Friday Reads

Farmer-Seed-Co-1906Good Morning!

I want to talk about the Farm bill that didn’t get through the House yesterday mostly because it is such a good example of the clusterfuck that happens whenever the Republican party tries to do anything these days.  The Granola party is full of fruits, nuts and flakes and it all came into play on the votes in this bill.  Most farm states are Republican and most rural areas vote Republican.  I wonder how this will play in the farm belt states.

The surprise defeat of the farm bill in the House on Thursday underscored the ideological divide between the more conservative, antispending Republican lawmakers and their leadership, who failed to garner sufficient votes from their caucus as well as from Democrats.

The vote against the bill, 234 to 195, comes a year after House leaders pulled the measure off the calendar because conservative lawmakers demanded deeper cuts in the food stamp program and Democrats objected. This year’s measure called for more significant cuts than the Senate bill, but it still did not go far enough to get a majority in the House to support an overhaul of the nation’s food and farm programs. Sixty-two Republicans, or more than a quarter of the caucus, voted with Democrats to defeat the bill.

The failure was a stinging defeat for Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, who continues to have trouble marshaling the Republican support he needs to pass major legislation. Without the solid backing of his party, Mr. Boehner has to rely on some Democratic support, which deserted him Thursday.

Mr. Boehner was unable to secure the votes of a number of recently elected and strongly conservative lawmakers who were averse to cutting deals on legislation like the farm bill. Traditionally, the farm bill has passed easily with support from urban lawmakers concerned with nutrition spending and rural members focused on farm programs. But conservatives said they were more driven by a desire to shrink the size of government through spending cuts, not expand it though crop insurance subsides to rich farmers.

Republican wingnuttia was on full display.

Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Thursday denied it was “evil” for Republicans to want to cut food stamps because poor people used the program to purchase extravagant foods.

The Texas congressman complained that Democrats had portrayed Republicans as evil because they supported a measure to cut nearly 2 million low-income people off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which would mainly impact working families with children.

On the other hand, Gohmert said, poor people were using food stamps to buy food that other Americans could not afford. He claimed his “broken-hearted” constituents had repeatedly told him they had seen people use food stamps to buy king crab legs.

“Because he does pay income tax, he doesn’t get more back than he pays in, he is actually helping pay for king crab legs when he can’t pay for them for himself,” Gohmert explained.

“How can you begrudge somebody who feels that way,” he added. “How can you begrudge anyone who steps up on behalf of constituents who feel that way. We don’t want anyone to go hungry, and from the amount of obesity in this country by people who we’re told do not have enough to eat, it does seem like we could have a debate about this issue without allegations about wanting to slap down or starve children.”

The average monthly SNAP benefit for one person is $133.44.

This is kind’ve a weird situation because this farm bill replaced a strange 1944 farm bill that would go back into law.  Here’s another tale of vintage_children_waving_to_local_farmer_on_tractor_poster-re4dbd0d6dc8a42e9ba47fa76364fd4fa_az0bt_8byvr_512Republican crazy.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a conservative charged with whipping GOP votes for the bill, was surprised by the number of GOP defections.

“I was surprised by about half of them,” he said. “I thought they would have taken more of a 10,000 foot view. We are ending direct payments in this bill, we are starting to reveres the obscene growth of the food stamp program.”

King blamed key vote alerts from Heritage Action and Club for Growth for hurting the bill and also acknowledged that the Boehner-backed dairy amendment and Southerland food stamp work requirement cost key Democratic support.

King said that the path forward is unclear.

“There is going to be a staring contest now because unless Congress acts the 1949 farm bill goes back into effect,” he said.

The 1949 law contains archaic farm subsidy supports seen as unworkable in today’s world. Currently, rural America is using the 2008 farm bill which was retroactively extended in the New Year’s fiscal cliff deal. It expires Sept. 30.

Democrats have blasted the $20.5 billion in food stamp cuts all week as cruel, while Republicans said more cuts are needed to eliminate fraud and ensure people aren’t becoming dependent on the program.

