As the Bundy brothers and company near the end of the first week of occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon, it has been somewhat confusing as to what their demands are. We know they don't think Dwight and Steven Hammond should go to prison for arson after burning government property, but what are their long-term goals?
Ammon and Ryan Bundy are of course the sons of Cliven Bundy who, in 1993, after purchasing the appropriate permit to use government-owned land for cattle grazing for years, suddenly decided he shouldn't have to. It only took the government 20 years to react and remove the cattle. When a handful of armed protestors showed up in Bundy's defense, the authorities handled it the way all situations should be handled where people raise arms against the government: they released the cattle and ran away (Note: sarcasm). To this day, Cliven Bundy still uses the federal lands for free.
Imagine having to pay a tax to use government property. What kind of world do we live in? (Note: more sarcasm.) We pay an average of 50 cents per gallon of gasoline just to use the government-owned roads and highways. It's very common.
The thing is we live in a republic of laws. Laws are what guarantee our freedoms. As Meagan Kelly pointed out in her interview with Ammon Bundy, the Hammond brothers "had their day in court, and they were found guilty and it went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied their appeal."
Ammon Bundy quickly pointed out that he goes by the Supreme Law of the Land. Yes, there is such a thing, but it doesn't mean you can ignore the laws or raise arms against law officials or the government. It only states that the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land and all laws must conform to that. Now it's easy to find just about anything in the Constitution to make an argument for any issue, but that's not the purpose of that phrase.
But it is one heck of a great idea.
"I wasn't speeding officer. The speed limits do not apply to me because I go by the Supreme Law of the Land."
"Yes, your Honor, I did strangle her until she stopped breathing, but I go by the Supreme Law of the Land."
Imagine the look of shock on the prosecutor's face and what he must be thinking. Dang, we almost had him, but he pulled the old Supreme Law of the Land defense out of his butt.
I just don't understand what the Bundy's are doing. I grew up on Sand Mountain in the northern part of Alabama where it's mostly rural farmland. The farmers I know, if they want more land for planting or for cattle, they do something weird -- they work for it. They use their hard-earned money to purchase or rent the land. They don't expect someone to give it to them for free.
That might be a concept as foreign to the Bundy brothers as the American judicial system. But there is a word for what the Bundy's want. When a person expects something free from the government, a handout of money or land, and they think they are entitled to it just for being a citizen, that's called... welfare.
Considering they are willing, in their own words, to stay at the wildlife refuge as long as it takes -- while I can only assume someone is taking care of their homes, families, cars, bills, etc. -- I guess this is a concept they're all too familiar with.