The Not-So-Jolly Rancher

Cliven Bundy

Anyone who thinks the Cliven Bundy debacle is over has not been looking at the news too closely. Politico has picked up the story and written a much more in depth look about this “racist welfare cowboy”. His following number more than 1000 and are growing. They have set up “check points” around the perimeter of where they are staying – stopping cars and harassing people who they fear might be with the government. What makes this volatile is that they are gun carrying extremists. The only fortunate thing has been that surrounding states with rural counties that once held up the Bundy banner so they could keep those pesky wild horses in check for themselves – have backed down… for now. This Bundy situation is too crazy for them.

When Vickery Eckhoff did a piece on these millionaire cattlemen welfare frauds, Forbes magazine let her go. A past article on Steve Forbes himself shows him to proudly be a millionaire cattle welfare cowboy. No wonder then, as Ms Eckhoff and Jane Velez-Mitchell were driving together to a summit on wild horses that she should get a call from Forbes saying she was sacked. The bottom line is…the Bundys of this world have potentially powerful friends trying to get this story to simmer down so they can keep bilking taxpayer money.

A more detailed story on exactly how the Bundy debacle imploded can be read below – its a very good timeline that does indeed look like a Coen brothers movie – a very scary dark Coen brothers movie. ~ HfH

From: Politico
By: Jon Ralston

How the Federal Official Botched the Bundy Cattle Round Up

Cliven Bundy

Cliven Bundy

Cliven Bundy sounds like a character in a Coen brothers movie. But even that imaginative pair, who created the surreal worlds of No Country for Old Men and Fargo, could not have conjured a figure as comically tragic as Bundy. The Nevada rancher who is in a standoff with the Bureau of Land Management over cattle-grazing rights has become a figure of mighty symbolic proportions—a hero to “domestic terrorists” and a leader of “patriots,” a brave states’ rights advocate channeling the Founding Fathers and a whining welfare cowboy, an avatar for the common man fighting big government and a crude racist who talks of “the Negro” and “colored” people being better off enslaved.

Bundy has been seen through the immutable prisms of ideology, even after his Tourettish effusions about race, with the fiction factory of the right concocting conspiracy theories and deifying Bundy and the see-no-evil left ignoring the incompetent behavior of a government agency that botched a cattle roundup and then went into a bunker after an aborted operation that reached all the way, I have learned, to the secretary of the Interior.

Add in plenty of Republican politicians spraying lighter fluid on the smoldering embers, with Nevada’s top two GOP officials initially mounting their horses to lead a revived Sagebrush Rebellion. Sen. Dean Heller even went so far as to call Bundy’s militia supporters “patriots,” as if the rancher’s home near Bunkerville, Nevada, were a latter-day Bunker Hill.

And let’s not forget the Man Without a Self-Editing Mechanism, a.k.a. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (oh, who would play him, Joel and Ethan?). Reid’s “domestic terrorists” epithet, which he planned to use to describe Bundy’s supporters and then affixed to the rancher himself, only emboldened a right-wing chorus stoking the flames and hoping to immolate the majority leader, too.

As Bundy has been exposed as a bigoted caricature, an anachronism who could have been played by Rod Steiger in his prime, the real issues surrounding the welfare cowboy are receding. But before they do, and thanks to exclusive information and interviews, it’s worth reviewing how one man’s two-decade flouting of federal law resulted in a tense standoff between government agents and what the local sheriff said was a horde of well-armed supporters ready to die for Bundy.

“I’ve been to a lot of functions,” Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, a law enforcement veteran of more than three decades, told me “I’ve never seen that many guns.”

Well, I’ve covered many political stories. And I’ve never heard so many loony conspiracy theories, or seen so many politicians pander to an obviously flawed lawbreaker despite the danger to civilians that they might be exacerbating and the awful precedent they might be enabling.


Cliven Bundy has been breaking the law for two decades.

He grazes his cattle on federal land near his ranch in a 600,000-acre area known as Gold Butte, claiming to have rights to the land dating back to the 1870s. (This ignores some recent research finding that Bundy’s family didn’t buy the property until after World War II, and that the Moapa Paiute Indians actually were there first.)

His battle with the federal government began after a late-1980s listing of the desert tortoise as endangered, forcing a reduction in his grazing allotment to 150 cattle. Bundy, unlike a couple of other Gold Butte landowners, refused to move his cows, recalled Alan O’Neill, an erstwhile superintendent of the Lake Mead Conservation Area and an expert in such issues.

Bundy’s grazing permit was revoked in 1994 for nonpayment, but for a few years the BLM did nothing, even as he expanded his herd. Then, in 1998, Bundy was served the first of several federal court orders, which he fought and lost at every level. Two years ago, the BLM tried to negotiate a deal with Bundy, hoping to take possession of the cattle, sell them and give him the proceeds. Bundy refused, so the BLM considered a raid to seize the cattle.

Bob Abbey, who was the head of the BLM at the time, told me he had agreed to be present at the Bundy ranch and talked to local and state officials to coordinate.

“At the last moment, the decision was made to not proceed with an impoundment but to pursue legal actions that would likely result in an updated court order directing Bundy to remove his livestock from public lands,” said Abbey, who has been critical of the agency’s efforts this month as heavy-handed and overly aggressive.

