by WILLIAM PERRY PENDLEY
As originally published by National Review
‘Over the past two decades . . . government officials, and perhaps [others], entered into a literal, intentional conspiracy to deprive [the family members] not only of their [grazing] permits but also of their vested water rights. This behavior shocks the conscience.” These are not the words of the embattled Hammond family in Harney County, Ore., nor their noisy defenders who made headlines with their illegal occupation of a few buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge — actions the Hammonds do not support — nor even conservatives who see another Sagebrush Rebellion spreading across the American West. Instead, they are the thoughtful words of Nevada chief federal district-court judge Robert C. Jones in a painstakingly thorough 104-page decision in May 2013 following a 21-day trial held in 2012 in Reno.
Judge Jones ruled in a lawsuit filed pro se by Wayne N. Hage, defending the estate of E. Wayne Hage, his father, against two huge federal land-management agencies — the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service — and their employees, all represented by scores of lawyers from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Agriculture. (The federal lawyers’ appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was argued last month.)
As National Review’s David French has chronicled, the Hammond travails over the decades mirror the fearful path trod by the late Wayne Hage and his family, except for the substitution in the Hammonds’ case of yet another federal land-management agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, which runs the national wildlife refuge surrounding their ranch.
Unfortunately, federal agencies’ abuse of the citizenry is not uncommon. In 2007, a third of a continent away, but still within the vast expanse of America where federal land ownership predominates — reaching two-thirds and more of some states and over 90 percent of some rural counties (72 percent of Harney County is federally owned) — a similar battle raged in Wyoming. Unlike the Hammonds in Oregon or the Hages in Nevada, the case of Harvey Frank Robbins and a federal agency “run amok,” in the words of a BLM employee, reached the Supreme Court of the United States. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the BLM “made a careless error:”
After obtaining an easement to use a private road across the ranch owned by Robbins’s predecessor, federal officials failed to record it. Thus, when Robbins bought the ranch, he did not know about the easement, and, under Wyoming law, he took title free of it. Thereupon, BLM officials, wrote Ginsburg, “demanded from Robbins an easement — for which they did not propose to pay — to replace the one they carelessly lost.” When Robbins offered to negotiate an agreement, they told him “the Federal Government does not negotiate” and “this is what you are going to do.” When he refused, he became, according to Ginsburg, the target of “a seven-year campaign of relentless harassment and intimidation to force [him] to give in.” When Robbins offered to negotiate an agreement, they told him, ‘the Federal Government does not negotiate.’ After two appearances each before the federal district court in Wyoming and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Robbins reached the Supreme Court in his effort to hold federal employees accountable for violating his constitutional rights to exclude them from his land and for trying to extort an easement from him.
Sadly, Justice Ginsburg did not write the majority opinion; her outrage on Robbins’s behalf was a lonely dissent; instead, Justice David Souter, on behalf of the Court, held that Robbins had no cause of action. He admitted that Robbins had suffered a “death by a thousand cuts,” in “endless battling” that “depletes the spirit along with the purse,” but concluded that the rights of citizens to be protected from “illegitimate pressure” by “unduly zealous” bureaucrats was balanced against the government’s need for “zeal on the public’s behalf.” Fearing that granting Robbins relief “could well take the starch out of regulators who are supposed to bargain and press demands vigorously on behalf of the Government and the public,” the Court held Congress was in a “better position” to provide relief if it saw fit.
In the years since the 2007 ruling, however, Congress has done nothing to protect citizens from “unduly zealous” — meaning “lawless” — bureaucrats and the taxpayer-funded lawyers who defend them. It is not just Congress — which could conduct oversight hearings, investigate abuses, hold officials and lawyers accountable, and constrain budgetary authority — that did nothing.
The abuses by bureaucrats in the field far from Washington — instigated, and aided and abetted, by environmental extremists, both local and national — of the Hammonds, the Hages, and Robbins occurred either knowingly or negligently during the administrations of Republican and Democrat presidents alike. For example, in 2005, a man who became a client of Mountain States Legal Foundation and prevailed after a nine-year battle before five federal courts was told by federal lawyers that his property rights and legal precedents were irrelevant. He had what they wanted and they would take the case to the Supreme Court to get it. They did but they lost.
As anyone who has the federal government as a neighbor knows — whether in northwestern Montana, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, or in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas — federal land managers and their lawyers make the worst people to have next door. The federal government, which owns a third of the country, acts not just as a landowner; it behaves as sovereign too, especially when it sends its lawyers into court. The Canons of Ethics purport to regulate the behavior of those lawyers, providing that: “A government lawyer . . . has the responsibility to seek justice . . . and he should not use . . . the economic power of the government to . . . bring about unjust settlements or results.” Moreover, Supreme Court justice George Sutherland, Utah’s only Supreme Court Justice, wrote, “The United States Attorney is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest . . . is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done.” “It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful [result] as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one,” Sutherland concluded.
Regrettably, in my experience, federal lawyers seek not justice, but to win and to win at all cost. Regrettably, in my experience, federal lawyers seek not justice, but to win and to win at all cost, which includes: Failing to conduct due diligence before defending federal employees named personally for wrongdoing, withholding documents, misstating or suppressing legal authority, and misrepresenting facts during oral argument. Where are the Canons or Justice Sutherland’s command then, or perhaps more important, where is the disciplining from senior attorneys, supervisory officials — many confirmed by the Senate — or state bars?
That federal lawyers have “run amok,” much like the bureaucrats they defend, is evident, not just from my experience, but also from the fact that the Hammonds were charged, not with trespassing on 140 acres of federal property with the backfire they started to protect their land, but with terrorism! The Oregon district-court judge trying the case saw the outrage and the injustice but was reversed by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit. Meanwhile, where were senior officials at the U.S. Department of Justice and where were their overseers in Congress, which had ample opportunity to question the legal proceedings in Oregon during the confirmation of Attorney General Loretta Lynch? Silent as always! No wonder fury builds at the injustice being done in the West. — William Perry Pendley, an attorney, is president of Mountain States Legal Foundation in Denver and author of Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan’s Battle with Environmental Extremists and Why It Matters Today.
— William Perry Pendley, an attorney, is president of Mountain States Legal Foundation in Denver and author of Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan’s Battle with Environmental Extremists and Why It Matters Today.
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 1/7/16
As originally published on DanDagget.com
PROTECTING THE WEST FROM ITS PROTECTORS
Posted on May 20, 2014 by Dan Dagget
In 1980 when I first moved to the West, to Flagstaff, Arizona, one of the first things I did was become involved as an environmentalist and join the Sierra Club and, shortly thereafter, Earth First! I was excited about my new home, about the mountains, canyons, rivers, and wide open spaces, and wanted to keep those things as spectacular, healthy, open and free as possible.
At the time I arrived, one of the hottest environmental issues was grazing private livestock on public lands. Grazing livestock on land both public and private was claimed to be the most damaging activity humans had brought to the West. As one environmental group put it:
“The ecological costs of livestock grazing exceed that of any other western land use.”
