Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

I hunt Northern Montana a lot. I love that country. Whether it’s the limestone reefs and elk of the Rocky Mountain Front, the whitetails of the Marias and Milk rivers, or the Sheep in the Breaks, I can’t get enough of Northern Montana. I’ve never run into a terrorist, drug smuggler or human trafficker in all those years running around the Front or Breaks.

But somehow, unbeknownst to everyone in the world, including the Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security, the hippies are on the wire.

HR 1505 would hand “operational control” of our public lands over to the Border Patrol and Homeland Security from the Border to 100 miles south. The idea is to slow down drug trafficking, illegal immigration and hippies. Noble, right?

However, when Congress passed a law similar in scope to HR 1505 a few years ago to build that border fence down south, they did so over the objections that people are raising today.

According to Howard Frederick, a landowner who is completely surrounded by public land, and lives four miles from the Mexico/Arizona Border, the best outcome of increased road traffic and improved roads along the border has been that the Drug Traffickers now have very good roads to run their brand new suburban’s down, and as a result, a 3% drop in the price of Mexican Brown Heroin means better profit margins for the Cartels.

Way to go Congress!

I can see the thought process unfold as Representative Bishop and his Co-Sponsors (including MT’s own Congressman Dennis Rehberg) brainstorm:

[Interior: Smoke filled room. Leather chairs and mahogany bookshelves with leather bound books along the wall. A painting of George Washington Crossing the Delaware is across the room from a velvet painting of dogs playing poker]

Fat Cat Politician: “They’re coming in by the patchouli laden handfuls. They’re bringing their dope, and more than likely, single payer healthcare.”

Gaggle: “Harrumph!”

Fat Cat Politician 2: “By god. This must be stopped. These hippies must never gain access to our lands, and our women."

Representative Bishop: “We need a fence! Wait, no. Even better: We need forward operating bases full of Blackhawk helicopters, drones and black clad operatives running around the hills silently training their M4 carbines on us as we frolic nakedly in the South Fork of the Flathead, or chase Wapiti and bear in Lincoln County."

Gaggle: “Harrumph, Harrumph, Harrumph, Harrumph!!!!”

Congressman Rehberg: “We must surrender our liberty for just a little bit of security. Hippies, they’re more dangerous than grizzly bears."

Congressman Gossar: “Hippies. Canadian hippies no less. Next thing you know we’ll all be living in communes and singing Gordon Lightfoot songs."

Gaggle: “Goddamned Hippies!!.”

There’s hippies in the hills, man. Can’t you see the urgency?!?!?!

Some days I feel like we’ve crossed over into bat country, like Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I feel like we’ve hit that weird space where reality and idiocy intermingle and we get these strange bills that nobody wants, but everyone will fight for.

Sound stupid? It is. But that’s part of the reasoning behind one of the largest power grabs proposed in the last 10 years. HR 1505 is supposed to help secure our borders. It won’t.

In fact, if you listen to the Department of Homeland Security, the Border Patrol and the people who actually manage our public lands, HR 1505 is completely unnecessary and they don’t want it.

HR 1505 would hand “operational control” of our public lands over to the Border Patrol and Homeland Security. The idea is to slow down drug trafficking, illegal immigration and hippies.

However, when Congress passed a law similar in scope to HR 1505 a few years ago to build that border fence down south, they did so over the objections that people are raising today.

So, why all the hub-bub? HR 1505 comes up for a floor vote this week. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe Wednesday. It’ll happen when the stuffed shirts back east think it works best for them politically.

It’s important to let our elected officials know that handing authority over to one central agency is a bad idea. It doesn’t matter if it is about public lands, which according to FWP, approximately 70% of all harvested wildlife come from, or if it’s about private lands, where the rights of private property owners are held sacrosanct in Montana; this is a bad bill. 

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