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Jeepers, Teapers!

I know that some of you will take offense at my taking the Republicans to task. Please feel free to be affronted. The Republican Party is working around the clock to scrap several decades of environmental protections, and I find it egregiously offensive that people who enjoy the outdoors, those whose recreational interests are dependent on a healthy environment, are willing to blithely watch the from the sidelines.

Every reform movement has a lunatic fringeTheodore Roosevelt

TLEsmall President Obama proposes to double fuel economy standards by 2025. If he succeeds, American autos will average almost 60 miles to the gallon. The president’s proposal is the largest increase in mileage requirements since the government began regulating consumption of gasoline by cars in the 1970s. The auto industry backs him.

See how easy that is? Park the partisanship, and propose what is best for the country. I cannot conceive of a single argument against higher fuel efficiency in American cars. But let’s see what happens in Congress. I have no doubt that House Republicans will still bare the knives and eviscerate the new standard. For Tea Party Republicans, the Teapers, no good deed goes unpunished.

[Surprise, surprise. The Republicans proved me prescient even before the publication of this article. According to the Huffington Post, "Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has launched an investigation into whether the Obama administration violated administrative law by holding closed-door meetings with the auto industry in the months before a recent announcement of new limits mandating increased fuel efficiency for American cars and trucks." 

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (a Michigan Republican) said "we need a balanced approach to fuel economy regulation with reasonable and achievable targets that will reduce our consumption of oil and greenhouse gas emissions while preserving U.S. jobs and promoting U.S. manufacturing…we do not believe the Administration’s current proposal will achieve that balanced approach and believe instead it could have a detrimental effect on the U.S. economy."

Both men are toeing the Republican line. The Party believes that any environmental protection must be "balanced" by short-term economic concerns. The fallacy of this approach is long-term environmental concerns eventually become short-term crises. What could have been solved relatively cheaply becomes oppressively expensive to resolve. There is nothing "conservative" about procrastination.

Upton has another link to this story. He originally authored the Energy Independence and Security Act, the legislation that proposed to regulate light bulbs. Upton then did a 180 and joined conservatives in killing his own bill.] 

Consider the Teaper opposition to energy efficient homes, such as those using energy efficient light bulbs. Joe Barton is a Teaper Republican from my home state, Texas. Joe doesn’t like the government meddling in household affairs. Joe says “we don’t think the federal government should tell people what kind of lighting to use in their homes” and therefore opposes any attempt by the government to regulate energy efficiency. Interestingly, Joe has no qualms about defining what a household can or cannot be when it comes to the people who live within. He supports a constitutional amendment to define marriage as only between one man and one woman living together, no doubt with their stash of incandescent light bulbs.

Joe and his fellow Republicans do not like environmentalists. Senator Orrin Hatch recently commented that “our nation must not allow and cannot afford to let [environmental] extremists hijack our laws and hold the American people hostage to their radical views.” Radical? Extreme?

Let’s look at extremism in its most classical form, the Teapers themselves. This Republican Congress has been called the most aggressively anti-environment in American history, for good reason. It is. For you doubters, the following articles offer an excellent primer about where the Teapers would lead our country.

1. Anti-Environment Votes in the 112th Congress

2. Republicans Attack Obama's Environmental Protection

3. Republicans Seek Big Cuts in Environmental Rules

4. The GOP's Environmental Hit List is Horrifying

5. 40 Million Hunters and Anglers Fed Up with GOP's Anti-Environment Agenda

6. Keith Olberman's TV Rant

Some of you, I suspect, will be offended by my taking the Republicans to task. Please feel free to be affronted. The Republican Party is working around the clock to scrap several decades of environmental protections, and I find it egregiously offensive that people who enjoy the outdoors, those whose recreational interests are dependent on a healthy environment, are willing to blithely watch the big game from the sidelines.

More of you will wonder what this topic has to do with birding. Thanks for asking. In deference to the American Birding Association (ABA) I am limiting this discussion to the partisanship that affects birds and their habitats. After all, the ABA only recently decided that conservation is an acceptable topic for the organization. The ABA is little more than a bit player in this farce.

H.R. 2584 is an environmental spending bill that will fund the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Department of Interior (Interior) for Fiscal Year 2012. Congress will be considering this bill in the next week or two. According to Steve Holmer with the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), H.R. 2584 “is one of the worst assaults on birds and other wildlife ever to come before Congress because the bill is loaded with draconian funding cuts amounting to $2 billion and anti-environmental provisions that will wreak havoc on our land, water, air, and wildlife aimed at preventing EPA and Interior from moving forward with environmental rules and regulations.”

Here are a few of the programs being targeted by Republicans (thanks to Steve for these summaries).

•The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act: funding for this program is crucial because it is the only federal U.S. grants program specifically dedicated to the conservation of our migratory birds throughout the Americas.

•The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NWCA): provides funding for conservation projects that benefit wetland birds, has been reduced by over 40%. NACWA has leveraged over $2 billion in matching funds affecting 20 million acres through the work of more than 4,000 partners and has fostered public and private sector cooperation for migratory bird conservation, flood control, erosion control, and water quality. Every dollar of federal money invested in the program is matched by an average of 3.2 dollars from non-federal entities.

•State Wildlife Grants: is the nation’s core program for preventing birds and wildlife from becoming endangered in addition to supporting strategic conservation investments in every state and territory has been reduced by over 64%. The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program was created to assist states with their voluntary efforts to protect the more than 12,000 at-risk wildlife species around the United States from becoming endangered. The program leverages more than $100 million per year in state, tribal, local, and private dollars that directly support jobs in virtually all states. Slashing funding for this program also undermines the federal government’s ten year investment in State Wildlife Action Plans. LPC

•Rep. Neugebauer (R-TX) seeks to prohibit protection of the lesser prairie-chicken under the Endangered Species Act.

•There is also an amendment offered by Representative Calvert (R-CA), which blocks measures to protect imperiled species from harmful pesticides. If adopted, it would prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from implementing any measures recommended by federal wildlife experts to protect endangered species from pesticides.

Sadly, this river rages on. I am convinced that there is no environmental or conservation program in the nation that will not attract the ire and opposition of some Republicans. I would like to believe that birds and birding would escape their vitriol, but I have seen no evidence that our interests have been given safe passage. We are in the cross hairs.

Why are these environmental and conservation issues so partisan? Shouldn’t the earth’s well-being trump partisan politics? Let’s consider a few factors that contribute to the conflict.

