I’m sure most of you have heard all about Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and his standoff with the Bureau of Land Management. As I’m pressed for time today, I won’t rehash the whole story. I think James Greiff (Bloomberg) provides an excellent perspective on the Cliven Bundy story in his article Welfare Queens in Cowboy Hats.
Greiff begins by saying that Bundy’s tale has “all the elements of a certain type of political theater, making it inevitable that he would become a hero in the conservative blogosphere and a fixture on Fox News.” He adds that the story line told in these forums goes something akin to the following: “Heavy-handed federal bureaucrats, having seized Bundy’s cattle, were forced to back down after being confronted by cowboys on horseback toting nothing more than their side arms and an unshakable faith in the U.S. Constitution. (A little-told detail: A sniper or two were concurrently taking aim at the federal agents.)”
Bundy was painted as a man being “squeezed” by the federal government, and deserving of our sympathy. Or, more profoundly, he was cast in the same mold as Mohandas Gandhi and George Washington, men who disobeyed unjust laws to bring about revolutionary change. The word “tyranny” was used so often it became background noise in the news coverage.
Let’s dispense with niceties: Bundy is a freeloading scofflaw, a welfare queen in a Stetson who claimed what wasn’t his. He took subsidies from U.S. taxpayers and refused to pay the $1.2 million he owed for using federal — make that our — land.
Bundy has neither history nor law on his side in his long-running dispute with the U.S. government. He asserts that his grazing rights were established in 1880 when his ancestors settled the land where his ranch sits. By some reasoning understood only by him and his range-war sympathizers, the federal government has no constitutional right to interfere with his grazing cattle.There is a gaping flaw with this argument. As several writers have noted, the Nevada constitution, adopted in 1864 as a condition of statehood, trumps Bundy’s right to graze on public land. It says:
“That the people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States.”
Click here to read the rest of Greiff’s article.
Cliven Bundy definitely became an American hero to Sean Hannity. Hannity even interviewed Bundy on his Fox News? Show. A few nights ago, Jon Stewart skewered both men on The Daily Show. Here’s a video of that Daily Show segment:
Jon Stewart Tears into Sean Hannity for Cliven Bundy Hypocrisy: ‘Who Is on This Guy’s Side?’
BTW, contrary to Bundy’s remarks, his family has not lived on that ranch in Nevada for more than a century. Clark County property records show that Bundy’s parents bought the land in 1948—two years after Bundy was born.
A little insight into Sean Hannity’s hero:
Cliven Bundy’s Racist Remarks
Welfare Queens in Cowboy Hats (Bloomberg)