“[W]hen we see the expansion of the dependency class in America, and you add this to the 79 other means-tested welfare programs that we have in the United States … each time you add another brick to that wall, it’s a barrier to people that might go out and succeed,” King said during Wednesday’s debate.

Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) offered an amendment to restore the cuts, which was rejected in a 188-234 vote.

“It always is a wonderment to me, that in this, the greatest country that ever existed in the history of the world, that one in four or one in five children goes to sleep hungry at night,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said just before that vote, in an effort to encourage the additional funding.

Yes, because letting children starve is just so pro-life!!!

WHO has released a report showing that violence against women is a global “crisis of epidemic proportion”.

According to  statistics released Thursday by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one in three women around the world have been raped or physically abused; 80 percent of this abuse happens in the home at the hands of an intimate partner or spouse.

The report represents the first “systematic study of global data on the prevalence of violence against women,” according to a release from the organization.

In addition to statistics revealing epidemic levels of violence affecting women and girls in countries across the globe, the report also details the impact of violence on their physical and mental health, ranging from death and serious injury to depression, substance abuse, increased vulnerability to sexually transmitted infections and other negative health outcomes.

“This new data shows that violence against women is extremely common. We urgently need to invest in prevention to address the underlying causes of this global women’s health problem.” Professor Charlotte Watts, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in a statement.

womens land armyHere is an interesting article in The Nation by Jessica Valenti on “The Peeping Press” and how women fare under the gaze of a male media.

There comes a point in most women’s lives when you realize that you’re perceived as public property. Maybe it’s the first time you’re catcalled, or maybe it’s when a teacher tells you to cover up. The experience can come in an infinite number of iterations; the only sure thing is that the first time is never the last time. Walking around in a female body means you are constantly reminded that your value exists in the way that other people—men, especially—look at you.

Stranger still, this being noticed or touched or commented upon is framed as a compliment—it’s not enough that women are meant to endure the neverending objectification, we’re actually supposed to enjoy it. Women are taught to be eager to please not just in our demeanor but in our appearance, and everyday harassment is presented as friendly conversation: “Why don’t you smile?!”

Recently it occured to me that the expectation that women enjoy male attention in all forms may be behind the many unfortunate media profiles of influential women. Whether a rocket scientist’s beef stroganoff or a White House counsel’s high heels—when it comes to covering successful women, the media prefers palatable over powerful. Articles like these are not always written by men, but they always seem to be written for them.

The most recent—and perhaps one of the most egregious—example comes from the Daily Beast, where the site’s first piece on President Obama’s pick for CIA deputy director Avril Danica Haines is headlined: “New CIA #2 Pick Used to Read Anne Rice Aloud at Her Bookstore’s Erotica Night.”

The article’s premise alone is sexist—would the racy reading habits of a male appointee ever be fodder?—but the content is even worse. A neighbor is interviewed about Haines, “reminiscing about when when she would rehab her apartment in ‘jeans or a pair of shorts’” and reporters Ben Jacobs and Avi Zenilman inexplicably include an explicit Anne Rice excerpt that Haines may have read. They paint a picture that rivals Penthouse Forum …

So, I found this vintage poster about the Women’s Land Army looking for vintage prints of women farmers.  I had never heard of it before until now.

The Women’s Land Army played a fundamental role in Britain during World War Two. The Women’s Land Army helped to provide Britain with food at a time when U-boats were destroying many merchant ships bringing supplies to Britain from America.

The Women’s Land Army was first created during World War One. This was an era when a great deal of farm work was done by men. With so many young men called up for the armed services, there was a real gap in farm workers. Hence, the government called on women to fill this gap. The same situation arose in World War Two – home grown food was needed and the men were not there to harvest it. Hence why the government resurrected the WLA.

