The Watering Hole; Thursday May 26 2016; Of Mental Poverty and Shriveled Souls (aka Teabaggers)

Last Monday I received a letter from The Wilderness Society. It read:

Public lands enemy number one, Representative Rob Bishop, is back at it again! This time he intends to take down landmark sagebrush conservation plans by targeting a defenseless bird, the greater sage-grouse.

Sage Grouse

Greater Sage-Grouse. Credit: Mason Cummings/TWS

Through a national security bill, Rep. Bishop is trying to attach language that would undo publicly developed conservation plans and sell off critical sage-grouse habitat to the highest energy development bidder.

You can help us stop him in his tracks! Sage-grouse are not a threat to our national security. This is a thinly veiled anti-conservation move by Rep. Bishop that would trash one of the largest conservation successes in U.S. history. His effort would unravel years of conservation work by federal agencies, 11 western states and governors, and a diverse coalition of stakeholders. These plans, put in place in late 2015, merged the best science with local knowledge in a conservation plan for 67 million acres of sage-grouse habitat on public lands. Now years of work are in danger of being undone by one man. Tell your senators and representatives to stand up for the sage-grouse and its habitat!

Sincerely,

The Wilderness Society

The “Representative Rob Bishop” (R-UT)  to whom they refer is a wildly anti-conservation wingnut Congressional Teabagger who would, I’m sure, happily agree to kill off what’s left of the planet for the sole purpose of turning every square inch of land over to whomever can convert it into cash. Money. Because as we all know, cash is a far more useful and life-enhancing commodity than are those wastrel notions of public land and wildlife preservation. Who cares about a goddamed Sage Grouse anyway? They’re prolly not even good to eat — never seen ’em in the store, I know that for sure. Tree-huggers and environmentalists like to use the word Conservation, but Conservation ain’t got nothin’ to do with genuine Conservatism, ‘cuz look close, they be spelled differnt!

Anyway, I  immediately forwarded this, the Wilderness Society’s message, to my Senators (from whom I’ve not yet heard) and to my “Representative,” the Wingnut Conservative Teabagger Stooge aka Scott Tipton (R-CO):

Representative Bishop’s “Greater Sage Grouse Protection and Recovery Act of 2016,” a rider on this year’s House National Defense Authorization Act, is a thinly veiled anti-conservation measure. This effort would undo years of collaborative planning for 67 million acres across 11 western states and undermine the very protections that helped keep the bird from being listed as threatened or endangered. Please stand up to protect the survival of the greater sage-grouse.

The sage-grouse is not, has never been, and never will be a threat to the security of our nation. This rider has no place in the NDAA. In fact, the Department of Defense, Army, Navy, and Air Force made it clear through statements that the sage-grouse conservation efforts will not impede on the military’s readiness, operations or training.

After years of dedication by the federal government, Western governors and a diverse coalition of stakeholders, it would be a travesty if all of the plans were undone through a rider on a national security bill.

Please don’t let this or any other rider undermine the one of America’s greatest conservation achievements. Don’t meddle with the conservation plans — pass a clean NDAA!

Received this typical boilerplate reply from Tipton two days later, yesterday, on Wednesday the 25th. There was nothing even approaching a semi-salient notion in his thirty word response:

. . . the bill prohibits the listing of the Greater Sage Grouse through 2025, providing adequate time for effective state and local species conservation efforts to continue without heavy-handed federal interference. (highlights mine)

I mean, imagine it. Allow the ‘heavy hands’ of the Feds to act in the interest of a potentially  endangered species and its habitat preservation, and what’s the result? INTERFERENCE WITH THE CAPITALISTIC AMURKKKAN FREEDOM TO RAPE AND DESTROY ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING THAT’S GOT MONEY IN IT!! It’s in the Constitution, Right? Must be, ‘cuz a long time ago John Adams said this here:

[When European colonists first arrived in America] “the whole continent was one continued dismal wilderness, the haunt of wolves and bears and more savage men. Now the forests are removed, the land covered with fields of corn, orchards bending with fruit and the magnificent habitations of rational and civilized people.” ~John Adams, 1756 (as quoted by Barry Lopez in ‘Of Wolves and Men’)

Adams spoke those words some 260 years ago, back when the rape of the continent had just gotten underway. Today, however, we’ve come a long LONG way and have FINALLY reached the point where just about the only land left in the country — land that was once a “dismal wilderness, the haunt of wolves and beaus and [the archaeological remnants of those] more savage men . . .” — has FINALLY reached the point where “the forests are removed [and] the land [is] covered with . . . the magnificent habitations of rational and civilized people.”

YeeHaw. Progress. Finally. Money.

