Posted: June 3, 2012 Filed under: 2012 elections, Capital Punishment aka Death Penalty, Criminal Justice System, Democratic Politics, Diplomacy Nightmares, Egypt, Elections, Foreign Affairs, Greece, income inequality, Injustice system, morning reads, prison population, racism, Republican politics, The DNC, the GOP | Tags: 9/11 World Trade Center, Florida, Golden Dawn party, Gov. Rick Scott, Hosni Mubarak, Income Inequality, National September 11 Memorial Museum, Neo-Nazis, Racism and Imprisonment, Voter discrimination, voter purge, WTC Memorial Museum
Yesterday I spent some time watching movies with my son, first we saw Sergeant York, with Gary Cooper, and after that we saw Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven with Orlando Bloom and Eva Green. It felt good to sit a few hours watching these films, and while we were watching, my son would ask me about things…like historical accuracy…or sometimes he would comment on the actors, and the way the scenes were shot.
The reason I bring all this up is because there is a line in that movie Kingdom of Heaven, when the character of Balian surrenders the city of Jerusalem to Saladin…
What is Jerusalem worth? Nothing….Everything
I thought that line was fabulous, and while looking for articles to feature in this morning’s post, it seemed like an interesting shadow of a theme.
Not all of today’s articles will relay a message of nothing and everything, but some will.
Former Dictator Hosni Mubarak was sentenced yesterday to life in prison, or as the Judge described… “30 years of darkness.” After the sentencing, Egyptians protested in the streets. There is an op/ed In the Independent by Robert Fisk that you should take a look at. Robert Fisk: Mubarak will die in jail, but that’s no thanks to us
Twenty-five years is death, isn’t it, if you’re 84 years old? Hosni Mubarak will die in jail. And Habib al-Adli, his interior minister, 74 years old, maybe he will be killed in jail if he doesn’t live out his life sentence. These were the thoughts of two old Egyptian friends of mine yesterday. And Mubarak was sentenced for the dead of the 2011 revolution. That’s 850 dead – 34 people for each year of his term. Quite a thought.
Of course, we were not asking about the death sentences at the military courts in the 1980s and 1990s – and we can’t, can we, when the military is still in power in Egypt. Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the field marshal who runs the country, never suggested these courts – and their death sentences – were wrong. Mubarak was fighting “terror”, wasn’t he? On our behalf, I believe. For he was a “moderate”, a friend of the West, and maybe that’s why Mubarak’s sons, Gamal and Alaa, got off. Will they leave the country? Will they quit Egypt? No doubt.
So that’s the story. Let’s not mention Bashar al-Assad here. The Egyptian court was meant to be a lesson for him. Kofi Annan was down in Qatar, talking about the Syrian government’s sins yesterday. But, then, there are some problems, aren’t there? Didn’t Mubarak receive a few “renditioned” prisoners from George W Bush; tortured them, too, at Washington’s behest? And didn’t Damascus also torture a few “renditioned” prisoners – the name Arar comes to mind, a Canadian citizen, sent off from JFK for a touch of torture in the Syrian capital? Yes, our “moderate” Arabs were always ready to help us, weren’t they?
Read the rest at the link…and think about the nothing, everything quote.
Meanwhile, in Greece there have been some arrests involving recently elected MPs from the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, who were arrested over a racist attack.
Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, led by Nikos Michaloliakos, won 21 seats in last month’s election. Photograph: Petros Giannakouris/AP
Two newly elected MPs from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party were among six people arrested over an attack on a Pakistani man in Athens, in the latest in a series of incidents that have raised fears that Greece‘s immigrants are being targeted in the runup to this month’s crucial elections.
Ilias Panagiotaros and Ioannis Vouldis were briefly held alongside the daughter of Nikos Michaloliakos, Golden Dawn’s leader, but were later released. According to police, the attack took place late on Friday when a group involved in a protest turned on a 31-year-old Pakistani bypasser.
Golden Dawn confirmed two of its MPs had been held, but denied they took part in the attack. “[They] could not have been involved because they were miles away,”it said in a statement.
Golden Dawn caused consternation across Europe after winning 7% of the vote in Greece’s elections in May, giving them 21 seats. It is the first time the far right has sat in parliament since the fall of the military junta in 1974. With their neo-Nazi insignia, violent rhetoric and calls to expel Greece’s immigrants, Golden Dawn’s leaders are hoping to exploit political instability in Greece to gain further ground in elections called for 17 June after no party was able to form a government following last month’s vote.
