Skip to comments.Why You Should Be Sympathetic Toward Cliven Bundy
Posted on 04/15/2014 7:45:53 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
On Saturday, I wrote about the standoff at Bundy Ranch. That post drew a remarkable amount of traffic, even though, as I wrote then, I had not quite decided what to make of the story. Since then, I have continued to study the facts and have drawn some conclusions. Here they are.
First, it must be admitted that legally, Bundy doesnt have a leg to stand on. The Bureau of Land Management has been charging him grazing fees since the early 1990s, which he has refused to pay. Further, BLM has issued orders limiting the area on which Bundys cows can graze and the number that can graze, and Bundy has ignored those directives. As a result, BLM has sued Bundy twice in federal court, and won both cases. In the second, more recent action, Bundys defense is that the federal government doesnt own the land in question and therefore has no authority to regulate grazing. That simply isnt right; the land, like most of Nevada, is federally owned. Bundy is representing himself, of necessity: no lawyer could make that argument.
That being the case, why does Bundy deserve our sympathy? To begin with, his family has been ranching on the acres at issue since the late 19th century. They and other settlers were induced to come to Nevada in part by the federal governments promise that they would be able to graze their cattle on adjacent government-owned land. For many years they did so, with no limitations or fees. The Bundy family was ranching in southern Nevada long before the BLM came into existence.
Over the last two or three decades, the Bureau has squeezed the ranchers in southern Nevada by limiting the acres on which their cattle can graze, reducing the number of cattle that can be on federal land, and charging grazing fees for the ever-diminishing privilege. The effect of these restrictions has been to drive the ranchers out of business. Formerly, there were dozens of ranches in the area where Bundy operates. Now, his ranch is the only one. When Bundy refused to pay grazing fees beginning in around 1993, he said something to the effect of, they are supposed to be charging me a fee for managing the land and all they are doing is trying to manage me out of business. Why should I pay them for that?
The bedrock issue here is that the federal government owns more than 80% of the state of Nevada. This is true across the western states. To an astonishing degree, those states lack sovereignty over their own territory. Most of the land is federal. And the federal agencies that rule over federal lands have agendas. At every opportunity, it seems, they restrict not only what can be done on federal lands, but on privately-owned property. They are hostile to traditional industries like logging, mining and ranching, and if you have a puddle in your back yard, the EPA will try to regulate it as a navigable waterway.
That is only a slight exaggeration.
One could say that Cliven Bundy is just one more victim of progress and changing mores. The federal government has gotten more environmentally-conscious, and now we really, really care about desert tortoises. (It was the designation of desert tortoises as an endangered species that gave BLM the opportunity to squeeze Bundy in the early 1990s.) But heres the thing: the Bureau of Land Managementthe federal governmentis not necessarily anti-development. Rather, its attitude depends entirely on what sort of development is in question.
Thus, BLM has developed a grandiose plan to develop vast solar energy installations on federal land across the Southwest. Wind power projects are favored, too. In fact, the same BLM that has driven Nevadas ranchers out of business has welcomed solar projects with open arms. Some have claimed that Harry Reid is behind the BLMs war against Cliven Bundy, on the theory that he wants the land for a solar project in which his son Rory is involved, along with the Chinese. I dont believe this is correct. The solar projects are located north of Las Vegas, 30 miles or so from the area where Bundy ranches.
But the connection is nevertheless important in two respects. First, BLM has promulgated a regional mitigation strategy for the environmental impacts of the solar developments. Lets pause on that for a moment: the excuse for limiting Bundys rights is the endangered desert tortoise. But wait! Dont they have desert tortoises a few miles away where the solar projects are being built? Of course they do. Thats where they get to the mitigation strategy, which may involve, among other things, moving some desert tortoises to a new location:
The Gold Butte ACEC is preliminarily recommended as the best recipient location for regional mitigation from the Dry Lake SEZ. This ACEC is located 32 miles (51 km) east of the Dry Lake SEZ.
