Sunday, February 28, 2016

"O'er all the tomb a sudden spring" Happy Easter!

Mary Magdalene at the Empty Tomb
While more romantic than religious, this poem still evidences belief in a literal, physical resurrection that the rest of the writings of the Poet clearly convey. I present this year's Easter Poem from my Silurist Cousin, Henry Vaughan:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Old Scouts Never Die, They Just Lose Their Comic Books

This is another photo that needs its own blog post. I wrote last night to my tent buddy from my first Philmont Trek in 1971. We were pen pals for a while in the 70's but we lost contact as adulthood came and other interests took us. My friend stayed true to his gift becoming a writer and publisher of underground comix! I'm still searching for my gift. But my life is good and I love my family.
My friend third from right, back row. And me - kid on the back far right.

Monday, February 22, 2016

So Happy to See a Black President!

PBS Newshour posted a great, "feel-good" video. A 106 year-old African-American woman meets the President and first lady in the White House.

See for complete video:
106-year-old Virginia McLaurin met and danced with President Obama and First Lady Michelle at the White House earlier this week. In 2013, McLaurin was honored for her volunteer work in Washington DC and said it was her dream to meet the president. The White House released this video on Sunday. Posted by PBS NewsHour on Sunday, February 21, 2016

Nearly Dying by Lightning, Falling, or Exposure - A Typical Scout Adventure

Lightning would have been the quickest. Falling most painful. And exposure takes a while but you usually fall asleep first which I didn't that night as I kept arranging my heat-reflective space blanket to alternate sweating and freezing. And we somehow survived.

My Facebook Scout Challenge led me to seek out the Scouts from when I was an Assistant Scoutmaster in Bountiful, Utah, Stone Creek District, Great Salt Lake Council in the late 1980s. We worked with our boys on hiking and camping and did a pretty good preparation for a 50-mile hike across the Uintah Mountains, North to South, Wyoming to Utah.

Day 3 of the 50-miler. Two passes and a day of high altitude adventure. "Nephite Altar" circled in red upper right.
A feeling of dread woke with me on Day 3. We were camped above 11,000 feet on the slopes of Mt. Lovenia. I had discovered "the Nephite Altar" as we called it the bright and sunny evening before. You need to see it yourself to understand. That block of rock will not be going anywhere as it hasn't for a few thousand years. But that next morning, the pass above us was fogged in.
The "Nephite Altar" from Camp No. 2 facing East, of course.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Bardd Rydw I - In Which I Become a Welsh Bard

The first scribbles of an idea came at the beginning of my most recent audit of a Welsh reading class at Brigham Young University. OK, so we're reading "Thomas the Train" in Welsh and I have a ways to go. If only I could spend more time in actual application with the language, I know I could pick it up.

My job still takes most of my brain space and there are so many other things that impose on my thinking time. Still, little by little it comes and my Celtic bones take strength from the ancient language of my fore-bearers. This Saxon-English imposed on me is like poison in the blood. Yet I swear the undying language will not cease from the earth as we children of the Black Mountains and Green Valleys strive to keep it alive.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Nobody Should Leave the LDS Church. But if Conservatives Need an Excuse . . . .

My Bishop is a really great guy. In one recent visit, I was expressing my exasperation over so many who leave the church because their liberal-leaning souls are hurt. I exclaimed, "Why don't more conservatives who don't follow church teachings leave!"

His response that we didn't want anyone to leave calmed me somewhat. And then he went on so tactfully to encourage my responsibility to offer service and Christian love because that's what the Gospel of Christ is really all about. I was sufficiently humbled and chastened. And in spite of my weaknesses, I will carry on.

Sometimes, though, I just can't help poking the hornets nest. (I should stick to the beehive.)

The recent turmoil I felt over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the serious criminal charges including some relating back to the armed confrontation with public officials at the Bundy Ranch got me thinking. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a strong condemnation of the armed take-over at the refuge expressing concern about the attempt to justify the illegal and dangerous action by an unfounded appeal to LDS Scripture. It didn't help much. The perpetrators were arrested and one tragically shot while resisting arrest (he ran not one but two police stops, and it didn't look to me that he was attempting to surrender peacefully.)

I do find it odd that extreme, right-wing Conservatives can find a more comfortable home staying in the Church than leaving. In my opinion, a lot on the left leave because they feel so uncomfortable around so much conservatism. Frequently, those on the conservative right use LDS scripture and teachings to justify their extremely conservative views. So I just thought I would remind one and all of some fairly progressive and official positions taken by the LDS Church that seem at odds with this extreme conservatism.

My sources generally come from Mormon Newsroom at where it states,"The official resource for news media, opinion makers, and the public." I guess as a blogger, I could be considered an "opinion maker" even if I don't have that much influence as a voice crying in the wilderness.

On Immigration and Refugees, the LDS Church takes a compassionate and welcoming approach in support of  the principles of the Utah Compact in support of families and with charity toward refugees. This is a far cry from the current scramble in one major US political party's primary to see who is the meanest and crudest towards immigrants and refugees. But the Utah Compact is not so different from the Immigration Reform proposed by President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain back before their base balked.

Then there's the Environment:
You may recognize Mt. Moran and Jackson Lake of Teton National Park. And the statement is by President Nelson,
current President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles

Monday, February 15, 2016

Cynefin "A Sense of Place" Wales

We have already shared some work from crowd-sourcing or indexing the Tithing maps of Wales (1840s) for the National Library of Wales (here, here, and here). I just discovered that there are some parishes with the parcels now "clickable" to find who owned and occupied the place including Tract No. 44 in Llanfoist Village:

Clicking on box 44, this is what popped up on the right.
The Cynefin system is very different from indexing. One nice thing is that they list the names of the volunteers:

Saturday, February 13, 2016

U.S. Constitution Founded on Babylonian Religion

Hammurabi (standing), depicted as receiving his royal insignia from Shamash (or possibly Marduk).
Hammurabi holds his hands over his mouth as a sign of prayer. Ancient Iraq, by Georges Roux, Chapter 17, p. 266 
No, not really. The Founders were men of a Western European Christian tradition. However, their ideas of government and laws were much more expansive than that.

As relieved as I was that the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge ended without further bloodshed, and grateful for the help of all the negotiators who talked (and talked) the remaining armed occupiers into surrendering, I was still a bit concerned by some of the philosophies of the talkers. The occupiers will be tried for their actions that violated law, not for their beliefs. My concern is that certain beliefs need a bit of education so that they don't lead to further dangerous and illegal actions.

One of those who would not stop talking was Nevada State Legislator, Michelle Fiore, who said as the last occupiers were walking out to be arrested by the Oregon State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation (who share some concurrent jurisdiction over the Wildlife Refuge) that all Americans should read the Constitution like they should read their Bible to help return to the Christian Nation the Founders intended. No. Sorry, Michelle. I've read both the Bible and the U.S. Constitution and you couldn't be more wrong. (I do believe that all Americans should read the Constitution and I'm a big fan of the Bible along with a lot of other good books.)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Utah Can Save a Lot of Money Letting the Bundy Trials Test Ownership of Public Lands

Yes! Governor Gary Herbert and especially, legislator/lobbyist Ken Ivory take note! The State of Utah is seriously considering a lawsuit to challenge United States ownership of the federal public lands within the state of Utah based on some tricky readings of the U.S. Constitution, the Utah Enabling Act, and the Utah State Constitution - basically the same theories that the Bundy Bunch have used to claim the feds have no authority in Oregon and Nevada!

But wait! Please! A major part of the charges filed today against accused co-conspirator Cliven Bundy in armed confrontation with federal officials performing federal activities on federal public lands is that those lands were obtained by the United States under the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo with Mexico and never relinquished!

From the Criminal Complaint filed today against Cliven Bundy

Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Sovereign Citizen Cowboys

Cliven Bundy speaking at a forum hosted by the American Academy for Constitutional Education (AAFCE) at the Burke Basic School in Mesa, Arizona.
22 July 2014, from Wikipedia Commons, by Gage Skidmore who graciously allows use without any endorsement of this blog or use of the photo
In a brilliant move by the FBI, agents arrested Cliven Bundy at the Portland Airport last night. I mean, how stupid could ol' Cliven be? He is the patriarch of the Bundy Ranch Clan and the scofflaw who cowardly called out the unregulated militias to fend off BLM's attempt to legally impound his cattle that he has been trespassing on public lands for 20 years. He now faces charges for that interference with the duties of authorized government officials and I hope there are additional charges related to his active support for the armed occupation of the National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

US Supreme Court Says Federal Government Can Manage Public Lands

Wild Stallions on Public Land
(To be technically and biologically precise, they are "feral"
not  a native "wild" species. Congress can't get everything right.)
Yeah, so I'm back for another little Civics lesson. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 40 years ago that the U.S. Department of Interior can manage the public lands in any state under constitutional federal law.

I know, the far right-wing constitutional fundamentalists don't even believe that the Supreme Court can interpret the Constitution. But better them than a bunch of cowboys with guns who forgot a change of underwear  . . . and snacks. (I'm pretty sure the US Supreme Court always has clean underwear except for maybe one or two of them. And I think they have snacks in the robing room).

The case is Kleppe v. New Mexico (1976) ruling that the Wild Free-roaming Horse and Burro Act is constitutional. We usually call it "the Wild Horse Act." We don't deal with too many burros in Utah. And it's one of those lovely Acts of Congress that they give us to manage that is absolutely impossible to manage. We are authorized to kill horses, but do you think that's the PC thing to do? And I've even been sued in my own name once as part of an alleged conspiracy to obstruct the act. The US Attorney easily got the individual names switched out for the United States as we were within our official duties; then got the case dismissed. Slam dunk.

Less Militia, More Dieter!

Yes, I have been a little obsessed with the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the far right-wing views of the Militia with their "sovereign citizen" philosophies, and the tragic death of an old friend caught up in all that.

As I've tried to explain, my work includes legal support for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. I was also born in neighboring Malheur County Oregon. So Malheur Country has been with me all my life. I even have a boy who served a LDS Mission in Oregon with part of his time in Burns. Part of his missionary service was assisting with the roping and castrating of calves. How's that for missionary work!?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Why Cliven Bundy May Be Indicted in Criminal Conspiracy

Because while not actually present at the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Cliven Bundy's public support and encouragement may indict him.

The Associated Press reports that a judge in Oregon has refused to release the sealed indictment against the eleven Malheur armed occupiers in custody and "others." The "others" likely include the remaining four at the refuge in armed defiance of federal law. It may also include Ammon and Ryan Bundy's father, Cliven Bundy, as he has publicly supported the continued armed occupation and encouraged and supported the occupation all through January.

The link above with Cliven's "official notice" to the Harney County, Oregon Sheriff, the Governor of Oregon, and the President of the United States may be enough. Cliven graciously had his signature notarized (without any silly UCC reservations of rights) so that evidence is pretty solid.

And he has supported the armed occupation throughout. His ranch blog contained the following information for money (and snacks) in support of the armed occupiers on January 8, 2016:

I edited out the addresses so as not to assist the Bundys or encourage anyone to do so

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Signs that Your Friend May Be a "Sovereign Citizen"

As we discussed last night, there is a movement among far-right extremists, including the Malheur armed occupiers, to declare themselves independent sovereign citizens outside the jurisdiction of the federal government. [I feel like I should be charging for this lecture series, but I'm no priest-crafter].

Sometimes you might see an indication from a friend or associate like this e-mail sign-off I sometimes get:
At Arms Length, Without Prejudice (UCC 1-308/1-207) Without Recourse
by _____________, Authorized Agent;
All Rights, Remedies and Recourse Reserved
It doesn't make much sense to me either, but with a reference to the UCC and other "legalese" language, it looks like an effort to prevent any accidental contractual obligations or subjection to surprise federal authority.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cliven Bundy and the Contract Citizens of the United States

While his two sons languish in jail and the Finicum Family moves forward preparing for a tragic funeral, Cliven Bundy continues his vendetta against the People of the United States.

Having the form of legality by denying the authority thereof. And he can't spell "Malheur."
From Cliven Bundy's Blog dated Sunday, January 31, 2016, I copied the following:
With money and fear we will justify the assassination of LaVoy Finicum and make political prisoners of all that dare to lift their hand. (We can, we will kill.) This is our livelihood and we will protect our right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, so help me Devil!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Constitution-Choosing and the Red Ghost of Skousen

You may notice that the copy of the Constitution on the left is the one seen recently in the pockets of several of the armed occupiers of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. The one on the right is the edition published by the Government Printing Office [now, Government Publishing Office] and is available for free from any Senator or Congressman's Office. When I get them, it's usually a handful at a time as I'm going off to share and teach Scouts the non-Skousenite doctrines of the Supremacy Clause, the 2nd Property Clause in Article IV, and the Fourteenth Amendment (among more of the basics). (You can also go online at the National Archives.)

They both seem to be accurate copies of the Constitution as Amazon advertises the one on the left:
"proofed word for word against the original Constitution housed in the Archives in Washington, D.C."
What Amazon does not tell you, unless you read far down into the less favorable reviews, is that the one on the left includes commentary and selective quotes from the Founding Fathers in support of the extreme, right-wing agenda of the publisher, the National Center for Constitutional Studies, successor in interest to W. Cleon Skousen's Freemen's Institute. There are even ads in the back for more publications of the NCCS.