Monday, September 1, 2014

Lonesome Rhodes rides again

Labor Day weekend has traditionally been a time to enjoy public lands, taking advantage of the three-day weekend to spend some time outdoors at the end of summer.  However, Ted Cruz has introduced a radical amendment to the Sportsman's Act of 2014 which would have the federal government divest in a significant portion of public land in the West, either passing the land directly off to the states or auctioning it off to the highest bidder in a public sale.

It doesn't matter that many states are already having a difficult time managing their state parks in the wake of the massive budget cuts pushed through by Republican state legislatures since 2010, or that sportsmen groups, for whom this bill was initially intended, want the land to remain a federal public domain.  Ted seems to think the federal government simply has too much land, making it difficult for poor ranchers like Cliven Bundy, who Cruz infamously supported in his standoff with the BLM earlier this year.

The federal government already offers very low leases.  Bundy just refused to pay for 20+ years, so it added up to a considerable sum in delinquent fees, interest and fines.  When the BLM seized his cattle after multiple court orders to pay, Bundy called in his Oathkeepers to get his cattle back.  Since then any number of persons have jumped on the bandwagon, and have become Bundy's Buddies, supporting this divestment in federal land, which Cruz put forward in his amendment, scuttling a bill that had passed the Senate by a vote of 82-12.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what's going on here.  A relative handful of Republicans want to free up more land for grazing, logging, oil, gas and mineral rights, undermining the Sportsmen's Act in the name of big business.  No doubt, the Koch Bros. and other syndicates are behind this initiative, who it seems these "maverick" Republicans answer to these days, while pretending to be representatives of the people.

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