Tis Only My Opinion

September 2000 - Volume 20, Number 9

Where did Common Sense Go?

Rules, Regulations and Stupidity

Various environmental groups have used the Endangered Species Act to great success in causing various law enforcement agencies from police, prosecuting attorneys and judges to totally forget the basic rule of Common Sense.

By doing so they have made criminals out of many formerly law-abiding citizens, caused great financial harm to this nation, and after creating many natural disasters including a large responsibility for this years disastrous forest fires in the Northwest continue to demand more of the same oppressive and totally unjustified rulings.

It is about time that the Citizenry said -- Enough is Enough!

And some of our citizens from the Pacific Northwest to Maine are beginning to stand up and argue for their rights as stewards of land that they have lived on and/or near for most of their lives against the rules and regulations which people with little or no experience for living in the environment really understand.

I am beginning to feel that the environmental group have only one goal in "preserving the environment for the children" and that is to deny access to the environment to a privileged few including themselves.

The federal government manages 623 million acres of public land and has already placed 271 million acres, or 44 percent, off limits to mining. Yet mining has touched less than one-quarter of 1 percent of all U.S. land.

This latest federal land grab comes on the heels of a 1998 proposal to withdraw 605,350 acres of copper- and uranium-rich land in Arizona. In 1996, public lands were withdrawn in Utah for creation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, where 62 billion tons of coal reserves could have generated as much as $1.1 billion in state revenue.

Clinton's Roadless Initiative basically denies access to timber, mining and recreational use to almost 25% of the current federal lands. The Clinton proposal calls for the US Forest Service to take steps to curtail a variety of activities on 40 million acres of national forest land, most of it in western states. In addition, the president ordered officials to investigate whether an additional 10 million to 15 million acres of public land should be subject to the same protection.

HR701/S25 CARA Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) as passed by Congress and signed by Clinton provides $3 Billion per annum for the next 10 years to take private property under the guise of environmental protection and then would deny access to the land to the citizens.

Are the Federal Government and their environmentalist allies good stewards of the public lands?

Many people who live and work around these lands would answer a resounding No. Their forest management policies have led to a disastrous fire season that has burned more forest land in the U.S. than the logging industry would have logged in three decades. And now after the destruction has finally become obvious, they finally admit that perhaps the forest management policies adopted by Clinton/Gore in 1993 might need to be revised. Revised, they need to be junked.

I think this billboard prepared by the Montana National Guard in the Bitterroot Valley of Southwestern Montana says it all.


In case you have a hard time reading it, the billboard states:

To the Fire Fighters
Thank you for all your efforts!

To the U.S. Forest Service
Everything that we love is gone . . . up in smoke!
The mismanagement of our forests has turned our beautiful valley into an


To Bill Clinton and Al Gore

Because of your environmental policies, the jobs are gone, the way of life is gone, and now the beauty is gone!

You have to wonder if they even care!

The fire lines are stretched very thin as fires have consumed over 1.2 million acres in the Pacific Northwest this year. To fight these fires and augment the USFS fire-fighters whose budget has shrunk greatly under the Clinton/Gore administration, colleges are being asked to delay registration and the military has sent some 1,000 personnel to assist. The USFS has also asked many other nations including New Zealand, Canada, and South America to provide fire-fighters. Many of these fires will not be put out until the snows arrived and undoubtedly, the number of acres consumed will increase from today's totals.

But amazingly, many able-bodied loggers who live in the Bitterroot Valley and whose jobs have been destroyed by this administrations policies have been told that they are not welcome on the fire lines even as volunteers. And these are people who know the forests intimately in this area. Something is rotten in Denmark, as they say, or is it Washington, D.C.

How it used to be!

I can well remember before we moved from Idaho that when a forest fire started and the local forest fire-fighters could not handle it, the Sheriff would send out a call for all able-bodied men under the age of 35 to pick up a shovel and head to the fire. They did not need two weeks of training like our military. What do you have to train for to shovel a little dirt. Ah, I forget, you've got to understand those regulations from the EPA and the Clean Water Act. Silly of me!

One Congressmen who understands the Problem - Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage (R-Idaho)

Representative Chenoweth-Hage, who is not running for re-election recently made this comments about the growth of the environmental problem.

"To this end, I have fought to reform environmental policies that have been systematically used by regulators to unfairly harass, intimidate or even deprive individuals of their hard-won property. These increasing incidences of regulatory abuse are the product of the unchecked growth in the size and power of government regulatory agencies over the past 30 years. The staff of the Environmental Protection Agency, for instance, has nearly tripled from fewer than 6,000 employees in 1971 to more than 17,000 today while the number of pages in the Federal Register, which lists all federal regulations, skyrocketed from 2,000 in 1971 to more than 64,549 pages by 1997. It is estimated that the rapidly expanding list of environmental and risk regulations now cost more than $250 billion."

