Rural America

Those Not Around the Table

The scarlet and gold promise of mid-harvest has slipped into the gray, damp reality of early winter. Last month we smiled at sun-kissed crops; this month we smile when we see the sun.
On the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth, November was a month more endured than enjoyed. Its most memorable features were muddy […]

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Willful Ignorance

Michael Lewis is a serious writer with a list of serious bona fides: Princeton bachelor’s degree, master’s from the London School of Economics, a stint on Wall Street and author of best-selling, non-fiction books like Money Ball, The Big Short, and The Blind Side. All were Hollywood box office hits. He also writes for the […]

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Lazy Dogs

A joke bouncing around the ag grapevine shines more light on where rural America’s politics are than where its funny bone actually is. The abridged version goes like this:
My dog sleeps 20 hours out of 24, eats free food prepared for him every day, gets free medical care, free housing, and never cleans up any […]

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Regular Order

For Congressional Republicans, a late winter and early spring of small hiccups turned into a summer of bigger roadblocks. Now, just days into fall, spectacular failure looms.
At the center of all this stumbling is the impossible-to-undo Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Senate and House Republicans have tried mightily to deliver on their ACA […]

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Cat’s Feet

The early morning fog, like poet Carl Sandburg once noted, arrived on cat’s feet and remains, napping, on the lake until a warming sun causes it to slip away the way it came, in silence.
Fifty years ago I watched the September fog while waiting for the morning school bus on the southern Illinois dairy farm […]

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Demanding More

After Hurricane Harvey plowed through east Texas with roof-peeling winds and never-before-seen rain, millions of Americans were left not knowing what to do or where to turn.
President Donald J. Trump made two trips to the flattened, flooded region. In his first drop-in, most observers noted, the President failed to cry with any bereaved, comfort any […]

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Groundhog Day

The calendar may show Labor Day but with another enormous American harvest and its resulting low prices just around the corner it feels more like Groundhog Day.
The movie, I mean, not the shadowy holiday.
The reason why, as Bill Murray’s boorish character learns, is because we’ve been here before. And before and before and before. In […]

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We Need to Talk

It’s August and that means much of Congress is, literally, either out of session, out of the country or out to lunch. That doesn’t mean, however, some of its more diligent members aren’t somehow serving the public.
Take the House Ag Committee. (Please.) A handful of its 46 members will attend three Farm Bill “Conversations in […]

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Dew Point

The sun’s steady rise slowly spreads its gathering light on the morning dew until the lawn dances with sparkles and the day with possibilities.
The July dew, soaking wet and glistening bright, almost always promised a day of sunshine, heat, and humidity on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth. Jackie, the farm’s main field […]

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The Stupidly Expensive Non-Broadband Blues

Twelve years ago this month, the lovely Catherine and I moved from a three-story, oak-lined Victorian house in town to a modern, all-brick home in an unincorporated, rural community six miles north.
The mid-life migration delivered a quieter, safer life of no ladders, no roofing, and no painting.
The move also traded our faultless, $50 per month […]

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