Completing a two-month full reversal of a tiny decline which began earlier in the year, the USDA reported on Friday that participation in the Food Stamp program, which the government wants everyone to call SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), reached an all-time record high in June. The program's had 46.67 million participants that month, eclipsing the previous record of 46.51 million in December 2011.
Only the business press seems interested in covering the story. What follows are excerpts from the story at Bloomberg Business Week, where the most important story element for reporter Alan Bjerga was the impact on Dear Leader's reelection effort:
An e-mail from Daily Kos Campaign Manager, Chris Bowers announces 'big news' regarding voter ID laws in Pennsylvania. Bowers explains:
A huge coalition of 100+ labor and civil rights groups has come together to do the door knocking, phone banking and voter education necessary to make sure everyone in this must-win swing state can still cast a ballot.
At Daily Kos, we're helping out by running online ads in Pennsylvania to sign up more than 1,000 volunteers so that this coalition has the people power it needs. Please, click here to contribute $3 to Daily Kos so that we can sign up the thousands of volunteers needed to overcome Pennsylvania's voter ID law.
In September 2010, the Associated Press prepared an advance report on the expected surge in the Census Bureau's official poverty rate, which rose from 13.2% to a 15-year high of 14.3%. Their stated preoccupation was not with the associated pain, but with "the unfortunate timing for Obama and his party just seven weeks before important elections when Congress is at stake."
Well, this year's official poverty rate will very likely be the highest seen since the mid-1960s, and there's a presidential election coming up. What's the AP, aka the Administration's Press, to do? It looks like the strategy is to get a comprehensive report out on how bad things are in July when few are paying attention, and then to give the official report short shrift when it arrives in mid-September. Here are excerpts from Hope Yen's nearly 1,500-word writeup:
On July 12, the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children & Families, the group which administers the entitlement program known to most as "welfare" or "traditional welfare, issued an "Information Memorandum" entitled "Guidance concerning waiver and expenditure authority under Section 1115" (i.e., not "proposed guidance"). After navigating the thicket of bureaucratic babble contained therein, Robert Rector and Kiki Bradley at the Heritage Foundation asserted, with agreement from several other quarters and no meaningful dissent I have detected, that the memo's effect "is the end of welfare reform."
Perhaps the most common justification for government intrusion into people's lives and into the economy at large is the notion that "doing something" is better than preserving limited government.
The usual rejoinder from the right is that capitalism has done more to alleviate poverty and is therefore a more efficient way of helping raise living standards than socialism or its related ideologies. While that answer has the advantage of being true, it is often unpersuasive for those looking for an answer to a moral question. That is the task at hand for Robert Sirico, a Catholic priest and center-right thinker in his excellent new book, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy.
New York Times welfare reporter Jason DeParle appeared on the NPR program "Fresh Air" hosted by Terry Gross, on Thursday to retell the horror stories that appeared in his lead story last Sunday: "I can't remember a time when I heard people talk so openly about desperate or even illegal things that they were doing in order to make ends meet. They were selling food stamps. They were selling blood. Women talked openly about shoplifting." Even committing "muggings of illegal immigrants." DeParle noted with laughable understatement that such "strategies" can "make them seem unsympathetic."
Asked by the sympathetic Gross about the 1996 welfare reform (which DeParle at the time said risked forcing mothers to "turn to prostitution or the drug trade....abandon their children....camp out on the streets and beg"), DeParle responded with tales of formidable state bureaucracy that won't cut much ice with anyone who has dealt with the DMV:
Over at the Associated Press in a report with a Tuesday morning time stamp, Christopher Rugaber produced yet another predictable lemonade-from-lemons story about how the economy is allegedly "improving faster than economists had expected. They now foresee slightly stronger growth and hiring than they did two months earlier - trends that would help President Barack Obama's re-election hopes." Because, after all, that's what it's all about.
