Did The President Steal Your Land?

Did The President Steal Your Land?

Opinion free facts on the President's recent amendments to the Bears Ears and Escalante Proclamations.

As I am sure you have already heard, President Trump recently announced that he would be decreasing the size of the national monuments, Bears Ears and Escalante. The most immediate and publicized response to this came from the company, Patagonia. Last Tuesday, they replaced their homepage with the following message:

This was the first I saw of the President's decision on the two monuments. Being a person who likes to know as much as possible before jumping on any bandwagons, I decided to do some research.

Low and behold I could find almost no actual facts on the issue. Every result from my Google searches were filled with opinions on the issue, but no actual data. I even caught a segment on NPR about the issue and was shocked that by the end of it I still had no idea which, if any, laws were being broken and what was actually being taken away. I read piece after piece of news media on the subject and once again found only "How dare Trump do this!" and "How dare anyone question the President's decision!" Both of which told me absolutely nothing.

So, I am going to present to you the quick facts of this issue in a non-partisan manor so that we may all have the actual data involved without having to go to 18+ different sites like I did. From there, you are welcome to draw your own opinions.


Fact: Bears Ears was designated as a national monument in December of 2016 by President Barack Obama, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante was designated in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. Both of these monuments are located in Utah.

Fact: The Antiquities Act of 1906 (also known as section 320301 of title 54 in the U.S. code) states that the President may name/declare by public proclamation national monuments, section B of this act also states that the parcels of land shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.

There is also a C and D of this act that you can view using this link, however it is section A and B that are of primary concern to this issue.

Fact: Through President Trump's latest amendment to the size of the two land marks, Bears Ears will be reduced from 1.35 million acres to 201,876 acres and Escalante will be reduced from 1.9 million acres to 1,003,863 acres.

Fact: President Trump's amendment to the each of the original Proclamations proclaims the amendment has been made due to the fact that the President has decided that the originally set boundaries were not the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected. In each proclamation the President states which objects he claims are either not historically relevant enough to be considered a national monument, or are protected under other laws and have therefore been deemed by the President unnecessary to be included in the National Monument.

You can read both of these Proclamations, which are surprisingly readable and short for government documents, using the following links:

Bears Ears Proclamation Escalante Proclamation

Fact: Five major lawsuits are currently being filed against the President in response to these Proclamations. The arguments against the proclamations are as follows:

In response to the Bears Ears Proclamation:

1. Hopi Tribe et al v. Trump et al: Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the president does not have the legal authority to revoke or modify a monument — only to designate one. Additionally, the tribes say the 1.35 million acres set aside by President Barack Obama holds spiritual significance and contains cultural artifacts that deserve protection at the threat of looting, grave-robbing, vandalism and development.

2. Utah Dine Bikeyah et al v. Trump et al: Reducing the 1.35 million-acre monument would threaten hundreds of historical rock art panels, artifacts, pueblos and kivas. For its part, Patagonia insists the cuts would hurt the company financially by taking away recreation areas that provide “some of the best rock climbing in North America” used by its customers. Development in the area, adds Friends of Cedar Mesa, would mean “direct and immediate harm” to the paleontological hot spots within the monument’s boundaries, and oil and gas drilling would “result in the destruction and degradation” of the ecosystem.

3. Natural Resources Defense Council Inc. et al v. Donald J. Trump et al: Trimming the monument would threaten “irreplaceable” archaeological artifacts and damage paleontology sites.

In response to the Escalante Proclamation:

4. The Wilderness Society et al v. Donald J. Trump et al: The lawsuit alleges Trump is stripping protection for land that would leave “remarkable fossil, cultural, scenic and geological treasures exposed to immediate and ongoing harm.” That includes the Kaiparowits Plateau, which holds abundant coal deposits and is a paleontological treasure trove

5. Grand Staircase Escalante Partners et al v. Trump et al: Removing protection from nearly 900,000 acres in the monument would threaten “sensitive resources located there,” including plant and bee species, archaeological artifacts and geological formations. The president’s actions were illegal.

For more details on each of these lawsuits, visit 5 Lawsuits Against President Trump's Proclamations

Fact: President Trump's size reduction of the two national monuments is the largest elimination of protected land in American History.

Fact: A President has never reduced or amended the size of a National Monument, as the Antiquity Act of 1906 allows for Presidents to create a National Monument, but does not state that they are allowed to modify or remove a National Monument after it has been instated. (This interpretation of the law will obviously be up for debate in the upcoming court cases.)


