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]
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.