Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics


Welfare Used to Fund Terrorism! Beyond Rhetoric: 10 Ways to Fix Welfare

Today headlines blared that the Boston bombers had been funding their terrorist lifestyles with welfare. How could we, the cash-strapped people, have been allowed to provide for these shady characters? The American-born wife and baby were obviously part of a long con on the generosity of the American people. That the wife chose to work 80 hours a week (possibly for less than minimum wage) as a quasi-servant rather than continue with those benefits does not mitigate the fact that someone who later became a terrorist got to mooch! Who would have the insolence to even wonder whether the indignities of the broken welfare system factored into how much these “losers” came to hate the United States…?

Well, I’m going to dare to bring it up.

The welfare approach in the United States are ridiculously fragmented, inadequate, poorly implemented, and outright broken. Political rhetoric from all sides raises the taxpayer’s awareness that their money pays for an enormous welfare system. Yet when the taxpayer turns to this system during their own time of desperation, they discover unanswered phone calls, months (if not years) of applications and appeals, bureaucratistans that don’t bother to deliver the measly few “services” they meticulously document on your “plan” (the California Department of Rehabilitation, which is supposed to be putting people back to work, is a major offender here), and have abundant means to retaliate (for example, by consigning your case to limbo) if anyone complains.

There is a deliberate rightwing campaign to make stymied taxpayers believe that “someone else” (of a different race, religion, or political affiliation) is getting paid “regular checks from the government”, while anyone who has ever tried to deal with this system knows for sure it’s not them. “Disability checks” are the latest spearhead in the rightwing’s egregiously misinformed attack on welfare.

But while Republicans regular twist and ignore facts to shore up their 47 percent Entitlement Society propaganda, Democrats are failing in the other direction by blindly defending the system without acknowledging the problems or making any attempts to fix them. President Obama’s idea of a bipartisan bridge is cutting Social Security benefits, when many seniors are already struggling to get by on a few hundred dollars a month. There is no way around the fact that the only way to get everyone off welfare is to guarantee full employment.

Last year I wrote a series of posts about my own experience of the welfare fiasco for Daily Kos, but I found this was the wrong venue since too many comments trivialized or even flamed a subject that is a matter of life-and-death to a significant segment of the U.S. population. I looked for another place to repost my series, but I could not find another place where I could convey what I knew about welfare to a broad audience of voters. Finally I just boiled down what I had to say in 10 Ways to Fix Welfare on a free WordPress blog and left my message to float on the ether. As far as I know, no one is reading it or referencing it. It’s vitally important to dispel the fog of ignorance that surrounds welfare. So it’s time to make another attempt to shed light on the real problems with welfare and how to fix them.

I am copying my “10 ways to Fix Welfare” here in the hope that this post will be passed around and spark a larger conversation, with testimony from the people who have actually interacted with the welfare system. My complete article is pasted below, and there is a little more information about me on the WordPress site.

GOP Messaging 2.0: “Hateful Policies Lovingly Framed”

Still smarting from Obama’s re-election and the ongoing implosion of the GOP brand, party leaders have concluded that something’s terribly wrong. Not their message. Nah, it couldn’t be that. More likely it’s the way they’ve been using angry, misogynistic, racist old white guys to carry the party standard. Seems that this is alienating the voters, and We Can’t Have That.

Your intrepid diarist has picked through the dumpster behind Reince Priebus’ office and found some of their latest public relations communiques on a range of subject matter. Oddly, they’re all encrypted in limerick form…

GOP anti-abortion messaging focuses on shaming women who find themselves in difficult circumstances, piling on to compound their anguish, just because they can:

Abortions are evil! Tut, tut!

If you get one, you must be a slut!

Shame on you, Jezebel!

You’ll be headed to Hell!

Guess you should have just kept your legs shut!

However, that misogynistic messaging is proving a little out-of-touch, so the new GOP copywriters are proposing something more, um… upbeat:

Life is sacred, on that we agree

Who would not love a cute, pink baby?

With their eyes full of joy

Every young girl and boy

Is a treasure to you and to me

Speaking of misogynistic messaging, how about all those armchair gynecologists dispensing disinformation on birth control such as…

A legitimate rape? Well, okay…

But most women just lie when they say

Their assailant was armed

Chances are they were charmed

By some boyfriend (at least he’s not gay!)

When life hands women a bushel-basket of lemons, it’s time to make some lemonade:

We’re so sorry; we do understand

Your rape-pregnancy happened, unplanned

Sometimes life’s so unfair

It’s just too much to bear

It’s too bad we can’t lend you a hand.

Harsh views on homosexuality abound in GOP political rhetoric (usually right up to the point when those unfortunate photos come to light):

We’re good Christians! We do not believe

In the marriage of Adam and Steve

It’s grotesque and obscene!

Marriage must be kept clean!

It’s in danger! We can’t be naïve!

