The Watering Hole; Thursday May 26 2016; Of Mental Poverty and Shriveled Souls (aka Teabaggers)

Last Monday I received a letter from The Wilderness Society. It read:

Public lands enemy number one, Representative Rob Bishop, is back at it again! This time he intends to take down landmark sagebrush conservation plans by targeting a defenseless bird, the greater sage-grouse.

Sage Grouse

Greater Sage-Grouse. Credit: Mason Cummings/TWS

Through a national security bill, Rep. Bishop is trying to attach language that would undo publicly developed conservation plans and sell off critical sage-grouse habitat to the highest energy development bidder.

You can help us stop him in his tracks! Sage-grouse are not a threat to our national security. This is a thinly veiled anti-conservation move by Rep. Bishop that would trash one of the largest conservation successes in U.S. history. His effort would unravel years of conservation work by federal agencies, 11 western states and governors, and a diverse coalition of stakeholders. These plans, put in place in late 2015, merged the best science with local knowledge in a conservation plan for 67 million acres of sage-grouse habitat on public lands. Now years of work are in danger of being undone by one man. Tell your senators and representatives to stand up for the sage-grouse and its habitat!


The Wilderness Society

The “Representative Rob Bishop” (R-UT)  to whom they refer is a wildly anti-conservation wingnut Congressional Teabagger who would, I’m sure, happily agree to kill off what’s left of the planet for the sole purpose of turning every square inch of land over to whomever can convert it into cash. Money. Because as we all know, cash is a far more useful and life-enhancing commodity than are those wastrel notions of public land and wildlife preservation. Who cares about a goddamed Sage Grouse anyway? They’re prolly not even good to eat — never seen ’em in the store, I know that for sure. Tree-huggers and environmentalists like to use the word Conservation, but Conservation ain’t got nothin’ to do with genuine Conservatism, ‘cuz look close, they be spelled differnt!

Anyway, I  immediately forwarded this, the Wilderness Society’s message, to my Senators (from whom I’ve not yet heard) and to my “Representative,” the Wingnut Conservative Teabagger Stooge aka Scott Tipton (R-CO):

Representative Bishop’s “Greater Sage Grouse Protection and Recovery Act of 2016,” a rider on this year’s House National Defense Authorization Act, is a thinly veiled anti-conservation measure. This effort would undo years of collaborative planning for 67 million acres across 11 western states and undermine the very protections that helped keep the bird from being listed as threatened or endangered. Please stand up to protect the survival of the greater sage-grouse.

The sage-grouse is not, has never been, and never will be a threat to the security of our nation. This rider has no place in the NDAA. In fact, the Department of Defense, Army, Navy, and Air Force made it clear through statements that the sage-grouse conservation efforts will not impede on the military’s readiness, operations or training.

After years of dedication by the federal government, Western governors and a diverse coalition of stakeholders, it would be a travesty if all of the plans were undone through a rider on a national security bill.

Please don’t let this or any other rider undermine the one of America’s greatest conservation achievements. Don’t meddle with the conservation plans — pass a clean NDAA!

Received this typical boilerplate reply from Tipton two days later, yesterday, on Wednesday the 25th. There was nothing even approaching a semi-salient notion in his thirty word response:

. . . the bill prohibits the listing of the Greater Sage Grouse through 2025, providing adequate time for effective state and local species conservation efforts to continue without heavy-handed federal interference. (highlights mine)

I mean, imagine it. Allow the ‘heavy hands’ of the Feds to act in the interest of a potentially  endangered species and its habitat preservation, and what’s the result? INTERFERENCE WITH THE CAPITALISTIC AMURKKKAN FREEDOM TO RAPE AND DESTROY ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING THAT’S GOT MONEY IN IT!! It’s in the Constitution, Right? Must be, ‘cuz a long time ago John Adams said this here:

