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Extremism in the Defense of Stupidity Is a Vice, Part 2: Razing Arizona

Politicians putting their foot in the mouth is nothing new. But, interestingly, one of Arizona’s top lawmakers, House Speaker Andy Biggs, recently found himself in hot water after speaking at an event not for what he said. It’s what he didn’t say. Yes, a number of of eyebrows were raised when Andy Biggs spoke an event where Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, called for the trial and subsequent hanging of US Senator John McCain. And Biggs said nothing.

That Biggs’s lack of a response sparked controversy is not surprising. But what Biggs did say is arguably just as controversial since he was basically advocating a ‘Sovereign Citizen’/Oath Keeper/Bundy ranch-style showdown with the federal government at a statewide level. And, as we’ll see below, a majority of the Arizona GOP appears to agree with him. Now THAT’s controversial. Or at least it should be!

So let’s take a walk down memory lane and look at Arizona’s recent foray into ‘Sovereignty’.

But first, check out the, uh, bold leadership from the president of the Arizona Senate:

12 News
Top AZ lawmaker doesn’t object to ‘Hang McCain’

Brahm Resnik, 12 News 7:58 p.m. MST May 12, 2015

Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs remained silent as a speaker at an event last week said fellow Republican Sen. John McCain should be hanged for treason.

“John Cain is a traitor to the Constitution,” said Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers, as he tripped on McCain’s name.

“He should be tried for treason before a jury of his peers,” Rhodes told a gathering of conservatives May 5 at the Thirsty Lion Pub in Tempe. “After we convict him, he should be hung by the neck until dead.”

When 12 News contacted Rhodes Tuesday to see if he stood by his comments, he said: “I think John McCain is every bit as nuts as Adolf Hitler was.”

Biggs, Rhodes and former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack, who has announced plans for a "constitutional takeover" of Navajo County, were discussing the futility of calling a constitutional convention.

All three view themselves as constitutional conservatives fighting back against Washington.

“States need to take back their sovereignty,” Biggs said. “That’s the way we solve the problem.”

Biggs is seen smiling as Mack argues for passing “a law in Arizona to nullify the federal income tax.”

“That’s pretty shocking,” said Chris Herstam, a former state legislator and longtime Capitol insider. “To have the Senate president sitting there and not disagreeing causes pause.”

“People you associate with and the events you attend determine your political persona,” Herstam said.

Biggs isn’t just any politician, Herstam said. “Andy Biggs is the most powerful state legislator that we have.”

As Senate president this year, Biggs had enough clout to squeeze out $130 million more in cuts — including an additional $25 million in higher education cuts — from Gov. Doug Ducey’s budget proposal.

“He and Gov. Ducey crafted the budget deal that passed in March,” Herstam said.

Biggs, a Gilbert Republican, has long been aligned with such East Valley conservatives as former Senate President Russell Pearce, who was ousted from office in a 2011 recall vote. They view McCain as a sell-out on the key issues of illegal immigration.

In the past, Biggs wanted to blow up the state Medicaid program, which provides health care coverage for needy Arizonans. Biggs hasn’t had to work since winning a $10 million sweepstakes prize in the mid-’90s.

That’s right, Andy Biggs, the president of the Arizona Senate and most powerful legislator in the state, decided to give a talk about how “States need to take back their sovereignty…That’s the way we solve the problem.” And this was at a rally where Richard Mack – the former sheriff of Graham County Sheriff, an Oath Keeper board member, and major Cliven Bundy booster – advocated a “Constitutional Takeover” of Navajo county and Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Sovereign-Citizen-esque Oath Keepers, called for US Senator John McCain to tried and hung. Classy.

So, putting aside for a moment the disturbing reality that Rhodes called for McCain to be hung and Andy Biggs apparently just sat there saying nothing, you have to wonder what exactly does Andy Biggs see as the “problem” that necessitates that states “take back their sovereignty”.

Well, given that Biggs was apparently smiling when Richard Mack, the former sheriff of Graham County Sheriff and current Oath Keeper/Cliven Bundy booster, advocated that for “a law in Arizona to nullify the federal income tax,” it would appear that “the problem” Andy Biggs see is federalism. Or, more precisely, the current balance of power between the federal and state governments.

Well, ok, people can disagree about such matters, but note that Biggs is a strong advocate against the use of constitutional conventions for resolving these kinds of deep differences in how the United States should manage itself, an area that he apparently is in agreement with both Mack and Rhodes. In fact, Andy Biggs actually killed an attempt by ALEC to get Arizona’s legislature to call for a “con-con” just last year:

Blog for Arizona
ALEC’s stealth constitutional convention derailed by Senate President Andy Biggs
Posted on April 27, 2014 by AZ BlueMeanie

Earlier this year I posted about ALEC’s stealth constitutional convention, purportedly to propose a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution that if it were ever actually adopted would wreak economic havoc on the U.S. economy. A Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment Threatens Great Economic Damage (2011); Proposed Balanced Budget Amendment is Extreme by International Standards (2013); and Ramesh Ponnuru, A Balanced Budget Amendment: Still a Terrible Idea – Bloomberg.

So naturally the Tea-Publicans in the Arizona House were all for it — hell yeah! Arizona House Tea-Publicans approved HCR 2017 (.pdf), an Application for an Article V Convention to propose amendments to the United States Constitution. Then they did it again in a strike everything amendment to Cap’n Al Melvin’s bill, SCR 1016 (.pdf). House Tea-Publicans also approved the ALEC model legislation for the “limitation” provisions supposedly to prevent a runaway convention, HB 2104 (.pdf), and HB 2397 (.pdf).

Only Tea-Publicans voted in favor of this ALEC model legislation, including the “mythical moderate Republican” Ethan Orr (R-Tucson).

All of these ALEC model bills died in the Arizona Senate where Senate President Andy Biggs, who is no fan of Article V conventions, made certain that these bills never came up for a final vote. I guess we owe him a debt of gratitude for a rare moment of sanity.

And thank you, Andy Biggs — just this once.

Yep, Andy Biggs actually killed a Tea Party/ALEC fueled attempt to make Arizona one of the state’s calling for a “con-con”. And, for that, perhaps we should thank him. A Constitutional Convention, especially one that ALEC is calling for, really could destroy the country. But in terms of fundamentally rebalancing the relationship between the states and federal government amending the US Constitution is the only game in town that doesn’t involve a series of Supreme Court decisions that reinterpret the existing Constitution.

That’s how it’s done. A constitutional convention isn’t the only way to amend the constitution (one amendment at a time is how it’s always been done) and easily the most dangerous way to do so since it could go haywire. But ther means of fundamentally and radically rebalancing the balance of power between state and federal government like just asserting that your state disagrees with the current prevailing interpretation of the Constitution are unconstitutional. And, by the way, 34 state legislatures have already passed bills calling for a constitutional conventional. 36 are needed to make it happen. The far-right really wants this to happen. We should actually be thankful for Andy Biggs on that one.

But as we saw above, Andy Biggs talks about how “States need to take back their sovereignty…That’s the way we solve the problem,” but is also vehemently apposed to a constitutional convention. So just how does he proposes states take back their sovereignty.

Well, the “Constitutional Takeover” of Navajo county Richard Mack called for sure would be an example of a state (or county in this case) simply ‘taking back their sovereignty’ by electing people at the local level that will ‘nullify’ all laws, local and federal, that they deem unconstitutional. And while that may seem like a zany far right scheme, it also sounds a lot like what Andy Biggs was alluding to for the entire state of Arizona. Sounds unbelievable? Well, as we’ll see below, that’s exactly what the Arizona’s GOP legislators have been trying to do over and over in recent years.

I Thought They Were the Promise Keepers. *fingers crossed*
So, getting back to the calls for John McCain’s hanging, did Andy Biggs he have an explanation for why he didn’t say anything? Or how about why he was even at an Oath Keepers rally in the first place?

Well, as he puts it in the article below, he did have an explanation for not saying anything: The president of the Arizona Senate didn’t feel it was his place to speak ups. It’s an odd response considering that disagreeing with someone doesn’t exactly constitute a violation of their free speech rights, but that’s his explanation.

As for why he was there in the first place, he apparently had no idea who the Oath Keepers are. Also, he thought they were the Promise Keepers. Uh huh…suuure Andy:

The Arizona Republic
Pro-Constitution group founder: Hang McCain ‘until dead’
Dan Nowicki, The Republic | azcentral.com 11:14 a.m. MST May 15, 2015

At a Tempe event, the founder of the Oath Keepers organization called Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a traitor to the Constitution who should be tried, convicted and executed by hanging.

The founder of the pro-Constitution organization Oath Keepers last week said U.S. Sen. John McCain should be tried for treason, convicted and “hung by the neck until dead.”

Stewart Rhodes was recorded making the remarks about McCain, R-Ariz., in a video released by the liberal People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch project. Rhodes was speaking at the Arizona Liberty Caucus’ May 5 “Liberty On Tap” event at the Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill at Tempe Marketplace.

Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, was the featured speaker at the event, invited to discuss the “dangers of an Article V Constitutional Convention.” Former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack, a Second Amendment activist, also spoke.

In the video, Rhodes calls McCain a traitor to the Constitution.

“He would deny you the right for trial to jury, but we will give him a trial for jury, and then after we convict him, he should be hung by the neck until dead,” Rhodes said.

Brian Rogers, a McCain spokesman, said McCain had no comment.

Biggs told The Republic he was the first speaker on the program and spoke for 30 minutes to 35 minutes. A panel was invited to talk about the need for a constitutional convention and Biggs was invited because he has written a book outlining his objections to such a convention.

He said he didn’t know who or what the Oath Keepers are, initially confusing them with “Promise Keepers,” a ministry for men. He added that he did not know Rhodes, and thought he was being invited by “an Arizona liberty group.”

Biggs said he doesn’t agree with Rhodes’ comments, but said he didn’t feel it was his place to speak up and denounce him.

“Good grief! Stop it with your free-speech rights,” he said, imagining what he could have said to Rhodes.

He said he wasn’t sure when Rhodes made his inflammatory comments but, “Your ears perk up when someone says something like that.”

Huh, so Andy Biggs apparently has no idea who or what the Oath Keepers are, confusing them with the Promise Keepers and thinking he had just been invited to speak by “an Arizona liberty group”. And, to be fair, it’s certainly possible that he had no idea that an event hosted by “Arizona Liberty Caucus” was also going to feature Oath Keeper big wigs like Rich Mack and Stewart Rhodes. But the idea that Biggs has no idea what who or what the Oath Keepers are?!?! Now that is just beyond absurd.

Keep in mind that this isn’t just an issue of whether or not a politician is fudging the truth. It’s an issue of a powerful politician playing dumb in order to hide the profound influence far-right extremist groups like the Oath Keepers are wielding in his state government under his watch. That’s why Andy Biggs’s little white lie about not knowing who the Oath Keepers are is such a big deal.

Let’s take a fun walk down memory lane…to the Bundy ranch
Part of makes Biggs’s denials of so amusingly implausible is the fact that Arizona’s legislature sent a delegation to Cliven Bundy’s ranch where the Oath Keepers were leading a stand off with the government. And, at the time of that delegation, the far right blogosphere was in a tizzy with glee over how Andy Biggs apparently felt that Arizona should be involved in supporting CSPOA and Oath Keepers in going to Bunkerville, Nevada:

The Common Sense Show
Sheriff Mack, CSPOA, Oathkeepers, State Legislators & America Stands with Cliven Bundy

Dave Hodges

April 11, 2014

I recently received an email from Sheriff Richard Mack updating me on the recent happenings with regard to the Bundy case and Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) have traveled to Nevada to stand with the Bundy family. Additionally, the Oathkeepers have done the same. An estimated 5,000 militia types from Western states have also made their way to the Bundy property as well.

Sheriff Mack and CSPOA are responding to the storm brewing between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the BLM. They have responded by stating that the all-too-frequent bullying of individual citizens by various militarized Federal agencies have usurped the Constitution and they have vowed that the forces of tyranny can be stopped. In fact, as CSPOA claims, it’s an epidemic that “must be stopped”.

I have learned that Sheriff Mack is leaving early Saturday morning for an emergency trip to Bunkerville, Nevada, along with other members of the CSPOA posse to stand with the Bundy’s and find a peaceful resolution to this conflict (i.e., the feds going home). The name is “Bunkerville”, is both ironic and appropriately named, don’t you think?

The Arizona Legislature Stands With Bundy

In a case of “I would never have believed this in a million years”, the Arizona State Senate President Andy Biggs and the Arizona House of Representatives Speaker Dave Livingston are both in agreement that Arizona should be involved in supporting CSPOA and Oath Keepers in going to Bunkerville, Nevada. These two leaders of the Arizona Legislature have vowed to support the Cliven Bundy family. This stunning development cannot be overstated, and yet, there is more. Additionally, State Senators Al Melvin, Chester Crandall, and Kelly Ward along with State Representatives Brenda Barton, Bob Thorpe, Kelly Townsend and Warren Peterson are all planning to be at the Bundy ranch by Sunday morning. All of these local government officials are planning to attend the Press Conference Monday afternoon with the CSPOA and Oath Keepers along with the Bundy’s and other sheriffs and public officials from across the country.

If you Google “Andy Biggs + delegation + Cliven Bundy”, that message from Richard Mack about Biggs’s support for the Bundy family is all over the internet. And, yes, it’s possible that Biggs never expressed such support and this was all bluster, but, at least last year, that’s what the Oath Keepers, militias, and the rest of the Bundy ranch supporters were celebrating at one point: that Andy Biggs, the president of Arizona’s Senate, vowed to support the Bundy family.

Also note that Dave Livingston, who actually led the Arizona delegation to the Bundy ranch, wasn’t the Speaker of the House in 2014 (that was Andy Tobin). But he did become the House Majority Whip last November.

So, whether or not Andy Biggs is an Oath Keeper supporter or a repeated victim of inadvertent Oath Keeper incidents, given that Rep. David Livingston became the House Majority whip later in the year, it’s pretty clear that leading a delegation to the Bundy ranch doesn’t hurt your chances of obtaining the GOP leadership positions in Arizona:

The Arizona Republic
Arizona legislators see Cliven Bundy as a hero?

Laurie Roberts, The Republic | azcentral.com 10:34 a.m. MST April 19, 2014

The Arizona Legislature faced something of a standoff this week, as one of our leaders waxed on and on and yes, on about his “life changing” experience standing with group that took up arms against the federal government last weekend.

Yeah, you just knew that some of Arizona’s leading lights would be among those flocking to Bundy Ranch in Nevada, where armed protesters and militia types decked out in camo faced off against federal law enforcement agents.

“This event was not about a ranch,” state Rep. David Livingston, R-Peoria, said on the House floor this week as legislators were trying to debate actual Arizona issues. “This event wasn’t about cattle. It wasn’t about the trail. It was all about power. It was all about showing who had the power.”

Actually, it was about obstructing federal agents who were attempting to enforce a lawful court order against a deadbeat rancher who for two decades has refused to pay his bills – a guy who doesn’t even recognize the existence of the federal government.

In other words, a hero for the ages. In the eyes of some, that is.

Our Legislature is filled with people who long for the good old days when states seceded from the union. Every year, we see bills declaring all EPA regulations null and void in Arizona and bills declaring federal gun laws null and void in Arizona and bills requiring federal agents to check in with county sheriffs before they try to enforce federal law in Arizona.

There’s the always-popular biennial effort to declare Arizona a sovereign state, which is code for we want control of federal land so we can eliminate all those vexing environmental regulations aimed at assuring clean water and clear air and such.

Arizona voters rejected that one by more than a 2-1 margin in 2012.

Then there are the bills to just flat-out ignore federal laws we don’t like. Look for that one on the ballot this fall.

So it’s no surprise that Livingston and company would make the trek to Mesquite, Nev., last weekend to stand with Cliven Bundy against the Bureau of Land Management.

Joining Livingston were Republican Reps. Kelly Townsend of Mesa and Bob Thorpe of Flagstaff and Sens. Kelli Ward of Lake Havasu City and Judy Burges of Sun City West. U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar was also there.

“We don’t need the government to tell us what to eat, what to wear, what to drink (and) how to drive,” Ward told a Nevada TV station.

What that has to do with a federal land dispute escapes me. Still, I’m with Ward on the whole nanny state bit. Heck, I like a good fight against government tyranny as much as the next red-blooded American. But Cliven Bundy isn’t my idea of inspiration to jump up there on my high horse.

On Sunday, Livingston joined 100 or so protesters at a church service at the site of the standoff, declaring that the Bundy triumph would serve as the rallying call for state sovereignty.

“This,’ Livingston said, “was a major tipping point.”

It was indeed a tipping point.

But the only thing toppled was the rule of law.

First, note the names of Senators Kelli Ward and Judy Burges in the delegation. We’ll get back to them.

So, as state Rep. David Livingston put it at the time:

“This event was not about a ranch…This event wasn’t about cattle. It wasn’t about the trail. It was all about power. It was all about showing who had the power.”

And he was, indeed, correct. The Bundy ranch fiasco was about much more than cattle. It was about whether or not Cliven Bundy, the Oath Keepers, and everyone else is actually a ‘Sovereign Citizen’ and the county sheriffs call the shots at all levels of government:

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

By Dylan Scott
Published 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.”

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.

The sheriff, who cited a 1984 class with W. Cleon Skousen, who the Southern Poverty Law Center described as “a leading light of right-wing radicalism, a theocrat who believed the decline of America began with passage of the 14th Amendment and its guarantee of equality for the former slaves and others,” as his ideological awakening, lays out his worldview on the Constitutional Sheriffs site:

The county sheriff is the line in the sand. The county sheriff is the one who can say to the feds, “Beyond these bounds you shall not pass.” This is not only within the scope of the sheriff’s authority; it’s the sheriff’s sworn duty.

Mack did not respond to TPM’s request for comment on Tuesday.

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.

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.

Both sent up digital calls for support. They posted the same release to their websites Thursday, announcing that Mack and the Oath Keepers members were joining a delegation heading to Bundy Ranch. The Oath Keepers also called on its 40,000 claimed members “to join the vigil at the Bundy ranch.” The group then outlined how it viewed the Bundy Ranch standoff as just one piece of a larger story:

This is not about cattle. This is about power, and the trampling of rights. It’s about a systemic power grab and abuse of power by the federal government as it runs roughshod over the rights of honest, hard-working rural Americans and over the rights of all the Western states. This is not an isolated incident. It is but the latest in a long train of abuses aimed at subjecting rural Americans to absolute despotism while destroying the property rights, economy, and independence of the rural West, in particular, and eventually wiping out all of rural America. This is an attack on all of the West, which is why patriotic legislators and lawmen from all over the West are answering the call to defend it.

“This is a full spectrum, frontal assault on the rural West,” it said. “This is truly a range war.”

As Richard Mack describes on his website, in ‘Sovereign Citizen’ terms, this whole Oath Keeper/COSPA movement is about elevating the the country sheriff to the highest authority in the land:

The county sheriff is the line in the sand. The county sheriff is the one who can say to the feds, “Beyond these bounds you shall not pass.” This is not only within the scope of the sheriff’s authority; it’s the sheriff’s sworn duty.

That’s what the Bundy Ranch showdown was all about and why ‘Sovereign Citizen’ movements like the Oath Keepers were so enthusiastic about the showdown.

And, based on the extreme similarity in language between the way Rep. David Livingston described the Bundy ranch showdown and the Oath Keepers’ take on the situation, it’s pretty clear that Arizona’s delegation had a ‘Sovereign Citizen’-esque power struggle in mind too, which sounds awfully similar to Andy Biggs’s calls for states to simply “take back their sovereignty”.

In the words of the Oath Keepers:

This is not about cattle. This is about power, and the trampling of rights. It’s about a systemic power grab and abuse of power by the federal government as it runs roughshod over the rights of honest, hard-working rural Americans and over the rights of all the Western states. This is not an isolated incident. It is but the latest in a long train of abuses aimed at subjecting rural Americans to absolute despotism while destroying the property rights, economy, and independence of the rural West, in particular, and eventually wiping out all of rural America. This is an attack on all of the West, which is why patriotic legislators and lawmen from all over the West are answering the call to defend it.

And in the words of Rep. David Livingston (who is now the Arizona House Majority Whip) on the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives upon returning from his trip to the Bundy ranch:

“This event was not about a ranch…This event wasn’t about cattle. It wasn’t about the trail. It was all about power. It was all about showing who had the power.”

Great minds think alike! But as we can see, it can happen to non-great minds too.

Memory Lane Includes an Oath Keeper Legislator That Now Happens to be the Speaker of the House
Of course, once Cliven Bundy began to publicly wax longingly about the days of slavery, the Bundy ranch wasn’t exactly the best place to make a stand about the balance of power. No, at that point, the Bundy ranch experience was something most supporters just kind of forgot about.

Could that be what happened to poor Andy Biggs’s memory? Slavery-comments-induced memory loss just wiped away anything Bundy-related including all of the bizarre Oath Keepers/Sovereign Citizen rhetoric and actions coming from his fellow Repubicans in the Arizone state legislature?

Hmmm…well, if so, that’s got to complicate Andy Biggs’s working relationship with all of his Oath Keeper-leaning colleagues in the legislature. Especially the new Speaker of the Arizona House, Rep. David Gowan, since Gowan was listed as an Oath Keeper member back in 2012:

Think Progress
AZ Lawmaker Tied To Radical ‘Oath Keepers’ Pushes Unconstitutional Bill Restricting Federal Law Enforcement

by Ian Millhiser
Posted on March 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Arizona’s county sherriff’s are not exactly known for setting the standard for effective law enforcement and loyalty to the Constitution — indeed, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is currently under federal investigation for widespread mistreatment of Latinos and other violations of the law. Nevertheless, an Arizona senate committee just approved a unconstitutional bill which would require federal law enforcement officers to provide advance notice to Arpaio and his fellow sheriffs before taking action in their counties:

A Senate panel voted Thursday to fire a warning shot of sorts over the heads of federal law enforcement agencies: Don’t come around here unless you get local OK.

The legislation, crafted by Rep. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, would require employees of those agencies to first notify the sheriff of the county “before taking any official law enforcement action in a county in this state.”.

The only exception would be if the notification would impede the federal officer’s duties. But even then, HB 2434 has a requirement to notify the sheriff “as soon as practicable after taking the action.”

The Constitution simply does not allow states to order federal officials to do anything. Under our Constitution, federal law is “the supreme law of the land,” so when Congress enacts an otherwise valid federal law and empowers federal officers to enforce it, the states have no power whatsoever to limit that enforcement or place conditions on it.

Disturbingly, the bill may also be connected to a radical anti-government group known as the “Oath Keepers.” The Oath Keepers is a right-wing group that pushes local law enforcement to defy federal “orders” the Oath Keepers believe are unconstitutional. Their website is riddled with paranoid rhetoric about government officials “disarm[ing] the American people,” “confiscat[ing] the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies,” and “blockad[ing] American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.” In early 2008, the Oath Keepers’ founder warned that a “dominatrix-in-chief” named “Hitlery Clinton” would impose a police state on America and shoot all resisters. After Democratic primary voters chose President Obama over Clinton, the Oath Keepers simply rewrote their paranoid fantasy to include a taller, African-American lead. Rep. Gowan, the lead sponsor of this bill, is listed as a member of the Tucson Oath Keepers on their Meetup page.

So, while merely notifying local law enforcement of federal actions may seem like a minor imposition, the bill makes sense in the context of a broader Oath Keeper agenda, because it gives local sherriffs advance notice of which federal actions they wish to defy.

Yes, the current Speaker of the Arizona House was as an Oath Keeper member. At least that’s what the Oath Keepers meetup page was claiming in 2012.

But there’s no other record of Gowan, himself, identifying as an Oath Keeper, so could this be another instance of a politician involuntarily getting associated with the Oath Keepers without his knowledge? Like what Biggs claimed? Well, if so, you can hardly blame the Oath Keepers if the incorrectly labeled Rep. Gowan a member. And neither could you blame them if they did the same, for most of the rest of the Arizona legislative GOP caucus, considering that that Rep. Gowan’s 2012 bill, and a similar one in the Senate, was passed by the legislature and had to be vetoed by the governor.

The same bill came up again in 2014. This time is was sponsored by Judy Burges who, as we saw above, was one of the members of the Bundy ranch delegation (and is also a supporter of Mack’s ‘Constitution county’ plans).

So if the Oath Keepers mistake Arizona’s GOP for being a hotbed of fellow Oath Keepers, and maybe think the now Speaker of the Arizona House is a Oath Keeper member himself, could you blame them?

Blog for Arizona
Neo-Confederate anti-government sedition in Arizona
Posted on April 16, 2014 by AZ BlueMeanie

The Arizona Republic finally got around to doing an investigative reporting piece on the sovereign citizen movement over the weekend, and it fell woefully short. This lengthy report failed to mention those who are members and sympathizers in Arizona, as has been reported here over the years. Sovereign citizens challenge authority of law:

The Republic contacted more than a dozen people who had identified themselves as sovereign in Phoenix and other cities across the state, including people who claimed affiliation with sovereign groups called the “Republic for the united States of America” and the “Republic for Arizona.” Some had served in the military. Others mentioned college degrees.

Only one agreed to speak in person and on the record.

Rockney Willard Martineau was in a Maricopa County jail.

* * *

Over the course of 2013, The Republic polled sheriff’s and recorder’s offices across Arizona about their interactions with sovereign citizens. The results showed a mixed picture of the belief’s prominence in the state.

Some law-enforcement officials said they had not seen much activity in several years, while others said sovereigns in their jurisdictions are well-known. Recorders in several counties rarely see a filing, while others report three to 10 a week, although some of those arrive from other states.

The FBI is keeping a close watch.

Seriously? Perhaps the problem is how this reporter defined “sovereign citizen,” disregarding the numerous far-right anti-government organizations to which these extremists belong. If The Republic polled sheriff’s offices, how is it possible that they missed these guys?

I previously posted about Crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio’s anti-government extremism [fixed link here]:

Crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio is a favorite of far-right extremist groups like former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack’s conspiratorial Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association and the Oath Keepers, made up of former and current law enforcement officers and military personnel who believe it is their duty to defy what they deem to be unconstitutional orders. These anti-government extremists are a law unto themselves.

Hence this bit of anti-government extremism from Crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio on Wednesday. Joe Arpaio Says He May Not Enforce New Gun Laws (AUDIO).

Not to be outdone for media attention, “Joe, Jr.,” Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, penned a letter to President Obama last week saying that he too would not enforce any federal laws that he deems to be unconstitutional orders. Has anyone investigated his connections to far-right extremist groups like Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association and the Oath Keepers?

Talking Points Memo reports Arizona Sheriff Tells Obama He Won’t Enforce Federal Gun Laws:

“Mr. President, if you attempt to carry through with your proposal, it will hinder the ability of good citizens to defend and protect themselves and others against those who wish to cause them harm through the use of deadly force,” Babeu, the sheriff of Pinal County, Ariz., wrote. “Your actions would turn many good citizens, who wish to maintain their God given Constitutional Rights to bear arms, into criminals. I am writing you this letter today to inform you that any “law” or regulation created by an executive order of your office which is contrary to what the Constitution of the United States of America says, shall be deemed as unlawful and shall not be carried out by myself or my office.”

And how can The Republic purportedly do an investigative journalism report without ever mentioning Arizona’s most notorious far-right anti-government icon, former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack, and his conspiratorial Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, and the Oath Keepers, made up of former and current law enforcement officers and military personnel who believe it is their duty to defy what they deem to be unconstitutional orders. Here is a profile of Mack from the Southern Poverty Law Center. ‘Army’ of Sheriffs to Resist Federal Authority.

Former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack traveled to Nevada this weekend to join rancher Cliven Bundy’s armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management . In an interview with Iowa talk show host Steve Deace on Monday, Sheriff Richard Mack Compared Armed Nevada Ranch Protesters To Rosa Parks. (I find that deeply insulting).

This radical extremist has frequently testified at the invitation of Tea-Publicans at the Arizona Legislature in favor of Tenth Amendment Center model legislation for nullification of federal gun laws, and for his far-right “constitutional sheriffs” bill.

In 2012, wingnut Rep. David Gowan (R-Sierra Vista), who has now been promoted to House Majority Leader., sponsored HB 2434 which would have required employees of federal agencies to first notify the sheriff of the county “before taking any official law enforcement action in a county in this state.” HB 2434 was actually approved by the Arizona legislature. It took a veto by Governor Jan Brewer to restore sanity.

The sponsor of this year’s version of the “constitutional sheriffs” bill, SB 1290 (.pdf). was the “Birther Queen,” Rep. Judy Burges (R-Sun City West.)

Then there is “Tenther” Sen. Kelli Ward (R- Lake Havasu City) and her model bills from the Tenth Amendment Center (which expressly declares its mission is the nullification of federal laws):

Sen. Ward told the Capitol Times the latest iteration of her 2nd Amendment Protection Act, modeled after legislation promoted by the constitutional-rights organization the Tenth Amendment Center and gun-rights advocates, remains similar in its goal to prevent Arizona from actively working to enforce certain federal gun laws.

Note that, as we saw earlier, “Tenther” Senator Kelli Ward was a member of the Bundy ranch delegation. More on her below.

Continuing…


SB 1112 would have banned the enforcement of federal laws limiting semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines.

This Republic reporter could find only one “sovereign citizen” sitting in a jail cell? Geezus, take a walk over to 1700 W. Washington Street and you will find a building filled with them.

The editorial board of The Arizona Republic editorializes today, Arizona lawmakers pointlessly charge Bunkerville Hill:

If Cliven Bundy had not existed, would the Arizona Legislature have to invent him?

It is worth contemplating. Once our lawmakers come back from Bunkerville Hill, anyway.

* * *

[Bundy] also has become the patron saint of a substantial portion of the Arizona Legislature. A great many conservative members of the Legislature have long shown an obsession with the idea of resisting the federal behemoth. Now, we know they see it as Job One.

It ranks higher than tedious stuff like funding K-12 education or protecting children, none of which they can bother with because West Washington Street now is all about Bundy, 24/7.

Their true priorities are made clear. The top priority at the capitol this entire session has not been about doing the state’s business, but about striking utterly meaningless blows at the feds. Like trying to pass pointless legislation forbidding state workers from interacting with federal employees. Or as in past sessions, attempting to wrest federal forest land to state control.

So many Arizona lawmakers have run off to Bunkerville or gotten their heads full of Bundy-worship that the business of Arizona government has been impeded. On Tuesday, lawmakers were requesting time for floor speeches, then using that time not to explain their votes on any bills, but to extoll Bundy-ism.

Let’s be clear about old Cliven: He refused to pay grazing fees for his use of federal land for his cattle operation — the fees every rancher in Arizona with a federal lease dutifully pays. That means he broke the law. He has lost every court case on the issue.

His argument that the land is state-owned, not federally owned, is unsupportable and convenient. Bundy’s position has no legal legs under it.

* * *

The fact that he has been rendered a modern-day saint and is being celebrated by so many Arizona lawmakers that their idol-worshiping has interfered with the business of the state is just obscene.

You had your temper tantrum, folks. You charged up Bunkerville Hill. Great. Now get back to work.

Sorry, editors, but no. You do not get to so breezily dismiss sedition and insurrection against the U.S. government as a mere “temper tantrum.” This is seriously effed up crazy shit. You should be demanding that these Arizona elected officials resign their offices for violating their oath of office. Period. End of discussion.

As I have said many times before, it is not enough for Arizona’s elite political media to simply report on crazy bills. They have an obligation to report on the far-right extremists groups who are behind these bills and on our legislators’ relationships to these far-right extremist groups. The voters have a right to know whether our legislators are members or supporters of far-right extremist groups.

The dismissive attitude of news organizations like The Arizona Republic has allowed these radical extremist groups to flourish in Arizona, to the point of being a majority caucus in the Arizona Legislature. This is an epic failure of the media.

Yes, if the Oath Keepers assume the Arizona legislature is filled with fellow travelers, it sure would be hard to blame them.

Memory Lane Also Includes Richard Mack Testifying Before the Senate Public Safety Committee
Now, it possible that Andy Biggs never really heard about how David Gowan, the current Speaker of the Arizona House, was allegedly an Oath Keeper back in 2012 even though the Arizona legislature keeping passing Oath Keeper-friendly laws. But you have to wonder if he was out sick on the day that Richard Mack was invited to testify before the Senate Public Safety Committee to advocate for the passage of a law. Specifically, Judy Burges’s SB1290 bill, which gives the county sheriff the right to veto the actions of federal law enforcement officers for any reason at all

Tuscon.com
Feds should get permission to enforce the law, says bill in Arizona Senate

February 13, 2014 12:00 am • By Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX — Warning of federal “atrocities,” former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack talked a Senate panel into making it a crime for federal agents to operate in Arizona without first getting written approval from the county sheriff.

Mack told members of the Senate Public Safety Committee on Wednesday that county sheriffs are the only elected law enforcement officers in the country. That, he said, means they answer to — and are responsible for protecting — the people.

“And then we allow bureaucrats from Washington, D.C., to come in and supersede his authority, and to do whatever they want in his county, and they (the sheriffs) can say nothing about it?” Mack said.

SB 1290, sponsored by Sen. Judy Burges, R-Sun City West, says a federal employee who is not a state-certified peace officer cannot make an arrest, or conduct a search or a seizure in Arizona without written consent of the sheriff. And it says the sheriff can withhold that permission “for any reason.”

There are exceptions, such as when a federal employee witnesses certain crimes. And none of this would interfere with the work of customs or border patrol officers.

“We’re asking that the federal government do something they should already be doing: verifying their work and what they’re doing with the sheriff as a check and balance so that atrocities committed in the 1990s especially by the federal government at Ruby Ridge and Waco and other places” do not happen here, Mack said.

Ruby Ridge was the site of a 1992 Idaho confrontation between federal agents and Randy Weaver that left Weaver’s wife and son dead. The 51-day standoff at Waco in 1993 ended with an assault on the compound occupied by the Branch Davidians and leader David Koresh by federal agents, with the resulting fire killing 76.

Note that Richard Mack actually co-authored a book with Randy Weaver about the Ruby Ridge incident.

Continuing…


“This will be normal activity and will continue if we don’t have somebody locally telling the federal government, ‘You can’t do that,’” Mack said.

Sen. Andrea Dalessandro, D-Green Valley, said some parts of the bill make no sense. For example, one provision requires a county attorney to prosecute a federal employee who doesn’t get permission — and making that county attorney subject to prosecution himself or herself for refusing to do that.

“You can’t demand the county attorney, who also is an elected official, to do something,” she said.

Again, Richard Mack, an Oath Keeper board member that’s also one of the movement’s highest profile advocates, was testifying before an Arizona Senate committee, just months before the Bundy ranch episode. And yet Senate president Andy Biggs apparently had no idea who these Oath Keepers are and what they’re about while attending an event with Richard Mack and Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes.

Memory Lane Also Includes the Very Recent Memory of Senator Kelli Ward Attending the “Hang McCain” Event Too. And Her Announcement That She Might Run Against Him.
So, let’s assume Andy Biggs was telling the truth *snicker*, perhaps the take away message from all this is that state legislator need to communicate more effectively with each other. Maybe Biggs’s lack of awareness was all due to a profound lack of communication! After all, Andy Biggs wasn’t the only elected official at the event. State Senator Kelli Ward was there too. And as we saw above, Senator Ward was not only a member of the Bundy ranch delegation, but she also sponsored a bill last year advocated by the 10th Amendment Center that would have blocked the state from enforcement federal gun laws. Oh, and by the way, the bill was brought up again this year with a similar one in the Arizona House. Both passed.

So, while Andy Biggs might be just so politically clueless that he has no idea who the Oath Keepers or folks like Richard Mack are even though they are influential enough to get their pet legislation passed in both chambers of the legislature, what about Kelli Ward? Does she have any thoughts on the proposal to try and hang John McCain? Considering that Ward formed an exploratory committee to look into running against McCain in 2016 (McCain already announced he’s running again), her thoughts on the ‘hang the Senators that don’t adhere to Oath Keeper sentiments’ would be really interesting to hear:

The Arizona Republic
Did Ward hear McCain hanging remark?
Dan Nowicki, The Republic | azcentral.com 1:14 p.m. MST May 15, 2015

Photos indicate state Sen. Kelli Ward, who might run against U.S. Sen. John McCain, was at the “Liberty On Tap” event in which a speaker called for McCain’s trial and execution for treason.

State Sen. Kelli Ward, who is considering a primary challenge against U.S. Sen. John McCain, was at the Tempe event where the founder of the Oath Keepers group called for McCain to be tried for treason and executed by hanging.

Ward, a Lake Havasu City Republican, did not respond to The Arizona Republic‘s questions and requests for comment, sent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, about her attendance at the May 5 “Liberty On Tap” gathering at which Stewart Rhodes of the pro-Constitution Oath Keepers made the comments about McCain, R-Ariz.

However, a series of photos taken at the event and posted on Facebook included shots of Ward with Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, who spoke at the event.

Biggs was invited to speak to the group about his book in which he argues against the states calling a constitutional convention. In the photos from the event, Ward is holding Biggs’ book, “The Con of the Con-Con.” Other photos show Biggs, Rhodes and former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack addressing the event, which was organized by the Arizona Liberty Caucus.

In a video released by the liberal group People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch project, Rhodes called McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, a traitor to the Constitution.

“He would deny you the right for trial to jury, but we will give him a trial for jury, and then after we convict him, he should be hung by the neck until dead,” Rhodes says in the video.

In a Friday morning interview on Phoenix radio station KFYI-AM (550), McCain was asked about Rhodes’ remarks.

“I’m not so much offended as sad that people in a free and open society, where we’re free to agree and disagree, … to say that someone should be hung and killed,” McCain said. “By the way, my family has spent a lot of time serving this country. My father, my grandfather, in fact, all the way back to the Revolutionary War. I’m proud to have one son in the Navy and I’m not ashamed to tell you now that my other son just returned from Afghanistan a couple of days ago, serving over there.

“So I just have to say to that man, ‘Let’s show some respect for each other. We can disagree, but I don’t understand that depth, that you would want someone to be killed, because we disagree on issues.'”

Former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, a longtime ally of McCain’s, issued a written statement condemning Rhodes’ comments.

“That kind of rhetoric is shameful and offensive to all of us who have served our nation in uniform,” Romley said. “The fact that two Arizona state senators were in the room at the time and said nothing is highly disappointing.”

Biggs told The Republic on Tuesday that he wasn’t familiar with the Oath Keepers organization and didn’t know Rhodes. Biggs said he disagreed with Rhodes’ remarks about McCain, but didn’t think it was his place to interfere with Rhodes’ “free-speech rights.”

Yep, Senator Kelli Ward’s office didn’t have any qualms about posting pictures of both Richard Mack and the guy that called for McCain’s hanging, Stewart Rhodes, on her Facebook page. But when asked for a response to Rhodes’s “hang McCain” comments, she doesn’t appear to have an answer. That sure is some bold leadership from a wannabe US Senator!

So, to summarize the current state of the Oath Keeper/’Sovereign Citizen’ takeover of the Arizona state legislature:
1. The current Speaker of the House, David Gowan, was listed as an Oath Keeper member in 2012 and sponsored a bill calling for a state-wide refusal for implement federal gun control laws. The bill passed both houses in 2014.

2. The current president of the Senate, Andy Biggs, may or may have vowed to support the Bundy ranch showdown in 2014, but he seems to be pretty keen on some sort of “take back of sovereignty” in 2015 without a constitutional convention which would be required for the fundamental rebalancing of the state vs federal balance of power he’s talking about. Also, 34 of the 36 required states have already passed bills calling for the constitutional convention(imagine that).

3. House Majority Whip Dave Livingston led the delegation to the Bundy ranch and returned to the House floor echoing the Oath Keepers with things like “This event was not about a ranch…This event wasn’t about cattle. It wasn’t about the trail. It was all about power. It was all about showing who had the power.”

4. And Kelli Ward, the likely primary opponent against John McCain, is a big fan of the “Tenther” movement and didn’t appear to have any problem with attending an event where the head of the Oath Keepers calls for the hanging of her 2016 primary opponent and then posting about it on Facebook.

And that just those four fine folks. As we’ve seen, they appear to be pretty representative of the rest of the Arizona GOP.

Oh, but we can’t forget John McCain. He’s presumably not super excited about seeing his state turn into a ‘Sovereign Citizen’ legislative paradise since the ‘sovereigns’ want to hang him.

Although you have to wonder how keen folks like Kelli Ward really are about all this too. After all, if she wins McCain’s Senate seat, guess who’s next in line for the gallows if she can’t keep pleasing her Oath Keeper backers. Sure, Senator Ward might like to think that they could never turn on a far-right darling like her once she becomes a US senator. But is that really realistic? Isn’t it the case that almost all GOPers, when first elected, pledge to be some sort of beacon of pure conservatism and then and up getting loathed by the base the moment they start compromising?

Does Kelli Ward really think she can please these folks as a US senator? She must.

Discussion

35 comments for “Extremism in the Defense of Stupidity Is a Vice, Part 2: Razing Arizona”

  1. State Senator Kelli Ward doesn’t seem to be too keen on sharing her opinions about the ‘hang McCain’ comments from her Oath Keeper friends:

    The Arizona Republic
    Kelli Ward still mum on McCain should be ‘hung’ comment

    EJ Montini, The Republic | azcentral.com
    3:01 p.m. MST May 19, 2015

    Last week Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs took a little heat for attending an event – and saying nothing — after a speaker said that Sen. John McCain should be hanged for treason.

    Biggs defended his silence by claiming he did not wish to interfere with the speaker’s First Amendment rights.

    (This is me silently allowing you to exercise your First Amendment right to snicker at such a lame excuse.)

    Turns out that Biggs wasn’t the only member of the Arizona Senate to attend a recent meeting in the Valley of a group called the Oath Keepers, however.

    Also there was state Sen. Kelli “Chemtrails” Ward, who has been exploring the possibility of challenging Sen. McCain in the 2016 Republican primary.

    On it’s website, The Oath Keepers refer to themselves as a” non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to “‘defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.'”

    Founder Stewart Rhodes was upset about how the Ron Paul delegates were treated during the 2008 Republican Convention — the one in which McCain was selected as the party’s presidential nominee.

    In a video of his comments he says of that process, “John Cain (Yes, he dropped the Mc from the senator’s name) is a traitor to the Constitution. He should be tried for treason before a jury of his peers — which he would deny you, he supports your denial of a jury trial, he supported the NDAA saying that he could just have the president slam you into a brig in North Carolina or South Carolina or wherever else he wanted to, try you by military tribunal and have you executed. He would deny you the right for trial to jury, but we will give him a trial for jury, and then after we convict him, he should be hung by the neck until dead. But that was their candidate!”

    Nothing.The Arizona Republic’s Dan Nowicki spotted Sen. Ward in photographs of the event and contacted her office – several times – to ask what she thought of the comments.

    I sent the senator a note myself and haven’t heard back.

    Funny, it’s usually impossible to prevent an ambitious politician from talking.

    “Funny, it’s usually impossible to prevent an ambitious politician from talking.”
    That is a little odd. It’s almost as if Senator Ward doesn’t want to publicly criticize the people that would potentially want to hang her if she defeats McCain and becomes Arizona’s next US Senator. How unexpected.

    But they haven’t hung her yet! She’s still talking. Just not about the ‘Hang McCain’ stuff. She’s got more important stuff to talk about,
    like how poor kids have it too easy

    The Arizona Republic
    Ward wants nada for kids, says nada on noose for McCain

    EJ Montini, The Republic | azcentral.com 2:28 p.m. MST May 20, 2015

    State Sen. Kelli Ward, a possible Republican challenger for Sen. John McCain, still hasn’t answered the question a few of us had about her being at a gathering in Tempe where one of the speakers said McCain should be hanged as a traitor.

    But she has spoken out about the legislature’s decision to dump 1,600 families — including more than 2,700 children — from the state’s federally funded welfare program in July.

    Of that she has said, “I tell my kids all the time that the decisions we make have rewards or consequences, and if I don’t ever let them face those consequences they can’t get back on the path to rewards. As a society we are encouraging people at times to make poor decisions and then we reward them.”