This about the budget, right? Not really. We are spending more on two ill-considered wars than we have invested in environmental protections since our founding. A new study by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies found the cost of these wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) to be shockingly higher than the $1 trillion President Obama regularly quotes. When taking into account the long-term costs of caring for veterans, interest payments on deficit spending and other factors, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan could cost as much as $4.4 trillion, according to the report. Compared to the cost of war, the cost of environmental protection is chump change.

What about jobs? Don't environmental regulations force employers to cut back on personnel? Aren't environmental protection expenses onerous for big business? For the most part the answer, again, is no. According to a study by Resources for the Future, “our results enable us to reject claims that environmental spending imposes large hidden costs on manufacturing plants. In fact, our best estimate indicates a modest though statistically insignificant overstatement of regulatory costs.”

If not about deficits, jobs, war, or big business, why all the fuss? Why would Republicans insist on targeting virtually every environmental and conservation law in the books? Is the party just loopy?

The Republican’s anti-environment stance, I fear, is all about political gamesmanship and has little to do with the challenges facing us. Anti-environmentalism is now an integral part of (and a plank in) the Republican manifesto, principles governed not by reality but by affectation. Political principles, like religious principles, are tests of faith. Republicans choose the dark side in environmental debates because to do otherwise is heresy. Environmental issues have joined no new taxes, no family planning, no illegal immigration, and no social safety net as irreducible (and nonnegotiable) planks in the Republican platform.

How more blatantly anti-environment do Republicans need to be before birders act to protect themselves and their interests? Think about birds metaphorically, not literally. In this argument birds serve as surrogates for the natural world, and birders as stand-ins for conservationists. No matter how dire the situation, I see no uprising, no eruption. Perhaps the economy has everyone’s attention, and there is no room left for issues such as birds and birding. Maybe the economy and the wars have sucked the oxygen out of the room. Perhaps birders simply lack the courage to act. If you are wondering how this impacts you, here is an article about the 100 state parks facing closure. If you are shocked now, just wait until you get the list of federal closures and cut-backs. 

One can travel a safe route to conservation. Send a check to the Nature Conservancy, National Audubon Society, or ABC once a year and discharge your duty. Your mind is at rest; your duty is done. Let others fight on the front.

But what if the land conservancy approach isn’t enough? As I have noted countless times over the past two decades, you cannot buy enough habitat to insure the protection of biodiversity on this planet. Only by engaging the public and nurturing a culture of conservation will we be able to affect the policy changes that are required to truly protect life on earth.

Need proof? I refer you to a recent paper in the Marine Ecology Progress Series. The paper is titled Ongoing global biodiversity loss and the need to move beyond protected areas: a review of the technical and practical shortcomings of protected areas on land and sea. Authors Mora and Sale state “the current pace of the establishment of new, protected areas will not be able to overcome current trends of loss of marine and terrestrial biodiversity.” They note that “the only successful approach [to successfully establishing Protected Areas] requires that local communities understand and embrace the proposed PA program — this requires education to build social and political support and ‘local participation’ in the design and management of PAs." 

Piping Plover webWith Mora and Safe in mind, let's look at one of the high profile bird conservation programs – Teaming With Wildlife (Teaming). To what degree has it succeeded? To what extent has it built social and political support?

According to the Teaming website, “millions of American birdwatchers, hikers, anglers, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts want at-risk fish and wildlife conserved in their states before they become rare and more costly to protect.” The Teaming partnership claims “the Teaming With Wildlife Act has the support of more than 5,900 organizations and businesses which represent millions of birdwatchers, hikers, anglers, hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts across the country.”

Yet this broadly supported initiative has struggled for over two decades to secure the funding necessary to effectively address the decline in nongame bird species (more than 95% of fish and wildlife held in public trust by the states are not hunted nor fished).

According to a Teaming fact page, “In 1980, Congress passed the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, encouraging states to develop conservation plans for nongame fish and wildlife. However, the Act was not funded and many states lacked the resources to do the planning alone.”

“In 2001, Congress created the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program and the State Wildlife Grants program, which, for the first time, provided funding to state fish and wildlife agencies for the management of nongame species. The funding was distributed to states with the condition that each state develop a Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (State Wildlife Action Plan). States have received an average of $1 million per state per year to manage thousands of nongame species.”

That last sentence in the fact sheet is misleading. In truth, states have received funding to develop their action plans, and are only now preparing to begin implementation. With the new proposed federal budget (i.e., gutted), states will have shiny new plans and little funding for on-the-ground conservation. The proposed federal budget reduces the State Wildlife Grant program by two-thirds.

Other than the staffs of the nearly 6000 organizations supporting Teaming, few others Americans will know. Even fewer Americans will care. In truth, 6000 organizations do not translate into meaningful political clout. Here is an example. During these recent budget debates former senator Alan Simpson, never one to mince words, tossed a bras d'honneur at AARP. Remember, AARP has over 35 million members, eclipsing environmental organizational membership by an order of magnitude. Simpson reportedly said that AARP is “38 million people bound together by love of airline discounts." In other words, being a member does not make you an actor.

The point I am making is that the number of organizations behind an initiative or cause does not directly translate into the number of people that can be politically roused. To be fair, few members of the general public were asked to care about bird conservation. Review the Teaming five-year state wildlife grant report. Most of what you see will be research, planning, and conservation projects. Little mention is made of recreation and education, although they too are expressed goals of the program. Virtually nothing has been accomplished to build social and political support. Now we desperately need the public to stave off these budgetary attacks, yet the public has no sense of the crisis or why it should give a damn in the first place.

From the beginning the group has been warned (I spoke at the first congressional hearing about Teaming) that public engagement must be a primary component of any bird conservation initiative. My pleas have gone, from the beginning, unrecognized (in truth, were excoriated). In fact, the initial state wildlife grants, if I recall correctly, specifically excluded recreation and education from funding (I believe at the demand of Defenders of Wildlife). To this day groups that oppose hunting are precluded from receiving a grant (thank you, IAFWA).

Partners in Flight (PIF) received the same warning and responded with similar ennui. I cannot count the number of times this topic has been discussed at PIF conferences and meetings (Cape May, Asilomar, McAllen, for example). Now, when public support is crucial, there is no public to be found. We could have spent the past twenty years nurturing this culture of conservation, but instead we spent the time and money on everything but engagement. Shame on Teaming; shame on PIF.