Livestock grazing was blamed for endangering species, destroying vegetation, damaging wildlife habitats, disrupting natural processes, and wreaking ecological havoc on riparian areas, rivers, deserts, grasslands and forests alike. What most caught my attention about this campaign against public lands grazing were the photos of denuded, eroded, cowturd-littered landscapes. Those photos served as one of the most effective tools for communicating the damage described above to those, like me, who were most likely to be concerned and recruited.
Here are a couple:
To make a long story short, I got involved in the campaign to protect public lands, wrote a couple of books about the topic in regards to range lands (actually about environmentalists and ranchers working together), and ended up enjoying a fairly rewarding speaking career about the matter.
Over time, the furor over public lands grazing has lost much of its intensity. Although grazing continues on public lands, it is highly regulated and significantly reduced. In fact, it has been totally removed from many areas where it had been standard operating procedure for more than a century. Also, Global Warming/Climate Change has replaced it (as well as a number of other issues) at the top of the eco-issues hit parade.
Living in Arizona, and remaining just as concerned about the mountains, canyons, rivers, and wide open spaces that have been my home now for 34 years, I have continued to keep track of the areas I made such a big deal about as a wilderness advocate and crusader for “healthy ecosystems.” As a result, I have something to report that may surprise you. It certainly surprised me.
The surprise is, the problems purportedly caused by grazing haven’t gone away even where grazing has. In fact, they have become worse, so much worse that a significant portion of Western rangelands may be in worse shape today than they were when the campaign to protect them was at its hottest. What is different, however, is that the responsibility for the deteriorated condition of the western range has shifted — reversed, in fact. Now it is protection and regulation and the advocates of those policies that are wreaking havoc on our natural heritage.
This is something you have to see to understand — and to believe.
Having noticed the poor and deteriorating condition of the rangelands near my home in Sedona and on trips as far afield as Big Bend National Park in Texas and Jasper National Park in Canada, I started taking photographs to confirm my concern. First, I took photos of the most eye-catching (and mind-blowing) examples of degradation on lands that are now “protected” but were grazed in the past. That ignited my curiosity, and inspired me to start ferreting out old photographs of those exact same places while they were being grazed. These I located via local U.S. Forest Service offices, museums, books, and the internet. I even copied some from old movies (An old Elvis movie — “Stay Away Joe” was one of my sources).
One of the first “before and after” comparisons that caught my eye is illustrated by the following pair of photos from along a favorite hiking trail near Sedona. The first photo (courtesy of the Sedona Heritage Museum) was taken on 12/29/1957. Grazing was ended on this site shortly after this photo was taken.
The next photo shows the exact same place in 2012 after 55 years of protection from grazing. The mountain on the upper right in the first photo (Courthouse Butte) doesn’t show above the trees in the second photo because the trees are bigger, and the point where I took the re-photo is lower than the original photo point, according to my rough calculations, due to 3 to 4 feet of soil erosion.
Next, I located some old U. S. Forest Service photos of old rangeland monitoring sites used to evaluate the effects of management (in this case grazing) on Forest Service lands. Here’s an example — a photo taken in 1963, also near Sedona, of an area that had been grazed for more than 50 years.
In 1963 the grass was short (most likely it had recently been grazed), but you can see the plants were close together, the coverage was fairy complete, and there was little evidence of erosion.
I even located a photo of a 3 foot square frame by means of which the plants in a certain part of the transect were identified, recorded, and mapped to enable the USFS to accurately read and record any change that happened. Forty-nine years later (2012) I took a photo of that exact same site. I even relocated (and re-photoed) the frame. According to the best information I can find, grazing was removed from this area “before 1981,” so, at the time of the re-photo, the area had been protected for 30+ years.
Interestingly, a U. S Forest Service Range staffer, upon visiting this site with me in 2013, and comparing what she saw with the 1963 photographs said, “Well, The grass looks healthier now than it did back then, except where there isn’t any.” ”Where there isn’t any” is just about everywhere.
To shed a little more light on what is happening here, I included a photo of the land just to the left of the monitoring site. (That’s the same location stake.)
Left for Upload To give an even bigger picture of what’s happening here I’ve included a photo from nearby on the same grazing allotment.
From the look of the exposed tree roots and freshly toppled trees it appears safe to say that erosion continues in this area in spite of the fact that it is being protected and has been for 30+ years. (I would also add it’s just as obvious that protection isn’t doing much to heal the area.)
Seeing devastation of this degree I couldn’t help but wonder: Were the effects of “overgrazing” anywhere near as bad as the effects of protection? To answer that question, I started searching the Web for those denuded, eroded, cowturd-littered images that were used to make the case against public lands grazing. I wanted to compare the effects of the activity whose “ecological costs exceed that of any other western land use” with the impacts of the remedy that was supposed to return the West to conditions the protectionists described as “pristine nature.”
This is where things really got surprising — the great majority of those “cows destroy the West” photos were mild, ho-hum, no big deal in comparison. Some even looked like positive impact photos. Here’s the collection of images that resulted from one of those Google searches.
When that collection of photos showed up on my computer screen I couldn’t help but wonder: Is this what so outraged me and recruited me thirty years ago? Is this the best they’ve got? It must be, I concluded. These are the images that were published in books like Welfare Ranching, and Waste of the West. These are the photos that are on the websites of the groups still making the case to remove grazing from public lands. So, If environmental groups were so concerned about the effects of grazing on public lands in this photo, for instance:
From Mike Hudak’s Photo Gallery of Ranching on Western Public Lands “This drainage in a heavily grazed field has eroded to a width of five feet.”
Why do we not hear a peep from them about the apparently much more damaging effects of protection on public lands in, for instance, this photo?
This drainage, in an area that has been protected from grazing for more than 30 years, has eroded to a depth of more than ten feet.
Another comparison — same question: If environmental groups are concerned about the effects of grazing on public lands in this photo:
What about this?
What do these comparisons tell us? Well, one thing they seem to make clear is that, for those of us who are truly concerned about restoring and sustaining the ecological health of the rangelands of the American West, we’re spending our money and our energy in the wrong place. Instead of campaigning to protect the public lands of the West from grazing, we ought to be protecting them from, well, “protection,” which may qualify as the real “most damaging activity humans have brought to the West”
One thing that qualifies protection for this distinction is that the damage it causes is not only more severe, it is more permanent — more permanent because it is a one way street. Ask protectionist groups what they can or will do to heal the damage shown in the photo of me looking up through those protected tree roots or that fellow peering out from that huge eroded gully in the White Hills Study Plot, and the great majority of them will tell you, “Protect it longer.” One activist has told me, “It might take more than a lifetime.” The White Hills Study Plot has been protected for 78 years. That sounds like a lifetime to me.
I’ve written books and articles about ranchers who have healed damage greater than anything shown among the “grazing destroys the West” photos by using their management practices and their animals as the means to perform that healing. In fact, I’ve done some of those restorations myself. Those restorations took days instead of lifetimes. In fact, I have some dynamite photos. See the photo sequence below.
