Friday, January 12, 2018

Trump Organization Snubs Montana Republicans

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could have prevented a load of bad press by paying Montana to set prescribed burns before the 2017 fire season.
Democratic Senator Jon Tester says another reason FEMA likely turned down Montana’s request is because the agency doesn't have the money. “I think it puts Montana's budget in even more perilous situation," Tester says. "And you know, the fact is that fire is a natural disaster. And I know that FEMA's been pounded a lot by floods, and hurricanes and all sorts of national disasters, but the truth is that fire also creates havoc.”
Read the rest here.

Montana's Democratic governor declared a state of emergency after fires cleared a century of conifer and cheatgrass infestation even as the state's GOP earth haters went off on the environmental community blaming groups for litigation they say blocks logging in parts of the state.

But, 2017's wildland fires on private ranch land in southeastern Montana dwarfed those on public ground in the western part of the state. The 270,000-acre Lodgepole Complex, the Sartin Draw Fire near Broadus and the Battle Complex near Birney burned at least 100,000 and 185,000 acres respectively, decades of invasive grasses and poor stewardship to blame.

County commissions are infamous for rubber-stamping new homebuilding in the wildland-urban interface and like Greg Gianforte's donors they are among the first blaming environmentalists for bringing science-based decision-making to forest policy.

Volunteer fire departments are irreplaceable as first responders to unexpected blazes and if the Federal Emergency Management Agency survives a Trump presidency it should convince Congress to make sure the resources are there to sustain rural fire departments. VFDs should be empowered and paid to conduct prescribed fires along rights of way to reduce the likelihood of range fires but most say they don't have the assets or incentive to conduct fuel treatments. If counties and the state just burned off their road and highway rights of way every year that creates substantial fire breaks.

Republicans are guilty of whitewashing the Trump White House responses to the needs in eastern Montana where Trump won overwhelmingly.

Ponderosa pine isn't native to Montana. Clear the second growth Pinus ponderosa and restore aspen habitat, prescribe burns, begin extensive Pleistocene rewilding using bison and cervids, enlist tribes and buy out ranchers or lease private land for wildlife corridors, turn feral horses from Bureau of Land Management pastures onto other public land to control exotic grasses and elect Democrats to lead the way.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Could New Mexico Democrats allow Governor Martinez a legacy?

Query: would Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez sign a cannabis bill if Democrats support capital punishment for Victoria Martens' killers?

Despite the astronomical legal costs of prosecuting capital offenses, the grisly murder of an Albuquerque girl and shooting death of a Hatch cop have prompted calls from small-government Republicans in New Mexico to resurrect the death penalty for certain crimes.
Legislators and then-Gov. Bill Richardson repealed the death penalty in 2009. Though Martinez called to reinstate capital punishment when she took office in 2011, subsequent bills to bring back the death penalty languished early in her first term. [Santa Fe New Mexican]
A Nebraska study showed that that state spends about $14.6 million per year on the death penalty: a price New Mexico simply cannot afford to pay.

Senators in the single-chamber Nebraska Legislature voted 30-19 to override the veto of GOP Governor Pete Ricketts who supports the death penalty. Ricketts has retaliated by vowing to execute people on death row anyway after ordering drugs illegally from outside the United States.

Montana is grappling with capital punishment, too.

The litigation costs of trying a capital crime persuaded Nebraska to abandon state-sponsored killing: how are the prices and the human costs of putting people to death against their will either conservative or sustainable?

Personally? This blog believes persons convicted of capital crimes should have the right to decide his or her punishment whether it be death or living a life of Hell in a prison cell.

A state-ordered lethal injection isn't criminal justice; it's suicide by cop. Hell is life in the Penitentiary of New Mexico or in a Colorado Supermax.

The state-ordered death penalty looks far more like vengeance than justice: it's not self-reliance; it's moral hazard.

State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Albuquerque) wants all adults in New Mexico to be able to grow, possess, and buy cannabis legally.

His resolution needs a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and the House to get the measure on the ballot for voters to decide bypassing a governor's veto.

New Mexico's opioid overdose rates have been plummeting thanks to the state's therapeutic cannabis program. The state's Department of Health recently announced the therapeutic cannabis program has risen to 45,347 total patients or a 77 percent increase over the same period last year.

Researchers and pharmacologists agree: cannabis is a safe and effective treatment as a bridge to recovery from opioid addiction. University of New Mexico researchers and the Industrial Rehabilitation Clinics of Albuquerque have released findings that showed 71% of patients either ceased or reduced their use of manufactured opioids within 6 months of enrolling in that state's medical cannabis program.

Democrats are keenly aware that to energize millennials and a jaded base radical times call for sensible approaches to reforms of civil liberties for all adults even if it means enduring some feces-throwing from the earth hater Big Food, Big Booze, Big Pharma, NFL set.

Initiated law is a blunt instrument: cannabis statutes need to be hammered out in committee then ground into legislative sausage, passed then presented to the governor. Vermont's legislature just showed us how it's supposed to work.

But why not throw Susana a bone by letting her craft a legacy based on bipartisanship instead of on a history of lawsuits?

