Saturday, February 15, 2014

Obama: US must rethink water as climate changes

Drawing a link between climate change and California's drought, President Barack Obama says the U.S. has to stop thinking of water as a "zero-sum" game and must do a better job of figuring out how to make sure everyone's water needs are satisfied. On a tour of central California on Friday, Obama warned that weather-related disasters will only get worse. "We can't think of this simply as a zero-sum game. It can't just be a matter of there's going to be less and less water so I'm going to grab more and more of a shrinking share of water," Obama said after touring part of a farm that is suffering under the state's worst drought in more than 100 years. "Instead what we have to do is all come together and figure out how we all are going to make sure that agricultural needs, urban needs, industrial needs, environmental and conservation concerns are all addressed," he said. Even if the U.S. takes immediate action to curb pollution, the planet will keep getting warmer for a long time to come because of greenhouse gases that already have built up, he said. "We're going to have to stop looking at these disasters as something to wait for," Obama said, announcing more than $160 million in federal financial aid. The sum includes $100 million in the farm bill he signed into law last week for programs that cover the loss of livestock. The package includes smaller aid amounts for the most extreme drought areas and to help food banks serving families affected by the water shortage. Obama also called on federal facilities in California to begin conserving water immediately. "These actions will help, but they're just the first step," he said. "We have to be clear. A changing climate means that weather-related disasters like droughts, wildfires, storms, floods, are potentially going to be costlier and they're going to be harsher." The budget Obama will send Congress next month includes $1 billion for a "climate resilience fund" to invest in research and pay for new technologies to help communities deal with climate change. The proposal is likely to face stiff opposition from lawmakers wary of new spending and divided on global warming...more

For some reason the POTUS didn't mention the Green Drought caused by the ESA and the delta smelt. 

UPDATE: Golf, Not Drought, Brings Obama to California

Girl Scouts Promote Environmental Justice, Climate Change, Green Energy in Its Leadership Program

The Girl Scouts’ National Leadership Journeys program requires girls to embrace environmental justice, climate change and green energy in order to earn awards. The Journey Awards – “aimed at giving them the benefits of the Girl Scout "Keys to Leadership": Discover, Connect, Take Action” – are described on the Girls Scouts website as being designed for girls from kindergarten through high school. The “It’s Your Planet – Love It” journey page is illustrated with a photograph of a “green roof” at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, Calif. “Girls are being exposed to ideas and discussions on the environment every day and everywhere,” the description of the various journeys with this theme states. “Girl Scouts journeys are packed with the latest research and girl-relevant environmental thinking and offer adults a way to interact with girls on topics of great importance in their lives. “In this journey series, girls at each grade level have an opportunity to learn about grade-appropriate environmental issues such as clean water and air, noise pollution, global warming, soil contamination, and agricultural processes,” the description states. The list of programs with the planet theme include ‘Between Earth and Sky” for kindergartners and first-graders, called Daisies. “On this Journey, Daisies learn about the natural world around them and how to keep the Earth healthy,” the description states. One suggested activity is to “put on a play about protecting the Earth.” The Brownies’ journey, “Wow! Wonders of Water” (for second and third graders) states that girls will “learn how to protect the waters of our planet.” Girl Scout Cadettes (grades seventh, eighth and ninth) go on a “Breathe” journey. “On this Journey, Cadettes learn all about the air they breathe and how to improve its quality,” the description states. “They may take a trip to a wind farm to see how sustainable energy is harvested, invite an environmental scientist to talk about air-quality control, or perform fun experiments about air. “Then they team up on an air-quality project they care about,” the description states. “They might create a no-idling zone in their school parking lot, plant an indoor garden at a community center, or develop an anti-smoking social media campaign.” The most senior scouting journey – ambassadors who are in their junior or senior year of high school – will learn about “environmental justice.”...more

Farm Workers in Undercover Video Charged with Animal Abuse

Four workers from a Wisconsin dairy farm who were seen on an undercover video allegedly abusing cows have been charged with a total of 11 counts of animal cruelty. Video shot by an undercover investigator for the animal rights group Mercy for Animals late last year showed employees at Wiese Brothers Farm in Greenleaf, Wis. kicking, beating and stabbing cows and dragging the animals with ropes. When NBC News showed the video to DiGiorno Pizzas, which purchased cheese made from Wiese Brothers’ milk, the nation’s largest frozen pizza company said it would no longer accept products made from the farm's milk. In December, the owners of the farms said they were “shocked and saddened” by what was shown on the tape, and had terminated two employees and removed another from contact with animals. This week, Brown County, Wis., prosecutors charged Abelardo Jaimes, Lucia Martinez and Misael Monge-Minero with three counts of mistreating animals and charged Crescencio Pineda with two counts of the same offense. Each count carries a maximum penalty of nine months in prison and a $10,000 fine. The defendants are scheduled to make their initial appearance in a Green Bay courtroom on March 4...more

