November 8, 2012

NOW Obama’s Going to do Good Stuff! (Michael Pollan version)


Here’s a good test of liberal Obama-worship, a prediction by Michael Pollan:
“I think we will stop subsidizing biofuels very soon, perhaps right after the election.”
Obama, of course, has been aggressively pro-ethanol so far.
Pollan’s a typical case. He spent eight Bush years calling for bottom-up food relocalization and warning against technocratic control of our food, including faith in the central government. As soon as Obama came along, Pollan performed a 180 degree flip-flop. Suddenly the future of the food movement depended on begging elites for Better Policy. This included support for the Food Control Act, whereby Pollan mystically believes that giving far more power to the Monsanto-adjunct FDA will, by magic, make it less pro-Monsanto. Someone with common sense might be forgiven for suspecting that it’ll merely help the FDA further Big Ag’s interest even more aggressively, but then we’re not initiates of the liberal cargo cult.
At least Pollan supported the Right to Know initiative, so he’s a somewhat less pure liberal elitist than the scum mentioned in this piece, who opposed the initiative simply because as a good “process” liberal he “distrusts” filthy peasant ballot initiatives as such.



  1. I am in California, and I did not vote this year.

    Typically, I vote no on all propositions because I believe the state legislature should be forced to do its job on the tough issues instead of punting to the proposition process, which is always gamed by big money to get bad results for the electorate, as happened with Prop 37 this year. The proposition process allows California politicians to avoid accountability.

    If I had voted, I would have voted yes on Prop 37.

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — November 8, 2012 @ 2:10 am

    • I can’t imagine what kind of thing a “California state legislature” is, because there’s no such thing as “California” as a coherent unit. So even leaving aside the futility of looking up the hierarchy for Better Policy, I don’t see the point in hoping for anything from such a body. That point sounds moot to me.

      As for ballot initiatives and elitist hatred for them (the different versions of, “the people are too stupid for such a thing”, for example because money gets involved), I’ve always said that good initiatives are worth voting for, and if I were in California I’d have voted if only on that one thing. (Of course, I’d also have been involved in the campaign.)

      I’ll admit that you’re probably right, and this particular event is a milestone in my own increasing ambivalence. No amount of whining about the money (as all the supporters are doing today) can change the fact that people starkly chose to be kept in the dark about what they’re eating and feeding their own children, when they could have voted to force elites to tell them the truth. I don’t know what kind of creature would make such a choice, but he’s no fellow citizen of mine, and has zero right to impose his depravity on me. I have to regard him as an enemy.

      Comment by Russ — November 8, 2012 @ 2:44 am

      • You probably didn’t see any of the anti-37 ads, which were filled with doctors and “experts” looking concerned about this “bad law.”

        You definitely didn’t seen any of the pro-37 ads. There weren’t any.

        It makes you wonder if prop 37 wasn’t put on the ballot by Monsanto, who then stepped away and went hard in the opposite direction to get a result “proving” that the electorate doesn’t care about GMO labeling.

        As to the cracks about the California state legislature, the point is that the people who are elected should be forced to do their jobs and be held accountable. The initiative process is all about avoiding such accountability.

        And the argument isn’t that “the people are too stupid.” The argument is that these fairly complicated– and under-explained– initiatives amend our state constitution, more often-than-not to benefit the corporate elite. If you think the California initiative process curbs the power of the elite, you are mistaken.

        Comment by Tao Jonesing — November 9, 2012 @ 12:48 am

      • I saw the anti-37 ads, and I saw the lame way that supporters tried to “reason with” lies and trolls. The problem is that no one knows how to fight. If the campaign had directly and ruthlessly attacked GMOs and the lies surrounding them, then even a technical defeat would still have left a trained, fighting cadre in place, ready to continue along the same line.

        BTW, I never regarded Right to Know as a panacea, and I’ve consistently warned against treating it that way. My prescription for the campaign was that people needed to be directly involved, and I would’ve prescribed the same thing if it had passed. The execution would only have been as good as how good citizen activists, through their continued pressure on government (which would’ve been charged with executing it) and continued education of the public, forced it to be. Now that it was not passed, my prescription remains the same.

        The fact is that GMOs exist because the people are not yet sufficiently fighting to eradicate them. If this weren’t true then no such initiative would’ve been necessary, and this is also why the initiative failed. It’ll remain true going forward, until the will to fight does exist.

        As far as central governments, I don’t know what you mean by “cracks”. I said the same thing I’ve said a thousand times here. And if a ballot initiative is no good for trying to “force accountability” (as I just said, I regarded the initiative itself as part of a vector attempting to force accountability, not a discrete panacea), then I can’t imagine what else could. If you think nothing like that could possibly work, and therefore reject initiatives as well, fine. Although in that case just say “no interface with central government can work”. Don’t pretend that there do exist other (unnamed) ways, and use that as a spurious club to beat those who believed in the initiative.

