TESRA: Wolves dress not in sheep's clothing

Her priests have done violence to My law…Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey: to shed blood, and to destroy souls, so as to get dishonest gain. —Ezekiel 22

On Wednesday and Thursday, September 21st and 22nd, I circled my meadows, baling some of the last hay of the season. In the cool, cloudless days of early autumn, I wondered how many more years I would be able to continue this seasonal task; not due to age, but because our land and natural resources, in the name of being “preserved for Future Generations,” are being devoured by a pack of wolves.

During those two days, Richard Pombo, the “Alpha Male” of the House Committee on Resources, held hearings in Washington, D.C. With “bi-partisan support,” and with Corporate and Green “partners” closeted in marbled halls far from the cries of their prey, the Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005 (TESRA), H.R.3824, was voted out of committee.

When the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) was signed, few Americans understood its true purpose or the havoc it would cause. Warnings were ignored. America was being sold on eagles soaring in azure skies. Flea-markets offered wall hangings and t-shirts depicting wolves against full-moon-illumined wilderness. It was “a time of spiritual transformation; a new age of holistic insight and the restoration of the Earth Mother, Gaia, Goddess of Nature.”

ESA and her sisters, CAA, CWA, NEPA, were nymphs in those heady days. They knew how to party and were “in” with the “new age” crowd. They were celebrities, sophisticated, in the original sense, dressed to kill and were free with their favors. Always seductive, saying one thing and meaning another, men and women in suits and in black robes were twisted around their little fingers and caressed their lines with rapacious eyes.

For three decades they have ‘come to town,’ perfumed publicity and political makeup hiding a multitude of sins. Though they have aged—for those who have eyes to see the blemishes and pockmarks, and ears to hear the jaded hardness in their laugh—they have charms enough to seduce. With sultry looks and entangling embraces, they revel in extortion on a grand scale; exult over homes and communities shattered, dreams ruined, businesses and life’s work lost; and they sadistically gloat about paramours who ended up behind bars.

After thirty-two years, untold billions taken and squandered, spent turning virility into dependency, and suffering, America is too infatuated to end the tryst. Even having seen their forms lying in our beds at dawn, we are blind to their putrid nakedness, sigh at their honeyed lies, and still believe their friends’ excuses. “The girls don’t mean any harm. They’re well-intentioned. Give them a chance to reform.”

Living high-on-the-Blue-hog in New York City, Gland, Johannesburg, Geneva, and Rio, their folks could not be more pleased with their daughters. The designs of decadent, incestuous parentage are ignored, dismissed as ‘vicious gossip.’ Too few Americans understand the extent of the family’s depravity. Too many are willing to cover for it.

In the tradition of the PATRIOT Act, TESRA was a secretive, Washington insider deal. It followed the “New Order” process for enacting legislation intended to subvert the rights of Americans. Introduced on July 19th, Pombo forced it through committee in a few days without opportunity for careful public review and debate. The Committee paid little more than lip service to private property rights and none to Constitutional disabilities. Even the token, pro-property rights testimony of Pacific Legal Foundation’s attorney, the usually solid Jim Burling, was milquetoast.

The “conservative” legislative priority is to “improve and strengthen” the ESA. Breathing new life into the UN’s mechanisms for controlling private land and resources is a critical component in the redefinition of today’s “conservative.” Mr. Pombo’s handlers should be pleased. They won round one and the “conservative” Congressman was awarded a shiny, tin medal to hang from his collar.

It is difficult to conclude there was not a three-way ‘agreement’ to rewrite the ESA. The Green radicals, such as the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), the Corporate interests, and the Resources Committee and staff, could not have been more skillful in collaborating to assure the advancement of Bush administration policy: “cooperative conservation,” the “kinder, gentler” phrase with dual meanings—one meaning for those who cooperate, the other for those who are cooperated. As Interior Secretary Gale Norton said regarding an agreement with the CBD: “I am pleased that we have been able to cooperate and find common ground that will allow us to protect these species under the Endangered Species Act. I hope this can be a model for future agreements.”

