The nations’ left-wing conglomerate is still sputtering at the lips, horrified that a band of seedy yahoos could shoulder a few rifles and exert sufficient power vis-a-vis the Obaman governmental juggernaut to discomfit the heavily-armed Bureau of Land Management and its assorted allies in a state that is more than 80% government owned. It hardly seems conceivable to the Liberal News Establishment, let alone legal, that a passel of gun-toting throwbacks from fly-over country could team up with the Bundy ranch owlhoots and face down the fully arrayed forces of the Worldwide Totalitarian Socialist Conspiracy …. Surely they argue, such impudence cannot be permitted to stand! By contrast, the blogospheric Right is in euphoric transports as the evil federal land (and cattle) grabbers put up their rifles and ride away dejectedly, departing the scene short of provoking the next Waco. But funniest of all, and reliably funny in that inside-the-beltway, weltschmerz-smitten tone so endemic to its pages, the Washington Post has now officially lamented that such an unnewsworthy triviality as the Bundy imbroglio was accorded so much traction to begin with. Clearly, there were Georgetown soirees and Senatorial junkets to Belize more worthy of the ink, to say nothing of the newly denominated problem of global climate disruption, formerly known as climate change, formerly known as global warming. The Post was clearly of the view that the Bundy ranch embroilment should have been “spiked”–forgetting as the old media tend to forget, that spiking is no longer the guarantor of a “non-event” that it was when Cronkite’s name was still a hallowed memory and people actually took Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw seriously. But there was really no sense crying over spilt ink, with the story a headline grabber on every news broadcast in America. And anyway, what the Post really meant (although it didn’t exactly say so), was something more to the tune of, ‘stories like this are supposed to end with monumental displays of strength, so the government’s objectives are realized, leaving we in media to cover up the abuses and the lies–that’s our job!’ The point is also to impress any gun-wielding hayseeds or sunshine patriots with the irresistible powers of Leviathan, but this one didn’t work out that way–at least not so far. Why didn’t it? WOOF has theories (of course!) but first, a look at how things go when the government does its part more efficiently…which is to say more ruthlessly.
Janet Reno knew how to get this sort of thing done!
It is tempting to forget,if you knew about it to begin with, that before there was the throbbing embarrassment of Eric Holder making a travesty of the DOJ, there was Janet Reno. Now, comparing Eric holder to Janet Reno would be like comparing Snidely Whiplash to Ilse Klebb…like comparing a cartoon figure, in other words, to one of Ian Fleming’s most chilling Bond villainesses. Reno was a stone-cold pro. She not only settled a standoff at Waco Texas by storming the place (c0mplete with a tank) and precipitating the incineration of numerous women and children–she stood front and center during the heart-wrenching Elian Gonzales case in 2000. Remember that one? It bears repeating! After all, it never quite got sorted out whether Reno’s forces actually lit the fatal fires at Waco where the zany religionists of the Branch Davidian church were holed up (and could easily have been waited out rather than massively assaulted); but her role in the stomach-churning return of little Elian Gonzales to the loving arms of Fidel Castro will live in the Black Book of Communism’s later editions. Horrible as it was, there was no fire in the Gonzales incident, hence no flambeed civilians, but because the seizure itself was particularly indefensible by any standard of decency, TV news doesn’t rerun the details very often. Not to worry, WOOF has them solidly in mind!
Elian versus Clinton, Reno, and Castro.
In November of 1999 Elian was packed aboard an aluminum skiff with his mother and 12 other Cubans who had wearied of Fidel Castro’s socialist paradise, and the intrepid band made way for Miami. Somewhere in the Straits of Florida , alas, 13-foot waves swamped the boat, it’s engine failed, and the majority of those aboard drowned, including Elian’s mother, but not before she placed Elian in an inner tube so that he could remain afloat. The boy was plucked from the water the next day by fishermen, who turned him over to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service which in turn placed little Elian in the custody of his paternal great-uncle, Lázaro. The arrival was expected because Gonzales’s father, Juan Miguel Gonzales Quintana had phoned ahead, and cautioned the relatives to remain alert for his son’s and wife’s arrival. Five-year-old Elian was released from the hospital in Miami into the custody of his uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, and other doting relatives in Miami. Despite the anguish of losing his mother to the angry sea, Elian began, by all appearances, a happy, middle class existence with his loving relatives. And there it might well have ended, especially since Janet Reno’s department of justice initially recused itself from the event, leaving the Miami courts clear jurisdiction–and the Miami courts were amenable to retaining Elian in country with his American family, as his dying mother had wished. Suddenly, however, the Cubans demanded Elian’s return. To make matters plainer, Fidel Castro himself demanded Elian’s return, and the effect on the Clinton White House was electrifying.
