Cliven Bundy and The Rural Way
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.