Saturday, May 28, 2011

NM horse dies from equine herpes virus

A Bernalillo County horse died Thursday from a dangerous and spreading viral disease that now appears to have infected a horse in Torrance County, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture reported Friday. “Two horses in central New Mexico have died from the virus. One horse in Lea County has recovered and two in the state are still ill,” State Veterinarian Dr. Dave Fly said in a statement released by NMDA. “All cases being reported involve horses already placed in one of the three quarantined facilities we have in the state.” The outbreak of equine herpes virus EHV-1 and equine herpes virus myeloencephalopathy EHM is believed to have started with horses that attended the National Cutting Horse Association Championships in Ogden, Utah, earlier this month. A tot Fifteen horses from New Mexico attended the show. “Although the horses that attended the show have been quarantined for several days, there is still a threat of secondary exposures that may have occurred at other events or by horses that have not yet been identified,” Fly said. “We believe that an additional seven to 10 days is needed before normal equine movement is recommended.”...more

Friday, May 27, 2011

Forget Libya - Obama threatens "No-Fly Zone" over Texas

The Lone Star state's efforts to protect its citizens from the wandering hands of the federal behemoth fail as the administration says the Constitution gives it the right to touch our "junk." Once leaders such as Patrick Henry proudly proclaimed, "Give me liberty or give me death!" Now our government offers us the choice of scanning our bodies in an arguably unsafe manner or submitting to an enhanced "pat down" usually reserved for law enforcement officers apprehending criminals. The Texas of Gov. Rick Perry has objected — as it has in other areas of federal encroachment or neglect, such as with ObamaCare, EPA regulations, border security, etc. — that grandmothers and grandchildren flying from Dallas to Houston had to submit to this without what the courts would call "probable cause." A bill passed by the Texas House of Representatives 138—0, HR 1937, explicitly made it a felony for a security officer to intentionally touch someone's private parts — even outside their clothing — "as a condition of travel or as a condition of entry into a public place" unless the agent could show probable cause...more

So far, so good. Texans protecting the rights of their fellow Texans. The bill passed their House 138-0, so what on earth happened?

When the bill was on its way to the state Senate, U.S. attorney John Murphy, acting on behalf of the Transportation Security Administration, drafted a letter, which was sent to Texas lawmakers, including Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, House Speaker Joe Strauss, the House Clerk, and the Senate Secretary. The letter stated that if the Texas Senate passed the bill the TSA would halt all flights leaving Texas. Federal intimidation of a state challenging the authority of a federal government created by the states held sway.
Obama threatened a "No-Fly Zone" over Texas and they caved. In 1836 a band of Texians, out numbered almost 10 to one, took on Santa Ana at the Alamo. They lost but a month later the Texians defeated the Mexican Army at San Jacinto. Fast forward to 2011: Texas receives a piece of paper from Santa Obama and they scurry for cover.
Republican Dan Patrick, who was the sponsor of the bill in the Senate, withdrew it, telling the Texas Tribune: "There was a time in this state, there was a time in our history, where we stood up to the federal government and we did not cower to rules and policies that invaded the privacy of Texans."

No large army, no cannons, just a piece of paper. And look at the power exercised by the feds against a state and it's people. Want to fly? Then bend over.

Little Tommy You-Dull displays his ignorance once again

States News Service
May 26, 2011

The following information was released by New Mexico Senator Tom Udall:

U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved an emergency application that allows ranchers from Curry County to graze their livestock on federal lands not typically used for grazing. The senators wrote a letter of support for the application.

Due to severe drought and wildfires, there is little forage available for livestock grazing. As a result, Bingaman and Udall wrote to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to quickly approve a request to allow ranchers from the following counties to graze their livestock on Conservation Reserve Lands: Colfax, Union, Harding, Quay, Guadalupe, De Baca, Curry, Roosevelt, Lea, Torrance and Santa Fe. So far, USDA has granted approval for 154,685 acres in Curry County, but the senators are hopeful approval for the other counties will be forthcoming...more or see Udall's press release here.

Even when he's trying to do right (which isn't very often), Little Tommy You-Dull just can't get it accurate.

U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved an emergency application that allows ranchers from Curry County to graze their livestock on federal lands not typically used for grazing.

You-Dull has always had a hard time distinguishing between private property and federal lands. You see CRP lands are private lands that are enrolled in a federal program, they are not federal lands.

Someone please explain to You-Dull that just because I'm enrolled in the Social Security program that doesn't make my house federal property.

Poor Little Tommy You-Dull.  Every time I look at him all I see is dark at the end of the tunnel.

Tester defends Forest Jobs Act

Under attack by some environmentalists, ranchers and outdoor recreational groups, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., on Wednesday defended his ambitious plan to rescue Montana's flagging timber industry by opening thousands of acres of national forestland for logging, while protecting hundreds of thousands more as wilderness. The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act not only would create jobs, establish permanent recreation areas and preserve ecologically sensitive land, Tester told members of a Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee Wednesday, but it also would resolve long-simmering differences between factions in Montana who came together to forge this compromise. Unlike Tester's last version, this bill has the full backing of the Obama administration. Agriculture Undersecretary Harris Sherman told senators that Tester made some concessions, and that only "largely technical" concerns remain. Tester's bill is not out of the woods. It still must get through the committee, and its chairman, New Mexico Democrat Jeff Bingaman, has expressed reservations about it. Tester said he does not have Bingaman's support at this time...more

It's green enough for Obama, but still doesn't satisfy Bingaman. Even a fellow Democrat from the West can't work with Bingaman when it comes to Wilderness. Tell Tester there's a whole lot of folks in Dona Ana County, NM who know just how he feels.

Still Hiding The Decline?

Alarmist academics are being forced to show their work and they don't like it. Do they fear that a web of deception will unravel if their data are made public? A state judge has ordered the University of Virginia to cough up documents that pertain to the climate change research of Michael Mann, a former professor known for the hockey stick chart that supposedly shows the earth warming sharply over the last 100 years. Mann's response has been to accuse "fossil fuel industry-funded climate change deniers" with harassing the university, NASA "and scientific institutions with these frivolous attacks." Across the Atlantic, Paul Nurse, head of a scientific group, is moaning about how unfair it is for British scientists to put up with freedom-of-information laws. Requests for drafts and notes, he says, are intimidating and "will consume a huge amount of time" to comply with. If the scientists who are pushing the clown's nose of a global warming panic button aren't willing to share their work and show how they reached their positions, the only logical conclusion is that they are hiding something. If not, then a full release of their documents would back them up. Because their work influences public policy that affects lives, the public needs to know what the scientists who are predicting doom have been up to. Taxpayers who fund the public universities where research is being done deserve a full accounting, too. The many whose lives have been and will be touched by global warming-related legislation have earned the right to see behind the curtain, as well...more

Montana ranchers push for Korea trade deal

Eager to expand beef markets, Montana ranchers are throwing their weight behind a pending trade agreement with South Korea. The agreement, under review in Congress, would reduce tariffs and increase annual exports of U.S. beef by as much as $1.8 billion once fully implemented, according to some estimates. “Ranchers must have access to the additional demand for beef from consumers that live outside the United States,” said Errol Rice, a fifth-generation Montana rancher who serves as the executive vice president of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “Our ranch families’ livelihoods depend on exports, which are our most dynamic and vibrant opportunities for long-term sustainability.” Rice was speaking Thursday to the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees trade agreements and decides whether to recommend full Senate approval for such pacts. The panel is chaired by Sen. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat who was reluctant to move on the Korean agreement unless the Obama administration stepped up pressure on South Korea to ease restrictions on American beef. Those restrictions had been in place for several years because of concerns related to mad cow disease...more

WTO seen putting chill on U.S. COOL

Claims that a new preliminary World Trade Organization ruling favours Canada's 2009 challenge of U.S. country-of-origin labelling (COOL) have popped up from all manner of sources -- just not from official Ottawa or Washington or the WTO itself. Sources reporting at least a partial victory for Canada's challenge include the Washington-based National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), which on Thursday said a preliminary ruling had been handed down last Friday (May 20) to the parties involved. The NCBA, which has long been on record as opposing mandatory COOL, claims the ruling from the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body finds COOL requirements violate provisions of the WTO's agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). The WTO body "ruled U.S. COOL requirements do not fulfill the stated U.S. objective of helping inform consumers of the origin of meat and, consequently, violate the TBT agreement," the NCBA said Thursday. "It is also very important to note that this ruling is very much preliminary and all of the details are not yet known," NCBA president Bill Donald said in the association's release. The NCBA said the WTO will "reportedly make the ruling public sometime in September," after which the U.S. government gets two months to decide whether to file an appeal...more

Ranchers witness rare birth

Around 2 p.m. on May 3, ranchers Gordon and Rosalind Alger checked in on one of their Charolais cows due to give birth. "It was a warm, beautiful day," Rosalind recalled. "She was standing there and there were two calves standing near her." "Twins!" she said at the time. The Algers took the baby bulls to the corral, then walked back to the field. "We saw a third baby bull standing all by himself," she said. The Algers led him to the corral to be with the others, then took the cow to join them. The cow walked up to the third bull right away, she said. "It never once crossed our minds she had three," Rosalind said. "This will never happen again in my lifetime." The first three nights, the triplets snuggled close together in the hay. But on May 6, the Algers separated one of the bulls from his mother and put him in the barn. "The cow's barely got enough milk for two," Gordon said...more

Song Of The Day #584

Still featuring autoharp music, Ranch Radio brings you Deep Elm Blues by Bill Martin & Joe Riggs.

