Monday, December 22, 2014

New Mexico dairy shuts down after undercover activist videotape

Strapped with a surveillance camera, the animal rights activist went undercover this fall to document activities at a New Mexico dairy that supplied cheese products to several major U.S. pizza chains. He says he was sickened by what he saw — and videotaped. This wasn’t a slaughterhouse, but a dairy farm where animals live for years. The activist says he captured images of workers using chains and metal wires to whip animals on their faces and bodies, using tractors to drag milk cows too weak to walk on their own, and electrically shocking the genitals of many animals to get them to move. Cows were also kicked, punched and stabbed with screwdrivers, the footage showed. The Winchester Dairy, a 3,000-head, privately owned business outside Roswell, closed down shortly after the video became public in September, the firm said in a statement. The cows were sent to other dairies and the employees fired. The New Mexico Livestock Board, a state agency, launched an investigation, and the Chaves County district attorney’s office is reviewing evidence for possible criminal charges. On Thursday, Denver-based Leprino Foods, for whom Winchester Dairy was a supplier, announced a program that requires its dairy suppliers and farmers to comply with new company guidelines regarding animal care. Leprino, the world’s largest producer of mozzarella cheese and a supplier to fast-food chains nationwide, has said that it was “extremely repulsed” by the video. The livestock board completed its investigation into Winchester in October, but Chaves County has yet to say whether it will file charges. “We gave the prosecutors our results months ago,” said Ray Baca, executive director of the board. “But we’ve heard nothing from them.” The prosecutor’s office did not respond to calls for comment...more

HT: NMFLB's Daily Dirt

200 Anonymous State Democratic Lawmakers Are Organizing a Gun Control Group in Secret

BELLEVUE, WA --(Ammoland.com)- Nearly 200 anonymous (for now) state Democrat lawmakers have formed a gun control group in order to attack gun rights in our states. They are calling themselves American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention (ASLGVP). Their reason for forming the anti-gun coalition is because of the lack of success by Congress to deteriorate our gun rights at the federal level. Now they are taking matters into their own hands by attacking gun rights in each of our states. Their founder, Brian Kavanagh (D-NY), has proposed anti-gun legislation such as limiting gun owners to one purchase every 30 days, mandatory 10-day waiting periods before being able to accept a firearm, banning .50-cal rifles and ammo, and many more. This is what we have to look forward to from this group. Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) has become one of the biggest names in protecting gun rights by challenging anti-gun laws in the courts from coast to coast. You can bet the Second Amendment Foundation will be there to protect your rights from the wave of new anti-gun laws headed to your state. We are not guessing this coalition was formed because Congress did not get anti-gun legislation passed, they are being open about it: Their founder, Brian Kavanagh (D-NY), said, “We’ve come together in recognition of the essential role state legislators must play, whether or not Congress chooses to act, in reducing gun violence.” Another member, Senator Jose R. Rodriguez (D-TX) said, “Given Congress’s inability to enact sensible, commonsense laws, this coalition promises to provide legislators an avenue to share effective ways to reduce gun violence.” New gun control groups never use the words ‘gun control‘. They have learned that the public buys into their message quicker when they hide their agenda behind the words ‘reduce gun violence’ or ‘gun violence prevention’. It would be easier for all of us if their mission statement included their true agenda which is ‘we are going after your gun rights’. ASLGVP includes all of the correct vocabulary in their goals, like “reducing gun violence“, yet their founder has introduced many anti-gun bills that have nothing to do with reducing gun violence. When have you heard of a 50 caliber rifle being used in a mass shooting? How will restricting a law abiding gun owner to the purchase of one firearm per month prevent gun violence? Do not let their calculated diction fool you, they are after our firearms and they are headed to our states. One report said that the group had not yet published a list of members over concerns about “political backlash.” If these state lawmakers are worried about political backlash back home, they must have good reason for that...more

PSA encourages kids to steal parents’ guns, hand over to teachers


A startling new anti-gun ad released by a San Francisco-based production company encourages children to commit a series of crimes by stealing their parents’ guns and turning them over to school officials, The Daily Caller reported Monday.  Sleeper 13 Productions released the controversial video on Dec. 13. It shows a pouty, young boy wandering into his parents’ bedroom, stealing a handgun out of their dresser drawer and then shoving it into his backpack. The boy then carries what is presumably a loaded weapon into his classroom. After class, he approaches the teacher, takes the gun out of his backpack and slams it onto her desk. “Can you take this away? I don’t feel safe with a gun in my house,” the boy says. “Our children deserve a safe world,” the ad says. “Stop gun violence now.” According to the credits, the video was shot with permission from North Oakland Community Charter School in Oakland...more

