The Cruelty Really Is The Point

There are things I understand, and things I never will.

Take crime. I can understand the motives for many criminal acts– you see something you want and can’t afford, so you steal it; you are so furious with someone that you beat or even kill them. These are wrong actions, and certainly not excusable–but most of us can see and at least partially understand the human weaknesses involved.

On the other hand, there are anti-social behaviors that defy understanding. Vandalism, for example–the act of simply trashing something–has always confounded me. Another is hurting people who lack the ability to fight back, just because you can.

And that brings us to today’s GOP.

What triggered this post was a headline in the Washington Post, “Republican governors in 15 states reject summer food money for kids.”

Republican governors in 15 states are rejecting a new federally funded program to give food assistance to hungry children during the summer months, denying benefits to 8 million children across the country.

The program is expected to serve 21 million youngsters starting around June, providing $2.5 billion in relief across the country.

The governors have given varying reasons for refusing to take part, from the price tag to the fact that the final details of the plan have yet to be worked out. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said she saw no need to add money to a program that helps food-insecure youths “when childhood obesity has become an epidemic.” Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen (R) said bluntly, “I don’t believe in welfare.”

Activists with nonprofit  organizations in the states rejecting the funds say the impact will be devastating –it will add pressure on private food banks that are already overwhelmed.

In 2022, food insecurity rates increased sharply, with 17.3 percent of households with children lacking enough food, up from 12.5 percent in 2021, according to the USDA.

In Oklahoma, for example, pandemic food relief money has been helping more than 350,000 children in need for the past four summers. Now that money has dried up with no statewide replacement on the way, and nonprofit assistance groups are scrambling to fill the gap.

What do these Republican Governors stand to gain by refusing to take advantage of an existing program and rejecting funds that have already been appropriated?  What blow against obesity (!) or “welfare” is achieved by refusing to feed hungry children?

As the article points out, a number of these states have also refused to extend Medicaid to their poor citizens. Wouldn’t want to let those “undesirables” access medical care!

And although the article didn’t mention it, there’s considerable overlap between the Red states that don’t want to feed hungry children and Republicans’ ugly use of trans children as a political wedge issue. As Indiana Senate candidate Marc Carmichael points out, as acceptance of gay citizens has diminished their usefulness as a wedge issue, Republican extremists like Jim Banks have turned to attacks on trans children. As Carmichael says, it’s despicable to pick on children who are vulnerable and powerless. It is particularly cruel to focus such attacks on children who are already struggling with their identities.

And there’s so much more…

What about the cruelty of denying appropriate medical care to pregnant women?  Abortion bans, according to GOP culture warriors like Banks, are needed to “save” innocent babies. That concern about babies rather obviously doesn’t translate into feeding hungry children. It also didn’t keep the Trump administration from tearing immigrant children from their families–without even documenting where they were being sent so that they could find each other again. It obviously doesn’t prompt Republicans to protect the lives and health of those children’s mothers.

Nope–once those babies emerge from the womb, they’re on their own.

There are plenty of other examples– Adam Serwer’s recent best-seller, “The Cruelty is the Point” spells them out, as does a recent essay from the Telegraph. After listing a number of Republican positions that seem deliberately intended to hurt people who lack the means to resist, the author considers what the GOP offers in return:

The ability to be openly intolerant of others.  Starting with immigrants and extending to minorities, the poor, and any non-fundamentalist Christian, the list of people Republicans are encouraging others to revile keeps growing.  Employing a word that they refuse to define for fear of sounding silly, Republican candidates rail against “woke” as though it stood for Satan’s agenda, when all it means is being aware of injustice.  What is more intellectually cruel than wanting your followers to be intolerant, unaware and ignorant?

Republicans used to debate the best way to help people who needed that help. Today’s GOP doesn’t want to help anyone but gun owners and the party’s donors. Certainly not hungry children.



  1. There is a solution to the problem of GOP cruelty and lack of compassion. Register to vote. Encourage all your friends to register to vote. Get involved with groups that are working to Get Out the Vote. Vote.
    Also, make noise by calling the elected officials who represent you in Congress, at all levels of government, and persist. Call, write, meet them in person, especially if they are from the GOP. You may not persuade them to change their mind or vote differently, but you will have at least done something more than post your thoughts on social media. But do that too.
    Unless and until that mythical Blue Wave appears, we will be stuck with the World’s Worst Legislature. We all have a part to play.

  2. Today’s GOP has 2 major objectives:
    Maximize top quintile wealth
    Maximize Christianity’s role in society

    Anything* which reduces income transfer to shareholders or reduces rentierism, or which involves a government role in a social safety net which requires higher taxes.

