Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Meaning of Easter Sunday

So what is the true meaning of Easter?

The Easter which we observe today is a curious celebration of Christianity and new life.

The Bible makes no mention of a long-eared, short-tailed creature who delivers decorated eggs to well-behaved children on Easter Sunday, but the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of Christianity's most important holiday.

The exact origins of this mythical rabbit are unclear, but rabbits are known to be prolific procreators and have been an ancient symbol of fertility and new life.

According to some, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called "Osterhase" or "Oschter Haws." Yes, they thought rabbits laid eggs.

Their children made nests in which the egg-laying hare keep its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit's Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests.
Easter is a Christian holiday, but some of its customs, such as Easter eggs, are likely linked to other more pagan traditions. The egg, an ancient symbol of new life to anyone not a liberal, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring.

From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus' emergence from the tomb and resurrection. Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century, according to some sources.

One explanation for this custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, then eat them on Easter as a celebration.

Easter egg hunts and egg rolling are two popular egg-related traditions.

In the U.S., the White House Easter Egg Roll, a race in which children push decorated, hard-boiled eggs across the White House lawn, is an annual event held the Monday after Easter.

The first official White House egg roll occurred in 1878, when Rutherford B. Hayes was president. The event has no religious significance, although some people have considered egg rolling symbolic of the stone blocking Jesus' tomb being rolled away, leading to his resurrection.

Trust me when I say, if that is true, we can only hope that liberals never hear about it because they will certainly want to end the tradition. I'm actually surprised that Planned Parenthood hasn't tried to destroy Easter Eggs just for what they symbolize.

As for Easter Candy? Easter is the second best-selling candy holiday in America, after Halloween.

Among the most popular sweet treats associated with this day are chocolate eggs, which date back to early 19th century Europe because eggs have long been associated with Easter as a symbol of new life and Jesus' resurrection.

Another egg-shaped candy, the jelly bean, became associated with Easter in the 1930s. And yes, according to the National Confectioners Association, over 16 billion jelly beans are made in the U.S. each year just for Easter.

That folks is enough jelly beans to fill a giant egg measuring 89 feet high and 60 feet wide.

My father-in-law will be glad to hear that for the past few decades, the top-selling non-chocolate Easter candy has been the marshmallow Peep - a sugary, pastel-colored confection.

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based candy manufacturer Just Born, which founded by Russian immigrant Sam Born back in 1923, began selling Peeps in the 1950s. The original Peeps were handmade, marshmallow-flavored yellow chicks, but other shapes and flavors were later introduced, including chocolate mousse bunnies. My father-in-law lives for the yellow ones!

In New York City, the annual Easter Parade is a tradition that dates back to the mid-1800s when the upper crust of New York society would attend Easter services at various Fifth Avenue churches then stroll outside afterward to show off their new spring outfits and hats.

Average citizens started showing up along Fifth Avenue to check out the action. The tradition reached its peak by the mid-20th century, and in 1948, the popular film Easter Parade was released, starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland and featuring the music of Irving Berlin.

The title song includes the lyrics: "In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it -You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade."

Today, the Easter Parade tradition lives on in Manhattan, with Fifth Avenue from 49th Street to 57th Street being shut down during the day to traffic.

Participants often sport elaborately decorated bonnets and hats. The event has no religious significance, but sources note that Easter processions have been a part of Christianity since its earliest days. It's nice to note that even though public schools are banning the word "Easter" from being used by children, that there are cities across America who are also holding their own Easter Parades.

In public schools today, while it is OK to live out Muslim holidays in dress and language, Christians symbolism is of any sort is being treated as bad as the Black Plague.

Take for example, Heritage Elementary School in Madison, Alabama, which has banned the word the "E" word, "Easter."

The kids there are absolutely forbidden from says the words "Easter Bunny" or even "Easter Eggs."

Why? Well, according to Lydia Davenport, the principal at the school says, it is because “people relate the Easter Bunny to religion”. 

Imagine this from a supposedly educated person, “people relate the Easter Bunny to religion”.

As I said earlier, there is no mention of an Easter Rabbit, Hare, or Bunny of any sort in the Holy Bible. And though I'm almost positive that there is no mention of an Easter Bunny or similar critter in the Koran, I'm sure if there was that Islam would killed the critter for some reason or another.

No, there was no Easter Bunny who healed the sick, no Easter Bunny walked on water, no Easter Bunny turning water into wine, no Easter Bunny was crucified on a cross for preaching peace.

Since kids cannot say the word "Easter", I assume that teachers and political correctness has gotten hold of almost every aspect of American life. And yes, as another writer asked, "what will students call Easter Island now? Will teachers take it upon themselves to rename Easter Island to Spring Island?

No, but it just show the stupidity of such things.

This is a copy of a letter sent out to parents regarding the use of the word "Easter" at Heritage Elementary School in Madison, Alabama. After getting pressure observe American traditions and heritage, you will notice that this school official gets the point. It's just a shame that it has to become an issue.

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope you are all enjoying spring break. Please allow me to infringe on your break for a moment to bring you up to speed on a topic that has garnered national attention.

The controversy centers around an Easter egg hunt for the second grade and kindergarten classes at Heritage Elementary School. The activity was planned but the principal stepped in and asked that the activity not occur because the activity carried the title Easter. As you know, we walk a fine line in public education working to stay within the guidelines of recent court decisions. After conversation, it was decided that the hunt was not in violation of any policies or procedures, and that it could proceed as planned. I am pleased to inform you that it took place last week before we dismissed for spring break.

At a previously planned elementary principals’ meeting last week, I informed the principals that in Madison City we would continue to have seasonal celebrations and activities such as Christmas gifts and Easter egg hunts. These traditions are a part of our rich heritage and I do not see them as infringing on ones’ religious rights. Additionally words such as Christmas and Easter are not banned at our schools.

In all the national media reports they fail to mention that the Easter egg hunt occurred last week and that all our elementary principals have been advised that seasonal activities are acceptable. Sorry to disturb your break but I wanted you to be informed.

Dee O. Fowler
Superintendent of Education
Madison City Schools

Now, as for Lydia Davenport, the principal of Heritage Elementary School, who said “people relate the Easter Bunny to religion” - allow me to inform you of a few things.

Nowhere is there any mention of the Easter Bunny in the Bible.

Easter is a Christian festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary as described in the New Testament. Easter is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.

The last week of Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Holy Thursday, commemorating the Last Supper and its preceding foot washing, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

Easter in the Bible is mentioned in the biblical account of Jesus' death on the cross, or crucifixion, his burial and his resurrection, and his raising from the dead, can be found in the following passages of Scripture: Matthew 27:27-28:8; Mark 15:16-16:19; Luke 23:26-24:35; and John 19:16-20:30.

On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ. It is typically the most well-attended Sunday service of the year for Christian churches.

We Christians believe, according to Scripture, that Jesus came back to life, or was raised from the dead, three days after his death on the cross.

As part of the Easter, the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, always the Friday just before Easter.

Easter is derived from the Hebrew word pesach for 'he passed over', so in Spanish and Italian Easter is Pascua, in French it is Paques, in Portugese it is Pascoa, and so on.

Since church proclamation in 325AD, Easter has been celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Vernal Equinox. This date was determined by noting that the Last Supper, as Christians came to know it, was actually a Passover seder, and Jesus's resurrection occurred on that Sunday.

Passover occurs on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan on the first full moon on or after the Equinox.

A further connection to Passover, is the fact that it celebrates the angel of death passing over the houses where the doors were marked with the blood of a sacrificial lamb.

Jesus is seen by Christians as the sacrificial lamb whose blood was shed so that they would have everlasting life.

God has given Christians "a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead".

The true meaning of Easter? It is a day when Christians celebrate the miracle of God who "so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

The resurrection established Jesus as the powerful Son of God and is proof that God will judge the world in righteousness.

The New Testament teaches that the resurrection of Jesus, which Easter celebrates, is a foundation of the Christian faith.  Christians, through faith in the working of God are spiritually resurrected with Jesus so that they may walk in a new way of life.

Through his death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus paid the penalty for sin, thus purchasing for all who believe in him, eternal life in Christ Jesus.

But no, the Easter Bunny is never mentioned!

Story by Tom Correa

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Preppers - Fallout Shelters - Part One

I remember being in St Patrick's School in Kaimuki, Hawaii, and going through the air raid warning drills back then.