So long, Miami–howdy Fidel!
To fully grasp the impact of Castro’s insertion into the affair, one must recognize that both Bill and Hillary Clinton were (and remain) ardent devotees of the collegial “New Left” whose institutional awe of Fidel Castro outstrips even its endemic reverence for Mao Tse-Tung or such epochal luminaries as Angela Davis or, well, Bill Ayers! To have Castro enunciate his desire in the Gonzales affair had the same effect on Bill and Hillary that the average hippy would have experienced had Bob Dylan rung him up and asked for a solid. The man had spoken. But just as the current president prefers to affect a kind of dazed disengagement from the the villainies of his cabinet heads and “Czars,” so in those days the Clintons preferred that appointees, rather than the president, appear to enact policies that to American news viewers, unaware of the liberal Democrat fixation on the Marxist pantheon, might seem senseless, or even deplorable. First, after Castro’s wishes became known, INS Commissioner Doris Meissner, (a standard globalist pinko with the Carnegie Endowment in her future) ruled that Elian’s father, back in Cuba, had legal custody. This was not agreeable to the Miami courts, however, where a circuit court judge granted emergency custody to Elian’s uncle Lazaro in Miami. This refreshingly salubrious performance by Florida’s courts lit a veritable fire under Janet Reno, who suddenly un-recused herself and demanded that the court ruling be swept aside so that Elian could be repatriated to Cuba.
Thus, the U.S. Government (that’s yours and ours, gentle readers), demanded that the courts dismiss the judgment granting emergency custody to Elian’s uncle, following which his return to Cuba was demanded. Fidel Castro sent Elian’s stay-behind daddy over with his new wife and their infant child to hit the American airwaves demanding Elian’s return. Papa Juan was tightly handled by Cuban agents while on our shores, and while it would require a more sanguine view of Castroite tactics than WOOF is able to muster to suppose for a moment that the cute little baby accompanying Juan and his new wife was actually theirs (that actual baby being held in a safehouse in Havana pending the couple’s completion of their American assignment, we dast hypothesize) the American media fell for it like a ton of blockheads and the Cuban community in Miami wound up guarding Elian in the modest home of his American relatives with the fierce tenacity of those who knew exactly what awaited him 90 miles off our coast. Janet Reno was not interested in such cold war fanaticism, however–she “officially” met with Juan Miguel Gonzales and declared that Elian would be sent “home” to his father’s custody. Things were looking desperate–but at the last moment rescue came from the 11th U.S. District Court of Appeals. The court officially blocked Elian’s return to Cuba, reaffirming that custody rested with the boy’s American relatives. Three days later, on April 22, 2000, while the Cuban community was still celebrating the reprieve, Janet Reno, the hero of Waco, ordered an armed pre-dawn raid of Elian’s Miami residence where machine-pistol waving agents found a terrified Elian hiding with a relative in a bedroom closet, removed him at gunpoint, and made darn well sure he went home to Fidel Castro. (The legalities were all reformulated subsequent to the seizure–no biggie). We go into some detail about this to make the point that government tyranny didn’t begin with President Obama, and seemed equally devoid of rhyme or reason back in 2000; “seemed” being in each instance the operative term.