All the tunes this week are available on the 3 CD box set Autoharp Legacy.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

There’s a Secret Patriot Act, Senator Says

You may think you understand how the Patriot Act allows the government to spy on its citizens. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) says it’s worse than you’ve heard.  Congress is set to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the surveillance law as early as Thursday. But Wyden says that what Congress will renew is a mere fig leaf for a far broader legal interpretation of the Patriot Act that the government keeps to itself — entirely in secret. Worse, there are hints that the government uses this secret interpretation to gather what one Patriot-watcher calls a “dragnet” for massive amounts of information on private citizens; the government portrays its data-collection efforts much differently. “We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,” Wyden tells Danger Room in an interview in his Senate office. “When you’ve got that kind of a gap, you’re going to have a problem on your hands.” What exactly does Wyden mean by that? As a member of the intelligence committee, he laments that he can’t precisely explain without disclosing classified information. But one component of the Patriot Act in particular gives him immense pause: the so-called “business-records provision,” which empowers the FBI to get businesses, medical offices, banks and other organizations to turn over any “tangible things” it deems relevant to a security investigation. “It is fair to say that the business-records provision is a part of the Patriot Act that I am extremely interested in reforming,” Wyden says. “I know a fair amount about how it’s interpreted, and I am going to keep pushing, as I have, to get more information about how the Patriot Act is being interpreted declassified. I think the public has a right to public debate about it.” That’s why Wyden and his  colleague Sen. Mark Udall offered an amendment on Tuesday to the Patriot Act reauthorization. The amendment, first reported by Marcy Wheeler, blasts the administration for “secretly reinterpret[ing] public laws and statutes.” It would compel the Attorney General to “publicly disclose the United States Government’s official interpretation of the USA Patriot Act.” And, intriguingly, it refers to “intelligence-collection authorities” embedded in the Patriot Act that the administration briefed the Senate about in February...more

Texas Rancher's Pictures Are Worth 1,000 Words About Death and Danger at the Border

This is about a rancher who lives 69 miles north of the border with Mexico.

Please note this is happening on a ranch that far north of the border in a private lands State where the Border Patrol has unfettered access.

We New Mexicans shouldn't worry though. After all, in his wilderness bill Senator Bingaman grants the Border Patrol access for the first five miles north of the border. From there it turns into Bingaman's Bandito Boulevard where no federal, state or local law enforcement can patrol.

Below is the video or you can go here for the video report from the Greta Van Sustern Show on Fox News and/or read the entire transcript.


Montana shines light on fracking industry, but watchdogs see shadows

A state board is moving to require oil and gas companies in Montana to publically disclose what chemicals they pump thousands of feet underground to release fossil fuels trapped there. The rule dealing with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, comes as the American public has become suspicious of the drilling procedure that some say puts ground water at risk. However, while environmental watchdogs see it as a first step for a state that now requires very little in the way of disclosure, they also worry that it provides loopholes for industry - in particular a provision allowing companies to keep a chemical secret if it is deemed a trade secret. Under the proposed rule, companies could either file the chemical names with the state board or publish them on a nationwide website, FracFocus.org, which allows people to search for specific wells by state, county or well number. The website shows what chemicals are used and in what proportion in each well. "As a rancher who has leased the minerals, I expect to know what chemicals are being pumped into the ground so that I can protect my water resources from possible contamination," said Paul Hawks, a Melville-area rancher...more

TSA Pokey Pokey

From Reason TV

Song Of The Day #583

Ranch Radio brings you more autoharp music with a beautiful rendition of St. Louis Blues by Bill Bryant.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

SUVs saved Chrysler

Chrysler and the White House will celebrate the Detroit icon's $5.9 billion repayment of government loans Tuesday in a ceremony that will be hailed by both sides for the same reason: The government bailout had become a liability for both entities...more

Recall that as part of the bailout, Obama insisted that green-friendly Fiat be brought in to manage Chrysler, "to reform the immoral, gas-swigging, SUV-dependent Chrysler."

And the results were?

...the resurgence of America's appetite for trucks that has brought Chrysler back from the dead. Chrysler Group reported sales were up 17 percent to 1.1 million vehicles in 2010 on the strength of its wildly popular, redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs.

And what did Fiat's CEO learn from all this?


For CEO Marchionne, the SUVs success in the U.S. market has been a revelation and he is planning to expand the SUV lineup into Europe with Alfa Romeo and Maserati-badged trucks.

As a result of Obama's bailout, there will be large, energy inefficient, pollutin' and earthwarmin' SUVs and trucks running all over Europe.  Gotta love it.

I propose they have Obama lanes on the Autobahn, reserved for SUVs and pickup trucks that travel at least 100 mph.  Yeehaw!

Now we know that big government bailouts are not only bad for the economy and hard on the taxpayer, they are bad for the environment too.  Kind of a government oil spill if you see what I mean.

No doubt all of this has given Obama a bad case of the bailout blues. Any song writers out there?

White House: No more full-size vehicles

President Barack Obama has an order for federal agencies: No more driving full-size sedans or SUVs unless it is absolutely necessary. That means fewer Chevrolet Impalas and more Cruzes. Fewer Ford Taurus sedans and more Ford Fiestas. More federal workers driving around in smaller vehicles rather than gas-guzzling SUVs. Within six months, "any executive fleet vehicles that are larger than a midsize sedan or do not comply with alternative fueled vehicle requirements must be disclosed on agency websites," the order said. It is part of Obama's plan to make the 600,000-vehicle federal fleet smaller and more fuel efficient...more

Why just vehicles Mr. Obama? Let's make the entire gov't "smaller and more...efficient."

My, what a horrible punishment: disclosure of noncompliance must be posted on the agency's website! If that were to happen, can't you just see all those federal employees walking around with their heads down because of the shame.

Now, for a more fuel efficient federal workforce I would propose as a beginning that all IRS agents ride donkeys.

You take it from there...give me your ideas.

Salazar alleges ‘coercion’ from Vitter on drilling, asks Senate to nix pay-raise bill

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is urging Senate leaders to set aside legislation to increase his salary, arguing that Sen. David Vitter’s (R-La.) threat to block the bill unless Salazar speeds up oil drilling permits amounts to “attempted coercion.” Salazar’s request — spelled out in a Tuesday letter obtained by The Hill — comes as the Democratic leadership attacks Vitter’s action by suggesting it could amount to bribery. "This crosses the line. The bribery statute makes it a crime to offer anything of value to a public official to influence an official act,” a Democratic leadership aide told The Hill. Salazar’s letter and the Democratic aide’s statement come a day after Vitter vowed to block legislation to raise the Interior secretary's salary until the Interior Department issues six permits for new deepwater exploratory wells in the Gulf of Mexico every month...more

US looks to simplify oil royalties

The initiative is aimed at streamlining the process by using negotiated regional market prices to determine royalty payments. Under the current system, royalty payments are determined on a transaction-by-transaction basis, with transportation costs and contract particulars worked into the calculations. The Interior Department says the overhaul would make the process more transparent and would reduce administrative costs for energy companies. “Regulations that were initially developed in the 1980s have not kept pace with the significant changes that have occurred in the oil and natural gas markets,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement...more

Using the West’s Water to Extract the West’s Energy: How Much is Too Much?

