Saturday, January 07, 2017

Marcus Mumford's prosecution is an 'unprecedented attack on the defense bar,' his lawyer says

Marcus Mumford, Ammon Bundy's lawyer who U.S. marshals tackled and stunned with a Taser gun in federal court on the day his client was acquitted, returned to the same courtroom Friday to appear in his own criminal case. His attorney, Michael Levine, entered a not guilty plea on Mumford's behalf to charges of failing to comply with the lawful direction of a federal police officer and impeding or disrupting official government duties, both misdemeanors. The maximum penalty for each offense is 30 days in custody and a $5,000 fine. Deputy marshals tackled Mumford as he questioned the government's authority to continue to hold Bundy on federal charges pending in Nevada and demanded to see paperwork to back it up. "What happened here is an unprecedented attack on the defense bar,'' Levine said after the brief hearing Friday. He called the use of a stun gun and Mumford's arrest "outrageous,'' saying Mumford was doing nothing more than engaging in zealous advocacy for his client. Mumford, 43, flew in from Utah to appear briefly before U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Ohms, both assigned from Washington state after federal judges and prosecutors in Oregon recused themselves from the case. "Mr. Mumford, you have the right to remain silent. Do you understand that?'' Coughenour asked. "Yes,'' Mumford said. Oregon's federal public defender Lisa Hay, wearing a "FREE MARCUS MUMFORD'' button on her blazer, other defense attorneys from the Bundy case and court staff crowded into the courtroom to watch the proceeding. Hay said she came to show her support for a defense attorney who was "physically assaulted while advocating for his client in the courtroom and not in disobedience of any judicial order.'' Judges can find attorneys or others in contempt of court, but Hay called it an "abuse of power'' for defense lawyers to face physical force from marshals. "The limits on vigorous advocacy are set by the judiciary by contempt powers, not by the executive branch and its marshals through use of force against defense attorneys,'' Hay said. Mumford is expected to argue that there was a "pattern of overreaction'' by  marshals who "initiated conflict unnecessarily'' during the case, according to emails he sent to federal court. He has requested video surveillance footage of the encounter as well as any video footage of two earlier incidents with marshals in court. On the day of the Bundy acquittal, Mumford stood before U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown and argued that Bundy should be released from custody immediately...more

Defendant in Cliven Bundy case wants jury to visit site of 2014 standoff

One of the 17 defendants in the Cliven Bundy case wants a federal jury to visit the spot where the armed standoff unfolded in 2014 between supporters of the Nevada rancher and federal agents who impounded his cattle. The request appears in a motion filed last week by defense attorney Jess Marchese, who represents Eric Parker. Federal prosecutors have not yet responded to the motion, which argues that while pictures and video are available, they do not illustrate the “sheer enormity” of the site or show every part of the area. “Personally seeing the actual road, wash, and general terrain would remedy the issue,” the motion says. If granted, the visit would give the jurors a direct view of the location, including the nearby Toquop Wash, where federal agents, in the midst of the confrontation, made the decision to release Bundy’s cattle. The standoff occurred in April 2014 off of Interstate 15 near Bunkerville, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. No shots were fired at the standoff, which has become a prominent chapter in the story of public-lands disputes in the West. The defense motion acknowledges that viewing the scene, an estimated one-hour drive from the Las Vegas courthouse, would be an “inconvenience” that would require the Nevada Highway Patrol to shut down one northbound lane of the interstate so jurors could view and walk the area. According to the motion, an investigator for the defense traveled to the area and determined it is “nearly impossible” to view the area from where the defendants were situated on the bridge. That is because cars whip by at a high speed and there is only about 5 feet of shoulder between the barrier and travel lane of the interstate, the motion says. “The jury would not be prejudiced by a viewing,” according to the motion. “There would not be any outside influences at the location during the viewing and only court staff and the parties would be present.” The area has not significantly changed since the incident, although the cattle corrals and gate used to hold the cattle have been removed, the motion says. Cliven Bundy and Mel Bundy, one of his sons, have filed court papers supporting Parker’s motion and asking to join it...more

For the sage grouse, much is at stake in the coming year

Few birds are tougher than the greater sage grouse. For millennia, this incredible species has thrived across the sagebrush sea of the West — one of our nation's most unique and imperiled landscapes.
Yet the sage grouse was on the road to extinction less than two years ago — threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, wildfires and human disturbance of nesting and breeding grounds in 11 Western states. The looming possibility of Endangered Species Act listing spurred a broad coalition of state and federal agencies, Native American tribes, sporting and conservation organizations, industry groups and private landowners to take action.

Together, this coalition created the most ambitious and expansive conservation effort in history – one that continues to improve habitat conditions and reduce threats to the greater sage grouse across millions of acres of public and private lands in the West. Our collective actions haven't just averted the possibility of ESA protection for the sage grouse – they're beginning to benefit people and wildlife at a landscape scale.

We've found that this bird is not only tough; it's resilient. If we give sage grouse the space they need on the landscape, they will thrive. But restoring a complex ecosystem to health requires time and sustained commitment.

In December, the outgoing Congress gave the sage grouse a bit more breathing room. Thanks to the advocacy of sportsmen and others who understand the importance of the sage grouse to the West, both the House and Senate removed measures in the National Defense Authorization Act that could have halted our collective efforts. 

Now more than ever, we need the new Congress to stand with us and support our shared, longterm commitment to sage grouse conservation in the years to come. Because far more than the bird's future is at stake.

The 4.2 million acres of sage grouse habitat in the West provide habitat for more than 350 species of fish and wildlife, including big-game species such as mule deer, pronghorn and elk. Healthy, functional sage grouse habitat also fuels the region's economy, providing jobs, income and recreational opportunities for families across the West. If the health and productivity of the land continues to decline, we risk losing these benefits. 

Dan Ashe is director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Land Tawney is the president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.



As I predicted, more paeans to the ESA, attempting to influence Congress and the Trumpians. The article concludes:
 
With the support of Congress and the new administration, we will succeed in sustaining the greater sage grouse and our natural heritage for future generations – while also improving the lives of millions of people in communities across the West who rely on this landscape for clean air, water, recreation and their livelihoods.

Now is the time to affirm our shared commitment to a vibrant, healthy American West.

Yes, all that's at stake is 350 species of wildlife, our natural heritage, and "the lives of millions of people in communities across the West." Or looked at another way, what's at stake is the most powerful weapon in the environmentalists' arsenal, one that allows them to control the use of millions of acres of federal, state and private lands. 

Westerners will be watching the Republicans who now control the House, the Senate and the White House. Will they side with the "shared, longterm commitment" to the Endangered Species Act, or will they support reasonable amendments that brings balance back and a "shared, longterm commitment" to private property rights.

