Archive for January, 2015

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  • January 24th, 2015

Like Head Lice–Hard To Get Rid Of

By Joel M. Vance
Sen. Brian Munzinger, Republican from Northeast Missouri, is a pestilent carbuncle on the grimy butt that is the Legislature. He is the latest shambling incompetent to try to destroy Missouri’s conservation program, widely considered the nation’s most advanced and all around best.
In one of the most ludicrous and brain-dead proposals ever offered (and there have been plenty of them in the nearly 80 years of the Conservation Department’s existence), Munzinger (who , my friend Bill Clark calls “Mudslinger”) would abolish permit fees, claiming it is double taxation, since the Department also is heavily-funded by a one-eighth cent sales tax, in place since 1977 (and voted in place by initiative petition—no thanks to the Legislature which has tried ever since to find a way to get its grubby hands on the money which is dedicated to fish, wildlife and forestry).
No matter that the outdoors is a major source of income for Missourians who would see their business crippled if Mudslinger’s stupid idea prevails. True, it’s a Constitutional amendment which would require approval by a vote of the people—but voters have been known to vote against their self interest, especially when the dreaded word “tax” is mentioned and when the issue is fanned into flame by demagogues, misinformation and outright lies.
If hunting and fishing permits are double taxation, why not eliminate fees for renewing a driver’s license. Let’s eliminate the tax on gasoline and see what happens to the state’s roads and bridges, already starved for maintenance funding.
The Conservation Federation, a citizen group founded in the 1930s to pull wildlife, fisheries and forestry out of the avaricious hands of politicians, says this about the newest attempts to destroy Missouri’s non-political conservation system: “For the past 80 years, the Conservation Federation of Missouri has fought against legislative attacks aimed at diminishing the authority and funding of MDC. This year will be no different. CFM will do everything in our power to ensure MDC remains the agency our founders fought to establish based on the belief that science, not politics, should govern the forest, fish and wildlife of our state.
“In 1976, the citizens of Missouri voted to self-impose a sales tax for the benefit of conservation. Today, because of this tax, we have flourishing game and fish populations, top resource professionals, hundreds-of-thousands of acres of public land, nature centers, private lands programs and so much more. If Missouri is to remain a national leader of conservation, our Federation, comprised of the diverse conservation community of Missouri, must band together like never before and make our message heard loud and clear – “Enough is enough, leave conservation and the millions of Missourians who enjoy our natural resources alone”.
If eliminating permit fees weren’t enough to satisfy Mudslinger’s lust for chaos, he also would change the composition of the Conservation Commission from the present four bi-partisan members who represent the entire state to eight regional representatives which almost certainly would lead to factionalism and regional infighting. My late and revered boss Jim Keefe once told me that Conservation Commissioners sometimes come with an agenda, “but they get educated quickly.” I saw it happen repeatedly over my 21 years with the Department. The already seated commissioners would take the newcomer in hand and begin the process of purging politics from his or her mindset.
It was impossible for a commissioner to spend time with the staff and not be awed by the professionalism and expertise. I knew commissioners who were political animals when appointed who became not only a-political, but among the most effective and dedicated members of the Commission ever.
Mudslinger’s vendetta would be more understandable (he tried the same thing unsuccessfully in the last legislative session) if it weren’t for the fact that he represents my home turf. He’s the senatorial mouth for Chariton and Linn counties. I went to high school in Keytesville, lived in Dalton, hunted ducks on the Dalton Cutoff. Swan Lake National Refuge is in Chariton County, as is the state’s first public waterfowl hunting area, Fountain Grove. My father owned a farm near Bynumville. I grew up around men who loved to quail hunt behind lean pointers. Chariton is a large and outdoor oriented county.
There is a road south of Dalton named Joel Vance Avenue. I’m proud to have a road named after me even if it’s gravel and dead ends at the Cutoff, but ashamed to have such a mean spirited piece of human tripe in the Legislature associated with Chariton County. I’m thinking of requesting that the county change the name of my road to Mudslinger Alley in hopes that the slimy pol will drive it, get mired in Chariton County gumbo and never be found.
Mudslinger has company in his campaign to destroy conservation and the Conservation Department. Rep. Craig Redmon of Canton has proposed a constitutional provision repealing the Conservation sales and use tax. That would eliminate two thirds of Missouri’s conservation funding and essentially destroy nearly 80 years of progressive wildlife, fisheries and forestry programs.
Missouri tourism, a major business, would be flushed down the same toilet.
Redmon is not the only miscreant in this cabal of House lowlifes. Bryan Spencer, mostly from St. Charles has introduced two crippling proposals. One reduces the sales tax from 1/8 of a cent to 1/16 of a cent and the other would require the conservation sales tax to be approved by voters every 10 years. That would hammer long range planning, making it impossible to set goals reaching beyond a few years. Spencer, not surprisingly, has flunked the Vote Smart political courage test by simply not answering any questions on his positions and why he takes them.
Then there’s Wanda Brown of Benton County who has introduced a trio of goofy proposals. One would require the Conservation Department to test dead deer on state highways for chronic wasting disease. One suspects her brain of chronic wasting, only there’s not much to waste. She also would require Conservation Commissioners to register as lobbyists and to follow all lobbyist rules and regulations. Is she auditioning for a part in the sequel to “Dumb and Dumber” to be titled, “Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest”? Guess which role Brown is best suited for.
Brown also wants the Conservation Department to pay automobile owners up to $500 for damages inflicted upon their vehicles by deer. That is a measure that sounds good on the surface, especially to anyone who has hit a deer, but it also opens the door to “takings” laws which would require payment for any claim of wildlife damage (i.e. raccoons eating your sweet corn, geese grazing on wheat, etc.). Such claims would quickly exhaust conservation funds and cripple money for all conservation programs.
The best that can be said for Wanda (wasn’t that the name of the wicked witch of the west?—she isn’t named by L. Frank Baum, but it would be interesting to see how she’d react to a splash of water) is that she’ll be term limited out in a year.
All these proposals have but one aim—to cripple a state department, rated the best of its kind in the nation, one that was founded and funded by the people of Missouri who justly don’t trust their Legislature to do the right thing. These are the schemes of petty men and one woman, ever grasping for money they haven’t been able to get their grubby hands on and hungry for power so far insulated from their covetous reach.
One can only hope that the citizens who started, supported and have paid for this exemplary program will emulate the old joke about the guy who whacks the Missouri mule between the eyes with a two-by-four, explaining, “First you have to get their attention.”
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  • Blog
  • January 14th, 2015

