On Rule Of Law

I’ve been mulling over two questions this past week and a half: what is the law if inconsistently applied? What is “rule of law” if the rule on which the law is based has been bastardized?

Those who wanted Cliven Bundy to remain in a court battle with the federal government have never been in a legal fight. They’ve never witnessed how a legal system can be used as a manner to delay justice instead of obtain it.

John Hinderaker speaks to this in a piece about the Bundy Ranch:

So it is possible that the federal government is driving Bundy off federal lands to make way for mitigation activities that enable the solar energy development to the north. But I don’t think it is necessary to go there. Rather–this is the second and more important point–it is obvious that some activities are favored by the Obama administration’s BLM, and others are disfavored. The favored developments include solar and wind projects. No surprise there: the developers of such projects are invariably major Democratic Party donors. Wind and solar energy survive only by virtue of federal subsidies, so influencing people like Barack Obama and Harry Reid is fundamental to the developers’ business plans. Ranchers, on the other hand, ask nothing from the federal government other than the continuation of their historic rights. It is a safe bet that Cliven Bundy is not an Obama or Reid contributor.

The new head of the BLM is a former Reid staffer. Presumably he was placed in his current position on Reid’s recommendation. Harry Reid is known to be a corrupt politician, one who has gotten wealthy on a public employee’s salary, in part, at least, by benefiting from sweetheart real estate deals. Does Harry Reid now control more than 80% of the territory of Nevada? If you need federal authority to conduct business in Nevada–which is overwhelmingly probable–do you need to pay a bribe to Harry Reid or a member of his family to get that permission? Why is it that the BLM is deeply concerned about desert tortoises when it comes to ranchers, but couldn’t care less when the solar power developers from China come calling? Environmentalists have asked this question. Does the difference lie in the fact that Cliven Bundy has never contributed to an Obama or Reid campaign, or paid a bribe to Reid or a member of his family?

So let’s have some sympathy for Cliven Bundy and his family. They don’t have a chance on the law, because under the Endangered Species Act and many other federal statutes, the agencies are always in the right. And their way of life is one that, frankly, is on the outs. They don’t develop apps. They don’t ask for food stamps. It probably has never occurred to them to bribe a politician. They don’t subsist by virtue of government subsidies or regulations that hamstring competitors. They aren’t illegal immigrants. They have never even gone to law school. So what possible place is there for the Bundys in the Age of Obama?

Bingo. What is the rule of law if the rule can be broken? What is the rule of law if it is inconsistently applied according to politics? If we’re going to discuss rule of law, this situation would have never happened in the first place. The Bundys and those who agree with them aren’t devaluing the rule of law, rather, they’re pointing out how those who have violated the rule of law are now trying to hold it up as a standard of measure. Bureaucrats writing their own regulations to later violate is a bad thing. Making a specious argument based on a situationally-endangered turtle is a bad thing.

I do disagree with Hinderaker here:

First, it must be admitted that legally, Bundy doesn’t have a leg to stand on. The Bureau of Land Management has been charging him grazing fees since the early 1990s, which he has refused to pay. Further, BLM has issued orders limiting the area on which Bundy’s cows can graze and the number that can graze, and Bundy has ignored those directives.

I think it’s premature to claim that Bundy doesn’t have a leg on which to stand. First, shouldn’t this be tried in a state court, not federal? Secondly, BLM can waive rights which have existed with the Bundy family, rights that supersede the BLM’s existence? This is one part of a very large argument: Bundy is contesting BLM’s authority here. The “M” stands for management, something designed to work with ranchers on lands, not against them. There is more to this story than this graph adequately addresses.

Previously on this.

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Harry Reid On The Bundy Ranch Saga: “It’s Not Over”

Via KRNV and video via the Washington Free Beacon:

If only Senator Reid felt that Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the NSA, and Rep. Elijah Cummings’s scandal was “not over.”

Previously: The Real Story Behind The Bundy Ranch Harassment

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The Real Story Behind The Bundy Ranch Harassment

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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The Western War: Last Remaining Rancher Vs The Federal Gov’t

Cliven Bundy is a 60-some-odd year-old rancher, the last remaining rancher in a southern Nevada county battling the Bureau of Land Management over his grazing rights. They’ve sent snipers, hundreds of heavily-armed agents, helicopters, and have closed roads and set up a heavily-mocked “First Amendment area.” They’ve taken 300 of his 900 head of cattle and reportedly killed a number of them. BLM claimed that it was to protect a desert tortoise that they are killing anyway. He told me in an interview today that he’s “paid for and inherited these rights” and explained that since the BLM’s recent arrival in the late 90s, they’ve tried to revoke a deal he and his family have had with the state of Nevada. You can listen to the full interview below.


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War On Women: Do Texas Democrats Pay Female Staffers Less Than Men?

Interesting, considering the narrative from chosen lightning rod, Wendy Davis. According the the Texas Tribune’s database on government employees, Texas Senate Democrats pay their male chiefs of staff roughly 37% more than they do their female counterparts.

The men:

Brandon Dudley Sen. Ellis $116,400
Gilbert R. Loredo Sen. Van De Putte $108,000
Sean Griffin Sen. Zaffirini $90,000
Luis M. Sanchez Sen. Lucio $96,000
Luis Moreno Sen. Hinojosa $75,000
Jason A. Hassay Sen. Uresti $90,000

The women:

Lara Wendler Sen. Whitmire $132,000
Sushma Jasti Smith Sen. Rodriguez $87,000
Susie A. Ramirez Sen. West $49,320
Sarah Howard Sen. Watson $56,592
Sara L. Gonzalez Sen. Garcia $54,000
Sonya Grogg Sen. Davis $42,000

Grogg is Senator Wendy Davis’s Chief of Staff. Daniel Buda was also previously listed as Davis’s Chief of Staff, and his salary was higher. Unless Senator Davis shows newer salaries than accessed at the end of last month, this seems to be a pretty big discrepancy from someone who plays the “war on women” card. Davis seems to share the White House’s pay inequality. I wonder if Democrat female staffers are “treated like meat” along with receiving lower pay?


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DLRS Interview: Senator Ted Cruz

Earlier today I spoke with Senator Ted Cruz about school choice, Ukraine, his relationship with Senator Rand Paul (despite media insistence that they fight), and more. Nine minutes.

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