Friday, January 06, 2017

National Western Stock Show brings Old West excitement to modern audiences in Denver

Champion cowboys and cowgirls, rodeo clowns, and a host of four-legged critters, will take center stage in Denver on Saturday when the National Western Stock Show kicks off. The annual Stock Show, now in its 111th year, is a mix of fast-paced entertainment and opportunities for attendees to learn about a vanishing agrarian lifestyle, while celebrating Western history and values, Stock Show president Paul Andrews said. There are rodeos galore, a fiddle contest, riding, roping and shooting, along with 4-H kids, and ranchers showing off the cows, sheep and other animals they raised. In addition there will be llamas, yak, buffalo, as well as miniature Herefords, specially bred cattle that can be half the weight of a normal cow. And if you think small cows might be cute, consider this: children as young as 3-years-old can show these animals. The National Western features enrichment programs and youth education in livestock, equestrian, farming, ranching, animal awareness and appreciation. Exhibitors, vendors and competitors from 42 states and more than 30 countries will be represented at the show. Last year, 686,745 people attended, the second highest number of people through the gate since the record was set in 2006, when 726,972 spectators pouring onto the grounds of the National Western Complex at Brighton Boulevard and Interstate 70. The show also clocked its largest opening day attendance record in 2016, with 50,654 fans. This year, the show begins on Saturday and runs through Jan. 22...more

Ranch Radio S0ng Of The Day #1759

Today we have a Country Classic, Jimmie Brown, The Newsboy, by Flatt & Scruggs. The tune was recorded in Nashville on May 9, 1951.

https://youtu.be/iVZ8u7BP1ws

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Ranchers spar with Obama over new national monuments in Utah and Nevada

With the exception of his time spent serving in the Army during the Vietnam War, Sandy Johnson has spent most of his 67 years running cattle in southeastern Utah’s starkly beautiful San Juan County. Like many of his fellow ranchers, Johnson has leased land from the federal government for decades to graze his cattle on open range. But President Obama’s recent establishment of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada has caused Johnson and his neighbors to worry that the land his family’s cattle has grazed on for generations may soon be off limits and that the landscape he has spent his entire life working may be inexorably changed. “I think this land should have stayed open to everyone and not be regulated by the federal government,” Johnson told FoxNews.com. Obama’s designation late last month of Bears Ears and Gold Butte as national monuments – along with his recent ban on oil drilling in federal waters in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans – have earned the outgoing president the praise of both environmental groups and Native American groups as he secures his environmental legacy...more



With respect to livestock grazing in the Gold Butte National Monument, there is no debate. The proclamation states:

Livestock grazing has not been permitted in the monument area since 1998 and the Secretary shall not issue any new grazing permits or leases on lands within the monument.

It doesn't matter what studies say, what the eventual plan says, or what the protection of certain objects entail. The Secretary shall not issue  is pretty definitive.

Experts Issue Warning After Coyotes Kill Suburban Family's Dog

A suburban family is mourning the loss of their beloved dog after he was killed in a coyote attack on Christmas Day - and issuing a warning to fellow pet owners. In a open field within a subdivision near Old Tavern Park in suburban Lisle, neighbors have noticed an increase in coyote sightings. On Sunday evening, two of them got ahold of one family's dog, a 10-year-old Shiba Inu named Jack. Jack was used to venturing outside of the home, but a relative who witnessed the attack said the coyotes now seem more daring than they've been before. "They've got no problem coming up to people's houses," said Tony Chobanov, adding that the entire incident took "probably 20, 30 seconds." "It wasn't long at all," he said. "It was fast and violent."...more

Zinke Votes Yes On Lands Transfer Rules Change

The U.S. House took a vote related to public lands yesterday that has Democrats and conservation groups crying foul. It’s part of a larger rules package that would change how Congress calculates the value of federal public lands when it comes to transferring them to states. Right now, lawmakers have to take into account the value of revenue public lands bring in, like from grazing or mineral leases, and subtract that from government revenue if they want to transfer federal lands to states. The rules change would eliminate that accounting, and say that land transfers are budget neutral. Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke voted for the rules package. He declined an interview request, and his office issued a six-word reply: "Ryan Zinke’s position has not changed." Zinke has repeatedly stated his opposition to the sale or transfer of public lands ownership to states. But in June Zinke did vote for a House bill that would allow state leaders to manage some federal parcels as demonstration projects. Following the House vote, Montana’s Republican Senator Steve Daines said, "I continue to strongly oppose the transfer of federal lands to the states while fighting to improve the management of those lands." Democratic Senator Jon Tester called the move, "an underhanded assault on Montana’s outdoor economy."...more

Get the Feds Out of Western Lands

by Ryan McMaken, Mises Institute

In the final days of his administration, President Obama has decided that with the stroke of pen, he shall further consolidate direct federal control over lands within Western states. Specifically, Obama created the Bear Ears National Monument and the Gold Butte National Monument in Utah and Nevada, respectively. The Obama Administration claims that Obama’s unilateral edict was necessary because Congress had not passed any legislation on the matter. Indeed, the Obama-appointed Interior Secretary stated that “protecting the area using legislation would have been preferable” but that in the absence of legislation, it was necessary to simply declare the lands to be National Monuments. In other words, the democratic, constitutional process of Congressional lawmaking was inconvenient for the President. So, he decided to rule by proclamation instead, giving the Governor of Utah barely an hour’s notice before the proclamation was made public.

It’s Not About Conservation — It’s About Federal Control

Now, we should first note that the overwhelming majority of lands newly designated as National Monument lands were already federal lands to begin with, and have been controlled largely by the US Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service.  Moreover, it is not the case that opponents to the new designation are mostly people who want to privatize the land or make it easier to mine or develop the land. In fact, many opponents of the designation oppose it because they fear Monument status will lead to greater development of the area as a tourist mecca. In other cases, members of Indian tribes object to making sacred lands part of a federally-controlled National Monument area.
And, of course, throughout Western states, public lands continue to be a lucrative source of tourist dollars and eco-tourism. The old caricature of pro-conservationist leftists and strip-mining conservatives has long been just that: a caricature. The reality is that nowadays many private firms and local governments depend on public lands for their livelihood and revenue, and these groups have quite a bit of influence at the state legislatures in question. Preserving natural spaces from development can mean big business and Western-state politicians know it...It is not at all clear that markets or local governments would prefer that land be used for agricultural purposes as opposed to other purposes. For example, were Rocky Mountain National Park to become a locally-controlled park or state park, there is, realistically speaking, zero chance that it would be handed over to ranchers or miners. The park is far too valuable to the local economy as part of the recreation and tourism industries. To turn the park into range land would devastate the economies of the local communities, many of which contain wealthy and influential voters...There is little doubt, however, that much of the controversy over the site will be framed like this: on one side are the conscientious environmentalists and others who want to preserve these pristine lands from destruction. On the other side are oil executives who want to strip-mine the land. The real debate here, however, isn’t over strip mining vs. conservation. It’s about whether or not a president thousands of miles away can — with the stroke of a pen — dictate how millions of acres in a faraway state can be used, and do so over the protestations of the state legislature. Nor can it be demonstrated that federal agencies are better custodians of lands than are states. Indeed, the federal government has routinely been more inclined to allow overgrazing on federal lands while subsidizing ranchers at taxpayer expense. It is the states that have demonstrated more prudent stewardship of resources...more

