Bundy vs. The Bureau of Land Management: An Overbearing Government?

Right From the Start

Right From the Start


The gap between what is right and what is legal is often a chasm of cultures. –


Recent events involving Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are a case in point.  The BLM seized Mr. Bundy’s herd of cattle that were grazing on BLM land in an effort to collect nearly $1 Million that it claims is due and owing from Mr. Bundy.  A confrontation ensued between BLM officials and Mr. Bundy, local citizens and supporters from surrounding counties and states.  It is easy to dismiss this as another wing nut adventure but that misses the relevant points.

Mr. Bundy may be part of the sovereign citizen movement – he has used language and rationale akin to their pronouncements – I am not.  He may be a part of the militia movement – they have appeared in support of his efforts – I am not.  He may be a member of the Tea Party – they have appeared in support of his efforts – I have been supportive of many of the efforts of the Tea Party.  Or he may simply be a citizen expressing his outrage at an overbearing federal government that too often sacrifices the well being of its citizens for the ambitions of its politicians and bureaucrats – in that we are one.  And I am not the only one.  Mr. Bundy was joined by state officials from Nevada and surroundings states and even members of Congress during his protest.

I don’t pretend to know what drives Mr. Bundy and I, therefore, cannot subscribe to whatever his motives may be.  But there are two major issues that are emblematic of this conflict.  The first is the corruptive influence of an overwhelming and overbearing federal bureaucracy and the second is the hypocrisy of a government’s willingness to prosecute its citizens for disputes over the fairness of a law, while at the same time choosing to ignore laws that it deems unfair.  A final issue should also be the wisdom of the federal government to own and administer such a substantial portion of America’s landmass.

The BLM administers approximately 1.8 Billion acres of land.  (For those of you forced to endure a teachers union dominated public education in the Portland Public Schools, that is 2,812,500 square miles – roughly twenty-eight and one-half times the size of Oregon.)  According to the BLM, most of the land lies west of the Mississippi River and in Alaska.  And yet most of the decisions made relating to the administration of the land are made by faceless bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.  Most of them wouldn’t know a cow from a cockroach.  I take that back, cockroaches are one of the few animals that can be found in Washington, D.C. and apparently thrive there – something to do with “birds of a feather.”  But they sure as hell couldn’t pick out a desert tortoise from a pet store box turtle.  And yet they disrupted the historic grazing use of the land in question for the tortoise – an animal that has co-existed with cattle, coyotes, mountain lions and other large mammals on this land for over one hundred years with no adverse effects.  But in the bureaucrats’ one-size-fits-all world, no regard was given to the effects on adjacent humans or their livelihoods.  It was that decision that became the linchpin for Mr. Bundy’s entanglement with the BLM.

And it is here that the distinction is drawn between what is legal and what is right.  There is no question that it is legal for the BLM to administer the land, including the right to limit its use in favor of the tortoise.  That does not make it right and in this case absent a showing by the BLM of actual harm to the tortoise population on the land in question and that such specific harm is detrimental to the population generally, it is not right.  Protests have routinely been used to highlight the difference between what is legal and what is right.

As a person raised in the West who has lived with and owned guns virtually all of my life, I am less than enthused by the fact that many chose to bring arms to the protest.  I understand that absent the threat of armed conflict the BLM agents would simply have ignored all and bulldozed their way into seizing and loading Mr. Bundy’s cattle as retribution.  They would have, in fact, used their own show of arms to intimidate those who protested.  But the opportunity for violence could escalate dramatically by one person with his own agenda choosing that opportunity to exercise his own demons.  Most of the farmers and ranchers present own firearms and most, like me, have grown up respecting them and their use.  But there is also an element amongst those in attendance that neither respects the use of weapons or the devastating toll they can exact.

