But adding insult to injury is what Republicans do. They're the psychopathic Bad Cops who, confident that President Obama and the Wall Street "New Democrat" Good Cops will never challenge them in any meaningful way, have become free to exhibit their cruelty right out there in the open. Thanks to gerrymandering and manufactured divide-and-conquer techniques that pit poor Fox News-viewing whites against a growing brown and black population, they get just enough votes to hold onto the House of Representatives. They thereby run the whole show through sheer dint of sadism, disguised as "libertarian populism." Paul Krugman wrote a scathing column on this phenomenon, spearheaded by Sen. Rand Paul, last week. My response:
Can't you just hear that lonesome Rand Paul dog whistle blow?
Paul is using Alex Jones-style conspiracy paranoia and racism to drum up poor white support for the Party of Destruction. He's betting that boiling the frogs over a low steady heat -- cutting food stamps here, unemployment benefits there -- will stop them noticing that they're being cooked right along with the black and brown people that they need to believe are stealing the food from their mouths and the jobs from their kin. The truth -- that chronic hard times are the direct result of unregulated capitalism and corrupt politics -- is not out there. Only six national media conglomerates supply 90% of everything they see and hear.
What Paul & Paul (Ryan) and the GOP don't seem to realize is that their "populism" won't do much good if their constituents can't earn a living wage. Those bills from the greedy cable monopolies just keep going up -- watching Fox News propaganda will be way out of the price range of poor white people. When jobless benefits are cut to the bone, there goes the electricity -- along with Rush Limbaugh. And once the food stamps are kaput and the Medicaid is denied, they'll be too hungry and sick to bother voting, let alone caring. The USA has now plummeted to #27 in life expectancy.
The new GOP messaging is useless. They're are out of gas, lurching along on their own toxic fumes. Too bad they're poisoning the rest of us on their ride to the scrap heap for old clunkers.So here's how the kinder, gentler free-market Libertarian known as Barack Obama will counter the looming forced starvation of 50 million people caused by the bipartisan compromised slashing of at least $20 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): He's invited that original Mr. Compassionate Conservative, George H.W. Bush, over for lunch at the White House today to unveil (drumroll, please) a brand new PPP (public-private partnership) that will rely on community volunteerism to feed the hungry. It's very similar to the now-defunct White House Council on Jobs & Competitiveness, made up of CEOs who lobbied for tax breaks and deregulation and did not create one single job.
To mark the latest milestone in his corporate race to the bottom, Obama will also award a "5000th Point of Light" medal to some philanthropists who feed millions of starving African children. The subliminal message? To get Third World America ready and prepared for private charities to take over government safety net functions, thus wielding ever more malignant tax-evading philanthropic control over the masses:
After joining Bush to present the award, Obama will announce the formation of a new task force made up of Cabinet agency officials to identify ways that public agencies and the private sector can partner in support of national service.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the White House Domestic Policy Council will oversee the effort, which is meant to build on Obama administration efforts to promote greater community service.
The event isn’t the first collaboration between the two presidents. Bush served as one of 16 honorary co-chairs of Obama’s first Inauguration, at which he called for a national day of service to occur on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. (to make us forget who MLK really was: an anti-war, anti-imperialism, pro-labor, rabble-rousing radical who spent his life demanding government help for the poor.)Oh, and Neil Bush, that privateering poster child for disaster capitalism, will also be in attendance. You may remember Black Sheep Neil as the crooked ex-banker/ entrepreneur (Obama loves entrepreneurs) who cashed in big-time in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Matriarch Barbara, who will also be wined and dined by the Obamas, had made a point of offering her own money to storm victims -- with the precondition that her charity went through Neil's educational software company.
Of course, the Bushes and the Obamas look like the Beaming Lords and Ladies Bountiful when compared to Bible-thumping Rep. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, who literally foams at the mouth demanding that food stamp recipients work for their meals, even as he himself personally cashes in on millions of dollars in subsidies for his own farm. It's hard to decide what fictional villain to compare him to. Simon Legree comes to mind, or any one of the long list of hyperbolic villains from the Dickens collection. If Fincher's mother read him The Tale of Peter Rabbit when he was a tyke, he probably identified more with evil Farmer McGregor than with the hungry little bunnies. Not only did that Beatrix Potter bad guy chase the kids away from the food, he even stole the clothes they lost during their escape. Starve 'em, scare 'em, skin 'em and freeze 'em. It's the capitalist way.
In his column today, Paul Krugman compares the War on Food Stamps to the dystopian Hunger Games, in which people are forced to fight each other to the death for the pleasure and entertainment of the plutocrats:
So House Republicans voted to maintain farm subsidies — at a higher level than either the Senate or the White House proposed — while completely eliminating food stamps from the bill.
