The War Over Food Stamps
By DAVID MACARAY
Although people tend to associate the Food Stamp Program (FSP) with Lyndon Johnsonâ™s âœGreat Society,â or lump it with the domestic initiatives of Richard Nixon (whom Noam Chomsky referred to as âœour last liberal presidentâ), the program actually goes back more than 70 years. It was launched on May 16, 1939.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently made news by reporting that 40 million Americans utilized food stamps during the month of August, a 17-percent increase over the same period in the previous year. Approximately one in eight adults and one in four children regularly use food stamps, and the program is growing at 20,000 people per day.
Also, the FSP has changed its name, apparently having outgrown the pejorative term âœfood stamps.â Itâ™s now called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).
To qualify for SNAP, your gross (pre-tax) family income must fall at or below 130-percent of the current federal poverty level, which, in 2009, was $2,389 for a family of four, and $1,174 for a single person, and you canâ™t exceed $2,000 in âœvaluable assetsâ (not counting your house and, usually, one vehicle).
While media coverage of the increase has focused mainly on the âœhuman interestâ angle of the recessionâ"home repossessions, families being uprooted, no jobs, no prospectsâ"thereâ™s another component to this story, one that involves conflicting ideologies, intellectual integrity and the critical role the federal government.
Among the states recording the largest increases in SNAP benefits were those âœred statesâ whose political leaders not only regularly and vociferously denounce the federal governmentâ"government spending, government intervention, government everythingâ"but who, in fact, have made solid careers out of doing so.
Yet you donâ™t see these red state folks stand on their hind legs and praise the government for establishing a program that literally puts food on the table. Instead, these conservative/libertarian pols continue to lash out against the feds, continue to demonize them, convinced that such mindless propaganda is going to resonate with the voters.
Consider: Texas and Florida each had more than a 25-percent increase in food stamp usage, Wyoming (a âœrugged individualistâ state if there ever was one) saw a 40-percent increase, and the Idaho Statesman glumly reported that Idaho had a 43-percent bump, the largest increase in the country, and more than twice the national average.
In the 1990s, Newt Gingrich made a name for himselfâ"became the voice of the Republican Party, had his face plastered on the cover of Time magazineâ"by railing against the federal governmentâ™s paternalism, âœpork,â and creeping socialism. It was later revealed that his congressional district had received an inordinate amount of federal funds (its per capita ratio was the second or third highest in the country).
Not to pounce on an obvious target, but Sarah Palin regularly criticizes organized labor, accusing unions of having damaged our economy with its greed and corruption. Yet her husband Todd was for many years a rank-and-file member of the Steelworkers union, supporting his family with the decent wages and good benefits that only a union contract can provide.
Additionally, Palin continues to draw rousing cheers from audiences around the country by defiantly insisting that the federal government stay out of our lives. This from a resident of Alaska, the state with the highest per capita federal assistance in the nationâ"a state that, some economists have noted, likely couldnâ™t survive without federal welfare.
In its depiction of Hell, Danteâ™s Inferno (1321) has each descending level represent a progressively more heinous or repugnant sin. There are nine levels of Hell in the Infernoâ"with the ninth and deepest being the one that holds the worst people of all, historyâ™s most notorious traitors and betrayers: Brutus, Cassius, Judas Escariot.
And while it makes sense that the seventh level is inhabited by vile murderers, itâ™s the eighth level that makes us smile; itâ™s the eighth level that makes us want to stand up and salute this brilliant Italian poet from 700 years ago.
The eighth level of Hell is reserved for hypocrites and liars. Thatâ™s correctâ¦.the hypocrites and liars are relegated to a depth even lower than the murderers. One wonders how Dante would rate Mama Grizzly and her secessionist-minded First Dude.
David Macaray, a Los Angeles playwright, is the author of âœItâ™s Never Been Easy: Essays on Modern Laborâ. He served 9 terms as president of AWPPW Local 672.
==== GODARD CRAP Article ====
by Bernard-Henri LÃ©vy
French philosopher and writer
Is Jean-Luc Godard Anti-Semitic?
Thus the question of Godard's anti-semitism has come up again, on the occasion of an "Honorary Award," this Saturday, November 13th in Los Angeles, for the entirety of his work.
To begin with, I should say that I do not like this climate of Inquisition that pervades the intellectual and artistic world, both in Europe and in the United States. And I would have preferred not to be compelled to enter, at all, into a battle that seems to concern, as is often the case, the disqualification of works based upon the small-minded expressions, even the alleged outrages, of their author. But since the debate has been launched, since it is apparently making the front page of major American dailies and since we live in a world where soon it may be impossible to pronounce the name of the director of "A Bout de soufflÃ©" ["Breathless"] without adding this question which is, obviously, a dreadful one: "Is Godard anti-semitic?", I have decided to present my account of the matter here.
