Friday, December 30, 2016

Mystery Science Theater Revival League T-Shirt




Front



[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2335.0"] Back of shirt, just below the collar Back of shirt, just below the collar [/caption]


My Mystery Science Theater 3000 Revival League T-shirt arrived today, and I am very pleased with the results. This is not an overly fancy, better keep it in a drawer kind of a t-shirt. No, this is the perfect shirt to wear everywhere. I think I have a dozen or more other things from the Backerkit folks on the way, not the least of which are my Blu-Rays of the new episodes. 

 














Thursday, December 29, 2016

Scenes From the Failure of the American Media Complex




There is nothing to see here, so just move along:

Many Americans believe a lot of dumb, crazy, destructive, provably wrong stuff. Lately this is especially (though not exclusively) true of Donald Trump voters, according to a new survey.

The survey, from the Economist/YouGov, was conducted in mid-December, and it finds that willingness to believe a given conspiracy theory is (surprise!) strongly related to whether that conspiracy theory supports one’s political preferences.

Remember Pizzagate? That’s the bizarre theory that Hillary Clinton was helping run a child sex slave ring out of a D.C. pizza joint, as allegedly proven by code words in hacked Democratic emails.

Lest you think this theory was espoused by only a handful of Internet nutjobs, observe that nearly half of Trump voters believe it’s true. This result is based on a poll conducted after a North Carolina man burst into the restaurant with an assault-style rifle, leaving only when he was satisfied that no child sex-slaves were harbored there.

What is the dumb, crazy thing that liberals believe? That tax cuts for the wealthy will create jobs and lower the deficit? That a man who owes $500 million dollars to a foreign bank has no conflict of interest? That grabbing her by the pussy is probably illegal?

When we get to the other side of all of this, in five to ten years, perhaps more, you will see a collective denial of being complicit in what's happened. You will see the same talking heads, the same media personalities, the same pundits, and all of them will forget why they were so completely and utterly wrong about everything. It will be "impolite" to point out that they failed to stop Trumpism, that they failed to notice the creeping authoritarianism now evident in our politics, and it will be "shrill" to note that they were a witness to crimes against humanity. Our failure to stop what's happened is going to haunt the American people for the rest of this century. 

The fact that people believe nutty bullshit is only mostly the fault of the media. Behind the scenes, a handful of people have made money spreading lies. We'll forget them, too.

The Watergate scandal would never play out today. Both sides have issues, you see, and basic facts mean nothing. You can catch someone red-handed doing something criminal and there will be an active disinformation campaign carried out that will tell you that what you see with your own two eyes is a lie and a distortion created by liberal bias. This is the age of stealing what isn't nailed down, so get yours before they start paying attention to facts again.

Absolute, verifiable facts that can be proven matter. To catch criminals, you need evidence that will play well on television. You need a healthy, skeptical media for those criminals to work against, and you need people with the skills and the hustle needed to fight criminal activity. Where did those people go and why don't we have anyone doing this anymore? Someone on the left should give Josh Marshall a half of a billion dollars to build a new media outlet and the infrastructure necessary to expose the criminal activities that will commence on January 20. Even that might not be enough.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Republicans Love it When Children Starve




In the next few months, there will be serious threats to the SNAP program. Consider this one of many stories that will mislead people into thinking there's a "huge" problem:

Food stamp fraud is at an all-time high, with cases this year including a state lawmaker and even a millionaire.

According to the USDA, $70 million of taxpayer money was wasted in 2016 due to food stamp fraud.

The US Department of Agriculture works very hard at reducing fraud and actively uses investigators to weed out bad actors. This is exactly what you will never see when someone goes on television and starts talking out of their ass about how "awful" things are:

USDA is working on behalf of American taxpayers to protect the Federal investment in SNAP and make sure the program is targeted towards those families who need it the most. To further this effort, USDA focuses on three key areas of oversight:

Reducing Improper Payments and Errors

USDA works to make sure that only those families who are actually eligible for the program participate, and that the correct amount of benefits is provided to them. Over the past decade, USDA has made major strides to improve the accuracy of SNAP's eligibility determination and benefit payment systems.

SNAP's Quality Control (QC) system earns a solid "A" grade. Over 99 percent of those receiving SNAP benefits are eligible and payment accuracy was 96.20 percent in 2011 --a historic high.

Reducing errors saves valuable resources. Payment errors are less than half what they were 10 years ago, which has reduced improper payments by $3.67 billion in 2011.

Stronger Rules. USDA publishing a final rule in August 2012 that requires States to cross check against the Social Security Master Death File, Social Security’s Prisoner Verification System, and FNS’s Electronic Disqualified Recipient System, prior to certifying individuals for the program, to ensure that no ineligible people receive benefits.

Pursuing Recipient Fraud

While it occurs relatively infrequently, USDA recognizes that program fraud undermines public confidence in government and the program. This jeopardizes the ability of SNAP to serve over 20 million struggling families who currently need it the most. USDA works through our state partners to investigate recipient fraud and hold bad actors accountable. Recipients who purposely commit fraud to get benefits are subject to disqualification.

Fraud investigations yield results for taxpayers. In fiscal year 2011, States completed nearly 798,000 fraud investigations, resulting in over 46,000 disqualified individuals and collection of over $72 million in fraud claims.

The Federal government has collected nearly than $1.6 billion in delinquent SNAP recipient claims since 1992 through the Treasury Offset Program.

USDA Aggressively Combats New Fraud Schemes. In February 2013, USDA published a final rule to update the definition of trafficking, which previously was limited only to the exchange of SNAP benefits for cash, to include new schemes, such as the purchase of containers with benefits in order to discard the contents and obtain the cash return deposit. Furthermore, USDA is working towards finalizing a rule, published as proposed in May 2012, to provide States with the option to require contact from households with unexplained multiple SNAP EBT card replacement requests.

USDA Does Not Tolerate Attempts to Use Social Media to Facilitate Fraud. USDA is working towards finalizing a rule to clarify existing policy that the intent to buy or sell SNAP benefits, in public or online through the use of social media websites, is a program violation. USDA has provided States with technical assistance on how to monitor social media websites, such as Craig’s List, for attempts to buy or sell benefits. Furthermore, USDA has reached out to web sites for their assistance in helping to prevent program fraud.

Combating Abuse and Misuse of Benefits

The sale/purchase of SNAP benefits for cash is called trafficking, an illegal activity punishable by criminal prosecution. Over the last 15 years, USDA has aggressively implemented a number of measures to reduce the prevalence of trafficking in SNAP from 4 percent down to its current level of 1 percent. USDA also continues to work closely with its state, federal, and retailer partners to investigate and prosecute trafficking.

Trafficking is not tolerated. In FY 2012, over 100 FNS analysts and investigators around the country reviewed over 15,000 stores and conducted nearly 4,500 undercover investigations.

Bad actors are removed from the program. Over the last 10 years, over 8,300 retail stores were permanently disqualified due to trafficking.

Stronger Penalties. USDA has issued preparing proposed rules strengthening sanctions and penalties for retailers, and providing for the suspension of redemption payments for particularly egregious traffickers.

Further Investigation of Suspicious Transactions. USDA provides information to States partners about program recipients with suspicious transactions at firms known to be trafficking for further investigation.

Expectations and Support for States. USDA has distributed policy guidance and notices to State leadership regarding expectations that States take action against recipient trafficking and has encouraged them to use tools provided by USDA to combat this kind of fraud.

Pursuing Retailer Fraud

There are rare instances in which retailers submit fraudulent applications to redeem SNAP benefits at a location where their authorization was previously revoked. Such behavior is not tolerated.

Strengthening the Authorization Review Process. USDA is increasing documentation requirements to verify identity and assure business integrity as well as researching high-risk stores using tax and business databases. High-risk stores are those located at the site of a previous disqualification.

Criminal Penalties for Falsification. Stores that falsify information will be charged, disqualified and may be liable for a $10,000 fine or imprisonment for as long as 5 years or both. 

Established New Reauthorization Timeframes. USDA changed the timeframes for reauthorization of stores at locations where a prior owner was previously disqualified from once every 5 years to annual reauthorization. 

Did you see the part where, in one year, $72 million dollars was recovered? Are you ever going to see that in the context of a discussion about how the program loses tens of millions of dollars each year? Of course not. It costs the Federal Government around $71 billion dollars a year to provide SNAP benefits for millions of Americans, most of whom are children. And there's less than one percent of that being lost to "fraud" which, if I'm interpreting all of this correctly, the government works hard at recovering anyway.

So, you'll see on Fox News the line that SNAP fraud is at an all-time high--$70 million is lost! Oh no! But then you'll see that the USDA takes fraud very seriously and has rooted out a lot of it already and actively recovers millions each year. And then you see the full context of the program--out of over $70 billion spent, less than one percent of that money has been lost to fraud and that's just temporary until the investigators catch up to the crooks and put them out of business.