Livestock Industry Lays Out Federal Lands Priorities for Trump Administration

...Within the first 100 days in office, the associations are calling on the administration to bring an immediate halt to the Sage Grouse Resource Management Plans, repeal the sprawling monument designations made through abuse of the Antiquities Act, address the critical habitat designations imposing stifling restrictions on landowners, and immediately withdraw EPA's "waters of the United States" rule and the Bureau of Land Management's planning 2.0 rule. Long-term, attention must be paid to the National Environmental Policy Act, as reform is necessary to streamline and improve the process. Additionally, the incoming administration must take the steps necessary, in conjunction with Congress, to reauthorize and reform the Endangered Species Act. It is time to restore some balance to this failing law. Recovery plans must be structured for achievable on-the-ground results - not intangibles like climate change; prioritization must be on recovery, not simply the "listing rate," and resources must be directed toward delisting of those species that have been successfully recovered. Further, work must be done to address the exploding population of wild horses and burros. The unchecked population growth is not only exponential government waste; it is most likely the greatest example of inhumanity toward livestock; standing idly by while populations starve due to expansion well beyond range-carrying capacity. “Ranchers that operate on federal lands protect water sources used by livestock and wildlife, maintain fence lines, reduce spread of invasive weeds like cheatgrass and medusahead, and decrease the fuel loads that lead to catastrophic wildfire,” said Tracy Brunner, NCBA President. “Despite these contributions, beneficiaries of our work continue to attack responsible grazing, essentially biting the hand that feeds them. It is time these groups – whether they be wildlife advocates, environmental organizations, or recreational interests like hikers and sportsmen – put politics aside and appreciate the hard work required to provide them with the quality outdoor experiences they all cherish.” PLC, NCBA, the American Sheep Industry, and the Association of National Grasslands as well as the associated western affiliates, urge the incoming administration to reevaluate the flawed policies driven by radical special-interest groups and take advantage of the tremendous benefits and opportunities available through restoration and enhancement of responsible grazing on federal lands...more

Trump’s deportation vow spurs California farmers into action

Days after Donald Trump won the White House vowing to deport millions of people in the country illegally and fortify the Mexican border, California farmer Kevin Herman ordered nearly $600,000 in new equipment, cutting the number of workers he’ll need starting with the next harvest. Herman, who grows figs, persimmons and almonds in the nation’s most productive farming state, said Trump’s comments pushed him to make the purchase, larger than he would have otherwise. “No doubt about it,” Herman said. “I probably wouldn’t have spent as much or bought as much machinery as I did.” Others in California’s farming industry say Trump’s tough campaign talk targeting immigrants in the country illegally — including a vast number of farmworkers — spurred them into action, too. They’re calling on congressional representatives to educate the incoming president on the workforce it takes to feed the country, and they’re assuring workers they’ll protect them. Trump’s remarks were felt sharply in California, which produces nearly half the country’s fruits, vegetables and nuts valued of $47 billion annually. Experts say his words resonate nationwide. Texas, Florida and Georgia are examples of states with large migrant communities dominating home construction, health care, food service industries, said David Zonderman, a labor historian at North Carolina State University. “California might be ground zero,” he said of immigrant families living in the shadows. “But it’s not a unique California issue.”...more

H.B. ‘Squire’ Wallace, ‘The Human Lead Mine’

H.B. Wallace, better known as “Squire’ Wallace, died at Dolores, Colorado. He was a pioneer cattleman in Southwest Colorado and probably carried more lead in his body that any other human being in the tri-county area. It is said that in his days he stopped as many as 26 bullets.Wallace was born in Webster County, Kentucky, on Jan. 26, 1849. He went to Texas in 1859 and remained there for several years. Family lore said he served as a Texas Ranger, knew no fear and was a man who never lost his nerve when facing a gun in the hands of a foe. No doubt this is where he picked up a lot of lead. In 1873, he moved to New Mexico, where he resided until 1878. While in New Mexico, he started a herd of longhorn cattle, which he was later to bring into Colorado. Before leaving New Mexico, he and George Morrison were set upon by a band of Mexicans who didn’t take kindly to the cowboys moving into their territory. Squire was critically injured in the ensuing gunfight. Squire was a good friend of Clay Allison, the outlaw gunfighter of the Old West. Allison lived in New Mexico. Clay came into the fray, and transported Squire to a doctor, where he was treated, and ultimately survived to fight again. From New Mexico, Wallace came to Colorado and located at Pine River in La Plata County, bringing his herd of cattle with him. There he was married to Elizabeth “Lizzie” Dunham to which union seven children were born...After moving to Dolores, Wallace became involved in horse racing in the Mancos area. In 1900, Squire and Curg Williams, the owner of racehorse “Silver Dick,” took on the responsibility of building a race track with a 1-half mile course. They leveled and graded the land on Curg’s property located just south of Mancos, and built a grandstand and an 8-foot-tall fence. Squire was a rancher by trade, but the horses were his pride and joy...more

Silver City says goodbye to an icon

Demolition began Tuesday on a longstanding Silver City icon, as a giant backhoe bit into the roof of The Red Barn Steakhouse and Watering Hole Lounge, taking with it a little piece of Grant County history. The demolition of the more than 30-year-old red barn-shaped landmark restaurant with its iconic silo will make way for a long-awaited Denny’s, Silver City’s first chain restaurant, other than fast food. Demolition is being done by C&C Services LLC, of Albuquerque, which is a subcontractor of Tanglewood Construction, also of Albuquerque, which were hired by Food Service Concepts Inc., of Phoenix, Ariz., the company building the restaurant on U.S. 180 across from The Drifter. Louis Tarin, owner of C&C, said he and his employees began checking their equipment on Tuesday afternoon to prepare for the first part of the demolition. Tarin said that he and his team will work from front to back, and top to bottom, to take down the building, which should take between two and three weeks to fully demolish. Food Service Concepts Inc. had until April 21 of this year to begin demolition of The Red Barn, according to their building permit and town ordinances, explained Silver City Community Development Director Jaime Embick. The demolition and construction permits were handled on the same application, said Embick...more

2016 Smashed Previous Gun Sales Record

The FBI ran 27.5 million gun-related background checks in 2016—about 4.4 million more than any other year on record. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System processed 2,771,159 background checks in December, bringing 2016’s total to 27,538,673, according to FBI records posted on Wednesday. That dwarfs the firearms check record of 23,141,970 set the previous year. NICS firearms background checks are considered an accurate metric of gun sales. The FBI processed twice as many firearms checks in 2016, the last full year of President Obama’s administration, than it did in 2008, the year Obama was elected. During President Obama’s eight-year tenure, the FBI has processed 157,233,157 firearms checks—61,249,149 more than the previous ten years. Those figures have led some to label Obama “the greatest gun salesman in history.” Gun rights activists have long argued that Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party’s advocacy for gun control measures has fueled gun sales...more

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1758

Today we have Tex Williams and his 1951 recording of Black Strap Molasses. You can find the tune on his Hey Mr. Cotton Picker CD. 

