Put another way, 20 percent of U.S. households are on food stamps. What could possibly go wrong? Via CNS News:
The latest available data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that a record number 23 million households in the United States are now on food stamps.
The most recent Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP) statistics of the number of households receiving food stamps shows that 23,087,886 households participated in January 2013 - an increase of 889,154 families from January 2012 when the number of households totaled 22,188,732.
The most recent statistics from the United States Census Bureau-- from December 2012-- puts the number of households in the United States at 115,310,000. If you divide 115,310,000 by 23,087,866, that equals one out of every five households now receiving food stamps.
As CNSNews.com previously reported, food stamp rolls in America recently surpassed the population of Spain. A record number 47,692,896 Americans are now enrolled in the program and the cost of food stamp fraud has more than doubled in just three years.
This is a huge problem, to put it nicely. Not only are tens of millions of Americans relying on government subsidies to feed themselves, but even worse, food stamp fraud is widespread and evidently getting worse. In New York, for example, it is not uncommon for recipients to use EBT cards to purchase alcohol, strippers, and yes, lap dances. There seems to be zero accountability and transparency in many of our cities and states. Why is this not surprising?
Obviously, I am not opposed to bestowing federal benefits on the poor to subsidize their basic needs -- that’s precisely what SNAP was designed for -- but c’mon. Do 47 million Americans really need to be on food stamps? What’s more, does the Left really expect me -- or anyone else, for that matter -- to believe that every single one of these individuals would suffer or starve or even die without government aid? After all, welfare didn’t even exist for most of our country’s history. Faith-based organizations and concerned citizens for centuries took care of the poor and destitute, fostering a culture of compassion that has all but disappeared in recent years, only to be replaced by -- you guessed it -- the welfare state. So how exactly is that working out for us? Last time I checked poverty rates are on the rise, and food stamp usage merely begets more food stamp recipients. Splendid.
It goes without saying that this program needs to be thoroughly reviewed and reformed, and that starts, first and foremost, by preventing government bureaucrats from actively recruiting would-be recipients. The program, in theory, should only be reserved for those who truly need it. But apparently, such a simple and commonsensical idea is too radical even to be considered, much less implemented. Maybe when, say, 100 million Americans are collecting food stamps we’ll finally get somewhere -- and acknowledge, once and for all, that this is a problem. Until then, though, I suspect the EBT gravy train is only going to get more crowded.
This is probably an unfair characterization of people who habitually smoke pot, but it’s still funny nonetheless. Enjoy.
This sort of stuff is really fascinating to me. I wouldn’t technically fall into this category myself -- I’m an under 30, self-identified Catholic who supports decriminalizing marijuana -- but public opinion, it seems, is moving swiftly in favor of legalization. Via Hot Air and Yahoo! News:
A recent poll showing that a slim majority of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana made national headlines. And now, the pro-pot movement appears to have taken another step forward, with a survey showing that nearly half of all young Christians in the U.S. also favor legalizing cannabis.
In the poll, 50 percent of self-identified Christian youths ages 18-29 favor legalizing marijuana. Forty-four percent of those surveyed say they oppose legalization. Only 22 percent of Christian seniors who took part in the survey said they favor legalization.
The Catholic Church, for example, has certainly had its issues over the years, but this little nugget must have some evangelical Christians reeling:
Interestingly, a greater percentage young Christians say they find smoking pot to be morally acceptable compared with the general population. Fifty-two percent said they are OK with pot smoking, compared with 49 percent of all Americans.
Most fascinating of all, according to the study’s research director, six in ten Christian millennials “do not believe that new laws legalizing the use of marijuana signal widespread moral decline in the country.” Stunning. So what, exactly, do they believe it signifies? A victory for freedom and liberty and state’s rights perhaps? (Hint: Yes.)
By the way, scientific evidence pretty convincingly disproves the notion that marijuana is more dangerous and addictive than alcohol -- and yet, pot enthusiasts argue, alcohol is ubiquitous and consumed by Americans in truly stunning quantities every single year. Why then shouldn’t marijuana be regulated, taxed, and readily available at your local 7-Eleven or CVS? It’s a good question, of course. But legalizing pot at the federal level, I think, would almost certainly de-stigmatize public consumption of yet another harmful substance -- a substance famous for stifling personal initiative, ambition and ingenuity. Remember, the government has a vested interest in crafting public policies that promote virtue and civic responsibility. Therefore, I’m not so sure legalizing pot is in the nation’s best interest.
On the other hand, I don’t want to see teenagers and kids stuck behind bars because they experimented with recreational substances when they were younger. (I can’t imagine punishing young people for non-violent crimes is something which most followers of Christ would support either). So perhaps there’s a middle way, a way in which both sides can find common ground for the time being to resolve this increasingly obvious tension between federal and state governments vis-à-vis marijuana usage. But my hunch is that, in the long-run, pot will someday be lawful in all fifty states -- and, ironically, Christian support will almost certainly be one of the many reasons why.