Meanwhile, tens of millions of Americans are fed each year. Grocery stores in urban areas are kept in business. Compared to the money wasted by the Pentagon, what are we even talking about?

Oh, that's right. Sticking it to poor people. That's what all of this is about. All of those poor kids being fed means nothing to the conservative media, which is overwhelmingly anti-abortion but pro starvation.

UPDATE: The USDA says that the $70 million dollar figure from Fox News is wrong, and is asking for a correction. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Elkhart, Indiana is Full of Ungrateful People




I realize that I am violating two firmly held convictions. One, don't call an entire American city a haven for assholery. Two, stop talking about politics.

Despite the verifiable fact that Democratic policies helped the city of Elkhart, Indiana recover from economic catastrophe, the vast majority of the people who live there would rather vote directly against their own economic self-interests:

As people become increasingly loyal to their parties, they are unlikely to give leaders from the other party credit for much of anything positive. Both sides are instead more likely to believe narratives that suggest that the other party has only made things worse.

“People’s predispositions affect their factual beliefs about the world,” said Brendan Nyhan, a professor of government at Dartmouth College who has researched why people believe what they do about politics. “What we want to be true influences what we believe to be true.”

Indeed, as the economy began improving, Elkhart voters grew less likely to support  Democratic candidates for president. Obama won 44 percent of the vote in Elkhart County in 2008, 36 percent in 2012, and Clinton received just 31 percent in 2016.

Of course, there are many reasons why people in Elkhart might dislike Obama that have nothing to do with his role in the economy. Ed Neufeldt, whose daughter and two son-in-laws now work in the RV industry after losing their jobs in it during the recession, told me he thought Obama was responsible for improving the economy in Elkhart, but that he still didn’t like the president because of his stance on abortion.

And it could be, as my colleague Derek Thompson has argued, that a president doesn’t have that big of a role in growing the economy anyways. But I interviewed more than a dozen people in Elkhart about the economy and their political beliefs, and I was surprised to find a strong conviction among locals that the Obama administration played absolutely no role in Elkhart’s economic revival. Though people largely admitted that the city’s economy has vastly improved since 2009, only Neufeldt believed Obama had anything to do with that. Instead, the majority of people said they were waiting for Republicans to take over to see any meaningful change. They told me that the city has been revived not because of Obama’s bailout of the auto industry, which helped some RV suppliers, or his stimulus bill, which poured money into Indiana and other states across the Midwest. The economy might have improved, they said, but it did so despite who was in office nationally, not because of him.

Of course, race has nothing to do with this. And, of course, misinformation from the media has nothing to do with it as well. Tell me again why any Democrat should lift a finger to help any of these people ever again.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A New Version of Normal




It will soon be normal not to talk about inequality.

It will soon be hard to find stories like this because, well, that might make you think and vote.

It will soon be normal to see your kids do far less well than you did.

Enjoy the last vestiges of prosperity and peace because none of these problems are going to be solved anytime soon:

The gap between the "haves" and "have nots" is widening, according to the latest data out this week. 

The rich are money-making machines. Today, the top mega wealthy -- the top 1% -- earn an average of $1.3 million a year. It's more than three times as much as the 1980s, when the rich "only" made $428,000, on average, according to economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman. 

Meanwhile, the bottom 50% of the American population earned an average of $16,000 in pre-tax income in 1980. That hasn't changed in over three decades. 

As if that's not depressing enough, living the American Dream is also getting harder to do. 

Millennials, born in the 1980s, only have a 50% likelihood -- a coin toss chance -- of earning more money than their parents did, according to new research released this month from the Equality of Opportunity Project

It wasn't always this way. In the 1940s, almost everyone in America grew up to be better off financially than their parents. While money isn't the only definition of success, more wealth typically leads to bigger houses, grander vacations, fancier cars and more opportunities to advance. 

"Children's prospects of achieving the 'American Dream' of earning more than their parents have fallen from 90% to 50% over the past half century," the researchers wrote in their report.

Nothing to see here. We just had an election where the potential for reversing these trends was a possibility. That possibility just disappeared.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

This is What America is All About Right Now




Update - this is why we can't have nice things.

You cannot write about anything anymore--everything is "fake" news. Clearly, the story outlined below has problems, and clearly the whole media complex in America is seriously broken right now.

I mean, you see these horrible stories, and you want to say something, but there is nothing out there worth commenting on anymore because it's all lies, all shit, all vacuous garbage.

