He has the good sense to turn off his comments, at least.

It is hard to know whether Representative Devin Nunes writes his blog himself.  The posts are all in the first person singular, and one should assume that someone claiming to write a blog is the real author.  On the other hand, don’t elected people have staff for stuff like this?  And he writes pretty good for an ag business major with a masters in agriculture.  I sat in a lot of classes with ag majors and I didn’t come away thinking of them as writers.  I wonder because I found his recent post deeply strange, and wanted to talk about what  it reveals of the author.

First, the title:
Unnatural Greenies: The Two Faces of Radical Environmentalism

“Radical environmentalism” is an attempt at a new catchphrase, right?  I’ve seen it around more in the past six months.  I’m not sure what it is supposed to convey.  Some combination of the Earth Liberation Front and Center for Biological Diversity, only in body paint?  Is it in implied contrast to mainstream environmentalism, which the speaker can mostly accept, so long as it sticks to anti-litter campaigns and de-oiling birds?  Supposed to imply that the speaker is reasonable and could treat with reasonable environmentalists, but not these radical ones?  The opener, “Unnatural greenies”, only reinforces that, although I suspect it is more supposed to be clever.  Like, greenies are supposed to be “natural”, but these aren’t, get it?  Heh heh.

The first paragraph shows an apocalyptic view of the conflict.  If the radical environmentalists get their way, the SJV will be transformed into desert.  The whole thing.  Nothing but dunes, from Sierra to Coast Range.  Well, far as I know, I’m making the most radical predictions on the water blogs, and my prediction is that we’ll lose 3 million acres of ag in the next several decades, out of 10 million acres of ag in the state (from reduced runoff from climate change).  Further, I think ag could stabilize with a robust east side industry, which is Nunes’ own district.  (Besides, if I got my own radical way, (parts of) the SJV would return to grasslands and seasonal marsh, not desert.)  But, the author of that blog post thinks that he is battling against desertification of the whole San Joaquin Valley.

Then comes my favorite paragraph:

To this end, environmental radicals, operating in the name of Gaia, Mother Earth, the wiccan religion and a host of other cult-like organizations, have litigated, legislated and extorted away the water needed for San Joaquin Valley communities.

This is who Rep. Nunes thinks makes up the environmental community?  What? I have to make a list.

  • First, I’m pretty unhappy with the imputation of false gods.  Now, I don’t think it is an insult to say that someone worships something besides an Abrahamic god, but my understanding is that from within narrow-minded sections of Abrahamic faiths, accusing people of serving other gods is a serious business. Thou shalt worship no other, and all that.  The author is throwing around serious charges, and I don’t know if it is worse if he means it or is spewing the garble in his head.
  • The gods listed are Gaia, Mother Earth and hilariously, wicca.  This list, all female, sounds to me like a very, very short step away from calling environmentalists “uppity women.”  It also makes me wonder what powerful woman could be haunting the author.
  • Doesn’t this sound like small-minded rural folks talking about the scary (unnatural) people in the big cities?  Does the author look on LA and SF and see cult-captured freaks?  Is that why he doesn’t see urban environmentalists as reasoning opposition?  They’re crazy even aside from wanting to turn the Valley into deserts!
  • The only pagan anything I’ve heard about in ages is the Winnemem Wintu prayer at the Salmonid conference.  Don’t know if that’s what set off Rep. Nunes, but if it wasn’t that prayer, that means he thinks of enviros as deeply Other all the time.  Suspicious, chick, urban Others.  Radical.  Unnatural.

The third paragraph is interesting; it confirms my earlier take on Westlands’ maneuvering.

Yet despite their ability to command the agenda of our government through powerful alliances in Congress, none of the endangered fish have shown signs of recovery.

From within the House of Representatives, Rep. Nunes (or his staffer and blog writer) believes enviros command the agenda of our government and are powerfully allied in Congress.  This is a Congressperson writing this; he must feel stymied. No wonder Westlands is doing inexplicable thrashing about.  D.C. is not going to overturn the Endangered Species Act for a couple hundred thousand acres of farmland in California.

