Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Is about legacy - II

This is almost like my previous Owyhee is going to happen because it's about legacy. But I never mind to get repetitive where it helps to gain certainty. Otherwise, it's Malheur where the Bundy militia challenged the federal government in an armed standoff. This is why this proposed monument is so interesting.
Phil Taylor (E & E) {

Date = February 16, 2016
Source = Refuge occupation muddies bid to protect Ore. canyonlands

But a monument designation should be a no-brainer for Obama, other conservationists said, as it would cement his legacy of preserving lands for future generations to enjoy. With an Owyhee designation, Obama would likely pass President Clinton for the second-most acres preserved using the Antiquities Act. President Carter enjoys a healthy lead at No. 1.

Obama has invoked the Antiquities Act 22 times and set aside nearly 4 million acres. Clinton designated 5.7 million acres, and Carter designated about 54 million acres, all in Alaska (see related story).

"The question is, did the Bundy's really win something?" said Andy Stahl, executive director of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics. "If I'm the administration leaving office, I'd say, 'Hell no!'"

Proponents have two main arguments for designating the monument despite local objections.

First, the Owyhee Canyonlands area is owned by all 320 million Americans, not just the 31,000 people in Malheur County or the 7,000 in neighboring Harney. The designation enjoys broad support nationally, and the president was elected to represent all Americans, they argue.

"It's called a national monument for a reason," Stahl said. "It's not a Malheur County monument."
Here comes an indirect reference to the intra state urban rural divide - state capital siding with the fed government over rural areas.
Second, Obama won Oregon handily in the 2012 election, edging Mitt Romney by 12 percentage points thanks to Democratic support in heavily populated Portland and other coastal areas. While a monument designation would make him even more unpopular in rural eastern Oregon, it's not going to jeopardize his party's standing in the Beaver State.

Plus, the Antiquities Act offers Obama unfettered power over a Republican Congress that has stymied his major environmental initiatives and a Supreme Court that recently blocked his signature Clean Power Plan to combat global climate change.

"This is low-hanging fruit for an administration that's going to have a hard time filling its fruit basket," said Stahl.

[...]

It's unclear whether the White House is actively considering the Owyhee proposal.

But the Malheur occupation is unlikely to sway Obama, Kerr predicted.

"Monuments are good politics," he said. "But especially they're good legacy." }

The Beginner Guide to dooming in South Africa

This article is so good that I ended quoting a good deal of it without providing any commentary. I only rearranged quotes to give a slightly different flow and direction to the narrative. However, it may still be necessary to say a couple of words on why South Africa matters. This basically pertains to the concept of paradigmatic collapse. That is, South Africa is an important symbol globally. It's a symbol of racial co-existence, a living proof that such a co-existence works.

The unraveling of South Africa would be comparable to the fiasco of the Arab spring that laid waste to the idea of democracy as a kind of magic wand that works its magic like a clock in every part of the world. If the Arab spring had turned a resounding success, this could have seriously undermined the opposition to immigration from the Middle East in Europe. As it is now, however, anti immigration movements can easily draw parallels between the failure of Arab countries and their thesis about the inability of the bulk of Muslim immigrants to integrate into modern Western society.

For unclear reasons, people often appear unable to acknowledge the importance of their symbols. But regardless, the demise of the Rainbow Nation of Nelson Mandela is likely to become an epochal event to reverberate far beyond South Africa and Africa in general.

Kevin Sieff (Independent) {

Date = 17 February 2016

Source = Death of two black farmers prompts a racial reckoning in South Africa

[...]

White farmers say they are the ones under threat, their farms raided and their families attacked in crimes that often feel like the expression of racial outrage. In 2014, black men in Parys raped an elderly woman and put her body in a freezer, where she died. The previous year, a white farmer was killed when intruders dragged him behind his truck. Last year, members of a primarily white group, the Transvaal Agricultural Union, complained to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that white farmers in South Africa were a persecuted minority. Sixty-two people were murdered during 270 farm attacks in 2015, according to the farmers, who say the number is growing.

“In some ways it feels like there’s more tension now than there was during apartheid,” said Wynn Dedwith, a farmer in Parys. “All it takes is a little spark to ignite a keg of dynamite.”

“For us, the reality facing farmers can sometimes lead to an overreaction,” said Ernst Roets, deputy chief executive of AfriForum, an Afrikaner advocacy group helping to defend the accused farmers. “You have a friend who was killed, or you know the lady who was put into the freezer, and maybe you think, ‘Finally, we caught the bastards.’”

Qokotha, Mr Tjexa’s mother, heard the news from a friend. “The whites think they can do anything here,” she said. “It’s still apartheid.”

The whites called into their local Afrikaans-language radio station, Koepel Stereo, and spoke about the threat of more farm attacks and their sense of insecurity.

“We’re being killed like flies,” said the host, Sakkie van der Schyff. “The only reason you aren’t seeing a revolt by the whites is that we’re good Christians.”

The blacks called into Lentswe Community Radio, their own station three miles away, furious that the four farmers were granted bail. “If these guys are acquitted, there will be revenge,” said Seun Tladi, its newsreader.

[...]

