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Extremism in the defense of stupidity is a vice

There was shootout last week between police officers in Louisiana and what appear to be seven individuals associated with the sovereign citizens movement. It’s the most recent tragedy in a string of anti-government attacks by followers of the ideology including Jared Loughner’s shooting spree last year. As Barry Goldwater once famously quipped, “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice”. Posse comitatus and the sovereign citizens movement should probably be viewed as an exception to Barry’s rule.

This latest attack resulted in two dead and two wounded officers in a pair of sequential shootouts starting in the parking lot of an oil refinery. Two members of the group were also wounded. One of them was a member of the notorious white supremacist-infested “posse comitatus”:

TPM
Louisiana Ambush Suspect Tied To ‘Anti-Government Group’

Nick R. Martin August 17, 2012, 5:50 PM

A year ago, he was wanted by Nebraska authorities for allegedly making “terroristic threats” to law enforcement.

By Friday, investigators said Kyle Joekel, 28, was one of seven people involved in what was being described as a pair of ambushes on sheriff’s deputies outside of New Orleans. Two deputies were killed and two others wounded before it all came to an end early Thursday morning.

According to a report by the Shreveport Times, investigators in Louisiana had Joekel on their radar for months before the shooting and believed he was part of some sort of “anti-government group.”

The details of the incident were not immediately clear on Friday afternoon, but the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the sheriff of Gage County believed Joekel was part of a group known as Posse Comitatus. The group, which was largely active in the 1970s and 80s, was seen as the precursor to the sovereign citizens movement.

“It just didn’t look right,” Sheriff Millard “Gus” Gustafson told the newspaper. “These guys would be driving around at night, and they’d have weapons on the front seat. If you’re doing that, something’s wrong — you’re either hunting illegally or doing something else.”

Posse comitatus, a far-right anti-tax/anti-government movement that doesn’t recognize legal authority above the level of county sheriff, is an especially important radical movement to understand within the context of the current economic crisis and the financial sector looting that led up to it. It emerged in the 1970’s and 80’s in rural America as a farming crisis displaced and dislocated rural communities. Not only was it a predecesor to the sovereign citizens movement and the larger collection of survivalist-oriented, anti-tax/IRS, Christian Identity far-right white spremacist underground that exists today. It was also a trailblazer in “paper terrorism” and some very strange legal theories:

The Washington Monthly
Too Weird
for The Wire
May/June/July 2008

How black Baltimore drug dealers are
using white supremacist legal
theories to confound the Feds
.

By Kevin Carey

In November 16, 2005, Willie “Bo” Mitchell and three co-defendants—Shelton “Little Rock” Harris, Shelly “Wayne” Martin, and Shawn Earl Gardner— appeared for a hearing in the modern federal courthouse in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. The four African American men were facing federal charges of racketeering, weapons possession, drug dealing, and five counts of first-degree murder. For nearly two years the prosecutors had been methodically building their case, with the aim of putting the defendants to death. In Baltimore, which has a murder rate eight times higher than that of New York City, such cases are depressingly commonplace.

A few minutes after 10 a.m., United States District Court Judge Andre M. Davis took his seat and began his introductory remarks. Suddenly, the leader of the defendants, Willie Mitchell, a short, unremarkable looking twenty-eight-yearold with close-cropped hair, leapt from his chair, grabbed a microphone, and launched into a bizarre soliloquy.

“I am not a defendant,” Mitchell declared. “I do not have attorneys.” The court “lacks territorial jurisdiction over me,” he argued, to the amazement of his lawyers. To support these contentions, he cited decades-old acts of Congress involving the abandonment of the gold standard and the creation of the Federal Reserve. Judge Davis, a Baltimore-born African American in his late fifties, tried to interrupt. “I object,” Mitchell repeated robotically. Shelly Martin and Shelton Harris followed Mitchell to the microphone, giving the same speech verbatim. Their attorneys tried to intervene, but when Harris’s lawyer leaned over to speak to him, Harris shoved him away.

Judge Davis ordered the three defendants to be removed from the court, and turned to Gardner, who had, until then, remained quiet. But Gardner, too, intoned the same strange speech. “I am Shawn Earl Gardner, live man, flesh and blood,” he proclaimed. Every time the judge referred to him as “the defendant” or “Mr. Gardner,” Gardner automatically interrupted: “My name is Shawn Earl Gardner, sir.” Davis tried to explain to Gardner that his behavior was putting his chances of acquittal or leniency at risk. “Don’t throw your life away,” Davis pleaded. But Gardner wouldn’t stop. Judge Davis concluded the hearing, determined to find out what was going on.

As it turned out, he wasn’t alone. In the previous year, nearly twenty defendants in other Baltimore cases had begun adopting what lawyers in the federal courthouse came to call “the flesh-and-blood defense.” The defense, such as it is, boils down to this: As officers of the court, all defense lawyers are really on the government’s side, having sworn an oath to uphold a vast, century-old conspiracy to conceal the fact that most aspects of the federal government are illegitimate, including the courts, which have no constitutional authority to bring people to trial. The defendants also believed that a legal distinction could be drawn between their name as written on their indictment and their true identity as a “flesh and blood man.”

Judge Davis and his law clerk pored over the case files, which led them to a series of strange Web sites. The fleshand- blood defense, they discovered, came from a place far from Baltimore, from people as different from Willie Mitchell as people could possibly be. Its antecedents stretched back decades, involving religious zealots, gun nuts, tax protestors, and violent separatists driven by theories that had fueled delusions of Aryan supremacy and race war in gun-loaded compounds in the wilds of Montana and Idaho. Although Mitchell and his peers didn’t know it, they were inheriting the intellectual legacy of white supremacists who believe that America was irrevocably broken when the 14th Amendment provided equal rights to former slaves. It was the ideology that inspired the Oklahoma City bombing, the biggest act of domestic terrorism in the nation’s history, and now, a decade later, it had somehow sprouted in the crime-ridden ghettos of Baltimore.

Note that these ideas that the US constitution negates virtually all federal laws (and most other laws) are found in the youtube videos made by Jared Loughner…along with a strange grammer obsession. Loughner sort of puts a new spin on the term “grammer nazi”.

Skipping down in the article…

A month after the hearing, Judge Davis took the unusual step of issuing a written opinion denying all of the defendant’s “unusual—if not bizarre” arguments. “Perhaps they would even be humorous,” Davis wrote, “were the stakes not so high … It is truly ironic that four African- American defendants here apparently rely on an ideology derived from a famously discredited notion: the illegitimacy of the Fourteenth Amendment.” One can understand his incredulity that four Baltimore drug dealers might invoke a racist argument that dates back to the nineteenth century. But as it turns out, that’s when the seeds of the flesh-and-blood defense were sown.

In 1878, southern Democrats pushed legislation through Congress limiting the ability of the federal government to marshal troops on U.S. soil. Known as Posse Comitatus, (Latin for “power of the county”) the law’s authors hoped to constrain the government’s ability to protect black southerners from violence and discrimination. The act symbolically marked the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of Jim Crow.

For the next eight decades, black Americans lived under the yoke of institutional racism. But by the late 1950s, the civil rights movement was growing in strength. In 1957, President Eisenhower sent 1,200 troops from the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock, Arkansas, so that nine black students could safely enter a previously all-white high school. The landmark Civil Rights Act followed in 1964.

These developments horrified one William Gale, a World War II veteran, insurance salesman, self-styled minister of racist Christian Identity theology, and raving anti-Semite. In 1971, he launched a movement whose impact would reverberate through the radical fringes of American society for decades to come. He called it Posse Comitatus, named for the 1878 law he believed Eisenhower had violated by sending the troops to Little Rock. In a series of tapes and self-published pamphlets, Gale explained that county sheriffs were the supreme legal law enforcement officers in the land, and that county residents had the right to form a posse to enforce the Constitution—however they, as “sovereign citizens,” chose to interpret it. Public officials who interfered, instructed Gale, should be “hung by the neck” at high noon.

Gale’s racist beliefs were hardly unique. His singular innovation was to devise a “legal” philosophy that was enormously appealing to disaffected, alienated citizens. It was a promise of power, a means of asserting that they were the true inheritors of the founding fathers’ ideal, a dream they believed had been corrupted by a vast conspiracy that only they could see. Gale’s ideas gave people on the paranoid edge of society a collective identity. It told them what they desperately wanted to hear: that the federal government was illegitimate, and that the legal weapons the state used to oppress them could be turned against the state.

Soon, Posses were sprouting across the country, attracting veterans of the 1960s-era tax protest movement, Second Amendment absolutists, Christian Identity adherents, and ardent anti-communists who had abandoned the John Birch Society because they felt the organization wasn’t extreme enough. Local groups would meet to share literature, listen to tapes of Gale’s sermons, and discuss preparations for the approaching End Times. This extremist stew produced exotic amalgamations of paranoia, such as when Posse members would explain the need for local militias to stockpile weapons in order to defend white Christians from blacks in the coming race war sparked by the inevitable economic collapse caused by the income tax and a cabal of international Jewish bankers bent on global dominance through one world government, for Satan.

While local Posses would periodically confront law enforcement officials in the 1970s, (usually in property disputes), they were often incompetent, and few people were hurt. But things took a serious turn in 1978, when thousands of farmers rallied in Washington D.C. seeking relief from low commodity prices, high interest rates, and farm debt. When Congressional relief attempts failed, some farmers became susceptible to peddlers of the Posse ideology, which preached that the farm crisis had been brought on by the international Jewish banking conspiracy, abandonment of the gold standard and a malevolent Federal Reserve.

It’s an important lesson we can learn from the rise of posse comitatus in the 70’s and 80’s: When governments fail to address the economic troubles facing their citizens, those citizens tend to become much more amenable to extreme nationalism and conspiracy theories, especially the existing legacy conspiracy theories of a cabal of international jewish bankers. One lesson we can take away from this is that any movement that wants to promote such theories/worldviews has an incentive to destroy the economy in order to radicalize the populace. It’s a lesson the public really needs to learn in the context of a global recession brought on by an international financial crisis because the banks haven’t been the only sectors of society bailed out in the wake of the financial crisis. A number of bankrupt political ideologies have also been bailed out by the government’s kid glove treatment of the financial sector after the obscene behavior by the banksters.

Continuing…


By 1982, Bill Gale had flown to Kansas to conduct paramilitary training and indoctrination for splinter groups of disaffected farmers. At night, a country music station in Dodge City broadcast tapes of Gale’s sermons. “You’re either going to get back to the Constitution of the United States in your government,” he intoned, “or officials are gonna hang by the neck until they’re dead … Arise and fight! If a Jew comes near you, run a sword through him.” As Posse ideology rippled across the distressed farm belt, violence followed. Several deadly confrontations between Posse adherents and law enforcement made national headlines; Geraldo Rivera descended on Nebraska to document the “Seeds of Hate” in America’s heartland. By 1987, Gale’s rhetoric had escalated further. He told his followers that “You’ve got an enemy government running around … its source and its location is Washington, D.C., and the federal buildings they’ve built with your tax money all over the cities in this land.”

Hucksters and charlatans prowled the Midwest as the farm crisis deepened, selling desperate farmers expensive seminars and prepackaged legal defenses “guaranteed” to cancel debts and forestall foreclosure. Since the gold standard had been abandoned in 1933, they argued, money had no inherent value, and so neither did their debts. All they had to do, farmers were told, was opt out of the system by sending a letter to the appropriate authorities renouncing their driver’s license, birth certificate, and social security number. That number was allegedly tied to a secret government account held in a secure subterranean facility in lower Manhattan, where citizens are used as collateral against international debts issued by the Fed and everyone’s name is on a master list, spelled in capital letters—the very same capital letters used in the official court documents detailing foreclosure and other actions against them. The capital letter name was nothing but an artificial construct, they were told, a legal “straw man.” It wasn’t them—natural, live, flesh and blood men.

Bill Gale died on April 28, 1988, three months after being sentenced in federal court for conspiracy, tax crimes, and mailing death threats to the Internal Revenue Service. By that time, the farm crisis had begun to recede. Posse ideology simmered for the next few years, morphing into the “Christian Patriot” movement, which sanded down some of the roughest racist and anti-Semitic edges while retaining the core beliefs of Constitutional fundamentalism. The patriots saw themselves as “sovereign citizens,” unlike the “federal citizens” who had been created by the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

The deadly confrontations between federal agents and extremists at Ruby Ridge in 1992 and Waco, Texas in 1993 brought latent anger with the federal government back to a boil. The militia movement of the 1990s built on Posse tenets of county- based, self-organized paramilitary groups led by citizens expressing their basic Constitutional rights. Most groups stuck with conducting survivalist training camps and filing bogus liens against houses owned by local judges. But a few did much more.

In 1993, a Michigan farmer and survivalist named James Nichols was pulled over for speeding. Instead of simply paying the fine, he argued in court that his “sovereign citizen” status made him immune to prosecution. That same year, James’ brother Terry tried to pay off a $17,000 debt with a fake check issued by a radical “family farm preservation” group run by Posse adherents. Two years later, Terry Nichols helped to bring the Posse’s anti-government hatred to its ultimate fruition. On April 18, 1995, he and a friend named Timothy McVeigh loaded 108 fifty-pound bags of ammonium nitrate fertilizer into a Ryder truck. The next day, McVeigh bombed the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people on the second anniversary of Waco.

As the above article indicates, posse comitatus is rooted in the desire to establish a white-supremacist god-ordained utopia of constitutionally mandated really really really small government. And no Jewish bankers. It’s sort of early version for the broader spectrum of militant far-right movements we’ve seen exploding across the US over the last couple of decades, including Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and his direct co-conspirators. Think of the posse comitatus worldview as sort of the John Birch Society viewed through the lens of a militant hyper-Libertarian Christian Identity neo-nazi. They’re pretty extreme but also somewhat prototypical for the hardcore ‘Patriot’ scene:

Cursor.org
Rush, Newspeak
and Fascism:
An exegesis

by David Neiwert

POSTED AUGUST 30, 2003 —

V. Proto-Fascism in America

by David Neiwert

It’s clear by now, I hope, that fascism isn’t something peculiar to Europe, but in fact grew out of an impulse that appears throughout history in many different cultures. This impulse is, as Roger Griffin puts it, “ultra-nationalism that aspires to bring about the renewal of a nation’s entire political culture.”

We needn’t look far to find this impulse at play in the American landscape — social, religious and political renewal all appear as constant (though perhaps not yet dominant) themes of Republican propaganda now. But it is especially prevalent on the extremist right; indeed, it’s probably a definitive trait.

Griffin argues that current-day fascism is “groupuscular” in nature — that is, it forms out of smallish but virulent, potentially lethal and certainly problematic “organisms”:

After the war the dank conditions for revolutionary nationalism “dried out” to a point where it could no longer form into a single-minded slime mould. Since party-political space was largely closed to it, even in its diminutive versions, it moved increasingly into disparate niches within civic and uncivic space, often assuming a “metapolitical” mode in which it focussed on changing the “cultural hegemony” of the dominant liberal capitalist system. … Where revolutionary nationalism pursued violent tactics they were no longer institutionalised and movement-based, but of a sporadic, anarchic, and terroristic nature. To the uninitiated observer it seemed that where once planets great and small of ultra-nationalist energies had dominated the skies, there now circled an asteroid belt of fragments, mostly invisible to the naked eye.19

When we consider some of the other historical traits of fascism, including those it shares with other forms of totalitarianism, then it becomes much easier to identify the political factions that are most clearly proto-fascist — that is, potentially fascist, if not explicitly so. (As Paxton argues, its latent expression will not necessarily represent its mature form.) Surveying the American scene, it is clear that just such a movement already exists. And in fact, it had already inspired, before 9/11, the most horrendous terrorist attack ever on American soil. It calls itself the “Patriot” movement.

You may have heard that this movement is dead. It isn’t, quite yet. And its potential danger to the American way of life is still very much with us.

Those who have read In God’s Country know that I conclude, in the Afterword, that the Patriot movement represents a genuine proto-fascist element: “a uniquely American kind of fascism.” Let’s explore this point in a little more detail.

As Griffin suggests, the “groupuscular” form that postwar fascism has taken seems to pose little threat, but it remains latent in the woodwork:

But the danger of the groupuscular right is not only at the level of the challenge to “cultural hegemony”. Its existence as a permanent, practically unsuppressible ingredient of civil and uncivil society also ensures the continued “production” of racists and fanatics. On occasion these are able to subvert democratic, pacifist opposition to globalisation, as has been seen when they have infiltrated the “No Logo” movement with a revolutionary, violent dynamic all too easily exploited by governments to tar all protesters with the same brush. Others choose instead to pursue the path of entryism by joining mainstream reformist parties, thus ensuring that both mainstream conservative parties and neo-populist parties contain a fringe of ideologically “prepared” hard-core extremists. Moreover, while the semi-clandestine groupuscular form now adopted by hard-core activist and metapolitical fascism cannot spawn the uniformed paramilitary cadres of the 1930s, it is ideally suited to breeding lone wolf terrorists and self-styled “political soldiers” in trainers and bomber-jackets dedicated to a tactic of subversion known in Italian as “spontaneism”. [Emphasis mine] By reading the rationalised hate that they find on their screens as a revelation they transform their brooding malaise into a sense of mission and turn the servers of their book-marked web groupuscules into their masters.

Griffin identifies this manifestation of fascism not only in Europe but in the United States:

One of the earliest such acts of terrorism on record harks back to halcyon pre-PC days. When Kohler Gundolf committed the Oktoberfest bombing in 1980 it was initially attributed to a “nutter” working independently of the organised right. Yet it later transpired that he had been a member of the West German groupuscule, Wehrsportgruppe Hoffmann. It also emerged at the trial of the “Oklahoma bomber”, Timothy McVeigh, that he had been deeply influenced by the USA’s thriving groupuscular right subculture. His disaffection with the contemporary state of the nation had been politicised by his exposure to the shadowy revolutionary subculture created by the patriotic militias, rifle clubs and survivalists. In particular, his belief that he had been personally called to do something to break ZOG’s (the so-called Zionist Occupation Government) stranglehold on America had crystallised into a plan on reading The Turner Diaries by William Pierce, head of the National Alliance.20

Conservatives have successfully re-airbrushed the Oklahoma City bombing as the act of a single maniac (or two) rather than the piece of right-wing terrorism it was, derived wholly from an ideological stew of venomous hate that has simultaneously been seeping into mainstream conservatism throughout the 1990s and since.

HN

Note that the 1980 Oktoberfest bombing in Munich was reviewed in 2011 and the bomber was indeed part of a larger neo-nazi network but the investigators intentionally ignored these links and pushed the ‘lone wolf’ story in order to avoid the political fall out for the German right-wing. It’s a phenomena frequently found (often upon later investigations) `into the many ‘lone wolf’ US domestic terrorists:

Washington Post
Behind the Lone Terrorist, a Pack Mentality

By Mike German
Sunday, June 5, 2005

The FBI has long maintained that Timothy McVeigh, who was executed in 2001 for the Oklahoma City bombing that claimed 168 lives, was the prototypical “lone wolf” terrorist and that anyone implicated in the bombing conspiracy is behind bars. But old loose ends and troubling new revelations about McVeigh’s association with white supremacist groups have led many people to wonder whether a wider conspiracy was behind the bombing that took place just over 10 years ago. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, is considering holding hearings to try to answer these lingering questions. What he is likely to discover is not a disagreement over the facts, but a fundamental misperception of how most extremist groups operate.

Most people have never been to a Ku Klux Klan rally or a militia meeting; you don’t stumble into one by walking through the wrong door at the dentist’s office. Chances are, you wouldn’t know how to find where a white supremacist group meets in your community. In fact, you’d probably be shocked to learn that there was one in your community.

I learned how extremist groups operate firsthand as an FBI undercover agent assigned to fight domestic terrorism. They don’t always call themselves the KKK or the militia; they sometimes use benign names that mask their true nature. They might wear Nazi symbols right on their sleeves, but they might not. They could be just a couple of grumpy old geezers who meet for coffee at a local cafe, or a few young punks looking for trouble, or even one guy sitting in his basement chatting on neo-Nazi Web sites. But they are all part of an underground extremist community.

Even if you could find them, they wouldn’t just welcome you into a meeting. They tend to be suspicious of strangers. They use coded language and symbols that help them distinguish insiders from the uninitiated, and they are careful to avoid infiltrators.

But every once in a while, a follower of these movements bursts violently into our world, with deadly consequences — McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, Buford Furrow Jr., Paul Hill, to name just a few. And all these convicted murderers were identified as “lone extremists,” the most difficult terrorists to stop because they act independently from any organization.

Or do they?

Tim McVeigh seemed able to find a militia meeting wherever he went. He was linked to militia groups in Arizona and Michigan, white supremacist groups in Oklahoma and Missouri, and at gun shows he sold copies of “The Turner Diaries,” a racist novel written by the founder of a neo-Nazi organization. No one finds such groups by accident. Eric Rudolph, who planted bombs at the Atlanta Olympics, two abortion clinics and a gay nightclub, grew up in the Christian Identity movement, which identifies whites as God’s chosen people and encourages the faithful to follow the biblical example of Phineas by becoming instruments of God’s vengeance. Aryan Nations, formerly of Hayden Lake, Idaho, was a center of Christian Identity thought; not incidentally, Buford Furrow worked there as a security guard before going on a shooting rampage at a Jewish day-care center in Southern California. Paul Hill wrote of the need to take “Phineas actions” to prevent abortions and was so well known that the news media used him to speak in support of Michael Griffin’s killing of abortion doctor David Gunn. That Hill later shot an abortion provider himself should have surprised no one.

The fact that these individuals, after being exposed to extremist ideology, each committed violent acts might lead a reasonable person to suspect the existence of a wider conspiracy. Imagine a very smart leader of an extremist movement, one who understands the First Amendment and criminal conspiracy laws, telling his followers not to depend on specific instructions.

He might tell them to divorce themselves from the group before they commit a violent act; to act individually or in small groups so that others in the movement could avoid criminal liability. This methodology creates a win-win situation for the extremist leader — the violent goals of the group are met without the legal consequences.

Actually, there’s no need to imagine this. Extremist group leaders produce a tremendous amount of literature, including training manuals on “leaderless resistance” and lone wolf terrorism techniques. These manuals have been around for years and now they’re even available online.

Beyond the grizzly reality that Louisiana police officers were just ambushed and gunned down by a bunch of political extremists, part of the reason that the string of attacks by the sovereign citizens (and now posse comitatus) is so topical is because both posse comitatus and the sovereign citizens are example of “leaderless resistance” and encourage the creation of both independent cells and the kinds of “independent” cells described in the above excerpt. It’s a type of “leaderless resistance” that’s become easier than ever before with the creation of the internet p(The Michigan Militia was already using the internet to communicate its message prior to the Oklahoma City bombing). And since folks can’t help but notice that there have quite a few right wing lone wolves in recent years, an obvious question for society is just how large the sympathetic community could be for these movements. As the previous article excerpt from “Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis” discussed, posse comitatus is a kind of extreme prototype for the much larger Patriot/militia movement that has ebbed and waned in the US over the past couple of decades and the sovereign citizens appear to be a sort of “posse comitatus 2.0”: a posse comitatus-like worldview stripped of much of the underlying racism with an exclusive focus on the strange legal theories. So when we see a group of sovereign citizens team up with a posse comitatus member to ambush the police it’s sort of like seeing the past and future of US far-right political extremism inhabit the same senseless act and same senseless political space. And parts of that same senseless political space is not only shared by a number of ‘Patriot’ and far-right groups with a history of violence but, increasingly the Republican Party:

Cursor.org
Rush, Newspeak
and Fascism:
An exegesis

by David Neiwert

POSTED AUGUST 30, 2003 —

V. Proto-Fascism in America

by David Neiwert


The Patriot movement that inspired Tim McVeigh and his cohorts — as well as a string of other would-be right-wing terrorists who were involved in some 40-odd other cases in the five years following April 15, 1995 — indeed is descended almost directly from overtly fascist elements in American politics. Much of its political and “legal” philosophy is derived from the “Posse Comitatus” movement of the 1970s and ‘80s, which itself originated (in the 1960s) from the teachings of renowned anti-Semite William Potter Gale, and further propagated by Mike Beach, a former “Silver Shirt” follower of neo-Nazi ideologue William Dudley Pelley.21

Though the Patriot movement is fairly multifaceted, most Americans have a view of it mostly through the media images related to a single facet — the often pathetic collection of bunglers and fantasists known as the militia movement. Moreover, they’ve been told that the militia movement is dead.

It is, more or less. (And the whys of that, as we will see, are crucial here.) But the Patriot movement — oh, it’s alive and reasonably well. Let’s put it this way: It isn’t going away anytime soon.

Note that this article excerpt was published in 2003, and the observation that the Patriot movement is “dead” has, itself, expired.

Continuing…

The militia “movement” was only one strategy in the broad coalition of right-wing extremists who call themselves the “Patriot” movement. What this movement really represents is the attempt of old nationalist, white-supremacist and anti-Semitic ideologies to mainstream themselves by stripping away the arguments about race and ethnicity, and focusing almost single-mindedly on their underlying political and legal philosophies — which all come wrapped up, of course, in the neat little Manichean package of conspiracy theories. In the process, most of their spokesmen carefully eschew race talk or Jew-baiting, but refer instead to “welfare queens” and “international bankers” and the “New World Order”.

Forming militias was a strategy mainly aimed at recruiting from the mainstream, particularly among gun owners. It eventually fell prey to disrepute and entropy, for reasons we’ll explore in a bit. However, there are other Patriot strategies that have proved to have greater endurance, particularly “common law courts” and their various permutations, all of which revolve around the idea of “sovereign citizenship,” which makes every white Christian male American, essentially, a king unto himself. The movement is, as always, mutable. It includes a number of “constitutionalist” tax-protest movements, as well as certain “home schooling” factions and anti-abortion extremists.

As I explained it in the Afterword of In God’s Country:

…[T]he Patriots are not Nazis, nor even neo-Nazis. Rather, they are at least the seedbed, if not the realization, of a uniquely American kind of fascism. This is an overused term, its potency diluted by overuse and overstatement. However, there can be little mistaking the nature of the Patriot movement as essentially fascist in the purest sense of the word. The beliefs it embodies fit, with startling clarity, the definition of fascism as it has come to be understood by historians and sociologists: a political movement based in populist ultranationalism and focused on an a core mythic ideal of phoenix-like societal rebirth, attained through a return to “traditional values.”

As with previous forms of fascism, its affective power is based on irrational drives and mythical assumptions; its followers find in it an outlet for idealism and self-sacrifice; yet on close inspection, much of its support actually derives from an array of personal material and psychological motivations. It is not merely an accident, either, that the movement and its belief systems are directly descended from earlier manifestations of overt fascism in the Northwest — notably the Ku Klux Klan, Silver Shirts, the Posse Comitatus and the Aryan Nations. Like all these uniquely American fascist groups, the Patriots share a commingling of fundamentalist Christianity with their ethnic and political agenda, driven by a desire to shape America into a “Christian nation.”22

Griffin, in The Nature of Fascism, appears almost to be describing the Patriot movement two years before it arose, particularly in his description (pp. 36-37) of populist ultra-nationalism, which he says “repudiates both ‘traditional’ and ‘legal/rational’ forms of politics in favour of prevalently ‘charismatic’ ones in which the cohesion and dynamics of movements depends almost exclusively on the capacity of their leaders to inspire loyalty and action … It tends to be associated with a concept of the nation as a ‘higher’ racial, historical, spiritual or organic reality which embraces all the members of its ethical community who belong to it.”

The Patriot movement certainly is in a down cycle, and has been since the end of the 1990s. Its recruitment numbers are way down. Its visibility and level of activity are in stasis, if not decline. But right-wing extremism has always gone in cycles. It never goes away — it only becomes latent, and resurrects itself when the conditions are right.

And during these down periods, the remaining True Believers tend to become even more radicalized. There is already a spiral of violent behavior associated with Patriot beliefs, particularly among the younger and more paranoid adherents. As Griffin suggests, we can probably expect to see an increase in these “lone wolf” kind of attacks in coming years.

But there is a more significant aspect to the apparent decline of the Patriot movement: Its believers, its thousands of footsoldiers, and its agenda, never went away. These folks didn’t stop believing that Clinton was the anti-Christ or that he intended to enslave us all under the New World Order. They didn’t stop believing it was appropriate to pre-emptively murder “baby killers” or that Jews secretly conspire to control the world.

No, they’re still with us, but they’re not active much in militias anymore. They’ve been absorbed by the Republican Party.

They haven’t changed. But they are changing the party.

Once again, note that the above article was published in 2003. It’s been nine long years since the above observation that the GOP had already absorbed the ‘Patriot’/militia movements of the 90’s and what a nine years it’s been. Now, it’s important to reiterate that you average GOP member would probably find the sovereign citizens to be absolute lunatics and posse comitatus to repugnant at best. At the same time, it’s important to reiterate that posse comitatus, the sovereign citizens, the general ‘Patriot’ movement all share a common underlying John Birch Society-style conspiratorial worldview. And it’s a conspiratorial worldview increasingly shared with the Tea Party base. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a good conspiracy theory, but this is bad mojo:

IREHR
Tea time with the posse: Inside an Idaho Tea Party Patriots conference
Written by Devin Burghart
Monday, 18 April 2011 10:02

A year ago, Pam Stout, a soft-spoken 67 year-old retiree from Bonners Ferry, Idaho was featured in the New York Times and asked to appear on the David Letterman show. She performed swimmingly, and portrayed the Tea Party as a wholesome movement of Middle Americans concerned about issues like TARP and health care reform.

An inside look at a recent Tea Party event organized by Stout shows a very different side of the Tea Parties, and highlights a disturbing direction taken by many local groups.

Little talk of repealing “Obamacare” or of modifying objectionable provisions of healthcare legislation took place at Stout’s “Patriots Unite” event, held March 26. The impending possibility of a government shutdown due to an impasse over the budget was hardly mentioned. Nary a word was spoken about bailouts or taxes. Instead, speakers at this Tea Party event gave the crowd a heavy dose of racist “birther” attacks on President Obama, discussions of the conspiracy behind the problem facing America (complete with anti-Semitic illustration), Christian nationalism, anti-environmentalism, and serious calls for legislation promoting states’ rights and “nullification.”

Stout, the Idaho state coordinator for Tea Party Patriots attracted around seventy Tea Party activists from Idaho, Montana, and Washington to the Coeur D’Alene Inn for the conference. The goal: to bring isolated Tea Party groups together. Originally scheduled as a two-day conference, Stout noted that the event was shortened because, “our workshop presenters are still in Wisconsin” presumably engaged in Tea Party anti-union organizing efforts.

States’ Rights and Nullification

What Shea proposed is called the doctrine of nullification, part of the secessionist states-rights position which argues that individual states can unilaterally refuse to follow or enforce federal law they don’t agree with, or even abandon their relationship with the federal government completely if they’d like. These beliefs underlay the Confederates states’ rationale for seceding during the Civil War era, and also undergirded the defense of “legalized” Jim Crow segregation in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, thanks to the Tea Party surge, this set of ideas has moved back into the mainstream.

The John Birch Society and Anti-Semitism

After a short break, Leah Southwell, the national development officer for the John Birch Society (JBS) took the stage. She made sure to point out one of the Birch organizers in the house, Dale Pearce, from Nampa. Southwell also introduced her colleague Robert Brown, the Birch Society organizer for the region.

The John Birch Society has been part of the far-right since its founding in 1958. It has promoted a number of anti-communist conspiracy theories over the years, but its members occasionally veer off to advance more directly racist or anti-Semitic ideas. As a result of the Tea Party upsurge, the Birchers have found a more ready audience willing to buy what they are selling. That was the case in Idaho during this conference.

Brown’s did a PowerPoint presentation with a collection of slides entitled “The Power of 500.” It attempted to convey a diagnosis of “the root of the problem” facing America. But in actuality, his speech was like a far-right version of the on-line game Mad Libs – a fill-in-the-blank conspiracy with culprits left to the audience members imaginations.

Some in the crowd took it upon themselves to start shouting out answers. “The Trilateral Commission,” yelled one man. “The Council on Foreign Relations,” blurted another. “The Bilderburgers,” declared a third. Brown didn’t dissuade any of their suggestions; instead he just kept hinting that the real root of the problem was bigger and more ominous.

Brown credited the John Birch Society strategy with “real change,” citing policies in Oklahoma such as a law prohibiting a NAFTA superhighway passing through the state, and a statute prohibiting use of Sharia law.

“The only thing that works is the John Birch Society approach,” Brown told the audience. While admitting the big Tea Party rallies of 2009 were a “big shot in the arm to the freedom movement,” Brown calculated that the money spent to get people to those rallies would be better spent hiring organizers (presumably Birch organizers) in every congressional district.

During the question session, a radio host from Sandpoint said, “The Birch Society used to be the whipping boys and laughing stocks of the movement. How do we get beyond getting blackballed?

Brown said that “repeat exposure” to John Birch Society ideas was the key. It took him a while to get comfortable with the Birch Society, too, he confessed. He then went on to try to again link the Birchers and the Tea Parties, claiming that the way they attack the JBS is similar to the way they try to smear the Tea Party. “When you’re getting flack, you know you’re over target,” he exclaimed, to the delight of the audience.

Over lunch, many of the attendees expressed their pleasant surprise at the at Brown’s presentation and his approach. “I thought… “ahh, those Birchers…,’” noted one attendee, “but now I have a different opinion.”

Robert Brown (the John Birch society representative quoted above) was quite right when he advocated repeat exposure as the best technique for the John Birch Society to move past getting blackballed by the larger conservative movement. Repeat exposure to their worldview has worked wonders for the Birchers with the larger conservative movement. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the chief architects for the Tea Party and the contemporary GOP have a long history with the John Birch Society:

Examiner.com
Tea Party Blood Ties: The reemergence of the John Birch Society in 2012

2012 Politcs
August 19, 2012
By: Gregory Boyce

In the mind of most liberal thinking Americans who stand staunchly on the side of America’s struggling 99%, there isn’t an ounce of doubt that tens of millions of fellow hard working and well-meaning Americans who religiously cast their ballot as “Republicans” are in reality being brainwashed, hoodwinked and manipulated by the new {but not improved} John Birch Society and their rambunctious “grandchildren”,… The Tea Party.

This insidious manipulation to dupe moderate Republicans into believing “America and freedom” is under siege by Socialism and Communism is being orchestrated by well-spoken, well-groomed and well-paid ultra-conservative politicians. Their “game” is to create in the mind of White voters a strong belief that America’s White European heritage is under attack and if gone unchallenged, White American culture will go the way of the dinosaur.

Historians and older Americans have heard this rant before, it’s not new, indeed, creating boogeymen while simultaneously selling fear and hatred is an ancient tactic that is often used by power-hungry humans.

The John Birch Society is an American far-right political advocacy group that vehemently supports an anti-communist, limited government, and “personal freedom” political platform, even if accomplishing their objective comes at the expense of wrongfully smearing Americans who stand up for civil rights, labor unions, a diverse America and the limiting of big business’ influence in our government and in our lives. It was the John Birch Society that branded American General and President, Dwight D. Eisenhower “an agent of Communism.” Even JFK was accused by the John Birch Society as being a Communist sympathizer and an American traitor. Members simply believe that absolutely no one (that is targeted) is above their smear campaigns and their modern day “Salem Witch Hunts”.

The John Birch society warned in a recorded 1963 speech that still survives on tape in a University of Michigan archive, that “Americans must always be on high alert against a takeover of America in which Communists would infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until eventually the office of the presidency is occupied by a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.”

In essence this exact same speech can be heard at Tea Rallies across America in 2012.

The ultra-conservative mantra of “The Communists are out to get you” was sung by the Birch Society in 1958 and fifty years later it’s still being sung by the Tea Partiers in the 21st century. The John Birch Society and the Tea Party, “two peas in a pod” or again, is it all just a coincidence?

“Behind the velvet curtains”, Koch family foundations have contributed tens of millions of dollars to Dick Armey’s “Freedom Works” which in turn serves as a major sponsor to the Tea Party. Tax records indicate that from 1998 to 2008, Koch-controlled foundations have donated more than $196 million to its conservative foundations and institutions.

With the coupling of free 24/7 media exposure from Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News empire and the seemingly endless supply of money from David and Charles Koch, the Koch-Murdoch collaboration is an ultra-conservative force that has used talented “actors” to build / prime a political base that is inspired by a fear of an America that doesn’t resemble a Norman Rockwell painting.

When David Koch ran to the political right of Reagan as vice president on the 1980 Libertarian ticket, he campaigned for the elimination of Social Security, welfare and federal regulatory agencies. He also campaigned on abolishing the F.B.I., the C.I.A., and public schools. Sounds familiar?

Oh…and by the way….

Koch Industries, based out of Wichita, Kansas, began with oil exploration and drilling in the 1930s and now manufactures a vast variety of industrial products. From Dixie cups to Lycra, – a synthetic fiber known for its exceptional elasticity – Koch Industries have made the Koch brothers billionaires and like their father, Fred C. Koch, they view the world in ultra conservative “hues.”

Fred Koch, a MIT graduate was a founding father of the John Birch Society and was among a select group of ultra conservatives that was chosen to serve on the John Birch Society’s top governing body.

Another coincidence? We don’t think so.

The takeover of the GOP by the Tea Party is now a well established political reality in the US, as is the primary sponsorship of the Tea Party by the billionaire Koch brothers. But as the above article points out, a takeover of the GOP by the Tea Party is, in effect, a takeover of the GOP by the John Birch Society. Or at least by the general “there’s a commie hiding under you bed”-worldview held by the Birchers (note that the anti-communist views of the Kock brothers is somewhat ironic). Unfortunately, because the John Birch Society shares so much ideological overlap with movements like posse comitatus and the sovereign citizens, the recent surge in the popularity of far-right conspiracy theories also means there’s going to be an inevitable increase in general exposure to violent radical anti-government movements like posse comitatus. It’s just a mouse-click away these days.

Now, to be sure, we should not equate the Tea Party members with posse comitatus or the sovereign citizens. The vast majority Tea Party members may hold a really really really conservative political perspective. What makes the rise in the number of attacks by sovereign citizen cells so disturbing is that it’s a sign of the inevitable: The vast vast majority of individuals currently “drinking the Tea”, so to speak, are simply very conservative Glenn Beck fans. While they might dream of some pretty radical overhauls of society, they would still never share the kind of ultra-radical visions of society by the sovereign citizens, posse comitatus or any of the other radical fringe groups that share that Bircher worldview. And as Jared Loughner demonstrates, the appeal of the sovereign citizens is not limited to the right-wing, especially when mental illness is involved.

The threat of violent radicalism of the posse comitatus variety is nothing new. Timothy McVeigh and Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolf took the political grievances to the same violent “next level” of in the 90’s and both were steeped in the kind of “leaderless resistance” violence characterized by posse comitatus. And that “leaderless resistance” form of “political activism” is still very much in the fringe. But with estimates of up to 100,000 ‘hard core’ sovereign citizen adherents and as many as 200,000 “dabblers” in the ideology we unfortunately should expect a growing percentage of unhinged and/or desperate individuals to become immersed in the sometimes violent underworld of far-right quasi-anarchist/quasi-fascist extremism in coming years. Many ideas that would have considered the sole domain of conspiratorial militia groups are now acceptable “red meat” suitable for public consumption so a lot of memes pushing the next Jared Loughner are simply part of the din of the daily discourse. For instance, in addition to the general “President Obama is a Kenyan Muslim Socialist” refrain, there’s the “Obama is secretly planning on implementing ‘Agenda 21’ in order to turn us into a globalist communist hell hole” meme. And that’s pretty much the John Birch Society/’Patriot’ movement rebooted:

Think Progress
Republican Party Officially Embraces ‘Garbage’ Agenda 21 Conspiracy Theories As Its National Platform

By Stephen Lacey on Aug 15, 2012 at 2:08 pm

If you want to understand just how extreme and conspiratorial many in the “mainstream” Republican party have become, look no further than a resolution on Agenda 21 passed quietly in January.

Agenda 21 is a completely non-binding international framework for sustainability passed in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit. The framework, which sets out very loose aspirational goals for making communities more efficient and less carbon-intensive, was signed by then President George H.W. Bush and later upheld by Presidents Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush.

Since the framework was adopted, right-wing conspiracy theorists have pushed bizarre theories about Agenda 21 being a central tool for the United Nations to create a one-world government and take away the rights of local property owners. In recent years, elevated by the megaphone of extreme pundits like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, these conspiracies made their way into mainstream politics. Today, Agenda 21ers — many affiliated with the Tea Party and the John Birch Society — are peddling fears about Agenda 21 in order to stop basic efficiency and renewable energy programs on the state level.

Conspiracy theorists active in politics have called Agenda 21 “socialism on steroids” that would cause Americans to be “herded into centers like the UN wants.”

So what do these historically-challenged and completely inaccurate claims have to do with the Republican party? The Republican National Committee has officially adopted these conspiracy theories as its national platform. In January, the RNC adopted a resolution calling Agenda 21 “insidious” and “covert.”

The United Nations Agenda 21 is being covertly pushed into local communities throughout the United States of America through the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) through local “sustainable development” policies such as Smart Growth, Wildlands Project, Resilient Cities, Regional Visioning Projects, and other “Green” or “Alternative” projects

The Republican National Committee recognizes the destructive and insidious nature of United Nations Agenda 21 and hereby exposes to the public and public policy makers the dangerous intent of the plan.

Interestingly, Agenda 21 activist Victoria Baer is a big supporter of Florida Tea Partier Ted Yoho, a man who unseat Republican Representative Cliff Stearns in a major upset during a primary race yesterday. Along with supporting the Agenda 21 conspiracy, Yoho also believes we should abolish the Department of Energy — the agency tasked with protecting our nuclear waste and nuclear weapons arsenal.

This is where the mainstream Republican party is headed.

So what are the origins of this bizarre shift in policy? And why have Agenda 21 activists gained such prominence within mainstream politics?

To explore the issue, I spoke with Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Potok has been tracking the rise of the Agenda 21 movement, which is rooted in the John Birch Society — a radical right-wing group that opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because they said it infringed on states’ rights. But Potok says that the issue is much broader than one single conspiracy and one single group.

Stephen Lacey: Many folks within the Agenda 21 movement have come from or are loosely aligned with the John Birch Society. So give us some background, what is the John Birch Society, how did it get formed, and what does it represent today?

Mark Potok: Well, it’s no surprise that it’s the John Birch Society that seems to be the primary pusher of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory. I say that because they are most infamous, really, for two things. One is accusing President Eisenhower of being a “Communist agent,” which was a surprise certainly to Eisenhower. And the other, which is perhaps more like Agenda 21, is for their promotion of the idea that putting fluoride in drinking water is a plot to convert our children and all the rest of us to Communism. In other words, this is an organization that from the very beginning has touted completely ludicrous and baseless conspiracy theories. And, in fact, the John Birch Society was essentially driven out of the Conservative movement because it was such an embarrassment.

SL: But they’ve made a resurgence in recent years. What do they represent today? How are they becoming aligned with supposedly more mainstream Conservatives? And how have they regained a foothold in politics?

MP: It is hard to understand exactly how the John Birch Society has made itself more palatable to “mainstream” conservatives. The John Birch society began to reappear in a fairly significant way back in the 1990s when virtually every gun show in America, or every large gun show, had a booth with the organization. Back then, they were very heavily promoting the militia movement, as well as various conspiracies they believed the federal government was involved in. Then they sort of went quiet with the rest of the militia movement, which more or less petered out at the end of the 1990s. And in the last few years they have suddenly reappeared with quite remarkable success.

So the real answer to your question is that I do not quite understand how the John Birch Society has gotten so many city councils and county commissions and even state legislatures to listen to their nonsense. But they have. I suspect that it is related less to them having a huge amount of money or enormous numbers of people, and more to do with the idea that we’ve become so polarized politically as a nation that this kind of tripe really sells today. You know, what is most astounding of all is that the Republican National Committee has adopted oppositions to Agenda 21 as a core part of its platform and has asked that Mitt Romney include it as a part of his convention platform when the GOP convention gathers later this month.

