LOS ANGELES, April 12, 2014 – A standoff raged out West this week between Federal agents and a self-described “stubborn old man” with 1,000 cows. Not all the legal issues are clear, but one thing is certain: This showdown had very little to do with head of cattle and everything to do with heads of state.
Seizing land for federal gain dates back at least to the late 1970’s and President Jimmy Carter. Under the Carter Administration, the Tennessee River Valley Authority was forced to shut down billions of dollars in projects in order to save the snail darter, a tiny fish the size of a large paperclip.
In the late 1980s, the forestry industry in the Pacific Northwest was nearly bankrupted in order to save the spotted owl. (The spotted owl has passed into legend as a snarky conservative slogan, but there really was a campaign to save it.)
A recent case is in California, where the Federal government has intervened to shut down the water supply to California’s farming community in order to save a 4-inch minnow in Northern California.
Locals in the Central Valley of California say that this is about government control: control of farmlands, control of the food supply, control of workers, and perhaps even a form of retaliation against Republican voters.
The more rural part of California has long been home to one-fifth of the State’s Republican voting base. What better way to wreak havoc in the lives of citizens than to take away their water, their livelihoods, and their food supply so that they have to move somewhere else, perhaps even out of state?
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I believe Democrats have long been in cahoots with their allies in the environmental lobby to seize lands that don’t belong to them as a way to control opposing groups.
The clash of powers in Nevada this week came as the federal government claimed the authority to seize property in order to protect a rare desert tortoise. Cliven Bundy, the owner of the ranch, claims that his family’s ownership of the land pre-dates the establishment of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and therefore is exempt from the laws enacted in 1993 that the Feds claim he is breaking.
While it has been widely reported that Bundy failed to pay grazing fees (taxes in order to utilize the land), that is not entirely true. Bundy said in numerous interviews yesterday that he’s abiding by the State of Nevada’s laws, and that he’s happy to pay fees directly to Clark County, which he believes has appropriate jurisdiction, not the Feds.
Whichever side is right, we have seen a scenario play out that will play out again and again for the foreseeable future. As the federal government in Washington continues to grow and overreach for more and more power — as the NSA leans in to listen a little more closely, as the IRS continues to place their foot on the neck of democracy — you will see more and more of these battles wage, and more American citizens rebel.
We saw this in Colorado last fall with the Colorado recalls — an all-out gun battle over the government’s attempt to erode Second Amendment rights. We are seeing this scene repeat in states like New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, where Second Amendment rights are being trampled, and the people are beginning to entertain the idea of similar recall efforts.
Americans hate the thought of government control of their lives. This country was founded upon notions of individual liberty, which means respect for free will. It is written in our DNA as much as in our founding documents. It rings clearly in the Declaration of Independence and in the Bill of Rights.
We hate the idea of nameless bureaucrats at the BLM sending agents armed to the teeth with rifles, pepper spray, assault vehicles and the authority to seize property at the drop of a cowboy hat. We hate it as much as we hate the idea of bureaucrats like Lois Lerner picking and choosing which political organizations get to operate during critical election years.
That’s what we witnessed at the showdown in Nevada today. David vs. Goliath. Mom and Pop vs. Uncle Sam. The real beef here was not over cattle; it was over government control. And Americans fought back. The Tea Party Network reports that the BLM has been ordered to take their pepper gas, riot shields, and AR-15s and stand down, even as neighbors and supporters of Bundy have gone out to take his cattle back from government control.
With a Federal government growing ever more out of control, what we are seeing is just the beginning, not the end, of resistance and the winds of rebellion.
Cliven Bundy declared yesterday that this wasn’t simply about him; it’s about freedom and liberty for all of us. He said he was willing to die for it. Are you?