To fully appreciate what just went down, listen to the rhetoric conservatives often use to justify eliminating safety-net programs. It goes something like this: “You’re personally free to help the poor. But the government has no right to take people’s money” — frequently, at this point, they add the words “at the point of a gun” — “and force them to give it to the poor.”
It is, however, apparently perfectly O.K. to take people’s money at the point of a gun and force them to give it to agribusinesses and the wealthy.Gail Collins also took on the SNAP crisis in her own excellent column on Saturday. (But just like Krugman, she can't quite acknowledge the complicity of the Democrats, although she comes close):
And while food stamps go to poor people, most of the farm aid goes to wealthy corporations.
So House Republicans passed the farm part and left food stamps hanging.
Tea Party conservatives have an all-purpose disdain for anything that smacks of redistribution of wealth, and food stamps are a prime target. “The role of citizens, of Christians, of humanity, is to take care of each other. But not for Washington to steal money from those in the country and give to others in the country,” said Representative Stephen Fincher of Tennessee during a speech in Memphis.
So the food stamp program was the total opposite of a Tasty Bite to House Republicans. More like that Scottish thing with sheep stomach and oatmeal. But the agriculture part was billed as delicious restraint. They rallied behind the just-farm-stuff bill in a party line 216-to-208 vote.
The larding of benefits to farmers didn’t come up during the House debate. It was all about food stamps, and Democrats asking to know why their colleagues wanted to cut aid to hungry children and old people. During an Agriculture Committee meeting on the bill, Representative Juan Vargas of California quoted Jesus’ lesson that “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”Got that? Democrats do the Good Cop dance -- asking, cajoling, posturing on MSNBC, pleading and wondering. In the White House, they go full-bore Compassionate Conservativism. Never do they condemn, lambast, make fun of, or deride. Maintaining the miserable status quo for the benefit of the rich is how this game is played. Here was my comment to Gail Collins:
The number of households on food stamps reached nearly 23 million this spring. This can be directly blamed on lack of jobs, stagnating wages, and the utter lack of political attention to the unemployment crisis and a wealth disparity that has sent the world's richest nation down to a dismal #27 in global per-capita income.
So, the GOP is using food stamps as one more stale variation on the Reagan welfare queen myth: blame the victims rather than the perpetrators.
Ironically, one of the biggest culprits in the financial meltdown -- too big to fail/jail JP Morgan Chase -- runs the SNAP e-card program in half the states. They just reported a 31% surge in profits! Not only do they command a bounty for each new food stamp case opened, they charge a fee every time a recipient makes a purchase or checks her balance. Where is the GOP outrage?
Nah. They love to claim that "lazy" food stamp moms (most of whom work) use their SNAP cards to buy cigs and booze and lobster tails while those moral folks have to toil for every off-brand box of cereal. Never mind that the real corporate welfare queens, like the Waltons of Walmartistan, rely on the government to supplement the income of their underpaid workers with SNAP and Medicaid cards. The Waltons own more wealth than 40% of the whole population.
One of these days, the GOP will go too far. People will finally SNAP and throw the bums out. They will land with a giant crackle and pop, before they soggily sink to the bottom of the bowl.When you look at the grim statistics on child hunger and its consequences, the compassionate Obamas' "personal responsibility" approach appears all the more cynical. As far as Michelle Obama is concerned, kids just need to get off their butts and exercise. Struggling parents need to stop being lazy and prepare fresh fruits and veggies in between their minimum-wage double shifts.The latest Obama approach to childhood nutrition was to hold a recipe contest and a state dinner for a select group of well-fed kids. The media went wild when the president revealed that he loves broccoli. And how his "family"(read: peripatetic deceased mother and banker grandma) didn't cook his veggies up nearly as scrumptiously as his own personal chefs do today. I wish I was kidding. As much as this guy tries to cover up his authoritarian paternalism with schmoozy small-talk, it always falls as flat as a bowl of soggy potato chips.
|Hey, Barack: Eat Me|
Even a child who goes hungry just one time in her life is more than twice as likely to have health problems a decade after that one episode of malnutrition. Hungry children are more likely to be socially isolated, to have behavior problems and of course, they don't do well in school. They are understandably at greater risk for incarceration as teens and adults.
But maybe that's the whole plan. Well-fed children become cognitively healthy adults. Cognitively healthy adults tend to vote for their own economic interests and against corrupt politicians in service to the rich. Cognitively healthy adults refuse to play Hunger Games, where the only possible outcome is Heads They Win, Tails You Lose.
Meet Farmer Fincher and Benevolent Barack. There's really only a pinprick of light between them.