To their credit a few environmental groups and collaborative associations are using those grazing-to-heal techniques today. I suspect that, in some cases, they’re even using them to heal the effects of protection. But to heal damage, you have to be able to see it, be aware that it is there, and you have to want to heal it.
Environmentalists have trouble seeing the damage they cause because they suffer from a type of blindness of which they have accused ranchers for as long as I’ve been involved in this issue. Environmentalists accuse ranchers of being blind to the damage they cause to the land because they (ranchers) consider what they do (raise food for people by using resources they believe God gave us just for that purpose) so valuable and so righteous that they refuse to see, just plain ignore, or consider irrelevant the damage it causes.
This phenomenon — being rendered blind to the damage you cause by your own feelings of righteousness — is a more accurate description of an affliction that plagues the green side of the aisle. When environmentalists say, “We all want to protect the environment,” they use the word “protect” in its vague general sense: “to protect from hurt, injury, overuse, or whatever may cause or inflict harm.” The idea that “protecting” in this sense could cause harm to anything doesn’t make any sense. How could saving something from harm cause it harm? If you peel away this blindfold of righteous semantics, however, as the photographs in this article have done, it becomes evident that the ecological impacts of “protection” may actually “exceed that of any other western land use” including grazing.
The implications of this are clear… If environmental groups and government agencies truly want to achieve their stated mission — to protect the environment from whatever may cause or inflict harm — they’ll have to open their eyes to the damage caused by what they call “protection.” And hold this environmentalist panacea as accountable as any other land management method.
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 1/5/16
Below are summaries of testimonies presented last year in a hearing on federal lands management in Western states, and instances of “threats, bullying and intimidation” by agencies and the bureaucrats who work for them. Stories similar to these have only increased in frequency since this hearing. With a growing list of injustices, incompetence, and devastating personal losses to citizens in the West, the transfer of public lands management from federal tyrants to state agencies accountable to the people is more important now than ever.
Posted by Reagangirl.com 12/30/15
I am Lazaro. My master, Joseph the carpenter, gave me the name “Lazaro” when I was a colt and he was not very old himself. It means “God has helped.” Perhaps he knew that I would need a little help from God each day, to pull the sledges stacked with timbers, and the baskets on my back heavy with carpenter’s tools and nails. But today my burden is light and sweetly scented. It is Joseph’s wife, Mary, young and gentle, and her words in my ears are like music compared to the clanging and pounding of the builder’s craft. Joseph has put away his tools and seated Mary upon my back, and we have set out for a far city. This is my first journey away from home.
From my birth I have lived in Nazareth. When not in Joseph’s service, I like to roll in the dirt and bray at the crows that patrol my feeding trough. I watched as Joseph and his pretty wife, Mary, became friends, and grew in love. Now, with child, she pats my neck and encourages me on while singing a nursery song. The paths out of Nazareth are worn, but rocky. My feet, unaccustomed to long travel, are already sore as Joseph searches for a grassy place to spend the night. On a verdant hillside we make our camp. It is spring and shepherds lead their flocks to folds beyond the hills, carrying the new lambs across their shoulders, silhouetted against the squinting sun. Mary and Joseph are quiet as he sits next to her under a tree. His hand traces the shape of her round belly before the kisses her good night.
I awake when a lark hops around in the grass close to my muzzle, plucking up grubs. I bray loudly to startle the lark. Joseph cries, “Lazaro, you foolish beast. Be quiet!” But Mary has awoken and she says, behind a soft giggle, “silly donkey.”
How long we must walk, I do not know. How many days, we can only guess. The food and water in my packs have already grown lighter, but Mary, sitting upon my back with one leg folded in front of her large belly feels heavier than the day before. I plod a narrow trail up the rim of a high plateau. I’m not a mountain donkey, I am of the plains and fields and village roads. Joseph grows impatient. “Get along Lazaro! Mary cannot wait forever!” Suddenly, Mary leaps down and tells Joseph, “I will walk. He’s a small donkey, and my legs need to move and the child needs to stretch. He’s growing as impatient as you!” In Mary’s voice there is life–a mastery of enjoyment–rare to one so young as she. Her sweet voice impels me to pick up my pace. My legs ache, my rib cage heaves with great breaths, but up I go, for many hours and many miles.
“Lazaro, stop!” Joseph’s voice jars me to a halt. I look back and see that Mary is kneeling, one hand on her belly, and the other hand cupping her forehead. “Lazaro, come back. Mary can walk no farther.” I hear Mary’s voice, so tired and worried, “My time is growing near.”
Joseph heaves her upon my withers and looks back in the direction of Nazareth. “I shouldn’t have brought you…” Mary stops him with, “Shhhh. I will not be without you, nor will the child.” We trundle to the top of the rim, and there on the other side of the hill is the largest valley I have ever seen. I see smoke from a few distant fires, wadis and copses of trees, but mostly space. There is water, I smell a spring that runs down the hill to the valley below. I snort and bray to tell Joseph that here, there is refreshment for Mary.
We go on. Another day, another sunset. My flanks quiver with the exertion as I kneel down to lie on my side when finally we rest. Joseph leaves Mary to find wood for a fire, and while he is gone, Mary begins to weep. She puts her arms around my neck and buries her face behind my ears and through her stuttering sobs I hear. “Oh Lazaro, you are only a beast, but I cannot let Joseph know how afraid I am. I feel a great burden. My child is coming very soon, and here we are on the plains. Bethlehem is so far away. Oh, donkey, I feel alone with such a great task. What will happen should I fail?” She holds me fast, stroking my neck and weaving her fingers through my short mane. I take her robe in my teeth and tug gently. I want to tell her that my name, Lazaro, will be my promise that God will help us get to Bethlehem. Otherwise, she may forever call me ,” foolish beast.” She calms, and wipes her face and straightens her robes when Joseph returns with some sticks for a fire. I nuzzle her belly as she stands, and she laughs gently and goes to Joseph and holds him as if she will never let go.
The morning light reveals Mary’s face, serene but tired. Joseph looks worn, his hands calloused and cracked, and his back stooped. The spring from the hills has grown into a rushing stream. The water is cool and sweet and I crop the watercress and grasses along its edge. Mary washes the sleep from her eyes, and Joseph fills the water bags and drinks his fill before we continue on toward Bethlehem, the early sun warming us. We pass the great city, Jerusalem, and travelers pour onto the roads. Some are young like Joseph and Mary, others old, some walking, some riding asses, and a few Roman soldiers patrol the peopled trails. Two Roman horses, their masters stoic, pass me, they snort, then they pause. They look at me with disdain, but their eyes soften and heads lower when they look upon Mary. A soldier commands his horse onward. The horse goes on, reluctantly. A walking man, old, lame, his eyes pale with blue clouds of blindness, traveling with his son, nears my side. His face turns to Mary, his sightless eyes lock on her form. The old man feels for my mane and grabs it so that I may guide his way for awhile. Mary speaks gently to him. “Sir, are you going to Bethlehem?” “Woman,” he answers sheepishly, “you would speak to me?” “Of course. We are but travelers on the way to Bethlehem. You may walk with us if you like, but we must make haste for I am with child and my time is nearing.”