This group ran disturbing ads prior to the first election,
…with the campaign slogan, “Let’s rid this country of the stench.” On election night Michaloliakos dedicated their success to “all the brave youngsters who wear black T-shirts with Golden Dawn written in white”. Unemployment in Greece now stands at at 22%, and 52% among young people, and the party has sought to capitalise on a mood of fear across a country that is struggling to come to terms with rising crime, falling living standards and a feeling that it is on the brink of economic and political meltdown.
Greece’s 1 million immigrants have become an easy target for neo-Nazi and other far-right groups, who regularly parade through Athens chanting racist slogans.
Connie mentioned this group in the comments a couple months ago when the Greek election results came in. I had no idea they were so “out there” with their hate. I mean, look at that campaign slogan…wait a minute, that sounds like something one of the GOP Border Patrol candidates would say.
Now, I am going to bring it back to the US…and another op/ed. This time from Charles M Blow in the New York Times. Darkness in the Sunshine State
Florida ought to know better. And must do better, particularly on the issue of voting and discrimination.
But, then again, we are talking about Florida, the state of Bush v. Gore infamy and the one that will celebrate the birthday of Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederacy, with a statewide holiday on Sunday.
What am I getting at? This: Few states in the union have done more in recent years to restrict and suppress voting — particularly by groups who lean Democratic, such as young people, the poor and minorities — than Florida.
Voter interference is very prevalent with the GOP, and it seems that the Dems aren’t speaking up loud enough against the purge going on in the Sunshine State. You are all well aware of the anniversary this past week, when Florida’s Democrat voters were disenfranchised by their own party.
I can’t quote the whole Blow op/ed, so again I will encourage you to read the entire post at the link above.
Some of what Blow touches on in his piece is the type of voter this tactical discrimination is aimed at, poorer minorities.
So, I think this next article about Income Inequality, Racism and Imprisonment sure seems to be a good follow-up to the Blow link. It has both the US rates and foreign country rates, but I will just quote the US ones.
Rates Increased in Unequal States.
The average rate of incarceration in the U.S. is 576 people in prison for every 100,000 people. Just as there are fewer persons per 100,000 in Japan (40 per 100K) who are in prison, there are differences between U.S. States in rates of imprisonment: Louisiana has an incredibly high rate, above 700 people per 100,000. Compare that to Minnesota, below 200 per 100,000. Maybe a difference of five or six times the percentage of people locked up between Louisiana and Minnesota. The chart below shows that these differences are correlated to income inequality differences in each State:
The article describes the way researchers came up with these graphs, but it also brings other things into the discussion.
Racism and Imprisonment.
TheSentencing Project graphs (see the bottom of page 4) show how the rate of incarceration for blacks is 6.70 times the number compared to the rate of incarceration of white people. The New Jim Crow book demonstrates how people of color are being persecuted and exterminated through the misuse and abuse of the U.S. courts and prison systems. The link to the Wikipedia summary is comprehensive and informative. Stop and Frisk laws routinely sweep communities of color, arresting and imprisoning urban youth from impoverished communities. The war on the poor and people of color in the U.S. make manifest the extreme income inequality and deprivation of the class system in the U.S.. Racism is the penultimate expression of the worst, most oppressive but essential dynamic of income inequality. The American imprisonment of people of color on a massive, genocidal scale is a direct outcome of a class based, extremely unequal society. In the U.S. a person of color is 6.04 times more likely to be in prison than a white person. In the courts, black youth are more likely to receive a harsher sentence than their white peers.
Again, I suggest going to the link and reading the whole thing. (And are you keeping that quote up top in the back of your mind…)
This next link is very personal…connected to me and my family. As you are all aware, my husband is a survivor of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. I completely disagree with the people below who feel that no mention should be made of the hijackers that flew the airliners into the Twin Towers. They must be made part of the museum, because truth must be told.
It seemed self-evident at the time: A museum devoted to documenting the events of Sept. 11, 2001, would have to include photographs of the hijackers who turned four passenger jets into missiles
. Then two and a half years ago, plans to use the pictures were made public.
The museum has not decided whether to include a composite of several tower floors and other materials that were crushed and fused together during the collapse of the World Trade Center.
New York City’s fire chief protested that such a display would “honor” the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center. A New York Post editorial called the idea “appalling.” Groups representing rescuers, survivors and victims’ families asked how anyone could even think of showing the faces of the men who killed their relatives, colleagues and friends.
