Blog Archive

Sunday, September 29, 2013

New York Times: Editorial


Editorial

Food Stamp Regression in the Statehouse
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Published: September 26, 2013
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While Congress is making up its mind on how much to slash from the food stamp program, some states are moving on their own to punish the poor by changing eligibility and other rules governing food stamps in ways that could deny vital assistance to needy people.


Today's Editorials


Editorial: A Republican Ransom Note (September 27, 2013)


Editorial: Some Progress on Syria (September 27, 2013)


Editorial: Prison-Based Gerrymandering (September 27, 2013)



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For Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.



In each case they seem to have taken their cue from House Republicans, who have voted not only to cut $40 billion across the next decade, but also to end waivers enacted during the darkest days of the recession that allow for more than the statutory 90-day limit for employable single adults when local jobless rates remain prohibitively high. The waivers provide help for an estimated four million needy recipients.


While Senate Democrats and President Obama have vowed to block the House plan, at least a half-dozen states have begun ending the waivers on their own. The Pew Stateline news service reports that measures to end the state waivers are well along to enactment in states like Wisconsin, where 71,000 people could face a cutoff, and Oklahoma, where 47,000 could be denied.


The waivers are designed to give states flexibility in times of high unemployment. Republicans who hold spending cuts paramount are dusting off old canards about “welfare queens” and waste, fraud and abuse, which they claim are the cause for annual food stamp costs’ doubling to $82 billion during the recession. They prefer to blame America’s undernourished poor for their plight, ignoring the fact that food stamps are the main safety net for a record 15 percent of the population.


Other holes are showing up in the safety net, including reductions in unemployment benefits in eight states that push the payout terms below the guarantee of 26 weeks. These regressive developments present a grim warning that the pains of recession are far from ending for the least fortunate Americans.



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A version of this editorial appears in print on September 27, 2013, on page A22 of the New York edition with the headline: Food Stamp Regression in the Statehouse.








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A Familiar Spectrum of Behaviors


From: "jimanonymous222@yahoo.com"
To: WTOMenOnly@yahoogroups.com 
Sent: Saturday, September 28, 2013 12:48 PM
Subject: RE: Re: Re: [WTOMenOnly] Continued mayhem


today's drama.  I just got back in town yesterday and here is my journal entry for today:
At about 1 p.m. today, we had a “discussion” about what we were going to do as a couple. Try and work it out or part ways. I said that I would like to work it out, but first, we both had to acknowledge issues that each of us had to deal with. I offered that I need to address the way I schedule my work out of town to try and minimize the impact on her, and to get over my fear of talking to her. I offered that I was tired of feeling like I can never do anything right, that she is constantly critical of what I do, don’t do, say or don’t say, and attaches unintended meanings to each of those things. She did not address any of her “issues” but remained focused on mine. I asked if she thought if it was acceptable to make threats or promises to get someone to do what you wanted, such as blocking them from leaving the house, calling the police and reporting a family car stolen if it was used to drive away, throw the other person’s stuff on the driveway if they want to go for a walk to cool down, report their cell phone stolen if they hang up again, or stand in an open car door to prevent someone from driving away (all things she has said or done, including the car door blocking once today). Her response was “I don’t know” and “maybe.” I walked away and said I can’t accept that behavior. She followed me outside to my car and blocked the open car door to keep me from leaving. I pulled out my cell phone and dialed 911 and asked her to move. She said “no”, I hit send. While I was on the phone with the Police dispatcher, she got in our other car and drove off, after flipping me off. I filed a report with the police, because I have a feeling she is going to put me in this situation again. We’ll see if and when she comes back.
Maybe I can't hold out for 3.5 more years.

Friday, September 27, 2013

New York Times: Editorial


Editorial
Food Stamp Regression in the Statehouse
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Published: September 26, 2013

Print


While Congress is making up its mind on how much to slash from the food stamp program, some states are moving on their own to punish the poor by changing eligibility and other rules governing food stamps in ways that could deny vital assistance to needy people.


For Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.


In each case they seem to have taken their cue from House Republicans, who have voted not only to cut $40 billion across the next decade, but also to end waivers enacted during the darkest days of the recession that allow for more than the statutory 90-day limit for employable single adults when local jobless rates remain prohibitively high. The waivers provide help for an estimated four million needy recipients.