None of these mistakes are uncorrectable, and none of the people making these mistakes are beyond salvation. Their decisions were foolish; the people involved, however, are not fools. The mistakes were errors of omission, not commission. The people I know from Teaming, PIF, and similar bird conservation efforts are almost exclusively biologists, and they instinctively follow their proclivities. They hold conferences, publish research papers, give each other awards, and, in the end, get screwed to the wall by those who do understand the value of public sentiment. 

We need to acknowledge the impact of these errors, and the degree to which these failings in our bird conservation strategies have left birds and their habitats assailable. With a mea culpa behind us, we can focus on engaging the general public in our cause. Yet, at this moment, I have yet to hear a single word of recognition or confession. For absolution, there first must be an admission of sin. 

Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed…Abraham Lincoln

Engagement, communications, marketing, education, and interpretation, those factors that comprise the human dimension, are where the dollars and hours should now be spent. By education I mean far more than a Louvian last child in the woods. To be blunt, we cannot wait for fourth graders to pull our rear ends from the fire. We need public support and involvement now.

Public sentiment, I am sad to say, is not with us. I suspect that most Americans are oblivious to our concerns, and unaware of the implications of the budget being considered. They are disengaged from us because we were disengaged from them. They don't care about us because we have never cared about them.

The Teapers aren't to blame for the jam we're in. Teapers have always existed in one malicious form or the other. I do, however, blame us for stupidly ignoring what should have been obvious. 

Snail Kite Bird conservation is fundamentally about politics, and politics is fundamentally about body count. Yet birding is cursed by being a closed community, a clique where members are more interested in impressing each other than in explaining the wonders of birds to the world outside. How else can you explain big years, big days, life lists, tics, twitches, the minute differences between the Empidonax flycatchers, and the like?

Poets such as Neruda have tried to engage the public. Artists such as Fuertes and Sutton have tried as well. Authors such as Jonathan Franzen and J.D. Salinger have tried. But most hard-core birders, those who pursue birds as aggressively as collectors once chased Cabbage Patch dolls, appear to care little about the unwashed masses. The crowds are little more than traffic congestion to bypass before reaching the next lifer.

If there were enough members in the birding clique to swing an election, the myopia would be forgivable. I would feel secure. But to protect birds and birding from these recent Teaper assaults, birders and birding will have no choice but to engage the public. I have seen little evidence of a willingness to do this in the past. I see little reason to be confident of a change in the future.

Freeman Tilden, in Interpreting Our Heritage, quotes a National Park Service directive in 1953 to the agency's field offices:

Protection through appreciation, appreciation through understanding, and understanding through interpretation…National Park Service

The public lacks understanding because the environmental and conservation communities have devoted time and funds to protection and have ignored the need for interpretation and engagement. Tilden would not have disagreed with the need to protect. In fact, in his later years he wrote "it has always been my philosophy to protect first and to interpret second." But I would argue that the "protect first" age is over; we will never win this battle with a fusillade of fact, or by nuking them with knowledge.

Tilden said that interpretation is revelation based on knowledge. The intent of interpretation is to provoke, not merely to inform. If we are to have any hope of halting the Teapers, we will have to provoke the public, as well as ourselves, into action. And that, my friends, is the role of interpretation.

The President Surrenders by  Paul Krugman

Debt Ceiling Deal: Staving off Disaster With Disaster by Peter Goodman

The Goons of August by Robert Kuttner

America the Sclerotic by Michael Spence

I am writing this article with the stench of the budget deal still hanging in the air. I cannot say that the smell is altogether displeasing, but I expected more from this President and the Democrats. I fear that between now and the finalizing of a budget even more of our programs will be carved up. The environment is easy meat.

Robert Kuttner writes (see the link above) that "progressives need to build a mass movement of their own. The pocketbook frustrations that animated the Tea Party will not be remedied by the Republican program. There needs to be a left alternative. And the Democratic Party base needs to make it clear that Obama cannot take their support for granted, and that deals such as this one will lead activists to work to elect House and Senate progressives." 

Kuttner is admittedly writing about the progressive movement, but I will argue that his suggestions are appropriate for conservationists as well. Conservation, to be influential, to be meaningful, must be dynamic, even edgy. The opposition never rests, so how can we? Conservation (particularly bird conservation) has become calcified, loathe to adapt and fearful of risk. Bird conservationists have been lulled into a false sense of security, sure that as long as they are careful about their nonprofit status and stick to the tried-and-true all will be well. Lead a monthly field trip, show your latest birding trip slides at the membership meeting, run a couple of Breeding Bird Surveys, shove the results into eBird, gather a few birding friends and participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count; all of this has worked in the past, so why not now?

 

Whooping cranes, Aransas NWR, 28 Dec 2010 (500)

 

It's better to burn out than it is to rust…Neil Young 

We only have a brief interlude, maybe a few months, to attract the public to our cause. Public pressure just might influence the "super congress," the chosen 12 who will make the decisions about who and what to cut. This morning, halfway through my first cup of the day, I remind myself that we will only find out if we try. Currently there are rusted hulks blocking the highway that once were fire-breathing, nitro-sucking environmental groups. Let's push them aside and see if we can't once again get up to speed.

 

 

 

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Ted Lee Eubanks

Ted Lee Eubanks

Ted Lee Eubanks is president and CEO of Fermata Inc. an Austin-based global leader is sustainable tourism and outdoor recreation. Eubanks and Fermata were responsible for developing the first birding trails, in Texas, in the early 1990s. He has served on the national boards of Audubon and the CLO, and received the first ABA Chan Robbins Award in 2000. Eubanks writes extensively about birds, conservation, and sustainability, and has coauthored two books about birds (The Birdlife of Houston, Galveston, and the Upper Texas Coast, and Finding Birds on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail). To continue his work connecting people to places, birders to birds, Eubanks has formed a new company, Great American Trails, which is using new technologies to attract new constituents to the outdoors.
Ted Lee Eubanks

Latest posts by Ted Lee Eubanks (see all)

  • One of the best pieces yet, fine work Mr. Eubanks!!!!

  • Chuck Carlson

    BRAVO, OLE, WELL DONE and hopefully enough to spur people to action.

    Chuck Carlson

  • Rob

    Ted, when one party is willing to destroy almost anything and everything to maintain their position, how are we supposed to engage with them to get what we want? It is fair to bemoan the situation, but how do we really get what we want?

  • Ann Nightingale

    Wow, there are a lot of great points in here, Ted, and some interesting challenges. Living in western Canada, we’re not dealing with Republicans and Democrats directly, but decisions made in the US definitely affect us, too. That border isn’t respected by wildlife or habitats!

