The Lesson of Nevada — C.J. Box

 

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.

StatesThere 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 Administration

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  1. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    I love Morning Bro:

    • #31
  2. Mr. Dart Inactive
    Mr. Dart
    @MrDart

    Is Bundy kooky? Probably. But he saw this coming 20 years ago when he stopped paying his fees, so he has better foresight than the rest of us.

     According to the Breitbart article CJ links to this all started when the Endangered Species Act was used to restrict his herd size to 150 head in 1993.  Pretty much exactly as you are describing with your examples. 
    Well, I guess I’d look pretty kooky to outsiders if I’d been fighting the alphabet soup boys out of DC every day for 20+ years too.
    They’re not done with Mr. Bundy.  They won’t quit until they’ve busted him and his family. Everything is on the side of Big Government.  They’ll win this. Eventually.

    • #32
  3. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Misthiocracy:

    I love Morning Bro:

    If the problem with these tortoises is that they’re slow to mate, clearly the answer is government-sponsored reptile porn. I have some experience (quite inadvertent) in this area. Perhaps I would qualify for a government grant?

    • #33
  4. dicentra Inactive
    dicentra
    @dicentra

    Tuck: He’s not a crackpot. He’s a guy who’s attempting to preserve his family’s life against an overweening, relentless bureaucracy.

    He sounds like a crackpot but is mostly just inarticulate. His interviews remind me of many a software engineer who is so wrapped up in the details of what he’s doing that he can’t step back and narrate from beginning to end to a n00b. I’m a tech writer; my entire livelihood consists of translating engineering into English.

    Yeah, Bundy has no legal leg to stand on, but is there no place for civil disobedience in the conservative paradigm?

    Hinderaker observes: “They don’t have a chance on the law, because under the Endangered Species Act and many other federal statutes, the agencies are always in the right. …. They don’t develop apps. They don’t ask for food stamps. It probably has never occurred to them to bribe a politician. They don’t subsist by virtue of government subsidies or regulations that hamstring competitors. They aren’t illegal immigrants. They have never even gone to law school. So what possible place is there for the Bundys in the Age of Obama?”

    • #34
  5. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    I tend to agree with Jay Nordlinger and Charles Cooke; respect for rule of law requires admitting Bundy s wrong. If we’re going to criticize Barack Obama for “picking and choosing” which laws he’s going to enforce, we can’t simultaneously celebrate a man for picking and choosing which laws he’s going to obey. That doesn’t mean the government is right; they most certainly did overreact, but lawlessness is lawlessness.

    That said, my big take was why the heck does the Bureau of Land Management have an armed division? If I were in Congress I’d propose a law limiting the use of arms by federal agents to the FBI, the border patrol, Homeland Security, and maybe the DEA. If nothing else having to appeal to the FBI for help means the BLM/EPA/etc. will be forced to convince a third party that this sort of raid is justifiable.

    • #35
  6. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Umbra Fractus: …but lawlessness is lawlessness.

    On The Duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

    • #36
  7. user_435274 Thatcher
    user_435274
    @JohnHanson

    Owning property outright is a good thing, however, in too many places today the taxes on the property are approaching confiscatory levels.  It does one little good to have a property tax bill, several times the mortgage cost, if any.  Excessive government with resulting weakening to the idea of property rights is a problem wee all face daily.   If small government doesn’t succeed, it can only grow worse.

    • #37
  8. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    Michael Sanregret: It would be nice if Mr. Bundy undestood better what he is doing. It’s pretty clear that he is breaking the law, like Martin Luther King did, but King understood what he was doing.

    That’s a very good way of putting it.  

    • #38
  9. dicentra Inactive
    dicentra
    @dicentra

    Misthiocracy: …but lawlessness is lawlessness.

    Umbra Fractus: On The Duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

    Precisely. We shouldn’t let a rigid observation of the Rule of Law trip us up. It was once illegal to stash Jews in your attic, illegal to free your slaves, legally obligatory to return a fugitive slave to his masters, illegal to offer desegregated lunch counters, etc.

    Barack Obama flouts the separation of powers in an act of tyranny; Bundy is hamstrung by a mesh of irrational legal contingencies — his declaration that the feds don’t own that land is likely a distillation of years of struggling with the situation and of watching the walls inexorably close in on him. The circumstances are NOT parallel.

