Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Democracy and Tyranny

...One frequent claim is that our nation is a democracy. If we've become a democracy, it would represent a deep betrayal of our founders, who saw democracy as another form of tyranny.
In fact, the word democracy appears nowhere in our nation's two most fundamental documents, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The founders laid the ground rules for a republic as written in the Constitution's Article IV, Section 4, which guarantees "to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government."
John Adams captured the essence of the difference between a democracy and republic when he said, "You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe." Contrast the framers' vision of a republic with that of a democracy.
In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives.
As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent power. The restraint is upon the individual instead of the government.
Unlike that envisioned under a republican form of government, rights are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government. Here are a few quotations that demonstrate the contempt that our founders held for a democracy. James Madison, in Federalist Paper No. 10, wrote that in a pure democracy, "there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual."
At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph said that "in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy." Alexander Hamilton agreed, saying: "We are now forming a republican government. (Liberty) is found not in "the extremes of democracy but in moderate governments. ... If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy."
John Adams reminded us: "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."
John Marshall, the highly respected fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court observed, "Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos."

Just another processed food...

Rethinking land conservation to protect species that will need to move with climate change

...Many of the existing efforts to protect plant and animal species across the United States rely on information about where these species currently live. For example, if a rare bird species such as the snowy plover is found in a specific location along the Washington coast, conservationists try to protect it from human development where it lives. But as climate change disrupts the status quo, most animals and plants will need to move to cooler or otherwise more suitable environments to survive. How does this affect efforts to protect biodiversity? A new study by the University of Washington and The Evergreen State College analyzes whether accounting for climate change in conservation planning can protect future biodiversity more effectively than current approaches, and what the costs of implementing these solutions might be. The authors found that many species of animals and plants likely will need to migrate under climate change, and that conservation efforts will also need to shift to be effective. The paper published Jan. 27 in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. "We are going to need to protect different places if we want to protect biodiversity in the future," said lead author Joshua Lawler, a UW professor in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. "We need to think about where species will go as the climate changes, and then plan for that. The business-as-usual planning process isn't going to work."...MORE

We already have potential habitat - where the species doesn't currently reside - set aside for some endangered species. Just think how this could be expanded to include areas that might in the future be where species may relocate due to climate change. This is a beautiful way to expand the reach of the ESA, ain't it? I'll bet the federal agencies are already developing models to determine how these additional acreages can be identified. And, of course, you will need wildlife corridors to connect all these different types of habitat. The possibilities are endless. 

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Our tune today is Ashes of Love by Johnnie & Jack (1951). THE WESTERNER

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Democrats' draft climate bill charts path to carbon neutrality by 2050

Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday unveiled a draft of their new climate plan, which aims for the U.S. to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas pollution by 2050. The Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s Future Act, the draft of which is more than 600 pages long, would force dramatic changes in many sectors of the economy, from pushing utilities work toward 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050 to requiring the transportation sector to reduce emissions not just from cars but also from airliners. However, the legislation is much broader, pushing for cleaner buildings, efforts to force industry to clean up its supply chain and a host of new regulations targeting pollution from the energy industry. New details of the plan spell out a 28-year path for utilities to switch to clean sources of energy, requiring utilities to diminish their share of carbon-producing energy one-twenty-eighth each year. Those who are unable to keep pace with their goals could buy clean energy credits from other utilities, paying an increasing price each year for every kilowatt-hour produced by dirtier energy sources. But the legislation caps that price in 2050, in theory allowing companies to pay a high price if they don’t meet the 2050 carbon neutrality goal — something framers of the legislation argue is unlikely. Tuesday’s draft also included more specifics about Democrats’ plans for the transportation sector, including requiring automakers to reduce emissions from vehicles by 6 percent every year for five years, starting in 2026. Medium-duty passenger vehicles and heavy-duty vehicles would need to get 4 percent cleaner each year in the same time frame. The legislation also requires the aviation industry to clean up its act, as new and existing in-service aircraft engines would need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030. Other portions of the bill take aim at the fossil fuel industry, requiring better testing of groundwater that might be impacted by various oil and gas drilling methods, including fracking. It also eliminates Clean Air Act exemptions for emissions from oil and gas exploration and production. Utilities that rely on coal could have to meet stricter standards for disposing of the ash produced by burning it...MORE

