by Scott Creighton
Do you support the cattle baron Bundys and their federal land grab efforts? Well, guess what you are? A neo-liberal globalist and sadly, you don’t even know it.
Every “rugged individualist” who loves watching Westerns from Shane to The Quick and the Dead to Aliens Verses Cowboys always imagines themselves as the lonesome rider, the Pale Rider, the High Plains Drifter or one of the Magnificent Seven riding into an oppressed village or little town to free them from the cruel tyranny of some out of control cattle baron on a lethal power trip using his thug cowboys as his personal dusty death-squad.
They never imagine themselves as ass-hole son of the oligarch rancher taking advantage of his winning the lottery of birth. They never see themselves as the murderous ranch-hand thug shooting at the pitiful miner dancing in the street while bullets bounce off his boots.
And they certainly never see themselves as pawns of a massive, corporatist/globalist entity like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) … but they are. At least, the ones who came to the rescue and defense of the Bundy Clan are. As are those who push ALEC’s propaganda as justification for it.
The Cliven Bundy “revolution” started long before the Sagebrush Rebellion Act of 1978. That’s where a bunch of cattle baron ranchers decided to push though a piece of legislation in Nevada declaring all federal lands were to be given over to state control since they controlled most of the state’s corrupt legislators.
That’s because, in ’79, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act was passed which provided environmental protections for public land through an agency called the BLM which is the hated symbol of government overreach for that group of cattle barons, miners and logging interests to this very day (you’ll notice, after the ruse of the Bundys being in Oregon to defend the Hammonds was up, they said they were there to take back the land from the federal government so it could be used by ranchers, miners and logging companies)
ALEC got involved in this “struggle for liberty” right off the bat:
“… As the rebellion spread, a conservative interest group called the American Legislative Exchange Council joined the fight. ALEC was founded in 1973 to craft “model legislation” for state governments; it brought together conservative state legislators and industry representatives in closed-door sessions. Copycat Sagebrush Rebellion Acts were passed in Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, and New Mexico.
In the past thirty years, ALEC has thrived: 27 percent of all state legislators are now members. Its corporate advisory board includes ExxonMobil, Altria, and Koch Industries. In addition to its work fighting federal ownership of public lands, ALEC has helped states to pass stand-your-ground laws, to privatize public education, and to implement ag-gag rules.
On April 19, 2014, one week after the Bundy standoff, some fifty Republican state lawmakers, from nine Western legislatures, convened in Salt Lake City for what they called the Legislative Summit on the Transfer of Public Lands. The conference was organized by Ken Ivory, a Utah state representative, and Becky Lockhart, the speaker of the House in Utah: both are members of ALEC.” Harpers, 2015
ALEC is not interested in your freedom or protecting your rights under the constitution. Big Business that foots the bill for ALEC doesn’t pay for that. Quite the contrary actually.
All ALEC wants to do is return the country, state by state, to the glory days of the Gilded Age on behalf of super rich oligarchs and the greedy corporations that serve them.
In order to understand the “good old days” ALEC, Cliven Bundy and his craven sons wish to return us to, take a look at this:
“In 1885, William A. J. Sparks, the commissioner of the General Land Office, reported to Congress that “unscrupulous speculation” had resulted in “the worst forms of land monopoly . . . throughout regions dominated by cattle-raising interests.” West of the hundredth meridian, cattle barons had enclosed the best forage along with scarce supplies of water in an arid landscape. They falsified titles using the signatures of cowhands and family members, employed fictitious identities to stake claims, and faked improvements on the land to appear to comply with the law. “Probably most private range land in the western states,” a historian of the industry concluded, “was originally obtained by various degrees of fraud.”
The cattle barons were not cowboys, though they came to veil themselves in the cowboy mythos. They were bankers and lawyers, or mining and timber and railroad tycoons. They dominated territorial legislatures, made governors, kept judges, juries, and lawmen in their pockets. They hired gunmen to terrorize those who dared to encroach on their interests. They drove off small, cash-poor family ranchers by stampeding or rustling their herds, bankrupting them with spurious lawsuits, diverting water courses and springs, fencing off land to monopolize the grass, and, finally, when all else failed, by denouncing the subsistence ranchers as rustlers who should be lynched. By the late nineteenth century, the barons had privatized the most productive grasslands and the riparian corridors, where the soil was especially rich. What remained was the less valuable dry-land forage of the public domain, which by 1918 totaled some 200 million acres spread across the eleven states of the West, and which the barons also dominated by stocking them with huge numbers of cows.
Overgrazed and underregulated, the public rangelands descended into a spiral of degradation, the grass in ruin, the topsoil eroded by rain or lifted off by the wind. Only in the 1920s did Congress take serious notice. Ferdinand Silcox, the chief forester of the U.S. Forest Service, testified in 1934 that unregulated grazing was “a cancer-like growth.” Its necessary end, Silcox said, was “a great interior desert,” a vast dust bowl.” Harpers, 2015
This is the forgotten history of the wild west. But it’s not all that forgotten. Films and novels depicting the despicable behavior of the out of control cattle barons are still made and written to this day and not all of them are serious westerns, or have we already forgotten Blazing Saddles?
The accuracy of Silcox’s conclusions regarding the degradation of the land is evident in both our history and our present. This is what overgrazing does to YOUR public lands:
It’s beautiful isn’t it? All that “freedom” and “liberty” and cowshit and piss spread out across the dusty plains for your children to visit and be amazed at the beauty of the American landscape. Just, when you take them to see it, make sure you tell them that it’s okay because a rancher somewhere is a lot richer because of it and that’ll make him feel better about the stench filling up the car as you drive by all that “liberty” for an hour.
The cattle barons turn those grassy fields into shit-holes so they can put more beef on the hoof and more money in their pockets and I don’t care how many copies of the constitution they carry around with them, this is what it’s about. This is what it’s always been about.
And this is what ALEC is all about as well. If you listen closely, it’s like they’re writing Bundy’s lines for him. But that’s nothing new. They’ve been writing lines for state legislators for decades now.
“More than 50 percent of territory from Colorado westward is managed by the federal government despite evidence that the states would serve as superior environmental and economic stewards of the land. Western states that petition for control of select federal lands within their borders should receive it as control over the land inside its boundaries is state sovereignty at its most basic.” ALEC Federalism page
“The report also highlights Canada as a successful case study on the transfer of public lands. Canada has begun transferring federally managed lands in their territories from national to territorial control in a process called devolution.”
The report mentioned in the quote is a point-by-point talking points memo for what to say when discussing handing over vast swaths of federally protected public lands to the various states who control them so they can then parcel them out to Big Business and cattle barons so they can extract the wealth from them as they see fit.
The Bundys have clearly read this little gem of a study because every argument they come up with comes straight from it’s pages.
At one point in the study they complain that it takes “up to 700% longer” to get a oil drilling permit on federal lands with all the new regulations. What a shame. They can’t rush in and frack the crap out of the place and make a ton of glorious money while decimating the local water table quite as fast as they could in good old days. Do you remember Pale Rider? Eastwood verses the hydraulic mining tycoon and his hired guns killing off the tin-paners to chase them from their legal claims? Ring any bells you rugged individualists out there?
To the likes of ALEC and the cattle barons, that’s government overreach: protecting natural resources from destruction by Big Business. And you can understand why ALEC and the Bundys who work with them see it that way. It’s always about the dollars not the land, not the people.
You can also understand how and why they’ve managed to turn our iconic anti-heroes against us.
Just don’t be confused about what you’re doing or which side you’re on. As soon as this is all over and they have the wealth extracted from the public lands you helped them secure, they’ll wipe their asses with that pocket constitution you revere so much while literally laughing all the way to the bank. Laughing at you for being a sucker.
And not only do these guys have the gall to pretend to be defending YOUR America (while sitting at home in their million dollar ranch) but now they want you to pay their legal fees for them as well while their cattle graze for nothing on your land.
In a better world, in a just world, perhaps a more idealistic world the likes of which may only still exist in a Western movie, the Patriot movement would have shown up at that wildlife refuge center like Preacher did at that little mining town, Lahood, California and they would have stood with the little mining families on their legal claims instead of showing up to defend Coy LaHood like they did.
But unfortunately, the little mining families in this case didn’t have the PR team from ALEC to help them push their neoliberal globalist agenda on behalf of Big Business and cattle barons. And the results are truly unfortunate.
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