Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

"Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready." - Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Rancher Cliven Bundy vs The United States Government

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In September of 2013, I read a story about Cliven Bundy and his ranch in Nevada.

Honestly, I did not think it could get worse.

His family has ranched along the Virgin River in Nevada for generations.  Seriously, the Bundy family worked that tough unforgiving land since the 1880s.

Over a 130 years has passed and now Cliven Bundy is in a fight with the mighty power of the United States Government.

Cliven believes our Federal Government is trying to sabotage his plans to one day hand over the reins of his family's ranch to his children stripping the Bundy Ranch of its land -- and the use rights which his family has spent over a century earning.

Government over-regulation is real and present danger in our schools, our industry, our economy, our ability to worship freely, and a hundred of other aspects of our lives today.

And yes, over-regulation has driven scores of fellow ranchers out of business in sprawling Clark County -- leaving Cliven Bundy as the last rancher standing.

For two decades, Cliven has waged a one-man war with Federal Officials over his cattle’s grazing on 150 square miles of scrub desert overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Since 1993, he’s refused to pay BLM grazing fees. He claims he "fired the BLM," vowing not to give one dime to an agency that’s plotting his demise.

The BLM back fees now exceed $300,000.

Officials say Cliven Bundy and his son are illegally running cattle in the 500,000-acre Gold Butte area, a habitat of the protected desert tortoise.

Of course, it doesn't seem to matter to anyone that the Bureau of Land Management who is purportedly protecting the desert tortoise, actually went about euthanizing the tortoises in droves.

Cattle Have To Make Room For The Tortoise On 186,909 Acres?

In July, U.S. District Court Judge Lloyd George ruled that if Bundy did not remove his cattle by Aug. 23, they could be seized by the BLM.

Cliven Bundy said, "If people come to monkey with what’s mine, I’ll call the county sheriff. If that don’t work, I’ll gather my friends and kids and we’ll try to stop it. I abide by all state laws. But I abide by almost zero federal laws."

The 2013 face-off was the second time Cliven had challenged Federal Officials.

You see, in 1998, BLM designated 186,909 acres of the Gold Butte area, where the Bundy ranch is a part of, as "critical" for the survival of the desert tortoise population.

Bundy had lost his grazing permit in 1993 despite his family’s long-time presence on the land.

That same year, 1998, a Federal Judge issued a permanent injunction against the white-haired rancher, ordering his cattle off the land.

Representing himself, Cliven lost his appeal to San Francisco’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. I know, no surprise there.

A simple man in a plaid shirt and denims, he's handled his legal battle from his Nevada ranch house, arguing in mailed-off court filings that his Mormon ancestors worked the land long before the BLM was even formed, giving him rights that predate Federal involvement of his cattle ranch.

Despite the court order, he refused to pull one head of cattle off BLM land.

"At first I said, 'No,'" he said. "Then I said, 'Hell, No!"

His defiance led to visits by Department of Homeland Security officials and local Sheriff’s Deputies.

The BLM took little public action until now.

Some say that this is a case of the Civil Disobedience popularized during the 1970s Sagebrush Rebellion, a movement that sought greater local control in 12 Western States.

Understand, in these 12 Western States, the Federal Government controls 60% of the land.

And in Nevada, the BLM, the Federal Government has taken control of 87% of the State’s lands.

Experts say anti-government clashes at Idaho’s Ruby Ridge and Waco, Texas, are modern chapters of an old Western story.

"It's the 18th-century mindset that the sweat off your brow determines your ability to survive, not the Government," said Jeffrey Richardson, a historian at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles. "But the notion of the great pioneer has been slowly chipped away by barbed wire and government regulation."

Bowing down to the Federal Government is hard for Americans like Cliven Bundy, Richardson added: "If a family has worked for generations to shape the land to their needs, it’s difficult. These people have long thrived in difficult territory."

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie visited the rancher in 2012 but decided not to use his County Officers to enforce Federal deadlines. He will not put his deputies in danger over a herd of cattle.

Sheriff Gillespie called Cliven Bundy and gave him the names of a few lawyers to contact.

"I don’t know if he’s looking out for me or trying to protect his own skin," Bundy said. "But I told him he needs to defend my life, liberty and property."

