Saturday, July 16, 2016

The GOP Platform Takes Another Step Towards The Conservative Dream Of Selling Off The National Parks


Suggested reading for Cliven Bundy's pet congressman

In his seminal book, The Progressive Revolution: How The Best In America Came To Be, Mike Lux listed some of the achievements of the progressive movement in this country, achievements that often took years of struggle against conservative forces doggedly serving the interests of great wealth and entrenched, established power. "If you look at our country’s long history," he wrote, "from the days of the first stirrings of our revolutionary impulses against Britain to today, progressive leaders and progressive movements have moved this country forward in the face of bitter-- and frequently violent-- opposition from reactionaries and defenders of the status quo. Consider the major advances in American history:
The American Revolution
The Bill of Rights and the forging of a democracy
Universal white male suffrage
Public education
The emancipation of the slaves
The national park system
Food safety
The breakup of monopolies
The Homestead Act
Land grant universities
Rural electrification
Women’s suffrage
The abolition of child labor
The eight hour workday
The minimum wage
Social Security
Civil rights for minorities and women
Voting rights for minorities and the poor
Cleaning up our air, our water, and toxic dump sites
Consumer product safety
Medicare and Medicaid

Every single one of those reforms, which are literally the reforms that made this country what it is today, was accomplished by the progressive movement standing up to the fierce opposition of conservative reactionaries who were trying to preserve their own power. American history is one long argument between progressivism and conservatism.

The striking thing about this long debate is how much the arguments that have occurred are repetitive over time, in terms of their rhetoric, constituencies, philosophy, and the values they represent. From generation to generation, the conservatives who oppose reform and progress have used the same kinds of arguments over and over again.
Notice what Mike has right between the progressive vs. conservative battle to emancipate the slaves and the progressive vs. conservative battle to move towards guaranteeing food safety for consumers: the progressive vs. conservative battle to establish the great American national park system. Hard to believe but the conservatives fought against it like enraged animals. They-- conservatives, not Republicans, did back in the mid-1800s and they still are today. Watch simple-minded and vision-free Republican former congressman Cliff Stearns (FL) in the video below advocating "selling off some of our national parks."

The whole idea of national parks has been credited not to politicians but to artists and writers like George Catlin, James Fenimore Cooper, Henry David Thoreau, Thomas Cole and Frederick Edwin Church who helped transform the concept of the wilderness as a challenge that had to be overcome to an appreciation for unspoiled nature and spectacular natural areas. The first instance I could find of the political adoption of this attitude led to the create of Yosemite in 1864 when Congress passed a Abraham Lincoln signed a land transfer premised on the valley being "held for public use, resort, and recreation... inalienable for all time." Republicans, of course, have devolved tremendously since Lincoln and Cliff Stearns represents them far better than Abraham Lincoln. After Yosemite, Yellowstone and then Mackinaw were established as national parks but conservatives fail to see government's role in holding America's heritage in trust from one generation to the next. Although Stearns and his right-wing crackpot colleagues wanted to sell off Florida’s Everglades National Park, it is directly responsible for almost 2,400 jobs and $140 million a year in visitor spending. Nationally, the park system is responsible for over a quarter million jobs and $31 billion dollars annually. Conservatives imagine a string on Starbucks along the rim of the Grand Canyon would be more productive.

Richard Pombo (R-CA) was defeated in California for several reasons but his constituents were more than aware that he was advocating selling off the national parks to mining companies when they replaced the powerful committee chairman with political unknown Jerry McNerney in 2006. This year the Republican platform is demanding the federal government immediately start disposing of federal lands on behalf of the anti-park fanatics and the anti-government militias. The crackpot party's platform: "Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to the states. We call upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the transfer of those lands identified." The Koch brothers paid a fortune to have that in the platform.

Most of the tea party maniacs and extremists who stand for selling the national parks are in deep red districts filled with brainwashed zombies who have no capacity for critical thought, like Rob Bishop who has Pombo's old job as House Natural Resource Committee chairman. His R+27 district gave Obama a mere 20% of the vote and Bishop could sell everyone's children and probably get reelected. Jason Chaffetz, another Utah nut case, is just as anti-national park-- and has an even redder district! They're not going anyplace. Nor are some of the other of the worst privatizers like Don Young (R-AK), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Paul Cook (R-CA)-- who's sprawling desert district includes Death Valley National Park, the Mojave Wilderness and National Preserve, Inyo National Forest, the White Mountains Wilderness area and is precariously close to both Yosemite, Sequoia National Park and the John Muir Wilderness-- Raul Labrador (R-ID) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ). But there is one who looks likely to lose his seat-- the Cliven Bundy-coddling congressman, Cresent Hardy.
Rep. Hardy is a member of FLAG [the Federal Land Action Group] and introduced H.R. 1445, which would prohibit the Department of the Interior from acquiring new public lands that would be managed by the National Parks Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or the BLM, unless the federal budget is balanced. As a practical matter, the bill would prevent the U.S. government from being able to protect Civil War battlefields from development or guard against the building of private mansions on private inholdings within national parks.

Rep. Hardy introduced two amendments that would add loopholes to the Antiquities Act: H. Amdt. 597 to the most recent appropriations bill and H.  Amdt. 345 to the defense authorization bill. He has also cosponsored three other bills that would alter the Antiquities Act, as well as one bill focused on land seizure.
Goal Thermometer Unfortunately for Hardy, he's in a nice blue-leaning district and his opponent is an accomplished, popular and much-admired state senator, Ruben Kihuen, very much not an admirer of Hardy's vigilante friends and law-breaking fanatics. "For too long, big oil companies and polluters have determined our environmental policy in this country with an army of lobbyists.," he told Nevada voters. "We cannot afford to allow big polluters to put profits above the health of our families and our planet. We must act now to stop climate change and protect our environment for the generations that follow. Congressman Cresent Hardy seems to take his conservation cues, particularly on land management, from his good friend Cliven Bundy. That’s not the type of leadership Nevada needs. I am proud of my 94% lifetime rating from the Nevada Conservation League. In the legislature, I championed bills to increase the percentage of our state’s energy that is produced by renewable energy, and I have been a long-time advocate for protecting our public lands such as Basin and Range and Gold Butte." He promised to "be a voice for keeping our public lands in public hands and push for a funding increase in our land and water conservation fund to protect America’s great places." Please watch this incredible Ken Burns documentary on the national parks and consider making a contribution to Ruben's campaign by tapping on the thermometer on the right.

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At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't contribute, but this is my district and Ruben has my vote!

At 12:12 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

A contribution has one purpose: the help win votes. Your vote for Kihuen is worth far more than a financial donation. Please get your friends and family on board too.

At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The wealthy goal has been for many decades to reserve the enjoyment of such natural treasures for themselves. Anything of any worth is to become "If you must ask how much it costs, you can't afford it." We'll be too busy working four jobs anyway.


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