Blanche Lincoln

Debbie Stabenow v. Ben Nelson; Cherry Orchards v. Con Agra

This could be an interesting, beneficial outcome of this year’s election: Debbie Stabenow ascending to Chair the Agriculture Committee.

As of his last calculation, Nate Silver gives the Democrats an 84% chance of keeping the Senate. But they’ll keep it without Blanche Lincoln, whom Nate gives a 100% chance of losing to John Boozman. And that’ll open up the Chairmanship on Ag.

The Politico reports that, in spite of the fact that four people have more seniority on the committee, Stabenow stands a decent chance of getting the post, though Bad Nelson might demand it as his reward for staying in the caucus.

Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow is seen as the front-runner to replace Lincoln, but that’s not a given. Nebraska moderate Ben Nelson might win the post as a consolation prize for staying in the Democratic Party, or Kent Conrad of North Dakota could abandon his budget chairmanship to take the helm.

[snip]

“Everybody in town seems to think that she is most likely going to be the next chairman,” said one lobbyist who tracks the committee.

Sources close to the panel say the Michigan Democrat is well-liked by her colleagues and earned their respect during the last round of farm bill negotiations by bridging the interests of states with commodity crops and those with specialty fruit and vegetables.

But because Michigan isn’t your typical Big Ag state, some observers say Stabenow might face opposition from powerful industry lobbies. “There would probably be fear among some of the industry leaders of the cotton people and the wheat people and the barley people if they saw Stabenow take the helm,” said an industry source close to the committee.

Now, Stabenow isn’t always the most hardnosed leader. And on occasions (notably, the bankruptcy bill) she has put corporate interests ahead of her constituents.

But as the Politico article suggests, she would make a very interesting Ag Chair because of the nature of our Ag industry in MI. That’s because MI’s Ag industry has a diversity second only to CA, but (because of the scale) much less dominated by big players. Here’s a snapshot:

  • Michigan is the national leader in the production of tart cherries, having grown 196 million pounds or 77% of the U.S. total in 2007.
  • Michigan also ranks first nationally for the production of pickling cucumbers, geraniums, petunias, squash and vegetable-type bedding plants.
  • Michigan ranks 3rd in the nation in apple production with over 770 million bushels produced in 2007. The estimated farm-level value was $97.1 million.
  • Michigan is 2nd nationally for beans, carrots, celery, plums and 3rd in asparagus production.
  • Over 887,560 tons of fresh market and processing vegetables were grown in Michigan in 2007. The state ranks 8th in fresh market and 5th in processed vegetable production nationally.
  • Michigan ranks 3rd nationally in value of wholesale sales of floriculture products.
  • In 2007, Michigan led the nation in the value of sales for 13 crops, including: Potted Easter Lilies, Potted Spring Flowering Bulbs, Potted Geraniums (seed), Potted Petunias, Potted New Guinea Impatiens, New Guinea Impatiens Hanging Baskets, Geraniums, Impatiens, Begonia and Petunia Hanging Baskets, Impatiens and New Guinea Impatiens (flats) and Potted Geraniums (cuttings).
  • About 335,000 dairy cows produced 7,598 million pounds of milk in 2007. Michigan ranks 7th nationally for milk production
  • Michigan’s hog production totaled 556 million pounds in 2007. Michigan ranks fourteenth in the

    nation in terms of inventory.

  • There were over 1 million head of cattle in the state in 2007 with an estimated value of $1.42 billion.

(Somehow, that list neglected to mention blueberries, where we also lead the nation). MI farms are, on average, smaller than the national average, though they are more profitable per acre. There’s a very healthy farmers market culture here, and also some proactive efforts to develop locally-branded processed food from our harvest, such as the soy processing plant 10 miles from here that offers a non-GMO soy oil. Our local big grocery chains do a pretty good job of promoting locally produced products.

And then there’s Tony the Tiger, which is about as Big Ag culture as we get.

In other words, if Stabenow gets the Chair it’ll put someone who is not beholden to Big Ag the way the Ag Chairmen typically are. At a time when the local Ag movement is picking up steam, we might have someone whose constituency would support such an effort.

