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January 07, 2016


All of the coastal waters of Massachusetts, including Boston Harbor, are under federal authority almost exclusively. That's not thought of as a federal vs. state/local issue because it's always been that way, even though it presents the same sorts of issues.

First thing we do is cancel the Louisiana Purchase:


Ranchers already get a 93% discount from market rates for fattening their livestock.


Hand it all over to the private sector and "rationalize" those discounts out of existence and then sit back and watch the range wars begin.

There will be no Shane to intervene between the cattle rustlers and the sodbusters.

The West's dams and water systems should be handed over the private sector too and water priced at market rates so the ranchers cattle and the farmers' pecan groves can pay up or go under.

State control? First thing we do in Colorado, especially the West slope of the Rockies is we cut off all flows of water out of state pending exponential price increases.

Get those Vegas trips in now. I mean, what are Sheldon Adelson and the rest of the Republican hookers who run that mirage going to do?

They can start by sucking on this.

We'll make the entire West look like Flint, Michigan and Detroit vis a vis water.

Water wars are even more deadly than range wars.

The federal lands in the West and elsewhere were federal before the states existed.

You'd think that would appeal to originalists.

I also want a bill, with accrued interest and late charges, sent to each and every westerner, including me, for the federal government's service to us for clearing this country of wild Indians and stealing their lands.

Time to pay up.

Any chance of a link to Michael Cain's blog?


He sounds like a reasonable guy from his rare comments here.

Actor Michael Caine's website is all that comes up on Google, but somehow I don't think the best lines in "Alfie" are going to help me out with the subject at hand.

"What would happen to that land if it was turned over to private ownership and management?"

It would be developed (possibly uselessly or damagingly) out of existence. Next question.

Public lands in the West are spoils of war. In the Eastern half of the country, spoils of the war against Native Americans became the personal property of individual white people, via auctions, bribes, squatting, and all manner of chicanery.

In the West, the spoils were acquired later, and are a hell of lot less valuable per acre. All the acreage that's really good for farmland went to private, white hands pretty quickly, but that left a lot of marginally arable to out-and-out useless land.

The decision to manage large sections of the West as (white) public lands was basically a compromise over what to do with spoils of war. Americans were no longer comfortable, in general, with proclaiming "we're white people and Christians so we deserve the land more than Indians do" ... but that doesn't mean they wanted to give it *back*, or anything.

Pretty much all land, in the world, is the spoils of some war or another. Looking at the land in that way is neither illuminative or productive. Less so when the government takes land regularly by eminent domain. And even less when it changes the rights of neighboring ranchers, loggers etc. arbitrarily.

My great-grandparents graveyard is now a parking lot, and no one protests.

Marty, it's productive to talk about it that way when the people who were despoiled of the land are *right there*. The Paiute Tribe still owns a lot of this wildlife preserve, under a treaty which gives the BLM the right to manage it, which is what my link is about. And the Paiute Tribe is *pissed*.

I have no problem at all with reverting all non-national-park public lands, such as are not being used by the federal government (this excludes some parts of Nevada, I think, and some rather profitable parts of CA) to state control.

Problem is: the states don't want it. It'd cost too much money to maintain. The only way to make that work is to do a gradual transfer, while giving the states time to figure out how to tax the citizenry in order to pay for upkeep, or, to some extent, how to dispose of the property.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, raising cattle is at least as much in the public interest as is raising corn. Once the ethanol mandate goes away: even more so.

But on the other hand: once the ethanol mandate goes away, corn prices will drop, and whatever need ranchers might have for a discount on grazing land might diminish.

I am frankly just pulling most of this directly out of by butt. This issues of government control of land is something that most of us don't think about; are conditioned not to think about, except for when a bunch of idiots and their Amazon-bought tacticoolery take over an abandoned building and forget to bring popcorn.

All of the coastal waters of Massachusetts, including Boston Harbor, are under federal authority almost exclusively.

Good point, that. And, federal regulation of where folks can fish / what they can catch / how much they can catch is a huge PITA for a lot of people, but also makes it more likely that there will still be fish in the ocean 50 years from now.

Any chance of a link to Michael Cain's blog?

I live to serve. Highly recommended.

In the Eastern half of the country, spoils of the war against Native Americans became the personal property of individual white people, via auctions, bribes, squatting, and all manner of chicanery.

In my area (north-east MA), land ownership was, originally, mostly via royal grant - the king gave either outright ownership or right of use to one or another of his buddies - and then it was kind of parcelled out from there, over the years.

The 'fighting the indians' part was kind of a secondary phenomenon. Not so much a path to ownership, just a basic requirement, assuming you wanted to do anything with the land.


I guess a lot of my question has to do with this word.

Is it really arbitrary? Is it always arbitrary?

Or is it a matter of trying to negotiate different interests?

In the case of the Malheur refuge, the birding community, of all groups, have taken public exception to the actions of the Bundys et al.

Why are the interests of ranchers of greater weight than the interests of birders?

Or, pick any example you like.

"My great-grandparents graveyard is now a parking lot, and no one protests."

That's why vultures and their human relatives circle overhead until we die.

Someone would protest if someone else turned a parking lot into a graveyard. Less lucrative.

But I agree that Transcanada should stop suing the federal government for refusing to take land by eminent domain:



Like everything. Especially the rights the farmers and ranchers had before.

Not that I minded much of any of this until recent decades when certain types started to make a BFD about everything under the sun.

If the Paiute had taken over the refuge structures, Ted Cruz and a host of vultures would be up there right now in fake camo and with a weapon pointed in all directions to get them out of there.

So they could claim the land for pipeline right-of-way and the new Disney frontier Gabby Hayes shoot-em-up memorial and tramway.

Because he's so knowledgable.

"Why are the interests of ranchers of greater weight than the interests of birders?"

Because very few birders make a living at it.

Isn't this normally where the Free Market affectionadios pipe up and tell the individual citizens that if they can't make a good living w/o the government stepping in and giving them a competitive advantage, they need to suck it up or seek gainful employment elsewhere? Or does that argument only apply to labor, not capital?

Yes, birders. They will play a vital role in my plan, still being fleshed out, to clear the Malheur of the malcontents.

See, here's the thing.

Birders aren't human consumers, they are human enjoyers of one of the aesthetic wonders of Nature, which ipso fatso makes them vaguely unAmerican and likely to provoke gunfire from Ted Nugent, whose favorite word is "yummy" when interacting with other species or underaged groupies who find their way backstage.

The Wise Use people and the Sage Brush Rebellion folks before them and now the Bundy tortoise interrupters have other ideas about "resource utilization". If you can't shoot it and eat it, or fatten it and eat it, or just shoot it and leave it lie there, then you haven't capitalized, rationalized, in an efficient manner, the world's resources to their full extent, which God stipulated in holy writ.

They want use of public lands without limit. This does NOT mean they want to be good stewards of resources for later generations of hunter's, fisherman, and your more aesthetically-inclined outdoorsmenwomenchildren. It also doesn't mean that they are against birders doing their thing, but the birders should be aware that when they finally spot that double-tufted flapdoodle, near extinction, an Oath Keeper has every right to shoot that double-tufted flapdoodle and then send his dog, in a noisy off-road vehicle, to pick it up for later drying and jerking AS the birder observes the now dead bird through his or her glass.

There'll be no regulation and suchlike.

Heck, if not for the Saudis and Iranians pumping oil like there is no tomorrow, the birders will be asked to move for fracking.

And if anyone thinks the States are going to raise taxes and shell it out to protect anything handed over by the federal government, think again, because Grover Norquist has most western legislatures sewed up tight with pledges out the wahoo to prevent any such thing.