Public Lands Council announces new Executive Director

The Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) applauds today’s announcement by the Public Lands Council (PLC) that Kaitlyn Glover has been selected as the new PLC Executive Director in Washington DC. WSGA Executive Vice President Jim Magagna noted the close relationship that WSGA has had with Glover since she accompanied him to DC as the PLC scholarship winner in 2012. “It has been exciting to follow Kaitlyn’s growing commitment to the livestock industry as her career has evolved.” Glover is originally from Wyoming and has been working in Sen John Barrasso’s office in DC. Aside from her strong Wyoming roots, Glover has experience in international affairs from her work with the agricultural semi-state authority in Ireland, Teagasc. Glover will serve as the chief lobbyist for the PLC and represent western ranchers on issues affecting their operations. Some items include protecting grazing on federal land, and includes the Clean Water Act, tax policy, the Endangered Species Act, property rights, and other matters that affect livestock production in the West...MORE

Farmers welcome new federal rule on water quality

Farmers and ranchers expressed support for a new federal rule to protect navigable waters under the Clean Water Act, saying the rule should offer certainty, transparency and a common-sense approach about how the rule would apply on the farm.
California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson said last week's release of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers "promises clear guidelines to help farmers maintain and improve water quality while retaining the flexibility they need to manage their land."
The Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which will take effect once published in the Federal Register, will replace the 2015 Waters of the United States rule that would have given federal agencies extensive authority to regulate routine farming activities. Farm Bureau advocated for a repeal and rewrite of the 2015 WOTUS rule because of its expansion of federal jurisdiction over water and land.
"The old WOTUS rule generated only confusion and litigation," Johansson said. "We hope the new rule will lead to a more cooperative approach that sees farmers and ranchers as partners in protection of natural resources. You won't find a stronger ally than farmers and ranchers when it comes to protecting land and natural resources, because they depend on those resources to produce food and farm products."
Following a 2017 presidential executive order, the EPA and Corps reviewed and then rescinded the previous WOTUS rule. In December 2018, the agencies released a draft of the newly proposed rule that revised the definition of waters of the U.S., to clarify federal authority under the Clean Water Act.
The revised Navigable Waters Protection Rule defines four categories of waters that are federally regulated: territorial seas and traditional navigable waters; perennial and intermittent tributaries to those waters; certain lakes, ponds and impoundments; and wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters. The new rule also describes what is not subject to federal control, such as features that only contain water due to rainfall; groundwater; many ditches; prior converted cropland; farm and stock watering ponds; and waste treatment systems.

Idaho Fish and Game wants to spend $408,000 a year to count wolves

Idaho's top wildlife official on Tuesday requested authorization from state lawmakers to spend $408,000 to count wolves. Idaho Department of Fish and Game Director Ed Schriever told the Legislature's budget-setting committee that the expense would become part of the agency's annual budget to keep a running tally of the number of wolves in the state. Idaho stopped counting wolves in 2015 after it was no longer required to do so by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service following the lifting of protections for wolves under the Endangered Species Act. The move prompted speculation ranging from the wolf population getting out control to wolves heading toward extermination...MORE

The Warren Fracking Ban: On Public Lands, and Heck, Everywhere Else

David L. Bahnsen

Editors Note: The following is the second installment of a three-part series adapted from David L. Bahnsen’s new book, Elizabeth Warren: How Her Presidency Would Destroy the Middle Class and the American Dream. Part I is here.