Mr. Pombo yelped to the press about the “failure” of the ESA to recover species, an irrelevancy undisputed by all but those with an agenda. And he growled about “sacred” property rights protections, “If your investment in private property is not protected from the whims of government, how much individual liberty do you really have?” But the “deals” were already cut, and when a “draft” trial balloon was launched to “update and improve” the ESA, property rights were victim to more intense attacks.

By late June, rumors were circulating about details of the secret, “staff discussion draft.” It was “leaked” to the Greens and select media well in advance of Committee action. Individuals and groups who had been urging full protection of private land or total repeal of ESA were purposely kept in virtual darkness. The draft not only offered property owners no substantive protections, but it had grown a new set of teeth, including invasive species provisions designed to rip more meat from land owners’ limbs.

Pombo’s “staff discussion draft” proved to be one of the cleverest pieces of psychological manipulation of the ESA reauthorization campaign. It was used as a bogeyman to determine how far property rights could be compromised and whose backs were unprotected, while causing the least political damage to “conservatives.” When real property rights advocates discovered it on Green websites, there was an immediate outcry. The “leak” sent a message and it appears to have been engineered to create confusion. It was a “good cop, bad cop” set up, and a classic divide-and-conquer tactic.

Still believing in his integrity, some Pombo supporters were persuaded to abandon the goal of killing the ESA in order to fight the bogeyman. Divisions arose between those who were guided by principle, derogatorily termed “purists,” and the “realists,” including Corporate alliances who were willing to compromise just about anything in order to make a quick deal for an enhanced bottom line. Corporates and Greens ‘worked’ the situation for all it was worth, and did so to their mutual advantage. Despite Green crocodile tears, it was everything they hoped for, and more.

Looking back through nearly 200 pages of documentation covering June through September, one point has become abundantly clear: Mr. Pombo ignored (or, according to some reports, used) millions of small, rural land owners and resource providers in favor of a cadre of Greens and Corporate interests who were not the least interested in species, not interested in property rights or Constitutional questions, and cared less about the plight of most rural land owners.

The goal for the big mining, energy, communications, construction, the ag “industry” and forest “industry” alliance was to ‘grease’ the wheels and cut the costs of permitting and consultation so business could be conducted without expensive delays. Sensing a storm over the next election horizon, they wanted technical fixes while the political winds were favorable. The last thing they wanted was protracted debates about principled action. The “purists” were to be ignored or silenced, or misled into supporting TESRA.

The mega-industries and their Green counterparts have invested billions in a “partnership” with government. It is in their financial best interest to cooperate with the “mandates” of the “new fascism.” The success of the political “partnership” ensures the inevitable demise of smaller independents and their “integration” into the “system.” There is certainty in monopolized markets and financial rewards for industry “captains.” The myopic, non-profit Greens, assured of continued tax-exempt status, public funding and the ability to extort through litigation, are the created dialectical antithesis of the Corporate thesis, used to facilitate The Third Way synthesis. It’s an old game.

Disinformation and elusiveness was SOP for the pro-Pombo-ESA “coalitions.” The American Land Rights Association’s (ALRA) “Mr. Rent-a-Riot” Chuck Cushman assumed a prominent position in the “coalitions” and urged blind support for a non-existent TESRA bill at the time he wrote the following:

Efforts to update and modernize the ESA face possible make-or-break legislative action in Congress sometime after July 19th…This is the best chance you are going to have, perhaps for decades…We believe in Chairman Richard Pombo. We support him. He has a wonderful property rights record going back his entire career. He is trustworthy and a team player. He is well respected by the rest of Congress on both sides of the isle.

Cushman’s emotion-laden nonsense misled anyone who would listen. He also proposed, “There is 0 chance Congress will support a repeal path.” Not only was this unprincipled opinion incorrect, but it promoted cynicism. If you believe there is no chance, why bother to get involved trying to do the right thing?

With the apparent influence of Pombo’s staff, Mr. Cushman was also “appointed” a spokesman for the property rights/ESA crowd within a new group, Grover Norquist’s (Americans for Tax Reform) Property Rights Alliance (PRA). Cushman announced Norquists’s group in mid-July. PRA says it is “…a forum…to regularly meet and discuss the most pertinent topics facing the protection of property.”