Mr Tangasha was part of the generation that would profit from the rainbow nation, his grandmother remembers thinking. He would go to university. He would own a house, maybe a business. But, like most black South Africans, he dropped out of a crumbling public education system before he turned 16. He found work on a farm, earning about £6 a day. He was never paid on time, his relatives said.

He started voting for the Economic Freedom Fighters, the party led by firebrand Julius Malema, who said in a speech last year: “We want a total overhaul of the state. We want a state that is not scared of the white minority.”

“Farmworkers imagined that when we had a democratic government with black politicians in power that their exploitation would go away,” said Moeletsi Mbeki, a political economist. “But that’s never what the democratic struggle was about.”

[...]


When the four accused farmers had a bail hearing in their murder trial last month, whites and blacks gathered at the courthouse, separated by barbed wire.

“I could see the anger in their eyes,” said George de Beer, a white farmer.

“They looked at us like we were nothing,” said Ruth Qokotha, Mr Tjexa’s mother.

The whites sang the apartheid-era national anthem and held the flags of the 19th-century Boer Republics.

The blacks shouted: “Kill the Boer! Kill the farmer!” - a reference to South African whites of Dutch descent. }

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Bundy rebellion as a rural white Ferguson

This is a great piece that saves me the job of constantly repeating myself (Yes, I like to repeat myself). I admit it's not clear to what degree his observations apply, but there should be definitely a large chunk of population on both sides of the divide that conforms to his analysis.

Highlights:

1. The standoff has likely exacerbated even further the negative perception of the countryside among city dwellers. Other writers worried that any criticism of the federal land management is now going to be conflated with Bundism.

2. He actually did a much better job than me with his psychological analysis of the other side to the clash by drawing interesting parallels with Ferguson and the Occupy protests.

3. Stricter terror laws can actually speed up the march towards the abyss.

BY ROCKY BARKER (Idaho Statesman) {

Source = Malheur Refuge occupation ending shows rural-urban divide

The messy-but-not-bloody ending to the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge gave the nation a peak at the growing radical anti-government movement in the nation.

Final-occupier-out David Fry’s lack-of-medication rantings got a larger audience than usual for one of the many bizarre far right internet radio and video streaming channels that have cropped up. The ease of access to technology to spread a message worldwide has not only allowed Radical Islamic groups like ISIS access to a wide audience. Now ideologies espousing an alternative reading of the Constitution, questionable histories about the founding of the United States or the common-law myth that a county sheriff has the highest authority in government are thriving.

For many Americans, their view of rural life comes from reality shows like Duck Dynasty. So the crazy antics of Jon Ritzheimer, who did a video displaying the sex toys the occupiers had been sent, and of Fry and Sean and Sandy Anderson in the final streaming YouTube video, fit their storyline. But for many rural westerners, the sad narrative of how the Hammonds were sent back to prison because of the mandatory minimum sentence for arson under anti-terrorist law overshadowed most of the behavior of occupiers.

They saw the occupation of the refuge as the moral equivalent of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Occupy protesters who sat on the lawn of the old Ada County Courthouse in 2012. Many ignored the Malheur occupiers’ threats and their clear message that if the government moved in to remove them, they would defend themselves with the weapons they had stockpiled.

Finicum’s shooting by an Oregon State Police trooper became the rural white version of the Ferguson, Mo., shooting of Michael Brown. The FBI video appeared to show Lavoy Finicum go for the loaded pistol he carried after he had evaded police and almost run down an FBI agent.

But people who generally supported the aims of the occupiers saw the video differently and called Finicum’s death murder, just as African-Americans considered Brown’s death indefensible.

[...]

The end of this occupation will not curb the growth of the militia movement, as the Oklahoma City bombing of the federal building in 1995 that left 168 people dead did... Already, the Department of Justice is considering going to Congress to extend a law used for international extremist groups to domestic ones.

Officials now can charge individuals who support groups that present a “clear and present danger” to the United States like ISIS. They want the same power for domestic groups they see the same way.

Already the law has prosecutors convicting Muslim American teenagers, who express support for ISIS during their vulnerable social stage. Groups that appears to have participated in the Burns occupation, such as the Pacific Patriot Network, could get such a tag. }

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The train of historic legacy has left the station. And there is no going back

Two reports. They pretty much cap everything we know until now plus some new stuff. Highlights:

1. The scene of the presidential plane overflying the conservation legacy the president is leaving to posterity speaks for itself. I think this particular aspect of the situation is obvious now.

2. Interesting detail about the expectation that the next republican president will try to change the Antiquities Act. This may be another reason why Obama feels the sense of urgency to press forward with the conservation areas.

3. Since the fallout of 1996 in Utah no president tried to ram conservation areas thru despite local opposition. This president is being given ample warnings not to do it. The congressional team from Utah warned Obama that the resistance in the state will be fierce. It's also very indicative that the two democratic senators are not on board with the Canyonlands proposal in Oregon. They sure know that the measure is going to provoke fierce local response.