Camel escapes, attacks man in Southern California

A camel escaped from an enclosure in a Southern California high desert community Friday, stomped a 72-year-old man who tried to capture it, and chased other people before it calmed down and was corralled. The camel escaped in the unincorporated community of Acton and was reported chasing cars shortly after 8:30 a.m., Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said. "My dad ... tried to catch it and it must have cornered him or something, and it took off after him, bit him on the head and knocked him down and stomped on him," Skylar Dossenbach told KCBS-TV. "He crawled under something and the camel tried to pull him out from under it." Her father was hospitalized and needed stitches for a gash to his head, she said. His name wasn't immediately released. "A neighbor came out and saw the commotion and got the camel away from him," Dossenbach told KABC-TV. "And the camel actually started chasing them, and they had to jump in a car, and the camel was running around after everybody."...more

Trust in God -- but tie your camel tight.
Persian Proverb  

Those Persions knew what they were talking about.

Friday, February 14, 2014


Just a few posts today.  Been fighting a mouse problem all night that I can't seem to fix.  Will get a new one today...shoulda kept a spare.

Landrieu’s gavel comes with risks

Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) new powers as chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee could end up being a double-edged sword for her already-difficult reelection chances. The Bayou Democrat took over the plum post on Wednesday evening, which could allow her to push legislation popular back home that boosts the oil industry, all while distancing herself from an unpopular President Obama. But it also raises the pressure on her to deliver for home-state constituents. If she falters, her pitch risks ringing hollow as voters questions her ability to deliver. Meanwhile, on the left, Landrieu risks tensions with green groups that had signaled a tentative cease-fire with the Democrat. Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, who spent $8 million on the Virginia race for governor last year, showed a willingness to target Landrieu for her support of Keystone XL pipeline, putting her in a tough spot on an issue she may be pressured to move on as chairwoman. Landrieu’s supporters see the chairmanship as concrete evidence of the benefits of her seniority. The chairmanship gives her more power to set the agenda on energy issues going forward, they say. “There is a difference between casting a vote and setting policy for the nation, especially for a state like Louisiana that’s at the forefront of national gas discovery and production,” a Landrieu aide said. Whether the chairmanship boosts or hinders Landrieu could determine which party holds the Senate. Landrieu’s seat is a must-win for Republicans if they hope to with back the majority, and a poll out this week showed her neck-and-neck with her likely GOP opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy (La.). Industry experts expect Landrieu to pursue an ambitious agenda as chairman of the committee, especially with a critical ally, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), as her ranking member. Oil industry leaders say their patience with Landrieu is running out and that her chairmanship ups the ante for her to deliver. “She still has substantial support within the oil and gas industry, but she’s been given 17 years. Some of her previous supporters are looking at this and saying, we think Cassidy could do a better job,” said Ragan Dickens, communications director of Louisiana Oil & Gas Association. “Now that she is in this driver’s seat the industry does want to see some action,” he added. While the Louisiana Oil and Gas itself is nonpartisan, its president, Don Briggs, hosted a fundraiser for Cassidy...more

Federal appeals court overturns restrictions on concealed guns in much of California

In a significant victory for gun owners, a divided federal appeals court Thursday struck down California rules that permit counties to restrict as they see fit the right to carry a concealed weapon in public. The 2-1 ruling by a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel would overturn restrictions on carrying concealed handguns, primarily affecting California's most populated regions, including Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and San Francisco. The majority said the restrictions violate the 2nd Amendment's guarantee of the right to bear arms because they deny law-abiding citizens the ability to carry weapons in public unless they show they need the protection for specific reasons. "We are not holding that the Second Amendment requires the states to permit concealed carry," Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain, a Reagan appointee, wrote for the panel. "But the Second Amendment does require that the states permit some form of carry for self-defense outside the home." The decision was hailed by gun rights advocates, who said citizens must have the right to protect themselves in public. Proponents of stricter gun control described the ruling as an aberrant and reckless expansion of law that would lead to more gun violence...more

Area residents face difficulties accessing recreational land

Amarillo, TX - There are 12,000 acres of land available for public recreational use just north of Amarillo, but it is not easy to get to. The Cross Bar Ranch is used by area residents for hiking, hunting, horseback riding and camping. However, accessing the land is a challenge. Right now the ranch is landlocked by private owners and the only way in is through a muddy riverbed. "People can get to the Cross Bar Ranch by walking to it," said Bureau of Land Management representative Samuel Burton. "Of course we would prefer to have more easier access for the public to this land. And that's currently what's being discussed in current public meetings." The only way to gain easier access is if the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) can negotiate an access agreement or a land purchase with a private owner. Burton said private owners have had some issues with the public illegally crossing their land to get to the ranch and vandalizing their property. The BLM is asking for public support so it can further its efforts to provide easier access...more

Don't have any other facts on this situation, but "further its efforts" to acquire access may mean eminent domain.  The only authority BLM has to exercise eminent domain is "if necessary to secure access to public lands, and then only if the lands so acquired are confined to as narrow a corridor as is necessary to serve such purpose." (Sec. 205 of FLPMA)

They could, of course, acquire access by land exchange or by purchasing an easement.