PRA is nominally headed by one of Norquists’s young staffers, Scott A. LaGanga. He was reportedly “propagandized” by Pombo operatives to support TESRA and was convinced to marginalize the property rights people fighting the Pombo bill. “Property Rights Alliance strongly supports H.R. 3824 for its efforts to defend property owners while protecting endangered species.” It was the same old Cushman line, but coming from a new front group, it made the bunkum sound more legitimate.

More information about Grover Norquist and his involvement with The Abramoff-Reed Indian Gambling Scandal is available from the Center for Media and Democracy. Caveat viator, but worth reading. And for those not familiar with Cushman’s long-running Alaskan cause celebre, Robert Hale and the “Pilgrim Family,” here is recent news. Cushman may have more rotten egg on his face if the ‘innocent victim’ of NPS abuses, “Papa Pilgrim,” is convicted of 30 felony counts of rape, assault and incest involving one of his daughters.

Tom Randall of Winningreen LLC, the spokesman for the Corporate’s Save Our Species Alliance (SOSA) in Golden, Colorado, worked to ensure the reauthorization of the ESA. “The Alliance is a national grassroots campaign dedicated to supporting efforts of the U.S. Congress, the Administration and our nation’s Governors for updating and strengthening the Endangered Species Act.”—a statement worth a hundred red flags. Characterizing SOSA as “grassroots” requires some imagination.

Winningreen is “a consulting firm dedicated to the development and promotion of sound environmental public policy, based on sound science, respect for the American people and constitutional principles. Our clients are legislators, appointed officials in agencies which deal with the environment, their aides and few other selected individuals. We do not accept businesses, organizations or other special interests as clients.” Are politicians and bureaucrats “special interests?” As to “respect for the American people and constitutional principles,” there appears to be a minor conflict with his “selected” clients.

Tim Wigley, director of SOSA wrote, “We agree with the goals and objectives of the Endangered Species Act but it needs updating to meet those goals…We are working to update this law because of its good intentions…” And according to Idaho Farm Bureau Quarterly, Summer, 2005, “Wigley says proponents of ESA reform don’t want to gut the act; they only want to make it easier to comply with and be effective in actually recovering species.”

Wigley, executive vice president of the “Oregon-based full-service communications firm” Pac/West Communications, brings a “wealth of political, corporate, and industry association experience to Pac/West.” Before joining Pac/West, he served as the president of the Oregon Forest Industries Council, as West Coast Director of Corporate Communications for Georgia-Pacific Corporation and as director of Government Affairs for the Mississippi Manufacturers Association.

Pac/West is headed by Paul Phillips who served fourteen years in the Oregon Legislature, five years as an assistant to Governor Atiyeh, and as Nike’s (Asian slave-labor) Director of Community Affairs. In a 2002 Oregon Senate report on economic stimulus, Phillips’ Smart Growth Coalition recommended: “issue [state] bonds for the purchase of land and equipment for new or expanding businesses…Implement regulatory laws quickly and efficiently…Look at long-term tax policy, compare on a global scale.” He favored “developing [a] Smart Growth initiative…and provid[ing] tax incentives to private industry…” Phillips’ Smart Growth Coalition members included Intel, Tektronix, Adidas, Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Kindercare, Schnitzer Steel, and Louisiana Pacific. Neo-Con fascism, anyone?

Chuck Cushman, along with Jim Sims, Executive Director of the Partnership for the West, promoted a “huge” pro-Pombo/ESA Rally on the west steps of the US Capitol on Tuesday, July 19th, with a “strategy meeting” for select Pombo/TESRA supporters on the preceding day, followed by a “huge” Rally/Press Conference on the West Lawn the next week.

Sims was Director of Communications for the National Energy Policy Development Group in the White House and heads the Western Business Roundtable. He is on the Board of Directors of the Center for the New American Century (Denver) and the Center for the New West, both “non-profit, public policy think tanks.” He is also President of Policy Communications, Inc., a public affairs/lobbying firm in Golden, Colorado.

