October - December, 2017
THE G.O.M.It seems that the THUNDERBEAR Readership is suffering from Trump fatigue.
Readers have told your kindly editor that they didn't want to read ANYTHING, good or bad, about Donald J. Trump. They do not wish to be reminded of his existence.
Readers tell the Christian Bureaucrat that they would much prefer that THUNDERBEAR concentrate on NPS and environmental matters and avoid reminding them of Donald Trump.
This is heartbreaking.
Like other satirists such as Stephen Colbert and Alec Baldwin, your editor regards Trump as a gift from God. With Trump, the satire virtually writes itself. Trump is a satirical work free environment! The man is a vicious, ignorant thug who fancies himself a statesman. He has no redeeming features! EVERYONE can look down on him! Except for his cast iron base of supporters, everyone DOES look down on him. He resembles everyone's "Uncle Fred"; the one that shows up drunk at Thanksgiving dinner, tells obscene stories, insults the guests and frightens the children.
Making fun of Donald Trump is like shooting fish in a barrel; there's not much sport in the game, but it certainly is fun and easy.
Now, you don't have to be a senator from Arizona to detect that there is something mighty strange about the 45th president of the United States. Trump has a Narcissist compulsion to upstage anybody and anything; even an eclipse of the Sun.
The Solar Eclipse?
Trump was noted observing the Solar Eclipse without the use of protective glasses; staring directly into the sun.
A reporter asked Trump's spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, how he could do this?
Sarah deadpanned "The President may have superhuman powers that we are not aware of".
Well, neighbors, your editor can't compete with that sort of hubris from the Administration. (Oh well, maybe God will think of something!)
Therefore, in keeping with the wishes of our readers, we will no longer discuss the Trump administration unless the NPS or the environment is directly involved. To avoid further distress, Trump will be referred to as "The G.O.M" (The Great Orange Menace) rather than "The President".
THE MODEST PROPOSAL REVISITEDA rainy day is often causing for reverie and reflection, neighbors.
It was just such a recent day, full of autumn leaves and driving rain that caused your editor to stay indoors and contemplate the past and future.
I took a look at issue #1 of THUNDERBEAR to see if it contained a load of wisdom or simply a load of something else
THUNDERBEAR has been around the National Park Service for some 39 years, beginning with Issue #1, April-May, 1978.
It is the oldest continuously published alternative newsletter in the Federal government, providing relief from deadly boring memos from WASO.
So, did the THUNDERBEAR of nearly 40 years ago stare into the future like a bureaucratic Nostradamus and predict what was to become reality?
We shall therefore revisit a topic from Issue #1.
Now neighbors, let us fast forward to the present.
Alas! While marijuana has been decriminalized in most of the states, the Federal government still considers Marijuana to be a Schedule One restricted drug and has draconian punishments for those who possess and use it. Though the federal law is seldom enforced, unless you are a real pain in the okole (It might be fair to warn NPS visitors at the entrance station that Uncle Sam still considers possession of Marijuana a punishable sin and that there will be no viewing of Grand Canyon or Yosemite Valley through Cannabis goggles.) Needless to say, an NPS employee who tests positive for the "Killer weed will be discharged. (Your kindly editor has yet to experience "Reefer Madness" and has no intention of doing so.)
Sadly enough, Marijuana was not made a monopoly of the Native American Peoples, nor did the Land & Water Conservation Fund get a cut of the profits. (Surprisingly, for whatever reason, the tobacco industry was unable to gain entry into the burgeoning Marijuana industry; something for which we should be grateful.)
So, could the tribes and the parks have made money off the Marijuana? Trade?
Damn straight, neighbors!
At present, there are four states that permit the sale of Marijuana for recreational use (None of this hokum about fighting lower back pain with medicinal Marijuana!) These states are Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Alaska. All these states had the good sense to tax the product and require hefty fees for being a licensed dealer.
The 2015 Marijuana tax revenues for Colorado and Washington are now available. (Oregon and Alaska have not completed a tax cycle with legal weed on board.)
Colorado received $135 million in Marijuana tax revenue, while the state of Washington gained $70 million by taxing the sinful vegetable in the year 2015.
