Friday, April 25, 2014

Why did a Mesquite rancher start a range war with the Federal Government?

Not sure if you've been following the Cliven Bundy situation, but I've been a bit fascinated with it. For those who haven't been following, a rancher in Nevada (just south of Mesquite) has refused to pay grazing fees (of $1.67 per head per month) to the Feds for the right to use their land for his cattle operation. This has been going on for ~20 years, Bundy's accumulated over $1 million in fees, and the issue has wound through the various courts in NV. He absolves himself of wrongdoing by stating that his LDS forebears have grazed cattle in the area since the 1800s. But this dispute finally came to a head March 27th as the BLM (which is the local federal authority), attempted to follow through with a NV district court judge's order to impound Bundy's cattle.

Well, it wasn't that simple, as Bundy called for a "range war" and rallied various militias from around the country to his cause. Apparently, a large portion of the far right is angry about federal encroachment and were just dying for a specific cause to rally around. A large stand-off ensued wherein militia members had guns steadied on the federal agents (including snipers and other types you may not usually see near Mesquite in March) while the round-up progressed. Protesters were howling; I-15 was blocked; someone kicked a federal dog and was tazed. One protester said "We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front. If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.”

Unsurprisingly, the BLM was worried for their employees' safety under these circumstances and called off the gathering of Bundy's cattle on April 12th. Afterwards, the Bundies claimed victory with one saying "We won the battle" and also saying that "the people have power when they unit. The war has just begun."

See here for a history of this mess and here for great topic cards from Vox (which include video of the stand-off). Oh and, here Bundy says that black people were better off as slaves. Hmmmm.

It's all very curious. Among the questions I have are these: 1) Bundy has been hailed as a patriot, but does that properly describe someone who's blatantly breaking federal laws? 2) How can conservatives complain about law-abiding people on welfare being moochers when Bundy owes taxpayers $1 million? 3) What kind of message does it send about law and order in this country when militias can intimidate law enforcement officials into not doing their job? 4) During the next immigration debate, how will conservatives be able to say "this is a country of laws" and thus advocate for a deportation-only immigration fix?

Finally, a Pat Bagley cartoon to make this worthy of a Friday:

Enjoy your weekend!

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