Colorado is more sensible in this regard because the color blue has purpled the red.

Also, Marty, why should a smaller number of citizens' desire to use public property to garner a profit a priori trump a larger number of citizens' desire to use public property in a way that doesn't make them money? I'm sure there are plenty of developers who'd gladly apply the "make a living at it" logic to command exclusive usage of the National Mall for commercial purposes if we applied that logic broadly...

I am kind of with NV and the Count, here. TANSTAAFL. If you want to use land that is not yours, learn to live within the rules.

Also, don't set fire to the place, because it's not yours.

I completely sympathize with the POV that 5 years for burning some scrubland is way too excessive. If this had been the first offense, it would be far too much. If they had burned a building that wasn't theirs, I could see a stiffer penalty. As it is, I'd think you'd fine them for a first offense (fine being for various real expenses plus punitive), a bigger fine for the second offense, and a third offense would involve jail time.

I think I've heard that this was their second or third arson. If they were allowed to slide on earlier occasions, that's a problem all around.

Because very few birders make a living at it.

I have the same question as NV.

Why should money-making use automatically trump other uses or interests?

And/or, should money-making uses be subject to limitation, for purposes of sustainability or to keep the land available for other uses in addition to the money-making ones?

I completely sympathize with the POV that 5 years for burning some scrubland is way too excessive

FWIW, I also agree that 5 years for burning grazing land is excessive. Sending a guy in his 70's to jail for years for a non-violent offense, likewise.

My understanding is the the Hammonds had a history of conflict with the feds, but that doesn't really change my opinion on that point.

The law as written seems ill-thought-out. Laws intended for acts of terror shouldn't be able to be applied to ranchers burning public grazing land, deliberately or otherwise. Mandatory minimums are a bad idea, full stop.

All IMO..

The law as written seems ill-thought-out. Laws intended for acts of terror shouldn't be able to be applied to ranchers burning public grazing land, deliberately or otherwise. Mandatory minimums are a bad idea, full stop.

The 'terror' laws ALL have this kind of effect and it's why they are BAD laws. They can EASILY be used in ways advocates didn't expect and applied in whatever way the enforcers want.

Apparently, the elder Hammond threatened the lives of folks just trying to do their jobs back in the day.

Walk up to someone on the street or in a bar and see what that behavior gets you. Eat your Skittles before it's too late to enjoy them.

You want a bullet or the jail time?

Heck, why shouldn't government employees claim protection under "make my day" laws against these mortal threats?

But the Bundys got away with it, big time. That sets a very bad precedent. Mostly because it gives me ideas.

Agreed, five years is overkill. But if I set fire to the Hammond's private grasslands, what kind of time am I looking at?

Probably none, because they would shoot me in the head.

I agree that minimum sentencing laws are a crock.

We can thank the Citizen Initiative Process in some states and the Democratic Party's cowardly caving in 1986 to conservative hysteria over crime, especially over drug crimes. Especially black drug crime.

Three strikes and you're out, even if the third strike was a purloined pepperoni pizza in California. 1994.

Why isn't Cliven Bundy being Willie Hortoned?

The NYT has published several opinion pieces on this--here is one on the history of the preserve which debunks ( yet again) the heroic myths about rugged individualist Utopias that used to exist before the government stepped in.


Gabby Hayes

had to look that one up, because it didn't seem like you'd be talking about Gibby Haynes and Disney in the same sentence.

All of the coastal waters of Massachusetts, including Boston Harbor, are under federal authority almost exclusively. That's not thought of as a federal vs. state/local issue because it's always been that way

But the Oregon lands in question have always been under Federal authority, too. The vast majority of the land west of the Mississippi started out as Federal. A chunk gotten given out for homesteading as the railroads were built. (Square mile chunks on alternative sides of the tracks, if memory serves.)

The Homestead Act(s) provided for further land to pass into private ownership. But a) the more recent acts limited the homesteads to 1 square mile (the earlier ones were a quarter of that), and b) homesteading (outside Alaska) was discontinued in 1976.

So it would seem that what the protesters are objecting to is that they were born too late. For which they should be blaming their parents, not the Federal government. ;-)

The vast majority of the land west of the Mississippi started out as Federal.

It's hard to think of any that didn't.

Oregon, specifically, and what became the Oregon Territory, were a bit of a jump ball until the mid-19th C. because multiple countries claimed it. We basically shared it with the Brits from about 1818, then split it at the 49th parallel in the 1850's. The Brits got BC and Vancouver.

That, the Louisiana Territory, and what we took or bought from Mexico, accounts for pretty much everything west of the Mississippi, I think.

Pretty much all land, in the world, is the spoils of some war or another. Looking at the land in that way is neither illuminative or productive.

Some war or another, sure, but not the same war involving the same people under the same circumstances at the same point in history. They're all different. It's like saying all wars involved some human beings or others, so discussing wars in terms of human beings is neither illuminative or productive. I could make the same statement about all of human history to heighten the absurdity.

And even less when it changes the rights of neighboring ranchers, loggers etc. arbitrarily.

How so? It's simply another aspect of the relevant history. Maybe you could expand on your particular reasoning here, or was it just something you blurted out in a generalized kvetch without any particular reasoning?

The US government spent over half a century trying to give the land in question (and much of the West) to to anyone who would accept title and "improve" it. The Hammond progenitors apparently accepted ownership of a huge landholding, adjoining what is now Malheur, but there were limits to their appetite, maybe because it was and is a vast, fluctuating wetland, which in the 19th century was regarded as "wasteland", unfit for exploitation.

Now their great-grandchildren feel entitled to act as if they own the land their ancestors refused. I find it hard to sympathize -- without the initial federal largesse, they would own no land at all.

Incidentally, the Malheur marsh, formerly an important flyway site for Western migratory waterfowl, is now almost completely degraded by European brown carp, which have destroyed most of the emergent vegetation and thus most of the native species. Repeated efforts to mitigate this invasion have failed.

Russell, I was thinking particularly of California (although, now that I think of it, Texas qualifies, too, and maybe parts of New Mexico as well). Big chunks of all were owned by private individuals before ever they became US territory. But for the rest, yeah, pretty much all of it started Federal.

Ah, I was thinking of TX as having come in via the Mexican War.

Which is sort of true, but TX was its own country, with likely a significant amount of private ownership, at the time it became a state.

Everyplace was someone else's first, and will likely pass on to another someone else, or something else, depending on how much time passes before SMOD.

what joel hanes said.

when Nevada joined the union, there were maybe 9,000 people living there. most of the land was uninhabitable, and economically unvaiable at 160 acres a crack. Even with a bigger allotment, homesteading did not work.

So basically, the public has subsidized the use of this land (mining, ranching, tourism) ever since.

As a member of that public, I'm not yet willing to sell.

If the feds had just 'given' this land to the new state (fyi, a procedure not followed anywhere east of the mississippi)you can be sure it would have created an instant landed aristocracy.

just what our democracy needs!

The relationship between westerners and the public lands is... complicated. My perspective is based on time spent on the permanent non-partisan legislative staff in Colorado.

When I say "the West", I mean the 11 states in yellow in the cartogram linked at the end of this comment, where state size reflects the size of the federal land holdings. From the perspective of federal lands, Texas doesn't make the cut. When Texas joined the Union, they gave up large areas of what are now New Mexico and Colorado, where they had a dubious claim, to the federal government in exchange for the feds not taking very much of the actual Texas.

