Don’t Fence Me In
Looks like the jig might be just about up for Cliven Bundy. As it turns out, rather than a Noble Patriot deserving a place of honor in the How The West Was Won Hall of Fame, old Cliven is just a pretty pathetic garden variety liar. Or, if you prefer, a high plains grifter . . . in keeping with the western motif.
A local Nevada TV station was inspired by Bundy’s stirring personal history to do a little digging into his background and found that the details differ significantly from the King James Version elicited by BundyBooster, Sean Hannity, et al.
It’s not like we have go digging through ancient papyrii, written in runes, to get to the bottom of all this, either.
According to property records, Ma and Pa Bundy moved from Arizona to Nevada in 1948, bought a ranch and settled down to raise little Cliven, among other things. They didn’t get around to putting cattle on their land until six years later, in 1954.
Despite the fact that Cliven Bundy used to recognize that the federal government owned the land his cattle were grazing on and, indeed, paid the requisite grazing fees for that land use for years, in the mid 1990s, Bundy unilaterally decided that the federal government no longer owned those lands, and he stopped paying his grazing permit—or he “fired” BLM as his daughter puts it.
When the Bureau of Land Management revoked his grazing permits for failure to pay, that was when Cliven Bundy started claiming ancestral rights to the land. He has consistently claimed that the state of Nevada owns the land despite the fact that the Nevada state constitution is pretty clear that that is not the case:
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; and that lands belonging to citizens of the United States, residing without the said state, shall never be taxed higher than the land belonging to the residents thereof; and that no taxes shall be imposed by said state on lands or property therein belonging to, or which may hereafter be purchased by, the United States, unless otherwise provided by the congress of the United States. [Amended in 1956. Proposed and passed by the 1953 legislature; agreed to and passed by the 1955 legislature; approved and ratified by the people at the 1956 general election. See: Statutes of Nevada 1953, p. 718; Statutes of Nevada 1955, p. 926.]
Over the last decade, Bundy has continued to trespass on public lands for free and pressed his case in the courts, to no avail.
Bundy principally opposes the United States’ motion for summary judgment on the ground that this court lacks jurisdiction because the United States does not own the public lands in question. As this court previously ruled in United States v. Bundy, Case No. CV-S-98-531-JBR (RJJ) (D. Nev. Nov. 4, 1998), “the public lands in Nevada are the property of the United States because the United States has held title to those public lands since 1848, when Mexico ceded the land to the United States.”
In sum, in this most recent effort to oppose the United States’ legal process, Bundy has produced no valid law or specific facts raising a genuine issue of fact regarding federal ownership or management of public lands in Nevada, or that his cattle have not trespassed on the New Trespass Lands.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Bundy shall remove his livestock from the New Trespass Lands within 45 days of the date hereof, and that the United States is entitled to seize and remove to impound any of Bundy’s cattle that remain in trespass after 45 days of the date hereof.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the United States is entitled to seize and remove to impound any of Bundy’s cattle for any future trespasses, provided the United States has provided notice to Bundy under the governing regulations of the United States Department of the Interior.
So, despite the fact that Bundy claims a right passed down from some ancient ancestor, “Lucy” of the Plains, or whatever, it’s mostly hogwash. If our government had ever been anything like fair and honest with Native Americans, Bundy would be negotiating his grazing rights with the Paiute Nation, right now.
Cliven Bundy is simply a cranky old man, with delusions of grandeur, who’s fed up with paying taxes to the government that made his rather comfortable lifestyle a possibility.
Unfortunately, in 21st century America there is a clamoring throng of ideologues out there to convince a guy like Bundy that the US Constitution bestows upon him an inalienable right to do whatever the hell he damn well pleases. And an equally loud chorus of folks encouraging him to shoot anybody that threatens to abridge that right.