CVIndependent

Tue12102019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

In a time of questionable candidates and flame wars galore, Alexander Zaitchik has a new book that displays the disarray.

A longform Jedi with roots in the alternative press, the author last surfaced between periodical pieces with Common Nonsense, a graphic look at “Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance” in the Tea Party era. So it’s fitting that his second major project has been released in the middle of such comparable political hysteria.

For those lamenting an apparent widening attention deficit in modern journalism, Zaitchik’s detailed work should come as an informed relief. His latest, The Gilded Rage: A Wild Ride Through Donald Trump’s America, is a hearty bone for long-readers, on either side of the divide, who feel reporters have neglected to communicate the larger stories underpinning Donald Nation domination.

Though his dispatches arrive amidst a dizzying daily variety of Trump coverage, Zaitchik writes clear of the hype to illustrate conditions fomenting today’s anti-establishmentarianism, however superficial or trumped up. We asked about his revelatory travels through the industrial heartland, Southwestern border territories and Appalachian coal country.

This seems like an especially big feat—a book spanning the primaries that comes out before the election. What was the approach?

I jumped on the primary calendar near the middle, in Arizona, and finished with the June votes in New Mexico and California, a few weeks after Trump clinched the nomination in Indiana. I focused on six states representative of Trump’s marquee campaign themes—in Appalachia, the Rust Belt, and along the Mexico Border. Ideally, I would have had a little more time—I filed the last chapter in early July—but the goal was to get it out in time for the general election. This ended up fitting nicely with the idea behind Hot Books, the Skyhorse Publishing imprint of which The Gilded Rage is a part. They’re short, timely books of around 150 pages, edited by historian and Salon.com founder David Talbot.

Your dispatches have been amazingly detailed, and they focus on some elements of the side show that may have been overlooked by other writers. What observations are especially important in your mind for anyone who is really trying to understand the bigger picture high and above the spectacle?

Like everyone else, I’ve basically been swimming in the Trump story since autumn. While traveling for the book, I kept up with the circus, but not because it impacted the work. I was focused on the lives of Trump’s followers, which don’t have much to do with the cable news cycle on a given Tuesday. The animating spirit behind the book is Studs Terkel, the Chicago journalist and oral historian who conducted long biographical interviews with everyday Americans. His books of interviews revealed more about the country, in a vernacular that sometimes approached literature, than 1,000 newspaper editorials (or 2,000 “hot takes”). As I watched the Trump story explode, I thought there was a need for a Terkel approach that let Trump’s supporters explain themselves over the course of many pages, instead of just having a tiny quote box or sound byte.

When I started the project, a lot of stories were coming out that promised readers and listeners a chance to “Meet the Trump Supporters,” or whatever. But when I finished these pieces, I never felt like I’d met anybody. So I decided to go long where everyone was going short. Sometimes I conducted the interviews only after days spent building trust, hanging out, learning something about them. There wasn’t much scientific about my approach, which was the point. The book is intended as a counterpoint to all that.

The kind of data journalism people have come to depend on, if not worship, never felt more useless than during this primary. One, it was wrong in its predictions, over and over. Two, it kept missing the point. You’d see all these articles crunching numbers, like how Trump voters aren’t really that poor compared to some other voting bloc. They split some statistical hair and completely ignore the whale in the water, which is the unquantifiable psychology of pain, insecurity, anger and resentment. I think there’s obviously a role for the data stuff, but in this election, you’re better off getting drunk with a Trump supporter whose town lost its factories and whose nephews are all on heroin. That’s where I think the Trump story is—in all of these individual American stories, many of them tragedies, almost all of them more complicated than plain racism or sexism. I went around and tried to collect some of these stories. I do think they have a certain amount of political explanatory power. But beyond that, the lives of everyday Americans are just interesting—much more interesting than anything I have to say about Donald Trump, or what Donald Trump has to say about his tax returns.

How much other coverage of Trump and his campaign have you been consuming, and do you have any specific or general praises or condemnations?

