December
9
2014

Colorado Policy Going Soft on Violent Juvenile Offenders Makes Life Hard for Detention Staff

December 9, 2014

Attacks on juvenile detention staff skyrocket after policy change

By   /   December 8, 2014  

Photo By Arthur Kane

DANGEROUS WORK: Attacks on staff at several juvenile detention centers, including Lookout Mountain, have increased recently.

By Arthur Kane | Watchdog.org

Attacks on juvenile detention staff in Colorado skyrocketed starting in July, including an inmate knocking detention staff unconscious, a female inmate head-butting a worker causing a concussion and one inmate beating a 65-year-old employee nearly to death with a pillow case full of rocks.

Between July and October, a Watchdog.org investigation found, 91 juvenile detention staffers were injured in incidents with youths – nearly twice the average of any other four-month period since November 2012, according to state figures obtained under open records laws.

The increase of staff injuries started about the time state officials instituted a policy banning most seclusion to deal with violent youths.

State Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, said the numbers obtained by Watchdog.org clearly demonstrate the Colorado Department of Human Services is mismanaging its youth detention facilities.

Courtesy State Legislative website

LEGISLATIVE CONCERN: State Sen. Kent Lambert said the state is mismanaging youth detention facilities.

“This is very concerning,” said Lambert, who chairs the powerful Joint Budget Committee and has previously expressed concerns about increased violence at the Colorado Springs-based Spring Creek Youth Services Center. “There are major management issues throughout the Department of Human Services.”

Robert Werthwein, acting director of CDHS Division of Youth Corrections, said he doesn’t know exactly why attacks on staff increased in the past few months, and there probably isn’t one reason.

“As you know, we have a wide range of different kids that come from very difficult backgrounds, and we’re trying to serve them and provide them the right skills,” he said.

But despite not knowing the cause, the division’s solution is to hire 208 more employees at a cost of nearly $10 million over the next two fiscal years, the division’s budget request says. CDHS concedes the inmate population hasn’t increased since June, but in the past year juvenile detention facilities have seen more gang-affiliated inmates and youths with complex behavioral problems enter the facilities.

The staff is necessary, Werthwein argued, to bring staff-to-inmate ratios in line with what is required by a 2003 federal prison rape prevention law. Now, Colorado facilities have between a one-to-10 and one-to-14 staff-to-inmate ratio during daytime hours; the law requires a one-to-eight ratio, the request says.

“When the ratio of staff to youth is better, it allows staff to work one on one with youth,” Werthwein said in a phone interview.

But Lambert said there has to be accountability from CDHS for the problems at the facility. “I’m not seeing someone say the buck stops here or anywhere,” he said.

Werthwein said CDHS is working to fix problems.

“We are taking responsibility,” he said. “We’re willing to look at any improvements to make the system stronger.”

Despite more potential state employees, Colorado WINS, the union representing state workers, and its executive director, Tim Markham, failed to return repeated calls and email from Watchdog.org to discuss attacks on state workers.

Four facilities — Lookout Mountain, Mountain View, Platte Valley and Spring Creek — have had the most attacks and the largest increases in staff injuries, state figures  show.

While attacks on staff happen nearly every month at some of the state’s 10 youth detention facilities, injuries to staff because of youth actions between July and October are nearly double the previous record of 53 incidents between March and June, CDHS records show.

Chart Provided By CDHS Under Open Records Request

VIOLENT TIMES: State chart tracks the increase in violence at juvenile detention facilities.

CDHS declined to provide details of the incidents, citing child protection laws. But Watchdog.org obtained reports from local police, who were called to many of the assaults.

The reports read like scenes from the cable prison drama “Oz.”

Photo By Arthur Kane

SUFFERING STAFF: Thirteen staff members were injured in four months at the Lookout Mountain facility.

The most high-profile incident happened the night of Aug. 30 at Lookout Mountain when Zachary Curtis Oliver, 17, snuck up and bludgeoned a 65-year-old staff member with a pillow case full of rocks, cracking the employee’s skull, police and court records say.

Oliver, who was charged with attempted murder, and three other youths, who were also charged with serious offenses, took a hacksaw, baseball bat and other items and cut the fence at the Golden, Colo., facility, court records show. Police said the youths were apprehended within hours after gathering in a park adjacent to a police station in a neighboring suburb.

Police and state records also show:

  • At Lookout Mountain at the end of July, a 16-year-old boy threw a chair and punched a staff member while being subdued.
  • In September at Lookout, an 18-year-old inmate punched a staffer several times in the face, inflicting a bruise on his forehead and a swollen lip.
  • In August at Mountain View, a pregnant female inmate punched and head-butted a counselor who was trying to restrain her, inflicting a concussion.
  • In September, at the same facility, a 17-year-old youth hit a staffer below the right ear, knocking the employee unconscious for three to five seconds.Photo Courtesy CDHS website

    MOST PROBLEMATIC: Spring Creek had 25 staff injured in incidents with youths.

  • On Aug. 7, a riot broke out in Pod A at Spring Creek, and the facility has had more than two dozen staff injuries in the four months ending in October.
  • At Platte Valley, staff were injured in 11 incidents between July and October, and police were called 13 times for assaults in that time. There were only a dozen staff injuries in total for the 20 months before this July, records show.

The increase in violence is not just a problem for staff — it’s costing the taxpayers of the municipalities where the facilities are located.

Golden Police Capt. Daryl Hollingsworth said one of the city’s detectives spends nearly all of his time investigating crimes at Lookout Mountain. The city has four full-time detectives, one half-time staffer and another who works with the drug task force.

