To hear pinks, most PACS (Political Action Committees) belong to the nefarious Right. Liberals habitually shudder at the dreaded National Rifle Association. They snort and roll their eyes at the brainless yahoos who staff and fund the National Right To Life PAC. They bash their fists in helpless rage against the American Petroleum Institute’s greedy grab for Alaska’s Oil.
They especially fume at the fiendishly clever machinations of the obscenely rich, insufferably arrogant and incurably gangsterish cabal known as the Cuban-American National Foundation. We Cuban-Americans, they claim, are the slickest of the slick. Indeed, we watch “Godfather II” and snort with derision. That was a chump operation Mikey Corleone pulled on Nevada Senator Geary with that dead prostitute. We woulda had him in our pocket for half the trouble. And sure, Hyman Roth and Barzini mighta needed to get whacked. But Mo Green woulda been much more useful to us alive. No need to take him out, we would have counseled the hothead Mikey.
We watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and direct our boos and hisses at Jimmy Stewart. What a starry-eyed fuddy-duddy.
Okay, fine. Now allow me to present Humane USA — and don’t confuse these with the folks who build shelters for orphaned puppies and kitties. Humane USA is a PAC for a gaggle of the most virulent animal rights groups in the U.S., all opposed to hunting, trapping, fur-wearing, animal testing — the whole bit. Since these groups are technically “charities,” they can’t fund political candidates. So they go through Humane USA.
“If we could ban ALL sport hunting in a moment we’d do it!” That’s a direct quote from Wayne Pacelle, the current head of Humane USA. But Pacelle knows Rome wasn’t built overnight. He’s realistic. “We’ll use the ballot box and the democratic process to stop all hunting in the United States. We will take it species by species until all hunting is stopped in California (they already succeeded with Cougars.) Then we will take it state by state.”
Another incremental step is The Fund For Animal’s (Wayne Pacelle was it’s former director) campaign to outlaw all hunting on National Wildlife Refuges — the VERY refuges us HUNTERS bought with OUR $670 million in duck stamp money!
The Pittman-Robertson Act (1937) imposed an excise tax of 10 per cent on all hunting gear. Then the Dingell-Johnson act (1950) did the same for fishing gear. The Wallop-Breaux amendment (1984) extended the tax to the fuel for my boat. Much of this money ALSO goes to buy and maintain National Wildlife Refuges, etc.
Notice, to “preserve nature,” they DON’T tax Birkenstock hiking boots and Ying-Yang pendants — but DO tax my shotgun. They DON’T tax Yoga manuals and Tofu tid-bits wrapped in recycled paper — but DO tax my 30.06 rifle. They DON’T tax binoculars or birding Field Guides with cutesy photos of the red-cockaded woodpecker and spotted Owl — but DO tax the shotgun shells I blast at Mallards before arraying on my grill as Duck-K-Bobs (cooked rare and lovingly basted with plenty of butter, Cajun seasoning and teriyaki sauce).
Going further, they DON’T tax Kayaks and rock climbing picks and ropes — but DO tax my compound bow and rifle scope. They DON’T tax the plastic water bottles on Mountain bikes (or the mountain bike itself, come to think of it) or the cutesy spandex shorts these yo-yos wear — but DO tax my duck decoys and camo pants. They DON’T tax Yanni and Enya CDs — but DO tax the arrows I fling at Bambi before he sizzles on my grill as Bambi-burger (Lovingly draped with thick bacon slices that dribble their appetizing fat into the meat while cooking. Then a chunk of cheddar cheese melted on top.)
You talk about a “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” Jimmy Buffet! Try one from Bambi!
Ten cents of every dollar I spent on my hunting and fishing toys (I’d cite the total but my wife might read this) funds Federal and State “conservation” programs. From my guns and ammo to my duck calls and decoys, from my rods and reels to my lures and gaffs, from my trolling motor to the very fuel for my outboard — ten cents of every dollar in this ghastly expenditure funds habitat for Spotted Owls, Red Cockaded Woodpeckers, Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Manatees, Snail darters, Black-Footed Ferrets, California Condors, Florida Panthers and Sea Otters.
