Political Trough: Mexico Apologizes, Yet US Marine Still Jailed

The New York Times notes how Democrats dig for Native votes, while the editor of The Billings Gazette says appointed Sen. John Walsh (D-MT) looks desperate.  As the Canadians look to build a pipeline Westward, what does that mean for the Keystone XL pipeline?  Mexico apologizes for firing on two US Border Patrol agents- but what about a US Marine still stuck in a Mexican jail?  Those stories and more are in this week’s Political Trough. 

But first, reaction in Montana to the Hobby Lobby Obamacare decision from the US Supreme Court.


Attorney General Tim Fox’s Statement in Response to

U.S. Supreme Court’s Ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby

HELENA – Montana Attorney General Tim Fox issued the following statement today in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Nos. 13-354, 13-356, that President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) violates the religious freedoms of America’s family-owned businesses:

“Today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case upholds Americans’ religious liberties. In January of this year, I was proud to have joined 19 other state attorneys general on a friend of the court brief filed in this case. Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the mandatory Medicaid-expansion provisions of Obamacare, and today the Supreme Court struck down those offensive provisions of Obamacare that violate the First Amendment religious freedoms of America’s family business owners.”

Background: Montana joined 19 other states in a U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief (http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/supreme_court_preview/briefs-v3/13-354-13-356_amcu_som.authcheckdam.pdf) challenging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations promulgated under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) mandating that closely-held, for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby, Mardel, and Conestoga Wood provide health-insurance coverage for four FDA-approved contraceptives that operate after the fertilization of the human egg. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., Mardel Christian & Education Stores, Inc., and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. are all closely-held, family-owned, for-profit businesses whose owners have deeply-held religious convictions about the use of certain contraceptives. The families operate their businesses using faith-based models that incorporate their religious beliefs and moral principles. These businesses sued (Hobby Lobby and Mardel in Oklahoma, and Conestoga in Pennsylvania) the Secretary of Health and Human Services seeking to invalidate HHS regulations requiring their businesses to provide “abortifacient” contraceptives through company health insurance policies. The U.S. Supreme Court decided both cases in one 5-4 opinion (http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-354_olp1.pdf) authored by Justice Samuel Alito for the majority.


FoxNews.com: Mexico sorry for border crossing, but US Marine’s apology not enough

Mexican military officials are apologizing for firing from a chopper at two U.S. Border Patrol agents early Thursday, but one lawmaker says the incident draws a disturbing contrast with the case of Andrew Tahmooressi, the U.S. Marine sergeant whose apology for accidentally crossing the border hasn’t spared him a legal nightmare.

“It’s ironic that Mexico says it acted accidentally in this case, and they ask we accept an apology, when they refuse to acknowledge an authentic mistake on Andrew’s part.”
– Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.

The Hill- Border security: Key questions answered

1. How big is the surge?    
52,193 unaccompanied children, defined as those under the age of 18, were apprehended crossing the southern border of the United States from Oct. 1, 2013 to June 15, 2014. That’s about double the 26,206 who were caught in the same timeframe the previous year.

4. Can’t the United States simply deport illegal immigrants, even if they are minors?
Not right away. A 2008 law requires that DHS turn unaccompanied children over to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours. The law then states that they should be placed in the “least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child.”

Read more: http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/210884-border-crisis-five-key-questions-answered#ixzz367opn800
 Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook

Breitbart.com: Out with Keystone XL, In with Enbridge Northern Gateway

Claiming it could no longer abide the Obama administration’s five-year refusal to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline designed to bring 830,000 barrels a day of much-needed Alberta shale oil to U.S. refineries, the Canadian government recently approved plans for a huge new pipeline and port project to ship that oil to Asia instead.
When completed, the $7.9 billion Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, approved by Canada’s federal government on June 17, will consist of an environmentally safe, 730-mile oil pipeline. It will be capable of moving 600,000 barrels a day of Alberta oil to the pacific coast town of Kitimat, British Columbia, where a new state-of-the-art super tanker port facility will be built to ship the oil to thirsty Asian ports.

PERC.org: Fighting Western Fires With Economics

Even with a specific fire-suppression budget, however, agencies on the front lines will be caught in a Catch-22. With homes, watersheds and vistas threatened, city, county, state and federal agencies have little choice but to throw everything they have into suppression, once again neglecting the basic forest management needed to clear the tinder buildup that fuels infernos.

Dynamic economics requires finding the appropriate institutions for connecting human action with environmental change. Government can help by providing realistic signals about the environment and encouraging people to act on them. But it can also do the opposite. Hard as Hurricane Sandy was on the Jersey shore or Hurricane Katrina was on New Orleans, providing FEMA funds to rebuild in the same locations distorted the incentive to account for dynamic ecology. Already low-interest loans are available to homeowners and business that suffered property damage in the San Diego wildfires. Such policies fool people into thinking that they can live anywhere without accepting the environmental risks, but they do not alter the fundamentals of dynamic ecology.

KXLF-TV: Walsh, Daines want better services for Montana veterans

“I was speaking to the veterans of Helena–he was exposed to agent orange–they found a small spot on his lung during a cat scan. This was in January…and they said can you come back in September and review the case? That’s outrageous. and that is why we need to change the system,” (Rep. Steve Daines) said during his speech.
“I think when all the dust settles, this will go beyond just an investigation. There may be criminal charges filed here with what has happened here and the cover up that’s gone on…while the VA executives are making bonuses, while veterans are dying waiting for care.”

Billings Gazette- From the editor: Debating the debates -regarding the US Senate race between Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) and appointed Sen. John Walsh (D-MT) 

The margin in the Jon Tester-Denny Rehberg race was closer than the total number of Libertarian votes cast in that race. Same thing in the governor’s race between Steve Bullock and Rick Hill.
And you have to think that’s exactly why the Walsh camp seems so eager to invite Roger Roots to the debate. Despite being the incumbent, many wonks and insiders believe it’s Daines’ race to lose. And, if recent voting history is any indicator, using a libertarian spoiler is a great strategy in place of Walsh’s pretty weak political resume.

Quite frankly, it smells like an act of either political desperation or clumsiness.

The New York Times: Past Road’s End, Democrats Dig for Native Votes

Two years ago, extensive campaign work with tribes helped Democrats win two Senate races on Republican turf: in Montana, where the incumbent, Jon Tester, fought off a strong challenger, and in North Dakota, where Heidi Heitkamp won an open seat by edging out a popular congressman by just 3,000 votes.

Beyond Alaska, Democrats are hitting the ground again in Montana, where Native Americans make up 6.5 percent of the voting-age population, or 50,000 people. A good response there could help improve Senator John Walsh’s tough odds in turning his temporary Senate appointment this year into a full term. (He replaced Max Baucus, who is now the ambassador to China.) Democrats plan to have field offices on or near all seven of Montana’s reservations. The week after Mr. Walsh was sworn in, he visited six of those reservations.

My take:

Unfortunately for the Dems, those visits appeared to be a flop, as Walsh stood silently by Tester’s side.  He looked as though he was afraid to visit with tribal leaders by himself.

In case you missed it, here’s a very interesting story from the weekend.  I heard about it through Bruce Whittenberg with the Montana Historical Society who was there for the event.  

ABC News: Remains of Ancient Child Reburied in Montana

The 12,600-year-old remains of an infant boy were reburied Saturday in a Native American ceremony after scientists recovered DNA from the child discovered in central Montana in 1968.

The DNA also indicates the boy’s ancestors came from Asia, supporting the standard idea of ancient migration to the Americas by way of a land bridge that disappeared long ago.

To close out the Political Trough- this is how we get to spend our weekends back here in Montana. 

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