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Extremism in the Defense of Stupidity is a Vice, Part 3: The Bundy Brigade’s Doomed Manifest Destiny

Ammon Bundy’s standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters out in the woods near Burns, OR, is proving to be zany, dangerous, and generally harmful to the public good, which is what we might expect at this point given the nature of the Bundy family’s foray into politics and policy-making in recent years. And it’s taken a number of steps towards the surreal in recent days with growing number of closely affiliated militia outfits have been issuing “we support you, although not this particular occupation” messages to the Bundy Brigade.

These groups include the Committee of Safety, an organization formed by individuals closely affiliated with Bundy who also support the concept of citizen grand juries that can put on trial public officials for treason and implement the death penalty (it might sound familiar if you’re in Arizona). And the Committee of Safety was set up in mid December to enforce those rulings. Then there’s the Pacific Patriots Network, a militia group that claims to support Bundy’s goals, just not his recent efforts, and also decided they were going to protect both the government and Bundy Brigade from each other. With guns at the gates of the refuge headquarters. And other vets are declaring fraud, feds, and folks about to freak out have filled the whole operation.

All the while, Ammon Bundy continues his strategy of talking about taking two steps forward in negotiation a resolution while actually make one step back type of by issuing the same unworkable demands. As of early Thursday, it was looking like Sheriff Ward was going to offer the Bundy Brigade a safe escort out of the refuge on Friday. At least that was the plan. And Sheriff Ward and Ammon did indeed meet on Thursday to discuss the proposal and Ammon agreed to leave …but only after all his demands were met. That’s just how Sheriff Ward’s past month has been going:

The Oregonian/OregonLive
Sheriff, Bundy meet on neutral ground to discuss ending refuge occupation

By Les Zaitz |
on January 07, 2016 at 3:10 PM, updated January 07, 2016 at 8:41 PM

CRANE — Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, backed up by two other sheriffs, met face-to-face Thursday with protest leader Ammon Bundy to try to bring a peaceful end to a weeklong occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

“I’m here to offer safe escort out,” the sheriff told Bundy. “Go back and kick it around with your folks.”

The sheriff initially said he planned to call Bundy on Friday to see what he and his group decided.

But later Bundy told reporters that the protesters won’t leave until federal land in the county is turned over to residents to manage on their own.

“Until we can see that there is a great momentum and the people can get doing that themselves, then we will remain,” he said. “That could be a week, that could be a year.”

After hearing that, the sheriff said there would be no call, but he wouldn’t say what his next step would be.

The parley between Bundy and the sheriff lasted between five and 10 minutes and took place in the open, at the intersection of a state highway and the back route to the refuge. It was another in a series of twists and turns the past week that have drawn national and international attention to this sparsely populated high desert country.

Bundy and about 20 other militants took over the headquarters compound of the refuge on Saturday and additional protesters have been arriving in the past day. Bundy, a member of a Nevada ranching family, has said repeatedly that the occupation was to protest the imprisonment of two Harney County ranchers and to demand that the federal government give over ownership of federal land to local control.

Ward was encouraged to reach out directly to the militants at a town hall meeting Wednesday night in Burns that drew an estimated 400 people. Several speakers urged the sheriff to do just what he did Thursday, and several ranchers had volunteered to join him if needed to end the occupation.

Ward was accompanied to the remote location by Sheriffs Brian Wolfe of Malheur County and Andy Long of Tillamook County as well three rigs carrying heavily armed law enforcement officers.

Ward met Bundy on the side of Lava Bed Road, a handful of media surrounding the men. Bundy was accompanied by Ryan Payne, a self-styled militiaman from Montana.

Ward explained he was there to resolve the standoff. He said he didn’t want anyone to get hurt.

“We need to find a peaceful resolution and get you guys out of here,” he said.

Bundy, wearing his trademark cowboy hat, told Ward, “We mean no harm to anybody.”

Bundy went into his oft-repeated comments about why the militants had arrived to take over the refuge.

“We’re here for the people of Harney County,” he said. “We’re here because people were being ignored.” He said citizens have complained over and over about federal land-use issues.

“Yet, sheriff, you would not address those concerns,” Bundy said. “We’re getting ignored again.”

Ward replied, “I didn’t come here to argue.”

In his most pointed comment at the roadside session, Ward calmly advised Bundy that “at some point, this is all going to have to be resolved.”

Payne tried to engage Ward in a discussion over a list of grievances that the Bundy group has made about a criminal prosecution of two local ranchers, of management of federal lands and about abuses of the Constitution.

“You have an obligation as a public servant to address these issues,” he said. Ward said that wasn’t the purpose of their meeting.

The men shook hands, Bundy and Payne returning to the small convoy that brought them to the scene on a gravel road roughly 20 miles east of the refuge. It was apparent Bundy brought a security detail with him.

Ward said he has tried every tactic he knows to end the occupation.

“I want to give them every opportunity to leave peacefully,” he said. He sensed Bundy and the others weren’t interested.

“I don’t feel like they think they’re getting enough attention yet,” Ward said.

According to Sheriff Ward, “I don’t feel like they think they’re getting enough attention yet.”
LOL, Sheriff Ward might be correct in his perception of things because it’s very possible that the militia doesn’t feel it’s getting enough attention. But it’s hilarious if he’s correct because they’re definitely getting attention. The national media is there. They’re just not getting the kind of attention they set out to get.

Still, it’s hard to argue that they haven’t received attention given all the national news articles that detail their demands. But considering the levels of delusional theatrics on display by the Bundy Brigade who knows, maybe they are straight up delusional enough to fell that they haven’t received enough attention yet and if just a few more Americans hear about their cause there’s going to be an outpouring of support for their cause (and presumably a flurry of similar armed standoffs on federal lands across the nation).

The Harney Countey “Committee of Safety” and its highly unsafe “citizens’ grand juries”
And it’s that delusion that makes the a peaceful resolution to this standoff so complicated at the moment. It also isn’t encouraging that the Bundy Brigade has a local political support group, the Committee of Safety, that was assemble with the help of people like members like Michael Emry, a man who supports the idea that citizens can assemble “citizen’s grand juries” and arrest and convict public officials of capital punishment. And there’s active discussions of creating a “citizens’ grand jury” through the Committee of Safety. And the Committee also includes the President of the Harney Country GOP, Tim Smith. And this Committee was set up weeks before Ammon Bundy pulled his stunt, but not long after the resentencing of Steven and Dwight Hammond, when militia types started showing up in the area in early December and began stalking and harassing federal employees. As we can see, the Committee of Safety is rather ironically named:

Raw Story
Here’s why Oregon militants might be planning to ‘arrest’ the sheriff and execute him for treason

Travis Gettys
08 Jan 2016 at 14:32 ET

The Oregon militants may be plotting an extralegal maneuver to remove county officials — or worse — for failing to support their demands after taking over a federal wildlife preserve.

A group of residents established the Harney County Committee of Safety last month, after some of the militants arrived in the area and tried to recruit supporters of local ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond — who were ordered back to prison this week to finish their sentences for illegally setting fires on public lands.

The committee of safety — made up of six community members, including a retired fire chief, two ranchers and the president of the county’s Republican Party — was formed to file grievances against the government.

The concept is promoted by so-called “sovereign citizen” groups and is based on shadow governments set up by the Continental Congress in the months before American Revolution, said J.J. McNab, an expert on right-wing extremist groups.

The Continental Congress in 1774 sent a list of demands, called the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, to King George III — and the Bundy family and their backers sent a “notice (for) redress of grievances” Dec. 11 to several Oregon and Harney County officials challenging their authority in the Hammond case.

“We do not believe there is any threat to this community from this group,” said Tim Smith, a committee member and president of the county GOP.

The committee will meet Friday evening, where they will presumably discuss state and local officials’ refusal to acquiesce to their demands to release the ranchers from prison and turn over federally owned land to local control.

The safety committee also includes members of the III Percent, a loosely organized pro-firearms militia group, to help enforce the rulings of the “common law grand jury” formed at the same time in Harney County.

“After we organized the citizens’ grand jury together with a safety committee, we could take over lands through proper redress,” said Michael Emry, founder and publisher of The Voice of Idaho — and a common law jury activist.

A group of Emry’s associates in the III Percent militia, Bundy ranch sniper Eric “EJ” Parker, announced Friday afternoon they were on their way to the standoff in Oregon.

Common law, or citizen’s grand juries, are an extra-legal maneuver promoted by sovereign citizens and their ilk to hold public officials accountable for angering right-wing activist groups.

Similar bodies have been formed in Florida and elsewhere to “indict” elected officialsPresident Barack Obama, in particular — for perceived constitutional violations.

McNab said these phony grand juries indict on only one charge — treason, which is punishable by death.

The Bundys have voiced support for a variety of right-wing fringe ideas, particularly the “posse comitatus” notion that no legitimate governments exist above the county level, and they believe in no higher law authority than the county sheriff.

However, posse members have embedded an implicit threat in their belief system.

If the sheriff violates his oath of office, as determined by the right-wing extremists themselves, “he shall be removed by the posse to the most populated intersection of streets in the township and at high noon be hung by the neck, the body remaining until sundown as an example to those who would subvert the law.”

Sheriff David Ward, who was sworn into an interim term Jan. 2, said his elderly parents had been harassed since the militants arrived — and his wife has left town after a group of strangers followed her home and she awoke to find her tire slashed.

The sheriff said he had received numerous death threats after saying he agreed with many of the militants’ concerns — but not their tactics.

“You’re not invited to come here and bother with our citizens,” Ward said. “I don’t believe that just a handful of people have the right to come in from outside of our area and tell us that we don’t know how to live our lives.”

McNab said she believes the militants may be planning to take the sheriff into custody if a common law grand jury indicts him.

One of the militants, Jon Ritzheimer, drew the attention of Capitol Police in September for his plot to “arrest” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for treason after she voted in favor of the Iran nuclear deal.

Ritzheimer, who is best known for his anti-Muslim rallies in Arizona, became infuriated after the Oath Keepers and some Michigan militia groups backed away from his plot to kidnap Stabenow and other elected officials.

“Ritzheimer, who is best known for his anti-Muslim rallies in Arizona, became infuriated after the Oath Keepers and some Michigan militia groups backed away from his plot to kidnap Stabenow and other elected officials.”
Yep, Jon Ritzheimer, one of the leaders of the Bundy Brigades, was openly plotting the arrest of Senator Debbie Stabenow and charge her with treason over her support of the Iranian nuclear deal back in September . And in mid December we have the formation of the “Harney County Committee of Safety”, which includes not only Tim Smith, the president of the Harney County GOP, but also members of the “III Percent”, a group that appears to be willing to enforce the ruling of “common law grand juries”:


The safety committee also includes members of the III Percent, a loosely organized pro-firearms militia group, to help enforce the rulings of the “common law grand jury” formed at the same time in Harney County.

And note that Common law activist Michael Emry also said that the purpose of the formation of the Committee of Safety in Harney County is to provide enforcement capabilities to a people’s grand jury. And following the organization of the citizen’s grand jury and conviction of officials that don’t go along with their agenda, they’ll apparently be able to “take over lands through proper redress”:


“After we organized the citizens’ grand jury together with a safety committee, we could take over lands through proper redress,” said Michael Emry, founder and publisher of The Voice of Idaho — and a common law jury activist.

A group of Emry’s associates in the III Percent militia, Bundy ranch sniper Eric “EJ” Parker, announced Friday afternoon they were on their way to the standoff in Oregon.

Common law, or citizen’s grand juries, are an extra-legal maneuver promoted by sovereign citizens and their ilk to hold public officials accountable for angering right-wing activist groups.

But that’s not all the “citizen’s grand jury” can do. It can also charge public officials with treason (for not following their ideology) and hang them:


McNab said these phony grand juries indict on only one charge — treason, which is punishable by death.

The Bundys have voiced support for a variety of right-wing fringe ideas, particularly the “posse comitatus” notion that no legitimate governments exist above the county level, and they believe in no higher law authority than the county sheriff.

However, posse members have embedded an implicit threat in their belief system.

If the sheriff violates his oath of office, as determined by the right-wing extremists themselves, “he shall be removed by the posse to the most populated intersection of streets in the township and at high noon be hung by the neck, the body remaining until sundown as an example to those who would subvert the law.”

Wow, that sure sounds a lot like what Jon Ritzheimer was proposing for Senator Stabenow. And what Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes proposed for Senator John McCain at a rally attended by Arizona State Senator Kelli Ward (who is now challenging McCain in the primaries).

So, might this “Harney County Committee of Safety” be planning some sort of “citizens’ grand jury” against Sheriff Ward and other Harney County officials that don’t agree to their demands to free the two ranchers and turn over control of federal lands? Maybe, but based on the letter they sent to Ammon that is highly supportive of this efforts but not his methods, any citizens’ grand juries and subsequent hangings will probably not be associated too closely with wildelife refuge standoff because of the bad press Ammon created for the Committee of Safety’s goals (of putting on trial, convicting, and hanging government officials):

The Oregonian/OregonLive
Oregon standoff: Harney County group asks Bundy to leave but takes on his cause

By Luke Hammill |
on January 08, 2016 at 8:08 PM, updated January 08, 2016 at 8:27 PM

BURNS — Members of a local group previously affiliated with Ammon Bundy, the leader of the armed militants occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, indicated Friday that they now want him to leave.

Before the occupation, Bundy created a website for the Harney County Committee of Safety, named after the “committees of safety” that served 18th-century revolutionary interests before the United States won independence from Great Britain.

But a draft letter presented by safety committee leaders at a public meeting asked Bundy to get out of town – though it thanked him for drawing national attention to the fight for local control of federal lands in the county.

“We ask that you organize your people, explain that your point has been made and leave in a peaceful and honorable fashion,” the draft reads. “This will allow us in Harney County to carry on with the business of improving the lives and opportunities that our beautifully blessed county offers through its bounty of natural resources.”

The committee hasn’t yet finalized the letter or delivered it to Bundy and it wasn’t immediately clear if the committee would follow through. Not all of the six committee members have signed the letter.

The group – led by area businessman Tim Smith, the vice chairman of the Harney County Republican Party, among others – intends to organize and unite the county around the issues Bundy has raised, several speakers said at the town hall meeting. Bundy, a small businessman from Arizona, is the son of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who led a standoff with federal authorities in 2014 over unpaid grazing fees.

More than 100 people attended the meeting, apparently all of them supporting the idea that local residents should be able to control federally owned public land. The burgeoning political movement could provide Bundy and the rest of the militants, who have so far refused to leave the refuge in spite of Sheriff Dave Ward’s offer to peacefully escort them out, an opportunity to stand down and still save face.

No one officially representing the protesters at the refuge spoke at the meeting. But various out-of-state groups who have come to Burns to support the occupation, including the “3% of Idaho,” attended the gathering.

A resolution drafted by the committee and read aloud to cheers and applause supports “the development of a plan to provide the expedient, systematic and harmonious transfer of all currently managed federal lands within Harney County to the jurisdiction of the people of Harney County.”

Rural Harney County found itself in the national spotlight after the re-sentencing of ranchers Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven Hammond, inspired protests and led to Bundy’s occupation of the federal bird sanctuary. The Hammonds were sent back to prison after a court ruled that they hadn’t served long enough sentences for setting fires that damaged federal land.

The draft letter to Bundy praises him for “shining a light on the Hammond case here in Harney County. Your actions have created a national focus on the Hammonds and other issues here and across the West that have created mutual distrust, anger and unrest between the people of the land and the federal government. We thank you for stirring us to action.”

But the draft letter goes on to tell Bundy that the committee members “were very upset that you chose to take the aggressive action of occupying the refuge and did it without our knowledge or any local approval, and in a fashion that has created huge distrust and loss of credibility of and for us as a group and as residents within the community.”

The draft continues: “We approved of most of your message but disapprove of your unilateral methods of occupation.”

“The committee members “were very upset that you chose to take the aggressive action of occupying the refuge and did it without our knowledge or any local approval, and in a fashion that has created huge distrust and loss of credibility of and for us as a group and as residents within the community.”
Yikes. The Committee of Safety, which was basically set up by Ammon’s fellow radicals for the purpose of this Hammand protest, thinks Ammon Bundy’s methods are too over the top. And it’s solution? Start a political movement to push the Bundy agenda in order to give Bundy space to save face while standing down. This is the plan by Harney Country GOP President Tim Smith, although it doesn’t sound like he’s got the rest of the Committee of Safety’s full support:


The committee hasn’t yet finalized the letter or delivered it to Bundy and it wasn’t immediately clear if the committee would follow through. Not all of the six committee members have signed the letter.

The group – led by area businessman Tim Smith, the vice chairman of the Harney County Republican Party, among others – intends to organize and unite the county around the issues Bundy has raised, several speakers said at the town hall meeting. Bundy, a small businessman from Arizona, is the son of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who led a standoff with federal authorities in 2014 over unpaid grazing fees.

It sure looks like Tim Smith has some more uniting to do. Which insn’t surprising given the nature and stated purpose of the of the group.

And then there’s the fact that as the above article notes, the Harney County Committee of Safety was formed last month after some of the militants arrive in the area to recruit supporters. And as the article below points out, those outside militants weren’t just trying to gather local supporters. They were there to stalk and intimidate federal employees too:

The Washington Post
The government closed its offices in Oregon days before the armed takeover due to fears of violence

By Lisa Rein
January 8, 2016

The federal government began shutting its offices in eastern Oregon days before the showdown with armed anti-government protesters began this week, because of mounting hostility and security threats, officials said Thursday.

With threats against individual employees and a campaign of intimidation by out-of-town ranchers who had been in the isolated area for weeks, federal officials at agencies from the U.S. Forest Service to the Bureau of Land Management started sending more than 150 people home as early as Dec. 30.

That was three days before a group calling itself Citizens for Constitutional Freedom holed up with guns inside a wildlife sanctuary in remote Harney County to protest the arson conviction of two local cattle ranchers who set fires to federal lands.

“A lot of the rhetoric was aimed at the federal government, and we just didn’t know what might happen,” said Randall Eardley, a spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management, which employs about 100 permanent and 20 seasonal or temporary workers in its offices just outside Burns, Ore., the county seat.

“It became a serious safety concern for the employees,” Eardley said. He and other federal officials said self-described militia groups showed up in the Burns area in early December, weeks after a federal judge resentenced local father-and-son ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond to five years in prison for arson.

The protesters, with harsh anti-government rhetoric and an aggressive social media campaign, began stalking some federal employees as they left work and leaving threatening messages on office phones, officials said. Some employees reported cars they did not recognize parking on the street outside their homes at night.

“One of the things they seemed to be doing was trying to drum up support for their cause from the community, and that includes a lot of federal employees,” Eardley said. “People were not providing the support some of them hoped for.”

The threats were reported to federal law enforcement authorities in the area who appear content right now to monitor the situation and wait out the protesters.

Local planning for the closures, in consultation with senior officials in Washington, D.C., started weeks ago, officials said. The Bureau of Land Management made the decision to close as early as Dec. 28, concluding that the environment around Burns was not safe for its employees, who issue permits to ranchers for grazing and other uses.

….

Yep, not long before the the “Harney County Safety Committee” was getting set up, militants that are now part of the Bundy Brigade standoff showed up in town and started stalking and threatening federal employees:


“It became a serious safety concern for the employees,” Eardley said. He and other federal officials said self-described militia groups showed up in the Burns area in early December, weeks after a federal judge resentenced local father-and-son ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond to five years in prison for arson.

The protesters, with harsh anti-government rhetoric and an aggressive social media campaign, began stalking some federal employees as they left work and leaving threatening messages on office phones, officials said. Some employees reported cars they did not recognize parking on the street outside their homes at night.

And although we haven’t heard of any direct threats against Sheriff Ward, let’s not forget that his wife was forced to leave the town over safety concerns after getting stalked and having her tires slashed and his parents have both been threatened.

So while it might seem kind of hard to imagine that the Bundy Brigade could be planning something as insane as charging local officials with treason and executing them, it’s a little harder to rule the idea out when you consider Jon Ritzheimer was publicly advocating doing that very plan to a US Senator just a few months ago and the currently occupied wildlife refuge was closed over fears of violence after this same group showed up in the area and started threatening federal employees.

The Pacific Patriot Network’s Heavily Armed Surprise De-Escalation Strategy
Given everything we’ve seen, it’s hard to be particularly optimistic about the possibility of sane resolution. Sane negotiations takes two to tango and the Bundy Brigade doesn’t do sanity well. But that doesn’t mean the situation is static. Because guess who just volunteered to act as a “peace-keeping force” in the area to ensure a Waco-style ending to the standoff doesn’t take place: the Pacific Patriot Network, a militia groups that claims to agree with Bundy’s goals, just but not his tactics. Sounds like a certain safety committee.

And according to the Pacific Patriot Network’s leader, Brandon Rapolla, his militia members are there to make sure neither side, the Bundy Brigade or the government, escalates the dispute and suddenly showing up with this declared intent of getting into the middle of this all is their plan for de-escalating the situation:

Reuters
Militia groups meet with leaders of Oregon occupation, pledge support

BURNS, Ore. | By Jonathan Allen

Fri Jan 8, 2016 7:20pm EST

Members of self-styled militia groups met on Friday with armed protesters occupying a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, pledging support for their cause, if not their methods, and offering to act as a peace-keeping force in the week-long standoff over land rights.

During the 30-minute meeting at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a leader of the occupation, Ammon Bundy, told about a dozen representatives of such groups as Pacific Patriots Network, Oath Keepers and III% that he had no immediate plans to abandon the siege.

“I was asked to do this by the Lord,” said Bundy, a Mormon, as some of the militia members nodded in understanding. “I did it how he told me to do it.”

Earlier on Friday the Pacific Patriots Network called on its members to establish a safety perimeter around the refuge in remote southeastern Oregon to prevent a “Waco-style situation” from unfolding.

In 1993 federal agents laid siege to a compound in Waco, Texas, being held by the Branch Davidians religious sect for 51 days before the standoff ended in a gun battle and fire. Four federal agents and more than 80 members of the group died, including 23 children.

The Pacific Patriots Network has previously said that while it agrees with Bundy’s land rights grievances, it does not support the occupation, a position leader Brandon Rapolla reiterated during the meeting.

Bundy thanked Rapolla and handed him a small roll of bills, which he said came from donations.

“We’re friends, but we’re operating separately,” Rapolla, a former Marine who helped defend the Bundys in 2014 in their standoff with the U.S. government at their Nevada ranch, told Reuters in an earlier interview.

The militia members are not joining the occupation, but are sleeping in their vehicles or in hotels in Burns, he said.

Rapolla said he had also taken sausage McMuffins to FBI agents who are stationed at nearby Burns Municipal Airport to monitor the occupation and had coffee with deputies from the county sheriff’s office on Thursday.

The meetings were friendly, he said, and he told them that they were there to make neither side escalates the dispute.

“That’s really the point of militias: it’s community involvement,” Rapolla said. “If something happens in your community, that’s what militias are for.”

Some two dozen armed protesters have occupied the headquarters of the refuge since last Saturday, marking the latest incident in the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, a decades-old conflict over federal control of land and resources in the U.S. West.

The move followed a demonstration in support of two local ranchers, Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven, who were returned to prison earlier this week for setting fires that spread to federal land.

A lawyer for Hammond family has said that the occupiers do not speak for the family.

Ammon Bundy met briefly with Harney County Sheriff David Ward on Thursday but rejected the lawman’s offer of safe passage out of the state to end the standoff.

During a press conference on Friday morning, Bundy seemed to soften his position, saying: “We will take that offer but not yet and we will go out of this county and out of this state as free men.”

Federal law enforcement agents and local police have so far kept away from the occupied site, maintaining no visible presence outside the park in a bid to avoid a violent confrontation.

“That’s really the point of militias: it’s community involvement….If something happens in your community, that’s what militias are for.”
Yes, according to Rapolla, the point of militias is community involvement. So, for instance, if a militia creates an armed standoff by taking over government property and begins making demands, you just call in another militia to intermediate between the government and occupying militia. It’s just helpful community involvement! What a fun vision for how government should operate.

So how exactly do the Pacific Patriot Network propose to act as middle-man in this situation? Well, we just found out: They offering to provide armed “security” for both the Bundy Brigade and government officials. They’re issuing “articles of resolution” to both sides too although no one else gets to see what they those articles are apparently.

So despite Steven and Dwight Hammond’s repeated rejections of Bundy’s offers of “protection” from the government, the Bundy Bridge feels like they can go ahead and use the Hammond’s case to occupy a wildlife refuge and make revolutionary demands and an armed standoff. And now we have the Pacific Patriot Network offering to protect both Bundy and the government from each other. Militia-style government sure is complicated! Once the militias succeeds and we basically don’t have a federal government anymore and militias are running every county, the Pacific Patriot will presumably mostly mediate standoffs between rival militias. And those rival militias will mediate back. And all will be well.

You might suspect that Ammon Bundy would be mighty pleased by this latest offer of support by the Pacific Patriot Network given that their offer is really just the latest attempt to normalize the idea that militias wielding vigilante justice is just a normal thing that happens. Oddly, though, Ammon claims to be highly displeased with the Pacific Patriot Network’s self-declared offer of protection. Why? Ammon is concerned that seeing so many heavily armed militia men at the wildlife refuge will convey the wrong message to the world. Yep, armed men would send the wrong message:

The Oregonian/OregonLive

Heavily armed ‘security detail’ shows up at Oregon standoff encampment

By Kelly House |

on January 09, 2016 at 2:00 PM, updated January 09, 2016 at 3:35 PM

Update at 2 p.m.: Armed members of the Pacific Patriot Network are leaving the occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Joseph Rice, a spokesman for the network, told reporters that his group presented occupation leader Ammon Bundy and other protesters with “articles of resolution.”

He didn’t say what was in the document, but noted that his group wants to move the sides to an end to the standoff.

Then network members got into most of the cars and trucks they’d parked nearby and started heading out of the reserve.

Rice didn’t address whether his group would return, saying only: “We are moving on to present them (the articles of resolution) to other government agencies.”

The network is maintaining a neutral stance in the dispute, he said.

Update at 1:45 p.m.: Todd MacFarlane, a Utah lawyer acting as a mediator, said occupation leader Ammon Bundy doesn’t want the armed visitors there.

Bundy’s message: “We don’t need that. We don’t want it and we’re asking you to leave,” MacFarlane told reporters at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

MacFarlane said he had just met with Bundy and other leaders of the occupation.

They’re “alarmed” by the arrival of Pacific Patriot Network members, some carrying rifles, and concerned about the perception they convey.

“This was the last thing in the world they wanted to see happen,” MacFarlane said.

Bundy didn’t request the presence of the network, he said, and has “tried to put out the word: ‘We don’t need you.'”

*****

12:30 p.m.:

BURNS — A week into their standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Ammon Bundy and his band of militants have given the place a new name and acquired a rifle-wielding “security detail.”

Members of the Pacific Patriot Network, a consortium of several groups from Oregon, Washington and Idaho, arrived mid-morning, carrying rifles and sidearms and clad in military attire and bulletproof vests.

Their leader, Brandon Curtiss, said the group came to “de-escalate” the situation by providing security for those inside and outside the compound. About a half-dozen rifles were visible among the two dozen new arrivals. They aren’t staying in the compound, Curtiss said, but are patrolling the perimeter of the reserve.

The ornate sign that used to greet visitors with “Welcome To Your National Wildlife Refuge” now advertises the headquarters of the “Harney County Resource Center” in white block letters over a blue background.

The new name gives credence to the protesters’ claim that the refuge and all on-site buildings, equipment and supplies now belong to the people of Harney County. It also hints at their intent to stay here for the long haul.

LaVoy Finicum, one of the group’s most vocal members, said the Bundy crew appreciates the Pacific Patriot Network’s help, but “we want the long guns put away.” Bundy didn’t appear at the daily morning news conference.

Finicum said the refuge occupiers are now taking up the cause of other area ranchers who have complaints against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. He wouldn’t name the ranchers, but said the militants plan to dismantle a fence that keeps one rancher’s cattle off some federal land.

It’s all part of an increasingly bizarre scene at the bird sanctuary 30 miles south of the county’s largest town, where a standoff that has often resembled a friendly bonfire party is beginning to look more like an armed occupation.

….

So far, law enforcement officers have made no attempt to force him out, although Bundy and the group have a standing offer from Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward to avoid arrest if they leave peacefully. It’s unclear whether that offer comes with a deadline.

Other than the presence of the new visitors, the refuge headquarters remained much the same as it has throughout the week: Power remains on in the buildings, militants and local residents can travel back and forth to town freely and no roadblocks exist on the way to the refuge.

Meanwhile, the new sign at the refuge seems to indicate that the militants are digging their heels in deeper. The sign comes with a fresh moniker for the group members, who now call themselves Citizens for Constitutional Freedom. Their ranks appear to have grown beyond the core 20 to 25 protesters, but it’s impossible to say by how many because of all the comings and goings.

The Pacific Patriot Network members say they don’t support the refuge takeover, but agree with Bundy’s crusade against federal land managers.

On Saturday morning, Curtiss said he intends to meet with standoff organizers as well as local public officials and law enforcement to come to a “peaceful resolution.”

“We are not the militia, and we are not a militia,” he said, adding that he “they’re here for everybody’s safety, on both sides.”

Law enforcement authorities including the FBI and sheriff’s deputies from across the state have converted the Burns school district headquarters into a makeshift command post with around-the-clock security. However, they have no evident presence in or around the refuge.

On Saturday, militants openly drove government-owned vehicles and heavy equipment around the compound, proclaiming that the trucks and backhoes now belong to the local community. At the same time, they limited access to the refuge buildings, arguing that letting reporters and photographers inside would pose a safety hazard.

Meanwhile, members of the Pacific Patriot Network guarded the refuge entrance with guns in their hands and masks concealing their faces.

“No comment,” one of them responded when asked what kind of gun he was carrying.

“Meanwhile, members of the Pacific Patriot Network guarded the refuge entrance with guns in their hands and masks concealing their faces.”
Wow, so the Pacific Patriot Network’s heavily armed members are were guarding the refuge earlier Saturday as part of their “de-escalation” attempts, but they left later in the afternoon following Ammon Bundy’s “alarm” over having heavily armed men at the refuge. We even have LaVoy Finicum, who was interviewed by NBC sitting outside, covered in a tarp, with his rifle in lap (and threatening to shoot any federal officials who tried to arrest him) telling reporting that the Bundy crew appreciates the Pacific Patriot Network’s help, but “we want the long guns put away.”

At the same time, the leader of this particular Pacific Patriot Network group, Brandon Curtiss, made of point of telling reporters that “we are not the militia, and we are not a militia…they’re here for everybody’s safety, on both sides,” which is strangely at odds with what the head Pacific Patriot Networks, Brandon Rapolla, said about the point of militias being “community involvement”. But given the general detachement from reality we’ve seen throughout this entire psychodrama we probably shouldn’t be surprised by any of this.

Veterans on Patrol carry out mental health intervention and meet Blaine Cooper’s fist as charges of fraud fly
Sadly, about the only thing that would be surprising at this point is if this entire mess really can be resolved without some sort of bloodshed given the clear determination by the Bundy Brigade to martyr themselves one way or another (note Ammon’s references to God telling him to do all this). Well, ok, without serious bloodshed. It turns out there’s already been bloodshed. But it wasn’t from a gun. It was from Blaine Cooper’s fist following another attempt at “de-escalation” when Lewis Arthur, who describes himself as an anti-violence patriot and head of the Veterans on Patrol activist group, made his way there to “de-escalate”. As the article below describes it, Lewis and two friends approached the refuge with the mission of extracting Ryan Payne, who they say is a suicidal veteran prone to violence under stress (the Bundy Brigade had better hope he’s wrong!) and one of three ended up getting sucker punched by Blaine Cooper. It wasn’t the most effective “de-escalation” attempt.

At the same time, the article notes that John Hildinger, another well-known figure in the ‘Patriot’ movement, says he’s received all sorts of damaging information about some of the main figures in the Bundy Brigade. Hildinger is now publicly charging Blaine Cooper with being a federal informant and pleaded with Jon Ritzheimer, who actually did make a video suggesting a willing to die in a gun battle with the government, to watch out for Blaine Cooper who was going to end up getting Ritzheimer killed. So in addition to the Pacific Patriot Network coming in to “de-escalate” the standoff between the Bundy Brigade and the government, we now have outside members of ‘Patriot’ movement attempting to “de-escalate” the Bundy Brigade’s own sense of martyrdom with charges of mental instability and fraud:

Raw Story
Oregon militants brawl as friends beg them to go home: ‘You’re surrounded by informants’

Travis Gettys

08 Jan 2016 at 09:53 ET

Rumors and harsh facts arriving from outside the grounds of an Oregon nature preserve appear to be roiling the armed militants who have taken over a federal building in hopes of sparking an armed confrontation with government agents.

At least one of the militants, Joe “Capt. O” Oshaugnessy, left the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge amid drinking claims after arguing with participants over bringing their wives and children to the standoff, and another — Brian “Booda” Cavalier — left the compound after news reports revealed he had lied about serving in the military.

A former compatriot-turned-opponent claims one of the most prominent militants, Blaine Cooper, sucker-punched one of his friends — sending the counter-protester to the hospital with a concussion and serious facial injuries.

Lewis Arthur, who describes himself as an anti-violence patriot and head of the Veterans on Patrol activist group, said he arrived Wednesday with three other men to remove a “radicalized” and “suicidal” veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has a tendency toward violence when he’s placed under stress.

“We came up here to de-escalate the situation and to convince someone that having the federal government killing you is not going to make you a martyr, and the majority of the ‘patriots’ are pounding on their keyboards — they’re not going to rise up,” Arthur said in a video posted Thursday evening on Facebook.

Arthur said the 36-year-old Cooper, a former friend, attacked a member of his three-man crew during an argument over their mission to remove women, children and Ryan Payne — a U.S. Army veteran who has bragged about setting up sniper teams to target federal agents during the 2014 standoff at Bundy ranch.

“(Payne) made it very clear out there that he wanted the federal government to go and take him out,” Arthur said. “I had to come up here because I know what he wants.”

However, Cooper and other militants say Arthur, who set up a camp across the road from the nature preserve, initiated the fight by assaulting a guard and trying to enter the compound.

Jon Ritzheimer, the Arizona militiaman known for organizing anti-Muslim rallies, disputed that Payne hoped to become a martyr to the “patriot” cause and said Arthur was merely seeking “a couple of seconds of fame.”

John Hildinger, who was arrested on a Maryland firearms charge on his way to the anti-Obama “Operation American Spring” rally in 2013 and is well-known in the “patriot” movement, said he had been receiving damaging information about Cooper, Payne and Brian “Booda” Cavalier — all of whom he described as loose cannons — from multiple sources.

The 57-year-old Texan, who is not at the Oregon standoff, said in a pair of videos that he supported the cause — but he disagreed with their strategy and the leaders the militants had chosen.

He said Cavalier was a “mean motherf*cker” with multiple drunken driving convictions, and he said the Arizona tattoo artist had insinuated himself with the Bundy family and “scared off” anyone who tried to get close to them.

“You never served in the military and you said you did,” Hildinger said. “When you were called on it, you said, ‘I’m sorry they said that,’ and when someone stood up and said, ‘No no no, sir — we’re accusing you of stolen valor,’ you said, ‘You’ve got your job to do and I’ve got mine.’ Lying is not a job, sir — so you’re squashed. I’m glad I don’t know you.”

Hildinger said Payne was lying about serving as an Army Ranger and had three sealed criminal charges against him, and he cautioned the militants to stay away from him.

“You’re a liar, sir — and I have a special message,” Hildinger said menacingly. “Jay LeDuc says, ‘How’s that patch working out for you now, bitch?”

But he saved his harshest criticism for Cooper — who he accused of being a federal informant who got border militiaman Kevin “KC” Massey <a href="http://www.rawstory.com/2014/10/border-militias-commanding-officer-turns-out-to-be-a-felon-arrested-on-gun-charge/”>arrested on firearms charges.

“KC Massey is locked up, he’s still got 41 months to go, Blaine — and I have no doubt that it was your mouth that put him there,” Hildinger said. “I don’t know what KC thinks, but I’m sure that he hopes you live forever.”

Hildinger said Cooper, whose real name is Stanley Blaine Hicks, had amassed 16 felonies under his birth name and another felony under his chosen name — which is the name of Jesse Ventura’s character in the 1987 movie “Predator.”

Those include multiple counts of assault — both with and without a deadly weapon — and making threats, along with several alcohol- and traffic-related offenses, and Hildinger accused Cooper of stealing thousands of dollars of photography equipment from the border militia’s Camp Lone Star.

“Everybody’s got a past, but goddamn, boy — you’re a habitual criminal,” Hildinger said.

Hildinger said Cooper had failed to correct the inaccurate perception that he was a U.S. Marine veteran.

“F*ck you,” Hildinger said. “Hear me, Blaine — you’re a paid informant. You have no visible means of employment. You support a family, a house and you travel the country.”

He said Arthur and his friends had traveled from Arizona to collect a homeless veteran that Cooper and others intended to use to spark a violent confrontation with federal authorities.

“Blaine Cooper, you’re not smart enough to be an op,” Hildinger said. “You’re a paid informant — you’re there to get people killed.”

Hildinger urged Ritzheimer, who he considers a “badass Marine,” to cut ties with Cooper before he got them both in trouble or even killed.

“Jon has a family, a younger wife a little baby,” he said. “They were crying yesterday and they were talking to me about you, brother, but said you wouldn’t listen, you wouldn’t come home. You’re surrounded by informants.”

Well, the solidarity of the Bundy Brigade is certainly getting tested. Not only have they largely failed to attract direct support from other militia groups, but it appears that some members of the ‘Patriot’ movement are so sick of their tactics that they’re now publicly dishing out the dirt on all these guys and leveling charges of some of them being a paid informants and others being just psychologically unstable and suicideal. And to add to the layers of weirdness, we find Jon Ritzheimer defending Ryan Payne from the Arthur Lewis’s assertions that Payne is suicidal with an eye on martyrdom:


Jon Ritzheimer, the Arizona militiaman known for organizing anti-Muslim rallies, disputed that Payne hoped to become a martyr to the “patriot” cause and said Arthur was merely seeking “a couple of seconds of fame.”

One again, Jon Ritzheimer is the guy that made the “Daddy swore an oath” video to his kids where he explained that he’s willing to die for his cause. So when John Hildinger says:


“Jon has a family, a younger wife a little baby,” he said. “They were crying yesterday and they were talking to me about you, brother, but said you wouldn’t listen, you wouldn’t come home. You’re surrounded by informants.”

Hildinger’s presumably not kidding (Unless he is).

If it Doesn’t Make Sense it’s Because it Doesns’t Make Sense. And Stupid is as Stupid Does
So let’s summarize the situation:
– In early December, members of what is now the Bundy Brigade began showing up in Burns, Oregon, and started stalking and harassing federal employees.

– Soon afterwards, the “Harney County Committee of Safety” was established with six members, including Tim Smith, the president of the Harney County GOP, as well as member of the “III Percent”. The purpose of the committee was to file grievances against the government, and based on the composition of the membership (and timing of its formation), it’s very possible that the filing those grievances is a prelude to the formation of a “citizen’s grand jury”, a “sovereign citizen”-style concept that allows for goverment officials to be charged with reason and hung (if you live in Arizona and follow the local politics, this should sound familiar).

– The Harney County Committee of Safety recently issued a letter pushed by Harney County GOP President Tim Smith that Ammon Bunyd be praised for his efforts but not his methods and that starting a political movement to push is cause is a way to allow the Bundy Brigade to stand down while saving face.

– Now that the wildlife refuge is occupied and the Bundy Brigade’s demands have been made, we have the Pacific Patriot Network offering to step in and protect both the Bundy Brigade and the government from each other.

– At the same time, Arthur Lewis of “Veterans on Patrol” and John Hildinger, a well known ‘Patriot’, are both questioning either the sanity of integrity of key Bundy Brigade members. Sucker punches transpired.

– Saturday, the Pacific Patriot Network shows up at the refuge to demonstrate its methods of “de-escalation”, which involves having heavily armed members guard the refuge entrance and issuing “orders of resolution” to both Bundy and the government.

– Finally, and hilariously but also relievingly, Ammon Bundy asks the Pacific Patriots to leave, saying their armed presence sends the world the wrong message.

It’s kind of a hard situation to dissect since there’s almost nothing coherent about it. But that’s also a pretty good way to summarize it: an incoherent mess created by people that clearly want what do amounts to a far-right political revolution, but don’t want to actually declare it as such. It’s like trying to pull off a “soft coup” via the simultaneous threats of violence and pleas for non-violence. Revolution via projected doublethink. It certainly hasn’t worked thus far in terms of rallying broader public to the cause since even the supporters who were at the Bundy Ranch standoff aren’t fully behind them, but Ammon Bundy continues to pledge to stay for years until his soft coup demands are met. Plus we have folks like Jon Ritzheimer making “I’m ready to die” videos and the Veterans for Non-Violence trying to extract Ryan Payne over fears that he has similar goals. And that all suggests that the Bundy Brigade really does see ending this standoff in a violent fight with the government as a totally acceptable outcome even if they don’t win over more than their core audience.

Of course, we can’t forget that the charges that some of these guys are federal agents could be true. Who knows what’s going on.

It’s not a self-fulfilling prophecy (that’s doomed). It’s also Manifest Destiny (that’s doomed). It’s also planning on killing people and die in a blaze of glory (of doom).
Part of what this whole situation so tragic is the parallel it has with another phenomena that has been rocking the US in recent years and really is getting: suicidal people just deciding to kill a bunch of people and go out “in a blaze of glory”. For a variety of reason, more and more people in the US seem to have decided that ending their life violently, often killing complete strangers in the process, is a really cool way to die. Sure, the Bundy Brigade’s mouths keep saying that they don’t want to die in a blaze of glory, but their hands clutched to their guns say otherwise as do their mouths when they say they’ll shoot anyone that tries to arrest them. And there’s clearly a political dimension to all of this as the case with the suicidal mass killers who target the government in their final violent act they’ve chosen to end their life. So we really need to ask ourselves if we’re seeing a sort of slow-motion copy-cat group version of that same “mass killer targets government” phenomena that’s sweeping the US: Cliven Bundy’s sons and a bunch of their buddies have hit the point in life where they don’t care what happens and are will to kill random federal employees in order to end their life in a blaze of glory. It sure looks like that might be what we’re dealing with here. Or maybe they just feel confident there’s almost nothing they can do that will get them shot because why would they fear it?

With all that in mind, you have to wonder what the best non-violent ways are for dealing with the situation. It’s a rather horrible situation because even if they did have legitimate grievances, you can’t establish armed standoffs as a tolerable method of addressing your government. They basically picked one of the worst means possible to catalyze political change. And a multi-year long standoff is highly problematic for a variety of reasons. And the longer this goes on, the greater the legal charges are inevitably going to be, and they no doubt realize that which is only going to make them more willing to die in a blaze of glory.

So let’s hope the rest of the ‘Patriot’ movement, the non-suicidal component, can put their heads together and figure out a vision for the Bundy Brigade’s future that simultaneously doesn’t involve the rest of the US capitulating to their demands of the Bundy Revolution but also doesn’t include dying in a blaze of glory. Because they need help. And if they can’t come up with anything, let’s hope the government can end it without bloodshed (ok, more bloodshed) because bloodshed is exactly what suicidal individuals who want to go out in a blaze of glory desperately want.

What’s a form of conflict resolution that’s the kind of behavior we’d like others, including other societies, to copy-cat? Humans are clearly copy-cat-ish in nature and the Bundy Brigade, like many of those before them who planned on ending their lives with an act of mass violence, would like to see copy-cats following their example. And the Bundy Brigade really wants copy-cats since they clearly want to spark a nationwide revolution. But the state and federal employees who are harassed, stalked, and might be killed by a Bundy Brigade with an itchy trigger finger (and could be hung if the Bundy Revolution succeeds) certainly aren’t going to be interested in more copy-cats of this nature. And neither should anyone else who doesn’t agree with the idea that you should feel free to engage in arm standoffs to settle political disputes. That attitude is just really, really unhelpful. Especially in a democracy.

As an example of how unhelpful the Bundy philosophy is, the whole Bundy Brigade stunt at the refuge probably made it more difficult for the politicians at the state or federal level to address any aspects of the Steven and Dwight Hammond case if there really is something unfair about their sentence. Any potential change in laws or policy now get tainted with the idea of validating armed standoffs as a means of political wrangling. And if the Hammonds do have a valid case for changing their sentence, a legal victory for them now gets tainted with the idea that it rewards arm standoffs as a legal negotiating tactic. It’s no wonder they continue to not support the Bundy Circus. Their case has taken on a tragic third-party context that they totally didn’t ask for and now the crew that created legal havoc for the Hammonds is trying to overthrow the political and legal system.

Ironically, the most help the Bundy Brigade has done for the Hammonds is increase sympathy for them. Not by bringing attention to them but by showing up and being so unhelpful in such a high-profile way. It’s like a militia Adam Sandler movie that’s really happening and actually kind of dangerous.

But at least they don’t appear to be getting much traction outside with the public because that would be bone chilling. One but when you factor in things like the details of Ammon’s Bundy demands to turn over federal land the whole things would be skewered even worse than it already has been once since the proposal isn’t to sell the federal land off to with open bidding options to everyone in the US or even everyone in the state. It’s to give it back to the people that have ‘Ancestral Rights’ to the land, and that primarily includes people Cliven Bundy. And not many more. Just a relative handful of families with the oldest land rights get to claim that federal land. That’s going to be really popular. And it brings up the obvious question of the Native American lands rights that were routinely ignored, which, in the case of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, is the Paiute Indians who owned the land 15,000 years. And when asked about those ‘Ancestral Rights’ of the Paiute Indians, Ammon Bundy said he thought the Paiutes were also abused by the federal government and he hoped they would be free of the federal government too.

So it’s worth noting that if we’re to look at the people who would actually hold the ‘Ancestral Rights’ to the actual Bundy clan’s ranch back in Nevada, it the Moapa and Paiute tribes by a federal treaty. And that means the Bundy clan’s ranch is in violation of a federal treaty that isn’t getting enforced. And since it’s a federal treaty, which Ammon Bundy doesn’t think should apply anyway except in his very strict ‘sovereign citizen’-ish way, it’s unclear how he would interpret the Paiute’s claim the the wildlife refuge land but since Ammon Bundy still demands that the Paiutes’ Milheur Wildlife Refuge land be opened for logging, ranching, mining and recreation, it’s very likely that Ammon Bundy has an idea for how to handle the claims of the Paiute, Moapa, or any other Native American tribes that want to assert their ancestral rights. It’s a plan that’s uniquely American: Manifesty Destiny:

Quartz
The Oregon militia standoff is a mess of America’s own making

Jake Flanagin
January 06, 2016

A standoff between self-styled American militiamen and local law enforcement near the town of Burns, Oregon, has entered its fifth day. On Jan. 2, armed protesters occupied the federal park headquarters in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and informed local officials they would not be moving anytime soon.

While currently peaceful, the gun-toting men and women say they were inspired by the prosecution of two area ranchers who set fires that spread onto federally owned land. The charges against Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond appear to have been merely a pretext, however. The group is spearheaded by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, sons of infamous Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who made headlines of his own two years ago. Bundy Sr. executed a similar standoff in April 2014 after federal government officials attempted to remove some of his cattle from federally owned land. The protesters seem to no longer be motivated by the welfare of the convicted ranchers (who, it’s worth noting, may have set fire to federal land in order to cover up poaching).

Indeed, in a phone interview conducted by The Oregonian, the Bundys mentioned the Hammonds only once. And in addition to their demand that the ranchers be released from federal custody, they called on the government to turn over control of the Malheur National Forest. “We’re planning on staying here for years,” Ammon Bundy said. “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.”

These gun-toting ranchers are an outgrowth of something quite insidious—and uniquely American. It’s easy to dismiss these guys as outliers, a group of crazed, Second Amendment fanatics run amok in a rural area of the Pacific Northwest. But it’s also important to understand what underpins the Bundy family’s antics. Because these gun-toting ranchers are an outgrowth of something quite insidious—and uniquely American.

Manifest destiny, for those unfamiliar with term (i.e., not educated at a US high school), is the philosophical concept that inspired America’s early territorial growth in the 19th century. Employed as a cultural justification for the westward expansion of the United States, manifest destiny held that the American people possessed an innate, special (often described as divinely ordained) set of virtues that entitled them to the land between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It’s what drove settlers down the Oregon Trail, secured the Mexican Cession, and brought about the incorporation of Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

At the time, people were intoxicated with the idea of continentalism. But the reality was far from romantic. The land gobbled up by continentalist settlers wasn’t unoccupied, after all, forever intertwining the grand destiny of white America with the terrible fate of the American Indian.

It is this same sense of noxious entitlement that lives on in Cliven Bundy, and in the countless other anti-government elements advocating against government land-ownership in the American West.

Land rights are complex, as are the rules that govern what is considered public and private land. Some of these rules can and should be interrogated. The federal government owns an absurd amount of territory, some of which could surely be put to use benefitting struggling agricultural outfits.

[see map of federal land]
But a substantial amount of federal land ownership is essential to maintaining what’s left of this country’s ecological integrity—something we nearly destroyed in our slash-and-burn, 19th-century westward foray. And should federal ownership be surrendered (an extreme hypothetical), what’s to stop characters like the Bundy clan from seeking more? What’s to stop them, for example, from demanding the rights to federally protected Native land?

At the end of the day, the Bundys seem to care less about the preservation of constitutional rights and more about the preservation of their own right to use land, wherever and however they might wish. It’s about money and profits and feeling entitled to resources in a land that was never theirs to begin with. For all his “pioneer mentality,” Cliven Bundy is a hardly a struggling frontiersman. These men are driven by the same greed and narcissism that inspired the original seizure of Native American land and usurpation of non-American sovereignty.

Dismiss them as one-offs at your own peril.

….

“At the time, people were intoxicated with the idea of continentalism. But the reality was far from romantic. The land gobbled up by continentalist settlers wasn’t unoccupied, after all, forever intertwining the grand destiny of white America with the terrible fate of the American Indian.”

Yep, there’s absolutly no getting around the fact that the modern US was accomplished by a giant land grab (and Native American genocide), and it’s hard to avoid seeing the parallels between Ammon Bundy’s land grab ambitions (recall that God told Ammon to do all this) and the spirit of Manifest Destiny. It was that general “I have a lot of guns and God consents with me using them to do a big land grab (and mass extermination) because my way of government is divinely inspired” attitude that made Manifest Destiny a self-fullfilling prophecy and the modern US possible. There’s no getting around that. And now we’re seeing the Bundy Brigade test the waters to see if a micro-version of Manifest Destiny is possible.

How does this get resolved? Well, on a metaphorical level, the US sort of deserves Ammon Bundy as a lesson in Native American experience and what it’s like when a bunch of crazy guys just show up and take stuff with guns. But on reality level, Ammon’s antics and general goals and messages are so toxic they undermine democracy if validated. His ideas harm society. It’s sort of impressive for a man who claims to talk to God. It’s like super-villain powers just through bad ideas that simultaneously promote violence as a means of conflict resolution while undermining democracy. And Ammon has God’s word (and a bad case of affluenza) guiding him into this seemingly suicidal lunge towards his Manifest Destiny of self-declared Constitutional martyrdom by leading a couple dozen men to commit a stupid act that even the Committee of Safety can’t even fully back in order to promote a set of bad ideas. He also compared himself to George Washington on Monday in an interview with Jacobin when he speculated that the government was waiting so long because it has plans to wipe them all out.

