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Bunkerville: A Pictorial Essay

The people woke up. The cows came home. The fascist tactics of dogs and snipers folded for the day. Cowboys are still the coolest, just like when I was a kid.


I will just call this piece "Bunkerville." The word "bunker" best conveys the siege mentality that existed at times, even if it took place in the wide open valley of sage and sky. All of the word-play titles have already been taken, a couple of dozen times each, but I still like them: "How the West Was Won," "Til the Cows Come Home." This essay will not offer insight into the issue, or perhaps convey the gravity it deserves. It is, rather, merely a recounting of being a part of a historic day that unfolds in the way things can unfold, chaotically, fueled by good intentions but side tracked by imperfect knowledge as situations swing from tense to absurd to triumphant.

Many words have already been said by those who know a lot more on this issue (and many who seem to know less but think they know more). Is it over? Is it just a trick that will be reversed by tomorrow? Who knows? Is this really about oil, about Senator Reid and family contracts, the tortoise? What do the laws say about the Bundy family's legal position? I would like a definitive answer. That won't necessarily come from the courts themselves, I think we can agree.

Bundy standoff

This is the sign that greeted me as I cleared the Virgin River Gorge and bypassed Mesquite. Was it an omen? Did my wife commission it as a reminder of my assurance that there wouldn't be any trouble and my promise to stay away from it if there was.

Bundy standoff

I was mistaken in telling my wife there would be no tense standoff, and I happened upon it just two miles later. But I was oblivious to it. Me to myself: "Wait, why are all of these people HERE on that hill. The gathering is supposed to be eight miles down I-15. Oh well, I may as well park here along these two dozen no-parking signs and see what those people are looking at down there."

Down there were a pack of police cars and a man with a bull horn yelling that we few people on the bridge were in a restricted area and would be arrested if we didn't move. Hmmm. Okay already; the BLM SWAT were just as advertised. The bull horn was cracking me up. Some kind of phallic enhancer symbol.

Well, I guess I'm some kind of real life Forrest Gump, happening upon history while oblivious to the situation I was in. It wasn't until later that I learned it wasn't the dozen people on the bridge that were being threatened, but the couple hundred people under the bridge, pushing their way through a fence. Across from them was a line of plastic-shield armored, tear-gas-launcher-armed officers.

All I'm thinking is, "If we have all these cars and people here, imagine the action taking place at the official site. I gotta get there." Sorry about the disappointing picture in a photo essay on the most powerful part of the day, but I'm telling you, that dude with the bull horn was adamant that I move.

Bundy standoff

And this was the official, announced site. It was a ghost town. What kind of protest was this with people spread all over, ambling around, no real purpose. Somewhere, surely, there was a middle ground of protesting purpose between just gathering to chill and the other extreme of dreaming of starting Armageddon then and there.

Earlier in the day, in fact, this spot had been the center of words and action. Mr Bundy had called upon the govt officers to surrender their weapons within a half hour. This does not seem to me to be an effective starting place for talks, but maybe they were just building in some room for negotiations. Surely there was a bit more to the speech that makes more sense. Please, if someone reading this has a transcript of the speech, please post it in the comments box below.

Bundy standoff

This led to my private adventure of the day. I'm thinking maybe there is another gathering onward at the actual ranchyard that my printed directions were guiding me to. In my role as a reporter, I needed to press on. Of course, I'm not a real reporter, per the definition of Senator Diane Feinstein and that insidious "Reporter Shield" law. Nope, just a blogger.

I park on a mesa and shoot the above picture, fascinated by the layers in the scene I behold, from junked cars below, to the hay and tractors of a functioning ranch yard in the middle distance, to the Palm Springs-style row of palm trees adding incongruous elegance in the distance. To the side is a batch of a dozen tents of militia gathered to "protect Bundy."

It seems I was perceived as a threat. And if the gossip that more snipers had zeroed in on Mr Bundy this very day are accurate, it is no wonder. But still. A truck comes screeching up behind me. A thirty-ish-year-old man in a flak jacket and assault rifle -- literally riding shotgun while his wife drives -- starts yelling at me to "[Blankin] get out." Whether it was my commitment to my wife to stay out of trouble, or the gun itself in the hands of the non-negotiator, I refrain from calling him Rambo and Patrick Swayze ("Wooolveriiiiiines") to his face, but I at least hazard a "We are on the same side, yo."

Conversation goes like this: Yelled: "[Blankin] get out." Me: "We are on the same team, yo." "[Blankin] get out." "We are on the same team, yo." Repeated twice more. I left, so I guess I lost that debate.

I think I am preaching to most of us that fascism must not be the tool of anti-fascists. And this is a serious fear of mine, the French Revolution syndrome. You with me on that, Citizens?

Bundy standoff

Like a little kid biking away from a fight before turning around for a final taunt, once I was away from him, I hung the camera out the window to get that photo I was craving.

I confess I ought not have been overlooking the home in such a situation.

Bundy standoff

It took nearly an hour to drive the eight miles back toward the real staging area. The police had pinched the freeway down to one lane. This did not make those passing through happy, but it does make sense in cutting the speed down.

Later, whenever I was near the road, it was interesting to hear the mix of honks and shouts of support on the one hand and occasional insults thrown out at the crazy occupiers on the other. The most interesting to me was a lady of probably seventy years old who was riding on the back of a tri-wheel motorcycle. She yelled non-grandma-becoming language that begins with an F, telling us our traffic jam had ruined her day. She was sporting two flags off the back of her bike, an American flag and an POW/MIA flag.