    I honestly don’t see the problem as a partisan issue. I agree that the Republicans and Teapers have been more up front with their scary plans, but I think the issue is much broader. There are individuals within all parties who support conservation and individuals who don’t know the meaning of the word—for birds or otherwise.

    Do you think we can get the “public” to rally quickly and strongly enough? In tough economic times, conservation seems to be a low priority for the majority of people, parties aside. So what to do? It’s not like we can easily go back and fix things after we scorch the earth. In my humble opinion, we need to work with and infiltrate those committees, panels and boards who are actually making the decisions. I was heartened by the line in Leslie Kaufman’s article that said “In fact, one measure — to forbid the Fish and Wildlife Service to list any new plants or animals as endangered — was so extreme that 37 Republicans broke ranks Wednesday and voted to strip it from the bill.” If the ABA and all other conservation groups have not been in contact with those 37, they need to get on it! They are the ones who can persuade their colleagues to take steps in the right direction while we’re trying to educate the public to insist that they do so.

    At the grassroots level, there are environmental “missionaries” out there. I recently learned of a book by Roger Gottlieb called A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and Our Planet’s Future. It’s not new; it’s been out since 2006. Although I haven’t read the book, I’ve read the reviews and think that this could be a “must share” for environmentally concerned theists. La Rocha is a Christian conservation organization which is well placed to enlighten their masses (pun intended)! Can we work together?

    I applaud those individuals who are leading monthly field trips, giving presentations, making their donations writing blogs or doing anything that promotes conservation. At least they are doing something. We’re not all ready to be political activists, but these are the folks who will be the public support behind those who are. For those in the middle—not up for being activists, but who want to do something, here are some suggestions:

      Share your knowledge with the non-birding public (I know many of you do this already). Give your presentations to school groups, seniors’ homes, garden clubs and community groups. They love them!

      Talk to strangers when you are out birding. Most people don’t even see the birds until you point them out!

      Use social networking (online and in person) to keep the issues in front of your friends—birding and non-birding. You probably influence more non-birders than you think.

      Keep supporting conservation organizations. The environmental leaders of the future are learning and growing in these organizations.

      If you are up to it, commit to a few years on a committee or panel. Your political party, your local community–something other than a conservation organization. We need conservationists working from the inside of all organizations, not just rallying from the outside.

      Do it now! As Ted’s article suggests, time is of the essence. The sooner we get an environmental mindset going, the better!

      Don’t give up. We’re the only chance the future has!

  • Good stuff, Ted.

    As you say,

    “Bird conservation is fundamentally about politics, and politics is fundamentally about body count. Yet birding is cursed by being a closed community, a clique where members are more interested in impressing each other than in explaining the wonders of birds to the world outside. … [M]ost hard-core birders, those who pursue birds as aggressively as collectors once chased Cabbage Patch dolls, appear to care little about the unwashed masses. The crowds are little more than traffic congestion to bypass before reaching the next lifer.”

    I agree. For decades, I’ve been struck by how hunters and birders–despite being similar in so many ways–differ so starkly with regard to their conception of heritage. For hunters, hunting is a way of life, it’s heritage; it’s important enough to fight for. For birders, birding is an amusement, a recreation; we birders rarely “go to the trenches” for the cause of birding.

    Why is that? Or maybe I should first ask this question: Do you agree with me? And, if so, what would it take for us to reconceive birding as heritage, as opposed to mere hobby?

  • I have no problem with vehicles getting better fuel economy—I’d love to save some money at the pump. But the simple fact is that it’s not the government’s business to make that sort of proclamation. Fuel economy does not cause better emission standards, after all. A car that gets better gas mileage will still have the same size gasoline tank, and all that will eventually still be burned. I cringe every time I see one of those Hummers or Excursions tanking down the road, but I have to admit that the loud jerk in his non-military tank has just as much a right to his car as I do to mine, and my preferred passion for birding does not and should not abrogate this freedom.

    At any rate, that’s an interesting discussion to have, but unfortunately Mr. Eubanks immediately goes into the partisan war waging he spends so much time arguing against. His second paragraph sets the tone for the rest of his article, and makes its seem like such a black and white issue: All Republicans/Tea Party People hate the environment (for reasons unknown/unspecified…they’re just evil I guess) and want to level forests so they can build their fat cat corporate high-rises. What can we, the virtuous and enlightened birdwatchers, do to stop them? Humility is a virtue.

    Isn’t it totally appropriate that congressional representatives inquired about closed-door meetings? Whenever big business and government get together, there’s usually some clandestine dealing and lobbying. The auto industry wouldn’t be proponents for Obama’s plan (and I’m not sure they all are; who has the controlling share in General Motors right now?) if there wasn’t a pay-off. Remember, they’re greedy greasy corporate types. It’s also a fair worry that demanding too much too soon about emission standards—especially when auto sales are down—would have the same effect of that disastrous No Child Left Behind policy, and just put more legal impediments in front of an already tricky and sensitive issue.

    God forbid that elected officials who didn’t run on an environmentalist platform are actually more concerned with other projects than environmental protection. I mean, you may consider it a shame that boosting the EPA is low on many Republican to-do lists, but that doesn’t make them evil or wrong on the face of it, just in disagreement. And, be fair, right now which should be more of a concern between the economy and the environment?

    Despite our love of birding and ornithology, we can’t make birding concerns turn us into single-issue voters or firebrands. Such an approach is alienating to otherwise sympathetic ears, and is pretty untenable in a country and political system that has other, admittedly more pressing concerns.

    This is all to say nothing of the substantial arguments against government regulation on environmental issues, or to explore the options of large-scale privatization of natural refuges (wouldn’t that be a good project for the ABA!!), because that’s a larger discussion that’ll have to be hosted elsewhere.

    Mr. Eubanks’ predictable jab at a Republican for not wanting to regulate light bulbs, which are in fact small items whose use and effects do not extend beyond the individual household, by pointing out he is against gay marriage is itself pretty fallacious. Between light bulbs and homosexual marriage, which issue extends outside of the home? Light bulbs do not, as the afore-mentioned Republican pointed out, but gay marriage is an issue which has its very essence in government recognition, and the government extends beyond households, states, and even countries. It’s a totally inappropriate and unprofessional comparison for Mr. Eubanks to make, and I’m disappointed he tried it.