    So, it’s okay that the “consequences” for a parent being unemployed or underemployed is that we starve their children?

    Apparently, that plays well to the fringe elements of the already far-right fringe of the Republican party, as does the comments made at the Tempe meeting of a group called the Oath Keepers. Founder Stewart Rhodes was upset about how the Ron Paul delegates were treated during the 2008 Republican Convention — the one in which McCain was selected as the party’s presidential nominee.

    “I tell my kids all the time that the decisions we make have rewards or consequences, and if I don’t ever let them face those consequences they can’t get back on the path to rewards. As a society we are encouraging people at times to make poor decisions and then we reward them.”

    Note that Senator Ward hasn’t been simply speaking out in support of the bill. She co-sponsored it. So we’ll see if Senator Ward’s bill teaches those poor kids a lesson about consequence. They certainly could use a few lessons of that nature…assuming they were the ones that blew the hole in the state budget with corporate tax cuts. Damn kids:

    Phoenix Business Journal
    Business crowd sticks by Ducey, their tax cuts and his budget cuts
    Jan 21, 2015, 10:17pm MST Updated Jan 22, 2015, 7:33am MST
    Mike Sunnucks

    The business crowd liked Doug Ducey during his run for Arizona governor last year. They like the Republican’s experience as Cold Stone Creamery’s CEO. He’s one of them.

    And they really like his opposition to rolling back corporate tax cuts to solve a potential $1.5 billion budget deficit facing the state over the next 18 months.

    Business groups aren’t even that perturbed by Ducey’s budget which sweeps $100 million from job training and business recruitment funds run by the Arizona Commerce Authority, cuts the Arizona Office of Tourism’s advertising budget and axes $75 million from state universities and $113.5 million from K-12 schools. The GOP governor contends the K-12 cuts will not hit classrooms.

    Some business groups would rather have the corporate tax cuts passed in 2011 and being phased in kept even if it means cutting job training and economic development funds.

    “For Arizona to continue be taken seriously as an excellent place to start a business or grow an existing one, we need to keep our promise of having a low, reliable and predictable tax structure,” said Farrell Quinlan, state director for the National Federation of Independent Business. “Monkeying with the phase-in of the new lower tax rates would be madness.”

    Quinlan also voiced support for Ducey’s overall budget plans and promises of a pro-business, less restrictive regulatory climate.

    Garrick Taylor, senior vice president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, also said keeping tax cuts in place are a priority as the new governor and Republican Legislature grapple with shortfalls and a stunted economic rebound from the recession.

    “Keeping the phase-in of the tax reductions is job one; those reforms affect every aspect of the economy,” said Taylor.

    Arizona Chamber President and CEO Glenn Hamer was a top Ducey backer during the race to succeed term-limited Jan Brewer. NFIB also endorsed Ducey in last November’s elections.

    Critics point out the business tax cuts held on to by Ducey have not produced the promised results of jobs and business investment.

    Taylor and other business advocates said rolling back the tax cuts won’t help the state’s rebound.

    “Gov. Ducey isn’t putting our pro-growth policies on hold. In fact, the governor is enhancing our competitive standing by proposing to index our tax brackets to inflation,” Taylor said.

    Hopefully all those poor kids are starting to realize that useless tax cuts have consequences.

    Will Arizona’s new state-sanctioned hardship reform their young, impoverished characters? Maybe, but if not, there are plenty more lessons for Arizona to teach itself about the consequences of poor decision-making still in the pipeline.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 21, 2015, 1:37 pm
  2. Note to Arizona Senator Kelli Ward: clearing the air around the “hang McCain” incident doesn’t have to hurt. Just make an ‘oops’ statement and move on. For example…:

    Politico
    Pa. newspaper: Sorry we published letter calling for Obama’s execution

    By Adam B. Lerner

    5/28/15 10:09 AM EDT

    Updated 5/28/15 11:48 AM EDT

    A Pennsylvania newspaper has apologized for publishing a letter to the editor calling for President Barack Obama to be executed.

    The Daily Item of Sunbury’s editorial board wrote Thursday that it “bungled the Obama attack letter” and that “no bells went off when the editor handling the letter read it and placed it on the opinion page.”

    “The procedure at The Daily Item is for the person editing letters to review the content for offensive language and ad hominem attacks,” the paper wrote. “Publication is, however, a signal that the opinion is not one we would readily suppress, which can accurately be interpreted as an endorsement of acceptability — much to our chagrin in this instance.”

    The original letter, written by W. Richard Stover of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, was published on Monday. It bemoaned the president’s failure to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant after the terrorist group captured Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s largest province by land area.

    “To the families of those fallen heros [sic] whose blood lies on the sands of Iraq; don’t you think it might be time to rise up against an administration who has adequately demonstrated their gross incompetence?” Stover’s letter read. “I think the appropriate, and politically correct, term is regime change. Forgive me for being blunt, but throughout history this has previously been accompanied by execution by guillotine, firing squad, public hanging.”

    The nearly 78-year-old paper wrote that it was prompted to apologize by reader outrage.

    “Our readers and critics have reacted in force, as they should have. We accept their judgment and embrace the calls for heightened awareness and a higher standard for civil discourse.”

    “We will strive to do better in the future.”

    “We will strive to do better in the future.”
    There we go: They apologized and now everyone can forget about the whole thing. Of course, if the editor or The Daily Item had a well documented history of repeatedly hanging out with the very same people calling for the execution of elected officials, and the editor was also planning on running against President Obama in an upcoming election, it would be a little harder to simply move one. But even if that was all the case, at least an explanation wouldn’t leave us wondering just how much the editor The Daily Item might agree with the sentiment. It wouldn’t be an ideal situation, but still an improvement.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 28, 2015, 1:14 pm
  3. Here’s a general update on Cliven Bundy’s situation: Things are going great!

    The Guardian
    A year after armed standoff, Cliven Bundy still star of his own Tea Party-tinged western

    His Nevada ranch was the scene a year ago of a showdown over grazing rights with federal agents, who stood down after he was backed by a gun-toting ‘citizen militia’ from across the US. Today he’s yet to pay any fees and says: ‘We might be the freest place on earth’

    Rory Carroll in Bunkerville, Nevada

    Monday 1 June 2015 08.22 EDT

    There were no helicopters overhead, no gunmen in the hills, no scuffles or threats, just miles of quiet desert scrub dotted with the occasional cow. Cliven Bundy smiled. “Well, we definitely won.”

    A year ago, his Nevada ranch crackled with tension as federal agents squared off against a so-called citizen militia, which rallied from across the US to defend Bundy, as members saw it, from government tyranny.

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wanted to seize his cows over $1.2m in unpaid fees for grazing on federal land over two decades. Bundy rejected the agency’s authority, making him a rightwing folk hero and triggering the fraught face-off.

    It ended after officials withdrew, fearing a bloodbath. Many assumed it would be a fleeting, pyrrhic victory for Bundy until authorities found another way to tame him.

    But this week, 14 months later, his 500-strong herd grazed as normal, as chickens clucked in the yard – and the feds were a memory.

    “From the moment that they left, we have felt freedom on this ranch,” said Bundy, 69, seated in his rambling wooden home, the porch draped in US flags. “We might be the freest place on earth.”

    He has not seen a single federal official or vehicle on his 600,000-acre property, which sprawls 80 miles north of Las Vegas, and feels no pressure to pay a cent of the $1.2m, he said. A banner on the highway proclaims “freedom” and “liberty”, followed by a sign indicating “Bundy melons”.

    A surge in beef prices to a five-year high has brought more good news for Bundy, a registered Republican. He is using the bonanza to make improvements to his property. “I’m operating the ranch as normal, still producing red meat – steaks and hamburgers. That’s what I do.”

    His victory is a coup for the radical, gun-toting anti-government fringe which championed him as a symbol of defiance to Washington authority.

    Wearing trademark jeans, boots, cowboy hat and bolo tie, the Mormon father of 14 was upbeat in an interview with the Guardian, speaking from the family home – which as a boy he helped his father build – and as he inspected cattle pens, trailed by his two dogs.

    “I don’t think this is a battle that Cliven Bundy won. It’s a battle that the American people won. They’re just not going to put up with abuse by the federal government.”

    Bundy said he was no outlaw, that he pays all taxes and state duties – but not federal fees for grazing, which he stopped paying after the BLM imposed restrictions as part of an effort to protect the endangered desert tortoise.

    The federal government owns 85% of Nevada land, and a federal court upheld the claim against Bundy but he rejected its authority and legitimacy, citing a libertarian theory that the US constitution forbids federal ownership of land. “This is not about Cliven Bundy and cows. It’s about state sovereignty.”

    The BLM’s retreat vindicated his stance, he said, tapping a copy of the US constitution which he keeps in a breast pocket.

    Third-person grandiosity and race-tinged commentary

    Two clouds, however, hover above the rancher’s apparent triumph.

    A supporter named Will Michael recently pleaded guilty in a federal court in Pennsylvania to making threats against a BLM official during the standoff, a possible harbinger of prosecutions against other supporters and Bundy himself.

    Asked to comment, the agency issued a curt statement hinting at further actions but did not elaborate: “The Bureau of Land Management remains resolute in addressing issues involved in efforts to gather Mr Bundy’s cattle last year and we are pursuing the matter through the legal system. Our primary goal remains to resolve this matter safely and according to the rule of the law.”

    The other cloud is that Bundy remains ostracised by some former cheerleaders such as Rand Paul and Fox News’s Sean Hannity over racist comments made after the standoff ended last April.

    “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the negro,” he said then. “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?”

    Bundy, who has denied being a racist, sighed and shook his head at the memory. He said it was all a “misunderstanding” and that he hoped to regain lost support.

    “I made a mistake when I called the black negro. My intent was not to be prejudicial but for blacks to enjoy this freedom. What I’m saying is that the black and the brown communities should be concerned about freedom and liberty.”

    He said he had not personally heard any complaints from ethnic minority groups. “I’ve never had a black person or a brown person ever say anything bad about me.”

    Then he proceeded to make fresh contentious comments, first by repeating the comparison between slavery and welfare dependence: “Receiving welfare and housing – is that a sense of slavery when you get caught up in that and can’t get out of it for generations? They don’t have freedom.”

    When he flies, Bundy said, he often sees well-dressed, successful black people. “They really are progressing and prospering. I understand they’ve raised themselves up to a point where they are equal with the rest of us. And I’m so happy for them. But what about those that are in the ghetto and can’t get out?”

    The only time he lived in a city was in Los Angeles in 1965 during the Watts race riots, he said. Instead of government handouts or government jobs, ghetto-dwellers needed private-sector work. “We don’t need leeches feeding off us and eating off of us. We need producers.”

    This was not language to banish accusations of racism, but Bundy seemed untroubled.

    ‘It was amazing to go against an army and not be scared’

    Fame has not mellowed his views – he branded federal bureaucrats “the enemy” – but has imbued grandiosity. Bundy equated himself with the national spirit, saying he represented millions of Americans. He referred to himself in the third person and interchangeably with “we the people”.

    The ranch itself, in contrast, appears humble: a ramshackle dwelling at the end of a dirt track surrounded by arid, rocky landscape, except for bursts of green along the Virgin river. It feels isolated and solitary.

    The scores of armed militia members who once patrolled here have dwindled to Booda Cavalier, 44, a heavily built, tattooed bodyguard who wears a handgun on his hip and lives in a nearby trailer. “If the feds come back here in a negative fashion, I’d do what was necessary to protect myself and Mr Bundy,” he said.

    Reinforcements are nearby, Cavalier said, indicating his smartphone. Three taps will send a social media alert and summon more than 100 “heavy operators” from Las Vegas and St George “to make sure we would be on equal footing with the opposing force”, he said.

    Bundy himself does not carry a weapon, lest it give government assassins justification to take him out, said Cavalier. Bundy nodded.

    Both men see themselves as the good guys in a quixotic, Tea Party-tinged western where the villains are the heavily armed agents of federal government overreach.

    He cast the showdown over grazing fees as a miracle in which Jesus Christ and the founding fathers helped vanquish the BLM’s “army” without a shot being fired. “I believe in prayer … I felt I’ve been guided a lot of times by the heavenly spirits.” He was certain divine intervention delivered victory. “It was amazing to go against an army and not be scared.”

    The standoff inspired countless others, he said. “It’s not only my family that’s willing to stand. It’s the people of the world that are standing.”

    Yes, things are going great. At least for Cliven. At least now. But as we also saw:


    A supporter named Will Michael recently pleaded guilty in a federal court in Pennsylvania to making threats against a BLM official during the standoff, a possible harbinger of prosecutions against other supporters and Bundy himself.

    Asked to comment, the agency issued a curt statement hinting at further actions but did not elaborate: “The Bureau of Land Management remains resolute in addressing issues involved in efforts to gather Mr Bundy’s cattle last year and we are pursuing the matter through the legal system. Our primary goal remains to resolve this matter safely and according to the rule of the law.”

    And that’s why Cliven Bundy probably isn’t assuming this whole issue has just gone away for good. That’s a pretty safe bet. Especially since Cliven is also assuming that Will Michael, the supporter facing possible federal prosecution, is going to to be hung by the government. That’s got to be pretty disconcerting, whether it’s grounded in reality or not:

    The Los Angeles Times
    Cliven Bundy reaches out to man who pleaded guilty to threatening BLM

    By John M. Glionna

    May 11, 2015, 4:38 PM

    Cliven Bundy is worried about one of his supporters.

    On Monday, the recalcitrant Nevada rancher, who has waged a running battle of words and lawsuits with the federal government over public lands, made a phone call to an out-of-state supporter facing prison time over comments he made in support of the newly christened tea party folk hero.

    Pennsylvania resident Will Michael, 24, pleaded guilty last month in federal court to threatening a Bureau of Land Management official as well as making interstate communication threats during Bundy’s 2014 standoff with federal officials over land grazing rights.

    Bundy says he feels responsible for the man’s predicament and wanted to offer a show of emotional support.

    “He’s just a youngster — he seems like a nice young man with good sense for a boy,” Bundy told the Los Angeles Times on Monday. “They picked him out of a large group of people and I’m nervous these federal types are going to hang him as an example.”

    Michael left a profanity-laced phone message for Mike Roop, the chief BLM ranger for Washington and Oregon, that warned, “We’re going to kill you,” according to federal court documents. Officials say it was one of 500 threatening messages that Roop received.

    Michael did not travel to southern Nevada to join hundreds of Bundy supporters, many armed with semiautomatic weapons, who converged on federal land after agents swooped in to seize Bundy’s cattle. For decades Bundy has refused to pay government grazing fees because he does not recognize Washington’s right to collect money on Nevada land.

    Michael told authorities that he saw a video on social media showing Roop shoving aside Bundy’s sister, who was blocking BLM vehicles in the cattle raid, officials said. Michael will be sentenced in July.

    “He doesn’t know how to defend himself,” Bundy said Monday. “He faces up to 15 years in prison and that’s just awful. His parents have helped him pay for a lawyer. And all because the young man spoke his mind.”

    Bundy believes the aggressive federal approach is just the first in a series of legal moves officials might take against his own family after Bundy’s so-called citizen militia challenged BLM officials in an armed face-off in April last year.

    In the year after the desert showdown, which ended with federal officials backing off and releasing the rancher’s cattle, Bundy has been celebrated by Americans who seek less federal intrusion into what they view as state business.

    About 87% of land in Nevada, one of several Western states with land administered by the BLM, is run by the federal government, most of it scrub desert and prairie. Bundy followers say federal officials have blocked residents from hunting, fishing and hiking on the land, citing potential habitat damage.

    But many BLM workers, especially in Nevada and neighboring Utah, have been on edge, facing the brunt of increasing public wrath. In some areas, officials have been instructed to not use marked government vehicles on the job for fear of inciting retaliation.

    Bundy said that he had been careful to not break any laws and that he was waiting for some move from Washington. For years, he has represented himself in a long battle with officials over his use of government-administered land near his ranch, 80 miles north of Las Vegas.

    “I’m a little bit worried; no, I’m quite a bit worried for this young man,” Bundy said of Michael. “He’s guilty for what he did and he’s admitted that. He was exercising his right to free speech like all of us did.

    “If they’re going to hang him, we all need to be hung, because we all have the same feelings.”

    “They picked him out of a large group of people and I’m nervous these federal types are going to hang him as an example…If they’re going to hang him, we all need to be hung, because we all have the same feelings.”
    Hmmmm….while there might be a bit of projection tucked away in there, it’s still kind of sad projection. And common. And therefore kind of scary.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 1, 2015, 2:54 pm
  4. You know how, when it come out that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise admitted that he was “like David Duke without the baggage” as a congressional candidate back in 1999, a number of responses were along the lines of “yep, and that doesn’t just describe Steve Scalise!” Well, as the article below reminds us, the extent of the GOP’s pandering to the racist far-right isn’t limited to fans of David Duke:

    Newsweek
    How Timothy McVeigh’s Ideals Entered the Mainstream
    By Nina Burleigh / June 1, 2015 12:44 PM EDT

    Republican presidential candidates gathered last month at the Oklahoma City Cox Conference Center, just a few blocks from the site of what was the Alfred R. Murrah Federal Building. Two decades ago, anti-government militia sympathizer Timothy McVeigh blew it up in what he called an act of war against the U.S. government. It was the worst crime of domestically bred terrorism in American history. McVeigh was executed in 2001, but since then, some of his militia ideals have gone mainstream and even been introduced as laws in many states, including Oklahoma.

    Legislators in dozens of states have submitted proposals to nullify or block federal laws—a longtime goal of militias. These have included exempting states from federal gun laws and educational standards, as well as, of course, Obamacare. That doesn’t make these anti-federal statutes part of McVeigh’s madness, but Republican politicians now often echo conspiracy theories once relegated to troglodyte pamphlets. And several states have passed laws making gold a currency—a step toward returning to the gold standard—even though currency is a federal responsibility.

    When Cliven Bundy engaged in an armed standoff with Bureau of Land Management agents in 2014, after a federal court order demanded he get his cattle off federal land, as he hadn’t paid grazing fees for 20 years, several of the current Republican presidential candidates sided with the outlaw. As armed militia members converged in Nevada to protect Bundy, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas called the events “the unfortunate and tragic culmination of the path President Obama has set the federal government on.” Rick Perry, then the governor of Texas, said: “I have a problem with the federal government putting citizens in the position of having to feel like they have to use force to deal with their own government.” Mike Huckabee opined: “There is something incredibly wrong when a government believes that some blades of grass that a cow is eating is [such] an egregious affront to the government of the United States that we would literally put a gun in a citizen’s face and threaten to shoot him over it.”

    Tarso Ramos, executive director of Political Research Associates, which tracks right-wing extremism, says these and other formerly fringe ideas mainstreamed after McVeigh’s assault—just not right away. “The Oklahoma City bombing had a sobering effect for a while,” he says. “Then, with the election of Obama, you get a whole new wave of Patriot activity and a new variant of conspiracy-ism, including the birther stuff and the idea that Obama is an agent of powerful elites.”

    Militia sympathizers today have the ears of many Republican politicians. Texas Governor Greg Abbott vowed to keep watch on the U.S. military this spring as it runs a series of war games called Jade Helm 15. Some Texans sensed an armed federal takeover of the Lone Star State and demanded action. Senator Cruz said of their fears, “I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty, because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don’t trust what it is saying.”

    The nullifiers fear Washington and the United Nations. Anti-U.N. anxiety dates back to the John Birch Society, but today some of those doing the raving are lawmakers. State legislators and local officials have passed dozens of laws barring implementation of Agenda 21, a nonbinding 1992 U.N. white paper about environmental sustainability. President George H.W. Bush and the leaders of 177 other nations signed it.

    Twenty years later, the Republican National Committee in 2012 denounced Agenda 21 in a resolution as a “destructive and insidious scheme” that would impose “socialist/communist redistribution of wealth.” Cruz, a presidential candidate, claims Agenda 21 would “abolish” golf courses and paved roads. Last year, Oklahoma lawmakers passed an Agenda 21 nullification law.

    Conservatives are also using the 10th Amendment—which reserves powers for the states not mentioned in the rest of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution—to audaciously challenge federal authority. In 2004, a Montana gun enthusiast named Gary Marbut found another use for the 10th Amendment: pushing a bill exempting guns manufactured and retained in Montana from federal regulation. The bill became a law in 2009 called the Firearms Freedom Act, which declared that federal gun laws did not apply. A half-dozen other states soon followed suit. A survey by ProPublica in 2012 found that 37 states have since passed laws circumventing federal gun laws and 12 states are considering so-called Second Amendment Preservation Acts, which would nullify federal gun laws altogether. In some cases, the state laws have criminalized federal agents who try to enforce the federal laws. Versions of that twist passed in Kansas, Alaska and Idaho.

    Besides freeing guns from Washington’s control, there are also bills nullifying Obamacare, the National Security Agency and Common Core, as well as federal laws on other environmental standards, marijuana and tracking license plates. The federal government is “diving off into areas unchecked that they’re not supposed to be involved in,” said Montana state Representative Krayton Kerns, who introduced a bill in 2013 to limit the ability of local police to help enforce federal laws. “Not only is it our right in state legislatures to do this, it’s our obligation to do it,” Kerns told NBC News. “Somebody’s got to put a ‘whoa’ on it.” Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is such a nullification enthusiast that he created a separate “Federalism Unit” devoted to fighting federal government “abuses of power.”

    Oklahoma joined Utah and Arizona last summer in giving a glimmer of hope to fans of another goal of the militia world—returning America to the gold standard. In 2014, Oklahoma made it law that “gold and silver coins issued by the United States government are legal tender in the State of Oklahoma.” Similar proposals are being pushed in at least a dozen states.

    When I asked Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin about the gold currency law she signed, she deferred to her press secretary, Alex Weintz. He later emailed to say the governor’s counsel reads the law as one that would help gold investors—not necessarily promote the use of gold as money. But Michael Boldin, founder of the libertarian Tenth Amendment Center, writes that by passing the law, Oklahoma “took the first step towards following the tender requirements of the Constitution and nullifying the Federal Reserve’s near-monopoly on money.”

    There are some intriguing similarities between the current political climate and that of the mid-’90s, when McVeigh gathered up the fertilizer for his Ryder truck bomb. Back then, as now, a Democratic president presided over an improving American economy, and his popularity provoked the fear and loathing of an edge of the right-wing political spectrum contemplating—and occasionally engaging in—armed resistance.

    Then, as now, the number of anti-government armed resistance groups was at a watermark high. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the amount of “Patriot” militias peaked at 858 in 1996, just after McVeigh killed 168 people, including children, in the heart of Oklahoma City. The militia tally fell almost immediately—a consequence, analysts say, of shame over the horrific act, followed by new fears of Islamic terrorism, which in the minds of some militia members made the American government look like the lesser of two evils.

    Then came Obama. Since his election in 2008, the number of anti-government extremist groups tracked by the SPLC has risen to another record high, 874.

    Ramos says he and his colleagues believe the difference now is that fringe rage is being channeled into a larger right-wing populist movement. “The Tea Party represents this coalition between those working in the formal system and those focused outside—white nationalists who depict Obama with a Hitler mustache,” Ramos says. “What’s happening now is a little hard to say, but there are strong indicators that the forces that redirected a lot of that energy into the formal arena of politics do not hold the sway that they once did. The ability of formal politics to deliver sufficiently to appease the most hardline elements at the base almost never succeeds in the long run.”

    “What’s happening now is a little hard to say, but there are strong indicators that the forces that redirected a lot of that energy into the formal arena of politics do not hold the sway that they once did. The ability of formal politics to deliver sufficiently to appease the most hardline elements at the base almost never succeeds in the long run.Yep.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 2, 2015, 8:10 am
  5. Larry Pratt, executive director of the far-right Gun Owners of America, was shooting his mouth off again about how the 2nd amendment is for shooting Democrats like President Obama:

    TPM Livewire
    Leader Of Powerful Gun Group: ‘The 2nd Amendment Was Designed For’ Obama (AUDIO)

    By Ahiza Garcia
    Published June 5, 2015, 2:47 PM EDT 848 views

    The executive director of a powerful pro-gun group said in an interview earlier this year that “the Second Amendment was designed for” people like President Obama, who he described as “tyrannical.”

    The comments by Larry Pratt of the prominent Gun Owners of America were surfaced on Thursday by the organization Right Wing Watch. The gun rights advocate reportedly made the comments in April during an interview on the conservative radio show “The News with Views,” where he addressed Congress’ attempts to restrict armor-piercing bullets.

    “The Second Amendment was designed for people just like the President and his administration,” Pratt told radio host Roger Fredinburg. “And yes, if the New York Times and the Rolling Stone, and whoever else wants to have a hissy fit, yes, our guns are in our hands for people like those in our government right now that think they wanna go tyrannical on us, we’ve got something for ‘em. That’s what it’s all about.”

    “The Second Amendment’s not about hunting, it’s not about target shooting, it’s about Democrats who want to take our rights,” Pratt said.

    Gun Owners of America is a forceful gun lobby group whose views fall far to the right of the better-known National Rifle Association. The group was credited with helping derail the last major gun control push in Congress in 2013.

    “The Second Amendment’s not about hunting, it’s not about target shooting, it’s about Democrats who want to take our rights”

    There he goes again…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 5, 2015, 2:55 pm
  6. Cliven Bundy and his son are denying that they were the individuals that fired shots on two separate occasions around Gold Butte, Nevada, nearby where three Bureau of Land Management contract researchers were monitoring water sources, prompting the researchers to leave the area. Bundy admits to approaching them earlier and asking what they were up to, but he denies any shootings. He also admits to being upset after learning that there were water researchers in the area, saying, “Those things are my private property, and I don’t want anyone monkeying with my property…It doesn’t matter whether they’re contractors or BLM officials, either way they’re trespassing on my rights. We’re not going to put up with this.” But he claims to have only learned that this was what the researchers were up to after the fact. According to Bundy, he had nothing to do with someone driving up to the camp twice, about an hour apart, and firing multiple shots after Bundy’s visit:

    Associated Press

    Rancher Cliven Bundy denies firing gunshots near US researchers in Nevada

    By Martin Griffith

    Published: Saturday, June 13 2015 12:00 a.m. MDT

    Nevada rancher and states’ rights advocate Cliven Bundy said Saturday that contract researchers for the federal Bureau of Land Management had no business being on rangeland where he grazes cattle, but he denied he or his supporters fired gunshots near them.

    Three employees of a nonprofit Nevada organization told authorities they were monitoring water sources in the Gold Butte area, about 100 miles northeast of Las Vegas, on June 5 when they were approached by two men who asked what they were doing.

    The researchers quickly left after six shots were fired later that night near their camp in an area that’s being considered for federal protection as a national conservation area. There were no injuries.
    Bureau of Land Management
    Las Vegas police are investigating the incident. Bureau of Land Management officials have declined comment beyond a statement saying the shooting prompted them to take unspecified safety precautions in the area to protect is employees and contractors.

    The confrontation pitted federal officers against heavily armed states’ rights advocates who had converged on the Bundy ranch to halt the roundup of his cattle. The Bureau of Land Management backed off, citing safety concerns. It allowed Bundy supporters to release 380 cattle from pens that had been collected.

    Bundy said he and his son, Ryan, were checking a water source when they met the three employees on a remote dirt road June 5, but he did not learn about the shooting and that they were researchers until reading a newspaper story nearly a week later.

    “I asked them what they were doing, and they said they were looking for an area to set up camp. We just greeted them and welcomed them,” Bundy said.

    Thinking they were campers, the Bundys returned to their ranch about 12 miles away near Bunkerville and did not notify any supporters of their encounter with the three, he said.

    “That’s the last we heard of them until we read about it in the newspaper,” Bundy told The Associated Press. “None of my friends or supporters would have known about it … No, we didn’t fire those shots. We didn’t go back to the area.”

    Bundy said he visited the area with a Las Vegas police sergeant on Friday, and found no evidence corroborating researchers’ statements to authorities that someone in a vehicle drove up and fired three shots on two separate occasions about an hour apart. The shots were fired from roughly a third of a mile away from their camp.

    Bundy said he became upset after learning the researchers were monitoring water seeps and springs in the area.

    “Those things are my private property, and I don’t want anyone monkeying with my property,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether they’re contractors or BLM officials, either way they’re trespassing on my rights. We’re not going to put up with this.”

    While Bundy insisted the land in question is owned by the state, federal courts have consistently ruled it’s under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

    Jerry Keir, executive director of the Great Basin Institute, said it’s “total speculation” whether the shots were meant to intimidate his researchers. The incident cut short their work as the Bureau of Land Management told them not to return to the area, he added.

    This sounds like a job for some meddling kids. Meddling kids with body armor and very high performance ATVs. They’re going to need it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 14, 2015, 8:04 pm
  7. Here’s a rather alarming article for anyone living in Texas: The Texas Tea Party is getting pissed. Why? The Texas GOP isn’t crazy enough for their tastes. The Texas GOP. Not crazy enough. Yep:

    Associated Press
    Trouble In Tea Party Paradise: Texas Infighting Rankles Activist Base

    By WILL WEISSERT
    PublishedJune 22, 2015, 4:53 PM EDT
    AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas can sometimes feel like tea party heaven — the land of Ted Cruz, where the Legislature is packed with hard-right devotees and the governor himself heeds fringe fears about possible federal plots to seize the state.

    But with so much power comes pressure, and the Texas Legislature’s tea party leaders are struggling to deliver on their most conservative promises. After the legislative session that ended this month, movement activists were openly unhappy with the results and have targeted a few onetime favorite lawmakers for possible retribution.

    “It’s a truth in advertising issue,” said JoAnn Fleming, a state tea party leader who heads Grassroots America — We the People. “There are some that will likely pay a political price for caving on what they said they would do.”

    The Texas tea party network is the nation’s strongest, with four dozen major conservative groups representing thousands of active members. Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature and the state Senate is run by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a former, often fire-breathing conservative talk radio host. About a third of the 31 senators are strong tea party voices, while nearly 25 of the Texas House’s 150 members are conservative grass-roots favorites.

    But except for limiting government and slashing state spending, the groups often don’t agree on much. And their agendas sometimes compete with each other.

    While some tea party leaders focus on strengthening Texas’ ban on gay marriage, tightening immigration policies or fending off the potential imposition of Sharia law, others see a greater threat in mandatory vaccines, red light cameras or smart electrical meters. Still others place a high priority on gun and private property rights.

    “Everyone always likes to think that we’re top-down, but we’re not,” said Robin Lennon, president of the Kingwood TEA Party in suburban Houston.

    During the nearly five-month legislative session, tea party members had some victories. Lawmakers legalized concealed handguns on college campuses and approved allowing handguns to be openly carried virtually everywhere else.

    But unhappiness grew after other issues fizzled.

    Rep. Dan Flynn’s bill exempting Texas from daylight saving time was sidelined amid concerns that refusing to roll back the clocks could leave Texans choosing between church and watching Dallas Cowboys games on fall Sundays. Also dropped was Sen. Donna Campbell’s proposal banning the Alamo from falling under the control of the United Nations.

    The backlash was greatest over lawmakers’ failure to repeal Texas’ 2001 law offering in-state tuition to some college students in the country illegally, to pass school vouchers or block an expansion of pre-kindergarten programs.

    “We’re making our voices very clearly heard,” said Cathie Adams, a former Texas Republican Party chairwoman who now heads the influential Texas Eagle Forum conservative grassroots group. “But they’re ignoring us.”

    Patrick, one of the most powerful tea party politicians in elective office, along with Gov. Greg Abbott and TexasHouse Speaker Joe Straus were targets of a scathing letter signed by 28 conservative activists decrying “excuses rather than results” on too many issues.

    Patrick countered that sometimes the legislative process can be slow-moving. Also, Democrats and skeptical Republicans teamed up to thwart some proposals, such as the tuition repeal.

    “It’s hard to make everyone happy all the time,” he said. Considering the many issues, Patrick said, “if you took a list of 25 or 30, we did very well. Some 100 percent, some 80 percent.”

    At one point, top staff members in Patrick’s office had to meet with alarmed gun rights activists after he suggested that “open carry” might not have the votes to pass. Later, one of them posted an online video reminding state lawmakers that “treason is punishable by death.” Open carry of handguns was eventually approved.

    Katrina Pierson, who mounted an unsuccessful tea party bid for Congress last year, said group members will settle for “90-10 or 80-20” percent ideological purity by lawmakers they support. But she said that now “it’s barely 50-50.”

    Abbott works to keep good tea party relations. He punctuates his tweets with tea party hashtags and even ordered the Texas State Guard to be on alert amid warnings from far-right corners of the Internet that a planned U.S. military exercise in Texas could be an excuse for a federally imposed martial law.

    Well that was quite the laundry list things even a Texas GOPer might be too embarrassed to vote for. But note this rather critical line:


    But except for limiting government and slashing state spending, the groups often don’t agree on much. And their agendas sometimes compete with each other.

    So at least the Tea Party its slightly less Tea Party-ish comrades have something they can agree on. Well done!

    Interestingly, there was no mention of repealing the 17th Amendment. Or, rather, there was no mention of how Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who appears to have disappointed so many of his Tea Party backers, actually flip flopped on that very issue almost immediately following his election:

    Politifact Texas
    Dan Patrick went from ‘unequivocally support’ to ‘would not be in favor of’ repeal

    By Sue Owen on Thursday, February 13th, 2014 at 12:00 p.m.

    “Flip flop,” begins a Jan. 22, 2014, news blog entry from the San Antonio Express-News.

    “That’s exactly what Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Sen. Dan Patrick, both trying to capture the tea party vote in the Republican primary, did earlier this week when posed a question about repealing the 17th Amendment.”

    The 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1913, did away with state legislatures electing U.S. senators and handed that power directly to the people. It begins, “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.”

    At the time, the 17th Amendment was seen as a move away from corruption and toward purer democracy, according to an Oct. 10, 2013, Austin American-Statesman news blog post and an Oct. 16 Statesman news story. But tea party activists, particularly in Texas, describe it as a mistake that reduced state power by undoing an intended balance between U.S. representatives elected locally by the people and U.S. senators more accountable to state legislators.

    Another Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, Texas land commissioner Jerry Patterson, said in a Waco Tribune-Herald interview published Feb. 2 and in subsequent emails to us that Patrick and Dewhurst each said in an Oct. 3 debate that he favored repeal, then changed his tune at a Jan. 20 King Street Patriots debate.

    Patterson and another GOP candidate, Texas agriculture commissioner Todd Staples, who weren’t asked about repeal at the October debate, each said at the later debate that he opposes repealing the amendment, according to a YouTube video that King Street spokesman Logan Churchwell told us by phone accurately presented the candidates’ responses.

    An Oct. 10 Statesman news blog post quoted Patrick as saying at the Oct. 3 debate held in Houston by the Clear Lake Tea Party:

    “I unequivocally support the repeal of the 17th Amendment and the restoration of our Founders’ original intent to have the state legislatures select our United States senators. … It is absolutely necessary that the 17th Amendment be repealed to revitalize our republican system of government.”

    At the Jan. 20 King Street debate in Houston, according to the YouTube video, Patrick said:

    “I think this came up in a debate about four months ago. We’ve had many debates. And I think either I misspoke or I was misquoted or it was reported incorrectly; I’m not sure which. … I would not be in position to support repealing it today. I was just taking a historical view of it and I think that was a turning point; it hasn’t worked out, I think, as planned, but I would not be in favor of repealing it.”


    Patrick spokesman Logan Spence told us by email that there was “No flip. Dan just doesn’t think now is the time to have that fight.”

    We asked how this “not now” position coheres with Patrick flatly saying at the January debate that he is not in favor of repeal. Spence replied that as a candidate for lieutenant governor, Patrick is not positioned to lead the charge for repeal “now or in the near future.” He also said, “This must be my last time to address this.”

    Our ruling

    Between the October and January debates, Patrick shifted from saying “I unequivocally support the repeal of the 17th Amendment” to “I would not be in favor of repealing it.” Given an opportunity to explain the contrast, his campaign said Patrick wouldn’t be positioned as lieutenant governor to lead the repeal charge and that there would be no further clarification.

    Our sense is that Patrick himself said he was for repeal, then said he is not. That’s a Full Flop.

    A Full Flop. That’s what Politifact award Texas’s Lt Governor on his sudden repeal of his past support for repealing the 17th Amendment. A Full Flop. Ouch!

    So even though we didn’t hear much about the 17th Amendment in the above article on the Texas Tea Party’s disappointments in their elected officials, it sure sounds like there should be some Texas Tea Partiers still fuming over the 17th Amendment Full Flop by their Lt. Governor almost immediately after getting elected.

    The again, given the scope of everything the Texas Tea Party demands, it’s clear there’s a lot of work to be done in all sorts of areas if Texas’s Tea Party will ever feel at home. Repealing the popular election of US Senators is but one of many issues of the day when you’re trying to make the distant past the near future.

    At the same time, changing the US constitution is going to require more than just Texas, so it makes sense not to put too much of a focus on the 17th Amendment, especially since its highly unlikely that the populace, as a whole, is going to support the idea. So it’s probably a better plan to just put out lots of rhetoric about how much better it would be if state governments selected their US Senators and then wait for the opportunity to sneak the repeal in during a Constitutional Convention:

    The Daily News
    Convention of States
    Posted: Monday, June 8, 2015 1:29 am | Updated: 1:49 am, Mon Jun 8, 2015.

    By NEIL YOUNG

    BULLHEAD CITY — Restricting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government as allowed by Article V of the United States Constitution was the topic at Saturday’s Colorado River Tea Party Patriots meeting.

    Dustin Romney, Arizona coalitions director for the Convention of States Project, was the featured speaker.

    Romney, a distant relative of 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, authored the book “Rule of Law: Why and How We Must Amend the Constitution.”

    The federal government has been taking more power away from the states, Romney said.

    In some cases, states give up the power willingly, in exchange for federal aid.

    “They love that the federal government gives them money,” Romney said.

    The loss of power has been going on for more than 100 years, Romney said. Under the Constitution, state legislatures chose senators. The 17th Amendment, ratified in 1913, stipulated that senators be elected by popular vote.

    Romney said he sees that as contributing to “an unaccountable government, an unaccountable bureaucracy.”

    Because U.S. Supreme Court justices are approved by the Senate, the states have lost influence over the court with the passage of the 17th Amendment, he said.

    There are two ways for amendments to be proposed: Congress can do so with a vote of two-thirds of its members. An amendment would need to be ratified by three-quarters of the states, or 38 of the 50 states.

    An alternative method — the one favored by Romney’s organization — would be for representatives of the states to get together at a convention. Again, two-thirds of them would need to approve the proposed amendment in order for it to go before the states. If three-quarters of the states ratify the proposal, it becomes an amendment to the Constitution.

    The Convention of the States Project proposes amendments that would limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, place fiscal constraints on Washington, and term limits for members of Congress. “It’s not an end-all, be-all solution to our problems,” Romney cautioned.

    Members of the Arizona legislature, including District 5 State Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, have been trying to get the legislature to pass a resolution for Arizona to participate in such a convention. Those efforts have been stymied by Senate President Andy Biggs, who reportedly fears a runaway or rogue convention, with delegates rewriting the Constitution.

    Romney said those fears are unfounded. A runway convention “is simply not possible,” he said, because it takes 38 states to ratify changes to the Constitution.

    “It’s a safe process,” Romney said.

    “This is a years-long process,” Romney said. “I believe the convention is inevitable.”

    Congress would have no role in the convention, other than selecting the time and place for the meeting, and determining how amendments would be ratified. There are two options for ratification: Either by state legislatures, or by each state holding a convention for ratification, Romney said.

    In terms of any changes that may be made, “we might get it right, we might not get it right, but we’ve got to try,” Romney declared. Any problems can be fixed by holding a subsequent convention, he said.

    Finally the tyranny of popularly elected Senators will be behind us. Just imagine what the world would look like without the absurdity of have people directly vote for their Senators, a barbaric act that somehow results in the states losing their influence over the Supreme Court. Just imagine how much better it could be:

    National Constitution Center
    What would the Senate look like in 2015 without the 17th Amendment?
    By Scott Bomboy

    April 8, 2015 10:15 AM

    It’s the 102nd anniversary of the 17th Amendment, leading us to consider what today’s U.S. Senate would look like if its members weren’t directly elected by voters.

    The answer is simple: It would be probably be much more controlled by the Republicans, with a good chance that it could be a filibuster-proof majority and a chance it could be veto-proof.

    Prior to 1913, when the 17th Amendment was ratified, state legislatures elected two U.S. senators to represent them in Congress.

    Members in each state House and each state Senate, in most cases, would meet separately to pick a candidate as its representative in the U.S. Senate.

    If the two caucuses picked the same person, the race was over and that person was sent to the U.S. Senate. (The elections were staggered so only one senator was chosen every two or four years.) But if different candidates were preferred for that one U.S. Senate seat, the legislatures met in a combined session until they could agree on a selection.

    This indirect selection method had its flaws. Deadlocks could prevent a state from sending someone to Congress. Only 2 percent of the races ended in a deadlock–but these deadlocks were devastating, because they prevented patronage jobs from being appointed.

    Jumping forward 102 years, Constitution Daily looked at the current composition of state legislatures to see how the U.S. Senate would look if it reflected how Democrats and Republicans currently control state Houses and Senates.

    Using data from the National Conference of State Legislatures for 2015, Republicans control 30 state legislatures and 8 legislatures are split. So that would roughly translate to 64 seats for the GOP in the current Senate (under the old pre-17th Amendment rules). That also would put the Republicans four votes over a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority and within three seats of a 67-vote supermajority needed to override a presidential veto.

    The amendment ratified 102 years ago still has its critics, particularly among states’ rights advocates. Repeal proponents have pointed to several benefits. Foremost, it gives state governments a direct voice in the federal government and budgeting process, something proponents believe reflect the desire of the Founding Fathers for states to have a dynamic role in Washington.

    The anti-17th Amendment forces would need 38 states to ratify a repeal amendment, which is no small task, since two-thirds of Congress or the states would need to agree to offer one up for ratification votes.

    On top of these challenges, perhaps the most significant factor preventing repeal would be what helped the amendment pass in the first place–the idea that the direct election of senators, giving power to the people rather than the states, is the most democratic approach.

    Well that was a rather unpleasant daydream: if the people weren’t electing the Senate, a GOP veto-proof Senate majority is what we could expect today. Granted, if the systemic gerrymandering that’s given the GOP a massive outsized electoral advantage is ever corrected, or flipped in the Democrats’ favor, we could just as easily see the Senate becoming a permanent Democratic veto-proof majority. A big year for the Democrats in 2020, the next redistricting year and a presidential election year which always helps the Democrats, could easily reverse the GOP’s huge 2010 Tea Party-fueled redistricting advantage scored during after the Tea Party’s triumphant entrance into electoral politics.

    So, given that the US’s demographic trends aren’t exactly in the GOP’s favor in the long run, you almost have to wonder why it is that the right-wing would want to synchronize the US Senate with the parties in control of state legislatures, which is what would happen if the 17th Amendment was repealed: the state and federal governments would become increasingly synchronized. Whether or not that’s a helpful state of affairs is highly circumstantial. It depends on who gets elected at the state levels. But for the GOP, and especially its Tea Party wing, dabbling with those kinds of changes seems like a flirtation with a Pyrrhic victory.

    And that’s not the only concern. If repealing the 17th amendment is supposed to happen via a Constitutional Convention, that opens up a whole host of other risks, like a “run away” convention that gets taken over by left-wing forced. It’s a possibility that representatives from both the John Birch Society and Eagle Forum both warned against in a recent piece in The New American. Yes, the John Birch Society has long been a foe of the Constitutional Convention, although it also hates the 17th Amendment. So the JBS would definitely love to repeal the 17th Amendment. tIt just doesn’t want to open the “Con-Con” can of worms:

    The New American
    Battle Over Constitutional Convention Rages in Texas

    Written by Alex Newman
    Friday, 20 March 2015

    The controversial national effort to have states call for an Article V Convention, which critics say could put the existing Constitution at risk, is hard at work in Texas, where the battle over a possible constitutional convention has been raging in recent weeks. With multiple bills currently being considered in the Texas legislature that could put the state on record as applying for a con-con, conservative and constitutionalist activists have also been working hard to educate lawmakers on the dangers — as well as viable solutions to rein in the increasingly lawless federal government in a manner that would not jeopardize the Constitution.