I respect those (reporters who cover his campaign on a daily basis) a lot. They live and breathe the campaign and have to file stories every day, often more than once. I don’t think I could do it, and somebody has to. That said, there are serious limitations to working that kind of campaign beat. You fly in, go to a rally, get a few quotes, then go back to the hotel and file, and maybe drink with the hack pack, which is mostly made up of middle-class and upper-middle-class people from the same group of elite schools. They all live in D.C. or the Virginia suburbs. The job isn’t really structured in a way that lets them spend much time away from each other or the noise of the news trail.

I often started at the same place as the press corps, usually at a rally. But after they moved on to the next rally, I’d push deeper into the corners of the state and put in time with the people I met. I also couldn’t afford hotels, so I couch-surfed in the communities and neighborhoods of my interview subjects. In West Virginia, I stayed next door to the guy at the center of that chapter. Instead of drinking back at the Charleston Hilton bar, I went to the run-down local Juggalo club in Raleigh County where all the kids were unemployed and on pills or heroin.

Is it your job as a journalist to separate out the right-wing nut jobs from the so-called everyday Americans who are supporting Trump?

I didn’t seek out any kind of Trump voter. I just talked to people and let the chips fall where they did. If people were open to spending time with me and were halfway articulate, they usually ended up in the book. Some of these people were not pleasant; some were small-minded racists; and others were extremely sympathetic and generous in spirit. The Trump voter base—like the country, like individual Americans—is complicated. There were overlapping themes, but after five months of talking to people at length, I struggle with sketching the “average” Trump voter. I would never discount or downplay the racism and “authoritarianism” swimming in Trump’s base, but I also wouldn’t reduce it to those things.

As a native of Massachusetts, what has it been like to see such a significant embrace of Trump here in New England?

Anyone who’s spent time in Massachusetts knows that even the Republic of Cambridge isn’t all Volvo-driving Democratic socialists. The state has a lot of New Hampshire in it, and worse, and the frustrations and anger that Trump has ridden to the nomination are a national phenomenon. I wasn’t that shocked to see Trump win the primary, though I was disappointed. I admit to clinging to the conceit that my home state is a liberal oasis of reason and progressive politics, the Athens of America. Of course, it isn’t.

How thick is your skin? Does any of this bother you anymore, or are you just like somebody who cleans enormous streams of diarrhea out of sewer pipes all day and no longer even shrinks at the stink?

I spend most of my life in liberal enclaves talking to people who think like I do, so I enjoy getting out there and talking to conservatives. Not so much the cruel, bat-shit crazy ones, but most people are pretty cool on a personal level. I think it’s a good exercise in more ways than one, but above all, it’s necessary if you are going to have any clue about what’s happening in this country. You also need to know how to talk to people if you want to help build some kind of broad progressive coalition. While working on the book, I’d sometimes watch recent college grads completely unable to talk politics with a machinist with a high school education. They simply could not hold a conversation. They used jargon, or coils sprang from their eyes if they heard a word they associated with “trigger warnings” in Gender Studies 101. It’s terrifying to see.

You have now written books on Glenn Beck and Donald Trump. Are they comparable? Any striking similarities or differences?

Two greed-head egomaniacs with Messiah complexes. Hopefully Trump crashes and burns the way Beck is currently. But we’ll still have to reckon with what it all means. Trump obviously heralds and signifies much more than just an unlikely one-off in the 2016 primary.

As somebody who already spends a significant amount of time working outside of the country, would you consider moving if Trump wins?

If anything, I’d be more likely to stay in the country under a Trump presidency. Not just out of a sense of civic duty, but also because times would get “interesting,” in the Chinese aphorism sense of the word. But something tells me they’re about to get pretty damn interesting either way.

This piece was originally published in Dig Boston. The author has known Zaitchik for many years, and teaches in the same department as his father at Salem State University.

Published in Literature

On this week's strictly constitutional weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson throws around the term "political correctness"; The K Chronicles listens to some advice from Clint Eastwood; This Modern World eavesdrops on a chat between two millennials; and Red Meat interrupts God at a most inopportune time.