But the fact that protestors would take up arms – not just a couple but seemingly the majority – is an indication of the frustration of citizens with a government that neither listens to or cares about their concerns.  The faceless bureaucrats who have such a devastating impact on the lives of those of us in the West remain studiously ignorant of the size, shape and use of the lands they are charged with administering.  Worse yet they remain studiously ignorant of the very people they are supposed to protect – choosing instead to yield to the chorus of well financed special interest groups who use the government to impose private agendas on the public at large.

Mr. Bundy’s son, Ammon, in noting a government that is out of control stated:

“It’s going to take the people standing up, making it right.  One man standing up can get buffaloed, but when the people stand together, they get it right.”

The Bundys are right in that regard.  Government is too large, too intrusive and too insulated from the people it serves.  We have migrated from “a government of the people, by the people, for the people. . .” to a people of the government, by the government and for the government.

The second aspect of this dispute has come more brightly into focus under President Barack Obama and his Attorney General Eric Holder.  Under their watch, they have refused to enforce Voting Rights Act violations against the Black Panthers, immigration laws against Hispanics, federal drug laws against marijuana growers, and on and on.  They have chosen to capture and surveil the phone calls and internet usage of our citizens and our allies, exact punitive measures through the IRS on their political opponents, stonewall legitimate Congressional inquiries into a host of issues, and unilaterally alter the terms of Mr. Obama’s own singular legislative achievement – Obamacare.  More than any presidents since Richard Nixon, Mr. Obama has chosen to ignore laws that he does not favor and impose laws by fiat that he does favor but to which he is unable to convince the Congress to adopt.  We have become not a nation of laws, but rather a nation of men – one man, Mr. Obama.

And yet, when Mr. Bundy protests a law that he does not favor, Mr. Obama and his administration bring the full weight and resources of the federal government to bear.  There is an imbalance in the relationship between the government and the governed and the imbalance is not for the good.

And finally, among those protesting at the Bundy confrontation with the BLM were any number of people who do not believe that the federal government, particularly in the form of the BLM, should exercise jurisdiction over such vast swathes of the West.  They believe that the land should be ceded to the states and that state governments are closer to the people where such lands lie.  They believe that the states should have that choice in administering those lands and they believe that the West is under siege by federal land regulations – regulations by many who have never journeyed west of the Adirondacks let alone the Mississippi.  The vast expanses of BLM land yield little in net revenues to the government.  They are held in isolation to ensure the primacy of the federal government rather than the well-being of its citizens.  There needs to be a change.

[Ed note: orig ver had editing error with ‘Burton’ instead of ‘Bundy’ in a few places.]

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Bill of Rights, Federal Government, Government Regulation, Land Use Laws, Leadership, President Obama | 33 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    What’s also whacked about the endangered species act and how it has gotten administered is specie has now become geographical in nature, meaning the same exact animal or other living matter in two different locations is now counted as two species. We need to roll back the regulations, and substitute a set of general principles guiding common law court type administration. Our set of laws has become so voluminous and prescriptive it seriously weakens any sense of general principles.

  • Jack Lord God

    This is one of those situations where both sides, Bundy and the government acted fairly irresponsibly. The fees are due and Bundy clearly should pay them.

    However, rightly or wrongly, agree or disagree, one thing is certain, there is a substantial portion of the population that believes federal law generally is being enforced not in an impartial manner, but in a way designed to acheive political ends rather than fair implementation of the law.

    Eric “Body Bags” Holder has gone on record saying he believes he has wide latitude in deciding which laws he will enforce. That kind of statement, especially when it is demonstrable Holder has acted on this belief, is just as irresponsible as Bundy’s craziness.

    In the end what this comes down to is an old man with some cows who resents paying grazing fees, a bunch of lunatics on horseback riding to his aid with guns, and a government agency acting with disproportionate force and thus reinforcing the perception that the current administration enforces the law to further political ends rather than assure a fair and just society.

    The only responsible action here was the backing down of the government at the stand off. The idiots on the left who I have seen outraged by this action are really no better than the knuckleheads with guns who rode down to help Bundy. What did they want? Some macho display of force with the very real risk of another Waco in order to collect some fees that don’t amount to a hill of beans?

