Vilsack confirmation hearing linkfest

Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack appears to be on track for unanimous confirmation by the Senate as Secretary of Agriculture in Barack Obama's cabinet. At his confirmation hearing yesterday, Republicans didn't ask hostile questions, and Vilsack didn't have to explain away any embarrassing behavior like Treasury Secretary-nominee Timothy Geithner's failure to fully meet his tax obligations over a period of years.

Despite the lack of drama, Vilsack made a number of noteworthy comments during the hearing. Join me after the jump for some highlights and analysis.

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Anne Korin: Why Shouldn't We Believe Her?

This morning I heard on C-SPAN radio about 10 minutes of an Anne Korin speech (Co-Director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, and Chair of Set America Free), delivered live to the National Conservative Student Conference in DC.  In the space of a few minutes, filled with a fast-paced presentation of data on global oil production and US oil consumption, I learned that she favors quick adoption by the US of plug-in hybrids, combined with flex-fuels combustion engines, as the most immediate path to extricating ourselves from our current national security pickle.

She sure made sense to me -- but then, I'm a sucker for arguments set up with a marshaling of seemingly relevant facts (that why I'm a Biden supporter, by the way - but that's another topic).  She made so much sense that I'm about to sit down and watch the video on C-SPAN's site (Korin appears about one hour in on the morning session).  

I did a quick search online looking for any critiques of her analysis -- nothing so far.  I'm curious what the progressive blogosphere thinks of her work.  Anyone?  I did learn she teamed up with James Woolsey on a National Review article last September: "Turning Oil Into Salt," and that apparently Woolsey is now advising McCain.  I also found a KCRW radio show she appeared on last November (in a segment titled, "Is America's Thirst for Expensive Oil Fueling Dictators?")

Thanks for any comments.

~ Rob

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Obama/Dems on Ethanol :-(

Barack Obama is proving himself to be one of the most talented political leaders in decades.  He defeated the heavily favored Hillary Clinton and is on his way to possibly leading a landslide Democratic victory in November.  I agree with most of Obama's political positions and look forward to a Democratic victory.

However, there are things about the Democrats (in general) and Obama (in particular) that make me cringe.  And one of them is ethanol policy.

Here's an article from MSNBC today, reprinted from the New York Times, on Obama's ethanol policy.  Though I single his policy out for attention, as he is our presidential candidate, my guess is that his position is pretty similar to that of much of the rest of the Democratic Party.

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McCain's Trouble in the Corn Belt...

Redacted

Wine- Iowa Wine, is a lower drinking age far behind?

Cross-posted from

What can wine tell us about the world? Plenty, it turns out.  It is one of civilization's oldest products.  At one time it was a necessity, when food was served rotten and water was where you washed and evacuated.  Now it is enjoying a resurgence.  It is an agricultural product, and a unique one.  You see, vineyards have kept records of temperature, yield, and ripeness-dates for centuries, giving us incredibly precise records that tell us reams about the global environment. It is also a luxury item, particularly at the top end.  As such, its sale and purchase can tell us volumes about the global economy.

Today we look at Iowa, wine, and the "first in the nation" caucus.

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