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Cliven Bundy Stands Tall!

judge him by his supporters, who want to hide behind women and children

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, April 16, 2014.

Conservatives in this country have long prided themselves on their masculine virtues, and snicker at lopsided numbers of entertainment figures, referenced as 'Hollywood', that seem to support Democratic candidates each election. They reference this as indicative of the childish values of the Democrats, who don't understand the real world of business, politics, and war. They've liked to position themselves as the adult party, the one that understands freedom and responsibility and competence and whose members and candidates radiate those values. In the past, say when JFK was denigrating Ike's understanding of war - think about that for a second - and lying about missile gaps, there was some substance to that image.

During the last twenty years, the GOP and its last president aided a shift in public perception by seeming to visualize the US and its president as a 1950's Warner Brothers TV western and quoted them or referenced iconic if fictional western American values. It was a mere continuation of Reagan's utter fantasy world in which he could not distinguish between past movie scripts and real life. Hollywood's strongest proponents in federal government have always been Republicans, mostly from California and Arizona.

They like the cowboy image, however false and misleading the image is. The American West was settled, says Garry Wills, by independent sorts looking to be federally dependent as soon as possible. The West, it turns out, was not won with the gun but by gun control laws, starting with the railroads, who demanded for easily imagined and necessary reasons that all firearms be deposited with the train employees before boarding. The land between the Rockies and the Mississippi was largely bought by the federal government and divided up for gifts to the settlers. It was a long fight before the idea of taxation to pay for railroads and military assets to protect them caught on, but it did and worked.

But to this day, the American West is emblematic of a fictional past where hardworking and heroic men and their families survived in a free market and protected their lands or range cattle against Indians, then tax collectors, then farmers with barbed wire, then environmentalists and health nuts. Every once in a while this myth of heroism grabs hold of some half-educated group of anti-federal government types and there is bloodshed or its threat.

In Nevada, Cliven Bundy has been feeding his cattle on federal land without permission or payment for years, and when federal authorities started rounding up his herd this year, he called for armed revolution and demanded that county sheriffs across the nation arrest federal officers because sheriffs are able to do that. Something. In any case, in Nevada today there are supposedly 1500 men, women, and children heroically standing up to mean Uncle Sam in an armed confrontation. This, on April 15th, when taxes were due, and just before April's high holy days of Hitler's birthday, the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombings by Timothy McVeigh, and the Waco Branch Davidians siege.

Bundy is claiming victory on Fox TV since the Federals have backed off for the moment, and although he has thrilled the writers for the National Review, they find shelter in saying the rule of law matters, and Bundy has to shape up.

The heroic Bundy supporters included a former Arizona sheriff named Richard Mack, who is a founder of something called The Constitutional Sheriffs. Mack said that the group "...considered using women as human shields if a gunfight with federal officials erupted...It was a tactical plot that I was trying to get them to use....If they’re going to start killing people, I’m sorry, but to show the world how ruthless these people are, women needed to be the first ones shot.” Really, he said this.

But suddenly, a light went on and he continued: "I’m sorry, that sounds horrible. I would have put my own wife or daughters there, and I would have been screaming bloody murder to watch them die. I would gone next, I would have been the next one to be killed. I’m not afraid to die here. I’m willing to die here.” Just not before his wife and daughters. That's his America.

About two miles from where I am is the grave of Tom Horn, a mercenary who fought in the West's last big range war up in Wyoming. Horn was executed for killing an innocent boy. Today, people want praise for such.