Soap Box Nov. 30 and beyond | Letters | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
Support the Free Press.
Facts matter. Truth matters. Journalism matters.
Salt Lake City Weekly has been Utah's source of independent news and in-depth journalism since 1984.
Donate today to ensure the legacy continues.

News » Letters

Soap Box Nov. 30 and beyond

'Ever see a dairy cow roaming out on the plains?'



Cover story, Nov. 23, "Zion, Militias and Public Lands"
Dairy cows? Ever see a dairy cow roaming out on the plains?
Robinette Benton
Via Facebook

Cliven Bundy and his crime family are in excellent company with the criminals Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Cattle need to eat just like all other living organisms and Bundy feeds his cattle for free when other corporations, companies, ranchers, and individuals pay for the food [his] cattle eat. Bundy wants to feed his cows for free so that he can make a greater profit. ...
Klaus Schiffler

Yes, Cliven's trespass cattle need to go. Is that what you're saying? At present, the government is only asking $1.2 million, or thereabouts. If Cliven were willing to negotiate, he could probably drop that by half or more. The point is, Cliven is not willing to negotiate. His head is full of all kinds of bullbleep about natural law, etc. It never occurs to him that the reason the feds own so much land is that: a) The federal government acquired that land by expending blood and treasure in the Mexican American War and b) The reason most of it didn't go into private ownership is that there was so little water.
L. Panc Ashash

Cliven Bundy is terrorist twat.
John Cook
Via Facebook

The Bundy family has owned both water rights and grazing rights since the late 1800s. If there were any link to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 that would have justified the imposition of grazing fees in the first place, it would have still been a contradiction to Article IV. The federal government and/or BLM have clearly acted arbitrarily and will hopefully be sued into extinction. They are taxing without representation, have utterly failed with providing the very basics of Article IV and are skating on thin ice with the ongoing negligence to fulfill their constitutional duties.
Jacen Bewer

Bundy is persona non grata in Oregon, and next time around [he'll] be shot on site before taking over a refuge for his own agenda and leaving it trashed.
Michael James Stone
Via Facebook

From the 1998 removal order of trespass cattle, each cow left after the 45 day grace period would incur a $200 per day trespass fee. The highest count of Bundy cattle (158 original permitted part-time) was 947 x $200 = $191,400 per day trespass fee. It would only take five days to reach the seven figure realm. Over the 19 years since that initial ruling, the trespass fees could surpass $1B.

The issue is Cliven originally had 158 permitted cows in the Bunkerville allotment. He had those revoked by noncompliance. Now you have almost 1,000 cattle trespassing in areas he never had any contractual, natural, prescriptive or permitted rights to.
Steve Maxfield

New rule: Can't use the constitution of a government you refuse to acknowledge as a defense.
Corban Anderson
Via Facebook

City Weekly printed the best article on Cliven Bundy yet, but I have something to add to understanding him, and shocking revelations about the media when I tried to do so. I am a retired female attorney living in Salt Lake City. I was raised Mormon from my parents' conversion in Idaho when I was age 5. I have referred to my parents converting to a Skousen package deal: "No good Mormon is a Democrat." But I also had the benefit of many other typical American influences like having the second TV in the neighborhood and a strong public education. Sure, there was that big old scare of being in our unfinished basement while my dad raved on about the end of the world and nuclear holocaust and being dead by the end of the week.

People are more than the sum of their cultural experiences. The week Kennedy saved the world, I became a different person. I was remembering an English textbook: "A coward dies a thousand deaths. A brave man dies but once." I had absorbed the fear in my father's words, volume, demeanor, gestures, but by the end I felt like I had no more fear in me. I had used it all up. I was done with fear. What has Bundy taken to heart of the influences on him? This old man has declined the judge's offer to be released from jail while preparing to represent himself at trial. He has declined release while his sons and others he feels responsible for are held in jail. I see a deep commitment of a family man who is doing his best to provide for and protect his large and extended family. So far, sons Ammon and Ryan have been released, but not everyone Bundy feels responsible for, so he is still in.

When I first heard about Cliven Bundy's trouble at the ranch, he did not seem an unusual or threatening character. He was just an older, Mormon rancher in an isolated area stuck in a financial trap he didn't know how to get out off. He was behind the times even as a Mormon. His was a cry for help from a small business man destined for bankruptcy by an arbitrary government change of rules about how many cows he could run. I know something about the mess of being in a losing business, when shutting it down would only bring all the debts due at once. And he looked upon the family-centered life on the ranch as the best life for raising kids. He actually hung on for another generation of kids.

This guy had a wife and a lot of kids. They were living in little old houses—a main house and places for helpers, who were relatives—in a cluster on the 160 acres they owned. That is a quarter section, a common homestead size in the U.S, and Canada. But what can be done with it varies greatly over the continent. The desert where Bundy lives will sustain about three cows on that much land. It's not a viable business. Nevada allowed ranchers to run cattle over great expanses of the so-called open range. Mormon desert ranchers typically needed a big herd to support the big family, and a big family to manage the herd. There would be generations of brothers-in-law and grown sons involved and living in those houses.

Twenty years ago or so, the BLM sent out the documents to pay the grazing rights for the year, including the information that the number of cows allowed was dramatically cut back. An environmental issue of saving some turtles who have apparently now made a sufficient comeback. There were at the time 52 ranchers. All but two signed, tried to make it work, and are gone. Many still live close enough and feel strongly enough to come with rifles and stand with Bundy 20 years later. Bundy was smart enough to know he couldn't make it if he signed the document. He tried to pay grazing rights fees to the county. The problem wasn't refusal to pay. It was the huge change in allotment size. Rancher No. 52, a guy named Lyons, sold his herd asap and sued the government, for not following its own rules. Finally, after almost 20 years, he won his case. But he died first. But isn't that interesting looking at Cliven? He was right about the unfairness of arbitrarily changing the allotment.

Bundy made some noises and tried to find a solution. The BLM ordered a fine of $200 dollars per day per cow, and by my feeble math that is $20,000 a day for 1,000 cows. My guess that kind of roundup would take 10 days. He was buried from the beginning. The Bundys also had some water rights due to their work to catch and preserve water. They put out salt licks for the cattle. Any wild animal, including turtles, might use them. And the turtles have since recovered. But Bundy has never been a rich man, except in kids and in-laws.

I know sometimes the government throws out huge fines, and over-charges criminally. Did they expect Bundy to settle? Is it still impossible? I think he is suffering the misfortune of being befriended by Fox News' Sean Hannity. He was a drowning man begging for help, and attracted some militia types. If there was a ranchers association, like the police association, you would think somebody would have offered him a lawyer with a plan focusing on the Lyon case, and money to live through the ordeal. Hannity hyped his cause like a right-wing nut case which was easy enough. A different kind of savior might have shown him to use the right buzzwords and negotiated an end to the war. I think any workable plan would have had his loyalty.

Now, here is where it got weird for me. I discovered how hardened the media is to just Republican versus Democrat views of the world. I phoned a local blogger, Facebook friend, who I followed closely on the same-sex marriage topic, and who got a gig with Huffington Post. I asked him how to get hooked up with HuffPo so I could send in an article on Cliven Bundy. When he found out I had something positive to say about him, he got angry about his share of the $2 million dollars Cliven owed Americans, and called him and me names and said there was no way he was going to help me. I think I was unfriended. He said to check out MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.

I did. Rachel was calling Cliven a liar and a crook. Her research department had produced a copy of a land deed going to the name Bundy in the 1940s, so he was lying when he said his family was running cattle in that area since the 1800s, before the BLM existed. Mormons do a lot of genealogy. That aspect of my background had me aware enough to catch the name of the seller: Raoul Leavitt. That is a very common last name in the St. George, Utah, area not that far from Bunkerville, Nev. Mike Leavitt was Utah Governor at the run up to the Utah Olympics. So, genealogists, if Bundy says his family has ranched in that area since the 1800s, and these are Mormon families living in ranch compounds of several households, my first guess is that Grandpa Bundy bought the land they were all living on from a father-in-law. My next guess is that Maddow's team never thought of that. She certainly repeated the idea that he owed $2 million as if he ever had it. It's not real money he owed on the allotment. It is fines and fees and court costs and probably interest. Nothing that a guy supporting that many relatives in that desert ever had.

What shocked me most about all this is that the media is as gridlocked as the political parties. If Hannity had championed him, Democratic-type writers were against him. As if all there is in the world are Republicans and Democrats. Half the eligible voters in the country didn't vote for either party. Why such tribalism? Such enmity? I think this whole thing should be settled. Show Cliven and those who are on the brink of hopeless decisions an all-American solution right out of his revered Constitution.

Thanks City Weekly for improving the commentary. We still have a long way to go.
Lee Anne Walker, JD
Cottonwood Heights

As a citizen of humanity, I'd like to take the opportunity to say: Fuck that guy.
Via Instagram

We encourage you to join the conversation. Voice your thoughts on stories posted across our social media platforms, as well as, for a chance to be featured inthis section.