The anger took some museum officials by surprise.
“You don’t create a museum about the Holocaust and not say that it was the Nazis who did it,” said Joseph Daniels, chief executive of the memorial and museum foundation.
This anger surprised me too.
James Estrin/The New York Times
The museum has not decided whether to include a composite of several tower floors and other materials that were crushed and fused together during the collapse of the World Trade Center.
Such are the exquisite sensitivities that surround every detail in the creation of the National September 11 Memorial Museum, which is being built on land that many revere as hallowed ground. During eight years of planning, every step has been muddied with contention. There have been bitter fights over the museum’s financing, which have delayed its opening until at least next year, as well as continuing arguments over its location, seven stories below ground; which relics should be exhibited; and where unidentified human remains should rest.
Even the souvenir key chains to be sold in the gift shop have become a focus of rancor.
But nothing has been more fraught than figuring out how to tell the story.
It is a very long article…like most of the links today, I hope you take the time to read it.
The “Tribute in Light” memorial is in remembrance of the events of September 11, 2001, in honor of the citizens who lost their lives in the World Trade Center attacks. The two towers of light are composed of two banks of high wattage spotlights that point straight up from a lot next to Ground Zero. The ÃTribute in LightÃ memorial was first held in March 2002. This photo was taken from Liberty State Park, New Jersey on September11, 2006, the five year anniversary of 9/11. USAF photo by Denise Gould.
My husband saw first hand the “body parts that littered lower Manhattan.” He smelled the death and burning for months after the buildings fell. The suit he wore to work that day is covered in dust…remains of those who were killed…remains of friends he saw everyday.
This is not something that should be portrayed with kid gloves. The horror of the attack must be shown for what it was. So many people have put that day out of their minds, and I think it is wrong to sugar coat the facts and hide the truth.
Yes, I get that the Memorial should be a solemn place for remembrance. I am not talking about that…I am talking about the Museum, which is something that needs to be frank in its representation of that day. Everything must be laid out.
The quote up top comes through my mind once again….with the museum that depicts the tragedy of that September day…What is it worth? Nothing…Everything.
Posted: May 27, 2012 Filed under: Congress, Domestic Policy, Festivities, GLBT Rights, House of Representatives, Human Rights, morning reads, Psychopaths in charge, religious extremists, Republican politics, science, Senate, the GOP, U.S. Politics, Voter Ignorance | Tags: Americans for Tax Fairness, Bush tax cuts, Charles Worley, Civil War, evolution, Florida, Gov. Rick Scott, History, John Waters, LBGT, Memorial Day, rich people, Sunlight Foundation, voter disenfranchisement
Memorial Day 1909, click image to see more vintage postcards.
This is a long weekend for many of you, and I hope that you all are enjoying it! Take care because it is during these weekends that bring about travel and water related fatalities.
Earlier this week, Boston Boomer mentioned something in a comment about the origin of Memorial Day. So I thought this link from the New York Times was interesting… Many Claim to Be Memorial Day Birthplace
James Rajotte for The New York Times
WATERLOO, N.Y.: OFFICIAL RECOGNITION Col. Lars Braun, who had just returned from 14 months in Iraq, in a Memorial Day parade in 2008 with his daughter, Rachel. In 1966, a presidential proclamation designated the town, in the Finger Lakes area, the official birthplace of Memorial Day.
Right on either side of Alabama, there are two places with the same name.
Like the one over in Mississippi, this Columbus was founded in the 1820s and sits just a few minutes from countryside in almost any way you drive.
Residents say it was here, in the years after the Civil War, that Memorial Day was born.
They say that in the other Columbus, too.
It does not take much for the historically curious in either town — like Richard Gardiner, a professor of teacher education at Columbus State University here — to explain why theirs is the true originator of a revered American holiday and why the other is well-meaning but simply misguided.
“I’m going to blame Memphis to some degree,” Professor Gardiner said, about which more later.
Oh boy, there is nothing like a good old-fashioned squabble about something that dates back to the Civil War.
The custom of strewing flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers has innumerable founders, going back perhaps beyond the horizon of recorded history, perhaps as far as war itself. But there is the ancient practice and there is Memorial Day, the specific holiday, arising from an order for the annual decoration of graves that was delivered in 1868 by Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a group made up of Union veterans of the Civil War.