[When European colonists first arrived in America] “the whole continent was one continued dismal wilderness, the haunt of wolves and bears and more savage men. Now the forests are removed, the land covered with fields of corn, orchards bending with fruit and the magnificent habitations of rational and civilized people.” ~John Adams, 1756 (as quoted by Barry Lopez in ‘Of Wolves and Men’)

Adams spoke those words some 260 years ago, back when the rape of the continent had just gotten underway. Today, however, we’ve come a long LONG way and have FINALLY reached the point where just about the only land left in the country — land that was once a “dismal wilderness, the haunt of wolves and beaus and [the archaeological remnants of those] more savage men . . .” — has FINALLY reached the point where “the forests are removed [and] the land [is] covered with . . . the magnificent habitations of rational and civilized people.”

YeeHaw. Progress. Finally. Money.

Rep. Rob Bishop is, like Teabaggers everywhere, a notorious hater of Public Lands along with the (implicit) preservation of both those lands and the wildlife thereupon. He is, unfortunately, currently the Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, and has publicly stated that he is dead against the Antiquities Act — a law which 16 presidents of both parties have used to permanently protect public lands and historic sites via National Monument designation. The bottom line is that Bishop hates Public lands, along with any and all who might support the concept. As he recently said, anyone who supports the Antiquities Act of 1906 — the same law that was used to safeguard the Grand Canyon — should “die.” Meanwhile, in his home state of Utah, Bishop has unveiled a draft bill that would force the transfer and sale of tens-of-thousands of acres of public land in southeast Utah — a concept completely in violation of the wishes of Native American Nations in the area, including the Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni.

Damn Injuns. Who the hell do they think they are?

Bishop — apparently in consort with Teabaggers everywhere (including, sadly, SCOTT TIPTON of Colorado) — is determined to do whatever is necessary to rid this country of those gigantic tyrannies the gubmint has imposed on We the People: Public Lands (National Parks, Monuments, Wilderness, National Forests, etc.) along with the protections implied or imposed in re each and every wild inhabitant thereupon. Why?

Because Freedom  Money.

Rotten bastard(s). I’d rather live in a den of hungry Timberwolves than in a world filled with Teabaggers  DEFINED by the Mental Poverty and Shriveled Souls of Teabaggers!




The Watering Hole; Thursday April 14 2016; Public Lands

More than a decade ago, I penned the following in my attempt to summarize the fears of environmentalists everywhere concerning the future of public lands — courtesy of right wing politicians — in this country:

It’s a non-arguable fact of life, so to speak, that the earth’s environment, especially the biosphere, the earth-atmosphere interface in which life exists, is critical to . . . well, it’s critical to the existence of life itself. That is, of course, unless one happens to be a Bush Republican, at which point the biosphere becomes little more than just another big word, one that sounds like something a tree-hugger might speak in the same breath as ‘ecology’ or ‘endangered species’; tree-huggers: you know, those weirdos that think trees and owls and undeveloped land are worth more than the money they can bring in.

I would only wish that last statement be hyperbole and not an understated fact.

[. . .]

In any case, the environment is under attack by this administration. Whether one speaks of global warming, or destroying wilderness, polluting the air and water, strip mining, logging, the further endangerment of endangered species, “junk” science (altered) in order to justify/sanctify misdeeds, drastic reductions in Super-Fund appropriations and hence in cleanups, or just plain selling out to business, to corporate campaign contributors – the verdict is guilty, guilty as charged, guilty before all the gods that be or don’t be.