4. We now know Skinner's sources. Two democratic senators and a republican congressman from the state told him that the Canyonlands is coming.
By MARK LANDLER & JULIE TURKEWITZ (NY Times) {

Date = FEB. 12, 2016

Source = With 3 California Sites, Obama Nearly Doubles Public Land He’s Protected


Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Eric Schultz, the White House deputy press secretary, said the designations built on “the administration’s commitment to protect our land and water for future generations.”

As Mr. Schultz spoke, the presidential plane was flying over some of the land, near Joshua Tree National Park, that Mr. Obama had designated. The pilots had deviated slightly from the normal route between Los Angeles and Palm Springs to give Mr. Obama and his passengers a view of the sun-baked terrain.

Last summer, Mr. Obama designated more than a million acres of land in California, Nevada and Texas to the national monuments list, invoking the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, who championed the national parks system.

[...]

In 1996, President Bill Clinton caused an uproar when he created the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah despite the opposition of local officials. Since then, presidents have been more careful in using the designation, generally choosing places where the idea has regional support, according to Mark Squillace, a law professor at the University of Colorado who worked on the Grand Staircase project during the Clinton administration.

The California desert designation is considered less contentious than previous ones because it has the support of the state’s senators.

Environmentalists are pushing for national monument designations in other places, including a region of southeastern Utah known as Bears Ears, and a region of eastern Oregon known as the Owyhee Canyonlands. The canyonlands are not far from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the recently occupied federal bird sanctuary.

In both places, regional officials have spoken out against the efforts.

[...]

Republicans have made frequent efforts to alter the Antiquities Act, and Professor Squillace said that Mr. Obama may be pushing for new designations because the act’s future is uncertain.

“If a Republican is elected president, it would not be surprising if we were to see changes to the Antiquities Act,” Professor Squillace said.

“That would dramatically change things. I doubt we’d see many more monuments.”


By Jeff Mapes (OPB) {

Date = Feb 2, 2016
Source = Owyhee Wilderness Proposal In Spotlight After Refuge Occupation

The White House website boasts that Obama has already protected more square miles under the Antiquities Act than any other president, although the vast majority has been in marine sanctuaries. Consideration of national monuments has stepped up as Obama enters the last year of his term, which is when presidents often take actions that don’t require congressional action and are aimed at cementing their legacy.

[...]

“All the arrows are pointing to a designation,” said Bob Skinner, a Jordan Valley rancher who leads Citizens in Opposition to the Owyhee Canyonlands Monument. He said he heard from Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both D-Ore., as well as from his congressional representative, Republican Greg Walden, that the administration was considering the designation.

Merkley said in an interview that he resisted introducing legislation on the Owyhee, saying he preferred to focus on wilderness proposals that have local support. The senator said he hasn’t taken a stand on the Owyhee proposal.

Merkley said he wants to make sure the White House understands “all the concerns the community expresses. … If the administration chooses to do a monument, I want to make sure they address those issues.”

Wyden has also stayed neutral, said Wyden’s spokesman Keith Chu, adding that “he’s definitely asked for feedback from everyone who has an interest.” }

Owyhee Canyonlands is going to happen because it's about legacy

This is one of the three proposed monuments I put on our watchlist in the previous post. Highlights:

1. It does seem to be about legacy. Basically, it's very much about psychology. In fact, too much here on both sides is about psychology. This is why this time the dooming feels so freaky.

2. The alleged tactics of environmental groups. I don't get the part about huge settlements and the rancher is likely biased against the groups. But the groups targeting the BLM for restricting associated activities and not going after the ranchers and their use of land directly sounds rather smart and true.

3. I don't know what are his sources, but he seems to be sure that the monument is going to happen.

Larry Meyer (The Argus Observer) {

Date = Jan 17, 2016

Source = Rancher braces for impacts of designation

The Owyhee Canyonlands monument, as proposed, would take in about 2.5 million acres. That would make it bigger than any other existing monument, Skinner said, and would include about 300,000 more acres than Yellowstone Park.

“It’s going to [have] a big economic impact,” he said.

While it’s going to have a direct impact on the cattle industry, a national monument designation is going to trickle down to everyone, Skinner said.

Malheur County Commissioner Larry Wilson, noting that cattle is now largest agricultural commodity in Oregon in sales and generating more sales than other crops combined, said decline or loss in the cattle industry would impact producers of crops used in cattle feed and suppliers to agriculture producers and other businesses.

[...]

While wilderness and monument laws say such activities as grazing can continue, once a special land-use designation is applied, environmentalists begin filing lawsuits, Skinner said.

They don’t sue the ranchers, he said. Instead, they go after the Bureau of Land Management to request such things as restricting uses or activities that support those uses such as cattle grazing. Those restrictions can include using vehicles to check on the cattle or take out supplies, Skinner said.

Environmental groups use the Equal Access to Just Law to pay for their legal actions, Skinner said.

“They receive huge settlements,” he said.

[...]

Designation as a national monument can come through declaration or order by the president under the Antiquities Act, Skinner said, but he said the act was never intended to take in larger areas.

As originally written, the purpose of the Antiquities Act was to grab smaller areas for protection, and a monument was to be confined to the smallest area, Skinner said.

In the case of the Owyhee Canyonlands, “it’s gone way past that,” Skinner said.