Published in Comics

The Warped Tour returned for its annual appearance at the Fairplex in Pomona on Sunday, Aug. 7.

The 2016 stop represented a huge improvement over last year, thanks to a far-less-stale lineup, welcome layout modifications and stage changes.

Here are some of the musical highlights.

Sum 41

The Canadian pop-punk band, which reached peak popularity in the early 2000s, has seen soaring highs and cratering lows. Those lows included the drama surrounding frontman Deryck Whibley’s four-year marriage to Avril Lavigne, the departure of guitarist Dave Baksh, the exit of drummer/vocalist Steve Jocz, and a trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo—where the band and other civilians needed to be rescued by armored United Nations carriers after being holed up in a war-zone hotel.

On Sunday, Sum 42 played a noon-time set to a large crowd at the Journeys Left Foot Stage. While Dave Baksh has returned to the band, Steve Jocz has not and was replaced by Frank Zummo. Sum 41’s set was epic, to say the least. The band still has a lot of power and energy—as well as quite a large fan base, including teenagers who were toddlers or not even born yet when the group debuted with All Killer, No Filler in 2001.

In case you were wondering, Whibley stated many times during the set that there’s a new album, 13 Voices, coming in October.

Reel Big Fish

When I was in high school in the late ’90s, third-wave ska band Reel Big Fish’s “Sell Out” was all over the radio waves—played to the point where people were sick of it. Well, Reel Big Fish is still around, even though frontman Aaron Barrett is the only remaining original member. The band was a surprise late addition to the lineup, and I wondered what the mostly younger-than-18 Warped Tour crowd would think.

Playing a mid-afternoon set on the Journeys Left Foot Stage, Reel Big Fish started the set with “Everyone Else is an Asshole,” which was … well, appropriate for this particular music festival. Barrett poked fun at the band’s history, stating, “We were very famous in the ’90s” and announcing the band was going to play its hit song … before playing the first 30 seconds of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Team Spirit.” Barrett then said: “Just kidding. That was a Pearl Jam song.” The band did play “Sell Out” early in the set, and included a cover of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” along with “Beer” and a cover of A-Ha’s “Take on Me.” Those latter two songs were featured in the movie BASEketball.

Mother Feather

Independent photographer Guillermo Prieto has an eye for female-fronted bands, so we had to take a peek at this psychedelic-looking indie band that played on the Full Sail University stage. The group offers a sound that includes dance music, psychedelic rock and indie-rock—all rolled up together. This is a band that is on the rise, as evidenced by numerous write-ups and acclaim. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the group at even bigger festivals like Coachella next year.

Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman and the Ernie Ball Stage

Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman appeared on the smaller Ernie Ball Stage late in the afternoon to introduce Justine and the Highs, a band he said he saw in a battle-of-the-bands competition that he believes is in store for bigger and better things. He reminded the crowd that the Warped Tour is where the band Paramore cut its teeth before becoming a huge national act. The point of the Ernie Ball Stage is to offer unsigned local and regional bands a chance to perform for the festival crowd. Lyman was right: Justine and the Highs rocked.

The Miracle Dolls

The Miracle Dolls, hailing from the Morongo Band of Mission Indians reservation in Cabazon, also played on the Ernie Ball Stage later in the day. The band has a stripped-down sound without guitar effects or fancy gimmicks. Influences of Fugazi, The Pixies and Gordon Gano could be heard in the band, fronted by twin sisters Dani and Dezy Doll. 


Some non-music-related things we found interesting:

The Waterslide and Alec Corral of the local band Tribesmen

There’s not a lot of shade at most of the Warped Tour venues—but there is a water slide. Little kids, big kids and adults alike get hosed down before taking a ride down the inflatable slip-and-slide.

Alec Corral, guitarist of the Coachella Valley band Tribesmen, has been with the tour throughout the summer.

“It’s been a lot fun,” Corral said. “I’ve gotten to see a lot of cities, and I never really traveled before. I got to see New York City, Detroit, Chicago and Denver.”

