Told you so: insurance companies losing money in western states

Self-reliance or moral hazard? 

County commissions are infamous for rubber-stamping new homebuilding in the wildland-urban interface and like most Republicans in the Mountain West they are among the first blaming environmentalists for bringing science-based decision-making to forest policy.

Utilities, insurers, county commissions, lenders and developers need to be held accountable for building tinder boxes packed so closely together that homeowners can see into each others bathrooms. Counties should be able to fine property owners who fail to create defensible space or clear dry fuels. Well-funded local and volunteer fire departments could conduct prescribed fires and burn road ditches to create buffers where contract fire specialists don’t exist. But even government can't always protect you from your own stupidity.
“We’ve had a lot of larger residential houses where we’re not able to find them an option at all,” said Jake Boles, an Alamogordo-based insurance agent and board chair for Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico. On Friday, State Farm announced it will no longer accept new property insurance applications for homes or businesses in California. Patty Padon, the executive director of Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico, says State Farm’s announcement is frightening. Padon worries about a potential domino effect. She says insurance providers will typically follow after each other when it comes to deciding what situations to cover. [State Farm hesitant to insure northern New Mexico homes]
Told you so.

ip image: Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire from Red Rock Road.


Red River ponders hosting OMGs. Whither Sturgis?


Update: Las Vegas, New Mexico has canceled its motorcycle rally as the US Marshals Service and other federal law enforcement agencies warn of heightened, even unprecedented violence among OMGs.


Update: Red River will no longer advertise its Memorial Day event as a motorcycle rally destination.


In the 1960s and 70s Deadwood, South Dakota's most famous brothel owner, Pam Holliday gave generously to charities, befriended the motorcycle gangs that came to the Black Hills and offered a safe house for gun smugglers.

Today, most, if not all, meth and fentanyl in South Dakota is trafficked by white Trump-worshiping motorcycle clubs. These hordes are essentially domestic terrorists operating with the blessings of the prison/industrial complex. 

The Sons of Silence, Bandidos and Hells Angels control organized crime in the Black Hills area where members have infiltrated nearly every community even operating Rapid City's Cornerstone Rescue Mission for a time as a front for their activities. Former Cornerstone director, Dan Island, build a Lawrence County mansion and together with his brother Frank built a cocaine and meth empire before their deaths.

Red River, New Mexico is a town of  about 600 souls that gambled on some 28,000 bikers then was terrorized by members of rival outlaw motorcycle gangs. Sturgis, South Dakota is a town of just over 7000 terrorized every year by at least 1% of 500,000 white, violent, drunk and cranked up outlaws and their machines. 
The FBI has listed the Bandidos — which originated in Texas — alongside the Hells Angels, Outlaws and Pagans as one of the largest motorcycle gangs in the U.S., with ties to “murder, bombings, extortion, arson, and assault," among other criminal activities. The New Mexico Department of Homeland Security was called in to aid with resource requests, according to a department spokesperson, who emphasized that state police are leading the investigation. [Future of Red River motorcycle rally uncertain in aftermath of shootout]
I operated in the Black Hills hospitality market for twenty five years. At Twin City Fruit and Sysco the Sturgis Rally was the peak of the tourist season and made or broke profits for the year. In my construction business I saw first-hand how methamphetamine served the needs of the locals. 

But, a red moocher state like South Dakota is powered by sin: video lootery, a loan shark industry that preys on the least fortunate and a too-big-to-jail banking racket fill in the gaps created by lobbyists who enjoy the protection of single-party tyranny. Desperate to pay off those who benefit the entrenched Republican establishment criminals can expect to have champions sitting as governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Motorcycle gang violence in Oklahoma City took the lives of three bikers in April.

Graphic: Hunter Dunteman, Mitchell Daily Republic.


Space command move delayed as Biden administration weighs reproductive care. Whither Ellsworth?

According to Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO) the interim US Space Command Headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base near Colorado Springs is near or even at full operational capability so moving it to deep red Alabama where women's rights have been eviscerated seems politically motivated. But so far, the Biden administration insists access to reproductive care is not part of its strategic decision.
“Colorado Springs is the best place for Space Command because it’s already at work here, with tangible results, about which all of us should be proud,” Hickenlooper said on the Senate floor earlier this month. “We shouldn’t risk our national security. We should keep Space Command in Colorado Springs where it belongs.“ [New investigation opened into Space Command decision]
The 45th Space Wing has been around since my dad's days in the United States Air Force and Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City, South Dakota was an alternative emergency landing site for the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Space Transportation System. In 2005 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) Republicans like Bruce Rampelberg helped to make Ellsworth an even bigger target for retaliatory attacks but today exercises over the Powder River Training Complex are suspended in part because of the poor condition of B-1 bombers stationed at Ellsworth.

Contractors say the B-21 Raider isn't expected to be delivered until maybe 2030 so which will it be: a bomber base in South Dakota or is a state law targeting pregnant people already jeopardizing military readiness? 

TriCare pays for some abortions chosen by military personnel so after Kristi Noem becomes some Earth hater's Veep choice will a Governor Larry Rhoden sue to overturn a winning ballot measure codifying Roe?

New Mexico has the bases for the B-21 and the space for women’s rights, too.


OMGs kill more in New Mexico

All eight individuals involved were identified as OMG members. The three deceased individuals have been identified as Anthony Silva, 26 of Los Lunas, NM, Randy Sanchez, 46 of Albuquerque, NM, and Damian Breaux, 46 of Socorro, NM: New Mexico State Police.

A 2015 shootout in Waco, Texas between the Bandidos and Cossacks resulted in the deaths of and injuries to several members of motorcycle clubs encouraged by a law enforcement industry that benefits from programs like Policing for Profit. Nobody was ever convicted because Texas has a "stand your ground" law.

Hells Angels, Bandidos, Sons of Silence and other outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) own property in the Black Hills area to serve as bases of operation for sex and meth trafficking much of it through what appear to be legitimate businesses but New Mexico is hardly immune from gang activity.
Three people have been killed and five others were injured during a shootout Saturday (May 27) in Red River, the Taos News has confirmed, putting an early end to the town's 41st Annual Red River Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally. "We plan for this event every year, it's our 41st year to do this," [Red River Mayor Linda] Calhoun told the Taos News in a phone interview around 10:30 Saturday night. "And we had about 40 state police in town, our five law enforcement, and we had some county sheriff's [deputies]. Always, when there's that big of a group in town, you know 25,000 people, there's the possibility that something could happen. "Be advised, there is another shootout going on — a rolling shootout — between Banditos [Motorcycle Club] and someone else," an officer reported at approximately 5:45 p.m. over Taos County Central Dispatch. [Taos News]
Yes, Republicans would rather blame immigrants on the southern border for trafficking drugs like fentanyl but ignore the Trump-loving OMGs for killing hundreds of thousands of Americans every year.


Montana joins New Mexico, North Dakota, Wyoming in protecting Indigenous foster care

The Supreme Court of the United States is hearing arguments in Brackeen v. Haaland to determine whether the Indian Child Welfare Act or ICWA violates the constitution by considering placement of Indigenous children solely based on race. Tribal nations are recognized by the federal government as political sovereigns and not a racial group. 