Rep. Rob Bishop is, like Teabaggers everywhere, a notorious hater of Public Lands along with the (implicit) preservation of both those lands and the wildlife thereupon. He is, unfortunately, currently the Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, and has publicly stated that he is dead against the Antiquities Act — a law which 16 presidents of both parties have used to permanently protect public lands and historic sites via National Monument designation. The bottom line is that Bishop hates Public lands, along with any and all who might support the concept. As he recently said, anyone who supports the Antiquities Act of 1906 — the same law that was used to safeguard the Grand Canyon — should “die.” Meanwhile, in his home state of Utah, Bishop has unveiled a draft bill that would force the transfer and sale of tens-of-thousands of acres of public land in southeast Utah — a concept completely in violation of the wishes of Native American Nations in the area, including the Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni.

Damn Injuns. Who the hell do they think they are?

Bishop — apparently in consort with Teabaggers everywhere (including, sadly, SCOTT TIPTON of Colorado) — is determined to do whatever is necessary to rid this country of those gigantic tyrannies the gubmint has imposed on We the People: Public Lands (National Parks, Monuments, Wilderness, National Forests, etc.) along with the protections implied or imposed in re each and every wild inhabitant thereupon. Why?

Because Freedom  Money.

Rotten bastard(s). I’d rather live in a den of hungry Timberwolves than in a world filled with Teabaggers  DEFINED by the Mental Poverty and Shriveled Souls of Teabaggers!

OPEN THREAD

 

 

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The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 5th, 2016: This Land Is Still Our Land

I’ve written before about the emails from the American Land Rights Association that somehow end up coming to my office, and how Charles Cushman has been involved with the Hammonds, the scofflaws whose imprisonment for starting fires on federal land provided the match that started the Malheur Wildlife Refuge ‘insurrection.’

Earlier this week another ‘newsletter’ email arrived, containing, in part, the following:

War In The West, the Hammond Story
Stop Land and Water Conservation Fund

The War In The West: Time To Stop Federal Land Acquisition

Robert J. Smith, Senior Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research 1/15/16

Media attention on the plight of Dwight and Steven Hammond in Burns, Oregon — sent to prison as “terrorists” — has focused more on the activities of some who have come to their “support” than on the cause of the broad-based unhappiness with the federal government.

But first it is important to clarify the Hammonds’ “crime.” Most reports note they were prosecuted for arson on federal lands. They were prosecuted under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, passed following the 1995 bombing of the federal building in downtown Oklahoma City. Bombing a federal building is an act of terrorism. Burning 140 acres of grass, sagebrush and weeds to halt wildfires and remove invasive brush is not terrorism.

Ranchers, farmers, foresters and miners homesteaded the West, often before government reached that far, or states or counties were created. The successors of these landowners are today surrounded by a sea of federal lands. Across the West over half the land and resources are owned by the federal government. In Oregon it owns 53 percent of the land, and 75 percent in Harney County, home of Burns and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The county is over 10,000 square miles in size, larger than nine states. With a population of barely 7,000 people, it is effectively a federal colony, controlled and administered by the federal government.

The federal government owns 85 percent of the state of Nevada and 64 percent of both Utah and Idaho — effectively making rural landowners little more than serfs, precluding utilization of natural resources, reducing the tax base and impoverishing local and county governments, which are then unable to fund schools and police…

Evermore onerous government regulations make it difficult for landowners to use their lands and often next to impossible to cross the government lands on historic rights-of-way for access to water and grazing lands. Selective enforcement of laws like the Endangered Species Act can prevent landowners from using land that has no endangered species, but does have habitat the species could use if they were there…

Yet even with this hegemonic control of the rural West, the federal government continues to acquire more land. It is expert at making regulatory harassment so onerous that eventually farmers and ranchers simply give up and sell out to the government — becoming what the Feds euphemistically refer to as “willing sellers.”

Anger against such treatment arose during the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s, when state governments demanded a return of their land and resources and equality with states in the East. That opposition to federal ownership was tempered by the Reagan Administration’s easing of the regulatory regime.

But as the federal government has accelerated its efforts to acquire more land and force people off their lands, mounting opposition and calls for change have flourished. Another Sagebrush Rebellion is underway, headed by counties and state legislatures. Several Western states have introduced legislation demanding the return of their lands. Both houses in Utah have passed such legislation and Governor Herbert has signed the law.

It is time to place a moratorium on any additional land acquisition by the federal government, to undertake an inventory of government landownership at all levels, and to begin taking steps towards devolution of federal ownership and return the lands and resources to responsible and caring ownership and stewardship. This would not threaten genuine environmental amenities and values.

America has a long tradition of successful private ownership of wildlife refuges, parks, and forests. If, for instance, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were owned by a conservation organization, such as an Audubon Society, it would not be able to bully and harass its farming and ranching neighbors who willingly share their lands with the wildlife, but would have to deal with them in a legal and peaceful manner — while still protecting the wildlife.

It is ironic that Americans are still fighting colonial subjugation by a hegemonic government — located now in Washington, D.C., rather that England. James Madison wrote: “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort.” That is what Oregon is really about.”