But Bundy had other ways out before the situation escalated a couple of weeks ago. He was advised that a water-rights claim might have the best chance to reverse the court order and he met with attorneys, including Mark Hutchison, a prominent constitutional lawyer now running for lieutenant governor.

Bundy, though, apparently wanted to assert state sovereignty claims—the progenitor to his “the federal government doesn’t exist” assertion—and did not get a taker.

“I met with Mr. Bundy almost two years ago and haven’t talked with him since,” Hutchison told me.

The federal government reasserted its rights to the land shortly afterward and won a judgment last July, which made it clear (again) that the land had never been in Nevada’s hands. Bundy appealed and lost in the Ninth Circuit in February.

By the beginning of this month, the BLM was ready to make its move, once again involving state and local authorities. In the run-up to what occurred on April 5, I have confirmed, Gov. Brian Sandoval and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto were kept apprised of the federal agency’s actions. I’ve also confirmed that BLM head Neil Kornze, a former aide to Harry Reid, became personally involved, checking what was happening at the site and remaining in contact with law enforcement on the ground in Bunkerville. Sally Jewell, the interior secretary, also played a role, fully supporting the roundup on that Saturday morning, despite being warned about potential problems.

Jon Ralston has covered Nevada politics for more than a quarter-century. He has worked for both major Las Vegas newspapers and now has his own site, email newsletter and television program.

Continue Reading


AUTHOR: Amber Barnes
  • Barbara Warner

    You can comment on the article. I just did.

    May 1, 2014
  • Janet Schultz

    I feel we have been led down the primrose path. Stay low and keep your antenna working. Watch for new internal policies or contracts dealing with the horses or burros.

    May 1, 2014
  • Callie83

    This is pathetic.

    May 1, 2014
  • maggie

    What makes Bundy any better than other ranchers that have to pay grazing fees? I don’t like the way BLM handles our wild horses but in this case I hope they get this freeloader off government land and leave a place for the wild horses to graze.

    May 1, 2014
  • Margaret

    All this noise is sidetracking us. Look this is serious with Bundy I get that. But while we are all sidetracked–BLM CAN and WILL move on the horses. Foaling season be damned. BLM makes the rules and they break them even faster than they write ’em!

    Bundy is the worst. An ignorant ole cowboy that didn’t learn no manners from his momma.

    But we need to pay attention to BLM and our horses. Utah is planning on a big move this summer. It won’t take much for those moo moo boys to go start rustling. And don’t think they won’t. They have the money to pay the fines that BLM won’t enforce and/or impose.

    BLM is an utter and complete failure. Why they let this cretin go so long is beyond me. This cretin was asked to reduce his herd, his grazing rights weren’t taken from him till later. So what did this cretin do? He INCREASED his herd and became defiant and embroiled in a battle he keeps losing.

    Give him back his moo moo cows and erect a 15 ft impenetrable wall around his ranch. NO ONE IN and NO ONE GOES OUT. No food goes in, no medical care. Nada. Remember we don’t exist to him so we have no treaty. We have no trade agreements. We don’t recognize his money.

    Then when all is said and done–the county can go in, clean whatever’s left and sale the ranch for profit. Give the money to local 501’s.

    May 1, 2014
  • barbara

    Ya, Bundy needs to pay up be sanctioned or be serve time to see how others serve time in prison world for criminal behaviors. I am sure they will not like his racist comments. He has already done enough harm by not paying his share and cattle destroying the ecology

    When it comes to land use and climate change, cows are the real hogs. They use enormous amounts of biomass as well as the large majority of the planet’s agricultural land, yet produce a very small amount of our food:

    May 1, 2014
    • Callie83

      Indeed, it takes a full 10 years to reclaim pasture that has been grazed by Cattle. They are static animals, meaning they eat down to the dirt and when they are done at that spot, they move a step or so forward. It is unfortunate that these animals were allowed on the Range at all, they used to compete with the Bison, but Fish and Wildlife Service allowed a large amount to be slaughtered a few months back.

      Every single Agency in the Department of the Interior is corrupt, including the Parks Service, they ‘cull’ the Nokota horses in Theodore Roosevelt State Park because there are ‘too many.’ It is a load of bull, these horses are like the other horses, rapidly heading to extinction.

      Bundy needs a SWAT Team from Alcohol & Tobacco to go and wake him at 3am and pull his racist self out of bed and place him in a Cell at the nearest high security Federal Prison.

      May 2, 2014
      • maggie

        I agree

        May 2, 2014
  • LuAnn Mattes

    I am still standing with the Bundy`s and anyone on our land here in the united states . I Stand with you to help protect our people from the crooks in Washington . They need to leave our wild life alone all of it . They need to stop stealing farms from everyone that have one . I am mad as hell and I`m not taking anymore of our leaders BS ! . I`m standing & ready to fight back ?. There has got to be some where we can put these horses and other wild life to keep them all safe . Can someone help me get a farm or work with your organization like to move to your land . Or help me get my own ? So I can put some of these horses and burro`s on it ? Can we stand united in taking back America ?

    May 11, 2014
    • maggie

      The horses and burros are already on THEIR land.

      May 11, 2014