Friday, May 02, 2008

Parsing the 110 Congress Part II.

The second part of what could be a series. In the first post, we had a glimpse of how our Congress exposes incompetence in other branches of government rather like a George Foreman slowly grilling whole hog and enjoying every minute of it. But it is rare that they would turn such a spotlight on themselves, as that would threaten retribution in the form of not getting their own appropriations appropriated.

Maybe we should turn a little attention on Rep. Dennis Cardoza, CA-18. Cardoza was the Chief of Staff to Gary Condit when Condit was still in the California State Assembly. If you go to Cardoza's bio on his congressional web site, you find a long and varied political career detailed for you to see, but nary a mention of Condit. It seems that forgetfulness is a Washington convenience.

What you do see is a very opportunistic politician, using Condit's support, getting appointed to a position and then winning re-election with the name recognition of an incumbent. He is always one to stay close to the center, being a blue dog Democrat, and always delivering some benefit for the special interests in his constituency.

This year, he has delivered a pork filled farm bill, one in which he understood that it was not politic to fight the special subsidies in the bill so he worked to get more, but this time for the farmers in his district, those who provided not for commodities, but rather for "specialty crops".

As Carolyn Lockhead reports in the San Francisco Chronicle...

Prominent Los Altos developer John Vidovich and various family members in the Sandridge Partnership of Sunnyvale were the nation's biggest recipients of automatic government payments to farmers last year, receiving more than $1 million, according to a new analysis of federal data by Environmental Working Group.

Known as direct payments, the subsidies go mainly to big farms growing a handful of crops. In the Sandridge case, that is mostly cotton, wheat and peanuts grown on farms controlled by the partnership in the Central Valley.
To put this in perspective, we have a member of the Congressional Portuguese Caucus (all of whose members, Cardoza, Nunes, Costa, used to be Pombo, are Central Valley agribusiness / developers) who wants to buy his continues support by larding up a Farm Bill that continues to give commodity subsides to while the prices we pay for food skyrocket.

This makes political sense when trying to buy votes but makes absolutely no economic sense.

Unfortunately, about the only journalist telling the real story these days is Lockhead and she does not work for a Central Valley newspaper.

If there is one area of this state where we all need a great Green Party presence, it is in the Central Valley. The issues of Community Based Economics, of sustainable agriculture, of urbanization and growth are all issues where the Green Party has the right answers and yet, we are not there, not making noise, not getting attention.

If Cardoza is the best that a Democratic Congress is going to deliver, we are all going to be in greater trouble after we elect an even larger Democratic majority in the fall. I hope that Green voices do not stay silent on this issue.

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