“My forecast for tonight is absolute 100% rain,” Professor Plum said as he walked into the mail room, dry as can be. “Do meteor showers count?”

At least he read the mail. (More)

The staff assured Professor Plum that, while meteorologists forecast weather, meteor showers are not rain. Ms. Scarlet took Professor Plum’s hand and they left to join the resident faculty in the wine cellar library, where they’ll spend the weekend drinking thinking on our motto of Magis vinum, magis verum (“More wine, more truth”).

In the staff poker game, the Professor of Astrology Janitor was absolutely 100% certain that he had the best hand. He had a pair of Aces, after all. He opened with a standard raise, and was delighted when Chef replied with a pot-sized reraise. Confident that she held a pair of Queens or Kings, he responded by pushing the rest of his chips into the middle. To his surprise, Chef called … and turned over the other two Aces.

The Ten of Clubs, Six of Hearts, and Deuce of Diamonds on the flop guaranteed that neither could make a flush to win the hand. As they split the pot, the Professor of Astrology Janitor began his plaintive mewling. Chef went to the kitchen to make Absolutely Perfect Deviled Eggs, leaving your lowly mail room clerk to review the week’s correspondence….

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Dear Ms. Crissie,

So I’m in Crystal City and I’m buying my groceries … and I noticed everybody was giving that card. They had these huge baskets, and I realized it was the first of the month. But then I’m looking over, and there’s a couple beside me. This guy was built like a brick house. I mean he had muscles all over him. He was in a little tank top and pair of shorts and really nice Nike shoes. And she was standing there, and she was all in shape and she looked like she had just come from a fitness program. She was in the spandex, and you know, they were both physically fit. And they go up in front of me and they pay with that card. Fraud. Absolute 100% all it is is fraud … it’s all over the place. And there you go, to the fact that we shouldn’t be supporting those who won’t work.

Markwayne in OK

Dear Markwayne,

We applaud your taking the time to admire the couple’s physiques. That said, we question your certainty that they were committing food stamp fraud. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has one of the most rigorous monitoring systems of any federal benefit, and in 2011 a random sample of over 50,000 cases found that over 98% of SNAP recipients were confirmed to be eligible, and that over 95% of eligible recipients received the correct benefit amount. We further note that, as 30% of SNAP recipients do work, it is entirely possible this couple were physically fit because they work hard. Of course, you didn’t report this suspected fraud so there is no way to verify the couple’s eligibility. We also note that, because you didn’t report this suspected fraud, there is no way to verify that the events in your story even happened. We suspect the absolute 100% fraud here … is you.

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Dear Ms. Crissie,

In a recent House debate, a Democrat from Maryland said there’s 50 million people starving in America today. I disagree with that. I think there’s 330 million people starving at least three times a day. We call it breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But as far as 50 million nutritionally deprived people in this country, I beg to differ. Not one person will lose a calorie, or a crumb, that deserves it. We’re going to make sure that people live. We’re going to make sure that safety net’s there, and I don’t know if I told you guys, but my wife and I, when we were about 19 or 20, Jimmy Carter was in office, inflation shot up, interest rates went up to 22%, we, umm, lost our job. And so, we went on food stamps for about a month and a half, two months. And so I know the value of a safety net program, and so I will do whatever I can to protect people that need them. But it’s not a lifestyle and we need to wean people off and so there’s actually great cuts in the farm program … and it made real nutritional cuts so people don’t just pick up a pamphlet, because if you pick up a pamphlet you can automatically qualify for food stamps. And I don’t think that’s what we want in this country. I don’t think that’s what it was designed for, a safety net.

Ted in FL

Dear Ted,

We applaud your commitment to preserving the safety net. However, we question your determination to limit the safety net to those who “deserve” it, rather than those who qualify under federal guidelines. Far too often, people think the “deserving” poor are … people who look like themselves.

We also note that Republicans seem determined to peddle myths, so we will offer some facts on SNAP. Fully 76% of SNAP beneficiaries are families with a child, a senior, or a disabled person, and those families receive 83% of SNAP benefits. No one automatically qualifies for food stamps. The categorical eligibility rule allows states to match SNAP eligibility with that of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, to reduce administrative costs and simplify the verification process. All applicants must still apply through the normal SNAP process, and must still document their income, citizenship, work status, and other relevant circumstances. Moreover, the SNAP program already has strict time limits for unemployed but able workers. Unless they are working in a qualified job training program, able-bodied adults – including those with dependents – can receive no more than three months of SNAP assistance in any three-year period. Finally, we note that in 2012 the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Agriculture devoted more than 50% of their resources to investigating waste, fraud, and abuse in the SNAP program, and almost all of the cases they found involved fraud by retailers, not by beneficiaries.

Despite the myths you apparently believe and peddle to your constituents, there is no way to cut $40 billion from SNAP without imposing severe hardships on needy families. We conclude that, like so many Republicans, you got government help when you needed it … and now you want to pull up the ladder behind you.

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Dear Ms. Crissie,

I’m absolutely 100% confident that I’ll enjoy Chef’s Absolutely Perfect Deviled Eggs, once I get the recipe.

Confidently Waiting for Breakfast in Blogistan

Dear Confidently Waiting,

To make Chef’s Absolutely Perfect Deviled Eggs, first hard-boil 12 eggs, then let them cool a bit, and peel off the shells. Cut the eggs in half and carefully scoop out the yolks, keeping the egg white halves intact. Put the yolks in a blender with 1 teaspoon dry mustard, ½ cup mayonnaise, ½ teaspoon paprika, ¼ teaspoon each of ground black pepper and garlic powder, 1 teaspoon each of chopped parsley and minced chives, and 2 tablespoons of finely chopped sweet onions. Blend until smooth and then spoon the mixture into the egg whites. Chef garnishes hers with an extra dusting of paprika. Bon appétit!

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Sources:

Markwayne in OK; one of the most rigorous monitoring systems of any federal benefit.

Ted in FL; facts on SNAP; USDA OIG devoted more than 50% of their investigative resources to SNAP; pull up the ladder behind you.