Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Time for a little introspection...

There's a chance--a small one, or course--that I've managed to get this all wrong. I've spent the last year or so railing against the machine, pointing out all the bought-and-paid-for elected officials out there who do the legislative bidding of The Man. Perhaps I need to look elsewhere.

In truth, we, as hunters and fishers, are to blame. We, as a whole, are either apathetic or so programmed by tradition that we end up as part of the problem when go to the polls and send ambitious politicians to Washington or to state capitols all across America. We're brainwashed.

Damn it. I think it's our own fault. We're robotic idiots who vote the way we vote because that's all we've ever done. We assume that the folks who claim to fight for good old-fashioned family values and claim to be economically and fiscally responsible and who want to make sure our American way of life is protected from those who would destroy it are also fighting for our rights to hunt and fish and experience the best of America on our terms. We assume that public lands will always be public and we take for granted that access to these wonderful places will always require only a little desire and the means to get there.

What we see...
And when folks ask us how we feel about our hunting and fishing heritage, and the public places that belong to us simply because we're Americans, we tell them how important they are to us. We want public lands kept intact and not sullied so some robber baron can make a buck and leave a mess behind. We want wild places and wild things in our lives, and we are making the connection between these wild places and the opportunities they offer to us when we wander into the wilderness with a rifle slung over our shoulder or a fly rod in our hands. We get it.

What they see...
And then we go to the polls and send some pandering ass to DC, where he busily works to ensure all his funders get what they paid for, which, if you think about it, is the same thing we want: access to our public lands, freedom from all the constraints of an overbearing government and the right to make a living. The only difference is, deep-pocketed political funders want to treat our treasured resources--the ones that belong to all of us--like a ghetto crack whore. They want to sink drills, dig open-pit mines, inject fluid, take away anything of economic value, leave a sticky mess behind and then get the fuck out.

And there's no conscience. No looking back. And our apathy lets it happen.

"The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."

These days, we're all enamored by the idea of replacing the dude in the White House with someone who's a bit more in touch with what Americans really want. Someone who shares our values and appreciates hard work. We want someone who's not going to take so much pity on the lazy and destitute or the dipshits on Wall Street or in Detroit who essentially pushed themselves to the brink of disaster and then had to beg for help from the rest of us, who are now really struggling thanks largely to the mistakes of these clowns. And we want someone who stands firmly behind the Second Amendment and will protect our right to own and use firearms.

And for some reason, that's where we stop wanting. That's the end of the wish list.

The other day, I read this (video above, for proof), and reality hit me. On the surface, this is the type of guy we'd all like to see in the White House. He's articulate. He's successful. He's clean-cut and well-spoken, and certainly he's very bright. But at his heart, he's another god-damned One Percenter with no interest in the common man. No, he says, he wouldn't have bailed out Wall Street, even though a massive percentage of his campaign funds come from that very classy lane in Lower Manhattan. He would repeal the "job-killing" health care bill, even though he crafted one virtually identical to it in his home state of Massachusetts (where public lands are minimal). He wouldn't have bailed out the automobile industry, even though his old man was once the governor of Michigan. He wouldn't cut money from our defense budget, even though that's where the bulk of our spending lies.

And, it seems, he'd be willing to liquidate public land, apparently because his cronies in Utah during the 2002 Olympics said they didn't know why there was so much public land out there, and what it was for, other than to develop coal and gold reserves or to appease the most extreme environmentalists.

Ask yourself, the next time you've got a big bull elk in the crosshairs, or the next time you cast that fluffy Stimulator to that rising cutthroat ... "Am I an extreme environmentalist?"

Unfortunately, I think it's safe to say that most of us who hunt and fish (and, after three years into the presidency that was supposed to be so liberal and extreme, still own all of our guns) seem to think we're somehow contractually obligated to vote for uninformed elitists like this, simply because they attach the right letter next to their names when they appear on the ballot. And, judging from the bought-and-paid for lapdogs in DC, we have a pretty shitty track record--we send these assholes to DC all the time, only to scratch our heads and wonder why in the world they'd be so stupid as to try and bend over for industry interests that just want to rape and pillage the very lands we hold most dear.

But, in our hearts, we know. They're bought. They're paid for. They're working for their constituents who really matter to them. We're the fucking proletariat drones who mindlessly punch chads next to candidates' names because they are rumored to support the values we hold most dear.

