By Michael Cox
Three rings? We passed three rings a long time ago. For those who have yet to move into their fourth decade, the rings I am referring to are those that used to make up the classic three-ring circus show. There were the elephants in ring one, the clowns in their exploding car in ring two, and in the center ring, there was the lion tamer.
The circus that we are now watching in Colorado makes Barnum and Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth seem like a Huckleberry Hound cartoon. And so far, every ring has clowns and not much else. A lot of the clowns resemble the evil “Killer Clowns from Outer Space” rather than a lovable guy (or gal) in big shoes, a fluffy collar, and a rubber nose. From my cheap bleacher seat, it looks like the Killer Clowns are hunting Colorado ag producers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I call your attention to Ring Number One,” (cue the calliope) shouts the ringmaster. “By special permission from King Polis, directly from Liberal City, Colorado, here are the PAUSE Twins, Alexander Sage of Broomfield and Brent Johannes of Boulder. Watch as they try to destroy the livestock industry with a silly little petition that ends animal husbandry in the Rocky Mountains.” (Bada boom, rim shot from the drummer.)
The tone-deaf declaration by Gov. Jared Polis calling for a Meat Out day produced a groundswell of pushback from just about everybody outside of the Denver-Boulder stockade. But this PAUSE petition has now become Proposition 16 and is being offered for signatures to get it on the 2022 ballot. It has been met with panic, outcry, ridicule, yelling, editorial writing, and fundraising by groups like the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, which are already pouring money into the movement to bring the public’s attention to the intended consequences of the proposition.
Prop 16 would outlaw artificial insemination, livestock people from assisting animals in birthing, and many other standard practices. Food animals would live too long to produce quality meat. The petition has until August 2022 to gather 125,000 signatures. Social media is ablaze with memes, ads, and groups which are wasting no time trying to put an exploding cigar into the mouths of the PAUSE advocates.
Meanwhile, (cue the slide trombone) over in ring two we can watch another clown act as Colorado General Assembly Sen. Jessie Danielson and Reps. Karen McCormick and Yadira Caraveo form a firing squad and aim their confetti cannon at every employer in the farm and ranch sector. Except, it is not confetti they are firing. It is live ammo aimed at smothering the ag business in regulations that will paralyze employer-employee relationships, destroy jobs, and do nothing more than duplicate laws that already solve the problems this one purports to put to rest.
This act has not been well received. The boos come from everyone, but AFL-CIO and a band of gypsies camped on the Capital lawn, have been forceful. The bill went before the Business, Labor, and Technology Committee, where it was met with flower bouquets from the Democrats and squirting flowers from the Republican side with their witnesses, who bothered to bring some serious shortcomings of the measure to the committee’s attention. While the committee consists of four Ds to three Rs, it could make it to the Assembly, but it won’t be an easy go with the Democrats in the AG sector, aligning themselves against it.
(Sinister music from the orchestra) “Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, I direct your attention to the Center Ring as King Polis and his pack of 50 totally untrained gray wolves, surprisingly enter the ring, early. Aahhh, excuse me Governor, you’re a year early with the wolves.”
“Yes, I am, Mr. Ringmaster, but they have been staying with us, one of them ate the First Gentleman’s kitty and he said they have to go, so here we are.”
Moving along to Ring Four, we find The Circus meeting the Destruction Derby as the Federal Highway Administration and the Colorado Department of Transportation set up to perform, right before your eyes, the world’s biggest traffic jam. They will attempt to best the Guinness record jam of 12 days and 62 miles. Since the scope of the scene is too large to fit into our tent, we are streaming in a Zoom meeting image of the event. Keep your eyes on the laptop in Ring Four as several thousand cars and trucks attempt passage through the Little Blue Canyon all at the same time. The event is presented three times daily over the next several months.
But wait, there is more, in Ring Five here comes our latest clown car, the Colorado Department of Ag’s 2020 Hempmobile. I think that’s Miss Kate driving. This car is made entirely out of hemp fiber and runs on CBD oil. Watch as this green machine takes a lap, wait, there is another vehicle in the tent. Uh oh, it’s the DEA with red lights and siren on their 1972 Marijuana roadster. That car is equipped with an antique wacky-backy sniffer. The Hempmobile must be running on fumes.