Maybe it’s just that every idiot in the media village was busy discussing Bachman’s incapacitating migraine problem (I guess ‘We can’t elect a woman president, because PMS har har har’ tested a little too paleolithic), but I’m surprised this story didn’t get more attention:
Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann pointed to one program in particular Monday when talking about wasteful government spending: a multibillion dollar settlement paid to black farmers, who claim the federal government discriminated against them for decades in awarding loans and other aid.
The issue came up after Bachmann and Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa toured flooded areas along the Missouri River. During a news conference, they fielded a question about whether farmers affected by the flooding also should be worried by proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture cuts.
The two responded by criticizing a 1999 settlement in what is known as the Pigford case, after the original plaintiff, North Carolina farmer Timothy Pigford. Late last year, President Barack Obama signed legislation authorizing a new, nearly $1.2 billion settlement for people who were denied payments in the earlier one because they missed deadlines for filing.
King has likened the Pigford settlement to “modern-day reparations” for African-Americans. He said Monday a large percentage of the settlement “was just paid out in fraudulent claims” and criticized the Obama administration’s plan to resolve separate lawsuits filed by Hispanic and female farmers.
Bachmann seconded King’s criticism, saying, “When money is diverted to inefficient projects, like the Pigford project, where there seems to be proof-positive of fraud, we can’t afford $2 billion in potentially fraudulent claims when that money can be used to benefit the people along the Mississippi River and the Missouri River.”
Adam Serwer at the Washington Post picks apart “Bachmann’s bogus attack“:
Bachmann’s response is almost a liberal parody of how conservatives try to divide and conquer on the issue of government spending. Asked about potential cuts to hundreds of billions in agriculture subsidies, her response in effect is, “you know who doesn’t deserve government money? Black people!” The comedy doesn’t stop there, though. Bachmann’s own family farm has received $260,000 in farm subsidies over the years.
The short story behind the Pigford settlement is that the USDA spent years handing out loans and assistance to white farmers hand over fist while ignoring black farmers who asked for help, and has agreed to help black farmers who asked for but did not receive assistance during that time. Bachmann, echoing conservative bloggers, insisted that there is “proof positive” of fraud in the Pigford settlement. Not so. Claims filing for the second Pigford settlement hasn’t even begun yet, and 31 percent of the claims in the first settlement were denied. Not only that, but the second settlement was passed with an assortment of new anti-fraud provisions. The USDA Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office will both be conducting audits of the claims as they’re being processed, and their findings will be forwarded to the Department of Justice. So if there is fraud, we’ll find out about it.
For months, conservatives alleged that the Pigford settlement represented Obama “reparations” for black people. Of course, the settlement was supported by the decidedly non-black Republican Senator from Iowa, Chuck Grassley, so this doesn’t even pass the laugh test. But it’s telling that when asked about the more than a hundred billion dollars the federal government dishes out in agriculture subsidies a year, Bachmann started complaining about a $1.2 billion settlement for black farmers discriminated against by the federal government. As usual, culture warriors like Bachmann get furious about how government money is being spent only when it’s going to the “wrong” people.
I guess we need to add Pigford to the list of teahadist buzzwords. Steve King, let it never be forgotten, was the only House member willing to vote against “a House measure to erect a plaque in the Capitol Visitors Center, recognizing the history of slave labor in the construction of the Capitol,” because that would denigrate “America’s Judeo-Christian heritage“…
And speaking of bottom-feeders who in a less debased republic would be shunned like a walking papilloma virus, Andrew Breitbart also considers himself a victim:
Lawyers for conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart asked Tuesday that a federal judge throw out a defamation case that former government employee Shirley Sherrod brought against him. […] __
In the first hearing in the case Tuesday, exactly a year to the day Sherrod was ousted, lawyers for Breitbart argued that Sherrod’s case is an attempt to dampen free speech and should be dismissed. They also argued to have it dismissed under a District of Columbia statute that aims to prevent the silencing of critics through lawsuits.
If the case is not dismissed, Breitbart and O’Connor’s lawyers argued to have it moved from the District of Columbia to California, where the two men live. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon said he would consider all of the requests but did not indicate how he would rule.
Lying is a protected form of free speech now? I’d hope Sherrod gets awarded Breitbart’s every asset, but I don’t know why she’d want a trunkload of crush porn, the Stormfront mailing list, and a rat-faced houseboy who likes to tape himself playing dress-up.