    Mr. Eubanks derides another Republican for warning against environmental extremists, and then Mr. Eubanks proceeds to show how it’s the “Teapers” who are extreme. Well, that’s fine. They may be. But it’s still also ok to advise against environmental extremism, and for the same reason Mr. Eubanks is wary of Teaper extremism, the Teapers can be wary of him. Again, there’s nothing inherently or unequally evil about this; it’s just differences of opinion, and everyone here then seems to be in agreement that extremism is to be avoided. Opinions concerning what is or is not extreme may differ, but the positions against it do not. To use Mr. Eubank’s earlier comparison, maybe the Teapers think homosexual marriage is radical? Since the cultural tradition in America is backing them on that one, they might have more of a case than Mr. Eubanks arguing they’re extreme, but none of that is really the issue. It’s not the extremity of positions or parties, it’s the viability and benefit of their arguments/applications.

    Did you forget, Mr. Eubanks, that it was that most egregious and conniving of Republicans, Richard Nixon, who signed the EPA into effect? I enjoy the outdoors a lot. I also enjoy low taxes and not being forced to buy health insurance, and I understand that, even if I want the national parks to stay (and, by the way, they’re not going anywhere), I can’t insist that my valuing of national parks is more important or worthy than some other jerk’s valuing of cheap gas from Alaska or looking for work as a miner in Colorado.

    I understand the worry about environmental protection, especially with congress looking to cut spending, but why are we assuming that if EPA funding gets cut, all of America’s parks and preserves will die, and the wildlife with disappear? Additionally, how drastically will that really affect us birders? I don’t think one could say right now. It could be very bad, or it could be unnoticeable. For example, if I live in Iowa and do most of my birding there, the species I see around the fields and lakes are not going to be affected much at all by cuts in the EPA. Similarly, A coastal birder will still have his ocean while the Florida birder will still have his tropics, not to mention the Everglades. Let’s give Nature a little credit here. It’s tougher than we think, and it’s a common contemporary hubris that assumes we affect nature as greatly and unconsciously as we like to think. Unchecked Deforestation is one thing, but worries over park upkeep are not in the same league.

    And ya know, even if the Lesser Prairie Chicken slips through the cracks (and I sincerely hope it doesn’t) and goes extinct, we’ve still got the Greater Prairie Chicken. And ya know, I don’t think we can so easily say that the people trying to develop land in the small range of the Lesser Chicken shouldn’t be able to just because I sure like to look at it with binoculars once in my life, and also know it’s there as I fall asleep at night. Is that small beauty worth the opportunity cost to these other non-birders?

    It’s like when you watch Shark Week on Discovery Channel. You see all this neat footage of sharks doing shark things, and the shows explain how they’re wonders of form and function, but that man is still their greatest and worst threat, and they’re just misunderstood, etc. At the end of the day though, if Bull Sharks were hunted to extinction, I wouldn’t care at all. I might even be happy. Even if they don’t kill that many humans every year, their modest contribution to biodiversity does not outweigh the human costs. Of course, Lesser Prairie Chickens don’t kill people, but if they went extinct, it shouldn’t set off alarm bells. Some species are more successful than others, and we shouldn’t feel obligated to protect all species unilaterally and uncritically.

    On a side note, I totally agree that, while we’re cutting spending, we should first start with the Middle East expenditures, and I would add foreign aid in general, until there’s more oversight there involved. I should add though, at President Obama doesn’t seem to inclined to end those wars either, and he also is spending money in the Libyan conflict, so clearly that’s not just Republican partisan war mongering. Additionally, Teddy Roosevelt preserved parks like no other, and he was one war mongering son of a gun! Again, I don’t think we should spend another dime or shed another drop of blood in the Middle East, but it’s not like position son war and profligate foreign spending is at all correlated to environmental protection or political alliance. After all, Democratic presidents headed most of the American wars of the 20th century.

    I don’t think Mr. Eubanks gave the employment factor enough of a hearing, but if he wants to leave that for another time it’s fine. He should have addressed though not only jobs, but also developmental prohibitions that come with environmental regulations. After all, government protected parks account for over 27% of the American landmass. That’s a lot!!!

    I’m not in a position to comment on the Teaming discussion Mr. Eubanks produces, although I was glad to learn about it, but as I said earlier, let’s not get too worked up and self-righteous, not yet. I just don’t believe the Teapers are as malicious as you say. They may disagree with you, and want to spend their tax dollars on other things (or, dare I say it, just save the money), but that is a disagreement, not malice.

    Mr. Eubanks looks on these grass-roots types with derision and disrespect, but aren’t these Teapers the sort of people we should be convincing instead of labeling and disregarding? Which crowds are we aiming for here? Where is that untapped, untouched cache of birders and conservationists in the making? Until we find it, I can’t encourage Mr. Eubank’s polarizing and excoriating rhetoric. The kind of preaching Mr. Eubanks is doing can only appeal to the choir, and as he mentioned, this choir is not very large, and it is not very loud.

    P.S. Posting a link to Paul Krugman makes it hard to take the rest of the article seriously. It’s just one of those things.

  • –About the Prairie Chicken comment, I was not implying that the only value and goodness of the bird is the joy it gives a birder to look at it. But if you’re arguing with the developer who is coveting the Chicken’s territory, and he is thinking in economic and utilitarian ways, it’s pretty difficult to impress the importance of higher forms of Beauty and the dignity of Existence to a person who sees only an insignificant bird, but nonetheless has the same right and claim in the case.

  • You tell ’em, Ted.

    I have always been amazed at how many birders won’t lift a finger for the preservation of their pastime.

    If we made as much noise per capita as the N.R.A. – the world would be a much better place.

    Question for everyone reading this: when was the last time you went to a public input meeting, wrote to or spoke with your elected officials, or did anything concrete to affect political outcomes (beyond simply voting)?

  • **The world might be a better place for birders, but not necessarily for everyone else. Despite Mr. Eubanks strong words, I still don’t feel self-righteous enough to impose any political proclivities I might derive from birding on a non-birding population.
    Coincidentally, the N.R.A. has similar interests to birders, so why not try to link up with them? Birders tend not too, because the N.R.A. is largely people with Republicans, and I fear Mr. Eubanks couldn’t hold his nose long enough to have the requisite conversations with N.R.A. Republicans to ever work something out.

    I speak with my elected officials often (or, more accurately, I speak at them), but I am not so preoccupied with my beloved birding as to think that it really should be a prominent issue in local or federal politics.
    I’d life a finger to preserve birding, but I’m still not convinced it’s under attack.