House Speaker John Boehner took a lot of heat in January when he rubber-stamped the president’s job-crushing tax increases. Indeed, an entire movement sprang up on Twitter -- symbolized by the hashtag #FireBoehner -- in the weeks prior to the “compromise” urging conservative members of Congress to oust him from his position of leadership in part because he publicly proposed tax hikes as part of the negotiations. The initiative failed, of course, but that didn’t stop Republicans from bristling at Boehner’s supposed betrayal and questioning his leadership. Now, it seems, that’s all water under the bridge -- at least for now.
Today, however, and unlike the president, the leader of the lower chamber is actually serious about cutting operational spending -- which is estimated to save taxpayers some $400 million by January 2014 (via USA Today):
The House of Representatives will spend 15% less on its own operations this year than it did three years ago under a cost-cutting effort launched by Speaker John Boehner that is on pace to save taxpayers more than $400 million by the end of this year
When Republicans took control of the House in January 2011, Boehner, the new speaker, said cutting House spending would be a priority.
Since then, House lawmakers have seen a nearly 20% decrease in their office budgets. Three years ago, the average lawmaker had an annual $1.5 million budget, which is down to $1.2 million. Those budgets — which vary by office — cover everything from staff salaries to district office rent and bottled water.
The graph below illustrates just how serious House Republicans are about cutting spending under Boehner’s leadership:
I imagine that serving as Speaker of the House in 2013 is no easy task. In many ways, the Republican Party is fractured along ideological and political lines, and thus finding compromise on every issue is probably difficult. That Boehner was about to find a way to unite his party (namely, by cutting wasteful federal spending) is commendable -- especially because Democrats in the Senate are refusing to implement the same exact cost-savings measures. Go figure.
Here’s the feel-good and much-needed poll of the day, courtesy of Rasmussen:
Voters give overwhelmingly high marks to the law enforcement agencies that handled the Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath but are less happy with the media coverage of the events. They worry, though, that the government is not focused enough on the threat of domestic Islamic terrorism.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 87% of Likely U.S. Voters think law enforcement agencies did a good or excellent job handling the investigation of the bombings and pursuing the suspects in the case. This includes 59% who rate their performance as excellent. Just two percent (2%) believe they did a poor job. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
It would be interesting to speak to those who didn’t think law enforcement officials did a “good” or “excellent” job responding to the bombings in Boston last week. If anything, witnessing those horrifying events unfold on live television (and later reading about them too) made it abundantly clear just how brave and selfless these men and women really are. From the gun battles to the explosions to the uncertainty of not knowing where the suspects actually were, the courage and professionalism on display during those hellish hours was nothing short of spectacular.
On the other hand, the public’s opinion of whether or not media coverage was “good” or “excellent” is decidedly mixed:
By comparison, 55% rate the way the media covered the events in Boston as good or excellent, but that includes just 21% who say they did an excellent job. Fifteen percent (15%) consider the media’s performance as poor.
Of course, there was lots of false information disseminated throughout the week, but I suppose that’s only to be expected given the nature of what happened. And yes, watching liberals insinuate without any evidence that “right-wing” extremists were somehow responsible for the atrocities was malicious and unsettling. But overall I thought the coverage (especially the local coverage) was perfectly satisfactory -- even if major networks made claims or statements they later had to retract.
Perhaps it’s not shocking that President George W. Bush’s approval ratings have been slowly climbing since he left office in January 2009. After a tumultuous two terms -- filled with war, terrorism, natural disasters, and near-financial collapse -- he faced difficult and at times unimaginable challenges. But more than four years after his retirement, it seems Americans are warming up to him -- and appraising his presidency in a more favorable light (via a new ABC News/Washington Post survey):
These results are fascinating -- in part because a post-White House rebound is not always a foregone conclusion. From the report:
It’s not unusual for a former president to advance in public esteem after he’s left the fray of partisan politics, but neither is it guaranteed. In polls four to five years after the end of their 2 presidencies, Bush’s father gained 18 points in approval, but Bill Clinton slipped by 4 and Ronald Reagan lost 12. (Reagan later improved in retrospect; it just took more time.)
Bush left office with just 33 percent approval, and a disapproval rating, 66 percent, that tied the disgraced Richard Nixon as the highest on record for a departing president in polls since the Roosevelt administration. Bush’s approval rating on average across his second-term, for its part, stands alone as the lowest on record in modern polling.