Cliven Bundy’s supporters include Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins, who doesn’t buy the BLM's argument that this whole ordeal is all about trying to protect the desert tortoise.

"The U.S. government has perpetrated a bigger fraud on people over those tortoises than Al Capone did selling swampland in Miami," he said.

Collins added that Nevada officials are studying whether to petition the Federal Government for local control over a wide swath of land that includes the area Cliven Bundy is fighting over.

"Cliven doesn’t want to be a martyr — the guy who shot it out with the Feds, Waco-style," he said. "I just hope the government isn’t stupid enough to go pick a fight with him."

Cliven Bundy admitted that his own spread runs to just 160 acres which is far less than he needs to keep 500 head of cattle alive on such inhospitable land.

But he insisted his improvements, including the cost of his putting in 100 wells that his family dug from beneath the desert scrub, have bettered the land.

He says the Federal plan to close off the area for the sake of the tortoises will ban not just his cattle but the general public from land with natural beauty that should be enjoyed.

Carol Bundy said her husband is not a violent man, just a person who will protect what he owns. For that matter, so will she.

"I’ve got a shotgun," she said. "It’s loaded and I know how to use it. We’re ready to do what we have to do, but we’d rather win this in the court of public opinion."

It's All Over A Tortoise

Throughout the housing boom in the 2000s, the BLM was earning enough to fund the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center (DTCC) in southern Las Vegas, a habitat "created in 1991 to house wild desert tortoises removed from the path of development and to use those tortoises to aid recovery of the species."

Its operating budget was about One Million Taxpayer Dollars per year. Yes, $1,000,000.00 of your money on a herd of tortoise.

The recession that followed dwindled the number of developers and the funds for the DTCC.

So, with the possibility of shutting their doors, the DTCC began releasing healthier turtles into the wild -- but they killed about 1,400 tortoises in the process.

Roy Averill-Murray, the tortoise recovery coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told the AP that an estimated 60% of the facility’s 1,400 dead tortoises were stricken with disease and could not be housed near healthy tortoises.

The news of what happened to the tortoises spurred Environmentalist into taking action by wanting to adopt them or donate money.

"Although it’s wonderful that people want to give money, it won’t change the outcome for the Desert Conservation Center," BLM Communications Chief Erica Haspiel-Szlosek stated. "There just isn’t money to keep it going, nor is it really the best use of conservation funds."

And yes, believe it or notm the tortoises that the Feds see as endangered have an average 100-year life span.

The BLM Steals The Bundy Ranch Cattle

So now, despite the imminent closing of the DTCC’s doors due to lack of funding, the BLM has gone on to round up about 234 of rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle at gunpoint claiming they’re helping protect the tortoise and claiming that he now owes the BLM over $1 million in grazing fees.

As crazy as this sounds, on April 9th, 2014, the Bureau of Land Management with the help of helicopters, low-flying aircraft and hired cowboys, began rounding up the Bundy Ranch’s cattle.

To make matter worse, the BLM, the United States Government forbide him from interfering with the operation.

"My forefathers have been up and down the Virgin Valley ever since 1877. All these rights I claim have been created through pre-emptive rights and beneficial use of the forage and water. I have been here longer. My rights are before the BLM even existed," Cliven said.

The BLM says they’re moving in, not to encroach on the man’s property rights, but because Cliven Bundy didn’t pay "grazing fees".

Please understand, the BLM has rounded up this rancher's cattle because he hasn't paid a million dollars -- those so-called "grazing fees" were imposed by the BLM, the Federal Government, on land developers "who disturb tortoise habitat on public land."

Cliven Bundy is not a "land developer" wanting to build houses where both the tortoise and the cattle roam.

Through their waste, Cliven's cattle provide key nutition to a land starved for furtilizer.

Enviornmentalist forget their history, or how nature works in their favor.

They forget that America was covered with Bison, American Buffalo, and through their waste, their manure, the land received needed nutrion.

When the American Buffalo was almost wiped-out, free ranging cattle took their place. And yes, it was hard as nials American Ranchers like Cliven Bundy and his family that has been the stewards of the land for generations.

Feds Put Boots Their Son's Head

As stated before, a few days ago, on April 9th, the BLM decided to hell with the Bundy's and stole their cattle.

