Commentary: How is he an idiot? Let me count the ways

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The Cliven Bundy Bunch — and the man himself — needs to stop foaming at the mouth; stop creating a terrible caricature of cattle ranchers and go find a hole somewhere to crawl into.

For the sake of every honest, hardworking, clear-thinking cattle rancher out there, let’s hope the Cliven Bundy debacle goes away.

Quickly and quietly.

After a wave of media attention that initially focused on a supposed struggle over “freedom and liberty,” with undertones of militia-type “rebellion” against the federal government, Bundy went completely off the rails last week when a reporter captured him on video spouting some of the most ignorant, bigoted, clueless comments about African-Americans and the history of slavery.

As multiple media sources agreed, you’re not going to do your “cause” any favors when you start off your statement with the words, “[The Negro] abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton.”

Those comments, as reported in The New York Times, CNN and plenty of other reputable media outlets, removed any shred of legitimacy from Bundy’s so-called campaign to keep running his cattle on public lands — and not having to pay for the privilege.

Digging into Bundy’s mindset is like pulling apart the subflooring of an old, decrepit house: The more you expose, the more rotten it looks.

As previously noted, the notion that the Bundy Ranch somehow has the “right” to run cattle on public land — without paying anything — just because his family’s been in the business for several generations disrespects every other rancher who does pay the required fees for the use of the range.

So much for any alleged solidarity among his fellow producers that he keeps blabbing about.

And about those grazing fees. While Bundy is bad-mouthing minorities he believes are “living on government subsidies,” he conveniently ignores the fact that taxpayers are providing ranchers a significant subsidy for use of public land that is, in fact, owned by we the people. Compared with typical fees per cow-calf on private rangeland, ranchers using Bureau of Land Management acreage are getting a sweetheart deal — as in, a subsidy.

Bashing the BLM

As for the visceral hatred of BLM the pro-Bundy bunch has been exhibiting, I get it. I spent almost a decade — long before I figured out that operating a keyboard might provide a lengthier career than toting chainsaws and fire hoses around steep, mountainous timberland — working for operators with BLM forestry contracts, and even signing a couple contracts for tree thinning services myself.

After you’ve spent weeks slaving away on some godforsaken logging unit struggling through mud, rocks and slash, it’s immensely frustrating watching some pinhead inspector walk through the unit docking your payment because you overlooked a couple of “whips,” which are those tiny little suckers that spring up around the stumps of mature fir or hemlock trees after an area’s been logged off.

Honestly, you want to punch one of those permanent-pressed, by-the-book bureaucrats in the face, because for no practical purpose whatsoever, he’s taking your hard-earned money right out of your pocket.

So I understand why so many ranchers, farmers and producers don’t have any fondness for BLM officials tasked with enforcing rules created by some anal-retentive functionary in Washington, D.C. There’s a natural enmity between people trying to earn a living when their income depends on a raft of variables (weather, the market, the cost of fuel) over which they have no control, and salaried public-sector professionals who are only concerned with the letter of the law.

But where Cliven Bundy loses any credibility is when he tries to claim that the government has no authority over his ranching operations, when the reality is that the Native tribes who once occupied the rangeland in question would likely still be living there, were it not for “the government.”

And the idea that citizens should take up arms against the “oppression” of federal agencies like BLM is not only ludicrous on its face, but the idiots chanting such slogans might stop to consider that there’s another government “agency” called the National Guard, and they have tanks and artillery and whole lot of weaponry against which the people who showed up at the Bundy Ranch with their assault rifles wouldn’t last more than a couple minutes.

Not to mention that instigating armed rebellion against the United States government has a specific legal definition: It’s called treason, and it’s considered a capital offense that can trigger the death penalty.

But I certainly don’t want Mr. Bundy to be charged with treason or any other crime.

I just want him to shut up, settle his overdue fees and fines with BLM, then go away, and keep any further nonsensical, racist comments to himself.

Listening to the ignorant drivel coming out of his mouth on pretty much every cable news channel for the past several evenings has done a serious disservice to the image of every other rancher who isn’t claiming that the government doesn’t exist and that “the Negro” was better off under slavery.

The sooner this cretin disappears from the news cycle — and from any legitimate discussion of livestock production practices — the better.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.

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Clint Shults    
Meeker, Colorado  |  April, 28, 2014 at 11:38 AM

No question, as much as a celebrity as the fellow has become he may consider a PR consultant to help him with a little discretion or just a touch of self control may have been warranted here. I wonder how much IRS scrutiny and a whole mound of other unforeseen trouble he just opened the gate on for himself and his operation?

OK  |  April, 29, 2014 at 09:09 AM

This article is in poor taste and has nothing to do with the Bundy issues vs the BLM. Mr Bundy has the right to express his viewpoint, if asked to do so and for it not to be taken out of context. Alot of folks that grew up in his generation have a similar opinion. Today, our government has done it's best to surpress our freedom of speech, so anything you say is considered racist! Enough said!

COLORADO  |  April, 29, 2014 at 10:12 AM


Dan Murphy    
E  |  April, 29, 2014 at 11:41 AM

Nobody' suppressing Bundy's freedom of speech. To the contrary, he's getting all the media attention he could ever want. Let's remember that the First Amendment guarantees only that speech will be protected from government interference. It doesn't have anything to do with how people and media respond to what somebody says. And when someone declares that they don't recognize the federal government, they're basically announcing that they have no allegiance to the United States of America. I don't see how that's defined as being a patriot. In case Mr. Bundy doesn't realize it, the frontier is closed. The Wild West doesn't exist any more. We are a nation of laws, and that is what distinguishes us from places in the world (Afghanistan, Somalia) where anarchy rules. He needs to obey the laws, or work through our democratic system to change the laws -- not decide he's above the law and doesn't have to follow the rules like everyone else.

Colorado  |  April, 29, 2014 at 04:53 PM

The Supreme Court ruled agenda 21 unconstitutional. It will never become Law of the Land.

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