SL: Well, let’s get into Agenda 21 more. For people who are paranoid about the UN promoting a One World Government, this is a gold mine for conspiracy theories. How has this group evolved and become more vocal?

MP: This is very similar to what we see going on with regard to arms control, gun control. The fact is, Barack Obama has done literally nothing on gun control except to allow further loosening of gun regulations to go forward — for instance, to allow people to open carry weapons in National Parks. And yet, there are groups out there that say that as soon as he is reelected — if in fact that happens — he will grab all Americans’ weapons and throw anyone who resists into concentration camps that have been secretly built by the government.

I think what’s happening with Agenda 21 is something very similar. There is an enormous, enormous amount of misinformation and plain foolishness being touted in the political mainstream as fact. We live in an era in which a Congresswoman [Michele Bachmann] is perfectly happy to accuse someone in the Department of State, with absolutely no basis whatsoever, of being an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood. My own Congressman, Spencer Baucus, from the middle of Alabama, has claimed that he personally knows that there are 17 Socialists secretly in the Congress. Alan West, another Congressman, said the other day he knew of 70 Communists in the government.

So, you know, this is the kind of garbage we are seeing every day now. And this has been going on for quite a little while. Let’s not forget that a candidate for President of the United States, Sarah Palin, just a few years ago, suggested that the President’s attempts to pass some kind of national healthcare plan, or extension of healthcare to more people in this country, was actually a plot to set up Death Panels to decide whether your and my grandmothers would live or die. So I just think that we live, sadly enough, at a time where conspiracy theories are pretty much destroying any kind of reasonable political dialogue in this country.

SL: You point to political partisanship as a main factor. But as you look throughout history at how conspiracy theorists and hate groups have grown, what other conditions need to be in place to make these theories so prevalent?

MP: I think that what is really going on is that the world is changing. And in our country, we’re seeing change in fairly dramatic ways. So, you see these kinds of crazy theories pop up at a time when major changes are a foot in our society — changes that really cause people to struggle, that make a significant number of people out there genuinely uncomfortable.

There are many things happening right now. Probably the most significant is that we, as a country, are losing our white majority. The census bureau has predicted that whites will fall under 50 percent of the population by the year 2050. Well, you know, that’s an enormous change. It’s already happened in California 12 years ago. And as a result, the politics of that state changed significantly. So it’s those kinds of changes, along with the very serious dislocations caused by economic globalization and by the kind of decline in the power of the nation state.

If the Agenda 21 “UN communist takeover of the US” stuff adopted by GOP seems a little too arcane for most people to latch onto, what we just saw coming from a judge in Texas should adequately clarify that meme for public consumption:

TPM
Texas Judge Warns Of ‘Civil War, Maybe’ If Obama Wins
Nick R. Martin August 22, 2012, 3:26 PM

Updated: August 22, 2012, 4:08 PM

Texas Judge Tom Head is worried about what might happen if President Obama wins reelection in November. There could be riots, unrest or a “civil war, maybe,” he told a local television station this week.

Because of that, the Lubbock County judge has decided the only way to prepare is to increase taxes to help beef up local law enforcement.

“I’m thinking worst case scenario now,” Head said during an appearance on FOX 34 in Lubbock. “Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war, maybe. And we’re not talking just a few riots here and demonstrations, we’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy.”

The judge spun the elaborate conspiracy theory while calling for a 1.7 cent hike per $100 on property taxes in Lubbock County, a measure being considered by the commission there. He said he feared Obama would hand over sovereignty of the United States to the United Nations and the unrest would naturally follow.

Head’s role as judge is an elected position akin to executive of the county commission, which is known as a court. He presides over commission meetings, prepares the budget and is in charge of the county’s emergency management.

Under Head’s theory, the United Nations would then send in peacekeeping troops to try to quell the violence and that’s where he would draw the line. He vowed to stand in front of the county’s armored vehicle and stare down the U.N. troops if that happens.

In keeping with “UN takeover meme”, we also find the chairman of the House Oversight Comittee pushing the classic “the government is plotting to take your guns away so it can forcibly implement a secret global communist agenda” meme:

LA Times
Targeting Eric Holder, Darrell Issa buys into gun nut delusions

By David Horsey

June 22, 2012, 5:00 a.m.

The brouhaha over Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. and the contempt of Congress charge brought by U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) are providing new evidence that the lunatics are running the Republican asylum.

Issa, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, would have us believe President Obama’s assertion of executive privilege in the dispute — “an eleventh-hour stunt,” he called it on Fox News — is part of a White House cover up of something much more sinister.

At issue are Justice Department documents related to a botched Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operation run out of the bureau’s Phoenix office. As the ATF had done at least twice during the administration of George W. Bush, Operation Fast and Furious allowed illegal purchases of about 2,500 guns so that agents could follow the trail of the firearms to drug gangs in Mexico. In the event, the Phoenix team lost track of the guns, only to have a couple of them turn up after a firefight in which Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed.

When Congress began looking into the failed operation, the Phoenix office made things worse by providing false information to the DOJ that was then passed on to the investigating committee. Now, the committee wants every document related to the incident. Holder, backed by the president, is refusing to give Congress complete access.

In response, conservative bloggers have gone ballistic about Obama’s invocation of executive privilege, comparing it to Richard Nixon’s Watergate cover-up.

Just what is being covered up is not so apparent, at least to objective observers. But less-than-objective right-wing conspiracy theorists have a ready answer: Operation Fast and Furious was part of an elaborate plot to undermine the 2nd Amendment and take away citizens’ guns.

Michael Vanderboegh, a blogger with militia ties and a long history of talking up armed resistance to the government, asserts that the ATF purposely let the guns go to the bad guys in Mexico so that, after the ensuing bloodbath, the feds could justify a crackdown on assault weapons and gun shows.

Now, to rational human beings, that may sound totally ludicrous, but not to the folks at Fox News. They have made Vanderboegh a prime source for their coverage of this dispute, being elastic enough in their measure of qualifications to identify him as an “online journalist.” It’s not just Fox News, though. Vanderboegh’s curious theory has been picked up and repeated by Republican members of Congress, including Iowa’s previously sane Sen. Charles E. Grassley who, in a TV interview, echoed the idea that Obama and Holder could be using the Phoenix fiasco to build a case against gun rights.

This fits in with the broader conspiracy theory of Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Assn. The NRA boss has insisted that the reason Obama has done nothing to harm the 2nd Amendment in his first term is so he can win another four years in office, at which point his administration will start confiscating guns with no fear of retribution from voters. According to LaPierre, Obama is not taking your guns now so he can take them later.

And then there’s the mainstreaming of ironically militant “pro-life” politics:

TPM
Sheriff Candidate OK With Deadly Force To Stop Abortions

Nick R. Martin August 22, 2012, 7:07 PM

Frank Szabo wants the people of Hillsborough County, N.H., to know that if they elect him as sheriff this year, he will do whatever it takes to stop doctors from performing abortions — even if that means using deadly force.

In an interview on Wednesday with local television station WMUR, Szabo said he believed sheriffs were granted special powers under the Constitution. That means, he said, he would be empowered to arrest or even use deadly force against doctors for providing legal abortions for women.

“I would hope that it wouldn’t come to that, as with any situation where someone was in danger,” Szabo said. “But again, specifically talking about elective abortions and late term abortions, that is an act that needs to be stopped.”

He clarified it did not apply to cases in which the mother’s life was in danger. “That’s a medical decision. That’s out of the area I’m talking about,” he said.

It’s not clear what kind of chance Szabo has at winning the race. He claims endorsements from Jack Kimball, the former chairman of the state Republican Party, as well as multiple tea party groups. But WMUR reported that the state’s House speaker was already calling for Szabo to drop out of the race after his comments surfaced.

Szabo said he believed sheriffs are given enormous authority under his interpretation of the Constitution. When pressed about what he would do if a prosecutor declined to charge a doctor he arrested, he said the answer was simple.

“If they choose not to do their duty and uphold the Constitution,” Szabo said, “they can be brought up on charges before what’s called a citizen’s grand jury, which is something that’s not that common in the United States. But again, it is something based in common law that’s within the purview of the county sheriff.

On top of the militant “pro-life” stance did you catch the posse comitatus lingo? “Special constitutional powers” for county sheriff’s and “citizens’ grand juries”? That certainly sounds familiar. Now, given that Mr. Szabo apologized and retracted his statements, it might be easy to write off most of these fringe examples of extremism that don’t represent the political mainstream. But that would ignore the reality that contemporary mainstream politics appears to be focused on the definition of “legitimate rape” within the context of abortion restriction exemptions. It would also ignore the reality that Mr. Szabo appeared to be willing to temper his abortion opposition when the health of the mother was a risk, which is less extreme than Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s long-standing stance on the topic. In other words, once Szabo retracted his position on the use of lethal force against abortion providers, his stance on the topic appeared to actually be less extreme than the GOP’s Vice Presidential candidate. And that’s just on example of the crazy state of affairs in US politics.

Returning to the topic of the growing number of attacks on government and law enforcement by by a cell of sovereign citizens led a posse comitatus member, what are we to make of such a situation when the national meta-discourse has started to resemble a John Birch Society gathering? Well, for starters, it will do absolutely no good to simply refute all aspects of this Bircher-esque worldview. Asserting that government conspiracies can’t/don’t take place or that there isn’t a long history of egregious behavior by power international financial interests is both stupid and wrong. Bogus conspiracy theories can and should be addressed and refuted (usually fairly easily). Sadly, the best messengers for refuting this ‘Patriot’/militia worldview would be the leaders from within the conservative movement itself and that’s not very likely to happen anytime soon.

So, can anything be done about the ongoing and growth and mainstreaming of this sector of extremism? Well, one positive approach might be to celebrate the march of progress. After after, the US may be once again in the midst of some form of hysteria and neo-McCarthyism, but when the top neo-McCarthyites in congress are Alan West and Michelle Bachmann pushing these Bircher memes at least we can celebrate the far-right’s steps towards a post-racial/gender-neutral form of far-right nuttiness. There was never any reason why far-right fringe politics in the US would have to retain its racist tenor and it appears that the next generation of “sovereign citizens” really will encompass a more post-racial attitude. It may not be much, but it’s something:

The Daily Beast
The Patriot Movement’s New Bestseller Tests Their Anti-Racism
Jun 8, 2012 4:19 PM EDT
J.M. Berger

Years after the racism of The Turner Diaries inspired Timothy McVeigh, the Patriot Movement has embraced a new bestselling series. J.M. Berger reads closely to see what they say about race and government in America.

An American Nazi Party volunteer recently produced a three-minute online video promoting the group’s platform. It spotlighted issues like the national debt, gas prices, domestic oil drilling, and America’s wars.

Almost as an aside, it mentions affirmative action. And despite some provocative imagery, the video never mentions the words Jew or black, or any related ethnic slurs. A white nationalist blogger praised the video for not “spamming people with inane Holocaust statistics or endless dry arguments over whether or not gas chambers existed.” Many militia groups now explicitly tell would-be members that they can’t also belong to a hate group.

Racism just doesn’t sell like it used to.

The paint is peeling on the mythical age of white hegemony that once provided a strong backbone for the Patriot movement, a diverse collection of loosely connected anti-government groups and ideologies that motivated Timothy McVeigh and many others.

Groups under the Patriot umbrella have often, but not always, embraced racial politics. The movement’s origins were heavily influenced by racist activists such as white nationalist William Pierce, author of the infamous 1978 novel The Turner Diaries, a dystopian novel about a racist revolution, which inspired a slew of imitators and successors.

Since the 1990s, some within the movement have tried to sideline or redefine its racial politics—whether out of sincere conviction or to avoid an inconvenient stigma—and focus on other issues such as gun rights, survivalism, individual liberties, traditional morality, and Constitutional hyper purity.

This process has gone far enough to suggest the outlines of what a post-racial Patriot movement might look like. Consider Enemies Foreign and Domestic, a Patriot-themed novel self-published by former Navy SEAL Matthew Bracken in 2003. Known to fans as EFAD, it’s the first in a trilogy of political thrillers. The plot goes like this: A rogue ATF agent stages a terrorist attack and blames it on an alleged racist militia (which turns out to be neither racist nor a militia). The attack is used as a pretext for repressive gun seizures by misguided liberals, while the ATF villain foments more trouble, killing innocent gun owners, and framing them as racist terrorists. In response, a series of individuals and small groups rise up to carry out acts of resistance and/or terrorism, culminating in a direct confrontation with the villain.

While spotlighting several Patriot memes, the first book in the trilogy has an almost militant multicultural drumbeat. EFAD’s heroes come from almost every imaginable ethnic background—white, black, Arab and Jewish. Between its serviceable writing and self-inoculation against charges of racism, EFAD is probably as close to a mainstream recruitment tool as the Patriot movement could hope for.

During February and March of this year, Bracken made the book available for free as an Amazon Kindle e-book, and several Patriot blogs and Twitter feeds spent significant time promoting it, resulting in a brief stint as the No. 1 free Kindle book on Amazon. The idea was to break into the mainstream of conservative media (talk radio and the like). That effort fell short, but an online posting by organizers said more than 30,000 copies were downloaded.

EFAD represents a sharp break from its Patriot Lit forefathers, most infamously Pierce’s The Turner Diaries. That book has inspired at least dozens of admirers who tried to realize its concept of a revolution born from a campaign of terrorism, Timothy McVeigh among them. Told from the first-person perspective of a terrorist named Earl Turner, “Diaries” drips with racial animus from its opening pages, in which “negroes” armed with baseball bats forcibly disarm white Americans to enforce a repressive gun control bill. This inspires a general uprising targeting the government, Jews, and blacks and culminates in the use of nuclear weapons to ethnically cleanse New York, Washington, D.C., and Tel Aviv. White encampments are constructed in what remains of the United States; “race traitors” (such as those who intermarried with minorities) are summarily lynched.

In short, it is not a pleasant book, either for its values or its mind-numbing prose, reading more like a nasty after-action report than a story. Despite its limitations, The Turner Diaries spawned a legion of badly written dystopian future tales of race war, which are distributed online and in self-published tomes.

Unlike EFAD, The Turner Diaries and many of its imitators preach exclusively to the racist choir, aiming to inspire existing racists to action rather than trying to attract new blood for a broader anti-government movement. But EFAD’s depiction of a racially egalitarian, pro-gun, anti-government groundswell may be more evolution than revolution. The trilogy’s second and third books Domestic Enemies: The Reconquista released around 2006 and Foreign Enemies and Traitors in 2009—continue to separate racial hate and love for liberty, but they do so while drawing ever deeper from the well of white racial paranoia.

Book two describes the takeover of the American Southwest by illegal immigrants, specifically Hispanic racists out to reclaim their historic lands from the “gringos.”

This dramatic shift toward racial politics is offset by the fact that the book’s major protagonists are all brown people, from a Lebanese Arab heroine to a half-Cuban FBI agent to a crypto-Jewish-Hispanic-American former journalist. (The author’s olive branch to people of color does not, incidentally, extend to Muslims, gays, college professors, or people with piercings).

Book three, featuring a corrupt president who invites foreign mercenaries to run rampant on U.S. soil, sees Bracken’s continued stipulations against racism slowly but surely shouted down by the arrival of Earl Turner’s world. After an earthquake demolishes Memphis, black refugees turn into a seething mob of gang-rapists and cannibals—characterizations that feature memorably in The Turner Diaries—while urban blacks loot a path from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., where they demand and receive a new Socialist constitution engineered by a thinly veiled caricature of President Obama. The narrative disclaimers continue—one character condemns white racist killings in the chaos after the quake, and a battle-weary white racist girl near the end of the book accepts a hand of comfort offered by a black Army medic. But these and other moments of individual race grace are hard pressed to counterweight the vivid, lengthy depiction of African-Americans en masse as cannibal rapists directly responsible for destroying America’s Constitution.

EFAD perhaps illustrates both how far and how not-far the Patriot movement has come over the years. Inasmuch as the movement coheres, it has shifted from fairly open and aggressive racism to a more ambivalent, conflicted posture. It’s not uncommon for Patriot movement members to vehemently deny they are racists, even as they speak in hushed, reverential tones about Turner author William Pierce. Bracken doesn’t have that particular problem. In response to an email requesting an interview, he called The Turner Diaries a “racist screed” and insisted it brooks no comparison to his series, angrily declining to answer questions.

On the other hand, in a recent online posting, Bracken advised people who want to be safe from a possibly impending civil war to analyze where they live based on a spectrum of rich vs. poor, urban vs. rural—and lighter skin vs. darker skin.

Racism has been the Achilles’ heel of efforts to unify the Patriots for as long as the movement has existed, with different factions embracing wildly different views about whether to embrace it and to what degree. The Patriot subset that declines to accept racism continues to cope with the issue unevenly and defensively. As in mainstream politics, those who wish to participate or influence the direction of the movement face pressure to cater to the radical base.

The result is a muddled message in which racism may be vocally condemned, but race war is deemed inevitable. Traditional racist language is avoided as taboo, but racial stereotyping is seen as “facing facts.”

It is a rarified vision of a non-racist “realism” that can alienate white nationalist insiders while looking to outsiders like a distinction without a difference.

Awww, isn’t that precious: sure, a race war is inevitable, but racism is still bad. Now THAT’s progress! Anyone else feeling all warm and fuzzy?

Discussion

47 comments for “Extremism in the defense of stupidity is a vice”

  1. “It emerged in the 1970’s and 80’s in rural Amer­ica as a farm­ing cri­sis dis­placed and dis­lo­cated rural com­mu­ni­ties.”

    This is a key point. So many of these people were displaced by corporate farming and de-industrialization over the past 40 years.

    They form a core of an incipient fascist storm front in a similar way as did ruined Junkers and disenfranchised middle-class Weimar Germans formed a core constituency for the Nazis.

    Posted by ironcloudz | August 24, 2012, 12:24 pm
  2. This argument is also referred to as the Strawman argument.

    The idea being when you are born, your birth certificate creates a legel fiction of yourself. This certificate is a contract that the legal system uses to apply it’s force. So in Third Perspective circles, the argument is used that the court has no legal jurisdiction over your flesh and blood self, only your Strawman paper legal fiction.

    Many members of these groups use the system to avoid taxes, attending court when summoned with their birth certificate, and arguing that any fines and penalties are to be enforced on the paper legal fiction, not the real person.

    In the UK, these same groups have even tried to use a mix of this and common law principle to arrest a Court Magistrate.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDWVFrdYao8&feature=related

    The silly thing is, this argument does not even work, and various members of this group have been arrested and charged. Then the idiots all say that the ‘establishment’ is scared and arresting people to shut them up, rather than the fact they have broken various laws and are essentially subverting law and democracy.

    Posted by GW | August 25, 2012, 6:45 am
  3. @ironcloudz: Here’s an interesting essay about that farming crisis: a global agricultural boom in the early 70’s leads to a US farming real-estate bubble, lulling/forcing the middle class farmers into speculation and over-leveraging. And somehow the government’s crisis response ends up giving significantly more subsidies than ever before while still managing to gut the middle class family farm, allowing the major players to pick up the pieces for pennies on the dollar. It’s a now familiar story.

    @GW: I found it particularly amusing that actor Wesley Snipes was reported to have employed sovereign citizen-style legal argument in his tax evasion case because, really, if anyone out there is a sovereign citizen it’s Blade.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 26, 2012, 1:47 am
  4. @GW: The straw man theory also adds a positive new twist to the Romney/Ryan plan to gut social security and medicare: “hey, we’re not trying to cut your entitlements, we’re planning on cutting your fictional legel straw man’s entitlements. You are still a free sovereign being. Free to die. Freedom!!!”.

    Speaking of laughable legal arguments, and given the “straw man” legal theory you decribed, it raises the question of what the sovereign citizens’ stance is on the Birther stuff. Could they really insist that the President show a valid birth certificate when that very system of birth certificates is at the heart of a secret system for commoditizing and trading in our fellow citizens? And the answer is, well, in some instances yes…in a highly racist, sexist, and legalistically strange way.

    I also have to say that I was surprised by Ron Paul’s refusal to endorse Romney or speak at the convention. And it’s not surprise at Ron Paul’s revolt or the reaction of his delegates. It was surprise that the RNC would basically preemptively mug it’s youth like that. After all, the Ron Paul delegation is probably a major component of the future of the GOP. Dissing the Paulites is like burning the bridge to the future.

    But maybe it’s all an inartful part of Mittens’s long awaited “pivot to the center”, where the Romney disavows all the ‘red meat’ he’s been feeding the base during the primary season and Paul Ryan disavows Paul Ryan.

    Or maybe it’s some sort of metaphorical political art, like ‘mugging the youth’-style medicare reform art acted out in the form of convention delegate rule changes. It’s all part of the unveiling of the Romney/Ryan 2012 slogan:
    “You built that bridge to the future and we’re going to burn it down.

    Also, give us your money.”

    I think we have a winner.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 28, 2012, 11:20 pm
  5. The Left Behind Series of novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins presents a vivid and lasting multicultural motif throughout, embracing many races and nationalities. I wonder if this has had the effect of softening some of the racist edges of the Patriot movement as examined by J.M. Berger article cited above.

    As long as you’re down with Christ, it’s all good.

    Posted by GrumpusRex | September 1, 2012, 10:38 am
  6. @GrumpuRex:
    That reminds me of a notorious excerpt from a fantasy Dominionist snuff piece written by William Lind, a co-founder the Free Congress Foundation (discussed at length here) alongside one of the father’s of modern conservative movement Paul Weyrich. Lind was also an early pusher of the “Cultural Marxist” meme (Anders Brievik was a fan of Lind and his meme). It’s a meme we see increasingly show up in mainstream politics these days but note that the theocratic snuff piece was written several years before 1995 and published in the Washington Post on April 30, 1995. This kind of radicalism has been mainstreaming itself for a while:

    Bangor Daily News
    Friday, May 26, 1995
    Political thinker takes look in future
    By John S. Day of the NEWS Staff

    The Triumph of the Recovery was marked most clearly by the burning of the Episcopal bishop of Maine.

    She was not a particularly bad bishop. She was, in fact, quite typical of Episcopal bishops of the first quarter of the 21st century: agnostic, compulsively political and radical and given to placing a small idol of Isis on the altar when she said the Communion service. by 2037, when she was tried for heresy, convicted and burned, she had outlived her era. By that time only a handful of Episcopalians still recognized female clergy, and it would have been easy enough to let the old fool rant out her final years in obscurity. But we are a people who do our duty.

    I well remember the crowd that gathered for the execution, solemn but not sad, relieved that at last, after so many years of humiliation,the majority had taken back the culture. Civilization had recovered its nerve. The flames that soared above the lawn before the Maine Statehouse that August afternoon were, as the bishopess herself might have said, liberating.”
    William S. Lind

    Washington – Who in the hell is William Lind, you ask?
    He’s not a member of the citizen militias that have proclaimed themselves at war with the federal government, and are themselves being probed by authorities forlinksto the Oklahoma City bombing.
    Nor is he among the legion of anti-gun control activists who saw President Clinton’s election as another step in the government’s march to disarm the U.S. citizenry. The only gun he owns is a .22-caliber target rifle.
    No rabble-rouser, this guy. His entire career has been working from insdie the political establishment. Lind is director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism aof the Free Congress Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank. He hosts a weekly program, “Modern War,”on the NET television network. He’s a Darmouth graduate who vacations near Hartland, Main. For 10 years, Lind worked as a top aide to Democratic Sen. Gary Hart.
    So why is Lind writing stories about burning a clergywoman on the lawn in fron of the State House in Augusta?
    “I did it as a warning,” Lind said. “Take a look at Bosnia today. It’s not a fun place to be.”
    “We in this nation are embarked in one the same kind of multiculturalism that divides nations along ethnic and cultural lines,” he said.
    So several years ago, Lind wrote a futuristic fantasy, which was published last month in the Washington Post.
    Like the better-known “Turner Diaries” that authorities say may have inspired the Oklahoma City boming, it is a fictional look back at America from the 21st century, when leveheaded citizens from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Easten Canada – but not Massachusetts – took back the nation from the hated Washington elites.

    Those people, Kind says, have become a “new class – contemptusous of the common culture, unwilling or unable to make things work and concerned primarily with maintaining its own priviledged status.”
    The scary thing, Lind says,is that “I’ve seen the (Washington) system from the inside.
    “The public has not yet caught on to the fact that most people in government don’t really do anything or accomplish anything. Their main objective is merely to be somebody (important),” he says.

    Because, according to Lind,”New Engand is a repository of the old rules,” the heroes of his fantasy tale are that region’s farmers, fishermen,loggers and small businessmen. He envisions a cultural revival “spreading outward from our rocky New England soil, displacing savagery with civilization a second time.”
    Lind saidhiswork of ficiton is not a call to violence, but one of cognition. Pollsshow that most Americans think the country has been hurtlingout of control for several decades, he says.
    “I wrote this thing as a message of hope. It sayswe can recover what we had. Most of Americans believe what we had is better than what we have, ” Lind says.

    First off, William Lind, a co-founder of one of the key foundational conservative think-tanks of this era, was top aide of Democratic Senator Gary Hart? WTF? Also, as Atrios once pointed out, it was also somewhat unbelievable that Lind’s piece was published in the Washington Post at all, let alone less than two weeks after the Oklahoma City bombing. You may be expecting something resembling the Spanish Inquisition in Lind’s 2050 fantasy, but you probably didn’t expect it to be a Victorian Spanish Inquisition (sorry orphans). No one expects the Victorian Spanish Inquisition (via Lexis Nexis):

    The Washington Post

    April 30, 1995, Sunday, Final Edition

    UNDERSTANDING OKLAHOMA; Militant Musings: From Nightmare 1995 to My Utopian 2050
    By William S. Lind

    Editors’ note: The investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing has focused attention on the political thinking of militant groups scattered around the country, some of whom advocate armed resistance to the federal government and all it represents.

    In the writings of some leaders of this movement, America is a country already in the grip of a civil war. Polemicists for the militia movement, while varying widely in their favorite causes, have a common denominator: They portray an illegitimate federal government dominated by special interest groups in mortal struggle with patriots representing traditional American values.

    These apocalyptic visions are not restricted to isolated pockets of rural America but are also found in Washington. William Lind, a military writer and former adviser to Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, is now a center director at the conservative Free Congress Foundation.

    Lind wrote the following futuristic fantasy — intended as a look back from the 21st century — long before the Oklahoma City bombing. He did so, he said recently, “to show how high a price we may pay for a government that has become a ‘new class’ — contemptuous of the common culture, unwilling or unable to make things work and concerned primarily with maintaining its own privileged status.”

    THE TRIUMPH of the Recovery was marked most clearly by the burning of the Episcopal bishop of Maine.

    She was not a particularly bad bishop. She was, in fact, quite typical of Episcopal bishops of the first quarter of the 21st century: agnostic, compulsively political and radical and given to placing a small idol of Isis on the altar when she said the Communion service. By 2037, when she was tried for heresy, convicted and burned, she had outlived her era. By that time only a handful of Episcopalians still recognized female clergy, and it would have been easy enough to let the old fool rant out her final years in obscurity. But we are a people who do our duty.

    I well remember the crowd that gathered for the execution, solemn but not sad, relieved that at last, after so many years of humiliation, the majority had taken back the culture. Civilization had recovered its nerve. The flames that soared above the lawn before the Maine statehouse that August afternoon were, as the bishopess herself might have said, liberating.

    In this Year of Our Lord 2050 we Victorians have the blessed good fortune to live once again in an age of accomplishment and decency. Most of the nations that cover the territory of the former United States are starting to get things working again. The cultural revival we began is spreading outward from our rocky New England soil, displacing savagery with civilization a second time.

    I am writing this down so you never forget, not you, nor your children nor their children. You did not go through the war, though you have suffered its consequences. Your children will have grown up in a well-ordered and prosperous country, and that can be dangerously comforting. Here, they will at least read what happens when a people forget who they are.

    Was the dissolution of the United States inevitable? Probably. Right up to the end the coins carried the motto E Pluribus Unum, just as the last dreadnought of the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian navy was the Viribus Unitis. But the reality for both empires was Ex Uno, Plura.

    You see, some time around the middle of the 18th century we men of the West struck Faust’s bargain with the Devil. We could do anything, say anything, think anything with one exception: Verweile doch, du bist so schoen (Stay, you are so beautiful). We could not rest; we could not get it right and then keep it that way. Always we must have novelty — that was the bargain.

    It’s funny how clearly the American century is marked: 1865 to 1965. The first Civil War made us one nation. After 1965 and another war, we disunited — deconstructed — with equal speed into blacks, whites, Hispanics, womyn, gays, victims, oppressors, left-handed albinos, you name it. In three decades we covered the distance that had taken Rome three centuries. As recently as the early 1960s — God, it’s hard to believe — America was still the greatest nation on earth, the most powerful, the most productive, the freest, a place of safe homes, dutiful children in good schools, strong families and a hot lunch for orphans. By the 1990s the place had the stench of a Third World country. The cities were ravaged by punks, beggars and bums. Law applied only to the law-abiding. Schools had become daytime holding pens for illiterate young savages. Television brought the decadence of Weimar Berlin into every home.

    Didn’t anyone realize that when the culture goes it takes everything else with it? Of course, some people knew. But going back to a culture that worked, to traditional, Western, Judeo-Christian culture, meant breaking the Faustian bargain.

    Then the hammer blows fell. First, the currency collapsed. Inflation had been jerking upward for years because the only way the government could manage its massive debt was to pay it off in inflated dollars. People had adjusted as they did in other Third World countries, opening foreign currency accounts, bartering, burying gold in the back yard. Then, in the spring of 2001, a new administration really opened the valve. By that summer, inflation was running 40 percent per month; by fall, 400 percent. Financial Weimar had followed cultural Weimar. The middle class was wiped out.

    By the year 2005, it was obvious that AIDS was spreading fast. Everyone had friends, relatives, neighbors who suddenly were stricken. But the government still pumped out the same old line. Terrified of the gay lobby, officials conspired to reassure the public that there was no cause for alarm, that “homophobia” was the real problem.

    In fact, the government suppressed evidence to the contrary, fearing to cause panic. They were right. When the Los Angeles Times broke the story that it was spreading by unknown means, the cities emptied. Most people came back, because they had to go to work or starve, though they left the children in the country if they could. People demanded the quarantine of anyone diagnosed as HIV positive. Instead, the government classified the infected as “disabled,” which made any preventive measures illegal discrimination.

    In the spring of 2009 the blacks of Newark rose and took over the city. They rebelled not against whites but against their real oppressors: the drug dealers and drug users, gunmen and hit men, car thieves and squatters and the rest of the scum who made life hell for the majority who wanted to work and walk home safely and not see their kids shot in front of their houses. They knew who the guilty parties were, and they went and got them with ropes and kitchen knives. For the first time in decades, Newark saw peace.

    Average people cheered, but the federal government, drooling such pieties as “due process” and “law and order” (in a place where the law had long since ceased protecting anyone but criminals), sent in the National Guard. The people of Newark met the troops and begged for their help, and the soldiers either went over or went home. Washington ordered in the 82nd Airborne. The New York Air Guard painted pine tree insignia on its aircraft and threatened to bomb any federal forces approaching Newark. On May 3, Gov. Ephraim Logan of Vermont told the legislature that the federal government no longer represented the people of his state and asked for a vote of secession. Vermont became a republic the next day.

    The first Civil War was, on the whole, a gentlemanly affair; the second one wasn’t. Here in northern New England we were lucky. Because we didn’t have many ethnic divisions or cults or Deep Greeners, we didn’t have militias shelling the cities and ravaging the suburbs. Elsewhere, it was what Lebanon and Yugoslavia and the former Russian empire saw in the late 20th century. The Reconquista drove the Anglos out of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Southern California; the Anglos drove the Hispanics out of what was left of the American West. Blacks and Hispanics in L.A. turned on each other, but there were a lot more Hispanics. Korean marines landed in Long Beach to get their people out.

    The Deep Greeners took over Oregon, and North Americans got their first taste of totalitarianism. If you weren’t one of them, you didn’t get a Breathing License and they tied a plastic bag over your head. That lasted three years, until the rest of the state recaptured Portland with Japanese help (they needed the timber). Both Oregon and Washington are doing okay now; recently they got the right to send non-voting delegates to the Diet in Tokyo.

    After the usual series of coups, northern California ended up as the Azanian Republic. It made Oregon seem rational by comparison. The Azanian government in Berkeley was, in its final incarnation, run by a coalition of radical feminists, Maoist guerrillas and militant vegetarians. The only capital crime was eating meat. The end came after Azania was overrun by animals who, by law, could be neither killed nor neutered.

    Elsewhere, it took about 10 years for the hate caused by decades of illegitimate government to work itself out. Not much was left of the cities or the people who had lived there, but most folks in the countryside at least had been able to eat. By 2017, the South had a second Confederacy going. Southern culture had stayed pretty strong, outside the cities anyway. Florida was a mess, of course, but otherwise Dixie didn’t see much fighting.

    But it is our New England history that concerns me. We were the luckiest. Maine and New Hampshire quickly followed Vermont into secession, and upstate New York came in too — after ceding New York City to Puerto Rico. We knew we were all in this together, so we formed the Northern Confederation in 2010. Massachusetts was not invited, but in 2011 New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland joined (Canada didn’t survive into the 21st century). We had some tough economic times, but nobody starved and we had only one rumpus on our own soil — an attempted putsch by a small band of Deep Greeners in Vermont that was put down by state cops with a couple of fire hoses.

    But it was what happened on the cultural front that really made the difference for us. The Retroculture Movement had been growing quietly since the mid-1990s. It wasn’t political, just individuals and families deciding to live again in the old ways. By the early 2000s there were Retroculture books, magazines, clubs, even special communities for people who wanted to discover how Americans used to live and how to bring back the old ways. Some people liked one period, some another, but gradually more and more found themselves looking to the Victorian era as the model. The Victorians in England and America had been an astoundingly productive bunch, building, inventing, creating, conquering — all the things we needed to do again if we were to be civilized people.

    The family was the first Victorian institution to make a comeback. With everything else falling apart, people saw pretty quickly how important a family is. That would have happened without Retroculture, but the Retro Movement helped us see how to make families work. We dug out the many books (most written by women) the Victorians had published on how to make a good home, raise children and live together happily (the secret was sacrificing the late 20th century’s god, the self). The good ladies of the League of Militant Homemakers made sure women put duty to husbands and children first; those who refused so they could pursue a “career” were given a bright red embroidered “C” to wear over their left breast.

    The schools came next. We tossed out the vast accretion of “professional” educators and found ordinary men and women who knew their subjects and were dedicated to passing on the culture to a new generation. The kids learned to read with Mr. McGuffy’s readers. They learned to figure on a chalk board instead of a computer that did the work for them. They learned the difference between right and wrong or got their bottoms fanned until they did.

    We deconstructed most of the universities. After all, they had started this “multiculturalism” hysteria that ended up with millions of people dead in the wars that followed. The ideologues gone, real scholars emerged from hiding and began offering Greek and Latin and the great books of Western civilization to anyone who wanted to learn.

    Christians took back their churches from the agnostic clergy, and the pews filled up again. The church, not the government, became the problem-solver when people were hungry or sick or old and without family. The government was broke anyway and was busy defending the borders with not much tax base left.

    As the Victorian spirit spread, standards were revived. Communities decided that some things were acceptable and some weren’t. Crime wasn’t; with justice locally controlled and the lawyers digging potatoes, somebody who mugged on Tuesday hanged on Wednesday.

    Entertainment was expected to be decent. In a world that had grown ugly enough, there was small desire for ugliness in art and music as well. The Victorian entertainments were revived, and young people in particular went in heavily for choral singing. The last rock concert was held in 2013 in the Cleveland arena. It featured all the big rock bands left in North America and most of the remaining rock fans too. The Greater Cleveland Garden Club sealed the doors and pumped in a herbal compound, derived largely from Queen Anne’s lace and Viola odorata, that rectified brain damage in the cranial region connecting hearing and taste. The fans were soon holding their ears and whistling “Dixie,” and the ancient Rolling Stones ended up improvising Albinoni on their electric guitars.

    By the mid-2020s, people had started to speak of the Recovery. Things were starting to work again, at least for us up north. And it was obvious why: The Victorian spirit, and Victorian practices, were making them work. The slogan became, “What worked then will work now” and, of course, it did. That broke the Faustian bargain. We had found where we wanted to settle down and stay — right there in the age of Queen Victoria — and we did.

    In gratitude to our Victorian exemplars, the Northern Confederation became, in the year 2035 A.D., the nation of Victoria. It was done by citizen petition and referendum, the way all important questions are decided. In fact, there isn’t much other government — nor is it needed, now that we again have a virtuous citizenry. The legislature meets for a couple of months every two years, with citizen legislators who are paid one hundred gold dollars per annum and can’t be reelected. To prevent a government bureaucracy from growing, the federal capital moves every six months from one province to another; at last count it had 76 employees. The president of Victoria is chosen by lot from among the handful of registered voters who offer to serve.

    And so it was that in 2037 we burned the bishopess. We knew this act would close and seal the old book, the book that had seen us go from decay to dissolution to Recovery. The auto-da-fe was symbolic; the Recovery was in fact already on solid ground or we wouldn’t have had the moral fiber to torch the old girl.

    Sweet, no jackbooted federal thugs but if you’re “convicted of mugging on Tuesday you’ll be hung on Wednesday” by the locals. A confederation of cults bound by “culture”. Everything is as it should be.

    Lind’s essay appears to be some sort of warning about a debased liberal modern culture and society and the harsh, necessary, and inevitable backlash against that modern abomination by the “real Americans” (that all appear to be Christian Dominionists). It’s also a reminder of how radical the far-right Christian nationalist utopian vision can get. The ultra-“small government” ideology of the Christian Dominionists/Libertarians/anarchists types doesn’t actually mean “small authority”. The meta-selling point for “small government” policies you see from politicians spewing out is that by “shrinking government” you’re “freeing the American people”. But what we see in Lind’s vision is something closer to what one should expect with the far-right’s envisioned “small government”: Big Church and Bigger Business. That part is strategically left out of the sales pitch and it’s a big deal because those far-right ultra-small government policies are now the GOP’s mainstream policies.

    It’s all a reminder that “smaller government” = “redistribution of power” != “smaller authority”, especially when cryptofascist theocrats are calling the shots.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 2, 2012, 1:13 am
  7. The old saying “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” doesn’t apply in all contexts

    Vegas Police Bust ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Terror Plot
    KEN RITTER August 22, 2013, 10:13 PM

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — A sting operation stopped a plot to abduct, torture and kill police officers to bring attention to the antiauthority sovereign citizen movement, Las Vegas police said Thursday.

    David Allen Brutsche and Devon Campbell Newman were arrested at an apartment a few miles off the Vegas Strip before they could carry out a plan to snatch officers, “put them on trial” and execute them in a vacant house, Las Vegas police Lt. James Seebock said.

    The investigation began when an unidentified undercover officer befriended Brutsche and Newman in April, police said.

    The three participated in meetings and training sessions about sovereign citizen philosophy and later shopped for guns and discussed plans to track and videotape police officers to determine whom to abduct, according to a 10-page arrest report.

    They found a vacant house and rigged it with bolts drilled into wall supports, creating a makeshift jail where they planned to bind captive officers to cross beams for interrogation, police said.

    Authorities haven’t released video evidence, but the report states that Brutsche and Newman recorded videos about their actions and ideology to post following the planned abductions.

    Hundreds of hours of conversation were recorded over the course of 30 meetings with the undercover officer, police said.

    “We need to arrest the police and take them to our jail and put them in a cell and put them on trial in a people’s court,” Brutsche said on July 9, according to the arrest report. “If we run into the position that they resist, then we need to kill them.”

    During a tour of gun stores the next day, Brutsche said that what they were planning was going to be big, “and that they would really get a large following once they started because of the publicity,” the report said.

    Police said that when Brutsche was arrested, he denied that police had authority to hold him.

    Police identified Brutsche as a six-time convicted felon and child sex offender from California. Authorities did not detail a further criminal background for Newman.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 22, 2013, 8:26 pm
  8. Florida’s GOP law makers in the House want to make it legal to carry concealed firearms without a permit during riots and natural disasters. More specifically, they want to allow you to legally carry your concealed gun and go to the riot if you happen to have missed all the fun. This will include emergencies declared by local officials. It’s part of Florida’s expansion of the ‘Stand your ground’ laws. So at least Florida residents won’t need to listen for the annoying high pitched emergency broadcast system to get alerted about an emergency. They can just wait for the flurry of gun shots:

    Miami Herald
    Florida House bill would allow carrying guns without a permit during riots, natural disasters
    Posted on Thursday, 04.10.14

    By Michael Van Sickler
    Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

    TALLAHASSEE — Under a bill backed by the National Rifle Association and other gun groups, riots could be the newest safe haven for those carrying firearms without a permit.

    HB 209, which is expected to be voted on Friday by the Florida House, would allow people with clean criminal backgrounds to conceal firearms without a permit during emergencies — including riots and civil unrest like the 1996 racial disturbances that rocked south St. Petersburg — declared by the governor or local officials.

    “To allow people to go into a riot while concealing a gun without a permit is the definition of insanity,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. “The bill is crazy. It’s absurd.”

    Supporters of the bill say it’s intended to give gun owners the opportunity to protect their property while they are evacuating from a disaster or crisis, such as hurricanes, floods, or worse.

    “We tell people to be prepared during hurricane season to take care of yourself for three days,” Florida Carry general counsel Eric Friday said earlier this month. “That means food, water, and also the ability to protect yourself because emergency services aren’t available.”

    A key objection is that it’s not clear in the legislation when it’s okay not to have a permit for the concealed firearm. Both bills say no permit is needed for those “in the act of complying with a mandatory evacuation order during a declared state of emergency.”

    If someone flees a hurricane and travels several counties over, either to a hotel or relative’s house, at what point are they still evacuating? For how long are they able to claim they are evacuating?

    On Wednesday, the House sponsor, Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, couldn’t provide specifics to the doubters during House debate on the bill.

    “I have (the gun) on my body because I’m allowed to do it under this new law, and I get to a (hurricane) shelter,” Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood asked Fitzenhagen. “What happens to the firearm then?”

    “The law does not allow you to bring that into a shelter,” Fitzenhagen replied. “You would be able to put it somewhere else in another person’s car perhaps, or a container.”

    The Florida Sheriffs Association believes the bill is too vague, and would lead to false arrests and clashes with police. Brandes and Fitzenhagen say too much specificity would defeat the purpose of the bill.

    “If you refine it too much, then you don’t make it effective for giving people the opportunity to store their guns safely,” she said.

    For Gualtieri and the Florida Sheriffs Association, the bills were made considerably worse in late March and early April when they were amended so that local authorities, not just the governor, could declare an emergency.

    Under that added provision, riots qualified as emergencies in which residents could conceal guns without permits.

    “We were trying to work with them, but they changed the purpose of the bill,” Gualtieri said. “Now you don’t have to be leaving an area. You could be coming to it, you could be part of the problem, exacerbating it.”[

    On Tuesday, the Senate’s Community Affairs Committee agreed, stripping out the local emergency provision that included riots.

    But it remains in the House bill, where it will stay, said Fitzenhagen.

    “I believe there are scenarios in which local governments should have the authority to call a state of emergency,” Fitzenhagen said Wednesday. “I’m not contemplating them calling a state of emergency for riots and then they grab their hand guns and go out there into the riot.”

    But the way the bill is written, it’s too confusing for law enforcement officers and gun owners alike, Gualtieri said.

    “It would give me pause, as sheriff, in declaring a state of emergency,” he said. “If I know cops would have to deal with god knows what, I now have to worry about making a situation worse.”