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, roughly two dozen places claim to be the primary source of the holiday, an assertion found on plaques, on Web sites and in the dogged avowals of local historians across the country.
Yet each town seems to have different criteria: whether its ceremony was in fact the earliest to honor Civil War dead, or the first one that General Logan heard about, or the first one that conceived of a national, recurring day.
The article mentions several of the towns that claim being the first, but it focuses on two specific towns.
the claims of the two Columbuses, eyeing each other across Alabama, are among the more nuanced and possibly the most intertwined.
Columbus, Miss., was a hospital town, and in many cases a burial site, for both Union and Confederate casualties of Shiloh, brought in by the trainload. And it was in that Columbus where, at the initiation of four women who met in a 12-gabled house on North Fourth Street, a solemn procession was made to Friendship Cemetery on April 25, 1866.
As the story goes, one of the women spontaneously suggested that they decorate the graves of the Union as well as the Confederate dead, as each grave contained someone’s father, brother or son. A lawyer in Ithaca, N.Y., named Francis Miles Finch read about this reconciliatory gesture and wrote a poem about the ceremony in Columbus, “The Blue and the Gray,” which The Atlantic Monthly published in 1867.
“My view is it’s really the poem that inspired the nation,” said Rufus Ward, a retired district attorney, sitting in his basement and sipping a mint julep (his grandmother’s recipe, he said, the one she shared with Eudora Welty).
The Georgians dispute little of this. But they argue that the procession in the other Columbus was actually inspired by the events in their Columbus.
And what about Georgia’s Columbus?
…Professor Gardiner points to a local woman named Mary Ann Williams, who in the spring of 1866 wrote an open letter suggesting “a day be set apart annually” and become a “custom of the country” to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers.
That day, described as a national day, was chosen to be April 26, the anniversary of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender in North Carolina to Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army. The letter, or a summary of it, ran in newspapers all over the South, and as far west as St. Louis and as far north as New Hampshire, leading to widespread ceremonies on that day.
It also ran in the The Memphis Daily Avalanche on March 27, 1866. But the paper had the wrong date — April 25.
“This misprint right here is the difference between what you’ll hear in Columbus, Mississippi, and here,” Professor Gardiner said, concluding that the Memphis misprint traveled to the other Columbus. The Mississippi commemoration did take place a day earlier, he admitted, but they go too far in claiming they came up with it independently. “I just can’t — I don’t buy it.”
But this day set by Mary Ann Williams was only for the Confederate dead. And still to this day the south celebrates Confederate Day, our Banjoville courthouse is closed on that day.
However, according to Professor of History David W. Blight, Yale University…the event that brought about Memorial Day is…
…a mostly forgotten — or possibly suppressed — event in Charleston, S.C., in 1865 at a racetrack turned war prison. Black workmen properly reburied the Union dead that were found there, and on May 1, a cemetery dedication was held, attended by thousands of freed blacks who marched in procession around the track.
He has called that the first Memorial Day, as it predated most of the other contenders, though he said he has no evidence that it led to General Logan’s call for a national holiday.
“I’m much more interested in the meaning that’s being conveyed in that incredible ritual than who’s first,” he said.
I agree with Blight’s assessment too. The meaning of the day is what is most important.
So with that in mind, please take a moment today and remember all the soldiers who have died in the service of their country.
More news links after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 2, 2011 Filed under: hunger, Media, poverty | Tags: Florida, food stamps, Gov. Rick Scott, New Mexico, SNAP
This past Sunday the Food Stamp program, or SNAP as it is now called, turned 50. So to celebrate half a century of fighting hunger of poor families, Congress is trying to make cuts in SNAP funding and many states are passing new laws that truly make one wonder…is there a concerted effort by these GOP Governors and Representatives to starve the lower and poorer classes?
WTF is wrong with them?
Food stamp program turns 50 – News – Charleston Daily Mail – West Virginia News and Sports -
Actual stamps are a thing of the past. The federal government stopped issuing paper stamps in 2009. Recipients now use cards that are similar to credit and debit cards to complete their transactions.
“There is no such thing as a stereotypical welfare recipient. When you look at today’s SNAP recipients, they’re just hardworking families like you and I,” Harper said. “Just because someone is working does not mean they are not eligible for SNAP benefits.”
So at a time in our history, where more people are on food stamps than ever before, the powers that be are on the prowl and want to cut funding for these very essential programs.
