Archive for April 15, 2014

Over the Edge

Posted: April 15, 2014 by Marner in Current Events
Tags: , , ,

I’ve been following the Cliven Bundy story this past week, including Casper and Watson’s interactions, and it strikes me as the spark that could drive the right wing extremists over the edge. We have a man putting himself forward as just a simple rancher trying to make a living and the extremists are using him as an opportunity to start the shooting war they’ve been wanting since January 2009. First let’s look at the facts in the case:

  1. Cliven Bundy paid grazing fees to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) prior to 1993 without protest. When he was told he had to reduce the number of cattle grazing on his leased lots in order to protect tortoise habitat, he stopped paying fees. All ranchers in the area had to abide by the new limit, not just Bundy. BLM revoked his lease in 1994 because Bundy did not renew the lease.
  2. Bundy continued to graze his cattle on the BLM land without paying the lease. BLM took Bundy to court and in 1998 the court ordered Bundy to remove the cattle or pay a $200 per day fine on each cow that remained. Bundy appealed and lost the appeal in 1999. Bundy ignored the ruling and kept his cattle on the BLM land.
  3. Over the next 14 years, Bundy not only kept his cattle on the land, but increased the number of head and allowed them to graze on land that was not in the original lease. During this time, BLM tracked the number of cattle Bundy had on the property and tried to negotiate a settlement. In 2012, BLM even offered to round up the cattle for Bundy, sell them to a market of Bundy’s choosing, and give him all of the money from the sale, even though he had already racked up over $1,000,000 in unpaid fees.
  4. In 2013, a third federal court ruled again for BLM and the ruling was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court in February of this year. BLM was authorized to remove the cattle from their land.

Those are the basic facts. After Bundy was told he had to reduce the number, not remove, the cattle on the tracts that he leased from BLM, he had an epiphany that the federal government was illegitimate and could not rightfully own any land in Nevada. His theory was based on the residents of the Nevada territory voting for statehood and giving up title to public lands as stated in the Nevada State Constitution. Bundy’s position is that once Nevada became a state, the territory’s residents’ vote could not give up state lands to the federal government. Bundy all of a sudden decided the federal government didn’t legally exist.

The first thing the facts show is that Bundy is a freeloader who has been scamming the government for free grazing land for over 20 years. He is no different than the person who moves into an empty house and claims it for their own. It would be one thing if that were all, but it’s not. Bundy is also an amoral who is more than happy to put others’ safety and lives at risk in order to continue receiving his ill-gotten gains. He has turned his scam into a cause for the extreme fringe of the right wing that is just itching for an opportunity to trade shots with the government.

The first to rally around Bundy’s fake cause is Richard Mack, a former Arizona county sheriff. Mack was at the Bundy standoff and said that the extremists planned to use women as human shields if any shots were fired.

“It was a tactical plot that I was trying to get them to use,” Mack said in comments flagged by The Raw Story. “If they’re going to start killing people, I’m sorry, but to show the world how ruthless these people are, women needed to be the first ones shot.”

“I’m sorry, that sounds horrible,” he continued. “I would have put my own wife or daughters there, and I would have been screaming bloody murder to watch them die. I would gone next, I would have been the next one to be killed. I’m not afraid to die here. I’m willing to die here.”

Mack is actually willing to die to help a scammer avoid paying grazing fees and abiding by federal law. At least that’s what he says. It’s clear, though, that he is willing to sacrifice his wife and daughters for the cause.

Bundy has gathered not only Mack, but other extreme groups, such as the Minutemen and Oath Keepers. For those who don’t remember, the Minutemen was a southern border vigilante group founded by Shawna Forde, who was later convicted of murdering a 9 year girl and her father, as well as seriously wounding the girl’s mother. Forde was sentenced to death in 2011. Another Minutemen founder, Chris Simcox, was arrested last year for child molestation. Oath Keepers is a so-called “patriot” group that is gleefully planning for the day when they are able to get into a shooting war with the federal government.

These types of groups (Minutemen, Oath Keepers, and Sovereign Citizens) have seen a large surge since 2008. They spout crazy theories, such as Obama is planning to start a race war, to keep their followers frothing and itching to pull the trigger. Luckily, 95% of the people who join and support these groups are merely paying lip service. They want the predictions to come true, but they aren’t willing to put their lives on the line to make it happen. Unfortunately, there remains 5%. These are the “true believers” who will do anything to see their vision of a second civil war come to pass. Some of these people, like Mack, were in Nevada last weekend and only the cooler heads of BLM kept it from becoming a bloodbath. And it would have been a bloodbath. Keep in mind, these are the type of people who believe David Koresh was innocent and Janet Reno started the fire at Waco. These are the people who believe Randy Weaver didn’t put his wife and child in the line of fire when he forced a standoff with federal authorities. And these are the people who believe Obama wants to kill all of those god-fearing white folk.

Bundy has to be brought to account for his flouting of federal laws and his theft from the American taxpayers. The government will try to resolve this without anyone getting hurt, most likely by taking Bundy himself into custody for contempt and holding him until the cattle are removed from federal lands. However, these extremist groups will do everything they can to make sure someone does get hurt, and when they do, the government must come down on them hard and fast.

So the fringe of the conservative right — and it is the fringe — rallies around a deadbeat rancher who thinks he’s entitled to use the public’s land like it’s his own private property. A stark contrast to the outrage when some protesters sat on sidewalks.

See, that was different. To the very same conservatives now rallying around Cliven Bundy, those sidewalk guys were “occupying public property then breaking laws to stay there.” The nerve. And the kicker: “Once these people are finally gone, how much taxpayer money is it going to take to fix the messes they left behind?” It’s always about money with these people, isn’t it?