The Ebenezer Scrooge Awards of 2013

November 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

We now have a handy test for establishing a meanness quotient for members of Congress.  A large contingent of our elected officials have emerged from behind their occasional claims of concern for the general welfare of their fellow citizens.  The rising political power of the Tea Party has apparently encouraged these class warriors to cast aside any shyness about the identity of their enemy and call a spade a spade.  They have decided to stop coddling the men, women and children of this country who want to eat without working.  Their enemies are Americans who are poor.

To graphically illustrate just how these poverty stricken families are luxuriating at the expense of the taxpayers, here is a link to a list of the benefits they now enjoy.   SNAP benefits   These Enenezer Scrooge Award winners, worthy successors to Ronald Reagan and Mitt Romney, are offended that a family of four can receive $668 to buy food for a month without working.  They have identified that as prime target for the elimination of “waste and abuse”.

So  they can be appropriately recognized for their patriotic nobility and fiscal responsibility, here  is a link to a list of the Congressmen who voted to cut 40 billion dollars from the SNAP program.  Ebenezer Scrooges   Every single one of them is entitled to that recognition.   And, as a bonus, this test has a sub-test:  Every voter who chooses to vote for them over any opponent, unless they are running against a child-molesting ax murderer,  is also entitled to the Ebenezer Scrooge Auxiliary Award.

The demographic makeup of those who receive food stamps is interesting.  They way the data is presented is also interesting.  For example, the Pew Research firm published this breakdown, stated as percentages.  Pew Report  The percentages appear to reflect that blacks are the largest recipient group.

Here are a series of charts posted by a blogger that show that more whites than blacks receive food stamps.  This is an example of how misleading percentages can be.  The difference, of course, is that there are many more whites than blacks in the total population.  The second series of charts are based on percentages of the total population.  The Pew percentages are percentages of the different segments of that population.

I know you all understand this and I don’t mean to be condescending.  I just find these arithmetic games cropping up frequently in political rhetoric and this is a good example.

Finally, with some sadness, I add the following comment.

The way this abomination began was with the stupid sequester deal.  Our leader and his advisers assumed that if they loaded enough stupid, unfair and irrational items into a bomb timed to go off if the Congress failed to come up with a more rational and fair deal, it would force the negotiation of a rational and fair deal.


There has been no deal and the prospects of one seems to me unlikely unless the advocates for economic justice cave once again.   It does not look like that will happen.  And, Paul Ryan is the lead negotiator for the Scrooge/Crazy/Ayn Rand coalition.  So, the first part of the sequester bomb exploded this week and those depending on food stamps to avoid starvation saw their pittance shrink.

So, who is to blame?  Those who have no compassion or those who have compassion but were willing to bet the welfare of poor families that a fair deal could be negotiated with heartless politicians?  Poker players know better than to bet the rent money, especially on filling an inside straight.   Obama has not proved to be a very good judge of the other players in his political game.


The Dog Whistle

September 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

I haven’t been able to attend to this blog for the past month because my Beverly has been in the hospital and I have no energy to spare.  I have some ideas that I have composed in my brain, but they will have to wait until later.

Today’s issue du jour is “redistribution”.  The solemn discussions of this term, attributed to Obama in a 1990’s speech strike me as humorous, like Jonathan Swift’s Grand Academy of Lagado on the island of Laputa, where learned men analyzed the excrement of suspicious persons.

It is obvious to any thoughtful, or even semi-thoughtful person, that any sizable government must fund its activities by some form of taxation; and taxation’s proper use is to fund those activities or, to state it another way:  to redistribute money from taxpayers to those who benefit, directly or indirectly, from the activities of government.

Of course, Romney understands this as well as I do.  What he is plainly trying to do is to convey a message to the bigots and self-centered greed-driven voters who comprise his “base” that Obama will take their money and hand it over to the lazy, no-account moochers and bums on whom he relies for political support.  It is merely a “new and improved” version of what he told his fifty-grand-a-plate fellow plutocrats in Florida last May.

In this dog-whistle sense, the tactic is not funny.  It is a sad appeal to the fearful rich,  forever terrified that those whom they exploit will seize power and threaten their wealth.  It is this year’s version of the fear of a slave revolt that roiled the sleep of southern slave-holders in the 18th and 19th centuries. It also, to be fair, sends the same signal to some of the white bourgeoise who, oblivious of how absurd and pitiful their fear-based selfishness is, fancy themselves victims of government’s obligation to offer help to their fellow citizens who do, as Romney said, believe that, as citizens of the richest country in the world, having invested their lives and efforts in making that a fact, they should not be abandoned to die untended, starve and live under bridges.

The effort of the Romney campaign to convert this harmless word into an epithet has a hilarious political history.  I cannot remember the details, but I think similar tricks on gullible voters are part of the folklore of Texas politics.  I remember hearing tales of some candidate regaling an East Texas small-town audience with a shocked tone accusation that his opponent had “actually MATRICULATED when he was in college!”  A few-minutes online search revealed that similar jokes on unsuspecting voters have  been used with great effect in other states.  Here is a quote from one source, describing how George Smathers defeated Claude Pepper in Florida by appealing to the ignorance of voters as follows:

“In the game of politics, successful attacks cloaked in humor are known as ‘killers.’   The all-time masterpiece is a legendary leaflet supposedly devised by Florida Congressman George Smathers to defeat Sen. Claude Pepper in 1950.

It was delivered to rural Floridians and was said to be a significant factor in Smathers’ victory:

‘Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert?
‘Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law.
‘And he has a sister who once was a thespian in Greenwich Village.
‘He has a brother who was a practicing homo sapiens.
‘And he went to college where he matriculated with coeds.
‘Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, practiced celibacy”

If I were managing the Obama campaign, I would tell him to treat this accusation as a joke and further evidence that Romney regards voters as too dumb to understand simple facts about government.

Finally, I can’t resist repeating this nugget from the website where I found the above quote:  During the reign of Richard Nixon, some wag made the following remark about his Attorney General:

“A widely quoted remark of unknown origin about John Mitchell, Nixon’s Attorney General, was: ‘When you first meet him, he may seem cold on the surface. But when you get to know him better you realize that’s only the tip of the ice-berg.'”

Contrary to David Brooks’ recent column about Romney’s taped comments about the “47%”, I think this remark about Mitchell fits Romney like a glove.

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