Tag Archives: Bunkerville

The Manufactured Martyrs: Nevada’s Bundyland Bunch

Bundy 2

There are specious arguments, and then there are those which are just downright hysterical. Hysterically funny or screaming tantrums hysterical;  the defense of the Bundy Bunch looks to fit into both those categories.

Cliven Bundy wants to be released from Federal custody because the government is holding him as a Political Prisoner?  At least according to attorney Joel Hansen:

“The government seems to be afraid that it might lose in a jury trial, so it wants to keep him in prison, in solitary confinement, as long as it can because he, like Nelson Mandela, is a political prisoner,” Hansen wrote. “There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution allowing the federal government to hold political prisoners without a trial. Nothing.” [LVRJ]

For those unfamiliar with the right wing of Nevada’s right wing politics, Joel Hansen is part of the Hansen Family Party, aka the Independent American Party which boasts 70,323 registered voters in Nevada, making it the third largest party in the state. The numbers sound impressive until it’s noted that there are 585,890 registered Democrats and 493,612 registered Republicans; and, 295,319 registered as non-partisan. [NV SoS]  As recently as 2002 the Hansen family was the heart of the IAP in Nevada, and members were running for all manner of offices – some inviting controversy with then Secretary of State Dean Heller by not filing campaign financial reports with his office. [LVSun]

So, where does Joel Hansen find the justification for comparing failing rancher Cliven Bundy with international hero Mandela?  We can start with the IAP Platform:

“We believe that to maintain freedom, our political institutions must be founded upon faith in God and upon moral laws and principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution for the United States, the Bill of Rights, and the Holy Scriptures.  We believe that the function of government is to protect life, liberty, property, and the fundamental and God-given rights of the people, and that anything more than this is usurpation and oppression.” [IAP

And they do mean Anything, including the management of federal land and properties.

We oppose intrusion of the federal government in areas that rightfully belong to the states.  We favor abolishing federal control of all lands, except for necessary forts, military bases, post offices, etc., as enumerated in, but limited by, the Constitution.  We support the return to the states of all lands unconstitutionally seized, acquired or controlled by the federal government (10th Amendment), and those taken unconstitutionally as “required” for that state to join the Union. [IAP]

Indeed, manufacturing martyrs requires believing that federal management of federal facilities, and federal lands, constitutes “usurpation and oppression.”

Further, the Hansen-Bundy philosophy requires looping into the realm of a fantasy in which the armed resistance to BLM operations, and the armed takeover of a federal wildlife refuge meets the definition of a “peaceful protest.”  Additionally, it’s still a peaceful protest even if it was originally estimated to cost $3.3 million to clean up the mess made at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, and then the estimate increased to approximately $6 million by March 23, 2016. [OregonLive]  Evidently, abandoned homes, compromised bank accounts, and death threats to workers at the Malheur Refuge were part of a “peaceful protest?” [OregonLive]

Cliven Bundy’s problems, however, stem not from the Malheur assault and occupation – that bundle falls to his offspring — but from his response to BLM attempts to enforce federal regulations on lands it is tasked to manage near Bunkerville, NV.

“Bundy faces 16 felony counts, including extortion, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal law enforcement officer and using and carrying a firearm in a crime of violence.

Bundy and 18 others — including four of his sons, Ammon, Ryan, Melvyn and David — were charged in a new federal indictment in Las Vegas last week in connection with the April 12, 2014, Bunkerville showdown.” [LVRJ]

Bundy Armed

Photos from the Bunkerville “peaceful protest” don’t seem to argue for an interpretation of a  non-violent approach to discussing issues of cattle operations with the Bureau of Land Management.

 

Hansen and his client have a bit of a problem trying to turn the actions at Bunkerville into Bunker Hill.  Either the demonstrations at the site were peaceful, and none of the armed gunmen actually intended to fire their weapons, or it was a exemplar of armed resistance to the Federal oppressors and usurpers – at which time it’s no longer a “peaceful protest,” and that part about “obstruction of justice,” and “threatening law enforcement officers” is  both relevant and provable.