“Unfortunately, for the City of Golden, our taxpayers are burdened with this facility,” he said.

Photo Courtesy CDHS website

VALLEY VIOLENCE: Platte Valley detention center saw 11 staff injuries between July and October.

A July 18, 2014 CDHS memo says, “SECLUSION SHALL NEVER BE USED AS PART OF A SPECIAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM.” Special management programs, which now include restricting inmates from certain programs, providing incentives for good behavior and giving supportive counseling, are the main way staff handles violent inmates.

The department defines SMP as “the placement of a juvenile onto a specialized, behavior management program for the purpose of controlling and affecting behavior which is considered to be (a) safety risk to the individual juvenile or others, or for assisting juveniles requiring specialized care.”

Werthwein said he doesn’t know whether the policy to end seclusion increased attacks. Seclusion is used to control inmates during attacks, but the youths are let out as soon as the situation is under control, he said.

“I haven’t looked at the stats and done an analysis of attacks and injuries,” he said. “It’s difficult to narrow it down to one specific thing.”

But when Watchdog.org told Hollingsworth about the timing of the policy change and the increase of attacks, he said it makes him “wonder.”

Wayne Bear, president Council for Juvenile Detention, said there’s no evidence that long-term seclusion decreases violence and it may increase youth suicides. But an outright ban on seclusion can also be problematic.

“As an association, we believe we would support the use of isolation to create a safe environment, cool down the juveniles and regain control and then reintegrate him into population,” he said. “That seems to be an effective way to get the job done.”

Lambert said management at the top has to take the issue seriously, or the governor should appoint new people to head the detention centers and the whole of CDHS.

“It just seems to be a pattern that needs to be broken,” he said.  

Arthur Kane is an investigative reporter who covers Colorado and Oklahoma. You can follow him at @ArthurMKane. If you have tips or investigative ideas, email him at akane@watchdog.org

Reposted by Reagangirl.com  12/9/14

December
7
2014

10 Old-fashioned Desserts We Should Bring Back into Vogue

December 7, 2014

Few modern pantries contain items such as dried currants and suet (beef fat taken from around the kidneys of a cow), but those ingredients were once inexpensive and readily available on the family farm. Recipes handed down from one generation to another often got their start in a farm kitchen where a creative home cook would throw together whatever was available and in-season. After all, our great-grandmothers had no supermarkets and only limited ingredients with which to bake. Many of the desserts we think of as old-fashioned are as much a comfort to our memories as they are to our stomachs. Here are 10 old-fashioned desserts we should bring back into gastronomic vogue.

Mincemeat Pie

Yes, there is real meat in mincemeat pie. Although knock-off versions of this centuries-old recipe exist which omit less-available ingredients such as suet and currants, the original mincemeat pie is hearty, rich, and packed with nutrients and calories that helped our ancestors weather the coldest winter days.

1 1/2 cups diced cooked beef 

4 cups chopped apples

1 ½ cups currants (zante currants)

1 1/2 cups raisins

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup pineapple juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 cup suet

Combine the cooked beef, apples, currants, raisins, apple cider vinegar, pineapple juice, salt, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, molasses, suet and 1 cup beef broth. Cook over medium heat until the apples break down and the texture is semi-smooth. Store in the refrigerator. When ready to use, bake in a 2-crust pie pastry at 425 for 40-50 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Mixture is enough for 2-9 inch pies. Serve warm or cold.

 

Sour Cream Raisin Pie

This classic pie originated in Germany and was popular with pioneers who settled in the West. Many varieties of grapes grow well in the arid western states, and farmers often had an abundant supply of home-dried raisins. Sour cream was also available on the farm where at least one milk cow supplied all the dairy products the family needed. This sweet-creamy pie makes an apt reward from a hard day of work on the farm.

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 cup sour cream

1 cup raisins

3 egg whites

6 tablespoons sugar

1/2 pie pastry

 

Black Pudding

This is a perfect example of the creative combination of basic ingredients coming together in a yummy and wholesome dessert. Black Pudding gets its dark color from molasses, and can be modified by the addition of nuts, spices, or dried fruit. But the original recipe was a favorite among the American pioneers who traveled westward as well as ranchers who found themselves somewhat isolated from trading posts and general stores.

6 Eggs

1 c. Sweet Milk (dissolve 2 Tbsp. honey or sugar in milk)

2 c. Flour

1 tsp Soda

1 c. Sugar

1 tsp Cinnamon

1 c. Molasses

Mix well.  Pour into 1-pound (coffee) can and steam for 2 to 3 hours by placing in kettle of boiling water.  Keep covered.

Serve with a vinegar sauce:

1 c. Sugar

1 Tbsp. Butter

1 Tbsp. Flour

2 Tbsp. Vinegar

½ tsp Nutmeg

2 beaten eggs

Boiling water

Add enough boiling water for the amount of sauce wanted. Add two slightly beaten eggs and cook stirring constantly until slightly thickened and smooth. Spoon onto warm slices of Black Pudding.

 

Pound Cake

Today’s foodie culture is one of science and refinement. Our modern kitchens have every tool imaginable, including implements that will measure to the exact gram. Food preparation of the past required a lot of guess work and many of us remember our grandmothers using their bare hands for measuring cups and “eyeballing” the ingredients as they whipped up cake batter and cookie dough. Pound Cake is named for the estimated amount of each of its ingredients. Not exact, but close enough, the approximate weight of one pound for each ingredient in Pound Cake invariably results in a dense, rich, and delicious treat.

