March 29, 2009

Funny. Sad, But Funny

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:34 pm

Watch:

Ann Coulter Is ‘Guilty’ — Of Willful Blindness to Mitt Romney’s Dreadful Massachusetts Legacy

Filed under: Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:59 am

Sometimes, waiting has its benefits. This is one of those times.

Because I’ve waited, I’m able to post an outstanding video from American Right to Life (ARTL) instead of having to recite particulars about certain of Ann Coulter’s recent interviews I’ve been meaning to get to.

Coulter fans, brace yourselves. The woman has a hang-up, which has led to a few telephonic hang-ups:

Ann Coulter has accomplished a lot. Probably her most important contribution is documenting in layman’s terms the definitive defense and vindication of Joe McCarthy in “Treason” (M. Stanton Evans’s subsequent “Blacklisted by History” is the definitive scholar’s version).

Thus, to hear Ann seemingly lock herself into defending Mitt Romney’s indefensible record on abortion and same-sex “marriage” while he was the governor of Massachusetts, and to attack those of us who have long since proven the obvious about that record, is truly sad. The YouTube clearly demonstrates that Coulter’s position is so weak that, in “response” to legitimate questions about Mitt Romney’s Bay State legacy, she’s forced to alternate between employing attack language she normally reserves for 9-11 truthers and other obsessives, and running and hiding when she’s out of arguments. This is the childish stuff liberals all too often pull when, as is usually the case, they’re on the losing end of an argument.

It also appears that knowledge of Coulter’s hang-ups is no longer limited to a precious few beyond those who happened to be listening to the related interviews at the time they took place. Fox Business News, of all places, is carrying ARTL’s Friday press release, which also announces a related website, www.AnnCoulterApology.com.

Coulter’s current defensive posture on Romney also seems to contradict her response to an e-mail I sent her on January 22, 2008, two weeks before Super Tuesday, at 11:31 p.m.

Keep in mind that this was five days after Coulter, in her syndicated column, wrote that:

….. My thinking was that Romney would be our nominee because he is manifestly the best candidate.

….. The candidate Republicans should be clamoring for is the one liberals are feverishly denouncing. That is Mitt Romney by a landslide.

Here is my e-mail (after one grammar correction from the original):

Ann,

It pains me to see you, a constitutional lawyer, accept the idea that Mitt Romney is a desirable presidential candidate, as your column last Wednesday clearly did.

It’s hard to imagine that you don’t know, or understand, or care, how Romney undermined Massachusetts’s Constitution, violated his oath of office, and did more to legitimize same-sex marriage than any one person in the entire country — all to keep a campaign promise. But in case you don’t, that’s exactly what he did.

And that’s just the start of Mitt Romney’s betrayal of conservative and constitutional principles. If you don’t believe me, PLEASE read for yourself:

Family leaders call Romney ‘disaster’
Why is Mitt Romney Objectively Unfit to Be President?
The Mitt Romney Deception

These are not “fringe” views, Ann — any more than your views of Joe McCarthy. The historical record shows McCarthy was right, and did right. The historical record also shows inarguably that Mitt Romney was wrong, and did wrong.

The historical record has been exposed by people who lived through the Romney Era in Massachusetts. They have seen the truth for what it is, even though most of them voted for him in 2002. They have seen Mitt Romney betray conservatives and clear thinkers time, and time, and time again. That they are betrayals has been confirmed by many clear-eyed constitutional experts who have looked at the situation closely and reached the only conclusions any constitution-honoring person could reach.

Why would you not expect Romney, as President, if faced with a Supreme Court ruling that gun ownership is not an individual right, to do exactly as he did with Goodridge — and unilaterally start confiscating citizens’ guns?

I’m not going to belabor the points made at the links any further. You’re a smart person, Ann; you know the law; and you know separation of powers. I only hope that you will face the truth about Romney and publicly reject his candidacy as the clear and present constitutional danger that it is.

