June 30, 2007

Coloradoan Issues a Real Food Challenge; Denver Media Run for Cover

Those following the histrionics of “The Food Stamp Challenge” (previous NewsBusters posts here, here, and here; previous BizzyBlog posts here, here, and here) know that:

  • Most of those engaging in it claim that the average Food Stamp recipient “only has $21 per person per week to buy food.”
  • The fact is that the program’s monthly benefits (often referred to “Allotments”; scroll to the bottom for the monthly benefit table), when converted to weekly, range from $26.81 – $35.67 per person per week, depending on family size:
  • Benefits are reduced for many recipients, on the whole to the national average of $21, because other available resources (e.g., income from work and other sources) are considered in the program’s benefit formulas.
  • Therefore, the Challenge’s fundamental claim that recipients “only have $21 per person per week to buy food” is demonstrably false.
  • Local, regional, and national Old Media outlets all the way “up” to the Washington Post have been duped, and in turn have duped readers, into believing that Food Stamp families “only have $21 per person per week to buy food.”

Despite the fact that he and his family could prove their point by getting by on the higher Allotments the Food Stamp Program allows, Coloradoan Ari Armstrong of The Colorado Freedom Report, in issuing his a counter-challenge known as “The Serious Food Economy Challenge,” is promising that his family will live on the artificially low and misreported $21 per person per week. What’s more, unlike the poseurs making a show of how difficult it is to stay within that $21 for one week, Armstrong, starting on August 1, promises that his family will stay within that $21 per person per week — for a full six months.

Armstrong writes:

“The argument that the food stamp budget should be increased because it’s impossible to eat nutritiously on $3 or $3.57 per person per day is fallacious. And my wife and I are prepared to prove it. All we ask for our trouble is that the advocates of more tax spending for food stamps agree to fund the nonprofit of our choice once we prove them wrong.”

Armstrong has imposed a number of restrictions on himself and his family to prevent objectors from accusing him of playing games or of accomplishing something that is not practical. Among them:

  • He will attempt to record the approximate time spent shopping and preparing meals, in order to forestall the excuse that the exercise would be too time consuming for most people.
  • The family will “will not accept any free food, except that they may host dinner parties in exchange for attending dinner parties later with the guests on a one-for-one basis, attend dinner parties at which each guest brings a comparable amount of food, and eat Thanksgiving and Christmas meals with friends and/or relatives.”
  • To forestall complaints that they are taking advantage of something that many of the poor would not have access to, they won’t buy food at Costco, even though they are members.
  • In what some might consider the ultimate sacrifice, they “will not drink any beer or wine outside of the alloted budget, because those drinks contain significant calories” that might be seen as substitutes for food calories.

Armstrong challenged those who must clearly believe that what he and his family are attempting cannot be done, including local math-averse Denver Post reporters (who multiplied $3 by 7 and got $25 in this article), to put their money where their faux-starving mouths are:

Following the six-month period, if the Armstrongs have spent less than $1,080 on food, those who agreed to fund the challenge must contribute $10 to the nonprofit of the Armstrongs’ choice for every $1 that the Armstrongs have saved out of the total budget. If more than that amount has been promised, the total contribution will be split among all those who have promised a contribution, in proportion to the maximum contributions specified. The contributors must then send a check directly to the nonprofit specified no later than February 29, 2008.

Post reporters are among the legions in Old Media who have swallowed the premise of the original Food Stamp Challenge whole. Reported Bill Scanlon some even chronicled his attempts at staying within the incorrectly calculated $25 at his blog.

Armstrong sent an op-ed to the Post to issue his Serious Food Economy Challenge, also sending separate e-mails to a number of reporters and each member of the Post’s editorial board. The op-ed was rejected. Armstrong notes that only one reporter responded, indicating that she wouldn’t take up his challenge.

Though some elements of Armstrong’s Challenge are not crystal clear to me (e.g., what is his penalty if his family goes over the self-imposed $1,080 limit for his family of three during the six months?), it is interesting that the Post is summarily rejecting the claim of a taxpayer that Food Stamp benefits are sufficient to meet poor families’ needs and is willing to prove it, while blindly accepting the notion that benefits are inadequate from politicians who would clearly benefit if they could in effect buy votes by being seen as “leaders” in expanding the program.

