Friday, November 24, 2017

Pruitt kicks out professors, researchers under federal grant money rule

Charles Werth was nearing the end of his first three-year term as an adviser to the Environmental Protection Agency, and had hopes of being kept on for another stint under President Trump. But the University of Texas professor also recently used federal grant money to study drinking water treatment. That, he said, seemed to be enough to sink his chances at another term on the Scientific Advisory Board, after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said anyone taking agency money couldn’t also be advising. “I knew Pruitt had wanted more industrial representation on the board, and my first three-year term was ending,” Mr. Werth told the Washington Times. EPA officials said “they were re-upping me, nominating me for a second three-year term. But I knew there were signs it wouldn’t go through.” Mr. Werth is one of dozens of professors and researchers who were either kicked off EPA panels or who didn’t get new terms under Mr. Pruitt, and many of them are victims of the new grant money rule. In many cases, their work for the EPA had little or nothing to do with the research they were conducting at their universities, but the Trump administration’s blanket ban bars anyone who’s using federal grants, regardless of how the money is spent. For some members, they got virtually no warning, learning of their dismissal just as Mr. Pruitt announced the sweeping change Oct. 31. Mr. Pruitt and his supporters say the move will help prevent any conflicts of interest on the committees, which review agency-produced science and act as something of a top-level peer-review system before the federal government proposes new regulations, adjusts existing ones, or scraps rules. “Whatever science comes out of EPA shouldn’t be political science,” the administrator said late last month. “From this day forward, EPA advisory committee members will be financially independent from the agency.”...more

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Pilgrims and Property Rights - video

A Lost Thanksgiving Lesson

By John Stossel

Had today's political class been in power in 1623, tomorrow's holiday would have been called "Starvation Day" instead of Thanksgiving. Of course, most of us wouldn't be alive to celebrate it.
Every year around this time, schoolchildren are taught about that wonderful day when Pilgrims and Native Americans shared the fruits of the harvest. But the first Thanksgiving in 1623 almost didn't happen.
Long before the failure of modern socialism, the earliest European settlers gave us a dramatic demonstration of the fatal flaws of collectivism. Unfortunately, few Americans today know it.
The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share the work and produce equally.
That's why they nearly all starved.
When people can get the same return with less effort, most people make less effort. Plymouth settlers faked illness rather than working the common property. Some even stole, despite their Puritan convictions. Total production was too meager to support the population, and famine resulted. This went on for two years.
"So as it well appeared that famine must still ensue the next year also, if not some way prevented," wrote Gov. William Bradford in his diary. The colonists, he said, "began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length after much debate of things, (I) (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land."
In other words, the people of Plymouth moved from socialism to private farming. The results were dramatic.
"This had very good success," Bradford wrote, "for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many."
Because of the change, the first Thanksgiving could be held in November 1623.
What Plymouth suffered under communalism was what economists today call the tragedy of the commons. The problem has been known since ancient Greece. As Aristotle noted, "That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it."
If individuals can take from a common pot regardless of how much they put in it, each person has an incentive to be a free-rider, to do as little as possible and take as much as possible because what one fails to take will be taken by someone else. Soon, the pot is empty.
What private property does -- as the Pilgrims discovered -- is connect effort to reward, creating an incentive for people to produce far more. Then, if there's a free market, people will trade their surpluses to others for the things they lack. Mutual exchange for mutual benefit makes the community richer.
Here's the biggest irony of all: The U.S. government has yet to apply the lesson to its first conquest, Native Americans. The U.S. government has held most Indian land in trust since the 19th century. This discourages initiative and risk-taking because, among other reasons, it can't be used as collateral for loans. On Indian reservations, "private land is 40 to 90 percent more productive than land owned through the Bureau of Indian Affairs," says economist Terry Anderson, executive director of PERC. "If you drive through western reservations, you will see on one side cultivated fields, irrigation, and on the other side, overgrazed pasture, run-down pastures and homes. One is a simple commons; the other side is private property. You have Indians on both sides. The important thing is someone owns one side."
Secure property rights are the key. When producers know their future products are safe from confiscation, they take risks and invest. But when they fear they will be deprived of the fruits of their labor, they will do as little as possible.
That's the lost lesson of Thanksgiving.

7 Thanksgiving Traditions Environmentalists Want To Ban

Environmentalists have a long history of demanding that anything fun be shut down, so The Daily Caller News Foundation decided to celebrate Thanksgiving by looking at the top seven essential traditions green groups want banned. After all, Thanksgiving isn’t just a time to be with your family, it’s also a time to throw away traditions in the name of going “green,” according to environmental groups. So, before you carve the tofu turkey and dig into the organic kale pie, think about these seven Thanksgiving traditions that environmentalists want to get rid of. 1: Eating Turkey And All Other Meat Environmentalists are terrified of all the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions generated by cooking meats, including Thanksgiving turkeys. “Studies are emerging that whether the meat is grown locally or far away, it still requires a lot of resources, including carbon resources,” Mike Tidwell, head of the environmental group Chesapeake Climate Action Network, told The Baltimore Sun. “If you really want to have a low-impact diet in terms of change, then you just have to eat a lot less.” Tidwell claims raising beef generates the most CO2, but also says farm-raised fowl, like turkeys, are “still high-impact.” Activists claim at the rate we’re munching through burgers alone, the world will need to use 42 percent of all land to meet future demand. 2: Long Drives To Visit The Family The liberal blog ClimateProgress wants you to use mass transport to get to your turkey dinner this Thanksgiving to avoid spewing out excess CO2. But there’s actually a big debate about whether mass transit actually reduces carbon emissions. Even though gasoline is at records lows, environmentalists are already running campaigns discouraging summer road trips. Green politicians have spent years trying to convince Americans to drive less, with extremely limited results. A study by Duke University researchers found that taking the bus instead of a car causes a small reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, but only if the average bus is more than 63 percent filled with passengers. However, in practice, buses only rarely have that many passengers and thus tend to create more emissions than moving a similar number of people by car...more

Ammon Bundy's personal bodyguard sentenced to probation with community service

By Maxine Bernstein

Wesley Kjar, personal bodyguard for Ammon Bundy during the initial days of the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, sought forgiveness Wednesday during his sentencing for federal conspiracy, saying he made a grave mistake. Kjar said he left the refuge after five days because he objected to the direction the occupation was headed, and drove straight to Salt Lake City, Utah, to try to meet with leaders of the Mormon church to convince them to help negotiate a peaceful resolution. When that failed, he said he urged occupation spokesman Robert "LaVoy" Finicum to at least get rid of the firearms at the refuge, a plea made two days before Finicum was shot and killed by police after speeding away from a police stop on Jan. 26, 2016. Kjar, 33, was among the first group of defendants to plead guilty to conspiracy to impede federal officers, a felony, on June 24, 2016, and the last of the less culpable defendants to be sentenced. He's agreed to pay $3,000 in restitution...more

George Washington

""...and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint committee requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November, next to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being Who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, or will be ...that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to there becoming a nation... And also that we then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions... to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a governmment of wise, just and Constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed...(and) to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among us...given under my hand at the City of New York, the 3rd day of October in the Year of Our Lord 1789."
-- George Washington
(1732-1799) Founding Father, 1st US President, 'Father of the Country'
Source: in his First Thanksgiving Proclamation before the Congress on October 3, 1789

 to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a governmment of wise, just and Constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed

My how we've strayed

Ranch Radio Song of The Day

We'll dust off an old 78 and play you a pretty waltz, The Sweetest Fall Of All, recorded in 1952 by Jimmy Thomason.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Senate Republicans appropriate 7X more than Trump requested for land acquisition and Udall wants to double that

The Senate Appropriations Committee has posted the Interior Appropriations bill.

There are many things of interest there, but one is surely the $400 million for land acquisition. Trump requested $64 million.

Not satisfied with the $400 million, NM Senator Tom Udall says he wants to double that to $800 million. They can't take care of what they've got, but Udall wants more, more, more. But he is a liberal Democrat in the hip pocket of the environmental community. Why are the Republicans doing this? Can you think of any other program where they are appropriating almost 7 times more than the President's request?

Public Access Dispute Solved in Central Oregon

MISSOULA, Mont. -( The public will continue to have access to 43,000 acres of central Oregon’s prime elk country thanks to a group effort including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Bureau of Land Management, Crook County, Oregon Hunters Association (OHA) and the Waibel Ranches, LLC.“We are pleased that all parties could come together to provide continued access to a part of Oregon revered by elk hunters and others,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Opening or improving access to our public lands lies at the core of our conservation mission. We hear time and time again from our members how important it is that we carry out this public access work.” At issue was what was thought to be a public road through private land south of Prineville in the Crooked River drainage that provided access to the southern end of Ochoco National Forest. RMEF provided title work and research that showed continuous public use of the road since the late 1800s. Waibel Ranches, LLC facilitated the construction of the new road at their own expense and at their own initiative. They did so in order to provide access to the same public lands as a means to reduce the liability, trespass, poaching and littering associated with public travel along the old Teaters Road.

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Here's another new release: Leona & Ron Williams - Ain't Singin' The Blues No More. The tune is on their 2017 CD Travel Down This Road With Me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

How Ryan Bundy sees the West

Tay Wiles

When Ryan Bundy walked to the podium on the morning of Wednesday Nov. 15, he wore a black suit and tie and carried a yellow legal pad. “I feel that it’s important if you’re here to judge me, that you get to know me,” he said to the jury seated in front of him, at the start of an emotional monologue that lasted over an hour in which he nearly broke into tears several times. Bundy displayed a photo of himself with his wife, six daughters and two sons, projected on screens throughout the courtroom. “This is my ID,” he said. More than a driver’s license or other government-issued identification, “this is who I am.”