Hansen: “Does Mr. Bundy have the right to raise a constitutional question about the legality of the high-handed tactics of the BLM?” Hansen asked in his court papers. “Of course he does — and particularly by making statements about the actions of the BLM and by the exercise of people’s First Amendment right to peacefully assemble and the people’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.” [LVRJ]

By this logic, if one were to show up at a BLM office, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, fully loaded, and pointed at the personnel inside, this would be “making a statement?” Exercising freedom of speech? And, just showing support for the 2nd Amendment?  This ought to explain fully and quickly precisely how the sons decided that taking over a wildlife refuge was a “good idea.”   It goes nowhere toward explaining how attorney and IAP pillar Joel Hansen is going to turn the muggers into martyrs.

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Enough Sovereign Citizens: Las Vegas Plot 2013 to Bundy 2014

Bundy 2In August 2013 two ‘sovereign citizens’ in Las Vegas, NV planned to capture and then execute a Las Vegas police officer.  The idea was to kidnap an officer at random, “try” him or her in a makeshift court packed with fellow ‘sovereign citizens’ and then kill the unfortunate law enforcement officer.  Their lovely mug shots are available here.

David Allan Brutsche, 42, and Devon Campbell Newman, 67 were to be arraigned on October 8, 2013 after Brutsche tried to persuade the court that he could represent himself.  Newman was to be assisted by a public defender. [LVRJ]  Instead of facing a trial, Newman, who had no prior criminal record, took a plea deal. [Mail AP]  Later  Brutsche also accepted a plea bargain, pleading guilty to a felony conspiracy charge, getting a five year probation deal with orders to stay away from any connections to the Sovereign Citizens movement. He remained in jail as of April 13, 2014 because of his failure to register as a sex offender. [LVWN]

In short, Las Vegas law enforcement is all too aware of the Sovereign Citizens, and the kinds of people who become involved.  They are probably not  likely to see other adherents of Cliven Bundy’s philosophy as ‘boy scouts and grandmothers.’ [Heller/Roll Call]

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also aware of them, and aware of the danger they pose:

“Since 2000, lone-offender sovereign-citizen extremists have killed six law enforcement officers. In 2010, two Arkansas police officers stopped sovereign-citizen extremists Jerry Kane and his 16-year-old son Joseph during a routine traffic stop on Interstate 40. Joseph Kane jumped out of the vehicle and opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle, killing both officers.” [FBI 2011]

Was Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) using hyperbole when he described the Bundy mob as “domestic terrorists?  Not unless the FBI is applying hyperbole as well:

The FBI considers sovereign-citizen extremists as comprising a domestic terrorist movement, which, scattered across the United States, has existed for decades, with well-known members, such as Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, bombing. Sovereign citizens do not represent an anarchist group, nor are they a militia, although they sometimes use or buy illegal weapons. Rather, they operate as individuals without established leadership and only come together in loosely affiliated groups to train, help each other with paperwork, or socialize and talk about their ideology. They may refer to themselves as “constitutionalists” or “freemen,” which is not necessarily a connection to a specific group, but, rather, an indication that they are free from government control. They follow their own set of laws. While the philosophies and conspiracy theories can vary from person to person, their core beliefs are the same: The government operates outside of its jurisdiction. Because of this belief, they do not recognize federal, state, or local laws, policies, or regulations.” [FBI bulletin 9/2011]  (emphasis added)

What were Cliven Bundy’s words? “His personal grievance with federal authority doesn’t stop with the BLM, though. “I believe this is a sovereign state of Nevada,” Bundy said in a radio interview last Thursday. “I abide by all of Nevada state laws. But I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.” [Atlantic]  In this instance there’s a bit of nuance in Bundy’s philosophy — he does recognize county and state government, just not the federal one. Evidently, he’s not quite the constitutionalist he’d like to be, since he missed Article I, Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution.  That’s the part which begins with:

“All political power is inherent in the people[.] Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it. But the Paramount Allegiance of every citizen is due to the Federal Government in the exercise of all its Constitutional powers…”

As the FBI advised, these Sovereign Citizens have varying philosophies and conspiracy theories,  and Mr. Bundy’s appears to be a variation on a common theme — government doesn’t have jurisdiction over my activities — in his case it’s the federal government.