    The upcoming changes aren’t all crazy. For instance, firing a warning shot in Florida will no longer be more punishable than shooting someone.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 10, 2014, 8:54 am
  9. This is fascinating: If you invite a bunch of militias to your ranch and hunker down for an armed stand off with the Federal government (see photos), and the Feds don’t go in guns a blazing, you can apparently claim you’ve ‘won’. But factor in that armed conflict is pretty obviously also what these groups are pining for (the PR would be amazing), so we’re seeing the “heads we win, tails we win with bloodshed” strategy at work. Because you can’t mainstream ‘crazy’ with reason. Whipped up passions and the threat of violence are what is needed for that kind of situation:

    Think Progress
    Armed Right-Wing Militia Members Descend On Nevada To Help Rancher Defy Court Order

    By Ian Millhiser on April 11, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    We provide armed response,” according to a Montana militia member named Jim Lordy. Lordy traveled to Nevada in order to support a local rancher for believes that he should not have to follow federal court orders. When he arrived there, he told a local reporter that “[w]e need guns to protect ourselves from the tyrannical government.”

    Lordy belongs to a militia group called Operation Mutual Aid, which provides “[d]efense of public and private property, lives, and liberty to exercise God-given rights, seen plainly in the laws of Nature, and codified in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, at the request of such parties in need of such defense,” according to a website associated with the group. Although only three militia members had arrived at the Nevada ranch by late Wednesday, when the latest reports came out, other militia groups reportedly “inundated the [rancher’s] household with calls and pledges to muster at the site.”

    The Oath Keepers, a right-wing law enforcement organization that warns about the government “disarm[ing] the American people” and “blockad[ing] American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps,” also announced that it will send people to support the defiant rancher.

    This conflict arises out of rancher Cliven Bundy’s many years of illegally grazing his cattle on federal lands. In 1998, a federal court ordered Bundy to cease grazing his livestock on an area of federal land known as the Bunkerville Allotment, and required him to pay the federal government $200 per day per head of cattle remaining on federal lands. Around the time it issued this order, the court also commented that “[t]he government has shown commendable restraint in allowing this trespass to continue for so long without impounding Bundy’s livestock.” Fifteen years later, Bundy continued to defy this court order.

    Last October, the federal government returned to court and obtained a new order, providing that “Bundy shall remove his livestock from the former Bunkerville Allotment within 45 days of the date hereof, and that the United States is entitled to seize and remove to impound any of Bundy’s cattle that remain in trespass after 45 days of the date hereof.” A third federal court order issued the same year explains that Bundy did not simply refuse to stop trespassing on federal lands — he actually expanded the range of his trespassing. According to the third order, “Bundy’s cattle have moved beyond the boundaries of the Bunkerville Allotment and are now trespassing on a broad swath of additional federal land (the “New Trespass Lands”), including public lands within the Gold Butte area that are administered by the BLM, and National Park System land within the Overton Arm and Gold Butte areas of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.” The third order also authorizes the federal government to “impound any of Bundy’s cattle that remain in trespass.”

    On Saturday of last week, the government hired wranglers to round up Bundy’s livestock. As of Wednesday, they’d impounded a total of 352 cattle. That’s when a tense standoff broke out between a group of Bundy’s supporters and federal rangers armed with stun guns and police dogs. In one video, a ranger tackles Bundy’s sister away from a moving vehicle (she later admitted that she was blocking the path of government trucks shortly before this incident). Another video shows rangers using a stun gun on a protester immediately after he kicks a police dog.

    Bundy, for his part, claims that “our Constitution didn’t provide for anything like the federal government owning this land.” He’s wrong. The Constitution provides that “[t]he Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.”

    Update
    The government has suspended their enforcement action because militia activity was posing a danger to employees and the public:

    However, today the BLM said it would not enforce a court order to remove the cattle and was pulling out of the area.

    “Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public,” BLM Director Neil Kornze said.

    Update

    Bundy still isn’t satisfied:

    Rancher Cliven Bundy demanded of sheriff Doug Gillespie that all national park service employees working on the cattle roundup operation be disarmed before 10:45 a.m.

    He gave Gillespie one hour to comply, and added for the firearms to be brought to him. The demand comes on the heels of the Bureau of Land Management pulling the plug on the roundup due to safety concerns.

    What’s next

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 14, 2014, 9:23 am
  10. Look who’s endorsing the Bundy ranch in its claim that the Federal government has no right to regulate the use of public lands:

    Media Matters
    “Feds Turn From Landlords To Warlords”: Koch Groups Back Rancher Making Violent Threats Against Federal Gov’t
    Blog ››› April 11, 2014 12:57 PM EDT ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Two affiliates of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity are helping conservative media promote the cause of a Nevada rancher who has made violent threats against the federal government.

    Cliven Bundy, a cattle rancher in Nevada, has refused to remove his animals from public property in violation of a federal court order.

    In 1993, Bundy declined to pay government fees that are required in order to allow his cattle to graze on the public land. In 1998 a court order told Bundy to remove his cattle as part of an effort to protect an endangered desert tortoise in the area. >He refused. In July 2013, a federal court order told Bundy to remove his cattle from the land or they would be confiscated. He disobeyed the order, and confiscation has begun. The government will auction the animals and use the proceeds to pay off the $1 million in fines that Bundy owes the government.

    Bundy’s ongoing refusal to obey the law and court orders has become a cause célèbre for the conservative media, which has compared the situation to deadly standoffs like Waco and Ruby Ridge.

    In recent comments to a conspiracy theorist’s radio show, Bundy said, “I haven’t called no militia or anything like that, but hey it looks like that’s where we’re at.” He added, “We got a strong army here, we have to fight.” Previously Bundy told the Las Vegas Sun that “he keeps firearms at his ranch” and promised to “do whatever it takes” to defend his cattle being seized, adding, “I abide by almost zero federal laws.”

    Earlier this week, protesters and members of the Bundy family had a confrontation with law enforcement, where a stun gun was used to subdue Bundy’s son, who had reportedly climbed on a dump truck when he assumed it contained cattle that had been killed during confiscation. Members of several militia groups have made their way to Bundy’s ranch, reportedly “to protect the Bundys from tyranny.”

    Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the conservative non-profit group, was founded by and has been largely funded by billionaires Charles and David Koch. The Center for Media and Democracy reported that in its previous incarnation as Citizens for a Sound Economy, AFP received $12 million of its $18 million in funding from the Koch Family Foundation.

    During the 2012 election, AFP spent $122 million in an effort to defeat President Obama and Congressional Democrats. AFP has also sponsored and organized bus rallies and town hall meetings to promote conservative ideas, including deregulation, tax cuts, and opposition to health care reform.

    AFP has been at the forefront of spending in the 2014 election, launching several ads attacking the Affordable Care Act which have come under fire for inaccuracy by independent fact checkers. As of March, AFP had aired a reported 17,000 television ads.

    Two of its local affiliates, Americans for Prosperity Nevada and Americans for Prosperity Colorado, have become active boosters of Bundy’s actions.

    AFP Nevada’s Facebook page posted a graphic attacking the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for spending “one million dollars” to enforce the court order to round up Bundy’s cattle on federal land. Another photo attacked the Bureau for creating a designated “First Amendment Area” for protesters to gather in near the property.

    AFP Nevada also promoted as a “must read” a blog post from conservative pundit Dana Loesch where she described the standoff as “harassment” from the federal government. The group also accused the BLM of “strategically regulating hard-working Americans out of business.”

    AFP Colorado has reposted several of AFP Nevada’s tweets, and has posted commentary of its own about the issue. In one tweet, AFP Colorado has said that the “Fed militarizing of Nevada standoff is bound to fuel more sagebrush rebellion” and that “Feds turn from landlords to warlords when Nevada rancher won’t bend his knee.”

    AFP Colorado also reposted a tweet attacking the “First Amendment Area” from Paul Joseph Watson, a correspondent from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars.

    Is there still a chance that Joe the Plumber could resume his role as the GOP’s meta-man for this year’s elections? Someone should look into that because this “we’re all Clive the Rancher” meme is getting pretty scary.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 14, 2014, 12:09 pm
  11. Uh oh, Harry Reid is saying that the confrontation at the Bundy ranch ‘is not over’ and Bundy’s response is a call for country Sheriff’s across the country to “disarm the federal bureaucrats”:

    TPM Livewire
    Harry Reid: Bundy Ranch Standoff ‘Not Over’

    Catherine Thompson – April 15, 2014, 7:19 AM EDT

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Monday addressed the conflict between the federal authorities and anti-government activists over a Nevada cattle rancher’s self-proclaimed right to graze his animals, vowing the showdown in his home state is “not over.”

    “Well, it’s not over,” Reid told Las Vegas TV station KRNV. “We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it’s not over.”

    The Bureau of Land Management was rounding up rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle after he refused to pay grazing fees for more than 20 years, prompting hundreds of anti-government activists — some of them armed — to flock to Bundy’s side and protest the perceived overreach. Authorities ended the round-up on Saturday, citing public safety concerns.

    Appearing Monday on Fox News’ “Hannity,” Bundy was asked to respond to Reid’s challenge.

    “I don’t have a response for Harry Reid, but I have a response for every county sheriff across the United States,” Bundy told host Sean Hannity. “Disarm the federal bureaucrats.”

    Bundy’s son Aman had a more barbed response.

    “Well if he doesn’t have enough moral fiber in his bones at all to see what happened, that we the people got together and made something right, then I don’t think there’s any hope for him and he needs to be kicked out of office,” he said. “Even if he is a senate majority leader. It doesn’t matter.”

    Yikes. That call for “county sheriffs” to essentially declare war on the Federal government sure sounds like a Sovereign Citizen’s call to arms which means the threat of this ending is violence is by no means gone.

    Ugh. Ok, it’s time to hide the women and children. For real. Hide the women and children.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 15, 2014, 11:32 am
  12. Here’s a bit more on the ideological roots of the Bundy ranch showdown: Richard Mack, a former Arizona county sheriff and founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs, has been been promoting these kinds of issues for decades. And it’s Mack and the “Oathkeepers” that have been supplying the bulk of militia members that suddenly swooped in on the Bundy ranch:

    TPM Muckraker
    Why Bundy Ranch Thinks America’s Sheriffs Can Disarm The Feds

    Dylan Scott – April 15, 2014, 2:59 PM EDT

    Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy, whose dispute with the Bureau of Land Management spurred a tense standoff between armed anti-government activists and federal officials over the weekend, had some strikingly specific directions for sheriffs across the country Monday night.

    “Disarm the federal bureaucrats,” Bundy said in an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity. He had been asked to respond to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s assertion that the Bundy Ranch standoff (as it is now officially known on Wikipedia) was “not over.”

    Bundy had already asked his local sheriff to arrest the BLM officials who were rounding up his cattle, but he directed his new message to “every county sheriff in the United States.”

    Bundy’s statement brought to the forefront a theory that some on the far right have held for decades: that local sheriffs are ordained with an immense amount of power, going beyond that of even federal authorities. In the Bundy Ranch dispute, that theory is the driving ideology of some of the groups that have rallied to the rancher’s side. Those include the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association and the Oath Keepers, whose members are law enforcement officials and military who have pledged to defend the Constitution against government overreach.

    It was Richard Mack, a former Arizona county sheriff and founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs, who had said Monday that the gathered self-described militia had considered using women as human shields if a gunfight with federal officials erupted. He elaborated on those comments Monday in an interview with radio host Ben Swann.

    “It was a tactical plot that I was trying to get them to use,” Mack said in comments flagged by The Raw Story. “If they’re going to start killing people, I’m sorry, but to show the world how ruthless these people are, women needed to be the first ones shot.”

    “I’m sorry, that sounds horrible,” he continued. “I would have put my own wife or daughters there, and I would have been screaming bloody murder to watch them die. I would gone next, I would have been the next one to be killed. I’m not afraid to die here. I’m willing to die here.”

    Note that Cliven Bundy is being compared to Gandhi in the National Review. Somehow, Richard Mack, who was volunteering his wife and daughter to get gunned down as human shields in the above quote, hasn’t been receiving that same kind of praise.

    Continuing…


    Some history helps explain these organizations’ interest in Bundy and their placement of his feud with BLM in a longer narrative.

    A 2011 profile in the Arizona Daily Star newspaper explained how Mack, who served as Graham County sheriff in the late 1980s and early ’90s, first earned national attention when he led the legal challenge against the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in 1994. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually struck down one key part of the law, which had required state and local law enforcement to perform background checks on firearm purchases.

    Bundy’s rhetoric, urging county sheriffs to “disarm the federal bureaucrats,” certainly tracks with Mack’s history, Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research at the Anti-Defamation League, told TPM. While it’s difficult to know how much influence, if any, Mack wielded once he got on the ground in Nevada, he and Bundy share an obvious ideological alliance.

    Pitcavage linked Bundy’s beef with BLM over his cattle grazing on federal land with the “wise use” movement that arose in the 1990s. It was comprised largely of ranchers and miners who resented federal agencies, including BLM, that exerted their authority over Western land, Pitcavage said.

    “Out west, those sentiments are very much still alive, and Richard Mack is someone who recognizes that and capitalizes on it,” Pitcavage said. “For some time, one of Richard Mack’s main areas of emphasis has been promoting local government or just local affairs generally against the federal government.”

    Mack and the Oath Keepers, an allied “non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders,” according to its website, appear to have helped organize the Bundy Ranch militia, which had grown to as many as 1,500 members by the weekend, Reuters estimated.

    Here’s another fun fact about Richard Mack. He co-wrote a book with Randy Weaver about Ruby Ridge. It’s one of many fun facts about Richard Mack and the Oathkeepers in this long SPLC piece from the fall of 2009 about the resurgence of militia movement that began immediately after Barack Obama came to office. 2009 is the same year the Oathkeepers got started. It’s a reminder that the 2009 “summer of crazy” never ended. It just kept getting hotter and hotter:

    Southern Poverty Law Center
    Intelligence Report, Fall 2009, Issue Number: 135
    Evidence Grows of Far-Right Militia Resurgence

    By Larry Keller

    In Pensacola, Fla., retired FBI agent Ted Gunderson tells a gathering of antigovernment “Patriots” that the federal government has set up 1,000 internment camps across the country and is storing 30,000 guillotines and a half-million caskets in Atlanta. They’re there for the day the government finally declares martial law and moves in to round up or kill American dissenters, he says. “They’re going to keep track of all of us, folks,” Gunderson warns.

    Outside Atlanta, a so-called “American Grand Jury” issues an “indictment” of Barack Obama for fraud and treason because, the panel concludes, he wasn’t born in the United States and is illegally occupying the office of president. Other sham “grand juries” around the country follow suit.

    And on the site in Lexington, Mass., where the opening shots of the Revolutionary War were fired in 1775, members of Oath Keepers, a newly formed group of law enforcement officers, military men and veterans, “muster” on April 19 to reaffirm their pledge to defend the U.S. Constitution. “We’re in perilous times … perhaps far more perilous than in 1775,” says the man administering the oath. April 19 is the anniversary not only of the battle of Lexington Green, but also of the 1993 conflagration at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, and the lethal bombing two years later of the Oklahoma City federal building — seminal events in the lore of the extreme right, in particular the antigovernment Patriot movement.

    Almost 10 years after it seemed to disappear from American life, there are unmistakable signs of a revival of what in the 1990s was commonly called the militia movement. From Idaho to New Jersey and Michigan to Florida, men in khaki and camouflage are back in the woods, gathering to practice the paramilitary skills they believe will be needed to fend off the socialistic troops of the “New World Order.”

    One big difference from the militia movement of the 1990s is that the face of the federal government — the enemy that almost all parts of the extreme right see as the primary threat to freedom — is now black. And the fact that the president is an African American has injected a strong racial element into even those parts of the radical right, like the militias, that in the past were not primarily motivated by race hate. Contributing to the racial animus have been fears on the far right about the consequences of Latino immigration.

    Militia rhetoric is being heard widely once more, often from a second generation of ideologues, and conspiracy theories are being energetically revived or invented anew. “Paper terrorism” — the use of property liens, bogus legal documents and “citizens’ grand juries” to attack enemies and, sometimes, reap illegal fortunes — is again proliferating, to the point where the government has set up special efforts to rein in so-called “tax defiers” and to track threats against judges. What’s more, Patriot fears about the government are being amplified by a loud new group of ostensibly mainstream media commentators and politicians.

    It’s not 1996 all over again, or 1997 or 1998. Although there has been a remarkable rash of domestic terrorist incidents since Obama’s election in November, it has not reached the level of criminal violence, attempted terrorist attacks and white-hot language that marked the militia movement at its peak. But militia training events, huge numbers of which are now viewable on YouTube videos, are spreading. One federal agency estimates that 50 new militia training groups have sprung up in less than two years. Sales of guns and ammunition have skyrocketed amid fears of new gun control laws, much as they did in the 1990s.

    The situation has many authorities worried. Militiamen, white supremacists, anti-Semites, nativists, tax protesters and a range of other activists of the radical right are cross-pollinating and may even be coalescing. In the words of a February report from law enforcement officials in Missouri, a variety of factors have combined recently to create “a lush environment for militia activity.”

    “You’re seeing the bubbling [of antigovernment sentiment] right now,” says Bart McEntire, who has infiltrated racist hate groups and now is the supervisory special agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Roanoke, Va. “You see people buying into what they’re saying. It’s primed to grow. The only thing you don’t have to set it on fire is a Waco or Ruby Ridge.”

    Another federal law enforcement official knowledgeable about militia groups agrees. He asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak publicly about them. “They’re not at the level we saw in ’94-’95,” he says. “But this is the most significant growth we’ve seen in 10 to 12 years. All it’s lacking is a spark. I think it’s only a matter of time before you see threats and violence.”

    Shots, Plots and ‘Sovereigns’
    In fact, threats and violence from the radical right already are accelerating. In recent months, men with antigovernment, racist, anti-Semitic or pro-militia views have allegedly committed a series of high-profile murders — including the killings of six law enforcement officers since April.

    Most of these recent murders and plots seem to have been at least partially prompted by Obama’s election. One man “very upset” with the election of America’s first black president was building a radioactive “dirty bomb”; another, a Marine, was planning to assassinate Obama, as were two racist skinheads in Tennessee; still another angry at the election and said to be interested in joining a militia killed two sheriff’s deputies in Florida. A man in Pittsburgh who feared Jews and gun confiscations murdered three police officers. Near Boston, a white man angered by the alleged “genocide” of his race shot to death two African immigrants and intended to murder as many Jews as possible. An 88-year-old neo-Nazi killed a guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. And an abortion physician in Kansas was murdered by a man steeped in the ideology of the “sovereign citizens” movement.

    So-called sovereign citizens are people who subscribe to an ideology, originated by the anti-Semitic Posse Comitatus of the 1980s, that claims that whites are a higher kind of citizen — subject only to “common law,” not the dictates of the government — while blacks are mere “14th Amendment citizens” who must obey their government masters. Although not all sovereigns subscribe to or even know about the theory’s racist basis, most contend that they do not have to pay taxes, are not subject to most laws, and are not citizens of the United States.

    Authorities and anecdotal evidence suggest that sovereign citizens — who, along with tax protesters and militia members, form the larger Patriot movement — may make up the most dramatically reenergized sector of the radical right. In February, the FBI launched a national operation targeting white supremacists and “militia/sovereign citizen extremist groups” after noting an upsurge in such organizations, The Wall Street Journal reported. The aim is to gather intelligence about “this emerging threat,” according to an FBI memo cited by the newspaper.

    Increasingly, sovereign citizens are claiming they aren’t subject to income taxes — so much so that the Department of Justice last year kicked off a National Tax Defier Initiative to deal with the volume of cases. At the same time, more and more seem to be engaging in “paper terrorism,” even though more than 30 states passed or strengthened laws outlawing the filing of unjustified property liens and simulating legal process (by setting up pseudo-legal “common law courts” and “citizens’ grand juries”) in response to sovereign activity in the 1990s.

    A Michigan man whose company allegedly doubled as the headquarters of a militia group, for example, was arrested in May on charges that he placed bogus liens on property owned by courthouse officials and police officers to harass them and ruin their credit. In March, authorities raided a Las Vegas printing firm where meetings of the “Sovereign People’s Court for the United States” were conducted in a mock courtroom. Seminars allegedly were taught there on how to use phony documents and other illegal means to pay off creditors. Four people were arrested on money-laundering, tax and weapons charges.

    Due to a spike in “inappropriate communications,” including many from sovereign citizens, the U.S. Marshals Service has opened a clearinghouse in suburban Washington, D.C., for assessing risks to court personnel. The incidents include telephone and written threats against federal judges and prosecutors, as well as bomb threats and biochemical incidents. In fiscal 2008, there were 1,278 threats and harassing communications — more than double the number of six years earlier. The number of such incidents is on pace to increase again in fiscal 2009. Sovereign citizens account for a small percentage of the cases, but theirs are more complex and generally require more resources, says Michael Prout, assistant director of judicial security for the marshals. “They are resourceful groups,” he adds.

    Some sovereign citizen attempts to skirt the law have been farcical. An Arkansas jury needed only seven minutes in April to convict Richard Bauer, 70, of robbing a bank. Bauer had argued that the government took his money several times, leaving him with almost nothing. “I’m a constitutionalist,” he insisted, adding that “every single act was justifiable.” A month earlier, a Pennsylvania man charged with drunken driving told court officials that they lacked jurisdiction over him because he was a “sovereign man.” Then he changed his mind and pleaded guilty. In Nevada, a sovereign citizen — perhaps a Dr. Seuss fan —used the peculiar punctuation of names that is favored by the movement; his name, he declared, was “I am: Sam.”

    But few of the cases are that amusing. In February, a New York man who once declared himself a “sovereign citizen” of the “Republic of New York” and said that he enjoyed studying “the organic Constitution and the Bill of Rights” allegedly shot and killed four people. His murder case was pending at press time.

    Swearing at the Government
    Oath Keepers, the military and police organization that was formed earlier this year and held its April muster on Lexington Green, may be a particularly worrisome example of the Patriot revival. Members vow to fulfill the oaths to the Constitution that they swore while in the military or law enforcement. “Our oath is to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and we will not obey unconstitutional (and thus illegal) and immoral orders,” the group says. Oath Keepers lists 10 orders its members won’t obey, including two that reference U.S. concentration camps.

    That same pugnacious attitude was on display after conservatives attacked an April report from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that suggested a resurgence of radical right-wing activity was under way. “We will not fear our government; they will fear us,” one man, who appeared to be on active duty in the Army, said in an angry video sent to the Oath Keepers blog. In another video at the site, a man who said he was a former Army paratrooper in Afghanistan and Iraq described President Obama as “an enemy of the state,” adding, “I would rather die than be a slave to my government.” The Oath Keepers site soon began hawking T-shirts with slogans like “I’m a Right Wing Extremist and Damn Proud of It!”

    In April, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes — a Yale Law School graduate and former aide to U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (a Texas Republican and hard-line libertarian) — worried about a coming dictatorship. “We know that if the day should come where a full-blown dictatorship would come, or tyranny … it can only happen if those men, our brothers in arms, go along and comply with unconstitutional, unlawful orders,” Rhodes told conspiracy-minded radio host Alex Jones. “Imagine if we focus on the police and military. Game over for the New World Order.”

    He’s not the first to think so. In the 1990s, retired Phoenix cop and conspiracy enthusiast Jack McLamb created an outfit called Police Against the New World Order and produced a 75-page document entitled Operation Vampire Killer 2000: American Police Action Plan for Stopping World Government Rule.

    It’s not known how large Oath Keepers is. But there is some evidence beyond the group’s mere existence to suggest that today’s Patriots are again making inroads into law enforcement — the leak of the DHS report, along with those of a couple of similar law enforcement reports, was likely the work of a sworn officer. Rhodes claims to know a federal officer leaked the DHS report, and says Oath Keepers is “hearing from more and more federal officers all the time.”

    The group does seem to be on the radar of federal law enforcement officers. In May, a member complained on the group’s website of a visit to his farm by FBI agents who asked him, he said, about training he provides in firearms, survival skills and the like.

    One Oath Keeper is longtime militia hero Richard Mack, a former sheriff of a rural Arizona county who collaborated with white supremacist Randy Weaver on a book and who, along with others, won a U.S. Supreme Court decision that weakened the Brady Bill gun control law in the 1990s. “The greatest threat we face today is not terrorists; it is our federal government,” Mack says on his website. “One of the best and easiest solutions is to depend on local officials, especially the sheriff, to stand against federal intervention and federal criminality.” Mack’s views echo those of the Posse Comitatus, which believed that sheriffs are the highest law enforcement authorities in America. “I pray for the day that a sheriff in this country will arrest an IRS agent for trespassing or attempting to victimize citizens in that particular sheriff’s county,” Mack said in a video he made for Oath Keepers.

    Going Mainstream
    A remarkable aspect of the current antigovernment movement is the extent to which it has gained support from elected officials and mainstream media outlets. Lawmakers complaining about the intrusiveness of the federal government have introduced 10th Amendment resolutions (reasserting that those powers not granted to the federal government remain with the states) in about three dozen states. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry raised the prospect of secession several months after Obama’s inauguration — a notion first brought up there in the ’90s by the militia-like Republic of Texas. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said she feared that the president was planning “reeducation camps for young people,” while U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), evoking memories of the discredited communist-hunter Sen. Joseph McCarthy, warned of 17 “socialists” in Congress. Fox News host Glenn Beck, who has called Obama a fascist, a Nazi and a Marxist, even re-floated militia conspiracy theories of the 1990s alleging a secret network of government-run concentration camps.

    The original movement also had its mainstream backers, but they were largely confined to talk radio; today, Beck is just one of the well-known cable TV news personalities to air fictitious conspiracies and other unlikely Patriot ideas. CNN’s Lou Dobbs has treated the so-called Aztlan conspiracy as a bona fide concern and questioned the validity of Obama’s birth certificate despite his own network’s definitive debunking of that claim. On MSNBC, commentator Pat Buchanan suggested recently that white Americans are now suffering “exactly what was done to black folks.” On FOX News, regular contributor Dick Morris said, “Those crazies in Montana who say, ‘We’re going to kill ATF agents because the U.N.’s going to take over’ — well, they’re beginning to have a case.”

    At the same time, players like the National Rifle Association, which in the 1990s publicly attacked federal law enforcement agents as “jackbooted thugs,” are back at it. Two months before the election last fall, firearms manufacturers joined forces to promote NRA membership in a national campaign ominously dubbed “Prepare for the Storm in 2008.”

    If all this seems like an alarming situation, just be thankful the cattle isn’t inclined to go sightseeing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 15, 2014, 6:46 pm
  13. With the Bundy Ranch standoff looking like it’s merely gone into remission, the US is likely to be asking itself the question “what would it be like if the federal government lost the ability to regulate the use of federal land and it was suddenly returned to states and/or local officials?” for the foreseeable future. It’s one of the many oligarch-friendly questions conveniently raised by the Bundy ranch’s war on the federal government:

    Christian Science Monitor
    Nevada range war: Western states move to take over federal land

    The fight over Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s cows grazing illegally on federal land is a symbol of a much larger issue: control of land in western states, where the federal government is dominant.

    By Brad Knickerbocker, Staff writer / April 20, 2014

    Like a mustang tied to a fence post, many westerners for years have resisted Uncle Sam’s control of land they say more properly belongs to states or counties – or to nobody at all except the ranchers, miners, and loggers who work the land for its natural resources.

    The tussle over Cliven Bundy’s 400 cows – grazing on federal land, although he refuses to pay the required fees now amounting to more than $1 million – sharpens this debate, which has featured state legislators, county officials, environmentalists, and federal judges (all of whom have ruled against Mr. Bundy).

    In Salt Lake City Friday, representatives from Utah, Idaho, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, Oregon, and Washington met for a “Legislative Summit on the Transfer of Public Lands.”

    “Those of us who live in the rural areas know how to take care of lands,” Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder said at a news conference. “We have to start managing these lands. It’s the right thing to do for our people, for our environment, for our economy and for our freedoms.”

    In other words, today’s revival of the “Sagebrush Rebellion” is as much about political philosophy as it is about great stretches of the largely-arid territory west of the 100th meridian splitting the Dakotas and running down through Texas.

    There’s a modern tea party political element to it, but it goes much farther back to when many western territories achieved statehood in the 19th century, working out deals with Washington (as Mormon Utah did over what adherents at the time called “plural marriages”).

    The map accompanying this article [see map] shows the difference between the West and the rest of the country. Here’s a list showing percentages of federal land by state, according to the Congressional Research Service. It includes the US Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, National Parks, and military bases: Nevada 81, Alaska 62, Utah 67, Oregon 53, Idaho 62, Arizona 42, California 48, Wyoming 48, New Mexico 35, Colorado 36.

    State lawmakers say they’re better prepared to manage such lands, both for the environment and for regional economies.

    “There is a distinct difference in the way federal agencies are managing the federal lands today,” Sen. Fielder said. “They used to do a good job, but they are hamstrung now with conflicting policies, politicized science, and an extreme financial crisis at the national level. It makes it impossible for these federal agencies to manage the lands responsibly anymore.”

    Utah has led a legislative charge to demand relinquishment of title to certain lands that exclude national parks and wilderness study areas, reports the Deseret News in Salt Lake City.

    The “Transfer of Public Lands Act,” signed into law by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert in 2012, set the stage for a formal showdown with the government by demanding action under threat of lawsuit, the newspaper reports. Other states are exploring similar options.

    “BLM says it’s committed to conserving species and habitats in California deserts – yet it has failed to comply with even the most basic requirements for management of desert tortoises and other rare and vulnerable wildlife,” Lisa Belenky, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

    A potentially dangerous confrontation was averted last week when the BLM stopped rounding up Cliven Bundy’s cattle, which had been described as “trespassing” on federal land. Hundreds of Bundy supporters had gathered, many of them armed with assault-style rifles and other weapons.

    Ah, so we have state officials arguing that the federal government simply isn’t capable of proper land management due to factors like an extreme financial crisis at the national level (what could have caused that?). And the proposed solution the is for the western states with massive portions of federal land to suddenly assume that responsibility under the premise that they’ll do a better job. It’s certainly possible that the states could do a better job than the feds. Note, for example, the environmentalists that point out how the BLM wasn’t even complying with “the most basic requirements for management of desert tortoises and other rare and vulnerable wildlife”, so there’s clearly quite a bit of room for improvement.

    But how will the states pay for this new found responsibility? That’s not clear. At all. Although it sounds like it will involve selling more mineral rights:

    Deseret News
    Western states to feds: Turn over public lands

    By Amy Joi O’Donoghue, Deseret News

    Published: Friday, April 18 2014 8:25 p.m. MDT

    SALT LAKE CITY — A group of lawmakers and policymakers from eight Western states joined forces Friday in an all-day summit in Salt Lake City to declare “enough is enough” against the federal government when it comes to management of public lands.

    “It is time states in the West came of age,” said Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Twin Falls. “We are every bit as capable of managing the lands within our boundaries as are the states to our east, those states east of Colorado.”

    Bedke and representatives from Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and Utah, are part of a coalition of Western states where federal land ownership has been an enduring complaint they say locks up access to mineral resources, strips them of revenue and shreds their autonomy when it comes to control of their own house.

    “There is a distinct difference in the way federal agencies are managing the federal lands today,” said Montana Sen. Jennifer Fielder, a co-organizer of the summit.

    “They used they to do a good job, but they are hamstrung now with conflicting policies, politicized science and an extreme financial crisis at the national level. It makes it impossible for these federal agencies to manage the lands responsibly any more.”

    Utah, where 67 percent of the land is in federal land ownership, has led a legislative charge to demand relinquishment of title to certain lands that exclude national parks and wilderness study areas.

    The Transfer of Public Lands Act, sponsored by Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan and signed into law by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert in 2012, set the stage for a formal showdown with the government by demanding action under threat of lawsuit.

    Other states are exploring similar options in a collaborative effort to not only signal a show of solidarity but craft like-mind solutions to the problem, said Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo.

    “The majority of these states have more federal land within their borders than land of their own,” she said. “It is about fairness.”

    She deflected questions about how much such an effort would ultimately cost the states involved, instead pointing to the cost of inaction, on both sides.

    “I would counter with what is it costing the government to maintain control and management of the federal lands. What if we don’t act? We believe the states can manage the lands better at lower costs and at greater returns for our taxpayers and our children.”

    Both she and Ivory added that the movement is not “new,” with her saying the “great Western state of Illinois,” once had 90 percent of its lands in federal ownership.

    But the transfer of public lands movement by Utah has come under harsh criticism by environmental groups that claim it is a reckless, costly pursuit that will only cost millions and ultimately put landscapes at risk. Pristine land, they argue, will be auctioned off to the highest bidder with little regard to environmental impacts.

    Surprise! While illegal ranching has become the face of this latest “states rights” fight, it’s mineral rights (i.e. oligarchs’ rights to those minerals) that’s on lawmakers’ s minds. And with a lot to minerals to sell, those rights could probably come pretty cheaply. Hence the interest:

    Sierra Club calls 3-state area ‘climate disrupter’

    The Associated Press April 19, 2014

    SALT LAKE CITY — The Sierra Club branded a geological formation that includes portions of Utah, Colorado and Wyoming as one of six “climate disrupter” regions in the country due to its potential for major fossil fuel development. The characterization comes in a report that one oil company called inaccurate.

    The environmental organization, in the report titled “Dirty Fuels, Clean Futures,” says tar sands and shale oil development in the Green River Formation would eclipse any progress made by the Obama administration’s strict new fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, the Deseret News reported Friday (http://bit.ly/1llRS5T ).

    The Sierra Club said developing just 10 percent of the shale oil in the three states would result in 48 billion tons of carbon dioxide — eight times more than would be saved by the new fuel standards.

    Group spokesman Tim Wagner called on President Barack Obama to abandon his “all of the above” energy strategy, under which U.S. oil and gas production would increase along with attempts to reduce pollution. Wagner says the White House instead should pursue clean energy to help the country continue on its path of decreasing carbon monoxide emissions.

    “We need to ramp this up dramatically, and we can do that,” he told the newspaper. “But as long as we have politicians, including this White House, who continue to say we need an all-of-the-above energy portfolio, we will never get to where we need to be in terms of this problem.”

    Estonia-based Enefit issued a statement saying the report includes inaccuracies and mischaracterizations about the shale oil industry. The company has mineral rights to a large tract of land in Utah believed to contain 2.6 billion barrels of recoverable shale oil.

    Enefit contends that carbon dioxide emissions from shale-oil-derived fuels are overblown and based on broad estimates. The company also claims water use in the process was misrepresented by the Sierra Club.

    “Enefit realizes the Sierra Club is opposed to fossil fuel development and will never be a fan of oil shale projects like ours,” the company said. “We also realize that companies and groups on all sides present information in nuanced ways that speak to sympathetic audiences.

    “At the same time, however, we believe in communicating as accurately and fairly as possible and we encourage the Sierra Club to do the same.”

    Isn’t it neat how a ranching conflict in Nevada is leading to a ‘grass-roots’ political movement that’s potentially going to free up vast mineral reserves in Utah, Colorado, and Wymoming. Funny how that worked out.

    But also sounds like Utah’s state regulators will have to have to polish off their conflict resolution skills once they gain oversight over all those mineral-rich federal lands because the the environmentalists and the mining industry can’t seem agree on the risks of tar sands and oils shale mining. Hmmmm….which interest group will state officials side with? The environmentalists or the Koch brothers and ALEC?

    It’s this broader topic of “states rights to sell mineral rights” highlight the fact that the question “should the states take over federal land regulations?” begs a parallel question “since the states that are trying to change these laws obviously want to dramatically increase the mining taking place there, what will happen when the Koch brothers and their affiliates suddenly become my next door neighbors?”

    Should we expect there be more “oopsies”, like the recent dumping of nausea-inducing chemicals into the West Virginian water supply on all those newly liberated lands? The facility that leaked the chemical, which was located right next to the local water supply source, was the distributor of Koch-owned Georgia Pacific’s Talon(TM) Mining Reagents for distributing used chemicals to break down coal ash. The facilities were also decrepit. And nobody’s quite sure of who owns what.

    Does that sound appetizing? Because a lot more fun times like West Virginia’s “Freedom Industries” experience might be coming to the Western US?

    Bloomberg
    Who Runs Freedom Industries? West Virginia’s Chemical Spill Mystery
    By Paul M. Barrett January 30, 2014

    Before the lawsuits and the retreat into federal bankruptcy court, before the change in ownership in a veiled roll-up by an out-of-state coal baron, before the Justice Department’s environmental-crimes investigation, the presidentially declared emergency, and the National Guard’s arrival—nine years before all of that—the co-founder of Freedom Industries, the company at the center of the Jan. 9 chemical spill that cut off tap water for 300,000 West Virginians, was convicted of siphoning payroll tax withholdings to splurge on sports cars, a private plane, and real estate in the Bahamas. And 18 years before that, in 1987, before he started Freedom Industries, Carl Kennedy II was convicted of conspiring to sell cocaine in a scandal that brought down the mayor of Charleston.

    Little known, even locally, Freedom was born and operated in a felonious milieu populated by old friends who seemed better suited to bartending at the Charleston-area saloons they also owned. “These people who were running Freedom Industries weren’t the sort you’d put in charge of something like chemical storage that could affect the whole community,” Danny Jones, Charleston’s current mayor, says. “Who are these guys, anyway?

    Good question. Kennedy kept the books for bars and restaurants, including a rib house Mayor Jones used to own, although he hadn’t gotten to know him well. “He was pleasant enough,” Jones says. Until the spill, the mayor had no idea his former accountant had been enmeshed with Freedom. That really seems troubling, Jones says, “especially with the cocaine stuff in his history.”

    Kennedy’s main partner was a college buddy named Dennis Farrell, who had some technical background and took over Freedom after Kennedy went to prison in 2006. By Farrell’s own account, the company, founded in 1992, nearly ran aground on his watch. Only a rescue in 2009 funded by the federal antirecession stimulus program kept the company going.

    The third member of the company’s leadership triad, Gary Southern, has served as Freedom’s public face since the spill. He lives in Marco Island, Fla., and says he’d been advising the company for several years before becoming full-time president in 2013. Not blessed with a talent for public expression, Southern didn’t mention in the first days after the leak of 10,000 gallons of coal-processing compounds that Freedom had been acquired, only 10 days earlier, by Cliff Forrest.

    A different sort of character from Kennedy, Farrell, and Southern, Forrest founded and heads Rosebud Mining, the third-largest coal producer in Pennsylvania and the 21st-largest in the country. He’s a prominent figure in his industry and an opponent of what he calls the Obama administration’s “war on coal.” Why he wanted Freedom’s decrepit facilities for blending and distributing chemicals remains a mystery. Publicly, Forrest hasn’t said a word. His connection to Freedom wasn’t confirmed until Jan. 17, when his lawyers put the company into bankruptcy. The Chapter 11 filing in Charleston required disclosure of a financial paper trail that led to Forrest’s coal company headquarters near Pittsburgh via another entity called Chemstream Holdings.

    So while the spill revealed once again that porous legislation and murky assumptions about industry self-policing hinder oversight of dangerous chemicals, it also highlighted a peculiar and deeply troubling element of American commerce, one where holding companies and roll-ups make it difficult to determine who’s accountable.

    Much of Freedom’s commerce comes from distributing products made by larger companies, including a chemicals unit of Georgia-Pacific owned by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. In May 2008, Georgia-Pacific Chemicals announced that Freedom would serve as a distributor of its Talon mining reagents—compounds that reduce ash content and prevent the loss of combustible coal—in eight states: West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Minnesota, Kentucky, and Michigan. (Four years later, Georgia-Pacific ended Freedom’s distribution role, the manufacturer said in a written statement. Georgia-Pacific didn’t explain the change and said the West Virginia company is “still a customer of ours.”)

    In 2009, Farrell told the Charleston Daily Mail, Freedom faced having to shut down its main Elk River location because silt buildup made it difficult for barges to travel from the terminal to the confluence with the Kanawha River. “At some point, we wouldn’t have been economically fit to run the facility,” Farrell said. “That’s our claim to fame—the barges.” The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers came to the rescue. With $400,000 in federal stimulus money, the Army Corps dredged the Elk River and kept the Freedom plant viable.
    a
    Freedom and a constellation of affiliated companies were dissolved and reformulated several times in the 2000s, state records show. The purpose of this paper shuffling wasn’t disclosed. Freedom’s operations along the Elk River did not receive much government oversight, according to records and local officials. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency leaves regulation of such chemical facilities primarily to the states. West Virginia doesn’t view that delegation of authority as reason to regulate aggressively, however. To the contrary, the state prides itself on being industry-friendly, and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, routinely castigates what he calls federal overreaching. West Virginia doesn’t require inspection of storage tanks containing potentially dangerous coal-processing chemicals, according to Larry Zuspan, who runs the local emergency planning committee in Charleston. What made the Freedom tank farm on the city’s outskirts unusual, even for West Virginia, is that the regional utility operates the sole intake for the area’s public water system only a mile and a half downriver.

    Also surprisingly close to the Freedom site is a cluster of working-class homes. From time to time over the years, Mayor Jones says, people have complained to state authorities about unpleasant odors wafting from the facility. State inspectors have looked around but never reported anything amiss, according to available records. In particular, they didn’t notice that a concrete containment wall meant to prevent any tank leakage from reaching the river was visibly cracked, Jones says. Only after the Jan. 9 spill did Freedom disclose that sometime in 2013 it had set aside $1 million to fix the wall and make other improvements; for reasons that haven’t been clarified, the repairs hadn’t started. On Jan. 25, Governor Tomblin’s office announced that the state had ordered Freedom to shut down and dismantle the entire tank farm because all 17 tanks lack adequate containment walls to prevent leaks from spreading.

    Stories like this are also a reminder that extreme anti-government movements rooted in the sovereign citizens/Posse Comitatus philosophy aren’t just anti-government. They’re potentially very pro-oligarch.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 20, 2014, 8:00 pm
  14. Cliven Bundy on ‘the Negro’, in his own words:

    TPM Livewire
    Cliven Bundy Wonders If Blacks Are ‘Better Off As Slaves’ Than On Gov’t Assistance

    Catherine Thompson – April 24, 2014, 6:49 AM EDT

    Now that he’s won a confrontation with the Bureau of Land Management over grazing his cattle on federal land, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has time to hold court on everything from abortion to the current state of “the Negro.”

    Bundy made some racially charged comments about government assistance in his daily news conference Saturday, according to a New York Times story published Wednesday.

    “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” the rancher began as he described a “government house” in Las Vegas where he recalled that all the people who sat outside seemed to “have nothing to do.”

    “And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he said, as quoted by the Times. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

    The Times reached out to spokespeople for Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Dean Heller (R-NV), who have spoken in support of Bundy, and for Texas Attorney Gen. Greg Abbott (R). Those who responded distanced themselves from Bundy and his remarks.

    A spokesman for Heller, who had called Bundy and his supporters “patriots,” told the Times that the senator “completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way.”

    A spokeswoman for Abbott, who asked BLM to respond to reports that it planned to acquire land near his state’s Red River in the wake of the Bundy ranch standoff, told the Times that the gubernatorial candidate’s letter to the agency “was regarding a dispute in Texas and is in no way related to the dispute in Nevada.”

    A spokesman for Paul told the Times that the senator wasn’t immediately available for comment on Bundy’s remarks. In a statement later provided to Business Insider, Paul denounced the comments.

    “His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him,” Paul said through a spokesman.

    In the aftermath of Bundy’s standoff with federal authorities, conservatives were quick to champion the rancher’s cause, going as far as to compare him to civil rights icons. Richard Mack, a right-wing former sheriff who helped organize the militia that gathered at Bundy’s ranch, said the rancher and his supporters were like “Rosa Parks refusing to go to the back of the bus.” National Review correspondent Kevin D. Williamson wrote that the Bundy’s struggles with the law paralleled those of Mahatma Gandhi.