...Ryan Bundy’s statements focused on the federal government’s involvement in Western land management and echoed long-standing movements to wrest public lands from federal control. “(Prosecutors) want to say the government owns the land,” he said. “Right there is the crux of the issue.” In several Western states, lawmakers have pushed to transfer federal land to state control — a movement known as the Sagebrush Rebellion that began in the 1970s, which has reemerged in recent years. In Bundy’s West, true public land would be owned by the state of Nevada, not the United States. The Bundys say the 2014 standoff was a peaceful protest in response to the federal government trying to control land that doesn’t belong to them.

For Bundy, this trial is not about the alleged threats of violence, but about property rights. “There’s a big difference between a right and a privilege,” Bundy explained in court. “(The government) wants to say it’s only a privilege to graze (livestock).” With this, he kicked at an age-old Western debate over how grazing permits should be defined: whether they are inalienable rights or privileges bestowed by government that can be legally curtailed against ranchers’ wishes. This debate has long been a flashpoint of Western anger. Part of the argument for equating public land grazing permits to rights is that for decades ranchers have used permits as capital or collateral for loans and improving the value of real estate. Proponents say that makes them similar to personal property, akin to rights, rather than a mere license that can be revoked. The standoff stemmed from the government retiring the Bundys’ grazing permit, which was an affront to the defendants’ worldview. “These (grazing) rights are real property,” Bundy argued. “They belong to us.”

Wiles also walks us through the prosecutor's problems

But the prosecutors also grappled with allegations that they have withheld evidence related to government conduct during the standoff. It recently surfaced that the government used a surveillance camera to monitor the Bundy residence and surrounding areas, and may have had an FBI SWAT team on hand during the impoundment. The government first told the court it did not acquire recordings of defendants speaking with their attorneys from jail. Later, they revealed the prosecution did in fact have recordings of a co-defendant. (That defendant, Blaine Cooper of Arizona, has already pled guilty and is not one of the four in the current trial.) These and other equivocations by the government are grounds for dismissal or mistrial, defense lawyers say. More questions around the government’s conduct during the impoundment, as well as what information they may be withholding related to this case, will continue to plague prosecutors in weeks to come.

What does Kane County want in a redrawn Grand Staircase-Escalante monument?

When Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced he would visit Kanab last spring, Kane County officials knew they had a rare opportunity to influence the changes he might suggest for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The 1996 designation of the 1.9-million-acre monument still angers many of their friends and neighbors. While the County Commission didn’t have a formal proposal, local officials wanted something in writing to offer Zinke, according to County Attorney Robert Van Dyke. So Kane County staff pulled together a map indicating roughly 200,000 acres that county officials believe are worthy of monument status — a heart-shaped patch framed by Paria and Cottonwood washes, and the canyon country north of the Escalante River near Boulder. Although the county presented the map to Zinke on May 10 at a closed-door meeting, officials have refused to release it, arguing it’s an incomplete draft that could mislead the public. But The Salt Lake Tribune has obtained a version of the map from state public lands officials under a second open-records request. The map offers a glimpse into how Zinke may have arrived at his recommendations, which remain shrouded in secrecy, to the frustration of local businesses and pro-monument groups...more

The American Redoubt Series: An Introduction

A nonjudgmental analysis of the political movement that has taken root in the Northwest

 By Ben Olson

In the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing an ongoing series of articles focusing a spotlight on the American Redoubt movement. Of all the many suggestions we receive for story ideas, one of the most common is to explore what the Redoubt movement is all about.
On the surface, it’s a loosely based political movement centered around the belief that the Northwest – including Idaho, Montana, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and Wyoming – is an ideal place to build a safe haven in which to stave off the collapse of society. Because of the low population density and absence of major natural disasters, as well as a high number of libertarian-minded Christians, followers believe this region would be the best choice to be set up when “the shit hits the fan.”
Underneath, it’s much more complicated than that.
This series of articles will attempt to explain the movement in a nonjudgmental, nonpartisan way. We will examine the tenets that make-up the Redoubt movement individually and let you, the reader, decide what to make of it.
As we, the editorial staff, have agreed, the American Redoubt movement can be roughly explained by examining four pieces that make up the whole.
1. Self-reliance and preparation.
2. Geographic isolation.
3. Religion.
4. Political ideology.
We will also explore the history of the movement, the origination of the term “American Redoubt,” and finally, we will touch on the impact that the movement has had on the region, including those who follow the movement and those who are critical of it.

