The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


April 23, 2014

Geoff Caldwell, columnist: Nevada standoff bigger than just one man

JOPLIN, Mo. — Imagine that all your life you’ve spent your days working your ranch and your nights nursing the calluses, the aches and the pains that come from working that ranch.

Imagine that though the Bureau of Land Management is your largest landlord, you’ve had a good relationship and paid grazing fees for years.

Imagine then receiving notice one day that out of the blue the landlord is arbitrarily changing the rules.

Imagine also finding out the reason for said change is that the city of Las Vegas replaced centuries old desert tortoise habitat with urban sprawl and new land is now needed. And no, there will be no negotiation, no accommodation, the tortoise is your new master.

Imagine that and you just entered the reality that hit Cliven Bundy in 1993.

He wasn’t some right-wing anarchist denying the government’s right to exist. He’d paid his taxes, he’d paid his grazing fees, he had abided by the law.

But now the law, via administrative fiat, was being turned against him and used in a way that had but only one end: his ranch gone, his livelihood destroyed. He didn’t have skills for a city job, he was a rancher, how would he provide for his family?

That was the reality that caused him to take on the most powerful force in the world, the U.S. federal government.

He went to court, he appealed, he went back to court. And he lost every time. Why wouldn’t he? The courts were there to uphold the law and the law was whatever BLM regulations said it was.

Never mind if those regulations made sense or were even needed. The bureaucracy had ruled and therefore it must be so.

You’ve heard armchair academics call Bundy a “welfare queen rancher,” watched Sen. Harry Reid label his supporters as “domestic terrorist wannabes,” and read claims that Bundy requested armed intervention (he has in fact called for peace from day one), but do you know the truth behind the spin?

Search “Washington Post Bundy facts” on the Internet and read Jaime Fuller’s timeline and you’ll find Cliven Bundy is not the lone lunatic the left wants you to believe.

He’s just the last man standing.

Do you know that Cliven Bundy was but just one of many and that it was hundreds of thousands of acres the BLM changed the status of in 1993?

Do you know the BLM has yet to produce documents showing how it arrived at its $1 million owed figure? And why spend upwards of $3 million (taxpayer dollars) for a debt of 1?

Do you know that two prize bulls and additional carcasses are now being found in a BLM dug mass grave? If you’re there to collect a debt wouldn’t you want to preserve the assets, not kill them?

And why should you care about a lone rancher in Nevada?

Well for one, did you know that at this very moment the EPA is trying to redefine the Clean Water Act to allow it to regulate virtually every trickle of water in the country? Yes, even that dry bed in your backyard that only flows once a year.

The BLM is kindergarten compared to the hell the EPA can rain down upon you.

Lincoln’s “government of the people, by the people and for the people” is fast becoming “government of the bureaucracy, run by the bureaucracy, and for the perpetuation of that bureaucracy.”

Do we not owe future generations more than to bind them as serfs to regulatory masters?

Geoff Caldwell writes on national and international affairs. He lives in Joplin. Contact him at

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