Monday, April 28, 2014

Straight Talk: Loving Bundy and Impeaching Nixon

Straight Talk: Loving Bundy and Impeaching Nixon

If Cliven Bundy weren’t a real person, I think we would have to make him up.  He’s a figure right out of a classic Western, a straight-shooting, straight-talking man, in a white hat, peaceable, of course, but ready with a gun to protect his spread from horse thieves and cattle rustlers and varmints.   What could be more genuinely American than a Cliven Bundy?

Those types of images stir my Eastern city-slicker blood in a way few other things do. I’ve never lost my love for movies like “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” or “My Darling Clementine” where virtue triumphs over evil, but not without a few bumps in the road.  Good men die, and good women cry, and all endings are bitter sweet. 

So, when Cliven Bundy rode out of the west on the thundering hooves of his horse “Taker” he might have cut an admirable a figure.  There was the delicate matter of him taking his herds onto other people’s land and eating their grass, for free, but being a carnivore myself and preferring grass-fed beef, and being an admirer of the open range, I might have been inclined to cut the good fellow some slack.  It’s just grass.   If anything, Bundy was performing a public service, because that was public land he was organically mowing, and asking him to pay for it seems a monumental act of Government ingratitude.

So said Bundy.  So said any number of Republican politicians, including Governors Brian Sandoval and Rick Perry, Senators Dean Heller, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and a gaggle of lesser lights.  And so said his supporters at conservative media and blogosphere, particularly Sean Hannity, who was about to nominate him to join Popes John the XXIII and John Paul II for canonization.  It got even better when Bundy rounded up some of the local boys and met those nasty old government fee-collectors with the straight-talking threat of lead.  Patriots all. 

Unfortunately, Mr. Bundy is a little more Blazing Saddles than John Ford, and some of that straight talk isn’t quite fit for the womenfolk.  He’s not very fond of African Americans, and while that might play really well as parody, he’s no Mel Brooks.   Oddly enough, he does seem to admire Mexicans “awful nice people” which, in a different context, might have helped with the Latino vote in 2016.  However, he did appear to go a little too far in the embrace of slavery, and most of his establishment supporters had to back away (while nevertheless lauding his resistance to Obama-style jackbooted thuggery.)

From my perspective, the racial references were an unfortunate distraction from the real issue.  Set aside the heroic mythmaking, and in plain English (without any regional accent whatsoever) here’s what Cliven Bundy did:  He walked into someone’s store, picked up a case of beer, some nachos, a few cartons of smokes, and a fistful of beef jerkies, and walked out without paying for it.  For twenty-odd years.  And when the owner of the store called him on it, Bundy brought armed men to show him who is boss.  I am astonished that anyone, especially a conservative who ostensibly venerates property rights, could possibly think that is OK.  That grass doesn’t belong to Bundy, and the fact that the public owns it does not mean it's there for the taking.  It is already unbelievably cheap for ranchers.  Bureau of Land Management grazing fees are $1.35 per month, per cow.  The average price on private land is $16.80.  You might say that differential a type of food stamps for cattleman.  But that’s the program, and that’s a separate discussion entirely.  Not paying the fee at all—that’s stealing, pure and simple, and any government-hating conservative who’s taxes go up by a dollar to make up the difference in lost revenue ought to realize that he just gave that buck to Cliven Bundy.

But, as we seem to be a little short on straight talk these days out West (and wherever Fox is heard) let us return to Harry Truman’s home state of Missouri. 

In Missouri, Republicans have advanced three separate charges of impeachment against Jay Nixon, the state’s Democratic Governor.  Article VII, Section 1 of the Missouri Constitution says All elective executive officials of the state, and judges of the supreme court, courts of appeals and circuit courts shall be liable to impeachment for crimes, misconduct, habitual drunkenness, willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency, or any offense involving moral turpitude or oppression in office.”

That Nixon fellow must have done some pretty bad stuff?  When I first heard about this, I was privately hoping for something salacious, like taking off for several days to visit your mistress, or selling public offices.  As State Representative Nick Marshall, a Sponsor of the bill said, “I will seek Articles of Impeachment against the Governor. He has openly disregarded the laws and Constitution of the State of Missouri and allowed his administration to do so on multiple occasions. If we are to live under the Rule of Law, he cannot be allowed to remain in office.”

If we are to live under the Rule of Law.”  I rather like that.  Give me details!!!!

Very disappointing.  Missourians are dull, dull, dull. Here are the grounds for impeaching Jay Nixon: 1) a November 2013 Executive Order to the Missouri taxing authority directing them to accept for filing same sex tax returns that had been accepted by the IRS, 2) a failure to call a special election fast enough, and 3) a failure to adequately punish officials at the state Department of Public Safety for releasing the names of Missourians with concealed weapons permits to a Social Security Administration agent who requested them last year. 

That is every bit of crimes, misconduct, drunkenness, and oppression they could gin up. That is what they are going to use to oust the elected Governor of their state.  It’s the same type of bizarre mentality that calls (pre-racist rant) Cliven Bundy a hero.  The law means what we say it means. 

To paraphrase Truman, that is a load of Horse Hockey.

Michael Liss (Moderate Moderator)

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