But our main purpose in reviewing these incidents, (and one might, of course, mention Ruby Ridge and other similar federal fiascos here, as well…) is to demonstrate the changing nature of government running amok, even as the similarities remain obvious. In the past, egregious excesses of authority were undertaken to satisfy short-term tactical ends. Waco was simple mismanagement of an attempt to end an embarrassing situation– and the ATF and Janet Reno wound up, in their arrogance and ineptitude, looking like, at the very least, acessories to manslaughter–not that it mattered. President Clinton assured Americans that he had no part in the decision to assault the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, but he never even bit his lower lip over the outcome–a few less gun-storing, Bible thumping nut jobs to worry about. But there was no grand design being effectuated at Waco, just a bunch of pee-ohed governmental authorities getting ticked off at David Koresh and committing mass violence that more or less accidentally resulted in the deaths of 77 men, women, and children. It showed potential cult leaders what happens to people who mess with the Feds– and because Koresh was a bonafide nutjob and his followers deserving of the epitaph “cultists,” the American public seemed content to remain ambivalent about the massacre–which occurred on April 19th, by the way–almost seven years exactly before the Gonzales seizure. Maybe April is the cruelest month…we were never sure what T.S. Eliot meant by that. Janet Reno is rumored (by Dick Morris, for example) to have won reappointment to Justice after threatening to reveal Clinton’s role in the assault if he dropped her. WOOF cannot confirm this story, but prefers to believe it. No matter how these criminally wanton aggressions were planned and green-lighted within the Clinton administration, they were isolated instances of arrogant people in positions of authority meting out ham-fisted violence to powerless people who ran afoul of their sociopolitical fetishes. Elian Gonzales was repatriated to satisfy Castro’s ego and image, and Waco burned because the drawn out standoff was making the administration look impotent. In neither instance was a rehearsal for some larger strategic objective a factor. But that was then.
There was something very different in the air this April, however. If one were astrologically inclined –and we are not, especially in the wake of Dr. Gootensteiner Johannes Walters’s now woefully apparent misjudgement of Barack Obama’s presidential longevity [see intensely embarrassing story here]– one might assume that some planetary alignment aroused the universal impulse toward intimidation in a risk-riven season. Russian troops are poised to seize the Ukraine despite our president’s many brave twitters, Russian jets buzz our warships at sea, Russian spy planes encroach British airspace, Iran smirks at our pretenses of diplomacy and prepares to extirpate Israel, North Korea tosses artillery at South Korea lobs occasional ordinance toward Japan, and probably detonated an underwater nuke (witness the total absence of press coverage), and our beloved leader, weary of drawing lines in the sand that everybody ignores with impunity, advances a more domestic but equally ominous salient– one that allows him to exert naked force against the only adversaries his worldview authentically recognizes, namely Americans. You know Americans– a bunch of desperate clingers to guns and religion, reluctant to embrace socialism, stubbornly espousing individuality and freedom, callously refusing to join the wiser nations of the globe in renouncing liberty in the name of internationalism, security and uniformity…a bunch of pains in the presidential tokus. There is, in all the pushing and provocation from Washington the sense that a new level of internecine dysphoria is being encouraged– as though some dark, luciferian equivalent of the bridge at Concord is being goose-stepped towards by a the shock troops of our new anti-American oligarchy– but if the shock troops we risk confronting in the nonce are by no means as professional as their 18th century British predecessors, they are more cunctative–more inclined to probe and test than to march bravely forward. It is the gravamen of this week’s screed that we have just experienced such a test, and as usual this will take some examination of past events to fully explain. If you bear with us, dear readers, we promise to be accurate, politically dextral, and hilarious, to compensate your time! If you are willing to venture further, be warned, the first topic of significance is a bunch of turtles– are we still good?
How Desert Tortoises stopped worrying and learned to love the Bomb
To get the range war with the now nationally-famous Bundy family in firm perspective, it is of course vital to begin with the mind-numbingly ridiculous, because how else to introduce the role of the federal government in the lives of the peaceful, seventh generation ranchers? So return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, by which we mean 1989. Imagine the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sitting around with plenty of time on its hands,, flipping through the latest Sierra Club magazine, and concluding, based on the thinnest of evidence, that the venerable Desert Tortoise was verging on extinction in its native habitat, the Nevada desert, and that something really ought to be done to protect it. What was done to protect it, of course, is what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service typically does to protect animals about which it reaches such conclusions, which is merely to say, they declared the Desert Tortoise an “endangered species.” When nobody paid much attention to this, because, well, because it was fairly idiotic, they re-listed the tortoises as “threatened,” and the Washington Post (always reliable in such moments) went to press on the turtles’ behalves, demanding the Bureau of Land Management seize and preserve thousands of acres of tortoise country for “strict federal management purposes” (how the Posties love the sound of that kind of talk!) and further demanded the “elimination of livestock grazing and strict limits on off-road vehicle use: in the vast, protected habitat.”
