Thursday Roundup: Too Rural?

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Newsweek’s Andrew Romano follows Sen. Jon Tester around Montana, doing a story about what it takes to be a rural Democrat — and whether Tester is too rural for city Ds.

Sen. Tester spits, curses and pulls a truck out of the mud. He doesn’t care if he gets dirty. And, he’s not well liked now by the (urban) netroots liberals who helped fund his 2006 victory. Here is a sample: 

When liberals warn of rapacious hunters, loggers, and financiers, they have a point. But the left’s knee-jerk reaction—to assume that Tester is a sellout instead of a Democrat struggling to represent a rural constituency—ignores the very real differences between Big Sandy and the Big Apple and reveals how unrural the party’s default setting really is.

In 2006, Tester defeated Burns by a mere 3,500 votes, and with Democratic support down from its 2006-08 peak, he’ll need all the momentum he can muster. If the left decides Tester is indistinguishable from a Republican, he may be in trouble.

That’s particularly true when Rehberg’s plan is to convince independents that Tester, who has voted with his party 93 percent of the time, is indistinguishable from Obama, whose Montana approval rating is 39 percent—and whom Tester himself is reluctant to compliment or invite out on the trail.

• The Washington Post puts it pretty clearly

Flood the farms to save the cities.

That’s the trade-off staring at the Army Corps of Engineers in Louisiana this week as a historically high Mississippi River rolls south, flooding towns in Mississippi on Wednesday, prompting evacuations farther south, and threatening the heavily industrialized petrochemical corridor running from Baton Rouge to New Orleans and beyond…

In exchange, a flood would shoot down the gut of central Louisiana and join the already high Atchafalaya River, which would further swell and flood. For 200 miles, farmers and fishermen would pay a steep price as a torrent greater than Niagara Falls would inundate crops, crawfish hatcheries and, possibly, the small cities of Houma and Morgan City. Sensitive oyster beds in the Gulf of Mexico would be imperiled by the pulse of freshwater.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that diverting water from the rising Mississippi across south Louisiana wetlands “will almost certainly kill a significant portion of the nation’s richest oyster grounds, bringing immediate financial disaster to fishing families from Lake Borgne to Vermilion Bay still recovering from the BP oil spill, state biologists said.” 

In the long run, however, the flood of fresh water will improve oyster production.

• A new law in North Carolina restricting municipal broadband networks is an attack on the state’s tradition of self-reliance, says Wally Bowen, a rural broadband advocate and director of the Mountain Area Information Network.

In an op-ed in the Raleigh News and Observer, Bowen and Free Press’ Tim Karr say the legislation will especially harm rural areas, which are less attractive markets for commercial providers.

• The federal government is still planning on opening the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in the middle of cattle country in Manhattan, Kansas, and that decision is still being fought by cattlemen. 

R-CALF’s Bill Bullard recently wrote a letter to homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano saying there is a “strong likelihood of corruption” in the decision to pick the Kansas site. Bullard’s claim is based on the decision of the Johnson County (Kansas) DA’s office to open an investigation into the Kansas Bioscience Authority. The KBA was instrumental in bringing the facility to Kansas. Food Safety News has this story. 

Congress has appropriated $40 million for the facility.

• The federal Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit today against a Virginia chicken processor. 

The feds are objecting to George’s Inc.’s purchase of a processing facility owned by Tyson Foods in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The DOJ says “the acquisition eliminates substantial competition between the two companies for the procurement of services of chicken growers in the Shenandoah Valley area.”

 

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