According to this article from Huffington Post, the top 10 States That Rely The Most On Food Stamps:
10. South Carolina
8. West Virginia
4. New Mexico
As the article states:
Recent statistics from the USDA indicate that 14.2 percent of the U.S. population was using food stamps in February 2011, or around 44.2 million total, up from 33 million just two years before in 2009.
In 2006, the year before the financial crisis, 26.5 million people participated in the program, officially titled the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The increased rate of food stamp participation has led, in turn, to a significant increase in the amount of money SNAP spends on food benefits. In 2010, the total cost of food stamp redemption in the U.S. rose 29 percent from the previous year, totaling around $64 billion, according to the USDA’s 2010 annual report.
The Wall Street Journal has an interactive map and updated numbers for March. Share of Population on Food Stamps Grows in Most States – Real Time Economics – WSJ
After a temporary plateau in February, the number of Americans receiving food stamps ticked up again in March. Nearly 44.6 million received food stamps in March, up more than 11% from the same time a year ago, the Department of Agriculture said Tuesday.
The share of the population receiving food stamps nationwide has also risen as households struggle with high unemployment and stagnant wages. Some 14.4% of Americans relied on food stamps in March, up 1.4 percentage points from a year earlier.
All but three states reported a larger share of the population relying on food stamps compared to March 2010. And those states that saw the largest increases in recipiency were scattered across the country.
As I mentioned this week, Congress Mulls Cuts to Food Stamps Program Amid Record Number of Recipients – The Note
The Republicans’ 2012 budget plan proposes changing SNAP from an entitlement to a block-grant program that would be tailored for each individual state, much like their proposal for Medicaid. States would no longer receive open-ended subsidies and the aid would be contingent on work or job training. It would also limit funding for the program.
The president’s 2012 budget, however, goes in a completely opposite direction. It aims to make requirements less stringent by temporarily suspending for one year the time limit for certain age groups without dependents. The president also suggested restoring benefit cuts that were included in the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill last year.
Hopefully the Dems will fight for the people who need a voice in Washington…because as it is, the only sound heard in swamp land is the ka-ching of big money donors and that upper one percent.
If the GOP gets what they want, their Bill would also cut off Food Stamps To Entire Families If One Member Strikes | ThinkProgress
All around the country, right-wing legislators are asking middle class Americans to pay for budget deficits caused mainly by a recession caused by Wall Street; they are attacking workers’ collective bargaining rights, which has provoked a huge Main Street Movement to fight back. Now, a group of House Republicans is launching a new stealth attack against union workers.
However, one section buried deep within the bill adds a startling new requirement. The bill, if passed, would actually cut off all food stamp benefits to any family where one adult member is engaging in a strike against an employer.
This Food Stamp Reform is just the latest attack in the GOP’s War on Women.
With states struggling to make ends meet and gutting basic services for the poor like health care and unemployment payments in an effort to balance budgets, to think that they might reallocate these funds as well isn’t much of a stretch.
But not as examined is the fact that reallocating food stamp funds would disproportionately harm women.
As WomensENews reports:
If nutritional programs are left to the states it’s easy to predict who’ll win and that women, in particular, will lose out.
The children who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are roughly 50-50 boys and girls–not that there’s anything to celebrate in gender-equitable child hunger. Among adults, however, women dominate: 65 percent of SNAP participants are women.
There are 9.3 million non-elderly female adults helped by SNAP, compared to 5.3 million non-elderly male adults. Fully twice as many elderly women are in the program: 1.8 million compared to 0.9 million elderly men.
Households with children receive 76 percent of all benefits, and of these 33 percent are headed by a single parent. You can guess the sex of the vast majority of them. That’s right, women.
So what states are already cutting their food stamp funding, or passing laws that make it even more difficult to get supplements for those who need assistance?
New Mexico, which is number 4 on the list, will stop funding for the food stamp program because they have run out of money.
New Mexico ending food stamp supplement for elderly, disabled | The American Independent
The AP reports that the Human Services Department will stop the supplement on July 1 because there is no money in the state budget for the program. The program cost half a million dollars last fiscal year.
Just who will be affected by these cuts? According to this article from the Daily Journal: Daily Journal – NM proposes to eliminate food stamp supplements for low-income elderly, disabled
About 4,000 low-income elderly and disabled New Mexicans will see their food stamp benefits drop in July due to state budget cuts.
In New Mexico those who receive food stamps from the federal government get additional food stamps from the state.
Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration plans to end a state program that supplements federal food stamp benefits for the elderly and disabled to ensure they get at least $25 a month in assistance.
Unfortunately, the state did not approve of the funding…
…the Democratic-controlled Legislature provided no money to continue the supplemental benefits in the upcoming budget year, which starts July 1. The Martinez administration had requested $600,000 from the Legislature to continue the program.
Democratic controlled Legislature…Sad isn’t it?
In Florida, it is getting worse for those in need. As Dakinikat commented yesterday, Gov Scott is making Food Stamp recipients take drug test before receiving benefits. And by the way, he is making these poor people pay for that drug test…
Gov. Scott’s limited vision — or none at all – Michael Putney – MiamiHerald.com
Gov. Scott just had his “Mission Accomplished” moment. It happened in The Villages, a predominantly white, conservative, well-to-do retirement community in Central Florida.
Scott went there to sign the state’s $69.2 billion budget — and to announce his veto of $615 million in projects and programs he called “short-sighted, frivolous and wasteful spending.” You know, things like buying environmentally sensitive land, distributing free food to the poor, providing hot meals to the elderly, doing cancer research, restoring an old French rail car for an exhibit to show people how Jews were shipped off to the Nazi death camps. That kind of frivolous, wasteful stuff.
If you read the link above you can see how Scott kept the audience friendly to his announcement.
The budget, need we remind you, consists of taxes paid by all Floridians to run a government for all the people, regardless of party affiliation or no party at all. And yet anyone who showed up for the budget signing ceremony with an anti-Scott sign or even a button or lapel pin that hinted at disagreement was escorted away by local sheriff’s deputies. “Private event,” explained a Scott staffer. Turns out the Florida Republican Party had rented The Villages’ town square for the ceremony and got to decide who got in and who didn’t. About a dozen Democrats and other dissenters didn’t.
(This sly move by Scott is really a topic for another post.)
Anyway, back to the issue at hand: Fla. Gov. Scott signs welfare drug testing bill – Florida Wires – MiamiHerald.com
People applying for welfare benefits must pay for drug testing under a bill Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Tuesday.
If they pass, they’ll be reimbursed for the cost of the test. If they don’t, they won’t receive temporary government assistance.
“While there are certainly legitimate needs for public assistance, it is unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction,” Scott said in a press release issued after the signing. “This new law will encourage personal accountability and will help to prevent the misuse of tax dollars.”
So the ones who fail the drug test don’t get the assistance they need, but this new Florida Law is unconstitutional according to the ACLU: Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs law requiring welfare recipients to take drug test, ACLU objects
“The wasteful program created by this law subjects Floridians who are impacted by the economic downturn, as well as their families, to a humiliating search of their urine and body fluids without cause or even suspicion of drug abuse,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida.
“Searching the bodily fluids of those in need of assistance is a scientifically, fiscally, and constitutionally unsound policy. Today, that unsound policy is Florida law.”
The law, which will be enacted July 1, is likely to be challenged. A similar bill was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court in Michigan in 2003.
The latest information from CNN: Florida governor signs welfare drug-screen measure – CNN.com
Under the law, which takes effect on July 1, the Florida Department of Children and Family Services will be required to conduct the drug tests on adults applying to the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The aid recipients would be responsible for the cost of the screening, which they would recoup in their assistance if they qualify. Those who fail the required drug testing may designate another individual to receive the benefits on behalf of their children.
However, it looks like there is more to it than this blatant invasion of privacy.
Controversy over the measure was heightened by Scott’s past association with a company he co-founded that operates walk-in urgent care clinics in Florida and counts drug screening among the services it provides.
In April, Scott, who had transferred his ownership interest in Solantic Corp. to a trust in his wife’s name, said the company would not contract for state business, according to local media reports. He subsequently sold his majority stake in the company, local media reported.
At least in New Jersey, Unions are assisting workers of the Resorts Casino Hotel, who have recently experienced extreme pay cuts, sign up for Food Stamps. Union helps Resorts workers sign up for food stamps – Atlantic City News
Members of Atlantic City’s largest casino union will rally Thursday outside Resorts Casino Hotel to protest what labor officials claim are deep pay cuts imposed by the gaming hall’s new owners.
Ben Begleiter, a spokesman for Local 54 of UNITE-HERE, said 200 to 300 casino workers from across Atlantic City will gather on the Boardwalk at 5 p.m. in a show of solidarity. The union also will help Resorts’ workers sign up for food stamps.
