“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” begins when a white rabbit with pink eyes runs past her and says, “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late” and then proceeds to pull from a waistcoat pocket a flashy watch before popping down a large rabbit hole under the hedge.

We know what happens next. Alice was bored. The shiny object and haberdashery piqued her curiosity and she jumped in and the rest is a famous novel written by Charles Dodgson, a mathematician at Christ Church, Oxford, under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. Never once considering how in the world she was to get out again, Alice went down, down, down.

“Would the fall never come to an end?” was the question.

And so it is with us. Remember when Gov. LePage and former Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew passed the buck on the tragic death of Marissa Kennedy back in March? I wrote a column about it and said a tragedy on top of the tragedy was that the Maine Republican Brat Pack who orchestrated the starvation of public health programs and designed the slashing of the social safety net was taking their show on the road.

I wasn’t kidding. The Washington Post reported Friday that this cohort are apparently the “loudest and most persuasive voices in the debate over new work requirements in the food-stamp program.”

Oh dear. Oh dear, indeed.

Sam Adolphsen, so-called “Senior Fellow” at the Foundation for Government Accountability, presented testimony to the Subcommittee on Healthcare, Benefits, and Administrative Rules last week in Washington about – you guessed it – welfare reform. The subcommittee is an arm of the larger oversight panel that has a mission and commitment to expose waste, fraud and abuse in the name of good government.

Adolphsen got his start in Maine as a right-wing activist. He went from college to being a campaign manager for Maine Senate Republicans to working for a right-wing special interest group to working in government, where he oversaw, among other things, the awarding of a nearly $1 million no-bid contract to the Alexander Group for a plagiarized and faulty Medicaid study. For that he was promoted by Mary Mayhew to the position of deputy commissioner of finance for the Maine DHHS. Adolphsen now works for nonprofit political organizations.

Phony research packaged like candy and peddled by scrubbed white boys is the shiny watch that Congress is chasing down the rabbit hole on the Farm Bill, and the thick and tightly wrapped red tape strangling the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is the bright waistcoat pocket.

The irony is so rich. Welfare fraud? How about policy fraud? How about ideology wrapped up as research fraud?

The alleged expertise of and “research” by the Foundation for Government Accountability is the real fraud. What’s hard to believe is that House Republicans believe it.

“Junk science,” according to Peter Germanis, a conservative economist who served in the Reagan and Bush administrations.

“Their numbers are way, way off,” Jeffrey Grogger, an applied microeconomist at the University of Chicago who has studied welfare reform, says about the Kansas study that the Foundation for Government Accountability hawks to members of Congress and state legislatures as proof of their assertion that welfare fraud is rampant.

“The amount of fraud identified is directly related to the level of effort put forth to discover it.” This is the message to the Republican lawmakers. Beefing up enforcement is the way Republicans grow government and pad their power base in disguise.

And how about the so-called dignity of work touted by the Brat Pack, the Foundation for Government Accountability and their brother organizations? Have these guys ever worked a day of their life in the private sector for which they claim such great expertise?

Adolphsen has never had a job in the private sector. He’s the “free-market” expert Congress is relying on to restore the “dignity of work” to food stamp recipients?

Down. Down. Down.

The United States Congress is making serious decisions about food policy that will affect hundreds of thousands of hungry Americans, and it’s basing these decisions on junk science and voodoo economics that got its start here in Maine’s political soil. Bogus data and “reports” and research are marketed like soft drinks and prescription meds and the good ol’ boys are gobbling it up like pigs at a trough.

The revolution will be televised, after all. On CSPAN. But the takeover of American politics by ideologues looks like a fairy tale, because it is.

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and former state senator. She may be contacted at her website:


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