The Cushman & Company Capitol Rally was a Corporate charade designed to convince farmers, ranchers and rural property owners TESRA was their “last chance to make history” and to save their land. It was to be “the most critical week” in their lives, with “relaxed food events with good wine and talk,” receptions each night and a “Wild Game Dinner.” Individual land owners from across the nation smelled dead meat laced with strychnine. It was a non-event. It never “happened.”

On the afternoon of Friday, July 15th, the House Resources Committee posted its official schedule for the next week: no introduction of the Pombo bill, no scheduled mark-up, and no scheduled vote on TESRA. But emails from Cody Stewart, Executive Director of the Congressional Western Caucus, and from the Cushman camp were still being circulated promoting the Big Rally. At noon on Friday, I received this personal note from Cushman: “Come to the Grassroots ESA Coalition meeting 10:00 am on Monday, July 18th at the Best Western Pentagon…But you need to tell me in advance so I can put you on the list.”

What list? What happened to the thousands of Cushman/Sim’s “grassroots activists and leaders” who were expected to attend the Big Rally? According to one contact, from a July 18th email:

For weeks I was suspicious, as were others, that the entire operation was a scam. As soon as word came out that the Pombo bill wasn’t going anywhere, I called the Best Western, and I called again today. There is no Conference being held there or that has recently been cancelled. There is no Chuck Cushman registered and they’ve had no cancellation for Cushman. Possibly Cushman cancelled everything so long ago that the front desk people have NO memory of it. Or, maybe it never existed. The other possibility is that so many people began to think this entire operation smelled to high heaven, and that it had nothing to do with protecting freedom or private property rights, but was instead either an industry scam to sell out property rights—or a Green scam to sell out property rights—or a joint effort to sell out property rights—that NO ONE registered to come!

September’s ESA Rally was a repeat of July’s. Promised was a reception at the swank Phillips Flagship Seafood Restaurant, sponsored by the National Fisheries Institute. From another report: “That fancy event simply vanished. It was on the schedule sent to everyone just prior to Grassroots ESA Rally week, but inexplicably vanished from the official schedule printed in the Rally packet. Mr. Cushman’s Grassroots organization turned into a Grass Root organization. After the July debacle, it seems that only one person risked coming back for the second ESA rally.”

Rodney Stubbs, founder of the Oregon Property Rights Council, wrote Mr. Cushman, “How much did you get paid for pushing the ESA? Who paid you?” Cushman, Wigley, Randall, Sims and others within SOSA and the National Endangered Species Act Reform Coalition (NESARC) are reported to have mustered commitments for a $10-15 million Corporate slush fund to push ESA reauthorization. SOSA lists many TESRA supporting Corporates on its website. The question every affected property owner ought to be asking is: Should I belong to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; or the American Farm Bureau Federation; or the Small Business Council; or the numerous sportsmen’s organizations; or the Forest Landowners Association; or any of the dozens of others on the SOSA list? The Grassroots ESA Campaign has been an eye-opener. With friends like these…

Nationally recognized organizations—Liberty Matters, American Policy Center, National Center for Public Policy Research, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Property Rights Foundation of America, Stewards of the Range, and over 200 other groups and individuals—correctly saw the TESRA draft as ‘the ESA on steroids.’ A strong “Property Rights First” campaign finally got Mr. Pombo’s attention. At the time, facing solid pro-property rights opposition and the approaching summer recess, it seemed he was reconsidering his bill. In hindsight, it looks more like a temporary strategic retreat in a well-laid plan to allow the Greens and the Corporates enough time to regroup to run additional interference for TESRA.

The continued, vocal “attacks” on TESRA by the Greens and support from collectivist media helped convince some “conservatives” TESRA must be greatest thing since ice-cream. “If they’re agin it, I’m fer it.” Most of the media-hype distracted from the real issues but there was some delicious irony. “This bill takes a wrecking ball to our nation’s most important wildlife protection law,” said Kieran Suckling, policy director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Pombo played a cynical game of bait-and-switch. He brought people in with false promises, announced the support of environmental groups to the nation, and then systematically stripped every protection clause from his bill.” Did Suckling’s words come from a Cushman & Company script?

