Yglesias Award Nominees

“The entire Bundy affair just makes the Republican Party look bad. Are all Republicans racist? Absolutely not. But many overwhelmingly came out in support of this lunatic. I think it’s an awful day for conservatives. I think we need serious reflection because we’re not going to win 2016 with this attitude, keep doing things the same old way. We have old white men saying offensive things to women and minorities, and I’m tired of it,” – Crystal Wright.

“It isn’t enough to say I don’t agree with what he said. This is a despicable statement. It’s not the statement, you have to disassociate yourself entirely from the man. It’s not like the words exist here and the man exists here. And why conservatives, or some conservatives end up in bed with people who, you know, he makes an anti-government statement, he takes an anti-government stand, he wears a nice big hat and he rides a horse, and all of a sudden he is a champion of democracy …

Look, do I have the right to go in to graze sheep in Central Park? I think not. You have to have some respect for the federal government, some respect for our system. And to say you don’t and you don’t recognize it and that makes you a conservative hero, to me, is completely contradictory, and rather appalling. And he has now proved it,” – Charles Krauthammer.

Could this be the moment when the Fox News right finally hits bottom? Nah:

And the beat goes on …

Update from a reader with on-the-ground perspective:

I live in a very pro-agriculture and ranching area of the country, and I am friends with a quite a few Republicans who are part-time ranchers/farmers, some of whom teach at our local state U, a land grant university that has the biggest Agriculture and Natural Resources programs in the state. Both my older kids majored in Wildlife/Natural Resources in that College, and even if that is the most “liberal” degree there, they’re still close friends with the teachers and the kids from all the departments. My oldest now works with our State Land Office that manages ranching, oil and gas and other leases of state lands as well as the income derived from those leases. I guess this makes me a little bit of an “insider’ on this issue, and this is what I’ve seen.

The Bundy story, at first, tugged at everybody’s heartstrings because the family farmer is truly an endangered species all over America, and anyone who cares about that–or of the quality of your environment or the health and safety of your food – is pretty sad to see that way of life disappearing. And here in the west there are very legitimate points about land and water use and the government’s land grabbing ways that both the conservative and liberal sides can agree on.  But very quickly, as the facts became known that he was basically associating with crazy militia types and was just giving a finger to the very same laws my friends obey on a daily basis – he lost all the sane people.

The ranchers/farmers I know all want the environment to be sustainable for the future and do work closely with the Feds to help that happen. They want to be able to share the land with hunters, fishermen and campers. They follow the rules about getting permission to use Federal State land and for the rotation of grazing locations; they pay their very reasonable grazing and water use fees – and still show a good profit afterwards. Yes, New Mexico has a couple of small family ranchers who are dug in righty nut-jobs that have been fighting the Federal Government on everything from wolf reintroduction programs to free ranging rights because they think they should be able to graze their cows anywhere they want in our National Forest – but for the most part, they are isolated and don’t represent the major users of Federal land.

It also doesn’t hurt that in poverty-ridden New Mexico, between the Feds PILT income and the leases paid to our State Land Office, we take in millions and millions of dollars of precious income that is channeled directly into our schools and other important public services, and everyone knows it.

The thing that gets me is that these same Republicans share almost all of my values. They’re live and let live on issues like gay marriage, abortion.  My friends think what Cliven Bundy spouts about race and his crazy political beliefs are all dead wrong. They recognize that he is a cheater and has not paid his fair share any more than the “lazy welfare recipients” he derides. Give the gridlock we’ve seen over the past few years, they totally hate Congress for it’s worthless political games and failure to do anything good anymore. They’re angry that defense of us from terrorists has turned us into a country perpetually at war and into a surveillance state.  Of course, they still blame Obama for pretty much everything, cuz God knows the President can just wave a magic wand to make the world change.  But in contrast to years past, they seem to me to be disillusioned, frustrated, a little sad, confused, and not very sure of just what the future holds anymore.

Sadly, they still see themselves as lifelong Republicans, members of a party that no longer exists to serve them, but rather, exploit their fear and sense of hopelessness in order to elect oligarchs to power. It’s like a church that you don’t agree with but dang it, it’s the church you were baptized in and all your friends and family are there so you remain a member even if you don’t follow it’s dictates anymore. I am so hoping that because this latest stunt hits so close to home, my friends take note of how despicable this party and its spokespeople are in trying to hoodwink THEM into thinking it’s only about low taxes and self reliance and freedom from government intrusion into their private lives. I keep hoping all the really decent, old-fashioned Republicans I know start taking the party back from the liars and cheats and scofflaws who control it now.