My Take on This Week

The Farm bill failed, it should have. The liberals wanted some more benefits, the reasonable conservatives wanted reform; the radical conservatives wanted to trash most of the bill. Its failure exemplifies the fractured, ridiculous mess in Congress. Here’s what I want:

Take welfare programs out of the farm bill. They are only in there for tradition. The SNAP program (Food Stamps) is a good program, and should remain in effect, perhaps even expanded. It should get its own debate in Congress, though. Trim the corporate welfare. Sugar is just one crazy perk, inflated over the years. Simplify. Excessive and complicated benefits and insurance programs have forced even small family farmers into lawyers and tax experts. Agribusinesses work the system pretending they are the family farmers.

Get Dick Lugar to lead a group to clean up this mess. Quoting from Wikipedia: “Lugar twice served as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry from 1995 to 2001, and briefly again in part of 2001. … As Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Lugar built bipartisan support for 1996 federal farm program reforms, ending 1930s-era federal production controls. He worked to initiate a biofuels research program to help increase U.S. utilization of ethanol and combustion fuels, and led initiatives to streamline the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reform the food stamp program, and preserve the federal school lunch program.”

In fact, Obama should ask Lugar to be his advisor for all sorts of things, including building a bridge with the intransigent Republican Party. Let the far right build its own reality, just keep it separate from, you know, the real world and the rest of us.

Karzai is right. Give no easy authority to the Taliban, and Afghanistan deserves plenty of recognition. Adjust, state department. We will have to draw down without giving up.

What’s the difference between a drone and a helicopter and plane? What’s the difference between metadata and public commerce? My point is that watching is okay. It’s intrusion and shooting that bother me. We need clear rules of engagement.

We also need clear rules on who gets tax exemption. Why do ANY political organizations get it? I say, eliminate chapter 501.c.4.

Obama gave a fair speech in Germany. Nukes are still an issue, so is climate change. We – America – should deal with the world from a position of not only strength, but also of respect.

John Kerry has set a tough agenda for himself, no less than several near impossible deals to make. Syria, Israel, Iran. He’s really gambling on his own abilities. Great if he succeeds, too bad if he fails. I foresee a mixed bag.

We await the Supreme Court to issue really big but irrelevant decision on gay rights.


About Jim

I've been leading outdoor environmental education in the YMCA since the 1970s. I love teaching nature, history, current events, being a dad, fixing stuff, groups, and general thinking.
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