There was a lot more about related topics, but the above is enough for the time being. The missive ends with:

“Google Alert: You can find additional information about national issues and battles American Land Rights has been involved in by going to Google and typing in the following search terms one at a time: Chuck Cushman, Charles Cushman, Charles S. Cushman, American Land Rights Association, National Inholders Association and League of Private Property Voters.”

Well, actually, no you CAN’T find additional information, because if you type in those search terms, they all lead back to the American Land Rights Association–some directly, some by a more circuitous route. I tried to do a bit more digging.

According to Buzzfile, the “Business Description” of the American Land Rights Association is:

“American Land Rights Association, which also operates under the name National Inholders Association, is located in Battle Ground, Washington. This organization primarily operates in the Business Associations business / industry within the Membership Organizations sector. This organization has been operating for approximately 44 years. American Land Rights Association is estimated to generate $500,000 in annual revenues, and employs approximately 6 people at this single location.”

Okay…so what does the category “Membership Organization” mean?

“The Membership Organizations sector covers 7 categories including Professional Organizations, Labor Organizations, and Political Organizations.

[Emphasis mine.]

Alright…a little more digging…how about, who is the “League of Private Property Voters”?

VoteSmart.Org says:

“Description:
“LPPV is a coalition of more than 800 grassroots organizations that advocate the rights of property owners, including farmers, ranchers, woodlot owners, residents of rural communities, owners of recreational property, and inholders of private property located within and adjacent to federal lands. It also includes cabin permittees, off-road vehicle owners, equestrians, snowmobilers, hunters and recreational shooters, and livestock grazers, foresters and miners who make productive use of federal lands.”

I found a ‘biography’ of Mr. Cushman – a bit outdated, but quite telling – oh, and this ‘biography’ has him at “Property Rights Foundation of America”(R):

“April 1999
Chuck Cushman is the executive director of the American Land Rights Association (ALRA), formerly the National Inholders Association, which is a public interest advocacy organization that works to protect landowners across America who are affected by various growth management schemes as well as the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act (wetlands) and other Federal land use regulatory laws.

Mr. Cushman is also the Chairman of the League of Private Property Voters (LPPV), which was organized in 1990 to develop and publish the Private Property Congressional Vote Index, a Congressional vote scorecard designed to let the public know how each Congressman and Senator voted on important land-use issues. Almost 500,000 copies were distributed in 1996.

Referred to in various press reports as the “Desert Fox” and “Mr. Rent-A-Riot,” Mr. Cushman has worked over 24 years to help local communities get on the political playing field and compete effectively with Federal agencies and extreme environmental groups who seek to eliminate private uses and public access from “their” lands. He is widely respected for his successful leadership of local communities against those groups and individuals who seek to remove inholders and multiple-users by condemnation or whatever other means they can achieve.

He has written numerous articles on inholder rights; lectured at colleges and universities; appeared as an expert guest on Late Night America, Today on NBC, All Things Considered on public radio, CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC news; been a subject of segments of 60 Minutes, The Newshour with Jim Lehrer and CNN Presents; has been featured in numerous national magazines regarding land-use issues; appeared as guest speaker before hundreds of multiple-use and private property advocacy groups and political interest organizations.

ALRA and LPPV have become significant players in land use and private property issues throughout the United States. ALRA has 18,000 members in 50 states and is acknowledged as a successful advocate for property owners and users of Federal and state lands in all manner of natural resource areas across America.”

If they’re the same organization, and it appears that they are, how have ALRA and LPPV “become significant players” – especially when, as I found in my previous post on ALRA, there appears to be only two employees, one of whom is Charles Cushman?

I next tried looking into the National Center for Public Policy Research. Wikipedia says:

“NCPPR’s work is in the areas of environmental, retirement security, regulatory, economic, and foreign affairs. Particular areas of interest include global warming, endangered species, energy policy, environmental justice, property rights, legal reform, Medicare reform, health care, Social Security, civil rights, foreign affairs/defense and United Nations reform/withdrawal…

NCPPR is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition, whose object is described as “dispelling the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis”.

Amy Moritz Ridenour was and is still, as far as I can tell, the president of NCPPR. Amy has previously been on the wrong side of some major issues, i.e., writing op-eds on behalf of Big Tobacco. And, boy howdy, look who used to be a board member of the NCPPR: the infamous Jack Abramoff, lobbyist extraordinaire.

“Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was a member of NCPPR’s Board of Directors; he resigned in October 2004 after NCPPR’s Board of Directors concluded he had violated the organization’s conflict of interest policy.

In October 2002, Abramoff directed the Mississippi Band of Choctaws to give $1 million to NCPPR, and then told Amy Ridenour to distribute the funds to Capital Athletic Foundation ($450,000), Capitol Campaign Strategies ($500,000) and Nurnberger and Associates ($50,000). In June 2003, Greenberg Traurig, the firm that employed Abramoff, sent $1.5 million to NCPPR, of which Ridenour distributed $250,000 to Capital Athletic Foundation and the remainder to Kay Gold LLC, both controlled by Abramoff. Ridenour said in testimony that she believed Abramoff co-conspirator Michael Scanlon was the owner of Kay Gold (Kaygold).