After 20 years of battling the United States Government, after years of legal wrangling, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) attained a federal court order to have Cliven Bundy's nearly 1,000 head of cattle removed.

The United States Government has used more force against Cliven Bundy and his family than in Bengahzi, Libya!

Using armed Agents with military weaponry, they surrounded his ranch -- and have not left.

The Federal Agents are armed with automatic weapons, sniper rifles, have top communications, top surveillance equipment, and a number of Urban Assault Vehicles.

Carol Bundy, Cliven’s wife, said hundreds of armed BLM and FBI agents are set up around their property, as helicopters circle the area, and nearby roads remain off limits.

"We’re surrounded," Carol Bundy said. "We’re estimating that there are over 200 armed BLM, FBI. We’ve got surveillance cameras at our house, they’re probably listening to me talk to you right now."

As of Monday, the Government Agents and their contractors have seized 234 of the 908 cattle.

The removal will cost the Federal Government as much as $3 Million.

"The battle’s been going on for 20 years," Cliven Bundy said. "What’s happened the last two weeks, the United States Government, the bureaus are getting this army together and they’re going to get their job done and they’re going to prove two things. They’re going to prove they can do it, and they’re gonna prove that they have unlimited power, and that they control the policing power over this public land. That’s what they’re trying to prove."

The family said their son, Dave Bundy, was arrested for taking photos of state road 170, which had been closed by BLM.

Dave was aggressively apprehended by officials for "failure to comply with multiple requests by BLM law enforcement to leave the temporary closure area on public lands."

Carol Bundy said five agents took Dave and "threw him on the ground."

"One put his knee on his head, the other put his boot on his head and pushed him into the gravel," she said. "He’s got quite a bruised head. Just bruised him up pretty good."

BLM defends their actions in removing the "trespass cattle" as necessary since Cliven Bundy did not "voluntarily" move the cattle after refusing to pay back fees for use of the land.

"I’m a producer," Cliven said. "I produce edible commodity from the desert forage, and all of these things are governed under state law. So, in other words, this type of government has eliminated all of our state law, eliminated our state sovereignty, and has took control over our public lands and even took control over our Clark County sheriff. They’ve taken the whole county over. The whole state, almost."

The Bundys said their appeals to local and state law enforcement and other authorities have proved futile.

"This is just about power of the government," Carol said. "Our sheriff says he just doesn’t have authority, our governor says he doesn’t have authority, and we’re saying, why are we a state?"

In a further display of power, BLM has cordoned off what is being called a "First Amendment Area" as designated spots where demonstrators are allowed by BLM to gather and protest the action.

This aspect of the cattle removal has caught the attention of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.

"Most disturbing to me is the BLM's establishment of a 'First Amendment Area' that tramples upon Nevadans' fundamental rights under the US Constitution,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

"To that end, I have advised the BLM that such conduct is offensive to me and countless others and that the 'First Amendment Area' should be dismantled immediately," he said.

"No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists or the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans. The BLM needs to reconsider its approach to this matter and act accordingly."

Gov. Sandoval added that his office had received other complaints about BLM, including road closings and "other disturbances."

The Militias, Demonstrators, And The Bundy's  

Now groups from as far away as New Hampshire are riding out to Nevada to join Cliven in his standoff with the Federal Government.   

The groups said they were going to the ranch, some 80 miles north of Las Vegas to stand with Cliven Bundy, who property is surrounded by Federal Agents.  

Cliven's herd, which once numbered nearly 1,000, is being thinned out by private contractors under the watch of dozens of armed Federal Agents in Urban Assault Vehicles and helicopters.

 Worried that the Bundy family will become sensless victims of the recklessness of over zealous Government Agents eager to make a kill, groups are coming to Nevada from all over the nation.  

Trigger Happy Federal Agents  

I never thought I'd see the day when the United States has Government Agents who would fire upon fellow Americans who have a peaceful grievence with the Government.

But like the places that I have been to overseas, places where the police are equiped like the military, American law enforcement thinks it has the authority to kill Americans on orders.

Like the Nazi who killed millions of their fellow Germans, or the Government snipers at Ruby Ridge, or those who ordered tanks to be used in Waco Texas, I see this as not ending well because we have Government Agents who "just follow orders".