https://youtu.be/DPj7AU32ZfA

Rescinding EPA electricity rules key to making America competitive again

By Natalia Castro

The EPA has helped to strangle U.S. economic growth for the last eight years with its 2009 carbon endangerment finding and subsequent rules against new and existing coal power plants, dubbed the Clean Power Plan. But regulatory policy has not just represented significant government overreach, it has also undermined U.S. competitiveness globally. Now, with the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20, the U.S. could be poised to reclaim its mantle as the world’s foremost economic power — by stopping further job-killing regulations from being implemented and rescinding the Obama regulations either under the terms of the Administrative Procedures Act, a process that can take a couple of years, or via Congress’ Article I power of the purse. As the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce noted in July 2016, since President Obama took office the EPA has published just under 4,000 final rules in the Federal Register, which caused significant “Legal, cost, and practical implementation issues; effects of the rules on the electricity and oil and gas sectors; impacts on the affordability and reliability of energy supplies; impacts on American households and consumers; and, impacts on American workers, jobs, and economic growth.” These regulations have cost the American companies hundreds of billions in compliance costs, and under the Obama administration cost more than $50 billion in annual costs each year. Hill contributor Jason Pye explained in Dec. 2016, the Clean Power Plan alone is estimated to cost the energy sector between $41 billion and $73 billion simply to comply. This is making electricity more expensive in the U.S., increasing the cost of doing business and killing jobs particularly in the coal sector, with an estimated 126,000 jobs expected to be lost as a direct result to the Clean Power Plan...more

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Feds See No ‘Loss Of Confidence’ In Closing Lab That Manipulated Data For Decades

by  Ethan Barton

An order closing a government lab that manipulated energy data for nearly two decades didn’t represent a “loss of confidence” in federal scientists, according to the issuing official, even though a subsequent memo by another agency executive described in gruesome detail an irretrievably mismanaged and dysfunctional operation. The stop-work order and a subsequent review was issued after a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) chemist was caught manipulating energy-related data at an agency lab from 2008 to 2014. Another chemist manipulated data at the Colorado facility from 1996 to 2008. (RELATED: Federal Lab’s ‘Extremely Troubling’ Data Manipulation Spurs Hill Probe)Lastly, the [program office] would like to convey to the [lab] analysts that these actions are not [emphasis theirs] a reflection of a loss of confidence in them or in their abilities,” the March 2015 stop-work order said. A copy of the order was obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group through a Freedom of Information Act request. (RELATED: Feds Give Congress Blank Documents To ‘Explain’ Lab Data Manipulation) It’s unclear why the order’s author – acting coordinator Vito Nuccio – was so confident in the scientists’ abilities, given that the lab’s data was manipulated for nearly its entire existence and that a subsequent memo obtained by TheDCNF revealed deep dysfunction, distrust and dubious work performance across the facility...more

Endangered Species History Precedes Cabinet Contender

Combs
By Tiffany Stecker

A contender for Trump administration posts carries a reputation on endangered species and pesticide issues in her home state of Texas—a history that has earned praise from industry leaders and pans from environmentalists, who say the free-market approach to conservation puts rare species at risk. Susan Combs, who served both as Texas agricultural commissioner and state comptroller under Republican Govs. George W. Bush and Rick Perry, has been under consideration for agriculture secretary under President-elect Donald Trump. Recent media reports indicate that former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R ) is the front-runner for that position, and Trump has yet to announce his decision. Combs could still be considered for other posts at USDA or elsewhere in the executive branch, sources say. Combs, who met with Trump on Dec. 30 at his Mar-al-Lago estate in Florida, played a key role in bringing endangered species issues under the authority of the state comptroller’s office. As head of the agency, Combs led the charge to develop the Texas Conservation Plan, an effort to avoid listing the dunes sagebrush lizard under the Endangered Species Act—a move that would have required landowners to take on measures to protect habitat for the sand-dwelling reptile. The plan focused heavily on voluntary conservation measures taken on by oil and gas drillers and other private landowners in the Permian basin, relying on a mechanism in which landowners commit to maintaining habitat in exchange for protection from land-use restrictions if a species is ever listed...more

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says maybe now that GOP is in control, Congress will end ‘fire borrowing’

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who made her final official visit to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise on Tuesday, said it’s “very frustrating” that Congress still hasn’t found a way to stabilize wildfire prevention programs despite years of pressure and bipartisan agreement. “I will remain optimistic that when we have full control by one party, that there’s no one to blame but themselves for not moving forward on this issue,” Jewell told reporters. She noted that it’s an issue “that has been bipartisan, but very much impacts people in the West – and the Republican Party is well-represented in the West, so perhaps we’ll see some movement.” Idaho GOP Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden have been among the leading voices to change the funding system from a system that robs wildfire prevention budgets to pay to battle fires in the worst fire years. They want the largest and costliest wildfires paid for like other natural disasters are funded. This year, the Senate included the change in its budget bill for the Department of Interior, Jewell said, “saying that we’re going to take the most devastating wildfires and fund them as the disasters that they are.” But the House version didn’t include the change. And then in the end, no budget passed...more

Jewell: Western sagebrush defense plan will endure

Her 2015 secretarial order to protect sagebrush steppe spanning an area stretching from the Dakotas west to Oregon, Washington and northern California is considered by public lands experts, outdoor enthusiasts and scientists as one of the most significant federal land policy changes since the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. It regulated public lands to prevent overgrazing. Jewell’s order directed federal resources for the first time to fight massive blazes in open sagebrush steppe that supports cattle ranching, recreation and some 350 species of wildlife, including sage grouse. She said she will pass along information from that meeting to Republican Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to succeed her. Zinke has advocated increased drilling and mining on public lands, but his position on Jewell’s secretarial order is not clear. Zinke’s communications director, Heather Smith, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Jewell also said she will provide the transition team details “on the importance of maintaining the momentum that we have in arguably one of the most effective examples of government working together collaboratively at all levels.”...more

4 children die in Texas gas poisoning; others injured

A poisonous gas believed to have been released when someone tried to wash away a pesticide that had been sprayed under a Texas home killed four children and left six other people hospitalized, officials said Monday. Phosphine gas was likely released when water mixed with the pest control chemical, Amarillo fire officials said. A specific cause of death had not been released for the four children Monday afternoon. The other six people who were in the home are “not out of the woods yet,” fire officials said. Crews who responded to a 5 a.m. call to the home originally thought it was related to carbon monoxide poisoning, Amarillo fire Capt. Larry Davis said in a statement. One child died at the scene and three others died at a hospital. Officials didn’t release any identifying information, including the children’s ages or whether they were related. Davis said all four people who died were residents of the home...more

Central Americans continue to surge across U.S. border, new DHS figures show

U.S. officials are grappling with a 15 percent surge in illegal immigration, reflecting continued failures by the Obama administration to deter illegal immigration along the country’s southwestern border. Homeland Security officials apprehended 530,250 illegal immigrants, and sent 450,954 people back to their home countries over the 12-month period that ended in September, according to figures released Friday by the Department of Homeland Security. The majority of those apprehended come from Central American countries and include 137,614 families and unaccompanied children, part of an ongoing flight from high crime and violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, which human rights advocates have urged the administration to treat as a refu­gee crisis. The number of families and children in the past year also exceeded figures from 2015 and 2014, when illegal migrants from Central America overwhelmed U.S. Border Patrol stations at the Mexican border, and President Obama called the flow of children an “urgent humanitarian situation.” Administration officials said Friday that the latest “removal” figures reflect a concerted policy shift to target convicted criminals over others...more