Up until this time, the tortoises had been fairly laid back denizens of the the American Southwest. Bear in mind that with their home in the Nevadan desert, they had already survived more atomic bomb attacks (well, tests, technically, but an A-bomb’s an A-bomb) than are currently hypothesized as necessary to depopulate Europe. The tortoises have no trouble in heat up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas their human protectors tend to begin dropping dead around 115 degrees. The turtles spend 98% of their time underground and can survive a year without access to water. They live in burrows of about 20 tortoises each, thrive on calcium they derive from the Nevadan soil, and have no trouble whatsoever procreating or hatching eggs. Although once in a while one gets run over by a vehicle, there are no confirmed reports of any Desert Tortoises succumbing to cow stomping or horse hoofing…and until 1993 when the major conservation efforts took effect and they suddenly found themselves land barons with sole claim to 500,000 acres of what had previously been other people’s land, the tortoises were a distinctly nonchalant, unassuming bunch. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the Bureau of Land Management or the histrionically disordered reportorial staff of the Washington Post. At approximately this juncture, the federal government crossed paths with Cliven Bundy, whose family first homesteaded the land in 1877.
When his family’s acreage was rather perfunctorily designated a tortoise preserve by the government, Bundy refused to accept the government’s gracious offer to hand him some cash for his grazing lands, and added insult to injury by refusing to pay the fines imposed upon him for continuing to use his ranch for ranching even after the Bureau of Land Management clearly explained that it was now a turtle habitat. It is a well established fact, acknowledged by all parties to the dispute, that since 1993 the Bureau of Land Management has repeatedly levied fines against Cliven Bundy for grazing his cattle on his own ranch in wanton disregard of the BLM’s insistence that his ranch is a tortoise preserve. Also undisputed is that Cliven has not paid a dime, since he persists in deeming the BLM’s machinations a land grab, and considers the acreage his birthright. Predictably, the Bureau of Land Management wearied of Bundy’s obduracy and revoked his ranching permit– and just as predictably, Bundy ignored the revocation and continued ranching. So did a number of other area ranchers including Norm Tom, a Paiute Indian whose tribal identity isn’t buying him any leniency from the Feds. Asked by reporters if he intended to resist with weapons, Tom replied in the affirmative and offered to show the horrified journalists his cache. He produced two copies of the United States Constitution.
Bundy fought several court injunctions demanding that he remove his cattle from his ranch lands now that they were federal tortoise preserves. The 9th circuit court in San Francisco has repeatedly dismissed efforts by Bundy and other ranchers like Cliff Gardner to appeal on the basis of states rights, which can hardly shock the informed observer given the reputation of the 9th Circuit Court. And all this long-standing rancor seemed to come to a sudden head over the past month, as even those of us who live in a cave know by now. The BLM insisted that they were merely attempting to enforce a court order to seize 1000 head of cattle owned by Bundy as a downpayment on what they claimed was a one-million dollar grazing debt run up by the rancher since 1993. In doing so, the normally bucolic Bureau of Land Management turned suddenly paramilitary, encircling the Bundy ranch with armed agents and sharpshooters, closing off access roads to and from the property with roadblocks manned by shotgun-brandishing agents, and filling the skies with armadas of black helicopters (John A. Keel please call your office). The helicopters were presumably needed to keep tabs on all those turtle-squishing bovi, although multiple witnesses insist that helicopters were occasionally seen shooting cattle–a report confirmed by Cliven Bundy’s son who insists that some of his cattle were found with as many as five bullet holes in their corpses. Perhaps the order to seize the cattle read “dead or alive,” but for its part, the BLM insisted that the cattle were “euthanized,” in some instances because they “posed a significant threat to employees.” Exactly how one tippy-toes up to “euthanize” a cow that has been declared a threat so dangerous as to require euthanization was not discussed– maybe shooting the cow five times constitutes euthanasia…we’re not technically certain.