  • I can feel the twitch of a trembler, another quiver in the birding world working its way through the ornithological magma to the surface. The ABA powers-that-be are once again nervous that I might come lobbing grenades at L. Butler’s diatribe. The phones in Colorado Springs will ring, members will threaten to resign, and the ABA will be twisted into a tail spin. I feel like Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters; “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!” My phone will ring. The carpet calls.

    I hope that I won’t disappoint.

    Mr. L. Butler remarks that “but the simple fact is that it’s not the government’s business to make that sort of proclamation.” Actually, Mr. L. Butler is incorrect. I am perfectly happy if his declaration is one of knee-jerk opinion, but often the Teapers dress sophism as fact. Let me clue Mr. L. Butler in about our (our, not his) government’s business.

    The first sentence of the Constitution defines the government’s business. After the fiasco of the Articles of Confederation, the founders chose to create “a more perfect Union” that would “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Note that the people of the U.S. agreed in this new constitution that our new government should “promote the general welfare” of its citizens. I know; we have been arguing over what “general welfare” means for over two centuries, but there is no doubt that “general welfare” is the government’s business.

    General welfare remains the government’s business. I am certain that Mr. L. Butler remembers the phrase at the end of the Preamble, the one about securing “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” General welfare, therefore, remains a blessing and a responsibility of government to this day.

    Article 1, Section 8 declares that Congress and the government have the right and responsibility to enact the laws necessary to carry through on the promises of the Constitution. The exact text is the following: “to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

    I will argue that “general welfare” is an early attempt to define quality of life, and to codify its protection. Read Madison and Jefferson to get a sense of how they struggled with the language. In fact, Jefferson addressed this issue in the first sentence in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence with the following transcendent yet curious statement:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    I admit that “pursuit of happiness” is a queer phrase, but I believe that it gets at the same concept or notion. General welfare of the people is clearly part of the business of government.

    Examples of conservation and environmental protection laws passed under the “general welfare” provisions of our Constitution include the Lacey Act, the 1906 Antiquities Act, Wallop-Breaux, Pittman-Robertson, the Endangered Species Act, NEPA, the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act. All have been upheld by the courts when challenged. These laws were passed by Congress through its power and responsibility to enforce the provisions of the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8). Now Republicans would like to dismantle these laws by throttling their funding (by shrinking government to a size where it can be drowned in a bathtub, according to Grover Norquist).

    Let’s recap. The first substantive sentence of the Declaration of Independence states that “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The first sentence of the Constitution’s preamble states that the new union should “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” I take it that the founders were so committed to a benevolent state that they placed these statements at the beginning, at a place where any reader would not miss them.

    The struggle that I have with Mr. L. Butler’s jeremiad is that his arguments are vaporous, ethereal. His words wiggle and shake; they are invertebrate. Once one trods through the squishy innards of these rambles there is no destination or conclusion; there is no there there. Mr. L. Butler has strung together snippets from Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Michele Bachman, Ron Paul, and Rick Perry in a roundhouse punch at anything left of Genghis Kahn; i.e., me. Mr. L. Butler is the embodiment of the birder who allows his personal luddisms to blot out any link between bird and bush.

    I believe that the notion of public lands is one of the most perfect expressions of the American democracy. Mr. L. Butler believes that “I can’t insist that my valuing of national parks is more important or worthy than some other jerk’s valuing of cheap gas from Alaska or looking for work as a miner in Colorado.”

    Let me reduce Mr. L. Butler’s vaporosity to a few salient points. Mr. L. Butler states (and therefore believes, I suppose) that:

    I have no problem with vehicles getting better fuel economy—I’d love to save some money at the pump. [i.e., Mr. L. Butler favors those environmental regulations that save him money as opposed to those that actually save the environment.]

    Despite our love of birding and ornithology, we can’t make birding concerns turn us into single-issue voters or firebrands. Such an approach is alienating to otherwise sympathetic ears, and is pretty untenable in a country and political system that has other, admittedly more pressing concerns. [In 1864 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant which set aside Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias as a state supervised public reserve. God knows Lincoln didn’t have any pressing concerns. Later President Theodore Roosevelt, the president who Mr. L. Butler considers a war monger, stated that “there can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.”]

    This is all to say nothing of the substantial arguments against government regulation on environmental issues, or to explore the options of large-scale privatization of natural refuges (wouldn’t that be a good project for the ABA!!), because that’s a larger discussion that’ll have to be hosted elsewhere.[Mr. L. Butler favors privatizing our public lands and refuges, selling off the American heritage to the highest bidder.]

    Between light bulbs and homosexual marriage, which issue extends outside of the home? Light bulbs do not, as the afore-mentioned Republican pointed out, but gay marriage is an issue which has its very essence in government recognition, and the government extends beyond households, states, and even countries. [I won’t touch this. Mr. L. Butler’s phobias are obvious for all to see.]

    I understand the worry about environmental protection, especially with congress looking to cut spending, but why are we assuming that if EPA funding gets cut, all of America’s parks and preserves will die, and the wildlife with disappear? Additionally, how drastically will that really affect us birders? [Of course this is Mr. L. Butler’s issue; how drastically will the cuts affect birders as opposed to birds. I recommend reading the budget items themselves, and then study the programs that are being attacked.]

    And ya know, even if the Lesser Prairie Chicken slips through the cracks (and I sincerely hope it doesn’t) and goes extinct, we’ve still got the Greater Prairie Chicken…of course, Lesser Prairie Chickens don’t kill people, but if they went extinct, it shouldn’t set off alarm bells. Some species are more successful than others, and we shouldn’t feel obligated to protect all species unilaterally and uncritically. [Nonsense. The lesser prairie-chicken is one of many prairie species that has become endangered through the ignorance of man, not through a natural evolution. Roosevelt said that “it is also vandalism wantonly to destroy or to permit the destruction of what is beautiful in nature, whether it be a cliff, a forest, or a species of mammal or bird. Here in the United States we turn our rivers and streams into sewers and dumping-grounds, we pollute the air, we destroy forests, and exterminate fishes, birds and mammals — not to speak of vulgarizing charming landscapes with hideous advertisements. But at last it looks as if our people were awakening.”]

    He should have addressed though not only jobs, but also developmental prohibitions that come with environmental regulations. [Unlike Mr. L. Butler’s unsupported rant, I do try to supply references when they are available. If you look at my initial reference you will find an article that refutes Mr. L. Butler’s comment.]