Now you can make money by taxing prostitution or armed robbery. Are not these states selling themselves to Satan for cheap and easy tax revenue?
Your editor, The Christian Bureaucrat, recently investigated Colorado and Oregon for signs of moral decay and found nothing observable.
More importantly, THE CATO INSTITUTE, a reliably Conservative think tank (They would like to privatize the National Parks, among other things) also took a look at Washington/Colorado morals and work ethic.
In a report called "A Dose of Reality", CATO found little amiss in the weed states except for a deplorable tendency to vote Democratic.
Sadly, THUNDERBEAR must decry the loss of hundreds of well paying Reservation jobs in the growing, processing and marketing of Marijuana, plus the millions of dollars to be shared with the Land & Water Conservation Fund to adequately fund the National and State Park.
Ah well! It is to be hoped that Colorado will spend its extra $135 million in a fruitful manner.
STATUESStatues are a very concrete way of honoring a cause or an individual, that's why we have so many of them.
As noted, some statues are generic everywoman or everyman, honoring what seemed at the time, a Sacred Cause.
Problems arise when the cause or the individual goes out of style or becomes "politically incorrect."
At present, there are some 14,000 marble or bronze statues of Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Communist Revolution scattered about the former Soviet Union. In retrospect and with 100-year hindsight, the Revolution seems to have been a resoundingly bad idea.
So what to do with all the statues of Lenin in approximately 600 different poses? There was "Lenin exhorting the Workers", "Lenin talking to children", "Lenin lecturing the sailors"," Lenin at the Finland Station", "Lenin addressing the First Soviet" and so on. (What an incredible busybody he must have been!)
Since the statues are works of art (Consider the 600 poses!) , they should not be destroyed. The Russian solution was to herd the statues together in sculpture gardens complete with footpaths, flowers and foliage. Russians who were a bit bored with Communism and its architects could avoid these gardens.
The Russian solution may be key to the Confederate statue problem in the U.S. Most Southern cities and towns have one or more statues honoring the Confederate cause. There were several problems with this: Most historians now concur with General Grant (admittedly a biased source) that the Confederate cause "Was, I believe, one of the worst for which people ever fought and one for which there was the least excuse."
Most Americans (but not all) would agree that we should not support a racist heritage. (Which brings us to the second problem: Most of the Confederate memorials are located on public property, usually the county court house square.) This means that a Black citizen might feel certain trepidation in doing his legal business in a courthouse flanked by statues of Robert E. Lee and Bedford Forrest. It would seem that the Black taxpayer deserves a vacation from Confederate hagiography.
But should the statues be destroyed?
Of course not. Many of the statues commemorate family members and are thus a comforting link to the past, either in the form of an unknown Confederate soldier or a representation of an actual historical figure.
It's just that they should not be a reminder and a reinforcement of slavery and Jim Crow.
Like the statues of Lenin, the Confederate statues could be moved to a private place where they can be revered and protected by people who have an interest in them.
What private place?
Actually, there are quite a few of them. They would be the historic plantation homes scattered throughout the South. They are managed by trusts or foundations, but are still privately owned. In most cases, the grounds are extensive enough to support a sculpture garden composed of Confederate statues donated or purchased from the surrounding area.
"But isn't this erasing history?"
Nope! History doesn't erase. It happened. However, history is portable.
"But the President said that if we start taking down Confederate statues where would it end? Would George Washington be next?"
First, you have to be very careful in interpreting what this President says.
Generally speaking and as a rule of thumb, statues remain in public if (A) The majority of the citizens in a free country agree that the subject was, whatever his/her faults, praiseworthy and meritorious (George Washington) or (B) harmless (Teresa De La Perra).
None of the descendants of Benedict Arnold, Lord Cornwallis, or the present queen, have demanded that the statue of George Washington in London's Trafalgar Square be taken down.
Most Americans are well aware of the shortcomings of some of the Founding Fathers on the subject of slavery. The key point being that these founders, while benefiting from slavery were not interested in extending it or even preserving it. The same could not be said of those who wrote the Confederate Constitution and raised an army to support slavery.
