Get PJ Media on your Apple

Works and Days

Cliven Bundy and The Rural Way

April 20th, 2014 - 6:26 pm
vdh_grandfather_4-20-14-1

Frank Hanson, my grandfather, riding Paint in Kingsburg, California, in 1959.

I’m sure that Cliven Bundy probably could have cut a deal with the Bureau of Land Management and should have. Of course, it’s never wise to let a federal court order hang over your head. And certainly we cannot have a world of Cliven Bundys if a legal system is to function.

In a practical sense, I also know that if I were to burn brush on a no-burn day, or toss an empty pesticide container in the garbage bin, or shoot a coyote too near the road, I would incur the wrath of the government in a way someone does not who dumps a stripped stolen auto (two weeks ago) in my vineyard, or solvents, oil, and glass (a few months ago), or rips out copper wire from the pump for the third time (last year). Living in a Winnebago with a porta-potty and exposed Romex in violation of zoning statutes for many is not quite breaking the law where I live; having a mailbox five inches too high for some others certainly is.

So Mr. Bundy must realize that in about 1990 we decided to focus on the misdemeanor of the law-abiding citizen and to ignore the felony of the lawbreaker. The former gave law enforcement respect; the latter ignored their authority. The first made or at least did not cost enforcers money; arresting the second began a money-losing odyssey of incarceration, trials, lawyers, appeals, and all the rest.

Mr. Bundy knows that the bullies of the BLM would much rather send a SWAT team after him than after 50 illegal aliens being smuggled by a gun-toting cartel across the southwestern desert. How strange, then, at this late postmodern date, for someone like Bundy on his horse still to be playing the law-breaking maverick Jack Burns (Kirk Douglas) in (the David Miller, Dalton Trumbo, Edward Abbey effort) Lonely Are the Brave.

But the interest in Mr. Bundy’s case is not about legal strategies in revolving fiscal disagreements with the federal government.

Instead, we all have followed Mr. Bundy for three reasons.

One, he called attention to the frightening fact that the federal government owns 83% of the land in Nevada. Note that “federal” and “government” are the key words and yet are abstractions. Rather, a few thousands unelected employees — in the BLM, EPA, Defense Department, and other alphabet soup agencies — can pretty much do what they want on the land they control. And note, this is not quite the case in Silicon Valley or Manhattan or Laguna Beach. The danger can be summed up by a scene I see about once a month on a Fresno freeway: a decrepit truck stopped by the California Highway Patrol for having inadequate tarps on a trailer of green clippings, just as a new city garbage truck speeds by, with wet garbage flying over the median. Who will police the police?

Two, this administration has a long record of not following the law — picking and choosing when and how to enforce immigration statutes, depending on the particular dynamics of the next election; picking and choosing which elements of Obamacare  to enforce, again depending on perceived political advantage; and picking and choosing when to go after coal companies, or when not to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, or when to reverse the order of the Chrysler creditors, or when to allow Lois Lerner to destroy the credibility of the IRS for partisan advantage.

In other words, the Obama administration regularly breaks the law as it sees fit. So we wonder why a federal agency sends out swarms of armed security agents to the empty desert on behalf of a tortoise, when it could just as easily storm Jay Carney’s press conference and demand that the president promise to enforce the Affordable Care Act. Or start apprehending those who are not just violating immigration law, but also serially signing false federal affidavits or providing employers with fraudulent identities.

Finally, Bundy, for all his contradictions, is a throwback to a different age. As the photo atop this article suggests, I had a Bundy-like Swedish grandfather — gassed in the Meuse-Argonne and left with charred lungs — who became a sort of recluse. He broke horses for a living and in his long widowhood survived on his chickens, goats, rabbits, cows, and sheep, in subsistence fashion from 40 acres. He taught me how to dress out a pig, skin goats, and shoot. He also gave me lessons about the world of riding bareback on matched mules. He slept with a bottle of port on his nightstand and a loaded .30-40 Krag leaning against the headboard.

When we acted up, he “locked up” his grandchildren for ten minutes in his six-foot high birdcage with the quail and pheasants. I can remember his Swedish accented “eye yeye yi” each time one of us got bucked off his horse (one was called “Paint,” of course). He raised Fox Terriers for sale with names like “Rex” and “Skipper.” Frank looked like a Cliven Bundy, or a Slim Pickens (whom he knew well as a fellow Kingsburgian cowboy), and sounded exactly like Douglas Spencer (“Swede”) in Shane or John Qualen (“Lars”) in The Searchers.

