Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Beginning Is Near



--Leslie <;)))><


For anyone who missed the story, because the national news media have been avoiding it, the Bundy Ranch incident is only the tip of the iceberg..

First, the Bundy ranch was founded in 1870, long before the Bureau of Land Management was created, back in the days when the open range was called "the commons" because it was open to common usage by all the ranchers in the county.  When Nevada became a state, the grazing rights of existing ranchers were "grandfathered" into the state laws, and ranchers were charged only a small usage fee by the state government.  When the BLM was formed, it took over much of those public lands – and has kept claiming more and more of the state wilderness lands – whereupon it threw out the grandfathered rights of the locals, charged its own grazing fees, and subsequently kept raising them.  These fees have driven several ranchers out of business, so that today the Bundy ranch is the only ranch left in the county. 

Now, in recent years, the BLM has begun closing off those "commons" altogether to use by ranchers, hunters, fisherman, even campers – but not by big corporations, even foreign ones.  The current excuse is the popular claim of Protecting the Environment, but the BLM has a truly terrible track-record at that, allotting "environmental waivers" to politicians' cronies which allow for the killing of those same species of plants and animals that provided the excuse.  In the case of Bundy's ranch, the animal-of-excuse is the Desert Tortoise – which, in fact, is not endangered at all;  it's found in abundance in lands south and east of Nevada, such as the states of Arizona and New Mexico, not to mention Mexico itself.  Now consider:
"- Harry Reid killed more Tortoises in cahoots with Brightsource Solar and jailed buddy Harvey Whittemore than Bundy Ranch.

"- Reid helped Whittemore procure environmental waivers for the Coyote Springs golf and residential development. Reid was happy to let Brightsource cover 8,300 acres of tortoise land of the 42,000-acre Coyote Springs. These included powerline changes and most importantly, a land swap with BLM of Desert Tortoise land."   (source: http://www.dailypaul.com/316556/harry-reids-connection-to-bundy-ranch-siege)

As a "small miner" (fewer than 10 claims) myself (see: Fanhaven), in filing my papers every year with the BLM, I've been made aware of the federal government's growing tendency to close off public lands to citizen use and sell them to the highest bidder.  This trend began well back in the Bush administration, if not before, but has accelerated under Obama.  So has the tendency to grab private land under any handy excuse.

"Senator Jim DeMint took to the pages of the Washington Post this morning to raise the alarm about a planned, 10 million acre Western land grab by the Obama administration.

"According to the memo, around 380,000 acres of BLM and private land in Colorado would be subject to a 'conservation designation' under the National Monument designation of the 1906 Antiquities Act. The Vermillion Basin, northwest of Craig, and the Alpine Triangle near Ouray are listed in the memo. This designation would close the areas off to multi-use activities including, mining, hunting, grazing, oil and gas development and recreational activities."  (source: http://cofarmbureaublog.wordpress.com/2010/03/04/leaked-memo-uncovers-administration-land-grab/)

So, Harry Reid appointed an old friend to head the BLM, and began squeezing out the local ranchers – in order to sell the land to a solar-electric company based in China and backed by the Chinese government.  The last rancher left, Cliven Bundy, fought back against the BLM's squeeze for the last 20 years by challenging the BLM's policy of ignoring Nevada's grandfathered grazing rights, and he offered to pay his fees instead to the county government, at the old Nevada rates.  He also tried to take his case to court and settle it there. 

The BLM refused to go to court, but simply waited until Bundy's cattle were grazing on BLM land, and then "confiscated" – i.e., stole – them.  The BLM also sent its own police to Bundy's ranch to seize everything else he owned.  That was when the neighbors, the local "militia", several sheriffs (though not the sheriff of his own county), and volunteers from all over the state moved in. A local pilot found the "secret" government location where Bundy's cattle were being held, and radioed the coordinates to Bundy and his friends.  The federal government, through the FAA, declared the area a "no-fly" zone, but by then the word was out.  When the BLM's agents moved in, they were faced with a crowd of protesters – many of them armed – who outnumbered them, and wouldn't let them proceed.  The federal government tried to cut off local communications by shutting down the cell-phone towers near Bundy Ranch, but the protesters maintained communications through land-lines, the Internet, CB and Ham radio.  Local news media covered the whole confrontation, and the reports got onto the Internet, and went viral.  The BLM, faced with the possibility of starting a bloodbath that would immediately make the 6 o'clock news and the Internet, backed down and agreed to return Bundy's cattle.  (source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHzQu3jxP1A)



The BLM refused to go to court, but simply waited until Bundy's cattle were grazing on BLM land, and then "confiscated" – i.e., stole – them.  The BLM also sent its own police to Bundy's ranch to seize everything else he owned.  That was when the neighbors, the local "militia", several sheriffs (though not the sheriff of his own county), and volunteers from all over the state moved in. A local pilot found the "secret" government location where Bundy's cattle were being held, and radioed the coordinates to Bundy and his friends.  The federal government, through the FAA, declared the area a "no-fly" zone, but by then the word was out.  When the BLM's agents moved in, they were faced with a crowd of protesters – many of them armed – who outnumbered them, and wouldn't let them proceed.  The federal government tried to cut off local communications by shutting down the cell-phone towers near Bundy Ranch, but the protesters maintained communications through land-lines, the Internet, CB and Ham radio.  Local news media covered the whole confrontation, and the reports got onto the Internet, and went viral.  The BLM, faced with the possibility of starting a bloodbath that would immediately make the 6 o'clock news and the Internet, backed down and agreed to return Bundy's cattle.  (source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHzQu3jxP1A)

The BLM, of course, isn't going to stop there. 

"Despite being forced to release hundreds of seized cattle after an astounding standoff on Saturday, the Bureau of Land Management has vowed to continue its pursuit of Cliven Bundy, asserting that no deal has been made to cease its case against the Nevada cattle rancher.

"Despite Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie announcing on Saturday that the BLM had agreed to cease its operation against Bundy, the BLM now asserts that it played no part in the deal and will continue to pursue Bundy 'administratively and judicially' for the $1 million in grazing fees it claims Bundy owes the feds.

"Since Bundy has steadfastly refused to pay the fee, offering instead to pay it to Clark County, the feds will have no option other than to send armed men to arrest Bundy or restart the operation to confiscate his cattle. Such action will then prompt thousands of Americans to rally to Bundy’s defense just as they did last week, threatening another standoff."   (source: http://www.prisonplanet.com/blm-flip-flops-no-deal-on-dropping-actions-against-bundy.html)

Meanwhile, in other states, popular resistance is growing.  In Utah, a collection of county sheriffs and state legislators are pushing a state bill to limit the local powers of the BLM and the Forestry Service. 

"Multiple rural county sheriffs from Utah testified Thursday about the abusive use of police power by Bureau of Land Management rangers or forest protection officers with the U.S. Forest Service.

"They are asserting it is time to rein in the authority the agencies should have never been allowed to exercise.

"Sheriffs from San Juan, Kane and Garfield counties spoke in favor of HB155, sponsored by Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, which proposes to limit BLM rangers and forest protection officers from exercising police power over state and local laws unless someone's safety is at risk or federal contracts are in place with local police agencies."  (source: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865574454/Lawmakers-Utah-sheriffs-want-to-rein-in-renegade-BLM-Forest-Service-officers.html?pg=all)

Meanwhile, in Connecticutt, the state police have backed away from the legislature's insistence, and sworn in public not to confiscate anybody's guns. 
 
"The new head of the state police, Dora Schriro, says she knows her troopers will live up to their oath to serve and protect. She wants to make very clear that the talk of confiscation is nonsense.  'There’s no plan in place nor has there been any execution of a plan where we would, for example, go door-to-door and be actively involved in the confiscation of weapons,' says Schriro, who took over as Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection at the end of January."  (source:  http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/investigations/No-Door-to-Door-Gun-Confiscations-State-251346661.html)

More emphatically, in New York, not only have citizens refused to comply with the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement act, but several sheriffs and state police have complained that the law is unconstitutional, unenforceable, and they'll refuse to even try to enforce it. 

"It was unclear how many of New York's gun owners were complying with today's deadline. The Safe Act exempts officials from disclosing information about the registry. To date, state police have declined to release aggregate numbers that could show compliance rates throughout the state.

"…many elected sheriffs have said they would not enforce
parts of the law.  Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh said he would refer tips
about illegal possessions of assault weapons to the state police.

"The union representing state troopers also has criticized the laws."  (source: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2014/04/ny_safe_acts_change_of_repeal_near_impossible_say_two_lawmakers_critical_of_the.html)

In other words, the seed of resistance has sprouted – resistance to unconstitutional federal and state laws – and it's growing.  Thanks to revelations about Reid's connection to the Chinese solar company, that resistance is not just on the political right, either.  The federal and state governments really should have the sense to back off while the opposition is still at the "resistance" stage.  Otherwise, this could be the beginning of a real – and not necessarily nonviolent – revolution. 
 

4 comments:

ravenclaw-eric said...

The Sagebrush Rebellion has been simmering for quite a while. A lot of Westerners who actually, you know, live on the land rather than visiting it or driving through at high speeds, are getting good and sick and tired of being pushed around by Feds. They lack clout compared with the urban Yuppies and neo-hippies (I don't know what else to call some of those people...P.J. O'Rourke described them, correctly, as "dressed for a Days of Rage costume party") who have the goverment's ear. But the anger is growing.

You might look up a lot of Vin Suprynowicz' columns about this sort of thing; they're online at his website. He wrote for a Las Vegas paper for years and years.

eldriwolf said...

and then again...
http://www.snopes.com/politics/conspiracy/nevada.asp

Leslie Fish said...

Hi, Eldri. Hmm, so the Chinese development deal fell through, but even Snopes admits here that the BLM has been selling or leasing public lands to big-rich (and often foreign) corporations -- while driving the little-guy citizens off. If the land involved in this dispute is all of 750,000 acres, then Bundy's 400 cattle could hardly have "damaged" or "degraded" an area of that size, let alone threatened the survival of the Desert Tortoise. Indeed, we need to look further into the details here, but there's no doubt that the BLM has indeed been playing fast and loose with the public lands. I'm reminded of an old nursery rhyme about the "closing of the commons" nearly two centuries ago in Britain:

"The law doth punish man or woman
Who steals a goose from off the common,
But turns the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose."

I see history repeating itself, and so do a lot of citizens.

Aya Katz said...

I am going to share this. I hope it really is the beginning, Leslie.