The subject of energy production on public land has been controversial for many years, with many realists recognizing that significant revenues are available to fiscally strapped state governments via land-lease deals with energy producers. Indeed, oil and gas leases alone generated $1.1 billion of revenue for states in 2018, despite a fall in the number of acres under lease. Of that $500 million went directly into supporting hospitals and public schools in states that depend on the revenue. If that were not significant enough, oil and gas development accounted for 284,000 jobs last year on federal land alone and contributed $60 billion of output to the national economy. Total energy production on federal lands and waters generates a stunning $11.3 billion of annual revenue, with the major beneficiaries being Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico, where, observant spectators may note, no Ivy League universities are based, and where cosmopolitan liberalism is not exactly headquartered.
Elizabeth Warren’s response?
Any serious effort to address climate change must include public lands. As president, I would issue an executive order on Day One banning all new fossilfuel leases, including for drilling or fracking offshore and on public lands.
She buries her extreme policy intentions in patently false claims that the current administration is “busy selling off our public lands to the oil, gas, and coal industries for pennies on the dollar — expanding fossil-fuel extraction that destroys pristine sites across the country while pouring an accelerant on our climate crisis.” Even as the quantity of acreage leased for production has been declining year over year, revenue has risen, owing to better yield. Her fear-mongering papers over an ignorance that would lead her to adopt a policy with a dangerous economic impact and absolutely no environmental benefit.
The “Keep It in the Ground Act of 2017,” which Warren cosponsored (and which was dead on arrival in the Senate), was the result of a radical movement that opposes all fossil-fuel development. That movement unsuccessfully lobbied the Obama administration to issue the moratorium that Warren now supports. Even the Obama administration concluded the suggested policy would be destructive and resisted the very efforts that Warren and her Senate colleagues now support. The pendulum swing to the Democratic party’s embrace of economically destructive, environmentally nonconstructive policy ideas has been rapid, to say the least.
True to form, Warren finds a way to blame “profits” for the “problem” of lease revenue helping to subsidize hospitals and schools in the middle-class centers of flyover states: “It is wrong to prioritize corporate profits over the health and safety of our local communities,” she said, as a justification for her proposed drilling ban. This is a textbook case of claiming to protect the very people her policies will most harm, and there’s no ambiguity about it.
I join many left-wing environmentalists in opposing subsidies to fossil-fuel producers (for entirely different reasons). I, of course, have to hold that position, since I oppose all subsidies to all economic actors, believing that the government has no right to pick losers and winners. In the case of federal land leasing, there are billions of untapped dollars, which belong to the citizens of the United States, and which our government has not just the right but the duty to exploit for the benefit of its citizenry. Innumerable checks and balances exist on how these leases are administered, and reasonable people can disagree on the particulars regarding the exact quantity of leases and the amount of acreage, and so on. What is beyond reason is the idea that all public lands should become devoid of economic yield instantly. Such a move would do nothing but shift the production capacity from federal land to private land, all the while decimating the states that would be unable to reap any benefit from their resources.

Burning Man reveals 2020 temple design

Colorado architect Renzo Verbeck and artist Sylvia Adrienne Lisse have designed an eight-pointed angular structure to serve as the temple at the 2020 Burning Man Festival. 
The video presentation is below:

Colorado lawmakers might vote on wolf reintroduction before citizens do

Before voters decide in November whether to let wolves be reintroduced in western Colorado, state lawmakers may take their own vote on the question. Right now, however, neither supporters nor opponents of the ballot measure are happy with the new Senate proposal. Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, is championing a bill to reintroduce gray wolves to the state, hoping it will spur more discussion and lead the different interest groups to find more common ground than a ballot measure is able to do. Donovan introduced the legislation late Friday because she said the situation has changed since the wolf reintroduction ballot initiative was first proposed, with wildlife officials finding evidence of wolves living in northwest Colorado and in Moffat County. The bill calls for reintroduction based on a plan from the parks and wildlife commission to begin by Dec. 31, 2025 — two years later than outlined in the ballot question. It could be delayed if the state has not yet identified a source of revenue to pay for damages caused by the wolves, and it could be canceled if the population in Colorado is self-sustaining by that time...MORE

EDITORIAL: If the Green New Deal can't make it in Portland, it can't make it anywhere