The old man grabs my halter and yanks at it to stop me. “Woman,” says he, “the child you carry…He is a king.” Crazy old man, I think. Mary is the wife of Joseph, the carpenter, and the blind old man thinks she is a queen! But the old man persists. “Woman, God be with you. God bless you. The child in your womb…He…is the chosen one…the Messiah.” Mary does not rebuke the man, though she should because he appears to be drunken or mad. The Messiah! I am a carpenter’s beast, and to think that I could carry the mother of the Messiah on my back. Who would believe such a thing? “Good sir,” says Mary, “God be with you as well. We must hurry on, apace.”
Another day. The noise of the roads troubles my ears, the strange smells from the travelers fill my nostrils, and the flies make saltlicks of my eyes. Mary is silent. Joseph is silent except when he asks for directions from passing strangers. Dust gets into our eyes and throats, and my body is breaking down with weariness; a weariness I have never before felt.
I hear it before I see it, a viper in the road, sunning itself. But my brain is slow and I react before I think about where I am and the burden on my back. I begin to rear up at the sight of the snake, but then I remember Mary. I stop myself, but my back hoof catches on a rock, and my weight falls up on my fetlock. I stand quickly, but the pain is great. Mary grabs my mane as Joseph runs to her to help her down. I fall heavily on my rump as pain blazes up my leg. No! I think to myself. No!
“Joseph, He is hurt! Did the snake bite him? Will he die?” Joseph calms her, “No, he is not bitten, but he is lamed. He cannot walk.” There is fire in my leg. I bray for the pain, and I bray for the dark thought that I have failed Mary and Joseph, and my promise that God will help us get to Bethlehem has been broken. I am a foolish donkey. I am a broken donkey. If Mary was a queen of the Romans or of the Jews, I would probably be a dead donkey!
Joseph paces back and forth along the trail. He finds the viper and lifts it with a stick, flinging it far off into the brush. Mary looks at him strangely. “I shall not kill the snake, it is not guilty of a thing. And I shall not kill Lazaro, though he is no good to us. I must find a place to stall him, and a family to keep you, Mary, until I can meet you upon my return from Bethlehem.” Her words shake me with their power as she reproves her love. “No! No, you shall not leave me. We shall not leave this beast. There is a promise in his very name, there is a promise in the Name of the Child, Emmanuel, that God will be with us, God will help us.” Mary speaks through hard tears, “I believe the promise, Joseph. We shall ask God to heal his leg. Lazaro can be made whole. I know it. Please Joseph, pray with me in faith to heal this beast.”
My donkey brain, convulsing in pain and fear, is calmed as Joseph takes Mary’s hand, and they kneel beside me, Joseph’s hand on my tortured leg, their heads bowed in quiet prayer. I stop braying and close my eyes to listen. There are pleas, there are tears, and Mary and Joseph are talking to God as if He is beside them, like a Father come to their aid. Everything is peace and dark. I awake, for I have fallen asleep. There is an aching in my rear leg, but the fire of pain is quenched. Mary gives me a handful of sweet dates, and I am revived.
I stand, and now, acquainted with sorrow and pain myself, I recognize the same in Mary’s eyes. I walk a few steps. Soreness, yes, but I can walk. Can I bear the weight of Mary and the packs? I stop and look back at her, and grunt, “Get on, let’s go.” Joseph once more lifts her upon my back, and my mind is cleared of all thoughts of snakes and pain and stinking travelers and Romans on arrogant steeds, for the lights of Bethlehem begin to appear as we round the crest of the final hill.
The hills outside of Bethlehem are watched by shepherds with many sheep. They fold their sheep, but some stand dumb, looking to the East. Joseph looks to trace their gaze, and a strange smile comes to his face. We hurry on. Mary is quiet in her thoughts, her breaths fewer and deep. Many people are upon the roads. Some have set up camp along the paths. There are makeshift shops, coopers, potters, farmers and others have set up a bazaar for the travelers coming to Bethlehem from all directions. The smells are strange to me, there is filth on the roads, strange languages, and grumblings about “Herod,” and “Caesar,” and the hated “publicans.” When we enter the city the noise crowds upon my donkey ears and both Mary and Joseph gasp at the sight of so many people, many who are strange and dangerous looking. “Where will we stay?” Joseph answers Mary with, “I will try to find an inn. I didn’t expect…I didn’t know there could be so many people in the whole world, let alone Bethlehem.” I bow my head and watch my feet as Joseph leads us on. I must trust him, for my urge to bolt is strong. Dogs nip at my legs, cats, chickens and little children run along the streets. And it seems that every house, every inn, every space within the little town of Bethlehem is filled with travelers. Some of them stop for a moment to gaze, like the Shepherds, at the Eastern sky. Mary cries out, and we move.
Joseph goes to an inn, it is filled. Another, and there is no room, even the stalls along the streets are crowed with people bedding down for the night. We reach the far side of Bethlehem, and there is a last inn. Mary whispers to Joseph, ” We must stop. The child is coming whether we have a bed or not.” Joseph steps away from us and knocks hard upon the door. A tired man answers, a cacophony of sound and smell come from behind the open door. “Sir, my wife is with child, and we need a bed. We cannot wait. There is no other place. Please!” The man ponders Joseph, steps out from the door and looks at Mary. His face grows pale. He runs back into inn, then returns with a woman and a boy. “I am Avda, this is my wife Hasna,” a boy of the age of Joseph when I first worked for him joins them, “and my son, Nahor. There is no room in the inn.” Hasna speaks to Mary, “This is no place for you…” Mary moans and a look of stern anger tightens Joseph’s face, but the woman continues, “… The travelers are filthy…” Nahor chirps, “…and stinky!” Joseph looks to the plains outside Bethlehem, “But where shall we go? Our child will be born this night! Can’t you help us? Just one bed, PLEASE?” Hasna, goes to Joseph. “There is a better place for you, a quiet place, without the dirt and noise of the strangers. Nahor, lead the beast to the stall. Avda, get a broom, I will fetch some robes.”
The woman orders us and we obey. On the edge of the city, within its rocky cliffs is fixed a cave filled with straw and feeding boxes for animals. Chickens roost along the mud shelves, a few ewes with new lambs rest in a corner, and an aged ox stares curiously as we enter. Avda sweeps and gathers out the old straw as Joseph helps Mary off my back. Nahor brings fresh straw and piles it up for a bed in the corner, Hasna lays some robes upon the straw and takes Mary by the hand and helps her to lie down. She again commands her husband and son, “Avda, bring water, Nahor, get more straw and meal for the beast, and put it in the manger. This young woman will bear a child within the hour.”