Bundy standoff

Groups were spread around the area, maybe a hundred or more along the freeway, a hundred or more on a hill near the cars, a hundred or more down below the bridge. By this time, the BLM soldiers had backed away and retired from the site. No one was going to be arrested over or under that bridge after all.

When they first announced the cattle would be returned, I assumed they meant someday soon. They actually meant very soon. The protesters now became celebrants and settled in for the wait. The request, respectfully made, of those below the bridge was to move out and to the side so the cattle could come through. The request made to everyone was to not cheer or otherwise spook the cattle. Despite the overwhelming male representation in this photo, there were actually many woman, and all ages were represented. It was a lot of fun meeting so many of people from all walks of life, from scary-looking dudes who ended up being nice to nice-looking grandmas who ended up being scary. I ran into high school kids I'll be teaching again Monday and ones I taught years ago.

Meeting Darin Bushman, the Piute County Commissioner who triggered the "Better have funeral plans" comment from the NV official was like meeting a celebrity in its way. Someone on an internet chat board going by Smokingman ("X-Files" allusion, yes?) at the InGunOwners.com forum must have ten thousand friends because his online shout out to Loyal 9 brought a noticeable burst. Thanks, Smokingman and others who passed on what we are doing.

As we waited, the freeway traffic was blocked to allow the BLM soldiers to enter the highway to leave the area. Eighty-two vehicles passed (some lady counted), many pulling trailers with atv's. Some of the cars were marked, others not so, and whether they were unmarked but official vehicles, or those of private citizen mercenaries, I do not know. One young man had a little dog with him who would bark and snarl at everyone of these BLMsoldier vehicles, but didn't make a peep for any other vehicles (and that is the truth).

I wish in this final picture that you could better see the flag carried there in the center of the herding cowboys.

Bundy standoff

I didn't know cows could make me cry.

When you control opinion, as corporate America controls opinion in the United States by owning the media, you can make the masses believe almost anything you want, and guide them as you please.

- Gore Vidal

Current Actions

H.R. 3361

Shackles the NSA and Secret FISA Courts: Right to Privacy / Due Process

This bill brings the secret courts to light and stops the broad collection of every piece of data from our lives.

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S. 987 / H.R. 1962

1st Amendment: Freedom of the Press

Truly a wolf in sheep's clothing, this bill is being sold as a protector of reporters and their sources, but actually limits who counts as "Press" deserving of this sacred protection and also inserts a (long) list of circumstances where the Constitutional protection doesn't really apply after all.

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2nd Amendment: Right to Bear Arms

“The UN is trying to act as though this is really just a treaty about international arms trade between nation states, but there is no doubt that the real agenda here is domestic firearms control” (Former UN Ambassador John Bolton).

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Recent Commentaries

Bunkerville: A Pictorial Essay

The people woke up. The cows came home. The fascist tactics of dogs and snipers folded for the day. Cowboys are still the coolest, just like when I was a kid.

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The Nasty Parts Exposed: NSA Chief Divulges Truth about the "Reporter Shield" Law

This bill is truly a wolf in sheep's clothing. A look into the bill's text shows that while we are told it would protect reporters and their sources, it actually guts the 1st Amendment and the protective role of the press.

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If the President Told the Truth . . .

Loyal 9 hijacks the White House press room -- video featuring Brandon Scott as "Alternate Reality Jay Carney"

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Senator Hatch's Tragic Comedy Routine

We recently sent our L9 letter to Senator Hatch admonishing him to vote to restrain the NSA. He kindly wrote back. But surely he was joking. Surely there was no way something so contradictory and so contrary to the Constitution went out in seriousness.

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NSA Exploiting Heartbleed for Years


Surveillance Network Watches ALL of Boston

"Predicts threats by itself, completely free of additional human programming, guidance or monitoring"


How Heartbleed Works

Understanding the online threat in real people's English


Treasury’s GM Stock Sale Perfectly Timed Insider Trading

Would land private trader in prison


Man Reports Own Minor Accident -- Pays the Price at Hands of Abusive Police

Man documents ongoing ordeal from American Fork, Utah


CBS Reporter Pulled Off Stories

Including Fast and Furious and Benghazi


Trick. Don't Really Watch This. 59 Minutes and Not One Question From the Press on Bunkerville

At minute 56, Carney does disparage "protesters not even from the area" and people "gathering wearing flak jackets." Oh, wait, he's talking about Ukraine. Maybe he just doesn't want to be mocked again by Brandon Scott in our forthcoming "White House Tells the Truth 2"


Senator Reid: "It's Not over"

Start watching at 1:12. Say it with a smile!


Bundy Wins, America Loses (?)

Counter programming here mostly. I disagree with so much here including main assumptions and smug tone. There are some important considerations about the darker side those looking for violence and what civil disobedience should be.


Issa Accuses Top Dem of Colluding with IRS...


Americans Spend More on Taxes Than Food, Clothing, Housing -- Combined...


Video: I Am an American

A response to the "I am a Ukranian Vid," this one shows civil rights violations and oppressive trends within our own borders.


Report: Extent of CIA Torture Documented

Despite lies to the contrary, US utilized extreme torture techniques

L9 Member Highlight

To those who think the UN Treaty could never override laws in the US: "When talking about how sometimes international law trumps even state law, one example is that an additive to gasoline was seeping into California's water supply contaminating it but California could not pass laws to remove the additive due to some by-law in NAFTA."

- KJ, Washington DC