<b>Putting the filibuster in its place</b>

From Dwight Eisenhower to Gerald Ford, the Senate approved executive branch appointments without a single filibuster. There were a combined 16 in the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush years, and 16 more for Barack Obama's nominees. Well, so far.

With filibuster threats tying up more nominees,Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is finally taking steps to require an up-or- down vote on cabinet nominees and other executive branch appointees. The proposed rule change wouldn't extend to judicial nominees or legislation. As for the remaining filibusters, how about insisting that senators actually stand and talk if they don't want to vote?

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<b>An early start to the 2014 campaign</b>

It's healthy for democracy to have contested elections. Challengers bring fresh ideas, incumbents must defend their records. Voters get to make choices. But must the campaigns start so far in advance? There's nothing new about presidential candidates visiting early primary states and lining up support years in advance of the election. Nor is it likely to change. But the practice is working its way down the ballot.

Last week, Petaluma City Councilman Mike Harris announced his candidacy for mayor. Incumbent David Glass announced his re-election bid last year. The election is in November .<TH>.<TH>. of 2014.

Let the fundraising begin.

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<b>Hungry Americans left in the cold</b>

For the first time since Richard Nixon was president, the nation is looking at the possibility of Congress passing a farm bill that has no food support for poorer Americans. House Republicans on Thursday rammed through a farm bill that was stripped clean of the food stamp program. GOPers say they intend to draft a separate bill, but the unyoking of food stamps and farm subsidies sets up the likelihood of massive cuts and a prolonged political battle. This is more about contempt for low-income Americans than politics. House Republicans act as if those on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are free-loaders. But research shows the program provides needed relief, particularly for those hardest hit by the economy. Roughly 40 percent of food stamp households in Sonoma County have at least one working family member, and 55 percent of recipients are children. The GOP message to them: Stop whining and get a job.

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<b>Curbing the harassment of cyclists</b>

Santa Rosa voted unanimously Tuesday to join the county and Sebastopol in adopting a "vulnerable user" ordinance protecting bicyclists from harassing behavior by drivers. No, this won't increase exposure for drivers who are involved in true accidents with cyclists. Bike riders who ignore traffic laws and are reckless also are unlikely to find refuge in this. But it should drive home the point that the county will no longer tolerate cases of drivers menacing bike riders. It's petty. It's cowardly. And, from now on, it's grounds for triple monetary damages in a civil suit. That should help curb this kind of nonsense.