There is a lot in the farm bill not to like, which makes it like every farm bill of the last half century. There are also, as Erik Wasson of the Hill reports, the usual absurdities, which opponents will try to carve out of the bill and, no doubt, fail in the attempt. The larger the outrage, the more likely it is to survive. So the government will continue to protect big sugar and non-competitive milk producers, which will result in a loss of American jobs and higher consumer prices.
Some of the bill's smaller absurdities may be at risk. These include spending taxpayer money for:
... wine tastings for foreign journalists and advertising for raisins.
... subsidies for sushi rice.
The most esoteric item up for debate would:
... establish a national standard for egg production [specifying] that larger cages must eventually be used by egg producers.
Who says that Washington's urge to regulate has become pathological?
That is, plainly, just crazy, wingnut, tea party talk.
Texas senator Ted Cruz, a Republican, told viewers on Fox News Monday morning that Americans should avoid a "rush to judgment" on the leaking of classified information by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency systems analyst. The Washington Examiner has the video:
[W]e still don’t know (at least publicly) exactly what Snowden’s job was. So questions remain about whether he should have had access to the materials he passed along to the Guardian and the Washington Post. Or is there some “hole” in the NSA’s internal IT system that allowed him to get around and get to materials he should not have been able to see, let alone download?
One part of the problem may be that far too many people are cleared to handle sensitive material. So many that the government cannot adequately investigate their backgrounds and their character. So many that secrets aren't really secret any longer.
Former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker has launched a group with the mission of restoring trust in government, according to this report by Charles S. Clark in Government Executive. No question something needs to be done and none, either, that Mr. Volcker has a way of getting things done.
Senator Schumer's off-the-shelf solution to any problem, real or merely perceived, is to form a "gang of eight" that comes up with a bipartisan fix. As Keith Laing reports on the Hill, Schumer appeared onFace the Nation and:
The news of the Internal Revenue Service targeting Tea Party groups has Americans spooked. We’re supposed to be a republic, in which everyone is treated equally. So how is it that the federal government has abused so egregiously its taxing power, one of the most potent tools at its disposal?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration "predicts active 2013 Atlantic hurricane season," according to a press release on the government agency's website. The other alternative being offered by NOAA is that this year's hurricane season will be "extremely active."
The state of the union today is uneasy, at best. Washington is crippled by gridlock while Americans across the country feel alienated from their government, so much so that the president feels compelled to remind them that the government is “us.” But is it really so, in a meaningful sense? Sure, the people choose their lawmakers through elections, but does the government actually represent their interests? If it does, why does it fail to solve their problems?