1 pound room-temperature butter (4 sticks)  

1 pound granulated sugar (about 2 cups)

1 pound eggs (about 8 medium or 7 large)

1 pound all-purpose flour (about 3 ¼ cups)

1 teaspoon vanilla or ¼ teaspoon almond extract, optional

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and flour alternately until incorporated. Add extract. Divide batter into 2 greased loaf pans. Place the pans on the middle rack of a cold oven, and turn it to 275 degrees.  Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate the pans and turn the temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake an additional 15 – 25 minutes.

 

 Graham Bread

Similar to Graham Crackers, this softer version of a childhood favorite is easy to construct with simple ingredients. Graham flour, once common in the home pantry, is now considered a specialty item. You whole-grain advocates will be glad to know that graham flour is a whole wheat flour in which the bran and germ layers of the wheat kernels are finely ground and included in the end product. Graham bread, named after the man who invented this particular wheat grinding technique, is not only comforting, it’s also healthy!

3 c. Graham flour

1 c. whole wheat flour 

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

½ c. brown sugar

2 ½ c. milk

Sift together the dry ingredients and stir in milk until it becomes a soft dough.

Pour into a well-greased bread pan, cover with parchment paper or foil and bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes. Serve warm or cool.

 

Shortbread

Shortbread dates back to medieval times and was popular with the Celts. The “short” in shortbread refers to the fat or shortening in the recipe. Heavy on fat, shortbread is also versatile and can be used as a cookie, a tart crust, or as a cake layer in a parfait or trifle. Like Pound Cake, shortbread is made of simple ingredients. The trick is to create a dough that is substantial but not tough. Making shortbread with the perfect density and texture might take practice, but it’s worth it. There are few simple desserts that can be applied as creatively as ages-old shortbread.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup butter, softened 

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 360. In medium size bowl mix all ingredients until the dough is smooth and holds together. Divide dough in half. Press each half into an ungreased 8-9 inch square pan. Cut shortbread into eight slices. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown. Remove shortbread from oven and immediately recut with a sharp knife.  Cool in pan for 30 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool thoroughly.

 

Poor Man’s Pudding

Even a near-empty cupboard didn’t stop my mom from making a batch of Poor Man’s Pudding. This personal favorite from my childhood is ultra-simple, warm and comforting. Poor Man’s Pudding was handed-down from my grandmother to my mom who grew up during the Great Depression when fancy ingredients were scarce or unaffordable. Like many other simple desserts, this moist cake can be changed-up with nuts, butterscotch chips, or other items. Poor Man’s Pudding, with its topping of tangy sauce, will bring a smile to the wealthiest man on earth!

Cake

1 1/2 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup butter

1 cup sugar  

1 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

Sauce

1 Tbsp. white vinegar or lemon juice

1 cup Brown Sugar

1 cup boiling water

1/4 cup butter

In a bowl sift flour and baking powder together. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar and add vanilla. Slowly add the milk and flour in alternating 1/4 cup increments until all together and smooth. Spread in a buttered baking dish. Bake in a 325 preheated oven for 45 minutes.

For the sauce, in a sauce pan, mix all the sauce ingredients together and bring to a boil. Stir gently until slightly thickened. Spoon over warm cake.

 

Rice Pudding

Food cops pooh-pooh beige foods, but carb-rich desserts made of basic ingredients hold a special place as historic staple recipes. Like most other relatively-monochromatic desserts in this list, rich, creamy Rice Pudding is delicious embellished or just plain.

2 c. cooked rice

1 1/4 c. milk

½ c. heavy cream 

1/2 c. sugar

1 tbsp. butter

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Cinnamon

½ cup raisins (optional)

Combine cooked rice, milk, heavy cream, (raisins) sugar, butter, salt, vanilla and nutmeg in a buttered 1 quart baking dish. Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour, stirring after 15 minutes and again when pudding is done. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve warm or chilled. Pudding thickens as it stands.

 

Molasses Candy

Molasses candy is pulled like taffy but sets up hard like toffee. It’s strong, slightly bitter flavor may take a while to get used to, but soon becomes addictive. Molasses is a by-product of the sugar-refining process, and had a pungent sweetness unlike anything else. Not only is molasses a versatile sweetener in the kitchen, it’s also known for its laxative properties. As a regular treat, or just to stay regular, molasses is in a candy class of its own.

1 1/2 cups molasses

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 tablespoon butter 

1/8 teaspoon soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine molasses, sugar, and vinegar and cook to a hard-ball stage. Add butter, soda, and salt; remove from heat and stir until soda is blended, then pour onto greased platter. When cool, pull between greased fingertips until white and stiff. Cut into pieces.

 

 Fruitcake

The world’s most misunderstood dessert deserves a second chance. Fruitcake probably got its bad reputation from the bitter citron and currants used in old recipes. Those ingredients are still available but not necessary since a wide variety of dried and candied fruits, nuts, and even flavored baking chips make excellent substitutes for their bitter predecessors. Set in a cake matrix, the fruit in fruitcake need not be limited to what your grandmother once used. It’s time clever dessert makers give fruitcake a gentle make-over so it gets the appreciation it deserves. Here is a new-fashioned version the most re-gifted Holiday gift in history.

1 cup golden raisins

1 lb. pitted chopped dates

1 lb. pecan pieces

1 lb. candied red and green cherries

1 lb. candied pineapple 

2 cups butter softened

3 cups light brown sugar

8 eggs whisked

6 cups flour

1 cup milk

1 Tbsp. baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

In a large mixing bowl, combine the raisins, dates, candied fruits and nuts. Mix in approximately 1 cup of the flour.