WSJ - New Mexico County's Bond Buys Set Off Alarm, Probes

New Mexico's most populous county is facing a budget crunch amid allegations that its treasurer's office mismanaged more than $250 million in its investment portfolio, a situation that has triggered state investigations and a recall drive. Bernalillo County, which includes about a third of the state's two million residents, has responded by implementing cost-cutting measures and is exploring selling a jail and other real estate in Albuquerque to raise funds. Treasurer Manny Ortiz also sold some bonds early, at a loss of about $750,000, to address cash-flow concerns. Through his lawyer, Mr. Ortiz has denied wrongdoing. The New Mexico Auditor's Office, one of several state agencies investigating the Bernalillo County Treasurer's Office, is asking independent auditors to examine the county's investment transactions since 2010. In a letter to county officials last month, State Auditor Hector Balderas said the audit would examine whether payments received by the county's investment brokers met "best practices," whether the county frequently used the same brokers to buy and sell securities, and how it calculated the county's cash-flow needs. County officials, who have welcomed the state review of the treasurer's actions, said there were no extraordinary expenses that created the cash-flow concerns. They said they became alarmed as the cash on hand in their investment portfolio gradually declined, falling below $10 million in 2013, compared with a historical average in excess of $30 million. The treasurer's office had put the majority of the county's money in long-term bonds that don't mature for years, prompting fears the county wouldn't have enough cash to cover expenses and that it is overly exposed to rising interest rates, which cause bonds to decline in value. Officials estimate the county's remaining bond portfolio lost $17 million in market value as of Feb. 1...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1208

Roots Week on Ranch Radio brings you the duet Burnett & Rutherford.  Here's the first tune they recorded during their 1926 Atlanta session for Columbia:  Lost John.  You'll note this is a year before Ralph Peer held the Bristol Sessions for Victor, and Columbia was already recording rural artists in the South.  Here's some info on them:

Burnett was born near Monticello, Kentucky. He was known to play the banjo and guitar and was blind in one eye. Burnett allegedly wrote the traditional American folk song, Man of Constant Sorrow, which was later to be covered by Bob Dylan and featured in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou as another version. He recorded with fiddler Leon Rutherford for Columbia Records. Burnett was born near the end of the nineteenth century on October 8, 1883, in the area around the head of Elk Springs, about seven miles north of Monticello. He remembered little of his farming parents. His father died when he was only four and his mother died when he was twelve. Burnett did say that his mother told him how his father would carry him in his arms when he was only four years old and he would help his dad sing. It is notable that Burnett's grandparents were of German and English descent and that particular ancestral influence would be instrumental in forming Burnett's musical career. At seven-years-old, Burnett was playing the dulcimer; at nine he was playing the banjo, and at thirteen he had learned to play the fiddle. Richard Burnett's life took a drastic turn in early adulthood when he was attacked by a robber, shot in the face, and lost his eyesight. He was working in the oil field of central Kentucky, married with a young child, and now faced an uncertain future. Almost prophetically, his boss made the following statement to Burnett: "Well, you can still make it; you can make it with your music."  In time, Burnett joined forces with a young fourteen-year-old orphaned boy from Somerset. That young boy, Leonard Rutherford, would become Burnett's student and became one of the "smoothest" fiddle players known to come from Kentucky. Richard Burnett, "blind minstrel of Monticello" and Leonard Rutherford, "one of the smoothest fiddlers ever to take a bow," soon were singing at every opportunity. They appeared on courthouse lawns and on the street playing and singing their music. In order to earn some money, Richard would strap a tin cup to his knee to collect the contributions from a satisfied crowd. They traveled by bus, Model A, and on foot to any place they could and sing. From about 1914 until 1950, the pair became so popular that they found themselves in the company of most all the popular mountain musicians of the time. They were "at home" in the presence of greats like the Carter Family, Charlie Oaks, Arthur Smith, and many others. They appeared at the Renfro Valley Barn Dance, on radio stations in Cincinnati, and finally, they would be some of the first old-time musicians to enter the recording studios. Burnett and Rutherford made their first commercial recording in 1926 for Columbia Records in Atlanta, Georgia. "They gave us sixty dollars a record and paid all our expenses from here to Atlanta and back, hotel bills and everything," Burnett reminisced...I'll just add here that there musical career lasted to the 50s.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