Sadly, the current destruction is only the half of it; it’s very likely that the other hammer will drop one day in the not too distant future. The ultimate atrocity remains: the conversion of public lands into saleable assets, into that single most valuable of all earthly commodities, money. All arrows are slowly beginning to point in that general direction. Could it really happen? Could the Grand Canyon be sold and opened for development? Sadly, the answer is very likely ‘yes.’ Consider:

There are upwards of 100,000,000 acres of wilderness set aside in the United States, along with hundreds of National Parks and monuments which protect and preserve tens of thousands of square miles of the nation’s most awe-inspiring lands. From the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone and Glacier, from Yosemite to Zion and Rocky Mountain National Park, places unlike anywhere else in the world are protected for perpetuity – or so we’re told. Denali, Big Bend, Petrified Forest, Haleakala – each and all are jewels in the American crown. And we must not forget, too, the National Forests, National Grasslands, wetlands, wild rivers – the list goes on and on and on – multiple-use lands which themselves enjoy at least a modicum of protection from private business interests. Altogether, the dollar value of America’s public lands must be nearly inestimable, and to think said lands are not coveted by speculators and developers, both foreign and domestic, perhaps even by other nations as the most solid possible investment, would be naive to say the least. As Will Rogers said, “Invest in land, they’re not making it anymore.”

[. . .]

At one time, the American currency was the world’s standard, backed by the word, the resources, and the robust economy of the United States. For foreign investors, the dollar was as safe a haven as a mother’s arms. But no longer; today it is not. Today the dollar is a risky investment at best, and apparently is destined to become riskier and riskier with every passing month. What if America has one last asset, and it’s a big one. Imagine the boom if:

✓ Wilderness areas were offered for purchase by private developers?
✓ National Parks were sold to the highest bidder?
✓ Forests were to become the property of timber companies and/or land developers?

Those are just three aspects of what may well become a reality, a way to bail out an otherwise heavily indebted America, plus a way to spur development (read: create jobs) on prime and pristine lands especially across the west and in each Alaska and Hawaii. The travesty is unimaginable – perhaps that’s why it just may happen, why it may even be part and parcel to an already-existing plan. “Starve the beast” – turn America over to the private sector. Could this be what George Bush means when he speaks glowingly of his “ownership society”? A nation where even that which we today call Public Land is destined for private ownership? Remember, today’s current head of public lands is a mining industry lobbyist who believes that public lands are unconstitutional.

We can hope for sanity to reappear, but dare we hold our breath in anticipation?

That was written WAY back in April 2005, just months after G.W.Bush began his second term as the POTUS whose aberrant first term fiscal policies had already completely reversed the financial debt-reduction progress his predecessor had initiated. Bush had also made it clear that land preservation and environmental issues including designation of wildlife refuges, of Wilderness, of National Monuments would not be on his docket because, after all, there’s no money, no profit, in ANY of that, so why the hell bother? And as Reagan’s Interior Secretary (and fundamentalist Christian) James Watt reportedly once noted, “God gave us these things to use. After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.”

So that was then. THIS is NOW:

Tea Party Wave Washes Up ‘Anti-Parks Caucus’ In Congress

A group of 20 senators and representatives has formed a de facto “anti-parks caucus” in Congress and is waging the most significant legislative and ideological challenge to America’s national parks in decades, says a new report released Monday by the Center for American Progress. The analysis finds that this anti-parks caucus is composed of less than five percent of Congress but is responsible for introducing dozens of bills to block the creation of new national parks, end America’s most effective parks program, and sell off public lands.

Eight anti-parks caucus members also participate in the Federal Land Action Group, a group formed last year with the sole purpose of developing land grab legislation that would transfer federal land to state and local control.

[. . .]

Such partisan politics ring true with the 20-member anti-parks caucus which includes Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Surprise surprise. Right? Yeah, right.

I personally find that to be the most vividly disgusting anti-intelluctual and anti-American Congressional premise I’ve run across in the roughly 64 years I’ve been paying attention to their collective nonsensicals, and I find it to be insurmountably incomprehensible that ANYONE would ever vote FOR such a treacherous and treasonous voice for ANY elective office, POTUS and DOGCATCHER included.