Ag Commodity Transporters Get 90-day Waiver on ELD Implementation

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has placed a 90-day delay on the implementation of electronic logging devices (ELD) for agriculture commodities. The announcement was made by DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) at a briefing on Nov. 20. FMCSA still plans to move forward with the ELD rule on Dec. 18, 2017. ELDs are a record keeping device synchronized to a truck engine that logs information digitally. In real-time an ELD records data such as time spent on the road, miles driven, location and engine hours. A 90-day waiver for agriculture commodities will begin on Dec. 18 in an effort for FMCSA to evaluate issues revolving around the hours of service requirements. The primary concern for agriculture has come from livestock haulers.
Organizations like the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), have questioned the hours of service mandates affiliated with the ELD...more

Ranch Radio's Tribute to Mel Tillis - 9 Tunes

We lost Mel Tillis Sunday and I've selected 9 songs that span his illustrious career: Walk On Boy, Sawmill, Midnight Me And The Blues, What Did I Promise Her Last Night, I Got The Hoss, Cottonmouth, Coca Cola Cowboy, Send Me Down To Tucson, and the strangest song he ever recorded, Veil of White Lace.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Bundy keeps selling cattle as BLM contemplates new roundup

Jennifer Yachnin, E&E News reporter

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has spent the last 21 months in federal custody, but his cattle remain home on the range, grazing illegally on public lands the same way they have for more than 20 years. And he continues making money off them. Records show Bundy has sold about 400 while behind bars. It remains to be seen exactly when — or whether — Bureau of Land Management officials will make another attempt to round up those animals from the area known as the former Bunkerville allotment. "No final decision has been made," BLM spokeswoman Megan Crandall said last week. She declined to provide any additional information. In an interview outside the courtroom last week, Cliven Bundy's defense attorney, Bret Whipple, said his client is not concerned with a renewed impoundment effort. "The priority is here and now, getting out of custody," Whipple said. Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro last week refused to release Cliven and Ammon Bundy but did permit Ryan Bundy to be transferred to a halfway house for the duration of the case (Greenwire, Nov. 14). But Whipple also said the Bundys are waiting to see whether Trump moves to reduce the 297,000-acre boundaries of Gold Butte National Monument, which is located south of the Bundy ranch and contains a portion of the former Bunkerville allotment. Forfeiture or bust? Besides a roundup, there is a second option for declaring a seizure of Cliven Bundy's cattle: forfeiture. Attorney Todd Tucci, who is not involved in the trial, noted the indictment against Bundy and his co-defendants includes five counts of criminal asset forfeiture. That means guilty verdicts on certain charges could be used to force the Nevadan and the other defendants to turn over firearms and ammunition or could result in fines of at least $3 million that could include "any and all cattle on the Bunkerville allotment and Lake Mead National Recreational Area." "If they get convictions of the last five indictments, then they will have all the authority they need to go out and take his cows and property," said Tucci, who is senior attorney at the Idaho-based law firm Advocates for the West. According to the superseding indictment, Bundy could lose his cattle if he is found guilty of any of nine of the 16 charges against him — including conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, threatening a federal law enforcement officer, obstruction of due administration of justice, interference with interstate commerce by extortion and interstate travel in aid of extortion. A roundup would not necessarily require BLM's involvement, Tucci added, stating that DOJ officials could seek assistance from local or state law enforcement or other contractors. "That's why this is really interesting. Because this is no longer in BLM's hands," he said. Moreover, Tucci suggested if DOJ fails to secure convictions against Bundy or his sons and co-defendants, it could make it all but impossible for BLM to attempt to seize his cattle. "Can you imagine the pushback that BLM will get if after Bundy gets a not guilty [verdict] that they then go try and impound his cows?" Tucci said...more

Nebraska approves Keystone XL pipeline route, eliminating last major hurdle for project

After nearly a decade of debate that turned the project into a national flash point over energy development and environmentalism, the Keystone XL oil pipeline now is on the fast track to completion after clearing the last major hurdle Monday in Nebraska. The state’s Public Service Commission voted Monday morning to green-light the pipeline’s route, the final regulatory step needed before TransCanada, the owner and operator of Keystone, can begin construction. The commission voted 3 to 2 in favor of the project. Crystal Rhoades, a member of the commission who voted against the pipeline, said that changes to TransCanada’s proposed route may have left some state landowners in the dark, and she argued there’s little evidence the pipeline will actually help her state. “There are at least 40 landowners along the approved route who may not even know their land is on this pipeline’s path,” she said. “The applicant provided insufficient evidence to substantiate any positive economic impact for Nebraska for this project.” The commission members who voted “yes” on the project did not defend their positions during the brief meeting. The $8 billion project, which will transport more than 800,000 barrels of oil each day from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, has long been a priority for the oil and gas industry. Sector leaders say the Nebraska commission’s vote Monday sends a strong signal that the state, and the nation as a whole, is committed to energy development...more