The folks at AP, the economists they surveyed for their report, and the rest of the establishment press really need to get out more. Y'know, they used to, at least before November 4, 2008. If they did, they'd find something which it seems only the BBC among major original-source news organizations has found: well over 50 "tent cities." These are not Occupy movement encampments; instead they are places where one will find America's desperately poor:
On Tuesday, for the second time in two weeks, CNN's Soledad O'Brien insisted that President Bush, not President Obama, is the "food stamp president" – even though data show her argument is ridiculous.
On January 19, O'Brien had opened up that "it was George Bush who was the food stamp president." Then on Tuesday, she stated that Bush oversaw a greater percent increase of food stamp recipients than Obama has, and thus was more deserving of the title "food stamp president."
As NewsBusters previously reported, MSNBC's Chris Matthews has been making the rounds accusing everyone associated with Monday's Republican presidential debate of racism.
On Tuesday's Hardball, the host finished the program by claiming former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was race-baiting by calling Barack Obama The Food Stamp President (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich had a rather testy exchange with Fox News's Juan Williams during Monday's debate in South Carolina.
After Williams accused the former Speaker of the House of being racially insensitive when referring to Barack Obama as "The Food Stamp President," Gingrich said, "The fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history. Now, I know among the politically correct you are not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
PBS host and leftist activist Tavis Smiley called out Republican candidates for their hostility to the poor in America, on Thursday morning on MSNBC. Appearing during the 7 a.m. hour of Morning Joe, he singled out four candidates by name and warned that "we're in a world of trouble" due to their campaign trail rhetoric.
As a PBS host, Smiley benefits from public funding. That has not stopped him in the past for making outrageous liberal remarks, and it didn't stop him on Thursday when he railed against a Congressional "bipartisan consensus that the poor just don't matter." [Video below the break. Click here for audio.]
New York Times poverty beat-writer Jason Deparle, who once described Clinton’s welfare reform proposal as “a bill that begrudges poor infants their Pampers” and predicted it might cause women to “camp out on the streets and beg,” made Thursday’s front page with the claim that America is becoming “less equal...less mobile” with the poor stuck in place, in “Harder for Americans to Rise From Economy’s Lower Rungs.”
A photo caption read: “Occupy protesters, like these in Flint, Mich., have pushed discussions about economic mobility toward center stage.”
During the "Grapevine" segment on Tuesday's Special Report on Fox News, anchor Bret Baier played a clip of a UNICEF ad depicting Santa Claus as an uncaring Scrooge and quoted an item from NewsBusters' senior editor Tim Graham: "Conservative site NewsBusters asked quote: 'Why on Earth would jolly old Saint Nicholas resent aid for the poor? Is this just another way the UN bureaucracy asserts its own moral superiority?'" [View video after the jump / audio available here]
No wonder President Obama adopted some of the language of the Occupy movement in his class-warfare speech this week. It's led by the likes of Alfredo Carrasquillo, a fellow "community organizer" with whom the president perhaps identifies. Carrasquillo specializes in breaking into foreclosed homes to dole them out to people—beginning with himself—to live in.
Chris Hayes gave Carrasquillo a sympathetic platform on his MSNBC show this morning. Making it clear that he was speaking as a "devil's advocate," not, God forbid, expressing his own opinion, Hayes gently inquired of Carrasquillo whether, you know, it could be said he has no right to break into and live in homes owned by others. Dismissing the notion out of hand, Carrasquillo described theft of others' property as "technicalities." That seemed good enough for Hayes, who helpfully pointed out that the homes Carrasquillo is breaking into "are just sitting there, no one's making use of them." Video after the jump.
As NBC's Meet the Press panel ripped into Newt Gingrich on Sunday for his comments on poor children in inner cities lacking working role models, Manchester Union Leader publisher Joe McQuaid was the lone voice of dissent: "I think he gets a bum rap on the child labor thing."
That prompted host David Gregory to declare: "Are you really saying that the working poor in this country don't have good role models of how to work hard?...How do you get to that practical solution and not see it as a kind of grotesque distortion of what's really happening out there?"