“All of our sources say it is going to happen,” Skinner said.

When a member of the audience asked if presidential orders or declaration can be overturned, Skinner said they can be but never have been by the next president.

He said he doesn’t believe the issue is about the environment.

“It’s about legacy,” he said. “The president wants a legacy.” }

Antiquities Act to meet fierce local opposition, rep representatives from Utah warn Obama

This one looks like another good potential location for the next Bundy ranch. At least one Indian tribe in the area seems to be siding with the fed government which should facilitate mobilization of the blue side by portraying the red opposition as racist and anti-aboriginal.

Two other proposed conservation zones also look very interesting.

1. Owyhee Canyonlands is likely to be perceived as a slap in the face in Malheur where residents in general maintained their loyalty despite many admitting some truth to Bundy's claims. The locals are already up in arms against this one. It's not obvious, however, that the Obama administration will have the audacity to press forward with this one so soon after the standoff.

2. Gold Butte is the cradle of the Bundy movement and it's a message to the militias. Some may refuse to back off. Bundys, however, are mostly in jail now. It's not clear how and in the name of who the opposition to the zone can organize itself. Bundys were apparently the last ranchers in the area.

By THOMAS BURR (The Salt Lake Tribune) {

Date = Feb 12 2016

Source = Obama has ‘big ambitions’ for protecting land, White House says

"We have big, big ambitions this year, so let's see what happens," Christy Goldfuss, managing director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, told The Washington Post.

That could mean action on the proposed 1.9-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah, a move that Utah's six members of Congress urged Obama against Friday as the president designated three new national monuments covering 1.8 million acres of the California desert.

Several American Indian tribes have joined together to form the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, which has urged Obama to use his authority to name the monument in southeastern Utah, arguing that it would protect cultural and historic sites.

"Bears Ears offers something unique that we can't find anyplace else in the world," Eric Descheenie, the group's co-chairman, said recently at a news conference. "The threat of looting, grave robbing and mineral leasing, to name a few — the list is extensive — we've already seen it in and around these lands. If this is something we lose, we lose it forever."

[...]

Utah's federal delegation, however, is lockstep opposed to a new monument designation and wrote to Obama on Friday, saying a locally driven approach called the Public Lands Initiative would be a better way to protect sensitive areas and would not exacerbate the already divisive issues over federal land management.

"Make no mistake, both the state of Utah and San Juan County value our public lands. With that said, public participation in land-use decisions is critical to their long-term acceptance and success; the most effective land-management policy is inclusive and engaging, not veiled and unilateral."

"Use of the Antiquities Act within [Utah] will be met with fierce local opposition and will further polarize federal land-use discussions for years, if not decades," the members said in the letter. }

Friday, February 12, 2016

With Bundys in jail, a wave of conservation frenzy is already coming

In previous posts I reasoned that proposed conservation areas are the next most likely flashpoint, if the rural unrest keeps spreading. This is because locals seem to be generally ambivalent about the Bundy tactic of challenging the status quo thru armed occupation of federal lands. They seem, however, to be quite ready to fight back when it comes to attempts to change the status quo initiated from the other side. This makes prospective conservation areas look like the best way to provoke a post-Bundy rural backlash.

Now here comes this article and it appears that we have truckloads of this stuff coming. With Obama's presidency drawing to an end, a major hunt after legacy opportunities is under way. And it seems to be very much focused on conservation monuments. I would like to highlight a few of things here.

First of all, it's done by decree bypassing usual democratic procedures.

Two, interviews in the article suggest a rather surprising degree of commitment to the conservation cause on the part of the president and his aids/advisers. Their determination to continue doesn't seem to be very affected by the standoff in Oregon. If anything, the standoff seems to have only stiffened the resolve to press forward with the plans

Three, with Bundys in jail, some people may be tempted for a show of force. This is like to show the militias and others who is the boss. Senate Minority Leader, no less, is pressing to declare the cradle of the Bundy rebellion a national monument.

By Juliet Eilperin (Washington Post) {

Date = February 12, 2016

Source = Obama to designate new national monuments in the California desert

Obama has unilaterally protected more than 260 million acres of America’s lands and waters under the Antiquities Act of 1906, which gives the president wide latitude to safeguard at-risk federal lands that have cultural, historic or scientific value.

The act is among the most powerful tools at any president’s disposal. Franklin D. Roosevelt invoked the law more than any president in history; Harold L. Ickes, his interior secretary, kept a pile of potential national-monument declarations in a desk and pulled them out whenever Roosevelt was in a good mood.

Obama’s aides do not have a similar system, but they share those earlier aspirations.

“We have big, big ambitions this year, so let’s see what happens,” said Christy Goldfuss, managing director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, adding that the administration is focused on “local requests for action. It’s really been driven by activities on the ground.”

On Friday, Obama will designate more than 1.8 million acres of California desert for protection with the creation of three national monuments: Castle Mountains, Mojave Trails and Sand to Snow. The new monuments will connect three existing sites — Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks and the Mojave National Preserve — to create the second-largest desert preserve in the world.

The big question: What next?

