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That all four U.S. representatives of a state with half a million food stamp recipients would vote against food stamps is a little startling, unless you know these fellows.

In the old days, even strongly conservative members of the Arkansas congressional delegation at least feigned concern for the underprivileged. Today's bunch are less hypocritical, we'll give them that. No false sympathy for them. As a great legislative orator used to say, they've heisted the shirttail of sophistry and revealed the naked truth.

Of the four, all Republicans, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton of Dardanelle flaunts his disregard for poor people the most. Gloating over the House's rejection of food stamps, Cotton said that deletion of food stamps from the federal farm bill would mean that (rich) Arkansas farmers would no longer be held hostage "to Barack Obama's wasteful food-stamp program. ... For 40 years, farm programs have been chained to the food-stamp program. We've now broken that needless link." The link is there to gain urban support for aid to farmers and rural support for feeding the poor. It's needless if you don't believe the poor should be fed. Enhance the rich, grind the poor, especially the nonwhite poor, is the goal of today's Rabid Right, to which Cotton belongs. (Barack Obama is not the first president with a food stamp program, but he is the first black president to have one.) If some of the impoverished starve, there'll be fewer votes for Democrats.

This is nasty work, and some observers seek succor by claiming the congressmen are only posturing, that in the end the food stamp program will be maintained with their acceptance if not approval. Perhaps so, but the last Republican presidential nominee said, in essence, that 47 percent of the American people weren't worth saving. Arkansas's congressmen have yet to demonstrate disagreement.

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