Moses proclaimed 10 commandments.

And for the most part, they did extremely well.

The EPA and the federal government proclaim rules and regulations beyond belief and so complex that not any living American citizen can comply with them all. By design they make the citizen a criminal. Selective enforcement is then used to control the citizenry. The law enforcement community is fond of saying that ignorance of the law is no excuse! But common sense tells us that for a government of the people, by the people and for the people, something has gone awry.

One lousy Bald Eagle Feather found in a zoo by a 5 year old boy has become a nightmare for his mother!

Bill Fitch of Pantagraph.com writes about one horror story where everyone from the law enforcement community must have lost any semblance of common sense.

"For Peg Bargon, it all began about six years ago, as a simple act of kindness and a favor to a Democratic Party official and longtime friend who wanted to give Hillary Clinton something memorable for a visit the first lady was about to make to Central Illinois. Positives first. It was, in fact, memorable.

Negatives next. Peg has now spent well more than $10,000 in legal fees. She's been fined $1,200. She's quit her job. She's pleaded guilty to federal charges, after a full-scale probe by authorities. She's been so monitored and so shadowed that, while on probation for her heinous, nefarious crime streak of gift-giving and kindness doling, if she strayed as far away on the world map as -- say -- Effingham from her Piatt County home just outside of Monticello, she first had to report it.

She's been the subject of testimony at a congressional hearing. She's been refused jobs, credit and applications for grants for a not-for-profit organization to which she belongs because of that one line on forms that reads: "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" "It is like I have a scarlet 'A,' " she jokes while being fully serious. Now, she is embarking on a quest for the ultimate -- a presidential pardon from Bill Clinton, who happens to be the husband of the woman who received her gift.

Yes, in only six years, Peg Bargon's life has gone from the comforting calm of middle America -- living in a beautiful little two-story farmhouse in an outstretch of rolling Piatt County not far from storied Allerton Park -- to sounding more like a Clive Cussler novel or Hollywood espionage drama starring Harrison Ford.

But this would have to be a comedy.

Because it's all over ... umm, please, now be seated ... ... a bird feather. "I've just kept saying, through it all, this can't be happening, this can't be happening,' " says Peg. One other thing. It can be happening. And is. Maybe you remember the beginning of Peg's innocent little folly.

That's how most horror stories start. Talented at making crafts, she was the woman back in 1994 asked by the then-Democratic Party chairman of Piatt County if she'd make one of her "dream catchers" -- a decorative hoop of feathers, stones and beads that Indian lore claims ward off bad dreams -- so it could be given to Mrs. Clinton, who was about to visit nearby Champaign-Urbana.

Ward off a bad dream? Uh, wrong verb set. It only welcomed a massive nightmare. Shortly after presentation to the first lady, federal agents, armed with search warrants, scoured Peg's home in a three-hour "raid" -- to announce her use of a feather (her then 5-year-old son had picked up off the ground an eagle feather years earlier at a South Carolina zoo, thinking it was, as he later would testify, "pretty") was, in fact, a violation of little-known migratory bird laws and she was now under arrest for mere possession. "Pardon?" asked Peg. She was booked, fingerprinted, underwent polygraph tests. She was grilled by feds who launched an exhaustive, expensive probe that included even sending her feather to government labs in Oregon to determine the sex of the bird.

Apparently tipped off to a possible large-scale bird-poaching operation in the middle of Illinois countryside, all government officials ultimately found was a dying Piatt County official (the county's Democratic Party chairman died of cancer shortly after he gave Mrs. Clinton her "gift") who needed something to give a first lady and Peg, a nice lady and lifelong Piatt County resident who did craft work. "I guess what bugs me the most," she says, now at age 44, "is why they just didn't knock at my door and say, 'Lady, do you realize what you're doing is actually illegal?' and just fine me."