Lest I be accused of breaching presumed confidentiality (a presumption that is dubious in the first place, as no promise of confidentiality was ever made), I’ll limit my description of Coulter’s response, which came 25 minutes later. First, the response was brief, and did not address my e-mail’s specific concerns about Mitt Romney’s record. Second, despite the virtual endorsement in her column (and it WAS interpreted as endorsement), her response to me was NOT complimentary to Romney.

The contrast between that e-mail response, when compared to her five-days-earlier column and her subsequent public actions and statements, is very troubling, on more levels than I can adequately address here.

Face the facts, and the music, Ann. If acknowledging the drop-dead obvious truth about Mitt Romney’s records represents the worst case of an unconditional “I was wrong, I am sorry” confession you ever have to deliver, you’ll be a lucky woman indeed.

Food Stamps for the Well-Off: A National Trend?

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:53 am

Note: This column originally appeared at Pajamas Media on Friday morning.

A number of commenters at the PJM column have corroborated concerns that the Warren County example cited is not an isolated incident, but a conscious expansion of the program to people who have the resources to buy their own food.

In one of those comments, Weapons of Mass Discussion blogger Matt Hurley informed readers that he subsequently received confidential information concerning two other similar Warren County situations. He chose not to disclose the details of these situations because media reports about the original situation he exposed tied it to Warren County (because Warren County’s commissioners publicly spoke out about the situation). Hurley wanted to protect the privacy of the other Warren County households involved.

___________________________________________

Since when did it become taxpayers’ duty to feed a family with $80,000 in the bank?
___________________________________________

On March 13, Ohio blogger Matt Hurley, who has been running Weapons of Mass Discussion for over five years, received an e-mail from “someone in the business” — specifically, the social services “business” in Warren County, Ohio, just northeast of Cincinnati (typos in original have been corrected):

Subject: Food Stamp Case

One of the workers here just approved an ongoing food stamp case where the family have over $80,000 in bank, own a 2001 Toyota and 2006 Mercedes Benz, and a $311,000 home that is paid for. Monthly benefits of over $500 in FS, received over $300 in expedited.

3 household members–husband, wife and child. Wife recently lost job, husband receives SS benefits.

THERE’S SOMETHING BADLY WRONG WITH THIS PROGRAM THAT ALLOWS A FAMILY THAT KIND OF RESOURCES AND STILL GET FOOD STAMPS.

This is where things have gotten to. I would think the world would want to know about this.

The e-mailer was only partially correct. Southwestern Ohio was interested, as Warren County, and neighboring Butler County, pushed back, promising to resist approving similar future aid applications. A Warren County-based state legislator has drafted a bill to tighten eligibility rules.

But most of the rest of the state has shown little interest, and in the rest of the nation, there has barely been a ripple. I believe that needs to change.

The fact is that many states quietly and significantly liberalized their food stamp eligibility rules last fall. An October 19 USA Today article was one of the very few that even noticed it. But in doing so, the newspaper’s Wendy Koch played down their importance:

Some states are going further to expand eligibility. Last month, California enacted a bill that will allow low-income people to keep some savings and still qualify for food aid. At least four other states — Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Vermont — similarly eased the asset test this year.

“People won’t have to sink to ground zero to get help,” says Paul Fraunholtz, a deputy director in Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services.

Who knew that $80,000 was “some savings”? Or that it’s barely above what Ohio’s Fraunholtz refers to as “ground zero”?

I have since learned that Ohio’s change does not appear to be as comprehensive as it first appeared; the lifting of asset limits such as not having more than $2,000 in the bank, etc., appears to apply only to certain situations (but note that USAT’s Koch incorrectly gave readers the impression that recipients aren’t allowed to have any savings). Nevertheless, the fact is that the food stamp program’s eligibility rules and benefit structure were just fine before September 30, and that there was no crying need for change. (This issue is separate from whether applicants tell the truth when they apply. That has been an ongoing problem for decades, and there’s no space to address it here.)

