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August 19, 2007 08:57 PM UTC

Sunday's Good, Bad, Ugly & Hilarious If It Wasn't So Sad

  • by: davidsirota

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Catching up on my Colorado and national news this Sunday, I caught this week’s Good, Bad, Ugly and Hilarious-If-It-Wasn’t-So-Sad. Without further ado, here’s a roundup.


Don’t miss the op-ed in the Rocky Mountain News by Fran Ricker of the Colorado Nurses Association and Kristen Hannum of Health Care for All Colorado. Also check out Michele Swenson’s piece on the same topic over at the Bell Policy Institute’s new blog. They make a compelling case for a single-payer universal health care system here in Colorado. That proposal is starting to get some legs around the country. Just this year, the Wisconsin Senate passed a plan like this. But as with any health care push, it faced major opposition by Republican legislators and the health insurance and drug industry lobbyists that underwrite the GOP. We are already seeing the same kind of right-wing pushback here in Colorado (more on that below). The Republican Party has launched a preemptive attack on Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter’s (D) Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform – before the commission has even released its recommendations. Nonetheless, it looks like the movement to achieve universal health care is getting organized, and Colorado should be ground zero in the fight.


The Denver Post reports that Ritter’s administration backed off its plans to let state employee organizations hold meetings, obtain e-mail addresses of fellow public employees and use state mailrooms to engage in civic and nonpartisan activities – you know, stuff like bake sales, union organizing, blood drives, charity fundraisers and distributing after-work kickball team schedules. Republicans like wild-eyed conservative Sen. Josh Penry are trying to make this Anti-Kickball Team Campaign a centerpiece of their message this year at a time when Colorado faces major energy, health care and economic challenges (and then the GOP here wonders why voters tossed them out of office). They claim that the proposed rules would have made Colorado a “union paradise.”

Not surprisingly, the editorial board of the conservative Rocky Mountain News today backs the Republicans – even though the same editorial (which isn’t online yet) notes that any state employee organization that would have used the new rules would have been compelled “to pay all associated costs involved in any mailings, refrain from criticizing management in e-mails, and permit employees to opt out of correspondence.” In other words, the Rocky acknowledges that the rules would have meant no cost to taxpayers at all, yet nonetheless thinks the Republican War on Kickball and Bake Sales and Blood Drives is admirable.

The pieces are a reminder that we should never underestimate just how crazed and paranoid the anti-union movement in this country really is. They are so obsessed and so deluded with a hatred for workers that they are now willing to claim that a rule to allow the distribution of after-work kickball team schedules and promotion of employee blood drives is actually a secret scheme to turn a state into a “union paradise” merely because the rule applies to all employee organizations and doesn’t specifically exclude unions.


The Colorado Springs Gazette, perhaps the most extremist right-wing editorial board in America (and I know, that’s saying a lot), pens a fulminating screed today essentially saying Colorado has no health care problems at all, likening the 785,000 Coloradoans without health insurance to a grotesque horror-film monster (“a blob”), and saying that no major changes need to occur to deal with the situation. The Gazette employs all the traditional right-wing “welfare queen”-style stereotypes and half truths, the most odious of these is the one that claims 11 percent of uninsured Coloradoans “can get coverage through their employers, but choose not to.” As I show in my book Hostile Takeover, this “choose to” phraseology is a poll-tested fantasy manufactured by health and drug lobbyists in Washington. The hard data shows that most of the people who supposedly “choose to” not get health insurance from employers who offer it (which is a decreasing number) make that “choice” because they can’t afford the premiums.

The Gazette also disgustingly parrots President Bush’s recent claim that America already has terrific universal health care because “After all, you [can] just go to an emergency room.” The Gazette takes a page right out of that line, and tries to sprinkle a barely-masked bit of anti-immigrant nastiness to it, claiming “the roughly 20 percent of uninsured who are non-citizens aren’t really without medical care, because Medicaid covers them in case of emergencies.” Yes, because emergency room care is really a wonderful and effective way to get health care. Luckily, public opinion data shows that the America is no longer falling for this propaganda anymore, with most Americans now strongly supporting the concept of a universal, government-sponsored health care system in the Medicare for Everybody mold. So, in a way, I’m glad Republican organs like the Gazette keep spewing their nonsense – it just helps marginalize them even more.