    Get ready for more bold standoffs for freedom. Courage is contagious.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 24, 2014, 7:53 am
  15. It looks like we have a clarification from Cliven Bundy regarding his recent comments on ‘the Negro’:

    TPM Livewire
    Bundy Tries To Clarify His Slavery Remarks: ‘I’m Not Racist’
    Updated 1:25 PM EDT, Thu Apr 24 2014
    Dylan Scott – April 24, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT

    Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy made the rounds on conservative radio shows Thursday, trying to explain his musings about whether blacks had been “better off as slaves.”

    In an interview with conspiracy extraordinaire Alex Jones, Bundy said he would appreciate it if The New York Times retracted their story.

    “I would appreciate that. I think they should do that,” Bundy said. “They’re making it a racist-type thing. I’m not racist.”

    Bundy also went on The Peter Schiff Show to explain his remarks, as Mediaite reported. Noting that the word on the Internet was that Cliven Bundy is a racist, the host asked if Bundy wanted to clarify his remarks. Here’s what Bundy said:

    I’m wondering if they’re better off under a government subsidy and their young women are having the abortions and their young men are in jail and their older women and children are sitting out on the cement porch without nothing to do.

    I’m wondering: Are they happier now under this government subsidy system than they were when they were when they were slaves and they was able to their family structure together and the chickens and the garden and the people have something to do?

    So in my mind, are they better off being slaves in that sense or better off being slaves to the United States government in the sense of the subsidy? I’m wondering. The statement was right. I am wondering.

    Ah, there we go. He meant every word of it but they were merely words of wonder. Good thing that’s all cleared up.

    We now return to your regularly scheduled programming…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 24, 2014, 9:57 am
  16. Given how disappointed Cliven Bundy was over the lack of minority supporters at the the Bundy ranch (for mysterious reasons), this has got to hurt:

    TPM Livewire
    Hannity Disgusted With Bundy: Race Comments ‘Beyond Repugnant’

    Dylan Scott – April 24, 2014, 3:29 PM EDT

    Conservative media titan Sean Hannity, formerly one of Nevada rancher Clive Bundy’s strongest advocates, expressed his vehement disgust Thursday with the latter’s remarks on slavery.

    Bundy’s comments “are beyond repugnant to me. They are beyond despicable to me. They are beyond ignorant to me,” Hannity said during his radio show.

    He then turned his anger toward Democrats who would use Bundy’s comments to attack conservatives.

    “They want to say that conservatives are racist. Conservatives hate women,” Hannity said. “Conservatives want old people to die, granny over the cliff. They want the young people to fend for themselves. They want to poison the air and poison the water.”

    “People that for the right reasons saw this case as government overreach now are branded because of the ignorant, racist, repugnant, despicable comments of Cliven Bundy,” he said.

    The times they are a-changin’! And yet, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 24, 2014, 8:08 pm
  17. Rejoice Koch heads and fans of subsistence grave robbing, the cavalry has arrived:

    Think Progress
    Saturday’s Illegal Cliven Bundy-Endorsed ATV Rally Runs Through Sacred American Indian Sites

    By Matt Lee-Ashley May 10, 2014 at 1:30 pm Updated: May 10, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    An illegal all-terrain vehicle (ATV) ride planned this weekend through Recapture Canyon in Utah is the latest flashpoint between anti-government activists and federal land managers. The illegal ride is already drawing criticism from the Navajo Nation, putting American Indian burial sites and cultural resources at risk, and has even forced the cancellation of a traditional Navajo Warrior welcome home ceremony for veterans.

    Yet San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman (R-UT) and his supporters appear determined to defy federal law by riding their ATVs through Recapture Canyon, an area of southeast Utah known as a “mini-Mesa Verde” because it contains one of the highest densities of archaeological sites in the country.

    Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who has refused to pay more than $1 million in grazing fees he owes U.S. taxpayers, has reportedly urged his supporters -– who include armed militia members –- to join Lyman in Utah this weekend.

    “We need to help the people of Blanding re-establish who is in control of the land,” said Bundy and his wife, Carol, in an email that was reported by E&E News. “This is your next stand. Will you be there to help them like you helped us?”

    Utah County Commissioner Phil Lyman shares Cliven Bundy’s anti-government views. In his showdown with federal law enforcement officials last month, Bundy made clear he does not recognize the authority of the federal government. “I abide by all of Nevada state laws,” said Bundy, “But I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.”

    Like the Bundy confrontation in Nevada, the illegal ATV ride through Recapture Canyon is intended to challenge federal authority over public lands. Lyman, reports the Salt Lake Tribune, “says the planned ride aims to assert county jurisdiction in the face of federal ‘overreach.’”

    The anti-government views of Cliven Bundy and Phil Lyman are also shared by a growing fringe of elected officials who want to sell-off or seize America’s public lands.

    According to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a network of right-wing elected officials, organizations, and prominent commentators share Mr. Bundy’s anti-government views and are advancing proposals to seize or sell-off federal public lands in eight Western states.

    This network of so-called ‘Bundy’s Buddies’ includes the Koch-funded organization Americans for Prosperity, U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful Rand Paul (R-KY), Utah Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT), and Utah State Representative Ken Ivory. Ivory leads the American Lands Council — a group dedicated to advocating for the seizure of federal lands.

    A new website from the Center for Western Priorities, BundysBuddies.org, identifies additional elected officials who share the anti-government views of Bundy and Lyman.

    Most Westerners reject the anti-government land seizure agenda of the so-called “Bundy’s Buddies.”

    Lyman and the other “Bundy’s Buddies” who are working to sell-off or seize America’s public lands are far outside the mainstream of views in the American West.

    Public opinion research commissioned by Colorado College in February, 2014, found that nearly three in four Westerners –- and 63 percent of voters in Utah — are less likely to vote for a candidate who wants to sell public lands to reduce the deficit. And more than nine out of ten Western voters view their national forests, monuments, wildlife areas, and public lands as integral to their state’s economy.

    Yes, the ATV cavalry is coming to the ancient burial grounds of Utah, but if Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt (and Bundy booster) gets his way, they may not be there for long. There are other battles to wage. Everywhere:

    Raw Story
    Gun lobbyist hopeful that Bundy militia will block feds if they try to do anything, anywhere
    By Eric W. Dolan
    Tuesday, May 13, 2014 10:54 EDT

    The same militias that prevented the Bureau of Land Management from rounding up cattle at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada could take action against federal agents all across the Western United States, according to the head of a gun advocacy group.

    Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt made the comments over the weekend while interviewing former Sheriff Richard Mack, the founder of the posse group called the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association.

    “Hopefully, they are not going to be able to recover from this, because if there is anything at all similar, be it cows or a mine or cutting trees or anything of that sort where, typically in the West, those are the kind of situations where the feds think they got it all,” he said. “It is time that, hopefully Bundy is going to be the encouragement — or maybe from the feds view the match in the gasoline — that redirects the way the federal government has been handling its unauthorized, unconstitutional, very poor stewardship of so much of the West.”

    Pratt and Mack also proposed a solution to the drought in California. Sheriffs should force utilities to divert water to farmers in arid regions in the state, they said.

    “You mentioned mining and logging,” Mack remarked. “The other one was actual farming, where the federal government has turned off the water to the San Joaquin Valley in California, where we get 50 percent of our fruits, vegetables, and nuts for this entire country.”

    “You know, we need a sheriff there that is just going to walk into the water facility and turn it back on,” Pratt replied.

    But Mack said one sheriff wasn’t enough. He suggested 25 sheriffs were needed.

    “Take 25 California sheriffs, walk up to that facility, and say, ‘Guess what boys, we got a court order. Turn on the water, and if you don’t, we will,’” Mack explained. “That is exactly what it is going to take.”

    Yes, why send only one sheriff to the San Joaquin water facility when, obviously, there might be a violent standoff? 25 armed sheriffs will clearly be needed.

    Of course, if the federal government has already released the water before the posse arrives they might have to pick another fight (there’s a growing wishlist so that shouldn’t be an issue).

    Or the ATV posse can just hang out in San Joaquin and wait for the water crisis to grow even worse leading to even more opportunities to send in the sheriffs. It shouldn’t take too long:

    San Jose Mercury News
    California Drought: San Joaquin Valley sinking as farmers race to tap aquifer

    By Lisa M. Krieger

    lkrieger@mercurynews.com
    Posted: 03/29/2014 01:28:19 PM PDT43 Comments | Updated: about a month ago

    PIXLEY – So wet was the San Joaquin Valley of Steve Arthur’s childhood that a single 240-foot-deep well could quench the thirst of an arid farm.

    Now his massive rig, bucking and belching, must drill 1,200 feet deep in search of ever-more-elusive water to sustain this wheat farm north of Bakersfield. As he drills, his phone rings with three new appeals for help.

    “Everybody is starting to panic,” said Arthur, whose Fresno-based well-drilling company just bought its ninth rig, off the Wyoming oil fields. “Without water, this valley can’t survive.”

    When water doesn’t fall from the sky or flow from reservoirs, there’s only one place to find it: underground. So, three years into a devastating drought, thirsty Californians are draining the precious aquifer beneath the nation’s most productive farmland like never before, pitting neighbor against neighbor in a perverse race to the bottom.

    The rush to drill is driven not just by historically dry conditions, but by a host of other factors that promote short-term consumption over long-term survival — new, more moisture-demanding crops; improved drilling technologies; and a surge of corporate investors seeking profits for agricultural ventures.

    Now those forces are renewing an age-old problem of environmental degradation: Decades ago, overpumping sunk half of the entire San Joaquin Valley, in one area as much as 28 feet. Today new areas are subsiding, some almost a foot each year, damaging bridges and vital canals.

    Yet in California, one of the few states that doesn’t regulate how much water can be pumped from underground, even this hasn’t been enough to create a consensus to stop.

    “It’s our savings account, and we’re draining it,” said Phil Isenberg of the Public Policy Institute of California, a former Sacramento mayor and assemblyman. “At some point, there will be none left.”

    ‘Hitting bottom’ before long?

    The trends are alarming, the politics complex, but the science is rather simple: The Central Valley — from Redding to Bakersfield — is consuming twice as much groundwater as nature is returning through rain and snow.

    The rate of water loss over the past two years is the largest since the University of California started using NASA satellites to measure underground water reserves in 2003. The Central Valley’s reserves are shrinking by 800 billion gallons a year — enough to supply every resident of California with water for seven months, according to Jay Famiglietti, director of the University of California Center for Hydrologic Modeling.

    “We may only be a few decades away from hitting bottom,” said Famiglietti, considered one of the leading experts on state water policy.

    However, little is being done to control it. States such as Kansas and even Texas prevent unlimited pumping of groundwater. But California has failed to regulate how much groundwater is pumped, leaving it up to the courts to settle disputes over excessive use, according to Barton H. “Buzz” Thompson Jr., professor of natural resources law at Stanford University.

    Overpumping not only lowers the water table and collapses land at the surface, but it also lowers water quality and requires more power to pump. River flows are lower, and shallow wells are exhausted.

    Farmers have long relied on the government’s engineering marvel of aqueducts to bring surface water from giant reservoirs in the north to the south. However, the federally run Central Valley Project allotted farmers only 20 percent of their share last year — and none this year. Officials who manage the State Water Project, California’s other major water system, have also said that they will not be releasing any water for farmers, a first in the system’s 54-year history.

    So with the drought cutting off their deliveries, farmers say they must rely on the only source left. Those who can afford the $200,000 to $600,000 price tag are digging deeper and deeper to tap into a once-unreachable aquifer. Many are taking out loans, betting on crop yields to break even.

    Changes on the horizon?

    Regulations are anathema to most of California’s farmers and developers, who consider well-drilling a private property right — and blame environmental laws such as the protection of endangered fish and the government’s unreliable water shipments for their desperate situation. To reduce groundwater use, they say, more dams are needed to store water to help them get through dry years.

    However, change is creeping over the political horizon. An increasing number of farmers concede that local, regional or state pressure might be the only way to preserve groundwater. This summer, the state will issue a draft plan to manage groundwater. Because it supports local management with state oversight, experts say it may succeed where previous plans have failed.

    Possible groundwater management tools could include monitoring, reporting and setting a price on water withdrawals, and even restrictions on pumping.

    This year’s drought won’t be the last one, or even the worst, scientists say. Climate change is expected to further stress the state’s naturally dry environment. Snowmelt runoff will decrease. Reservoir levels will fall as heat evaporates more water. Heat-stressed crops and population growth will build even more demand.

    During future droughts, experts fear, groundwater may not be there to patch us through.

    In the Pixley wheat field, Arthur’s newly deepened $200,000 well is spurting gallons of fresh water — a sign that there will be a harvest this year. But how long before a deeper well is needed?

    “The one thing I can’t determine is how much water it is going to produce,” Arthur said.

    “We were a desert before. We could be a desert again.”

    Uh oh! Now that the ground is sinking, even California’s farmers are talking about regulating their use of a shared resource. And it sounds like it’ll be a blend of local management with state oversight, so the war on the Feds won’t really apply. How are ‘Bundy’s Buddies’ going to respond to that? Declare victory and ride on to greener pastures? Or will the battle simply morph one of those ‘Kochs vs the locals’ fight? It’s hard to say. Civic autoimmunity disorders can take many forms.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 14, 2014, 9:32 am
  18. Will the ATV Freedom Brigade make it to the big “overthrow the government” rally in DC? The roads should still be clear so we’ll just have to wait and see if the government surrenders some time soon…

    The Wire
    May 15, 2014 8:45AM ET / Politics
    How to Manage Expectations for Your Rally to Overthrow the American Government
    Abby Ohlheiser

    Retired Army Col. Harry Riley expects that somewhere between 10 million and 30 million people will help him shut down Washington on Friday for Operation American Spring. Operation American Spring, in case you didn’t get your invitation, is a militia-heavy protest explicitly aiming to force Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, and Eric Holder from office. This is not going to happen. 30 million people will not show up for Riley’s protest. And the protest will not overthrow the government.

    So, for the benefit of the future of the Overthrow Obama protest movement, here is a guide to managing expectations and making your attempted coup the best version of itself.

    Learn from the Examples of Others

    Had Riley based his estimate on anything other than, we presume, the numbers he’d like to see in the papers, he’d know that promises to send We the People to the door of American power rarely meet lofty turnout estimates. Last October, “10,000” truckers were reportedly on their way to literally clog the Beltway and shut down traffic in protest of Washington politics. In reality, about 30 truckers showed up, and they caused no delays worth mentioning. In November, Larry Klayman promised that “millions” would show up at his rally “to occupy Washington D.C” and call for the overthrow of President Obama. Instead, the crowd looked more like this:
    [see tweet]

    Look at Some Polls

    Riley’s high estimate of 30 million people amounts to a little under 10 percent of the entire U.S. population. While no one has polled reliably on whether Americans want to forcibly remove Obama and several other members of the federal government from office, we do have some polling on American attitudes towards the president and the government in general. Polling on impeachment is tough, but the most reliable figures out there seem to estimate that as much as 35 percent of the entire population would favor the House of Representatives bringing impeachment proceedings against the president (depending on how the Huffington Post asked that question, however, results varied widely).

    35 percent! That’s more than 10 percent, so Riley’s in the clear, right? Not exactly. Take a look at those attendance figures up above. Under a million people showed up for the Million Man March. Glenn Beck’s highly publicized rally, at the height of his influence and with a still-fresh Tea Party, was under 100,000. By comparison, Operation American Spring’s Facebook Page has 800 likes, and Riley’s explanatory video promoting the rally has about 9,500 views:
    [see video]
    In order to get even the low Riley estimate, nearly a third of all Americans who would support some sort of impeachment proceedings would have to take Friday off from work, travel to Washington, and stand with the militias for the protest. It’s not impossible that such a thing would happen. But it almost certainly won’t.

    Have a Back Up Plan

    Operation American Spring has a very detailed, widely-circulated plan. Mission? “Restoration of Constitutional government, rule of law, freedom, liberty “of the people, by the people, for the people” from despotic and tyrannical federal leadership.” It continues:

    Assumptions:

    Millions of Americans will participate.
    American veterans and patriots are energized to end the tyranny, lawlessness, and shredding of the US Constitution.
    Government is not the target, it is sound; corrupt and criminal leadership must be replaced.
    Those in power will not hesitate to use force against unarmed, peaceful patriots exercising their constitutional rights.
    Patriots may be incarcerated, wounded or god forbid; killed.

    It goes on, outlining the plan of action, with the assumption that 10 million people show up to participate:

    Phase 1 – Field millions, as many as ten million, Patriots who will assemble in a peaceful,non-violent, physically unarmed (Spiritually/Constitutionally armed), display of unswerving loyalty to the United States of America Constitution and against the incumbent government leadership in Washington D.C., with the mission to replace with law-abiding leadership. Go full-bore, no looking back, steadfast in the mission.

    Phase 2 – One million or more of the assembled must be prepared to stay in D.C. as long as it takes to see Obama, Biden, Reid, McConnell, Boehner, Pelosi, and Attorney General Holderresign or be removed from office.

    Consistent with the US Constitution, as required, the U.S. Congress will take appropriate action, execute appropriate legislation, deal with vacancies, or U.S. States appoint replacements for positions vacated consistent with established constitutional requirements.

    Phase 3Principled leaders such as, Former Representative Allen West, Senator Ted Cruz, Doctor. Ben Carson, Senator Mike Lee, Former Senator Jim DeMint, Senator Rand Paul, Governor Scott Walker, Senator Jeff Sessions, Representative Trey Gowdy, Representative Jim Jordan, appointed by their peers, would comprise a tribunal and assume positions of authority to convene investigations, recommend appropriate charges against politicians and government employees to the new U.S. Attorney General appointed by the new President.

    This plan would certainly send a message, but given the above, it seems prudent to make sure you have a Plan B in case the crowd is less than historically unprecedented.

    What? Sarah Palin wasn’t listed as one of the “principle leaders”? What happened? Regardless, it would be interesting to see how many of the ‘principled leaders’ listed above would be on board with the tribunal idea. It could be pretty demoralizing to their base if they weren’t. And that’s part of what makes stunts like this so fascinating: given the wacky, over-the-top nature of the scheme it’s unclear what the real impact might be on the far right base that attends these kind of events. Are the organizers really going to fuel the ol’ ‘impeach the imposter!’ movement that started back in March of 2009 (and presumably earlier)? Or are they just going to end up demoralizing it:

    Operation American Spring falls flat: ‘This is very disappointing,’ Texan says
    By Cheryl K. Chumley

    The Washington Times

    Friday, May 16, 2014

    Operation American Spring, billed as a Friday morning multi-million patriot march on Washington, D.C., to oust leadership from the nation’s capital — from President Obama to House Speaker John Boeher — has proven woefully below expectations.

    “It’s a very dismal turnout,” said Jackie Milton, 61, a Jacksboro, Texas, resident and the head of Texans for Operation American Spring, to The Washington Times. He said hopes were high when he arrived in Alexandria, Va., a day or so ago and found motels and hotels were sold out for 30 miles around.

    But weather’s dampened turnout a bit, he said.

    “We were getting over two inches of rain in hour in parts of Virginia this morning,” Mr. Milton said. “Now it’s a nice sunny day. But this is a very poor turnout. It ain’t no millions. And it ain’t looking like there’s going to be millions. Hundreds is more like it.”

    Operation American Spring was billed as far back as six months ago as a rally call for patriotic Americans to force leaders in Washington, D.C., to return to a more limited and constitutional style of governance — and to oust those leaders who weren’t listening. Among the group’s targets: Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner, as well as Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, vice president Joe Biden and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

    Initial projections were for between 10 million and 30 million to come from around the nation and converge on the downtown capital city streets outside the White House and Capitol Building — a number the organizer of the event, Army Col. Harry Riley, called optimistic yet doable, given one million militia had already agreed to come.

    “This is very disappointing,” Mr. Milton said, speaking of the numbers who showed so far, while marching to the White House. “I’ve been taking to everybody for six months, telling them to come and telling them if it’s not realistic to get to D.C., … well then, go to your county courthouse [and protest].”

    The weather likely delayed some from showing, he said. But as the sun comes out, and the weekend weather dawns balmy, more could show, he said.

    “This isn’t just the one day thing,” Mr. Milton said. “Most of our group [126 from Texas] are going to stay most of the weekend. And when the bikers come in, there will much more. I know Connecticut’s here. I know Colorado’s here. I think Utah, maybe.”

    He also said the some of the planned Operation American Spring members who were planning to head to Washington, D.C., instead traveled to Nevada, to give support to cattle rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight against the federal government over grazing fees.

    “A lot that were supposed to come here went there instead,” Mr. Milton said.

    He said his group from Texas was set up a few miles outside the capital city, in tents and mobile vehicles at a private property on Route 1

    Aha! Well now we know the cause Operation American Spring’s downfall: The ongoing Bundy Revolution is stealing all the manpower! Now it all makes sense, although this couldn’t have been very surprising since there’s a planned “sister event” at the Bundy Ranch (which must be VERY crowded). So it appears the Bundy revolution is going to have to run its course before the American Spring can truly flower in DC. If only there was a drone army that recognized the moral imperative of whatever the far right tribe happens to be feeling at the moment.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 16, 2014, 11:01 am
  19. When the local stream starts running dry there’s only one thing to do to protect what’s left: try to access the remaining trickle of water by framing the whole issue into a States’ rights fight:

    AP
    May 16, 2014, 1:03 PM
    New Mexico county clashes with feds in water rights dispute

    WEED, N.M. — The latest dispute over federal control of land and water in the West has erupted along the banks of the Agua Chiquita, a small spring-fed stream in the mountains of southern New Mexico where the federal government has installed metal fences and locked gates to keep cattle out.

    The move has enraged one rural county, where the sheriff has been ordered by the county commission to cut the locks. The U.S. attorney for the district of New Mexico is hoping a meeting Friday will ease tensions enough to avoid an escalation like the armed standoff last month over grazing rights in Nevada.

    Decades in the making, the dispute in Otero County centers on whether the U.S. Forest Service has the authority to keep ranchers from accessing Agua Chiquita, which means Little Water in Spanish. In wet years, the spring can run for miles through thick conifer forest. This summer, much of the stream bed is dry.

    The Forest Service says the enclosures are meant to protect what’s left of the wetland habitat. Forest Supervisor Travis Moseley said the metal fences and gates simply replaced strands of barbed wire that had been wrecked over the years by herds of elk.

    The Otero County Commission passed a resolution earlier this week declaring that the Forest Service doesn’t have a right to control the water. Ranchers say they believe the move is an effort by the federal government to push them from the land.

    “If we let them take over our water rights, that’s the first step. Then we would have nothing left here,” said Gary Stone, head of the Otero County Cattleman’s Association.

    U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., said what is happening in Otero County is another example of overreach by the federal government.

    “These disputes could be easily avoided if federal bureaucrats would stick to their constitutional oath and respect property rights,” he said, adding that he’s hopeful Friday’s meeting will bring resolution to the conflict.

    Rancher Ed Eldridge is hopeful too. He’s next in line to see a fence erected around the water on his allotment.

    “I don’t think any foreign power could take us over, but we might lose our country from within our borders if we lose our constitutional rights,” said Eldridge.

    Still, Eldridge, Stone and other residents aren’t looking for an armed standoff with the federal government. They say they just want their water and property rights recognized and respected.

    Attorney Blair Dunn, who is representing some of the ranchers, said he’s worried that transparency and a media spotlight could be the only things that prevent the dispute from reaching a dangerous boiling point.

    “Generally, cooler heads prevail when we’re able to sit everybody down and figure out something that works,” Dunn said.

    So will cooler heads prevail or will the ATV Brigade of Freedom be necessary to free the Agua Chiqita stream from the tyranny of regulations? Only time will tell. And hopefully time will heal some wounds too, but don’t assume the time will heal all wounds. The festering ones might spend that time festering:

    USA Today
    Seven states running out of water
    Alexander E.M. Hess and Thomas C. Frohlich, 24/7 Wall St. 6:30 a.m. EDT May 25, 2014

    The United States is currently engulfed in one of the worst droughts in recent memory. More than 30% of the country experienced at least moderate drought as of last week’s data.

    In seven states drought conditions were so severe that each had more than half of its land area in severe drought. Severe drought is characterized by crop loss, frequent water shortages, and mandatory water use restrictions. Based on data from the U.S. Drought Monitor, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the states with the highest levels of severe drought.

    In an interview, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) meteorologist Brad Rippey, told 24/7 Wall St. that drought has been a long-running issue in parts of the country. “This drought has dragged on for three and a half years in some areas, particularly (in) North Texas,” Rippey said.

    Drought has had a major impact on important crops such as winter wheat. “So much of the winter wheat is grown across the southern half of the Great Plains,” Rippey said, an area that includes Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, three of the hardest-hit states. Texas alone had nearly a quarter of a million farms in 2012, the most out of any state, while neighboring Oklahoma had more than 80,000 farms, trailing only three other states.

    In the Southwest, concerns are less-focused on agriculture and more on reservoir levels, explained Rippey. In Arizona, reservoir levels were just two-thirds of their usual average. Worse still, in New Mexico, reservoir stores were only slightly more than half of their normal levels. “And Nevada is the worst of all. We see storage there at about a third of what you would expect,” Rippey said.

    The situation in California may well be the most problematic of any state. The entire state was suffering from severe drought as of last week, and 75% of all land area was under extreme drought. “Reservoirs which are generally fed by the Sierra Nevadas and the southern Cascades [are] where we see the real problems,” Rippey said. Restrictions on agricultural water use has forced many California farmers to leave fields fallow, he added. “At [the current] usage rate, California has less than two years of water remaining.”

    The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the seven states with the highest proportions of total area classified in at least a state of severe drought as of May 13, 2014. We also reviewed figures recently published by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service as part of its 2012 Census of Agriculture.

    These are the seven states running out of water.

    7. Texas

    > Pct. severe drought: 56.1%
    > Pct. extreme drought: 39.9% (4th highest)
    > Pct. exceptional drought: 20.7% (3rd highest)

    Much of north and central Texas, including all of the Texas Panhandle, was covered in exceptional drought as of last week. In all, almost 40% of land area in the state experienced extreme drought conditions. Recently, some have said the heavy use of water in natural gas fracking processes in North Texas is problematic during the area’s drought. Additionally, the drought could have a large impact on the state’s agriculture industry. Texas had nearly a quarter of a million farms, the most out of any state in the nation, as of 2012.

    6. Oklahoma

    > Pct. severe drought: 64.5%
    > Pct. extreme drought: 50.1% (2nd highest)
    > Pct. exceptional drought: 30.4% (the highest)

    Severe drought covered over 50% of Oklahoma as of last week, up from roughly 33% one year ago. The state’s drought worsened from the middle of April, when just 27% of the state experienced severe drought. The state’s 80,000-plus farms and nearly 310,000 hired farm workers have been struggling with the drought conditions. The situation is all the more difficult because the state is supposed to be in the midst of its rainy season. An open burn ban is in effect for the western part of the state due to fire hazards resulting from the drought. In March, the Oklahoma Emergency Drought Relief Commission awarded more than $1 million to several drought-ridden communities in the state.

    5. Arizona

    > Pct. severe drought: 76.3%
    > Pct. extreme drought: 7.7% (9th highest)
    > Pct. exceptional drought: 0.0%

    Unlike other states suffering the most from drought, none of Arizona experienced exceptional drought. Severe drought conditions, however, engulfed more than three-quarters of the state as of last week. While dry conditions are not particularly unusual in Arizona at this time of year, the U.S. Drought Monitor accounts for local seasonal patterns in assessing drought conditions. Moreover, the extreme heat and lighter-than-average snowfall from the winter have reduced the soil moisture to such a degree that fire hazards are significantly higher.

    4. Kansas

    > Pct. severe drought: 80.8%
    > Pct. extreme drought: 48.1% (3rd highest)
    > Pct. exceptional drought: 2.8% (6th highest)

    Like several states running out of water, 80% of Kansas was engulfed in at least severe drought, an increase from one year ago when roughly 70% was covered by severe drought. Compared to last May, however, when exceptional drought covered nearly one fifth of the state, just 2.8% of Kansas was considered exceptionally dry as of last week. In announcing the severity of the state’s drought problem, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback lifted restrictions on taking water from state-owned fishing lakes.

    3. New Mexico

    > Pct. severe drought: 86.2%
    > Pct. extreme drought: 33.3% (6th highest)
    > Pct. exceptional drought: 4.5% (5th highest)

    More than 86% of New Mexico was covered in severe drought as of last week, more than any state except for Nevada and California. Additionally, one-third of the state was in extreme drought, worse than just a month earlier, when only one-quarter of the state was covered in extreme drought. However, conditions were better than they were one year ago, when virtually the entire state was in at least severe drought, with more than 80% in extreme drought conditions. NOAA forecasts conditions may improve in much of the state this summer.

    2. Nevada

    > Pct. severe drought: 87.0%
    > Pct. extreme drought: 38.7% (5th highest)
    > Pct. exceptional drought: 8.2% (4th highest)

    Nearly 40% of Nevada was covered in extreme drought last week, among the highest rates in the country. The drought in the state has worsened since the week of April 15, when 33.5% of the state was covered in extreme drought. According to the Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD), the main cause of the drought this year has been below average snowfall in the Rocky Mountains. Melting snow from the Rocky Mountains eventually flows into Lake Mead, which provides most of the Las Vegas Valley with water. John Entsminger, head of both the LVVWD and the Southern Nevada Water Authority, said that the effects of the drought on the state has been “every bit as serious as a Hurricane Katrina or a Superstorm Sandy.”

    1. California

    > Pct. severe drought: 100.0%
    > Pct. extreme drought: 76.7% (the highest)
    > Pct. exceptional drought: 24.8% (2nd highest)

    California had the nation’s worst drought problem with more than 76% of the state experiencing extreme drought as of last week. Drought in California has worsened considerably in recent years. Severe drought conditions covered the entire state, as of last week. Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency earlier this year as the drought worsened. California had 465,422 hired farm workers in 2012, more than any other state. Farm workers would likely suffer further if conditions persist. The shortage of potable water has been so severe that California is now investing in long-term solutions, such as desalination plants. A facility that is expected to be the largest in the Western hemisphere is currently under construction in Southern California, and another desalination facility is under consideration in Orange County.

    Uh oh, the ATV Brigade of Freedom may not be enough to free the US from the tyranny of drought. We’re going to need a bigger miracle (hopefully not too big).

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 27, 2014, 8:11 am
  20. A heavily armed man described as a “sovereign citizen” assaulted a Georgia courthouse today:

    Forsyth News
    Update: Forsyth courthouse shooter dead, was suing sheriff’s office

    By Newsroom Staff editor@forsythnews.com

    UPDATED: June 6, 2014 4:09 p.m.

    CUMMING (Updated 4:06 p.m.) — Authorities have identified the heavily armed gunman this morning who shot a veteran sheriff’s deputy in the leg outside the Forsyth County Courthouse as 48-year-old Dennis Ronald Marx of Cumming.

    Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper said that Marx, who was shot and killed by other deputies, acted alone.

    Marx has been referred to as a “sovereign citizen” who Piper said was due in court this morning on drug and weapons charges.

    According to Piper, Marx drove a rented silver Nissan Armada onto the courthouse plaza about 9:57 a.m. and threw out spike strips to hold off law enforcement’s response before beginning a “full frontal assault” on the facility.

    “It appeared he was trying to actually drive through the front of the courthouse,” Piper said. “We had a court security deputy who was outside at the time … it looks like he saw that deputy, swerved toward him to try to run over the deputy and the deputy engaged him.”

    The deputy, Daniel Rush, approached Marx, who began firing at him through the window of his sport utility vehicle at the courthouse steps.

    When Marx arrived at the courthouse, he started throwing out gas grenades and smoke grenades, most of which the sheriff said were homemade.

    “He came there with the purpose of occupying the courthouse,” said Piper, adding that Marx never made it inside the building.

    In addition to the explosives, Piper said Marx had assault rifles and several other weapons. The arsenal included cs pepper, gas and smoke grenades to obscure vision, assault rifles, flex ties and “lots of ammunition.”

    According to Sheriff’s Maj. Rick Doyle, authorities believe Marx had legal permits to possess the firearms used during the assault.

    “Apparently, he’s a gun dealer and trader,” Doyle said.

    While the gunfire lasted about two minutes, it likely will be hours before downtown Cumming is cleared, as multiple explosives are still at the scene, the sheriff said.

    The courthouse, Forsyth County Administration Building, Cumming City Hall and surrounding structures were evacuated and later closed for the day. Traffic is being rerouted.

    Piper went on to note that Marx, who was no stranger to law enforcement, had a home on Lakeside Trail east of Cumming and near Lake Lanier, though he had not been living there for at least 10 days.

    Authorities are searching the home.

    “We are quite certain it’s booby-trapped with the purpose of killing law enforcement,” he said, adding it appears Marx had been preparing for the assault for quite some time.

    The Holiday Inn Express on Market Place Boulevard, where Marx was staying, is considered a crime scene, as is his home, according to Doyle with the sheriff’s office.

    Doyle added that the assumption is Marx’s home is “booby-trapped to the hilt because he wanted to kill as many cops as he could.”

    “It’s going to be a long, painstaking process to search his house, search the hotel and search his vehicle, which is there at the hotel,” he said.

    According to court documents, Marx was suing the sheriff’s office alleging civil rights violations, including excessive force.

    He filed an amendment to the complaint on April 2, the inclusion of which a judge denied, alleging that a deputy had set in motion events causing a death in his family.

    “Plaintiff also has information and receipts to verify his statements to defendants regarding the seizure of plaintiff’s family’s property, leaving plaintiff and plaintiff’s family without the means to properly protect themselves and/or relocate, as is their Constitutional right, leading directly or indirectly to the death and/or murder of one member of plaintiff’s family,” the motion read.

    According to court records, Marx faced many drug-related charges from August 2011, including manufacturing marijuana, possessing a firearm or knife during the commission of a felony and possession with intent to distribute.

    The sheriff’s office, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms continue to work the scene downtown, though they say there is no further danger to the public. There is no estimation as to when the roads may reopen.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 6, 2014, 12:42 pm
  21. Two white supremacists that claimed to have been kicked off the Bundy ranch just killed two Las Vegas police officers during a “revolutionary” suicidal killing spree:

    las vegas REVIEW-JOURNAL
    Shooters in Metro ambush that left five dead spoke of white supremacy and a desire to kill police

    Posted June 8, 2014 – 11:36am Updated June 9, 2014 – 12:01am

    By REVIEW-JOURNAL STAFF

    Two Las Vegas police officers were killed Sunday in what appears to be a politically motivated ambush in a pizza restaurant that spilled over to a nearby Wal-Mart, where the two shooters committed suicide after killing a woman in the store.

    Details are sketchy, but Metropolitan Police Department sources close to the investigation say the shooters shouted that “this is the start of a revolution” before opening fire on the officers, and draped their bodies with cloth showing a Revolutionary War-era flag. Investigators have also found paraphernalia associated with white supremacists.

    Sunday night, Metro homicide investigators and FBI agents cordoned off and were searching a small apartment complex at 110 S. Bruce St., about four miles from the shooting scene. A resident of the complex said he had spoken with a man who lived in the apartment being searched. He said the man appeared “militant,” and often talked about conspiracy theories.

    An explosion was heard at the apartment complex at about 9:30 p.m., but no information was immediately available Sunday night.

    Sheriff Doug Gillespie said officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, were shot while they ate lunch at CiCi’s Pizza, 309 N. Nellis Blvd., at about 11:20 a.m. Sunday. In a late afternoon news conference he said no motive for the attack has been determined.

    “It’s a tragic day,” the sheriff said. “We have lost two officers with young families.”

    Beck was a senior patrol officer who had taught Advanced Officer Skills Training and at the Metro academy. He was hired by Metro in 2001 and had a wife and three children.

    Soldo has been a Metro officer since 2006 and had a wife and baby. Both were uniform patrol officers assigned to the Northeast Area Command.

    THE ATTACK

    A law enforcement official who has been briefed on the incident said an officer — unconfirmed reports indicate it was Soldo — was refilling a soft drink when the female shooter approached him from behind and shot him in the head, killing him instantly.

    The woman then shot the other officer several times as he drew his pistol. Gillespie said the officer was able to return fire but it was unclear if he hit anyone.

    One officer was reported dead at the scene, while the other died later in surgery at University Medical Center.

    Witnesses told police one of the shooters yelled “This is the start of a revolution” before shooting the officers. Gillespie later said he could not confirm that.

    The shooters then stripped the officers of their weapons and ammunition and badges, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation. They then covered the officers with something that featured the Gadsden flag, a yellow banner with a coiled snake above the words, “Don’t tread on Me.”

    The flag is named for Christopher Gadsden a Revolutionary War general who designed it. It has recently come back in vogue as an adopted symbol of the American tea party movement.

    The shooters left the pizza parlor and headed into the Wal-Mart across the street at 201 North Nellis. Witnesses at the scene reported hearing shots fired in quick succession inside the Wal-Mart.

    At a news conference at about 1 p.m. Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill said the male shooter, described as a tall white man, yelled “everyone get out” before shooting.

    One unconfirmed report is that the two exchanged gunfire with a citizen who was carrying a concealed weapon, and that one of the shooters was injured.

    A woman was shot and killed just inside the front doors of the Wal-Mart. Her name has not yet been released.

    As Metro officers entered the front and back doors of the store they exchanged gunfire with the shooters, Gillespie said.

    The female shooter then shot her accomplice at least once before shooting herself in the head, a law enforcement official said. The wounded man then shot and killed himself. Their identities have not been released by police.

    Both shooters were reportedly carrying large duffle bags, and a bomb squad was called to the scene. It’s unclear what, if anything, was found in the bags. A fire department official said the bomb squad response was “a precaution.”

    Hector Garcia was shopping in Wal-Mart’s arts and crafts aisle toward the back of the store when he encountered a man brandishing a gun. He looked like he was in his 20s, was wearing camouflage and had a duffle bag draped over his shoulder.

    He said the shooter appeared calm when he pointed the gun at him and said, “Don’t run.” The gunman, Garcia said, continued walking to the back of the store. Garcia said that store employees were evacuating customers through the back of the store.

    After the gunman walked out of sight, Garcia walked out of the store. Garcia said he was shaken up and couldn’t remember what kind of gun the man carried.

    THE SHOOTERS

    The shooters were a married couple thought to be in their late 20s who were new to the Las Vegas Valley, according to a law enforcement official close to the investigation. Police are looking into their links to the white supremacy movement and found swastika symbols during their initial investigation.

    Residents of the Bruce Street apartment complex gathered outside the building to talk about the couple whose unit was being searched.

    Several neighbors identified the man as Jared, while one called the woman Amanda.

    Like many of the neighbors contacted, Krista Koch said she didn’t know the couple’s last names. She described them as “militant.” They talked about planning to kill police officers, “going underground” and not coming out until the time was right to kill.

    Brandon Monroe, 22, has lived in the complex for about two weeks. He said the man who lived in the apartment that was being searched often rambled about conspiracy theories. He often wore camouflage or dressed as Peter Pan to work as a Fremont Street Experience street performer. A woman lived with him, Monroe said, but he didn’t see her as often.

    They were weird people, Monroe said, adding that he thought the couple used methamphetamine.

    “The man told Monroe he had been kicked off Cliven Bundy’s ranch 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas while people from throughout the U.S. gathered there in protest of a Bureau of Land Management roundup of Bundy’s cattle.” Jessica Anderson, 27, said. She lived next door.

    Reached Sunday, the rancher’s wife, Carol Bundy, said the shooting and the April standoff against the federal government were not linked.

    “I have not seen or heard anything from the militia and others who have came to our ranch that would, in any way, make me think they had an intent to kill or harm anyone,” Carol Bundy said.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 9, 2014, 8:47 am
  22. Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 9, 2014, 11:36 am
  23. Here’s something relating the shootings in Las Vegas to the larger anti-government paranoia gripping the nation and the drive to normalize vigilante justice: The two shooters were originally from Indiana and, in a sign of the times, it turns out Indiana passed a law in 2012 that makes it legal to shoot cops and “public servants” if you think they’re illegally entering your home or using force unlawfully:

    Raw Story
    Rachel Maddow: ‘Fantasist, weapons-focused’ far right is driving attacks like Vegas shootings
    By David Ferguson
    Tuesday, June 10, 2014 8:51 EDT

    On Monday night, Rachel Maddow devoted her opening segment to studying the “long online trail” of clues left behind by Jerad and Amanda Miller, the couple who reportedly shot two police officers and a bystander before killing themselves in Las Vegas on Sunday.

    Maddow began by discussing an NRA-backed Indiana law that allows citizens to open fire on police officers if they believe those officers are acting unlawfully.

    “It is a remarkable law,” she said, “even for this current iteration of the NRA and even for Indiana.”

    That law didn’t get much attention in the nation at large, she said, but in “non-mainstream circles,” it got a huge amount of attention and inspired “lots of armed resistance fantasists against armed tyranny kind of stuff, particularly on YouTube.”

    Maddow then rolled clips from a pair of YouTube videos about U.S. citizens taking up arms against the government and noted that both of the videos were “liked” by Amanda Miller.

    The slayings, while ghastly, Maddow said, are not far beyond the pale of what is to be expected from week to week in the U.S. today. What makes them remarkable, she explained, is the political nature of the crimes.

    Las Vegas Assistant Sheriff McMahill, at a press conference about the shootings, explained that after the Millers killed the two police officers in a booth at a CiCi’s Pizza, “the suspects pulled the officers out of the booth and on to the ground, where they placed a Gadsden flag, that is, a ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ yellow flag on the body of Officer Beck, and they also drew a swastika on top of his body.”

    They pinned a note to the other officer that reportedly announced the beginning of an armed revolution against the police and the federal government, then went on to shoot a civilian inside a nearby Walmart, before killing themselves in a murder-suicide pact.

    Raw Story reported Monday that both Millers were active on multiple conservative websites, including Breitbart.com and Alex Jones’ conspiracy hub InfoWars.com. The two regularly posted about the “New World Order,” chemtrails, mind-control and other far-right conspiracy theories.

    “I live in Indiana and recently a law was passed named the right to resist law.” Jerad Miller wrote at InfoWars in May of 2012, “As i can make out from it, if a police officer kicks in my door and is not there legally, then I may shoot him.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 10, 2014, 10:21 am
  24. There was another shootout today involving law enforcement officers and a ‘sovereign citizen’:

    TPM Muckraker
    BLM Shooting Suspect Is Anti-Government Conspiracy Theorist With Pending Gun Charge

    Dylan Scott – June 17, 2014, 5:36 PM EDT

    The man accused of shooting two law enforcement members in California, including a Bureau of Land Management ranger, has had at least one previous run-in with law enforcement and has described himself as the target of a massive government conspiracy.

    Brent Douglas Cole, 60, was named by the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office on Monday as the suspect in Saturday’s shooting that also left him wounded.

    Anna Ferguson, assistant district attorney for Nevada County, confirmed to TPM that Cole was also facing misdemeanor charges in Nevada County Superior Court for allegedly carrying a loaded firearm. He was charged on Jan. 26.

    On Tuesday, the Union newspaper in Nevada City, Calif., published an article that quoted from court documents in the case. The documents showed Cole believed he was the target of a massive conspiracy:

    Officers acted without warrant or any probable cause to seize my person using a swat team style assault, and then started looking for something to charge me with. I was attacked and molested, unconstitutionally arrested, unlawfully incarcerated, repeatedly intimidated and coerced to plead guilty to having committed a crime, held in secret for five days, and my property and liberty taken from me since January 26, 2014. I am being persecuted for being a gun owner, and for exercising my inherent Right by unwitting or unknowing accomplices of a seditious conspiracy against rights instituted by foreign powers inimical to the United States of America.

