Thursday, August 31, 2017
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
THE WAY I SEE IT by Don Polson Red Bluff Daily News 8/29/2017
Burning steaks; the Snake River
After viewing the solar eclipse, we almost eclipsed not only some rib eye steaks, but also a large propane grill and the deck we sat on. We then ventured on to a total eclipse of another sort. About those rib eyes and the "great steak flame out," just know that using someone else's grill, and knowing nothing of its performance and history, can lead to unexpected results. Propane level? Check. Igniters starting flames from all ports? Check. Splash guards over flames? Check. Preheat cycle? Check. What could go wrong? A "burning man," for one.
Almost as amazing as seeing the entire interior of the grill aflame, almost as amazing as seeing the temperature dial go from 500 degrees to 1000 degrees and yet not burning the plastic cover draped over the wood railing behind the grill, let alone the very dry, old wood itself--almost as amazing as all that was the fact that I was able to grab the steaks with some tongs before they turned to cinders. You see, years of usage had coated the inside of the grill with a layer of soot, so once the lower parts caught fire the rest of the soot ignited much like a chimney fire.
Having turned off the propane and avoided catastrophe, my attention returned to the steaks. Believe it or not, except for some edges that were black and crunchy, they were medium rare and, honestly, just about the juiciest steaks I've ever eaten. Go figure: big steaks, big heat, big flame, seared meat with all of the juices intact. The Bar-B-Q University guy might even approve.
Payette, Idaho, is less than an hour northwest of Boise (radio station call letters, KIDO, sound like "K-Highdeeho") and is about an hour away from Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, the most dramatic part of the Snake River's path to the Columbia River. What we saw there was stark, awesome, and geologically magnificent. What flowed through the canyon was backed up behind dams providing visitors with fishing and boating, as well as power for much of the region. Much of that water began its journey from places we had spent time admiring: Big Springs and the Henrys Fork of the Snake River, the Island Park Lake, the creeks of Harriman State Park, and Belchor and Falls Rivers in the Cave Falls area of southwest Yellowstone Park.
The Snake's headwaters issue forth from a rather hard-to-find source at the southern boundary of Yellowstone; it is a creek-size flow where no roads or trails go and the maps all but hide the location. By the time it flows through Jackson Hole and the Grand Teton National Park, it has collected the waters of numerous creeks, streams and rivers. It then crosses the Wyoming/Idaho line, fills a massive reservoir, Palisades, and, together with the above-mentioned waters, proceeds to the wondrous Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho. You really can't visit the Idaho/Wyoming/Teton/Yellowstone area without being constantly reminded of the Snake River.
The heat in the Hells Canyon area, below 2,000-feet elevation, was initially uncomfortable but the inexpensive power hookups at an Idaho Power-built campground made it possible to use one of our two air conditioners as much as needed. The steep, brown treeless mountain sides above the water were not appealing beyond their sheer size; the smoke from near and distant fires turned the views from the Hells Canyon Overlook into washed-out vistas. Curiously, two men with binoculars could still spot some elk across the canyon; their bow hunting season started the next day (motto: If you're good enough to sneak up that close to an elk, you better have the energy to haul the pieces out on your back).
An 8-hour day trip to Joseph, Oregon (named after Chief Joseph of a local tribe) allowed for admiring the "Swiss Alps" of Oregon, with steep, forested mountainsides reaching almost 10,000-foot heights, while you view them from less than 4,000-foot levels in town. Situated in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and surrounding Wallowa Lake, the verdant Wallowa Mountains and the Eagle Cap Wilderness would doubtless provide hikers and pack animal riders with marvelous experiences. The tram ride to the 8,256-foot top of Mt. Howell would be well worth the $30 if you had clear views without smoky air.
However, we were able to scout the town and lake for future visits and camping; sadly, it has a "resort" atmosphere and ambiance. Translation: lots of people and families crammed into a finite space, with gift shops, miniature golf, motorcycle rallies, festivals and camping "cheek to jowl" style and no bushes between you and your neighbor. We found ourselves repeating the line from a Star Wars movie: "It's a trap," as in tourist trap; we had good ice cream and hamburgers.
There was a similarity to the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota. The lush forests of the Black Hills created, over time, the arid, mostly barren features of the Badlands due to the meteorological fact that rain-bearing weather systems move from west to east. Just as the Cascade and Sierra mountains leave reduced moisture for the valleys to the east, and the Black Hills have deprived the Badlands of rain, the Wallowa Mountains create dry, treeless parts of Hells Canyon.
The "total eclipse of another sort" mentioned above has to do with our moving from cell phone and Internet-rich Payette to a literal empty digital wasteland. We've had no connection to the outside world beyond an AM radio station for a week, as of Tuesday. If this is published on the 29th, it means I drove a good 20 miles to find wi-fi at a store, river rafting or wilderness outfitter shop yesterday, to send an email attachment to the editor. It means no news stories, analysis or opinion from the Internet, no newspapers or TV. We will appreciate getting back the connections and signals; however, there is an almost forgotten sense of joyous isolation to be had when your entertainment is nature and a good book. Try it sometime; you might like it.
Monday, August 28, 2017
Sorry about the posts ending. As I explain in my Tuesday column, it's been a week without internet. Posts were previously scheduled through Sunday. Free wi-fi at a local bar allowed for sending my column to the paper and posting it on Monday to show up on Tuesday. Gotta go--regular posting of analysis and insightful pieces will resume soon.
Sunday, August 27, 2017
The logical trajectory of tearing down the statue of a Confederate soldier will soon lead to the renaming of Yale, the erasing of Washington and Jefferson from our currency, and the de-Trotskyization of every mention of Planned Parenthood’s iconic Margaret Singer, the eugenicist whose racist views on abortion anticipated those of current liberal Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Ginsburg said, “Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”)
Saturday, August 26, 2017
A bipartisan effort resulted in a wall that has cut the number of illegal immigrant apprehensions to a 10th of what it was in 2006.
President Donald Trump’s promise to build a wall along our Southern border will save countless innocent lives. Our Border Patrol agents have seen firsthand the success of a border wall in Yuma, Ariz. — which serves as a prime example of how investments in personnel, technology and a border wall can turn the tide against a flood of illegal immigration and secure our homeland.
For years, Yuma sector was besieged by chaos as a nearly unending flood of migrants and drugs poured across our border. Even as agents were arresting on average 800 illegal aliens a day, we were still unable to stop the thousands of trucks filled with drugs and humans that quickly crossed a vanishing point and dispersed into communities all across the country.
It is hard for anyone familiar with Yuma sector today to imagine this scene. That’s because nearly a decade ago, a group of bipartisan lawmakers came together to protect the homeland, save innocent lives, and build a physical barrier across the border.
The bipartisan Secure Fence Act of 2006 — supported by then-Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden and others — mandated the construction of hundreds of additional miles of secure fencing and infrastructure investments. Yuma sector was one of the first areas to receive infrastructure investments.
We built new infrastructure along the border east and west of the San Luis Arizona Port of Entry in 2006. The existing fence was quickly lengthened, and we added second and third layers to that fencing in urban areas. Lighting, roads and increased surveillance were added to aid agents patrolling the border.
Although there is still work to do, the border in Yuma sector today is more secure because of this investment. Even under lax enforcement standards, apprehensions in fiscal year 2016 were roughly a 10th of what they were in FY 2005 — and are on track to be even lower this year. Crime has significantly decreased in the Yuma area, and smugglers now look for other less difficult areas of the border to cross — often areas without fencing.
Undoubtedly, Yuma today is safer because of our investments. But a secure border involves more than just investments in infrastructure. It requires a comprehensive enforcement effort in the interior to secure our homeland and advance the national interest.
For years, open borders policies contributed to massive numbers of aliens attempting to enter the USA. For too long, the United States failed to enforce existing immigration laws. The Department of Homeland Security and other entities were directed to “pick and choose” which laws we enforced — and Border Patrol agents were encouraged to effectively look the other way when they did not have sufficient resources to secure the border.
Aware of these lax enforcement policies, tens of thousands of aliens attempted to the cross the border illegally every month. Last October alone, more than 66,000 people were apprehended after entering illegally — and that 66,000 is just the number of individuals we actually found; it does not include those who evaded detection.
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The culture of pardons, permisos and lax enforcement also encouraged dangerous behavior by individuals looking to come to the United States. It meant that parents were willing to risk subjecting their children to sexual abuse and neglect at the hands of smugglers (also known as coyotes). It meant that — in a single year — hundreds of thousands risked their lives. In FY 2016, Customs and Border Protection saved nearly 4,000 near-death individuals who found themselves lost in the desert. This is in addition to the tremendous number of immigrants who are robbed, raped and brutalized along the human smugglers’ dark networks.
Under Trump, the days of permisos are over. We are a nation that secures its borders and enforces its immigration laws. We are a nation of laws — laws that exist for the safety and security of all our people.
Since the first week of Trump’s administration, we have been actively securing our borders and enforcing our immigration laws. Apprehensions of illegal border crossers have plummeted since the president’s election, in part for the obvious reason that the routine and certain enforcement of the law leads to enhanced compliance with our laws. Picking and choosing which laws to enforce and ignore is no longer an option.
To our friends in Central America and Mexico — and throughout the world — do not subject yourselves or your families to the horrors of human smuggling. Smugglers do not care about you. They do not care about your dreams. They do not care about your family. They do not care about your safety. Do not believe the smuggler’s lies. We are enforcing the law. If you come here illegally, you will be sent back home.
It is undeniable that simply enforcing the law, combined with sufficient investment in personnel, infrastructure and technology, can allow us to be successful in our efforts to protect the homeland. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle should come together like they did 10 years ago and give the men and women of DHS the resources we need to defend our homeland. This starts with fully funding the construction of a wall along our Southern border.
The lessons of Yuma sector are clear and obvious, and we should apply them to the rest of our border.
Elaine Duke is the acting secretary of Homeland Security.