Other possible future designations include Bears Ears, a sacred site for several Native American tribes in southeastern Utah; Stonewall, the site of a 1969 inn riot by members of New York City’s gay community; the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts...

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who convinced Obama to declare a sizeable monument in Nevada’s Basin and Range Province last year, is still pressing for getting another one at Gold Butte, which is an hour’s drive from Las Vegas but has been degraded and largely unpoliced since Bundy and his armed followers confronted Bureau of Land Management officials there in 2014.

Officials are weighing these proposals amid protests out West, such as the armed occupation of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which aimed to wrest control of federal lands from officials in Washington. The standoff may have hurt the prospects for increased protections around the state’s Owyhee Canyonlands, though the idea is not off the table entirely.

But Jim Messina, a close Obama adviser who worked on conservation issues when he served as White House deputy chief of staff in his first term, said the president is personally committed to the issue and is convinced that most Americans back the idea.

“Protecting public access is a huge political winner across the West. A bunch of extremists in Oregon can’t change it,” he said. “There’s no thought, or no reason, to back off on our agenda.” }

The Beginner Guide to Dooming in America

To illustrate the DOOMMM Club's thinking on the Bundy rebellion and the US urban rural divide in general, I picked a few maps from the web. While some of these have unclear sources, they do confirm to trends identified by serious analytical articles on the subject.

We start with the simple fact that the rural conservative minority presides over a lion's share of the country.

Elections 2012. Red Counties voted Republican. Blue voted Democrat



Source

Geographically, the minority is an overwhelming majority. It's not so in numbers. The next map reflects better actual electoral power by expressing population density in urban elevations. Blue spots that were drowning in a sea of red in the previous map are actually densely populated electoral giants towering over thinly populated flat red planes.



Source

Next we have a map of trending counties. Those countries gravitated towards one of the parties from 2004 to 2012. The longer the arrow the faster the county's been trending. To see the arrows better, click on the map



Source

More counties are obviously trending republican than otherwise. Again, the geography is misleading and obscures the actual numbers, but it does reflect the growing urban rural divide.

Here is another view on the same thing. The average magnitude of the shift. Rural counties trending more conservative. The cities, however, are turning liberal at an even greater rate.



Source

To be sure, this is in relative terms. That is, they can perfectly be all turning more liberal, but because they are not doing it with the same speed, the gap between them is growing. The maps above measure the shift in terms of party preferences, not in absolute terms of how people actually poll on specific issues.

The maps/graphs above are what can be called geographical polarization. Cities turning more liberal, the countryside trending conservative. Political polarization along the urban rural fault line. The second component of this process, however, is even more important. It is the sheer intensity of the polarization.

Here is a good illustration from Pew Research. It's not only counties increasingly voting this or that way. People themselves are moving away from the political center. Conservatives growing more conservatives, liberals more liberal. They are not only increasingly clustering geographically. Their views are trending away from the center.



Source

Now if you are betting on polarization to work its magic, growing divides are not enough. After all, what matters about the rise of the Trump/Sanders duo is not only their views but how these two and their supporters are perceived respectively on the other side of the divide. Liberals detest Trump, conservatives can't stomach Sanders. The following graph by the same Pew should confirm your intuition. Mutual political animosity has been escalating over time.



Now two maps to illustrate the issue of the federal land. It's basically concentrated in western states and it's probably not a coincidence that Bundys hail from Nevada where 80% of land is owned by the federal government.





It's easy to imagine the subject of the federal land ownership eventually blowing into a nationwide fallout between the two camps because it's related to one more general debate around which much of the current polarization is being created. That is, whether the government can be trusted with running things.

This issue should evoke almost archetypal political imagery for both sides. For the liberal/progressive crowd, here is the government responsibly protecting people and environment against the horrors of unchecked capitalist greed, balancing the need for economic growth against more humanistic concerns. On the other side of the divide, it's a story of a big and overbearing government driving into poverty hard working people with its inept and absurd regulation. And not just people. Rural Americans. The salt of the earth.

It's important to keep in mind that, both in terms of political geography and in terms of intensity, the urban rural divide has been steadily growing. The Bundy rebellion is interesting not only because of its particular circumstances, but because it's a point in time on a steadily escalating curve of political/geographical polarization. This curve points towards a certain destination in the future... It may be a very near future.

PS

On a personal note, I've been an avid observer of urban rural conflicts all over the world for years which is very obvious from the following link I co-authored with Aymenn in 2012: Demography Is Destiny in Syria

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cliven Bundy arrested amid fears of the Bundy effect spreading

Cliven Bundy was arrested at the airport upon arrival in Oregon by a SWAT team, while the remaining militia in the refuge surrendered to the feds. In the meantime a neighboring county is reeling from the Bundy effect. It's interesting to note how emotional it is. People shouting, crying, quoting from the declaration of independence and the constitution.

To remind the readers, it's that very county the Bundy team was traveling to when the feds blocked their way. The local reporter at the time visited the gathering that was waiting for Bundy and found a crowd of hundreds of people mostly sympathetic to the militia. Here is the link.