Compare that with the most likely alternative: Ben Nelson. Who represents, among other corporations, Con Agra. As big as Big Ag gets.

Mind you, the decision may be made by the margin with which the Democrats keep the Senate. If we keep it by just two votes, I imagine we’ll see Con Agra continue to rule. But if we can eke out a few more seats, it’ll give Bad Nelson much less leverage to demand this Chairmanship.

(Cherry Orchard image by jsorbieus)

The Day after Blanche Filibusters Defense Bill, Biden Rewards Her w/$$$

This is just pathetic:

Vice President Joe Biden travels to Boston Wednesday, where he’s scheduled to team up with Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.

A Democratic source tells CNN that the event is a fundraiser for the two-term Democratic senator, who faces a very difficult re-election bid this year.

Blanche Lincoln just joined Republicans to scuttle the defense bill, and with it the DREAM Act and DADT repeal–both purportedly Administration priorities (to say nothing about the Defense bill itself). Moreover, no amount of money is going to get Blanche out of her electoral hole this year. And her patrons, the Waltons, have plenty to give her all by themselves, without picking the pockets of Boston liberals.

So why is Joe Biden wasting some of his precious time and political capital helping a woman who, yesterday, broke with the party on the defense bill? Is this Administration so dysfunctional it can’t even demand discipline from those it’s financially supporting?

Lanny Davis Fudges and Shills His Way Through Another Op-Ed

Being away to San Francisco to cover the Prop 8 Closing Arguments this week, I am just catching up on a few things. One I would like to point out is the contemptible and disingenuous op-ed Lanny Davis deposited at The Hill:

Two events last week involving elements of the Democratic Party who call themselves the “true progressives” show a danger they represent to the progressive change they say they want to effect. Together they offer President Barack Obama an opportunity for a “Sister Souljah moment” — perhaps to save the Democratic Party majority in both houses of Congress, as well as his progressive agenda in the last two years of his administration.

First was the success of Sen. Blanche Lincoln in June 8’s Arkansas Democratic primary, despite a campaign organized by these self-described progressives, along with certain labor unions.
……
The second event was a conference on that June 8 primary day, held in Washington and organized by the Campaign for America’s Future, a self-described “progressive” organization, which cheered denunciations of Obama for “retreat on Guantánamo [and] no movement on worker rights or comprehensive immigration reform,” according to The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, and shouted down and nearly prevented liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) from speaking.
……
President Obama can confirm that the Democratic Party still stands for the centrist, Clintonian combination of fiscal conservatism, cultural moderation and progressive social programs that favor the middle class over the extremely wealthy — the best chance the Democrats have to hold their majorities in both houses of Congress and to enact the progressive changes that the critics on the left say they truly want.

The holier than thou arrogance and self entitled belligerence of Davis is simply stunning. As if Obama has not scorned the progressives and netroots enough already. Davis apparently feels he is the one who gets to decide who is, and who is not, a “true Progressive” and those he deems unfit are due the “Sister Souljah” execution hit. Nice. In the process of whining about progressive activism destroying Democratic party unity, he wants to divide, marginalize and destroy a significant sector of the Democratic party. Clearly Davis’ clarity of thought has been so addled by the toxic brine of the inbred Washington Beltway elitism he cannot see he is committing the very sins he complains of. Either that or he is so cravenly duplicitous he does not care. Davis has a history of such duplicity.

Davis similarly accuses the netroots of being “long on innuendo and personal attacks and short on substance”, which is hilarious for a man lobbing unlinked, uncited and unsupported screed in such a deceptive manner. For instance Davis directly intimates that if/when Blanche Lincoln loses in the general election it will because of the netroot and labor supported primary challenge of Bill Halter in Arkansas. This bit of self serving dishonesty of course neglects the fact that if Davis and his fellow centrist corporate shills really cared about retaining the seat in the general election, they should have supported Halter who arguably was a stronger candidate in the general than Lincoln. Not to mention Continue reading

Bad Nelson, Bayh, and Lincoln Objectively Pro-Cornhusker Kickback

Picture 184Thus far today, Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, and Blache Lincoln have come out against passing health care reform through sidecar reconciliation.

