The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

Cliven Bundy’s Justifiable Defiance: Part II

the end of Part
of this column, I asked: Was the law on the government’s side and
not on Cliven Bundy’s? What kind of law is it? And how is it being enforced
throughout the country?
sitting politicians have remarked on the Bundy/BLM standoff. However,
Christopher Agee, in his Western Journalism article of April 18th,
Accused by Congressman of Illegal Action at Bundy Ranch
,” reported:
Immediately after what many
considered a victory against a tyrannical federal agency, a number of leftist
voices – most notably, Sen. Harry Reid – indicated the action against this
family will continue. In response, Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman sent a
letter to Barack Obama, Department of the Interior Sec. Sally Jewell, and BLM
Director Neil Kornze, laying out his position that any such action by the
agency would violate the U.S. Constitution….

He cited the limited powers granted to the federal government, noting the
bureau has no “right to assume preemptory police powers, that role being
reserved to the States,” and explained “many federal laws require the federal
government to seek assistance from local law enforcement whenever the use of
force may become necessary.”
The letter included a section of
the U.S. Code — 43 U.S.C. Section 1733, Subsection C — stating exactly that
point. [Emphasis Stockman’s]
When the Secretary determines that assistance is necessary in enforcing
Federal laws and regulations relating to the public lands or their resources he
shall offer a contract
to appropriate local officials having law enforcement authority within their
respective jurisdictions with the view of achieving maximum feasible reliance
upon local law enforcement officials in enforcing such laws and regulations

The local law enforcement authority in this instance is the Sheriff of Clark
County, Nevada, Douglas C. Gillespie, who, apparently intimidated by the BLM
(Bureau of Land Management) as the protesters were not, refused to intervene
and demand that the illegal BLM vigilantes leave.
Gillespie, however, conspicuously
took a back seat to BLM forces during the standoff.
“Indeed,” Stockman wrote, “the
exact type of crisis that the federal government has provoked at the Bundy
ranch is the very type of incident that Congress knew could be avoided by relying
on local law enforcement officials.”
The stated purpose of the
correspondence is for the Obama administration “to bring the BLM into
compliance with 43 U.S.C. Section 1733.”
if we know anything about President Obama, isn’t going to happen. An abuse of
federal powers is, by his authoritarian lights, an exercise of executive
privilege or an action that transcends Constitutional authority.
John Fund, formerly of the
Wall Street Journal, penned an interesting April 18th piece on the
growth of government SWAT teams, “The
United States of SWAT?
Military-Style Units from Government Agencies are
Wreaking Havoc on Non-Violent Citizens” for National Review Online.
Regardless of how people feel
about Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s standoff with the federal Bureau of Land
Management over his cattle’s grazing rights, a lot of Americans were surprised
to see TV images of an armed-to-the-teeth paramilitary wing of the BLM deployed
around Bundy’s ranch.
They shouldn’t have been. Dozens
of federal agencies now have Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams to
further an expanding definition of their missions. It’s not controversial that
the Secret Service and the Bureau of Prisons have them. But what about the
Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley
Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission,
and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? All of these have their own SWAT units
and are part of a worrying trend towards the militarization of federal agencies
— not to mention local police forces.
provide a link to a list of all these agencies in my June 2013 Rule of Reason
column, “The
Stinking Badges of Our Federales
.” Go here
for the list.)
The proliferation of paramilitary
federal SWAT teams inevitably brings abuses that have nothing to do with either
drugs or terrorism. Many of the raids they conduct are against harmless, often
innocent, Americans who typically are accused of non-violent civil or
administrative violations.
Christopher Agee’s point, Fund noted:
Brian Walsh, a senior legal
analyst with the Heritage Foundation, says
it is inexplicable
why so many federal agencies need to be battle-ready:
“If these agencies occasionally have a legitimate need for force to execute a
warrant, they should be required to call a real law-enforcement agency, one
that has a better sense of perspective. The FBI, for example, can draw upon its
vast experience to determine whether there is an actual need for a dozen SWAT
Since 9/11, the feds have issued
a plethora of homeland-security grants that encourage local police departments
to buy surplus military hardware and form their own SWAT units. By 2005, at
least 80 percent of towns with a population between 25,000 and 50,000 people
had their own SWAT team. The number of raids conducted by local police SWAT
teams has gone from 3,000 a year in the 1980s to over 50,000 a year today.
whether they are actual federal SWAT teams, or local police hybrids, they are
being used more and more to enforce law in a familiar totalitarian manner:
Once SWAT teams are created, they
will be used. Nationwide, they are used for standoffs, often serious ones, with
bad guys. But at other times they’ve been used for crimes that hardly warrant
military-style raids. Examples include angry dogs, domestic disputes, and
misdemeanor marijuana possession.
cites the Heritage Foundation which regards as “inexplicable” the
question of why so many federal agencies need to be battle-ready. Brian
of that organization noted, among other frightening things:
In yet another Orwellian
development, the Education Department IG provides an anonymous tip line
encouraging Americans to inform on each other. This is reminiscent of the Obama
White House asking Americans in 2010 to report on friends and neighbors who
said anything “fishy” about Obamacare in private conversations.
The Federal Law Enforcement
Training Center says that it trains agents for “over 80 federal
agencies.” These include the Secret Service, Bureau of Prisons, and
similar agencies that one would expect.
But the list includes dozens of
federal agencies with no business training and fielding armed officers. Who
wants early-morning armed break-ins by the Department of Agriculture, Railroad
Retirement Board, Bureau of Land Management, Tennessee Valley Authority, Office
of Personnel Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?
is “inexplicable” only if one doesn’t acknowledge the expansion of
federal powers which dovetails into virtually every nook and cranny of American
the federal government any legal right to “own” or control this much land,
and to claim that the states have no say in the matter? No. But, the feds just
take it anyway. This is the behavior of tyranny in the name of the “public
interest.” The indefatigable “Hilda,” mentioned in Part I, consulted
the Justia
US Law
site, and found this information about Nevada. She wrote:
The State of Nevada has a legal
claim to the public land retained by the Federal Government within Nevada’s
borders because:

“(a) In the case of the State of Alabama, a renunciation of any claim to
unappropriated lands similar to that contained in the ordinance adopted by the
Nevada constitutional convention was held by the Supreme Court of the United
States to be void and inoperative because it denied to Alabama an equal footing
with the original states in Pollard v. Hagan, 44 U.S. (3 How.) 212 (1845);

(b) The State of Texas, when admitted to the Union in 1845, retained ownership
of all unappropriated land within its borders, setting a further precedent
which inured to the benefit of all states admitted later on an equal footing ;

(c) The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, adopted into the Constitution of the
United States by the reference of Article VI to prior engagements of the
Confederation, first proclaimed the equal footing doctrine, and the Treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo, by which the territory including Nevada was acquired from
Mexico and which is the supreme law of the land by virtue of Article VI,
affirms it expressly as to the new states to be organized therein.”
federal government’s claim to the state’s land is as fanciful as people
believing that Area 51 is where the government hides evidence of alien
spaceships. It’s a kind of “urban legend.” Furthermore, the
Constitution specifically states, in Section
3, Clause 1
New States may be admitted by the
Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within
the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of
two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures
of the States concerned was well as of the Congress.
has been ignored by the federal government, and to the detriment of not only
the states, but of all Americans. The federal government has, for all practical
purposes, erected its own states within and at the junctures of states,
governed by federal laws enforced by the BLM, the National Park Service, the
EPA, and myriad other federal agencies. For the history of this incremental,
unconstitutional land-grab, see the history of specifically the BLM here.
Review Online (NRO) is regarded as the chief herald and articulator of
conservative causes and viewpoints. Yet its writers can’t make up their minds
about Cliven Bundy and the whole BLM issue. Their timidity is conspicuous, but
also not a little snarky. Kevin D. Williamson, in his April 15th
article, “The
Case for a Little Sedition
,” remarked:
…There are of course questions of
prudence and proportion to be answered here, and though I note that he uses the
very strong phrase “lawless government,” I sympathize with Mr. Lowry’s desire
that both sides should follow the law….
The thing that conservatives seek
to conserve is the American order, which (1) insists that we are to be governed
by laws rather than by men and (2) was born in a violent revolution. Russell
Kirk described the conservative ideal as “ordered liberty,” and that is indeed
what we must aim for — keeping in mind that it is order that serves liberty,
not the other way around….
By some estimates, superfluous
federal holdings amount to trillions of dollars in value. Surely not every inch
of that 87 percent of Nevada under the absentee-landlordship of the federal
government is critical to the national interest. Perhaps Mr. Bundy would like
to buy some land where he can graze his cattle.
Williamson’s tone that is repulsive, not the content on his article. Why do so
many “conservatives” try to sound like Jon Stewart or David
Charles C.W. Cooke, in his April 15th NRO article, “The
Problem with Cliven Bundy
,” worries that Bundy’s actions may cause
more trouble: 
…Bundy’s story is that of a
family that has raised cattle in the West since before the automobile was
invented being turned into a grotesque social experiment. Nevertheless, as one
of the better of those statesmen once said, this is a nation with a “government
of laws and not of men” — and not the other way around — and it seems to me
that this principle should not be considered null and void because one of those
men happens to have an agreeable tale, a photogenic complaint, and a romantic
genealogical past.
That there is a point beyond
which the state may not advance without expecting legitimate pushback is
acknowledged by even the most committed of the state’s enablers. Indeed, this
principle is baked into America’s instruction manual — albeit with a caveat.
“Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive,” the Declaration reads,
“it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new
Government.” But it also chides the hotheaded among us, inviting us to
remember that “prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established
should not be changed for light and transient Causes.” As far as we know, Bundy
is not set on starting a revolution.
When can one refuse to obey the
law without expecting to bring the whole thing down? Certainly such instances
exist: I daresay that I would not stand idly by quoting John Adams if a state
reintroduced slavery or herded a religious group into ovens or even indulged in
wholesale gun confiscation. But Bundy’s case is not remotely approaching these
thresholds. Are we to presume that if the government is destroying one’s
livelihood or breaking one’s ties with the past, one can revolt? If so, one
suspects that half the country would march on Washington, with scimitars drawn,
and that West Virginia would invade the Environmental Protection Agency.
As government expands and civil
society retreats, bad laws pile atop bad laws, and the cause for dissent is
magnified and deepened. Cliven Bundy has been dealt a raw hand by a system that
is deaf to his grievances and ham-fisted in its response. But this is a
republic, dammit — and those who hope to keep it cannot pick and choose the