    The pro-con-con side, led by the group Convention of the States, in addition to furiously lobbying the legislature, has been demonizing opponents of the plan.

    When not verbally disparaging opponents, many supporters of a con-con suggested that amending the Constitution was urgent, possibly the only remaining hope for reining in a federal government that has grown completely out of control and now threatens the nation itself. Critics, meanwhile, portrayed an Article V Convention as the potential final nail in the coffin for America’s existing constitutional system, arguing that a con-con may well undo the Constitution and the liberties it protects.

    So far, despite the potentially historic consequences, the press in Texas has largely ignored the ongoing showdown in the Lone Star State and the resolutions — HJR 77, HJR 78, and HJR 79 — that would advance it. At least one media outlet, though, did cover the raging debate taking place. In an article in Texas Monthly headlined “Texas Eagle Forum, John Birch Society Are Right,” writer R.G. Ratcliffe said he agreed with the arguments by the two of the leading conservative organizations fighting against an Article V convention. “The Eagle Forum and the John Birch Society are correct,” the writer opined, saying that forcing Congress to call a con-con is a “dangerous idea” that could “destroy one of the best national charters” that was ever written — the U.S. Constitution. “There is no way to guarantee a constitutional convention will be limited to any one topic of the right or the left.”

    Ratcliffe also cited comments made by Texas Eagle Forum past-President Pat Carlson, who explained that there is nothing in the Constitution describing how a convention would work. “To say you’re just nudging Congress is very dangerous,” Carlson said, adding that Congress would likely set the rules for the convention in such a way as to lead to changing the Constitution. “Don’t forget, there are liberal groups out there just waiting to jump in and pass their own stuff.” Indeed, as The New American has reported, there are a number of far-left anti-liberty forces also hoping to amend the Constitution with a con-con to restrict the rights guaranteed under the First and Second Amendments, among others.

    Ratcliffe couldn’t agree more with the opponents, saying that Carlson and others were “completely correct.” “The supporters are operating on an almost religious faith that the convention would go exactly as they want and be as limited as they want,” Ratcliffe wrote in his analysis. Indeed, statist activists have been vocal about hoping to change the Constitution to restrict election-related speech and spending by overturning the Citizens United decision and undoing the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment.

    Nonetheless, in the article, Ratcliffe did ably set out the claims of the con-con advocates. He quoted State Representative Paul Workman, who has been promoting his resolution calling for a convention to rein in federal spending: “Congressional leaders and presidents of both major political parties have presided over the explosion of federal debt to an astounding $18 trillion.” Workman added, “Congress has shown no serious desire to rein in its spending.” Other proponents of a con-con claimed a convention was necessary because the U.S. Supreme Court is the “biggest enemy of the people of the United States,” imposing abortion, sodomy, homosexual “marriage,” atheism in schools, and other policies. “This social change being ramrodded on us by the Supreme Court has got to stop,” witness Allen Adkins of Lubbock testified.

    It was not clear how a con-con aimed at balancing the federal budget would rein in the out-of-control Supreme Court.

    In recent weeks, there have been several state House committee hearings on an Article V convention, overseen by Republican supporters of the measure. Ironically, despite the fact that the Texas Republican Party passed a resolution several months ago officially opposing a constitutional convention, Democrats on the committee were opposed to a con-con, while at least some of the GOP lawmakers were supportive. In fact, multiple sources who spoke with The New American suggested that the committee leadership was biased against critics of the con-con.

    Throughout the hearings, though, passionate activists warned that, among other concerns, an Article V Convention to propose amendments to the Constitution could end up re-writing the entire document, or at least seriously damaging it. That could cement and even legitimize some or all of the federal government’s increasingly lawless power grabs, making a return to the principles of liberty even harder to achieve. Critics of the Article V effort also noted that the problem is not the Constitution — it is the fact that politicians in Washington, D.C., who swore to uphold it consistently trample it. Adding a balanced-budget amendment would hardly solve that problem, and opponents of calling a convention argue, citing legal scholars on both sides of the political spectrum, that the risks to the Constitution are simply too great.

    Prominent Texas activist Barbara Harless, founder of the liberty-minded grassroots alliance dubbed the Battle Over Constitutional Convention Rages in Texas, traveled to the capitol in Austin this week with 10 others to meet with legislators on various issues, including the con-con measures. In her testimony against an Article V convention during the committee hearing, Harless explained that the only way to actually achieve a real balanced budget — which she strongly supports — was by getting rid of the IRS, the 16th Amendment, and the privately owned Federal Reserve System, while returning to adherence to the Constitution. The federal government should also return to performing only constitutionally authorized functions to slash spending, balance the budget, and restore respect for the rule of law.

    “A con-con is a bad idea because no matter how many good amendments are adopted, they won’t make the first 10 any more enforceable,” Harless told The New American after testifying against the measures. “Why? Because the Constitution is just a piece of paper without the people’s enforcement. Put another way; if just half of the Americans that understand the principles in the 200-page NFL rule book, also understood the principles in the U.S. Constitution — the one that fits in your shirt pocket — America would look totally different. That’s the America I want to see, the one where the Constitution is enforced, again. Then we can look to amend the Constitution.”

    The people of Texas and their elected officials should also say no to a con-con, Harless added, “because each of the states have their own independent power to enforce the constitution we have now — it’s called the 10th Amendment.” Several bills dealing with the 10th Amendment are, ironically, sitting in the same committee currently exploring the Article V measures to make Congress call a convention. Harless said restoring and using provisions in the existing Constitution would be a better route to restoring the Republic and reining in the feds. Americans must know about the Constitution and what it says, though, to be able to restore and enforce it.

    Part of her concern centered on who the delegates to a potential con-con would be. “How can I have confidence that my state officials will grow a spine in a convention of tyrants?” she asked. “But more to the point, why would I want my legislators to dilute their voice in a much larger convention, when they have the power they need to enforce the 10th Amendment now, which is already in the Constitution?” Harless also pointed out that she obtained the 1933 ratifying convention rules and journal from the state Legislative Reference Library. The picture it paints is bleak. “Here’s the dismal conclusion: Congress could overrule any state policy on the selection of delegates or the convention process itself,” she said. “The 1933 Texas rules said so, in the last section, section 17.”

    Larry Greenley, as director of missions for The John Birch Society, explained last month in an in-depth article for this magazine that there are numerous key arguments against a con-con that have remained largely unaddressed by supporters of the effort. In the piece, entitled “The Solution is the Constitution, Not Article V,” Greenley explained that a con-con would risk harmful changes to the Constitution that “very well could end our heritage of freedom and prosperity.” The Constitution, he wrote, is not the problem — the fact that politicians ignore it and the American people allow it to be trampled on is the problem. As such, the solution is not to change the Constitution, but to educate Americans to ensure that it is enforced as written. Greenley also said that all Article V Conventions have the inherent power to become runaway conventions, potentially putting the entire Constitution in peril. It would allow powerful special interests to revise the Constitution in their favor, too, he added.

    “What is absolutely necessary to turn this situation around is a large-scale, grassroots education campaign on the practical aspects of how the Constitution already limits the power of the federal government,” Greenley concluded. “In order to restore our freedom, an informed electorate must be created that will roll back the power of the special interests by electing federal and state representatives who will enforce the Constitution as originally intended.” A con-con, on the other hand, has the very real potential to destroy or undermine that same Constitution, putting all Americans’ rights in jeopardy.

    As we can see, it’s not that there’s any disagreement amongst the far-right for a dramatic reinterpretation of the constitution. But from the perspective of some activists, like Texas activist Barbara Harless, there’s no need for any actual amendments to the constitution to allow for those dramatic changes. They just need to convince everyone to use legal gimmicks like the “tenther” interpretation of the 10 Amendment that nullifies almost everything the federal government does. Just to that instead! No risk of a “Con-Con” that lets the liberals run wild.

    Of course, it’s possible that the risk a liberal “Con-Con gone wild” situation is basically zero given the veto-proof status of the Senate that the GOP would get today if we did indeed repeal the 17th Amendment due to the overwhelming number of state legislatures controlled by the GOP. Still, it’s a nice thought. So long Citizens United!

    So while there’s clearly a significant Tea Party presence in the pro-repeal the 17th movement, there are some significant opponents too. That said, if this is one of those “if there’s a will, there’s a way” situation, than the pro-repeal people are probably going to prevail. Why? Because when you look at some of the other allies of the ‘Seventeenther movement, it’s pretty clear that they’ll be able to afford a lot of will.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 22, 2015, 10:45 pm
  8. Back during the early days of the Bundy Ranch Sovereign Citizen Rebellion of 2014, before Cliven Bundy turned himself into political kryptonite, it was pretty clear which side Ron and Rand Paul were going to be on in this fight. Especially after they ‘rode to the rescue’:

    The Washington Times
    Rand and Ron Paul ride to the rescue for Bundy in Nevada standoff with feds

    By Phillip Swarts – The Washington Times – Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    Defiant Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy received some key but qualified support in his still-unresolved standoff with the Obama administration.

    Libertarian icons ex-Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and his son, Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, both came out with critical comments on the federal government’s handling of the land dispute, while the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association broke its silence on the dispute Wednesday with harsh words of its own for the feds.

    The NCA’s careful statement noted the group “does not condone actions that are outside the law, in which citizens take the law into their own hands,” but it noted that Mr. Bundy and his family were provoked by the policy of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

    “Ranchers such as Mr. Bundy have found themselves with their backs against the wall as, increasingly, federal regulations have infringed on their public land grazing rights and the multiple-use management principle,” the association said. “This is not only devastating to individual ranching families; it is also causing rural communities in the West to wither on the vine.”

    The senior Mr. Paul also criticized what he said was overkill in the armed confrontation that nearly led to violence before the BLM stood down over the weekend.

    “They may come back with a lot more force, like they did at Waco with the Davidians,” the senior Mr. Paul said on Fox News, referencing the 1993 Branch Davidian standoff in Texas that left nearly 100 people dead.

    His son, Rand Paul, became one of the first of the 2016 contenders to weigh in on the dispute, criticizing the heavy federal enforcement array in the confrontation.

    “The federal government shouldn’t violate the law, nor should we have 48 federal agencies carrying weapons and having SWAT teams,” Mr. Paul said on a Kentucky radio station.

    The younger Mr. Paul also appealed for the Bundy family, which does not recognize the federal government’s jurisdiction over the disputed lands, to seek redress nonviolently.

    “I hope it’ll go through a court,” he said “But if it were in a court, I would be siding and wanting to say that, look, the states and the individuals in the state should own these lands.”

    So that was April of last year, when standing with Cliven was the thing to do. It was also before Cliven Bundy’s comments on “the negro”, at which point everyone, including Rand, suddenly headed for the hills.

    But time heals all wounds. Or something. Either way, look who’s back, standing with Rand while Rand talks about how the Federal government shouldn’t be involved in any land management at all:

    CNN
    With Cliven Bundy listening, Rand Paul jabs BLM in Nevada

    By Ashley Killough

    Updated 7:09 AM ET, Tue June 30, 2015

    Mesquite, Nevada (CNN) Rand Paul argued Monday that public lands run by the federal government should be handed over to state or local control, making a crowd-pleasing rally cry in Nevada where 67% of the state is overseen by the Bureau of Land Management.

    Sitting in that audience was Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who became a national figure last year after staging a standoff with the feds over a BLM dispute.

    “I’d either sell or turn over all the land management to the states,” Paul, a Republican presidential candidate and senator from Kentucky, said, landing him big applause at a campaign event. “I don’t think the federal government needs to be involved.”

    On the third leg of a four-stop tour across the early caucus state, Paul made his comments at the Eureka casino in Mesquite in Southeast Nevada — not far from Bundy’s home.

    Paul said Washington has become a “bully” that often goes too far in the regulation of both public and private land.

    “You run into problems now with the federal government being, you know, this bully — this big huge government bully,” he continued. “You would have less of that if you had more local ownership of the land. State ownership would be better, but even better would be private ownership.”

    Like many Republicans, Paul initially supported Bundy’s cause last year but joined a conservative chorus that quickly repudiated the rancher for making racist comments.

    The two reportedly met at Monday’s event in Mesquite, but Paul and his campaign declined to answer questions from reporters about Bundy at a rally later Monday in Las Vegas.

    “In general, I think we’re in tune with each other,” Bundy told the Associated Press. “I don’t think we need to ask Washington, D.C. for this land. It’s our land.”

    Paul, in his speech Monday in Mesquite, railed against government regulations of private property as well and listed anecdotal stories of what he considered extensive federal overreach. The senator urged the audience to fight back — but made sure to note that it should be done legally.

    “It is time that we stand up — in a legal fashion — but stand up and let’s say ‘enough is enough’ and let’s elect people who will get the government off our back,” he said.

    At issue recently have been debates over whether the greater sage grouse — a type of bird — should be listed as an endangered species, a move that would significantly affect the regulation of land along the California-Nevada border. The lesser prairie chicken has also been subject to debate.

    Paul suggested that the private ownership of more land would help save some species.

    “Sometimes I’ll say flippantly if you sold the chicken to somebody, there’d be plenty of them,” he said. “When things are owned, there’s lots of cows. Cows are not endangered. Neither are chickens, really. The sage brush grouse would probably be less likely to be endangered if somebody owned it and allowed it to reproduce. So there are ways of handling it.

    Well, at least Rand has a solution for endangered species: factory farm them:


    “Sometimes I’ll say flippantly if you sold the chicken to somebody, there’d be plenty of them,” he said. “When things are owned, there’s lots of cows. Cows are not endangered. Neither are chickens, really. The sage brush grouse would probably be less likely to be endangered if somebody owned it and allowed it to reproduce. So there are ways of handling it.

    Good luck being delicious sage brush grouse! You’re going to need it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 30, 2015, 9:13 am
  9. Wow, that Bundy endorsement must carry quite a bit of weight in the Nevada GOP primaries: It turns out Rand Paul didn’t just hold a campaign event near Bundy Ranch which was attended by Bundy. Rand had a private 45 minute meeting with him after the event:

    Politico
    Rand Paul meets with rogue rancher Cliven Bundy

    By Adam B. Lerner

    6/30/15 7:40 AM EDT

    Updated 6/30/15 8:01 PM EDT

    Rand Paul met privately with Cliven Bundy on Monday, the Nevada rancher and anti-government activist told POLITICO.

    The encounter came after Bundy attended an event for the Kentucky senator’s presidential campaign at the Eureka Casino in Mesquite, Nevada. When the larger group dispersed, Bundy said, he was escorted by Paul’s aides to a back room where he and the Republican 2016 contender spoke for approximately 45 minutes. (“There were no scheduled meetings at Senator Paul’s stop in Mesquite. He spoke to many people who came to this public event, none for 45 minutes and none planned,” Paul spokesman Sergio Gor said.)

    The Nevada rancher said that he had expected only to have an opportunity to shake hands with Paul and make small-talk. He was surprised when campaign aides found a private room and allowed Bundy, his wife and son to speak with the candidate for the better part of an hour.

    According to Bundy, the two mainly discussed federal land oversight and states’ rights, in addition to education policy — a theme Paul brought up in his speech.

    “I don’t think he really understood how land rights really work in the western United States,” Bundy said. “I was happy to be able to sort of teach him.”

    Bundy said that in their private meeting, Paul brought up the work of the American Lands Council, which raises money from groups like the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity to wrestle land from the federal government and return it to the states via negotiations, legislation and litigation.

    “I disagree with that philosophy,” Bundy said of the ALC’s legalistic approach. “My stand is we are already a sovereign state. The federal government doesn’t need to turn this land back to us. It’s already state land.”

    “I don’t want to sell this land to private ownership, because I believe I already have stewardship.” He added, “I educated Rand on that point,” and said that the candidate seemed sympathetic to his point of view.

    “I don’t claim ownership,” Bundy said. “I claim rights.”

    As for Bundy, he said he has not yet made up his mind about who he will support in 2016. He said that he’s focused on which national politicians are most keen to return power to the states and local communities and said that, in their private meeting, Paul seemed keen to do so.

    But Democrats, even before word of the private meeting surfaced, attacked Paul for what was first reported as a chance encounter. The Democratic National Committee sent an email tosupporters arguing that Paul isn’t as sensitive to African-American issues as he says.

    Michael Tyler, the group’s director of African-American Media, wrote, “Remember Rand Paul preaching of broadening the Republican Party’s tent to include communities they typically ignore? Remember Rand Paul claiming he was the perfect candidate to spearhead this outreach? Go ahead and throw that idea out the window.”

    “Rand Paul spent his day in Nevada kissing the ring of Cliven Bundy,” Tyler added. “The Cliven Bundy who is a self-avowed expert on ‘the negro.’”

    Yes, for 45 minutes, Rand and Cliven discussed land rights and education policy. And, interestingly, given the backing Cliven Bundy got from Koch-backed groups interested in seizing access to federal lands, Cliven Bundy and Rand Paul don’t see eye to eye on the land rights. Rand supports the Koch/ALEC-backed American Lands Council (ALC) which is trying to hand over control of federal lands to states (presumably to privatize them), where as Cliven doesn’t want to seem so keen on the big moneyed privatization approach:


    “I disagree with that philosophy,” Bundy said of the ALC’s legalistic approach. “My stand is we are already a sovereign state. The federal government doesn’t need to turn this land back to us. It’s already state land.”

    “I don’t want to sell this land to private ownership, because I believe I already have stewardship.” He added, “I educated Rand on that point,” and said that the candidate seemed sympathetic to his point of view.

    “I don’t claim ownership,” Bundy said. “I claim rights.”

    As for Bundy, he said he has not yet made up his mind about who he will support in 2016. He said that he’s focused on which national politicians are most keen to return power to the states and local communities and said that, in their private meeting, Paul seemed keen to do so.

    So it was appears that Rand is too much of a big money corporatist for Cliven Bundy and sort of struck out in his attempt to clinch the Sovereign Citizen vote.

    At least, he didn’t get a clear, clean Bundy Ranch endorsement, and when you set up a campaign event nearby the Bundy Ranch and have a special, private 45 minute meeting with Cliven himself, it’s pretty obvious that the Bundy Ranch endorsement is the prize you have your eyes on. And now the rest of the GOP knows that the Bundy Ranch endorsement is still up for grabs. Ouch.

    Well, that’s 45 minutes neither Rand nor Cliven are ever getting back. At least their discussion of education policy must have been interesting.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 30, 2015, 6:37 pm
  10. It looks like the popular right-wing/anarchist meme “taxation = theft” is about to get an upgrade. You can thank Rand for this one:

    Salon
    Rand Paul, dorm room philosopher: Why his “slavery” nonsense is so outrageous
    Paying taxes makes you a slave, says a grown man running for the most powerful office in the world

    Simon Maloy
    Tuesday, Jul 7, 2015 10:59 AM CST

    Presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul has a tax plan he’d like to sell you on. The plan, which would put in place a 14.5 percent flat tax, was crafted with the input of some of the wrongest people in the conservative economic policy world, and it would redistribute wealth up the economic ladder while tossing a bone or two to the people at the bottom. But Rand is proud of it nonetheless, mainly because he thinks it’s less slavery-like than your average tax scheme.

    Here’s what Paul said last week about taxation and “freedom,” as reported by BuzzFeed:

    “Now you can have some government, we all need government,” the Kentucky senator said while discussing Thomas Paine and the role of government at the local public library. “Thomas Paine said that government is a necessary evil. What did he mean by that?”

    Paul said he believes that “you have to give up some of your liberty to have government,” saying he was “for some government.”

    “I’m for paying some taxes,” continued Paul. “But if we tax you at 100% then you’ve got zero percent liberty. If we tax you at 50% you are half slave, half free. I frankly would like to see you a little freer and a little more money remaining in your communities so you can create jobs. It’s a debate we need to have.”

    That was his big pitch – The Rand Paul tax plan: Only 14.5 percent slavery!

    This is a dumb argument. And it’s upsetting to hear this dumb argument coming from someone who is trying to be president, but will go back to writing and approving legislation if/when that doesn’t work out. Taxation is not tantamount to slavery. The only thing that’s comparable to slavery is actual slavery. You might not like it that a portion of your paycheck is sent to the feds and your state government, and you may disagree with how your tax dollars are spent, but that is in no way comparable to being kept in bondage and having the fruits of your labor stolen from you.

    Any way you look at this argument, it’s bad. When you’ve staked out the position that your effective tax rate is how you measure one’s slave status, then you’re arguing that a progressive tax structure means rich people are less free than the lucky poor folks who would see a smaller percentage of their income go to the government. By this reading, a hedge fund billionaire who moves his assets offshore to avoid paying taxes is basically Frederick Douglass. And when you refer to something as slavery, how can you then make the case that there is an acceptable threshold for it? Why should 14.5 percent slavery be any more tolerable than 100 percent slavery?

    It gets even worse when you remember that Rand Paul is trying to make inroads with black voters and repair his party’s abysmally bad reputation with African-Americans. Rand obviously understands at a certain level that slavery was a uniquely horrific crime, the memory of which still haunts our politics. After the shootings in Charleston last month, called for the Confederate flag to be removed from grounds of the South Carolina Capitol because “to every African-American in the country it’s a symbolism of slavery to them and now it’s a symbol of murder to this young man.” Here we are, just a couple of weeks later, and he’s comparing the grotesque human rights violations represented by that flag to the banal act of filing your annual tax return.

    And this isn’t Rand Paul’s first foray into comparing policies he disagrees with to slavery. In 2011, during a Senate hearing, he said that a “right to healthcare” would, in effect, make slaves out of doctors such as himself:

    With regard to the idea whether or not you have a right to health care you have to realize what that implies. I am a physician. You have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery. You are going to enslave not only me but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants, the nurses. … You are basically saying you believe in slavery.

    On the flip side of the “slavery” argument, Paul argued earlier this year that the vaccination of children was “an issue of freedom,” essentially saying that parents should be free to have their kids be vectors for the communication of dangerous disease. (Before he was elected to the Senate, Paul went on Alex Jones’ radio show and warned that mandatory vaccinations were a precursor to martial law.)

    Well that presumably won’t be helping Rand with his minority outreach efforts.
    But how about his other targeted demographic: the ‘Bundy ranch’ voter. Rand didn’t recently spend 45 minutes privately meeting with Cliven Bundy for nothing. He clearly wants the votes of the sovereign citizen vote, and why not? He’s a natural fit. But, while the ‘Bundy rancher’ voters no doubt enjoy hearing anything that equates taxation with some sort of horrible system of abuse, let’s not forget that, according to Cliven Bundy, life under slavery wasn’t so bad (it’s an even more ironic view point than you might imagine). Well that sure complicates things for poor Rand!

    It’s all a reminder that running as the ‘freedom’ guy isn’t as easy as one might think given the often conflicting nature of rights vs freedoms. Especially when most of your ‘pro-freedom’ suggestions mostly just end up restricting the rights and freedoms people tend to value most due to all of those awesome new economic ‘freedoms’ that don’t simply guarantee the freedom to die in a ditch without any medical treatment, but actually facilitate it.

    Yes, running and winning as the ‘freedom to die in a ditch’ guy isn’t easy. That said, it’s not impossible either. You just need to find the right whistle that can distort your twisted tune so that it’s tolerable enough to not provoke outrage and confusing enough so people don’t realize you’re championing their freedom to die in a ditch. Dog-whistles are recommended.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 8, 2015, 2:02 pm
  11. Isn’t this fun: With Donald Trump surging into the top spot in the national polls in the 2016 GOP presidential primary following his repeated assertions that undocumented Mexican immigrants are largely “rapists” and murderers, Arizona GOP Senator Jeff Flake is calling for a Arizona Tea Party group to call off its event in Phoenix featuring Trump. According to Flake, “I don’t think that [Trump’s] views are reflective of the party, particularly in Arizona, a border state.” And he wasn’t even being sarcastic. LOL:

    TPM Livewire
    GOP Sen. Calls For Ariz. Local Party To Pull Sponsorship Of Trump Event

    By Caitlin MacNeal
    Published July 10, 2015, 7:00 AM EDT

    Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) on Thursday called on the local Republican party in Maricopa County, Ariz., to pull its sponsorship of a campaign event for Donald Trump due to his recent comments about Mexican immigrants.

    “As an elected official and as a Republican, I’m not excited about this, to say the least,” Flake told the Washington Post. “I don’t think that [Trump’s] views are reflective of the party, particularly in Arizona, a border state.”

    Flake said that Trump’s comments calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and drug dealers were “ill-informed” and “not accurate.”

    The senator was also troubled by Trump’s recent remark that he wasn’t sure whether President Obama was born in the U.S.

    “It’s not just on the immigration side. Donald Trump is just about the last unapologetic birther in the country,” Flake told the Post.

    Trump is set to appear at a Saturday campaign event alongside conservative Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who Flake noted is also an “unapologetic birther.”

    Following Flake’s comments, Tyler Bowyer, the chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Party, issued a statement saying that the party is “thrilled” to play host to Trump and blasting Flake for criticizing a fellow Republican.

    Well, if Senator Flake’s assessment of the Arizona GOP is correct, the party must have changed quite a bit in recent years. For instance, former governor Jan Brewer, who just left office in January, commented that Trump’s ‘rapist’ remarks were merely “telling it like it really, truly is”. Boy how times apparently change in less than six months:

    TPM Livewire
    Brewer On Trump’s ‘Rapists’ Remark: He’s ‘Telling It Like It Really, Truly Is’

    By Brendan James
    Published July 10, 2015, 1:44 PM EDT

    Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) defended Donald Trump’s remarks calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and killers on Thursday, saying that the presidential candidate and ex-reality TV star was simply dropping a truth bomb.

    “I believe that Mr. Trump is kind of telling it like it really, truly is,” Brewer said on “CNN Tonight,” calling herself the governor of the “gateway of illegal immigration.”

    She went on to echo Trump’s repeated statements calling immigrants, “rapists, killers and drug dealers.”

    “I think that the people of Arizona realize that we picked up the tab for the majority of the violence that comes across our border in regards to the drug cartels, the smugglers, the drop houses,” she said.

    “It has been horrendous,” Brewer added. “I think everybody knows that he’s right.”

    In other news, Trump’s rally in Phoenix had to be moved to a larger venue and is now at the Phoenix Convention Center.

    Also, someone needs to reset a certain unpleasant clock.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 11, 2015, 3:03 pm
  12. Jade Helm, the urban warfare military exercise that drove the far right insane over the past few months, is finally here!

    So perhaps it’s worth taking a look back at the collective Jade Helm madness. A madness that, according to polls back in May, infected almost half of likely US voters according to Rasmussen about a third of likely Republican voters according to the PPP. A madness brought to you in part by Alex Jones & Friends:

    Houston Chronicle
    Almost half of U.S. voters are concerned with Jade Helm – but why?

    Dylan Baddour, Updated 5:22 pm, Thursday, May 14, 2015

    Recent polls show that worries over an upcoming military drill in Texas and other southwestern state are no fringe issue.

    Since March, Jade Helm has shot up from the Internet backwoods to national newscasts, and the country scorned, even mocked Texans (and their leader) who cried foul at the military’s special warfare drill scheduled for the Lone Star State.

    Now a Rasmussen poll finds almost half of likely U.S. voters are “concerned that the government will use U.S. military training operations to impose greater control over some states,” and numbers from Public Policy Polling show about a third of likely Republican voters think “the government is trying to take over Texas.”

    That’s impressive reach for a notion with humble beginnings.

    When Alex Jonesintroduced Jade Helm to the Internet in late March, it was just another day in the newsroom for the conspiracy-minded alternative Texas media personality. He’s hollered warnings of creeping martial law and government conspiracies for about two decades, but this time his notions really caught on, apparently.

    “The federal government is here ready to fight the American people,” Jones said in an interview. “They want to keep denying that.”

    If there were any spokesperson for the Americans who think martial law is on the way, it would be Jones, who hosts and produces the daily TV/radio/Internet broadcast InfoWars. So we reached out to understand what troubled him.

    “We never said this is an imminent actual martial law takeover,” Jones said. “This is another step in a long term program to acclimate the public to military presence in public society. Look at militarization of police, NSA spying and military drills in urban areas like we’re at war. It’s a slow total takeover of society by the corporate special interests who control the military.”

    He made repeated reference to former general and President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1961 televised farewell address, when the once-supreme commander of allied forces in Europe said, “In the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence whether sought or unsought by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

    And Jones said he thought characteristically well-armed right-wingers would be the primary resistance for the federal government to overcome in its hypothetical conquest.

    National media swiftly put down the notion that the U.S. military posed a threat to Americans, but others doubting his views is nothing new for Jones. He unapologetically espouses a world view that is, mildly put, not mainstream. In daily broadcasts since the mid-’90s, he’s told a story where a community of super-wealthy business elites with strings to pull in the U.S. government author staged catastrophes like the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the 9/11 attacks and the Sandy Hook shooting in a ploy to manipulate the American people.

    Jones is divisive, but people follow him—more than 300,000 on Twitter. The Jade Helm episode proves his influence.

    A member of his staff was tipped to a now widely-circulated military document describing Jade Helm with Texas labeled a “hostile” territory, and Jones reported it under the headline “feds preparing to invade Texas.” The story resonated in the blogosphere. The next week military publications jumped in to refute rumors, and the story caught the attention of the Houston Chronicle, VICE News and the Washington Post.

    But it really hit the big time when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, reacting to public concern, ordered the Texas military to keep an eye on the U.S. military when it drilled in the state. Then Jade Helm graced headlines and broadcasts in all the biggest publications.

    Recent polling by groups with distinct political leanings shows concerns raised on Jones’ show have become moderately mainstream.

    Of course, opinions vary greatly even amongst the concerned. When Army Special Operations sent a spokesman to quell the Jade Helm fears in Bastrop last month, residents’ suspicions ranged from troops trespassing on private property to mass gun confiscations and the start of military rule. What united them all was a marked distrust.

    He had a handful of documentation and internet videos to justify his aggressive suspicion of the military, many of which are widely circulated through the online community that is troubled by Jade Helm.

    For example, a Department of Defense website describes a large program to prepare for mass civil unrest by studying the social dynamics of activist groups. It was conceived following the financial calamities of 2008, and proves that a worst-case scenario has crossed official minds. The program, called the Minerva Initiative, also conflates activists with militants, the Guardian reports.

    Then there’s a 326 military document called “Internment and Resettlement Operations,” which describes protocol for relocating populations in response to emergencies or conflicts. It mostly references situations of foreign wars but makes limited mention of plans for a domestic operation.

    Jones also alleged the DOD had been putting thought in how to take on the right wing. Indeed numerous government documents do show official concern with threats from the far right, which encompasses groups like the Tea Party, sovereign citizens and the Patriot Movement.

    In February the DOD released an assessment of threats from self-proclaimed sovereign citizens, and said they expected the threat to grow. A 2009 FBI internal memo obtained by the Wall Street Journal showed the Department of Homeland Security considered veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan likely security threats.

    Jones also pointed to news reports that an Indiana sheriff said his office needed military hand-me-down mine-resistant vehicles because “you have a lot of people who are coming out of the military that have the ability and knowledge to build [improvised explosive devices] and to defeat law enforcement techniques.”

    In a citizen-shot video, a sheriff’s deputy in Washington says the department needs the same vehicles because there are “a lot of constitutionalists and a lot of people that stockpile weapons.” Another shows National Guard in California practicing heavy crowd control on a group of role-players shouting right-wing rhetoric like “I’m a sovereign citizen.”

    And a widely-circulated thought experiment written by a retired Army colonel, reported by Forbes and published in the Small Wars journal tells how the Pentagon would put down a right-wing rebellion that takes over a South Carolina city with the support of local officials.

    Both the Pentagon and the White House have spoken to Jade Helm concerns, expressing disbelief with the impressive spread of fearful notions. Army officials have repeated that the exercise is standard military training, set apart only by its “size and scope.” The Washington Post has reported that many other military drills have happened off-base in the United States.

    But Jones said all of those drills bother him also. He said Eisenhower wouldn’t have liked it. And InfoWars continues to feed the blogosphere with alarming Jade Helm coverage as more and more official voices join the conversation. Apparently, big media coverage of the Texans raising ruckus has not stopped the spread of fear over what will happen when the troops hit Texas on July 15.

    “We need to admit that we’re sliding over the edge into a classic tyranny, and we need to have a real national debate about it,” Jones said. “Our biggest enemy to the republic itself is the military industrial complex and they’ll say all day ‘well you don’t question your military.’ That’s insane; this isn’t Nazi Germany.”

    Wasn’t that fun: The article opens with reports on two polls about a shocking surge in the number of Americans that appear to be genuinely concerned about a military takeover of parts of the US, and then proceeds to interview Alex Jones himself and just let Jones rattle off one reason after another for why everyone should believe him without any meaningful rebuttal.

    And, surprise!, they’re still paranoid and all geared up and ready for monitoring the exercise. Although, according to the Arizona-based group interviewed below that’s operating in Texas, the “Counter Jade Helm” volunteers aren’t actually concerned about martial law and have made sure to purge themselves of any “nut-jobs”. But this nut-job-free group is still going keep a close eye on the exercise. Why? As one of the leaders put it, he’s just got a gut feeling that the government is up to no good:

    Houston Chronicle
    Texans organize ‘Operation Counter Jade Helm’ to keep an eye on the federal troops

    Dylan Baddour, Houston Chronicle Updated 9:26 am, Monday, July 13, 2015

    When the troops land in Texas for Operation Jade Helm next week, someone will be waiting for them.

    Hundreds of people have organized a “Counter Jade Helm” surveillance operation across the Southwestern states and in an effort to keep an eye on the contentious military drill that’s sparked many suspicious of Uncle Sam’s intentions.

    Eric Johnston, a 51-year-old retired firefighter and sheriff’s deputy who lives in Kerrville, is a surveillance team leader in Texas. He’ll coordinate three groups of volunteers, about 20 folks in total, who hope to monitor the SEALs, Green Berets and Air Force Special Ops in Bastrop, Big Spring and Junction when Jade Helm kicks off on July 15. With media prohibited at the drills, the volunteers could be a main source of information for the highly-anticipated seven-state exercise.

    But locations more precise than the towns around which troops will drill remain unknown. For the citizens’ surveillance operation, therein lies the first challenge.

    “If a team member sees two Humvees full of soldiers driving through town, they’re going to follow them,” Johnston said. “And they’re going to radio back their ultimate location.”

    They aren’t worried about martial law, he said, but feel like they can’t trust the government, and want to make sure the Military isn’t under orders to pull anything funny.

    The Texas volunteers are just one regiment of a national effort, organized by 44-year-old former Marine Pete Lanteri, a New Yorker living in Arizona with plenty of experience on civilian border patrols. He founded the Counter Jade Helm Facebook page, with six thousand members, and he made the webpage and forum to which field reports will be uploaded.

    “We’re going to be watching what they do in the public,” he said. “Obviously on a military base they can do whatever they want. But if they’re going to train on public land we have a right as American citizens to watch what they’re doing.”

    He said the volunteer force includes about 200 people, with the largest group in Arizona. Many former military and law enforcement, as well as lifelong civilians have joined the cause.

    Lanteri will coordinate the whole seven-state operation from his home in Phoenix, Ariz., where each field report will be received. Other individuals, like Johnston, will lead the efforts in each state, and others still will oversee the operations in each town where Jade Helm will take place.

    There, volunteers will locate the drill sites and observe. Johnston said there’s a strict no-camouflage policy to avoid the appearance of a more radical group, and they’ll all be unarmed. With binoculars and spotting scopes, they’ll record troop numbers, uniforms and activities.

    One of Johnston’s men, a licensed pilot, even plans on making surveillance flights with his personal aircraft.

    They’ll relay all reports to the headquarters in Arizona. There, Lateri said an intelligence staff, some whom are former Army intelligence workers, will review and verify information before posting it publicly on their website.

    “We just want to see what they’re doing and make that information public,” Johnston said.

    That work seems similar to the task Texas Gov. Greg Abbott gave the Texas State Guard—one of three branches of the state-owned Texas Military—in April when he ordered them to “monitor” the federal troops in Jade Helm. However the Texas Military won’t share the details of their orders. In response to a query, a spokesperson said “we are unable to speak about ongoing operations.”

    Abbott called up the guard after Texans flooded his office with fearful questions and comments about the impending exercise. Most thought Jade Helm was a front for a federal invasion and institution of martial law. Those comments mirrored theories about the drill that circulated online, some of which incorporated suspicions of shuttered Walmarts-turned-death camps, giant underground tunnels and century-old global conspiracies. Those notions drew chuckles from across the country, and eventually landed Jade Helm in the national headlines.

    But the organizers insist the radically conspiracy-minded have been filtered from the surveillance volunteers, and no one among their group fears the imminent opening of concentration camps. Lanteri said he struggles to keep that bloc off his Facebook page.

    “Once I saw the freaking nut-jobs coming out of the woodwork I was spending half my day discrediting what they were posting,” he said. “No nut-jobs will be put in the field.”

    But that’s not to say they aren’t suspicious. Both Johnston and Lanteri think the military is up to something. As far back as November, Johnston heard rumblings of an unprecedented multi-state military drill on web forums he visits for law enforcement training and former military. That was months before the public learned of Jade Helm in March through a military slideshow document with a map that labeled Texas as a “hostile” territory.

    The uproar that followed pushed the U.S. Army Special Operations Command to send a spokesperson to Bastrop to address the fears of concerned citizens. The crowded town hall meeting did little to ease tensions. Johnston was there. He said it made him suspicious, though he doesn’t think Jade Helm is a front for martial law.

    “If the government wants to put troops in place for a takeover, they aren’t going to put them in Bastrop,” he said.

    But he said he doesn’t know what is up, he’s “got a gut feeling.” So he’ll return to Bastrop, 130 miles from his home, next week to personally oversee the start of Operation Counter Jade Helm. With an unknown number of federal troops moving between vaguely-specified Texas locations for two months, volunteer staffing will be tight, but they’ll try to have someone on call at each location at all times.

    The first crew is heading out to Bastrop this weekend. Two volunteers took their summer vacations next week, and will take their trailer homes to the piney town and wait for the Humvees to roll by.

    “Once I saw the freaking nut-jobs coming out of the woodwork I was spending half my day discrediting what they were posting…No nut-jobs will be put in the field.”

    Well that’s a relief. No nut-jobs in the field is certainly a good policy! Although it does raise the question of who all these people are…

    He said the volunteer force includes about 200 people, with the largest group in Arizona. Many former military and law enforcement, as well as lifelong civilians have joined the cause.

    …because when you hear “former military and law enforcement” coming from this particular wing of the far-right, that’s a pretty strong indication that they’re referring to Oath Keepers. And if there are Oath Keepers amongst those 200 volunteer, you have to wonder what exactly is the “nut-job” threshold is considering Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes has already warned about how Jade Helm is intended to vet the military for a future takeover.

    On the other hand, if the worst suspicions really are confirmed and the US military is about to pull a “fast one” and takes over Texas tomorrow, well, we can’t say the Oath Keepers didn’t warn us! Or didn’t try to prepare us by holding classes on how to create citizen defense squads against organized enemies! And for many living in the rural South West, you can’t say the Oath Keepers haven’t have very friendly articles in the local newspaper explaining how they’re just a nice non-partisan civil preparedness group with an unexplained keen interest in teaching civilians how to fend off attacks by organized enemy forces:

    Prescott Valley Tribune
    Oath Keepers preps teams, citizens for natural or manmade disasters

    Salina Sialega
    Special to the Tribune
    6/17/2015 6:00:00 AM

    Oath Keepers is a nationwide non-partisan association that has Community Preparedness Teams (CPT) whose members work to get trained and ready to help in times of disaster to individual communities. In addition, the association supports FEMA’s approach to disasters that says all citizens should be prepared for “self-rescue and self-supply” for at least 72 hours.

    The quad-city area Oath Keepers chapter, led by its president, Jim Arroyo, meets monthly for training and organizing its five CPT teams of Emergency Medical, Emergency Communications, Security/Team Tactics, Emergency Engineering and General Preparedness. Meetings also include guest speakers, such Dave Hodges at the May 23 meeting at the Chino Valley American Legion Hall..

    About 75 people attended the May 23 meeting, including Frank and Judy Davidson of Dewey. Frank sees the organization as one that encourages people to plan ahead.

    “I don’t like the way our country is being run. This is a group that organizes in the case of a problem, anything from a fire, flood or civil unrest. We take care of ourselves.”

    “I’m basically concerned that we can’t rely on our government and must protect ourselves and the community.”

    Arroyo also serves as the Arizona State Oath Keepers vice president and CPT State director. The Yavapai County chapter began in January 2014. Arroyo is an Army Ranger veteran who was part of a team that carried out a hostage rescue in Iran in 1980. With Oath Keepers, Arroyo works with local government officials, and fire, sheriff and emergency leaders.

    “We are creating a team to form an infrastructure to prepare the community itself in case the economy tanks, a socio-economic collapse,” Arroyo said. That’s where the CPT teams come in.

    Oath Keepers began in April 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, a former U.S. Army paratrooper who was disabled in a night jump accident. He is a former firearms instructor, former member of Rep. Ron Paul’s DC staff, a volunteer firefighter in Montana, and a Yale Law School graduate in 2004. The organization is made up of military and first responders, whether active, veteran or retired, who took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, as well as like-minded citizens who support the association’s mission. People can get more information at their website at http://www.oathkeepers.org.

    The association brochure states, “We hope for a return to the Constitutional Republic free from fear and hatred. We hate only tyranny. You may someday find yourselves as the last bulwark against that tyranny.” It says they want “all public servants to live up to their oath to ‘support and defend the Constitution,’ as it is written.”

    The CPT General Preparedness Team helps citizens organize for extended periods of self-supply, such as storing food.

    The local Medical Team, led by Elizabeth Billi of Williamson Valley and the Communications team, led by Steve Cornelius of Chino Valley, met with eight to 10 team members May 23 to talk about supplies they may need. Medical teams train to provide immediate care for victims of severe trauma, such as car accidents, gunshot wounds, and other injuries. The Communications team emphasizes that every citizen needs to have at least a hand-held HAM radio and the knowledge to use it for local communications.

    The Security Team, led by Dan (who didn’t want to give his last name), maintains that in homes and neighborhoods, citizens should know how to defend themselves and work as a team when attacked, especially by an organized enemy. As retired military, Dan wants to protect freedom, and sees positive work being done in Oath Keepers.

    “I feel that our freedom is at stake; we pretty much are backed against the wall,” Dan said.

    “The Security element is not a military,” Arroyo clarified. “It’s designed in case of a disaster, whether natural or manmade. And it’s a major part of the CPT program.”

    Emergency Engineering involves finding the basics in a natural disaster or large social “breakdown,” – shelter, clean water, alternative power, transportation and delivery of supplies and the ability to deal the fire dangers and hazardous materials.

    Hodges spoke about threats people can research and learn more about, such as Operation Jade Helm, economic take-over plans, war threats, terrorists, martial law, and other topics.

    Hodges is from an area between Wickenburg and Surprise, south of Prescott, has a radio show called the Common Sense Show. He has a website for his radio show at http://www.thecommonsenseshow.com and his show is online daily from 5-8 p.m.

    Wasn’t that a helpful special report in a local newspaper. Come meet the Oath Keepers! They’re just your friendly neighborhood self-defense squad that specializes in defenses against an organized enemy manned by people that feel like their backs are against the wall. Kind of like the Boy Scouts but the big kids!


    The Security Team, led by Dan (who didn’t want to give his last name), maintains that in homes and neighborhoods, citizens should know how to defend themselves and work as a team when attacked, especially by an organized enemy. As retired military, Dan wants to protect freedom, and sees positive work being done in Oath Keepers.

    “I feel that our freedom is at stake; we pretty much are backed against the wall,” Dan said.

    “The Security element is not a military,” Arroyo clarified. “It’s designed in case of a disaster, whether natural or manmade. And it’s a major part of the CPT program.”