    *Living wages, eliminating rentierism, safety and environmental regulations, the poor, refugees, tax reform & IRS funding, etc.

    In a corporate capitalist economy, wage control by absentee shareholders ensures workers are expenses not assets and all of their value-added above a bare-bones subsistence level to be shifted to rent-seeking shareholders. This isn’t viable long term without some of that value coming back, whether through a fully funded social safety net or through universal basic income.

    The top quintile realizes that and resists the pressure by mischaracterizing the underpaid as dole-seeking leeches and by gifting them to churches as ministry/mission justifying fodder.

  3. And let’s not ignore the razor wire barriers along the Rio Grande in Texas. Greg Abbott is the cruelest of the cruel … and he doesn’t care what anybody else thinks.

    How about we pile the bodies of those children who starved to death on the front porches of those redneck governors and let them waft their decaying smells into the nostrils of the most cruel?

    Republicans – mostly – revel in their cruelty … and stupidity … and inhumanity. Sorry, Todd, but you don’t see Democrats doing any of these things to indirectly assault the poor citizens in our nation. It is another gift from un-regulated capitalism and the utter corruption of Citizens United, the latter being the medieval gift to the monied/ruling class to finish the job of destroying democracy.

    Well done, Christian voters. The Beattitudes and the books of Luke and Matthew must be tough for you to read and not vomit from all that socialism.

    Cruelty? Sure. It’s what Republicans have become. If there’s no profit for their paymasters, the topic becomes relegated to hate, fear and bigotry. It is what they are.

  4. New York,San Francisco and Los Angeles are bastions of Democratic territories. Yet, Democrats are leading the way for the use of hostile architecture against the poorest and most marginalized.

  5. There’s enough cruelty emanating from both of those scumbag private organizations known as the Democratic and Republican parties.

    They never inconvenience those attending their opulent thousands of dollars a plate fundraisers, do they?

  6. Today’s GOP has 2 major objectives:
    Maximize top quintile wealth
    Maximize Christianity’s role in society

    The first is certainly true, but the second is absolutely false. THESE PROPLE ARE NOT BEHAVING IN A CHRISTIAN FASHION!!

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…. On the seventh day God rested and looked upon his creation and said “It is Good.” Not just some of it, ALL of it!

    Jesus said “Even as you do unto the least of these, so you do unto me.”

    Jesus said “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into heaven.”


    They are just CRUEL SADISTS!!

    It is the DUTY of ALL of us who consider ourselves to be Christians to VOTE these BASTARDS out of office!!

  7. And Sheila, we have met and I know that you are Jewish. I consider you to be a better Christian than I am myself! God Bless You for the truth that you tell the world.

  8. CGH, with all respect, please understand that your comment that a Jewish person pursuing justice and supporting the welfare of the vulnerable is “Christian” behavior, although I don’t think you intended it as anti-Semitic, it can easily read that way. Christians don’t even remotely have a monopoly on those behaviors or attitudes (literally, this morning, Jews all over the world are reading a section of Torah which is one of a great many which specifically address practical methods to protect the the economically vulnerable). Given the “when will you stop beating your wife” and blood-libel accusations so frequently made by Christians against Jews, especially in the present political climate, it *really* reads that way.

  9. Sheila writes, “That concern about babies rather obviously doesn’t translate into feeding hungry children.”


    The US political class is filled with hypocrisy. They don’t want a war with Iran or the ME while bombing Yemen, Syria, and Iraq, and endorse genocide against the Palestinians, mainly children. Sorry, Vern, but Genocide Joe is leading that campaign.

    One of the arenas in those 15 states that can make waves or make life difficult is the unions. Hit the oligarchs where it hurts the most — profits. Sadly, the UAW will be of no use as they recently told Genocide Joe that we need to go to war. Talk about a performative setup!

    These 15 yahoos probably claim to be Christian, which is also blatant hypocrisy. What do you call the governor who doesn’t believe in social welfare? A Libertarian?

    Again, where are the unions?

    They seem to be controlled by the same oligarchs who control the Democratic Party. Their lack of action tells us all we need to know. The teachers union could cripple those 15 governors by going on strike for their kids.

    Supposedly, we are a democratic society. It’s time we explore options available to citizens to counteract authoritarian rule and unfair practices. Create some consequences for those trying to score points with their donors (the minority). Action, action, action…

  10. CGH nailed it…these people are not Christians. Jesus fed the poor on numerous occasions, and they would know it if they ever read the Bible they claim to know and adhere to. These rethuglikans and their BS infuriates me. No woman can attain an abortion but these deplorables do not want to do a damn thing to help those fetuses, now living babies, then growing children, become productive healthy adults. They all need to burn in hell for their hateful actions!

