The Real Benefits Scam

With the House of Lords voting to approve the coalition government’s truly awful welfare reform package which will plunge thousands of families below the poverty line, and Ed Miliband’s Labour Party already stating that they’ll vote for amendments to the bill, and won’t actually oppose it, Britain took a considerable turn for the worse today. And the worst of it is it’s a bill based on out-and-out lies and pure, vicious ideology.

Let’s start with the £26,000 cap on household benefits, and how the Government arrived at that figure. Iain Duncan Smith claims that this is the average household income in Britain, but this is extremely misleading, as the Guardian points out (the article as a whole is an informative Q&A piece on the consequences of welfare reform):

Critics say it is excessively draconian. The Children’s Society says the cap confusingly compares non-working household income with average household earnings. Were it to align the former (more fairly) with average household working income – which includes tax credits, and a range of benefits – the cap would be set at £31,500. This would mean thousands of poorer households would not be pitched into poverty by the cap.

What the Conservatives have successfully bludgeoned out of people’s minds is that housing benefit is not actually income. It does not in fact go into the pockets of the people receiving it, but goes to pay the rent their private landlord is charging.  And as housing benefit makes up the bulk of the average household on welfare’s payments, the right wing’s justification for this horror of a bill, namely that people on welfare at the moment can earn more than people who work, is shown for the pack of lies it is. If you want to blame anyone for ‘excessive welfare spending’, as our dear Prime Minister David Cameron puts it, blame the landlords who jack up the rent to ridiculous levels. After the banking industry, the housing industry is probably the next most in need of regulation. But of course, the Government’s attitude to this is: if the rent is too damn high, move!

Yesterday, the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the reforms were not designed to “punish” families.

He told Sky News: “I simply make the point to them that the purpose of this is not to punish people but it is to give fairness to people who are paying tax, who are commuting large distances because they can only afford to live in the houses that they have chosen.”

It’s particularly galling that this dismissive ‘just move to a cheaper area’ message is coming from a group of people to whom moving house involves using taxpayers’ money to finance the mortgage and furnishing of a second home in London. Unfortunately, poor people don’t have the option to put the costs of upping sticks on expenses. And, of course, there’s the fact that moving house would have a serious impact on children in myriad ways; being uprooted from a place they call home, having to change school and start all over at a new one with no friends, living in reduced circumstances (but hey, you and your siblings, who may be of the opposite sex, being packed together in one bedroom is no big deal according to Duncan Smith, who also lies about the charity Shelter defining this as homelessness on its website; it doesn’t). And there’s the problem of finding another house. As anyone with any actual experience of the real world will know, a great many landlords refuse to accept people on welfare as tenants. Finding a house that suits your family’s needs is not easy either. Hard as it may for the green-eyed monsters of the Daily Mail to believe, the reason those large families they pin on their front page in their idea of public shaming live in large houses is – this will come as a shock, I know – large families need more space.

A one-size-fits-all plan is a supremely cack-handed approach at the best of times, but when it impacts actual human beings, the results are even more horrendous. A single parent family with, say, 3 kids in London will have very different needs to a two-parent family with one child in Liverpool. To force the same cap on everyone receiving benefits, regardless of individual circumstances, is not only incredibly stupid, it’s unfair and yes, contrary to what Iain Duncan Smith says, punishes people. Because that’s what this is all about, really. The Tory approach to winning elections is and always has been: further improve the lives of their traditional voting bloc, the rich; then get a big slice of the middle-class to vote for them not by making their lives better, but by fanning the flames of resentment towards those on welfare and making the poor’s lives shittier, to make the middle feel better about themselves. It’s the same dynamic you see in the battle over public sector pensions; instead of encouraging the private sector to offer their employees better deals, the Tories instead dishonestly bash public sector employees and work to strip them of the pension rights they have earned by accepting reduced salaries during their working lives. It’s disgusting, it’s despicable, and tragically, it works.

And here’s the most depressing thing about this whole sorry debate:

All three parties are behind the benefits cap in principle – but there are disagreements over the details.

And then there’s this, which makes you wonder what the fuck the point of even having an opposition party is:

Labour reacted cautiously, suggesting that it would try to find a compromise. “Labour won’t be voting against the benefits cap, but we will be seeking to amend the Bill.”

