From an editorial Thursday in the Los Angeles Times:
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy is being portrayed by some as a man of principle, an iconoclast who should be admired for his willingness to stand up to the federal government. But in fact hes a petty scofflaw who seems to think that he has the right to pick and choose which rules must be obeyed.
Bundy is the cattleman who grazes his herd on federal land operated by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, but unlike more than 15,000 other ranchers, he refuses to pay the associated grazing fees. After 20 years of disagreements and court battles, the U.S. government began rounding up his cattle this month. The rancher and a group of armed supporters confronted the federal authorities, leading to a standoff; the authorities withdrew.
Bundy justifies his stingy and illegal behavior with a variety of claims. One is that this is a states rights issue and that he doesnt recognize the federal government. Despite his professed disbelief, Bundy brought his case in federal court, so apparently he does recognize the federal government when he thinks he might gain something from it. But the courts repeatedly ruled against him.
The feds were wise to back down rather than allow Bundy to provoke a gunfight over his 400 head of cattle. Still, the U.S. government cannot let the matter rest there. It must return and enforce the rules. The message to the would-be Bundys of the nation must be that willful violation of laws passed by Congress and the state of Nevada and upheld by the courts will not be tolerated.
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