"The only thing I can think of is an advice I was given when I first picked up the guitar: ‘It doesn’t really matter what you do, just beat the shit out of it until it sounds the way you want it to."
"How long did it take you? When did it start to sound right?"
"Oh, it still doesn’t. Maybe one day it will."
But the food stamp program is more complicated than an internet challenge, so this week’s Brookline TAB comic takes a closer look at how food stamps work financially, and steps to curb spending on the $81 billion program.
One of the awesome quirks about the food stamp program (technically the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is its eligibility requirements: You basically earn less than $25,000 a year and you can’t have more than $2,000 in asset to qualify for about $4.50 a day to buy food.
So the catch-22 of aid is if you’re pinched enough to need it, you’ll get barely enough to get by. And if you try improving your situation by taking on more work or getting promoted, your income could kick you from the program before you have a chance to build up savings or pay down debts.
Also: One way or another, someone will cut the program’s budget.
We can boil down this week’s Brookline TAB comic like this:
Brookline artist wants to draw on sidewalk with chalk.
Brookline artist calls lawyer friend.
Town says, “Yes.”
As the TAB reported, the town then issued a permit allowing the artist to draw on the sidewalk with chalk between the hours of 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Thursday, July 18.
The artist, Norah Dooley, apparently did complete her work, and that is awesome.
What is far, far less awesome is that someone in the town realized they couldn’t shut down an artist from exercising her first amendment right, and decided to make practicing that right as unpleasant as possible.
Putting aside the issue of being able to use your rights only if you’re besties with a lawyer, issuing a permit to use sidewalk chalk for four hours during one morning just makes the town as a whole look petty and foolish.
But it sounds like Dooley made the most of her four hours of free expression, based on what she told the TAB:
Dooley said executing the project was her First Amendment right.
“It’s our sidewalk,” she said, adding that someone against the project could just take a bucket of water to it and wash it away. “That is the nature of impermanent chalk art.”
She used the Homeland Security tagline of “If you see something, say something” in her chalk project, as well as quotes from presidents, dead and alive. One example: “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men,” from Abraham Lincoln.
Cartoon Movement and Butch & Sundance Media bring you Female Superheroes, telling “inspiring stories of women in conflict zones. These women are fighting for their rights and risk their lives to save others; their struggle contributes to peace in their country, town or village.”
The Brookline TAB has the latest on the town’s semi-non-functional Human Rights Commission (which has a far longer and grandiose official name). It’s a board designed to improve the stakes for women and minority groups in town, but as reporter Ignacio Laguarda tell us, the board is plagued by infighting, name-calling, calling the police on each other (sorta), resignations and bureaucratic tomfoolery.
As Laguarda writes about the board’s most recent meeting:
After member Larry Onie said the commission should discuss the Selectmen’s moratorium on appointing new commissioners, Alan Balsam, the head of the Health Department, said, “It wasn’t posted, Larry.”
Member Brooks Ames responded, “But the agenda should be something we all decide.”
A number of people spoke up at that point, with Onie continuing to talk as McNally was trying to quiet the crowd.
“Larry, you’re out of order,” she said. “Put that in the minutes. He’s out of order, as usual.”
Onie continued talking.
Later that same night:
…Onie spoke up at that point and McNally tried to stop him.
“No, you’re out of order, second time,” she said.
Onie responded, “Call the police.”
At that point, McNally said, “Oh you’d love to be in the papers wouldn’t you?”
The meeting was abruptly ended when Onie mentioned a past incident, in which he said McNally told Selectwoman Nancy Daly that a commissioner left a message on her voicemail and called her a “bitch.”
In a major ruling on press freedoms, a divided federal appeals court on Friday ruled that James Risen, an author and a reporter for The New York Times, must testify in the criminal trial of a former Central Intelligence Agency official charged with providing him with classified information.
The New York Times expands on the impacts of the decision:
Friday’s ruling establishes a precedent that applies only to the Fourth Circuit, but that circuit includes Maryland and Virginia, where most national security agencies like the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency are. As a result, if it stands, it could have a significant impact on investigative journalism about national security matters.
The Times also describes the ruling as “awkwardly timed for the Obama administration” due to the ongoing discussions between free press advocates and Attorney General Eric H. Holder on the justice department’s treatment of the press.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has portrayed himself as trying to rebalance the department’s approach to leak investigations in response to the furor over its aggressive investigative tactics, like subpoenaing Associated Press reporters’ phone records and portraying a Fox News reporter as a criminal conspirator in order to obtain a warrant for his e-mails.
Last week, Mr. Holder announced new guidelines for leak investigations that significantly tightened the circumstances in which reporters’ records could be obtained. He also reiterated the Obama administration’s proposal to revive legislation to create a federal media shield law that in some cases would allow judges to quash subpoenas for reporters’ testimony, as many states have.