...In 2018, voters in Portland, Oregon, passed a ballot measure allowing the city to finance the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund. This fund can now raise cash from a tax on large retailers, defined as corporations earning $1 billion in revenue nationally and half a million dollars locally. It is intended to create “green jobs and healthy homes” and to implement the city’s Climate Action Plan “in a manner that supports social, economic, and environmental benefits for all Portlanders, including the development of a diverse and well-trained workforce and contractor pool in the field of clean energy.”
What this means in practice is as vague as that description suggests. Portland is expecting to rake in $60 million annually through this tax, and it has just six months to begin allocating the funds.
Willamette Week, a local alt-weekly, reports that the city still hasn’t developed any metrics with which to judge whether it is a success. A nine-person committee is in charge of deciding where the funds go based on applications from qualified nonprofit organizations, but there are no strict guidelines governing what it does with this slush fund, and there's no mechanism for holding the committee accountable.
As the Week notes, the initiative delineates that 40% to 60% of tax revenue ought to go to renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, but 5% — again, of a multimillion-dollar fund — is reserved for “future innovation.”
The initiative’s supporters don't hide the fact that their aim is not to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As occurs with most bombastic grabs for tax revenue, industries lobbied the city for exemptions. Ultimately, some construction and waste management firms curried favor with the city. But rather than complain about cronyism or even lost revenue to advance green energy, the bill’s most vocal proponents lamented the loss of cash handouts to “black, indigenous, and other communities of color.”
Conservatives feared that Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is really just a socialist Trojan horse from the start — green on the exterior but red on the inside. Her since-ousted chief of staff confirmed as much after critics were denounced by the Left as climate denialists.
“The interesting thing about the Green New Deal is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all,” Saikat Chakrabarti, told the Washington Post. “Do you guys think of it as a climate thing? Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”
What's amazing, though, is that what supporters are billing as a "climate justice tax" is a very small endeavor compared with the Green New Deal. Whereas one would involve spending $60 million a year on various green projects, the Green New Deal would require tens of trillions of dollars in new spending. Among other things, the federal proposal advanced by Ocasio-Cortez calls for moving entirely to renewable energy, from the current 17%, within a decade; building "smart" power grids; upgrading every single building in the country to make them more energy-efficient; and overhauling transportation...


Despite opposition, border wall construction gains ground in New Mexico

SANTA TERESA, New Mexico (Border Report) — An imposing 30-foot steel barrier is rising above the southern New Mexico desert, part of the Trump administration’s push to wall-off the Mexican border. Workers on Friday could be seen digging trenches and fastening steel bollards to a concrete base several miles east of Columbus, New Mexico, an empty stretch where in years past U.S. Border Patrol agents often reported catching drug smugglers and groups of migrants coming over from Mexico. The structure is replacing miles of squat steel vehicle barrier easily bypassed by smugglers on foot. Its height also poses a challenge both to migrants and drug cartel members who’ve used ladders to get over sections of older 18-foot steel bollard in nearby Santa Teresa, New Mexico. “Smuggling organizations prefer to use these rural areas because they believe there’s going to be an opportunity for them to be more successful. So erecting a fence of this size that is so robust that can potentially just deter these (incursions) is a big plus for us,” said Mario Escalante, acting supervisory agent of the U.S. Border Patrol El Paso Sector. Contractors say they’ve built 6 miles of border wall since August and have 40 more miles to go. The area for years has presented smugglers an opportunity to reach New Mexico Highway 9 to Columbus, then Interstate 10 West to Tucson and Phoenix in Arizona, and eventually, California. Unlike other parts of the country where federal officials are struggling to obtain right-of-way over private land, wall construction in New Mexico has been swift. The upgraded barrier here sits on federal land...MORE

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

From 1934 we have Hold Him Down by the Sons of the Pioneers. THE WESTERNER

Hogs, cattle fall daily limits on coronavirus fears

U.S. hog and cattle contracts fell their daily trading limits on Monday, hitting multimonth lows on fears about the spread of a coronavirus in China. “If we thought China’s coronavirus was making the media rounds late last week, it’s a full-fledged media frenzy this morning,” INTL FCStone said in a note to clients. “The public’s concern there is reminiscent of prior SARS and bird flu events, both of which resulted in slowed Chinese travel, restaurant consumption, and a general slowdown in commerce.” April live cattle futures reached their lowest price since Oct. 23. The contract dropped its daily limit of 3¢, ending at 121.300¢ per pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. CME March feeder cattle futures dropped their limit of 4.5¢ to 135.175¢ per pound and touched their lowest level since Sept. 24. CME February lean hog futures fell 1.275¢ to 65.95¢ per pound. The most-active April contract ended down its daily trading limit of 3¢ at 70.450¢, hitting its lowest since Aug. 7. The livestock markets will trade with expanded limits on Tuesday...MORE