Cream the butter and brown sugar and continue mixing until it is light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs. Alternately add the remaining flour and milk. Add baking powder, vanilla and salt. Beat another minute until the batter is creamy and smooth. Fold it into the fruit and nut mixture.

Prepare your pan by greasing, covering with brown paper and then greasing again. Pour in the batter and bake at 275° for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (If you use dark metal pans, reduce the oven temperature to 250°.)

by Marjorie Haun  12/7/14

 

 

 

 

 

 

December
5
2014

Obamacare’s Faulty Tower to the Sky

December 5, 2014

Picture this:

A seven-year-old boy is building a Tower to the Sky with wooden blocks. There is no rhyme nor reason to his construction, and he’s building his great tower on the credenza in the living room between a fragile lamp and a goldfish bowl. His mother walks by as he piles one mismatched block on top of another and says, “Son, I don’t think that tower will stand. Those are the wrong kind of blocks. Nothing matches and the blocks don’t interlock with one another.” But the little boy, determined to build his tower no matter what, says, “You’re just saying that because you want me to fail, Mom. You don’t know what you’re talking about because you’re too stupid to understand what I’m doing.” The little boy scrounges in his toy box for even more mismatched blocks and continues to balance them precariously, one on top of another. His father walks by, then stops and stares at his son’s obsessive endeavor. “My boy,” says the father, “you’re trying to achieve a remarkable thing, but it’s going to collapse. Just look at how fragile your tower is. And I’m afraid son, that when it falls, and it will, you’re going to damage that expensive lamp and kill the goldfish.” The son, exasperated by his parents’ lack of faith in the Tower to the Sky snaps. “I don’t care what you say, Dad. I’m building it because people will remember me as the boy who built the Tower to the Sky. I don’t care if it falls. I don’t care if it breaks everything in the house! I want my tower and you can’t stop me.” Inevitably, despite the warnings of his parents, and the obvious frailties and flaws in the design of the boy’s Tower to the Sky, the blocks teeter then fall, breaking the goldfish bowl and sending the delicate lamp crashing to the floor in a shattered heap.blocks

Aside from the boy deserving an extended time-out in the Gobi Desert, one can’t help but wonder if he learned his lesson. Will he acknowledge the failure of his Tower to the Sky? No! Of course not. Instead, the impudent, arrogant boy screams at his parents, “It’s your fault! You’re so stupid, you just don’t get it! You didn’t believe in me. You did everything you could to undermine my project. It’s your fault that my tower crashed, now YOU clean it up!”

This scenario is, of course, an analogy for the short and dreadful history of Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act.

Dr. Michael Pramenko of Grand Junction recently wrote a guest column featured in a Western Slope newspaper in which he took on the persona of the little boy, screaming that his beloved creation had failed, blaming those who warned him about the flaws in its design for the failure of his creation! Dr. Pramenko is an Obamacare defender, and has been from the get-go, and his column titled, Critics of Obamacare now have to deliver an alternative, was akin to the boy with the broken tower demanding that his parents clean up his mess, despite their many warnings that it was a disaster waiting to happen.

Supporters of Obamacare have accused Republicans of undermining the ACA, and in Dr. Pramenko’s words, “target[ing] the piecemeal destruction of the ACA with little attention to its replacement.” The problem with that assertion is the ACA is in an inexorable process of self-destruction, and Republicans have had little to do with its failure other than acting as sideline commentators, describing the blow-by-blow disintegration of Obama’s Tower to the Sky, with an occasional interjection of, “We told you so.”

In his column, Dr. Pramenko asserted that the only viable answer to the question of American healthcare would be a government-run system.  He derided free-market improvements to the existing system proposed by Conservatives as “some unspecified ‘market-based’ approach.” However, like the little boy whose Tower to the Sky failed to meet even the most modest expectations, Dr. Pramenko and other Democrats are in denial about the what is responsible for the exceptionalism of American medicine; innovation, and Free-Market competition.

Medicaid and Medicare are attempts at socialized medicine, but both have been beset for decades with burdensome bureaucracies and costly inefficiencies. Instead of subverting the entire private healthcare system for the purported goal of making sure that all Americans get access to affordable healthcare insurance, why didn’t Obama and congressional Democrats simply reform the existing programs and promote innovation and competition in the existing insurance market? The answer is easy; like the boy in the story, they wanted to be remembered for building the Tower to the Sky.

Free-markets, with competition and incentives for personal health-maintenance, are the answer. Conservative opponents of government-run medicine knew it wouldn’t work, would cost billions more than predicted, and harm the very people it was supposed to help. Socialized medicine has never been and will never be sustainable.

If Obamacare advocates were intellectually-honest they would acknowledge the numerous ACA-alternatives that have been put forth by Conservative think-tanks, legislators, and independent physician organizations such as the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, and other patient-centered care associations. The best “repeal and replace” Obamacare alternatives are market-based, patient-centered, portable from state to state (just like the highly competitive car insurance industry), cover pre-existing conditions, promote personal responsibility by reducing costs for healthy people, promote state and federal partnerships, and apply effective reforms to existing programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.

A few weeks ago, the godfather of Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber, gracelessly confirmed what many believed all along; that the ACA passed only because its inner-workings and fatal flaws were intentionally hidden from the scrutiny of voters. Like the little boy in the story who knew his tower was doomed, yet refused to heed his parents’ warnings, Gruber and the architects of Obamacare want all the credit for its intended goals; universal coverage, lower costs, insuring young adults, etc., but refuse to acknowledge that, in reality, their creation is a failure resulting in fewer insured, skyrocketing costs, and disillusioned young adults who would rather pay the tax penalty than sign up for the ACA’s so-called benefits.

