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The Real Side | Commentary by Joe Messina
| Monday, Apr 14, 2014

joemessinamugNo, no, no silly. Not the illegal aliens. The ones grazing on grass.

We have all been hearing about Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who has been fighting the Bureau of Land Management for almost 20 years now. He feels that because his family settled the land in the early 19th Century and has been using it since then, he has the right to ignore court orders – many court orders – and just keep the cattle there.

Bundy cites the bogus claim that a “federally protected” desert tortoise started all of this back in 1993. As of late, I understand these tortoises are, in fact, not in danger, and that the cattle in a “step test” didn’t step on one of them when the tortoise and the cattle where released in a small area.

Eventually, Bundy also decided, because the property rights belonged to his family (and other technical issues), that he would stop paying grazing fees to the government.

Try not paying your taxes for a few years and see what happens.

The government claims it has cost it plenty to take the issue to court and get the judgments against Bundy. They also claim there has been damage to property by his cattle that trespassed and grazed on federal land.

Many cattle ranchers pay grazing fees. Why doesn’t Bundy?

Let’s be clear. I am not in agreement with the way the government is handling this issue and the amount of force used by the BLM. But we conservatives keep screaming we are a “nation of laws.” Do we only do that when it’s convenient? We get mad when the government and others don’t follow the law. We take up the pitchforks and torches and set off to right the wrong.

Bundy has had support from all over the country. Many have come running to his aid to fight the big, bad government. Good for them. But wait.

Photo: Cliven Bundy Ranch

Photo: Cliven Bundy Ranch

Bundy has already lost this case several times in a court of law. He has, several times, been told to keep his cattle off of government land, yet they continued to cross over from his property onto the government’s. Why didn’t he put up a fence to protect his cattle? It might have stopped a lot of unnecessary aggravation and cost.

Why did he stop paying grazing fees to the tune of $1 million-plus that more than 1,600 other ranchers pay? Is he special? Did his family get special dispensation from Thomas Jefferson or George Washington?

We can’t have it both ways, and those of you “running” to protect him, be careful. Rather than spending money to help him on-site, the people running out to help and the 1,600 other ranchers should pool their money and sue the government. Take them on and push back. Fight it from within the law. Make sure you do everything right, and then go after them.

And to you, Mr. Government … SWAT teams? Really? Two hundred armed BLM agents. My God, if we could only get those agents on the borders. Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of trying to stop cattle from grazing on public land, you used those same armed BLM agents to keep legal, taxpaying, land-owning American citizens safe on their own property rather than being trespassed and violated by illegal immigrants? Wouldn’t it be great if you upheld and protected Americans at our borders with those same laws you are trying to use against Bundy?

To the 200-plus “Bundy cowboys,” your mere presence caused the government to stop and think about what a disaster this could be. The feds stood down and made arrangements to return the cattle.

Good job? Watch your back. It ain’t over yet. The government has been embarrassed. They have been stopped by cowboys. Joe Citizen has kept them from succeeding in a stormtrooper-type of invasion and seizure of personal property.

I want to thank the protestors and protectors for being strong and civil and for not choosing violence over a simple show of force.

I’m afraid to say that this is one of many uprisings coming – healthcare, land use, tax reform, and much more. This country will undoubtedly go through many changes over the next few years. Strap yourself in and hold on.


Joe Messina is host of The Real Side (TheRealSide.com), a nationally syndicated talk show that runs on AM-1220 KHTS radio and SCVTV [here]. He is also the current president of the Hart School Board. His commentary publishes Mondays.


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1 Comment

  1. Mandy says:

    The federal government does not have the right to own land. That’s what the constitution says.

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