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Cliven Bundy, John Birch Society, And Koch Industries

Before Cliven Bundy, there was Wayne Hage, who did battle with federal authorities in the 1990s over land and water rights.
Cliven Bundy, John Birch Society, And Koch Industries

The John Birch Society is promising more uprisings like the one staged by Cliven Bundy and associated militias last weekend. They use typical paranoid rhetoric about sovereignty, the federal government, and E. Wayne Hage's decades-long court battle as the foundation for the hellfire they intend to unleash on federal authorities.

E. Wayne Hage v. United States

The name Wayne Hage may be familiar to those who follow militia activities, mostly because he married Helen Chenoweth, queen of the militia movement and right-wing paranoiac.

Like Bundy, Hage sued the federal government in 1991 for restricting his grazing rights and imposing grazing fees. Hage alleged that actions by the government to impose grazing fees and erect fences to prevent his cattle from crossing onto federally-owned land constituted a "taking" of his property.

Federal District Court Judge Robert C Jones ruled in Hage's favor, issuing a 104-page ruling scolding the federal government for heavy-handedness in their dealings with him.

After years of litigation, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling. Hage's estate appealed to the United States Supreme Court, but their appeal was denied in 2013 and the DC Appellate Court ruling was left standing.

Hage and Bundy Have Powerful Friends

When the Hage estate appealed their case to the Supreme Court, two "friend of the court" briefs were filed on his behalf. One of those came from the Mountain States Legal Foundation and the other from the Pacific Legal Foundation. Both of these nonprofit organizations are part of the State Policy Network, which is involved with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). These organizations are heavily funded by the Kochs and Koch-related people.

Besides the overriding principle of "liberty over everyone and everything" that the Kochs live by, could there be a more specific and self-serving reason for pushing these issues? Yes.

EPA is part of the right-wing victimhood chorus

If the EPA were abolished, Koch Industries would be free to make even more billions than they already have -- $100 billion at least -- while polluting our drinking water supply, fracking everything in sight, and laying waste to the land. It's not only the Kochs -- they're allied with Exxon-Mobil and other oil and gas interests, too.


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It is, therefore, in their best business interest to find ways to emasculate the federal government and all federal enforcement efforts. It also happens to serve their political goals by stirring up unrest and offering up an opportunity to demonize the federal government.

In other words, while the BLM is certainly the target of this case, it's really serving as a proxy for the war they'd like to mount against the EPA.

For example, Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips intentionally linked up EPA fraudster John Beale with all federal regulatory agencies, citing a US Chamber of Commerce report which alleges that environmental groups collude with the EPA to defraud ordinary citizens of their rights. Phillips, by the way, may not admit to his Birch sympathies, but one need only read what he writes to understand that he either is one, whether he's on the membership rolls or not.

All of this brings me back to the original The New American article, where the JBS promises more Bundy rebellions to come. These words jumped off the page:

And this is but one of many incidents that can be expected, because the Bundy family are not the only victims in the federal crosshairs. The BLM, U.S. Forest Service (USFS), National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and other federal agencies own and/or control hundreds of millions of acres of the 12 western states. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not as large a landlord as some of these bigger agencies, but it exercises enormous regulatory clout over both private and public lands, air, and water. And while the EPA’s draconian, arbitrary, and costly regulations affect the entire country, they fall especially hard on the states in the West, where the federal impact is already massive due to the outsized footprint of the federal agencies.

I rest my case.

It may be true that the Koch family left the John Birch Society back in the 50s, but you can't take the John Birch Society out of them. Americans for Prosperity wasn't created to compete with the JBS. It was intended to expand its capacity. In fact, I would argue that the sons rejoined the ranks of the Birchers, given the tribute on the JBS website to Fred and Koch Industries.

What we have here, folks, is yet another push toward culmination of the Birch Society's ultimate goals, which they will continue to use in pursuit of fascistic policies that do grave harm to everyone but their oligarch founders.

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