  11. If one genuinely wants to know what is driving religious and political fundamentalism, you should read The Lucifer Principle.

  12. I wholeheartedly agree with James’ comment. Register to vote and get out to vote! The only outcome that will really matter is what occurs on election day! Put these selfish, malicious, ignorant people in the trash pile of the forgotten.
    As an example, Senator Braun’s latest TV ad blatantly and cavalierly characterizes him as anti-WOKE and mentions TFG prominently at least 3-4 times as unequivocally endorsing his candidacy. Should he become the Republican candidate for governor, he needs to be relegated to that same trash pile by each of our votes against anyone who stands for the proposition that being alert and aware of what is going on, or well informed, especially in racial and social justice issues, is somehow bad or wrong. Really?! Disgusting!

  13. I don’t know why exactly, but it seems to me that we homo sapiens overly complicate what we use the abstraction “morality” to categorize. It’s simply the confluence of respecting yourself and everyone else equally.

    Isn’t it that simple? Yet we build mountains of mythology out of clouds to teach our children that.

    There is no benefit to limiting your respect to only those like you. Perhaps it was for hunter/gatherers back when food directly from untilled land was necessary for survival, but that ended centuries ago. Since then, we all live in supply chains, not nature.

    Perhaps, as science has tried to figure out, there are simply too many of us for the Earth to support. If so, there are many more respectful ways to reduce our population and the complexity of our supply chains to find a balance that works for everyone. That may require systems that change to balance between capitalist versus socialist economies, I don’t know.

    What I do know is that it requires democracy to ensure that those who seek influence can be managed by the collective in ways that make power temporary and limited to only those areas of life that require rules to organize our individual talents, abilities, and efforts.

  14. “The Lucifer Principle” is now on my reading list.
    CGH, yes, one does not have to be a Christian to hold, and live by, Christian values. In fact, one does not even need to believe in a god-thing to do so.

  15. Wow, so many excellent comments starting with the first by James , Rock and Roll, Todd. I actually agree with 95% of the points even a majority of the somewhat contrarian posts. Pete there is plenty of Earth I think we just need to be better stewards. Our habits and the Republicans are killing us as fast. Glyphosate and Polyvinylchloride in the majority of humans blood, Fracking and dirty oil or any oil at all. Our entire overdependence on fossil fuels, agricultures failure to adopt no till methods, poorly maintained rail transportation infrastructure system are just a few of the systems that will experience major failures in the future. I predict rail will be the soonest and most disastrous but a Black Swan event could occur in any.

  16. Let me use this moment to say that I don’t think Indiana was one of those states mentioned? Still, there are plenty of places in Indiana that could use food donations and volunteers. Second Helpings helps a lot in the inner city and out towards Noblesville is the Grace Food Pantry which supports many families. At Second Helpings you can help out by chopping up vegetables or washing dishes. At Grace, you can help families pick out groceries according to a point system and help by restocking the shelves. Grace also just gained a new mobile pantry to try and be even more accessible to those in need.

  17. Who are the followers of Jesus? Who is my neighbor? Do we have to have labels to identify everyone?

    Just like the fact that my neighbor is the enemy. My enemy was the one who took care of me and therefore is my neighbor. From this I conclude that the followers of Jesus might not be “Christian”. They might just be those who welcome the strangers, who feed the hungry, who tend the sick and do all the things Jesus asks of us. It might be a Jew, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Wiccan, an atheist, or even a Christian.

  18. States controlled by Rs limit access to a number of programs which were established to help the less fortunate. Health care and nutrition programs for kids, to name two. Make the rules complicated and add hoops to jump through to ‘qualify’. Just one more reason to consolidate them into a single UBI for all.

  19. Whited sepulchers seems to describe the performative “Christians” who, with intent to dehumanize and harm, act in direct opposition to the New Testament teachings they love to rationalize and cherry-pick. They ignore the basic message to love one another as you would be loved.

    I have no solution to this other than to call out what they say as well as what they do. They are dead on the inside and wrapped in white shrouds to hide the rot and stink. Voting where it is possible sounds so easy when it really can take attention, active intention and perseverance by the marginalized and vulnerable.

