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Tall in the Saddle

The last of the great cowboys. Also: Carbon copy. Hooked on gasoline. Libertarian star warriors. Plus much more.

6.4.07

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COWGIRLS
Re: Larry Thornberry's The Cowboy Way:

Well, now I don't know if Mr. Thornberry is a cowboy or just knows enough to write a great piece about them. Coming from a long line of cowboy cattle ranchers I can attest to his accuracy. I call my father, David Foster, the last of the great cowboys. He will turn 88 this August. Just a few weeks ago we worked cattle and he was still able to get into the chute to castrate the little bulls. At 85 he broke a hip working the cattle, so we just allow him this one activity, and the right to boss the rest of us around.

The spartan life of the cowboy was certainly his. At age nine he and his older sister (who worked her last cattle roundup at 85) were placed out on a homestead in South Texas. Their father had several ranches and it took all seven children to work his land and leased land. My Dad remembers being left with his 12 year old sister and a small amount of grub. They had to use it sparingly because it would be three weeks or more before their father returned. He said that most times they ran out then shot anything that moved in order to eat. He could speak to the taste of rattlesnake well. He didn't like it.

The lives we live now are far removed from those days of hardship. And, I believe, that is most of our problem in this country. When you can hold convenience in your hands, seldom do you understand the clear thinking that comes with hard work, the necessity of being inventive, and what doing without really means. Today, folks define inconvenience as missing their latte.

I believe our President needs a break back at his ranch. He needs to grub brush, work cattle, build a fence, and just do some plain hard labor. He did a lot of that his first years in office. I believe those trips kept him able to make clearer decisions. I also believe that if this fine man took a trip to Crawford and did some cowboy work we wouldn't be talking about stupid amnesty legislation because he could clear his heart and mind. Ranching does that for you.

Cowboys, the last great legacy of the American West. Couldn't be a great compliment given a man, to this rancher's mind. Give me a cowboy any day over a Washington politician. You can count on one of them to do the right thing at all times.
-- Bev Gunn
East Texas Rancher Proud mother of serving Pilot

Many of my "personal" heroes were "cowboys" and "mavericks" and the boots they wore weren't some gazillion dollar fake copy of real boots that got real "dirt" and other stuff on them. They were not pretenders and Hollywood actors. They had hands of leather that could rope and tie, and also hold and hug.

My heroes didn't always ride ponies and horses, but they relied first on themselves and family, and then on neighbors and friends. Distrusted strangers till they had proven themselves to be friends and taught that the sweat of your brow and the strength of your back were more important most times than what was inside the "mush for brains." Personal honor is important, your word is bond, and you know that the word "integrity" means that you "hold true to your word," even when it is like being on the "gritty" side of the millstones.

Life is not simple, and many a Hollywood version of the truth is too clean and simple. Life is not like that. Maybe the insult intended is to call someone a "Hollywood Cowboy" but many of them once were "real" once.

Nope, the "cowboys" I knew were men, and a few women, that were neither uneducated nor unlettered. That knew work was hard, and you had to keep after it. The way was long, but you kept on the trail. There were shortcuts, you could risk, but you risked all for a few moments. That the "pay-off" was never as good as promised. You celebrated with your friends, pooled your resources and started up all over again the next day from scratch.

At times, "people" and cattle are a lot alike -- sometimes. Other times, the cow is smarter. Hazards abound and you have to be sharp to see them, before they get you. You take care of the tools of your livelihood as if your life depended upon them, it does. And you take care of each other as if you life depended upon them -- it does. "A light in the window" is an invite to a stranger. And it is not an insult to be asked "What you up to?"

There are worse ways of life. And many an over educated fool "feels" not only is their life in an Ivory Tower, far away from the "grit" of daily labor, the best, but it is also "the only way." So tell me, how do books grow vegetables and writings put a roof over your head? How can one of these "elitists" expect to "take care of others" when they are naught but helpless and dependent upon the work, labor and efforts of "others"?

