McClellan: Ariz. politicians siding with Nevada rancher is flawed - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Voices

McClellan: Ariz. politicians siding with Nevada rancher is flawed

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Mike McClellan is a Gilbert resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.

Posted: Monday, April 21, 2014 7:14 am

Who knew Congressman Paul Gosar is an anarchist?  Who knew that Arizona legislators Judy Burges, David Livingston, Kelli Ward, Kelly Townsend and Bob Thorpe side with lawlessness?

But now we know, because those six have cozied up to Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight with the federal government. 

To recap: Bundy has grazed his cattle on government land for years. In fact, Bundy’s claimed he has the right to the land based on the fact that his Mormon ancestors were using the land long ago, much longer than the federal government’s claim, though he’s been unable to actually prove that. 

Since 1993, though, Bundy’s refused to pay the grazing fees that every other rancher who uses that land  does pay.

To Bundy, it’s a case of federal overreach. He’s gone to court twice, and lost twice, in an attempt to reverse the fines he has to pay and the federal claim on his land. 

A few weeks ago, the Bureau of Land Management attempted to move his cattle off the land. That led to a standoff featuring Bundy, some of his family, various “militiamen” and politicians like our six from Arizona.

This isn’t the first attempt to stop Bundy, either. In 2012 the BLM planned to round up the cattle. After repeated threats of violence, the BLM stopped the plan.

But the threat of real violence was ramped up considerably when the BLM informed Bundy earlier this month that they were going to round up his cattle and charge him for the roundup and the fines. That led to the weekend earlier this month, a standoff between the feds and the Bundy family, the so-called militias, and the politicians.

During that time, we heard a couple of interesting comments, one from, gulp, a former Graham County sheriff who’s become a star of the militia movement, Richard Mack. He told the media that the assembled defenders of Bundy had an interesting strategy if violence broke out: “We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front. If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.”

Fortunately, we didn’t have to witness that horror, since the BLM backed off.

Bundy said, “I believe this is the sovereign state of Nevada. I abide by all Nevada state laws. But I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.”

Interesting comment for Gosar, since apparently Bundy doesn’t recognize the very government of which  Gosar is a part. Gosar deserves particular scorn here, since while he criticizes what he calls a government overreach, he admits that he is clueless about the validity of what the government or Bundy claims: “I have no idea. I’ve not been privy to the facts.”  Ignorance is bliss, eh, Congressman?

Nevertheless, Bundy’s claim, as Atlantic magazine noted, is ironic, since embedded in the Nevada State Constitution is the following: 

“But the Paramount Allegiance of every citizen is due to the Federal Government in the exercise of all its Constitutional powers as the same have been or may be defined by the Supreme Court of the United States; and no power exists in the people of this or any other State of the Federal Union to dissolve their connection therewith or perform any act tending to impair, subvert, or resist the Supreme Authority of the government of the United States.”

So Bundy’s refused to pay his grazing fees, he’s lost in court twice, he’s summoned anti-government militias, contradicted himself about which laws he obeys, doesn’t even recognize the existence of the federal government (wonder if his family did in World War II?).

Oh, and at one point, he demanded the county sheriff disarm all U.S. Forest Service workers and turn over all the weapons to Bundy. 

And this is the guy our Arizona politicians defend?

So are Gosar and Company suggesting that if an Arizona citizen believes the state government overreached in its power and refused to obey it, they should come to his defense, even siding with these so-called militias that come itching for some battle?

Or do they believe that if a law is bad or a policy detrimental we should use the judicial or legislative powers to reverse that law or policy?

Would Gosar and Company have defended the men who dodged the draft during Vietnam as conscientious objectors? Or are Gosar and Company selective in their outrage?

Are they political opportunists, or do they really believe in fighting what might be an unjust policy with militiamen? Do they, like Bundy, refuse to recognize the existence of the federal government? 

I hope they’re just opportunists out to curry favor with their base, because if they actually do believe the kind of violence threatened in Nevada is justified, we here in Arizona are in worse political shape than many  thought.

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