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    • Watching Ferguson burn
      Jeb Lund of Rolling Stone: Combined with the Ferguson and Clayton police preparations, McCulloch’s entire demeanor seemed to say, “Your move,” and either way the black community was fucked. If they didn’t riot, then the rotten system that lets white cops get away with killing black kids and prosecutors get away with using the law […]
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    • Ferguson and the brokenness of America’s “Justice” System
      There isn’t much to say that others haven’t, but let’s go through it anyway: There was never any chance that Darren Wilson would be charged; the prosecutor acted as defense attorney, not as prosecutor; A grand jury, for all intents and purposes does what the prosecutor tells it to; Doing the announcement at 8pm at [...]
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Friday Fast: American school kids are out for the summer. Who feeds them?

This about control.

Certain conservative and otherwise intelligent voters are resentful that someone might be leeching off of them.  They all know someone who won’t pull his weight and that person becomes the template for how they see all poor people. For some reason, it never occurs to them that it might be the assholes on Wall Street who got massive bailouts and bonuses and a blank check in perpetuity to our Treasury department even after they blew up the world’s economy who are the biggest leeches of our tax dollars.  THOSE are the people whose behavior we should be trying to control and who are selfishly hoarding more money, goods and stuff they didn’t earn.  But we don’t hear the Republicans going after them.

No, it’s much easier to pick on people below you who can’t defend themselves.  Sauron’s Mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck continue to feed a steady diet of resentment to Americans who are lucky enough to still have jobs and haven’t felt the full impact of the Little Depression- yet.

Let’s examine what they bought with those food stamps.  Let’s take whatever joy there is left in their world, the last bits of food security, and rip that away too because it feels really good when we accuse the parents of hungry children of being lazy, stupid losers.

Some voters need to graduate from fourth grade.

The rest of us can give up our lunch today and donate our lunch money to organizations that help feed Americans who are currently suffering from food insecurity.  That is especially important for growing school children.  Schools out for summer and if they aren’t getting a free or subsidized lunch, many of them are going hungry.

I don’t need Michelle Obama to lecture me on childhood obesity when so many kids can’t get enough to eat.  And having the Republicans selfishly and cruelly deprive these kids of food stamps is beyond evil.

Here’s the link to Feeding America.

Here’s the link to NoKidHungry.

Here’s the trailer for A Place at the Table:

A Carol for the Tea Partiers

Have you seen Stephen Colbert’s version of Good King Wenceslas that he sings with Michael Stipe and Mandy Patinkin?  It’s my favorite Christmas carol.  You can check it out here (caution: may be preceeded by a very weird Axe hair commercial).

I’ve always liked this version by the Roches that I found on a compilation CD many years ago.

 

This is the time of the year to commit to a charity or cause.  In the past couple of years, mine has been Feeding America.  For $21, you can help feed a family in need for 2 weeks.  Where else can you find a deal like that??  So, we’re going to collect our change and send it in.

Feed the poor, annoy a Tea Partier.  It’s all good.

‘your hands shall flow with gold, and yet over you gold shall have no dominion.’

A new “ketchup is a vegetable” moment

I don’t know what to make of this comment from David Obey about the Obama administration’s suggestion that funding for Obama’s Race to the Top educational initiatives be taken from food stamp funds:

The secretary of education [Arne Duncan] is whining about the fact he only got 85 percent of the money he wanted .… [W]hen we needed money, we committed the cardinal sin of treating him like any other mere mortal. We were giving them over $10 billion in money to help keep teachers on the job, plus another $5 billion for Pell, so he was getting $15 billion for the programs he says he cares about, and it was costing him $500 million [in reductions to the Race to the Top program]. Now that’s a pretty damn good deal. So as far as I’m concerned, the secretary of education should have been happy as hell. He should have taken that deal and smiled like a Cheshire cat. He’s got more walking around money than every other cabinet secretary put together.

We were told we have to offset every damn dime of [new teacher spending]. Well, it ain’t easy to find offsets, and with all due respect to the administration their first suggestion for offsets was to cut food stamps. Now they were careful not to make an official budget request, because they didn’t want to take the political heat for it, but that was the first trial balloon they sent down here. …Their line of argument was, well, the cost of food relative to what we thought it would be has come down, so people on food stamps are getting a pretty good deal in comparison to what we thought they were going to get. Well isn’t that nice. Some poor bastard is going to get a break for a change.