While Senate Democrats and President Obama have vowed to block the House plan, at least a half-dozen states have begun ending the waivers on their own. The Pew Stateline news service reports that measures to end the state waivers are well along to enactment in states like Wisconsin, where 71,000 people could face a cutoff, and Oklahoma, where 47,000 could be denied.

The waivers are designed to give states flexibility in times of high unemployment. Republicans who hold spending cuts paramount are dusting off old canards about “welfare queens” and waste, fraud and abuse, which they claim are the cause for annual food stamp costs’ doubling to $82 billion during the recession. They prefer to blame America’s undernourished poor for their plight, ignoring the fact that food stamps are the main safety net for a record 15 percent of the population.

Other holes are showing up in the safety net, including reductions in unemployment benefits in eight states that push the payout terms below the guarantee of 26 weeks. These regressive developments present a grim warning that the pains of recession are far from ending for the least fortunate Americans.


Meet The New York Times’s Editorial Board »
A version of this editorial appears in print on September 27, 2013, on page A22 of the New York edition with the headline: Food Stamp Regression in the Statehouse.
 
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New York Times: Opinion


Op-Ed Columnist
Free to Be Hungry
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: September 22, 2013 1354 Comments

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The word “freedom” looms large in modern conservative rhetoric. Lobbying groups are given names like FreedomWorks; health reform is denounced not just for its cost but as an assault on, yes, freedom. Oh, and remember when we were supposed to refer to pommes frites as “freedom fries”?

 
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Paul Krugman

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Blog: The Conscience of a Liberal

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The right’s definition of freedom, however, isn’t one that, say, F.D.R. would recognize. In particular, the third of his famous Four Freedoms — freedom from want — seems to have been turned on its head. Conservatives seem, in particular, to believe that freedom’s just another word for not enough to eat.

Hence the war on food stamps, which House Republicans have just voted to cut sharply even while voting to increase farm subsidies.

In a way, you can see why the food stamp program — or, to use its proper name, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) — has become a target. Conservatives are deeply committed to the view that the size of government has exploded under President Obama but face the awkward fact that public employment is down sharply, while overall spending has been falling fast as a share of G.D.P. SNAP, however, really has grown a lot, with enrollment rising from 26 million Americans in 2007 to almost 48 million now.

Conservatives look at this and see what, to their great disappointment, they can’t find elsewhere in the data: runaway, explosive growth in a government program. The rest of us, however, see a safety-net program doing exactly what it’s supposed to do: help more people in a time of widespread economic distress.

The recent growth of SNAP has indeed been unusual, but then so have the times, in the worst possible way. The Great Recession of 2007-9 was the worst slump since the Great Depression, and the recovery that followed has been very weak. Multiple careful economic studies have shown that the economic downturn explains the great bulk of the increase in food stamp use. And while the economic news has been generally bad, one piece of good news is that food stamps have at least mitigated the hardship, keeping millions of Americans out of poverty.

Nor is that the program’s only benefit. The evidence is now overwhelming that spending cuts in a depressed economy deepen the slump, yet government spending has been falling anyway. SNAP, however, is one program that has been expanding, and as such it has indirectly helped save hundreds of thousands of jobs.

But, say the usual suspects, the recession ended in 2009. Why hasn’t recovery brought the SNAP rolls down? The answer is, while the recession did indeed officially end in 2009, what we’ve had since then is a recovery of, by and for a small number of people at the top of the income distribution, with none of the gains trickling down to the less fortunate. Adjusted for inflation, the income of the top 1 percent rose 31 percent from 2009 to 2012, but the real income of the bottom 40 percent actually fell 6 percent. Why should food stamp usage have gone down?

Still, is SNAP in general a good idea? Or is it, as Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, puts it, an example of turning the safety net into “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.”

One answer is, some hammock: last year, average food stamp benefits were $4.45 a day. Also, about those “able-bodied people”: almost two-thirds of SNAP beneficiaries are children, the elderly or the disabled, and most of the rest are adults with children.

