Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.

The Last Best Empty Place in America – The New York Times

Source: The Last Best Empty Place in America – The New York Times

Tom McGuane: MSU Library Trout & Salmonid Lecture 2016 – YouTube

Donald Trump & Congressional Republicans’ Choice: Party of Lincoln or Sycophants? | National Review

Yesterday, the New York Times and the Washington Post both dropped stories that set Twitter aflame with speculation and outrage. The Times reported that “President Trump’s lawyers and aides are scouring the professional and political backgrounds of investigators hired by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.” The reason? They’re looking for conflicts of interest that could disqualify members of Mueller’s team, and might even be building a case to fire Mueller. At the same time, the Post reported that Trump “has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe.” In other words, it appears as if all options are on the table to block or disrupt the Russia probe. Indeed, the conduct of Trump surrogates looks like an effort to “prep the political battlefield” for a major move against the special counsel. For example, here’s Newt Gingrich last night on Fox News, discussing Mueller’s alleged conflicts of interest: .@newtgingrich: “The Mueller investigation has so many conflicts of interests, it’s almost an absurdity.” #Hannity pic.twitter.com/F4T8GZrTVX — Fox News (@FoxNews) July 21, 2017 Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow, my friend and former boss, denies that pardons are being discussed, but the Times and Post reports — combined with Trump’s own attacks on Mueller and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — point toward potential dramatic developments in the probe. Yes, the president may very well try to fire the special counsel. He may try to force out the attorney general. He may grant mass pardons to family members and close aides. While I think it’s unlikely, he may even try to pardon himself. If he does any one of these things — much less several in combination — the GOP will have to decide, once and for all, if it is an American political party or a craven, fearful instrument of Donald Trump’s personal brand. There are very few true-believer Trump allies on Capitol Hill. Sure, there are many folks who are genuinely impressed with the man’s electoral victory and admire his intense connection with his base, but even most of them would admit that he was their last choice in the primaries, that they voted for him because they considered the alternative to be worse, and that the main attraction of his presidency is the chance to pass conservative policies and confirm conservative nominees. They don’t trust him and they don’t like him. But — and this is important — at some level many of them fear him, or at least fear what he could do to their careers. Fear is a powerful motivator. Here we are, six months into his first term, and aside from the Judge Gorsuch nomination, meaningful conservative victories have been few and far between. Scandals and self-inflicted wounds abound. Planned Parenthood is still funded, Obamacare is still alive, and tax reform is still mainly a pipe dream. Trump has proven that he can and will blow up any and all news cycles at will. He’s proven that he sees loyalty as a one-way street: “You’re for me, and I’m for me.” No matter your record of previous support or friendship, you must do what he wants or face his public wrath. Yet still the GOP wall holds. Already Republicans have proven their capacity to defend conduct they’d howl about if the president were a Democrat. Trump has lost a campaign chair, national-security adviser, and foreign-policy adviser as a result of deceptions or problematic ties to Russia and its allies. His campaign chair, son, and son-in law took a meeting with Kremlin-linked Russian officials in furtherance of a professed Russian-government plan to help him win. He impulsively shared classified information with the Russian ambassador to Washington. He fired FBI director James Comey, unquestionably misled America about his reason for doing so, and trashed Comey’s reputation in front of our Russian foes. He and his team have made so many false statements about Russia that an entire cottage industry of YouTube videos exists to chronicle them. Democrats and the media have of course overreached as well, providing ample fodder for those who want to retreat to a position of pure partisan criticism. But one must ask: Is there a line that Trump can’t cross? Does the truth matter, or will the GOP act as his defense attorneys all the way to the bitter end? It’s safe to say that not one Republican officeholder ever thought they’d be defending conduct like Trump’s. It’s also safe to say that not one ever thought they’d do so for such meager political gains. Nor could they have imagined fearing mean presidential tweets or crude presidential insults. Yet here we are. Trump commands his legions, and GOP careers seemingly hang in the balance. Call me pessimistic, but we’re moving toward a political reality where GOP silence and loyal GOP defenses may lead Trump to believe he can do virtually anything and escape accountability. The GOP is enabling his worst instincts. After all, Democratic rage is meaningless to him, and he re

Source: Donald Trump & Congressional Republicans’ Choice: Party of Lincoln or Sycophants? | National Review

Bay Journal – Article: Bay Journal to lose EPA funding

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Source: Bay Journal – Article: Bay Journal to lose EPA funding

39 degrees, 43 minutes

Admittedly I have struggled with the putting into words my reaction to the events in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Born, raised and schooled in New Hampshire, whose state motto is Live Free or Die, but now having lived more of my life in Virginia, I was struggling to understand how strong feelings of southern heritage had been co-opted by hate groups. How could I express my sense of right and wrong?

My good friend Tim Mead, who’s thinking I respect and admire, posted his Manifesto on his Facebook page. Nothing I could write would improve it or capture my thinking any better.

1. Nazism is evil. Saying there are other evils in the world, as has been done in the last week, does not mitigate the evil of Nazism. Making that case is an attempt to distract us from the real issue.
2. Persons who arrive at a public gathering carrying lighted torches, flags bearing Swastikas, clubs, and yelling racial, ethnic, and religious slurs are looking for trouble. Despite a claim, these are not “nice people.”
3. Apprehension that “political correctness” diminishes the richness of public and private discourse does not justify racial, ethnic, and religious slurs. One of the hallmarks of a civilized society is respect for other persons. Those who lack such respect, therefore, must be considered uncivilized.
4. The United States of America was founded on such respect. Has it always been manifested in its most prefect form? By all of our national leaders? No to both questions. Has progress been made? Yes. We ought not regress to an earlier standard.
5. Statues are symbols. Statues of Confederate heroes were erected in two periods. One after 1876 and through roughly 1920. To resolve the disputed election of 1876, Republicans essentially ceded to Southern Democrats the power to usher in the shameful Jim Crow period. The other started after May 17, 1954, the date Brown v. Board of Education was decided, and lasted through the late 1960s, the end of the Martin Luther King led Civil Rights period. What do these periods share? These statues were erected for political purposes. Now they are being removed for political purposes. For those with a “let locals decide” bent, note the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue was decided by local officials. Turn-about is fair play.
6. Much of politics is symbolic. And symbols are important. Consider, as an example, the hoorah about athletes standing for the national anthem. It doesn’t make a RAs difference (for those without an academic background, RA stands for Resident Assistant) for the game whether the national anthem is played (indeed, the practice was only started during the Red Scare of the 1920s) or athletes stand. And the athletes who chose to stand or not stand do so as symbols.
7. In many senses, what we are seeing is nostalgia for the Confederacy. Let’s make this very clear. The constitutional argument, then and now, for the Confederacy was state’s rights. And the right the states which secceeded, unsuccessfully as it turned out, was the right to maintain chattel slavery. During the late 1950s and 1960’s the argument for state’s rights was the right to maintain Jim Crow.
8. The United States is not a Christian nation, hostile to other religions, and where other religions are forced to take secondary places.
9. The United States is not a white nation, hostile to other races, and where other races are forced to take secondary places.
10. Folks who disagree with any of the above are free, indeed I invite you, to unfriend me.

Don’t Believe the Lies. Sportsmen Remain United on Conservation Issues

When it comes to the outdoors, Americans agree on the core issues

Source: Don’t Believe the Lies. Sportsmen Remain United on Conservation Issues