    We can acknowledge that Bundy is not hewing to the law AND use his plight as a way to pry apart some of the absurdities of his situation. God knows it needs doing.

    • #39
  10. user_928618 Inactive
    user_928618
    @JimLion

    Our guys don’t have to be heroes. They don’t even necessarily have to be “in the right” vis-a-vis various court judgments and Federal precedents. What matters, the only thing, is that they stand up to the Federal government.

    • #40
  11. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    Amy Schley:

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    OkieSailor:

    I think the … ranchers supported Federal ownership … to keep the farmers and their fences away.

    If that’s the history, perhaps the real lesson here is “be careful what you ask for, because someday you might get it good and hard”.

    A quarrel had arisen between the Horse and the Stag, so the Horse came to a Hunter to ask his help to take revenge on the Stag. The Hunter agreed, but said: “If you desire to conquer the Stag, you must permit me to place this piece of iron between your jaws, so that I may guide you with these reins, and allow this saddle to be placed upon your back so that I may keep steady upon you as we follow after the enemy.” The Horse agreed to the conditions, and the Hunter soon saddled and bridled him. Then with the aid of the Hunter the Horse soon overcame the Stag, and said to the Hunter: “Now, get off, and remove those things from my mouth and back.”

    “Not so fast, friend,” said the Hunter. “I have now got you under bit and spur, and prefer to keep you as you are at present.”

     
    Ah yes. How quick we are to sell our birthright for a mess of pottage.

    Then demand that others buy it back for us.

    • #41
  12. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    I’m learning a little more each day about this issue. Apparently, he paid his fees to the state or county until 20 years ago when BLM changed the rules. He has been fighting them legally ever since.  From what I understand, you don’t pay anyone if you are in legal fight with them.

    Lawyers: Is this correct?

    Also, all other ranchers have been driven out. He is the last one in Clark County. Harry Reid and Son, have a deal with a Chinese Renewable Energy firm, who wants that land for their operations. The desert tortoise is just another excuse like the snail darter or river smelt. 

    Can anyone confirm this?

    • #42
  13. C.J. Box Inactive
    C.J. Box
    @CJBox

    Some great comments here.  Sorry about my lack of response. I was selected for jury duty today!

    • #43
  14. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    I am affraid that after Kelo and Sebelius I no longer trust the courts to protected the weak from the politically powerful, so even while I’ll grant Bundy is probably technically on the wrong side of the law on this one.  I think it is naive to believe that our legal system will prevent government overreach at this point.  Creating a media circus and making things uncomfortable for the Feds to enforce is probably a better strategy now.

    • #44
  15. Isaiah's Job Inactive
    Isaiah's Job
    @IsaiahsJob

    Pilli: It is very disturbing that our government agencies feel the need to weaponize against regular citizens.

    I have never been prouder of my state.

    I doubt this will make anyone feel better but, at least in the case of us Nevadans, regular citizens have been weaponizing ourselves against government agencies. This is just the beginning. And those of us who live in the rural parts of the state nave *never* regarded the BLM as benign. They don’t consult with us; the pretense that they do is a sick joke. (Unless you have the time and desire to drive hundreds of miles to attend meetings that are utterly meaningless, that is.)

    When this whole thing started going down a call went out among my friends on Facebook to grab a rifle and/or a video camera and head to the Bundy Ranch. Several of my friends went. I weighed the odds and decided not to. (If I get shot who will take care of my handicapped daughter?) However, I probably won’t be able to resist heading straight toward the next confrontation. Why not? We won this one, and our federal oppressors lost. And there are thousands like me.

    • #45
  16. dicentra Inactive
    dicentra
    @dicentra

    JimGoneWild: Harry Reid and Son, have a deal with a Chinese Renewable Energy firm, who wants that land for their operations. The desert tortoise is just another excuse like the snail darter or river smelt.

    That solar deal fell through about a year ago. It was going to be on land far from the Bundy ranch but inside the protected area for the tortoise, so they were going to designate some of the land that Bundy’s been grazing as tortoise reserve, as a type of offset.

    As Hinderaker observes: “it is obvious that some activities are favored by the Obama administration’s BLM, and others are disfavored. The favored developments include solar and wind projects. …. Ranchers, on the other hand, ask nothing from the federal government other than the continuation of their historic rights. …

    “If you need federal authority to conduct business in Nevada–which is overwhelmingly probable–do you need to pay a bribe to Harry Reid or a member of his family to get that permission? …  Does the difference lie in the fact that Cliven Bundy has never contributed to an Obama or Reid campaign, or paid a bribe to Reid or a member of his family?”

    • #46
  17. Isaiah's Job Inactive
    Isaiah's Job
    @IsaiahsJob

    Johnny Dubya: But Cliven Bundy is not someone who should be championed by conservatives. He is a crackpot.

    I don’t think most of us rural Nevadans care very much. This isn’t really about his particular case. It’s not even about ideology or political parties. This kind of thing has been coming for a long time. We’ve been on the receiving end of federal agencies like the BLM for decades now, our communities and way of life have been devastated by them, and we’re increasingly politically disempowered.

    This is about about urban class hatred, and the fact that people like us (as personified by Mr. Bundy’s way of life, not necessarily his beliefs) are increasingly “in the way” of urbanites doing what they like in, on, and around our homes and land.

    Ask yourselves: whom does the BLM answer to? Not the 3% of the American population that lives in and around their holdings. They’re answerable to the executive branch, and are a extension of the desires of the nation’s 15 largest population centers. In many ways their job is to use public lands to enrich politicians and make liberals feel better.

    • #47
  18. Isaiah's Job Inactive
    Isaiah's Job
    @IsaiahsJob

    Raxxalan: I am affraid that after Kelo and Sebelius I no longer trust the courts to protected the weak from the politically powerful, so even while I’ll grant Bundy is probably technically on the wrong side of the law on this one. I think it is naive to believe that our legal system will prevent government overreach at this point. Creating a media circus and making things uncomfortable for the Feds to enforce is probably a better strategy now.

     “The law must not only be fair, but it must also have the appearance of fairness. Of the two the later is the more important. For if the law is fair but doesn’t appear to be so, any good it may do is undermined.” – Albert Jay Nock, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man

    • #48
  19. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    A42NT1:

    My takeaway is that, next time, the Feds will show up with twice the firepower. Or perhaps avoiding the whole confrontation by launching a few drone-based hellfire missiles to take care of any trespassing cows.

     Or maybe, as Judge Napolatano said on Fox, they’ll settle the matter like a regular litigant instead of trying to act like God Almighty. Why couldn’t they just put a lien on Bundy’s property and bank accounts instead of forcing an armed conflict?

    • #49
  20. Devereaux Inactive
    Devereaux
    @Devereaux

    I believe the lesson is that there is a great pent-up pressure in the nation about all the bad things that are happening to us, mostly through the auspices of the government.

    I heard many around me cheering on Bundy – NOT because they thought Bundy was right but because they thought the government was WRONG. That is an important distinction – and it can lead to guns almost anywhere in the country except places like NJ, MA, CA (some might argue that the LA Basin has already gone to guns, but in a different way).

    • #50
  21. Isaiah's Job Inactive
    Isaiah's Job
    @IsaiahsJob

    Nick Stuart: Why couldn’t they just put a lien on Bundy’s property and bank accounts instead of forcing an armed conflict?

    Because they were hoping to make a point to people like Bundy: the West is ours, not yours. Do as you’re told. Only it became a “teachable moment.”

    • #51
  22. C.J. Box Inactive
    C.J. Box
    @CJBox

    Has anyone ever seen Noah Cross and Harry Reid in the same room together?

    • #52
  23. C.J. Box Inactive
    C.J. Box
    @CJBox

    Mr. Dart:

    CJ, what if Joe Pickett (with a little help from Nate) poked around a bit and found out that none of this had anything to do with tortoises? What if it’s more like the plot of Chinatown and may even involve LA Department of Water & Power? Noah Cross is gone but the desire to bully little people for a project that pays off the right people is still there.

    As you well know the BLM didn’t back down because of citizens with guns. They retreated strategically. Mr. Bundy won the day but he’ll lose the longer war. They’ve been stockpiling rounds by the millions. And, by the way, what kind of American puts up a tripod and sniper rifle to shoot a fellow citizen over the notion that cows and tortoises can’t share scrub land the size of some US states? (Well, they did find one who would shoot an unarmed woman and her baby when Bush 41 was prez so…)

    Meanwhile, those “contract cowboys” apparently didn’t even know enough to pair off the calves and mamas.

