Finally, I’ve got some time to write a blog post, hooray! Real life (worked over 56 hours from last Sunday through Thursday) demands kept me away. Since my time was otherwise occupied, my grasp of the intricacies in the little guy Nevada rancher vs the Big Government situation aren’t as well researched as some of yours, so maybe you can enlighten me. So, we’ve got this old rancher, Cliven Bundy, who apparently wants his cattle to graze on federal land that Mr. Bundy says belongs to the state of Nevada and therefore he has been battling the federal government since 1993 and losing. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) says he owes over a million dollars in grazing fees. Politico has a good quick breakdown on the various interests and points of view on the situation. No BLM clash with a private citizen would be complete without some endangered critter, the environmentalists shriek needs “protection”, so in this case it’s some desert tortoise, plus some sheep and even a Lane Mountain milkvetch, whose fragile eco-system needs protection from grazing and other dastardly human activities. Courtesy of the Sierra Club (story here) :
“Seven years of impacts, absent monitoring and changes in management, could doom critically endangered species,” said Terry Frewin of the Sierra Club, one of the groups planning to sue. “The BLM’s abdication of legal requirements and Fish and Wildlife Service’s neglect of enforcement is setting up a crisis for these species already teetering on the brink of extinction.”
Groups planning to join the Sierra Club in suing the BLM are the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, and Desert Survivors.
A Lane Mountain milkvetch……. yes, don’t laugh, but here’s the first paragraph from the Center for Biological Diversity on their battle to protect this plant:
“The Lane Mountain milk vetch is no stranger to adversity, with its remarkable ability to survive for years underground and subsist on what little moisture its taproot can soak up. When this small, desert-dwelling plant does have an aboveground presence, it can be found growing intertwined among the branches of other shrubs for support. The Lane Mountain milk vetch is likewise entangled with the U.S. Army, which is determined to trample this miniature flowering herb and its habitat.”
Yep, they tell you how remarkably resilient this plant is and then ramble on about its need for federal protection of its fragile eco-system… Moving along, assorted individuals (many of them fellow ranchers, some probably militia kooks too) and groups, who are sick of big government overreach, jumped into the fray to support Mr. Bundy’s stand-off against the feds. The feds sent some armed folks (not sure who all was involved there) to enforce a court order to remove Bundy’s cattle from federal land. We heard the feds shot some of the cattle, we heard the endangered tortoises got trampled, we heard Bundy supporters had snipers set up, we heard the feds had snipers set up. We even heard Harry Reid’s son has personal business interests in this disputed federal land mess too – he represents a Chinese firm that was planning to build solar panels. Brietbart debunks this claim and provides a good background to the situation:
“Despite the obvious partisan gain to be had if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s son Rory (a failed 2010 Nevada gubernatorial candidate) had somehow been involved in a “land grab” affecting the Bundy family ranch operation—the facts just do not pan out as such. Indeed, Rory Reid did in fact have a hand in plans to reclassify federal lands for renewable energy developments. Just northeast of Las Vegas and Nellis Air Force Base, plans were drawn by Reid allies to potentially develop 5,717 acres of land for such use. While it would be fair to claim that such activity was in Bundy’s relative neighborhood, the federal lands once leased by the family were more than 20 miles away, east of Overton, Nevada. Contrasting maps offered by InfoWars and those entered into federal court record prove such a theory to be a stretch.”
So, the feds backed down for the moment from enforcing their court order and the Bundy supporters claimed victory. However, this war isn’t over and Harry Reid set off a new firestorm yesterday, denouncing Bundy and his supporters as “domestic terrorists”. I watched Sen. Reid ramble on about these “domestic terrorists” whom, he claimed had assault weapons, sniper rifles and even automatic weapons…….. hummm. I saw pictures of ranchers, women, kids milling about in the TV reporting. I saw one photo of one man lying down on a bridge with a rifle – not sure who he even was or what he was aiming at. Talk about exaggeration then juxtaposed were the Democrats who remained strangely mum when the Obama administration labeled the first Fort Hood shooting, just a case of “workplace violence” – no domestic terrorism there.
The real stand-off in this fight over public lands won’t be between small-time cattle rancher and the BLM, no, there’s a bigger war brewing and it going to shape up as a fierce constitutional one over federalism – western states vs. the feds over control of public lands. Here’s an explanation of the states’ side and stakes, “The New Battle Lands: States Seeking Control of Public Lands in the West”.
This latest clash, of a small time rancher pitted against the almighty federal government strikes a sympathetic chord with those of us disgusted with federal overreach, even though, the rancher’s legal case has no merits. He’s making specious claims and his comments that he will obey Nevada state laws and not federal laws hold no water, as far as I can see. We abide by The Constitution of the United States of America. However, the underlying discontent among the political Right with big government simmers and our country grows ever more polarized. On the political Left, the other half of the country demands more government programs, more laws and regulations to control those who disagree with them. Certainly, the political divide in America grows wider and deeper with the Hope and Change, healer of the political divide in America throwing gasoline (okay maybe ethanol) on the raging fire of discontent. Where is the Presidential leadership to calm this crisis? He’s great at issuing red-line tough talk at the Russians, but he ducked this domestic stand-off. Certainly, the issue remains far from over, because the feds can’t just walk away from a court order, yet the President and his Justice Department selectively obey the laws too, so what to make of exactly what “the rule of law” means in this new America. President Obama believes he doesn’t need to rely on legislation from Congress, no, he has a pen and a phone:
“And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward in helping to make sure our kids are getting the best possible, making sure that our businesses are getting the kind of support and help they need to grow and advance, to make sure that people are getting the skills that they need to get those jobs that our businesses are creating.”
Stay calm, don’t panic, the President is overstepping his constitutional powers for you and our kids, yes, everything he does has pure, altruistic motives… No worries….
Perhaps, George Will sees what’s just beyond the horizon, much broader and deeper than this public lands debate, when during a recent interview with the Blaze on his new book he stated:
“I’m quite confident that we’re going to rebel against this abusive government. I think that, you know Winston Churchill said, “The American people invariably do the right thing after they have exhausted all the alternatives.”
Let’s hope that when the storm breaks, America survives the maelstrom and we don’t all drown in the process. Keep your life vest handy, you’ll likely need it… And if you live in cow country, there’s a reason for the phrase “hotbed of politics”, courtesy of the Online Etymology Dictionary:
Yep, a big pile of crap…