Two highlights, and one is a fallout between the leaders of the county with the sheriff apparently siding with Bundy. Another interesting aspect is the fact that the feds are no longer taking any chances. The original tactic of trying to wear down the militia by ignoring the takeover altogether seems to be giving place to taking a calculated risk of creating martyrs and political prisoners.

In general, the panic seems to be less about a potential outside invasion, but more about an invasion from within.
By Fedor Zarkhin (The Oregonian/OregonLive) {

Date = February 10, 2016
Source = Malheur refuge occupation sparks fears of incursion

Part therapy session and part history lesson, a Grant County commission meeting drew dozens of people Wednesday – some crying and others shouting -- to weigh in on a resolution calling for an end to the armed militant occupation almost 100 miles away.

With less than a foot of space between the front row and the commissioners' tables, the small room overflowed with more than 30 residents who spent almost two hours talking about the proposal.

Two people warned that they might cry before giving their testimony. One woman read a lengthy passage from the Declaration of Independence.

[...]

Commissioner Scott Myers said he felt the need to take up the issue because the county of 7,000 had become a target for expanding the occupation movement.

Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer had met with some of the occupation leaders and was set to share the stage with some of them Jan. 26 when the FBI and state police arrested Ammon Bundy and others at a traffic stop on their way from the wildlife refuge to a community meeting John Day. Occupation spokesman Robert "LaVoy" Finicum was killed by state police in the confrontation. He was carrying a loaded 9mm handgun, the FBI said.

"The militant occupation in Harney county was illegal, unethical, socially inappropriate and tore the community apart," said former commissioner Mark Webb, who came to testify. "The effort on the part of Sheriff Palmer to support that – professionally unacceptable, arguably illegal. None of this should come here."

"Defamation!" interjected a woman sitting a few feet away from him.

Palmer, who wasn't at the meeting, is a critic of the federal land management and has drawn some local support.

"He has been smeared by people in this county, by people who have not read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution," said county resident Judy Kerr. }

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Idaho Poll: 25% support the refuge takeover in Oregon

A latest poll in Idaho suggests a rather surprising level of support for the Bundy rebellion. 25% of the participants expressed some kind of support for the militia. Otherwise, 40% would like federal lands returned to state control. Plurality of respondents, almost a half, however, are opposed to the idea of land transfer.
By Bob Bernick (Idaho Politics Weekly) {

Date = 07 February 2016

Poll: Most Idaho Residents Don't Support Militia Takeover of Oregon Wildlife Refuge

Pollster Dan Jones & Associates finds that 25 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” support the actions of the protesters, who say they want federal lands returned to local control.

Fourteen percent said they have no opinion concerning the standoff.

Asked if federal lands in Idaho should be turned over to state control, Idahoans are split:

48 percent oppose the idea, keep the lands under federal control.

42 percent favor the state taking control of federal lands.

Republicans in Idaho favor taking the federal lands, 51-39 percent.

Democrats are against it, 72-19 percent. }
It's unfortunate that the poll couldn't identify exactly how many strongly support the militia actions and how many only somewhat support. Nevertheless, 25% came as a surprise.

More crucially, the poll reveals nothing on how the issue of federal land plays out along the urban rural divide. The same goes about the support for the refuge takeover. This is a critical omission. If majority of Bundy supporters in the state are concentrated in the countryside, which is quite likely, then this would indicate shocking levels of support for the militia tactics in rural counties.

It's a safe bet that for supporters of the federal government the generalized plurality for the status quo will serve as a reason for complacency. Reality, however, may prove dramatically different.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Grazing fees are not the issue. Bureaucracy and litigation are

This reports sheds light on one of the major issues involved in the Oregon standoff. It's important to understand what's exactly behind the local frustrations. As a matter of fact, the opponents often make a point that the grazing fees charged by the federal agencies are ridiculously low.

In the case of cattle, the bulk of frustrations is about what the locals perceive as overregulation of land use and constant war in courts against environmental groups. The last one may be more significant than it appears because locals may not have enough time, resources and organization for court battles while the other side is likely to be represented by dedicated professionals with well funded and highly motivated groups close to seats of power. I am sure it doesn't sound like much to many people. But this is a recurrent theme in reports. In some respects, ours is a litigation society and court battles are our version of ancient wars.
By Dylan J. Darling (The Bulletin) {

Date = Jan 10, 2016
Source = Why ranchers feel frustration with federal government

Raising cattle in the vast county requires lots of land, so anyone ranching in Harney County likely has to work with the federal government, particularly the Bureau of Land Management. The agency oversees more than 3.9 million acres, or more than 60.5 percent of the county, according to the BLM.

“Much of BLM-administered rangeland is grazed by livestock under a system of permits and leases in which ranchers pay grazing fees for the use of public land,” according to the agency.

In 2014, the district had 164 grazing permits and nine grazing leases, according to the BLM. Combined, the permits and leases covered more than 247,000 animal unit months, or AUMs as officials and ranchers call them. One unit is enough forage to sustain one cow and a calf for one month. The BLM charges $1.35 per AUM.

It is not the cost of the arrangement that is frustrating ranchers, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, said Thursday. Rather, it is the requirements that come with it. Walden’s congressional district includes Harney County.

