Monthly Archives: June 2013

Unchristian Kindness

999272_547359685320649_674475798_nMany posts on FaceBook (far too many) make cruel and mean statements about our brothers and sisters. For example, here is one lately making the rounds to your left.

So you should like this post if you agree with its sentiments. And what are those sentiments? Well, clearly, if you need assistance to buy food, you should not be spending the government benefit you receive on a pleasurable experience, namely, dining out. The person(s) who developed this visual clearly believe in its message, since they chose to make Like the preferred answer. Note the exclamation point at the end of “if you agree”. There is no such punctuation at the end of “Comment if you disagree.” So it’s safe to assume the developers believe their boxed statement to be true.

Consider that the purpose of food stamps is to help people buy food to eat. That’s what the guidelines for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program say: “Foods for the household to eat.” It further specifies that the ‘foods’ include “bread and cereals, meat and poultry, fish, dairy products”, things that most people think of when they think of food. But it also specifies that “In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept SNAP benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals.” So using them in restaurants was contemplated and specifically laid out in the statute providing the SNAP benefits.

And why not? Dining out is a pleasurable experience. Why should people on food stamps be denied that? It’s not like they’re going to the Ritz Carlton’s dining room. And in order to qualify for SNAP benefits, they’ve got to demonstrate a need. So there’s no offshore account in the Cayman Islands hiding in the background. Frankly, if the restaurant accepts the food stamps, there’s no reason SNAP recipients shouldn’t eat there.

So what’s behind the obvious animus in the visual? I believe it’s this: our inherent belief that the other guy is ripping off the system that we pay into. We so easily accept the belief that people who require government assistance are lazy, shiftless, scheming cheats, and the meme travels at lightning speed within our limited worlds. We-and I mean all of us-have a tendency to assume the worst about our fellow passengers on Spaceship Earth. Put two people in a room alone and I give them 30 minutes before they find a reason to look down on each other.

Look how it affects people who do use SNAP benefits. Here’s one mother’s comment:

 I am furious at some of the comments posted here. Yes there are some that take advantage of food stamps and welfare. But there are a lot of individuals that are going through a rough patch and need the help like my family. I work full time, I pay taxes but because I hit a rough patch. I don’t deserve to eat a restaurant, even it is only once a month. My kids don’t deserve to be treated every once in a while. So they don’t deserve it. Most of you on here are so ignorant. I don’t think restaurants should accept it but to say we are lazy because we are on food stamps. Tell that to my kids who dont get to see their mom because she is working 12 hour days to pay the bills.

The sad part of this is that the developers of the visual above, and the people who are sending it around the internet, would most probably describe themselves as loving christians, and if they didn’t belong to an organized church, they would no doubt subscribe to christian principles. It is these same christians who, like Pharaoh long ago, have hardened their hearts against the weakest of us. They need to take a long hard look at how they express their christian values, because to us nonbelievers, they sure as hell look like hypocrites, mountebanks, and phonies.

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Filed under Hatred, Hypocrisy, Misanthropy, Uncategorized

McCarthy Redux

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been said to have been a brilliant student at Harvard Law School. But it is hard to reconcile that successful law school experience with the arrogance he has demonstrated, the preposterous claims he has made, and the outrageous policies he espouses. Take, for example, that 2010 speech he made in which

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership...

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

he alleged that there were 12 communists on the faculty of the law school. Yes, he was that specific: there were 12. And he knew who they were. Sort of. More like he knew who he thought were communists. It was the type of accusation made by that paradigm of virtue, Senator Joe McCarthy (R-Wisconsin), in the early 1950s, when he was getting on a role, the world felt an incredibly dangerous place, and people were building fallout shelters in their backyards because they thought nuclear war with the USSR was imminent. The same Joe McCarthy who averred he had a list of 205 communists working in the US State Department, but who never produced his list of names.

In response to such a scurrilous allegation, the late Senator William J. Fulbright (D-Arkansas) said, “The junior senator from Wisconsin, by his reckless charges, has so preyed upon the fears and hatreds and prejudices of the American people that he has started a prairie fire which neither he nor anyone else may be able to control.” The junior senator from Texas has now entered that same arena, and it seems likely that he has no idea that his words could start a fire even more devastating than McCarthy’s. It is probably useless to point out to Cruz that there are no communists on the Harvard Law faculty, and that law faculties tend to have professors who could be described as ‘left-leaning.’ It is the nature of academics that liberals gravitate to it while conservatives tend to enter businesses. Fortunately, the New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer called him out on this, yet even then his spokesperson insisted that Cruz was speaking the truth. Hardly.

Where else does he go off the rails. Well, given where the country is in the same-sex marriage debate, with a majority of millenials wondering why there’s such fuss about it, Cruz had something to say about Dallas’s mayor marching twice in gay pride parades: “When a mayor of a city chooses twice to march in a parade celebrating gay pride that’s a statement and it’s not a statement I agree with.” Ok, homophobic. Check.

Or course, is against abortion. Very Christian. Neanderthal.

Joe McCarthy had a good run. He was born into a devoutly Catholic family. (There seems to be a high correlation between devout Christianity and outrageous politics, but more on that when I write about His Emptiness, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.) He was originally a Democrat but lost his first election, so he switched to the Republican party. He was elected judge of the 10th judicial circuit in Wisconsin in 1939, publishing slanderous materials about his opponent. After serving in the US Marines in World War II, he ran against Robert M. La Follette in 1946, where he accused La Follette of making a profit from the war and failing to join the military to fight. In fact, La Follette bought a radio station with a slim profit margin and was too old to join the military, but those truths meant nothing to McCarthy. He won, showing just how bad a job the American public does sorting out truth from fiction. On his first day in Congress, he called a press conference to give his views on how to end a coal miners’ strike then in full swing. (Does that arrogance sound familiar?)

He went along for a few year, failing to capture the nation’s attention. But then an investigation started into allegations that he had taken bribes from the Pepsi-Cola corporation. If proved, he might have been expelled from the Senate. He consulted with his closest advisors, which included a Catholic priest, who advised hi

Joe McCarthy - Colorized

Joe McCarthy – Colorized (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

m to begin a campaign to rid the government of communists. On February 9, 1950, in a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, he held up that infamous piece of paper that he said contained the names of communists working for the government. It must have been then that he realized he could soar on slander and innuendo. He ran for the senate seat of the senator who investigated his allegations of communists in the woodwork and won. By that point senators were afraid of him and he continued his outrageous demagoguery.

What did him in was television. He took on the US Army in an investigation of undesirables and it was televised. People of all stripes could finally see what a bully he was, and how he offered no proof for his shocking claims. Harry Truman said of him, “This is the first time in my experience, and I was ten years in the Senate, that I ever heard of a Senator trying to discredit his own Government before the world….” The most dramatic remonstrance was Joseph Welch‘s comment to McCarthy after the senator was ripping into a witness: “Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

McCarthy was finally censured by the Senate for his behavior. He died of acute hepatitis brought on by alcoholism in 1957.

Do you seen the similarities between Senator Cruz and Senator McCarthy? What can be expected is that Cruz will eventually go too far. He has already alienated most members of the Senate. No one likes him. But he doesn’t seem to care, and like Joe McCarthy goes blithely on stating absurdities and horrendous policies. He will crash and burn, but not before much collateral damage is done. Reasonable people can only hope that his time on the national stage is short.

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Filed under Congress, Hatred, Homophobia, Hypocrisy, Misogyny, Political, Politics, Republicans, Tea Party, Uncategorized