New Mexico codified protections in 2022 and according to attorney Kate Fort ICWA is constitutional so it's not impossible Justice Neil Gorsuch will side with the sane members of the Court like he did in McGirt v. Oklahoma.
The Montana bill was amended by lawmakers to sunset after two years. Its Democratic sponsor, Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, said he initially introduced the measure a decade ago after some state district court judges were not following the federal law in Native children custody cases. In Montana, nearly 11% of all children are Indigenous, but they made up 37% of those in foster care in 2021, according to the National Indian Child Welfare Association. [Montana acts to protect Native American priority in adopting Native children]
In my home state Republican former South Dakota Governors Mike Rounds, Denny Daugaard and Attorney General Marty Jackley covered up their state's abuses after NPR took on that state’s Duck Dynasty in a three part exposé. Pennington County's behavior has been called shocking and the late Democratic former US Senator James Abourezk even urged the federal government to sue the State of South Dakota after the Guardian published a long piece on the plight of thousands of American Indian children seized by the South Dakota Department of Social Services. Sen. Abourezk shepherded the passage of ICWA in 1978.

South Dakota's current Republican governor conspired with the Trump Organization in their effort to exterminate Indigenous Americans by introducing a deadly virus to Native communities creating a raging pandemic.

The far white wing of the Republican Party has been working to erase tribal sovereignty in states like Montana for decades.

ip photo.


BFC: don't blame tribes for bison slaughter

In Montana, the Department of Livestock is the governing arm for bison that leave the protections of Yellowstone National Park. Dallas Gudgel is a citizen of the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes and sits on the Board of the Buffalo Field Campaign.
Sensationalized smearing of dozens of Tribal Nations who enjoy ancient sacred relationships with the natural world and our four-legged relatives, with gory depictions of Tribal harvest of Yellowstone Bison, conveniently avoids the real issue of an irredeemably broken management regime and the Montana livestock industry’s decades-long stranglehold on bison management. Playing along with Montana’s strategy to demonize the Tribes for the sins of the settlers also serves to undermine the legal authority retained in nearly a dozen treaties - sovereign promises between the federal government and nearly 30 Tribal Nations. 
At the end of the day, the race-based genocide and near-eradication of the traditional food source of Tribal Nations, now beloved by all, disqualifies the livestock industry and the legislatures it controls from any say in how Yellowstone Bison should recover. As the global scientific community and the Biden administration now recognize, it’s up to the Tribes to determine how wild bison should be managed, working cooperatively with federal wildlife biologists and ecologists. [excerpt, Gudgel]
Jon Marvel retired from the Western Watersheds Project in 2014. He has been stalwart in withering lawsuit fire against long-held sheep and cattle grazing permits on public lands. 

Yes, Montana's Earth haters are wielding the power of government to stifle free enterprise in a state where freedom is paramount. Realtors in Montana and Idaho are even capitalizing on racist paranoia amid Donald Trump’s calls for the End Times.
Shaina Clifford is the new director of Marketing & Public Relations for the InterTribal Buffalo Council. “This is an amazing opportunity & platform to bring awareness for the people, to be able to help bring healing to the people through the buffalo is a good thing. The InterTribal Buffalo Council is moving in a good direction and making good progress,” said Clifford. [Lakota Times]


Minnesota governor will sign legal cannabis bill

In 2019, Corey Day, a former executive director of the state Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party formed Cannabis for Economic Growth and made the dollars and cents case for legalizing for all adults in Minnesota so towns like Pipestone, Luverne, Worthington, Lake Benton, Ortonville and Hendricks near the South Dakota border could reap the coming cannabis whirlwind. 

On Saturday Minnesota's DFL-dominated legislature passed a bill sending the measure to Governor Tim Walz to sign into law. The mechanism for dispensaries is at least a year away but the possession of two pounds at home, provisions for home growing and two ounces on ones person are parts of the statute.
The state would impose a 10 percent tax rate, which is lower than a lot of other places where it is sold legally. The proceeds would be used toward fostering the legal market through start-up grants and other regulatory steps. Eighty percent would flow to state coffers and the rest would be earmarked for local governments. 
Cities and counties could cap the number of cannabis retailers based on population size, with at least one for every 12,500 in a jurisdiction. There would be a floor and communities could issue more licenses. 
Criminal records of past marijuana offenses could be expunged. That automatic process for the lowest-level crimes would start in August but reach into 2024. More complicated cases would go before a new board for review. [MPR]


Chinese culture persists in Montana even has hatred spreads

Way before this interested party left the Black Hills again for Montana in 2006 I had a recurring dream of old buildings being offered for free just for those of us who love historic preservation.