That’s the sort of bold, principled leadership we’ve come to expect from Ed Miliband’s Labour!

In Britain, people on welfare are now everybody’s whipping boys – not just the right wing’s. And this a prime example of why I laugh my head off at the idiotic liberals in America who whine when a bill that is inherently progressive whatever happens to it gets watered down. Here, the only thing that gets watered down by our allegedly ‘left wing’ (ha!) parties is right-wing political and economic theory.

 

 

Advertisements

There’s Nothing Wrong With Cenk Uygur…

…that a straitjacket and a lot of alone time in a padded cell wouldn’t help.

Basically, if you thought Cenk jumped the shark with that hilarious “RAWR! FEEL THE WHINY WRATH OF ME, OBAMA!” rant at the Huffington Post, our boy is here to tell you: you ain’t seen nothing yet.

So yeah. For defending Obama, putting his actions as President in a rational context that actually, you know, makes a lot of sense, Andrew Sullivan is more dangerous than, to name just a few: the actual 9/11 plotter currently rotting in an American jail cell; the 20 to 50 serial killers that are on the loose at any given time; the Republican candidates who would start World War 3 in Iran, Dick Cheney, Nancy Grace. and the people who take this deranged, uber-retarded mush-mouthed clown seriously. Whoops – that last one’s dangerously stupid, not dangerous. My bad.

Oh, by the way, Cenk’s foaming-at-the-mouth response to Sully’s Newsweek article puts him in the company of Fox News and Andrew Breitbart. Now, I’m not saying that Mr Uygur has a predilection for engaging in sexual relations with a particular variety of rodent, but those rats sure don’t fuck themselves, ya know?

[cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles]

No, The Obama Team Did NOT Claim They Would Raise $1 Billion

Hackery in a nutshell:

1) Make a false and exaggerated claim as to the amount the Obama campaign expects to raise this election season.

2) When a very healthy quarterly fundraising figure is announced, use the exaggerated claim to try to cast what is actually very good news for President Obama as very bad news for President Obama.

Noah Ashman of Ology.com, hang your head in shame.

Here’s his post claiming Obama’s campaign raising $68 million last quarter sucks because it means they’re way off target to reach their supposed target of $1 billion.

On Wednesday night, the president attended several fundraising events in Chicago, but it will be an uphill battle to get to the much ballyhooed “billion dollar” campaign that the Obama White House had claimed they would mount in 2012. In 2008, then-Sen. Obama raised $745 billion for his election effort.

At this rate, Obama’s reelection team would need to raise nearly $200 million per quarter to get to $1 billion by November. When asked about the lackluster total, Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina said that “the billion-dollar number is completely untrue.”

Wondewhat I was reading that led me to believe that was the Obama teams goal? Once again, the White House reaches for the “who should you believe; me or your lyin’ eyes” argument. It must sting when you’re underperforming George W. Bush’s fundraising pace at this point in his presidency – in the fourth quarter of 2003, Bush had raised $47.5 million for his reelection effort.

If, unlike Rothman, you actually read any of the links he’s provided in his post, it would be immediately apparent that nowhere does Obama or a member of the Obama team claim that they’re aiming for a target of $1 billion dollars. The only mentions of this mythical figures are: a completely sourceless claim that ‘advisers are hoping’ to raise it, and this:

[On Obama raising $1 billion] It’s definitely within reach, as he raised three quarters of a billion last time,’ said Michael Malbin, executive director of the non-partisan Campaign Finance Institute.

Non-partisan institutions apparently speak for Obama’s campaign. Now we know why Gingrich and co want to do away with the CBO.

The truth is, as this ABC report states, the Obama campaign never came up with this $1 billion figure, it’s purely an invention of the media and has absolutely no basis in fact. So, yes, Mr Rothman, it appears your eyes are deceiving you. Or you’re too lazy to read beyond a headline. Or you’re a deliberately dishonest hack.

Also: George Bush raising more in the 4th quarter of 2003 can’t have had anything to do with the fact the economy hadn’t crashed at that point, leaving people with greatly reduced disposable income, if any income at all. Nah.