    And they’re endorsed by Dave Hodges too. No nut-jobs here!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 14, 2015, 1:30 pm
  13. She’s in it! Days after GOP front-runner Donald Trump packed the Phoenix convention center (and slammed Senator John McCain), Arizona State Senator Kelli Ward announced that she’s officially running against McCain in 2016:

    The Arizona Republic
    Kelli Ward enters GOP Senate race against John McCain
    Dan Nowicki, The Republic | azcentral.com 12:24 p.m. MST July 14, 2015
    State Sen. Kelli Ward of Lake Havasu City officially announced Tuesday that she will take on veteran incumbent U.S. Sen. John McCain in Arizona’s 2016 primary.

    Kelli Ward, a Republican state senator from Lake Havasu City, on Tuesday officially entered the U.S. Senate primary against veteran incumbent John McCain.

    In a post on her website Tuesday morning, Ward, a 46-year-old doctor of osteopathic medicine in her second term at the Arizona Legislature, said: “I’m running for the U.S. Senate to give you a real choice! Arizonans deserve a Senator who will fight for their values, and not just go along with the Beltway crowd.”

    Ward had been formally exploring getting into the race since April and, given the frequency of her attacks on McCain in her fund-raising e-mails, her announcement comes as no surprise to political observers. Last week, Ward issued an invitation to a “big announcement” Tuesday at 5 p.m. in Lake Havasu City.

    McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, is seeking his sixth Senate term. Because of long-running tensions with his party’s conservative base, he is widely viewed as potentially vulnerable in the GOP primary. In January 2014, McCain was officially censured by Arizona Republican Party activists as too liberal on issues such as immigration reform, which McCain has championed for years.

    On Saturday, McCain came under fire from Donald Trump, the GOP presidential candidate who roiled his race with harsh rhetoric aimed at Mexico and some Mexican immigrants who he has characterized as criminals and rapists.

    “I’ve supported John McCain, but he’s very weak on immigration,” Trump told reporters after delivering a speech at the Phoenix Convention Center. “… If the right person runs against John McCain, he will lose.”

    Not everyone on the right agrees that Ward is necessarily the right candidate to take on McCain. Some national conservatives have been pressuring U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., to run for the Senate seat. FreedomWorks, one of the big “tea party”-aligned national organizations, already has said it won’t support Ward. The Senate Conservatives Fund, another anti-McCain group, also has not endorsed Ward yet.

    Though she has scored some successes at the Legislature, including the passage of legislation to help local microbreweries that became known as “the Arizona Beer Bill,” Ward’s judgment also has come under scrutiny. A June 25, 2014, environmental hearing that Ward hosted in Kingman entertained concerns from community members about “chemtrails,” the conspiracy theory that airplane contrails are dangerous chemicals that are deliberately injected into the air to change the weather or for other nefarious reasons. Ward in April clarified that she personally never believed in the theory.

    In 2014, she went to Nevada to show support for controversial rancher Cliven Bundy, who was in a standoff with federal authorities over grazing fees and cattle, and tweeted messages in support of defense of disgraced NBA owner Donald Sterling’s right to make racist comments. Ward said she did not agree with Sterling’s comments.

    “Senator Ward’s record of bizarre statements and questionable judgment will be a key concern for Arizona voters over the next year,” Rogers said in the McCain campaign statement. “Last summer, she used taxpayer funds to explore the widely debunked conspiracy theory that U.S. aircraft are spraying ‘chemtrails’ onto American citizens for sinister purposes. And just this spring, Senator Ward said she was undecided on whether this wacky plot is real or not. … It’s no wonder why a leading conservative group recently said that Arizona Republicans are ‘worried’ about Senator Ward’s strange statements, and that they are ‘not confident that she has the right values and she will stick to her principles.”

    The pro-McCain group Arizona Grassroots Action on Tuesday released a web video that mocks Ward over chemtrails and what it says is her association with “oddball bills” and “fringe issues.”

    44 percent to 31 percent“Ground Kelli Ward before it’s too late for Arizona,” the video’s narrator says.

    A May poll by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm based in North Carolina, McCain leading Ward 44 percent to 31 percent. The poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.7 percentage points. Eighty percent of the interviews were by phone and 20 percent were online.

    It sounds like Senator Ward is going to have quite a fight on her hands given the tepid response from even some Tea Party groups. That said, she’s got her base and they’re going to be very active too. Hopefully not too active.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 14, 2015, 5:21 pm
  14. With the GOP establishment collectively denouncing Donald Trump following his questioning of Senator John McCain’s status as a war hero over the weekend, it’s worth pointing out that Donald Trump actually issued a MASSIVE insult against another fellow GOP and almost no one has noticed. Even though the person he insulted is one of John McCain’s 2016 main primary opponents: State Senator Kelli Ward.

    But it wasn’t what he said to or about Ward that was so insulted. It was what he didn’t say about her, which was pretty much anything. These days, not having Donald Trump mention your name is generally a good thing. But that’s not so good when Donald Trump is searching for people run against John McCain in the primary and everyone knows you’re about to announce your run:

    Washington Post
    Trump courts Arizona treasurer to challenge McCain

    By Robert Costa
    July 17, 2015

    If you challenge Donald Trump, he may encourage others to challenge you.

    In recent days, the combative Republican presidential candidate has urged Arizona treasurer Jeff DeWit to take on Sen. John McCain, a Trump critic, in the state’s 2016 GOP Senate primary.

    Trump and DeWit met privately in Phoenix July 11 aboard Trump’s Boeing 757. During the conversation, which was observed by The Washington Post, Trump and DeWit discussed McCain and what it would take it make the race competitive.

    “You really should think about doing it,” Trump told DeWit, who nodded as he sat inches from Trump in the cream-colored cabin.

    As Trump detailed what he sees as McCain’s vulnerabilities — ties to the GOP establishment, longtime support for immigration reform — DeWit agreed that the upcoming primary could become a marquee contest for conservatives.

    But DeWit told Trump that his friend, state Sen. Kelli Ward, is already running against McCain, making his own entry unlikely unless circumstances changed. Trump said he understood DeWit’s position but told him it’d be smart to leave his options open and think seriously about a bid.

    Reached Friday by phone, DeWit said the meeting with Trump was about getting to know the real-estate mogul. “With 100 percent certainty I won’t be running for U.S. Senate in 2016. I appreciate Mr. Trump’s suggestion but really enjoy being Arizona’s state treasurer.”

    In an e-mail Friday, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said Trump “has not spoken to any other” Arizona Republicans about possibly running against the 78-year-old senator.

    Ward, 46, formally announced her campaign Tuesday. Other possible primary contenders, such as Reps. David Schweikert and Matt Salmon, have so far expressed little interest in taking on the incumbent and former Republican presidential nominee.

    Ward has drawn positive coverage from conservative news organizations such as Breitbart and talk-radio programs. “I am jumping into this knowing full well that this is a David and Goliath battle, but remember, David won that one,” Ward said Tuesday during her campaign’s launch.

    Not everyone on the right, however, is enthusiastic about Ward’s candidacy. FreedomWorks, a powerful conservative organization, has already expressed skepticism about her record and her viability, and the Senate Conservatives Fund, another group, has declined to endorse her.

    According to the Arizona Republic, Ward has drawn scrutiny for once exploring “the idea that airplanes are spraying dangerous ‘chemtrails’ into the air — a conspiracy theory she subsequently has said she never believed — and for traveling to Nevada in 2014 to show support for controversial rancher Cliven Bundy, who was in a standoff with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over grazing fees and cattle.”

    Appearing Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Trump said he supported McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign but made clear that their relationship has disintegrated as McCain has voiced concern about Trump’s rhetoric on illegal immigration.

    “I think he will lose in the primary,” Trump said. “If the right person runs against him, they’ll win in the primary. He’s not very popular there anyway.”

    “He was very nasty to me,” Trump added. “My attitude is this: if a person is nice to me, I will go out of my way to be nice to that person.”

    McCain, in an interview with The New Yorker published this week, said Trump’s rally in Phoenix last Saturday was “very hurtful to me. Because what he did was he fired up the crazies.”

    Ouch! That’s gotta hurt:

    As Trump detailed what he sees as McCain’s vulnerabilities — ties to the GOP establishment, longtime support for immigration reform — DeWit agreed that the upcoming primary could become a marquee contest for conservatives.

    But DeWit told Trump that his friend, state Sen. Kelli Ward, is already running against McCain, making his own entry unlikely unless circumstances changed. Trump said he understood DeWit’s position but told him it’d be smart to leave his options open and think seriously about a bid.

    In an e-mail Friday, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said Trump “has not spoken to any other” Arizona Republicans about possibly running against the 78-year-old senator.

    Ward, 46, formally announced her campaign Tuesday. Other possible primary contenders, such as Reps. David Schweikert and Matt Salmon, have so far expressed little interest in taking on the incumbent and former Republican presidential nominee.

    And here’s the worst part for poor Kelli: part of what got the Trump/McCain tiff started in the first place was John McCain saying that Trump had “fired up the crazies”. And while that’s certainly the case (although it’s more that Trump stoked the existing crazy fire rather than starting it), you almost can’t find a crazier ‘crazy’ in Arizona’s political scene than Kelli Ward.

    So instead of ‘firing up the crazies’ in Arizona, Donald Trump metaphorically fired one of the biggest crazies around who just happens to be John McCain’s biggest primary opponent thus far.

    If this seems almost like an anti-diss against John McCain (because why refrain from supporting the opponent of the guy you suddenly hate?), keep in mind that even the Koch-fueled FreedomWorks isn’t keen on Senator Ward:


    Ward has drawn positive coverage from conservative news organizations such as Breitbart and talk-radio programs. “I am jumping into this knowing full well that this is a David and Goliath battle, but remember, David won that one,” Ward said Tuesday during her campaign’s launch.

    Not everyone on the right, however, is enthusiastic about Ward’s candidacy. FreedomWorks, a powerful conservative organization, has already expressed skepticism about her record and her viability, and the Senate Conservatives Fund, another group, has declined to endorse her.

    According to the Arizona Republic, Ward has drawn scrutiny for once exploring “the idea that airplanes are spraying dangerous ‘chemtrails’ into the air — a conspiracy theory she subsequently has said she never believed — and for traveling to Nevada in 2014 to show support for controversial rancher Cliven Bundy, who was in a standoff with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over grazing fees and cattle.”

    Yes, Koch front-group FreedomWorks (which does not endorse Trump) and the Senate Conservatives Fund are now basically working together to take down McCain and they both appear to be in agreement that Kelli Ward is NOT the person to do it. Double ouch! And now here comes Donald Trump looking for someone, someone who isn’t Kelli Ward, to step into the race against McCain.

    So that had to sting for poor Kelli, especially coming on the same week of her announcement. You got to wonder how many other zingers of that nature we’re going to see Trump pull out of his hat.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 22, 2015, 2:06 pm
  15. Someone fired shots at soldiers participating in the “Jade Helm” military exercise at Camp Shelby in Mississippi. If this story sounds familiar, it might be because this is the second day in a row someone shot at solders from Camp Shelby:

    Heavy.com
    Shots Fired at Soldiers During Jade Helm 15 Training at Camp Shelby: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
    Published 3:10 pm EDT, August 4, 2015 Updated 10:44 am EDT, August 5, 2015

    Authorities say a man in a pickup truck fired shots near a group of soldiers training at the Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center on Tuesday and again on Wednesday.

    A large-scale training exercise is being held there as part of Jade Helm 15..

    No one was injured, WDAM-TV reports.. The Tuesday incident was reported at about 12:15 p.m., about 45 minutes after the shots were fired.

    Police say they are searching for a white man who fired from a two-door red pickup truck.

    On Tuesday, the soldiers were at a checkpoint on a county-owned road on the outskirts of Camp Shelby, Perry County Sheriff Jimmy Dale Smith said. The shots fired on Wednesday happened in the same area at about 8 a.m.

    Here’s what you need to know:
    1. Jade Helm Has Sparked Fears About Martial Law Among Conspiracy Theorists

    Conspiracy theories about Jade Helm 15 spread rapidly across the Internet after plans about the exercise were leaked to the public. According to the Austin American-Statesmen, there was an “explosion of outrage on social media after the release of the map, which labeled Texas, Utah and the southern tip of California as ‘hostile.’”

    A military official who went to a Bastrop, Texas, meeting about the exercises was told the government can not be trusted, and that the plan for the exercises is to put martial law in place.

    “It’s the same thing that happened in Nazi Germany. You get the people used to the troops on the street, the appearance of uniformed troops and the militarization of the police,” a local resident, Bob Wells, told the Austin newspaper after the meeting. “They’re gathering intelligence. That’s what they’re doing. And they’re moving logistics in place for martial law. That’s my feeling. Now I could be wrong. I hope I am wrong. I hope I’m a ‘conspiracy theorist.’”

    The Army Times detailed some of the “head-scratching” conspiracy theories, including that FEMA is building domes to house those who fight back against the government, that Blue Bell ice cream trucks could serve as rolling morgues, that recently closed Walmart stores could serve as military headquarters and that the military is secretly preparing for an imminent asteroid strike.

    Some Texas residents told the New York Times last month that they are being extra vigilant as the training is conducted.

    “With Obama being in there,” Scott Degenaer told he Times, “with the way he’s already stomped all over the Constitution, pushing his presidential authority to the max, it would only be just the stroke of a pen for him to do away with that. This man is just total anti-U. S.”

    Degenaer was skeptical about the reporter and photographer who were interviewing him, the Times reported, wondering if they were part of the operation. “Spec Ops grows beards,” he said, while referring to the Times’ photographer’s facial hair. “Y’all got a military ID?”

    Two North Carolina men were recently arrested on charges that they stockpiled weapons, ammunition and tactical gear in preparation for Jade Helm, the Associated Press reported.

    2. A Truck Matching the Description Was Found Abandoned in a Neighboring Town

    According to Ryan Moore of WDAM-TV, a pickup truck matching the description was found off Old Augusta Road in the neighboring town of New Augusta, Mississippi, but was later determined to not be the truck involved in the shooting. Two men were detained for questioning, but later released without charges.

    Police are still looking for a pickup truck that rides low to the ground.

    The Perry County Sheriff’s Department and the Mississippi Highway Patrol are investigating.

    3. The Incidents Are Not Being Called an ‘Active Shooter’ Situation

    Perry County Sheriff Jimmy Dale Smith told WDAM-TV that the gunman fired from the truck and did not stop. No one was hit in both incidents.

    It’s not yet known how many shots were fired.

    Lieutenant Colonel Christian Patterson, director of public affairs at the Mississippi Military Department, told the Clarion-Ledger that the incident is not being viewed as an active shooter situation. Increased security measures have been taken recently to protect soldiers, Patterson told the newspaper.

    4. About 4,600 Soldiers Are Training at the Camp as Part of the Jade Helm Exercises

    Camp Shelby is hosting a large-scale Army and National Guard training exercise this week, the Hattiesburg American reported on Sunday..

    The training is part of the controversial Jade Helm 15 exercise, according to the Army Times. Jade Helm has led to numerous conspiracy theories and led Texas Governor Greg Abbott to order the Texas State Guard to monitor the training..

    About 4,600 soldiers are participating. The training began in July and will last until mid-August.

    “There are very few places that can actually host an event this size. There are places around the country that would have something similar, but they can’t offer all the different capabilities that Shelby offers here,” Major General Augustus L. Collins, told the newspaper. “Camp Shelby is the perfect place to do this.”

    The exercises are known as “Exportable Combat Training Capability.”

    The participants include the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team from Tupelo, Mississippi, and the 1st Calvary Division, 500 members of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team from Fort Hood, Texas, as well as about 300 Army reservists.

    Note that a man fitting the description has been detained, although he is denying involvement. But assuming the shooter is still out there, and given the immense amount of credibility major political figures like Texas Governor Greg Abbott lent to the “we need to monitoring Jade Helm so they don’t pull a martial law sneak attack” hysteria, perhaps now would be a good to for those same figures to use their far-right credibility to maybe request that the anti-Jade Helm monitors, you know, stick to actually monitoring if that’s what they’re intent on doing and drop the Bush doctrine of preemptive war. This is where we are.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 5, 2015, 3:07 pm
  16. Remember when the Oath Keepers showed up in Ferguson last November and camped out on rooftops with rifles in response to the protests and resulting property destruction last November? Well the Oath Keepers are back in Ferguson, although this time they insist they’re there to protect the protestors, although it sounds like most of their focus was on protecting a guy from Infowars.com:

    The Washington Post
    Who are the Oath Keepers, and why has the armed group returned to Ferguson?
    By Sarah Larimer and Abby Phillip
    August 11 at 8:00 PM

    On Monday night, protesters again gathered in the streets of Ferguson, Mo. Demonstrations in the St. Louis suburb have flared up in recent days to mark the first anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer.

    Also on the scene overnight: Members of a citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers.

    The men — all of them white and heavily armed — said they were in the area to protect someone who worked for the Web site Infowars.com, which is affiliated with talk-radio conspiracy theorist and self-described “thought criminal against Big Brother” Alex Jones.

    Reporters and Black Lives Matter activists immediately took note.

    “Media launches new demonization campaign as Oath Keepers arrive in Ferguson,” read an Infowars.com headline Tuesday; the story noted that Oath Keepers members were with two reporters for the site.

    If the presence of this group was confusing, here’s a brief explainer on their background and history in Ferguson.

    Who are the Oath Keepers?

    On their Web site, the Oath Keepers are described as a group focused on fulfilling “the oath all military and police take to ‘defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’” The site notes that the organization is composed of members who have, or have previously had, some sort of connection to law enforcement or the military.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center, however, describes the Oath Keepers as a “fiercely antigovernment, militaristic group.”

    “The core idea of the group is that its members vow to forever support the oaths they took on joining law enforcement or the military to defend the Constitution,” reads the SPLC site. “But just as central is the group’s list of 10 ‘Orders We Will Not Obey,’ a compendium of much-feared but entirely imaginary threats from the government — orders, for instance, to force Americans into concentration camps, confiscate their guns, or cooperate with foreign troops in the United States.”

    One Oath Keeper named Sam Andrews told the New York Times last year that the group’s membership includes “a really broad group of citizens, and I’m sure their motivations are all different. In many of them, there’s probably a sense of patriotism. But I think in most of them, there’s probably something that they probably don’t even recognize: that we have a moral obligation to protect the weakest among us.”

    As The Post’s Terrence McCoy wrote in November:

    The Oath Keepers are many things to many people. For one fervent believer, it’s about the Constitution. For another, it’s about a .50-caliber Bushmaster and his right to carry it. Others talk of fear: fear America has become a security state. Fear President Obama has become a dictator. Fear the Oath Keepers are needed now more than ever — especially in Ferguson, Mo.

    The group, McCoy added, “came into being after founder Stewart Rhodes wrote a 2008 manifesto calling for men and women to protect a complacent America besieged by what he described as dictatorial leaders. ‘If a police state comes to America, it will ultimately be in your hands,’ Rhodes, a Yale Law School graduate, wrote. ‘That is a harsh reality, but you had better come to terms with it now, and resolve to not let it happen on your watch.’”

    What are the Oath Keepers doing in Ferguson?

    Abby Phillip, who is on the the ground for The Washington Post in Ferguson, described the scene like this:

    Members of the group arrived on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson in the early morning as protests wound down just before 2 a.m.

    The small group of men — dressed in military-style camouflage and bullet-proof vests, and armed with long guns — initially startled protesters, some of whom asked the Oath Keepers to leave. But they insisted that they were “on their side,” and had arrived to protect protesters from police, who stood standing watching in riot gear across the street. They said Missouri law permitted them to openly carry legally owned weapons.

    When the Oath Keepers crossed to the same side of the street where police stood, protesters followed. But police didn’t react to their presence.

    Where is it legal to openly carry a long gun?

    Six states and the District of Columbia prohibit the open carrying of long guns. Another six set restrictions but don’t prohibit it. In every other state, including Missouri, it is legal to carry a loaded long gun in public without a permit, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

    Has this group been in Ferguson before?

    Yes, in November — though their presence was rather confusing for residents and activists then, too.

    Here’s the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, describing the scene a few days after it was announced that Darren Wilson — the officer who shot Brown — wouldn’t face criminal charges:

    Following a night of arson fires and bashed storefronts that hit close to home, Greg Hildebrand stood naked Tuesday, drying off from a needed shower, when he noticed somebody on the rooftop.

    “I opened the window and said, ‘Hey, can I help you?’” said Hildebrand, 35, a website developer.

    The man said he was security and would be up there at night with others to protect the pocket of second-story apartments and lower-level storefronts near the Ferguson Police Department. A day earlier, rioters had broken out windows below Hildebrand’s apartment in the 100 block of South Florissant Road and torched a nearby beauty supply store.

    “I am in the middle of a difficult spot,” Hildebrand said. “I feel a lot better having those guys up on the roof.”

    “When they’re here, there’s definitely a weight lifted off of our shoulders,” Davis Vo, whose family owns a local restaurant, told the New York Times, when discussing the Oath Keepers in November. “I’d be lying if I said otherwise.”

    What do authorities in Missouri say?

    “Their presence was both unnecessary and inflammatory,” St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said.

    In an email to The Post, Brian Schellman, a spokesman for the St. Louis County Police Department, said the agency would “consult” with the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office “about the legalities of the issue.”

    A email to a St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office spokesman was not immediately returned.

    Yes, the same group that showed up in Ferguson to shoot people they thought might be looters back in November is now back, but this time to protect the protestors…and the Infowars.com guy. Uh huh:


    The men — all of them white and heavily armed — said they were in the area to protect someone who worked for the Web site Infowars.com, which is affiliated with talk-radio conspiracy theorist and self-described “thought criminal against Big Brother” Alex Jones.

    Reporters and Black Lives Matter activists immediately took note.

    The small group of men — dressed in military-style camouflage and bullet-proof vests, and armed with long guns — initially startled protesters, some of whom asked the Oath Keepers to leave. But they insisted that they were “on their side,” and had arrived to protect protesters from police, who stood standing watching in riot gear across the street. They said Missouri law permitted them to openly carry legally owned weapons.

    And this stunt wasn’t supposed to spark a conflict with the protestors or intimidate them or anything. That would be crazy talk.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 11, 2015, 5:40 pm
  17. The Oath Keepers just found a new issue to have an armed standoff with the federal government over. But before we get to that, it’s worth noting how the last standoff at the Sugar Pine Mine in southwest Oregon ended: With lots of emboldened Oath Keepers talking about plans for more showdowns

    Southern Poverty Law Center
    ‘Patriots’ Declare Victory for Oregon Mine After Judge Issues Stay for BLM Enforcement

    David Neiwert
    May 25, 2015

    A judge’s order requiring the Bureau of Land Management to refrain from enforcing its regulations while the dispute over the Sugar Pine Mine in southwestern Oregon is being adjudicated appears to be enough for the assembled antigovernment “Patriots” who have shown up on the scene to declare victory and head for home.

    “Mission Accomplished” now declares the header over the website of the Oath Keepers of Josephine County, the local organization that had made a national callout the month before for other Oath Keepers and likeminded antigovernment zealots to show up to defend the mine from the supposed plans of the BLM to destroy the mine and kick out its owners. The day before, the headline had read: “STAND DOWN.”

    “Our initial mission has been a success… however this is just the first of many missions we are still working on,” the website proclaims.

    The declarations of victory came with a stay issued on Wednesday by James Roberts, an administrative law judge with the Interior Land Board of Appeals, which began handling the case of the Sugar Pine mine last month when the mine’s owners filed their appeal of the letter of non-compliance that the BLM had issued regarding their operations earlier this year.

    Rick Barclay, one of the mine’s owners and their chief spokesman, called off the effort to protect his mine. “If this is indeed everything the attorney asked for, this will de-escalate the situation for the time being,” Barclay told the Medford Mail Tribune. “It may mean my guests will be going back to their daily lives.”

    Even as the miners filed their appeal last month, the BLM had been clear that it never intended to enforce the regulations until the issue had been entirely adjudicated, which is its standard operating procedure. So when Barclay and his attorneys filed their appeal last month – including the request for a stay of enforcement – the BLM did not oppose it.

    In spite of all that, Barclay has insisted that he has been at risk of having the BLM burn down his cabin at the mine, which is why he asked for armed militiamen to help protect it.

    On their Facebook pages, the “Patriots” took to gloating, with Barclay, Idaho III Percent leader Brandon Curtiss, and Eric “EJ” Parker – one of the III Percent movement followers who came to Oregon, and who was notorious as one of the supposed sniper-rifle owners who drew down on federal agents at the Bundy Ranch standoff in Nevada – posting a photo of the three men flipping off their critics.

    “From us to you BLM… oh lets not forget the Southern Poverty Law Center and Routers,” the message read. “Looks like the Judge agreed with us!! Granted stay of appeal states you have no jurisdiction or right to terrorize that man!! you’ll be getting our bill for the cost of WE THE PEOPLE mounting an EFFECTIVE resistance to your threats. Thats two for two facists!! See you next time.”

    The result of the national callout was an encampment next to Interstate 5 the organizers took to calling “Camp Defiance.” Its camo-clad participants and their multitudes of guns, as well as their intimidating attitudes and behavior, had created growing concern among some of the longtime residents and business owners in the area. Some of them held a press conference to express their concerns, at which some of the “Patriots” showed up and began heckling them.

    Those concerns only escalated, though, when a helicopter flying in the vicinity of the Sugar Pine mine set off a full-scale alarm among the “Patriots,” who feared the BLM was about to descend upon them with troops and SWAT teams and wipe them out with black helicopters. That turned out to just be another landowner flying a helicopter nearby.

    “Our initial mission has been a success… however this is just the first of many missions we are still working on…
    Yes, it was a grand success even though the BLM was explicitly saying back in April, before the Oath Keepers even showed up, that they would not be stepping in and a process must take place before any action is taken, but it was a still a glorious success, apparently, with many more to come.

    And that brings us to one of the latest Oath Keeper showdowns: Welcome to “Operation Big Sky”:

    KTRV News
    Lincoln remains quiet as Oath Keepers continue ‘Operation Big Sky’
    By Sanjay Talwani

    Posted: Aug 11, 2015 2:22 PM CST
    Updated: Aug 11, 2015 2:28 PM CST

    LINCOLN –

    The streets of Lincoln remained quiet throughout the weekend and Monday as a group of self-described Constitutionalists continued their mission of protecting a small mining claim in the area.

    “Lincoln is still Lincoln,” said Bonnie Christian, working Monday at Bushwackers Steakhouse and Saloon, located on Lincoln’s main drag on Route 200.

    Even when all the “big hub-bub” was going on last week — in the form of some outsiders walking around last week in camouflage, carrying weapons — it didn’t even faze the town, she said.

    “There is nothing going on,” Christian said of the town Monday.

    A group including Oath Keepers of Josephine County, Oregon — described as veterans and former law enforcement officers concerned about the Constitution and government overreach — has based itself in Lincoln as a few serve as “security” for the White Hope Mine, in what they call “Operation Big Sky.”

    That mine is about 15 miles away with access restricted by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality because of heavy truck traffic connected with the ongoing remediation project at the adjacent Mike Horse Mine tailings impoundment, where more than 30 people are employed.

    The activists say they are serving as a protection force for the claim, owned by George Kornec and Phil Nappo, citing aggression and threats by the U.S. Forest Service in an ongoing dispute.

    The Forest Service says the miners don’t have a valid current permit and didn’t get permission to erect a structure on the claim. But the agency denied that an invasion of the land or any other action is imminent.

    “The groups in Lincoln have rallied around a falsehood,” spokesman David Smith of the Forest Service’s Northern Region wrote in an email Monday. “There have been no plans for the Forest Service to forcibly remove any structures on the mine site or to evict Mr. Kornec from the property.”

    Smith wrote that the Forest Service is already doing what the groups appear to want — working with the miners so they can continue their mining, in compliance with the law.

    Mary Emerick, a spokeswoman for the Oath Keepers, also said the group wants to continue the legal process, but said she had concerns about the accuracy of the Forest Service statement.

    She said several people have offered to be interviewed to discuss Forest Service actions in the area.

    Emerick said she wouldn’t disclose the output of the mine; a story in the Missoula Independent a few years ago about Kornec’s hermit-like existence described some mining equipment and a bucket of muddy water.

    It’s also unclear how may of the activists are in the Lincoln area. Their presence in Lincoln has been minimal, and a press report pegged their numbers at a meeting Thursday at about a dozen.

    Citing security concerns, Emerick declined last week to say how many people were in the area, or expected, for the operation.

    Lewis & Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton met with the group over the weekend, and he said they declined to tell him their numbers as well.

    “I don’t see an overwhelming force of people,” he said.

    Emerick said that with some of the security people cycling in and out, the numbers wouldn’t be easily observable. She also said the group aims to have “a quiet, safe presence” in the area.

    Dutton said he and the activists exchanged concerns, Dutton’s being for peace and safety in the area.

    “We did talk about them when they initially showed up, of being in camouflage and (carrying) weapons — not that Lincoln is immune to seeing people in camouflage and weapons,” Dutton said. “Just a bunch of people they didn’t know, showing up in camouflage and weapons, they were unfamiliar with — it does cause them concern.”

    Dutton said leaders of the group assured him they ordered their people not to brandish weapons in public or act in an intimidating measure.

    They’ve also said they “vet” the group for felons, although they did not identify individuals to law enforcement for further vetting.

    Dutton said there have been no confrontations throughout the episode, and Lincoln is perfectly safe for anyone planning to visit.

    “What concerns me is the fringe groups, or lone wolf people that decide to show up and create anarchy and chaos doing an act of violence,” Dutton said.

    “What concerns me is the fringe groups, or lone wolf people that decide to show up and create anarchy and chaos doing an act of violence.”
    That was the opinion of Lewis & Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton, which seems to suggest that the Oath Keepers, who showed up at this mine with heavy weapons with the intent on having another showdown with the federal government, are no longer “fringe”. And it’s an assessment that’s increasingly difficult to refute. Vigilante militia showdowns with the federal government (that happen to be sanctioned by a substantial swath of the electorate and political establishment) is just what we do in the US these days!

    Now we get to wait and see what happens. It’s pretty obvious that the Oath Keepers are itching for a violent standoff that can act as a ‘spark’ for something bigger. But the federal government is also pretty obviously trying to ensure that doesn’t happen. And just Tuesday the federal filed a civil suit against the mine’s owners so some sort of legal escalation is taking place. So a now-familiar legal-escalation/arm-standoff de-escalation situation
    is unfolding in Montana:

    TPM Muckraker
    Armed Militia Converges On Montana Gold Mine, And The Feds Are Stepping In

    By Catherine Thompson
    Published August 13, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

    The owners of a Montana gold mine sent a letter to the U.S. Forest Service earlier this month warning its employees to stay off the owners’ property.

    “Anyone entering onto the White Hope Mine, without previous coordination, will be charged” and arrested under Montana code, the letter read, according to court documents.

    “At no time will weapons be allowed onto the White Hope Mining Claim,” the letter concluded.

    Except there are weapons on the White Hope Mining Claim, in the hands of armed militia members the mine owners recruited to protect their claim. And the feds aren’t letting the aggression stand.

    U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter filed a civil suit Tuesday in federal court in Helena, Montana against George Kornec and Phil Nappo, owners of the White Hope Mine near Lincoln, Montana. The suit alleged the miners opened a road, built a garage and cut down trees on their mining claim without authorization, stored another individual’s explosives on the site, and illegally turned members of the public away from the land by locking the gates to the property shut and posting no-trespassing signs.

    “The unauthorized and illegal actions of Defendants have interfered with and damaged National Forest Service land,” the complaint stated. “Because the non-compliance has not been resolved, and because members of the public are still being threatened or blocked from access, it is necessary for the United States to bring this action.”

    The suit also noted that defendants and the Oath Keepers, a loose-knit national organization of current and former U.S. military and law enforcement officers that pledge to uphold the Constitution, were “acting in concert or joint participation, in interfering with public and Forest Service access on public lands, including the White Hope unpatented mining claims.”

    In a press release issued Saturday, the Oath Keepers of Josephine County and the Idaho Three Percenters, another militia group, said they were recruited by Kornec and Nappo following “threats” to their mining venture. They referred to their activity at the White Hope Mine as “Operation Big Sky.”

    “We are committed to securing the mine site of George Kornec and Phil Nappo, owners of Intermountain Mining LLC, which was requested due to threats to their mining venture,” the press release read. “There is a dispute between the actions taken by the United States Forest Service and the miners. Our goal has been and will continue to be to secure that area from threats until a legal action takes place within the court system.”

    It’s unclear what the “threats” to Kornec’s and Nappo’s mining claim were. Court documents showed that the U.S. Forest Service sent a non-compliance notice to the pair in August 2014 that forbid any mining activity until the outstanding issues were resolved. The agency also ordered the unauthorized garage to be removed by June 30.

    The Oath Keepers of Josephine County are the same activists who earlier this year backed a pair of Southwestern Oregon gold miners in their dispute with the Federal Bureau of Land Management. A spokeswoman for the group, Mary Emerick, told TPM back in May that the group planned to take action to help other local property owners with land management disputes following a stand-down at the Sugar Pine Mine in Galice, Oregon. She declined to elaborate on those plans.

    “The Oath Keepers of Josephine County are the same activists who earlier this year backed a pair of Southwestern Oregon gold miners in their dispute with the Federal Bureau of Land Management.”
    How helpful. And to their credit, it could have been worse.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 13, 2015, 10:04 pm
  18. It looks like the J.T. Ready School of border patrol vigilante activism is still putting out graduates:

    TPM Muckraker
    Arizona ‘Patriot’ Militia Busted By Feds In Plot To Steal Drugs From Bogus Cartel
    By Catherine Thompson
    Published August 14, 2015, 3:05 PM EDT

    Parris Frazier allegedly thought he was going to make $15,000 per kilogram of cocaine he ripped from a drug cartel’s load vehicle last month at an Arizona warehouse.

    Unfortunately for him, according to court records, the man who helped him set up the drug rip was an undercover FBI agent. And instead of a tidy payout, Frazier got a high-speed chase that ended in the arrests of him and two of his associates.

    Frazier (pictured) and his associates, Robert Deatherage and Erik Foster, were arrested on July 22 after the bogus drug rip and charged with conspiracy to sell cocaine, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. district court. The three men were members of a local militia called Arizona Special Operations Group, which recently provided security at a protest rally organized by anti-Muslim activist John Ritzheimer, according to local TV station KPHO.

    The federal investigation stretched back to January, when the complaint states Frazier spoke with Customs and Border Patrol agents at a traffic stop. Frazier expressed interest in contacting an informal source whom the agents had mentioned as someone who provided them with intel on illegal border activities, according to the complaint.

    An undercover FBI agent then began contacting Frazier while posing as the Border Patrol agents’ source. Frazier allegedly told the undercover agent that “he had a small group of Patriots that he trusted and they were trying to take care of (steal) anything that came up out of Mexico (drugs) or was going back into Mexico (bulk cash),” adding that his group preferred to chase the cash. He allegedly offered a cut of whatever was seized to the undercover agent, too.

    The complaint said Frazier had a propensity for violence. In a March 4 meeting, Frazier allegedly told the undercover agent “if we (his group) have to dispatch (kill) some people, we will dispatch some people,” as quoted in the complaint. (The parenthetical explanations are in the complaint.)

    Later that month, the complaint alleges Frazier offered to murder the undercover agent’s fictitious cousin in exchange for money, suggesting that such a move would eliminate competition. Frazier even showed a reluctance to talk about the murder-for-hire offer over the phone, according to the complaint.

    The FBI and the Phoenix Police Department monitored a few cash and drug rips set up for Frazier by the undercover agent in the months prior to July 22, when the authorities planned to take the militia members into custody. The agent told Frazier that there would be about 10 kilograms of cocaine waiting for him in a vehicle at the Phoenix warehouse and offered to buy the drugs off him for $15,000 per kilogram once they were seized, according to the complaint.

    An anonymous FBI informant who has followed Deatherage and the Arizona Special Operations Group for years told KPHO that it didn’t surprise him the militia member was arrested. Deatherage and another armed militia member, Richard Malley, mistook a sheriff’s deputy for a drug smuggler in 2013 out in the desert; Malley was charged with aggravated assault for pointing his rifle at the deputy while Deatherage was not charged in the incident.

    “I would put my retirement on the fact that there are bodies out there because of these groups,” the informant told the news station.

    h/t KPHO

    “Later that month, the complaint alleges Frazier offered to murder the undercover agent’s fictitious cousin in exchange for money, suggesting that such a move would eliminate competition. Frazier even showed a reluctance to talk about the murder-for-hire offer over the phone, according to the complaint.”
    Well, Frazier certainly was committed to his “protecting the border” project. $15,000 per kilogram tends to brings out the patriotic fervor like that. A fervor that’s been bubbling for quite a while:

    Mother Jones
    The Meltdown of the Anti-Immigration Minuteman Militia
    Why the the self-appointed border patrollers are nowhere to be seen.

    —By Tim Murphy
    | Mon Aug. 4, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

    In early July, Chris Davis issued a call to arms. “You see an illegal, you point your gun right dead at them, right between the eyes, and say, ‘Get back across the border, or you will be shot,'” the Texas-based militia commander said in a YouTube video heralding Operation Secure Our Border-Laredo Sector, a plan to block the wave of undocumented migrants coming into his state. “If you get any flak from sheriffs, city, or feds, Border Patrol, tell them, ‘Look—this is our birthright. We have a right to secure our own land. This is our land.'”

    Davis’ video was publicized by local newspapersand theLos Angeles Times. But the militia never materialized in Laredo, and Davis walked back his comments. (The video has been taken down.) Over the last few weeks, a smaller force under Davis’ watch has appeared along the southern border, spread thinly across three states. The fizzling of this grand mobilization was another reminder that the current immigration crisis has been missing a key ingredient of recent border showdowns: Bands of the heavily-armed self-appointed border guardians known as Minutemen.

    During the past four years, the Minuteman groups that defined conservative immigration policy during the mid-to-late-2000s have mostly self-destructed—sometimes spectacularly so. Founding Minuteman leaders are in prison, facing criminal charges, dead, or sidelined. “It really attracted a lot of people that had some pretty extreme issues,” says Juanita Molina, executive director of the Border Action Network, an advocacy group that provides aid to migrants in the desert. “We saw the movement implode on itself mostly because of that.” An analysis by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors right-wing extremist groups, found that the number of Minuteman groups in the Southwest had declined from 310 to 38 between 2010 and 2012.

    The movement’s coming-out moment was in 2005, as an influx in migrants from Mexico collided with post-9/11 security concerns to create a nativist revival. A Marine vet named Jim Gilchrist announced the formation of a monthlong, 1,000-man patrol along Arizona border. His Minuteman Project found a natural platform on conservative talk radio and cable news, and attracted support from nativist politicians such as then-Arizona Senate president Russell Pearce. Some Minuteman groups patrolled the US-Mexico line on foot, investing in night-vision goggles, ham radios, and ammunition by the bucket. Others were content to squat in lawn chairs under canopies, scanning the border for crossers and alerting Customs and Border Protection.

    But the movement quickly splintered, and activists who found Gilchrist’s methods too easygoing rushed to start their own organizations, many bearing the Minuteman name. Things went downhill from there.

    Shawna Forde, an Arizona activist, left behind two larger groups to found Minutemen American Defense with Jason Bush in 2007. To get money for their operations, they turned to crime. In 2011, Forde, Bush, and another man were convicted of murdering Raul Flores and his nine-year-old daughter after a botched armed robbery of Flores’ Arivaca, Arizona, home. When police dug deeper, they found a bloody past. Bush was also charged for the murder of a Latino man in Washington state in 1997, and in the murder of an Aryan Nations member he considered to be a “race-traitor” that same year. He also was suspected of a third, unidentified murder, but not charged. Washington prosecutors opted not to pursue the case because Forde and Bush were already on death row for the Flores murders.

    Forde and Bush were on the fringe, but they had connections to the more prominent mainstream Minuteman groups. Forde, for instance, had once been a member of a group called the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, which has gone through several crises of its own. In 2012, one of the group’s founders, a neo-Nazi Marine veteran named J.T. Ready—who also left the group to form a splinter unit—killed himself, his girlfriend, and three of her family members at his home in Gilbert, Arizona. At the time of his death, Ready was the subject of an FBI domestic terrorism investigation in connection with the deaths of an unspecified number of migrants whose bodies had been found in the Arizona desert.

    Chris Simcox, who cofounded the MCDC with Ready, faces a more uncertain fate. A media-friendly personality who once considered challenging Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for his Senate seat, he planned on taking the Minuteman movement to new heights by building a $55 million state-of-the-art border fence “based on the fences used in Gaza and the West Bank.” But he raised just $1.8 million, and installed only two miles of barbed wire.

    In 2010, Simcox went on the lam after his estranged wife filed a petition for a protective, saying that he had twice threatened to kill his family. (Simcox has denied those allegations.) He was tracked down by Stacey O’Connell, a former Minuteman who started a bounty hunting firm after resigning as the Arizona state director of Simcox’s group three years earlier, citing mismanagement. Two months after being served by his old lieutenant, Simcox was charged with six counts of child molestation. He rejected a plea offer and is set to stand trial in September. (One of the charges has since been dropped.) When I called him, O’Connell said he had no plans to rejoin the Minutemen. “I haven’t been involved with that in years,” he said.

    After Simcox’s arrest, the leadership of the MCDC fell to Carmen Mercer, a German immigrant who ran a buffalo burger restaurant in Wyatt Earp’s old home of Tombstone. Mercer announced a new operation targeting drug smugglers. She suggested acting without the aid of the US Border Patrol, inviting volunteers to come to the border “locked, loaded, and ready.” But a week later, Mercer sent announced that the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps was disbanding. “People are ready to come locked and loaded, and that’s not what we are all about,” she wrote after a sudden change of heart.

    Even Gilchrist, the original Minuteman, has seen his brainchild disintegrate. The board of Minuteman Project accused him of fraud; in turn, Gilchrist accused the board of theft. He was deposed as its president but was reinstated by a judge. He then lost a defamation lawsuit for launching an internet smear campaign wrongfully accusing another member of various federal crimes.

    Meanwhile, the politicians who once embraced vigilante activities along the border have begun to drift away. Last August, Richard Malley, a member of an organization calling itself the Arizona Special Operations Group, was arrested on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after aiming his AR-15 at a Pinal County sheriff’s deputy he had concluded was a member of a drug cartel. Malley, who had been on patrol 80 miles north of the border, had refused to put down his rifle even after the deputy pointed to his badge. After the incident, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a longtime ally of the Minutemen who once accepted an award from Simcox, sounded like he’d had enough. “If they continue this there could be some dead militia out there,” Arpaio told the Associated Press. “He’s lucky he didn’t see 30 rounds fired into him.”

    Malley had been making the rounds that day with Robert Crooks, the founder of the Mountain Minutemen, who had disseminated a video in which he staged the fake execution of an undocumented immigrant. Crooks declined a request for an interview. “Dude, I’ve been doing this for 10 fucking years, I got a full-length movie out, I was in Penthouse magazine April ’08, I got the fence of San Diego County, I’ve been in the trench for a decade, you hear me?” he said when I reached him on patrol in the desert. “I ain’t fucking around with this bullshit. We’re being invaded and you guys are mamsy-pamsying this shit. This country’s fucking going to hell in a handbasket. Never mind!” Click.

    But the Minuteman movement’s problems go deeper than its fractious leadership. Patrolling the border is a massive undertaking. Glenn Spencer, the founder of American Border Patrol, proudly notes that his group predated the Minuteman movement and has largely outlived it. His seven-man outfit uses drones and small planes to monitor the border. Spencer, who had just come back from a flyover with a film crew from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ InfoWars site, estimates it would take 30,000 committed and qualified military veterans to watch the border properly. “I don’t encourage people to come down,” he says. Volunteers “find out the border is huge. They get tired of sitting in lawn chairs.”

    The changing geography of the border crisis also make things difficult for civilian patrols. Arizona became a hub for Minutemen groups in part because it was so easy; much of the state’s 362-mile border and points north are public lands, meaning anyone can walk it. But southern Arizona is no longer the most popular route into the United States; that distinction now belongs to South Texas. And in Texas, there’s very little federal land; the border is the provenance of private ranchers who don’t take kindly to strangers patrolling their property with high-powered rifles.

