TODAY’S LINKS—APRIL 20, 2012

Ho Hum Department. The Mittster is blaming the GSA conference spending extravaganza on President Obama’s “elaborate” vacations setting a bad example.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/20/mitt-romney-obama-vacations-gsa_n_1440496.html?ref=topbar

However, this pattern of GSA spending began under Bush.

A review of budgets for the past three conferences, provided by a government source, shows that the pattern of excessive costs began in planning the 2008 conference – where costs soared from $323,855 in 2006 to $655,025in 2008. That represents a 102 percent increase between 2006 and 2008. 

http://www.politico.com/politico44/2012/04/gsa-mindreader-conference-spending-first-soared-under-119834.html

And Romney complains that Obama goes to his home state of Hawaii rather than bopping down the road to Camp David. Well, Romney owns houses in several states that he calls home. And Obama’s dog is never strapped to the roof of Air Force One.

Tom Dickinson in Rolling Stone makes the assertion that the left has been winning a string of battles and should be heartened by this accomplishment. Moreover he makes the point that the Obama administration, chided by many liberals for deserting their ideals, should take note and become stronger proponents of a more left-leaning agenda.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/dont-look-now-lefties-are-winning-20120419

He cites SOPA (the internet control law), the Komen-Planned Parenthood dustup, Rush, and ALEC as examples.

I disagree on the impact. How many people really knew or cared about SOPA and its possible effects on internet usage? Besides, the issue had both Republicans and Democrats as either co-sponsors of the legislation or leading the opposition to it.

Additionally, we still have privacy issues arising out of countermeasures in the so-called war on terror. Those measures are blatant violations of our 4th and 5th Amendment rights.

ALEC’s own agenda is so broad and pervasive, that abandoning this small slice of it is like the fat man on a diet who gives up Snickers but not Three Musketeers.

Dovetailing nicely with the previous item is this report from The Nation that Georgia this week enacted a drug testing requirement for welfare recipients.

http://www.thenation.com/blog/167487/week-poverty-georgia-tries-get-zero-welfare-recipients

This law was introduced by an ALEC member legislator. Actually welfare is not welfare. Since its reform in the 1990’s eligibilty for cash assistance has been greatly reduced and, even in these hard times, the number of families receiving it is about a third of the number prior to reform. States have much discretion in eligibility requirements and amounts paid out.

As writer Greg Kaufman put it:

It’s not easy for poor people to get cash assistance in America.

Prior to welfare reform in 1996, 68 of every 100 poor families with children received cash assistance through Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). But by 2010, under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program which replaced AFDC, just 27 of every 100 poor families received benefits. The rolls shrunk as states were given wide discretion over eligibility, benefit levels, time limits, and how to use their TANF block grants which were frozen at 1996 funding levels and not indexed for inflation.

Georgia is known as a particularly difficult state when it comes to accessing TANF. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), in 2008-09 for every 100 poor families with children in Georgia, only eight received cash aid.

Now the state is set to make its TANF application process even more onerous.

A similar Florida law was thrown out by a federal judge, so there’s hope that this piece of rubbish will not survive either.

From Mother Jones comes its quote of the day:

From Ezra Klein, after learning that conservatives are attacking President Obama for eating dog meat when he was a seven-year-old growing up in Indonesia:

“After I learned the story, I felt a little worse about myself for being in any way involved in the tornado of idiocy that is American politics.”

http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/04/quote-day-tornado-idiocy-american-politics

This observation itself may stem from journalism’s own tendency for misguided and misinformed reporting.

Jason Linkins on HuffPo refers to an article in the Columbia Journalism Review that applies such a theory to the reporting on Social Security issues.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/-social-security-journalism_n_1435125.html

Lieberman went on to point out that one of the effects of this sort of journalism is that otherwise reasonable people begin to make very poorly informed personal choices. “The one-sided reporting on this issue has influenced the way millions of Americans, especially younger ones, now think about Social Security,” she said, citing an example:…

There is a link to the CJR piece at the end of Linkins’ article.

I believe that not only is there inaccurate reporting but the intense concentration on mostly irrelevancies distracts from the vital stories that we do need to know about. Yes, Rush Limbaugh is a pig for calling a woman a slut. That was not a step down for him, merely maintaining his standing among the neanderthals. Yet, it became a major story itself. Whoopee!

Give me real news based on discernible and proveable facts.

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