Water and energy have been inexorably linked in human history at least back to ancient Babylonia, where windmills helped power irrigation as early as 1700 BC. Since then, that relationship has become one of the great axioms of the industrial age – that is, it takes great volumes of water to extract and convert energy resources, and often great energy resources to move and treat water. And in a world in which such resources are under increased pressure, the interconnection between the two – known as the water-energy nexus to some—may never have been more pronounced. That is particularly true in the arid West, where rapidly increasing populations are expected to more than double the need for more power by 2030, which will compete with agriculture and growing municipal use for freshwater supplies...more

Outbreak of horse herpes spooks owners across Western U.S.; plus headlines

The horse named Powered By Pep had just won his class at a competition in Bakersfield when his owner, David Booth, noticed that the animal was not quite himself. "A little slow-footed," the 22-year-old Acton rancher recalled Monday. Booth had Pep's temperature taken and soon discovered that his 7-year-old bay gelding had fallen victim to a dire outbreak of equine herpes virus-1, a highly contagious airborne virus that has killed or resulted in the euthanizing of at least seven horses this month and sown fear in equine circles across the Western states. The outbreak started, authorities agree, at an event in Ogden, Utah, between April 18 and May 3, and has spread to nine states, including California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. Horse events from Tulsa, Okla., to San Diego County have been canceled because of the scare. Colorado, which has reported 22 suspected cases and two euthanizings, is requiring health certifications for horses crossing its border. In California, the Department of Food and Agriculture reported one new case of EHV-1 on Monday. That brought the state's total to 18, including Pep in Acton and another horse in Ventura County. Seven of the horses displayed the more severe neurological signs, including one whose condition grew so grave that he had to be put down, authorities said. The 17 survivors are under a state-ordered quarantine and are being treated by private veterinarians, said Steve Lyle, public affairs director at the state Department of Food and Agriculture. Lyle said the department is not ordering or recommending that horse events in the state be cancelled, although "that could change at some point." ..more

EHV-1 updates from across the US

Oregon: Threat of equine virus cancels horse events

Ca: Rodeo rules will help minimize threat of EHV-1A

No EHV-1 cases in Texas as of Tuesday

Texas: Bar-None bars all due to animal health concerns

Canada: Virus puts kibosh on high school rodeo

NCHA Cutting Weekend Cancelled - All NCHA shows will be cancelled through June 5, 2011

EHV-1 Outbreak: Case Total Holding Steady

Nebraska: Five horse premises quarantined

Arizona: Virus fears cancel horse show

Kansas: Briar Fox Farm Spring Horse Trials Has Been Canceled Due To EHV-1 Outbreak

Republicans Defund Packer Rules

House Republicans introduced a bill that would cut off funding for new rules aimed at reducing the power of meat packers in the marketplace. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been working on a set of regulations that would give more power to farmers, ranchers and poultry growers in their relations with meat packers. The proposed House budget would remove all funding for the preparation of these rules...more

Pearce seeks federal drought assistance for NM ranchers

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce is asking the head of the Farm Service Agency for emergency drought assistance to help New Mexico livestock producers. The New Mexico Republican sent a letter this week to the agency's acting administrator, Val Dolcini. Pearce says New Mexico and many other western states are suffering from severe drought and fire has consumed millions of acres in the region. He says continuing drought and constant wildfires spread by strong winds are rapidly destroying grazing lands and ranchers have already started liquidating their herds. Pearce is asking that New Mexico be granted help under the Emergency Haying and Grazing of Conservation Reserve Program. It provides technical and financial help to eligible farmers and ranchers. AP

Drought and fire jeopardize ranching lifestyle in Texas

A miserable sea of dry brown West Texas grass and charred scrub could cripple ranching operations in the country's top beef-producing state. "Right now, it's literally day-to-day, and Mother Nature's holding all the cards," said Dennis Braden, general manager of the 130,000-acre Swenson Land and Cattle Co. In the state where cowboys riding the open range on horseback herding cattle spawned a whole western culture, modern-day ranchers are hurting. Severe drought and millions of acres of wildfires have delivered a potent one-two punch this year, forcing tough decisions on ranchland across Texas. The state's livestock industry has lost $1.2 billion under withering conditions, according to the Texas Agrilife Extension Service, part of Texas A&M University. It's a bitter pill for Braden and the more than 120-year-old ranch located 170 miles west of Fort Worth...more

Song Of The Day #582

Continuing with our week featuring the autoharp, here is John Hollandsworth performing Remington Ride.

Yesterday and today's tunes are available on the 3 CD box set Autoharp Legacy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pinon Canyon funding ban reinstated

Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., has convinced the chairman of a crucial House appropriations subcommittee to restore the annual funding ban that has blocked the Army from spending any money to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site for the past four years. Rep. John Culverson, R-Texas, is expected to restore the funding ban to the 2012 military construction budget when it is considered by the full House Appropriations Committee today. Culverson chairs the Military Construction Subcommittee and his backing of the Pinon Canyon moratorium almost certainly guarantees the ban will remain. For Tipton, the new GOP congressman in the 3rd Congressional District, the funding ban has been a critical issue because it has been the centerpiece of the opposition to the Army's controversial efforts to expand the 235,000-acre training site northeast of Trinidad...more

Good for Tipton. The story I linked to yesterday said:

"Congressman Tipton is going to offer an amendment — to restore the funding ban — when the military construction bill comes to the full House floor for consideration," Josh Green, Tipton's spokesman, said Thursday. "We've gotten permission from the House (Republican) leadership to offer that amendment." Whether that means that House Speaker John Boehner's leadership team will support Tipton's amendment is less certain. Other Colorado Republicans, especially Reps. Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman, have opposed the funding ban in the past and backed the Army's effort to expand Pinon Canyon.

If he gets it in the Committee version of the bill it does assure passage in the House. Those Republicans who feel we need a larger federal government and less private land would have to offer an amendment on the floor to remove the ban, which is highly unlikely.

Scientists debate ‘magic number’ of wolves needed for species' survival

One of the biggest arguments left unresolved by last year's wolf lawsuit was the most obvious: How many wolves are enough? The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took the gray wolf off the endangered species list in 2009, with the caveat that at least 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs endure in each of the three states in the northern Rocky Mountain population (Montana, Idaho and Wyoming). Recent surveys found at least 1,700 wolves in that area - more than enough to justify delisting. But a coalition of environmental groups sued the government, claiming those numbers were wrong. To survive and thrive, they argued, the population needed at least 2,000 and preferably 5,000 wolves. FWS biologists said they used the best available science to pick their number. Coalition members cited the well-established rules of conservation biology to justify their threshold. While the scientists dueled, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy decided the case on a technicality and Congress reversed him with a budget rider. Wolves in the Northern Rockies are now delisted, but almost nobody's happy...more

In a Beef Over Branding

Branding day has unfolded this way for generations on ranches all across the West. But ranchers from Colorado to Oregon, from Montana to Texas, worry that the tradition is under threat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced plans to rewrite its regulations so that hot-iron brands will no longer be recognized as an official form of identification for cattle sold or shipped across state lines. Instead, the USDA wants every cow to have a unique numerical ID, stamped on an inexpensive ear tag, to make it easier to track animals from ranch to feedlot to slaughterhouse. The proposed regulation won't bar ranchers from branding their livestock. Individual states will be free to recognize brands as official ID if they so choose. And some ranchers who have tried the numerical IDs say they are no hassle and can actually be an asset, as they allow more detailed record-keeping on each individual cow or steer. Nonetheless, ranchers across the West are up in arms. The new rules, which the USDA will publish in draft form within weeks and which are scheduled to take effect in about a year, threaten "the United States cattle industry's iconic, centuries-old, hot-iron brand," a national coalition of cattle ranchers, known as R-Calf, wrote in a letter to the USDA. Rep. Dennis Rehberg, a Montana Republican and fifth-generation rancher, filed a similar protest. Ranchers say they fear the withdrawal of federal support for branding might embolden animal-rights activists who call the practice barbaric. Some ranchers fear the new rules could even erode the legal standing of the brand as proof of ownership in cases of lost or stolen cattle...more

