Monday, April 14, 2014

Thoughts on the Nevada standoff

I've deliberately refrained from comment on the Nevada incident between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and a rancher, his extended family and a few hundred (some say more than a thousand) supporters from around the country.  I've been trying to find out more information than has been discussed on blog posts, partisan news sources and a few mainstream media outlets.  There's a lot more to this than meets the eye, and I suspect it's a long way from over.

Here are a few points to ponder.

1.  Most sources of information were/are completely unreliable.

There was an awful lot of wrong information, deliberate disinformation, and outright lying going on.  Sources of 'news' such as Alex Jones' Infowars site (no, I'm not going to link to it), a number of III Percent blogs, etc. were utterly irresponsible in peddling information without double-checking it, reporting rumor as fact, and generally whipping up emotion (even hysteria) over the issue.  Anyone who trusts any of these sources for information is at best deluded (and that's putting it mildly).  They're poisoning the debate by their very presence.  I know we have freedom of expression, but if this is the way they're abusing that right, they surely don't deserve it.

The few thoughtful voices were almost drowned out by those clamoring to score political, philosophical and emotional points off the issue.  I suspect some of the latter would actually have been pleased if the rancher and/or some of his family had been arrested (or even killed) by BLM agents or other officials.  It would have become a rallying cry for them to whip up further emotion.

This is a very dangerous situation indeed for all those who love liberty and the rights recognized in our Constitution.  Legitimate defense of those rights is one thing.  Manipulation of issues to force confrontation, even armed conflict, by those who have taken a one-sided, highly partisan and emotional position about those rights is entirely another.  We need to ask ourselves, very simply, "Is this issue worth dying for?"  To do that, we have to be very clear about what the issue really is - something that wasn't always evident in this situation.  (I don't propose to answer that question here - each of us will have to do that for ourselves.)

2.  The problems with the BLM go back decades.

I've seen very few references to the fact that the BLM appears - I emphasize, appears - to have been trying to drive ranchers off public lands for several decades.  The origins of Mr. Bundy's conflict with the BLM are described in this very interesting contribution by a fellow rancherI strongly recommend that you read it in full.  If the information he provides is correct - I've been able to find other references that appear to support it, but not yet sufficient to say for sure that I've verified it - then it looks very much as if, two decades ago, the federal government and its agencies began arrogating to themselves powers, rights and privileges that they had never before elucidated or enforced.  It's apparently at that point that Mr. Bundy refused to pay further fees to the federal government, because he refused to recognize their 'rights grab'.  (I understand he continued to pay fees to his county government.)  However, Mr. Bundy also appears to hold certain opinions that are simply not in accordance with the facts - something that makes it more difficult to defend him.  He's certainly not blameless in this matter.

3.  There appears to be corruption and political influence-peddling behind this crisis.

Others have commented at length about the involvement in this crisis of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, his son Rory, his former aide, Chinese company ENN Energy, and other 'interested parties'.  Perhaps the most comprehensive overview of their alleged collusion has been provided by Newsmax.  Again, I urge you to read that report in full.  There's also the very interesting question of how, during a lifetime of elected political office, Senator Reid has managed to amass so much wealth for himself.  Some details may be found here.  If you think it happened solely because he made wise investments or 'got lucky', there's a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you . . .

If the allegations in those reports are correct, then I suggest the old proverb applies:  "There's no smoke without fire".  There's been so much smoke generated by and from this crisis that there's got to be a bloody great conflagration behind the scenes!  Furthermore, Senator Reid doesn't sound like he's giving up:

“Well, it’s not over,” Reid, D-Nev.,  told KRNV-TV in Reno on Monday. “We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it’s not over.”

4.  There's a serious risk of further escalation of this conflict.

If I were rancher Cliven Bundy, I'd be preparing for a raid on my farmhouse by armed federal agents, probably not just BLM but also including FBI, US Marshals, and possibly ATF and other agencies.  Alternatively, the authorities may try to arrest him while he's running errands in town, or on the road.  They probably assume that if they can remove him from his property and get him out of the state within an hour or two, that will remove the focal point around which resistance can gather.  I think they're wrong in that assumption . . . but they've become accustomed to the arrogance of power.

I also think that some in the III Percent community are spoiling for a fight.  They'd welcome any excuse to strike back at what they consider to be an overreaching federal government, hoping to use an incident to inspire further resistance - even an all-out rebellion.  I think they're wrong about that, but no-one can be sure.

The Nevada stand-off has become an ongoing flash-point.  I hope and pray the authorities have the sense to realize that, and to let it de-escalate over time to where further developments can take place in the courtroom, where saner heads may yet prevail.  If an arrogant politician like Senator Reid gets involved, or authoritarian bureaucrats in the BLM and/or other agencies try to insist on doing it their way, all bets are off.  Bloodshed remains a very real possibility.

5.  This incident has implications for all Americans everywhere.

Remember this?


A city may designate areas for protesters in an effort to avoid conflict and/or confrontation between rival groups;  that's a legitimate method of 'keeping the peace'.  However, in the wide open spaces of Nevada, with only one group engaged in protest, that consideration doesn't apply.  This was nothing more or less than an attempt to silence protest and stifle dissent.  It didn't work - for which let's all be duly grateful.  However, I'm sure it won't be the last time it's tried.  (Did you ever wonder how the BLM just 'happened' to have those signs all pre-printed and ready for use?  I wonder how many more of them are waiting to be deployed during the next crisis?)  I confidently predict that federal authorities will continue to try to override the constitutional rights of Americans.  I fear that if they push too hard, or go too far, the answer will be bloodshed.

As a law enforcement officer I swore to 'support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic' and 'that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same'.  Although I'm now retired, that oath did not (and never will) retire.  I continue to uphold it, and I will not stand by idly while other sworn officers deliberately and callously violate the very constitution they've sworn to support and defend.  I know many feel as I do - perhaps many more than the authorities might wish to admit, both serving and retired personnel.

The Nevada standoff is a wake-up call to all of us that the time may come when we have to stand up and be counted . . . or surrender our rights forever to an unelected, arrogant bureaucracy that's gotten too big for its collective boots.

I think a younger Ronald Reagan put it well.




JPD said...

"to let it de-escalate over time to where further developments can take place in the courtroom, where saner heads may yet prevail. "

That's the sticking point in your article. Since the courts are corrupt and part of the problem, that is not an option.

Peter said...

@JPD: If 'the courts are corrupt and part of the problem', then we no longer have a rule of law at all in the USA. I don't think things are that bad.

I submit that many start calling the courts 'corrupt' when they rule in ways that conflict with individuals' beliefs about the way things should be, rather than what the law, the constitution and settled practice say that they are. That's been the case since the Whiskey Rebellion, IIRC . . .

That's also why we have multiple layers of courts, to allow a decision to be appealed to at least three levels, if not more.

drjim said...

It's definitely not over, and I expect some serious firefights to erupt over this.....

Anonymous said...

The obama administration has no moral authority to pursue Bundy due to the selective enforcement of the law. Neither the courts or Congress have been able to restrict unlawful actions of the obama administration. I am unsure that Mr. Bundy will receive a fair shake in court. The courpt attorney general is in contempt of Congress. Fast and furious, Bengazi, etc.are crimes much more serious than trespass cattle. My faith in the courts is as low as my faith in the federal government. I really enjoy your blog.

Old Surfer said...

The feds are really looking for an excuse to call for martial law and seize everything they can. They really want a war. III%ers like Sipsey and Oathkeepers are trying to keep everything cool, but the gov is going to keep pushing until something snaps.

Old NFO said...

Thanks Peter, sanity IS needed and a good fisking of the players and BS...

Coconut said...

Anon 11:40 -
"They break the rules so it's okay for me to break them too" doesn't work for toddlers and it shouldn't work for adults either.

It may be a 'lesser' crime, but crime is a lot like sin; even if it's 'just a little' criminal, it's still criminal.

From what I've heard, this sort of monkey business regarding using public land for private purposes used to lead to violence in the past as well.

Divemedic said...

The "First Amendment Zones" were first used by the Bush administration, IIRC

Anonymous said...

Wrong on First Amendment Zones.

They were used during the Clinton

I saw them used when V.P. AlGore visited my area back then.

Glen said...

The frightening thing is not the issue regarding fees to BLM, it is the government response.

If the BLM is certain of a criminal case, obtain a warrant, and send a single Federal Marshal to do the arrest.

This is part of the "due process" that benefits everyone involved.

This sort of massive response to a minor legal fight is a very real threat to the safety of everyone involved.

newrebeluniv said...

they aren't going to raid Bundy's ranch or arrest him because they have no legal cause to do so. So far, the BLM has been strictly within the legal bounds of what they were authorized to do under a court order. remove the trespassing cattle. The court order did not say they could arrest Bundy or seize his assets. Nor was Bundy required to do anything in the court order.

For a raid of his (as opposed to government) property, Bundy would have to actually violate a law and be charged with that violation.

I don't think there is even sufficient evidence for "incitement to riot". If Nevada has some statute about disturbing the public peace, that would have to be enforced by the local sheriff.

Anonymous said...

All causes aside, what strikes me the most about this incident is the response of the bystanders. People from all over the region were willing to drop what they were doing to go and confront the Feds. It makes the hair on my neck stand up, because it really reminds me of what I've read about how the English colonists became willing to actively oppose the Crown between 1770-1775. History does not repeat, but it sure seems to be rhyming.


MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Peter,

Good Story, and I am waiting for cooler heads to prevail. However I don't think the feds will back down. They have been having it all their way all in the name of"Global War on Terror" and even earlier and now we have people that are inured to the rampant violations by the Feds they just accept what is. I don't want any armed clash between the folks and the feds, but they use the constitution when it is convenient for them and ignore it when it isn't.

Anonymous said...

Peter, you said;

@JPD: If 'the courts are corrupt and part of the problem', then we no longer have a rule of law at all in the USA. I don't think things are that bad.

I submit that many start calling the courts 'corrupt' when they rule in ways that conflict with individuals' beliefs about the way things should be, rather than what the law, the constitution and settled practice say that they are.

While you are correct about about people's general tendencies towards court opinion; if they like the ruling they thinks its correct, if they dislike it, its corrupt; your submission is incorrect in the end.

It presupposes that the courts rule according to laws. For someone who has not had personal experience with courts that may be understandable; wrong, but understandable. Courts do not rule according to laws or whats right/wrong. After you see a court either disregard or deliberately circumvent the law, your opinion may change. There are administrative ways a court can deny a citizens access to higher courts, thus circumventing the "process".

Of course there is always that problematic human behavioral issue (as the above issue of peoples opinions) called infantile omnipotence, which describes a person's rationalizing that; because something has not happened to you directly, you can ignore it. It allows folks the convenience of believing what they are comfortable with while disregarding the facts.

Thus, while your posits are correct, your conclusions are not. The courts are not following the laws which means your initial supposition that, if they are not then we are no longer have a rule of law, and things are indeed "that bad".

Patrick Henry, the 2nd said...

"If 'the courts are corrupt and part of the problem', then we no longer have a rule of law at all in the USA. I don't think things are that bad."

Then you haven't been paying attention. We don't have a rule of law. Courts are constantly finding ways to ignore the rule of law to find in favor of the government. As a great example, just look at the Third Circuit's opinion in the Drake case-carrying a gun for self defense doesn't implicate the 2nd Amendment. Why? Because GUNS.

LittleRed1: I agree. The thing about this case is pretty much everybody agrees that legally, Bundy is in the wrong. But sometimes what is right legally is wrong morally. And many people are using this as a proxy for the larger war against the Feds. The Feds think they can do anything. They are sorely mistaken.

Anonymous said...

The III Per Centers are a spin off of the Sipsey Street Irregulars which is the brain child of Mike.. somebody whose last name I don't remember. However, I certainly remember his former nickname which is 'Red' Mike which he gained as a socialist/communist organizer - he admits this. He claims he has seen the light and reformed; however, as you say, if you believe that there is a famous bridge I'll sell you cheap. He has never been in the military, he has no law enforcement experience, nor any other experience except shooting his mouth off, yet he spends his time developing plans and concepts and writing stories for 'irregular' private militia style responses to overt actions by the government. What he appears to be doing is identifying and duping the naive and credulous for the purpose of using whatever credibility he gains thereby for sowing discontent and disrupting any legitimated patriotic movements, such as what is happening at the Bundy ranch.

He has close ties with Stuart Rhodes who runs the Oath Keeper organization and who is another dupe for the establishment. While most of the Oath Keeper's membership are fine folk they are also somewhat naive as they have allowed themselves to be co-opted into sitting on their hands. While Mr. Rhodes may have served in the peace time 82nd Airborne what he is above all else is an ivy league trained lawyer yet he never offers his services in any meaningful way to those who he says he stands with - in fact quite the opposite is true, just ask Darren Huff. For instance, while the Bundy's seriously need legal action to do things like having the local sheriff and county commissioners recalled, restraining orders against the BLM, as well as law suits against them for criminal actions, I haven't heard one peep out of Rhodes about any plans to institute any such legal proceedings and don't expect to hear of any either. He has however ingrated himself with the Bundys to the extent that he and his organization has assumed security duties at the Bundy home and has invited that peerless patriot Red Mike to the ranch to give a speech... how quaint...


Anonymous said...

bacsi, please don't libel Mike Vanderboegh of Sipsey Street Irregulars. Mike "calls it as it is" and has issued fair warnings to the Feds that they won't get any more "free Wacos" where the Feds can just go in with guns blazing and kill innocent folks. And don't call him "Red Mike" any more, as he has truly renounced his younger foolishness with Communism.

I'm also a "IIIper" and if I were close to the Bundy ranch I too would be there defending them against the leviathan of Big Overreaching Government.

Also, Mike is great at warning the government to BACK OFF and quit trying to instigate things. Like he says, if the government decides to try to round up us gun owners, then the folks making that decision won't just be able to sit back and enjoy life while their Gestapo agents go about rounding up folks, as those decision makers will be hunted down (while they will soon also run short of Gestapo goons as their ranks will be continuously thinned).

So, if you had been around during the American Revolution in the late 1700s, would you have sided with the King? Probably.