Gold Butte is the area where Bundy ranches. There are a few problems with the Gold Butte location as a mitigation area; one of them is that there are trespassing cattle:
The resource values found in the Gold Butte ACEC are threatened by: unauthorized activities, including off-road vehicle use, illegal dumping, and trespass livestock grazing; wildfire; and weed infestation.
So it is possible that the federal government is driving Bundy off federal lands to make way for mitigation activities that enable the solar energy development to the north. But I dont think it is necessary to go there. Ratherthis is the second and more important pointit is obvious that some activities are favored by the Obama administrations BLM, and others are disfavored. The favored developments include solar and wind projects. No surprise there: the developers of such projects are invariably major Democratic Party donors. Wind and solar energy survive only by virtue of federal subsidies, so influencing people like Barack Obama and Harry Reid is fundamental to the developers business plans. Ranchers, on the other hand, ask nothing from the federal government other than the continuation of their historic rights. It is a safe bet that Cliven Bundy is not an Obama or Reid contributor.
Solar energy projects dont draw BLM snipers.
The new head of the BLM is a former Reid staffer. Presumably he was placed in his current position on Reids recommendation. Harry Reid is known to be a corrupt politician, one who has gotten wealthy on a public employees salary, in part, at least, by benefiting from sweetheart real estate deals. Does Harry Reid now control more than 80% of the territory of Nevada? If you need federal authority to conduct business in Nevadawhich is overwhelmingly probabledo you need to pay a bribe to Harry Reid or a member of his family to get that permission? Why is it that the BLM is deeply concerned about desert tortoises when it comes to ranchers, but couldnt care less when the solar power developers from China come calling? Environmentalists have asked this question. Does the difference lie in the fact that Cliven Bundy has never contributed to an Obama or Reid campaign, or paid a bribe to Reid or a member of his family?
Based on the evidence, I would say: yes, that is probably the difference. When the desert tortoises balance out, Occams razor tells us that the distinction is political.
So lets have some sympathy for Cliven Bundy and his family. They dont have a chance on the law, because under the Endangered Species Act and many other federal statutes, the agencies are always in the right. And their way of life is one that, frankly, is on the outs. They dont develop apps. They dont ask for food stamps. It probably has never occurred to them to bribe a politician. They dont subsist by virtue of government subsidies or regulations that hamstring competitors. They arent illegal immigrants. They have never even gone to law school. So what possible place is there for the Bundys in the Age of Obama?
Why does he have no leg to stand on? He has paperwork showing that the land is state and not federal, I thought.
Except for direct crime or war-fighting departments such as Defense, Customs, FBI or Secret Service, no government agency shall maintain a SWAT, military, or police force, nor may they hold or maintain weapons above a certain caliber.
If its a national security issue, Congress should call the Army. If its a criminal issue, then authorize either the FBI to be involved, or work through the State/local law enforcement. The Federal alphabet agencies all having their own spetnaz forces is beyond the pale.
One might add that the federal government has said that it plans to euthanize a substantial number of desert tortoises soon at their Nevada conservation center, because they lack the funds to keep taking care of them.
Also, that the legal situation is not so clear as the article suggests. Yes, Bundy is likely to lose the legal battle, since the government has the big bucks and the political clout. But he has substantial arguments that, after a hundred years of family use, the land is his for grazing.
Cattle ranching is Bundy’s livelihood; it’s how he feeds his family. Even if he is trespassing his cattle, it’s not a crime — he’s doing so “out of love.”
Sorry Hindracker..sympathy is not a strategy. It is time to stand up to tyranny. If not now, when? If not there, where?
see post 7 about terms and conditions Bundy would need to sign before paying
A nice clear write-up of the situation.
Exactly! If “this ain’t the hill to die on” folks better pick another, and purity damn quick.
Let’s not forget that the many on the left believe that grazing animals contribute to global warming, meat production has a higher carbon footprint than vegetable diets and that they want us all to be more vegetarian. Driving out ranchers has an incremental effect of raising beef prices....