Democrats should put a sunset clause on capital punishment applied after Victoria Martens' killers' trials, their appeals and are put to death or imprisoned for life, draft legislation that accelerates legal cannabis then offer it to the governor.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Jeff Sessions channels Lee Atwater with threat to overturn Cole Memo

“It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission.”

The United States has a label for non-white men: felons.

Anyone believing that African-Americans, Latino-Americans, or American Indians are imprisoned disproportionately because they are more often criminals is wrong. In fact, white people per capita commit at least as many drug-related crimes as their non-white brethren o amigas.

The provisions of the Cole Memo were written to reduce violence and reverse the selective jailing of people of color. Its reversal could end tribal cannabis.
It could, however, be an opportunity for Democrats. In California, the law that legalized pot drew most of its support from two factions of the party’s traditional base: Young voters and black voters. For a party whose midterm chances rest significantly on its ability to turn out voters in greater numbers than usual, pushing for legal marijuana could make a difference.
Read that here.

Michelle Alexander is an associate professor of law at Ohio State University, a civil rights lawyer, an activist, and was a law clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun. She is the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

As part of the Lannan Foundation's Cultural Freedom Lecture series, the Lensic Performing Arts Center in downtown Santa Fe was packed to the rafters with one of most multicultural audiences this interested party has ever witnessed in one room. During one thought experiment she used the example of any kid in South Dakota (a state where suicide is the 9th leading cause of death) having easy access to illegal drugs but whose family can't afford or lives too far from clinical care.

A plank of the Southern Strategy seeking to assuage poor white people in the wake of the civil rights movement, the so-called 'War on Drugs' declared by the Nixon White House, then institutionalized by the Reagan and Clinton Administrations, redefined caste in the United States becoming a policy tool for the mass incarceration of non-white men.
Jarvious Cotton cannot vote. Like his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather, he has been denied the right to participate in our electoral democracy. Cotton’s family tree tells the story of several generations of black men who were born in the United States but who were denied the most basic freedom that democracy promises—the freedom to vote for those who will make the rules and laws that govern one’s life. Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Ku Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation. His father was barred from voting by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Jarvious Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole. --excerpt from The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.
Plea agreements are legal coercion. Alexander called on those asked to serve jury duty to lie to the court about your feelings and nullify convictions of any person accused of non-violent drug crimes. She counsels people arrested and indicted for non-violent drug crimes to refuse plea agreements then force jury trials to overwhelm the broken system.

Listen to part of the basis for what Michelle Alexander calls the New Jim Crow at WYNC's On the Media:
Lee Atwater became one of the most complicated and successful Republican political operatives in history by employing a triple threat: spin when you can, change the subject when you can’t, and if all else fails, appeal to the voters’ resentment and fear, usually of African-Americans. In this conversation from 2008, Brooke talks to Stefan Forbes, director of "Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story", about the dark legacy of Atwater’s Southern strategy.
Ms. Alexander reminded the mostly flaming liberal attendees that had Barry Obama been raised in the 'hood his chances would have been unremarkably grim.

Sessions' actions have all the reek of an administration rotting from the inside out and from the outcry from nearly every sector suggests voters know the Trump swamp is just another rat-infested sewer washing out during an overdue winter bomb cyclogenesis.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Black Hills hunting season begins despite decline in cougar population

This killing round is set at 60 cougars total or 40 females, whichever comes first.

Last year’s donnybrook ended after killing 32 total 17 of which were girl cats. More snow usually means more carnage. The derby is scheduled to end March 31st provided there isn't adequate killing before then.

During one season a white christian trophy hunter illegally slew a three-month old, fourteen pound cougar kitten in the Black Hills. The idiot was cited for a class one misdemeanor improper tagging, which carries a penalty of fines to $1,000, one year in jail and loss of hunting privileges for a year.

The incident is par for the course in Lawrence County where firearms and alcohol with meth chasers are as common as sibling marriages.

South Dakota's Republican-owned wildlife killing arm reports the cougar population peaked sometime in 2011 at about 400 but declined to maybe 300 now after sanctioned hunting began.

Under pressure from the Humane Society of the United States Game, Fish and Plunder has reversed itself on hunting with weaponized dogs.
“We are very pleased to see the Commission vote in favor of protecting South Dakota’s rare and iconic mountain lions. Only a handful of these cats exist in South Dakota and very few ever make it out of the Black Hills and onto the Prairie. Allowing hound hunting on public lands in the Prairie would harm the species’ ability to survive in our state."
Read that here.

Cougars in the Black Hills had enjoyed and thrived in a habitat free of wolves for a little over a hundred years; but that's all over now.

Robust aspen habitats on the Black Hills and a healthy cougar population are relative and critical to ruffed grouse survival. Humans tampering with the ecosystem has resulted in a trophic cascade where the slaughter of cougars allowed mesopredators like coyotes and bobcats to flourish only to depress grouse numbers.

As the eradication of cougars in the Black Hills continues some of the big cats are defending their territory against domestic invaders.

GF&P may have been interested in science at some point in its past but like Douglas fir, lodgepole pine and as revenues collapse the eventual extirpation of mountain lions from the Black Hills looks like a given.

The reasoning is hardly mysterious: it's all about the money hunting and public lands grazing funnel into a region smothering under single-party rule.