Mel Tillis, 85, country star known for his songs and his stutter

Lonnie Melvin Tillis was born in Tampa. His father, Lonnie Lee, worked as a baker and played harmonica and guitar. His mother, former Burma Rogers, came from a musical family. Together with the rousing hymns of the Baptist church, Mel Tillis’s parents instilled in him an early love of music.
Mr. Tillis served in the Air Force from 1951-1955. After that he briefly attended college in Florida and worked for a railroad and as a truck driver before moving to Nashville in 1957. There he landed a songwriting job with Cedarwood Publishing for $50 a week.
He signed a contract with Columbia Records in 1958 but did not enjoy success until five years later, and then only of the middling variety, when “How Come Your Dog Don’t Bite Nobody but Me,” a novelty number he sang with Pierce, reached the country Top 40.
Mr. Tillis went on to record for a number of labels and release some 60 albums, among them “Mel & Nancy” (1981), a collection of duets with the daughter of his friend Frank Sinatra. He also had minor roles in comedic action films, including “Smokey and the Bandit II” (1980) and “The Cannonball Run” (1981) and appeared regularly on TV talk and variety shows including “The Tonight Show” and “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.”
A savvy entrepreneur, Mr. Tillis established a number of successful business ventures, including song publishing and film production companies, a music theater in Branson, Mo., and a 1,400-acre working farm, where he raised cattle, corn, and tobacco, in Ashland City, Tenn., west of Nashville.
He leaves his longtime partner, Kathy DeMonaco; his first wife and the mother of five of his children, Doris Tillis; a sister, Linda Crosby; a brother, Richard; five daughters, Pam, Connie, Cindy Shorey, Carrie April, and Hannah Puryear; a son, Mel Jr., six grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.
His daughter Pam, a singer and songwriter, released a tribute album to him, “It’s All Relative: Tillis Sings Tillis,” in 2002.
Exploiting his speech impediment for laughs might not have been politically correct, but Mr. Tillis knew that living with a disability had its serious side. “Stuttering brings out some very strange reactions,” he wrote in his autobiography. “It makes some folks feel nervous and uncomfortable, while others laugh because they find it funny. A lot of people think I’m putting it on. But I don’t worry about that because people who stutter know I stutter. And that’s what counts.
“Yes, I’ve made a lot of money talking this way. But I didn’t ask to be called the singer who stutters. Sometimes I feel the stutter is bigger than the song. I like to think that I have some God-given talent, too.” link

Senator Al Franken

1'm good enough...I'm smart enough...and doggone it, people like me.

Remember Al Franken as Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live? (If not, see below)

Apparently some didn't care for now Senator Franken's attention.

Sen. Al Franken Hit With Second Groping Allegation

Poker Presenter Leeann Tweeden Accuses Al Franken of Sexual Misconduct

Doggone it Al...Some really don't like you.

What EPA chief Scott Pruitt promised — and what he’s done

...Pruitt is the most unorthodox EPA administrator in decades, an avowed critic of the agency who has alienated much of his career staff. He’s spent heavily on travel to meet with business executives and GOP leaders, who want to see a much weaker EPA and could back Pruitt in a future political campaign. He has declined to disclose his daily schedule, employs a large entourage of bodyguards and built a “privacy booth” for communications in his office. He has questioned manmade climate change and kicked respected scientists off his advisory boards, replacing them with representatives from the businesses and the states he regulates. Still, Pruitt, who regularly references his Christian faith, says God wants people to be stewards of the earth. And an agency spokesman said that so far, Pruitt has visited more than 25 states, taken action on major Obama-era regulations and the nation’s most-polluted sites, and increased the number of EPA enforcement agents, which had declined under the previous administration. To get beyond the rhetoric and competing claims, POLITICO compared EPA’s Federal Register filings for the first eight months of the Trump administration with the same period for Obama’s presidency in 2009. They show a significant increase in how often the agency has withdrawn or delayed regulations this year, along with a decrease in new regulations. The data also show that Pruitt has sped up approvals of state plans to battle air pollution — a fact that his allies consider a sign of progress, but which environmentalists cite as evidence that he is rubber-stamping lax plans...more

Editorial: Bringing the government to the people

The head of the U.S. Department of the Interior is said to be toying with the idea of moving the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management out to the part of the country where the land it manages is.Secretary Ryan Zinke, along with a couple of members of Congress from Colorado, are brainstorming a plan to move the BLM HQ and its 500-some staff members out to, say, Salt Lake City, or maybe Denver. The idea, and it is reasonable enough, is that the vast majority of the 247 million acres of public land the agency is responsible for is in the West. West of the Mississippi. West of the Rockies. So are most of the agency’s nearly 9,000 other employees. So the managers should be out here, too. With modern communication technology, there is not the need there was 200 years ago to have all the executive agencies in close physical proximity to one another and to Congress. So why not spread the power? There are both opportunities and pitfalls to any of these scenarios...more