Coronavirus Sends Panic Through Oil Markets

Oil continued to slide on Monday, with Brent dropping well below $60 per barrel, as panic around the coronavirus continues to mushroom. close [x] Remaining Time -0:17 The number of casualties in China continues to climb, as do cases of the virus elsewhere in the world. The Chinese government has tried to quarantine Wuhan and other cities, affecting tens of millions of people. Multinational businesses in China are also implementing lockdown procedures. Brent has cratered by around $7 per barrel in a week, a steep drop that is “100% down to the coronavirus,” Edward Marshall, a commodities trader at Global Risk Management, told the Wall Street Journal. “I think we’re close to peak hysteria, so yes the move is justified. We’re in full panic mode.” The Economist Intelligence Unit said that the coronavirus could reduce China’s GDP growth rate this year by 0.5 to 1 percentage point. China’s GDP was already expected to slow to a three-decade low below 6 percent this year. S&P Global Ratings said that the effect of the virus could balloon to a 1.2 percentage point reduction in GDP. “A supply glut of fuel in China would filter through to the rest of the world through exports and on that basis the market is reacting in this defensive manner,” Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S, said in a statement. “The Saudis can try to stem the sell-off but while its being driven by the need to mitigate losses that will be difficult to control.”...MORE

Cowgirls of Color riding into OKC to debunk stereotypes & share Western heritage

The Cowgirls of Color will gallop into Oklahoma City to host an education program at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum during Black History Month. The Cowgirls of Color, a group of women from Maryland who have a passion for riding horses, are on a mission to debunk stereotypes about black women, and will host an education program at the Western Heritage Museum from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5. The group formed in 2016 as the first all-female rodeo team to participate in the Bill Pickett International Rodeo, according to a Western Heritage Museum news release. “The Cowgirls of Color have set out to use their national platform to raise awareness in minority communities about rodeo, equestrian events and the Western lifestyle through various outreach and community programs,” the news release said. “What makes their journey unique is that only one of the women was exposed to riding horses at a young age. Many of the women in the group began riding later in life and are proof that it’s never too late to follow a dream and they hope to inspire girls and women of color and of all ages to ride.”...MORE

Monday, January 27, 2020

Supreme Court Allows Trump Admin to Implement ‘Public Charge’ Test for Immigrants

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday to approve the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule for new immigrants. The justices approved the rule by a vote of 5-4 along ideological lines. “Public charge” has in recent years been defined as a person dependent on cash assistance programs. The Trump administration updated the definition in August 2019 to include people likely to require non-cash government benefits, and sought to implement a policy limiting the number of new immigrants who would require government assistance such as food stamps or Medicaid. Lower courts have repeatedly blocked the new policy from going into effect. In early January the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals implemented a nationwide injunction against the policy, which Monday’s Supreme Court decision overrules. “Throughout our history, self-reliance has been a core principle in America,” then-acting director of U.S. Customs and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli said at a 2019 press conference regarding the new policy. “The virtues of perseverance, hard work, and self-sufficiency laid the foundation of our nation and have defined generations of immigrants seeking opportunity in the United States.” President Trump has made immigration reform a centerpiece of his agenda, seeking to slow legal immigration and halt illegal immigration to the U.S. In one of the latest developments, on Thursday the State Department announced new guidelines aimed at cracking down on “birth tourism.” Under the Constitution, babies born in the U.S. receive citizenship even if the parents are foreign citizens visiting the country on a tourist visa. Around 10,000 babies were born to parents of foreign citizens in the U.S. as of 2017, the latest year for which data is available...MORE

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Its Swingin' Monday and we have Snatchin' and Grabbin' by Merrill Moore 1954

Mr. Peanut had to die

Mr. Peanut is dead; long live Mr. Peanut.
Planters has killed off the beloved branding device, or rather the anthropomorphic legume has “sacrificed himself” in a humanlike act of selflessness. The tragedy occurred in a 30-second pre-Super-Bowl spot that features Mr. Peanut and his friends (Matt Walsh and Wesley Snipes, for some reason) swerving off a cliff to avoid hitting an armadillo with their Nutmobile (exactly what it sounds like).
The branch the trio cling to threatens to snap, so Mr. Peanut lets go — and good night, sweet snack.

