Speculation on why Salazar?

George Wuerthner analysis why Ken Salazar got the nod-

Why Salazar?  By George Wuerthner, New West.

One interesting thought is that with senator Ken Salazar gone, the much more progressive Mark Udall will become Colorado’s senior senator. I should add that for progressives to improve their senatorial lot in Colorado, Ken Salazar’s appointed replacement cannot be his perhaps even less progressive brother, congressman, John Salazar.





  1. jdubya Avatar

    Anybody think Salazar will reverse this??


  2. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    George sums it up very well. I feel that Salazar will be a better secretary than a lot of people expect. I have had conversations with him at his town meetings in Craig, CO. He war quite well informed and showed a definite interest in what I had to say.


  3. kt Avatar

    jdubya – No way. From what I hear, pubic lands are throw-away to the Obama admin. Public resources to on those lands to continue ot be exploited.

    Who cares if Colorado has a “more liberal” Senator or not? This is 260 million acres of alnd we are talking about, plus implementation of ESA protections for everything from polar bears to butterflies.

    I’m surprised with this column. It sounds atypical for George. The idea that this is really a Smart Move for Dems sounds like the usual defeatist post hoc rationalizing the Blue Dog types do – after they have been Had. Like Harry Reid after he has given away the farm once again.

    “We were really shrewd in how we lost …”.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Obama doesn’t have any reason to piss off a Democratic governor (Oregon’s). He will need lots of support to pass his stimulus package.

    It also depends on who the new BLM director is. I can’t imagine Salazar has any pro-logging axe to grind on the O and C lands in SW Oregon.

  5. kt Avatar

    The question is: Will this and all the rest of it be systematicakly and thoroughly rolled back? The news article makes it sound like the logging increase decision has been made at the Programmatic level with further site-specific analysis to follow. It may be easy to let a decision that does not actually cut trees stand. Death by a thousand incremental bureaucratic actions.

  6. Brian Ertz Avatar

    an honest question for those who hold a tempered response to the Salazar pick :

    Where is the bright line at which it becomes appropriate to demand progress for our wildlife and wild places ? as opposed to settling for this “half full” ‘better-than’ Bush mentality ?

    Is this enough ?

    I ask this honestly because I want to know whether there will ever be an end to this prescribed caution for temperance that seems to me might be very dangerous if allowed to exist with each following decision (as it has existed with the D congress, and even with Bush) . This is why I think anyone ‘willing to wait’ should decide up-front how long is reasonable to wait – decide now for oneself at what point it will become unreasonable to continue to wait – and hold to it – because if it’s not decided up front – I fear it will send the message that if what this administration wants to do is avoid controversy – it’s right in capitulating to extractive interests and avoiding the inevitability of controversy that can not be avoided should we hope to attain the progress for public land and wildlife in the west that they need (not just we want) simply because we’re ‘willing to wait’.

    What will be the reward for wildlife and our public landscapes given our willingness to wait ? That’s a fair question. I think not knowing the answer to that question might even make the willingness to wait unreasonable – at least after the first “burn” (fool me once).

    It seems to me, those willing to threaten the opposite of ‘willingness to wait’ (i.e. all that talk about the “next sagebrush rebellion”) are the one’s on the receiving end of Obama’s “moderate pragmatism” thus far. They’ve pulled “the center” to a rancher on the DOI question —-

  7. Salle Avatar

    I think that we need to make sure the screaming starts now, since the “waiting period” is not going to serve the wildlife and wilderness; look what’s already been happening while we’ve “waited”. I, personally, have been waiting a hell of a long time and at great expense.

    I have been making noises toward the incoming administration since their web site opened up and will be moving into a more aggressive mode on 1/21/09.

    Waiting really isn’t an option for me any longer.

  8. Alan Gregory Avatar

    Excellent – and pointed – editorial about Salazar in today’s NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/02/opinion/02fri1.html

  9. timz Avatar

    His appointment sounds like the same tired stuff that’s been going on for years in DC. Political payback and what’s best for me. But I guess you could still say it’s “change”.

  10. dbaileyhill Avatar

    A question for everyone-

    What else are we willing to sacrifice/lose forever while continuing to wait???

    I must agree with Salle and Brian. We need to be loud and clear from the start. More now than ever before. It is just too easy for the administration to say, there are much more important issues that need tending first. The powers that be are more than capable of multitasking. The problem is the multitasking has for the most part, been for their own gain. They need to listen now.
    I am not happy with receiving the “brush off” from a new administration. It is not good enough.

  11. Salle Avatar

    Mr. Gregory,

    I saw that and sent the link to Ralph in hopes that he would use it as one of today’s posts. It warrants discussion here, I think…

  12. jdubya Avatar

    From the Times editorial:

    “”The Interior Department is an unusually balkanized agency, with eight separate divisions charged with managing 500 million acres of public land in a way that balances private and public claims. It is essential that Mr. Salazar find the right people to run each of these fiefs, and find ways to make them work intelligently and harmoniously in the nation’s interest.””

