The Journal


Serving the Metropolitan Area


Since 1872



July 30th





By Jack Parnell - retired Congressman and Independent Presidential candidate


Syndicated by Acme Features


          Kids at (the now politically incorrect) Columbus School, West Berkeley, California, were just coming out onto the playground for summer-school recess, few years back, when stuff started falling out'n the sky... not rain, hail, not even that so-called "blue ice" from passing airliners flushing their facilities, but pigeons. Lots of pigeons - landing on the playground there, plop! plop! plop! Some weren't even dead yet; flopped around in convulsions awhile before expiring - thoroughly terrifying the kids and causing parents and school officials to ask questions ‘bout the plague and things and stuff.

          What happened was that officials at a nearby racetrack, concerned that pigeons might transmit disease to their horses, had seeded the racetrack with Avitrol, a poison impregnated into grains of corn. Said the concept was to poison some birds so others would "go into stress" and leave the area. I don't think too many pigeons made the necessary mental connection, but there certainly were a lot of stressed-out kids on the schoolyard after that feathered rain.

          "God, that was a mean way to kill a bird," said LaRon Ingram, the school custodian as got to sweep those dead and dying pigeons off the playground.

          Environmental tinkering almost always results in disaster... any kid who's grown up on mutant monster movies… from them first black n' white Godzillas, Rodans and Mothras to Jurassic Park VI – Chaos in Cleveland with that guy from the Porky’s series… he’ll tell you that. There's something in a body wants to play God, but always ends up playing Frankenstein!

          We, as a species, can't help poisoning ourselves with our ingenuity (not to mention methane). I've heard it said the decline and fall of Rome was caused, or at least helped along, by state-of-the-art plumbing systems featuring toxic lead pipes, so that the Emperor, the consuls and Senators and patricians were, in fact, no better off than the citizens of lowly Flint, Michigan!  In the two millennia since, we've tried to kill ourselves off with ignorance in a variety of creative ways... covering our cities with coal smoke in the 19th century, filling refrigerators and deodorant aerosol cans with toxic anti-ozone gases in the 20th, now exterminating the honeybees... but we still haven't quite finished the task.


          We seldom think about environmental destruction or depletion except when Hollywood tells us we'll end up eating bugs and algae (or even Charlton Heston) out of the of the overpopulation or Al Gore, as he did last week, comes back from Shanghai, or wherever he’s been Goring, to remind us that the toxic smoke from Western wildfires is turning our atmosphere into an open sewer.  We'll all get drownt or whomped with giant meteors, volcanoes will erupt in downtown LA.   Wolves will prowl.  Amber Heard will get another TV show and we’ll twitter and chatter away about it on cellphones that, like as not, contribute to brain cancer.

          Back in the disco years, we counted spotted owls and plotted to bring back the wolves and buffalo to public places.  America ranked Number One by almost all standards known to man or beast so, to prove we were not only richer, smarter and healthier but also more sensitive; we wore sweaters and China Gore invented Earth Days, where plenty of bad folksinging happened.

          Mostly, thanks to them shiekhs of Araby taking us down a notch, we started thinking... if only for a few years... that so many people doing so many wrong things at the same time might have an impact on our survivability.  Then our own oil sheikhs took them others down a peg what with the frackin’ and crackin’ of oil sands, Russia gas spigot dried up with the war in Ukraine, and things oozed back to old normalities.

          The trouble became this: resistance got taken over by doom n' gloomers as were more interested in gettin' their ugly mugs on television to sell coffee mugs and books and scrounge spare change. So by the time Reagan got voted into office, Wise Use spokesman Ron Arnold could promise "our goal is to destroy, to eradicate the environmental movement" and, since said movement professionals were allowed to keep on writing books, pursuing tenure and collecting their speechifying fees, they didn't rock the boat all that much. Some amateurs, however (and, as Austin Tillerman advises me, some government agents pretending to be amateurs), blew up equipment, spiked trees, killed some loggers and raided a few zoos and mink farms, setting varmints free to be smooshed on the highway.

So, purveyors of rosy scenarios riled up the faithful and sent forth legions of paid public relations agents, alleging that the last few rugged winters like that as happened last year mean there’s no such thing as global warming (and they are right, what we have is global polarization… where the summers get hotter and winters get colder!).  Out in the red states, they ran hug-a-polluter contests... like this, won by a certain Matt Loudermilk, for suggesting:


"The spotted owls in the Northwest should not cost the timbermen 30,000 jobs. If all the spotted owls did die off, we would just have to breed more cats to catch the mice."