The rest of Rep. Nune’s post spins off into ornate and oddly emotional gotcha arguments, easily refuted by editorials like this one.  But I’m left with one last question.  To whom is Rep. Nunes addressing this post?  Who is the audience for such a peculiar view of “radical environmentalists”?  Are there still peasants out there, willing to hear accusations that the enemy is, literally, witches?  This can’t be a persuasion piece, because it isn’t reaching out to the opposition.  If it is trying to reach neutral masses, the first two paragraphs won’t be like the enviros they know, and the end of it sounds like walking in on an old fight, where the arguments have gotten too complicated to follow.  So it has to be a piece for his allies, to confirm biases and give talking points.  But he is misleading his own allies.  If this is who Rep. Nunes thinks is after San Joaquin Valley water, he has missed about 95% of the complexity of the conflict.  He got the other 5% wrong.


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23 responses to “He has the good sense to turn off his comments, at least.

  1. Excellent post. It’s funny, I paused over that line designed to make environmentalists sound spooky, silly and female when I first read it on Aquafornia. In fact, I considered pulling it for a weekly news round up that I try to do for my own blog, but the Nunes line was so unpleasant without much else going on that I decided not to give it currency. Reading your entry, I see that my reaction wasn’t so much prim as lazy. I didn’t think it out and I’m glad you did. He and his writers are clearly testing phrases for the echo chamber to see which insults resonate.

  2. onthepublicrecord

    I’ve seen your weekly round-up and quite like it. It is good to get an editorial voice prioritizing the churn of the past week for us.

    I dunno, man. I can’t tell if he is testing phrases for mass consumption or revealing his id. I’m a little afraid it is the latter. That’s my fear, that his post is sincere.

  3. The audience for this is not policy geeks or pols involved in California water issues. This is for the right wing/christianist echo chamber that will disseminate this piece through talk radio and the all important email distribution lists. All of this stuff about Gaia worshiping hippie feminist enviro-nazi’s is a golden oldie for anyone that listens to Limbaugh and his radio clones throughout the country. This to me seems aligned with that awful Hannity segment about the Westlands to attack the ESA and particularly any effort to address global warming. The fact global warming is not mentioned does not mean it’s not the target.

    It’s entirely possible that the author believes every word. But its also likely that any effort to hammer out a reasonable plan to address our water/ag issues in California will be sabotaged by cynical cranks who want to destroy any effort to address the impact of global warming because that might legitimize the theory. I know this sounds cynical and partisan, but it really is what these people seem to want to do.

  4. Nunes has cast his lot with the Hannitys of the world. He was interviewed on KPCC (Pasadena NPR affiliate) a few weeks back on health insurance reform and pretty much toed the Teabag Party Line, not particularly artfully.

    If Glenn Back went off on a rant about pomegranates being evil, Nunes might suffer some serious inner turmoil. Otherwise there would seem to be no thought process there at all. He’s following marching orders.

  5. onthepublicrecord

    This leaves people in the field with an odd dilemma. If he isn’t addressing his comments to actual water policy people, then it isn’t rude of us to ignore and dismiss him. He isn’t talking to us anyway! But if he wants something to happen with water, he needs our attention (well, not mine, because I’m a tiny speck). So he’ll try to get that attention by shouting louder and saying crazier things. Which won’t sound like anything recognizable to us, so we’ll ignore it and now we’re all locked into a feedback loop.

  6. onthepublicrecord

    DUDE! You’re a genius! You’re so far ahead of me it takes minutes for me to catch up.

    We should try to get Glenn Beck to go after pomegranates! That would be awesome. I would die of laughing.

    You know, it is marginally plausible. The Resnicks are liberal, where their interests don’t intersect with farming. Beck is crazy, so who knows what will catch his attention. And, pomegranate juice is an effete urban liberal type drink. (Favored by wiccans and Persephone. Ooooh, maybe he would draw a diagram connecting HADES to BEVERLY HILLS, and probably also pomegranate cocktails.) I love this very much. Now the evil has to come to Beck’s attention, and he has to believe we’re hiding it.

  7. I don’t know about you, but I think having On the Public Record appear on Becks chalkboard of lunacy in some enviromental conspiracy flowchart would be pretty darn awesome.

  8. onthepublicrecord

    You’re exactly right. I would have no prouder accomplishment. All the other Wiccans would be SO JEALOUS.

  9. janetm

    There was a mention of Resnick a few months back on Ann Coulter’s web site. She was expressing disgust at an ad for his nuts that featured the father of Sarah Palin’s grandchild.

