Now that the last of the Christo-fascist jingoes has left the Malheur National Wildlife refuge in Oregon, the feds should make a fast and thorough inventory of the damage done there and then use every facet of the law to collect indemnity from them.
Like the Texas indictment of the nutsos who put together the fradulent video of Planned Parenthood leaders, extracting full payment for damages from the so-called “occupiers” would amount to poetic justice. Most of our collection laws were crafted to empower banks, corporations, predatory lenders and other legalized thieves to squeeze every last nickel of filthy lucre out of the beaten-down public. How gratifying it would be to use them to recoup what the public lost in the “occupation” of land that belongs to the public — to you and me.
Damage to or theft of native American artifacts, illegal roads and fences, burned or degraded documents, lost usage days to would-be visitors, lost work-time for refuge employees — all of these and other costs to the public should be accounted for and collected, by garnishment, impoundment of assets, fines and all the other legal means collection agents use in their harassment of vulnerable consumers.
The depredations of the jingoes during the 40 days of Malheur can be assigned a fair market value in dollars. What cannot be measured is its more insidious, long-term damage in fueling the vast right-wing conspiracy to place federal public land in the hands of state government, making it easier for extraction industries and other polluting profiteers to get their greedy hands on it, and shovels under it.
The Koch Brothers’ massive virus, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) , is on the case. ALEC wrote and engineered the passage of the Transfer of Public Lands Act in Utah in 2012. It required transfer of vast tracts of our land — yours and mine — to the state by 2015. This did not take place, of course, because the United States Constitution clearly states that when federal and state laws conflict, the federal statute must prevail.
Right-wing state legislators introduced 36 ALEC land-grab laws in western states in the first six months of 2015. According to the Center for Western Priorities, only six of these passed. Meanwhile, Koch money and ALEC resources are funneling into a complex web of court cases on behalf of anti-government whackos like Cliven Bundy.
Recently, the Koch octopus engaged a high-powered law firm to research new, untried arguments for taking our land — yours and mine — away from us and the agencies (like the BLM, National Park Service etc.) that manage them on our behalf.
These people are smart and unprincipled. They know that the new ploys aren’t likely to fly in the appellate courts of the West, especially the Ninth Circuit. They’re trying now to plot a way to fast-track a land-grab case to the Supreme court, where they know they can count on a 5-4 majority.
Meanwhile, the Bundy gang and all the defendants in the Oregon mutiny are assured of Koch money and resources for their legal fees. Reimbursing us for their shenanigans there would be chump change now.
The Battle of Malheur Refuge isn’t over. In fact, it has just begun.