Sunday Roundup: ‘Mansion Ranching’

Who is 'more Montana'? • Heisman winner moves to Langston, OK • Candidate Akin and rural Missouri • Rural Virginia and dental care

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The U.S. Senate candidates in Montana are arguing over, get this, who is “more Montana.” 

AP’s Matt Gouras writes:

Denny Rehberg often wears cowboy boots while campaigning for the U.S. Senate, telling stories about his ranching background and bashing the “death tax” and “Obamacare,” characterizations popular with Montana’s rural residents.

To Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, the Republican congressman who wants to take his place is all hat and no cattle.

Describing himself as a “dirt farmer,” Tester says Rehberg hasn’t rounded up his own cattle in years, but has spent his time subdividing and developing what used to be his family’s ranch.

“Building houses and mansion ranching is not ranching,” Tester said at their first debate this summer.

The razor-tight race may come down to who is “more Montana”….

“Frankly I am sorry for the people of Montana that he is wasting so much time as a U.S. senator talking about what a great farmer he is,” Rehberg said in an interview. “Maybe he ought to spend a little bit more time trying to help get people back to work and expand the economy because that is what I am focused on. I don’t think the people of Montana would particularly want me sitting around the ranch trying to keep the cows in the fence and putting water in front of them and such.”

Mike Garrett Moves to Langston, OK — Former Southern California (and Heisman Trophy-winning) tailback Mike Garrett helped bring back his Trojans to national prominence as the athletic director who hired football coach Pete Carroll.

Garrett got the boot from USC after both the men’s football and basketball team received NCAA sanctions. Now he’s moved on to Langston University in rural Okalahoma, the AP reports. 

Dental Care in Virginia — Rural and Black Virginians were less likely to receive dental care than those who live in the more urbanized northern and eastern regions of the state. 

Two University of Virginia economists say that cost is the greatest barrier to getting dental care to all.

Too Many Spills — “Recently, our country has endured too many oil spills,” writes Jim Hall, former chair of the National Transportation Safety Board. “We cannot afford another.” Hall continues:

Often overshadowed by the BP disaster, the 2010 Enbridge oil spill into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan was also a major lapse in safety protocol. The Enbridge disaster spilled 1 million gallons of oil into the river, which has resulted in a two-year cleanup that is expected to cost almost $800 million.

Five years prior, Enbridge discovered damage to the section of pipeline that eventually caused the disaster. But it did nothing. The day of the spill, it was 17 hours before Enbridge employees realized the pipeline was broken. They apparently ignored repeated control center alarms that indicated a loss of pressure and that a leak may have occurred.

It seems Enbridge chose to continue pumping oil in the line rather than shutting the line down until the company could confirm the nature of the problem.

Two years later, Enbridge had another spill, this time leaking more than 1,000 barrels of oil in Wisconsin. While the devastation of this latest tragedy has yet to be fully assessed, one thing is clear: These are examples of a breakdown in safety performance and the lack of a “safety first” attitude. And they are unacceptable.

‘No nation is…more prosperous than its farmers’ — U.S. Rep. Todd Akin (now Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Missouri) opposes federal spending on school lunches. 

The editorial page of the St. Louis newspaper takes Akin to task for forgetting the history behind the school lunch program. President Harry Truman (of Missouri) signed the National School Lunch Act in 1946. Truman then said, “In the long view, no nation is any healthier than its children or more prosperous than its farmers.”

Some of the worst poverty then was in rural Missouri. Counties in southwest Missouri were some of the first to receive school lunch aid. The editorial continues:

Perhaps Mr. Akin, who lives in an affluent suburb and home-schooled his children, isn’t familiar with how many children show up hungry to Missouri schools each day. There aren’t as many hungry kids at the two biggest school districts in west St. Louis County, Rockwood and Parkway, as in the city or in rural southeast Missouri. But every school in his congressional district has hungry kids.

In six Rockwood schools, more than 20 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Three schools in the Parkway district raise that bar to 30 percent.

If parents can’t or won’t do it, who will feed those kids?

This, ultimately, is what the November election is about. Mr. Akin doesn’t believe “the pursuit of happiness” applies to hungry kids. Ms. McCaskill, who supports the school lunch program, believes Americans should worry about each other’s welfare.

 

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