The women in the WLA did all the jobs that were required to make a farm function normally – threshing, ploughing, tractor driving, reclaiming land, drainage etc. Their wages were set by the Agricultural Wages Board. The wage for someone in the WLA over the age of 18 was £1 12 pence a week after deductions had been made for lodgings and food. There was an agreed maximum working week – 50 hours in the summer and 48 hours in the winter. A normal week would consist of five and a half days working with Saturday afternoon and Sunday off. Along with their weekly pay, all members of the WLA who was posted more than 20 miles from their home would receive a free rail warrant for a visit home every six months. However, their pay came from the farmers themselves and there is evidence that WLA members were paid less than the accepted rate by some farmers who tended to overcharge for accommodation and food. Also during harvest time, many WLA members worked from dawn to dusk and easily eclipsed their 50 hour week.

There’s a documentary about these ladies at the BBC if you’re interested in learning more about them.

I volunteered for the women’s Land Army aged nineteen. I had read in the newspaper ten thousand women were urgently needed to work on the land. I wrote off. I was suprised to find I had to go to Oxford street for my interview. I sat in front of this lady, with what I called five pound note voice. She wore a beautiful silk dress, a silk scarf and she twirled a gold pencil continuosly in her long fingers, as she fired a barrage of questions at me. She wanted to know if I thought it was all feeding chickens with lovely weather. I responded, ‘I have been hop picking you know, since the age of three’. She jumped back as if I had fleas. That did not impress her at all. I left the interview thinking, ‘Thats that’. I felt elated when i recieved a letter to say I has been accepted and I had to go from Liverpool Street Station to Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.

Now the next worrying hurdle was to tell mum and dad this news. dad hit the ceiling in anger, asked what i was thinking of doing leaving the family? In those days nobody left home. Families looked after each other. I said ‘But there’s a war on Dad, I want to go’. I explained, for a 48 hour week I would get one shilling (5p) per hour. Money was always important to my dad, because money was very thin on the ground, always. I continued, out of that I would pay twenty five shillings for my billet. Another explosion from Dad. Mum looked very unhappy.

So, with misery on the one hand and a feeling of quiet excitement on the other I looked forward to going to Clacton-on-Sea, my first visit ever. A big change, having spent most of my life living in one room with my mum, dad and brothers.

The start for me in october 1941 was the beginning of a chapter recalled as the happiest days of my life because there was a purpose served, growing food for Great Britain, where food was rationed, to two onces of cheese per week.

I guess the common thread here is that it is we have extremely odd priorities these days.  Women are still objects.  Live children can starve but brain dead fetuses are sacred. So, subsidizing farmers to not grow anything or grow stuff we don’t need is okay.  Feeding children and old people is a waste.  I continue to be confused.  I guess that crazy men still run the world.  I guess we’ll see all that crap stirred up all over the place again if and when Hillary runs again.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


13 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. Great post Dak, talk about objectified meets produce, did you notice the picture I used last night? It is an image from a produce company from the 30’s.

    The SNAP cuts are beyond ridiculous, like you said PLUB mentality…I just don’t “get it.”

    Right-wing aide: Food stamp cuts are OK because I ‘saved money’ living on them | The Raw Story

    Donny Ferguson (no relation to this reporter), an aide to outspoken right-wing congressman Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) claims that people who say that the Special Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps, isn’t enough to live on are lying and that the program should be cut even further. Think Progress flagged a Stockman press release in which Ferguson said he believed that the weekly allotment of food for one person of $31.50 is too generous because he claims was able to purchase a week’s worth of food for $27.58.

    “I wanted to personally experience the effects of the proposed cuts to food stamps. I didn’t plan ahead or buy strategically, I just saw the publicity stunt and made a snap decision to drive down the street and try it myself,” Ferguson said in the release. “I put my money where my mouth is, and the proposed food stamp cuts are still quite filling.”

    Ferguson was reacting to the “SNAP Challenge,” in which Democratic legislators and activists are protesting proposed cuts to the newest Farm Bill, which would slash benefits to people on SNAP. To protest the cuts, people taking the challenge will attempt to live for a week on the amount of food money allotted to people who receive SNAP benefits, $31.50 a week, or $4.50 per day.

