or The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight
Ammon Bundy, eldest son of Cliven Bundy, the ranching freeloader who refused to pay 21 years in back grazing fees, fines and penalties, has seized an Oregon Fish and Wildlife Service office in the name of the Hammond family, which he claims was unfairly prosecuted by the federal government for range fires they set. The only problem is that the Hammond family wants nothing to do with the Bundys, even if they feel the father and son were unfairly sentenced as terrorists for two fires they claimed were meant to protect their property. You can read the whole story here.
This has set the blogosphere ablaze with many calling for the forcible removal of the Bundy gang, but federal authorities don't want another incident like the one that took place in the spring of last year. That one blew up all out of proportion with Sean Hannity and Fox News taking the side of the Bundy family, turning it into a three-ring political circus with just about every politician chiming in one way or the other.
Even though it turned out Cliven Bundy was not only guilty in his actions but an unrepentant racist as well, Rand Paul actively sought his support for his campaign. It had to be one of the oddest pairings you would ever see, as Paul was considered to be one of the more sane Republicans running for the Oval Office. Bundy is a guy not even Glenn Beck would touch with a ten-foot pole. But, it seems a desperate Rand Paul was looking for anyone who loosely fit the "Libertarian" mold to gain him access to the gun nuts in the GOP.
Here we are again with the Bundys trying to command national attention where it is not wanted. The Oregon ranching community wants nothing to do with the Bundys. The Hammonds will appeal the five-year sentences in the court of law.
One can certainly argue that the Hammonds got harsher sentences than they deserved. Even the US district judge who oversaw the case thought the five-year mandatory sentence was too much and reduced it to 3 months and one year for the father and son respectively, but the federal appeals court imposed the mandatory minimum, as the law is the law.
Not even the Oathkeepers want anything to do with the Bundys, respecting the rights of the Hammond family to keep out of their affair. Ammon and his younger brother Ryan Bundy have simply gone rogue, hoping Fox comes calling again I guess.
Unfortunately for the Bundys, the Republican Presidential candidates are keeping mum, including Rand Paul, who got very little traction from Cliven Bundy's endorsement. What attracted the GOP candidates to the Bundys initially is that they are all in favor of selling off federal land to state and local interests, as there is a growing sentiment in the conservative ranks that the Feds simply own too much property that could be put to better use. However, you have to ask yourself if state and local interests would charge the same ridiculously low grazing, logging and mining rates which the federal government does.
Ranchers have access to an estimated 245 million acres of federal land, which are leased at very favorable rates by the Bureau of Land Management. There are however rules and conditions that come with it, which most ranchers honor, but a few like the Bundys do not. This new standoff has nothing to do with the Hammonds case. It was simply a convenient pretext for Ammon and Ryan to rear their ugly heads again and turn this into a land issue.
I can understand the government's reticence to use force to remove the Bundys, as they don't want to call anymore attention to this publicity stunt than it has already gotten.