Cattle Mutilation returns to the San Luis Valley

Manuel Sanchez, a rancher outside of the town of San Luis, Colorado suffered the loss of four calves due to mysterious mutilations in 2009, and this month he has lost another. The string of mutilations in 2009 began with a fury in March with two animals on three different ranches in and around the San Luis Valley dying of mysterious causes. Authorities, including the local branding inspector, and ranchers could not determine how the animals were killed. In each case there were no signs of a struggle, nor a speck of blood nearby, indicators of a predator kill. The deaths didn’t end in March; by the end of 2009 eight animals were killed, four of those belonging to Sanchez. Upset with the authorities’ inability to explain what happened to his animals, and feeling helpless to stop the killings, Sanchez sold off his remaining calves in 2009. His animals have been safe up until this month, when on May 17 he found one of his missing adult female cows apparently mutilated similarly to the calves in 2009. Upon inspection, as with the earlier cases, there were no signs of a struggle, nor splattering of blood, so it didn’t look like a predator had killed it. They also noted that the animal’s tracks leading to the area looked normal, the animal’s pace was not abnormal and did not indicate that it was having problems walking. It appeared that the cow just fell over, with no indication as to why or how it died. There was also a missing area of hide under the animal, exposing the rib cage. Zukowski measured the missing hide to be 27 by 42 inches...more

Sale barn a mix of business and pleasure

Men in battered Western hats watch intently from the seats as bawling calves are herded into the sale ring below them at the Belle Fourche Livestock Exchange. This is serious business. The prices ranchers get for their cattle at the sale barn determine "whether they last another year or are able to pay the bank the note or whatever," says Dean Strong, who has owned the Belle Fourche Livestock Exchange since 1977. "It's not much fun when you're standing up there and the market is not enough to go around." Despite the serious nature of the sale ring, the Belle Fourche sale barn, like those in other cow towns, is also a social gathering place. Some people come here to eat lunch and chat and joke with their friends and neighbors. The history of gathering, selling and shipping cattle here goes back to 1890, when legendary Black Hills pioneer lawman, businessman and rancher Seth Bullock enticed the Elkhorn Railroad to extend its line from Whitewood to his ranch on the Belle Fourche River. The first cattle were shipped that year. During the next few years, the new town of Belle Fourche became the largest shipping point for cattle in the world, with ranchers trailing their herds in and grazing them on the big flat area north of the Belle Fourche River, a few miles west of where the Belle Fourche and Redwater rivers and Hay Creek meet, inspiring the French name for beautiful forks, Belle Fourche...more

Song Of The Day #581

Ranch Radio will be featuring autoharp music this week and with it being Sharon and mine's 38th wedding anniversary, here is Cathy Brittel playing one of Sharon's favorite waltzes: The Wesphalia Waltz.

This goes out to my darling Sharon - the lady who drove me sane.

Gunmen Kill 2 Teenage Girls in Ciudad Juarez

Gunmen killed two girls, ages 15 and 16, in Ciudad Juarez, a border city in northern Mexico, police said. The gunmen entered a house Saturday in the southern section of Ciudad Juarez, located across the border from El Paso, Texas, and killed the teenagers, municipal police spokesmen told Efe. One body was found on the second floor and the other on the first floor. The victims have not been identified and police have not determined the motive for the killings. The latest killings occurred hours after President Felipe Calderon visited the area and met with federal, Chihuahua state and municipal officials. Federal officials announced at the start of the weekend that the murder rate in Juarez had fallen sharply over the past six months from an average of 11 people a day in October 2010 to four per day in April...more

Nine killed in drug related attacks in Northern Mexico

Nine people were killed and three injured in two drug-related incidents of violence in Monterrey, the capital of the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, a state Security Council spokesman said. The first incident occurred around 2.30 am when gunmen riding a vehicle opened fire on the Cafe Iguana in downtown Monterrey, killing four people. The gunmen fired assault rifles at a group of men standing outside the popular cafe. Three of the men died in front of the cafe and another between some cars in the parking lot. Unidentified individuals removed three of the bodies from the crime scene without any interference from the municipal police officers who had responded to the shooting. Paramedics transported three people wounded in the attack to hospitals in Monterrey. In another incident, soldiers patrolling the highway to Reynosa, a border city located east of the metropolitan area, were attacked around 3.30 am when they ordered a vehicle to stop. The vehicle's occupants ignored the order to halt and opened fire on the soldiers, who gave chase. The SUV crashed and burst into flames, killing the five men aboard. Nuevo Leon and neighbouring Tamaulipas state have been rocked by a wave of violence unleashed by drug traffickers battling for control of smuggling routes into the US. More than 1,300 people, including about 80 police officers, have died in the violence in Nuevo Leon in the last 14 months. link

Turmoil in Hudspeth: Border violence, cartel violence ongoing problems for residents of 'twilight zone'

Jim Ed Miller grows Pima cotton and other crops on his family farm near Fort Hancock in what he calls "almost America." Almost America, according to Miller, is a forsaken area in southern Hudspeth and El Paso counties. It is bordered on the south by Mexico and on the north, east and west by a ring of U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints. The land has a rugged, prickly beauty. It is populated by cranes, Mexican burrowing owls, coyotes and myriad other desert creatures. But it is the two-legged mammals -- illegal border crossers and uniformed U.S. Border Patrol agents -- that give Miller heartburn. Undocumented immigrants and drug smugglers walk through Miller's land, which his parents worked before him. The towering border fence abruptly stops on the south end of his property about a mile east of the Fort Hancock International Port of Entry, guiding illegal crossers onto his furrowed plots. A concrete-lined irrigation ditch with a flat bottom provides a trackless route to the main highway, making it impossible for Border Patrol agents to detect passage. Miller calls it the "Calle de Oro," or golden road. He jokes about charging a toll. Miller, a Hudspeth County commissioner, and other county residents use humor to take the edge off a feeling that they live in a twilight zone where Border Patrol agents are afraid to create an international incident and illegal crossers act with near impunity. Sometimes the realities are grim...more

Border Battle Presents Challenges For Southern Arizona Ranchers

It's something southern Arizona ranchers deal with every day, but they said it took rancher Rob Krentz's death, killed by suspected illegal immigrants, to really make people pay attention. The border is constantly changing; from the type of people trying to cross illegally into the United States to the number of people trying to keep those illegal immigrants out. "Our family has been ranching here in southern Arizona, along the border since about 1938," said rancher Dan Bell. "It's not like it was in the days of old, where we had migrants looking for work. We've got this other element of smuggling involved," Bell said. That's just one of many changes lately, Bell said. He told CBS 5 News the sheer number of people crossing the border illegally has plummeted. But the type of people is becoming an even bigger problem. "We're still getting a lot of the smuggling through and evidence of the drug smuggling coming through," he explained. Bell has had two shootings nearby in just the past few months, both involved Border Patrol agents. The second shooting resulted in the death of agent Brian Terry. "That was just north of our ranch on our neighbors. And most likely the people that did that came through our ranch," Bell said...more

The Mexico-U.S. Borderlands: Corruption & Violence

...That said, there certainly has been cartel-related violence on the U.S. side of the border with organizations such as Los Zetas conducting assassinations in places like Houston and Dallas. The claim by some U.S. politicians that there is no spillover violence is patently false. However, the use of violence on the U.S. side has tended to be far more discreet on the part of the cartels (and the U.S. street gangs they are allied with) than in Mexico, where the cartels are frequently quite flagrant. The cartels kill people in the United States but they tend to avoid the gruesome theatrics associated with many drug-related murders in Mexico, where it has become commonplace to see victims beheaded, dismembered or hung from pedestrian walkways over major thoroughfares. Likewise, the large firefights frequently observed in Mexico involving dozens of armed men on each side using military weapons, grenades and rocket-propelled grenades have come within feet of the border (sometimes with stray rounds crossing over onto the U.S. side), but these types of events have remained on the south side of that invisible line. Mexican cartel gunmen have used dozens of trucks and other large vehicles to set up roadblocks in Matamoros, but they have not followed suit in Brownsville. Cities on the U.S. side of the border are seen as markets, logistics hubs and places of refuge for cartel figures, not battlefields...more

Mass Graves Reveal Dissension in Cartel, Say Police Sources

The mass graves in Durango, the Mexican city where investigators discovered 89 bodies, has produced clues that reveal a chink in the armor for one of the country's most notorious drug cartels. The ground zero for the massive graves discovered in the last few months in Mexico – where a total of 219 bodies were found – is a vacant car repair lot that hardly looks out of place in a vibrant but gritty part of the northern colonial city of Durango, famous as the set for John Wayne westerns. Only a closer look reveals the secrets hidden at "Servicios Multiples Carita Medina," clues to exactly what kind of "multiple services" were rendered. The freshly turned soil is sprinkled with lime to kill the smell and littered with discarded Latex gloves and an empty cardboard box: "Adult Cadaver Bag. 600 gauge, Long Zipper, For Cadavers of up to 75 inches. 15 pieces." In the most gruesome find in Mexico's four-year attack on organized crime, police dug up 89 bodies in the repair lot, buried over time in plain sight of homes, schools and stores...more

Barbarism & Societal Warfare South of the Border?