With sweet straw in the manger, I munch happily, save for the cries coming from Mary. The innkeeper’s wife lingers near Mary, and calms Joseph with words of instruction which I do not understand. But Mary’s cries are hard to bear. They are cries of deep distress, her body is erupting in agony, and I ache with her, I mourn the hardship with her. My burdens have been heavy to bear, but the coming forth of Mary’s child is a new and fearsome things to me. I wander out of the cave and stand on the path outside. The sun is a thin strand across the Western plains, but it is light, such as mid-day. Such a long day, I think, in my simple way, and the hours drag on so. But the day is night and a star in the East, so bright that it casts shadows, is defying the sleeping sun! Strange, very strange. I bray at the star, and see that I’m not alone in my wonderment. The people of the village have gathered outside their homes to gaze up. They murmur, some fearfully, some in reverence, and some kneel, whispering something about a “sign.” Mary’s cries grow quiet, and there is soft speaking in the cave, and then, the keening cry of a newborn babe! My masters’ son cries and Mary laughs in her soft fashion, thanking God that her hour of extremity is finished. “Praise God! Glory to God!” cries Hasna. Joseph is weeping softly, Mary and the baby wrapped tightly in his arms as he rocks them gently.
Avda and Nehor appear again. They bring food that smells delicious. “Here I have some bread for you Joseph, and a bowl of warm pulse for you, Mary. Eat and be strong,” says Avda. Joseph thanks them and wolfs his bread. “Would that we could do more for this child. Hosanna! Glory to God.” Avda and Nehor try to linger but Hasna urges them back to the inn.
I think to myself, so many strange things; a strange light, a village girl mistaken for a queen, an innkeeper’s wife crying out as if the Messiah himself has appeared! I am weary, and the aches of the day creep into my muscles. I lie down by the opening of the cave. The chickens, sheep, and old ox are strangely quiet, peace and darkness overtake my donkey brain and I sleep.
“He is here! Wake up, wake up! The angel of the Lord has told us, He has been born.” I awake as lads run up and down the village roads, banging on doors and calling to the people. “The King has been born. The star! Come see the star, for it is the sign.” The villagers are restless, for the strange star, brighter far than a full moon, has disturbed their sleep. And now these lads are using their shepherds’ crooks to knock upon doors and call out strange words. The lads begin to gather near me by the cave. They whisper, “Can you see him? Is the mother pretty? Does the baby look like a king?” Patient Mary sits up on her bed of straw and lifts the tiny babe so the shepherd boys may gaze upon him. They are nearly silent, but for some deep sobs and whispers of, “Praise be to God! Hosanna in the highest!”
What of this king? The babe is a carpenter’s son. Mary is an ordinary girl. What is this all about? But as I, Lazaro, ponder upon these strange things in my simple way, I remember the old man upon the road, the blind man who talked of a king carried in Mary’s belly. He talked of a Messiah. Could it be true? A healing prayer that took away my lameness. Is Mary the mother of the promised Messiah? Is Joseph the chosen father of the Son of God? As I think about these things a great warmth enters my heart. The desire to worship God consumes me, and with irresistible joy I step onto the road and bray, in my own language, “Praise God! The chosen Messiah is born! I am His beast! I carried the mother of the King of Kings on my back! Glory to God in the highest. Hosanna to His name.” A cock fluffs his neck feathers and joins me in praise, crowing loudly. My braying wakes the sheep and ox. The chickens begin to cluck, and from the stable cave there arises a joyous noise as the world of animals joins in worship of the Newborn King!
“Lazaro! You mad beast! Quiet now, Mary must rest,” comes Joseph’s voice from the cave. “It’s alright, Joseph. He knows. Lazaro and the other animals know, just as the shepherd boys know. This is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
I hear Mary and Joseph talking and so, hush my braying. The cock settles down and the hens return to their nests. Mary calls to me and I step softly toward the manger from which I had earlier eaten sweet straw. The babe, wrapped in swaddling robes, opens his eyes and makes a strange sound. I snort, and he smiles. “Lazaro, you silly beast,” Mary speaks to me in the same gentle tone which has always pleased my ears, but now with utter certainty and consummate love, “you kept your promise to me and my little family. You carried us here, to Bethlehem. Thank you Lazaro. I know that God chose you, you silly donkey, to help bring His Son into the world. Never again shall you be called ‘foolish beast.” I watch, my head bowed, a sweet peace warming me through, as Mary and the babe fall asleep. Joseph leaves the cave to do the business which brought him to Bethlehem. He rubs my neck vigorously and says, “Lazaro, you have proven yourself. Wait and watch here until I return in a little while. You are a beast with great heart. Now keep Mary and my son safe.” I will, Joseph, I will, I think in my simple donkey way, I will because God is with me.
by Marjorie Haun 12/23/15
This is a heartfelt tribute from one of our favorite contributors, Vietnam veteran, author and friend, Forrest L. Gomez.
ODE TO THE BEST OF ALL CHRISTMASES
Down throught the years, through all the days, I have experienced Christmas in many environments, and in many and varied circumstances. I remember the wonderful, warm, colorful, happy days of my childhood, when my dad – veteran of World War II and the Korean War – did his very best to give our poor family a happy Christmas. A child of the Great Depression himself, he wanted us to have the Christmases he never had.
I remember Christmases when I was at war, two in Vietnam and one in El Salvador, saying without prejudice that it is just not the same celebrating that holiday of holidays with the locals, and with GIs just as lonely as one’s self.
I have spent two Christmasses in the hospital, three on staff duty while in the Army, and one incredibly lonely Christmas when my wife of 19 years had left me the month before. After I gave my life to God in 1979, it was thrilling to share Christmas with a church family, people I knew I could depend on to care about me and pray for me when Ineeded it. I remember Christmas of 2001, when we looked to the future with a bit of frightened anticipation, not knowing what the followups would be on both sides to Nine-Eleven,
And I remember Christmas of 2009, when I had met Cathy just prior, the woman I would propose to on Valentine’s Day 2010, and the unmatchable lady who would become my wife on 4 September 2010. The Christmases with Cathy have been glorious, even though she spent one in the hospital herself.
I know I’m rattling on, but I’m an old guy, and tradition says I’m allowed to. My point is that I have learned some important things that God tries to teach us through His Word, and through our experiences. Most of you probably already figured this out, but I’m going to say it anyway. Might be some folks out there even slower than me.
There are payoffs in life if we allow ourselves to experience them. These payoffs are not things like big bank accounts, slick cars, sexy members of the opposite gender in our lives, lots of things, etc. The payoffs are things that can be intangible if we don’t focus on God’s plans for each of us. Think about it: the world may think you’re a nobody, but to somebody, you are the world! Have you watched your child, or the child of a relative or friend, come into the world? Does not your dog or cat, or some other pet, love you all the time, without qualifications? The vast majority of us have friends and loved ones that would cover our backs, even take a bullet for us. How did you feel about that kid waving his hat in the breeze after a game, or our military personnel overseas?! These are real blessings, and I have only scratched the surface.