Y’All Qaeda indeed (Except for the undercover federal agents). They may not be quite as bat shit insane as al Qaeda but they’re still peddling a violent, religiously mandated, non-viable political and economic
worldview that may be get widely mocked in pop culture, but does have quite a few adherents in the lands with the mos federal land. And that’s why we can’t forget that, for a few months in 2014, Fox News and the right-wing radio fell in love with Cliven Bundy before his comments about “the Negro”. And we already know the Koch brothers helped bankroll that positive media coverage since it promotes their land privatization agenda. So while Ammon Bundy’s may have sort of jumped the shark with his stunt this time and just needs to find a “face saving” exit to claim victory without actually accomplishing anything, that also means this is almost certainly not going to be the last time he tries a stunt like this.

So while we’ll likely see the feds find a non-violence solution this latest iteration of the Bundy Rebellion, part of the long-term solution involve a lot more than just dealing with the Bundy clan’s increasingly reckless shenanigans. It involves reducing the appeal of that general attitude regarding the proper role of federal government. That might involve turning over some of the land, but if there’s one thing that could really help lead us towards us solution it would be to accept the reality that beef is wildly unaffordable given it’s greenhouse gas emission, water consumption, and and other environmental/pollution/anti-biotics/super-bugs/other health/animal welfare mega-concerns, there’s just no reason at all for anyone to be eating any beef. If it’s low resource/pollution fake beef or or real meat you grow in a lab, have a blast. But beef as a frequently eaten source of protein should really be phased out ASAP because it’s easily the most resource intensive of all mainstream meats, and doing so really should involve a federal program that provides a variety of stimulus measures for community impact by a shift away from beef. Ditto for other grazing creatures. And logging and mining. Mining is filthy and we should really leave something for Bambi’s endangered forest brethren. Transitioning to an economy that isn’t based on harvesting or trashing large swatches of the ecosystem should be a goal of any future economy. It’s just cleaner and healthier and makes more sense. And that points towards one long-term general approach society can use for dealing with the appeal that exists out there for the ideas Ammon Bundy is normally peddling because this fixation on dismantling the federal government is one of those doomsday policies solutions that can simultaneously have appeal to people feeling despair and to folks like the Kochs.

So the longer this goes, the likelier we return to the days when Fox is swooning over a Bundy rebellion. And there’s a long-term solution recurrent pushes angry ranchers and billionaire backers of bizarre and useless theories. At least it’s part of a long-term solution. It this solution only work at warding off things like the Bundy Brigade appealing to people if it’s used correctly: the long-term solution is to make a Good Big Government. And then use it in non-stupid or corrupt ways. Or not very much. A stronger, more generous social safety net that the federal government should have been provided decades ago when it was possible.

Expand social security and give universal health coverage. Free college. And tax the hell out of the Donald Trumps and Koch brothers of the world and Wall Street to finance a safety-net that guarantees a healthy purchasing power for everyone. Poverty hurts. A federal government is really good at helping with that. Potentially. it has to be allowed to become good at it. If that federal system of future that we could have probably put in place decades ago but chose not to due to an anti-government hysteria ever actually gets put into place, the array of services that can be made universally available affordable only with the help of the a functional federal government is a pretty strong selling point for a sane approach of government and policy. And one of the lessons throughout the 20th and 21st centuries is that the federal government is capable of doing immense good but not if it’s not allowed to. But it’s potentially quite difficult to do it right even when policy-makers are allowed to try because real-world challenges and big bureaucracies are difficult to align. But that’s all just a reason to try harder to make government work. We need a government that works, and at this point almost all Americans (and everyone else) really do need the government programs that federal government provides that almost certainly wouldn’t be part of a Bundy (or Koch/Fox) world if they really had their revolutions.

And not only would a federal government that doesn’t let anyone slip through the cracks help fight the appeal of the Bundy/Koch philosophy, it would also help prevent crazy people from doing crazy things in general by preventing them from going crazy in the first by removing stress. Or de-stressing them if they’re kind of nuts in general. Stressed out people do irrational things, and while Ammon Bundy himself doesn’t quite fit the profile of someone that’s about to snap from too much stress, some in his group may not be entirely ‘there’ if the various accusation we saw above have any merit. Just imagine how much a nice safety-net would assist in the prevention of such an individual feeling pissed enough to join the anti-government standoff in the first place. Would you be more or less likely to join a seemingly suicidal standoff if you had awesome federal government services? Seems like less likely. For a country like the US that could be a pretty useful side-effect of strong, generous government services and benefits. Fewer violent incidents because people aren’t all stressed out about paying for food and rent and and don’t end up joining the militia in their to-the-death standoff. Fewer other crazy acts too. It’s just less likely that people flip out and kill a bunch of people, or or join the militia to-the-death showdown when you have awesome public services.

So let’s keep in mind that Big Government, as long as its costs to benefit ratio is decent, really is probably the best long-term antidote for appeal of the Bundy-style political arguments against the federal government that delivers things like social security. And a long-term strategy is desired in this area, because even if Ammon Bundy’s antics didn’t like a fire this time they will be back. Maybe Ammon will pop up again or his dad or another brother will lead a different standoff. But possibility of the Kochs resuming thir support for the kind of “activism” can’t be dismissed. They did it before and it’s so useful for their interests. Good Big Government really is one of the best solutions for a ton of different tasks. Preemptively quelling Bundy standoff by draining them of interest is just one of many of Good Big Government’s useful aspects.

Good Big Goverment is a solution to a wide variety of problems (that’s why it’s a must these days compared to the alternatives), but it’s also an ironic solution in this case problem of the Bundy Brigade’s standoff. Normally Good Big Government is just generically useful and not ironic. It’s something that’s easy to forget, and if you forget it entirely, you might join the militia and end up in a showdown. Don’t do that.

Good Big Government is just generically useful. Repeat as needed.

Discussion

42 comments for “Extremism in the Defense of Stupidity is a Vice, Part 3: The Bundy Brigade’s Doomed Manifest Destiny”

  1. Uh oh. So first we have outside militia groups, the Pacific Patriot Network and the “III Percent”, declare that they’re heading to the standoff to “de-escalate” the situation by ensuring neither side, the government nor the Bundy Brigade, gets hurt. And their plan for doing this was to show up with rifles and guard the entrance. Well, Ammon Bundy asked the Pacific Patriots to leave, and they said they would. But the III Percent just made it clear, they’re not leaving until the standoff is over. Yes, we now have the original Bundy Brigade who won’t leave until their demands are met and another new groups of militias who won’t leave until the Bundy Brigade leaves.

    So will these new groups new their own militias to protect them? Well, hopefully not because, as both the Pacific Patriots and the III Percenters explain it, the whole reason they, themselves, showed up with guns wasn’t to use them against the government or the Bundy crew. The guns are just for their own personal security. So they were pledging to “keep the peace”, but not via the implicit threat of violent that comes with all the guns. The peace was apparently going to be kept via their calming presence alone. The security detail was just for their personal protection so no one should be alarmed. Somehow it doesn’t seem like the situation is getting adequately de-escalated:

    The Guardian
    Oregon standoff tension mounts as so-called ‘3%’ groups refuse to leave

    * Heavily armed groups say they want to stop violence breaking out
    * Leader of 3% of Idaho made headlines last year for anti-Islam protests

    Sam Levin in Burns, Oregon

    Sunday 10 January 2016 17.22 EST

    The heavily armed rightwing groups who descended on rural Harney County in eastern Oregon on Saturday – to protect the peace, they said – made clear they had no intention of leaving, as the occupation of the Malheur national wildlife refuge entered its second week.

    Observers, meanwhile, noted that many such groups were extremist entities with histories of promoting bigotry, racism and violence.

    On Saturday, leaders of the militia group, which began its occupation a week previously, said the outside groups were unwelcome and unnecessary.

    A day later, the new militias in town said they would stay until the occupation ended, raising further concerns about the potential for violence.

    The leaders of the outside groups insist that they aim to act as mediators between the occupiers of the federal buildings, law enforcement and local residents – and say they will provide protection and security for all. They say they do not endorse the armed takeover of the refuge, by occupation leader Ammon Bundy, and want to ensure it does not end with a deadly shootout.

    “We are hopeful for a resolution quickly – one that is mutually beneficial for all parties involved,” Brandon Curtiss, president of a group called 3% of Idaho, told the Guardian on Sunday morning. “We are trying to carry a role as a neutral party and a buffer zone.”

    The group 3% of Idaho is one of several loosely organized armed bands with a growing presence at the refuge and in Burns, the closest town. Curtiss, who lives in Boise, Idaho, made headlines last year for his role in anti-Islam protests against that state’s resettlement program for Muslim refugees from Syria.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that tracks hate groups, has labeled Curtiss and his Idaho group anti-government extremists. So-called “three percenter” groups across the country have faced criticisms for armed protests that advocate positions against immigrants, refugees and minorities.

    The “three percenter” moniker alludes to the small percentage of colonials such groups claim fought in the American revolutionary war. About 376,000 people fought for the American army and militias, or about 15% of the 13 colonies’ 2.5 million people, although the standing size of forces was small at any given time.

    Anti-government militia groups have grown by one-third in the last year, according to the SPLC.

    Curtiss is also a co-founder of the Pacific Patriots Network, another group now stationed in Burns that has a history of controversial armed protests.

    Given the heavy presence of firearms in Burns and at the wildlife refuge, many onlookers and reporters have labeled the groups as “militias”. Leaders of the groups said that although they do some military-style training and carry guns, they do not use the militia label.

    BJ Soper, from a group calling itself the Central Oregon Constitutional Guard, told residents in Burns at a community meeting on Friday night he was only trying to help keep the peace.

    “When you classify us as militia,” he said, “well, I’m no different than you. I’m an American.”

    He added: “You don’t have to be afraid of us … we’re your neighbors.”

    At the refuge on Saturday, a spokesmen for the Bundy militia publicly criticized the Pacific Patriots Network for bringing more “long guns” – rifles – to the occupation. But leaders of the outside groups said they were armed for their own protection and did not want to antagonize anyone.

    “We have security teams,” Curtiss told the Guardian. “Those are the guys that make sure we’re safe.”

    Since arriving in Burns, he said, “We’ve had threats on our lives as well as our families.” He added: “We’re more of a community awareness organization that stands up for people’s rights.”

    Joseph Oshaughnessy, with a group called the North American Coalition of Constitutional Militias, noted that he himself was not armed, but said he had brought armed men with him to keep everyone protected.

    “It’s just for security,” he said.

    The new armed groups on Saturday drove around the region, attempting to talk to law enforcement leaders. In the afternoon, some talked briefly with FBI officials stationed at Burns municipal airport. Later, they met with Harney County’s sheriff, Dave Ward, in heavy snow by the local courthouse.

    Ward has pleaded for the Bundy militia to end its occupation and has offered to peacefully escort its members out of the state. At his latest press conference, on Friday morning, Bundy said he was not ready to accept the invitation.

    Although Bundy and other prominent militia members at the refuge have made clear they do not want the Pacific Patriots Network and other unaffiliated armed militia around, some of the occupiers said they welcomed the men and their firearms.

    “The leaders of the outside groups insist that they aim to act as mediators between the occupiers of the federal buildings, law enforcement and local residents – and say they will provide protection and security for all.” Also, “We’re more of a community awareness organization that stands up for people’s rights.”:

    The leaders of the outside groups insist that they aim to act as mediators between the occupiers of the federal buildings, law enforcement and local residents – and say they will provide protection and security for all. They say they do not endorse the armed takeover of the refuge, by occupation leader Ammon Bundy, and want to ensure it does not end with a deadly shootout.

    At the refuge on Saturday, a spokesmen for the Bundy militia publicly criticized the Pacific Patriots Network for bringing more “long guns” – rifles – to the occupation. But leaders of the outside groups said they were armed for their own protection and did not want to antagonize anyone.

    “We have security teams,” Curtiss told the Guardian. “Those are the guys that make sure we’re safe.”

    Since arriving in Burns, he said, “We’ve had threats on our lives as well as our families.” He added: “We’re more of a community awareness organization that stands up for people’s rights.”

    Joseph Oshaughnessy, with a group called the North American Coalition of Constitutional Militias, noted that he himself was not armed, but said he had brought armed men with him to keep everyone protected.

    “It’s just for security,” he said.

    They’re aren’t militias. They’re community awareness organizations. With heavily armed security details. They’re here to promote awareness and peace. And security.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 10, 2016, 10:13 pm
  2. With the Bundy Brigade yet to receive the violent confrontation with the government it clearly desires, they appear to be upping the ante: They just tore down a barbed wire fence so a local rancher’s cattle could pass through it and according to Ryan Payne, they plan similar actions in the future:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive
    Oregon standoff: Bundy, militants destroy fence at federal refuge

    By Luke Hammill
    on January 11, 2016 at 2:13 PM, updated January 11, 2016 at 4:39 PM

    BURNS — Militants presiding over an armed occupation of a federal bird sanctuary destroyed a portion of a fence Monday afternoon that they said was installed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – using the agency’s own equipment.

    The stunt was perhaps the militants’ boldest yet since overtaking the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge earlier this month. Arizona businessman Ammon Bundy and his band of protesters traveled about five miles south of refuge headquarters to a property where they said a local ranching family grazes cattle.

    Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, said the Fish and Wildlife Service used a $100,000 grant to install the fence last year, preventing the family’s 600 cattle from grazing on nearby public land.

    “This will help them out, being able to run their ranch like they have in the past,” Bundy said. The militants had permission from the family to destroy the fence, he added. “They actually showed us where they wanted it,” Bundy said.

    The militants removed barbed wire – Bundy with only his bare hands – and then used an excavator adorned with the Fish and Wildlife Service’s logo to pluck stakes out of the ground. The group included Bundy’s brother Ryan, Jon Ritzheimer, Ryan Payne, Blaine Cooper, Jason Patrick and Robert “LaVoy” Finicum.

    “That’s all that’s needed for cows to go through,” Finicum announced after the work was done. The militants removed about 25 or 30 yards of fence.

    The Fish and Wildlife Service condemned the militants’ actions in a written statement.

    “In the century of [the] Malheur National Wildlife Refuge’s existence, enormous effort has been displayed by partners, surrounding communities, ranchers and landowners to restore a devastated landscape,” the statement reads. “Removing fences, damaging any refuge property, or unauthorized use of equipment would be additional unlawful actions by the illegal occupiers. Any movement of cattle onto the refuge or other activities that are not specifically authorized by [the Fish and Wildlife Service] constitutes trespassing.

    “If they take down the fences, it hurts the refuge, but it also destroys the positive conservation impacts reaped from decades of direct collaboration and sweat equity paid by the Harney County (and surrounding) communities, ranchers, landowners, partners and friends.”

    The militants have advocated for the federal government to hand over public land in Harney County to local ranchers. The protesters destroyed the fence after Bundy announced in a morning press conference that they plan to continue the occupation until Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven, are free from federal prison.

    The Hammonds do not own the property where the militants destroyed the fence, Bundy said. It is not the same fence, Bundy said, that sparked a dispute between the Hammonds and the federal government in 1994.

    Bundy seemed confident that the group’s actions wouldn’t result in any immediate response from law enforcement officials, who have remained low-profile and have adopted a “wait-them-out” approach to the situation.

    “I don’t think they want to do anything,” Bundy said. “I think there’s a lot of good people in the federal government who feel the same way as us.”

    Payne said the militants plan similar actions in the future.

    “I don’t think they want to do anything…I think there’s a lot of good people in the federal government who feel the same way as us.”
    Yes, according to Ammon Bundy, the reason he and his merry militias haven’t yet been apprehended by law enforcement isn’t because authorities are trying to avoid a bloodbath. Not, it’s because the federal government is filled with people who “feel the same way as us”. If true it would be rather remarkable since it would mean these federal employees hate the government and view it at a tyrannical force which must be opposed now before freedom is lost forever. Although he may have been referring to elected federal employees. At least the elected GOP employees. There’s really no shortage of “the federal government is plotting to kill us all” sympathy for the Bundy Brigade’s worldview in that caucus. And when you consider all the prior GOP support for the original Bundy standoff, sure, there’s going some support for Ammon at the federal level. And then there’s elected state officials:

    Raw Story
    GOP lawmakers meet with Oregon militants against the advice of law enforcement officials

    Travis Gettys
    11 Jan 2016 at 08:29 ET

    At least six Republican lawmakers met — against the advice of law enforcement officials — with the armed militants gathered at an Oregon nature preserve.

    A seventh GOP lawmaker offered encouragement by phone to the men who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last weekend and are refusing to leave.

    Oregon state Rep. Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg) brought a group of out-of-state lawmakers to meet with Ammon Bundy and other armed men who are demanding the transfer of federally owned land to the control of Harney County, reported The Oregonian.

    The newspaper identified the out-of-state legislators as Reps. Graham Hunt and Matt Shea of Washington; Reps. Judy Boyle, Heather Scott and Sage Dixon of Idaho. State Rep. Michelle Fiore of Nevada took part in the meeting by telephone.

    Bundy helped set up the Harney County Committee of Safety — an unelected group of local residents who have issued demands to local, state and federal authorities — and an extralegal “common law grand jury” to indict uncooperative government officials.

    Heard said he led five other GOP lawmakers from Idaho, Washington and Nevada on a “fact-finding mission” Saturday at the wildlife refuge — where armed men associated with the Pacific Patriots Network and 3% Idaho militia groups have joined the occupation in recent days.

    “It’s refreshing to see a representative like Dallas Heard care and lean on the side of citizens, versus our federal government,” Fiore said (R-NV).

    Fiore — who has drawn attention with her controversial remarks about Muslims, firearms and cancer treatment — declined to offer specifics about her conversation with Bundy, the son of a Nevada rancher whose dispute with federal authorities provoked a previous armed standoff in 2014.

    “Everyone knows I’m a supporter of the Bundy family,” Fiore said. “Our relationship is pretty well documented.”

    Heard’s visit drew strong criticism from law enforcement officials, who asked the lawmakers to stay away from the nature preserve, and other Republicans.

    “(Heard) had called me and indicated he was heading that direction, and I indicated that was inappropriate,” said Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-OR). “I think it’s fair to say I was not enthusiastic about the idea.”

    Fiore expressed support for the militants and their demands, which are based on right-wing fringe interpretations of constitutional law.

    “We just need to get elected officials, from the sheriff’s office on up, protecting citizens,” Fiore said. “I stand for our citizens, and they need help from elected officials.”

    Members of the 3% Idaho group met for about a half hour with FBI agents at Burns Municipal Airport, and the militiamen gave authorities a list of demands that included an end to the standoff.

    Militia members then rode in a caravan of more than a dozen trucks to the Harney County Sheriff’s Office, where they issued the same demands to Sheriff David Ward — who has installed concrete barriers and other security measures outside the building following numerous death threats.

    A Harney County judge strongly criticized Heard — who he described as the most inexperienced lawmaker in Oregon — for meeting with the militants.

    “I find it really interesting that not only did law enforcement advise him not to go out there, [but] it seems to me that we now have a state representative who will not listen to local input,” said Judge Steven Grasty. “Isn’t that the same thing that our armed visitors are saying about the federal government? It’s the same thing.”

    Well, it may not be quite as much support from elected officials as Ammon’s dad got during his showdown, but getting a delegation of state representatives to show up, defying requests from law enforcement and the local elected officials to stay away, and having them say things like, “We just need to get elected officials, from the sheriff’s office on up, protecting citizens,” is better than nothing:


    Heard said he led five other GOP lawmakers from Idaho, Washington and Nevada on a “fact-finding mission” Saturday at the wildlife refuge — where armed men associated with the Pacific Patriots Network and 3% Idaho militia groups have joined the occupation in recent days.

    “It’s refreshing to see a representative like Dallas Heard care and lean on the side of citizens, versus our federal government,” Fiore said (R-NV).


    Fiore expressed support for the militants and their demands, which are based on right-wing fringe interpretations of constitutional law.

    “We just need to get elected officials, from the sheriff’s office on up, protecting citizens,” Fiore said. “I stand for our citizens, and they need help from elected officials.”

    “We just need to get elected officials, from the sheriff’s office on up, protecting citizens”
    Well, that’s at least one elected official, from a different state, that appears to support both Bundy’s cause and methods. But it’s still not like the GOP’s honeymoon with Cliven Bundy in 2014 when not only was was there a number were state officials like Michelle Fiore backing Cliven’s standoff, but elected federal officials like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul were also voicing support (this was, of course, before Cliven’s comments about “the Negro”).

    So the GOP’s love just isn’t quite there in this latest Bundy insurrection against the federal government. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t the potential for a more open embrace of the Bundy Brigade’s cause as the 2016 election unfolds. Why is that? Because it turns out one of presidential campaigns has someone there right now, offering to help mediate. And this person works for campaign that currently has a white supremacist organization robocalling in support of it and the campaign doesn’t even seem to care! So if ever there was a campaign that just might come around to embracing Ammon Bundy, it’s the campaign that’s not shy of its associations even more politically toxic movements (or just as toxic) and that campaign is, of course, the Trump campaign. Yes, the co-chairman of Donald Trump’s New Hampshire “Veterans for Trump”, Jerry DeLemus, is already at the standoff and offering to help negotiate and end:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive
    Oregon standoff: Unsolicited help flocks to Burns to ‘assist’ law enforcement

    By Luke Hammill |
    on January 10, 2016 at 5:55 PM, updated January 10, 2016 at 8:42 PM

    BURNS — Law enforcement officials are getting a lot of unsolicited help to end the ongoing armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

    When Oregon Rep. Dallas Heard, a Republican from Roseburg, led a convoy of out-of-state elected officials to Burns to meet with the militant protesters on Saturday evening, it was just the latest example of the flood of outsiders who have come here uninvited, ostensibly in an effort to help.

    Before Heard, there were the self-styled patriots from Idaho and elsewhere who arrived heavily armed Friday afternoon and Saturday morning to form a “perimeter” around the occupation and deliver lists of resolutions to federal and local law enforcement officials.

    Jerry DeLemus, 61, of Rochester, New Hampshire, arrived in Oregon last week to also help convince Bundy – son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy – and his band to give up the occupation. He is well acquainted with the Bundys, having assumed the role of commander of the private militia involved in the Nevada ranch standoff in 2014.

    DeLemus said in an interview he has been to the refuge once to talk to Bundy and will continue efforts “to get him to pack his bags.”

    He said he approached the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Burns as recently as Saturday to offer to be a mediator. “I think I can get this resolved,” he said, but the FBI so far hasn’t accepted his offer.

    “I’m really upset that I haven’t heard back from them,” DeLemus said.

    “I think I can get this resolved”
    That was Jerry DeLemus’s message to the FBI, although they don’t sound very open to help which might have something to do with the fact that he was one of the people promising to shoot federal agents in the 2014 standoff:


    Jerry DeLemus, 61, of Rochester, New Hampshire, arrived in Oregon last week to also help convince Bundy – son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy – and his band to give up the occupation. He is well acquainted with the Bundys, having assumed the role of commander of the private militia involved in the Nevada ranch standoff in 2014.

    Yep, DeLemus is quite well acquainted with not just the Bundys but also what it’s like being part of a Bundy standoff. Very well acquainted. But what makes the situation so zany is, of course, that he’s also no stranger to the Trumps

    Think Progress
    Official Member Of Trump Campaign Joins Oregon Militia

    by Alan Pyke Jan 7, 2016 12:55 pm

    The co-chairman of Donald Trump’s New Hampshire “Veterans for Trump” group has arrived in Burns, Oregon, to assist the small cadre of armed men who are seeking to provoke a standoff with federal officials there.

    That not-quite-standoff began over the weekend when a handful of men led by Ammon Bundy decided to turn a much larger peaceful protest over a decision to send two ranchers back to jail for arson into an armed struggle. The group’s numbers are small – especially compared to the 300 who reportedly joined the peaceful protest of the re-sentencing – but they have now been reinforced by Jerry DeLemus, a former United States Marine living on the opposite side of the country.

    Trump himself has said little about the situation in Oregon, following the pattern of most of the GOP primary candidates. But on Tuesday he seemed to tell The Hill it was time for the Bundy crew to pack it in and go home. “You have to maintain law and order, no matter what,” he said.

    It is at least the second time DeLemus has ridden to the physical aid of a Bundy. When Ammon’s father Cliven had his cattle impounded by the Bureau of Land Management in 2014 over more than $1 million in unpaid fines and fees for his use of public lands, DeLemus and his son drove 41 hours in three days to come help.

    The impromptu militia DeLemus helped lead in Bunkerville, NV, eventually pushed the agency to return Bundy’s cattle under threat of violence. “If they made one wrong move, every single BLM agent in that camp would’ve died,” another leader of the group named Ryan Payne bragged to the Missoula Independent later. “We had counter-sniper positions on their sniper positions. We had at least one guy – sometimes two guys – per BLM agent in there.”

    DeLemus’ job in Bunkerville was “chief of security,” according to RawStory, which reports he was personally responsible for dismissing the members of the Bundy brigade who later went on to kill two police in Las Vegas before being killed themselves by other officers. He says he’s come to Oregon to help ensure the younger Bundys and their adherents find a peaceful resolution and leave the refuge safely.

    In a Facebook post explaining his decision, he also warned that a military psychological operation was taking place. “We must be level headed and remember there is a psyops war happening as well and all who were at Bunkerville know well what I’m talking about,” DeLemus wrote.

    When a GQ reporter asked the Granite State man in 2014 how he thought the Bunkerville standoff might end, he said there was a “good chance” that federal agents would return and kill every member of Bundy’s brigade, promising his crew would shoot back if it came to it. “And I’ll tell you what, they’ll have a bloody nose, and I’ll tell you what: the American people will rise up,” he said. “Go ahead.”

    DeLemus told reporters from the conspiracy theory-driven Next News Network at the time that “there’s great risk we may not come home” from Bunkerville. And a year earlier in New Hampshire, he told a crowd of Tea Party types that “We are in a similar position our Founding Fathers found themselves in and their decision to stand was equally difficult.”

    “We must be level headed and remember there is a psyops war happening as well and all who were at Bunkerville know well what I’m talking about”
    That was the calming advice Jerry DeLemus had Ammon Bundy and his crew: Stay level headed. There’s a psyop going on, just like back in 2014 at Bunkerville (he’s probably referring to the phantom drone-attack freakout, but who knows what else they were freaking out about).
    Might DeLemus end up playing a role in persuading the Bundy Brigade to give up their revolution peacefully? Well, keep in mind that Donald Trump’s position on the latest standoff shifted last week. Initially, it was “You have to maintain law and order, no matter what.” But a couple days later, Trump’s position was “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.’”. And that change in Trump’s position from ‘law and order no matter what’ to ‘come see me and negotiate’ was first reported on January 7th, the same day the article arrival of Jerry DeLemus at the standoff was published.

    So the “Veterans for Trump” veteran from the Bunkerville standoff arrives right around the same time Trump is suggesting that, as president, he would just negotiate a peaceful settlement using the power of his negotiating skills. And the very same day, Donald Trump writes the following op-ed:

    Reno Gazette-Journal
    Trump: Nevada, US need a president who obeys rule of law

    Donald J. Trump 12:30 p.m. PST January 7, 2016

    The United States of America is a land of laws, and Americans value the rule of law above all. Why, then, has our Congress allowed the president and the executive branch to take on near-dictatorial power? How is it that we have a president who will not enforce some laws and who encourages faceless, nameless bureaucrats to manage public lands as if the millions of acres were owned by agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Energy? In Nevada, the lack of enforcement of immigration laws and the draconian rule of the BLM are damaging the economy, lowering the standard of living and inhibiting natural economic growth. The only way to change these circumstances is to bring to Washington a president who will rein in the federal government and get Congress to do its job. It’s not that we don’t have talented people in D.C. It’s that we have no leadership there.

    The BLM controls over 85 percent of the land in Nevada. In the rural areas, those who for decades have had access to public lands for ranching, mining, logging and energy development are forced to deal with arbitrary and capricious rules that are influenced by special interests that profit from the D.C. rule-making and who fill the campaign coffers of Washington politicians. Far removed from the beautiful wide open spaces of Nevada, bureaucrats bend to the influence that is closest to them. Honest, hardworking citizens who seek freedom and economic independence must beg for deference from a federal government that is more intent on power and control than it is in serving the citizens of the nation. In and around Clark County, the situation is even worse.

    Because the BLM is so reluctant to release land to local disposition in Nevada, the cost of land has skyrocketed and the cost of living has become an impediment to growth. Where are the city and county to get the land for schools, roads, parks and other public use areas if they have to beg Washington for the land and then pay a premium price for it? How are people who see a future in Nevada to find housing and employment if the federal government is inhibiting economic development? How are businesses to find the employees to fill the jobs that could be created if there were better leadership in Washington? Unfortunately, many of the jobs are filled by those who came to this country illegally.

    That was Donald Trump’s op-ed, which isn’t particularly surprising since his positions were now standard GOP positions on the issue of federal management of land. But it’s the timing that’s fascinating since this op-ed is published shortly after his “Veterans for Trump” NH co-chair shows up in Oregon to negotiate a peaceful settlement and the New York Times publishes an interview where Trump says he’s prefer to call up Ammon Bundy and cut a deal.

    It all raises a fascinating possibility: Is the Trump campaign engaging in some sort of secret negotiations with the Bundy Brigade? Don’t forget that Trump could be president next year so he is sort of in a position to negotiate with Ammon. And if the Trump campaign could get Ammon to stand down and attribute the negotiation to the Trump campaign that could make for some interesting politics. So if there are any secret negotiations taking place, you have to wonder what Trump is offering and asking for in return. The history of secret GOP election negotiations unfortunately requires such questions.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 11, 2016, 8:46 pm
  3. Is it the beginning of the end of the Bundy Brigade’s standoff in Oregon? Well, according to one of the group’s leaders during a press conference today, the Bundy Brigade is going to drive into town and hold a public meeting at 7PM Friday, where they’ll inform the residents of Burns, OR, when they plan on leaving. So if you don’t have anything going on around 7 PM Pacific time this Friday and happen to be in the general area, why not head on over to the Bundy Brigade’s town hall meeting? Everyone is invited. There’s just one more detail needed. They still need to find a secure location:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive
    Oregon standoff: Militants say they’ll reveal exit plan Friday

    By Luke Hammill
    on January 12, 2016 at 11:42 AM, updated January 12, 2016 at 3:24 PM

    BURNS — The armed militants occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge announced Tuesday morning that they will drive into Burns at the end of the week to hold a community meeting and inform residents when they will leave.

    The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Friday evening, said Robert “LaVoy” Finicum. The location has yet to be determined. All are invited to attend, Finicum added.

    “I think there should be a dialogue,” said Finicum, a sidearm on his hip. The militants, who have held the refuge for well over a week, intend to remind the community why they are there and announce a departure plan.

    Finicum did not reveal any details about the plan. He said he was only relaying a message from Arizona businessman Ammon Bundy, the leader of the militants, who did not appear Tuesday at a press conference that the group has held daily at the refuge. Bundy will attend the meeting on Friday, Finicum said.

    The group is working on securing a location in Burns for the meeting, Finicum said. The announcement comes a day after the militants destroyed a public fence at the refuge and county residents demanded at a community meeting that Bundy and his group leave.

    Throughout the occupation, the militants have said they will not leave until Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven Hammond – local ranchers who were sent back to federal prison for arson because of mandatory minimum sentencing rules – are freed. They have also said they won’t leave until the federal government hands over public land to local ranchers and loggers.

    It wasn’t immediately clear whether the militants will be any more detailed on Friday about their exit plan.

    Well that must be a source of relief for the people of Burns, OR. Of course, telling everyone that you’ll let them know when you’re planning on leaving doesn’t mean they’ll give a date. Ammon Bundy could easily just issue the same demands as always and say they’ll leave when their demands are met. So we’ll see. And based on some of the other reports coming out about the Bundy Brigade’s shenanigan’s at the refuge, we probably shouldn’t be super surprised if those demands include not just dropping the charges agains Dwight and Steven Hammond but whatever else they can come up with after rummaging through the trove of government files at the refuge:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire
    Militiamen In Oregon Dig Into Government Files At Refuge

    By Lauren Fox
    Published January 12, 2016, 9:39 AM EST

    The armed squatters at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon have begun rummaging through government documents at the reserve.

    According to ABC News, leader Ammon Bundy told reporters he is confident that he will find evidence in the trove of files to help free Dwight and Steven Hammond, local ranchers convicted on arson charges who are currently serving out their sentences and who were the inspiration for the occupation of the refuge.

    Bundy’s group of militiamen are also hoping to “expose” federal employees’ transgressions against local ranchers, ABC says. The document raid is just the latest example of destruction at the ranch. Monday, Bundy and his crew began tearing apart federal fencing at the reserve to allow one local rancher family to move its cattle through the area.

    While they have accessed hard copies of government documents, ABC is reporting that the militiamen claim they are not searching government computers. Reporters over the weekend said they saw the militiamen using the computers, but Bundy and company denied it.

    Fish and Wildlife officials are concerned that uncovered documents could undermine the safety of federal employees’ whose names are on the them.

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Spokesman Jason Holm told ABC that Fish and Wildlife “is taking necessary steps to ensure employee and family safety.”

    Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward told community members during a meeting Monday night that the militiamen have also been harassing federal employees around town in attempts to intimidate them.

    “Bundy’s group of militiamen are also hoping to “expose” federal employees’ transgressions against local ranchers, ABC says.”
    Sounds exciting. It should be fascinating to see the government plots they expose.

    Who knows, maybe all this exposure will stop the coming war. You haven’t heard about the coming war? Well, that’s all the more reason to attend the Bundy Town Hall meeting because it turns out this whole occupation wasn’t just about freeing two ranchers and overturning how the government functions. It was a divine mission to stop the coming war:

    Right Wing Watch
    Ammon Bundy: We Seized Federal Building To Stop The Coming War
    Submitted by Brian Tashman on Tuesday, 1/12/2016 1:30 pm

    Ammon Bundy, the head of a group of anti-government militia members who have taken over a federal building in Oregon, said in a radio interview on Sunday that his group is peaceful and that they are in fact trying to prevent future “war and violence.”

    “We’re here because we feel that the Lord wanted us here,” Bundy said on the Arizona-based “Patriot” movement program “The Common Sense Show,” repeating his claim that the militia’s move has divine backing.

    He insisted that his militia is a peaceful group that only seized the building because they were afraid war was coming.

    “We are not here to be protesters and we never did come here to be protesters,” he said. “We came here very simply. We didn’t come to cause a war either, in fact, that’s exactly the opposite. We felt that if we did not stand now when the people had good reason to stand and if we did not make this stand, that eventually down the years, and you know how close we’re getting, eventually, very soon, that it would come to war. We felt that we needed to make this stand now so that we can peacefully go through this process [and] get the people back on their feet without war or violence.

    There you go: The Bundy Brigade’s arm standoff is actually on a divinely ordained mission of peace! And that divine mission is to make the coming war moot. All we have to do to make that happen is give in to their demands.

    And that’s just what we know so far about the Bundy Brigade’s divine mission of peace. There’s nothing stopping Ammon from receiving additional divine mandates during his conversations with God between now and Friday’s meeting. There could be so much more. For instance, Ammon is basically assuming the role of a prophet at this point, so how about a request for some tithings? He could sure use them.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 12, 2016, 7:19 pm
  4. They’re here! They’re finally here! The “citizen grand juries” that have to power to put public officials on trial and condemn them to a hanging are finally here. Or at least close. A self-proclaimed “U.S. Superior Court judge” arrived in Burns, OR, yesterday. The wheels of fantasy vigilante justice are finally turning:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive
    Self-appointed ‘judge’ arrives in Burns to ask local residents to charge government officials with crimes

    By Betsy Hammond

    on January 12, 2016 at 4:48 PM, updated January 12, 2016 at 5:55 PM

    A self-proclaimed "U.S. Superior Court judge" who has been involved in past property rights protests in other states arrived Tuesday in Burns with plans to convene an extra-legal “citizens grand jury” that he said will review evidence that public officials may have committed crimes.

    Bruce Doucette, a 54-year-old owner of a computer design and repair shop in suburban Denver, told The Oregonian/OregonLive, that he made the trip at the request of Harney County residents. He said he met with the armed occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to hear their evidence, which he called “significant,” that government officials have committed crimes.

    But he declined to say which officials or which crimes they discussed and said a privately appointed “grand jury” of Harney County residents, not he as a self-appointed judge, would decide whether to charge anyone with a crime.

    “The grand jury will convene in private and make its decisions in private,” Doucette said. “The role of a superior court judge is not very glorified. All we do is write up” what the local citizens decide, he said.

    Doucette’s entry into the fray and claim to special Constitutional powers is the latest in a 11-day drama that has drawn a series of attention-seeking, Constitution-citing characters who say they can help Harney County residents solve their problems with federal restrictions on use of public lands.

    Ammon Bundy and other organizers of the occupation have said in blog posts and other statements that they believe that lawyers in the U.S. attorney’s office, federal court judges and leaders of the Bureau of Land Management, among others, have broken laws and violated the Constitution in their treatment of ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond.

    The Hammonds, who have owned ranch land adjacent to the refuge since the 1960s, were denied access to federal rangelands, to water on federally owned land and have been jailed for five years each for setting fires they say were necessary to protect their property.

    In Bundy’s view, setting those restrictions on use of federal resources and using the courts to punish the Hammonds for burning 139 acres of federal rangeland represented unconstitutional overreach by federal officials. And the failure of state and local officials, including Sheriff Dave Ward, are also guilty, for failing to protect their citizens from those federal actions.

    Doucette would easily reach the same conclusion since the leader of the movement under which he was declared a judge insists that the BLM is a private corporation, not a government agency, and the federal government ceased operating under the Constitution in the 1860s.

    Bundy, in a redress of grievance" to Harney County and Oregon leaders that he posted last month, said evidence of government officials’ crimes should be heard and decided in public by a hearing board of Harney residents.

    Doucette, by contrast, said 25 local residents would hear testimony and make decisions in private. But both said the conclusions would be put in writing and made public.

    In late November, Anna Maria Riezinger, an Alaska woman who claims to be Judge Anna von Rietz under the same inaccurate reading of the Constitution that Doucette uses, ruled that the members of Congress, the president and the U.S. treasury secretary all committed crimes and directed U.S. marshals and FBI agents to arrest them.

    Last week, Riezinger issued a statement about the Harney occupation. In it, she wrote that “The Hammonds and the Bundy Family are Priority Creditors of all the (government agencies) which are now or which have operated in this country in the past. …They and their countrymen are owed the patent to all land within the geographically defined boundaries of their respective states, free and clear of liens, encumbrances, or other presumptions.”

    Hundreds of people who have used similar sovereign citizen arguments to justify failing to pay federal income taxes, getting drivers licenses or other government requirements have never prevailed in any court.

    “The grand jury will convene in private and make its decisions in private,” Doucette said. “The role of a superior court judge is not very glorified. All we do is write up” what the local citizens decide, he said.

    Sweet, sweet justice. It would probably be sweeter if it wasn’t vigilante fantasy justice, but it’s also presumably fun while it lasts.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 13, 2016, 9:52 am
  5. Will the Trump campaign come around to openly backing Ammon Bundy’s cause? Well, if the Jerry DeLemus, the co-chair of the “Veterans for Trump” in New Hampshire, has anything to say about it, not only will Donald Trump come around to supporting the Bundy Brigade’s armed standoff, but DeLemus expects to see the Trump campaign actually make a journey out West to stand in solidarity.

    Keep in mind that DeLemus originally told reporters that he is skeptical of Bundy’s methods and was there to ensure they would leave the wildlife refuge safely and peacefully. But that was last week. According to DeLemus now, the militants are a “peaceful” and “constitutionally just” movement that is enjoying “great success” in resisting the “thug-like, terroristic” government. So Trump’s operative at the standoff has been converted to the cause. Is Trump next?

    Reuters
    Trump campaign member praises Oregon wildlife refuge occupation

    WASHINGTON | By Julia Harte
    Thu Jan 14, 2016 10:37am EST

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said the armed standoff at a national wildlife refuge in Oregon had gone on “too long,” and that once people are allowed to take over federal property, “you don’t have a government anymore.”

    But last week, after he made those comments, the head of a veterans’ group formed by his campaign traveled to Oregon to meet with protesters whom he described as a “peaceful” and “constitutionally just” movement.

    Although Jerry DeLemus, a 61-year-old retired Marine, said he made the visit on his own rather than as a representative of Trump’s campaign, he is the only member of a presidential campaign to have openly visited the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge since it began on Jan. 2.

    His presence at the Oregon standoff highlights the array of extreme views in Trump’s support base, as the billionaire real-estate mogul taps a vein of grassroots supporters who are deeply upset with current federal leadership in his quest to lead the Republican Party in this year’s presidential election.

    In an interview on Tuesday, DeLemus told Reuters that while he was skeptical of the occupation at first, he now thinks the group is enjoying “great success” in resisting the “thug-like, terroristic” actions of the federal government by claiming the land for local citizens.

    Trump’s campaign has received support from several other sources who hold more extreme views than him, including white supremacist groups that recently launched a pro-Trump automated telephone campaign in Iowa and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, whose endorsement Trump rejected in August.

    Unlike those supporters, however, DeLemus is a formal member of Trump’s campaign and says he plans to help inform the candidate about the true nature of the standoff in Oregon in an effort to convince Trump to support their cause.

    The armed protesters garrisoned at the wildlife refuge are led by Ammon Bundy, a rancher from Nevada. The occupation, which began as a protest against the extended prison sentences of local ranchers who set fire to federal land, is now focused on reclaiming the federal land in the county for local citizens.

    “It’s my intention to ensure that he has the whole story,” DeLemus said of Trump. “I think it’ll really arouse him, and once he understands, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him heading out West.”

    The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

    Dan Shea, a professor of government at Maine’s Colby College who has studied the polarization of American voters, says the Oregon standoff would likely have strong appeal to some Trump supporters.

    “What Trump supporters want is dramatic action, and for some, what’s happening in Oregon is an example of that.”

    “It’s my intention to ensure that he has the whole story…I think it’ll really arouse him, and once he understands, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him heading out West.”
    Well, considering that DeLemus is a veteran of the 2014 Bundy standoff and Trump recruited him to co-chair his “Veterans for Trump” group and given the abundant support for the 2014 standoff from the GOP and right-wing media, it’s hard to say that DeLemus’s optimism is completely unfounded here. As the Dan Shea put it,
    “What Trump supporters want is dramatic action, and for some, what’s happening in Oregon is an example of that,” and a Trump embrace of the Bundy standoff would certainly be dramatic. Especially once “citizen’s grand juries” get underway:

    CNN
    Oregon occupiers call for common law grand jury

    By Steve Almasy and Sara Weisfeldt

    Updated 10:42 PM ET, Wed January 13, 2016

    Burns, Oregon (CNN) Ammon Bundy, the man leading a group of armed protesters who have taken over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, called Wednesday for a common law grand jury to examine what he called violations of the U.S. Constitution.

    He said officials in Harney County, including Judge Steve Grasty, have failed to protect the citizens of the county.

    Bundy wants the county to allow for a common law jury, outside of the court system, to hear evidence against the judge and others.

    Earlier Wednesday, a spokesman for a self-proclaimed common law judge said a grand jury could form within a week and hold a trial. Michael Emory said the judge would act in a supervisory role, and the citizens in the jury would decide if officials should be arrested.

    He wouldn’t go into details as to how the detainment process would work.

    The “judge,” Bruce Doucette, owns a computer design and repair store near Denver, the Oregonian newspaper reported. He told the paper that 25 locals would hear and decide the case in private but he would publicly release their findings.

    A spokeswoman for the armed protesters said a Friday meeting involving the group and a local citizen’s group will be held at the fairgrounds. Ammon Bundy has said his group will discuss plans to leave the area at that meeting.

    Yep, Ammon Bundy came right out and called for a common law jury/citizen’s grand jury. And due to the nature of “common law juries”, when you call for a common law jury, you’re also calling for trying public officials for treason and potentially hanging them if convicted. Now that’s direct action. Yes, hanging public officials after your privately-arranged jury issues its ruling may be a highly seditious action that undermines the delicate nature of democracy, but it’s certainly direct.

    Is it the kind of direct action that the Trump campaign will get behind? Well, according to GOP pollster/spinmeister Frank Luntz, the average Trump supporters he’s studied in his focus groups aren’t just angry. They want revenge. So while it’s unclear if backing common law juries will expand the Trump campaign’s appeal, it may not hurt it either! And that’s the kind of dynamic that may makes the backing of “direct action” sedition rather tempting. Too tempting to resist? We’ll see. Unfortunately.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 14, 2016, 9:05 pm
  6. It begins. Or rather, it began: Ammon Bundy’s served notices of intent on Wednesday toward “indicting” county officials who refuse to support their cause with treason (which is punishable by death). The “grand juries” are presumably going to convene one of these days. Harney County Judge Steven Grasty, who threatened to charge the Bundy Brigade $70,000 each day they occupy the refuge, appears to be their initial target.

    And, quite alarmingly, it looks like some local officials are actually supporting them. In particular, the sheriff of neighboring Grant County, who happens to be an Oath Keeper favorite, apparently had a meeting with the militants and was invited to join them in their cause. He declined, but still voices support for their cause and has a message about how to resolve the standoff: “I believe the government is going to have to concede to something…I don’t think these guys are going to give up without knowing that they’ve done something that benefits the people of our country or our region.” So there’s at least one public official who isn’t getting hanged any time soon:

    Raw Story
    Whiny Oregon militants vow to ‘arrest’ county officials who are trying to ‘shame and humiliate them’

    Travis Gettys
    14 Jan 2016 at 10:05 ET

    The armed militants who have taken over an Oregon wildlife refuge appear to be moving toward “indicting” county officials who they say mocked them by threatening to impose a $70,000-a-day bill for their ongoing occupation.

    Ammon Bundy said a bogus “grand jury” set up by the militants had served notices of intent Wednesday to various Harney County officials who had refused to support their armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Preserve.

    The militant leader suggested that Judge Steven Grasty, the chief elected county official, should be arrested for treason because he made fun of the out-of-state militia members who are trying to overthrow the county government and demanding that federal lands be turned over to their control.

    “It appears that he must be trying to hide something because he’s getting very belligerent towards the Committee of Safety and, of course, towards us,” Bundy said.

    The militant leader complained that Grasty would not allow the Committee of Safety, which is made up of six local residents selected by Bundy himself as a shadow government, to hold a meeting Friday evening on county property.

    “He’s completely biased, he’s also threatened the Committee of Safety, he’s intimidated them, he’s tried to belittle them and really acting strange,” Bundy said, with a copy of the U.S. Constitution conspicuously poking out of his shirt pocket.

    Chris Briels, the county’s volunteer fire chief, resigned his unpaid post after Grasty asked him to step down from the unelected Committee of Safety.

    “I’ve been told that we don’t know what we’re doing,” Briels said Wednesday, with Bundy standing beside him. “I’ve been told that my life is in danger. I’ve been told all kinds of things. I will not be told what to do. I have my own mind, and I will use my own mind, not somebody else’s.”

    Grasty has been strongly critical of the militants — who he calls “armed thugs” — and their plot to take over the county government, even as he complains about the same federal land use issues that drew the outsiders to Harney County.

    The sheriff of neighboring Grant County claims he was unwittingly invited to a lunch meeting Wednesday with some of the militants — who asked him to travel to Harney County and join their siege.

    Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer, who is admired among the right-wing Oath Keepers gun group, said he would not undermine the authority of Harney County Sheriff David Ward — but he also would not comply with his neighbor’s lone request.

    “About the only thing he really told me is I’m welcome to come down there if I would shame and humiliate them into giving up, and I said, ‘No, I won’t do that,’” Palmer said. “I’m not in the business of denouncing or shaming or humiliating anybody.”

    Palmer said he would not join the militants in Harney County, but he urged the federal government to comply with the armed outsiders’ demands.

    “I believe the government is going to have to concede to something,” Palmer said. “I don’t think these guys are going to give up without knowing that they’ve done something that benefits the people of our country or our region.”

    A self-appointed judge who will oversee the bogus legal proceedings against Harney County officials said the militants would likely repeat their tactics in other states — and he admitted the group’s goal was to overthrow the elected government and replace it with one they believe was more “constitutional.”

    “Ammon Bundy is not leaving until we have a lawful county government and the BLM and FBI are completely out of here,” said Bruce Doucette, who calls himself a “United States at Superior Court Judge.”

    Doucette said he will oversee a “grand jury” made up of 25 community members who will meet in secret, but he said the results of their extralegal proceedings will be publicly released.

    “Common law grand juries,” which are based on nonsensical “sovereign citizen” legal theories, typically indict public officials on only one charge: treason — for which the penalty is death.

    “A self-appointed judge who will oversee the bogus legal proceedings against Harney County officials said the militants would likely repeat their tactics in other states — and he admitted the group’s goal was to overthrow the elected government and replace it with one they believe was more “constitutional.””
    It was nice of the self-appointed judge who will be overseeing the treason trials admitted that the group’s goal was to overthrow the elected government and replace it with one of their own design. Because that wasn’t obvious.

    And keep in mind that Sheriff Palmer, being an associate of the Oath Keepers, would sort of be expected to take his quasi-supportive stance (which is less than the openly supportive stance taken by regular Fox News contributor and Milwaukee County, WI, Sheriff David Clark). So it’s not like Ammon Bundy’s threatening charisma is suddenly turning public officials into anarchists.

    Also keep in mind that these threats of treason trials (and the implied threat of hangings) were apparently sparked by a judge who merely threatened to issue fines. Big fines, sure, but it’s not like he was threatening prison time. So you have to wonder what their response it going to be when authorities start hinting at long prison sentences. It’s kind of hard to up the ante when you’ve already issued what amounts to a death sentence counter-threat. Although, being on a mission from God, Ammon could potentially start issuing threats to the public officials’ immortal souls. And who knows, maybe he’ll have backup.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 15, 2016, 3:52 pm
  7. The New York Times has an interesting article about how the Bundy Brigade is transforming from what was supposed to be a revolt over federal land management issues into a patchwork of ‘Patriots’ all pushing their own pet issues. In other words, the Bundy Brigade is a big-tent bizarre bazaar of the anti-government far-right:

    The New York Times
    Standoff in Oregon Attracts Supporters Bearing Disparate Grievances

    By ALAN FEUER
    JAN. 16, 2016

    One of the people who have joined the Bundy family on a federal wildlife sanctuary in an arid patch of Oregon is an avowed anti-Semite from Ohio. One is an anti-Islamic ideologue from Phoenix.

    Another is an online radio host — also from Ohio — who uses terms like “Obamislamistan.”

    Some are militant gun-rights activists, and one is a man who has declared himself to be a judge and plans to convene a “citizens’ grand jury” in order to put the government on trial.

    When the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge began on Jan. 2, it was primarily the work of Ammon Bundy, the former rancher, who wants the federal government to relinquish its lands.