Hmmm.  I don’t know where the White House is shopping but here in NJ peaches are still retailing for $1.99/lb.  Yep.  It seems that when gas prices spiked a couple of years ago at $4.00/gal, grocery stores raised prices accordingly and now we have a “new normal”.  It’s not nearly as bad as it is in Maui where my older daughter lives where a couple of bags of groceries can easily cost $100 but it’s still pretty bad.  I marvel at the cost of a single dinner.

Around here, the layoffs are thick and furious.  One minute, you’re making enough to pay your mortgage and property taxes, the next, you’re facing foreclosure as soon as the severance bennies run out.  One of the obvious solutions is to not live in NJ.  Or New York, where unemployment benefits peak at something like $450/week.  Now, that might seem generous if you live in Alabama but that money won’t even pay the rent around here for a single month.  Imagine if you have hungry kids?

There’s no shame in accepting food stamps.  Unemployed people paid for them throughout their working careers.  When it’s time to collect, they need to be able to pay the going rate for food in their area.  That’s an insurance policy against malnutrition.  And no Race to the Top scheme is going to work in a state where children are too hungry to think.

And while the House Education and Labor Committees just approved a bill that would help improve our school lunch program, advocates say the measly sums appropriated for it will not be enough unless a convincing case can be made on the House floor during debate:

“From our view [the Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act] is really the best child nutrition bill that we’ve ever had. It includes stronger nutrition standards and grants for farm-to-school programs,” says Gordon Jenkins, program manager at Slow Food USA. “The amount of funding however, is very modest at the $.06 addition to the current $2.68, which leaves only about $1 for ingredients. It won’t be enough to make a significant change. That can be modified on the floor if Congress hears it’s important enough.”

For those too young to remember, Ronald Reagan’s administration tried something similar in the early 80’s during another severe recession.  It tried to sut money from the school lunch program and reclassify ketchup as a vegetable.  That didn’t go over too well with the public, even among those who thought there was a cadillac driving welfare queen behind every application for a free lunch.  You do not skimp when it comes to the nutritional needs of children.  That kind of callous indifference will definitely get you pilloried by the public, which may be Obey’s intent.  We can read a lot of political subtext into this little ditty.

In the meantime, food insecurity is a big problem in this Great Recession.  If you have the means, remember that there are a lot of unlucky duckies who still can’t find work and feed their kids.  You can help by donating to Feeding America.

A bit of history: The Great Famine of Ireland

Bridget O'Donnel and her children

I can’t remember what free association web surfing lead me to the history of the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1851.  Some have referred to it as genocide.  But it is a genocide of a peculiar sort, not necessarily motivated by racism.  Maybe the resentment of the English for the Irish had its roots in the era of Reformation when the Irish stayed with the Roman Catholic church.  Maybe it had something to do with Charles I using the Irish to quash his opponents during the English Civil War.  Maybe Oliver Cromwell’s brutal revenge on the Irish had something to do with the punitive laws that lead to widespread poverty in Ireland distinct from any other country in Europe.  Half of the country was dependent on a single crop, the potato, for sustenance, while the fruits of their labor in service to their absent landlords were shipped away to England.

When the potato blight struck, the effects were devastating and the news of the horror of the famine spread far and wide.  The Choctow native Americans contributed money for the starving in Ireland.  This was not the first failure of the potato crop.  In the late 1700’s, another failure threatened widespread starvation.  But during that crisis, the government ordered the ports closed so that crops and livestock raised in Ireland would be used to ameliorate the conditions of the starving.  No such measures were taken in the 1845 famine.  During the famine years, the Irish exported more food to England than it received.  The landlords’ agents used the famine and loss of rent revenue to throw the tenant farmers off their lands.  Their houses were torn down.  A new law was passed prohibiting a farmer in possession of more than a quarter acre of land from receiving food relief, to prevent him from getting lazy and too dependent on help.  To qualify for food, the farmer had to give up his land.  This further exacerbated the problem.  Farmers couldn’t plant crops without land and that land reverted back to the landlord to be used as pasture for more lucrative livestock.

The suffering from starvation and disease was severe but human kindness was in short supply.  The absent aristocracy, some of whom rarely set foot in Ireland, were spared the gaunt visages of peasants and their dying children making their way to the coasts to board coffin ships for America and Canada.  What counted was how much rent each peasant could bring.  When they couldn’t pay, they were better off dead.  John Mitchel, the blogger of this time wrote, “The Almighty, indeed, sent the potato blight, but the English created the Famine.”

