“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Collapse of the Republican Party

"the farm bill...actually directs far more money to feeding the poor than it does to helping farmers — about $209 billion for nutrition programs like food stamps, according to the Congressional Budget Office, compared with $35 billion for agricultural commodity programs."

Has anyone actually looked at "the poor" in America? Food is not something they are lacking. The farm bill, at a time of unimaginable farm prices, is passing through Congress with veto proof support. It is a bill with $307 billion of bloated deficit spending for problems that do not exist..."ignoring a veto threat from President Bush who says he wants to sharply limit government subsidies"... Where has the President been for eight years? Bush, his toadies and enablers have wrecked the meaning of being a Republican.

If nothing else, this farm bill should be a wake-up call to anyone pretending that the Republican Party is anything more than a cellulite marbled obesity of its former self. The Republicans are not prepared to lead. They are nothing more than political hacks trying to survive another election.


House Passes Farm Bill by a Veto-Proof Margin

Published: May 15, 2008

WASHINGTON — Ignoring a veto threat from President Bush, who says he wants to sharply limit government subsidies to farmers at a time of near-record commodity prices and soaring global demand for grain, the House on Wednesday approved a five-year, $307 billion farm bill with a solid bipartisan majority.

The House voted 318 to 106 — well above the two-thirds needed to hand Mr. Bush the second veto override of his presidency — with 100 Republicans joining the Democratic majority in favor.

The Senate was expected to follow suit with wide bipartisan support on Thursday, sending Mr. Bush a bill that he described this week as bloated and expensive and said “resorts to a variety of gimmicks.”

The bill includes a $10.3 billion increase in spending on nutrition programs, including food stamps, that supporters called “historic,” as well as increases for rural development and land conservation programs.

It also extends many existing federal subsidies that the president and other critics say are difficult to justify in such flush times for agriculture producers.

Mr. Bush had sought an adjusted gross income limit of $200,000 above which farmers could not qualify for any subsidy payments. The bill passed by the House, however, allows farm income of up to $750,000 and nonfarm income of $500,000 per individual.

That $750,000 limit applies to only one subsidy program, so-called direct payments that are disbursed based on land acreage and regardless of current market conditions or even whether the land is still actively farmed.

While Mr. Bush has long called for curtailing subsidy programs, the farm bill is viewed as vital legislation both across rural America and in impoverished urban centers.

The willingness of a majority of House Republicans to break with the White House reflected both the strong support for the bill and a growing alarm among many lawmakers about their election prospects in November.

Mr. Bush himself made a similar political calculation in 2002, ultimately deciding to sign the farm bill that year even though he had strongly opposed it. A senior official at the time said the White House had concluded it would be “political suicide” in the midterm elections to veto the bill that year.

This year, though, Mr. Bush seems intent on refusing to sign the bill. He has criticized it for months, and on Wednesday he issued a forceful veto threat. He urged Congress to approve a one-year extension of current law, which he said would be better than adopting the new measure.

“Today’s farm economy is very strong, and that is something to celebrate,” he said. “It is also an appropriate time to better target subsidies and put forth real reform.” The bill, he said, “spends too much and fails to reform farm programs for the future.”

On Wednesday evening, Scott Stanzel, a White House spokesman, reiterated the president’s opposition. “With its massive expansion of subsidies, special interest earmarks and budget gimmicks, this bill is wrong for American taxpayers,” he said. “The president will veto it.”

But in debate on the House floor on Wednesday, some Republicans were just as forceful in pledging to defy Mr. Bush should he use his veto pen.

“I know there is a veto threat from the White House,” said Representative Robin Hayes, Republican of North Carolina. “If the president decides to follow through I will be there voting to override him because we need this update for our nation’s policies.”

Should it reach that point, it would be only the second veto override of Mr. Bush’s presidency. The first was in November when Congress overwhelmingly rejected the president’s veto of a $23.2 billion water resources bill that authorized popular projects around the country.

In the House chamber on Wednesday, longtime critics of farm subsidies in both parties echoed Mr. Bush’s complaints about the current bill.

“Where’s the beef?” asked Representative Ron Kind, Democrat of Wisconsin, standing in the House floor next to a poster showing sharp increases in commodity prices — 126 percent for wheat, 57 percent for soybeans, 45 percent for corn. “Where’s the real reform?” he said.

