Increasing craziness in the US

While much media attention is being paid to the defiance of the Ukrainian government by various armed groups in that country, you may have missed the story of armed defiance of the US government taking place right here.

A rancher in Nevada named Cliven Bundy had for years been allowing his cattle to graze on federal lands, refusing to pay grazing fees and ignoring court orders to do so because of a crackpot theory that Nevada is a sovereign state and the US government does not exist and thus has no power to levy taxes and fees on people.

When agents of the Bureau of Land Management came to seize some of his cows for this non-payment, they were confronted by hundreds of armed men who had formed some sort of militia to support Bundy and threated to start a shooting war, using women as shields. The BLM agents withdrew and the militia has declared victory over what they consider a tyrannical and illegitimate US government.

The Daily Show had a good summary of the case and how Fox News and the Tea Party Republicans have gone over the edge in their attempts to delegitimize the Obama administration which has extended to supporting what amounts to an armed revolt against enforcing court orders.

(These clips aired on April 21, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)


  1. says

    a crackpot theory that Nevada is a sovereign state

    It’s very easy to argue that no state is legitimate (I do it all the time) but… ahhh.., the state believes it is legitimate. And it monopolizes the means of violence. That’s a problem.

  2. says

    As any state makes it increasingly clear that it is illegitimate, it increases the margins in which discontents can act. Often, that is by promising utopian betterment (as happened in the Soviet Union The French Republic, and the United States of America) ultimately delivering oligarchy or kleptocracy. By some strange coincidence humans have stopped further research in political state-craft since it offered an adequate boogeyman. Even the most liberal European pseudodemocracies do not dare to establish themselves with built-in sunset clause on their constitutions. Why don’t they ask the people to periodically ratify the social contract? Polls in the US indicate conclusively that it is not a democracy. The US has sold an ideology of “freedom” without explaining what “freedom” is – it is neither freedom or democracy.

  3. Menyambal says

    There is no such thing as a militia, these days. There is an armed insurrection, and that’s what those folks were doing.

  4. moarscienceplz says

    So I guess these “Patriots” would have sided with Auric Goldfinger when he tried to nuke Fort Knox.
    What’s next for this guy, stealing the original Declaration of Independence because it would look real cool over his mantel?

  5. says

    These are public lands. The way it sort of seems like it’s supposed to work(how close this is to how things actually work is debatable) is that they are owned by the public- yes, Bundy included, but also me, and the federal government takes care of them on our behalf.

    So, basically… Bundy is using my stuff and getting economic benefit from it. I think it’s only fair that I get something in return, additional services paid for by the fees, or at least defraying the maintenance cost if the fees are set at a loss.

    I’m sure he’d want his cut if I was making money off his stuff. That’s all I want from him, and if he’s not paying up, drag his ass to prison for breaking my stuff(letting his cows eat my grass) without paying me back.

    Do these yahoos not realize that their tax dollars are going to fund his grazing and he’s not covering his share? Sure, his taxes probably help fund it, but he’s putting a much more severe burden on that land and he’s not covering an extra share of the maintenance. He’s increasing the tax burden on all these nutjob supporters of his.

  6. Mano Singham says


    That’s a good point, that these so-called militia people defending him are defending his right to rip them off.

  7. lorn says

    I love how they claim “the American people” are behind this. I, for one, would like to make it clear that I do not agree with Bundy or his band of backers.

  8. smrnda says

    If Bundy were not white, this would be the story of some ‘welfare king’ looter/moocher sucking up public resources. When a non-white person struggling to make ends meet gets some government aid to buy food, the right wing flips out – when some white guy appropriates a tax-payer funded resource for a for-profit enterprise, he’s some hero. I guess it really is okay to steal based on who you are according to these people, which is no surprise. Their hero Ayn Rand, being inconsistent as usual, defended the violent acquisition of the US from native peoples yet denounced taxes as theft at the point of a gun.

  9. Randy Lee says


    Saturday, April 12, 2014 Statement from Shirlee Bundy-

    “I have had people ask me to explain my dad’s stance on this BLM fight. Here it is in as simple of terms as I can explain it. There is so much to it, but here it s in a nut shell. My great grandpa bought the rights to the Bunkerville allotment back in 1887 around there. Then he sold them to my grandpa who then turned them over to my dad in 1972. These men bought and paid for their rights to the range and also built waters, fences and roads to assure the survival of their cattle, all with their own money, not with tax dollars. These rights to the land use is called preemptive rights.

    Some where down the line, to keep the cows from over grazing, came the bureau of land management. They were supposed to assist the ranchers in the management of their ranges while the ranchers paid a yearly allotment which was to be use to pay the BLM wages and to help with repairs and improvements of the ranches.

    My dad did pay his grazing fees for years to the BLM until they were no longer using his fees to help him and to improve. Instead they began using these money’s against the ranchers. They bought all the rest of the ranchers in the area out with they’re own grazing fees. When they offered to buy my dad out for a penance he said no thanks and then fired them because they weren’t doing their job.

    He quit paying the BLM but, tried giving his grazing fees to the county, which they turned down. So my dad just went on running his ranch and making his own improvements with his own equipment and his own money, not taxes.