House committee endorses bill targeting environmental group lawsuits

A bill passed out of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that Rep. Cynthia Lummis hopes will shed light on reimbursements of public funds environmental groups receive when they sue the federal government. Lummis, R-Wyo., sponsored H.R. 2919, the Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act, with Reps. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.; Joe Garcia, D-Fla., and Doug Collins, R-Ga. After Wednesday’s passage in committee, the bill heads to the House floor. The bill was introduced Aug. 1. The bill would require more transparency for those who use the Equal Access to Justice Act. EAJA was passed by Congress in 1980. Lummis said EAJA was created to reimburse legal fees of the “little guy,” such as a veteran, retiree, small business owner or nonprofit with legal bills when facing the giant federal government in court. “EAJA was later co-opted by large environmental groups so their litigation shops could get reimbursed for filing expansive litigation on environmental issues,” Lummis said in an interview with the Star-Tribune on Thursday, adding that many of the environmental groups have deep pockets. The bill would require the nonpartisan Administrative Conference of the United States to report to Congress each year how much has been paid from EAJA, by which federal agencies, and the recipients of those dollars. The Administrative Conference, an independent agency tasked with finding solutions to improve federal agencies’ administrative processes, would also create an online database with the information. Lummis previously identified Santa Fe, N.M.-based WildEarth Guardians as a group that abused EAJA. Jeremy Nichols , the organization’s climate and energy program director, said in an email transparency is a great idea. He doesn’t believe environmental groups are abusing the law. Environmentalists sue to make sure the nation’s laws are enforced, he said...more

You can read here about the event in NM I was involved in that led to the introduction of legislation that eventually became the EAJA. 

Utah stream access supporters rally for compromise bill

Recreationalists who enjoy Utah’s waters gathered on the steps of the Utah State Capitol Tuesday calling for compromise in a long-fought battle over stream access rights. Rep. Dixon Pitcher, R-Ogden, sponsor of HB37, "The Public Waters Access Act," told crowd members their presence made a difference. He implored them to climb the steps, enter the building and explain their support for the bill personally to their representative. HB37 is based on a standard for public access to streams and rivers that Idaho has been successfully using for nearly four decades. The threshold is whether a stream is large enough to float a log six feet in length and six inches in diameter. Smaller streams remain off limits for public access. The stream access debate has been going on for decades. But it picked up steam when the Utah Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the public owns the water in rivers and streams, and had a right to use the waters on stream beds where public access was possible. A bill passed in 2010 undermined the court decision and, according to the Utah Stream Access Coalition (USAC), prevented the public from utilizing 2,700 miles of rivers and streams...more

The martyrdom of Mark Steyn - Global warming lawsuit


    When I first read, many months ago, that the notorious US climate scientist Michael Mann was suing the notorious right-wing bastard Mark Steyn for defamation, I admit that I felt a little piqued.
    Obviously a libel trial is not something any sane person would wish to court; and naturally I’m a massive fan of Steyn’s. Nevertheless, after all the work I’ve dedicated over the years to goading Mann, I found it a bit bloody annoying that Steyn — a relative latecomer to the climate change debate — should have been the one who ended up stealing all my courtroom glory.
    What made me doubly jealous was that this was a case Steyn was guaranteed to win. In the unlikely event it came to court — which I didn’t think it would, given Mann’s longstanding aversion to any form of public disclosure regarding his academic research — the case would fall down on the fact that defamation is so hard to prove in the US, especially when it involves publicly funded semi-celebrities who are expected to take this sort of thing on the chin.
    Since then, though, much has changed. It now looks — go to for the full story — as if Steyn is going to be up there on his own, fighting and financing his case without the support of his magazine, National Review; that the outcome is not as certain as it seemed at the beginning; and that this hero deserves all the help we can give him.
    Why? Well, the fact that I even have to explain this shows what a cowardly, snivelling, career-safe, intellectually feeble, morally compromised age we inhabit. By rights, Mann Steyn should be the 21st-century equivalent of the Scopes monkey trial, with believers in free speech, proponents of the scientific method and sympathetic millionaires and billionaires all piling in to Steyn’s defence with op eds, learned papers, and lavish funds to buy the hottest of hotshot lawyers.
    Instead, what do I read? Crap like, ‘Steyn’s out of order: he shouldn’t have been so rude about the judge who mishandled the initial hearing.’ (OK, maybe he shouldn’t — but what are you supposed to say about judges who mishandle your case? ‘Nice job, ma’am’?) Crap like, ‘And he’s going to take the National Review down with him.’ (No he isn’t. That’s what libel insurance is for.) Crap like, ‘Well, he shouldn’t have used such-and-such a word or written that polemic in quite so inflammatory and offensive a way.’ (Yes that’s right. Polemics should be cautious, dry, legalistic, tame. Otherwise people might read them and have their minds changed.)
    So let’s just cut through that crap and remind ourselves briefly what we know about the plaintiff. Michael Mann was an obscure young physicist-turned-climatologist who rose without trace in 1998 with the publication in Nature of his ‘hockey stick’ chart showing dramatic and apparently unprecedented late-20th-century global warming.
    There followed almost instant fame, on which Mann has traded ever since — gaining tenure at Penn State University, drawing millions in public funding for research, often called on by the Guardian and the New York Times to sum up the state of climate science. Al Gore used a version of Mann’s hockey stick in his Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth. The IPCC used it five times in its Third Assessment Report and promoted Mann to lead author.
    But the hockey stick, on which Mann’s reputation largely rests, was and is a nonsense. It obliterates the medieval warm period; it is unduly reliant on proxy data — bristlecone pine samples — which are known to be unreliable; it is dependent on a flawed algorithm which, according to every statistical authority who has ever looked at the subject, creates the same hockey-stick data almost regardless of the information you feed into it.
     Surely if you’re going to sue someone for defamation, this must involve an examination of the reputation said to be worth defending. What would this say about Mann, onlie begetter of arguably the most comprehensively discredited artefact in recent climate science history?     And if Mann’s scientific reputation really matters to him so much, maybe he ought first to do a bit of reading on how world-class scientists actually behave. He could do worse than read Paul Johnson’s account in Modern Times of how Einstein proposed his general theory of relativity. Einstein insisted that before his claims were taken seriously, they must first be verified by empirical observation, in the form of three specific tests. Of the final one — the red shift — Einstein wrote: ‘If it were proved that this effect does not exist in nature then the whole theory would have to be abandoned.’
    Einstein’s rigour and integrity inspired Karl Popper to form his influential theories on falsification: that a scientific theory is only useful if it contains the key to its own destruction. This, critics argue, is the fundamental flaw with anthropogenic global warming theory: it has been couched in such a way as to be unfalsifiable; it is being kept alive not by science and free enquiry, but by the kind of appeals to authority we see exemplified by Mann’s response to Steyn’s criticisms.
    Mann may or may not have a case against Steyn on technical grounds; but in terms of the bigger argument about empiricism, free speech and the scientific method, he doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Steyn gets this and — as he did in his case against the Ontario Human Rights Committee — is laying his neck on the line not solely because he’s a show-off and an awkward sod but for the greater cause of western civilisation. Now go to his website and read what you can do to support him.