The teacher would have us climb under our desks as she closed the long heavy classroom window curtains - supposedly to stop the glass from exploding all over the room during an explosion.

All of us would keep our heads down until the "all clear" siren sounded and we could come out from under our desks. On the first Monday of every month, that was our regular routine.

From right after the end of World War II and into the mid-1960s, it was fairly routine for us to go through the "duck and cover" drills. Back then the threat of Nuclear War with Russia, then called the Soviet Union, was very real.

In fact it was so real, that in 1961, President John F. Kennedy made it an administration priority to build public fallout shelters around the country.

And yes, his administration actually encouraged every U.S. citizen to have a fallout shelter of their own. A place to survive the inevitable blast and the radioactive fallout that would result.

Yes, some can laugh at those who are today called "Doomsday Preppers" - but it wasn't a joke back then. Besides, think about it, would anyone laugh at President John F Kennedy for encouraging Americans to do exactly that - prepare for doomsday.

When Civil Defense was a real concern of the Federal government President Kennedy appointed Steuart Pittman, the assistant secretary of Civil Defense, to implement his administration's program.

Mr. Pittman took his position very seriously. But since it would cost Six Billion Dollars to fully implement the fallout shelter program, both Congress and local governments, who would share the costs, balked at the price tag.

While there are estimates that families built approximately 200,000 shelters in just 2 year, and thousands of schools, hospitals, and other large buildings were designated as shelters for public use, some say that many Americans were so depressed by the idea of living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland that they would rather die in the nuclear blast that they did not.

Steuart Pittman worked in that position for 3 year. He died on February 10, 2013 at the age of 93.

Some say millions of Fallout Shelters were actually constructed privately across the nation. Many are still in existence today.

With the Federal Government not doing anything these days in the way of Civil Defense, mostly because they find it wiser to spend critical taxpayer dollars on senseless things like a menu for a Mars Mission or giving it away by the Millions to Dictators who hate us in the Middle-East, today it's more of an every American for themselves situation. 

First, we must understand that whether they are called bomb shelters or fallout shelters - they have been around a long time.

A fallout shelter is an enclosed space specially designed to protect occupants from radioactive debris or fallout resulting from a nuclear explosion. Many such shelters were constructed as civil defense measures during the Cold War.

When a nuclear bomb hits the ground, a crater is formed, and the earth that used to be there gets pounded into trillions of particles. These particles receive the radiation from the explosion and carry it up into the sky in a huge mushroom cloud.

The cloud doesn't stay there or come back down to the ground -- wind pushes it along like any other cloud, and the particles drift down along the way.

The dangerous material is actually visible, looking like sand or flakes, and coming into contact with large doses of it is life-threatening.

When this material condenses in the rain, it forms dust and light sandy materials that resembles ground pumice. The fallout emits alpha and beta particles, as well as gamma rays.

Much of this highly radioactive material then falls to earth, subjecting anything within the line of sight to radiation, a significant hazard.

Remember, when nuclear fission or fusion occurs, many types of radiation are created, including alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays and neutrons.

Alpha and beta particles would mostly be harmless. Although they're fast-moving particles, they're too big to pass through much matter -- alpha particles (helium atoms) can be stopped by a few inches of air or a piece of paper, and beta particles (electrons) can be stopped by plastic or light metal.

Alpha and beta particles only pose a serious danger when they're inhaled or fall onto the food we eat.

Gamma rays and neutrons are much more dangerous following a nuclear explosion. Neutrons are heavier than electrons, and when they break off of atoms from nuclear fuel, such as uranium or plutonium, act like extremely small "missiles" and can easily penetrate matter.

Gamma rays are photons very much like light, except that they have more energy and can easily pass through several inches of a heavy element like lead.
A fallout shelter is designed to allow its occupants to minimize exposure to harmful fallout until radioactivity has decayed to a safer level.

Although many shelters still exist, some even being used as museums, virtually all public fallout shelters have been decommissioned since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The purpose of a fallout shelter is, of course, to shield the people inside from the harmful effects of radiation.

Just as there's a special number on bottles of sunscreen that describe how much protection the substance provides from the sun's rays -- SPF, or Sun Protection Factor -- fallout shelters have their own number. It's simply called a Protection Factor (PF).

An SPF number refers to how much time you can spend out in the sun before getting burned.

The PF number for a fallout shelter, though, represents the relationship between the amount of radiation an unprotected person would experience compared to the amount one would receive in a shelter.

For example, a shelter with a PF of 5 would expose occupants to about 20 percent of the amount of radiation they'd receive if they were outdoors -- not a very safe number.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) pamphlet Are You Ready -Standards for Fallout Shelters, a fallout shelter is "any room, structure or space designated as such and providing its occupants with protection at a minimum protection factor (PF) of 40 from fallout radiation resulting from a nuclear explosion".

This means that the people inside would receive one-fortieth (or 2.5%) the amount of radiation they'd receive if they were outside after a nuclear explosion, which is much safer than a PF of 5.

The lingering danger of a nuclear explosion, however, is the effect of nuclear radiation. This is something people outside of the immediate blast area would have to worry about -- radiation sickness can kill as many or more people than a blast would, but it would happen over a much longer period of time.

Using fallout shelters is the best way to protect people from falling radiation.

While there are different types of shelters such as, for example, hurricane, tornado, and multi-purpose shelters, there are also two types of radiation fallout shelters.

The first is a private fallout shelter, one built or bought by a person or a family. These types may be converted basements under a person's house, underground shelters built within a yard or shelters built away from a person's home.

The second kind is a public fallout shelter, described by FEMA as any place "intended for use by or is accessible to the general public. Fallout shelters which are a part of a private residence and are intended for private use are not included".

A public shelter can be any kind of public building, including hospitals, schools and police stations. All public fallout shelters are marked with the universal sign for fallout shelters, which is a circle with three upside-down triangles inside.

Public shelters usually have enough room to carry at least 50 people, but they can be big enough to provide protection for hundreds. A minimum of 10 square feet per occupant is required by FEMA, along with a minimum of 6.5 feet of head room.

Most government manuals recommend staying inside a fallout shelter for about two weeks. Although the amount of time it takes for radiation to disappear varies, from a few days to two weeks, most people take the "better safe than sorry" stance on this issue.

Most are equipped with radiation detection devices and battery-powered radios to stay informed.

It is hard to find good fallout shelter plans. There are links to sites that discuss fallout shelter plans, but one should understand that the basic difference between a tornado shelter and a fallout shelter is the 30 inches of dirt over a fallout shelter - and the U shaped air inlet and outlet that makes the air go up before it enters the shelter.

Most fallout is heavy dust that will not go up the curved 6 inch air intake pipe, especially if it has a dust filter on it.

Only a structure built to withstand about 50 pounds per square inch (psi) could survive close to ground zero, and the majority of it would most likely be underground. The material of such a shelter would have to very heavy and dense, like lead or concrete.

So how are fallout shelters built, what do people need in a fallout shelter, and what will living in a fallout shelter will be like, will be covered in the next parts of this series. 

Just as a hint to what will be covered. Let's first understand that although we're used to eating food on a regular basis, humans can survive for two weeks without much food. But on the other hand, it's water that's important if people are going to stay alive for long periods of time.

FEMA suggests a minimum of 3.5 gallons of drinking water per person to last the two weeks. We will discuss storing lots of food and water in a fallout shelter along with other essentials.

Story by Tom Correa

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Fear Of Public Schools

Sure there are things going on these days which we probably wouldn't know about if there weren't so many News sources.

And sure, it does seem at times as though things in America are just going to hell in a hand basket every time we turn around.

But really, I just hope that folks don't give up and surrender. We can't lose hope!

I've received a lot of e-mail asking me what to do with everything looking so bad these days? My answer is that though it might look bad, we still can't give up and let it happen.

I have a nephew whose wife is expecting. He said he doesn't want his child to go to public schools but he can't afford private schools, so he is at a loss as to what to do.

When I asked why not send him to public school? He said schools are not places to learn how to be an American, or any positive aspects of our history or of our nation in general.

Besides, he says, schools today are "extremely anti-Christian." And also, he doesn't want to send his son to a school that will persecute his son for his Christian beliefs.

And really, how can I argue with him there because he's right.