We need to snap out of it. We need to think for ourselves. We need to reexamine those values, and decide, quite frankly, if we'd be able to exercise any of them without public land and our time spent exploring them as a backdrop. Do you like hunting with your son? Or your father? Do you like time around the campfire with good friends? Do you like being able to wander up into the hills and disappear up a hidden trout stream for a few hours once or twice a month? Do you dream about that Alaskan fishing trip, or the Montana elk hunt from your urban refuge?

How about those values? Family. Relationships. Time spent outdoors. Don't those count?

Think for yourself. Turn off the brainwasher and tune into reality. Above all, start voting for the values you hold most dear, not the ones you're told you hold most dear.

It's time we stopped being part of the problem, don't you think?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Another Energy Industry Stooge

Lamborn... apparently standing in front of the land he'd like to
see leased to the energy industry for cut-rate royalties.
You'd think some Congressional ass clowns like U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn would come up with some original ideas when it comes to extracting energy resources from beneath some of the best fishing and hunting country left in the Lower 48, right?


The U.S. Department of Interior announced this week that it's going to scale back Bush-era plans to extract oil from shale in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, largely because there's no proven way to do it without sucking up most of the region's water, trashing some of the most scenic and economically important land in the nation and, of course, spending more than the commodity is worth at market, even now with a barrel of oil coming in at about $100. Instead, federal resources will go into continued research and development. The idea, they say, is that a patient, deliberate approach to developing the science behind the potential extraction of untold amounts of oil from beneath this land is the way to go.

You know... figure out how to do it right. Makes sense, huh?

But Lamborn won't let pragmatism get in the way. He's advocating for a "full-speed-ahead" approach that advocates leasing these lands in the shale belt for reduced state and federal royalties. What the hell is this idiot smoking? And if it's the stuff he can get with the most sought-after prescription in Colorado, how's that glaucoma coming along?

Oh, wait. He's probably not smoking anything. He's an industry stooge. One look at his most recent campaign fundraising report will tell you exactly why he's asking communities on Colorado's Western Slope to bend over and take it up the grungehole from the oil and gas crowd. The oil and gas industry is his largest funder, and the Congressman is simply trying to give the industry its money's worth.

Never mind how we get it. Just get it. And save the industry
some cash in the process.
Trouble is, there's not a smidgeon of creative thought coming from this hard-core right winger when it comes to energy resources and how best to go about getting at oil and gas without trashing the land, the habitat and our ability to hunt and fish on public lands that belong to all of us. Like a lot of politicians out there who merit significant donations from energy industry PACs, Lamborn is a bought-and-paid-for mouthpiece that simply wants to keep his job, not do the job the people of Colorado's 5th District elected him to do.

But let's remember... this is the same congressman who stepped on his pecker when he said working with President Obama on debt-ceiling issues was like working with a tar baby. Not the sharpest pencil in the drawer, is he?

Sadly, as long industry is allowed to give unlimited amounts of money through PACs to hired stooges like Lamborn (you know, "corporations are people," right?), bills like Lamborn's creatively named Pioneer's Act will continue to surface and get attention (because there are a lot of industry stooges in Congress).

The solution for sportsmen who give a shit about public lands and what becomes of them? Fight back with your vote. Don't be a stooge. Vote for the candidate who can think on his own without an energy industry check to guide him.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Absence makes the heart grow fonder ...

Has it really been four months? Time flies when you're working for The Man, huh?

Well, the good news, if you're even a frequent follower (I hear all the time the phrase, "I'm a closet follower of the Political Sportsman"), is that I haven't completely disappeared. The bad news is that, if you hunt or fish in the United States, you're likely not seeing much love from the bought-and-paid-for politicians in Washington (or from the clowns running for president on the GOP ticket, for that matter).

And, worse, there are "advocacy" groups out there that only seem to advocate for the Great White (monied) Hunter who doesn't care if the bull he shoots is corn-fed and raised behind a fence or one that might require a bit of shoe rubber to reach well off the beaten path. To hell with the rest of us who want to see our public lands protected, if for no other reason than they provide the conduit to our sporting heritage and the lifeline for the future of hunting and fishing in America.

Let's start with the most egregious offenders, shall we?