There you have it, the hard facts of the "Did the President Steal Your Land?" debate. I hope this was helpful and will lead to a knowledgable debate as to whether these Proclamations were good/bad, legal/illegal.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia

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The Aziz Ansari Situation Is Called Sexual Coercion, And It's Way Too Common

It doesn’t have to be rape to ruin your life, and it doesn’t have to ruin your life to be worth speaking out about.

Since the publication of Babe.net’s account of an anonymous woman’s bad date with Aziz Ansari, media, and social sites have been throwing out opinions on what this means for the Me Too movement, and for Ansari’s career.

Many of these opinions range from accusing the woman – referred to as “Grace” in the account – of taking away from actual rape survivors to outright calling her out for being bitter about not being treated like a future girlfriend by Ansari. While this story is very different from the New York Times story on Harvey Weinstein and its discussion on workplace assaults and rape, the story by Babe brings up a more common issue that many women and men who have been in a sexual encounter with another man can relate to.

In the account, the writer talks about how “Grace” felt increasingly uncomfortable as the night went on at Ansari’s apartment. He made sexual advances that were aggressively pushed upon her without her active consent. The article goes into detail about how every advance he made seemed to be rushed and gave her no time or opportunity to feel comfortable and safe enough to decline. She states that she had tried multiple times to non-verbally express her discomfort, but Ansari either didn’t notice or chose to ignore those signs.

“Most of my discomfort was expressed in me pulling away and mumbling. I know that my hand stopped moving at some points, I stopped moving my lips and turned cold.”

Now, this is where things get tricky and many people have put her situation up for debate on whether or not it was an assault. While it may not follow the so-called guidelines that society has set up that define a rape or assault, the way she describes her situation certainly is not consensual in any way.

Sexual coercion is a form of sexual assault and it is harder to identify and prevent it from happening. The reason for that is because we as a society are exposed to sexual coercion almost everywhere, especially in the media and in films.

As shown in many romantic films, the man portrays the go-getter character who’s one goal is to win the girl’s affections, even after being told to back off many times. This kind of harassment is romanticized in a way that shows men that even if a woman says no, they can still eventually get what they want if they try long and hard enough.

The movie "Grease" is a classic and more outright example of enforcing rape culture in this way when one of Danny’s buddies ask, “Did she put up a fight?” in the number “Summer Nights”. The notion that it is more sexually appealing to pursue a woman who might not be interested in having sex, instills patriarchal ideologies into our culture and has men feeling like they are entitled to sex.

When we talk about how something so common and seemingly ordinary is actually problematic, people can’t understand why things need to change. With the Ansari situation, critics of Grace’s story ask why she didn’t just say no and walk out of the situation, or that its normal for girls to feel this way during a hookup, and she should’ve had thicker skin and moved on instead of going to the media. Critics like HLN Anchor, Ashleigh Banfield, brought up victim blaming points like these in an open letter, while also saying that her workplace harassment actually deserves the media attention.

This isn’t some competition on who has been more assaulted than the other. This is a discussion about how we should have a higher standard when it comes to sex, and that standard should be consensual and communicative. There are extreme power dynamics at play that allow men to use that privilege and power over women (and other men) as a way to have sex, even if it’s not explicitly consensual. As a very powerful, influential and supposedly feminist man, Ansari should have understood the responsibly he had and simply asked Grace if she was ok. The absence of a no does not equate an active yes.

As a response to many of Grace’s critics, TBS comedy show host Samantha Bee stated on her show that Ansari’s actions may not be defined explicitly as rape, but that still does not make it acceptable.

“It doesn’t have to be rape to ruin your life, and it doesn’t have to ruin your life to be worth speaking out about. Any kind of sexual harassment or coercion is unacceptable!”

It really shouldn’t be too much to ask to be treated like a person and have your emotions be validated during something as intimate as sex. If men can't be mature and communicative enough to handle that, maybe they should take some of Samantha Bee’s wise advice and go fuck something else: “May I suggest a coin purse? Or a Ziploc bag full of grape jelly?”

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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Donald Trump Is Not A Populist

Trump's style of politics is not even close to populism.

On 8 Jan, President Donald Trump announced that he would be attending this week’s World Economic Forum. The three-day meeting takes place in Switzerland, the banking capital of the world. The W.E.F. “strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest,” according to its mission page. Over its 48 years of existence, the forum has become synonymous with the global financial elite.

Attending the meeting in Davos should bite at the fabric of Trumpism. Many have said that Trump ran as a populist, assailing everyone from immigrants to the executives of Goldman Sachs. He won the 2016 election primarily by beating the polls in Rust Belt states like Michigan and Pennsylvania that normally vote for Democrats but that sided with Trump’s harder line on free trade that Hillary Clinton’s.

