The Clouds:Ominous Signs
By Jim Beers
April 10, 2007
Back when I lived in North Dakota, and then in Nebraska, I took for granted the big sky that, due to the rolling plains and paucity of trees, allowed you to see, seemingly forever, to the faraway horizon. So when - in that land of severe winds, tornadoes, and hail - a dark cloud peeked up over the Northern, Southern, or Western horizons; either you took notice, or placed yourself in potentially severe jeopardy by ignoring this sign. Today, our national political condition is placing a long line of ominous clouds on the world horizon.
The last two Presidential elections displayed a deep and bitter division in the country. While it is characterized as a "Party" split, I have (ever since that first, revealing red/blue voting map) seen this as an urban/rural split. It is true, however, that in every state with a large urban enclave, the urban enclaves are almost always administered by a Democratic Party "machine," and the rural areas are most often administered by Republican politicians.
Although I write about environmental and animal rights issues, and tend to view the politics of this divide through this prism, this urban/rural divide accounts for far more than the seemingly narrow issues of my concern.
Gun control, racial classifications, union agendas, abortion, same-sex unions, education, defense, and foreign policy issues (to name a few) have increasingly reflected a level of animosity and disagreement that appears intractable to these groups of American citizens. Perhaps the largest of these clouds on the horizon, at the moment, is the foreign policy/national defense situation.
There is no debate about the fact that there are thousands of Muslims (call them fundamentalists, extremists, suicide bombers, Taliban, Al Qaeda, Iranians, Syrians, Hezbollah, Brotherhood, unemployed Europeans, or what you will) who want to kill Americans and destroy America as we know it. The question before us is do we defeat them, or do we contain them, or do we appease them by seeking to identify and assuage any root cause of their dislike for us. This debate has taken some very ominous turns of late.
When the Speaker of the House blunders around in foreign countries, pandering as has just occurred, the result is not (as the pundits would have it) "the message that the government does not speak with a single voice in foreign affairs." The message is the same one that the initial U.S. response to the Iranian hostage crisis was 30 years ago - "the 'West' and the U.S. are 'weak' and can be conquered." That may not be what we thought at the time, but one need look no farther that the advent of all manner of "radical" Muslim reactions from Al Qaeda to Libya, to Iraq and its giant cannon escapade to understand what many Middle East radical factions came to believe.
Coinciding with this signal of wishful appeasement is the reinforcement of this "the West (or non-Muslim) is a civilization decaying from within and therefore, ripe for the picking" radical perception engendered by the recent seizure of British sailors and marines by Iran. The entire scenario, from the dressing of the female sailor and the instant public statements of guilt while eating and enjoying themselves as "guests" of magnanimous Iranian captors, to the happy return in Iranian clothes and gifts of candy et. al., from the kindly Iranian government (the one building a nuclear bomb capacity and stating publicly that it will destroy Israel) has only one effect worth noting. Regardless of what our ally does or says about their fighting persons behavior, or what the explanation of why the nearby British vessel failed to stop the seizure, or how much Europeans, and many Americans, hail such peaceful negotiation: the radicals whot would kill us, and destroy this great nation are all smiling - as they imagine this to be the "Western" fighting person between them and ultimate victory.
Why do I mention this? It is not to vilify politicians or to castigate an ally; it is not even to mention the degeneration of European resolve in the face of this threat aimed at destroying "Western" civilization. I mention this because the situation is only going to get worse. Our enemies are emboldened beyond belief by these developments. Where it is leading is certainly an intensification of the confrontation, with an increase in the severity and number of attacks. Where that leads is unclear, today.
So what does the opinion of some old, retired wildlife biologist mean in an area so far from his field? Consider the following observations.