provisions with which they are willing to deign to comply.
don’t know, Mr. Cook. Is this still a “republic,” or is it a
“democracy” governed by Marxists, Progressives, and vacillating
conservatives afraid of their own shadows? I would say the latter. When is it
morally proper to refuse to comply with the bullying commands of a rampaging Goliath?
Who gave the federal government aegis over so much land and so many industries,
such as the energy or power industry? Perhaps it was some ambiguously worded or
sloppily interpreted clauses in the Constitution. Chief Justice John Roberts
was not the first to quibble over “definitions” and
to U.S. Senator Harry Reid, the one who called the Bundy protestors “domestic
Reid has a history of hating coal. GOPUSA reported in September 2012, in “Harry
Reid demands closure of coal-fired power plant
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid on
Tuesday called for the closure of a coal-fired power plant outside Las
Vegas, saying he expects opposition from NV Energy Inc. but the
facility is antiquated and a health risk to American Indians who live
nearby. “There is no clean coal,” the Senate Democratic leader
declared after meeting with several members of the Moapa Band of Paiutes who
live near the Reid Gardner station and a handful of representatives
of the Sierra Club and Nevada Conservation League who want the plant to
“We have to stop further
degradation of the land and air as a result of burning coal,” Reid said.
“The solution is to close the plant. We want the boilers shut off.”
A Republican Party spokesman,
Darren Littell, accused Reid of wanting to throw 150 people out of work in a
state where unemployment tops 12 percent.
wants the boilers shut off. Of course, his concerns about the Paiutes and the
environment had nothing to do with his wanting to convert BLM land into solar,
wind, and geothermal power sources. If you believe that, you believe in the
Moon People. See James Simpson’s, April 16th WND article,
Behind Bundy Showdown
.” However, Reid got his way.
Las Vegas Sun reported in its June 4th article, “NV
Energy Bill wins passage, signaling state’s shift from coal
” reported:
Legislators have officially moved
Nevada out of the coal business. In a vote Monday night, the Assembly approved
a landmark energy shift away from coal-fired power plants like Reid Gardner in
Clark County and mandated investment in renewable energy and natural gas. [Reid
Garner was no relation to Harry Reid]….
While Nevada has long had a
policy to invest in renewable energy, it has never before excluded a fossil
fuel like coal from its energy portfolio. The policy shift comes with
significant political weight behind it: NV Energy, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid,
D-Nev., Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, the state’s major casinos, the
environmental lobby, and major labor unions all support the move.
the meantime, and finally, here is a larger connection between Cliven Bundy,
Harry Reid, and the fact that the federal government has taken over realms over
which it was never intended to reign supreme or have anything to say at all
about. The Wall Street Journal reported on April 18th that “Obama
Extends Review of Pipeline Project
The Obama administration is
indefinitely extending its review of the Keystone XL pipeline, likely delaying
a decision on the project until after November’s U.S. midterm elections.
The State Department, which has
jurisdiction over TransCanada Corp.’s TRP.T-0.33%,
1,700-mile long pipeline project because it crosses the Canadian-U.S. border,
cited as a key reason ongoing litigation over a Nebraska law that allowed the
pipeline’s route through the state.
live in a command, by-your-leave economy and political state (that is, a
fascist one), dependent on the whims and fortunes of political parties,
lobbyists, and corrupt politicians.
The pipeline would send more than
700,000 barrels of carbon-heavy oil from Canada’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries
in the U.S….Business interests contend it will create jobs and offer a safer
alternative than transporting the oil by rail.
The decision could help the Obama
administration sidestep for now a tricky political issue that has divided the
Democratic Party in an election year.
that weren’t bad enough, we have creeping censorship to contend with. Mark Horne
of Political Outcast reported in his April 2014 article, “Senate
Dems Ready to Smash 1st Amendment for TV, Radio, Internet
No, the bill doesn’t enforce open
censorship yet, but that’s never how it starts. …[T]he Hate Crime Reporting Act
of 2014 demands the tracking of so-called “hate speech” without any enforcement
Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) were looking for a
way to rile talk radio hosts, their Hate Crimes Reporting Act seems like a good
way to get the job done.  With bills in the House and Senate, the
lawmakers would direct the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA) to “analyze” media outlets — including radio — to
determine if they’re working to “advocate and encourage” hate crimes.
their bill to this week’s alleged white supremacist shootings in Kansas, Markey
says it is “critical to ensure the internet, television and radio are not
encouraging hate crimes or hate speech.”  He brushes aside expected
First Amendment arguments, saying “criminal and hateful activity” isn’t covered
by the Constitution.
  The bill would look closely at discussions
related to gender, race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation. [Emphasis Horne’s]….
It gives the government a new
tool to force an “orthodoxy” on the populace in the name of a recent crime
that had absolutely nothing to do with talk radio.

The next thing you know, the NTIA will have its own SWAT team, ready to raid
Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Michael Savage. And I’m sure there are plenty of armed-to-the-teeth
men who’d like to pat down Megyn Kelly TSA-style for her ill-advised “hate
speech.” After all, when she asks so many inconvenient questions of taqiyya-happy Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR,
isn’t she encouraging “hate crimes” against Muslims?  Isn’t reasoned inquiry a form of “criminal
activity”?  To Hooper, to Markey, to
Jeffries, yes, it is.
next step, as Horne suggests, is for the government to want to
“track” what’s said in print, as well. Any words written and
published in support of Cliven Bundy and critical of the BLM, can be frowned
upon and perceived as encouraging “domestic terrorism” and
“hateful activity.” I’m sure Senator Harry Reid will vote in favor of
the Hate Crimes Reporting Act. And then, as the BLM did, he’ll want to see vocal
Americans rounded up and corralled in another “First Amendment”
cattle pen.
for the slaughter.


Cliven Bundy’s Justifiable Defiance: Part I


Justice Stevens’s Liberty-Destroying Amendments


  1. Teresa

    Thanks, Ed, for all the research you put into these two articles related to Bundy. Dynamic close!

  2. Edward Cline

    Teresa: You're welcome.

  3. Michael Neibel

    Great article Ed. This also demonstrates the principle that when a nation's laws move away from the protection of rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, its police force moves men from rights protectors to rule enforcers. Of course all the bloody dictatorships of the last century, Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Red China et al all had their rule enforcers. That's what is happening to our law enforcement.

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