Cartel Gunmen Wish Merry Christmas by Beheading Rival in Front of His Children

The continuing cartel violence that has taken hold of this state took a disturbing twist when cartel gunmen added a Christmas flavor by leaving the body of one of their latest beheading victims next to a banner saying “Merry Christmas.” The recent murder took place when cartel gunmen stormed a house in the Esperanza neighborhood. The cartel gunmen shot a man five times with a 9mm handgun. The victim was murdered in front of his three children. After killing the man, the gunmen beheaded the victim and left a cartel banner with the message “Merry Christmas.” The banner was signed by the Cartel Del Noreste Faction of the Los Zetas Cartel...more

3 men decapitated, 2 more slain in Acapulco over New Year’s

At least five people were killed over the New Year’s weekend in the resort city of Acapulco, including three men found decapitated in a central neighborhood, officials said Sunday. The three severed heads were found Saturday on a residential street on the roof of a car, with the bodies inside. The killings were confirmed by a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Later the same day, unknown gunmen opened fire at police who were assisting at the scene of a traffic accident in a tourist quarter near the beach, killing one officer. City government spokesman Jose Luis Mendez said it was not clear why the officers were attacked. Early Sunday, a taxi driver was gunned down in his cab on a road that leads out of the city. At least 35 people have been killed along Acapulco’s touristy beach areas this year, something that rarely happened in the past, as drug gang violence plagues the city and the surrounding state of Guerrero...more

Mexican man charged with rape had 19 deportations, removals

A Mexican man accused of raping a 13-year-old girl on a Greyhound bus that traveled through Kansas had been deported 10 times and voluntarily removed from the U.S. another nine times since 2003, records obtained by The Associated Press show. Three U.S. Republican senators — including Kansas’ Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts — demanded this month that the Department of Homeland Security provide immigration records for 38-year-old Tomas Martinez-Maldonado, who is charged with a felony in the alleged Sept. 27 attack aboard a bus in Geary County. He is being held in the Geary County jail in Junction City, which is about 120 miles west of Kansas City. Records obtained by AP show Martinez-Maldonado had eight voluntary removals before his first deportation in 2010, which was followed by another voluntary removal that same year. He was deported five more times between 2011 and 2013...more

Immigration cases swamp federal court system in NM

By Lauren Villagran

LAS CRUCES – Every day, federal prosecutors in southern New Mexico head to the copper-plated U.S. District Court to face the daily grind of criminal immigration cases that now make up a majority of federal prosecutions nationwide. The caseload has grown so large in New Mexico – with apprehensions of unauthorized immigrants more than doubling in two years after several years of decline – that U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez in June capped the number of nonviolent border crossers his office will prosecute at 150 a month. There are hundreds more who could be prosecuted each month but aren’t, according to law enforcement sources. Immigrant advocates question whether nonviolent offenders should be prosecuted at all. The U.S. Attorney’s Office cap applies to a specific offense known as a “1326a,” illegal re-entry, without complicating factors like drug trafficking or extensive criminal histories. Those nonviolent offenders typically receive “time served” at sentencing, which in New Mexico amounts to 30 to 45 days on average, thanks to a fast-track system that moves these offenders quickly from arrest to deportation. The lead investigative agency on illegal entry and re-entry is U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. Spokesman Ramiro Cordero confirmed that apprehensions at the New Mexico border, including immigrants who could be charged with felony illegal re-entry, are far outpacing prosecutions...more
 

Two Mexican Cities Hugging US Border Among the Country’s Most Dangerous

Experts are blaming drug cartel violence and the increased use of guns by criminals for a surge in homicides in the Mexican cities of Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez on the U.S. border. Tijuana sits opposite San Diego, while Ciudad Juarez hugs the border with El Paso. The Mexican cities each have more than one million inhabitants. The 2016 murder rate in Ciudad Juarez is the highest in four years, said Francisco Rivas, director of the citizens’ group Observatorio Nacional Ciudadano which monitors federal crime statistics. The homicide rate in Tijuana, Rivas said, is the highest seen in a decade. According to statistics released by the group, homicide investigations in the state of Chihuahua, where Ciudad Juarez is located, increased by 80.4 percent in October, compared to the average of the previous 12 months. They increased by 14.8 percent in Baja California, home to Tijuana...more

Juárez murders up for 1st time since drug war

By Lauren Villagran
 
CIUDAD JUÁREZ – The murder toll in this border city is expected to rise this year for the first time since the waning days of a bloody drug war five years ago. A spike in homicides between July and October will push the city’s murder rate to more than 500 for the year despite a decline in murders in the last two months, according to statistics from the Chihuahua state prosecutor’s office.a01_jd_26dec_juarezCriminal organizations continue to operate on both sides of the border but carry out the bulk of their violence on the Mexican side, where institutions are not as strong. Law enforcement and other experts say gangs are fighting not just for control of the plaza, but also for the local drug market. “Some of the violence going on is still the Sinaloa and Juárez cartels in battles,” said Will Glaspy, special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in West Texas and New Mexico. “Some of it is possibly due to methamphetamine being distributed in Ciudad Juárez. Some of that we think, too, is infighting within the Juárez cartel.”...more

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1757

Better known for his guitar work and arrangements, Billy Strange also sang some country tunes. The Devil In Me was recorded in Hollywood on Jan. 5, 1954.

https://youtu.be/Jt49XmOXof4

Monday, January 02, 2017

Obama’s public lands policy leaves legacy of conflict



With two new massive set-asides in his final weeks in office, President Obama has moved aggressively to solidify a legacy on public lands that’s often put the White House at odds with state officials who want to see more local control over land use. Mr. Obama already held the record for creating or expanding national monuments when he used the Antiquities Act last week to set aside a combined 1.65 million acres for Bears Ears in Utah and Golden Butte in Nevada. In doing so, however, Mr. Obama also solidified his reputation for using public lands to reward his friends and enrage his enemies. Environmentalists cheered his commitment to conservation, but Republican lawmakers, state officials and locals accused him of ignoring their input in order to score political points, lock up productive lands and expand federal control. Rep. Rob Bishop, the Utah Republican who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, said the hotly disputed designations represent business as usual for Mr. Obama. “Much of the agenda, like the monuments, was done behind closed doors, in the shadows, in secret, and would otherwise be rejected under established democratic processes,” said Mr. Bishop. “They systematically abused executive powers through unilateral rules, orders and memorandums designed to make energy and resource development uneconomical.” In the name of environmental protection, the Obama administration has tightened its hold on federal lands, adding layers of regulation on energy development, halting new coal leases, using the Endangered Species Act to restrict grazing, and taking a hard line on violations. “Keep it in the ground, lock it up and let it burn. That’s been the policy for the last eight years,” said Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder, who heads the American Lands Council. The result has been a backlash by groups such as the council, which formed in 2012 to counter the Obama administration’s expansion of federal authority by calling for transferring control of federal lands to the states. Environmentalists have responded by doubling down with a push to stop energy development on public lands altogether with the “keep it in the ground” movement...more