 

News International And War Dead Relatives

In the wake of the News of the World’s depraved phone-hacking of dead soldiers’ relatives, I thought it would be a good time to revisit what its daily sister paper considered such a grievous insult to our war dead it led a manipulative and nasty campaign against then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Misspelling a dead soldiers name, poor handwriting, and worst of all, not dotting his Is:

COMMITTED four other spelling mistakes: Greatst for greatest, condolencs for condolences, you instead of your, and colleagus for colleagues.

He also wrote the letter “i” incorrectly 18 times – mostly by leaving the dots off them but once by using two in “security”.

And he ended with a repetition – writing “my sincere condolences” and then signing off “Yours sincerely”

What an evil, evil man. How did he ever sleep at night?

The Sun proceeded to callously exploit the mother’s grief for its own ends, to viciously attack Brown. Which is the hallmark of Rupert Murdoch’s media outlets of course – exploitation, manipulation and hit jobs to try and obtain a certain political outcome.

News International: where spelling mistakes when writing an emotionally difficult letter to a dead soldier’s mother is a hanging offence, but illegally invading and violating the privacy of relatives is A-OK.

Rebekah Brooks Is Either Incompetent Or A Liar

Rebekah Brooks continues to deny all knowledge of the despicable hacks into Milly Dowler and 7/7 families’ phones, leading to only two possible conclusions: either Brooks was so incompetent an editor that she had no control over and no idea of what was being done by her own newspaper, or she’s a liar, neither of which does her credit.

As the Independent revealed today that she asked the same private detective who dug up the Dowlers’ number to do other searches, I’m leaning towards the latter.

Ms Brooks, while editor of NOTW, used Steve Whittamore, a private detective who specialised in obtaining illegal information, to “convert” a mobile phone number to find its registered owner. Mr Whittamore also provided the paper with the Dowlers’ ex-directory home phone number.

The Information Commissioner’s Office, which successfully prosecuted Whittamore for breaches of the Data Protection Act in 2005, said last night it would have been illegal to obtain the mobile conversion if the details had been “blagged” from a phone company.

Ms Brooks, who said yesterday she was “shocked and appalled” at the latest hacking claims, admitted requesting the information. But she said it could be obtained by “perfectly legitimate means.”

I highly doubt that, but let’s leave the ‘means’ aside for a minute and focus on her actual request – trying to discover the private owner of a private mobile phone for no justifiable reason, on top of gaining access to a phone number that was removed from the directory books precisely to stop unwanted callers from obtaining it. Ethics, schmethics.

 

Lunatic Ex-MP George Galloway: “Where’s The Evidence Tiananmen Square Massacre Happened?”

Since apologising for Saddam Hussein and the Iranian regime apparently wasn’t low enough for him, George Galloway’s now plumbing the depths of atrocity-denial by claiming there’s no evidence the Tiananmen Square massacre ever happened:

Never let it be said there’s a brutal authoritarian dictatorship Galloway doesn’t like. The guy’s a British left-wing version of Pat Buchanan.

(via Liberal Conspiracy)

 

 

 

Measles Cases Explode In UK, France Thanks To Fake Science

I will always maintain that striking Andrew Wakefield off the list of those permitted to practice medicine was nowhere near a severe enough punishment. For the damage he and his cohorts inflicted and are still inflicting on children, he should be in jail.

More than 330 cases of measles have been reported in the first three months of this year in the UK, nearly as many as were reported in all of last year. According to the Guardian, a total of 334 cases of measles have been confirmed in England and Wales, as compared with 33 cases for the same period last year, and 374 in all of 2010. There have been outbreaks in universities, schools and in individual families, with most of the cases occurring in London and the south-east, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber.

Even more alarming are figures about measles cases in France where more than 5,000 cases have been reported this year. The World Health Organization says that, as of mid-April, 6500 cases of measles have been reported in 33 countries. Outbreaks have also occurred in Denmark, Germany, Norway and Serbia.

To illustrate how awful this is: 5000 is the number of cases France reported for the whole of last year. We’re only halfway through 2011 and they’ve reached that number already.

Please parents, make sure your children are vaccinated with the MMR jab. It is your responsibility to your children and others’ children to prevent it spreading.