  10. Representative Nunes does appear to be as stupid as he is abusive. I’m weary of these people. One afternoon spent listening to Tom McClintock felt like a lifetime.

  11. onthepublicrecord

    Rep. McClintock just kills me. He’s from Thousand Oaks!! And now he believes so very deeply in CA ag? What ag, you carpetbagger? The five grape vines at the Leonis Adobe?

  12. Dave Simmons

    To me, what is stupid is that farmers south of the delta have been forced to send water to the ocean for 18 years for the smelt, but it has not helped the smelt. More recently, we have now sent massive amounts of water to the ocean for smelt and salmon. The fish populations are worse of then when we started. Even though it doesn’t help, we have to keep doing it. If that isn’t stupid and a huge waste of resources, what is?

    When I look at the big cities I do see cult-captured freaks bowing down to earth like a god and they are offering up farmers and other humans to be sacrified on their holier than thou alter. Even though we all know you can’t bring back the fish buy killing farms.

  13. Delta.WildRose

    Hi There!

    Interesting article1

    However, Beck is not crazy! You might not like his questions and ridicule his diagrams (but hey, some people need pictures to go with the words, a la Playboy! LOL), however, he questions the Constitutionality of the administrations and Congress and has questioned Bush as well. (As in nonpartisan). He brings to the conversation reality and truth that neither party wants brought.

    As we all know, sometimes one must throw out a provocative phrase here and there to get the attention required to further an open discussion.

    Nunes, well, follow the money and you will find who is actually issuing those marching orders.

    Thanks for a good post, I look forward to what you have to write.

    One word of advice to your readers, remember this, just because the usual players are playing their usual game by their usual twisted rules, don’t discount someone or something, most likely extremely simple and already in existence that will rise up, bringing a solution that ALL of California can live with that will actually solve our water quality and water delivery issues.

    Keep this in mind as well, it was one small stone properly wound up and delivered with pin-point accuracy that brought down Goliath!

  14. Delta.WildRose

    To Dave Simmons:

    While it may seem that the pumping restrictions haven’t helped the Smelt and Salmon, you right, they haven’t. Every single time those pumps fire up they continue to suck in and kill not only juvenile fish, but their eggs as well, so you have a continual generational devastation of the species.

    Also, the San Francisco Bay Delta is an estuary, which means there is fresh water that mixes with the salt water that drives the salt water back towards the Pacific Ocean. It is not only those ecosystems in that area that rely on that salt/fresh water mix to be healthy…the further inland the salinity is allowed to penetrate eventually means less fresh water for every one. That also means for Central and Southern California should we continue to ship fresh water outside of the Delta Region to those areas. You cannot alter one portion of a complex ecosystem without affecting another.

    Also, I would like to remind people, that if it weren’t for a dynamite blast in the geography of California and a concrete ditch, there would never have been one drop of Delta water in the central and southern portions of our state. (Sorry my NorCal roots rising again!)

    With that having been said, Water Code (yeah I know, like THAT ever gets enforced) and the California Constitutions specifically protects Area of Origin and it is mandated that Northern California’s water requirements will be met first, any surplus from those requirements would then be made available for export.

    What is needed here is a completely new and innovative way to help communities and regions south of Clifton Court Forebay become independent and self-sufficient of any and all Delta water. The technology is out there, the question will become: Is this issue truly about securing clean, fresh water for those communities with toxic water supplies, providing reliable clean water sources for agriculture in that region and is this truly about restoring the ecosystem of the SF Bay Delta? Or will to continue to be business as usual?

  15. Delta.WildRose

    So you made Glen’s chalkboard?? Awesome!

  16. Dave Simmons

    It takes TWO smelt to stop the pumps but, it takes 144 just to count the smelt. How many smelt do the stripped bass eat a day??? Amonia, from sewage, all the other stressors for the smelt, I could go on and on. It would seem like the deck is a heavily stacked against us. Only the water exporters pay!!! That is where the holier than thou part comes in.

  17. onthepublicrecord

    All: Looked like a back and forth argument was heading our way, so I’m holding comments for moderation. I’ll turn that off when things are calmed down.

    I’m also going to hold comments for moderation if it looks like we’re getting into trading known talking points. I have to hear talking points all damn day, and read them from people who write for outsiders. I don’t quote talking points at you and I will not tolerate them on my own blog. They lead to talking past people and stagnation. I will not run a stagnant blog.

    D. Wildrose, no I haven’t made the chalkboard. It is only a glorious dream.

    Mr. Simmons, I addressed exactly that argument here and here. If you want to discuss it again, I can open the comments up for either of those posts. But then you should discuss the points I bring up in my posts, so that I know you read them. If you bring up this talking point again without specifically addressing either of my posts on the topic, I will disemvowel your comment.

  18. Mr. Kurtz

    Nunes has been a dope for longer than he has held office. He has learned to tell people what they want to hear. But of course, the left wing has Pete Stark, and we could go on in this manner tit-for-tat in a Rouge’s gallery of blowhards.
    The parts of the SJV that wold be seasonal wetland if farming ended are those least likely to lose their water, since theirs are senior rights, affected only indirectly by constraints on Delta pumping. If in fact 3 million acres go out of production, where should the lost production relocate? Can that activity take place in a way that is easier on the environment, more conserving of land and energy, and safer to workers and consumers?
    I agree that we have seen the apex of irrigated agriculture in California. I’d like to see an industry somewhat smaller (say 1,000,000 acres lost) but much more valuable; then the remaining land could produce what was lost from retirement. Same goes for dairy, in spades: half as big, twice as valuable. Stop taking our good alfalfa and excellent cows and turning their magic into toxic waste like processed cheese (because that is what the government subsidizes…).
    And wildrose, please remember that the Delta, in its natural state, needs to be both very salty and very fresh from time to time. That is part of why we need a diversion near Hood. Unless, that is, you think *all* delta exports should end. While that is a very interesting proposal, and wold not cause the world to come to en end, it is a political impossibility. It would be neat to demolish the Golden Gate Bridge, too, and put an end to the suicides, traffic, and lead paint pollution. Good luck.

  19. onthepublicrecord

    If in fact 3 million acres go out of production, where should the lost production relocate? Can that activity take place in a way that is easier on the environment, more conserving of land and energy, and safer to workers and consumers?

    This is only my prediction, based only on my brain and no hard evidence yet. But I don’t think all of that lost production will be relocated elsewhere. There will be some buffering of production (like we saw last year), with even more painstaking management, but mostly we will have noticeably less overall.

    I’m pretty serious when I talk about coming scarcity. Australia’s run-off dropped to 6% of their historic average in the last few years; about 8,000 of 14,000 farmers went out of business. Their irrigated rice industry is entirely gone (I’m fairly sure.). They haven’t moved stuff around. They’ve lost whole sectors.

    I predict we’ll lose grain-fed meats, and that some of the million acres in field crops will produce calories directly for people. I also think we won’t necessarily be large exporters anymore. I think this will all be mostly fine for locals, who can absorb increased costs for food. As always and ever, it will really suck for the poorest people in the world to have a food producing region lose a good portion of its capacity (water, in this case) to produce food.

    This is not my desired future, but it is the one I predict. It’d be nice if we could make that transition smooth, but planning for it would be communist or pagan or something.

  20. Mr. Kurtz

    Aye, that is a depressing outlook. I remain a bit more hopeful that GMOs and other technologies (think what drought tolerant and halophytic plants could mean for water supplies) will continue to pull gallons out of pint buckets, as they have in the past. I also hope some new source of protein, like fresh-water aquaculture, will become a major and sustainable food source for people.
    ‘Casue all those little brown fellas are not going to just roll up in a ball and die. They may decide to drop in for dinner here first. I don’t want to be on the welcoming committee.

  21. Dave Simmons

    ontherecord: I guess I missed when you originally wrote the blog that you linked to “I write this blog just for him”.

    Care to play devils advocate with me on your blog? Consider for a moment that the export pumps have nothing to do with the declining fish populations. The time and resoures that have been wasted. The fixes that could have been done by now. That would make a good topic wouldn’t? It is far from certain that the pumps are a problem.



  22. onthepublicrecord

    Nope. You need to specifically address the likelihood of multiple interacting causes and detail remedies for the causes that aren’t pumps. Those two concepts are the heart of my response to you.

  23. Dave Simmons

    Your response to me is about “the pumps aren’t the whole problem”. If in fact there are multiple causes, it may not include the pumps. The pumps may take some fish but, it is possible that they are not the cause of the declining fish populations. Check out my second link, it really spells out what I’m talking about.

    Otherwise, I understand.