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Dear Mr. President

Core Samples

By Jay Meehan
Park Record columnist

So, President Obama, we seem to be running out of time here. The changing of the guard is nigh. It’s looking very much like the clone of Prince John will soon be reassuming the throne and that the Sheriff of Nottingham and his band of greedy men will once again be given free rein to rape and pillage the denizens of Sherwood Forest.

Now, unless you are of the opinion we should not go down swinging for the fences, we need for you to step up and battle the Hun with whatever effective tools are at your disposal. And we need for you to do it sooner rather than later. In fact, a more auspicious time than the present would be hard to imagine.

I mean, what is there left to lose? Capitalism as practiced in these United States of America has chosen to wrap itself in the flag rather than the constitution – assuming, I suppose, that the “R-factor” of cloth is somewhat higher than that of paper. Actually, though, when one considers cellulose, the jury might still be out on that.

And what with Bonnie Prince Donnie all set to overturn even your most recent ruling that would keep states from a de facto defunding of Planned Parenthood, you can allocate the time you might have put toward a victory lap of your own to helping achieve a few of the more, as yet unimplemented, progressive goals of your campaigns.

Although it would be difficult to discern in this time of “fake news,” there are still many of us “out west where the states are square” (apologies to Thomas Wolf) that have much more of an affinity to Delicate Arch than to the Golden Arches. We would just as soon not see our sacred lands plastered with logos of corporate America.

And we would also just as soon not see drilling rigs or coal operated power plants apparent in the visible spectrum near National Parks. And as you well know, Mr. President, in this current political climate, with an official apocalyptic consciousness looming only weeks away, the list of available deterrents is undergoing an acute pituitary problem.

No matter which available option you choose, of course, there is no guarantee that the vast Republican coalition won’t succeed in reversing it following the (cringe) inauguration. And, that being said, hopefully we can finally put to rest the argument that there exists space of any kind between the Republican Party and Donald Trump. Morally, they are certainly one and the same!

So, prior to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell being replaced by someone with a season pass to the Peabody Coal Train, why don’t you begin your final weeks in office by designating Bears Ears National Monument? Just do it and let the chips fall where they may. Honor ancestral lands! What’s the down side – that Rob Bishop’s hair gets mussed?

It would be hard to believe the recent resolution passed by the Utah Legislature opposing any such designation without first getting approval from elected representatives of Utah white men could possibly carry any weight with you. They have done nothing but disrespect you and fight you at every turn. How ‘bout returning serve?

Then there is the case of Native American activist Leonard Peltier. Leonard, you readers may recall, was one of three men charged in the murder of two FBI agents at the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota Native American reservation in South Dakota during the mid-1970s and has, so far, served nearly 40 years in federal lockups. They move him around as if he were a “Gitmo” detainee.

Suffice to say that once the other two were found “not-guilty,” the federal prosecutors immediately went hunting for a friendlier judge and a whiter venue within which to hold Peltier’s particular court proceedings. No dummies they, a conviction became quickly secured. Go figure?

Although the courts have acknowledged evidence of extreme government misconduct in the case, Peltier has been continually denied a new trial. If Peltier’s story is not familiar, check out “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse” by Peter Matthiessen and/or the Sundance documentary “Incident at Oglala.” For wider context, see Dee Brown’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.”

But back to you and my requests as to your endgame, Mr. President. I do not wish to appear unappreciative of your service, which I consider, for the most part, quite exemplary. But time is running out and action is needed! Public lands are about to begin falling to the highest bidder. Providing them with a pillow to land on would be nice.

Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years.


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