If agriculture is involved, then the argument in the West is about water -- first, last, and always. At bottom, the ranchers in the Harney Basin don't care about anything except how much water they can divert. Absent that water, they're out of business. Oregon, like other states in the West, has its own laws for establishing water use rights. The big complaint about the feds and water is that case law in federal courts has established that the federal agencies aren't bound by those laws. If the feds decide to expand a wildlife refuge, and that they need a bigger share of the available water, they can simply take it -- starting tomorrow, and without owing anyone any compensation. State legislators, both rural and urban, live in a certain amount of fear of that power. Eg, if the feds decide they need more water running down the Colorado River in Utah, they could simply stop Denver's diversion of that water. There's a certain amount of resentment, as well, that federal legislators from Massachusetts or Alabama get as big a say in such a decision as those from Colorado.

The checkerboard pattern of land grants is much more extensive than comments that have mentioned it suggest. The purpose of those grants was only partially to establish right-of-way for the railroads; at least as important was that the railroads were expected to sell the land in order to finance their construction budgets. State legislatures have wanted to normalize the land holdings because certain federal classifications can make the private parts of the checkerboard worthless. There's never been much incentive for the feds to give up that power.

A common statement from eastern folks is that westerners can't be trusted to "care for" the public lands -- the states would turn the ranchers and lumber companies and mining concerns loose to rape and pillage. A hundred years ago that was probably true. Worth noting that the initiative and recall provisions in most western state constitutions grew directly out of eastern timber and mining companies buying key votes in western legislatures to enable exactly that kind of behavior. Today, western states generally -- and there are exceptions -- charge higher grazing fees than the feds and hold mining companies to tougher reclamation standards than the feds.

Rural resentment over federal land policies rises and falls over a roughly 30-year cycle. We're around the peak of such a cycle these days. This time around we're also seeing a lot of in-state resentment. The West, in terms of its population, has always been less rural then the myths. That's more true than ever, and in this cycle we're seeing more rural secession movements: Colorado's 51st State movement, the State of Jefferson folks in northern California and southwest Oregon, etc. We're also seeing the rural folks demanding that the public lands be turned over to the counties, not the states, since the western urban areas that increasingly dominate the state legislatures are not likely to be any better than the feds, from the rural perspective.


good points Michael Cain.

There's a certain amount of resentment, as well, that federal legislators from Massachusetts or Alabama get as big a say in such a decision as those from Colorado.

Equally, there is a certain amount of urban resentment at the over-representation of rural states in the U.S. Senate.

I smell compromise....but alas, it would appear that these folks are just a sliver of the population even in those states.

They've hit the big-time now:


It's now a whole new ballgame, folks.

The ha-ha part of it is over. Time for serious people to move in.

Like Marty said, it will be a historic mistake to ignore Trump.

He and a few members of Congress lending legitimacy to these clowns certainly shouldn't be ignored by law enforcement.

As in whatever FBI division investigates domestic insurrection and seditious conspiracy.

Historic indeed.

So was the Shays Rebellion.

George Washington, the well-known liberal cross-dresser, came out of retirement to urge a stronger central government to counter this kind of crap.

Take it up with him.

Step One of My Plan:

To split the clown loyalty as to which location to defend, the Feds need to arrest Cliven Bundy and whatever militia remnant remain at the Bundy compound in Nevada for the numerous crimes he has committed against the American people regarding grazing fees in arrears and threatening federal employees and locals with murder during that insurrection. This might draw the two Bundy Brothers back from Oregon and they can be apprehended and arrested in transit or taken out as they drive their 4 by 4s on roads I f*cking paid for.

This will reduce manpower at the Oregon site and also deplete their food stores because I'm sure the Bundy boys will demand that the Cheetos and Slim Jims and most of the water supply leave with them or there will be hell to pay.

Step Two:

This rodeo clown stool needs a third leg to make things interesting and take some of the pressure off the hated government.

Organize a several hundred-person strong liberal militia, though moderates will be welcome as well, to train for wintertime warfare and with military weaponry. Cross-country skiing aptitude would be helpful. Deploy at the northern, western, and eastern borders of the preserve and move mostly at night because eastern Oregon is high desert and somewhat open country, to positions surrounding the Fish and Wildlife structures and begin paintball sniper harassment of the subjects.

The militia should be made up of equal parts birdwatchers and tree huggers, Black Lives Matter activists, survivors and family members of those murdered at the Murrah Building in Oklahoma by the precursors of these jackasses, and ... because what would vengeance be without them .. just some plain crazy motherf8ckers who are looking to f*ck the right-wing up once and for all and forever.

Someone goes out for a smoke, take them out.
By which I mean depants them, blindfold then and face them into the deep back country for their final hike.

Disable their vehicles at night. Set up a sound system at full volume and blast Vietnamese pop music, Muslim calls-to-prayer, and native American war chants 24-hours a day.

If that doesn't work, play Ted Nugent's Cat Scratch Fever at high decibel levels until the cows go away. Turn up the treble way high.

This will cause even the so-called veterans among the perpetrators who didn't see combat in any recent wars or even leave stateside to shit their camo briefs as they experience false flashbacks of gooks and towelheads they only made up raping and murdering in their fever dreams on the internet to impress Moe Lane over at Redstate.

They'll run screaming into the militia's waiting arms.

Should the miscreants not get the hint, begin mixing in real ammo with the distance paintball marksmanship.

Don't kill them -- I'm not the violent sort -- but use a little sense unlike the conservative cops who shoot unarmed black kids in the back thirty times and just craze them. Shoot their cowboy hats off. Bust every window in the joint.

If possible, kidnap the idiots who stray away from the compound too far and strap them to the odd tree or rocky prominence visible from the compound and tickle their exposed bare feet so its sounds like they've gone mad with cackling and pleading to stop the torture.

Now if the clowns shoot back with live ammo, the militia should act like republicans and make everyone's day with live ammo right between the eyes.

Take this so far that the right-wing douchebags inside the compound finally make the call to the government to please by God come protect us and get our butts back to town.


Deploy autonomous and very heavily armed liberal militia cadres to locate the families of these jackelopes across the country and seize their properties and hold them for protection against the wrath of the American people. If the liberal militia members own cattle or other ruminants, bring them along and let them graze gratis on the lawns and shrubbery of these patriots' property.


What would a an armed liberal militia attack and takeover be without addressing the presence of NRA headquarters and personnel on American soil?

Details on that later.

The law as written seems ill-thought-out. Laws intended for acts of terror shouldn't be able to be applied to ranchers burning public grazing land, deliberately or otherwise. Mandatory minimums are a bad idea, full stop.


Well, for starters, the 5 year minimum isn't exactly out of line with state laws. Arson has, historically (and by 'historically" I mean "back to English Common law and before. Heck, there's some choice tidbits about arsonists in the Bible) been treated as being right below "murder" in terms of severity of punishment.

Which makes sense, if you think about it. Fire spreads. The difference between burning an acre of your land and 100,000 acres of your fellow's lands is based a lot on luck. Best not to set fires you can't control if you're not bonded, insured, and as expert as possible.

Secondly, given the damages from the two fires (high six figures), 5 years (served concurrently was the deal after they were convicted on those two counts) is actually a really sweet deal for 6 figures in damages.

The arson change slipped into the terrorism law was really small, and utterly unrelated to terrorism -- except for the fact that federal property might be targeted.

Were I King of America, the only change I'd make is giving some flex in the minimums based on costs. 5 years for anything over 100k in damages would be about right. That'd be a class A felony in Texas, and a class-A arson felony is...well, 5 years would be a sweet deal.

I hear a lot about "It was only 150 acres" and "there was nothing there" and "it's a drop in the bucket compared to the total federal land there" and I think "The difference between a 150 acre fire and a 100k acre fire that destroys towns is...wind, really.". Especially given the SECOND fire, the 1 acre one? During a burn ban, forcing nearby firefighters to have to relocate because it got into the way of the fires they were already fighting.