In an interview with Donald Trump on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer hit Newt Gingrich for pointing out that poor inner city children lack role models: "He made some controversial comments recently about the poor and jobs....Maureen Dowd in the Times on Sunday said, 'Has he not heard of the working poor?'"
Lauer turned to Trump and fretted: "Did Newt Gingrich unfairly characterize what's happening in poor communities across this country?" Trump replied: "No, it wasn't maybe politically correct but it happens to be the truth....[Gingrich] is looking at the inner city, where Obama has done nothing..." Lauer pressed: "But do children in those inner city areas really have no role models who work?"
Apparently, Newt Gingrich wanting to employ students from poor neighborhoods and teach them job skills means that he believes they possess "no work habits." CNN obliged to put words in the candidate's mouth during Friday's 1 p.m. news hour as its headlines slammed Gingrich's "controversial" statements.
Anchor T.J. Holmes admitted that the candidate "tends to say some pretty edgy things every now and again," and CNN headlines blared that Gingrich's "controversial" talk "could become a campaign liability," and that his statement "targets children in 'poor neighborhoods'." [Video below the break. Click here for audio.]
With the news that the liberal Joy Behar's HLN show will end next month, the Media Research Center compiled a "best of Behar" list from its own archives. The liberal prime-time host was one who could never be accused of holding back her smears against conservatives, and repeatedly teed-up her liberal guests to bash Republicans.
Behar, who is also the co-host of ABC's The View, mostly interviewed entertainment and celebrity figures but was never at a loss for bringing liberal politics to the fore in those interviews. She embarked on many a crusade against social conservatives and any who opposed her passionate support for the GLBT cause.
Here are some of the best examples of Behar's bigotry:
It's one thing for your average, secular liberal not to know the New Testament. But for the Reverend Al Sharpton not to know better?
On his MSNBC show this evening, Sharpton rolled video of Michelle Bachmann, after making the case for self-reliance, saying "if anyone will not work, neither shall they eat." Even this NewsBuster, who is anything but expert in the area, realized that Bachman was quoting Scripture to the effect that people who are unwilling--not unable--to work don't deserve support. But Sharpton incredibly claimed Bachmann meant that "if you don't have work, you should starve." Video after the jump.
According to an unbylined Associated Press report out of Atlanta tonight, when police move in to arrest members of a crowd which won't move when ordered to move, they "swarm." Nice insect comparison, eh? And in case readers didn't get the negative connotation the first time, the AP report used the word again in its final paragraph.
Here are several paragraphs from the report, including an unchallenged reference to Martin Luther King's "Poor People's Campaign" by the "Rev." Jesse Jackson (bolds are mine):
Call yourself a Christian? Then you can't oppose whatever welfare programs the Democrats devise. So in effect argued Al Sharpton on his MSNBC show this evening.
In the course of criticizing House Republicans for having passed a bill reaffirming "In God We Trust" as the national motto, Sharpton somehow equated Christianity with support for the liberal agenda. And although I'm the opposite of an expert on Christian theology, he also came up with a formulation on faith and works that might be surprising to some Protestants. Video after the jump.
On Washington Post's On Faith blog, Daily Beast contributor Lisa Miller teased a piece about Occupy Wall Street with a worthy question: "What would Jesus think about Occupy Wall Street?" Her answer was simple, and predictably liberal: "The Jesus of history would love them all."
In a piece titled "Jesus at Occupy Wall Street: 'I feel like I've been here before,'" Miller portrayed the protestors as wretched outcasts, whom God would embrace because of their misery: "Born with little means into a first century world, the historical Jesus might feel right at home with the very aspects of the occupation that so many 21st century observers consider gross: the tents, the damp sleeping bags, the communal kitchen. Jesus would have sympathy, I think, with the campers' efforts to keep a small space sanitary in the absence of modern plumbing."
At the Politico, James Hohmann's biography page indicates that he is "an Honors graduate of Stanford University" who "studied American political history." I hope he skipped class during the time his profs covered the 1990s, because if not, he and many other classmates have been badly misled.
