Alone With J

    U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, who represents Adams County and other Hoosiers in Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District, apparently believes poor people shouldn’t eat. So, too, do other Republican extremists in the House of Representatives.
    What other conclusion can be reached with the vote of Stutzman and his right-wing cronies against the national farm bill legislation last week? With their panties in a bunch because previously-negotiated cuts to the federal food stamp program were not, in their opinion, sizable enough, the GOP hard-liners in the House shot down the farm bill entirely, leaving the country’s entire agriculture system in the lurch.
    After the House rejected the farm bill by a 234-195 margin last week, Stutzman’s office issued a press release, as it does with nauseating frequency, in which the tea party Republican took great pains to describe himself as a “fourth-generation farmer from Indiana.”
  We’re not sure exactly what that means, other than that Stutzman’s daddy, and grand-daddy, and great-grand-daddy over the years almost certainly have reaped the rewards of federal crop and farmland subsidies that are little more than the very type of welfare that GOP right-wingers abhor.
  While Stutzman and his House cronies won this particular war in rejecting the farm bill, the Indiana Republican fought, and lost, a battle that would have separated farm subsidies from food stamp policies in the bill. It is a battle Stutzman waged proudly.
    “Hoosiers sent me here to change the way Washington works and I’m pleased that my colleagues have joined me in rejecting the old path of business as usual. While it might have been called a ‘farm bill,’ the American people understand that it was anything but. This trillion dollar spending bill is too big and would have passed welfare policy on the backs of farmers,” the congressman said.
    To fully grasp the depth of Stutzman’s right-wing extremism, one need look no further than the atta-boy thrown his way by Club for Growth President Chris Chocola, who said Stutzman “sent exactly the right message by voting against the rule for the farm bill when his amendment to separate farm subsidies and food stamps was rejected. Even fans of the farm bill readily admit that the only reason the two are combined is to improve chances of passing both. Instead of stifling pro-growth reforms, more Republicans should stand on principle like Congressman Stutzman did ....”
    Apparently the tea party crowd believes that “principle” is a good thing when it comes to taking food out of the mouths of hungry children. Heck, they don’t vote anyway.

Checks and balances?
    On a wholly unrelated topic, the endless string of 5-4 votes coming from the U.S. Supreme Court on any given number of cases has gone from predictable to infuriating to downright embarrassing.
    It’s been often said that the vice president of the United States is just “a heartbeat away” from the presidency. Following that logic, many of the laws of the land similarly are just a single heartbeat away from being either overturned ... or etched more deeply in stone.
    But for now, checks and balances be damned. All cases will be 5-4 for the foreseeable future. And that’s a shame.
And finally ...
    When last we met, my ability to survive a week with my in-laws in an Outer Banks beach house had been brought into question.
    That week is behind me now, and let’s just say that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and leave it at that. Interpret that as you will.
    For those who have never been there, the barrier island that make up the Outer Banks of North Carolina are a unique and wondrous place to visit. Check out the lighthouses — they’re steeped in history and visually appealing. Go on a guided tour to see the wild horses of Corolla, a herd of endangered Colonial Spanish Mustangs roaming freely on the northernmost Currituck Outer Banks.
    Catch a sunrise over the ocean, or a sunset over one of the inland sounds. Walk the Charles Kuralt Trail in the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.
    My wife and I did all that, and more. And I’d do it all again ... under slightly different circumstances.

    The writer is the opinion page editor of the Decatur Daily Democrat.