And who joined him in his “protest?” The Oath Keepers were front and center.  The FBI has been watching this and other groups which seek to attract members of the military and veterans, as set forth in a July 2008 report. (pdf)  The level of paranoia in the Oath Keeper’s 10 Rules is clear, if not absolutely blatant.   Justine Sharrock’s April 2010 article for Mother Jones should be required reading for anyone who wants an in-depth look at the Oath Keeper’s disturbing and perhaps invidious philosophy.

So, on April 12, 2014 Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) made this request to the Bundy followers:

“The dispute is over, the BLM is leaving, but emotions and tensions are still near the boiling point, and we desperately need a peaceful conclusion to this conflict,” Heller said.  “I urge all the people involved to please return to your homes and allow the BLM officers to collect their equipment and depart without interference.”

Yes, and this to a group of people who believe that the government is simply waiting for a catastrophic event during which it can incarcerate citizens in concentration camps?  Who will not “disarm American citizens?” Who will not obey orders to impose martial law?” Who will not assist foreign troops to keep order on American soil?

This? to Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff who is going to save America from gun control? Who is an inductee in the National Rifle Association Hall of Fame?  Who is a devotee of the radical philosophy of W. Cleon Skousen? W. Cleon “Pocahantas was a Communist” Skousen? [MJ]

If anyone has any doubts as to why federal agents and BLM employees thought they needed armed protection, the presence of the Oath Keepers and Richard Mack should resolve the question quickly.

The question remains, if the law enforcement community in Clark County has a heightened awareness of so-called sovereign citizens,  and the FBI has been watching organizations like the Sovereignty Movement and the Oath Keepers, then WHY did Senator Heller walk directly into the morass in support of Bundy in the first place?

As noted in the previous post, he’s now back-pedaling as quickly as he can after Cliven Bundy’s outrageously racist remarks.

Bundy’s remaining public supporter is none other than Clark County’s own Assemblywoman Michele Fiore who issued this statement: ” Fiore said Bundy “has said things I don’t agree with,” but “we cannot let this divert our attention from the true issue of the atrocities BLM committed by harming our public land and the animals living on it.” [The Wire]

What atrocities? Tazing a man who kicked a police dog?  What harm to the land?  However, what can we expect from an Assemblywoman whose Mother’s Day blog greeting included a photo of all the women-folk armed to the hilt…or the stock if you prefer?  If one is known by the company kept, then Assemblywoman Fiore’s association with the likes of the Oath Keepers and Richard Mack may get her into the NRA Hall of Fame, but it won’t prevent questions about her penchant for supporting ultra-right wing radical causes.

After Cliven Bundy’s sad little tirade about “the Negro” the scales should have fallen from everyone’s eyes — the core of the issue for Mr. Bundy isn’t essentially about BLM operations, or two court orders — it’s about preserving a revised White Man’s America.  An America in which all those enslaved people were ‘happy’ — ‘must be why the old Gospel song says, “And before I’d be a slave I’d be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free?”  It’s a White Man’s America — out of a Hollywood western.   It’s a White Man’s America that never was except in the perfervid imaginations of the seriously disturbed and the wildly radical.

Meanwhile in the real world, the BLM will revise and recalibrate its enforcement strategies, the courts may have to hear more litigation on the matter, and in the end … Mr. Bundy may be forced to follow the provisions of Article I, Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution and admit that the federal government is, in fact, due our paramount allegiance.

 

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A Well Tuned Whine at the Bundy Ranch

Bundy 2Just what do you say to lawbreakers when they refuse to cooperate with legal decisions?  In Public Lands Council vs. Babbitt the U.S. Supreme Court decided that, yes, the Bureau of Land Management did have the Constitutional authority to enforce the provisions of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934, 43 USC 315.  What do you say to a freeloading rancher who lost in a Federal District Court in July 2013 (pdf) and again in October 2013 (pdf)?

Nevada’s own freeloading rancher, Cliven Bundy, doesn’t have any “right” to graze his cattle on public land. The land is not his property. He has no deed for the property, it is not for his sole and exclusive use.  [TWN]  There is no “land grab” because the land never belonged to Mr. Bundy in the first place.  How much simpler can the issue be? It is public land, the administration and management of the land is established in 43 USC 315, the law was confirmed as Constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court on May 15, 2000 in a 9-0 decision from Chief Justice Rehnquist’s court.  [Oyez Project] And, not one but two Federal judges have informed Mr. Bundy he has no case.

