April 18, 2014

AP: After Years of Touting It, Dems Told Not to Say ‘Recovery’

In a Friday morning dispatch which comes off more as a set of election instructions from “Democratic strategists” than as a real news report, David Espo at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, wanted to make sure that political operatives who don’t read boring pollster reports still get the message: Don’t use the word “recovery” during your fall campaign.

In the course of his missive, Espo falsely claimed that economic growth since the recession officially ended has continued unbroken, and failed to remind his audience that the party has trotted out “recovery” themes several times, only to see historically weak economic and employment results each time. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):

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April 17, 2014

Initial Unemployment Claims (041714): 304K SA; Raw Claims Up 5.8% From Previous Week

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:58 am

Predictions: 

Seasonal adjustment factors:

  • Week ended April 12, 2014 — 104.6
  • Week ended April 13, 2013 — 101.9

Raw claims:

  • Week ended April 5, 2014 — 298,393 (before possible revision; Update: revised to 300,189)
  • Week ended April 13, 2013 — 359,415

For the predictions above to come true, raw claims will need to be 330,000 or lower (330K divided by 1.046 is 315K, rounded).

That’s way too easy. We really should expect a seasonally adjusted value of 287,000 or below, which would mean that raw claims came in at 300,000 or below, or just above what we’ve seen in raw claims during the past two weeks. It’s difficult to see why raw claims should come in any higher, unless conditions are deteriorating. So to be clear, a seasonally adjusted reading of 295K or higher should be seen as BAD news.

We’ll see here at 8:30 a.m. (Note: The Department of Labor began issuing the report in PDF format last week).

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UPDATE: The DOL home page says 304,000, but the new report isn’t at the link yet.

HERE IT IS (the permanent link works):

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending April 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 304,000, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 2,000 from 300,000 to 302,000. The 4-week moving average was 312,000, a decrease of 4,750 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since October 6, 2007 when it was 302,000. The previous week’s average was revised up by 500 from 316,250 to 316,750.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 317,701 in the week ending April 12, an increase of 17,512 (or 5.8 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 16,022 (or 5.3 percent) from the previous week. There were 359,415 initial claims in the comparable week in 2013.

Well, the change in “the seasonal factors” doesn’t make sense. Both the week ended April 5 and the one ended April 12 were full, five-day, early-spring business weeks, and there really shouldn’t have been much change in raw claims from the first week to the second. But there was.

So, though the press surely won’t see it as such, this is a disappointment.

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UPDATE: I haven’t mentioned this in a few weeks, and need to remind readers of it every so often, with a bit of an update.

“Covered employment,” or the number of workers who would be eligible for unemployment benefits if they were laid off or let go, peaked at 133.902 million at the end of 2008. After over five years of “recovery,” it’s currently 130.938 million, or 2.2% below that peak.

Given that private-sector employment is finally back to its pre-recession peak, this tells me that there has been a noticeable shift in the workforce towards people who aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits, i.e., temps and part-timers.

April 16, 2014

Forget the Obama-Nixon Comparisons …

Filed under: Activism,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:59 pm

… because there is no comparison.

Nixon wanted the Internal Revenue Service to go after a small cadre of his enemies. The IRS refused to go along. Nixon could have sacked those who refused, and didn’t.

Barack Obama’s IRS, with the now clearly established knowledge of Eric Holder’s Justice Department, deliberately went after Obama’s mobilizing opposition, often by delaying and deliberately over-scrutinizing activist groups’ non-profit status applications, but sometimes by employing much more serious tactics, including coordinating multi-agency harassments of certain applicants’ businesses.

Now we know that the IRS also wanted DOJ’s help in criminally prosecuting opponents (links are in original; bolds are mine):

Judicial Watch has been chipping away at the IRS stonewall with Freedom of Information Act requests, and just released some new emails that show Tax Exempt Organizations director Lois Lerner was talking to the Justice Department about criminal prosecutions for the groups targeted by her organization.  She was also trying to get the Federal Elections Commission – where she used to work, under similar suspicions of politicized abuse of her authority – involved in the witch hunt.  Judicial Watch previously discovered that the IRS handed tax returns for conservative groups over to the FEC, an action of both questionable utility and dubious legality.

Read the whole thing.

