To The Point

On the Subject of Bullying . . .

One of the tragedies of our time is teen suicide as a result of bullying. Perhaps it is no greater than in the past, but today’s 24-hour television and Internet media make its occurrence an instant national and international sensation. Social media provides a whole new venue to bully, make fun of, taunt and otherwise terrorize our peers.

I would venture to guess that most of us, especially those of us who choose not to or are unable to conform to the “social norm” of the day, have felt bullied. It is with some shame that we admit that maybe we have been on the dishing out end of bullying too.

Anything that makes someone feel like the alternative is better than life is just plain wrong. Those who have suffered a suicide in family or friend knows that it a haunting tragedy that doesn’t ever heal. Our hearts go out to them now and forever.

But are school programs against bullying and teen suicide enough to solve the problem? Not to make light of an extremely serious situation, I think that we should attack the bullying problem starting with late night comedians followed closely by news writers and commentators.

I am guilty of listening to a few minutes of David Letterman or sometimes Jay Leno before I drift off to sleep to try and dream up solutions for tomorrow’s problems. We are trying to teach our children to be kind to others in thought, speech and action, but it is perfectly acceptable for one of those guys to make fun of (aka bully) virtually any public figure in the world. They sometimes even take a turn at individuals in the audience.

Are they sent off to sensitivity training? Of course not, they are met with laughter and frivolity.

Is it not okay to make remarks about a school mates looks, size or whatever, but it is okay for David to make jokes about Chris Christy’s weight — and in needing to pay for an extra seat on Air Force 1, if Christy were to be elected President of the United States?

That’s just the example for this week —there literally hundreds of them on the air weekly.

Then there is the news media. How would you like to be Barbara Bush? Nearly three years after her son is out of office, you can come across numerous references to President Bush and his faults in every ill known to the country and abroad.

And movie titles… Dumb And Dumber or Coyote Ugly. I don’t care what the message of the movie might be, a child seeing the title must the get the message that it is cool (or bad… yes, today that means good) to make such comments about people they know.

On the other hand, how do we teach younger generations that everyone has flaws — not everyone is going to be a beauty queen, great at sports or whatever the measuring stick of the day happens to be. Not everyone can win. There are often more winners than losers, but there is value and lessons to be learned in making the effort, even if you are at the back of the line.

Spending Junior Week at the New Mexico State Fair always boosts my morale as I watch bright-faced, cleanly dressed youngsters proudly exhibiting their livestock. They know from the first day they take a project on that the chances of them being a grand champion are far less than them ending up in the middle or at the end of the pack. But the project is worth doing. At first they may just take their parents’ word for it, but you wouldn’t see those youngsters taking time out of their first semester in college to come back to the Fair, if they didn’t find value and reward in it.

We are fortunate that in agriculture we have the opportunity to compete, whether we win or lose. It is a shame that such a small portion of our nation’s children have the opportunities that ours in agriculture do.

If Not Bullying… What Is?

Today’s news also makes one wonder why those opposed to agriculture — and security for the masses — shouldn’t be considered as bullies as well. For years we have written about the attacks and injustices forced upon us by those who simply don’t understand Mother Nature or have a different point of view.

Last month the Hagens Berman law firm, a self-proclaimed consumer protection law firm, initiated a lawsuit against some of the largest names in the dairy industry on behalf of consumers, including companies responsible for 70 percent of American milk. The case alleges that the companies conspired, under a national trade organization, to fix the price of milk by prematurely slaughtering hundreds of thousands of cows.

The class-action suit, including Compassion Over Killing (COK) members, alleges that various dairy companies and trade groups, including the National Milk Producers Federation, Dairy Farmers of America, Land O’Lakes, Inc. and Agri-Mark, Inc. combined to form Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) in order to fix the price of milk in the United States.

The suit, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that between 2003 and 2010, more than 500,000 cows were slaughtered under CWT’s dairy herd retirement program in a concerted effort to reduce the supply of milk and inflate its price nationally. According to the complaint, the increased price allowed CWT members to earn more than $9 billion in additional revenue.

The real message about the action falls at the end of the press release that says “According to Compassion Over Killing, the most effective way consumers can safeguard animals and put an end to cruel factory farming practices is simply to choose meat, egg and dairy-free foods.”

COWS is described as “a national animal protection organization.” Wonder if they have ever met WHOA — the Wild Horse Observes Association. And the both need to meet PAJE, the Peoples’ Alliance for Jobs & The Environment.

One New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) member wonders if the “herd reduction of beef cattle due to the drought will be construed as artificially causing the price of beef to go up?”

With one Texas university opening an all vegan cafeteria (see page 12), just about anything is possible.

But There Is Good News.

In early September the efforts of drought devastated livestock groups in New Mexico paid off with a waiver for hay haulers bringing loads of tandem round bales. Thanks to the New Mexico Secretary of Public Transportation and Governor Susana Martinez for getting the wheels of government to take this turn for hungry cows!

Another blow for the good guys is that the bovine Tuberculosis (TB) zones in eastern New Mexico were lifted the first week in October. Although under US Department of Agriculture regulations, the rest of New Mexico was classified as TB Free, some states were still requiring TB testing before allowing the entry of New Mexico cattle.

Then there is that great federal judge in Sacramento. A Ron Arnold Column in the Washington Times in mid September was headed with: “Angry federal judge rips ‘false testimony’ of federal scientists”

In news almost stranger than fiction this judge decided to protect people AND endangered species instead of putting the interests of either over the other. The ruling was in what began as a water-supply war a decade ago, then grew into a convoluted endangered-fish war. It evolved into a gigantic good science versus bad science war pitting California residents against a tiny fish and government officials diverting two years’ worth of water for a large city or agricultural region and flushing it into the San Francisco Bay. The flushing might help save the allegedly endangered 2-inch-long fish, the delta smelt.

In a searing opinion, Judge Oliver Wanger ripped two Interior Department scientists for giving “false” and “incredible” testimony to support a “bad faith” delta smelt preservation plan. Wanger also threw out huge chunks of the federal government’s official “biological opinion” on five different species, calling the opinion, which is a guidance document for environmental regulators, “arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful.”

In a correct, if novel, interpretation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Wanger says “the public policy underlying NEPA favors protecting the balance between humans and the environment,” by, according to the first purpose listed in the statute, establishing “a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment.”

In an earlier decision, for example, he excoriated the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) for its to-hell-with-people policy: “Federal defendants completely abdicated their responsibility to consider reasonable alternatives that would not only protect the species, but would also minimize the adverse impact on humans and the human environment.”

In a court transcript the decision obtained by The Washington Examiner, Wanger wrote of Jennifer M. Norris with the FWS : “I find her testimony to be that of a zealot. The suggestion by Dr. Norris that the failure to implement [her plan], that that’s going to end the delta smelt’s existence on the face of our planet is false, it is outrageous, it is contradicted by her own testimony.”

Isn’t that a firing offense, even for a career civil servant, asked Arnold? Julie McDonald, former deputy assistant secretary of interior for fish and wildlife and parks replyed: “No, they don’t get fired, they get promoted,” citing the power of the federal “science cartel” to protect its rule over America’s environmental regulations from people like Judge Wanger.

Judge Wanger, who has announced his retirement, has cut a larger-than-life figure ever since he was nominated for the federal bench in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush. He’s been called colorful, but Arnold thinks red white and blue are the colors that fit him best.

Convention Just Around The Corner

The 2011 Joint Stockmen’s Convention is not far off, slated for December 1 through 4 at the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North. The $79 rate reservation block is now open. Call 800.262.2043 to book your rooms early!