"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Monday, January 09, 2017

You Start to Go Numb

And then something like this pops up. From Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo:

In addition to the House ethics fiasco and Iowa Republican Rep. Steve. King's attempt to encroach on the Supreme Court's turf, on Tuesday a House Republican introduced a rule to make it easier for the United States to rid itself of public lands We the People own. Think Progress reported:
A new rule, written by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), establishes as fact that any legislation to dispose of public lands and natural resources would cost taxpayers exactly $0. This paves the way for the new Congress to get rid of vast swaths of public lands — all at the expense of the American taxpayer.

Some detail on the mechanics from Brody Levesque at NCRM:

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a rules change this past week by a vote of 234 to 193, that would allow Congress the ability to essentially give away federal lands and buildings for free. The new rule, authored by GOP Rep. Robert Bishop of Utah, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, codifies that any legislation to dispose of federal land and natural resources would have a net sum zero cost to taxpayers. As the rule applies only to the House legislative rules, it is not subject to approval by the Senate or a presidential signature and is effective immediately. . . .

Since the House is required to account for any cost associated with any legislation it considers under Congressional Budget Office accounting rules and guidelines, legislation put forward now shall skip several steps in the normal legislative process, coming up for a vote without any discussion of the costs and benefits. This means that the House does not need to render an assessment or cost analysis of estimated financial losses resulting in legislation giving away public lands or buildings.

They're not wasting any time. The Bundys must be wetting their paints in glee. Wait until they find out that it's not for them:

The Wilderness Society said "this move paves the way for a wholesale giveaway of our American hunting, fishing and camping lands that belong to us all. Make no mistake, the giveaway is for the benefit of the drilling and mining interests that have a lock-grip on Congress and the rest of Washington."

(And just in case there's any doubt in your mind as to who the intended beneficiaries are:

According to the advocacy and activist group Oil Change International which tracks campaign contribution monies from fossil fuel corporations and the coal industry via the group's Dirty Energy Money web project, since 1999 Congressman Bishop has accepted campaign funds and contributions of more than $452,610 dollars from oil, gas and coal interests. Figures collected by Oil Change International show that greater than ten percent of that figure has come from the coal-friendly National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, which has led the fight against the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan. Oil giants Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, and Tesoro are also listed among Bishop's top campaign contributors.

When I was a kid, every summer we'd load up the car with our tent and camping gear and head west. One year, when my dad and mom were both between jobs, we did a grand tour: through the Badlands on our way west, then down to visit my uncle in Colorado, then up through Rocky Mountain National Park on our way to Yellowstone (you get no sense of how huge bison are from pictures -- you have to be standing a dozen yards away to really feel the kind of presence they have), then up to Glacier (looking across a mile-wide gorge and just being able to spot a little dot of white -- a Rocky Mountain goat picking its way across a mountainside), with a dip into Canada (just like Kansas, only flatter -- miles of wheat), then across the Idaho panhandle to Olympic National Park -- both
parts (I've never experienced such profound silence as in the mountain section, and the coast, foggy and all grays, was pure mystery). Down through Oregon to Nevada, Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon (a mile deep, and sort of a reverse Glacier: distances were down and across, instead of up and across, and equally vast). There were also times spent camping in the Everglades (which is mostly walkways -- there's not that much dry land -- and a boat ride through the mangroves, being paced by dolphins), and Smoky Mountains National Park (beautiful, old, worn-down mountains, not so far from my ancestral home, covered in forest, comfortable and reassuring).

So now some teabagger from Utah with no soul wants to give it away so his donors can make more money. Yeah, go ahead -- start fracking in Yellowstone and watch the whole West just go up in one huge eruption.


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