Wednesday, December 20, 2017

I Can Tell By Your Outfit That You Are A Cowboy

   Ladies and gentlemen, the swamp has been drained into the cabinet and we have now arrived at entropy. A threshold, if you will. In this moment we must choose what America is going to be.

Are we going to be a republic based on ideology, exceptionalism and myth? The cultural value set of Mike Pence's ‘American Identity’ movement?

Or are we going forward stewarding a nation based on a consilience of the sciences, arts, humanities, liberty and justice for all?

Some are looking for the mythical cowboy to ride in and save America. Some fancy themselves the mythical cowboy. Some are just pretending.

Roy Moore
 Presidential Adviser-For-A-Minute and RW mule driver Steve Bannon made a heroic flight down to Alabama intending to cinch the deal for candidate Roy Moore, but that effort didn’t fly. Saw a picture of them together on a stage, Bannon looking disheveled and boozy, Roy Moore dressed in his cowboy outfit and six-gun, looking like a problematic five year old at a kid’s birthday party.     

My paradox-absorbing faculties, working overtime, are sorely taxed and approaching tilt. 

I’m sure all of you who have been awake this past year are aware there are a lot of fires burning right now, both physical and metaphorical. What’s maddening is that the conflagration is not coincidental but the result of long-planned and far-reaching cause and affect. And it’s not all about Trump. He just recently stepped into it and only reflects what’s been fed to him. You are what you eat.  

The Trump administration and congressional Republicans are moving ahead with their plan to systematically deconstruct programs in place designed to combat climate change and bring us online with clean energy. Trump and the Republicans in congress are eating away at commonwealth lands and the public safety net and funneling those resources and monies toward their most powerful donors, the American oligarchs who account for 90% of their campaign donations. Again, follow the money trail and it will lead you to the truth. Regarding the new U.S. tax overhaul, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said to his fellows: “If we can’t get this done, the donations will stop.” Leaving me to wonder how a man who has taken an oath to serve the people would think such a thing, much less presume to say it out loud.   

This is supposed to be an outdoor journal about tying flies and flyfishing, so, all things being connected, here are a few things congressional Republicans, Trump and his appointees are working on that will affect the outdoors, hence angling and anglers, over the long term:

The EPA is working to repeal the Clean Power Plan, the United States’ leading vehicle for reducing carbon emissions. (The EPA is now a gutted shell, headed by Trump appointee Scott Pruitt who, prior to his appointment, speaking figuratively, vowed to “blow up” the Environmental Protection Agency).

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is calling for the elimination of tax incentives for producers of wind and solar energy, and this reflected in the new Republican tax plan (which, ironically, gives a massive tax cut to producers of coal, uranium and gas).

Pruitt bars scientists who receive EPA grants from the agency’s advisory boards, replacing them with industry-funded scientists.

In the name of “grid resiliency,” the Department of Energy (now headed by Trump appointee Rick Perry who, prior to his appointment, vowed to “get rid of” the agency he now heads, though at the time couldn’t recall the name of the agency he wanted to get rid of) wants a higher value placed on energy produced from coal and nuclear plants, a move that could cost taxpayer/consumers $10.6 billion a year.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (now under the control of dissembling Trump operatives) is denying endangered species status to 25 imperiled creatures formerly nominated for listing.

The Interior Department has been instructed to halt a study of the public health effects of mountaintop-removal coal mining; and is also offering 77 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling, the largest such lease sale in the department’s history.  

The National Park Service has been instructed to double the price of admission to the most popular national parks, raising it to $70. (I suspect this is designed to sour public opinion against the idea of maintaining national parks, ensuring less resistance to eventually selling them off).

Trump appointee, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, working in conjunction with Energy Fuels Resources, a uranium mining company, Utah Senator Orin Hatch and other Republicans, have vastly reduced the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments, clearing these public lands for sale to extractive gas, coal and uranium interests. Despite a poll taken in deep red Utah revealing 60% polled oppose the sale of the Monuments.    

Ryan Zinke attempting to cast, his right arm overextended,
rod dropped below the loading point, his backcast
severely drooping, the line coming out of the back of his
reel indicating it is mounted backwards. 
 Ryan Zinke is a twisty piece of work. Just prior to his appointment he vowed again and again to protect our public lands and ensure that they remain intact. Yet, he is a long-time operative and known nature faker with a record of saying one thing while actually doing the opposite. Zinke is fond of projecting a conservationist image. If you go to his website you’ll find a picture of him fly fishing. Like Roy Moore, Zinke wants you to know that he is a cowboy hero, complete with cowboy suit, hat and horse. He wants you to know that he is a rugged, independent, salt-of-the-earth, man of the country. Of course that aint really what he is. In reality he is a radical RW ideologue and mechanic for extractive interests, a tool. A tool placed where he can go to work dissembling our public lands so they can eventually be wholesaled to extracting interests.

And I wonder why the rush to sell commonwealth lands when the lease system already in place presents a level opportunity for grazing and extraction while still keeping the public lands under the ownership and oversight of the American people? Are we experiencing a lack of raw materials because we have denied access to them? I’m not seeing the evidence of it. I once worked as range manager for a 3000 acre BLM range lease. At the time, the ranch I worked for paid $1.46 per year, per cow/calf unit (the fee Cliven Bundy refuses to pay), and made 900 times the fee on a season’s weight gain, per unit. Not a bad return.

Cliven Bundy
 And I don’t know many ranchers who would be exactly in accord with Cliven Bundy, yet, somehow, he has become a sort of darling among Republican politicians, particularly in the West and South. During several appearances on Fox News Bundy was treated like an American folk hero. The last election, the county where I live elected a new commissioner who, in a meeting, called for and performed a minute of silence for “American hero” Lavoy Finicum, killed during a confrontation with police while participating in the armed take-over of an Oregon wildlife sanctuary led by Ammon Bundy. (Ironically, Lavoy Finicum of Utah lived in a rented apartment where he and his wife made a living from the State, taking in foster children while Lavoy ran a few head of cows on public land – that, while devoting his life and eventually martyring himself in the cause of dissembling government programs and privatizing the public lands).   

 Interestingly, the RW dominionist militiamen who took over the reserve were exonerated in an Oregon court. And now a Nevada judge has declared a mistrial in the armed standoff case against Cliven Bundy. Leaves one to wonder: why are these people getting off so lightly? Well, I suspect it is because they, dressed in their cowboy outfits and military gear (more paradox to absorb) serve as folk icons supporting deeply held cultural myths, making them useful tools in the hands of a wealthy class with whom they actually have nothing in common with. Here’s some enlightening commentary from Utah:                  

And here’s a well-written plea from Montana guide/writer Todd Tanner. Todd reflects the way a lot of us are feeling right now, and I don’t think he is exaggerating the need for hunters and anglers to get active.   

If you’re experiencing some indiscriminate rage, maybe it’s a good time to focus, set your sights, draw a deep breath, and let fly in a worthwhile direction. Speak to power. Write. If we don’t write the script, K Street and the likes of Rupert Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh, Steve Bannon and Alex Jones will.

Yours Truly

The Lone Soft-Hackler