    But as the protest has dragged on, it has become a magnet of sorts, attracting strands of diverse conservative movements from across the country.

    Some are members of the so-called Patriot movement, an umbrella effort of antigovernment activists that includes groups like the Oath Keepers, an organization of law enforcement officers and military veterans, and the 3 Percent of Idaho, which focuses on the Second Amendment and derives its name from the supposed 3 percent of the colonial population that took up arms against the British.

    One of the 3 Percent group’s most recent focuses has been fighting the presence of refugees in Idaho.

    The local authorities, as well as many local residents, have made it clear that they would like them all to leave.

    At first, the logic behind the conflict seemed coherent: The Bundy brothers, sons of the Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who made national news two years ago by facing down the government over cattle-grazing fees, wanted the federal government to turn its land holdings over to private citizens and local control. In recent days, however, the protest has metastasized and started drawing a motley cast of fellow travelers.

    Some are staying in the rural town of Burns, which is 30 miles from the wildlife sanctuary and the nearest community of any size, and others have shown up at the refuge, armed with their own ideas and weapons.

    “When you have a high-profile event like this, lots of people want to get in on the action,” said Mark Pitcavage, the senior research fellow for the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “It has the ability to draw all sorts out of the woodwork.”

    Among them is David Fry, a 27-year-old Ohioan who has regularly posted homophobic and anti-Semitic messages on social media. Jon Ritzheimer, who is also camped out with the Bundys, is a Marine veteran from Arizona who drew national attention in May when he organized an anti-Islam protest at a mosque in Phoenix; the mosque had been attended by a pair of Muslim men who opened fire earlier that month at a “Draw Mohammad” contest in Garland, Tex.

    There was also Pete Santilli, the conservative host of “The Pete Santilli Show,” who roamed about the refuge with a camera on a stick, cheering occupiers and heckling journalists.

    Mr. Santilli spoke on his online radio show last spring about a “battle between heterosexuals and homosexuals” and once drew scrutiny from the Secret Service after saying he wanted to shoot Hillary Clinton.

    At Malheur, he is working alongside people like Bruce Doucette, a computer technician who reportedly plans to seek indictments against federal officials and describes himself as a United States Superior Court judge — even though no such office exists.

    “What we’re seeing is an amalgamation of a lot of different and disparate strands of the extremist movement converging in one place,” said Ryan Lenz, a senior writer for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks and studies extremist groups. “Although they all have slightly separate agendas, they’ve come together in Oregon because of the same intense resentment of the government.”

    According to Mr. Pitcavage, who has written an analysis of the philosophies behind the occupation, about a third of the protesters in Oregon were motivated, like the Bundys, by land-use issues that have bedeviled the West since the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s.

    The rest, he said, were drawn from various factions of the Patriot movement.

    This coalition first emerged, Mr. Pitcavage said, in the crucible of the Bundy ranch standoff in 2014, during which a group of volunteer gunmen assumed positions on a highway near the town of Bunkerville, Nev., and chased off agents from the federal Bureau of Land Management who wanted to collect grazing fees from Cliven Bundy.

    “Before the Bundy ranch, I’d be hard pressed to think of something similar,” Mr. Pitcavage said. “It was the first major example of militiamen and Sagebrush Rebellion types spending time together and getting to know each other personally. It set the stage for what’s happening today.”

    Some people who have studied such movements say the Oregon occupation’s new recruits have been encouraged by the inaction of the federal government, which has largely left the matter to be handled by the county sheriff, David Ward.

    “There’s no question that there is now a brand of success associated with Bundy family standoffs,” said Tarso Ramos, the executive director of Political Research Associates, a think tank that studies right-wing movements. “And the success of this standoff in surviving so far has emboldened factions that once decried the effort to act in a more confrontational manner.”

    Mr. Ramos pointed to the Oath Keepers, whose president, Stewart Rhodes, issued a statement during the first week of the standoff saying his group would not get involved. Mr. Rhodes later changed course, announcing that he would send an Oath Keeper team to Oregon, albeit without long guns or camouflage gear and only to “keep the peace.”

    The Oath Keepers are staying in Burns, not at the wildlife refuge. Well before this protest began, Mr. Ritzheimer and Mr. Rhodes had a public falling out.

    Not everyone agreed that a muted federal response had fueled the growth of the occupation. Mr. Pitcavage argued that if the government had cracked down on the Bundys, as it did at conflicts in Waco, Tex., and Ruby Ridge, Idaho, it could easily “draw attention to the effort and draw more people like a magnet.”

    Nor was everyone in Oregon there because of an antigovernment agenda.

    “I do not understand the culture,” said Kristi Jernigan, 44, from Tennessee, who was among the women in the compound’s kitchen feeding the occupation. Ms. Jernigan said she had little interest in politics and had arrived only “to spread love.”

    “You’d be surprised at all the different people here,” she said.

    “You’d be surprised at all the different people here.”
    Indeed. And the number of different people appears to differ from one day to the next with the ever-changing cast of characters coming and going. As Mark Pitcavage note, at this point two-thirds of the occupants don’t even appear to be motivated by the federal land ownership issue that apparently triggered this whole thing:

    According to Mr. Pitcavage, who has written an analysis of the philosophies behind the occupation, about a third of the protesters in Oregon were motivated, like the Bundys, by land-use issues that have bedeviled the West since the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s.

    The rest, he said, were drawn from various factions of the Patriot movement.

    It’s a far-right cuddle puddle! And according to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, it’s a cuddle puddle that could get a lot bigger…assuming the government ‘Wacos’ the militia. According Rhodes, any ‘Wacoing’ of the Bundy Brigade will result in a “brutal, bloody Civil War”. It’s the kind of seditious chatter that makes one appreciate people like Kristi Jernigan:

    Nor was everyone in Oregon there because of an antigovernment agenda.

    “I do not understand the culture,” said Kristi Jernigan, 44, from Tennessee, who was among the women in the compound’s kitchen feeding the occupation. Ms. Jernigan said she had little interest in politics and had arrived only “to spread love.”

    “You’d be surprised at all the different people here,” she said.

    There you have it folks: Kristi Jernigan, the most helpful person at the refuge. If Ammon Bundy’s role as spiritual leader of the movement wasn’t some sort of self-declare self-fulfilling prophecy, he would certainly have competition in the spiritual leadership department! For a movement that has thus far been rooted in the threat of violence and grass-roots anarcho-totalitarianism, the random spreading of apolitical love is a welcome addition. General sanity and an understanding of how democracy is supposed to work would help too. But in the absence of that, love still helps. When the Bundy Brigade starts hosting spiritual retreats in the forest we know who’s going to be organizing it.

    So lets hope hope a mob of hippies descends upon the refuge and fills it with apolitical unconditional love. Better peace and love than Oath Keepers showing up hell bent on waged a bloody, brutal civil war. The presence of fluffy unicorns is also generally preferable to the Oath Keepers (although it’s ambiguous in some cases).

    Really, just about any random person would probably be a more helpful addition to the situation than the ones that are actually showing up, but that’s how these things go. Although you have to wonder if that’s how things are still going to go for the Bundy Brigade now that the authorities just arrested one of them.

    It’s unclear how the arrest is going to impact the overall status of the standoff because it wasn’t like authorities showed up at the refuge and hauled him off. No, it turns out that the militants gave federal vehicles at the refuge signs with new logos (they now say “Harney County Resource Center”), and two of them were driven to town by the Bundy Brigade.

    The arrested militant, Kenneth Medenbach, has previous been arrested for occupying federal land and was released from custody back in November with the condition that he not “occupy” federal land. The fellow who drove the other vehicle escaped managed to escape arrest by going into the grocery store before the police got there. So one guy was arrested, but it was only after he drove a federal vehicle into town from his occupation which is two months after he was released from custody on the condition that he not occupy federal lands.

    So at least we don’t have to worry about Stewart Rhodes sending his Oath Keepers into ‘bloody, brutal civil-war’ mode. Because this sure ain’t Waco:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive
    Protester arrested in Burns, accused of driving stolen refuge vehicle

    By Les Zaitz
    on January 15, 2016 at 2:00 PM, updated January 15, 2016 at 6:23 PM

    UPDATE: Protester ordered not to occupy federal property as condition of his release from federal charges now pending in Medford.

    BURNS – Oregon State Police on Friday arrested one of the protesters occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge after he drove into town, accusing him of having a stolen vehicle.

    The man was identified as Kenneth Medenbach, 62, of Crescent. He was arrested on suspicion of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, a class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison. He was to be booked into the Deschutes County Jail in Bend with bail set at $10,000, officials said.

    According to federal court records, Medenbach is currently facing federal charges in Medford and was released from custody in November. A condition of his release was that he would not “occupy” any federal land. He was accused of illegally camping on federal property.

    He is the first person arrested in connection with the armed occupation of the wildlife refuge, taken over two weeks ago.

    He was arrested in the Safeway parking lot in one vehicle bearing federal government license plates. A second federal vehicle was parked next to him, but the man police suspect of driving that into town already had gone into the grocery before police arrived.

    Both vehicles — a pickup and a passenger van, bore door signs reading “Harney County Resource Center.” That’s the new name occupiers have given to the bird sanctuary they occupy, which is about 30 miles southeast of Burns.

    In 1995, Medenbach was convicted on federal charges for illegally camping on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state. He was ordered held in custody because of evidence that Medenbach poses a risk to the safety of other persons or the community because [he] acknowledges intimidation practices, references ‘Ruby Ridge’ and ‘Waco, Texas,’ and clearly would not follow conditions of release restraining his presence at the scene of the alleged unlawful activity,” according to a federal appellate court ruling upholding his conviction.

    The appellate ruling said there was “evidence that Medenbach had attempted to protect his forest campsite with fifty to a hundred pounds of the explosive ammonium sulfate, a pellet gun, and what appeared to be a hand grenade with trip wires. The government also proffered evidence that Medenbach had warned Forest Service officers of potential armed resistance to the federal government’s continued control of the forest lands in question.”

    Mendenbach earlier attempted to squat on federal land in southern Oregon. During those court hearings, he claimed the U.S. Constitution gave the federal government authority to own property only for military installations and post offices, The Oregonian’s archives show.

    U.S. District Court Judge Michael Hogan handled some of the proceedings. Hogan was the judge who in 2012 decided that Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven should serve lighter sentences than required by law for setting fire to public lands.

    Medenbach also has a long history of convictions on charges related to driving documentation and providing false information to law enforcement.

    His most recent arrest comes amid growing public clamor for action to end the occupation.

    Law enforcement officials have been taking a low-key approach so far. The FBI is handling the investigation of the occupation, but its presence in Burns is muted. Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward has repeatedly urged the protesters to go home, even offering to give them arrest-free passage out of the county. But at a community meeting earlier this week, he warned the militants that “there is an hourglass and it’s running.”

    Whether Friday’s arrest signals a change in tactics by police isn’t certain.

    No one from the refuge encampment appeared to show up at the scene of the arrest, though word of it spread through the compound and some of the occupiers hopped in cars to head toward town when they heard.

    A tow company hauled away the van from the store parking lot as a state trooper drove away the pickup.

    “He was arrested in the Safeway parking lot in one vehicle bearing federal government license plates. A second federal vehicle was parked next to him, but the man police suspect of driving that into town already had gone into the grocery before police arrived.”
    Well, and at least one guy was arrested. But when you factor in Medenbach’s criminal history and the fact that he was recently released from custody on the condition of not “occupying” federal lands, and when you consider that the other driver was allowed to lose the cops by hiding in the grocery store, it not at all clear we’re seeing a change in government tactics. Tactics that currently include allowing the occupiers to leave the compound and go into town without getting arrested…unless someone with Medenbach’s recent criminal record does it in a federal vehicle.

    So it doesn’t like like the Oath Keepers will get their ‘Waco’ any time soon which is fabulous. ‘Wacos’ are a nightmare. But so are armed standoffs. Especially when the armed standoff is increasingly about the right engage in vigilante justice like more armed standoffs and citizen’s grand juries. But at least we finally now know what will get the Bundy Brigade members arrested: if they were recently released from custody on the condition that they not occupy federal land, they might get arrested if they’re driving a federal vehicle and don’t escape into a store in time. Note, however, that if you flip your own van into a ditch on the way back the refuge you’ll be free to hitch that ride back to Burns and rejoin the standoff.

    Given all that, it’s going to be very interesting to see how much the population of the refuge grows or shrinks over the coming weeks, because it’s still not so large that you couldn’t have outside groups with a few dozen people show up and ensure that their pet cause becomes part of the Bundy insurrection. So why not have a few dozen more folks like Kristi Jernigan descend on the place and ensure that love, and nothing else, becomes the standoff agenda. You can apparently just show up. No one is going to stop you. And they’ll apparently let you stay there. Kristi is just hanging out, spreading love. Isn’t she exactly the person we want occupying the refuge? How about 50 more of her? An armed standoff…for love.

    Yes, armed standoffs for love aren’t the best idea, but compared and an armed standoff against democracy they’re a distinct improvement.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 18, 2016, 12:11 am
  8. Oh great. The Bundy Brigade just issued a new call for support…by posting videos of two of the militia blowing rams’ horns to Facebook with the caption “CHRISTIANS THE BATTLE TRUMPET HAS BEEN SOUNDED TIME TO RISE! CALL TO ACTION SEND IN THE TROOPS TO STAND WITH US IN BURNS.” So there you have it. The battle trumpet has been sounded

    New York Magazine
    Daily Intelligencer

    Oregon Militants Literally Toot Their Own Horns, Er, Shofars

    By Claire Landsbaum
    January 19, 2016 5:02 p.m.

    Despite a totally sincere promise to meet last Friday to discuss an “exit plan,” the members of an armed militia are still occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon. They’re hungry, they’re angry, and they’re still trying to wash the last traces of glitter out of their manly beards. It would also seem they’re tired of sitting up there in Burns all by themselves. On Monday they sent out a call for backup: a 36-second clip of themselves blowing into three-foot-long horns while surrounded by barren, snowy fields.

    In part because he’s never heard of Snapchat, militiaman Blaine Cooper shared this video on Facebook with the following caption:

    SHARE UPDATE BURNS OREGON! CHRISTIANS THE BATTLE TRUMPET HAS BEEN SOUNDED TIME TO RISE! CALL TO ACTION SEND IN THE TROOPS TO STAND WITH US IN BURNS

    The “battle trumpets” in question happen to be shofars, which are the ram’s horns traditionally blown during synagogue services on Jewish holidays. However, they’ve been adopted by some Evangelical Christians to show support for the Jewish Zionist movement; Christian Zionists believe that the Jews’ return to the Holy Land is foretold in the Bible.

    By posting this video, Cooper has raised a slew of questions: Are the Oregon militiamen also pro-Israel? How many cuts did it take to achieve this degree of harmony? Exactly how bored are they up there? And, most important, was there a shofar dick sword fight?

    “By posting this video, Cooper has raised a slew of questions: Are the Oregon militiamen also pro-Israel? How many cuts did it take to achieve this degree of harmony? Exactly how bored are they up there? And, most important, was there a shofar dick sword fight?

    While the question of whether or not shofar dick sword fights are part of their battle training regiment is indeed an important question (they probably have other uses at this point for their abundant dildo supply), the question of whether or not the use of shofars in their explicitly Christian “call to action” was a conscious attempt to incorporate Christian Zionist symbolism into their movement is a pretty interesting question. Especially given Ammon Bundy’s conversations with God that allegedly inspired this whole thing. So it’s worth noting that the shofar sort of plays a significant role in the teachings of Mormonism itself. It was on September 22, 1827, that the Angel Morani finally allowed Joseph Smith to retrieve the golden plates, and that day just happened to be Rosh Hashanah. Hooray!

    So who knows what exactly these guys were trying to convey with their use of the shofars, but if it turns out they really are a bunch of Christian Zionists trying to express their support for Israel someone really needs to inform the Bundy Brigade’s resident computer guy about this because he’s not a very big fan of Isreal:

    Oregon Public Broadcasting
    Militants Use Government Computers To Create Own Website

    by John Sepulvado and Amanda Peacher OPB | Jan. 12, 2016 3:57 p.m. | Updated: Jan. 13, 2016 8:35 p.m.

    Editor’s note: This story contains offensive language. After this story was published, David Fry deleted some of his offensive posts on social media and said they “were just a joke.”

    Among the militant members who have accessed government computers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, one is an Islamic State sympathizer and Adolph Hitler acolyte.

    While militant leader Ammon Bundy has repeatedly denied government computers were being used by militants, OPB has again confirmed that Department of Interior computers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are being accessed, and in this instance, being used to make a website for the occupation.

    One of the militants occupying the refuge posted video of himself using the computer.

    Occupier David Fry said he drove from Ohio – through a blinding winter storm – to help Bundy and his supporters.

    The website he created contains video and audio of Fry at the refuge, as well as a “List of Serious Injustice” and a link to buy fellow militant LaVoy Finicum’s mystery novel.

    Fry tells OPB he knew the militants who have occupied the refuge “were pretty good people.”

    “It was (a) miracle, that I got here,” Fry said Tuesday. “I’ve had quarrels with the government myself, and I feel there has to be some point where people have to put their foot down against the problems.”

    Fry didn’t say when he arrived, but he’s set up shop in a building the militants want to turn into a media center, according to Finicum. Fry said he knows “a little bit” about computers.

    “I’m just here to document what’s going on (at the compound),” Fry said.

    Fry’s Google+ account shows the Ohio man regularly posts anti-Semitic, homophobic, and pro-Nazi propaganda on social media.

    Fry also posts in support of ISIS.

    “ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS FOR ISIS TO NUKE ISRAELHELL!” he wrote on the site Nov. 30.

    When asked to explain his feelings about Israel and ISIS, Fry spoke at length of government conspiracies, plots against multiple countries, Sept. 11, court records, computer viruses on Japanese computers, Fukushima and a Jewish conspiracy against the free world that involves causing nuclear meltdowns.

    “One week before Fukushima happened, an Israeli security team installing security equipment was there at Fukushima,” Fry said.

    He went on to tell OPB that he got the government computers running using flash drives with Linux on them.

    “I am using any computer I can use,” Fry said. “Their data is perfectly preserved … you can’t access any of that, it’s got encryption on it.”

    Fry, like other militants, said he’s frustrated with the government.

    “If you talk to a lot of the people here, everybody’s got their reason to be here, everybody’s got their quarrels with the government,” Fry said. “I see this as a good stand for America. These are really good people out here.”

    “ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS FOR ISIS TO NUKE ISRAELHELL!”
    Yeah, it doesn’t look like Bundy Brigade’s web guy is big supporter of Israel. Whether or not his shofar-blowing buddies are Christian Zionist (in which case, it’s a complicated form of support for Israel) or just a couple of guys that think shofars look cool remains an open question. For instance, maybe Ammon found a new set of golden plates or some other ancient artifact and the foundations for a whole new religion is getting started in that compound and that’s why they’re blowing the shofars. Who knows? When God is instructing you to end the tyranny of wildlife refuges anything is possible. Miraculous events can be rather confusing like that.

    Anyway, the battle trumpets were just blown and it’s time to rise. FYI.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 19, 2016, 8:11 pm
  9. With Bernie Sanders continuing to shake up not just the Democratic primaries but US political assumptions in general, one of the big questions of the day for the American electorate is whether or not American’s could ever vote for a self-declared “Democratic Socialist”. So it’s worth keeping in mind that the Bundy Brigade’s seditious antics in Oregon aren’t just a great way to showcase the incoherent nature of political philosophies behind standoff. It’s also a great excuse to highlight one of the more significant aspects of American history that’s always been relevant but has suddenly become topical too: America has always been a socialist nation to one degree or another. We’ve just been too embarrassed or confused to admit it:

    The Week
    The secret history of cowboy socialism

    Ryan Cooper

    January 14, 2016

    Few figures of American myth are more iconic than that of the American cowboy: The rugged pastoralist, squinting down from atop a faithful horse and underneath a faded Stetson. The man who can build a fire in the rain, break a horse, de-horn a bull, ride all day chasing steers, mend a fence, set a broken bone, build a cabin from cut logs, and still make it home in time to cook up a round of steaks. The man who tamed the last frontier, the great American West. He’s perhaps the signature encapsulation of the American spirit of self-reliant individualism.

    For an example of someone who clearly subscribes to the cowboy legend, look no further than the insurgent Ammon Bundy, leader of the ragtag militia that has occupied the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon for the past few weeks, with his beard, felt cowboy hat, and flannel shirts. His demands, though kooky, are straight out of the individualist tradition as well: an end to federal interference with the West, particularly government ownership of land.

    Bundy’s ideas are nonsense — but they’re no more wrong than the entire creation myth of the American West. Though there have been Americans who could survive completely unaided in the West — men like Kit Carson and Jim Bridger — there were only a handful of them, and most were at least half-crazed. No society on Earth has ever functioned wholly on self-interested individualism — and that holds doubly true for the West. From the very start to the present day, Big Government has been the very bedrock of the settlement of the American frontier.

    Before the West could be won, it first had to be stolen. Mexico still claimed sovereignty over most of the territory, so U.S. President James Polk ginned up a quick war to steal half of the unlucky country. Even afterwards, there were still tons of Indians living in the conquered territory, so U.S. authorities had to undertake a general program of ethnic cleansing to make way for white settlers. Smallpox had done the bulk of the heavy lifting there, but extensive white settlement still required the first major domestic government program in the West: the Indian Wars.

    In the West, these were a series of conflicts that began after the Civil War, as the reunited nation looked to digest the enormous territory it had recently swallowed. Not really wars in the traditional sense, they were more a series of battles, skirmishes, and massacres all driven by the same thing: white desire for land, and native desire to stay where they’d been for the last few thousand years. They all ended the same way — with the U.S. Army crushing the Indians and forcing them to sign a treaty giving up great swathes of land, which generally would be immediately breached by whites, sparking another war and another land grab.

    Once the Indians had been driven out (save for a few pitiful reservations composed of the most unproductive land in the region), white settlement was stoked with the first example of genuinely socialist policy: free land. A long series of laws gave sizable chunks of land (classically a quarter-section, or 160 acres) to individuals subject to proof that they were putting it into agricultural production. Railroads also got vast chunks as a way to fund new transportation, and mining companies could claim smaller bits with mineral reserves.

    As Marc Reisner details in his history Cadillac Desert, this is the basic problem with Western politics, even up to the present day. It has been from the very start handicapped by the reality that only extensive federal government projects could possibly facilitate the settlement and development of the region, but it has been too wedded to the cowboy mythology to admit it.

    But instead of coming to terms with reality, and building quality government institutions to ensure the programs functioned properly, Western politicians simply grafted massive federal subsides onto their beloved cowboy individualism. Unsurprisingly, the result was usually poor.

    After the end of the homesteading era, the government asserted federal control over the remaining unclaimed land. Some was reserved for national parks and monuments but, as Christopher Ketcham writes, the bulk of it was turned over to agencies like the Grazing Service and the General Land Office, which would eventually become the Bureau of Land Management. Under Western pressure, these were immediately captured by the big ranching barons, granting them grazing rights at a fraction of the market rate (meaning much of the management work carried out by these agencies had to be paid out of federal coffers). The effects on the land’s long-term health were disastrous.

    This brings us to the final and starkest example of Western socialism: the delivery of water. What people tend to forget in the age of electricity and automobiles is that the West is mostly a huge desert, some of it harsh in the extreme. Private and even state-level efforts to develop water resources sufficient to support Western agriculture and mass settlement repeatedly failed all throughout the Gilded Age, leading to the passage of the Reclamation Act in 1902. It would end with the government building, owning, and operating key economic institutions throughout the West.

    Government water projects through the 1920s were largely a mess, as inexperienced bureaucrats ran headlong into the difficult realities of Western country. But the Great Depression marked a turning point. The West found in the New Deal a political movement ambitious enough to attempt the most promising water projects, which were truly massive, and momentum was further stoked by World War II’s vast appetite for electricity to smelt aluminum. Practically overnight the Bureau of Reclamation was building some of the biggest structures ever attempted — Hoover, Grand Coulee, Shasta, and Bonneville dams, plus a slew of smaller projects — at the same time. These projects were generally completed under budget and ahead of schedule, and made reasonable policy sense. To this day Grand Coulee is the largest single electricity source in the entire country.

    However, this moment of rational ambition was brief. After the war was over, with Western states growing in population and their congressmen occupying key committees, the old pattern reasserted itself. Western politicians — often including the most hardcore conservatives in Congress, like Barry Goldwater — demanded water projects for cities and agriculture. These were as a rule preposterously uneconomical, sometimes even designed to produce crops the government was paying farmers elsewhere not to grow (due to price-crushing surpluses). The government built them anyway, paid for some of the deficit out of hydropower revenues, and Congress contributed the rest. For half a century water projects were one of the primary venues for pork-barrel politics, papered over with a patina of John Wayne nonsense. As Reisner writes:

    But even as the myth of the welcoming, bountiful West was shattered, the myth of the independent yeoman farmer remained intact. With huge dams built for him at public expense, and irrigation canals, and the water sold for a quarter of a cent per ton — a price which guaranteed that little of the public’s investment would ever be paid back — the West’s yeoman farmer became the embodiment of the welfare state, though he was the last to recognize it. [Cadillac Desert]

    By the 1950s all the best projects had been built; by the late 1960s all the worst ones had too. Faced with a rising tide of environmentalist fury, and basically out of places to build, the water projects machine eventually collapsed. Now, after over a decade of climate change-induced drought, the West is grudgingly attempting to reorganize its hideous water system along saner lines.

    It’s hard going, and one reason is the cowboy political tradition represented by Ammon Bundy and his pack of revolutionary wannabes, who want to pay zero in federal grazing fees and end the federal ownership of land. Even reformist Western politicians still have to tiptoe around the fact that the federal government is simply an inextricable part of how the West functions and has been since the beginning. That Bundy has confused one of the primary spigots of rancher welfare with a rancher-smashing tyranny is only a wild exaggeration of a typical view, rooted in Western myth and broader American conservatism.

    Until the West can get over its childish insistence that it can too become self-reliant, or that the federal government which supports it is somehow illegitimate, it will continue to struggle with patchy development and inept governance.

    “As Marc Reisner details in his history Cadillac Desert, this is the basic problem with Western politics, even up to the present day. It has been from the very start handicapped by the reality that only extensive federal government projects could possibly facilitate the settlement and development of the region, but it has been too wedded to the cowboy mythology to admit it.
    Yep, one of the biggest obstacle to political sanity in the US is the refusal to admit that none of us, except for a tiny handful of real survivalist, are truly “cowboys” in the mythical sense and, in turn, virtually all of us are socialists operating in an economic environment that could not function without strong government support and it’s been this way for a long, long time. The mythical time of the coyboy that Ammon Bundy wants us to return to was a combination of socialist policies and the virulent denial of such policies. It’s the kind of doublethink that should make one think twice about coyboy “Bundynomics”. Especially since, as the article below points out, it’s not the ranchers that are really in decline in Oregon…it’s the timber industry that’s been devastated. But not due to environmental regulations. It was cutting down all the old-growth and increased productivity of timber mills that undercut employment in the industry and many local economies with it. And now we have a local economy in places like Harney County where almost half of the employees are working for the government. So if places like Harney Country follow Ammon Bundy’s path to economic revitalization, they’ll basically trigger a mass unemployment crisis unless Ammon can bring the old growth forests back and somehow deautomate timber mills:

    The Guardian
    The Oregon militia revolt recipe: timber, despair and a crippling political isolation

    Even if ranchers still come into conflict with government agencies, their problems don’t explain those of Harney County – there’s still plenty of ranchable land, and the costs of grazing on public land are low

    Jason Wilson in Burns, Oregon

    Thursday 14 January 2016 09.51 EST

    Holding court in the Central Pastime, Burns’s lively hometown tavern, the city’s former mayor Len Vohs made just one request of the Guardian.

    “Please be kind to us. Things have been difficult here for a while.”

    Vohs is genial and gentle, but his request is firm and sincere. He’s clearly not sure how much more the district can take.

    It’s not just the Bundy Bunch’s occupation of the ranch he is referring to – the standoff is just a symptom of the underlying difficulties that have led some locals to give them and other militias a hearing.

    Like much of eastern Oregon, Burns and Harney County have long been in economic and demographic decline, and the future only promises more hardships. Staying may mean going down with a sinking ship, and Vohs is one of a long list of local politicians who’ve tried in vain to reverse the long-term trends affecting the region.

    But local resources are limited. The outside world often forgets that the inland west is even there, leading some to turn to savior figures – such as the Bundys – who offer simplistic and bizarre solutions to entrenched problems.

    Harney County’s lavish natural beauty only makes the cruelties visited on the town more difficult to bear; it’s the kind of western landscape makes your heart swell.

    At this time of year, the high desert plateau that occupies the northern part of the county’s 10,000 square miles is filled to the horizon with snow-clotted sagebrush. A few scattered, flat-topped buttes are the only relief in the vast expanse of Harney Basin, which bottoms out in a pair of lakes, Malheur and Harney. The former gives a name and a rationale for the national wildlife refuge now being occupied by the Bundy militia, whose leader, Ammon Bundy, has repeatedly called the reserve a “tool of tyranny”.

    The wetlands that fringe the lake are a haven for migrating waterfowl and many other bird species. It was protected by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, after plume hunters nearly drove some species to extinction. Apart from sustaining birds, the refuge seasonally brings bird-watchers to stay in Burns and surrounding areas.

    Their seasonal presence is one of a diminishing number of enterprises that bring money in. The bulk of the county’s private land – and some of the public land – is given over to another, still-lucrative pursuit: dry land ranching.

    Ranchers’ relationship with the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies has been the focus of the current protests, along with the fate of two local ranchers, the Hammonds, who have returned to jail to serve out the remainder of a mandatory minimum sentence for setting fire to refuge land.

    Even if ranchers still come into conflict with government agencies, their problems don’t explain those of Harney County. There’s still plenty of ranchable land, and the costs of grazing on public land are low. Ranching incomes are subject to the same ebbs and flows in commodity prices that they always have been, and as always, those who can’t take advantages of economies of scale struggle more.

    University of Oregon economist Tim Duy explains that the real difficulties “are less about ranching issues, and more about timber issues”. The collapse of the timber industry is what has “really pummelled” eastern Oregon.

    Until the 1980s, the major driver of Harney’s prosperity was timber products, sourced from plentiful forests, including those on public land. There were jobs in the forest and jobs in the sawmill, all well-paid despite the fact that they didn’t need high levels of education or training.

    In 1978, 768 people, or 31% of the county’s workers, were in the timber industry. At that time wages in Oregon’s timber industry were worth 40% more than the state’s average wage. People had high incomes, low prices and high standards of living in jobs that “you didn’t need a college degree for, or even a high school diploma for”. Harney’s heyday was an artefact of a strong, confident, and relatively wealthy working class.

    Then, from the 1980s, body blows began raining down on the timber trade. First, the Reagan recession, which kicked off the decline. An increasing environmental consciousness meant that public land was managed in the interests not just of primary industries, but of native species like trees and the animals who live in them. Much federal land was closed off to logging.

    While the protection of the Spotted Owl and old growth timber has had some effect on the regional economy, many locals and those who are agitating in the community overstate it.

    Blaming the economic pain of the region on environmentalism leads to easy scapegoating of the government agencies that try to balance environmental values with economic uses.

    Most of the especially lucrative old-growth timber was gone before anyone thought of protecting what was left. Duh says it was “a one-time shot”. Second-growth forest was “easier to deal with with less labour”. More importantly, timber mills became “more productive” – they mechanised many of their processes, and required fewer workers. Other factors such as competition with Canadian timber played a role.

    Even in a best-case scenario, where timber jobs still existed, Harney’s position relative to Portland and other places in the Willamette Valley would be reduced, because the economy has changed.

    The transition to high-skilled white-collar jobs drew income and population to cities. As private sector jobs have declined, government employment has increased. Despite the opposition to the federal government, 44% of jobs are in government. Without them the county would have even fewer inhabitants than it’s current 7,500.

    Duy doesn’t see any easy solutions. “I don’t know that anyone has found a magic bullet that can resolve these economic challenges. And it’s easier to move people to jobs than jobs to people.”

    In these circumstances – where people have little political or economic power, not much sway in state or national government, limited ability or desire to move, and not a lot of hope – frustrations can boil over. In a prosperous community, the kitchen table lawyers and weekend warriors in the militia movement would not get a hearing.

    Jessica Campbell of the Rural Organizing Project – which supports progressive organizing in rural Oregon in direct opposition to right wing groups – notes that “we are definitely seeing some patterns emerge around the armed occupation of public land.”

    What are the kindnesses we can offer communities like Burns? As the siege drags on in the Malheur national wildlife refuge, the question has become far more urgent.

    “What are the kindnesses we can offer communities like Burns? As the siege drags on in the Malheur national wildlife refuge, the question has become far more urgent.”
    well, there’s one obvious “kindness” that the rest of the us can offer rural America and it’s the same thing that helped create and sustain rural America all along: more socialism. just think of it as ‘All American’ kindness towards itself, which isn’t even “kindness” at that point but basic self-interest because a quality socialist government that collectively looks out for everyone is in an individual Americans’ self-interest. It might seem like doublethink…as long as you don’t think about it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 20, 2016, 1:41 pm
  10. It’s Day 21 of the Bundy Brigade’s armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and it looks like the FBI has been attempting to directly negotiate with Ammon Bundy to find a peaceful end to the standoff, but not very successfully. Those negotiations appear to have broken down when the FBI refused to conduct them in front of the media. Also, Ammon Bundy insists that the FBI has no constitutional authority to conduct a negotiation since the only authority he recognizes is the county sheriff anyway. The fact that the Harney County sheriff issued a statement three days ago that said “We will continue to work with our partners to keep Harney County safe while the FBI works toward a peaceful resolution at the refuge” also doesn’t appear to have punctured Bundy’s alternate reality bubble. So Day 21 is pretty much exactly like days 1-20, except Paiute archaeological sites are now getting turned into roads:

    KTVZ.COM
    Takeover Day 21: Bundy talks again with FBI, rejects private meeting
    Returns to Burns Airport, says sheriff must authorize FBI’s actions

    From The Associated Press and KTVZ.COM news sources
    POSTED: 1:43 PM PST January 21, 2016 UPDATED: 2:37 PM PST January 22, 2016

    BURNS, Ore. –

    As the third week of an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge leader Ammon Bundy went back to the Burns Airport for a second day and again talked to a hostage negotiator on the phone, but rejected his terms for a face to face meeting.

    Here’s Bundy remarks to reporters after his conversation by cellphone with the FBI hostage negotiator referred to as “Chris”:

    “I talked to him briefly but I told him I would continue it here. I kind of feel that if he doesn’t even have authorization to come here without getting a bunch of permission from whoever he gets permission from, then he’s probably not really the one that we need to talk to.

    “If he can’t permission to travel to Bend so we can see each other, I don’t know what he’s going to do, other than just gather information somehow.

    The question that I asked him was, I think we the people, and the people of Harney County, I believe, should have the right to see if their sheriff gave you authority to be doing what you’re doing. And that should be written authority.

    “Because your actions here, and what you’ve done to this airport and all of that, and mounting up, must be according to the Constitution under the jurisdiction of the sheriff or you do not have authorization to be here.

    “Second, what are your marching orders from the sehriff, if you will — what has he sanctioned you to do? So that we can understand that, and what laws you’re acting on, where the people have given you the authority to do what you’re doing.

    “The conversation I had with him. I really dont think at this point, even having another phone conversation here without him would be beneficial.

    “He, of course, wanted to do it in private, if he was going to meet face to face. I think the people have a right to hear that. I think we both, myself and the FBI, should be accountable to the people, so the press should be invited to that, there should be full disclosure there, transparency.

    “But ultimately, if you’re not acting under the authority of the sheriff that the people of Harney County elected and that secures their rights, that’s another constitutional violation. And if you haven’t got sanction from the sheriff, there’s no reason for me to be talking to you. I need to just go down to the sheriff and talk to him.

    The FBI said Thursday its response to the occupation of the has been cautious because authorities want to avoid violence.

    The agency issued a brief statement — its first since the takeover began Jan. 2 — which reads, in full:

    “The FBI recognizes that many in the community have questions about why we are here and our role in helping to end the occupation of the wildlife refuge.

    “We are here to work closely with Sheriff Ward and our local, state and federal partners to protect the safety and welfare of this community.

    “This occupation has caused tremendous disruption and hardship for the people of Harney County, and our response has been deliberate and measured as we seek a peaceful resolution.”

    On Thursday, with reporters watching, Bundy first spoke on the phone, apparently with an FBI negotiator. The nearly hour-long conversation was streamed online by another member of Bundy’s group.

    Bundy said his group is “not going to escalate” the situation, and he agreed to speak with authorities again Friday.

    Meanwhile, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported the armed occupiers of the refuge are continuing to use government equipment at the complex to clear areas, drawing scorn from federal officials..

    One militant, who refused to give his name, again plowed dirt with a refuge bulldozer Wednesday. OPB said he wouldn’t say why he was operating the machinery, but in several places, sagebrush and vegetation had been newly removed, leaving wide patches of bare mud.

    The new road connects a bunkhouse with another road. When asked about the construction, the militant claimed that the road was already there, and that militants had only removed snow from the path.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed Thursday that not only is the road built last week by the occupiers new, but it is also within an archaeological site important to the Burns Paiute Tribe.

    The agency said the action is likely a violation of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, also known as the ARPA.

    “But ultimately, if you’re not acting under the authority of the sheriff that the people of Harney County elected and that secures their rights, that’s another constitutional violation. And if you haven’t got sanction from the sheriff, there’s no reason for me to be talking to you. I need to just go down to the sheriff and talk to him.
    And sure enough, Ammon Bundy made his way to the Sheriff Ward’s office, where they once again informed him that the sheriff is working with the FBI:

    Associated Press
    Ammon Bundy media demands nixed by FBI
    Militia took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2, 2016
    KEITH RIDLER, Associated Press Published: January 22, 2016, 11:38 am Updated: January 22, 2016, 4:30 pm

    BURNS, Ore. (AP) — The leader of an armed group occupying a national wildlife refuge in Oregon met briefly with a federal agent Friday, but left because the agent wouldn’t talk with him in front of the media.

    The short meeting occurred as the standoff over federal land use policies stretches to the three-week mark and as Oregon officials are putting increased pressure on federal authorities to take action against Ammon Bundy’s group.

    Bundy arrived at the airport in Burns late Friday morning, where the FBI has set up a staging area. On Thursday, Bundy went to the airport and spoke to an FBI negotiator over the phone. They agreed to speak again Friday, but Bundy left shortly after he arrived because the FBI agent he spoke with said federal authorities wanted any conversation to be private.

    Bundy wants face-to-face conversations in front of reporters.

    “I really don’t think, at this point, even having another phone conversation here without him would be beneficial,” Bundy said before leaving.

    He also questioned the FBI’s authority.

    “If you haven’t got sanction from the sheriff, there’s no reason to be talking to you,” Bundy said.

    On Thursday, Bundy met with the FBI. With reporters watching, he spoke on the phone, apparently with an FBI negotiator. The conversation was streamed online by another member of Bundy’s group.

    Bundy said his group is “not going to escalate” the situation, and he agreed to speak with authorities again Friday.

    But that meeting was very short, and he drove directly to the sheriff’s office.But he did not meet with Sheriff Ward as he was stopped at the gate because he arrived unannounced.

    Bundy is upset the FBI had set up what he calls “a standing army.” The sheriff’s deputies made it clear local authorities and federal officials are working together.

    Deputies and law enforcement officials refused to argue, so he left.

    The FBI did not immediately comment on Friday’s meeting with Bundy, but said in a statement Thursday their “response has been deliberate and measured as we seek a peaceful resolution.”

    At 4 p.m., two ranchers from other states are expected to rescind their land-grazing agreements with the federal government in a signing ceremony at in the Malheur Refuge conference center.

    On Wednesday, LaVoy Finicum, the Arizona rancher who is the de facto spokesperson for the militia occupying the Malheur refuge, said he and Cliven Bundy — Ammon’s father — are the only 2 ranchers who so far have rescinded their land-use rights to the federal government.

    This signing ceremony “will double the amount of ranchers” standing up for their rights, he said.

    The armed group announced plans to open up the 300-square-mile refuge for cattle this spring.

    “Bundy is upset the FBI had set up what he calls “a standing army.” The sheriff’s deputies made it clear local authorities and federal officials are working together.
    Yes, the armed occupiers threatening to fight to the death if attempts are made to remove them are complaining about the FBI’s “standing army.” So they were no doubt thrilled by the prospect of doubling the number of ranchers who have pledged to stand with them, going from two (Lavoy Finicum and Cliven Bundy) to four ranchers whole ranchers who refuse to recognize the federal government! Woohoo!


    At 4 p.m., two ranchers from other states are expected to rescind their land-grazing agreements with the federal government in a signing ceremony at in the Malheur Refuge conference center.

    On Wednesday, LaVoy Finicum, the Arizona rancher who is the de facto spokesperson for the militia occupying the Malheur refuge, said he and Cliven Bundy — Ammon’s father — are the only 2 ranchers who so far have rescinded their land-use rights to the federal government.

    This signing ceremony “will double the amount of ranchers” standing up for their rights, he said.

    The armed group announced plans to open up the 300-square-mile refuge for cattle this spring.

    It will be interesting to learn if the two ranchers are already part of the Bundy Brigade or not. It will also be interesting to see if the two decide to stay at the standoff. The Bundy Brigade is presumably going to need all the manpower they can get to once they open up the 300-square-mile “refuge for cattle” they’re planning on opening this spring. After all, it’s a refuge. It’s not like they’re going to want a bunch of random people who don’t belong there trashing the place and threatening the cattle.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 22, 2016, 6:00 pm
  11. Ammon Bundy released another video today where he once again tried to explain to the world why all sorts of people should be supporting his cause, including everyone from hunters, to hikers, campers, birdwatchers, and everyone! The Bundy Brigade is simply there to ensure everyone gets to enjoy that land according to Ammon. It’s an odd statement when you consider their previous declarations that they’re going to set up a 300 square mile “cattle refuge” and give as much public land to private ranchers and loggers as they can, but it’s not exactly out of character. It’s also the kind of public statement that just might be the Bundy Brigade’s standoff more politically palatable to the politicians who rallied around Cliven Bundy’s 2014 standoff but have largely kept their distance so far (although not entirely). And don’t forget that the Trump campaign has a staffer at the current standoff who was a part of the 2014 standoff.

    So the idea that the standoff in Oregon could become an issue in the 2016 political races isn’t entirely outlandish. And, interestingly, Donald Trump recently gave an interview to Field & Stream Magazine that could end up doing exactly that. While the armed standoff in Oregon didn’t specifically come up in the interview, the idea of transferring federal lands back to the states or even privatizing them was discussed. And let’s just say that hunters, fishers, and conservationists should be quite pleased with Trump’s take on the topic. The Bundy Brigade, however, isn’t going to like what they hear. The Koch-financed Bundy fan club and anyone else that wants to see the federal lands of the West deregulated and sold off may not be too thrilled either:

    Field & Stream
    Q&A: Donald Trump on Guns, Hunting, and Conservation

    January 21, 2016, Las Vegas, Nevada

    On the third evening of the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show, editorial director of Field & Stream and Outdoor Life, Anthony Licata, interviewed Donald Trump on issues important to sportsmen and women. Trump came to the interview, on the 36th floor of the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas, with his son Donald Trump Jr., who is an avid hunter and shooter.

    Here’s the Republican presidential candidate’s take on President Obama’s recent executive orders on firearms, the privatization of federal lands, Hillary Clinton, and hunting with his sons.

    Anthony Licata: Thank you very much for agreeing to meet with Field & Stream and Outdoor Life to talk about…

    Donald Trump: Great magazine.

    AL: Thank you very much. I guess the first thing I’d like to ask is, are you a gun owner, a hunter? The two of you?

    DT: I do have a gun, and I have a concealed-carry permit, actually, which is a very hard thing to get in New York. And, of course, the problem is once you get to the border line of New Jersey or anyplace else, you can’t do it, which is ridiculous, because I’m a very big Second Amendment person. But I do have a gun, and my sons are major hunters, and I’m a member of the NRA.

    AL: Do you hunt with your sons? How did they get into the sports?

    DT: Well, they got in and just loved it. And their grandfather was a hunter, and he would take them hunting as young boys, and they just loved it. They have a tremendous passion for it. And I don’t devote very much time to it because I’m so busy with everything, but Eric and Don absolutely love it, and they’re expert at it. They’re expert shots, and they’re expert at it.

    AL: I’d like to talk about public land. Seventy percent of hunters in the West hunt on public lands managed by the federal government. Right now, there’s a lot of discussion about the federal government transferring those lands to states and the divesting of that land. Is that something you would support as President?

    DT: I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold. We have to be great stewards of this land. This is magnificent land. And we have to be great stewards of this land. And the hunters do such a great job—I mean, the hunters and the fishermen and all of the different people that use that land. So I’ve been hearing more and more about that. And it’s just like the erosion of the Second Amendment. I mean, every day you hear Hillary Clinton wants to essentially wipe out the Second Amendment. We have to protect the Second Amendment, and we have to protect our lands.

    AL: If you were elected President, would you reverse the executive orders that President Obama announced on guns recently?

    DT: Yes, I would do it. I think it’s ridiculous. I think, number one, if you are going to do anything—and I don’t think you should do anything, because we have enough rules and balances and checks—you have to go through Congress. You can’t just write an executive order and sign it. You’re supposed to talk to the congressmen who represent a lot of your readers, and, you know, they have to sort of say “Let’s do this” or “Let’s do that.” You don’t do an executive order. But I’m for doing nothing. You know, it’s a mental-health problem, right? And the guns aren’t pulling the triggers, okay. It’s the people that are pulling the triggers. We have a big mental-health problem. And they’re closing up all of the hospitals, all of the institutions, and that’s our problem. And so I would absolutely reverse many of his executive orders beyond this, many of his executive orders.

    AL: Let me ask you this—back to conservation and access for hunters’ rights to get on public land. One of the things that we’ve found is so much of this campaign—not your campaign, but this election cycle—has talked about cutting budgets and reducing the federal government. And what the budget is for managing public lands right now is at one percent. In 1970, it was two percent. Would you continue to push that number down for wildlife conservation or would you look to invest more?

    DT: I don’t think there’s any reason to. And I will say—and I’ve heard this from many of my friends who are really avid hunters and I’ve heard it from my sons who are avid hunters—that the lands are not maintained the way they were by any stretch of the imagination. And we’re going to get that changed; we’re going to reverse that. And the good thing is, I’m in a family where I have—I mean, I’m a member of the NRA, but I have two longtime members of the NRA. They’ve been hunting from the time they were five years old and probably maybe even less than that. And they really understand it. And I like the fact that, you know, I can sort of use them in terms of—they know so much about every single element about every question that you’re asking. And one of the things they’ve complained about for years is how badly the federal lands are maintained, so we’ll get that changed.

    Donald Trump Jr.: It’s really all about access. I mean, I feel like the side that’s the anti-hunting crowd, they’re trying to eliminate that access—make it that much more difficult for people to get the next generation in. For me, hunting and fishing kept me out of so much other trouble I would’ve gotten into throughout my life. It’s just so important to be able to maintain that, so that next generation gets into it. And it’s the typical liberal death by a thousand cuts: “We’ll make it a little harder here. Make it a little harder here. We won’t spend the money there.” And it’s not just about hunting—it’s about fishing; it’s about hiking; it’s about access; it’s about being able to get in there and enjoy the outdoors and enjoy those great traditions that are so, you know, so much the foundation of America. And we’d be against anything like that. And frankly, it’d be about refunding those—making sure those lands are maintained properly; making sure they’re not going into private hands to be effectively walled off to the general public. And that’s something really important to us.

    AL: Absolutely. How would you balance energy exploration and extraction on public lands? How would you balance that with the need for recreation and multiple use? Right now, gas prices are low, but they might not stay that way.

    DT: Well, I’m very much into energy, and I’m very much into fracking and drilling, and we never want to be hostage again to OPEC and go back to where we were. And right now, we’re at a very interesting point because right now there’s so much energy. And I’ve always said it—there’s so much energy. And new technology has found that. And maybe that’s an advantage and maybe—actually, it’s more of an advantage in terms of your question, because we don’t have to do the kind of drilling that we did. But I am for energy exploration, as long as we don’t do anything to damage the land. And right now we don’t need too much; there’s a lot of energy.

    I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold. We have to be great stewards of this land. This is magnificent land. And we have to be great stewards of this land. And the hunters do such a great job—I mean, the hunters and the fishermen and all of the different people that use that land. So I’ve been hearing more and more about that. And it’s just like the erosion of the Second Amendment. I mean, every day you hear Hillary Clinton wants to essentially wipe out the Second Amendment. We have to protect the Second Amendment, and we have to protect our lands.”
    Yes, the Donald just equated attempts to transfer federal lands to state control to gun control over fears that the states would mismanage or privatize the land. The slogan, “We have to protect the Second Amendment, and we have to protect our lands,” sure is unexpected for the leading GOP candidate of 2016.

    And to add insult to GOP injury, he backing for the idea of more drilling and fracking was sort of half-assed:


    Well, I’m very much into energy, and I’m very much into fracking and drilling, and we never want to be hostage again to OPEC and go back to where we were. And right now, we’re at a very interesting point because right now there’s so much energy. And I’ve always said it—there’s so much energy. And new technology has found that. And maybe that’s an advantage and maybe—actually, it’s more of an advantage in terms of your question, because we don’t have to do the kind of drilling that we did. But I am for energy exploration, as long as we don’t do anything to damage the land. And right now we don’t need too much; there’s a lot of energy.

    As we can see, the same candidate who got Sarah ‘drill baby drill’ Palin’s endorsement last week just told Field & Stream that he’s all for energy exploration, as long as it doesn’t damage the environment (and not too much now anyway since there’s so much energy).

    Now, keep in mind that Trump also declared back in August that he would approve the Keystone XL pipeline immediately because it would cause no environmental damage. So it’s not like Trump’s declared concerns over environmental damage should be taken seriously. At the same time, Trump later came out against the Keystone pipeline in November on the grounds that it wasn’t a good enough deal, arguing that the US should impose a 25 percent (or greater) tax on the pipeline’s profits. Trumps casual assessment of the pipeline’s environmental damage may have been music to the ears of folks like the Kochs, but a proposed 25 percent tax on the profits made to move their precious tar sand oil to international markets had to give them pause.

    Beyond being an interesting example of Donald Trump’s ability to defy political GOP primary conventional wisdom, you have to wonder if Trump’s strong backing of federal management of lands just gave his biggest rival, Ted Cruz, an irresistible opening that could end up dragging the Bundy Standoff into the national debate. After all, Ted Cruz’s stance on these topics of federal land ownership are basically the opposite:

    Las Vegas Review-Journal

    Cruz favors returning federal land to states — VIDEO

    By Ben Botkin
    Posted December 14, 2015 – 10:08pm
    Updated December 14, 2015 – 11:24pm

    Republican candidate Ted Cruz said Monday that if elected president, he would fight to transfer federal land in Nevada and elsewhere into the states’ hands.

    Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, made his comments to the Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board, a day before he debates other GOP candidates at The Venetian in a nationally televised event on CNN.

