Archive for the ‘Liberty’ Category

The Bundy Ranch issue has nothing to do with Bundy’s peculiar views

Harry Reid is now using Cliven Bundy’s off-beat views as justification for the federal government slaughtering his cows.

Bundy told the New York Times that he thinks black Americans might have been better off under slavery than they are on welfare.  He says he was just “thinking out loud” — “wondering” — “asking questions.”

Yup, pretty stupid. Maybe he’s a racist. Maybe he believes the tooth fairy is real. Maybe he’s just loony tunes.

So now most mainstream Republicans and conservatives are running for the tall grass, wishing they had never heard of Cliven Bundy.

But Cliven Bundy’s oddball theories have nothing to do with the issue. Maybe he thinks the earth is flat.

The issue is this.

In the 19th Century, the federal government promised the Bundy family their cattle could graze in Nevada for free. The U.S. acquired the Nevada territory in 1848 as part of a treaty with Mexico.

The U.S. government needed people to come to Nevada, needed population for Nevada — which is mostly uninhabitable desert. So the U.S. government promised ranchers their cattle could graze for free. That was the deal.

In 1993, the U.S. government decided to start charging these ranchers grazing fees. Not entirely unreasonable.

One question, of course, is the amount. The Feds say Bundy owes them in excess of $1,000,000 because he has refused the pay the feds grazing fees since they were instituted by regulation in 1993.

Apparently, he has paid grazing fees to Clark County, Nevada.

Another public policy question is: Should the federal government own 81 percent of the land of Nevada, as is the case now? That might make some sense when Nevada was a U.S. territory. But how can Nevada be a real state if 81 percent of its land is owned by the U.S. government?

This is the situation with many Western states.

The U.S. government owns about 50 percent of 11 coterminous Western states and 60 percent of Alaska.

Is that a good thing?

I don’t think so.

Isn’t this pretty much the complaint of the Native Americans of old?

Like Cliven Bundy, the Native Americans also had customs and beliefs that might cause modern folk to say “Huh? What?”

But they were used to roaming the ranges, hunting the buffalo, fishing, and pretty much just living their lives.

Then the federal government came along and herded them into reservations. The Native Americans were also promised all kinds of things by the federal government that did not happen.

Mostly, the federal government just slaughtered the Indians. The stories of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse,  and Geronimo, did not end well.

It should be noted that America’s founders had few problems with the Indians.  Thomas Jefferson wrote about the Indians regularly crossing his property.  They would hunt and fish there. He would share his tobacco with them. No problems.

The pilgrims of Plymouth Rock and the colonists got along fine with the Indians.  Lewis and Clark had no trouble with the Indians.

The problem for the Indians was not the white man.  The white man got along fine with the Indians for more than two centuries. Major problems for the Indians began when the U.S. government started pushing them off their lands in the mid to late 19th Century.  Big government was their problem, especially in the post-Civil War period — when there was still a huge standing Union Army without much to do except push the Indians around.

They did not want to own the land  – a concept foreign to the Indians.  They just wanted to hunt and fish. They just wanted to use the land to survive, as they had used it for hundreds of years.

Can you see a parallel here with Cliven Bundy’s situation?

Cliven Bundy has bizarre views.

His family has also been on that land for more than 100 years on a promise from the federal government that Bundy family cattle could graze for free.

That promise was not contingent on the views of a future child. Besides, the First Amendment to the Constitution is supposed to guarantee freedom of speech and freedom of thought. I’m free to believe the earth is flat.

Bundy’s views, no matter how bizarre and off-putting have nothing to do with our rights as Americans.

Bundy lost his case in federal court. He chose to go into federal court without a lawyer. Of course he was going to lose his case. The chances of anyone winning a case in federal court without a lawyer against an army of taxpayer-funded U.S. government lawyers are just about nil. So he lost.

The Native Americans also lost all their arguments in federal court and were herded into reservations.

Innocent patriotic Japanese Americans (U.S. citizens) lost their arguments in federal court and were locked up in camps during World War II.

The Supreme Court repeatedly upheld the Jim Crow racial segregation laws until 1965.

So just because cases are lost in federal court hardly means the issue is settled or that the losing party is wrong.

I’m not saying Bundy is entirely right either.

The real questions in the Bundy case are:

1) Should the federal government honor the promise it made to the Bundy family (and other ranchers) in the 19th century — that their cattle could graze for free if they move to Nevada?