    This morning, an NPR journalist in SC reported that there were people in the state who did not even know that there was a primary on Saturday. This is astonishing in the media climate available as compared to the past when print media dominated the delivery system of news. Are they so disconnected, isolated in their preferred bubbles or just constantly seeking infotainment to distract and deny any responsibility as citizens?
    Be an activist in encouraging voter registration in whatever way you can seems to be pretty ineffectual in the face of the billions of dollars the oligarchy is spending to undermine the integrity of our voting system and democratic republic. Urgency and activism take hard work and creative problem solving. Talking to those who hold tfg up as God-chosen is a fool’s errand, IMO. For the more rational undecided, those who are expressing some doubts, there is a chance. We have to do what we can.

  20. The Mosaic Law specifically protected those who could not protect themselves, such as orphans, widows, and foreign residents. The judges in Israel were told: “You must not pervert the judgment of the foreign resident or of the fatherless child, and you must not seize the garment of a widow as security for a loan.” (Deuteronomy 24:17) of course this is Old testament, and part of the Mosaic law of Israel, but what does the New testament say?

    The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world.” (James 1:27)

    The apostle John said: “Whoever has this world’s means for supporting life and beholds his brother having need and yet shuts the door of his tender compassions upon him, in what way does the love of God remain in him?” (1 John 3:17)

    For example, one having true faith would not say to anyone lacking food, “Go in peace, keep warm and well fed,” and not give him the necessities. (James 2:14-26)

    In a 1973 news article, a woman in Decatur, Georgia, says: “I was raised the daughter of a Baptist minister, which meant no makeup, no jewelry, no cards in the house, no dancing of any kind, no short hair on girls, no music on Sundays, and absolutely no tobacco or alcohol. Nearly everything was ‘no.’ By the time I was twelve or so I realized that everyone was saying one thing and actually living another. Most of all my father. He preached on Sunday against everything that he did all week.”

    So, these folks obviously don’t practice what they preach or believe what they say! It’s the stupid ones that swallow everything hook line and sinker because they’re lazy. A preacher’s word is not gospel, you have to read it for yourself!

  21. Todd said
    > The teachers union could cripple those 15 governors by going on strike for their kids.

    No, such a strike would play directly into their hands. An educated populace is a threat to them, they don’t actually want children to be educated. It’s far more likely that those governors would find a way to get rid of all the striking teachers and replace them with some combination of taxpayer subsidies for (unaccountable, by design) homeschooling, and an influx of unqualified MAGA-adjacent “teachers”.

  22. These 15 Republican governors who refused to take federal money to feed poor children within their respective jurisdictions should be removed from office. From all accounts Jesus Christ believed in welfare and Thomas Jefferson inserted the phrase “general welfare” and approved by our Founders in the Preamble to our Constitution.

    Those such as the governor of Nebraska who says he doesn’t believe in welfare lie; they do believe in welfare, but for their rich donors and not the rest us. (See tax cuts etc.)

  23. Thanks, Aimee, for your comment. CGH’s comment struck me that way as well, although I’m almost positive that CGH didn’t realize the underlying racist message in that comment.

    It’s important for us to call attention to unidentified racist tropes so we can all learn to root out negative perceptions.

    f.y.i. I mainly identify with Ron Regan’s view on religion.

  24. Meanwhile yesterday, Indiana Governor Holcomb was in putting on a performative show in Eagle Pass, Texas, with Greg Abbott and 12 other red state governors. I wonder if we paid for his trip.

  25. Aimee and Kathy in particular, and any others that I offended. My most abject apologies. I most certainly did NOT have anything anti-Semitic in mind when I wrote what I did. Jesus was a Jewish prophet and I have always considered the Jewish faith to be a foundation of the Christian religion that subsequently came into existence in his name. And I am not aware of any “Christian” denomination that denies or ignores the “Old Testament” when it talks of “biblical authority.”

    John Peter; thank you for the additional biblical references that make clear the degree of heresy that exists within the MAGA/”Christian” Nationalist movement. These people need to be placed in a “chamber of contemplation” where they can re-examine the basis of their opinions.

  26. A shift of thinking is needed in state officials who think/plan in hierarchical terms. Not all citizens are worthy of consideration and respect seems to be their mindset. Those officials show they are not broadminded enough to take in and deal with all of their citizens. It’s their weakness.
    Joe Campbell wrote about Judo/Christianity (middle east} religion and thought as not western. Christianity was evolving to a mind set of “holy spirit” where the churches weren’t needed. Of course, churches weren’t going to give up their power and tithes.

  27. While denying food and medical care to growing children, let’s blame them and their parents, schools, and teachers for student absenteeism and low test scores.

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