Newspaper column: Groups try to thwart wild horse experiment

It worked during the Obama administration, but will it work with the Trump administration?

A gaggle of self-styled wild horse advocate groups have filed lawsuits in Washington, D.C., and Portland, Ore., demanding that the Bureau of Land Management abandon plans to spay 100 wild mares in an experiment to help determine a better mechanism for curtailing the ongoing overpopulation on the range. The groups claim the surgical sterilization is dangerous, barbaric and inhumane.

In 2016, a similar project was abandoned by the BLM when some of the same groups filed lawsuits. At that time the BLM intended to partner with Oregon State University, but the university backed out in the face of protests. This time the BLM planned to link up with Colorado State University, but that school has already backed out.

In mid-September the BLM announced plans to use helicopters to round up 650 excess wild horses this month from the Warm Springs Herd Management Area near Hines, Ore., and to initiate research on the effects of spaying mares and returning them to the range. The area has a horse population of about 800 but can support less than 200 animals.

Horses removed from the range are to be sent to Oregon’s Wild Horse Corral Facility in Hines. Some will be put up for adoption and others selected for participation in the spay and behavior research.

The BLM press release announcing the plans stated, “The public is welcome to view the Warm Springs HMA gather and spay procedures.”

But one of the grounds cited in the lawsuits — filed by Front Range Equine Rescue, the American Wild Horse Campaign, the Cloud Foundation, the Animal Welfare Institute and others — is that the project violates the First Amendment, because outside groups are not adequately allowed to observe and record the surgery.

“To date, the BLM has refused to allow a meaningful opportunity for media or the public to observe and record these procedures,” said Nick Lawton, a lawyer for one of the groups. “The BLM’s refusal to allow meaningful access to observe and record these experiments thwarts the important newsgathering objectives that Plaintiffs aim to achieve by observing and documenting the BLM’s treatment of wild horses, and thus violates Plaintiffs’ rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

The groups also claim the spaying method — called ovariectomy via colpotomy, in which a veterinarian reaches into a mares’ abdomen through an incision and severs and extracts the ovaries — is “unscientific, inhumane and dangerous, and will result in pain, suffering and potentially life-threatening complications for wild mares.” They claim this violates the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

The BLM spends $50 million a year, or 60 percent of its annual budget for handling wild horses and burros, warehousing 46,000 of them in corrals and private pastures, while there are 83,000 wild horses and burros on a range that can adequately sustain no more than 27,000.

In a report to Congress earlier this year the BLM explained the problem and offered different options: “Wild horses and burros have no natural predators and herds can double in size every 4 years. As herd sizes increase, the forage and water resources from the land become depleted, resulting in starvation, dehydration, and death. In their search for food and water, the animals often move onto private land or along highways resulting in safety issues and habitat destruction for horses and humans alike. Public-land ranchers have cut back on grazing to accommodate increasing numbers of wild horses and burros.”

The report noted that overpopulation of these non-native animals is degrading the ecosystem and crowding out native greater sage grouse, pronghorn, deer, elk and bighorn sheep.

According to a CNN account, two of the groups involved — Front Range Equine Rescue and the American Wild Horse Campaign — have called for using an injectable birth control vaccine called Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) instead of surgery.

But surgery renders the mare sterile for the rest of its life, which can be as much as 25 years, while PZP must be administered every one to two years and requires more frequent captures of the horses, which can lead to injuries. The BLM is already experimenting with PZP.

The animal advocate groups are really making huge assumptions about what is best for the animals. Until the experiment is performed it is impossible to say what is best for the horses. Let’s hope the BLM doesn’t back down again in the face of litigation.

Thomas Mitchell is a longtime Nevada newspaper columnist. You may email him at thomasmnv@yahoo.com. He also blogs at https://4thst8.wordpress.com/.

CNN pix

Trump notes some were protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue and asks: Whose statue is next?

Intolerance will not be tolerated.

President Trump took heat for at first saying many sides were responsible for the violence in Charlottesville, Va., but coming out the next day and condemning Nazis and white supremacists did nothing to placate his critics. Today he was back to blaming both sides.