Armstrong’s is a Challenge that bears watching.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Sherrod Brown, and His Changed Immigration-Bill Vote of Little Renown

Filed under: Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:40 am

I went to Sherrod Brown’s US Senate web site to get an explanation for why he changed his vote on immigration-bill cloture to “no” on Thursday after a “yes” on Tuesday, and a “yes” a few weeks ago.

The senator’s home page gave early indications that I might not get an answer:






Nearly eight months since his election and six months into his term, Sherrod Brown’s Contact page still shows only Washington and Cleveland office contact info; he is apparently still “in the process” of serving the rest of the state. Perhaps setting up an office across the hall from George Soros (scroll down to see family contributions) has taken higher precedence.

Back to Brown’s immigration votes. Visiting the Senator’s Newsroom page wasn’t very helpful:


Since the senator apparently hasn’t felt compelled to officially explain himself, perhaps Old Media got something from him. Here is what the Cincinnati Enquirer reported in a story that also gives credit to Cox News Service:

Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio: “I was deeply concerned about the impact of the bill’s guest worker provisions on Ohio wages and working conditions, and the provision that would separate families.”

Nice try, guy. No sale.

The fact is that there was no meaningful change in the bill between Tuesday and Thursday that affected guest worker provisions or family togetherness. Brown’s “answer,” while not as duplicitous as George Voinovich’s was, is still a non-answer.

Brown appears to be getting no heat for his sudden switch. Or if it exists, it’s well-hidden. A search on “Sherrod Brown” at Daily Kos (no quotes needed for a multiple-word search) shows nothing more recent about Brown than mid-May. In fact, the Leftroots’ apathy on the issue is an interesting thing to see, with very few Daily Kos “immigration” items in the past week.

Brown’s “explanation” is every bit as weak as George Voinvich’s. In fact, given his consistent poor ratings from immigration watchdog groups (0% from FAIR — scroll down a bit; career D- and recent D from Americans for Better Immigration; Voinovich’s ratings with ABI are D and D), and Ted Kennedy’s passionate advocacy of the bill, one might expect Brown’s vote to be generating a great deal of outrage. Why not? Could this be one of those “you have to fool ‘em” votes that leftists forgive?


UPDATE: In this Cincinnati Enquirer article on June 13, there was this:

“The Senate failed in its duty,” said Pam Dixon, with Cincinnati Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

At least, she said in a Tuesday conference call with news media, Ohio Republican Sen. George Voinovich and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown “had the courage to vote yes” to end debate. The Senate attempt to bring the bill to a final vote failed 45 to 50. Senate Republicans wanted more changes in a 326-page bill they consider deeply flawed.

So what’s your take on Brown’s and Voinovich’s “courage” today, Pam? How does it feel to be thrown away like yesterday’s newspaper?

George Voinovich’s Cosmic/Comic Post-Immigration Vote Press Release

Filed under: Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:01 am

The Voinovich press release reads as follows:



June 28, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH) today released the following statement after voting against cloture on the Senate immigration bill. The voted failed 46 to 53:

“I want an immigration bill that secures our borders, revises and updates our current laws to respond to our economic needs and brings the 12 million illegal aliens in our country out of the shadows. I am not convinced that this legislation meets those criteria. As ranking member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia, I have concerns regarding how all the provisions in this bill could practically be implemented by the Department of Homeland Security. I also think it’s important that we respond to concerns raised about the bill by the American public.”
(end of press release)


Uh ….. there’s a big problem with this.

Allow me to repeat what was reported here Wednesday (“Voinovich’s Sham Indecision”):

My source tells me that Mr. Voinovich addressed a group of prominent Ohio Republicans on what I believe was a teleconference call either over this previous weekend or just before that.

Here is what I am being told:

  • Voinovich spent some time attempting to sell the audience on the merits of the immigration bill (I’m told those involved were mostly not buying).
  • Voinovich said (quoting my source, not directly quoting Voinovich) that “if the people knew what the ‘real’ bill says rather than listening to talk radio then they would support it,” and that talk radio was on (a) “hatchet campaign.”

