Cliven Bundy, the Section 8 Plantationist

All-American parasite Cliven Bundy. (John Locher/Las Vegas Review-Journal, via Associated Press)

You’re a shame to your ancestors, Cliven.

Though I must admit, it’s been amusing to watch your decrepit, freeloading ass roam all across the Nevada landscape, squatting on federal property for over two decades and drawing the most virulent white supremacists out of the bunkers they’ve been streaming Stormfront from. You’ve been declared a hero in the eyes of the mainstream conservative movement, getting the Kochs, the Paul clan, Sean Hannity and the rest of the Fox News sycophants to cover you and your thieving posse with nearly as much non-stop fervor as CNN’s coverage of MH370.

But as you shit-kickers are wont to do, you get comfortable with the people who are like you. Yep, soon as you think you’re in totally friendly company at those daily press conferences, that top button gets loosed, the belt buckle gets pulled up a little bit and you let it all hang out:

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”


So now you, the deadbeat–the wannabe insurrectionist who’s run up a tab to the tune of $1 million since 1993; who has been in and out of court more than a few times because you felt your “right” to graze your cattle on federal land was more important than preserving an endangered species of tortoise; not only do you believe yourself above the law of the land, but then dare to ask if Black people were better off under slavery? You, Cliven, the mooching welfare whore that sucks up the taxes I pay every year, have the audacity to demand putting us back in chains to serve you people?

Fuck that. And fuck you.

Yeah, you’ve got a lot of Republican friends that have echoed your ethos; Jonathan Capehart and Ta-Nehisi Coates (don’t start) have given wonderful reminders of who they are. But at least your spiritual ancestors, the plantation masters of the antebellum South, owned their property. The acres of fields fertilized by the blood, bones and flesh of my ancestors that amassed $10 Trillion in today’s wealth were legally held property. Hell, if you owned anything yourself, you might have actually been able to turn a decent profit…

According to the Congressional Research ServiceBureau of Land Management fees for federal lands are drastically lower than fees charged by private landowners — $1.35 per animal month-unit (AUM) versus an $8-$23 fee on private land. What’s more, the federal agencies who administer this grazing land “typically spend far more managing their grazing programs than they collect in grazing fees.” The net result is that federal grazing programs are an enormous giveaway to ranchers that carries both direct and opportunity costs for the rest of us.

But then again, Cliven, you might just be on to something. After all, this is sort of the “American Dream” you antiquated mongrels have defended since your kind migrated from the West Indies after running out of land to pillage and slaves to run through. Guess this explains the violent response perfectly, because apparently, no one tells a Southern gentleman what to do, especially the Feds:

When a Southern conservative talks about “losing his liberty,” the loss of this absolute domination over the people and property under his control — and, worse, the loss of status and the resulting risk of being held accountable for laws that he was once exempt from — is what he’s really talking about. In this view, freedom is a zero-sum game. Anything that gives more freedom and rights to lower-status people can’t help but put serious limits on the freedom of the upper classes to use those people as they please. It cannot be any other way. So they find Yankee-style rights expansions absolutely intolerable, to the point where they’re willing to fight and die to preserve their divine right to rule.

Once we understand the two different definitions of “liberty” at work here, a lot of other things suddenly make much more sense. We can understand…[t]he fervent belief among these elites that they should completely escape any legal or social accountability for any harm they cause. Their obsessive attention to where they fall in the status hierarchies. And, most of all — the unremitting and unapologetic brutality with which they’ve defended these “liberties” across the length of their history.

Cliven Bundy, you are hereby exposed. And as the Right begins its mass exodus away from you to avoid being stained by your filth (a bit too late, but nice to watch), I wonder what your ultimate fate will be. I truly hope to see you and your enabling horde brought to justice without incident, but seeing how you all took up arms against this government, it seems you are resigned to a fate much worse.

Whatever the case, just make sure you return that hat…

UPDATE: Turns out Cliven Bundy may need to repent his sins before God in his scofflaw stance against the federal government over these grazing fees. By God, I mean Ronald Reagan; 40th President of the United States, chief deity of conservatism and author of Executive Order #12548, issued February 14, 1986:

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, and in order to provide for establishment of appropriate fees for the grazing of domestic livestock on public rangelands, it is ordered as follows:

Section 1. Determination of Fees. The Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior are directed to exercise their authority, to the extent permitted by law under the various statutes they administer, to establish fees for domestic livestock grazing on the public rangelands which annually equals the $1.23 base established by the 1966 Western Livestock Grazing Survey multiplied by the result of the Forage Value Index (computed annually from data supplied by the Statistical Reporting Service) added to the Combined Index (Beef Cattle Price Index minus the Prices Paid Index) and divided by 100; provided, that the annual increase or decrease in such fee for any given year shall be limited to not more than plus or minus 25 percent of the previous year’s fee, and provided further, that the fee shall not be less than $1.35 per animal unit month.

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…”

Francis Wilkinson of Bloomberg View made an amazing point about the desperate speed with which the Right chooses their heroes, and dumps them just as quickly:

You would think, after worshipping so many false idols, that conservative leaders might temper their enthusiasm for the latest purveyor of right-wing melodrama. As my Bloomberg View colleague James Greiff wrote last week, “There is no grand principle here, just the ill-judgment of a man who has helped himself at the public trough while believing he has a right to pick and choose which laws to obey.”

He continues:

We have entered territory well beyond the reach of happenstance. It’s no coincidence that the heroic vessels in which conservatives keep pouring their varied and convoluted grievances invariably sink, never to rise again. The culture is moving fast. Changing demographics, globalization, cosmopolitanism all pose threats of one sort or another to conservative complacency. Yet each successive clampdown — against immigrants, minority voting, abortion — yields only a minimal, uneasy respite. 