    More than 80 percent of Nevada is in federal hands, much of it through agencies that include the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service.

    “I think it is completely indefensible that the federal government is America’s largest landlord,” Cruz said. “… I believe we should transfer as much federal land as possible back to the states and ideally back to the people.”

    Exceptions that should stay in federal hands include national parks and federal military bases, he said.

    “If I am elected president, we have never had a president who is as vigorously committed to transferring as much federal land as humanely possible back to the states and back to the people,” said Cruz.

    “I think it is completely indefensible that the federal government is America’s largest landlord… I believe we should transfer as much federal land as possible back to the states and ideally back to the people.
    If Cruz wanted to draw a contrast on a issue near and dear to the voters in a number of Western states this is a pretty big gimme! Especially since when it comes to to handing federal land over to the states to be privatized Ted Cruz is far from the only GOPer to back that position, as evidenced by the volume of GOPers backing the original Bundy standoff. And also as evidenced by the fact that the head of House Natural Resources Committee launched the “Federal Land Action Group” just last year for the purpose of turning over federal land to the states:

    Think Progress
    GOP House Leaders Create ‘Action Group’ To Seize And Sell America’s Public Lands

    by Claire Moser – Guest Contributor May 1, 2015 12:46 pm

    A group of Republican congressmen this week took an aggressive step in a campaign to seize and sell off America’s national forests and other public lands.

    In launching what they are calling the “Federal Land Action Group,” Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) plan to develop a legislative framework for giving states control of America’s public lands. Calling the federal government a “lousy landlord for western states,” Rep. Stewart said “we simply think the states can do it better.”

    Bishop, who is also chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, said that “this group will explore legal and historical background in order to determine the best congressional action needed to return these lands back to the rightful owners.”

    This latest effort to transfer or dispose of national forests and public lands was immediately blasted by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee, as being unwise, unpopular, and illegal.

    “Building on the ideas of extremists like Cliven Bundy, House Republicans have formed a group to explore the idea that if you see a federal resource you like, maybe you can just take it,” said Grijalva in a statement. “There is no legal authority to give these lands away to developers and no chance the American people will support such a scheme.”

    In addition to Bishop and Stewart, the group’s “Congressional team” includes Representatives Mark Amodei (R-NV), Diane Black (R-TN), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Cresent Hardy (R-NV), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY). Bishop, who has long advocated for state seizure of America’s national forests and other public lands, has recently found more creative ways of pushing his Cliven Bundy-inspired agenda forward.

    Earlier this week, Bishop attached a provision to a defense spending bill to delay the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from protecting the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act for at least 10 years. In addition to putting the bird at high risk of extinction, the measure would turn over management authority of 60 million acres of the bird’s habitat on U.S. public lands to individual states — an area 27 times the size Yellowstone National Park.

    In a letter to House leaders, 26 environmental groups called the provision a “brazen power grab of federal lands.”

    Rep. Bishop and his “Federal Land Action Group” are not alone in their efforts to seize and sell America’s public lands. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Lisa Murkowski, have been vocal proponents of such proposals in the U.S. Senate. Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) also recently introduced the “American Land Act,” which would force the Department of the Interior to sell one-third of the land managed by the National Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, and use the “potentially billions” of dollars in revenue for transportation infrastructure.

    Despite being considered unconstitutional by legal scholars, similar proposals to seize control of America’s public lands have been introduced by right-wing lawmakers in eleven western states — Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming and Washington.

    Thanks to support from the Koch-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and front groups for the oil industry’s PR giant, Richard Berman, as well as increasing lobbying by the Utah-based American Lands Council, these proposals have now gained prominence at the national level.

    Even with the increase in activity, bipartisan public opinion research has shown that Western voters from all political parties oppose these proposals, and believe that transferring control of public lands to state governments would result in reduced access for recreation, and the lands being sold off to the highest bidder to cover extreme costs of management.

    “Despite being considered unconstitutional by legal scholars, similar proposals to seize control of America’s public lands have been introduced by right-wing lawmakers in eleven western states — Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming and Washington.”
    While Ted Cruz’s land policies don’t appear to have the backing of constitutional scholars, they still clearly have plenty of backing, especially from the Kochs. At the same time…


    Even with the increase in activity, bipartisan public opinion research has shown that Western voters from all political parties oppose these proposals, and believe that transferring control of public lands to state governments would result in reduced access for recreation, and the lands being sold off to the highest bidder to cover extreme costs of management.

    Yep, unless you’re likely to make money off of the handover of federal lands, there’s a good chance you don’t actually support the idea. Because why would you? The federal lands that the entire US public gets to enjoy would just ends up getting trashed by companies like Koch Industries or outright privatized.

    And that’s part of what it will be so interesting if a Trump/Cruz fight erupts over this issue. Unlike most of the GOP primary this far, which has focused on Trump trolling his opponents over their personalities, this federal lands issue is a real source of policy conflict.

    And here’s where the situation could get really weird: if Trump throws his weight behind keeping federal lands in federal hands and basically champions hunters and other natural recreation lovers, we could end up with not one armed standoff at teh refuge, but two. Why? Because it’s the hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts that are among those that would be most directly impacted if the Bundy/GOP federal lands handover and hunters do know how to handle a gun. And since the Bundy Brigade has already invested itself in normalizing the use of threats of violence as a means of resolving political disputes, it’s not impossible that a group of hunters seeing their public lands about to be stolen away aren’t going get similar ideas. For instance, just imagine if the following group of hunters were rabid Trump supporters:

    OPB
    Watch: Hunters Push Back, Tear Down Militants’ Sign At Malheur Refuge

    by Bradley W. Parks OPB | Jan. 14, 2016 4:30 p.m. | Updated: Jan. 15, 2016 11 a.m.

    A group of Oregon sportsmen are attempting to drum up a formal opposition to the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon.

    Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, a sportsmen’s group based in Joseph, Oregon, posted a video to its Facebook page Tuesday showing a man tearing a makeshift sign used by militants to cover a refuge sign.

    The occupiers have rebranded the refuge, so to say, by covering signs with new signage and American flags. The militants are calling the refuge the Harney County Resource Center.

    In the video released by the sportsmen, they say by tearing down the sign they are “removing extremist attempts to grab our public lands.”

    Militants led by brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy have occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge since Jan. 2. They are the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

    After tearing down the sign, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Washington member Mark Heckert said he doesn’t think public access to the refuge would last under oversight by the Bundys and their supporters.

    “It’s a baldfaced grab at the lands that belong to the people of the United States,” Heckert said.

    “I can guarantee what that means is that pretty soon they’ll start saying, ‘Well, you guys can’t come out on this land because it’s ranchland.’”

    Backcountry Hunters & Anglers also posted an online pledge to “Keep Public Lands In Public Hands,” which has so far gathered nearly 8,000 pledges.

    “I can guarantee what that means is that pretty soon they’ll start saying, ‘Well, you guys can’t come out on this land because it’s ranchland.’”
    That hunter seems to know what’s up! So you have to wonder how many other hunters are going to come to similar conclusions should the standoff drag on.

    It’s that hunters/outdoor recreationalist vs ranchers/loggers/Kochs conflict that give the Bundy standoff real potential to impact the GOP primaries. As opposed to most of the GOP primary conflicts over personality, which mostly serves to obscure the fact that they’re all basically running to be the third term of the George W. Bush presidency, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have a real policy differences! And this difference over federal land policies overlaps well with the other line of attack Ted Cruz has recently used against Trump: Donald Trump’s support of the government’s use of eminent domain, which has become one of Cruz’s key lines of attack on Trump’s support.

    So we have Ted Cruz, and much of the GOPers from Western states, supporting the proposition of basically giving federal land to the states for aggressive resource extraction and privatization while Donald Trump opposes the idea of handing federal lands over to states on the grounds that they would be mismanaged and/or privatized. Ted opposes eminent domain, while Trump even made the case to a crowd in Iowa a few days ago that if they want to see the Keystone Pipeline get built it’s going to require the use of eminent domain. That sure looks like a real possible opening for Ted as he scrambles to topple Trump. Especially in the Western states where the Cruz/Bundy approach to land management is going to have a lot more popular support.

    So who knows, maybe the Bundy Brigade’s antics are about to enter the 2016 race. The 2016 political issue/debate terrain sure is ripe for at least one of the GOPers running for president to embrace the larger “give all federal lands to the states” issue, if not embrace Ammon Bundy himself. It’s a potential divide and conquer tactic that’s just sitting there. Sure, armed standoffs are potentially political kryptonite, but there’s nothing stopping a politicians like Ted Cruz, who supported Cliven Bundy’s standoff in 2014 but recently chastised Ammon Bundy over the current standoff, from saying something like “I support the cause they stand for, just not their tactics”.

    Of course, if the Bundy Brigade’s standoff ends in bloodshed with someone killed, lending even indirect support is going to be a lot harder for Ted Cruz or anyone else unless it turns out that the bloodshed was completely the fault of the government. So with that in mind, it’s worth noting that Ammon Bundy and group of other militia members were just arrested today while they were traveling. A shootout took place and one of his fellow militiamen, Lavoy Finicum, was killed. If it turns out that the authorities engaged in some sort of outrageous tactic that resulted in unnecessary bloodshed we just might end up seeing all sorts of politicians rallying to the Bundy Brigade’s cause like they did for Ammon’s father in 2014. But even if it doesn’t turn out that authorities were at fault for Finicum’s death, simply having the standoff end might alone make federal land rights more likely to become an issue GOPers embrace. The standoff basically tainted whole topic but that taint may be lifting.

    We’ll see. Either way, it looks like the standoff is probably over.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 26, 2016, 8:00 pm
  12. Well, it doesn’t look like the arrest of the Bundy Brigade’s core leadership and death of LaVoy Finicum is encouraging the remaining dozen or so armed occupiers remaining at the refuge headquarters to stand down and leave. Quite the opposite:

    The Los Angeles Times
    Remaining Oregon protesters issue death threats: ‘This is a free-for-all Armageddon’

    By Matt Pearce
    January 27, 2016, 3:52 PM

    As law enforcement surrounded the remaining protesters at an Oregon wildlife refuge Wednesday, an armed occupier urged supporters to join them and to kill any law enforcement officer who tried prevent their entry, according to a livestream that has been broadcasting from the site.

    “There are no laws in this United States now! This is a free-for-all Armageddon!” a heavyset man holding a rifle yelled into a camera that was broadcasting a livestream from the refuge Wednesday morning, adding that if “they stop you from getting here, kill them!”

    A second man cooed to the camera in a sing-song voice, “What you gonna do, what you gonna do when the militia comes after you, FBI?”

    The FBI declined to release any details about how a spokesman for the protest group was killed during a confrontation with federal and state agencies a day earlier, citing a policy of not commenting on shooting incidents while they are under review.

    The sudden move to arrest ranking protest leaders on a rural stretch of highway Tuesday afternoon was “a very deliberate and measured response” to the armed occupation that had lasted since Jan. 2 with no end in sight, Gregory T. Bretzing, special agent in charge of Portland’s FBI division, said at a Wednesday morning news conference.

    “We’ve worked diligently to bring the situation” at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore., to “a peaceful end,” Bretzing said.

    He added that the FBI and Oregon State Police’s surprise arrests of protesters confronted outside the refuge Tuesday was deliberately carried far from county residents and that agents were cognizant of “removing the threat of danger from anybody who might be present.”

    But he said he could not release details about how protester spokesman and Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was killed, citing an ongoing investigation. A pair of unverified videos from a man and a woman who claimed to be traveling with the protesters when they were arrested said that Finicum was shot after he sped away from law enforcement during a traffic stop.

    Several members of the group — including one of its most prominent leaders, Ammon Bundy, 40 — were expected to make their initial appearance in federal court Wednesday afternoon to face charges of government intimidation.

    Meanwhile, the standoff continues.

    On Wednesday morning, law enforcement blocked the roads around the refuge, where armed protesters were still operating heavy machinery and refusing to leave, according to an activist’s livestream from the surrounded site.

    The FBI and Oregon State Police’s “containment procedure” is likely aimed at preventing more armed activists from bolstering the holdouts at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, as well as keeping track of anyone who decides to leave. A group in contact with the occupiers, the Pacific Patriots Network, urged supporters to “stand by” as it urged peace and gathered more information about what was happening. Activist Jason Patrick told Oregon Public Radio that about seven to 12 occupiers remained at the refuge.

    “This has been tearing our community apart,” Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward said of the armed occupation at Wednesday’s news conference, where he urged “everybody in this illegal occupation to move on.”

    “There doesn’t have to be bloodshed in our community,” Ward said. “We have issues with the way things are going in our government, we have a responsibility as citizens to act on those in an appropriate manner.

    “We don’t arm up — we don’t arm up and rebel. We work through the appropriate channels. This can’t happen anymore. This can’t happen in America, and this can’t happen in Harney County.”

    On Tuesday, law enforcement stopped a group of occupiers who had temporarily left the occupied refuge, apparently to attend a community meeting.

    “Multiple agencies, law enforcement agencies, put a lot of work into doing the best tactical plan they could to take these guys down peacefully and find some resolution to these issues in our community,” Ward said. He added of what happened next: “It didn’t have to happen. We all make choices in life. Sometimes our choices go bad.”

    Gunfire broke out when the FBI and the Oregon State Police intercepted Ammon Bundy and several of his supporters on a rural stretch of U.S. Highway 395 about halfway between the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the town of John Day.

    “It was planned in an area that would minimize injury to others and to law enforcement,” said a law enforcement official who requested anonymity to discuss an incident that was under investigation. “Authorities all along had hoped this would be resolved peacefully, and the arrestees and the decedent were all given ample opportunities to allow this end peacefully.”

    The protesters had been en route to a meeting with hundreds of Oregon residents, many of them supporters of the occupation, about 100 miles north of the refuge in the town of John Day.

    Details of what happened on the highway were scant. Officials would only say that shots were fired.

    Ammon’s brother, Ryan Bundy, 43, of Bunkerville, Nev., was shot in the arm, and the 55-year-old Finicum was killed, according to Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore.

    The void of official information about the incident has been filled by unverified videos circulating widely on social media among militia supporters.

    A man named Mark McConnell – who is Facebook friends with one of the refuge’s remaining occupiers, Jason Patrick – posted a video on Facebook early Wednesday morning that said he was driving one of the group’s vehicles and that Finicum had been driving the other.

    McConnell said that after officials arrested him and the other passengers in McConnell’s vehicle – which included Ammon Bundy — Finicum had sped away from law enforcement while Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, and “an 18-year-old girl” were still inside.

    “LaVoy is very passionate about this, about the movement, about what we’re doing here … He was very passionate, I loved the dude … But he took off,” McConnell said in the Facebook video, who said he was released after two hours of interrogation. He said he was not among the original occupiers.

    “Don’t put speculation, don’t put nonsense out there,” McConnell said, scolding Facebook commenters who were not at the scene. “Get to business, we have work to do here, alright. Let’s not let LaVoy’s death be in vain.”

    Is the video account authentic? Maureen Peltier, who spent a week and a half at the camp and who stayed in contact with the occupiers and their supporters, said she didn’t personally know McConnell, though she said McConnell was relatively well known by other camp supporters.

    “Everybody has turned their phones off or is just not answering them. There’s a lot of people down there I don’t know where they are and if they are OK,” Peltier said. “I have never been this in the dark. I would love for America to have eyes on [what’s happening] there and help them, but I don’t know how to at this point. I can’t get their story out if they’re not talking.”

    “There are no laws in this United States now! This is a free-for-all Armageddon!…they stop you from getting here, kill them!”
    That was the message from one the dozen or so Bundy Brigade members still occupying the refuge. It’s time for suicidal anarchy! Apparently!

    And it’s that general response that’s going to make the details of what took place during the arrest that resulted in the death of Finicum potential so important for getting the rest of the militants to leave peacefully. Because while one of the members of the convey, Mark McConnell, has already posted a video that explains that Finicum, who had pledged to die before getting arrested, basically charged the police. But that’s only one of the narratives to emerge from the convoy. The 18 year old who was also in the convoy, Victoria Sharp, tells a very different tale of what took place, and it’s the kind of tale that’s not going to make a peaceful resolution for the remaining militants more likely:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive
    Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum shot and killed while charging police, driver says

    By Les Zaitz

    on January 27, 2016 at 9:45 AM, updated January 27, 2016 at 3:43 PM

    BURNS – Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, the spokesman of the refuge occupation, was shot and killed after he charged police during a roadside stop north of Burns on Tuesday, according to a man on Facebook who claims to be the driver of one of two vehicles involved in the highway shooting.

    Mark McConnell posted a video to Facebook Wednesday morning, recounting the Tuesday afternoon scene that led to Finicum’s death and the subsequent arrest of eight people involved in the Jan. 2 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. An 18-year-old in the other car involved in the shooting also shared her story on social media late Tuesday.

    The accounts emerged as police established new checkpoints on roads leading to the refuge, where an unknown number of occupiers remained. Police said only local property owners would be allowed through. The number and exact location of the checkpoints couldn’t immediately be established.

    McConnell’s account

    In his video, McConnell said Ammon Bundy and Cavalier were in the vehicle he was driving to John Day for a community meeting. He said Finicum was driving a pickup that carried Ryan Bundy, Payne, Cox and the 18-year-old woman.

    He said as they traveled on U.S. 395 police vehicles pulled in behind them and stopped them. McConnell said he was removed by police first, then Ammon Bundy then Cavalier.

    He said Finicum’s pickup was stopped about 200 yards away, and one passenger already was on the ground in handcuffs.

    McConnell said Payne and Cox later recounted how Payne and Finicum got into a “heated discussion” about what to do.

    “LaVoy was passionate about this, about the movement,” McConnell said.

    McConnell said he noticed movement, and Finicum “took off” in the pickup with the remaining passengers. He said Payne and Cox described encountering a police roadblock about a mile north on the highway and apparently tried to get around it, becoming stuck in the snow.

    “When he exited the vehicle, the rear wheels were still spinning,” McConnell said. “He charged at law enforcement” and was shot.

    McConnell disputed earlier accounts on social media that Finicum was shot while on his knees with his hands up.

    McConnell said he and the 18-year-old, Victoria Sharp, were taken to Burns for questioning and later released.

    His account couldn’t be immediately confirmed, but several details matched accounts from law enforcement sources.

    Sharp’s account

    Sharp also shared her story of what unfolded outside of Burns in a YouTube video.

    The teenager had traveled to the refuge last week with her mother and six of her siblings to sing religious and patriotic songs. Sharp said she was in the other car — separate from McConnell — because she planned to sing at the community meeting in John Day late Tuesday afternoon.

    Sharp said that Finicum was driving to the meeting and that Ryan Payne was in the passenger seat. She said she was sitting in the back seat between Ryan Bundy and Shawna Cox.

    Sharp didn’t immediately return a Facebook message seeking comment.

    In a 12-minute audio-only video on YouTube, Sharp said that after they were stopped by police, Payne was trying to get her and Cox safely out of the car when police took their first shot.

    “He put his hands out the window, he was trying to talk with them,” said Sharp, who was raised in Kansas but lists on her Facebook page that she is currently living in Montana.

    “Ryan (Payne) said, ‘We have women in the car, let the women out,” she said, “He stuck his head out and they shot at him… but they missed him.”

    Sharp said that they began to realize that the police “meant business” and that Finicum, who was driving, yelled that he was going to continue driving so that he could “talk to the sheriff.”

    “He drove and we all got down on the floorboards and they just started firing at us, shooting at us a bunch of times,” she said, adding that Finicum reached the roadblock and his truck rammed into a snowbank.

    With the car running, she said, Finicum “got out of the car and he had his hands in the air and he was like, ‘Just shoot me then, just shoot me.'”

    “And they did,” she said. “They shot him dead.”

    Sharp said she thought she heard as many as 100 bullets fired and that those remaining in the car were getting “gassed.” She said they were trying to find something white they could wave out the window.

    Sharp said that while some in the car with her had their guns, she believed that none of the occupiers had attempted to use them. She said Ryan Bundy was hit by a bullet in the shoulder as they were ducking down in the car.

    So those are the two narratives that members of the convoy have already put out there:
    According to McCollum, who witness Finicum’s death from a distance, Finicum raced away, got stuck in the snow while trying to driving around a police road block, and was then shot and killed after getting out the vehicle and charging the police.

    But according to Sharp, who was in Finicum’s vehicle, the police preemptively shot at Ryan Payne after he popped his head out the window, and at that point Finicum decides he’s going to drive past the road block to “talk to the sheriff,” and it was after getting stuck in the snow that Finicum got out with his hands up and was shot.

    While there seem to be a massive number of holes in Sharp’s story, like why they decided to preemptively shoot Ryan Payne but not everyone else, it’s pretty clear which of these two narratives the guy yelling, “there are no laws in this United States now! This is a free-for-all Armageddon!” is inclined to believe. And turning Finicum into a martyr is clearly a goal for the group so we shouldn’t be surprised if Sharp’s account takes hold in the imaginations of the larger militia/sovereign citizen community.

    Of course, there’s also an abundance of other witness, including law enforcement officers who were presumably filming it all, so this is unlikely to become an event left to conflicting witness accounts and speculation. Eventually there’s going to be more information that comes out from all side. But “eventually” can be a long time when there’s an ongoing armed standoff and the speculation and interpretation of Finicum’s death threatens to keep it going. So getting more eyewitness accounts out there could be helpful…or not. It sort of depends on what actually happened. And until some sort of confirmation on which scenario actually transpired, we’re apparently going to have the remaining militia men freaking out at the refuge, convinced that they’re going to get shot if they surrender…at least if they truly believe Sharp’s account.

    So, with all that in mind, credit where credit’s due: Ammon Bundy actually did something helpful in this whole situation. It’s quite possibly the only helpful thing he’s actually done, but he did it: Ammon is urging the remaining militants to leave the refuge:

    USA TODAY
    Ammon Bundy urges protesters to leave refuge

    Gordon Friedman, Salem Statesman-Journal, Doug Stanglin, 8 p.m. EST
    January 27, 2016

    BURNS, Ore. — Oregon militia leader Ammon Bundy is urging his followers at a wildlife refuge near Burns, Ore., to leave, according to a statement released by his attorney.

    Bundy’s lawyer, Mike Arnold, read a statement by Bundy, arrested Tuesday, on the steps of a courthouse in Portland.

    “Right now, I am asking the federal government to allow the people at the refuge to go home without being prosecuted,” the statement read. “To those remaining at the refuge, I love you. Let us take this fight from here. Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. This fight is ours for now in the courts. Please go home.”

    The statement also paid tribute to Lavoy Finnicum, the protester who died on Tuesday, as federal and state authorities arrested Bundy and seven more at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Bundy and the protesters had holed up there since Jan. 2. Authorities said the arrests came after futile efforts to end the standoff peacefully for 25 days.

    “To those remaining at the refuge, I love you. Let us take this fight from here. Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. This fight is ours for now in the courts. Please go home.”
    That sure doesn’t sound like the words of a man who just witnessed law enforcement wantonly shoot at members of his convoy. It’s the kind of plea that should hopeuflly give the “This is a free-for-all Armageddon!” folks pause.

    So let’s hope Ammon’s words don’t fall on deaf ears…at least these recent words uttered by his lawyer. The words that started this whole insane standoff were probably more appropriate for deaf ears.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 27, 2016, 7:07 pm
  13. Now that the leadership of the Bundy Brigade is in custody, Ammon Bundy’s lawyer has the task of getting him released. That obviously wasn’t going to be an easy task, and would probably require and exception degree of legal creativity given the overall situation that includes found remaining members still refusing to leave the refuge headquarters. Still, claiming that the entire occupation was peaceful and that Bundy was never aligned with the remaining four militants might be a little too creative:

    KLCC.org

    Ammon And Ryan Bundy Denied Bail

    By Conrad Wilson • 1/30/2016

    A judge at the federal courthouse in Portland Friday denied bail to five of the militants arrested near Burns earlier this week in connection with the armed occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

    Though only five were detained, all of the militants who appeared in court will remain in custody through at least Tuesday.

    Judge Stacie Beckerman denied bail to both Ammon and Ryan Bundy, saying both defendants are a flight risk and a danger to the community. Beckerman also denied bail for Ryan Payne.

    “In many respects, Mr. (Ammon) Bundy would appear an ideal candidate for release,” U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight told the court Friday.

    But after “peeling back the layers,” Knight said Bundy is a flight risk and dangerous. He said Bundy was the leader of a conspiracy that involved the use of intimidation and force.

    “He is simply not a viable candidate for release, looking at either his risk to the community or danger of flight,” Knight told the court.

    One of Ammon Bundy’s lawyers, Lissa Casey, argued the occupation wasn’t a violent attempt to overthrow the government.

    “We don’t agree with the prosecution that he is a danger,” said Casey.

    She said that Bundy wants to return to his Idaho home.

    “He doesn’t even own a passport,” she said. “The only place Mr. Bundy wants to be is home with his wife and children.”

    Bundy’s lawyers tried to distance him from the ongoing occupation at the refuge, where four armed militants remain in an at times tense standoff with the FBI. Casey said when she told Bundy about holdout David Fry, he said he didn’t know who that was.

    Over the past two days, Bundy has also issued statements through his lawyers asking the remaining militants to leave the refuge.

    “I have asked those people at the refuge to go home,” Bundy told the court. “This was never about an armed standoff.”

    Ultimately, Judge Beckerman was not convinced. She said Bundy and the occupiers knowingly broke the law and only left the Malheur Refuge after they were arrested.

    “There are no conditions I could impose that would guarantee the safety of the community or that he would come back to the district of Oregon for trial,” Beckerman said. “I reject the argument that this was just a peaceful occupation.”

    “I have asked those people at the refuge to go home…This was never about an armed standoff.”
    The armed standoff was never about an armed standoff. Well that’s nice that they weren’t engaged in an armed standoff for the sake of engaging in an armed standoff, but it’s not exactly a compelling excuse for the armed standoff. But it looks like pleading with the remaining four holdouts at the refuge to leave is going to continue to be a key part of Bundy’s legal defense, although you have to wonder how much persuasion he’s going to have with those holdouts when his lawyers says stuff like this:


    Bundy’s lawyers tried to distance him from the ongoing occupation at the refuge, where four armed militants remain in an at times tense standoff with the FBI. Casey said when she told Bundy about holdout David Fry, he said he didn’t know who that was.

    So Ammon apparently doesn’t even know David Fry, the militants’ resident computer guy. That can’t be fun to hear when you’re one of the few remaining holdouts.
    Especially when you’re continue to pledge to fight to the death (unless you’re given legal immunity)

    The Associated Press
    Malheur occupiers: ‘All of us out or all dead’
    Idaho residents Sean and Sandy Anderson remains at the site with 2 others

    Published: January 30, 2016, 5:55 am Updated: January 30, 2016, 2:12 pm

    BURNS, Ore. (AP) – Lawyers for the jailed leader of an armed group occupying an Oregon wildlife refuge say they have recorded a phone call with Ammon Bundy telling the four people remaining at the refuge that it is “his authentic desire for them to stand down.”

    In a statement Saturday, attorney Lissa Casey says “that message has been communicated to the remaining four and there’s nothing further to be done on our end… We have set our disagreements aside to save the lives. We’ve done what we can do.”

    Through his attorneys, Bundy has repeatedly said he wants the people remaining at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to leave peacefully.

    Four people occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge continued to hold their position Saturday and posted live videos that reveal their hyper-vigilance against any federal officials who may try to move them out.

    During one early morning video posted by a man identified as David Fry, the occupiers express concerns about nearby aircraft and Fry gets jumpy when he believes he hears gunshots near the entrance.

    “False alarm,” he soon says as he realizes the noise came from a generator or some other type of equipment.

    “We’re not dead yet,” he says, repeating a theme that he and others have express through the weeks of the occupation. They’ve said they will only leave if given immunity from prosecution and are ready to die defending their position.

    A husband and wife who are among the four holdout occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge say in a speakerphone conversation with a man who appears to be an attorney that was broadcast on YouTube that they are hoping for a miraculous end to the standoff with federal authorities.

    Sean Anderson, who is at the site with his wife, Sandy, and two others, says: “We’re waiting for our miracle. If this doesn’t wake America up, I don’t know what will.”

    Sean Anderson, who is from Riggins, Idaho, goes on to say that he and the other occupiers are heroes. “Think about the Bible and all the heroes came from the bottom. We were just four drunks, we don’t have any military experience, and now we’re the shining stars,” he said.

    At one point in the broadcast, Sandy Anderson says: “It’s either all of us out or all of us dead.”

    Sean Anderson said he and the others want authorities to give them immunity from prosecution before they will leave the site. He asks the lawyer to “start making phone calls and get us amnesty.”

    The FBI has said it’s trying to resolve the situation peacefully.

    “We’re not dead yet,” according to Fry. But they will be if they aren’t given full legal immunity. And apparently this makes them like Biblical heroes according to one of the remaining militants.

    Given their apparent willingness to die for the cause, it will be interesting to see what Ammon Bundy’s public disavowal of the whole “armed standoff” thing does to their moral. Is Ammon like Judas to them at this point? Well, according to the article below, getting dissed by the rest of the militants as not be a “real” militia man was something Fry was putting up with from the beginning and yet he remains willing to die unless Bundy’s goals are met (or they receive immunity). Fry also thinks Ammon was coerced into making those statements according to the article. So it’s very possible that there’s basically nothing Ammon can say to get them out of there:

    OPB
    How A Digital Friendship Created An Unlikely Holdout

    by John Sepulvado
    Jan. 30, 2016 1:36 p.m. | Updated: Jan. 30, 2016 4:55 p.m. | Burns, Oregon

    Ten days into the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, David Fry was looking forward to going home. Shunned by the alpha-male militant leaders in the camp, Fry — a skinny, bespectacled 27-year-old from Ohio — was waiting to talk to one person before he left.

    “I want to say goodbye to LaVoy, but then I have to go home,” Fry told OPB the afternoon of Jan. 14. “I think I make some of the guys nervous here because of the bad things people are saying about me.”

    Those “bad things” included criticism that Fry supported the radical terrorist group ISIS and had repeatedly praised Adolph Hitler in long, anti-Semitic rants. OPB had just published an article about Fry hacking into the federally owned computers at the refuge, revealing those details and others.

    Finicum, who had just returned to the refuge after meeting with elected leaders in Iron County, Utah, had yet to meet with Fry. But the militant leader did message Fry to stay put until he could talk with other members of the leadership.

    Still, Fry expected to return to his rural home outside of Cincinnati that weekend.

    “Before my dad gets back from his vacation,” Fry said.

    Less than two weeks later, LaVoy Finicum would be shot dead on the side of a country road in deep snow, and David Fry would be one of the last militant holdouts on the compound.

    With Blowups at Home, Fry Found a Soothing Voice Online

    Online, Fry is quick to engage with anyone willing to listen, and even some of those who are not. A believer in vast conspiracies, especially those centered in his ancestral home of Japan, Fry comes off as bombastic, paranoid and angry. In defending his anti-Semitic posts, he wrote on his Google+ account, “ZIONIST JEWS ARE NOT TRUE JEWS!”

    That angry, provocative and explosive tone is a major character of Fry’s personality, according to members of his family.

    “He’s had his problems, some of which he’s brought on himself,” his paternal grandfather, William Fry, told OPB. “He gets pulled over for busted taillights, and instead of just rolling down his window and handing over his insurance, he screams at the officer, ‘What the [expletive] do you want?’ And right there, a regular thing turns into him in handcuffs.”

    Fry’s anger, often directed at authority, resulted in a strained relationship with his own father, William “Bill” Fry Jr. A former Marine, Bill Fry told OPB he had a “tough time” talking to his son about a host of subjects — most notably, politics.

    “We used to both be Tea Party guys,” Fry Jr. said. “But we would argue even about that. I would always say ‘ballots over bullets’ and he would get real mad, and we couldn’t talk. He believes it.”

    David Fry was bullied in high school because of his Japanese heritage, according to his father.

    Bill Fry said he “just couldn’t talk” to his son about those problems because David Fry “would blow up.”

    Online, however, David Fry found an older, male ear to bend in Robert “LaVoy” Finicum. The Arizona rancher had become a supporter and close confidant of the Bundy family in 2014 after Finicum came to the Bundy ranch in April, during the family’s standoff with the Bureau of Land Management. During that time, Finicum began posting videos on YouTube and long screeds in militia chat rooms. Fry casually commented on those videos and posts, and shortly the two began a digital correspondence.

    That connection turned into a friendship after Fry helped Finicum self-publish his book, Only by Blood and Suffering, a post-apocalyptic novel set in the western desert.

    “He talked about LaVoy a lot, you know, on the computer, and even on the phone,” Fry Jr. said. “They were friends. I’m not sure how good, but before he left [for Oregon], and I think if LaVoy wasn’t there, [David] wouldn’t have left.”

    A Rejected Holdout Finds Friends in the Remainders

    On Jan. 14, LaVoy Finicum, as he was known to do, made peace in the camp between leaders Ryan Payne, Blaine Cooper, Jon Ritzheimer and David Fry. The leaders, particularly Payne, were upset about Fry’s online support of ISIS and the resulting media coverage, according to Finicum.

    Payne had served in the U.S. Army and was deployed to Iraq.

    “It took some talking, but everything’s fine now,” Finicum told OPB on Jan. 16. “Sometimes you got to talk things out.”

    Yet, even after the issues were smoothed over, the rest of the militant group did not accept Fry. Instead of going home, he spent his time in a building next to the main compound, working on the militants now-defunct website, DefendYourBase.net.

    OPB reporters had a daily presence at the refuge until the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 27. Despite numerous interactions with Fry, he was not observed talking with other militants on the compound.

    Even in the immediate hours after the arrests of the group’s leaders and the death of Finicum, when less than 12 militants remained, Fry was not considered to be part of the larger group.

    “I don’t know anything about him,” militant Jason Patrick said at approximately 4 a.m. Jan. 27. “I think he’s just gawking. He’s not going to help us when the FBI rolls in.”

    But Fry stayed, along with husband and wife Sean and Sandy Anderson, and Jeff Banta, even after Patrick turned himself in; even after Ammon Bundy pleaded to him to leave.

    “This was never meant to be an armed standoff,” Bundy told the group in a video obtained by OPB

    Fry rejected that the plea and in an online video suggested Bundy was being forced to give that statement by federal authorities.

    His refusal has frustrated Bundy’s attorney, who is desperately trying to get bail for Ammon Bundy, along with militant supporters.

    hThe Citizens for Constitutional Freedom Support Group Facebook page, created to support Ammon Bundy’s cause, called on other supporters to stop praising David Fry for staying. The post has since been deleted.

    “Yesterday, as the FBI began its siege, [Fry] kept following around real militia,” the post read. “Several of them told him to go away…David refused, so they kicked him out of the vehicle on the side of the road.”

    That means when the militants had the chance to take him with them, to effectively get him off the refuge, they instead threw him out of the car. Now, some of those same militants are urging him to leave, so they can be bailed out of jail.

    Fry, meanwhile, is as defiant as ever.

    “I will stay here to the end,” he said, after hearing Ammon Bundy’s plea for the remaining occupiers to surrender.

    ““I will stay here to the end,” he said, after hearing Ammon Bundy’s plea for the remaining occupiers to surrender.”
    Yeah, the rest of the Bundy Brigade probably isn’t super happy about not kicking Fry out back when they had the chance. Still, it’s kind of notable that the guy everyone seemed to thing was some sort faux militant is the one pledging to “stay here to the end” while Ammon Bundy is hilariously issuing statements about how this was never meant to be an armed standoff:


    “This was never meant to be an armed standoff,” Bundy told the group in a video obtained by OPB

    Fry rejected that the plea and in an online video suggested Bundy was being forced to give that statement by federal authorities.

    His refusal has frustrated Bundy’s attorney, who is desperately trying to get bail for Ammon Bundy, along with militant supporters.

    The statement by Jason Patrick, who become the de facto leader of the remaining militants following Ammon’s arrest, wasn’t lacking in irony either:


    “I don’t know anything about him,” militant Jason Patrick said at approximately 4 a.m. Jan. 27. “I think he’s just gawking. He’s not going to help us when the FBI rolls in.”

    Patrick, of course, issued that statement about Fry not helping when “the FBI rolls in” on the same day Patrick left the compound, walked six miles to meet a vehicle from the “Pacific Patriots Network”, and was later arrested at a checkpoint.

    So we’ll see what happens with Fry and the rest of remaining Final Four. They clearly don’t want to die since they’re hoping for a miracle that will get them released without charges. But they’re also clearly willing to die. Their moral has got to be in a weird place right now. And it’s about to get weirder: the “Pacific Patriots Network”, which has pretended to play a “peacemaker” role this whole time by acting as a “buffer” between law enforcement and the Bundy Brigade, is apparently so distraught over the death of LaVoy Finicum and the later arrest of Jason Patrick after they drive him out of the refuge, that they’re calling for a whole new round of massive protests! A call has been made by the “Pacific Patriots” to militia everywhere to descend on Burns and protest the FBI. They want “thousands” of militia to arrive and demand that the FBI leaves Burns, and they want it now:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive
    ‘Thousands’ called to Burns to tell FBI to leave after occupation leader’s arrest

    By Carli Brosseau

    on January 28, 2016 at 11:07 AM, updated January 28, 2016 at 1:59 PM

    A network of patriot groups from across the Northwest issued a call Thursday morning for supporters to flood into Burns.

    The request for help came on the heels of the Wednesday night arrest of Jason Patrick, a Georgia roofer who had emerged as a leader among the remaining occupiers of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge after the takeover’s key planners, including Ammon Bundy and Ryan Payne, were taken into law-enforcement custody.

    Bundy, Payne and several others were arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in which occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was killed. The deadly confrontation happened as Bundy and the others were on their way to John Day, about 70 miles from Burns, for a community meeting.

    Several other people linked to the occupation have since been taken into custody at other locations.

    Only a handful of occupiers remained at the bird sanctuary Thursday morning when the Pacific Patriot Network issued its call for support.

    The group’s members had helped persuade Patrick to leave the refuge, said Joseph Rice, a founding member from Grants Pass.

    The FBI had assured them that Patrick would be given safe passage out of the area, Rice said Wednesday night.

    He described the FBI taking Patrick into custody at a nearby checkpoint as a betrayal.

    On Thursday morning, BJ Soper, a founding member of the group from Redmond, echoed the sentiment on Facebook and called for a dramatic response.

    “The events of the last few days in burns have culminated into a lot of massive frustration and anger,” Soper wrote.

    “The lies and mistrust used to arrest Jason Patrick last night were dirty and caused any trust left in the tank with the fbi to be lost,” he said.

    Soper called for thousands of people to converge on Burns peacefully to tell the FBI to leave.

    “We need not hundreds, but thousands to come here,” he wrote. “I am asking for any and all to come.”

    Soper told The Oregonian/OregonLive that his group is planning a Saturday protest.

    He said they will try to maintain public safety. But if the group numbers in the thousands, Soper said, “we can’t guarantee anything.”

    The Pacific Patriots Network opposed the occupation, but has since set up a “buffer zone” around the refuge intended to prevent violence. Its members are largely from Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

    “We need not hundreds, but thousands to come here…I am asking for any and all to come.”
    Well, they had their protest today. It wasn’t the thousands they were hoping for (closer to 50), but it’s also potentially just the beginning of a new round of protests. Another militia group, the “3% of Idaho”, has plans for more protests on Monday:

    KOIN
    Protest over Finicum death rolls through Burns
    3% of Idaho planning a protest in Burns on Monday

    Jennifer Dowling and KOIN 6 News Staff Published: January 30, 2016, 11:31 am Updated: January 30, 2016, 6:17 pm

    BURNS, Ore. (KOIN) — Some people felt because the main leaders of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation were arrested things might quiet down around Burns. But supporters of the militant group have other plans.

    A memorial with flowers marks the spot where LaVoy Finicum — the Arizona rancher and de facto spokesman for the militia — was shot to death Tuesday during a traffic stop and roadblock. The tire tracks from Finicum’s attempted escape are still visible in the snow. The FBI and Oregon State Police intercepted Finicum and 7 others in 2 vehicles as they headed toward a meeting at a senior center in Grant County.

    The death of the 54-year-old armed militant only solidified the resolve of Duane Schrock.

    “A loss of a great life and a great man. I believe he will elevate the rest of us to another level,” Schrock said. “The people have been awakened.”

    Singer Jordan Page posted “The Ballad of LaVoy Finicum” on YouTube.

    Community members organized about 50 protesters who rolled through the streets of Burns over the death of LaVoy Finicum about 6 p.m. Saturday.

    KOIN 6 News learned more outsiders are organizing and coming to the area. A rally of the group 3% of Idaho will take place Monday in the area of the Harney County Courthouse in Burns.

    The 3% of Idaho is the same group who arrived unannounced and uninvited on January 10,, the 8th day of the militia’s occupation.

    Brandon Curtiss, the president of 3% of Idaho, told KOIN 6 News that day, “We’re here to establish a security buffer between the gentlemen here at the refuge, the community, citizens and law enforcement.”

    But Ammon Bundy and other militia leaders said they weren’t wanted or needed, and they left.

    “KOIN 6 News learned more outsiders are organizing and coming to the area. A rally of the group 3% of Idaho will take place Monday in the area of the Harney County Courthouse in Burns.”
    Keep in mind that it was a Harney County Courthouse protest by the Bundy Brigade that immediately preceded their occupation of the refuge. And now we have teh “3% of Idaho” planning a whole new Harney County Courthouse protest for Monday.
    Is this turning into a “here we go again!” scenario? Let’s hope not, but given everything we’ve seen so far, the idea that these groups are going to turn the death of LaVoy Finicum – a man who pledged on live TV that he would die before being arrested and then was indeed subsequently shot and killed after fleeing from authorities, almost running over and FBI agent, and mostly likely reaching for his pistol when surrounded by police and FBI – into a martyr who died unjustly due to federal tyranny is probably exactly what what we should expect at this point. So let’s also hope Harney County can get extra strong locks on any other nearby federal facilities. We really don’t need any more “all of us out or all dead” situations.

    But if another situation of that nature does arise, there’s at least one guy who would be happy to make the upcoming “Pacific Patriot/3% of Idaho” standoff’s website. Assuming he’s available. Ammon Bundy, on the other hand, will want nothing to do with any of that since he’s apparently against armed standoffs.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 30, 2016, 7:14 pm
  14. Surprise! Guess who just declared that he’s “retaining control” of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and called for the four remaining militants to remain at the armed standoff:

    The Guardian
    Cliven Bundy defies son Ammon in call for Oregon militia to stand their ground

    After Ammon Bundy called on final occupiers to leave refuge, his father sent a letter to government officials declaring armed militia would not back down

    Sam Levin in Bunkerville, Nevada

    Monday 1 February 2016 18.35 EST

    Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who led a standoff with the federal government in 2014, wants the protesters in Oregon to stand their ground – directly defying the message of his son, Ammon.

    Days after militia leader Ammon Bundy, now in jail in Portland, Oregon, called on the final four occupiers at the Malheur national wildlife refuge to surrender and go home, the elder Bundy sent a letter to government officials declaring that the armed militia would not be backing down.

    “This is notice that We the People of Harney County and also We the People of the citizens of the United States DO GIVE NOTICE THAT WE WILL RETAIN POSSESSION OF THE HARNEY COUNTY RESOURCE CENTER,” Cliven wrote in the letter, which he sent on Monday to the local sheriff, Oregon governor Kate Brown, and the White House.

    The armed militia in Oregon renamed the federally protected refuge the “Harney County Resource Center” and for weeks since the occupation began said their goal was to return the public lands to the control of local people.

    But since 11 people associated with the militia were arrested – and occupation spokesman LaVoy Finicum was shot and killed by state troopers – leader Ammon Bundy has called on the holdouts to end the protest.

    Cliven Bundy, however, declared today that he wants the opposite to occur.

    “What this is saying is that Cliven Bundy is taking control of things,” Cliven said in an interview from his ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada, on Monday afternoon. “If we don’t retain it, then we’ve lost everything that we’ve done in the last two months. We’re not gonna give up.”

    He added: “This is not Ammon’s message. This is my message … We’ve made a decision to retain it … The feds are going to get out of there.”

    The letter demands further: “Remove all federal and state policing agents out of Harney County.”

    Cliven said he suspected that his imprisoned son felt pressured to urge the remaining occupiers to go home. “That’s what he said, but I never believed it. I don’t think that’s what’s in his heart. He probably got his arm twisted.”

    Cliven said he has not talked to his son since he was arrested last Tuesday. Ammon, his brother Ryan, and a group of activists are facing federal felony charges for their roles in the occupation of government buildings, which began on 2 January to protest the imprisonment of two local ranchers.

    Carol Bundy, Cliven’s wife, said in an interview that it was crucial the occupation persevere. “Ammon does not want bloodshed. But he wants the message to continue,” said Carol. “We’ve made a statement. We’ve made a stand. And we’d like to hold out.”

    The four remaining occupiers have posted videos online saying they refused to leave unless they had assurances that they would not face charges. The four left are David Fry, a 27-year-old Ohio resident, Jeff Banta of Elko, Nevada, and husband and wife Sean and Sandy Anderson of Riggins, Idaho.

    “What this is saying is that Cliven Bundy is taking control of things…If we don’t retain it, then we’ve lost everything that we’ve done in the last two months. We’re not gonna give up.”
    This might be a good time to remind ourselves that Cliven Bundy has yet to pay the $1 million in federal grazing fees that led to the 2014 armed standoff at the Bundy ranch in Nevada. And since Cliven has decided to basically try to glom himself onto the armed standoff remotely and prolong the whole thing, it raises the question of whether or not Cliven is basically inviting another federal fee-collecting visit from authorities and whether or not that’s intentional.

    In other words, is Cliven really just unable to control some sort of land-grabbing impulse? Or is he actually trying to reignite a standoff at his Bunkerville ranch by doing something so unhelpful that it basically trolls the government into finishing its unfinished business with Cliven? Don’t forget that the main reason for not taking part of the standoff in Oregon given by a number of “Patriot” groups like the Oath Keepers was that the two ranchers, Steven and Dwight Hammond, didn’t actually request the help of any militias. But that wasn’t the case in 2014 and it presumably wouldn’t be the case now if Cliven finds himself facing federal scrutiny again. Sure, most of those currently under arrest for the standoff in Oregon were among the most militant core members of the original 2014 standoff. But there are plenty of others that could potentially make it. For instance, Jerry DeLemus, the co-chair of the New Hampshire wing of Donald Trump’s “Veterans for Trump” group, was “chief of security” during the 2014 standoff and he’s still out and about so maybe he could return to Bunkerville, although not for another week.

    So who knows, perhaps this year’s two-year anniversary of the Bunkerville standoff standoff will be less like the celebrations about how they got away with an armed standoff during last year’s anniversary celebration and more of a historical reenactment. Cliven sure seems to be leaning towards a reenactment.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 2, 2016, 7:23 pm
  15. It looks like the Adventures of the Bundy Brigade are taking another turn towards the surreal: Now that he’s in jail, Ammon Bundy is developing a legal strategy that’s becoming more and more apparent as he issues statements through his lawyer to the public. What’s the thrust of his strategy? To appeal to elected officials from Western states to descend on Oregon and voice their support for Ammon in the name of freedom of speech, civil disobedience, and the right to assemble. Yep. So the guy who led an armed standoff, threatening to use deadly force if removed from federal property, and who is now issuing public statements from jail, appears to be planning on characterizing the entire episode as a violation of his rights to free speech, civil disobedience, and the exercise of his right to assemble. And, big surprise, Bundy family friend and Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore is answering his call. Fiore announced she’s going to make a trip to Oregon, proclaiming, “We have the state of Oregon holding some of my Nevadans in their prison because of political free speech”:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive

    Ammon Bundy issues new statement from jail: Urges elected officials to support their imprisoned constituents

    By Maxine Bernstein |

    on February 08, 2016 at 8:00 AM, updated February 08, 2016 at 6:35 PM

    Ammon Bundy, the leader of the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, continues to make his voice heard while sitting in jail on a federal conspiracy charge — his latest call urges elected officials from eight states to support his co-defendants.

    “This is a call to action for any elected representative in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, the state of Washington and Ohio,” Bundy says. “You have constituents in federal custody. Please visit and contact them to voice your support for free speech, the right to assemble and civil disobedience.”

    Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore said in an interview that she will be in Portland Thursday to meet with local legislators and Bundy’s attorneys. Joined by about a dozen lawmakers from Washington, Idaho and Wyoming, Fiore said she plans to ask precise questions about the charges against the jailed occupiers.

    “We have the state of Oregon holding some of my Nevadans in their prison because of political free speech,” she said, referring to Ryan Bundy, who lives in Nevada.

    Fiore said the trip had been in the works for about a week and was planned with Ammon Bundy’s attorneys.

    Bundy made the recording Saturday. It was released Monday by his lawyers, Mike Arnold and Lissa Casey of the Eugene-based Arnold Law Firm. Audio of Bundy’s voice is set against a backdrop of still images, including the definition of civil disobedience and a photo of Bundy’s meeting on a rural road with Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward last month.

    Here’s a transcript of Bundy’s latest statement:

    Ammon Bundy, February 6, 2016. This is a call to action for any elected representative in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, the State of Washington, and Ohio. You have constituents in federal custody. Please visit and contact them to voice your support for free speech, the right to assemble, and civil disobedience.

    It is your duty to hold federal agencies at bay, protecting the people in your state. And to those who disagree with my speech, or our civil disobedience, and may dislike our ideas regarding that the land belongs to the people: Please remember that you do not want free speech to be retaliated against by government officials. If you do not advocate for government to tolerate ideas that it hates, then the First Amendment and free speech mean nothing.

    Arm yourself with ideas. Arm yourselves with education. Argue and disagree. Be free. Thank you.

    “Arm yourself with ideas. Arm yourselves with education. Argue and disagree. Be free. Thank you.”
    Well, it’s hard to argue with that last part of Ammon’s statement although it would have been more compelling coming from the leader of an unarmed standoff.

    The part about how these elected officials have a “duty to hold federal agencies at bay, protecting the people in your state,” is a lot easier to argue with since it’s the same sovereign citizen-esque legal logic that got the Bundy Brigade started in the first place. But it’s still going to be fascinating to see how successful Ammon is at framing the whole standoff as just a matter of free speech and civil disobedience. It’s also going to be fascinating to see what Michele Fiore actually says and does once she’s in Oregon since, unlike the other Bundy standoffs which were framed as a state vs the feds conflict, Fiore appears to be trying to start a state vs state fight. The whole Bundy Brigade narrative is getting quite an overhaul.

    It’s also going to be interesting to see if Assemblywoman Fiore ends up meeting up with an old friend during her trip to Oregon. A friend who happens to be Ammon’s dad:

    Las Vegas Review-Journal

    Ammon Bundy calls for elected officials’ support

    By Colton Lochhead and Marian Green
    February 8, 2016 – 2:24pm Updated February 8, 2016 – 10:04pm

    The jailed leader of the occupation of a wildlife refuge in Oregon has called on elected officials from mostly Western states to voice support for free speech and civil disobedience and to visit their constituents in federal custody.

    At least one Nevada lawmaker — state Assemblywoman Michele Fiore — is answering the call.

    Fiore, who is running for Rep. Joe Heck’s 3rd Congressional District seat, told Oregon Public Broadcasting that she is planning a trip to Portland and expects to be in the city Thursday night to protest the jailing of Ammon and his brother Ryan Bundy. The brothers are sons of Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy, who is embroiled in a legal dispute with the Bureau of Land Management over more than two decades of unpaid federal grazing fees.

    An Oregon TV station tweeted at Fiore asking if she was planning the trip to Portland, to which she replied “CONFIRMED” in all capital letters.

    While at least one media outlet has reported Cliven Bundy would make the trek to Oregon sometime this week, the rancher told the Review-Journal that he has not yet made up his mind and has other obligations to consider before going.

    “I’ve been invited to go with (Fiore). I haven’t committed myself at all,” he said when reached by phone Monday night.

    Cliven Bundy said Fiore did not personally invite him, but rather a mutual third party was setting it up. He declined to identify the third party.

    Fiore told the public broadcasting station that she and other Western state lawmakers will meet Cliven Bundy in Burns and in Portland and that she would also demand the release of Ryan Bundy, who is from Nevada.

    “Fiore told the public broadcasting station that she and other Western state lawmakers will meet Cliven Bundy in Burns and in Portland and that she would also demand the release of Ryan Bundy, who is from Nevada.”
    So now we have at least one elected official from one state, and whoever else she can get to join her, planning on traveling to another state to demand the release of a guy who was part of a ‘states vs the feds’ armed standoff and the framing for Fiore’s demand is basically what Ammon is suggesting she use: something along the lines of defending the right to armed standoffs as a fight over free speech and civil disobedience.

    Will Assemblywoman Fiore get much support from other Western state lawmakers? Well, she doesn’t appear to have much support quite yet, but don’t forget that she has back up. Very powerful back up. Koch brothers back up: Remember how the Koch-backed “American Lands Council” was using the 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff as a public relations push for the sell off of federal lands to powerful mining and energy interests? Well, not surprisingly they’re keep a close eye on the latest Bundy standoff. Such a close eye that the American Lands Council has decided to create highly misleading videos that fraudulently blame the BLM for Oregon wildfires:

    The Salt Lake Tribune
    Rolly: Video’s claim that BLM sparked devastating Oregon fires goes up in smoke

    By PAUL ROLLY
    First Published Feb 01 2016 06:00AM • Last Updated Feb 01 2016 07:46 am

    Rep. Ken Ivory’s American Lands Council seems to be taking a page out of The Center for Medical Progress‘ playbook, releasing a misleading video to demonize an entity the right-wing hates.

    In the case of The Center for Medical Progress, the undercover video, made by two operatives who have since been indicted by a Texas grand jury for alleged misconduct in the affair, purports to show Planned Parenthood officials negotiating to sell fetal body parts for profit.

    The video was found to have been heavily edited, with quotes taken out of context. The same grand jury that indicted the two who made the video found Planned Parenthood did nothing wrong. Investigations in 11 states reached the same conclusion.

    Yet politicians pandering to the Republican Party’s right flank, continue to use the video to criticize Planned Parenthood, including Gov. Gary Herbert, who announced on the eve of the Utah Republican Convention last year that he would stop federal funds from flowing through state agencies to Planned Parenthood of Utah.

    Now comes the Oregon chapter of the American Lands Council, a nonprofit that signs up organizations and local governments for a membership fee to fight for the transfer of public lands from the feds to states, has released a video on Facebook that appears to show U.S. Bureau of Land Management agents lighting fires in southern Oregon cattle country that blazed out of control, charring more than 700,000 acres, killing dozens of cows, burning several structures owned by ranchers and threatening the community of Frenchglen.

    Trouble is, the video’s claim is bogus.

    It is narrated by a man whose face never appears and shows images of a couple of BLM agents followed by the raging wildfire, implying the two started the blaze.

    Some research reveals an entirely different scenario.

    Stories in The Oregonian and an extensive report by the BLM’s Oregon/Washington office say the devastating fires that lasted for eight days in summer 2012 were sparked by lightning July 8 and fueled by heavy underbrush from an unusually dry year.

    The newspaper’s stories detail the efforts of BLM and Forest Service firefighters who fought alongside state and local crews to douse the flames.

    Yet the video’s narrator talks about BLM agents lighting fires and then leaving them unattended. He describes the officers as sitting around munching snacks while the fires rage out of control.

    The video cites no evidence, just the narrator’s claims.

    Ivory, R-West Jordan, was a co-founder and CEO of the American Lands Council, to which 47 counties in Western states spent a combined $219,000 of taxpayer money in 2014 to be members, according to the Center for Western Priorities.

    The video that erroneously blames the fires on the BLM carries a tag line urging viewers to sign up as members.

    “Ivory, R-West Jordan, was a co-founder and CEO of the American Lands Council, to which 47 counties in Western states spent a combined $219,000 of taxpayer money in 2014 to be members, according to the Center for Western Priorities
    Yep, the American Lands Council isn’t exclusively backed by Koch-financed private interest groups. 47 counties in Western states spent over $200k in 2014 alone just be members! It’s sort of a public-private partnership. And now the ALC is following the footsteps of the Center for Medical Progress, producing easily debunked videos on Facebook intending to make the BLM look like a bunch of rogue pyromaniacs.

    While the American Lands Council’s video will probably end up largely preaching to the choir, it’s still a sign that this fight isn’t over. Those federal lands aren’t going to hand themselves over to the Koch brothers and their energy/mining industry allies. Someone has to do it.

    So now that Ammon Bundy is trying to portray his legal battle as a battle over the freedom of speech and the right to assembly, it’s going to be very interesting to see if any Koch-backed groups suddenly take an interest in redefining how we interpret the First Amendment. Or, rather, additional interest in redefining how we interpret the First Amendment.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 9, 2016, 8:02 pm
  16. Well, it looks like it’s actually happening: Cliven Bundy just announced on his Facebook page that he’s heading to Burns, Oregon. Since he’s probably going to be a net-unhelpful presence once he gets there, let’s hope he takes his time. Especially since, it’s looking like the standoff at the refuge might be coming to an end soon:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive
    Oregon standoff: FBI moves in on last refuge occupiers

    By Les Zaitz
    on February 10, 2016 at 5:37 PM, updated February 10, 2016 at 9:44 PM

    BURNS – FBI agents in armored vehicles moved in Wednesday night on the last four occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, hemming them into their rough camp and insisting they put down their guns and surrender.

    The occupiers rejected the demands for hours before one of them said they will turn themselves in at a checkpoint once a national religious figure and a Nevada state legislator arrive. It was scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday, but it wasn’t clear if the deal involved all of the four occupiers.

    The standoff played out for hours through an open phone line being streamed to YouTube. At one point, an estimated 60,000 people listened as the occupiers displayed anger and panic, prayed with those on the phone and yelled at the FBI agents surrounding them.

    They’re the remainders of a group of anti-government militants who took over the wildlife refuge headquarters Jan. 2. The four have been on their own since Jan. 28 — two days after the occupation leaders were arrested on a highway north of Burns and protest spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was shot and killed.

    Those left at the refuge 30 miles southeast of Burns are David Fry, 27, of Cincinnati, Jeff Banta, 46, of Elko, Nevada, Sean Anderson, 47, and his wife Sandy, 48, of Riggins, Idaho.

    The live stream provided a remarkable front row seat for the nation to listen in as the holdouts faced the FBI move. At points, a phone left on inside the occupiers’ camp picked up demands from agents over loudspeakers.

    “Come out with your hands up,” a law enforcement official was heard saying.

    Two hours into the confrontation, Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore was heading to the refuge trying to negotiate for the group’s surrender and Christian evangelist Franklin Graham and others had offered to intercede on their behalf as well.

    Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, the father of jailed occupation leader Ammon Bundy, also appeared to be heading to Burns, according to the “Official Bundy Ranch” Facebook page.

    In a statement, the FBI said one of the occupiers rode an ATV outside their encampment at 4:30 p.m. When FBI agents tried to approach the driver, he returned “at a high rate of speed” to the camp. Agents then moved into position ahead and behind “the area where the occupiers are camping.”

    The FBI said negotiations were underway and that “no shots have been fired.”

    The holdouts all face arrest on a federal charge of conspiracy for their roles in the armed occupation. They are among 16 indicted on that charge. They were told they had to surrender.

    “There’s nowhere for you to go,” one officer was heard saying.

    Fry shouted back, “We’re leaving tomorrow.”

    In a statement released in the middle of the showdown, Greg Bretzing, the FBI’s special agent in charge in Oregon, said: “It has never been the FBI’s desire to engage these armed occupiers in any way other than through dialogue, and to that end, the FBI has negotiated with patience and restraint in an effort to resolve the situation peacefully.”

    But, Bretzing said, “we reached a point where it became necessary to take action in a way that best ensured the safety of those on the refuge, the law enforcement officers who are on scene, and the people of Harney County who live and work in this area.”

    FBI tactical teams had quietly moved into the refuge compound Tuesday night, entering the buildings undetected by the occupiers. They apparently were in the buildings through the day Wednesday before agents moved against the encampment.

    The occupiers talked over each other as the call moderator, identified on the Youtube feed as Gavin Seim, tried to sort out the identities and relayed calls for help to outside parties.

    “Just hang in there,” he said as he tried to give the occupiers encouragement and calm them down.

    At one point on the audio, Sean Anderson was heard yelling, “Did your boss send you here to kill innocent Americans?”

    At another point, an agent over a loudspeaker said: “David, I want to talk to you.”

    “What do you want?” Fry replied, then yelled, “You guys killed LaVoy” and “You let Obama bring terrorists into our country.”

    Sean Anderson said there were five armored vehicles around the camp. “They have way more guns than us. We need help. … We will not fire until we’re fired upon,” he said.

    Anderson also was heard saying: “Mark, you promised and you lied again,” apparently referring to an FBI negotiator.

    His wife chimed in that the four have been asked to put down their guns, but “our weapons are at our sides.”

    They said they had planned to meet Thursday with Fiore and that they had been told Cliven Bundy would appear as well. They also said they wanted someone to get in touch with Graham, the son of Billy Graham who had been in touch with the occupiers at one point.

    “You promised Franklin Graham you wouldn’t do this,” Sandy Anderson. Graham runs the North Carolina-based evangelical organization named after his father.

    Graham later called in, reaching Sean Anderson. Graham offered to be at the refuge at 7 a.m. Thursday to join the occupiers in walking out to surrender, Anderson said. It was unclear if the FBI would entertain such an offer. The occupiers reported that they were told by the FBI that no one else would be allowed onto the refuge.

    Even then, Sandy Anderson seemed to balk at surrendering. “I am not going to jail for standing up for my rights,” she said.

    “If my wife says she’s not leaving, I’m not leaving,” her husband said.

    Earlier in the night, Sean Anderson said that the occupiers would shoot only if fired upon. He said they all expected to be killed.

    “And it’s not self-inflicted wounds either,” Sandy Anderson said.

    Fry yelled, “You don’t need to go to hell for killing us.”

    They prayed at one point, and Sean Anderson repeatedly asked those listening in to the broadcast to pray.

    Later, Sandy Anderson yelled: “They got ahold of another legislator!” when she was told Washington state Rep. Matt Shea of Spokane Valley had been reached by supporters outside the refuge. Shea had been part of a group of state legislators who visited the site in late January.

    As the standoff continued, Fiore, the Nevada assemblywoman, got on the live stream line to offer to negotiate between the occupiers and the FBI. Fiore had just arrived in Portland and was scheduled to appear Thursday at a news conference in support of Ammon Bundy. For hours, Fiore stayed on the line as she rode in a car with other state legislators in a race to reach the refuge and walk the occupiers out.

    Over and over, Fiore stopped the conversation to lead or ask someone to lead the group in prayer. The Andersons were the most frequently heard voices. At one point, Banta talked with Fiore but only for moments and otherwise he could not be heard. Fry also disappeared from the feed, apparently stepping away from the phone to deal with the FBI agents surrounding them.

    For a time, Fry was on a second phone talking to an FBI negotiator. He was apparently told that the agent wouldn’t talk to the legislator. Only Fry’s part of the conversation was audible.

    “I will come to the refuge,” Fiore said. “They have to let someone to negotiate. We cannot afford more bloodshed.”

    She urged the four to keep calm as she tried to get directly to the FBI by phone.

    “Listen, we’re not coming out,” Fry was heard saying on the phone to the FBI negotiator. “You need to find another option.”

    Fiore told the occupiers that she needs Gov. Kate Brown or Harney County Sheriff David Ward to intercede to get her to the refuge.

    “There is no reason to shoot you,” Fiore told the group.

    But Sean Anderson said they feared being shot anyway.

    “We will hold them accountable in the courts like they hold us accountable,” Fiore said.

    “Listen, listen,” she said, trying to keep the occupiers focused on her.

    She told them that some of the defendants in the case have been released from jail after their arrest while the charges are pending. “The Constitution is there to protect the people from the government,” she said.

    At that point, Sandy Anderson said the armored vehicles were moving closer, prompting Fiore to urge her to take a deep breath and pray with her. In the background, Fry can be heard yelling at the FBI agents.

    Earlier as the occupiers tried to reach someone that could help them, Sean Anderson said, “Someone call Sheriff Palmer,” referring to Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer.

    His wife echoed him: “Call Sheriff Palmer.”

    Palmer met twice with occupation leaders in his neighboring county and was to share the stage with the key figures at a community meeting when the arrests and Finicum shooting took place on U.S. 395 about 20 miles north of Burns. He has come under criticism for his apparent support of the militants.

    People were calling the sheriff’s office and the John Day dispatch center, which handles calls for Grant County police agencies, urging that Palmer intercede.

    The FBI and state police set up a roadblock Jan. 26 on the highway between Burns and John Day as Bundy, occupation spokesman Finicum and several others traveled in a Jeep and truck to talk to people in Grant County about their cause. They took Bundy into custody without incident, but troopers shot Finicum when he got out of his truck and appeared to reach into a pocket, the FBI said. Finicum was carrying a loaded 9mm handgun, the FBI said.

    A federal grand jury in Portland has returned indictments against Bundy and 15 others in the case, including the four holdouts, on one charge each of conspiracy to impede federal officers through intimidation, threats or force.

    The indictments accuse them of conspiring to prevent employees of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service from working at the refuge, taking over the property with guns and intimidating the people of Harney County.

    All are accused of occupying the federal property “while using and carrying firearms,” threatening violence against anybody who attempted to remove them from the refuge and using social media and other means of communication to recruit and encourage others to join them.

    The conspiracy charge is a felony and carries a maximum six-year prison sentence and fines.

    “The occupiers rejected the demands for hours before one of them said they will turn themselves in at a checkpoint once a national religious figure and a Nevada state legislator arrive. It was scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday, but it wasn’t clear if the deal involved all of the four occupiers.”
    Well, at least it sounds like the standoff might be coming to an end at 8 a.m. Thursday. At least for some of them. And perhaps all four. Assuming Franklin Graham is there to walk them out.

    Yes, this getting even weirder than it already was, but still, let’s hope this gets resolved peacefully soon because the Bundy Brigade’s final four are clearly getting increasingly confused and that’s rather dangerous in this situation. Keep your fingers crossed:

    They said they had planned to meet Thursday with Fiore and that they had been told Cliven Bundy would appear as well. They also said they wanted someone to get in touch with Graham, the son of Billy Graham who had been in touch with the occupiers at one point.

    “You promised Franklin Graham you wouldn’t do this,” Sandy Anderson. Graham runs the North Carolina-based evangelical organization named after his father.

    Graham later called in, reaching Sean Anderson. Graham offered to be at the refuge at 7 a.m. Thursday to join the occupiers in walking out to surrender, Anderson said. It was unclear if the FBI would entertain such an offer. The occupiers reported that they were told by the FBI that no one else would be allowed onto the refuge.

    Even then, Sandy Anderson seemed to balk at surrendering. “I am not going to jail for standing up for my rights,” she said.

    “If my wife says she’s not leaving, I’m not leaving,” her husband said.

    Earlier in the night, Sean Anderson said that the occupiers would shoot only if fired upon. He said they all expected to be killed.

    “And it’s not self-inflicted wounds either,” Sandy Anderson said.

    Fry yelled, “You don’t need to go to hell for killing us.”

    Ok, so it sounds like they might be surrendering…assuming Franklin Graham shows up tomorrow. Although the Andersons are getting cold feet. And David Fry is threatening eternal damnation if any of them are killed.

    So let’s hope this ends peacefully. And ends soon. Don’t forget, Cliven is coming to town.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 10, 2016, 11:00 pm
  17. Well, the armed standoff is over and no one died, although it was a touch and go situation for a while. Still, Hallaujah! While it’s unclear what lessons can be learned from this whole bizarre saga, although, as the various arrests that took place before today’s arrests made clear, if you’re going to engage in an armed standoff, you probably don’t want to just start wondering ‘off the ranch’, so to speak. It’s a lesson that Cliven Bundy also reinforced late last night. Yep, the armed standoff in Oregon wasn’t the only armed standoff to end today:

    Associated Press

    Cliven Bundy charged with assault, conspiracy for 2014 standoff

    By KEN RITTER

    Published: February 11, 2016, 12:45 PM

    LAS VEGAS — The father of the jailed leader of a group that occupied an Oregon federal wildlife refuge was charged Thursday by federal authorities with leading a tense April 2014 armed standoff with Bureau of Land Management agents near his ranch in Nevada.

    Cliven Bundy was arrested Wednesday night when he arrived at Portland International Airport from Las Vegas to visit his sons, Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy.

    The charge reopens the festering question of how federal officials would fulfill promises to “administratively and judicially” resolve the cancellation of a roundup of Bundy cattle from rangeland about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

    The 32-page criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas accuses Bundy of leading more than 200 self-styled militia supporters into the April 2014 confrontation that had snipers with military-style weapons on a freeway overpass training their sights on federal agents who were attempting to enforce a court order to round up Bundy cattle.

    “Bundy and his confederates recruited, organized and led hundreds of others in using armed force against law enforcement officers in order to achieve their criminal objectives,” the charging document said.

    The complaint refers to at least four other people as co-conspirators, but doesn’t name them. Federal authorities said no other arrests were immediately expected.

    Cliven Bundy was being held at the Multnomah County Jail pending an appearance in federal court. He has represented himself in previous local, state and federal legal proceedings.

    A family member in Bunkerville, Nevada, said she didn’t think he would hire a lawyer to handle his case.

    Bundy’s daughter-in-law, Briana Bundy, also said the family patriarch wasn’t committing a crime in trying to visit his sons, and she questioned why authorities waited almost two years to bring charges.

    The criminal complaint accuses Bundy, 69, of conspiracy, assault on a federal officer, obstruction, weapon use an possession, extortion to interfere with commerce and aiding and abetting. If convicted of all six charges, he could face more than 40 years in federal prison and more than $1 million in fines.

    Officials wouldn’t say why it took almost 22 months to charge Bundy.

    U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said the matter remained under investigation.

    “Bundy and his confederates recruited, organized and led hundreds of others in using armed force against law enforcement officers in order to achieve their criminal objectives.”
    That a pretty good summary of the 2014 standoff. And with a full 32 pages of criminal charges, he’s clearly going to need a decent lawyer. Will he have one? Ummm…


    Cliven Bundy was being held at the Multnomah County Jail pending an appearance in federal court. He has represented himself in previous local, state and federal legal proceedings.

    A family member in Bunkerville, Nevada, said she didn’t think he would hire a lawyer to handle his case.

    That’s right, if past is prologue, Cliven Bundy isn’t going to even bother hiring a lawyer. He’ll just represent himself! So while it’s still unclear what we all can learn from the increasingly bizarre Bundy standoffs, it’s looking like we’re all in store for a big dose of sovereign citizen jurisprudence. Granted, these won’t be useful lessons and will largely be the same old lessons in sovereign citizen jurisprudence that the Bundy clan has been trying to push throughout these armed standoffs. But it’s one thing to act out sovereign citizen jurisprudence and quite another to attempt to explain it in court.

    So get ready for the next phase of the Bundy clan saga. It’s the phase when the Bundys get to attempt to articulate an incoherent legal theory in a courtroom. Whether or not Cliven turns out to be adept at this challenge remains to be seen, although don’t get your hopes up. Public speaking isn’t Cliven’s forte. But if you’re interested in following along as the likely courtroom antics unfold, it might be time to brush on your admiralty law.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 11, 2016, 9:57 pm
  18. Awww…it doesn’t look like we’ll be treated to many courtroom sovereign citizen rants from Cliven Bundy: He’s requesting a court-appointed lawyer. Although it’s not guaranteed that he’ll receive a public defender since he’s going to have to provide a financial affidavit to demonstrate that he lacks the financial resources to hire once on his own.

    So the wealthy rancher who started an armed standoff in defiance of paying millions of dollars in unpaid federal grazing fees is going to have to prove he’s too poor to hire a lawyer in order to get the public to foot his legal bills over his anti-fee standoff. You have to give him points for consistency:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive

    Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy seeks court-appointed lawyer

    By Maxine Bernstein
    on February 11, 2016 at 3:27 PM, updated February 11, 2016 at 9:04 PM

    Nevada rancher Cliven D. Bundy asked for a court-appointed attorney as he made his first appearance Thursday in federal court following his arrest the night before at Portland International Airport.

    Bundy, 69, his thinning salt-and-pepper hair slicked back, shuffled into the courtroom, chains at his ankles and wearing standard blue jail garb.

    He pulled a pair of eyeglasses from a pocket of his jail shirt and spent nearly 30 minutes sitting beside an attorney, reviewing a 32-page federal complaint stemming from the 2014 standoff at his ranch northeast of Las Vegas.

    Assistant federal public defender Ruben Iniguez was appointed to represent Bundy for the day but said his office couldn’t continue to represent him because it represents others in the case.

    U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice M. Stewart directed Bundy to present a financial affidavit to the court before a court-appointed attorney could be assigned.

    “The court only appoints counsel for those who can’t afford an attorney,” Stewart said.

    The federal complaint filed Thursday charges the Bundy patriarch with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, assault on a federal law enforcement officer, carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, obstruction of justice and interference with commerce by extortion.

    The complaint alleges that Bundy and four unnamed co-conspirators organized and led a massive armed assault against federal law enforcement officers in and around Bunkerville, Nevada, in April 2014 to thwart them from seizing and removing 400 cattle on public land.

    The co-conspirators aren’t named in the complaint but appear to be Bundy’s sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, Ryan Payne and Pete Santilli, based on the complaint’s allegations.

    Bundy has refused to comply with four lawful court orders since 1993 that required him to pay fees or obtain permits from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to graze cattle on public land, the complaint says. Bundy owes the agency $1 million in unpaid fees and penalties.

    Bundy’s request for a court-appointed lawyer sparked outrage on social media, with many questioning on Twitter and Facebook how someone who is so anti-government suddenly wants the government to pay for his legal representation.

    The federal government plans to seek Bundy’s continued detention as a flight risk and danger to the community, Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles F. Gorder Jr. told the court.

    At some point, Bundy is expected to be returned to Nevada to be prosecuted there, said Billy Williams, Oregon’s U.S. attorney.

    If convicted, Bundy faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge, up to 10 years in prison on the obstruction of justice charge, up to 20 years in prison on the assault on a federal law enforcement and interference with commerce by extortion charges and a mandatory minimum consecutive seven years on the use and carry of a firearm in relation to a crime a violence charge. The charges could also bring up to $250,000 per count.

    His court appearance came about two and a half hours after the last four holdouts at the occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge surrendered to authorities.

    Bundy’s two sons, Ammon Bundy, 40, and Ryan Bundy, 43, are in custody in Portland – two of now 25 people indicted on a separate federal conspiracy charge stemming from the 41-day armed takeover of the wildlife sanctuary outside Burns.

    The occupation leaders have said they took over the refuge Jan.2 in protest of the resentencing of Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steve Hammond and to show their opposition to federal control of public lands.

    Cliven Bundy had traveled to Portland intending to visit with his sons, participate in a news conference to decry their continued detention and possibly travel to Burns. Those plans were derailed when FBI agents took him into custody at 10:10 p.m. at the airport.

    A federal indictment also was unsealed Thursday naming seven more people associated with the occupation.

    They were arrested in six states on the single federal conspiracy charge: Blaine Cooper, 36, of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona; Corey Lequieu, 44, of Fallon, Nevada; Neil Wampler, 68, of Los Osos, California; Jason Charles Blomgren, 41, of Murphy, North Carolina; Darryl William Thorn, 31, of Marysville, Washington; Wesley Kjar, 32, of Manti, Utah; and Eric Lee Flores, 22, of Tulalip, Washington.

    Each is scheduled to appear in federal court Thursday or Friday in the jurisdictions where they were arrested, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland. Two other unnamed defendants were also indicted but are still being sought.

    “U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice M. Stewart directed Bundy to present a financial affidavit to the court before a court-appointed attorney could be assigned.”
    Well, while it’s highly unlikely that Bundy was too poor to pay those grazing fees annually over the last few decades, it’s still possible that he can’t afford to pay the million dollars in unpaid overdue federal grazing fees he still owes all at once. So there’s one possible way to make the case that he can’t afford a lawyer: pay the fees that would have avoided this whole mess if he had paid them in the first place.

    Granted, paying the fees wouldn’t keep him out of jail since his charges go way beyond not paying fees at this point. But paying those fees in order to qualify for a public defender would be a strangely fitting end to the Bundy standoff so let’s hope that’s what happens.

    And who knows, maybe his time in jail will induce some sort of epiphany or two in the guy. He’ll have lots of time to reflect. Sure, that probably won’t happen. But if it did, and the loss of all his freedoms created a new and improved Cliven Bundy, that would also be kind of fitting.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 12, 2016, 4:05 pm
  19. With the government’s indictments against Cliven Bundy and the Bundy Brigade unfolding, it was guaranteed that we were going to learn all sorts of fun facts. For instance, as the article below points out, Cliven did indeed get a court appointed lawyer. That’s a fun fact. Also, he was apparently terrible rancher:

    The Huffington Post
    Feds: Cliven Bundy Is Terrible At Cattle Ranching
    “Bereft of human interaction, his cattle that manage to survive are wild, mean and ornery.”

    02/17/2016 06:14 pm ET

    Dana Liebelson
    Staff Reporter, The Huffington Post

    WASHINGTON — Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher in custody over charges stemming from his involvement in a 2014 armed standoff, is terrible at cattle ranching, according to a court document filed by federal authorities on Tuesday.

    “While Bundy claims he is a cattle rancher, his ranching operation — to the extent it can be called that — is unconventional if not bizarre,” wrote the U.S. attorneys for the districts of Nevada and Oregon in a memorandum arguing for Bundy’s continued detention before trial.

    Bundy flew to Oregon last week with the reported intent of supporting his sons, who last month seized a remote federal property near the town of Burns. But he was arrested Feb. 10 and charged with assault and conspiracy — among other crimes — for leading a confrontation with federal authorities in 2014.

    The government is now questioning Bundy’s ranching skills. The feds claim Bundy allows his cows, which numbered over 1,000 at the time of the standoff, to run wild with “little, if any, human interaction” until they are “sold or slaughtered for his own consumption.” Bundy does not vaccinate or adequately feed the cows and doesn’t know where all of them are, the document says.

    “Bereft of human interaction, his cattle that manage to survive are wild, mean and ornery,” the feds write. They go on to describe the cows “getting stuck in mud, wandering onto golf courses, straying onto the freeway… [and] foraging aimlessly and wildly, roaming in small groups over hundreds of thousands of acres of federal lands that exist for the use of the general public.”

    When reached by The Huffington Post, Noel Grefenson, the court-appointed attorney for Bundy, declined to comment on the government’s claims about Bundy’s ranching practices. On Tuesday, Grefenson said his client was only “a 69-year-old man sitting here in custody with high blood pressure.”

    A federal judge has ordered Bundy to remain in custody.

    “Bereft of human interaction, his cattle that manage to survive are wild, mean and ornery.”
    So it sounds like if you find yourself on federal lands near Bunkerville, stay extra far away from the wild survivalist cattle. That’s good to know.

    And as we also learned, Cliven got his court-appointed attorney, although it’s not clear how permanent he is since they were going to need to establish his financial status to see if he qualified. But Cliven has a public attorney for now, which means he’s not going to be writing the kind of sovereign citizen-inspired document that Shawna Cox, a Malheur occupation defendant out with an ankle monitor but still facing charges, just submitted to the courts:

    Daily Kos
    Oregon standoff defendant Shawna Cox files eight pages of sovereign citizen psychobabble with court

    By cany
    Wednesday Feb 17, 2016 · 6:10 PM CST

    Attention attorneys and sane people everywhere: You really don’t want to miss this one. Seriously, you don’t.

    _______________________________________

    Today, Shawna Cox, one of 25 defendants charged with conspiracy in the 41-day takeover of Oregon’s Malheur Wildlife Refuge, filed an eight page Affirmative Defence [sic] and Counter Criminal Complaint. I suspect these eight pages may, indeed, end up winning some kind of award for the best conspiracy word salad in its category.

    Cox, a Sovereign Citizen, opines at length about everything from the International Monetary Fund to the Bar Association.

    Seriously. Kick off your shoes, put your feet on your desk and just think about how lucky you are she isn’t your client. Or your neighbor.

    Here’s the opening paragraph, and warning, put the coffee down:

    AFFIRMATIVE DEFENCES AND COUNTER CRIMINAL COMPLAINT

    As identified in 18 USC sections 1512, 1513, and 1514 I am a victim, witness and informant to extremely serious public corruption and government oppression. I came to the assistance of economically vulnerable individuals who were being harassed, threatened, intimidated, persecuted and incarcerated by arrogant, narcissi Federal Government officials who have organized together to highjack and steal our Constitutional form of government from the people of the United States of America. I came to assist the people of the states that were derived from the Northwest Territories, to address the fraud involving lands that were defrauded from them, by organized efforts of individuals within Federal and State Governments. [sic, as in all over the place]

    As for you attorneys, shame on you for forcing your nobility upon us:

    I am a victim, witness and informant to subversive activities and efforts organized by law Colleges, State and Federal Bar Associations, to attack our constitutional form of government and subversively, secretly force socialism, communism and imperialism types of government onto the people of the United States of America. The intention of these law professors and State and Federal Bar Association members is to create nobility for themselves, their prosperity and an oligarchy. Evidence will show that many of these individuals held official public positions and employment for generations and believe they are “entitledn to hold controlling public offices. Members of the State and Federal Bar Associations have violated the separations of powers so they could create special privileges and immunities for themselves, their membership and those who are supporting their subversive attacks on our constitutional form of government and our domestic tranquility. [sic] [bolding mine]

    ________________________________________

    Evidence will also show that Oregon State Bar members including S. Amanda Marshall, Governor Kate Brown, Judge Grasity, Oregon State Senator Cliff Bentz, and others within the Oregon State Bar Association organized together to take complete control of the Oregon State Government so they could execute their personal objectives, agendas and the objectives and agendas of the predatory Oregon State Bar Association. [sic]

    ________________________________________

    And least you public employees think you are off the hook, well hardly. Shawna’s got that covered, too:

    At the time we took Hostile Adverse Possession of Malheur it was being closed down for the winter. At no time did I or anyone else interfere with any public employees working on the Malheur in fact we encouraged them to come to work as we wanted to discuss the ownership problem with them and get as much information we could from them. If anything, it was their choice to not come to work, out of guilt. … [bolding mine]

    Among others, here’s a list she includes of all you naughty folks and reasons:

    Additional affirmative defenses I am reserving include:

    1. Jurisdiction, or lack of

    2. Venue or lack of

    3. The court that is attempting to prosecute me is an Article 4 court and not an article 3 court.

    4. I object to the court continuing to attempt to identify me as a subject of corporate United States of America, I ask the court to cease and desist this, and acknowledge I am a sovereign citizen with State and Federal constitutional rights and protections of law.

    5. I am requesting a fact finding hearing to identify the status of the court and my status 13 with the court.

    6. Restriction of Judicial Powers

    7. Selective prosecution, unequal protections of the laws, Government > the people

    8. Omission and misprision of felony by state and federal agents, officials and employees.

    9. Subversive activities against our state and federal constitutional form of governments.

    10. Malicious Prosecution

    11. Unlawful detainment and seizure.

    12. RICO Racketeering efforts organized against me, us, the Hammonds and others.

    13. The constitutional right of militia to assemble against subversive attacks against the Constitution of the United States and the people of the United States.

    14. My right to assemble was interfered with.

    15. My Freedom of speech was interfered with.

    16. Criminal Negligence

    17. Organized attempted execution/murder of a witness and informant.

    18. Organized execution / murder of my co-witness and co-informant.

    19. Foreign Agents operating subversively within United States, including but not limited to 29 State and Federal Bar Associations, IMF agents and Blackstone mercenaries. [sic]

    And finally, here are the damages sought:

    CLAIM FOR DAMAGES

    I am asking for criminal and civil penalties for the perpetrators that subjected me and my witnesses to the crimes I have identified herein. I Claim I and the others involved in these actions have suffered damages from the works of the devil in excess of $666,666,666,666.66 Six hundred sixty six billion, six hundred sixty six million, six hundred sixty six thousand, six hundred sixty six dollars and sixty six cents. [bolding mine]

    Whatever you do, please don’t forget the sixty-six cents.

    Needless to say, the judge tossed the filing relative to the criminal case and instructed Shawna to work with her attorney, Tiffany Harris (click and enlarge):

    “I am asking for criminal and civil penalties for the perpetrators that subjected me and my witnesses to the crimes I have identified herein. I Claim I and the others involved in these actions have suffered damages from the works of the devil in excess of $666,666,666,666.66 Six hundred sixty six billion, six hundred sixty six million, six hundred sixty six thousand, six hundred sixty six dollars and sixty six cents.”
    Now that’s how you represent yourself in court when you’re a sovereign citizen: go on a zany rant and then sue the government for $666 billion dollars. Shawna is going to be a fun defendant. At least, she’s certainly filled with a lot of fun facts. They might be facts largely divorced from reality, but that only makes them more fun.

    Also note that Shawna has a court-appointed attorney too, or at least had one when she was released at the end of January. And that apparently didn’t stop her from submitting a zany $666 billion counter-suit. So despite Cliven’s government-appointed legal representation, it looks like can still wander off the legal ranch. And the same is presumably true for the rest of the Bundy Brigade, so who knows how zany this is going to get as others start wandering off the legal ranch. Especially for any of them that end up in prison. With lots of time to file lots of zany appeals.

    “Bereft of human interaction, his cattle that manage to survive are wild, mean and zany”.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 17, 2016, 11:33 pm
  20. It’s a big day for the Bundy clan Tuesday. No, not because of anything going on in court, although Ammon’s arraignment is on Wednesday so that presumably is also a big day for the Bundys. No, Tuesday is the big day for the whole Bundy movement. Why? Because Tuesday is GOP primary day for Cliven Bundy’s home state of Nevada and the leading candidate there, Donald Trump, has a major lead over his closest rivals despite taking a decidedly non-Bundyesque stance towards federal management of public lands. And, seeing an opening here, Trump’s key rival Ted Cruz has chosen to make the handover of federal land to the states one of his defining issues for is campaign in Nevada as part of his last-minute tactic for closing the gap with The Donald. So Ted Cruz is about to make the Bundy movement go head-to-head with Donald Trump in a battle for the hearts and minds of Nevadans. And while having Ted Cruz channel your movement as part of his anti-Trump campaign probably doesn’t bode well for your movement, it’s still kind of exciting:

    The Independent
    Ted Cruz appeals to armed rancher Bundy and his clan by promising no more federal land management
    ‘You, the people of Nevada, not Washington bureaucrats, should be in charge of your own land’

    Rachael Revesz
    New York
    Friday 19 February 2016

    One could forgive a viewer of Ted Cruz’s latest campaign video for thinking his target audience might share connections with a certain group of armed ranchers who have recently caused chaos and disorder in Burns, Oregon.

    In the run-up to the Nevada and South Carolina primaries, presidential hopefuls have been focusing on specific races or groups of people in order to shore up support. Hillary Clinton has looked to Latino voters, Donald Trump targeted evangelicals and Bernie Sanders has spoken in support of African Americans – and now Ted Cruz has appealed to white men who own their own land.

    Texan Senator Cruz said in the video that “85 per cent of Nevada is owned and regulated by the federal government”.

    His video features a picture of a white rancher in a denim shirt and hat, leaning on a hay bale. The image might remind viewers of the rancher Bundy family, who traveled from Nevada to Oregon to protest against fellow ranchers’ extended prison sentences for setting fire to federal land. The protest involved an armed occupation of a wildlife refuge in Burns which lasted weeks and prompted the FBI to get involved. One man was killed and leader Ammon Bundy was arrested.

    “Donald Trump wants to keep big government in charge – that’s ridiculous,” said Mr Cruz. ”You, the people of Nevada, not Washington bureaucrats, should be in charge of your own land. If you trust me with your vote, I will fight day and night to return full control of Nevada’s lands to its rightful owners, to its citizens. Count on it.”

    Many rancher families, like the Bundys, and the Hammond family in Burns, Oregon have faced stand-offs with federal land management for decades and would likely be drawn to such a message of presidential support.

    “One could forgive a viewer of Ted Cruz’s latest campaign video for thinking his target audience might share connections with a certain group of armed ranchers who have recently caused chaos and disorder in Burns, Oregon.”
    Yes, you’d definitely have to forgive someone for assuming that Ted’s latest ad is targeting Nevada’s Bundy ranch sympathizers. You can start with forgiving Ammon:

    KATU
    Ammon Bundy’s lawyers: Ted Cruz ad nods to Malheur protest

    By KATU.com Staff Friday, February 19th 2016

    Ammon Bundy’s attorneys say Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz took a page from Bundy’s arguments on federal landownership in a Nevada campaign ad.

    A press release from Eugene-based Arnold Law cites the ad as an example of how the refuge occupation in eastern Oregon ‘put focus on federal land issues.’

    “You don’t have to agree with Ammon and the protesters’ political speech, their constitutional analysis or their tactics, but you have to admit they are getting results politically,” said Bundy’s lawyer Mike Arnold.

    In the ad, Cruz starts by explaining that 85 percent of Nevada is owned and regulated by the federal government, and goes on to say that he “will fight day and night” to return the land to its “rightful owners – its citizens.”

    Bundy’s group took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2 to demand the federal government turn public lands over to local control and object to the prison sentences of two local ranchers convicted of setting fires.

    The case led Bundy’s group to demand an inquiry into whether the government is forcing ranchers off their land. It’s a clash over public lands that dates back decades in the West.

    Bundy’s lawyers say the fact Cruz speaks to this issue shows the far-reaching effects of the Malheur protest.

    “Bundy’s lawyers say the fact Cruz speaks to this issue shows the far-reaching effects of the Malheur protest.”
    Well, it’s hard to argue that the Malheur protest and the earlier Bundy ranch showdown didn’t get attention for their issues. Maybe not the kind of attention the Bundys and their backers wanted to receive, but there’s undoubtedly been extra attention to their issues. But, of course, there’s been even more attention paid to another competing issue named Donald Trump. And soon we’ll get to find out who wins: Ted Cruz, using the power of the Bundy brand on his side, or Donald Trump. It’s like Batman vs Superman! Except the opposite. Still, it’s kind of exciting.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 22, 2016, 9:14 pm
  21. When Cliven Bundy requested a public attorney last month it appeared that we might not be treated to sovereign-citizen antics in Cliven’s courtroom. Well, Cliven’s public attorney recently announced that Cliven is going to be getting a new attorney, although we don’t know who that will be yet and it sounds like the courts are still deciding whether Cliven has the ability to pay for private attorney. So if you’re an attorney who wants to represent Cliven Bundy in court, there’s sort of a job opening, you’ll just have to be willing to argue that the federal goverment has no authority in case at all:

    LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

    Cliven Bundy refuses to enter plea in 2014 armed standoff near Bunkerville — VIDEO

    By JEFF GERMAN and WESLEY JUHL

    Posted March 10, 2016 – 10:13amUpdated March 10, 2016 – 7:12pm

    With a crowd of supporters in the courtroom, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy refused to enter a plea Thursday to criminal charges stemming from the 2014 armed standoff with law enforcement near his Bunkerville ranch.

    “I make no plea before this court,” Bundy said, forcing U.S. Magistrate Judge Bill Hoffman to enter “not guilty” pleas on his behalf to all 16 felony charges.

    Hoffman set a May 2 trial for Bundy before Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro, but continued his detention hearing until March 17 so his lawyer, Joel Hansen, could have more time to prepare. Bundy, 69, dressed in a red jailhouse jumpsuit, will remain in federal custody until then.

    First Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre said the government intended to argue to keep Bundy behind bars as he awaits trial.

    The arraignment took place as dozens of Bundy supporters protested his arrest on the steps of the federal courthouse.

    Afterward, Hansen said Bundy refused to enter a plea because he questions the “jurisdiction of the federal government.”

    Hansen also said Bundy doesn’t believe he’s done anything wrong.

    “Mr. Bundy is a very wonderful man,” Hansen said. “He’s never hurt a flea. He’s never been guilty of anything but a traffic ticket in his life.”

    Hansen, who has been active in the Independent American Party, an ultra-conservative political organization, told Hoffman that he wants to remain as Bundy’s lawyer, but he needs to be paid and wasn’t sure whether that would happen. Hoffman said Bundy could obtain a court-appointed lawyer if he qualifies for one.

    “Mr. Bundy is a very wonderful man…He’s never hurt a flea. He’s never been guilty of anything but a traffic ticket in his life.”
    Ah, the “this man wouldn’t hurt a flea, plus the feds have no jurisdiction” strategy for the armed standoff defense. That’s no doubt going to be a winner. But as we saw, Joel Hansen can’t continue represent Cliven Bundy until Cliven starts paying him, and right now it’s not at all clear that will happen:


    Hansen, who has been active in the Independent American Party, an ultra-conservative political organization, told Hoffman that he wants to remain as Bundy’s lawyer, but he needs to be paid and wasn’t sure whether that would happen. Hoffman said Bundy could obtain a court-appointed lawyer if he qualifies for one.

    It will be interesting to see how Cliven’s legal defense shifts if he drops Hansen and gets a public attorney instead. Of course, it’s also possible that he’ll do what Kenneth Medenbatch, one of his co-defendents, ended up doing: Waiving his right to an attorney and defending himself so he can make the same basic argument about a lack of federal jurisdiction that Cliven wants to make:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive

    Oregon standoff defendant says he was just borrowing government truck to get groceries

    By Maxine Bernstein | The Oregonian/OregonLive

    on March 11, 2016 at 2:02 PM, updated March 11, 2016 at 5:43 PM

    Kenneth Medenbach, charged with federal conspiracy and theft of government property in the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, waived his right to a lawyer Friday, citing his deeply held religious beliefs.

    “I have a Holy Spirit that lives in me and will guide me through this. He’s the creator of heaven and Earth. This is a small thing for him,” Medenbach told the court. “This life is immaterial to a future life in heaven. It’s small stuff.”

    Medenbach, 62, signed off on the waiver, despite repeated efforts by U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown to discourage him.

    Brown said a lawyer is a defendant’s advocate who helps a client understand the risks faced in court, the weight of evidence and legal ways to challenge the admission of evidence. A lawyer also would work on Medenbach’s behalf in any negotiations with a prosecutor, she said.

    “A lawyer is guaranteed through the Sixth Amendment for a very good reason,” Brown said. “For the life of me I cannot understand why you would put yourself in the position of representing yourself in this very complicated case at this stage.”

    In her 24 years handling criminal cases, Brown said she’s “never once seen a person benefit” from choosing to represent himself.

    She even shared her experience of a jury trial she handled last week when a defendant represented himself and “innocently made mistakes” during the trial that an experienced lawyer would have avoided.

    But Medenbach wasn’t swayed.

    “As a pro se litigator, I’m not held to as strict standards as an attorney would be,” Medenbach said.

    The judge told him he was incorrect. She’d hold him to the same standards as the other lawyers in the case. “You can’t expect to get a pass so to speak,” Brown told him.

    Medenbach said he had represented himself in the past in state court, but acknowledged he didn’t win any of those cases. Yet, he added, “I was able to speak my mind.”

    The judge made sure Medenbach recognized the potential maximum sentence on the charges he faced if convicted – six years for conspiring to impede federal officers at the wildlife refuge and 10 years for the theft of a government truck. She also asked if Medenbach had ever been diagnosed with a mental illness, and he replied that he hadn’t.

    Brown appointed attorney Matthew Schindler to be a “stand-by” to help Medenbach if needed.

    The judge denied Medenbach’s motion to dismiss the indictment for lack of jurisdiction and ordered him to remain in custody pending trial.

    “Why would we the people of the United States” Medenbach asked, reading from prepared statements, “give the Judicial Department the power to tell We the People what the Constitution means?”

    He argued that federal courts “continue to pervert” the Constitution and that only states have the power to own public land. He contends the Malheur refuge is not federal land, and thus, the government couldn’t prosecute him for having been there.

    Schindler, granted permission by Medenbach to speak briefly on his behalf, urged the judge to allow Medenbach’s release, arguing that the charges aren’t that serious in the realm of cases that are heard in federal court.

    “His point is not about armed conflict,” Schindler said. “It’s about our misinterpretations of the law.”

    Medenbach was arrested Jan. 15 in the parking lot of a Safeway in Burns in a truck bearing federal government license plates. He’s now charged with stealing a 2012 Ford pickup belonging to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service from the refuge.

    In court Friday, Medenbach explained: “The pickup truck was going to be brought right back. I drove to Burns to get groceries.”

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel noted that Medenbach was on pretrial release from a 2015 illegal camping case pending in federal court in Medford. He was ordered not to occupy federal land “and then he went to Malheur,” Gabriel said.

    “He argued that federal courts “continue to pervert” the Constitution and that only states have the power to own public land. He contends the Malheur refuge is not federal land, and thus, the government couldn’t prosecute him for having been there.”
    That sure sounds like Cliven’s preferred defense. Plus, Medenbach was just borrowing the truck. Definitely a winning strategy.

    So it will be interesting to see how Medenbach’s success, or lack thereof, affects Cliven’s strategy or decision to even retain a lawyer at all. For instance, if he represented himself, Cliven could engage in all sorts of other zany strategies. For instance, according to the “3 Percent Idaho” militia, the armed standoff was just a peaceful protest that was forced to take a “defensive position” due to an external federal threat. Sure, Cliven could use a similar argument for his 2014 standoff. Yes, it unlikely to work, but he could definitely use it. Especially if he represents himself:

    KTVB

    Militia group holds rally for Idahoans indicted in standoff

    Katie Terhune, 7:30 PM. MST March 11, 2016

    BOISE — Members of the militia group 3 Percent Idaho gathered on the Statehouse steps Friday to protest the arrest of four men in connection to a standoff in Nevada.

    Brandon Curtiss, the group’s president, said he believed the government is overstepping by leveling federal charges against the men, and called on Idaho lawmakers to step in.

    “Our state needs to step up and help the situation,” he said. “We feel that they’re being held illegally, unconstitutionally, and certainly they’re being subject to cruel and unusual punishment. I mean, 16 indictments – that’s ridiculous.”

    Idaho residents O. Scott Drexler of Challis, Eric Parker of Hailey, Steven Stewart of Hailey and Todd Engel of Boundary County were among 14 people indicted earlier this month for their roles in a 2014 clash with the Bureau of Land Management over grazing fees.

    They face charges of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, using and carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal law enforcement officer, obstruction of the due administration of justice, interference with interstate commerce by extortion and interstate travel in aid of extortion.

    The men are accused of traveling to Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada and squaring off with the feds who sought to seize Bundy’s cattle over unpaid grazing fees on federal land. According to the indictment, the suspects blocked BLM convoys, threatened violence and aimed guns at federal agents.

    The Idahoans face up to life in prison if convicted.

    But Curtiss said the defendants were wielding guns in response to threats, and prosecutors were now taking what happened during a tense April 12, 2014 standoff “out of context.”

    “What they were actually doing was taking a defensive position,” Curtis said of Bundy’s armed group.

    About 100 people attended the rally, with some 3 Percent members traveling to Idaho from Oregon, Utah and Washington.

    Deloy Mecham said he came up from Utah to join in the protest because he thought the men facing charges were unfairly targeted.

    “Being arrested for being a peaceful protestor is ridiculous,” he said. “We’re kind of losing our country.”

    Mecham said he felt the government of the United States was not listening to the people, and the Nevada standoff was merely an attempt to spur changes.

    “Being arrested for being a peaceful protestor is ridiculous…We’re kind of losing our country.”
    It was all just peace, love, and protest. A totally winning argument. And so simple you don’t really need a professional attorney.

    In other news…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 13, 2016, 10:44 pm
  22. Check it out: Cliven Bundy appears to be getting closer to adding a new member to his defense team. So that should help with his defense, unless, of course, his new attorney is Larry Klayman:

    Las Vegas Review Journal

    Famed conservative legal activist asks to join Cliven Bundy’s defense team

    Posted March 23, 2016 – 12:32pm Updated March 23, 2016 – 12:40pm
    By JEFF GERMAN
    LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

    Larry Klayman, a nationally known conservative lawyer, has filed court papers seeking to join Cliven Bundy’s defense.

    Klayman, the founder of the Washington-based public interest groups Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, is known for his tenacious pursuit of litigation, mostly in support of a wide range of conservative and libertarian issues.

    He said Wednesday the Bundy family asked for his legal help. Bundy, 69, who is in federal custody, is facing criminal charges stemming from the April 12, 2014, armed standoff, armed standoff with law enforcement near the family ranch in Bunkerville. The two have met before, near Bunkerville shortly after the standoff.

    “Cliven like all citizens deserves a full defense and this is a very important case, not just for him and his family but for all citizens in Nevada and the country,” Klayman said Wednesday.

    Bundy is now represented by Las Vegas attorney Joel Hansen, who is active in the ultra-conservative Independent American Party of Nevada.

    Klayman, who practices law primarily in Washington, D.C., said he wants to help Hansen defend Bundy as a private lawyer, not on behalf of Freedom Watch. He said he is no longer involved in Judicial Watch.

    Though branded by liberal media organizations as a conspiracy theorist and a professional gadfly, Klayman is described on the Freedom Watch website as being known for his “strong public interest advocacy in furtherance of ethics in government and individual freedoms and liberties.”

    He once obtained a federal court order barring the National Security Agency from conducting telephonic surveillance, and he sued former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her private emails. He also questioned the legitimacy of President Barack Obama’s citizenship in civil litigation.

    Klayman sued former President Bill Clinton so much during his two terms that the media called him Clinton’s legal “nemesis.”

    Over the years, he has had run-ins with the professional bars of Florida and Washington, D.C., but was not found to have acted unethically, he said in his petition for admission to the Bundy case.

    Klayman would not comment further Wednesday about his planned representation of Bundy.

    Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro has not yet given him permission to join the case because he needs Bundy’s signature on his petition.

    “Cliven like all citizens deserves a full defense and this is a very important case, not just for him and his family but for all citizens in Nevada and the country,” Klayman said Wednesday.
    Yep, Cliven does indeed deserve a full defense and it is an important case. So it will be interesting to see what type of defense Larry comes up with to justify the armed standoff.

