House Republicans quietly authorized themselves to give away public land. Also, feminism must be pro-choice … or it’s not feminism. (More)

“… Shall not be considered as providing new budget authority, decreasing revenues, increasing mandatory spending, or increasing outlays.”

That’s the end of a rule change adopted by House Republicans earlier this month:

In the One Hundred Fifteenth Congress, for all purposes in the House, a provision in a bill or joint resolution, or in an amendment thereto or a conference report thereon, requiring or authorizing a conveyance of Federal land to a State, local government, or tribal entity shall not be considered as providing new budget authority, decreasing revenues, increasing mandatory spending, or increasing outlays.

You have to scroll to page 35 to find it, and I wouldn’t have known about it but for this article at the Guardian:

In the midst of highly publicized steps to dismantle insurance coverage for 32 million people and defund women’s healthcare facilities, Republican lawmakers have quietly laid the foundation to give away Americans’ birthright: 640m acres of national land. In a single line of changes to the rules for the House of Representatives, Republicans have overwritten the value of federal lands, easing the path to disposing of federal property even if doing so loses money for the government and provides no demonstrable compensation to American citizens.

At stake are areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forests and Federal Wildlife Refuges, which contribute to an estimated $646bn each year in economic stimulus from recreation on public lands and 6.1m jobs. Transferring these lands to the states, critics fear, could decimate those numbers by eliminating mixed-use requirements, limiting public access and turning over large portions for energy or property development.

To understand how that works, I’ll need to detangle some legalese. Earlier in the new House Rules, Republicans voted to disallow any bill that would require new budget authority, or significantly decrease revenues or increase mandatory spending or outlays, as scored by the Congressional Budget Office. That word “significantly” in the previous sentence is mine; their self-imposed limit is “a net increase in direct spending in excess of $5,000,000,000 in any of the 4 consecutive 10-fiscal year periods beginning with the first fiscal year that is 10 fiscal years after the current fiscal year.”

In another provision, House Republicans exempt “repealing” or “reforming” the Affordable Care Act from that $5-trillion-over-10-years limit. Because smashing the budget doesn’t matter when you’re defacing President Obama’s legacy.

And way on down the list of new House Rules – in an entirely different section – they declare that federal land is worthless:

Essentially, the revised budget rules deny that federal land has any value at all, allowing the new Congress to sidestep requirements that a bill giving away a piece of federal land does not decrease federal revenue or contribute to the federal debt.

Republican eagerness to cede federal land to local governments for possible sale, mining or development is already moving states to act. Western states, where most federal land is concentrated, are already introducing legislation that pave the way for land transfers.

So under this new rule, Congress could pass a bill to give the entire Grand Canyon National Park to Arizona – or parts of it – and get nothing in return. No tourist revenues. Not even any income if Arizona later decided to sell off mineral rights. As far as House Republicans are concerned, those 1,217,262 acres of historic beauty aren’t worth a single penny. And in fact the Grand Canyon is one of the targets:

“We didn’t see it coming. I think it was sneaky and underhanded. It exemplifies an effort to not play by the rules,” said Alan Rowsome, senior director of government relations at The Wilderness Society. “This is the worst Congress for public lands ever.”

Rowsome said he’s not exactly sure how the rule will be used, but he thinks the first places to come under attack might include areas adjacent to the majestic Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Those areas hold uranium and copper, respectively.

Yep, that’s the same Minnesota Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness that our beloved Linda Lee has worked so hard to help save and the same region that the National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management acted to protect just last month. House Republicans’ answer? We’ll just give it away!


“But we do exist, and we are true feminists”

So declares forced-birther Herndon-De La Rosa in an article at The Atlantic:

“I know people want to say we don’t exist, or we’re an oxymoron,” Herndon-De La Rosa said. “But we do exist, and we are true feminists. We’re not just pro-lifers who are also feminists. We’re feminists first and foremost.”

Umm, no. You’re not “true feminists.” You’re not “feminists first and foremost.” You’re not feminists at all.

Here’s the thing:

You can’t be outraged when the Misogynist-elect said “I grab ’em by the pussy” … yet applaud when state legislators mandate a transvaginal ultrasound – and House Republicans want to make that federal law – before a woman can terminate her pregnancy. Those state legislators are ordering doctors or lab techs to “grab ’em by the pussy.” Literally.

You can’t be outraged when the Misogynist-elect said “I grab ’em by the pussy” … yet applaud when Congress and the Supreme Court say a boss can decide which (if any) contraceptive methods a woman’s health insurance will cover. In elevating bosses’ “religious freedom” over women’s own religious and ethical choices, Congress and the Court let bosses “grab ’em by the pussy” … both figuratively and monetarily.

You can’t be outraged when the Misogynist-elect said “I grab ’em by the pussy” … yet applaud when Congress or state legislators “grab ’em by the pussy” by declaring that a fetus could feel pain – despite medical evidence to the contrary – or once a sonogram finds a heartbeat.

If you think there is any point where a woman ceases to be a fully human being who can make intelligent, moral health care decisions – and instead becomes merely a womb-with-feet – then you think there’s a point where a woman’s pussy is no longer hers and legislators and her boss can “grab” it.

The plain fact is that a woman’s pussy is still hers, even if she works for a religious boss, and even if she’s pregnant.

And if you don’t believe that, then you are not a “true feminist,” a “feminist first and foremost,” or any kind of feminist at all.

It’s that simple. Deal with it.


Photo Credit: Michele Falzone (Getty Images)


Good day and good nuts