Lest we forget, the IRS was being egged on by congressional Democrats, and the veneer of White House plausible deniability has for all practical purposes evaporated:

We now have a sitting Democrat congressman, Elijah Cummings, a sitting Democrat senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, the Federal Elections Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Internal Revenue Service all implicated in the scandal. Flax’s involvement puts the abuse squarely into the IRS commissioner’s office. But it takes an entity above all of those agencies to coordinate their actions. That entity can only be the White House.

Also, go here:

  • Judicial Watch — “JW Obtains IRS Documents Showing Lerner in Contact With DOJ about Potential Prosecution of Tax-Exempt Groups”
  • Doug Ross — ” IRS Leadership Conspired with Holder Justice Department to Imprison Political Opponents”

Ross’s reax:

… this horrifying scandal … makes Nixon look like a shoplifter at the Dollar Store.

We have a President, an Attorney General, a ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, the IRS, the FBI, and heaven knows what other alphabet soup agencies conspiring to jail political opponents. Our country has been reduced to something akin to Venezuela, only with craploads more debt.

That, my friends, is fascism, straight up.

Another Anti-Brinkman ORPINO Mailing, and Two More Reasons to Vote For Him

Filed under: Activism,Education,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:04 pm

ORPINO (the Ohio Republican Party In Name Only) has sent out another mailer attacking 27th District State Representative candidate Tom Brinkman, claiming that he was named one of the most ineffective legislators or some such nonsense based on his previous State Rep record.

News Flash: ORPINO’s and the Columbus political establishment’s definition of “effective” is “going along with the ever-expanding and ever-encroaching bureaucracy.” Yeah, Tom Brinkman never was a part of that crowd. He opposed all tax increases on principle. In other words, like our Governor, he was Tea Party before there was a Tea Party. Unlike Governor Kasich, he hasn’t betrayed the Tea Party’s core principles.

So the mailer constitutes Reason #2 to vote for Brinkman and to fire Pete Stautberg, his incumbent opponent. (Reason #1 was the first mailer.)

Lest anyone believe I’m solely motivated by dislike of ORPINO (which as a practical matter is enough anyway for those who are pressed for time to do detailed research), I decided to look into the candidates’ positions on Common Core upon learning that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has courageously changed his formerly supportive stance (courageous because the pressure from the Jeb Bush-Bill Gates axis to just keep going along must have been intense). Jindal now opposes it.

Since excising Common Core from Ohio’s classrooms is a very important matter, I emailed the Brinkman campaign and asked where the candidate stands and where his opponent stands.

The candidate responded within a few hours:

I am against Common core.

My opponent is for Common Core.

Thank you for the inquiry.

Please contact me with any other questions.

Thanks.
Tom Brinkman Jr.

So there’s Reason #3.

On the off-chance that the Stautberg campaign doesn’t like being down 0-3, I would welcome their official response.

No Press Story IDs Sentenced Former Bell, Calif. City Manager as a Democrat

In September 2010, Lachlan Markay at NewsBusters put up a post entitled “Eight Dems Arrested in Bell, CA ‘Corruption on Steroids’ – Not a Single Mention of Party Affiliation From Media.”

Almost four years later (!), reviews of search engine results and specific news stories on the sentencing of Robert Rizzo, the community’s former city manager, are again returning no mentions of the fact that Rizzo is a Democrat.

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Homebuilding Data Misses Despite Weather-Clearing Hopes

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:20 am

March was going to be the month the housing industry shook off its bad-weather doldrums and came roaring back due to all kinds of pent-up demand, and … Uh, not really.

From the Census Bureau:

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 990,000. This is 2.4 percent (±1.0%) below the revised February rate of 1,014,000, but is 11.2 percent (±1.1%) above the March 2013 estimate of 890,000.

Single-family authorizations in March were at a rate of 592,000; this is 0.5 percent (±1.0%)* above the revised February figure of 589,000. [1] Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 370,000 in March.

HOUSING STARTS

Privately-owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000. This is 2.8 percent (±14.7%)* above the revised February estimate of 920,000, but is 5.9 percent (±8.4%)* below the March 2013 rate of 1,005,000. [2]

Single-family housing starts in March were at a rate of 635,000; this is 6.0 percent (±15.5%)* above the revised February figure of 599,000. [3] The March rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 292,000.

Notes:

[1] — Actual single-family permits of 50,800 slightly trailed last year’s 51,400. It was the second month in a row actual single-family permits have trailed the previous year.

[2] — Actual starts, at 79,100, were 5.0 percent below the 83,300 seen in March 2013. It too trailed the previous year for the second straight month.