The Wiki page for Amy Ridenour includes:

“According to Nina Easton’s Gang of Five, Amy Moritz was a veteran organizer of the College Republican National Committee. She was a candidate in 1981 for election as national chairman of the organization, opposed by Jack Abramoff.
Abramoff, Ralph Reed, and Grover Norquist persuaded Moritz to drop out of the race by promising her the appointed position of executive director. With the only serious competitor out of the way, Abramoff won the election easily.

Although Moritz was later rebuffed by the “Abramoff-Norquist-Reed triumvirate” and only given the titular position of “deputy director”, she continued to work with the group and became a good friend of Norquist. Abramoff would also later become a director of the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR).

Lastly, on a whim, I decided to simply put in a search for “Robert J. Smith, Senior Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research” – and laughed when the only relevant result was a link to the same diatribe that ALRA sent, as posted at – wait for it – The Daily Caller.

The kicker was a comment posted at the Daily Caller thread by none other than Amy Ridenour:

Amy Ridenour [to] Esef Brewer • 2 months ago
You’re not the most clever bird in the nest, are you? Try hunting and fishing or even walking on many federal lands sometime and learn the hard way.

One might have thought that someone who helped bilk Native American tribes out of millions of dollars really shouldn’t be commenting about “federal lands” on a public forum…but then, The Daily Caller isn’t all that popular a public forum, which means that Amy is right at home there.

This is our daily Open Thread – I’ve had enough delving for today, now it’s your turn to talk.

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 18th, 2016: ICYMI

Some updates on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge situation from the weekend:

Yesterday, DailyKos had this story about Child Protective Services removing Robert “LaVoy” Finicum’s fourfoster children from his Arizona ‘ranch.’  I love the [literal] money quote:

“That was my main source of income,” Finicum said. “My ranch, well, the cows just cover the costs of the ranch. If this means rice and beans for the next few years, so be it. We’re going to stay the course.”

According to Oregon Public Broadcasting:

“That represents an enormous loss of income for the Finicums. According to a 2010 tax filing, Catholic Charities paid the family $115,343 to foster children in 2009…

Since then, Catholic Charities has increased payments for foster care significantly, but it does not itemize the dollar amount the Finicums were paid in subsequent years.”

On Saturday, January 16th, a few members of the Center for Biological Diversity tried to protest the occupation of the refuge.  From Raw Story:

“We’re here to speak up for public land, which belongs to the public,” the group’s executive director, Kierán Suckling, said. “These people are trying to take the land away.”

Pete Santilli, part of the occupying group, picked up a bullhorn and started shouting over him, calling the conservationists “communist,” “fascist,” and saying, “You’re under arrest for bull****ting.”

Ah, yes, Pete Santilli.  At first I had him confused with Rick Santilli, the idiot whose ranting on CNBC more or less started the Tea Party plague.  However, this Pete Santilli seems to be cut from much the same cloth.  Pete is the one who, on his radio show back in 2013, spouted the following regarding then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

“I want to shoot her right in the vagina and I don’t want her to die right away,” he said. “I want her to feel the pain and I want to look her in the eyes and I want to say, on behalf of all Americans that you’ve killed, on behalf of the Navy SEALS, the families of Navy SEAL Team Six who were involved in the fake hunt down of this Obama, Obama bin Laden thing, that whole fake scenario, because these Navy SEALS know the truth, they killed them all.”

Santilli continued: “On behalf of all of those people, I’m supporting our troops by saying we need to try, convict, and shoot Hillary Clinton in the vagina.”

According to his bio, “Pete Santilli is a Former U.S. Marine, Consumer Advocate, Former Coca-Cola Executive, Corporate Whistleblower, Radio Talk Show Host. Pete Santilli is a professional hell raiser…”

Santilli also led a protest outside the FBI’s temporary setup at the Burns Airport on Saturday.  However, it appears that Santilli is merely a supporter of the occupiers:

“Asked about the demonstration outside the FBI’s headquarters, [Robert] Finicum said Santilli is an “independent journalist” and is not part of the group occupying the Refuge.”

On the agenda for today, according to The Oregonian, is a ‘lecture’ by KrisAnne Hall, who is described as “a Florida attorney and radio talk show host” (although she reportedly no longer holds a license to practice as an attorney in Florida.)  Ms Hall is planning to ‘sovereign-splain’ the supposed legality of the Bundy-led occupation of the wildlife refuge:

“Her assistant said she will cover two topics: sovereignty of the state and the constitutional limits of the federal government’s control.

Hall is an outspoken critic of the federal government who supports privatization of federal lands.