    “It really attracted a lot of people that had some pretty extreme issues…We saw the movement implode on itself mostly because of that.”
    Yep.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 15, 2015, 6:57 pm
  19. The leader of the group of Oath Keepers that recently made a heavily armed appearance at the Ferguson protests, Sam Andrews, had an interesting spin on his groups presence there:

    In his view, the Oath Keepers were in Ferguson last week not only to guard Joe Biggs, but to ensure that everyone assembled was safe, cops and protesters alike. “We’re totally pro-protester, and we’re pro-lawful law enforcement—which we haven’t seen a lot of, recently in St. Louis,” he said

    “We’re totally pro-protester, and we’re pro-lawful law enforcement—which we haven’t seen a lot of, recently in St. Louis”r
    So…..the Oath Keepers were there to shoot everyone? It’s one of the fun open questions left in the wake of the Oath Keeper’s stroll through the Ferguson protests last week. As far as armed flash-mobbing goes, it didn’t lack mystery or suspense.

    But another part of what made the Oath Keepers’ sudden recent reappearance in Ferguson so interesting from a PR perspective is that the group has indeed long railed against the militarization of the police. It’s one common point of interest that the group could have had with the local protesters. But it that would suggest the Oath Keepers showed up at the event with assault rifles strapped around their shoulders to protest the militarization of the police, which would be a rather confusing signal if it wasn’t for the Oath Keepers’ propensity to have armed showdowns with government agencies for pretty much any reason they can find.

    The Oath Keepers’ past “rifles on rooftops (pointed at looters)” antics in November haven’t clarified the situation much either. And as the article below points out, the leader of the latest Oath Keeper excursion into Ferguson, Sam Andrews, will not do much to resolve the mystery. Andrews, who was recently at the Bundy ranch-style showdown in Oregon, appears to not really be closely affiliated with the St. Louis Oath Keepers chapter, but instead is just a friend of the Infowars.com reporter, Joe Biggs. Biggs apparently asked Andrews to show up with a posse at the Ferguson protests and they all did so without notifying the local Oath Keepers. At least that’s what Andrews suggests so there appears to be a split of sorts between the Andrews Oath Keepers and the local Oath Keepers or they want to maintain a public distance.

    To add to the confusion, Andrews sort of trashes the local Oath Keepers as New World Order conspiracy theorists and seems to distinguish himself as be generally against the oppression that the Obama administration is about to unleash (and he’s there to guard his Infowars.com friend).

    Also, Andrews wants to get 50 black Ferguson protesters and give them AR-15s in a big armed standoff next. Yes, that’s his idea. 50 Ferguson protesters and the Oath Keepers in an armed protest. And this is supposed to help the protesters.

    It’s all rather confusing:

    Gawker

    Whose Side Are the Oath Keepers in Ferguson On?
    Andy Cush
    Filed to: Oath Keepers 8/18/15 10:00am

    Sam Andrews received three phone calls during an hour-long lunch at a Pizza Hut in St. Louis County, Missouri, last week. Andrews is a member of the group called the Oath Keepers, and the callers were fellow Oath Keepers, congratulating and questioning him about his latest “operation”: Over the previous two nights, in nearby Ferguson, he’d led a group of five white men with assault rifles and body armor to the scene of the protests marking the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death. It had been a grabby image for the media convened there, and he relished the attention.

    “My guys are eminently qualified,” Andrews said to one caller. “We know way more about weapons than the St. Louis County Police Department.” Later in the same conversation, he practically spat into his cellphone while discussing St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar. “Do you believe the shit coming out of your mouth?” he said, addressing a mock Belmar. “‘Cause we don’t believe it.”

    After the first night, Belmar had decried the Oath Keepers’ presence, calling it “both unnecessary and inflammatory.” That had not kept Andrews and his heavily armed men from spending a second night walking Ferguson’s West Florissant Avenue, the street at the center of the protests since Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in August 2014.fi

    They had come to town at the behest of Joe Biggs, a writer for the conspiracist website InfoWars, who requested protection from the Oath Keepers after a St. Louis Post-Dispatch journalist was attacked and robbed while reporting on looters from West Florissant Sunday night. This was the Oath Keepers’ second high-profile mission to West Florissant. Months after Brown’s death, in an operation also led by Andrews, members of the group could be seen standing on rooftops along the avenue, carrying heavy weaponry and dressed in military fatigues, intending to protect business owners and residents from looters.

    Belmar, the police chief, was not the only one unhappy to see them again. Demonstrators greeted the group with a mix of bafflement and anger, and even within the Oath Keepers organization, Andrews’ actions were met with suspicion. Even by the standards of a libertarian-minded vigilante organization, Sam Andrews is a bit of a freelancer: He resides in St. Louis County, but he has never attended a meeting of the greater St. Louis chapter of the Oath Keepers, and he seems to disdain those who do attend. Biggs, whom Andrews counts as a personal friend, asked him directly about an Oath Keepers bodyguard detail, and Andrews called the informal group of men with whom he usually works into action, without so much as notifying the local Oath Keepers about it, much less obtaining their permission.

    The Oath Keepers, a group founded in 2009, is primarily composed of current and former police and military members who see themselves as the truest guardians of the U.S. Constitution. Like couples renewing their wedding vows, members publicly reaffirm the oaths they took upon joining the service—oaths taken not in the name of politicians, the group’s website reads, but in the name of the Constitution itself. Oath Keepers also take a vow to disobey what they call “unconstitutional” orders, such as orders to disarm the American people, to impose martial law, and to “blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.”

    Those hypotheticals sound a lot like the fears of right-wing conspiracy theorists, and according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, that’s exactly what the Oath Keepers are. The SPLC brands the Oath Keepers as a “fiercely antigovernment” extremist group, and states that its official claim to 30,000 members is likely exaggerated. Like all Oath Keepers I’ve spoken to, Andrews takes umbrage with being labeled an extremist. He also believes that the 30,000 number is low.

    “We probably signed up 2,500 people in the last 48 hours,” he said, referring to the media blitz that ensued after he and his crew showed up in Ferguson. By Andrews’ estimation, the real figure is closer to 50,000. He also claimed, perhaps improbably, that there were many more Oath Keepers on the ground in Ferguson than were shown in media reports—“people on the perimeter, in overwatch positions,” he said, and “black guys in the crowd that are watching our backs.” He declined to answer when I asked him for a ballpark figure.

    Andrews, a tall fiftyish man who drives a jacked-up pickup truck with a camouflage paint job and speaks with the orotund charisma of a TV pundit, said that he joined the Oath Keepers after he saw the group’s website. “Wow,” he remembers thinking to himself. “This is the only organization that’s publicly saying that our politicians and our police and our military should follow our laws.” He said that he worked for years overseas as a contractor with a three-letter agency, but declined to say which, citing a non-disclosure agreement, and also that he has trained police SWAT teams across the country. When he’s not leading Oath Keepers into Ferguson or heading to Oregon to assist a miner in a Cliven Bundy-style standoff with the federal Bureau of Land Management, like he did earlier this year, Andrews works as a weapons engineer, he said. Articles in the Post-Dispatch and on Patch.com identify him as the owner of Tier One Weapon Systems, a gun seller and custom manufacturer, but Andrews denied ownership of the company, stating that “everything in the media is subject to severe scrutiny.”

    He draws a line between himself and the Oath Keepers he calls “Chicken Littles”—those who think the sky is falling, or that the U.S. government will imminently enslave its own citizens, forcing them to participate in a one-world government called the New World Order. Still, he is mistrustful of authority and full of unconventional notions about how the world works. He believes that the Post-Dispatch is an arm of the St. Louis County government and that CNN answers to the U.S. Department of Justice.

    When I asked if he meant this literally, he said, “Yeah, literally.” He believes that tax brackets exist so the government can avoid revolt by raising people’s taxes piecemeal, one bracket at a time, rather than all at once. When I suggested that brackets simply allow the government to tax people on a gradient according to their income, he leaned forward over the table and squinted, as he often does when emphasizing a point, and said “That’s the lie.”

    The sight of a group of white men casually strolling West Florissant while armed to the teeth understandably riled some black protesters, both because the white men themselves looked menacing and because the police seemed willing to tolerate that menace.

    Missouri is an open-carry state, meaning that in theory, black activists would be allowed to bring their guns to a protest, as long as they had the proper permits. But not necessarily in practice: On Monday night, while Oath Keepers openly displayed their rifles, three black men were arrested in a flurry of batons and pepper spray because police suspected they were carrying handguns, the Guardian reported. None of the men were armed.

    Andrews told me that his interests and the protesters’ are actually quite similar. In his view, the Oath Keepers were in Ferguson last week not only to guard Joe Biggs, but to ensure that everyone assembled was safe, cops and protesters alike. “We’re totally pro-protester, and we’re pro-lawful law enforcement—which we haven’t seen a lot of, recently in St. Louis,” he said. In March, the U.S. Department of Justice released a report detailing the systematic racism of the Ferguson Police Department, which almost exclusively arrested black people between 2012 and 2014. Andrews himself said he refuses to carry identification when he goes to Ferguson, to protest the fact that the police keep illegally demanding people show I.D. The cops, he said, are “a bunch of fucking crooks.”

    Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told me he considers the Oath Keepers’ support of protesters to be disingenuous, cooked up ex post facto after they were widely vilified by demonstrators and in the media. According to Potok, the group’s stated reason for attending—to protect a journalist working for InfoWars’ Alex Jones, who Potok calls “the most prolific and unhinged conspiracy theorist in America,”—shows that they only wanted to advance their own apocalypse-minded politics.

    “I think they realized rather quickly that very few people looked on them kindly, and all of a sudden they became defenders of black protest against police violence,” Potok said. “The reality is they’ve never said anything like that in their entire history. I think it’s ludicrous.”

    But Andrews’ fury at the police seems genuine. And it is not surprising at all in the context of the Oath Keepers’ beliefs. Among the group’s “Declaration of Orders We Will Not Obey” sits an entry for warrantless searches of American people—a callback to the Fourth Amendment and the 18th-century searches that inspired it, and one that has a rough modern analog in stop-and-frisk. Rand Paul, the 2016 presidential candidate whose platform hews most closely to the Oath Keepers’ extreme small-government ideology, penned a Time op-ed against police militarization that was partially inspired by Ferguson. (Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oath Keepers, started his political career as an aide to Ron Paul, Rand’s father.)

    It’s easy to see why an Oath Keeper who is sure that the U.S. government aims to impose martial law and round up its citizens into concentration camps might be spooked by the contemporary Hummer-driving and rifle-wielding American police force. In June, the Pentagon forced the Ferguson Police Department to return two Humvees it obtained through a federal program that allows local law-enforcement agencies the use of U.S. military equipment, citing an apparent record-keeping or protocol error by Missouri state authorities. The Oath Keepers may loathe militarized police, but its members and the decommissioned vehicles share a similar provenance: Both are cast-off military surplus, looking for something to do in the domestic arena. The only difference is that the Hummers are officially sanctioned.

    ….

    One of the people who called Andrews over lunch was Larry A. Kirk, who is unusual among Oath Keepers in that he is not only still on active police duty but is the chief of a department, in Old Monroe, Mo., a town of 265 people about 30 miles northwest of Ferguson. Kirk had praised Andrews’ efforts but gently chided him for not having given the local chapter a heads-up.

    A minor celebrity among Libertarians for his support of marijuana legalization and opposition to seatbelt laws, Kirk is more willing than Andrews to allow that policing and racism are interconnected issues. Kirk is white, as is 97 percent of the population of Old Monroe as of the 2010 census. Pointing to marijuana incarceration rates that are many times higher for black men than any other demographic despite relatively equal use across races, Kirk said, “Individually, you don’t have to be racist, but there are systematic things in our society right now that are racist that we don’t recognize a lot of the time…I think that’s why you see a lot more concern [about police abuse] in the black community.”

    Where Kirk and Andrews agree—and where they might clash with mainline Black Lives Matter activists—is that one key to ending police oppression in black communities should be lawfully arming residents there. “Arm yourselves with weapons and arm yourselves with knowledge,” Andrews said. “If you introduce weapons with skills and knowledge about your rights, it will absolutely solve the problem, and quickly.” Andrews said that many of the protesters he had spoken with on Monday and Tuesday asked him what kind of gun he was carrying, to which he answered “It’s the kind you should be carrying so the police can’t abuse you.” He was carrying a custom-built AR-15 assault rifle.

    Kirk does not believe that guns are a miracle cure—he’s also an ardent supporter of body cameras on cops and ending the drug war, for instance—but he does believe they’re useful as a visual affirmation that a person knows his rights. “It’s empowering to know that you can protect yourself in a situation,” he said. “A lot of people will take that as, ‘What are you trying to say, that they should shoot cops if they get stopped?’ But that’s not the point. I think that if an officer walks up to a young black man, and the young man understands the laws, and he knows that he has the right to concealed-carry or open-carry, then that officer is more reluctant to try to push the boundaries. There are officers who are like, ‘I know the law, and this person doesn’t, and I can get away with a little more than I normally can.’ [Carrying a weapon] is a sign that that young man is educating himself on what his rights are.”

    The Oath Keepers aren’t the first group to suggest arming the black populace as a solution to police oppression. Charles Mayo, the only Ferguson activist I spoke with who had a relatively positive view of the Oath Keepers, noted that in 1967, armed members of the Black Panther Party marched on the California State Capitol to protest the passage of the Mulford Act, which would outlaw openly carrying guns in the state. The bill was proposed partially in response to the Black Panthers’ police patrols, a kind of symbolic theater that saw armed party members responding to police calls and informing arrestees of their rights while they were being arrested. “It’s parallel to when Huey Newton and them were telling black people that you have the right to protect your land, your property, and have a gun on your person,” Mayo said. Throughout changes in gun laws in the decades since then, he continued, “you’ve always had a right to bear arms.”

    Shortly after that march on the California capitol, legislators passed the Mulford Act and then-governor Ronald Reagan signed it, ending legal open-carry in the state. In other words, when the Panthers used guns to demonstrate their knowledge of their rights, exactly as the Oath Keepers are doing and instructing Ferguson’s black residents to do, the state of California enacted a new law to stop them from doing it.

    Mayo said that he clashed with the Oath Keepers in Ferguson after first encountering them last year, but they eventually established a rapport. Still, he said, it’s understandable that other black activists don’t trust them. “You have African-American men seeing caucasian men with guns, openly,” he said. “Throughout our history, with what we’ve been through, it’s a natural instinct to be afraid of that.”

    Separately, Mayo and Andrews both spoke almost wistfully about an idea that the Oath Keepers had discussed with simpatico Ferguson protesters last week: What if a group of Oath Keepers and a group of armed black activists all stood together on West Florissant in defiance of the cops? “We get 10 activists with concealed-carry permits, and we get 10 Oath Keepers, and we alternate them side-by-side,” said Andrews, blustery as ever. “I’ll provide the AR-15s, and we stand in front of the police and go, ‘What now? What now, bitches?’”

    On Friday, Andrews announced the plan to the website Red Dirt Report. The idea had escalated considerably in the two days that had passed since our lunch meeting. There will be 50 black activists marching through Ferguson with rifles, he said, and the march will take place sometime within the next few weeks. Andrews promised an “iconic” spectacle, like Martin Luther King’s march on Washington, or the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima.

    Wednesday evening, in the dimly-lit multi-purpose room of a public library in St. Peters, Mo., Kirk addressed two dozen or so attendees at the monthly meeting of the Oath Keepers’ greater St. Louis chapter. The crowd ranged in age from about 25 to about 65, with a significant portion on the upper end of that spectrum. A small handful resembled the formidable paramilitary troopers seen in Ferguson, but many looked like they’d be more at home on a couch watching football, or atop a ride-on lawnmower.

    Much of the proceedings were dedicated to discussing the merits of amateur radio, which, one attendee said, might help during any “impending disaster, financial collapse,” that kind of thing. One of the few female members passed around an informational sheet about a man in her city whom the municipal government “is really coming down hard on” because he illegally owns two chickens. The chapter’s leader—a heavily bearded and lightly potbellied alternative medicine practitioner named Doc Weed—wore suspenders, a shirt patterned with the Confederate Battle Flag, and a sun-beached Ron Paul campaign baseball hat. Everyone in attendance was white.

    Kirk’s speech touched on the same points as his earlier phone call to Andrews: Remember that being an Oath Keeper is about protecting people’s Constitutional rights. Carefully consider what you say to the media. If you’re planning on grabbing an assault rifle and heading into the most closely-watched stretch of road in America, you might consider telling someone first. The room seemed split in its attitude about Andrews’ Ferguson operation. Only one Oath Keeper who’d patrolled Ferguson was in attendance, a former Naval engineer named Jim Faupel. After Kirk spoke, an attendee rose his hand and asked whether it had been confirmed that the Ferguson patrollers were really Oath Keepers at all.

    That question may point to a larger communication breakdown and identity crisis within the Oath Keepers. Are they the fearsome citizen soldiers who showed up in Ferguson, or the sandal-wearing ham radio enthusiasts who congregated in St. Peters the following night? Journalist Justine Sharrock pondered a similar question in a thorough 2010 profile of the Oath Keepers in Mother Jones. “In the months I’ve spent getting to know the Oath Keepers, I’ve toggled between viewing them either as potentially dangerous conspiracy theorists or as crafty intellectuals with the savvy to rally politicians to their side,” Sharrock wrote. “The answer, I came to realize, is that they cover the whole spectrum.”

    The Oath Keepers I spoke to weren’t monolithic in their views, but I didn’t meet anyone I’d describe as left-of-center. Andrews extolled the virtues of Donald Trump, and another member lamented supposedly conservative politicians who preside over ballooning government budgets. Kirk, a Mormon and a socially liberal Libertarian—his passion for personal freedom leads him to support gay marriage and pot legalization just as it guides him toward Second Amendment advocacy—represents the greatest deviation from the Oath Keeper norm that I encountered.

    Still, deep paranoia is, within the group, a mainstream outlook. Stewart Rhodes, its founder, once penned an op-ed hypothesizing that “Hitlery Clinton” would disarm all citizens and proclaim those who resisted to be “enemy combatants,” and the Oath Keepers website regularly and explicitly invokes the New World Order.

    What does it add up to? Oath Keepers has a national board, and local chapters have leaders like Doc Weed, but there isn’t much of a hierarchy beyond that. Sam Andrews wasn’t acting on anyone’s orders or approval when he went to West Florissant; he decided the situation called for the Oath Keepers, and then he gathered his guns and went.

    Larry Kirk believes that the confusion that ensued is emblematic of the organization’s “growing pains,” and that in the future, more consideration might need to be given to what does and doesn’t constitute an official Oath Keepers action.

    “Let’s imagine if a group of us got together to go to Montana right now,” Kirk said at the meeting, referring to the White Hope Mine, where members of Oath Keepers and similarly minded groups are engaged in yet another Bundyesque dispute, this time with the U.S. Forest Service, over a copper, zinc, silver, and gold mine that sits on public land. “It’s always hospitable to contact your local organization” and let them know that you’re coming, he said.

    “If a militia group shows up”—-in Ferguson, Montana, or elsewhere, he continued—“Or any other type of group that’s armed, or dressed in battle fatigues…You could have any group show up, and as long as you’re wearing an Oath Keeper hat, then all of a sudden everybody in the group is an Oath Keeper.”

    In other words, as with other decentralized movements like Anonymous, Occupy, or even Black Lives Matter, there’s not much stopping any crank who wants to claim allegiance to the Oath Keepers. Feel like donning a skull bandana, going on YouTube, and advocating for the armed overthrowal of the U.S. government under the Oath Keepers banner? Go right ahead. In an organization whose very raison d’être is resistance to a perceived tyrannical authority, why would anyone follow orders?

    Here’s where we learn where the “let’s get 50 AR-15s and 50 Ferguson protesters and have a showdown!” idea came from. Support from the protestors wasn’t exactly overwhelming since it seemd to be limited to one guy, Charles Mayo:

    The Oath Keepers aren’t the first group to suggest arming the black populace as a solution to police oppression. Charles Mayo, the only Ferguson activist I spoke with who had a relatively positive view of the Oath Keepers, noted that in 1967, armed members of the Black Panther Party marched on the California State Capitol to protest the passage of the Mulford Act, which would outlaw openly carrying guns in the state. The bill was proposed partially in response to the Black Panthers’ police patrols, a kind of symbolic theater that saw armed party members responding to police calls and informing arrestees of their rights while they were being arrested. “It’s parallel to when Huey Newton and them were telling black people that you have the right to protect your land, your property, and have a gun on your person,” Mayo said. Throughout changes in gun laws in the decades since then, he continued, “you’ve always had a right to bear arms.”

    Shortly after that march on the California capitol, legislators passed the Mulford Act and then-governor Ronald Reagan signed it, ending legal open-carry in the state. In other words, when the Panthers used guns to demonstrate their knowledge of their rights, exactly as the Oath Keepers are doing and instructing Ferguson’s black residents to do, the state of California enacted a new law to stop them from doing it.

    Mayo said that he clashed with the Oath Keepers in Ferguson after first encountering them last year, but they eventually established a rapport. Still, he said, it’s understandable that other black activists don’t trust them. “You have African-American men seeing caucasian men with guns, openly,” he said. “Throughout our history, with what we’ve been through, it’s a natural instinct to be afraid of that.”

    Separately, Mayo and Andrews both spoke almost wistfully about an idea that the Oath Keepers had discussed with simpatico Ferguson protesters last week: What if a group of Oath Keepers and a group of armed black activists all stood together on West Florissant in defiance of the cops? “We get 10 activists with concealed-carry permits, and we get 10 Oath Keepers, and we alternate them side-by-side,” said Andrews, blustery as ever. “I’ll provide the AR-15s, and we stand in front of the police and go, ‘What now? What now, bitches?’

    On Friday, Andrews announced the plan to the website Red Dirt Report. The idea had escalated considerably in the two days that had passed since our lunch meeting. There will be 50 black activists marching through Ferguson with rifles, he said, and the march will take place sometime within the next few weeks. Andrews promised an “iconic” spectacle, like Martin Luther King’s march on Washington, or the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima.

    Ok, so Sam Andrews, personal friend of Infowars.com journalist Joe Biggs, had a chat with the one protester that wasn’t wary of the group about getting 10 AR-15s for 10 protesters to march side-by-side with 10 Oath Keepers, and now the plan is up to 50 AR-15s and the march is planned for a few weeks. Because, as we saw above…


    Where Kirk and Andrews agree—and where they might clash with mainline Black Lives Matter activists—is that one key to ending police oppression in black communities should be lawfully arming residents there. “Arm yourselves with weapons and arm yourselves with knowledge,” Andrews said. “If you introduce weapons with skills and knowledge about your rights, it will absolutely solve the problem, and quickly.” Andrews said that many of the protesters he had spoken with on Monday and Tuesday asked him what kind of gun he was carrying, to which he answered “It’s the kind you should be carrying so the police can’t abuse you.” He was carrying a custom-built AR-15 assault rifle.

    “Where Kirk and Andrews agree—and where they might clash with mainline Black Lives Matter activists—is that one key to ending police oppression in black communities should be lawfully arming residents there”.
    Yes, let’s hope the mainline Black Lives Matter activists would clash with the idea that “If you introduce weapons with skills and knowledge about your rights, it will absolutely solve the problem, and quickly.” They definitely might clash with that idea. Clash with, you know, words and stuff. They’re probably not super into AR-15 activism.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 18, 2015, 11:02 pm
  20. Look whose riding to the rescue of Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who spent six days in jail after refusing to validate same-sex couple marriage licenses over personal religious convictions (and also ordering her staff to also refuse the licenses regardless of their personal beliefs): The Oath Keepers!

    Yep. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes claims that his group would have prevented Davis’s arresting and jailing in the first place had they been on the scene at the time. But now that she’s been released, they’re pledging to prevent her from getting arrested again:

    Right-Wing Watch
    Oath Keepers Send Armed Guards To Protect Kim Davis From US Marshals

    Submitted by Miranda Blue on Thursday, 9/10/2015 11:40 am

    The Oath Keepers, the anti-government “Patriot” group that mounted an armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management at the Bundy Ranch, stationed armed guards outside of military recruitment centers after the Chattanooga shooting, and unsettled Ferguson protestors when they showed up carrying assault weapons, is now offering anti-gay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis a “security detail” to protect her from further arrest if she continues to defy the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.

    Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes announced yesterday that he had reached out to Davis’ lawyers at Liberty Counsel to offer the protection of his group, which he says is already forming a presence in Rowan County, Kentucky, where Davis was recently released from jail after prohibiting her office from issuing marriage licenses. Rhodes said in a statement that his position has nothing to do with gay marriage, but rather his conviction that Davis had been illegally detained by the federal judge who held her in contempt for violating multiple court orders.

    Rhodes said that the Rowan County sheriff should have blocked U.S. Marshals from detaining Davis, but since neither the sheriff nor the state’s governor will do their “job” and “intercede” on behalf of Davis, the Oath Keepers will have to do it instead. “As far as we’re concerned, this is not over,” he said, “and this judge needs to be put on notice that his behavior is not going to be accepted and we’ll be there to stop it and intercede ourselves if we have to. If the sheriff, who should be interceding, is not going to do his job and the governor is not going to do the governor’s job of interceding, then we’ll do it.”

    Peyman suggested that he meet with the Rowan County sheriff to “educate him” on his responsibility to block the actions of the federal courts, but in the meantime, Rhodes said, “our guys are already there and more coming” and they are ready to “lead by example” by preventing Davis from being arrested again.

    When Rhodes asked Peyman what he would have done if he were sheriff of Rowan County when Davis was detained, Peyman said he would have stopped the arrest.

    “This is exactly the kind of thing that our Founding Fathers dealt with when dealing with the magistrates and the officers of the crown who wanted to run roughshod over the rights of the colonists without a jury indictment, without any of that,” Rhodes declared. “Same thing. They’re going to show their power and show you who’s boss.”

    Although Rhodes’s anti-government extremism doesn’t always align with the Religious Right, his rhetoric on Davis not far from that of the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who said that U.S. Marshals and county prison officials should have refused to participate in Davis’ detention because they have no obligation to follow “laws that have no moral foundation that are actually in contradiction to moral law and truth.”

    Note that when Stewart Rhodes says:

    This is exactly the kind of thing that our Founding Fathers dealt with when dealing with the magistrates and the officers of the crown who wanted to run roughshod over the rights of the colonists without a jury indictment, without any of that,” Rhodes declared. “Same thing. They’re going to show their power and show you who’s boss.”

    The “magistrates and the officers of the crown” that didn’t agree Davis’s legal logic included the Supreme Court. And it wasn’t just some 5-4 decision. The Supreme Court’s denial of her request was a one-line order and no dissents were noted which means even Supreme Court’s Legion of Doom wasn’t moved by her case.

    But also note that when Rhodes says:

    As far as we’re concerned, this is not over…and this judge needs to be put on notice that his behavior is not going to be accepted and we’ll be there to stop it and intercede ourselves if we have to. If the sheriff, who should be interceding, is not going to do his job and the governor is not going to do the governor’s job of interceding, then we’ll do it.”

    on one point he might be correct. This probably isn’t over.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 11, 2015, 2:58 pm
  21. In case you were planning on attending the Oath Keepers’ arrest-prevention armed standoff thing for Rowan county, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. She might still get arrested due to some new attempt to prevent the issuance of same-sex marriage licences from her country clerk office, but she doesn’t want Oath Keeper protection. Davis’s lawyers informed the Oath Keepers that she will be turning down their request for armed protection against what Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes characterizes as her illegal jailing without due process:
    “We have not talked to Mrs. Davis directly, and therefore we don’t know her reasoning or ultimate intent, but we do note that civil disobedience where the person is willing to allow themselves to be unlawfully arrested and are willing to go to jail to make a point, is a time honored, respectable, and honorable American tradition going back to Henry David Thoreau. We must respect that if it turns out to be her chosen strategy. There is more than one way to skin a cat, and such non-resistant civil-disobedience can be a powerful tool in resisting tyranny. Or it may be that she is confident of making an accommodation. We don’t know, but regardless we will respect her wishes and stay out of it.”
    Yes, civil disobedience that doesn’t involve an armed standoff is also an honorable form of protest. Now you know. So if you were planning on making your way to Kentucky for this big showdown with the feds, it’s been called off. Rhodes recommends you save your gas money for “our planned upcoming operation to guard Texas border ranches against drug cartel violence and invasion”:

    Right-Wing Watch
    Kim Davis Declines Oath Keepers’ Offer Of Armed Guard

    Submitted by Miranda Blue on Friday, 9/11/2015 7:31 pm

    Yesterday, we reported that the Oath Keepers, a “Patriot” movement group best known for the standoff at the Bundy Ranch and for showing up heavily armed to the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, was converging on Kentucky to offer a "security detail" to anti-gay clerk Kim Davis to protect her from further arrest for refusing to do her job and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

    Now, almost as soon as they arrived, the Oath Keepers are packing up and going home. Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes writes in an email to members today that Davis, through her attorneys at the Religious Right legal group Liberty Counsel, has (probably wisely) declined their offer of assistance. He encourages members to save their gas money for another mission, such as “our planned upcoming operation to guard Texas border ranches against drug cartel violence and invasion”.:

    Upon request by Kim Davis’ legal team, Oath Keepers is canceling the planned security detail for Mrs. Davis in Morehead, Kentucky.

    Oath Keepers has been contacted by Kim Davis’ legal team at Liberty Counsel, and they have, on her behalf, declined our offer of assistance in protecting her from a possible repeat incarceration by Federal District Court judge David Bunning. We will, of course, respect her wishes, and are hereby issuing a stand-down for our security volunteers who were planning on deploying to Morehead, Kentucky on Monday.

    Oath Keepers will NOT be conducting a security detail for Mrs. Davis. We always seek the full consent and cooperation of anyone we protect, and we must respect their wishes if they decline that protection. Anyone who was planning on going to Morehead, KY to serve on the security detail are now asked to not do so. We do thank you most sincerely for your willingness to step up, as unpaid volunteers, in defense of due process. That was a very honorable intent, and we commend you.

    This is a free country, and of course you are free to still go there on Monday and peaceably assemble to express your support for her due process rights and your opposition to arbitrary arrest if you want to, but Oath Keepers will not be conducting a security detail, and she apparently does not want anyone else to do so. Therefore, we encourage you to save your gas money and time off work for another security detail, at another time (such as for our planned upcoming operation to guard Texas border ranches against drug cartel violence and invasion).

    We have not talked to Mrs. Davis directly, and therefore we don’t know her reasoning or ultimate intent, but we do note that civil disobedience where the person is willing to allow themselves to be unlawfully arrested and are willing to go to jail to make a point, is a time honored, respectable, and honorable American tradition going back to Henry David Thoreau. We must respect that if it turns out to be her chosen strategy. There is more than one way to skin a cat, and such non-resistant civil-disobedience can be a powerful tool in resisting tyranny. Or it may be that she is confident of making an accommodation. We don’t know, but regardless we will respect her wishes and stay out of it.

    Rhodes ends with a “special message to our critics”:

    As for the many harsh critics of our offer to protect Mrs. Davis, it is frankly sad that so many Americans cannot understand taking a stand in defense of someone’s due process rights regardless of who that person is, what they stand for, or what they are accused of doing or have done. That should not matter, and all that should matter is our common ground of the Bill of Rights and the hard-won rights of due process and in particular jury trial. As I told one person who wrote in:

    You can’t see past your opposition to what she did long enough to see our point about due process and the dangers of having judges use their contempt power like a magic wand to put people into indefinite detention till they submit. Please try to focus on the due process rights of the accused, not on the particular crime. I would, and have, stood up for the due process rights or anyone, regardless of the accusations made against them. I did so during the Bush Admin, when I stood up for the due process rights of Yasir Hamdi and Jose Padila, both of whom are Muslim Americans who were held in indefinite detention by Bush. I also stood up for the due process rights of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. And the paper I wrote at Yale Law about that won Yale’s top prize for best paper on the Bill of Rights. But that was during the Bush years, and was a harsh criticism of what a Republican was doing to Muslims. so the leftist professors at Yale ate it up.

    Now, with the shoe on the other foot, leftists are apparently as blind to the bedrock issues of due process for someone they despise – Davis – as the Bush supporters were when it came to someone they despised – Jose Padilla and Yasir Hamdi.

    Clearly, in America, what matters most is whether the accused is seen as a “good guy” or a “bad guy” and if seen as being bad, then there is zero concern for due process and people will clamor for expedited punishment. I suppose that is just a reflection of human nature. But sad nonetheless.

    Now, after a cycle of the Republicans in power, and then the Democrats, with both exponentially growing the military industrial complex, national security surveillance state over us, I see that Orwell was right when he said “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” It doesn’t matter to me whether it is a right boot or a left boot. Or whether you think the person being smashed deserves it. I oppose it. – Stewart

    “There is more than one way to skin a cat, and such non-resistant civil-disobedience can be a powerful tool in resisting tyranny”
    What a revolutionary concept.

    And also note Stewart’s bizarre equivocation of his past defense of the concept of due process for people like Yasir Hamdi and Jose Padila by writing an award winning paper and his current quest to establish an ‘armed showdown with the federal government upon request’-public service:


    You can’t see past your opposition to what she did long enough to see our point about due process and the dangers of having judges use their contempt power like a magic wand to put people into indefinite detention till they submit. Please try to focus on the due process rights of the accused, not on the particular crime. I would, and have, stood up for the due process rights or anyone, regardless of the accusations made against them. I did so during the Bush Admin, when I stood up for the due process rights of Yasir Hamdi and Jose Padila, both of whom are Muslim Americans who were held in indefinite detention by Bush. I also stood up for the due process rights of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. And the paper I wrote at Yale Law about that won Yale’s top prize for best paper on the Bill of Rights. But that was during the Bush years, and was a harsh criticism of what a Republican was doing to Muslims. so the leftist professors at Yale ate it up.

    Now, with the shoe on the other foot, leftists are apparently as blind to the bedrock issues of due process for someone they despise – Davis – as the Bush supporters were when it came to someone they despised – Jose Padilla and Yasir Hamdi.

    Yes, armed showdowns and writing a paper making a legal and philosophical argument are apparently more or less the same thing. What a revolutionary concept.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 13, 2015, 9:09 pm
  22. The Oath Keepers have decided to wade into the topic of mass shootings. Their plan? Opening new college and maybe even high school Oath Keeper chapters where kids can learn how to use a “warrior mindset” in the face of an armed killer. The programs are also apparently going to include anti-anti-bullying lessons, since the Oath Keepers seem to believe that anti-bullying programs in schools are part of a government plot to condition kids to not fight back in order to create a docile populace so we can all be sent to death camps:

    Right Wing Watch
    Oath Keepers Starting College Chapters So Students Will Stop ‘Cooperating In Their Own Murders’
    Submitted by Miranda Blue on Tuesday, 10/13/2015 11:59 am

    The armed anti-government group Oath Keepers unveiled its strategy to prevent school shootings last week, announcing its intention to form college — and eventually high school — chapters, which the group will use to train students to “stop submitting and cooperating in their own murders” and resist the coming government “death camps.”

    In an article on the group’s website, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and media director Jason Van Tatenhove wrote that the students killed in the recent shooting at a community college in Oregon died because they were “conditioned” to be “passive, submissive and ‘non-violent.’”

    The two went on to warn that this “conditioning” makes children not just “submissive” to mass shootings, but also to “government violence, abuse, and oppression”:

    Remember, this passive victim conditioning makes them submissive not just to private violence, abuse, and oppression, but also to government violence, abuse, and oppression. And we believe this is the big-picture goal of such social conditioning – a nation of passive, submissive, and obedient serfs. Those of us who are police, military and first-responder veterans understand the need for the warrior mindset of decisive action, and we need to pass it on. It is our duty to teach our young people to defend themselves and each other. This effective answer does not rely on politicians, but will be done by the people themselves, and we will lead the way.

    In an interview with Red List News, the two went into more detail, with Van Tatenhove warning that anti-bullying programs in schools, specifically, are “brainwashing children” into being “docile.”

    “Whether it’s an active shooter that kills them, or later on a death camp somewhere down the road because they’ve been conditioned never to fight back,” he warned, “it only leads to death.”

    Rhodes agreed: “The same submissive and servile, sheep-like mindset that children are being taught is exactly what they’re going to do politically, too, when it comes to their own government. They’re never going to stand up to it. So I think the conditioning is intentional to make them easily murdered by mass shooters, and I also think it’s intentional to make them servile and submissive before the powers that be who want a compliant, submissive population.

    “Whether it’s an active shooter that kills them, or later on a death camp somewhere down the road because they’ve been conditioned never to fight back…it only leads to death.”

    Finally, someone is standing up to the anti-bullying bullies that want to bully us all into death camps. Well, ok, not finally. The right-wing has been opposing anti-bullying legislation for years. But now we’re seeing anti-bullying programs put in the “preparation for government death camps” context. That’s kind of new.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 14, 2015, 9:47 am
  23. Did you know that voters can actually pass Oath Keeper-backed measures that grant authority to local officials to nullify state and federal laws they find unconstitutional? It’s true! Granted, the passage of such measures doesn’t actually grant that authority to local officials since that could be unconstitutional, but voters can still vote for it:

    Raw Story
    Oregon voters pass right-wing measure forcing sheriff to act like an Oath Keeper militia member

    Travis Gettys
    04 Nov 2015 at 11:01 ET

    Voters in one Oregon county approved a measure that would basically require the sheriff to act like an Oath Keeper militia member.

    Coos County voters approved a “Second Amendment Preservation Measure” Tuesday that would grant the sheriff authority to decide which state and federal gun laws are unconstitutional — and then keep authorities from enforcing those regulations, reported The Oregonian.

    The measure was pushed earlier this year by members of the Oath Keepers, which is primarily made up of current and former law enforcement and military personnel who have vowed to disobey laws they believe are unconstitutional, and other gun lovers.

    The gun activists asked county commissioners in February to adopt the ordinance — which is nearly identical to measures approved by commissioners across the state in Wallowa and Wheeler counties — but elected officials declined to do so, citing concerns over its constitutionality.

    “When people come in here and tell me to remember my Constitution and remember my oath, I want you to know I do, and I hope you do, too,” said County Commissioner Earl Fisher at the time. “I hope you read the whole thing, not [just] the part that you like.

    “This is not a free-will document,” Fisher continued. “It’s determined by laws — that’s what makes our civilization work.”

    But Rob Taylor, a retired optician who pushed the measure alongside Oath Keeper member Chris Brumbles, was undeterred and gathered enough signatures to place the issue before voters — who overwhelmingly approved the measure.

    However, gun-control activists warned the measure would likely cost Coos County taxpayers and end up being struck down by a court as unconstitutional.

    “The Coos County referendum to nullify state firearms law and require the sheriff to analyze whether federal and state firearms laws are constitutional displays a gross misunderstanding of the U.S. Constitution,” said Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “The measure misuses constitutional provisions to support the proposition that a jurisdiction may disobey federal and state laws when residents disagree with those laws on political grounds.”

    The measure elevates the role of the county sheriff — which many far-right groups believe to be the highest legal authority in the U.S.

    The idea was promoted decades ago by the anti-government “Posse Comitatus” movement, which gave birth to sovereign citizens and believes that all government is illegitimate above the county level.

    Right-wing groups such as the Oath Keepers and the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association have repackaged some of those ideas, while downplaying the Posse Comitatus movement’s overtly racist and anti-Semitic elements.

    Voters have now approved a measure that requires sheriffs to fall in line with those fringe legal theories or face a $2,000 fine.

    Taylor, the measure’s champion, admitted the ordinance was largely symbolic, and Coos County Sheriff Craig Zanni said he didn’t expect it would change his duties because he didn’t have the resources to enforce state law on background checks, anyway.

    But gun-control activists said the measure could allow criminals to evade Oregon state law and obtain firearms they could later use in violent crime.

    “What they are doing is advertising to criminals, ‘Come to Coos County and buy a gun illegally,’” said Penny Okamoto, executive director of Ceasefire Oregon.

    “Voters have now approved a measure that requires sheriffs to fall in line with those fringe legal theories or face a $2,000 fine.”
    Wow, so the sheriffs gets fined if they don’t create unconstitutional showdowns over state and federal gun laws? It looks like the Bundy Ranch may need to relocate! You also have to wonder how many others might be thinking about relocating to Coos County now that this measure passed. Maybe not relocate permanently, but just until they’ve finished amassing their illegal weapons stockpile in preparations for a violent revolution:

    Associated Press
    Anti-US activist convicted of buying gun for ‘revolution’

    Matthew Brown
    Updated 2:42 pm, Thursday, November 5, 2015

    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Jurors on Thursday convicted an anti-government activist on firearms charges after authorities said he sought out high-powered weaponry for a coming “second American revolution.”

    William Krisstofer Wolf of Montana was arrested after buying an automatic, sawed-off shotgun for $720 from an undercover FBI agent nicknamed “Dirty” in a truck stop parking lot. He was found guilty of possession of a machine gun and failing to register a firearm.

    Automatic weapons that can fire multiple rounds with a single pull of the trigger are considered machine guns under federal law.

    Wolf testified that he was seeking a legal version of the same weapon and intended to use it for home defense. But the 53-year-old carpenter and host of an anti-government webcast also acknowledged that he wanted to acquire a flamethrower and spoke of targeting judges, elected officials and law enforcement in an anticipated conflict between the United States and its citizens.

    “Once this goes down, once the war starts, I will do everything I can to end the war quickly,” Wolf testified. He added that he hoped for but did not expect a peaceful resolution.

    He faces up to 10 years in prison on each weapons charge. A sentencing date was not immediately set by U.S. District Judge Susan Watters.

    Government witnesses including an undercover agent testified that Wolf sought out a weapon that he knew to be illegal and appeared ready to use it when he was arrested in March.

    During what was his second meeting with Wolf, the undercover agent said he was surprised to hear the defendant talk openly of building or attaining a flamethrower capable of defeating police body armor and an armored vehicle that recently had been purchased by the Bozeman Police Department.

    Contrary to defense assertions that Wolf “talked a lot” but showed no intention to act on his extreme beliefs, the agent said Wolf appeared ready to act.

    Federal Defender Mark Werner argued that the undercover agent and a paid FBI informant who encouraged Wolf to buy the Russian-made shotgun entrapped his client. The bureau said it paid the informant $9,000.

    On his webcast, The Montana Republic, Wolf railed against federal immigration policies and the administration of President Barack Obama and advocated for direct action to restore a Constitution-based government.

    He compared shooting police officers to “shooting gophers” and proposed citizen arrests of judges by militia-like “safety committees,” according to authorities and excerpts from the show played for jurors during a three-day trial.

    During his final broadcast, in November 2014, Wolf said it was “time to stop talking for me … it is time for me to start putting my money where my mouth is.”

    At his arraignment in April, Wolf said he did not recognize the federal court’s jurisdiction and refused to enter a plea on the charges against him. A magistrate judge entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf.

    Prosecutors said it wasn’t Wolf’s beliefs that were on trial, but his deliberate attempt to attain an illegal 12-gauge shotgun with a shortened barrel that was capable of firing 10 shots in less than two seconds.

    “This was an under-the-table deal for an illegal firearm at the back of a truck stop with a guy named ‘Dirty,'” Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Whittaker told jurors during closing arguments. Wolf “was a man who espoused violence. He wanted to acquire the most dangerous weapons he could.”

    “At his arraignment in April, Wolf said he did not recognize the federal court’s jurisdiction and refused to enter a plea on the charges against him. A magistrate judge entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf.”
    In case it wasn’t clear, yes, Wolf is a ‘sovereign citizen’. And while it sounds like the current sheriff of Coos County won’t be swayed by this new measure and would be unlikely to create a standoff if this guy had been buying weapons in his county, you have to wonder how many counties out there are run by sheriffs that actually would create a showdown. Might a county adjacent to Coos County be inclined to create such a showdown following the arrest of someone amassing an arsenal of illegal weapons if a similar measure was passed? It seems possible.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 5, 2015, 3:30 pm
  24. The proposed AR-15 armed joint Oath Keeper/Ferguson protester march, an idea floated by St. Louis Oath Keeper leader Sam Andrews a few months ago, just happened. There were indeed Oath Keepers present. And AR-15s. And the media. And that was about it:

    The Southern Poverty Law Center
    Breakaway Oath Keeper Attempts to Arm Protesters in Ferguson

    Ryan Lenz
    November 17, 2015

    A protest that for months was billed in right-wing media as an “epic rights flexing march” –– an Oath Keeper arming black residents with AR-15s and marching them through the streets of Ferguson –– turned out to be little more in the end than an exercise in futility.