How important is the water slide, considering all of the summer heat?

“It’s very important. We have to keep these kids cool and hydrated, and we don’t want them passing out,” Corral said. “It’s the adults, too. I get to hose down the parents as well.”

Voter Registration

HeadCount.org, a nonpartisan based organization that works with musicians to promote the appeal of voting and participation in democracy, was onsite to register voters. Given the … um, state of the upcoming presidential election, it’s not a surprise that a voter-registration effort had a presence—albeit not as much a presence as during the 2004 Warped Tour, when Fat Mike of NOFX was promoting PunkVoter as a means of voting then-President George W. Bush out of office. (That effort, as you may recall, was not all that successful.)

During the late afternoon, a worker with HeadCount.org told me they’d managed to register about 40 voters so far.

“They’re saying, ‘I don’t like either of these people running, so I’m not even going to vote,’” said the volunteer. Eek.

Cheap or Free Water

Unlike other festivals that charge from $4 to $6 for a bottle of water, the Warped Tour has vendors that sell cold bottled water at just $2 to $3. There was also a station where attendees could refill water bottles at no cost. Considering all of the moshing, crowd-surfing and walking that was going on in the heat, hydration was a must.

Attention-Grabbing Social Campaigns

Nothing is more annoying than when a guy comes out from under a canopy and asks if I want to “take” a copy of his CD after putting it in my hand—and then tells me I need to give him $5 for it.

Ugh. No thank you.

On a more entertaining note, some of the social campaigns were fascinating. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had a tent that simply said “SKIN” on the top, with good-looking male and female models on advertisements outside the tent … promoting the wearing of human skin as jackets and boots. Of course, the products weren’t real, but the effort certainly grabbed one’s attention. You didn’t even know PETA was involved until you asked.

Meanwhile, Truth, the anti-smoking campaign, was encouraging tug-of-wars or and other ridiculous things near its big orange van, where workers/volunteers gave away prizes to spread awareness.

The Warped Tour itself

The only major complaint I have about this year’s edition of the festival involves the weird set times at the Journeys Left Foot Stage. Less Than Jake, a popular ’90s third-wave ska band that headlined the very same stage in 2014, was the first band to play as the gates opened. I previously mentioned how Sum 41 played to a noon crowd.

Still, it was good to see some more impressive names on the schedules. While the days of Bad Religion, Pennywise and NOFX playing the festival are long gone, it was nice to see recognizable names on the bill this year. Last year’s tour offered no such thing.

Kevin Lyman has stated many times before that he’s made adjustments to the Warped Tour so he can attract the teenage demographic while retaining some of the tour’s classic elements. Considering that the Warped Tour is the only one of the national traveling festivals that started in the ’90s—along with OzzFest, Lollapalooza and Lilith Fair—that is still going and is profitable, Lyman is definitely on to something.

Yes, it’s a hard pill to swallow for people my age who don’t get to see the bands we loved back in the day at the current Vans Warped Tour. Well, I had my day at the Warped Tour as a teenager in the ’90s … so it’s now this generation’s turn.

Published in Reviews

On this week's extra-authentic weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson reflects on the Democratic National Convention; The K Chronicles makes friends with Feel Me Up Wilbur; This Modern World offers yet more scenes from a convention; and Red Meat checks on the senses.

Published in Comics

On this week's extra-Trumpy weekly Independent comics page: Red Meat enjoys the beach; Jen Sorenson helps keep America safe; The K Chronicles shares yet more of life's little victories; and This Modern World offers an in-depth Republican National Convention recap.

Published in Comics

On this week's completely non-plagiarized weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World looks at the Donald Trump news cycle; Jen Sorenson is relieved at what she sees regarding the new Ghostbusters; The K Chronicles has an encounter with a friendly kitty; and Red Meat talks politics.

Published in Comics

Before Mike Pence was bestowed the responsibility of being governor of Indiana in 2013, he served six terms in Congress, from 2001-2013.