Of course that means they’re defending all the corrupt aspects of the Senate bill that proved to be so unpopular in MA, starting with the Cornhusker Kickback (and including the Louisiana Purchase that similarly bought off Mary Landrieu). And they’ve flip-flopped on their earlier demands that such corrupt deals be removed from the bill.

Mind you, I can’t say I’m surprised that Bad Nelson and Blanche and Bayh can’t decide whether they want to keep or lose their personal bribes. Just that if anyone should be labeled a monster, it’s probably the folks so diligently protecting the stuff that voters say, overwhelmingly, they despise.

Incenting Shit Plans

Ezra Klein has his overview of the Max Tax here. After boasting of the plan’s affordability (!), Ezra’s biggest complaint is the lack of an employer mandate:

The employer mandate is pretty much the free rider plan that the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities tore apart here. It’s bad policy. An addendum though is that individuals whose employers offer them insurance are not eligible for subsidies, unless the insurance their employer offers would cost more than 13 percent of their income. I’d feel better about that if it were lower for low-income workers, but the plan says that the Secretary of Health and Human Services must revisit this number within five years to see if it should be lowered.

I’ll go further and say the Max Tax actually incents employers to offer shit plans. Here’s the whole section on what Bad Max euphemistically calls "Employer Responsibility:"

Employer Responsibility. Employers would not be required to offer health insurance coverage. However, employers with more than 50 full-time employees (30 hours and above) that do not offer health coverage must pay a fee for each employee who receives the tax credit for health insurance through an exchange. The assessment is based on the amount of the tax credit received by the employee(s), but would be capped at an amount equal to $400 multiplied by the total number of employees at the firm (regardless of how many receive a credit in the exchange). Employees participating in a welfare-to-work program, children in foster care and workers with a disability are exempted from this calculation.

As a general matter, if an employee is offered employer-provided health insurance coverage, the individual is ineligible for the tax credit for health insurance purchased through an exchange. An employee who is offered unaffordable coverage by their employer, however, can be eligible for the tax credit. Unaffordable is defined as 13% of the employee’s income. The employee would seek an affordability waiver from the exchange and would have to demonstrate family income and the premium of the lowest cost employer option offered to them. Employees would then present the waiver to the employer. The employer assessment would apply for any employee(s) receiving an affordability waiver. Within five years of implementation, the Secretary must conduct a study to determine if the definition of affordable could be lowered without significantly increasing costs or decreasing employer coverage.

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JimWhiteGNV @trog69 @bmaz We're stuck in the early 80's here. A Yamaha R-50 driving towers from GNP (look up Bill Gross, CalTech alum, Gross Nat Prod)
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bmaz RIP Dick Wagner. http://t.co/7hR8jHC7hR
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JimWhiteGNV @BradKalbfeld Ooops. My bad. Rather was still just once a week at that time. @robertcaruso
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bmaz And here is IDF spokesman Wolf Blitzer of @CNN to cheer on the extermination of an open air market and hospital in Rafah.
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bmaz Whatever happened to @JasonLeopold is he still a thing? http://t.co/eoMQ6BY6VK
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bmaz @trog69 @JimWhiteGNV ...But I will rehab and restore them some day.
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bmaz @trog69 @JimWhiteGNV I currently listen to B&W wall monitors with Polk Audio Towers and a Klipsch Subwoofer. I miss my horn loaded bins.
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bmaz @walterwkatz Even though it was probably Hendrix, an Yank, that really made Marshall (along with Jimmy Page+Ritchie Blackmore) popular.
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bmaz @walterwkatz Maybe! The first real hard power and stacked amps that went popular were Marshalls, and Jim Marshall was a Brit.
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bmaz @trog69 @JimWhiteGNV I play lot of actual albums I have. But am sadly constrained by that which is really easy to find without looking hard.
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JimWhiteGNV @robertcaruso Imagine getting only about five info-filled tweets a day. Only upside is that they were read to you by Dan Rather.
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bmaz @trog69 @JimWhiteGNV Hey, that ain't bad blues.
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