My church had its last service before Christmas today, of course. Please once again put two thoughts together for me, brothers and sisters. There were many times when I did not think I was going to live long enough to have a family, and I could have died without God in my life. Most of you know that I have grand children, Praise the Lord. I thank God every day that I am still with the living.
Today (not for the first time by any means), my grand son Connor was on my right as we walked down the center aisle of our church, ushers, in the Abundant Life Fellowship Church of Tacoma, Washington. Some of you may remember that this kid chased off a prowler at our place a couple of years ago. We hae received many compliments for ushering side by side like that.
This is the payoff folks. Thank you, Jesus, for my life, my splendid wife, my children, my grand children, my church, my church family, and for my salvation. Life is SO good, just thinking about God’s blessings!
Brothers when you see an obstacle in life, look beyond it, and open your eyes and hearts. You will see the Lord.
Merry Christmas, everyone! To our Jewish brothers and sisters, Shalom!
Reposted with permission of the author by Reagangirl.com 12/22/15
5. Scientist will tell you that penguins are endemic to the Southern Hemisphere, but that’s not the whole truth. In 1827, penguins of all sorts were driven from the Arctic in what has come to be known as the “Green Pants Revolt.” Penguins were once found in dense populations at the North Pole, attributable in-part to Santa Claus’ daily deliveries of smelt, shrimp, and Cracker Jack (a penguin favorite) to the bustling colonies. The sleep-deprived elves, relegated to a scant 3 hours of sleep per night due to a rigorous schedule in the toy factory, complained to Santa that the squawking birds were keeping them up at night. Legend has it that Santa urged the elves to be patient until they could take their annual post-Christmas junket to Cancun, but the irritable elves had other plans. In a midnight raid the elves captured the penguins, boxed them up in chicken crates, and sent them, via slow boat, to Patagonia. And that, kiddies, is why there are no penguins at the North Pole.
4. What is the origin of Santa’s jolly “Ho, ho, ho?” The year was 1950 and a dauntless Arctic frontiersman named Yukon Cornelius passed through Christmas Town while filming a documentary titled, “Finding Bumble.” The ruggedly handsome Yukon Cornelius lodged in the guest house located on the grounds of the Claus manor. Finding the warm hospitality of Mrs. Claus irresistible, he stayed on as a gamekeeper. Tabloids of the day speculated that Santa and Mrs. Claus were experiencing marital problems, and that she found excitement and really great sex in the hairy arms of Yukon Cornelius, thus fomenting a scandal of polar proportions. Overcome by wanderlust following the Christmas rush, Cornelius packed up his video equipment and left in the dead of a January night. Mrs. Claus, heartbroken, and Santa, depressed and beset with eating disorders, sought marital counseling. It is believed that they made amends and renewed their vows in a Las Vegas ceremony, and that Santa’s jolly “Ho, ho, ho!” was heard for the first time in the days following the Claus/Cornelius affair. One must wonder, however, whether Santa’s “Ho, ho, ho” was the exclamation of a happy man, or the rumblings of a bitter old fellow who just couldn’t seem to forgive his wife for errors of the past.
3.The year was zero, and a caravan of nomadic Wise Men were traveling from the Orient, westward to the Mediterranean region then known as Judea. The organizers of the caravan, Hopscotch, Bindlestick, and Flapjacket, all wise kings from Eastern countries, rode patiently atop their dromedary beasts-of-burden for months. Following an exceedingly bright star that appeared night after night, they made their way toward the place where they believed they would find the King of Kings; the prophesied Son of God. Bindlestick’s camel, however, had an odious weekly ritual of announcing that it was Wednesday by repeating, “Guess what day it is…” and carrying on in a most annoying fashion until, near madness, one of the wise men would scream, “It’s Humpday!” Somewhere on the plains of Syria, Bindlestick’s camel met an unfortunate end when Hopscotch, having reached the end of his proverbial rope, choked the poor beast to death precisely at 11:59 p.m. on a Tuesday night. The Wise Men entered the land of Judea minus one camel, but having rescued their sanity.
2. The Allied Forces had invaded Europe and were beating back Hitler’s Army, and freeing millions from the oppression of the Nazis. It was the spring of 1945. But Hitler’s propaganda machine was still going strong and Germans felt confident that Der Fuehrer would win the war for the homeland. The American Office of Special Services (OSS) planned to conduct a massive psychological operation (psyops) in German cities and villages that would cause the people to question Hitler’s ability to lead them to victory. The OSS, the forerunner of today’s CIA, created pamphlets to be dropped from the skies over Germany, but conventional aircraft would be detected and possibly engaged by the enemy. A silent, nighttime drop was required, but there existed no airplane, at that time, sufficiently quiet to go undetected. Clive Weedle, a savvy young OSS agent from Humptulips, Washington, decided to give Santa Claus the call, and assign the dangerous mission to him and his intrepid team of flying reindeer. Santa, being a supporter of the Allied Forces and a freedom-loving patriot, accepted. During the dead of night in mid-April of 1945, in the silent skies over Germany, Santa, his team of flying reindeer, and three elves dropped, from an altitude of 1,500 ft., 20,000 pamphlets, complete with colorful illustrations, which said, “Hitler ist ein Daumenlutschen Transvestit!“ Translated: Hitler is a thumbsucking transvestite! History informs us that the devastating pamphlets dropped by Santa had a profound psychological effect upon the German people, especially those in Hitler’s inner circle. Just days after the Santa psyops pamphlet drop, Hitler killed himself inside a fortified bunker in the heart of Berlin. It is said that when his body was recovered, he was wearing a bra, panties, fishnet stockings, and pumps which belonged to his wife, Eva Braun.
1. Valley Forge served as quarters for George Washington’s Continental Army during the brutal winter of 1777. Despite the fact that most of Washington’s troops had been good little boys during the months before that terrible December, they were disqualified from Santa Claus’ delivery route because of age restrictions. But Santa was concerned about the fledgling republic for which the Americans were fighting and he wanted to help without breaking his own rules. George Washington, exhausted and disheartened by the unspeakable conditions at Valley Forge, took to the drink and was spending his hours lolling about, drunk, in the livery stables. Alarmed, Santa Claus took a sabbatical during the peak toy-making season, to fly down with a few trusted reindeer and have a heart to heart with the general. Concerned that the men would give up if their leader lost his hearty optimism and faith, Santa donned Washington’s uniform and sat in his stead for a few days. Santa tended to the men, and dined alongside them, eating their typical fare of cabbage and vinegar soup. The team of reindeer flew George Washington to Mount Vernon for a much needed weekend with Martha. Upon his return, Washington asked Santa Claus in what manner he could repay the kind deed. The story goes that Santa simply asked the sober and reinvigorated leader of the Continental Army to promise that once they had won independence for the colonies that he would establish a nation where people would be free to live their lives and produce lots, and lots of children. Santa then introduced the general to an old friend from Prussia, named Friedeich Von Steuben, who proved instrumental in Washington’s eventual victory over the British. George Washington took the tales of the secret meetings with Santa at Valley Forge to his grave, and the lone witnesses to the events, Martha Washington and General Von Steuben, provided only cryptic indications in their diaries about how Santa helped win the Revolutionary War.
by Marjorie Haun 12/16/15
Originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal on April 3, 2015.
by Shawn Regan
Like the script of a John Wayne film, there’s a showdown brewing in the American West—in this case between the states and the feds.