Add caption
Melissa Simpson: A former soldier in the Bush Administration's Resource And Public-lands Extraction Machine (she worked for both Interior and the USDA in natural resources jobs), Simpson is now schlepping for Safari Club International, a reputable, if misguided, organization. "Misguided" certainly describes SCI's decision to bring Simpson on board a while back--she's no friend of the hunter (although she's a great friend of, say, the rich white guys who own oil companies and hunt while on safari half a world away). During her time with RAPE, more gas drilling permits were rubber stamped than is conceivable, and the constant fight against the 2001 Roadless Rule continued unabated on behalf of industry.

Simpson appears to be the leading SCI antagonist these days, advocating for such asinine initiatives as the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011, or as I like to call it, the Fish and Game Subversives Act (FAGS). This toxic bill, introduced by two energy industry stooges on The Hill--Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California and Sen. John Barasso of Wyoming--would remove the tenuous protections enjoyed by backcountry lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Conceivably, if the bill passes (and it's looking less and less likely because folks like you have made a stink about it--good work, by the way), it could open the up high-quality public lands belonging to every American citizen to industrial-grade development like oil and gas drilling and mining, motorized vehicle use and other onerous uses. Keeping in mind that the backcountry is the last pristine fish and game habitat left in the United States, and you, as a sportsman, can smell what this bill is really made of, right?

Simpson, in her testimony before Congress, claimed to represent "mainstream sportsmen," and then tried to be fashionable and channel Theodore Roosevelt: "President Roosevelt described conservation as meaning 'sound development as much as it means protection' and that 'natural resources
must be used for the benefit of all people.'"

As they say on ESPN, let's break it down:

  • Mainstream? Well, at first, it seemed accurate, especially when the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation jumped on board to support the bill. A few months later, though, after the "mainstream" members of RMEF threatened to leave the organization for supporting a bill that would actually diminish the quality of and quantity of elk habitat, the RMEF pulled its support and slunk off into the hills to lick its wounds. 
  • Teddy? Sure, he said that. He also said, "There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country," as well as, "Defenders of the short-sighted men who in their greed and selfishness will, if permitted, rob our country of half its charm by their reckless extermination of all useful and beautiful wild things sometimes seek to champion them by saying the 'the game belongs to the people.' So it does; and not merely to the people now alive, but to the unborn people. The 'greatest good for the greatest number' applies to the number within the womb of time, compared to which those now alive form but an insignificant fraction. Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations. The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose, and method."

With that in mind, I wonder if TR would wander through the gas fields of Pennsylvania or the gas patch of western Wyoming today and think "development" is such a good thing, after all.

In short, Melissa Simpson is toxic. That SCI keeps her on the payroll is foolish and counter to the group's stated mission, "First for Hunters."

U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, Republican from Maryland: Harris was serving as the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment today when the documentary filmmaker who made the acclaimed film "Gasland" was ordered arrested and removed from a public committee meeting for attempting to film the gathering for a future documentary.

The hearing, focusing on the controversial practice of "fracking," was recorded on C-SPAN, but documentarian Josh Fox wanted some higher-quality footage for use in his next film. Now, for clarity, there are rules governing media access to congressional meetings, but they're usually only strictly enforced when there's the threat of a throng of media descending on a hearing. There was no throng in this case. Fox simply wanted to record members of Congress during the committee meeting, some of whom would likely go on record supporting the practice of hydrofracturing (fracking), which is accomplished by injecting an unknown (trade secret of the industry ... seriously) chemical cocktail into the ground the force shale gas up from the depths of the earth.

We're seeing the impacts of fracking in drinking water in Wyoming and its practice requires the use of surface water, which is literally drying up trout streams in Pennsylvania and potentially polluting creeks and streams as it's brought back up to the surface.

Harris and his fellow Republicans ordered Fox arrested because he continued to invoke his First Amendment rights and refused to leave the hearing, camera in tow. Wow. I can't wait to see the next documentary.

I'm sure there are more bad actors out there, who claim to represent hunters and anglers but truly represent something much more subversive and sinister. But I've dallied long enough for today. I'll keep at it. If you'd like to suggest a few other bad actors that need a good bitch-slapping, feel free to secretly share them. I'll do my best to be a bit more timely and post a bit more frequently. This day job is kicking my ass...