    Hmmm…will it somehow revolve around blaming President Obama for forcing the standoff? That would seem unlikely based on the based of the case, but when you factor in the facts of Larry Klayman’s life, it’s less of a stretch than you might imagine.

    Although we obviously can’t rule out a “the Clintons made him do it!” defense. That could be fun.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 23, 2016, 2:54 pm
  23. Ted Cruz’s landslide victory in Utah’s primary on Tuesday no doubt raised a number of spirits in the GOP’s dwindling #StopTrump movement. And while the victory no doubt had a great deal to do with the Mormon community’s general distaste for Donald Trump, you have to wonder if the differences between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump on issues related to federal ownership and management of public lands had anything to do with Cruz’s margin of victory? May not. After all, Arizona’s primary was also on Tuesday and Trump won handily there and federal lands are a pretty bit political issue in Arizona.

    Still, as big as Trump’s Arizona victory was, Cruz’s was significantly bigger. Who knows how big an impact federal land politics made in Cruz’s landslide Utah victory, but it’s worth noting that two days before the Arizona and Utah primaries, the Trump campaign released a list of New Hampshire delegates for the Republican National Convention. And as the article below notes, a rather unusual name appeared on that list. A name that quietly sent a signal that Trump is more sympathetic to the Bundy vote than he sometimes lets on:

    Raw Story

    Indicted Bundy Ranch militant hand-picked by Team Trump as delegate to GOP convention

    Sarah K. Burris
    20 Mar 2016 at 23:56 ET

    When the New Hampshire Secretary of State released a list of delegates (PDF) who will represent the state at the Republican National Convention, one unusual name appeared: Gerald DeLemus. The man is listed as an alternate for Donald Trump’s candidacy, but unfortunately for him, he might be too busy to attend the event in Cleveland in July. DeLemus will instead be facing federal indictment for his alleged involvement with the Bundy family, according to Gawker.

    When Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy staged an armed standoff against agents from the federal Bureau of Land Management back in 2014, DeLemus was allegedly at Bundy’s side. The 64-page, nine-count indictment released earlier this month lists him as a “mid-level leader and organizer of the conspiracy,” and claims DeLemus joined eight other men who “planned, organized, led, and/or participated as gunmen in the assault, all in order to threaten, intimidate, and extort the officers into abandoning approximately 400 head of cattle that were in their lawful care and custody.”

    This isn’t the first time DeLemus has gotten Trump into hot water for being aligned with an anti-government militia movement. In December, DeLemus joined his wife, State Rep. Susan DeLemus in several interviews along with a CNN panel discussion advocating for their candidate of choice as well as voicing their anti-government sentiment.

    The judge in the case denied bail, instead ordering that DeLemus remain in custody until his trial date in Nevada. DeLemus’s wife is also listed as an alternate delegate.

    This isn’t the first time DeLemus has gotten Trump into hot water for being aligned with an anti-government militia movement. In December, DeLemus joined his wife, State Rep. Susan DeLemus in several interviews along with a CNN panel discussion advocating for their candidate of choice as well as voicing their anti-government sentiment.”
    It’s worth noting that, in this case, it wasn’t DeLemus that got Trump in hot water. This was the Trump campaign’s chosen delegate on a list released two days before the Arizona and Utah primaries. That sort of seems like a signal. Maybe, maybe not.

    But if DeLemus’s name was put on that list as a signal, that signal might have to get a lot move obvious. Not only for Trump to compete with Cruz on these issues, but just to compete with GOP itself. For instance, here’s the latest GOP idea for how to avoid future Bundy-style armed standoffs demanding the federal government end its role in the management of federal lands: With the backing of Utah’s GOP delegation in the House, Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz introduced a bill to end the federal government’s role in the management of federal lands:

    Talking Points Memo Muckraker

    After Bundy Clashes, House GOPers Push Bill To Kneecap Feds On Public Lands

    By Tierney Sneed
    Published March 22, 2016, 6:00 AM EDT

    With dozens of anti-government extremists facing criminal charges over their roles in the two high-profile Bundy showdowns over public lands, Republicans in Congress have rolled out proposed legislation that would diminish the authority of federal agencies to enforce federal public lands law.

    The bill, the Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act of 2016, was introduced last week by Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) along with the rest of Utah’s Republican delegation: Reps. Mia Love, Rob Bishop and Chris Stewart. It would strip officials in the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of their authority to enforce laws regulating federal land. Rather, local and state authorities would be provided with a block grant to enforce the laws instead.

    Speaking to Deseret News earlier this month, Chaffetz accused those federal officials of being “more Rambo and less Andy Griffith than I would like.”

    The GOP bill comes a little more than a month after the precarious conclusion of a tense showdown between anti-government extremists and authorities over public land use that left one extremist dead, a small Oregon town terrorized for weeks, and federal employees allegedly harassed and threatened.

    The Oregon occupation began in early January when a group of armed, hard-right activists took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to protest the sentences imposed on local ranchers for burning fires on public land. It was led by Ammon Bunch, the son of Cliven Bundy, who was the face of a 2014 armed standoff between militia and patriot groups and federal officials at the Bundy ranch in Nevada.

    More than two dozen extremists have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Portland for their alleged involvement in the Oregon standoff. Nearly 20 people have been have been indicted for the Nevada showdown. Some people have been indicted in both cases.

    The bill is raising of host of criticisms among those concerned about the conservation of public lands, particularly as right-wing extremists in the West have become more aggressive in their resistance to federal law concerning land use.

    “[I]t’s mind-boggling that my Republican colleagues would try to assist those who break these laws – some of whom are also involved in drug trafficking, human trafficking and even terrorism – instead of working to conserve our natural resources for everyday Americans,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources, in a statement to TPM. “Validating Cliven Bundy and his sons is not the way to improve land management and reduce conflict on U.S. public lands, but that is exactly what this Republican-led bill would do.”

    Chaffetz has said that shifting the BLM’s law enforcement to local sheriffs would help prevent future standoffs like the Oregon occupation.

    “Federal agencies do not enjoy the same level of trust and respect as local law enforcement that are deeply rooted in local communities This legislation will help deescalate conflicts between law enforcement and local residents while improving transparency and accountability,” he and the other sponsors said in a statement announcing introduction of the legislation.

    But critics say it would do just the opposite by emboldening those who have harassed federal land officials and by leaving the defense of the laws to local authorities without any guarantee that the laws be would enforced.

    “The bottom line that this is a bill that would put park rangers and law enforcement at risk at the exact time when they are being threatened by these anti-government extremists,” Aaron Weiss, the media director for the conservation group the Center for Western Priorities, told TPM. “It’s unconscionable that Chairman Chaffetz and Congresswoman Love would try to run a bill designed to endanger park rangers and law enforcement.

    Motivating some of the participants in the two showdowns is the belief that the federally-controlled land that stretches across vast expanses of the West should be handed over to local governments, and that local sheriffs — not the federal government — should settle disagreements over land use.

    Two of the bill’s sponsors, Bishop — who is also chair of the House Natural Resources Committee — and Stewart, launched the "Federal Land Action Group” last year to work on legislation that would turn public lands over to local control.

    Critics of the BLM bill argue that the lawmakers sponsoring it are in effect siding with anti-government extremists pushing the line of thought that the federal government should not be in charge of regulating public lands.

    “This is the latest in a long line of attempts to demonize agencies like BLM, which are in fact innocuous agencies that do a ton of good,” Mark Pitcavage, a senior researcher at the Anti-Defamation League, told TPM.

    Aside from the signal the bill’s opponents say it sends to extremists, they brought up the logistical concerns it poses. The legislation leaves the enforcement of federal law to local authorities who they say, at best, may not be qualified to implement it, lack the resources to take on the additional responsibilities, and even be sympathetic to those wishing to resist it.

    “It’s like telling IRS you can collect taxes but if someone doesn’t pay your taxes there’s nothing you can do about it,” Weiss said.

    When asked about these concerns by TPM, Chaffetz’s office pointed to provisions in the bill that would require the state or local governments to submit annual reports to the Department of Interior. The bill also says the local authorities would need to “enter into an agreement” with the Interior Department.

    “[T]his bill gives BLM and Forest Service the opportunity to stay focused on their core mission without the distraction of police functions,” M.J. Henshaw, Chaffetz’s press secretary, said in an email to TPM.

    While Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward was widely praised for how he handled the Oregon occupation, the sheriff in the neighboring county, Glenn Palmer of Grant County, is now under a state investigation after allegations he put his interest in the anti-government movement over his duties as a sheriff.

    “These are rangers in a sense. They are not going in anywhere with guns blazing or engaging in some sort of federal tyranny,” Pitcavage said. “The fact is that when there are conflicts between BLM officers or Forest Service officers, they tend to be on the receiving end of violence.”

    “Critics of the BLM bill argue that the lawmakers sponsoring it are in effect siding with anti-government extremists pushing the line of thought that the federal government should not be in charge of regulating public lands.”
    In fairness, the bill wouldn’t give the Bundy Brigade everything they waged two armed standoffs to achieve. In order to do that, you’d have to propose actually privatizing the land. Which, of course, Ted Cruz has already proposed. And Jason Chaffetz. And the GOP House and Senate.

    As we can see, when it comes to appealing to the federal land voters, Trump has a lot of competition. But he also some potential appeal to the Bundy supporters, especially after making DeLemus an alternate delegate. So perhaps appealing to the Bundy subset of the federal land voters is his best path to eroding Cruz’s lead in that demographic. All he probably needs to do is let his inner-Bundy shine and work that Trumpian magic. Trump should be a natural Bundy if you think about it, although not in all respects.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 23, 2016, 10:34 pm
  24. Bad news for the Bundy Brigade’s defense plans. Well, maybe it was bad: a judge just ruled that Larry Klayman can’t join Bundy’s defense team as a result of the various disciplinary proceedings Klayman faces in DC, although the judge said he’s free to reapply later. So we’ll see if Klayman ends up joining the team later, but considering that it’s very unclear that Klayman would actually be of assistance for the defense, as opposed to just a lunatic in the courtroom, the denial of Klayman’s request along with the possibility that he might still join later was certainly mixed news for the Bundy Brigade.

    But there was some recent unambiguous good news for Bundy Brigade. Pretty incredibly good news in a way: Donald Trump, who just might be the next president, recently announced his plans for eliminating the US federal debt, not deficit but debt, in eight years. Trump didn’t specify how exactly he was going to accomplish this feat, but his campaign later filled in some of the details. It mostly revolved around selling off trillions of dollars worth of federal assets, especially federal land:

    NBC News

    Donald Trump’s Unusual Plan to Lower the National Debt: Sell Off Government Assets

    by Anne L. Thompson and Christina Coleburn
    Apr 3 2016, 6:39 pm ET

    As president, Donald Trump would sell off $16 trillion worth of U.S. government assets in order to fulfill his pledge to eliminate the national debt in eight years, senior adviser with the campaign Barry Bennett said.

    “The United States government owns more real estate than anybody else, more land than anybody else, more energy than anybody else,” Bennett told Chris Jansing Sunday on MSNBC. “We can get rid of government buildings we’re not using, we can extract the energy from government lands, we can do all kinds of things to extract value from the assets that we hold.”

    In a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post, Trump said he would get rid of the $19 trillion national debt “over a period of eight years.” The article noted that most economists would consider Trump’s proposal impossible, as it could require slashing the annual federal budget by more than half.

    Glenn Kessler, who writes the Post’s Fact Checker column, deemed the plan “nonsensical” and gave it “Four Pinocchios.” Kessler assessed that even if Trump were to eliminate every government function and shut down every Cabinet agency, he would still be short $16 trillion.

    However, when pressed on whether the United States could sell off $16 trillion worth of assets, Bennett responded affirmatively on Sunday.

    “Oh, my goodness,” he said. “Do you know how much land we have? You know how much oil is off shore? And in government lands? Easily.”

    The federal government’s assets totaled $3.2 trillion as of September 2015, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. However, that does not include include stewardship assets or natural resources.

    “The United States government owns more real estate than anybody else, more land than anybody else, more energy than anybody else…We can get rid of government buildings we’re not using, we can extract the energy from government lands, we can do all kinds of things to extract value from the assets that we hold.”
    If the Bundy Brigade wasn’t backing Trump before, they’re probably pretty tempted now, although maybe not since Trump’s “privatize everything” stance is basically the same as Ted Cruz and the rest of the GOP.

    Still, if you’re a Bundy supporter who was tempted by Trump’s candidacy overall but was still worried about his previous “we need to protect federal lands” stances, you clearly no longer need to worry about a Trump presidency.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 6, 2016, 6:06 pm
  25. As the Bundy Brigade’s legal adventures get underway, an assessment of the total damage done by Bundy’s over the years is inevitably going to be something lawyers are working on somewhere. But it’s worth keeping in mind that one of the damage parties in this whole affair was the endangered desert tortoise whose habitat loss was part of what led to a modification of Bundy’s federal grazing rights and years of ensuing conflict. So if anyone should be taking the Bundys to court, it’s the desert tortoise. It isn’t easy being a desert tortoise, but as the article below notes, there one new program that might make the desert tortoise’s life a little easier but, ironically or perhaps fittingly, it involves creating a whole new armed standoff in the Mojave desert, where Cliven’s cattle is known to roam. A standoff between the tortoises and their arch-enemies the raven. It normally wouldn’t be a fair standoff since the ravens eat the tortoises, but this time the tortoises get laser beam drones to even things out. There’s a catch, however. Someone has to pilot the laser drones drones. Couch-potato conservationists are requested:

    Audobon

    Meet the Bird Brainiacs: Common Raven

    Tortoise biologist Tim Shields is trying to keep an endangered species from being eaten by ravens—without harming a feather in the process.

    By Alisa Opar
    March – April 2016

    Editor’s Note: Members of the crow family, known as the corvids, are among the smartest birds in the world. Some are capable of using tools, playing tricks, teaching each other new things, even holding “funerals.” And yet there’s still much we don’t know about these fascinating, sometimes confounding creatures. What’s going on inside the mind of a corvid? Three leading scientists are finding answers.

    Tim Shields | Common Ravens (below)

    John Marzluff | American Crows

    Nicky Clayton | Eurasian Jays

    * * *

    After more than three decades working as a desert tortoise biologist in the Mojave, Tim Shields began experiencing uncontrollable impulses to chase Common Ravens. While walking tortoise plots he’d surveyed for years, he’d see a black blur drop to the ground a half-mile away. His mind would flash on piles of palm-sized, picked-clean tortoise shells beneath electrical towers, and he’d tear off in a frenzied, and inevitably doomed, attempt to prevent the would-be killer from snatching one of his beloved subjects. “I’d run toward it like some crazy, possessed man,” he says. “I couldn’t stop myself.”

    Shields had become morbidly convinced that ravens would finish off the ancient animals in whose company he’s now spent 38 of his 60 years. As a young field grunt decades earlier, he would see 80 or more tortoises a week. He documented males head-bobbing and ramming each other in testosterone-fueled frenzies, females munching on magenta beavertail cactus flowers, couples copulating in the morning sun. The creatures were already in decline at that point, largely due to habitat destruction and the pet trade. At the same time, raven populations were swelling.

    If witnessing the torts’ slow decline was disquieting, what happened next was devastating. A respiratory disease spread through tortoise populations in the late 1980s, and by the early 2000s the illness had slashed most of those populations by 80 percent or more. The disease eventually waned and tortoise protections increased, but Shields’s surveys continued to turn up the raven-pecked shells of juveniles, each broken carapace another blow to the species’ survival. At one site in 2000 his team found 30 live tortoises and 398 carcasses. “All I was doing was taking careful notes on a quiet catastrophe,” he says. “It broke my heart. I knew I had to find some way to deal with ravens.”

    Whatever way he found would have to be nonlethal: Ravens are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Besides, Shields views harming the birds, which he calls “sentient creatures,” as unethical.

    Shields is dogged and curious, and engagingly eccentric. He spends much of his spare time performing with a puppet troupe, and when he’s out in the field he often channels Vinny, a desert tortoise that speaks, bafflingly, in Brooklynese. (“It’s like a scene from da boyds out hea tudday,” he’ll say upon seeing 500 ravens roosting on a power line.) When he heard that someone was using a laser to humanely shoo geese from an airport, he had to track the guy down. He knew nothing about technology when he cold-called Pete Bitar, CEO of Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems (XADS), which produces nonlethal weapons, including wireless tasers. But Bitar, who started out in the Styrofoam-recycling business, agreed to fly from Indiana to California on his own dime to test the laser rifle on ravens (Shields cleared the test with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). “One shot and they scattered,” Shields says. “It was beautiful.”

    Still, the laser alone didn’t constitute a strategy for battling ravens; it wasn’t practical to have ever-present sentinels deployed across the desert, ready to pull the trigger whenever a bird threatened a tortoise. Then one night over dinner, months later, Bitar mused that he had a funny idea: “What if we put a laser on a ledge and let people shoot pigeons?” He laughed it off, but the offhand comment inspired in Shields a middle-of-the-night epiphany. He bolted awake with a clear vision: a Doom-like video game in which users haze ravens with lasers attached to remote-controlled tortoise robots, fending off attacks in real time. He would recruit a legion of couch potato conservationists to the cause.

    Shields knows it’s a highly speculative venture. Not to mention a rather ironic mission for someone who views shooter video games as “violent and idiotic.” But he has poured much of his life savings into his startup, Hardshell Labs, and has managed to cajole a crew of uber-nerds—Adobe and Apple engineers, NASA contractors, video game designers—to contribute their time and expertise to his quixotic quest. Most were recommended by an existing “speculative associate,” as Hardshell’s collaborators call themselves, and then bombarded with emails and calls from Shields.

    Which is what happened when Bitar suggested Shields reach out to Roy Haggard, whose credentials include developing a radar test system for a Mars Rover lander. “Tim pestered me until I said yes,” says Haggard. “I like tortoises, but it would never occur to me to spend my time on this if I didn’t think it had huge potential.” Even if the laser and other emerging technologies Hardshell is investigating never morph into the addictive eco video game Shields envisions, if any prove commercially viable, they could have far wider applications than safeguarding tortoises. Dozens of species of protected birds devour crops or strike airplanes, racking up expensive damages and management nightmares. “We are on a technological binge, and that’s not going to change,” Shields says. “Why not try to make the most of it?”

    The way Shields sees it, the tortoises simply need a break. They’re resilient creatures that have roamed the Southwest for millions of years, adapting as what had been a shallow inland sea transformed to desert. Human development, which began in the 1940s, proved harder to withstand. Ravens followed close behind people, as they tend to do, using electrical towers and other structures to nest, roost, and perch. The unfussy eaters thrived on garbage but also enjoyed the easy pickings of young tortoises, whose plodding pace is no match for the acrobatic flyers and whose shells, until about age five, are too soft to fend off raven beaks. Today the bird and the tortoise overlap across more than 60,000 square miles. It’s a scene playing out with other species elsewhere in the West, where ravens prey on Greater Sage-Grouse, Marbled Murrelets, and Least Terns. Rather than attempt to battle the birds everywhere they occur, Shields aims to create raven-free zones, a square mile or so each, in critical areas. That should, he says, allow some young torts to get through the gauntlet.

    The tricky part is convincing ravens to turn down calories. Like their urban-dwelling crow cousins, they’re incredibly intelligent and resourceful. Ravens raised in captivity can learn to mimic human speech. In the wild they cooperate and learn from one another. Pairs at seabird colonies work the crowd like experienced grifters: One bird distracts an incubating adult while the other swoops in and snatches the exposed egg or chick. They sometimes hunt larger prey in groups, like winged wolves. No surefire tools exist to deter the tricksters from a food source, whether it’s trash, nut crops, or baby tortoises. “In 25 years I haven’t seen anything make a dent,” says William I. Boarman, a tortoise and raven biologist who has worked for multiple federal agencies.

    Boarman ticks off the options: Wildlife Services, the federal agency with the authority to take protected species, could kill ravens. Mass poisoning, however, needlessly kills large numbers of birds that aren’t troublemakers, and new birds simply move into the void. As for the other deadly approach—shooting birds with telltale tortoise shells scattered beneath their nests—nobody has ever done follow-up studies to see whether new tortoise snatchers take up residence. Then there are nonlethal controls, none of them particularly successful. Set off propane cannons, shoot blanks, or use disco-ball-style light shows, and the birds withdraw, watch, and then, once they realize there’s no actual danger, return.

    “Tim is the most creative person trying to solve this situation, and it’ll be great if the avenues he’s pursuing work,” says Boarman. “Even so, I’m skeptical.” Ravens might prove too intelligent to trick, and tortoises might be too far into the danger zone or spread out too far to save.

    Early one September morning, Shields and biologist Al DeMartini, a Hardshell speculative associate who helps run the laser rifle trials, hunker down in a narrow crevice atop a bluff with the laser from XADS. The weapon is the most advanced product Hardshell is investigating, and the first one Shields will test during a three-day visit to the western Mojave. A thousand feet away, ravens trickle into the tidy black rows of compost at American Organics, a facility in Victorville, California, that processes food waste collected from greater Los Angeles. The birds seem oblivious to the steady boom of propane cannons—deterrents the company is legally required to use to try to keep ravens off the 10-acre smorgasbord. “Right now this is Shangri-la for ravens,” Shields says. “We want to make it hell on Earth.”

    Five months earlier Shields and DeMartini conducted an eight-day trial here, firing the laser at set intervals and conducting counts every 20 minutes. The first day they tallied almost 600 birds. By the eighth, that number had dropped to the teens.

    Today Shields, bouncing with nervous energy, asks DeMartini for a count. “We got 66 on the rows, 340 in the trees,” DeMartini reports with the confident ease of an experienced birder. “Rambo time?”

    “Let’s do this,” Shields says, lifting the boxy rifle and lining up the sights. Bitar’s company designed the TALI TR3 to dazzle and disorient pirates in the Indian Ocean without hurting them; at 200 feet it poses no harm to human vision. It puts out three watts of green light, which means the beam extends about a mile. Shields fires at a bird pecking at compost. A dim fluorescent green beam silently appears in the bright sunlight. There’s no dramatic Star Wars-esque crackling whoosh or pew-pew-pew. (If it’s ever incorporated into a game, the company might need to add sound effects to satisfy players.)

    The bird’s reaction, however, is plenty dramatic. It whirls into the air the instant the dot touches its belly, like an action-flick character diving for cover upon spotting the red laser aiming dot from an enemy’s rifle. Nearby birds flee the chow lines, too, warned by their neighbor’s behavior. Shields gives a joyful whoop and sweeps the cottonwoods, the laser dot dancing across the greenery. In minutes the trees are empty of all but a handful of ravens. A few dozen circle overhead. Over the next two hours a couple hundred filter back in. By the third morning, about 200 birds show up, half that of the first day. The stalwarts are jittery. A passing train lifts dozens temporarily into the air. “Ooh, they’re spooked,” says Shields. After a few shots most of the birds exit the area completely, not bothering to circle.

    Nobody knows for sure why the laser scatters ravens, says John Marzluff, a University of Washington corvid expert. (To read about Marzluff’s work with crows, see “The Cave Man.”) He suspects the birds perceive the beam as a solid stick appearing out of nowhere, or maybe feel mild heat. “Whatever it is, they’re probably thinking, ‘I don’t know what just hit me; I’ve got to get out of here,’ ” Marzluff says. The startle effect ripples throughout the flock, spreading the message that the laser is something to avoid.

    Marzluff says innovative nonlethal tools are essential to prevent the “unsustainable and unethical” killing of ravens. But he stresses that Shields must prove that ravens don’t become habituated to the laser. Otherwise it’s no better than a propane cannon.

    Shields is working on it. He’s collecting data at several other sites, including a pistachio orchard and roost, and expanding to other avian species and alternative laser colors. If the technology pans out, Stephen Fettig, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Migratory Bird Program, thinks it would be in high demand. “There are so many ways protected birds can sometimes be nuisances,” he says. Fettig asked Shields for a demo on herons and egrets gobbling fish at a Northern California aquaculture facility. He was staggered to see a few quick shots displace all but one of the dozen or so birds. “The high power, high accuracy, human control, and short duration of the laser make it very different than anything else I’ve seen,” he says. “Of course, it still needs to be proven. Lots of startups look like they’re going to make millions, then they fizzle.”

    Shields is well aware of the uncertainty. “It could go really wrong,” he says. “But things out there are really wrong. The cliff is coming up fast.”

    Between laser trials, Shields trots out other potential products, including a drone on loan from a company called Aeronautical Sports League. He wants to see if drones could possibly monitor and haze ravens. The virtual reality goggles he dons allow him to stay out of sight, so the birds don’t associate the orange, four-propeller machine with a person. The drone sends 50 ravens flying when it gets to within about 50 feet. Shields is tickled but wonders if the goggles’ video resolution could be improved. Next he pulls out one of the new 3-D tortoise shells AutoDesk, the international software giant, is printing for Hardshell. The ersatz carapaces are so realistic that they initially fooled Boarman, the skeptic. This spring he’s putting the shells out at 40 camera traps to measure raven predation. Shields, meanwhile, is already planning to take the faux shells to the next level: He raised funds via a Kickstarter campaign to add raven-detecting sensors to the shells, and to see if tainting them with a nontoxic repellent convinces ravens that torts make terrible snacks. (Vinny, the tortoise puppet, is the face of the online fundraising efforts, lending a wry, whimsical bent to video updates.)

    The main focus, however, is a rover prototype that may be the predecessor to a tortoise-sized vehicle that would roam among the reptiles. In the video-game scenario, remote rover operators might get points for spotting tortoises and predators, and noting interesting behavior, while their laser-operating teammates rack up points for repelling ravens. Today rover and tortoise will meet for the first time ever.

    The rover that Roy Haggard and his computer programming guru Chris Smith have built looks like a $100 radio-controlled toy truck with a cheap Samsung camera phone attached. Which is exactly what it is, plus a whole lot more, explains Smith, an engineer whose resume includes developing next-generation 911 routing and dispatch systems. Although the duo is accustomed to working with six-figure budgets, they have turned the roughly $25,000 Hardshell has raised into a highly responsive vehicle that anyone on the planet can operate via the Internet—all with cellphone conferencing software and clever hacks to other existing technology.

    Shields removes a six-inch-long captive tortoise from a box and sets it beside the rover. Haggard and Smith duck into a utility shed with the controls. In the cramped space, they hunch over Haggard’s laptop, squinting at the small screen. Haggard has the rover control and Smith the one for the camera phone, which tilts, rotates, and provides the video. The tortoise eyes the vehicle for a few moments, ambles over, and, to everyone’s delight, licks a wheel. Then, apparently losing interest, it wanders off, the rover following close behind for an hour. There’s one mishap: The rover accidentally runs over the seemingly unperturbed tortoise, launching a discussion about adding a proximity sensor that activates a brake, like those in cars. Also, the video resolution is a little noisy, and the second-long lag time between the control and the rover is irksome. “With $100,000 we could fix that,” says Smith with a sigh. “I have the phone numbers of the two best guys in the first-person viewpoint technology domain,” says Haggard. “I’d like to talk to them about this, see what they suggest.”

    Shields is elated at the rover’s progress. But later, after going over the highlights of the three days, he becomes unusually glum. “I know I look like a giddy kid in a toy store out here,” he says, his blue eyes brimming with tears. “I would trade it in a nanosecond to go back to 1979 and see 10 or more tortoises a day.”

    He sits quietly for a few minutes, then sighs and stands up. It’s time to get back to work—and into character. Vinny has a video progress report to record.

    “Still, the laser alone didn’t constitute a strategy for battling ravens; it wasn’t practical to have ever-present sentinels deployed across the desert, ready to pull the trigger whenever a bird threatened a tortoise. Then one night over dinner, months later, Bitar mused that he had a funny idea: “What if we put a laser on a ledge and let people shoot pigeons?” He laughed it off, but the offhand comment inspired in Shields a middle-of-the-night epiphany. He bolted awake with a clear vision: a Doom-like video game in which users haze ravens with lasers attached to remote-controlled tortoise robots, fending off attacks in real time. He would recruit a legion of couch potato conservationists to the cause.
    The tortoises need YOU. Of course, even if this plan works, it’s going to have to work on a lot more than just ravens to really protest the desert tortoise. And, sadly, it turns outs that one of the groups of animals that the desert tortoise needs protecting from requires its own protection: It turns out Cliven Bundy’s heard of cattle that have been illegally grazing on federal land all these years is still wandering and grazing, but it’s overgrazing and now the cattle is starving. And the Nevada Department of Agriculture isn’t able to intervene without the Bureau of Land Management’s approval, and the BLM is hesitant to intervening because the last time they tried to remove his his from federal lands there was an armed standoff. And to make matters worse, the overgrazing by Bundy’s feral cows is leading to the starvation of the desert tortoise. So it sounds like those raven lasers might need to work on cattle too. But if the the cattle is scared off the land it’s overgrazing, it sounds like someone (the government) needs to feed Cliven Bundy’s cattle so it doesn’t eat the desert tortoise’s future:

    Reno Gazette-Journal

    Ask the RGJ: Are cows starving in Nevada desert?

    Mark Robison, 10:06 a.m. PDT April 14, 2016

    Are cows being allowed to starve in the Gold Butte area of Nevada?

    •Short answer: Yes. The cows are caught in limbo between state and federal authorities while reproducing in a hot, desert area without enough forage.

    Full question

    An online petition headlined “Hundreds of Cattle Starving in Nevada – They Need Your Help!” has gathered about 5,600 signatures, as of this writing.

    Upon learning of the petition, I wanted to know if it was true.

    Full reply

    The petition makers describe the background this way: “Since the early 1990s, cattle have been left to fend for themselves in the desert after Cliven Bundy, a private rancher, lost his privilege to graze on federal public lands that belong to all Americans. This once-small herd of around 150 animals has grown to hundreds or more over the course of 20+ years and now badly exceeds the ability of the land to feed and nourish them. They range over an immense area about half the size of the state of Rhode Island. While the area is large, it only receives about 4 inches of precipitation a year and vegetation is very sparse.”

    Nevada Department of Agriculture has legal responsibility for “feral” animals on public land, so I asked if there was any truth to the claim that Bundy-linked cows were starving in southern Nevada.

    Flint Wright, the department’s animal industry administrator for the Nevada, replied by email:

    “We have not received any substantiated reports of Cliven Bundy’s cattle starving on the Golden Butte allotment — though this may be true to some extent, as Cliven’s management practices leave a lot to be desired.

    “Yes the cattle are in trespass and some are unbranded, and therefore feral and estray. Also yes, per [Nevada Revised Statute] 569, that makes them state property. However, because they are trespassed on BLM ground with a court order in effect, it would require BLM or the court to authorize the [Nevada Department of Agriculture] to perform any sort of gather of the cattle.”

    He said the current population of cows there is unknown but are estimated at 1,000 or more.

    Up until 1992, Bundy was allowed to graze 500 head of cattle year-round. “When the desert tortoise was listed as an endangered species in 1992, his allotted [animals he could graze] were reduced from 500 to 150, though his herd never was,” Wright said.

    Since the state of Nevada says its hands are tied and would require a court or the Bureau of Land Management to authorize it to round up the cows, I next contacted the BLM to learn whether the cows indeed are starving.

    Rudy Evenson of BLM Nevada responded with this statement: “The Bureau of Land Management too is concerned about the welfare and condition of the cattle and has discussed this situation with other interested parties such as the Humane Society of the United States. Unfortunately, all previous attempts to remove Mr. Bundy’s trespass cattle from the public lands have been met with threats of violence and most recently with an armed assault on law enforcement officers.”

    This, of course, refers to the infamous 2014 standoff where the BLM attempted to round up the animals because Bundy hadn’t paid his grazing fees, sparking an armed confrontation where the feds backed away over fears of a deadly confrontation.

    Apparently such fears still exist, putting the cows in bureaucratic limbo.

    I asked: “Does the BLM have any plans to have the cattle in the Gold Butte area gathered or to otherwise mitigate any starvation threats?”

    I was told that the Washington office would have to respond to this question. Multiple follow-ups asking for a reply were not answered.

    Since the BLM mentioned discussing the situation with the Humane Society of the United States, I contacted that animal welfare organization, which sent me to the Center for Biological Diversity, a national nonprofit conservation group that defends rare species and their habitats.

    Rob Mrowka, a senior scientist with the center, said by phone that Bundy had given up his grazing rights in 1993 and simply let his cows loose to reproduce, leading to the situation where hundreds are starving now.

    Told about the Nevada Department of Agriculture saying it cannot do anything because of the BLM, he said, “We believe they have joint responsibility and possibly even legal obligations.”

    He said that one reason he got involved was because Gold Butte is a critical habitat for the desert tortoise.

    Normally areas of the range are rotated for grazing, with periods of rest to let it grow back, but Mrowka said the cattle “are there 24/7, 365 days. When the desert tortoises come out of their tunnels to forage in the spring, it’s been nibbled down.”

    He wants the BLM to work with animal welfare organizations to rescue the abandoned animals and either move them to rescue organizations or humanely euthanize those who can’t be saved.

    “Normally areas of the range are rotated for grazing, with periods of rest to let it grow back, but Mrowka said the cattle “are there 24/7, 365 days. When the desert tortoises come out of their tunnels to forage in the spring, it’s been nibbled down.””
    This sounds like a job for lots of state and federal officials to round up and feed the cattle. But also remote controlled laser drones piloted by random volunteers from around the world. Who knows who might suddenly become interested in wildlife conservation efforts if it was presented to them as part of a Doom-like real life video game? Ex-ranchers with a lot of time on their hands should love it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 17, 2016, 11:11 pm
  26. With the results of yesterday’s five state US presidential primary coming in a Trumpian flush, it can’t easy being Ted Cruz. T is for ‘terrible Trump’ when you’re Ted tonight. And now a Hail Mary is necessary. That and an actual miracle. So as bizarre as Ted Cruz’s decision was today to declare Carly Fiorina as his Vice Presidential pick should he get the nomination, it was understandably bizarre and not just because everything Ted does is kind of bizarre. Why not declare a Veep the day after the front-runner crushes you in five of the dwindling number of primaries left? Hail Mary’s don’t throw themselves. You have to do something. What does Ted have to lose at this point?

    Time will tell if this turns out to be the bold move that thwart’s Donald Trumps path to securing the 1,237 delegates he needs to avoid a contested convention, but it may not take that much time to tell. Indiana’s primary is coming up on Tuesday and after that there’s only nine more states to go. So if a putative Cruz/Carly ticket can’t give the #NeverTrump movement the inspiration it needs to ensure the outcome of Cleveland isn’t a foregone conclusion, it’s worth keeping in mind that there’s no reason the Cruz campaign can’t throw multiple Hail Marys. Is Ted really going to rely on Carly’s charisma to ensure his prophetic role is fulfilled? Of course not. He’s got to have something else up his sleeve.

    If not, he’d better find something fast and shove it up those sleeves. The clock is ticking. And that’s why Ted Cruz’s woes could be a source of glee to another set of Cruz allies: The Bundy Brigade! If Ted Cruz needed a Hail Mary prop, he could certainly do worse than the Bundy Brigade. Sure, he’s already voiced indirect support for the standoff in Oregon and tried to exploit the issue in Western state primaries, but he could go a lot further. At this point there’s all sorts of potential benefits with minimal costs to someone like Ted. Ted’s a lawyer, so why not assist in the Bundy’s legal defense? That’s just the kind of crazy crap that gets Cruz’s base hummin’ and Ammon Bundy has already indicated what his defense is going to be: The Federal government has no authority over those federal lands. Isn’t that basically Ted Cruz’s platform for federal lands? And the GOP’s in general?

    And, yes, if Ted used his legal knowledge to figure out some sort of legal loophole that gets them off he would be an instant hero, but he doesn’t even need to do that. Ammon Bundy is already trying to raise funds to finance his defense, so all Ted needs to do is rally around the Bundys to help get raise money and then he can grandstand around talking about how ready he his to fight the federal government once he’s put in the White House. That’s far-right PR gold. And don’t forget that Oregon is one of the 10 remaining primary states.

    In other words, Carly might be Ted’s choice for Veep. But why stop there? The Cruz administration’s Secretary of the Interior could be prematurely selected too, and his name should obviously be Ammon:

    Think Progress

    The Bundy Legal Defense: Feds Have No Jurisdiction Over Federal Lands

    by Jenny Rowland — Guest Contributor Apr 27, 2016 1:44 pm

    Ammon Bundy, the leader of the 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge who was arrested on federal conspiracy charges on January 26th, is planning a courtroom defense that hinges on a bizarre and implausible legal argument that the U.S. government does not have authority over the public lands it manages.

    A motion filed by Bundy’s lawyers explains that they will argue that the federal government does not have jurisdiction over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and therefore cannot prosecute him or the other occupants under laws governing federal property.

    Bundy is currently being held at the Multnomah County Jail in Portland, Oregon and faces at least nine federal charges, including conspiring to impede federal officers and possession of firearms in a federal facility.

    “The motion … will challenge the Federal Government’s authority to assert ownership over the land that is now known as the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. It is [the] Defendant’s position that this authority is critical to the Federal Government’s authority to have federal employees work on that land,” writes Bundy’s lawyer Lissa Casey in the motion. “[The] defendant further intends to argue that once statehood occurred for Oregon, Congress lost the right to own the land inside the state.”

    Legal experts say that Bundy does not have the law on his side.

    Not only does the property clause of the U.S. Constitution give Congress authority over federal property, the Supreme Court has ruled multiple times that the U.S. government has authority over public lands “without limitation.” Additionally, a 1935 case directly addresses the ownership of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, finding that the refuge indisputably belongs under federal control.

    The legally unfounded argument that national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands should be “given back” to the states is not unique to Ammon Bundy. It has been pervasive among radical and anti-government groups, including the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, which insists that county sheriffs are the only valid legal authority in the United States. Bundy, whose defense rests largely on an unconventional interpretation of the Constitution, is also known to carry a pocket copy of the Constitution annotated by communist conspiracy theorist Cleon Skousen.

    Ammon Bundy and his lawyers are advertising their legal strategy as part of a pitch to raise money. Bundy’s defense team’s website is crowd-funding money to help pay for his legal defense, even offering copies of the constitution signed by Ammon Bundy as a reward for donors. The law firm has already faced numerous state bar complaints for using social media to exploit public records laws for the case.

    Despite the lack of legal precedent for the federal government giving public lands “back” to the states during the refuge occupation and in the legal battle now, Bundy’s views on public lands are shared by several members of Congress who are part of what the Center for American Progress has labeled an “anti-parks caucus.”

    The Federal Land Action Group (FLAG), which is composed of Members of Congress whose stated goal is to “develop a legislative framework for transferring public lands to local ownership and control” is meeting this week to discuss a proposal to dispose of national forests and other public lands in the state of Nevada.

    The bill, called the “Honor the Nevada Enabling Act of 1864 Act” is unlikely to pass given the strong opposition of sportsmen, conservationists, and western leaders to the concept of seizing and selling public lands. Opponents of this bill also point to a clause in the Nevada Enabling Act — the law establishing Nevada as a state — which specifies that the state “disclaims right and title to unappropriated public lands lying within said territory.”

    “At a time when groups like the American Lands Council are encouraging states to ignore centuries of property law, the Bundy case is the perfect opportunity to remind anyone who would try to take land from the American people that such efforts are wildly unpopular, unwise, and unlikely to succeed,” said Jen Rokala, Executive Director of the Center for Western Priorities, in a statement.

    “At a time when groups like the American Lands Council are encouraging states to ignore centuries of property law, the Bundy case is the perfect opportunity to remind anyone who would try to take land from the American people that such efforts are wildly unpopular, unwise, and unlikely to succeed.”
    That may be true, but the Bundy case is also the perfect opportunity for Ted Cruz to highlight how he has championed those wildly unpopular, unwise, and unlikely to succeed efforts for years. This is the GOP primary, after all. Unpopular, unwise, and unlikely to succeed efforts are sort of its raison d’etre, as evidenced by the fact that Ted Cruz is leading the GOP in its #NeverTrump efforts. If ever there was a scenario that exemplified unpopular, unwise, and unlikely to succeed efforts, it’s the GOP presidential primary. Showing how dedicated you are to unpopular, unwise, and unlikely is sort of how you win. At least win the primary. There’s clearly some unexploited Cruz/Bundy synergy here.

    Also don’t forget that, should this come down to a contested convention, Donald Trump already has an army of foot soldiers getting ready to roam the streets of Cleveland and gang-stalk delegates into submission. If a contested convention is the only way Ted Cruz can win at this point, doesn’t he need an army to descend on Cleveland and too? They could guard the pro-Cruz delegates’ hotels or whatever. There’s got to be tons of uses for a loyal Cruz militia with the Trumpian hordes on the prowl. And what better way to get a militia to come to Ted’s defense in Cleveland than by intervening in the Bundy Brigade’s legal defenses right now? It seems like the kind of Hail Mary Ted needs now and later because forming a loyal militia for Ted isn’t just the kind of move that could help reinvigorate the Cruz campaign and get him to the contested convention he needs to win. If he’s going to win that contested convention in July, he’s still going to need that militia.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 27, 2016, 7:47 pm
  27. Michelle Fiore, the Nevada state assemblywoman from Cliven Bundy’s district who is currently running to get the GOP nomination for a US congressional seat, had an interesting take on the Bundy clan’s armed showdowns with the BLM that’s bound to get her the sovereign citizen vote: You shouldn’t raise you gun at cops…unless they already have their guns raised at you, in which case it’s apparently ‘anything goes’.

    So either state representative Fiore views the US government as being so illegitimate that it should be viewed as a hostile occupying force, or she has a very confusing idea of how law enforcement might need to work in situations where someone is an armed threat. And since this is the state representative for Cliven Bundy and one of his biggest fans, it’s probably a bit of both:

    Think Progress

    Nevada Lawmaker: It’s Okay To Aim Guns At Cops If They Aim At You First

    by Josh Israel May 2, 2016 12:05 pm

    Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R), who is currently seeking her party’s nomination for an open U.S. House seat, said last week that she believes the right to self defense includes the right to aim your gun anyone who aims a gun at you, even if they are a law enforcement officer.

    In an interview with a local TV station last Sunday, Fiore attacked the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as “a bureaucrat agency of terrorism.” Pressed by KLAS-8 host Steve Sebelius about whether she believes the Second Amendment grants citizens the right to point a weapon at a “duly authorized law enforcement officer who is just out there doing his job,” she said that self-defense includes the right to aim back at anyone who points a gun at you first — and to put your own life ahead of theirs.

    “I would never ever point my firearm at anyone, including an officer of the law, unless they pointed their firearm at me,” Fiore explained. But, the assemblywoman continued, “once you point your firearm at me, I’m sorry, then it becomes self-defense. Whether you’re a stranger, a bad guy, or an officer, and you point your gun at me and you’re gonna shoot me and I have to decide whether it’s my life or your life, I choose my life.”

    Fiore helped negotiate the end of a standoff earlier this year between armed militia and ranchers and law enforcement officials. The armed group had occupied a federal facility near Burns, Oregon, in protest of the prosecution of two ranchers, who set a fire to their property that spread to land owned by BLM. She has previously pushed the debunked claim that one of those militants was killed by police with his hands up.

    Fiore’s record on guns has long been one of the most extreme in the nation. She released a “2016 Walk the Talk Second Amendment Calendar” featuring pictures of herself with large guns. One photo showed her clad in a white dress, wearing diamonds, and holding a semi-automatic AR pistol, with the caption “Diamonds aren’t a girl’s only best friend.” Last year, she suggested that “hot little girls” on college campuses should carry concealed guns to prevent rape. She also proposed the arming of school teachers and administrators to prevent mass shootings.

    Fiore’s Republican assembly colleagues elected her majority leader in 2014, but she was stripped of the position when it was revealed that she faced more than $1 million in tax liens.

    “I would never ever point my firearm at anyone, including an officer of the law, unless they pointed their firearm at me”
    Well, that’s sort of, but not actually, a bit of a relief. Just a bit.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 5, 2016, 10:51 pm
  28. With all the focus on how Donald Trump’s nomination will change the Republican Party going forward, it’s worth keeping in mind that the GOP isn’t just going to potentially grow via a Trumpian reality tv revolution at the top of the ticket. There’s all sorts of other directions the party can go simultaneously, especially when you factor in local races. That’s just part of the nature of the GOP’s ‘Big Tent’ of unworkable ideas. For instance, while Cliven Bundy may have recently left the GOP, there’s no reason Cliven can’t be pulled back to party by the GOP’s surge in militia candidates associated with the Bundy standoffs in numerous local elections this year:

    The Guardian

    The rise of militias: Patriot candidates are now getting elected in Oregon

    Like Trump, the Patriot Movement’s surge is due partly to fear and the perceived indifference of political leaders to places that didn’t recover from the 2008 crash

    Jason Wilson in Josephine County, Oregon

    Tuesday 10 May 2016 06.00 EDT

    Joseph Rice’s manner is a long way from militia stereotypes. The Patriot Movement leader does not present as a crazed gun nut, nor as a blowhard white supremacist. He’s genial, folksy, and matter-of-fact in laying out his views. But talk to him for long enough, and time and again the Patriot Movement leader returns to what really drives him: land.

    Rice is running for Josephine county commissioner in south-west Oregon, and believes that the federal government’s current role in land management is illegitimate and even tyrannical.

    His campaign is well-advertised around the county and appears well-organised. His growing experience in organising Patriot groups and community watch organisations has polished his skills in retail politics. He’s clearly done a lot of work to make himself politically palatable to conservative rural voters.

    He has positions on education (kids should finish high school), legalised marijuana (it presents an economic opportunity) and Donald Trump (“people are tired of career politicians, and they know the country’s in trouble”).

    But county supremacy is what really drives him.

    The doctrine of county supremacy embodies two key beliefs: that the county Sheriff is the highest law enforcement authority, and that the United States government has no right to public lands, which should properly be under local control. It derives from a peculiar reading of common law and the US Constitution, and it has underpinned western insurrections, from the Posse Comitatus to the Bundy Bunch.

    It’s this notion that is once again becoming central to local politics in the Pacific north-west. Throughout the region, people whose ideas about land management broadly align with Rice and the now infamous Bundy clan are aiming for elected office in cities, counties and even the state houses.

    Taking notice of the trend, progressive watchdog group Political Research Associates even pointed to “a wave of Patriot-affiliated candidates in Oregon”.

    Rice talks proudly of his connection with the Oath Keepers – a group which recruits from serving and retired law enforcement officers and military personnel. The group asserts that the oath taken by soldier and police “is to the constitution, not to the politicians”, such that serving personnel are obliged to disobey unconstitutional orders.

    He’s also proud of his role in founding the Pacific Patriots network, which aims to coordinate members of various patriot groups in the Pacific north-west.

    Both groups, and Rice himself, were prominent actors in the standoff at the Malheur national wildlife refuge last January. On Rice’s account, “we acted as a buffer between the federal government and the refuge”.

    In practice, this meant that they were a constant presence in and around Burns, Oregon, as the occupation unfolded. Their actions included everything from warning law enforcement officers against attempting a forceful resolution of the situation to forming an armed perimeter around the refuge.

    While the Malheur occupiers are mostly in custody awaiting trial, the ideals that fuelled their protest are still very much at large.

    Gradually, these ideas are taking hold in local Republican parties. While the nation has been transfixed by the Trump tilt in presidential politics, at the grassroots level in Oregon, candidates who have sympathies and connections with the Patriot movement have already successfully sought office under the GOP banner.

    Josephine County local elections are non-partisan, but Rice is clearly well-integrated with the GOP there, meeting reporters in their offices and running as a precinct committee person in the primary.

    David Niewert, an author and journalist who has spent decades watching the right, says that as recently as 10 years ago, Rice’s message would have been unpalatable to most GOP voters. But the Tea Party movement established a conduit for more radical ideas “to flow right into the mainstream of the Republican party”.

    GOP legislators have been floating these ideas in the Oregon state house. In Oregon’s third house district, Carl Wilson is seeking re-election. After an initial stint in the state house between 1998 and 2003, he successfully ran again in 2014. He has wasted no time in pushing an agenda that borrows, like the Bundys, from the so-called “land use movement”. Wilson also lent his support to the Sugar Pine Mine occupation, which was a dress rehearsal for Malheur.

    Wilson – who did not respond to interview requests from the Guardian – proposed Oregon Bill HB3240, which sought to set up a taskforce to investigate the transfer of federal lands in Oregon to state ownership.

    The bill went nowhere in the Democrat-dominated state house, but Wilson’s stances have drawn a large number of donations. Notably, according to Oregon electoral filings, last year Koch Industries donated $2,500 to his campaign committee.

    This kind of support in a sleepy Oregon district only makes sense when it is seen as a part of the right’s bottom-up strategy to push and legitimate the view that federal land management needs to be rolled back.

    Those ideas get a hearing in Oregon’s rural counties because communities there are squeezed in a social and economic vice. In the last three decades, counties like Josephine have been hit with a series of shocks.

    First, the timber industry declined, though only partly because of changes in federal land management practices. This led to diminished prosperity and a collapse in funding for public services. Federal timber payments declined 90% over the course of the 1990s. Later, the 2008 bust and recession hit rural Oregon hard, and many areas have yet to recover.

    Since 2012, when the last federal payments dried up, Josephine County has struggled to provide the basic elements of public order.

    The budgets of the sheriff’s office, juvenile justice centre, adult jail and district attorney’s office have been cut by more than 65%. In 2012, they set free county prisoners they could no longer afford to house, and a sheriff’s department that had once boasted 30 deputies was reduced to six. Large sections of the county are still not effectively policed, especially after dark. State police highway patrolmen have been diverted to answer emergency calls.

    Jessica Campbell, co-director of the progressive Rural Organizing Project, says that this has led to unacceptable outcomes, particularly for local women. In particular, she says it has made women more vulnerable to domestic violence, with perpetrators knowing that night-time 911 calls will be unlikely to get a response.

    In 2012, a woman was raped in her home in Josephine County after she called 911, and was told no officers were available to help her. At the time, the county sherriff admitted that he did not have the resources to collate crime statistics.

    While Rice plays down the issue of violent crime, Campbell says his position depends on “a whole lot of privilege”. Efforts to raise special levies for public safety have repeatedly failed at the ballot box, scuppered in part by anti-tax campaigns.

    Finally, last March, the county declared a “public safety fiscal emergency”, starting the path to emergency state funding. For Rice, this is not only an unforgivable renunciation of county sovereignty, but “a perpetual marketing thing” that the county commissioners employ in order to claim more money.

    He advocates beefed-up neighbourhood watch programmes and “resident deputies” – community members who would take policing into their own hands. In effect, self-organized, patriot-style organisation would fill the void left by permanently weakened county institutions.

    In addition, he offers the economic panacea of reopening federal lands to extractive industries. It’s a message with undeniable appeal in parts of the country that feel abandoned, economically and politically.

    Like Trump, the Patriot Movement’s surge is due in part to fear, pain and the perceived indifference of both economic winners and political leaders to the fate of communities that have never recovered from the 2008 crash. In places that need radical solutions, the only radical proposals they are hearing come from the right.

