Following up on yesterday’s item, officials with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management backed off over the weekend at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch, deescalating a potentially dangerous situation. The underlying issues, however, haven’t changed at all.
We’re still looking at a situation in which in a rancher has been illegally grazing, ignoring federal laws, blowing off federal court rulings he disagrees with, and refusing to pay fines. Federal officials saw well-armed protestors and decided to scale back rather than risk bloodshed, but it wasn’t long before everyone involved asked the same question: now what?
Nevada’s senior senator, who also happens to be the Senate Majority Leader, weighed in late yesterday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid weighed in on the tensions in his state between rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management, saying, “It’s not over.”“Well, it’s not over,” Reid told NBC’s Nevada affiliate KRNV on Monday. “We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it’s not over.”
And that makes sense. Even among those who may be sympathetic to Bundy’s situation – members of his family have been cattle ranchers in that area for generations – most fair-minded folks would probably concede that Americans can’t ignore laws they don’t like and prevent laws from being enforced through the threat of possible violence.
By this reasoning, of course “it’s not over.” As we discussed yesterday, there’s an obvious problem with establishing a precedent that says Americans can disregard court orders.
Meanwhile, Bundy is weighing in on where things stand, too.
Indeed, the rancher showed up last night on Fox News’ “Hannity.”
“I don’t have a response for Harry Reid, but I have a response for every county sheriff across the United States,” Bundy said on Monday. “Disarm the federal bureaucrats.”
Just to clarify, Bundy is apparently under the impression that county law-enforcement officials should confront federal law-enforcement officials and attempt to take their firearms.
That’s probably not a good idea.
We are, by the way, still waiting for word from national Republicans, who haven’t said much about the controversy. In theory, this shouldn’t be a tough call – national GOP policymakers routinely say it’s “tyranny” if President Obama issues an executive order or moves a health care deadline without congressional approval, so one would like to think they’d be uncomfortable, at a minimum, with someone deliberately ignoring federal law and expecting no consequences.
But we’ll see.
Update: Our pals at “All in with Chris Hayes” took a deep dive into the Bundy story last night.