The Bundy Ranch Fiasco: Another Chapter in the Continuing Story of Unhinged, Anti-Government Outrage

There are so many layers of ridiculousness in the Bundy Ranch story, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Above all else, it ended up being a fantastic opportunity for a pack of ignorant states’ rights cowboys to get intimate with their rebellion and secessionist fetishes, while figuratively pointing a rifle at the president’s head.

In case you haven’t been following along, a Mormon rancher named Cliven Bundy has been grazing his cattle on federally-owned land and hasn’t paid a penny in grazing fees since 1993. Attempts to collect the estimated $1 million in fees have ranged from revoking Bundy’s grazing rights, to numerous court orders requiring Bundy to pay what’s owed. Then, last week, the Bureau of Land Management rounded up around 400 head of cattle owned by Bundy but which were grazing on public land.

The BLM blocked access to the cattle with corral fencing and, in response, pro-Bundy protesters began to assemble in haste — some local, but many from out of state, responding to screeching from Alex Jones and the far-right media. Bundy’s son David was arrested during the protest, inciting Cliven to threaten a “range war” against the government. Meanwhile, a video began to circulate the internet showing Bundy supporters attempting to intimidate and shout down officers from the county sheriff’s department. At least one protester was tasered during the fracas.

It’s not difficult to forecast what happened next.

Given the degree of eliminationist, anti-government rage brewing since the 2009 inauguration of President Obama, along with amplified pro-gun, states’ rights rhetoric, events could’ve very easily slipped out of hand. And, indeed, armed conflict by the gaggle of Bundy supporters against federal authorities would’ve ended very badly for the Bundy people. Any bloodshed would’ve likely escalated into a counter-attack against the government and everything would’ve collapsed into chaos.

It’s the latter scenario that prompted the BLM to release the cattle and to back off. The Bundys declared a very premature victory, while the protesters celebrated the misguided notion that they successfully intimidated the government to stand down. But in fact the opposite is true. The BLM didn’t succumb to pressure, it simply decided to pursue the case using different methods that wouldn’t involve potentially mowing down the gathering militia in a fire fight. This wasn’t a retreat, it was a redeployment. The Bundys aren’t by any means off the hook and the government has deep pockets with which to pursue scofflaws and deadbeats who don’t pay what’s owed.

And that’s one of the primary aspects of this story. This wasn’t about freedom or government overreach. This was about a rancher who’s clearly leeching off the system, and then who subsequently got all pissy-pants when, after repeatedly ignoring numerous civil attempts at collection, gathered a posse of local hooples to fight the power: armed neo-Confederate cosplayers, Ron Paul cultists, weekend warriors and Alex Jones chemtrail-busters who literally formed a line of battle and foolishly advanced upon the government corral.

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  • PostSurgeOperative

    When conservatives align in common cause they’re Liberty-loving patriots. But when liberals do it…COLLECTIVISM!1!

    As I understand it, federal ownership of that land actually predates Nevada’s statehood, so it would appear that Cliven Bundy’s states’ rights arguments are irrelevant. The land doesn’t belong to Mr. Bundy, and whatever previous arrangement he or his ancestors may have had with the state of Nevada or the federal govt doesn’t necessarily preclude the federal govt’s right to change the status of that land or convert it to another use. Mr. Bundy has had ample opportunity to petition the govt for redress of his grievances, and the courts have ruled against him at least twice.

    Even if Mr. Bundy owned that land, the feds could still take it from his under the principle of eminent domain. Again, his legal remedy in such a case would include the right to petition the govt for redress of grievance, not get into a shooting war with federal employees. Even if the govt’s actions were completely unjustified, Mr. Bundy and his collectivist horde of neo-Confederates and militiamen can’t reasonably argue that shooting federal employees is an appropriate response to a dispute over land rights.

  • Tyler Westbrook

    Bootlickers:
    It is far past time to end the federal government, I applaud these cowboys for having the guts, a liberal never could nor would , to stand up against Armed gov thugs no matter what they do. May this be only the beginning! ( It is so easy to tell when a liberal is writing, it always starts and ends with insults and slurs) If you folks actually cared about the Law, you would be going after Bush and the Dali-Bomba for war crimes, murder and treason. But no, you had to pick good ole boys… US OUT OF NEVADA END THE OCCUPATION.

    • BenjaminBrown

      So you support giving Nevada back to Mexico eh?