Culture

Take This Sign and Shove It

Take this sign and shove it

I have little to add to John Hinderaker’s analysis of the Bundy ranch standoff, except this: if the Bureau of Land Management, a federal agency, thinks it can establish “First Amendment Areas” while it goes about its business, it and the rest of the federal bureaucracy need to think again. First, the moral case for Bundy (who, as Hinderaker correctly notes, doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on):

Over the last two or three decades, the Bureau has squeezed the ranchers in southern Nevada by limiting the acres on which their cattle can graze, reducing the number of cattle that can be on federal land, and charging grazing fees for the ever-diminishing privilege. The effect of these restrictions has been to drive the ranchers out of business. Formerly, there were dozens of ranches in the area where Bundy operates. Now, his ranch is the only one. When Bundy refused to pay grazing fees beginning in around 1993, he said something to the effect of, they are supposed to be charging me a fee for managing the land and all they are doing is trying to manage me out of business. Why should I pay them for that..?

So let’s have some sympathy for Cliven Bundy and his family. They don’t have a chance on the law, because under the Endangered Species Act and many other federal statutes, the agencies are always in the right. And their way of life is one that, frankly, is on the outs. They don’t develop apps. They don’t ask for food stamps. It probably has never occurred to them to bribe a politician. They don’t subsist by virtue of government subsidies or regulations that hamstring competitors. They aren’t illegal immigrants. They have never even gone to law school. So what possible place is there for the Bundys in the Age of Obama?

Well, this is what you get with gangster government. But, just as in the 1930s, when corrupt big-city machines like Tammany Hall worked hand-in-glove with both politicians and criminals — but I repeat myself — it’s going to take the public to rise up and destroy the rackets. Where is the Tom Dewey of our time, the two-fisted racket buster who sent legions of crooks to the slammer? We’re still waiting.

But a “First Amendment Area“? That’s something every American needs to denounce, as loudly as possible. No federal agency has the right to do this, and in a decent administration, the bureaucrat who thought up the idea and ordered the signs posted would be publicly defenestrated pour encourage les autres. There is, however, no accountability in the Obama administration and its corrupt enablers in Congress, for whom everything is a racket — either a source of personal enrichment or an opportunity to mete out some punishment to the regime’s ideological enemies.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The BLM’s stunt violated every one of the amendment’s proscriptions except the “establishment” and “free exercise” clauses, and Obamacare is working hard on those. For the record, here’s the official spokesdroid’s explanation for the zones:

While anybody can express their free speech any time on open public lands in accordance with the codes and ordinances that exist, there are temporary closures of some of the public lands related to this impound operation and those are in place for public safety. So we identified two areas where the public could safely and conveniently express their opinions without having to go through the codes and ordinance process and apply for permits.

So this is the country we live in at the moment: militarized local cops and weaponized federal agencies, whose bureaucratic whims are enforced at gunpoint. It’s not the country I grew up in, nor one in which any right-thinking American would want to live.

On the other hand, not everything is a plot against the Republic:

Vsia vlast’ Sovetam!

Vsia vlast’ Sovetam!

There’s been a lot of nonsense written on the Right about the Soviet posters in White House press secretary Jay Carney’s kitchen. Here’s some now, first from Reason — “Jay Carney, Communist Propaganda Connoisseur”:

White House press secretary and occasional beard grower Jay Carney likes political art. Particularly, he likes Soviet military propaganda.

This fact was accidentally revealed in, of all places, the latest issue of Washingtonian MOM magazine. The journal did a profile on Carney’s wife, Claire Shipman. There’s a lot of fun facts about Carney’s preferred brand of $275 sneakers (Hugo Boss) and how the family’s Portuguese water dog is related to Obama’s (cousins!)… Can you spot the strangest thing about this totally candid picture? Hint: It’s not that each member of the Carney clan eats a pyramid’s worth of food for breakfast.

Rather, it’s the World War II-era Soviet poster pointing over Shipman’s shoulder, which asks if you’ve enlisted in the Red Army yet (because you’re going to get drafted anyway), and the other one beyond the sink, which asks if you’ve gotten a factory job to fill in for your husband (who has probably been shot on the front lines).

And this, from the American Thinker:

The sad fact is that progressives in much of the developed world have a soft spot in their hearts for communism. Yeah, it murdered a hundred million people or more, but you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. And those who were murdered were not very fashionable, for the most part.

The Washingtonian photo is a tell. There is a sickness, a willful blindness toward the crimes of communism because it is so close to the progressive ideology that animates the American Ruling Class. Shipman and Carney are the perfect exemplars of that class. Smart, fit, busy, anxious to make their own lives perfect, and convinced that the price other people pay for their progressive dreams is not worth mentioning or even noticing.

Oh, please. By this standard, I’m a Commie symp myself, since I also have Soviet-era posters adorning the walls of my home; I picked them up in Moscow and Leningrad during my various working trips to the late Soviet Union. Which is where I met my old Time colleague, Jay Carney, who was working in our Moscow bureau while I big-footed in on various occasions for both Time and Time International. I have a splendid poster from 1985 celebrating the top men in the Politburo, with a birthmark-airbrushed Mikhail Gorbachev leading the pack, as well as a suitably martial Soviet military triptych, just awaiting a frame big enough and more wall space. Not to mention various artifacts from the German Democratic Republic, including the piece de resistance, a chunk of the Berlin Wall that I sledgehammered out myself and brought back to the States as a souvenir of the triumph of the West. Know thy enemy, I always say:

Bulgakov's Devil, come to life

Bulgakov’s Devil, come to life

Sometimes a poster is only a poster. Sometimes it’s a warning shot. And sometimes it’s a real pleasure.

*****

Cross-posted from Unexamined Premises