It's been a little less than two years since Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy caused a national uproar by instigating an armed confrontation with agents of the federal government over cattle grazing fees - fees which he rightfully owed but did not want to pay. Bundy had been illegally grazing his cattle on federal lands for twenty years and owed fees to the government in the neighborhood of a million dollars.
Armed hillbillies calling themselves "militias" rushed in to defend Bundy's illegal use of the land and to demand the return of his cattle which the government had "gathered." After brief negotiations, the cattle were returned. The hillbillies hung around for a few days posing for photographers, and then most of them headed home. Cliven Bundy made the circuit of right wing talk shows and was the darling boy of conservative politicians until he started talking too much and drifted into the subject of race - and quickly proved to be more of a political embarrassment than he was an asset.
That was in April of 2014. Less than two months later a young couple who had been at the Bundy ranch supporting the standoff shot an killed two Las Vegas policemen as they were eating lunch - and then killed themselves.
Now, almost predictably after the lack of consequences for their last law-breaking spree, the Bundy family is back in the news.
A group of activists and "militiamen" have taken over a federal building in rural southeastern Oregon in retaliation for the impending imprisonment of a pair of ranchers who illegally burned government land. The protesters are calling for other "militiamen" to rush out and join them in their act of civil disobedience. Two of the protesters are sons of Cliven Bundy.
Ammon Bundy posted a video on Facebook which called on members of different militia groups to join in their protest. "This is not a time to stand down," Bundy said. "It is a time to stand up and come to Harney County. We need your help and we are asking for it."
The Bundy family characterizes the issue as a battle over land and resources between the federal government and "the American people." They stress that they are occupying a building and that the government should not contemplate bringing physical harm to people solely over a building. The Bundy brothers did state, however, that they would not rule out violence if law enforcement personnel attempted to remove them from the building that they are occupying.
Ammon Bundy described that building as being a tool in the "tyranny" that the government has placed on the family who admitted to, and have been convicted of, burning government land. Bundy said that he planned to remain in that building "for years."
The FBI is currently "aware" of the situation and presumably monitoring it - and local law enforcement has the responsibility of actually dealing with it. The feds chose the same path of avoidance last time as they attempted to not turn Cliven Bundy into some sort of martyr, but people like Beck and Hannity managed to do that anyway. Avoiding the issue didn't work then, and it won't work now.
Here are my humble recommendations for resolving this current standoff:
1. Immediately cut off any federal government checks that are going to the protesters. Gramps may decide that his social security is more important than sleeping on the floor of some backwater government building.
2. Throw up a traffic blockade. See how many "years" they can survive without groceries.
3. Shut down utilities at the facility. Nothing says surrender quite as effectively as a toilet that won't flush. And,
4. If Ammon Bundy wants to occupy a government building for "years," perhaps he should be offered one of the federal prisons in neighboring California - Atwater, Lompoc, or Victorville. Not only would he get free room and board, there would undoubtedly also be numerous conversations about the "tyrannical" government in which he could participate.
Let's call it what it is. Armed defiance of the federal government is treason, plain and simple. It's past time for our government to act - and this time they need to get it right.