Okay, let’s be fair right out of the gate: This isn’t the exact sort of “debunking” we usually do. Normally, when a bunch of TeaNuts post some insane meme designed to present a false narrative, we’ll break it down, and rip apart its half-truths and outright lies with the little piranhas of fact. No, this one’s a little different — more of an appeal to reason — if there is such a thing anymore.
Libertarians and teanuts far and wide have gathered unto Cliven Bundy’s sacred sheath of land for one purpose: LIBERTY! Or something. Nevermind that said liberty comes by way of simply ignoring federal claims on land that their hero doesn’t own. This isn’t about a bunch of people simply crying because they don’t like the law, or having to obey it. Nor, is it about using threats of violence to affect government policy — i.e “terrorism.”
Nope…this one’s all about Harry Reid, the Chinese, Fracking, and Illuminati Lizard Men cunningly disguised as desert tortoises.
Claim No. 1 — That’s Cliven Bundy’s LAND!
Rebuttal No 1: NO IT ISN’T! Despite his claims of owning a piece of America simply because his family’s cows ate there, Cliven Bundy never owned one inch of that federal property. Not a single inch of it. He never “owned the rights” to graze his cows there, because the BLM doesn’t “sell” grazing rights. They lease them, and Cliven Bundy just didn’t want to pay his lease. Why? Turtles.
This is a letter written by former Lake Mead Recreation Area Superintendent Alan O’Neill — he sums it up well:
I am familiar with the situation, as I served as superintendent of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area for the National Park Service from 1987 to 2000. In 1993, we reduced the number of cows that could be grazed on the Bunkerville allotment to 150 because of the emergency listing of the desert tortoise as an endangered species.
Because Bundy refused to remove his cattle to meet the 150 level and ignored repeated requests to do so, his permit was canceled in 1994 and the allotment was closed to grazing.
As the news coverage has reported, Bundy continues to graze his cattle and has refused to pay the BLM a grazing fee. The figure he owes the government exceeds $300,000. The estimate of cattle being grazed illegally since 1994 on the old Bunkerville allotment have ranged from 550 to more than 900.
It is unfathomable to me that 20 years after the Bunkerville allotment was canceled in 1994, we are still wrestling with getting his cattle off the range. And there were issues of overgrazing that allotment before 1994. It is my opinion that the BLM and the Park Service have done everything possible administratively to try to resolve the issue amicably. In addition, there are two federal court rulings upholding the agencies’ position, and the most recent ruling demanded Bundy not physically interfere with any seizure or impoundment operation.
Claim No 2 — The Turtles Are Just a Smokescreen!
No, they’re really not. Back in 1993, the BLM established that area as a protected turtle habitat, because the turtles were disappearing. Even Cliven Bundy himself acknowledges that the turtles have disappeared, their populations dropping by more than 90 percent in his lifetime. Granted, he uses some folksy wisdom about how the decline of the turtle population has something to do with the decline of ranching in the area. In an amazing example of putting the cart before the cow, Bundy sees the non-native sheep and cow population as somehow having a positive effect on a reptile that’s been there for millions of years — and which has suddenly begun to die off, apparently because it couldn’t get along without the sheep and cows that it managed to survive 60 million years without.
The rationale for calling the tortoise itself a smokescreen is similarly bass-ackward. According to the teanuts, the BLM suddenly decided to swoop in and grab Bundy’s land for fracking or solar panels, and used the turtles as a pretext. We won’t argue that the turtles in modern mention, right now, may be something of a pretext for removing Bundy’s cows. They have moved the lines of the protected area in recent years.
But they weren’t a pretext in 1993, when Bundy decided to stop paying his rent. You might remember, back in the 90s, we actually CARED about that silly “environment” stuff. There was a thing on the news about it. It absolutely WAS for environmental reasons that the BLM cut Bundy’s grazing allotment down to 150 head of cattle; and it absolutely was for his own profit that Bundy ignored them. For the next 20 years.
During this time, the turtle population in the area kept dropping, and turtle habitat funds were running out. The turtle habitats had been established during the 1990s housing boom, and drew their fees and operating costs from housing in the area. When the housing bubble burst during the Bush recession, the turtles ran out of money and time. In 2012, hundreds had to be euthanized because they weren’t healthy enough to be released into the wild, and because the turtle habitat program ran out of money.
The rest is a sad story of an animal not protected the way it should have been, suffering at the hands of the American economy. But don’t say the turtles were just a smokescreen for a land-grab. Say that Bundy didn’t like the fact that endangered reptiles were becoming more important than his edible mammals.
Claim No 3. — Harry Reid’s Grabbing it For Chinese Solar Fracking!
Uhhh…no, he’s really not. For several reasons, but mainly because the BLM didn’t have to “grab” anything. It was land they already owned, and always had. Bundy never had the land of his own to sustain 1,000-plus cattle, and his family had always been dependent on use of fed land to raise cows. But the BLM didn’t NEED to “grab anybody’s land.” It was their land to begin with. And after Bundy stopped paying his lease, he was effectively gone as far as they were concerned. With nobody leasing the land, the BLM closed his former allotment for grazing permanently.
With their former tenant no longer paying his bills, the BLM started looking at other uses for the land. They have included exploratory drilling and yes, even leasing or selling the area to the Chinese to start paying down our $5 Trillion tab.
Maybe some of those connections and political insider-ing are a little shady, but that really isn’t the point here.
The point is that the BLM didn’t need to drive out cows to drill for oil. Invoking an endangered reptile would only make it that much harder to get approval for drilling or dastardly Chinese solar panels. Harry Reid’s plans for the area, his son’s, the Chinese…those are all completely irrelevant, and have nothing to do with moving cows. They could have done all those things without paying to impound four-legged feces factories.
Claim No. 4 — The Gummint’s Comin’ to Take Ever’thang From Independent Men Like Cliven Bundy!
First, Cliven Bundy was never “independent.” His Mormon ancestors might have had some cows there, but they wouldn’t have if the United States FEDERAL GOVERNMENT hadn’t been ceded that territory by Mexico. Cliven Bundy’s Mormon grandpappy didn’t capture that territory…the American government did. And it has belonged to them ever since. Bundy’s family was permitted to graze cows there for a fee, and Cliven forfeited his right to that allotment when he stopped paying. The federal government, who owned the land and always had, started looking for another use for it. Simple as that.
Or…it MIGHT have been as simple as that, had one self-entitled old man who didn’t want to pay his rent not suckered a bunch of teabillies into holding guns for him.
Make no mistake, this is, in fact, an eviction. It’s punitive, and aggressive. But (former) landlords tend to get that way when you’re still squatting on property you haven’t paid on in 20 years. But, we suspect that Cliven’s former landlords will be back after his treasonous guests finish enjoying their little spring holiday on Lake Mead. Keep an eye on those license plates, boys…you may find yourselves in Cuba this summer.
H/T: Metabunk…nice job, guys.
(PS: Thoughts on China. Listen, Teabillies…I know, as crazy as it seems right now, we’re not actually at war with anyone. We know you’ve still got that huge war-on from Iraq, the Cold War…Hell, the Civil War. But we’re not actually at war with anybody right now. Not even those commie Chinese. China is the second largest global economic power in the world right now, right behind us; it’s not a communist conspiracy for a Red Dawn takeover every time we do business with them. You do plenty of business with China…you’re probably still making payments on that flat-screen TV in your living room. Does that mean you’ve invited the communists in to steal your car and molest your dog? WE ARE NOT AT WAR WITH CHINA. And the next time you go crying to anyone about the United States “selling out” to China because we owe them $5 Trillion, bear in mind that our last war was responsible for about $4 Trillion of that.)