It’s been a rough several days for Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling. The Bundy and the billionaire opened their mouths and got caught with their ignorance and foolishness on full display. Bundy at least was man enough to shout out his garbage in public knowing he was being recorded. Sterling, evidently, didn’t know his girlfriend was recording his idiotic but not-intended-to-be-public remarks. The why and wherefore of her actions are still up in the air. There’s some talk that his privacy was violated illegally, but we’ll have to wait for lawyers and judges to sort that one out. She told a CNN reporter Wednesday that she wants to be president someday.
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Bundy’s 15 minutes of fame was fueled and championed by all kinds of people but most especially those who, like him, “don’t recognize the existence of the federal government” and therefore are not compelled to obey its rules. Of course there are issues involved that reasonable people can discuss, agree or disagree on, but the Bundy caper brought out some of the least reasonable people, people who were apparently ready to shoot first and ask questions later — or maybe not ask questions at all because their noggins are already packed with everything they need to know.
Conservative pundits, especially FOX News’ Sean Hannity, jumped on the Bundywagon from the get-go and had to eat a murder of crow before it was over. Jon Stewart ragged on Hannity mercilessly when Bundy’s true colors came out. Stewart also called out the irony of Bundy riding his horse and waving a large American flag and wondered who Bundy thinks prints the money in his pocket if not the federal government — that he doesn’t recognize.
No one has come to Sterling’s defense other than maybe a First Amendment attorney who posited that his right to privacy may have been violated — a tepid endorsement at best.
Noted national security and terrorist expert Peter Bergen recently wrote that we, you and I, have much more to fear from domestic terrorists than from al Qaeda or its spawn. Statistically, there have been many, many more incidents of violence by homegrown folk who tend far more toward the extreme right wing as opposed to the extreme left wing, Bergen said. All of which puts Bundy in a much more dangerous tribe than Donald Sterling, who is an arrogant fool but not an unpredictable potential menace to society. There’s also a category that should read “deranged” but without identifiable social or political significance.
My brother the conservative told me he was listening to talk radio in Redding the other day. A “Ph.D.” guy was warning everyone to lay in a vast supply of food, water and ammunition against the time between the November election and some while after it. I asked why, of course. He said he didn’t hear all of the program but assumed that it was fear that the Obama administration (after suffering a big Democratic loss) would … something but he didn’t know what. But it had the obvious earmarks of some kind of confiscation of food, water and ammunition. The latter lest it be used to prevent the former, presumably. Toward what end, again he didn’t hear that part of it, but it was enough to rile him up.
There’s never a very clear answer for why “they” are planning to do such things. Suffice to say that “they” are surely going to and we must be very well prepared to run for the hills, protect our families from ravening hordes of those who are not prepared, and live off the land for as long as it takes. An alternative, I guess, is that we stay in place and try to gun it out with the federal armies, which can’t have much future for those who choose that route.
I’ve never understood who stands to benefit from promoting that kind of nonsense. The only ones that come to mind would be the guns and ammunition industries, survivalist stuff and maybe the camping supply houses — surely not grocery stores or water purveyors. They don’t want to rely on sudden spikes in business but would rather see a consistent, gently rising trend — the kind they get when people stay home and go about their normal business.
The level of fear and mistrust among a significant minority of people has always been a mystery to me as well. Lots of speculation and prognostication but not much fact to suggest that the federal government really “wants” to “take over,” whatever that means. Back in 2008, we heard that Obama was going to “take over” everything. After his re-election in 2012, we heard more of the same dire predictions, the end of America as we know it and love it. Hasn’t happened yet. Probably never will and that’s a good thing.
Chris Daley is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. His column appears each Friday.