When we similarly confronted communism in Vietnam, and then disengaged, the social eruptions were notable, and the resulting implications are with us today. The deep divisions attending the disengagement were papered over in large measure by a national political conversion to environmental and animal rights theology. The Endangered Species Act (ESA); The Animal Welfare Act; The Marine Mammal Protection Act; The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); The Wilderness Act; Coastal Zone Management Act; Clean Air Act; Clean Water Restoration Act; Federal Noxious Weed Act; Fishery Conservation and Management Act; and the notorious U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, that formed the anti-U.S. Constitutional bedrock of the ESA were all passed or signed off on by the U.S. government during the period of social unrest and turbulence that accompanied the Vietnam period of the late 1960s to mid-1970s.
Why is this relevant? Because we are entering and, evidently, bound to repeat a period of internal conflict that will (if our opponents aren't successful) lead us into another period where POLITICIANS WILL BE FORCED TO MAKE TOUGH DECISIONS - and will once again be looking for a WAY TO HANG ONTO POWER AND/OR INCREASE THEIR POWER. Republican or Democrat, urban or rural, makes no difference. Like those politicians of 35 years ago, what better way of building support and staying in power than protecting Flipper; or saving species; or setting aside Wilderness (or Roadless, Critical, Corridor, or Native) Areas; or purifying Ecosystems (i.e., Invasive jihads, Non-Native purges); or eliminating logging, ranching, hunting, trapping, cockfighting, or animal ownership; etc.? The only difference is that they now have all these bad laws and treaties in place.
Look at the way they have grown government power and budgets and bureaucracies. Look at how they have perverted universities, science, and state agencies like fish and wildlife agencies. Look at how they have reduced the area and traditions of rural life. Look at how they have perverted the Constitution (taking WITHOUT compensation, states' rights, public land management, etc.). Look at how they have spawned a powerful federal bureaucracy, that would be the envy of Cardinal Richelieu and King Louis of France.
We were too lazy and self-centered: "I don't hunt"; "I think 'they' should outlaw cock fights"; "I don't think 'they' should be 'allowed' to : hunt, trap, wear fur, log, graze, fish, manage wildlife, mine, drill, explore, etc., etc. - either on their own property or 'public' land"; "I don't own a gun, nor should anyone else"; "We should get rid of the Electoral College and states' rights so that the federal government can fulfill all our own fantasies of the way others should live"; "Private property is an outmoded concept"; etc.
Those laws and those harmful precedents are just lying there for the next generation of "do-good" federal politicians and their allies. That is not to say that they won't pass new ones (Puppy Protection, Heritage Ecosystems, Animal Parliament Act, Sacred Native Plant Act, etc.) but continually expanding the ones in existence (Listing the Northern Jumping Mouse Wind River Hairy Flea Distinct Population Segment in NE Sublette County or getting a Supreme Court penumbra or emanation that mammals are eligible for U.S. citizenship, etc.) may prove to be sufficient.
So, prepare to get all gushy when your politician (like Nixon before them, or Congressman Moran today) tells you that they just sponsored some absurd bill that harms others, but makes you feel good.
We have let these laws increase in scope and stink, for 35 years now, and soon, enough they will be called upon again to serve their purpose. That purpose never was what they were purported to do. All of those ecological and animal Armageddons could have been handled better with strong state governments and citizen involvement. Instead, they have been mere steroids for federal and state bureaucrats and politicians. What should have been amended or repealed based on the facts, have been allowed to ferment and smolder like a putrid concoction. We will have no one to blame but ourselves, when these discredited concepts and mandates arise, Phoenix-like, to greater heights as this national duel plays itself out, and they once again are used to convince us of our politicians' sensitivity and our bureaucrats' concern.
When asked today, "Did you notice those clouds over there on the horizon" it may already be too late. The duration and severity of a storm is more often than not a speculative guess. Hail? Tornado? Wind? Heavy Rain? Temperature Drop? All of the above? Who knows? But given what we know about conditions existing at this time; this may be a pretty bad storm coming.
This article and other recent articles by Jim Beers can be found at Jim Beers Common Sense
Jim Beers is available for consulting or to speak.
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