[Marxism] The Mad King Flies His Flag

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jan 19 12:54:42 MST 2018

NY Times Op-Ed, Jan. 18, 2018
The Mad King Flies His Flag
by Timothy Egan

The emperor of the outdoors rode into town on a horse named Tonto, and 
soon demanded that his own special flag fly outside his headquarters 
whenever he was in Washington. He believes fracking is proof that “God 
loves us” and, despite being from Montana, doesn’t know how to properly 
set up his fly line when fishing in front of the cameras.

“He had rigged his reel backward,” Elliott D. Woods wrote of Interior 
Secretary Ryan Zinke in a wonderful profile in Outside Magazine. “Seems 
like an inconsequential thing, but in Montana, it’s everything.”

As it turned out, it was quite consequential. When the magazine next 
tried to dial into an Interior conference call, it was denied access.

You may think that Stormy Daniels is in charge of the natural world 
under Donald Trump. And yes, the boorish behavior of the president and 
the porn star makes for better reading than an account of the quack 
running Interior.

But if someone were trashing your house, you’d want to pay attention. 
And Trump, using the very strange Mr. Zinke, is going after the sacred 
foundations of America’s much-loved public lands, brick by brick.

Zinke has been called the Gulfstream Cowboy for his love of using 
charter planes to fly off to the nesting grounds of wealthy donors. But 
he’s more like a mad king. And this monarch has control over the crown 
jewels of America’s public land. They are not in safe hands.

Last month, the secretary attacked Patagonia, the outdoor retailer, 
after it protested the largest rollback of public land protection in our 
history with a website home page of a black screen and stark message: 
“The President Stole Your Land.”

It is your land, all 400 million acres of it, though you wouldn’t know 
by the way the Trump administration has ceded control to the private 
predators from the oil, gas, coal and uranium industries.

It is also your water, the near entirety of the outer continental shelf 
that Trump is opening to extractive drilling. Almost a dozen states have 
protested. The waters off the coast of Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, were 
given an exemption after Zinke met with the governor who said drilling 
was bad for tourism. Your public servant at work.

Zinke is upending a century of bipartisan values as part of a Trumpian 
culture war. When asked why the president shrank national monuments in 
the Southwest by two million acres, Zinke said it was a way to strike 
back against “an elitist sort of hunter and fisherman.” Huh?

Could this be the same regular guy who took a helicopter to ride horses 
with Mike Pence? The cabinet member who wants to charge $70 to get into 
our most iconic national parks? The man whose nomination was championed 
by Donald Trump Jr., elephant killer and dictionary definition of elite 
hunter and fisherman?

Defenders of public land have pushed back. This week, a majority of the 
nonpartisan National Park Service advisory panel resigned in 
frustration. The board, federally chartered to help guide the service, 
said Zinke had refused to convene a single meeting with them last year. 
Silly bird-lovers. Don’t they know you need to charter a plane for Zinke 
if you want to get his attention?

A much less-connected group, the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, 
responded with an essay from a board member who lives in a 
500-square-food abode in the Rocky Mountains. “We hunt, gather, garden, 
can, smoke, dry, jelly and pickle as much of our own food as we can,” 
wrote Tom Healy. “According to Mr. Secretary, I am an elitist.”

The writer is from Whitefish, Zinke’s hometown in Montana. Where have 
you heard that before? Ah, yes, a tiny energy company from Whitefish 
with two employees — three if you count Zinke’s kid when he was an 
intern on a side project — finagled a $300 million, no-audit, no-bid 
contract to help rebuild Puerto Rico’s electric grid. Zinke said he had 
absolutely, positively nothing to do with it.

Look, it could have been worse: Sarah Palin was an early favorite for 
interior secretary. Zinke is an ex-Navy SEAL, and looks the part. Enough 
nutty things come out of his mouth to make him a perfect Trump guy. “The 
government stops at the mailbox,” he said at a rally last year, “and if 
you come any further, you’re going to meet my gun.” Note to Mr. 
Secretary: Don’t shoot the sheriff, or the census taker.

It took a bribery scandal to bring down an Interior secretary in the 
Teapot Dome affair of the 1920s. Today, the corruption is all upfront. 
Energy Secretary Rick Perry gives bear hugs to coal barons, while doing 
all he can to have the government prop up their industry. The 
Environmental Protection Agency is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the 
polluters it is supposed to regulate.

Over at Interior, they haven’t yet figured a way to charge Americans for 
the air we breathe. But the next time Zinke’s flag is up, something may 
be in the works.

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