Weekly Posting of the Conservative Cow Doctor



Fifteen years ago, I assembled a horse and mule cavy to use in my cattle drive business. My specs were not overly rigid and I bought, rode, packed and drove about anything with a whinny, four feet and a pulse. Good horses made the string; the bad ones did not. In those days, there was a slaughter market for horse meat, so even the crankiest critter had intrinsic value. An occasional horse was nice and usable, but not for us, so we found them a home elsewhere. Such the case was with Clifford.

A bruised young lady limped into my clinic one afternoon with a gut wrenching story. She hauled her horse up from Florida and moved in with her new Montana boyfriend who turned out to be a graduate of the Mike Tyson Charm School. She had had enough and needed to sell her horse so she could afford a one-way ticket back to the sunshine state. Contrary to those who label all conservatives as cruel and heartless, I bought her story and her horse and she walked out the door with $800. Here is where it got interesting. Her horse was a 19 hand, 2200 pound Belgian gelding we named Clifford after a character in a children’s book. Other than an elephant I saw in vet school, he was the biggest animal I had ever touched. When people first spotted Clifford they always mouthed, “Wow,” and he was breathtaking, but we were not sure how to use him in our string.

Trying everything, one evening I saddled up Clifford and trotted him into the arena for a little cowboy polo—something similar to barrel racing in a school bus. Polo wasn’t his game. Next we hitched him to a small two seat surrey and discovered he was easy to drive, which was good because this was like dropping a 1000 horsepower Pratt and Whitney engine into a Volkswagen bug. Lastly, on our first cattle drive of the season, we rigged a pack saddle to fit him and stuck him in the pack string with the mules. He wasn’t a Clydesdale and it wasn’t Budweiser, but appropriately, he carried six, five-gallon, Coors Light Party Balls for our guests. We sent Clifford with the kitchen string and cooks up the Little Horn Canyon several hours ahead of the cattle. What could possibly go wrong?

Six miles up the canyon, is a very steep series of switchbacks. Clifford was halfway up the mountainside when the outside edge of the trail gave way from the weight of his left hind foot. With cat-like reflexes, most Quarter Horses would athletically scramble back to solid footing. Clifford was a Belgian. He tumbled end over end down to the river where he lodged upside down on his back between a log and a boulder. He wasn’t hurt, just resting, but one Party Ball did explode spraying beer to the tree tops. When Clifford caught his breath, the cooks rolled him over by tugging on pack ropes they tied to his legs. He stood up; they repacked him and headed to camp. We packed Clifford six times a year for three years and he never made one trip without tumbling over at least once. He was so big and out of his element it just wasn’t possible for him to do the task at hand, so we found him a new home with a former guest from the plains of eastern Wyoming. This brings me to my point. Just like Clifford, the federal government has grown to a massive size and it is floundering while trying to do things it was not designed to do. Even worse, the federal government is attempting to do things it was expressly prohibited from doing. Let me explain.

The framers of our Constitution enumerated the specific powers of the federal government concluding with the Tenth Amendment stating powers not granted to the federal government, nor prohibited to the states by the Constitution are reserved to the states or the people. In case they forgot something, our founders wrote this catch-all amendment to purposely limit the size of the federal government relative to the states. Obamacare, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clear Air Act, and the executive ruling on the Keystone XL pipeline, are regulations derived from powers not found in our Constitution. Do you see the pattern? So, here is what we do. The federal government will never voluntarily surrender its newly created powers, so it is the obligation of the states, namely the state legislatures, to force them. Returning to a constitutional republic with a proper vertical balance of powers won’t be easy, only worth it. To do anything less, will collapse our great American experiment in freedom.

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