“The people are not acting lawlessly,” Hall said in [a] video. “It is the federal government that is acting lawlessly.”

For a tutorial on the warped version of the legal belief system that these deluded people are trying to establish, see this post on Friday’s ThinkProgress.

And for continuing updated coverage, The Oregonian puts up a daily “what you need to know” article along with related articles.

This is our daily Open Thread – feel free to talk about anything you like.

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 4th, 2016: This Land is Our Land, Too

Okay, if you don’t already know about “The Bundys, NW-Style”, you can catch up here and here, for starters (The Oregonian has several articles keeping up with the situation.) I’m not going to talk about the Bundys, I’m sick of that mooching un-American grifter family.

I want to start with the Hammond family, whose own issues with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are being overshadowed and hijacked by the Bundy terrorist crew. The Hammonds, Dwight and Steve, are surrendering themselves today for their second prison sentence. They want nothing to do with the Bundy boys, and from what I’ve read, most of the townspeople of Burns, Oregon, feel the same way.  But that’s not to say that the Hammonds are – other than arson, of course – law-abiding citizens.

The arson incidents of 2001 and 2006, for which the Hammonds were convicted, weren’t the first run-ins that the family have had with the Feds. A commenter at ThinkProgress posted a link to this October 3rd, 1994, article in the High County News, entitled “Ranchers Arrested at Wildlife Refuge”, by Kathie Durbin:

BURNS, Ore. – The arrest of Dwight Hammond, a hot-tempered eastern Oregon cattle rancher, has galvanized a nasty campaign of retribution against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

It all began when federal agents arrested Hammond and his son Steven, Aug. 3. That turned a long-simmering dispute over cattle, fences and water on the Malheur Wildlife Refuge into a bizarre Old West showdown.

Federal officials and a fence-building crew were attempting to build a fence to keep the Hammonds’ cattle from trespassing on the refuge. When Hammond and his son obstructed federal workers, they were taken into custody by nine federal agents, five of whom were armed.

The Hammonds were charged with two counts each of felony “disturbing and interfering with” federal officials or federal contractors. The Hammonds spent one night in the Deschutes County Jail in Bend, and a second night behind bars in Portland before they were hauled before a federal magistrate and released without bail.

On Aug. 10, nearly 500 incensed ranchers showed up at a rally in Burns featuring wise-use speaker Chuck Cushman of the American Land Rights Association, formerly the National Inholders Association. Cushman later issued a fax alert urging Hammond’s supporters to flood refuge employees with protest calls. Some employees reported getting threatening calls at home.

Cushman plans to print a poster with the names and photos of federal agents and refuge managers involved in the arrest and distribute it nationally. “We have no way to fight back other than to make them pariahs in their community,” he said.

