smoke ‘em if you got ‘em

The demonization of “liberals,” so central to righty discourse, has successfully produced, through careful effort, a disturbing, vindictive, and self-defeating “activism” amongst its knuckle-dragging followers.  Long conditioned to believe that if liberals care about it, it must be destroyed, the right has decided that our planet is next on its enemies list.  Of course, this strategy is music to the ears of wealthy donors for whom trashing the Earth is all in a day’s work, and not coincidentally threw open the spigot to lush donations for the Republican Party, so, next thing you know, it became unAmerican to care about, well, America.  Not to sound like a fancy-pants elitist though, but just because liberals use the toilet, does that mean that right-thinking Americans must therefore shit the bed?  Well, yes.

The first manifestation that I witnessed of this nifty trick in action was during the debate here in the early 90′s about how old-growth logging, a profitable venture that had succeeded by that time in driving the spotted owl to the brink of extinction, was threatened not by the fact that all the trees were gone, which they were, but by a bunch of hippies who liked owls.  To the timber town rednecks, who’d spent a generation voting down school levies since book-learning was unnecessary for pulling green chain at the mill, it wasn’t the rapacious short-sightedness of the timber companies nor the exporting of raw lumber to Asia that was causing the mills to close down, but rather some danged googly-eyed bird only liberals cared about.  Even then, the disappearance of old growth had already forced the mills to retool for smaller, second growth trees, being industrially mowed down from the ceaseless monocultural tree farms that already stretched from Tillamook to Bandon.  But somehow, it was only the few thousand acres of the absentmindedly left standing ancient forest, the final habitat for what few owls remained, that mattered.  Thus, when the Dixie Chicks were still in high school, folks out here were throwing “Spotted Owl Barbeques,” trying proudly and defiantly to kill the last owls before some pointy-headed liberals took the chainsaws away.

Dwindling salmon runs, resulting from subsidized hydropower and agriculture and the conversion of the Columbia and Snake rivers into slackwater barge canals created another well-funded pro-extinction movement amongst developers, farmers, and industries that were riding the gravy train of habitat destruction, while the fish were being trucked on the freeway to the sea, since the rivers were no longer available for such an antiquated purpose.  Suddenly, the Bush administration declared that the sanctity of Lewiston, Idaho’s 30-year old “seaport” was inviolable as holy writ, and Karl Rove even finagled a water diversion to farmers from the Klamath River in time for the 2004 election, which killed 60,000 salmon, but got Bush a lot of face-saving votes in the tumbleweed territory of a state he lost anyway.  And the righties cheered.  Fuck, yeah.

Right about the time Michelle Obama was opening a sternly-worded letter from The Mid America CropLife Association that took her to task for doing something so radically unsound as to grow vegetables organically, when everyone knows that dousing one’s arugula with the latest incarnations of DDT and Napalm was the American Way, the Redstaters and their tooth deprived half-brothers in trailer parks across America were crowing about how much energy they were going to waste for Earth Hour Saturday night.

In the creepy, unfunny game of small-dicked one-upsmanship to which all righty diatribes inevitably descend, the usual suspects all howled and crowed about how they were going to fire up their cars, boats, blowtorches, and meth cookers to full blast just to show those Gore-sodden commies a thing or two about America.  Most, if not all, pointed out the fortuitous coincidence that their War on Christmas lights were still up, and need only be plugged in.  Nyeah, nyeah, nyeah, that’s really showin’ em.  And when the bills come, they’ll be striking another blow for Free Enterprise.

Their grandchildren will surely thank them.


  1. heru-ur says:

    Another nice post.

    I would ague or quibble on a few points, but I’ll just ask you a simple question.

    How much of the woodland that you are talking about was private land and how much was “public” land? (perhaps laying a sneaky libertarian trick)

    • cocktailhag says:

      Well, from Tillamook to Bandon, it’s pretty much just a Christmas tree farm, so obviously neither public nor private land was protected at all. The remaining old growth chunks, few of which are larger than a dozen suburban back yards, were by that time mostly in federal hands.
      Many of the private owners were uninterested in “harvesting,” mostly because there was too little left to make much money, but it became the usual corporate push to go for the last dime, so the battle was fought on “principle.”

  2. heru-ur says:


    I was sitting with my dad back when he was alive and watching some special on TV that was showing how the evil companies were despoiling the country. This was in the mid 70s and in Tennessee.

    I was irate! I was telling him how they ought to string up the CEOs and only then give ‘em a trial. Then my Democratic Union President steel worker dad ask me if I had ever noticed that I lived a few minutes away from one of the most polluted land in our country. “What?”, I cried.

    He was talking about Oak Ridge, Tennessee and he was very correct — most of the worst information came out years later. He told me that the biggest polluters were government and always would be.

    So far, the old man is batting a pretty good average.