2) Does this promise extend forever? If not, what is a reasonable time limit before grazing fees can be charged?

3) Should these grazing fees be paid to Clark County or the U.S. government?

4) Should the U.S. government own 81 percent of Nevada land?

5) If Bundy owes fees to the U.S. government, who should set the fees? — the Bureau of Land Management via fiat regulation by unaccountable faceless bureaucrats? Or America’s lawmaking body, which is Congress?

6) What fees are reasonable given this history?

7) Given this history, should the Bundy Family be afforded the opportunity to purchase this land at fair market value?

This might be the best solution, not just in the Bundy case, but for most federal lands.  A massive federal land sale  would go a long way to solving the national debt crisis.

I’m not suggesting selling the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, or places of unique stunning beauty.  Much federal land is uninhabitable wasteland  and wilderness that almost no one lives in or even sees.

These are questions that cannot be settled in a court.

Congress needs to step in and establish what lands should be owned by the U.S. government. Certainly not 81 percent of Nevada, not 50 percent of 11 Western states, and not 60 percent of Alaska.

Hardly anyone lives in Nevada. You can drive hundreds of miles in Nevada and hardly run into a gas station.

There’s a reason the feds wanted to lure the Bundy family to Nevada in the 19th Century with free grazing for their cattle.

Outside of Las Vegas and possibly Reno, almost no one would live in Nevada unless paid to live there. But Las Vegas did not exist before organized crime decided to build it in the 1940s. Before Las Vegas, there was only the Bundys . . . and a few other ranchers.

And their cattle are not grazing in Las Vegas. Their cattle are not grazing where people want to live.

So why not let their cattle continue to graze there?

Who cares what Cliven Bundy believes?

He’s not a government official, isn’t running for public office. He just wants to live with his cattle in the desert, where he’s bothering no one. And many Americans will happily enjoy the steaks he provides.

PUTIN & OBAMA ARE WRONG: Here’s what we mean by “American Exceptionalism”

Russia’s often-shirtless authoritarian strongman Vladimir Putin tells America that it’s “extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional.”

Obviously, that’s a gross distortion of what we mean when we say “America is exceptional” in world history.

We are not saying the American people are inherently better than people anywhere else. We are saying the American system — of government bound by law — is exceptional, and allowed liberty and the spirit of enterprise to flourish, thus allowing America to quickly become the richest nation in world history.

Of course, Obama has also often mocked the idea of “American Exceptionalism” — for example, famously saying this shocker at a NATO Summit in Strasbourg, France, in 2009:

I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.

No doubt, America is rapidly losing the distinction of being exceptional in today’s world – thanks to Obama and the Left in Congress not understanding what made America so exceptional.

So other countries are passing us by.  The United States has fallen from #1 to #10 on the Heritage Foundation’s world index of Economic Freedom — now behind even Socialistic Canada and Denmark.

But America is exceptional in world history because America was the first nation to be “conceived in liberty.”

America is exceptional because of its Constitution.

America is exceptional because it’s the first country in world history to establish a government,  the sole purpose of which is to “secure the blessings of liberty.”

America is exceptional because it was the first nation in human history to put such strict limits on the power of the central government.

America is exceptional because it is the first (and is still the only) nation in human history to be founded on this proposition:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Our rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are “unalienable” because they are granted by God Himself. And it’s the responsibility of government to protect and secure these rights.

When government trespasses beyond this purpose, its activities become illegitimate.

That proposition, this purpose of government — to secure the blessings of liberty — is what makes America exceptional in world history.

As a result of all the limitations on government power imposed by the Constitution, Americans were free to build businesses and profit from their efforts. This allowed America to become the richest nation in world history in a very short period of time.

To the extent other countries are now enjoying liberty and prosperity, it’s because they followed the American example.

If America is no longer exceptional, it’s because our government has mostly ignored the Constitution for the past 90 years or so — since the Presidency of Calvin Coolidge (the last President who actually cut federal spending in real dollars). He really was a great President.

Calvin Coolidge loved to read through the entire federal budget — line by line . . . so he could cross items out of the budget.  He often said nothing gave him more pleasure than saving taxpayers money.

Mostly what our elected leaders do (Democrats and Republicans) is look for ways to get around the Constitution — if they pay any attention at all to the Constitution.

Our political leaders in Washington, DC (not just Obama) respect few limits on government power.

Our political class today treats the Constitution as a set of guidelines, at best — not as law.

I believe America is still exceptional because we at least still have the Constitution — which is still supposed to be the supreme law of the land. We just need to get back to following the Constitution.

America also has an exceptional history that gave us advantages that other counties have not had.

America was settled by courageous people who had a pioneering spirit.

It takes a certain type of person to leave their family, friends, and familiar lives behind and travel to a new land, a wilderness, in search of freedom and opportunity.

Arriving on the shores of a desolate and freezing Cape Code in November of 1620, half the  passengers on the Mayflower died during the first winter.

The tens of millions of settlers and immigrants who followed them here did not expect anything from the government — certainly were not looking for handouts and free health care.  All they wanted was freedom to build a new life.

That takes courage.  America was built by risk-takers.

By the time of the American Revolution in 1776, Americans had already become the world’s richest people — because of their entrepreneurial spirit.

America’s thriving shipbuilding, tea, tobacco, and rum businesses were out-competing those of the British Empire — which was what led to Britain’s crackdown on American industry (i.e. the heavy tax on tea that triggered the Boston Tea Party, the Stamp Tax, and other taxes).

America is exceptional because we actually fought a war against the British Empire (the largest empire in world history) over excessive taxation.

How many people have done that?  What would have America’s founders thought of ObamaCare?

No doubt, they would have seen ObamaCare as a abomination — an all-out assault on liberty, exponentially worse than the tax on tea that lit the fuse of the American Revolution.

America is exceptional because we used to zealously guard our liberties.  For the Americans of that day, no attack on liberty was too slight to overlook.  ”Give me liberty, or give me death!” declared Patrick Henry.

That was the American mindset in 1776.

If America is losing its distinction as exceptional in the world, it’s because most Americans today don’t seem all that concerned about liberty anymore. Most Americans pay little attention to politics.   Internet page-view data reveals Americans to be 12 times more interested in Miley Cyrus‘ “Twerking” display than war with Syria or what our government is doing to us.

The problem is not so much Putin not thinking America is exceptional. We would not expect the former Soviet KGB thug to value liberty.

The problem is we now have an American President who agrees with Putin — that America is not exceptional.

President Obama has made it clear throughout his political career that he has little  respect for our Constitution — or even the rule of law.

When Bret Baier of FOX News asked President Obama about the subversion of the legislative process President Obama and the Democrats engaged in to pass ObamaCare into law by one vote in the U.S. Senate, President Obama said: “I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what the procedural rules are.”

Obama doesn’t seem to understand that what makes America so exceptional is that we are a nation governed by laws, not men.  We are a nation of rules, not rulers — and that these laws (rules) are supposed to apply equally to everyone.

No one — not even Obama — is supposed to be above the law.  All Americans — including Obama — are supposed to follow the rules.

Obama is not so keen on this.

When in the state legislature in Illinois, Obama openly expressed his hostility to our Constitution in a radio interview when he called our Constitution “flawed.”

He went on to say:

“I think we can say that the Constitution reflected an enormous blind spot in this culture that carries on until this day, and that the Framers had that same blind spot . . . It also reflected the fundamental flaw of this country that continues to this day.”

In another radio interview, Obama said this:

“As radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution.”

So President Obama has made it clear that he considers the Constitution to be a flawed charter for government. He says he wants to “break free” from the restraints the Constitution places on government power.

To Obama and most on the Left,  the Constitution is an inconvenient obstacle they try to get around.

Obama does not believe in liberty or limited Constitutional government. And he has shown himself to be no fan of the American Dream.

He’s certainly no fan of capitalism — which is the most powerful force in world history to create wealth and lift people out of poverty.

President Obama is the first President in America’s history who does not believe in “American Exceptionalism.”

He promised in 2008 that he would “fundamentally transform” America.

In his mind, America’s heritage of liberty and limited government is not worth conserving.

Instead, Obama wants to “fundamentally transform” America into his vision of a European-Bloomberg-style socialistic Nanny State (or worse) — far removed from the pioneering “spirit of enterprise” that made America so rich, so free, and so successful.

By the way, can you really love something that you want to “fundamentally transform“?

If I told my wife I’m out to “fundamentally transform” her, I doubt she would take that as a compliment. We’d probably be headed for divorce court.

So if our own President Obama doesn’t think America’s heritage of liberty is exceptional and worth protecting, why would we expect better from the shirtless KGB thug Putin?

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