Not that this account has, in and of itself, any particular authority. But it is characterized by two things I implore those who, starting tomorrow, will protest against the attribution of this award and against the honor thus accorded the controversial filmmaker to consider. It is the testimony of a man of whom the least one can say is that he has never compromised, not with public opinion but with the crime of anti-semitism; that he has never, no never, found excuses or attenuating circumstances for it, and that he has never hesitated, moreover, to recognize its face behind all of its masks and assumed names. And it is, most of all, the account of a writer that the happenstance of life has led to encounter Jean-Luc Godard four times in the last 25 years. In every instance, the occasion was a film project that dealt, precisely, with this question of ways, modern or not, of being Jewish. And the man in question, myself, quite naturally possesses both a singular experience and, inevitably, original elements of reflection concerning the very object of the present quarrel.
A year ago, when Antoine de Baecque's biography came out, I brought up episodes little known to Godard's biographers, in particular to de Baecque. I did so in a detailed text that was published in Le Point, and then here, in the Huffington Post, on April 8th, 2010, and which was initially inspired by a phrase Godard's other biographer, the American Joseph Brody, attributed to me which I sensed was becoming Exhibit #1 in the indictment of what would become the "Godard trial". Had I ever really said that Jean-Luc Godard was "an antisemite trying to cure himself?" If so, on what occasion? In what context? And what does one do when a little phrase you uttered, a word, perhaps just dinner table pleasantries or a joke, turns out to support the most serious accusation there could be? One offers his true feelings. One presents his innermost conviction, carefully weighing his words. That is, thus, what I did in this text, the conclusion of which was that Godard's rapport with the Jewish fact was, certainly, complex, contradictory, and ambiguous; that his support in the early 70s of the most extremist Palestinian points of view was obviously a problem; and that there are, in such private conversations recounted by the writer and film maker Alain Fleischer since then, some disturbing elements. But to use that to peremptorily declare that "Godard is anti-semitic" is not only to take the risk of calling a life's work before a tribunal where, I repeat, it has no place but also, concerning the point that is a problem, the name to give Godard's politics -- or not -- in short, concerning the corpus delicti, it amounts to jumping to conclusions, playing with words one should only use with the greatest of scruple and, in the final analysis, straying completely off the path.
There remained the documents. There remained the "packet of notes and documents" I said, in the text of April 8th, I had "kept over the years", attesting to these moments of my life and of Jean-Luc Godard's (and, where some were concerned, that of Claude Lanzmann as well) that were also the foundation of my analysis and of what I had to say. I limited myself, then, to indicating their existence but did not feel that actually making them public served any purpose. And I did so without much regret because, each of the four times, it was a question of films abandoned that I was not sure (and, moreover, am still not sure) it would have been worthwhile to drag out of the limbo where we had decided, among one another, to let them stay.
Today, I see things differently. Before the developing importance of this affair, before the accumulation of hearsay, opinions, or quotes taken out of context and consequently turned crazy with which men and women I often know and respect make do, before -- why not say so too? -- the invitation I sense, here and there (recently again, from de Baecque, in Rue 89), to stop using half-words and, in order to "definitively exonerate Godard" (or not), to publish the letters, notes, and preparatory documents of these film projects, thus producing the evidence of a case that, up until now, I have said too little or not enough about, I take on the responsibility, yes, after all, of offering all.
Here they are then, these snippets, drafts, these words. Here are these useless, dusty, forgotten letters that were no longer for me and, I imagine, for Godard, any more than the sad memory of endeavors we undertook with enthusiasm but that turned out to be still-born -- and that will, here, for an instant, come to life again and contribute, I hope, to an effort at clarification that must be put off no longer. Each one can form his own open from there on. It is up to everyone to judge, but as I did myself -- with the evidence henceforth at hand, and with probity. Read.
This post is the first in a series. The next installment will be published on 11/14.
Anti-zionism is not an anti-semitism. An anti-zionist is against the political idea of occupying 1948 Palestine.
Even Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein have been accused of being "anti-Semite". The use and abuse of the term to defend the theft and occupation of Palestine has degraded the term so much that it's use is hilarious in most cases.
Don't waste your breath on Levy. He sees antisemitism in anyone who does not bow to and salute Israel. He does not seem to realize that he cries wolf so much that even before he opens his mouth we can predict that an accusation antisemitism will come out of it
One must look carefully at those calling Goddard an "anti-Semite."
Anyone who has any sympathy for the Palestinians will be accused of antisemitism by zealous Zionists who DO have the sympathy from most of the western world because of the atrocities of the WWII holocaust. The logic being, how can a people who were so oppressed and persecuted turn around and do the same thing to another group of people?
Even Jews, living in Israel, who have organized peace movements have been accused of hatred toward themselves. Any public display with an emphasis on human rights abuses against Palestinians by the Israeli Military is seen as an act of treason. Israeli civilian casualties are mentioned, even though the Israeli Military has killed 5-times more Palestinian civilians than the Palestinian Military has killed Israeli civilians, the Palestinians are accused of "killing our children."
Pointing this out to anyone with Israeli sympathy will earn you the moniker "anti-Semite."
Of course Jean-Luc Godard is not anti-semitic. Just because someone wants justice for the Palestinians and claims the Palestinian people's inalienable right to return to their homes and lands in 1948 Palestine, doesn't make him anti-semite. On the contrary, many zionist attack word is to call anti-semite to anyone supporting a free Palestine. But of course the concept is wrong and it only serves propaganda and disinformation purposes