[3] – Actual single-family starts of 54,000 were slightly above the 52,500 seen in March 2013.

Business Insider’s predictions were for 1 million seasonally adjusted annual permits (the report came in 1.0 percent lower) and seasonally adjusted annual 975,000 starts (the report came in 3.0 percent lower). February’s original figures in each category were revised up slightly.

The message from the year-over-year comparisons is, at least for now, that the homebuilding industry has flattened out. If that’s indeed the case, it’s doing so at a completely unacceptable level signifying malaise (and there’s an outside chance that we may really be witnessing the beginning of a decline).

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UPDATE: The Associated Press’s predictable near-whitewash notes that (seasonally adjusted annual) starts “rose 30.7 percent in the Northeast and jumped 65.5 percent in the Midwest” from February to March. The other two regions fell. That doesn’t bode well for future months.

NYT Relays News of Census Bureau’s Health Coverage Survey Changes, Buries Lack of Disclosure Before Elections

In a Tuesday story which appears to have been handed to it on a silver platter, and which the rest of the establishment press seems uninterested in spreading (given that searches at 11:45 p.m. Tuesday at the Associated Press and at Politico returned nothing relevant), the New York Times has reported that the Census Bureau “is changing its annual survey so thoroughly that it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama’s health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said.”

It took Times reporter Robert Pear 15 paragraphs to tell readers that measurement and reporting under the new survey design will be so supposedly difficult that “the agency was not planning to release coverage data from early this year in its next report.” That statement indicates that the government will not disclose anything about how the rollout of Obamacare really affected the number of uninsured Americans — even under the new methodology — before this fall’s elections. Everyone together now, say “How convenient.”

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April 15, 2014

Washington Elite Nutritionist Goes After Bubba Watson For Celebrating Masters Win at Waffle House

After his Masters victory, pro golfer Bubba Watson celebrated with his family at a Waffle House. Pictures tweeted from there went viral. Waffle House appreciated the appreciation.

What’s not to like about this great story? Apparently some self-appointed nanny state-loving guardians of nutrition like Katherine Tallmadge believe that Watson set a bad example for Americans by eating there. Oh, and with her powers of telepathy, she just knows that Watson’s a complete phony about what he really eats. She went after Watson on one of Neil Cavuto’s Fox programs yesterday, and in doing so caught talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s attention. Since Tallmadge’s career success is, as Limbaugh accurately described it, “based on pestering people over what they eat,” and because she apparently likes to play the Washington insider game (complete with a picture of Michelle Obama promoting the Obama administration’s heavy-handed obesity fight at her home page), it seems fair to say that she is not alone in her elitist outlook. So let’s hear what Rush had to say about all of this (HT Daily Rushbo), and why this really is a teachable media moment:

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In Covering House’s Passage of Ryan Budget, AP’s Taylor Presumes $600B Annual Deficits Are ‘Sustainable’

Monday afternoon at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, Andrew Taylor predictably described the House’s passage of the Ryan Budget in shrill terms (in order of appearance): “A slashing budget blueprint”; “Sweeping budget cuts”; balances the budget “at the expense of poor people and seniors”; “sharp cuts to domestic programs”; “staking out a hard line for the future”; and “tough cuts.” Naturally, he failed to disclose that the Ryan budget increases the federal government’s total outlays in each and every fiscal year from 2015 to 2024, with the final projected year coming in at $4.995 trillion, or 42 percent above the $3.523 trillion in spending the Congressional Budget Office predicted yesterday for fiscal 2014.

In the process of performing the AP’s usual hatchet job, Taylor let loose with a howler about the federal government’s ability to continue on its current financial path. The AP reporter may also have inadvertently let something slip into his narrative about the viability of a cherished government program, something which is a deep, dark secret to most Americans, but is quite well-known to those who watch things more closely:

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April 14, 2014

AP’s Rugaber: Continued Large Deficits Signify ‘Improvement in the Nation’s Finances’

On Thursday, Christopher Rugaber’s assignment at the Associated Press was to cover that day’s release of Uncle Sam’s Monthly Treasury Statement for March.

If the AP economics writer had limited the scope of his coverage to the statement itself, his coverage would have been passed muster. But, as he and his AP colleagues so often do, Rugaber felt it was duty to offer what he must have thought was helpful analysis. He wrote that March’s reported $37 billion deficit, an admitted significant improvement over the March 2013 result, even after adjusting for timing differences in end-of-month receipts and outlays, was “the latest sign of improvement in the nation’s finances.” The last time I checked, running significantly in the red is not an improvement. It really signifies less rapid deterioration, especially since fiscal 2014 in full is still expected to end with deficit of over $500 billion.

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Michael Graham: Brandeis Embraced Bill Ayers, Has Bred Terrorists

In one of a pair of Sunday posts at his web site, New England talk show host Michael Graham added an emphatic exclamation point to Brent Bozell’s and Tim Graham’s Saturday column condemning the cowardice and hypocrisy of Brandeis University’s decision to revoke its commencement invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In the other, Graham roasted the Boston Globe for backing Brandeis.

Bozell and Tim Graham rightly pointed to the university’s embrace of particularly nasty anti-Catholic and anti-Israel speakers. Michael Graham found yet another example adding toxic icing to an already rancid cake, and noted that three of its female graduates have achieved a unique level of infamy (links are in each original; bolds are mine throughout):

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April 13, 2014

AP Goes to Occupy Movement-Supporting Enviro Group For Comment on Bundy Ranch Standoff

Guess who’s all of a sudden standing up for law and order? Why, it’s radical environmentalists, who despite their general disdain for lawful behavior have felt compelled to speak out in support of the Bureau of Land Management’s attempts to round up Cliven Bundy’s cattle and ultimately force the Nevada rancher to abandon his family’s century-old business.

Martin Griffith at the Associated Press relayed the comments of one such group in a Sunday report in the aftermath of the BLM’s abandonment of its roundup efforts, in Griffith’s words, “after hundreds of states’ rights protesters, some of them armed militia members, showed up at corrals outside Mesquite to demand the animals’ release” (There’s much to it than that; go this archived Drudge Report page for more; bolds are mine throughout this post):

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Reuters Covers Two Dozen Anti-Tech Protesters in San Francisco, Ignores Their $3B Demand, Call to End Capitalism

On Friday, Reuters dispatched Sarah McBride, a San Francisco area reporter, to cover a protest by two dozen people. Seriously.

According to the headline at McBride’s story, the presence of these two dozen protesters demonstrated that “San Francisco tech money protests intensify.” McBride utterly failed to describe the protester’s ultimate goals: lots and lots of money and an end to capitalism. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):

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Regulatory Tyranny Flies Under the Radar

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:59 am

Courtesy of Barack Obama’s Department of Labor.

_______________________________________

This column went up at PJ Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Friday.

_______________________________________

While those who cherish what’s left of our freedoms are rightly concerned about the sacking and the blacklisting of Mozilla’s Brendan Eich, Democrats’ media-coordinated lying about and demonization of the Koch brothers, and other visible evidence of unfettered intolerance, the regulatory tyranny (“arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority”) which has become the default modus operandi of Barack Obama’s administration continues unabated.

Three examples of the quiet despotic work being carried out by Dear Leader’s government come from the Department of Labor, where Tom Perez succeeded the scandal-plagued Hilda Solis last year.

One lightly reported element of Obama “equal pay” initiative — an effort which is based on an objectively false premise, and which the press almost joyfully admits is primarily about motivating uninformed voters — is an “executive order banning federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation.”

This unwanted and harmful interference with a common and time-tested employer practice is bad enough. What’s far less well-known and far worse is that Obama has, in USA Today’s words, also told Perez to “to establish new regulations requiring federal contractors to submit to the Department of Labor summary data on compensation paid to their employees, including data by sex and race.” DOL says this information will “encourage voluntary compliance with equal pay laws” and enable “more targeted enforcement.” Trust me; the latter is far more important than the former.

This information will provide a handy litigation roadmap for DOL and Eric Holder’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It will also be a bonanza for trial lawyers, who will immediately demand this information in discovery any time they bring a pay-related legal action. Most trial lawyers “just so happen” to favor leftist candidates and causes. There is one problem which I expect the judicial system will blow off: The only way to ensure that the submitted data is complete and probative would be to force each and every employee in America to declare their race, a provision which is currently optional. I would suggest that every job applicant alarmed by this development should henceforth exercise their option to not disclose. Those who are currently employed should see if they can undo any previous disclosure.

Further interfering with employer prerogatives, Richard Griffin, who is general counsel at Perez’s National Labor Relations Board, intends “to give unions a veto over a unionized employer’s decision to relocate.” Predictably, he plans to achieve his goal through subterfuge:

Griffin’s guidance will be to order an employer to be prosecuted not on the basis of what the law is but on the law as Griffin would like it to be. This will give the board an opportunity to change the law (though the change will be prospective — the employer who is prosecuted will not be punished for violating the new rule).

Finally, DOL’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has begun to implement an interpretation which should have set off alarm bells when it was first disclosed a year ago, and clearly didn’t:

The new interpretation from Richard Fairfax, Deputy Assistant Secretary of OSHA, to Steve Sallman, Health and Safety Specialist with the United Steelworkers Union, asserts that OSHA’s standard for Representatives of Employers and Employees allows workers at establishments without collective bargaining agreements to designate outside representatives or union agents to represent them during OSHA inspections.

This ruling contradicts the plain language of OSHA’s governing regulation …

As if they care.

Earlier this week, Greta Van Susteren, in an otherwise informative report, allowed OSHA to falsely claim that “allowing non-employee third party representative to accompany OSHA inspectors on walk around inspections is not a new OSHA policy … if that third party representative is necessary to conduct a thorough investigation.” Exactly how can a planted union “representative,” i.e., thug, who probably hasn’t done related or even any blue-collar work in years, possibly be of any assistance?

Van Susteren interviewed CEO Brent Southwell of Professional Janitorial Service, whose company has over 1,000 employees. Despite no employee-initiated complaints and “26 years without a single OSHA write-up,” Southwell disclosed that OSHA had recently visited him three separate times, in each instance accompanied by a representative of the Service Employees International Union. How oddly coincidental it is that PJS “is currently suing SEIU for $9 million” for alleged slander.

These actions, all of which appear to be inevitable and/or unstoppable, make a mockery of the administration’s oft-professed interest in economic growth. The prediction of a former NLRB chairman about its new “can’t relocate” rule really applies to all three DOL moves: They “will hasten those companies’ demise and harm the economy.”

Why would any sane person run a company or hire any or more employees in this hostile environment? A partial answer that question is that fewer Americans are choosing to start up new businesses, and those who do are deciding not to put anyone besides their founders on the payroll. The small firm start-up rate in recent years has been miles below where it was in the 1980s, and employment growth at such firms has been painfully slow.

Another online site recently noted that if its budget was seen as a separate economy, the federal government would be the third-largest in the world. Of course, the problem with seeing Uncle Sam’s enterprise as an economy is that it produces very little of value beyond providing national security, which is naturally where this administration is cutting military and diplomatic corners. Despite the Keynesians’ claims, sending out $2 trillion in entitlement checks per year is not an economy-advancing enterprise.

In such a vast organization, it’s not unreasonable to believe that a great deal of despotic behavior is going undetected. To cite just one accidentally discovered example, who would have known about EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz’s preemptive, evidence-free war on fracking if he hadn’t been caught on tape in 2012 telling an audience of coworkers that his regulatory philosophy was to “crucify” and “make examples of” alleged environmental offenders?

Unfortunately, too many on the right who should be monitoring internal developments and screaming when abuses are found, especially in Congress, have shown that they’re more interested in reelection and building their coffers than in the blocking and tackling inherent in their assigned oversight roles.

Thus, while only suffering minor setbacks from time to time, the regulatory tyranny advances.

April 12, 2014

The Nevada Ranch Standoff (See Exit Question and Updates)

Graphic of the Day, via Matt Hurley, concerning the Bundy Ranch standoff, in which the Bureau of Land Management has backed downfor now:

BundyRanchImmigrationGraphic0414

Well, the problem is that this isn’t our federal government.

It’s the Washington establishment’s federal government, in this case attempting to benefit the family and cronies of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Links:

- Dana Loesch (“The Real Story Behind The Bundy Ranch Harassment”; links are in original and bolds are mine throughout this post) —

A tortoise isn’t the reason why BLM is harassing a 67 year-old rancher. They want his land. The tortoise wasn’t of concern when Harry Reid worked BLM to literally change the boundaries of the tortoise’s habitat to accommodate the development of his top donor, Harvey Whittemore. Whittemore was convicted of illegal campaign contributions to Senator Reid. Reid’s former senior adviser is now the head of BLM. Reid is accused of using the new BLM chief as a puppet to control Nevada land (already over 84% of which is owned by the federal government) and pay back special interests. BLM has proven that they’ve a situational concern for the desert tortoise as they’ve had no problem waiving their rules concerning wind or solar power development. Clearly these developments have vastly affected a tortoise habitat more than a century-old, quasi-homesteading grazing area. If only Clive Bundy were a big Reid donor.

BLM has also tried to argue that the rules have changed, long after Bundy claims he secured rights and paid his dues to Clark County, Nevada.

*UPDATE: Those who say Bundy is a “deadbeat” are making inaccurate claims. Bundy has in fact paid fees to Clark County, Nevada in an arrangement pre-dating the BLM. The BLM arrived much later, changed the details of the setup without consulting with Bundy — or any other rancher — and then began systematically driving out cattle and ranchers. Bundy refused to pay BLM, especially after they demanded he reduce his heard’s head count down to a level that would not sustain his ranch. Bundy OWNS the water and forage rights to this land. He paid for these rights. He built fences, established water ways, and constructed roads with his own money, with the approval of Nevada and BLM. When BLM started using his fees to run him off the land and harassing him, he ceased paying. So should BLM reimburse him for managing the land and for the confiscation of his water and forage rights?

Cliven Bundy’s problem isn’t that he didn’t pay — he did — or that his cattle bother tortoises — they don’t — it’s that he’s not a Reid donor.

- InfoWars (“Sen. Harry Reid Behind BLM Land Grab of Bundy Ranch”) —

The Bureau of Land Management, whose director was Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) former senior adviser, has purged documents from its web site stating that the agency wants Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle off of the land his family has worked for over 140 years in order to make way for solar panel power stations.

FreeRepublic activists have preserved them here and have posted them in the comments (spread through several web pages).

- The standoff story, per Infowars (“Feds Back Down In New Bundy Standoff, Agree to Release Cattle”) —

In an epic standoff that Infowars reporter David Knight described as being like “something out of a movie,” supporters of Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy advanced on a position held by BLM agents despite threats that they would be shot at, eventually forcing BLM feds to release 100 cattle that had been stolen from Bundy as part of a land grab dispute that threatened to escalate into a Waco-style confrontation.

Despite the fact that Bureau of Land Management officials agreed to cease their operation to seize Bundy’s cattle after a massive public backlash, Bundy demanded that Sheriff Douglas Gillespie disarm BLM officials and return his stolen cows.

When this didn’t happen, hundreds of Bundy supporters, including cowboys on horseback, descended on a nearby cattle pen outside of Mesquite where the seized cows were being held.

In a tense standoff, armed BLM feds, backed up by at least one SWAT team, threatened to shoot at Bundy supporters if they marched any closer to a line of vehicles.

Despite threats such as “one more step and you’re dead,” the protesters continued their slow march towards BLM agents as bullhorns blared.

Refusing to back down, the protesters marched straight past the armed men and towards the cattle pen.

Sheriff Gillespie eventually appeared to inform Bundy supporters that the BLM had finally caved and agreed to release the 100 cattle they had seized that were inside the pen.

After around 30 minutes, Bundy supporters saw the cattle being released about a mile away in the distance.

It cannot be overstated how much of a gargantuan victory this represents for the American people in their battle against big government tyranny.

“The people have the power when they unite,” Ammon Bundy told the Las Vegas Review Journal. “The war has just begun.”

I understand the exhiliration and am impressed and heartened by the courage of those involved, but this is no “gargantuan victory.” It’s more like an opening skirmish — and not just at Cliven Bundy’s ranch. The government is surely recalibrating its strategies, there and elsewhere.

Special kudos go to Matt Drudge, who took the risk of citing stories originating from so-called “fringe” sites (some of the leading lights of the center-right blogosphere did not cover themselves with glory in this regard).

Make no mistake: This standoff ended when it did because Harry Reid cannot afford to let his cronyism get widely exposed, which was certainly going to happen if it had lasted into Monday. Perhaps it still will, but establishment press resistance and attempted ridicule will be substantial.

EXIT QUESTION: Does anyone still believe that the Constitution’s Second Amendment isn’t as much about citizens defending themselves against an out-of-control government as it is about the natural-law right of self-defense?

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UPDATE, April 13: Received an email from a trustworthy source claiming that “the number of citizens who WOULD have shown up at the Bundy ranch in Nevada during the standoff, and the number of eyewitness reports about federal abuses on the way would have been overwhelming if the feds had not illegally blocked their travel.”

UPDATE 2, April 13: Jerome Corsi“REID SMELLING ANYTHING BUT ROSY IN RANCH FIGHT; Desert showdown blows lid off long-standing plans with Chinese”