Lead? They can't find their way out of the parking lot to the road out of the city to where they can meet "real people" without some imported gizmo to tell them "where to go."
-- Sandra Dent

YeeeeeeHaaaaaw and Amen to Mr. Thornberry's column. My Great Grandfather and Grandmother were some of the first "white people" in the Colorado Territory. What tales have been handed down in our family about the Cowboy Way. I was privileged to hear them from actual participants in this part of American History at a young age. Those who sit in Starbucks opining about life, politics and their own navels will never understand the code of the West. There are still enough descendants of these pioneers and cowboys who know from whence they came. There is still something magical about the wide-open spaces, which also reinforces the "all things are possible" can-do spirit that is alive and well out here. Too many closed minds sit in the swamp of D.C., as well as the Starbucks perched around each and every college and university. I recommend they go West young men and women to observe the openness of the West. Thanks for the wonderful column.
-- Edda Gahm
Diamond Bar, California

Larry Thornberry's defense of cowboys and explanation of Bush detractors thinking this is a derogatory term was interesting and a point well made. I trust punching "doggies" was a mere slip of the keyboard. A doggie is your canine pal. A stray calf is a dogie (one "g" and long "o") -- "Git along, little dogies, git along, git along ...we're headin' for the la-ast round-up." went the cowboy's lament.

The cowboy was steadfast, dedicated to a purpose, focused on the job and capable of enduring hardship to get it done. I believed they called it grit. Sounds like Bush to me.

Without that rare breed of man, the cowboy, this country would not have settled, prospered or expanded its borders from the small settlements in the east.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

Larry Thornberry replies:
Good point. Spelling in English is not for the faint (feint?) of heart. No excuse for the E-3, but trying to spell in English is a little like trying to play poker with 15 wild cards. It's an orthographic teenager's bedroom.

CARBON COPY
Re: Iain Murray's Paying for Carbon:

Iain Murray's article on carbon taxes ducks out of all the actual substantial work in figuring out the economic impact of a carbon tax. We don't need a fewer hundred words to tell us that a low tax will not change behavior, and a high tax will need to be compensated by reducing other taxes. No one is going to impose an $85/ton C tax without offsetting reductions in other taxes (or increases in the Earned Income Tax Credit). The question of interest is, what is the economic impact of a revenue-neutral carbon tax. There's been a lot of work on this question, and as I imagine Mr. Murray knows, the impact on the economic growth is generally predicted to be slight.

So, the real question is, is it worth a trivial reduction in the rate of growth of wealth of already rich nations to avoid the non-negligible chance of losing the winter season, and a big chunk of our coastlines by the end of the century?
-- Dan Kirk-Davidoff

I was in Whole Foods today (for their somewhat pricy but rather tasty bread -- I don't buy into the entire Whole Foods schtick) and I saw that you could buy "Wind Power Cards" -- purchasing and "activating" one of these cards pays a subsidy to connect a certain amount of non-carbon wind power to the electric grid.

The price of the cards works out to a 2 cent per kwHr premium on electricity or about $60/ton of carbon offset. I suggested to my wife of getting these as Christmas presents for the relatives (I was talking about those on my side of the family) in place of the VISA gift cards I gave last year -- my wife suggested, "yeah, those wind-power cards will go over big."

My pitch is this. How about offering such carbon-offset wind-power gift cards on The American Spectator website? Think about it. They can be for-real wind power cards like they have at Whole Foods, but they could be endorsed by "Big Al." We get to take Al Gore's name in vain because he is a political figure and this is First Amendment protected speech under the safe harbor of satire. When recipients of the gift card log on to the Web site to activate, there can be clever Flash animations playing off wealthy people with political ambitions using these carbon offsets and now the same thing is available to the common man. That the carbon offsets are derived from wind power gives further material for the satire.

They would make perfect purchases for persons of a conservative persuasion to give to their liberal friends and relatives to poke good-natured fun at piety and earnestness about the environment while actually going towards wind power. There could be a matrix of different political cards for conservatives or liberals giving to someone of the liberal or conservative persuasion who needs to learn some Inconvenient Truths.
-- Paul Milenkovic
Madison, Wisconsin

Mr. Murray posits that "existing carbon trading schemes are vastly inefficient, open to fraud or both" He also holds that "attempting to modify behavior through carbon pricing will fail or impose significant social costs of its own."

Duhhhhhhhh! Al Gore owns a carbon trading company. Knowing this, why would one expect anything other than fraud, inefficiency and a huge social cost -- all wrapped in failure? Those are the principles that govern the radical liberal's life.
-- Jay Molyneaux
Denver, North Carolina

GREASE MERCHANTS
Re: Ben Stein's Stupak's Stupidity:

I usually agree with Mr. Stein's point of view but his Stupak column misses a lot of points.

