Pointing Fingers in the #BundyRanch affair

A fellow over at the New York Times has penned the ultimate elite-progressive reaction to the Cliven Bundy story.

Imagine a vendor on the National Mall, selling burgers and dogs, who hasn’t paid his rent in 20 years. He refuses to recognize his landlord, the National Park Service, as a legitimate authority. Every court has ruled against him, and fines have piled up. What’s more, the effluents from his food cart are having a detrimental effect on the spring grass in the capital.

Would an armed posse come to his defense, aiming their guns at the park police? Would the lawbreaker get prime airtime on Fox News, breathless updates in the Drudge Report, a sympathetic ear from Tea Party Republicans? No, of course not.

So what’s the difference between the fictional loser and Cliven Bundy, the rancher in Nevada who owes the government about $1 million and has been grazing his cattle on public land for more than 20 years? Near as I can tell, one wears a cowboy hat.

And he’s right that it is expected behavior for citizens to hand over their government’s requests for taxes. That’s been true since collective effort was invented.

But there are some significant differences in the fictional loser and the Bundy family.

I have written about how federal government land mismanagement has caused the Bundy Ranch seizure, even before we started hearing about the Bundys on Fox.

Bundy stopped paying his extra BLM fees after he was ordered to cripple his business to protect the Desert Tortoise. The Desert Tortoise is getting thin because the federal government started protecting its primary predator in 1971. That animal, the raven, was never endangered. But with the extra protection of Uncle Sam, populations skyrocketed. Of course, so did raven predation on the tortoise. I feel the Bundys’ frustration.

The BLM took the matter to BLM court, which found the BLM acted in accordance with congressional instructions. Bundy appealed, and the appeals court ruled with the BLM. So Bundy owes the money.  The BLM should put a lien on his bank account, just like the IRS does. The shock troop assemblage is because the new BLM director seems to be a political operative.

And so, you have a completely legal process resulting in an outcome that just doesn’t make any sense. It does not make sense for the Bundys to have to cripple their operation to boost Desert Tortoise populations when the sensible (and natural) course has been interrupted by politicians, creating the problem Bundy has to change to accommodate.

So, the “fictional loser” is told he can only sell apples, even to people who had been buying a burger or dog every day from his cart since his grandfather started it. And, in dispute, he stopped paying his rent. That would be a difference, cast in the same allegory as the elite-progressives created. It doesn’t excuse running cattle without paying your grazing fees, but it seems a pretty important fact.

And the hat.

Oh, by the way, the snipe at the end of the first paragraph:

What’s more, the effluents from his food cart are having a detrimental effect on the spring grass in the capital.

Not sure what he’s exactly alluding to here. But I do not believe cattle gas is tipping the balance in the Sun’s long journey to supernova. Buffalo probably had gas too.

There’s a group that wants to remove cattle from the range so as to return the range to its “natural” state.  I am not compelled by that argument, as its’ immediately prior state had it grazed by large herds of wild buffalo, elk, deer and other grazing herbivores that would be hard to find today. Not to mention a large indigenous human population lost to disease and, in the end, conquest. For that matter, recently enough to leave evidence, previous “natural” states have included glacial cover in some areas, and deserts teeming with dinosaurs in others. Which previous state will be selected?

There’s another group passing around photos of overgrazed land, who think cattle should be eliminated because of them. I believe ranchers who overgraze their herds go out of business quickly, and that competent ranchers do not overgraze land. Further, it makes sense to me that grazing can reduce wildfires, which have grown quite expensive recently.

Some say humans should not eat meat. I see this as a matter of personal choice, and do not support compulsory vegetarianism.

Maybe this one is concerned about cow poop getting into the water supply?

Sometimes I just assume everybody knows this stuff…

I ran into someone today who did not know that about a month ago, a fellow who’d done 8 years in the Reid Machine just took command of the Bureau of BLM. I have long noted the many anecdotes that lead me to conclude having land management decisions made by people who rarely get over to our side of the Appalachians does not produce beneficial outcomes for anyone. And Harry’s vision, using our great-grandchildren’s money to replace ranchers with a ubiquitous electrical grid, is not sustainable.

Not that any of this Bundy mess is political and, quite likely, somehow personal.

Constitutional Convention Soon?

In 1979, Nevada joined a parade of state legislatures in asking Congress to call a Constitutional Convention for the limited purpose of adding a provision requiring a balanced budget, except in the case of an emergency.  It was nitpicked, amended then amended again – but Governor List finally had a bill to sign on March 12, 1979, which he did. The linked PDF includes the bill and it’s legislative history.

Time wore on through the 80s, and a lot of state legislatures jumped on the bandwagon, but by 1985 states stopped. The effort fell two states short of the required 34.

The last six years of inexcusably irresponsible federal spending, much of it borrowed and showing little return, has sealed the deal. Ohio passed a resolution about six months ago, and Michigan’s house affirmed the Michigan Senate’s intent to become number 34 a couple of weeks ago.

So the tipping point – where two thirds of the states have petitioned congress to convene a convention to consider changing the Constitution to require fiscally responsible political behavior – has happened. Of maybe not – some of the state legislatures later rescinded their petitions and there is disagreement over whether that counts.

A few folks advocate that government debt doesn’t matter. Do your own research. I concluded they are wrong.

If I were lucky enough to represent my state in such a process, I would work hard to ensure the agenda is kept to a balanced budget amendment, and that one was passed.

Here’s a great Wikipedia article on the Balanced Budget Amendment.

Nevada Attorney General Defends Constitution

Okay, okay, a former Nevada Attorney General.

This Governor speaks for me, tonight. Thank you Sir.


In addition to the quite scary first amendment abridgement, I might go further. From newspaper accounts, taxpayers are paying more than the cattle are worth in order to round them up, in the name of the desert tortoise. And that’s before the inevitable change orders.

Desert tortoise were plentiful here, before the federal government started protecting ravens in the desert about 50 years ago. About the same time Uncle Sam’s east coast experts started protecting the ravens, I found a tortoise about two blocks from my family’s home (near Oakey and Wilshire) and he became a pet for several months before a rerun of “Born Free” prompted us to put him back onto his side of Oakey.

You can read about Ravens at Wikipedia, but currently somebody has stripped the Raven entry of all information about its protection under the Migratory Bird Act. (Politics! You can still read about Uncle Sam’s Raven protection over there).

Now we have lots of fat ravens, engorged on young desert tortoise and the eggs of ground-nesting animals like the sage chicken are about the easiest to find and eat. Tortoises and wild chickens evolved because there was no massive overpopulation of Ravens.

The federal government’s policies caused many dollars to be spent (back in the real estate gold rush days) mitigating desert tortoise damage in Clark County.  Now the federal government appears poised to cause more spending by any human users of rural Nevada lands – recreational, ranching, minerals – to mitigate the sage chicken’s failure to thrive. Groundhog day.

The result, by the way, is that in valleys far, far from the Las Vegas valley, where no development exists, the only thing that has changed in a hundred and fifty years is the federal government started “actively” managing it sixty years ago. Since then, populations of ground-nesting animals in some of those areas have dropped.

It just doesn’t make sense to spend taxpayer money to artificially increase the population of tortoise and wild chickens because we’ve spent a bunch of taxpayer money artificially increasing the population of their main predator. Better to stop artificially empowering the predator.

Unprotect the Raven and you will reduce its ravenous (!), invasive and federal-government-created impact on the natural ecosystem. Especially because we’re borrowing to sustain this current practice.

Once, I was proud of Senator Reid’s apparent environmental sensitivity. But this doesn’t make sense, and our federal government is not sustainable like this.

Beef-free Ground or Ground Beef?

This morning’s wasted million is up at Gold Butte, a remote area so large that it’s hard to find a cow pie on it. Now you and I are paying some Utah cowboys a million dollars to round up 500 cattle, a million dollars the federal government does not have.

If we want more tortoises, our federal land managers need to stop protecting ravens. They’ve protected ravens into an unnatural overpopulation, and ravens eat tortoise eggs (and sage hens’ eggs, another robust specie the feds want to “protect”). Vin Suprynowicz offered interesting observations on federal wildland management a couple of years ago.