Monday, March 31, 2008

Andrew Sullivan: Hillary C. Flings the Dirt but it’s Sticking to Her

This scorching critique comes from blogger Andrew Sullivan:

Hillary Clinton started throwing some stink bombs at Obama months ago; then, after New Hampshire, she threw the kitchen sink; and in the past week, as cable news threw the boiler, she gave it an extra push.

“I wouldn’t have Jeremiah Wright [Obama’s preacher friend who made embarrassing/incendiary comments] as a pastor,” she told Richard Scaife in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which just happens to be in Pennsylvania, which just happens to be the next primary state.

Clinton wins even more chutzpah points when you recall who Scaife is. He is the far-right media magnate who made a fortune in the 1990s running the most irresponsible antiClinton stories in The American Spectator, who broke Troopergate, who promoted the notion that Clinton had her best friend Vince Foster murdered and fanned the idea that Bill Clinton was a drug dealer. Still, Clinton managed to sit down with him and discuss the real enemy: Obama. Machiavelli would understand, although one has to think he would be a teensy bit more subtle about it.

[...]This is now Clinton’s best hope of beating Obama. The woman who has a great and admirable record on racial issues, whose husband was described as the country’s “first black president”, the candidate with the strongest Hispanic support . . . now needs the votes of older conservative whites, who are uncomfortable with the idea of a black president and suspicious of Latino immigration.

This might explain why Obama's lead continues to grow:
Barack Obama now has a 10-percentage point lead over Hillary Clinton in a national tracking poll conducted by Gallup, the largest lead he has posted in the poll this year.

Gallup reported Obama now leads among Democrats 52 percent against 42 percent for Hillary Clinton, the third day in a row he has held a statistically significant lead against Clinton in the poll.

The movement in the national poll follows a week in which Clinton was widely lampooned for exaggerated accounts she gave of a visit to Bosnia in which she claimed she ran for cover under sniper fire. After the pilot of her plane and reporters who were on the trip with her disputed the account, she conceded she her account was a "mistake" and chalked the incident up to campaign-trail fatigure. But the exaggeration rapidly became fodder for late-night comics and video spoofs on the Internet.

Food Stamp Use Is at Record Pace

While the establishment quibble over whether we are in a recession, Main St. certainly feels like things are going badly. And it's only going to get worse:

Driven by a painful mix of layoffs and rising food and fuel prices, the number of Americans receiving food stamps is projected to reach 28 million in the coming year, the highest level since the aid program began in the 1960s.

The number of recipients, who must have near-poverty incomes to qualify for benefits averaging $100 a month per family member, has fluctuated over the years along with economic conditions, eligibility rules, enlistment drives and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, which led to a spike in the South.

But recent rises in many states appear to be resulting mainly from the economic slowdown, officials and experts say, as well as inflation in prices of basic goods that leave more families feeling pinched. Citing expected growth in unemployment, the Congressional Budget Office this month projected a continued increase in the monthly number of recipients in the next fiscal year, starting Oct. 1 — to 28 million, up from 27.8 million in 2008, and 26.5 million in 2007.

The percentage of Americans receiving food stamps was higher after a recession in the 1990s, but actual numbers are expected to be higher this year.

Federal benefit costs are projected to rise to $36 billion in the 2009 fiscal year from $34 billion this year.

“People sign up for food stamps when they lose their jobs, or their wages go down because their hours are cut,” said Stacy Dean, director of food stamp policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, who noted that 14 states saw their rolls reach record numbers by last December.

One example is Michigan, where one in eight residents now receives food stamps. “Our caseload has more than doubled since 2000, and we’re at an all-time record level,” said Maureen Sorbet, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Human Services.

The climb in food stamp recipients there has been relentless, through economic upturns and downturns, reflecting a steady loss of industrial jobs that has pushed recipient levels to new highs in Ohio and Illinois as well.