As the head of the state of Indiana, his political viewpoints have been blindly thrown onto the state within the past few years. (Most notable was his championing of a controversial “religious objections” bill in 2015 that would have allowed discrimination against LGBT individuals.) However, his congressional record contains even more information about his views—and now that Pence is Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick, it’s a good time to take a look at exactly who Mike Pence is, and how he’s voted.

As a Republican member of Congress, Pence strongly opposed the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) and worked to decrease tax hikes. He worked to strongly limit reproductive rights, advocated for conservatism in traditional marriage, voted no on government bailouts and stimulus packages, and voted no for additional federal funding for education, among many other things.

During his time in Congress, Pence worked hard to push a far-right agenda and was known to frequently bring his religious agenda into his political positions.

Regarding marriage, at the 2008 Conservative Political Action Conference, Pence said: “The future of conservatism demands that we stand for the traditional definition of marriage. Marriage was ordained by God and instituted in law. It is the glue of the American family and the safest harbor to raise children. Conservatives must defend traditional marriage by passing the Federal Marriage Amendment.”

Pence voted yes on a constitutional amendment to make same-sex marriage illegal, no on a prohibition of job discrimination based on sexual orientation, and no on enforcing laws against anti-gay hate crimes. The Human Rights Campaign has given him a 0 percent rating due to his anti-gay-rights stances.

Time and again, Pence voted against measures to increase government funding for those living in poverty and on welfare. He voted against providing additional funding for Section 8 Vouchers, increasing the minimum wage, expanding Medicare, expanding State Children’s Health Insurance Program eligibility and funding, and $84 million in grants for colleges where the majority of the student population lives below the poverty line.

Environmentally, Pence’s congressional track record leans far to the right as well. He strongly opposed replacing coal and oil with alternatives, and opposes Environmental Protection Agency regulations of greenhouse gases. Pence voted no on tax incentives for renewable energy, yes on the authorization of the construction of new oil refineries, and yes on the drilling of the outer continental shelf.

On the issue of immigration, Pence worked in Congress to end birthright citizenship, championing a proposal that aimed to deny children automatic citizenship if they were born in the U.S. to illegal immigrant parents. He also supported an effort to build a fence on the Mexican border. He voted yes on reporting aliens who receive hospital treatment.

Pence is a big advocate for Second Amendment rights and has been given the grade of an A+ by the NRA.

Meanwhile, Mike Pence has a 7 percent rating from the American Civil Liberties Union and a 22 percent rating by the NAACP.

How well do Trump and Pence go together? This statement from Pence says it all: “More than anything else, let me be clear: We need to be willing to fight for freedom, and free markets, and traditional moral values. That’s what the American people want to see this movement and this party return to.”

No one can sum up Mike Pence other than himself: “I'm a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”

This piece originally appeared in NUVO, the alternative newsweekly in Indianapolis.

Published in Politics

You feel it in your gut—that uncomfortable feeling of being stereotyped. A prejudicial belief that people with a particular characteristic—race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, etc.—are all the same means we don’t have to recognize others as individuals. It’s the ultimate guilt by association.

I was about 12 when it first happened to me. I used to pick up the evening newspaper for my dad every day at the guard shack at the old MGM Studios in Culver City. The guard and I had gotten friendly and exchanged pleasantries each day. One day, when my Culver City High School was slated to play a football game that evening against our arch rivals, Beverly Hills, the guard asked me if I was going to the game.

“I can’t go this time, but I hope our team wins,” I said.

“Well,” he said, “one can only hope you beat the kikes.”

I’m Jewish, but I had never before heard that term, nor had I experienced overt anti-Semitism. I lived in an area where many of my friends were Jewish, but just as many were not. I didn’t know how to respond to the guard—but I could feel in my gut that what he’d said was offensive, and that it somehow included me.

The word “kike” apparently comes from the time in U.S. history when there were lots of Jewish immigrants coming through Ellis Island. Many of them couldn’t complete the entry forms using the common English alphabet, and they didn’t want to sign with an “X,” because it seemed to represent a cross, so they signed with an “O.” The Yiddish word for “circle” is kikel, so the immigration inspectors came to call anyone who signed with an “O” a “kike.” However it began, use of that term to derogatively refer to Jews exists to this day.