Because many out there fear the worse from the heavy handed Government Officials in charge, groups are showing up to bear witness and hopefully serve as deterrent to the murder of the Bundy family.

"Our mission here is to protect the protestors and the American citizens from the violence that the federal government is dishing out,” Jim Landy, a member of the West Mountain Rangers, who made the journey from Montana to Nevada, told Fox News Channel.

“People here are scared.”

Cliven Bundy's family called for support this week after some incidents of violence between the family and protestors with law-enforcement.

Bundy’s son was shot with a stun gun on Wednesday and his sister, Margaret Houston was pushed to the ground in incidents caught on video.

The protests began to grow last week, after Federal Agents from the Bureau of Land Management shut off access to a large swath of federal land to round up Bundy’s cattle.

Landy said groups were going to the scene to try to help keep the peace.

"The Bundy family is expecting to be shot if they try to round up their own cattle," he said. "We are here to make sure they are not harmed. The American people are afraid of their Federal Government."

Members of a Utah militia arrived at the ranch Wednesday, and other militias from Texas, New Hampshire and Florida are reportedly set to arrive in the coming days.

“For more than two decades, cattle have been grazed illegally on public lands in northeast Clark County,” the BLM said in a statement. "BLM and (the National Park Service) have made repeated attempts to resolve this matter administratively and judicially. Impoundment of cattle illegally grazing on public lands is an option of last resort."

Cliven Bundy, age 67, father of 14, has been a rancher all his life, told FoxNews.com last week he believes the federal agency is trying to push him to the breaking point and likened his situation to the 1993 disaster in Waco, Texas, in which federal and state law enforcement agencies laid siege to a compound of religious fanatics calling themselves Branch Davidians, a move that resulted in the deaths of 76.

Cliven Bundy, a descendant of Mormons who settled in Bunkerville more than 140 years ago, claims an inherent right to graze the area and casts the conflict as a States' Rights issue.

At a news conference Friday on his ranch, he said the Federal Government is wrong to deny his cattle access to the grazing land they've always used.

"I flew down along the river here, and I'd seen a little herd of cows," he told a gathering of supporters. "Baby cows. They was grazing on their meadow and they was really quite happy."

"I then flew up the river here up to Flat Top Mason, and all of a sudden, there's an army up there. A compound. Probably close to a hundred vehicles and gates all around and vehicles with armed soldiers in them.

"Then I'm wondering where I am. I'm not in Afghanistan. I think I'm in Nevada. But I'm not sure right now," he said to applause and defiant shouts.

Federal officials said that BLM enforcement agents were dispatched in response to statements Cliven Bundy made which they perceived as threats.

Threats To Rustlers

"When threats are made that could jeopardize the safety of the American people, the contractors and our personnel; we have the responsibility to provide law enforcement to account for their safety," National Park Service spokeswoman Christie Vanover said to reporters Sunday.

As I read all of the reports from the last year or so, I noticed the Cliven Bundy's family has not made any threats to neighbors or anyone friendy to them.

Yes, they have said that they will protect themselves and their property.

But then again, that's not normally a threat -- unless of course you are the ones wanting to hurt them or rustle their cattle.

It seems that the BLM has put themselves in the place of the burglar who breaks into a home then tries to say the homeowner was wrong in having a dog that bites and will protect its family.

I can understand why the Bundy's did not pay the "grazing fees," after all those fees were supposedly imposed on "land developers" -- not beef producers.

I cannot understand why those fees were needed for supposedly for a tortoise research center, Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, when that place is now defunct and going to close its doors?

I cannot understand why a tortoise needs all of that land?

Those 186,909 acres of land set aside for the tortoise is about the size of half of the state of Rhode Island, why do they need so much land?

And frankly, can someone answer why all of those 186,909 acres of land can ONLY be used for the tortoise -- and not for cattle as well? Why can't they co-exist?
That makes no sense.

It makes no sense that cattle cannot live on the same open range that tortoise do. It's as if the brilliant folks in the Government believe that the buffalo never co-existed on that same range that the tortoise over a hundred years ago.

No, it makes no sense at all.

But what make the least sense is bringing in armed Government Agents with military hardware to subdue one family who have been trying to make a living on land that has been in their family for 140 years.