In a national column that is running today on the Rocky Mountain News’ editorial page, famed D.C. chickenhawk and 101st Fighting Keyboard Commander Clifford May tells America that the so-called “surge” in Iraq is going wonderfully and that everything is going according to plan in the Iraq War – the war he pushed as the most important endeavor in American history, yet the war that he refuses to enlist to go fight in. This is the same Cliff May who last year said that his blogging in support of having other people’s kids go off to die in Iraq is “equally consequential” to national security as serving in the military. So, it’s no surprise that May’s latest column ignores McClatchy Newspapers’ report this week that “no pattern of improvement is discernible for violence during the five months of the surge.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with the Denver Post, the new head of the oil and gas industry’s lobbying arm in Colorado tells the growing number of families and communities frustrated by her industry’s encroachment on their property should just “call the company” they are upset with and “have a relationship with them” – as if just ringing up your friendly neighborhood multinational oil company and nicely begging them to move their drill off your front lawn will result in them saying “sure.” The line sounds like part of the oil industry’s broader campaign to portray itself as a friendly but mistreated victim – a campaign to try to claim that it shouldn’t be better regulated by any new landowner-rights laws.

Cross-posted from Working Assets


6 thoughts on “Sunday’s Good, Bad, Ugly & Hilarious If It Wasn’t So Sad

  1. Something I haven’t seen in the current coverage of industry vs. surface owners is an analysis of who owns the mineral rights under this land (if it’s been done, I’ve missed it).  The whole issue of surface-owners’ rights arises only because at some point, the mineral estate was severed from the surface estate.  That is, some previous landowner sold the surface rights (perhaps to a developer) but retained ownership of the minerals underground.  And it seems to be a consistent legal position that surface owners have an obligation to provide mineral owners an easement so that the mineral owners can realize the value of their holdings.  Typically, the oil company does not outright purchase the mineral rights.  Rather, the company obtains a lease and pays an upfront fee plus royalty to the mineral owner, as well as a negotiated fee to any surface owners whose property is affected by the operations.

    The conflict between surface and mineral owners is not an issue on federal lands, where the federal government almost certainly retains both mineral and surface estates.  But on private lands, I wonder who the mineral owners are who are benefiting from this boom?  Former ranchers (or their descendants) who sold off their land to be developed?  Speculators who trade in mineral rights?  Do the federal or state governments retain minerals on land whose surface rights have been sold privately?

    I hope that now, at least, when people are buying property in oil and gas producing areas of Colorado that they are asking questions about mineral rights.  It seems that many people (certainly many whom I’ve talked to) are unaware that mineral rights can be separated from surface ownership.  I suspect, though, that developers and real estate agents would have a harder time selling land if they were required to provide an upfront notice that the mineral rights were held separately and that and oil company could show up tomorrow with a drilling rig.

    1. federal land?  Meaning, we all own it.  And that’s why the Feds hold leasing auctions. 

      Obviously, private property is a whole different issue. 

      I think a fair counter arguement to providing access is that the mineral rights owners can take all the minerals they want BUT they can’t disturb the surface owner’s home, safety, or operations.  I know it doesn’t work that way, but it’s just as philosophically supportable.  Use slant drilling or whatever, or buy out the surface rights owner.

      The separating of surface and mineral rights has long been the norm almost everywhere in America.  The developers or there assignees therefore have a possible revenue stream some time in the future. A simple title search will show the status of these rights.  It’s no secret and should never catch anyone who can read off guard.

      1. I wasn’t really thinking about the Roan, more about the stories of people waking up one morning to find a drilling rig in the petunia bed.  Is it usually the developers who retain the minerals?  I think a big problem on the Slope is that properties have been bought by people not used to living in the oil patch.  They must not have thought it likely that the minerals would ever be an issue?  Or did they just not understand the concept of a severed estate (I think that’s the term)?  And while there may be better ways of handling mineral access, I doubt you’d be able to alter existing rights without “takings clause” issues coming into play.

        1. Much of the split estate issue can be traced to some of the early land acts that (eventually) severed the surface estate from the mineral estate, creating two sets of title as it were.  A sizable amount of split estate land is thus private surface/public (federal) mineral.  The Roan Plateau Planning Area includes all three surface/fluid mineral situations(private/private, public/public, and private/public).  The lands that are contested, which comprise about 1/3 of the planning area are the public lands atop the plateau and some critical winter range/wildlife security zones at the base.  1/2 of the planning area is either already owned or leased by the oil and gas industry.  The remainder are public lands in the vicinity of existing development (along the I-70 corridor) and outside of critical habitat, and (in spite of the rhetoric from COGA and its allies like Sen. Penry who repeatedly claim that opponents to Roan drilling want to drive the industry from the state) are not subject to much debate or contention. 

        2. ….most urban areas have severed (I like that term) rights. Nothing to do with history of extraction just another income stream even if a hundred years or more down the road. 

          Without the split of rights, if an exploration company wanted oil under your property by slant drilling, say, they would have to pay you.  (Presuming you even knew that that rig over in the industrial park was sucking up your oil.)

          Much easier to buy up rights in bulk and cheap on the off chance that one day they will pay off. That’s what the “landmen” do.  GW was one.

          That’s how I see it.  The rights knowledge I have is from when I had to take the RE license in CA, and also a RE law class.  Could be rusty….and cynical.

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