    My Navy brother tells stories that make me wonder how come the navy has not killed all life in the ocean. Not from lack of trying have they failed.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Failure is never permanent. They’ll succeed some day. If you ever want to get all anti-government with me, let’s talk about the Army Corps and the Bureau of “Reclamation.” (!) I could recommend a few books you might like a lot.

  3. Karen M says:

    CinH: I think you’ve connected some dots that until now had not yet been explicitly stated: The reason that the GOP/RWA’s/Etc. cannot believe in the theory of Evolution is because they already subscribe to their ideal of Extinction. See! How simple it all is…

    • cocktailhag says:

      James Watt, Reagan’s interior secretary, said it didn’t matter what happened to the earth, because, “Jesus is coming.” Or something like that. So, strip mining, mountaintop removal, extinctions… worthy of a big and unusually literal, “Aw, Hell.”
      I happen to know that coyotes are anything but endangered…. But do you think the Republicans will get Sarah Palin a polar bear coat for 2012?

  4. rmp says:

    Hag, your shit on the bed comment inspires me to relate a green toilet story that I heard today on NPR while out jogging. It seems that Boeing in El Segundo CA is really helping the community and CA with their very serious expensive, short supply of water. They are installing toilets that have a green handle. The green is to remind everyone at Boeing to think green and turn off lights and recycle etc. But the color is not the real handle on the story, it’s the dual flush thing that is so economically efficient.

    When you have to pee you flush 1.2 gallons of water and when you shit, you push down and use 1.6 gallons of water. Boeing said they would save $785,000 in a year through these choices and because El Segundo would save dollars, the price of water would go down for Boeing that the city has to charge. They are also experimenting with dry urinals that require no water, but expect that it will be hard to break men of their old habit of something…, maybe the joy of hearing water run, NPR left that part out. NPR did suggest that if the urinal was made to look like a tree trunk, the dry thing might catch on better.

    Actually, I remember a period during my tour at Yokota AB in Japan, during the seventies when the price of oil/gas was very high and our base commander went on a very serious campaign to conserve energy. It made me aware of how much we waste energy just by leaving unnecessary lights on. Obama is right that we could save a lot of energy just by thinking. Of course those nuts that you are writing so eloquently about, do not understand thinking so maybe free beer and strippers could be awarded for saving energy. Do you have any other ideas how we could reach these idiots? Idiots doesn’t really describe them because they must have to do some thinking to come up with their stupid, disgusting logic.

    • rmp says:

      I forgot to say that you push up for the pee.

    • cocktailhag says:

      In my business, which obviously involves building a lot of bathrooms, I get into this subject a lot. I think the 1/2 thing is good, but if there’s space, a waterless urinal would be better. Of course, when I’m talking about these subjects with clients, I always drag potty humor right in by way of screening, so I get to find out all sorts of things. I always get a laugh when I say, well, I want the #3 option, which will require 6.8 gallons and a Northrop-Grumman exhaust fan, with the floor drain and 6″ waste line optional.
      I bet we could get hookers to help fight urban light pollution…..
      I do have a lot of ideas about this, being a 20-year veteran of the lighting and building industries; we do things in extraordinarily wasteful and impermanent ways, saddling those next with crumbling crap, costs, and waste.
      I may do a thing soon about how are building codes, which require a 20 year life on materials here in the US, should be more like the 100 year life required elsewhere in the civilized world.

      • rmp says:

        How much more space does the dry urinal take and how does it work.?

        • cocktailhag says:

          They only require a drain line and the normal space you’d need for a urinal, but I like the ones with a bit of water spray. (especially during asparagus season…) The technology is pretty new. I haven’t done a waterless one yet, and have only done a little reading. Working with other peoples (drastically reduced) money, you can only do so much.
          I’ve just always liked the urinal idea because it makes domesticated heterosexuality so much easier for everybody.

  5. Jim White says:

    So then, the reason that they are against solar power is that they hate the light of day (except during Earth Hour, of course)?

    I’m in the process of reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma. It presents an interesting contradiction on this front. The idea of organic food really got a boost when people started thinking about all the industrial chemicals we put on our crops. But “success” has changed things a great deal. Most of the organic produce sold in the US now is produced on a very small handful of very large farms in California, with the result that practices there are virtually as industrial as on the farms that use synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. There is no disputing that this process results in a lot less nasty stuff being spread on the crops, but the overall energy savings is only 4%. I think those sneaky RWA’s have hijacked organic food and made it as wasteful as conventional! If we are truly interested in sustainability, how do we get back to a much more localized system of production and distribution?

    • cocktailhag says:

      That’s exactly why I think this astroturf group took such offense at Michelle. She was doing it herself. Everyone knows Americans don’t pull weeds. We have people to do that.
      They don’t want people to see how easy and rewarding it is to grow their own food, or if they can’t, run to the farmer’s market and taste a tomato that isn’t a red tennis ball. If that kind of thing got out of hand, it could cause a bunch of hippie backtalk Big Ag won’t put up with.
      (The farmer’s market just opened here, right in the park downstairs. It’s my favorite day of the year.)