There are other objectionable statues:
The various fin de sicle statues of Christopher Columbus, donated and erected by Italian-American societies, are vandalized on a regular basis, usually with symbolic red paint. A more confident generation of Italian Americans might prefer to substitute a statue of Leonardo De Vinci for the genocidal Genoan.
Statue wars are vexing to the National Park Service because it owns many of these statues and is caught in the crossfire between various rancorous factions.
"How can the NPS honor that murderous fascist!" snarls one partisan group.
"He was only defending States Rights!" Complains the opposite partisans.
Now the NPS does not like controversy; it's bad for appropriations. It desires only to be left alone and to do its job.
When the NPS looks at a statue, it does not see racism or genocide, it sees curatorial problems: How best to prevent oxidation of the bronze alloy or how to remove graffiti from marble; these are the important questions.
Consider the case of Brigadier General Albert Pike, CSA.
Now Albert was not in the first string of Confederate generals, not even close. True, like most Confederate General Officers, he WAS a bit eccentric, a trait that provided the Confederates a significant tactical edge over their plodding and unimaginative opposite numbers.
Though born and raised in the North, Pike had spent enough time in the South to be a convert to the antebellum Southern way of thinking. He had the zeal of a convert and a will to win, which, unfortunately for the Southern Cause, was not coupled with military ability.
True, he had been a Captain in the Mexican War, but that experience was not the reason for his amazing entrance as a Brigadier General with the Confederate forces. It seems that in his capacity as a lawyer in frontier Arkansas, he had been legal council for the Cherokee and others of the "Five Civilized Tribes" who had been forcibly deported to "The Indian Territory."
He was a talented lawyer and won a number of cases for the tribes which did not endear him to the white population, but gave him considerable influence among the Native Americans of the Indian Territory. Jefferson Davis thought he could be useful in raising several regiments for the Confederacy from the tribes, hence the sudden promotion to Brigadier General.
Pike led his 2,000 Indians in the crucial battle of Pea Ridge; a battle that would determine the fate of Missouri. The Indians were initially successful, but later broke under artillery fire and could not be reorganized and melted away.
Pike resigned his commission and led an uneventful later career as a businessman and a very active pillar of the Scottish rite of the Masons.
He was such an active Mason that after his death his Scottish rite Brethren decided to honor him with a statue in Washington DC Judiciary Square to be exact.
Thus he is the only Confederate General with a statue in the Nation's capitol.
This enrages liberals who believe Pike was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan (Not proven) and demand that Pike be removed forthwith.
"Now just a darn minute" says the NPS who owns the statue.
First of all, the statue was vetted by the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union Veterans Organization when the statue was erected in 1902. The GAR had no objection as the statue was wearing civilian clothes. Pike was being commemorated as an exemplary Mason by the Scottish rite who was paying for the statue, and not for his less than successful role as a Confederate General.
Finally, according to the NPS, the statue had been authorized by an act of Congress and could only be removed by an act of Congress!
Statue wars can be more complicated than we think.
CAN THE DOI AND THE NBA SAVE HUMANITY?You may have heard the Supreme Ruler of North Korea prattling on about his latest toy, a hydrogen bomb.
Now there are those who believe that it is unlikely that Kim Jong UN possesses such a weapon.
Would you like to find out?
You are quite right; there must be some sort of way to defuse this situation without a kindergarten "Show & Tell" which would be fatal to both participants.
Perhaps we should make an effort to find out what, exactly, does Kim Jong Un wants.
With that in mind, your kindly editor made an effort to contact the information service of the Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea.
Now boys and girls, back in the bad old days of the Cold War and the Soviets, the Russian public relations people were quite conciliatory; they would point out that our two nations have much in common, that we both wanted peace and a better world; that we had fought together against a common enemy in "The War Against Fascism," and that our relatively minor differences should not be cause for blowing up the world.
Not so in the case of North Korea. Seconds after I hit the last prompt, my computer screen appeared to dissolve in flames, martial music blared, and a message board exclaimed "WE WILL INCENERATE YOU, MR. THUNDERBEAR!"
I was startled, to put it mildly.
