In the South, where I grew up, it was called carpetbagging — looting a war-torn land for personal profit. In the West, the despoilers were called robber barons. It’s an American tradition, but always before, there were some checks and balances. Which ones exist now?
One white male banker hand-puppet after another is being offered a Cabinet position, and while much of the nation’s sound and fury gets aroused by matters such as the collapse of the Mexican economy and nuclear war with Russia and all those other pesky annoyances that were somehow not a problem in the previous administration, we here in the West are fighting mad over yet another blow to the Republic — the Trump administration’s proposal to transfer our public lands to private individuals.
States such as Montana, rich in the natural resources that are our state’s economic driver, are a low-hanging plum for warmongers. We have only a million people here to defend the homeland against carpetbaggers, safeguarding the public treasury of our national parks and forests — though defend it we will.
News flash, and not-so-coincidental shocker: The Carlyle Group, the consortium of Bush and Cheney-era former legislators turned lobbyists and investors, owns federal leases on the majority of coal underlying Western public lands.
Of course, in his first week, Donald Trump sought to overthrow public health care. Of course, in his first week he encouraged the sale and transfer of our most proud and primal legacy, the American land itself. I have no doubt this man would sell the Liberty Bell for a bronze garden figurine of a naked Indian maiden.Of course, in his first week, he announced a hiring freeze, that could have prevented Western firefighters from battling wildfires in the heated, deadly breath of global warming. (The Trump administration later clarified that agencies could hire seasonal firefighters and rangers.) It makes perfect sense, too, that in his first week he sought to reauthorize the proposed Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, which would cleave the country in half with toxic spills of bubbling tar as Canada seeks to lay that line to the Gulf Coast in order to ship its toxic tar to Asia.
What a busy week it was for the man; he also managed, with little more than a tweet, to start a trade war with one of our most valuable (speaking of oil) allies, and released quite a windy with regard to shale oil, another thing I’m sure he knows absolutely nothing about, claiming the United States has $15 trillion worth of oil held in her mountains. Given that there is only $2 trillion of currency in circulation in the entire world, that’s quite a find.
In that same week, I personally discovered $47 trillion worth of clean air in Montana alone, and — it was a really good week — $225 trillion of clean, clear, fresh water, free of any fracking contaminants whatsoever.
Is it too soon to begin using the i-word? I don’t believe so. Were a transatlantic madman — say, in North Korea — to begin seeking, through nuclear attack or cyber warfare, to seize and transfer our nation’s assets, the America I know and grew up in would respond with muscular force.
Where is a state legislature that will freeze, or seize, Trump’s assets — fighting fire with fire, using diplomatic means — as we would with any enemy of democracy?
It is not too soon to think of impeachment.
It’s one thing for a nation to be angry and elect a president with a minority of votes. It’s quite another for a country to cut off its nose and then begin feeding parts of itself — the best parts — to the sharks.
This president’s behavior is that of an addict. The addiction here is narcissism, which is old and tired to the rest of us already, a reality-television channel that was briefly amusing but is no way to run a country. A few will get richer along the way, but the country will be wrecked.
Impeach Trump. We can’t sustain four years of this kind of exhausting and destructive buffoonery, turmoil, drama, circus.
Make America sane again. Let Republicans and Democrats return to the old dynamic dialogue, the internecine battles that were once the curious experiment and fabric of democracy.
This is something else. This is naked fascism. This is an attack on our country, yet still, many sleep.
Note: the opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of High Country News, its board or staff. If you'd like to share an opinion piece of your own, please write Betsy Marston at firstname.lastname@example.org.