 

Nadine Dorries: If Only Child Sex Victims Had Said No, They Might Not Have Been Molested

While wingnuttia’s never gotten a real foothold in Britain, it raises its ugly head often enough to remind us it exists. Nadine Dorries proves she’s just as stupid, and just as cruel as her counterparts across the pond by actually suggesting child abuse victims could have prevented their own molestation:

All is not well on Planet Dorries. Two weeks after the Mid Bedfordshire MP introduced a sexist private member’s bill which would teach only girls the virtue of sexual abstinence and “how to say no”, Nadine has helped to advance the myth that child sexual abuse is linked to the behaviour of children.

On Channel 5′s Vanessa show on Monday she opined:

“If a stronger ‘just say no’ message was given to children in school then there might be an impact on sex abuse … if we imbued this message in school we’d probably have less sex abuse.”

We see victim-blaming sadly far too often when it comes to sexual crimes, but blaming child victims of sexual assault has got to be an all time low. This makes my gorge rise, it’s so loathsome. Do I really need to point out that adults are EASILY, EASILY able to overpower and/or emotionally manipulate kids into being abused? That there is a reason society feels a particularly intense revulsion towards those who commit child rape?

And as a survivor of abuse myself (I guess I didn’t say no loudly enough!) I not-so-cordially invite Nadine Dorries to go fuck herself. To hear this from one of my elected representatives makes incredibly angry, revolted and not a little depressed.

This Is What David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ Really Looks Like

A very disturbing article in the Guardian reveals that despite David Cameron’s grandiose and vague talk of a Tory utopia where everyone joins hands and works together for the common good, his actual policies are creating a nasty atmosphere of suspicion and resentment towards Britain’s most vulnerable:

Disabled people have faced greater hostility from the public since the government launched its controversial benefits reforms, according to a survey by a leading charity.

A majority said that they experienced hostility, discrimination and even physical attacks from strangers every week and more than a third claimed the position had worsened over the previous 12 months.

Victims blame ministers for portraying all people with disabilities as scroungers as they seek to cut the number of people on the disability living allowance, the benefit now given to 1.9 million people deemed physically unable to work.

Scoring cheap political points, alas, is not a victimless crime, and as the conservative MO in most countries is to stir up resentment among middle class voters against people on benefits (read: people who are receiving the help they desperately need) to get them to the polls, it’s hard not to think this is exactly what they were hoping for. Now we have people assuming those in wheelchairs are frauds, falsely believing that because disabled people can -shock! – leave their houses, they must be faking it, and are demanding that their fellow citizens show proof they are disabled to them, who have no right to demand any such thing from these unfortunate folk, or are reporting them to the council. This is not the country I want Britain to be.

As someone who was until very recently unemployed, I too feel resentment – towards those who used me as a pinata in order to generate support for their unfair, cruel policies towards those on benefits. While there are people who abuse the system, and people who do regard receiving benefits as a way of living, they are vastly outnumbered by the genuine cases of people needing support from the state while they attempt to find work, or are living with disabilities and so are incapable of working. And I always found it laughable – after seeing firsthand on jobsites that there were at least several dozen applicants for literally every job – that Iain Duncan Smith and company claimed that people on Jobseeker’s Allowance just needed more incentive to find work, as if that would cause jobs to magically spring out of the ground for them. There are simply not enough jobs to go round even in the best of times, but the Tories, most of whom have never had to fight for a job in their lives, still don’t understand that.

Shirley Sherrod Returns to USDA, Andrew Breitbart To Cry Self To Sleep

Good news: Shirley Sherrod, the USDA employee who was smeared by Andrew Breitbart, causing them to wrongfully fire her, will be returning to the department albeit in a different capacity:

Shirley Sherrod, the U.S. Department of Agriculture employee who was forced out after a portion of a videotape was misleadingly used to show her making a racially insensitive remark, will start working for the USDA again, the department told POLITICO Friday. But she’s not getting her old job back.

Instead, Sherrod will help the USDA improve its dismal civil rights record.

No one should ever have to go through what Sherrod did, and the tragedy of it all is that nothing was learned from it, just as Sherrod’s humiliation came about because nothing was learned from Breitbart’s false editing of the ACORN tapes. What would be a greater reward than any compensation won from the lawsuit she launched against Breitbart for slander and defamation, is if the media refused to take anything that passes through Breitbart’s slimy, lying hands seriously ever again. But that’s about as likely to happen as Breitbart showing any kind of remorse for his despicable and destructive actions.