Everybody’s Got a Cow Out Grazing


Ben Carson puts the case of Clive Bundy versus the Bureau of Land Management in an interesting light that goes right to the left-right Rorschach aspect of the controversy:

The massive show of federal force in the Bundy case is frightening because it gives us a brief glimpse of the totalitarian regime that awaits a sleeping populace that does not take seriously its voting responsibilities, and places in public office (and returns them to office) who do not represent traditional American values.

Somewhere in the shadows of time one imagines there may have been an actual incident to inspire the phrase “it depends whose ox is gored.”  In the ranges of Nevada, we have a perfect representation that ought to inspire a new folk phrase like “everybody’s got a cow out grazing.”

Look, for a start, to the Washington Post time line of the controversy (courtesy commenter Max D.):

March 1993: The Washington Post publishes a story about the federal government’s efforts to protect the desert tortoise in Nevada. Near Las Vegas, the Bureau of Land Management designated hundreds of thousands of acres of federal land for strict conservation efforts. “Among the conservation measures required,” according to the Post’s coverage, “are the elimination of livestock grazing and strict limits on off-road vehicle use in the protected tortoise habitat. Two weeks ago, the managers of the plan completed the task of purchasing grazing privileges from cattle ranchers who formerly used BLM land.”

Except, that is, Clive Bundy, who was “digging in for a fight.”  Most of the intellectual commentary on the issue, including Carson’s, includes disclaimers that his legal case is pretty spare, which is ultimately a tautology affirming that when the government gives itself powers, those powers are not against the law.

Those acres in Nevada are therefore a physical manifestation of areas of all human activity that government may or may not constrain in the future, and what better evidence of totalitarianism could there be?  It’s a complete inversion of the foundational principles of American governance, as succinctly stated in the tenth amendment to the Constitution:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The free range of activity is supposed to be ours by right, not simply some parcels allowed to us by a government that hasn’t found a pretense to close it off, yet.

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