By now you’re familiar with the standoff between the federal government, i.e. the Bureau of Land Management, and 67 year-old rancher Cliven Bundy. (If not, check the backstory and my radio interview with him here.) The BLM asserts their power through the expressed desire to protect the endangered desert tortoise, a tortoise so “endangered” that their population can no longer be contained by the refuge constructed for them so the government is closing it and euthanizing over a thousand tortoises. The tortoises, the excuse that BLM has given for violating claims to easements and running all but one lone rancher out of southern Nevada, is doing fine. In fact, the tortoise has lived in harmony with cattle in the Gold Butte, Clark County Nevada for over a hundred years, or as long as Cliven Bundy’s family has lived on the land as ranchers. In fact, the real threat to it is urbanization, not cattle.
A tortoise isn’t the reason why BLM is harassing a 67 year-old rancher. They want his land. The tortoise wasn’t of concern when Harry Reid worked BLM to literally change the boundaries of the tortoise’s habitat to accommodate the development of his top donor, Harvey Whittemore. Whittemore was convicted of illegal campaign contributions to Senator Reid. Reid’s former senior adviser is now the head of BLM. Reid is accused of using the new BLM chief as a puppet to control Nevada land (already over 84% of which is owned by the federal government) and pay back special interests. BLM has proven that they’ve a situational concern for the desert tortoise as they’ve had no problem waiving their rules concerning wind or solar power development. Clearly these developments have vastly affected a tortoise habitat more than a century-old, quasi-homesteading grazing area. If only Clive Bundy were a big Reid donor.
BLM has also tried to argue that the rules have changed, long after Bundy claims he secured rights and paid his dues to Clark County, Nevada. BLM says they supersede whatever agreement Bundy had prior; they demanded that he reduce his living, his thousand-some-odd head of cattle down to a tiny herd of 150. It’s easy for the government to grant itself powers of overreach, but it doesn’t make it right. Many bad things are done in the name of unjust laws. Just look at Obamacare. This heavy-handed tactic has run the other ranchers from the area and now Bundy is the last one. He’s the last one because he stood up to the federal government.
So why does BLM want to run Bundy off this land and is Reid connected?
I discussed this on “Kelly File” tonight, video via Jim Hoft.
*UPDATE: Those who say Bundy is a “deadbeat” are making inaccurate claims. Bundy has in fact paid fees to Clark County, Nevada in an arrangement pre-dating the BLM. The BLM arrived much later, changed the details of the setup without consulting with Bundy—or any other rancher—and then began systematically driving out cattle and ranchers. Bundy refused to pay BLM, especially after they demanded he reduce his heard’s head count down to a level that would not sustain his ranch. Bundy OWNS the water and forage rights to this land. He paid for these rights. He built fences, established water ways, and constructed roads with his own money, with the approval of Nevada and BLM. When BLM started using his fees to run him off the land and harassing him, he ceased paying. So should BLM reimburse him for managing the land and for the confiscation of his water and forage rights?
Cliven Bundy’s problem isn’t that he didn’t pay—he did—or that his cattle bother tortoises—they don’t—it’s that he’s not a Reid donor.
**One last thought: For those conservatives saying that since BLM arrived in the late 90s, it’s the law now, well, so is Obamacare.
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