Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Congress as Viagra Gone Bad


By Bob Ferris

Now that the professional football season is over I find myself saddened—both because the Seahawks lost and because it will be some time before my wife and I will be able to watch the ‘Hawks play again.  But none of that sadness will be a result of missing being constantly bombarded by advertising particularly those ads for certain products of a male nature.  I find it somewhat ironic that these overly romantic marketing offerings—well seasoned with hot tub hand-holding and punctuated with innuendo—tend to end with the startling reality that this short expedition to connubial paradise could end in a trip to the hospital or worse.  Ouch—certainly all that glitters is not gold.

I think of the above as I consider our current Congressional situation.  I know that many voted for candidates solely on some hopeful premise like lower taxes, family values or out of some purported fear about a loss of particular freedoms or the outrageous injustice of having access to affordable health care (sorry).  Regardless of any personal motivation, my sense is that most saw their issue and then failed to carefully read the warning labels.

I suspect that someone who hunts and votes solely on gun rights or similar issues, for instance, might soon question the logic of that decision when their guy or gal turns out to also want to sell off their public lands (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10), reduce clean water protections, greatly extend public grazing leases, and stop all progress on climate change or ocean acidification while prancing blithely down the legislative lane towards gutting the US Environmental Protection Agency (1.2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10).


But the little pill that got us to this embarrassing point and has put us all in so much jeopardy is complicated and the result of much investment, work and subterfuge by those who could give a flying crap about public lands with wilderness attributes, the simple values of seeing a jumping deer or salmon, or being able to drink water directly from a mountain stream.  These folks have invested mightily in “think tanks” that distort science, policy and reality mainly through self-published, non-peer reviewed tripe (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10) and “grassroots” movements that represent their interests but certainly not ours (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10) .  They put money too into snowball slinging senators (#SenatorSnowBall) and news sources that take reality and bend it artfully to suit their goals (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10).  And they have attacked our education system and academia (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10) with such vigor that we collectively are moving to a point where we will no longer have the ability to sort the figurative wheat from the chaff (i.e., know whether to take the "little pill" or not).

Unfortunately, we are in the process of essentially becoming the sheep and cattle they want us to be
as we only see the alfalfa (meaningless incentives) they offer or the electric prods (fear) they wield and not the sheering sheds or slaughter houses where we are being led or driven.  And if your reaction to this is a feeling of powerlessness to fight this big machine, please see me smacking my forehead hard with the palm of my hand.  I will ask you to remember that little event this past November where you voted or not.  That was when you decided to pop this highly promoted and absolutely manufactured pill without reading the warning labels that were there for all to see. Now we collectively sit with an "election" at the apprehensive three-hour mark hoping it does not go to the permanently damaging and potentially fatal fourth hour.

Seahawk running back Marshawn Lynch is in the process of registering his catch phrase about being at a press conference to avoid being fined.  Perhaps the rest of us—particularly those who value wildlife and wild places—should  adopt a phase too.  Something like: I am just voting to avoid losing any hope for a wild future that resembles what I have known or want.

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We will not have an opportunity at a corrective election for two years.  That is a long time available for mischief.  In the interim it is important to work with those groups that have maintained friendly and broad relationships, are aware of this situation and working to solve the myriad of problems. Examples include:


It is also important to work with these groups and others to rebuild bridges with allied groups in the conservation and environmental realms.  And for 2016 it will be extremely important to pick candidates who are not beholding to the collective machine described above and if they are not offered we will have to find them or create them ourselves.

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(Note: In the above piece I used groups of 10 cites to illustrate the breadth and diversity of the various attacks.  These attacks are clearly orchestrated and organized.  I am aware that two conclusions can be reached from this approach.  The first is that there is broad support for this anti-regulatory agenda.  The second is that players who have benefited monumentally from the reduction in regulation are investing millions so they can reap billions more.  Examination of the network of financial support for the think tanks and the incestuous nature of their staffs, boards and donors as well as the political contributions to those pushing this agenda argue much stronger for the latter explanation than the former.)

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