The message board went on to describe all the horrible things the North Koreans were going to do to Thunderbear before incinerating him. I could see I would have difficulty explaining North Korean animosity to the Great Bear.
More importantly, there seemed no way out, no negotiating; the North Koreans seemed enthusiastically resigned to nuclear war.
Clearly we had better change this mind-set.
History teaches that it is best to break the ice with some low level representatives. That's what we did for President Nixon's historic trip to China; first we sent our national ping-pong team (Is there such a thing?); they were roundly trounced, but the ice was broken.
In the case of North Korea, we should first send in the Department of Interior, the National Park Service and, of course, reps from the National Basketball Association.
Their job will be to find out exactly what the North Korean dictator wants and see that he gets the reasonable, negotiable parts.
Ostensibly what Kim Jong UN would like is survival for himself, his family and his regime.
Is that paranoid? Well, not exactly. You see, even paranoids have enemies.
Starting with Lakota chiefs Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull and running down through Emilio Aguinaldo, Augusto Sandino, Jacobo Arbenz, Mohammed Mosaddeq, Patrice Lumumba, Salvatore Allende, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Khadafy, and scores of others who begged to differ with the United States, and thus wound up dead or deposed. Some were good and some were bad, but Kim Jong Un could logically conclude he was not a good insurance risk.
Apparently, Kim feels the need to be self-insured, that is, possess his own stock of nuclear weapons.
He has a point. No one seriously messes with members of the Nuclear Club; The USA, Great Britain, Russia, China, North Korea, Pakistan, France, Israel,and India. An atom bomb is a great deterrent (until recently) and a great bargaining chip (See Iran).
Once they acquired an atom bomb, has anyone dropped out of the Nuclear Club?
Only one. That would be South Africa. The apartheid regime of South Africa had acquired several atom bombs as insurance against outside threats to overthrow White supremacy government in that country.
However, when President Nelson Mandela came to power, he observed that South Africa no longer had any enemies, hence no need for nuclear weapons. So he got rid of them. Just like that.
Unfortunately, Kim Jong Un is not Nelson Mandela.
It is in our interest to assure Mr. Kim that we have no plans for regime change in his country; that our record speaks for itself. We lived in happy (more or less) coexistence with the Soviet A bomb for 68 years, until that empire decided (on its own) that communism was just no fun at all.
The same is true of Red China: We have not meddled in Chinese internal affair since the Reds took over in 1949. (Indeed, President Truman sacked a commanding general who suggested we do otherwise).
"But you did try regime change with us North Koreans! The truculent Mr. Kim might growl.
"That was in your grandfather's time, when you invaded South Korea and we responded. As they say in kindergarten, "You started it!"
This will lead to a discussion of recent Korean history between the Dear Leader and President Moon of South Korea.
Hopefully, this discussion will segue into a discussion of the need for a treaty ending the Korean War and a mutual non aggression peace pact in which both countries forswear any attempt at regime change (Even though both sides privately believe they are right and God is on their side. And thus the United States will extend to North Korea all the courtesies and respect granted to Russia and Red China in Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD).
For its part, North Korea will agree that there is no longer any reason for atomic tests or missile launches over Japanese territory, Guam or toward the American Mainland.
(North Korean threats to "incinerate" Thunderbear will be regarded as moot as the Great Bear is a pure spirit and therefore indestructible.)
Now who will conduct these negotiations?
With the exception of President Moon of South Korea, the negotiators should be relatively low level.
It has been recommended by both President Moon and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the GOM be left at home (Washington Post, 10/19/17).
It is not because Secretary Tillerson noticed that the GOM was a moron. (The Secretary has the greatest respect for America's hardworking morons and firmly supports the Americans with Disabilities Act.)
Rather, it seems that the GOM becomes unhinged during long, complex meetings and might say or do something that is regrettable. In addition, the other side has a participant (Kim) that also is not playing with a full deck and it is deemed prudent to limit the number of nut cases participating in negotiations.