Ag groups hopeful about Trump administration

BOISE — One year into President Donald Trump’s term, many Idaho agricultural organizations are hopeful that their members will see progress on key issues. “I’ve never seen the agricultural community so united,” said Carl Pendleton, who farms in Lincoln County. He had just returned from a meeting in Washington, D.C. As organizations have begun holding their annual conventions, reforming environmental regulations is a high priority. That’s not new, but what is new is the sense of optimism that their voices will be heard. “This administration values and wants state input,” said Norm Semanko during the fall Idaho Water Users Association water law seminar. “The last two times I have been to D.C., Trump appointees say, ‘What do states think? What do states want?’’’ Ethan Lane, executive director of the Public Lands Council, had an equally optimistic tone when talking with members of the Idaho Cattle Association at their annual convention in Sun Valley. Modernizing the Endangered Species Act and the Antiquities Act are high on their agenda. “Even if you don’t have a listed species on your land, you are dealing with agencies who are managing listed species or a species that may be listed,” Lane said. One of the problems with trying to reform the ESA is that it’s the one of the most popular acts in America. “It saved the bald eagle. It’s iconic,” Lane said. ”Our goal is to make the ESA work like the rest of America thinks it already does.” The Public Lands Council worked with the Western Governors Association and several environmental groups to develop a list of reforms that both sides could live with. “We want to make it easier to get a species off the list and harder to get a species on the list,” Lane said. “This is the closest we’ve been to having a live ball that we can take to Congress.” Lane expects to see a decision released on the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah soon and that 1 million or so acres could be trimmed from the 1.35 million acres designated by President Barack Obama. When that happens the environmental community will freak out, Lane said, but grazers need to be ready to say that they agree that a U.S. president should not have the authority to make large monument designations. The Antiquities Act should allow a president the flexibility to protect a small ancient village site, should one be discovered during their term, but not to take a million acres around that site, Lane said. “The president taking action on this issue will create enough noise that we hope we can move forward with reforms.”...more

Opening statements conclude in Bundy family trial in Las Vegas

From KVVU-TV, good coverage of opening statements.

Judge was rude, security over the top in Oregon occupation trial, defense lawyers say

By Maxine Bernstein

Several defense attorneys from the first Oregon refuge occupation trial have written memos supporting Ammon Bundy's lawyer in his fight with the federal court over his behavior during and at the end of the trial when he was tackled by federal marshals and stunned with a Taser. The attorneys praised Marcus Mumford for his demeanor, said he didn't have enough time to prepare for the trial but was a zealous advocate for his client. Some wrote that U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown was especially tough on Mumford, and there was longstanding animosity between Mumford and the marshals before the physical confrontation. This week, Mumford filed in court sworn declarations from his fellow defense attorneys. Some argued that the intense security during the trial last fall in Portland was overblown. One called the physical restraint of Mumford an "appalling overreaction.'' Several wrote of a perceived animosity between Mumford and the marshals throughout the case. They described a lunch break in the middle of the trial when one deputy marshal told the defense lawyers and their clients that their time was up for conferring together. Mumford said something like, "Just five more minutes, guys.'' Another deputy marshal apparently charged toward Mumford and "dressed him down for 'disrespecting' another deputy,'' according to the defense lawyers' statements. Amanda B. Mendenhall, an associate in Mumford's law firm who helped him during most of the trial, said she stood between the deputy marshal and Mumford that afternoon. She wrote that she believed "the marshals had been gunning for Marcus for some time.'' Several defense lawyers, as well as Mumford, surmised that the government suddenly dismissed the criminal charges against him after Mumford's lawyer asked for all texts and email messages between the marshals during the Bundy trial and likely found "unprofessional and embarrassing communications.''...more

Border Patrol officer's on-duty death in Big Bend area sparks FBI investigation

Authorities are searching Texas' Big Bend area for potential suspects and witnesses after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent was fatally injured responding to activity there. Border Patrol spokesmen said they could not provide any details Sunday on what caused the agent's injuries or what led to them. Agent Rogelio Martinez, 36, died at a local hospital after he and his partner were taken there, authorities said. The partner, whose name has not been released, was in serious condition. Martinez was from El Paso and had been a border agent since August 2013. The FBI is now leading the investigation into his death, a Border Patrol spokesman said...more