It isn’t too difficult to come to the conclusion that Mr. Bundy is all for the U.S. Constitution — until a law he doesn’t personally like is declared Constitutional.  He may be all for law and order — until the law doesn’t suit his purposes.  What do we call the people who violate or ignore laws with impunity?  The answer is commonly “anarchists.”

Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) has another answer. He called them “Patriots.” [Roll Call]   Heller offered yet another example of his “Government as Bully” perspective, “I take more issues with BLM coming in with a paramilitary army of people, individuals with snipers, and I’m talking to people and groups that were there at the event, and to have your own government with sniper lenses on you, it made a lot of people very uncomfortable.”

Let us parse.  What’s a “paramilitary army of people?” On March 15, 2014 after twenty years of trying to get Mr. Bundy to comply with orders,  the Bureau of Land Management informed Mr. Bundy, by letter, that his cattle were “trespassing” and would be impounded.  Mr Bundy’s response — to ask the Clark County Sheriff’s Department for “protection.”  Bundy gives interviews by the hay wagon load and fans the fire of his displeasure. [WaPo]  Members of so-called freedom-fighters gather in Bundy’s support.   Bundy family members confront law enforcement personnel, and one is tazered after he kicks a police dog.

That “paramilitary army” of people were law enforcement personnel, BLM employees, and cowboys hired to round up and impound the cattle.

On the other side, a very visible group of Bundy supporters is the Oath Keepers organization, closely associated with the Tea Party, and infamous for proudly announcing what orders they will not obey. The organization includes members of the 3%’ers and former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack who refused back in the 90’s to enforce the Brady Laws.  [MJ]

Perhaps Senator Heller was ‘inartful’ using the term Paramilitary, but the word usually means an organization the structure, training , culture, and function of which is similar to the military, but is NOT considered a part of a state or federal military branch.  So, who has gathered a “paramilitary army of people?”  From the photographs of the scene the honors appear to go to Mr. Bundy.

But, Senator Heller is disturbed that people have their own government with sniper lens on them. It makes them uncomfortable.  At the risk of flippancy, when is it acceptable to have those who have broken the law for 20 years feel “comfortable?”

The radical right gives every appearance of wanting another drama — another Ruby Ridge, — another Waco, — another armed confrontation with authority, especially federal authority.  Senator Heller’s unfortunate use of the word “Patriot” offers sustenance to the fantasies of the radical right wing which feeds on these scenarios, and revels in the scripted Hollywood versions like Red Dawn.

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) is more accurate calling antigovernment types like Bundy “domestic terrorists.” [previous post]  Certainly, there are euphemisms which might make the lawbreakers and their allies more “comfortable,” perhaps we could call them “puerile anti-authority activity advocates?”  However, it is not particularly helpful to apply euphemisms to assuage the tender sensitivities of extremists while ignoring the deleterious ramifications of their intentions, and covering their lawlessness with a patina of polite phrases.

The strident whining of the radical right extremists with its cacophony of hypocritical complaints is out of tune with a nation of laws — not of men.

 

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Domestic Terrorism Home on the Range

BundyThe Nevada Progressive leads off this morning with a column on “Everytown,” and the efforts of those who seek reasonable restrictions on gun ownership, a post following “Clear and Present Danger” on the Bundy Anarchists in southern Nevada.  It’s both timely and appropriate to put these thoughts in close proximity.

“There’s really no way to candy-coat it. The extreme fringe of the far right who have once again gained national prominence thanks to Cliven Bundy’s nationally televised temper tantrum are not interested in mere protest. And it’s time for all the rest of us to recognize the clear & present danger of legitimizing this kind of behavior. ” [TNP]

There’s “right wing,” and “far right wing,” and then there’s that “extreme fringe of the far right.”   As the Rachel Maddow Show illustrated, they are both armed and dangerous.   We have an unfortunate roster of hits and near misses to prove the point.