So, the Odd Goddess of Basin took her new romantic interest on a tour of Butte and I wept as my dream exploded into reality. But despite all of the gorgeous, empty buildings there was work waiting in Helena so my attention shifted. Butte has the architectural inventory and most of the infrastructure for over a hundred thousand souls but is home to only about 35,000 today. The Odd Goddess and a fledgling blogger saw John Prine at the magnificent Mother Lode Theater in Uptown Butte and we ate at the Pekin Noodle Parlor often.

Now, with Montana in the news and China in the crosshairs of white nationalists it must be time to remind more readers that liberal democrat President Thomas Jefferson used an executive order to seize land from Indigenous people, then from west to east enslaved Chinese immigrants built the railroads in the 1800s. 
It's a Chinese restaurant on the top floor of this old building in uptown, filled with these closed-curtain private dining booths. But what's really significant about it is that it is the oldest, continually operating family owned Chinese restaurant in the country, kept running by members of the Tam family for over a century. Butte's Chinese community was the largest Chinese community in the Rocky Mountain West, at about a thousand. If you think about it this way, the Tams have kept the Pekin going through two pandemics, two world wars, the Great Depression and the shutdown of Butte's underground mines; feeding countless miners, families, politicians and celebrities, and all the while maintaining a living, functioning connection to the history and origins of Chinese American culture and experience in the West. [John Hooks]
What really captivated America was this thing called chop suey. And chop suey was primarily invented because it was just, basically, tidbits, leftovers of any vegetables they had late night. They would mix together and then spread over any type of noodles or rice. My father came here when he was 14. His great grandfather, Tam Kwong Yee, was business partners with a man named Hum Yow who basically wanted to create noodle parlors. The best part about it is my dad probably have provided over 1,000, probably 5,000 jobs, you know, throughout the whole history of the Pekin. [Jerry Tam]
Lawrence County, South Dakota is known to have been inhabited by humans for at least 12,000 years before white Republicans besmirched it then turned it into the Nazi enclave and cultural wasteland it is today. Deadwood gambling was legalized with a promise to preserve all the history in the Gulch and archaeologists still unearth Chinese opium pipes there. 

In 2010 two Basinites loved Tony Ballog and Roma Nota, the Hungarian Gypsy quartet during a huge turnout for the National Folk Festival in Uptown Butte.


"Oh, I know what that is. It's kidney failure."

In the 1990s vultures in Nepal died in massive numbers from feeding on the corpses of cattle that had been treated with the livestock painkiller diclofenac.
It turns out that if you shut down a vulture's kidneys all this stuff backs up, turns into a paste, and gets deposited in all the organs. What that stuff is is uric acid. They go back to Pakistan, and they start going around to different villages, and just knocking on people’s doors being like, "Hi, I have a bunch of questions for you about your cattle," you know? And as they're processing the surveys they're noticing, like, oh, this phrase keeps popping up over and over again. Diclofenac. It's actually a painkiller. It's in this class of drugs called NSAIDs, Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. That includes, you know, drugs like Advil, Motrin, Aleve, ibuprofen. [Radiolab]
This week the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service teamed up to test a vaccine for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) on North American vultures to stem an outbreak in California condors.

“We have met the enemy and he is us." 

The Anthropocene is now.


John Birch Society still alive and kicking: author

In about 1970 or so, my very furious, retired Air Force, Republican father wrote a letter to the editor of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader after the paper ran a photo during what Americans called the Vietnam War. 

Dad charged Senator George McGovern with what he believed was the unforgivable offense of a civilian wearing a USAF flight suit. The letters in the paper that followed afterwards accused Dad of nitpicking while he got volumes of support in the mail from agents of the John Birch Society. Dad never forgot it and clearly I haven't either. 