  6. Karen M says:

    When I was still married to my first husband, we had a garden, that he kept tilling larger, and planting more, with the expectation that I would willingly keep weeding it. However, I was reading Ruth Stout’s “How to have a green thumb wihout an aching back.” (She didn’t even want a compost heap. She just tucked all of the waste underneath the mulch.) He was not amused.

    Years later, while I was married to my second husband, we had a garden that was on a city plot, and at least a half-hour’s drive away. We chose there because we had friends with a plot there, too. Until they moved to Saratoga.

    At some point, we went to a talk by one of the AG people at the Nature Center (site of the city plot), and I nearly fell on the floor, when I heard his two rules for gardens:

    1. Don’t plant a garden larger than what your wife will weed.

    2. Make sure your garden is close enough to home to make it worth your while, and so you can pick fresh produce daily.

    What a joke on me! I’ve never been very good at picking out (lasting) husband material. ;~)

    I was partner in a couple of nice gardens, though.

    • cocktailhag says:

      My buddy Bob in Seattle, with his 2800 sf roof garden, took up growing food last year and was amazingly successful, and the rest of the garden gloried in the attention. I have neither sun nor dirt, but I highly recommend it to anyone who does. And it’s FREE! How can you beat that, despite the fact that it’s only sort of true?

      • Karen M says:

        Back in the day, there was an architectural firm in Philly that also had a rooftop garden. I don’t remember all of the particulars now (it’s been so long since I was in that milieu) but I seem to recall something about their being too much dirt (i.e., weight!) on the rooftop for the strucural support. I think it was all carried up by hand, too, but I could be mistaken. (Maybe I can find a link about it.)

        • cocktailhag says:

          Well, I designed Bob’s to be low-maintenance, but since it was so huge and exposed, that turned out to be only sort of the case. At one point, he had thought about putting a spa up there, and we consulted with the engineers, and the structure could take a surprising amount of weight. I used it all, sister. There are hundreds of containers up there. I think there are pictures of it on the home page, under “what, me work.”

          • Karen M says:

            I found the photos. Very impressive. I’d love to have a garden like that.

            In fact, I’d love it if we could have one at work, but I don’t think that’s in the cards right now. We’ve been undergoing remediation for a flood that started on the 11th floor and spread down (irregularly) to the 1st floor. Fortunately for me, my office is on the other side of the building, so I was unaffected.

            I can just hear the reaction, if I were to suggest putting a bunch of dirt and water up on the roof. Plants or no plants. ;~)

          • cocktailhag says:

            Thanks for looking, Karen. I know my photos are kind of lame and confusing. I do love that garden, though, which will be ten years old this summer, and with the brightly lit palms, you can see it from all over town, even from the Space Needle. I’m of course in favor of as many roofs as possible being devoted to greenery, particularly as I look out across the lovely park at acres of equipment-cluttered tar beaches. The roof “garden” on the top of my building, which is only about half the size of Bob’s, was recently refurbished with new floor, drainage, railings, and furniture. And one scraggly rose bush. It’s the lamest thing I’ve ever seen.
            Lots of new buildings here have “green” roofs, primarily for insulation and stormwater absorption; encouraged by building codes that seek to preserve sewer capacity, having them serve as recreational spaces is secondary, which is something of a pity. As challenging as they are for a gardener, with their high winds and baking sun, they are great “found” spaces, and satisfy the basic human desire to scale a commanding height and look down.

  7. Karrsic says:

    Reminds me of Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion.

  8. Casual Observer says:

    On the up side, Ted Stevens is no longer on the endangered species list. Why? In part, because he’s old:

    “NPR reports that Holder decided to drop the case because of Stevens’ age, the fact that he is no longer in the Senate and as a means to send a message to federal prosecutors that misconduct will not be tolerated.”

    • cocktailhag says:

      That’s right. I keep forgetting that the way to prevent future misconduct is to excuse previous misconduct. Maybe the Spain Six will suddenly be beset by an attack of old age, too.

  9. JoeMommaSan says:

    pulling green chain

    Definitely in the running for the worst three hours of my working career, at Roseburg Lumber in 1976. It was just sorting the veneers used to make plywood sheets, but I got more messed up (scratches, scrapes, gouges, splinters) in that three hours than three years most other places. Finally said screw it and walked at break time. Even the nine bucks an hour (damn good money in ’76) wasn’t worth it.

    You have to be crazier than Dick Cheney to work in a mill, and twice that crazy to work as a lumberjack.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I was delivering the Oregonian at that time, which was miserable, but at least not dangerous. All of those industries; mining, meatpacking, milling, canning… seem created to chew up humans while trashing the environment. What a perfect “base” for… the Republicans? Whatever. Talk about voting against one’s own interests. Misery loves Lars Larson and Rush.