    That’s in line with online profiles, reviewed by TPM, that appear to belong to Cole and suggest someone obsessed with multiple conspiracy theories, including 9/11 trutherism, fluoridated water and anti-semitic beliefs.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center, in research shared with TPM on Tuesday afternoon, linked Cole to an online profile in which he described himself as “a sovereign American Citizen attempting to thwart the obvious conspiracy and subterfuges of powers inimical to the United States.”

    “Sovereigns believe that they — not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials — get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don’t think they should have to pay taxes,” the SPLC has written in its summary of sovereign citizen beliefs.

    Someone using the name Brent Douglas Cole uploaded Google documents that were purportedly filed in his defense for the January arrest. Those documents have not been independently verified by TPM, but they carry the same case number as the firearms case.

    In the documents, Cole described himself as “a statutory Attorney General of the United States” and claimed the California law under which he had been charged violated the Second Amendment. He also spelled his name in a manner typical of members of the sovereign citizens movement, using lowercase letters and unusual punctuation: “brent-douglas: cole.”

    A Facebook profile attributed to a Brent Cole, and which also linked to the alleged documents in the firearms case, included this quote from June 5:

    “The conviction of police that they are endowed with the authority and authorization to to whatever they wish to do to anyone, without any justification, and incur no liability or culpability for criminal acts committed must end.”

    Cole also posted a number of news articles on Facebook sympathetic to the Bundy Ranch militia, including a April 16 post about “an Infowars expose connecting the land grab to Harry Reid and a Chinese-backed solar farm.”

    According to the Union newspaper, the BLM ranger had contacted the California Highway Patrol for assistance in its investigation of vehicles at the Tahoe National Forest. It was during that investigation that the two officers were confronted by Cole and exchanged gunfire. The shooting took place near the South Yuba River campground, according to the sheriff’s office.

    The two law enforcement agents suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the incident. Cole suffered multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Union, and was hospitalized as of Monday.

    In tangentially related news, there’s a new threat Cliven Bundy’s right to graze on public lands whether or not he pays the fees. And it involves an even more diabolical government conspiracy than the far right already fears: climate change:

    The Los Angeles Times
    Grazing on federal land under threat because of drought

    By Julie Cart June 15, 2014, 5:41 PM

    There’s not much anyone can tell Barry Sorensen about Idaho’s Big Desert that he doesn’t know. Sorensen, 72, and his brother have been running cattle in this sere landscape all their lives, and they’ve weathered every calamity man and nature have thrown at them — until this drought came along.

    Sitting recently in a rustic cabin where he spends many months looking after his cattle, Sorensen’s voice was tinged with defeat.

    “To be honest with you,” he said, “I think our way of life is pretty much going to be over in 10 years.”

    Years-long drought has pummeled millions of acres of federal rangeland in the West into dust, leaving a devastating swath from the Rockies to the Pacific.

    Add to that climate change, invasive plants and wildfire seasons that are longer and more severe, and conditions have reached a breaking point in many Western regions. The land can no longer support both livestock and wildlife.

    “All these issues — it’s changing the landscape of the West, dramatically,” said Ken Wixom, who grazes 4,000 ewes and lambs on BLM land in the Snake River Plain. For public lands ranchers like him who depend on federal acreage to sustain their animals, the mood ranges from brooding to surrender.

    The situation was spelled out in stark terms in two recent letters from the federal Bureau of Land Management. They told the ranchers what they already knew: Unless something changes, the days of business as usual on the 154 million acres of federal grazing land are over.

    This drought-stressed range in Idaho can no longer sustain livestock, the letter warned. Better plan to reduce herd numbers by at least 30% for the spring turnout.

    “I knew it was coming,” said Sorensen, squinting as the afternoon sun poured through a window.

    Sorensen’s grazing allotment is so compromised that he was forced to make multiple adjustments. He waited 2 1/2 weeks longer than usual before turning out his cows and calves on BLM pastures, and then released only half his herd. The rest he kept on his ranch, feeding them hay from his own fields.

    Conditions could easily grow worse.

    Livestock shares the range with wildlife, including the greater sage grouse, a species dependent on sagebrush and native grasslands to survive. The grouse population has plummeted by 93% in the last 50 years, and its habitat has shrunk to one-quarter of its former 240,000-square-mile range.

    If the federal government grants endangered species protection to the grouse sometime next year, ranching on federal land will be cut back even more, federal officials say. In some regions, public lands ranching might end altogether.

    The problem for livestock and wildlife alike is that the drought has been merciless on all plants in the West. Last week 60% of the 11 Western states were experiencing some degree of serious drought.

    Climate change has altered weather patterns so much that vegetation in some regions is transforming from abundant sagebrush, grass and forbs to a new landscape of weeds and cheat grass — fast-burning fuels that propel wildfire and destroy rangeland.

    In southern New Mexico, the transformation has gone one step further — from sagebrush to weeds to sand-blown desert — and biologists say the pattern is likely to be repeated across the West.

    If that happens, the economics of cattle ranching will unravel.

    Public lands grazing is a remnant of Washington’s interest in settling the West by providing a financial leg up to covered-wagon pioneers and private interests alike. Ranchers pay a fee, far below market rate, for each mother cow and calf they turn out to graze on BLM acreage.

    If public land is not available, ranchers could find private property to graze their animals, paying as much as 16 times more than on federal ground. They could reduce their herds, losing valuable genetics and other breeding characteristics and getting perhaps $1,000 for a cow that would cost $1,600 to replace.

    Ranchers could bring the cattle to their own land and feed them with hay or alfalfa they grow or buy. None of that is consistent with the business model of a public lands rancher.

    “You buy hay at $200 a ton, so you feed one ton for each 100 head of cows,” said Sorensen. “If you’ve got 200 head of cows, you are feeding $400 to $500 dollars’ worth of hay a day.”

    Critics of ranching on federal land have little sympathy. They say the operations are highly subsidized by taxpayers and are secondary to the goal of preserving wildlife and native ecosystems.

    Grazing receipts in fiscal year 2013 were $12.2 million, while the program cost the government $48.2 million to operate. Fees are based on range conditions that existed in 1966, and the monthly charge of $1.35 for a cow and calf hasn’t significantly changed in 50 years. Sporadic attempts to raise fees have been fiercely and immediately quashed.

    Ranchers argue that they are excellent stewards of the land and that they make improvements that benefit deer, birds and other wildlife as well as improve water quality.

    “Without ranchers functioning, the landscape ceases to function,” said rancher Shane Rosenkrance, 52, who grazes on 110,000 acres of BLM and state land in eastern Idaho.

    Equally persuasive arguments are made by biologists and conservation groups. They say historic overgrazing caused wholesale changes to the landscape and fostered the damaging growth of cheat grass — which has fanned wildfires in the West.

    And in tangentially related (to tangentially related) news, the planned closure of the HAARP facility in Alaska just got delayed for a few weeks… or maybe longer:

    Alaska Dispatch
    HAARP granted last-minute reprieve as Air Force considers handoff
    Dermot Cole
    June 11, 2014

    The U.S. Air Force said Wednesday it will give research institutions and other agencies more time to try to save the $290 million HAARP research facility in Gakona, Alaska.

    An Air Force spokesman said the process of closing the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, which had been slated to begin this week, will be delayed for at least several weeks and perhaps longer.

    The agency said it may put off dismantling the site for up to 10 months to allow a transfer to another agency, an option that has been promoted by scientists from the University of Alaska and around the world.

    HAARP, backed by the late Sen. Ted Stevens when he wielded great power over the defense budget, has been used both for basic research of the ionosphere and for investigation of communications and satellite technology.

    “We will proceed with removal of government property not essential to operations and will seek to reduce maintenance costs through additional storage of equipment and winterization,” Air Force spokesperson Ed Gulick said. “Air Force leadership is currently considering the option of deferring the dismantling for up to 10 months to allow time for a potential transfer to another entity.”

    “Air Force leadership is currently considering the option of deferring the dismantling for up to 10 months to allow time for a potential transfer to another entity” *gulp* It looks like the ATV Freedom Brigade might need an upgrade.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 17, 2014, 7:24 pm
  25. It’s always been clear governor Paul LePage enjoys embracing the crazy, but this is taking it to a whole new level: Main’s governor appears to be a rather cozy relationship with Sovereign Citizen groups, to the point of spouting off about how the sheriff is the highest authority in the land. The governor is saying this. If the entire GOP wasn’t already flirting with Sovereign Citizen ideology at this point this story would be a much bigger deal as breaking news. Still, it’s a great metaphor for what’s happened to the GOP:

    TPM Muckraker
    Why Did Maine’s Governor Conspire With ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Extremists?

    Mike Tipping – June 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    The following is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of As Maine Went: Governor Paul LePage and the Tea Party Takeover of Maine, by Mike Tipping.

    At 8 a.m. on February 4, 2013, a signal crackled to life from the WXME radio tower in Aroostook County, about a mile and a half from the Canadian border. The broadcast went out locally on the AM band as well as the station’s online stream. The signal was picked up from the Internet and rebroadcast through a network of low-power FM repeaters maintained by volunteers willing to skirt the edges of FCC regulations in towns across Maine. Listeners tuning in that morning were greeted first with a medley of patriotic and religious songs and then by the voices of Jack McCarthy and Steve Martin, hosts of the Aroostook Watchmen radio show.

    McCarthy and Martin are two men with a cause. They believe they have access to truths that few others know or want to hear, primarily that the American government is illegitimate and that the shadowy cabal of elites who control it are preparing for a war on the American people. The 9/11 attacks, the Boston bombing, most mass shootings, and a wide range of other events generally attributed to terrorists and criminals are actually false-flag operations perpetrated by the American government against its own people as part of a ramp-up to a final reckoning, according to the hosts. The Watchmen, who consider themselves “Sovereign Citizens” outside government control, feel it’s their responsibility to reveal these conspiracies and to help wrest back control of the country from the usurpers. Their program is broadcast six days a week.

    This particular Monday morning, the Watchmen discussed new evidence that they said proved the Sandy Hook school shooting was a false-flag operation made possible through government mind control. They warned that Jewish Senators Diane Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Lieberman were attempting to disarm the patriots of America so that they could begin their “holocaust against America’s Christian population.” They also had something more locally relevant to talk about: McCarthy’s hour-and-a-half meeting, two days earlier, with Maine Governor Paul LePage.

    The meeting with the governor had taken place two days after McCarthy and a group of fellow conspiracy theorists calling themselves the Constitutional Coalition held a press conference at the State House. They stood behind a podium in the Hall of Flags (just outside LePage’s suite of offices) and announced that the president of the Maine Senate, the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, and Governor LePage had all violated their oaths and should be removed from office. The group explained that they had submitted a set of “remonstrances” to all three government officials on January 14 accusing them of acting unlawfully and had received no reply. Under their unique interpretation of the Maine Constitution, this meant that all three politicians must surrender their elected offices. The men were there to announce their intention to enforce that judgment.

    One of the participants, Constitutional Coalition leader Wayne Leach, made reference to the American Revolution and declared that “hopefully this remonstrance, which uses words, will be sufficient. The weapons, I hope, will not be used.”

    Article 1, Section 15, of the Maine Constitution states that “the people have a right at all times in an orderly and peaceable manner to assemble to consult upon the common good, to give instructions to their representatives, and to request, of either department of the government by petition or remonstrance, redress of their wrongs and grievances.” Most would interpret this passage as a general guarantee of freedom of speech and petition, but Constitutional Coalition members seized upon the language to mean that they could submit a “remonstrance” in order to “give instructions to their representatives” that would be binding on all government officeholders simply through the fact of its submission.

    The remonstrances the group submitted to LePage and the legislature accused Maine’s government of being unlawful, of having illegally accepted and used unconstitutional currency (anything other than gold and silver), and of coordinating with UNESCO, UNICEF, NATO, and the UN to deprive Americans of their property rights. An e-mail sent to the governor’s office by Constitutional Coalition spokesperson Phil Merletti, along with the remonstrance document, declared that legislators who had violated their oaths in this way were committing treason and domestic terrorism. He suggested that they listen to the Aroostook Watchmen radio show for more information.

    The staff at the House and Senate leadership offices responded to the Constitutional Coalition’s submissions as they do to most correspondence that tilts toward the crankish—they accepted the documents politely, then filed them away to be ignored. Governor LePage’s staff acted much the same, just as they had with previous communications from members of the coalition.

    LePage’s staff, including executive assistant Micki Muller, who reviews the governor’s e-mails, had previously shunted aside requests from Merletti to meet with LePage regarding a bill to reform the Land Use Regulatory Committee, which Merletti claimed was a plot by radical environmentalists and “a vicious act against the citizen’s unalienable [sic] rights of Maine people.” They similarly ignored a proposal from Wayne Leach that the state stop using the illegitimate U.S. dollar and create its own new currency called “MaineBucks.”

    This time, however, word of the remonstrances and the press conference made it past the executive office gatekeepers and to the attention of Governor LePage himself. Rather than ignoring the submission and its radical claims, LePage called Merletti at home at 9 a.m. the next morning in order to set up a meeting for that Saturday with members of the Constitutional Coalition. According to a note that Merletti sent to his e-mail list later that day and that was forwarded to LePage and members of his staff, the governor was angry that he hadn’t heard about the remonstrances earlier, and during the call he pledged to fire any staffers found to have been keeping the information from him.

    Later that day, LePage’s director of constituent services, Patricia Condon, asked the Executive Protection Unit of the Maine State Police to run background checks on four members of the Constitutional Coalition: Merletti, McCarthy, Leach, and another man named Gary Smart.

    As McCarthy later revealed in his conversation with Martin on the Aroostook Watchmen radio show, the meeting that weekend covered a wide range of topics. The members of the Constitutional Coalition informed LePage that the United Nations and the Rockefellers were plotting to take over Maine’s North Woods. They discussed the illegitimacy of the U.S. Department of Education and argued that the state should refuse to accept federal education funding. (According to McCarthy, the governor “hung his head and said you’re right” in response.) They also informed LePage that U.S. paper currency is unlawful. (“He was mesmerized by that,” said McCarthy.)

    During the meeting, the Watchmen presented LePage with a copy of the 2012 Maine Criminal Justice Academy training manual, which instructs law enforcement officers on how to handle encounters with members of the Sovereign Citizen movement. The manual states that “the FBI considers the Sovereign movement one of the nation’s top domestic terrorist threats.” The Sovereign Citizens in the room took issue with that information and asked LePage to remove it from state law enforcement training materials.

    The manual is correct in its assessment. The same rejection of government authority that prompted the Constitutional Coalition to file their remonstrances often brings Sovereign Citizens into conflict with police and government officials. Many of the crimes they commit based on their beliefs are of the white-collar variety, including bank fraud, filing false liens, money laundering, illegal firearms sales, tax violations and the manufacture of false documents. When they are confronted over these violations by police officers, whom they view as agents of a fraudulent government, however, the situations sometimes escalate to violence.

    According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sovereign Citizen extremists have killed at least six law enforcement officers in the United States since 2000. In one such incident in 2010, two Sovereign Citizens were pulled over by local police in Arkansas in a routine traffic stop. They pulled out an AK-47, killed the two officers, and fled the scene. They were eventually killed in a Walmart parking lot after a shootout that injured two more police officers.

    In addition to these more random acts of violence, some Sovereign Citizens have also planned significant antigovernment terrorist attacks. One of the most well-known Sovereigns is Terry Nichols, who helped to plan the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people and injuring hundreds more.

    On one episode of the Aroostook Watchmen show, McCarthy spoke about having met and worked with Schaeffer Cox, the founder of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia, a Sovereign Citizen group. In January 2013, Cox was sentenced to twenty-six years in prison for conspiring to murder federal and state government officials, including judges and law enforcement agents, and for stockpiling illegal weapons and explosives.

    This history of violence, much of which is detailed in the law enforcement manual that was handed to Governor LePage, casts a troubling light on some of the topics of conversation at the State House meeting that day, and some of LePage’s responses.

    When discussing Senate President Justin Alfond and House Speaker Mark Eves, both Democrats, McCarthy apparently claimed that they were guilty of “high treason” and noted that the penalty for treason hadn’t changed in a hundred years.

    “I never said it, but the governor said it. I never opened my mouth and said the word,” explained McCarthy. “The governor looked at us and looked at his buddy and said, ‘They’re talking about hanging them.’” (The “buddy” was apparently a member of LePage’s legal staff.)

    According to McCarthy, at another point in the conversation, when discussing federal funding, LePage said, “If I go any further with this bill, with this refusal to accept federal money, they will surround this building and kill me.”

    “I believe he thinks that literally, absolutely literally. I said if you call we will come and defend you,” said McCarthy on his show.

    McCarthy’s description of LePage’s participation and remarks might be dismissed as simply an unfortunate series of miscommunications and exaggerations of the actions of a governor just trying to appease some constituents and supporters without really understanding who he was talking to or what he was talking about. The fact that the meeting was far from a one-off event makes this less likely, however. The Watchmen describe—and e-mails and documents obtained from LePage’s staff through Maine’s Freedom of Access laws confirm—at least eight meetings over a period of nine months in 2013, almost all more than an hour in duration and some lasting almost three hours.

    During these regular meetings, according to the participants, the governor was “educated” by a series of “experts” brought in by the Constitutional Coalition on a number of their conspiracy theories. LePage also made a series of promises to the Watchmen that he would assist them in pressing their cases of treason against Eves and Alfond and in pursuing their wider antigovernment aims.

    At the next meeting with the governor, on February 16, the lead “expert” in attendance was Michael Coffman, a conspiracy theorist, author, and lecturer who believes that the United Nations is attempting to seize Americans’ private property and usher in an oppressive one-world government through the use of local sustainability initiatives, smart growth plans, and by pushing the “myth” of global warming.

    Two days later, a discussion was held on the Aroostook Watchmen show featuring Coffman, McCarthy, Merletti, Leach, conservative activist Roger Ek, and former State Representative Henry Joy (perhaps best known for submitting a bill to allow northern Maine to secede from the rest of the state), all of whom attended the meeting. According to these participants, topics of conversation with the governor included the coming collapse of society, the illegality of income taxes, the sale of the American people as chattel to the International Monetary Fund, the buying up of ammo by the Department of Homeland Security as part of the government’s preparation for the coming war against American citizens, and the UN’s plan to depopulate the entire northern tier of Maine.

    “I was very pleased with the governor,” said Coffman. “You know anybody can say anything with any kind of accent, but he seemed like he was genuinely concerned and agreed with us on almost every point.”

    This wasn’t the last time that LePage and Coffman collaborated. At the meeting, LePage agreed to attend a talk by Coffman being held two months later at Lake Region High School in Naples. According to an article in the Bridgton News describing the event, the governor attended, gave opening remarks, and then stood by as Coffman spoke to the audience not just about his UN conspiracy theories but also about a plot he claimed was underway to force the teaching of socialism in public schools and his belief that “Barack Obama’s presidency is part of a plan by the Islamic Brotherhood to turn America into an Islamic controlled nation.”

    LePage met with the Sovereign Citizen group for a third time in April. As the meeting approached, LePage’s staff exchanged e-mails about who would have to attend along with the governor, with none of them seeming to want to be in the room. “There is no question but that it be staffed,” wrote executive assistant Micki Mullen. LePage’s chief of staff John McGough “pulled rank” and refused. Eventually, LePage’s director of boards and commissions, Michael Hersey, agreed to attend, as members of the legal staff weren’t available.

    Less documentation exists for the contents of the April meeting (and the Watchmen didn’t discuss it on their show), but it apparently focused on the issue of wind power. The Constitutional Coalition members believe that large-scale wind power development is not just undesirable but part of a conspiracy to deprive them of their land and freedom.

    A little more than a week after the meeting, while speaking to the Skowhegan Chamber of Commerce, LePage blasted wind power and made a strange claim about one wind turbine in particular:

    “Now, to add insult to injury, The University of Maine, Presque Isle–anybody here been up there to see that damn windmill in the back yard?,” asked LePage. “Guess what, if it’s not blowing wind outside and they have somebody visiting the campus, they have a little electric motor that turns the blades. I’m serious. They have an electric motor so that they can show people wind power works. Unbelievable. And that’s the government that you have here in the state of Maine.”

    The governor was later forced to recant his accusation after his remarks made national news. He tweeted, “It was not my intention to misspeak about UMPIs windmill, but I admit I had misinformation.” He did not reveal the source of the false conspiracy theory.

    On May 29 the Constitutional Coalition members held a conference call with LePage and began to make some more specific requests of the governor. In a letter that Merletti sent to LePage before the meeting, the Sovereign Citizen leader asserted a constitutional right of Mainers to carry concealed weapons without a permit and asked that LePage stand up to the “anti-gun factions, supported by Socialist and Communist leaning defenders of the global left,” and bring an emergency bill to preserve this right. He also asked LePage to use the power of his office to “summon Sheriff Liberty” (Sheriff Randall Liberty serves Kennebec County, including Augusta, the state capital) to hear their complaints that the speaker of the house and president of the senate were committing treason. (Sovereign Citizens believe that the only legitimate law enforcement officer is an elected sheriff.) Merletti warned in his letter to LePage that if his group continued to be ignored by the legislature, “we will be left with the 1776 or 1865 option. In the pursuit of liberty there is no extremism.”

    Governor LePage apparently promised to summon the sheriff, and on July 3 the Constitutional Coalition members and the governor met with Liberty in a boardroom in the State House. The sheriff had the time wrong initially, but after LePage called him on his cell phone, he arrived within five minutes.

    “It was a monumental meeting. I think that meeting will definitely go down in history,” said Merletti two days later on the Aroostook Watchmen show.

    In the meeting, LePage asked Liberty to visit Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and ask Mills (a Democrat elected by the legislature) to meet with the Constitutional Coalition to reconsider the group’s demands. Wayne Leach had previously been rebuffed when he visited the attorney general’s office on behalf of the coalition and asked them to arrest Speaker Eves and President Alfond.

    “The governor stepped in at this point in time and he says ‘What you have to understand is that these gentlemen are telling you that they want you to follow through on this because this is a constitutional issue that they violated not only one time but three times,’” explained Merletti on the show. “That just put me back in my chair that the governor would say such a thing.”

    In that meeting, the participants also again discussed the Maine Criminal Justice Academy’s Sovereign Citizen curriculum, and they asked about the role of the governor and the sheriff in the event of an attempt by the federal government, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to institute martial law and bring in Russian troops to invade the state.

    “They’re going to have to get by me first,” replied LePage, according to Merletti.

    In an interview, Sheriff Liberty confirmed the timing and topics of discussion of the meeting and said he attempted to steer the conversation away from “that conspiracy theory stuff” as much as possible. Following the meeting, he complied with the governor’s request and visited the offices of the attorney general and county district attorney to ask them to hear the Constitutionalists’ case.

    LePage would later echo some of the Sovereign Citizens’ rhetoric about sheriffs when he stood next to the Cobscook Bay State Park boat launch on October 17 and declared that he wouldn’t allow the federal government to close the launch as part of the government shutdown (which had actually already ended eight hours earlier).

    “The sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer in the state of Maine and I will authorize him to keep this place open,” said LePage.

    At the time, the remark puzzled political observers. Those without a background in Sovereign Citizen conspiracy theories brushed it off as a simple misstatement by LePage.

    On August 7, the members of the Constitutional Coalition held yet another meeting with Governor LePage, this time to share new information about their attempts to prosecute Eves and Alfond. They also brought in Lise McLain, a fellow Sovereign Citizen who had done some of the research that informed the movement’s theories about the illegitimacy of the government and the courts.

    Despite Sheriff Liberty’s intercession, the group’s attempts to prod the attorney general into action had failed. They told the governor that their next plan was to open up a common-law court in order to try the two men. The state courts that currently existed were fraudulent, according to the Watchmen, because they practiced “admiralty law.” This deception was revealed, they claimed, by the fact that the flags in the courtrooms had a gold fringe.

    They also informed the governor of their recent meeting with the head of his administration’s risk management department, whom they had asked to rescind the state insurance policies covering the house speaker and senate president.

    What a great metaphor.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 30, 2014, 8:58 am
  26. “You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot,’”. This statement by one of the militia leaders planning on ‘supplementing’ the US border patrol was apparently taken out of context:

    The Washington Post
    Texas ‘militia’ says it’s heading out to help ‘secure’ border
    By Lindsey Bever July 8

    The immigration situation is already messy. Now an armed Texas militia is planning to make a move for the U.S.-Mexico border, according to news reports.

    Members said the goal is not to interfere with law enforcement but to help secure the border and slow the surge of undocumented immigrants illegally entering the country.

    The group, called Operation Secure Our Border-Laredo, was identified to the San Antonio Express-News as “Patriots,” “Oathkeepers” and “Three Percenters,” a reference to the 3 percent of colonists who took up arms against England during the Revolutionary War. Organizers are using social media and a 24-hour hotline to recruit and mobilize armed volunteers to send to Laredo, Tex., within the coming weeks.

    It’s uncertain how many people belong to the group or how many might actually show up.

    “We’re here to supplement and be where law enforcement is not and help them support the border,” Chris Davis, the 37-year-old listed leader, told the Los Angeles Times. “There’s nothing malicious, there’s no malicious intent — every person is vetted. We’re just here to serve freedom, liberty and national sovereignty.” Davis said once the group has enough manpower, it will do its duty in a “legal and lawful manner.”

    It’s quite a different tactic than the one Davis announced via a YouTube video in which he allegedly said: “You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot,’” the McAllen Monitor reported last week. Davis told the Express-News he removed the video after it was taken out of context “by a newspaper that supports amnesty.”

    Thousands of migrants, including large numbers of children, have been crossing into the U.S. on a regular basis since the fall, fleeing violence in Central America.

    The situation President Obama called a humanitarian crisis has moved many lawmakers, law enforcement and local residents to come up with their own solutions.

    Last week, hundreds of California protesters took matters into their own hands, forming a human blockade and shutting down access to a Border Patrol station near Murrieta as agents were trying to transport three busloads of immigrant children and families. The protests transpired after Murrieta Mayor Alan Long urged locals to fight immigration transfers. The buses were forced to reroute to San Diego.

    On Monday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Los Angeles Police will no longer hold immigrants for possible deportation without either a court order or an arrest warrant.

    “The federal government is in charge of enforcing federal immigration laws — not us at the local level,” he said. “That responsibility can’t be forced onto local law enforcement officials who already have stretched budgets.”

    The situation has some Southern lawmakers — from both parties — nervous.

    Beyond all of the questions of the “OMG, how are we going to avoid another Bundy Ranch standoff?”-variety, one of the questions raised by the latest move is who is going to protect the Bundy Ranch now that his impromptu militia is going to be battling women and children in Texas? Aren’t the Feds going to seize on this opportunity to strike at the last truly free rancher left in Nevada?

    Oh that’s right, it’s not the Feds threatening Bundy now. It’s the county sheriff, the one authority even Sovereign Citizens recognize. And it’s not just Bundy being threaten by the Sheriff but the militias involved too. Uh oh!

    Western Journalism
    Cliven Bundy Is Now Facing A New Threat
    “…there are consequences to those actions.”

    B. Christopher Agee — July 7, 2014

    Months after a tense standoff between Bureau of Land Management officers and supporters of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher is now in the crosshairs of not only federal authorities, but local law enforcement.

    Citing Bundy’s allowance of protesters onto his ranch as armed BLM agents used force to attempt to drive him from the federally owned property his family has used for generations, Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie made it clear he wants to see the elderly rancher pay.

    “If you step over that line,” he said in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “there are consequences to those actions.”

    He went on to contend that the demonstrators – many of whom belonged to state militias – “stepped over that line” and “need to be held accountable for it.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 9, 2014, 11:37 am
  27. What’s wrong with this picture? Too easy?

    The Daily Banter
    Minuteman Militia Planning “Operation Normandy” to Deploy 3,500 Men to Stop Border “Invasion”
    Bob Cesca on July 23, 2014

    It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of the far-right’s bellicosity in the face of refugee children entering the United States. Not a day goes by without Sean Hannity, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Bill O’Reilly or various screeching mobs composed of townspeople from The Simpsons brandishing torches, pitchforks and AR-15s in reaction to the over-hyped immigration issue. Speaking of Gohmert, this week he suggested that President Obama is allowing women to be raped by “illegal aliens.”

    And they’ve committed at least 7,695 sexual assaults. You want to talk about a war on women? This administration will not defend the women of America from criminal aliens! By the thousands, and hundreds of thousands! Well, we know thousands, and we know people are coming in by the hundreds of thousands illegally. And this administration wants to talk about other people having a war on women when they will not defend the women that are being sexually assaulted by illegal aliens in this country!

    Maybe Gohmert got his facts mixed up (shocker!) because the latest reports from the Southern border indicate that migrant women and children are the ones who are being sexually assaulted inside the U.S. An alleged 116 cases of sexual assault against children, some as young as five-years-old, by U.S. border patrol agents have been reported in recent weeks. One study indicated that nearly half of all female migrant workers are sexually assaulted or abused while working at farms across the Midwest.

    Despite the reality of what’s really happening along the border, the saber-rattling continues in the face of the infant horde. Yesterday, the infamous Minuteman militia announced that it’s raising an army that will include 3,500 volunteers to “stop an invasion” and to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. The militia’s co-founder, Jim Gilchrist, appears to be taking his tone-deaf cues from Bill O’Reilly and Charles Krauthammer who suggested the construction of another Berlin Wall. It turns out the Minuteman Project’s wartime cosplay event is called “Operation Normandy.” From the official Operation Normandy website:

    If you are familiar with the Normandy invasion of France in 1944, then you have an idea how large and logistically complicated this event will be. However, there is one difference. We are not going to the border to invade anyone. We are going there to stop an invasion.

    Yes, Normandy. The operation was deliberately named after Normandy Beach, circa June 6, 1944, when Allied Forces invaded Nazi-controlled Europe. What’s wrong with this picture? It was the U.S., U.K. and the Allies who invaded at Normandy on D-Day, and the Nazis were the defenders against the invasion. That means the Minuteman gang has inadvertently (I hope) cast themselves in the role of the Nazis, with refugee children as the Allies. The Minuteman Project is even calling the date of the deployment “D-Day” — in this case, May 1, 2015.

    The only way they could make it worse for themselves is if Gilchrist insisted upon being nicknamed Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt.

    How long will this last, by the way? The website doesn’t say. If it’s only a day or a week, what happens after that? The website doesn’t say anything about that either. It also doesn’t mention anything about reinforcements to maintain a fresh supply of militia members to fight off the, you know, little girls.

    And finally, I suppose we can rest assured knowing that this reenactment of Normandy will be lawfully conducted. The website notes in all-caps: “WHATEVER YOU DO, STAY WITHIN THE RULE OF LAW.” Well, fine, in that case, all good. Seriously, what part of the law permits heavily armed civilians to militarily deploy along a 2,000 mile front with high-powered rifles (and lord knows what else) aimed at families and children? No one ever gave the Minuteman Project permission to augment the border patrol. Speaking of permission, do they intend to trespass on the private property owned by U.S. citizens who live on the border? Unknown.

    If I had to wager on “Operation Normandy” (barf), I’d put my money on it never happening. Immigration is surely an important issue, but it’s only receiving this kind of belligerent attention right now because Fox News shifted away from Benghazi into this overblown “invasion” news cycle. It’s impossible to know what they’ll be flailing about in May of next year. This sort of event will require plenty of coverage from the noise machine in order to supercharge the bigotry cortexes of the militia loyalists enough to motivate 3,500 of them to take time off work, pack up their guns, coolers and red Solo cups, and travel all the way to Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California for I-don’t-know-how-long. Something of this scale doesn’t happen without media hype, and there’s a fair chance “Operation Normandy” won’t get it.

    Anyway, Jesus, they cast themselves as the Nazis. That’s all we need to know about the seriousness of the thing.

    So Bob doesn’t think Fox is going to get excited about “Operation Normandy”. Awww. There’s goes another teachable moment, although it’s probably for the best.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 23, 2014, 10:28 am
  28. Here’s a reminder that armed militias on the lookout for refugee women and children are still patrolling the Texas border:

    Associated Press
    Border Patrol Agent Fires at Armed Militia Member

    Saturday, Aug 30, 2014 • Updated at 12:59 PM CDT

    A Border Patrol agent pursuing a group of immigrants in a wooded area near the Texas-Mexico border on Friday fired several shots at an armed man who later identified himself as a militia member.

    Border Patrol spokesman Omar Zamora said agents had been chasing a group of immigrants east of Brownsville Friday afternoon when an agent saw a man holding a gun near the Rio Grande.

    The agent fired four shots, but did not hit the man. The man then dropped his gun and identified himself as a member of a militia. Zamora said no other details were immediately available.

    Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio, whose agency is involved in the investigation, said the incident occurred on private property and it appeared the man had permission to be there. He was not arrested, Lucio said.

    The man, whose name has not been released, was wearing camouflage and carrying a long arm that was either a rifle or shotgun, Lucio said. The agent had lost the group of immigrants when he turned around and saw the man holding the weapon.

    An unknown number of militia members have come to the Texas border following a surge in illegal immigration this summer.

    But Lucio said, “We really don’t need the militia here.” He recognized they have the right to carry weapons, but noted that with the Border Patrol, Texas Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement, there are enough agencies working to secure the border. Gov. Rick Perry also called as many as 1,000 National Guard members to the border.

    “It just creates a problem from my point of view, because we don’t know who they are,” Lucio said.

    This month, the Border Patrol warned its agents about militia members after seven of them dressed in camouflage and carrying rifles appeared out of the dark and began helping to apprehend immigrants around a canal near Mission. The agents initially mistook them for a Department of Public Safety tactical team.

    In other news…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 30, 2014, 7:13 pm
  29. @Pterrafractyl
    Also speaking of the border, the organization Judicial Watch has put out the following alert regarding Isis in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico along side the Texas City of El Paso. I can’t tell you how much I hope this report is wrong, but would also worry about militia elements in cahoots with Isis, similar to what Spitfielist.com has presented potentially on Oklahoma City, on a September 11th, sick commemoration. Let’s hope this thought is hog wash. Anyway sincere thanks for your voluminous efforts to awaken and alert.

    “Ft. Bliss Increases Security

    AUGUST 29, 2014

    UPDATED: 08/31/2014 at 4:45 PM ET Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle born improvised explosive devices (VBIED). High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources have confirmed to Judicial Watch that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued. Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat. Specifically, the government sources reveal that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is confirmed to now be operating in Juarez, a famously crime-infested narcotics hotbed situated across from El Paso, Texas. Violent crimes are so rampant in Juarez that the U.S. State Department has issued a number of travel warnings for anyone planning to go there. The last one was issued just a few days ago. Intelligence officials have picked up radio talk and chatter indicating that the terrorist groups are going to “carry out an attack on the border,” according to one JW source. “It’s coming very soon,” according to another high-level source, who clearly identified the groups planning the plots as “ISIS and Al Qaeda.” An attack is so imminent that the commanding general at Ft. Bliss, the U.S. Army post in El Paso, is being briefed, JW’s sources say. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not respond to multiple inquiries from Judicial Watch, both telephonic and in writing, about this information. But two days after JW published this report Ft. Bliss implemented increased security measures. The statement that went out to the media attributes the move to several recent security assessments and the constant concern for the safety of military members, families, employees and civilians. However, El Paso’s newspaper credited JW’s Friday piece about ISIS terrorists planning an attack on U.S. soil from Juarez as a possible factor. The disturbing inside intelligence comes on the heels of news reports revealing that U.S. intelligence has picked up increased chatter among Islamist terror networks approaching the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. While these terrorists reportedly plan their attack just outside the U.S., President Obama admits that “we don’t have a strategy yet” to combat ISIS. “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” the commander-in-chief said this week during a White House press briefing. “I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggest that folks are getting a little further ahead of what we’re at than what we currently are.” The administration has also covered up, or at the very least downplayed, a serious epidemic of crime along the Mexican border even as heavily armed drug cartels have taken over portions of the region. Judicial Watch has reported that the U.S. Border Patrol actually ordered officers to avoid the most crime-infested stretches because they’re “too dangerous” and patrolling them could result in an “international incident” of cross border shooting. In the meantime, who could forget the famous words of Obama’s first Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano; the southern border is “as secure as it has ever been.”

    These new revelations are bound to impact the current debate about the border crisis and immigration policy”

    http://www.judicialwatch.org/bulletins/imminent-terrorist-attack-warning-feds-us-border/

    Posted by GK | September 1, 2014, 7:51 am
  30. @GK: DHS refuted Judicial Watch’s reports of ISIS members in Juarez so let’s hope that’s the case.

    In related news, here’s a recent story that highlights both the fact that the latest bout of border-patrol vigilante fever isn’t just festering in Texas:

    Nogales International
    Border militia confronts bat researchers

    Posted: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 7:26 am

    By Jonathan Clark

    A group of heavily armed militiamen confronted a team of scientists who had been studying bats in a cave near Sonoita last week, apparently mistaking them for illegal border-crossers or drug-smugglers.

    No one was hurt during the late-night encounter in the Gardner Canyon area, but the incident highlights the potential for trouble when citizens take up arms in hopes of defending the U.S.-Mexico border.

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection “does not endorse or support any private group or organization to take border security matters into their own hands as it could have disastrous personal and public safety consequences” the agency said in a statement.

    The confrontation near Sonoita began at approximately 11 p.m. on Aug. 23, according to a report given by one of the scientists to a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputy. The team of three researchers had been counting bats in Onyx Cave, and as they began walking back to their campsite near Gardner Canyon Road, they were flashed with a spotlight by a group of men.

    The men reportedly began shouting at the scientists in Spanish, and identified themselves as a militia group protecting the U.S.-Mexico border. The scientists identified themselves and continued to walk to their campsite “while seeking cover,” according to the deputy’s report.

    When they arrived at their campsite, they were again approached by the militiamen, who pulled up on an ATV while carrying a shotgun and wearing camouflage clothing. This time the militiamen were apologetic, but the reporting scientist told the deputy he still cursed them out and let them know how they had made him and his colleagues feel.

    The researchers said they weren’t directly threatened by the militiamen and did not see any weapons pointed at them. Still, the reporting person described the encounter as “aggressive” and said he was concerned for the safety of other people who were camping in the area. He said he saw three militia members, but suspected there were more.

    The report was made the afternoon after the encounter, and the deputy took no additional action on the matter. “Border Patrol had already dealt with the situation,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Raoul Rodriguez.

    Border Patrol agents from the Sonoita Station had arrived at the scientists’ campsite during the incident after having been contacted by the militia group. An agent contacted later by the investigating deputy reportedly described the militiamen as “heavily armed,” even more so than the agent.

    Neither the Border Patrol nor Sheriff’s Office could provide details about the militiamen, other than that they claimed to be from Colorado.

    In a brief statement from the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector, the agency said it received a phone call from a member of a militia group reporting suspicious activity near Sonoita at about 10 p.m. on Aug. 23.

    “Sonoita station agents responded and encountered a small group of biologists studying bats,” it said.

    Life-changer

    The incident at Gardner Canyon comes amid a recent surge in militia activity along the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the recent influx of undocumented Central American migrants, many of them minors. And while much of the militia activity has focused on Texas, some groups have come to Arizona.

    One militia group led by former Gilberton, Pa. Police Chief Mark Kessler arrived in Santa Cruz County earlier this summer, Rodriguez said.

    Kessler was fired by the Gilberton borough council last September after posting expletive-filled YouTube videos of himself firing automatic weapons while railing against “libtards” and perceived enemies of gun rights, including Secretary of State John Kerry. He then announced he was forming a militia, III Percent Pennsylvania, and began drawing up plans earlier this summer to patrol the Arizona-Mexico border.

    “Bring your gear, armor, helmets, first aid kits, MRE’s or canned food along with a lot of bottled water, but most important your ‘rifle, side arm’ & ammo!” Kessler wrote in a June 28 Facebook post to potential participants.

    In a subsequent post on July 7, Kessler announced plans to depart July 19 “with a few friends” who were “going to patrol cartel mule paths that lead into Arizona, leading a small team to recon the area and set up.” The group was “expecting to make contact and be engaged by heavily armed cartel escorts trucking dope into Arizona,” he wrote.

    Kessler and his team of 10-15 people later gathered at a hotel in Sierra Vista and ventured into Santa Cruz County, Rodriguez said, where they did not cause any documented trouble.

    “I think they stayed a day or two, and then they left,” Rodriguez said, adding that the group was last seen heading for Texas.

    For Kessler, the trip to the border was “absolutely a life changing exsperiance! (sic)” he wrote in a July 25 Facebook post.

    “Learned a lot about how our border patrol protects our southern borders and that not everyone on the other side wants to jump the fence! They are perfectly happy living in their country! And not everyone is working for cartels! Not even the Mexican military,” he wrote, adding: “I’m sure their (sic) are small pockets of military units assisting/working with cartels but not every single unit as it was portrayed to me and the crew with me!

    I can say we were expecting to be attacked by heavily armed cartels and we drove 2500 miles to respond for assistance, willing to risk life and limb, not knowing what we were walking into, armed for an all out battle with drug smugglers,” Kessler wrote, adding: “thank god that didn’t happen.”

    As Mark Kessler described above, his militia was “expecting to be attacked by heavily armed cartels” and “armed for an all out battle with drug smugglers” and he seemed quite surprised not to have run into any so far. In addition to being just generally alarming, statements like that also raise questions about the finances the militias and how long they can operate for before they’re forced into financial retreat. Because if the funds start running low and the militias haven’t yet quenched their thirst for patrolling the desert, groups seeking to do battle with heavily armed cartels (that might be carrying some very valuable cargo) might also become a little trigger-happy, making an already bad situation much worse.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 4, 2014, 10:02 pm
  31. Here’s a reminder that the Sovereign Citizens phenomenon isn’t limited to the US:

    The Saturday Paper
    Freemen movement targets Indigenous Australia

    “Sovereign citizens” are advising Indigenous Australians to operate outside the laws of the land.
    Ramon Glazov
    Sep 6, 2014

    Like all successful conspiracy subcultures, “sovereign citizens” or “Freemen on the Land” never stuck to one demographic for long. Indeed, in recent years the movement has reached Australia. The earliest freemen, however, were American and far-right. From 1969 onwards, a loose network of white supremacist “Posse Comitatus” militias appeared in the US, rejecting every legal authority higher than the county sheriff as “unconstitutional”. As an alternative, they promoted a pure “common law” system where township rulings would be enforced with public lynchings.

    Freemen believed all government acts to be optional and only enforceable on individuals who consented to them. As long as they did not acknowledge statutory law or the judiciary, sovereign citizens claimed they were exempt from prosecution – as well as from taxation, debt and road rules. In courts, they submitted rambling declarations containing private heraldry, wax seals, oddly coloured text and signatures jotted in blood or unusual inks. Written statutes, they argued, were actually tyrannical “admiralty laws”, never meant for dry land.

    Today, the Southern Poverty Law Centre estimates there are 500,000 sovereign citizens of various persuasions active in the US. The FBI blames the movement for crimes ranging from fraud and tax evasion to assault, murder and terrorism. In July, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) published a survey of US law enforcement officers from 175 agencies who now rated “sovereign citizens” as their top domestic terror threat – ahead of “Islamic extremists/jihadists”, “militia/patriot” groups and “racist skinheads”.

    Since the global financial crisis, sovereign citizen theories have found followings outside the US. In May 2013, The Irish Times reported that more than 100 Freemen court cases had been heard throughout Ireland in that year alone. Many involved foreclosure victims trying to escape underwater mortgages. Unusually, non-American Freemen revere the US-centric Black’s Law Dictionary, mining it for obscure Latin phrases scarcely used in modern courtrooms. Even the Posse Comitatus admiralty law belief has survived and adapted. A Canadian Freeman argued that the motto on Canada’s coat of arms – A Mari usque ad Mare, or “From Sea to Sea” – proved he was in an admiralty court.