What I was getting at was applying a law written as an 'anti-terrorism' statute to a guy burning public grazing land.

Terrorism has become the home of one-stop-shopping for forms of federal over-reach that, IMO, really are dangerous. Again, IMO, it's helpful, as a step toward countering that, to be discerning about what gets labelled 'terrorism' and what doesn't.

I don't see the Hammond public land burns as terrorism. I don't see that they were trying to frighten anybody, I don't see that they were trying to influence public policy or actions (at least with the burns).

It wasn't terrorism, so laws intended to combat terrorism shouldn't apply to them.

The expansion of the application of 'anti-terror' laws has created a small universe of BS. I'm agin it.

I'm against mandatory minimums, period, because they remove the opportunity for judges to, basically, exercise judgement.

I have no argument with your points about the harmfulness of arson.

From the Count's link:

[Jerry DeLemus] apparently arrived with a videographer Wednesday night in Oregon, where he plans to meet with militants and help them sort out rumors circulating about various participants.

Residents of New England will recognize the DeLemus name as being famous for truly first-class wing-nuttery.

Apparently there are rumors of a federal informant among the patriots.

I love the bit about the videographer. Don't leave home without one.

What I was getting at was applying a law written as an 'anti-terrorism' statute to a guy burning public grazing land.
It wasn't terrorism! They weren't TRIED as terrorists. They were tried as arsonists!

People keep saying that because in 1996, there was a pretty big terrorism bill that fiddled with the arson mandatories. It was already a federal crime to burn federal property, and it already had a minimum.

The bill was passed back in the 90s, and the arson changes were actually aimed at eco-terrorists and the crazy ALF folks who kept burning stuff down.

But they applied to ALL arson. Not special "terrorist" arson. There is no special "terrorist" arson charge (well, I suppose a RICO charge?). There's just "federal arson".

In fact, the bulk of the changes involved increasing the minimums for cases were someone was hurt or badly killed.

And again, as I've said -- 5 years for the damage caused is a sweet deal. Had they burned down such land in Texas, and been tried under Texas law? 5 to 99 years. 20k to 100k in damages runs between 2 and 20 years.

(Plus fines, but fines don't cover damages. They're just fines).

So to sum up: There is no special 'terrorism' charge, it's just arson. The 'terrorism bill' in general was passed in 1996 due to a raft of federal and private property getting burnt down, and it was entirely limited to altering the already existing minimum/maximums in the law.

So I just really want to be crystal clear on that point: There is no special "terrorism" charge for arson. There was no "treated as terrorists". All the 1996 bill -- which was BEFORE 9/11 -- did was change some of the mandatory penalties for something that was already a federal crime.

And their punishment, 5 years for two counts of arson serviced concurrently is remarkably light given the amount of damages, compared to the same charge in states.

In fact, the minimum in Oregon (under state law) would be 7 years (if it was determined that there was a threat to any people, which the second fire might have counted). As a class A felony (no threat to people), it would have been a Class A felony (property damage over 50k) and sentencing would have been between a few years and 20 years, depending on past criminal history.

As to mandatory minimums -- I have problems with them as well, but arson has always been punished harshly. The Hammonds got off lightly, even with the minimums.

What I was getting at was applying a law written as an 'anti-terrorism' statute to a guy burning public grazing land.
I just want to re-iterate: They applied federal arson law to the guys. Not some special anti-terrorist law.

Regular, plain, arson law that applies to any man, woman, or child that sets fire to federal property. White, black, Muslim, Catholics, Crazy Animal Liberation Front, Rancher Who Gives Zero Crap About Fire Spreading, whatever.

There exists ONE federal law against arson -- which sayeth "It's illegal to burn down federal property, and here are the punishments for doing so -- and the punishments break down into "You burned down federal property" and "You burned down federal property and someone died".

Note the complete absence of "You were a burning things as a terrorist". It doesn't exist. There's no separate federal law called "Arson because you're a terrorist".

They were convicted of plain, regular, boring, basic arson.

By the way, on behalf of the Three Stooges, I reject any comparison of the Oregon nuts to Moe, Larry, and Curly.

I didn't spot a seltzer bottle among their provisions.

If Moe Howard slapped the lot of them, they'd shoot him dead, their humor glands having been backed up since birth.

"A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down the pants" would not elicit a even a smirk from this crowd.

So, they aren't Chuckles the Clown either.

They have the humor of Atlas Shrugged, which is to say .. none.

David Neiwert weighs in.

Shades of the Bolsheviks vs. the Left Socialist Revolutionaries? Nah. Pure unadulterated farce.

...were someone was hurt or badly killed.

So, nicely killed is OK? ;-)

wj: But the Oregon lands in question have always been under Federal authority, too

That doesn't really hold true in this corner of the state:



Or a more opinionated take on the history:


And to back up Morat20, it should be noted that the fires set by the Hammonds had people fleeing out of concern for their safety on more than one occasion:


What they did to Dusty is pretty nasty stuff, too. But not arson.

I think my objection to the 5-year sentence for arson is pretty well explained by this Wikipedia article.

Relevant bits:

Historically, the common law crime of arson had four elements: 1.The malicious 2.burning 3.of the dwelling 4.of another[6] The malicious – for purposes of common law arson, "malicious" refers action creating a great risk of a burning. It is not required that the defendant acted intentionally or willfully for the purpose of burning a dwelling.[original research?]burning – at common law charring to any part of dwelling was sufficient to satisfy this element. No significant amount of damage to the dwelling was required. On the other hand mere discoloration from smoke was insufficient. Actual damage to the material from which the structure was built is required.[7] Damage to surface coverings such as carpets and wallpaper is insufficient.[7] Arson was not limited to the burning of wooden structures. Any injury or damage to the structure caused by exposure to heat or flame is sufficient.of the dwelling – dwelling refers to a place of residence. The destruction of an unoccupied building was not considered arson, "since arson protected habitation, the burning of an unoccupied house did not constitute arson." At common law a structure did not become a residence until the first occupants had moved in and ceased to be a dwelling if the occupants abandoned the premises with no intention of resuming their residency.[8] Dwelling includes structures and outbuildings within the curtilage.[9] Dwellings were not limited to houses. A barn could be the subject of arson if it was occupied as a dwelling.of another – burning one's own dwelling does not constitute common law arson, even if the purpose was to collect insurance, because "it was generally assumed in early England that one had the legal right to destroy his own property in any manner he chose."[10] Moreover, for purposes of common law arson, possession or occupancy rather than title determines whose dwelling the structure is.[9] Thus a tenant who sets fire to his rented house would not be guilty of common law arson,[9] while the landlord who set fire to a rented dwelling house would be guilty.

May not be consistent with the legal definition of arson, but a couple of things:

Accidental ignition of a wilderness area appears not to fit the above definition of arson. It's like having a leaf fire in your backyard and having it spread to a neighbor's property. Negligent, but not deliberate.

Not trying to excuse what they did; just laying out my thinking in the matter. I think they committed a crime, but possibly more along the lines of someone who accidentally causes a large-scale forest or grass fire while illegally building a campfire on a non-burn day. Not exactly that, but along those lines.

If you read worn's rather detailed links, they lay out the extent of the fires started as established in court, and on both occasions they were by intent significantly larger in scope than a single campfire.

Apparently there are rumors of a federal informant among the patriots.

A federal informant? Oh, my sweet summer child...

Owned by the Feds means owned by all of us. It is a complete lie when people suggest that the land s is "locked up" or a part of a big government take over and all that crap.

