Thursday, December 18, 2008

change i can believe in?

Nope. President-Elect Obama has chosen Tom Vilsack to be the next US Secretary of Agriculture. I expected to be let down by Obama at some point but I didn't expect him to kick me squarely in the crotch a month before he's even installed as our next president. Perhaps Vilsack will use Monsanto's private jet to travel to the inauguration. Obama said he wants to ensure that,
the policies being shaped at the Departments of Agriculture and Interior are designed to serve not big agribusiness or Washington influence- peddlers, but family farmers and the American people.
He said this out of one side of his mouth while announcing a lawyer with close ties to big agrobizness as Secretary of Agriculture out of the other. Vilsack is apparently the man for the job in part because,
he led with vision, promoting biotech to strengthen our farmers in fostering an agricultural economy of the future that not only grows the food we eat, but the energy that we use.
Which is a way of saying that Vilsack supports using genetically modified organisms in our food system and it means the President-Elect does not understand biofuels. But what angered me the most though was this little section.
When President Lincoln established the Department of Agriculture nearly a century and a half ago, he called it the people's department, for it meant -- it was meant to serve the interests of those who lived off the land.
This is the part where you imagine Lincoln cursing from his grave. Obama says he read Micheal Pollan's NYT open letter to the next Farmer in Chief that ran in October. He must have read it upside down or backward or perhaps he had it translated by the head of marketing for Monsanto.

I can only speculate that Obama selected this former governor of Iowa as a thank you for the result of that state's caucus. Or maybe he really thinks that, "
Tom understands that the solution to our energy crisis will be found not in oilfields abroad, but in our farm fields here at home."

Here's a word of caution for the President-Elect. The citizens of the US have a much lower level of patience and less tolerance for bullshit after eight years of being blatantly lied to. You have a very short window in which to make some of the Change you've been promising. We're not going to tolerate the promise of Change followed by such obvious refusals to break with the kinds of decisions that got us into this mess. Get it in gear or you're likely to loose the support of those of us really ready to make change but mistrustful and cynical after 30 years of misinformation and inaction. Help us to make change. We are ready.


Dave said...

I listened to Michael Pollan talk about this on NPR. I haven't been a big fan of the deification of Pollan- sure he writes well and he's using his time in the spotlight admirably, but still- but I think he hit a spot of brilliance with changing the dept of ag to the dept of FOOD. We thrive on the euphemism in America, and maybe we just need to cut through the bullshit and prettified language of government, and say to Vilsack "Your #1 job is providing for the food security of the American people, in a way that will help the economy, the environment, and the people who you (theoretically) are supposed to answer to." Biofuels? Shouldn't that responsibility get moved to the DoE at this point? Feeding my neighbor and feeding my work truck are, in my pea-sized brain at least, mutually exclusive goals.

agwh said...

I think that Vilsack's appointment just underscores that we are on our own. Any "Change" in the US will have to come from the ground up, so those of us who are truly concerned (horrified?) about the direction of ag policy will have to work harder to grow our own food, to save our heirloom seed, to buy organically-grown foods. I am working on this in my own yard and kitchen, and I talk about it, in roundabout ways, with other gardeners. The job ahead won't be easy, and I am going to have to cut down a few more loblolly pines to get the sunlight for an expanded garden, but it seems that one of the few means of communication that the corp/gov understands is monetary. If I, and a whole lot of other people, don't buy the gm foods and the biofuels (less automobile use) then the gm and biofuels become less, or un, profitable. Of course, I may just be dreaming that this could succeed, or that enough of us can work together to even make a difference, but sending emails to senators and representatives doesn't seem to work at all.

Kathy "Peak Shrink" McMahon said...

Call me "skeptical" but I've saved myself a lot of heartache by believing that Obama supports the policies of the Chicago School, more than any "change" he was touting.

He says he wants to "hit the ground running" by putting in these Beltway Insiders, but the truth is, they'll just be running in circles. Ag pick is just a very prime example.

More got done to destroy our rights with Clinton, than any Republican. You watch. This POTUS will do a heck of a job removing any remaining rights we have, and afterward, the progressive media will excuse it all, with some bogus excuse or another.

Farming rights are very, very basic, and here's a guy who's confusing BIOFUELS with FOOD?

Someone give me a chair. I've got to sit down...