Reservation border towns are still influenced by the Klan, John Birch Society, the TEA movement and now by the extreme white wing of the Republican Party. Recall the Birch Society billboards along I-90 across South Dakota that urged voters to get US out of the United Nations, pray to end abortion and how close travelers are to Wall Drug.

In 2010 Fresh Air's Terry Gross interviewed Jane Mayer after The New Yorker outed David and Charles Koch as members of the John Birch Society. In 2011 Bill Clinton's Labor Secretary, Robert Reich appeared as a panelist at a super secret Bircher-inflenced, Koch-hosted retreat in Palm Springs. In 2012 a normally routine meeting of the Missoula City Council erupted as members of JBS began a protest of payments to the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, or ICLEI. Republican Utah Senator Mitt Romney's mentor was a rabid Bircher.

Marjorie Taylor Greene and her Christian Nationalists support Donald Trump because they're convinced he’s the Antichrist who will enable them to conquer the Seven Mountains. The End Times fulfill a prophesy and welcome a supernatural extraterrestrial to create a one-world government. No higher being could be anything but predatory. It's dystopian fantasy run amok.

On January 6, 2021 the attack on the US Capitol was a  climax of the JBS movement.

Last Wednesday Terry Gross invited Matthew Dallek to talk about his new book, Birchers: How The John Birch Society Radicalized The American Right.
So the John Birch Society was founded in 1958 by Robert Welch, a retired and very wealthy candy manufacturer. His company made Sugar Babies, Junior Mints, Pom Poms. He came from a family of Baptist preachers and farmers. He was home-schooled. 
Impeach Earl Warren was one of their most successful. The chief justice of the Supreme Court - they saw him as not only the architect of the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision, but as responsible for a number of decisions that gave the communists inroads into America, including a ban on prayer in public schools or giving more rights to criminal defendants. 
You know, the assumption I think that I had, a lot of people had, is that if MAGA Republicans, Trump Republicans, if they lose enough elections, they might get pushed to the side because the only thing that will do that is if - is enough defeat. And yet, you know, three arguably - as Chris Christie and others are saying, three election defeats in a row and they're still not pushed aside. [excerpt, A historian details how a secretive, extremist group radicalized the American right]
Just say it: radical christianic terrorism.

Jane Mayer has more at The New Yorker.


Albuquerque BLM likely ground zero for conservation lease pushback

After shedding its antlers a jackalope poses for a trail cam.

In 2008, Bidder 70 Tim DeChristopher crashed a US Bureau of Land Management oil and gas leasing auction to prevent greater harm to the planet then drove up the prices of some of the bids and won more than a dozen parcels valued at some $1.8 million. But in 2011 a federal jury in Salt Lake City declared him guilty of two federal felonies and sent him to prison.

About the time he was released environmental lawyer and activist, Robert Kennedy, Jr. wondered in The Nation why DeChristopher was incarcerated but Massey Energy Earth hater, Don Blankenship remained free. 

Today, putting the country on the path of protecting at least 30 percent of our land and 30 percent of our ocean areas by 2030 (30x30) is imperative to preserving public lands especially now as the worst megadrought in at least 1200 years is driving desertification in much of the western United States. A supermajority of registered voters in the Mountain West agrees according to bipartisan polling conducted by the Colorado College State of the Rockies project. 