Few east of the Mississippi realize it, but nearly half of the West is owned by the federal government. By far the majority of these lands are not national parks or wilderness areas. They are forests and rangelands managed by the federal government and open to many uses, including logging, grazing, energy development and recreation. But many Western residents are beginning to think these lands would be better off under state control.
The showdown began in Utah, where two-thirds of the land is controlled by the feds. In 2012 Republican Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill demanding that 30 million acres be transferred to the state, arguing that restrictions on natural-resource development were harming local communities. Nine other states have considered similar resolutions. Last week lawmakers in Arizona and Idaho advanced bills to take control of federal lands within their borders, and the U.S. Senate approved a budget amendment sponsored by Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) supporting the transfer idea.
As states consider taking over federal lands, politicians in Washington should recognize that it is time for reform. In a new report, published by the Property and Environment Research Center, my co-author Holly Fretwell and I contrast how state lands in the West fare compared with federal lands. Our conclusion: The feds could learn from the states about responsible land management.
Consider: The Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management lose $2 billion each year managing federal lands. For example, the feds are notorious for conducting “below-cost” timber sales, in which they spend more selling the timber than they get in return.
States consistently generate positive financial returns. The four states we examined—Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico and Montana—earn an average of $14.51 for every dollar they spend on land management; the feds lose 27 cents.
These states earn on average seven times more for every dollar spent than the federal agencies on timber and energy development, 35 times more on grazing, and 25 times more on recreation. In New Mexico this amounted to nearly $817 million in 2014, enough to pay the salaries of 17,000 teachers, according to the state land office.
States are making this money without causing greater harm to forest health or water quality. Like the federal government, states conduct environmental assessments, create timber plans and allow for public input. But states do that work at much lower cost—and with far less litigation—than the feds.
The reasons are straightforward: States have a fiduciary responsibility to generate revenue for certain beneficiaries such as public schools. States also cannot run deficits year after year like the Treasury Department. This keeps state land managers accountable and encourages fiscal responsibility.
Federal land agencies also lack a clear purpose. Overlapping regulations and conflicting mandates create “analysis paralysis,” which increases costs and often prevents agencies from carrying out routine practices such as forest restoration and thinning.
As the Forest Service noted in a 2002 report, the agency is “so busy meeting procedural requirements, such as preparing voluminous plans, studies, and associated documentation, that it has trouble fulfilling its historic mission: to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.”
States offer several lessons on how to reform federal land management. To start, Congress should streamline the regulations that now preoccupy these agencies. A single Forest Service project can take years to move forward and cost more than $1 million in planning.
The federal government should also ensure that those who benefit from federal lands pay their way. For instance, the feds regularly set fees for mineral development and grazing at below-market values. States encourage competitive bidding, allow environmental groups to bid for leases, and even charge modest fees for recreation.
Federal lands should provide a rich source of revenues to benefit the public, but they are instead a fiscal burden on taxpayers. Congress should take note, or states may decide it is time to bring a new sheriff to town.
– See more at: http://www.perc.org/articles/us-department-land-hogging#sthash.ySOcM2wr.dpuf
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 12/15/15
Well, the year started off a little rough when, on the first day back from Christmas break, little Latrina got kicked out of school for sending her math teacher to the hospital. She says he called her a “stute,” and that’s why she threw the chair at him and walked out of class. I raised my little girl not to be a stute. She is a good girl. I do believe she did the right thing. But not being in school and all, Latrina went to work making about $70 a day standing on the corner by Walmart, holding a sign that said, “I’m not homeless but my mama’s too lazy to get a job so she makes me do this bulls***.” Latrina is an honest girl just like I taught her to be.
Latrina did well making money on the corner by Walmart but unfortunately one week it got real cold and the thermometer dipped below 0* for a few days. Latrina had to go to the hospital to have all her fingers and toes removed since they turned black from the frostbite. But she’s a fast healer and as soon as it warmed up again she went right back to work, and talk about a cash cow! My little Latrina, without fingers or toes, is pulling in twice as much cash as before. Thank God for small miracles! Uncle Sputum came down with an incurable skin disease and so he got an early release from the state prison! He moved in with us but we don’t have a lot of room bein’s Bubo, Boyle and Blain live here with Latrina, me, Aunt Edema, and the 7 dogs. Uncle Sputum don’t mind sleeping in the shed, which is preferable to us because he smells kinda bad, especially on warm days. But he does some cooking for us. The ingredients are a little strange, since he gets most of them from a chemistry catalog, but he’s making it just fine for now and always seems to have a lot of pep!
This was a sad month for us as Uncle Sputum was killed in a shoot-out with cops right outside the trailer on St. Patrick’s Day. I swear, he was just celebrating when he got naked, took my shotgun and started shooting the crows in that tree across the street. He didn’t mean to aim that gun at the cops. He was a good man. We will all miss Uncle Sputum. I put an ad on Craig’s List for to sell his chemistry equipment and weird cookbooks. He spent an awful lot of time cooking, but it weren’t food. But that’s okay cause I lost 100 pounds while Uncle Sputum was living here. God rest his gentle soul.
Well, we like it when the weather warms up this time of year, but the snow melts and the neighbors tell us to clean up all the dog crap the snow has been hiding since October. It’s not a pleasant job, but Bubo, Boyle and Blain do it for me, and it’s easy just to scoop up the dog dirt and toss it over the fence–into the neighbor’s yard. That’s where my brother’s ex-wife’s cousin’s niece lives and she’s not a nice person. Back in 1998 she tricked my brother’s ex-wife’s cousin’s best friend into knocking her up cause he’s a professional cage fighter and she lives off the child support he pays her for that baby. Oh, how I hate these low-life people. They got no class at all. For Easter we all loaded up in the van and went to Pea Ridge to celebrate with Aunt Edema’s daughter, Biopsy, who is also my favorite cousin. She filled up plastic Easter Eggs with things like used cotton balls and twisty ties and such and the kids just had a blast hunting for them. Biopsy don’t have much property though, so she hid them in the cemetery across the highway from her place. But good things can go bad, and apparently somebody called the cops on Boyle, who was havin’ so much fun he forgot himself and took a pee on a tombstone. Easter came to a sad end when I had to post bond for all three of my boys, since Bubo and Blain were arrested along with Boyle for trying to tip over the patrol car. They’re good strong boys. I can’t believe all this happened just because Boyle had to relieve himself. But it’s a great blessing that Latrina had enough money saved up so I could bail my boys out of county lock-up. It’s enough to make you want to kill, skin and cook the danged Easter Bunny.
