I’m getting more than a little tired of seeing the reaction from the far right to this standoff in Nevada where a rancher refuses to either start paying or stop grazing his cattle on federal land the way every other rancher does. The hypocrisy and the dishonest overreaction could hardly be more obvious.
This whole thing started more than 20 years ago when the Bureau of Land Management started limiting the area of federally owned land that was available for grazing and requiring ranchers to pay for the use of that land. This is an entirely reasonable thing to do. It is a public resource and private businesses should have to pay to exploit it for their own financial gain. The situation has been thoroughly litigated with at least two appeals court rulings in favor of the government’s position, but rancher Cliven Bundy has refused to comply with them. Finally the BLM ran out of patience and started physically removing his cattle from the land he has no legal right to have them on.
Cue the freakout from the far right as hundreds of heavily-armed militia types descend on the ranch, some of them clearly looking to spark a war with the government. And quite frankly, I’m not gonna be all that busted up about it if they get what they’re looking for. I’m tired of this shameless dishonesty and hypocrisy. These are the same people who scream about Obama violating the rule of law (and they’re right, he’s done so throughout his presidency), but when the rule of law favors the government’s position that all goes right out the window.
When even Breitbart and The Blaze are telling you you’re wrong, you’re so far out on the extremist fringe that you couldn’t see reality with the Hubble telescope. And Bundy is one of them, spouting that “sovereign state” nonsense you only hear from hardcore right wingers:
In the immediate aftermath of the infamous cattle roundup, Cliven Bundy granted a number of high profile media interviews continuing to deny—to the point of absolutely ignoring family history—what the federal courts have twice told him.“I believe this is a sovereign state of Nevada,” Bundy recently told a radio reporter. “…I abide by all of Nevada state laws. But, I don’t recognize the United States Government as even existing.”
Host: “So essentially you have a deal already with Nevada and the Bureau of Land Management is essentially trying to revoke or renege that deal?”
Cliven Bundy: “Yeah, it gets back to the ownership of this. Who owns this land? Does the sovereign State of Nevada own this land within their borders? Or does the United States own this land with their borders? If United States owns this land then I guess I’m wrong. But what if this is a sovereign State of Nevada and Clark County, Nevada owns this land? The People of Clark County, Nevada owns this land.” (Emphasis added)
The answers to Mr. Bundy’s questions have been given—twice.
In reality, this has been federal land since the mid-1800s and was granted to the federal government by treaty:
The land being fought over by Bundy and federal agents, some 600,000 acres in Gold Butte, Nev., belongs to the U.S. government, according to a 2013 U.S. District Court ruling.
“[T]he public lands in Nevada are the property of the United States because the United States has held title to those public lands since 1848, when Mexico ceded the land to the United States,” the court said, adding that the federal government lawfully acquired ownership of the land under the Treaty of the Guadalupe Hidalgo.
That’s pretty much game, set and match. This is not a story of some brave, freedom-loving farmer standing up to the big, bad federal government. It’s the story of a rent-seeking businessman looking for a handout from Uncle Sam, demanding that he be allowed to profit from a public resource without paying a dime for it. And if the extremists want to fight about that, then it may we time to give them that fight.