Owyhee Canyonlands’ fate remains unclear

Speculation has simmered for months — spiking with each newly created or expanded national monument — over whether President Barack Obama would grant the same status to Owyhee Canyonlands. “We still don’t know what to expect,” said Elias Eiguren, a fifth-generation Jordan Valley rancher and the treasurer of the Owyhee Basin Stewardship Coalition, who echoed the view of many watching the outcome for the Southeast Oregon site. Conservation and recreation groups have long sought to permanently protect about 2.5 million acres there, warning of threats from drilling and mining and impacts from off-road vehicles to the remote site known for its diverse vegetation, geology, wildlife habitat and connections to other open lands that help animals migrate more easily. A coalition of conservation proponents includes Oregon Natural Desert Association, the Pew Charitable Trusts, Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society. Ranchers, cattlemen, real estate groups and others have protested the use of a monument designation and have called for a vote from Congress instead, saying that a monument could harm the local economy, limit access to the land and remove grazing and ranching capabilities of people whose families have lived and worked in the area for generations. That side has its own coalition, including Eiguren and the Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, Oregon Association of Realtors and Association of Oregon Counties. “Obviously, there’s not a lot of time left for additional designations,” said Thomas O’Keefe, northwest stewardship director for American Whitewater, a whitewater resources conservation nonprofit and member of the coalition urging Owyhee’s protection...more

A Trump pick who says this land is your land

 by JAMES GREIFF


...But for those who still embrace the goals of the Sagebrush Rebellion, a loose coalition of ranchers, miners, drillers, hunters, off-road enthusiasts, libertarians and anti-government die-hards, Zinke is a heretic. The reason is that he is an unshakable foe of selling federal lands or transferring them to the states. Repeatedly, Zinke has joined Democrats in opposing legislation that would require the department he has been named to head to shed its vast real-estate holdings. In July 2015, he voted for an amendment to block funding of “extra legal ways to transfer federal lands to private owners.” Earlier in the year he voted against a Republican-sponsored budget resolution that would have set up a fund to do the same thing. As Zinke, 55, explained it at the time, he grew up hunting and fishing in Montana and sees the value in making sure that what’s public stays public. This year he voted to block the sale of a couple of million acres of federal forest land for logging. Zinke has been so at odds with his party on this point that he resigned from the committee that drafted the Republican Party convention platform because, as usual, it included a passage about selling some of the 640 million acres owned by the federal government. Zinke was personally vetted for the Interior post by Donald Trump Jr., an avid hunter and angler. The confounding thing about the argument for transferring federal land to the states or selling it to private owners is that those who make it might have the most to lose...more

I address the Zinke nomination in my most recent column, which should be available in the next few days.

AFBF- Farmers concerned about government overreach

American farmers are united in their resolve for reform in 2017, said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “Farmers and ranchers made their voices heard in 2016, but we need to keep telling our stories if we want to be at the heart of shaping the policies that will impact our businesses and way of life,” Duvall said. “The close of one year ushers in new goals for the next, and I am confident that working together through Farm Bureau offers us that common platform for progress.” Duvall, the Georgia farmer who was elected AFBF president last year, will wheel the gavel Friday, Jan. 6 opening the 98th annual convention and trade show in Phoenix, Arizona. The six-day meeting concludes Jan. 11. Aside from contests, awards and keynote speakers, the AFBF’s delegation session promises a thorough preview of potential policy proposals for a new farm bill. High on the agenda is the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized rule which significantly expands the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act in August 2015. “EPA not only failed to listen to concerned farmers, ranchers and business owners around the country in crafting its new rule, but actually managed to make the final rule worse than anticipated,” according to AFBF spokesmen. “The agency is making it impossible for farmers and ranchers to look at their land and know what can be regulated. EPA has vastly expanded its authority beyond the limits approved by Congress and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.” The WOTUS rule grants regulatory control over virtually all waters, assuming a scope of authority Congress has not authorized. The rule effectively eliminates any constraints the term “navigable” previously imposed on the Corps’ and EPA’s CWA jurisdiction, and the list of waters deemed “non-navigable” is exceptionally narrow — providing that few, if any waters, would fall outside federal control...more

Editorial: Grizzly bears come roaring back. Can humans — Trump & Co. included — make room?

By 1975, with only about 800 left in the continental United States, they were classified as endangered by the federal government. They had been killed off in many places where once they were numerous, including the Dakotas, California and Arizona. The threat of extinction loomed.

Preservation efforts made all the difference. Since then, grizzlies have rebounded, increasing their number to about 1,800. People have come to value their existence. Tourists from all over the world travel to national parks in hopes of seeing them in the wild.

But the comeback, welcome as it is, carries risks to both bear and human. Most people want grizzlies in Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. But no one wants a 600-pound apex predator on the patio. As the a

nimals multiply, they show up more often in populated places, sometimes with regrettable results.
"Grizzlies make for troublesome neighbors and lousy houseguests," writes Aaron Teasdale in Sierra Magazine. "The giant animals are routinely spotted chowing on orchard fruits and scavenging pet food and garbage. They're omnivores that like to eat many of the same things people do — chickens and sheep, for example."

...The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed removing the Yellowstone grizzlies from the threatened and endangered species list, which would open the way to trophy hunting outside the park — an idea that has drawn objections from the park superintendent, who fears it could damage the bear's long-term prospects.

President-elect Donald Trump's sons are both avid big-game hunters. His choice to run the Interior Department, Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., has voted to remove wolves, lynx and sage grouse from the endangered species list. So the grizzly may face new threats in the next four years.

We hope Trump and Zinke appreciate that many Americans welcome the comebacks that a few species — wolves, mountain lions, eagles and these ursine marvels — have made, and don't want that progress squandered. This is a key environmental issue on which the new administration will prove itself a good steward of nature or a handmaiden of big agriculture and other industries that often are at odds with conservation.


We can expect to see more of this from the media and enviro groups.  Banding together to incite the public and ward off any changes to the Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, NEPA and so on.

In this case its a large urban newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, which wants to foist the grizzly bear on those living in rural areas, all because they "welcome the comeback" of this and other species.  You would think they'd be concerned about the 762 murders in Chicago last year, more than NYC and LA combined, and the largest spike from one year to the next in 60 years. But no, they are more worried about the grizzly and we can expect more of the same from this sector.  

Are you ready to "make room" to accomodate the Chicago Tribune? Is Chicago making room for Aedes albopictus – also known as the Asian tiger mosquito? Don't they "welcome" this critter? 