This was a month to celebrate! Cousin Phlegm’s boy, Ryot, was the only boy in his class of the age of 15 to graduate from 6th grade! We were all so proud. The family, except Latrina ’cause she was working the corner next to Golden Corral downtown that day, met at Phlegm’s place where we had a real big party for Ryot. Phlegm’s wife, Listeria, got some food from the salvage food store and there was music and a wading pool and more beer than you could believe. Aunt Edema wore her favorite tube top and that made her back cyst real obvious. Ryot, a real smart boy, had the great idea that we should drain her cyst so everybody could watch. Then Bubo piped up and said, “hey, let’s film you poppin’ her cyst so we can put it on Youtube!” We spent a good 30 minutes watching Listeria drain Edema’s cyst. Oh, it stunk, and you had to stand back so it didn’t squirt on you, but that kept everybody entertained for the whole afternoon.
Some gifts just keep on givin’. Bubo put the video of Aunt Edema’s cyst drainin’ on Youtube and guess what? We got 2,346,702 views and, you know what that means? We got enough money from the ads that WE WENT TO DISNEY! Latrina stayed home and took care of the trailer and dogs while the rest of us went on vacation. She’s such a good girl. I raised her that way. Plus, without any fingers, I knew it might be hard for Latrina to keep a grip on those adventure rides. And I would feel just awful if anything bad happened to that girl.
We got some real sad news on the 4th of July. Apparently Uncle Phlegm and Aunt Listeria’s boy, Ryot, tried to shoot off some homemade fireworks. He had good intentions and all ’cause he just wanted to relive the wonderful fireworks shows we saw at Disney every night for two weeks. I don’t know why he thought a welding torch would be good to light his homemade fireworks but it didn’t go very well. Poor Ryot, one of the only kids in the family to graduate 6th grade, lost both arms up to the elbows in the explosion. While Phlegm and Listeria were in the hospital with Ryot, their komodo dragon, Marlin, escaped and hasn’t been seen since.
If there is an angel on earth it would be Latrina. That girl is such a sweetheart. She really wanted to cheer Ryot up since he was feeling kinda down, being armless and all. As soon as that boy got out of the hospital she put him to work with her asking for money at the corner by Applebee’s. He learned how to hold an old ice cream bucket with the handle in his teeth and when people would see these two precious children; a girl with no fingers or toes and a boy with no arms up to his elbows, they just load them up with cash. I tell you, sometimes bad things happen, but then it turns out better than winning the lottery. Phlegm and Listeria both quit their jobs at the convenience store and that gives us some real good catchin’ up time. Especially since we all love to play cards.
Boyle, my middle son, is a special boy and I always believed he was star material. I don’t know if I mentioned this before but he spends a lot of time pretending to be a dog. He will play with the dogs, roll around with them in the dirt, chase cars, sniff their butts and such. Well it got really heartwarming when one of our mongrel bitches had a big litter of pups that she couldn’t care for all by herself. Boyle, bless his heart, got in the box with that mama dog just like he was a bitch himself. He cleaned the pups with his tongue. He let them nurse at his nipples–he really seemed relaxed during nursing time–he was just an excellent dog. Well, then we heard that TLC Channel was looking for people to feature in their reality program called “My Strange Attention-Getting Behavior” and we all immediately thought of Boyle. Guess what? He met with the producer of the show and got all set up do his own episode! My boy was set to be a television star! Unfortunately, the filming had to be delayed when Boyle came down with a real bad case of tapeworms.
What a crazy month. I spent a couple of weeks helping Boyle nurse his tapeworm infection. I heard about this real expensive medicine the doctor wanted Boyle to take but instead of spending the money, I just had him swallow his chewing tobacco instead of spitting it out. With poor Boyle sufferin’ and all I completely forgot about my precious angel baby, Latrina. One day Bubo noticed that the housework was behind and piped up and said, Mama, “It looks like Latrina is slacking on her jobs. Where is she anyway?” Then my heart just about stopped when I realized that I hadn’t seen her or Ryot since that TLC Channel producer feller was looking at Boyle to be the next big TV star. Blain, the calm one, just said if we wait long enough Latrina and Ryot would show up. So we sat down on the couch and clicked on the TV to the TLC Channel, and GUESS WHO WE SAW HAD THEIR OWN TV SHOW? You know it! Latrina and Ryot were right there on the TV screen in their own television reality program called, “Amputee Panhandlers.” Poor Boyle was just heartbroken. But for now, Aunt Edema is going back to work at the water plant and I guess the boys will have to pick up the chores.
Well, sometimes you think things can’t get any worse then your own kid turns on you. As if it wasn’t bad enough that I had to go get Bubo, Boyle and Blain out of jail on Halloween night for nothing more than borrowing a police patrol car and collecting jack ‘o’ lanterns off folks’ porches and donating them to the poor folks here in the trailer park. Those boys were just doing charity. You’d think the cops would give them credit for being kind to people. Well, while I was still trying to recover, the day after Halloween I got a letter from Latrina. Only, it wasn’t from Latrina. It was from some fancy lawyer representing her and Ryot. It said my baby girl and her cousin Ryot got legally emancipated and are now in charge of all the money they make on their TV reality program. Here, this is what it said; “Heretofore wherewith Ryot Sluge and Latrina Carbuncle, having been found to be self-sufficient with adequate means for support, will herewith put their forthcoming funds in a trust to be held forever for their personal benefit into perpetuity, having severed all ties forthwith and from this day forward and shall have no contact with members of either the Sluge or Carbuncle families.” Don’t that just break your heart. I was so good to them kids. I just saw on the TMZ website that “Amputee Panhandlers” was the biggest new thing since Jersey Shore. I bet those kids are millionaires. S***!
Trying to take my mind off Latrina and the way she did us wrong, the boys and I spent the time making Christmas ornaments out of stuff we found around the house since we’re poor because Latrina cheated us out of our happy life. It’s amazing what you can make from used paper plates and Copenhagen cans. We have a lot of Copenhagen cans around as Boyle still struggles with his tapeworms. Aunt Edema isn’t here to help me with the house cleaning since she went back to work at the water plant then moved in with Cousin Biopsy. Uncle Phlegm and Aunt Edema were so broken up over what Ryot and Latrina did that they moved to Oregon in their 5th-wheel. Their komodo dragon, Marlin, got his pictures all over town in the post office and police station and dog pound. Apparently Marlin had a habit of eating litters of new puppies. Good thing Boyle still sleeps with our dogs and keeps them safe from that damn lizard. Well, as you can tell, we’re feeling kind of down and we don’t expect this Christmas to have much cheer. But if you would like to help us out we sure would appreciate it. Cash is really what this little family needs. After all, Christmas is about givin’.
Happy Christmas from Mama Candida Carbuncle and sons (’cause I don’t got a daughter anymore)
by Marjorie Haun 12/12/15