    The correct action here is for the government to lien Bundys property. If that is insufficient to satisfy the dopey fees, then park a federal agent in a car near the cattle, Follow them to the livestock auction and confiscate the check when Bundy sells his cattle.

    We don’t need yahoos on horseback forcing a standoff with the BLM and we certainly don’t need some tough guys approach on the part of the BLM with sniper teams and a small army trying to enforce a dopey civil matter of grazing fees.

  • Sally

    They only want this guy out of there for the Harry Reid solar farm.
    Wake up peoples.

  • thevillageidiot

    Larry, well said.
    “But the fact that protestors would take up arms – not just a couple but
    seemingly the majority – is an indication of the frustration of citizens
    with a government that neither listens to or cares about their
    concerns. The faceless bureaucrats who have such a devastating impact
    on the lives of those of us in the West remain studiously ignorant of
    the size, shape and use of the lands they are charged with
    administering. Worse yet they remain studiously ignorant of the very
    people they are supposed to protect – choosing instead to yield to the
    chorus of well financed special interest groups who use the government
    to impose private agendas on the public at large.” Is the exact prupose of the second amendment. the citizens should not fear the government but the government should fear the people. an armed citizenry can do that but an unarmed one cannot. Again well said.

  • Ballistic45

    Payments to BLM for grazing rights are to be used for the land, it was not, is not and This Rancher has plowed his own money into the improvement of this land as has his ancestors for over 100 years when there was no such thing as the BLM.. BLM killed far more tortoises than his cattle ever could and the tortoises have survived just fine for over 100 years of grazing… Only when the land became valuable to a crony politician did they become endangered by grazing.. You can not describe what is when your eyes are closed, your ears are plugged and your hands are in your pockets, all you have left is your nose and anyone can describe the Stink of Treason even a Liberal, WAKE UP AMERICA..

  • Maritxu

    When did the word “public” get written out of the term “public lands?” Have we finally come to the point in this country where we believe that the Federal Government must be treated like some separate entity that has private ownership of property and that it alone controls and dictates what and who ought to be permitted there? Public lands belong to the people of the United States, not to the BLM whose job it is to “administer” those lands for the benefit of the citizens. Instead we have politicians in Washington D.C. who think the BLM and other agencies charged with the duty ought to administer our public lands for the benefit of their political agendas. Isn’t Obama’s punitive shutdown of the National Parks in the budget battles a case in point? And why else have Harry Reid and his feckless son weighted in? Pure politics!

    In the meantime, while denying the “public” access and use of public lands, the personal wages and other income of hardworking Americans have, to our dismay, become “public” funds which we are now required by the Federal Government to “share” with those who do not care to work or take care of themselves. In the meantime, while denying U.S. citizens the use of public lands and aiming assault weapons at them to back it up, the Federal Government employs a “hands off” policy for the hordes of illegal immigrants flowing daily over the borders onto our sovereign lands. And who is treated like the “law-breaker?” Not those who have violated U.S. immigration law, but some guy whose cows are eating grass on public lands out in the middle of nowhere. When we get our priorities straight on how to treat people who invade U.S. lands, then we can deal appropriately with the Bundys.

    • Eric Blair

      “… Federal Government must be treated like some separate entity that has
      private ownership of property and that it alone controls and dictates
      what and who ought to be permitted there”

      Well, who would get to decide? Do I get to go and chop down trees in the Mt. Hood National Forest and sell them for firewood? Maybe starting some gold mining operations on the salmon river?

      • thevillageidiot

        you obvioulsy do not get the concept of private property. if you own the property yes. otherwise no.
        ut if you want to go down that “public” road then if it is truly “Public” then yes you should do any thing you want. then watch how the “public” treats property.

        • Eric Blair

          Ummm… I don’t think you understood what I was saying at all.

