Idaho's Labrador: Nevada rancher battling BLM should have paid his bills
In another example of his keen political instincts, Idaho GOP Congressman Raul Labrador distanced himself from Sen. Rand Paul and others championing Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.The government didn't NEED to turn this into an armed confrontation; they had other options. They didn't have to point guns at fellow Americans. So why did they choose to, instead of the other options available to them? That seems to be the most important point to me. But the media cirrus seems to focus on everything else but that.
Labrador is a tea party favorite and friend of the Kentucky senator eying a 2016 Republican presidential run. At Labrador's invitation, Paul will speak to the Idaho Republican convention in June. Bundy has been celebrated by other politicians and conservative media, most notably Sean Hannity on Fox News.
But Labrador told Ada County Republicans he has trouble lionizing Bundy because he's ignoring the rule of law in failing to pay over $1 million in grazing fees to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for running his cattle on public property since 1993.
Labrador stepped away from a chance to laud Bundy Tuesday night. On Wednesday, the New York Times reported on Bundy's comments about "the Negro" and his suggesting slavery wasn't so bad after all. Paul initially was unavailable for comment Wednesday but on Thursday issued a statement, saying, “His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him."
Apparently smelling a rat, Labrador didn't fall into such a trap when asked about the Bundy case at a candidate forum hosted by the Ada County Republican Central Committee. Otherwise he'd be joining Paul and others in damage control.
"One of the concerns I have in the Bundy case is that you have a person who appears to have been violating the law," Labrador began. "And that really concerns me because it makes it very difficult for somebody like me to speak up against what the BLM is doing.
"Because the federal courts, again and again and again, have told this gentleman that he owes money in federal grazing rights, in federal grazing permits," said Labrador, who graduated from high school in Las Vegas, about 80 miles from Bundy's ranch. "Now, he claims that he doesn't owe that money but the courts have disagreed with him."
Labrador went on to college at BYU and earned his law degree at the University of Washington.
Labrador cited the case of another Nevada rancher, Wayne Hage, who battled the BLM in court but continued to pay his bills. Late in life Hage married then-Idaho Congressman Helen Chenoweth, a predecessor of Labrador's in Idaho's 1st District. Both Wayne and Helen Chenoweth-Hage are now deceased.
"The BLM did the same things to (Hage) and when they did it to him he was actually paying his grazing permits and he was doing all the things that he needed to do," Labrador said.
Setting aside the fame enjoyed by Bundy, Labrador continued with a critique of BLM policy and mixed in a shout-out for gun rights.
"Clearly the federal government is overreaching. What I find sad — even if you agree that Mr. Bundy should have paid his grazing permits — it's really scary to think that the federal government can come in to collect on a debt at the point of a gun," Labrador said.
"That should never happen. They should have put a lien on his property; they should have put a lien on the cows; they should have put a lien on a bunch of different things. But they should never be coming in at the point of a gun and trying to take you off a property.
"And that's why — this is the difference between people who believe in the Second Amendment and who don't believe in the Second Amendment: The Second Amendment isn't there so we can hunt. The Second Amendment is there so we can protect ourselves from the government."
Labrador's answer brought hearty applause, once again demonstrating his deftness in appealing to a very conservative base without compromising his oaths to uphold the law as an attorney and a congressman.
He's long brushed off as a distraction questions about President Obama's birthplace, saying he believes the president was born in Hawaii and should be opposed on policy grounds. He's attempted to convince supporters hostile to immigration reform that a compromise would be healthy for humanitarian and economic reasons and essential for the future of the Republican Party. Labrador was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Nevada with his mother while in junior high school.[...]
The Republican Party could use more sane voices like Raul Labrador's.
And it's worth noting, that in the Wayne Hage case that Labrador referred to, Mr. Hage's estate eventually won the case against the BLM. But read the details; it's chilling. It was a long, hard and ugly battle. The judge in the case accused the federal bureaucrats of racketeering under the federal RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations) statute, and accused them as well of extortion, mail fraud, and fraud, in an effort “to kill the business of Mr. Hage.”
Mr. Hage married a congress women as his second wife, before he died. You have to wonder if he would have prevailed, without her help? Officials of the federal government wield tremendous power; they have to be kept in check, as this case shows all too clearly.
This was interesting too:
Conservative racial math can’t cancel out Cliven Bundy
[...] On Fox News, my colleague Charles Krauthammer goes further, making the point that romanticizing a rejection of federal authority often ends in embarrassment. “This is a man who said that he doesn’t recognize the authority of the United States of America. That makes him a patriot?” Krauthammer asked. Anti-government language has been a powerful rhetorical tool, but it is difficult to sever those sentiments from the neo-Confederate sentiments that trail stubbornly behind it. Maybe it is time to try to elevate a different path to conservative stardom.
That such routes might be tough to walk given the Republican Party’s recent history does not mean they do not exist. The libertarian writer Jonathan Blanks, who is a friend and a powerful influence on my own thinking, is a powerful advocate for two ideas that could be made in concert more frequently: that defenses of secession are obscene on libertarian grounds and that African-Americans have plenty of reasons to seek limits on government power. [...]