trajectory of how this became a news item. The fact remains: Congress is not only NOT exempt from Obamacare, it is REQUIRED to participate. Will these facts stop Ted Cruz from speechifying that Congress Exempted Itself? Nope. But at least now YOU know. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2013/10/02/from-politico-to-hannity-the-trajectory-of-congresss-obamacare-exemption-myth/

Next: should anyone tell you that The Democrats Refused to Negotiate, please refer yourself to the following NINETEEN instances of attempts to craft a budget that were thwarted by Republicans. I don’t know how many times you’d try to “negotiate” but I’m thinking 19 is pretty damn reasonable. So shut up with that GOP talking point, please. And, again, if you view the BASIC job of the Congress to keep the damn doors open and the lights on, then any request to “negotiate” that basic duty is on its face unreasonable. If your boss had to negotiate with you to get you to show up to work and turn on your laptop, no one would boo him for canning you. Same here. Congress needs to do its job. Open the government. Then you can have your 76th attempt to repeal Obamacare. Go on.

Courtesy of National Journal:
1. 4/23 Senator Reid requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Toomey blocked.

2. 5/6 Senator Reid requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Cruz blocked.

3. 5/7 Senator Murray requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator McConnell blocked.

4. 5/8 Senator Warner asked unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator McConnell blocked.

5. 5/9 Senator Murray asked unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator McConnell blocked.

6. 5/14 Senator Warner asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator McConnell blocked.

7. 5/15 Senator Wyden asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator McConnell blocked.

8. 5/16 Senator Murray asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Lee blocked.

9. 5/21 Senator Murray asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Paul blocked.

10. 5/22 Senator Kaine asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Rubio blocked.

11. 5/23 Senator McCaskill asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Lee blocked.

12. 6/4 Senator Murray asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Rubio blocked.

13. 6/12 Senator Kaine asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Lee blocked.

14. 6/19 Senator Murray asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Toomey blocked.

15. 6/26 Senator Murray requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Cruz blocked.

16. 7/11 Senator Murray requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Marco Rubio blocked.

17. 7/17 Senator Murray requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Mike Lee blocked.

18. 8/1 Senator Durbin requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Marco Rubio blocked.

19. 10/2 Senator Murray requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Toomey blocked.

That’s a hefty list, right? All blocked. By Republicans. But now, oh my goodness, now that we’ve shit in our own nest, we demand that the Democrats negotiate! NONSENSE. Ted Cruz walked you guys into a mess, and somebody better walk you out. But that person is not Obama, Reid or anyone else with a D after their name.

There is not a Republican in memory who would have threatened the credit of the United States of America over a policy disagreement (even the very contentious ones around Medicare and Social Security back in the old old days). Think about that. Think about it. Not Reagan. Not Bush. Not Dick “Not a Crook” Nixon. Not Dick Cheney. Not even the Evil Master of Political Chicanery Himself, Karl Rove. Not freaking anyone. It simply would NOT have occurred in a sane GOP.

It is time for the Party of Personal Responsibility to take some. You created the Tea Party. And now you must lie with them. Or cast them out. For the benefit of the once-proud Republican Party (a party that once boasted great minds with great ideas [that I didn’t necessarily agree with but that had some intellect and thought behind them]) but now is populated by people who simply hate Obama (and “Big Government”) more than they love their country.