At any rate, snipers who reportedly trained their rifles on tourists taking photos, BLM “workers” infiltrating his traditional property boundaries and making off with his cattle, plus a single day in which BLM agents managed to physically assault a cancer victim, set a dog on a pregnant woman whom they later asserted had attacked the dog, and use a taser on Ammon Bundy when he protested a further encroachment on the family property, inspired Cliven Bundy to call upon Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie to arrest the Bureau of Land Management operatives for trespassing and rustling. Gillespie, understandably, was not keen on trying to stuff the BLM personnel into the back of his cruiser, especially considering the encompassing array of camouflage-clad snipers visible in aerial photos of the Bundy ranch, while the federal government seemed less inclined to circumspection, next arresting Dave Bundy for taking video footage of BLM agents rounding up his family’s cattle.
Tensions intensified further as various area and outstate militia cadres swarmed to the defense of the Bundys and showed every indication of offering armed resistance should the government forces continue their aggressions. “Our mission here is to protect the protestors and the American citizens from the violence that the federal government is dishing out,” explained Jim Landy, a member of the West Mountain Rangers, who traveled from their home base in Montana to make common cause (excuse the expression) with the besieged Nevada ranchers. Landry was not the only militia stalwart to offer his views to the press, but perhaps he should have been. Richard Mack, an Arizona militiaman who came to the aid of the Bundys was pleased to announce, “We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front. If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.” But the opposition was not to be outdone in a contest of sheer asininity. Clark county Commissioner Tom Collins was pleased to inform Darin Bushman, his counterpart in Piute County, Utah, that any Utahns thinking of entering Nevada with the idea of supporting the Bundys “had better have funeral plans,” to which Collins thoughtfully appended his view that people from Utah were “inbred bastards.” Adding an extra dash of stupid, the feds decided to set up “free speech zones” three miles from the location of the standoff where, by special permission, one assumed, protesters would be permitted to assemble and state their views. Judge Andrew P. Napolitano neatly summarized this nonsense, pointing out that the constitution “will not condone free speech zones for the sake of government convenience. The entire United States of America is a free speech zone.” Duh!
As a made-to-order flashpoint serving the interest of an administration desperate to bolster the presidency as a power source and marginalize congress as a gaggle of yeigh-saying sycophants, the Bundy crisis must have seemed initially ideal. If the militia and the ranchers saw it as a kind of second Concord where the second American Revolution could begin afresh, the president’s radical mentors and advisors must have glimpsed a second Reichstag– the perfect flashpoint for a final push to authoritarian governance backed by a military stripped in advance of generals and admirals who might have opposed involvement in such a manoeuvre [as detailed previously]. While the hearts of the heartland might be mightily sympathetic to the Bundys and their militia allies, the air support and armor available to the government would have settled the issue ultimately, even as the armed resistance to the BLM would have provided the rationale for bringing such force to bear. The temptation to “pull the trigger” and roll into the Bundy ranch, ostensibly to collect an alleged million dollars in unpaid fines, must have been powerful indeed. Certainly the event served the administration well as a test case, enabling it to take careful note of how much force assembled to oppose it, what tactics those forces proposed to employ, and what level of support or condemnation the American people evinced for the resistors. All this, rest assured, has been duly noted by the appropriate czars and cabinet apparatchiks. But why did the government suddenly curb its enthusiasm and fade into the night? Was it simply the Obaman hesitancy to finalize a threat whenever blood and steel may be involved? Probably not. It is certainly not the case that the BLM suddenly perceived a threat to public safety–that threat was patent from the beginning of the showdown.
Maybe Harry just loves turtles?