    Sam Andrews, the former leader of the Oath Keepers in St. Louis, led the march on Tuesday from a public transit pavilion to the Ferguson Police Department and back. But there were no armed black protestors from Ferguson at his side, as he had promised. Instead, the two dozen or so who came were gun rights enthusiasts, Obama birthers and Andrews’s family and friends.

    A protest that attracted so much attention, and ultimately led to Andrews leaving the Oath Keepers over an argument with founder Stewart Rhodes, proved in the end to be a glimpse at the complicated internal politics of an organization that has worked hard to put itself at the center of the most contentious issues on the American cultural landscape, from LGBT rights to land rights.

    And as the protest was about to begin, Andrews was eager to explain why.

    “The [Oath Keepers] leadership didn’t want black people to be armed in a protest,” Andrews told Hatewatch on Tuesday. “They didn’t want to see black people opposing the police. They were perfectly OK seeing white people and people of different colors pointing their rifles at federal agents at the Bundy Ranch. But you can’t have black people marching for their rights with their rifles pointed at the ground.”

    Comprised of law enforcement and former military personnel who fear the Constitution is being undercut by a tyrannical government, the Oath Keepers understood that arming protestors against the police who make up potential Oath Keeper recruits was almost self-sacrificial, Andrews said. But if the 2nd Amendment was absolute, as Andrews and the Oath Keepers believe, there was no reason not to arrange the protest.

    Unless the question was of whether to arm black people.

    In August, Andrews told Newsweek that “fear had contributed to destructive protests” and his intentions were to bring the same message to the inner city as they brought to Nevada in April 2014, when hundreds of armed Oath Keepers defended cattle rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight with the federal government.

    “They don’t know how to react to the abuse, so they throw rocks and bottles and do other silly stuff, but we are flying black Oath Keepers from around the country to educate the black leaders and the people of Ferguson that not only can you open carry, you should open carry,” Andrews told the magazine. “The peaceful protestors, the lawful people which make up the vast majority of protesters, should be quietly standing there with rifles, saying, ‘We’re not going to take this abuse anymore.’”

    Rhodes, however, told Reason magazine that he questioned Andrews intentions and cautioned him from making it seem they were training Ferguson residents to “confront the cops.”

    “He could not take constructive criticism,” Rhodes told Reason. “All we were doing is saying, ‘Look, Sam, don’t make it sound like we’re gonna arm violent people who were rioters. We’re gonna arm the good people of Ferguson, to stand up for their rights against the police and to control the hoods.'”

    The hoods? It is that cultural disconnect that has landed the Oath Keepers in such hot water in Ferguson, at almost every step along the way.

    Perhaps it is no wonder that the turnout on Tuesday was so slim. The weather may have been a contributing factor, but long before the protest began, there were rumblings of distrust.

    On one Facebook group, the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, discussion ran the gamut, with some concerned that the very ideology of the Oath Keepers would undermine the mission.

    “Don’t touch the Oath Keepers,” a user identified as Joe Kelly wrote. “They’re vigilantes whose concept of open carry is about white aggression and the defense of white power and privilege. They need 50 blacks on their parade to serve as a foil for an agenda that is purely white supremacist.”

    But no one came to provide the foil, and the Oath Keepers have never openly espoused a white supremacist ideology. Rhodes’ concern over arming black protesters against police was either the unfortunate reality of finding his group at the nexus of race and the 2nd Amendment, or simply a political worry that even Andrews understood.

    “There are two things we could accomplish,” Andrews told Hatewatch. “One is black people and white people are going to stand together and exercise their rights, to show minorities all around the country that you have the right to defend yourself and open carry.” Andrews continued, “The second thing is nobody shows up, and it proves my point: that people are completely afraid of these serial rights abusers called the St. Louis County Police and the St. Louis City Police.”

    When the time came to march, Andrews’s second prediction came true. There were more cameras than guns, and more news reporters than protesters, none of whom were from Ferguson, and only few armed with rifles.

    The lone armed black protestor was Paul Berry III, from Bridgeton, Mo., who is exploring a congressional run in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District. An avowed constitutionalist, Berry carried an assault rifle slung over his shoulder for the short march because, he said, Americans’ rights are being systemically undercut.

    “By doing this today, the guys tomorrow will know that when they march around the street, that they’re not going to be killed by law enforcement, or anybody else,” Berry said during a speech in front of the police station. “What’s the point of having [the Constitution] if we’re not going to respect it. This is America. And people need to figure out what’s the best solution.”

    “Sam Andrews, the former leader of the Oath Keepers in St. Louis, led the march on Tuesday from a public transit pavilion to the Ferguson Police Department and back. But there were no armed black protesters from Ferguson at his side, as he had promised. Instead, the two dozen or so who came were gun rights enthusiasts, Obama birthers and Andrews’s family and friends.”
    Yeah, that’s probably for the best that this was limited to Sam Andrews and his friends and associates. The whole “you’ll secure your rights via armed showdowns with the government“/nullification meme may not work the same for heavily armed young black protesters as it does for folks like Cliven Bundy and the Oath Keepers. It’s all part of why it was probably wise of the Oath Keeper founder and leader, Stewart Rhodes, to keep his distance from this particular instance of far-right public trolling:

    Rhodes, however, told Reason magazine that he questioned Andrews intentions and cautioned him from making it seem they were training Ferguson residents to “confront the cops.”

    “He could not take constructive criticism,” Rhodes told Reason. “All we were doing is saying, ‘Look, Sam, don’t make it sound like we’re gonna arm violent people who were rioters. We’re gonna arm the good people of Ferguson, to stand up for their rights against the police and to control the hoods.'”

    The hoods? It is that cultural disconnect that has landed the Oath Keepers in such hot water in Ferguson, at almost every step along the way.

    And while it’s undertandable that the Oath Keepers wouldn’t want to be perceived as training Ferguson resident to confront the cops, Rhodes’s concerns over his organization being associated with arming “violent people” (Rhodes’s interpretation of the young protesters Andrews was trying to arm) were probably misplaced. Or rather, juxtaposed with the reality that it’s really probably not a good idea for young black protesters to be caught publicly associating with violent groups like the Oath Keepers. That would just be an awful public relations move on the part of the protesters. Fortunately, that was also avoided.

    So that all probably ends the Oath Keepers’s unofficial experiment in “AR15 outreach” with the Black Lives Matter movement. Although, after three white supremacists shot five protesters in Minneapolis after previous infiltrating and filming the protests in previous days, it will be interesting to see if the Oath Keepers make another “AR-15 outreach” attempt to arm Black Lives Matters protesters:

    Star Tribune
    Social media offering clues into shooting suspects’ motives
    Days after a YouTube video went public, four men were arrested in connection with Monday night’s shooting of five protesters.

    By Abby Simons
    November 24, 2015 — 10:08pm

    In the glow of a vehicle’s interior light, the YouTube video shows two masked men as they cruise down Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis one night last week. The driver, who identifies himself as “SaigaMarine,” doesn’t hesitate to make his agenda clear.

    “We are locked and loaded,” he says, holding up a black 1911-style pistol. As he flashes the gun, he explains amid racial slurs that the men are headed to the Black Lives Matter protest orutside Minneapolis’ Fourth Precinct police headquarters. Their mission, he says, is “a little reverse cultural enriching.”

    “We’re gonna see if we can have ourselves a little look-see,” adds his passenger, who identifies himself as “Black Powder Ranger.”

    SaigaMarine tells viewers to stay tuned. “Stay white,” he says as he signs off.

    On Tuesday, days after that video went public, four men were arrested in connection with Monday night’s shooting of five protesters a block from the Fourth Precinct headquarters in an act that drew condemnation coast to coast.

    Monday’s shootings caused an uproar among protesters encamped at the Fourth Precinct headquarters since 24-year-old Jamar Clark was fatally shot during a struggle with two Minneapolis police officers early Nov. 15. Many said they believe police did not move quickly enough to assist the wounded or apprehend the shooters, some of whom were believed to have visited the protest site more than once. Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau, however, lauded police for working through the night to make the arrests.

    Still, the shootings galvanized protesters, who said Tuesday that the shots rang out after they attempted to drive the men, who they described as “white supremacists,” from the area.

    Witnesses to the shootings said they confronted the men before they fired and forced them from the protest area. According to a video interview with two men immediately afterward, the group demanded that the assailants remove their masks. When they refused, a scuffle ensued. As the crowd began to push the men out, shots were fired.

    While police didn’t publicly connect Scarsella to the YouTube video from last week, social media offered a glimpse into his political leanings.

    A Facebook page for him displays a “Bonnie Blue Flag,” an unofficial banner of the Confederacy.

    “This isn’t the Somalian flag, (by the way),” he wrote beneath the post.

    Meanwhile, the Facebook page of the Minneapolis man released from custody shows a profile photo that features him armed and donning full military gear. He describes his occupation simply as “Saving the Constitution.”

    The man, who bears a striking resemblance to the masked “SaigaMarine,” also displays an affinity for firearms. On a cache of a now-deleted Instagram page, he describes himself as a former Marine infantryman and Iraq war veteran, as well as a firearms model and supporter of the Second Amendment.

    He also appeared to be well-known on /k/, a popular weapons message board on the website 4chan where racist comments are sometimes posted. There, he was known as SaigaMarine, among other monikers, and news of his arrest reverberated among the anonymous users.

    “What an idiot,” one wrote. “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Never should’ve trolled that protest so hard.”

    ‘It’s boiling’

    Several days before Monday’s shootings, the masked men from the YouTube video made an appearance at the Fourth Precinct protests under the guise of being in support of Clark, according to video captured by alternative media website Unicorn Riot.

    “Things are getting heated,” SaigaMarine told a Unicorn Riot reporter. “They always expect one of us to do something. They expect one of us to be in the wreckage of all this. It’s boiling. It’s going to be happening soon.”

    On his camouflage coat was a patch bearing the logo for /k/.

    The second man in the YouTube video turned to the camera, while another masked man snickered.

    “All these folks here should get the justice and peace that they deserve. And what we really need to do here is reach out to our communities, especially our melanin-enriched communities,” the second man said.

    Protesters soon grew suspicious and confronted the men, who said they were simply there to watch and film. The protesters, doubtful, let them move on.

    On Tuesday, as the shooting victims recovered, a soundless video appeared online. The six-minute footage, believed to have been filmed by the shooting suspects, shows them approaching the encampment only to be confronted by a group of men and women, some of whom would later be shot.

    After what appears to be a heated exchange, the camera shakes and cuts to black.

    Yes, a group of three armed white supremacist, one of whom appears to specialized in trolling, first showed up up at the protests under the guise of supporting the protesters and told a reporter:

    Several days before Monday’s shootings, the masked men from the YouTube video made an appearance at the Fourth Precinct protests under the guise of being in support of Clark, according to video captured by alternative media website Unicorn Riot.

    “Things are getting heated,” SaigaMarine told a Unicorn Riot reporter. “They always expect one of us to do something. They expect one of us to be in the wreckage of all this. It’s boiling. It’s going to be happening soon.”

    And then, three days later, they show up armed and once again attempt to infiltrate the protests. But this time they’re turned back from the crowd and end up getting involved in a scuffle where five protesters are shot. And it’s all filmed and put on Youtube the next day and this was less than a week after the Oath Keepers’ “open carry for Black Lives Matter” AR-15 outreach march in Ferguson. As unhelpful and/or hatefully murderous all of this behavior from the far-right is towards the BLM protesters, it’s worth keeping in mind that, in terms of highlighting the fact that non-violent protesters fighting for greater justice are actually some of the best allies of law and order, you almost couldn’t ask for a better set of trolls.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 24, 2015, 11:36 pm
  25. Oh look, the Bundy Ranch Circus is hitting the road again. This time, Ammon Bundy, Ryan Payne (who bragged organizing the Bundy Ranch militias into sniper units pointed at the BLM agents), and Jon Ritzheimer (the guy who organized the “draw Muhammad” contest in Arizona and then tried to raise $10 million in a GoFundMe to protect his family) have descended on the Harney Basin in Oregon to demand that the local sheriff create a “safe haven” for two ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, after the two were resentenced to prison following a decision that they were illegally given a sentence less than the mandatory minimum after the two were convicted for illegally burning on federal lands. As we might expect, various Sovereign Citizen-like legal theories are being bandies about by the trio as a justification for their antics which, of course, includes threats of violence and a desire to start another armed showdown with the government:

    The Oregonian
    Militiamen, ranchers in showdown for soul of Burns

    By Les Zaitz | The Oregonian/OregonLive

    on December 30, 2015 at 5:00 AM, updated December 31, 2015 at 5:05 PM

    BURNS – The strangers carrying the whisper of danger arrived in the vast territory of the Harney Basin just before the holidays.

    Ammon Bundy once helped his father repulse the government in an armed showdown on a Nevada desert. He was Tasered for his effort.

    Ryan Payne, an electrician from Montana, joined that same standoff and boasted of organizing civilians into sniper squads that drew a bead on federal agents.

    And not long ago, Jon Ritzheimer worried the FBI with his threatening rants against Muslims in Arizona and elsewhere, according to press reports.

    Now, the men say, they are in Burns to help Dwight and Steven Hammond.

    The Hammonds are father and son ranchers, due to report to federal prison on Monday. They were convicted in 2012 of arson for lighting public land on fire adjacent to their ranch land south of Burns. They have been imprisoned once and must return for an additional term after federal appellate judges said they had been illegally sentenced the first time.

    Self-styled patriots and militiamen gathering in Burns don’t want that to happen, declaring the Hammonds’ imprisonment illegal under the U.S. Constitution.

    They have latched on to the Hammonds as their latest cause to stand against the federal government.

    “I am here now trying to empower and motivate the people of this community to take a stand against tyranny and show them that I will gladly stand with them,” Ritzheimer said.

    The Hammonds don’t want to be part of the outsiders’ cause, and neither do many in Harney County.

    But that hasn’t stopped the strangers from summoning help from militia groups across the country. They are vague about their intention and their plans, unsettling the community and putting law enforcement on edge. The militia plan a rally and a parade on Saturday, circling the county courthouse that houses the sheriff’s office.

    The militia members have been insisting that Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward create a sanctuary so the Hammonds will be immune from surrendering. Ward met with the militiamen and rejected that demand. The militia has since labeled him an “enemy of the people.” Ward said he has received emailed death threats among thousands of messages from across the country regarding the Hammonds.

    Two weeks ago, Bundy and Payne roused 60 or so local citizens to their cause at a community meeting. They rented the Memorial Building at the fairgrounds for the night. They taped themselves lecturing the locals on their rights, on the Constitution, and on their duty to protect themselves.

    The Harney County situation is the second time this year Oregon has been the national rallying point for militias. Last spring, miners fighting with the Bureau of Land Management over paperwork outside Medford found themselves enveloped with militia defenders. Militia members eventually left – but only after claiming they beat back the government. An administrative law judge temporarily stopped BLM action against the miners.

    Nevada showdown

    Militiamen by the hundreds flowed to Nevada that year to help rancher Cliven Bundy. The BLM was corralling his cattle that it said were trespassing on public land. The agency said Bundy hadn’t paid grazing fees for 20 years, amassing more than $1 million in bills.

    Payne, an Army veteran, came to the rancher’s defense. In later interviews, Payne said he was the “militia adviser” to Bundy. Payne helped array armed civilians against the federal agents.

    “We had counter-sniper positions on their sniper positions. We had at least one guy—sometimes two guys—per BLM agent in there,” Payne told a Montana weekly, the Independent. “If they made one wrong move, every single BLM agent in that camp would’ve died.”

    Ammon Bundy, Cliven Bundy’s third son, was there too.

    As the nation watched, the BLM called off the cattle collection and withdrew in the face of the armed militia. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups across the country, said in a 2014 report on the Bundy standoff that the government’s retreat empowered the militiamen.

    Ryan Lenz with the law center was on the ground in Nevada and later interviewed Payne for the report. Lenz said the Harney County development isn’t surprising.

    “What’s happening is very much what everyone feared would happen in the aftermath of the Bundy standoff,” Lenz said. “The rule of law was suspended with the barrel of a gun.”

    Aiding the Hammonds

    Bundy and Payne say they met with both Dwight and Susan Hammond at their home in November. Bundy said he helped the ranchers move cows one day.

    The Hammonds initially accepted the militia’s offer of help to avoid prison, Bundy said. But the Hammonds changed their minds after being warned by federal prosecutors to stop communicating with the militia, Bundy wrote in a blog post.

    The Hammonds declined interview requests and didn’t respond to written questions about their dealings with the militiamen. A Boise lawyer representing the Hammonds said in a letter to the sheriff that Bundy didn’t speak for the ranchers and that they intended to surrender as required.

    Bundy and Payne and their associates are persisting, though. They explain in deliberate, calm tones their reasoning.

    The federal government claims title to most of the land in Harney County, the ninth largest county in the United States. Bundy and Payne maintain that Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution limits what the federal government can own, and that the government’s claim to much of Harney County violates that limit. The federal government consequently has no authority to prosecute the Hammonds.

    Bundy and Payne, who said he has moved to Harney County, have pressed the matter on several fronts. They have insisted that Ward, the sheriff, protect the Hammonds. They have written other elected officials in the county and in Oregon asserting the same demand.

    Some residents have shown interest in the group’s cause.

    Locals voted seven of their own onto a new Harney County Committee of Safety, including ranchers, a retired fire chief, and a tax preparer.

    Payne and Bundy said the committee would decide how to address the Hammond conflict. But Bundy quickly created a website for the group and drafted a sharply-worded letter to the sheriff for the committee to issue.

    Citizens on the committee said they authorized none of it.

    Local dissent

    Chris Briels, Burns fire chief for 24 years, said he was intrigued by the constitutional arguments raised by Payne and Bundy. But he said he also felt pushed too hard by Bundy to act. Briels said he is no anarchist.

    The militia, Briels said, “seems like a bunch of people ready to shoot. I don’t want that in my county.”

    Melodi Molt, a rancher and former president of Oregon CattleWomen, joined Briels on the new committee. She’s troubled by what’s happened to the Hammonds – but also worried about what her community faces with the outsiders.

    “We’re not from the militia,” said Molt. “We’re not going to come in with guns and overthrow the government.”

    The state’s largest agriculture associations have vigorously defended the Hammonds since they were charged but want no part of the brewing militia action.

    “I don’t think people lining up in front of them with weapons or any kind of threats are going to help the Hammonds at all,” said Barry Bushue, Oregon Farm Bureau president.

    Billy Williams, Oregon’s U.S. attorney, has also weighed in. In a lengthy statement to the Burns Times-Herald, Williams explained why the Hammonds were prosecuted. He then warned: “Any criminal behavior contemplated by those who may object to the court’s mandate that harms someone will not be tolerated and will result in serious consequences.”

    Payne and Bundy say it’s up to local residents what happens next. If the locals decide to declare the county a sanctuary for the Hammonds, the militia is ready.

    “We’re sending the message: We will protect you,” Payne said.

    Such talk rattles the community, as has conduct locals blame on the strangers.

    Tensions persist.

    A Utah man tied to Bundy and Payne disrupted a state court session, insisting the judge empanel a special grand jury to investigate the Hammond matter. Federal employees report they have been followed around town and to their homes. Payne said no one in his group has followed federal employees. But he acknowledged knocking on the front door of a home featuring a handmade “Go Home Bundys” sign. Payne said he wanted to understand the homeowner’s concerns.

    Signs on street poles pronounce, “Militia go home!”

    Others reply: “You are the militia.”

    One episode in particular has upset the community.

    The sheriff said three militiamen and one woman, one with a gun strapped to his hip, engaged his 74-year-old mother and 78-year-old father at a yard sale being held at the American Legion. When the men criticized the sheriff, his mother bristled, and said she didn’t need their protection from the government.

    Later, the men showed up at the sheriff’s office to complain about the exchange involving his mother.

    She had, they said, threatened them.

    “The militia members have been insisting that Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward create a sanctuary so the Hammonds will be immune from surrendering. Ward met with the militiamen and rejected that demand. The militia has since labeled him an “enemy of the people.” Ward said he has received emailed death threats among thousands of messages from across the country regarding the Hammonds.
    Yep, you’re either with ’em, or you’re an “enemy of the people,” despite the fact that the vast majority of “the people” living in that area don’t actually want a militia-led showdown, including the Hammonds. It also doesn’t help if you’re the mother or father of an “enemy of the people”.


    The sheriff said three militiamen and one woman, one with a gun strapped to his hip, engaged his 74-year-old mother and 78-year-old father at a yard sale being held at the American Legion. When the men criticized the sheriff, his mother bristled, and said she didn’t need their protection from the government.

    Later, the men showed up at the sheriff’s office to complain about the exchange involving his mother.

    She had, they said, threatened them.

    Yes, it’s the 74-year-old mother of the country sheriff that’s the big threat in this situation. Jon Ritzheimer might need a new GoFundMe page.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 2, 2016, 4:07 pm
  26. So the militia members who descended on Harney County, Oregon under the banner of offering “protection” from state and federal officials to a pair of ranchers just made it completely clear that they have a lot more than just “protecting” the ranchers in mind: Following a planned protest by the militias and other Hammond supports on Saturday, Ammon Bundy just took a group of apparently 100 militia members to seize control of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge headquarters, and proclaimed that they won’t leave until their demands are met. And they’re willing to die or spend years in that refuge in order to see their demands met.

    And what are those demands? Well, there’s the expected demand that the arson charges are dropped against the Hammonds. And then there’s the demand that probably put a smile on the face of folks like the Koch brothers who used the previous Bundy showdown to promote an agenda for having federal government liquidate public lands and sell them off to the Kochs. It’s their demand that the wildlife refuge be shut down forever, and the federal government relinquishes control over and give it all to private interests.

    That’s right. Ammon Bundy, and apparently a hundred other militia members, just declared that they’re willing to die unless their Sovereign Citizen worldview gets declared the law of the land. And it’s a worldview that just happens to coincide with the interests the Koch brothers.

    Might we be in store for another round of Koch-backed ‘Bundy Buddies’ groups suddenly popping up? Or did Cliven Bundy’s previous comments on “the Negro” sort of end the viability of the Bundy clan to reignite the magic that made them a right-wing media darling back in 2014. We’ll see, but in the mean time, some ‘sovereign citizens’ just took themselves hostage again:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive
    Militia takes over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters

    By Les Zaitz

    on January 02, 2016 at 6:15 PM, updated January 03, 2016 at 5:27 PM

    Update at 9:15 p.m.: Statement from Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward: “After the peaceful rally was completed today, a group of outside militants drove to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, where they seized and occupied the refuge headquarters. A collective effort from multiple agencies is currently working on a solution. For the time being please stay away from that area. More information will be provided as it becomes available. Please maintain a peaceful and united front and allow us to work through this situation.”

    The Bundy family of Nevada joined with hard-core militiamen Saturday to take over the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, vowing to occupy the remote federal outpost 30 miles southeast of Burns for years.

    The occupation came shortly after an estimated 300 marchers — militia and local citizens both — paraded through Burns to protest the prosecution of two Harney County ranchers, Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, who are to report to prison on Monday.

    Among the occupiers is Ammon Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, and two of his brothers. Militia members at the refuge claimed they had as many as 100 supporters with them. The refuge, federal property managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was closed and unoccupied for the holiday weekend.

    In phone interviews from inside the occupied building Saturday night, Ammon Bundy and his brother, Ryan Bundy, said they are not looking to hurt anyone. But they would not rule out violence if police tried to remove them, they said.

    “The facility has been the tool to do all the tyranny that has been placed upon the Hammonds,” Ammon Bundy said.

    “We’re planning on staying here for years, absolutely,” he added. “This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute.”

    Neither man would say how many people are in the building or whether they are armed. Ryan Bundy said there were no hostages, but the group is demanding that the Hammonds be released and the federal government relinquish control of the Malheur National Forest.

    He said many would be willing to fight — and die, if necessary — to defend what they see as constitutionally protected rights for states, counties and individuals to manage local lands.

    “The best possible outcome is that the ranchers that have been kicked out of the area, then they will come back and reclaim their land, and the wildlife refuge will be shut down forever and the federal government will relinquish such control,” he said. “What we’re doing is not rebellious. What we’re doing is in accordance with the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land.”

    Government sources told The Oregonian/OregonLive that the militia also was planning to occupy a closed wildland fire station near the town of Frenchglen. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management posts crews there during the fire season.

    Law enforcement officials so far have not commented on the situation. Oregon State Police, the Harney County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI were involved.

    Ammon Bundy posted a video on his Facebook page calling on patriots from across the country to report to the refuge – with their weapons.

    The dramatic turn came after other militia groups had tried to dampen community concerns they meant trouble.

    Brandon Curtiss, a militia leader from Idaho, told The Oregonian/OregonLive he knew nothing about the occupation. He helped organize Saturday’s protest and was at the Harney County Fairgrounds with dozens of other militia for a post-parade function. Another militia leader, BJ Soper, took to Facebook to denounce the occupation.

    The occupation is being led by hard-core militia who adopted the Hammond cause as their own.

    Ammon Bundy met with Dwight Hammond and his wife in November, seeking a way to keep the elderly rancher from having to surrender for prison. The Hammonds professed through their attorneys that they had no interest in ignoring the order to report for prison.

    Ammon Bundy said the goal is to turn over federal land to local ranchers, loggers and miners. He said he met with 10 or so residents in Burns on Friday to try to recruit them, but they declined.

    “We went to the local communities and presented it many times and to many different people,” he said. “They were not strong enough to make the stand. So many individuals across the United States and in Oregon are making this stand. We hope they will grab onto this and realize that it’s been happening.”

    Among those joining Bundy in the occupation are Ryan Payne, U.S. Army veteran, and Blaine Cooper. Payne has claimed to have helped organize militia snipers to target federal agents in a standoff last year in Nevada. He told one news organization the federal agents would have been killed had they made the wrong move.

    He has been a steady presence in Burns in recent weeks, questioning people who were critical of the militia’s presence. He typically had a holstered sidearm as he moved around the community.

    Cooper, another militia leader, said at that meeting he participated in the Bundy standoff in Nevada.

    “I went there to defend Cliven with my life,” Cooper said.

    “He said many would be willing to fight — and die, if necessary — to defend what they see as constitutionally protected rights for states, counties and individuals to manage local lands.”
    That’s a pretty good way to summarize their stated goals: Either their constitutional theories become federal land management law, and they will violently defend that wildlife management building until that happens.

    And Jon Ritzheimer even made his ‘goodbye cruel world’ suicide video. He actually addresses Dwight Hammond, who told authorities he’s planning on reporting to prison instead of joining the armed land management insurrection, and asks Hammond to die with the militia instead of choosing to die in prison, labeled a terrorist, at ~4:20 – 5:20 in the video.

    Presumably the Hammonds are going to show up for jail since that’s what their lawyer is indicating at this point, but it’s also worth noting that, according to this article below from 1994 about the Hammonds and their squabbles with the BLM, the Hammonds were using legal arguments that were awfully close to what Cliven Bundy was using to reject paying his grazing fees: use of that land was a historic right that his family has had since 1871 so no coordination with federal land managers was required. Another parallel with the Bundys was the Hammonds’ repeated threats to kill BLM officials over the years. And there’s even a parallel with the Hammonds’ current legal predicament: following a letter on their behalf from Oregon’s Senator Bob Smith, the jail time they were facing over their obstruction of a federal fence (which was being built after the Hammond’s repeated violations of federal lands) using a construction vehicle was significantly reduced…in the sense that the charges appear to have been dropped completely since the hearings were postponed indefinitely according to the article below and there’s no indication he was ever sentenced.

    So if Hammond does end up joining with the militia in this latest armed standoff, we can be a little surprised but not super surprised since almost nothing about this situation is surprising:

    High Country News
    Ranchers arrested at wildlife refuge

    Kathie Durbin Oct. 3, 1994

    BURNS, Ore. – The arrest of Dwight Hammond, a hot-tempered eastern Oregon cattle rancher, has galvanized a nasty campaign of retribution against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

    It all began when federal agents arrested Hammond and his son Steven, Aug. 3. That turned a long-simmering dispute over cattle, fences and water on the Malheur Wildlife Refuge into a bizarre Old West showdown.

    Federal officials and a fence-building crew were attempting to build a fence to keep the Hammonds’ cattle from trespassing on the refuge. When Hammond and his son obstructed federal workers, they were taken into custody by nine federal agents, five of whom were armed.

    The Hammonds were charged with two counts each of felony “disturbing and interfering with” federal officials or federal contractors. The Hammonds spent one night in the Deschutes County Jail in Bend, and a second night behind bars in Portland before they were hauled before a federal magistrate and released without bail.

    On Aug. 10, nearly 500 incensed ranchers showed up at a rally in Burns featuring wise-use speaker Chuck Cushman of the American Land Rights Association, formerly the National Inholders Association. Cushman later issued a fax alert urging Hammond’s supporters to flood refuge employees with protest calls. Some employees reported getting threatening calls at home.

    Cushman plans to print a poster with the names and photos of federal agents and refuge managers involved in the arrest and distribute it nationally. “We have no way to fight back other than to make them pariahs in their community,” he said.

    Picking up the theme, the Oregon Lands Coalition declared in a recent newsletter, “It’s time to get out the yellow ribbons – this is a hostage situation!”

    On Aug. 11, Rep. Bob Smith, R-Ore., weighed in on the Hammonds’ behalf in a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. “The acts of your agents last week cause my constituents to lose faith in their government,” wrote Smith, who was under the erroneous impression that Hammond was arrested at his home rather than on refuge land.

    The pressure apparently paid off. On Aug. 15, the U.S. attorney’s office in Portland reduced the charges against the Hammonds from felonies carrying a maximum penalty of three years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine to misdemeanors that could mean jail terms of up to one year and fines of up to $100,000 on each count. A hearing on the charges, originally scheduled for early September, has been postponed indefinitely.

    According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, Dwight Hammond had repeatedly violated a special permit that allowed him to move his cows across the refuge only at specific times. In June, refuge manager Forrest Cameron notified Hammond that his right to graze cattle and grow hay on the lush waterfowl haven south of Burns was revoked. The feds also said they planned to build a fence along the refuge boundary to keep Hammond’s cows out of an irrigation canal.

    The events of Aug. 3 are outlined in the sworn affidavit of special agent Earl M. Kisler, who assisted in the Hammonds’ arrest. On the day the fence was to be built, the crew and refuge officials arrived to find Hammond had parked his Caterpillar scraper squarely on the boundary line and disabled it, removing the battery and draining fuel lines. When a tow truck arrived to move it, Dwight Hammond showed up, leaped to the controls of the scraper and hit a lever that lowered the bucket, narrowly missing another special agent. Meanwhile, said Kisler, Steve Hammond shouted obscenities at federal officials. Neither Hammond resisted arrest.

    “The refuge has been trying to work with Hammond for many years,” said agency spokeswoman Susan Saul. A thick file at refuge headquarters reveals just how patient refuge managers have been. Hammond allegedly made death threats against previous managers in 1986 and 1988 and against Cameron, the current manager, in 1991 and again this year. Saul said Hammond has never given the required 24 hours’ notice before moving his cows across the refuge and that he allowed the cows to linger for as long as three days, trespassing along streams and trampling young willows that refuge workers had planted to repair damage wrought by years of overgrazing.

    Susie Hammond, Dwight’s wife, said the cattle trail is a “historic right of way” that has been in use since 1871. “We have never had a permit,” she said. “We have a right to use it.”

    “A thick file at refuge headquarters reveals just how patient refuge managers have been. Hammond allegedly made death threats against previous managers in 1986 and 1988 and against Cameron, the current manager, in 1991 and again this year
    And yet, following their arrest and possible jail time after they almost injured a contractor during their fence-blocking stunt, the rallying cry from the Hammonds’ supporters were things like, “It’s time to get out the yellow ribbons – this is a hostage situation!”

    That was, of course, before Senator Smith intervenes and the charges were all postponed indefinitely:


    On Aug. 11, Rep. Bob Smith, R-Ore., weighed in on the Hammonds’ behalf in a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. “The acts of your agents last week cause my constituents to lose faith in their government,” wrote Smith, who was under the erroneous impression that Hammond was arrested at his home rather than on refuge land.

    The pressure apparently paid off. On Aug. 15, the U.S. attorney’s office in Portland reduced the charges against the Hammonds from felonies carrying a maximum penalty of three years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine to misdemeanors that could mean jail terms of up to one year and fines of up to $100,000 on each count. A hearing on the charges, originally scheduled for early September, has been postponed indefinitely.

    Yes, if the Hammonds’ self-declared “historic right of way” of their favorite cattle trails or other legal theories are declared the law of the land, folks like the Hammonds will because created “hostage situations” by openly defying the federal government and then decrying the federal tyranny when they’re arrested for it. At least, that was back in 1994. Flash forward to 2016, and how these self-declared “hostage situations” not only involve demands that folks like Hammonds see their charges dropped (again), but now entire wildlife refuges need to be privatized too. And if that doesn’t happen, the hostages will refuse to free themselves and continue holding themselves hostage.

    That’s the situation, which is part of why the 1994 rallying cry, “It’s time to get out the yellow ribbons – this is a hostage situation!” has become oddly appropriate again. How so? Well, the yellow ribbon as a symbol of people held in captivity became popularized with the taking of US hostages by Iranian Islamic revolutionaries in 1979, and later became a symbol of pro-democracy movements. And part of the greatest power of democracy is that we all get to share the sovereignty instead of it residing exclusively in the hands of the self-anointed ones (with guns). So those yellow pro-democracy ribbons are partially about bringing sovereignty to all of the citizens (which, of course, involves creating and enforcing laws). And yet now we have a group of ‘sovereign citizens’ that just effectively took themselves hostage unless we all agree to skip the normal democratic mechanism of voting, law and order, and non-violent civil disobedience, and instead allow their self-hostage-taking antics to result in us all agreeing to their demands. Demands which happen to be rooted in strange ‘sovereign citizen’ legal theories that would impose a far-right theocracy on us all.

    Yep, this is definitely a yellow ribbon situation.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 3, 2016, 9:01 pm
  27. With the latest armed militia standoff in Oregon still in its early stages (they warned it could go on for years), it’s worth noting that, unlike with the 2014 showdown at the Bundy Ranch, this latest showdown is probably going to remain Oath Keeper-free:

    Talking Points Memo News
    Oath Keepers Founder: Bundy’s Oregon Effort ‘Manufactured By Potheads’

    By Sara Jerde
    Published January 4, 2016, 12:15 PM EST

    The founder of the Oath Keepers, a loosely organized anti-government militia group, criticized Ammon Bundy for protesting the arson convictions of a pair of Oregon ranchers shortly before Bundy led the takeover of an empty national wildlife refuge on Saturday.

    Stewart Rhodes, president and founder of the Oath Keepers, posted a video statement on the ranchers’ situation in which he criticized the son of infamous Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy for taking up the cause of Dwight and Stewart Hammond. Rhodes branded those involved with Ammon Bundy’s protest as “potheads.”

    “The Oath Keepers will not be involved in an armed stand off that’s being manufactured by potheads who want a fight because this is going to be a bad fight, not a righteous moral high ground fight,” Rhodes said in the video, which was posted Thursday.

    On Saturday, Bundy led group of armed militia members who splintered off from a peaceful protest march in support of the Hammonds and occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

    A lawyer for the Hammonds has said Bundy doesn’t speak for the father-son duo. Rhodes pointed to that as a reason why Bundy should call off his protest.

    “If they don’t want their family in the middle of an armed stand off, I don’t think it’s right for us to go in there and try to force that on them,” Rhodes said. “I think that’s the wrong way to go.”

    The Hammonds, who were convicted of arson in 2012, have already served time in jail for setting a fire that spread to federal land. But an appellate judge recently ruled that the two men needed to serve additional time in keeping with the federal mandatory minimum sentence for the crime.

    Bundy has argued that the Hammonds weren’t given a fair trial, which Rhodes also disputed in his response.

    “If you’re gonna stand up against abuse, you better have your ducks in a row and be able to show that this was not a fair trial,” Rhodes said.

    Bundy posted his own response Friday to Rhodes’ video and said that while he has respect for Rhodes, the Oath Keepers founder “does not understand what is truly transpiring or he has chosen to be in opposition.”

    Bundy also asserted that he spoke to the Hammonds, whom he suggested gave his group their blessing.

    “They have said multiple times that this is about Harney County, that this is about the United States and each person in it, that if we do not stand and put these things to an end that what has happened to them will happen to more and more people,” Bundy said. “And it is that simple. That the blatant violations of the Constitution will become the normal, will become a precedence. This is their message, that this is what they have very clearly communicated to me. That this is more than about them and that they support us standing.”

    “The Oath Keepers will not be involved in an armed stand off that’s being manufactured by potheads who want a fight because this is going to be a bad fight, not a righteous moral high ground fight”
    Those are some strong words from the head of the Oath Keepers, and would seem to suggest that the legal theories underpinning this latest armed standoff between the ‘sovereign citizen’-leaning militias and the government don’t even meet the Oath Keepers’ bar for a situation that warrants an armed showdown. And that’s not exactly a high bar, so it’s going to be interesting to see how much support Ammon Bundy and his crew can garner from across the previously pro-Bundy branches of the far-right.

    Of course, we shouldn’t forget that Stewart Rhodes and the Oath Keepers don’t exactly have the best relationship with some of the figures leading this latest standoff. After all, Ryan Payne, the fellow who bragged about setting up militia sniper teams and who is helping lead the current showdown in Oregon, openly discussed shooting Rhodes during the 2014 Bundy ranch showdown after Rhodes pulled his Oath Keepers out of “a kill zone” that never was:

    Southern Poverty Law Center
    Hatewatch
    Back at the Bundy Ranch, It’s Oath Keepers vs. Militiamen as Wild Rumors Fly

    David Neiwert
    April 30, 2014

    It was the imminent drone attack that finally did it.

    Paranoid rumors are not only common at gatherings of antigovernment “Patriots,” they’re practically the entire raison d’etre for them. So when a wild and paranoid rumor began circulating – that Attorney General Eric Holder was preparing a drone strike on the armed militiamen who gathered at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada – it unleashed a rift within the camp, which is brimming with fear, rage, testosterone and firearms.

    Apparently, someone within one of the major factions at the camp, the Oath Keepers, relayed word of the imminent drone attack to his leaders. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes responded by pulling his people out of what they called “the kill zone” (the area the supposed drone would be striking). When the other militiamen learned that the Oath Keepers had pulled out, they were outraged.

    As you can see in the video below, the angry militiamen – led by a Montana “Patriot” named Ryan Payne, who has been acting as the spokesman for the militiamen at the ranch – held an impromptu gathering at the camp to discuss the situation. They openly talk about shooting Rhodes and other Oath Keepers leaders – because in their view, the Oath Keepers’ actions constituted “desertion” and “cowardice” – and describe how “the whole thing is falling apart over there.” At the end, they vote unanimously to oust the Oath Keepers, or at least its leadership, from the Bundy Ranch camp.

    PAYNE: We are open to gentlemanly conversation. But this man and the people that obeyed that order have violated my personal creed. You don’t fu cking walk in and say, ‘I’m sorry,’ and you’re back in, brother. You can walk in and say you’re sorry, and you’re lucky that you’re not getting shot in the back. Because that’s what happens to deserters on the battlefield.

    For his part, Rhodes and his fellow Oath Keepers are keeping a stiff upper lip about the rejection. Rhodes himself has returned to his Montana home, reportedly for a family birthday, and his underlings say he plans to return. Oath Keepers organizer Elias Alias (aka Franklin Shook) described the incident on the group’s website as an effort “to sabotage the Bundy stand against the government,” and reported that other “Patriot” movement leaders, including militiaman Mike Vanderboegh and Sheriff Richard Mack, remain firmly within their camp.

    Alias also tried to explain the incoming-drone rumor:

    Yes, it is true: Oath Keepers received a bizarre bit of leaked info which could not be verified but which also could not be ignored. Our contact is connected with the Department of Defense – or ‘was’. The info we received stated that Eric Holder of the Department of Justice had okayed a drone strike on the Bundy ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada, within a 48 hour period over the weekend of April 26/27, 2014.

    That, fortunately, turned out to be ‘dis-info’ – a false rumor. And though it came from a trusted source, Oath Keepers could neither prove nor disprove it.

    In the ensuing panic at the camp, “Oath Keepers advised people there to consider evacuation,” Alias said. He referred to the angry reaction of the militiamen as “backwash”.

    He also admitted that there was a great deal of contention about how $40,000 raised on behalf of the Bundy family through the Oath Keepers was handled, since the organization wound up only writing the family a check for $12,500.

    Another YouTube video, which has since been removed, but transcripts of which were posted at DailyKos, revealed the depths of the militiamen’s animus towards Rhodes and his organization. One of them – the nominal “head of security” for the Bundy family, a man nicknamed “Booda Bear” – rants angrily:

    My guys sleep in the dirt out here, we’re on shifts for 14 hours a day and trying to make sure that this family stays safe and secure … and just so everybody knows, as Booda, head of security for the Bundy Family I can swear on the white skin that covers my ass there will not be an Oath Keeper — there WILL NOT BE AN OATH KEEPER allowed to set foot on the internal ranch property.

    Alias responded to these slurs by suggesting that “Booda” and pals were actually FBI plants:

    Some of the purported “leaders” of the militia at the ranch are doing exactly what any agent provocateur would do after having infiltrated the militia and claimed a role in leadership. Did you notice the massive ego about who is going to command who? Did you notice the drama in the tendency to speak of Oath Keepers as if we were a militia, which we are not. These militia “leaders” would judge us by battlefield standards even though there has not been a “battlefield” since April 12, 2014? They would shoot us for desertion? Really? That is amazing, and is the kind of bumbling consciousness which a conditioned and programmed special warfare officer or a federal agent would offer if he had to think on his feet of a sudden.

    “PAYNE: We are open to gentlemanly conversation. But this man and the people that obeyed that order have violated my personal creed. You don’t fu cking walk in and say, ‘I’m sorry,’ and you’re back in, brother. You can walk in and say you’re sorry, and you’re lucky that you’re not getting shot in the back. Because that’s what happens to deserters on the battlefield.
    Yep, one of the leaders of the current standoff, Ryan Payne, wanted to shoot the Oath Keepers in 2014 after Rhodes pulled his men out of the “kill zone” following the warning to the Bundy ranch militias from an Oath Keeper source that a government drone attack was coming. And Oath Keepers responded by suggesting that Payne might himself be a government agent provocateur.

    Some of the purported “leaders” of the militia at the ranch are doing exactly what any agent provocateur would do after having infiltrated the militia and claimed a role in leadership. Did you notice the massive ego about who is going to command who? Did you notice the drama in the tendency to speak of Oath Keepers as if we were a militia, which we are not. These militia “leaders” would judge us by battlefield standards even though there has not been a “battlefield” since April 12, 2014? They would shoot us for desertion? Really? That is amazing, and is the kind of bumbling consciousness which a conditioned and programmed special warfare officer or a federal agent would offer if he had to think on his feet of a sudden.

    So if you’re one of the current occupants of the wildlife refuge headquarters, and the prospect of living there indefinitely with a hundred other militia types (and presumably a limited supply of food, water, and toilet paper) starts sounding less and less appealing, at least there is some good news: Ryan Payne might not shoot you when you leave…assuming he’s actually a federal agent. It’s not great news, although pretty ironic.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 4, 2016, 2:33 pm
  28. It sounds like authorities have a plan for dealing with the Bundy-led pro-sedition group who decided to occupy a wildlife refuge in rural Oregon until the federal government privatizes federal lands (and whatever other demands they can come up with): Just cut off the power to the building and wait for the freezing temperatures and lack of supplies to force them out. So the militia occupying that building will probably get their winter survival skills put to the test fairly soon which means we have to hope they don’t end up accidentally lighting the place on fire in an attempt to stay warm and ‘Waco’-ing themselves in the process.

