The Norman Transcript

Columns

April 26, 2014

U.S. must win range war

NORMAN — Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy is being portrayed by some as a man of principle, an iconoclast who should be admired for his willingness to stand up to the federal government. But in fact he’s a petty scofflaw who seems to think that he has the right to pick and choose which rules must be obeyed.

Bundy is the cattleman who grazes his herd on federal land operated by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, but unlike more than 15,000 other ranchers, he refuses to pay the associated grazing fees. After 20 years of disagreements and court battles, the U.S. government began rounding up his cattle this month. The rancher and a group of armed supporters confronted the federal authorities, leading to a standoff; the authorities withdrew.

Bundy justifies his stingy and illegal behavior with a variety of claims. One is that this is a states’ rights issue and that he doesn’t “recognize” the federal government. Another is that his family grazed the land long before it came under the jurisdiction of the BLM.

Actually, more than 70 percent of the land in Nevada is federally owned, including the land in question; the state Constitution recognized that ownership years before Bundy’s ancestors arrived, despite his assertion otherwise. (Various reports also have cast serious doubt on whether his family was grazing cattle on the land as long ago as he claims.) For that matter, if prior use of land were all that was needed to avoid paying a landlord, the land would revert back not to Bundy but to the control of Native Americans, who were on the Nevada land long before any white settlement of the area.

Despite his professed disbelief in the U.S. government, Bundy brought his case in federal court, so apparently he does recognize the federal government when he thinks he might gain something from it. But the courts repeatedly ruled against him. Which makes Bundy more of a bad loser than a folk hero. He would surely have insisted that the court rulings be followed if they had gone in his favor.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Make gun safety a health issue

    Quick, are you more likely to die by a bullet or in a car crash? Common sense would seem to suggest the latter. Cars are everywhere. We are an auto-obsessed nation. To be American is to drive — everywhere. Teenagers itch to get behind the ...

    July 20, 2014

  • They just want to be free ... maybe

    Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, rattled many cages this month when he announced in parliament that the KRG would be moving ahead soon on a referendum on independence from Iraq. If Kurdistan goes ahead ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Congress must accelerate solutions

    Congress has roused itself, at the last minute, and now is scrambling to save the Highway Trust Fund. Better late than never. Better still will be if lawmakers agree to come up with the money to prevent the fund from becoming insolvent. ...

    July 20, 2014

  • The heavy burden of college aid

    Return on investment is a clear measure of what you get for your money. Incredibly, the federal government doesn’t apply that simple concept to the $137 billion a year it spends on college financial aid....

    July 19, 2014

  • James bears weight of Cav’s dreams

    LeBron James has done it all on a basketball court. He’s a great scorer, rugged defender, proven big-play leader and champion. But that might not be enough in Cleveland, where he’ll also need the powers of Merlin the Magician....

    July 17, 2014

  • Steve Boaz.jpg Breathing Rhythm Studio a center for creativity

    Recording engineer Steve Boaz has brought his musical ambitions to fulfillment in a downtown Norman studio.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Matt Lauer is so last century

    How about we rename “The Today Show” the “Yesterday Show” since host Matt Lauer asks questions from 1953? Isn’t what Lauer asked GM CEO Mary Barra about whether she’ll do “well” at being simultaneously an executive and a mom about, oh, 30 ...

    July 14, 2014

  • Religion’s role shrinking

    Surveying the response to last month’s Hobby Lobby decision, I was struck by a comment from progressive Massachusetts senator and possible Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren....

    July 12, 2014