Idaho elk ranchers find strong market with hunters

Rancher Kent Bagley and his sons Greg and Stephen derive almost a third of their income from agricultural tourism, and their farm-raised elk are the main attraction. The Bagleys bought their first 15 elk in the late 1990s, seeking to diversify their beef and dairy business. They’ve since given up the dairy, focusing on elk and beef cows. As with the dairy market, elk prices have ebbed and flowed — and while values of most farm commodities have declined lately, Stephen said elk meat, antlers and bulls raised for penned hunting operations have all risen. But even when the economy crashed in 2008 and elk ranches were closing in Idaho, domestic Cervidae continued to earn their keep for the Bagleys, thanks to tourism. Through elkadventures.com, their ranch offers overnight trips and day rides, which make stops by the elk pastures, and they take the public on paid bus tours of their elk operation. They also have a gift shop and rent cabins. “People love to see those baby elk, and we can get them right up close,” Stephen said, adding his proximity to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Yellowstone National Park ensures a steady supply of visitors. Stephen explained raising elk requires investing in separate handling facilities. The animals are skittish and slower to develop than cattle, requiring more than four years before they’re ready to sell. The industry is also heavily regulated. The Idaho State Department of Agriculture charges a $10 per head fee on domestic elk to fund its Cervidae program, including inspections and investigations into escapes. Furthermore, owners must test 10 percent of their elk post-slaughter, and all of the elk that die unexpectedly. According to Idaho State Department of Agriculture’s most recent estimates, the state has about 50 commercial elk ranches that produce about 6,000 calves per year...more

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1756

Its Swingin' Monday and we have Billy Mata & Texas Tradition with Excuse Me, I Gotta Go. The tune is on their 2011 CD This Is Tommy Duncan, Volumn 2.  

https://youtu.be/2kqCjQMwtzU

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Life in a leather glove

by Julie Carter

An old leather glove - wrinkled, worn, torn and stretched. If it could talk, possibly it would tell you a story of a time when men put on gloves as often as they put on their hat. For some, it was part of a morning ritual, first thing. And once on, they didn’t come off, even for the portrait of him with his bride. 

The antiquity of gloves goes back to prehistoric times when they were worn by cavemen to protect their hands and took the form of bags, a primitive type of mitten.

In England after the Norman Conquest, royalty and dignitaries wore gloves as a badge of distinction. The glove became a token when it was thrown to the ground at the feet of the adversary as a challenge of integrity and an invitation to duel. 

It was in the 12th century that gloves became part of fashionable dress. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, no well-dressed woman would appear in public without them. 

Working folk have spent a small fortune in gloves in a lifetime.  Heavy leather gloves -- mule skin or something tough, elk or deerskin gloves for comfort and dress, lined gloves for warmth, cotton gloves to work in the summertime.

Any kind of glove will wear out when working. The favorites, or maybe just the most necessary at the time, will receive repair with something as functional as duct tape.

Whether tucked in a back pocket for safekeeping, laid on the dash of the pickup or in the pocket of the door, a coat pocket, wherever --there is an unwritten law that the good ones will get lost first and often, only one of them.

Wearing a pair of mismatched gloves only means there is another pair just like them somewhere, usually to be found when you aren’t looking. They can be buried in corral dirt, under the seat of the pickup, or tucked in fence wire behind a post where you last needed to take them off for a project.

In the early 1800s, a French Master Glover began making gloves in sizes and a consistent shape establishing a reliable fit. I’m not sure I ever owned a pair that fit right but part of wearing gloves is learning to function with them, even awkwardly. 

Memories of the gloves worn by fathers and grandfathers can be found in the recesses of most of our minds. As do those special times as a child when we would proudly slip on those what seemed to be very large, old worn out gloves and think it made us all grown up and ready to work by their side.

With the advent of the ball point pen, the glove became not just hand protection, but a notepad for recording cattle counts, dates to remember and a place to do a little math to figure feed prices or cattle weights. 

Ranch records are sometimes written on a leather glove. In an effort to dignify his bookkeeping practices, one old timer would drop his gloves in a briefcase when he was headed to the accountants. Another had his father’s well-used gloves bronzed and in place of honor in his office. A reminder of where his success really came from and what it took to get there. 

Today gloves are a specialty item for work and recreation – hundreds of different kinds for the doctor, nurse, hunter, skier, golfer, roper and more. And yet, nothing is more sentimental than that old worn leather glove that held a set of reins, drove a tractor over the country side, or built the fences that remain standing today on homesteads across the country.

We can look at an old glove and know that in every crease, every worn out spot, every dark stain, there is a story to be found. And we could all perhaps recall the worn out gloves in our own ancestry and question if we can measure the same. 

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

Constitutional Changes

What is old is new again
Constitutional Changes
Power for one Day
By Stephen L. Wilmeth