Then there is the matter of Kim Jong Un's kid sister, Kim Jo Jong. The 28-year-old Miss Kim is the apple of her brother's eye and Kim dotes on her.. We know this for a fact as he has not had her murdered as was the case with his half brother and his uncle
Recently, Kim promoted his sister to The Politburo, a very prestigious post in the regime. This means that Miss Kim will very likely participate in the negotiations.
Unlike her brother, Miss Kim has not been hit with the ugly stick and indeed is an attractive young woman.
This might cause the GOM to make an unfortunate comment concerning Miss Kim; resulting in a nuclear exchange. This is the second reason it is preferred that the GOM stay home.
So who would these negotiators be?
How about the five living ex presidents of the United States, and of course, President Moon of South Korea. That should indicate that we are serious.
In addition to President Moon and the five ex presidents, there would be the Director of the South Korean National Park Service and its North Korean counterpart, as well as the Director of the U.S. National Park Service. We should invite the Department of Interior's Dr. Kayla Iacovino, expert on the volcanology of North Korea's Mount Paektu National Park. In addition, we would desire the presence of Harvard's illustrious biologist. Dr. E.O. Wilson.
How come all this national park stuff?
Well, one of Professor Wilson's pet projects is to turn the Korean DMZ into an International Peace Park along the lines of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
The DMZ is 150 miles long and 2.5 miles wide. Because no one was allowed entry since 1953, this cross section of Korean ecology has become one of the great de facto wildlife sanctuaries of the world.
Dr. Wilson suggests a trail running the length of the DMZ. Wheeled vehicles would not be permitted, though camping certainly would be.
Now that Dr. Wilson has our attention, he would like to join the national parks of South Korea and North Korea with wild life corridors to permit the free flow of wildlife (and Korean nationals). This would be particularly true of North Korea's Mount Paektu National Park, which holds an almost mystical hold on all Koreans, all of whom hope to visit it during their lifetime.
The Korean National Parks Project would be a worthwhile step in Dr. Wilson's main project, which is to get half of the Earth's land and water mass under some sort of protection.
According to Wilson's latest book, HALF EARTH, due to recent advances in agriculture, it now possible to raise all the food and fiber needed by human kind and use the other half for nature preserves. In short, no more mass extinctions.
Naturally, Dr. Wilson's dream precludes humankind from doing something stupid like a nuclear exchange.
It may be unlikely that Kim Jong Un would like to be the Korean John Muir, but considering the alternatives, it might be worth asking him.
It may well be that Dr. Wilson's Korean parks idea is too advanced for these jingoistic times, but a Korean War peace treaty and Declaration of no regime change and no first strike, should be attainable.
It would be difficult, but it could be done. The five ex presidents of the United States as well as Michael Jordan, and could show up at Panmunjom, not to beg, but to talk. They would politely point out that as Churchill remarked 'Jaw-jaw is always better than "war-war" ; that while the U.S. would be grievously damaged, but survive, North Korea would be obliterated.
Michael Jordan is our not so secret weapon. When it comes to basketball, Kim Jong Un is a starry eyed, starstruck kid, albeit a murderous one: Meeting Michael Jordan would be regarded as one of the high points of his life. More over, Jordan would be empowered by the National Basketball Association to grant Kim what he has always wanted: An NBA major league franchise in North Korea, The Pyongyang Dragons. Michael Jordan might then be prevailed upon to shoot a few hoops with the Dear Leader.
Between the five ex presidents and Michael Jordan, We should be able to get a Korean War Peace Treaty and non first strike agreement between the concerned parties.
Can Kim Jong Un be trusted? Can The G.O.M. be trusted?
Well, I don't rightly know, neighbors. However, considering the alternatives, it might be worth a try.
THE SAFETY MESSAGE
Ah! You have finally found what you have been looking for! THE SAFETY MESSAGE: The sole part of THUNDERBEAR that you can view on government time on a government computer!
All other THUNDERBEAR content is deeply suspect, particularly during the reign of the current Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke.
Mr. Zinke is on record that he feels he cannot trust at least a third of the employees of the Department of Interior. (Less optimistic Interiorians believe that Mr. Zinke's annoyance rate is considerably higher than one third.)
However, safety is job # 1 in the Department of Interior. Safety is like God and Mom's apple pie; failure to genuflect before safety is met with stern rebuke.
