Trashing the Joint

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Bush Administration

Remember back when Republicans claimed (falsely) that the Clintons had trashed the White House? And GOP were all over cable news and talk radio with wild accusations, nearly all of which were found to be false by the GAO?

Well, I want the same attention paid to what the Bushies have done to the national forests. Timothy Egan writes,

I drove through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest on my way to climb Mount Hood, and found the place in tatters. Roads are closed, or in disrepair. Trails are washed out. The campgrounds, those that are open, are frayed and unkempt. It looks like the forestry equivalent of a neighborhood crack house.

In the Pinchot woods, you see the George W. Bush public lands legacy. If you want to drill, or cut trees, or open a gas line — the place is yours. Most everything else has been trashed or left to bleed to death.

Remember the scene from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” when Jimmy Stewart’s character sees what would happen to Bedford Falls if the richest man in town took over? All those honky-tonks, strip joints and tenement dwellings in Pottersville?

If Roosevelt roamed the West today, he’d find some of the same thing in the land he entrusted to future presidents. The national wildlife system, started by T.R., has been emasculated. President Bush has systematically pared the budget to the point where, this year, more than 200 refuges could be without any staff at all.

The Bureau of Land Management, which oversees some of the finest open range, desert canyons and high-alpine valleys in the world, was told early on in the Bush years to make drilling for oil and gas their top priority. A demoralized staff has followed through, but many describe their jobs the way a cowboy talks about having to shoot his horse.

In Colorado, the bureau just gave the green light to industrial development on the aspen-forested high mountain paradise called the Roan Plateau. In typical fashion, the administration made a charade of listening to the public about what to do with the land. More than 75,000 people wrote them — 98 percent opposed to drilling.

For most of the Bush years, the Interior Department was nominally run by a Stepford secretary, Gale Norton, while industry insiders like J. Steven Griles — the former coal lobbyist who pled guilty this year to obstruction of justice — ran the department.

Same in the Forest Service, where an ex-timber industry insider, Mark Rey, guides administration policy.

They don’t take care of these lands because they see them as one thing: a cash-out. Thus, in Bush’s budget proposal this year, he guts the Forest Service budget yet again, while floating the idea of selling thousands of acres to the highest bidder. The administration says it wants more money for national parks. But the parks are $10 billion behind on needed repairs; the proposal is a pittance.

Where is all this money going? Into whose pockets??? Those public lands belong to us, you know, not to the Bushies.

Speaking of crooks, is Halliburton cooking its books?

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4 Comments

  1. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 23, 2007 @4:26 pm

    It’s all part of the same conservative idealogy. Private rights trump public ones. So, why shouldn’t companies be allowed to rape the public land’s? The public doesn’t really “own” those land’s.
    Only “The Landed” should own land, and have the rights that property gives them. Those without land should have diminished, or no, rights.
    Righties. They have undermined every level of infrastructure in this country. From the Constitution, to parks, to the roads and bridges. Things that once were part of a govenment’s responsibility, are now sold out for profit. With no oversight. Things like fixing roads and bridges. I do a lot of travelling in the Northeast. Take a look at the roads, bridges, railroad
    tracks and tunnels the next time you drive. How many potholes do you see? How much rust? It’s frightening.

    Huge profits are available to anyone unsrcupulous enough. And the line for those jobs is a long one.

    Who needs Public Park’s when you have gated communities?

  2. moonbat  •  Jun 23, 2007 @4:52 pm

    Some years ago I read Investment Biker by an uber capitalist named Jim Rogers. The book is about his (+his girlfriend’s) adventures around the world on motorcycles. At one point in the book he offers the cure for all of America’s financial woes, namely, sell off the National Parks. This is someone, who, in the same book, wrote beautifully about the wonders of sleeping under the stars in the Sahara desert.

    The righties’ need to dominate everything, their terrible twos way of seeing themselves as the utter enter of the universe, with even nature itself viewed as merely a utility for their own comfort, is breathtaking. We have to get these children away from the controls before they destroy everything.

  3. Bonnie  •  Jun 23, 2007 @7:23 pm

    I have an idea. Give the land back to the American Indians. We took better care of it in the first place.

  4. Chief  •  Jun 24, 2007 @8:30 am

    There are around 120 national forests, all the way from huge contiguous forests in Alaska (Tongass NF) to the smaller interspersed ownership of the eastern forests(Finger Lakes NF, White Mountain NF and Shawnee NF). The Forest Service is part of the U.S. Dept of agriculture, but their budget come through the Interior Dept’s budget.

    Although the Bush admin has wreaked havoc on the Forest Service’s (FS) budget, the FS is an organization that historically has been unable to do the ‘right’ thing. Environmental groups have won an overwhelming percent of cases when taking the FS to court. Before Bush took office, FS management was in a class of their own. Now the FS management has competition.

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