    In Australia, a burgeoning faction of Freemen is targeting Indigenous audiences. A taste of the subculture can be gleaned online, in groups such as the Tribal Sovereign Parliament of Gondwana Land, the Original Sovereign Tribal Federation (OSTF) and the Original Sovereign Confederation. The last of these repeats the now-familiar admiralty law myth on its Facebook page and urges members to carry an “Affidavit of Truth” outlining “their desired relationship with the colony known as Australia”. Another Facebook page – Vote ‘NO’ to Constitutional Change – claims that constitutional recognition of Aboriginal Australians is a trick to “surrender sovereignty”. Everything, it alleges, is a Trojan Horse. The Recognise campaign’s “R” logo really stands for the Crown, as in “R v Defendant”. Welcome to Country ceremonies aren’t merely figurative but form “the only legal footing the Government have [sic] for so called Jurisdiction”. Native Title secretly means “Slave’s Title”, while a “traditional owner” is someone who has given up their property, at least in tenuous Latin cherrypicked from Black’s Law Dictionary.

    The most quoted and influential Aboriginal Freeman guru is OSTF founder and travelling speaker Mark McMurtrie. McMurtrie’s beginnings weren’t in law or land-rights activism but panel beating. In 2002, he sued the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission for $33 million in damages after losing out on a business grant worth $35,000. His four-year suit was unsuccessful. In 2007, he sued a former friend over money and property, losing again.

    The following year, however, McMurtrie was shown on YouTube giving three-hour “common law” seminars. He parroted Freemen beliefs that names in capitals on birth certificates and power bills belonged to a fictional “corporate person” and not the “flesh-and-blood” natural person. Some of McMurtrie’s language was still broadly populist – “We the Australian people…” instead of “We the original sovereigns…” – and many of his early Freeman admirers were non-Indigenous. Among them was “Peter-Andrew: Nolan©,” a men’s rights activist who encourages men to fight rape charges with sovereign citizen tactics and bans women from reproducing his name without written permission in red ink. On his website Crimes Against Fathers, Nolan ranks McMurtrie among the “Great Australian Heros [sic]”.

    After founding the OSTF, McMurtrie remained close to non-Aboriginal Freemen. In 2011 he joined forces with David Wynn Miller, an American guru claiming to teach “semantic” techniques for winning court cases, mostly involving quirky punctuation. The two unsuccessfully defended a client, Dr Masood Falamaki, in the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales. At one point Miller argued that a court document counted as a “maritime vessel”, explaining, “All paper is a vessel in a sea of space and therefore it has to fly a vessel”. McMurtrie backed Miller, telling The Sydney Morning Herald: “As a sovereign tribal man of this continent, I view his ramblings as relevant to my people.” His OSTF is currently partnered with a sovereign citizen outfit called the Truthology Foundation, which holds yearly “freedom summits”. These feature talks by Truthology’s creator Mark Darwin on “how you can operate privately outside the rules of such organisations like the ATO” and workshops by a “Mr X” on “successful techniques for negating and or waiving council fines, traffic infringements and tolls”.

    McMurtrie’s tone in videos is earnest and sulky, never dazzling or glib. He’s believable enough as an activist, a grassroots tragic, and the OSTF doesn’t immediately appear distinct from the rest of the land rights movement. In early 2012, OSTF members joined the Canberra Tent Embassy for the well-publicised protests that cost Julia Gillard her shoe. On Sunrise, McMurtrie even appeared as a supposed embassy spokesman. Later, surviving embassy founder Michael Anderson became suspicious of the OSTF’s non-Indigenous “legal advisers”. Over email, he distanced himself from McMurtrie, saying he “attempted to use the 40th celebration of the Embassy as a means to legitimise him and the OSTF”.

    Anderson had other concerns, too: “McMurtrie has been going around the country giving Aboriginal people his ‘Rebuttal’ to charges, but when the court rejects them McMurtrie is not around to advise how next to act.”

    There’s a problem beyond these word games: the centuries-long erosion of trust and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia. When part of a culture senses the court system is rigged against it, when a society has managed to make the terms “protection” and “child welfare” sound grim, then the OSTF mentality is partly understandable. Alienation begets anti-politics. Alienated people want explanations for the absurdism they feel around certain institutions; answers to why some professional fraternities give them the chills.

    Fantasies about tyrannical admiralty lawyers provide just that. They’re the opiate of the excluded.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 6, 2014, 6:18 pm
  32. Back in August people were asking if far right GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst’s “flirtation” with the fringe would hurt her in the general election. It was a reasonable topic of speculation all things considered:

    Yahoo News
    Will Joni Ernst’s flirtations with the political fringe haunt her in November?
    The Iowa Republican won her Senate primary by tacking hard to the right. Now she’s trying to win a general election in a state that’s far from deep red.
    By Meredith Shiner August 13, 2014 9:40 AM

    In the weeks since her decisive June U.S. Senate primary win, Iowa Republican Joni Ernst has found herself in the precarious position of being an establishment-backed candidate who owes her shot at a national office to some of the most conservative voters in the country. That means that while she’s now got the full support of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, she is also being confronted by sympathetic remarks she made earlier on fringe topics before audiences far to the right of the Iowa general electorate.

    The latest primary comments that could haunt her Senate bid are on the topic of Agenda 21, a community planning provision in a decades-old United Nations treaty that’s become an object of fear and conspiracy theories on the right, and especially in the commentaries and writing of Glenn Beck.

    Yahoo News has obtained video showing Ernst at a January GOP forum in Montgomery County, Iowa, warning that Agenda 21 could force Iowa farmers off their land, dictate what cities Iowans must live in, and control how Iowa citizens travel from place to place.

    “The United Nations has imposed this upon us, and as a U.S. senator, I would say, ‘No more. No more Agenda 21.’ Community planning — to the effect that it is implementing eminent domain and taking away property rights away from individuals — I don’t agree with that. And especially in a place such as Iowa, where we rely heavily upon our agricultural community, our rural communities. We don’t want to see things like eminent domain come into play,” Ernst said in response to a question about Agenda 21 at the forum.

    “We don’t want to see a further push with Agenda 21, where the Agenda 21 and the government telling us that these are the urban centers that you will live in; these are the ways that you will travel to other urban centers,” Ernst continued. “Agenda 21 encompasses so many different aspects of our lives that it’s taking away our individual liberties, our freedoms as United States citizens. So I would adamantly oppose Agenda 21. I don’t believe it is responsible, not for United States citizens.”

    It wasn’t the only time Ernst addressed the topic or raised such fears during her primary campaign. “What I’ve seen, the implications we could have here, is moving people off of their agricultural land and consolidating them into city centers, and then telling them that you don’t have property rights anymore,” she told a crowd in rural Ida Grove in November 2013, in response to a general foreign policy question and in remarks first reported by the Associated Press in June.

    But with her primary long in the rearview mirror and the general election less than 90 days away, Ernst now sounds more like a debunker of the conspiracy than an alarmist.

    When asked by Yahoo News last week in Iowa about Agenda 21 and her previous remarks on the issue — an issue so obscure that several outside GOP campaign operatives approached for this story had never heard of it — Ernst had changed her tune, and sounded more in sync with a general election audience.

    “I don’t think that the U.N. Agenda 21 is a threat to Iowa farmers,” Ernst said in an interview in her Urbandale campaign office. “I think there are a lot of people that follow that issue in Iowa. It may be something that is very important to them, but I think Iowans are very smart and that we have a great legislature here, we have a very intelligent governor, and I think that we will protect Iowans.”

    Ernst has expressed out-of-the-mainstream views on a range of issues, from impeaching President Barack Obama to the issue of states acting to nullify federal law, for which she was criticized by the editorial board of the Des Moines Register.

    Note that in addition to pushing for nullification of Obamacare, Ernst has also backed the arrest of federal officials trying to implement it.

    Continuing…


    But her positions on the 1992 U.N. recommendations for countries to become more environmentally sustainable — which Beckmade the basis of his novel "Agenda 21," about a “violent and tyrannical government” ruling “what was once known as America” — are perhaps her greatest flirtation with the politics of the conspiracy-minded.

    And unlike her impeachment remarks, the breadth and length of her response on the topic of Agenda 21 seems to belie a deep knowledge of the conspiracy theory floated by conservative radio icons on an issue on which many candidates would likely have no prepared talking points or strongly held opinions. Many sources familiar with Iowa politics note, however, that the question of Agenda 21 is more frequently discussed in the Hawkeye state’s agricultural communities than it is nationally.

    The full audio of her November comments, in response to a more generic question about the Council on Foreign Relations and “the eroding of American sovereignty via the United Nations,” was also obtained by Yahoo News:

    For now, Ernst says she’s not concerned about Agenda 21 or even people’s perception of her previous remarks on the matter.

    “I don’t think so,” she said, when asked whether she was worried about this. “People will think what they want to think about Agenda 21 — but again, going back to Iowa: The Iowa way is to take care of Iowans, and that’s exactly what we intend to do. I think the U.N. is a far reach away from Iowa. I don’t think it’s a threat.”

    That was back in August. With Joni Ernst now leading in the polls, the question is somewhat different now:

    TPM Cafe: Opinion
    Is Extremism Not A Character Issue?

    By Ed Kilgore Published
    October 1, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

    A perennial question in every election cycle is what this or that political contest — or for that matter, the whole national event — is “about.” Is it determined by historical patterns or “fundamentals,” as political scientists often insist? Is it a “referendum” on this or that, or a “mandate” for this or that, as ax-grinders invariably argue (with greater or lesser validity)? Is it a contest of brute force between donors and activists on the two major “teams” who are mainly seeking to “rally the troops?” Or is it a struggle for persuasion focused on a relative handful of “swing voters?”

    To the extent that persuasion is a factor, there’s an important subordinate question that comes up again and again: are voters attracted to or repulsed by candidates on matters of “character” or of substantive “issues,” and what are the boundaries of acceptable debate on both?

    This question has become unavoidable in the pivotal Senate race in Iowa, where Republican Joni Ernst has sought to make the race a contrast in personalities (or of “character”) while Democrat Bruce Braley has focused doggedly on “issues.”

    Ernst’s approach is certainly understandable. She leapt into the front-runner position in her primary not because of her skill as a debater or superior positioning on issues, but aside from benefiting from being a woman in a state starved for female leadership, and also being war veteran and current National Guard officer, she managed to run an ad that cleverly converted a family background on hog farms into a pledge to “castrate” big spending. It’s not what you’d call a particularly deep pitch, but it was brilliantly timed in part because it ran right after Bruce Braley made the unforced error of the cycle when a video surfaced of him asking Texas trial lawyers for money in order to keep an “Iowa farmer” — Chuck Grassley — from chairing the Judiciary Committee. Call the ad Grassley’s Revenge, a potent appeal in a state where many thousands have for decades routinely voted for both Tom Harkin (whose seat is being filled) and Grassley, despite their sharp differences on almost everything.

    So Ernst has had every reason to keep the general election focused on “personality” and “character,” particularly after Iowa Republicans created a second problem for Braley by manufacturing a “scandal” whereby the congressman supposedly threatened to sue a vacation-home neighbor whose free-range chickens were defecating on his lawn. Get it? Arrogant trial lawyer versus farmers, part two.

    Braley has gamely stuck to issues, primarily by hammering Ernst for very unpopular right-wing positions on the minimum wage and Social Security. But he’s also used issues to raise his own “character” issue: the claim that this mild-mannered hog-castrating war veteran woman in the soft-focused ads is actually an extremist. And in that pursuit he’s found plenty of ammunition in Ernst’s record in the Iowa legislature and on the campaign trail, particularly early in the 2014 cycle when she was looking for wingnut traction.

    Ernst is crying “unfair,” most notably in an exchange in their first debate last Sunday. Braley criticized her for sponsoring in the legislature a state constitutional amendment establishing prenatal “personhood” from the moment of fertilization, which he accurately said would outlaw now only the very earliest abortions but also IV fertility clinics and several types of contraception. This was Ernst’s response:

    “The amendment that is being referenced by the congressman would not do any of the things that you stated it would do,” Ernst said. “That amendment is simply a statement that I support life.”

    That’s true in a highly technical sense — perhaps using the reasoning of a trial lawyer — insofar as constitutional amendments don’t inherently create the laws they rule out or demand, but in a more basic sense, it’s just a lie, as Ernst and her campaign surely know. “Personhood” amendments are so extreme they have been routinely trounced when placed on the ballot (twice in Colorado and once in Mississippi). And if sponsoring one of them is a “statement” of anything, it’s a statement of absolute submission to Iowa’s powerful antichoice lobby, in the sense of ruling out any of those weasely “exceptions” to a total abortion (and “abortifacient”) ban.

    But the impulse to let Ernst off the hook for outrageous positions is fed by media cynicism as well as candidate mendacity. Consider another Ernst primary campaign theme that some Democrats have criticized, in the eyes of the outstanding political reporter Dave Weigel:

    The individual attacks on Braley, at this point, aren’t individually important. They’re important as bricks in a wall. Democrats are pursuing a similar strategy, plunking down tape after tape of Ernst, who spent a long time as the right-wing candidate in the primary, sounding like a … well, right-wing candidate. Meredith Shiner [of AP] has the latest example, a debate clip in which Ernst promised that she would oppose the threat posed by the U.N.’s Agenda 21 to suburbanites and farmers. Democrats seek to make voters see Ernst as a Sarah Palin golem; Republicans seek to make voters see Braley as an unrelatable, lawsuit-happy snob. It’s all very inspiring.

    So Democrats calling attention to Ernst’s multiple passionate statements subscribing to the insane, John Birch Society-inspired conspiracy theory that the United Nations is behind land-use regulations of every kind is treated as the equivalent of Republicans howling about Braley’s “chicken suit.” The reason, I suppose, is that you can’t criticize a pol for pandering to “the base” during primaries and then “moving to the center” in general elections. It’s just what you do.

    I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it. Extremism is, or should be, a “character” issue. And so, too, should be flip-flopping. Personally, I respect “personhood” advocates for taking a dangerous position based on the logical extension of strongly-held if exotic ideas about human development. I don’t respect those like Cory Gardner and Joni Ernst who try to weasel out of such positions the moment they become inconvenient.

    So is the GOP’s pervasive extremism a character issue in contemporary US politics? Well, based on Iowa’s Ernst-experience it looks like the answer is “not if you do it right…”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 3, 2014, 11:21 am
  33. What do you get when you introduce hemorrhagic fever into the far right fever swamps? The kind of shrill hysterics that might induce a stroke and make your ears bleed:

    Think Progress
    Rush Limbaugh: Obama Wants Americans To Get Ebola As Payback For Slavery

    by Igor Volsky Posted on October 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Radio host Rush Limbaugh suggested on Monday that President Barack Obama is refusing to divert flights from Ebola-infected countries and close down America’s borders because he believes that the nation “deserves” to be infected with the virus given its history of perpetuating slavery.

    Responding to a caller on his nationally syndicated radio show, Limbaugh launched into a soliloquy about so-called politically correct liberals who believe that America is responsible for the spread of Ebola in Liberia because that nation was established by freed American slaves. “And if it hadn’t been for that they probably wouldn’t have [Ebola]. So there are some people who think we kind of deserve a little bit of this,” he said, before accusing elected leaders of purposely leaving the country vulnerable to the virus.

    “The danger we have now is that we elected people in positions of power and authority who think this or think like this in terms of this country being responsible, this country being to blame for things and it’s that kind of thinking that leads to opposition to shutting down airports from various countries,” Limbaugh explained, referring to the Obama administration’s handling of the crisis.

    “It leads to opposition to keeping these people out of the country: ‘How dare we? We can’t turn our back on them! They exist because of us. We can’t turn them away!’” he said. Listen:

    Though Republicans have been calling on the Obama administration to impose strict travel bans on countries with Ebola infections, experts warn that such a policy could make things worse.. Ill patients would have a harder time seeking treatment, international health personnel wouldn’t be able to enter the country, and local economies and the health infrastructures would further be devastated by a travel ban.

    Well, as far as far right freak outs go, at least it was just directed at Obama, something we’ve all been thoroughly vaccinated against by now. It could have been worse!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 7, 2014, 2:46 pm
  34. It was just a matter of time:

    Media Matters
    Conservative Columnist: Is The Government Orchestrating The Ebola Crisis To Confiscate Guns?
    WND’s Brittany: Ebola And “Disposable FEMA Coffins” Could Point To “Martial Law”
    Blog ››› 1 hour and 26 minutes ago ››› BEN DIMIERO

    A columnist for conspiracy site WND asked whether the Obama administration has “orchestrated” Ebola and other crises in order to declare “martial law” and seize everyone’s guns.

    In recent weeks, conservative media figures have used the Ebola story to attack the Obama administration with twisted criticism, with radio host Michael Savage going so far as to suggest the administration was hoping to “infect the nation.” Now Morgan Brittany, actress and host of conservative online show PolitiChicks, ponders in her WND column, “What If The Conspiracy Theories Are True?”

    Writing about a dinner party she attended in “the heart of Los Angeles” with a crowd that “would never want to be thought of as conservative,” Brittany describes how the attendees were skeptical of recent government statements about Ebola and other issues, and claimed “everything that has come out of Washington has been misleading or an out and out lie.”

    According to Brittany, the attendees questioned “Why is there no urgency to stop the disease from entering the U.S.?” She explains the conversation then “veered into conspiracy territory,” including concerns about what Brittany called “$1 billion worth of disposable FEMA coffins”:

    Upon hearing this latest evidence of the incompetence permeating our government, the conversation veered into conspiracy territory. One of the men brought up the fact that Washington has known for months if not years that we were at risk for some sort of global pandemic. According to a government supplier of emergency products, the Disaster Assistance Response Team was told to be prepared to be activated in the month of October for an outbreak of Ebola. Hmm, that’s just like the fact that they knew 60,000 illegal children were going to be coming across our southern border eight months before it happened.

    Questions were then brought up about the stockpiling of ammunition and weapons by Homeland Security over the past couple of years and the $1 billion worth of disposable FEMA coffins supposedly stored in Georgia. Why was there preparation being made for FEMA camps to house people in isolation? These were the questions being seriously discussed.

    For the record, the “disposable FEMA coffins” Brittany warns of “have nothing to do with FEMA or any other agency of the U.S. government, and they were around long before Barack Obama was first elected to the presidency of the U.S. in 2008.” According to Snopes, a private company that sells plastic containers called grave liners stored the containers outdoors. An image of the containers circulated online and “gave rise to wild conspiracy theories” that have been circulating online for years.

    Brittany concludes by lamenting how people have lost trust in government because of supposed dishonesty, which creates a situation where “theories begin to emerge about all sorts of things.” She adds, “My fear is that this has all been orchestrated from the very beginning,” possibly so that “guns can be seized”:

    Recent polls show that there is a crisis of confidence among the people. When the people lose all trust in their government because of the lies they have been told over and over again, theories begin to emerge about all sorts of things. We desperately need someone to rebuild the trust and restore faith in this government. The damage that has been done is almost irreparable.

    My fear is that this has all been orchestrated from the very beginning. Who knows? Maybe the current administration needs this to happen so martial law can be declared, guns can be seized and the populace can be controlled. Once that happens … game over.

    Last month, Brittany was hosted on Fox & Friends to plug her new book, What Women Really Want.

    Don’t believe Brittany? You will once you learn that the government is hiding that fact that AT LEAST 10 ISIS MEMBER HAVE BEEN CAUGHT CROSSES THE US MEXICAN BORDER!!! So says far right congressman Duncan Hunter:

    MSNBC
    The Maddow Blog
    The border bombshell that’s completely wrong
    10/08/14 03:09 PM

    By Steve Benen

    Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. (R-Calif.) is perhaps best known for arguing last year that the United States should withdraw from nuclear talks with Iran because it is “part of the Middle Eastern culture” to lie. Instead, the far-right congressman said, U.S. officials should go after Iran “with tactical nuclear devices and you set them back a decade or two or three.”

    And as striking as this was last year, Hunter’s remarks on Fox News last night were just as amazing.

    The California Republican told Greta Van Susteren, almost in passing, that Islamic State militants are “coming across the southern border.” The Fox host, not surprisingly, seemed surprised, and it led to this exchange:

    VAN SUSTEREN: You say that they are coming in the southern border, which is – changes all the dynamics. Do you have any information or any evidence that they are coming in through the southern border now?

    HUNTER: Yes. Yes. I have information that –

    VAN SUSTEREN: Tell me what you know.

    HUNTER: I know that at least 10 ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the Mexican border in Texas. There’s nobody talking about it.

    When Van Susteren asked how he knows that, the Republican congressman replied, “Because I’ve asked the Border Patrol.” He added that Border Patrol agents “caught” Islamic State militants “at the border, therefore, we know that ISIS is coming across the border.”

    That’s quite a claim. Republicans have spent years desperately pushing for an even more aggressive crackdown on the U.S./Mexico border, and recent events – ISIS, Ebola, migrant children, etc. – have given them new rhetorical ammunition.

    There’s just one problem: Duncan Hunter appears to have made up his claim out of whole cloth.

    If U.S. Border Patrol officials had actually caught 10 Islamic State militants at our border, it would be an extremely important national development. But the reason “there’s nobody talking about it” is that this never actually happened in reality.

    Danny Vinik reached out to a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson, who said said on the record, “The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the Southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground. DHS continues to have no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border.”

    Which raises the question of whether one congressman – and only one congressman – has secret knowledge about bizarre circumstances that no one else can verify, or whether that congressman made stuff up during a Fox News interview.

    Vice President Biden is forced to apologize when he says things that are true, while Republican members of Congress don’t have to apologize, ever, when they say things are demonstrably ridiculous.

    Note that Hunter isn’t backing off the claim and is now asserting that a “high-level source” at DHS told him. It would be interesting to learn if Hunter’s alleged source for this bombshell is a current DHS official or a former one.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 8, 2014, 2:43 pm
  35. Here’s the latest indication that Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch really should be considered the unofficial id of the contemporary GOP: It looks like Judicial Watch’s previous “ISIS on the border!” claims may have been the source of Congressman Duncan Hunter’s claims that ISIS fighters have already been arrested trying to cross the US/Mexican border, although it’s still unclear. While Hunter’s office is now referencing a new Judicial Watch blog post as evidence of the arrest of ISIS members, Hunter also appears to be sticking to the original story about a “high-level source”:

    MSNBC
    The Maddow Blog
    GOP congressman doubles down on ‘categorically false’ border claim
    10/09/14 09:27 AM—Updated 10/09/14 10:32 AM

    By Steve Benen

    Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) made a pretty extraordinary claim on Fox News this week, telling a national television audience on Tuesday night that 10 Islamic State militants were caught entering the United States through the Mexican border. The far-right congressman was categorical: Hunter said in no uncertain terms that this has already happened, but “there’s nobody talking about it.”

    The California Republican added that he knows this is true “because I’ve asked the Border Patrol.”

    Right-wing media outlets were predictably excited by the baseless claimsNational Review, citing Hunter’s comments, asked, “Could the administration really successfully cover up something as big as this?” – but there’s a small problem. Neither Hunter nor his allies have any verifiable evidence to bolster the allegations. I mean that quite literally – there’s nothing from Border Patrol, nothing from other members of Congress or relevant committees, nothing from the Mexican government, and nothing from the Department of Homeland Security.

    On the contrary, DHS described the claim as “categorically false” and Secretary Jeh Johnson suggested Hunter has no idea what he’s talking about.

    And that leaves the far-right congressman with a choice: Hunter can scale back his explosive claims or he can stick to his guns. Take a wild guess which course the Republican prefers.

    Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper said the congressman stands by his comments. “A high level source informed the congressman – it was also said that DHS is actively discouraging any talk of IS on the border,” Kasper said.

    “The congressman was conveying what he knows – and what he was told,” he said.

    Hmm. Hunter has no proof, but he has a source he won’t identify, who gave him information that literally no one else can verify, about an important claim unsupported by facts.

    Wait, it gets even better.

    Kasper emailed me yesterday, encouraging me to check out a blog post from a right-wing legal group called Judicial Watch, which also claims to have secret information about ISIS terrorists arrested in Texas. There’s no independent evidence to support this, either, though Hunter’s office apparently takes it quite seriously.

    In a follow-up email to The Rachel Maddow Show, the congressman’s aide added that the 10 ISIS terrorists Hunter referenced on the air should probably be referred to as “foreign nationals” with “associations” to the terrorist group. The congressman’s office did not feel the need to share this information with federal law enforcement, the aide added, because Hunter’s source is already in law enforcement and there’s “no need to inform the person that is informing us.”

    Well that clears everything up, doesn’t it! Also note that if you read the Judicial Watch blog post Hunter’s office referred as evidence of these arrests, the post was written after Hunter’s claims and also cites unnamed “Homeland Security sources”:

    Judicial Watch
    JW Confirms: 4 ISIS Terrorists Arrested in Texas in Last 36 Hours

    OCTOBER 08, 2014

    Islamic terrorists have entered the United States through the Mexican border and Homeland Security sources tell Judicial Watch that four have been apprehended in the last 36 hours by federal authorities and the Texas Department of Public Safety in McAllen and Pharr.

    JW confirmed this after California Congressman Duncan Hunter, a former Marine Corp Major and member of the House Armed Services Committee, disclosed on national television that at least ten Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) fighters have been caught crossing the Mexican border in Texas. The veteran lawmaker got the astounding intel straight from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Homeland Security agency responsible for guarding the 1,933-mile southern border.

    “If you really want to protect Americans from ISIS, you secure the southern border,” Hunter proclaimed on a national cable news show this week. “It’s that simple. ISIS doesn’t have a navy, they don’t have an air force, they don’t have nuclear weapons. The only way that ISIS is going to harm Americans is by coming in through the southern border – which they already have.” The three-term congressmen went on: “They aren’t flying B-1 bombers, bombing American cities, but they are going to be bombing American cities coming across from Mexico.”

    In late August JW reported that Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED). High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources confirmed to JW that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued. Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat.

    So Duncan Hunter cited unnamed “high-level officials” in making his claim that at least 10 ISIS members have been detained on the US/Mexican border, and when pressed for more information Hunter’s office then refers to a blog posting by Judicial Watch written after Hunter made his televised claims that also refers to unnamed sources claiming that 4 ISIS member have been arrested in just the last 36 hours. Welcome to the echo chamber. Abandon hope all ye who enter.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 9, 2014, 11:13 am
  36. It’s natural for teenagers to be embarrassed by their parents. In this case it’s unclear who is embarrassing whom:

    Salon

    Paul vs. Paul: Ron trashes Rand’s “politically motivated” Ebola travel ban
    Former Texas congressman ridicules the travel ban his son says is “only reasonable” VIDEO
    Luke Brinker
    Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014 08:24 AM CST

    As Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul gears up for a 2016 presidential bid, he is attempting to distance himself from his inflammatory father, former Texas congressman Ron Paul, who harbors foreign policy views anathema to the Republican base and whose warm ties with the right-wing fringe threaten his son’s effort to portray himself as a mainstream Republican.

    In a new interview with Newsmax TV, Ron Paul just made his son’s effort to keep him at arm’s length a little bit easier. Speaking with host J. D. Hayworth, Ron Paul ridiculed calls for a ban on travel from Ebola-stricken countries — a travel ban that Rand Paul has called “only reasonable.”

    “For a government to just ban all travel, I’m not much interested in that,” Paul told Hayworth.

    Lampooning advocates of an Ebola travel ban, Paul argued that an influenza travel ban made far more sense.

    “Right now, the flu season is starting,” Paul said. “You know how many people are liable to die? Tens of thousands. Actually, the estimate is between 3,000 and 49,000 people die every year from the flu. So if you really wanna do good for the world, let’s ban all people who have a cold, because they might have the flu, and we have to stop it.

    “So right now, I would say a travel ban is politically motivated more than something done for medical purposes,” Paul added.

    Paul the elder’s opposition to a ban is shared by most experts. On Sunday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease’s Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview that a travel ban would make tracking people entering the U.S. from West Africa more difficult. Experts who spoke to the New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn argued that a ban could discourage medical volunteers from traveling to afflicted countries, given that they may have a difficult time leaving, and would also likely encourage other countries to adopt counterproductive travel bans.

    Well that had to lead to some awkward father/son conversations.

    In related news, Iowa Congressman Steve King was recently videoed at an event with Donald Trump where he had a public conversation about how President Obama was turning the country into a third world nation with Ebola and ISIS flooding through the borders. As far as Ebola fear-mongering goes, it was par for the course. It was also par for the course for Steve King and not at all surprising given the intense fever that has fully infected the GOP in the final stretch of the US midterms.

    What is a little surprising, at this point, is that Iowa appears to be ready to elect Senator that almost makes Steve King look sane in comparison. Almost. As the article points out below, the GOP’s candidate for the US Senate, Joni Ernst, is no Sarah Palin, because, for instance, Sarah Palin isn’t actually an elected official anymore but has opted for the Fox News gravy train whereas Joni Ernst is poised to become Iowa’s next senator. See the difference?

    Time
    Why Joni Ernst Isn’t ‘Iowa’s Sarah Palin’

    Jay Newton-Small

    Aug. 17, 2014
    Trying to turn her into a caricature, Democrats paint Ernst as “crazy”

    Updated 8/18/14 at 1:08pm

    Standing before a crowd at the Iowa State Fair, perspiring slightly in sun that had finally emerged after two days of rain, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told the crowd what she really thought about Republican Iowa Senate hopeful Joni Ernst.

    “She’s like an onion of crazy; the more you peel back the layers, the more disturbing it is,” Wasserman Shultz said, followed by a cheer of audience approval.

    The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee went up with a television ad on Monday entitled, “Joni Ernst & Sarah Palin¹s Tea Party Agenda Is Too Extreme For Iowa.”Joni Ernst is the only Republican Senate nominee in the country who chose to campaign with Sarah Palin because no one is more in line with Palin’s Tea Party ideas that are bad for Iowa families,” said Christina Freundlich, communications director of the Iowa Democratic Party. This is the conventional wisdom Democrats have been pushing in this too-close-to-call race between State Sen. Ernst and Rep. Bruce Braley, the Democratic candidate to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, also a Democrat: Ernst is an extreme, Tea Party nut job, the female version of Ted Cruz. The problem with this line of rhetoric is: it’s not true.

    Ernst broke out in the primary, despite being enormously outspent by retired businessman Mark Jacobs, with a pair of innovative commercials. In one, she aims a gun at the camera while a narrator says, “Once she sets her sights on Obamacare, Joni’s gonna unload.” Then she fires. In another, she talks about growing up on a farm castrating pigs, and how she knows how to “cut pork.” Both drew national attention for their boldness—some calling them Palinesque— and in that respect, they worked. With relatively little money or name recognition, Ernst won the GOP primary with 56% of the vote.

    All primary candidates say things they inevitably regret in the General Election and Ernst is no exception. Since the General Election has begun, videos of Ernst talking about Agenda 21, a Glenn Beck conspiracy theory about the United Nations’ superseding U.S. laws, states nullifying federal laws and impeaching Obama have surfaced. Ernst has since backpedaled from all of these statements, saying the impeachment talk, in particular, was taken out of context, arguing that she was answering a hypothetical question.

    To be sure, Ernst is more conservative than most Republicans in the Senate. She believes life begins at conception, and co-sponsored a personhood amendment in the Iowa State Senate. Personhood laws often ban several types of contraception, as well as Plan B, on the grounds that conception could have taken place already.

    Ernst, who served more than 20 years in the military, including a deployment to Iraq, is also enthusiastically pro-gun. And if elected, she would make it one of her top priorities to repeal Obamacare. She also enjoys the support of those she has been lobbed together with: Cruz and Palin.

    That said, Ernst’s other endorsements include Mitt Romney, whom she endorsed in the 2008 and 2012 Iowa caucuses, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. She’s also the only 2014 primary candidate to be backed by both the Chamber of Commerce and the Senate Conservatives Fund, which has funded Tea Partiers looking to usurp establishment candidates.

    Ernst’s campaign argues that in the State Senate, she has a record of bucking party lines in order to compromise. She pushed her leadership to pass the Valor Act, which banned lying about military medals; even though many had reservations that the bill violated the First Amendment. As a county auditor, she opposed a salary increase for county employees. Rather than simply opposing it, though, she did a survey of the county’s private businesses, asking if anyone was increasing salaries during the economic downturn.

    The results built support opposing the salary bump. She also took on her own party to help pass bills which required public schools to test for dangerous toxins in their buildings, protected funding for mental health services for Iowans and allowed parents of children with severe epilepsy to buy non-addictive cannabis oil.

    In other words, Ernst was hardly the bomb-throwing Ted Cruz of the Iowa Senate.

    To compare Ernst to Palin these days isn’t fair either. Palin now is more of an entertainer akin to Rush Limbaugh than a politician. But Ernst does bear a resemblance to the politician Palin once was–the Palin who had an 80% approval rating in Alaska and saw through compromise legislation. As a new governor, Palin was never shy about taking on the establishment, a trait which helped make her name, but it wasn’t until her stint as John McCain’s pitbull VP choice that she became so polarizing.

    Well there we go! Comparing Joni Ernst to Sarah Palin isn’t really fair. While Ernst certainly sounds like Sarah Palin when she’s pushing things like Agenda 21, nullification, and banning forms of contraception, Ernst also backed away from comments advocating impeaching President Obama. That’s not very Palinesque. And once she broke with her party this year to support radon testing in schools (with friends like these…). And then later this year Ernst “took on her own party” (along with nearly half of her fellow GOP state senators) and voted in favor of allowing kids to use medical cannabis oil (which Bruce Braley also supports. And sort of Sarah Palin. And Rand and Ron Paul. It’s not exactly a bold stance at this point). Ernst is totally not like Sarah Palin at all! And that’s probably good news for Joni Ernst since it turns out Sarah Palin is political poison in Iowa:

    PoliticusUSA
    The Support of Sarah Palin and the Koch Brothers Backfires and Brings Down Joni Ernst
    By: Sarah Jones
    Sunday, October, 12th, 2014, 3:24 pm

    The Republican brand is catching up with them in Iowa and it’s time for the Koch Brothers to rebrand again. Their name is dirt, even with the Republican base who continue to cheer policies that are harmful for themselves and their children.

    By more than 2-1, the Koch Brothers affiliation hurts Joni Ernst. According to a new Iowa poll analyzed by the Des Moines Register, the Koch Brothers’ support for Republican Senate candidate and castration expert Joni Ernst is a big fat negative, with 50% disapproving and only 21% approving. Even Republicans are disgusted, with 36% finding the Kochs to be a noose around the castrator’s neck and only 27% approving.

    You know who else hurts Joni Ernst? Sarah Palin, with only 30% saying her support of Ernst helps and 56% saying it hurts. We’ve been trying to explain this to Republicans, but they are so desperate to cater to the extremist wing of their party that they still believe the mainstream belief in the power of Palin.. Newsflash: This isn’t 2010.

    Meanwhile, as Republicans stew in the toxicity which is their Koch Palin brand, Democratic Representative Bruce Braley is gaining on Ernst, with just one point separating them now, 47/46. Previously Ernst had been leading by 6 points, though she has also gained 3 points. The Register credits “armies of Democratic activists going door to door” for “piling up the votes for Braley.”

    But also, the voters like Braley’s policies better (totally not shocking since Democrats align with most of America and Republicans align with the top 2%). “Likely voters find more of Braley’s policy positions closer to their own views than Ernst’s positions among 10 issues tested. A majority of likely voters favor six of Braley’s stances to four of Ernst’s.”

    In the matter of the People versus the Kochs, the People are gaining.

    If the public doesn’t approve of the Koch Brothers’ support for Joni Ernst, wait until they find out that she’s playing fast and loose with campaign finance laws to the extent that a Super PAC running $1 million in TV campaign ads against her opponent, Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley, “is run out of the Des Moines consulting firm of a strategist for Braley’s GOP opponent,” according to the Washington Post.

    In yet another example of why the IRS was investigating the shady behavior of these “tax exempt” groups buying our elections, WaPo continued to explain that even though the law says the candidate’s campaign can’t coordinate with SuperPACs:

    The super PAC, Priorities for Iowa Political Fund, is headed by Sara Craig, a consultant for Redwave Communications. Last year, Craig and Redwave founder David Kochel together started a similarly named tax-exempt group, Priorities for Iowa, which ran an ad hammering Braley after he was caught on tape dismissively referring to GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley as “a farmer.”

    More recently, Kochel has served as an outside strategist for Braley’s opponent, GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst. Her campaign has paid Kochel’s firm more than $25,000 for direct mail services this year, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

    Nothing to see here, peeps. Totally legit.

    Republican candidates need to be reminded that their number one job is pretending to be moderate until they win elections. Going Sarah Palin/Koch brothers before an election is not a good plan. What might work for a gerrymandered House campaign is much more risky in a Senate campaign. This should be obvious since both Sarah Palin and David Kochh lost their campaigns to be our Vice Presidents, and are now doing everything in their power to backseat drive the GOP over the crazy cliff.

    Will the GOP drive over the crazy cliff and lose in Iowa or win in Iowa, take the Senate, and drive the whole country over the cliff? We’ll find out. But if she does win, it should be really interesting to see what her stance will be on federal agricultural subsidies given the Koch’s ample gift-giving to the Ernst campaign and the Koch’s brothers’ stated goal of ending agricultural subsidies completely.

    Ernst’s stance on government subsidies is that she’s ‘philosophically’ opposed to them but is willing to support Iowa’s federal subsidies unless we get rid of all the other subsidies at the same time. Yep, that’s her position.

    The Koch brothers are beneficiaries of agricultural subsidies but they also seem pretty sincere in their attempts to end all subsidies and why not? What’s going to be easier to claw back after all the subsidies have been nuked: subsidies for billionaires or subsidies for the rest of us?
    Overall, it’s kind of hard to say if we should expect cuts to LittleAg only or BigAg too. The Kochs seem desparate to gut all the programs for the the poor but they also really like money and corporate subsidies benefit them too. And yet the Kochs are clearly willing to spend vast sums of their personal fortunes on getting people with a mission to gut programs for the poor elected to office. So who knows whether or not the Kochs will actually try to create the political dynamic where Ernst and the rest of the Kochtopus get a chance to truly end all agricultural subsidies along with all other subsidies simultaneously (it seems like corporate America would find ways to keep their slice) but it’s pretty clear that Ernst would vote to just nuke all subsidies, good and ill, if the opportunity arises. And if you listen to her recently unearth comments about how Americans need to be taught “painful lessons” in living without government services it’s pretty clear that Ernst is anxious to cut some non-agriculture subsidies benefiting everyone, no matter what.

    That’s one of the reasons the Kochs and their sponsored candidates like Joni Ernst are like a box of chocolates. Sugar-free chocolates: You never know what you’ll get inside but you’d really prefer the non-sugar-free version unless you happen to have diabetes. Although for Iowans that do have diabetes and can’t afford their medical costs the Koch & Ernst brand of ‘sugar-free chocolates’ should be avoided at all costs:

    PoliticusUSA
    Joni Ernst Promises Americans a Very Painful Lesson If Elected
    By: Rmuse
    Monday, October, 20th, 2014, 9:30 pm

    After the 2012 general election Republicans promised to “not be stupid” and tamp down on candidates making statements that alienated voters such as Willard Romney’s infamous “47-percent moochers” remark. Of course, Republicans have done nothing to change their message, and have instead spent the past year-and-a-half either calling hardworking Americans inherently lazy for not earning more than poverty wages, or labeled them as moochers for expecting a return on their tax dollars and contributions to Medicare and Social Security pensions conservatives call “entitlements.” There has been a substantial movement among well-established mainstream Republicans to campaign on “educating” Americans about the “value and culture of hard work and responsibility,” and one Republican is promoting a Koch brother agenda that will teach Americans to be self-sufficient in a nation without a government for the people.

    Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst said that “What we have to do a better job of is educating the American people that they can be self-sufficient. They don’t have to rely on the government to be the do-all, end-all for everything they need and desire, and that’s what we have fostered, is really a generation of people that rely on the government to provide absolutely everything for them. It’s going to take a lot of education to get people out of that. It’s going to be very painful and we know that. So do we have the intestinal fortitude to do that.”

    What Ernst claims she has the intestinal fortitude to do is repeal Obamacare, privatize Social Security, abolish education spending, eliminate food stamps, and force people to seek out church assistance once they have been liberated and educated in the Koch tradition of government-less self-sufficiency. She said, “We have to take a good, hard look at entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance, Obamacare, and Medicare) and figure out how to get people off of those. It’s exponentially harder to remove people once they’ve already been on those programs.”

    Ernst’s treatise on government dependency revealed that not only is she a hard line devotee of tea party orthodoxy, she has a perverse vision of America’s 20th Century as a monumental error; because like the Koch’s she sees government for the people as an abomination that needs to be abolished once and for all. Ernst laid out her Koch-libertarian agenda, including the wholesale elimination of each and every one of the New Deal’s protections, under the guise of “educating the American people that they can be self-sufficient.” In Ernst’s mind, educating the people is “gutting and annihilating all government services” that she openly admits will be “very painful” for the American people. However, according to her ideological bent, Americans will soon get over losing unemployment insurance, healthcare, disability insurance, Social Security, Medicare, and workplace protections because they will have been liberated from the government and learned a “very painful lesson in self-sufficiency.” It is the Koch vision for America that Ernst promises to see through to fruition as recompense for their valuable campaign contributions to her Senate candidacy.

    Ernst’s intent to enact an incredibly cruel policy vision is to correct what she believes are a rash of America’s past mistakes; like provisions in the New Deal that her Koch donors believe set America on a path of total devastation regardless the benefit to all Americans. Ernst also parrots a typical libertarian mindset that government is evil and claims that Americans have come to “rely on government for absolutely everything” instead of “relying on what churches and private organizations are doing because, as she errantly claims, “government gives them everything.” Ernst means everything like Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, access to affordable healthcare, workplace protections and the like, that her historical revisionism informs was not only a complete and utter waste, but something that the people never needed in the first place. It is not clear where Ernst gets her version of early 20th century Utopia that was the Great Depression, but she is certain Americans in food lines and working 80-hour weeks for dirt-pay were not only self-sufficient, but happily liberated from government protections.

    For most Americans, the open hostility toward the American people by Koch-fueled Republicans like Ernst is founded on an innate heartlessness toward humanity and not regard for all Americans as “citizens.” As an aside, Ernst does not display the same level of heartlessness toward a zygote she strongly believes the government has a biblical duty to protect and care for by bestowing personhood and constitutional protections by government fiat. It is likely that the majority of Americans do not share either the Koch brothers, teabagger Republicans, or Joni Ernst’s hatred of government programs or the American people. However, for Republicans panting to elect candidates like Ernst to impose a Koch education amounting to “annihilating” all government programs has nothing to do with reducing the size of government and everything to do with enacting policies that “will be very painful” for the people.

    Yes, “painful” lessons are coming to the US Senate and Ernst is bringing it. To all of us. Somewhat indiscriminately. The cannabis oil should help.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 22, 2014, 11:02 pm
  37. Iowa GOP Senate candidate and aspiring Koch Ring-wraith Joni Ernst surprised Iowa’s journalists by suddenly canceling meetings with the editorial boards of a number of local newspapers, prompting some journalists to wonder what’s Joni suddenly afraid of?

    TPM Livewire
    Joni Ernst Reportedly Canceled Major Iowa Editorial Board Meetings
    By Daniel Strauss
    Published October 23, 2014, 10:58 AM EDT

    Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, has reportedly canceled meetings with major editorial boards in the state.

    The cancelation was made public by The Des Moines Register’s Rekha Basu, a columnist for the paper in a Facebook post:

    Is Joni Ernst afraid of newspaper editorial boards? After much negotiating, she was scheduled to meet his morning with writers and editors at The Des Moines Register, but last night her people called to unilaterally cancel. She has also begged off meetings with The Cedar Rapids Gazette and The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald.