    • Marion co

      Nevada gave control to the US Gov of those lands well before this dilrod or his family was even a sprout. It’s in the Nevada Constitution! The CONSTITUTION! Clive can’t just decide he doesn’t “like” what it says and do his own thing. All those idiots who showed up to fight the “govment” should have been dealt with like common criminals. Only in the US will we let “occupiers” (Wall Street) and these d-bag Clive supporters get away with breaking the law.

  • Marion co

    Unbelievable!!!! I’ve been listening/reading people defend this criminal for the past several days. Nut job extremist willing to defend with force his criminal acts. ITS PUBLIC LAND! You have to pay to use it. End of story. Twist it turn it anyway you want. If I was a rancher from the same area I’d be pissed!

    • sally

      How come he won, then?

      • thevillageidiot

        well put Sally!! if one listens to lame stream media then we all get the picture that the rancher is just another thief. the MSM brings us all the facts from all the news around the world and in every instance Uncle Sam is the Best the world has ever seen. Not!.

      • FreeCB

        Let’s wait and see…..you do know when this thing all started back in the 90’s “someone” bombed the us forest service building

      • Eric Blair

        So if he “wins” he must not be a criminal? That’s rather creative logic.

        • sally

          That is correct, sir!

  • Myke

    Administrative law is the exercise of confinement without the oversight of representative review. It is the greatest endangerment to a free people, and the slow shackling of innovative thought through the process of judicial hand cuffing. A law, or regulation has never been written that did not take someone’s right away.

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  • TJ2000

    This is NOT A SINGLE STATE NATION; States can preserve land too; just look at Texas.

    The TRUE argument is who supports honoring the agreement and who wants to violate it by ignoring the
    U.S. Constitution which got put on a shelf and ignored

    How the West lost its land rights.

    1. The U.S. conquered the territory and residents joined the U.S. through State Enabling Acts

    State “disclaim right to all unappropriated lands”
    BECAUSE the U.S. cannot create the state without a disclaim on the territory becoming a state
    Per the Land Ordinance Act

    2. The U.S. under trust was to setup the state republic and extinquish those lands back
    to the state.


    “to whom of right belonged the vacant territory appertaining to the crown at the time of the revolution, whether to the states, within whose charter territory it was situated, or to the Union in its federative capacity” was “a subject of long and ardent controversy, and…threatened to disturb the peace, if not to overthrow the government of the Union.” To avert a potential crisis, Madison successfully proposed that the Convention should be “neutral and fair” and “ought to go farther and declare that the claims of particular States also should not be affected.”

    3. The U.S. failed to extinquish those lands and held them hostage

    “WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has affirmed that the federal government must honor its trust obligation to extinguish title to the public lands for the sovereignty of the new state to be complete.” (pg 3 line 4)

    **Supreme Court upholds that the land is for sale/disposal ONLY**

    and the soils under them, were not granted by the Constitution to the United States, [[[but were reserved to the States respectively]]]. Secondly, the new States have the same rights, sovereignty, and jurisdiction over this subject as the original States. Thirdly, the right of the United States to the public lands, and the power of Congress to make all needful rules and regulations for the sale and disposition thereof, [[[conferred no power to grant to the plaintiffs the land in controversy]]] in this case. The judgment of the Supreme Court of the [[[State of Alabama is]]], therefore, affirmed.

    **Federal can own land upon these bases**

    U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17) ” and to exercise like Authority over
    all Places purchased by the [[[Consent of the Legislature of the State]]] in
    which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals,
    dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings”

    **Arguers will eclipse the Constitution “…” to justify (property clause – Article 4:3:2)***

    The Congress shall have Power to [dispose of] and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting (definition: with regard to) the Territory or other Property [belonging] to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, [or of any particular State].

    Upon Statehood the area is no longer a “Territory”

    “The Division is also responsible for the acquisition of real property by eminent domain for the federal government”

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