And in California, the recent SCOTUS ruling may affect the state’s food stamp program, as a new bill comes forward to provide food stamp assistance to those prisoners that are being released.
Sandre Swanson bill would make nonviolent drug offenders eligible for food stamps – San Jose Mercury News
“Nearly 46,000 prisoners will soon be released into our communities,” Swanson said in a news release. “Whether you are happy with this or not, the fact is that the state is about to absorb a huge population of ex-felons and we must be realistic about how to support them and their families as they attempt to transition back into society. If a person’s most critical needs are not met when they re-enter society after serving time in prison, they won’t have the tools necessary for a successful and safe return. Without basic support, such as food, many of them will return to criminal activity and drug use instead of gainful employment and sobriety.”
The bill passed the state Assembly, 46 – 30. Now it moves on to the Senate.
Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, who sponsored the bill, says the people who would benefit from the change have paid their debt to society by serving their prison sentences. The Alameda Democrat hopes the legislation will reduce California’s prison recidivism rate.
What is most disturbing about the situation is the attitude towards those receiving SNAP by GOP politicians and right leaning media outlets. Here are a few examples. I was watching this first incident on the news when it happened live. It made me ill.
Fox News: Charles Payne Attacks Recipients of Anti-Poverty Food Programs?
In the 1960s, we had the War on Poverty. In 2011, we`re now seeing a War on People Who Live in Poverty.
One of the most callous examples of this occurred on – you guessed it – Fox News. Charles Payne, in a business segment, acknowledged that anti-poverty programs, food stamps and unemployment insurance were “good programs” but then went on to attack recipients of those programs.
“I think the real narrative here, though, is that people aren`t embarrassed by it,” Payne said. “People aren`t ashamed by it. In other words, there was a time when people were embarrassed to be on food stamps; there was a time when people were embarrassed to be on unemployment for six months, let alone demanding to be on for more than two years…No longer is the man being told to look in the mirror and cast down a judgment on himself; it`s someone else`s fault. So food stamps, unemployment, all this stuff, is something that they probably earned in some indirect way.”
Stuart Varney went on to describe food stamps as a form of ” income redistribution” as this article from Media Matters states: Fox Business Rebukes Poor People For Not Being Ashamed Of Their Poverty | Media Matters for America
Varney bemoaned “all these people on food stamps,” Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit and unemployment insurance as “a form of welfare, income redistribution” and “entitlement mentality.”
The MM article sites a recent study that shows how important these programs are.
Varney’s attack on these programs came just as a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research showed just how essential these and other government programs are to keeping tens of millions of Americans out of poverty. Arloc Sherman of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted that “public programs keep one in six Americans out of poverty — primarily the elderly, disabled, and working poor — and that the poverty rate would double without these programs.”
Of course, Varney and Payne aren’t the only ones at Fox pushing the idea that food stamp recipients are lazy. Policy Experts Rebut Stossel’s Claim That Increased Use Of Food Stamps Is Due To Learned Dependency | Media Matters for America
Fox Business host John Stossel absurdly claimed that a recent uptick in food stamps usage “suggests that we are teaching people to be dependent.”
Stossel goes on to say…
“I mean, poor people in America have an obesity problem and yet we give more people food stamps.”
Media Matters points out that Stossel’s statements are very close to the words used by Paul Ryan in his Republican Response to Obama’s SOTU address back in January:
“This is a future in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency.”
According to Dottie Rosenbaum, senior policy analyst for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) is “the nation’s most important anti-hunger program” and that it largely benefits families with children. According to Rosenbaum, “By design, enrollment expands quickly during economic downturns as poverty rises, unemployment mounts, and more people need assistance [sic] Enrollment then falls as the economy recovers and need abates.”
Seems like common sense to me. I just don’t know if common sense is really what these politicians and pundits lack, I think it is more a lack of compassion that is motivating these people. Some sort of sadistic nature that brings them enjoyment and pleasure in hurting those in need. Like a bug being squashed under a big shoe, the poor are being rubbed out by the ideals and family values of the GOP. We all see it, that smile of satisfaction on their faces as they hear the sound of the crunching beneath their feet.
Cruelty is the word that comes to mind. There is just no other way to describe it. All it leaves me with is a feeling of hopelessness…like my feet are stuck in cement, and the GOP and DINOs are driving the steam roller towards me. Can you hear it? Crunch. The sound of millions of Americans being systematically mushed by the soles of those sadistic shoes.