Instead of heaping blame on Obamacare’s opponents for its failures and demanding they clean up the mess, perhaps Obamacare supporters should admit that the ACA was inviable from its inception and requires the fixes which Conservatives have proposed all along.

Defenders of Obamacare and other faltering government programs seem to be more interested in being called “compassionate” and “caring” than they are in producing results that actually help people. When Conservatives bring up the fact that reforms are necessary to save Medicare and Social Security from going bankrupt, Liberals scream, “They’re gonna throw Granny off the cliff!” or “Republicans want old people to eat cat food and die!” It’s hard to believe Liberals are serious about compassionate policies when they block and vilify Conservative efforts to ensure that Americans who need help have a dependable source of help now and in the future.

Perhaps the Gruber revelations will bring Americans to realize that we don’t need grandiose, impossible Towers to the Sky, but rather reality-based solutions where free-markets encourage healthy competition, and preventative medicine is a personal responsibility.

* * * * * * * * * * *

By Marjorie Haun  12/5/14

December
4
2014

Private Property is the Real “Endangered Species” in Federal Land Grab

Long land battle

ENVIRONMENT | Environmentalists and an aggressive federal government are trying to remove ranchers from federal lands they have used for generations

By

as originally published on worldmag.com  November 14, 2014

Meadow Canyon, where the BLM seized Hage’s cattle in 1991

Meadow Canyon, where the BLM seized Hage’s cattle in 1991

Two coils of rope and a cowboy hat hang on bull horns mounted over Wayne Hage Jr.’s desk, the rest of his office dedicated to shelves upon shelves of law books. In the evening at his generator-powered Nevada ranch, Hage and his sister Ramona Morrison engage in repartee on court cases and property laws, as his three young children roast marshmallows in the living room fireplace.

If Hage and Morrison had their way, they’d be spending their days focused on taking care of the Pine Creek Ranch: galloping through shrub-dotted valleys and jutting rocky mountains, rounding up stray cattle, and following in the footsteps of generations before them. Instead, overgrown weeds line the dirt road in Meadow Canyon, as Hage has just returned from a weeklong visit with his attorney to prepare for an upcoming appeal. Morrison now lives near Reno working as a legal consultant specializing in property rights in the West.

The Hage family has now fought a 35-year battle against the federal government to protect the family’s grazing and water rights. With more than 87 percent of Nevada’s land owned by the federal government, ranchers are allowed grazing permits and many have water rights dating back to the 1800s. Yet since the Hages moved to their 752,000-acre ranch near Tonopah, Nev., in the late ’70s, officials from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service have buried the Hages with onerous regulations with an aim to kick them and their cattle off the land.

The tale of cowboys (and Indians) vs. federal bureaucrats (and environmentalists) stretches across the Western United States, where more than 50 percent of the land is federally owned, and goes back to the days of the Sagebrush Rebellion in the 1970s. Although the movement fizzled out when Ronald Reagan was voted president, the regulations continued to tighten and skirmishes broke out in the courtroom as well as on the range. Environmentalists aiming to wipe out all ranching on federal land have succeeded in getting the government to force more ranchers out of their livelihoods. In response, Western states are trying to transfer federal lands to state control, believing the federal government has broken its trust with its citizens.

BUMPING DOWN THE DIRT ROADS in Pine Creek Ranch is a time warp to a different age. After miles of nothing but arid Nevada desert, cotton candy skies, and the occasional cluster of munching cows, the ghost town of Belmont emerges in the distance. Crumbling facades from the 1865 mining town stand next to renovated buildings, like Dirty Dick’s Belmont Saloon. Inside the dimly lit room warmed by a wood-burning stove, hunters and ranchers with cowboy hats and leathered faces catch up on the latest news. One man pointed to the elk bloodstain on his khakis as a sign of his success that day, as an older man with an unruly white beard contemplated if he was celebrating his 49th or 50th wedding anniversary. He shrugs his shoulders and asks: “Who gets married in the middle of hunting season anyway?”

While Belmont was still in its heyday in 1866, Hage’s predecessors secured rights to water sources around the area to use for their cattle. Although Nevada became a state in 1864, the federal government did not dispose of the land in the state, in part because much of the land was too arid for homesteading. The federal government kept the land under its control, while recognizing vested water rights and grazing preferences. Currently, Pine Creek Ranch is 99 percent public land, and 1 percent privately owned.

In 1934, Congress passed the Taylor Grazing Act, which created grazing districts regulated by the federal government to ensure that the land would be put to good use. Ranchers had to pay for 10-year grazing permits, and priority was given to those who already had water rights in the area. While the purpose for the system was intended for good, many ranchers believe that the pendulum has now swung too far the other way as BLM officials make it nearly impossible for ranchers to stay in business.

Morrison remembers her excitement when her parents, Wayne and Jean Hage, brought her and her four siblings to their new home of Pine Creek Ranch in 1978. The horse-loving teen cherished the times her dad brought her along to round up cattle on horseback. The earlier owners sold the ranch because of trouble with the Forest Service, yet the elder Wayne Hage thought that with his experience working with the feds on his previous California ranch, he wouldn’t face the same problems.

