(Insert jokes about the special privileges afforded to big-time campaign contributors here.)
In Utah's Iron County, local officials are itching to round up herds of wild horses that they say, with reason, are competing with ranchers' cattle for the scarce grazing sustenance to be found in that drought-stricken part of the world. And they are threatening to go ahead with or without the approval of the agency that is legally in charge of the acreage in question, the Bureau of Land Management.
In Nevada's Clark County, it is the BLM that is conducting a roundup. Its agents are gathering, and plan to sell, some 900 head of cattle, many of them owned by rancher Cliven Bundy.
Bundy claims his Mormon forebears settled that harsh land long before the BLM was a gleam in the bureaucracy's eye and that he thus has the right to continue to run his cattle over some 600,000 parched acres near the Virgin River in an area called Gold Butte.
The BLM seriously differs, saying Bundy owes them more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees and that he was supposed to have ended his activities in the area in 1998 because he refused to comply with efforts to minimize threats to endangered species, specifically the desert tortoise.
Bundy and his supporters are threatening to wage a "range war" with the feds, and BLM rangers did briefly arrest and, allegedly, "rough up" one of Bundy's sons Sunday.
The whole issue is so hot that Utah officials successfully petitioned the BLM to cancel plans to move some of the seized cattle to Utah for storage and sale. The matter will remain a Nevada one, at least for now.
It would be madness for anyone to come to blows over either issue. Government officials, of course, are those most responsible for seeing that cooler heads prevail.
But the fact is, all this land has an owner. It is the federal government. Anyone who behaves otherwise is trespassing, and must be treated as such.