In the alternative: “This bill takes a wrecking ball to our nation’s most important resource protection law, the Constitution. Pombo played a cynical game of bait-and-switch. He brought people in with false promises, announced the support of property rights groups to the nation, and then systematically added every abomination to his bill.” In a perverse way, Suckling was close to telling the truth.

After years of outspoken criticism of the ESA, the “champion of property rights,” “the standard bearer” in the fight against federal environmental despotism double-crossed those who counted on his leadership. He encouraged bogus property rights allies to take the lead promoting TESRA as the best deal land owners could expect.

After years of federal tyranny, waste, corruption and extortion, a bill to repeal the ESA, or to eliminate federal jurisdiction over private land, was closer to realization than most Americans have been led to believe. Had the pro-Pombo alliances shown the same principled resolve as the “Property Rights First” campaigners, the bill voted out of Committee almost certainly would have been a very different animal. Corporate Mercantilists and Green “partners” reinvented what is potentially an even more tyrannical ESA. Slice it any way you will, for the little guy the new Pombo ESA reform is a betrayal in the spirit of Neville Chamberlain.

Harsh? Far fetched? More far fetched than having the most important piece of environmental legislation in three decades rammed through the full House in just ten days with virtually no debate? More far fetched than a secretive “working draft” of TESRA “leaked” to Green websites while property rights advocates were purposely left in the dark? More far fetched than encouraging a highly-suspect pack of Corporate compromisers to act as self-proclaimed defenders of property rights?

Contrary to Mr. Pombo’s long-running assertions, the ESA was never “broken.” There are no “misguided” policies. Those who set the agenda and formulate policy at the highest levels knew, and know, exactly what they are doing. It has been one of the most successful land and resource controls ever enacted by Congress, specifically aimed at controlling and eliminating the small rural property owner, and the consolidation of power in the hands of an elitist, Globalist cartel. As Larry Gabriel, South Dakota’s Secretary of Agriculture, recently wrote, “Congress is generally the worst imaginable manager of natural resources…If you want just about anything (including your money) lost or destroyed without meaningful accountability, normally Congress can help you out.”

TESRA, as approved by the House, 229-193, is complex, vaguely worded and it expands “third party” Greens’ ability to litigate. For millions of small landowners and for wildlife, a system of enhanced exploitation would be perpetuated. In many respects, TESRA is patterned on the Healthy Forest Initiative. Virtually the same cast of characters took part in that “cooperative” fraud, using the same political strategies, with similar benefits accruing to favored Green and Corporate special-interests.

Almost completely subservient to the international “New Order” establishment, what the Senate will do is unlikely to be favorable. The prospect of stripping anything resembling property rights protection from the House version and for adding more onerous amendments, including “invasive species” language, seem more than a remote possibility. The same dialectic will be at work. Pombo’s knew his bill would open the beasts’ cage. For this, “conservatives” voice praise. I hear only snarls of a pack of wolves bickering over new kill.

The news media never reported the statement of one congressman who addressed the full House:

Mr. Speaker, this bill, TESRA, like its predecessor, reeks of socialism—fascism would be the correct word. The people of my district are again being nailed to the wall by a government with no Constitutional jurisdiction over private property, or over plants and animals within these united States. I will not support this bill because it promotes a globalist, special-interest agenda. It further merges the private sector with big government, the very definition of fascism.

The people of my district are tired of being “cooperated” into submission with “incentive” bribery and “partnership” coercion. They are tired of being pawns in the Greens’ con-game and their perpetual, ESA-enabled lawsuits, which, I must add, are encouraged by Congressional appropriations. This double-dealing “partnership” is destroying the lives and productive capacity of this nation’s people.

Congress must stop trading on people’s lives, on species and on the independence of America. The ESA albatross has been on Congressional life-support too long. If this House is serious about saving species and protecting individual rights, it’s time to repeal the ESA.

As with the Kelo decision, I believe this bill…

The Speaker abruptly cut the congressman off and ruled him out of order. His words did not appear in the Congressional Record. Of course, there was no congressman. The words were never spoken.

And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the breach before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none. —Ezekiel 22