What makes no sense is that the Obama Administration is letting this happen and that a family is suffering all because they want to be left alone to raise cattle co-existing with jack rabbits, prarie dogs, coyotes, and all sorts of other critters that don't need an area have the size of Rhode Island to survive.

No, the actions of the United States Government makes no sense during this whole ordeal.

And honestly, I just pray that the United States Government doesn't decide to kill these folks just to make the point that they can -- and we just have to take it.

UPDATE:

At 3pm today, April 12th, I checked news sources to see if there had been any change in the situation in Nevada.

It is being reported that the BLM has stopped its tactical operations against Cliven Bundy and his family, while also stopping their stealing cattle from the Bundy ranch.

Fox News was reporting:

Federal agency pulls back in Nevada ranch standoff, but legal fight remains

Fox News reported  that the Bureau of Land Management announced that it has ended its mission to remove so-called "illegal cattle" from the Nevada range after a tense standoff with the Bundy family and thousands of militia supporters.

The BLM is citing a "serious concern" for the safety of their employees and the public. But I have a feeling that they were feeling sort of like Custer at the Little Big Horn.

BLM officials had dismantled "designated protest areas" supporting rancher Cliven Bundy, who they say refused to comply with the "same laws that 16,000 public land ranchers do every year."

As a point of interest, someone should inform those Government Officials that that is exactly how America works - when it works well.

When our system works well, one person can stand up and say, "Stop, this is not right," and people can stop to take a look at the situation to decide if that one person is right or not -- no matter how many people have gone along with the injustice previously.

Take for example something that we are all familiar with, our Miranda Rights.

For years, hundreds of thousands of Americans went along with what they thought was right.

Law enforcement used intimidation or coercive methods of police interrogation commonly referred to as undergoing the "Third Degree."

Today, as protection against any possibility of police intimidation, we have the Miranda Warning because one person said "Stop, this is not right."

In the case of Ernesto Miranda, on March 13th, 1963, his lawyer said, "Stop, this is not right" -- and the decision that suspects must be informed of their specific legal rights when they are placed under arrest is common place.

As for Cliven Bundy, maybe he will be the one to stop BLM abuse of thousands of other Americans.

A group of over 1,000 Bundy family supporter cheered and sang "The Star Spangled Banner" when BLM made its announcement to leave.

The standoff at the ranch, some 80 miles north of Las Vegas, became an increasingly tense issue the longer it lasted, prompting elected officials in several states to weigh in, militia members to mobilize, and Federal Officials to rethink their tactical operation in which snipers, Urban Assault Vehicles, and other military hardware was deployed.

The cattle roundup started last Saturday after the BLM and National Park Service shut down an area half the size of Delaware to let cowhands using helicopters and vehicles gather about 900 cattle that officials say are trespassing.

Most believe this is "Legalized Cattle Rustling" by the BLM.

BLM still faces charges of abuse over its treatment of Bundy family members when Government Agents used stun guns on one of sons during a confrontation on a state highway near the Bundy melon farm in the Gold Butte area last Wednesday.

Video of that confrontation spread on the Internet, along with blog commentary claiming excessive government force and calls to arms from self-described militia leaders.

Many Americans still remember the deadly confrontations with Federal Authorities during the siege of a ranch home in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992, and the fiery destruction of a religious compound near Waco, Texas, that killed 76 people in 1993 because the Feds used Army Tanks against those inside.

Arizona state Rep. Bob Thorpe of Flagstaff said he and state legislators weren't arguing whether Bundy broke laws or violated grazing agreements. Thorpe said the Arizona lawmakers were upset the BLM initially restricted protesters to so-called free speech zones.

Sen. Dean Heller and Gov. Brian Sandoval, both Republicans, have also said they were upset with the way the BLM was conducting the roundup. After the areas were removed Thursday, Sandoval issued a new statement.

"Although tensions remain high, escalation of current events could have negative, long lasting consequences that can be avoided," it said.

This whole ordeal has been unnecessary, and the BLM's demand for unwarranted fees and intimidation should be investigated.

And yes, I agree with Carol Bundy who recently said, "People are getting tired of the Federal Government having unlimited power."


Yes we are!
That's just how I see it.

Tom Correa

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