Instead, they made a federal case out of it, not to mention a media sensation. She's been featured in Newsweek. In The Economist, too. And Harper's. Her story made the front page of USA Today. She was a talking-point for Rush Limbaugh. She's been on CNN, the BBC and NPR. With CBS' Bill Geist showing up at her doorstep one day, she was a subject of Dan Rather's "Eye On America" feature. But in the wake of publicity and pleading guilty at the advice of her attorney -- Champaign's high-powered J. Steven Beckett -- to avoid felony charges and a room at a federal penitentiary, a cloud of sorts has lingered. "You can't imagine," says Peg, "how something like this can disrupt an otherwise nice life." Financial duress. Festering anger. Marital stress. Added burdens for Peg and husband, Steve, to raising their two boys, now 13 and 9. So Peg has decided to take back her own life. Or, at least, try. With Beckett's aid, she is seeking a pardon from the president of the United States.

They will file it in November, on the fifth anniversary of her conviction. "I'm just too young," she says, "to allow the rest of my life to be affected this way." Keep in mind, a pardon will not erase her deed but will, like Richard Nixon back in the yonder days of Watergate, effectively "forgive" her. "This case," says Beckett, "cries out for that kind of justice. It's time the disability that follows Peg be put out of the way. Peg deserves to be 'Nixonized.' "

The minimum application for a pardon is 15 pages of bureaucratic forms and statements, but hers -- which spreads all over her home's living room -- is close to 300 pages. Through Beckett, her request first will go to the U.S. pardon attorney's office in Washington, D.C., where a probe will be launched into Peg's background -- as if it hasn't been done enough. If she passes there, her request then will move on to the deputy attorney general's office. If approved there, it goes to the office of the White House counsel. If lawyers there believe Peg's case warrants presidential attention, it migrates -- sort of like a bird feather -- into the Oval Office, where he will have 30 days to grant or revoke a case.

"This is," says Beckett, humorously echoing his own five-word statement that made the national news back in 1995, "a dumb case." He adds: "But it certainly deserves the president's attention ... to end it." It also will spawn irony if Clinton himself is in need of a pardon, from his successor, as a result of his own much-publicized misadventures. As for Peg Bargon and that "dream catcher" back in 1994? As Beckett puts it, it's been a dream snatcher, for everyone involved, since. And those migratory bird laws? They were created, of course, to protect "innocent animals" and insulate them from unnecessary torment and harm. If only Peg were so lucky."

This case definitely shows the need for some common sense by members of the Law Enforcement Community.

And talk about the wasted time, money and paper should have any citizen up in arms. All for a Bald Eagle feather found in a zoo in South Carolina by a five year old child who thought it was pretty.

And Mrs.Begnon is only one of thousands of such idiotic cases prosecuted by a government that is too big and has too little real work to do.

The 2000 National Directory of Environmental and Regulatory Victims contains many governmental actions that show a total lack of common sense.

I urge my readers to take the time to spend a few moments there unless they have high blood pressure problems.

The Jarbridge Shovel Brigade

In July 2000, the Jarbridge Shovel Brigade succeeded in opening up the South Canyon Road of the Jarbridge River which had been closed by the USFS. For five years, a dispute has occurred over who had control of the road, the USFS or Elko County. After the road was reopened on July 4th by volunteers from throughout the US, the US government has sued the Shovel Brigade claiming "trespass" and destruction of the "bull trout and/or Dolly Varden" habitat. If you had been there either during the opening or four days after as I was, you would have to know that the government was lying in their teeth about the destruction of the river habitat.

Another Clinton Land Grab - or when will they want your private property!

The Jarbridge Shovel Brigade is now on its way to help Amish and Mennonite people in Ohio who are in danger of losing their rich family farms to another of the Clinton Land Grabs, the Darby Wildlife Reserve.

The people in Kain County, Utah are also overflowing the county commissioners hearings to protest further closing of county roads which will prevent local ranchers from using their own private property and sportsman including hunters, fishermen, and off-road enthusiasts from public lands in the county.

The Sagebrush Rebellion is now spreading . . . it is time for all citizens to look at the facts and decide . . . that the time when Common Sense must be raised up for consideration is more important than rules and regulations promulgated by face-less bureaucrats.

The time is now at hand with this election year that all citizens must vote and change the confiscatory policies of our federal government whether they be concerned with the environment, the tax code, or the Bill of Rights.

For remember, the USA is a country for the people, of the people and by the people... unless they don't exercise their voting rights.

It is time to say - Enough is enough . . .

But then - - 'Tis Only My Opinion!

Fred Richards
September 2000

Corruptisima republica plurimae leges. [The more corrupt a republic, the more laws.] -- Tacitus, Annals III 27

This issue of 'Tis Only My Opinion was copyrighted by Adrich Corporation in September 2000.

All rights reserved. Quotation with attribution is encouraged.

Tis Only My Opinion is intended to provoke thinking, then dialogue among our readers.

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Last updated - July 3, 2008