    “Gradually, these ideas are taking hold in local Republican parties. While the nation has been transfixed by the Trump tilt in presidential politics, at the grassroots level in Oregon, candidates who have sympathies and connections with the Patriot movement have already successfully sought office under the GOP banner.”
    Bundy/Rice 2020! It’s just the ticket the GOP needs to up the crazy train ante…assuming Trump/God 2016 ticket (you know it’s coming) doesn’t pan out. Or maybe it’s the ticket the GOP absolutely needs to avoid if it wants to avoid electoral ruin for a generation, but will have an extremely hard time avoiding, should a Trump loss leads to some sort of existential crisis if large numbers of the GOP’s rabble refuse to come “home” to alleged “RINOs” like Paul Ryan. Either way, given the nature of the GOP’s ‘Big Tent of Bad Ideas’, if this Trumpian thing fizzles out, it’s basically guaranteed that whatever replaces the GOP’s Trumpian moment is going to present some sort of existential threat to the US and world at large. Will it be an old school GOP-brand existential threat? Or some new even worse thing for everyone to glom onto? Given the nature of the current Trumpian zeitgeist amongst GOP primary voters, it’s not going to be super shocking if the GOP has to totally rebrand itself to win back its voters if a non-Trump GOP is just seen as boring and corrupt.

    That’s one of the interesting risks of the GOP’s Trumpian gamble: If Trump leaves the stage in a manner that leaves the GOP base no longer trusting the rest of the GOP “establishment”, it’s not at all clear what the GOP can do to win back that trust. Except rebrand itself.

    And given the apparent success and open welcome of the militia is getting in the GOP in places like Oregon, it’s pretty obvious where the party is going to go next to bring that crazy *sizzle*. At least in some states. It’s a Big Tent which raises the question of whether or not a Bundy/Rice sovereign citizen platform could go national for the GOP in a post-Trump possible future. We’ll see. Cruz/Satan is another obvious choice, although not for everyone.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 10, 2016, 8:14 pm
  29. Cliven Bundy’s legal strategy took another turn for the disturbingly weird last week when it was reported by Oregon Public Broacasting that Cliven’s lawyer emailed Ken Ivory, the Utah state legislator who headed up the Koch-backed American Lands Council that’s dedicated to privatizing federal land, and asked if Ivory could somehow arrange for some of that Koch sugar to make its way towards not just Cliven’s defense fund but the entire Bundy Brigade’s legal defense fund. It’s not actually surprising at all that such a request was made considering the fact that Bundy’s mass land privatization goals are strongly backed by Koch brothers. It’s the fact that one of the US’s most wealthy and influential political dynasties just got a request to fund the legal defense of an armed insurrection sovereign-citizen rebellion and it’s not surprising because they share so much politically that’s the disturbingly weird part:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Cliven Bundy’s Lawyer Wanted The Koch Brothers To Pay Defense Fees

    By Lauren Fox
    Published May 23, 2016, 1:18 PM EDT

    A public records request from Oregon Public Broadcasting reveals that Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy’s defense lawyer tried to get the Koch brothers to help cover Bundy’s legal bills.

    According to the e-mail obtained by OPB, Bundy’s lawyer Joel Hansen reached out to Republican Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory, a mover and shaker in the transferring federal lands movement. Ivory sponsored legislation that became law in 2012, which transferred Utah fed lands back to the state although the lands still remain in federal control today. Hansen asked if Ivory might be able to reach out to the Koch brothers and see if they would be interested in helping pay for Bundy’s legal defense.

    “I cannot represent Cliven for free. I’m not independently wealthy,” Hansen wrote in the e-mail to Ivory. “I understand from news articles that the Koch brothers are helping to fund Cliven’s efforts to return our lands to the states. I would like to speak with someone about helping to fund the legal fees associated with this case.”

    Hansen is a Nevada-based lawyer who says he has been friends with Bundy for years and has worked in the state for 38 years. He’s been active in land disputes with the federal government before, defending Cliff Gardner, another Nevada rancher who went head to head with the feds over grazing his cattle.

    Hansen went on to say that the case would “be huge” and that the “legal fees will not be insignificant” as there are to be 19 defendants.

    “I cannot represent Cliven for free. I’m not independently wealthy…I understand from news articles that the Koch brothers are helping to fund Cliven’s efforts to return our lands to the states. I would like to speak with someone about helping to fund the legal fees associated with this case.
    Yes, Cliven’s lawyer Joel Hansen somehow got the impression that the Koch brothers “are helping to fund Cliven’s efforts to return our lands to the states” and decided to ask Ken Ivory to talk to the Kochs on his behalf. It’s a pretty reasonable request when you consider all the media coverage of the Koch’s ties to the efforts to privatize federal lands in recent years. And it’s also pretty reasonable to ask Ken Ivory to make the Koch introductions. Or at least it would be reasonable if Ivory wasn’t suddenly denying that he or his “American Lands Council” organization had ever receive “a penny” for the Koch Brothers and doesn’t know them at all:

    E&E Publishing, LLC

    PUBLIC LANDS:
    Utah lawmaker says Bundy attorney barking up wrong money tree

    Phil Taylor, E&E reporter
    Greenwire: Wednesday, May 25, 2016

    A Utah state lawmaker who is leading the push to transfer federal lands to states signaled yesterday he has no plans to raise cash for Cliven Bundy’s legal defense stemming from the rancher’s 2014 standoff with the Bureau of Land Management over trespassing cattle.

    State Rep. Ken Ivory (R) added in an interview that his nonprofit American Lands Council (ALC) has not received “a penny” from the billionaire Koch brothers or their charities.

    Bundy, 70, is in jail facing federal felony charges for his role in corralling hundreds of protesters, scores of whom were armed, to oppose BLM’s roundup of his cattle. A trial is set for February in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.

    Bundy’s defense attorney Joel Hansen on March 11 sent Ivory an email asking whether he would help raise money to cover the rancher’s legal fees.

    “I cannot represent Cliven for free,” Hansen said in the email obtained by a reporter for Oregon Public Broadcasting through a public records request and released this week.

    “I’m not independently wealthy,” Hansen continued. “I understand from news articles that the Koch brothers are helping to fund Cliven’s efforts to return our lands to the states. I would like to speak with someone about helping to fund the legal fees associated with this case.”

    Ivory said as far as he knows, the email was real. But he never read it, and his office has sent no official response.

    The implication that the Kochs are funding ALC, which supports legislation and litigation to force the United States to relinquish its vast Western landholdings, is false, Ivory said.

    “We have not received a penny from the Koch anybodies,” Ivory said. “I don’t know the Koch brothers.”

    ALC in the past has listed Americans for Prosperity as among its “bronze level” supporters on its website. The Washington Post described AFP as a “Koch-backed advocacy group.”

    The armed uprising near Bundy’s Bunkerville, Nev., ranch and his son Ammon’s 40-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge have put organizations like ALC in an uncomfortable spot. The group is fighting for the same ends — divestment of federal lands — as the Bundys, though they disagree on the means.

    Other defendants in the case are being represented by taxpayer-funded attorneys.

    “The implication that the Kochs are funding ALC, which supports legislation and litigation to force the United States to relinquish its vast Western landholdings, is false, Ivory said.”
    Well, that certainly doesn’t bode well for the Bundy Brigade’s prospects of the getting their hands on some of that Koch cash. At least not through Ken Ivory, who has suddenly become persona non Kocha. Of course, now that Hanson’s inquiry is being reported in the news, it’s not like Joel Hanson and the Bundy’s need Ken Ivory to let the Kochs know they need Koch cash. The Kochs’ media monitors have no doubt already read about it by now.

    So we’ll see if the Kochs decide to kick a few bucks in the direction of Bundys. Although, as the article below about the Koch’s extensive ties to Ken Ivory suggests, given the way the Kochs prefer to indirectly and quietly promote their causes, even if they do decide to fund the Bundys we might not see it:

    Climate Progess

    The Koch Brothers Are Now Funding The Bundy Land Seizure Agenda

    by Jenny Rowland — Guest Contributor & Matt Lee-Ashley – Guest Contributor Feb 11, 2016 12:35 pm

    The political network of the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch signaled last week that it is expanding its financial and organizational support for a coalition of anti-government activists and militants who are working to seize and sell America’s national forests, monuments, and other public lands.

    The disclosure, made through emails sent by the American Lands Council and Koch-backed group Federalism in Action to their members, comes as the 40-day armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is winding to an end.

    The occupation came to a head Wednesday night, with the FBI moving in on the four remaining militants at the refuge and arresting scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy at the Portland airport under charges of conspiracy to impede federal officers. Occupation leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy were previously arrested under the same charge on January 26. The Bundys and their group of militants want the federal government to cede national public lands to state and private control.

    Though ClimateProgress has previously uncovered and reported on the dark money that the Kochs have provided for political efforts to seize and sell public lands, recent organizational changes reveal that the Koch network is providing direct support to the ringleader of the land grab movement, Utah state representative Ken Ivory, and has forged an alliance with groups and individuals who have militia ties and share extreme anti-government ideologies.

    The expanded window into the Koch network’s support for the land transfer movement opened on February 3, 2016, when the American Lands Council (ALC) (a group whose goal is to pass state-level legislation demanding that the federal government turn over publicly owned national forests and other public lands) announced that Ivory would be stepping down as its president to join a South Carolina-based group called Federalism in Action (FIA).

    At ALC, Ivory had risen to be the most prominent and active voice in the land seizure movement, but his tenure as president was plagued by evidence that the group violated state lobbying laws, was tied to the Koch-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and used taxpayer money to fund their campaigns to seize public lands.

    Though he will continue to serve as an unpaid member of the American Lands Council executive committee, Ivory is joining the FIA’s “Free the Lands” project, a joint initiative between Federalism in Action and The American Lands Council Foundation.

    This new “Free the Lands” project sits at the confluence of Koch funding, anti-government ideology, and land seizure activists and militants. The graphic below illustrates this web of funding, resources, and staff.

    [see graphic]

    Federalism in Action was launched a few years ago by two groups: State Policy Network and State Budget Solutions (SBS). Because FIA is a new organization, its funding sources are not yet public. However, according to IRS filings, State Budget Solutions received money through the Donors Capital Fund, an organization known for cloaking the sources of funding which it distributes, and is sometimes referred to as a Koch “ATM. The SBS leadership recently joined ALEC and Ken Ivory is listed as one of SBS’s senior policy fellows. The group “works to make its vision … a reality … through the project Federalism In Action.”

    Federalism in Action is also a member of the State Policy Network, which is the Koch-funded network of more than 50 right-wing think tanks in states across the country.

    Also supporting the Free the Lands Project: the American Lands Council Foundation, the tax-exempt non-profit arm of the American Lands Council. Upon announcing the departure of Ken Ivory from ALC’s presidency, the group named Montana State Senator Jennifer Fielder as its CEO. Fielder is Montana’s leading figure in the land seizure movement and has proposed legislation that would require the federal government to cede ownership of all national forests and public lands in Montana to the state. The bill was unpopular and and swiftly vetoed by Montana Governor Steve Bullock.

    Fielder’s selection as ALC’s CEO suggests that the group is tightening its ties with the violent anti-government elements of the land seizure movement that is represented by Cliven Bundy and his sons. Fielder’s land seizure efforts and campaign for Montana State Senate, for example, were vocally supported by a Militia of Montana organization that is run by white supremacist John Trochmann. In a recent blog post Fielder also expressed her support for the Bundys and the Oregon militants by referring to them fondly as “cowboys” and “protesters” performing “an act of civil disobedience” and bringing “new light to the widespread problems of a distant federal bureaucracy in control of local land management decisions.”

    Still, the Bundy brothers and their political allies face long odds in their quest. Proposals to transfer national public lands to state control have been shown to be unconstitutional, costly to states, and deeply unpopular with western voters. And while a wholesale privatization of public lands may benefit the Koch brothers and other oil, gas, and coal interests, new research shows that protecting national public lands has actually resulted in big economic gains for many rural economies.

    “At ALC, Ivory had risen to be the most prominent and active voice in the land seizure movement, but his tenure as president was plagued by evidence that the group violated state lobbying laws, was tied to the Koch-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and used taxpayer money to fund their campaigns to seize public lands.
    Huh. Maybe that was one of the articles Joel Hanson read that gave him the zany idea that Ken Ivory might be a good person to ask about some Koch cash for land privatization causes. But it looks like Ivory won’t be making his bagman services available. Back to the drawing board.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 30, 2016, 6:43 pm
  30. While one could characterize the Bundy Brigade’s Sovereign Citizen-esque land privatization movement as a bad solution looking for a tangentially related problems to capitalize on, it’s worth keeping in mind that, now that the Bundy Brigade is in prison awaiting trial, there’s no shortage of tangentially related justice issues that are real issues looking for real solutions. Prisoner rights, the privatization of prisons, and the general approach to incarceration as a form of rehabilitation are issue spaces that are bound to be related to the current condition of the Bundys and their fellow militant followers in jail. One of the many paradoxes associated with the legal system is the fact that jailing people is supposed to simultaneously deter people from committing crimes while also rehabilitating the prisoners. And the conditions required to do both aren’t generally compatible. The more life sucks during and after prison and the longer they stay in prison, the less likely someone is realistically going able to do whatever rehabilitation they need to do.

    And this is putting aside people who are in for crimes that shouldn’t be crimes like the vast majority of non-violent Drug War sentences. We’re talking about people in prison for something really bad and possibly violent. That simultaneous need to house people that, for whatever reason, got a punishment as severe as prison, coupled with the need to potentially rehabilitate and provide whatever other care for them that civilized societies do is one of the many reasons why prisoners don’t generally have a problem finding valid reasons for a valid political protest or statement because you almost can’t imagine a more conflicted area or policy than those involved imprisoning someone for their and/or everyone else’s good. Imprisonment, just or otherwise, is a moral minefield.

    So with Cliven Bundy’s lawyer, Joel Hansen, unsuccessfully inquiring with Ken Ivory if the Koch brothers might be interested in funding the Bundy Brigade’s legal defense, it’s worth keeping in mind that the jailing of Bundy Brigade as they await their legal hearings is another issue space that could have some overlap with the Koch empire. Legal reforms, as a vehicle for shielding companies and CEOs from legal liabilities, is one of the Koch’s current pet projects. And, whatever, beggars can’t be choosers. If the Kochs were to help turn the Bundy’s treatment in prison as a platform for promoting justice reform that results in better treatment of prisoners, great. Let’s do that. There’s bound to be some aspect of the Bundy Brigade’s incarceration that warrants reform, so promoting prison reform might be the best thing that could emerge from all that dangerous zaniness that’s come from the Cliven Bundy’s armed extralegal quest to avoid paying grazing fees.

    Still, if the Kochs can somehow be persuaded to publicly champion the Bundys over their prison treatment, let’s hope it doesn’t involve championing things like that are about as insane as what the Kochs normally promote. Causes that just make a bad situation worse and more dangerous for almost everyone. We probably don’t need to worry about prison-reform causes getting too nuts, but considering how cynical the Kochs are, we should at least be aware that Ryan Bundy is demanding his Second Amendment rights while he’s in prison:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Shocker: Bundy Bros Discover That Jail Inmates Have Fewer Freedoms

    By Lauren Fox
    Published May 25, 2016, 10:36 AM EDT

    Ammon and Ryan Bundy want their Constitutional Rights –including the Second Amendment– to be recognized in jail and are considering suing the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office to get them, according to a report from Oregon Public Broadcasting.

    In documents filed Tuesday, the Bundys argued their constitutional rights are being infringed upon because they are not free to assemble nor are they free to practice their Mormon religion.

    The Bundy brothers alleged that they have little access to their legal teams, “insufficient accommodations for religious practice,” and are “being denied access to materials and resources reasonably required to defend their respective cases.”

    “Despite being presumed innocent, these defendants are treated as harshly and the same as convicted felons with whom they are commingled and housed,” they alleged.

    The Bundy brothers also claimed that their rights to have confidential conversations with their lawyers have been infringed upon because when they do have access to telephones, their calls are monitored in jail. Ammon Bundy also alleged that at least in one instance documents related to his trial strategy were confiscated.

    Ryan Bundy wrote in the document that “my rights are being violated. My right to life is being violated. All of my First Amendment rights are being violated. My right to freedom of religion is being violated. I cannot participate in religious activities and temple covenants, and wear religious garments.”

    Specifically Ryan says lack of access to talk with Ammon Bundy violates his freedom of assembly. He also argues that his Second Amendment rights have been violated, presumably because guns are not allowed in jails.

    “When I say my rights are being violated, I want the Court to know that all of my rights are being violated; every last one of them. I could argue that my right
    to life hasn’t been taken. But the FBI tried to take that right when they attempted to kill me,” Ryan Bundy wrote. “They missed on that one. I still have the bullet to prove that.”

    “Specifically Ryan says lack of access to talk with Ammon Bundy violates his freedom of assembly. He also argues that his Second Amendment rights have been violated, presumably because guns are not allowed in jails.
    Keep in mind that if all we know is that Ryan Bundy wants his Second Amendment rights within the context of a jail environment, it’s possibly he’s talking about assembling a Bundy Brigade militia armed with something other than guns. It’s not clear and since that’s probably less insane than guns for prisoners we shouldn’t rule that interpretation out. Also keep in mind that should the Bundy Brigade be allowed to form a jail militia,they’ll presumably proceed to occupy the prison’s common spaces and demand their right to privatize and use those spaces as they see fit.

    And don’t forget that if Ryan Bundy’s legal complaints somehow made it all the way to the Supreme Court (who knows, maybe some Koch cash might put together a prisoner rights legal case that could go far), that case could go to a Supreme Court shaped by President Trump’s three to four appointed Supreme Court justices of an Atonin Scalia variety. So when we’re speculating about how far Ryan’s Bundy’s gun grab will go, we can’t forget that we’re now an election away from Trumpian ‘anything goes’ territory. At least that’s the worst case scenario. There’s nothing preventing a very different future that involves a Supreme Court that upholds a constitutional right to high quality rehabilitative care in the justice system. That’s an option too. So let’s hope we don’t have to arm jail militias. But if we do, let’s hope it’s limited to arming those jail militias therapeutically.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 5, 2016, 10:50 pm
  31. With the Bundy Brigade currently in jail awaiting trial both criminal and civil trials, it’s easy to forget that it was just a few months ago when we had an armed standoff with a very unclear ending that could have resulted in a lot more than just the unfortunate death of LaVoy Finicum. But as the article below makes clear, there’s going to be no shortage of reminders of the lethal nature of the Bundy Bridage’s protest movement as the trials unfold. Exhibit A: the over 1,600 rounds of shell casings from the makeshift firearms training range:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive

    Feds: Evidence of firearms training during refuge standoff by Malheur boat launch

    By Maxine Bernstein
    on June 10, 2016 at 5:49 PM, updated June 10, 2016 at 6:50 PM

    FBI agents found evidence at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge that occupiers used a boat launch area for firearms training, discovering about 1,685 spent shell casings there, according to a new federal complaint.

    The government is seeking the civil forfeiture of 50 guns and huge caches of ammunition that federal agents either seized from the refuge after the 41-day occupation or from defendants’ cars and homes, the complaint says. Authorities earlier seized 14 other guns in or near the refuge in January.

    Defendant Ammon Bundy and supporters took control of the refuge on Jan. 2. The occupation led to the indictment of Bundy and 25 other people on charges of conspiring to impede federal workers from doing their jobs at the federal bird sanctuary in eastern Oregon’s Harney County.

    The government must file for forfeiture of evidence within 120 days of its seizure. Notices will go out to owners of the weapons, who have the right to challenge the forfeitures.

    FBI agents searched the refuge grounds and buildings after the last four people surrendered, from Feb. 12 through Feb. 23, the complaint says.

    They found most of the guns at the outside encampment on the refuge’s west side where the holdouts of the occupation camped during the final two weeks, according to the complaint: at least six rifles, two handguns and boxes of shotgun shells and assorted ammunition there. They also found shotgun shells in one of three trenches that occupiers dug at the site, FBI special agent Katherine Armstrong wrote in the complaint.

    Agents also recovered boxes of ammunition from the refuge’s firefighter bunkhouse and in two offices in refuge buildings. Among the seized ammunition were hollow point bullets, Armstrong noted.

    The occupiers carried the weapons as a “show of force and intimidation,” she said, partly to ensure “that the demands they made would be taken seriously,” to defend themselves if law enforcement engaged them and to conduct regular security patrols.

    Defendant Ryan Payne and others helped split the occupiers into teams to cover guard shifts, patrolling the blocked refuge entrances and manning the refuge watchtower, Armstrong wrote.

    “When not on duty, some teams would practice patrol movements,” Armstrong wrote. “There was firearm training at the refuge as well, though not all occupiers participated.”

    The more than 1,600 shell casings that FBI agents found at the refuge were seized from the refuge’s boat launch area, located about 1.5 miles northeast of the refuge RV parking area, the complaint says.

    The FBI alleges that the guns were used in the alleged conspiracy to intimidate and impede 16 federal employees from working at the refuge, including a federal law enforcement officer and a volunteer coordinator who worked in the visitor center and lived on the refuge. During the occupation, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management closed its Burns district office, where about 80 people work, out of concern for their safety. They weren’t allowed to return to work until Feb. 29, the complaint says.

    “The more than 1,600 shell casings that FBI agents found at the refuge were seized from the refuge’s boat launch area, located about 1.5 miles northeast of the refuge RV parking area, the complaint says.”
    The practice 1600 gunshots must have spiced up the negotiations with authorities quite a bit. And the fact that those shell casings are just sitting there as evidence probably means the prosecutors’ cases that they were using threats of violence to intimidate authorities should be a pretty easy case. There’s a firing range as evidence. But as the article below makes clear, that doesn’t mean there won’t be some prosecutorial complications:

    Patch.com

    Oregon Standoff Latest: Prosecutors Say Seized Guns Were For Intimidating and Threatening Federal Officers
    Prosecutors file paperwork to take possession of dozens of guns found at the Malehur National Wildlife Refuge.

    By Colin Miner (Patch Staff) – June 12, 2016 1:30 am ET

    “It is my belief that all of the firearms described in this declaration had been brought to or near MNWR (Malheur National Wildlife Refuge) grounds by the indicted and unindicted occupiers prior to seizure for the purpose of impeding, intimidating, and threatening federal officers from discharging their duties.

    That’s FBI agent Katherine Armstrong in an affidavit filed Friday spelling out why she believes the 50 guns seized by the federal government after the 41-day armed occupation of the refuge are subject to forfeiture.

    Civil forfeiture laws give the government 120 days after the seizure to file paperwork to take possession.

    “It is evident from the statements and actions of the armed occupiers that the open carry, display, and talk of weapons and need to use force if confronted by federal agents, was done for the purpose of threatening and intimidating federal officials from discharging their duties,” Armstrong writes.

    In court papers, Armstrong quotes several of the occupiers discussing the possible use of force.

    “I’m right now in the process of trying to set up a constitutional security protection force to make sure that these federal agents and these law enforcement don’t just come in here like cowboys, that’s we have to prevent that,” she quotes Joseph O’Shaughnessy saying in an interview broadcast by Pete Santilli.

    Both are among the 27 people who have been indicted in connection with the takeover

    Armstrong also quotes occupation leader Ammon Bundy from an a nationally televised appearance.

    “We are serious about being here,” she quotes him as saying. “We’re serious about defending our rights, and we are serious about getting some things straightened out.”

    Armstrong says that when Bundy was then asked if the occupation would lead to violence, he replied: “Only if the government wants to take it there.”

    Another of the occupation leaders, Ryan Payne “provided guidance to other occupiers concerning tactics, and occupiers were placed into teams to split up guard shift and patrol duties,” Armstrong writes.

    “When not on duty, some teams would practice patrol movements. There was firearm training at the refuge as well, though not all occupiers participated.”

    In all the government found 50 guns in and around the refuge as well as hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

    In addition, Armstrong writes that more 1,600 spent shell casings.

    While this was happening in civil court, in criminal court, a setback for prosecutors as the judge in the case again the remaining 24 defendants – two have pleaded not guilty – dismissed a weapons charge against eight of the defendants.

    U.S. District Judge Anna Brown dismissed the charge of using and carrying firearms in the course of a crime of violence.

    She said that the prosecution’s contention that the defendants stopped federal workers from doing their job through intimidation and threats of force did not necessarily mean they had had threatened the use of physical force.

    “She said that the prosecution’s contention that the defendants stopped federal workers from doing their job through intimidation and threats of force did not necessarily mean they had had threatened the use of physical force.”
    That’s right. At the same time prosecutors are making the case that the Bundy standoff was a violent threat of violence intended to itimidate the government into compliance, the judge in the criminal case dismissed the prosecutors charges that the threats of force constituted the threat of physical force. Yes, that actually happened.

    So what exactly did the judge rule in the criminal case? Well, the logic appears to be that, because prosecutors are charging that the Bundy Brigade “threatened” federal officials in a manner that didn’t just include the threat of violent force to the federal officials themselves but also threats to property and other non-violent threats like blackmail, the charges involving the threat of the use of violent force should be thrown out because the underlying conspiracy that the Bundy Brigade was engaged in centered around threats that included violence, but went beyond violence:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive

    Judge dismisses one of the gun charges against Ammon Bundy, 7 co-defendants

    By Maxine Bernstein
    on June 10, 2016 at 4:39 PM, updated June 10, 2016 at 7:28 PM

    A federal judge has dismissed the charge of using and carrying firearms in the course of a crime of violence against Ammon Bundy and seven co-defendants, finding the underlying conspiracy charge doesn’t meet the legal definition of a “crime of violence.”

    The ruling dismissing Count 3 in the federal indictment is the first major win for the defense in the pending case stemming from the 41-day armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

    U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown issued a 16-page written ruling, finding that the umbrella charge of conspiring to impede federal officers from doing their work at the refuge through “intimidation, threats or force” doesn’t necessarily mean that the conspiracy must involve the “threatened use of physical force” against a person or property.

    She noted that the word “intimidation,” for example, could apply to threats of nonviolent harm to property.

    Further, a “threat” under the conspiracy allegation could involve the blackmailing of a federal officer to prevent the federal officer from doing his or her federal duties — a threat that doesn’t necessarily require “threatened use of physical force,” the judge wrote.

    So, if the underlying conspiracy charge isn’t restricted to a “crime of violence” but encompasses a “broader swath” of conduct, then the count that charged eight refuge occupiers with using or carrying firearms in the course of “a crime of violence” should be thrown out, the judge ruled.

    Defense lawyer Per C. Olson had argued in legal briefs and oral arguments for dismissal of Count 3 on behalf of his client, David Fry, and the others charged.

    Olson told the court that the government wrongly applied a definition of “intimidation” from a federal bank robbery charge to the conspiracy charge. He argued that prosecutors can’t “lift a definition” from another statute and “shoehorn it” into this charge without any case law to base it on.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight had conceded in a hearing that Count 3 presented “a close call” for the court.

    But Knight argued that the conspiracy very much represented a violent crime and should be left up to a jury to decide, perhaps with a special jury instruction, asking whether jurors believe there was a threat of violence or physical force involved in the conspiracy alleged.

    Brown said she was bound by 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rulings. A crime of violence is defined as any offense that is a felony and “by its nature involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used.”

    Count 3 would have carried a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, and a maximum sentence of life. If a defendant had been convicted for using and carrying a firearm in the course of a violent crime, the sentence would have to run consecutive to sentences imposed on any other counts.

    The remaining counts have less severe penalties, Olson pointed out. The federal conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of six years with no minimum and possessing a firearm in a federal facility carries a five-year maximum sentence with no minimum.

    “So, with regard to those defendants who were charged in Count 3, this ruling greatly reduces their overall exposure to prison in the event of convictions,” Olson said Friday.

    “So, if the underlying conspiracy charge isn’t restricted to a “crime of violence” but encompasses a “broader swath” of conduct, then the count that charged eight refuge occupiers with using or carrying firearms in the course of “a crime of violence” should be thrown out, the judge ruled.”
    Word to the wise: making lots of non-violent threats like blackmail or expanding your threats of violence to include violence against property and not just people are apparently the legally prudent things to do if you find yourself in the middle of a act of a violent intimidation.

    Who know what lessons we’re supposed to draw from all this, but it’s presumably something worth keeping in mind while plotting your next move on your armed standoff’s shooting range.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 12, 2016, 9:53 pm
  32. The FBI arrested a Utah militia leader in what appears to be the latest attempt by Bundy-affiliated militias to escalate their protests. Now, instead of just occupying federal buildings, one Bundy-affiliated militia, along with LaVoy Finicum before the occupation of the Malheur refuge, apparently decided that it would be a good idea to blow them up instead:

    The Gephardt Daily

    Utah Militia Leader Accused Of Trying To Detonate Bomb At BLM Facility; FBI Claims Ties To LaVoy Finicum

    By Gephardt Daily Staff –
    June 24, 2016

    SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 24, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — The leader of a Utah-based militia group was arrested by the FBI late Wednesday for the attempted bombing of a remote Bureau of Land Management facility in Mount Trumbull, Arizona.

    According to a probable cause statement filed Wednesday by federal prosecutors in Salt Lake City’s U.S. District Court, William Keebler, 57, of Stockton, Utah was arrested just hours after he attempted to trigger what he thought was an explosive device placed at the door of BLM cabin.

    Charging documents reveal the bomb was a dummy, built and planted by undercover FBI agents who had infiltrated Keebler’s militia group.

    Prosecutors say Keebler is the commander of the Patriots Defense Force (PDF) headquartered in Stockton in Tooele County, and claim he and members of his group had been actively plotting to bomb BLM facilities, including an office at the Gateway Mall in downtown Salt Lake City. The feds say the group had even conducted reconnaissance at the site before Keebler decided to target more remote locations.

    The five-page felony complaint begins with prosecutors pointing out that Keebler was present for 13 days during the tense 2014 armed stand-off over grazing rights between the Bureau of Land Management and supporters of dissident Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy outside Bunkerville, Nevada.

    Cliven, and sons Ammon, Dave and Ryan, are currently in federal custody, facing an array of weapons and conspiracy charges in connection with the 2014 standoff.

    Ammon and Ryan also face federal charges for their alleged roles in the armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Reserve outside Burns, Oregon in January 2016.

    The Oregon standoff largely ended with the death of Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, who died in a hail of gunfire during a roadside confrontation with the FBI and Oregon State Police.

    In Wednesday’s court filings, federal prosecutors claimed Finicum and Keebler had conducted surveillance of the Mount Trumbull, Arizona BLM facility in October 2015, along with an undercover FBI employee, who accompanied Keebler while posing as a militia member.

    The idea that Finicum planned to take part in a bombing stands in stark contrast to his family and friends’ contention that the flamboyant Arizona rancher acted as a peacemaker and educator during the Oregon takeover.

    Cliven Bundy’s wife, Carol, spoke to Gephardt Daily about Keebler’s arrest Thursday night. In a conversation with Bill Gephardt, Carol Bundy said Keebler was a freedom-loving patriot.

    “I know him as a good, solid man that desires freedom,” she said. “I don’t know much about this incident other than what’s going around on the news and I don’t really believe the news, but I have read the indictment and I think that it was entrapment.

    “He had people who infiltrated his organization and they even say in the indictment they had people there that were there undercover. I think that was entrapment. That’s just my opinion. I don’t have any proof.”

    The probable cause statement paints a striking portrait of the FBI’s efforts to infiltrate militia groups involved in the 2014 Bunkerville standoff. That scrutiny effort seemingly increased after the Oregon occupation.

    “For several months, undercover employees (UCEs) of the FBI have been members of the PDF. The undercover employees had face-to-face interactions with Keebler, as well as cellular phone conversations and communications,” the probable cause statement said.

    “The UCEs have participated in field training exercises (FTXes) organized by Keebler during which PDF members practice shooting at targets and receive instructions regarding firearms and military and survival tactics.

    “Keebler has continued to recruit, organize, and prepare the PDF for the day when they can take part in anti-government action with other militia groups similar to the event in Bunkerville, Nevada,” the statement said.

    Federal prosecutors said those training exercises intensified in the months following the Bunkerville showdown, with Keebler telling militia members in May of 2015 that he was putting team together “to go on the offensive.”

    On March 19, 2016 Keebler told militia members the government had been allowed to harass people, but “repercussions were going to start.”

    Those repercussions, according to the FBI, included plans to attack BLM facilities “in the middle of nowhere” with the goal of doing “severe damage of BLM vehicles or buildings.”

    Keebler then allegedly tasked a PDF member to “build an explosive device that could disable a BLM vehicle or damage a building.” That PDF member, according to the charging documents, was an undercover FBI employee.

    On April 8, 2016, the undercover employee demonstrated the power of two pipe bombs showing a video of office furniture being blown in southern Utah. Keebler was allegedly impressed by the display and asked the undercover agent to build two new explosive devices that would be twice as powerful the first.

    The first bomb, Keebler said, needed to be triggered via remote control signal from a walkie talkie, and would be used in blowing up a cabin at the BLM outpost in Trumbull, Arizona.

    The second bomb was to have a time fuse and be used against law enforcement officers should PDF members be stopped heading into or out of the Mount Trumbull facility.

    On Monday, June 20, Keebler, and other militia members, including undercover FBI agents, left Stockton, Utah and arrived in Arizona where they once again surveilled the BLM property.

    The following night, Keebler was handed a remote control detonator by one of the undercover agents a told it would set off an explosive device left at the door of one of the BLM cabins.

    According to the charging documents “Keebler then pushed the detonator button multiple times in order to remotely detonate the inert explosive. After the remote detonation, Keebler departed Mount Trumbull and returned to Utah.”

    If convicted, Keebler could face 20 years in federal prison.

    “In Wednesday’s court filings, federal prosecutors claimed Finicum and Keebler had conducted surveillance of the Mount Trumbull, Arizona BLM facility in October 2015, along with an undercover FBI employee, who accompanied Keebler while posing as a militia member.”

    That certainly adds some context to the government’s response to the occupation: LaVoy Finicum had already scouted Mount Trumbull along with William Keebler and an undercover FBI agent for the purposes of bombing it. That probably isn’t going to help with the Bundy Brigade’s ongoing attempts to portray themselves as a non-violent civil-rights movement. Not that the effort was going well to begin with. But it’s not going to help.

    It’s also probably not going to help that Mount Trumbull is near Finicum’s ranch and the name of a nearby town started by one of the Bundys’ ancestors. It’s a rather symbolic bombing target and, again, not the best symbolism:

    The Salt Lake Tribune

    Charges: Utah head of militia tried to detonate bomb at BLM facility in Arizona

    By MATTHEW PIPER | The Salt Lake Tribune connect
    First Published Jun 23 2016 11:37AM • Last Updated Jun 23 2016 11:16 pm

    Federal prosecutors say a Tooele County man placed a pipe bomb against the door of a BLM cabin and pushed the button on a remote detonator multiple times, with no result.

    His mistake? He’d unwittingly assigned an undercover FBI agent to build the bomb.

    In April, the militia member showed him a video of a 6-inch pipe bomb blowing up office furniture in the mountains of southern Utah. Keebler asked the militia member to make more of those bombs, saying he hoped to target a BLM cabin in Mount Trumbull, Ariz., that he had visited with Finicum for reconnaissance in October 2015.

    He wanted two bombs — one that he would detonate near one of the cabins at the Mount Trumbull facility, and the other to use against law enforcement agents if they were stopped driving to or from Mount Trumbull.

    Keebler planted the device — which, unknown to him, was inert — late Tuesday. He tried multiple times to detonate the device remotely, charging documents state, before departing. The FBI arrested him Wednesday morning in Nephi.

    According to the charging documents: “Keebler made it clear he didn’t plan on blowing people up for now, but he wanted his group to be prepared to escalate things, and take people out if necessary.”

    West Valley City resident Pete Olson attended Keebler’s initial court appearance Thursday, having met Keebler at Finicum’s early-February funeral in Kanab.

    Olson said he didn’t know Keebler to have any involvement with explosives. Rather, Olson said, Keebler tried to educate people about what he felt was an unconstitutional use of power by the federal government.

    “Bill’s always been a good, friendly guy,” Olson said. “Many people are upset with the current direction of the government.”

    A news release says the FBI’s Salt Lake City Joint Terrorism Task Force led the investigation with help from the FBI in Phoenix, BLM law enforcement and local law enforcement.

    Mount Trumbull is near the BLM grazing allotment owned by Finicum, known as Tuckup.

    Finicum was fined $12,000 after his cattle were found last August to be grazing on the land before the permitted season. His wife, Jeanette Finicum, recently said she hasn’t determined how to proceed, but the Finicum cattle were still grazing on the allotment in May, past the dates allowed by their permit. Jeanette Finicum could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

    Mount Trumbull was also the name of a nearby town founded by Abraham Bundy — Cliven Bundy’s great-grandfather — a Mormon settler who had left Mexico during the revolution in the early 1900s.

    In 2001, the BLM worked with Bundy descendants to rebuild the town’s iconic white schoolhouse after it had been destroyed by arsonists.

    “Mount Trumbull was also the name of a nearby town founded by Abraham Bundy — Cliven Bundy’s great-grandfather — a Mormon settler who had left Mexico during the revolution in the early 1900s.”

    So if the charges are accurate, Finicum had been plotting a bombing near his own lands at a site symbolically tied to the Bundy family. Yikes. It sounds the explosive devices found at Malheur wildlife refuge weren’t just for the ambience.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 26, 2016, 9:26 pm
  33. Here’s an article from a couple weeks ago describing some interesting new twists to the Bundy Brigade’s legal strategy: First, Ryan Bundy attempted to increase the privacy of his communications, requesting not only that jail guards not relay anything they might hear while Bundy is communicating with his lawyer but that ALL of his phone calls with anyone not be recorded and shared with prosecutors. Bundy’s lawyer noted that the latter request would create a legal precedent since phone calls not with a lawyer are normally subject to recordings. While the denied Bundy’s latter request, he did order that anything overheard by guards while Bundy is on the phone with his attorney’s not be shared, which makes sense since that is legally protected communications.

    The second twist involves Ammon Bundy’s location: Ammon requested that he be housed near his brother Ryan Bundy so they can coordinate their legal defenses. And, sure enough, the federal judge overseeing the case granted them their request, citing the brothers’ “exceptional relationship” in an “exception case”. So if Ryan was worried that his phone calls with Ammon were being recorded he presumably doesn’t have to worry about that anymore:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive

    Federal judge: Bundy brothers should be housed in same jail, deputies shouldn’t share contents of overheard phone calls

    By Maxine Bernstein |
    on July 11, 2016 at 2:42 PM, updated July 11, 2016 at 9:45 PM

    A federal judge Monday ordered the Multnomah County sheriff’s office to return Ammon Bundy to the downtown Portland jail, so he can be housed near his brother Ryan Bundy as they prepare a joint defense in the pending Oregon standoff case.

    Calling the federal conspiracy case against the Bundys and their co-defendants an “exceptional case” and the Bundys’ ties an “exceptional relationship,” U.S. District Robert E. Jones issued the order after a morning hearing.

    While county jail officials prefer not to house co-defendants together, the judge said he had the authority to make an “exception” to the jail’s rules. Ammon Bundy had been moved last week from the downtown jail to Inverness Jail in Northeast Portland.

    The judge also said he would make sure any sheriff’s deputies who are standing guard by the Bundys as they make calls from jail to their lawyers do not share what they may have inadvertently overheard with anybody else. Ammon Bundy had complained that deputies standing by him were listening to his calls.

    “These things are important that you have the privilege to speak unfettered to your counselor,” Jones said. “I’ll see that it’s done.”

    Ryan Bundy, who provided the judge with a copy of the U.S. Constitution, wants the court to go further and place a protective order on his recorded jail calls, which would prevent the sharing of the calls with the FBI or other law enforcement.

    Ryan Bundy believes his monitored jail calls are being shared with the government so prosecutors can learn his trial strategy and are “intrusions into his privacy,” his standby legal counsel Lisa Ludwig told the court.

    He submitted as an exhibit a March FBI report, which revealed that federal law enforcement in Nevada had been monitoring outgoing calls that co-defendant Ryan Payne placed from the Multnomah County Detention Center between late January and late February.

    Ryan Bundy, who has chosen to represent himself in the Oregon case, wants to interview witnesses, potential expert witnesses and legal advisers, as well as communicate with his brother and his brothers’ lawyers without having those conversations monitored, Ludwig said.

    “There isn’t any justification for ‘wholesale disclosure’ of his communications,” with law enforcement, she said.

    “This phone line doesn’t allow me to gather facts for my case,” Ryan Bundy said.

    He held up a large envelope that he said jail staff had opened, even though it was marked “legal mail” on the outside. A book on federal criminal rules of procedure and codes has been denied to him three times in jail, he said.

    Federal prosecutors didn’t take a position on the motion, saying it’s a matter between the defendants and the county jail. The judge said he’d issue a written ruling this week.

    If Jones grants Ryan Bundy’s protective order, and rules that his recorded jail calls are not to be shared with law enforcement and prosecutors, it could set a precedent for other cases, Ludwig said later.

    Multnomah County Assistant Counsel Carlos J. Calandriello countered that the county has an obligation to ensure the safety and security of all those in the jail, not just for the staff “but for the Bundys themselves.” Inmates don’t have an expectation of a Fourth Amendment right against the monitoring of their phone calls or letters, Calandriello argued.

    “The law is well settled that the privacy rights of prison and jail inmates are ‘severely curtailed’ by virtue of their incarceration,” Calandriello wrote in his response to Ryan Bundy’s motion.

    Jail inmates are cautioned that recorded calls could be shared with law enforcement, and anything they say could be used against them.

    Inmates’ criminal defense attorneys must notify the jail or its telephone system provider, Securus, of the phone numbers they wish to have registered as confidential, so that calls to those numbers are not monitored or recorded. If calls from the jail are made to any other number, the automated system will record the calls after warning listeners that the call is being recorded, Calandriello said. Continuing to speak after the recording is considered a “waiver” of the attorney-client privilege, he said.

    The mere fact that mail to an inmate is marked “legal” doesn’t mean it’s necessarily legal mail, the county’s lawyer said. Only mail that is received from an attorney or his or her assistants is not opened by the jail, Calandriello said.

    “Somebody saying it’s legal mail doesn’t make it so,” Jones agreed.

    Ryan Bundy called the county’s assertion in its written response that he’s able to call his brother, who had been housed at Inverness Jail since last week, “a falsehood.” He said he tried to call Ammon Bundy on July 8 but was prevented.

    Ryan Bundy argued that he’s not asking for special privileges but that his constitutional rights to a fair trial be upheld. “I believe I’m being impeded and violated at every turn,” he said. “I have not committed any crime, your honor. I am not guilty. …Yet we’re being treated as though we are guilty.”

    Ludwig sat between the two brothers in court Monday morning. Ammon Bundy’s lawyer Marcus Mumford, of Utah, listened to the hearing on speaker phone.

    Ammon Bundy said he and his brother plan to seek their release from custody pending trial. “I don’t want to waste too much energy talking about jail concerns when we’re seeking pretrial release,” he told the judge.

    “Keep in mind with a Nevada hold,” Jones responded, “there’s not a lot that can be done.”

    Moments earlier, the judge ordered co-defendant Jason Patrick, who does not face prosecution in Nevada, to be released to his mother and sister pending trial.

    Ammon Bundy continued, “I shouldn’t be punished because the government seeks to prosecute simultaneously” in two different states.

    “My question is at what point does a person lawfully lose his or her rights?” Ammon Bundy asked.

    Jones gave a hypothetical: If someone is accused of killing another person or is an alleged terrorist, should that person not be jailed pending trial?

    Ammon Bundy said he’d agree that jail would be appropriate, but added, “In our situation, we’re certainly not that.”

    His brother Ryan Bundy suggested that federal prosecutors Ethan Knight, Geoffrey Barrow and Craig Gabriel “be placed in jail cells next to me” so they face the same conditions he and his brother face as they prepare for a Sept. 7 trial.

    “I would think that would only be fair,” Ryan Bundy said.

    Jones noted that he’s allowed the Bundy brothers to meet together with their lawyers or standby counsel in the courthouse, monitored by U.S. marshals. They’ve held two meetings but will be allowed additional ones, the judge said.

    “Calling the federal conspiracy case against the Bundys and their co-defendants an “exceptional case” and the Bundys’ ties an “exceptional relationship,” U.S. District Robert E. Jones issued the order after a morning hearing.”

    Well, Ryan and Ammon are brothers who helped lead an armed standoff so they’re probably at least very close. Perhaps even exceptionally close. And now they’re back together so they can plan a joint defense. A joint defense that appears to involved Ammon throwing Ryan under the bus:

    Oregon Public Broadcasting

    Attorney Disputes Claims About Ammon Bundy’s Role In Occupation

    by Kimberley Freda OPB | July 17, 2016 1:30 p.m. | Updated: July 19, 2016 6:19 p.m.

    Utah attorney Marcus Mumford is positioning his client, Ammon Bundy, as a political activist who used his words, not weapons, to spread an anti-federalist message through protest, according to new court filings.

    But many of Mumford’s claims run counter to documented events before and during the occupation earlier this year.

    Mumford estimated that more than 1,000 people, including ranchers, politicians, attorneys, federal employees and protesters, traveled to and from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge without government interference during the occupation.

    That’s significant, argued Mumford, because during the 41-day occupation, Ammon and his brother, Ryan Bundy, were never formally asked to leave the federal property. Mumford also claimed the men were not notified of any criminal allegations or arrest warrants until LaVoy Finicum’s Jan. 26 shooting death, when they were taken into federal custody.

    That claim does not mention multiple encounters between the Bundys and Harney County Sheriff David Ward and other local leaders, who repeatedly asked the occupation leaders to leave the refuge and return to their homes before Finicum’s death.

    In a 28-page pretrial release request for the Bundy brothers filed Friday, Mumford claimed Ammon Bundy never personally carried a firearm during the occupation. Interviews with Oregon State Police troopers after Bundy was arrested Jan. 26 support that claim, stating he was unarmed during the traffic stop. However, a sworn affidavit from FBI special agent Katherine Armstrong states that law enforcement removed a .40 caliber pistol from Bundy at the time.

    It also appears Mumford may be trying to point some responsibility away from Ammon Bundy as a lead organizer, allowing brother Ryan Bundy to shoulder responsibility for the armed takeover.

    “Ammon was not among the first group to travel to the Refuge to establish the statutory adverse possession claim, but his brother, Ryan, was,” Mumford wrote in the motion.

    Ammon Bundy began meeting with Steven and Dwight Hammond in “late 2015” after reading about them in online publications, according to Mumford. The father-and-son ranchers were sentenced to return to prison for arson.

    “These early efforts to raise awareness about the Hammonds’ situation were not tied to any group or organization, as Ammon was not a leader or spokesperson for any group at the time,” Mumford said.

    Ammon Bundy may not have directly represented any so-called militia groups, but he didn’t discourage their support, encouraging groups to travel to Burns after the occupation began.

    “We need you to bring your arms and we need you to come to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge,” Bundy said in a Jan. 3 video posted online, according to federal prosecutors.

    Bundy also traveled to Burns in December 2015 with fellow defendant Ryan Payne, a known leader in western militia groups, to set up a “committee of safety” that was designed to present extrajudicial prosecution against government officials.

    The group was comprised of local community members who shared Bundy’s ideals and had a goal of limiting federal authority on county land. As the occupation dragged on, however, they increasingly didn’t share the occupiers’ enthusiasm for taking over a federal building – and ultimately asked the them to leave.

    On Jan. 2, Ammon Bundy organized a small meeting where he planned to outline his idea for the occupation.

    “As to the specifics, Ammon had not developed, shared or decided upon the details of any plan prior to the meeting,” wrote Mumford. “Mr. Bundy and several others present at the meeting had learned that the Malheur refuge was currently unoccupied and that no government employees or officers were present.”

    Despite Mumford’s claim, refuge employees reported that occupiers had visited the refuge in the months leading up to the occupation.

    Mumford’s filing also gives a window into a potential defense strategy for Bundy’s trial.

    He wrote that Ammon Bundy changed the name of the refuge to the “Harney County Resource Center,” under the principles of law that apply to statutory adverse possession. Mumford said Ammon Bundy and the occupiers intended to take over the responsibility for the refuge building’s utilities, and establish what they viewed to be legitimate control to acquire the federal building.

    In a written affidavit filed along with Friday’s documents, Bundy asked for his pretrial release, and explains that because the case is so heavily reliant upon digital media evidence, he is disadvantaged behind bars. He and Ryan Bundy have made similar requests for release before and been denied by federal Judge Anna Brown.

    A trial is scheduled for Sept. 7.

    “It also appears Mumford may be trying to point some responsibility away from Ammon Bundy as a lead organizer, allowing brother Ryan Bundy to shoulder responsibility for the armed takeover..

    “Ammon was not among the first group to travel to the Refuge to establish the statutory adverse possession claim, but his brother, Ryan, was,” Mumford wrote in the motion.”

    Ok, so five days after we get reports that Ammon is being moved back to Ryan’s prison so they can coordinate their legal strategy the new strategy to emerge from Ammon’s lawyer is that Ryan was actually more or a leader of the standoff than Ammon. That’s, uh, a bold strategy. At least for Ammon.

    So what’s next now that Ammon and Ryan appear to be positioning Ryan to be the primary fall guy? Surprise! Ryan Bundy appears to have tried to escape from jail and just declared himself a sovereign citizen of the “Bundy society” and not subject to US courts. He also want’s $800 million from the government for his hardship:

    Oregon Public Broadcasting

    Ryan Bundy Declares Himself An ‘Idiot’ Not Subject To US Courts

    by Ryan Haas OPB | July 28, 2016 5:53 p.m. | Updated: July 29, 2016 4:05 p.m.

    Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupier Ryan Bundy filed a series of court motions late Thursday, declaring himself a sovereign citizen who isn’t subject to federal laws.

    Bundy, who is representing himself in the conspiracy case against the refuge occupiers, declares himself an “idiot of the ‘Legal Society’” and not subject to federal law, according to the documents.

    “I, ryan c, man, am an idiot of the ‘Legal Society’; and; am an idiot (layman, outsider) of the ‘Bar Association’; and; i am incompetent; and; am not required by any law to be competent,” Bundy wrote in a motion filed to U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown.

    The filings are the latest in increasingly defiant and strange behavior from Bundy, including an alleged escape attempt from the Multnomah County Detention Center.

    As justification for the filings separating himself from U.S. laws, Bundy filed a motion declaring himself a sovereign citizen of the “bundy society.” Within that filing, he declared himself a creation of God rather than a “person” as defined by legal dictionaries, and therefore is not subject to laws.

    Bundy also wrote that his wife and children are members of the Bundy society, Brown is guilty of perjury, and that he believes his home state of Nevada and the state of Oregon are not within the United States. Instead, Bundy said both states are “sovereign union states” that are not within the jurisdiction of the U.S., which he said is limited to the District of Columbia.

    Bundy’s declaration of sovereign citizenry is signed by his brother and fellow occupier, Ammon Bundy, as a witness. Both Bundys were leaders of the 41-day occupation of the wildlife refuge near Burns, Oregon.

    Self-declared “sovereign citizens” have a long, if unsuccessful, history of declaring themselves not subject to federal laws.

    Bundy also told the court in the filings that any past signatures by him are now invalid and that U.S. marshals and other law enforcement are illegally holding him in jail. He wrote that he should be paid $1 million to fill the “role” of defendant in the case.

    Bundy muses in the filing that he is “willing to consider” playing the role of judge or bailiff in the case if the court pays him a similar sum.