And no, it doesn't stop at grade schools demeaning Christian students, it's even taking place at supposedly higher levels of education. Example of this is what is going on at Florida Atlantic University.

Professor Deandre Poole gave his class a horrible anti-Christian assignment, many call shameful and insensitive. Poole ordered his students to write "Jesus" on a piece of paper, then put it on the floor and stomp on it.

Imagine if students were asked to write "Mohammad" on a piece of paper and stomp on it? Or how about write "Obama" on a piece of paper and stomp on it?

It would never be tolerated! Never! Neither would be condoned, yet anti-Christians like this jackass Poole are protected and encouraged by their schools.

A woman who wrote me lately, responding to an article that I did on California's Education System, echoed many others who have written me to say that today's schools are just anti-American, violent, politically correct, ultra-liberal, more like leftist indoctrination camps - and not schools for learning useful knowledge such as math, English, science, or geography.

Since she hasn't been out of High School for very long herself, she said that it has even gotten worse than when she was in school.

She said she's having a tough time undoing what schools are doing to her children.

Her kids are being told that drugs are good and people who are against them are narrow minded; that gay and other deviant lifestyles are normal and that straight people are all homophobes; that Christian values are bad and that there is no God; that Republicans are bad and Democrats are good because Republicans hate blacks and Mexicans and anyone not white; that the 9/11 terrorists were not at fault and that the United States is really the reason for the attack; all guns are bad no matter what kind of gun: that there is no reason to listen to what your parents have to say - especially if they don't agree with President Obama because they are just Racists; and much more.

She said she is going to take her children to a hospital when they are older to see the results of a drug overdose and see what AIDS is all about - both the results of reckless behavior.

As for convincing them that she doesn't care what gays do, but does not think it normal, she said her children will have to learn that they shouldn't be made to accept something just because of peer pressure to do so.

And she's right, after all, there were a lot of Southerners who were anti-Slavery and sympathized with Republicans who were trying to free the slaves - all while being called some of the most foul things imaginable by their peers in the South.

She has decided that her children will be raised Christian, and hopefully they will learn that their are those who don't like others to have faith because they themselves don't. She's hoping that her children will recognize hate for what it is, even if it comes in the shape and form of a smiling teacher who tries to rob a child of their faith.

As for Republicans, those nasty folks who are all wealthy and white, she reminds her children that their family is of Mexican descent and they are Republicans.

She said she reminds her daughter, who is approaching her teens, that when she was pregnant with her and feeling lost that Planned Parenthood, who is made up of liberals and Democrats, told her that she should abort her.

She asked her daughter, "So if the Democrats are really so caring, why did they own slaves and fought against Civil Rights, and have encouraged so many women to kill so many babies?"

Since her family owns guns, she said her children are aware of gun safety and how guns can be useful for hunting and self-defense.

She told her oldest daughter, "if guns are not good for self-defense, then why do all police officers carry them? And if a police officer can carry a gun for self-defense purposes, why can't we do the same thing?"

As for their teachers telling them that they don't need to listen to what their parents have to say - especially if they don't agree with President Obama because they are just Racists, well that is just stupid.

She said, "I told my children that that is like calling me a racist because I disagree with your dad on spending too much money when we can't afford it - its just stupid"

So, is my nephew and those who write me correct in that it is getting worse these day?

Well, a 7-year-old boy in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, was suspended for two days for chewing his Pop-Tart type breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun and saying, “bang, bang” — an offense that the school described as a threat to other students, according to his family.

The pastry was a rectangular strawberry-filled bar, akin to a Pop-Tart, that the second-grader had tried to nibble into the shape of a mountain Friday morning, but then found it looked more like a gun, said his father, William “B.J.” Welch.

Mr Welch said an assistant principal at Park Elementary School in Baltimore told him that his son pointed the pastry at a classmate  — though the child maintains he pointed it at the ceiling.

“In my eyes, it’s irrelevant; I don’t care who he pointed it at,” Mr Welch said. “It was harmless. It was a danish.”

So has political correctness gone crazy in schools?

Well, in the 11 weeks since the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, at least two young children in the Washington, D.C. region have been suspended for pointing their fingers like guns; a 10-year-old in Alexandria, Va., was arrested by police for showing a toy gun to others on his school bus; and in Pennsylvania, a 5-year-old little girl was suspended for talking to classmates about shooting her Hello Kitty water gun that blows bubbles.

Of course, in one Texas school, a quiz given to fifth-graders blames the U.S. for 9/11 attacks.

That's right, a Texas mother is outraged by a school quiz given to her son that blames the United States for the September 11, 2001, attacks that killed over 3,000 people.

Kara Sands posted the test her son received in fifth grade at the Flour Bluff Independent School District in September on her Facebook page, which attracted more than 1,600 users in support of her concerns.

She told KRISTV that she was completely dismayed by a question that asked why the U.S. may be a target for terrorism? 

Her son chose the correct answer to the test that covered material from a video students watched in class: “Decisions we made in the United States have had negative effects on people elsewhere.”

"I'm not going to justify radical terrorists by saying we did anything to deserve that; over 3,000 people died," Kara Sands told the station.

She later met with the school’s principal, her son’s teacher and contacted the video’s distributor, Safari Montage, whose representatives stand behind the video but have already changed the corresponding quiz.

She plans to bring up her concerns during the next school board meeting on March 28.

"When I teach my children that you have to work hard and you have to earn a living and they go to school and learn something different, I absolutely take issue with that," she said.

Then, earlier this month, there is the story about a Texas student who was disciplined for refusing to recite Mexico's Pledge of Allegiance and sing the Mexican National Anthem.

Imagine that!  A student refuses to recite the Mexican National Anthem and is disciplined for it. Talk about the height of liberal indoctrination and anti-American behavior by teachers and school officials.

A Texas couple claims their daughter’s school district tried to force her to sing the Mexican National Anthem and recite Mexico's pledge of allegiance against her will - then punished her for standing her ground.

When the teen refused to participate, arguing it was against her beliefs as an American, she was eventually thrown out of the class and then given a failing grade for that day’s assignment, the lawsuit says.

William Brinsdon filed the lawsuit on behalf of his daughter, Brenda.

The lawsuit was filed against the McAllen Independent School District as well as Yvette Cavazos, Brenda’s teacher, and Reyna Santos, the principal at Achieve Early College High School.

McAllen is a Texas city of around 130,000 people less than 10 miles from the Mexican border in a region known as the Rio Grande Valley, the deepest part of the Lone Star State with a Mexican-American and immigrant majority population.

According to the lawsuit, Brenda was a sophomore in 2011 when she was asked to recite the Mexican National Anthem during her Spanish class. Brenda, whose mother is Mexican, told Cavazos, her teacher, that it was un-American to pledge an oath to another country.

Yvette Cavazos then told her to instead write an essay on the history of the Mexican revolution for the following day.

Brenda, 15, claims in the lawsuit she failed the essay because of her refusal to recite the Mexican pledge of allegiance. Previously, her father said, she was an above-average student. Eventually, she was asked to drop out of the class, according to the lawsuit.

So was it a class assignment designed to show patriotism to a foreign country?

A school official says no, but why would it be done when there are all sorts of other things a student can do for a Spanish class? The official called it "a cultural awareness" assignment in an advanced Spanish-language class.

They are 10 miles from the U.S.-Mexican border, they already have cultural awareness of the Mexican people. How much more awareness can students have living there?

Now on the flipr side of the coin, this is not the first lawsuit involving how patriotism should be handled in the classroom.

In June of last year, a teenager and her mother, Carolyn Raja, along with the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), took on the Brownsville, Texas, school district after the student was forced to stand during the U.S. pledge of allegiance.

In that case, Judge Mark Hornak ruled that students have a constitutional right to pass on reciting the pledge.

So let's understand what is taking place here. In the McAllen case, the school allows students to opt out of reciting the American pledge of allegiance - but punishes students for not reciting the Mexican pledge of allegiance or singing the Mexican national Anthem.

Is this ass backwards or what?

Now as to whether the school retaliated against Brenda for opting out of the Mexican anthem is still unclear, but it certainly sounds like it.

Her father claimed in the lawsuit that Brenda was kicked out of the class and then given a failing grade. This was a violation of her constitutional right to free speech, according to the suit.

“She spent the class hour in the school’s office, even though she requested to return to the classroom,” the Thomas More Law Center, which is representing Brinsdon, argued in the lawsuit. “Brenda was also given a failing grade on her report card, which was later corrected.”