Amodei, Jewell in lively feud over sage grouse

U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell have a pretty lively feud going over the sage grouse. The Obama administration is stewing over a rider Amodei stuck onto the year-end government spending bill that prohibits the Fish and Wildlife Service from meeting a September 2015 deadline to finalize rules listing the chicken-sized desert bird as endangered or threatened. Amodei, from Carson City, says he doesn’t believe the administration is doing enough to avoid a listing, which could wall off tracts of land across the West and disrupt ranchers, miners and others who make a living off the range. Conservationists say the process is working just as it should. Faced with the restriction, Interior officials said they will do everything short of putting sage grouse regulations into effect. They will continue to work with governors of Western states to find ways to protect habitat for the bird while collecting data to support a final decision. Then Jewell cranked it up a bit. “It’s disappointing that some members of Congress are more interested in political posturing than finding solutions to conserve the sagebrush landscape and the Western way of life,” she said in a statement. “Rather than helping the communities they profess to benefit, these members will only create uncertainty, encourage conflict and undermine the unprecedented progress that is happening throughout the West.” Amodei was not happy. According to aides, he was further irritated because the secretary’s statement was issued to the media four hours before a copy was sent to him...more

Legislator leads push to make Berryessa lands a national monument

There may be better ways to see beautiful scenery, but Rep. Mike Thompson believes dragging the U.S. secretary of the interior on a vigorous slog through the driving rain was as good a way as any to show off the Berryessa Snow Mountain wilderness. Thompson, D-St. Helena, led Sally Jewell, the secretary, and several other federal officials on a soggy 3-mile hike Friday through mud, ankle-deep water, past mountain lion tracks and coyote scat and up a steep, slippery hillside just to make a point. He wants the head of the Interior Department to talk President Obama into declaring the 350,000 acres that stretch from the shores of Lake Berryessa to the flanks of Snow Mountain a national monument. “There was some mud that was a pain and we had to ford a creek, but it was very, very pretty,” Thompson said as he prepared for an afternoon public hearing during which locals also made their case to the interior secretary...more

Same old MO, hike it and then spike it.

Property owners miffed over conservation easement tax program

Some Colorado property owners and hundreds of investors who took advantage of a program to preserve millions of acres of land in return for state income-tax credits could be forced to repay as much as $220 million in back taxes because the state ruled the land isn’t worth what the landowners claimed. Rocky Ford hay farmer Timothy Crow said he could be forced into bankruptcy. “This was supposed to be a good thing for everyone,” Crow said of the state’s conservation easement program, where land-rich but cash-poor ranchers and farmers like him can preserve their property forever in return for needed income. Crow and thousands of others preserved millions of acres of land in return for state income-tax credits they could either sell for cash or use to pay their own income tax bill. At issue are nearly 500 conservation easements like Crow’s, the bulk of them donated between 2003 and 2007, that were created under a state law that for years had no oversight. Many landowners went into the program honestly, but they relied on appraisers who used flawed methods of calculating land values. The problems have also hurt investors who bought the credits. “This just stinks all the way around,” said Fort Collins businessman Michael McCurdie, who is facing a $100,000 bill for back taxes and penalties because he bought $65,000 in easement credits in 2003. State officials say they’re just collecting taxes due, the Denver Post reported Sunday. “They were private deals negotiated by private parties, and as with any investment there is risk,” Colorado Department of Revenue spokeswoman Daria Serna said in an email to The Denver Post...more



If you want to tie your property up forever, go ahead...just don't expect others to subsidize your decision.

Grazing bill eases permitting process for Wyoming ranchers

Wyoming public lands grazers could see shorter permitting times after Congress passed a bill seeking to streamline grazing permit renewals. The Grazing Improvement Act, approved last week, allows the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service to speed the renewal of the agency's 10-year grazing permits. "It really at a fundamental level provides some stability for the grazing industry by assuring that our permits will be renewed in a timely fashion," said Jim Magagna, executive director of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. The legislation allows agencies to approve permits in the face of environmental lawsuits against permit renewals. U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials reported a permitting backlog of more than 5,600 permits nationwide in September. At the time, Congress was required to renew these permits annually. "The agencies didn't have the resources to meet that requirement, (which) basically put people in a position where they couldn't get their permits renewed in a timely manner," Magagna said. "In some cases, they couldn't graze their livestock for extended periods of time."...more

Blocked wolf hunt draws mixed reaction

Opponents of wolf hunting say they are worried that people will kill more wolves illegally after a federal judge decided to put the animals back on the endangered species list. Supporters believe a wolf hunt will eventually return. U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell’s order Friday affects Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The ruling bans further wolf hunting and trapping in those states. The federal government put states in charge of managing gray wolves two years ago. Dennis McMillan, a Kewaunee County resident and international hunting guide, supports wolf hunting. “The wolf is a beautiful animal. But they have to be managed,” said McMillan. “And the biologists are the ones that should manage them. Not the judges, not the attorneys, not the people that want to feel good because they protected a baby wolf.” Rod Coronado, the founder of the group Wolf Patrol, is pleased with the judge’s ruling. “We feel that Wisconsin has not demonstrated responsible wolf management, especially by allowing the hound hunting of wolves, snaring, trapping,” said Coronado. “These are both indiscriminate techniques of management that we don’t support.” Judge Howell, who is based in Washington D.C., said Friday that removing the wolves from the endangered species list was “arbitrary and capricious.” Unless the decision is overturned, states are blocked from scheduling more wolf hunting and trapping seasons. Wisconsin held its third consecutive season statewide this fall. According to facts from the state DNR, 154 wolves were killed. Hunters took 257 wolves in 2013 and 116 the year before...more

Wild horse advocates push to enter lawsuit filed by the state of Wyoming against BLM

Wild horse advocacy groups across the country are pushing to intervene in a federal lawsuit the state of Wyoming filed recently against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management accusing the federal agency of not doing enough to reduce wild horse populations. Two coalitions of horse advocate groups filed papers in federal court in Wyoming last week seeking to enter the state's lawsuit. One group includes the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, headquartered in North Carolina, and the other includes Friends of Animals, headquartered in Connecticut. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead claimed in the state's lawsuit that the BLM isn't doing enough to control horse numbers. He maintains too many wild horses can harm habitat used by wildlife. "It is my belief, and the belief of other western governors, that the BLM does not have the resources to manage wild horses effectively," Mead said after filing the lawsuit. "By filing suit, it sends a message that wild horse management is a priority and the BLM must be provided the funding necessary to manage them." By pushing to intervene in the case, the horse advocate groups are widening their attack on horse-management practices in Wyoming. The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and some other groups are pushing a separate federal lawsuit of their own claiming that the BLM violated federal law by rounding up over 1,200 from three areas in Wyoming this summer. The groups filed their main brief in their federal lawsuit against the BLM last week...more

Actually, Raising Beef Is Good for the Planet

Botched case would make great movie

by Kathleen Parker 

     First there's the spark, then the conflagration, followed by the litigation and then, surely, the movie.
Call it "Moonlight Fire," and prepare to suspend disbelief.
    The story is a doozy — a tale of corruption, prosecutorial abuse, alleged fraud upon the court, and possible government cover-ups in the service of power and greed. All the script needs is a Forest Service employee urinating on his bare feet in his lookout tower just as the fire was beginning.
This is what a real-life ranger discovered when she went to the tower to pick up a radio for repair. She also reported spotting a small glass pipe and smelling marijuana. As for the urinary exercise, the lookout said he was treating his athlete's foot. But of course.
    So goes one of the more colorful anecdotes surrounding the 2007 California wildfire that burned up to 65,000 acres — 45,000 of them on federal land — in the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Who caused the blaze, whom to blame, and who should pay? Was it an arsonist, the chainsaw dude, the bulldozer or the tower employee's, ahem, diverted attention? Such questions no doubt would amuse Miss Scarlet and Colonel Mustard if this were a game, but the events and consequences were and continue to be grave.
    Finding someone to blame became the obsession of state and federal investigators — the U.S. Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) — who worked jointly to solve the mystery. They found their perpetrator to be Sierra Pacific Industries, the nation's second largest lumber producer.
    How did investigators know it was Sierra Pacific? If you ask the defendants, they'll say investigators "knew" because this family-owned company has very deep pockets. And, too, a bulldozer used by a company working under contract for Sierra Pacific that day reportedly produced a spark.
It's not easy to feel sympathy for a mega-company that may have caused such a terrible fire. But what if there were other possible culprits, known about but never revealed by the plaintiff's attorneys? Alas, such is the case.
    Also in the area when the blaze started were a man who was cutting firewood with an illegally modified chainsaw and perhaps another individual who was a suspected arsonist. This isn't to say that these others are culpable, but defense attorneys claim that their existence — and investigators' failure to pursue or disclose these individuals — constitutes fraud upon the court.
    These facts among others prompted California Superior Court Judge Leslie C. Nichols in February to dismiss the Cal Fire action against Sierra Pacific and other defendants, and the state lawsuits stemming from the investigation.
    In his ruling, Nichols called the Cal Fire investigation "corrupt and tainted" and shot through with "egregious" and "reprehensible" discovery abuse that "threatened the integrity of the judicial process."
    "The cost of plaintiff Cal Fire's conduct is too much for the administration of justice to bear."
    It was also, apparently, too much for the defendants to bear. Thus, Nichols ordered the state to pay defendants $32 million in attorneys' fees and court expenses.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1338

Its Swingin' Monday and here's Hank Snow with The Reindeer Boogie

http://youtu.be/xx6wZS1z7MI

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Christmas built on memories

by Julie Carter

Christmas memories of long ago dictate what we find in the season today. Those memories, as varied as they are in location, extravagance or lack of it, belong to us. They reach a depth of emotion within that no other holiday comes close to touching.

I grew up knowing the Christmas holiday was about the celebration of family beginning with the family who started it all --Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus.

Our celebrating began with the cutting of the Christmas tree. It was a family event including aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. It always entailed a few snow ball fights and body rolling down snow covered hills.

Mom only had a few strings of lights and they all went on the tree.  In sharing my Christmas memories with my youngest when he was 10, I realized the huge gap in Christmas then and Christmas today. Already thinking I was ancient, I will share that this is the son who asked if I wrote on rocks when I was in school. Presumably he meant like the Flintstones or Moses. 

He questioned the existence of electricity back then but did ask what we used for lights on the tree. I assured him we plugged our lights in but told him that in my grandmother’s day they had used candles on the tree. He shrugged and said as he walked away, “I bet they burned down a lot of trees.”

The Montgomery Ward Christmas catalog was the center of pre-holiday anticipation at home on the ranch. The pages were worn out by the time all four of us kids got our lists made for Santa. We had no shopping malls to entice, confuse, or commercialize us.

I remember my mother working tirelessly to create the perfect 10-foot Christmas tree, the exact same number of packages under the tree for all four children and make at least 15 different kinds of cookies and as many kinds of candy.

For my Dad, once the tree was cut and standing in the bay window on a stand he’d made, he was pretty much out of the Christmas preparation picture. He knew when to make himself scarce. He did spend a designated amount of time every year teasing us about scaring Santa off with a shot gun and our stockings being left empty. It could have psychologically scarred us if we had known that it could.

Midnight mass, participating in the church program wearing a bed sheet for shepherd’s clothing, setting up the nativity and always knowing it was Jesus’ birthday that we were celebrating -- all part of forever memories.

I watched my own kids overflow with excitement and anticipation for Christmas as they grew up. They too wanted lots of family around, the tree decorated, as many lights as possible everywhere, and some homemade cookies and candy to graze on over the weeks.

They would shake and squeeze packages and hold tight to the image of Santa. They understood that the season was about Jesus, not Santa Claus, but Santa was pretty nice too. 

In honor of my rural upbringing, I continued to make their Christmas memories include Christ in Christmas and not accept “Winter Festival” for a holiday name. They learned that the gifts are a symbol for the gift we received with the birth of Jesus and that saying “thank you” for both is essential, not optional.

What each generation teaches the next about Christmas is critical to Christmas itself.  If we let them take away the Christ in Christmas, the “one nation under God” becomes no nation under God.

May your Christmas be merry and blessed.


Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com

Photo provided by Julie Carter

The Christmas Tally

Counting blessings
The Christmas Tally
From our camp to yours
By Stephen L. Wilmeth


             Blessings for us have come in five packages.
            Their names are Mayci, Raegan, Emma, Indie, and Aden. They are Wilmeth grandchildren who all visibly carry their Noni’s genes. They are all blue eyed.
            On Thanksgiving, we gathered in Mesilla to celebrate. The celebration was coupled with an hour spent taking pictures for Christmas cards. We pulled the carriage out and “harnessed” the kids to it. All of them have become so proficient in posing the task was easy. We selected a couple of pictures, and, there we are … two aging grandparents and, of course, our beautiful, blued eyed grandchildren.
            Along with their parents, they will return to celebrate Our Savior’s birth, gathered in our home with the fire burning, and the trees lit. I will wince at the excess, but I will be overruled.
            “It’s special,” will be the stern remark.
             1904
            As a special Christmas gift for 1904, Tom Shelley’s wife, Hattie, wrote to family members asking them to send letters addressed to her mother and father-in-law, Emily Jane and Peter Shelley. From across Texas and New Mexico, Hattie received the hand written messages and put them in a little heart book.
On the inside page, she wrote:
December 25, 1904
To Our Mother and Father
from Tom and Hattie
Wishing you a Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year
            Many of the feminine responses were couched in poetry. The stylized verse was strongly indicative of the times. Emily Jane’s sister and niece from Mayhill each wrote brief poems.
Dear Brother and Sister,                               My Dear Uncle and Aunt,
            Many a mile apart                                      The golden sun is setting
            Our homes have proved to be                    Across the barren plain
            But in the recess of your hearts                 When you read these lines my dear ones
            Keep one kind thought for me.                  May you think of me again.
                        Your loving sister,                                     Your loving niece,
                                 Nannie Joy                                                 Ella Joy
            From Elk, New Mexico, Edna Dockray continued the verse with:
            You may break and scatter
            The rock if you will
            But the Scent of the Rose
hang around it still.
            Final excerpts from Wilson Parmer’s letter suggested the trials and tribulations of a life of hard work and the difficulty of frontier existence.
“ … During this period of nearing a half a centre (sp) of life we have its gloom and its trubles (sp) and yet we are un able to penitrate (sp) what may lye (sp) before you. Yet while our harts (sp) may continue their work and lives be that of the best record lef (sp) behind,” he wrote.
            An ending quote from the stack of Christmas messages sent for the Christmas gift  request summed up the miles of distance and the directions that life took them all … When this you see remember me … tho many a mile apart we be.
            I’ve heard no verbal account of what took place when Peter and Emily Jane were presented with the little heart book, but I would suspect the treasure of all those heartfelt notes prompted excitement.
            I can imagine, though, what it would have been like when they all sat down to eat the Christmas meal. The warmth of the house would have come from heat from a wood fire (both cooking and heating). The food would have been prepared exclusively from their hands, and what gifts there were would have been meager.
            The letters from family would have been a lingering highlight, but … the joy of watching their gathered children and grandchildren would have been the most special gift of all.
            The tally
            In the Shelley book, the reference to that 1904 Christmas was immediately preceded by pages of shipping records. For years, I skimmed through those pages categorizing them as business records from the Cliff Mercantile of which Peter was the owner. There was little initial interest. When studied, though, the emergence of a broader history was revealed. Through the Mercantile, Peter bought and sold cattle for the greater community. The records showed those transactions in detail. Inspection fees were set forth as were commission fees (commission ran from 1.1 to 1.25%). If the seller had received any advance, an entry entitled “forfeit” was calculated and the final check was reduced accordingly.
A record of brands was also added. Familiar brands come to life on those pages. The 916s, the LCs, the PIT, the HWs, the 7V bar, the 303, the Cross Triangle, the quarter circle XLs, the Flying Y and on and on the history is revealed.
The Mercantile tally book reflected the fortunes of the community. Prior to 1921, the records were entered by hand. Thereafter, they were typed showing spring and fall shipping summaries.
Individual names appear and then disappear only to reappear. John and Will Henry, Ben Avery, Ely Clark, Fayette and Blue Rice, Tom and Will Shelley, Sallie Woodrow, Maggie Franks, Sloan Hightower, Sid George, Henry Woodrow, Joe Hooker, Pitts and Porter, Fleming Cattle Company, Homer Reese, Hugh McKeen, and the names continued. The Doyles, the Eakins, the Turmans, the Aults, the Fosters, the Turners, the Averys, the Wallaces, the Cloudts, and the Dinwiddies appeared as a fascinating reminder of the history of upper Gila River families unfolded.
Absent names suggest that not everybody sold cattle through the Mercantile, but chances are better than even they bought groceries there. The alternatives were slim.
In the spring of 1923, the prices for weaner steers ran $17, $22.75 for long yearlings, and $28.50 for two year olds. Mature, three year old cattle brought $33.50. Nothing was offered nor was any transaction recorded for pairs, heifers, cows, or bulls.
Those records were supremely important. They represented the summary of yearly income for those frontier families who existed solely by their own wits. What wasn’t noted, but existed in every home in that community was a similar tally book that each rancher kept. Many were leather bound, and, if they still exist, they have become heirlooms.
Christmas Tallies
I have two tally books. Both are leather bound. One was a Christmas gift. The other I made. The one I use regularly keeps my diary. At the end of each year, that diary comes out to be stored while a new one is inserted.
Earlier this year, I made one for my dad for Father’s Day. Another was presented to David Wilson for the gift he gave me in the form of a treasured Trost book. As a result, the gift of a rancher’s tally book has become a calling card of sorts.
It is in the spirit of the practice founded in the last quarter of the 19th Century by their great-great-great-great grandfather, Peter Shelley, my grandkids will each get their own “Christmas tally”. It will likely mean little in the current competition with toy stock trailers, electronic gadgetry, or the latest fashions, but maybe that will change with time.
 It is no secret I fret for the next generation steward of this range. The odds against young ranchers of the future will only increase. Costs of entry are unmanageable based on cattle returns, and, as federal lands ranchers, the scope of any long term planning is limited or nonexistent. The special managers that emerge and survive will necessarily have to be better than any of their predecessors.
They must adapt and change. They must strive for parallel enterprises to enhance their security, and they must deal with a juggernaut of negative societal assaults.
There is also hope that customs and culture are honored and perpetuated. Horse tracks as opposed to ATV tracks, cattle that fit individual ranges, rest and rotation, abundant drought water supplies, infrastructure investments, homes on the ranches, and the constant shadow cast on that land by that “manager too poor to pay for his sport” should be the goals.
There are few examples as simple or propitious to the success of ranching heritage as the tally book. It was protected. It was held close to the vest. It was seldom visible, but it was all important. Perhaps one of the five I present on Christmas day will take hold and grow a rancher.
Indeed … a true gift would be realized.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Merry Christmas … May the simplicity of a 1904 Christmas remind us of the most important things.”

On The Edge Of Common Sense


by Baxter Black, DVM

Cowboy Christmas Carol

This is the story of Tiny Slim Crachett, a genuine reprobate
Who squandered his money and wasted his love until it was almost too late.
He was just your typical cowboy, honest, brave and sincere
And he lay on his bunk one Christmas Eve night belching up nachos and beer

When a vision appeared at the foot of his bed. He stared at the apparition,
“Must be that microwave pizza I ate,” he blinked and shifted position.
“I ain’t no pizza you commonbred fool! Your brain’s as dull as your knife.
I am the ghost of Christmas past, and cowboy...This is your life!”

The scruffy old ghost looked down at the cowboy, “I’m here for a couple of things;
To find some reason to salvage your soul and, in doin’ so, earn me my wings.
“I’ve jotted some notes from the big tally book regarding your skipping on bail.
It says that your mother posted the bond. Is it true that she went to jail?”

“Well,” said the cowboy, “it was just for a year. I had to move in with my aunt!
But I got her a job when she made parole pullin’ hides at the rendering plant.”
“Yer worse than I thought! It’s a hopeless case and me, with my wings on the line.
I’ve checked through yer records for somethin worthwhile. There’s really not much I can find.

“You rattle around in your sister’s ol’ truck with no visible means of support
If sorry and worthless came bottled in pints you’d be good for a quart!
“You gypo some cows and ride a few colts, do day work if all else fails.
Shoot pool and drink beer, rope three days a week, trade chronics at all of the sales

“Your past is a trip through the cat box of life, a sorid collection of wrecks.
You’ve broke enough hearts to frighten DeBakey and written so many bad checks
“Were they laid on the ground in a line end to end they’d reach further than you could point!
Though time is a teacher, you’ve failed the grade. I can’t see a thing that you’ve loint

“But what the heck, it’s Christmas, A time of goodwill so I’m willin’ to skip the above
If we can find a single good deed you’ve done that shows kindness and love.”
“Humm...kindness and love...?” thought Tiny Slim Crachett, his mind beginning to race,
“Once a rumor got started that Mother’s old farm was covered with toxic waste.

“For the sake of my mom, I rallied the press. To a man they took up her cause!
Greenpeace rowed up and camped on the lawn, the feminists all burned their bras!
“I handcuffed myself to the Frigidaire! And went on a hunger strike!
But alas we failed. She was forced to sell at less than I would have liked.

“Thank goodness I’d just got my real estate license ‘cause the place brought near ‘43’
Though it cost the ol’ lady twenty’two thou for commission and realtor’s fee.
“So there’s my good deed. As simple as that you can count on me in a pinch.
Our problem is solved, I’m home free and clear and your wings are a lead pipe cinch!

“So, let’s drink a toast to Mom and the angels, and you, though you’re a late bloomer,
And hope they never find out it was me who started that ugly rumor!” 

DuBois Column


My column covers prairie dogs, wolves, wilderness, VIP vacations and horrible school lunches

Prairie Dogs & Interstate Commerce

Contrary to some other court opinions, a federal court in Utah has held the authority of the USFWS to regulate the "take" of threatened species under the ESA does not extend to an intrastate species.  The case is People For The Ethical Treatment of Property Owners vs. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  In 2012, the Feds issued a special rule for the Utah prairie dog that only exists in Utah.  The rule allowed a "take" of the species on private property where prairie dogs “create serious human safety hazards or disturb the sanctity of significant human cultural or human burial sites."  The People For The Ethical Treatment of Property Owners sued saying the USFWS lacked the authority to regulate a purely intrastate species on non-federal land.  The court agreed, ruling the “take” of the species does not substantially affect interstate commerce.  Courthouse News reports that several appeals courts have ruled the feds do have that authority, but for now land owners in Utah don’t have to get a federal permit to work or develop their property.

Wolves

In early November four environmental groups and Dave Parsons, retired Mexican wolf recovery coordinator, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the Feds alleging they have not provided a complete recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf.

In late November (and on the same day I’m writing this) the USFWS released their Final Environmental Impact Statement to their proposed rule revisions governing the Mexican wolf.  Near as I can tell their preferred alternative would a) triple the number of wolves, b) allow the initial release of wolves into the Gila National Forest and the Magdalena District of the Cibola National Forest, and c) expand the recovery area in New Mexico and Arizona to include all land south of I-10 to our border with Mexico.

Further, the USFWS lab has confirmed through DNA analysis that a female wolf inhabiting the north rim of the Grand Canyon is one of the Rocky Mountain wolf variety. In a released statement, the USFWS said the DNA results “indicate this wolf traveled at least 450 miles from an area in the northern Rocky Mountains to northern Arizona.”  This species is fully protected by the Endangered Species Act.

And finally, the Ruidoso News reports a possible wolf sighting just north Ruidoso.  A man and his wife were walking in a subdivision and witnessed two wolves attack and drag a mature doe into the Bonito River.  The man, one Alan Thomas, president of the local home owners association says it was a “vicious attack” and in a sign of things to come said, “I'm not naive enough to think there aren't predators in this part of New Mexico, but seeing two wolves appear out of nowhere and grab a huge deer right off the pavement in broad daylight was a sobering reminder to be ever vigilant when walking, jogging or bicycle riding."

New Mexico is about to become a very “wolfy” state, with the fully protected Rocky Mountain gray wolf north of I-40 and the experimental population of the Mexican gray wolf south of I-40.  This will start to impact more and more residents, even higher education.  The UNM Lobos fit right in, but the NMSU Aggies really doesn’t fit with our new “wolfy” status and they are due a name change.  I would suggest the NMSU Trappers.

Columbine-Hondo Wilderness

Senator Martin Heinrich has announced the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act has cleared the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and awaits action by the full Senate.  The legislation would designate as Wilderness 45,000 acres in the Carson National Forest in Taos County.  Heinrich says the acreage has been managed as a Wilderness Study Area since 1980.

Forest Service litigation

The Society of American Foresters has published a new study providing litigation statistics for 1989 to 2008. During that time period, 1,125 lawsuits were filed in federal court over federal land management. The Forest Service won 53.8 percent, lost 23.3 percent and settled in 22.9 percent (that means the Forest Service “lost” 47 percent of the time and money was awarded to the enviro attorneys). The Forest Service was more likely to lose or settle cases in the last six years of the study. Of the lawsuits, 78.9 percent sought less resource use within the National Forest System. Eighty two laws governed the Forest Service's land management decisions, according to the study. Plaintiffs alleged that the Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act in 71.5 percent of cases, the National Forest Management Act in 48.8 percent of cases, and the Endangered Species Act in 17.6 percent of cases.

NEPA is a money bank for the enviros and is preventing scientific management of our forests and endangering nearby communities.  The new majority in Congress needs to fix this.

Protesting PETA

In October two PETA workers, driving a PETA van, entered the yard of one Wilbur Zarate and from his porch absconded with the family’s pet Chihuahua.  There had been other animal disappearances in the neighborhood and that would have been the end of the story except for one thing:  a security camera on the property captured it all.  PETA euthanized the dog which had been a gift to Zarate’s nine year-old daughter.  However, the Accomack County Commonwealth's Attorney Office has refused to prosecute.  A rally has been held and over 2,000 folks signed a petition requesting he change his position, all to no avail.  The prosecutor says there was no criminal intent since there had been reports of stray dogs in the area.

According to official Virginia state records, PETA has killed almost 32,000 pets. Anyone who has followed PETA over the years knows exactly what their intent was.

Interior IG probes VIP trips

The Inspector General for the Department of the Interior has begun a review of senior Obama administration officials using a vacation lodge in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. In a Nov. 6 memo to Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall said her office would be conducting a review of his agency's "management and operation" of the park's Brinkerhoff Lodge. That review "will include an examination of management policies and practices associated with the operation of the Lodge, to include identifying what guests have used the Lodge without payment and for what purpose."

Need a vacation that includes lodging with liberals?  Just call Obama and then hope Michelle is not in charge of the menu.  Otherwise its roots and shoots for breakfast.

Michelle’s military – too fat to fight?

I’ve written before on how the Pentagon is teaming up with Michelle Obama to push her anti-meat school lunch program.  Now a group of retired generals and admirals are saying childhood obesity is a threat to national security and have issued a report titled Too Fat To Fight which claims that a quarter of 17- to 24-year-old Americans are too heavy to join the military.  The other 75 percent is not a big enough pool for you?  Instead you are calling for “for school districts to limit the sale of junk food and for national legislation to enforce those limits and to fund better school lunch options.”  In other words, more funding for Michelle Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

These generals should remember we have an all volunteer military and our kids are not exactly buying in to Michelle’s diet.  Her quest for healthy school lunches has sparked a backlash from the very people who are served the grub in cafeterias across America.  A campaign has gone viral where students take photos of their lunches and share them on Twitter using the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama.

I would suggest to our friends in the military that you leave parenting on nutrition up to the parents.  And since your own report admits there is a weight problem with folks already in the military, solve your internal problem before you start barking orders at others and finally, Super Size your tanks, not the government.

I’ll close with some good news.  Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah will be the next Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.  He’s a friend to federal lands ranchers.  I’ve also just learned that Jason Knox will be his Chief of Staff.  Jason is also a friend who has attended NM Cattle Growers meetings.

Here’s wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Very Prosperous New Year!

Frank DuBois was the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003, is the author of a blog: The Westerner (www.thewesterner.blogspot.com) and is the founder of The DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.


Versions of this column originally appeared in the NM Stockman and Livestock Market Digest.



Is Government Faithful to the Constitution?

By

When the government is waving at us with its right hand, so to speak, it is the government’s left hand that we should be watching. Just as a magician draws your attention to what he wants you to see so you will not observe how his trick is performed, last week presented a textbook example of public disputes masking hidden deceptions. Here is what happened.

Last week was dominated by two huge news stories. One was the revelation by the Senate Intelligence Committee of torture committed by CIA agents and contractors on 119 detainees in the post-9/11 era — 26 of whom were tortured for months by mistake. In that revelation of anguish and error were the conclusions by CIA agents themselves that their torture had not produced helpful information. President Barack Obama acknowledged that the CIA had tortured, yet he directed the Department of Justice not to prosecute those who tortured and those who authorized it.

The other substantial news story was the compromise achieved by Congress and the White House to fund the government through the end of September 2015. That legislation, which is 2,000 pages in length, was not read by anyone who voted for it. It spends a few hundred billion dollars more than the government will collect in tax revenue. The compromise was achieved through bribery; members of Congress bought and sold votes by adding goodies (in the form of local expenditures of money borrowed by the federal government) to the bill that were never debated or independently voted upon and were added solely to achieve the votes needed for passage. This is how the federal government operates today. Both parties participate in it. They have turned the public treasury into a public trough.

Hidden in the law that authorized the government to spend more than it will collect was a part about funding for the 16 federal civilian intelligence agencies. And hidden in that was a clause, inserted by the same Senate Intelligence Committee that revealed the CIA torture, authorizing the National Security Agency to gather and retain nonpublic data for five years and to share it with law enforcement and with foreign governments. “Nonpublic data” is the government’s language referring to the content of the emails, text messages, telephone calls, bank statements, utility bills and credit card bills of nearly every innocent person in America — including members of Congress, federal judges, public officials and law enforcement officials. I say “innocent” because the language of this legislation — which purports to make lawful the NSA spying we now all know about — makes clear that those who spy upon us needn’t have any articulable suspicion or probable cause for spying.