Ugh.

The unmistakable ugliness of this story will not shock anyone who has been paying attention to the direction in which this country is headed:

A Jewish family was forced to flee their Pennsylvania home after Fox News and Breitbart ran stories wrongly blaming them for being responsible for the cancellation of a Christmas play. A Christmas Carol was set to be performed by local fifth graders, as is tradition at Centerville Elementary School; and the Jewish parents asked for their child to be exempt from the play, and were granted the exemption. The school district ended up canceling the program, however, and said it was due to time constraints, not objections to the line, “God bless us, every one.” Sites like FoxNews.com and Breitbart, nevertheless, ran stories implying that the family was responsible for the play being axed. Their children were being harrassed at school, and after suspecting that their address would be leaked online, the family fled. “There’s no way we’re going to take a chance after the pizza incident,” they told Lancaster Online, referring to a fake news story which prompted an individual to show up armed at a D.C. pizza restaurant to “investigate” the false conspiracy theory of a Clinton-run child-sex slave ring.

To say that these poor people are terrified fails to take into account the fact that they are being terrorized in the worst sense of the word; this will not stop just because they "fled" their home. It will continue until decent people stand up and resist the demonization of people through online means. To say that we're in need of Federal protections, comprehensive online stalking laws, and the implementation of protections for people is an understatement. Hate flourishes in the absence of the law, which is the only remedy available in a decent society. Laws protecting the rights of people from online harassment and terrorization are inadequate right now. Will they be gutted in the months and years ahead?

The next four years will test the rule of law like no other period in American history. What a shameful thing to have to write about and talk about. What in the living hell is wrong with this country?

How could anyone remain silent in the face of this?

 

 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Fossils




Apple intends for many of the products currently in use to become fossils:

To die-hard fans, Apple Inc.'s Macintosh sometimes seems like an afterthought these days.

Mac upgrades, once a frequent ritual, are few and far between. The Mac Pro, Apple's marquee computer, hasn't been refreshed since 2013. The affordable and flexible Mac mini was last upgraded in 2014. And when a new machine does roll out, the results are sometimes underwhelming, if not infuriating, to devotees.

In October, after more than 500 days without an update, Apple unveiled the new MacBook Pro with a slimmer design and louder speakers. The laptop garnered mostly favorable reviews from the technology press but grumbles from creative types, a key constituency, who said the device under-performed rival products.

Interviews with people familiar with Apple's inner workings reveal that the Mac is getting far less attention than it once did. They say the Mac team has lost clout with the famed industrial design group led by Jony Ive and the company's software team. They also describe a lack of clear direction from senior management, departures of key people working on Mac hardware and technical challenges that have delayed the roll-out of new computers.

I'm very happy with my Apple computers; I have quite a bit invested in them and they work so well, I don't know what all of the fuss is about. I don't feel alienated by anything because I'm not exactly in a rush to upgrade every nine months. I think it is actually a good thing that, over four years later, one of my Mac Minis is still a kick-ass computer.

Being relieved that I don't have to run out and buy something probably puts me in the minority. But, let's be practical. Processors are not expanding their abilities by leaps and bounds anymore; those days are long over. I do think this is not so much a hardware issue as it is an issue of making software more affordable. 

Why isn't Office free to use? Why not Adobe's creative suite products? Why do they still cost so much? I suppose the subscription fees are the way to go, but I would much rather own software than "rent" it.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Just Barely Hanging On




Nothing else seems appropriate right now.

I do get the sense that people have lost hope, and there are any number of good reasons for that. In the context of American history, I think the closest parallel is 1968. We lost Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy in the span of a few months; we saw violence and rioting all throughout the country. We elected Richard Nixon and we were losing over 500 Americans killed in Vietnam each month. Race, economics, social pressures, crime, and tremendous upheavals in American society were evident everywhere. 

Clearly, things are vastly different, but here's something to remember--surrendering to despotism and lies is not an answer to anything. Normalizing lies is not a way to work through differences. Anything we can do to maintain a connection to the truth in anything, whether we're talking economics or climate change or how we take care of people means we're on the right side of history.

Accepting lies as being normal is no way to go through life.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

You Are Poor and it is Your Fault




Thanks again, media. This is too little, too late:

Tai Boxley needs a hysterectomy. The 34-year-old single mother has uterine prolapse, a condition that occurs when the muscles and ligaments supporting the uterus weaken, causing severe pain, bleeding and urine leakage.