Some critics have also pointed to earmarks in the bill, including a tax break for racehorse owners added by the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and $170 million to benefit the salmon industry inserted by House Democrats from the West Coast.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, in her own speech on the House floor, responded directly to Mr. Kind, whose proposals for drastically overhauling farm subsidies she had supported before the Democrats regained control of Congress in 2006.

Although the legislation is universally known as the farm bill, it actually directs far more money to feeding the poor than it does to helping farmers — about $209 billion for nutrition programs like food stamps, according to the Congressional Budget Office, compared with $35 billion for agricultural commodity programs.

In her speech, Ms. Pelosi praised the bill and said the increase on food stamps alone was reason to support it. She said that while more change would be needed, the bill made important improvements to farm policy.

“With this legislation we will help families facing high food prices,” she said.

At a news conference, the Agriculture Committee chairman, Representative Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota, said he expected the bill to reach the president by May 20 and a veto override to be approved before Congress leaves for a Memorial Day recess.

Both Mr. Peterson and the committee’s senior Republican, Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia, said the bill represented a strong bipartisan compromise.

“I am very pleased that both parties cast a majority of votes for this farm bill,” Mr. Goodlatte said. “We don’t have a two-to-one majority. We have a three-to-one majority.”

He added: “I believe that we now have the opportunity to say to America that this is a farm bill that truly does assure that we continue to have the safest, most affordable, most abundant food supply in the world. We have addressed the needs of America’s farmers and ranchers.”


  1. “I am very pleased that both parties cast a majority of votes for this farm bill,” Mr. Good Latte said. A rich bill indeed, heavy with cream and sugar.

  2. But does it allow farmers to take land out of CRP, or even graze it, is what I want to know.

  3. Carl Rove in the Wall Street Journal,The GOP Must Stand for Something..."Public revulsion at GOP scandals was a large factor in the party's 2006 congressional defeat. Some brand damage remains, as does the downward pull of the president's approval ratings. But the principal elements are the Iraq war and a struggling economy."...

  4. One could look at that farm bill from a class perspective, keeping those at the lower end fed and pre-revolutionary, and those at the upper end reaffirmed in a position of dominance. That would be too simple a way of looking at it, though.

    It keeps the goods coming to market, at least.

  5. It's a good thing she's sitting right at the strongest point on that bench, or it would collapse, along with the GOP.

  6. It's an old trick.

    WIKIPEDIA: Gaius Julius Caesar used Clodius (a former patrician turned plebeian), as tribune of the plebs, to make the grain distributions free of charge, thus winning himself support from the Roman populace. His popularity with the proletariat and his own armies (combined with his brilliant military reputation) made him a credible alternative to what was seen as a moribund Senate.

    Just reverse that. We've got a moribund President.

  7. Too late for the pre-revolutionary bit. You can flush that one down the toilet.

  8. A BUST of Julius Caesar thought to be the oldest statue of the Roman ruler ever found has been dredged from a river in southern France.

    The marble figure from around 46BC shows him as looking old and "balding, wrinkly and stressed", according to experts.

    It is believed to have been thrown into the Rhone in Arles after Caesar was assassinated by Brutus and Cassius, because no one wanted to be associated with him after he died.

    Busts Out

  9. Times are tough indeed. Food Spending As % Of Disposable Income Over The Years In USA

    No wonder that girl has put on weight, she can afford it.

  10. Cool link, al-Bobal.
    Didja read the comments?

    this was mike G, I believe:
    "The price of fuel is sucking the puchasing power out of the American people. Our dollar ain't worth chit, the political power in America has done it's best to alienate us. It's time for us to realize it before we are reduced to driving bicycles like the Chinese, and that would be fine, if you didn't have to drive half the day to get where you ought to be in RURAL America and where we feed you.

    If you cut Rural Agricultural America away from society We'll bust your ass as you drive out for food, we will know who you are assholes. You have no clue how to grow the chit that keeps your ass alive in your metro world.

    Remember who feeds you and it and it ain't that worthless american dollar in you pocket,

    You couldn't produce pig chit all you can can do is talk chit

  11. As to uploading them Photos:
    Question 1:

    Have you used the blogger editor thingy?

  12. Anyone paying taxes to such government(s) is a fool.