Column originally appeared in The Spectator

U.S. Interior Dept. Releases First National Interactive Map Of Onshore Wind Turbines

The U.S. Department of the Interior's (DOI) U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has released the first publicly available interactive map and geo-dataset showing more than 47,000 onshore wind turbine locations and related information across the entire U.S. According to the DOI, the new tool is consistent with the goals of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's Order No. 3330, which was released in October 2013 to incorporate a landscape-level approach to development on public lands. “In making this critical information available to the public, the USGS has provided public agencies and private companies with a new tool to help guide smart landscape-level planning decisions that support domestic energy production while minimizing conflicts,” says Jewell. “The data will help improve the siting of future wind energy projects, as well as aid land managers in devising more up-to-date land-use and multiple-use plans.” The wind turbine map, which includes turbines installed as of July 2013, was created by combining publicly available datasets from the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as well as other federal, state and local sources. USGS researchers also identified additional turbines not in those pre-existing databases and added them to the dataset and map. The interactive map is available here.

Lawmakers want to see the ‘black budget’

Dozens of House lawmakers want the Obama administration to release the secret “black budget” used to fund intelligence agencies. A bipartisan group of 62 members of Congress wrote President Obama a letter on Wednesday asking him to release the fiscal 2015 spending levels for 16 federal spy agencies when he delivers the rest of his budget to Congress on March 4. “The current practice of providing no specificity whatsoever regarding the overall budget requests for each intelligence agency falls woefully short of basic accountability requirements,” the legislators wrote. “As you develop your fiscal year 2015 budget, we strongly urge you to take a simple step toward much needed transparency by including the total amount requested for each of the sixteen intelligence agencies. We believe the top line number for each agency should be made public, with no risk to national security, for comparative purposes across all federal government agencies.” Wednesday’s request was led by Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), who last month introduced the Intelligence Budget Transparency Act. The bill would require the administration to release basic details about the spy agencies’ budgets...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1207

Ranch Radio's Roots Week continues with Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers and their 1925 recording of Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues.  Poole is on vocals and banjo, Poole's brother-in-law Posey Rorer is on fiddle and Norman Woodlief is on guitar.  You'll recognize the tune as its become a country and bluegrass standard.  This selection is from his first recording session on July 27, 1925 where four songs were recorded.  This was two years prior to the Bristol Sessions so they had to travel to New York City to record.  There is plenty of info on Poole and his influence on Country Music, but I like these liner notes from the Poole compilation You Ain't Talking To Me:

A millworker and moonshiner, Charlie Poole spent most of his adult years wandering the South, raising hell. He and the band he called the North Carolina Ramblers would leave home for weeks at a time, playing for barn dances and on street corners. Through that piecemeal work, his spry sound spread, influencing countless musicians. It later became a core component of bluegrass. Poole (1892--1931) played the banjo with three fingers. He'd damaged his right hand in a drunken wager (he claimed he could catch a baseball without a glove no matter how hard it was thrown, and lost), and taught himself to play in what was called a "clawhammer" style. His time was flawless: On this anthology of his 78-RPM recordings, Poole taps out a tempo so strong it carries his accomplices (usually a guitarist and a fiddler) right along with it. Poole's nimble group favored brisk tempos that kept people dancing. The band's repertoire included Civil War ballads, woebegone drifter laments ("May I Sleep in Your Barn Tonight Mister" is one of the highlights on this three-disc set), early blues, mountain dances, and vaudeville numbers. Poole's drinking binges and renegade exploits made him a legend in the Piedmont hills of Virginia and North Carolina, where he sold most of his records. He continued to record until 1930, and when Columbia records canceled his contract, Poole went back to millwork, suffering from depression. He died at age thirty-nine, after a thirteen-week bender. His records survived, however: Several famous bluegrass banjo stars, including Don Reno, learned their craft listening to Poole. But it wasn't until Harry Smith's 1952 Anthology of American Folk Music that those outside the Piedmont region appreciated the fiery sounds of country music's first renegade.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Obama: "I Can Do Whatever I Want"

President Obama put it bluntly: “I can do whatever I want.” Yesterday, while visiting with French President François Hollande at Monticello, Obama made the off-hand comment. The remark comes in the wake of other recent statements, including the President’s comment that all he needs is “a pen and a phone” to get things done without Congress. After the original “pen and phone” comment, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters, “He will not limit himself and certainly doesn’t think the American people would want him to limit himself just to what he could do legislatively through Congress.” Obama’s comments — and subsequent actions — have faced criticism. Some say Obama is not respecting the separation of powers in the government. “President Obama has shown no qualms about taking unilateral actions that bypass Congress and ignore important separation of powers principles that are an essential safeguard of our liberty,” said Heritage’s John Malcolm, director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies...more

Are you paying attention now? Scary, very scary.

NSA spying undermines separation of powers

by Glenn Harlan Reynolds

Most of the worry about the National Security Agency's bulk interception of telephone calls, e-mail and the like has centered around threats to privacy. And, in fact, the evidence suggests that if you've got a particularly steamy phone- or Skype-sex session going on, it just might wind up being shared by voyeuristic NSA analysts.
But most Americans figure, probably rightly, that the NSA isn't likely to be interested in their stuff. (Anyone who hacks my e-mail is automatically punished, by having to read it.) There is, however, a class of people who can't take that disinterest for granted: members of Congress and the judiciary. What they have to say is likely to be pretty interesting to anyone with a political ax to grind. And the ability of the executive branch to snoop on the phone calls of people in the other branches isn't just a threat to privacy, but a threat to the separation of powers and the Constitution.
As the Framers conceived it, our system of government is divided into three branches -- the executive, legislative and judicial -- each of which is designed to serve as a check on the others. If the president gets out of control, Congress can defund his efforts, or impeach him, and the judiciary can declare his acts unconstitutional. If Congress passes unconstitutional laws, the president can veto them, or refuse to enforce them, and the judiciary, again, can declare them invalid. If the judiciary gets carried away, the president can appoint new judges, and Congress can change the laws, or even impeach.
But if the federal government has broad domestic-spying powers, and if those are controlled by the executive branch without significant oversight, then the president has the power to snoop on political enemies, getting an advantage in countering their plans, and gathering material that can be used to blackmail or destroy them. With such power in the executive, the traditional role of the other branches as checks would be seriously undermined, and our system of government would veer toward what James Madison in The Federalist No. 47 called "the very definition of tyranny," that is, "the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands."
That such widespread spying power exists, of course, doesn't prove that it has actually been abused. But the temptation to make use of such a power for self-serving political ends is likely to be very great. And, given the secrecy surrounding such programs, outsiders might never know.

Feds propose listing slickspot peppergrass again, putting ball in Otter's court

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has, once again, proposed listing the flowering slickspot peppergrass as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The plant is found only in the sagebrush steppe and only in southwest Idaho. This proposal is the latest in a legal battle between Western Watersheds Project on one side, which wants the plant listed, and the state of Idaho and Gov. Butch Otter, who don’t want it listed. Western Watersheds sued U.S. Fish and Wildlife for not listing slickspot peppergrass in 2003 and won in 2004. The government had to go back to the drawing board, decided in 2009 to list the plant and Otter sued. Chief U.S. Magistrate Candy Dale ruled in August 2011 that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s process for listing the plant under the Endangered Species Act was flawed. Dale refused to reconsider her ruling the following year. So once again, Fish and Wildlife started over...more