My other grandfather was a refined Welsh version of the rural way, but no less independent as a small farmer who worked all his land himself until he quit one day at 86 and died that night in the hospital. He was as wiry as my other Swedish grandfather was a hulk. The one was a master horse rider, the other an expert at plowing with horses.  Growing up with them, I never much learned about the secrets of “business” or “how to make it” (sometimes I wish I had). Making it, as I at sixty look back at them now, was probably defined as talking bluntly, gaining a reputation for “straight shooting,” paying all your bills on time, never making excuses for failure, and in general being loyal to friends and of some worry to enemies. To understand Bundy’s fatalism is to appreciate the rural way and its polite contempt for the softer world of the city and the mush that now passes for making it. Losing nobly was preferable to winning badly — Old Ajax to the core.

So we are not threatened by the likes of Cliven Bundy. Instead, the scary lawlessness extends to the bureaucracy itself, given that under Obama the government is becoming tainted and an ideological tool of social transformation.  After just six years, we shrug that, of course, the IRS is biased. The Justice Department is politicized; ask Dinesh D’Souza or the AP reporters. No need to mention the NSA. The EPA makes laws up as ideologically required. No one believes the State Department that in the weeks before the election a video-caused “riot” led to expert jihadists zeroing in with their GPS-guided mortars on a CIA annex in Benghazi. And so on.

Bundy is just different from what is now America — he looks different, talks differently, and dresses differently. These are the superficial veneers to someone who lives mostly through different premises from those of Pajama Boy nation, the world of Jay Carney and his cute Stalinist posters, the cosmos of Anita Dunn and her Mao gushes, or the metrosexual networking that is the gospel of Silicon Valley or the DC beltway.  Few of us rely on human muscle anymore to survive one more day. Fewer of those who do combine that with horse-power, and its world of leather and wood and rope. Bundy is self-employed, without an SEIU union, a PERS pension, or a GS-15 health plan.

Given all that, I suggest Cliven Bundy is far more endangered than is the desert tortoise, and that his kind will be gone shortly in a way the federally protected tarantula and Gila monster or delta smelt will not. He, not they, is in the federal crosshairs. So, yes, I can make some allowances for the nihilism of Cliven Bundy. We could not live in a modern, high-tech world only of Cliven Bundys, but perhaps we cannot live in a world without a few of them now and then to remind us of what we have become.

Almost everything, natural and human, has conspired against these sorts: a hail storm that wrecked the plum crop two days before harvest, or a swaggering psychopathic neighbor who stole the irrigation canal water until stopped, or a no-good who filed a phony workers’ compensation claim for a stubbed toe, or an ancient wobbly grinder that sliced off a finger, or the thieving Packing Company that always sent back slips each year saying “45% cull rate,” whether the fruit was small or big, scarred or smooth, ripe, overripe, or green.

To be a cattleman in the Nevada desert in America of 2014 is to live on Mars, or rather to live among 24/7 enemies, human and animal alike. How a man survives from cattle ranching on leased land in the Nevada badlands I cannot imagine, but I wonder nonetheless and in that amazement wish to see him continue.

My cowboy grandfather, Frank Hanson, died at 80, while Reese Davis, my maternal one, died at 86, in a world where the former never, until his last day, went to the doctor after his year in a Belgium hospital (he was a Lewis machine gunner before the gassing), and the latter went just twice. Theirs was a pre-cholesterol-testing, no-colonoscopy world, in which you just chugged on eating the wrong food, getting up to hard physical work each morning until you “got a cancer” or “the ticker quit” and at your funeral the neighbors said “ya, he worked hard” and went home. I remember the oncologist saying to my father about his dead father, “Are you sure he didn’t smoke? Take a look at those burned lungs on the X-ray.” And my dad curtly answered the specialist, “That’s what mustard gas does.”

The point is Mr. Bundy is no Rahm Emanuel, Al Gore, or Jay Carney. He is no Jay-Z or Sean Penn. He is a world away from the Kardashians and the BMW meets Mercedes crowd of the California coastal corridor or the psychodramas of brats at Dartmouth. Bundy does not have the white privilege that those who have it — mostly liberal, wealthy, and seeking an apartheid existence — damn in others.

Money is not Bundy’s point.  Pleasing Harry Reid or the federal bureaucracy is not either. Making a living from the scrub of a desert by providing people good food probably is.