     Has anyone ever seen Noah Cross and Harry Reid in the same room?  Asking for a friend…

    • #53
  24. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    dicentra:

    JimGoneWild: Harry Reid and Son, have a deal with a Chinese Renewable Energy firm, who wants that land for their operations. The desert tortoise is just another excuse like the snail darter or river smelt.

    That solar deal fell through about a year ago. It was going to be on land far from the Bundy ranch but inside the protected area for the tortoise, so they were going to designate some of the land that Bundy’s been grazing as tortoise reserve, as a type of offset.

    “If you need federal authority to conduct business in Nevada–which is overwhelmingly probable–do you need to pay a bribe to Harry Reid or a member of his family to get that permission? … Does the difference lie in the fact that Cliven Bundy has never contributed to an Obama or Reid campaign, or paid a bribe to Reid or a member of his family?”

     Maybe he should.  That seems to be the way to do business nowadays.  

    • #54
  25. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    I think the takeaway from the Bundy affair has yet to happen.  The Feds, will not, can not allow this to stand.  It is one thing when protected minorities misbehave.  Especially when they do so in such away to allow the political class to commit more graft.  But for citizens of the majority to stand against their government against the political class’s graft.  This is something the political class can not allow.  Look for Bundy and friends to be taken out one by one and in small groups where and when the power of numbers is no longer in Bundy’s favor.  Before this is over people will go to jail, some may even die.

    • #55
  26. C.J. Box Inactive
    C.J. Box
    @CJBox

    Pilli:

    I just finished Breaking Point a couple of weeks ago. Now, we see the BLM getting into the act along with the EPA, Forestry Service, et. al. and I have to wonder if your scenario of drones and missiles might come true.

    It is very disturbing that our government agencies feel the need to weaponize against regular citizens. Waco and Ruby Ridge were both mentioned. Don’t forget Elián González.

     Noted.

    • #56
  27. C.J. Box Inactive
    C.J. Box
    @CJBox

    Thus, my point.  Thank you, Isaiah’s Job.

    • #57
  28. Mr. Dart Inactive
    Mr. Dart
    @MrDart

    C.J. Box:

    Has anyone ever seen Noah Cross and Harry Reid in the same room? Asking for a friend…

    I’d ask Hollis Mulwray but, well, you know…

    • #58
  29. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    It’s become increasingly clear that the muscle used to enforce totalitarianism in America will not come from the military, but rather through federal agencies like the BLM, the Park Service, the IRS, and the Dept. of Education (???!!!). The ethic of our military men and women is to protect and defend us, the citizens, from foreign threats. Ingrained in these other agencies is an aggressive, confrontational stance toward the citizenry.  The imminent threat to Americans comes from big-government bureaucracies. That’s my takeaway. 

    America is rapidly losing its status as a free republic. Only the callow, true-believing leftist thinks it can’t happen here and denies what his lying eyes show him all around. We already have political prisoners in this country: the anti-Islamic filmmaker blamed for Benghazi and the woman who threw a shoe at Hillary. Is Bundy next? I wonder where the killers of Ambassador Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith, and Glen Doherty are today? We know they’re not sitting in American jails.

    And the Left claims to believe in “proportional response.” Pheh.

    • #59
  30. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    Misthiocracy:

    Johnny Dubya: And imagine what would happen if someone were shot and killed.

    If supporters didn’t show up en masse to defend him and his cattle, I think the odds of “someone” being shot and killed would have increased dramatically.

    Aside from the human tragedy of someone being shot and killed, if that “someone” were a person on the Federal side (the scenario I was thinking of) the killing would be a bludgeon the left would use against us for years to come.  “Right wingers, tea partiers, 2nd Amendment proponents, militias–they’re racist, and violent!”  They would conflate conservatives with the most extreme far-right nutjobs.  Heck, they even try to pin on us crimes committed by liberals and Democrats!

    Supporters, some of them armed, showing up en masse increase the probability of a tragedy, they don’t decrease it.  MLK used non-violence to defend the civil rights of millions of Americans.  Using violence, or the threat of it, to defend the property rights of a single rancher is not a good idea.

    • #60
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