So, here's the SAFETY MESSAGE for Issue #305
How long can you scream or yell?
Not as long as you might think, even if your leg is being chomped by a Grizzly.
Unless you are a trained opera singer, sooner or later your voice will give out in an emergency situation; your cries of "help!" noted only by a passing ground squirrel.
You are going to need a whistle.
Why? Well, because stuff happens. You could get lost or hurt.
This Safety Message is based on a conversation with John Volpe, a guide with the non-profit preservation group PINELANDS ADVENTURE, an excellent environmental group dedicated to the preservation of the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.
So how could you get lost in the woods in New Jersey? Couldn't you just ask where you are at the nearest pizza parlor or gas station?
There aren't any pizza parlors or gas stations in this neck of the Jersey woods. The Pine Barrens is huge: bigger than Yosemite or Grand Canyon. There are roads, but they were put in before the Revolutionary War and they lead to towns that no longer exist. Unlike Yosemite, which has neat metal signs, which tell you exactly how far it is to the next point of interest and the name of that point of interest, the Pine Barrens has very few signs.
So, if you get hurt or lost, and your cell phone doesn't work or doesn't exist, you might like to have a whistle.
Now you know this: A whistle is always listed among the ten basic, needful things you need to carry when you go for a walk in the woods or a paddle on even the most placid of creeks.
But do you have one of these life saving devices attached to your life jacket or daypack? If not, why not?
During our orientation, John related the story of a hiker who had managed to fall off a trail in Yosemite National Park. She crashed down through what must have seemed like several succession zones of chaparral, coming to rest out of sight with a broken leg.
Fortunately, she had her whistle and begins blowing the prescribed series of three short blasts. Rescue was not instantaneous; it took two days before someone heard the whistle.
Now some whistles are more equal than others. You shouldn't just drop by a "Toys R Us" and pick up a kid's whistle. True, it's better than nothing, but why economize on your life?
John Volpe suggested either the "Howler" or its competitor, the Fox 40.
Both whistles are available though REI and other outlets, as well as the omnipresent AMAZON.
The "Howler" sells for around $8.49 for a pack of two whistles (The manufacturer believing you will want one for your Significant Other in the lamentable case that you die). The Fox 40 sells for around the same price.
According to the reviews, the Fox 40 may have the edge. Reviewers state that it takes a real lung full of air to get the "Howler" up to speed, decibel-wise; whereas, the Fox 40 produces a VERY loud sound with relatively little air of effort.
You're kindly, but clumsy editor recalls a recent painful experience.
I was walking a new trail in the regional park behind our house. I tripped over a rock and fell.
On a rock.
I broke three ribs. (Ranger's tip: If you have a choice of a broken arm or broken ribs, take the broken arm; you can always splint the broken arm and the pain will dull; not so with broken ribs, they don't go away.)
The first thing noticed was that breathing was no fun at all. You wanted to do the least amount commensurate with staying alive.
Naturally, a normally busy suburban park was dead empty of humans and I had no cell phone (and no whistle) so I lurched the two miles home like Frankenstein doing a marathon and went to the ER.
With that experience in mind, it struck me that if that Yosemite lady had broken her ribs as well as her leg, and was faced with two days of whistle blowing, she would need the most efficient whistle.
So I opted for the Fox 40.
Due to recent developments, the emergency whistle has indoor uses you may not have considered.
Say you have been assigned to the Washington Office or one of the regional offices in a major metropolitan area.
GSA will have gifted you with a sturdy steel desk with a capacious kneehole. That kneehole will be your salvation if the building collapses.
"But Philadelphia doesn't have earthquakes" you demur.
No, but it may have an atom bomb in the near future.
There will be a few seconds between the shock wave and the failure of the building, allowing you to slide into the kneehole.
You will have prepositioned a case of drinking water in the kneehole (makes a decent foot rest) and taped an emergency whistle, a small LED flashlight, and a pack of dust masks to the sides of kneehole. You will be able to survive a week until rescued and can then help in the search for your regional director or the Secretary.
Best of luck!
PJ Ryan can be reached at: