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What is the takeaway from the Feds vs. Bundy Ranch standoff in Nevada now that the Feds have high-tailed it? (Caution: the answer may be disconcerting to some readers.)
I won’t go into all the particulars here. The best and most balanced summary I’ve read was written by Logan Churchwell and Brandon Darby in Breitbart and I’d urge you to read it here.
There were no pure white hats on either side. Cliven Bundy comes off as a little cracked, given his rhetoric and his claims that the federal government never owned the BLM land in the first place. Of course, they do. They practically own all of Nevada.
His failure to pay grazing leases really muddies the water. Even though I think all federal land (with the possible exception of a few national parks) should be sold to the states or auctioned to the highest bidder, Cliven Bundy is not someone I want to stand behind, much less hang around with. His greatest talent may have been his willingness to give countless interviews to sympathetic journalists and bloggers who whipped the story into a froth and publicized the showdown. There’s that.
But, boy, did the Feds screw up, even if they had a leg to stand on when it comes to the legal issues (and they did). Unfortunately, they went well beyond their legitimate claims into some very shaky territory. They wanted the cattle off BLM lands to save the desert tortoise — even though studies have shown that the tortoises likely thrive on grazed land. It also doesn’t advance their cause when you find out the Feds planned to euthanize tortoises in their “refuge area” due to lack of funds.
Like Waco and Ruby Ridge, the Feds could say they had the law firmly behind them. And, just like Waco and Ruby Ridge, they overplayed their hand by dispatching armed agents, including snipers, attack dogs, and contract cowboys to steal Bundy’s cattle. They even created a cordoned off “Free Speech Zone” for protesters to bake in. As if free speech needs to be cordoned.
In the west, the BLM is usually thought of as the least tyrannical federal land management agency. Unlike the National Park Service or the U.S. Forest Service or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there aren’t a lot of stories of rogue BLM toughs oppressing taxpayers. I guess that’s changed now. Hovering over all our federal agencies is the EPA, which doesn’t need no stinking land (they control the air we breathe and the water we drink) in order to impose their will. They have armed agents of their own.
When the managers of federal lands turn into an army of occupation amidst the people who pay their salaries, bad things are going to happen.
The Feds didn’t expect to face the hundreds of armed citizens and militia-types who poured in to confront them. That never happened at Waco or Ruby Ridge. In Nevada, the Feds retreated when they realized they were outnumbered, outmaneuvered, and outgunned.
That’s the takeaway.
Post Script: Another observation. Unlike Waco and Ruby Ridge, nobody was killed in Nevada. The dispute will likely be settled in court. Isn’t that as it should be?
Photo via Reuters; Graphic via General Services AdministrationPublished in