The unexpected demise of Mr. Peanut is a marketing gimmick, of course, and boy, does it work. The very existence of this column is a sign of complete surrender to the corporate geniuses who dispatched, at the age of 104, a mascot who was basically a protein-packed brother to Mr. Monopoly.
Humanity’s first white flag to this arrived in the form of tweets. Many came from real, live, non-peanut people: “Will his body be … planted or roasted?” one mused. Many others, though, came from Mr. Peanut’s band of brothers — or is it brand?
“Always classy, always crunchy, always cleaned up nicely!” Mr. Clean offered mournfully.
“What? NO! We’re dropping a Reverse Card on this,” UNO, the card game, cried out.
Even PETA laid down a virtual rose for what it called “a splendid source of protein to vegans everywhere. ”
This was like “Toy Story,” only for corporate Twitter — the accounts assembled as a cast of characters, each one more powerful when surrounded by others than they could ever be alone...
Mr. Peanut might have perished alone as a sales ploy, but his buddies leaped in to save him — and now everyone, including the deceased, looks more vital than ever.
This week’s spot is a teaser for a “funeral” to take place during the Super Bowl proper, and Planters is urging everyone to attend. Imagine the Geico Gecko weeping over his fallen comrade’s grave just after the first quarter, when up from the ground springs the first sprout of Mr. Next-Gen Peanut.
The brands have created their own little world, and the rest of us just live in it.

Using a borrowed laptop

So things are slower for me and may look a little different to you.

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy (revisited)

Good and evil - the tale of two trees 

 by Julie Carter

In the lawlessness of the Western territories of the 1800s, the hanging tree was a symbol of wrong deeds and frontier justice. Murder and horse thieving topped the justifications for a noose around the neck.

Most Western towns all seemed to have an ominous tree somewhere on the outskirts that gained legendary notoriety for the wrongs that were righted at the end of rope.

Whether by law or by vigilante, the woeful lure of that crude punishment has been written into verse and lore. In 1959, Marty Robbins sang the theme song for the movie by the same name, The Hanging Tree."

"And I seem to hear the night wind cry, ... Hang your faded dreams on the hangin' tree!"

In a field of no particular distinction, stand an ancient elm tree and an equally aged oak tree. Both are annually plowed and planted around and given a reverence equal to their legends. 

Local history documents that the elm was a hanging tree and for that "honor" it has never been removed. While not currently in use as such, locals who remain of a conservative rural mindset feel that one never knows when the need might again arise.

There is also the matter of endeavoring to not disturb the ghosts said to inhabit the near proximity of the elm. The belief is that those spirits have never been able to go home after their earthly crime and subsequent dramatic end of life. 

Harvesting the peanut crop before the following crop of coastal hay is now always done in daylight hours.

Prior to that timetable plan, work was frequently done in the cool of the night. That changed after a considerable number of hired men unexpectedly quit and refused to return to the area. 

They all left hurriedly wearing the same shade of pale on their faces and muttering that things were "just not right." The words bruja (witch) and fantasma (ghost) were chattered in fear as some workers headed back toward the border.

The neighboring oak tree has a different history. A regal specimen, it stands out among its kin in an area full of oak trees.

A decade or so ago, the family that owns the land where this oak stands decided the difficulty in plowing around it had become an unnecessary nuisance. The old oak had to go.

One of the brothers was sent to the field with a large dozer to push the tree down in preparation for a chain saw and hauling event. 

This man was an experienced equipment operator and all indications were that the job would go quickly.

He pushed and pushed with the dozer, but the only visible results were that the bark was just slightly scuffed. He went back to the house and explained his dilemma.