The Bloody and Near Bloody Decade

On April 19, 1995 Timothy McVeigh bombed the Federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  The 7000 pound truck bomb caused massive loss of life and damage.  McVeigh was among those on that Extreme Fringe of the Far Right, who could refer to the children killed that day as “collateral damage.”  There was a near miss in July 1995 when antigovernment extremist Charles Ray Polk tried to purchase an machine gun and plastic explosives in order to carry out his proposed attack on the Austin, TX Internal Revenue Office.  Polk was sentenced to 21 years in a Federal Prison.

On October 9, 1995 the Extreme Fringe scored a hit on an Amtrak Passenger Train in Arizona, leaving antigovernment messages, some signed “Sons of the Gestapo.”  There was another near miss in November 1995 when members of the Oklahoma Constitutional Militia were arrested while in the process of planning bombings and attacks on abortion providers and gay bars.

The antigovernment message almost hit close to home when in December 1995 a drum filled with ammonium nitrate and fuel oil failed to detonate at a Reno, NV IRS office.  The tax-protester was arrested, tried, and convicted.  It would seem that the designation “tax-protester” might be a bit mild for someone who had demolition on his agenda.

January 1996 literally started out with a bang, when the Militia under Commander Pedro, Peter Kevin Langan, tried to shoot it out with the FBI in Ohio.   The year continued with a terrorist in Hood River, Oregon stockpiling 460 pounds of Tovex explosive, 746 pounds of ANFO blasting agent, and a collection of homemade hand grenades.   April 12, 1996 Larry Shoemake takes his Neo-Nazi extreme fringe behavior into the open and goes on a shooting spree in Jackson MS.  He killed one African American man and wounded seven others during his racist shooting rampage.  A few days later members of the Militia At Large of the Republic of Georgia are arrested for distributing shrapnel packed pipe bombs to their membership for their ongoing “war” with the government.  In July 1996 the Viper Team in Arizona is arrested after they were found videotaping federal facilities as potential targets for their antigovernment attacks.  But, there was no “near miss” on July 27, 1996 when Eric Rudolph detonated his bomb in Olympic Park in Atlanta, GA during the Summer Olympics.

Near misses were prevented from becoming real hits when members of the Washington State Militia, the Phineas Priests, and the West Virginia Mountaineer Militia were arrested in 1996 before they could carry out their plans.

Eric Rudolph was back in action in 1997 when he bombed an abortion providing health care center in Sandy Springs, GA, an Atlanta gay bar, and an abortion provider in Birmingham, AL.  The year also included a thwarted attempt by the Black Dawn group to stockpile 35,000 rounds of ‘heavy’ ammunition and artillery shells, and another attempt to bomb an IRS office in Kalamazoo, MI.  Perhaps the most hazardous near miss came on April 27, 1997 when a Militia planned to cover an armed robbery by blowing up a natural gas refinery in Fort Worth, TX — a facility close to a local elementary school.

This wasn’t the end of antigovernment action in 1997, which included an explosion in Yuba City, CA, a fire in the Colorado Springs, CO IRS office, and a planned attack on Fort Hood wherein the Fringe group thought foreign troops were being trained.

Eric Rudolph wasn’t finished, in 1998 he set off a nail packed remote controlled bomb at a Birmingham abortion provider’s building, and during the same year the Ku Klux Klan planned to assassinate a federal judge in East St. Louis, IL.  More attacks were planned in Michigan by the members of the North American Militia of Southwestern Michigan, thankfully foiled.  The Republic of Texas should perhaps get the prize for the most bizarre attack plan to assault President Clinton and other federal officials, “Officials say the men planned to use a cactus thorn coated with a toxin like anthrax and fired by a modified butane lighter to carry out the murders.” [SPLC] There were eight more incidents, of varying efficacy and harm from 1998 to 2000.

So, what should we have learned in that half decade?

If nothing more, we should have learned the definition of Domestic Terrorism as set forth in 18 U.S. Code 2331:

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

And, yes, the acts and intended acts during that decade would certainly seem to fit the definition of Domestic Terrorism as established in the law.   Bombings, assassinations, and fires, would qualify as dangerous activities designed to intimidate and coerce, and even kill.   We should also have learned that antigovernment fringe extremists are quite likely to attack federal offices, to assassinate people associated with activities with which they disagree, and to otherwise seek to intimidate and coerce when they fail to convince.

We don’t have much trouble labeling such individuals as Eric Rudolph, the Phineas Priests, the New Dawn, the North American Militia, and other groups as domestic terrorists — but there is an inclination to be entirely too parsimonious with the term when an individual or group is characterized as a “protestor,” or an “activist,” when what they really advocate is armed opposition to legitimate authority.

Fast Forward

There are more incidents during the past 19 years which illustrate the extent to which extreme right wing fringe elements are willing to go in promoting their delusional beliefs.  No one should argue that ultra- beliefs have no Constitutional standing. However, remembering the definition of domestic terrorism in 18 U.S. Code 2331 should provide us with a guide line for what could be considered domestic terrorism —

Is it an activity involving, “acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State?” Does the activity have the intent to (1) intimidate? Or (2) influence policy, or (3)  affect conduct by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping?

On July 27, 2008 J.D Adkisson opened fire at the Knoxville, TN two were killed, seven were injured.  Mr. Adkisson drafted a four page letter in which he described how he hated liberals and gays, and blacks, “and anyone who was different than him.” [HuffPo] On June 10, 2009  Neo-Nazi James von Brunn shot a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Museum.  Adkisson surely intended to do as much ‘destruction’ as possible in the Unitarian Church in Knoxville, and von Brunn had an extensive history of right wing activities seeking to intimidate and coerce in the name of White Nationalism.  And to these two examples of domestic terrorists we should add Frazier Glenn Cross to the roster.

Granted that this post has listed individuals who have stepped over the edge of reason and committed, or sought to commit, heinous acts which deserve all the opprobrium they receive.  However, these individuals aren’t necessarily steaming in their own personal stew. They are justified each time someone “protests” in the name of “freedom.” They find rationalization each time someone is an “activist” for antigovernment causes.  They are easily swayed by the antigovernment rhetoric of right wing news and opinion outlets, and they are taking their cues from those who would fan their fires.

They are the Neo-Nazis, the Neo-Confederates, the Southern ‘Heritage’ types, the disaffiliated gun enthusiasts, the antigovernment crusaders, the social and cultural warriors… and they can be armed and dangerous. [Salon] [Alternet] [Salon]

Enter Cliven Bundy, disgruntled freeloader on federal (public) land, and those who would feed his fire:

“The involvement of armed militiamen—and Bundy’s promise to “do whatever it takes” to reclaim his cattle—doesn’t appear to phase conservative activists who have turned Bundy into a cause célèbre. Before this weekend’s confrontation, National Review Online, Fox & Friends, and American Thinker all blamed the government for mounting tensions. Two groups affiliated with Americans for Prosperity, a political organization funded primarily by the Koch brothers, spent the weekend tweeting their support for Bundy, Media Matters reported. Sean Hannity, who on Friday hailed Bundy as a capitalist hero—”When your cattle graze there, that keeps the price of meat down for every American consumer”—invited Bundy back on the air Monday for a second, easygoing interview in which he made only glancing reference to the armed confrontation.” [MJ]

“Blame the government” + “glancing reference to the armed confrontation” = a problem.   April 2009 Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Naplitano drew verbal fire from conservatives for daring to suggest that right wing extremists constituted a terrorist threat in the United States.  Her department’s report, which rightly noted that some of the ‘militia types’ and ‘radical right wing’ groups were potentially dangerous (witness the list above), was vilified in the conservative press as an attack on Conservatism, Conservatives, veterans…. but it was as prescient as it was accurate.  Look at Picture Number 3 from NBC, captioned: “Protesters gather at the Bureau of Land Management’s base camp near Bunkerville, Nevada on April 12. Hundreds of states’ rights protesters, including militia members, showed up at corrals outside Mesquite to demand the animals’ return to rancher Cliven Bundy. Some protesters were armed with handguns and rifles at the corrals and at an earlier nearby rally.”

When is a “protester” a “domestic terrorist?”  Do people armed with rifles and handguns facing off against government officials and agents create a situation “dangerous to human life, in violation of  criminal laws?” What usually happens when someone brandishes a firearm before an officer of the law?

Did members of that crowd “of hundreds” seek to intimidate, coerce?  Of course they did — that’s why they were there, to coerce the federal officials from implementing federal land use policy.