I grew up on federal land. Every summer we went camping for three months and traveled all over the US on BLM, National Forest and BLR land. We shared the land with loggers, sheep herders, cattle ranchers and other campers hikers fishermen and so on. All federal land is managed for multiple use.

The culture of the West is founded on a lie: the lie that the people are independent and self-reliant and want to be left alone by big government. in reality the Western states are dependent upon federal tax dollars and subsidized access to public owned resources. Without that influx of federally funded support, the peopel of the west would have to move to the cities.

One example of this is ranching. I'll describe one specific area. There's a long valley in Wyoming with a reservation, private land, a fedrally funded irrigation projecta nd National forest. the ranchers got the good bottom land away from the Indians shortly after the reservation was established. None of the privately owned properties are big enough to support a ranch so the ranchers run cattle in our National Forrest. They pay below market value for the leases that give them access. They continually try to violate their leases and over greaze our land. The expect our taxes to be used to kill our wildlife on their behalf. The cattle destroy stream beds and degrade the fishing. Our taxes are used to maintain access roads for the loggers, ranchers and sheep herders. Those roads alos provide access for hunters and poachers.

The irrigation project in the valley was built with federal tax dollars to benefit the white ranchers.

See what I mean? Independent, my ass.

And ranchers do not provide much to the local econolmy. They don't hire except seasonally and don;t pay much. Many Western states have tax structures intended to protect those who have land as their primary asset.

Typically the local economy in the rural West is based on the few living wage jobs with some aspect of the government, yes, that evil big government: the school, the local office of the Forest Service, the BLM, the Post Office and so on. Those are the jobs that give people money to spend at the local store or auto repair shop.

And then there is the inevitable local pork barrel water project.

Mean while it is part of the local culture to sneer at the Indians for being on welfare, to vote for Republicans who are going to cut taxes and end big government programs, to claim to be the "real stewards" of the land while constantly trying to get away with more over grazing.

Entitlement. That's what the West is all about. people who feel entitled to have their lifestyle supported by the tax dollars of the people who live in cities and expect to have unregulated subsidized access to public owned resources.

That's what the occupation in Oregon is all about.

best description i've seen : "white privilege performance art"

wonkie, that is without even a close competitor the best thing I have seen written about this situation. Thanks for taking the time to articulate it.

Morat20, I have no real argument with the points you're making.

The only point I was attempting to make was that laws passed under the cover of an 'anti-terror' motivation have come to be applied in a variety of contexts not related to terrorism. Which, IMO, is not a good thing.

All of that is sort of peripheral to the basic topic under discussion, so I'm happy to leave it.

But I have no significant disagreement with the points you're making.

slarti, I think the history of the Hammonds and their relationship to the feds who manage the Malheur property provides sufficient motivation for the feds to come down hard on them. It wasn't their first time around with the feds, and in the case of the first fire in particular it's not at all clear that it was a simple matter of an innocent backfire going out of bounds.

wonkie, thanks as always for your thoughts on this. well said.

More ranting: I have gone on hitchhiking trips through the West several times and have spent hours chatting with loggers and ranchers and people who grew up in rural areas in the West. Besides the assumption of entitlement there is also a very widespread adn completely erroneous assumption of knowledge about ecology.

Some examples: a lawyer (government job, BTW) who gave us a ride through the Swan Valley commented that the National Forest was obviously being managed well because their were deer al over the place. This was a guy who was born in the Swan Valley and was mad at government regulations on the timber companies . He thought more trees should be cut down. Our trees. Our land. He thought they should be cut down to create jobs. No one has ever exploited a public resource to create a job for me. But the point I wanted make is this: deer are not forest creatures. They are edge habitat creatures. The presence of large numbers of deer doesn;t mean the forest is a healthy ecological area; it means the opposite! But you will hear that kind of crap a lot" "I lived here all my life so I know all about nature and it we are heloing the ecology by destroying public land for our own short term economic advantage".

Another example: This guy in a w\weird vintage car laughingly told us that as long as there were trees in the National Forest, he would always have a job--unless "those environmentalists" interfered.

A very pleasant young mad told us he was a logger except when the forest was on fire Then he fought fires. He commented that the lack of fire that summer had been hard on him financially I asked if people ever set fires to get jobs putting the fires out. YOu should have seen the look on his face.Guilty! He said something like, "Hush! That's our little secret." This was back before the fires got so devastatingly bad,

Which brings up the issue of why are the fires of the West so devastatingly bad? Because of one hundred years of fire suppression, a terrible policy imposed in large part because of pressure from timber companies.

I can think of very little good in terms of public land management that has come from the people using the land for their own economic benefit. Being closer, even having a life-long closeness to a particular locality does not make a person wiser in the management. More likely to so the opposite.

on both occasions they were by intent significantly larger in scope than a single campfire

I thought I had mentioned that the campfire comparison wasn't really a close one. Ah, well.

Look: it's not against the law to torch your own property. It is against the law to deliberately torch another's property. It's also against the law (lesser crime) to, through negligence, burn government property.

As I see it.

And, russell, I believe I have mentioned I am aware of their prior run-ins with the authorities. They're not nice people; I am under no illusions on that count.

for example... this guy wants to drain the ancient water from under the Mojave.

It's also against the law (lesser crime) to, through negligence, burn government property.

...not that the courts appear to have come to the conclusion that either occasion was the result or mere negligence...

And, russell, I believe I have mentioned I am aware of their prior run-ins with the authorities.

Ah, indeed you did. My bad, thanks for pointing that out.

not that the courts appear to have come to the conclusion that either occasion was the result or mere negligence

I'm aware of the charge that they set the fire to cover up poaching. I'm also aware that they claimed to have set the fire to, quoting loosely here, eradicate invasive (but unspecified) plants from either their own property, or government property, or both.

There are just a lot of details that I don't have sorted out in my head. I think the main point is that you shouldn't, as a first measure, put someone in prison for five years for what appears to be minor damage to government property, and which also appears not to include damage to buildings.

Again: I recognize they're not particularly nice people. All the more reason to have administered some just penalties earlier.

The invasive species was specified as juniper, FWIW.

Arson ain't the half of it:


I'd advise tens of thousands young black men in poor urban communities, those that haven't already been slaughtered in a hail of gunfire while unarmed, to sign up with right-wing militias and conservative paramilitary groups and even move in with western rancher families like the Bundys because not a f*cking thing will happen to them in this country if they threaten to murder Americans, especially public servants.

As the Skittle was a mark of Death and provide no protection for even slightly sketchy behavior in public for vast numbers of people like Trayvon Martin, so the Cheeto and the Slim Jim and the Dorito are bullet-proof talismans of protection from any societal retribution for right-wing threatening behavior with weaponry in this country.

It would be much safer for the poor black kids. They would be under the carte blanche protection of right-wing white privilege, an entitlement that knows no bounds. They could exhibit threatening behavior whenever and where ever they wished and toward whomever they wished without reaction or incident.

They would probably have to shine Bundy's and company's and NRA shoes and harvest the cotton lint from fat f*ck militia belly buttons to show their everlasting obeisance to these filth, but it's better than buying the farm because of an ill-advised reach around for a wallet or a package of Skittles in the presence of our domestic conservative uniformed paramilitary forces while minding their own business on a city street or during a routine traffic stop.

Additionally, I find extremely chilling NV's link above regarding the Oaf Keepers being tipped off, so they claim, by U.S. military Special Forces personnel regarding law enforcement movements in Oregon.

As in the prison systems, there is a strain of fascist, racist, anti-government machination by the right wing vermin in the military that has no place in our civilized arrangement of civilian/military separation, especially domestically, unless sedition has been committed, which it most assuredly has been in this case.