    Is Ernst that sensitive to the kinds of criticisms that invariably will come in such a high profile U.S. Senate racer? Is she afraid of the scrutiny? Sure, it’s stressful, but all the other candidates for Congress are doing it to get their messages out, including Steven King, the target of frequent editorial criticism. Would Ernst similarly thumb her nose at the press while serving in the Senate?

    The Des Moines Register’s Randy Evans tweet something similar to Basu’s post.

    .@joniernst cancelled plans to meet today w/ @DMRegister editorial board. Did the same w/ Cedar Rapids Gazette. Avoiding tough questions?— Randy Evans (@DMRevans) October 23, 2014

    In an endorsement of Braley by the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the paper noted that “Ernst’s campaign failed to make time in her schedule.” Bloomberg Politics’ Dave Weigel also noted that, according to CBS affiliate KMEG14 reporter Jen Austin, “after a half dozen attempts, including emails and phone calls to Joni Erns’s camp we were unable to schedule a sit-down with the Republican candidate.”

    Earlier in the week, the Des Moines Register, arguably Iowa’s most prominent newspaper, called Ernst out on her support of a Personhood measure in a blistering editorial on Tuesday.

    Specifically, the editorial criticizes Ernst for saying during the last U.S. Senate debate between her and Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), that a Personhood amendment to the state Constitution that she supported “is simply a statement that I support life.”

    In a statement to Politico, Ernst spokeswoman Gretchen Hamel referred to the Register’s recent critical editorials of Ernst.

    “Joni is barnstorming the state, visiting all 99 counties and talking face to face with voters about the issues they care about most,” Hamel said in the statement. “Recent editorials in the Des Moines Register make their position in this race perfectly clear, and it’s one that many voters across our state seem to disagree with. With less than 12 days to go, time is precious and Joni wants to spend every minute talking to undecided voters, hearing their concerns, and demonstrating why we need a change in Washington.”

    Rick Green, the president and publisher of the Register, said his publication was disappointed, not angry, with Ernst’s cancelation, according to Politico:

    We were disappointed by the Ernst camp’s decision to not spend an hour with the editorial board and share her vision for our state and the rest of the country. This has been an incredibly nasty, competitive race where both sides have spent millions and aired tens of thousands of TV spots. Undecided voters I talk to want Sen. Ernst to break through the rhetoric and cacophony of campaign ads about hogs, Obamacare and balanced budgets. It’s a time for sharing specifics. It’s a chance to have a serious conversation about vision, priorities, the economy, national security, foreign relations and Social Security. I’m not angry she snubbed the Des Moines Register editorial board, which is in final deliberations about our Senate endorsement. It truly isn’t about us. We wanted to discuss the future of the state and allow Joni Ernst to share insights and specific responses to the concerns and questions of Iowans and voters. It’s unfortunate that cannot happen.

    The TPM Polltracker average finds Ernst with a 1.1 lead over Braley.

    Wow. With less than two weeks to go maintains Joni Ernst’s anti-journalist cone of silence remains with the race statistically tied. And then she cancels all of her interviews with local editors at the last minutes and instead we get another round of pig castration ads with Joni telling us:

    “Dirty, noisy and it stinks. Not this lot. I’m talking about the one in Washington. Too many typical D.C. politicians hogging, wasting and full of — well, let’s just say bad ideas. It’s time to stop spending money we don’t have and balance the budget.”

    It’s kind of a hilariously dark coincidence that the castration ads have been part of what fueled Ernst’s popularity since they’re intended to show her commitment to making the most painful cuts you can imagine to public services which is an alarmingly accurate description of what she would do given the chance and something you would think she wouldn’t be bragging about. So those castration ad blitzes do sort of act as a concise summary of her platform. Who needs to talk to the local media? She’s wants to castrate government services. What else is there to say?

    Ok, maybe she could talk about the other hot topic that just hit the Ernst campaign: her 2012 talk at an NRA even where she casually dropped a line about her preparedness to use her guns for armed revolution:

    TPM Livewire
    GOPer Ernst Promises To Use Her Gun If Gov’t Decides Rights Aren’t ‘Important
    By Daniel Strauss
    Published October 23, 2014, 9:44 AM EDT

    During an National Rifle Association event in Iowa in 2012, state Sen. Joni Ernst, now the Republican nominee for Senate in the state, said she carries a 9-millimeter gun around everywhere and believes in the right to use it even if it’s against the government if they disregard her rights.
    .
    “I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere,” Ernst said during a speech at the NRA’s Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsboro, Iowa, as flagged by The Huffington Post on Thursday. “But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”

    As TPM previously noted, Ernst previously suggested in a survey that she supported legislation that would let local law enforcement arrest federal officials involved in implementing Obamacare.

    TPM has reached out to the Ernst campaign and will update when we hear back.

    It looks like someone needs to reign in their inner-Sovereign Citizen (there can be only one). We already had to worry about Joni advocating nullification and the arrest of federal employees. Now we’re finding out she’s been talking about her readiness for a shootout with “the government” at NRA events. It’s starting to feel like Cliven never left.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 23, 2014, 10:26 pm
  38. Fox News’s Chris Wallace just predicted that the GOP would try to impeach Obama if executive action is taken on immigration. If you’re wondering where Wallace’s predicted confidence is coming from, here’s an example:

    Think Progress
    Iowa Congressman: Impeach Obama If He Grants Deportation Relief To Undocumented Immigrants

    by Josh Israel Posted on August 3, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Just five days after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) attempted to dismiss talk of impeachment as a “scam started by Democrats at the White House,” a key Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee told Fox News Sunday that the Republican House should impeach President Obama if he uses his executive authority to defer deportation for millions of undocumented adults.

    Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has led the charge to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), successfully pushed this week to pass a House bill to defund the renewal of the deferred status for hundreds of thousands of undocumented residents brought to the United States as children.

    Asked by host Chris Wallace about the probability of executive action by the Obama administration to stop deporting the millions of undocumented adults, King made it clear that this would be an impeachable offense. If Obama should take unilateral action to expand DACA beyond its current levels, he said, “Congress has to sit down and have a serious look at the rest of this constitution and that includes that ‘i’ word we don’t want to say.” Wallace pressed him to clarify the threat:

    Wallace: But you’re saying if he were to do that then impeachment would be on the table?

    King: I think then we have to start, sit down and take a look at that. Where would we draw the line otherwise? If that’s not enough to bring that about, then I don’t know what would be.

    Watch the video:
    [see video]

    Speaker Boehner, ironically, urged President Obama to take unilateral executive action to address the border crisis this week — a day after almost every House Republican in his caucus voted to sue the president for using similar authority to implement Obamacare.

    Keep in mind that Congressman King was far from the only GOPer pushing impeachment over immigration action at the time, but that was also several months ago and not the eve of an election. So uttering the ‘i’ word was a relatively low-risk move for Congressman King.

    How about closer to the election? Well, Steve King certainly hasn’t been shy about reiterating his calls for impeachment, but he laid out a new plan a couple of weeks ago that might be considered an alternative to impeach: call for protests that surround the White House “until he let’s go of this unconsitutional action”. In other words, instead of immediately jumping to impeaching, Steve King wants to see the GOP lead some sort of ‘Occupy the White House’ movement first:

    The Blaze
    GOP lawmaker: Impeachment should be an option if Obama moves on immigration
    Oct. 27, 2014 9:31am Pete Kasperowicz

    Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) says Republicans should keep open the option of impeaching President Barack Obama if he moves aggressively to create a legal status for millions of illegal immigrants after the election.

    “We know there is the ‘I’ word in the Constitution that none of us want to say or act on,” King told NewsMax.

    “In this context, everything is on the table,” he added. “We cannot have a president of the United States that believes that he can make up the law as he goes.”

    King stressed that Republicans shouldn’t move immediately to impeach Obama. “I’m not advocating that’s the first card to play, but it surely is not one that you take off the table,” he said.

    But he said Congress should be prepared to defend the Constitution “at all costs.”

    “A lawless president in the United States occupying the White House was not something our founding fathers ever imagined would happen,” he said. “Well, I guess they did, because they put that provision in the Constitution to deal with it.”

    As an intermediate step before impeachment, King repeated that Congress should convene and possibly act to blunt Obama’s move. King has said he would fly immediately to Washington if needed, and said he hoped House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would be ready to call other members back.

    King also suggested that protests around the White House might also help let Obama know that people oppose his effort to legalize millions of illegal immigrants.

    “I don’t figure that going to the Capitol and asking people to come there to surround the Capitol does us any good, but surrounding the White House might,” he said. “If we’re not going to go there and protest outside the gates of the president’s residence, until he lets go of this unconstitutional action, then I don’t know how we stop this.”

    Occupy the White House here we come! It should be interesting to see how wild those protests get. Assuming the protestors aren’t waving Confederate flags and calling for the president to “leave town, to get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up” these protests should be far more telegenic than any drawn out impeachment process.

    Of course, since there’s a strong likelihood this protest strategy won’t achieve the desired results, it’s very possible that this White House protest plan was purely Steve King’s wishful thinking. So maybe the GOP will just stick with the ‘i’ word.

    Then again, since the actually viability and the likelihood of successful for their Obama-opposition schemes isn’t really an issue for the GOP, maybe a high profile protest strategy really is the best option for the GOP, at least as some sort of impeachment appetizer. Just imagine all of those scenes of massive crowds outside the White House and what it could do to rally the public around the movement. Just imagine

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 3, 2014, 8:08 pm
  39. And the GOP’s civil war has begun. No, not the civil war between the sane and insane wing of the party. You can’t fight the dead. No, less than weeks after the midterms, what the GOP now faces isn’t even the ‘impeachment vs shutdown’ civil war. It’s the ‘impeachment and shutdown vs shutdown only vs add to Boehner’s lame lawsuit vs don’t do anything’ civil war. It’s one of the GOP’s strange periodic civil wars where all sides pretty much share the same goal, but they’re not quite sure how to get there. And because this is the GOP we’re talking about, it just might dissolve into an intra-party civil war. A war over how much craziness the party needs to exude in order to adequately express its outrage over the government not being as mean as possible to disempowered immigrants. Because that’s how the GOP rolls:

    TPM Livewire
    House GOPer Dismisses Impeachment: ‘Have You Met Joe Biden?’ (VIDEO)
    By Dylan Scott Published November 15, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    One prominent House Republican had a ready-made one-liner when asked about the impeachment rumblings popping up among some of his colleagues as President Barack Obama prepares to take execution action on immigration.

    “Have you met Joe Biden?” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the man tasked with overseeing the special Benghazi committee, told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly on Thursday, “is my response to that. So, no. Nobody is discussing impeachment except for pundits and commentators.”

    “First of all, impeachment is a punishment. It’s not a remedy,” Gowdy said. “Second of all, the only people who want us to talk about impeachment are the president’s allies.”

    Gowdy did, however, reference “the appropriations process” as a possible response to Obama’s actions.

    As we can see, Trey Gowdy, a member of the “shutdown” clan, uses the “appropriations process” verbal sign to indicate his intra-GOP gang allegiance. It’s a powerful gang with powerful members:

    TPM Livewire
    Heritage Greases Shutdown Wheels: ‘No Blank Check For Amnesty’
    By Dylan Scott Published November 14, 2014, 1:53 PM EST

    Congressional Republican leaders seem hellbent on avoiding a government shutdown over President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration, but their right flank is agitating for a fight.

    Heritage Action put out a statement Friday urging the GOP to block or preempt the actions, expected to protect up to 5 million people from deportation, or else any long-term funding bill that Congress were to pass would simply be “a blank check for amnesty.”

    “The conversation in Washington today is disconnected from the message delivered by voters just ten days ago. President Obama’s amnesty policy was on the ballot and it was thoroughly rejected,” Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham said in the statement. “Unless Congress preempts or blocks the President’s promised executive action, a long-term funding bill is little more than a blank check for amnesty.”

    Rank-and-file Republicans are already pressuring their leadership to block any funding for Obama’s pledged actions as part of upcoming government spending bills.

    And keep in mind that the “government shutdown” gang doesn’t just include the Heritage Foundation. The Speaker of the House is also flashing “shutdown” gang signs, although it’s not the only sign he’s flashing:

    The Huffington Post
    John Boehner Keeps Immigration Showdown On The Table
    Posted: 11/13/2014 5:23 pm EST Updated: 11/13/2014 10:59 pm EST

    Elise Foley Become a fan elise@huffingtonpost.com

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) kept the threat of a government shutdown alive on Thursday when asked about President Barack Obama’s plans for executive action on immigration.

    The speaker was asked at a press conference whether he believes that a government funding bill should include language to block the president from making sweeping changes to immigration policy, which Obama may do as soon as next week.

    “We’re going to fight the president tooth and nail if he continues down this path. This is the wrong way to govern,” Boehner said. Later, he added, “All of the options are on the table. We’re having discussions with our members, and no decisions have been made as to how we will fight this if he proceeds.”

    Obama’s planned executive action could lead to millions of undocumented immigrants being allowed to stay and work legally on a provisional basis, something Republicans have decried as “amnesty” and called unconstitutional.

    Fifty-nine House Republican members have signed on to a letter from Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) urging the head of the Appropriations Committee to include language in funding bills to block Obama’s executive action on immigration.

    “As you know, the Congress has the power of the purse and should use it as a tool to prevent the President from implementing policies that are contrary to our laws and the desire of the American people,” the letter reads.

    Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) issued a statement on Thursday also calling for the House to use its “power of the purse” to block “Obama’s anticipated, unconstitutional act to be implemented, for if it is it will destroy the pillars of American Exceptionalism”

    “The audacity of this President to think he can completely destroy the Rule of Law with the stroke of a pen is unfathomable to me,” he said. “It is unconstitutional, it is cynical, and it violates the will of the American people. Our Republic will not stand if we tolerate a President who is set upon the complete destruction of the Rule of Law.”

    Boehner said in his press conference that their goal “is to stop the president from violating his own oath of office and violating the Constitution. It’s not to shut down the government.”

    He said House Republicans can find other ways, even beyond the government funding measures, to respond if Obama makes immigration changes without Congressional approval.

    A similar fight over immigration is brewing in the Senate, where Republican members have similarly promised to do anything they can to keep Obama’s executive action from being implemented.

    “If the president illegally tries to grant amnesty to millions of more people, I believe Congress should use every available tool to stop that amnesty and to defend the rule of law,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told The Huffington Post on Thursday.

    But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said at a Thursday press conference that Republicans “will not be shutting the government down or threatening to default on the national debt.”

    Yes, as John Boehner put it, “all options are on the table”:

    “We’re going to fight the president tooth and nail if he continues down this path. This is the wrong way to govern,” Boehner said. Later, he added, “All of the options are on the table. We’re having discussions with our members, and no decisions have been made as to how we will fight this if he proceeds.”

    Boehner said in his press conference that their goal “is to stop the president from violating his own oath of office and violating the Constitution. It’s not to shut down the government.”

    He said House Republicans can find other ways, even beyond the government funding measures, to respond if Obama makes immigration changes without Congressional approval.

    So the message from the GOP’s top official in the House is that:
    1. All options are on the table.
    2. House Republicans can find other ways, even beyond the government funding measure (shutdown threats).
    3. No decisions a have been made, and discussions are ongoing.

    Was John Boehner just cryptically flash an “impeachment” gang sign in the middle of his rant about all options being on the table? Keep in mind that Rep. Matt Salmon – the author of the declaration above “urging the head of the Appropriations Committee to include language in funding bills to block Obama’s executive action on immigration,” that received 59 signatures – and Rep. Steve King are both also throwing out “impeachment” gang signs too. So it might be tempting to think that Boehner is attempting to make it look like he’s a member of the “impeach and shutdown” gang too. But there’s another option. A much, much lamer option:

    The Rachel Maddow Show
    The Maddow Blog
    Boehner may expand anti-Obama lawsuit that doesn’t exist
    11/14/14 09:48 AM

    By Steve Benen

    In all likelihood, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) does not want to shut down the government. He’d probably also prefer to avoid a pointless presidential impeachment crusade.

    But the Republican leader also realizes many in his party want both a shutdown and impeachment, putting the Speaker in a position where he’ll need to find some alternative approach that rebukes the White House, satiates his rabid allies, but doesn’t actually do anything meaningful or potentially scandalous.

    Robert Costa and Ed O’Keefe report that Boehner has just such a solution in mind.

    House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is considering expanding a proposed federal lawsuit over President Obama’s executive orders to include action on immigration. Filing a separate lawsuit over the president’s authority to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation is another option that gained traction Thursday during talks among party leaders.

    The idea to use the courts as an initial means of dissent, should the president move forward in the coming weeks to protect millions from deportation, moved to the front of the House GOP’s playbook after the leadership reviewed it. Boehner reportedly wants to respond forcefully and quickly should the president act and believes a lawsuit would do that, as well as signal to conservatives in his conference that he shares their frustrations about the president’s use of executive power.

    And if the goal is to give the appearance of action without doing anything too meaningful, this might do the trick. Republicans are convinced executive actions on immigration policy are a flagrant violation of the Constitution – but only when Obama does it? Fine, go to the courts.

    The lawsuit would almost certainly fail, but that’s not really the point. By pursuing a legal recourse, Boehner gets to “stand up” to President Obama, he gives Republicans something specific to rally behind, and he throws cold water on the more ridiculous alternative tactics. All he has to do is add some complaints to his current anti-Obama lawsuit.

    Of course, that’d be easier if the anti-Obama lawsuit actually existed.

    Boehner first announced his plan to sue the president back in June. A month later, the Speaker’s office formally unveiled the legislation to authorize the litigation, a case intended to force the implementation of an obscure provision of the Affordable Care Act which Republicans don’t actually want to see implemented.

    A month after that, House Republicans agree to pay a D.C. law firm $500 an hour, in taxpayer money, to handle the case.

    And since then, bupkis. Republicans hired a law firm to oversee the litigation, but the firm changed its mind in September and dropped the case. GOP leaders then hired a second firm, only to learn a month later that it dropped the case, too.

    Now Boehner wants to add complaints to lawsuit, though at present, there is no lawsuit.

    Yes, while John Boehner might sort of sound like he’s on team “impeach and shutdown”, he’s also flashing the gang sign for “lame lawsuit that law firms keep quitting” which is the lamest possible gang sign he can flash at this point. It’s almost insulting to the base. And with Mitch McConnell hinting at no shutdown or impeachment, and John Bohner hinting that he’s planning on merely pretending he’s interested “all options on the table” but is really just interested in expanding his sad lawsuit, it’s looking like we can expect the GOP to enter the 2016 primary season with a base that is both whipped into an impeachment/shutdown frenzy and left deeply wanting. Don’t forget: the the first debate is set for September 2015. And that means the whole GOP 2016 Primary crazy train is going to leave the station during time that when the GOP base wants to derail government more than ever without any sort of viable venting from the GOP leadership.

    When John Boehner says ‘all options are on the table’ but ends up really only offering the lamest option possible while toying with the base’s anti-immigrant hopes and dreams right before the 2016 primary, we should probably expect that all options are indeed going to be on the table. But not the “showdown with the President” table. The 2016 GOP nomination table. The base will not be ignored.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 16, 2014, 7:05 am
  40. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn is warning that if President Obama issues an executive order on immigration people will suddenly think “Well, if the law doesn’t apply to the president … then why should it apply to me?” And then violence and anarchy will ensue:

    USA Today
    GOP senator warns of violence after immigration order
    Susan Page, 9:05 a.m. EST November 20, 2014

    WASHINGTON — Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn warns there could be not only a political firestorm but acts of civil disobedience and even violence in reaction to President Obama’s executive order on immigration Thursday.

    “The country’s going to go nuts, because they’re going to see it as a move outside the authority of the president, and it’s going to be a very serious situation,” Coburn said on Capital Download. “You’re going to see — hopefully not — but you could see instances of anarchy. … You could see violence.”

    Coburn, 66, is a conservative Republican but one who has a personal relationship with Obama. They entered the Senate in the same class, elected in 2004, and the new senators from opposite ends of the political spectrum and their spouses immediately hit it off at an orientation dinner. Last year, the president wrote a tribute in Time magazine to Coburn as “someone who speaks his mind (and) sticks to his principles.”

    “I really like the guy,” Coburn, 66, told USA TODAY’s weekly video newsmaker series Wednesday. “I thought he’s neat, and I think Michelle’s a neat lady.”

    That history gives Coburn’s stark assessment a special sting. On immigration, he accuses Obama of acting like “an autocratic leader that’s going to disregard what the Constitution says and make law anyway.” He says changes in immigration policy require passage by Congress, not just the president’s signature — a charge the White House disputes and on which legal experts disagree.

    “Instead of having the rule of law handling in our country today, now we’re starting to have the rule of rulers, and that’s the total antithesis of what this country was founded on,” Coburn says. “Here’s how people think: Well, if the law doesn’t apply to the president … then why should it apply to me?”

    Yes, when presidents issue the executive orders the rule of law collapses. It’s just what happens.

    So, as Josh Marshall asks below, just what will that violence and anarchy look like this time around since it’s not really clear who the aggrieved party is in this situation. Might we be in store for a return of Bundy Ranch-style standoffs with the federal government by GOP-friendly far right anti-immigrant militia groups that attempt to impose their own anti-immigrant policies? Maybe?

    TPM Editor’s Blog
    What Would That Look Like?

    By Josh Marshall Published November 20, 2014, 2:12 AM EST

    As you can see from the story we posted Wednesday evening, retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma is half warning, half threatening that the President’s impending immigration executive order could lead to “instances of anarchy [or] violence.” That suggestion speaks for itself on various levels. But in his conversation with USAToday’s Susan Page, in addition to suggestions of “anarchy” and “violence”, Coburn also spoke about acts of “civil disobedience.”

    And that made me think, I wonder what he has in mind? What would that look like?

    Civil disobedience can take a myriad of forms. But in most of the cases we know from history it is either the weapon of an oppressed group or focuses on oppressive or illegitimate government action. Whatever you think of what the President is doing, though, it’s difficult to see how either of those apply. In a very narrow sense, the whole game here is the President declining to act rather than acting.

    Now, declining to act can be as illegitimate as acting. I can think of numerous concrete examples that would illustrate the point. But in purely practical terms, it does challenge the idea of civil disobedience since there’s little in the way of government action to pivot against or protest. Again, it’s inaction.

    More substantively, who is the oppressed or injured group? Yes, you could manufacture some construct about how we’re all collectively oppressed by an attack on the rule of law. But that’s a bit strained – quite apart from the fairly broad agreement that the President has this power, whether or not it’s prudent to exercise it. The concrete idea seems to be that anti-immigration Americans – and let’s be honest, mainly white people – are oppressed in some way by having undocumented immigrants be able to walk around in the open and be able to work in the open.

    Not to be too jocular but I guess anti-immigrant activists could lay down on the sidewalk in the way of undocumented immigrants trying to walk to school and challenge the authorities to arrest them or lay down in the streets in the path of undocumented workers driving to work?

    Needless to say, the practical challenges of civil disobedience in this case simply dramatize the inherent silliness of any of this constituting any form of oppression. And while I could imagine violence over this, let’s be honest, it would almost certainly be racially motivated violence or your standard order anti-government ‘regain our liberties’ sort of activity that usually stays relatively close to the ground in ridiculous border militia type nonsense but occasionally flares up into something truly awful.

    During trying times like these, when threats of violence and anarchy are on the horizon, sometimes the only source of relief is just holding your loved ones closer and hoping everything works out. Although keep in mind that the ‘hug a loved one’ form of stress relief shouldn’t be used in some situations.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 20, 2014, 10:07 am
  41. Well, now that President Obama went ahead and, uh, ‘undermined the rule of law‘ with his executive actions over immigration, one of the next obvious question is when Latinos are going to engage in mass ethnic cleansing. Ok, that may not be an obvious question for everyone. But for individuals that, for instance, crafted Arizona’s notorious “papers, please” law targeting Latinos(and advised Mitt Romney), the question of when the Latino-led ethnic cleansing starts is an obvious question:

    TPM Livewire
    Kobach: Obama’s Lawlessness Could Lead To ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ In America

    By Ahiza Garcia PublishedNovember 20, 2014, 5:02 PM EST

    Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) on Sunday warned that President Obama’s executive actions and general “lawlessness” on immigration could lead to “ethnic cleansing.”

    Kobach, a vocal advocate of the anti-immigrant movement, claimed during his radio talk show that there was a strategy to replace American voters with Hispanic ones who favored socialism.

    “The long term strategy of, first of all, replacing American voters with illegal aliens, recently legalized, who then become U.S. citizens,” Kobach said. “There is still a decided bias in favor of bigger government not smaller government. So maybe this strategy of replacing American voters with newly legalized aliens, if you look at it through an ethnic lens, … you’ve got a locked in vote for socialism.”

    Koback also responded to a caller who was concerned about ethnic cleansing, which the caller claimed was a threat from immigrant and Hispanic rights groups.

    “What happens, if you know your history, when one culture or one race or one religion overwhelms another culture or race?” the caller asked. “When one race or culture overwhelms another culture, they run them out or they kill them.”

    Kobach then responded with his take.

    “What protects us in America from any kind of ethnic cleansing is the rule of law, of course,” Kobach said. “And the rule of law used to be unassailable, used to be taken for granted in America. And now, of course, we have a President who disregards the law when it suits his interests. And, so, you know, while I normally would answer that by saying, ‘Steve, of course we have the rule of law, that could never happen in America,’ I wonder what could happen. I still don’t think it’s going to happen in America, but I have to admit, that things are, things are strange and they’re happening.”

    In related ‘rule of law’ news…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 21, 2014, 3:24 pm
  42. Following the ambush-style assassination/suicide of two New York City police officer by a deranged man out to get revenge for the death of Eric Garner (after shooting his girlfriend), a profile of the shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, is starting to trickle in although it’s still going to be a while before we get a better sense of the influences that may have motivated the shooter beyond a base desire for revenge.

    So, it’s worth recalling that, unlike Jerad and Amanda Miller, the motives that drove the last ambush-style shootings of two police officers is still somewhat unclear:

    The Morning Call
    Computers, phones key in Eric Frein prosecution

    By Laurie Mason Schroeder Of The Morning Call

    November 21,2014, 2:49 PM

    Eric Frein may consider himself a frontier survivalist who can live off the land, but newly unsealed search warrants show that the case against him relies heavily on technology.

    The warrants, issued early in the manhunt and made public last week, show that police removed data from computers and memory cards found in Frein’s home, and also searched the phone of Justin Smith, an East Stroudsburg man who described himself to The Morning Call as Frein’s “only friend.”

    Police say Frein stayed at Smith’s apartment on Sept. 11, one day before he allegedly gunned down two state troopers at the Blooming Grove barracks in Pike County. Police say Frein cut his hair into a mohawk, as part of mental preparation for the shooting, in Smith’s bathroom.

    On the night of Sept. 12, police say, Frein sent Smith a text message: “All is good.”

    Smith has not been implicated in the killings or accused of helping Frein.

    The warrants don’t say what information was gleaned from the seized devices, which include two Apple iPhones, an iPad, two Lenova ThinkPads and several computer hard drives and memory cards. But a warrant request shows that investigators were looking for clues into Frein’s Internet activity and passwords.

    Previous court filings show that Frein searched the terms “can police track cell phones” and “how to escape a manhunt.” He also looked for a “ballistics trajectory calculator” and information on “caching food,” according to court records.

    Frein, 31, of Canadensis, is accused of killing State Police Corporal Bryon Dickson and seriously injuring trooper Alex Douglass in the ambush-style attack. He then led police on a 48-day manhunt, before being apprehended by U.S. marshals at an abandoned airplane hangar near the Birchwood Resort in Pocono Township, about 30 miles from the shooting scene.

    He’s charged with murder of a law enforcement officer, terrorism and numerous other crimes. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

    In a letter he allegedly wrote to his parents, Frein said that he committed the crime in an effort to spark a change in the government.

    “Tension is high at the moment and the time seems right for a spark to ignite a fire in the hearts of men,” he allegedly wrote.

    Frein is being held without bail in the Pike County prison. Frein’s public defenders, Michael Weinstein and Robert Bernathy, were not available for comment Friday.

    Note that Frein is probably a far right lunatic, but it’s still unclear what particular strain of far right lunacy he follows. It’s all a reminder that the influences that shaped Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s life and led him to become a cop-killing wannabe martyr are by no means unique. Tragically.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 20, 2014, 7:30 pm
  43. Oh great. The spirit of Cliven Bundy is haunting a gold mine in Oregon:

    TPM Muckraker
    Is This The Next Bundy Ranch? Militia Men And Oath Keepers Swarm To Oregon

    By Catherine Thompson
    Published April 17, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

    Oh what hell the Bundy Ranch hath wrought.

    A dispute between the Bureau of Land Management and gold miners in Southwestern Oregon drew immediate comparisons to the 2014 standoff at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch as word of the fresh conflict wound its way through the blogosphere this week.

    Many of the ingredients were the same: a disagreement over property rights, a remote locale and a band of armed activists committed to protecting the land owner’s rights under the Constitution.

    There’s one key difference, though. In interviews with TPM and local news outlets, the players involved in the mining dispute have been adamant about preventing the situation in Oregon from escalating the way the standoff in Bunkerville, Nevada did. Despite their best intentions, the allure of an armed conflict with federal agents has still proved irresistible to self-styled militia members who flocked to the area from across the country to stir up trouble.

    At issue is a disagreement over how to interpret records of the mines’ ownership, a spokesman for the BLM’s Medford district office told TPM in a phone interview.

    Jim Whittington said it boils down to there being two different types of rights to the land: mining rights and surface rights. He said the two men involved in the dispute own the mining rights to the land, but not the surface rights. The BLM’s records, Whittington said, show that the surface rights at the Sugar Pine Mine were ceded to the agency in 1961 by the party that owned the claim at that time. He said the BLM in March served the Sugar Pine Mine with two letters saying as much.

    Co-owners Rick Barclay and George Backes have argued, however, that they still possess the surface rights on the Sugar Pine Mine claim. Barclay said Thursday night on local television station KDRV that the BLM had served him with a “cease and desist letter” despite having showed him no proof that the agency retained the surface rights to his land.

    “It’d be like somebody coming to your house saying ‘This is mine now. You got 14 days to take your house out and 30 days to take down your fences and everything you own,'” Barclay told the news station. “The average person’s going to say well, where’s your proof? I want my day in court before they destroy or force me to remove any of my property from my mine.”

    Whittington said that the agency does not plan to take such drastic action.

    “We’re not at all disputing that there’s a valid mining claim there,” he told TPM, adding that the dispute over who owns surface rights on the Sugar Pine Mine claim could be hashed out through what it likely to be a lengthy administrative appeal process.

    Barclay, being suspicious of the federal agency, told KDRV that he’d enlisted the help of a local chapter of the Oath Keepers, a loose-knit national organization of current and former military and law enforcement officers who pledge to defend the Constitution against government overreach, to provide security on the property while he goes through the appeal process.

    A call for volunteer personnel on the Josephine County Oath Keepers’ website quickly made the rounds this week among self-styled militia members on Facebook and YouTube:

    Mary Emerick, a spokeswoman for the Josephine County Oath Keepers, has been fielding phone calls from interested volunteers from all over the country. At least one activist was turned away from the property because he had outstanding issues with law enforcement, Emerick told TPM in a phone interview.

    “I am aware that people are just literally getting in their cars,” she said. “However, we also know that some of those people are on sort of a list and are not going to be welcomed at the camp.”

    “We are very careful about who we let in to this staging area,” Emerick added. “This is not some kind of field festival or a standoff with the BLM. We are just helping to protect rights.”

    Emerick declined to reveal just how many activists were protecting the land, citing safety concerns. She did offer that there was round-the-clock security at the mine itself and that the activists were armed.

    As for the people comparing her group’s effort to the Bundy Ranch standoff, Emerick said that was “pure speculation.”

    Barclay, the Sugar Pine Mine co-owner, was so taken aback by the outsized response from activists that he told a local newspaper, The Mail Tribune, that the operation was becoming a "circus."

    “What you’re seeing is mostly a spectacle caused by social media and ‘keyboard commandos’ whooping it up,” he told the newspaper. “A lot of the stuff going around on social media is absolute bull—-.”

    Barclay also issued a plea through the newspaper for his supporters to “stop calling the BLM and threatening their personnel.”

    Whittington confirmed to TPM that agency employees have been receiving threats.

    “There have been some questionable phone calls,” he said. “Our position on threats to employees is that we take it very seriously and that we’re going to investigate those credible threats.”

    Whittington said that the BLM is aware of the situation at the Sugar Pine Mine. The agency instructed its employees not to enter that area and informed local law enforcement that it planned to stay away, he said.

    Emerick said that her group did not want to escalate the mine owners’ dispute with the BLM, either.

    “I think everybody’s pretty much in agreement that we’re not looking to start some kind of issue out there,” she told TPM. “We just would like to see the due process played out.”

    Ok, to summarize:
    1. There’s dispute between the BLM and the owners of the Sugar Pine Mine gold miners in Southwestern Oregon over whether or not their rights include only mining rights, or mining and surface rights.

    2. Co-owners Rick Barclay and George Backes argue the still possess surface rights and Barclay, being suspicious of the BLM, contacted the Oath Keepers to provide security at the mine while he goes through the appeal process with the BLM, telling local news that he did it because he was worried the BLM would remove or destroy their equipment before they could appear in court to appeal.

    3. The Oath Keepers call out for volunteers and a bunch of armed people show up.

    4. So many Oath Keepers show up that Barclay tells a local newspaper that the operation was becoming an “circus”.

    5. Oath Keepers start sending the BLM employees threatening phone calls.

    6. And, finally, Barclay and the Oath Keepers deny that there are any parallels with the Bundy Ranch standoff.

    Well, we haven’t hadn’t any lectures about “the Negro” yet, so that’s one point of divergence between the Bundy Ranch standoff and Sugar Pine Mine Circus.

    We also haven’t seen the flood of support for the miners from elected officials across the nation like we saw with the Bundy Ranch standoff (before they fled) so that’s also something different.

    Will these difference remain as the circus goes on? We’ll just have to wait and see. But keep in mind that one of the things the Oath Keepers call for is a return to the gold standard, so a showdown at a gold mine has got to be like crack for Oath Keepers which mean getting the circus to leave town might not be easy.

    And then there’s the other golden crackheads that are undoubtedly looking to take a hit

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 17, 2015, 2:47 pm
  44. Oh look, the Sugar Pine Mine “circus” is finally getting its ringleader. Or, at least, a couple of ringleader representatives:

    Oregon mine that summoned armed guards in land dispute files appeal
    PORTLAND, Ore. | By Shelby Sebens

    Thu Apr 23, 2015 7:48pm EDT

    (Reuters) – The owners of an Oregon gold mine who called in armed activists to protect their claim amid a bitter land use dispute with the U.S. government have appealed a federal stop-work order, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

    But tensions remained high at the Sugar Pine Mine outside of Medford ahead of a planned protest later on Thursday over what mine supporters see as federal overreach, even as the owners insist they want to avoid a high-profile standoff.

    “We appreciate and share the mining claimants’ interest in peacefully resolving the matter through the normal regulatory and administrative processes that are in place for such matter,” Bureau of Land Management spokesman Tom Gorey said in a statement, confirming the appeal had been received.

    A spokesman for the miners, Kerby Jackson, confirmed paperwork had been filed to keep officials from “burning or breaking anything” on the property, but gave no more details.

    Miners and supporters, some flocking from other states, would gather on Thursday at Oregon BLM offices, according to the conservative Oath Keepers activist network.

    Mine co-owner Rick Barclay summoned guards from the group following a stop-work order he received last month after officials said they found equipment on site indicating operations inconsistent with standard mine development requirements.

    The miners say they want to avoid a standoff like last year’s fight between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government in which the BLM sought to seize cattle because Bundy refused to pay grazing fees. Federal agents ultimately backed down.

    Officials closed BLM offices in Medford and nearby Grants Pass to the public on Thursday ahead of the protest. The BLM said it had also told employees to avoid the mine because of the armed activists.

    “The safety of our employees and the public continues to be our top priority,” Gorey said, urging demonstrators to remain peaceful.

    Oath Keepers spokeswoman Mary Emerick said more supporters were en route to fill jobs for a long-haul protest, from security to cooking. Cliven Bundy’s son, Ammon, said two family representatives had traveled to Oregon, and the family was monitoring the situation.

    Yep! The Bundy’s are coming to Oregon! Maybe they’ll help protect the paperwork that

    …had been filed to keep officials from “burning or breaking anything” on the property, but gave no more details.

    Of course, given that the mine owners told the media that the reason for calling in the Oath Keepers when all this started was to prevent BLM official from damaging their equipment at the mine, it doesn’t seem like protecting the appeals paperwork is what any of them have in mind.

    Maybe the Bundys will be able to give some advice on how to proceed now that there are representatives on the scene. Or maybe they already have:

    Mail Tribune

    Armed protesters gather at Medford BLM office over Sugar Pine Mine dispute
    Supporters of contested claim say agency is trampling miners’ rights

    By Thomas Moriarty

    Posted Apr. 23, 2015 at 3:16 PM
    Updated at 8:01 PM

    More than 100 protesters, some of them armed, descended Thursday afternoon on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Medford District office to protest the agency’s regulatory action against a gold mine in rural Josephine County.

    Supporters of the Sugar Pine Mine claim BLM officials lied when they said owners George Backes and Rick Barclay were required to file a plan of operations for what the agency described as previously unknown mining activity on the claim, located west of Merlin in the Galice Mining District. The agency told them they had to either file a plan or remove their equipment.

    “This sign sucks, and so does the BLM,” read one of dozens of signs displayed by protesters in the agency’s parking lot. Many of the protesters were members of the Oath Keepers movement, a national organization of people who claim to be former and current law enforcement and military personnel sworn to disobey “unconstitutional” orders by the federal government.

    Mary Emerick, spokesperson for the local Oath Keepers, said the group has had volunteers arrive from throughout the western United States since it began guarding the mine. “We had three people drive all night to get here from Montana,” she said.

    The BLM closed its Medford office because of the protests, citing safety concerns. A number of the protesters openly displayed holstered firearms.

    Armed volunteers from the Oath Keepers have maintained a constant presence around the Josephine County mine since last week following a request by the miners, who said they feared the BLM would destroy their cabin and equipment on their claim before they could appear in court to appeal the agency’s noncompliance order.

    “We decided to stand up for our rights, and I don’t think we did wrong with the crowd we have here,” Backes said, prompting cheers from the protesters.

    The miners contend they legally control all of the land and resources within the claim, which they said has been continuously mined since the 1800s, predating the Surface Resources Act of 1955, which made future claims apply only to mineral rights. The BLM says the land belongs to the federal government and that the miners have to file a plan of operations for any mining activities.

    “(The miners) have a particular interpretation of the Constitution that has not been recognized by any federal court,” said BLM spokesman Tom Gorey.

    Joseph Rice, identified as the Oath Keepers’ Josephine County coordinator, said local news media were complicit in spreading what he called “disinformation” by local BLM public affairs officer Jim Whittington.

    “What I’ve seen is an editorialized viewpoint,” he said. Rice said the Oath Keepers intend to keep guarding the mine until Backes and Barclay are able to appear in court.

    “I’m happy to go to court, if I can even get to court without them burning my stuff down,” Barclay said.

    Gorey said the agency doesn’t know where the miners’ fears of cabin burning originated.

    “There’s no threat to their cabin or equipment — there’s never been,” he said, adding that rumors on social media are contributing to what he described as a “non-positive dialogue.” “There’s just no truth to it. It’s a false narrative.”

    Gorey said there seems to be a strain of paranoia that the BLM is part of a vast government conspiracy against the miners.

    “It’s virtually impossible to refute,” he said, pointing to the difficulty inherent in disproving the existence of a conspiracy. “I think once someone summoned in the Oath Keepers, this took on a whole new dimension and then it was associated with (Cliven) Bundy and this whole issue of federal ownership of lands versus private ownership versus state ownership and does the federal government own this land, which we would contend, yes, belongs to all of the American people.”

    Comparisons to Bundy, a Nevada rancher whose 2014 dispute with the BLM over grazing rights drew armed supporters from throughout the country, have been numerous since the miners’ dispute became public, although supporters have rejected notions that they’re engaged in a similar standoff. (Reports that Bundy would appear at the Medford rally were apparently incorrect.)

    “The miners contend they legally control all of the land and resources within the claim, which they said has been continuously mined since the 1800s, predating the Surface Resources Act of 1955, which made future claims apply only to mineral rights…”

    Well that sure has a familiar ring to it….

    But keep in mind that there are still some significant differences between the Bundy Ranch freak out and the Sugar Pine mine circus: Cliven Bundy called in the Oath Keepers because he was sovereign citizen that’s simply opposed to Federal laws entirely. These mine owners, on the other hand, claim to have merely called in the Oath Keepers to protect their stuff while they await their day in court to appeal BLM’s order.

    It raises a rather intriguing question: Does calling in the Oath Keepers for a showdown with the government for arguably less dubious reasons than Cliven’s, but still quite dubious reasons overall, count as progress?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 23, 2015, 11:04 pm
  45. A man named Gavin Long has been identified as the shooter in the ambush-style killing of three Baton Rouge police and injuring of three others. Not surprisingly, Long appears to be associated with an anti-police movement known for violence. More surprisingly, since Long was an African American ex-marine, is that the anti-police movement he was part of is a sovereign citizen offshoot:

    Kansas City Star

    Kansas City man identified as suspect in killings of three Baton Rouge police officers

    * Multiple sources have identified the man as Gavin Eugene Long, 29, of Kansas City
    * Three other officers were injured in the attack
    * Man at address listed for Long shows gun when asking Star reporter to leave

    July 17, 2016 4:46 PM

    Online the shooter called himself Cosmo Setepenra, and more than a week before he killed three police officers Sunday in Baton Rouge, La., he told a YouTube audience he didn’t want to be associated with organized groups in case anything happened to him.

    “I’m affiliated with the spirit of justice: nothing else, nothing more, nothing less,” he said in the clip.

    Cosmo Setepenra’s real name was Gavin Eugene Long, and he was from Kansas City. As the nation took in yet another horrific murderous rampage, public records, social media and recollections from former classmates paint a picture of a puzzling personality:

    He was a military veteran without a criminal record. He had a robust online presence, where in “Convos with Cosmo” he doled out everything from health tips to advice to help men reach “complete and full masculinity.”

    He took up anti-government views, and while he said he didn’t want to be affiliated with any organized groups, he was a member of a bizarre offshoot of the sovereign citizen movement and had been associated with the Nation of Islam. He saw police as part of the government and was outraged by the recent spate of police shootings of black men.

    Followers of the sovereign citizen movement believe the government is corrupt and has no jurisdiction over them. Federal authorities consider the movement a domestic terrorist threat, and the movement continues to swell, with violent incidents erupting regularly.

    Long declared himself a sovereign in records filed with the Jackson County recorder of deeds last year.

    “No doubt at all,” said J.J. MacNab, an author who for two decades has been tracking anti-government extremists. “He’s 100 percent sovereign citizen.”

    MacNab said Long fell into the Moorish Sovereign category, more specifically the Washitaw Nation of Mu’urs.

    “This group believes that they are indigenous to the continent and therefore above all federal, state and local laws,” said MacNab, who also is a fellow at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security. “These documents show Long’s attempt to separate his flesh and blood ‘indigenous’ self from his legal entity self.”

    Long filed the document with the Jackson County recorder in May 2015, saying he was with the United Washitaw de Dugdahmoundyah Mu’ur Nation, Mid-West Washita Tribes.

    The document included a “live claim birth” record in which he changed his name to Cosmo Ausar Setepenra.

    A search of his online postings found that Long told a YouTube audience in a video posted July 10 — a few days after the Dallas sniper shooting — that he had traveled to Dallas and was in the city during the attack that killed five officers. He called the incident “justice.”

    He opined on how history shows that “100 percent of revolutions, of victims fighting their oppression, from victims fighting their bullies, 100 percent have been successful through fighting back, through bloodshed.”