The problem with hyper-sensitive thin skinned (albeit mostly white skinned) conservative ‘protesters’ is that when criticized for radical behavior, behavior which stimulates the warrior fantasies of delusional individuals, they whine loudly that they are being “attacked.” They are defending Freedom (read their own self interest), and the American Way of Life (read white and disgruntled).   Here’s a hint: If you are aiming a firearm at a BLM encampment, you are not ‘defending America.’  If you are standing in your phony camo-costume armed and disrupting law enforcement officials, you are not ‘protesting.’ You are — a domestic terrorist.

Recommended reading: SPLC, “Terror from the Right,” Ken Sofer, “17 years after Oklahoma City,” Think Progress. Matthew Harwood, “Law Enforcement/Right Wing Terrorists,” Salon. “Terrorist Attacks and Related Incidents,” Johnston Archive.  Molly Redden, “Everyone on the Far Right Loves...” Mother Jones. Reuters, “Bundy Ranch Standoff Emboldens Militia Groups.”  Brian Jencunas, “Why There’s Nothing Conservative About Cliven Bundy,” HuffPo.  “Almost 100 Hate Crimes Linked to One Website,” HuffPo.  NBC News, “Standoff at Bunkerville.”  Sarah Posner “Neo-Confederates and the Revival of Theological War“, USC Annenberg.

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Bundy’s Lazy WQ Socialist Cows

Lazy WQWho knew? Cliven Bundy is a Socialist!  Because who but a banner waving Socialist would presume that public land was theirs for the taking without payment?  And, then there are those Socialist Cows munching on public property at no expense.  The Bureau of Land Management administers about 245 million acres of public land, and manages grazing on approximately 155 million acres by issuing permits — an estimated 18,000 permits for 21,000 allotments on BLM lands. [BLM]

Bundy’s gripe is with the 1934 Taylor Grazing Act which authorized the Bureau of Land Management to create regulated districts.  Further, he wants the use of public lands — but he doesn’t want to pay for the use — like the other 99.9% of ranchers.

“The Federal grazing fee, which applies to Federal lands in 16 Western states on public lands managed by the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, is adjusted annually and is calculated by using a formula originally set by Congress in the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978. Under this formula, as modified and extended by a presidential Executive Order issued in 1986, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM); also, any fee increase or decrease cannot exceed 25 percent of the previous year’s level. (An AUM is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month.) The grazing fee for 2014 is $1.35 per AUM, the same level as it was in 2013.
The Federal grazing fee is computed by using a 1966 base value of $1.23 per AUM for livestock grazing on public lands in Western states. The figure is then adjusted each year according to three factors – current private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices, and the cost of livestock production.  In effect, the fee rises, falls, or stays the same based on market conditions, with livestock operators paying more when conditions are better and less when conditions have declined.” [BLM]

Not to put too fine a point to it, but what Mr. Bundy wants is a free ride.  While 99.99% of western ranchers include the grazing fees in their accounting as a cost of doing business, Mr. Bundy wants a government subsidy (in the form of non-payment of the grazing fees).

Better still, Mr. Bundy has reiterated his attack on capitalism (which generally accepts that there are costs incurred in doing business) and staunchly declares he will Never Back Down. [ABC]  But wait, there’s more!

“It’s not about cows, it’s about freedom,” Utah resident Yonna Winget told ABC News affiliate KTNV in Las Vegas, Nevada.” [ABC]

Yeah, it’s all about Freedumb!  The freedumb to graze cows free of charge on federal (public) land, while every other rancher in the county pays the required grazing fees and doesn’t trespass his or her cattle on the allotments.

Thus, the Welfare Queen of Clark County, Nevada, wants to avoid paying the grazing fees because he doesn’t agree with the BLM rules and regulations — and I’d like to cut back on the income taxes I pay because I don’t agree with the brackets….

It is truly heart-warming (in the electrification sense of the term) to know that there are people who can get a free ride from the government, who can break the law with impunity, and who can threaten violence when called to account, if they don’t agree with the administration of the laws of the land, and the lands.

Meanwhile back at the Lazy WQ, Mr. Bundy doesn’t have to go to all the effort of moving his Socialist Cattle, because….. Freedumb!

 

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