          Oil prices scooted up in the '70s as a result of the Arab-Israeli wars and now again, with the Coughing Twenties at hand, as a result of same, plus hurricanes, plus Putin’s hot war, the Iran-Saudi cold war and all them Indian Indians and Red Chinese buyin' cars with all that money from jobs they lifted off’n stupid Americans.  Went down due to the Saudi-Russia trade war, the frackinfrackin’ and the Chinese learning to drive them smart cars and sending us the plague to keep us off the road for a spell, then… go figure!... went up again despite the oversupply, like airplane tickets. And now because of the fear of Syria and Egypt, Costa Rica and so on… if fear makes money for the oilies, then where’s incentive for the politicians to take measures against fear?  Instead, the oily crowd murmurs about fracking and pipelines too big to leak, and Texans slap bumperstickers on their pickups, saying "Let John Kerry Freeze in the Dark". "Hain't no such thing as the creation or destruction of energy and matter," Congressman Wandiver informed me back in '02, when premium went for ninety six point nine, some places in Maryland. "Even when you burn oil, it gets transformed into gases somebody could get hold of, and recycle for other energy." Who, I ask? Wally goes a little glum, but you don't get to Congress without having answers to every question. "Buckminster Fuller?" he finally suggested.

          It almost pained me to tell him that Bucky was dead... even back then... but I had to do my Bad Christian duty!

          I hear that GM will follow Tesla and now move to all-electric cars by 2035.  Problem solved?  (Not really, a lot of energy as ain’t generated by wind and waves comes as a consequence of burning you-know-what or else building more nuclear plants as tend to blow up now and again.)  Now we'll still have gasoline to kick around a while, though it's going to cost more. And, once it goes back to costing more than hydrogen or alcohol or the natural gas... well, the Catfish way is to do what must be done, keep the sortin'-out process clean.  I don’t really have anything against pipelines (aside from the fact that, to terrorists, they’re about as secure as Crackerjack boxes)… it’s just that putting all our eggs, or oil, in one big basket is like telling Zazzbo and ISIS and Al Qaeda (or what comes after them... Q-anon?), “come on down!” On the other hand, that debate about saving the oceans or going to fish factories is getting ridiculous... it's clear we have to do the both. And if some of those Japanese and Russian monster trawlers scooping out whatever's left in the ocean, edible or not, encounter unforeseen accidents, well there's the price needs to be paid.

          That iceberg drifting up almost to Buenos Aires, now, is still twice the size of Rhode Island. France is running out of frogs, Mexico is running out of butterflies, Florida is running out of sharks and the vast powers of official environmental communitarianism get focused on this poor Jersey schnook, as killed a rat with a broomstick. He's waiting on six months' jail because, as the local prosecuting Humane Society contends, he should've caught the rodent alive and "set it free in a nature environment." In New Jersey!

          Far as the frackin’ goes - few thousands years before Rome, some deep back Bible folks conceived a bright idea to build a mighty stone city, Ur, over an aquifer in the Yemeni desert, drawing up water to maintain some mighty nifty gardens. Sort of like Vegas is already doing today. Water and/or natural gas run out... big hole left under the ground, thin crust... whoosh! No more Ur!  And Yemen, as of the last reckoning in 2013, ranks 117th out of 120 in most every category ‘cept guns on the loose (actually, it’s second, behind Guess Who) and terrorists, by the pound, while the Iranese and the Saudis continue playing colonial…

          Sayonara, Liberace museum!

          So now we got John Kerry, the pickle guy as flopped in ’04, to manage our environment. Well, I wish ‘im all the best but, if he talks President Joe into chopping the speed limits dow to 50 mph, well remember what that did to Jimmy Carter (another loser, twenty years earlier).  That could make enough of the tiny slice of independent voters so mad that they’d vote to send Biden to the (cold) shower and elect… who?... Don Junior, maybe?  There goes your wildlife… won’t be pigeons hunters getting licenses for, but American bald eagles.

          The polluters say "trust in God", but, had those falling birds in Berkeley been ravens, not pigeons, Christians might have taken it as a sign. In Kentucky (as other places since the EPA defunding), mine runoff, textile plant pollution and plain old sewage has so befouled creeks and rivers that born-again baptism's become an affront to nose and menace to the health.

          "Sad to say, but it's true," I've heard the Reverend James Kelly Caudill of Tom's Creek Primitive lamenting. "There's none of them fit to baptize a dog in, to be honest with you."