Some Crocodile Species can Climb Trees: Research

The University of Tennessee researchers have come up with new findings saying that some species of crocodile can climb trees. Vladimir Dinets, a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, and his colleagues observed crocodile species on three continents and explored earlier research. The observation made by them was really astonishing. They found that four species of crocodiles climbed trees. The four tree-climbing species are Australian freshwater crocodiles, American crocodiles, Central African slender-snouted crocodiles and Nile crocodiles. The authors wrote online Jan. 25 in the journal Herpetology Notes, "The most frequent observations of tree-basking were in areas where there were few places to bask on the ground, implying that the individuals needed alternatives for regulating their body temperature". The height up to which these species could climb depended on their size. As per the researchers, smaller crocodiles were able to climb more higher than the bigger ones. Some were able to climb four to five meters high...more

And that, my friends, is the best damn reason to clear cut trees I've come across yet.

Man Killed By Cockfighting Rooster

Jose Ochoa died after a rooster stabbed him in the leg during an illegal cockfight near Tulare County, Calif. The rooster had a razor-like knife attached to its leg, which the birds use to fight each other to the death, notes LA Weekly. Ochoa may have lost too much blood by fleeing the police and waiting to be taken to the Delano Regional Medical Center. “I have never seen this type of incident,” Sgt. Martin King told the Bakersfield Californian. “People have been known to bleed out from those injuries if medical attention is not obtained immediately.” Ochoa has been charged previously for training roosters for cockfights, but he and other participants fled when police arrived. Police have found several dead roosters but have not arrested anyone yet...more

That's not the way I look at it.  I say he was killed by the animal rightists and the lackey politicians who do their bidding.  If cockfighting wasn't against the law he would have immediately sought medical attention and Mr. Ochoa would still be with us.

NASA is now accepting applications from companies that want to mine the moon

NASA is now working with private companies to take the first steps in exploring the moon for valuable resources like helium 3 and rare earth metals. Initial proposals are due tomorrow for the Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown program (CATALYST). One or more private companies will win a contract to build prospecting robots, the first step toward mining the moon. The contract will be a "no funds exchanged" Space Agreement Act, which means the government will not be directly funding the effort, but will receive NASA support. Final proposals are due on March 17th, 2014. NASA has not said when it will announce the winner. NASA works with private companies that service the International Space Station, and those partnerships have gone well. Faced with a skeleton budget, the agency is looking for innovative ways to cooperate with the private sector in order to continue research and exploration, as it did recently with a crowdsourcing campaign to improve its asteroid-finding algorithms. That campaign was launched with another private company, Planetary Resources, the billionaire-backed asteroid mining company...more

Now we'll have moon miners instead of moonshiners.  This also explains why the enviros wanted to designate a National Park on the moon.

Chicago School Officials Suspend 11-Year-Old Boy Under ‘Dangerous Weapons’ Policy for Voluntarily Turning in Non-Firing Toy Gun

Criticizing Chicago school officials for being overzealous, misguided and incapable of distinguishing between an impotent toy and a dangerous weapon, The Rutherford Institute has come to the defense of an 11-year-old boy who was suspended from school after he voluntarily turned in a non-firing plastic toy gun that had been forgotten in his jacket pocket. Caden Cook, a sixth grader at Fredrick Funston Elementary School, was suspended for allegedly violating the school’s weapons policy against dangerous objects, in addition to being ordered to undergo counseling, and subjected to intimidation tactics, interrogation, and dire threats by school officials—all without his mother being present. Rutherford Institute attorneys have asked that the suspension be rescinded and all references to the incident be removed from Caden’s permanent school record. “This case speaks volumes about what’s wrong with our public schools and public officials: rather than school officials showing they are capable of exercising good judgment, distinguishing between what is and is not a true threat, and preserving safety while steering clear of a lockdown mindset better suited to a prison environment, they instead opted to exhibit poor judgment, embrace heavy handed tactics, and treat a toy gun like a dangerous weapon,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute...more

Washington Redskins write scathing response to lawmakers who want team name changed

The Washington Redskins issued a scathing response to two lawmakers Monday after they called for the team to change its controversial name. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., told NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a letter that the league is on the “wrong side of history” in allowing the Redskins to keep their name, which some see as a slur. “It is, in fact, an insult to Native Americans,” Cantwell and Cole wrote. But the team fired back in a statement, saying that Cantwell – who chairs the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs – has better things to do with her time. “Senator Cantwell should be aware that there are many challenges facing Native Americans, including an extremely cold winter with high energy bills, high unemployment, life threatening health problems, inadequate education and many other issues more pressing than the name of a football team which has received strong support from Native Americans,” the statement said. “Surely, with all the issues Congress is supposed to work on such as the economy, jobs, war and health care, the Senator must have more important things to do,” the statement said. The Redskins franchise, which was founded in 1932 and has been based in Washington since 1937, has been under increasing pressure to change its name. Some newspapers have refused to use the team's name in stories and NBC commentator Bob Costas referred to the name as "an insult, a slur" during the network's broadcast of a Redskins game this past October. Redskins owner Dan Snyder has insisted that he would never change the name while he owned the team...more

I always liked Bob Costas as a sportscaster, until recently when he's started offering his lefty opinions on gun control and the names of football teams.  Turns out he's just a white Bryant Gumbel - haughty and liberal.  Howard Cosell was humble compared to these guys.  What I'd give to hear Dandy Don Meredith sing "turn out the lights, the party's over" and Dizzy Dean say a base runner was "out by a heifer's step."