After all, if violent vermin want to threaten citizenry and public servants with military weaponry handed over to them by the conservative movement in this country, expect to die in return at the hands of military weaponry and tactics.

Make no mistake, some of these guys want to die this way. They believe that will spark right-wing armed rebellion against government on a national scale, as the conservative armed cockroaches, some of them subverting government from within those governments as we speak, swarm out from under the floorboards to put an end to liberalism, representative government, the irreligious, the secular, and the politically correct.

Except for one point of political correctness these filth can't abide: that once they start it, and they have already if you think about it, and the tens of millions of their fellow travelers join the war on the rest of America, all of them will be executed and killed.

Another point the right wing has right. The sooner than happens, the better, for the future viability of the United States of America.

A few comments:

1). Marty, the various claims by these terms about land stealing and such are wrong; the refuge was created and expanded by purchase.

2). Any overuse of laws against 'terrorism' didn' seem to be a big issue while a Republican was president.

3). Slartibartfast, setting fires on public land in extremely dry conditions IMHO ranks with setting an occupied dwelling on fire. Last I heard, 'wildfire' was and is an extremely serious danger Out West.

Slarti: Look: it's not against the law to torch your own property.

Uh, I'm pretty that depends. I can't burn my leaves on my front lawn in the fall. I'm pretty sure that I can't deliberately burn my house down either, even if no one else's property is harmed and it's not insurance fraud.

In fact, in much of the West it is flat out illegal to burn anything outside, even on your own property, during fire season. Fire season covering most of the time from late May thru October. The risk of it spreading is simply too great -- as we have learned from painful experience.

That's actually a good point, Barry. Slarti has argued that we're discussing a possible case of "mere" (gross?) negligence, but under the circumstances, and given the locale (and in the second instance, the burn ban) I'd say even if the court had not found intent as it apparently did, it would rise at least to the level of recklessness (which did not harm other individuals, but did endanger them and lead to a loss of personal property), and given that any acts committed on the arsonists' property were on the border of their property, claiming that the fires were on their property is a pretty hard sell in conditions where a reasonable person would assume the fire could spread off their land.

Which is to say, claiming five years to be excessive if we strip the decision of its context is rather unconvincing to me. These were not e.g. bonfires w/o a permit in the wet east, and there were signs of a pattern of misconduct as well. 5 years frankly doesn't sound all that unreasonable, certainly not when compared to other property crimes.

The Hammonds lit a series of fires, not just one isolated incident.

So yes, context matters when evaluating the sentence.

Anecdotally on the difference in attitudes about fire between east and west... A few years ago I went to a niece's wedding on the east side of the Great Plains. At the reception, they set loose a whole flock of those Japanese flying lantern things. The family contingent from the west side of the GP stood there aghast, asking "Are you insane? They're going to arrest us. And lock us up. And throw away the keys." None of the non-westerners thought anything about it.

Among the political class, there are enormous differences in attitudes towards certain things in East and West. Fire. Water. Federal land holdings in a macro sense, as in where can roads be built, or power lines to handle the needs of the large number of people who keep moving here. Citizen initiatives as the rule, not the exception.

"Why should money-making use automatically trump other uses or interests?"

I'm not sure they always should, but when generations of a family have made their living, livelihood, put food on the table, and the rules change to favor other interests I believe it is probably wrong.

Among the political class, there are enormous differences in attitudes towards certain things in East and West

As an aside, apropos of nothing in particular, I'll offer my pointless wish that more, rather than less, land was in public hands here where I live in north-east MA.

Any time an acre of undeveloped land (somehow, miraculously undeveloped, after almost 400 years of European settlement) becomes available, it sprouts a half-dozen McMansions before you have time to sneeze.

I'm getting to be on an almost first-name basis with the rabbits, racoons, wild (in name, anyway) turkeys, skunks, deer, and coyotes that are moving into my neighborhood, because every scrap of open land has been bulldozed and paved.

In my stupid little four-square-mile town, we have maybe, I don't know, 80 acres or so of undeveloped public land. Which is, actually, not too bad. Most of it's basically unbuildable - wetlands, swamps, big craggy outcrops of granite ledge - but I'm happy to have it, whatever it is. It's nice.

The pressure on undeveloped land where I live is intense. It's really hard on farmers, and it's really hard on wildlife, or last least such wildlife as we still have. It's hard on the river systems, on the wetlands, and on the ocean. It stresses the environment and the people who live in it in about a million ways, all the time.

Different places, different problems.

That is all.

but when generations of a family have made their living, livelihood, put food on the table, and the rules change to favor other interests I believe it is probably wrong.

What if 'other interests' have also gone on for generations?

How many generations does it take for your point of view to count?

One of the most, to me, bizarre things in the Cliven Bundy episode was his idea that because 'generations' of his family had lived near his ranch, he had some kind of grandfathered-in claim to the land.

Bundy stated that his family had been in the area 'since 1877'. My grandfather was born in 1877 or 1878. It's not a really long time ago.

If we're going to make claims based on 'generations' of a particular kind of use, we need to give it back to the Indians. Or maybe Spanish-speaking shepherds.

"I'm not sure they always should, but when generations of a family have made their living, livelihood, put food on the table, and the rules change to favor other interests I believe it is probably wrong."

In Marty's world view, Shane would have volunteered his services to established cattle baron Rufus Ryker and left the sod busters to rot.

This, after the rules changed with the Homestead Act of 1862.

Come back, Shane.

Sorry, Joey, your mother is fetching, but money calls. With cattle money I can buy ten of her at the Ryker cat house up in Casper.

Russell, Marty has explained the difference between developers putting food on the table by developing every square inch of land in your town and the rabbits, racoons, and wild turkeys, not to mention the larger surrounding environment being of no importance except as food on the developers' table, so I don't know why the persistence in believing your interests have any place in the decision-making process.


The question can be raised about the legitimacy of taking land from generations of established, productive ranchers and farmers to hand over to Transcanada for its pipeline too.

So far, the question comes without weapons raised in protest.

No wonder conservatives think the pipeline is a no-brainer, without question.

It's one thing if land which has been owned by generations of ranchers is taken away. I'd expect the government to have to make a really solid case for that -- and something far more serious than Kelo.

On the other hand, the fact that generations have been leasing public land, and are now having their use reduced? Not really sure they have much of a claim. And that's ignoring the massive subsidy involved in having their lease rates massively below what they would have had to pay to lease private land.

...when generations of a family have made their living, livelihood, put food on the table, and the rules change to favor other interests I believe it is probably wrong.

*Trying to resist bringing up Southern plantation owners in 1864... It burns!*

Don't forget the part where the whole time the private use of public lands have been governed by rules dictating that said private use is not to have a detrimental effect on the ostensible raison d'être for the federal reservation's existence, so that "the rules changing" wasn't so much the rules changing as the rules remaining the same, but over time the context in which those rules are applied changing.

Whango Tango, Count:).


Send in Vincent Price.

A remark in passing about the big federal water projects in the West. For the most part, the cost of construction and the operating costs are recovered from the sales of irrigation water and electricity, with the construction costs amortized over 50 years. Big dams are remarkably cheap to build -- the Hoover Dam was $49M (the contemporaneous Golden Gate Bridge was $35M). From a flow of funds perspective, the feds loaned the western states money they couldn't have raised otherwise, and the loans have been repaid by local beneficiaries. Pretty much the same story for the huge TVA construction in the South.

The biggest of the Columbia and Tennessee River dams would have been built in any case -- they were the only affordable source of enough electricity to meet WWII demand for aluminum.