Judge's proposed ban 'vindictive,' says Ammon Bundy's lawyer in Oregon standoff

By Maxine Bernstein

Marcus Mumford, the Utah lawyer who represented Ammon Bundy in the Oregon refuge case, called a judge's push to ban him from practicing law in federal court in Oregon "vindictive'' and based on a "biased and skewed view'' of court proceedings. Mumford questioned the authority of Oregon's Chief U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman to strip him of the prerogative. He also accused deputy U.S. marshals who tackled him and stunned him with a Taser of trying to "settle scores'' in the wake of his success. In a 138-page response to Mosman's proposed sanction filed late Friday, Mumford further wondered whether the timing of the judge's action was intended to prevent him from continuing to represent Bundy as he's set to go on trial in Nevada this week...more

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Its Swingin' Monday and we have Down In Mexico by Jody Nix. The tune is on his 2003 CD Play Me Something I Can Swing To.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Idaho Firm Sues DOJ For Missing National Monument Documents

Environmental firm Advocates of the West filed a lawsuit last month asking a judge to compel the government to turn over 12 withheld pages from documents about national monuments. It’s believed they could contain a legal justification for reducing several western monuments. The Justice Department says the information on the 12 missing pages is protected communications subject to attorney-client privilege and intra-agency communication rules. That means it falls outside the purview of Advocates of the West’s Freedom of Information Act request. The group believes the withheld documents contain the legal reasoning the government will use to shrink a handful of national monuments. While small reductions have taken place in the past, neither the Secretary of the Interior nor the president has attempted it. Boise State environmental policy professor John Freemuth says that’s because of a House report from 1976. “Congress seems to pretty clearly imply that their view is that only they can change the size of a national monument,” according to Freemuth. “They’re very explicit that the Secretary can’t, but they seem to imply that the president cannot as well.” While not legislation, Freemuth says a House report provides some of clearest intent possible. The DOJ wants the lawsuit seeking the 12 pages dismissed...more

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy (revisited)

I see by your outfit

By Julie Carter

There is a phrase made popular in song that says “Don’t call him a cowboy until you’ve seen him ride.” It goes right along with the wisdom of “clothes don’t make the cowboy.”

With the growing popularity of “cowboy” symposiums, cowboy poetry gatherings and other such galas made popular by permission of the urban cowboy craze of the 70’s the world has seen some amazing variations in what a cowboy is supposed to look like.

Let me first say, most of what the “world” sees on their side of the cattleguard “ain’t it.”

My story is part of a series describing the melting pot of cowboys formed by the migration to the cowboy work available in the Texas panhandle.

When the ranch-raised seasoned cowboy arrives in the panhandle, his clothing and tack show a regional influence of where he calls home.

The south Texas cowboys, accustomed to dodging through thickets where everything has dangerous sized stickers usually have tapaderos on their saddles, long leggings, lots of rawhide tack and a hat that will pull down real tight.

Their heavy-made stout horses will be startled by open country, gentle fat cattle and they will spook at their own shadow when coming out in the daylight. These brush poppers will be surprised how exposed to the elements they seem to be after working in country covered solid in thorn trees and cactus. And of course the Texas panhandle is infamous for its “elements.”

The south Texas cowboy will have a saddle with a high cantle complete with scratches for a signature of its life in the brush. Often they will have custom tack and silver on bits and spurs reflecting the pride attached to cowboying in that rough country. Every one of these brush hounds will be wearing a brush jacket whether it is a snowing blizzard or 112 degrees in the shade.

Nevada buckaroos will express an initial opinion that people in Texas or almost anywhere except Nevada do entirely too much work on foot. Buckaroos are generally too important to ever get off their horses and just don’t see the sense in doing anything that can’t be done horseback. They mellow out after awhile but in reality are surprisingly good at doing some unusual activities from a horse.

Their style with tack, saddles and clothing will reflect vanity as well as functionality. Buckaroo saddles may be the A fork style, often with bucking rolls or a Wade tree style (sits low and stays put no matter what) with flat bottom stirrups with a strip of leather sewn in the back tread of the foot to help from losing a stirrup.

Their California mission style bits will often be Garcia or Sliester made with slobber chains. Some will be wearing suspenders and most will have wild rags (large silk neck scarves) and low crown hats with flat brims. Most will be wearing 16 inch top boots with an under slung heel. Their britches from the knee down will be several shades darker never having seen the outside of their boot tops.

The vaqueros from the blue mountains of Mexico will come in without saddles or a horse, well worn clothing and not much else. They will be good with spurs, riatas and senoritas. Feedlot managers are often hesitant to hire these men but when a good one comes along, he will be one of the best with horses.

Many times though these hard working people are relegated to cleanup and processing crews. They have a history of having a grandmother in failing health who requires a visit about every three months and a return date is never more than a “maybeso.” Just as often, entire families will return faithfully year after year to a good manager. They are as important to the industry as the very best college educated managers.

Next week I will outline the defining rigs, garb and attitudes of a few more of the “boys in boots” from around the country that end up picking up their mail in the panhandle of Texas.

Julie can be reached for comment at

© Julie Carter 2005

Dim, Dimmer, and Blackout

The State of the Union
Dim, Dimmer, and Blackout
Repubs, Dems and our Constitution
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Somewhere deep in the heart of the Southwest straddling the state line between Arizona and New Mexico there exists a mesquite thicket of modest fame. Its origin can be traced variously, but the most likely genesis came from seasonally dependent Indians who had discovered the value of the mesquite with its annual bean crop. It added to a strategic pantry of sustenance. By spreading the mesquite, another food source could be gathered.
            Wild and wooly, the thicket has seen its share of characters.
            The Hookers and then the miners passed through it, General Crooke attempted to track Geronimo through it, the Mormons arrived first to chop rattlesnakes and then cotton in it, and the smell of the water mot├ęs along the river remains the same as it always has.
A proxy paradise it might seem to those who have known only it as home.
            Dim, Dimmer, and Blackout
            Years ago, a trio of brothers lived and scraped a meager living from the thicket and its creosote transitions out of the river bottom. They had a little herd of cattle, and, to reaffirm the prevailing biotic zone, their house was in thick mesquites, their barn was in thick mesquites, and to walk from the house to the barn and back the trail ran through more thick mesquites. Snakes could be anywhere and everywhere.
            The locals knew the given names of the boys, but, due to prevailing, weighted opinion, they were known as Dim, Dimmer, and Blackout. When it was necessary, Dim was the spokesman for the three. He did all the talking and Dimmer would stand there beside him adding nuanced inflections.
            He would often acknowledge the points of emphasis for Dim by nodding, grimacing, or offering well or misplaced “Uh’uhs”, “Hu’uhs”, “Oooohs”, or “Hmmmms”. There was little doubt Dimmer was a man of few words.
            Blackout was even less prone to discuss stimuli or to verbalize anything for that matter. He was normally kept on a leash with a collar around his neck. Memory of most of the folks who actually knew the boys suggest that it was Dimmer who usually assumed the assignment to lead Blackout around. When they went to the store to get groceries, they had a ring welded to the frame of the car in front of the passenger seat where they would tie Blackout so he wouldn’t wander off while they were doing their shopping.
            To make things even a bit more bizarre, the three had a little dog that they kept tied to a long clothesline. They had it rigged so that the dog had the full distance of the clothesline to run back and forth. The dog could be prompted to run if you yelled or honked your horn at him. Eye witnesses recall seeing the little dog run for all he was worth until just before he would be jerked to a halt only to spin round and round and then shoot off the opposite direction only to repeat the feat as a mirrored image.
            The whole thing was just a bit on the strange side.
            It was with that backdrop that Dim told his neighbor from up the river one morning to come look at the stud horse they had bought. “I could only imagine the starved down burro they had tied to the corral fence,” the neighbor remembered. “What I saw, though, just blew my mind!”
            There stood a most magnificent stud horse. What possessed those fellows to seek or buy such an animal was an ample contradiction. It just didn’t make any sense. The horse was from Montana and he even had papers that verified he was, indeed, from royal lineage. To find himself in the middle of a mesquite thicket with the likes of Dim, Dimmer, Blackout and the crazy dog was probably as improbable to him as it was to the neighbor.
            If stranger things could happen, it would likely be hard to find unless, of course … we witness Washington.
            Repubs, Dems and our Constitution
            Like the object they are starting to smell and resemble, Republicans are about to find themselves floating in the punch bowl. It is abundantly clear that they can talk the talk, but perhaps have no idea how to walk the walk. For starters, the matter of markets seems to be lost upon them aside from their teleprompter notes. They can say the words, but continue to demonstrate they have little idea what the actual bridge to the application of the term actually is.
            They talk tough and then dance without rhythm.
            The Democrats continue to stick close to their mantra of symbolism over substance. Certainly, they are for open borders, but “open” seems to be their only operative word. Open marriages, open restrooms, open season on private property rights, and endless open wallets is what they channel.
            They would rather not give anybody a tax break if it means giving one to a rich “deplorable”.
            Repubs have always been afraid of health policies, but have no idea how to frame the conservation to make sense even to themselves. Dems have always been enemies of national defense measures, but can’t admit it or they run the risk of displaying real colors and offending their handlers.
            Both have long been woefully inadequate stewards of our Constitution. The truth is they alternately fill the role of Dim and Dimmer with more ineptitude than we should tolerate. Like the grand horse in our prelude, the magnificent cornerstone that they claim to adhere to, our Constitution, is simply a mascot to their chicanery. And us? We fill the role of Blackout being led around like we are actually going somewhere to fulfill some preordained destiny.
Fools we are for allowing this to happen!

            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Dim, Dimmer, and Blackout did one thing few politicos ever accomplished … they supported themselves.”