Each permit is individually crafted and may come with stipulations, such as when cattle may go on and off the land, how low the animals may chew down the grass and how long ranchers have to wait before returning cattle to land burned by wildfire.

Add in legal challenges by conservation and environmental groups, and Walden said some of the hardest work for ranchers may be lining up federal permits and leases.

“It’s that constant, grinding battle that just wears people down,” he said.

Between sips of her coffee, Tiller also said court conflicts with conservation and environmental groups have long been a cause for rancher frustration and fatigue.

“We are trying to use our lands without destroying them,” she said. }

Saturday, February 6, 2016

It may take another while but The DOOMMM Club has all the patience in the world

Nothing new about this article, but we seem to be heading for an end to the current stage. So we need to get as much as we can from the still lingering media coverage. Two highlights:

1. This report gives more space to locals to express their grievances than most reports did. In this regard, this report is more specific than others.

2. The local ranchers seem to be apprehensive of a scenario already considered here in previous posts. Basically, standoffs like the last one in Oregon may be actually creating self sustaining/escalating dynamics by exacerbating the urban rural divide. On the city side of the divide there are already plenty of those who consider anybody questioning the federal ownership of land in western states as Bundy's accomplices.
Carol J Williams in Burns, Oregon (Guardian) {

Sam Levin contributed reporting from San Francisco.

Source = Oregon ranchers fear impact of militia standoff: 'We all look like crazies'

When Butch Delange first started logging in 1971, a man could make a decent living cutting timber, and the proceeds from open-bid contracts with the US Forest Service provided ample funding for schools and public services. Then the federal agency switched to sealed bids to award tracts for harvesting, driving most loggers and sawmills out of business and leaving the older trees to fall victim to rot and wildfires.

Delange, who now works at a gas station and garage on the main drag in Burns, Oregon, says that only bold actions like those of the militiamen occupying the Malheur national wildlife refuge will draw the necessary attention to the plight of western regions living under the federal government’s thumb. But like many, he concedes that the armed action and its violent turn with the shooting death of one activist may have set back prospects for relief, and done little to engender public sympathy.

Instead, local residents say, the armed seizure of the refuge on 2 January by Ammon Bundy and about two dozen fellow militants drew national attention to the clashes between ranchers and federal land stewards, but probably painted all government critics as violence-prone extremists.

Many fear their causes have been undermined by the costly and divisive controversy, despite the spotlight it cast on their complaints.

Wayne Smith, a 46-year-old local rancher, said he felt the occupation was finally waking people up to the overreach of the federal government, but that the death of Finicum had derailed any potential efforts to increase local control of public lands.

“People were getting educated. They were starting to realize what’s happening to us and there was more support,” he said. “But the federal government just had to stop them.”

[...]

Fran and Rich Davis have had to lease private grazing land in recent years to meet federal land management requirements for AUM, the animal-unit-per-month formula meant to prevent damage to grasslands. To feed their 100 cows, the Davises lease 1,880 acres of private grazing land, bringing their daily feed bill to $300 and forcing them to take on other seasonal businesses to make ends meet. The fourth-generation ranchers now operate a deli during the spring and summer months when tourists flock to the high desert country, as well as a women’s clothing boutique, a senior foster care home and a pickup and delivery service for the closest dry cleaners in Bend, 130 miles west.

“The DEQ is making me pay a fee in case there’s ever a chemical spill from the dry cleaning, which isn’t done anywhere near here,” an exasperated Fran Davis says of the latest tax being assessed on their side businesses by the state department of environmental quality.

The population has dropped from 12,000 in the 1970s to fewer than 7,000 today, which locals attribute to federal management of the public lands and increasingly burdensome environmental regulations cutting deeply into the local economy.

Fran Davis echoes the fears of many in Harney County that the armed occupation served to discredit the legitimate grievances of the broader population.

“We all look like a bunch of crazies,” she said of the image left by the militants.

[...]

Former local rancher Dayle Robertson, who now lives in Leavenworth, Washington, had business near the refuge on Thursday.

“I’ve lived in this country for 20 years. I know these people,” he said of the south-eastern Oregon ranchers. “But no one outside understands us. For the past eight years the environmentalists have been running our business. If they don’t like something you do, they file a lawsuit and shut you down.”

Delange blames misplaced priorities in the federal bureaucracies for the rash of fires that have swept the region’s forests and grasslands in the past two decades.

“I was in the national guard back in 1990 and we got called up to fight a huge wildfire up near the fish and wildlife preserve. But they wouldn’t let us pitch our tents on the federal land, said it was an ‘artifacts area’,” he recalled with disdain.

That fire, believed to have been sparked by a Bureau of Land Management truck left idling in a dry grass field, “burned 105,000 acres, more than 40 years of logging had taken”.}

PS

It's my personal view, but I believe that the recurrent refrain in many interviews with rural locals that "the nation has heard our cries of pain at last" is totally misplaced. In general, the story of rural America reminds me of the Russian peasant concept of good czar. These are obedient and law abiding subjects who trust the order/authority. The agents of order are good, they just don't know how people on the ground suffer.