Our impression is that what is now taking place in Mexico has for some time gone way beyond secular and criminal (economic) activities as defined by traditional organized crime studies.3 In fact, the intensity of change may indeed be increasing. Not only have de facto political elements come to the fore—i.e., when a cartel takes over an entire city or town, they have no choice but to take over political functions formerly administered by the local government— but social (narcocultura) and religious/spiritual (narcocultos) characteristics are now making themselves more pronounced. What we are likely witnessing is Mexican society starting to not only unravel but to go to war with itself. The bonds and relationships that hold that society together are fraying, unraveling, and, in some instances, the polarity is reversing itself with trust being replaced by mistrust and suspicion. Traditional Mexican values and competing criminal value systems are engaged in a brutal contest over the 'hearts, minds, and souls' of its citizens in a street-by-street, block-by-block, and city-by-city war over the future social and political organization of Mexico. Environmental modification is taking place in some urban centers and rural outposts as deviant norms replace traditional ones and the younger generation fully accepts a criminal value system as their baseline of behavior because they have known no other. The continuing incidents of ever increasing barbarism—some would call this a manifestation of evil even if secularly motivated—and the growing popularity of a death cult are but two examples of this clash of values...more

How Drug Cartels Move Cash Across The U.S.-Mexico Border

The cartels make billions of dollars on the drug trade. But they have to work out complicated schemes to get those dollars they make from addicts in the United States back into Mexico and convert them into usable pesos. It's a lot of money. And money can overcome lots of challenges. A recent investigation by U.S. authorities found that between 2004 and 2007, one large U.S. bank allowed nearly $500 billion of drug money to be wired through its systems, no questions asked. Many of the wire transfers ended up in Culiac├ín, Sinaloa, the place to go to cash out American greenbacks for pesos in Mexico's organized crime capital. Experts describe it as a violent city along the Pacific Coast with a long history of drug trafficking. The biggest money laundering case has been that of North Carolina-based Wachovia Bank. Investigators found that the bank had allowed $378 billion to flow unhindered from “casas de cambio” right into its bank accounts in the United States. Michael McDonald is a retired IRS investigator. He laid the groundwork for much of the organized crime and bank investigations done today. Now he's an anti-money laundering specialist who works with banks. The way the money was laundered was fairly simple: The drug traffickers used the Mexican “casas de cambio” as their middlemen. The money was smuggled into Mexico and deposited into the houses. Then, when the traffickers needed to buy items in the United States, the money house would transfer the funds into their own accounts at Wachovia. Criminal proceedings were brought against Wachovia but nobody was ever arrested. Instead, Wachovia paid a fine – $160 million. Or, about 5 percent of the money laundered...more

Monday, May 23, 2011

Wilderness Areas on the border? What a great idea if you are a cartel drug smuggler

The main problem with designating land along and near the US-Mexico border as a Wilderness Area is it prioritizes land management to protecting the environment and virtually halts any meaningful border enforcement activities. In the New Mexico bill, at least Bingman and Udall recognize there needs to be some Border Patrol access…three miles…five miles….arbitrary as hell when you look at the actual landscape. In effect a Wilderness Area designation says it is more important to protect the habitat of the Chiricahua Lepord Frog than stopping illegal aliens and drug smuggglers from entering the United States. We already have the Pajarito Wilderness Area just west of Nogales which is a major corridor for illegal entry and drug smuggling. The Border Patrol can’t build a fence on that stretch of the border or build roads to get access...more

Interior Secretary Salazar’s pay hike spurs Senate fight

Thanks to a constitutional quirk, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar makes less than most of his colleagues in President Obama’s Cabinet, and a Republican senator says he’ll keep it that way, blocking a nearly $20,000 raise for the high-level appointee, until the administration approves more deep-water oil drilling. Mr. Salazar’s salary is set at $180,1000, which is $19,600 less than most other Cabinet secretaries. The Constitution prohibits legislators from taking positions in the executive branch for which they raised the salaries, and since Mr. Salazar voted on pay levels when he was in the Senate, he would have been barred from taking the Interior job unless the salary was reduced back to its earlier rate. His Senate term would have expired in January, though which means he’s once again eligible for the higher pay rate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, tried to get consent this week to pass the change through the Senate but was blocked by Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican who said he won’t relinquish until Mr. Salazar approves more oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico. “Every day, Interior’s policies are costing more Gulf energy workers their jobs. But the Interior secretary needs a raise? That’s ridiculous — it’s offensive,” Mr. Vitter said in a statement to The Washington Times...more

Pinon Canyon funding ban removed after 4 years

The House appropriations subcommittee in charge of military construction passed its 2012 budget bill this week and for the first time in four years, it no longer blocks the Army from spending money to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site northeast of Trinidad. The funding ban — authored by former Colorado Reps. John Salazar and Marilyn Musgrave in 2007 — has been an enormous roadblock to the Army in its long campaign to expand the 235,000-acre training range in Las Animas County. News that the funding ban had been removed from the annual military construction budget was alarming to the ranchers who have battled against giving the Army any additional land around Pinon Canyon since 2006. But when Salazar lost his re-election bid to Tipton last fall and Democrats lost the House majority, many lawmakers who had been friendly to the Pinon Canyon ranchers lost office or positions of authority in the House committee process. "We're deeply disappointed that this has happened," said Lon Robertson, a Kim area rancher and president of the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition. "Mr. Tipton told us he intended to keep the moratorium in place while he worked for a long-term solution. We'd told him that we'd support him if he'd support us, so we weren't expecting this. I hope he intends to restore the funding moratorium." Jim Harrell, a board member of the Not 1 More Acre! group, said the ranchers have depended on that funding ban to stop the Army for four years. "Without it, all we're left with is the Army telling us they aren't interested in expanding for another five years," Harrell said. "That's not good enough. We need that ban restored just like it was written four years ago and we want it back in the budget bill when the committee meets next Tuesday."...more

Dem's worked to protect private property which is now in jeopardy because of the Repub's. How do you like them apples?

Western cattle and sheep ranchers cheered by lifting of federal protections on wolves

Ranchers in Western states said they’re hopeful the removal of gray wolves from the federal endangered species list will make it easier to hunt the predators and stem losses of cattle and sheep. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this month formally lifted federal protections for more than 1,300 wolves in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Utah. That will allow hunting of the carnivores that ranchers say have taken a steady toll on their livestock over the past two decades. Tex Marchessault, a cattle rancher near Dillon, Mont., said he’s lost several young cattle over the years, and other livestock have been injured in attacks. Government trappers killed a six-wolf pack on his land a few years ago, but another pack soon took its place, he said. “Let the public know what kind of killers we’re faced with,” Marchessault said. “They’re killers and that’s the way it is.” Many ranchers distrust a government they say created the problem by reintroducing wolves to the region decades after they were wiped out. “We were just running along fine for the last 25 to 30 years of my life, and now you put a huge predator into the mix. It certainly makes it a challenge,” said John Helle, part of a four-family sheep and cattle operation near Dillon. Marchessault’s neighbor, Tom Tash, said wolves killed two calves and probably killed another in late March and early April. “And another cow split her pelvis fighting them off and had to be destroyed,” he added...more