Hohmann covered Bill Clinton's commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of his presidential candidacy announcement at his library in Little Rock, Arkansas, and let the following Clintonian howlers go by without challenge:
In his Friday column ("Failing Forward"), published in Saturday's print edition, the New York Times's Charles Blow really blew it in attempting to relay an abortion-related statistic from the abortion-supportive Alan Guttmacher Institute. Blow wrote (shown here) that "the unintended pregnancy rate has jumped 50 percent since 1994."
The Times has since corrected the column to reflect what the Guttmacher Institute reported, which is that (italics are mine) "the unintended pregnancy rate among poor women has jumped 50 percent since 1994." LiveAction.org's Lisa Graas and Jennie Stone both noted Blow's blunder earlier today. Each also strongly and eloquently criticized Blow for his profoundly antilife attitudes. Additionally, the Times columnist used a "from 2000 to 2009" statistic about child poverty to mask the fact that most of the rise in that statistic occurred during the final year of that time period, i.e., the first year of the presidency of you-know-who.
Naturally, most liberal Democrats are stifling their disappointment with President Obama in order to preserve any electability he still holds. That's not true of Rev. Jesse Jackson, who absolutely denounced Barack Obama's America on Friday on radical (yet taxpayer-supported) Pacifica Radio. This is a little ironic, since Pacifica griped a bit to Jackson in 2008 that he was being sidelined by Obama to preserve his electability.
The show "Democracy Now" offered a segment Friday on the new monument in Washington to Martin Luther King, which offered the opportunity for leftists to decry how King's dreams of the late Sixties for socialist revolution and an end to all American war-making were now being ignored:
Showing the New York Times's reputation for knee-jerk liberalism has a long pedigree, veteran comic Mort Sahl had a joke about a hypothetical Times headline after nuclear Armageddon: "World Ends, Women & Minorities Hardest Hit."
Per Reuters blogger James Pethokoukis, Goldman Sachs, demonstrating Democratic-friendly timing similar to that seen at the New York Times a month or so ago, published an extraordinarily gloomy economic forecast last night.
Here are some of the details he quotes:
"Following another week of weak economic data, we have cut our estimates for real GDP growth in the second and third quarter of 2011 to 1.5% and 2.5%, respectively, from 2% and 3.25%. Our forecasts for Q4 and 2012 are under review, but even excluding any further changes we now expect the unemployment rate to come down only modestly to 8¾% at the end of 2012."
New York Times columnist Charles Blow has gotten more ill-humored about politics since the summer of 2009, when he happily opined that the GOP was doomed in the Northeast (this was less than six months before a Republican won the "Ted Kennedy" Senate seat in Massachusetts, after which Blow was considerably less happy with that geographical quadrant).
His Saturday column, "A Summer to Simmer," was full of ranting about the "callousness of conservatives" and their "unshakeable immunity to empathy."
This summer has the potential to be another turning point for the electorate, and it’s not necessarily pegged to the performance of the president. It may hinge largely on the callousness of conservatives and their seemingly inexorable desire to overplay their hand.
Apparently, the state of California has been trying to do something about the runaway costs of its "traditional welfare" program. Nationally, it's known as TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). In the tarnished Golden State, it's called CalWORKS (California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids).
Wednesday, the supposedly nonpartisan but clearly left-leaning California Budget Project (CBP) issued a report entitled "Recent Cuts to CalWORKs Have Significantly Affected Families and Local Communities." At the Sacramento Business Journal, Staff Writer Kathy Robertson essentially transcribed its major points. Had she done further work, she would have noted that the number of CalWORKs recipients, already over triple the national average as a percentage of the population, increased by another quarter-million during the past 27 reported months (June 2008 to September 2010) to 1.46 million. That total is almost 4% of the state's population. The welfare-receiving percentage of the population in the rest of the country, including a few other states which have allowed their rolls to unreasonably balloon, is less than 1.2%.
Here are several paragraphs from Robertson's report: