I’ve been surfing my usual internet hangouts over the last week or so – in between working on various editing, formatting and sales projects for the Tiny Publishing Bidness – so although I did surf, and read and observe reports on a number of different and rather disturbing events – I didn’t have time to write anything about them until after I had finished the biggest of the current projects on my plate.

The biggest of them was the new-old range war of the Bundy ranch. I suppose that technically speaking, the Fed Gov had some small shreds of technical justification in demanding grazing fees … but the longer one looked at the whole of L’affaire Bundy, the worse it looked … which is doubtless why the Fed Gov backed down. A tactical retreat, of course; The optics of a shoot-out between the minions of the Fed Gov and the various Bundy supporters would not have been good, for Harry Reid and his clan and friends most of all, although they may eventually act – seeing that they have a position which will be at risk by tolerating defiance.

First it was state land, then it was Fed Gov property, and all this supposed to be for the benefit of desert tortoises? Dad did an early life study of the California desert tortoise, back in the day. Tough little critters, and seemingly in no particular danger of extinction in the Mojave, unless and until they paved over the desert with solar panels, which was why Dad was tasked with the research. (He went out into the desert near Needles, California, every six months for a number of years, rounded up the randomly-assorted selection of 50 tortoises fitted with radio-transmitter devices, and hauled them into a veterinarian’s office for an x-ray, and for other examinations. No, I don’t know of anything else that Dad discovered, peculiar to the tortoises, only that they seemed pretty easy-going about the whole process…)

Say, the Bundy family has been running cattle on that range since the late 19th century, and now they are the last ranch family standing in that part of the world? Hmm, says the observer, upon seeing a sudden interest by the political powers that be in otherwise pretty unspectacular desert property owned by someone else. This plot was played for laughs in Blazing Saddles – I guess this time around, Harry Reid is doing the Hedley Lamar part. A bit ago, one of the regular commenters, (Subotai Bahadur, if memory serves or perhaps it was Wretchard at Belmont Club), speculated that the cold civil war would turn hot in earnest at the point where a locally respectable, well-thought of and otherwise respectable good citizen was unjustly and viciously brutalized by the minions of the Fed Gov, or as in the case of the following – by a governmental body or several acting in collusion. As a note to L’affaire Bundy, a lot of people not living in flyover states, or in rural areas – have no idea of how heavy the hand of the BLM or the Forest Service lies upon those in the rural west. Living in Texas, I have little personal experience in this regard, since by a historical twist of good fortune, most of Texas is privately owned. One does hear stories, though. Do not underestimate the resentment felt by residents of western states toward representatives of the Fed Gov when it comes to the BLM or the Forest Service. There is a pile of dry tinder there, well-soaked in gasoline, only wanting a lit match or two.

The second local story of which I speak – is the case of a family in Colorado who own – for now – a tiny cabin, a little island of private property within the boundary of a national park. The Forest Service appears to be colluding with the local county to confiscate the property, with the stated purpose of making the park all pristine, by means of eminent domain. No, this park is the preserve of the general public who don’t have any existing property rights, so for the good of all, the property of the one must be confiscated. This will be another stick of tinder for the National Forest Service, by the way.

The third instance is a curious one, of a reclusive collector of a wide variety of artifacts in a little out of the way neighborhood in Rush County, Indiana. Suddenly the FBI is descending on a modest house and supposedly confiscating certain items for examination … and what? The owner appears to be a wholly respectable collector who acquired the items legally, through a long career as a missionary and as an archeological enthusiast? What gives, really? The few news stories concerting the matter are unrevealing when it comes to the question of – what brought this on? Why now? And why is the elderly owner being treated as if he is an international art thief with millions of dollars in looted Nazi art stashed in a warehouse somewhere? And would the same consideration be given to a multimillionaire with a private gallery and a house in the Hamptons? Especially if he were a generous contributor to acceptable Dem Party political causes? Yes, one really does wonder.

The final story regards the recent dismaying policy of the IRS to scoop up tax refund monies from descendants of people who – mirable dictu – are found to owe money to the Fed Gov. Usually, according to this story in the Washington Post (who astonishingly, now appear to be committing acts of journalism) the debts were incurred by long-deceased parents and grandparents, and the legal means established for going after such long-time debts was in an obscure provision of a farm bill passed some years ago. Well, as Speaker Pelosi once so airily remarked, we would have to pass the bill to find out what was in it. This case is curiously illustrative.

I take away from all this a somewhat more discouraging insight – that the various offices of the Fed Gov now seem to see themselves as above the original intent of the law.
Which would be worrying enough; but the underlying tendency that I sense in reviewing all this is a bit more worrying, as a property-owner and one with the odd bit of original art and small artifacts collected in legitimate sale from distant lands, as well as having parents and grandparents who might in the distant past have been briefly in debt to the Fed Gov. Extrapolating from these separate stories, one can’t help coming to the conclusion that if you have something in the way of real property (even just as paltry a thing as an income tax return) and the Fed Gov has a reason for wanting it – they will come and get it.
If such is the case, we are not citizens any longer – but sheep to be sheared whenever the Fed Gov needs a few more pennies. In which case, the Fed Gov sees their prime duty as mulcting the citizens of what items of value they possess, by fair means or foul (usually foul and by the misuse of the laws they choose to enforce), in order to pay for the towering edifice of the Fed Gov as we know it, or to pay off those to whom they owe favors. Discuss.

(cross-posted at www.ncobrief.com)

19 thoughts on “Harbingers”

  1. I did a job at a power plant in Clark County Nevada a while back. You had to drive 10 mph on the long road to the plant to avoid Desert Tortoises and look under your car before you moved it. I asked the locals if they had ever seen a desert tortoise and they all said no. I suspect you are right that they do all right unless the land is made into solar farms or subdivisions. Another thing to remember is that there are laws and then there are regulations. The whole regulatory world has spiraled out of control particularly with regard to environmental stuff.

    I sit on an industry committee that has quasi legal status and we are constantly warned about being open, following the rules and avoiding influence since there was a famous Supreme Court case on this 20 year ago. But the Sierra club and others can pull rigged sue and settle deals with BLM/EPA etc. Pretty soon you get the idea that the whole thing is rigged and you are probably correct.

  2. 1865. That’s what discussion springs to my mind.

    With all the attendant difficulties of having no way to have supported either side had I been there with the understanding I now possess. I readily identify with Jimmy Stewart’s character in “Shenondoah”.

    Over against Subotai’s recent comment that he was not a Christian of any stripe, I wonder what one does when faced with a dilemma without an Alexandrian Sword to handle a Gordonian Knot. Specifically, how does one resolve the conflict between anarchy and tyranny? I posit that the Bible’s declaration of an absolute, the transcendent value of human life, provides the balancing fulcrum.

    I’m not surprised that when observing history eventually the state wins. Unprincipled sheep who can only count the present as precious provide power so that the many may overcome the one. Thus it does not surprise me that under the guise of good some put on weapons to oppress others, whether it be tribes in 21st century African genocides or U.S. police refusing to wrestle with the dilemma and going on to scorn their oath to defend the Constitution.

    Sgt Mom, you recently pondered patience. Bundy et al provided an answer to your musings, a line in the sand. It might be a confused line, a complicated line, a line with more than a few logical errors making it dotted and curved rather than straight. But I fear you have correctly prophesied the not long away coming events: government cannot and will not tolerate defiance, most specifically, principled defiance.

  3. The Kelo decision of the USSC seems to be one aspect of this case. Kelo involved “the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another private owner to further economic development.”

    One problem with Kelo is that “the private developer was unable to obtain financing and abandoned the redevelopment project, leaving the land as an empty lot, which was eventually turned into a temporary dump.”

    Thus the private owner, or in this case, the family that would have had a claim of Adverse Possession if the federal government had not been the putative owner. When Nevada was accepted into the Union, it acknowledged federal ownership of unclaimed land. It all goes back to the Enabling Act of the people of the territory of the state of Nevada. .

    The people of the territory petitioned the United States Congress to make this a state. And they have a clouded title. So in order to clear their title, they give up their public domain — forever. It sounds terrible. Forever? But let me tell what you they had to do. They had to give it up forever so Congress would have a clear title.

    The territory gave up title to Congress.

    Bundy did pay grazing fees for a time prior to 1993. It was that year that the feds decided to limit grazing rights in the name of protecting the desert tortoise; Bundy then decided to stop paying the fee. When he decided that the land didn’t legally belong to the feds is unclear.

    This is Sagebrush Rebellion, Part II . The stimulus, as it was in the 1980s, is environmental law.

    The National Wilderness Preservation System grew out of recommendations of a Kennedy-administration Presidential Commission, the Outdoor Recreational Resources Review Commission (ORRRC)[3] chaired by Laurence S. Rockefeller, whose 1962 report suggested legislation to protect recreational resources in a “national system of wild and scenic rivers”, a national wilderness system, a national trails system, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, and recreation areas administered by then-existing public lands agencies beyond National Parks and National Monuments (both of which are administered in the Department of the Interior by the National Parks Administration).

    Some of this was honest concern about preservation of real wilderness. Today, it is about an EPA run wild under another leftist administration. Plus the prospect of graft by Harry Reid and his numerous children, all lawyers. The Reid story is here .

  4. This would not be helpful. Another Waco scenario.

    Sheriff Richard Mack of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association ‪(CSPOA‬) has revealed stunning information: on Ben Swann’s radio program, Mack said that he has received intelligence from multiple, credible sources inside the BLM and the Las Vegas Metro that there is “no question” that the federal government is planning a raid on the Bundy home and the homes of their children who live on the property.

    Let’s hope they are not that stupid.

  5. Oh, Mike – it wouldn’t surprise me at all. For the moment, the IRS seems to have gone back on confiscating refunds for payment of ancient debts owed by next of kin, so I suppose the Washington Post managed to embarrass the establishment sufficiently.

    Sheriff Mack is one of those strict constitutionalists who has been worried about this kind of stand-off between locals (to include local law enforcement) and the Fed Gov for a long time. He came and spoke at one of our early Tea Parties.

  6. It seems to be a simple case of purpresture: it’s rather drama-queeny to want to solve it by exchange of fire. Still, Waco, Ruby Ridge, etc.

  7. “a reclusive collector of a wide variety of artifacts…who acquired the items legally, through a long career as a missionary and as an archeological enthusiast? What gives, really?”

    A few possibilities: First, there are many in the worlds of art and anthropology who believe that private individuals should not own cultural treasures. All such should be the “common property” of society, which means that they should be owned by government or by institutions. Yes, they really do think that way. It’s amazing just how many little Stalins you can find in those worlds.

    Second, they might have no political animosity toward this individual but be using him to “send a message” to other collectors and to the public at large: Posess a single artifact for which you cannot produce extensive documentation, or for which it is rumored you cannot, and your entire collection will be confiscated, your home will be ransacked and trashed, you will be slandered in public, and you will be bankrupted not only in court costs to recover your property but also to stay out of jail. If he’s a recluse then he presumably does not have a large network of friends–especially influential friends–and is thus more vulnerable to having his rights violated.

  8. “it’s rather drama-queeny to want to solve it by exchange of fire.”

    The “exchange” is often begun, and may be maintained, by the feds. After all, they have budgets to protect.

    On artifacts, there used to be a beautiful museum of early California Indian life called The Southwest Museum located in the Arroyo Seco near Paadena. Near it is the home of the collector Charles Lummis who walked across the country from Cleveland to California and collected Indian artifacts.

    The museum was closed a few years ago under pressure from the usual suspects. This LA Times article does not mention “Native American” agitation but it almost certainly the cause. The “activists” deplore white people owning cultural artifacts.

    Even the Kennewick man has been held hostage by “:drama queeen” Indian activists who want the skeleton reburied even though it is ancient and does not have anatomic characteristics of Indian skulls.

    Kennewick Man became the subject of an eight-year-long lawsuit between the federal government (along with several Native American tribes) and a group of scholars that started in 1996. Although the court case was resolved in 2004, the debate continues today.

    More PC nonsense.

    The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), passed in 1990, provides legal protections for Native American human remains, including their return to tribal communities from museums if the tribes can prove they are related to the remains.

    As of April 19, 2004, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier decision by U.S. District Court Judge Jelderks that the remains could not be defined as “Native American” under the NAGPRA law. Therefore the Kennewick Man remains are still under the control of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and scientific study of the remains by the plaintiffs was allowed to take place.

    The Bundy ranch is only part of it.

  9. Sgt. Mom, you’re right on both counts. I’ve discussed the Cold Civil War both here and with Wretchard over the last few years. The temperature is rising. More and more, the Federal government is working as hard as it can to be perceived as an enemy and as a threat.

    As an example of the reaction, Colorado is an open carry state except when local ordinances limit it. Our TEA Party marches in parades, both as the TEA Party and jointly as part of Support Our Sheriffs; which represents all but a handful of Colorado County Sheriffs in their lawsuit against the anti-Second Amendment statutes passed by the Democrats in our legislature last year. Note that almost all Sheriffs, regardless of political party, are part of the lawsuits against the restrictions on firearms ownership. Out of the 62 Colorado Sheriffs we have, I believe, 57 in the suit.

    For the last year, we have been marching under arms. We are always led by at least one elected Sheriff, and up to a dozen. Our largest marching contingent [for some limited values of “marching”, keeping in mind we don’t practice close order drill] was 500 at a July 4th Parade last year, and we expect to triple that this year.

    Every time we appear, under US colors, the Gadsden Flag, and various Revolutionary War flags; the crowd goes wild. We get more cheers than anyone else; with the possible exception of the Hot Shot Wildland Firefighter Crews who helped save our state last year. And I cheer them myself, loudly.

    Imagine what the reaction would have been before Year One, Anno Obama.

    Here is roughly how we feel.


    The regime will make another try at getting Cliven Bundy and his family. One reason that there was the reaction of people rallying to Nevada is that there is a decades long history of when the Federal government deploys SWAT and snipers against civilians, the end is the death of the civilians. They will burn them to death, if necessary, as SOP. That end is not accidental. BLM’s goal was to kill that family. No one family can resist such overwhelming force, but they are not strong enough to kill us all.

    The next try will be covert, probably in the middle of the night, and probably involve helicopter assault. I hope that our military is still loyal enough to the Constitution not to take part [Posse Commitatus Act]. Although it would not be beyond the regime to declare all opposition to their will to be Al Quada and thus subject to the military.

    Subotai Bahadur

  10. “The next try will be covert, probably in the middle of the night,”

    I think it will be after the election, when Obama has “more flexibility.”

  11. One of the common aspects of any bankruptcy is the sale of assets to settle outstanding debts.

    The Federal government owns huge portions of land around the country, especially in the western states.

    The Federal government is very close to bankruptcy by any reasonable standard of measurement.

    When the debts become unmanageable, and unpayable, the answer seems fairly obvious.

    The rampant cronyism of the current political/economic matrix must be resolved before any divesture of these assets proceeds, and some other safeguards to keep the land in the control of citizens only must be enacted.

    Such a sale would be a tremendous economic boon to the people in general, and to these states in particular.

  12. Well, as Speaker Pelosi once so airily remarked, we would have to pass the bill to find out what was in it.

    Or, as Dennis Miller calls her, “Pelosi Galore”

    I take away from all this a somewhat more discouraging insight – that the various offices of the Fed Gov now seem to see themselves as above the original intent of the law.

    It seems this applies to a lot of laws that were enacted with good intentions. The Endangered Species Act – now used as a club to prevent the building of….pick your project. Or farming – look at the Delta Smelt in the Central Valley.

