Above: The Sewage of the West
The takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by the sewage of the West going Galt has gone on so long now that it’s almost dropped out of the news except for all the dildos they’ve received by nice people thinking of their sexual health. It’s quite touching.
The short-term problem is that the lackadaisical effort by law enforcement, going all the way up to the Obama administration, of dealing with these people does nothing but empower these people to continue in their actions, threatening government officials, and committing violent acts across the West. Like everything else in the United States, this is largely explained primarily by race, as black, Muslim, or Latino groups would probably be dead by now. But angry whites after Waco and Ruby Ridge has spooked federal large enforcement to be fearful of acting in any forceful way against violent whites, even to the point of just shutting off the power or blocking the entrance to the wildlife refuge. It’s pathetic. It’s also dangerous.
There are several longer-term problems too. The first is that Republicans actually empower right-wing paramilitary activities and terrorism. This is hardly unknown to the left. But the extent to which they force the government to not investigate right-wing groups is remarkable.
Daryl Johnson once worked in the branch of the Department of Homeland Security that studied the threats posed by antigovernment groups. His former office was shut down more than five years ago.
But when members of an armed group took over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon last week, Mr. Johnson was not surprised.
In 2009, the former analyst wrote a report that warned of a growing antigovernment movement and the possible recruitment of returning military veterans that could “lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone-wolf extremists.”
His words drew fierce criticism from Republican lawmakers and conservative news media, labeling the report an unfair assessment of legitimate criticisms of the government. The document was retracted after Janet Napolitano, who was then the Homeland Security secretary, apologized to veterans, and the Extremism and Radicalization Branch was quietly dismantled.
Former Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, who was then House minority leader, criticized Ms. Napolitano for the department’s failure to use the term “terrorist” to describe groups such as Al Qaeda, while “using the same term to describe American citizens who disagree with the direction Washington Democrats are taking our nation.”
After the criticism, the Homeland Security Department reduced the number of analysts who studied domestic terrorism that was unconnected to foreign threats. Last September, Jeh Johnson, the Homeland Security secretary, created the Office for Community Partnerships in order to counter violent extremism. The office works with local communities and focuses on both domestic and foreign threats, the department said.
But Daryl Johnson, who is now a security consultant in the Washington, D.C., area, said the focus of the community partnership office is different from his former branch at Homeland Security. “It has nothing to do with putting together intelligence, analysis or law enforcement,” he said.
It’s not as if the government doesn’t have the capability to deal with these people. But when you have one of the two major political parties openly embracing fascism, it’s hardly surprising that it would intimidate the other party into not investigating those fascist groups. The mistake DHS made was letting Republicans push it around.
There’s an even longer-term problem, which is the disaster that is federal grazing policy, as this western rancher states.
The current system dates to the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934, which split the open range into smaller allotments, each with specific regulations called operating instructions. While this and subsequent environmental policies have codified the land management process in a manner suitable to bureaucratic oversight, approaching the Western landscape like this takes the landscape out of context. Thus, the current system does not support effective management, land health or ranching. Limiting ranch management practices on federal lands to rigid regulations does not allow for the flexibility that healthy ecosystems require. Both commercial ranching in big, arid country and wild ecosystems function best on a large scale. As a result, the allotment system — meant to prevent overgrazing, rein in monopolistic ranching and establish the grazing rights of smaller ranchers — has been a huge source of contention. With smaller scale ranchers now protesting the original basis for jurisdiction and billionaires again putting together huge spreads, environmentalists are unhappy, people are out of work, and the land is suffering. No one is winning.
A landscape management framework that assesses the components of the big picture and how they work together (which a few ranchers and federal agency personnel have been able to implement in spite of bureaucratic obstacles) promotes flexibility among grazing allotments, allowing ranchers to better accommodate seasonal changes, forage growth, and wildlife. This way, when things like wolves, wildfires, and recreational interests collide with ranching, creative solutions can be a reality, not a dream.
Grazing cattle on federal land is never going to be completely ecologically sound. There are ways however to continue this human traditions of doing so while mitigating the ecological impact. But, as is not really surprising given how a large bureaucracy like the U.S. government works, we are failing to do so.
But while this is a story very much grounded in the larger political problems of our time, it’s also a story that is very much about natural resource economics and the fears these communities face as their lifestyle is becoming economically irrelevant to the point that the environmental impacts are no longer worth it for many policymakers. To say the least, I was not surprised to read this editorial by the Charleston Gazette-Mail that filters the entire situation through Obama’s supposed War on Coal. The editorial writer doesn’t even understand the situation–there are basic mistakes like claiming this is about the government running roughshod over private property rights and “coercing private ranchers to sell” when in fact this is about the private use of public property–but that doesn’t matter for my larger point that the decline of extractive economies have created anti-environmentalist, anti-government messaging throughout the nation, whether in the Pacific Northwest logging towns, the ranges of the arid West, or the coal mines of Appalachia.
Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that the Malheur is special and sensitive place. The offices occupied by the idiots are full of Paiute artifacts and there are concerns about looting. The Bundys say they aren’t interested in that, but given the, how shall we say, lack of discipline among their “forces,” it’s not like some racist white guy who wants to make some bucks couldn’t steal some of those and sell them on the all too active black market for archaeological artifacts. At least some locals are more actively pushing back against these people, which is good, but given the level of anti-government sentiment in eastern Oregon over wolves and other ranching issues, I remain skeptical that they don’t have real sympathy among many in the area.
Update: The police finally arrested one of the idiots today. They arrested him for driving a stolen government vehicle. Where was he? Safeway of course, buying supplies. Unfortunately, the police missed another person who was already in the Safeway. Not sure how–just go find the bearded guy in the Cheetos aisle. Really, if police want to arrest these guys without violence, just stake out area convenience stores, particularly around their Slim Jim supplies.