Current BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning has called nearly every Trump era ruling illegal including the failure to manage mustangs safely while blows to morale and an exodus of employees have contributed to horse mortalities during gathers

Now, conservation is center stage as the Department of Interior and BLM plan to sell preservation leases to parties interested in environmental protection. As expected, Earth haters in Congress are apoplectic and a public meeting is scheduled for Albuquerque on 30 May.
Stone-Manning told the AP that critics were misreading the rule, and that conservation leases would not usurp existing ones. If grazing is now permitted on a parcel, it could continue. And people could still hunt on the leased property or use it for recreation, she said. “It makes conservation an equal among the multiple uses that we manage for,” Stone-Manning said. While the bureau previously issued leases for conservation in limited cases, it has never had a dedicated program for it. Environmentalists have largely embraced the changes, characterizing the proposal as long overdue. [Biden plan to sell land leases for conservation gets pushback]
Don Blankenship was ultimately convicted of misdemeanor conspiracy for willfully violating federal mine safety standards and spent a little time in jail himself after an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine killed 29 people in 2010.

Tim DeChristopher founded the Climate Disobedience Center and is actively raising awareness of climate necessity defense.

The BLM is being sued for its plans to conduct additional, often-dangerous gathers to reduce the horse population in Wyoming's Red Desert with hopes to avoid violence from Republican welfare ranchers

Rewild the West.


Coal seam fires add to power plant emissions, mercury levels

Researchers at the South Dakota School of Mines already know most of the mercury in the state's lakes has precipitated from emissions released from coal fired power plants in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. 

And, if South Dakota had a Democratic attorney general she'd sue those states for the toxic legacy created by Colstrip, Basin Electric and Black Hills Energy. One of the most polluted reaches of the Belle Fourche River goes right through current Republican Attorney General Marty Jackley's boyhood ranch

In 2020 Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison sued ExxonMobil, Koch Industries and the American Petroleum Institute for lying to residents of that state about emissions levels. NorthWestern Energy owns 23.4% of the Big Stone Power Plant in northeastern South Dakota — a monster that consumes 3,500 tons of filthy sub-bituminous coal every hour then spews heavy metal oxides and carbon dioxide over Minnesota.

But, the volume of mercury and other heavy metals released by wildfires in Canada and United States is well-documented, too.

In 2012 the fast-moving Ash Creek Fire burned bridges on US212 near Ashland and Lame Deer, Montana while another blaze nearby on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, the Coal Seam Fire spread to some 700 acres. In 2017 wildland fires on private ranch land in southeastern Montana dwarfed those on public ground in the western part of the state. In 2021 a smoldering coal seam started the Richard Spring Fire on the Ashland District of the Custer Gallatin National Forest that burned primarily in non-native cheatgrass beneath a ponderosa pine overstory. 

Within the Fort Union Formation under eastern Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are maybe thousands of coal seams. The Box Car coal seam has been burning since 1913 and in Custer County, Montana there are some 320 that caused at least 51 wildfires in 2021 alone.

A burning coal seam might have ignited the Marshall Fire in Boulder County, Colorado that evaporated over a thousand homes, caused over two billion dollars in damage and released tons of deadly emissions.
The CO2 from these fires adds about 1% to the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels. Added to all the other coal-seam fires in the world, this is a largely unreported global catastrophe. [Uncontrolled coal-seam fires are catastrophic polluters]
Because of mercury emissions from burning Wyoming coal Black Hills Corp. decommissioned its Rapid City plant in 2012 then converted it to natural gas and PPL Montana shuttered the JE Corette Plant in Billings in 2015. Black Hills Energy still operates five coal-burning brutes in Wyoming’s Powder River basin just a few miles upwind of Spearditch, South Dakota. 

In the spring, summer and sometimes in the early fall months the Black Hills Convergence Zone weather phenomenon creates supercells and concentrates particulates from Wyoming power plants in the northern Hills and northeast plains making area waterways more toxic like has happened in the Belle Fourche Reservoir, Newell and Bear Butte Lakes.

Learn more about fish consumption advisories for metals, pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls in South Dakota linked here.


Ganje suspicious of East River aquifer permit application

Because of dissolved mineral salts from ancient sea beds aquifer sources are not considered high quality water for irrigation but fossil water from limestone contains the building blocks that made us human. 

