Conservatives in this country — Republicans — are prepared to dispatch the country’s military in any and all international crisis situations. I would say, before we send the 82nd Airborne to face down Mr. Putin, maybe we should send them to Nevada to round-up Cliven Bundy and his posse of militia desperadoes. Nevada is a lot closer than the Ukraine, and certainly makes more sense.
The disputed land where Mr. Bundy’s cattle now roam is federal land that was leased for grazing purposes. Some time ago however it was re-designated as a protected habitat for the soft-shelled tortoise. The Bureau of Land Management (in its role of caretaker for federal lands) has the right to do this. Understand, it’s not written anywhere (in any sacred text) that Cliven Bundy has exclusive use of this land into perpetuity. Bundy’s principle claim is that his family homesteaded in the area back in 1877. That’s all well and good. But the cattle are not on the homesteaded property, and a homestead — under the Federal Homestead Act — was one hundred and sixty acres. The cattle at the center of the controversy are on federal lease land, for which the payments have been in arrears going back to 1993. In other words, Mr. Bundy is a deadbeat rancher.
It would seem that he and his followers take exception to the idea that the soft-shell tortoise has a place in the grander scheme of things. Let’s be real. We should all hope, in our enlightened day and age, that as a society we’ve made some progress in the last 150 years in how we view these public land use issues. This is not the 1880’s. And in terms of a natural, a priori claim, the soft-shell tortoise certainly has precedence. Probably it and its kind were there tens — and maybe hundreds — of thousands of years before Mr. Bundy and his cattle.
From a practical and strictly legal point of view, the land does not belong to Cliven Bundy. It is federal land — always has been. And — as already mentioned — the racist rancher owes more than a million dollars in grazing fees going back to 1993. Probably it’s time to evict the free-loading cowboy and the militia mob camped out on his property.
Maybe it should be remembered that back in 1993 — just outside Waco, Texas — federal ATF personnel launched a raid on the com-pond of the Branch Davidian religious sect. The group was charged with weapon’s violations. And there were allegations of child abuse, involving under-age girls, against David Koresh the group’s founder and leader. Here the government showed no reluctance to use its whole federal arsenal, ATF personnel, the FBI and tanks to wipe out and destroy a small religious sect that had a somewhat separatist view of Christianity — which in my reading of the constitution was wholly their right. It also should be remembered that Jesus was an Essene, a separatist sect from the Jewish mainstream.
The same conservatives who today decry the governments re-designation of the land as a protected habitat, who want to support Mr. Bundy’s claim to land he doesn’t own, these same people though are in favor of the Keystone Pipeline and see no inconsistency in a foreign (Canadian) company appropriating for its commercial use private land that belongs to Nebraska farmers. This makes no logical sense, and is a little ridiculous if you think about it.
Getting back though to Mr. Bundy, if the media were all just to decamp and go home probably his devoted militia buddies would as well. And the whole situation would — over time — defuse itself.