1. Gas is a necessity.

I tried to visualize living without the internal combustion engine and although I could go and ride a bike or horse, it is just a reasonable solution

2. Gas prices do not follow free markets

As proven by Mr. Stein's greedy oil brokers friends in New York and Exxon bottom line, there is something amiss in this gas pricing.

Gas goes up because of some weather disturbance in West Africa...Really? Come on. Consumers are a captive group of the greedy oil merchants.

I for one subscribe to the idea of gas price regulation. I don't mind the capitalist system. I like it very much. But I also know that today, greed has no bounds. If the greedy greasy business will not constrain his love of money at any costs and regardless of conditions, then government must step in.

And like Exxon well put it yesterday, big oil is not interested in any type of fuel other than fossil. Government should put a constraint in these folks and prohibit them from entering the alternate fuels market. Let them live and die by the fossil fuel demand and quit the charade.

Sorry, Ben, you're seriously mistaken. My need for gas is not the same as my need for an attorney. I can live without an attorney but I can't say the same for living without gas.
-- Dario Giraldo
Houston, Texas

Er, think Ben meant HUGO Chavez, a.k.a. Mini-Jefe, and not CESAR Chavez, who only could have strangled the grape crops in California while he was alive.
-- Cookie Sewell
Democratic Peoples Republic of Maryland

GAITKEEPERS
Re: Christopher Orlet's They Like to Watch:

Christopher Orlet might have lifted the curtain higher on the nanny state's voyeuristic obsession.

Communitarian computers in Cool Britain have not only been programmed to recognize license plates and faces, but equipped with "suspicious behavior " algorithms to alert the social workforce as to whom next to scold. Ever alert to new technology, Big Brother's brave little New Labour helpers have just invested a megabuck in developing "gait recognition cameras." You can see how Tony Blair's posthumous introduction of George Orwell to Monty Python is proceeding in this blog article.
-- Russell Seitz
Mustique, West Indies

BOOM DEPENDENT
Re: Lawrence Henry's Envy:

Mr. Henry's best hope lies in the accelerating development of biotechnological and nanotechnological products being developed -- irony indeed -- by America's most selfish generation, the Baby Boomers, among others.
-- David Govett
President, Bionanome
Davis, California

BODY SNATCHERS
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Additions to the Lincoln Library:

Mr. Tyrrell may be amused to learn that the kidnapping of Lincoln's body in fact occasioned a movie about the incident in 1957, starring Victor McLaglen and directed by his son Andrew, titled The Abductors.

And whatever the reality behind the historical incident, the movie (understandably, I suppose, in those days when films on the bottom half of a double feature had to try harder) treated it as a dire threat to the Republic indeed, something that slashed at the very throat of our democratic principles. There is even an actor named "Pat Lawless" in the cast, according to the IMDB.
-- Richard Szathmary
Clifton, New Jersey

MANNER HOUSE
Re: Mike Roush's letter (under "Right From the Beginning") in Reader Mail's Border Showdown:

Mr. Roush: Conservatives value treating others (especially those who exhibit behaviors one disapproves) with generosity and respect. These are called manners. Manners are rather concrete while expressions such as "tolerance" tend to be abstract. "Tolerance" is a slippery word that can have an honorable definition. On the other hand, "tolerance" often means refraining from differentiating behaviors in terms of their moral essence. (Failing to make such discriminations is a moral failure.)

In my personal experience, those who demand more "tolerance" aren't really calling for an expanded broadmindedness. They just want to change the boundaries
-- Michael Wm. Dooley

READ IT AND WEEP
Re: Jay D. Homnick's Melting Pot of Gold and W. James Antle III's Comprehensive Crack-Up?:

Jay Homnick asks the questions "Has President Bush himself read the immigration bill he claims his critics haven't? Has anyone?"

To which I say "Yes." Writing in the Heritage Foundation's "Web Memo" number 1468 of May 23, 2007, Kris W. Kobach, D.Phil., J.D. and Matthew Spalding, Ph.D., take this miserable excuse of a bill to task, particularly the section Title VI. Kobach, professor of law at U. of Missouri-Kansas City and a former counsel to the U.S. Attorney General from 2001-2003 acting as his chief adviser on immigration law, and Spalding, director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies at Heritage, point out 10 very serious flaws in this bill:

1) A massive amnesty
2) A permanent "temporary" visa
3) Hobbled background checks on immigrants
4) Amnesty for "absconders" who have ignored deportation
5) "Reverse justice" that effectively closes immigration courts
6) Enforcement of amnesty, not laws
7) Amnesty for gang members
8) Tuition subsidies for illegal aliens
9) Taxpayer-funded lawyers for illegals
10) Amnesty before enforcement triggers

This is insanity! And what makes it even worse is that purported "conservatives" like John McCain and Jon Kyl are among the authors of this mess, and others like Trent Lott and "W" himself have attacked those who are critical of this bill. Even conservative talk show host Michael Medved has spoken in favor of it (and I've heard it with my own ears on his daily radio program). I've e-mailed my local congressmen with my opposition to this bill and only received one response, a dollop of bland pablum spiced up with an attack on NAFTA, CAFTA and the free market from local socialist nitwit Sherrod Brown. RINO Senator George Voinovich and my House reps have not bothered to even respond.

If this disgraceful legislation goes thru, the cost, monetarily and otherwise, will be monumental. This is a major catastrophe.

God help us all.
-- Jim Bjaloncik
Stow, Ohio

It seems to me that the problem is that the political elite from both sides of the aisle want this painted up pig. The only people that don't want a "comprehensive" immigration bill are the common, everyday folks that work hard, pay their taxes, and try to play by the rules. Of course these folks mostly don't have maids and nannies, and gardeners, and other sundry workers that they wish to pay below scale and off the books. I still want to know how many illegal aliens are now or have been employed by the various members of the Bush clan. And while we are at it, how many work on the various Kennedy, or Kerry, or Gore properties. It really is too bad that Sen. Jon Kyl sold his soul to the devil. I hope that he has enjoyed his tenure in the Senate, because he will probably be replaced next time that he has to run. I know that I will be working to replace one of my New Hampshire Senators that has voted with George Bush on this concept for two years running now. His office has been swamped with calls from New Hampshire voters against this bill, but he prefers to kiss Bush's fanny.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

On a hiatus induced by ill health, but I still have voice to launch another salvo in the debate over my least favorite and most irritating public policy issue.

Enjoyed reading your piece, Mr. Antle, but once again we must endure the excruciating, mind-bending pain one derives from the debate on U.S. immigration policy, the unwelcome gift that just keeps on giving. What is a good conservative to believe?

On one side, we have freelance political adviser, Dick Morris, and Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard, both supporting the latest Senate immigration bill epic, Dick for political reasons, and Fred on the merits. Meanwhile, the whole editorial board of the National Review, with pitchforks in hand, are leading our fellow Neanderthals in a charge on the breastworks of the Wall Street Journal's gentrified editorial board. Laura Ingraham and Linda Chavez chose pistols at dawn, and Linda left the field with a lesson on why you shouldn't take potshots at your friends just because you have a license to carry. Of course, John McCain has been his usual charming self, but the Prez, OOPS, having a bad day?, decides to draw upon some of the vocabulary he must have learned at Yale during one of his youthful DUI joy rides, and direct it at the poor police officer who's just doing his job. What the %$@# is going on here?

I'm so disgusted by this whole business of letting the steers in the back door to run amok through the ranch house, while the cowboys are all in the front yard fighting off the Indians and rustlers, I'm about ready to go work on a different ranch. But, the pay's good, so I guess I'll wait out the results a little longer. It's a damn good ranch house, and as long as I can still have my Margaritas and guacamole, I'm good for another week or so. God help me when the Tequila's gone.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

LIBERTARIAN WARS
Re: John Tabin's Star Wars Libertarian Mission:

John Tabin is correct about Star Wars being libertarian. For more on this see the links in the link below:
-- Mark Thornton

One could argue the libertarian character of the Alliance if it wasn't for the stuff about the Force and the other five movies where the Alliance is hardly libertarian at all.

Indeed, a study of Yoda or the other Jedi leaders would show something more along the lines of a church organization instead of some anarcho-capitalist or other libertarian arrangement.

But Lucas made a space-Western, not a libertarian film like say, The Fountainhead. Lucas was a moviemaker, Ayn Rand was off the wall. The first one made something that the public liked, the second? She screwed up her own vision.

But one can always play games about what is or is not libertarian. It is a game that anyone can play and win, but it is a waste of time, as it signifies or proves nothing.
-- Richard Burnett

HE'S ALL WET
Re: Gustavo Coronel's A Letter to Danny Glover:

Danny Glover is the guy who pitched a fit and cried racism because he couldn't get a cab in NYC in the rain. Nobody can get a cab in NYC when it's raining. Crybaby.
-- L. Stoller
Maryland

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