New Legislation Hopes to Protect Chaco Canyon from Zinke and Drilling Companies

New Orleans       Interior Secretary and former Congressman Ryan Zinke has become the “Scott Pruitt” of the current lineup of Trump Cabinet acolytes.

He now has more than a dozen investigations going on for various conflicts of interest and self-dealing.  The acting Inspector General for the Interior Department referred one case already to the Justice Department for potential prosecution having to do with unauthorized and unpermitted travel and security for his wife.   Reports indicate that a second matter involving self-dealing on a land and development deal in Whitefish, Montana with the former head of the giant oil services company, Halliburton has also been referred to Justice.  The Halliburton company is ubiquitous in oil country both domestically and internationally, but many people may also recognize the name as the interim employer that allowed Dick Cheney a good paying job between government service and his terms as Vice President under George W. Bush.

The Halliburton connection is hardly surprising since in Zinke’s short time at Interior he has pretty much acted more like he was a “land man” for the oil and gas industry rather than a protector of the national parks, forests, and land holdings of the national government.  The review and redrawing of nationally protected areas under the Obama Administration was unprecedented and had never occurred in the wake of any other presidency with each respecting the others, until the ascendancy of Trumpism that respects nothing but the Trump idolatry.  The redrawing of Bears Ears National Monument and threats to others has been news not only in the West but nationally, where it is also widely condemned.

One of the gravest threats remains the risk of oil and gas drilling in what had been a protected area around the Chaco Canyon National and Historic Park, one of the truly special places in the Americas and an area of sacred and cultural value to native peoples as well.  The Bureau of Land Management is preparing to release a plan that could alter this area forever and endanger Chaco Canyon permanently.   Environmental and other groups in the Four Corners area of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have all vigorously opposed these changes.  Much of the area is also on the Navajo reservation and, importantly, the All Pueblo Council of Governors and its chairs, representing all the native interests in the area, have gone to war on this as well.

The High Country News included a report and opinion piece by the APCG leadership on their lobbying in Washington, D.C. and their call on Zinke and other federal government officials to protect the Chaco Canyon area.  In some good news they report that legislation called the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act of 2018 has now been introduced.

This area must be protected.  This legislation needs to be supported.  Make sure it’s on your list now, and is among the many differences that your vote in the midterm elections for Congressional representatives could make, especially if control of the House of Representatives shifts.

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Please enjoy Tangled Up in Blue by Bob Dylan from More Blood on the Tracks (previously unreleased version).

Thanks to KABF.

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The Wages of Sin are Death: Rhetoric Has Consequences

New Orleans    Past the hyperbole on all sides, we all have to finally look soberly at the new world we inhabit.  There’s no sense anymore in talking about the America we were or want to be, when it is so clearly not the America that we are currently inhabiting.  We’re living in a country where hate and rage has been unleashed and is now being unabashedly weaponized in order to polarize the population against each other, the devil take the hindmost.  It’s not pretty.  It’s deadly.

President Trump was in a recent rally.  He said to his assembled fans that in the wake of all of killing and violence he had ignited by his rhetoric the might have to “tone it down,” and they shouted, “No!” In a strange way, that’s almost good news.  Trump is at least being told by some of his enablers that perhaps there’s another way to form a political message without simply spewing hate.  But, face it.  He won’t change, so why expect it.  For a brief moment he expressed sympathy and horror at the Squirrel Hill synagogue killings in Pittsburgh, and then went right back to blaming the media, Democrats, and everyone but himself.

As pipe bombs were flying towards mail slots used by some of the frequent targets of Trump vindictive, Trump wannabes were trying to claim these were “false flag” situations, meaning that their blood enemies, the Democrats, were in the process of trying to bomb themselves in order to move the electorate against Trump.  Wow!  It took the quick work of the much-maligned FBI to capture the DNA and fingerprint of a hardcore Trump booster in Florida living in his van with Trump and rightwing slogans plastered all over the panels.  It took Attorney General Jeff Sessions, no friend of the people, to simply state that the bomber seemed to be a “partisan.”  No, duh!

The anti-Semitic killings were of the same piece.  Let’s recall how recently Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was seemingly defending Holocaust deniers and other anti-Semites and their ability to use Facebook to spread their hate and conspiracies.  Now in the wake of the Pittsburgh murders, the social media giants are having to once again reveal how their platforms have been used to weaponize hate.  Instagram, a Facebook subsidiary, seems rife with such postings, and, given the Brazilian election experience, god knows how WhatsApp has been used.

The example of the limits of free speech used to be that we had such guarantees in the United States, but that did not mean that anyone had the right to yell, “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater.  Not as many people go to see the movies anymore, but the same rules ought to apply for politicians and others who are screaming the equivalent of “Fire!” to their supporters.  Yelling “fire,” doesn’t translate into “vote for me.”  It translates into worse evils like pipe bombs and mass killings.

As the evangelicals and other religious have taught us, the “wages of sin are death.”  This is the fire this time.  People are yelling at the top of their lungs.  It is evil.  The deaths may be our own, our neighbors, our leaders, and others more innocent and purer.

Rhetoric has consequences.  The consequences are deadly serious.  How can this not be a lesson to everyone.  We may have to teach this from the bottom to the top.

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Please enjoy Put a Woman in Charge by Keb’ Mo’ Featuring Rosanne Cash.

Thanks to KABF.

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