    In essence the BLM was managing my dad out of business. Well when buying him out didn’t work, they used the endangered species card. You’ve already heard about the desert tortoise. Well that didn’t work either, so then began the threats and the court orders, which my dad has proven to be unlawful for all these years. Now their desperate. It’s come down to buying the brand inspector off and threatening the County Sheriff.

    Everything their doing at this point is illegal and totally against the constitution of the United States of America. Now you may be saying,” how sad, but what does this have to do with me?” Well, I’ll tell you. They will get rid of Cliven Bundy, the last man standing on the Bunkerville allotment and then they will close all the roads so no one can ever go on it again. Next, it’s Utah’s turn. Mark my words, Utah is next. Then there’s the issue of the cattle that are at this moment being stolen. See even if dad hasn’t paid them, those cattle do belong to him. Regardless where they are they are my fathers property. His herd has been part of that range for over a hundred years, long before the BLM even existed.

    Now the Feds think they can just come in and remove them and sell them without a legal brand inspection or without my dad’s signature on it. They think they can take them over two boarders, which is illegal, ask any trucker. Then they plan to take them to the Richfield Auction and sell them. All with our tax money. They have paid off the contract cowboys and the auction owner as well as the Nevada brand inspector with our tax dollars.

    See how slick they are? Well, this is it in a nut shell. Thanks”

  10. Randy Lee says

    Where are all the animal rights heros when Bundy’s cattle needed them. Check out: BLM Shame: Shocking ‘Animal Auschwitz’ left behind at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada

    Look at the pictures of how these animals were treated by the BLM, supposedly in an effort to protect an endangered turtle.

    BLM did this without any court order, violating Bundy’s due process rights.

    Thankfully good Americans stood shoulder to shoulder and prevented what would have been an even worse ending, had the BLM collectivists had their way.

    And some of you want to be a collectivist? Welcome to the new Auschwitz. Aren’t you proud?

  11. says

    Randy Lee, Bundy’s daughters story comes apart immediately at the point where she says “My great grandpa bought the rights to the Bunkerville allotment back in 1887 around there.”

    Xposted from both Ed’s blog and PZ’s, curtesy of Raven:

    “Bundy’s ‘Ancestral Rights’ Story A Load Of Crap

    KLAS in Las Vegas debunks some of the facts surrounding Cliven Bundy’s ‘ancestral rights’ malarkey. Court records show cattle started grazing on that land in 1954.

    Cliven Bundy a fraud? Who would have ever guessed that in a million years.

    His cattle, until recently, roamed freely on land managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management. Before the roundup that sparked protests, confrontations and gunmen taking a bridge, Bundy explained his “ancestral rights” to the I-Team.

    “I’ve lived my lifetime here. My forefathers have been up and down the Virgin Valley here ever since 1877. All these rights that I claim, have been created through pre-emptive rights and beneficial use of the forage and the water and the access and range improvements,” Bundy said.

    Clark County property records show Cliven Bundy’s parents moved from Bundyville, Arizona and bought the 160 acre ranch in 1948 from Raoul and Ruth Leavitt.

    Water rights were transferred too, but only to the ranch, not the federally managed land surrounding it. Court records show Bundy family cattle didn’t start grazing on that land until 1954.

    The Bureau of Land Management was created 1946, the same year Cliven was born.
    http:// crooksandliars. com/2014/04/bundys-ancestral-rights-story-load-crap”

  12. says

    @7 gworroll

    Well, these people probably aren’t conservationists, so they’d probably rather the government not spend any money on maintenance. To put this briefly, they’re probably not too concerned about Bundy increasing their share of costs on a program they don’t even like.

    @12, 13 Randy

    Wow, you are so over the top, you could be confused for a Poe. On 12, Drewzilla already pointed out that Bundy himself has been lying about his family history. That you would think his daughters would be in any way trustworthy says a lot about your level of skepticism. And what is says isn’t good. On 13, do you not realize that animals can die from natural causes? Maybe you should try living on a ranch sometime. I grew up on one. So, yeah, animals die. (Out in a desert, I would suspect heat and dehydration as being common factors in death.) And guess what? One then needs to dispose of the carcass. That you would buy into this backwards logic of “BLM buries a dead cow, therefore they killed that cow” says yet more about your thinking skills. Once again, what it says isn’t good.

  13. jimmyfromchicago says

    This just goes to show how much of the “makers-vs.-takers” trope Fox and the rest of the right likes to push is about optics. I’m sure that if Bundy weren’t a good ole’ boy, the right-wing wouldn’t be so supportive. If he were, say, black and living in a housing project, they’d be calling him a moocher if he tried to use government property without paying.

  14. moarscienceplz says

    Drewzilla has already done a good job of showing that Randy Lee is just propagating lies, but this from Wikipedia is a nice summary of the court case:

    The case of United States v. Bundy played out over many years in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada. It involved court orders, injunctions, and notices. Bundy argued that the land belongs to the state. (NOT to himself or any member of his family.(My own comment, not Wikipedia’s)) The court ruled that the land on which Bundy was grazing his cattle was indeed owned by the federal government, that he had not been paying to use it as he should have been, that Bundy and his cattle were trespassing, and that the government had the right to enforce the injunctions against trespass. The court found that Bundy repeatedly violated the court orders and continued to have his cattle trespass.


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