"While the initial intent of exposing students to the elements of a different culture was a noble and well intentioned one," said Francisco Martinez, an English teacher in McAllen.."The apparent retaliation seemed petty in nature."

So yes, those of you who want to keep your children out of public schools have just cause to want to do so. Fact is, the more I read about what's going on across the nation in public schools - the more I realize that they are more screwed up than most parents really know.

Would I take my kid out of public schools today? Yes, even if it meant Home Schooling.

But besides Home Schooling, I believe that there might be another answer. Parents need to get involved and take charge.

They need to get on school boards if they can. Or maybe, they need to set up watchdog groups to prevent teachers from imposing their own leftist ideology on your children.

I understand how hard it is while both parents have to work these days, but maybe there is a way to bond with other like-minded parents and do something that will help fix the problem.

And yes, it is a matter of trust. Schools, both teachers and officials, have proven that they cannot be trusted to educate American children properly and without liberal propaganda.

On school boards, curriculum can be examined and monitored. As for watchdog groups, it may be beneficial to set up monitors to sit in on classroom discussions and observe whether or not political correctness and liberal indoctrination is going too far.

It is a shame that parents can't trust public schools to furnish their children with a quality education while doing away with the political bias and liberal ideology.

It appears that all they are doing is making life harder on parents who have the job of fixing what the schools are screwing up - their children.

Story by Tom Correa

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Colorado Sheriffs Feel Political Pressure, Jim Carrey Is An Ass, and More!


Colorado Sheriff says Lawmakers Holding Up Pay Raises Over Gun Stance

What is a case of Political Blackmail, or out and out Extortion, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa says Colorado lawmakers are now punishing him and his colleagues over their stance on new gun laws.

One of a handful of Colorado sheriffs who oppose several gun control bills working their way through the state legislature claims lawmakers are threatening the salaries of sheriffs to punish them for their position.

Imagine that! This isn't just a situation where some jerkweed Democrat in Colorado's State Capital saying "Do this or else!" This is supposedly being condoned by the Colorado Governor and the Colorado Legistlature.

The clash comes as anti-gun politicians want more restrictions on the rights of all Colorado citizens.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, while saying he would be obliged to enforce new law, publicly said he would willfully ignore a ban on high-capacity magazines and may even sue to overturn new laws he deems unconstitutional.

Now, he says a bill that would raise sheriffs' salaries is being held up at the Capitol and he knows why.

“Senate Dems have made it known, ‘Sheriffs, obey or no pay for you,’” Maketa said. “The first word that comes to my mind is extortion.”

He cited an email he received from another sheriff that read, “…I have been advised by a reliable source at the Capitol that the Dems are seriously not pleased with the [sheriffs’] positions on the gun bills… support of SB197 [one of the gun bills] would put us in a more favorable light for salary bill support from the Dems…”

Democrats hold majorities in both legislative houses.

Republican Rep. Lori Saine told Fox News that Sheriff Maketa's charge must be taken seriously.

“Any implication that this salary bill is being stymied needs to be seriously investigated,” she said.

Maketa says he would have to enforce bills signed into law. However, he said he would willfully ignore the ban on high-capacity magazines. Maketa says he's looking into the possibility of suing to overturn the bills if they become law.

Democrats say that they will allow a salary bill to raise sheriff pay to go to the floor, but only if seven Republicans, many of whom oppose the pay bill on fiscal grounds, sign on as co-sponsors. So far, that has not happened. Maketa said that is a hurdle that the gun bills did not face.

"None of these gun control bills they passed required any Republican co-sponsors -- but for the sheriff pay bill, [the speaker] required seven Republican co-sponsors to put it up for a vote," Maketa said. "I'm sorry, but that tells the truth right there."

Maketa said some of the gun control bills that have passed the legislature as unenforceable -- that he would simply assume that people’s guns had been purchased before the law and that they therefore would be grandfathered in.

"I can’t tell you when those [guns] were sold, bought and purchased. As far as I’m concerned, they were all pre-July 1st if the governor does sign this bill," he told a crowd last week.

Maketa clarified to Fox News on the phone that he would enforce laws when it was possible, saying, "I will enforce the new gun laws. I have to."

But other sheriffs have said they won't, including Weld County Sheriff John Cooke, who told Greeley Tribune that he "won’t bother enforcing" certain new gun laws.


Weld County Sheriff John Cooke's refusal to enforce gun rules is "Within Letter Of The Law"

Weld County Sheriff John Cooke says he won't enforce new gun-control measures, and legal experts say he won't be breaking the law.

Prioritizing how laws are enforced is the prerogative of local police chiefs and sheriffs. A lawsuit could be filed compelling Cooke or any other sheriff who declines to apply gun laws now on their way to the governor's desk, but it is the voters who ultimately will decide their fates.

"He couldn't be punished for not upholding these laws, but he could be ordered by the court to uphold them," said Richard Collins, a University of Colorado at Boulder law professor. "Whether anyone would bring a lawsuit to get the court to order him is pretty uncertain."

Don't you love it when you read some Democrat politician say something like "They are putting politics above their job!"

Well, Colorado State Senator Morgan Carroll, Democrat from Aurora, who is sponsor of the universal-background-checks bill said a sheriff unwilling or unable to fulfill the duties of the position should step down - and of course, "They are putting politics above their job!"

Putting politics above their job? What a line of crap!

How about the Colorado Democrats who are "putting politics above the lives and safety of the public?"

How about the woman out there who goes into a gun store to buy a gun to protect her family from a nut who she might have a restraining order on? She is now going to have to either wait until her background check comes back passed, or find herself an illegal gun from a shady source - just so she can protect her family.

Don't think things like that happen? It certainly does in California where there are background checks and waiting periods.

As for simple practicality and use of essential manpower is concerned, I agree with Sheriff Cooke and others who say they have bigger priorities than to enforce political edicts.
"Why put the effort into enforcing a law that is unenforceable?" Cooke told The Denver Post on Monday. "With all of the other crimes that are going on, I don't have the manpower, the resources or the desire to enforce laws like that."

Cooke said this is the first time in his law enforcement career that he has made the decision to not enforce a law. However, if a person who uses a gun outfitted with a magazine able to hold more than 15 rounds in a crime, that person will be charged under the new law.

Gov. John Hickenlooper is expected to sign at least two new gun laws prohibiting domestic abusers from having access to guns and banning online-only certification for concealed-carry permits are still in the legislature.

Sheriffs in 62 of Colorado's 64 counties are elected.

As long as the elected official isn't violating the U.S. or Colorado constitutions, the ramification for noncompliance is a recall or being voted out of office, said Dave Kopel, a professor at the University of Denver law school and author of a law-school textbook on firearms law and policy.

In the last election, Cooke won with 76 percent of the vote, he said. He is in his third term and said he plans to run in 2014 if a Weld County court case dealing with county term limits is settled in his favor.

Of course, if most of the constituents agree with Cooke's decision, it could also make him more popular, said Kopel, who is also on staff at the Independence Institute think tank.

"His primary obligation is to obey the U.S. Constitution and the Colorado Constitution, and he appears to be especially conscientious in making sure he does so," Kopel said.

While it may be one of the first instances related to gun-control measures, sheriffs in the past have refused to uphold laws they did not agree with, such as prohibition, Jim Crow and immigration, Kopel said.

Other sheriffs, including Terry Maketa of El Paso County and Justin Smith of Larimer County, have also been adamant critics of the new gun-control legislation.

During a recent town-hall meeting in Colorado Springs, Maketa said he has been in discussions about a lawsuit against the state to block the new laws.

"Chiefs and sheriffs all took an oath to uphold the laws of the state," said Carolyn Tyler, spokeswoman for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. "However, since Colorado is a local-control state, chiefs and sheriffs should work with local communities and supervisors to determine which laws to prioritize for enforcement."


Greg Gutfeld calls Jim Carrey a "deadly pathetic tool," "sad little freak," "jiberring mess"

On Monday’s episode of Fox News Channel’s “The Five,” show co-host Greg Gutfeld ripped actor Jim Carrey, who appeared in a video this weekend spoofing now-deceased National Rife Association President Charlton Heston, as a “sad little freak” and a deadly “modern bigot” desperately looking for acceptance.

The video, featuring Carrey playing Heston, is a take-off of the show “Hee Haw,” which was syndicated in the 1970s and 1980s.

“He is the most pathetic tool on the face of the earth,” Gutfeld said.

“And I hope his career is dead, and he ends up sleeping in a car the way his life began. This video only made me want to go out and only buy a gun. He thinks this is biting satire and going after rural America and a dead man. Let’s talk about Charlton Heston. Charlton Heston was one of the first actors to be behind the civil rights movement and march. What did this jackass Jim Carrey do? He was behind the anti-vaccine panic. There are what, 165,000 people that died from measles last year, according to the World Health Organization.”

“Jim Carrey has killed more people than all the rifles combined,” Gutfeld continued.

“He is a dirty, stinking coward. He is a moral coward. He did a video attacking rural America. But he wouldn’t do video about gangs, which kills way more people with handguns — he wouldn’t do that because he is worried about his career. Such a pathetic, sad, little freak. He is a jiberring mess. He is a modern bigot, he is a modern bigot. He is a bottomless pit of insecurity and the desire for acceptance is why he is doing this, because he knows in his heart he is a fraud.”

Charlton Heston, who died in 2008 at the age of 84 from symptoms related to Alzheimer's disease, served as the head of the NRA from 1998-2003.

And since there is nothing lower than mocking a dead man who can't defend himself, yes, Jim Carrey is a first rate ass!

To mock a dead man, a man who was on the forefront of the Civil Rights struggle in America. A man who served his country and contributed to it in ways that someone like Jim Carrey can neither understand or appreciate.

Yes, Jim Carrey is a Loser! He has no talent and is not funny, sort of stupid and dumb really.

He has now proven to be just another ignorant, untalented, washed up actor who sees himself as bigger and better than he is. He has shown himself to be a scumbag of the first order.

And worse, he seems to have a great deal of hate for a lot of people - mostly those who he cannot identify with such as rural Americans and conservatives. 

During his foul-mouthed video, he shows exactly how much hate he has for Middle America, Rural America, people who are not like him and would never think of calling people who don't agree with him "Motherf***kers!"

In fact, ahead of the video's premiere online, he hit out at "heartless motherf**kers who want to keep America's present gun laws" on his Twitter page.

The Canadian actor Carrey claims that God would "set the vultures and coyotes" on the arms vendors. Although born in Canada, Jim holds dual nationality in both his country of birth and the United States.

Maybe he has relinguished his US citizenship? I can only hope.

In his pathedic song, Jim Carrey sings, "They couldn't press the gun from his cold dead hand. It takes a cold dead hand to decide to pull the trigger... with your cold dead anger trying to prove your d**k is bigger."

In the hours leading up to the premiere of Jim's video on, he sparked a gun debate with his 10.1million followers on Twitter.

What was the result of that? Well, foul-mouthed Jim Carrey called gun owners "heartless motherf**kers."
To his surprise, his tweets were met with a deluge of pro-gun responses.

And yes, while some have argued that this is a way for Jim Carrey to use the issue of gun control to re-ignite his comedy career. Most believe he stepped over the line. 

When challenged by a various many gun owners and political pundits on Twitter, Carrey seemed unable to answer some simple points.

One good question: Why does he have armed guards, but the rest of Americans should hand their guns over?

Finally, when stumped himself, Carrey ended with, "I'd like to respond to all the conservative bundits out there personally but I'm far too busy NOT stumping for the gun companies!"

So OK, besides an ignorant untalented ass, he's a coward!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Rifleman - We Need Him Today!

OK, I'll confess, I love watching The Rifleman! I have for years, and thanks to re-runs and my DVR, I will for a long time to come.

Each episode had a moral, a message, a great life lesson, things that made sense and were right. And yes, I loved it then just as I love it now. As for you who have never heard of The Rifleman, well you're missing out on a great show.

"The Rifleman" is a Western television show that aired on ABC from September 30, 1958 to April 8, 1963 as a production of Four Star Television. During the production of The Rifleman back in the early 1960's, its star was Chuck Connors who played Lucas McCain. His son Mark McCain was played by Johnny Crawford. It was set in the 1880s in the fictitious town of North Fork in the New Mexico Territory. And please, don't try finding it because it's not there.

The show was filmed in black-and-white as were most in those days. And frankly, I don't remember any shows back then in color. It was only produced in half-hour episodes. It was one of the first prime time series to have a widowed parent raise a child.

The three main characters consisted of Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain, a rancher, Union Army veteran of the American Civil War and widowed father; Johnny Crawford as Lucas' son Mark McCain; Paul Fix as marshal of North Fork Micah Torrance. Other regulars included Bill Quinn as Sweeney the bartender; Patricia Blair as Lou Mallory; Joe Higgins as Nils Swenson the blacksmith; Harlan Warde as John Hamilton the banker; Joan Taylor as Milly Scott; Hope Summers as Hattie Denton; John Harmon as Eddie Halstead.

As for trivia? Well, seven actors played the town doctor during the series, for some reason all were usually known as "Doc Burrage": the first was Edgar Buchanan, then came Fay Roope, Rhys Williams, Jack Kruschen, Robert Burton, Ralph Moody and Bert Stevens. And as for guest stars, more than 500 actors made guest appearances in over 970 credited roles during the series' run -- and many went on to big time careers.

The series centers on Lucas McCain, a widowed Civil War veteran who was supposedly a Union Army Lieutenant in the 19th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Lucas McCain and his son Mark live on their ranch outside the fictitious town of North Fork, New Mexico Territory. You notice how I said fictitious town of North Fork again? It's because people really do go looking for it. The series was set during the 1880s, a wooden plaque next to the McCain home states that the home was rebuilt by Lucas McCain and his son Mark in August 1881 after the first one was burnt to the ground.

The pilot episode, "The Sharpshooter", was originally telecast on CBS as part of Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater on March 7, 1958. It was repeated in an edited form as the first episode of the series on ABC. Believe it or not, actress Ida Lupino directed one episode. Chuck Connors wrote several episodes himself. Actor Robert Culp wrote one two-part episode, and Frank Gilroy wrote "End of a Young Gun".

The February 17, 1959 episode of The Rifleman was a spin-off for an NBC series, Law of the Plainsman, starring Michael Ansara as Marshal Sam Buckhart. In the episode "The Indian", Buckhart comes to North Fork to look for Indians suspected of murdering a Texas Ranger and his family.

A common thread in the series is that "people deserve a second chance." For example, Marshal Micah Torrance is a recovering alcoholic, and McCain gives a convict a job on his ranch in "The Marshal". Lucas McCain himself is a man with human foibles. He is not perfect. Yes, he too learns during some of the episodes.

In an episode with Phil Carey who played a former gunman and old adversary Simon Battles, he is unwilling to believe the man has changed and become a doctor and father. It takes a gunfight with Simon Battles standing alongside him to make him admit that he was wrong.

In "Two Ounces Of Tin" with Sammy Davis, Jr. as Tip Corey who is a former circus trick-shot artist turned gunman, McCain angrily orders him off the ranch when he finds him demonstrating his skills to Mark. McCain has a reputation in the Indian Territories of Oklahoma, where he first acquired the nickname "the Rifleman," and where Lucas' wife died in a smallpox epidemic.

The series was created by Arnold Laven and developed by the famous Sam Peckinpah, who would go on to become the director of some of the bloodiest movies ever made. Peckinpah, who wrote and directed many episodes, based many characters and plots on his childhood on a ranch. His insistence on violent realism and complex characterizations and his refusal to sugarcoat the lessons he felt the Rifleman's son needed to learn about life put him at odds with the show's producers at Four Star. Peckinpah left the show and created a short-lived series, The Westerner with Brian Keith.

Television Westerns were extremely popular when The Rifleman premiered, and producers tried to find gimmicks to distinguish one show from another. Show creators really did try to make characters interesting by equipping them with a "gimmick" of some sort such as different types of guns. For example, the three most famous having been Josh Randall's "mare's leg" rifle which was used by Steve McQueen in CBS's Wanted: Dead or Alive,  the over-and-under shotgun used by Scott Brady in Shotgun Slade, and of course Lucas McCain's trick rifle from ABC's The Rifleman,

The Rifleman's trick rifle was his gimmick. As with the guns in many Western movies, it is anachronistic in that it was first manufactured in 1892 which is 12 years after the time in which the show is set. But hey, it's just a television show! It was a modified Winchester Model 1892 rifle, with a large ring lever drilled and tapped for a setscrew allowing for rapid fire by setting the screw to depress the trigger instead his having to pull the trigger for each shot fired. The unique feature of the Rifleman's rifle and screw pin attached to a large loop lever positioned to trip the trigger when the ring was slammed home allowed Lucas to fire the rifle as fast as he could work the lever, emptying the magazine in under five seconds. It also enabled McCain to spin-cock the rifle.

The trigger-trip screw pin was used in two configurations, with the screw head turned inside close to the trigger or more often outside the trigger guard with a locknut on the outside to secure its position. In some episodes the screw was removed, when rapid-fire action was not required. When properly adjusted, the screw “squeezed” the trigger when the lever was fully closed.

So how does an 1892 Winchester lever action rifle make it into a television show that is supposedly taking place 12 years before it was invented? Friends, that's Hollywood! In Hollywood, anything is possible. For example, Lucas McCain fires 12 shots from his rifle during the opening credits. Seven shots in the first closeup and five more as the camera switches to another view. The people doing the soundtrack put in a dubbed 13th gunshot to allow the firing to end with a section of the theme music. Most, if not all, of the sound effects for the rifle shots were dubbed, which is why the rifle sounded so different from the other gunshots on the show.

For us gun folks who can appreciate the Winchester used in the series, the rifle was chambered in .44-40 caliber, which could be used as six-gun cartridges or rifle rounds. He could supposedly fire off his first round in three-tenths of a second, which certainly helped in a showdown if he needed rapid fire and run his rifle dry. 

Despite the anachronism of a John Browning-designed rifle appearing in a show set 12 years before it was designed, Connors demonstrated its rapid-fire action during the opening credits on North Fork's main street. Although the rifle may have appeared in every episode, it was not always fired. As surprising as it may sound to some folks, some plots did not require violent solutions. For example, one involving Mark's rigid new teacher. McCain attempts to solve as many problems as possible without having to resort to shooting.

Gunsmith James S. Stembridge modified two Model 1892s for use in regular and close-up filming.  In addition, a Spanish-made Gárate y Anitúa "El Tigre" lever action near-copy of the Model 1892 was modified for use as a knockabout gun.

The El Tigre is seen in scenes where the rifle is in a saddle scabbard and is not drawn and in stunts where the rifle was thrown to the ground, used as a club, or in any stunt where there was the possibility of damage to the real Model 1892s. These three rifles were the only ones used by Chuck Connors during the entire series.

The 1892 Winchester caliber .44-40 carbine with a standard 20-inch barrel used on the set of The Rifleman appeared with two different types of levers. The backwards, round-D-style loop was used in the early episodes. Sometimes the rifle McCain uses has a saddle ring. The style later changed to a flatter lever instead of the large loop with no saddle ring. The 8-32 set screw tapped through the trigger guard for the rapid-fire action also came in different styles. Some were silver, while others were black with a silver nut under the head of the screw. Sometimes Connors had the screw head turned inside close to the trigger, but he mostly had it on the outside of the trigger guard.

The rapid-fire mechanism was originally designed to keep Chuck Connors' finger from getting punctured by the trigger as he quickly fired and cocked the rifle. The rifle and ammunition were provided by the now-defunct Stembridge Gunsmiths. Ammunition was quarter-load 5-in-1 blank cartridges containing smokeless powder, which did not produce the thick clouds of smoke the genuine black powder cartridges of the 1880s did. If memory serves me right, smokelesss powder wasn't invented until invented until 1884 in France, and it wasn't introduced in the United States until 1887.

The 1892 Winchester is a top-eject rifle as the top is open when the lever is cocked forward. The empty shells are ejected straight up when the lever is pulled towards the shooter. When the rifle was spin-cocked down to Connors' side, the cartridges would have fallen to the ground. Therefore, the rifle was modified with a plunger which would hold a round in place. Smart huh!

The Model 1892 Winchester rifle, a descendant of the Civil War-era Henry rifle and Winchester Model 1866 "Yellow Boy" rifles, was made from 1892 to 1941 which had a total production run of over one million. Many variations and calibers were introduced over the course of production, but the basic design was kept the same. Winchester made 27 different variations of its 1892 rifle.

Like the earlier 1873 model, the light and handy Model 1892 was chambered for handgun cartridges, favored by many Westerners to simplify ammunition supply problems by using the same cartridge for both your handgun and rifle. And yes, like many other fine firearms, the Winchester Model 1892 rifle was designed by the great John Moses Browning who designed the M2 heavy .50 caliber machine gun which our troops are using in combat to this day.

As for what ever happened to the famous rifle? On July12th of 2012, it was reported that Profiles In History has announced that the iconic Hollywood firearm would go to auction July 30th, 2012. In lot #369, Chuck Conners 44-40 Winchester rifle from the TV Show The Rifleman went on the block.

Jeff Conners, son of Chuck Conners, said his father presented the rifle to him when he was at his father’s ranch inn Bear Valley Springs in Tehachapi, California, and was one of five rifles custom built for the show. The estimated auction price was $40,000 – $60,000. And yes, as silly as it sounds, since it was in California, the buyer needed to have a transfer of ownership done with an FFL to receive the $60,000 rifle -- including a background check.

Background check? As if a criminal would use a $60,000 1892 lever-action .44-40 rifle to do a drive by shooting? Right.

Now as for the idea of remaking The Rifleman? I hope not! Though in 2011, CBS announced plans to remake the original Rifleman series, I really hope it's not done.

Hollywood's new version of The Rifleman would not be like the old version at all. They would want to portray Lucas McCain as a Civil War hero and unparalleled sharpshooter who is haunted by personal demons of wrongs that he had committed. Something that Lucas McCain was not. They would depict him as a dark figure who moves to the New Mexico territory trying to put his past behind him -- yet becomes the unofficial guardian of the town. Again, something that Lucas McCain was not.

During a discussion on a forum lately, some were talking about the 2011 CBS announcement of remaking The Rifleman. I commented on how it wouldn't be the same. My belief is that if it happened, it simply would not be the same because Hollywood has changed for the worse.

Back then, in the 1950s and 1960s, each Rifleman episode had a moral or a message. It had great life leassons for kids and adults. Whether it was against bigotry or selfishness, regarding greed or injustice, the idea of never losing hope and staying on right side of the line, each episode gave the viewer something to think about.

Take for example, the very second episode of The Rifleman: The Home Ranch. Here is Chuck Connors' own words describing part of the episode:

"Mark and I stood together as we watched our home burn. I had a discouraging look on my face, but Mark’s face showed confusion and disgust. He couldn’t believe our home was going up in smoke. I walked across the burn and ashes, trying to take everything in. I threw a can down in disgust and walked to the wagon, banging my fist against it. With our new home burned to the ground, Mark was upset and discouraged.

"Pa, it's just not fair!” He cried in his little ten year old voice. "We ride half way across the country looking for the right place, and when we finally got it...well look what happened!"

Suddenly another board fell from the house. I turned and closed my eyes, knowing I needed to stay strong for my boy and mustering up the strength to do so. "Looks to me like the Lord is dead set against us having our own place'!" Mark said practically in tears.

His words shook me, and I realized I had to restore his faith in the Lord. So instead of comforting him like my whole being wanted to do, I simply stated, "Help me saddle up boy. I want to tell you a story.”

Mark just sat still, not understanding why I was wanting to tell him a story at a time like this. “Come on," I ordered sternly. As we started saddling my horse, I told the story:  A long time ago in a country so far west, it's almost due east of here, lived a big stock man with a beard so long it reached down to his belly button. His name was Job.

Now Job had seven sons and seven daughters, over seven thousand head of fine cattle and sheep, not to mention a considerable amount of camels. Now Job was top dog with the Lord because he was so hard working, righteous. The Lord never lost a chance to brag on him...made a point to tell the devil about the old man...about how he hated evil, temptation and, most important, how he never lost his faith in God.

Well the devil swished his tail and laughed and he allowed that Job was such a good man because everything was going his way. Just give him some trouble and he'd switch sides in a hurry.

Well the Lord thought this over and then he said he'd give the devil a hard dollar against a penny's worth of brimstone that Job would keep faith with his maker no matter what trials were put upon him.