In 2016 a religious cult notorious for decimating watersheds was ordered to restore riparian habitat after draining and tiling federally-protected wetlands in Hamlin County, South Dakota.
The state is the trustee of the public waters of the state including groundwater located within the state’s jurisdiction. This means the government of the state of South Dakota manages the right to use public waters. The South Dakota Niobrara aquifer is a secondary aquifer in the state which consists of marine shale, chalk, marl, and chalky limestone of the Niobrara Formation. Most well yields from the Niobrara are sufficient only for domestic use, but some ag use is noted in state records. Water drawn from it can be utilized for irrigation purposes but not in large quantities. No studies have been done to estimate the recharge rate to the Niobrara aquifer in South Dakota. For a sustainable system the amount of water withdrawn from an aquifer should be balanced with the amount of water returned (recharged) by nature to that aquifer. [David Ganje: Aquifers – out of sight and out of mind?]
I really don’t care what happens East River because it’s already destroyed but West River can still be rewilded and preserved. I want to see money for West River land owners who would put their ground back into native grasses be exempt from taxes and leased as wildlife corridors. I want to see domestic livestock confined to internment camps East River where Hutterites will ultimately control all the ag ground there.


Far white wing of the GOP would destroy unions to root out “deep state”

There's an old Vulcan proverb. "Only the daughter of a war criminal could save American democracy." 

In 2019 Democratic New Mexico Representative now Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland led a House subcommittee hearing on anti-government extremism emphasizing that the violent ideologies expressed by the Bundy clan were spurred by white elected Republicans in the Mountain West. 

The US Bureau of Land Management even hired a security specialist to outline strategies to defend federal employees and property. The US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service and at least 15 other federal agencies suffered hits to morale while in the clutches of the Trump Organization. The Government Accountability Office documented more than 350 incidents of threats and assaults against federal land management employees during the Obama years but goaded by Donald Trump there have since been many more culminating in an attack on the US Capitol. 

While many agencies have improved under President Joe Biden the National Park Service took hits ranking 371st out of 432 sub-agencies in 2022. The BLM ranked 348th, the Bureau of Indian Affairs ranked 379th, the Forest Service ranked 406th and the Mountains and Plains region of the Environmental Protection Agency ranked 52nd but lost ground since 2021. The Fish and Wildlife Service sits at 204th also retreating as one of the best places to work in the federal government.
But, in a much quieter way, truly epic storm clouds are gathering on the future of the civil service. “For decades, as the left has continued its march through America’s institutions, conservatives have been outgunned and outmatched when it comes to the art of government.” They’re mounting a counterattack. Schedule F’s vastly greater power to hire and fire federal employees to root out this “deep state” collection of problems would rebalance the system. “Police unions, teachers unions and other public sector unions have built a fortress against supervisory decisions.” [The Gathering Storm Threatening the Civil Service]
The real deep state assassinated JFK, drafted the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, elected Nixon, sank Jimmy Carter, sold weapons to the Contras, elected the Bushes, dropped the World Trade Center into its footprint, packed the Supreme Court of the United States, controls the global heroin trade and owns Donald Trump. 

Dick Cheney still has Secret Service protection and is a living relic of the deep state. 

Get all the facts at the Partnership for Public Service

ip image.


NMGOP "irrelevant"

My home state of South Dakota will suffer brain drain for years to come and New Mexico has its own set of challenges but living where the Republican Party is virtually powerless and Democrats rule is well worth it. 