Boxley and her 13-year-old son have health insurance through her job as an administrative assistant in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But the plan has a deductible of $5,000 apiece, and Boxley's doctor said he won't do the surgery until she prepays her share of the cost. His office estimates that will be as much as $2,500. Boxley is worried that the hospital may demand its cut as well before the surgery can be performed.

"I'm so angry," Boxley said. "If I need medical care, I should be able to get it without having to afford it up front."

Approximately three-quarters of health care and hospital systems now ask for payment at the time services are provided, a practice known as "point-of-service collections," estimated Richard Gundling, a senior vice president at the Healthcare Financial Management Association, an industry group. He could not say how many were doing so for more highly priced services or for patients with high-deductible plans -- situations that would likely result in out-of-pocket outlays of hundreds or thousands of dollars.

The next logical step from not being able to afford life-saving surgery is to throw people in debtor's prison when they can't pay for it. We tried socialism and it gave us quality of life, basic access to health care, and it kept people from going bankrupt when they couldn't pay for their surgery. Clearly, it ruined the whole country.

Perhaps we should have had an election where we were able to discuss the stark policy choices that come from being told you need an operation or you're going to die, but first, we need to run your credit card through this machine. Perhaps we should have talked about the ramifications of living in a country where you can end up hospitalized because you can't afford simple medical procedures, but first, here's the Secretary of Kicking People in the Nuts and he has plans for you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Gore Vidal




I had forgotten this passage, but it is extremely relevant right now:

The events that befell poor President Clinton were all done because he wanted healthcare for everyone in the country, so you get him on dalliance with Monica in the White House. A matter of no importance at all—and no one’s business at all, except his. And that was interesting because that was the impeachment of a president for something that he had done, which was fibbing about—did he know her in the biblical sense. So they say, “That’s perjury, we don’t want a liar for president.” Look what we’ve got now [George W. Bush]; we don’t get the truth—ever. This was all cooked up to destroy the most intelligent politician in the history of the United States. And like a fool, he agreed to answer the questions. If I were he I would have ordered Starr out of the White House, and said, “If you come back I’ll have you arrested.” It’s as simple as that. And he would have won anyway, as it was proved. There are times that you must stand up and your private life is private and public life is public.

He wanted "healthcare for everyone in the country." That's the absolute worse thing you can do in America--provide for the care of all. It is a venal sin.

First of all, we need the mind of Gore Vidal more than ever. His absence is intolerable. There is no one else who could articulate what the American people are going through right now. Vidal was a lot of things, but he understood the context of American society and culture and he spoke to things that made people go nuts with rage in public. He had the added advantage of being right most of the time.

Second, we are paying the price for decades of foolishness. Our inability to get serious about things has led us to the end of 2016. If this wasn't the worst year since 1968, then what was? We are not looking out for the people who need it and we are going to see the wholesale destruction of the safety net put in place by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Without that safety net, I wouldn't be here, literally and figuratively, because it saved my grandfather and his family from destitution and destruction. The modest and very basic extension of government assistance to all Americans is about to come under assault from a man who, as an adult, actually read Ayn Rand for pleasure and advice. Vidal would drop a pantload over that.

Third, if you cannot see why the ridiculous impeachment of Bill Clinton matters, you're not paying attention to the vast array of impeachable offenses ahead. The fire sale already happened, and the high bidders are here to walk off with everything. The outrages to come are going to have far-reaching ramifications that will demonstrate serious breaches of the public trust are normal, everyday occurences. These are the things that are going to go flying by the windshield--probably too many of them to count. At no point in American History will you ever be able to say "I miss George W. Bush" more than you will on January 20. The vandals are inside the walls and it's too late to bury your coins in the atrium.

The wholesale looting of America after the safety net is destroyed is going to make us pine for the days when a blowjob mattered more than anything in the world.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Guess What's Coming Next Year




Gas prices are probably going to go up next year:

The huge surplus of oil that's been sloshing through global markets is set to evaporate.

The International Energy Agency said Tuesday that it expects the global crude oil glut to start disappearing in the first half of next year, much earlier than it previously predicted.

There is one major condition: OPEC and its partners must stick to their agreement to slash production.

The cartel has agreed to cut its overall production by 1.2 million barrels a day starting in January. A group of non-OPEC nations -- including Russia, Mexico, Kazakhstan and Oman -- have also committed to slash output.

