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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Looks like that epic cowboy movie Cliven Bundy and his boys dreamed of playing starring roles in will never get made. Thankfully, their own epic stupidity ended the fantasy less in tragedy than in farce—definitely more “Blazing Saddles” than “The Wild Bunch.”

Or was it “Cliven Bundy and the Sundance Kid” they were going for? No matter. That one ended badly for the romantic outlaws too.

Apart from the needless death of one True Believer in a cowboy hat who committed what city folks call “suicide by cop”—announcing his determination never to be taken alive and then reaching for his pistol—the rest of Bundy’s sagebrush revolutionaries eventually surrendered without incident. Most are headed to Federal prison.

The ignominious end of their occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in remote eastern Oregon should serve as an object lesson to crackpot insurrectionists across the West. No, the public won’t come rushing to your support. Local ranchers wanted nothing to do with the uprising. A bird sanctuary was badly chosen place to make a stand. Put it this way: millions of Americans enjoy hiking, hunting, and bird-watching.

Cow-watching, not so much.

Nor have you intimidated the U.S. government. “Who are those guys?” Butch and Sundance wanted to know. But any two-bit drug dealer in Baltimore or New York could have told them that you can’t go around pointing guns at Federal agents and start traveling the countryside holding press conferences.

How foolish would you have to be to imagine you could? The Bundy sons vowed a bloody standoff at the Malheur refuge, and then announced a public meeting in the next county 100 miles away. Only one highway links the two places. FBI agents and Oregon state cops set up a roadblock at a remote spot and bagged the lot.

Family patriarch Cliven Bundy next announced his intention to show up in Oregon to support the remaining occupiers. But you can’t take no shooting iron on a commercial airline flight. Secure in the knowledge that he and his posse would be unarmed, agents met him at the gate. They’d been waiting almost two years for the old fool to set himself a trap.

The rebel rancher may never again be seen outside a courtroom. According to a press release distributed by the U.S. Attorney in Las Vegas: “Cliven Bundy and four others were indicted by the federal grand jury today on 16 felony charges related to the armed assault against federal law enforcement officers that occurred in the Bunkerville, Nev. area on April 12, 2014.” A U.S. District Judge in Oregon denied his bail request on the grounds that the 69 year-old rancher is clearly a flight risk.

The FBI grinds slow, but fine. Among the offenses Bundy’s charged with are “Assault on a Federal Law Enforcement Officer,” and “Threatening a Federal Law Enforcement Officer.” The first carries a 20 year sentence and $250,000 penalty; the second 10 years and $250,000.

The indictment stipulates that he and his sons Ryan and Ammon, “planned, organized, and led the assault in order to extort [government] officers into abandoning approximately 400 head of cattle that were in their lawful care and custody. In addition to conspiring among themselves to plan and execute these crimes, the defendants recruited, organized, and led hundreds of other followers in using armed force against law enforcement officers in order to thwart the seizure and removal of Cliven Bundy’s cattle from federal public lands. Bundy had trespassed on the public lands for over 20 years, refusing to obtain the legally-required permits or pay the required fees to keep and graze his cattle on the land.”

We all saw the whole thing on national TV. Back in Nevada, Federal officials who found themselves outnumbered four to one made a tactical decision not to risk a bloodbath over a herd of scrawny cows. At the expense of being criticized by people spoiling for a showdown, authorities apparently saw limited harm in letting Bundy declare victory while holing up at his remote desert ranch with his posse. Capturing him wasn’t worth a single agent’s life.

Which is why it’s so important that their patience paid off. Also crucial was the Oregon community’s near-unanimous rejection of the Bundy cause.

Cattle ranchers can certainly grow frustrated with government bureaucracy, but they also tend to be extremely practical people. The Bundy acolytes struck them as crackpots; their theories of constitutional law as zany as their tactics.

University of Oregon geography professor Peter Walker spent weeks documenting the local response. “At one community meeting,” he wrote “when almost the entire leadership of the Bundy group arrived unexpectedly, citizens of Harney County stood on their feet, pointed fingers at the Bundys and chanted “Go home! Go home! Go home!”

Real cowboys, see, can’t just go gallivanting off and leave their herds.

Particularly not in winter.

Photo: Inmates Ammon Bundy (L) and his brother Ryan Bundy are seen in a combination of police jail booking photos released by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in Portland, Oregon January 27, 2016.  REUTERS/MCSO/Handout via Reuters

37 Responses to The Bundys Are Bumbling Villains In This Western

  1. If the Feds had wait a month longer, the Boys From The Bund(y) would have shot one another, or themselves, by accident.

  2. Ever since the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s, there have always been groups of individuals who believe their personal beliefs triumph over the law. That was the first example of federal jurisdiction being recognized in a state. The Bundy fiasco is just the latest.

  3. The depictions in “Wild Bunch” and “Blazing Saddles” made far more sense than the maniacal mind-set of the “Bundy Gang”.
    To say that they are “bumbling villains” is much too kind. The infestation of a rabid, anti-social ideology as expressed in their vapid “anti-government/conspiracists” bile makes them far more dangerous than it would appear on the surface.

    • On further reflection, the empty-headedness and “incapacious” mental state of these hapless souls shows the havoc which “conservatism” is able to wreak on a person’s brain—just look at the corrosive effect on the mental state of a certain former neurosurgeon, as another frightening reminder.

  4. I agree with much, but the “scrawny cattle” have cost irreparable harm to cultural sites, endangered species, and vulnerable areas in the last few years. The BLM and Forestry Service have had to abandon any caretaking of the Gold Butte area because of Bundy, and he’s caused millions of dollars in damages.

    Not to mention his cattle causing at least two car wrecks.

    I do hope the government has a plan to deal with said cattle, quickly. And I hope it doesn’t allow another Bundy.

    • I not trying to argue with u, but I love to eat beef. Beef cattle require a large range to rome on to prevent the damage u speak of. This is why ranchers buy these leases from the BLM. Land management is the job of the BLM. Not to steel land. Two men are now going to serve 5 years with a $400,000 fine all because the Fed’s called this a terrorists act. I do not believe it was but apparently I must be wrong, it seems the rest of the public supports these rulings. BLM win.

    • BLM’s authority goes back to at least 1812 and the formation of the old General Land Office and that Office can be traced back to 1785 to the Land Ordinance of 1785, which was prior to the existence of our Constitution and was passed under the Articles of Confederation. It will be tough to prove in court that BLM doesn’t have authority over Federal lands. Their lawyer would also have to prove that many western states’ constitutions were a little bit illegal when they were admitted to the Union. Many of these state constitutions explicitly state that any lands that weren’t private were Federal lands or something similar.

      • Uh, not to mention that this has been through the courts for 20 years. Bundy and his whacko theories lost again and again. So it is settled, and has been settled.

          • I agree with your point, but I still believe the conduct and power of the BLM should be addresed in court or by congress.

          • The Judge in the circuit court came up with a just ruling. This ruling was appeal by the Fed’s. The higher courts violated the 8th Amendment with this 5 yr sen. With the issue of the BLM they do use their authority to bully people. This authority is what should be address in the court or by congress.

          • It’s my understanding that the original judge didn’t apply the mandatory minimum of 5 yrs as required by law when they were sentenced to 12 months instead. I don’t agree with mandatory sentences but why should the Hammonds be exempt while others aren’t?

            Moreover, even the mandatory 5 yrs was less than they could have received. Anyone who’s read the trial transcript knows that the Hammonds were convicted on multiple counts with each count carrying a 5 yrs sentence. They were found guilty of much more than a simple backfire on their own property.

            However, while the jury deliberated the Hammonds made a deal with the gov, that if convicted they would not have to serve the sentences consecutively but instead concurrently. In return, they agreed not to appeal the conviction.

            So instead of having to serve their sentences for 10 to 15 yrs, they only have to serve 5 yrs which is why they refused to cooperate with the Bundy mob but instead turned themselves over to authorities without protest when the time came to serve.

            If, as you say, the BLM has over reached its authority in the West then that’s another issue than what happened to the Hammonds.


          • Brief points. Do you believe these were malicious acts? I don’t. Note these fires are a common practice in that area. Was it a malicious act by the EPA polluted a river in Colorado. Was polluting the water in Flint a malicious act. I believe it was, because they failed to info the people immediately. If either one of these two actions were committed by a private entity there would be criminal charges file.
            The Jury in this case against the Hamonds were told they must rule according to the law, but nobody told the jury about jury nullification. In my opinion the first judges ruling was just

          • To answer your question…personally, I don’t know if they were malicious acts or not. However the witnesses who testified at trial think they were malicious. Moreover, arson is not common practice in that area. What the EPA did somewhere else is irrelevant to the case under discussion.

          • I respect your opinion. I do wish I could have been on that jury. I have stated. “apparently I must be wrong, it seems the rest of the public supports these rulings”

          • They were malicious in that they were done to cover up other illegal acts. You can google the whole thing. And you can find the whole story. I don’t maintain the sentences were necessarily correct (though mandatory), but those guys were not what I’d call innocent, or even nice people.

          • Note I never implied they weren’t quilty. my arguement has been. The Judge that sat through all the testimony came up with a sentence he felt was just. Case closed.
            I respect the jury’s dicision. Question I would like answered. Did the jury know they would be sentenced for a min of 5 yr with a $400,000 fine? If they did know, I’ll support the Appeals Courts dicision.

  5. Not lost on me at least is the name of the place these clowns decided to hole up. Malheur is French for MISFORTUNE!! How prophetic!

  6. Now, let’s get to rounding up all the nutballs that participated in the Bundy uprising. Should be no problem, we lock up folks in this country for far less than this, so get busy putting them away. And hey maybe let some of the people who never threatened or hurt anyone out of prison.

      • Definitely!! But not just pot smokers!! Personally I’m quite frustrated with all the propaganda out there that acts like this drug is better than that drug. People are people and some people can be scumbags and never use drugs in their life, check out the Con candidates, and some people can be wonderful caring human beings and yet jam a needle full of heroin in their veins every night. In my work and travels I’ve actually heard people in jail proclaim, “well yeah I assaulted and robbed someone but at least I wasn’t going drugs!” And it’s not surprising to hear because in our messed up system getting high in your own home can send you to prison for way longer thanks assaulting or robbing someone. And that’s frigging messed up and illustrates a country that has lost its way.

  7. Looks like this Bundy bunch is going to cost us one way or the other. They fed their cattle for years on BLM land without paying, so that cost us a fortune. Now we’re going to feed them for years and that’s going to cost us a fortune. Either way, we lose. AT least they won’t be running around the country raising hell on our dime.

  8. Seems the Feds have learned some good lessons from the disasters at Waco and Ruby Ridge. Much better to arrest these criminals peacefully rather than getting a bunch of people on both sides killed!

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