Well the devil sent some rustlers on to the old man's stock. Then he called up a big wind that knocked down his house and killed all his children. The old man's beard turned white with grief. But he held stead fast. So the devil reared back and saddled him all over with festers and boils.

Mark, Job was a miserable as a man could be. He got himself a piece of broken jug, sat out in the corral doctorin’ his boils and shaken ashes over his head and bewailing his faith, wondering why the Lord has forsaken him until finally three of his friends came up, and they told Job that wailing about the situation only made it worse and it looked to them like he sinned somewhere along the line and why didn't he repent.

Job jumped right back at them. He said he'd repent when he had something to repent about. He knew he'd been good and righteous and while he might complain about his life, he had not lost faith with the Lord.

‘Oh that my words were now written and printed in a book, graven with chisel and granite rock forever. For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand beside me later on.’

That's how the old man put it! Well Mark, the devil was plum wore out, so he just tossed in his chips and quit the game. The Lord was so proud of Job that he restored all the old man's children and his house and his camels and sheep and he gave him over twice as many cattle as he had before. And Job lived a hundred and forty years happy as a bird dog and finally died being old and full of days."

Mark thought about what I had just said. "Makes our troubles look kind of piddlin' don't it?"

I nodded, giving him a gentle smile. "I guess we're gonna keep this ranch!" Mark said proudly, his faith restored. 

So I then told him, "Well I guess we're gonna try!" Mark knew then that we could overcome any kind of obstacle as long as we keep our faith in the Lord and faced them together."  
Hollywood would never go for that sort of Christian message today. They like dark and negative where good guys fail and bad guys prevail. In today's Hollywood, there is no place for such a good man.

In the 50's and 60's version, Lucas McCain is a strong man who read the bible, a good practical Christian who might have a cold beer but mostly drinks coffee, is a rancher and a true steward of the land, a person who lives his life believing that doing what's right is right. He is a man who volunteers to do his Civic Duty by being part of the School Board and volunteers to cover for the town marshal from time to time just as most others in town do.

He defends himself, his family, neighbors and country, all while giving people a fair deal and trying to bring up his son the best way he knows how. He is like most around him -- hard working, good, strong, brave, steadfast in making his property and life a go, living a life good and rich with close friends and family, using the Bible as a guide, remembering that there is a law higher than that made by man, respecting others and himself. Lucas McCain's character is what those in the Old West were like. His character is that of those who persevered, settled the West, and made our nation great.

Those are not the traits which Hollywood wants to sell these days. Instead they focus on the seedy, the greedy, and the worse of the worse in human nature trying to make people believe that we are all essentially bad. And yes, ironically, Hollywood's desire to depict the Old West as a place that lacks all humanity shows just how out of touch Hollywood is to the rest of the country and truth history.

Whether Hollywood likes it or not, the 50's and 60s version of Lucas McCain is what America really wants and needs right now. America needs to see how tough our forefathers really were, and maybe find inspiration in knowing that we too can persevere and win in the battle of keeping the Devil at bay -- no matter how bad things get.

Tom Correa

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Justin Baca's First Gathering

Colorado, circa 1900
I have found that some of the easiest stories are hard to tell. The reason is not the telling, but the why things are the way they are.

A week or so ago, Chris Zahniser asked me if I would give a hand during a gathering and branding at his place. Of course I was all for it. It was that time of year, and I always look forward to gatherings. Besides the work involved, it is a big part of the cowboy lifestyle. And yes, all in all, it's also a lot of fun.

When Saturday morning came around, as I had a second cup of coffee, I realized that I was feeling that old anticipation of wanting to get out there. I sat there for a moment with my coffee and slipped into a memory of my grandfather and dad, my uncles, and others when I wasn't 10 yet.

Though the day started with a crisp chill in the air but soon warmed up real nice, by the time I arrived at the ranch, it was a really beautiful spring morning. Chris had told me that most of the cattle were already done and that there were only a few to do. He also said that there the few left would be easy enough to bring in to the pens and that there was no need for another horse.

Now, though I did want to try to use my new horse Jack for this, I'm not too proud to think that I can't do ground work. And yes, I've been around enough to have seen a few hands who would only show up for the riding and the gathering - then bug out when the ground work begins. It usually only happens once, because after that their names get around and their not usually asked back to help - no matter how short handed you might be.

As for doing ground work, my age and bad back wouldn't stop me from helping when friends ask. Besides, there is something about trying to wrestle a cow or two or more. Why wrestle cattle, or sit on their shoulders and neck to keep them down? Well, that's part of the job when you do it the "old way." And yes, Chris told me that we would be branding and cutting the "old way" - without a chute, and instead using a "header" and a "heeler."

Using two cowboys on horseback, one roper is referred to as the "header." He's the cowboy who ropes the front of the steer. The second cowboy roper is the "heeler." He ropes the steer by its hind feet. Once the header has roped the animal, he then takes a dally, which is a couple of wraps of the rope around the horn of the saddle. Once the header has made the dally, he turns the horse, usually to the left, and the steer will follow, still running.

The heeler waits until the header has turned the steer. When the heeler has a clear throw, the heeler throws a loop of rope under the running steer's hind legs and catches them. As soon as the heeler also dallies tight, the header turns his or her horse to directly face the steer and heeler. Both horses back up slightly to stretch out the steer's hind legs, hopefully taunt enough to immobilize the animal. As soon as the animal is stretched out, then the ground work starts.

First thing to do is make sure the cow, calf, steer, or bull is laying on the opposite side of where the owner's brand needs to be placed. If the animal has to be rolled over, then that's the time to do it. One cowboy places his knee on the cow's neck and pulls up and back on the head. His partner grasps the uppermost hind leg, pulls it back and at the same time places his foot on the hind leg next to the ground. Although some skip the second man and just let the horses stretch the animal out. Either way, the animal is in pretty good position for branding.

Most cattle operations today use a squeeze chute because it is simply faster and easier. Also, beings that the cow or steer or calf is in the chute, it is completely immobilized and can be vaccinated, doctored, cut, tagged and branded all a lot easier than on the ground.

While more cattle can get done in a shorter amount of time, it is also true that a squeeze chute is a sizable investment for most beef producers. Many small outfits like the Zahniser's Green Valley Ranch would be smart to save their money and do things the "old fashion way" if they can get the help to do it. And just for the record, branding livestock has been around since before the ancient Romans and were well known to be used in the Middle Ages in Europe.

The Europeans brought branding to America, and it was actually refined by the Spanish Vaquero in what today is the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. In the Old West, a "branding iron" consisted of an iron rod with a simple symbol or mark which cowboys heated in a fire. That hasn't changed much at all.

Once the animal is restrained, and after the branding iron turned red hot, a cowboy grabs up the iron and presses the branding iron against the hide of the cow. Back in the Old West, a brand meant that cattle owned by multiple ranches could graze freely together on open range. Cowboys would later separate the cattle during "roundups" and "gatherings" when preparing to drive them to market.

Rustlers used what was known as a "running irons" were pretty smart about changing brands. It should be noted that just having a "running iron" in your possession could have led you to a hanging tree in the Old West. Brands became so numerous that it became necessary to start Brand Registries and record them in books so that ranchers could prove their property was in fact theirs.

Once laws were passed requiring the registration of brands, and the inspection of cattle driven through various territories. Penalties were imposed on those who failed to obtain a bill of sale with a list of brands on the animals purchased. Of course, today free-range or open-range grazing is a lot less common than in the past. But, branding is still used for the purpose of proving ownership, especially of lost or stolen animals. In fact, even today, many states have strict laws regarding brands, including brand registration, and require brand inspections. Of course, today there are other types of branding methods including freeze and paint branding.

As for last Saturday, well, we went Old School.

Al Zahniser and his son Chris who manages their family beef operation, Craig Record who is a local cowboy and horse trainer, his daughter Jasmine, Buck Baca and his son Justin, were all there when I arrived. Chris organized the gathering and branding. And although Al was scheduled to be somewhere else that day, he did show up to see how things were going - and of course make sure all was going according to plan. While Al has raised cattle for more years than most, and Chris knows what was needed, Craig has worked for some big outfits in his time and because he was available. Craig was the top hand that day.

There are many unspoken rules to the tradition of gathering and branding. One big rule is that while everyone works together and watches every one else's back, there can only be one top hand who calls the shots so that everything goes smoothly and safely.

Since all they had to cover was about a hundred acres, Craig had his mare Annie saddled and soon rode out with 15 year old Justin Baca to cover his flanks. And yes, this was a first for Justin.

Justin Baca is a young man who has learned a lot from the cowboy way. He is a good worker and not afraid to get in there to do what needs done. At 15, he's just started team roping and his dad Buck is a great mentor for him.

Granted there were less than twenty head of cattle that needed to be gathered, it was good to see that Justin rode where he was told and not ahead of the boss. Riding ahead of the top hand or boss is seen as plain disrespectful, but also foolish because in most cases he's not taking directions from the man in charge - and really won't know how things are going to get done.

It was sort of funny to watch the scene take off. At the top of the far rise, the cattle had come out and lined up all facing the two riders coming slowly toward them. It looked like some sort of cavalry position being met by two lone riders.

Once Craig was close, the cattle broke and swung across the right side of the field. Both Craig and Justin tried to contain them and move them slowly toward the pens, but couldn't as the cows split time and time again from one side of the field to the other.

Normally, when you are given an area to gather in - you go exactly where you are told. You don't cross over into another rider’s area. But in this case, the cows and not the riders were forcing the action. Whether its a small area or big area, a number of riders can search out cows and have an easier time moving them simply because they have more help.

In this case, two riders were trying to move cattle in an area that was wide open and the cows didn't want to go where they were being pushed. It was sort of squeezing a balloon full of water. Squeeze one spot and another bulges. Use two hands and the middle bugles. Of course to add insult to what was being done was when the cattle were almost in the corral and they broke again. This went on for the better part of an hour when Justin came in and his dad took over his position.

Now I can't say for sure, but I was hoping that Justin saw how nothing changed after his dad took over. At one point though, I looked at Justin and asked how he was doing. He looked a little down in the mouth because he was having such a hard time with the cows out there. As I said before, Justin had just started team roping where roping is completely different altogether. Team roping is a controlled event.

Steers used for roping are moved from a holding corral through a series of narrow alleyways that lead to the roping arena. The alleyways or runways allow the steers to be lined up in single file. Then, one at a time, a steer is moved into a chute with spring-loaded doors in front and a solid gate behind, so that only one animal is released at a time.

On each side of the chute is an area called the box that is big enough to hold a horse and rider. The header is on one side (usually the left, for a right-handed header) while the "heeler" is on the other side of the chute in that box.

A taut rope, called the barrier, runs in front of the header's box and is fastened to an easily released rope on the neck of the steer of a designated length, used to ensure that the steer gets a head start. An electronic barrier, consisting of an electric eye connected to a timing device, is sometimes used in place of the barrier rope.

When the header is ready, the roper calls for the steer and an assistant pulls a lever, opening the chute doors. The freed steer breaks out running. When the steer reaches the end of the rope, the barrier releases. The header must rope the steer with one of three legal catches: a clean horn catch around both horns, a neck catch around the neck or a half-head catch around the neck and one horn.

The header then takes a dally, and goes through the exercise the same way as I described before. The same for the heeler, except since Team Roping is a competition the heeler gets a five second penalty assessed to the end time if only one leg is caught.

As soon as the heeler also dallies tight, the header turns his or her horse to directly face the steer and heeler. Both horses back up slightly to stretch out the steer's hind legs, immobilizing the animal. As soon as the steer is stretched out, an official waves a flag and the time is taken.

The steer is released and trots off to an open gate where he will go back into an allyway for another go around. All very neat and clean. Some of this is what old style ranch work was all about, such as with what the header and heeler does, but the difference is in the cattle and the setup.

In ranch work, the animals you're roping are not just a bunch of Corriente steers that live to be roped. A small herd that has been roped again and again.

Chris Zahniser's red and white face Herefords seldom ever run in a straight line. They bunch up with other cattle. There are no alleyways or runways. No chutes and boxes. And yes. they can try your patience while making the most experienced Team Roper feel like a rookie.

I tried to tell Justin that besides gatherings not being like Team Ropings, Al Zahniser's cattle had never been driven by horses before. This was a first for more than just Justin.

After almost an hour or two, Craig's 19 year old daughter Jasmine who has been around cows forever finally took her horse out there to help her dad and Buck bring them in. Her horse made the difference and the cattle were all pretty worn out from running around. Both Craig's and Buck's horses were lathered and tired as well, so we all figured that they and the cattle would take a few minutes to calm down.

After a short break, we were ready and cut out the ones that didn't need branding and got them out of our way. The few left were bunched up and sorting was getting interesting in that one big steer thought he was still a bull and actually charged the horse - and me at one point.

The guys yelled and said that he missed me by a foot or so, and I was thankful they were watching my back. That is an important part of doing the ground work, especially when there's a mean one in the herd.

Justin was never involved in castrating bulls, so besides the gathering and branding - cutting a bull was a real eye opener. Castration is the removal of the testicles of a bull. Castrated bulls gain weight a lot faster. Castration makes the beef tastier, and it improves its temperament.

Justin watched Craig as he cut the first bull, and he was OK with helping with whatever needed to be done. He was a great help, and just as everyone else does -- he kept from getting in the way.

Craig was the header and Buck heeled, and they worked pretty good together. Buck seem to realize that the big difference between Team Roping and the branding pen is that you're not fighting the clock for time. Roping in the branding pen is very different, when taking your shot you have to sort of consider where the steer is going to go. You consider where the animal is going to end up after your loop. And yes, you don’t want to get another roper in trouble.

It's been my experience that when making plans to take a shot you need to notice if the other roper is paying attention to what's going on. It's better to pass up the shot and wait until he's working with you.

My grandfather was a great cowboy, and he would have loved Craig's horse Annie that day. She kept the rope taunt but not too much. See while its true that the animal being stretched is being immobilized, we wouldn't want a horse to put too much pressure on that rope - especially small calves.

As for ground work, I've heard it said that the best ground crews are ones that are the best horsemen. Many times the ground crews don’t know enough to get out of the way of the roper who is dragging a steer to them. The crew needs to know what's going on and should get out of the way of the man on the horse and let him ride past before doing the work.

After we made sure the cow, calf, steer, or bull was laying on the opposite side of where the owner's brand needs to be placed, and rolled over a couple, I had put my considerable weight on the cattle up to that point by placing one knee on the cow's neck and pulling up and back on its head.

Justin said that he wanted to hold the next steer down. Chris and I looked at Justin, and after asking how much he weighed, he replied, "113 pounds!"

Chris and I both got a laugh from it, mostly because I'm about three times his size, but we agreed and told him that the next one was his. When it was time, Craig showed Justin what to do and how to hold him down. Justin did as he was told, at one point riding out the steers attempt to throw a fuss. At that moment, Justin Baca became a cowboy.

Most young people learn a great deal from ranching and farming. More than people think actually. Fact is that there are a lot of great qualities that kids learn on a farm and ranch. Nowhere can you find youngsters who are more responsible than ranch and farm kids. And nowhere can you find young people who are more polite or more trustworthy.

Beside teaching kids about animal husbandry, animal care, and what it takes to feed America. Living in the country can teach many valuable qualities that are lacking in city life.

Like many others who I've known, Justin has learned responsibility and really does have a good sense of self worth. And yes, I believe that one way that the small gathering and branding was good for him, he was part of the success of what took place that day. It was hard work, but in the end it was great. And yes, he learned that for himself.

By joining in on the gathering and seeing how it can get done even when it looks frustrating, getting into Team Roping and learning to be responsible for his horse and other animals, all of these activities can heighten a kid's sense of worth. And as most of us know, there’s something about knowing that people and animals are counting on you and what you do - that brings out the best in people.

When Justin showed that he had the determination to hold down that steer - even though he didn't have the body weight behind him - that was real determination.

And there is a another essential trait that I see in Justin and other country kids that I don't see in too many city kids, it is what makes us into the people we are. It has to do with how we look at life.

Hope is one of the strongest forces that drive the human spirit to accomplish many things. Having hope will help kids overcome many disappointments. Combine a sense of hope with being  responsible and determined, and that truly is a formula for success.

By showing a great sense of responsibility and determination, Justin became a cowboy that day at the Green Valley Ranch. He did great. And yes indeed, his sense of responsibility and determination showed us all that he knows how to Cowboy Up!

Story by
Tom Correa