Read more here

Reposted by Reagangirl.com  December 4, 2014

 

December
2
2014

Why the “White Privilege” Myth Helps No One

December 3, 2014

Is there anyone more more racist than an ‘ivory tower’ Liberal who believes he should suffer at the hands of criminals because he was born privileged, i.e. “superior,” in comparison to people of other races, and that to be less superior he must be taken down a notch or two by thugs of a less “privileged” race?

“White Privilege” is a myth. Unlike the monarchies and pseudo-constitutional governments of pre-revolutionary times, economic mobility in America as fluid as the opportunities that swirl around us. Not for some two hundred and thirty years have success and failure been predetermined by caste or pedigree. Whites born into poverty are no more “privileged” than minorities born into poverty. With a playing field made level by government by the people, persistent impoverishment among certain communities in the United States begs the question, “why do some rise above the circumstances of their birth while others stay trapped in generational poverty?”

The book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty (What Teachers Should Know) by Ruby K. Payne, asserts that “Love and acceptance for the middle class are based on achievement.” For the poverty class it’s personal popularity that merits love and acceptance, while, for the wealthiest classes, status and connections are the most vaunted qualities. It’s nice to be liked, and social status and prestige are certainly desirable, but among the things that bring love and admiration among differing classes of people, achievement is the only one quantifiable by any meaningful measure. Achievement is a middle class value, and the American middle class has always been the largest and most mobile of all socioeconomic classes.

Payne’s book also explains why generational poverty in the United States is not measured by income but by lifestyle choices. It’s now possible in America to have a greater income, much of it non-taxable, while living in “poverty” as a government dependent, than it is while working a full-time job. You will find many families with incomes lower than those on government welfare living middle class lifestyles because of their chosen value system. American “poverty” is not the poverty of Bangladesh or Mexico City. In America the you can own a car, two televisions, all kinds of appliances, and, in some states, have an income of nearly $40,000 per year for a family of four and be classified as “poor.” The words “poverty” and “poor” are too arbitrary to have economic meaning. The values practiced by families in individual homes are the only meaningful way to differentiate between who stays stuck in poverty and who is upwardly mobile.

So, what of this “White Privilege” thing? “White Privilege” denotes an endowment; having opportunity or wealth handed to you as a function of skin color. It’s an absurd concept given that not all whites are exempt from poverty and not all people of color are barred from upward mobility. The American middle class encompasses a higher percentage of people from all demographic groups than the poverty class. Despite the fact that during President Obama’s terms welfare dependence has exploded and joblessness among minorities has persisted at high rates, people are not limited by inherent traits such as skin color. Those who succeed, despite economically tough times, do so because they employ values such as dependability, hard work, creativity, and the desire to achieve no matter what their field of employment. Values–I like to call them ‘virtues’–that comprise a hard-driving work ethic and bring personal success are not exclusive to any particular race. They’re universal and accessible to all who choose to employ the habits that bring about achievement.

In a recent op-ed, a young white man, following his own mugging, wrote that “Privileged people deserve to get robbed at gunpoint.”  He’s the poster child for the liberal, self-loathing Flagellate Monks in the church of Political Correctness, who forever castigate themselves for being born as something other than an “oppressed minority.” It’s pretty pathetic when the very middle class values that are the foundation of achievement in America, are rejected by guilt-ridden folks who believe that success and failure are fixed traits determined by genetics. When you think about it, this is authentic racism. Is there anyone more more racist than an ‘ivory tower’ Liberal who believes he should suffer at the hands of criminals because he was born privileged, i.e. “superior,” in comparison to people of other races, and that to be less superior he must be taken down a notch or two by thugs of a less “privileged” race? Breathtaking.

The American middle class exists–and may go extinct–based on the values practiced by individuals. Achievement is measurable in many ways; income, family stability, thrift, health, educational success, devotion to charitable service, faith, marital resilience, etc. These middle class values are found in people of all income levels, and so are the backbone of American identity and liberty. Countless great figures became influential by working their way , bottom to top, in both achievement and wealth. God may bless the lives of virtuous people, but privilege is not a genetic condition. White Privilege is a myth, but what is not mythological is that achievement comes from living the values of self-restraint, hard work, and personal morality. In America, choices, not fate or genetics, determine who lives a successful life and who immerses themselves in frustration and envy, always blaming their woes on external forces or people who are different than them. Put simply, American success is not dependent on the color of one’s skin, but upon the content of one’s character.

by Marjorie Haun  12/3/14

December
2
2014

Gaps in the Nuclear Mission: 5 Things You Should Know

SECURITY COMMENTARY

As originally published on Daily Signal November 19, 2014

The Independent Review of the Nuclear Mission: Five Things You Need to Know

Last week, the Department of Defense published its long-awaited review of the U.S. nuclear enterprise. The review and renewed Russian nuclear threats to NATO attracted new attention to weapons that in 2009 the President promised both to maintain and to rid the world of. This conflicting rhetoric from the highest level of the government has led to confusion about the nation’s and the leadership’s commitment to the nuclear mission.

Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel ordered a review after a string of Air Force and Navy scandals earlier this year. This was not the first review of U.S. nuclear forces since the Cold War, as the review noted. As the panel urged in the report, this time, the government’s response needs to be “sustained and effective.”

The Findings

The review found:

  1. A significant gap between the soldiers who operate the nuclear system and the leadership. Thedisconnect between leadership intent and the soldiers’ daily experiences needs “to be addressed quickly and effectively.”
  2. Shortfalls in manning, equipment, documentation, and guidance. For example, three intercontinental-range ballistic missile bases were forced to share one maintenance tool.
  3. Nuclear activities are often embedded in a wide range of non-nuclear activities. There is no single Department of Defense nuclear enterprise.
  4. The perception that U.S. modernization plans are uncertain and rather unreliable, contrary to nuclear weapons modernization plans in other countries.
  5. A deeply flawed risk-assessment process. The process leads to a 100 percent expectation in every operational and administrative action, regardless of how those actions actually contribute to the nuclear mission. In some cases, this expectation detracts from fulfilling the nuclear mission.