For almost two years, advocates of program expansion have been peddling the fiction that food stamp benefits are inadequate to meet participants’ needs, claiming that the average benefit of $21-$23 per person per week is not enough to meet a person’s food and nutritional needs. They have conducted “Food Stamp Challenges” around the country, coaxing activists, journalists, governors, congressmen, and other politicians into trying to buy and try to live on the aforementioned dollar amounts of food for a week. Routinely failing (of course), they have then reached the “obvious” conclusion that the government has to increase benefits to keep people from starving.

There’s only one problem: Actual program benefits for those who have very low incomes and no other resources are much higher. What follows, directly from the USDA’s site, are the Maximum Monthly Allotments (i.e., benefits) for varying household sizes, effective October 1, 2008, accompanied on the right by the weekly costs per person of various ages of what the USDA calls its “Thrifty Meal Plan,” also as of last October (USDA estimates costs at four levels at its “Cost of Food at Home” page: Thrifty, Low-Cost, Moderate, and Liberal. Go here for details):

FoodStampBenesAndThriftyCosts1008

In other words, the benefit levels above give participants the ability to have what USDA calls a “nutritious diet” if they choose to be “Thrifty.” Last time I checked, it was not unreasonable to expect beneficiaries of taxpayer largess to actually be thrifty — or if they’re not, to pay the extra price themselves.

Even getting by on the bogusly claimed $21-$23 can be done. Colorado couple Ari and Jennifer Armstrong proved in August 2007 that they could buy and live on $180 worth of food in a month  — the advocates’ monthly equivalent of the “impossible” $21-$23 a week — and had over $20 left over when they were done. Of course, the Denver media, many of whom attempted, and of course “failed,” at their own “Food Stamp Challenge” attempt, pretended the Armstrongs didn’t exist.

Here’s what those who want to expand benefits don’t want us to know: The average actual benefit is lower because, as USDA states, “food stamp households are expected to spend about 30 percent of their resources on food” (from income, as USDA defines it, and assets). In other words, if you earn enough money to be able to pay for part of your food costs, after appropriately considering other expenses and individual/family circumstances, you should do so. Imagine that.

Further, if you have enough money in the bank to pay for your own food, you should do that before running to the government for assistance. Yet running to the government is clearly what happened in the Warren County case that got the whole controversy rolling. There are now reports of similar examples coming in from other Ohio counties. In theory (but again, in relatively limited situations), there appears to be no reason why an applicant with $1 million in liquid assets couldn’t apply for benefits, and get them.

This is outrageous. Since when did it become taxpayers’ duty to feed people who have more than enough money to feed themselves — even quite well?

I would suggest that taxpayers in the other states mentioned by USA Today, and probably others, should look into what has happened where they live, get past the nice descriptions, and find out what the social services folks have decided to do with what is, after all, your money.

Positivity: God Squad ‘pumping up’ students again this Lent

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:26 am

From Wichita, Kansas (HT Catholic News Agency):

(Published March 19, 2009)

Students gather in the morning before school in auditorium for a spiritual workout

Every morning during Lent – Monday through Saturday – teams of Bishop Carroll Catholic High School students gather in the school’s auditorium for their spiritual workout. This Lent marks the God Squad’s fifth anniversary.

Initiated by Father Jarrod Lies, the school’s chaplain, the squad’s intent is “to take the training for spiritual life as seriously as music, sports or other things.” He based the idea on 1 Timothy, 4:7, which encourages us to “train yourself for devotion, for while physical training is of limited value, devotion is valuable in every respect, since it holds a promise of life both for the present and for the future.”

Because Fr. Lies is so involved in sports at the high school, he adopted sports terms for the God Squad’s activities. There are “coaches” (chaplain and teachers) who assist in organizing and arranging God Squad events, and “captains” (students who facilitate small groups) who lead prayers and discussion.
Sunday is referred to as “game day,” and the “arena” or “court” is free will. “Studying the playbook” means meditation on scripture. Other translations include “doin’ ropes” (praying the Rosary), “scrimmage (daily Mass) and “huddles” (student led discussion groups).

Go here for the rest of the story.