    Hey, anyone who has run a Dairy Queen has got that skill set down cold!

  13. Buffaloed Avatar

    Paul Krugman posted a piece yesterday describing the GOP as a party of whiners and made this observation:

    Thus, some commentators warning President-elect Barack Obama against bold action have held up Bill Clinton’s political failures in his first two years as a cautionary tale.


    I think this ties in with Obama’s decision to appoint moderates to his cabinet. I think his choices have been off the mark and I hope I am wrong. It seems apparent to me that Obama is mis-judging the political environment he is operating in and could have made some real changes with his cabinet choices.

  14. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thanks Salle,

    Thank god, Udall will be on the Senate Natural Resources Committee!

  15. Brian Ertz Avatar

    to extend on Buffaloed’s citation :

    The reality of this strategy’s collapse has not, I believe, fully sunk in with some observers. Thus, some commentators warning President-elect Barack Obama against bold action have held up Bill Clinton’s political failures in his first two years as a cautionary tale.

    But America in 1993 was a very different country — not just a country that had yet to see what happens when conservatives control all three branches of government, but also a country in which Democratic control of Congress depended on the votes of Southern conservatives. Today, Republicans have taken away almost all those Southern votes — and lost the rest of the country. It was a grand ride for a while, but in the end the Southern strategy led the G.O.P. into a cul-de-sac.

    Mr. Obama therefore has room to be bold. If Republicans try a 1993-style strategy of attacking him for promoting big government, they’ll learn two things: not only has the financial crisis discredited their economic theories, the racial subtext of anti-government rhetoric doesn’t play the way it used to.

    The same is true with public land issues — Obama (or his team) fails to recognize the fundamentally different political landscape. The heavy-hitters in Congress that punished Clinton for the prospect of real reform at Interior (Craig, Domenici, Burns, etc.) are all gone. Democratic westerners that might be punished are largely :

    a) weak anyway, and often obstruct Democratic agenda anyway
    b) elected via more urbanized constituencies than ever before, even in the west.

  16. Salle Avatar

    Udall might be good for the position but did you notice that there is a “Salazar” on his team? I’d be interested in finding out what his “deal” is all about.

  17. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Brian is right.

    The Republicans are now the party of the South, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

    The Southern Republicans are in the same position as the “lily white” Democratic one-party South of the 1920s.

    The country will soon be in the same condition as in 1931. Bold action, not cautious reform, is needed, and it is the only thing that will work.

  18. JimT Avatar

    Ritter made his pick according to the Boulder Camera…the head of the Denver public school systems..Michael Bennett. Interesting choice, and from what I hear from my better half over coffee this morning, a good guy though a political neophyte. His wife has very green credentials as a former EarthJustice lawyer and a member of the Denver Water Board currently. Maybe she can “guide” him…VBG..

    So, why appoint someone who has never run for office, who has no staff, no fund raising group set up? My suspicion is that MB is a caretaker; that John Salazar or others will use the next two years to position themselves for a run at the seat in 2010 with the blessings of the party. We will see. If fundraising activities suddenly pick up for anyone, that will be a good clue. And if JB doesn’t quickly form a campaign and fundraising group, that too will be a huge clue.

    I don’t know if the Salazar on Mark’s staff in DC is related…Mark’s website may still be up and running, so an answer could be had there. He ran Mark’s campaign, so it is probably just a typical reward scenario, and not a takeover by the Salazar Brothers…VBG…

  19. kt Avatar

    And Ralph – one part of why ranchers and those fifth generationers hate the federal government so much is that many of their ancestors came from the South and the confederacy.
    Fleeing their slave holding, or slave holder-supporting ways.
    Then remaining in rural areas, not exposed to outside influences much, but controlling county-level governments up to the present.

    That, and of course the significant Mormon population in Utah and southern Idaho and across many backwater areas of N AZ, and NV. And dislike of the federal gov’t goes back to the Feds clamping down on polygamy. It was a real eye-opener to me to read about “bleeding the beast” in Jon Krakauer’s book – i. e. it was ok to lie or deceive to take things from the government.
    And the Mormons long had an antipathy toward Black people -not allowing them to join the church until – was it the early 1980s? I don’t know why Mormons held that blacks were sub-human, or something, for so long.

    So – Jeez – I see parallels between these red red states.

  20. jdubya Avatar

    kt, it was the mark of Cain…..


  21. kt Avatar

    jdubya Whoa! That is scary stuff.

    I can’t wait until the 2012 Mitt Romney-Sarah Palin (or vice versa) ticket. It will be a non-stop barrage of religious oddities.

    No wonder those school kids in Rexburg Idaho were chanting:


    Sure in line with voting with the Sons of the Confederacy.

  22. Salle Avatar

    Amazin’ ain’t it?


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan