Saturday, March 12, 2011

Another Court Historian’s False Tariff History

Loewen next spreads an egregious falsehood about the tariff: "Tariffs were not an issue in 1860, and Southern states said nothing about them," he writes. "Why would they? Southerners had written the tariff of 1857, under which the nation was functioning. Its rates were lower than at any point since 1816." Every bit of this narrative is false. Tariffs certainly were an issue in 1860. Lincoln’s official campaign poster featured mug shots of himself and vice presidential candidate Hannibal Hamlin, above the campaign slogan, "Protection for Home Industry." (That is, high tariff rates to "protect home industry" from international competition). In a speech in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ("Steeltown, U.S.A."), a hotbed of protectionist sentiment, Lincoln announced that no other issue was as important as raising the tariff rate. It is well known that Lincoln made skillful use of his lifelong protectionist credentials to win the support of the Pennsylvania delegation at the Republican convention of 1860, and he did sign ten tariff-increasing bills while in office. When he announced a naval blockade of the Southern ports during the first months of the war, he gave only one reason for the blockade: tariff collection. As I have written numerous times, in his first inaugural address Lincoln announced that it was his duty "to collect the duties and imposts," and then threatened "force," "invasion" and "bloodshed" (his exact words) in any state that refused to collect the federal tariff, the average rate of which had just been doubled two days earlier. He was not going to "back down" to tax protesters in South Carolina or anywhere else, as Andrew Jackson had done...more

Pearce Delivers Letter of Protest to Forest Service Chief

Today, Congressman Steve Pearce met with Thomas Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, to deliver a letter in opposition to proposed road closings in the Gila National Forest.

Congressman Pearce’s letter was written on behalf of the hundreds of constituents who have spoken out in opposition to the closings. Mr. Pearce is especially concerned for the elderly, families, and disabled who would be unable to access much of the forest with decreased road access. He has been contacted personally by numerous constituents who said the Forest Service’s plan would prevent them from visiting the places they have shared with loved ones for decades.

“I respectfully request that the Service reconsider its plans to close roads and trails in the Gila National Forest,” Pearce said in the letter. “In so doing, I specifically ask that you intervene to have the DEIS withdrawn and redrafted to ensure access for disabled and elderly Americans, hunters, hikers and other outdoor hobbyists. No American should be denied the right to enjoy the pristine habitats that their tax dollars pay for.”

Last week, over 700 New Mexicans packed a convention center in Silver City to oppose the closures. In a survey conducted by Congressman Pearce during a Tele-Town Hall last month, 89% of respondents said they opposed closing roads in the Gila.

Pearce, an avid outdoorsman, has consistently emphasized the importance of conservation and of preserving the state’s treasures. He also believes that enjoyment of those treasures is a freedom that must be preserved for everyone.

Press Release

Friday, March 11, 2011

Udall, Bennet push for pledge not to expand Pinon Canyon site

Fort Carson officials have said for months the Army no longer has the immediate need or money to pursue expanding the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site — but Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet want Army leaders to say so in writing for Southeastern Colorado ranchers. The two Democrats sent a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh asking for that written declaration Thursday, a statement that would signal at least a short-term surrender on the Army's part in the five-year fight between landowners and the Pentagon over the bitterly contested effort to expand the Army's 238,000-acre training area northeast of Trinidad...more

Ranchers, who have been fighting the expansion since 2006, say the threat of condemnation has kept them from making needed improvements, has lowered their land value, and they want the expansion waiver rescinded.

The two primary citizen groups opposing the Army on Pinon Canyon — Not 1 More Acre! and the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition — have been pressing for Udall, Bennet or other Colorado lawmakers to revoke the February 2007 waiver that the Defense Department granted the Army to begin acquiring more land around Pinon Canyon. At that time, the Army was seeking to nearly triple the size of the training area, asking the Pentagon's permission to add another 418,000 acres. Ranchers have argued that the Pentagon would take a large step to reassuring landowners if it revoked the 2007 waiver — although it could also be restored with the pen stroke by any secretary of defense. The Udall-Bennet letter stops short of calling for revoking the land acquisition waiver, saying the senators understand that could cause complications for the Pentagon in other land acquisitions. Lon Robertson, a Kim rancher and president of the opposition coalition, was skeptical about what an Army letter might signify if the Pentagon retains the 2007 authorization to expand Pinon Canyon. "We appreciate that the senators understand our financial situation," Robertson said. "But I wonder what a written statement by the Army would be worth if it holds onto the authorization to expand when money becomes available."

Sadly, the lone Republican has this to say:

Pinon Canyon is located in the 3rd Congressional District where former Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., was a key leader in opposing expansion. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., now represents the district and Thursday, his spokesman said the freshman congressman commended Udall and Bennet for their letter. Tipton is looking for a long-term solution to the controversy, Josh Green said in an e-mail. "In order for that to happen, there needs to be trust on all sides of the issue and the congressman is committed to working to build that trust," he said.


Apparently Udall and Bennet don't want to "complicate" things for the Pentagon, so are seeking a half-hearted piece of paper that over time will mean nothing and thus continue to "complicate" things for the ranchers.

The comments of Tipton are just pitiful, as he becomes a purveyor of pablum about "trust". If he had any knowledge at all of the fed's previous acquisition for the Fort he would know there is absolutely zero reason to trust them. In fact, anyone who trusts them can only be considered a fool. Finally, standard operating procedure for a Congressional Delegation would have been for Tipton to be shown the letter and given the opportunity to sign. He apparently chose not to sign and so the question becomes why? Do we have another Republican who is favoring the feds over property owners and wants to keep the acquisition proposal alive?

The best option is to once again have the language in the DOD appropriations bill that prevents the Army from spending any money to even study the proposed acquisition. Anything less is a subterfuge. Army Brig. Gen. James Doty, Fort Carson's commander, says "...the Army no longer believes there is any need for expanding Pinon Canyon right now and there isn't any money in the foreseeable future (five years) to do that." So the Army would have no reason to oppose the insertion of such language.

If Udall and Bennet really care and want to make sure "lenders and landowners can make prudent land-use and financial decisions," they will put that language in the Senate bill.

The Pentagon is one of the largest landowners in the world as they own 30 million acres. If that's not enough to practice on, they need to get a new coach.


A more complete article is here. The local business community is also seeking revocation of the waiver and apparently Tipton will consider the appropriations language as a last resort and after they "make sure that we’re doing what people want."

The EPA's New Form of Land Seizure

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the unfettered right to declare any piece of land ANYWHERE (under the Clean Water Act) as a "wetlands." At the Obama Environmental Protection Agency's discretion, they can take over your private property, or tell you that you can't build your dream home on the land you bought simply by designating it a "wetland." And so far, you cannot do anything about it without spending far more than you paid for the property you are about to build on. If you choose to fight the federal bureaucracy for their takeover of your land, you --- or any landowner - can be assessed prohibitive penalties to fight the abrogation of your right use your own land. The most frightening thing about the EPA's over-reach is that they have found a way to exercise eminent domain in a way they never have to buy they land they "seize." In a real twist, in fact, the owners still has to keep up the taxes on the land --- even though they can never use it!...more

This piece, from The Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, tells the story of the Sackett's:

A hard-working Idaho couple found this out the hard way. Mike and Chantell Sackett own a half-acre lot in a RESIDENTIAL area near Priest Lake in northern Idaho. All they wanted to do was to build a home. Not an ostentatious home. Just their dream home. The lot exists within a built-out area near the Lake. The lot itself has an existing sewer hookup, and is zoned for RESIDENTIAL construction. Prior to their purchase of the land, the Sacketts completed the normal round of due diligence inspections. None of their research indicated any Clean Water Act permitting history or other EPA requirements to use the property. Yet, after the excavation work was begun the EPA "swooped in" with a special "compliance order" that required them to undo the excavation work and restore the "wetlands" to their "pristine" condition. Worse yet, they were told by the federal government they had to "leave it" for three years before they could seek a "permit" which might cost an additional HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS! In other words, they could not build or even put up a pup tent --- it had to be "untouched" as a designated "wetland."
You can go to the CDFE website to learn how to demand a Congressional investigation into EPA.

In this video by the Pacific Legal Foundation Mike and Chantell Sackett tell their story:

In Pinedale, Wyo., Residents Adjust to Air Pollution

Strong sun, not too much wind, a good thick snow pack: sounds like a perfect late winter’s day in a remote rural Western valley rimmed by snaggle-topped mountains. But that has also been the stage set for the worst ozone pollution event here in three years — in one of the places people might least expect. The nearest metropolis, Salt Lake City, is 180 miles away, and the usual smog suspects — cars, trucks, factories, indeed people in general — are few and far between in a county of only 8,800 residents. State environmental officials declared another ozone alert here on Wednesday, the second in less than a week, anticipating that air pollution would settle in starting Thursday. The upper Green River basin in southwest Wyoming has polluted-air days for a combination of reasons: its geography, in a valley at 7,000 feet; its typical winter weather that produces sun on highly reflective snow; and its economy, heavily based on natural gas drilling, which scientists say produces smog’s underlying chemical base...more

Gas Prices Have Gone Up 67 Percent Since Obama Became President

HT: Weekly Standard

New supervisor named for Gila National Forest

Southwestern New Mexico's Gila National Forest has a new supervisor, Kelly Russell. Her appointment was announced Wednesday by Regional Forester Corbin Newman. Russell begins her new job on Monday. She is 25-year veteran of the U.S. Forest Service who has worked in Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma and California. Russell currently is deputy forest supervisor on the Klamath National Forest in northern California. Before that, she was Oklahoma district ranger on the Ouachita National Forest in Oklahoma. She received a degree in biology from Wesleyan College in Macon, Ga., and attended graduate school in fisheries at Auburn University in Alabama. The Alabama native served two years in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, West Africa. AP

Author links man arrested in Quincy to the subject of her book on Oklahoma City bombing

The author of a book on the Oklahoma City bombing says a homeless man arrested in Quincy on Wednes day is the same man identified by several witnesses to the bombing as having been with Timothy McVeigh before the deadly attack. But an FBI spokesman, Greg Comcowich, said a man named Hussain Al-Hussaini was "thoroughly investigated" and found to "not have any role whatsoever in the attack on the Murrah Federal Building in 1995." Comcowich did confirm that a man named Hussain Al-Hussaini had been seen with McVeigh prior to the bombing. Quincy Police on Thursday spoke with the author and notified the FBI of the arrest of Al-Hussaini for slash ing a man’s face with a beer bot tle. Capt. John Dougan said the man arrested in Quincy on Wednesday has the same name as a man featured prominently in the 2004 book “The Third Terrorist: The Middle East Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing.” Both Dougan and the author of the Oklahoma City book said the man arrested in Quincy also has a tattoo on his arm that matches the description of one on the arm of the man in the book. “His age, his name, the picture, the mug shot, that’s him,” the author of “The Third Terrorist,” Jayna Davis, told The Patriot Ledger in a telephone interview...more

Gunmen Who Shot at Texas Rancher Still at Large

The search is on for the men who shot at a South Texas rancher. State authorities in Austin believe those men were smugglers defending their loads. Deputies working the case aren't sure who the gunmen were. The ranch foreman was met by a hail of bullets on his ranch north of Laredo. His truck worked as shield taking a bulk of the gunfire and allowing him to shoot back, saving his own life. "His windshield was busted. At that point he stepped out of his vehicle and shot back with his own rifle. We don't have any injuries. At that time the vehicle drove onto the highway and left," said Assistant Chief Pete Arredondo, Webb County Sheriff's Office. The two gunmen couldn't be identified. Arredondo believes shootings on border ranches happen more than we know, they just go unreported. Romeo Uribe's farms is close to where the shooting happened. He's seeing ranchers give up and move to the relative safety a city can provide. "People are giving up their professions. Selling their land in some cases and giving up their jobs and way of life," said Uribe...more

Wyoming Adopts “Constitutional Carry” of Firearms

An important step was taken yesterday in Wyoming toward restoring the constitutionally protected right of Americans to keep and bear arms, as that state became the second in less than a year to enact legislation affirming the right of its citizens to carry a concealed firearm without a special government-issued license. Following adoption in the state Senate, the vote of the House in the Wyoming legislature approved the bill by a vote of 48–8 several weeks ago, and Gov. Matt Mead (photo, left) signed it into law on March 3. The right to carry a concealed firearm without a special license issued by the state is often referred to as “constitutional carry.” Wyoming is now the fourth state in the Union that recognizes constitutional carry, joining Alaska, Arizona, and Vermont. Prior to Wyoming’s action, Arizona was the most recent state to adopt constitutional carry; Governor Jan Brewer signed the legislation in April of last year, and it went into effect a few months later, on July 29. It appears that the trend toward “constitutional carry” is likely to continue, with several states weighing adoption of measures similar to that which became law today in Wyoming. An article from the Associate Press declares that “Similar bills are pending in states including Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Utah. A bill has been introduced in Kentucky but hasn’t advanced while another was introduced for discussion in Idaho.”...more

Song Of The Day #526

Ranch Radio stays Out West with the Tune Wranglers and their song Cowboys and Indians. It was recorded on September 14, 1937 in Dallas, Texas and released on the Bluebird label.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

BLM gives Rep. Bishop "air rage" - video

Rep. Rob Bishop is known for his comedic relief and he didn't disappoint this week when he warned the head of the Bureau of Land Management that their actions could have unintended consequences. Bishop, who typically flies between Utah and Washington on Fridays and Mondays, says BLM actions can cause him to want to hit fellow passengers, bathroom mirrors and that for the safety of the flying public on Delta, the BLM should cease to tick him off...more

Here's the video of his comments, including him wanting to scream into his airplane pillow:

Perhaps Rep. Bishop and I should form a group: BLM Screamers Anonymous.

There clearly is a need. In Bishop's case many lives are at stake. In my case it wakes up my wife and scares the hell out of the dog.

Now I ask for some help from you readers. Should such a group be started, what are the criteria for membership? and what are the steps to recovery? (Surely we don't need 10)

Obama Administration Will Appeal Judge’s Order On Drilling Permits

The Obama administration will appeal a ruling from a federal judge who has ordered it to act on pending permits for oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, a cabinet official said Wednesday. The administration has said it will comply with the judge’s order to act on five pending applications by the end of next week. But it will dispute the court’s authority to make such decisions in the future, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday. “We will be taking an appeal of the judge’s decision,” Salazar said at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The appeal will target “what I consider to be an overreach into administrative authority,” Salazar said...more

U.S. oil production down, imports up

Gas prices are headed up and the conventional wisdom in the mainstream media explains the increases as attributable to "uncertainty" caused by political unrest in the Middle East, especially Libya. But the truth is, even if Libya stopped exporting any oil, the U.S. gets less than two percent of its imported petroleum from there. By contrast, there is no uncertainty about what is happening here in the U.S. as President Obama, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson are doing everything in their power to make it more difficult to find and produce our incredibly abundant domestic energy supplies. The result - as their policy intends - is energy prices head upward. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its latest short-term outlook earlier this week...more

Heavy Cost If Montana Nullifies The Endangered Species Act

Testimony in the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, March 9, says that should Montana nullify the Endangered Species Act it could potentially cost the state $500 million and 800 jobs. If the proposed bill by Representative Krayton Kerns of Laurel passes it would mean many state departments would lose federally matched dollars they currently rely on. Jim Lynch, director of the Montana Department of Transportation, says that his department alone would lose nearly $400 million for construction projects on federal highways...more

And here, Ken McDonald, FWP Wildlife Bureau Chief says, "FWP would lose eligibility to participate in federal aid programs and administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service as well as several other programs, and as a result we would have an impact of a loss of about $22-million dollars to Fish, Wildlife, and Parks."

Boo hoo.

But a state rep. get's it right:

Representative Kerns argues the fiscal note only proves that Montana is too tied up with federal dollars. He says the money doesn't exist, and the federal government is only trying to bribe Montana with debt.

No mention in either article of how much the ESA is costing the state.

Besides, no one ever said freedom was free.

Editorial: Utah strikes back

Some of Utah's leaders say they are trying to fight federal encroachment on state authority. They need to back up their talk with action. Gov. Gary Herbert last week said that the creation of more "wild lands" by the feds could cost the Beehive State billions and undermine the region's economy. He spoke in Washington before the House Natural Resources Committee. The governor blasted recent Interior Department moves that allow land managers to add more protection to public land with wilderness characteristics. "By bureaucratic fiat, one branch of the government has overstepped and overreached and has devalued the rights of the states and citizens," Herbert said. He noted a major effect: the loss of funding for the state's Permanent School Fund that would be available from mineral extraction across the state. Trust land monies are dedicated to education. Add in the loss of investments by oil and gas companies, the loss of jobs in drilling, and the loss of income to other businesses and governmental bodies, and Utah could lose a huge amount of money over the years because of federal grabs. Meanwhile, back in Salt Lake, the legislature also sent a message. The Utah House passed a measure calling on Congress to cede to the state full control of Utah lands now run by the federal Bureau of Land Management. House Joint Resolution 39 was approved 61-9. It asserts that Utah should regain control because U.S. officials have mismanaged the land, and because the law that made Utah a state committed Washington to selling that land to private owners, just as it was required to sell off it lands in older states farther east...more

US 'heartland' near historic shift from Midwest

America's population center is edging away from the Midwest, pulled by Hispanic growth in the Southwest, according to census figures. The historic shift is changing the nation's politics and even the traditional notion of the country's heartland - long the symbol of mainstream American beliefs and culture. The West is now home to the four fastest-growing states - Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Idaho - and has surpassed the Midwest in population, according to 2010 figures. California and Texas added to the southwestern population tilt, making up more than one-fourth of the nation's total gains since 2000. When the Census Bureau announces a new mean center of population next month, geographers believe it will be placed in or around Texas County, Mo., southwest of the present location in Phelps County, Mo. That would put it on a path to leave the region by midcentury. "The geography is clearly shifting, with the West beginning to emerge as America's new heartland," said Robert Lang, a sociology professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas who regularly crunches data to determine the nation's center. "It's a pace-setting region that is dominant in population growth but also as a swing point in American politics." The last time the U.S. center fell outside the Midwest was 1850...more

Lincoln asked Britain to help set up colony for freed slaves

Abraham Lincoln told freed slaves they should found a colony in Latin America, and even made contact secretly with the British about making land available in what was then British Honduras, now Belize, according to a new book. As America celebrates the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's first inauguration this week, a new book by researchers at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, makes the case that Lincoln was more committed to colonising black people than previously thought. The book, Colonization After Emancipation, is based in part on newly uncovered documents that authors Phillip Magness and Sebastian Page found at the British National Archives in Kew and in the US National Archives. It claims, among other things, that in 1862 Lincoln urged a White House audience of "free blacks" to leave the US and settle in Central America. He told them: "For the sake of your race, you should sacrifice something of your present comfort for the purpose of being as grand in that respect as the white people." He went on to say that those who envisioned a permanent life in the US were being "selfish" and he promoted Central America as an ideal location "especially because of the similarity of climate with your native land – thus being suited to your physical condition". Lincoln's views about colonisation are well known to historians, even if they don't make it into most schoolbooks. Lincoln even referred to colonisation in the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, his September 1862 warning to the South that he would free all slaves in southern territory if the rebellion continued...more

Silver City neighborhood destroyed - video

Wednesday afternoon, state forestry officials announced that pieces of a catalytic converter found where the Quail Ridge Fire was believed to have started most likely ignited the blaze. The landscape of the Silver Acres neighborhood in southwest Silver City has changed now. On nearly every street, the land is scorched and debris is scattered everywhere. Rainey Perea’s childhood home is among the total of 13 destroyed in the fire. All that’s left is a brick facade and the shells of burned appliances. His father built the home and lived there for 35 years. “It’s devastating for us to come and see this,” Perea said. The fire made a fast approach consuming acres of weeds, trees, brush, and yuccas before engulfing the homes. Perea says there’s nothing else to do but rebuild. The fire scorched nearly 1800 acres so far. By Wednesday evening, the fire was 50 percent contained...more

The KOAT-TV video report:

Carlsbad rep. pushes for anti-federal cattle-rustling bill

Cattle rustling, a crime of the Old West and the new recession, also has a political side. Sen. Vernon Asbill on Wednesday moved a bill through the Senate to preclude governments from seizing cattle on federally leased lands in New Mexico. His bill is specifically aimed at the U.S. government. Asbill, R-Carlsbad, said it would prevent federal agencies from taking livestock unless they have a court order or the owner's consent. Senators approved the bill 29-0. It goes next to the House of Representatives. Asbill said he offered the bill to curtail government abuses. He said the federal government confiscated cattle in Arizona and then sold the animals before any court proceedings could occur. His bill would stop state brand inspectors from issuing certificates to move cattle when there is a dispute. A brand inspection certificate is required when livestock is shipped out of state. A certificate could be granted, Asbill said, when the U.S. government has obtained a court order...more

Gov. Martinez nominates Bemis to head energy agency

Gov. Susana Martinez has nominated an assistant commissioner at the State Land Office to serve as head of the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. Martinez says John Bemis' experience in overseeing energy development at the Land Office makes him a qualified candidate. Bemis joined the State Land Office in 2003 and has served as assistant commissioner for oil, gas, and mineral resources since 2004. He previously worked as senior attorney for the Farmington region at Burlington Resources, Inc. Bemis is an Army veteran. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and earned his law degree from the University of Notre Dame. Bemis says New Mexico has great potential to lead the nation in energy development while still preserving the state's natural beauty. AP

Song Of The Day #525

Ranch Radio brings you the original recording of One More Ride by the Sons of the Pioneers. The tune was recorded in Los Angeles on July 3, 1936.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Reid: Save federal funding for the cowboy poets!

File this under: Did Harry Reid just say that? In the middle of his tirade against House Republicans' "mean-spirited" budget bill on the Senate floor Tuesday, the Senate Majority Leader lamented that the GOP’s proposed budget cuts would eliminate the annual "cowboy poetry festival” in his home state of Nevada. (See also: Reid’s prostitution lecture bombs.) Reid clearly has a soft spot for the Baxter Blacks of the poetry world and thinks Republicans don't. “The mean-spirited bill, H.R. 1 … eliminates the National Endowment of the Humanities, National Endowment of the Arts,” said Reid. “These programs create jobs. The National Endowment of the Humanities is the reason we have in northern Nevada every January a cowboy poetry festival. Had that program not been around, the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist.”...more

Baxter, Baxter where art thou? Does Baxter Black only bard to a bureaucrat's bucks?

Does Waddie Mitchell wander the west because of Washington's wasteful ways?

Does Michael Martin Murphey only croon to congressional currency?

The answer is no and we may actually here from two of these performers.

Now let's look at what Senator Reid said:

The National Endowment of the Humanities is the reason we have in northern Nevada every January a cowboy poetry festival. Had that program not been around, the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist.
So Reid believes "tens of thousands" of people "would not exist" if it weren't for federal funding of the festival. That's a lot of people's lives who depend on cowboy poetry!   I know that's not what he meant but it is what he said (who knows, maybe he did mean it).

Reid is part of the Government Gong Show that has been committing fiscal cruelty against us for far too long. 

He needs to retire to Elko where he can oversee the outhouses at his favorite festival.

House GOP budget bill aims to slash environmental regulation

The House spending bill passed last month wouldn't just chop $60 billion from the federal budget — it seeks to cut a broad swath through environmental regulation. From fish protections in California to water pollution limits in Florida and regulation of greenhouse gas emissions nationwide, environmental programs were targets of the Republican budget resolution, which appears to have been as much about setting a political agenda as about deficit reduction. Democrats have promised to block the environmental and other cuts in the Senate, where they hold a slim majority, and President Obama has raised the threat of a veto, making it unlikely that many of the hits in the proposal will survive. Lawmakers last week passed a stopgap measure to keep the government operating while they hash out a compromise. But few expect the recently elected and highly motivated GOP majority in the House to give up. "I think they're going to try and use every tactic in the book," said Nick Loris, a research associate with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. "This is largely what they came into office saying they were going to do." The legislation blocks a new Bureau of Land Management initiative to identify and protect pristine public lands in the West and withholds funding for a new Forest Service management plan that would restrict off-road vehicle use in national forests. It also removes Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the northern Rockies and eliminates hundreds of millions of dollars from a federal land acquisition program...more

Would Salazar support $10-per-gallon gas today, as he did in 2008?

House Speaker John Boehner has a fascinating reminder today of a scene...on the Senate floor in 2008 when current Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was a Democratic senator from Colorado and gas was $4-per-gallon in many areas of the country. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a measure to open up off-shore areas to new oil and natural gas drilling when the price of gas reached $4.50-per-gallon. Salazar objected. So McConnell changed it to $5-per-gallon. Salazar still objected. And so on and so on it went until McConnell said $10-per-gallon...more

Here is a video of the exchange:

Ex-Sen. Bennett to help Wilderness Society

Former Sen. Bob Bennett plans to consult with The Wilderness Society to reproduce a much-touted law he shepherded while in office that brought together environmentalists, developers and local officials in a landmark deal preserving hundreds of thousands of acres in southwestern Utah. Bennett, who formed his own consulting firm in January after leaving his 18-year Senate perch, said Monday he formed a working relationship with the environmental group and has been asked to help it replicate his effort elsewhere. “I’m hoping that we can, over the next few years, see this whole wilderness [controversy] thing calm down and see itself resolved,” the Utah Republican said. “Too many people on both sides of the controversy have a vested interested in keeping the controversy going.” Bennett, in tandem with Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, helped settle a long battle between those aiming to preserve open space in Washington County and those seeking to develop areas in one of the nation’s fastest-growing locales. The final bill, which drew support from all sides, set aside 256,000 acres for protection while opening up other areas for development. Other local officials — including those from San Juan, Piute and Emery counties — soon entered into conversations about their own bills modeled on the Washington County measure. Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar has said he is a big fan of such an effort and pointed to it as a model in working out wilderness agreements...more

EPA closes dust regulation meetings

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is sponsoring a series of closed meetings with a hand-picked group of stakeholders as it develops new national standards on dust. EPA officials are weighing proposed changes to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. In the meetings, which are being held around the nation, they are seeking data, feedback on monitoring requirements and trying to determine the impact a change in the standards would have on farmers and ranchers. EPA spokesman Richard Yost said the meetings are closed to the public because they are stakeholder meetings. "We strive to give participants the ability to speak frankly at these meetings," he said. "EPA frequently meets with a wide range of stakeholders on any number of issues." The agency would not provide a list of the stakeholders it invited. A record of the meeting will be placed in the public docket at a later date, Yost said. The latest meeting will be in Spokane the morning of March 9. Idaho Department of Agriculture Deputy Director Brian Oakey, who was invited to the meeting, said he was not aware it was closed to the public. "I'm not sure why (EPA) would run the meeting the way they did," he said. "The rules they're considering can have a dramatic impact on agriculture," Oakey told the Capital Press...more

Bishop Expresses Concern Over BLM and Forest Service Budgets

During Congressional hearings today, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), expressed disagreement with the proposed budgets for the Forest Service and BLM, especially on the issue of federal land acquisition.

The main points made by Bishop:

· The President’s budget includes $230 million and $50 million for land acquisition for the U.S. Forest Service and BLM respectively.
· The Forest Service budget cuts funding for essential programs such as those dedicated to wildfire suppression and for the continued access and operation of our forests solely to free-up funds for land acquisition.
· The BLM budget includes an increase of $15 million over FY 2011 levels for the duplicative National Landscape and Conservation System (NLCS).
· The BLM budget diverts critical land management funds to the Secretary’s newly created “Wild Lands” program
· After millions of dollars were spent traveling the country to promote the President’s “America’s Great Outdoors” initiative, the only tangible result from the meetings seem to be a report recommending more land acquisition. The requested $50 for the BLM is a $20 million increase over the previous fiscal year.

For my previous posts on Obama's property-grabbing virus go here, here and here.

Yellowstone grizzly population’s recovery debated in appeals court

Dueling attorneys for a conservation group and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offered starkly different opinions Monday about the future of the grizzly bear population in and around Yellowstone National Park, if the bear is taken off the threatened species list. Three Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals justices heard half-hour arguments and rebuttals from each side more than a year after the grizzlies were returned to the list by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy. The federal government is bullish on the bear's prospects, and state wildlife agencies from Montana and Wyoming have argued in briefs filed to the appellate court that officials are confident the bears won't go extinct if states are left to manage them. Environmental groups say the bear's future is murky, and lifting protections now poses too great a risk to their survival...more

Science sides with agriculture as global population booms

Some people seem to think that farmers need to learn and adopt Best Management Practices (BMPs). This observation seems to miss the fact that BMPs have been routinely practiced in commercial farming for years. Consider the following: A full 90 percent of large commercial California growers are using sophisticated GPS systems to apply pesticides and fertilizers to their crops, thereby cutting down on product waste and off-target spraying, according to Big W Sales representatives in Stockton, who sell modern precision agriculture equipment; farmers are also investing in new automatic section controls and other modern farming equipment as they come online to reduce product waste, save money and protect the environment. Additionally, BMPs currently practiced by growers focus on the management of inputs to provide economic, environmental and agronomic efficiency in production agriculture. Examples of BMPs include practices for the management of pests, nutrients and waste; vegetative and tillage practices, such as contour farming, cropping and rotational field sequences and windbreaks; and structural practices, such as terraces, grade stabilization and sediment control basins. There is also a lot of discussion about how farmers should be moved to more organic systems by eliminating inorganic fertilizers and crop protection tools. I would note that central to the science of agronomy is the topic of increasing crop yields and growing healthy plants that provide high nutritional value...more

Rocky Top..."rock-a-top" by: Catie-Beth

Phil Harvey, Jr. posted this video on Facebook. Thought I would share it here.

Song Of The Day #524

Ranch Radio's western tune today is Ridin' Ropin' recorded by Roy Rogers on June 15, 1938 in New York City and released on Vocalion.

Shooting Reported Near Rio Grande In Catarina: Rancher Fears For Life

He says his Catarina ranch has attracted drug smugglers before, who continuously knock down fences as they look for a way to enter the United States. However an encounter over the weekend between a neighboring rancher and smugglers turned violent, leaving him outraged and fearing for his life. Our Annette Garcia spoke with him and has the story...more

Here is the pro8news video report:

A Day in the Life of an Arizona Rancher: Fences, Illegal Aliens, and One Man's Watchtower

The Center for Immigration Studies has produced its first web-based film that looks in depth at what it is like to live as an Arizona rancher amongst the isolation and dangers posed by illegal immigration. "A Day in the Life of an Arizona Rancher: Border Fences, Illegal Aliens, and One Man's Watchtower", released one year after the March 2010 tragic murder of rancher Robert Krentz, unravels the mindset of a rancher trying to balance the complexities of illegal immigration when dealing with protecting himself, his family and his property from unknown, constant and potentially dangerous trespassers who in Arizona are nearly always illegal aliens. Richard Humphries, a lifelong Arizona resident and former narcotics cop living thirty miles north of the southeast Arizona border in Cochise County, became concerned enough with illegal activity on his land to build a watchtower to help himself and federal law enforcement track illegal aliens on his 75 acre ranch. This film relates Mr. Humphries' humane approach to curbing illegal immigration in his own words, chronicling stories about a 150 mile car chase of an illegal alien load; a close call at his front gate; a thirsty and scared woman who had lost her coyote; and a rancher's view of the Border Patrol tasked with interdicting illegal aliens across a still-porous border. The film's introduction provides a reality check on the extent that border fencing does and does not exist from Douglas to Nogales, and a view of 'Los Corrales' from the U.S. side of the border, a holding refuge for the smuggled...more

The video is available online at:

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

NPR Executives Caught on Video Making Bigoted Comments About Jews and Conservatives in Meeting with “Muslim Brotherhood”

Investigative journalist James O’Keefe, the man behind exposing ACORN, released a new undercover video Tuesday morning that captures two senior executives of National Public Radio (NPR) engaging in a bigoted dialogue with journalists posing as agents of the Muslim Brotherhood. “They’re seriously racist, racist people,” said NPR executive Ron Schiller, speaking about the Tea Party in the undercover video before mocking Evangelical Christians as “weird,” and agreeing that Jews control the media. Schiller is the president of the NPR Foundation and senior vice-president of development for NPR...more

Here is the video:

The Land Trust Alternative: For Endangered Ranchers, It’s a Future

In north central Wyoming, seven miles east of the Big Horn National Forest, Catherine Kusel and her brother Fred, two siblings well into retirement age, still run cattle on land purchased by their father in 1920. Their land has an undisturbed beauty typical of Wyoming. It is the dry, high desert steppe of open sage and grass juxtaposed with the rising forms of the Big Horn Mountains at its edge. The Kusel Ranch is an ideal place to raise a small herd of cattle, ideal, too, for people craving the aesthetic of the open west or for the second-home buyer wanting a private getaway. That’s why, since last summer, Catherine and Fred Kusel’s newest neighbor is not another rancher, but a new subdivision. Statistics presented by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association indicate that by the middle of this century, an additional 48 million people are expected to live in the West. This population boom will put 26 million acres of open space at risk of residential and commercial development. Expected to have the third-highest growth rate, Wyoming will feel much of this coming change. Such statistics sound like a death knell for people like the Kusels, who could be considered among the West’s endangered ranchers. To help them out, the Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust, Wyoming’s politicians and Wyoming’s industries are stepping up. After all, in a state where agriculture remains the third top-grossing industry after mining and tourism, losing ranches would hurt the economy as much as it would Wyoming’s identity...more

I don't like this anymore when stock growers do it than I do when enviro organizations do it.

Others have written about the potential hazards of these easements and the unsettled law which surrounds them.

My concern is with the policy in general. The stock growers need dues paying members to survive as an organization. The number of potential dues paying members is declining, so what do they do? They throw their arms around government programs to keep potential members in business.

In so doing, they are letting government policy determine current and future land use on private property. Cattlemen should be riding away from the government, not limping towards it.

Tongass in Alaska to get federal roadless protection

The federal rule protecting the nation's last remaining stretches of roadless wilderness will apply now to the largest and grandest of the national forests under a court ruling in Alaska, which threw out the exemption granted to the Tongass National Forest. Ruling in Anchorage, U.S. District Judge John W. Sedwick invalidated an exemption crafted under the Bush administration that had been intended to boost the crippled timber industry in Southeast Alaska by allowing access to stands of timber in remote sections of the forest. Regulations protecting many of the nation's roadless areas, originally put forward under the administration of President Bill Clinton, have been batted back and forth in the courts for years. A special exemption was carved out for the Tongass National Forest, which had a management plan in place protecting much of its remaining old-growth trees and guaranteeing a supply of timber to the region's dying timber industry. But conservationists argued there was plenty of timber available, and some of the other justifications for exempting the forest from roadless area protections were unnecessary. The judge agreed, rejecting, for example, the assertion that applying the roadless rule in Southeast Alaska could result in the loss of 900 jobs. The rule itself contained provisions for a "smooth transition for forest-dependent communities," the judge noted. "The Forest Service's explanation that temporarily exempting the Tongass from the Roadless Rule was necessary to prevent significant job losses is not supported by the evidence," the judge said. Likewise, he said, the exemption "did not provide any evidence in support of its bald assertion that the Roadless Rule significantly limits the ability of communities in Southeast Alaska to develop road and utility connections."...more

You can read the decision here.

U.S. Forest Service looks at changes in the 21st century

Resiliency is replacing productivity as the watchword of the U.S. Forest Service. The agency was founded in 1905 on the idea that using the science and technology of forestry could dramatically increase forest productivity and prevent a threatened “timber famine.” Historian Samuel Hays described it as “the gospel of efficiency.” At the heart of that policy was eliminating forest fires, a goal and task the agency carried into the 1970s. A debate, which began in the agency as early as the 1920s and continued into the 21st century, pitted the agency status quo against people who saw the natural role of fire in forests as a process to be used, not stopped. In the meantime, the concerns over other values like water quality, fish and wildlife habitat and wilderness constrained the traditional goal to make the forests produce more wood fiber. And the signal fires of 1988 in and around Yellowstone, and the series of huge western fires culminating with those in 2000, gave those who wanted to manage fire instead of stop it the upper hand. In the process, the Forest Service struggled to find its new philosophical base. When your philosophy takes more than one sentence to explain, it loses people along the way...more

Observers question end result of Obama’s energy agenda

When the Obama Administration issued a single permit for deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico last week, it was essentially taunting a starving oil industry that has been waiting for government action for months. And now that Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Department of Interior, is appealing a court order that would force him to act on more permits, some are questioning whether Obama’s energy policies are pushing the country toward another 1970’s-like energy crisis. “It’s déjà vu all over again!” said Dan Kish of the Institute for Energy Research. According to Kish, thought there are some differences between President Obama’s and President Jimmy Carter’s energy agendas, they both lead to the same place: an energy crunch. When it came to energy in the 1970s, the federal government’s policies were plagued with oil embargoes, price controls, Mid-East unrest, and perceived petroleum shortages. What resulted was a dramatic spike in prices at the pump and long lines of idling cars as they waited to fill their tanks, while President Carter appeared on television urging Americans to “use less”. Now, some observers say that the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, combined with President Obama’s energy policies will result in a similar experience...more

Oil Hypocrisy

As the White House goes to court to defend its self-imposed drilling moratorium, it floats the idea of tapping our strategic petroleum reserve to lower rising prices. How about the oil offshore and in Alaska? Listening to mainstream punditry, you'd think $4 gas is due solely to Mideast unrest and global demand. Those are factors, but so are our self-imposed restrictions on supply. The administration at least acknowledges that the law of supply and demand exists, with White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley telling NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that the White House is considering tapping into the nation's strategic petroleum reserve to counteract upward price pressure caused by fear of supply disruptions from Mideast unrest. "The issue of the reserves is one (option) we are considering," Daley said. All matters have to be on the table." All options? Does that include opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, ending a de facto drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico and lifting a seven-year ban on drilling off our coasts? We think not, for as Daley was uttering those words the administration was speaking out of the other side of its mouth by going to court to appeal a judge's order to act on several Gulf of Mexico deep-water drilling permits. That appeal was made Friday, the same day the national average for a price of self-serve unleaded hit $3.51, up 32.7 cents from two weeks earlier...more

The counteroffensive to President Obama’s war on fossil fuels begins

At long last, Congress is launching a counteroffensive to President Obama’s war on fossil fuels. A bipartisan group of senators recently grilled Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar about bureaucratic delays in approving deep-water oil drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico. And, following an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the impact of EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions on jobs, legislation was introduced to block that agency’s regulatory authority. Obama has been undeniably consistent in his unrelenting and unapologetic attack on our nation’s traditional forms of energy — coal, oil and natural gas. While running for president, Obama famously said he sought to make electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket” through cap-and-trade legislation and “bankrupt” power plants committing the progressive crime of using coal as an energy source. When cap and trade failed to pass Congress before the 2010 midterm elections, Obama shifted gears. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Obama said: “One of my top priorities next year is to have an energy policy that begins to address all facets of our overreliance on fossil fuels. We may end up having to do it in chunks, as opposed to some sort of comprehensive omnibus legislation.”...more

Obama Joins a New International Renewable Energy Agency

At a time when congressional Republicans are looking for ways to reduce U.S. funding to the United Nations, the Obama administration has formalized its membership in a new international body – and American taxpayers will provide more than one-fifth of its budget. The administration on Friday deposited its instrument of acceptance to join the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), State Department spokesman Philip Crowley announced. After joining in June 2009, the U.S. now becomes the 63rd fully ratified member of IRENA, a European-inspired initiative set up in 2009 to promote renewable forms of energy such as wind and solar power...more

GM sells just 281 Chevy Volts in February, Nissan only moves 67 Leafs

Peruse Chevrolet's February sales release, and you'll notice one number that's blatantly missing: how many Chevy Volts were sold. The number – a very modest 281 – is available in the company's detailed data (PDF), but it apparently isn't something that GM wants to highlight. Keeping the number quiet is understandable, since it's lower than the 321 that Chevy sold in January. Nissan doesn't have anything to brag about here, either (and it avoided any mention of the Leaf sales in its press release). Why? Well, back in January, the company sold 87 Leafs. In February? Just 67. Where does that leave us? Well, here's the big scorecard for all U.S. sales of these vehicles thus far: * Volt: 928 * Leaf: 173 Ouch...more

BLM pressed on alleged ethics violations by former Wyoming manager

The Interior Department is being accused by a government watchdog group of ignoring possible ethics violations by a former Bureau of Land Management field office manager who allegedly accepted gifts from the owner of an oil company regulated by the agency. The Project on Government Oversight sent a letter this week to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and BLM Director Bob Abbey questioning why BLM never disciplined James Murkin, the former BLM field manager in Casper, Wyo. Instead, Murkin was promoted to deputy director of BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System and Community Partnerships, according to POGO. Although Murkin is no longer with the agency, a 2009 Inspector General’s report found that while he was a manager in the Casper office, he failed to disclose regular meetings with the oil company owner and received $916.55 worth of materials from another company owned by the executive to construct a new patio at Murkin’s home. Murkin failed to prepay for the supplies, as required by BLM ethics rules, though he did pay later, according to the IG report...more

Speakers at Keep Our Forests Open rally speak to large crowd

For a thorough report on Saturday's rally concerning closing roads in the Gila, read this article by Mary Alice Murphy in The Grant County Beat.

Silver City fire destroys as many as 15 structures

Residents continued to be evacuated from their Rosedale Road homes Monday night as a wind-swept fire that already destroyed as many as 15 homes in the Silver Acres neighborhood continued to burn out of control. Silver City Fire Chief Rudy Bencomo said because the winds were still fueling the blaze, firefighters were in a defensive mode Monday night, evacuating people as necessary and trying to save as many homes as possible. Grant County Sheriff Raul Villanueva said that all of Silver Acres from Lance Drive south to Broken Arrow had been evacuated Monday afternoon, and officers began evacuating homes on Rosedale after the fire jumped Ridge Road. Bencomo said the fire appears to have started north of the Tyrone town site just off the shoulder of Highway 90. The cause of the blaze has not been determined, he said. By Monday afternoon an emergency shelter had been opened at the Grant County Business and Conference Center. About 60 people had made use of the shelter Monday afternoon and early evening...more

Navajo tribe appeals ranch lease decision

The Navajo Nation is appealing the Feb. 28 dismissal of a case over the leasing rights of ranch lands. The Navajo Department of Justice on Friday filed an appeal to Tohajiillee District Court Judge William Platero's dismissal of the case against Loretta Morris, who has leased land north of Crownpoint from the Nation for more than 40 years. Morris and her husband, Raymond Morris, were outbid last year when the Navajo Department of Agriculture introduced a bid system and auctioned off nearly 350,000 acres of land. The process booted 21 longtime ranchers from their lands. Ranchers complained when winning bidders agreed to pay more per head and to graze more cattle than the land could support. The Morrises, along with one other rancher, Farmington resident Justin Yazzie, refused to vacate their land, contending that the bid was conducted improperly and that they previously received approval on lease extensions. Platero agreed with the defendants last week when he dismissed the case, stating that the method used to award leases to the highest bidders — regardless of who was using and making improvements to the land — was invalid. The Nation failed to follow its own regulations when it awarded land to high bidders without including the president of the Nation in its final decision, Platero said...more

Farmers, EPA clash over Chesapeake Bay regulations

Lloyd McPherson bought his farm in the Shenandoah Valley, along the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay, more than 20 years ago. Back then, the Chesapeake was far from sight and mind. But now, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launches a new effort to clean up the bay, Mr. McPherson and his farming neighbors find themselves swept up in the largest and most ambitious water-restoration project ever attempted in the United States. In late December, the EPA set limits for nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment pollution in each of the bay's major tributary rivers. These limits are part of a TMDL, or total maximum daily load – a regulatory mechanism created by the Clean Water Act. While thousands of TMDLs have been created over the past several decades, none has been attempted on such an enormous scale. The bay's 64,000-square-mile watershed stretches across parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Del­a­ware, Virginia, and West Virginia, plus Wash­ington, D.C. It is home to almost 17 million people, as well as nearly 500 large public and industrial waste-water treatment plants. "This isn't your mother's TMDL," says Roy Hoagland, the Chesa­peake Bay Foundation's vice president for environmental protection and restoration. "This is something significantly different in the arena of restoration of waters in this nation." But for many farmers, the TMDL is hardly the best thing since the combine. The EPA has identified the watershed's nearly 88,000 farms as the largest source of nutrient and sediment pollution entering the bay. Many in the agricultural industry fear that the cost of increased pollution controls will place onerous financial burdens on them. So on Jan. 10, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau filed suit in federal court to block the TMDL. "We're very concerned that ... [the TMDL is] going to push agriculture out of the watershed," says Don Parrish, AFBF senior director of regulatory relations...more

Ethanol uses 40% of US Corn Crop

There’s lot of gloom and doom being pushed, trying to link food prices to climate change by the usual howlers. As shown above, food prices surged to record levels in February despite February wheat and rice prices being essentially flat. Yet, February corn prices are up significantly even with 2010 being the 3rd largest U.S. corn crop ever. Why? Well part of the reason is that our cars now have a mandated, growing and voracious appetite for corn based ethanol. Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. writes:
When certain information proves challenging to entrenched political or ideological commitments it can be easy for policy makers to ignore, downplay or even dismiss that information.  It is a common dynamic and knows no political boundaries.  Global Dashboard catches the Obama Administration selectively explaining the causes for increasing world food prices:
“The increase in February mostly reflected further gains in international maize prices, driven by strong demand amid tightening supplies, while prices rose marginally in the case of wheat and fell slightly in the case of rice.” “In other words, this is mainly about corn. And who’s the biggest corn exporter in the world? The United States…And where is 40% of US corn production going this year? Ethanol, for use in US car engines.”...

Bits, spurs and feed

Campbell County’s pioneers did whatever it took to make it, but none was more versatile than John “Dutch” Henry Thar, whose family today packs the same work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit. Thar was born in 1878 in An Den Hausen, Germany, and was 8 when his mother died. After his father also took ill, he was sent to an uncle in Columbus, Neb., via a 21-day, $50 ocean voyage. Henry was shuffled back to Germany when his father died and then shipped to Columbus yet again. At 13, he helped drive an oxen team 360 miles with freight bound for Chadron, Neb., then simply walked on to Cheyenne (a distance of more than 200 miles), in the fall 1891. Scrounging for jobs, young Henry spent time hanging around Granger Wagon Works. He couldn’t have known the three new Studebaker wagons under construction that spring would be loaded with dynamite in April and used by the invaders during the Johnson County War – or that one of the invaders would change the course of his life...more

Song Of The Day #523

Ranch Radio heads out west today with Gene Autry and Blue Montana Skies. The tune was recorded in Los Angeles on April 13, 1939.

The liberal campaign against SCOTUS conservatives

Still reeling from a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that opened the door to an explosion of political ads from corporate interests and fearful the court could overturn President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul, liberal groups have launched an aggressive — and, at times, personal — attack on the court’s most conservative justices. The sharp questioning of the impartiality and ethics of Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and, to a lesser extent, Samuel Alito, represent the most concerted attack on a bloc of justices since the early 1970s, when conservatives waged a long campaign against the liberal justices of the Warren court, most notably Justices William O. Douglas and Abe Fortas. Thomas and Scalia have been accused of undermining public confidence in the court by engaging in partisan politics and making decisions that could benefit the political and financial interests of family members and associates. And liberal groups have called on the Justice Department to investigate whether the two justices’ alleged conflicts of interest should have disqualified them from voting in the 2010 decision on political spending, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. One low-profile liberal watchdog group last week asked the Missouri Supreme Court to disbar Thomas. Alito has been criticized for speaking at fundraising events for conservative groups opposed to Obama’s agenda. Only Chief Justice John Roberts, the fourth staunch conservative on the court, has been relatively immune from the same kind of criticism...more

Monday, March 07, 2011

Ironwood Monument will be 1st test of policy

A new policy from U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's office will make it easier for authorities to protect remote, primitive lands containing some wilderness qualities. The first place in Arizona that might get such protection is the Ironwood Forest National Monument, where many saguaros and ironwood trees have lived for hundreds of years about 25 miles northwest of Tucson. But unlike the Pusch Ridge and Mount Wrightson wildernesses north and south of Tucson, such lands in the Ironwood Monument won't be officially called "wilderness." They would be called "wild lands." Salazar's new policy tells the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to consider giving that moniker to areas with appropriate wilderness characteristics. They wouldn't get all the protections of wilderness areas set aside by Congress, where most motorized and some non-motorized vehicles are banned. But they would be eligible for more protection than they have now. Environmentalists in Arizona have identified more than 2 million acres of BLM lands that they believe should be eligible for protection under this policy. They include more than 35,000 acres in Ironwood Monument and more than 100,000 acres in the Sonoran Desert National Monument between Tucson and Phoenix. They want to remove off-road vehicles from as much of this land as possible on the grounds that the vehicles are too noisy and destructive. "This isn't about grabbing new wilderness areas,"said Matt Skroch, director of the Arizona Wilderness Coalition. "It's about protecting wilderness characteristics. It gives BLM management the flexibility to ensure that these areas have opportunities for solitude and non-motorized recreation. Ironwood Monument is where Salazar's new policy will get its first Arizona test, because it's enmeshed in a lengthy process to prepare a new management plan...more

National Forests: a battle over mapping roads and trails

A 2005 Bush administration law, called the Travel Management Rule, mandated that the U.S. Forest Service determine which of its roads were legal for public use, and publish Motor Vehicle Use Maps. Before that, thousands of miles of roads and trails in the national forests hadn’t been well-defined; the chaotic mix of fire, mining, logging and private roads, ORV trails, user-created two-tracks, and even ad hoc racetracks were mostly open for use unless specifically designated as closed. The new rule reversed that logic, allowing driving only on newly designated routes. Now, however, activists are finding that many user-created trails and roads that were meant to be temporary are turning up on the maps. But removing them from the maps has been unpopular with off-road-vehicle enthusiasts, hunters and others who want more motorized access. Roads in the National Forests have been a hot-button issue since President Richard Nixon ordered the management of ORV traffic on public lands in 1972, and jumped to center stage in 2001 with rules keeping public lands roadless where possible. The process of analyzing the existing roads in the forests and putting them on maps is now about 68% done, Steadman said, citing USFS reports. The process is expected to be done by the end of 2011. However, the procedures for getting public comment and making changes to these maps varies by Forest Service district, leading to frustration among activists...more

Rivals of Gila Forest Plan Speak Out

Here is the video report from KOB-TV.

Wolves find few friends at the Capitol

As the Legislature moves into the second half of the session, the gray wolf is proving to be one creature with few friends in the Capitol. Lawmakers are advancing a slate of bills that call for decreasing protections for the gray wolf, while Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer encouraged ranchers and state agents last month to kill wolves in defiance of the federal Endangered Species Act. This year's bills against wolf protection underscore a long time Montana frustration with the animals. The majority of the Legislature, as well as the livestock and wool industry, say the wolves have recovered beyond expectations and prey on lucrative livestock and fragile elk populations. Some conservationists and biologists on the other hand, say the animals still need protection to survive and could be driven toward extermination if state officials have their way. Suggestive of the general animosity toward wolves inside the state Capitol, a resolution urging their removal from the federal endangered species list passed the House with 99 of 100 votes. One of the most aggressive measures against wolves calls for Montana to reject federal authority over the species and start curbing the population regardless of their endangered status...more

Former wolf hunter turns advocate in new book

Biologists have documented just a couple of dozen wolves that live in eastern Oregon. Nevertheless, the Legislature is considering four bills this session to control them. One state senator e-mailed his Klamath Falls constituents last week that these "vicious, imported predators" killed two pregnant cows outside Enterprise in "the most cruel way imaginable. These sadistic creatures," wrote Sen. Doug Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls, need to be confronted. He introduced two of the bills "before we are forced to take up arms to protect our communities and our children." Cattlemen call them Canadian gray wolves who don't belong here. Suzanne Stone of Defenders of Wildlife counters such animosity, saying that three of the bills would upend the 2010 Oregon wolf plan, a broad compromise reached last fall between cattlemen, wool growers, hunters and conservationists on how to manage wolves until they are no longer listed as endangered. "The hardest part of wolf management," she says, "is people." So it takes a big man who would stand between the two sides to explain the astonishing biology and sociology unleashed when wolves were returned to the American West. At 6-foot-6, Carter Niemeyer arrives in Portland just in time to elaborate. The author of "Wolfer, A Memoir" is an unlikely guide, an Iowa farm boy who spent most of his career as the federal government's hit man against predators...more

Another case of Mad Cow discovered in Canada

Yet another Canadian cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) has been detected. The cow was a dairy cow, nearly six and a half years old. It is 19th confirmed case of mad cow disease in Canada’s cattle herd since the first case in 2003. The cow would have been born in 2004 and infected with BSE either in 2004 or 2005, noted U.S. beef cattle advocates with the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund. The age of the infected cow shows that the BSE agent was circulating in Canada’s feed system long after the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared that Canada had its BSE problem under control, R-CALF said. The cow is the 12th BSE-positive animal to meet USDA’s age requirement for export to the United States under a November 2007 rule, R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said. The USDA allows the U.S. to import cattle from Canada that are over 30 months of age, as long as such cattle were born after March 1, 1999...more

Beef Industry Carves a Course

Colorado native Jen Johnson loved raising cattle and eating steak, a lifestyle some of her friends at Princeton University found a bit hard to swallow. Ms. Johnson tried winning them over with sheer enthusiasm. But she soon realized she needed help persuading her salad-nibbling sorority sisters to order steaks. So she went back to school to get her MBA—Masters of Beef Advocacy. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association, which represents beef producers, launched the MBA two years ago. The course trains ranchers, feedlot operators, butchers, chefs—anyone, really, who loves a good, thick rib-eye—in the fine art of promoting and defending red meat. Nearly 2,000 graduates have completed the program. The cattlemen aim to train at least 20,000 more, in the hope of building a forceful counterweight to the animal-rights advocates who denounce beef production as inhumane, and the vegetarian activists who reject beef consumption as unhealthy. The advocacy effort comes at a tough time for the beef industry. Beef consumption in the U.S. plunged from a high of 94 pounds a person in 1976 to less than 62 pounds in 2009, according to the American Meat Institute, a trade group representing beef processors. School districts across the country have adopted "Meatless Mondays" and are dishing out bean burritos in lieu of burgers. And this winter, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued new dietary guidelines advising consumers to replace some of the meat in their diet with seafood. Meanwhile, veggie evangelists at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have turned heads with ever-more-racy campaigns, including sending models clad only in strategically placed leaves of lettuce to hand out tofu hot dogs on street corners nationwide. PETA says its tactics work. Last year, the nonprofit fielded 850,000 requests for "vegetarian starter kits" packed with recipes like Tofu Tamale Pie and testimonials from celebrity supporters like actress Natalie Portman...more

Branding: Part work, part play, all chaos

With the sun struggling to break through the thick overcast hovering above the Salsipuedes Ranch near Jalama Beach on a recent morning, cowhands readied horses and equipment as hundreds of nervous calves and their mothers mooed and moaned in a nearby paddock. The Buellton-based Williams family, a long-time mainstay in the Central Coast’s ranching community, met with friends and relatives for a day of cattle branding — a ranching tradition that is part work, part social gathering and 100 percent controlled chaos. “We want experienced people out here working with us, because this can be dangerous work,” said Jerry Williams. “Our biggest thing is safety, especially for the people working on the ground with the calves.” Armed with large needles, cowgirls injected each secured calf with vaccines and wormer. The team quickly castrated each bull calf, then applied an ear tag and the Williams’ brand with lightning fast speed before the slackening the ropes and allowing the calf to spring back up in search of its mother. The entire process lasted a minute and a half or less for each animal...more

The 'Iron Horse' Comes to San Juan

Throughout most of the 19th century, San Juan Capistrano remained a quiet, little town, fairly isolated, even from Los Angeles and San Diego. This began to change in 1887, when the California Central Railroad began constructing a route from Santa Ana to Oceanside. The tracks were the final piece of California’s coastal rail network and would usher in a world of change for San Juan Capistrano. The railroad in general became the symbol of the technological feats produced by the 19th-century industrial age. In 1869, upon the completion of the first transcontinental railroad, travel and transport from coast to coast was reduced to just eight days. The far more dangerous cross-continent voyages on overland stagecoaches, taking weeks to complete, suddenly became a thing of the past. Every small town the railroad passed through became drastically altered, and San Juan Capistrano was no different. Vast new markets became accessible to San Juan farmers and ranchers. No longer were they forced to slowly move their products by wagon to buyers in the north or south, or only use trading ships to get the goods delivered to far-off markets. The railroad made its products available to virtually anywhere in the United States...more

Song Of The Day #522

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and we've got an uptempo tune by the Willis Brothers: Gonna Swing Till The Rope Breaks.

Fighting back: To avoid falling victim of a vicious drug war, some resort to taking up arms

NUEVO CASAS GRANDES, Mexico -- On the ranch lands near the U.S. border, people no longer take security for granted and have turned to weapons to stave off drug thugs. Teachers, ranchers, town officials, business owners and lawyers in rural towns of northwest Chihuahua near New Mexico have armed themselves. Legal or not, they are ready to use their guns for protection. In a country caught in the clutches of a vicious drug war, people have decided it's better to fight than to fall victim to the violence, which has claimed about 35,000 people nationally. It is estimated that 15.5 million weapons -- including small-caliber handguns, shotguns and semiautomatic rifles -- are owned by residents of Mexico while the army and the police have just under 1 million weapons at their disposal, according to a organization in Australia that tracks weapons worldwide. Fed up with chronic violence, some Mexican residents might be ready to push their government to make weapons more easily available. Life in areas southwest of Juárez has been cruel in the past two years. Besides slayings, a string of extortions, kidnappings and armed invasions of businesses and homes have taken them by surprise, many said. Fearful, these residents said they can't just sit and watch while criminals attack callously. Guns are necessary, they said. It is a reality that Alex LeBaron, a state representative in northwestern Chihuahua, wants the government to confront. Domestic gun laws have remained a taboo subject among Mexican politicians for decades. LeBaron believes times have changed, and he wants Mexico to revisit gun politics. "The right to bear arms is an important matter we shouldn't be afraid to discuss," LeBaron said. "People are armed in their homes. This is not a secret." The eight municipalities LeBaron represents surround Juárez and have been hit hard by cartel violence. "People won't allow more kidnappings," he said. "They are determined to defend themselves."...more

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Ropers --Keeping priorities in line
by Julie Carter

"There's just one thing that keeps him from being the best cowboy ever - he's worthless."

That quote from John Erikson covers a lot of things, not just cowboys. However, as usual, my story heads down that trail.

Troy is cowboy, a roper, a contractor, husband, father, grandfather and a horse trader. 

The trader qualities likely negate the credibility of the others and the stated order is probably not in proper priority according to Troy. However, the story will set that straight.

This week Troy has four good rope horses. They come and go. Sometimes he's afoot and has to borrow horses to rope on. 

When he will finally, actually buy a horse for his own use, some fool will come along and offer him big bucks and it's gone.

He is the quirky kind of roper/horseman -- one that can make any plug look like a winner. People buy his horses because they think that the horse will make them as good a roper as Troy.

When Troy is afoot and needy for a horse to rope on, he gets pitifully melancholy. 

He'd been to a benefit roping over the weekend and it set his mind to thinking perhaps he needed such a roping for himself.

The roper benefiting from the roping had an appendectomy. He was a truck driver, working for a big company and had health insurance, but was having trouble meeting the $500 deductible because he had to save his money for entry fees.

He also needed some time off to recuperate. He was running out of sick leave and didn't want to use any of his vacation days. He needed those for ropings come summer.

The "benefit" package of such a roping was looking good to Troy.

His personal pity party included the recall of all his most recent woes.

He'd spent a couple days sitting around a distant hospital waiting on a grandbaby's arrival. Once that happened, his wife gave him permission to go home. 

He hit the ranch gate at in full anticipation of fun. He went directly to gather up his horses, get them saddled and head over to this local benefit roping. 

As he led the horses to the trailer, he noticed one of them was limping. A close examination revealed he needed to call the horseshoer. 

So he headed back to the house to use the phone and simultaneously remembered he was supposed to be watching his other two grandchildren who had been dropped off just as he arrived.

He called his father-in-law to come get the kids, called the horseshoer and then went back out to the barn. 

When he got there, his hired hand yelled at him that water was "coming out of the house."

He remembered that he had to gather clothes for the kids anyway, so he went back to the house.
He found massive amounts of water gushing out of a wall. 

Quickly taking the siding and the insulation off, he found that the pipes that had been frozen earlier in the week, were now thawing and broken.

Recognizing that the repair was going to be a major job, he shut off all the water to the house. After all, the wife was still off with the new grandbaby business, what did he need water for?

Eventually, the father-in-law showed up and Troy had to shortcut him from going into the house.
He got the clothes gathered up for the kids, the horseshoer arrived and did his thing and finally, Troy left for the roping. 

There was a nice big buckle to be won and Troy took it as part of his plunder for the day. He roped all day long, rode down his two good horses and only came out $16 in the hole. Success is relative. 

What sealed the deal for is desire for a personal benefit roping was when Troy greeted another roper he knew.

"Hey man, haven't seen you in a while. Where have you been?"

"Aw, I've been working three days a week," was the pitiful reply from the accomplished #8 roper.

"Three days? How's that working for you?" Troy asked.

"Well, had to go to three, two didn't work out, I couldn't pay my bills."

Julie can be reached for comment at