In Two Farm Bills Being Conferenced, Democrats Once Again Play Mr. Nice Guy

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I have one of those, what do you call them, bleeding hearts. At least what’s left of my still functioning, once muscular organ after bypass, conditions I can barely pronounce and a freight-train load of daily meds. Let my heart bleed all over the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP) for instance. Yeah, just something about starving children, the elderly, disabled and single or married people who can’t find work, that gets my sympathetic liberal blood flowing. I even bleed for people able to find work; work that pays 1950’s wages and is generally backbreaking with zero to few benefits and has no future.

In answer to wicked ‘killer’ Cain’s question in Genesis 4:9, Yes, I am my brother’s keeper, though I don’t think I’d kill him to prove it. I’m surprised the thumpers don’t come back with 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” Now that’s compassionate Christian conservatism for you. Frankly I prefer to think that Abel would have definitely been a progressive if he were around today. Cain? That’s pretty obvious too.

Yes, you’ll find some scallywags, “not willing to work” and gaming the system. Responding to an earlier Fox News report, Bill O’Reilly blasted 29-year-old Jason Greenslate, as someone perfectly capable of working, but who apparently chose to spend all his free time surfing. He accuses the ‘surfer’ of making money off the books. He calls him a rat and parasite and goes on to accuse the Obama administration of encouraging parasites through the food stamp program.

He also, with the greatest of hypocrisy and irony, scolds Greenslate for “Chasing women at night.” This one’s too easy. How about the TV pundit, O’Reilly, sexually phone-perving (and who knows what else) on a young woman producer to the point of having to pay out millions after dueling lawsuits according to the Washington Post to make her lawsuit go away? His disappeared. O’Reilly’s self-pitying reaction? No apology and a pronouncement that “On a personal note, this matter has caused enormous pain.”

But back to scallywag Jason. It’s fascinating how the right always digs up a “Joe the plumber” to represent an entire population and even more fascinating how Tea Party types fall for it every time. Jason is pure serendipity when it comes to the food stamps issue. The heaviest of heavies becomes an overnight “SNAP-slacker” star. Greenslate is presented as a long-haired, cap-on-backwards, rock and rolling surfer who hates work and rips off the system.

At least that is what Fox News is selling on behalf of Teapublicans. Viewers are expected to extrapolate from the punditry and breathless pseudo news videos that EVERY food stamp recipient is Jason incarnate. First, take a peek at the two Fox videos of Jason, his band and wastrel habits that prompted the O’Reilly rant. To me, he’s a dead ringer for Sean Penn’s Spicoli character from 1982’s “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” if you go back that far.

I found it extraordinary that Jason said all the right (and I do mean ‘right’) things to match the Tea Party script on food stamp recipients verbatim. He did exactly what the SNAP naysayers insist that most people on food stamps represent. It’s just too perfect. As it turns out, Fox was tipped off to Jason by a pal. Fox came-calling in August to the easy living environs of La Jolla, California in San Diego County, for not one, not two, but three DAYS of shooting. That would represent endless hours of digital footage with the chance to fish out whatever wording suited the Fox editorial “news” slant.

I can even make a case for Greenslate. He does work, though not full time. He also spends 40 hours a week on his music and band, Ratt Life (OK Bill, so he is a Rat). Having sired a band kid myself, I know the time and practice it takes to keep things going. The band is signed with a record label; for nothing initially, but an album might grab listener’s attention and the money would follow. Frankly, they sound God-awful, which is a good predictor of success.

We’ve trod this turf before; Swaggert, Baker and any number of preachers and historically, popes; too many corporate types to mention; teachers, coaches, doctors, lawyers, POLITICIANS and the current crop of those sullying whatever endeavor you might want to mention, are hundreds of times as sleazy and thousands of times more numerous than the occasional SNAP rip-off artist.

As for the farm bill or, more accurately, separate House and Senate farm bills; committee and sub-committee meetings are being held to try to get something passed at least in the second session of the 113th Congress. A weeping John Boehner and his fellow Republicans want to whack about $40 billion from the food stamp program over the next 10 years (Democrats are proposing $4 billion), but they don’t want to deprive their right-wing rural block, especially the loaded corporate farmers of their share of ‘socialist’ subsidies. Beneficiaries include 14 Teapublican legislators who raked in an average of a half-million apiece for themselves since 2004 (I vote AYE sir).

Fox and their ilk are bitching mightily about Greenslate’s $200 a month, but are rolling in the dirt over the possibility that a few bucks might be shaved off of their GOP puppets conflict of interest largess. A couple of the boys insist they’ll vote against any further self-enrichment. Most likely these pronouncements came after counting the votes.

Interestingly enough, a major percentage of SNAP funds go to the states festooned with the most political rouge. The top spot is occupied by Mississippi. Tennessee, Louisiana, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama and West Virginia are right up there too. Only Oregon and Maine might be considered surprises.

Nearly $300 billion in farm subsidies have been doled out between 1995-2012. Ten percent of “farmers” have received 75 percent of the subsidies. It’s good to be a farmer these days and has been for the last decade. Most are making major coin. Agricultural Economics Professor Vincent H. Smith at Montana State University, worries that, under certain circumstances, farm subsidies could skyrocket to $16-$20 billion tax dollars per annum through statistical slight of hand involving major crop five-year averages and tax payers shoring up farm insurance programs to the tune of 70% of the nut.

For those of you still concerned about Greenslate’s $200 a month, the farm community has been the benefactor of roughly $5 billion big ones from the Direct Payments program for the last 6 years. This money goes to people who farm or own cropland. And it makes no difference whether they grow crops or not.

Mommy, is that like food stamps for not working???

Dennis S

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