Higher gas prices will help Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia (and, perhaps Venezuela, which is probably too far gone for it to make much of a difference)  but they will hurt the American consumer. Working class Americans have had what amounts to a multi-year tax cut in the form of lower gas prices. This, in turn, has driven sales of larger vehicles and hurt manufacturers of vehicles that are smaller and burn less gas. Paying less than $2.00 for a gallon of gas is an economic stimulus that is about to evaporate, if you follow the logic cited above. 

Once people start paying more for gas, do you think they'll connect the dots? Do you think they'll wonder why they didn't vote for a candidate who was committed to alternative energy policies and stabilization of the Middle East? No, of course not.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Palaces in the Mind




Do you ever get the impression that the country has lost whatever is left of its mind?

I find myself avoiding the news because there's little else but horrifying revelations and fanciful talk. Is there a revolution at hand? Will everything become embroiled in a Constitutional crisis? I have no idea and no insight, but betting on the status quo usually works.

I see the idea of "palaces" as a metaphor for what people expect as opposed to what they're actually going to get. They construct palaces in their minds as a dodge from reality. There's the way things are, the way things ought to be, and then there's the inner fantasy life that people live out every day.

Fantasy sure took over in 2016, didn't it? Empathy didn't win a single thing on election day. People expect that great palaces will be built for them without a clue as to how that's supposed to work out, but they're okay with the idea that sending little kids back to Guatemala is how they'll get their palace. It will be built on the backs of The Other. They voted a particular way and now they expect everything to work the way they have always wanted it to, and everyone they don't like is slated for removal. Never mind the fact that reality is based on facts and the facts of our basic existence tell us everything they believe in is a fantasy.

Where's my palace? Where's your palace?

A better question might be, why do you need one in the first place?

Has the American experience ever been this ugly? I suppose it has but, wow. Not in my lifetime. The collective hate for anyone who is different has overwhelmed basic decency.

I can tell you this--unplugging from it all does wonders for your ability to organize your closet, your sock drawer, and in figuring out which pants still fit. I'm getting really, really good at that. And the bag I carry every day is about as organized as it has ever been. I have an ancient Plano fishing lure box that I am desperate to revolutionize. Everyone should have one.






All that other stuff?

Forget about it.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Hey Man, It's Not That Bad




No, it's actually worse than you could imagine.

After the election, and after deciding that being apolitical was the way to go, one thing kept nagging at me.

In the near future, there will be cuts made to government programs that feed people. Now, if you automatically believe that this is a good thing, consider the fanciful notion that a country full of starving people resulted in a generation of men who were unfit for military service before the outset of World War II. The Great Depression helped to create a population cohort of undersized, skinny, unhealthy young men that couldn't serve in the military because they couldn't get adequate food on a daily basis. Is that what we want as a nation? To arbitrarily starve human beings to the point where their health is at risk?

I certainly don't want to feed people just to turn them into killing machines, but the idea of starving them so that they are not healthy is just unacceptable. And, consider this--many people won't steal unless they are starving. Do you want to fill America's jails with people who steal bread to give to their kids? What dystopian, Randian nightmare is this?

There is a real difference between government handouts and actual benefits. I'm talking about SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. If there's a government program out there that will probably be cut soon, it's SNAP.  It costs the government about $75 billion a year to feed millions of Americans. It is that rare government program that actually stimulates the economy. Every time someone uses their SNAP benefits, it's not a dollar that goes off and does nothing. It generates economic activity--it keeps grocery stores afloat in countless communities. If we were to add another $25 billion to the program, it is safe to say that it would further stimulate the economy and probably create more jobs.

It there's one thing that bothers me about the results of the last election, it is this--people are going to see an already meager program cut to levels that will continue to let people go hungry. And, let's be specific--kids are going to go hungry.

To many, this is perfectly acceptable because those kids are going to be "black" or "Hispanic" and probably "illegal aliens." In point of fact, this is going to hurt kids regardless of their race or color because poverty is pervasive and hunger is universal. This is the real tragedy of it all and the thing that makes it worse than it is--we have no empathy for anyone anymore. There was no empathy shown in this election, and no importance placed on behavioral norms or looking for real solutions. There was a dog whistle, and when it got blown, people understood that programs like SNAP were going to be cut and that would take food out of the mouths of poor black and Hispanic kids and people voted for that. People want that. Our ability to show empathy died on November 8th. This country chose a path that directly leads to human suffering on purpose in order to transfer wealth to billionaires.

That is sociopath behavior expressed through the will of the electorate. Whoever voted for kids going hungry has a conscience that probably does not bother them.