Bush ended his career in public service under relatively favorable terms (i.e., he wasn't charged with malfeasance or unlawful behavior), and yet he still had the same polling numbers as Richard Nixon when he left office. Wow. So how is it possible, then, that just a few short years after finishing his second term, his approval ratings are approaching the 50 percent watermark? The Washington Post posits a few plausible explanations:
…It’s likely due to a well-documented trend when it comes the public and their politicians: No matter how much people dislike someone when he/she is in office, the longer that person is out of office the more difficult it is to sustain that dislike. We have very short collective political memories. (That trait also explains why political second chances — Mark Sanford, Anthony Weiner — can work in American society.)
That collective forgetting goes double for Bush, who, more than any recent president, has stayed out of the public eye since leaving office. He is rarely quoted on any subject and largely eschews any attempts – beyond his memoir — to analyze what went right and wrong with his presidency.
Plus, to the extent there is any news about Bush, it tends to be on the personal side. His father’s illness (and recovery) and his daughter’s newborn daughter are the sort of stories that paint a softer portrait of Bush and one that is far easier to like.
My hunch is that future historians will remember the immense challenges George W. Bush faced during his presidency, and judge him fairly and appropriately. By the way, if I remember correctly, Bush wrote in his memoirs that keeping America safe after 9/11 was his greatest personal achievement. Thus given the horrific events of last week, I hope 43 is at least remembered by posterity as a leader who helped make large-scale, terror-from-the-skies atrocities harder to commit. And that for all his mistakes -- and controversial decisions -- in many ways he made America a safer and more secure nation.
An envelope reportedly sent to Senator Roger Wicker (R-MI) tested positive for a potentially lethal substance. Politico has the details:
An envelope sent to an office of Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) included a substance that has tested positive for Ricin, two sources say.
It was not immediately clear when the envelope was received or whether it was sent to his Washington, D.C., office or a field office.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FBI Director Robert Mueller are briefing senators now.
So what exactly is Ricin? Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s a kind of poison:
- Ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans. If castor beans are chewed and swallowed, the released ricin can cause injury. Ricin can be made from the waste material left over from processing castor beans.
- It can be in the form of a powder, a mist, or a pellet, or it can be dissolved in water or weak acid.
- It is a stable substance under normal conditions, but can be inactivated by heat above 80 degrees centigrade (176 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Ricin works by getting inside the cells of a person’s body and preventing the cells from making the proteins they need. Without the proteins, cells die. Eventually this is harmful to the whole body, and death may occur.
- Effects of ricin poisoning depend on whether ricin was inhaled, ingested, or injected.
Stay tuned for updates.
UPDATE I - Reid confirms the Senator was targeted:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Reid says letter with ricin or another poison sent to Sen. Roger Wicker.
UPDATE II - Thankfully, it never reached his office:
Breaking: letter laced w/poison ricin sent to Sen Wicker (R-MS). The letter was caught in an off-site location, did NOT reach Capitol— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) April 16, 2013
UPDATE III - Here's some more info:
Mail service stopped to Capitol Hill as precaution because of laced letter sent to Roger Wicker, two senators say.— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) April 16, 2013
UPDATE IV - A suspect has apparently been identified (via Politico):
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said members were briefed that the substance had been found in a letter and a suspect has been identified.
McCaskill said the letter came from an individual who frequently writes to lawmakers. She wouldn’t identify the person but confirmed officials had identified someone.
McCaskill said state offices have been told what to look for if there are more letters containing the toxic substance.
UPDATE V - ABC News is reporting that the envelope was mailed from Tennessee:
The letter testing positive for ricin was postmarked in Memphis, Tenn., ABC News has learned, and had no return address.— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) April 16, 2013
UPDATE VI - So far, according to Senator Angus King, there’s no reason to believe the envelope is connected “in any way” to the bombings in Boston:
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said at this point there wasn't "any information that it's in any way connected with what happened in Boston."
"It may just be an unfortunate coincidence," said King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
UPDATE VII – CNN’s Dana Bash reports:
Important update: sen sgt arms terry gainer says envelope to Sen wicker tested positive for ricin in actual lab -after initial field tests— Dana Bash (@DanaBashCNN) April 17, 2013
C’mon give Maher some credit here: he’s not afraid to show his true colors. Even most liberals I know feel uncomfortable talking about Jimmy Carter's achievements, let alone bragging about his legacy, preferring instead to reminisce about “Camelot” or the New Deal.
Nice catch, NewsBusters (warning explicit language):
America needs to start defining peace as strength. Do you know who the role model for every president should be? Jimmy Carter. Because he is the one out of all of them who figured out how to sit in office for four years and never fire a shot. And every President's negative example should be Dick Cheney who even shot his friends in the face.
