Before I had quite figured out what to make of the Bundy Ranch standoff, it appears to have been resolved. The Bureau of Land Management has announced that in view of the risk of violence, it is withdrawing its forces, which include snipers, from the area. (How many federal agencies employ snipers, anyway? Too many, it is safe to say.) The county sheriff negotiated the terms of the federal government’s surrender with Cliven Bundy.
The federal agency did a number of dumb things. It tasered Bundy’s son Ammon and set a German shepherd on him, which gave rise to this meme:
When the standoff began, protesters flocked to the site. The BLM responded by establishing a “First Amendment Area” in the middle of nowhere:
That, too, generated foreseeable outrage:
As time went by, more and more allies showed up at the Bundy Ranch, pretty much all of them armed. The arrivals included some who described themselves as militias. Today there was an extraordinary scene that gave rise to this photograph. Hundreds of Bundy supporters, on horseback and, I assume, armed, told the federal agents that they were surrounded and had better give back the cattle they had confiscated:
Then we had this headline: 20 Cowboys Break Fed Blockade in Nevada, Retrieve Cattle. Sure, it’s Infowars, but it’s still a great headline.
The new head of the BLM, Neil Kornze, worked for Harry Reid as a policy adviser from 2003 to 2011. It is reasonable to assume that Reid got him the BLM job, and I would hazard a guess that Reid saw the situation turning into a public relations disaster–Nevada’s Governor and Senator Dean Heller, both Republicans, were more or less siding with Bundy–and told Kornze to give it up.
It still isn’t clear what the crisis was all about. Rumor has it that Reid wants the land for a giant solar farm that would be supplied by a Chinese company and, presumably, subsidized by the federal government. Reid’s son is apparently a participant in the deal. Whether that is true, I haven’t yet tried to figure out. One thing I will say with some certainty, however, is that tortoises had little or nothing to do with it.
It remains to be seen whether there will be much fallout from the Bundy confrontation. The root of the problem is the fact that the federal government owns most of the Western states, including more than 80% of the State of Nevada. That strikes me as completely irrational, and I don’t understand why there isn’t a stronger movement to turn most of that land over to local management.
UPDATE: Logan Churchwell and Brandon Darby have a sober assessment of the Bundy controversy at Breitbart News. You can also download pleadings from the Bundy II lawsuit at the link.
FURTHER UPDATE: I draw some conclusions about the government’s motives here.