Picking up the theme, the Oregon Lands Coalition declared in a recent newsletter, “It’s time to get out the yellow ribbons – this is a hostage situation!”

~~~

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, Dwight Hammond had repeatedly violated a special permit that allowed him to move his cows across the refuge only at specific times. In June, refuge manager Forrest Cameron notified Hammond that his right to graze cattle and grow hay on the lush waterfowl haven south of Burns was revoked. The feds also said they planned to build a fence along the refuge boundary to keep Hammond’s cows out of an irrigation canal.

The events of Aug. 3 are outlined in the sworn affidavit of special agent Earl M. Kisler, who assisted in the Hammonds’ arrest. On the day the fence was to be built, the crew and refuge officials arrived to find Hammond had parked his Caterpillar scraper squarely on the boundary line and disabled it, removing the battery and draining fuel lines. When a tow truck arrived to move it, Dwight Hammond showed up, leaped to the controls of the scraper and hit a lever that lowered the bucket, narrowly missing another special agent. Meanwhile, said Kisler, Steve Hammond shouted obscenities at federal officials. Neither Hammond resisted arrest.

“The refuge has been trying to work with Hammond for many years,” said agency spokeswoman Susan Saul. A thick file at refuge headquarters reveals just how patient refuge managers have been. Hammond allegedly made death threats against previous managers in 1986 and 1988 and against Cameron, the current manager, in 1991 and again this year. Saul said Hammond has never given the required 24 hours’ notice before moving his cows across the refuge and that he allowed the cows to linger for as long as three days, trespassing along streams and trampling young willows that refuge workers had planted to repair damage wrought by years of overgrazing.

Susie Hammond, Dwight’s wife, said the cattle trail is a “historic right of way” that has been in use since 1871. “We have never had a permit,” she said. “We have a right to use it.”

The American Land Rights Association had come to my attention several times prior to this, in an unlikely spot: our office’s Junk emailbox in our website contact email. Every once in a while I find a “Land Rights Network” email from this group, and being of a politically inquisitive mind, I read some and forwarded them home for further review. The most recent one came on December 22nd, regarding the Omnibus bill, asking ALRA members to contact their reps to oppose a permanent trust fund for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. A brief excerpt:

“The LWCF is how the Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management buy millions of acres of private land and make it government land taking it off the tax rolls. It funds eminent domain (condemnation) by these agencies.”

[They very helpfully add, “You can find additional information about national issues and battles American Land Rights has been involved in by going to Google and typing in the following search terms one at a time: Chuck Cushman, Charles Cushman, Charles S. Cushman, American Land Rights Association, National Inholders Association and League of Private Property Voters.”]

The ALRA website also has a handy guide to the Hammond vs BLM history.

The only two staff members listed are:

Chuck Cushman, Founder and Executive Director:  “Through numerous successful political battles over the years dealing with Congress and various Federal agencies, Chuck was nicknamed by the press as the “Desert Fox” and “Mr. Rent-A-Riot” as a result of his aggressive and successful efforts to protect landowners and permittees from overreaching Federal, State and other land-use controllers.

Mike Hardiman, Washington, DC, Lobbyist  His “home page” says it all, in a strange sort of way: it’s nothing but glowing quotes from well-connected customers regarding his work for them, under the heading, “Project Management + Federal Contractor + Real Estate — which pretty much explains his involvement in the American Land Rights Association.  $Cha-Ching$

And a few of the organizations on the ALRA “friends” list (one of the few links on the site that actually worked) include many of the usual suspects with whom we are unfortunately familiar.

Accuracy in Media: “A news media watchdog group that challenges and correct [sic] the biased reporting of the American press.”  [IOW, they believe in the Myth of the Liberal Media, and way overcompensate to the Right.]

American Conservative Union:  “The nation’s oldest conservative lobbying organization. ACU’s purpose is to effectively communicate and advance the goals and principles of conservatism through one multi-issue, umbrella organization. ACU supports capitalism, a belief in the doctrine of original intent of the framers of the Constitution, confidence in traditional moral values, and a commitment to a strong national defense.”

American Enterprise Institute:  “Dedicated to preserving and strengthening the foundations of freedom–limited government, private enterprise, vital cultural and political institutions, and a strong foreign policy and national defense–through scholarly research, open debate, and publications.”

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC):  “The nation’s largest non-partisan, individual membership association of state legislators. Founded in 1973, ALEC is dedicated to developing and advancing policies based on the Jeffersonian principles of individual liberty, limited government, federalism and free markets.”

American Policy Center:  “APC advocates the free market as the best system yet devised to guarantee basic human needs. The free market, through its inherent system of checks and balances, including ownership of private property, is the best method for creating wealth, full employment, goods and services and protecting the environment…”

Americans for Tax Reform:   “A national clearinghouse for the grassroots taxpayers’ movement. ATR opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle. Supports tax reform which makes taxes fairer, flatter, more visible, and lower.”

Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise:  “A meeting place for the free enterprise community. A worldwide conversation on personal and economic freedom.”

Claremont Institute:  “The Claremont Institute finds the answers to America’s problems in the principles on which our nation was founded. To recover the Founding principles in our political life means recovering a limited and accounted government that respects private property, promotes stable family life and maintains a strong defense.”

Competitive Enterprise Institute:  “A pro-market, public policy group based in Washington DC committed to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government. Founded in 1984, CEI emphasizes the marketing and implementation of classical Libertarian ideals.”