    But if they can somehow find a way to sustainably survive in these conditions for a matter of weeks or longer, it also means that this standoff could end up having a real impact on the GOP primary since a big chunk of the GOP base is inevitably going to be at least moderately sympathetic to any entity that’s looking for a showdown with the government. And that means general din coming from the remaining occupants of the 2016 GOP Clown Car is probably going to be forced to include a lot more uncomfortable proclamations of sympathy and disapproval:

    The New York Times
    Republican Candidates Tread Carefully to Oregon Protest Standoff

    By Alan Rappeport

    1/5/2015 11:49 am ET

    The Republican Party is one that espouses the virtues of limited government, but this year’s group of presidential candidates is treading carefully as a standoff between authorities and armed antigovernment protesters in Oregon drags on.

    While some Republicans were supportive of the plight of Cliven Bundy’s clash with the government in 2014 over the use of federal lands, most presidential candidates are siding with law and order this time around. But they are doing so with varying degrees of empathy about the cause of the armed protesters, who took over a remote wildlife refuge over the prosecution of two ranchers.

    A roundup of what they have had to say:

    Senator Marco Rubio: “You can’t be lawless,” Mr. Rubio told KBUR radio. “We live in a republic. There are ways to change the laws of this country and the policies. If we get frustrated with it, that’s why we have elections.”

    Senator Ted Cruz: “Every one of us has the constitutional right to protest and speak our minds. But we don’t have a constitutional right to use force and violence and to threaten force and violence on others.”

    Senator Rand Paul: “I’m sympathetic to the idea that the large collection of federal lands ought to be turned back to the states and the people, but I think the best way to bring about change is through politics,” Mr. Paul told The Washington Post. “That’s why I entered the electoral arena. I don’t support any violence or suggestion of violence toward changing policy.”

    Former Senator Rick Santorum: “I certainly don’t like the tactics they are using,” Mr. Santorum told CNN. “We have room for protesters and we have room for people exercise their rights, at the same time there are consequences that have to be paid for people who do break the law.”

    Gov. Chris Christie: “There has to be an appropriate mix of firmness in terms of the enforcement of the law and care to make sure that you do not unduly put human life at risk.In the end the job of law enforcement is to enforce the law.”

    Ben Carson: “I would think that we should try to look at things from both perspectives. Why, in fact, do these ranchers feel that way? Let’s hear their grievances. I don’t condone them taking over, you know, a federal building. You know, we have better ways of expressing our displeasure than that.”

    Gov. John Kasich: “I haven’t heard about this,” Mr. Kasich said in an interview with The Des Moines Register on Monday. “When did this come out?”

    So, in contrast to the GOP’s broad embrace of Cliven Bundy’s 2014 standoff, this time around the GOP candidates listed above appeared to be largely disapproving of the Bundy band’s tactics with the exception of Rand Paul and Ben Carson.

    But also notice whose opinion on the matter isn’t listed above: current front-runner Donald Trump. It’s an odd silence considering the amount of attention this story has received in the last few days. But when you factor in that the Trump campaign’s “Veterans for Trump” co-chair in New Hampshire, Jerry DeLemus, was actually part of the original Bundy Ranch standoff, maybe the silence isn’t so odd. And more just awkward:

    The Daily Beast

    ‘Veteran for Trump’ Backed the Bundys

    The candidate hasn’t weighed in on the militia protest over federal lands in Oregon, but his ‘Veterans for Trump’ coalition co-chair was a member of the last band of merry men, led by Cliven Bundy, to take over federal land.

    Gideon Resnick
    01.05.16 12:00 AM ET

    Jerry DeLemus may be from New Hampshire, but his heart is in Oregon, where the offspring of his beloved former associate Cliven Bundy are holding a refuge on federal land hostage.

    The 61-year-old with a white close-cropped goatee, often pictured in various forms of militaristic camo gear, went on a 41-hour road trip to Nevada in 2014 to support the efforts of Cliven Bundy and his ranchers in their standoff with the federal government. Now over a year later, Delemus serves as a co-chair for the “Veterans for Trump” coalition in New Hampshire.

    While other GOP candidates have either remained silent or chosen to distance themselves from the action in Oregon, Trump has the most direct connection to one of the movement’s biggest supporters, who heads a key Trump coalition in a critical state.

    DeLemus, who did not respond to a request for comment for this article, has a history of promoting militia action. In 2013 he tried to turn the Rochester, New Hampshire wing of Glenn Beck’s 9-12 Group into a militia, at that time, to fight against the possibility of another financial collapse.

    “I believe that we have another financial collapse coming soon and it will be worse than the one in 2008,” Delemus warned. “There are stark differences we must realize that we have nearly a 0% interest rate and our debt is nearly double. Not to mention our credit rating has been dropped. On top of this we have a government that has no respect or regard for the rule of law as provided in our Constitution.

    If we do not stand against this insanity we can be sure we will fully slip into tyranny. We are in a similar position our Founding Fathers found themselves in and their decision to stand was equally difficult.”

    DeLemus is perhaps best known this campaign cycle for arranging a New Hampshire town hall in September during which Trump failed to correct a man in the audience who called President Obama a Muslim (something which now seems modest compared to Trump’s recent statements).

    New Hampshire State Representative Dan Itse, now a local town chair for Trump, introduced legislation to establish a permanent state defense force after hearing Delemus speak, but it was deemed inexpedient and died. He thinks that it’s still necessary.

    “I am still interested in requiring the organization of the militia in the constitutional sense (RSA 111 State Guard). That is a militia of which the Governor is the Commander in Chief,” he told The Daily Beast. “I have made several attempts to require its organization. For several terms, the claim was that it would cost too much.”

    He said he didn’t know what Trump would do if he were president now.

    One of the reasons why Delemus likes Trump so much is that he too abhors political correctness. In June last year, the radical wanna-be militiaman planned on scheduling a “Draw Muhammed” event in New Hampshire similar to the one which turned violent in Garland, Texas.

    “I’m not worried about taking a risk,” he said at the time. “It’s more important to defend our way of life in this country, our constitutional rights, for everybody.”

    Trump may not have been a big fan of this plan as he has previously criticized Pamela Geller, the Islamophobic writer behind the original Texas event.It is unclear at this stage if Delemus will make a journey out to Oregon to rekindle his role as “commander of Camp Liberty,” his so-called title as he enforced security at the Bundy ranch in 2014.

    “I have not spoken to Jerry DeLemus about this situation at all,” Dan Tamburello, another co-chair of Veterans for Trump and a state representative in New Hampshire told The Daily Beast. He said the group does not have an official stance on the militia occupation at the moment. But Tamburello thinks Trump is the best-equipped person to deal with it.

    “I have no doubts a President Trump would seek a rational resolution to the situation, while carefully finding and dealing with the root cause,” Tamburello said. “Donald Trump is the world’s greatest negotiator; he would be fully capable of bringing things to a just conclusion considering all parties and the law.”

    He added that he doesn’t have a great deal of knowledge about the Bundys latest anti-governmental stand.

    “I have not examined the situation in Oregon in detail, so I do not have an opinion at this time. I do believe law-abiding citizens have an inherent right of self defense and I am also a firm believer in the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

    Trump’s campaign has not responded to a request for comment about the issue and many candidates, on both the left and right side of the aisle, had little to say on Sunday when asked by The Daily Beast. A spokesman for Mike Huckabee’s campaign simply responded “what happened?” when asked and by the end of the day no one had a statement on the events which had transpired.

    On Monday, one of the few candidates to discuss the issue at all was Ted Cruz, who interestingly enough has his own ties to Jerry Delemus after Cruz joined a small group of lawmakers who briefly defended rogue cattle rancher Cliven Bundy.

    In 2014, Cruz said he backed the core reasons behind Bundy’s fight for freedom calling it an “unfortunate and tragic culmination of the path that President Obama has set the federal government upon.”

    “The details of the Bundy matter may be complicated,” Cruz said. “But I think the reason that this issue is resonating—it’s resonating in Nevada and Texas, and resonating across the country—is that for five years, we have seen our liberty under assault. We have seen our liberty under assault from a federal government that seems hell-bent on expanding its authority over every aspect of our lives.”

    Now, nearly two years later, Cruz took a different tack and said that the militiamen should “stand down peaceably.”

    “We don’t have a constitutional right to use force and violence and to threaten force and violence against others,” he added to reporters in Iowa on Monday.

    Trump hasn’t commented on the Oregon stand off but it wouldn’t be entirely out of character if he came out and supported his militaristic co-chair and the Bundys. In 2014, during an interview with Sean Hannity, Trump said Cliven Bundy was making an admirable effort.

    “I like his spirit, I like his spunk,” Trump said. “He ought to go and cut a good deal right now.

    “I like his spirit, I like his spunk…He ought to go and cut a good deal right now.”
    That was Trump’s take on Cliven Bundy’s 2014 standoff which is part of why, as the article indicates, it wouldn’t be entirely out of character if he came out in support of the latest Bundy-led act of sedition.

    It all begs the question of just what kind of deal a President Trump would have accepted back in 2014 and what might he accept with the Oregon insurrection now? We can only speculate since his campaign has yet to elucidate his stance on this latest standoff. But as Dean Obeidallah points out below, given the fact that Ammon Bundy has pledge not to leave until the political policies he wants to see implement (privatizing federal lands) are put in place and given the fact that he’s threatening violence if any attempts are made to remove him and his followers, it’s not very hard to classify the standoff as not just an act of sedition but a full blown act of terrorism. And while it seems highly unlikely that Trump would actually classify this latest standoff as an act of terrorism given the politics of the situation, it’s worth recalling that, if this was actually treated as an act of terrorism, Trump has already advocated that the families of terrorists should be “taken out” in retaliation:

    CNN
    Trump, call Oregon siege terrorism

    By Dean Obeidallah

    Updated 8:32 AM ET, Tue January 5, 2016

    (CNN)On the day that Donald Trump released a new campaign ad in which he promised to keep us safe from Islamic terrorism, an armed group of American extremists was waging a battle against the federal government in Oregon.

    But don’t hold your breath for Trump to put out an ad condemning right-wing terrorists even though they have taken more lives on American soil in the past 15 years than Islamic terrorists. Of course, if those militants occupying a federal preserve in Oregon were Muslims, Trump would be talking about this siege nonstop. (As would the media, but non-Muslim terrorists appear not to be as much of a ratings boon as Muslim terrorists.)

    Let’s not mince words: The siege of the Oregon federal wildlife preserve is an attack upon the United States of America by people who oppose the authority of our nation’s federal government. As the Oregon police stated Sunday, the goal of these men is: “To overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”

    Simply put, this is a terrorist act. And that’s not just my view. CNN’s national security analyst Juliette Kayyem, who served as an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, penned an article Sunday spelling out why this is a terrorist act based on her experience as an expert.

    And in reviewing the federal statute that defines “domestic terrorism,” it would appear the actions of these people fulfill the key elements. Specifically, the armed group has committed an act dangerous to human life with their standoff and are seeking “to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.”

    Just so it’s clear, this was not a spur-of-the-moment action. As Ammon Bundy, one of the leaders, noted: “This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute.” Bundy also declared they are prepared to stay on the land as long as it takes to compel the federal government to give in to their demands.

    Even more alarming is that the militants have warned that they would use violence to achieve their political goals, if need be. Ryan Bundy, Ammon’s brother, told a reporter that they are wiling to kill and be killed if necessary. Another member of the group told a reporter, in words echoing what we expect to hear from a jihadist before a terror attack, “I came here to die.”

    The question now is how will the GOP frontrunner Trump respond? This is a man, as we all are aware, who refuses to be politically correct and is clearly not afraid to speak his mind. And he has offered sweeping and headline-grabbing prescriptions to counter terrorism. For example, after the San Bernardino terrorist attack perpetrated by two Muslims, he vowed to ban all 1.5 billion Muslims from around the world from coming to America.

    Will Trump now respond by calling for a ban on white men of a certain age from buying guns? Or at least require more of a background check before white men can purchase guns? After all, since 1982, 64% of the mass shootings in the United States were carried out by whites, all of whom were men, with the exception of one involving a white woman.

    Trump has also made it clear that not only should terrorists be killed, but so should their families: “The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families.”

    Under this Trump doctrine, it would mean that if the Oregon militants were adjudicated as terrorists, the government would kill their families as well. Or does Trump have an exception to his edict for non-Muslim terrorists?

    We don’t know, because as of the writing of this article, Trump has not publicly commented on the Oregon siege. At least his fellow GOP presidential candidates have. Ted Cruz urged the Oregon people to “stand down” while Marco Rubio has called them “lawless.” The two have avoided dubbing them terrorists.

    I doubt Trump will make the Oregon siege a campaign issue. After all, this is a guy who has been hesitant to vocally criticize the white supremacist groups that have been publicly supporting him. True, Trump has fired two campaign staffers over racist posts on social media, but when he was asked in August if he would flat out repudiate the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, Trump responded in a less than emphatic way to the reporter: “Sure, I would if that would make you feel better.”

    “I doubt Trump will make the Oregon siege a campaign issue. After all, this is a guy who has been hesitant to vocally criticize the white supremacist groups that have been publicly supporting him.”
    And that pretty much summarizes the situation: Trump can’t criticize the Bundy movement too much because people that want to overthrow society are a core component of the Trump base. Of course, that’s basically the base of the rest of Trump’s GOP primary opponents too. And since virtually all of his opponents have already come out against this latest act of Bundy sedition, that also leaves a mighty big political opportunity for the GOP’s Strongman candidate to make it very clear to the pro-insurrection wing of the GOP base that he’s their man and he’ll be willing to cut all sorts of deals with them once he becomes president.

    Sure, backing the Bundys and embracing the militias might complicate actually becoming President. But that’s part of the utility of embracing pro-insurrection movements as part of your Presidential bid during a period of mass delusion and despair: even if you lose, there’s still an even higher office you can claw your way into later.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 5, 2016, 3:10 pm
  29. Donald Trump finally chimed in on the Bundy Brigade’s standoff in Oregon: as with the rest of the GOP’s former Bundy supporters, this particular armed standoff isn’t getting any love:

    The Hill
    Trump: I’ll close deal, win Republican nomination

    By Bob Cusack – 01/06/16 06:00 AM EST

    NEW YORK — Donald Trump on Tuesday predicted he will win the Republican presidential nomination, unify the party and expand the GOP map in the general election by winning states such as Pennsylvania.

    In an exclusive interview with The Hill, Trump was more confident than ever that he will face off against Hillary Clinton this fall.

    “I’ve been a closer all my life,” the billionaire businessman said in his office at Trump Tower. “It’s what I do — I win. Other people don’t win. I know more about winning than anyone.”

    “I close. Other people don’t close,” the GOP front-runner added.

    Throughout the 30-minute interview, Trump repeatedly mentioned his poll numbers and the size of the crowds who show up to see him in states from Massachusetts to Mississippi.

    Halfway through, he pondered why media outlets say “Democratic debates” instead of “Democrat debates.” When told Democrats prefer Democratic, Trump said “that’s not grammatically correct” and “so wrong.”

    Other issues he addressed in the interview included:

    • The standoff in Oregon. Armed protesters on Saturday night broke into a federally owned wildlife facility and indicated they wouldn’t leave until the U.S. government halts its “tyranny.” Cruz and Rubio on Monday called on the protesters to “stand down.” Trump on Tuesday agreed: “You have to maintain law and order, no matter what.”

    “You have to maintain law and order, no matter what.”
    Awww. No militia love from the Trumpster!

    Did the Bundy Brigade finally jump the shark with its political patrons? Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean folks won’t eventually warm up to shark jumping. Especially if they’re recent fans:

    Talking Points Memo News
    Outside Patriot Groups Are Warming Up To The Bundy Siege In Oregon

    By Tierney Sneed
    Published January 6, 2016, 11:31 AM EST

    The takeover of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon by armed anti-government extremists Saturday was initially a step too far for some other hard-right patriot groups. But with the occupiers, led by Ammon Bundy, commanding national media attention for much of the week, their once-skeptical fellow travelers have started to come around.

    It’s a subtle shift, but in interviews this week some of the most strident extremist critics of the move on the refuge have conceded that the publicity the action has produced is helpful to their cause. And some of the critics have even gotten in on the action, claiming to act as back channels for communications among the armed occupiers, law enforcement, and the local community.

    Earlier in the week, groups like the Three Percenters Club Oregon and the Oath Keepers posted statements condemning the decision to occupy the refuge center in Oregon after a demonstration protesting the federal jail sentence facing two local ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond. While members of those groups were involved in organizing the protest that preceded the occupation of the refuge, they decried occupiers’ tactics in the immediate aftermath and claimed they were unaware of the plans to make a stand at the refuge.

    But now, while they still say it was not a part of the original plan to take over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, they agree with the occupiers’ message and even appreciate the attention the siege is bringing to the grievances they have against the federal government.

    BJ Soper, of the Central Oregon Constitutional Guard, hasn’t been shy about the betrayal he felt when a group of demonstrators — reportedly led by Ammon Bundy — broke off from the protest he helped plan Saturday to lay siege to unoccupied compound.

    “Over the weeks that we were out there we promised the community that nothing would happen without their support, and obviously the community at that time didn’t support that step,” Soper told TPM over the phone Tuesday while driving back the 130 miles to Burns from his home in Redmond. He said he still thinks there were better options, but as time has gone on he understands how they got to that point.

    “There’s a lot of frustration built up in the western United States that has to do with out the lands are being managed and regulated and what I am seeing here is that coming to a head,” Soper said.

    Likewise, Brandon Curtiss — president of the militia group Three Percent of Idaho — told TPM Monday that “We just don’t agree with the way it was executed. We certainly understand the frustration of the people there wanting to get the message out.”

    Curtiss was concerned, like Soper, that Bundy’s group had violated the community’s wishes and had not worked “through the proper channels.”

    However, Soper told TPM, some of the residents of the small Oregon town have warmed up to the goals of the siege.

    “They’re starting to change their tune out there. The community has settled down, the dust is settling and they’re starting to support these guys — by the dozens if not more,” Soper said.

    He said he is returning to Burns, having had gone home after the protest, in order to sit down with the community.

    “They’re asking me, how can we support these guys without physically being there with them and that’s an interesting scenario,” Soper said.

    Both Soper and Curtiss also said they have been communicating with those inside of the refuge center as well as the authorities on the scene. (Curtiss stressed that he wasn’t an official mediator but was “helping both sides understand” each other)

    Soper said he spoke to Harney County Sheriff David Ward Sunday night before heading home and again Tuesday morning.

    “I had a very good conversation with him. I offered him any assistance that he would be willing to accept,” Soper said.

    He said that Ward gave him the heads up that authorities were planning on erecting roadblocks on the roads leading into the refuge center in order to establish a perimeter.

    (When asked for comment by TPM, a public information officer at the Harney County Information Center said, “We can’t confirm anything on that.”)

    Soper expected an influx of supporters entering the town in the days to come, noting that it would have taken the few days for supporters to pack up and drive to Oregon.

    “If they can’t get out of the refuge to be with them then they’re going to be in the town and that poses interesting scenarios as well,” he said.

    Well, at least the groups that were working with the protests against the Hammonds’ jailing before the Bundy Brigade’s surprise occupation of the refuge are becoming a little more receptive to the whole “privatize the federal lands or we never go away” scheme. That’s sort of progress. And as one of the protest organizers put it, the town of Burns, OR, is warming to the militia too. At least dozens of them:


    “They’re starting to change their tune out there. The community has settled down, the dust is settling and they’re starting to support these guys — by the dozens if not more,” Soper said.

    Keep in mind that Burns has a population of ~2,800, so dozens of supporters among the town residents is also just a few percentage of the total population. That relative lack of support might frustrate most movements, but when you’re group has names like “The Three Percenters Club Oregon” getting a few percent to back your cause is right on track! At least that’s one way to spin it.

    But also note the prediction of an influx of outside supporters, something that’s very possible if enough of the broader militia movement decides this showdown is a sword worth falling on:


    Soper expected an influx of supporters entering the town in the days to come, noting that it would have taken the few days for supporters to pack up and drive to Oregon.

    “If they can’t get out of the refuge to be with them then they’re going to be in the town and that poses interesting scenarios as well,” he said.

    “If they can’t get out of the refuge to be with them then they’re going to be in the town and that poses interesting scenarios as well”
    So the militia protests on Saturday in the town of Burns that suddenly got could seemingly permanently relocated to the wildlife refuge headquarters could be be suddenly reignited if new militia members start flooding the town. Especially if, as Soper suggests, the roads to and from the refuge are blocked and protesting in the town itself is the only option.

    But also note that, according to local authorities, the Bundy Brigade is free to come and go from the refuge, which raises all sorts of interesting possibilities, especially since the refuge dwellers are currently pleading for supplies:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire
    Law Enforcement Confirms Militiamen Are Free To Come and Go From Refuge

    By Lauren Fox
    Published January 6, 2016, 11:54 AM EST

    Their supplies look to be dwindling and militia men who overtook the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon have pleaded with sympathizers to send food, but law enforcement tell TPM that the men are free to resupply on their own.

    “Right now, they are allowed to come and grow as they want,” says Bill Fugate, a spokesman for the Oregon State police.

    Fugate says that to his knowledge, law enforcement are “not monitoring what they are doing.”

    “We are not monitoring their movements,” Fugate says.

    “Right now, they are allowed to come and grow as they want,” says Bill Fugate, a spokesman for the Oregon State police.
    And that presumably means they can stock up on all sorts of supplies. Food. Ammo. More ammo. And maybe even more vehicles to block access and use for defensive positions during the much fear raid by authorities. That might be something they’re interesting in, considering their recent activities involving repositioning vehicles for defensive purposes:

    Talking Points Memo News
    Bundy: Militia Men Take Defensive Position Over Fears Of Raid By Feds

    By REBECCA BOONE
    Published January 6, 2016, 9:36 AM EST

    BURNS, Ore. (AP) — The small, armed group occupying a remote national wildlife preserve in Oregon has said repeatedly that local people should control federal lands — a sentiment that frustrates critics who say the lands are already managed to help everyone from ranchers to recreationalists.

    With the takeover entering its fourth day Wednesday, authorities had not removed the group of roughly 20 people from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon’s high desert country. But members of the group — some from as far away as Arizona and Michigan — were growing increasingly tense, saying they feared a federal raid.

    Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum said Tuesday evening that he believes federal officials have issued warrants for the arrest of five group members — including himself and Ammon Bundy — but Finicum offered no details.

    The FBI in Portland referred calls to the Harney County Joint Information Center, which said in a statement it had no information on arrests or arrest warrants and that authorities were “still working on a peaceful resolution.”

    Bundy said they would take a defensive position anticipating a possible raid. Late Tuesday, the group moved a large plow vehicle to block the refuge’s driveway.

    Bundy told reporters Tuesday the group would leave when there was a plan in place to turn over federal lands to locals — a common refrain in a decades-long fight over public lands in the West.

    “It is our goal to get the logger back to logging, the rancher back to ranching,” said the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a high-profile 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights.

    “Bundy said they would take a defensive position anticipating a possible raid. Late Tuesday, the group moved a large plow vehicle to block the refuge’s driveway.”
    So if anyone has an extra vehicle and wants to fill it with snacks and warm blankets, it sounds like you can just sort of head up to the camp and help create a supply convoy. And if you’re really dedicated, you can just add your vehicle to their “defensive positions” and stay join the party! Granted, there’s going to be even more supplies required if you decide to stay especially if the standoff last years like Bundy said it might.

    In other words, if you decide to stay and join refuge party, definitely do not skimp on the energy drinks. You really don’t want Ryan Payne’s blood sugar to drop too low. That’s when all the fun and games might come to the bloody end your militia buddies are having so much fun fearing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 6, 2016, 10:33 am
  30. Donald Trump fleshed out his strategy in an interview with the New York Times for how a Trump White House would deal with militia showdowns: He’ll tell the militia they have to leave the property, and if they don’t leave he would invite their leaders to negotiate and use his powers of dealing-making to cut a deal with them:

    The New York Times

    Donald Trump Says He Favors Big Tariffs on Chinese Exports

    By Maggie Haberman
    Jan 7, 2016 11:21 am ET

    Donald J. Trump said he would favor a 45 percent tariff on Chinese exports to the United States, proposing the idea during a wide-ranging meeting with members of the editorial board of The New York Times.

    Mr. Trump also spoke at length about the standoff with armed protesters who last Saturday seized the headquarters at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, suggesting that he would have called the leader of the group to try to make a deal to end it — and would have acted against them if negotiations failed because “you cannot let people take over federal property.”

    In addressing the Oregon standoff, Mr. Trump also spoke about the “great anger out there” that appears to be fueling the situation in Burns, Ore.

    “I think what I’d do, as president, is I would make a phone call to whoever, to the group,” he said, adding later, “I’d talk to the leader. I would talk to him and I would say, ‘You gotta get out — come see me, but you gotta get out.‘”

    “You cannot let people take over federal property,” Mr. Trump said. “You can’t, because once you do that, you don’t have a government anymore. I think, frankly, they’ve been there too long.”

    Mr. Trump said he wasn’t necessarily suggesting a large-scale military action, but that “at a certain point you have to do something and you have to be firm and you have to be strong, you have to be a government.”

    So Trump’s opening bid in dealing with armed going seizing Federal property is that he’ll eventually maybe use force to remove them, but before that happens he’ll invite them negotiate with Trump himself to cut a deal. And his reasoning for this approach is that, “You cannot let people take over federal property…You can’t, because once you do that, you don’t have a government anymore. I think, frankly, they’ve been there too long.”

    Now, it’s quite reasonable that Trump opposes the armed seizure of federal property because allowing that to happen would be a particularly dangerous precedent that undermines the foundation of how society governs itself. But isn’t the promise that the leaders of these armed militias will first get to negotiate directly with Trump so they can “cut a deal” before Trump decides to use force to remove them basically setting the same precedent that Trump says he wants to avoid? Is this how we’re going to exercise the first amendment right to petition the government? Just start an armed showdown the purpose of setting up a negotiation with the President?

    Well, if we listen to Trump comments back in 2014 over the Cliven Bundy ranch standoff, yes, setting up an armed showdown with the government creates “a great position” to cut “a great deal” with the government:

    Fox Nation
    Trump: Bundy Should Make a Deal, Putin ‘Toying’ With Obama

    Published April 17, 2014

    SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: It appears that rancher Cliven Bundy’s fight with the federal government is not finished tonight. Senator Harry Reid’s son is now doubling down on his dad’s comments, claiming that Cliven Bundy is not a victim and should be prosecuted. Now, in a few minutes, the Bundy family, including Cliven Bundy, will be here exclusively to respond.

    But first, reaction to this and much, much more in the political world, the one and only Donald Trump. How are you?

    DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Hi.

    HANNITY: I am on this season’s “Apprentice.”

    TRUMP: That’s right. I understand you’re helping a very good friend of yours.

    HANNITY: Geraldo and…

    TRUMP: He’s doing well.

    HANNITY: You’re not going to give me any — any clues…

    HANNITY: You know, over the years, we’ve been friends. I have followed cases you’ve been involved in, land disputes, government bureaucracies. You got to deal with bald eagles. You got to deal with — in this case, it’s a desert tortoise.

    TRUMP: Right.

    HANNITY: I don’t like heavy-handed government — 200 agents, snipers surrounding a ranch. Seems a little over the top to me.

    TRUMP: It’s over the top. It’s very strong. I like him. But you also have to say — and I watched you last night with the little debate you had going, and she did a very good job.

    HANNITY: Tamara.

    TRUMP: Because you do have certain law. You know, I mean, you have it all throughout the United States, and they pay their fees and they pay all sorts of grazing fees and things that I’m not so accustomed to. You know, if I were Cliven — and I like him, I like his spirit, his spunk and I like the people that — you know, they’re so loyal…

    HANNITY: I do, too.

    TRUMP: I do like him. I respect him. He ought to go and cut a good deal right now. That’s the best thing that could happen for everybody. It’s really vicious. I’m not involved very much in it. I see it a little bit by watching you. But he ought to go out and cut a great deal.

    HANNITY: Yes. Actually, I think that’s good advice. At this point…

    TRUMP: Yes. What’s he going to do? Are they going to start shooting each other over grazing fees?

    HANNITY: Honestly, my brother-in-law was there all weekend and he thought it was coming to that. He said…

    TRUMP: Well, a lot of people thought that. He ought to go out. He’s in a great position, I think, to cut a great deal, and that’s what he should do.

    “He’s in a great position, I think, to cut a great deal, and that’s what he should do.”
    Yep, back in 2014, Cliven Bundy was “in a great position” to “cut a great deal” with the government over his refusal to pay his grazing fees. That “great position” being an armed standoff created after he invited a slew of militias to set up camp on his property.

    So there we have it. Vote for Trump if you want to transition to a form of government were armed standoffs put you in “a great position” to “cut a great deal” with the government. Sure, Trump hints at the use of force if you can’t reach that deal with the Negotiator in Chief. But it’s hard to say that a post-negotiation use of force isn’t actually desired consequences when you’re talking about armed militias that are going around the nation actively looking for opportunities to create armed standoffs so they can show the world how they’re living under tyranny. It’s sort of a win-win situation for the militias: “cut the deal” or get the violent conflict they clearly want so they can achieve martyrdom (and 72 acres of regulation free public lands up in militia heaven).

    Given all that, you have to about Trump’s attitude towards all the non-violent protesters that routinely attend his rally now that’s he’s re-endorsed armed standoffs as a “great” starting point for “cutting a deal” with your political leaders. Oh, right. We already know his position on non-violent protesters…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 7, 2016, 2:55 pm
  31. John McCain recently joined the growing list of Republican Senators thinking about skipping the GOP convention in Cleveland this year. His reason? Well, his stated reason is that he’s got a campaign to run, which is certainly true. As the article below points out, he’s polling even with his Democratic opponent and his primary against Kelli Ward isn’t until August so he’s not even past that phase of the campaign yet.

    But as the article below also points out, he’s got additional reasons to avoid the convention this year, like avoiding Trump-related chaos:

    Cronkite News

    McCain to skip GOP convention to focus on election

    Posted Apr 20, 2016, 9:22 am

    Lauren Clark & Jessica Swarner

    U.S. Sen. John McCain will not attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this July but will be “working and campaigning throughout Arizona,” a campaign official confirmed Tuesday.

    “He (McCain) has always taken every election seriously, this year is no different,” McCain campaign spokeswoman Lorna Romero said.

    The announcement comes as a new poll shows the Arizona Republican and likely Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Flagstaff, tied at 42 percent of voters surveyed, a fact seized on by Kirkpatrick’s campaign.

    “Ann Kirkpatrick has John McCain in the toughest re-election fight of his career,” said D.B. Mitchell, a spokesman for the Democrat’s campaign. He said McCain “hiding from the convention for the first time in three decades” won’t change the fact that he is losing support in the polls.

    But one consultant suggested that McCain’s decision has less to do with a Kirkpatrick challenge and more to do with the senator trying to distance himself from current GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump and the expected party “bloodbath” in Cleveland.

    Bill Scheel of Phoenix consulting firm Javelina said senators in purple states “are scared to death by getting dragged down by Donald Trump or (Texas Sen.) Ted Cruz and want to create as much distance as possible.”

    But it’s not Kirkpatrick that McCain will be facing in August, when he will face Republican challengers Kelli Ward and Alex Meluskey in the GOP primary.

    “It means McCain is starting to feel the heat in his home state,” said Joel Andres Frewa, a spokesman for the Meluskey campaign.

    He said that while McCain is back in Arizona campaigning, Meluskey will be at the convention as a delegate “representing the voice of the people.”

    Ward said McCain’s decision “speaks volumes.”

    “Our primary is in August and the convention is in July,” Ward said. “It shows he’s pretty worried and should be in Arizona.”

    But one Republican political consultant said McCain’s decision looks beyond the primary to the general election. Jason Rose said McCain’s decision to stay away from the “calamitous” convention was “displaying his savvy.”

    “It’s a smart play in the short term, and it’s a smart play in the long term,” he said.

    But others insist the decision to skip the convention shows signs of weakness from the McCain campaign.

    A Rocky Mountain Poll released Friday showed McCain and Kirkpatrick getting 42 percent each in a telephone survey of 564 registered voters.

    The poll showed Kirkpatrick solidifying support among Democrats and leading in rural areas – which traditionally lean Republican – by a margin of 43 to 39 percent. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percent.

    “He’s obviously running scared because he’s in real trouble,” said Rodd McLeod, a Democratic political consultant.

    McLeod said he thinks the Republican brand is becoming more and more “unappetizing” as the election cycle goes on, which means the eventual GOP nominee will not be popular in Arizona – giving McCain reason to stay far away from the “ugly fight” that is brewing.

    Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said there’s another reason McCain may not be enthusiastic about going to Cleveland.

    While McCain has pledged to support the party’s nominee, Kondik said he is unlikely to do so with gusto. McCain has feuded with Trump, who belittled the senator’s war record, and referred to Cruz on the floor of the Senate as a “wacko bird,” Kondik noted.

    “No wonder why McCain wouldn’t want to go to the convention,” he said.

    “But one Republican political consultant said McCain’s decision looks beyond the primary to the general election. Jason Rose said McCain’s decision to stay away from the “calamitous” convention was “displaying his savvy.””
    Skipping the convention is savvy. Well, a positive spin on it. But possibly an accurate one. It depends on whether or not Donald Trump makes fun of him at the convention for skipping. Don’t forget that the convention is in July, and McCain’s primary is in August. How Trump treats McCain at the convention could have a real impact on McCain’s chances of even winning the primaries. At the same time, whether or not Trump does anything to trash or mock McCain at the convention, it’s not at all clear Trump can even control his Trumpian hordes from doing something so trepidation is somewhat understandable this year. It’s not 2008. So we’ll see if it was the right move. It’s hard to say it’s the wrong one at this point. Especially since a recent Gravis Poll (buyer beware) has Ward leading McCain:

    Politicus USA

    Tea Party Insurgent Kelli Ward Leads John McCain In Arizona GOP Senate Race Poll

    By Keith Brekhus on Sat, Aug 22nd, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    A Gravis Marketing poll conducted on August 15th and released August 21st, found Senator John McCain trailing his Republican tea party challenger Kelli Ward by a 45 to 36 percent margin. Ward, who represents Arizona state senate district 5 in the Northwest part of the state, is a far right politician.

    Ward has drawn media attention in the past for convening a public hearing on “chemtrails” and for taking extreme positions on gun rights, immigration, and opposition to government involvement in health care. She is also the lone Arizona Senator to have voted against adequately funding the Department of Child Safety in 2014.

    Ward’s extreme positions have not disqualified her in the eyes of Republican voters, however. For the tea party faithful, Ward’s amplified anti-federal government rhetoric and her willingness to entertain conspiracy theories, is a welcome contrast to McCain’s center right policies. Many Arizona Republicans despise Senator McCain as a RINO (Republican In Name Only).

    The McCain campaign dismissed the poll citing Gravis’ track record of overestimating support for insurgent tea party candidates. While it is not unusual for campaign’s to try to spin away bad poll numbers, team McCain may have a valid criticism.

    Democrats will be watching the Arizona Republican Senate primary with interest, because while Ward may be more popular than John McCain with right-wing voters, she is almost certainly more likely to lose to a Democrat in a general election.

    The Gravis Marketing poll bears out the disparity in strength between the two candidates. The poll showed that while McCain held a 13-point lead over Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, Ward’s lead was just 5 percentage points. A Ward primary victory would immediately turn the Arizona Senate race from a lean Republican race to a toss up, increasing the likelihood that the Democrats retake control of the U.S. Senate.

    “The Gravis Marketing poll bears out the disparity in strength between the two candidates. The poll showed that while McCain held a 13-point lead over Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, Ward’s lead was just 5 percentage points. A Ward primary victory would immediately turn the Arizona Senate race from a lean Republican race to a toss up, increasing the likelihood that the Democrats retake control of the U.S. Senate.
    Keep in mind that the Gravis poll probably leans Tea Party and overstates Ward’s lead over McCain as the McCain campaign (and past evidence) is suggesting. So if it’s biased, McCain’s 8 point relative advantage against his Democratic opponent compared to Ward is probably even greater. Who knows if McCain is really behind Ward. Time and more polls will tell.

    But the fact that McCain might be skipping the convention out of fears of Trump-related conflicts raises an interesting question about the Trump phenomena: There’s plenty of speculation over how Trump might impact the GOP in the general election, but how his impact on the GOP primaries? Arizona’s Senate primary is unusually late, but Trump his no doubt had some sort of impact all sorts of GOP primary races. So how have all those race where the GOP “establishment” candidate faced a Tea Party opponent been impacted by the Trumpian revolution? It seems like any new voters Trump draws into the process would be leaning Tea Party generally speaking. Could that be impacting John McCain’s chances of going down in the primaries in a historic defeat by a Tea Party insurgent? Trump trashed McCain early on, so that presumably didn’t help McCain this election season as Trump surged into front-runner status and won overwhelmingly in Arizona’s presidential primary.

    How Trump impacts the GOP’s general election performance by changing the outcomes of GOP primaries or just souring the GOP voters on Trump’s enemies within the GOP in the general election will be an interesting question for pollsters and political historians to examine as they pick over the scars Trump leaves on the GOP. But whether or not the Trump campaign impacted John McCain’s primary race isn’t really in question. The Trump campaign is definitely impacting McCain’s primary. Very directly. Unless you assume Roger Stone isn’t affiliated with the Trump campaign:

    The Arizona Republic

    Roger Stone, blasted by Ted Cruz, working for Kelli Ward?

    Dan Nowicki, 3:22 p.m. MST March 28, 2016

    Roger Stone, the veteran Republican political consultant who has battled with Sen. Ted Cruz over a National Enquirer article alleging that Cruz cheated on his wife with five women, apparently is working for Arizona U.S. Senate Republican challenger Kelli Ward.

    Stone, a former adviser to Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, tweeted last week that he would be working for Ward, the former state senator from Lake Havasu City who is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the Aug. 30 primary.

    Stone’s tweet, which Ward’s Twitter account retweeted, said: “I will be working for @kelliwardaz – GOP Primary- August-Kiss @JohnMcCain goodbye !”

    Neither Stone nor Ward or her campaign immediately responded Monday to The Arizona Republic’s requests for clarification about Stone’s role with the Arizona campaign.

    Stone, whose long career dates to President Richard Nixon’s era, most recently has been associated with Trump, although they no longer have official ties.

    Stone’s tweet, which Ward’s Twitter account retweeted, said: “I will be working for @kelliwardaz – GOP Primary- August-Kiss @JohnMcCain goodbye !””
    That’s both unambiguous and ambiguous. It’s clear that Stone is working for Ward, but it’s unclear what he’s doing. He has to plan the #DaysOfRage, after all. There’s only so much time Stone will have for Ward. But messing with McCain and potentially costing him the primary is pretty synergistic for Trump given his relationship with McCain so we probably shouldn’t be super surprised if Stone decides to invest considerable resources into Ward’s campaign. That’s a scalp. Plus it bolsters his wise guy rep.

    Then again, when you read Kelli Ward’s official explanation for the situation, we probably won’t hear much more about Stone working for Ward even if he does because she’s claiming to know nothing about him and has never met him:

    Politico

    Senate Republicans rebuke Lee — SCOTUS CHARM OFFENSIVE FALLING FLAT – What Paul Ryan heard about Trump abroad — HOUSE TRUMP BACKERS: WE’LL LOCK UP NOMINATION

    04/15/16 07:17 AM EDT

    By Seung Min Kim

    With an assist from Burgess Everett

    WARDING OFF THE STONE ZONE – Controversial GOP operative and Trump confidante Roger Stone said last month that he’s now working for Kelli Ward, who is running against Sen. John McCain in the GOP primary in Arizona. But Ward says that Stone is not officially working for the campaign – though she didn’t deny that he may be aiding her steep battle. “As far as I know, he does not work directly for us,” she said. “I don’t know Roger Stone, I’ve never met him and never talked to him.”

    “As far as I know, he does not work directly for us…I don’t know Roger Stone, I’ve never met him and never talked to him.”
    Roger is operating in stealth-mode. Except for the tweets. But it’s pretty clear that Stone is cooking up something against McCain, which makes McCain’s decision to skip the convention at least somewhat savvy. Cleveland in July is the dirty tricks danger zone for John McCain. Stone’s presence in Ward’s campaign makes that clear. You have to wonder if similar operations are going against other outspoken opponents of Trump facing a primary this year. If so, it could one of the ways Trump shapes the GOP in the long-run.

    And let’s not forget that Ward, a Trump ally in the general election if she gets the nomination, might be more able to benefit for Trumpian tailwinds if The Donald really does bring out new voters. McCain isn’t getting Trump’s endorsement, and wouldn’t want it in the general election. Ward would and would benefit from it. So her campaign does have a big argument going for it in this year’s hypothetical general election primarily and that argument is a Trumpian boost. Ward will get Trump voter votes McCain won’t. Trump is basically Tea Party, but not quite Koch. Trump voters in Arizona will probably love Ward. Ward is the likelier winner in 2016. At least there’s a compelling case to be made for that and with the Senate primary in August she’ll have plenty of time to make that case. And if Trump intervenes of Ward’s behalf to help her win the primary, he’s the GOP’s kingmaker at that power. It works with his Godfather image projection.

    So McCain’s campaign had better be on its toes if it’s going to make it through the primary. Roger Stone is one the scene and Trump presumably smells fear after the convention skip announcement. That’s got to trigger some sort of feeding instinct or something. It’s going to be a long, hot summer in Arizona.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 24, 2016, 1:31 am
  32. With John McCain joining in on Donald Trump’s ‘Obama caused the Orlando terror attack’ meme today, it’s worth keeping in mind that Senator McCain hasn’t had his primary yet and still has to ensure that he doesn’t continue losing ground and State Senator Kelli Ward doesn’t continue gaining ground. And as the article below points out, it’s also worth keeping in mind that for a GOPer like McCain who has never been really embraced by the Tea Party faction of the GOP, the best way to ensure he beats Ward in the August 30th primary is to become Donald Trump:

    The Washington Post

    How Trumpism explains John McCain’s claim that Obama is ‘responsible’ for Orlando

    By Chris Cillizza
    June 16 at 4:43 PM

    John McCain is no Donald Trump fan. But even he is feeling the gravitational pull of The Donald. (Or, should I say, Mr. Trump.)

    Witness his comments Thursday that President Obama is “directly responsible” for the Islamic State-inspired attack in Orlando over the weekend. McCain quickly backtracked, issuing a statement via Twitter making clear he “misspoke” and that what he meant to say was that Obama’s Iraq policies — and not Obama himself — were responsible for the rise of the Islamic State.

    [see tweet]

    Okay. It’s of course possible that McCain misspoke, although according to The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis, who was one of the reporters McCain was talking to when he unleashed this quote, McCain was given a chance to clean up the mess right then and there, and didn’t:

    When pressed by a reporter on the claim that Obama was “directly” responsible, McCain reiterated his point — that Obama should not have withdrawn combat troops from Iraq: “He pulled everybody out of Iraq, and I predicted at the time that ISIS would go unchecked, and there would be attacks on the United States of America,” he said. “It’s a matter of record, so he is directly responsible.”

    I don’t have the ability to crawl into McCain’s brain and see exactly what he meant at the moment. But, I do think that it’s not unreasonable to see Trump’s influence — both on political rhetoric and on Republican politics — here.

    Trump has turned rhetorical excess into an art form. He says and does things that other politicians won’t and, in so doing, dominates the conversation virtually every day. The effect of Trump’s willingness to “go there” rhetorically is that it ups the ante for every other Republican when asked about, say, President Obama.

    “He’s a good man, but I disagree with his policies” is no longer the sort of thing a GOP pol can say. When you have your presumptive presidential nominee insisting that Obama should resign within 24 hours of the Orlando shooting, there is an expectation from the party base that you match that rhetoric.

    McCain has shown a penchant for channeling the base’s sentiments in the past. Remember “complete the dang fence” during his 2010 primary fight against former Rep. J.D. Hayworth? That, of course, came just a few years removed from McCain’s leading role in one of the first attempts at comprehensive immigration reform.