Wolf Hunting--Popular Misconceptions and Response

With the recent attachment and passage of a rider to the Congressional budget bill by Senator John Tester (D-Montana) and Congressman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) delisting wolves from the Endangered Species Act, hunting is once again proposed for Idaho and Montana wolf populations. Wyoming wolves would remain under federal control for the time being due to the failure of Wyoming to come up with an acceptable wolf management plan. There are a number of misconceptions, and a lack of perspective that drives the wolf hysteria in these states. Below are a number of commonly heard popular comments about wolves and a response. Like any popular quip there is typically some kernel of truth that often is greatly exaggerated or is repeated without verification. These assertions are repeated so often they are adopted as “truths” without critical examination of the fundamental assumptions. POPULAR COMMENT: There are “too” many wolves and the Northern Rockies states can’t support the current population of 1650 wolves, much less more wolves as some people advocate. RESPONSE: What is too many is, of course, a matter of perspective. It’s important to distinguish between biological carrying capacity and social carrying capacity. The idea that there are “too many” wolves in the Northern Rockies is not based upon biological realities. There is sufficient prey to support 1650 and quite a few more wolves. Rather the desire to reduce wolf numbers in the region is more a reflection of intolerance by some members of the region—primarily hunters and ranchers. Politics is driving wolf delisting, not biology and that important distinction should be emphasized over and over again...more

From Desolate Ranch to Eco-town

Very few people have heard of Nipton, California. And rightfully so...The town was once a covered wagon and cattle rancher stop over a century ago. It slowly evolved into a railroad and mining town. Today, this small town has big plans to become America's sustainable wonderland. Back in 1984, Caltech-trained geologist Gerald Freeman stumbled onto this town with population of one sole resident who lived in the trading post selling drinks to the rare passerby. Seeing potential in this desolate town, he decided to invest $200,000 in the purchase of this unknown outpost. Since then, Freeman has put a small fortune into restoring Nipton, including the installation of solar panels totaling 80-kilowatts — enough to power the majority of the town — in the hopes to be a green hospitality center for people heading into the nearby Mojave National Preserve. The energy generated from the panels will power five Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired “eco-cabins” for the nature loving tourists...more

Feds consider use of mouse poison in CA sanctuary

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is studying a plan to kill off non-native house mice with poison on the Farallon Islands, a federal marine sanctuary off the coast of Northern California. The proposal to drop pellets of mouse poison on the pristine environment demonstrates the balancing act faced by wildlife managers as they seek to eradicate one species to benefit another. The proposal has drawn criticism from conservation groups that say it will harm many creatures throughout the food chain.
At risk is the Ashy Storm-petrel, a seabird with a global population estimated at no more than 10,000. The Farallons are one of its two major nesting sites. The mice draw the attention of hungry migratory burrowing owls, which also feed on Storm-petrel eggs...AP

Texas drought has farmers and ranchers on the ropes

The wind in West Texas is famously powerful and incessant. But this year, more big blows than anyone can remember have roared through, stripping away precious topsoil and carrying off another season of hope for farmers and ranchers. Everywhere, it seems, the land is on the move: sand building up in corners of the just-swept front porch and coating clean laundry on the line, dust up your nose and in crevices of farm machinery. Drive along unpaved county roads and the farmers' plight becomes clear: Wind rakes the surface, scouring sand into adjacent fields, sweeping into farmers' deeply tilled furrows. These clogged fields are said to be "blown out," and some of them belong to Matt Farmer. He grows cotton and peanuts here, or would like to, but this spring the sand, he says, keeps "ooching and ooching" into his fields. On a recent windy day, Farmer got out of his truck to inspect his cover crop of wheat. In a normal year, the wheat would be about knee high. This is not a normal year; the anemic stalks barely rise above the heel of Farmer's dusty boots...more

Read the LA Times story above and here is an interesting video also put together by the Times:

 

West Texas burns a ‘severe disaster'

Steve Nelle, a biologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in San Angelo, recently inspected an 8,000-acre ranch north of the city charred by the Wildcat Fire last month. The experience left him with the conclusion that West Texas burns can be described as a "severe disaster" for ranchers and hunters alike. "This ranch was nearly 100 percent burned and had a combination of shallow rocky hills and deep soils," he said. "This land is typical of the sites burned across West Texas. There has been very little or no rain since the fire. Less than 1 percent of grass has sprouted any new leaf. On the shallow soils, hardly any grass has green." While some say the fires that burned about 160,000 acres north of San Angelo will have some beneficial effects, Nelle disagrees. "I've heard some say that burns are a natural thing that happens from time to time and it's good, but this one is different. West Texas ranchland was in bad shape before the fires. Hardly any rain has fallen since September, causing turkey and quail to delay nesting. Now that cover is gone they can't resume the process," Nelle said. "Some landowners are facing a tough period, and the situation could continue for as many as three years. Wildcat and other fires across Texas have rendered much land not suitable for grazing," he added...more

Slain from famous shootout getting new epitaphs

Past Boothill Graveyard and around the bend where Arizona 80 becomes Fremont Street, a larger-than-life statue of a man rises from a low sandstone pedestal. Clad in a duster and broad-brimmed hat, a sawed-off shotgun over one shoulder, Wyatt Earp stands guard at the entrance to this dusty town that calls itself "too tough to die." Since the Oct. 26, 1881, "gunfight at the O.K. Corral," the famed frontier lawman has loomed large over this former boomtown. The silver deposits that gave birth to the city have long since been played out, but Tombstone has survived largely by mining the legend of the West's most infamous shootout. And in popular culture, the Earps have always been the good guys; the McLaurys and Clantons, the bad guys. But something peculiar has happened at the O.K. Corral: The white hats and the black hats have all gotten a bit grayer. Hanging on the stucco wall surrounding the little amphitheater where the fusillade is re-enacted daily is a tiny bronze plaque. Unpretentious and easy to miss, it is dedicated, not to the badge-wearing Earps or their tubercular friend, John Henry "Doc" Holliday, but to the memory of brothers Frank and Tom McLaury — two of the three men who died that day...more

Song Of The Day #580

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio. Let's see if Ben Winship can get your heart pumping with his version of the old fiddle tune Tom & Jerry.

EDITORIAL: The right to bear arms

Illinois has the worst gun laws of any state. Only police officers and the taxpayer-funded bodyguards for ex-Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley have the right to carry a handgun outside their homes. Everyone else is out of luck - unless a pair of federal lawsuits filed last week succeed in arguing that the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear Arms” means that people can actually bear arms in the land of Lincoln. Last year, the Supreme Court struck down Chicago’s ban on private handgun ownership, upholding the “keeping” of arms. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) are looking to build on that victory by overturning the country’s most sweeping anti-carry statute to ensure the “bearing” of arms is equally protected. The NRA-funded suit champions the cause of church treasurer Mary E. Shepard, 71, the victim of a brutal 2009 beating at the hands of a thug with a long criminal record. Under Illinois law, Mrs. Shepard would face felony charges were she to carry a handgun to prevent such an attack in the future...more

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cowgirl Sass and Savvy

 by Julie Carter

There is a pervasive phenomenon in team roping competitions that consistently evokes a love-hate emotion along with dialogue not always fit for polite company.

Roping producers, in many instances, are requiring that ropers enter with one partner of their choice and then require them to draw one or two additional partners from a mixed pot of entrants.

This insures more teams for the producers, more runs for the stock contractors, increased business for the concession stand and better all-around competition for the event. It also promises additional hours of roping that the wives, already suffering with a severe case of bleacher butt, are forced to endure.

The upside to the plan is that it's a great way to meet new ropers, gives established ropers a chance to try out new partners, and it offers hesitant not-so-good ropers a chance at a whiz-bang run. Lastly, but considering the sport, certainly not the least, it gives ropers what they do best -- something to talk about.

Recently the rare occasion happened. It was a weekend with no big competitions happening and true to the nature of the competitor, staying home just wasn’t a good option. That would mean catching up on chores and the “honey-do” list and anything is better than that.

So, against his earlier vows of “never again,” Jack ventured back to Mineral Wells, known locally as “Miserable Wells.”

He knew almost everybody who usually attended those ropings and knew all the cattle because that particular arena had the same cattle back in ‘08. He figured he'd find somebody for a pick partner and would just draw whoever else was hoping to get lucky. 

Jack arrived early, unloaded old Fleetfoot from the trailer and made his way to the arena to socialize a little. He quickly found a pick partner, entered up and started looking over the possibilities for a draw partner. 

With feelings of doom tickling his innards, he spotted one he was sure was destined to become his draw partner. His luck usually ran that way.