Lest we forget…

You can make a donation to Feeding America here.

The BFF’s Boxing Day Challenge

The BFF was half awake this morning but he still remembered what he wanted to do today.  His first words this morning were, “Boxing Day”.  In UK countries, the day after Christmas is known as Boxing Day.  This is the day when those of us with stuff give some of it away to our favorite charitable institutions.

Last night, the BFF showed me his Kiva map.  It looked like one of those maps you see in the back of your in-flight magazine.  My jaw dropped.  “Ok”, he said, “Let’s see yours.  What did you say the name of your group was called?”

I’m feeling the heat guys.  We need to put up or shut up.

He also gave me a very nice Christmas present.  This year, we are helping to sponsor a modern dance company from Los Angeles.  They’ll be coming to the NYC area in March and we hope to see them perform.

Then, there’s always the gift of sustenance.  While I was pigging out on roast beast and Yorkshire pudding, there were American’s all over the country who were just getting by.  Food insecurity is a big problem in this country these days.

These are just three recommendations for fulfilling your Boxing Day obligations.  And it is an obligation, guys.  You can’t expect people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps if you don’t give them boots.  The money you send to organizations like Kiva will help entrepreneurs all over the world as they put that money to work.  For those of you who want to help a starving artist bring beauty to the world, kickstarter can help you connect.  And if we want to help that young physicist solve the energy crisis someday, let’s make sure her brain is well fed with FeedingAmerica.

Can you spare $25?  These organizations can make your money go a long way.  Combined with other donations, we can make a lot of people more happy and hopeful in the year to come.

Here are my suggestions for your Boxing Day contributions:

The Confluence Kiva Team

Kickstarter

Feeding America

If you don’t have the filthy lucre but you have some useful things to give away, consider Freecycle.

cx4800 recommends modestneeds.org for people facing financial emergencies.

Help me wipe that smirk off of the BFF’s face.

Friday Fast: Fundraiser

Today, we dust off an oldie but goody.  To you new readers, last spring we fasted on Friday and sent our lunch money to Hillary for her campaign.  She still has a debt to her vendors left over from the primaries and for all we know, that is what keeps her indentured to Obama.  His fundraisers were *supposed* to help her pay it off.  I suspect they held back so they could continue to get her to carry their water on the campaign trail for Obama.  I don’t know about you but I think it’s time for Obama to carry his own damn water.

So, here’s what we’re going to do:

Save your breakfast, lunch and dinner money and send it to Hillary here:

You don’t have to send a lot of money.  Your $10 in combination with someone elses yuppy foodstamp times thousands can go a long way towards paying down the primary debt.

Now, if you are so inclined and you have extra money to burn, you could also make a contribution to Feeding America, (formerly known as America’s Second Harvest), which is battling the war against food insecurity in this country.  Gas prices are still pretty high and millions of families in this country have really hard decisions to make about how they spend their money.  Think about throwing in an extra $10 to help a family get through the week.  You can contribute here.

Finally, if you still have a few cents, send them to Murphy at PUMAPac.  She’ll turn them into flyers, stickers, movies and get the word out to other disaffected Democrats that they are not alone and People United Mean Action.  Contribute to PUMAPac Here.

Let’s turn these little raindrops into a mighty flood.

For your reading pleasure:

  • Anglachel writes two new beauties.  In Audacity Deficit, she asks how it is that this presidential contest has come down to a battle between Obama and Palin? Er, the DNC took the bait?  Just a guess.  In Why Your Party Loses, she shows that Democrats don’t stick up for their own and that gets us every damn time.  Parties with a history of stupidity and inability to learn from their mistakes deserve Darwin Awards.
  • Alegre has the post of the year.  18 Million Voices Silenced has some harrowing tales from the Hillary delegates who were harrassed at the convention.  Every primary voter needs to read and understand what happened here.  It is disgraceful.  Here’s an example:

    PENNSYLVANIA: An elderly weeping delegate who wanted to vote for Hillary was consoled by several fellow delegates who said they were all sent to Denver by their friends and neighbors to vote for Hillary but, “no-one seemed to care”.

     Your party at work.  Sickening.  When it comes to a discussion of the content of Barack Obama’s character, Martin Luther King must be rolling in his grave.

  • Finally, Heidi Li’s Potpourri has moved.  We are updating our links.  Her newest post, Looking Past The Heat of the Moment is about looking at the broad political landscape from where we stand now.
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