             The whole thing starts over today.
            I’ll bet some of you out there in the hinterland have a bit of throbbing between the ears, but there are others of us who got to see another sunrise with our full senses. This is a big weekend in our neck of the woods weaning calves and getting ready to conclude our marketing season.
            We have made some changes to our process and hope changes are improvements and not just a new and different way to spend money. If anybody has been watching all the hoping and changing of our cow market, it has mostly been negative. Most of the substantive changes have come on the expense side of the ledger and not too many businesses can commit to a constant tightening before catastrophe arrives.
            Something has to give, but the idea of getting it done through the long arm of Uncle Sam doesn’t appeal to us. We’d rather deal with our own devices (if we could only discover what those might be).
            Constitutional Wishes
            There seems to be energy in the idea of a constitutional convention. Arkansas has joined the states supporting the idea. If it gains more momentum, we can all bet the news services will begin the warnings of doom and gloom and, without referencing the term overtly, rail yet more about all that newly coined democratic categorization, “deplorables”.
            Over the weeks since the election, it is astounding the number of folks who have openly declared their membership into that market basket of citizenry. In fact, it is becoming harder to find anybody in my neighborhood who voted for Rodham-Clinton. They seem to have gone underground or maybe even Canada.
            This all makes the constitutional convention, though, a more interesting discussion.
            I think I have some idea of what I would suggest if I was given the floor to offer motions. Better yet, if the power to set in stone just four points as amendments or clarifications would be a life time and epic opportunity. All I would want is four points.
            Certainly, there would be preference to debate the Supreme Court’s role as the moral arbiter of the branches of government because I think Ben Franklin’s original suggestion that the moral bastion of our government should be the primary role of the House of Representatives and not the Court. I would, however, defer this point because the same end could be gained through other avenues. For example, our Constitution cries for a “Definitions” amendment. That would be the first of my precious choices. In the definitions, the “Supreme Law” of the land would be defined solely as the Constitution and no succeeding laws or regulatory imagination would fill the proxy of such supreme standing. All litigated tests of constitutionality would be subject to originality. Another example of a definition would be to clarify what a “natural born Citizen” actually is. In my right to define this matter correctly, only those citizens born on American soil to a mother and a father of standing as American citizens would be eligible to be qualified for President. We must remember the Framers didn’t want any opportunity for a cloaked King George to reappear and restore a monarchial state in our homeland. Not everybody is in line to be considered for this important role. Natural born citizenry is most important, and, if American parents want their children to have a future opportunity to run for president, they had better be in the homeland at the time of that child’s birth.
            The second Constitutional change is the requirement of a balanced federal budget. I have long resisted this amendment because I had the ill conceived notion that good men would adhere to economic discipline. I no longer believe that. Washington has demonstrated pathos of history by altering the goodness in all but the rarest man. As such, no single elected official can now be trusted to act with such supreme authority. The citizenry has long been the literal cupboard to be robbed. That must be stopped. The citizenry is the cornerstone, not the eternal flowing federal purse.
            I would follow the second change with a third that could actually fit in the foregoing, but I take my responsibility seriously and remain committed to four simple changes. Amendment or change number three is the point that term limits must be instituted. Congressman should be elected to a single six year term and Senators should be appointed to a single ten year term. Serving in one capacity, however, does not preclude serving in the other and will be explained herein below.
            The fourth change is the need to repeal the 17th Amendment. The 17th Amendment has been a primary culprit in the theft of constitutionality. The argument of why can be found in the misguided notion of going to a popular vote for the presidency that now abounds in democratic circles. It is the same argument couched in a different subject. If anybody was actually taught American history, one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome was the matter of small state sovereignty. The small states were terrorized by the power exerted over them by the big, more populous states. In reality, there were only two mechanisms to maintain any degree of state self preservation. The first was the Electoral College and its oversight of the election of the president. The concept simply restated and weighed the state voting results. Future state California and original state New York are not allowed to supercede small state authority. The Electoral College works and it is critically important. No argument of popular vote should ever be considered.
            That is now doubly important because the 17th Amendment removed the second controlling mechanism to maintain and protect state rights. States don’t have dedicated representation. They did when the Constitution gave them two senators their legislatures appointed. They lost that important concept when they succumbed to the same argument that a popular vote for those positions was the better way. With popular vote, the upper chamber became the domain of special interests. There is no longer a dedicated advocate for state rights that must stand in front of state legislatures and remind the folks how good a job they have done protecting their interests. An assessment of the Senate today should reveal the Wilderness Society, the Chamber of Commerce, the NRA, and any number of other high powered, extra legal governing bodies actually control representation that was created to defend state rights. Special interests now fill that role and their priorities have nothing to do with the priorities of the states.
            What is old is new again
              So, my priorities would be the requirement to add a definition section to the Constitution, an amendment to balance the federal budget, an amendment to install term limits, and the rescission of the 17th Amendment and a return to originality with senators being appointed by the respective states and not a popular vote. That is fairly simplistic and allows the resumption of checks and balances without descending into minute details that must be avoided.
            Men still must govern but solid leaders should be kept wholesome longer.
            States must exercise their rights which includes the appointment of senators they want to represent them as dedicated and not conditional national representatives. They also have the right to appoint a retiring congressman into their senate position(s) if he demonstrates good leadership. In fact, the reliance on the House as a proving ground to reveal quality senatorial picks is a very good method to make those higher chamber selections. That is why cross over extensions in Washington should be allowed. No member, however, would be welcome following a House to Senate or Senate to House crossover combination.
            As for the myriad of matters such as the retention versus disposal of federal lands, the imbecilic expansion of the commerce clause, and the misuse of the first, second, tenth and other amendments, the expectation would arise that corrections would occur if the original checks along with these new changes were installed. Narrow definitions based on strict originality would help immensely.
            The realization, however, that men left to their own devices tend to be corruptive is a fact of history. Checks on their ability to spend the citizens’ national treasury must be installed even in wartime. They must also remember their place within the framework of the system and be disallowed to become lifetime politicians and rulers of self created fiefdoms. They need to come home and live among their constituents and experience first hand their leadership when their terms of office expire.
            Our Constitution remains a timeless document.
            Certainly, it can be amended, but any change must be done through the process as set forth rather than legislative or regulatory corruption. We are beset by corruption and it's time that it is remedied.

            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Happy New Year!”

Baxter Black - John’s Scrapbook

I stood with George, ears perked, eyes alert, like border collies waiting for the signal. John, (we’ll call him John), finally made his momentous decision known, “We’ll do a C-section! But, I want pictures for my scrapbook!” 

John was a senior veterinary student spending the week with me during calving season. George was my assistant.

The object of John’s attention stood quietly in the chute. She was a crossbred heifer, carefully selected for those quality criteria; four legs and a pulse. Although she weighed over 800 pounds, she wasn’t much taller than a bathroom sink and wide as a mobile home! Being nine months pregnant made you want to paint “GOODYEAR” on her side! 

John was well taught so George and I offered to be his surgical aides during the procedure. John had never actually performed one before but I had insisted that he call the shots. George and I were at his beck and call.
John chose to make a lateral incision in the left flank. We haltered and cast the beast on the ground.
Under John’s watchful eye we clipped and scrubbed and shaved the incision site. He asked for a drape. I had one, fortunately. I had been cutting hair with it in the bunkhouse! But it was clean.

Before he double-gloved up he asked if I would record his first C-section on film. I took his camera and snapped him poised above what appeared to be Plymouth Rock! He looked over his shoulder at me as I clicked on. Once he made his first incision, he peeled off the outer gloves and asked me to adjust the light. I moved George closer.

All was going well, as the photographs would show. John was doing the perfect imitation of a qualified veterinary surgeon. He penetrated the abdomen authoritatively and immediately the bladder of a blue whale welled up through the incision! John recoiled in terror as the mass came at him like a driver’s side air bag!

Lee Pitts - Phony Food

Vegetarians are always bragging about how much healthier a meat-free diet is and about famous vegetarians like Cesar Chavez, Twiggy and Michelangelo. They never mention that Hitler was a vegetarian and that people like Beethoven, Helen Keller, John Wayne and Abe Lincoln ate meat.

They’re always proclaiming that veg-heads are healthier than meat eaters without any hard evidence to prove it. Now comes a study that says that eating a vegetarian diet is not only NOT as healthy for the body, it can more often lead to mental deficiencies as well.

Soy is evidently not the savior after all, according to the University of Graz in Austria where they reviewed health interview surveys in Austria and in Europe. Those surveys showed that vegetarians are unhealthier and more mentally-disabled than meat eaters.

But we already knew that, didn’t we? Anyone who enjoys a chunk of tofu more than a ribeye steak or a juicy hamburger is missing a few taste buds, if you ask me. According to the study, vegetarians are more often ill, have a lower quality of life than meat eaters, have more heart attacks and are a greater burden on the health care system. Study coordinator, Nathalie Burkert, told the Austrian Times, “We did find that vegetarians suffer more from certain conditions like asthma, cancer and mental illnesses than people that eat meat.”

Because I’m concerned about the well being of my vegetarian friends I came up with an earthshaking concept. Just as vegetarians created knockoff meat products, we should turn the tables (or at least the dinner table) and make fake vegetables out of beef. After all, turnabout is fair play. Instead of chowing down on synthetic turkey called Tofurky, how does fake Tofurky made with real beef sound? We can call it Beefurkey. (Remind me to apply for a patent.) And our hamburger eggplant won’t make you gag or queasy to look at either. I wish you could see the counterfeit rutabagas I made from beef in my test kitchen. Believe me, they look a lot more delectable than their attempts at counterfeit bacon made with bean curds. Yuck!