And thus, the cycle continues.


Suey Park, as Dan Choi

Dan Choi Atlantic cover

He was the man who some say singlehandedly brought down the military’s policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, placing his entire person in full view of the public. Wearing the Army’s dress blues and the stare of a disciplined infantryman on the cover of The Atlantic, Lt. Dan Choi became the face of a revolution that would allow millions of Americans the opportunity to serve their country without the ostracism that would come from being who they truly were.

His was a brand of courage; the kind of “truth to power” hardly seen anymore save for one-off political speeches and movie scripts. Choi had an ability to capture the attention of the nation, and he used it often, as The American Prospect’s Gabriel Arana reported:

For 21 months—between his debut on The Rachel Maddow Show in March 2009 and the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act in December 2010—Dan Choi was not just the best-known spokesperson for the movement to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He was its emblem. A West Point graduate, a combat veteran, a fluent Arabic speaker, he was the kind of soldier the military should have been promoting instead of kicking out. In interviews and at press conferences, he was articulate and passionate, charming and funny.

“The issue needed a voice and a face to get the attention of the media, the military, and Washington,” says Nathaniel Frank, a historian at New York University and author of Unfriendly Fire, the pre-eminent account of gays serving under “don’t ask, don’t tell.” “Dan Choi had a good understanding of political theater, a passionate attachment to his role as an activist, and a strong sense of righteous anger that he was unwilling to let go of.”

That righteous anger would eventually consume Choi entirely. His melodramatic antics during a federal trial last year over a simple violation of failing to “…obey a lawful order” after he and twelve others handcuffed themselves to the fence surrounding the White House was the denouement of a period in which he began to think of himself as being bigger than the work to which he gave so much. His name now reduced to a punchline after a breakdown in open court,

…Dan wakes up most days with nothing to do. After the sun rouses him from his spot on the couch, where he sleeps under his “affirmation quilt”—fan letters are printed on each square—he takes two capsules of Hydroxycut, a diet pill loaded with caffeine, and Wellbutrin, an antidepressant used to treat bipolar disorder. Sometimes he goes for a long bike ride or works out at the gym in his building. He attends fundraisers and art openings, occasionally in uniform. Now and then, he drives to Fire Island, a gay vacation destination off Long Island. He earns a living by giving speeches at $10,000 a pop, which the Gotham Artists agency arranges for him. He smokes pot—a lot of it, he admits. “I can’t tell the difference,” he says, “between being high and not.”

To understand Dan Choi is to understand Suey Park.

And we may have dodged a bullet.

No one should fear the 23-year-old “hashtag activist”, at which The Nation’s Julia Carrie Wong hints in her headline. Rather, one should fear the erosion of good faith that Park represents, given her collaboration with Michelle Malkin, a notorious Right-winger that wrote a defense of the World War II internment camps that shames this country even now. In seeking to give space to fresh faces eager to “share their own stories”, I loathe the enabling stupidity that many in the so-called progressive media have displayed in not once mentioning this blatant malfeasance, apparently checking basic journalism skills along with their “privilege” at the door. The point Colbert made about how disgusting and abhorrent Dan Snyder’s patronizing of Native Americans with his foundation was almost completely lost, due to this woman’s desire to take a movement and make it all about herself.

Dave Zirin does an amazing job of explaining precisely why failing to focus on Dan Snyder’s deplorable behavior is not an option:

There was the time he sent a public letter to fans stating that the “Red Cloud Athletic Fund helped design the team logo in 1971” only to have it revealed that this was a lie and the Red Cloud Indian School was virulently opposed to the name.

There was the time his minions, including hall of fame coach Joe Gibbs, promoted ESPN columnist Rick Reilly’s article about Reilly’s Native American father-in-law’s love of the name. His Native American father-in-law later said that he not only opposed the name and not only had Reilly misquoted him, but his dear son-in-law had refused to make a correction. There was the time the team aggressivly promoted the endorsement of Chief Dodson, “a full-blooded American Inuit chief” who loved the name and said, “We don’t have a problem with [the name] at all; in fact we’re honored. We’re quite honored…. When we were on the reservation, we would call each other, ‘Hey, what’s up redskin?’ We would nickname it just ‘skins.’” It turned out, as Dave McKenna wrote, Dodson was “not a chief, and probably not an Indian.”

What’s even worse is that Park was never serious about getting Colbert’s show ended in the first place…

In our conversation, Park admitted that despite the hashtag’s command, she did not want “The Colbert Report” to be cancelled. “I like the show,” she said. Instead, she said, she saw the hashtag as a way to critique white liberals who use forms of racial humor to mock more blatant forms of racism. “Well-intentioned racial humor doesn’t actually do anything to end racism or the Redskins mascot,” Park told me. “That sort of racial humor just makes people who hide under the title of progressivism more comfortable.”

But hey, all’s fair in starting a “very important Conversation”, right?

In terms of dealing with important political issues, emotional outrage is an addictive, fatalistic disease that evaporates rationality and reason, setting in its place confirmation bias, solipsism, and an inflated view of self. Loss is the mark of nobility; pain is the guide by which one’s worldview is shaped in manners devoid of nuance and substance, and often translates into searing bitterness.

Like Dan Choi before her, Suey Park represents the worst of what can happen when outrage becomes the vector by which one believes fame and fortune is just one moment of offense away. Civil discourse and good faith are of the highest order when seeking to make real change in society.

Without those things, you become just another “brand” taking itself way too seriously.