Being blonde, and therefore not fitting the stereotype of what Jewish women are supposed to look like, I have often heard negative stereotypes about Jews casually thrown into conversation—things that clearly wouldn’t have been said in front of me if the speakers had known my identity, as if that should make a difference.

We’ve all had that experience, when a friend or family member drops some negative stereotypical term into conversation—“beaner,” “rag head,” “jungle bunny,” “Uncle Tom,” “chink”—usually without even knowing where the term originated. We can feel it in our gut.

All of this came to mind during the flap caused when the Trump campaign re-tweeted a post that had originated on an anti-Semitic website, depicting Hilary Clinton with a six-pointed Star of David against a background of money. It was subsequently explained and justified as “merely a star, like a sheriff’s badge.” There was no recognition by Trump nor his campaign that using an image representing an anti-Semitic image of Jews and money was, at the very least, worthy of recognition and apology.

If you don’t understand the history of how this image came to be associated as a negative stereotype of Jews, it’s easy to accept Trump’s explanation that “it was just a star.” In the Middle Ages, when the Church dominated European societies, people interpreted the Bible as prohibiting Christians from loaning money. Jews, however, were allowed to loan money, with interest. Many Jews at that time were prohibited from owning property or engaging in most means of making a living, so some of them became money-lenders. The stereotype was typified by Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice in his character, Shylock, a term now associated with loan-sharking. As banking took off in Europe, Jews were able to finance everything from wars to exploration. However, when the time to repay arrived, some governments passed laws that non-Jews did not have to repay, or, as in England under King Edward I in 1290, the entire national population of Jews was expelled (and incidentally not allowed back as a community for more than 300 years).

This negative stereotype associating Jews with money has, obviously, survived. For anyone not to recognize the negative connotation of such a stereotype is just ignorant. For anyone implicated by such images, it’s hurtful. You feel it in your gut.

Concerns about Black Lives Matter and attacks on police officers have highlighted yet other stereotypes: police power as synonymous with the abuse of authority, and race as synonymous with criminality. We are born into a national culture that has, from its inception, valued some lives more than others, yet we react as if this isn’t a truth that needs to be addressed.

If asked to identify the ethnicity of one who is extremely good at math, you’re likely to say Asian. If asked about athletic prowess on the basketball court, you’re likely to say African American. If I mention a national identity associated with drunkenness, you might immediately respond “Irish.”

Organized crime translates to Italian. Blondes are dumb. Muslims are potential terrorists. Native Americans drink and gamble. Black men are well-endowed and barely evolved from animals—hence depictions of our president as a monkey. Hispanics are illegals.

Asians are secretive, easily depicted as devious or spies. Germans, despite more than 70 years since their involvement in World War II and the Holocaust, are as militaristic. Latinos are lazy—think of the pictorial image of the sombrero siesta, or depictions of Latinos as unwilling to learn English and assimilate, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

Gays do not generally mince around with limp wrists, but when that stereotype is portrayed, they feel the negative characterization in their gut.

When leaders or public figures use discriminatory stereotypes to characterize political opponents or members of the general public, they are either indicating their ignorance of the historically negative implications—or they know and just don’t care.

Either way, we can feel it in our gut.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal,” and her radio show airs Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on KNews Radio 94.3 FM. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

When it comes to conservation, energy and many other issues, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has been a lot of hat and not much cattle. But his son, Donald Trump Jr., recently offered some insights into what his father’s natural-resources policies might look like.

While speaking at June a media summit organized by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership in Fort Collins, Colo., Trump Jr., an avid hunter and angler, defended keeping federal lands managed by the government and open to the public. He also reiterated his father’s strong support for U.S. energy development, proposed corporate sponsorships in national parks, questioned humans’ role in climate change, and criticized Hillary Clinton for “pandering” to hunters with “phoniness.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-California, spoke for Clinton’s campaign at the summit a day later, providing plenty of contrast between the presidential candidates.