The need for articulable suspicion and probable cause has its origins in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which was written to prohibit what Congress just authorized. That amendment was a reaction to the brutish British practice of rummaging through the homes of American colonists, looking for anything that might be illegal. It is also a codification of our natural right to privacy. It requires that if the government wants nonpublic data from our persons, houses, papers or effects, it must first present evidence of probable cause to a judge and then ask the judge for a search warrant.

Probable cause is a level of evidence that is sufficient to induce a judge into concluding that it is more likely than not that the place to be examined contains evidence of crimes. In order to seek probable cause, the government must first have an articulable suspicion about the person or place it has targeted. Were this not in the law, then nothing would stop the government from fishing expeditions in pursuit of anyone it wants to pursue. And fishing expeditions turn the presumption of liberty on its head. The presumption of liberty is based on the belief that our rights are natural to us and that we may exercise them without a permission slip from the government and without its surveillance.

Until last week, that is. Last week, Congress, by authorizing the massive NSA spying to continue and by authorizing the spies to share what they have seized with law enforcement, basically permitted the fishing expeditions that the Fourth Amendment was written to prevent.

Today’s Chuckles

by Becky Akers


If you find yourself in need of a laugh after a week of torture, politicians, and bureaucratic lunacy, Bill Martin’s come to the rescue. He sent me these bon mots a gun shop in Texas posted on its marquee:
We like our guns locked up safe and secure like Obama’s birth records.

Criminals obey gun laws like politicians follow their oaths of office.

Guns are cheap compared to Obamacare and have better coverage.
And my favorite–
I like my guns like Obama likes his voters:  undocumented.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

How to Restore 'Innocent Until Proven Guilty'

by Jared Meyer

Many Americans have not heard of civil forfeiture, but this outrageous, and expanding, law enforcement tactic is becoming more difficult to ignore.

Civil forfeiture does not receive the condemnation it deserves because most people cannot believe that, in the United States, the government can take property from individuals without charging them with a crime. This is the type of behavior expected of the Venezuelan government, not of the United States, where individuals are supposed to be assumed innocent until proven guilty.

Instead of charging property owners and having to prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” in civil forfeiture cases, law enforcement charges the property itself—which does not enjoy the same legal protection as do individuals. All that is necessary for civil forfeiture is suspicion based on a “preponderance of evidence” that some property was connected with criminal activity. The burden of proof to prove property not guilty is on individuals, as it is assumed to be guilty.

The government developed civil forfeiture laws to combat drug dealers and money launderers, but this system is now used to target innocent individuals. The warped logic behind civil forfeiture abuses is that property—inanimate objects—took part in crimes. People can use property to commit crimes, but it makes no sense to argue that vehicles, homes, or piles of cash willingly undertook criminal actions.
Though property is being charged, civil forfeiture victimizes innocent individuals. Take, for example, the case of Roderick Daniels. Daniels was pulled over in 2007 in Tenaha, Texas for going 37 in a 35 mph zone. Officers discovered $8,500 in cash that Daniels planned to use to buy a car. Daniels was forced to forfeit his money when the officers threatened him with money-laundering charges.

This situation is similar to the experience of George Reby, who had $22,000 stolen from him last year in Tennessee after he was stopped for speeding. Officer Larry Bates asked Reby if he had any large sums of cash in his vehicle and, when Reby answered truthfully, Bates proceeded to take all the cash under forfeiture laws. This happened even though Reby had proof that he was using the money to buy a car, evidenced by his active bids on eBay. During an interview, when Bates was asked why he did not include this critical fact in his report, Bates responded, “I don’t know.” Carrying cash is apparently all the evidence of guilt he needed.

These cases are not isolated. The value of property seized under civil forfeiture laws, including cars, homes, boats, electronics, jewelry, and other property, increased nearly tenfold from $407 million nationwide in 2001 to $4.3 billion in 2012. Over that time period, police have seized $2.5 billion in cash alone from almost 62,000 people without warrants or indictments, according to a Washington Post investigation.

Some states and localities have taken positive steps toward combatting civil forfeiture abuse. This summer, Minnesota enacted a law requiring criminal conviction before property can be taken. Earlier this month, Washington, D.C. also passed a bill to overhaul its forfeiture laws. However, civil forfeiture is not just a state and local issue. The federal government creates perverse incentives that perpetuate civil forfeiture abuse.

When federal law enforcement agencies seize property under forfeiture laws, the proceeds are transferred to the Department of Justice's Asset Forfeiture Fund, where the funds can be directed to law enforcement activities.

The federal government’s role does not end here. Under the federal equitable sharing program, funds seized by local law enforcement can be transferred to the federal level to bypass state or local prohibitions against civil forfeiture, with Washington taking a 20 percent cut (which goes to DOJ's Fund). States and localities are powerless to do anything when the federal government awards forfeiture funds to local law enforcement, as federal law trumps state or local law.

There are practically no restrictions on how forfeiture funds can be used.