“I think there is blame on both sides,” Trump said today during a press conference that sounded more like a shouting match with reporters.
“What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at, as you say, the ‘alt-right,’ do they have any semblance of guilt?” Trump asked, according to CNN Politics. “What about the fact they came charging with clubs in hands, swinging clubs, do they have any problem? I think they do.”
He added: “You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. nobody wants to say it, but I will say it right now.”
He also noted that many of the protesters were not racists but were simply protesting the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee — though the media consistently and indiscriminately labeled them all as white nationalists. He then asked whose statues would be removed next, suggesting those of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson might be targeted because they were both slave owners.
Identity politics — which assumes that everyone with a similar complexion, gender, gender identity, genetic composition and age all think alike — continues to divide Americans, when instead we should be recognizing that everyone is an individual with a wide spectrum of beliefs and ideas. Everyone must be shoved into a pigeon hole. No diversity of thought allowed. No heresy may be uttered.

A person described as a counter protester throws a newspaper rack at a person described as a white nationalist, though how those identities were determined is not stated. (AP pix)

Newspaper column: A little GOP schooling: Do the math, read the history

Trump and Cruz (Getty Images)

Donald Trump keeps throwing temper tantrums like a spoiled school boy, complaining the system is rigged and crooked and he is being robbed of votes.

“You’re going to have a very, very angry and upset group of people at the convention,” Trump said at an event in Staten Island, N.Y., after Ted Cruz swept the Republican caucuses in Colorado and Wyoming by having the audacity to actually campaign there, unlike Trump. “I hope it doesn’t involve violence, and I’m not suggesting that. I hope it doesn’t involve violence and I don’t think it will. But I will say this: it’s a rigged system, it’s a crooked system, it’s 100 percent crooked.”

After the Colorado outcome was announced a petulant Trump tweeted, “The people of Colorado had their vote taken away from them by the phony politicians. Biggest story in politics. This will not be allowed!”

Want to know what’s rigged? It is the winner-take-all primaries and caucuses.

As of the beginning of this week, Trump had won about 40 percent of the GOP votes cast, but had collected 49 percent of the delegates committed to the top four Republican presidential candidates — Trump, Cruz, John Katich and Marco Rubio.

In New York, Trump got 60 percent of the votes cast, but 94 percent of the delegates.

In Missouri, Trump beat Cruz by just 0.2 percentage points — 40.9 percent to 40.7, — but Trump gets 37 of the delegates to Cruz’s 15.

One person, one vote? But them’s the rules and no one else is mewling like Trump.

After New York, Cruz was mathematically eliminated from having any chance of reaching the 1,237 delegates needed to win on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. Trump has a chance to reach that number but the odds are long.

As if all his other whining weren’t unseemly enough, Trump is taking umbrage with the party rules that set that magic number of 1,237. He told CNN several weeks ago, “I think we’ll win before getting to the convention, but if we didn’t and we’re 20 votes short, or we’re, you know, a hundred short, and we’re at 1,100 and somebody else is at 500 or 400, ’cause we’re way ahead of everybody, I don’t think you can say we don’t get it automatically. I think you’d have riots.”

 Scottie Nell Hughes, a part of Trump’s campaign, told CNN: “The majority, the plurality, the people, the majority of the population have voted for Mr. Trump. … So you know, riots aren’t necessarily a bad thing if it means we’re fighting the fact that our establishment Republican party has gone corrupt and decided to ignore the voice of the people and ignore the process.”

Oh? If you can’t do the math, can you read the history?

Return with us now to the thrilling days of the second Republican National Convention in Chicago in 1860.

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” sets the scene: “The convention finally settled down and the balloting began. Two hundred thirty-three votes would decide the Republican presidential nomination. The roll call opened with the New England states, which had been considered solidly for (William) Seward. In fact, a surprising number of votes went for (Abraham) Lincoln, as well as a scattering for (Salmon) Chase.”

At the end of the first ballot, the delegate vote tally stood at Seward 173 1/2; Lincoln 102; Chase 49; Edwin Bates 48.