Heartland Institute:  “A non-profit, non-partisan center for public policy research, focusing on free-market solutions to state and local public policy problems.”

Heritage Foundation:  “Created to spread the ideas of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”

Yeah, yeah, ‘capitalism’, ‘free enterprise’, ‘market solutions’, ‘limited government’, ‘strong national defense’, blah, blah, blah.   IOW, “BULLSHIT.”

Now, I’m not saying that the ALRA/Chuck Cushman and/or any of the groups listed above are behind the Hammond’s, or the Bundy family’s, scofflaw history.  But groups such as these are definitely enablers of this sort of flouting of Federal jurisdiction over public lands that we, the taxpayers, ALL own.

This is our daily Open Thread – talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 2nd, 2014: “Travel Is So Broadening”

Let’s start off the week with a quick trip around the United States. Courtesy of The Weather Channel, here’s a state-by-state photo gallery of some of our country’s natural wonders. In alphabetical order, they range from:

Noccalula Falls in Alabama…
alabama noccalula falls
…to the Cahokia Mounds in Illinois…
cahokia-flood-illinois_72986_600x450
…to Acadia National Park in Maine…
Otter-Cliff-Acadia National-Park-Maine
…to Niagara Falls in New York…
AA019259
…to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota…
ND_THRO_2
…to Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming.
Old Faithful Geyser at Sunset, Yellowstone Natio

Whew! I think I need a vacation after that “quick trip”!

Open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole; Friday March 28 2014; Outrage

Courtesy of online dictionary, a partial definition:

out-rage:
noun
1. an act of wanton cruelty or violence; any gross violation of law or decency.
2. anything that strongly offends, insults, or affronts the feelings.
3. a powerful feeling of resentment or anger aroused by something perceived as an injury, insult, or injustice: Outrage seized the entire nation at the news of the attempted assassination.

That pretty much summarizes my opinion of each and every one of the policies which have come to define today’s Republican Party, aka the GOP aka the Tea Party aka the AFP (American Fascist Party). In brief summary, this is the American political party that does not give a tinker’s dam about ANYTHING that has ANYTHING to do with ANYTHING other than money and power. They care nothing for culture, for civilization, for we the people, for education, for science, for the environment, for wildlife, for _______ (fill in the blank with ANY word other than money, or power, and save me however many thousands of pages it would take to list everything in the universe that’s hated or dismissed as insignificant by Republicans).

While y’all are doing that, I’ll post here an account of the latest atrocity that’s causing my blood to boil. It’s brief, summarized in a few short paragraphs describing outrageous actions by Republicans in the state of Idaho, courtesy of the Center for Biodiversity. It reads (highlights their own):

Idaho’s official policy is that “wolf recovery efforts be discontinued immediately, and wolves be removed by whatever means necessary.” The state has already killed more than 300 wolves and now plans to ramp up the massacre, slaughtering another 500.

Idaho’s legislature created a new “Wolf Control Board” just days ago — made up of hunters and ranchers and funded with $400,000 of taxpayer money — to shoot, trap and gas the state’s last remaining wolves.

Though Idaho’s wolf population has plummeted by 42 percent since federal protection was stripped away, the state — left in charge of wolf “management” — wants to kill another 500 of these ecologically precious predators. That will drive their population down to an unsustainable level of just 150.

There is, of course, zero logical reason for such stupid and ridiculous wildlife policy other than the all-too-typical (and common) Republican hatred of virtually everything other than themselves, and the money and power they spend their respective lifetimes cultivating.

The next step, the only chance remaining for Idaho wolves, will be if the US Fish and Wildife “Service” should ultimately decide to follow the science (rather than the hatred) and restore the endangered species tag to wolves in the lower 48. Sounds like the obviously logical choice to be made, but then when Republicans have any input at all on most anything at all, the concept of ‘obviously logical’ goes flying out the window. Every freakin’ time.

OK, rant over. Hopefully the embedded message — that the Republican “philosophy” of death to everything and everyone but the rich and powerful is the absolutely WORST government option that this country could ever choose. Sadly, pretty close to fifty percent of the apparent electorate supports and even votes for such dirt. Wish I had available the means to make the needed repairs, but it’s probably far more simple to train a colony of sewer roaches to dress for dinner than it is to convince half the population that they’re voting only for their own destruction.

OPEN THREAD; ANY and ALL ANTI-GOP RANTS WELCOME!

The Watering Hole; Friday January 31 2014; Wolves and Wildlife

On January 26, 2014 we visited a Colorado (privately owned and operated) facility called the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, located in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains — almost in the shadow of Pikes Peak — at an elevation just above 9000 ft, near the small town of Divide. The Center’s stated mission is to:

Educate the public through tours and programs about the importance of Wolves, Coyotes, and Foxes to our eco-system.

Educate the public about the importance of Preservation and Conservation of the forests, land, and water that supports wildlife, flora, and fauna for future generations to enjoy.

Provide natural habitats and exceptional lives for the animals entrusted to our care since they cannot live in the wild.

Inhabitants at the Center include foxes, coyotes, and wolves, each and all of which have been rescued from one or another type of captivity, some brutal. At the Center the animals are confined, but still are able to run free within large fenced areas, each an acre or more on the floor of a mixed conifer forest. They’re fed appropriately to suit their natural diet. Local road kill (in winter) is routinely delivered to the Center. If it’s not sufficient, flesh, bones, hides, and intestinal tract contents from any available source are either purchased or donated, and serve to maintain a healthy critter population.