I'd probably rank Carter as the worst president in American history, although LBJ and Buchanan aren't too far behind. And by the way, for those who’ve seen the film “Argo” -- and therefore know a little bit about the heroism of Tony Mendez -- the fact is that rescuing those American diplomats was a classified, little-known triumph in an otherwise months-long debacle. I need not remind you that the hostages were released only after Ronald Reagan became president of the United States -- the very same day, in fact. If only Carter had left office sooner, then, perhaps the hostage crisis wouldn’t have lasted so long. In short, "role model" is not a term I suspect most people would use when describing the administration of James Earl Carter.
Anyway, Maher is a guy who recently professed that the “Second Amendment is Bullsh*t.” I wouldn’t take what he says too seriously.
Retired Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) is well-known as one of the most outspoken advocates for foreign non-interventionism. And surely, in addition to his libertarianism, his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are why the 77-year-old became so popular with young people during the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.
But now after keeping relatively quiet (fashioning his own home school curriculum scheduled for release next fall), he’s gearing up for another major announcement: the unveiling of his nonpartisan think tank.
Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) is launching a foreign policy institute focused on undercutting U.S. interventionism.
"The neo-conservative era is dead," proclaims the media advisory on his Facebook page announcing the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.
"The ill-advised policies pushed by the neo-cons have everywhere led to chaos and destruction, and to a hatred of the United States and its people. Multi-trillion dollar wars have not made the world a safer place; they have only bankrupted our economic future. The Ron Paul Institute will provide the tools and the education to chart a new course with the understanding that only through a peaceful foreign policy can we hope for a prosperous tomorrow."
The group promises to focus on coalition-building across party lines and creating opportunities for students to engage on the topic.
The iconoclastic former congressman and presidential candidate has long been a thorn in the side of the GOP on foreign policy issues, arguing for a "golden rule" foreign policy that takes a hands-off approach to global politics. That approach sharply contrasts with Republican orthodoxy from the last 30 years, though it's growing in popularity — his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), shares many of his foreign policy views and is viewed as a much more serious presidential contender than Paul ever was.
I don’t agree with all of Dr. Paul’s foreign policy positions; he once said that we can prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons by “offering friendship.” But as a Vietnam draftee himself, Paul’s beliefs are undoubtedly shaped by his own experiences, and therefore many of his arguments are commonsensical, well-reasoned, and becoming increasingly popular.
The ceremony inaugurating the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity will occur on Wednesday afternoon in Washington, D.C.
The well-established perception that the United States of America is a center-right nation was obviously challenged during the last election cycle. Many Republicans -- including myself -- believed Governor Mitt Romney would win the presidency for obvious reasons. But that much-hoped-for outcome never materialized. As it turned out, American voters narrowly endorsed the status quo, and now we’re living with the consequences of those political decisions.
But even though Republicans failed to regain the White House in 2012, the president’s so-called “mandate” on (say) tax policy seems immaterial. Take, for example, a recent poll conducted by Rasmussen which shows conclusively that likely voters overwhelmingly oppose any additional tax hikes to fund the United States government -- an idea you might recall was explicitly proposed in writing by the president in his latest budget proposal:
Voters make it quite clear that there’s no need for the federal government to raise taxes. They’d prefer more tax cuts instead but are much more closely divided on that question.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that just 28% of Likely U.S. Voters think additional tax hikes are needed to fund the federal government. More than twice as many (63%) disagree and feel more taxes are not necessary. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
A plurality (44%) of voters believes additional tax cuts are needed. However, 39% say no more tax cuts are necessary. Seventeen percent (17%) are not sure.
With President Obama this week proposing a budget with $580 billion in new taxes over the next decade, it’s not surprising that there is partisan disagreement over these questions. Eighty-one percent (81%) of Republicans and 63% of voters not affiliated with either major political party see no need for additional tax hikes. But Democrats are closely divided: 42% think more tax increases are needed, while 47% disagree.
Fifty-four percent (54%) of GOP voters and 45% of unaffiliated voters favor additional tax cuts. Democrats by a 49% to 35% margin are opposed.
Even 47 percent of Democrats think more taxes hikes are unnecessary. Sure seems like someone is out of touch. Meanwhile, the public overwhelmingly supports cutting spending. Remember this poll from last January?
Despite the last-minute “fiscal cliff” dramatics in Washington, D.C., voters aren’t surprised by the outcome. A month ago, most voters said significant spending cuts were unlikely. Voters at that time were looking for a deal to reduce the budget deficit that included more spending cuts than tax hikes, but they expected the finished deal to emphasize tax increases instead.
And yet 62% of voters think that thoughtful spending cuts should be considered in every program of the federal government as the nation searches for solutions to the federal budget crisis. Just 26% disagree, with another 13% undecided.
Generally speaking, these numbers suggest a large percentage of Americans -- indeed a sizeable majority -- (broadly) agree with Republicans on how to solve our lingering budget problems. Now, if we could only convince them to start voting for the party that is actually serious about averting a debt crisis we might be on to something.