Some unfinished business from last week to start a new week:
~I wrote on Wednesday about the "First Amendment Area" in Nevada to which twerp enforcers from something called the Bureau of Land Management have attempted to confine protesters in a dispute about grazing rights. The photo at right is from the showdown between the Bundy family and the BLM, which is to Nevada as the Red Army is to Eastern Ukraine. In the picture, hundreds of Bundy supporters, many on horseback, have in effect headed off the BLM at the (over)pass and have them surrounded. John Hinderaker's round-up makes some important points:
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.
Look at the picture John puts underneath that paragraph, or at ABC's video. These are low-level bureaucrats from a minor branch of the vast bottomless alphabet soup of federal agencies, and they're running around pretending to be elite commandos. The county sheriff is supposed to be "the law". But he had to broker a deal to get the BLM out of there because in America every jumped-up pen-pusher from the Bureau of Compliance has his own branch of "the law", a personal SWAT team to act as judge, jury, executioner and, if necessary, as in Nevada, as army of occupation. In most parts of the developed world, there is "the police", and that's it. If a bureaucrat from the Ministry of Paperwork wants to have you seized, he has to persuade a judge to issue a warrant and then let the local coppers handle it as they see fit. There is an obvious conflict of interest when every tinpot regulatory agency has its own enforcement arm, and it imputes to even legitimate cases the whiff of something malodorous and, indeed, despotic.
John also notes:
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.
It reminds me of 19th century Ireland, when most of the big estates belonged to absentee landlords in England. It's an even less attractive arrangement when the absentee landlord is a distant national government. There is no need for the vast land holdings of the United States Government, especially given their ever more unpleasant and bullying attitude to public access to the land. As I've said, a 21st century American has fewer rights on "the people's land" than a 13th century English peasant had in the King's forest. If I ever do run for Senate in New Hampshire, my platform will include a pledge to return the White Mountain "National Forest" to the people of the state.
Jay Currie thinks the Nevada showdown reflects a shifting balance of power between the citizen and the state-media complex. He may be right. In the pre-smartphone era, I think the BLM snipers would have had few qualms about offing members of the Bundy family, anymore than their fellow bureaucratic enforcers at Ruby Ridge did about shooting Vicki Weaver in the head as she was cradling her baby and running for cover. Waco might have gone differently in the age of cellphone video.
~I wrote on Thursday, re the BLM "euthanizing cattle":
I'm all for government agents improving their skills at euthanizing bovine herds. It means they'll be really good at it by the time they move on to us.
South Dakota Sen. John Thune and fellow GOP senators sent a letter to Obama administration officials urging them not to regulate livestock emissions as part of the president's crusade against global warming.
In the House of Lords, however, they've already moved on, from regulating bovine emissions to regulating yours:
A hereditary peer has asked the government if it takes into account flatulence caused by baked beans in its climate-change calculations.
Labour peer Viscount Simon, 73, raised concerns about the "smelly emissions" resulting from the UK's unusually high consumption of baked beans...
His comments came as energy minister Baroness Verma answered questions in the House of Lords on how the government was tackling climate change.
Lord Simon said: "In a programme some months ago on the BBC it was stated that this country has the largest production of baked beans and the largest consumption of baked beans in the world."
To laughter from peers, he added: "Could the noble baroness say whether this affects the calculation of global warming by the government as a result of the smelly emission resulting there from?"
Appearing flummoxed, the minister replied: "The noble lord's question is so... different."
But she added: "The noble lord of course does actually raise a very important point, which is we do need to moderate our behaviour."
The Bureau of Flatulence Management is not far away.
~On the weekend, I commented on the Government's appalling treatment of the victims of Fort Hood. The 2009 mass shooting, that is. Mariah Blake has a follow-up report at Mother Jones after the President's appearance at the memorial service for victims of the 2014 mass shooting. As usual, he had some smooth lines - "This tragedy tears at wounds still raw from five years ago" - but he refused to meet with any of those bearing the wounds from five years ago.
Many of the so-called low-information voters think Obama's cool. In fact, he's cold. Very cold.
~Speaking of cool, I owe Kathy Shaidle my thanks for drawing attention to TCM's first ever screening of Sammy Davis Jr's 1966 labor of love A Man Called Adam. I hadn't seen it in years and I didn't realize quite how rare it is on this side of the Atlantic. Lots of great things in this picture, starting with the cast (Cicily Tyson, Louis Armstrong in an unusually serious role) and a marvelous score by Benny Carter. But I do love the three-minute cameo by Mel Tormé below, doing Carter's "All That Jazz". I've had the privilege over the years of discussing how to film a musical number with the likes of Stanley Donen and Bob Fosse and even Blake Edwards, whose après-ski "Meglior Stasera" is my favorite moment in The Pink Panther. But I have to say this is pretty great. The director is Sean Penn's dad Leo, and I believe he directed only one other feature film:
~Speaking of Kathy Shaidle, she comments on our Song of the Week this morning, and posits, as an alternative to nine-year-old Peter Ford playing the 78 in his parents' living room, that it was "Jimmy DeKnight" (Jim Myers), as technical advisor on the film, who got "Rock Around The Clock" into Blackboard Jungle. Even by the standards of the music business, Myers was a pathological liar. There's no evidence that he ever had anything to do with Blackboard Jungle, and no reason for Pandro Berman or Richard Brooks to hire the guy. My general line on Myers is to start from the position that whatever he said isn't what happened and work backwards from there.
~Speaking of movie stars, I was telling my kids about my new lawyer in the upcoming Mann vs Steyn trial of the century, Dan Kornstein. They're old enough to understand that daddy's being sued for a sum in the high seven figures and their dreams of doing Tolerance and Clitoridectomy Studies at Brandeis are going up in smoke, so they were interested to hear who this Kornstein guy was. And I said his other clients included Bill Clinton and King Michael of Romania, and they asked if he'd represented any showbiz types, and I said yes, Harvey Keitel, and Vanessa Redgrave. And my daughter said, "Who's she?"
And I was trying to think of what movies of Miss Redgrave's they might have seen, when the perfect answer came to me. "Well," I said, "she's Liam Neeson's mother-in-law."
My sons were stunned. "You have the same lawyer as Liam Neeson's mother-in-law?" said my daughter. "Wow."
Mann is toast.
(But any support you might care to offer is most appreciated.)