    After all, government protected parks account for over 27% of the American landmass. That’s a lot!!![According to the same reference from Wikipedia, “the protected areas of the United States are managed by an array of different federal, state, tribal and local level authorities and receive widely varying levels of protection. Some areas are managed as wilderness, while others are operated with acceptable commercial exploitation. As of 31 January 2008, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, the U.S. had a total of 6,770 terrestrial nationally designated (federal) protected areas. These protected areas cover 2,607,131 km2 (1,006,619 sq mi), or 27.08 percent of the land area of the United States.] Mr. L. Butler characterizes all of this land as “park” land. Wrong. These lands include the ACOE, BLM, Bureau of Reclamation, US Forest Service, National Park Service, and the USFWS (among others). This total includes the enormous public land holdings in the west, particularly in Alaska. And what about our return on investment? Most of these lands were conserved decades ago, and we benefit from the interest on the initial investment. Our responsibility is to protect the corpus. I wonder if Mr. L. Butler has considered the return on our initial investment. Over 60 million people in this country depend on USDA Forest Service lands for their drinking water. Over half of Americans benefit from agency’s watershed protections and conservation. These forests provide over 1.5 billion trees harvested annually (true to Gifford Pinchot’s initial vision for the forest service, as in “the wise use of the earth and its resources for the lasting good of men.”). The annual budget of the US Forest Service is around $5.5 billion, so in timber production alone we benefit to the tune of about $4 in cost per harvested tree. Add water, carbon sequestration, recreation, and air quality to the equation, and I challenge you to show me a more efficient agency. Notice that I did not mention biodiversity as one of the benefits. Mr. L. Butler, I suspect, places no value on the biological health of our nation.]

    P.S. Posting a link to Paul Krugman makes it hard to take the rest of the article seriously. It’s just one of those things. [Yes, those Nobel Prizes really bug the Teapers, don’t they? Unless, of course, they are the mysterious, nameless Nobel winners that refute global climate change, according to Michele Bachman.]

    Since I started my contributions to this blog, a blog about birds, for God’s sake, I have been called a socialist, an extremist, a radical. I have received private letters from birders asking me to do that which is anatomically impossible. Are birders really this conservative, this insensitive, this self involved to care nothing about the birds that bring them so much pleasure? How many other L. Butlers are out there waiting in the Teaper wings?

    If Theodore Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, Joseph Trimble Rothrock , Aldo Leopold, and Edward Abbey are radical, are extreme, I gladly join their ranks. I can think of no greater compliment. As for government, I expect it to fulfill the promise of the American democracy as defined so clearly in the Constitution. Roosevelt said that “of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us.”

    Let me end with a suggestion. The ABA is a conservative organization as well. My writings unnerve their leadership. I welcome anyone who wishes to challenge my opinions, with only one caveat. If you are going to step up to the plate, bring your best pitch. Have a few facts in your pocket to support your arguments. Once there were conservatives in this country, people like William F. Buckley, who were talented, knowledgeable disputants. I would relish a discussion with someone of that ilk. If the best you can do is regurgitate Fox News, save your strength and my time.

  • Your relationship with the ABA is curious, Mr. Eubanks. It sounds like fun. I must say though, if you considered my measured disagreements with you to be a “diatribe” than that is pretty sensitive on your part. I’m disappointed that you consider any disagreement to automatically be some dismissible diatribe. Shouldn’t we strive to have these sorts of conversations?

    Given your earlier political intimations, I’m surprised you’re bringing up the Constitution as a point of reference (though, I must say, with no address of the 10th Amendment). Remember though Mr. Eubanks; your government is my government too. We vote in the same elections and pay our taxes to the same people. We are subject to the same laws regardless of our political affiliation (and, let me add there, Mr. Eubanks, you’ve made quite a reaching assumption about mine). Again, I must urge you to also review how much environmental legislation was enacted by Republicans (Roosevelt and Nixon come immediately to mind) while you’re reviewing your American History.

    You seem to be precluding the possibility, Mr. Eubanks, that the government can best serve the general welfare by not involving itself where it cannot effectively operate, especially if it will interfere with your and Jefferson’s “pursuit of happiness.” Case in point, what do you do if the government decides to abolish the national parks for the general welfare? You would disagree that it is for the general welfare, and I would agree with you, but by no means is that the consensus view, and what would we have left to base our disagreement on? It’s like how Congress passed the War Powers Act, but then never actually made the president abide by it. There are times we’re left hoping the government follows its own rules, and that its values about the general welfare simply coincide with our own.

    I like to play soccer, and I could argue that the government would be serving the “general welfare” if it installed and maintained soccer fields all over the country and created mandatory soccer programs for all citizens. It would decrease obesity and fill the nation with more green grass, not to mention help the U.S. not embarrass itself at the World Cup. But, is that really something I should force on people, just because it’s an important hobby of mine? When you or I or any other conservationist considers “general welfare” we must remember that general applies to everyone under the government’s jurisdiction, and the small loss or gain in our birding environments does not necessarily outweigh other gains for the general public. This is probably my most fundamental disagreement with you, and all the rest of our exchanges should be reconciled with this essential value judgment.

    Your interjection about political pundits wasn’t very creative Mr. Eubanks. I don’t listen to or like those people, but again it seems you won’t entertain the idea that there’s some middle ground between Republicans and Democrats, that anyone could like birding and not be an environmentalist, that anyone could dislike taxes and cap and trade but not be a Republican. I’m not going to try and personify, label, or dismiss you in such a way Mr. Eubanks, because I think that was a pretty unprofessional and uncreative recitation on your part that shows only your own close-mindedness about identity politics. Those talking heads are not even good examples of conservative extremism! Also, you forgot to mention Sean Hannity.

    As a quick aside, vaporosity is not a word, but I like it nonetheless. It makes me feel like I’m that one lame Wonder Twin who could only turn into variation of water.

    Re: “I believe that the notion of public lands is one of the most perfect expressions of the American democracy.”
    Do you, Mr. Eubanks, think the notion of public lands (which exist in just about every country everywhere and is not unique to the United States at all) is a more perfect expression of American (that’s and important qualifier) Democracy than say, town hall meetings? Checks and Balances put in place to resist a tyranny in government that enacts minority-supported legislation? If so, then I must be missing something about our public lands, and I already thought they were pretty great!

