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Hullabaloo


Saturday, April 12, 2014

 
It's not about cows, it's about freedom

by digby

In case you're curious about what the conservatives are frothing about this week-end, it's this:
A group of Republican Arizona lawmakers are upset with a brewing showdown in Nevada between the federal government and a rancher who claims rights to graze his cattle in a remote area about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

Rep. Bob Thorpe of Flagstaff said Thursday he is among about three dozen state legislators sending a letter to federal and Nevada officials about the standoff between rancher Cliven Bundy and Bureau of Land Management officials.

Federal officials say Bundy has racked up more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees over the years while disregarding several court orders to remove his animals.

Thorpe says lawmakers aren’t arguing over whether Bundy has broken laws or violated grazing agreements. They’re more concerned with what they perceive as government heavy-handedness and how officials are restricting protesters to “free speech zones” near the closed off federal land.

Tea Party Republican state Rep. Kelly Townsend tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal she was shocked after seeing the video where federal police used a stun gun on one of Bundy’s sons.

“Watching that video last night created a visceral reaction in me,” Townsend told the Review-Journal. “It sounds dramatic, but it reminded me of Tiananmen Square. I don’t recognize my country at this point.”
I don't blame her for being upset about that video, although I'm not sure it qualifies as a Tienenmen moment. Those taser videos make me sick to my stomach every time I see them.  I wonder if this Tea Partier realizes how often these are used on people she doesn't like?  After all these same folks cheered on the cops brutalizing Occupy protesters. (But then they deserved it. According to Fox News they were randomly shitting everywhere, so what could you do?)

On the other hand, maybe this is a teachable moment. If the government can even use electric shock on good, God fearing conservatives, maybe it's not such a good idea after all.

Anyway, they won:
A Nevada cattle rancher appears to have won his week-long battle with the federal government over a controversial cattle roundup that had led to the arrest of several protesters.

Cliven Bundy went head to head with the Bureau of Land Management over the removal of hundreds of his cattle from federal land, where the government said they were grazing illegally.

Bundy claims his herd of roughly 900 cattle have grazed on the land along the riverbed near Bunkerville, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, since 1870 and threatened a "range war" against the BLM on the Bundy Ranch website after one of his sons was arrested while protesting the removal of the cattle.

"I have no contract with the United States government," Bundy said. "I was paying grazing fees for management and that's what BLM was supposed to be, land managers and they were managing my ranch out of business, so I refused to pay."

The federal government had countered that Bundy "owes the American people in excess of $1 million " in unpaid grazing fees and "refuses to abide by the law of land, despite many opportunities over the last 20 years to do so."

However, today the BLM said it would not enforce a court order to remove the cattle and was pulling out of the area.

"Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public," BLM Director Neil Kornze said.

"We ask that all parties in the area remain peaceful and law-abiding as the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service work to end the operation in an orderly manner," he said.

The roundup began April 5, following lengthy court proceedings dating back to 1993, federal officials said. Federal officers began impounding the first lot of cows last weekend, and Bundy responded by inviting supporters onto his land to protest the action.

"It's not about cows, it's about freedom," Utah resident Yonna Winget told ABC News affiliate KTNV in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"People are getting tired of the federal government having unlimited power," Bundy's wife, Carol Bundy told ABC News.
Huzzah! A Major Patriotic Victory. Well sort of.

Perhaps I'm being cynical but I just have a feeling that these people will not enthusiastically support other protesters when they are forced to confront police armed with tasers. Or be as upset when the DEA storms through someone's house and confiscates all their belongings and auctions them off without any due process. They haven't been up to this point anyway.

But hey, maybe this is a turning point. We live in hope.


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