Beyond that, however, you might think that ensuring adequate nutrition for children, which is a large part of what SNAP does, actually makes it less, not more likely that those children will be poor and need public assistance when they grow up. And that’s what the evidence shows. The economists Hilary Hoynes and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach have studied the impact of the food stamp program in the 1960s and 1970s, when it was gradually rolled out across the country. They found that children who received early assistance grew up, on average, to be healthier and more productive adults than those who didn’t — and they were also, it turns out, less likely to turn to the safety net for help.

SNAP, in short, is public policy at its best. It not only helps those in need; it helps them help themselves. And it has done yeoman work in the economic crisis, mitigating suffering and protecting jobs at a time when all too many policy makers seem determined to do the opposite. So it tells you something that conservatives have singled out this of all programs for special ire.

Even some conservative pundits worry that the war on food stamps, especially combined with the vote to increase farm subsidies, is bad for the G.O.P., because it makes Republicans look like meanspirited class warriors. Indeed it does. And that’s because they are.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on September 23, 2013, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Free To Be Hungry
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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Unconscious Unknowns (with Donald Rumsfeld clip)

The Johari Window (named after Jo and Hari) was a "window" divided into four "panes of glass" that represented four basic levels of Consciousness. Two "panes" were things only you know and the other two were things only others know. There are Known Knowns; things we know that we know, and the Unknowns: Things we know that we do not know and things we do not know that we do not know.

I have a video clip here from YouTube somewhere of Donald Rumsfeld's Press Conference during the George W. Bush Administration that absolutely bewildered the press corps trying to use this explanation in a cryptic response to what was going on with the Iraq connection to 09/11/2001 events.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: "The World is his, who can see through its pretension...see it to be a Lie, and you have already dealt it its mortal blow."


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Tranquillity Base; The Eagle Has Landed

When "Buzz" Aldrin stepped out onto the surface of the Moon, after Neil Armstrong's famous words from Tranquillity Base, and looked around he coined the phrase, "Magnificent Desolation." The Moon surface itself was colorless gray tones of powdery dust and rock that reflected the Sun's light onto the Earth's terminator between Day and Night. It was reported the Moon dust and rock smelled 'burned.' The only color the Apollo 11 crew observed was the Earth rise of blue seas, white wisps of clouds and ice and the earth tones of continental greens, browns and reds over a quarter million miles; an eight day round trip. It was one small step for a man and one giant leap for Mankind. They put men on the Moon. Several months later a discrepancy in voltage of the mechanisms that stirred the tanks of liquid gasses aboard Apollo 13 caused a catastrophic ignition and explosion that severely crippled the vessel. Only by the dedicated team of engineers on the ground improvising a survival program and skillfully and bravely implemented by the Apollo 13 crew did it go down in history as "a successful failure."

From those first steps off world into the Universe people would reference the efforts in relation to more mundane matters saying, "They can send men to the Moon but they can't solve problems here on Earth." Indeed, technology and science learns and grows while the Earth and it's intelligent people die. True, throughout history the planet's sheer volume of human population is estimated to have increased to about one billion and maintained that level until only the last Century or two when it has attained about eight billion currently and grows exponentially apparently in direct response to science and technology innovation. There is enough food, medicine, and so on for everyone. The abuse, neglect and misappropriation of resources and people is deliberately manipulated by various sources that maintain control anonymously out of public access. These things cannot be seen and heard from out in space and time.


A knowledgable and skilled Troubleshooter can intuitively ascertain and pursue the nature of a problem by crafting five Why questions; each asked in response to the answer of the previous question on the subject. The Apollo 13 engineers pooled their resources to improvise and adapt a survival system using these Troubleshooter skills resulting in "a successful failure." Imposing upon themselves the limitations of available resources on board and the circumstances of time and materiel they devised a System for survival that succeeded in the end. Those engineers possessed good qualities and practical knowledge.


I admire them. Still, for every "successful failure" there are ten disasters. Because the space program falls under military expenditures they tend to view loss of life as "collateral damage" or "a sacrifice" for one's country. In Civilian terms I see the loss of individual lives as tragic and question the value of it all. The Military and Industrial complex was questioned by General Eisenhower. What really are "we" accomplishing by sanctioning the disposal of so many individual lives to the cause of these Corporations? I strongly suggest the cost/benefit ratio of losing so much blood, bone and flesh of individuals is too high to justify the continued existence of this Corporate Military/Industrial Complex and Plutocracy. The "too big to fail" concept is typical of Corporations.