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Following up on the failure of the Republican "leadership" to successfully pass a farm bill, some are expressing anger at the 24 Democratic House members who supported the bill despite the draconian cuts to food stamps included.  But I have to disagree with them on this.  

Because the Republican leadership can't count votes and their party has no discipline, every Democrat with a significant rural constituency that would be helped by the farm aspects of this bill had a free shot to vote FOR this bill, without it actually moving the bill forward in the legislative process or substantively affecting nutrition programs.  

This is a win-win.  Every one of these members (including Senator-to-be Bruce Braley from Iowa) can tell their constituents that they put the needs of their districts ahead of party labels.  Better still, rural voters are predominantly Republican-leaning, who will be faced with the fact that the leaders of their party failed to deliver, while their Democratic member stuck with them.  

The politics of this in the House for Democrats is beautiful.  The nutrition title is the only thing most democrats (who tend to represent more urban districts with little agriculture) care about.  The Senate tends to be more farmer-oriented because a strong majority of the Senate on both sides of the aisle have strong farming lobbies and constituencies in their states.  In 2008, the Senate bill had lower nutrition numbers than the House, and over the course of the conference, the bill got stronger on nutrition to get support from urban House members.  

Boehner, Canter and the rest of the Republican "leadership" can't lead their way out of a brown paper bag.  Maybe they go back and try to make changes that will appeal to all the republican members they lost -- but that just diverges more and more from the bipartisan Senate bill, and in the end there are probably enough Republicans who won't support a farm bill no matter how draconian it is for the poor.  Or maybe they go back and move the bill toward the Democrats on nutrition -- but that enrages their tea party constituency and loses them a lot of Republican votes.  In fact, I have my doubts that the House Democrats (other than those with a significant rural constituency) could now be persuaded to vote for ANY farm bill without returning to the traditional house role of being the branch that is stronger on nutrition programs.  

Look -- I totally agree on the merits of nutrition funding in the bill.  But a vote for this by these 24 Democrats is a vote that helps 23 of those Democrats to hold their seats in some purple districts, and one to win election to the Senate from a heavily ag-dependent state without cutting a dime from SNAP.  Don't mistake these democrats for opponents of nutrition funding.  

Right now the Republican congressional campaigns and these members' prospective opponents in 2014 are cursing Boehner and Cantor for providing these good Democrats political cover in 2014 with nothing to show for it.  This is what winning looks like.  


Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 09:12 PM PST

Why are Liberals so Condescending?

by Headlight

That's the title of an article in the Sunday Washington Post by Gerard Alexander.  With a title and reasoning worthy of a post on the Redstate blog, Alexander reels off a litany of the insults to the proud legacy of conservative thought imposed by liberals on all sides.  

It takes Alexander 18 paragraphs to get to what precipitated this tirade.  

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Sun Mar 01, 2009 at 07:22 PM PST

The Power of Magical Thinking

by Headlight

The Republican party has become the party of superstition.  Their fear of President Obama is vast -- much akin to the fear many of us felt in 2005, when we realized that George W. Bush had been reelected with control of both houses of Congress, and a plan to destroy Social Security.  Their only refuge from their fear is their pure belief in ideological magical thinking.  

(Note: much of the research on cargo cults below is from wikipedia and other web sources).  

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Today's weekly standard includes a column by Fred "the Beetle" Barnes, claiming to disprove that Palin is lying about the bridge to nowhere.  Instead, he proved that she IS lying.  

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Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:59 PM PDT

The Best 24 hours

by Headlight

These last 24 hours may really be some of the best I'll ever live through in politics -- at least until the 24 hours of election day this November.  

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Wed May 28, 2008 at 07:19 PM PDT

Can he take a Frisk?

by Headlight

Maureen Dowd's column today -- in her usual snarky style -- hit on a critical point in the discussion about Clinton "earning the right" to the #2 slot, as some would have it.  

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Florida and Michigan are not doing a revote.  This means that the only results in those two states are the invalid elections that all candidates acknowledged in advance would not send delegates to the national convention.   Since voters were told that the election would not count, and since neither of the candidates campaigned in the states (and in Michigan, Obama was not even on the ballot) it would be unfair for the results in these states to be a factor in the election. Yet, these two states are crucial in the general election and it would be a problem, not just for the presidential candidate but for the party as a whole for 2 large states to be ignored.  

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Wed Jan 30, 2008 at 07:27 PM PST

Nader's Raiders, recruiting.

by Headlight

I was alerted to the resurrection from the political tomb of Ralph Nader by an e-mail that came to me from a political progressive list serve.  It is hard for me to believe that Nader -- who I would have thought would be spending his days in hair shirts and a ritual of daily scourgings to atone for his complicity in the election of the current president -- could possibly think that he still has anything to say to the American public that is worth anyone listening to.  But I wanted to reproduce for the Kos community's edification the message recruiting me to support Nader (I delete links that could help him and identifying information of course.)

Y'know -- I've been getting pretty upset by my concern that the Clintons could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by defeating Obama and then losing to McCain.  Ralph reminds me that there is someone far, far worse than Clinton and McCain that must be opposed.  

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Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 09:52 AM PST

How has "Experience" done so far?

by Headlight

Based on the Iowa results, there is an extraordinary negative correlation between years of federal elected experience and support.  Look back at the candidates service in either elected or appointed federal office compared to their results in Iowa, and the pattern is clear.  

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Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:43 PM PST

Obama's Announcement speech

by Headlight

Barack Obama's speech this morning was really masterful -- I had been considering his candidacy since his speech at the 2004 convention, but I had  felt that he would need to do as Hillary Clinton has done -- serve a full senate term and win reelection before running for president.  However, his speech today showed me that is wrong, and that in fact that path would be the wrong one for Obama.

Obama's speech showed me that not only does he have the skills and drive he'll need to run and win, he also layed out a clear plan for winning both the nomination and the general election.  Obama is going to take out Clinton and be the next president of the United States.  

I'd suggest before reading further, you watch his speech on his website:  

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