Weekend Roundup: Obama's 'Rural' Committee
Action on the Plains
Agri-Pulse reports that it received a notice from President Obama's re-election campaign about a "Rural Americans for Obama" committee. The campaign has now added a section to its web site about rural America, here.
The email came from Erin Hannigan, according to Agri-Pulse, who is identified as the Rural Americans Vote director at the Obama campaign.
Hannigan, it turns out, was reared in Cook County, Illinois. That would be Chicago.
She graduated from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, in 2007 and went to work straightaway with the 2008 Obama campaign. She then collected the spoils that come with hitching up with a winning campaign: She worked on the Presidential Inaugural Committee and from there, she went to work in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel and then to serve as the Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Agriculture.
And now, a native of Chicago is running the Rural Americans for Obama committee.
No doubt Hannigan is extremely competent, and, these days, we can't begrudge anyone a job. But we do wonder why the President would put somebody from Chicago in charge of his rural campaign. After four years in office, couldn't candidate Obama find somebody from rural America?
• There have been a couple of articles recently about the President's low standing in West Virginia and the Appalachian coal counties.
Nate Silver in the New York Times recounts the failure of the last three Democratic presidential candidates to win West Virginia. Silver maintains it has been the coal industry's opposition that has done in the Ds. (Our memory is that in 2000, it was the National Rifle Association. The weekend before the election, Charlton Heston spoke at a huge rally in Beckley and that was seen as a turning point in a close election, swinging the state to from Al Gore to George W. Bush.)
Silver gives Obama just a 5 percent chance of winning West Virginia.
The Economist magazine says flatly that President Obama "is not going to win West Virginia in November, so debating the origins of his poor standing in the state may seem entirely academic."
Meanwhile, the layoffs in the coal industry continue, hurting an economy that was already on tough times.
• Anthony Cody, in Education Week, notes that the Gates Foundation is using its billions to "influence government policy." But, Cody writes:
The goal of these policies is often to explicitly support profitability for corporate investors, whose enterprises are seen by the Gates Foundation as advancing human good. However, maximum corporate profit and public good often clash when its projects are implemented.
A prime example is the the partnership between Monsanto, Cargill and Gates:
The Gates Foundation's philanthropic agricultural development program is partnered with international agribusiness corporations, and is aimed at promoting advanced technologies such as genetically modified crops and pesticides in developing nations. In light of this conflict, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's own investments in Monsanto and Cargill, particularly, have come under heavy criticism.
• Let the games begin!
The House Ag committee has released its version of the Farm Bill, which calls for bigger cuts to the food stamp program. AP explains the farm component:
The House bill differs (from the Senate), though, in giving farmers a one-time choice between a revenue loss program to cover shallow losses before insurance kicks in and a new target price program to see producers through deep, multiple-year price declines. The Senate bill contains only the revenue loss program, overriding the objections of Southern rice and peanut growers who have traditionally relied more heavily on price support programs.
Chris Clayton also explains here.
• The House Farm Bill would cut five rural energy programs, The Hill reports.
The five energy programs on the chopping block are the Repowering Assistance Program, Biofuels Infrastructure Study, Renewable Fertilizer Study, Rural Energy Self-Sufficiency Initiative and the Forest Biomass for Energy Program. The total savings would be $500 million.
• Rural Canadians are hoping a new satellite will provide them with 4G high-speed broadband.