    Stockman’s office called the challenge “a left-wing publicity stunt” and claimed “Democrats have been intentionally buying overpriced food and shopping at high-priced chains to make it appear the cuts go too far.”

    With his $27.58, Ferguson purchased:

    Two boxes of Honeycomb cereal
    Three cans of red beans and rice
    Jar of peanut butter
    Bottle of grape jelly
    Loaf of whole wheat bread
    Two cans of refried beans
    Box of spaghetti
    Large can of pasta sauce
    Two liters of root beer
    Large box of popsicles
    24 servings of Wyler’s fruit drink mix
    Eight cups of applesauce
    Bag of pinto beans
    Bag of rice
    Bag of cookies
    Gallon milk
    Box of instant oatmeal

    While a person could presumably stay alive on this grocery list, it is notably missing any fresh (or even frozen) fruits and vegetables whatsoever. The list leans heavily on starches and empty calories like heavily sweetened breakfast cereals, cookies, popsicles and sugary sodas and drinks, demonstrating, whether Ferguson intended to or not, a major cause of the array of chronic health problems faced by poor people in the U.S. including obesity and Type II diabetes.

    The list contains no chicken, fish or other meats, not even a can of tuna or a cheap pound of fatty bacon. The U.S. Department of Agriculture released figures in April demonstrating that to meet even the most minimal standards of nutrition, an adult male between 19 and 50 years of age needs at least $42 to stay fed for a week.

  2. Allie says:

    Wow that grocery list!!!!!!!!! No eggs or flour either. And what’s he going to put on all that rice? Grape jelly and pinto beans? LOL

    Re: Land Girls – there is also a 5-part dramatic series by that name you can stream from Netflix. Sort of a pot-boiler but fun.

  3. Fannie says:

    Sky dancers the drinks are on me………………….she gone, STELLA (NH) is a goner.

  4. Delphyne49 says:

    This is a great post, Kat – I really liked learning about the Women’s Land Army. We need something like that now, organized and run by women to combat Monsanto and the rest of the pillaging and raping multinational corporations. And instead of those old uniforms, we can wear whatever we want, being identified with an official “patch” of the goddess of our choice. I’m thinking one of the Gorgons for myself! 🙂

    The day-to-day uniform of a WLA worker consisted of brown corduroy or whipcord breeches, brown brogues, fawn knee-length woollen socks, a green v-necked pullover, a fawn shirt and a brown cowboy style hat. For special occasions, WLA members wore their service uniforms as in the above photograph. When working, many members of the WLA adapted their working uniform to suit themselves. In the summer, the breeches frequently became shorts.

  5. prolixous says:

    Louie Gohmert couldn’t tell the truth even if it depended on the life of the sheep he sleeps with. Just checked spot market prices for King Crab — lowest $20 — highest about $30, so let’s pick $25/lb. That’s a grandiose maybe 5 pounds of crab leg for the month — yeah, Gomer, I bet.

    The thing that sends me around the bend on the Republican argument is that everyone’s eating so good we are obese as a nation. That is the favorite of drive-by lobotomy clinic customers like Gomer.

    The farm bill is really a corporate sop program for agribusiness and the price support system for sugar, corn, and all the crops that are nothing more than the fodder for processed, obesity creating, cheap foods.

    So the perfect hamster wheel is created — plow money into the multinational, gazillion dollar agri-corporations for price supports for unhealthy sugar and corn, call the poor fat because they have to buy cheap calorie foods because they only get $133/month, then use it as a reason for cuts to the SNAP program while keeping the supports for the agri-corps. A perfect symbiotic relationship for the Romney/Koch/Adelson/Pete Peterson crowd.

    Look at that fool’s grocery list — not a fruit or vegetable to be seen — calories are cheap, nutrition is expensive.