The plot thickened considerably when Harry Reid, Red China, and the ever-rambunctious Alex Jones entered the picture more or less simultaneously. Jones’s revelations are typically too extreme to catch fire nationally (which is hardly to say they can’t be accurate) but his breaking claim that Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) was behind the ranch grabs–and his conjoined accusation that Reid was conniving to turn the lands over to Chinese solar energy firms as part of a secret deal with Beijing was cited in The Drudge Report and subsequently enjoyed 44,0000 Facebook shares and nearly as many Twitter mentions. While some analysts dismissed the notion as, well, notional, other sources began to run with it, including (mirabile dictu) Reuters. Close on the heels of Jones’s runaway revelations came the additional insight that (coincidentally enough) the new head of the Bureau of Land Management, Niel Kornze, prior to his approval by the Senate (which immediately preceded the crack down on the Bundy ranch), was Harry Reid’s top aide. In fact, Kornze had worked for Reid for the past eight years, and nobody could cite a legitimate reason for his appointment at the BLM except, of course, that the Senate Majority Leader (aka Harry Reid) seemed to want him there.
WOOF knows that Reid’s son Rory was orchestrating a huge land deal with the Chinese-owned ENN Energy Group to build a $5 billion solar farm in Nevada, but the proposed site was 180 miles from Bunkerville, where the Bundys operate their 150-acre ranch. It is widely alleged that the deal collapsed months ago. Rumors to the contrary and rumors that adjacent lands including some of the Bundy acreage were to be utilized by the Chinese for additional purposes of “mitigation” are unconfirmed. One thing seems certain, and that is Harry Reid’s dark assertion that this isn’t over yet. How and why it isn’t over are the remaining questions.
Concord postponed, Sumpter interrupted…
Regardless of what our critics persist in believing, WOOF is not opposed to reasonable solutions to the Nevadan land dispute—we are only sensible of the fact that “reasonable” usually gets usurped by the media and the inside-the-beltway oligarchy to mean liberal. The other problem with reasonableness is that when it isn’t a euphemism for liberal, it runs immediately afoul of liberalism. Take the perfectly sensible suggestion from Gracy Olmstead, associate editor at The American Conservative, that because the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association contends that there is no scientific proof that cattle have ever harmed a Desert Tortoise, people on Bundy’s side of the issue should begin “researching this, amassing evidence, putting together a solid case.” “If they can prove this,” writes Olmstead, “they could get greater access to the land.” Now Gracy Olmstead seems like a smart enough lady, but is she joking, or pathologically naïve? Anybody who thinks the progressive movement is amenable to scientific data contradictory to its politically correct codes of belief must have slept through the global warming circus and failed to note that death by overpopulation and the exhaustion of earth’s oil supply are conspicuous by their absence…does anybody truly believe the government will give up its fixation on the tortoise stomping cow? But the real agenda for the Left is not environmental–ever. The real agenda is control. And the Bundys were the perfect dry run for a a confrontation planned to lead, ineluctably, to martial law and a permanentized president.
It may not have proceeded for several reasons. First, the sympathies in the region–and nationally–seemed disproportionately on the side of the Bundys…this dissipated a bit only after Cliven took it upon himself to make some spectacularly obtuse remarks comparing slavery to the current Black acquiescence in liberal politics and remarked that slaves may have been happier than Blacks living in torn families and government high rises courtesy of the Democratic Left.. an idiotism that, if devoid of any actual malevolence toward Blacks, seemed redolent enough of Jim Crow to pass easily for bigotry. Amplified by the shrieking news media, Bundy’s comments served to brand him a redneck racist, but belatedly so, the government having backed off its war footing just prior to Cliven’s regrettable remarks.
Another possibility is that the asymmetry of the government’s response to the presumed threat, i.e., a rancher not paying his grazing fees, seemed absurd on the face of it, regardless of what may have been Bundy’s genuine legal obligations. After all, a good Reichstag-style flim flam demands high drama of a sort that will inflame the imaginations of the citizenry, not merely excuse heavy handed reprisals, and attacking the Bundy homestead was never an attractive casus belli from the federal standpoint. Their ideal scenario would be a bunch of fat-cat businessmen taking innocent minority women and children hostage and barricading themselves inside a Republican headquarters somewhere in Mississippi– but that sort of dream situation would be tough to orchestrate. One point is clear: whether the powers that be saw the Bundy escalation as a good way to kick off internecine violence intended to conduce toward a police state, or whether they were testing the scenario to gauge the number and quality of the opposition as well as the media reaction, their intentions underwent a sea-change at the first mention of Harry Reid and Communist China, and suddenly, in place of all the rampant bellicosity, one heard the most conciliatory tones. Reid’s own hit man in place at the head of the BLM, the stunningly unqualified Neil Kornze, abandoned his appetence for brinksmanship and found himself announcing that, “Due to escalating tensions, the cattle have been released from the enclosures in order to avoid violence and help restore order.” (Actually, a good deal of them had just been released because militia members and Bundy supporters on horseback had ignored warnings they’d be fired upon, advanced on the cattle pens, and released the impounded stock.) Nevertheless, it was wonderful to perceive how swiftly the BLM turned its thoughts to the safety of the citizenry once Harry Reid’s connection was broached by Alex Jones and Reuters–surely the oddest couple of the year to date!
And so, as the angel of peace descends amid the snarls of contention….
With the sudden volte face of the Bureau of Land Management followed almost immediately by the racially embarrassing ruminations of the senior Bundy, followed by Harry Reid’s insistence that the affair was far from settled, followed by revelations that the Reid family was manipulating the BLM toward whatever ill-starred ends, came a cascade of judgments regarding the events and non-events of the great Bundy standoff. Predictably, the Left was united. The Bundys were racist law-breaking renegades and the law should have been enforced– and by the way they were racist, law-breaking renegades and oh, by the way, they were Mormon, and yes, of course, this all proved the Tea Party was psycho. And just as predictably, the Right was scattered all over the philosophical landscape. The above-mentioned Alex Jones considered the cessation of bellicosity a tremendous victory, as did many Tea Party and militia groups. The reasons are obvious. Sean Hannity made a more cautious point of remarking the lack of proportionality in the government response, telling his audience, “I stand for proportionality. What I do not stand for are 200 armed federal agents and snipers pointing their guns at the Bundy family and their supporters. I do not support members of the BLM pushing, shoving women, and cattle being euthanized and killed, and mass graves for cattle for no reason.” On the other hand, the beautiful and talented Ann Coulter viewed Bundy’s support as a dextral version of Occupy Wall Street, telling CNN’s Bill Weir that “Republicans and conservatives ought to learn, be careful before you choose a mascot.” And it would be lovely indeed to suppose the American Right to be educable in this regard–educable as a kind of sociopolitical entity suddenly alert to Coulter’s suggestion that better methods and better leadership can better focus and display the righteous anger of the nation’s free citizenry. But let’s not be naive, gentle readers.
Battles that begin wars never–okay, almost never– ramify from well chosen, carefully considered sociopolitical decisions. From those ancient days in which it is said the reign of King Arthur ended on Glastonbury plane because some guy drew a sword to smite a snake and set off a massive overreaction, all the way through to the Gulf of Tonkin, Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, and the bizarre belief that American arms were needed to topple Qaddafi (this week’s spelling) in Libya, wars have been triggered by relatively picayune gestures. Consider the “shot heard round the world” for instance. Everybody heard it, but to this day nobody knows who fired it. It might have been the town drunk. It was the result that took on grand proportion, and conduced toward the grandest of geopolitical manifestations: The United States of America.
So bickering about how qualified Cliven Bundy may or may not be to serve as the proximal cause of civil war, or merely as a catalyst of Conservative wrath, is to miss the more robust point; namely, how easily an internecine cataclysm may be ignited when it suits the purposes of the nation’s real troublemakers, most of whom hold cabinet rank or better, and all of who prefer socialism to the product of our first revolution. Sun Tzu, the legendary military strategist of the late 6th century, B.C., warned in The Art of War against allowing one’s enemy to choose the place of battle. In the Bundy contretemps, both sides appeared welded by fate to the tortoise habitat at issue– but in fact the BLM and their higher-ups in DC had the option of giving or declining battle. Obviously, they decided to decline. Sun Tzu also said that “the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting,” and no matter how many ways one may fault the Bundys, they obtained that result– for now–and for this, at least, they deserve our unanimous praise.