Under the Kinder Gentler GOP 2.0, it’s time to face facts: not everyone’s a heterosexual. It might be time to ditch the homophobia and realize that gay people do, after all, vote:

Are Republicans biased? No way!

Why, my neighbor’s ex-wife’s son is gay!

He’s a charming young man

Served in Afghanistan

When “don’t ask, don’t tell” passed, I said “yay!”

As we learned in the Ayn Rand petroglyphs, sympathy for the poor, the homeless, the jobless, the sick, the elderly and other losers is a sign of insufferable weakness:

A poor person who can’t pay their rent?

Unemployment check’s already spent?

Well, I simply don’t care!

Not one dime could I spare!

I’m elite! In the top One Percent!

Perhaps that seems a bit, well, uncaring. Let’s see if the new GOP-lite version would sound a little more altruistic:

In the land of the free and the brave

Someone must play the part of wage slave

You should keep working hard

For that house with a yard

And that other nice stuff that you crave.

Of course, there’s nobody like a GOP chicken-hawk draft dodger when it comes to international saber-rattling and war-mongering:

Time to scramble the bombers! Let’s roll!

North Korea is out of control!

And Iran will be armed!

People should be alarmed!

We’re at war for America’s soul!

Well, that sounded nice and patriotic, but since they’ll be fighting these wars using your kids as cannon-fodder, perhaps they need a better recruiting message like this:

Join the Army, young patriot guy!

Beam with pride as our flag flies on high!

Keep America free

In Marines or Navy

It’s all good (well, it’s true: you might die)

While they weren’t busy plotting the next unpaid-for war or stripping women of their rights or shredding the safety net or protecting the uber-rich, GOPers focused their efforts on obstructing that President Obama put forth:

He’s a Socialist Kenyan! Watch out!

All the birthers were right to cast doubt!

That usurper would dare

Push for Obamacare!

Well, impeachment will be our next route

Turns out that those pesky voters keep electing the dude, though, so maybe it’s time for a little more bipartisan approach

Four more years? Well, that sucks, but oh, well…

We’ll try not to freak out or raise hell

“Kumbaya” we shall sing

In the hopes we can bring

Some bipartisan stories to tell

So… by now, you get the picture: same pig, different lipstick. Feel free to add some more rewrites in the comments section below.  

Confessions of a Retail Worker: Eight people, a pot of coffee, and a newspaper

Hello everyone!

This is a diary I originally posted over at orange, but a brief exchange here today with Chris Blask made me think of it.

Phil Berrigan was a big fan of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker. The founders of Viva House in Baltimore knew him and vice versa.

…But sometimes, bridging the gap between the lives of the comfortable and those are who are disempowered is challenging. It’s challenging because the lived realities of the two groups are very different. So, with apologies to St Thérèse of Lisieux, I’ll continue to try in a small way.

So let me talk about Sunday.

Sunday has always been a difficult day for homeless people. Church-run soup kitchens tend to be closed on Sundays, and government offices are also closed. Libraries are closed too, and the generous people who put a dollar in your hat or pass you a smoke on their way to work are still at home, snug in their beds. So what do you do?

You do the same the housed people do. You buy the Sunday paper of course!

The only difference is that there’s eight of you contributing to the cost, because Sunday newspapers are expensive. The owner of the tiny newspaper stand is a old friend. You buy Local Paper, and if he happens to be around, you also receive a gift.

A copy of the Sunday New York Times.

Elated, you head to the day shelter. It should be open now. The morning volunteer has made a large pot of coffee, and put out a bit of bread. The shelter is temperature controlled, and you are comfortable. This is one of the better day shelters, because free showers are available. (That works out nicely, because it is one less person reading the paper at any given moment.)

You walk in with the two newspapers.

And you are mobbed. Seven homeless people come up to you, their eyes bright. “What’s the news?”, “Dibs on the Book Review!” The New York Times Sunday Magazine might as well made of gold, it is handled so carefully. The morning volunteer rushes over to help us all navigate a fair distribution of all the reading material. We flip through the magazine, looking at Leona “Only Little People Pay Taxes” Helmsley’s old advertisements, and we look with amazement at the floorplans for luxury buildings with ensuites bigger than the day shelter. We laugh.

John holds back.

He’s in no rush to read the New York Times Magazine, you see.

He prefers to be last.

He does the crossword puzzle.

In pen.


The volunteer beams.

We smile.

And we scatter, ready to do it all again next Sunday.

Palin Failin’ Alaska’s Poor

Mudflats has a piece on Sarah Palin’s unmitigated failure to do anything for the grinding poverty of Alaska’s rural citizens.  Josh, a former teacher in rural Alaska, writes:

We became very close with a family in our village that had a child drown in a steel container of raw sewage. Let me say that again. They had a child drown in a steel container of raw sewage. Their child was simply outside playing and since there is no playground equipment for the kids to play on, they play on anything, often things too dangerous for children. In this case it was something commonly referred to as a “honey bucket.” This is a steel container where house sewage is dumped since there is no indoor plumbing.