So What To Make Of the BLM In Nevada? in [Market-Ticker]
2014-04-13 12:41 by Karl Denninger
in Protests , 340 references
So What To Make Of the BLM In Nevada?
This is one of those stories that is very difficult to get anything approaching accurate full-scope information on, especially with everyone on all sides of the issue spinning like plates on sticks. With that said, I'll take a crack at it.
Federal land managers say "escalating tensions" led them to release all 400 or so head of cattle rounded up on public land in southern Nevada from a rancher who has refused to recognize their authority.The apparent beginning of this came when the BLM decided many years ago that a specific endangered tortoise meant it could seize land from Nevada and "protect" it -- land that historically (and the history is very, very long, apparently dating back to the 1870s!) had been used by Bundy's family to graze cattle.
Bureau of Land Management Chief Neil Kornze announced an abrupt halt to the weeklong roundup just hours before the release.
"Based on information about conditions on the ground and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concerns about the safety of employees and members of the public," Kornze said in a statement.
There's an inherent problem here with Federalism that nobody appears to be taking on face-first, and that's no surprise. First principles no longer seem to be principles at all when it comes to this nation. Mr. Bundy's refusal to recognize what amounted to federalization of land his family had used in a non-destructive and renewable fashion, and to which he had made material improvements over the years without trying to claim exclusive rights, facially appears to be rather reasonable in light of the totality of the circumstances.
BLM claims that Bundy owes the government over $1 million in "grazing fees." But BLM arguably owes Bundy for the appreciated value to the land that his improvements conferred and which they confiscated; the 5th Amendment prohibits this sort of "taking" without compensation. How does this all pencil out? I don't know -- we don't have an accurate accounting and nobody is looking at that angle of this dispute at all.
Then there is the attempted impoundment and impending destruction of the cattle that BLM tried to implement. There were allegations that BLM intended to not just remove the cattle but steal and sell them into the commercial meat market, an act for which nobody has produced anything approaching judicially-valid process to back up. An order to remove (which a judge allegedly issued) is not the same thing as an order to seize and dispose.
Note carefully that cattle rustling has historically been an offense over which one can get shot. And theft is theft no matter who commits the offense; absent a judicial order of seizure and disposal, which BLM has not produced, that is in fact exactly what they did.
Irrespective of all of this, and I'm still trying to get my arms around the full extent of where rationality would come down in light of it, the BLM was challenged by a modest but rapidly-growing group of citizens who simply said "No, you have gone too far and you're not going to do this. End of discussion." BLM then unilaterally decided that speech was not something to be respected either and tried to play "time, place and manner" games in the Nevada desert with an alleged "protest zone." The people said nuts to that as well, and apparently were willing to defend themselves if accosted.
For now the BLM has capitulated and released the cattle they appear to have stolen, along with withdrawing their massed armed agents and equipment. They have vowed to continue the fight in the courts, which of course they have the right to do.
Finally, as a backdrop to all of this mess, there are allegations that Harry Reid (yes, Mr. Senator) is involved in attempting to steal some of this land at a well-below-market-value price for some sort of solar energy project (run by one of his alleged pals) and that there are apparently mineral interests that would like to drill on it too, all of which would be incompatible with cattle grazing. At this point I've been unable to validate the alleged corruption aspects of this to a degree that I'm comfortable with considering them driving forces behind this move, but they have been raised by multiple individuals and there does at least appear to be a facial appearance of impropriety.
I'm continuing to investigate this situation and, I will add, it looks a lot more complicated than many have made it appear at first blush. I can't be certain how I'll come down on the facts when it is all "aired out", but for now it appears that an outbreak of violence is off the table, and that is an unquestionable good.
Let's hope that whatever the final resolution things stay that way.