Yeah, yeah, great. I wonder how much I can get for it...
What kind of venal, soulless worm can look at the natural beauty of a Yellowstone or a Yosemite and see only dollar signs? Why, a Bush appointee, of course.
Most of us think of America's national parks as everlasting places, parts of the bedrock of how we know our own country. But they are shaped and protected by an underlying body of legislation, which is distilled into a basic policy document that governs their operation. Over time, that document has slowly evolved, but it has always stayed true to the fundamental principle of leaving the parks unimpaired for future generations. That has meant, in part, sacrificing some of the ways we might use the parks today in order to protect them for tomorrow.This is yet another revolting example of the Bush Republican mindset, wherein all public resources exist solely as potential plunder for the Republicans and their corporate cronies. See also: the public airwaves, Social Security, the tax code, and the defense budget. They are like selfish infants with absolutely no thought for the long term, no thought for the public good, no consideration that there are values beyond money (well, okay, they do have homophobia, I'll give 'em that). Laws, regulations, and the Constitution itself are merely inconvenient obstacles between them and more sweet, sweet profit.
Recently, a secret draft revision of the national park system's basic management policy document has been circulating within the Interior Department. It was prepared, without consultation within the National Park Service, by Paul Hoffman, a deputy assistant secretary at Interior who once ran the Chamber of Commerce in Cody, Wyo., was a Congressional aide to Dick Cheney and has no park service experience.
Within national park circles, this rewrite of park rules has been met with profound dismay, for it essentially undermines the protected status of the national parks. The document makes it perfectly clear that this rewrite was not prompted by a compelling change in the park system's circumstances. It was prompted by a change in political circumstances - the opportunity to craft a vision of the national parks that suits the Bush administration.
Mr. Hoffman's rewrite would open up nearly every park in the nation to off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and Jet Skis. According to his revision, the use of such vehicles would become one of the parks' purposes. To accommodate such activities, he redefines impairment to mean an irreversible impact. To prove that an activity is impairing the parks, under Mr. Hoffman's rules, you would have to prove that it is doing so irreversibly - a very high standard of proof. This would have a genuinely erosive effect on the standards used to protect the national parks.The pattern prevails throughout this 194-page document - easing the rules that limit how visitors use the parks and toughening the standard of proof needed to block those uses.
There are other issues too. Mr. Hoffman would explicitly allow the sale of religious merchandise, and he removes from the policy document any reference to evolution or evolutionary processes. He does everything possible to strip away a scientific basis for park management. His rules would essentially require park superintendents to subordinate the management of their parks to local and state agendas. He also envisions a much wider range of commercial activity within the parks.
In short, this is not a policy for protecting the parks. It is a policy for destroying them.
America has turned into the rich, oblivious widow whose husband always took care of the finances, and the Republicans are the sleazy lawyer robbing her blind because she's too far gone to notice or care. Perhaps we Democrats are like the concerned relatives she won't listen to because she thinks we're the ones trying to take her money. Oh, the irony.