None of these creatures (from what I hear) make a decent Gumbo or even a passable Chili. I must be crazy. But I have no choice. And this avalanche of tax dollars come ON TOP of those I fork over for the stacks of licenses, and permits, and stamps I’m required to have before I set a foot afield or set my boat afloat. Last season these totalled $500. (But sweetie! There’s HUGE fines for hunting and fishing without them!)
And all the above is ON TOP of my voluntary dues and assorted donations to such as Ducks Unlimited. (But snookums! I thought you LOVED the duck print I brought home at 2: 45 AM from the DU Banquet/auction? And especially the picture of me with the nice Hooters girl who worked the keg in her camo bikini?)
In total, just last year, hunters and fishermen (NOT birdwatchers, NOT rock-climbers, NOT kayakers, NOT nature-hikers ) “contributed” $1.7 BILLION “big ones” (to quote Steve Martin as The Jerk) to purchase and maintain places for greenies to frolic.
You’d think some thanks might be in order from these freeloaders — from the smarmy crowd not forced to buy any “Bird-Watching stamp” or “Hiking stamp,” or “Kayaking stamp”, or “Rock Climbing Stamp,” or Yanni-Listening Stamp,” or “Quartz-Crystal-Gazing-Stamp.” You’d think Tofu-munchers might appreciate us hunters’ funding habitat for their spotted owls, kangaroo rats, snail darters and louseworts, and bankrolling the scenery on their “nature trails” as they self-righteously plod along in their “earth-friendly”Birkenstocks and granola-flecked frocks, quartz crystals rattling in their pockets en route to a hillside Sunrise worship, crystal-gaze and Enya-listen.
You’d think, now and then, they might throw us a bone. Well, think again.
And yokel that I am, I was woefully ignorant of the fabulous powers of Quartz crystals. A New Age site set me straight. “Our universe is one of vibrations,” it sighs. “Impurities within your body alter these vibrations preventing it from getting the vibrational energy that keeps it operating in harmony. Crystals emit pure, strong vibrations and help eliminate the distortions and restore proper balance.”
Alas, you can even zero in on certain crystals depending on your particular ailments. Quartz crystals, for instance “are a sublime gift from Mother Earth,” (same for my Bambi-Burgers) “These crystals can help one overcome stress and can enhance your ability to enjoy life” (same for that foamy stuff the Hooters girl served from a keg at the Ducks Unlimited banquet).
After scrolling down to the order form, it turned out that Bambi Burgers and Bud draft come much cheaper than Quartz crystals.
Birdwatchers, hikers, crystal gazers, and Yanni fans get the run of Refuges year round — and I REPEAT: without buying any kind of stamp or license or having any of their gear taxed. They can do all the crystal gazing, spotted owl watching, granola crunching, Enya-listening, Yoga-chanting and Hare-Krishna finger-cymbal banging their little hearts desire year long.
We ask for a few weeks to hunt on about one-tenth of the acreage on these places.
“NO!” they scrunch their noses, wag their fingers and shriek, spraying the air with Tofu spittle and granola crumbs. “You buncha yahoos have no right to hunt in these places! Ugghh! Get out! Shoo!” Then they devote all their financial muscle and political pull with such as Humane USA to keep us out.
Pay your own way, Greenies!
Humberto Fontova [send him mail] holds an M.A. in History from Tulane University. He’s the author of the newly-published Fidel; Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant, as well as The Hellpig Hunt: A Hunting Adventure in the Wild Wetlands at the Mouth of the Mississippi River by Middle-Aged Lunatics Who Refuse to Grow Up and Helldiver’s Rodeo described as "Highly entertaining!" by Publisher’s Weekly, as "Terrific!" by Salon.com, and as "Just what the doctor ordered!" by Ted Nugent.