        As for your conspiracy theory, I suppose Monsanto wants GMOs to be viewed as blandly as possible by the public (to get excited about what cool, space-age hi-tech they are is a pathology of elites like Obama). In that case it would be ridiculous to want to drum up controversy and populist excitement on the dubious theory that technical defeat would result in permanent demoralization. Although I think this campaign did fail to immediately provide stimulus for a real Food Freedom movement, the task now is to use this defeat as a case study for building the movement we need. It’s more evidence that working within the system, and trying to “reason with” its adherents and propagandists, doesn’t work. I think we agree on that.

        Comment by Russ — November 9, 2012 @ 5:03 am

  2. The fundamental behind oligarchy is the incapacity of the Commons to defend itself from the self-interested networks of the powerful. Its a very satisfying club that few wish to leave.

    Self-Interest vs Altruism – Problems in Scaling the Decision Process

    So if the ‘poor’ ever expect to inherit the earth… they’d better start demanding some changes in the will…

    On Tools for Citizenship: the Neglected Essential

    And so now the second presidential election has gone by without the mainstream yet paying any attention to this simple capability. The patent office sure got it… and we’re excited about the prospect. They must wonder what happened.

    So do I.

    Comment by culturalengineer — November 8, 2012 @ 2:12 am

  3. The enemy may have given us an opportunity to kill the “super”market for good. I know you’ve posted on suprmarkets before. Most of us who are nutritionally/agriculturally aware are already avoiding those places by growing our own, getting to farmer’s markets/CSAs, local butchers & grocers, etc. Now that it’s official that the corporate food delivery system has declared their intention to poison you with mystery frankenfoods and play genetic roulette with human guinea pigs (backed by the Govt. goons, I call it “the right to deceive”), perhaps more people can be convinced that their health absolutely depends on them declining to bring their wallets around these relics.

    They have declared war on you. You should declare war on them. Labels or not, we were never going to get anything quality from the Big Ag machine anyway, right? What an opportunity to educate and gain some food independence… expand the resistance.

    On a personal note. I’ve managed to find an escape pod from Chicago. Great city, but I’ve had enough of city enclosures. Per a rather serendipitous opportunity, I’m joining some family to create a “Polyface” style sustainable farm in Georgia to join the food freedom battle on the front lines. Time to put the money where thine mouth is…

    Russ, you’re on a roll with the recent posts. I was really looking forward to disecting the bullsh#t “left vs. right” false dichotomy.

    Comment by Pete — November 8, 2012 @ 8:22 am

    • Sorry, to “you” disecting…. I cannot disect with the same precision as you. 😉

      Comment by Pete — November 8, 2012 @ 8:24 am

    • Congratulations on the grass farm. I’d love to be part of something like that. Keep us posted on your progress. I don’t know if I’ll ever do grass farming myself, but I’m fascinated reading about it, and I agree that nothing will work short of the large scale restoration of pasturage.

      I have tentative plans to seriously farm a piece of land this year. It’s the same plot where I grew sweet corn, edamame, and winter squash this year, but using more space. The main problem with the place is flooding. Two of the last three years part of the meadow turned into a small lake. I’m not sure what I can do about that, but unless I come up with a solution, that puts a damper on the site’s commercial potential.

      In the hustle and bustle I actually forgot about that left/right piece after starting the draft. But thanks to your reminder I worked on it some more, and I’ll post it in a few days.

      Comment by Russ — November 8, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

      • Thanks Russ. This is a huge leap for me. Never even owned a houseplant prior to last year when I purchased a small plot in a community garden. I’m leaving my business behind and just jumping in though. Seems right.

        We just ordered some Tamworth pigs to graze out the Bermuda grass and are starting to rebuild the soil. It was a calving operation but the goal is to convert it to totally grass-finished beef, market & showcase gardens, orchards, edible forest, and aquaculture. I’ll keep you posted on the evolution. I’d be happy to pass along the visioning summary (done by a fantasic consultant) if you’d ever like to see it.

        Looking forward to the next post!

        Comment by Pete — November 8, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

      • Sure sounds right. Sure, I’d like to see the summary.

        Comment by Russ — November 8, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

  4. It’s a 13 page pdf file. Let me know how to shoot it to you. I believe you have access to my email via wordpress. Feel free if needed…

    Comment by Pete — November 8, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

    • Thanks Pete. I’ll be in touch.

      Comment by Russ — November 10, 2012 @ 8:13 am

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