    “Zero have been successful just over simply protesting,” Long told his audience in a calm tone. “It doesn’t. … It has never worked and it never will. You got to fight back.”

    A day after the Dallas attacks, Long said that “it’s time for the men to start sacrificing.”

    “With the brother killing the police, it’s justice,” he said. “My religion is the religion of justice. … I was a Christian once, I was a Muslim once, I was all that. But my religion is justice.”

    He informed his audiences that the “sacrifices I make and the sacrifices I will make” are dedicated to black women and youth. He referred to the movie “Deacons for Defense,” based on the true story about an armed self-defense group of African-Americans who protected civil rights organizations in the U.S. during the 1960s.

    “It’s a time for peace, but it’s a time for war,” he said. “And most of the times when you want peace, you gotta go to war.”

    He encouraged “real” and “alpha” individuals who wanted change to move away from protests in order to invoke change.

    “It’s only fighting back or money,” Long said. “That’s all they care about. Revenue and blood. Revenue and blood. Revenue and blood.”

    Kansas City connections

    It was unclear where Long was born or grew up, but he graduated from Grandview High School in 2005 and lived in the 4600 block of Craig Avenue in Grandview. Classmates remembered him as a big, quiet guy who was easy to get along with. He wouldn’t say a lot, but when he did, it was humorous, a friend who graduated with Long said.

    The classmates who spoke to The Star asked not to be identified.

    The friend remembered Long entered the U.S. Marines after high school and slimmed down. He was discharged after a few years for health reasons, and spent some time in the hospital after a physical injury.

    After getting out, Long went off the grid and traveled to Africa, where he spent some time.

    “While he was in Africa, he had talked about how he found Islam and he was writing a book,” the classmate said. “He had kind of — I wouldn’t call it gone off the rocker — but it was a little weird.”

    Long eventually started advocating that there was some type of government conspiracy, that government was out to get people and people needed to stand up for their rights.

    “He had gone full-on anti-government and anti-establishment,” a friend said. “He was definitely not a full-on radical, but he had a different take than a normal person.”

    A different classmate said Long had always been a person who defended those who were mistreated.

    “He was never about anything negative,” the friend said. “I would say he was man for justice but I would say he stood for what he stood for. He wasn’t scared or embarrassed to say what he believed in.”

    The classmate said he was shocked that Long was identified as the gunman.

    “I really can’t speak on what his motives were,” the classmate said. “I never would have thought of him doing anything that radical.”

    According to military records, Long joined the military right after high school, serving as a Marine from 2005 to 2010 and rising to the rank of sergeant. He served in Iraq from June 2008 to January 2009, and records show he received several medals, including one for good conduct. Long, who received an honorable discharge, was listed as a “data network specialist.”

    On his website, Long said he he spent two years in Japan and completed one tour in Iraq while serving in the Marines. When stationed in San Diego, he says, he “became a highly esteemed and sought after nutritionist and personal trainer.”

    After the Marines, he attended the University of Alabama for one semester, in the spring of 2012, according to university spokesman Chris Bryant. University police had no interaction with Long during that time, Bryant said.

    On his website, Long says he received an associate degree in general studies from Central Texas College, then attended Clark Atlanta University, where he was on the dean’s list.

    Records show that he married Aireyona Osha Hill on July 25, 2009, at the Pilgrim Chapel on Gillham Road. Two years later, he filed for divorce. Records suggest the couple did not have children.

    “A search of his online postings found that Long told a YouTube audience in a video posted July 10 — a few days after the Dallas sniper shooting — that he had traveled to Dallas and was in the city during the attack that killed five officers. He called the incident “justice.”

    Yikes, although note that he doesn’t claim in his Youtube video to actually have been there during the attack in Dallas. Still, you have to if any other black sovereign citizens were in Dallas during the shooting. Especially other members of the “Washitaw Nation of Mu’urs”, the particular sect of the Moorish sovereign citizens Long belonged to.

    You also have to wonder about how many other sovereign citizens in general of any race may have been in Dallas during the shooting or the anti-police protests in general. Because as Gavin Long’s demonstrates, the sovereign citizen-influenced kaleidoscope of anti-government ideologies create an ideological meeting point for groups that you wouldn’t normally assume are prone towards cooperation. After all, Cliven Bundy and the Bundy Brigade’s armed standoffs were very much inspired by sovereign citizen-esque philosophies, but Cliven Bundy isn’t the kind of fellow you would expect to have much in common with Gavin “Cosmo” Long.

    And yet, as the article below which discusses two Moorish sovereign citizens who were caught plotting police assassination last year points out, the Moorish sovereign citizen movement is among the fastest growing sovereign citizen strains in recent years. So it appears that at least some individuals with a black separatist mindset who you would expect to be turned off by the white-supremacist history of the sovereign citizen movement are still happy to borrow its anti-government ideas:

    Kansas City Star

    Sovereign citizens now consist of all colors and creeds

    By JUDY L. THOMAS
    August 29, 2015 5:01 PM

    The case made headlines last fall in the midst of the Ferguson unrest.

    Two men with ties to the New Black Panther Party were charged with acquiring weapons in what was later revealed to be a plot to kill two public officials and blow up a police station.

    The two pleaded guilty in June and will be sentenced Thursday in federal court in St. Louis. And in a lesser-known twist, one of the African-American defendants is an adherent of a movement that has its origins in racist and anti-Semitic beliefs.

    Olajuwon Ali Davis is a “Moorish national” — an offshoot of the sovereign citizen movement.

    Experts and authorities say the case illustrates the changing face of the movement, whose members believe the government is corrupt and out of control and has no jurisdiction over them.

    While today’s movement remains largely white and still has some followers with racist leanings, a surge in the number of nonwhite sovereign citizens is underway across the country. And the biggest growth, experts say, is within an African-American branch called Moorish sovereigns, which is disseminating its ideas to a whole new batch of recruits.

    “It’s a new world,” said J.J. MacNab, an author who for two decades has been tracking anti-government extremists. “And Missouri is like ground zero.”

    The common denominator between sovereign citizens and more left-wing black separatists, MacNab said, is the sense of being powerless and having no voice.

    “You have a group of right-wing people who feel voiceless,” said MacNab, who also is a fellow at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security. “You look at the angst in Ferguson and you hear a lot of the same things. They would not recognize it in each other, but they have a lot of the same complaints, which is that the world is changing and we don’t get a say in it.”

    Bob Harris, a former Federal Bureau of Prisons case manager who teaches law enforcement officers how to identify and handle domestic extremists, acknowledged the irony of a movement with white supremacist roots being joined by an African-American group. But today’s sovereigns, he said, aren’t like those of previous decades.

    “They are much more reflective of the demographics of society today,” he said. “You have white people, you have African-Americans, you have Asians, you have Native Americans. The sovereign citizen movement has really become a melting pot.”

    And Moorish nationals are increasingly occupying a bigger portion of the pot, experts say.

    “In the last several years, it’s exploded,” said Kory Flowers, a sergeant with the Greensboro, N.C., police department who trains officers and elected officials on sovereign citizen tactics.

    A Kansas City area sovereign citizen told The Star that he’s not at all surprised to hear about African-Americans taking up sovereign ideologies.

    “It just shows that more and more people are fed up with the government,” said Ken Auman, who has filed dozens of motions in lawsuits around the metro area, accusing city and county officials of corruption, harassment and violating his rights.

    Auman said he welcomes African-American sovereign citizens into the fold.

    The shift comes at a time when authorities say the loosely organized movement, which has been around in various forms for decades, is experiencing a surge in violence — a trend The Star explored in a series of stories in April.

    A Department of Homeland Security assessment issued earlier this year said there have been 24 violent incidents associated with sovereign citizens since 2010. And the FBI now considers sovereign citizen extremists “as comprising a domestic terrorist movement.”

    Moving inward

    Harris said much of the Moorish sovereign activity in the past six or seven years has been concentrated along the Eastern Seaboard. But now, he said, it’s spreading.

    “The Ferguson riots brought a lot of them out of the woodwork,” he said, “and a lot of them from other parts of the country are coming into Ferguson, Kansas City and the St. Louis area to recruit.”

    He said it’s hard to tell exactly how many Moorish sovereigns are scattered throughout the country.

    “I would say their numbers nationwide probably total in the few thousand,” he said. Estimates of traditional sovereign citizens run as high as 400,000. “But it is growing.”

    Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research for the Anti-Defamation League, said he sees plenty of signs of the Moorish sovereign expansion, in part because of social media.

    “All sorts of Moorish sovereign citizen videos on YouTube and links on Facebook have spread these ideas very quickly,” Pitcavage said. “It also explains why the movement has attracted a lot of younger people.”

    Another reason, he said, is that sovereign citizens who were sent to prison in the 1990s and early 2000s started teaching the tactics to other prisoners.

    “We’ve seen evidence of this in Chicago, Detroit and Baltimore, where even members of some street gangs have started adopting Moorish sovereign citizen stuff,” he said.

    Although most of their criminal activity has involved mortgage and property fraud, the proliferation is a concern, Harris said.

    “Right now, they’re more into the social upheaval movement rather than attacks on law enforcement,” he said. “But with their loose affiliation with the New Black Panther Party, who have called for the killing of police officers, that could change.”

    Moorish origins

    Moorish sovereigns take their name from the Moorish Science Temple of America, a religion founded in 1925 by Noble Drew Ali, said Spencer Dew, assistant professor of religious studies at Centenary College of Louisiana.

    “He started this religion to say, ‘Look, God doesn’t want us to be second-class citizens. God has a design for what the world should look like and what American democracy should look like, and we need a piece of that. We need full respect,’” Dew said.

    The Moors believe that African-Americans settled in what is now the United States long before anyone else, including Native Americans, Dew said. Some have used that tenet, and a 1787 treaty between the U.S. and Morocco, to push the sovereign ideology that they have indigenous rights and aren’t subject to U.S. law.

    Dew said, however, that the majority of Moorish Science Temple followers do not adhere to sovereign ideology.

    “I think it’s a shame that all some folks know about Moorish science is some guy selling false paperwork off the Internet,” he said. “That does an injustice to the deep history of an interesting religion and the Moors who are trying to worship God and be good citizens.”

    Pitcavage said because the Moorish Science Temple sect is not unified, decisions on what to do about sovereign ideology are almost on a temple-by-temple basis.

    “There are people in the Moorish Science Temple who try to warn followers to stay out of this, but some of the Moorish temples are almost taken over by Moorish sovereign citizens,” he said.

    The home office of the Moorish Science Temple of America has a statement on its website denouncing the Moorish sovereign citizen movement.

    “We assertively declare that the Moorish Science Temple of America Inc. is in no form or fashion a Sovereign Citizen Movement or a Tax Protestor Movement, consequently our teachings are diametrically opposed to that ideology,” it says.

    But Flowers, the Greensboro police sergeant, said authorities started seeing the Moorish sovereign movement “just explode” after the recession in 2008: “And we haven’t seen it slow down.”

    Indeed, he said, he came across a Moorish sovereign last year on a flight to Oklahoma City, where he was conducting a training session.

    “He gets on the plane wearing a fez and sits right behind me,” he said. “And he was going to Houston to scout out recently foreclosed houses to create false deeds on. What’s the chances of that?”

    The man, Flowers said, is now in prison.

    St. Louis case

    On Nov. 21, three days before the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney announced that a grand jury would not indict Darren Wilson, the then-Ferguson police officer who shot 18-year-old Michael Brown to death, authorities arrested Davis and Brandon Orlando Baldwin.

    The men were originally charged with illegally purchasing firearms and later with “conspiracy to damage or destroy by use of explosive a building, vehicle and other property,” which included plans to kill Ferguson’s police chief and the county prosecutor.

    Media reports at the time cited sources who said the defendants’ plans also included planting a bomb on the observation deck of the Gateway Arch, a detail not mentioned in the indictment. The men pleaded guilty in June and face seven years in prison.

    U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said in a statement after their guilty pleas that “the disruption of this plot, coming as it did on the eve of the expected grand jury announcement, undoubtedly saved lives. Luckily for all of us, we’ll never know just how many.”

    Davis, 23, has a Kansas City connection. At a hearing in June, he told the judge he had attended three years at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, majoring in economics.

    Davis was featured in a March 2012 “Tattoo of the Week” column in University News, the student newspaper. His tattoo, which covered most of his back, depicted a panther attacking an eagle.

    (A university spokesman said a student by that name attended UMKC from 2010 to 2012.)

    Davis explained his sovereign beliefs in a video posted on YouTube in November 2013.

    “I am Olajuwon Ali, native of North America and free Moorish national of Northwest Amexem,” he said on the video. “Do you find yourselves being oppressed? Are you tired of being taxed? Are you tired of being harassed and assaulted and threatened by police simply because you are black? There is a solution. And that solution is called nationality.”

    Davis said that in April 2013, he filed his “name correction and nationality” with the St. Louis County recorder of deeds.

    Because of that, he said, “I am no longer a slave to the matrix. Thus, I am no longer obligated to pay taxes. I am no longer obligated to follow certain policies and ordinances that may be enforced by the same police who are supposed to be here to protect and serve.”

    On the video, Davis displayed a photo of his ID card, something sovereign citizens often use in place of traditional identification. It listed his race as “human” and his nationality as “Moorish-American.”

    Pitcavage and others note that as the sovereign movement continues to grow, most followers today aren’t aware of its racist roots.

    “Even though the movement was started by white supremacists, what they focused on were anti-government ideas,” Pitcavage said. “So with each subsequent decade, white supremacists have become an ever smaller and less important part of the sovereign citizen movement.”

    And that, he said, has made it easier for African-Americans and others to become sovereign citizens.

    “Because it’s all about the government.”

    “Even though the movement was started by white supremacists, what they focused on were anti-government ideas…So with each subsequent decade, white supremacists have become an ever smaller and less important part of the sovereign citizen movement.”

    It may be incredibly ironic that the black separatist Moorish sovereign citizens retooled an ideology deeply rooted in white supremacist principles, but it is what it is. Ironic and now tragic after the Baton Rouge ambush. And almost tragic last year too if this previous plot by Moorish sovereigns described above hadn’t been thwarted. It will be interesting to see if Long had any contact with Olajuwon Ali Davis given the several years Davis spent in Kansas City that coincided with the years after Long left the military.

    So we have another deadly police ambush by another heavily-armed disturbed individual and there’s no shortage of heavily-armed disturbed individuals in America. While that doesn’t bode well during this period of elevated tensions between police and communities, on the plus side at least the Moorish sovereign movement is so weird and incoherent that it’s likely to have extremely limited appeal. Sure, it’s growing fast in recent years, but that’s in part because it was such a small movement to begin with. Of course, that also means that whoever does join is, at a minimum, a deeply confused individual, and movements concentrated with confused individuals can get scary. Still, given the challenges of preventing armed lunatics from wreaking havoc in heavily armed societies, at least the armed lunatics tend to seem like lunatics the more society gets to know them after they go on their killing sprees. Imagine how much worse it would be if people like Micah X. Johnson or Gavin “Cosmo” Long who are clearly promoting race war memes didn’t seem like unhinged lunatics intent on making a bad situation worse. The current bad situation really would be a lot worse if that was the case.

    It’s all a reminder that while it’s incredibly disheartening that these lunatics keep engaging in suicidal killing sprees with the clear intent of poisoning race relations in the US, it’s really quite fortunate that all of these individuals turn out to be obviously unhinged lunatics intent of poisoning race relations in the US. The underlying lunacy that leads to these murder sprees obviously don’t help, but the obviousness of the underlying lunacy sure does in the aftermath.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 18, 2016, 6:23 pm
  46. There was some horrible sovereign citizen-related news this week coming out of Colorado that’s so horrible it’s almost unbelievable: The Rocky Mountain Fur Con just got canceled! Possibly forever! Just when it seems like things can’t get worse in the world, it gets worse.

    How did the annual Denver, Colorado convention for ‘furries’ – people who dress up as animals for fun – implode all of a sudden? Well, that’s where the sovereign citizen angle comes in. Along with a neo-Nazi angle. And, yes, both of those angles are also furry angles. Far-right furry angles:

    The Daily Beast

    Neo-Nazis Are Tearing Apart the Furry World
    A putsch, death threats, sex offenders—just because people dress up like animals doesn’t mean their fights aren’t human.

    Kelly Weill
    04.13.17 8:00 PM ET

    The war began when a fascist party and its armband-clad leader led a putsch. Antifascists mobilized in response. Threats of violence ensued.

    Then the Rocky Mountain Fur Con canceled all future events.

    The Fur Con is an annual summit in Denver, Colorado, for “furries,” people who present themselves as animals, from donning full-body fur suits to adopting “fursonas” for their character. And just as in the rest of America, a lot of furries resemble Nazis lately.

    In Colorado, this splinter group calls itself the Furry Raiders. In 2016 the Raiders sent fur flying when they reserved a large block of Fur Con hotel rooms, sparking a fight that has lasted a year and led to death threats, allegations of tax evasion, intrigue around a suspected sovereign citizen, and the discovery a sex offender on the Fur Con board. On Monday, Fur Con leaders chickened out of the convention altogether.

    The Furry Raiders’ leader, a man named Foxler who dresses in a fox suit with a Nazi-like armband (no swastika, only a paw print), told The Daily Beast the convention’s cancellation all stems from a big misunderstanding.

    “You could say a whole bunch of unfortunate events led to the particular issue,” he said.

    Foxler claims he’s not trying to evoke Hitler, never mind his name (a combination of “Fox” and his supposed surname “Miller”), his Nazi-like armband (he says is based on a character in an old video game), or pictures of him throwing his arm up in a Nazi-like salute (an accident, he said).

    Foxler recently tweeted at white nationalist Richard Spencer, and posted about “aryan” dogs online, though he says his group has no political agenda.

    Fascist furries are nothing new, but until recently, “they were rare individuals who were more interested in uniform fetish than espousing Nazi ideology,” Deo, another furry told The Daily Beast.

    But the rise of the alt-right has ushered in the #AltFurry, a hashtag under which right-leaning furries can organize, and the uninitiated can encounter more cartoon rabbits in Nazi uniform than they possibly expected to see in their lifetimes.

    So-called alt-furries are also organizing offline in groups like the Furry Raiders, which Foxler leads. Although the Furry Raiders “do not have any political agenda or stance as a group,” the group says on its website, many wear the same armband as Foxler. Foxler says he’s never paid much attention to World War II history, and didn’t notice the similarities.

    But Foxler’s claims aren’t enough for many mainstream furries, who accuse him and the Furry Raiders of being far-right and using strong-arm tactics to manipulate Colorado’s furry scene.

    “They are an organization with a very confusing past and a very confusing history,” Zachary Brooks, chairman of the Fur Con told The Daily Beast. “The community had taken a lot of issue regarding some symbolism that the head of the Furry Raiders had chosen to utilize for his group. It was causing a lot of controversy.”

    Every year, Fur Con reserves a block of hotel rooms for convention-goers, who rent out individual rooms for the August convention. But in 2016, the Furry Raiders snatched up a large portion of the reserved rooms, in what other furries condemned as a power grab.

    “When I realized what hotel it was gonna be at, I went to the hotel the next day and signed up for a corporate account,” Foxler said, adding he booked at least 30 rooms. “I had like a spare 10 extra rooms.”

    Fur Con organizers and attendees were displeased.

    “Despite direct communications with them, the Denver-based group known as the Furry Raiders declined to drop their reservations at the Crowne Plaza,” Brooks wrote convention attendees in a statement last April. “We have exhausted all of the means that we have to officially try to get them to release the rooms, but we’re sorry to say that neither the convention nor the hotel currently have policies in place to prevent this behavior, though we strongly disapprove of it.”

    “It ended up being a significant portion of rooms that prevented our other attendees from coming in and enjoying the convention,” Brooks told The Daily Beast. “It was seen by many as a malicious act by them to try to control who could and couldn’t attend. So that’s what really began the controversy with them.”

    Outrage at the overbooking led other convention-goers to research the group holding the hotel rooms hostage, a former organizer named Newlyn said. And when furries started investigating the Furry Raiders, they said they uncovered ties between the group and leaders of the Fur Con.

    “I think that particular situation was a start to the overall cause-and-effect that followed,” Newlyn told The Daily Beast of the hotel room dispute. “Announcement of investigations led to people inside and outside the Convention doing their own research, leading to the outlash of public opinion regarding [the Fur Con], and the need for change in the community.”

    And in the ensuing months, the furry community did some soul-searching. While the #AltFurry hashtag grew in popularity at the tail end of 2016 and into 2017, a left-wing movement rose to meet them. The antifa furry movement coalesced around a rallying cry of “Nazi Furs Fuck Off,” and began organizing to block perceived Nazis from furry gatherings.

    In January 2017, the Furry Raiders’ hotel putsch was still on some anti-fascist furs’ minds when a group began discussing the Furry Raiders on Twitter.

    “My friend made a tweet and I responded with a joke saying ‘can’t wait to punch these nazis,’” Deo said.

    Deo said she had not planned on attending the Fur Con. She wrote the tweet days after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, during which a protester had punched Richard Spencer in the face, inspiring a viral video and a meme about punching Nazis.

    Then someone on Twitter told Deo she would enjoy watching Deo get shot at the convention.

    Deo reached out to Fur Con organizers to warn them of the gun threat. The Marriott hotel where the convention was scheduled to take place also learned of the threat. The hotel consulted with Denver Police who deemed the exchange a credible threat. The Marriott asked Fur Con organizers to provide a security force, which would have cost over $20,000, about a third of the convention’s operating budget, according to Brooks. But Deo said the convention organizers were slower to respond.

    “I emailed RMFC [Rocky Mountain Fur Con] security to warn them of the threat,” Deo said. “RMFC never responded to my email.”

    Instead, Deo received a strange letter in the mail late last month. Snail mail is a big deal for furries, many of whom choose not to reveal their real names, let alone their home addresses. And the notice—purportedly a cease and desist order—that found its way to Deo’s home was full of threatening pseudo-legal jargon. It was signed by Kendal Emery, the Fur Con founder who still sat on the convention’s board.

    Introducing himself as a member of the Fur Con board, Emery claimed to be “in possession of what appears as False statements issued by you and your other potentially damaging criminal activities causing substantial commercial injury damages against us and ours and possible other plaintiffs including but not limited to Furry Raiders… and many other yet to be discovered and named in a possible class action lawsuit as we continue to investigate these potential crimes.”

    Emery also blamed Deo for the gun threat she received, and accused her of incitement to riot and “criminal activities such as creating an entire meme… that we are something we are not which may rise to the level of felonious activities.”

    Finally, the letter banned Deo from Fur Con.

    At the bottom was Emery’s red fingerprint, a symbol sometimes used by members of the sovereign citizen movement, who believe themselves independent of the U.S. legal system. “My first thought was it was a fake letter, sent by someone trying to threaten me,” Deo said. “But I looked into it and the letter sent on behalf of RMFC by Kendal Emery was real. So I talked to a few lawyers, who explained how the letter was crazy bullshit. I hired one to write a response letter anyway, even if there was no need to reply to this sovereign citizen mess.”

    She also tweeted a copy of the letter. Furries were quick to point out its irregularities. The letter banned Deo from ever attended the Fur Con, a significant move from Emery, who had previously boasted of never banning conference attendees, according to Dogpatch Press, a furry news site. Furries began sifting through old stories of Emery’s past and speculating whether he was a sovereign citizen.

    In an interview with The Daily Beast, Emery denied being a sovereign citizen.

    “I am a citizen of the United States,” Emery said. The red fingerprint at the bottom of his self-issued legal letter, “just means it’s me that wrote it.”

    Brooks said Emery had written the letter, but that it had Fur Con’s blessing.

    “The letter was initiated by him,” Brooks told The Daily Beast. “The board was aware of it, but he made the final decision to send it.”

    Emery’s account was slightly different. “That was the opinion of the whole [Fur Con] board,” he said of the decision to ban Deo and send her the wild legal threat.

    The letter’s ambiguous origin led some furries to speculate that the Fur Con was over-friendly with the Furry Raiders, whom the letter named as possible plaintiffs in a class-action suit over Deo’s tweets.

    Deo offered up what she said is evidence of Emery’s association with the Furry Raiders, a video showing Emery and Foxler play-fighting at the 2016 convention. Emery told The Daily Beast that he and Foxler were friends, but said that friendship did “absolutely not” contribute to his decision to ban Deo.

    Alarmed by the letter, furries demanded greater accountability from the conference, demanding the Fur Con disavow fascists in their ranks.

    But when they dug into the convention and its leaders, they found other problems.

    Until recently, the Fur Con claimed to be run by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, but furry news site Flayrah found that the convention’s parent company had its nonprofit status revoked in 2011 by the IRS for “failure to file a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years.” (Brooks told The Daily Beast that, while they had lost their federal tax-exempt status, they were still registered as a state nonprofit in Colorado.)

    Then the furries learned Emery was a registered sex offender for his 1993 conviction for sexual contact with a minor. Emery’s past had been something of an open secret since 2008, when furry forums got wind of his criminal history and he stepped down as head of the convention in 2008.

    “They decided to drag up my past, which has nothing to do with this,” Emery told The Daily Beast, chalking the furries’ motivation up to “when you are losing an argument, you do your best to discredit your foe in any way you can.”

    On Monday, it was announced Fur Con was canceled—possibly for good.

    “Last month, we were faced with a sudden and drastic increase in security costs amounting to more than a third of our entire existing operating budget,” Brooks wrote in a statement. “This cost increase stemmed directly from the very public threats of violence against one another by members of this community, as well as the negative backlash from misinformation spread about the convention, its staff and attendees. Therefore, Rocky Mountain Fur Con 2017 is officially canceled. I will no longer continue to subject my staff and our community to the lies, hate, violence and slander that was disseminated by a small, vocal minority.”

    If the statement was vague about who it considered to be the “vocal minority” spreading “lies, hate, violence and slander,” Emery was not. He told The Daily Beast that Deo’s joke about punching a Nazi, and not the threat of a gun led police to declare Fur Con a security risk.

    “First of all, the person who [made the gun threat] wasn’t a Furry Raider, and second of all, if it was, all she said was it would be funny if somebody did bring a gun shot you,” Emery said, adding that, “I don’t think that would be funny, I think that would be tragic.”

    “All the stories about ‘oh, we closed because I’m a sex offender,’ ‘we closed because of tax evasion,’ no,” Emery said. “We closed because of the violence.”

    Former attendees said the closure came as a disappointment. “I’ve gone to this con in the past and sincerely enjoyed myself,” one person wrote on the Fur Con’s Facebook page after the cancellation. “I’m sorry to see it crash and burn due to utterly incompetent leadership.”

    “I am saddened by the shutdown,” Newlyn, the former volunteer, said. “It has affected a large number of people not only here in Colorado but around the world, some of whom could only attend RMFC each year due to real-life responsibilities. I have eight years of great memories from this Convention, and I’ll cherish them forever.”

    For now, the Colorado furry community’s alt-right and anti-fascists will have to hash out their differences outside the convention hall.

    “The main issue that led to the shutdown was the conflict between the Furry Raiders and the antifa furs,” Brooks said. “It was not what we wanted to do.”

    “So-called alt-furries are also organizing offline in groups like the Furry Raiders, which Foxler leads. Although the Furry Raiders “do not have any political agenda or stance as a group,” the group says on its website, many wear the same armband as Foxler. Foxler says he’s never paid much attention to World War II history, and didn’t notice the similarities.”

    He didn’t notice the similarities. Bwah! While “Foxler” might be a neo-Nazi in a neo-Nazi Fox’s outfit, he’s clearly a troll at heart. A troll Nazi at heart. And as we just saw, after Foxler’s apparently Fur Con power grab involving the overbooking of the convention hotel rooms and the subsequent twitter spat involving violent threats led to the Denver police’s demands for additional security for the convention, it was Foxler’s apparent sovereign citizen friend on the Fur Con committee who sent a letter to “Deo” – one of Foxler’s critics – banning her from the convention. And he signed the letter with a red fingerprint:


    Finally, the letter banned Deo from Fur Con.

    At the bottom was Emery’s red fingerprint, a symbol sometimes used by members of the sovereign citizen movement, who believe themselves independent of the U.S. legal system. “My first thought was it was a fake letter, sent by someone trying to threaten me,” Deo said. “But I looked into it and the letter sent on behalf of RMFC by Kendal Emery was real. So I talked to a few lawyers, who explained how the letter was crazy bullshit. I hired one to write a response letter anyway, even if there was no need to reply to this sovereign citizen mess.”

    The red fingerprint was just a coincidence and wasn’t a sovereign citizen call sign at all! Uh huh.

    So now Denver has lost of little bit of its furry goodness. Possibly forever. And yes, that really all happened. And will presumably happen to furries elsewhere now that Furrydom has become an Alt Right battleground.

    It’s all quite sad. And certainly doesn’t bode well for other furry-ish groups out there. At least the Bronies are still maintaining their wholesomeness. Mostly.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 13, 2017, 10:09 pm
  47. Donald Trump gave remarks to the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service ceremony today, focusing his comments on the dangers facing police. He also declared this week “Police Week” and ordered the White House to be lit in blue. In terms of reaching out to law enforcement it was pretty good optics.

    So with the entire week now Police Week, hopefully someone will have a chance to ask Trump this week about his decision (that filled groups like the KKK with glee) to order the Department of Homeland Security’s “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) program to focus exclusively on Islamist violence, to the exclusion of groups like the sovereign citizens and related militia movements. Because that decision probably wasn’t the best way to reduce violence against police:

    The Guardian

    They hate the US government, and they’re multiplying: the terrifying rise of ‘sovereign citizens’

    While US counter-terrorism efforts remain locked on Islamist extremism, the growing threat from homegrown, rightwing extremists is even more pressing

    J Oliver Conroy
    Monday 15 May 2017 06.00 EDT

    On 20 May 2010, a police officer pulled over a white Ohio minivan on Interstate 40, near West Memphis, Arkansas. Unbeknown to officer Bill Evans, the occupants of the car, Jerry Kane Jr, and his teenage son, Joseph Kane, were self-described “sovereign citizens”: members of a growing domestic extremist movement whose adherents reject the authority of federal, state and local law.

    Kane, who traveled the country giving instructional seminars on debt evasion, had been posing as a pastor. Religious literature was laid out conspicuously for anyone who might peer into the van, and, when Evans ran the van’s plates, they came back registered to the House of God’s Prayer, an Ohio church. Also in the van, though Evans did not know it, were weapons Kane had bought at a Nevada gun show days earlier.

    Kane had been in a series of run-ins with law enforcement. After the most recent incident, a month earlier, he had decided that the next time a law enforcement officer bothered him would be the last.

    Another officer patrolling nearby, Sgt Brandon Paudert, began to wonder why Evans was taking so long on a routine traffic stop. When he pulled up at the scene, he saw Evans and Kane speaking on the side of the highway. Evans handed him some puzzling paperwork that Kane had provided when asked for identification – vaguely official-looking documents filled with cryptic language. He examined the papers while Evans prepared to frisk Kane.

    Suddenly, Jerry Kane turned and tackled Evans, knocking him down into a ditch. The younger Kane vaulted from the passenger side of the minivan and opened fire with an AK-47. Evans, an experienced officer who also served on the Swat team, was fatally wounded before he even drew his weapon. Paudert was struck down moments later while returning fire.

    As the two officers bled out on the side of the highway, the Kanes jumped back in their van and sped off. A FedEx trucker who witnessed the shooting called 911.

    The Kanes’ ideological beliefs – which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) believes are shared by “well into the tens of thousands” of Americans – put them under the broad umbrella of the “Patriot” movement, a spectrum of groups who believe the US government has become a totalitarian and repressive force.

    Although the Trump administration is reportedly planning to restructure the Department of Homeland Security’s countering violent extremism (CVE) program to focus exclusively on radical Islam, a 2014 national survey of 175 law enforcement agencies ranked sovereign citizens, not Islamic terrorists, as the most pressing terrorist threat. The survey ranked Islamic terrorists a close second, with the following top three threats all domestic in origin and sometimes overlapping: the militia movement, racist skinheads, and the neo-Nazi movement.

    Though the federal CVE program already devotes almost the entirety of its resources to organizations combatting jihadism, the White House feels that the current name is “needlessly ‘politically correct’”, an anonymous government source told CNN.

    Paudert’s father – who also happened to be the West Memphis chief of police – was driving home with his wife when he heard chatter on the police scanner about an officer-down situation on the interstate.

    He headed to the scene, assuming a state trooper had been attacked. He then saw a figure in uniform sprawled at the bottom of the embankment. It was Bill Evans, his gun still locked in its holster.

    Paudert then saw another body lying on the asphalt behind the vehicles. One of his officers tried to block him from going further. “Please,” he pleaded, “don’t go around there.” Paudert shoved him aside. As he came around the corner he saw his son, Brandon. Part of his head had been blown off. His arm was outstretched and his pistol still clutched in his hand.

    Images of his son as a child, growing up, flooded through his mind. Then he saw his wife, who had been waiting in the car, coming toward him. He moved to stop her. “Is it Brandon?” she asked. “Yes, it is,” he said. “Is he OK?” she asked. “No,” he said, and she broke down.

    Paudert died at the scene. He had been shot 14 times, and Evans, who died at the hospital, had been hit 11 times, suggesting that Joseph Kane had shot them again after they were already on the ground, wounded.

    Both officers had been wearing ballistic vests, which the rifle rounds from 16-year-old Joseph Kane’s AK-47 punched through as if they were cloth.

    The Kanes’ minivan was spotted 90 minutes later in a Walmart parking lot. Officers from multiple law enforcement agencies closed in. A shootout erupted. The Kanes managed to wound two more law enforcement officers before they were killed.

    Cop killers and rightwing extremism: an overlap

    In 2009, Daryl Johnson, a career federal intelligence analyst, wrote a report predicting a resurgence of what he called “rightwing extremism”.

    Republicans were enraged by what they saw as politically motivated alarmism conflating nonviolent conservative and libertarian groups with terrorists, and especially angry at the report’s prediction that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans would be targets for recruitment by extremist groups.

    Johnson defended the report’s conclusions as the product of reasoned and nonpartisan analysis. An Eagle Scout and registered Republican raised in a conservative Mormon family, he says he was particularly perplexed by the accusation that he was guilty of an anti-conservative agenda. But the then secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, bowing to political pressure, disclaimed the report and ordered Johnson’s team dissolved. Johnson left government and started a private consultancy.

    The eight years since seem to have borne out Johnson’s prediction. The year he left government, 2010, there was a suicide plane attack on the IRS building in Austin; then came a series of other incidents including the 2012 shooting of the Sikh temple in Wisconsin and the 2015 shooting of the Emanuel AME black church in Charleston.

    According to data from the Anti-Defamation League, at least 45 police officers have been killed by domestic extremists since 2001. Of these, 10 were killed by leftwing extremists, 34 by rightwing extremists, and one by homegrown Islamist extremists.

    In 2009, a man with white supremacist and anti-government views shot five police officers in Pittsburgh, three fatally.

    In 2012, self-described sovereign citizens shot four sheriff’s deputies, two fatally, in St John the Baptist, a Louisiana parish.

    In 2014, two Las Vegas police officers eating lunch were killed by a husband-and-wife pair inspired by the Patriot movement; the couple were killed by police before following through on their plan to take over a courthouse to execute public officials.

    The same year, survivalist Eric Frein ambushed a Pennsylvania state police barracks, assassinating one state trooper and wounding another, then led law enforcement on a 48-day manhunt.

    In 2016, a marine veteran-turned-sovereign citizen killed three law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge and wounded three others.

    Johnson and other terrorism experts worry that a generation of people who came of age in the shadow of 9/11 may not understand that historically, most terror attacks in the US have been domestic in origin.

    In fact, a 2016 report by the US Government Accountability Office noted that “of the 85 violent extremist incidents that resulted in death since September 12, 2001, far-rightwing violent extremist groups were responsible for 62 (73%) while radical Islamist violent extremists were responsible for 23 (27%).” (The report counts the 15 Beltway sniper shootings in 2002 as radical Islamist attacks, though the perpetrators’ motives are debated.)

    Johnson said: “There are a lot of people – millennials – who have no idea of Oklahoma City and what happened there in 1995.”

    The Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people, including 19 children, was widely assumed to be related to Middle Eastern terrorism, but the perpetrator turned out to be someone quintessentially middle American: a white Gulf war veteran, Timothy McVeigh, who used his military knowledge to build a huge truck bomb out of commercial fertilizer. He and his collaborator Terry Nichols – who described himself as a sovereign citizen – saw the attack as the opening gambit in an armed revolt against a dictatorial and globalist federal government.

    More specifically, the bombing was conceived as payback for two federal law enforcement operations that had become cultural flashpoints for the American far right: the incidents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992, where a fundamentalist, Vicki Weaver, was killed by an FBI sniper’s bullet while holding her baby, and at Waco, Texas, in 1993, where federal agents negotiated a 51-day standoff with the Branch Davidian cult that only ended when most of the Davidians died in a horrific fire.

    An explosion in activity by far-right militias since the 1980s

    Partly as a consequence of the 1980s farm crisis, which left American farmers with crippling levels of debt, the 1990s saw an explosion in activity by far-right militias and fringe political and religious groups.

    Gary Noesner, a retired FBI agent who served as the chief hostage negotiator during Ruby Ridge and Waco, as well as an 81-day standoff with the sovereign citizen-influenced Montana Freemen in 1996 and the response to a barricade and kidnapping incident by the Republic of Texas militia group in 1997, sees numerous parallels between the political climate then and now.

    “Many of [the people attracted to such movements] are guys my age, middle-aged white guys. They’re seeing profound change and seeing that they have been left behind by the economic success of others and they want to return to a never-existent idyllic age when everyone was happy and everyone was white and everyone was self-sufficient.”

    Thanks to the standoff between the Bundy family and the federal government, as well as the headline-grabbing 2016 occupation of the Malheur wildlife preserve in Oregon, the previously dormant militia movement has recently exploded in popularity.

    Militia members are not necessarily sovereign citizens, but their beliefs are intertwined. Today’s sovereign citizen movement can be traced in part to two popular Patriot ideologies: the Posse Comitatus movement, built around the theory that elected county sheriffs are the highest legitimate law officers, and the Freemen-on-the-Land movement, a fringe ideology whose adherents believe themselves subject only to their own convoluted, conspiratorial, and selective interpretation of common law.

    There was significant overlap between the Patriot movement and white nationalism. One of the movement’s foundational texts was The Turner Diaries, a 1978 novel by the white supremacist William Luther Pierce that describes a near future in which a small group of patriots fighting the extinction of the white race work to bring about a race war and the eventual genocide of non-white peoples.

    McVeigh, who considered the book a blueprint for the coming revolution, was carrying an excerpt when he was arrested, although he later said he did not agree with the book’s racial content.

    At the time, the Oklahoma City bombing actually appeared to spell the end of the militia movement: it led to a law enforcement crackdown and an evaporation of public sympathy for the radical right. McVeigh, unrepentant to the end, was executed in 2001, three months to the day before 9/11 made domestic terrorism seem like a distant memory.

    The rise of sovereign citizens is linked to home foreclosures

    Today, the face of domestic terror looks different from in McVeigh’s day – sometimes literally. Some extremists – such as Jerry Kane, who was an unemployed truck driver – still fit roughly into the American popular image: blue-collar white men hiding in the woods and training for doomsday. But many do not. Not all, for example, are people on the economic margins. In 2012, Christopher Lacy, a software engineer with sovereign beliefs who had started a new job only a week earlier, shot a California state trooper in the head during a routine traffic stop.

    Furthermore, not all sovereign citizens are white: Gavin Long, a black sovereign citizen, killed three law enforcement officers in Louisiana last year. An increasing number of black Americans are coming to the sovereign movement from the Moorish Science Temple, a black Muslim church that believes African Americans are the descendants of ancient Moors.

    Experts believe white nationalism has waned in influence on some elements of the radical right, opening the movement to anyone enthusiastically anti-government and anti-law enforcement.

    “This is no longer a white supremacist movement,” said JJ MacNab, an expert on sovereign citizens and militias and the author of the forthcoming book The Seditionists: Inside the Explosive World of Anti-Government Extremism in America.

    “There is still racism and bigotry,” she said. “Some of this is situational. If there are two members of your 12-person militia who are black, who are conservatives, military veterans, whatever – they are your brothers. You would kill for them and you would die for them. But two black guys in Ferguson, on the other side of the political spectrum – if there is a hierarchy of hatred, they are as low as you can get, lower than animals.”

    A generational change is taking place as the anti-government movement attracts younger people. Many come from a cluster of amorphous internet communities, MacNab noted, including far-right trolls, the hacking collective Anonymous, and Copwatch, whose supporters upload critical videos of police on YouTube.

    Younger and older sovereigns get an overwhelming share of their news from Infowars, the media channel of the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and RT, the propaganda network known for pushing negative stories about the American government.

    Repeating the cycle

    To the knowledge of Daryl Johnson, the former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intelligence analyst, there are no longer any DHS analysts monitoring domestic terrorism full time. (When asked about it, a DHS representative said: “This is a question for the FBI.”)

    “The FBI is the only US government agency that still has full-time analysts assessing threats from the far right,” Johnson said, “and their analytical cadre could be measured in the dozens.”

    The FBI declined to comment. An FBI press officer noted that holding extremist opinions was not a crime, and the FBI only investigated people suspected of breaking federal law.

    In the meantime, renaming CVE to focus only on radical Islam will merely further “alienate Muslims – justify their fears, and reinforce them as well”, Johnson said.

    Among some of the anti-government groups MacNab tracks, Trump has enjoyed something of a honeymoon since the election, she said. But she believes that it won’t last: when they realize Trump is not the panacea they thought he was, they will feel used, and turn against him.

    Extremist sentiment follows certain historical patterns, according to MacNab; the last cycle moved through a series of specific manifestations – tax resistance, sovereign ideology, the militia era – before ending with Oklahoma City.

    “We are now repeating that cycle,” MacNab said, and getting near the end.

    “To the knowledge of Daryl Johnson, the former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intelligence analyst, there are no longer any DHS analysts monitoring domestic terrorism full time. (When asked about it, a DHS representative said: “This is a question for the FBI.”)”

    Does the DHS have anyone dedicated to monitoring domestic far-right movements like the sovereign citizens? Apparently not and there’s no sign of that changing:


    Although the Trump administration is reportedly planning to restructure the Department of Homeland Security’s countering violent extremism (CVE) program to focus exclusively on radical Islam, a 2014 national survey of 175 law enforcement agencies ranked sovereign citizens, not Islamic terrorists, as the most pressing terrorist threat. The survey ranked Islamic terrorists a close second, with the following top three threats all domestic in origin and sometimes overlapping: the militia movement, racist skinheads, and the neo-Nazi movement.

    Though the federal CVE program already devotes almost the entirety of its resources to organizations combatting jihadism, the White House feels that the current name is “needlessly ‘politically correct’”, an anonymous government source told CNN.

    Though the federal CVE program already devotes almost the entirety of its resources to organizations combatting jihadism, the White House feels that the current name is “needlessly ‘politically correct’”, an anonymous government source told CNN.”

    Yes, not only was the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program directed to exclusively focus on Islamists and ignore the biggest threat to cops – far-right movements like the sovereign citizens – but apparently the name “Countering Violent Extremism” was too politically correct because it isn’t also solely focused on Islamists. All in all, there appears to be some sort of political correctness intended to protect the feelings of non-Islamist far-right nut jobs who harbor fond feelings towards militia groups and sovereign citizens and also the feelings of the actual militia and sovereign citizen members.

    So while turning the White House blue is a nice touch, it’s important to keep in mind this week that there are much better ways to truly celebrate Police Week. Like, for instance, ending the political correctness that is leading to the systematic deprioritization by law enforcement of the very groups operating within the US that pose the greatest danger towards police. Addressing that would be quite a celebration of Police Week.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 15, 2017, 6:27 pm

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