Sunday, April 20, 2014

My Sunday Feeling

I used to have to deal with guys like Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy who you may recall is being horribly miscast in the nutbar media as a patriot and much put upon small time rancher who is standing up for State's Rights as the feds try to round up cattle that he has been grazing on Federal land.  

Back in my day, the government protester types were the Militia and the Posse Comitatus and they existed pretty much pre-Internet.  And thank God. Because the lack of an instantaneous world wide forum kept the dispute between the government and the loons I had to deal with confined locally and on paper.

Actually, while some of the militia types I dealt with were nuts, many of them were desperate and under the sway of criminals who convinced them for a fee that they could repay debt with "10th Amendment Letters of Credit", biblical defenses to foreclosure and other nonsense.  It was a pretty crazy time.

But none of my "patriot" types had armed sympathizers show up at any government foreclosure sale.  Or if any of them were packing they had the good sense not to throw down at the courthouse steps. Nobody ever escalated the situation with me as has Clive Bundy.

Here's the narrative that I have seen rolled out on Facebook and in certain media outlets who either flunked out of News School or decided there was more money to be made in forgetting anything they ever learned there. 

According to that zeitgeist, Bundy is an embattled rancher who is fighting to preserve his freedoms and to the Feds and their "jack booted thugs" (always "jack booted thugs")from seizing his cattle that are grazing on lands set aside for conservation.  Bundy claims a right to be out there because his family supposedly "homesteaded" the area in the late 1800s.  Further, he claims to not recognize the Federal government and he states that only Nevada law applies to his case.

Anyway, the Feds began rounding up the cattle.  Bundy called in his supporters, many of the armed, to "defend his rights." Cameras rolled.  Sound bytes were gleaned.  Uncle sensibly backed off, not wanting to get into a shoot out with an elderly man over cattle.

The arc of the narrative is that this brave patriot, in standing up to a capricious government, is standing up for all of our rights.  Rights that have been usurped by a rapacious and uncaring Federal government.

Of course, most of this is not true.  The truth of the matter is that Uncle didn't just decide one day to go out and make an example of Clive Bundy.  Bundy has been in litigation with the Department of Justice over these issues since 1996.  

The United States government own practically 70% of the land in Nevada. It issues permits to allow grazing and other activities on the land that it owns. In the early 1990s the government dedicated hundreds of thousands of acres to be set aside for conservation.  They approached affected ranchers and attempted to buy back the grazing rights.  Bundy refused to sell.  The Bureau of Land Management revoked his permit.  In 1998, a Federal Judge issued a permanent injunction against Bundy and ordered the cattle off the land.  He appealed.  He lost.  Regardless, he refused to remove the cattle.  He racks up fines that he refuses to pay.

In 2012, the BLM goes back to Court seeking another injunction. In August 2013, the Court orders Bundy to remove within 45 days.  In October of that year he is ordered not interfere with any attempt to seize the cattle.  During the 1st of April all of his children and grandchildren join him in the family compound to defend against the planned seizure of the cattle.  About 30 armed sympathizers show up as well.  As stated earlier on, the Feds backed off.  For now.

Clive Bundy is no patriot.  He is a deadbeat and scofflaw who has grazed cattle for free on lands where we well knew that he was not allowed to.  In doing so he has been systematically and continuously ripping off the taxpayers, that would be you and me, while placing folks in physical danger who are guilty of no more then doing their jobs.  Jobs they had every authority to carry out by more than one court order.

And his claim that the laws of Nevada trump the laws of the United States? Complete bullshit.  The Nevada Constitution expressly recognizes the supremacy of the United States Constitution.  He doesn't have a leg to stand on legally.  But you wouldn't know that if you listen to the Tea Party types that are trying to make Cliven Bundy the second coming of Thomas Paine.

I wish I didn't have to pay income and real estate taxes.  But I do.  I wish I didn't have to pay car insurance. But I do.  And if I failed to do those things I don't think that I would hold myself out as some kinda patriot while sounding the completely false alarm that my rights were being infringed upon.

What a world.  Conservatives used to believe in rule of law.  Most still do. At least the ones I know still do.  And all of us can be sympathetic to a man acting on what he perceives to be principle, even if they be wrong-headed.

But forget what you hear on Fox or on Facebook.  Cliven Bundy is not a man of principle.  He is a deadbeat draped in the flag.

But boy am I glad that Bill Wade and the rest of the Posse back there in Greene County didn't have cable TV or Internet access back when I had to fool with them.  And I'm glad that I don't work for the BLM in Arizona right now. 

Some civil service jobs just ain't worth it.  

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