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1206

Its Roots Week on Ranch Radio and here's Riley Puckett with his 1925 recording of When I Had Fifty Cents.  This was recorded two years before the Bristol Sessions when Ralph Peer discovered The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers.  Here are some excerpts from his bio:

Artist Biography by Jason Ankeny
Riley Puckett was one of the pioneers of country music, a singer whose output both as a solo performer and as a member of the supergroup the Skillet Lickers left an indelible mark on the work produced in his wake. He was born George Riley Puckett on May 7, 1894, in Alpharetta, GA; though at birth he had the ability to see, a medical mishap during his infancy left him blind. He attended the Macon School for the Blind, where he learned to read Braille and began playing the banjo, followed by the guitar, developing a unique, arhythmic style of playing bass-note runs to bridge chord changes. He also attracted attention at regional fiddling contests. Puckett made his radio debut with Clayton McMichen's Hometown Band on WSB Atlanta in 1922. He soon became one of the station's most popular performers, and began appearing as a soloist. The next year, he joined with mandolinist Ted Hawkins and fiddler Lowe Stokes to form the Hometown Boys, where his smooth vocal style and yodeling abilities earned the group a devoted following among WSB listeners, who began calling the singer "the Ball Mountain Caruso." In 1924, Puckett accompanied James "Gideon" Tanner to Columbia Records' New York City studios, where he cut his first sides, including a cover of Fiddlin' John Carson's "The Little Old Log Cabin," "Steamboat Bill," and "Rock All Our Babies to Sleep," believed to contain the first-ever appearance of yodeling on a country record. The results proved highly successful, and later in the year a second session followed; accompanying himself on banjo, Puckett recorded, among others, "Oh Susannah" and "You'll Never Miss Your Mother Till She's Gone." In 1925, Columbia introduced their 15000-D Hillbilly Series, and Puckett quickly became one of the imprint's most successful acts; only Vernon Dalhart sold more records. A year later, he joined the Skillet Lickers, which also featured Gid Tanner and Clayton McMichen, and remained with the group through 1931. In 1927, he also joined high tenor Hugh Cross for the very first recording of "Red River Valley." The duo went on to cut two more sessions together, generating songs like "Gonna Raise a Ruckus Tonight" (released under the name Alabama Barnstormers), "Call Me Back Pal o' Mine," and "My Wild Irish Rose."...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sen. Mary Landrieu on track to chair energy & natural resources panel

Sen. Mary Landrieu said creating jobs in domestic energy will be among her priorities when she takes over the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The Louisiana Democrat, who could assume the post later this week, already is organizing the committee, hiring staffers and planning meetings with Republican and Democratic members. “I’m just listening,” Landrieu told reporters. “There’s no first thing. There’s no list yet, but it’s being put together. I’m excited about the energy renaissance that’s happening in this country.’ ’ The Senate Democratic Caucus voted Tuesday to make Landrieu chairwoman of the committee. The full Senate is expected to vote as early as Thursday on a resolution officially naming her to the post. A winter snowstorm, however, may push back a vote. Landrieu will replace Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Wyden stepped down from the post to replace former Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Baucus resigned from the Senate last week after he was confirmed by the Senate to be ambassador to China. Wyden plans to preside over an energy committee hearing on his timber bill Thursday before stepping down as chairman...more

Louisiana is a private property state and this is the committee that provides oversight of BLM & the FS and has jurisdiction for wilderness, national monuments, livestock grazing and so forth.  Here's a list of previous Chairmen:

Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 1977–present

All were from public lands states except for one and sure enough he was from La.  Still, it should make you nervous.  She's not even on the committee now but they are making her Chairman.  With Joe Manchin of West Va. chairing the subcommittee on  Public Lands, Forests and Mining, that means all legislation affecting western public lands states will go through two chairmen who are from private property states.

What staff will she bring and how will she manage the committee?  Who on the Dem's side of the isle will have the most influence with her on public lands issues?  How will she work with Murkowski?

Is this a case of seniority awarding her this Chairmanship or is something else afoot?  Could be her tough bid for re-election has plenty to do with this. Recent polls have her in a virtual tie with her most likely Republican opponent.  The Dem's want to keep the Senate, thus Landrieu becomes Chairman.