Trump Jr. has served as an adviser to his father on natural-resources issues and has even joked with family that, should his father win, he’d like to be secretary of the interior, overseeing national parks and millions of acres of federal public lands. In Fort Collins, he said he’s not “the policy guy,” but repeated his frequent pledge to be a “loud voice” for preserving public lands access for sportsmen.

Trump Jr. also mocked some gun-control measures, such as ammunition limits, boasting, “I have a thousand rounds of ammunition in my vehicle almost at all times because it’s called two bricks of .22 … You know, I’ll blow … through that with my kids on a weekend.”

Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate, partly distinguished himself among other GOP candidates during primary season—not that that was a problem for the New York real-estate developer—by balking at the transfer of federal public lands to states or counties. While Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and others expressed support for public-land transfers, kowtowing to some Western conservatives, Trump rejected the idea. Speaking to Field & Stream in January, Trump said: “I don’t like the idea, because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold. We have to be great stewards of this land. This is magnificent land.”

Trump Jr. reaffirmed that stance—but also supported more input for states as long as those efforts don’t jeopardize public access.

Trump, however, did attack the Bureau of Land Management and its “draconian rule,” writing in an op-ed in the Reno Gazette-Journal, also in January: “The BLM controls over 85 percent of the land in Nevada. In the rural areas, those who for decades have had access to public lands for ranching, mining, logging and energy development are forced to deal with arbitrary and capricious rules that are influenced by special interests that profit from the D.C. rule-making and who fill the campaign coffers of Washington politicians.”

Rep. Thompson called Trump’s somewhat muddled stance of federal land management a “dangerous position to take,” saying Clinton unequivocally opposes public-land transfers. As far as Clinton’s sporting cred, Thompson said the Democratic candidate doesn’t pretend to be a hook-and-bullet enthusiast, but “she gets it” when it comes to access issues.

During a campaign loud with proclamations yet nearly vacant of substantive policies, the most in-depth view into Trump’s resource agenda came during his May speech at a North Dakota petroleum conference. Trump pledged to “save the coal industry,” approve the Keystone XL gas pipeline, roll back federal controls limiting energy development on some public lands, and withdraw the U.S. from the Paris global climate agreement. A Republican National Committee spokesman recently said more details on Trump’s energy and environmental policies should be coming soon. His son reiterated the campaign’s “very pro-U.S. energy” position, although he did say agencies should have some role in regulating energy development on public lands, referring to the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed fracking rule that was recently rejected by a federal judge.

On climate change, Trump Jr. said U.S. and global policies shouldn’t penalize industries, and while acknowledging the strong scientific consensus on climate change and its causes, he added that humans’ and industries’ roles in global warming have “yet to be shown to me.”

Trump Jr. also offered mild support for the Endangered Species Act, saying it had achieved some successes, but argued the law has served as a “Trojan horse” to entirely prohibit development in some cases. He also suggested national-parks management and budgets could benefit from increased corporate partnerships. Trump’s son declared his own affinity for the backcountry and described national parks as being “a little bit too ‘tourist-ized’ for myself,” but he said, “I think there are ways you can do (corporate sponsorship) in a way that is beneficial” without installing flashing logos on natural features or commercializing the parks.

Clinton has shared several detailed policies on the environment and energy so far, including a white paper on land management and conservation that lays out support for a national park management fund and increased renewable energy development on public lands. Those proposals signal Clinton will “double down” on protecting public lands and preserving access, Thompson said.

Thompson also lauded Clinton for taking “a risky public position” on energy development—referring to her previous statement that she will put lots of coal mines “out of business”—and said “she hasn’t backed away from it. She understands there are better ways to generate the energy resources that we need.”

This piece originally appeared in High Country News.

Published in Environment

On this week's mournful Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson watches as pundits spew; The K Chronicles ponders a proposed gun ban; This Modern World considers when America was great back in ... 2000?; and Red Meat celebrates Milkman Dan's new uniform.

Published in Comics