Now, listen up you young whippersnappers, I've been hiking, and in the past cross country skiing as well, the Rocky Mountains for going on 40 years.

On my own two feet. Not a wilderness fanatic by any means, but I enjoy it. Sure, after, say, three days in the back country, I could kill for a cheeseburger and a shower.

Somewhere along the line, motorized vehicles, summer off road and snowmobiles alike, came onto the scene.

As well as dirt bikers and trail bicylists.

Conservatives, mostly, campaigned to open access to as much trail as possible to multiple use as opposed to we faggot, liberal tree huggers who thought maybe a little peace and quiet on foot in the outback seemed appropriately enough.

But O.K. have at it.

The park, trail, and land use rules changed on some of the lands, not all assuredly, to accommodate them and I didn't protest despite finding the noise of the motorized stuff annoying.

There's an unwritten code of courtesy and right-of-way on the trails as to who gives way first depending on who is heading up and who is heading down the trail.

Everyone, in my experience observes these courtesies.

Except once when a couple of teenaged trail bikers came down a steep trail, rocks and debris clattering along, at very reckless rates of speed behind my ex-wife and me and my son, who was seven or eight at the time. They yelled "on your left" but one of them didn't slow or stop, as they should have.

The other, I could tell, made an attempt to give us a wide berth. But the second idiot missed my son by about four inches.

When you are seven years of age and you have to make a decision about which is your left or right when you have something that can kill you bearing down FROM BEHIND which you can't yet see, it's tough to know how and in what direction to react,

Luckily, my son froze out of sheer fright. His knees were shaking afterward.

The bikers pulled up below about forty feet beyond us and the one who tried to avoid us made a half-hearted apology. I asked the other completely reckless one what he had to say. He tried to stare me down and made some contemptuous reference to my 7-year old's inability to tell his left from his right.

At that, I let the backpack I was carrying off my shoulders, dropped it, and took a couple of steps towards him and off they went down the rest of the trail and out of there.

The point --- I had first use with my feet of that trail, and they came along later with their bikes and I made room without protest.

Even with that one incidence of dangerous rudeness, I've never gone to a public meeting and argued that riders of various vehicles should be disallowed on public lands, federal, state, or local, because only some lands are designated for multiple use and some not, so fine.

Second point being, the Hammonds and the Bundys can adjust and go with the flow and the change like I did.

Or, they can go f*ck themselves like that punk trail biker just about did.

Incidentally, my son, now 26, is an inveterate camper and backpacker and technical rock climbs like a spider.

When he leaves a campsite, you can't tell he's been there.

Michael Cain is a find.


He's all facticity and balance to go with my fantastical a-little-to-the-left-of-whoopy yarns.

Michael Cain is a find.


If I could remember the admin password, I'd blog-roll him.


When he leaves a campsite, you can't tell he's been there.

Bless him. And you, for raising him well.

Done! I opted for Michael Cain's Random Policy rather than just Random Policy. Hope that's ok

I just wanted to agree with several other commenters about the east/west split in attitudes toward fire. I've lived all my life in Pacific states, and never been all that far from areas where wildfires are a real risk. I know that it's never possible to maintain 100% control over a fire, and the difference between a fire that burns a hundred acres and one that burns a hundred thousand is very often pure dumb luck. Every year, vast areas burn because of arsonists who wanted to do damage, and also because of people who thought they had a fire for a specific purpose under control. This is part of the fabric of life in the west.

I literally don't know anyone, of any political stripe, who isn't in favor of strong sentencing for arson on the same general principle as, say, firing guns at random toward a crowd of people. Even if you don't hit/kill anyone, your reckless disregard matters.

via Digby:


Not all easterners are casual about fire:

Maybe 15 years ago, I was at home one summer evening in NJ with my youngest, about age 4 -- I think the elder was out with her dad fencing, or something like that. It was raining lightly. I smelled smoke, walked around the house and couldn't find anything, but I looked outside and saw a layer of smoke in the trees of our wooded neighborhood. Feeling a bit like I was over-reacting, I called 911, then sat in the open doorway with my daughter until the Fire Chief arrived.

He quickly established that our new neighbors had decided to burn their moving boxes, inside an open steel drum. He told them to put it out and wrote a ticket. Then he came over to my house and thanked me for making the call -- he wanted to make sure that I didn't think I'd made a fuss over nothing.

In fact, about 5 years later one of our other neighbors' house caught fire (old wiring), and only working smoke detectors ensured no-one was hurt.

I like to look at foxnews.com's home page every few days, to see what kind of thing they think is important. They have had strikingly little about the Oregon standoff all along: today, for instance, there is *nothing* about it on the front page. Also nothing at breitbart.com.

I wonder if this is why the FBI is strikingly not in evidence -- no-one is shrieking at them, so they're trying "ignore the problem and hope it goes away" as a solution.

I too appreciate Michael's comments, but I hope these guys don't get away with it. They have been catered to and tiptoed around too long.

I can accept that there issues around western land, but I very much agree with wonkie. There is an awful lot of freeloading and mooching going on, by people who pretend to be strong independent government-hating types. If they want their complaints listened to, then they could start by dropping the cowboy attitude.


I'm wondering how these guys finance their revolutionary free time.

Are the Bundy boys trust fund babies? Is the dirty, arduous work of ranching and yippy ey ky ohhing so infrequent that they can take time off from helping the old man out while he rustles desert tortoises all by his high prairie lonesome?

What is the prevalence of SS disability, food stamps, Medicaid and military disability pensions etc among these drama queens and their misbegotten illegitimate children and boyfriends?

Do their wives hold two jobs? Do their mistresses hold a third job to keep the feedbag full?

Do they themselves have jobs? What are the leave policies?

One rancher from Arizona holding out up there complained that his own cattle on HIS ranch were now lost and heading down Route 66 because he wasn't tending them.

The word "steward" doesn't come to mind.

The words "dumbass twit" do.

And penultimate finally, what Republican party interest groups are funding them for an election year shootout lollapalooza if none of the above sources of funding are forthcoming?

And finally final, for Marty's and Drudges' sake, could it be that Hilary Clinton is funding this venture just like she was able to convince Monica Lewinsky to come out of retirement and blow Donald Trump to incentivize him to make a clown show out of the Republican Party, as if it needed the lubrication?

And do Cruz and Carson feel neglected?

Do the Oregon fellas have health insurance not provided by the dreaded federal you-know-what? Or when they arrive at the emergency room via flight for life, will my insurance rates go up to subsidize their multiple bullet and shrapnel wounds because they thought Obamacare meant their kidneys would be transplanted into Svetlana Stalin's poodle's abdomen?

If we made a movie of this, could special effects allow the late Slim Pickens to play all of the characters?

Are the Bundy boys trust fund babies? Is the dirty, arduous work of ranching and yippy ey ky ohhing so infrequent that they can take time off from helping the old man out while he rustles desert tortoises all by his high prairie lonesome?

The brothers co-own a diesel service company in Phoenix that one of the brothers operates. The other also operates a construction company of unknown (at least to me) size in the rapidly-growing SW corner of Utah.

The family situation is typical of the fundamental problem facing rural America: we ran out of available land (water in the West). It's hard to generate new jobs so kids have to move out when they get grown. Provision of services -- education, medical care, communications -- is increasingly problematic. This is not a new situation. More states than not have programs going back decades to try to get doctors and nurses to set up practices in rural areas. One of the most overlooked parts of the New Deal was its commitment that rural America wouldn't get left behind. The approach used then was mostly direct and indirect cash subsidies of the economy, and most of those programs are still in existence today.