The vision before him was a somewhat corn-fed lady with a riding helmet, chin strap firmly in place, riding what appeared to be a Tennessee Walker. He figured what the heck, the entry fee wasn't too high and he had a free afternoon anyway.

Anticipating his second draw partner, he continued to browse the options. He spotted what was obviously a super puncher complete with a taco-shell creased hat adorned with a turkey feather, well-worn britches tucked into high-top, under-slung heeled boots, a wild rag tied in a tidy knot, chinks and a buckle that would effectively prevent him from being gut shot. 

Jack started thinking that this obviously top-hand cowboy might not be real thrilled to be partnered up with him.

As luck would have it, Jack was partnered with the super puncher in the draw. Jack is a good hand, a way yonder better-than-average heeler, but not conceited about his ability.

He was actually concerned about super puncher wanting to rope with him since his attire was Brogans, a not-too-wrinkled shirt and semi-clean Wranglers. However, the arena rules pretty well protected anybody from cutting a draw partner, so they backed in the boxes when their names were called.

The super puncher blasted out of the box pushing the barrier. His horse made a beeline to the steer. Super puncher stood up in his stirrups, swinging a Blocker loop as he leaned over to throw a winning catch. He leaned and then leaned some more. It didn’t take long until he leaned right off his horse and rolled in the arena sand. 

His horse, obviously knowing more than super puncher, continued in hot pursuit of the steer. Fleetfoot fell right in and let Jack have a good shot at the heels. Unfortunately it doesn't count if the header is not in his saddle when his horse faces and the run comes to an end.

The corn-fed lady on the Tennessee Walker, along with her draw partner, took home the big check that day. 

Luck of the draw indeed.

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

Constitutional Drift & The Bingaman Syndrome

Constitutional Drift
The Evolution of the Independent Senator
The Bingaman Syndrome
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

    Delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 found themselves at such an impasse it threatened to shatter the proceedings.  In fact, the impasse from the debate of how to structure representation amongst the states took up fully half of the four months of the proceedings. 
     The first plan proposed was to have two chambers of government consisting of representatives based on the populations of the states.  That plan was rejected by the small states.  They worried that their voices would be lost by the domination of the bigger states.
    The next idea put forth was for the establishment a single body.  In that approach, each state would have equal footing regardless of population.  The big states objected.
     Finally, another idea evolved and was presented.  In that approach, two houses of Congress would be established.  The House was to be established on representation based on population.  The second chamber, the Senate, would allow equal representation.  In this approach, the small states would have equal representation in one of the chambers while the other would recognize the population differences amongst the states.  The idea gained acceptance and it was adopted at a midpoint in the proceedings in July, 1787.
     The Genesis of the House and Senate
     A study of the Convention is very important.  The representation idea that was adopted did not come from conventional wisdom in the minds of delegates when they walked into Convention Hall.  It came from debate and study.  At some point, two delegates conceptualized the compromise.  It was the balance that both sides could accept.
     It quickly moved the debate to how the representatives would be seated.  The House of Representatives would be selected by their constituency within home districts.  Those individuals would be judged for their actions directly by their electorate.
     The House became the rightful conscience of the people with direct oversight from the home districts.  The Representatives were put on a tight rein and had to fess up to their actions every two years.  If they didn’t do their job a replacement was sought.  The House became a good conduit to usher in new leaders, new insight, and new energy.
     On the other hand, the concept of the Senate came from the little states that demanded equal defense of their rights.  As such, the seating of the senators came not from the populations of home districts, but by the state legislatures.  The people of the states had elected the legislatures to carry out the business of the state thus it was the responsibility of that collective body to make sure the senators were acting in the best interest of the state in federal matters.     
     The Senate, with two chosen representatives, was to bridge the more complex interactions between the states and within the federal union.  The senators were given more latitude and six year terms.  Debate and strategy were important in this chamber just as it had been in the Constitutional Convention.  It was the place that seasoned leadership and proven state loyalty were needed.     
     The lesson was profound.  The system was self regulating and provided embedded checks and balances.  The idea was brilliant.
     The Progressive Wave Arrives
     For 126 years, those foundational guidelines were honored.  The process was not always flawless, but the independence of the states and the rights of those states were generally maintained.  The representatives of the House of Representatives fought the good fight for the people and the Senators upheld the sanctity of states’ rights. 
     When the Wilson dominion of enlightenment arrived, three actions of major implication occurred.  The first was the overt act that started the process of redistribution of American wealth with the adoption of the income tax.  The second was adoption of the Seventeenth Amendment overhauling the methodology in which senators were elected.  The third was what we now know as the act of official “embarrassment and proclamation protocol” to the world for American actions.  It was Woodrow Wilson who so dreaded the likelihood he would have to defend himself to the world for the actions of Texas and its renegade pack of Rangers during World War I if German sympathizers were encountered and engaged on the Mexican border.  That seemed to alarm him much more than the need to defend the sovereignty of American lands.  He was the first of the grand defenders of world opinion in the face of American actions.
     The ill founded 17th Amendment
     The Seventeenth Amendment accelerated the erosion of state’s rights.  The insistence by the little states to tie the senators tightly to state allegiance was replaced by the very system they feared and rejected in 1787.
     No longer were Senators tied to state legislatures.  The whole approach to reelection was changed.  Think about it . . . the mechanism built into the system to assure that senators would defend their states no longer existed.  Influencing the decisions of state legislatures for reassignment was much different than influencing voter blocks to win elections.  A new age arrived.
    The Dona Ana Phenomenon 
     A case study of the loss of senatorial allegiance can be raised with Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM).  In the 2006-2010 Dona Ana County, New Mexico fight against his bill S.1689, the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks Wilderness Act, it became apparent that the senator was no more obligated to acknowledge local opposition to the legislature than he was to defend his fiduciary negligence to state of New Mexico.  His action to conditionally limit growth of Las Cruces in expansive NCA designations would have forced future valley development from New Mexico into Texas.  It is little wonder that El Paso praised his actions, but he welcomed that city’s support to his actions.     
     History will show that the bill was ultimately deflected in 2010 by the same phenomenon that created the November election revolt.  Americans got tired of the onslaught of the environmental agenda.  Harry Reid and Jeff Bingaman found the appetite for an endless cavalcade of environmental wishes to be waning in the closing days of 2010.  They ran out of time and clear support to get S.1689 through.
     The Bingaman Syndrome
     The actions of Jeff Bingaman are historically significant.  Would he have acted like he did in disregarding widespread opposition to his bill before 1912? There is growing speculation that he would not. 
    If we acknowledge that the debate leading up to the action of the Constitutional Convention was valid, we must recognize that the issue demanded by the little states was railroaded in the adoption of the 17th Amendment.
     If that is true, we must now revoke the idea we are a representative republic.  What has happened is that we have conceded the ability of the states to control the actions of their promised vested senatorial representation.  The states are operating without a toolbox of authority.  In the case of New Mexico, it is a state that has depended increasingly on the federal government for major revenue transfers.  It must support the actions of progressives for its existence.     
    What is more alarming is that we have allowed the development of special interests, and specifically the environmental movement, to become equal in stature to our governing bodies.  Senators today are not obligated to defend the economic wellbeing of their state.  Congressional representatives still exist in the framework of the founders, but their independence is being constantly challenged by a paradigm that has the ability to drift and schmooze across voting and funding blocks to assure reelection.
     In New Mexico and other states, the new power isn’t the original conscience of the people, the House of Representatives.  It isn’t the state legislature that was assured of its place at the federal table by the founders.  The new power is the exact thing, albeit a different name, that the little states feared and rejected. The new broker is the powerful environmental movement that has displaced the dominion of the states, intercepted the loyalties of the Senate, and continues to reengineer the system to fit its agenda.
     To the Future
     The revocation of the 17th Amendment is desperately needed.  If Senator Bingaman had to step to the podium in Santa Fe in the months leading up to his past reassignments to the senate would he have been supported by the state legislature?  He would have had to defend his unconditional support of the environmental agenda rather than his conditional support for the state of New Mexico.  He would also have to address such actions that would have resulted in fees and revenues being transferred to Texas rather than any vigorous fight to expand those revenues in New Mexico.  No, it is unlikely that he would have been patted on the back and sent back to Washington if New Mexico enjoyed the rights, privileges, and authority envisioned by the founders. 
     We have been taught a completely erroneous hierarchy.  The sovereignty of the American citizen is both the pinnacle and the two cornerstones of our system.  The next step inward, not upward or downward, is the state. The final step inward, now upward or downward, is the federal government. 
     If powers are distributed correctly, the federal government should be the mechanism of balance which was discovered at the Constitutional Convention in 1787.  It is only from that balance that the rights of the individual are assured . . . the environmental movement has no such rights.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  “New Mexico senatorial leadership did us a world of good in the debate of S.1689.  We know where we stand in their intended actions, in their loyalties, and their view of our existence.  We had only the sovereignty of the individual in our arsenal of defense.  As long as that was not taken from us, we had the chance to prevail.  The November midterms did the rest.” 