Looking at the picture of the “snipers”, can anyone tell me why the guy in the front is holding a paintball marker (gun)? The hopper on top is a dead giveaway. I can’t make out the CO2 tank, which is why I’m asking.
The fact that these heavily armed government agencies exist and are thriving means that congress approves of them even if they claim otherwise. Same with the despicable IRS.
Tear gas pellets?
The Bundy are like tax protesters so while they won’t win in court, we should be sympathetic to their cause. Income taxes are illegal but the government forces us to pay them anyway. We either pay or we go to jail. The Bundy are the few who are brave enough to fight back
Sympathies for the Bundy’s simply because the federal government is out of control and we are constantly losing our rights.
That FOXNEWS token lefty Bob Butwhole or whatever he goes by
keeps calling the Bundys “lawbreakers”. Of course those foreigners
who break the law crossing our national borders don’t bother
him and his ilk.
Bundy claims that state owns the land. It is also true that the Bundy
family connection to the land predates the BLM and their grazing
fee schedule which seems like it should invoke a grandfather
clause of some type.
They won’t win because the new laws have been written that ignores the old ones
There have been a lot of people criticizing Clive Bundy because he did not pay his grazing fees for 20 years. The public is also probably wondering why so many other cowboys are supporting Mr. Bundy even though they paid their fees and Clive did not. What you people probably do not realize is that on every ranchers grazing permit it says the following: You are authorized to make grazing use of the lands, under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management and covered by this grazing permit, upon your acceptance of the terms and conditions of this grazing permit and payment of grazing fees when due. The mandatory terms and conditions go on to list the allotment, the number and kind of livestock to be grazed, when the permit begins and ends, the number of active or suspended AUMs (animal units per month), etc. The terms and conditions also list specific requirements such as where salt or mineral supplements can be located, maximum allowable use of forage levels (40% of annual growth), etc., and include a lot more stringent policies that must be adhered to. Every rancher must sign this contract agreeing to abide by the TERMS AND CONDITIONS before he or she can make payment. In the early 90s, the BLM went on a frenzy and drastically cut almost every ranchers permit because of this desert tortoise issue, even though all of us ranchers knew that cow and desert tortoise had co-existed for a hundred+ years. As an example, a family friend had his permit cut by 90%. For those of you who are non ranchers, that would be equated to getting your paycheck cut 90%. In 1976 there were approximately 52 ranching permittees in this area of Nevada. Presently, there are 3. Most of these people lost their livelihoods because of the actions of the BLM. Clive Bundy was one of these people who received extremely unfair and unreasonable TERMS AND CONDITIONS. Keep in mind that Mr. Bundy was required to sign this contract before he was allowed to pay. Had Clive signed on the dotted line, he would have, in essence, signed his very livelihood away. And so Mr. Bundy took a stand, not only for himself, but for all of us. He refused to be destroyed by a tyrannical federal entity and to have his American liberties and freedoms taken away. Also keep in mind that all ranchers financially paid dearly for the forage rights those permits allow - - not rights to the land, but rights to use the forage that grows on that land. Many of these AUMS are water based, meaning that the rancher also has a vested right (state owned, not federal) to the waters that adjoin the lands and allow the livestock to drink. These water rights were also purchased at a great price. If a rancher cannot show beneficial use of the water (he must have the appropriate number of livestock that drinks and uses that water), then he loses that water right. Usually water rights and forage rights go hand in hand. Contrary to what the BLM is telling you, they NEVER compensate a rancher for the AUMs they take away. Most times, they tell ranchers that their AUMS are suspended, but not removed. Unfortunately, my family has thousands of suspended AUMs that will probably never be returned. And so, even though these ranchers throughout the course of a hundred years invested thousands(and perhaps millions) of dollars and sacrificed along the way to obtain these rights through purchase from others, at a whim the government can take everything away with the stroke of a pen. This is the very thing that Clive Bundy single-handedly took a stand against. Thank you, Clive, from a rancher who considers you a hero.
-Kena Lytle Gloeckner