Sunday, February 16, 2014

Gun totin' in schools, El Rancho Avalancho and red state energy bound for blue state

Some things that irked and/or entertained me this past week:

The state legislature is in session. Opening day included the Gov's State of the State speech, a "legalize pot" march by Wyoming NORML and performances in the House chambers by WY Poet Laureate Echo Roy Klaproth and the UW Collegiate Chorale. The week was filled with debates over Medicaid expansion, gun-totin' in schools, minimum wage increases, early childhood education, more guns, Common Core, increases to hunting and fishing licenses, a decrease in coal taxes and, of course, more gun-totin'. Most bills were killed early so the Housers and Senators can get on to the issue at hand, the budget. Only three weeks left to do so. The big surprise is that Sen. Chris Rothfuss (D-Laramie) fashioned a bipartisan bill on Medicaid expansion that still is in the mix. Way to go, Sen. R! This is a miracle in this Obamacare-bashing state.

From the library shelves: "This Land was Made for You and Me (But Mostly Me)" by Bruce McCall and David Letterman. Yes, that's the same David Letterman as seen on late-night TV. And illustrator Bruce McCall was one of the Scots-Irish geniuses behind the rise of National Lampoon, the others being Michael O'Donoghue and P.J. O'Rourke. Letterman is a millionaire with a Rocky Mountain getaway in Montana. I'm not sure about McCall's portfolio, but it's intriguing that Dave and Bruce would turn their comedic sights on the super-rich and their favorite playgrounds in the West, places like Jackson Hole. This from the book's intro:
It all began a decade and a half ago or so in the far American West, in Montana and Wyoming and those other states that appropriated and misspelled the Native American words for "Big Empty Space" and "Much Bigger Empty Space"; there, a few daring pioneers from the pharaonically wealthy top crust embarked on a spree, powered by lust, inspired by a vision only they could see.

Because it takes more than money, privilege and cronies in high places to ransack nature's bounty for the private pleasure of a privileged few, in what poets might call acts of sublime idiocy (as if anyone would ask poets their opinion!), in other words, obliterating what always was, and making out of it what never existed before, then flanking it with armed guards and electric fences and Rottweilers.
The writer/illustrator duo go on to explore "the only Montana hunting lodge with its own indoor airport,"  El Rancho Avalancho in Idaho -- the world's first skiable mansion, and "the biggest goddamn bison in Wyoming." During the legislature's first week, it was good to once again laugh at the humor of wretched excess.

Speaking of wretched excess.... A Los Angeles Times story excerpted in my local paper today is about the largest wind ranch in creation, coming soon to Carbon County. Big enough to fit all of L.A. inside of it, the 500-sqare-mile ranch -- owned by gazillionaire Philip Anschutz -- will be home to 1,000 wind turbines and the starting point for a transmission line to carry all the energy to California. Cali needs clean energy and Wyoming breaks wind incessantly -- a match made in heaven. The irony in all of this is that the the most blue of blue states, with more enviros per square mile than anywhere else on earth, will be getting its energy from the most red of red states, a place that keeps its energy rates the lowest in the nation by burning coal, the dirtiest energy-creating substance there is.

California has until 2020 to ensure that one-third of its energy comes from renewable resources. Meanwhile, its cities are clouded in a haze that travels from pollution generated by coal-burning plants in China. Some of that coal comes from Wyoming's Powder River Basin. Wyoming currently is working with officials in Washington to build new ports to ship more coal to China.

The world is indeed an odd place.

No comments: