(Photo: Mary Anne Andrei)

(Photo of Jane Kleeb by Mary Anne Andrei)

(Cross-posted with permission from The Ed Schultz Show blog)

Ammon Bundy does not care about property rights, public lands or the livelihoods of ranchers. Bundy is a coward, not brave. He is a car valet man, not a rancher. Bundy’s dad is a rancher. Nothing drives me crazier than people calling themselves farmers and ranchers because someone in their family works the land. Especially when they do illegal things like taking over a wildlife refuge in the name of the Hammond Family who wants nothing to do with the car valet man Bundy.

Respecting the constitutional right to property means respecting all constitutional rights to property, including the property owned by We the People of these United States. Respecting property rights means respecting property rights, pure and simple. That means standing up for family farmers and ranchers against the real land grab of Big Oil.

The Hammond family was wrong to burn Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. BLM is wrong to pile on and escalate the issue to a place it never needed to go. None of the ranchers I know would ever intentionally set fire to public land, especially land they rely on for their cattle. The Hammonds were supposedly doing a prescribed burn—something anyone who lives in rural America understands can get out of hand. But, those of us that live in rural America also know that when you do a prescribed burn you are in constant contact with the local (often all volunteers) firefighters because those men and women are often the moms and dads of your kids’ friends and you want to protect your land and your neighbors.

I understand the issues around the Hammond family and how what was a simple situation years ago got heated on both sides and how one event got stacked on to another that spun out of control with both sides needing to get lawyers. I do not agree with the mandatory sentencing that was put on a small ranching family. That lacks common sense.

I also understand that big changes must happen with the BLM, especially around the leases our government hands out like candy to oil/gas/coal corporations on what should be both wildlife areas and land to graze cattle. Public land is and should be grazed by cattle. It helps the soil health, helps family ranchers and is a public good. Public land should never be used by Big Oil, which ends up polluting the land and water, escalating climate change and in turn hurting farmers and ranchers livelihoods.

But, here is what I do not understand…

I do not understand the Bundy takeover of a government building. There is nothing courageous about taking over a wildlife refuge. There is nothing courageous about having weapons and talking all sorts of nonsense.

Bundy is now calling for a “federal inquiry” about how the government is forcing ranchers off their land. Perhaps he should start with the oil/gas/coal leases that are given to corporations that literally pollute the land and water threatening the very livelihoods of farmers and ranchers.

Maybe Bundy can convince presidential candidate Rick Santorum to work towards a federal law that bans eminent domain for private gain since both Santorum and Bundy are complaining about this “government” overreach. Farmers and ranchers are fighting off Big Oil, not Big Government from using eminent domain for private gain. If you want to take that fight on, give me a call.

Bundy needs to get his head on right. He needs to know who the real “enemy” is…it is not a wildlife refuge. It is the arm of our government that is in bed with Big Oil. That is an issue you can bridge blue/red/purple and rural/urban/suburban.

Instead, what you have done Bundy is make smart, hard-working, farmers and ranchers look like idiots and a laughing stock. Shame on you Bundy. If you hate the BLM so much, stop grazing your family’s cattle on land subsidized by our tax payer money. If you hate the “government” (which we are all part of since its We the People), then run for office to change what you see is an injustice.

But now, you have shown the world what you are Ammon Bundy–you are a car valet man that is all hat and no cattle with zero respect for the land.