Some of these issues are not new and were identified in previous Air Force and nuclear mission reviews.

The Panel’s Recommendations

The panel recommended:

  • Raising the public profile of nuclear forces and within the national security apparatus,
  • Refocusing the services on the nuclear mission as opposed to micromanagement and activities that are detrimental to the nuclear mission,
  • Restoring mission confidence and credibility, and
  • Ensuring accountability.

The Importance of the U.S. Nuclear Deterrent

In announcing the results of the review, Secretary Hagel stated: “Our nuclear deterrent plays a critical role in ensuring U.S. national security, and it’s DOD’s highest priority mission. No other capability we have is more important.”

So far, the cost of implementing recommendations is unclear, although Bob Work estimated that fully funding nuclear infrastructure would require about a 10 percent increase above the current level of $15 billion to $16 billion—a minor expense in the context of the federal budget.

The visibility of the U.S. leadership’s commitment to the nuclear mission is critical. In addition to the steps identified in the review, the Defense Department should ensure that nuclear weapons strategy is taught at U.S. war colleges and should strengthen across-the-force understanding of the importance of the nuclear mission. Nuclear weapons are still essential to U.S. national security; it is an imperative for the U.S. to get this mission right.

Reposted by Reagangirl.com  12/2/14

December
1
2014

Colorado’s Legalized Pot: A Dangerous Disappointment

December 1, 2014

Why Legalizing Pot Is a Bad IdeaAutosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

As published on CNSnew.com and the Daily Signal

At first blush, it may appear that the fight to thwart marijuana legalization is a lost cause. Pot pushers want you to believe that legalization is inevitable. They point to legalization successes this November in Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia.

But Big Pot lost in Florida, and five cities in pot-crazy Colorado outlawed the sale of marijuana, including Lakewood, Canon City, Palisade, Palmer Lake and Ramah. And now comes the latest Gallup poll from Nov. 6, which shows that support for marijuana legalization is down seven points from last year, from 58 percent to 51 percent. Even liberal support for legalization dropped four points from last year.

So why did the pot pushers lose a large state like Florida, and why is support for legalization falling?

That’s a tough question. But perhaps the public is starting to pay attention to scientific data and the actual dangers of marijuana, and the negative stories coming out of Colorado and Washington State since those states legalized marijuana.

The science is clear and unambiguous – pot is a dangerous substance. It is not like alcohol at all. There is a reason it is classified as a Schedule I controlled dangerous substance, right along with heroin, LSD and ecstasy. The American Medical Association, the American Lung Association and other reputable doctors and scientists all reject legalization. 

As Dr. Kevin Sabet, former senior advisor to President Obama’s drug policy office, states in his book “Reefer Sanity ‘Seven Great Myths About Marijuana,” the average strength of today’s marijuana is five to six times what it was in the 1960s and 1970s, and upwards of 10 to 20 times stronger than in the past.

Even the liberal editorial pages of The Washington Post urged voters not to legalize pot in the ballot initiative this past Nov. 4. The Post noted that “the rush to legalize marijuana gives us – and we hope voters – serious pause.”

The data coming out of Colorado is exhibit A on why voters should reject legalization efforts. Even the Democratic governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, said that legalizing marijuana in Colorado was “reckless.” As I have written at Heritage, pot-positive traffic fatalities have gone up 100 percent since voters legalized pot in Colorado. This is true despite the fact that overall traffic fatalities in Colorado have gone down since 2007.

A report by a federal grant-funded agency in Colorado found seven specific negative side effects that pot legalization has caused in Colorado:

1) the majority of DUI drug arrests involve marijuana;

2) youth consumption of marijuana has increased;

3) drug-related suspensions/expulsions increased 32 percent over a 5-year period and a majority was for marijuana;

4) an increase in college users;

5) almost 50 percent of Denver arrestees tested positive for marijuana;

6) marijuana-related emergency room visits increased 57 percent from 2011-2013; and

7) marijuana-related hospitalizations has increased 82 percent since 2008.

Perhaps people are also aware of new scientific studies pointing to the inherent dangers of marijuana. For example, the British health research journalThe Lancet Psychiatry recently concluded that teens who smoke marijuana are “also 60 percent less likely to graduate college and seven times more likely to attempt suicide.”

Others have picked up on the recent findings by the Journal of Addiction from Kings College London that found that marijuana is highly addictive, causes mental health problems and is a gateway drug to other illegal and dangerous drugs. That report found that regular adolescent marijuana users have lower educational attainment than non-using peers, that they were more likely to use other illegal drugs, the use produced intellectual impairment, that use doubled the risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia, and increased the risk of heart attacks in middle-aged adults.

Add to that the recent study where 9.7 percent of respondents reported that they had smoked marijuana before coming to work, and you can see why responsible citizens, including employers and parents, are starting to question the pro-pot canard that smoking marijuana is no big deal and actually good for you.

Originally published at CNSNews.com and DailySignal.com.

Reposted by Reagangirl.com  12/1/14

November
29
2014

Hagel: Scapegoat for Obama’s Shoddy Foreign Policy

As originally posted on Boston Herald

BostonHerald.com

Hagel’s exit won’t save O’s weak foreign policy

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

By Peter Brookes

OK, so maybe at least one head had to roll — in this case that of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — after the murderous mid-term elections which partly reflected Team Obama’s sloppy steering of the ship of state in international waters.hagel

But the inconvenient truth about all of this delicious D.C. drama is that swapping out one Pentagon pasha for another won’t fix President Obama’s floundering foreign and national security program. It’s not so much the people that are the drawback; it’s the policies. Simply said: We’ve been plowing into the plethora of international problems imprecisely.

The responsibility for guiding American foreign and national security policy writ large, especially on the hot issues, rests with the president.

The Pentagon, the State Department and others, while advisers, are in the role of implementing that policy set forth by the White House’s political potentates.

That’s how our system “works,” especially for this crew, which is infamous for its micromanagement.

Unfortunately, that foreign and defense policy vessel has taken on plenty of water in the face of some very stormy seas. Here’s some of where our ship of state has foundered on the shoals — or even been dashed on the rocks:

• Islamic State/Syria/Iraq: The U.S. was caught flat-footed by this “junior varsity” terrorist group. The Islamic State has taken a swath of territory in a blitz across Syria and Iraq. It has also brutally beheaded Americans.

While we supposedly left Iraq “stable and self-reliant,” the three-plus-year Syria civil war has taken some 200,000 lives. The Bashar Assad regime is still in power — though its days were said to be “numbered” — and al Qaeda’s Khorasan Group has moved in.

•      Russia/Ukraine: The Kremlin took Crimea with little fuss, probably provided the missile system that was used to shoot down a Malaysian passenger airliner, and is now spearheading instability in Eastern Ukraine, moving aggressively against a sovereign state in violation of international law.

• Iran: On Team Obama’s watch, we’ve seen Iran move forward with its nuclear (weapons) program and develop its space and ballistic missile systems — both precursors to an intercontinental ballistic missile capability that is expected next year.

Worse, the prez pitched over the side the Bush-era missile defense system in Europe that would have been operational by now for a system that will lag Iran’s ICBM by three to five years.

• China: The “pivot” to the Pacific looks more like a pirouette — and Beijing couldn’t be more pleased. China is now building islands in the South China Sea to claim ownership over 1 million square miles of ocean.

You might add: the failed Middle East peace mediation, terrible Israel ties, Eastern Europe’s jangled nerves, the Benghazi tragedy, two North Korean nuke tests, the “Islamist Spring,” al Qaeda in Africa (Boko Haram, al Shabab, etc.) and so on.

You get the picture.

Contrary to Team Obama’s assertions, we’re not safer now than we were six years ago — and the reason is our foreign and national security policies.

Unfortunately, moving the crew in the steamer chairs around the deck of the S.S. Obama won’t change the calamitous course this ship of state is on.

Dr. Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense. Follow him on Twitter @Brookes_Peter

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Reposted by Reagangirl.com   11/28/2014
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November
27
2014

George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; 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 and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish 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, that is, or that 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 their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may 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 trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Geo. Washington

Posted by Reagangirl.com  11/27/2014

November
26
2014

Old Sarge’s List of Thankful Things

November 26, 2014

From Vietnam veteran, author, and friend, Forrest L. Gomez, affectionately known as Old Sarge

MY THANKSGIVING MESSAGE:

In spite of our outlaw president and the efforts of some to turn part of Missouri into a game preserve for coyotes, I believe there is much to be thankful for. The following are some blessings in our lives, and I hope all who read this can add more.

The success of Republicans in the mid terms can be seen as nothing less than miraculous and historic. In 2010, Republicans won over 770 seats in government nationwide, still hold on to most of them, and have added more since then. On 4 November 2014, Republicans added over 700 more, including control of the Senate. Most of us feel that people like Joni and Mia will make a difference.

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It is an assured blessing that we got through November 22nd, the anniversary of the assassination of JFK, without any conspiracy buffs going catatonic on us and dying.

  • Marion Barry is dead and Allen West is alive.
  • The lesbian Houston mayor is in full retreat from the Christian community, no longer determined to subpoena sermons from pastors who don’t share her view of life.
  • Global warming fanatics are buying space heaters and woolen underwear, as they watch icebergs form on Lake Michigan.
  • Chick Fil’a and Hobby Lobby are prospering, and the guy who owns Starbucks has written a book explaining how veterans are good hires.
  • Every openly pro-life candidate in the last election won.
  • Michelle Obama’s school lunches are being rejected by crows and seagulls.
  • Barney Frank traveled to and left Ireland, and no leprechauns were molested.
  • Harry Reid has stood in the bread line and asked for toast. He painted several signs that say, “Will Obstruct for food.”
  • The guy who stole my identity, then tried to sue me for defamation of character, has dropped the charges.
  • Thanks to Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry, Botox stocks are high.
  • Obama’s favorability index is lower than Dubya’s was at his worst, and Obama earned it all on his own. The media hounded Bush for six years to destroy him with the public.
  • Bill Clinton being chosen as spokesman for the Democrats in their allegations of a GOP war on women did not affect the elections.
  • Our Marine sergeant, Andrew Tahmooressi, came home from a Mexican jail.
  • Chuck Hagel now gets to go make his announcements in the bus depot.
  • 76% of Americans say they want God back in public life.
  • Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas are more popular than ever.
  • Have a great Thanksgiving, brothers and sisters.

Remember that God is the greatest physician, and still makes house calls.

- The Sarge

Reposted with permission of the author by Reagangirl.com  11/26/14

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