I’m reminded of the words of Author John C. Van Dyke who, more than a century ago, wrote this excellent summation:

“…with the coming of civilization the grasses and the wild flowers perish, the forest falls, and its place is taken by brambles, the mountains are blasted in the search for minerals, the plains are broken by the plow and the soil is gradually washed into the rivers. Last of all, when the forests have gone the rains cease falling, the streams dry up, the ground parches and yields no life, and the artificial desert – the desert made by the tramp of human feet – begins to show itself, Yes; everyone must have cast a backward glance and seen Nature’s beauties beaten to ashes under the successive marches of civilization…”

When, I wonder, will enough people figure all that out and take steps to curtail the greed and idiocy that’s come to define this country?
Not until it’s too late, I’d guess.


The Watering Hole, Monday, November 23rd, 2015: NatGeo, Take Me Away!

I can’t deal with “Ugly Americans” [of course, “Ugly Americans” = “Republican Presidential Candidates and their Fans/Supporters”] anymore; we keep thinking, “How can these guys sink so low?”, then, the next hour or day or week, one or two or several of them come out with such outrageous shit that we really need a new word to define what circle of hell lies beyond “outrageous” or “horrific” or “despicable” or “abhorrent” or “inhuman” – sorry, I need more words!

And I’ve had it up to HERE with the holidays being turned into meaningless “shop-’til-you-drop” commercialism [how about if “Black Friday” could be turned into “Black Lives Matter Friday” – hell, make every day of the entire Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday shopping season a day of protests]. So I’m going with some beautiful photos from National Geographic to start the week.

Here’s some pretty birds, from “A Flight of Birds”, a section of NatGeo’s Photo Ark, including a photo capturing the iridescent plumage of the Purple Glossy Starling, such as seen below,
and a more close-up shot of the Javan Rhinoceros Hornbill, like the one seen below:
javan rhinoceros Hornbill

And if you prefer a larger gallery for leisurely viewing, here’s more from NatGeo’s 2015 Photo Contest. The “Week 10” group includes a brooding sunset photo of Godafoss Waterfall in Iceland – here’s a chilly winter shot of the falls, just to start the calming process:

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy the views or rant away – or you can do both!

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 5th, 2015: Mixed Bag Monday

Let’s start off with a bang:  According to Foreign Policy magazine, the same idiots in Congress who tried to stop the Iranian Nuclear Agreement now want to ‘make it up to Bibi’ by giving Israel bunker busters.  An excerpt from this excellently-written article by Jeffrey Davis:

Since the battle over the Iran deal was largely fought over the question of whether proponents loved Israel or not, both sides are talking loudly about providing the country with a big arms package. Those who supported the deal are eager to make it up to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, while those opposed have to find ever more extreme proposals to prove they love Israel more.

This absurd competition — which is primarily about political posturing, not Israeli security — has reached an almost perfect level of absurdity. There is now a growing chorus of people arguing that the United States should give Israel the Massive Ordnance Penetrator — a huge conventional bunker-buster bomb — and a fleet of heavy bombers to drop it.

Israel’s air bases don’t even have runways that can accommodate heavy bombers, though apparently one base — Nevatim — could be modified.**

[**Personal note:  the engineer for whom I used to work had earned the money that enabled him to buy a nice house and start his own business from a contract constructing the Negev Air Base runways.]

Next, let’s go back to the Pope’s meeting with Kim Davis.  Although most news reports agree that the Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S., Carlo Maria Vigano, arranged the visit, so far none seem to have specifically asked or answered “Why?”  Was it solely Reverend Vigano’s idea?  Or – yeah, I’m the suspicious, cynical type – did someone with a stake in a Papal stamp of approval of Kim Davis and her ilk, someone perhaps running for the Presidency, arrange this very, very quietly?  Yeah, I’m looking at you, Huckabee.

Only the Washington Post appears to be curious about the backstory of this now infamous meeting:

Church leaders in the United States and in Rome have been resolutely tight-lipped about the meeting, perhaps concerned about the prospect of appearing to publicly rebuke or challenge the pope, particularly on such a sensitive issue. At the same time, church-watchers have debated and swapped rumors about who set up the meeting, whether it was at the behest of the pope himself, or whether it was an idea pushed by other bishops or religious freedom advocates or donors.

