Friday Apr. 18, 2014
Opinion
 

The Fourth Amendment to our Constitution attempts to protect us from unreasonable search and seizure. Generally speaking, that has meant that what is personally private should not be disturbed by the federal government unless there is an overriding public need, typically one involving a national security issue. Who decides, and under what set of processes, what is “reasonable” and just what constitutes “search” and/or “seizure,” is open for debate.

The question first becomes, “How much of our privacy are we willing to cede to those entrusted to protect us?” Then we must ask, “How are we, average citizens, to know enough to rationally make the decisions required?” Realistically, we can’t. Too much secrecy and technology is involved.
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The real problem with the failure to pass the North Fork Watershed Protection Act is how it happened. Others can argue over the merits of the legislation, but let’s take a look at how the sausage was made. Or, in this case, not made.

Both Montana Sen. John Walsh and Rep. Steve Daines, who is challenging Walsh in the forthcoming U.S. Senate election, appeared eager to pass this bill and lay claim to protecting an area that conservation groups and energy companies alike agree should be off limits to new mineral development. To be clear, this is a rather noncontroversial bill. In a letter, ConocoPhillips’ vice president expressed support for the added protections.
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For more than 60 years, the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association (MOGA) has served as an important voice for the outfitting industry and as a key partner in decisions that effect the management of public land and wildlife resources. We are proud to represent more than 200 member businesses across the state that offer a variety of outfitting and guiding services. Together, these businesses play a vital role in Montana’s tourism economy and help maintain the culture and traditions of ethical sportsmanship.

We see the preservation and protection of critical landscapes and outdoor traditions as extremely important to all user groups. These landscapes and the wildlife habitat they provide are not only critical to our industry but to the very fabric of who we are as Montanans. We recognize that these special places remain with us today because of the hard work and vision of the many people who have come before us.
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Most likely you've heard the saying "A poor artisan blames their tools."

Despite the ROI of blame being zero (at best), this situation goes well beyond blame.
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The U.S. Senate passed an extension of long-term unemployment benefits that helps out-of-work workers for five months. The fate of unemployment benefits is now up to the House.

Given that the bulk of the House’s current budget cuts proposal targets programs that help people of limited means, it’s unknown if it will act any time soon on unemployment. But it is midterm elections and the GOP hungers to control the Senate. Unemployment benefits can become a political vehicle for other policy like tax cuts.
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There’s something liberating about slipping a raft into a river in Western Montana. We are fortunate to have so many clean, free-flowing rivers nearby to enjoy with friends and family. And in my mind, few rivers can match the North Fork Flathead River. Other rivers may have more thrilling whitewater or more fish per river mile, but few match the North Fork for clean, beautiful water and stunning, wild scenery.

Montana’s congressional delegation happens to agree with me on this point. Sens. John Walsh, Jon Tester and Rep. Steve Daines are all supporters of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act. For this reason, it is especially maddening to read news that the bill is being blocked in the Senate by three senators who – in the memorable words of Tester – “can’t even find the Flathead River on a map.”
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A version of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act (NFPA) recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives and has been stymied by some U.S. senators refusing to vote for it. This oversight is welcome. One of the senators is the author of the apt and timely book, “The Debt Bomb” (Coburn, 2012). The senators “… have stipulated that the only way they’ll support additional land protections is if an equal amount of land is removed from federal protections” (March 19 Beacon).
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Rand Paul has appeal. He has energy, a flair for the dramatic, ambition, and name recognition. While occasionally seeming disarmingly foolish, he does not seem to be an actual fool, or a clone of his father, Ron Paul. Rand appears to be both smoother and more charismatic.

Rand Paul is not afraid of upsetting apple carts, though whether more for general attention or for direct results has not always been clear. His attacks on Bill Clinton, however, suggest there is more than just a bit of shrewdness to his actions. Bill’s “indiscretions” play well with Paul’s base, and conflating the two Clintons may work against Hillary later while helping Paul now, pre-primary.
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