The kicker? After telling voters they can’t trust the 2020 election results Trump loving NMGOP Chair Steve Pearce blamed poor turnout on people not trusting the election results!
In New Mexico, the words Republican and relevant don’t often end up in the same sentence. What happened to state Rep. Jason Harper is the latest example of why Republicans have become irrelevant in statewide and congressional elections. With U.S. Senate and congressional primaries a year away, Republicans should have been cultivating candidates like Harper. As it stands, the GOP has no one to challenge Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich. After losing every statewide and congressional election last year, New Mexico Republicans reelected Pearce as party chairman. Democrats cheered the news. Their side has had a remarkable run with Pearce leading the GOP. [Milan Simonich]
In a related story, Democratic former US Representative for New Mexico's Second District Xochitl Torres Small is considered a shoo-in for deputy secretary of the US Department of Agriculture. She visited my home state in March and conferred a little socialism on a local meat processor.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham will serve on the advisory board for the Biden/Harris reelection team. She recently addressed the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where she discussed New Mexico's gains in environmental justice and the state's transition to green energy.  


Photos as filler: more birds!

If you have not already downloaded the Merlin app you are missing out!
Broad-tailed hummingbird

Woodhouse's scrub jay

Scott's oriole

Black-headed grosbeak and Scott's oriole

Scott's oriole and house finch

Black-headed grosbeak

Common raven

Merlin, Cooper's hawk or what, Kim?


Superfund site owners pushing back on Missoula mill remediation

Missoula, Montana sits in a dry lake bed surrounded by mountains so when this scribe lived there in the late 1970s and early 80s and the pulp mill in Frenchtown was operating the valley would fill with stinky water vapor and wood smoke creating a toxic ice fog during winter months. 

Smurfit-Stone declared bankruptcy in 2009, closed the mill in 2010 and sold it for scrap in 2011 leaving taxpayers a US Environmental Protection Agency Superfund mess polluted with PCBs and dioxins that make the Clark Fork River America's fifth most endangered waterway in 2023.
All those involved met in mid-March for the first round of discussion and ended up agreeing that sampling would occur in two phases. The first would focus on groundwater, sludge and wastewater areas, leaving the Clark Fork River and its fish and wildlife for a later, second phase. While the mill was pumping water, the groundwater dropped about two dozen feet, and now, it’s potentially filled back in at least 6 feet since the mill closed. The EPA collected one instantaneous sample twice a year most recently with the result that some wells have eight samples over time. NewFields is a representative of the potentially responsible parties that now own the property, including West Rock, International Paper and M2Green. They were not present at the meeting. The EPA takes input from NewFields because the potentially responsible parties are supposed to pay for the assessment and cleanup work. [Laura Lundquist, Missoula Current]
EPA has a lien on the property but each potentially responsible party can put up its own resistance as the agency develops a cleanup plan.
M2Green all but abandoned the site after steel prices fell around that time. Green Investment Group stopped updating its website in 2016. M2Green has since sold several parcels, prompting Missoula County to sue for back taxes in 2017 and put a lien on the remaining parcels. [Lundquist]
International Paper struggles with pollution problems of its own and WestRock stock is underperforming so it's shuttering a paper mill in South Carolina.


Coyote photobombs trail cam

A few weeks ago there was black bear scat at the waterer and the trail cam has yet to catch its maker but one of the neighborhood’s more familiar characters trots through the yard nearly every day. 

A western tanager sipped at the waterer, too.

A black-headed grosbeak was at the feeder yesterday.


Tilsen best choice as SDDP nominee for US House

As the self-appointed savior of my home state and in lieu of a primary I hereby nominate and request Nick Tilsen to run as the Democratic Party’s choice for South Dakota's At-large US Representative.
Nick Tilsen (he/him), President & CEO, is a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation. Nick has over 20 years of experience building place-based innovations that have the ability to inform systems change solutions around climate resiliency, sustainable housing and equitable community development. He founded NDN Collective to scale these place-based solutions while building needed philanthropic, social impact investment, capacity and advocacy infrastructure geared towards building the collective power of Indigenous Peoples. Tilsen has received numerous fellowships and awards from Ashoka, Rockefeller Foundation, Bush Foundation and the Social Impact Award from Claremont-Lincoln University. He has an honorary doctorate degree from Sinte Gleska University. [NDN Collective]