A cause célèbre is a notorious person, thing, incident, legal case, or episode that excites widespread attention that interested parties often rally around to either support or oppose the “cause.” In the information age, such a cause can easily be manipulated and used by partisan media outlets to advance a political agenda by garnering public support for a policy to benefit an otherwise unpopular idea. It is beyond dispute, except among extremists panting to overthrow the federal government, that conservative cause célèbre Cliven Bundy was seized upon by Republicans and conservative media to sway public opinion against the federal government owning and managing public land.
The problem for the Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Republicans, and conservative media is that they aligned with a cause célèbre (Cliven Bundy) steeped in racism, conspiracy theories, god delusions, and a tendency for pathological lying. It is not that any of Bundy’s ardent supporters were unaware of his 67-year religious-driven racism, they just assumed the crazed Mormon would keep his hatred toward African Americans to himself; particularly while he enjoyed his notoriety as an anti-government patriot inspiring conservatives to war against America. As it turns out, if the Koch brothers, ALEC, and Republicans expected Americans to rally behind Bundy and support their attempt to force the federal government to cede its land to states for the Koch brothers, they chose the wrong lunatic for their cause.
To briefly review the real reason Republicans, conservative media, and the Kochs’ supported Bundy’s armed confrontation of federal agents executing a federal court order; one just has to consider Rand Paul’s comments when he scolded Harry Reid. Paul attempted to justify Bundy and armed militias actions as opposing government overreach and not as Harry Reid asserted “domestic terrorism.” Paul criticized the BLM and federal endangered species laws he called “government overreach, government gone amuck with this Endangered Species Act. There is a legitimate constitutional question here about whether the state should be in charge of endangered species or whether the federal government should be.” Paul, conservative media, and Republicans beholden to the Kochs contend the federal government has no right or claim to public land.
The Koch brothers’ paid ALEC to create several pieces of “model legislation” for Republican states to “demand that Congress extinguish title and government jurisdiction over public lands that are held in trust by the US federal government” such as ALEC’s “Eminent Domain Authority for Federal Lands Act.” In 2012 Utah’s Mormon governor, Bundy and ALEC supporter Gary Herbert signed “The Transfer of Public Lands Act” mandating the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management relinquish their domain to Utah Republicans no later than 2015 or the conservative Supreme Court will do it for them. It is important to remember that Cliven Bundy’s primary assertion was that the federal government had no right, or claim, to public land it had purchased from Mexico and why the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity and Republicans fell over themselves to support Bundy’s claim of “government overreach.”
Once a state seized federal government land, they were free to sell off the land to the Koch brothers to “unleash the energy” under the ground conservatives claimed the federal government had “gone amuck protecting with this Endangered Species Act” and “environmental protections” they had no authority to impose. ALEC has a wealth of legislation giving states authority to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from overreaching to prevent Republican states from flaunting environmental protections the Koch brothers want eliminated. This was why Cliven Bundy was heavily promoted as a conservative hero by conservative media, the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, and Republicans beholden to the dirty energy sector. The revelation that their “cause célèbre” was a lifelong racist put a damper on the face of opposition to federal land ownership, and as Bundy and his supporters’ lunacy continues being revealed it is likely they will rue the day they chose him as their land grab hero.
According to a reporter with Esquire, Bundy’s demand that sheriffs across America disarm and confiscate weapons from federal agents came from a revelation from god inspired by his close association with fellow Mormon and Oath Keeper Richard Mack. Bundy spoke to militia supporters after BLM officials released his cattle, and reprimanded them for disobeying the word of god that was delivered through him. Armed militias failed, for example, to follow his explicit instructions to tear down the toll booths at Lake Mead and disarm the Park Service. Bundy said, “The message I gave to you all was a revelation that I received. And yet not one of you can seem to even quote it. Here, something I delivered was inspired by God and yet we haven’t even carried it forth for even a couple of days.”
Apparently, even though armed militias stopped the BLM, they failed to do it “within one hour” as the revelation from god demanded. So, Bundy, emulating Mormon founder Joseph Smith, received another revelation. “It come to my mind real plain, and I heard a voice say, ‘Sheriff Gillespie, your work is not done. Every sheriff across the United States, take the guns away from the United States bureaucrats.'” This is the man conservatives, the Kochs, and Republicans backed to facilitate seizing federal land for the Koch brothers to mine, frack, and drill without interference from “government overreach.”
Bundy’s militia supporters are as plagued by lunacy as their patriot hero. One of Richard Mack’s Oath Keeper militiamen explained the real force behind the BLM’s mandate to manage public land. “The assumption is that the BLM is part of the federal government. The BLM doesn’t work for the government, they work for the United Nations. No one should be surprised when we find out money’s being exchanged between Harry Reid and the Chinese government.” Another Oath Keeper, an alleged self-trained lawyer, said that “federal bar-certified lawyers who prosecuted Bundy have sworn loyalty to the British government whose statutes encourage sex with clients. That’s what they do with all their clients.”
A former law enforcement officer from New Mexico lamented that “everything wasn’t against the law, way back when” as he related a hilarious story of a sheriff who was reprimanded for chaining a “carload of illegals around the necks and padlocking them to a tree” where he left them overnight. The militiaman then said it is “proven the BLM acted on direct orders from Troy and Harry Reid” according to a Fox News segment he saw “explaining how the federal government is trying to put people out of work.” Another Bundy supporter said the problem is that “Obama, a Muslim Kenyan, doesn’t let kids say the pledge in school anymore,” and another blamed regulations preventing America from being “like it was growing up in the fifties.”
The Kochs, Americans for Prosperity, Fox News, and Republicans failed to properly vet their conservative hero for their crusade to seize federal land for oil and gas unfettered by environmental and endangered species protections. Bundy as racist destroyed their portrayal of a patriot fighting for his land rights, but his delusion as a Mormon prophet receiving revelations from god defines him as psychotic lunatic. One of Bundy’s earliest supporters, Nevada Assemblywoman Michelle Fiore, said after addressing the crowd of crazies, “When you really look at this, it’s not about the environmental stuff — it’s a lot deeper than what’s coming out in the media.” She is right; it is about the Kochs, ALEC, and Republicans backing another group of maniacal conservatives as insane as the teabaggers and religious right.