Katie Zezima at the Associated Press is the latest in a long line of reporters sucked into the fundamental dishonesty of the "Food Stamp Challenges" which have been taking place around the country for more than five years.
Zezima's misdirection came at the direction of Newark, New Jersey's Democratic mayor Cory Booker, who challenged one of his Twitter followers several weeks ago to, in Zezima's words, "try to live on the monetary equivalent of food stamps for at least a week" in connection with "a debate about the role the government should play in school nutrition funding." Those two quoted characterizations expose the two main problems with the Food Stamp Challenge. I'll explain both after excerpting a bit more of Zezima's December 11 dispatch after the jump:
In the face of possible cuts to food stamp programs, CNN let Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker rail against the House cuts and publicize his own attempt to live off of food stamps for a week. On Friday night host Piers Morgan lauded Booker, calling his food stamp challenge "something really pretty extraordinary" and "a life-changing experience for him."
In addition, Morgan cast Republicans as villains wanting to protect the rich at the expense of the hungry, asking GOP pollster Kristen Soltis, "do you feel comfortable that the Republicans are prepared to slash investment into something like food stamps in an effort to try and protect – as it seems to many people -- the wealthiest two percent from paying more tax?" [Video below the break. Audio here.]
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its latest report on food stamp program participation through September today. I received the email alerting me to the release at 5:17 p.m., so it seems reasonable to believe that USDA and the Barack Obama administration wanted the new data to get as little attention as possible (as will be seen later, it's currently getting none). If so, they have two probable reasons for wishing to minimize its impact.
The first and more obvious of the two is that the food stamp rolls increased by over 607,000 in September to 47.71 million, yet another all-time record. That's awful enough, but here's the real kicker: the participation figure for July, the last month of data available before Election Day, was revised up by over 150,000, changing that month's reported increase from 11,600 to just under 166,000. As will be seen after the jump, no other month's data was revised except August, where the changes were infinitesimal.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker is considered a rising star in Democratic Party politics. Though a doctrinaire liberal on many fronts, he possesses several positive traits, including a willingness to risk his own safety when he sees people in danger and the courage to call out his fellow party members when they irresponsibly bash private-equity firms which, while occasionally making mistaken investments, have a far better track record of success than, say, the Department of Energy's solar plays.
That makes it all the more disappointing that Booker, like so many other leftist politicians before him, is cynically taking the bogusly designed "Food Stamp Challenge." Such an idea isn't necessarily bad, as it has the potential for helping people make wiser, more nutritious and economical food choices. But to the left that's not the point. Instead, their mission is to convince the public that benefits are too low and that the numbers of those participating in the program need to increase. To achieve their aims, advocates make a fundamentally dishonest claim about benefit levels. And in a unique twist, the Politico appears to have proactively attempted to become part of the false message.
Aided by its simpatico allies at MSNBC, the Obama campaign has swung into action to contain yet another unfortunate outbreak of candor.
That an affinity of soulmates exists between Obamists and MSNBCers was never more evident than yesterday in the wake of Newark mayor Cory Booker appearing on "Meet the Press" and opining that the Obama campaign vilifying Mitt Romney for his work at Bain Capital was as "nauseating" as a proposed GOP ad campaign on President Obama's erstwhile ties to radical cleric Jeremiah Wright. (video clip after page break)
One almost has to feel sorry for Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt. He showed up on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 yesterday probably expecting the type of softball questions that MSNBC hosts would toss at him. Instead, Anderson Cooper took a page from Cory Booker's criticism of "nauseating" attacks on private equity firms such as Bain Capital and kept asking LaBolt how the Obama campaign can criticize Bain while simultaneously raising funds from the same type of companies.
The clearly unprepared LaBolt spent the interview filibustering with a flurry of words that were designed not to answer the questions about the obvious fundraising hypocrisy by the Obama campaign. Watch LaBolt as he filibusters his way to the end of the interview without giving any answers:
Newark's Democratic Mayor Cory Booker started a firestorm Sunday when he said on NBC's Meet the Press the Obama campaign's attack on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's private equity career is "nauseating."
"To continue his damage control efforts," Booker's only interview Monday was with his "good friend" Rachel Maddow, and despite having a twelve minute exclusive with the mayor, the MSNBC anchor never once asked him what his opinion was of private equity (video follows with commentary, full transcript at end of post).
A furious Chris Matthews on Monday railed against Cory Booker for his "betrayal" and "sabotage" of fellow Democrat Barack Obama. A bewildered Matthews couldn't understand why the Newark mayor would "trash" the President.
Howling over Booker's break from party loyalty, Matthews snarled, "... I think [this] was an act of sabotage. Whatever the intention was, [Booker] was trashing the entire Obama campaign of the summer." The Hardball host then played a clip of Obama "trying to defend himself against what looked like something like a betrayal." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
NBC's Jamie Gangel gave Cory Booker the full liberal media rock star treatment in her Tuesday Today show profile of the Democratic Newark, New Jersey mayor as she cheered that he's "a celebrity with friends like Bon Jovi" and gushed he has "more than a million followers on Twitter."
Calling Booker "a young ambitious politician often compared to Barack Obama," Gangel proclaimed: "He truly is a force...and despite what he says, watch out. In a few years, his friends say they believe they will see him on the national stage." This prompted Today co-anchor Ann Curry to respond to her NBC colleague: "Well he is very impressive" admitting that she's also a fan, "By the way I'm a Twitter follower."
Curry teased the Gangel story by hailing Booker as "one of the biggest rising stars of the Democratic Party" and added: "Everywhere you look nowadays, from Oprah to Facebook, Bon Jovi to Brad Pitt, Newark's charismatic mayor Cory Booker is enlisting help for his troubled city." During her piece Gangel covered everything from Booker's early years noting, "Booker was an academic star, class president, and all-American tight end who went on to Stanford, a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford, and Yale Law School," to his future plans as she prodded: "Do you think about running for governor? Senator? White House?"
During Monday's "Morning Joe" on MSNBC, host Joe Scarborough blamed lack of leadership during natural disasters on partisan voters. Quoting a veteran of his congressional staff, the former Republican congressman remarked that failures of leadership happen "when we elect leaders by checking boxes."
"Are they pro-choice? Are they pro-life? Where are they on gay rights?" Scarborough summarized the minds of partisan voters. "We have forgotten to elect people based on...governing."
"And services," Mike Barnicle chimed in. The "Morning Joe" panel was discussing the recent blizzard in the northeast United States, and the uproar that ensued from poor public services in New York City and the governor of New Jersey being on vacation during the blizzard.
Steyn takes on the lunacy of sanctuary cities, media-report tiptoeing, and the apparently hopelessly-in-denial political elites:
..... there's been a succession of prominent stories with one common feature that the very same pundits, politicians and lobby groups have a curious reluctance to go anywhere near. In a New York Times report headlined "Sorrow And Anger As Newark Buries Slain Youth," the limpidly tasteful Times prose prioritized "sorrow" over "anger," and offered only the following reference to the perpetrators: "The authorities have said robbery appeared to be the motive. Three suspects – two 15-year-olds and a 28-year-old construction worker from Peru – have been arrested."