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Salazar and Vilsack

December 18, 2008

As we all know by now, Ken Salazar, Colorado Senator, has been nominated by PE-Obama for the position of Secretary of the Interior.  I’m not convinced that I know quite enough about him to hazard to much of an opinion, but when the mining industry calls it a major success…I admit to some anxiety.  I was not thrilled to see the man wearing his cowboy hat during his nomination acceptance as I found it in rather poor taste.  I’m by no means puritanical on these kinds of things, I just found it rather juvenile.

Cmon with the hat already Ken!

C'mon with the hat already Ken!

But I feel I owe it to Obama who has proven again and again (at least thus far) to be a measured and thoughtful individual when it comes to these sorts of things, and to have chosen a man he believes in, who he believes wants and is capable of helping this country get back on the path of progress.  Sure, I value the rancher mentality as it pertains to shared lands and to companion planning of resource utilization, and as it pertains to making a hard-scrabble life off of the land, but too often over the last fifty years and more have we seen public treasures auctioned off to ranchers and miners at rock-bottom prices with nary a lick of environmental oversight or concern.  In the waning hours of the Bush 43 administration, a veritable fire-sale of Bureau of Land Management lands have been given up to ranchers, miners and other resource extractors who are cozy with the Bush Cartel.  This is a problem of fairly sizable proportions, and I hope Senator Salazar will rise above my current expectations, though I doubt he’ll read this.  We need an Interior Department to grab hold of these willfully negligent corporate sweetheart leases and put the onus of cleanup and safe practices back on the people who should have them – the companies who stand to profit at taxpayer’s expense.

Regarding Former Governor Tom Vilsack as the nominated Secretary of Agriculture, he also seems to strike me as a measured and moderate man, and from what I’m hearing he gets the connections between agriculture, energy use and energy security, but he also seems woefully stuck in the corn lobby’s pocket.  Ethanol?  Really?  Corn-based ethanol?  It’s a Ponzi scheme for ConAgra, Archer-Daniels-Midland and Monsanto.  I thought everyone already knew that no?  Maybe the former Governor did not get that memo, but I’m rather dismayed at this choice.  More so than Senator Salazar’s appointment I think.

Given the perilous centralization of American agriculture and the ridiculous dependence on externalized energy inputs, we need someone who is so firmly stuck on the idea of small family farms doing regional food production that the Monsantos of the world throw a hissy fit.  As if there weren’t enough people in the food and agriculture world screaming at the top of their lungs for a real note of progress on this front for Obama’s team to hear them – and then this.  Again, he seems like a nice guy and all that, but he is not the right man for this job AT THIS TIME.

Ordinarily I would be happy with moderates.  Well, not happy at all, but tolerant at least.  Now is not the time for moderates however.  Now is the time for big plans and big ideas for massive change.  We need more than a tweaking of the Farm Bill and of BLM land use practises…we need complete and total overhaul of everything associated with private corporations profiting from the commons.  Agriculture may not come directly to mind in regards to the commons – but when it’s a top user of communal energy sources, potable water and a huge polluting mess-maker in the process, it’s high time we had strong people who spoke more truth to power about how best to handle these issues for the good of the American people.

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