    Re: “Mr. L. Butler favors those environmental regulations that save him money as opposed to those that actually save the environment.”
    What’s wrong with saving money, especially when I don’t see the environment, as a whole, being in any immediate danger? Also, your mentioning of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt’s love of Yosemite does not undo my point that we shouldn’t become single-issue voters based on birding. I don’t think you can refute that either. All you brought up is that they liked parks…it’s kind of a non sequitor. Also, how can you not think Teddy wasn’t a war mongerer? He made the Navy huge, drafted a private regiment in the silly Spanish/American War, and was agitating to get into WWI since it began, and pushed for universal conscription before it even started. I mean, I also think he was a badass, but he wasn’t without his rather imperialist faults (err hem, Philippines).

    Re: “Mr. L. Butler favors privatizing our public lands and refuges, selling off the American heritage to the highest bidder.”
    At the moment, the highest bidder is the government, because no one else is allowed to bid. Why do you assume anyone with money is evil? If the land is, as you say, American heritage, than it should be available for Americans to do with as they wish. Wouldn’t you be annoyed if you inherited something and then the government wouldn’t let you have it? Again, I know we disagree and won’t ever resolve this, but you don’t seem to allow that any opinion or position other than your own can be anything but crazy, and I don’t think there are that many crazy people in the U.S.

    Re:“I won’t touch this. Mr. L. Butler’s phobias are obvious for all to see.”
    You can’t really get anything about phobia from my comments, you’re again assuming that, because I disagree with your comparison of homosexual marriage to light bulb regulation, I am some sort of bigoted crazy person. It’s just as possible that I think you demean the cause of homosexual marriage by equating its meaning with lightbulb legislation, but no, you’ve already made up your mind about my politics and opinions. I’m surprised you even read to the end. If you want to leave this one alone though that’s fine—I don’t know that you could’ve recovered that point.

    I will say, I’m glad you responded more substantially about the economic and particulars of American parks. That’s the sort of thing you should be reminding Republicans and legislators, not just trying to trace their trail of brimstone back down to the infernal gates. Your response there was the most informative thing I’ve read from you so far, and I appreciate it. I still must ask though, if there’s a good return on park investment, why do the Republicans hate it so? I don’t think they just hate the environment for sake of hating the environment. There’s no Republican guideline that says they must hate the environment (remember Nixon and Roosevelt) so what are they really after? A bigger pay off? They don’t just hate the sight of green, because we all know how greedy they are.

    Re: “Yes, those Nobel Prizes really bug the Teapers, don’t they?” : ::Sigh:: : There is no Nobel prize for economics Mr. Eubanks. Krugman’s prize is not from the Central Bank of Sweden or something along those lines Additionally, Obama was nominated for a Nobel Prize two weeks into his presidency and won it soon after. How peaceful has he been? He shares the prize with such other peaceful visionaries as Yassir Arafat and Woodrow Wilson (after he took us into WWI). My point being, that prize is a scam, and Krugman thinks that we should pay people to break his windows and then fix them again in order to restore the economy. The guy is committed to a failed ideology.

    I liked your pun about “Teaper wings” when referring to us curious conservative birders. At the moment though, I haven’t asked or wished any unpleasantness upon you. I’m still enjoying the conversation and I’ve always managed keep my creepy conservatism contained enough that I manage to keep company with (self-proclaimed) socialists, anarchists, Catholics, and even –GASP– homosexuals!

    About your Roosevelt quote on “leaving this land even a better land for our descendents than it is for us,” well one could just as much take that as a spur to land development and suburbanization—just saying.

    I won’t presume to take up your time Mr. Eubanks; I just let you make that choice for yourself (what with me being for small government and all). I guess my arguments weren’t so weak that you could just ignore them though… My complaints with you were not factual disputes, but a difference of interpretation. You’ve done a fine job with your facts, but I didn’t like how one-sided your presentation was. Nonetheless, I still consider you one of my best friends and I’d share a pair of binoculars with you any day ; )

    P.S. Don’t be so hard on the ABA. They seem to publish you well enough…it’s almost as if those stodgy old conservatives aren’t so unapproachable after all…

    P.P.S. I also submit that you, Mr. Eubanks, are more of a conservative than you or others may believe. A conservative is someone who is motivated to preserve their culture, heritage, and traditions above all. You focussed particularly on the American environment, while I’m still trying to balance that with other things.

  • Larry, I will work through your arguments over the holiday. However, it seems as though there is a light at the end of this tunnel. However, I am curious about your comment that “there is no Nobel prize for economics Mr. Eubanks.” Are you being serious or rhetorical? Here is the quote about Krugman’s prize from Wikipedia: “In 2008, Krugman won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his contributions to New Trade Theory and New Economic Geography. According to the Nobel Prize Committee, the prize was given for Krugman’s work explaining the patterns of international trade and the geographic concentration of wealth, by examining the impact of economies of scale and of consumer preferences for diverse goods and services.” Thanks, though, for a thoughtful response. That’s all I ask for.

  • Your comment about vaporosity tweaked my interest. According to the Oxford, it is a variant of vaporous. And, yes, I like it too. Should be a good one to use in Scrabble.

    By the way, our government does fund soccer fields through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, when Congress isn’t gutting it.

  • As I said, Krugman’s award is given by the Swedish Central Bank, and was adapted in commemoration of Alfred Nobel by the bank on its 300th anniversary. Nobel never actually stipulated in his will that Economics was to be designated an award. I mention this only because I find Krugman to be kind of smarmy, apart from what I consider to be bad, tendentious economics on his part, and I don’t like that he lords his supposed Nobel Prize over everybody. That the Nobel prize was later equivocated be Swedish Bankers means, at the very least, that there should be an asterisk next to Krugman’s title.
    Have a good Holiday.

  • I also liked ‘Teaper Wing’. That actually would make a good bird name. I made one up once, ‘Crested Hillock’ which I hope to discover is real one of these days.
    Regarding the soccer fields though, do you think the government should fund more of them? Will you be sad if their funding gets cut?

  • http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904716604576546422160891728.html?mod=WSJ_hp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsSecond

    To add to my earlier argument, it seems the Democrats are also at least unsure of the (maybe inverse) relationship between environmental regulation and employment. Citing the bad economy, Obama has postponed the EPA Air-Quality Regulating for fear of losing yet more jobs.

  • According to Michael Tomasky: “And you know how partisans say sometimes in anger that we’d have been better off with the other guy? They say it for effect and don’t actually mean it. But in this case, it’s literally true. Bush-proposed standards in 2008 were tougher than the 1997 standards under which companies will now operate. I doubt environmentalists will forget this one.”
    (And, I should add, I really dislike Bush. I’m not happy about this).

  • No cajones.

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