That meant Seward had almost 47 percent of the delegates to Lincoln’s mere 27 percent and Chase and Bates stood at 13 points each.

As it stood at the beginning of the week for just the four top candidates, Trump has 49 percent of delegates chosen so far to Cruz’s 32 percent, while Rubio has 10 percent and Kasich 9 percent. Cruz had more backers than Lincoln did.

In Chicago in 1860 on the second ballot a number of Chase and Bates supporters switched to Lincoln, but Seward still led by three-and-a-half votes, but still shy of 233. Only on the third ballot did Lincoln muster a majority.

That, according to history, is how a convention works. No riots.

As for the inevitability of Trump, thus far only 6 percent of all the registered voters in the United States have cast a ballot for Trump — hardly a mandate.

A version of this column appears this week many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Update: After five states voting Tuesday Donald Trump has 954 delegates, while everyone else has 959.

How a contested convention really works

Ramirez cartoon

Contested Republican Convention? Been there, done that.

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” recounts the balloting at the May 1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago:

The convention finally settled down and the balloting began. Two hundred thirty-three votes would decide the Republican presidential nomination. The roll call opened with the New England states, which had been considered solidly for (William) Seward. In fact, a surprising number of votes went for Lincoln, as well as a scattering for (Salmon) Chase. Lincoln’s journey through New England after the Cooper Union speech had apparently won over a number of delegates. As expected, New York gave its full 70 votes to Seward, allowing him to leap far ahead. The Seward men relaxed until Virginia, which had also been considered solid for Seward, split its 22 votes between Seward and (Abraham) Lincoln. Chase had assumed that Ohio, which came next, would give him its full 46 votes, but the delegation was divided in its vote, giving 34 to Chase and the remaining 12 to Lincoln and (John) McLean. Perhaps the greatest surprise was Indiana, which (Edward) Bates had assumed was his territory; instead, Lincoln gathered all 26 votes. …

At the end of the first ballot, the tally stood: Seward 173 1/2; Lincoln 102; Chase 49; Bates 48. …

The second ballot revealed a crucial shift in Lincoln’s favor. In New England he picked up 17 more votes, while Delaware switched its 6 votes from Bates to Lincoln. Then came the biggest surprise of all, “startling the vast auditorium like a clap of thunder”: Pennsylvania announced 44 votes for Lincoln, boosting his total to 181, only 3 1/2 votes behind Seward’s new total of 184 1/2. … The race had narrowed to Seward and Lincoln. …

Spectators sat on the edge of their seats as the third ballot began. Lincoln gained 4 additional votes from Massachusetts and 4 from Pennsylvania, also adding 15 votes from Ohio. His total reached 231 1/2, only 1 1/2 votes shy of victory. “There was a pause,” (Murat) Halstead recorded. “In about ten ticks of a watch,” David K. Cartter of Ohio stood and announced the switch of 4 votes from Chase to Lincoln. “A profound stillness fell upon the Wigwam,: one eyewitness wrote. Then the Lincoln supporters “rose to their feet applauding rapturously, the ladies waving their handkerchiefs, the men waving and throwing up their hats by the thousands, cheering again and again.”

That is how a contested convention works. The person with a plurality doesn’t necessarily win. The delegates that first supported a losing candidate may choose to switch their votes on subsequent ballots to the second-place finisher or some other candidate.

But GOP front-runner Donald Trump told CNN a month ago: “I think we’ll win before getting to the convention, but if we didn’t and we’re 20 votes short, or we’re, you know, a hundred short, and we’re at 1,100 and somebody else is at 500 or 400, ’cause we’re way ahead of everybody, I don’t think you can say we don’t get it automatically. I think you’d have riots.”

Scottie Nell Hughes, a part of Trump’s campaign, told CNN: “The majority, the plurality, the people, the majority of the population have voted for Mr. Trump. … So you know, riots aren’t necessarily a bad thing if it means we’re fighting the fact that our establishment Republican party has gone corrupt and decided to ignore the voice of the people and ignore the process.”

On the first ballot in Chicago in 1860, of the four front-runners, Seward had almost 47 percent of the vote to Lincoln’s mere 27 percent and Chase and Bates at 13 points each.

The current delegate count of the four Republican front-runners, according to Real Clear Politics, shows Trump with almost 47 percent, followed by Ted Cruz with almost 38 percent, Marco Rubio with more than 10 percent and John Kasich with 9 points.

Cruz has more delegates than Lincoln did.

Hmmmm.

 

Newspaper column: You can fool some of the people some of the time … that might be enough

I have a sincere and earnest question for a large plurality of Nevada Republicans who say they will participate in the state’s among-the-first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses in February: What the hell are you thinking?

According to the most recent CNN/ORC poll, Donald Trump is the presidential choice of 38 percent of those aforementioned Republicans.

Trump is not even a real Republican. From 2001 to 2009 he was a registered Democrat. He registered Republican, then independent and Republican again in 2012. He changes parties and positions as often as most people change socks.

Trump (Getty Images)

Granted the pollster only surveyed 285 Republicans and the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 6 points, but irresolute Trump outpaced Ben Carson by far more than that. Carson garnered 22 percent, Carly Fiorina tallied 8, Marco Rubio 7, Jeb Bush 6 and Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee 4, while the rest earned 2 percent or less.

Fortunately only 30 percent of those potential caucus goers have “definitely” decided who they will support, 23 percent are merely “leaning” toward a given candidate and the remaining 47 percent are still trying to “definitely” decide.

Trump’s biggest braggadocio — and there are many — is that he is a master businessman who has a net worth of $10 billion after building on an inheritance of half a million, though Forbes says his current net worth is closer to $4.5 billion and analysts say that if the brilliant businessman had simply invested in stocks he’d be worth $20 billion today. He also dismisses the four corporate bankruptcies that cost his investors real money.

But 67 percent of Nevada Republicans polled said Trump would do the best job of handling the economy. The second-place finisher was Fiorina with 7 percent. Trump has managed to sell his sizzle even though he has no steak.

While we are on the topic of money, where has Trump “invested” his money in our political future? Until 2011, he contributed more to Democrats than Republicans. He has contributed to the campaigns of Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Charlie Rangel and Shelley Berkley.

Trump gave $10,000 to Reid and $5,000 to Ted Kennedy, as well as $67,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and $24,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Trump also donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation, after which both Bill and Hillary attended Trump’s latest wedding. The Wall Street Journal observed that Trump was “practicing situational politics” — translation, taking care of Trump.

As Fiorina pointed out in one of the Republican debates, Trump received a call from Bill Clinton shortly before Trump announced his candidacy. Coincidence or stalking horse for Hillary?

In a 2012 television interview, Trump said, “Hillary Clinton I think is a terrific woman. I am biased because I have known her for years. I live in New York. She lives in New York. I really like her and her husband both a lot. I think she really works hard. … I like her.”

As for the issues, Trump has been notably mercurial, tap dancing around instead of taking a stand on much of anything.

On that CNN/ORC poll, Trump has given highest marks on every issue addressed, from economy to foreign policy, from immigration to social issues.

On tax reform, he has called for higher taxes and lower taxes. He has been pro-life and pro-choice. Years ago he criticized the NRA for balking at gun restrictions, but now “the Second Amendment is a right, not a privilege” and he does not support expanding background checks.

Trump once backed a single-payer health care system, saying, “I believe in universal health care. I believe in whatever it takes to make people well and better.” Now he staunchly opposes ObamaCare — or did the last time we checked.

He once called for privatizing Social Security. Now, not so much.

Trump also has come out strongly in favor of using the government power of eminent domain to take property from one private owner and give it to another, if that will generate more tax revenue. So much for property rights.

Trump is little more than a scowling, snarling, epithet spewing, chameleonic but two-dimensional villain right out of a Batman comic book, who has a frighteningly realistic chance of tricking his way into the White House.

Start thinking.