Of course, reality is very different. Those locals are just delusional. In fact, this situation is structurally built into America's urban rural divide. It's kind of unavoidable.

Delusions sometimes take an extraordinary amount of time to die. The interesting part, however, starts when they finally do.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Links: Feb 2016

Links are attached in comments

The Bundy revolution lives on in reinvigorated rural opposition to conservation areas

This report about protestations against another planned wildlife refuge in Oregon is interesting by a mention of the Bundy effect. Locals reportedly turned more confrontational in the wake of the standoff. The councilor actually doesn't deny the effect, only says that the opposition to the refuge would have been high regardless. More time is needed to see if the effect is real and persists, or fades away.

Other highlights of the report:

1. Opposition to the refuge is unanimous
2. They got plenty of energy to fight back. The report says "it doesn’t seem that will change soon".
3. They can do nothing except betting on the good will of the other side
4. The councilor is ready to travel to DC to stomp his feet.
5. If they do go to DC, there should come a moment when they get tired of stomping their feet for nothing
By Aaron West (The Bulletin) {

Date = Jan 30, 2016
Source = City, county governments reject Oregon Wild proposal

After Prineville citizens spoke out this week at a City Council meeting against proposed new wilderness and recreation areas in the Ochoco National Forest, their elected representatives on the council followed suit with a unanimous vote to oppose Oregon Wild’s proposal.

The vote puts the council in good company.

Community members have been vocal since November at organized information meetings and town hall events against the plan, which aims to designate more than 300,000 acres of the Ochoco National Forest as national recreation area.

“At the end of the day for me it came down to the fact that the plan isn’t economically or socially beneficial to the community,” Councilor Jason Carr said. “And I made it clear that my position wasn’t one in which I was simply making a rash decision based on public dissent — I came at it from a thoughtful standpoint.”

So the next question: what now? Ultimately, the votes are somewhat symbolic...

“It’s mainly about influencing the process,” Carr said. “We don’t have any sort of legal or constitutional authority to stop the process in its tracks. But I think the council voting unanimously, the county and the chamber of commerce voting unanimously — it all sends a loud and clear message this isn’t a plan we want to support.”

[...]

Meanwhile, Fernandez said the tone of community meetings, which started off civil last fall, has recently become unproductive.

“January came, Bundy fever took over, and things got less productive,” he said. “I think folks were a little riled up based on what was happening at the refuge. That made all the meetings in January less productive, and that was unfortunate, because we had been having some good conversations.”

Carr said it’s frustrating that Oregon Wild sees the community’s opinion as a product of the recent events in Harney County.

“It’s an unfair characterization,” he said. “The community cares about the land, and they’ve cared about the land for a very long time. This community would’ve been in just as much opposition with or without the Malheur wildlife refuge. Any time the media brings to light a certain issue it certainly makes people more aware of what’s going on, and you can’t deny the awareness that’s been brought to the management of public lands, or the issues between ranchers and BLM. But in terms of public interest of the Ochocos and creating a federal area with restrictions, I’m confident there would have been a very vocal and high amount of interest either way.”

Regardless, a high amount of interest does exist, and it doesn’t seem that will change soon.

“This is why the mayor made it known at the meeting that we agree with the opposition, but it doesn’t end here,” Carr said. “You’ve got to continue to fight, you’ve got to let your opinion to senators or congressmen be known. That’s how we’ll get this stopped.”

“We’ll just continue in this voice,” Fahlgren said. “Even if it takes us having to go to D.C. to stomp our feet.” }

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Rural America is increasingly dominated by "mentally stunted troglodytes"

This is obviously a very opinionated take on the issue. At some point he calls the Bundy guys "mentally stunted troglodytes". But his obvious bias actually gives more credulence to his personal observations. From our perspective, of particular interest is his admission that the anti-systemic constitutionalism is mainstream in southern Utah and Bundys are only exacerbating a wider slide into radicalism.
By Dallas Hyland (Suindependent) {

Date = Jan 31 2016
Source = The Bundys’ rhetoric widened the divide between rural and mainstream America

It may be my own experience alone, but what I have found, at least here in the southern part of Utah, is that the majority of people’s minds are made up on the matter of public lands. They purport that the lawmakers of our land have been somehow infiltrated by those who seek to pervert the Constitution for their own agenda’s sake, and they will not hear anything to the contrary. In fact, when I offer any refutation to the arguments they present on a local talk radio show, I am more often than not summarily dismissed as a communist bootlicker and even sometimes somewhat threatened for daring to utter out loud such refutations.

In an opinion piece I penned almost two years ago in response to the standoff in Bunkerville, Nev., I wrote:
“I contend, however, that the animosity toward government that exceeds the boundaries of common sense is becoming its own distinct and recognizable movement. Its creed is a loose deference to a nuance of principles only a select few claim to understand; as if, somehow, they channel the founders and understand the law better than the rest of us.”
They may or may not have a point, but it is all but drowned out by this growing sense of radicalism. And its drowning is exacerbated by mentally stunted troglodytes like Cliven, Ammon, and Ryan Bundy who pay lip service to patriotism while taking a stance regarding the future of public lands that represents only a select few groups of people instead of all Americans. }