THE WESTERNER sez:

Our Founding Fathers believed in checks and balances - not only between the Executive, Legislative & Judicial branches of the federal government, but also between the feds and the states.  They instituted a system of dual sovereignty whereby certain enumerated powers were ceded to the feds and all other powers were retained by the states.  With the state legislatures electing the Senate, the Electoral College electing the President and the 9th and 10th amendments in the Bill of Rights they thought they had locked in the appropriate checks and balances on the feds...and they were wrong.  The history of our Country has been the continual acquisition of power by the feds at the expense of the states and the individual.

I concur with Wilmeth's opinion on the 17th amendment, but at least it was adopted according to the procedures of our Constitution.  With the rise of the "living Constitution" changes are being adopted by five or more politically connected lawyers (otherwise referred to as the Supreme Court) without the approval of the national legislature, the states or the people. Furthermore, we have a curious situation where one branch of the federal government referees disagreements between the feds and the states; i.e. the feds have claimed a monopoly on determining any limitations on their power.  You can see how that has worked out.

Some states are now resurrecting the concept of Nullification, which was introduced by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, and which challenges the fed's monopoly on interpreting the constitutionality of laws.  I wrote about this in the May issue of the New Mexico Stockman and I include that column in the next post.

Rebellion in the states

by Frank DuBois

    What is going on in our states? They seem to be standing up on their hind legs and protecting their sovereignty.
    Twenty-five states have passed resolutions or laws to nullify the REAL ID Act, and fifteen states have passed medical marijuana laws. Originally passed in Montana, fifteen states this year are considering the Firearms Freedom Act which states that any firearms made and retained in-state are beyond the authority of Congress to regulate under the commerce clause. This year nineteen states have either passed or are considering the Health Care Freedom Act, which in effect nullifies any federal health care bill in that state.
    So what is this nullification stuff and how does it affect us in the West?
    Many will recall the Sagebrush Rebellion. The tipping point for the Western States was the 1976 passage of FLPMA, which changed official government policy from disposal to retention. There were also many restrictions being placed on access and use of federal lands. The Carter administration and Congress had placed 37.8 million acres of land in parks, wilderness areas, wildlife refuges and other categories that banned or curtailed commercial development. Another 104 million acres were placed off-limits in Alaska. Private landowners were denied access to their property surrounded by federal lands. "This vast federal holding means we are not our own landlords," said Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm. "We cannot control our own destiny."
    Many new restrictions were placed on livestock grazing. Ranchers were told what type, the number and when and where livestock could graze. Onerous restrictions were also placed on range improvements. At the time, New Mexico rancher Charlie Lee was quoted in U.S. News & World Report as saying, “"When the feds take control to that extent, the ranch operator is no longer necessary - he's a federal government caretaker."
    The reaction to this took the form of both civil disobedience and legal challenges. Irate Alaskans burned an airplane belonging to the National Park Service. In one widely reported event, Gerald Chaffin was forced to burn his home of 10 years near Midwest, Wyo., after the Bureau of Land Management determined it was located on federal land. BLM officials said the house was illegally built 47 years ago. Even though Chaffin and his wife were the third owners, he was ordered to remove all traces of the house or face an 18-month prison sentence and a $6,000 fine. Being unable to pay for its removal, Chaffin doused the house with gasoline and set it on fire.
    On the legal front, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington, Wyoming, Utah and Arizona passed laws laying claim to millions of acres of federal land inside their borders and Alaska set up a special Statehood Commission. There were two legal theories underpinning these claims. First was the Equal Footings Doctrine which said the western states were not admitted to the union on an equal footing with the original colonies; i.e. they weren’t sovereign over all the lands within their boundaries. The other was a breach of trust claim. The feds were to hold these lands in trust until disposed of. When retention become the policy there had been a breach of the trust.
Historian Thomas E. Woods, Jr writes on this point, “if the federal government has the exclusive right to judge the extent of its own powers, warned James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in 1798, it will continue to grow – regardless of elections, the separation of powers and other much-touted limits on government power.”
But nullification, or state interposition, is different. The term was first introduced into political discourse by Thomas Jefferson in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798. Nullification starts with the self-evident point that a federal law that is unconstitutional is void and of no effect. There was nothing new about this. For example Alexander Hamilton had earlier written in Federalist #78, “there is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the constitution, can be valid.”     Jefferson and James Madison took this one step further. They asserted the feds didn’t have a monopoly on constitutional interpretation and that the parties to the federal compact, the states , could declare a law unconstitutional and refuse enforcement. Historian Thomas E. Woods, Jr writes on this point, “if the federal government has the exclusive right to judge the extent of its own powers, warned James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in 1798, it will continue to grow – regardless of elections, the separation of powers and other much-touted limits on government power.” In a controversy between a state and the feds, you have one agency of the federal government ruling on the power of another agency of the same government.
    Let’s say I’m a judge and thus authorized to rule on controversies between parties. If there was a controversy between you and another party, you both would appear before me and I would issue a ruling. Also, though, if there is a controversy between you and me I would rule on that too. Sound fair? That’s the position the states find themselves in today so no wonder they have turned to nullification as the “rightful remedy”.
    So how is this playing out on federal lands in the West?
    Utah has passed a law, H.B 143, which “authorizes the state to exercise eminent domain authority on property possessed by the federal government unless the property was acquired by the federal government with the consent of the Legislature and in accordance with the United States Constitution Article I, Section 8, Clause 17.” Also in Utah is H.B. 76 which creates a Constitutional Defense Council for the state and S.B. 221 to provide for a “State of Utah Resource Management Plan for Federal Lands” and H.J.R. 39 which urges “Congress to relinquish all right and title of the public lands in the State of Utah currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management and transfer title and jurisdiction to the State of Utah.”
    Similar eminent domain bills were introduced in Montana and New Mexico.
    The Endangered Species Act and especially wolves have drawn a lot of attention in the states. Montana is considering nullification of the ESA. In Idaho there is a bill “To provide for the rescission of any cooperative agreements with the United States regarding wolves, directing the discontinuance by state agencies of all wolf recovery efforts” and “directing the removal by the Idaho Fish and Game Department of all wolves reintroduced from their progeny…” In February, Montana Governor Schweitzer wrote to Secretary Salazar, “First, for Montana's northwest endangered wolves (north of Interstate 90), any livestock producers who kill or harass a wolf attacking their livestock will not be prosecuted by Montana game wardens. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) wardens will be directed to exercise their prosecutorial discretion by not investigating or citing anyone protecting their livestock. Further, I am directing FWP to respond to any livestock depredation by removing whole packs that kill livestock, wherever this may occur.”
    There are many more examples I could share. Suffice it to say that nullification and nullification-like legislation and administrative action is alive and well in the West.
    Many mainstream legal scholars dispute nullification, usually citing the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. Perhaps, though, they should read that clause more carefully. It states, “This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof…shall be the supreme law of the land.” Proponents of nullification say that any law made in pursuance thereof must be constitutional, and that the Supremacy Clause only applies to constitutional laws.
    The interesting thing about nullification is you don’t have to win in court to carry the day. Take the examples of the REAL ID Act and medical marijuana laws previously mentioned. So many states have refused to implement the REAL ID Act that the feds keep moving back the implementation date -- in practical terms nullifying the law. The same is true for the 15 states who have enacted a medical marijuana law, and who in spite of a recent Supreme Court decision, continue to operate their programs unimpeded by federal authorities.
    It remains to be seen whether the states and their citizens will keep pushing back against the feds. But if they do, maybe this column has given you a little background on this and previous attempts at restoring a balance.
    Until next time, keep that constitution in your saddle bags, be a nuisance to the devil and don’t forget to check your cinch.

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

Published in the May issue of the New Mexico Stockman