Among those who declined to comment was the Rev. Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States, at whose residence the meeting took place.

Rev. Thomas Rosica, an English-language spokesman for the Vatican, told the Associated Press. “And in the pope’s characteristic kindness and warmth and hospitality, he shook people’s hands and gave them rosaries. We should understand it as that. In terms of why this person was invited, you have to ask those questions of the nunciature.”

A controversial figure both in Rome and in the United States, Viganò has gone further than other church leaders in his campaign against same-sex marriage. Among other things, he appeared at an event this year with the National Organization for Marriage, a group that vocally opposes same-sex marriage and with which U.S. bishops typically don’t publicly ally.

And, of course, Liberty Counsel, and through them Kim Davis, are more or less calling Pope Francis a liar.  According to Christian Today’s article, “Kim Davis denies Vatican account of her meeting with Pope, says she was invited”:

“Disturbed by statements coming from the Vatican, gay marriage nemesis Kim Davis would like to set the records straight that it was the Vatican that extended an “unsolicited invitation” for her to hold a “private meeting” with Pope Francis at the Vatican embassy in Washington D.C. last Sept. 24.

Liberty Counsel, the group representing Davis, said the Kentucky county clerk—who spent six days in jail for defying a court order for her to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples—had spoken with papal representative Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano before she met the Pope.

“This meeting was a private meeting. No other members of the public were present,” Liberty Counsel said.

Davis, accompanied by her husband Joe and lawyer Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, arrived in Washington on the night of Sept. 23, the Liberty Counsel statement said.

The following day, the Davis couple were met by people with “heavy Italian accents” who led them to the Vatican embassy.

“Kim and Joe Davis were placed in a room with no one else present. Later Pope Francis arrived with only Vatican or Embassy personnel and security,” the Liberty Counsel statement said.

“He stretched out his hands. Kim clasped his hands, and he asked her to pray for him. She said she would, and she asked the Pontiff to pray for her, to which he said he would.

“Pope Francis then thanked Kim for her courage. They embraced. The Pope said, ‘Stay strong.’ He then presented Kim and Joe with two rosaries. There was no line of people or other members of the public seen anywhere,” the statement said.

Liberty Counsel said the Vatican requested Davis to keep the meeting a “secret” until the following Tuesday.”

Really?  In this particular case, I have to say that, since Liberty Counsel and Kim Davis are already proven liars, I tend to doubt their account of the “meeting”, which seems to be just another pathetic attempt to keep Liberty Counsel’s pet martyr for Christianity in the limelight.  But I still want to know, who really arranged this on Davis’s behalf with the Papal Ambassador?

Last, a belated birthday present for our resident Turtle:  from National Geographic, glowing sea turtle!

“The critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle is the first reptile scientists have seen exhibiting biofluorescence—the ability to reflect the blue light hitting a surface and re-emit it as a different color. The most common colors are green, red, and orange.”

This is our daily Open Thread–go on, discuss things!

The Watering Hole, Tuesday April 21, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics

The good times are here. Well, let’s say there is some good news this week with respect to the environment. The first two have to do with the importance of biodiversity and resiliency in nature. Who could be against that? The last shows that we can have clean energy and jobs. In Georgia, of all places. Who could be against that?

1. Stinging nettle chemical improves cancer drug

Yes our common weed that itches like crazy when you brush against it also has the same effect on cancer cells.

2. Plastic-Eating Corals Discovered on Great Barrier Reef

A way too early study, with more research to come.

3. Georgia’s clean energy industry provides nearly 20,000 full-time jobs

Open thread, discuss.

The Watering Hole, Tuesday December 16, 2014 – Environmental News and Food Politics

Supposedly MIT scientists have found new insight as to what killed off the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. The more important question is why are there still Republicans around?


Open thread. Discuss.