    Which brings me to the political influence that Trump is bringing to bear on McCain. Like in 2010, McCain faces a primary challenge. Unlike 2010, it appears to be a more serious one — in the form of physician and former state senator Kelli Ward. A PPP poll released last month showed McCain at 39 percent to Ward’s 26 percent. And there were plenty of other warning signs for the incumbent. Just 1 in 3 (35 percent) of Republican voters approve of the job he is doing; among those who identify themselves as “very conservative,” that approval rating is a dismal 18 percent.

    McCain has never been the best friend of the Republican base. But the rise of Trump has massively emboldened a segment of the GOP base that are not, to put it mildly, McCain voters. McCain is, of course, aware of how Trumpism works against him in a Republican primary. And he also knows that the quickest way to Republican base voters’ hearts is via some bashing of President Obama.

    2+2 = McCain on Thursday.

    “”He’s a good man, but I disagree with his policies” is no longer the sort of thing a GOP pol can say. When you have your presumptive presidential nominee insisting that Obama should resign within 24 hours of the Orlando shooting, there is an expectation from the party base that you match that rhetoric.

    Oh dear. It appears that John McCain has become a captive of the man who mocked him for being a captive in Vietnam. This really isn’t the best way to end a political career but it is what it is.

    So did Kelli Ward also climb aboard the ‘Obama cause Orlando’ Trump train? Uh, not quite, but something very similar.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 16, 2016, 7:54 pm
  33. Is former Arizona State Senator Kelli Ward – John McCain’s 2016 primary challenger and big fan of the Bundy family and their armed standoffs – about to get the Trump White House’s backing for a primary challenge against GOP Senator Jeff Flake, someone with a rather testy relationship with Donald Trump? If we go by Ward’s recent talk about how she met with White House and was “encouraged” to run, then, yes, it’s possible we’re going to see a White House backed primary challenge in 2018 with Ward leading the Trumpian charge:

    Associated Press

    Flake challenger Kelli Ward meets with Trump’s White House

    Michael R. Blood
    Published 8:11 p.m. MT July 17, 2017 | Updated 8:28 p.m. MT July 17, 2017

    A conservative Republican who is running to unseat Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said Monday she has met with White House officials about the campaign.

    The June meeting in Washington points to uneasy ties between President Donald Trump and Flake, a Republican who was an outspoken critic of the billionaire businessman in last year’s presidential contest.

    “I was encouraged,” Kelli Ward said of the meeting, but she wouldn’t divulge details of what was discussed or who attended the sit-down.

    The former state senator, who sought to unseat Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain in 2016, called Flake ineffective and a drag on the Trump agenda in the Senate.

    Ward acknowledged that ousting an incumbent is difficult but pointed to Trump’s surprise win in 2016 and added that “times have changed.”

    Flake, a former congressman, is facing the possibility that he could face multiple GOP challengers in the 2018 primary in a bid for a second term.

    The senator has said he didn’t vote for Trump and supports the North American Free Trade Agreement, a deal the president intends to renegotiate or dismantle. But Flake has pointed out he has supported the president’s Supreme Court and cabinet picks.

    He hasn’t said how he will vote on the Republican health care bill, but recently applauded the inclusion of an amendment that would allow insurers to sell bare-bones, low-cost coverage.

    ———-

    “Flake challenger Kelli Ward meets with Trump’s White House” by Michael R. Blood; pp+; 07/17/2017

    “”I was encouraged,” Kelli Ward said of the meeting, but she wouldn’t divulge details of what was discussed or who attended the sit-down.”

    She was “encouraged” by the White House, according to Ward. It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it’s better than nothing.

    Although if the following report about White House meetings with two other potential candidates is any indication of the White House’s calculus, that “encouragement” may be better than nothing, but probably not much better than nothing since Ward appears to be viewed as not only the least electable of the three, but also a potential spoiler that could siphon off votes for whichever challenger the White House gets behind:

    Politico

    White House squeezes Jeff Flake

    The Arizona senator’s potential GOP primary foes have been in talks with the president and top administration officials.

    By Alex Isenstadt
    07/17/2017 05:12 AM EDT

    The White House has met with at least three actual or prospective primary challengers to Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake in recent weeks, a reflection of Donald Trump’s strained relations with the senator and the latest sign of the president’s willingness to play hardball with lawmakers who cross him — even Republican incumbents.

    Flake, a longtime Trump critic who refused to endorse the president during the 2016 campaign, is one of a handful of undecided Republican votes on the Obamacare repeal effort. He’s also one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection in 2018.

    Since taking office, Trump has spoken with Arizona state Treasurer Jeff DeWit, a top official on his 2016 campaign, on at least two occasions, according to two sources familiar with the talks. More recently, since June, White House officials have also had discussions with former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who has announced her bid, and former Arizona GOP Chairman Robert Graham, who like DeWit is exploring a campaign.

    At a Republican National Committee meeting outside of San Diego in May, David Bossie, Trump’s deputy campaign manager and the president of the influential conservative outside group Citizens United, told Graham that either he or DeWit would likely get substantial backing from conservatives should either enter the contest, according to three people familiar with the conversation.

    “Maybe [Flake] should get back on the Trump team. A lot of people believe in Trump’s policies,” said former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a prominent immigration hard-liner who backed Trump, noting that the president remained popular in Arizona. “There’s a silent majority that’s still there, and still in this state, so watch out.”

    Graham, who has begun reviewing polling and purchasing campaign website addresses, was present at a meeting this spring of top GOP donors in Arizona that was also attended by Chris Bannon, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s younger brother and a University of Arizona official. At the top of the agenda, according to three people familiar with the event, was a prospective Graham primary against Flake. During the meeting, which was also attended by Arizona Cardinals executive Michael Bidwill, several donors expressed mounting frustration with the incumbent.

    Those familiar with the gathering stressed that Chris Bannon, who is widely viewed as a conduit to his powerful brother, was more of a listener than active participant and did not articulate his feelings about a Flake challenge.

    Chris Bannon did not respond to a request for comment.

    The bad blood between Trump and Flake dates back to the 2016 presidential race, when Flake was frequently critical of the president. In the waning days of the campaign, Trump became so angry with the Arizona senator that he proposed bankrolling a 2018 primary campaign against him. Backstage before a rally in the state, the president vented that he wanted to find a challenger to run against Flake and that he’d spend $10 million out of his own pocket to defeat him.

    Trump is keeping close tabs on Flake’s fortunes back home. During a meeting with a small group of state Republican Party chairs in the Oval Office on Tuesday, he asked Arizona GOP Chairman Jonathan Lines for an update on the race. Lines responded by telling the president that the state party did not get involved in primaries, according to three people familiar with the exchange.

    “The mutual dislike runs deep,” said Constantin Querard, a Republican strategist who oversaw Ted Cruz’s 2016 campaign in the state. “That both complicates [Flake’s] path to re-election by putting him at odds with much of the Arizona GOP, and it makes it very likely that if he gets a primary challenger that the Trump team likes, that challenger will be funded and supported in a way that makes beating Flake the most likely outcome.”

    White House spokespersons did not return requests for on-the-record comment about the president’s relationship with Flake.

    A Flake spokesman, Joshua Daniels, declined to comment on the senator’s conversations with the administration but noted that he had “voted with President Trump over 95 percent of the time this year” and had aggressively backed several White House priorities, including the successful push to confirm Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

    White House officials deny they are actively recruiting a challenger or that any decision has been made to target Flake. Within the highest levels of the administration, there is hesitancy to antagonize the senator, whose support is needed as the president struggles to push his ambitious agenda through Congress. There is also some skepticism that Flake, who has spent over 15 years in elected office and hails from a prominent Arizona political family, can be defeated in a primary.

    An administration-backed primary challenge to Flake would also further inflame tensions with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who over the last several weeks has had several run-ins with the White House over political planning. McConnell, who is fiercely protective of GOP incumbents and has vowed to protect those facing primaries, recently became enraged when a Trump-sanctioned outside group launched an advertising blitz targeting Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, who was also critical of the president during the 2016 campaign, over his refusal to back the Obamacare repeal plan.

    Even so, there has been ongoing talk at the White House about how a prospective race would play out. Among the questions raised, according to two people who have discussed the matter with the administration directly, surrounds the candidacy of Ward, a brash conservative who was crushed by Republican Sen. John McCain in a 2016 primary. A well-known figure in the state, she could siphon support from DeWit or Graham, both of whom are regarded as more viable candidates.

    The deliberations underscore the administration’s disdain for Flake. Months before the election, the senator said he wouldn’t endorse Trump, urged other Republicans to do the same, and declared that he wouldn’t be attending the GOP convention because he had to mow his lawn.

    After the October emergence of the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Trump was heard bragging about sexually assaulting women, Flake called on him to withdraw from the race and said he might write in independent candidate Evan McMullin, a leader of the 2016 Never Trump movement. More recently, Flake said the president lacked an “acceptable rationale” for firing FBI Director James Comey — a tweak that angered the president’s team.

    In a state filled with conservative voters who flocked to Trump’s anti-immigration views and promise to build a wall on the southern border, Flake’s attacks stood out. Trump won Arizona’s GOP primary by more than 20 percentage points before carrying the state in the general election.

    Among the president’s most vocal supporters, the feeling of betrayal is particularly intense.

    “He’s the president, so we should stick by him, especially on the Republican side,” said Arpaio, noting that Flake was one of a small group of senators who had vocally opposed Trump.

    Yet the complaints about Flake extend to other perceived apostasies, including his 2016 push to pass a bipartisan gun control bill, his openness to negotiate with former President Barack Obama over a nuclear pact with Iran, and his push to lift the U.S. embargo on travel to Cuba. While his supporters praise him as an independent-minded lawmaker who charts his own path, Flake’s detractors deride him as a grandstander — one all too willing to poke his party in the eye.

    Many of those in the state who provided Trump with financial backing in 2016 have begun talking up the possibility of finding a primary challenger, with DeWit and Graham among those most frequently mentioned. Others hold out hope that GOP Rep. Martha McSally, a rising star, or former Gov. Jan Brewer, a vigorous Trump backer, will enter the race.

    Don Shooter, a state legislator and an outspoken backer of the president, predicted that a Flake challenger would immediately be able to raise between $10 million and $15 million from donors eager to see the incumbent unseated. “They’re motivated to take Jeff Flake out,” he said.

    ———-

    “White House squeezes Jeff Flake” by Alex Isenstadt; Politico; 07/17/2017

    “At a Republican National Committee meeting outside of San Diego in May, David Bossie, Trump’s deputy campaign manager and the president of the influential conservative outside group Citizens United, told Graham that either he or DeWit would likely get substantial backing from conservatives should either enter the contest, according to three people familiar with the conversation.”

    So Arizona state Treasurer Jeff DeWit or former Arizona GOP Chairman Robert Graham might get substantial White House backing if they enter the primary. But no mention of Ward. But there is mention of Ward in terms of concerns that she might bleed votes from Graham or DeWitt:


    Even so, there has been ongoing talk at the White House about how a prospective race would play out. Among the questions raised, according to two people who have discussed the matter with the administration directly, surrounds the candidacy of Ward, a brash conservative who was crushed by Republican Sen. John McCain in a 2016 primary. A well-known figure in the state, she could siphon support from DeWit or Graham, both of whom are regarded as more viable candidates.

    That doesn’t sound very encouraging for Ward.

    And note who was sitting on at least one of these meetings: Steve Bannon’s younger brother who happens to be a University of Arizona official and seen as a conduit to his brother:


    Graham, who has begun reviewing polling and purchasing campaign website addresses, was present at a meeting this spring of top GOP donors in Arizona that was also attended by Chris Bannon, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s younger brother and a University of Arizona official. At the top of the agenda, according to three people familiar with the event, was a prospective Graham primary against Flake. During the meeting, which was also attended by Arizona Cardinals executive Michael Bidwill, several donors expressed mounting frustration with the incumbent.

    Those familiar with the gathering stressed that Chris Bannon, who is widely viewed as a conduit to his powerful brother, was more of a listener than active participant and did not articulate his feelings about a Flake challenge.

    Steve Bannon’s brother was sitting in on at least the meeting with Rober Graham. That’s certainly a sign of interest.

    So is that the final nail in the coffin of Ward’s Senate ambitions? Nope. Kelli Ward has a Plan B:

    AZ Central

    Roberts: Kelli Ward says McCain should quit so she can take over

    Laurie Roberts, The Republic | azcentral.com Published 11:34 a.m. MT July 21, 2017 | Updated 2:53 p.m. MT July 21, 2017

    Leave it to Kelli Ward to see Sen. John McCain’s brain tumor as an opportunity for personal advancement.

    And she, a doctor. How callous can you be?

    Ward, who was trounced by McCain in last year’s election, is now trying to knock off Sen. Jeff Flake in next year’s election.

    Because apparently one drubbing by her own party isn’t enough.

    But now, it seems, Ward has figured a different way to get to Washington.

    Right over the still-alive-and-kicking body of Sen. McCain.

    On Wednesday, the day McCain announced that he had brain cancer, Ward posted this missive to Facebook: “Wishing Mr. McCain comfort and peace as he and his family cope with his diagnosis and treatment.” Accompanying her Facebook post were two pictures of her campaign volunteers, complete with Ward stickers and signs.

    [see image of Ward tweet]

    We can’t wait for McCain. Really?

    On Thursday, she told an Indiana talk radio station that she hopes he’ll resign ASAP and that Gov. Doug Ducey will give her the job.

    “I hope that Senator McCain is going to look long and hard at this, that his family and his advisers are going to look at this, and they’re going to advise him to step away as quickly as possible,” she said on Indiana radio WOWO 1190 AM. “So that the business of the country and the business of Arizona being represented at the federal level can move forward.”

    Naturally, with her — Chem Trail Kelli — at the helm.

    Ward said Donald Trump’s agenda “can’t be at a standstill while we wait for John McCain to determine what he’s going to do.”

    “Because you probably realize that with John McCain out of commission we don’t have 51 votes on the Republican side,” she said. “That can’t stand. We can’t have until the 2018 election, waiting around to accomplish the Trump agenda … and we can’t be at a standstill while we wait for John McCain to determine what he’s going to do.”

    Don’t blame McCain for GOP’s inaction

    Two things.

    1. Republicans do have 51 votes even though McCain is absent. Someone who has spent the last three years running for the U.S. Senate should know that.

    2. Trump’s agenda isn’t at a standstill because McCain has cancer. It’s at standstill because Trump can’t govern, even with both chambers of Congress run by his own party.

    Ward, who hasn’t seen McCain’s medical records, pronounced it unlikely that he can return to the Senate “at full force.”

    That’s why he should get out of the way and Ducey should appoint her to take his place. Really.

    “I have a proven track record of years in the Arizona state Senate of being extremely effective and of listening to the voice of the people that I represent. And you know, I made an extremely good showing against Sen. McCain against all odds.”

    Yes, she really said these things

    Again, really.

    Hey, at least, Sen. McCain’s is getting treatment for his cancer.

    Sadly, Kelli Ward’s disturbing tendency to become delusional remains undiagnosed.

    ———-

    “Roberts: Kelli Ward says McCain should quit so she can take over” by Laurie Roberts; The Republic | azcentral.com; 07/21/2017.

    “On Wednesday, the day McCain announced that he had brain cancer, Ward posted this missive to Facebook: “Wishing Mr. McCain comfort and peace as he and his family cope with his diagnosis and treatment.” Accompanying her Facebook post were two pictures of her campaign volunteers, complete with Ward stickers and signs”

    Ok, so is she trying to give John McCain a stroke on top of his brain tumor? If so, that was a pretty good attempt. Horrible, but well done from a malicious trolling standpoint. Although not as good/malicious as this one:


    “I hope that Senator McCain is going to look long and hard at this, that his family and his advisers are going to look at this, and they’re going to advise him to step away as quickly as possible,” she said on Indiana radio WOWO 1190 AM. “So that the business of the country and the business of Arizona being represented at the federal level can move forward.

    And not nearly as not as good as this apparent attempt to give everyone a stroke:

    >

    “Because you probably realize that with John McCain out of commission we don’t have 51 votes on the Republican side,” she said. “That can’t stand. We can’t have until the 2018 election, waiting around to accomplish the Trump agenda … and we can’t be at a standstill while we wait for John McCain to determine what he’s going to do.”

    *Sigh* Oh Kelli…


    Two things.

    1. Republicans do have 51 votes even though McCain is absent. Someone who has spent the last three years running for the U.S. Senate should know that.

    2. Trump’s agenda isn’t at a standstill because McCain has cancer. It’s at standstill because Trump can’t govern, even with both chambers of Congress run by his own party.

    Someone should probabably pull Ward away from her scheming for a Senate seat to let her know about what’s actually going on in the Senate.

    And note that there is one additional reason the GOP’s agenda can’t make it through the Senate despite its 52 seats and it has nothing to do with Trump:

    3. The GOP agenda that Trump inherited and is trying to implement is political poison which is why you’re finding GOPers starting to get nauseous about it.

    Don’t forget about that one.

    We’ll see if Ward’s comments sink her in the polls but it seems pretty likely that this vulture-like behavior isn’t going to increase the number of votes she’s siphons off in the upcoming primary. Still, the extra-far-right faction of the Arizona GOP wants a Trumpian Senator and at this point they have two GOPers that aren’t exactly on Team Trump in the GOP’s weird Trump/Bannon vs “The Establishment” faction system. And that’s going to make GOP primaries in Arizona extra interesting in coming years. But it may not be Kelli Ward who fills that role.

    She always has Plan C.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 21, 2017, 7:59 pm
  34. Here’s an interesting development on the Trump team’s plans to find a primary opponent for Arizona GOP Senator Jeff Flake: So remember how Trump surrogates, including Stave Bannon’s brother, were looking like they had concluded that looking at three possible candidates – Arizona state Treasurer Jeff DeWit, former Arizona GOP Chairman Robert Graham, and former state Sen. Kelli Ward – and concluded that Graham and DeWit were easily the best shots and the extra-far-right Ward risked siphoning votes away from them, allowing Flake to make it through the primary?

    Well, Robert Mercer has decided to weigh on on the primary race. With a $300,000 donation for Kelli Ward:

    Politico

    Top Trump donor ponies up to take out Flake

    Robert Mercer is donating $300,000 to a super PAC backing Kelli Ward, who is running against the GOP senator in a primary next year.

    By ALEX ISENSTADT
    08/09/2017 03:14 PM EDT

    One of Donald Trump’s most generous political benefactors is providing a six-figure donation to a super PAC devoted to unseating Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican who has been fiercely critical of the president.

    Robert Mercer, a reclusive hedge fund billionaire who was intimately involved in Trump’s rise and helped to bankroll his 2016 campaign, is contributing $300,000 to a super PAC supporting former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who is challenging Flake in a Republican primary next year.

    It’s the latest sign that Trump’s political machine is preparing to take on Flake, whose persistent attacks have angered the president. The White House has met with Ward and two other Republicans who are mulling primary challenges to the Arizona senator, state Treasurer Jeff DeWit and former state GOP Chairman Robert Graham.

    A longtime Trump critic, Flake has made waves with the release of his new book, “Conscience of a Conservative.” He argues that his party is in denial about the Trump presidency and blames the GOP for his rise. Over the past week, Flake has launched a national TV tour in which he’s made the case that his party has taken the wrong course.

    During the 2016 campaign, Flake refused to endorse Trump and called on him to withdraw after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Trump was heard boasting about groping women. The senator refused to attend the GOP convention, saying that he had to stay home to mow his lawn.

    His jabs rankled candidate Trump, who at one point said that he would be willing to spend $10 million of his own money to defeat Flake in a 2018 primary.

    And during a press briefing last week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to rule out the possibility that the president would help finance an anti-Flake primary effort.

    “Sen. Flake would serve his constituents much better if he was less focused on writing a book and attacking the president” and more involved in “passing legislation,” she said.

    Ties between the Mercer family and Trump run deep. Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah, is close to several of the president’s closest aides, including chief strategist Steve Bannon. In August 2016, Rebekah Mercer, a major GOP donor in her own right, played an instrumental role in engineering a shakeup that placed Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, now a White House counselor, atop Trump’s campaign.

    In December, then-president-elect Trump, Bannon, and Conway attended a lavish “Villains and Heroes”-themed costume party at the Mercer family’s Long Island home.

    Robert Mercer also contributed to the pro-Ward super PAC, KelliPAC, during the 2016 campaign, when Ward unsuccessfully challenged GOP Sen. John McCain. Mercer is a primary funder of the pro-Trump website Breitbart, which published a number of flattering stories about Ward during her previous bid.

    “We are so grateful to Mr. Mercer for his courageous support for Kelli Ward, a true conservative champion. Early investments in a campaign like this are so valuable,” said Doug McKee, KelliPAC’s chairman, said in a statement. “Kelli is in prime position to carry her message of accountable, constitutional government all the way to the United States Senate. Interest from additional donors is pouring in, and we are confident that leadership like Mr. Mercer’s will allow us to run a robust winning effort all the way to November of 2018.”

    Flake is one of the most vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection in 2018, and many senior Republicans are worried that his manifesto will hurt his prospects — and further inflame tensions with the administration. Within Arizona, some of Trump’s biggest donors have been searching out a primary opponent to challenge the senator.

    The president has yet to declare his support for any of Flake’s prospective opponents, yet he is keeping tabs on the primary. During a recent meeting in the Oval Office, Trump asked the Arizona GOP chairman, Jonathan Lines, for an update on the contest.

    ———-

    “Top Trump donor ponies up to take out Flake” by ALEX ISENSTADT; Politico; 08/09/2017

    “Robert Mercer, a reclusive hedge fund billionaire who was intimately involved in Trump’s rise and helped to bankroll his 2016 campaign, is contributing $300,000 to a super PAC supporting former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who is challenging Flake in a Republican primary next year.”

    $300,000 ain’t chump change, and there’s a lot more money where that came from.

    And it’s not just direct cash infusions that the Mercers are potentially offering Ward. As the billionaires behind Breitbart there’s all sorts of pro-Ward press in a publication bound to have significant influence in with GOP primary voters that they can offer too:


    Ties between the Mercer family and Trump run deep. Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah, is close to several of the president’s closest aides, including chief strategist Steve Bannon. In August 2016, Rebekah Mercer, a major GOP donor in her own right, played an instrumental role in engineering a shakeup that placed Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, now a White House counselor, atop Trump’s campaign.

    In December, then-president-elect Trump, Bannon, and Conway attended a lavish “Villains and Heroes”-themed costume party at the Mercer family’s Long Island home.

    Robert Mercer also contributed to the pro-Ward super PAC, KelliPAC, during the 2016 campaign, when Ward unsuccessfully challenged GOP Sen. John McCain. Mercer is a primary funder of the pro-Trump website Breitbart, which published a number of flattering stories about Ward during her previous bid.

    So that’s a pretty big boost to Ward’s ambitions. And it’s not the only news she got this week. One day after the reports about Mercer’s donation we learn about another group :

    The Associated Press

    2 Trump backers join Kelli Ward’s campaign to unseat Jeff Flake

    Aug 11, 2017 Updated

    PHOENIX — A political operative who helped raise millions of dollars to support President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign is joining the U.S. Senate campaign of former Arizona state Sen. Kelli Ward.

    Thursday’s announcement that Great America PAC founder Eric Beach was joining Ward’s primary campaign to unseat Republican Sen. Jeff Flake comes a day after another Trump supporter, Robert Mercer, donated $300,000 to Ward’s super-PAC.

    The political action committee Beach founded was independent but raised more than $28 million to back Trump. The announcement said Great America PAC executive director Brent Lowder is also joining Ward’s campaign.

    Ward called both “highly accomplished political operatives with strong track records of success,” who are committed to helping her win.

    ———-

    “2 Trump backers join Kelli Ward’s campaign to unseat Jeff Flake”; The Associated Press; 08/11/2017

    “Thursday’s announcement that Great America PAC founder Eric Beach was joining Ward’s primary campaign to unseat Republican Sen. Jeff Flake comes a day after another Trump supporter, Robert Mercer, donated $300,000 to Ward’s super-PAC.”

    Yep, the founder of the pro-Trump Great America PAC is joining Ward’s campaign. Along with its executive director. Presumably to raise money:


    The political action committee Beach founded was independent but raised more than $28 million to back Trump. The announcement said Great America PAC executive director Brent Lowder is also joining Ward’s campaign.

    We now have a far-right pro-Trump clan of billionaires and a pro-Trump small donor-targeting super-PAC suddenly jumping on board the Ward train. That certainly changes the race dynamic in the upcoming Arizona GOP Senate primary. It’ll be one to watch. Trump and Mercer vs Flake.

    And given that Great America PAC is an existing pro-Trump super PAC that presumably raised money from people all around the country in 2016, it raises the question of how much out-of-state small donor cash from all around the US is going to be backing Ward on top of the out-of-state billionaire cash. That will also be something to watch since they knowingly raised money for someone they thought was from China back in October of 2016.

    Although it’s unclear how much of any of the money raised by these guys will actually be used to help the Ward campaign given Great America PAC’s track record. As Red State, a conservative never-Trumper haven these days, warned its audience back in May 2016 from after Politico wrote a piece on how an abundance of scam pro-Trump super-PACs where starting to hinder the Trump campaign by siphoning off funds (the Great Grift is always hungry), it appears that Great America PAC was a particularrly notably scammy PAC. Even Roger Stone called it a scam, although that was in part because Great America scam PAC siphoned from Stone’s own scam PACs:

    Red State

    Top Trump Adviser Says Pro-Trump Great America PAC Is A Scam While Running An Alleged Scam Himself

    Posted at 12:30 pm on May 16, 2016
    by streiff

    There is so much awesome here that I don’t even know where to begin.

    If you’ve paid any attention at all to Donald Trump’s career this will come as no surprise that a man who has made his way in the world as a scam is suddenly, himself, beset by scammers..

    As Donald Trump rushes to start collecting the $1 billion expected to be necessary to compete for the White House, one of his biggest challenges may come from those claiming to support him.

    An increasing number of unauthorized groups are invoking the presumptive GOP nominee’s name to raise money, suggesting that they’ll use the cash to support his campaign, even as some appear to be spending most of their money on contracts with favored consultants.

    Trump’s campaign and its allies worry that the groups are doing little to help the campaign and may be doing more harm than good by siphoning off cash that would otherwise go to the campaign’s fledgling fundraising effort. The campaign has disavowed several of the groups, demanding they stop using the candidate’s name in fundraising appeals and calling at least one super PAC founded by a Trump adviser a “big-league scam.” But appeals keep coming from other groups, with more now joining the scrum, and rival groups accusing one another of being scams.

    And money sent to Trump super PACs is inevitably money well spent:

    Thus it can be hard for online contributors to distinguish among the groups touting support for Trump. An outfit called Restore American Freedom and Liberty has blasted out emails trumpeting the latest polls showing Trump tying Hillary Clinton, ending with a big red CONTRIBUTE button. According to its campaign finance disclosures, the group has raised more than $215,000 but spent just $2,000 on ads — split between Ted Cruz and Ben Carson. Most of the money went to a New York company called Amagi Strategies, for what the disclosures said was fundraising, management and research.

    POLITICO, however, buries its lede. To date the highest profile pro-Trump PAC has been Great America PAC. Naturally, it, like all Donald Trump enterprises, attracts only the best people.

    The PAC has spent more than $1 million so far on pro-Trump ads but raised eyebrows with a TV spot that looked unprofessional and asked supporters to call a toll-free number to donate. One of its strategists, Jesse Benton, was convicted this month of buying an endorsement for Ron Paul in 2012. And Amy Kremer, a tea party activist who was an early leader of the group, quit this month over a disagreement with Beach.

    The PAC’s treasurer is Dan Backer, whose consulting firm, DB Capitol Strategies, has been paid more than $2,000. Backer is also the treasurer of PACs such as Conservative Action Fund and Tea Party Forward that have spent more on their own operating expenses than on their stated causes.

    Nothing increases donor confidence like having a convicted felon and alleged scammer running an organization.

    Longtime Trump ally Roger Stone has warned donors to “beware” of Great America PAC, branding it a “scam.”

    Beware -Convicted felon @JesseBenton and Clinton stooge @EdRoliins get caught running SCAM Pro- @realDonaldTrump PAC https://t.co/e3OaMfnahM— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) May 6, 2016

    Part of this is disgruntlement is because Roger Stone has been raising money to finance his rent-a-mob effort to prevent “vote stealing” at the Cleveland Convention and anything sent to Great America PAC cuts into his ability to finance racists, neo-nazis, and other key Trump constituencies from making the trip.

    Not to be outdone, Trump “campaign manager” and vicious niblet, Corey Lewandowski, has accused Roger Stone of running a scam::

    “Big league scam,” Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told The Hill.

    “We sent a cease-and-desist letter to this PAC in October and want nothing to do with this,” he said. “These guys are scam artists doing it for their own personal benefit and seeking to profiteer off Trump’s name. People should not give to this or any other super-PAC claiming to support Donald Trump for president.”

    ———-

    Trump’s campaign and its allies worry that the groups are doing little to help the campaign and may be doing more harm than good by siphoning off cash that would otherwise go to the campaign’s fledgling fundraising effort. The campaign has disavowed several of the groups, demanding they stop using the candidate’s name in fundraising appeals and calling at least one super PAC founded by a Trump adviser a “big-league scam.” But appeals keep coming from other groups, with more now joining the scrum, and rival groups accusing one another of being scams.”

    First, note that the primary reason Cory Lewandowski called Roger Stone’s super-PAC a “big-league scam” is because Stone’s new super-PAC was trying to raising money to damage Trump’s primary opponents, which just looks bad. And they were already doing that fake disassociation theatrics pretending Trump had nothing to do with Stone after Stone formally left the campaign in the Fall of 2015 (to obviously be and “independent” dirty-trickster). So Lewandowski’s “Big-league scam” comment was part of those theatrics.

    And secondly, yes, Great America PAC’s strategist, Jesse Benton, is Ron Paul’s gransdon-by-marriage who was caught buying an import Iowan GOP Senator’s support in the 2012 primaries, out-competing Michelle Bachmann, So we’ll see if Benton jumps aboard the Ward folly trolley. But it just might win with these resources behind it. And get elected and derail things. Benton has to want in on that.

    And yes, Stone’s charge that Great America PAC was a scam was a bit self-interested given his own competing scams, but it appears he was correct about Great America PAC. It was indeed pretty scammy:


    The PAC has spent more than $1 million so far on pro-Trump ads but raised eyebrows with a TV spot that looked unprofessional and asked supporters to call a toll-free number to donate. One of its strategists, Jesse Benton, was convicted this month of buying an endorsement for Ron Paul in 2012. And Amy Kremer, a tea party activist who was an early leader of the group, quit this month over a disagreement with Beach.

    The PAC’s treasurer is Dan Backer, whose consulting firm, DB Capitol Strategies, has been paid more than $2,000. Backer is also the treasurer of PACs such as Conservative Action Fund and Tea Party Forward that have spent more on their own operating expenses than on their stated causes.

    So while signing up Great America Pac veterans might be good for the Ward campaign, it’s hard to say it’s good for Ward’s small donors. Mercer can fill in for the grift-tax. It’s just one part of the Mercer’s full-spectrum assault on general progress and apparently the new dominant GOP business model.

    So if you simply must subsidize Robert Mercer and donate to Kelli Ward in 2018, donate with caution. Extreme caution.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 11, 2017, 10:05 pm
  35. Now that Steve Bannon has declared ‘war’ on ‘the Establishment’ and threatened to find primary challengers for every GOP Senator who isn’t Ted Cruz – in keeping with Bannon’s generic strategy of extreme ‘anti-Establishment’ posturing in order to push an extreme pro-Establishment/pro-billionaire far right agenda – here’s a look at how those intra-GOP tensions are playing out in Arizona, where both the Trump administration and Steven Bannon have already declared war on GOP Senator Jeff Flake. It’s shaping up to be a fascinating primary because, while it might seem extra bad for Senator Flake to have both Bannon and Trump out to take him down, as the article makes clear, it’s very unclear how this primary threat process is actually going to be play out. Far right nut job Kelli Ward has already thrown her hat in the ring and is already beating Flake by a large margin in the polls. Both Bannon and Trump have encouraged Ward’s challenge, but lingering fears about Ward’s appeal in the general election have the White House reportedly looking for a different challenger to get behind. The Trump/Bannon primary challenge against Jeff Flake might have its own primary challenge.

    It’s also fascinating because it’s unclear who Jeff Flake should root for: someone like Kelli Ward who is already beating him in the GOP primary polls but would probably be less competitive in a general election, or a less controversial challenger who might have have Ward’s appeal to the hard core base but won’t suffer from her obvious general election liabilities.

    And the following report reminds us of another anomaly heading into the 2018 mid-terms that will add to Flake’s primary headache: big GOP donors (the real ‘Establishment’) are so pissed about the GOP not passing the big legislation they want that they’re already withholding money. Money that would normally be going to incumbents like Flake. In other words, the Bannon/Trump “war on ‘the Establishment'” might experience its own war and this is all happening at the same time the real ‘Establishment’ (very wealthy donors) is a declaring of its own on these same incumbent GOPers. And in the midst of all this fighting, it’s hard to ignore that they’re all fighting for pretty much the same pro-billionaire far right agenda. It’s depressing, but still fascinating:

    Associated Press

    Flake’s vulnerability feeds GOP Senate concerns

    By: Erica Werner and Bob Christie,
    October 9, 2017 , 3:34 pm

    Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake’s re-election race is becoming a case study in the GOP’s convulsions among the establishment, a furious base and angry donors.

    After bucking Donald Trump in a state the president won, Flake is bottoming out in polls. Yet Republicans look like they may be stuck with a hard-core conservative challenger who some fear could win the primary but lose in the general election.

    A White House search for a candidate to replace former state Sen. Kelli Ward in the primary appears to have hit a wall. And now conservatives want to turn Arizona into the latest example of a Trump Train outsider taking down a member of the GOP establishment.

    “People are fooling themselves if they think Jeff Flake is anything but a walking dead member of the United State Senate,” said Andy Surabian, whose Great America Alliance is backing Ward.

    “I don’t see how he survives a primary. I don’t see how he survives a general. The numbers just don’t add up,” added Surabian, who worked at the White House as an adviser to Steve Bannon, then the president’s top strategist.

    Despite discontent among some Republicans over Ward, Bannon met with her last week at a conservative conference in Colorado Springs to encourage her campaign, according to a Republican official who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose the previously unreported private meeting.

    Ward unsuccessfully challenged Arizona’s senior senator, John McCain, in last year’s election, losing in the primary by a wide margin. But in Flake, she would face a more vulnerable candidate at a moment when the GOP establishment is on the defensive, facing a simmering anti-incumbent mood heightened by Republicans’ failure to make good on seven years of promises to scrap Barack Obama’s health care law.

    Flake is in danger of becoming the latest victim of this voter wrath. Yet, rather than making an effort to soothe pro-Trump GOP voters, he’s all but dared them to take him down by kicking off his campaign with an anti-Trump manifesto, “Conscience of a Conservative,” a book in which he bemoaned his party’s failure to stand up to Trump in last year’s presidential race.

    “We pretended that the emperor wasn’t naked,” Flake wrote.

    Trump, in turn, has lashed out at Flake on Twitter, calling him “toxic,” and praised Ward. White House officials say there’s little chance Trump will have a change of heart over supporting Flake. One official, speaking on condition of anonymity to disclose private deliberations, said Trump is irritated not only by Flake’s public criticism, but by what Trump sees as the senator’s attempts to use his critiques of the president to gain attention.

    Nevertheless, Flake, 54, insists he won’t be getting out of the race. The primary is Aug. 29.

    Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has protected vulnerable GOP senators in the past, but his ability to do so in the future was thrown into question last month by Sen. Luther Strange’s loss to rabble-rousing Roy Moore in a runoff in Alabama. A McConnell-aligned super PAC had spent around $9 million to help Strange.

    Trump was encouraged by McConnell and others to back Strange, a decision which he reportedly now regrets and which only added to the frictions between the president and the Senate leader. Flake’s candidacy could provide occasion for yet more conflict between the two, given the possibility that they will be on opposite sides in the primary.

    Adding to Flake’s problems, donations to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP campaign arm, have dried up after the GOP failed to deliver on repealing and replacing the Obama health law. Some donors say they intend to withhold money from incumbent senators like Flake until they start delivering on Trump’s agenda, a strategy encouraged privately by some top White House officials.

    “Donors are going to start cutting off funding for all senators until they get Trump’s initiatives passed,” said Roy Bailey, a Trump supporter and fundraiser in Texas. “I think there’s a real kind of movement going around that is catching momentum.”

    Flake’s campaign points to strong fundraising numbers and upcoming events including a fundraising visit Monday by Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio. But Flake can’t even count on support from fellow members of his Arizona delegation. GOP Rep. Trent Franks demurred when asked if he would be supporting Flake for re-election

    “I’m probably not going to, for a lot of reasons, not going to address that,” Franks said. “Obviously, Sen. Flake knows how profoundly bewildered and disappointed I was with his actions that, in the general election last year, if everyone had followed that line of reasoning, would have resulted in Hillary Clinton’s election.”

    Franks’ name is one of several that have circulated as potential primary challengers to Flake, along with Rep. Paul Gosar, state university board member Jay Heiler and former state GOP Chairman Robert Graham. Several Republicans said the White House has been searching for some alternative to Ward.

    Yet Ward shows no sign of stepping aside, and another consideration, usually unspoken, is McCain’s brain cancer, which will likely mean another vacant Senate seat at some point in the future.

    Ward’s erratic history, which causes mainline Republicans to view her as damaged goods, is underscored by comments she made after McCain’s July cancer diagnosis, where she urged him to step down and suggested she should be considered to replace him.

    “Look, you see what her numbers were in the McCain race – I don’t know what would make us think different now,” said Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz. Whichever Republican emerges from the primary will likely face Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, seen as a strong candidate.

    It’s all adding to a season of trouble for GOP senators such as Flake and Dean Heller of Nevada, who also faces a primary challenge from the right. The good news for Senate Republicans, who hold a 52-48 majority, is that they have an extremely favorable map next year that has them defending only two genuinely endangered incumbents, Flake and Heller, while Democrats are on defense in 10 states Trump won.

    ———-

    “Flake’s vulnerability feeds GOP Senate concerns” by Erica Werner and Bob Christie; Associated Press; 10/09/2017

    “After bucking Donald Trump in a state the president won, Flake is bottoming out in polls. Yet Republicans look like they may be stuck with a hard-core conservative challenger who some fear could win the primary but lose in the general election.”

    It’s a quite a fight: Jeff Flake, now an unpopular incumbent, has already cratered in the polls and fallen behind the far right ‘anti-Establishment’ Kelli Ward. But if Ward really does defeat Flake in the primaries that could easily become a Pyrrhic victory that results in a loss in the general election.

    It’s one of the reasons the White House is apparently still shopping around for someone other than Ward. But not Bannon, who recently met with Ward and encouraged her primary challenge:


    A White House search for a candidate to replace former state Sen. Kelli Ward in the primary appears to have hit a wall. And now conservatives want to turn Arizona into the latest example of a Trump Train outsider taking down a member of the GOP establishment.

    “People are fooling themselves if they think Jeff Flake is anything but a walking dead member of the United State Senate,” said Andy Surabian, whose Great America Alliance is backing Ward.

    “I don’t see how he survives a primary. I don’t see how he survives a general. The numbers just don’t add up,” added Surabian, who worked at the White House as an adviser to Steve Bannon, then the president’s top strategist.

    Despite discontent among some Republicans over Ward, Bannon met with her last week at a conservative conference in Colorado Springs to encourage her campaign, according to a Republican official who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose the previously unreported private meeting.

    But while these challenges facing Jeff Flake’s primary challenge are no doubt good news for Flake, it’s still not clear who he should be quietly rooting for to become his ultimate challenger: Ward or an alternative who is presumably less politically toxic than Ward in the general election. Or perhaps both, turning the primary into a three-way race? A Bannon-backed Ward and a different White House-backed challenger both taking on Flake, splitting the ‘anti-Establishment’ vote.

    Might we see a three-way situation develop or will the White House just get behind Ward? It’s a significant question now that Bannon has declared war on almost all GOP incumbents, because unlike all those theoretical primary challenges, the Arizona challenge is happening now. So anything the White House does in this primary is undoubtedly being watched by potential primary challengers all over the US. And not just in the eight states where GOP incumbent Senators are running in 2018. Don’t forget that every House member in every state is up for reelection too. A lot of eyes are going to be on the White House’s handling of its Ward dilemma.

    At the same time, quite a few eyes are going to be on the big money donors and how they treat Flake. Because if the donors are seriously threatening to withhold money from incumbents unless things like Trumpcare and the Trump tax cuts come to fruition – two Establishment agenda items that are politically suicidal given how unpopular and literally life-threatening they are to average people – and that withholding remains the case even in the face a Bannon/White House campaign to find primary challengers, that means every incumbent is being put in a significant political damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t box. And “top White House officials” quietly approve of the donors issuing this threat. It’s a coordinated effort:


    Adding to Flake’s problems, donations to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP campaign arm, have dried up after the GOP failed to deliver on repealing and replacing the Obama health law. Some donors say they intend to withhold money from incumbent senators like Flake until they start delivering on Trump’s agenda, a strategy encouraged privately by some top White House officials.

    “Donors are going to start cutting off funding for all senators until they get Trump’s initiatives passed,” said Roy Bailey, a Trump supporter and fundraiser in Texas. “I think there’s a real kind of movement going around that is catching momentum.”

    So what this means for the GOP incumbents is that the donors, Bannon, and White House have all managed to create a situation where the most ‘anti-Establishment’ thing these Senators can do is oppose the Trump agenda. And that might actually be the most politically popular thing they can do during this strange political moment like we find ourselves. The GOP base is both super pissed at the GOP not getting of its signature agenda items done but simultaneously super pissed when they learn the details of the GOP’s actual proposals. It’s another damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t box GOP box.

    But now that the White House, Steve Bannon, and big donors all appear to have gelled around a strategy of issuing threats to GOP incumbents under the banner of punishing these incumbents for not passing an agenda that even the GOP base disliked it’s entirely possible for GOPers like Jeff Flake to turn spats with Trump and the Trump agenda into a sort of ‘anti-Establishment’ cred. Don’t forget, the massive tax cuts for the rich are the next big agenda item. And the donors REALLY want a massive tax cut for themselves. That’s why they’re issuing this threat. And those tax cut proposals are guaranteed to be incredibly unpopular.The mega-donors are hungry for a massive tax cut after failing the Obamacare repeal failed and that’s why there’s already speculation that the tax cuts will fail. It’ll be the same fate as Trumpcare: so unpopular even the GOP can’t pass it.

    So when all these GOP incumbents start facing simultaneous threats from both the mega donors and the ‘anti-Establishment’ Bannon-wing to pass a massively unpopular tax cut for the rich, that creates a remarkable open for these GOP incumbents who have suddenly found themselves to be the next category of expendable human being in the GOP agenda: opposing the Trump/Establishment pro-billionaire agenda could become the real ‘anti-Establishment’ position for a GOP incumbent politician to take. But it will only work if they make the kinds of critiques that the GOP base generally feels, like disappointment in how the Trump/Establishment agenda is clearly written by and for the mega-rich. It’s a massive political opening that these incumenbents are almost getting pushed into taking by this bizarre GOP civil war. If these incumbents are going to be facing damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t choices no matter what, they might as well be damned with dignity. And not just for the dignity. Opposing the Trump/Bannon/Establishment agenda just might be good politics too.

    We’ll see. The party is nuts so who knows what sort of primary environment will ultimately unfold. But it’s hard to ignore the amazing unfolding circumstance where the White House and Bannon’s far right insurgency movement appears to be planning on maintaining that ‘anti-Establishment’ political posturing by publicly running against the GOP Congress. And those congressional GOPers are being put in a position where political logic is almost begging them to publicly oppose the wildly unpopular agenda GOP mega-donor agenda the White House and Bannon are trying to get passed.

    With the GOP in complete control and still flailing it doesn’t have a lot of sloganeering option heading into 2018. But that still leaves the GOP the option of running against itself. And that might end up being the best strategy for the party. It’s absolutely fascinating. Sad! But fascinating.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 10, 2017, 10:22 pm

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