The Ultimate Dick

By Joel M. Vance
Ralph Waldo Emerson said it 175 years ago: “”A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” Speaking of little minds and little statesmen, Dick Cheney, the über-Nazi of the Little Georgie administration, continues to advocate torture as a way to get information from recalcitrant prisoners, despite much evidence that it doesn’t work.
I have a mental picture of Dick Cheney crouched over a strapped down victim (doesn’t matter who—could be me or you—with a bottle of water and an expression of savage glee as he waterboards the anguished human into helpless hopelessness.
In a delicious bit of historical irony, had torture happened that even the Dick would recognize happened, Cheney might not exist, at least as the dungeon-master of right wing politics. When George H.W. Bush was shot down in the south Pacific during World War Two, he was rescued by an American submarine, went on to become President and father Little Georgie, the Howdy Doody puppet, manipulated by none other than Cheney, the ultimate Dick. All other American aviators captured by the Japanese in the same operation were tortured and killed, mostly by beheading. No Bush senior, no Little Bush, probably no Cheney.
“I’d do it again in a minute,” said Cheney of waterboarding, a proved torture, on “Meet the Press.” The thing is, Cheney didn’t do it himself—he just ordered it done, much in the manner of a concentration camp commander saying, here’s the Jews and there’s the oven—take care of it.” Speaking of concentration camps, how’s everything down Guantanamo way? In response to questions about innocent detainees at Guantanamo, the Dick said, “I’m more concerned with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent.” And yet the right wing has strenuously opposed open trials of Guantanamo detainees in civilian courts. Let’s keep ‘em in secret military courts where that nasty media can’t interfere and ask embarrassing questions—like the New York Times which has called for prosecution of Cheney and his band of thugs: “….any credible investigation should include former Vice President Dick Cheney; Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington; the former C.I.A. director George Tenet; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the Office of Legal Counsel lawyers who drafted what became known as the torture memos,” the Times said.
Better yet let’s don’t try them at all. Just lock ‘em up with a bucket of water handy.
The Times also said it doubted President Obama has the guts to go after Cheney and so do I. Obama has shown a consistent lack of courage when it comes to showdowns with the extreme right. Those who should be in jail or at least labeled for the extremists they are continue to strut free, spouting their dangerous nonsense.
My favorite Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” While Franklin as writing about money matters and not the liberty he would be associated with in Revolutionary times, the quote does reflect the quintessential Franklin and no doubt he is whirling restlessly in his eternal rest to see his intent so warped by someone elected to one of the high offices he helped create.
Then there is Liz Cheney, the toxic child of the former veep who is a chip off the old blockhead. She briefly ran for the Senate last year and kicked off her campaign by branding her 69 year old Republican opponent as “too old” (I’m 80, bitch!). Then she got fined for illegally buying a Wyoming fishing permit. That’s minor compared to daddy’s outdoor peccadillos—he shot his hunting partner, apparently mistaking him for an eight ounce bobwhite quail. However if I were to go bird hunting with Liz (unlikely), I would want to be very, very careful.
Liz abandoned her Senate quest, citing “health” concerns (her poll numbers were sick). She also split with her sister, who is gay. If Father Dick deserves any praise, it is that he stuck by his lesbian daughter, Mary. Although at various times he has said he supports same sex marriage but also thinks Liz’s adamant opposition to it is okay. Mary is not quite so tolerant. Mary’s wife Heather said of Liz’s anti gay marriage statements, “Liz has been a guest in our home, has spent time and shared holidays with our children, and when Mary and I got married in 2012 – she didn’t hesitate to tell us how happy she was for us,” Poe wrote on Facebook. “To have her now say she doesn’t support our right to marry is offensive to say the least.” Well offensive is what Cheney pere et fille do best.
But gay marriage inconsistency is a minor blip in the Dick Cheney list of awful accomplishments. He is the major backer and architect of the Iraq war (at least 4,490 killed and more than 32,000 wounded). Estimates of Iraqis killed range widely from 100,000 to more than a million. Leaving the cost of human suffering aside (if you can) the war has cost the U.S. economy at least two trillion dollars. Think about that the next time you hear the Republicans bitching about “tax and spend” liberals or how it has been the Democrats who put the economy in the toilet.
When you research Cheney it’s remarkable how often the word “evil” appears. How else to describe someone who arrogantly dismissed evidence against a war to start one that killed tens of thousands? Someone said, “Wars are started by old men who don’t have to fight in them.” Cheney applied for and got five draft deferments during the Viet Nam war, one of which was because he had become a father of, of all people, Liz. If it’s any consolation to the hard right, the current veep, Joe Biden, also ducked the draft five times. Maybe it goes with the office.
Dick Cheney is like the mouse that somehow got caught and chewed up in the innards of our car. The smell persisted long after the mouse went out of office, so to speak. Unlike the mouse there doesn’t seem to be any mechanic who can drop Cheney in the nearest trash can where he belongs. The TV remote channel changer and the local newspaper recycling depository will have to serve for the time being.
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