Being part of the rural Bible Belt of the area, they naturally determined their next step would be to call on their preacher and seek some guidance from a higher power. 

The preacher was old, even for that line of work, but had a good memory of area history.

He knew well the story of that particular oak tree. He said the oak, which has a small pool beside it, had at one time been the baptismal spot for the small congregation of the first settlers to the area. 

That use ended only after the church was built and other facilities became available. 

He told the farmers that the oak and the surrounding ground had been consecrated by the old congregation. The tree and the ground was sacred and that was why the oak could not be pushed, even with very large equipment.

Today the oak remains standing in the middle of the field, unmolested.

The landowner, nearing 90, says that when he sells the home place, he will include a caveat in the title saying that the old oak is not to be disturbed. 

For the elm tree he has no similar plans or concerns. "The elm and it's ghosts will take care of themselves," he said.

Let’s Fall in Love Again

Age of Parasynonyms
Let’s Fall in Love Again
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Our District 2 representative sent an email out Friday asking for input on priorities on which Congress should be working. The choices were a bit perplexing. They included border security, education, energy, health care, immigration, jobs, trade and vets. The interesting part was why such characterization represented as words with actual definitions was used. From the standpoint of old-fashioned phonics and basic enunciation, they appeared to be reasonable facsimiles of issues of our time.
            The confusion comes when the politics of Washington and the news of the week are endlessly looped across every aspect of media. There must be a huge misunderstanding. The representative suggested eight priorities and the vote apparently is intended to establish which should receive most attention. That makes sense, but the realization is this cannot be a truthful request.
Why … because the real issues of her caucus since the day she stood and mouthed the oath of office have been Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, and, of course, Trump.
Age of Parasynonyms
Perhaps we are witnessing nothing more than the Age of Parasynomyms, you know, the period of time in history when the general uses of words have close similarities, but not exactly matching definitions.
What else could it be? You hear people talking and you just think you understand the context, but, the next thing you know, the initial take is meaningless. It is tangential to the context of your initial interpretation. It is Greek when you thought it was English. The case in point is the ongoing business of the people in the halls of congress.
Those officers of shattered oaths are sailing along spending a $$trillion a year more than they are collecting each of whom is telling the folks back home how good they are doing representing their interests. Just keep sending that little stipend of money so I can do the good job for each of you they say with a straight face.
And, they all become wealthy.
And, they pass laws that eventually seek to harm and disarm us rather than enhance or protect our lives, our businesses, and our heritage. Of course, we are expected to pay freight for it all either in direct deposit or long-term mortgages. We aren’t smart enough to really understand the real implications. We have heard that for the last three months as the newest rendition of the Three Stooges preside over the business of the peoples’ chamber reading their staff creation of looping script.
They don’t even honor our vote and they certainly don’t understand who we actually defending against in our stance on the Second Amendment. Hey, we pick our own trash up and scrub our own toilets!
Above all … we don’t kill our babies.
Let’s Fall in Love Again
There exists out there in the realm of the most common a stance of decency and goodwill. Maybe it’s not a natural tendency as much as it is a learned concept. Good mentorship is vital, if indeed, not the most important aspect in this journey we find ourselves.
So are influences.
All those things that collectively make us unique fit together in balanced form, but the balance is precarious. Work, song, laughter, latitudes of patience, and devotion, both spiritual and shared, all play a part.
What fits me may not fit you. For example, I tend to kick the horse shit out of the trailer when I unload whereas you may choose to leave it in order not to stain your boots, but that’s your call and I’ll try not to criticize it. Most of your decisions the rest of us just don’t need to be a part of and you don’t need to be part of mine.
We need to talk, whisper, about the things that are important but may be hard to say. Maybe we don’t even know what they are until we try to say them. With or without twin fiddles, we need to dance, too. Maybe that is an attempt to reset to go back and time and again rebalance and remember.
From time to time, though, a long walk in the sand barefooted somewhere would do us all a lot of good. It’d even be better if that sand wound up in an unmade bed.
Maybe it’s just a dang good time to fall in love again.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Daylight’s coming … Vamonos!”