Friday Reads — Sprouting

Pretty quiet morning to end a big news week. Major developments are scarce, unless you count the fact that our Participation Garden is finally sprouting. Well, the rabbits think it’s big news.

Speaking of food and plants and stuff, The Des Moines Register has a good read by Philip Brasher this morning on U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and his approach to his new job.

The crux: Advocates of organic farming and other agricultural/food reforms have been surprised by his performance. They figured the former Iowa governor would be a reliable friend of big ag and agribusiness and build CAFOs on the mall.

Instead, he’s been a regular Tommy Organicseed, planting gardens all over D.C. and appointing a deputy who is a leader in the organic movement. From Brasher’s story:

“He has a much broader understanding of agriculture and food systems than I think some of his critics had expected,” said Ben Lilliston of the Institute for Agriculture and Food Policy, a group that advocates a shift to smaller-scale, diversified farms that rely less on chemical inputs and biotechnology.

Lilliston said the USDA’s organic garden is a powerful symbol showing that the department now “recognizes and values the importance of people growing their own food and connecting with food in a deeper way.”

This is sort of what some Iowa Vilsack fans were trying to tell these heirloom sceptics shortly after he was nominated. Now they know.

So you can grow organic chard in D.C., but can you grow the Republican Party without moderates?

Jason Hancock dives into the subject at Iowa Indpendent, the latest attempt to interpret Republican efforts to find themselves in the wilderness. “Moderates” such as Doug Gross, Terry Branstad etc. have been talking amongst themselves lately about finding and funding a GOP candidate for governor.

This establishment activity is ticking off  “true” conservatives, who have now wrestled control of the party away from these squishy compromisers who used to control the governor’s office and the Legislature. So they actually want to govern the state. That’s typical of moderates.

Gross has called a press briefing this morning to share polling data and a vision for the party’s future. I bet he says Republicans should try to make their party bigger, more appealing to young people and more focused on the kind of economic and tax issues that Iowans actually care about. Again, typical.

And finally, you need to read the Omaha World Herald’s account of 89-year-old Joe Beacom’s encounter with two young, would-be robbers. He chased away the loser punks by faking a heart attack. But you’ve got to read the whole thing.

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