The personnel at the Center work diligently to educate people about wolves and other wild canine predators. There are typically at least five (2 hour) guided tours per day, led mostly by volunteers who are both knowledgeable and passionate about the work they do; they speak with authority, are able to accurately answer questions, and clearly enjoy immensely their work, their contribution to both education (of people) AND to the well-being of the Center’s on-site critter population. School visits by youngsters are also quite common, and numerous handwritten responses by the children to questions concerning what they learned are on proud display, and are fascinating to read, to explore.

Following are a handful of snapshots that I was lucky enough to capture. Each of the critters is a wolf — Canis lupus (the foxes and coyotes weren’t at all patient with me when I asked them to pose). At least two are subspecies arctos, or Arctic (tundra, white) wolves; the others are the somewhat more common and wide-spread Gray (timber) wolves. Note their faces, how fierce, contorted, savage and hateful they clearly are (trying to sound stupid here; it ain’t always easy).

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAScary scary, right? “Cuz them wolves is KILLERS!” (Words spoken by an unidentified New Mexico Wingnut when the Mexican Gray was about to be reintroduced in the Southwest some 15-20 years ago). Actually, as our guide at the Center pointed out, there have been only two recorded wolf “attacks” on humans in North America in the last 100 YEARS, and both are suspect, may never have happened at all. But in this world, no matter, because FEAR rules. By demand.

Demand. It worked. By 1930 nearly every wolf in the lower 48 had been killed, all for no reason other than the irrational hatred, by humans, of a natural and valuable predator. Wherefrom the hatred? Why? Barry Holstun Lopez, in his 1978 masterwork Of Wolves and Men reflects on what he refers to as an “idea born in Europe” which “bears on the propriety of wolf killing, and that is to be found in the work of René Descartes. Descartes articulated the belief that not only were animals put on earth for man’s use but they were distinctly lowborn; they were without souls and therefore man incurred no mortal guilt in killing them.”  Descartes’ premise found immediate favor because, as Lopez notes, “the Church” had long ‘known’ that the very “idea” that animals — other than human — were at all important in any way was “abhorrent to the Roman Church at the time . . .”, and that the Church maintained the premise “that man could kill without moral restraint, without responsibility . . .”

Sadly, not much has changed over the course of the last few centuries. Today widespread assassination/murder/wanton killing of even recently reintroduced wolf populations continues, unabated, with more than 2000 wolves in the northern Rockies dead — shot, trapped, poisoned, killed by any possible means — in less than three years. Why? Because, as we all ‘know,’ wolves kill cows — bad for ranchers — and greatly reduce elk and deer populations — bad for hunters . . . a pair of premises which are demonstrably and patently untrue. The facts are that the estimated wolf depredation impact on cattle occurs at an annual rate of about two-tenths of one percent. Stated another way, if 10,000 cattle were to die each year out on the range from ‘natural’ causes, only 20 of those deaths would be attributable to wolves. And in most cases, ranchers are fully compensated when death is clearly/conclusively caused by wolves. Further, it’s a scientifically proven fact that natural herbivore (elk and deer, e.g..) populations are STRENGTHENED when wolf predation is part of the equation. Wolves do NOT kill the ‘trophy’ animals; rather they prey on the old, the sickly, the weak, and in the process both wolf and herbivore populations become stronger. Still, the oft-spoken epithet persists: “If all the wolves is dead there’ll be more elk for us hunters.”

What an amazingly non-salient (read: stupid) argument, one reiterated in late August of 2012, in Montana, when a reality TV show broadcast an episode on the killing of a wolf in Montana. “It’s the funnest thing I’ve done in years,” the gleeful host [crowed] after shooting the wolf with a high-powered rifle. “The funnest thing” pretty much describes the mentality implicit in those who . . . never mind.

Lopez also speaks, at some length, of the ‘other’ side of that cultural coin. He writes, “One of the problems that comes with trying to take a wider view of animals is that most of us have cut ourselves off from them conceptually. We do not think of ourselves as part of the animal kingdom. Indians did. They thought of themselves as The People (that is the translation from the native tongue of most tribal names) and of animals as The Wolves. The Bears. The Mice, and so forth.  . . . the line between Indians and wolves may fade, not because Indians did not perceive the differences but because they were preoccupied with the similarities.”

And so it is with each and all of The People at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center. They, too, take that “wider view of animals,” and do all they can do to advance the cause. For that, and for everything else they do and have done, I applaud them.

Meanwhile, an encouraging PostScript, courtesy of the Center for Biological Diversity, dated January 30 2014. It reads as follows:

Idaho Wolf Hunt Ends, Hired Gunman Halted

Faced with a looming court deadline to defend its actions against a suit by the Center for Biological Diversity and our allies, Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game on Monday halted its wolf-extermination program in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Nine wolves had already fallen to a hired hunter-trapper who began killing wolves in December; it’s unknown how many animals remain alive in the two targeted packs.

We’ve sued the department — and the U.S. Forest Service, which was assisting it — arguing that the wolf-killing program prioritized elk numbers for human hunters over wilderness values. After a federal judge rejected our request to stop the program on Jan. 17, we took our fight to the court of appeals, filing an emergency request for an injunction Jan. 23.

“It’s a tragedy that nine wolves had to die before the state of Idaho finally pulled the plug on its needless effort to eradicate two whole wolf packs from one of America’s largest wilderness areas,” said Noah Greenwald, the Center’s endangered species director. “The wolves were only playing the role they play in nature and should never have been killed. It shouldn’t take court action to stop such cruel, unnecessary and wasteful killing — but I’m glad it has stopped.”

I expect the ‘stop’ is temporary; there has never been a sustainable letup in the “human” urge to exterminate wolves. Still, every respite is at least useful, and maybe one day the principles implicit in those expressed and applied by the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center will prevail.

Dare WE hope?

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