I think it's a huge problem. I think it's the root cause for most of the urban/rural conflict we see today. But I've got exactly zero ideas about how to address it.


I think it's a huge problem. I think it's the root cause for most of the urban/rural conflict we see today. But I've got exactly zero ideas about how to address it.

As an abstract matter, which certainly should be favored by hardy, independent, free-market types, the solution is simple.

Let nature take its course. If the land and water won't support population growth then don't grow. Maybe even shrink.

Of course that creates a huge political problem, and lots of people don't want to move, for quite understandable personal and emotional reasons. To some degree I'm willing to tolerate that, but maybe we should be encouraging transition, sort of like welfare-to-work programs.

The US Census weighs in.

It's not just a political problem. Over-exploitation of water resources (which is what anyone in the west thinks of first) can lead to the kinds of ecological and environmental damage which has knock-on effects on people who had nothing to do with the original exploitation.

If you over-log, you get rain washing away the soil. Which, in turn, means that there will not just be no new timber growing, but also the water supplies on which cities hundreds of miles away will be damaged. And for decades, not just when the logging is going on. Not a problem for the loggers; they just move on. But those left behind are the ones suffering.

Which is why those other people, those city folks, make environmental laws which are so resented by the rural folks who have to work within them. Think of those laws being the ecology recovering from past problems by creating a new ecology which won't have the same problems again.


You are correct. What I meant by "political problem" is the idea of saying to rural dwellers in many areas,

"The environment won't support current population levels here. There is not enough land and water. There is going to have to be serious net out-migration to other areas."

Policies to speed up that process will be difficult to devise and enact.

A largely forgotten clash with authorities discussed here.

I've been looking at maps like the one bobbyp references my entire adult life, with particular attention to the Great Plains. It has been a fascinating thing, watching the original pattern of population spread slowly contract back towards the original rivers and railroads (less the few places where large oil and gas deposits have been found).

The GP offer a surprising variety of ecologies, and I love 'em all. But more and more I believe that the Poppers were right, and eventually we're going to give them back to the bison.

Most people misplace the GP, confusing them with the prairies farther east. My county-level map, using a Census Bureau document as source, and less four of the Colorado Front Range counties (that didn't fit a particular narrative), is here:

From Charles Pierce:

"Joe Oshaugnessy, an Arizona militiaman, has been actively seeking volunteers through social media to join the occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge…Jon Ritzheimer, the Arizona militiaman known for organizing anti-Muslim rallies and fundraising through his "Rogue Infidel" site, went to see Oshaugnessy at the motel and found him drinking there, according to Maureen Peltier, a disabled National Guard woman who claims to be the group's official spokeswoman. Peltier said Ritzheimer had confirmed that Oshaugnessy had kept the money he had raised through social media for himself and had spent at least some of it on a drinking binge.

It really is the Whiskey Rebellion!"

Why no armed violence here as property is ruined and taken?:


The Bandy Boys can't comprehend they may have crossed the law. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAus1lXNWGU

A pretty good discussion from the DFH's at Grist.

Doctor Science: Sorry, didn't mean to imply that no Easterner cares about fire. Obviously a bunch of yinz do. :) And of course there are Westerners who absolutely don't. But "fire bad!", with emphasis, is a particularly strong thing on this side of the country.

Russell, that's a good article.

You could say the ranchers have been Ubered. Their taxi medallions, so to speak, are plummeting in value.

Like every last one of us at one time or another, and more than once.

We've been downsized, rationalized, made redundant, fired at will, outsourced, and reduced in force. We've been WalMarted, Amazoned, rezoned, gentrified, secondhand smoked, minimum sentenced, redlined, back-of-the-bussed, robot-replaced, and sent to the reservations.

Wait until Amazon figures out how to grow beef in the virtual world and send it over toute suite for dinner after a text. Look ma, no hands! No ranch hands either.

We've been strip searched, told where to stand, told to stay on the trail, told where to sit, when to sit, how to sit, and who to sit with.

If you're homeless, don't even think about sitting.

We've been conceal carried and now we're going to be open carried. For guns.

But not for beer or liquor.

We're being fracked and earthquaked. We're surveilled by government and corporate out the wigwam.

We're about to be droned.

I know how they feel. Their long-sustained illusion that they are sovereign individuals is being crimped. They aren't people.

Corporations are people. Governments are the will of the people.

As far as grievances go, the Bundys and company can get in f*cking line, at the end. The back of the line is about thirty miles down the road (and who asked me if THAT road could be built?) round the other side of that far butte.

But no, they, and the Mafia, get to cut in line at the very front because they carry an item that can threaten and kill the rest of us.

I get it.

I wanna solve my problems that way too. It looks so simple ... and exciting. It's exquisitely tempting.

Let's all join em and give this outfit called a country the armed reckoning it seems to be hankering for.

Let's go from cubicle to cubicle in government AND corporate and just start taking the PEOPLE out.

What makes Wyatt Earp think he's more person than I am?


I am willing to buy out the ranchers' grazing privileges. I am.

But you're going to have to raise my taxes to do that.

Wait. We're not allowed to raise taxes, are we?

Because Grover Norquist has guns.

And I don't.

We see what needs to change here, don't we, so we can all get a piece of each other.

Try walking on these barons' lands without asking, and even then:


I can walk on most public lands. Cause they are owned in trust for me. I have to pay a fee on some. How come it's not prorated according to the number of steps I take on any particular hike?

Consider that question and assume I'm unarmed.

Now consider that question and assume I'm carrying a weapon.

See how that factor changes the nature and tenor of the so called free exchange of First Amendment opinions. Choose your words carefully.

If the Bundy meatheads walked into the bar, or the credit union, or the public park down the street from me and said to the owners, and the employees, and the rest of the customers: "All right, everyone, we're taking this here space over because of an assortment and buildup of grievances. All of you can now vacate and no one will get hurt. We don't want to hurt anybody, if the answer is yes sir. If the answer is no, well then, you and what army? If you think you're going to raise YOUR weapon to counter our weapons, go ahead, we can deal"

"Do we all understand the terms of the conversation?"

"Now get your city-slicker butts out of here and take your birds with you, except for that wild turkey right there. He's mine, because I'm a might bit peckish."

Get rid of the guns and ammo, including the gummint ones, and the corporate ones, and the individual ones, and let our First Amendment freak flags fly.

Or, let's all have guns, lots of them, and skip the jibberjabber all together and settle some questions once and for f*cking all.

If you read that comment in the voice of Matthew McConaughey as he plays "Rust" in the first season of "True Detective", in a kind of Louisiana bayou monotone, it will convey more of the ominous, portentuous end times are coming there ain't no love in them ruins edginess I intend.

Because I've been watching that show finally, I've been walking around my apartment doing that voice out loud for the last few days, so it kind of bleeds into the comments.

Last week, I was doing Jerry Lewis impressions. "Helllooooo, Laaaadies!"

I can't say whether that's why I live alone, or whether the habit is a result of living alone, but yeah, I'm a bit off my kazzip.


You can probably tell when I've been reading "Macbeth" too, or anything by Cormac McCarthey.

Bruce B.: "yinz" ???

Western PA?

Yes, Russell, thanks for the link. I hadn't realized that people were getting bank loans based on their grazing permits. It does put a rather different slant on the situation.

As with the author of that article, I still have no sympathy for these nut cases. But I at least understand one of the underlying grievances. I'm not sure I totally ageee, but I can at least see where they are coming from. (OK, I understand the "white empowerment - lack of" grievance, too. I just think it is utter bullsh*t.)

So the western ranchers are able to privately capitalize a public asset at no cost to them?

I was not aware of that. Thks.


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