Grant him that. He’s our past, Harry Reid and the bunch in Washington our future. To paraphrase the ancients, sometimes we’d rather be wrong with Cliven Bundy than right with Harry Reid — and the SWAT teams that will revisit Mr. Bundy and his clan very, very soon to enforce a dispute over grazing fees and insensitivity to a tortoise.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Economist Franz Oppenheimer said that there are only two ways of gaining wealth: 1) the "economic means", buy which he meant value-for-value exchange in a voluntary and lawful setting; 2) the "social means" by which he meant cronyism, subsidy, regulatory capture, special favor, government franchise. I elevate these to the "objective means" and the "subjective means", or the "truthful and honest means" and the "dishonest, guile-enabled means".

Bundy lives the economic means, Harry Reid and anyone else who loves big and ever Bigger government, lives the social means. Bundy creates real things and trades real value. Reid et.al. only create value by guile, which is not really an increase in value for all parties involved. Reid's value added is only enabled by creating money out of thin air, by which he is the Chief Broker, Arranger and Fixer.

Near-infinite money enables near-infinite government, and the bigger the government the more Harry Reids there will be. Yet another reason to seriously consider calling an Article V convention to remove the ability of the federal government to create money out of thin air.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here's a thougt exercise.

Let's say a Native American ( a real one, not one that wears extra blush to raise their cheekbones and redden their skin tone) says they have generational history on land wrongfully seized by the Feds and a Republican Senator who got rich while spending his whole life slopping at the public trough is going to enrich his family and cronies on the land.

How would this play in the media and on the far left?

Nobody roots for the cowboys anymore. Just the Indians.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Amen. VDH wrote “So we are not threatened by the likes of Cliven Bundy. Instead, the scary lawlessness extends to the bureaucracy itself, given that under Obama the government is becoming tainted and an ideological tool of social transformation..."

I think this ideological fervor is the key problem. It is important to be aware that, by and large, when we are talking about the Democrats today, we are talking about a clique of dangerous sociopaths, who directly and indirectly control a vast legion of minions doing their dirty work. Their ability to lie and steal so easily, profusely and remorselessly (you can actually detect their glee in some instances) is your first clue. Their tendency to weave incredibly elaborate webs of nonsensical ideas, concepts, words and visions and to then use these to manipulate people on a huge scale, and also to identify fanatical supporters (potential leaders), naturally submissive individuals, and also opponents, is your second clue.

The complete lack of a moral compass, i.e. the inability to perceive that some things are inherently wrong is another key indicator. For instance their willingness to impoverish, deceive and destroy whole generations of black people – in the name of uplifting black communities, and while attacking conservatives as racist. Or their deliberate efforts to plunge entire regions of the world into chaos, upheaval and war - reveals the kind of demonic cynicism and intent, that are the hallmarks of the deepest kinds of evil.

Once this kind of clique gains power, it is like a bellwether for the rest of society. All of those (and they are considerable in number) who are driven by resentment, anger, fear, self-loathing... or worse, revanchism, perversion, nihilsm, sadism... crawl out of the woodwork, for they know the environment is favorable to them now. Those in power fan the flames of strife and degradation, since an anarchic society suits their outlook. In fact they despise any sign of virtue, kindness, beauty, faith, hope, love...
they even despise humanity itself (it is an extruded form of self-loathing). And so society turns on itself in a kind of paroxysm of evil.

For those who choose to resist, there are no guarantees. And when the tipping point comes, there is no backing down. Once you've headed down the path of opposing evil, you have to go through the fire. You may survive the ordeal or you may not. But then, none of us get out of here alive, so it just depends on how you want to go. On your feet or on your knees.

With Harry Reid calling Cliven Bundy and his supporters “domestic terrorists”, Dems are setting the stage for a potential violent crackdown on the tea-party and any other force that stands against them. Things could get very ugly soon. It is important to be aware of that.

God bless Cliven Bundy.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (134)
All Comments   (134)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
First I want to say that I appreciate this view into the rural way of life, as VDH puts it.

There is some irony here; one of the precedents that led to the crazy way the endangered species act is enforced was the snail darter case, and that was actually an excuse to stop some well-connected types from grabbing land from those less connected.

I am not sure we are moving in that direction. At one time one could choose to work at a corporation, and although every day one's job was on the line, one was still pretty much taken care of for life. Today the hi-tech world is much more mercenary, and pensions are to a great extent a thing of the past. So while the manual labor is not there, self-reliance is becoming more necessary, if anything.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Isn't "rule of law" meant - first and foremost and forevermore - to bind the officers and other armed goons of the government before such rule constrains the actions of the private citizen?

How thoroughly a bloody ignoramus does one have to be in order to take up the "Liberal" mindset?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
The irony is rich. A government that picks and chooses the laws it enforces based on politics, sends enough men and firepower to quell a prison riot against a rancher grazing cattle illegally on public property. That is followed by the Majority Leader in the Senate calling folks agreeing with the the rancher "terrorist." Contrast this situation with the delicate handling of the "Occupy Wall Street" crowd.

The country certainly is undergoing a "fundamental transformation." Every day this administration remains in control it makes the country's survival less likely.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
"[Bundy is] our past, Harry Reid and the bunch in Washington our future."

I have to disagree with you, Dr. Hanson. Bundy IS the future. The Washington bunch will continue with us until they utterly wreck the economy. Then they'll either flee to foreign lands to avoid the torch-and-pitchfork mobs, or they'll jump out their skyscraper windows.

The Bundy types are the ones who will clean up the mess after the crash and put us back on track. I'm throwing my lot in with them.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Count me with the Combat Missionary! You need to look into this cabal of a mislabeled Federal Agency. They have a business of their own, in the name of the Federal Government.

They collect fees, sell our minerals and timber, spending the funds collected as they like. There almost is no control over them, simply because they do not draft resources from the Federal budget. Check them out!
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Excellent insights Dr. VDH. Bundy and the rest of us "red necks" are hated by those who don't have sweaty hat bands and callouses on their hands. Look at the photos and have a vote on just who the terrorists are. It is much easier to take guns and rights from the law abiding than from the criminals. The Bundy ranch fiasco would have had a very different outcome if only Law enforcement had guns. In Harry Reid's dream nobody would own a gun or talk back to power without going to jail. Anybody remember Kent State , Ruby Ridge, and Waco ? These are the ugly images that caused the Feds to back off - at least before the election. Obama and Holder are now releasing thousands of felons from prison possibly to make room for the likes of Mr. Bundy and his supporters. Apparently it is down with cowboys and up with pajama boys. Bundy may owe money to the Feds or Nevada but he will have to pay with his life. That's what Harry meant when he said "it isn't over".
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Its called "Anarchic-Tyranny", a concept pioneered by the late Sam Francis who, to date, is verboten in "respectable" quarters.

However, a tenured Academic like VDH should feel safe enough to acknowledge his debt to Mr. Francis and, perhaps, recommend some of his less "controversial" works.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
The amazing thing about the Bundy situation is that it reveals the ideological journey of the Left.

They know, full well, that if Mr. Bundy was up against a bank, and not a branch of government, they'd switch sides in a minute. They'd join hands to form human around his cattle (especially if they were organically raised) and sing songs to praise him.

So it is not that they are against Bundy. They are, instead, for the government. For the power, for the control, against opposition to it. Because they recognize that they've won. They are the government, they power, the control. They are the man, the establishment. And they love it.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Or if it was the Defense Department and George Bush was in office.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
YOU BECOME LIKE THAT WHICH YOU BEHOLD...OR ARE BEHOLDEN TO...YET AMAZING IN POWER & STRENGTH...OR: HOWLING IN DREAD & PAIN!....THE 9TH CIRCLE IS STILL RESERVED FOR THE TRAITORS TO KIN & COUNTRY(JUDAS, "BRUTUS", "CASSIUS"). THE NEW (PM, AD INFINITUM, POENA DAMNI) 10TH CIRCLE IS RESERVED TO THOSE ABANDONED BY GOD & DESPISED BY SATAN; CONDEMNED IN AETERNA, TO ADMINISTER THE "OSCULUM INFAMOUSUM" TO THEIR ACCURSED MASTER & HIS DAMNED LEGIONS...Dixit
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
The great Dr. Alan Keyes has weighed in on the matter:

http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/keyes/140422
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
When the Brownshirts of the BLM, FDA, DOE, IRS, or any of the other militarized government departments finally open up on a bunch of civilians they can sleep easy knowing they only killed domestic terrorists (Thanks, harry) and where "just following orders."
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
I looked at close up images of the BLM agents. They appear they just got off the plane from Afghanistan. Perhaps, beards are in and the BLM has no regulation on face hair.

In the old Marine Corp, before ROI were hand holding and song singing, one would get the pig award for not having a no shave sheet. Unless, one was going in country at a place like Afghanistan.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
They won't be firing on the terrorists. Haven't you heard?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Kbe8KqjmGo

Real heroes, these militiamen. Reminds me of the last stand at the Alamo -- if the Alamo had been defended by jihadists.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Ah, the kind of nuanced commentary that scholars like Hanson are noted for."

Gee Pee, since you're the "nuance" czar, how about living by your own edicts?

The latest in Modern liberal thinking. Computer generated comments, with algorithms written by Pajama Boy.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 4 5 Next View All