When the agriculture lobby tries to justify its hugely expensive and inefficient system of taxpayer-paid subsidies and price supports, it invokes the "small family farm," conjuring up Grant Wood's famed "American Gothic" painting of a farm couple.
Actually, over half the money goes to less than 10 percent of the farms, generally huge corporate operations, but there are some small family farms in there somewhere as well as some other, more surprising beneficiaries -- billionaires.
For some lawmakers, the current U.S. Senate debate on farm subsidies strikes close to home.
At least six senators have received government agriculture handouts in recent years.
Although some pocket a relative pittance, the total amount of taxpayer money that these legislators have received over the past decade is more than $700,000. Add in close family members and the amount more than doubles.
As the proposed farm bill stands now, these senators would likely still be eligible for their benefit checks.
More than 50 American billionaires have received government farm handouts in recent years from a program created to help struggling small farmers survive.
In just two years, between 2003 and 2005, at least 56 of the richest people in the country have pocketed taxpayer-funded federal agriculture subsidies totaling more than $2 million, according to a Scripps Howard News Service analysis of a newly released U.S. Department of Agriculture database.
Six months after his nomination to be the nation's top doc triggered fevered objections, James Holsinger just lost his best chance to finally get the job.
Holsinger, a Kentucky public-health physician who once wrote that homosexual sex is unnatural and can lead to death, has been cooling his heels since his Senate confirmation hearing in July, when he was flayed by Democrats and other gay-rights advocates for those views.
Does Congress have the guts to stand up to President George W. Bush and withhold funding for his illegal and immoral war in Iraq?
Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill claim they do. Of course, they have claimed that before and then caved when Bush played the "support our troops" card.
Now Congressional leaders say they will withhold funding until after the first of the year and the propagandists at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are cranking out talking points saying the party of the donkey is making an ass of itself by abandoning our troops in the field.
Americans shouldn't expect much relief from the nation's problems for the next 14 months. That would mean solving immigration, health care, Social Security, Medicare and a dozen other domestic- and foreign-policy dilemmas that cry out for attention and reform.
Neither end of the historic thoroughfare called Pennsylvania Avenue, the one connecting Congress and the president, will be much open to the other until a year from January, when there are some new occupants in the U.S. Capitol and one in the White House.
House Democrats pushed through a $50 billion bill for the Iraq war Wednesday night that would require President Bush to start bringing troops home in coming weeks with a goal of ending combat by December 2008.
The legislation, passed 218-203, was largely a symbolic jab at Bush, who already has begun reducing force levels but opposes a congressionally mandated timetable on the war. And while the measure was unlikely to pass in the Senate — let alone overcome a presidential veto — Democrats said they wanted voters to know they weren't giving up.
George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter now have something in common. Congress has slapped down both presidents over costly water projects.
When Carter took office, he cut out of the federal budget a "hit list" of 19 water projects that he deemed wasteful pork-barrel spending. There are fewer things dearer to the lawmakers' hearts than water projects. Carter was ultimately forced to accept most of them, but the bad start with Congress dogged him the rest of his term.
The term "appearance of impropriety" became a standard measurement in assessing conflicts of interest during the Supreme Court confirmation battles of the Nixon administration. It first came to prominence when the Senate rejected Judge Clement Haynsworth's nomination because of his ownership of a small amount of stock in a company that came before his court, even though a favorable ruling he handed down did not impact that stock in any appreciable way.
The US Senate late Thursday confirmed Michael Mukasey as the country's new attorney general, despite criticism of his refusal to say whether an interrogation method called "waterboarding" was legal.
Mukasey was confirmed on a 53 to 40 vote in the Democrat-controlled senate.
President George W. Bush's pick for the country's top law enforcement officer had appeared to be in jeopardy until this week because Mukasey had declined to declare that waterboarding was torture and therefore illegal.