I have confirmed with my source that Mr. Voinovich had his mind made up and gave last week’s GOP-insider audience a very clear indication that he was going to vote for the bill — with none of the squishy “let’s look at the amendments” stuff that he was putting out through his staff earlier in the week or that he tried to pass off to talk radio’s second-largest audience during his disastrous Wednesday interview (Hot Air audio; BizzyBlog post) with Sean Hannity.

My source asked one of the insiders whether Mr. Voinovich’s statement in the press release contradicts what he told the insiders late last week. The answer was, in essence, “Yes. Totally.”

Draw your own conclusions.

Positivity: Athlete Lost Her Leg at 20, Still Competes

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:48 am

From Rockford, Michigan:

June 4, 2007

ROCKFORD, Mich. — “Are you ready, ladies?” Valerie Wallace calls out to her exercise class. “I have a lot of fun planned for you today.”

She grins. They groan.

“It’s because I love you,” Wallace says, turning on the music and launching into her litany of bend those knees, drop those hips, shoulder blades back, press across.

“Hey, Barb, do you ski?” she asks one of her students as they stretch and sweat. Barb does. “Do you want to teach ski lessons to the disabled? It’s two hours a week at Cannonsburg.”

Wallace skis, but most of her right leg is titanium. Her high-tech computerized knee can think faster than you can.

It’s the first artificial leg that’s been able to keep up with her.

Wallace, 46, coaches the girls’ junior varsity tennis team at Rockford High School, heads much of the Rockford band’s fundraising, teaches exercise classes at Champion Fitness in Rockford, mentors new amputees at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, has a sewing business and is active in the Grand Rapids Wheelchair Sports Association.

People always say how cheerful she is. The word “bubbly” keeps coming up.

She’s had some pretty dark times. She has a way of pulling other people out of theirs.

“I don’t allow negative,” Wallace says, sitting at her kitchen table in Rockford. “I’ve been known to pull girls off the (tennis) court if they’re having a temper tantrum.” She smiles. “I say, ‘Don’t make me take this leg off and beat you.’”

She’s made jokes about her prosthetic leg from the beginning, since she lost her own at age 20 in a car accident. It’s been a way to make other people more comfortable around her, she says.

“When she comes in, even if it’s freezing out, she often wears shorts, so people can really see her prosthetic,” says Kelly Merz, recreational therapist for the amputee program at Mary Free Bed. “It’s just who she is. She lays it out there ‘This is who I am.’”

“People remember her,” Merz says. “With Val, it’s all about `Look what I’m still doing.’ There’s a lot of fear, and she takes some of that fear away.”

Wallace tells about losing her leg.

One night friends from the German restaurant where she waitressed went to Oktoberfest. It was late when Wallace drove home. She hadn’t been drinking, she says, but she was tired. She dozed off. Her Subaru veered off the road, hitting a tree.

Panicked, she leaned over to block her 15-year-old passenger from going through the windshield. That move saved her life, she says. She later learned the steering column was imbedded in her seat. It would have been imbedded in her chest.

Wallace woke up in the hospital three days later. She had broken both hips, her right leg, her ankle. Two vertebrae were crushed. She spent a month in intensive care and endured pins, surgeries and traction, but ultimately the blood vessels in the leg were too damaged.

“They said I’d never walk again,” she says. “If I kept the leg, they said I’d be on crutches my whole life. If they amputated it, I could probably play wheelchair pingpong. That was all there was at the time.

“I said, `Take the damn thing.’”

There would be more surgeries down the road, to take more inches off the leg.

“I was doing a little of the pity party thing,” she says. “Why me and all that crap.”

Wallace received a prosthetic leg and, over the years, married, had a son and threw herself into being a mom _ PTA, band boosters, volunteering for everything.

“I’ve never had a leg that could keep up with me,” Wallace says. She was notorious for breaking them, stressing them beyond what they could bear.

She learned about a high-end, German-made prosthetic leg she could program to keep up with her. Even with health insurance, she couldn’t afford the $52,000 appliance…..

This is a story that must be read to the end. Go here for it.