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Tennessee congressman wins 2013 chutzpah trophy
by Jake Highton
Jun 12, 2013 | 1102 views | 0 0 comments | 54 54 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rep. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee has already won the 2013 chutzpah award.

Fincher, testifying recently on the farm bill before the House Agricultural Committee, denounced the food stamp program in the bill as “stealing other people’s money.” He defended extreme cuts in the monies for nutrition assistance by invoking the Bible: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10, New International version)

A few days later, Fincher was still harping on that theme: “The role of citizens, of Christians, of humanity, is to take care of each other, not for Washington to steal and give to others.”

Yet in one of the grossest instances of hypocrisy ever to come out of Congress, Fincher did not mention that as a Tennessee farmer he has collected a staggering $3.5 million in farm subsidies from 1999 to 2012. According to the Agriculture Department, in 2012 Fincher received a check for $70,000, his share of the subsidy given to farmers even if they do not grow crops.

Boy Scout bias

The Boys Scouts of America has repealed the ban on gay scouts but it’s only half a loaf: it still forbids gay and lesbian leaders.

“It ducked the chance for a principled repudiation of bigotry in favor of equivocation,” the New York Times editorialized. “The message to young people is still: if you’re gay, keep quiet. There is something wrong with you. Boy scouting still equates homosexuality with deviance.”

The Girl Scouts have long adopted modern thinking, allowing gay scouts and gay and lesbian leaders.

Offensive Obama travel

The cost of flying Air Force One from Washington to President Obama’s home state of Illinois is $180,000 an hour. Hardly a big federal budget item.

But it is offensive when federal workers are forced to take unpaid furloughs. It is offensive when federal agencies are closed. It is offensive when White House tours are canceled. It is offensive when Obama flies to Florida for golf with Tiger Woods. It is offensive when he flies to Aspen, Colo., so his daughters can ski.

Congressman Chris Stewart of Utah put it well: “The president is asking the people to sacrifice but not himself.”

Wealthy advisers

Meanwhile Obama continues to pack his second-term Cabinet with wealth galore. His latest rich adviser is Michael Froman, nominated as trade representative.

Froman manages a $500,000 Citigroup fund stashed away in the Grand Cayman’s Ugland House, symbol of tax avoidance. The New York Times reports that the “modest whitewashed building” is headquarters for “19,000 business entities seeking favorable tax treatment.” Froman also received millions of dollars to divest himself from Wall Street investments that rely on a tax loophole.

Wealth rules Washington, Congress and Obama too.

Fond farewell

One of the greatest gifts of the gods is laughter. Jean Stapleton was a great gift. As the Times put it in a headline: “The miracle of a ditz with depth.” Stapleton, who died recently, starred in “All in the Family,” a marvelous TV show in which she played Edith, the wife of the bigoted Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor).

Archie was an irascible loading-dock worker who was white, male, conservative and wildly patriotic. He bullied Edith, infuriated his liberal son-in-law (Rob Reiner) and barely tolerated his daughter (Sally Struthers). But Edith, a symbol of emergent feminism in the 1970s, provided the subtle laughter of a compassionate, kind liberal with a serious purpose: demolish bigotry. She succeeded admirably.

Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.
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