    Or the Americans With Disabilities Act – now a cash cow for a small group of lawyers and the cause for 10s of thousands of small businesses to quit.

  13. >>>Let’s hope they are not that stupid.

    Yes, lets hope…because hell will be coming for breakfast if they are —

    “Members of Bundy’s security details say more militia groups are on their way and will be there for weeks to come.”

    See this link:


    Keeping the no-fly zone over the Bundy Melon Farm & Ranch plus barring the public from visiting public lands around the Bundy Ranch until 12 May gives these Militia types a telegraphed time of operations to mass against.

    The issue the DC Feds have here is a very grave misunderstanding of who and what they are up against.

    A lot of these militia types really want an excuse to shoot at the Feds “black helicopters.”

    I really don’t want to see Nevada as Moghadishu.

  14. Trent I certainly sympathize with the ranchers but don;’t think this would be a cakewalk for them. It would get pretty ugly – fast.

  15. Before the 1970s the Forest Service and the BLM partnered with individuals and companies to produce the resources of the public lands. The lands are owned by the people and the Federal government is supposed to manage them for the good of the people. This arrangement and mission all changed after the passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the formation of the EPA.

    Since the 1970s logging in the Pacific Northwest has been curtailed, mining has been curtailed, ranchers have been forced off the land, farmers have lost irrigation rights, and oil/gas drilling has been curtailed. The public lands are now being managed to satisfy the desires of a group of well-organized environmental activists.

    Problems started for Cliven Bundy 20 years ago when the Desert Tortoise was classified as endangered. Under the ESA, the BLM is pushed by environmental groups to push ranchers and farmers to abandon their grazing permits. The law is on the government’s side, but when your family has been ranching in one area for over 100 years, this kind of change doesn’t go down well. Bundy, however, is just a the tip of the iceberg. The symptom, if you will, of this new and unreasonable restriction on productive uses of the land. Many ranchers, farmers, loggers, and miners have just given up and walked away. Bundy is fighting back, as is another Nevada rancher, Wayne Hage. People are getting fed up!

    Unfortunately, the government will eventually win unless the Congress understands that the ESA needs to be modified so that it can’t be used as a weapon against the people and companies that have been, and will be, productive users of public lands.

  16. “…the government will eventually win unless the Congress understands that the ESA needs to be modified so that it can’t be used as a weapon against the people and companies that have been, and will be, productive users of public lands.”

    Exactly. They’ve done a number in Northern California, too – basically shutting down lumbering there. One of the reasons that California is now trending towards being a place with the very rich, the very poor and a shrinking middle class.

    Of course, the political elite have no clue about how furiously they are resented, when the pretense of caring about an endangered species (which often is not really that endangered at all) trumps the ability of the working and middle-classes to make a living at all.

    There is something so very aristocratic about this attitude; let’s turn the public lands into a private park for the enjoyment of those elites who have the sensitivity and the wherewithal to partake of them. Who cares about those proles anyway … THEY certainly don’t deserve to have nice things anyway.

  17. Jut remember that the FBI sniper who killed Randy Weaver’s wife was indicted by the local grand jury and that was 1995.

    In August 1995, the US government avoided trial on a civil lawsuit filed by the Weavers, by awarding the three surviving daughters $1,000,000 each, and Randy Weaver $100,000 over the deaths of Sammy and Vicki Weaver. The attorney for Kevin Harris pressed Harris’ civil suit for damages, although federal officials vowed they would never pay someone who had killed a U.S. Marshal (Harris had been acquitted by a jury trial on grounds of self-defense). In September 2000 after persistent appeals, Harris was awarded a $380,000 settlement from the government.[22]

    I would not be surprised to see legislation on sovereign immunity for LEOs from the new Congress. Of course, Obama will veto it.

  18. Sgt Mom – look up the history of the Delta Smelt and the Central Valley – over 40,000 unemployed

Comments are closed.