A version of this column appears this week in the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel, the Lincoln County Record and the Sparks Tribune — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

What to ask those Democratic presidential candidates tonight?

Everybody is offering suggestions to CNN as to what questions should be asked of the Democratic presidential candidates at tonight’s debate in Las Vegas.

Who are we to buck the trend?

Hillary Clinton: Please tell our audience tonight how they too can invest $1,000 in cattle futures and turn it into $100,000 in 10 months.

Bernie Sanders: Can you explain why you defended the VA medical system and said: “the VA holds up as good or better than private hospitals. By and large, veterans throughout America believe that they’re getting pretty good health care.”

What difference does it make?

Lincoln Chafee: Though Bernie Sanders calls himself an independent and a socialist, can you explain why you switched from Republican to Democrat in 2013?

Martin O’Malley: Could you sing a few verses of “Whiskey in the Jar”?

Jim Webb: Can you explain why you oppose taking down the Confederate flag and saying: “The Confederate Battle Flag has wrongly been used for racist and other purposes in recent decades. … But we should also remember that honorable Americans fought on both sides in the Civil War, including slave holders in the Union Army …”?

Clinton: Can you explain why you gave a Russian diplomat a button that was supposed read “reset” in Russian but instead said “overcharge”?

Clinton: Why didn’t you tell the ambassador to get the hell out of Benghazi?

Clinton: Who was the head of the vast right-wing conspiracy?

Clinton: Why did you loot furnishings from the White House?

Clinton: How do you find Chinese dishwashers, waiters and street stall hawkers to contribute so much to your campaigns?

Clinton: How many email devices are you carrying right now?

Clinton: How much was Chelsea paid by your foundation and what did she do to earn it?

Clinton: Was there any sniper fire when you landed at McCarran airport recently?

Clinton: Tell us how you are going to use “Dear Saul” Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” to win this debate tonight?

Clinton: Why were you fired by the Watergate investigation?

Clinton: How does HillaryCare differ from ObamaCare or does it?

Clinton: Are you and Bill staying at the Greenspun home during this trip?

All candidates: How much will the national debt be after your first term in office?

Bully Trump is whining about being picked on

Trump smirks before he pouts. (Reuters photo)

Donald Trump is a bully, who can dish it out but whines and whimpers and simpers when someone slaps his face for being crude, rude and a sexist pig.

After Megan Kelly asked Trump about calling women he did not like “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,” Trump denied it. The New York Daily News compiled a list of the women who were on the receiving end of Trump insults.

Then after the debate, Trump spewed bile on his Twitter account. On CNN he called Kelly’s questions “ridiculous” and “off-base” and said, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes … Blood coming out of her wherever.” He later tried to say he meant her nose when he said wherever.

Trump twitted about Kelly and Frank Luntz, whose post-debate panel found Trump supporters dumping him:

— “The biggest loser in the debate was @megynkelly. You can’t out trump Donald Trump. You will lose!”

— “Fox viewers give low marks to bimbo @MegynKelly will consider other programs!”

— “@FrankLuntz is a low class slob who came to my office looking for consulting work and I had zero interest. Now he picks anti-Trump panels!”

— “@FrankLuntz, your so-called “focus groups” are a total joke. Don’t come to my office looking for business again. You are a clown!”

He Twitted more than 30 times between roughly 2:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m, pouting about how unfair everyone was to him.

Carly Fiorina went on CNN and said of Trump, “I have said for some time that no one who claims to represent our party should ever be judgmental in tone, vitriolic or angry. I just think it’s inappropriate to call people names.”

She Twitted: “Mr. Trump: There. Is. No. Excuse.”

Charles Krauthammer, who Trump said after the debate should be fired, said on Fox News, “This is a guy who is running as the tough guy. The foundation of his campaign is that our negotiators, our president, our administration is stupid. They’re weak. They get kicked over in negotiations. … And now he says that he was treated not nicely by three Fox News anchors. It doesn’t quite fit. It is extremely upset I think.”

According to CBS, Trump has on occasion backed off from some of his more outrageous jibes, after the damage was done. In April, he retweeted, then deleted, “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?”