So why would Trump want to be seen with the likes of the CEO of the largest hedge fund in the world and the former president of the European Parliament? He would be the first president to R.S.V.P. to the W.E.F. since Bill Clinton; Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama were concerned that attending would hurt their images. Last year’s speakers railed against protectionism; Chinese President Xi Jinping said that “no one will emerge as a winner in a trade war.” The globalists in Davos might moderate their talk with Trump, the epitome of protectionism, in the room, but they might also take the opportunity to speak to him directly.

The root of the confusion at Trump's plan to attend is the assumption that Trump is a populist. The phrase “populism” is broad and hard to define. Google defines “populism” as “support for the concerns of ordinary people.” Populists tend to be called extremists, whether they are as far right as French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen or leftists like Senator Bernie Sanders. Generally, populists favor a stronger government and distrust all other institutions, including foreign governments. While anti-immigrant sentiment is common among populists, it is more central to populism to rail against the economic elites and globalization. Most of all, populists are stubborn to a fault; they hold true to their positions to the bitter end.

Trump famously began his campaign complaining that Mexican immigrants were overwhelming the country with crime. He also denounced the North American Free Trade Agreement (N.A.F.T.A.) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (T.P.P.) and accused Clinton of being too tied to Wall Street banks. But these are words, not actions.

In a meeting last Tuesday with members of Congress from both parties, Trump said that “we’re gonna do D.A.C.A.,” referring to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an executive order that Obama signed but Trump rescinded, “and then we’re gonna move on to phase two, which is comprehensive immigration reform.” This seems to cut against Trump’s anti-immigrant sentiment; he more or less assured Democrats that he would sign a bill that translated D.A.C.A. into a law instead of an executive order. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) stepped in and informed Trump that the Senate had tried to pass a D.A.C.A.-esque bill before, which then-Sen. Clinton had voted for.

Two days later, Trump had invited Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), both favorable to a humane approach to immigration reform, to further discuss immigration. When the Senators arrived at the White House, they learned that they would be joined by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and White House adviser Steven Miller, two immigration hard-liners. At the meeting, Durbin suggested a way to scale back the diversity visa lottery that Trump has assailed. In return, Durbin suggested favoring third-world nations in Africa and Latin America. Trump, in response, wondered why the United States was so focused on bringing in people from "shithole countries," according to both Graham and Durbin. He said the U.S. should accept more Norwegians and the like.

Many have reflected on whether those comments reflect racist sentiment on Trump's part, but consider this: Cotton, the far-right Senator, was at the Tuesday meeting, but was outnumbered by lawmakers closer to the center on immigration (Miller was not at that meeting). The second meeting saw Graham and Durbin become the smallest voices in the room. It is possible that Trump was simply appealing to his audience, acting tough on immigration, especially from developing countries, simply because he wanted right-wing legislators and advisers to think he was on their side. (On Sunday we saw the benefit of making borderline racist comments only with borderline racists: Cotton and Sen. David Purdue (R-Ga.) denied that Trump had suggested that the U.S. should limit immigration from the developing world.)

On his first full day in office, Trump withdrew the United States from T.P.P., a trade deal crafted by Obama binding together twelve nations representing 40% of the world economy. But that didn’t kill the deal; in fact, the other countries might have an easier time negotiating without concerns that Republicans in the American Congress will obstruct it, always a fear in international relations. The Trump administration is also renegotiating N.A.F.T.A. instead of throwing it out like he promised.

In regards to Wall Street, the President has not exactly kept bankers at arm’s length. Five members of his cabinet are alumni of Goldman Sachs. On Wednesday the administration began scaling back regulations authorized by the Community Reinvestment Act, which mandated that banks had to do more to alleviate poverty. And then there's the W.E.F., expected to be attended by leaders of some of the world's biggest banks.

When Trump announced his run for President, the media had become accustomed to labeling candidates: Obama was a reformer, Clinton was establishment, Sanders, by his own admission, was a democratic socialist. Trump was labeled as a populist for lack of a better term because he talked the talk. Now that he has been in office for a year and accomplished remarkably little of the right-wing agenda he espoused during the campaign, many are starting to realize that Trump may not be the populist they thought he was.

In fact, there doesn’t seem to be any -ism that accurately describes Trump’s ideological engagements because he says different things to different people. In public, he tells his supporters he wants to round up all the immigrants and throw them out of the country; to legislators, he says he wants D.A.C.A. to be enacted as a law. He assures the working class he is on their side; he assures the world economic elite he wants to attend their rich people party.

So what do we call this new style of politics? Perhaps we should call it approval-ism, after Trump’s desire for approval from whomever he is speaking to.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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