All posts by Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: March Madness

March Madness is upon us, in more ways than one. We know that right-wingers will howl with outrage over anything President Obama does — from using Air Force One to encouraging students to stay in school, and vacationing in Hawaii in stead of Pigeon Forge. So it’s no surprise that conservatives are losing it over President Obama’s March Madness picks.

After all, this president loves basketball the way George W. Bush loved clearing brush. He makes his March Madness picks every year. And right-wingers freak out over it every year.

This year, Rush Limbaugh led the chorus of complaint.

Limbaugh was joined by Fox News’ “The Five.”

Brietbart’s Daniel Flynn added, “Pieces of Ukraine are falling apart and the health care plan’s a mess. But we finally have a president who really knows basketball, and for the next three weeks that’s all that matters. Thank goodness for distractions.” Never mind that George W. Bush didn’t let his own war get in the way of his golf game.

Here’s the rest of this week’s “March Madness,” from some of your favorite right-wingers.

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLV1nLI6ql05wCH6Jb_iQeCHf2bCKH6L8Q

Wingnut Week In Review: Living for the “Inner City”

This week Rep. Paul Ryan took the cake. After debuting his embarrassing copy-and-paste job on the war on poverty last week, only to get his knuckles rapped by the very scholars whose work he cribbed, Ryan outdid himself with a clumsy bit of dog whistle politics blaming black “inner city culture” for poverty.

This isn’t the first time Ryan has choked on his dog whistle. On the campaign trail he told a reporter that the solution to America’s “crime problem” was to go into inner cities and “teach people good discipline, good character. Later, he blamed “urban voters” for the GOP’s loss in 2012.

Here’s the rest of the worst from the right wing this week:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLV1nLI6ql05wilR-33zcMsIexTAzNVv8K

Stuart Varney is Outraged That States Are Still Feeding The Poor Despite Food Stamp Cuts

Fox News host Stuart Varney worked himself into a later because states are finding ways to feed the poor, despite food stamp cuts. It truly must be seen to be believed.

Only a conservative like Varney — and possibly Paul Ryan — could be outraged that poor people aren’t starving in the streets, for the sake of the national debt. It’s par for the course for Varney, who has in the past boasted about being “mean to poor people.”

Clearly Stuart Varney doesn’t care about poor people, but if Varney really cared about spending on food stamps then he’d be in favor of raising the minimum wage. Raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 would cut food stamp spending by $46 billion over 10 years. That’s $6 billion more than the $40 billion that House Republicans wanted to cut.

States are finding ways to feed the hungry, because people are still hungry. Cuts to food stamps don’t lead reduce the need for food assistance, but fewer people getting assistance. That’s how conservatism works. Raising the minimum wage means more people can afford basics like food and shelter, and thus fewer people need food assistance. 

Multi-million dollar companies are collecting billions of dollars in corporate welfare, because taxpayers supplement the meager wages they pay their employees through safety net programs like food stamps. Instead of railing against the poor, and looking for way to inflict more pain upon them, conservatives like Stuart Varney should be incensed about that. But that’s not who they are. 

Conservatives Offer Americans Empty Stomachs and Empty Rhetoric

Paul Ryan says that “the left” is offering Americans “a full stomach and an empty soul.” The truth is that conservatives like Paul Ryan are offering Americans empty stomachs and empty rhetoric . The American people want more than that.

Near the end of his Thursday morning speech at CPAC(the Conservative Political Action Conference), Paul Ryan told a story about a boy who didn’t want his free school lunch.

http://youtu.be/mEVPlBK8FH4?t=1m1s

The story wasn’t true. Eloise Anderson, an aide to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, did tell Ryan the story at a congressional hearing last summer, but she never met or spoke to any little boy who told her he didn’t want his free school lunch.

The story was purloined from a book titled “An Invisible Thread.” The book is about a friendship between Laura Schroff and Maurice Mazyck. They met in New York in 1986, when she was an ad executive and he was an 11-year-old panhandler.

The “brown bag” conversation did happen, but had nothing to do with school lunch programs. Ironically, Schroff and Mazyck are now partnering with No Kid Hungry, an organization dedicated to ending child hunger in the U.S., in part by connecting low-income students with federal programs like school lunches.

It’s never a good idea to take anything that an aide to Scott Walker says as gospel. But Paul Ryan can’t even manage a decent copy-and-paste job on the economic data that he misused and misrepresented to support his screed against anti-poverty programs. He can hardly be expected to fact-check such a good-sounding story.

Ryan’s story isn’t real, but the stigma attached to subsidized school lunches is. Lunchtime can be the most socially stressful part of the school day, for any student. Invisible, ever-shifting social boundaries crisscross school cafeterias. So much is riding on where students sit, or even whether they have friends to sit with.

School LunchStudents who get subsidized lunches have much more to deal with. Lunchroom practices sometimes reveal students low-income status to their peers. Some schools have separate lines for students receiving subsidized lunches, and students who buy theirs. Others have an “a la carte” line, where students with cash can buy items not available in the subsidized lunch line.

It gets worse.

No wonder some students choose to go without lunch, and not face the stigma.

School districts are finding ways to relieve that stigma.

  • New York schools have held regular promotions, inviting professional athletes to eat subsidized lunches in their jerseys.
  • Other schools have integrated lunch lines, and implemented cashless systems, so that all students  go through the same line, and those receiving free lunches are less easily identified.
  • Boston public schools serve free school lunches to all students, even if their families are able to pay, as part of an experimental federal initiative, designed to make it easier for students from low-income families to get free meals, by eliminating the need to fill out forms.

Low income students would face even more stigma if the GOP had its way. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) doesn’t mind billing taxpayers for his lunches, but Kingston suggested that schools should have low-income students do janitorial work, like “sweep the floor of the cafeteria,” to “instill in them that there is no such thing as a free lunch.”

Kingston said his remarks were not targeted at a particular income group, but it’s a safe bet that students who can will buy or bring their lunches, and not have to clean up after their classmates. Kingston’s scenario would require “the children from poor families to stick around the cafeteria to sweep up while their better-off friends hitch off to recess.” Students who already skip eating lunch to avoid stigma might just skip school altogether.

Kingston’s views echo those of other conservatives. They reflect a conservative agenda that blames the poor, stigmatizes those who need help, and shames those who receive help.

Republicans are willing to walk their talk.

Paul Ryan need only go to Wall Street – or, for that matter, through the walkways of National Harbor, the shiny new suburban Washington enclave where the CPAC conference was being held – to find “full stomachs and empty souls,” where Americans pick up the lunch tab for some of the very banksters who drove the country into financial disaster and recession. If conservatives prefer full stomachs in corporate boardrooms to full stomachs in America’s classrooms, they are the one’s with “empty souls.”