    “I, ryan c, man, will charge $100,000,000.00 if any man or woman or PERSON places another order for [me] to come before the court again regarding this matter,” Bundy wrote.

    Bundy additionally said the federal government tried to kill him when he was arrested Jan. 26 during a traffic stop, and he should be paid $800 million “to restore i to the wholeness i enjoyed prior to begin taken and carried away.”

    Judge Anna Brown quickly rejected the arguments Friday after reviewing the documents. She said that they did not raise “any legally cognizable issue,” and she ordered him not to refile the motions or bring them up to a jury in the Sept. 7 trial.

    Brown also reminded Bundy that she had ordered him before not to assert the court had no jurisdiction over the case.

    “The Court, therefore, warns Ryan Bundy that any further indication that he will not follow the Court’s Orders will result in Ryan Bundy forfeiting the right to self-representation,” Brown wrote.

    “Bundy also wrote that his wife and children are members of the Bundy society, Brown is guilty of perjury, and that he believes his home state of Nevada and the state of Oregon are not within the United States. Instead, Bundy said both states are “sovereign union states” that are not within the jurisdiction of the U.S., which he said is limited to the District of Columbia.”

    That’s quite a legal defense. Someone should probably inform the people of Nevada, Oregon, and every other state that they aren’t actually part of the United States anymore. On the plus side, the remaining DC residents will probably finally get a congressman this would be only congressman left. That’s kind of neat.

    So we’ll see what kind of success the Bundy brothers have with their new legal strategy. It doesn’t sound like Ryan is going to be allowed to self-represent himself for much longer. But regardless of how much success the Bundy’s have in their own legal defense, it’s worth recognizing that their general goal of eliminating all federal land is just a Trump victory away from being a wild success:

    Think Progress
    Climate Progress

    GOP Platform Proposes To Get Rid Of National Parks And National Forests

    by Jenny Rowland — Guest Contributor
    Jul 15, 2016 9:29 am

    The Republican platform committee met this week to draft the document that defines the party’s official principles and policies. Along with provisions on pornography and LGBT “conversion therapy” is an amendment calling for the indiscriminate and immediate disposal of national public lands.

    The inclusion of this provision in the Republican Party’s platform reflects the growing influence of and ideological alliance between several anti-park members of the GOP and anti-government extremists, led by Cliven Bundy, who dispute the federal government’s authority over national public lands.

    “Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to the states,” reads the adopted language. “We call upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the transfer of those lands identified.”

    The provision calls for an immediate full-scale disposal of “certain” public lands, without defining which lands it would apply to, leaving national parks, wilderness areas, wildlife refuges, and national forests apparently up for grabs and vulnerable to development, privatization, or transfer to state ownership.

    “That’s a very broad brush to basically say we’re going to turn over all federal lands to states; some states don’t have the resources to handle it,” said West Virginia state Senator and committee delegate Vic Sprouse, who was pushing for a similar provision, but with milder language. He said this more extreme language would instead “willy-nilly” turn over federal property without regard to the type of land or willingness of the state to manage it.

    Though public land disposal language was also present in the GOP’s 2012 platform, the position takes on new meaning in the wake of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge takeover earlier this year. The now-indicted leaders of the takeover, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, and other extremists present at the refuge similarly demanded that the U.S. government give up authority over national public lands in the West.

    “I have long believed that public lands are an equalizer in America, where access to public lands ensures that you don’t need to be a millionaire to enjoy the great outdoors or to introduce your children to hunting, fishing and hiking,” said Senator Martin Heinrich during a recent floor speech on ALEC-funded land seizure legislation. “This land grab idea is just as ludicrous as denying climate change, just as detached from reality, and similarly comes at the expense of our public health and protection of our public lands and resources.”

    Disposal of national parks, wilderness, forests, and other public lands is not the only way the GOP platform addresses conservation issues. Delegates also approved an amendment aimed at curbing the Antiquities Act of 1906, a law which has protected national monuments ranging from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon. The amendment requires “the approval of the state where the national monument is designated or a national park is proposed,” which would severely limit the President’s ability to protect at-risk places.

    The delegates also passed language specifying that the Republican Party believes that the sage grouse, prairie chicken, and the gray wolf should be exempt from the protections of the Endangered Species Act. This not only gets into the weeds of local issues, but cuts corners in scientific species and conservation management regulations.

    “Disposal of national parks, wilderness, forests, and other public lands is not the only way the GOP platform addresses conservation issues. Delegates also approved an amendment aimed at curbing the Antiquities Act of 1906, a law which has protected national monuments ranging from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon. The amendment requires “the approval of the state where the national monument is designated or a national park is proposed,” which would severely limit the President’s ability to protect at-risk places.”

    Yep! We’re just a GOP president away from saying “so long!” to federal lands and national monuments. So while the Bundy brothers might need to work on their legal strategy, once they do eventually get out of jail there’s a good chance they actually will be allowed to legally return to the former Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and build all the trenches and whatever that their hearts desire.

    Also keep in mind that, as the article noted, this same basic provision was in the GOP’s 2012 platform, so it’s not like the 2014 standoff in Nevada and 2016 standoff in Oregon were actually a useful political stunts that helped push the GOP into coming around to the Bundy’s point of view on federal lands. So if there’s one positive lesson we can take from this whole mess it’s that there’s really no reason for armed standoffs with the US government in order to get public attention for your anti-government cause. If it’s anti-government enough, the GOP already has you covered! At least as long as it involves a government policy that promotes the common good. It’s not actually a very positive lesson.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 30, 2016, 4:51 pm
  34. When Donald Trump suggested on a Monday a few weeks ago that the “2nd Amendment people” might be able to prevent Hillary Clinton from appointing Supreme Court judges in favor or greater gun control, the Trump campaign responded as it does to most of its controversies: Trump created a new controversy by declaring that President Obama is the founder of ISIS Tuesday. And then doubled down on it on Wednesday. On Friday he claimed he was just being sarcastic. On Saturday it was discovered that his campaign website has a page to sign up to become an “election observer”, which was part of a larger and long-stranding GOP minority voter suppression campaign that relies on fraudulent hysteria over mass voter fraud committed by minorities. That same day, his campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson repeatedly asserted on CNN that the invasion of Afghanistan was on Obama’s watch. Paul Manafort blamed the media for Trump’s controversial image on Sunday. On Monday Katrina Pierson acknowledged her mistake.

    And that was typical a pretty typical week of Trump. It’s an example of why we should all be extra-terrified of Trump’s success: he’s demonstrating a successful template whereby a politicians can effectively mask their insanity by being insane in a different way every day. It’s a pretty useful template if you want to run as a candidate who announces they’re going to to radically change things by radically breaking them without people really noticing.

    But the Trump campaign doesn’t come up with a totally new crazy theme each day. It cycle through a collection of themes, which is some times triggered by the press question Trump about one of the now out-of-date controversies from a week ago. It’s sort of the resonant frequency of that carries far-right signal in the Trumpian noise machine. For instance, a week after that original “2nd Amendment people” theme popped up, a reporter asked the co-chair of Trump’s “Veterans for Trump” organization, Al Baldasaro, who had created a one-day mini-controversy back in July when he charged that Hillary should be “shot in a firing squad for treason” over running a private email server, whether he still thought that was the case in light of Trump’s recent 2nd Amendment remarks. And yes indeed he thought Hillary’s emails warranted a firing squad. And the daily Trumpian roller coaster hit another bump in the Trumpian Alternate Reality Game echo chamber of unreality. During a Trump Week, every story is both a major story and a distraction from the previous days’ major stories/distraction.

    But that wasn’t the only random Trumpian bump that day in the third week of August. There was another bump that didn’t actually get very much press that actually involved the other notorious “Veteran’s for Trump” member: Cliven Bundy’s fellow armed-standoff member who showed up at the Bundy standoff in Oregon after, Jerry DeLemus, who notoriously traveled to the 2016 standoff in Oregon after being selected as a Trump alternate delegate for the GOP convention. So it’s worth noting that a week after Trump’s “2nd Amendment people” remark created a stir of controversy that last a couple days before his later controversies took over, and on the same day that new Hampshire-based Veterans for Trump nation co-chair Al Baldasaro reiterated his opinion that Hillary Clinton should be shot by a firing squad over her private email server, Trump alternate delegate and co-chair of the New Hampshire branch of Veterans for Trump Jerry DeLemus became the first of the 19 Bundy standoff defendants to strike a plea deal:

    LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

    First defendant in Bunkerville standoff case to plead guilty

    By JEFF GERMAN
    Posted August 16, 2016 – 11:39am
    Updated August 16, 2016 – 5:08pm

    Gerald DeLemus, a politically active New Hampshire man, has become the first of 19 defendants to strike a plea deal in the 2014 Bunkerville standoff.

    Federal prosecutors describe DeLemus, who has been in custody for more than five months, as a “gunman and midlevel organizer” in the Bundy family-led scheme to assault law enforcement officers who had rounded up Bundy cattle.

    He is to enter a change of plea Aug. 23 before Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro.

    In a court filing Tuesday, Navarro said she has received a signed guilty plea agreement from DeLemus, who was indicted on nine federal charges, including conspiracy.

    Details of the agreement will not be made public until after he appears in court. But his Las Vegas lawyer, Brian Smith, said he is free to argue for a lesser sentence than the six years in prison prosecutors seek.

    DeLemus, 61, co-chaired Veterans for Donald Trump in New Hampshire before his March arrest, and his wife is a Republican New Hampshire state representative.

    Three other defendants in the Bunkerville standoff have pleaded guilty in the 41-day takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon that ended in February.

    Montana militia leader Ryan Payne, Bundy family bodyguard Blaine Cooper and Arizona militia member Joseph O’Shaughnessy have been ordered transferred from Oregon to Nevada so they can negotiate deals here.

    The three men are among the 19 defendants — including alleged Nevada standoff leader Cliven Bundy and four of his sons — facing federal charges in the Bunkerville confrontation. Prosecutors have described Payne, 32, as a leader in both armed standoffs.

    DeLemus, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, arrived in Nevada too late to participate in the alleged assault near the Bundy ranch on April 12, 2014, according to prosecutors.

    But prosecutors alleged in court papers that he quickly became an “organizer of gunmen on the ground” at the ranch after the confrontation. The ranch is outside Bunkerville, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

    DeLemus remained at the ranch for three weeks after the confrontation and was placed in charge of “Camp Liberty,” where armed militia members were housed, prosecutors alleged.

    The government has several photos of a well-armed DeLemus in tactical gear at the Bundy Ranch.

    Last week, a federal magistrate judge denied DeLemus’ latest bid for freedom, concluding he remained a danger to the community.

    “Last week, a federal magistrate judge denied DeLemus’ latest bid for freedom, concluding he remained a danger to the community.”

    As a danger to the community, Mr. DeLemus is indeed an appropriate choice as a Trump surrogate. And yes, that happened on the say day the national co-chair of Veterans for Trump, Al Baldaroso, reasserted that Hillary’s email server called for a firing squad, the co-chair of Trump’s New Hampshire branch of Veterans for Trump was the first of the Bundy `9 to enter a plea deal. That’s pretty noteworthy. But also a distraction from all the other noteworthy news that can’t ever be digested because every Trumpian day is a new day of newsworthy disastrous distractions.

    It’s just another insane disastrous distraction from the larger story that the entire Trump campaign is an insane disastrous distraction seemingly designed to distract from the fact that it would be a daily disaster to elect Trump.

    Maybe it’s for the best that this particular story hasn’t received too much attention.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 3, 2016, 9:41 pm
  35. The Bundy Brothers’ trials over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge armed occupation are underway in Oregon this week and, surprise, it’s an insane legal circus. So insane that it raises the question: Are the Bundy brothers trying for a insanity/mental incompetence defense? They’re clearly trying to convince the jury to opt for a ‘jury nullification’ response, where the jurors vote to acquit whether or not they feel theo defendants broke the law, but are they also going for an insanity defense? That’s one of the questions raised by the reports of their legal defense. The other question is whether or not they’re consciously attempting an insanity/mental incompetence defense or if that’s just going to emerge spontaneously as a legal strategy as a consequence of their zany antics:

    The New York Times

    Ammon Bundy Case as Inkblot Test: What Will Jurors See in His Words?

    By KIRK JOHNSON
    OCT. 7, 2016

    PORTLAND, Ore. — The beard and cowboy hat that defined Ammon Bundy’s image to Americans on those cold mornings in January are gone. He is cleanshaven now and dressed in ill-fitting jailhouse blue. The federal wildlife refuge that he and other armed militia members occupied for six weeks in Oregon’s high eastern desert has returned to normal.

    But he is still talking. And talking.

    Through three days of testimony this week here in Federal District Court, Mr. Bundy, 41, the owner of a truck maintenance company, defended the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

    “I still believe very strongly that what we did was the right thing, and that it was legal,” he told the court.

    A kind of inkblot study of Mr. Bundy in psychological profile has become a central thread of the criminal case against him, his brother Ryan and five of their followers on felony conspiracy charges in connection with the armed takeover of the refuge. For the 12-member jury, that river of words — in the testimony and in the videos and news interviews during and before the occupation — is the means through which it is coming to know him.

    What the jurors make of him — and whether his steadfast beliefs come across as arrogance or sincerity — could decide his fate when they start deliberating this month.

    At one point during his testimony, Mr. Bundy compared himself to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who also had to take a “hard stand,” Mr. Bundy said, for what he believed.

    And he said his Mormon faith had informed and fueled his determination to defend “the people” against incursion and overreach by the federal government in Western land policies.

    He dismissed the idea — central to the main criminal charges against him — that the takeover had kept federal workers from doing their jobs. Being armed throughout the occupation of the refuge, he added, was a tool to get people’s attention and was never meant to harm anyone.

    “This has nothing to do with refuge employees or their duties,” he said under questioning by his lawyer, Marcus R. Mumford. The Constitution, Mr. Bundy said, at one point grabbing the copy that jutted prominently from his front shirt pocket, is the sole reason he acted.

    “This was bigger than any of us,” he said.

    In his brief cross-examination, Ethan D. Knight, an assistant United States attorney, suggested that Mr. Bundy had benefited from a federal program and might not be the philosophical purist of strictly limited government that he seemed. Was it not true, Mr. Knight asked, that Mr. Bundy’s business had been financed by a $530,000 loan from the Small Business Administration? Mr. Bundy said that he had sought no such loan and that the small bank he had gone to had arranged it.

    Was it not true, Mr. Knight said, that having people armed during the refuge takeover was all about keeping the government from trying to take it back?

    No, Mr. Bundy said, the armed people “protected us from being attacked,” though he conceded that without the weaponry, the occupation would have quickly ended.

    The basic facts of the case are not in dispute. On Jan. 2, a small number of militia group members using the name Citizens for Constitutional Freedom — the number grew as the occupation wore on — seized control of administration buildings at the Malheur refuge, about 30 miles southeast of Burns, in Harney County, a sparsely populated area about a five-hour drive from Portland.

    On Jan. 26, en route to a meeting off the refuge, where they hoped to persuade ranchers to join their cause, Mr. Bundy and seven others were arrested during a traffic stop. The arrests spiraled into bloodshed when a member of the group, LaVoy Finicum, 54, raced his truck toward a police roadblock. After his vehicle went off the road, Mr. Finicum got out and was shot and killed by Oregon State Police officers as he appeared to reach for a weapon.

    The last four holdouts at the refuge surrendered peacefully two weeks later. In all, 26 people have been indicted; a second trial is scheduled for early next year.

    In the current case, which began here in September, Judge Anna J. Brown, in her rulings and instructions to the jury, has further sharpened the trial’s focus on the interior lives of the defendants — their state of mind, as she has put it. The most serious count in the indictment — a conspiracy to impede federal employers from completing their duties, punishable by up to six years in prison — also centers on questions of planning and intent in the decisions to take over the refuge and then hold it.

    But the judge has also strictly told the defendants and their lawyers that they cannot assert those beliefs to the jurors as truth about federal government land policies, the Constitution or anything else. Out of the jury’s presence, she has flatly said that some of those beliefs are wrong — notably that two members of a ranching family who live near the refuge were charged as “terrorists” by the government in an arson case.

    In a comment in open court but out of the jury’s presence, Ryan Bundy, who is representing himself in the case, said he thought Judge Brown’s instruction on the terrorism language was “intended to make us look stupid.”

    “The truth will come out,” he added.

    Ammon Bundy, in his testimony, repeatedly talked about prayer and about how God had led him to take action in defense of liberty.

    “I asked the Lord if he would clear my mind,” he said at one point, describing a long night of study and contemplation before resolving to go to Oregon. And then it was all clear, he said. “I did exactly what the Lord asked me to do,” he said.

    Followers then had to ask themselves a related question, he said, not unlike the one faced by the jury. Everyone who heard a call to come to Oregon, he said, had to “make a decision right now whether this is a righteous cause or not, whether I am a crazy person.”

    “He dismissed the idea — central to the main criminal charges against him — that the takeover had kept federal workers from doing their jobs. Being armed throughout the occupation of the refuge, he added, was a tool to get people’s attention and was never meant to harm anyone.”

    That’s right, the armed occupation didn’t actually stop federal workers from doing their jobs. It was just a harmless ploy to get attention. The guns were just for self-defense! There was no armed threat. Ok. That’s not crazy at all.

    Given all that, along with things like Ammon’s comparison of himself to Martin Luther King, it’s pretty clear that Ammon’s mindset is going to be a big part of the trial since both he the judge is directing jurors to focus on it too:

    In the current case, which began here in September, Judge Anna J. Brown, in her rulings and instructions to the jury, has further sharpened the trial’s focus on the interior lives of the defendants — their state of mind, as she has put it. The most serious count in the indictment — a conspiracy to impede federal employers from completing their duties, punishable by up to six years in prison — also centers on questions of planning and intent in the decisions to take over the refuge and then hold it.

    Followers then had to ask themselves a related question, he said, not unlike the one faced by the jury. Everyone who heard a call to come to Oregon, he said, had to “make a decision right now whether this is a righteous cause or not, whether I am a crazy person.”

    Yes, as Ammon puts it, jurors need to ask themselves a question not unlike the questions Ammons refuge occupants had to ask themselves when Ammon first floated the idea of occupying the refuge: Was Ammon really getting directions from God or was he a crazy? There are other questions that have been They should probably also asked themselves like whether or not he was a scheme political extremist who was just making up conversations with God to add a righteous flair, but it’s pretty clear that the Ammon’s religion-inspired mindset is going to be a big part of the trial. That should be interesting.

    Also keep in mind that Ammon is basically asserting that he wasn’t actually in leading anyone because no one was:

    Associated Press

    In turnaround, Ammon Bundy denies leading refuge occupiers

    By Steven Dubois | Posted Oct 7th, 2016 @ 5:21pm

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Under a brief but rapid-fire cross-examination, Ammon Bundy denied leading the occupation of a national wildlife refuge and defended receiving a U.S. Small Business Administration loan.

    Bundy, 41, who’s on trial for conspiring to impede Interior Department workers from doing their jobs at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, was quickly reminded Thursday by assistant U.S. attorney Ethan Knight that he had earlier testified that he was the leader.

    Bundy said he was not a leader in the way Knight considers him to be. The man who led followers to the refuge for the 41-day standoff with law enforcement said he teaches “core principles” to people and lets them govern themselves.

    Those principles, spoken of in great detail during three days of testimony this week, include Bundy’s belief that the federal government can’t own land within a state’s borders, except for limited purposes.

    Knight closed his 15-minute cross-examination by getting Bundy to acknowledge receiving a $530,000 U.S. Small Business Administration loan, a move to show Bundy isn’t opposed to the federal government when it can help him profit.

    Bundy said he supports the federal government, but not its management of land within states.

    Bundy has said he came to Oregon’s high desert to help locals deal with an overreaching federal government that has abused people’s land rights for decades. The immediate issue was the case of Dwight and Steven Hammond, two ranchers who Bundy felt were unjustly returning to prison on arson convictions.

    Earlier Thursday, Bundy was questioned by his own attorney and lawyers representing the other six people charged in the alleged conspiracy. One was his brother and co-defendant Ryan Bundy, who’s acting as his own lawyer.

    “How you doing, brother?” Ammon asked Ryan at the start of the testimony.

    The pair discussed their relationship, from childhood to the start of the occupation. Ammon testified that the pair spoke by phone in the runup to the occupation, but never discussed the refuge or impeding federal workers.

    Ryan Bundy did not arrive in southeast Oregon until the morning of the occupation, his brother said.

    “I know you were not very prepared, didn’t have much of a jacket,” said Ammon Bundy, showing his brother had planned to attend a rally in support of the Hammonds but did not intend an extended stay.

    Co-defendant Shawna Cox, also acting her own lawyer, briefly questioned Bundy. Lawyers for the other four defendants — Kenneth Medenbach, Jeff Banta, Neil Wampler and David Fry — asked questions designed to show they had only brief interactions with Bundy and were not involved in key decisions.

    Medenbach’s lawyer, Matthew Schindler, asked Bundy how a federal employee was supposed to work when Bundy was using her office and sitting in her chair.

    “I didn’t really think of it,” Bundy said.

    Answering questions from his own lawyer, Bundy repeated statements from earlier in the week that the group planned to take ownership of the refuge by means of adverse possession, which is a way to gain title to land by occupying it for a period of time. The defense displayed videos that showed Bundy lecturing on the topic at the refuge.

    Bundy testified he did not visit the refuge before the occupation and had to use GPS to find it.

    The prosecutor returned to that statement during his cross-examination, asking Bundy if he really needed GPS to find a place in which he intended to stay until 2036. Bundy responded that he expected the government to try to evict him — not arrest him — and the land dispute would be settled in civil court.

    Prosecutors allege the conspiracy began two months before the occupation, when Bundy and another activist arrived in Harney County and gave Sheriff Dave Ward an ultimatum — protect the Hammonds from returning to federal prison or face extreme civil unrest.

    Knight reminded Bundy that he told Ward during a Nov. 19 meeting that he wasn’t bluffing.

    Bundy said he couldn’t remember a conversation that happened 11 months ago.

    “Didn’t we listen to a recording of it two days ago?” Knight asked.

    “Yeah, bits and pieces,” Bundy said.

    Bundy said he was not a leader in the way Knight considers him to be. The man who led followers to the refuge for the 41-day standoff with law enforcement said he teaches “core principles” to people and lets them govern themselves.”

    Ammon Bundy wasn’t the leader of the occupation. He was merely a guy who disseminates “core principles” to people aobut how to government themselves, and it just so happened that the people he disseminated those core principles to all decided to join Ammon in his God-inspired idea to occupy the refuge. But he didn’t lead anyone. That’s the defense. Or at least part of it.

    Also, the other occupants apparently had minimal contact with Ammon and therefore weren’t leaders too:

    Earlier Thursday, Bundy was questioned by his own attorney and lawyers representing the other six people charged in the alleged conspiracy. One was his brother and co-defendant Ryan Bundy, who’s acting as his own lawyer.

    “How you doing, brother?” Ammon asked Ryan at the start of the testimony.

    The pair discussed their relationship, from childhood to the start of the occupation. Ammon testified that the pair spoke by phone in the runup to the occupation, but never discussed the refuge or impeding federal workers.

    Ryan Bundy did not arrive in southeast Oregon until the morning of the occupation, his brother said.

    “I know you were not very prepared, didn’t have much of a jacket,” said Ammon Bundy, showing his brother had planned to attend a rally in support of the Hammonds but did not intend an extended stay.

    Co-defendant Shawna Cox, also acting her own lawyer, briefly questioned Bundy. Lawyers for the other four defendants — Kenneth Medenbach, Jeff Banta, Neil Wampler and David Fry — asked questions designed to show they had only brief interactions with Bundy and were not involved in key decisions.

    It was a spontaneously collective act of leaderless protest. With guns. Everyone other than Ammon want to also make it clear that they weren’t involved with Ammon’s decisions, and Ammon wants to make it clear that God told him to tell others about the “core principles” that spontaneously led them all to do what they did together. If there’s a leader, it’s God. That’s the collective defense.

    Given all that, don’t forget that, back in july, it was looking like Ryan and Ammon were trying to set Ryan_ up to be the ultimate leader. That’s legal strategy definitely changed. Who knows, maybe God suggested the change. We don’t get to know, although the answer to that question is sort of integral to their defense strategy. It’s quite a strategy.

    So while the rest of the refuge armed occupiers appear to be basing their legal strategy on demonstrating their distance from Ammon and his decision-making role, Ryan and Ammon are trying to create a joint legal strategy that frames the entire armed showdown as not a conspiracy they planned in advanced but rather an ‘act of God’. Or perhaps more accurately a ‘request of God’ that God suddenly planted in Ammon’s mind and that he shared with the rest of the occupiers that they all spontaneously decided to act on. It there was a conspiracy, it was God’s conspiracy.

    Also, regarding the legal charges over damage to the property, all that damage to the property that they did using the construction vehicles at the refuge, like digging ditches and dirt roads, was actually about things like enhancing the wheelchair access to the building. Yep, that’s part of the possibly God-inspired legal strategy too:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive

    ‘Mr. Bundy, how ya doing?’ begins rare exchange between Bundy brothers at trial

    By Maxine Bernstein |
    on October 09, 2016 at 5:00 AM, updated October 09, 2016 at 9:30 AM

    Ryan Bundy directed his first question to the man on the witness stand: “Mr. Bundy, how ya doing?”

    “Good,” younger brother Ammon Bundy responded. “How you doing brother?”

    The greeting began what legal experts say was an extremely rare direct examination between two defendants who are brothers: one serving as his own lawyer and the other testifying in his own defense.

    “I can’t remember another case like this,” said Margaret L. “Margie” Paris, a University of Oregon law professor and the UO Law School’s former dean.

    The Bundy brothers are among seven defendants charged with conspiring to prevent federal employees from carrying out their work through intimidation, threats or force during a 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

    Ryan Bundy, 43, dressed in a black suit jacket and white dress shirt, asked his brother Thursday about their shared upbringing, their faith and values. But he also sought to show that he didn’t know about Ammon Bundy’s idea to take over the bird sanctuary until just hours before, when he found out at a morning meeting Jan. 2.

    Ryan Bundy established that the two spoke in December about the need to support Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and son Steven Hammond, who were to return to federal prison Jan. 4 to serve out mandatory minimum sentences of five years for setting fire to federal land.

    But did the brothers speak then about the refuge?

    “Absolutely not,” Ammon Bundy testified.

    “When did I first arrive in Burns?” Ryan Bundy inquired.

    Ammon Bundy, 41, recalled that his brother, who raises cattle and melon and lives with his wife and children in Cedar City, Utah, arrived in town mid-morning on Jan. 2 and that he had driven to Oregon with Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, an Arizona rancher.

    “I know you weren’t very prepared for the cold weather,” Ammon Bundy added.

    Ammon Bundy had testified earlier during hours of questioning by his defense lawyer that he was inspired by God on Jan. 1 to take a “hard stand” after not receiving any response from Harney County or state officials to repeated requests to protect the Hammonds from returning to prison.

    He said he didn’t share his plan to stake claim to the refuge southeast of Burns until the morning of Jan. 2 in a back room of Ye Old Castle restaurant with a group of about 30 supporters.

    “Was I there at that meeting?” Ryan Bundy asked.

    “Yes , you were,” Ammon Bundy said.

    There, Ammon Bundy said, he presented his idea and half of the group supported him. A march in support of the Hammonds then proceeded through Burns that afternoon. Afterward, Ryan Bundy with a handful of others made an initial run to the refuge for the armed takeover, according to witnesses who testified for the government.

    Ryan Bundy informed the court he had no other questions, allowing other defense lawyers to proceed. Yet a short time later, Ryan Bundy had a chance to ask more questions during a redirect examination.

    After a prosecutor asked his brother about changes made to the refuge during the occupation, including the building of a new road to the bunkhouse, Ryan Bundy challenged that characterization.

    “Brother Ammon,” started Ryan Bundy this time, as he asked for jurors to examine a Google photo of the refuge from May 8, 2015, eight months before the refuge occupation.

    The photo appeared to show two faint paths leading to the bunkhouse. Ryan Bundy asked his brother to circle both paths on his computer screen, attempting to challenge the prosecution’s contention that occupiers used refuge equipment to build a new road on the property.

    “Further digging was done to help improve the wheelchair access?” Ryan Bundy asked.

    “Yes,” Ammon Bundy said.

    With that, Ryan Bundy was done.

    Ammon Bundy answered another lawyer’s questions and stepped down from the witness stand, returning to his defense lawyer’s table, beside his brother’s defense table.

    “”Further digging was done to help improve the wheelchair access?” Ryan Bundy asked.

    “Yes,” Ammon Bundy said.”

    Expanding wheelchair access does seem like a Godly thing to do. Still, somehow that’s not the most compelling argument given the circumstances. Like the rest of the legal strategy which appears to be either an act of epic trolling or an insanity defense designed to win over the jury. Or perhaps both. It’s a Joker-esque legal strategy that creates a fascinating parallel to the Bane-like behavior of Donald Trump when he promised to send Hillary Clinton to jail during the second presidential debate.

    So are armed “adverse possession” occupations going to a new religious liberty cause célèbre? If this latest zany scheme works it’s how to see how that won’t be the case.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 9, 2016, 8:43 pm
  36. Now that Donald Trump has formally incorporated “international banker” conspiracies against him and the America people into the daily Alt-Right narrative that fuels his campaign and repeatedly asserted that the election is all rigged by these elites and maybe the outcome shouldn’t be respected, here’s a reminder he’s not just mainstreaming the Alt-Right/neo-Nazi worldview. Given the enormous amount of overlap between the Alt-Right’s far-right foundations and those of the sovereign citizen movements, Trump is also mainstreaming Cliven Bundy:

    The Daily Beast

    Trump’s Speech: Dog Whistles to the Sovereign-Citizen Set
    Trump’s Thursday speech marked a turning point. There is now no scenario in which this country repudiates him and merely goes about its business.

    Linda Tirado
    10.13.16 10:40 PM ET

    It’s easy to forget how silly most people thought Donald Trump was, all the way back in January. It was before any primaries or caucuses. Trump led in most polls, but people still couldn’t really quite believe that people were actually going to vote for him.

    I spent much of that month at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, reporting for The Daily Beast on the militants who had taken it over. In the intervening months, Trump has morphed from a vague joke or a thumb in the eye of the establishment, depending on your point of view, to a fascist megalomaniacal wreck of a candidate who is unlikely to be elected because he is fundamentally incapable of seeing past his own nose.

    I watched his speech Thursday, and if I closed my eyes, I could smell the campfire smoke at the Malheur refuge and feel the Oregon winter wind on my face. Here were the conspiracies, the references to the shadowy international cabals, the whispers about the illegitimacy of the Department of Justice and the Trilateralist coopting of the FBI.

    It was like listening to an immodest Ammon Bundy. We have to protect ourselves from not just the government (because it is only a pawn) but from the people who really run it. We should be watchful, resilient, ready—and though he is reluctant, he will sacrifice himself, for he is the only one who can save us from the terror.

    Donald Trump shouted out every fevered dystopian fantasy I heard on the refuge, with the exceptions of Agenda 21 and abortion as population control. “They control the Department of Justice,” he said. “They have essentially corrupted the director of the FBI.” “This is a conspiracy against you, the American people, and we cannot let this happen or continue. This is our moment of reckoning.” This is precisely the logic that led a few hundred people to take up arms against the government in Oregon, though at least Ammon Bundy started with a reasonably legitimate premise. Donald Trump doesn’t even have two Americans jailed twice for the same crime to legitimize his quest.

    What he has is a small but growing fringe that talks about We the People instead of Americans. We have already seen the violence at his rallies, we have seen the vicious street attacks, we have worried about the rise of the right. What I have not until Thursday heard was something that spiked my nativist upbringing, words delivered in a very particular order that made me want to go buy another rifle and check my food storage.

    I was raised among white people, sent to an elementary school in which there were no black kids, and then moved to the mountains of Utah for high school, where the neo-Nazis recruited at illicit drinking parties because kids who would have a beer were already disaffected in an overwhelmingly Mormon culture. There is a part of me that remembers the coding, the tones, remembers the fear that the government might come and massacre us again as they had in times not that long ago. I reject it violently, but you don’t ever forget what you were raised to believe even if you learn better.

    It would take a linguist to comb through that speech and parse out which words came from where. I am only a writer steeped in the language of right-wing revolution. I was outraged by Trump before. But now I am worried. There is no scenario in which this country repudiates him and then goes about its business; we allowed his rise and we have emboldened the people that we ignored for so long. We have three weeks to go yet, more scandals and reactions and fear and terror, and at the end of it, we will have an unknowable number of people who will absolutely and without question think that Hillary Clinton’s election is an unmistakable sign that it is time for the governed to withdraw their consent.

    Not a majority; not even many, compared to the millions of people who live in America. But enough. Thursday, Donald Trump traveled a step further down the path of militant right-wing revolution. It wasn’t a call to arms, exactly. But it was far past the point of comfort.

    “I watched his speech Thursday, and if I closed my eyes, I could smell the campfire smoke at the Malheur refuge and feel the Oregon winter wind on my face. Here were the conspiracies, the references to the shadowy international cabals, the whispers about the illegitimacy of the Department of Justice and the Trilateralist coopting of the FBI.”

    If only the Bundy Brigade had avoided the Malheur armed occupation it’s very possible they could be prepping for some sort of Trumpian revolution. Granted, they still might have been arrested for the first armed showdown at the Bundy ranch, but who knows, maybe that wouldn’t have happened yet. And, sure, Trump’s “law and order” campaign theme is kind of the opposite of sovereign citizen views in many respects, but only because Trump would include “law and order” that extends beyond the County Sheriff. Sovereign citizens want “law and order” too. Remember the ‘citizen committees’ set up to try and hang public officials. That’s sovereign citizen “law and order”. And, increasingly, Trumpian “law and order”.

    Mediaite

    Trump Supporter Tells Reporters ‘Hillary Needs To Be Taken Out’

    by Alex Griswold | 11:57 am, October 17th, 2016

    In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, a Donald Trump supporter at an Ohio rally alluded to the need to assassinate Hillary Clinton if she won the presidency, calling it his duty as a “patriot.”

    “I feel like Hillary needs to be taken out,” said a rally-goer named Dan Bowman. “If she gets in the government, I’ll do everything in my power to take her out of power. If I have to be a patriot, I will.”

    “What does that mean?” WSJ asked.

    “Take it any way you want to take it,” Bowman responded enigmatically.

    “That sounds like a threat,” they pointed out.

    “I’m a patriot,” he responded.

    “Is that a physical threat?” WSJ pressed.

    “I don’t know. Is it?” he deflected.

    The Boston Globe‘s Matt Viser also encountered Bowman, and reported on even more troubling comments.“If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it…” he said. “We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed.”

    Viser said on CNN that Bowman’s rhetoric was widespread at the rally he attended and that Trump himself deserved some of the blame, noting his comments that only “Second Amendment people” could stop Clinton. “That language is sort of leading at least some of his supporters to sort of engage in some of the violent rhetoric,” he argued.

    Viser said on CNN that Bowman’s rhetoric was widespread at the rally he attended and that Trump himself deserved some of the blame, noting his comments that only “Second Amendment people” could stop Clinton. “That language is sort of leading at least some of his supporters to sort of engage in some of the violent rhetoric,” he argued.”

    All in all, if at the end of this campaign season Cliven Bundy and the Bundy Brigade end up receiving a surge in right-wing public sympathy, it’s not going to be too hard to see what changed.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 17, 2016, 4:54 pm
  37. It looks like a jury in Portland may have just delivered another ‘October Surprise’ of sorts. It’s the kind of surprise that probably won’t impact the actual election could have a massive impact if Donald Trump loses and loses gracelessly: All seven defendants currently on trial for the Malheur armed showdown, including Ryan and Ammon Bundy, were just acquitted using the argument that it was just a peaceful protest like an MLK sit-in. Surprise:

    The Washington Post

    Jury acquits leaders of armed takeover of the Oregon wildlife refuge of federal conspiracy charges

    By Leah Sottile
    October 27 at 8:09 PM

    PORTLAND, Ore. — The armed occupation of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge spanned 41 freezing cold days in January and February. The trial for the standoff’s leader, Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan, and five others took six weeks. And the verdict came in just five days: all defendants were found not guilty of federal conspiracy charges.

    It was the grand finale of a federal trial that played out like a three-ring circus. The trial often saw the ninth-floor courtroom packed with more than 100 people — jurors, attorneys, supporters, journalists — and another room four floors up packed with even more.

    Just after 4 p.m. Thursday, Judge Anna Brown read all charges: all defendants were found not guilty of charges of conspiracy to impede federal officers and not guilty of possession of firearms in a federal facility. One of the occupiers, Kenneth Medenbach, was found not guilty of theft of a government-owned truck. The jury was hung on the charge of theft of government cameras against Ryan Bundy.

    Ammon and Ryan Bundy will remain in custody over charges they face in Nevada — where they will stand trial for the 2014 standoff with Bureau of Land Management officers on the family’s ranch. The men will be transferred to Nevada, where their father, Cliven, is currently incarcerated, officials said.

    Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) said she is disappointed but respects the jury’s decision. “The occupation of the Malheur Refuge by outsiders did not reflect the Oregon way of respectfully working together to resolve differences,” Brown said in a statement Thursday.

    On the steps of the courthouse, the defendants were swarmed with cameras. Supporters of the occupiers waved flags and read aloud from the Constitution. Defendant Shawna Cox said this was a victory for the Constitution.

    “We have to be vigilant people,” she said to a snarl of television cameras and microphones, “Wake up, America, and help us restore the Constitution. Don’t sleep with your head in the sand.”

    Attorney Matthew Schindler, who served as a hybrid counsel with defendant Medenbach, said that the use of firearms truly allowed the occupiers to garner the attention of the world to their cause. “For these defendants and these people, having a firearm has nothing to do with a threat or anything else,” he said. “It’s as much a statement of their rural culture as a cowboy hat or a pair of jeans. I think the jury believed at the end of the day that that’s why the guns were there.”

    Like the occupation itself — a coup over federal land ownership that wore on for over a month before FBI agents closed in on the last occupiers — the trial, too, stretched over a month. When Ammon Bundy took the witness stand, he seized it like a pulpit, delivering 10 hours of testimony about his family, his Mormon views and his interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

    After four days of deliberation, the circus appeared to infiltrate the jury room. A juror sent a note to the judge, suspicious of another juror’s bias due to prior employment with the Bureau of Land Management — a point that came up in jury selection. After a day of argument, the judge dismissed the juror, called in an alternate, and deliberations started anew.

    But outside the courtroom, past Homeland Security agents, flak-jacketed cops, a police dog, U.S. Marshals and metal detectors, the circus sideshow unfolded on the green park across the street. There in the middle of downtown Portland, “Patriot” supporters threw a full-blown tailgate party. They set up a charcoal grill and handed out hot dogs and burgers in the rain. A woman handed out miniature flags and pocket-size copies of the Constitution. From the back of a pickup truck, one woman shouted into megaphones that Judge Anna Brown “should be jailed. You’ve committed religious bigotry!” They trotted a black horse with a red, white and blue saddle across 5 o’clock traffic, up and down the sidewalks. They wore T-shirts that read “Unindicted Co-Conspirator” and “Free the Bundys.”

    Early in the trial and often throughout, people stopped to shout back at the protesters. Only here in Portland — the city affectionately dubbed “Little Beirut” — could there be a protest of a protest over political protest.

    The narrative that the defense pushed throughout the trial, that the Malheur occupation was simply a protest, convinced the jury. On Thursday just after 4 p.m., Ammon Bundy sat before the court in a suit as the charges were read. Throughout the course of the trial, Bundy wore powder-blue jail pajamas. His attorney announced that Bundy wanted to appear in jail clothes fit for the “political prisoner.” Supporters followed suit: donning scrub-style shirts as they watched from the gallery. Defense attorneys argued often: this armed occupation was a “Martin Luther King style sit-in.”

    The occupation of the wildlife refuge followed a peaceful protest on Jan. 2 in a Safeway parking lot in Burns, Ore., against the imprisonment of Dwight and Steven Hammond, father and son ranchers who plead guilty to charges of arson on federal land.

    Later that day, Bundy and a group of gun-toting, camouflage-clad men executed a military-style takeover of a Southeastern Oregon bird refuge — and then occupied its buildings for several days. At once, the world’s eye turned toward the remote, snowy expanse of the west to a place named Malheur: a French word meaning “misfortune” or “tragedy” that was given to a nearby river by French trappers whose ranks were decimated there by Indians.

    It seemed, all at once, the French word had modern relevance. Bundy — the son of scofflaw Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who led his own standoff with federal agents in 2014 on his Bunkerville, Nev., ranch — served as a cowboy-hatted spokesman and leader to a group of “Patriots” who saw their takeover as an act of peaceful, political protest. They were advocating for the rights of rural ranchers. They were taking a “hard stand” after years of “oppression” by government agencies. But locals were spooked: Schools in Burns, Ore. — 30 miles away — stayed closed for a week. Federal offices kept their doors shuttered. The county sheriff prepared for his office to be invaded. Signs popped up around town: “Bundys Go Home!”

    In the final hours of the standoff, when just four people remained and armored FBI vehicles inched toward them, their screams and tears transmitted to the ears of some 60,000 live listeners on YouTube. To Patriots, this felt like a modern Waco or Ruby Ridge. To critics, this was show-stopping final act inspired by the ringmaster Bundy.

    In the courtroom, a new event began. While many of Bundy’s 26 co-defendants pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to impede federal officers from performing their duties — a charge that has been used to prosecute extremist left-wingers and Earth First protesters — six others remained steadfast over their innocence. (In February, a second trial for seven more defendants will begin; that same month, Cliven, Ammon, Ryan and two other Bundy sons will face trial in Nevada for the 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff.)

    In closing arguments, defense attorneys argued that the government was simply doing exactly what the defendants were protesting: overreaching. Defense attorney Matthew Schindler asked the jury to take in the non-Bundy defendants: Cox, the 68-year-old “old hippie” Neil Wampler, 28-year-old “computer nerd” David Fry, the graying 62-year-old Medenbach. “Look at these people,” Schindler said. “Is that an army?”

    The narrative that the defense pushed throughout the trial, that the Malheur occupation was simply a protest, convinced the jury. On Thursday just after 4 p.m., Ammon Bundy sat before the court in a suit as the charges were read. Throughout the course of the trial, Bundy wore powder-blue jail pajamas. His attorney announced that Bundy wanted to appear in jail clothes fit for the “political prisoner.” Supporters followed suit: donning scrub-style shirts as they watched from the gallery. Defense attorneys argued often: this armed occupation was a “Martin Luther King style sit-in.”

    So that happened. And now every militia in the country is probably looking around for other locales where they might find a sympathetic jury. And also looking for a handy cause to rallying around that might garner popular support. Gee, what could that cause be?

    Now, assuming Trump loses and refuses to concede and declares everything rigged, just how many armed ‘MLK-style sit-ins’ showdowns should we expect. Will there be one big one, where a bunch of militias try to occupy the White House or something? Or smaller armed ‘MLK-style sit-ins’ showdowns scattered across the nation? A bit a both? Don’t forget that the GOP’s official 2016 platform regarding federal lands is basically the Bundy platform, in keeping with the Koch Brothers’ agenda to privatize federal lands. And don’t forget that the GOP was largely supportive of Cliven Bundy’s 2014 occupation until he gave his interview about “the Negro” (And then they nominated the Alt-Right’s dream candidate). So it’s not like there’s any compelling reason to assume the GOP won’t be embracing the Bundy Brigade and their armed ‘MLK-style sit-in’ showdowns again since they never really stopped embracing them.

    So, given that the GOP’s presidential nominee is calling the election rigged and refuses to accept a defeat if he loses, shouldn’t every GOPer running for office be asked by journalist if they support the Bundy verdict? It seems like an extremely topical question.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 27, 2016, 8:53 pm
  38. As more information comes out regarding what exactly the jury in the Malheur armed occupation trial was thinking when they acquitted Ryand and Ammon Bundy and five of their co-conspirators of the charges of conspiring to impede federal employees and bring guns onto federal property, it’s becoming more and more clear that it was effectively an act of jury nullification. But it’s also becoming clear based on statements from the juror who appears to be the mastermind behind the nullification move that they’re not planning on ever describing it as an act of jury nullification. Instead, we’re going to be given lot of implausibly bad arguments to explain the acquittal. Which is a reminder that jury nullification ison some level an act of trolling. And while sometimes trolling is just for the LOLs, sometimes it’s used to normalize sovereign citizen social contracts. So it’s also a reminder when you’re trolling, you really want to troll responsibly. Otherwise you might end up promoting armed occupations as a conflict resolution technique and then trolling everyone about why you’re promoting it which isn’t very responsible trolling:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive

    Oregon standoff prosecutors failed to prove ‘intent’ to impede federal workers

    By Maxine Bernstein
    on October 28, 2016 at 8:17 AM, updated October 28, 2016 at 8:16 PM

    Juror 4 vigorously defends the across-the-board acquittals of Ammon Bundy and his six co-defendants, calling the rulings a “statement” about the prosecution’s failure to prove the fundamental elements of a conspiracy charge.

    The full-time Marylhurst University business administration student was the juror who had sent a note to the judge on the fourth day of the initial jury’s deliberations in the case, questioning the impartiality of a fellow juror, No. 11, who the judge bounced from the jury a day later.

    “It should be known that all 12 jurors felt that this verdict was a statement regarding the various failures of the prosecution to prove ‘conspiracy’ in the count itself – and not any form of affirmation of the defense’s various beliefs, actions or aspirations,” Juror 4 wrote Friday in a lengthy email to The Oregonian/OregonLive.

    He expressed relief that he can now speak out freely, but he wasn’t ready as of Friday morning to drop his anonymity. He said his studies have suffered since the trial started, and he’s not ready for the attention revealing his identity would bring but felt it was important to defend the verdict. The judge withheld jurors’ names during the jury selection process and trial, instead referring to each by number.

    The jury closely followed U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown’s instructions on how to apply the law to the evidence and testimony heard during the five-week trial, he said.

    The jury returned unanimous verdicts of “not guilty” to conspiracy charges against all seven defendants. Each was accused of conspiring to prevent employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management from carrying out their official work through intimidation, threat or force during the 41-day occupation.

    Juror 4 noted the panel couldn’t simply rely on the defendants’ “defining actions” to convict.

    “All 12 agreed that impeding existed, even if as an effect of the occupation,” he wrote.

    “But we were not asked to judge on bullets and hurt feelings, rather to decide if any agreement was made with an illegal object in mind,” the Marylhurst student wrote. “It seemed this basic, high standard of proof was lost upon the prosecution throughout.”

    Prosecutors had argued that the case, at its core, was about the illegal taking of another’s property. The heavily armed guards that manned the front gate and watchtower during the 41-day takeover, in and of itself, was “intimidating,” and prevented officers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management from carrying out their work, they said.

    They argued that the alleged conspiracy began Nov. 5, when Ammon Bundy and ally Ryan Payne met with Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward and promised there would be extreme civil unrest in the community if he didn’t step in and block Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond from being arrested. The Hammonds were slated to return to federal prison on Jan. 4 and serve out a mandatory minimum five-year sentence for arson on federal land.

    Defense lawyers urged jurors in closing arguments not to mix-up the “effect” of the occupation – which undoubtedly kept federal employees from doing their jobs – from the “intent” of the occupiers.

    Five of the seven defendants, including Ammon Bundy, testified. Many said that they were there to protest in support of the Hammonds and federal government overreach because they received absolutely no response from state or local government officials to their previous efforts to spur change.

    The defense lawyers’ arguments, coupled with the jury instructions on how to apply the law to the evidence, resonated with jurors, Juror 4 noted.

    “Inference, while possibly compelling, proved to be insulting or inadequate to 12 diversely situated people as a means to convict,” the juror wrote. “The air of triumphalism that the prosecution brought was not lost on any of us, nor was it warranted given their burden of proof.”

    Juror 4 plainly stated that fellow Juror 11, during the initial round of deliberations, “had zero business being on this jury in the first place.”

    Juror 11 had worked for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as a ranch tech and firefighter “more than 20 years ago,” he had said during jury selection. Asked by the judge during voir dire if that experience would impede his ability to be a fair and impartial judge of the facts, he said, “Not really.”

    Juror 4 explained why he didn’t alert the court immediately after he had heard Juror 11, on day one of deliberations reportedly say, “I am very biased.”

    It wasn’t until the fourth day into deliberations that Juror 4 sent a note to the court, asking if a juror who had worked previously for the federal land management agency and outright told the panel he was “very biased” could be an impartial judge. The court, flummoxed by the development, a day later dismissed Juror 11 for “good cause,” after the prosecution and defense teams agreed to the dismissal. At the time, parties to the case weren’t sure which way Juror 11’s alleged bias fell.

    Juror 4 said he “resisted the impulse” to send the question sooner in an effort to give his fellow juror a chance to explain himself.

    In his email to The Oregonian/OregonLive, Juror 4, for the first time, also contended that Juror 11 “violated” the judge’s explicit orders “by hearkening to ‘evidence’ that was never admitted in this case, refused to consider the defendant’s state of mind and used imaginative theories to explain key actions.'”

    Juror 4 said, though, he wishes that he “had sent the letter on day one, since it would have alleviated much stress for all of us.”

    The Marylhurst business student said he is “baffled” by what he described as observers’ “flippant sentiments” in the wake of the jury’s acquittals.

    “Don’t they know that ‘not guilty’ does not mean innocent?” he wrote. “It was not lost on us that our verdict(s) might inspire future actions that are regrettable, but that sort of thinking was not permitted when considering the charges before us.”

    The jury, he said, met with Judge Brown after the verdicts were announced and after the U.S. Marshals’ physical confrontation and arrest of Bundy lawyer Marcus Mumford.

    He said many of the jurors questioned the judge about why the federal government chose the “conspiracy charge.” He said he learned that a potential alternate charge, such as criminal trespass, wouldn’t have brought as significant a penalty.

    The charge of conspiring to impede federal employees from carrying out their official work through intimidation, threat or force brings a maximum sentence of six years in prison.

    “The jury returned unanimous verdicts of “not guilty” to conspiracy charges against all seven defendants. Each was accused of conspiring to prevent employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management from carrying out their official work through intimidation, threat or force during the 41-day occupation.”

    Yes, the Bundy Brigade was apparently not actually intent on preventing federal employees from carrying out their work through intimidation, threat or force during the 41-day occupation. The intimidation and threats of force were merely “effects” of the occupation. Not intent. And for some reason that’s a really important distinction. Also, the prosecutors were too triumphalist. For some reason that was important too And why didn’t prosecutors bring charges with no meaningful penalty as an alternative? That was also apparently a problem:


    Defense lawyers urged jurors in closing arguments not to mix-up the “effect” of the occupation – which undoubtedly kept federal employees from doing their jobs – from the “intent” of the occupiers.

    Five of the seven defendants, including Ammon Bundy, testified. Many said that they were there to protest in support of the Hammonds and federal government overreach because they received absolutely no response from state or local government officials to their previous efforts to spur change.

    The defense lawyers’ arguments, coupled with the jury instructions on how to apply the law to the evidence, resonated with jurors, Juror 4 noted.

    “Inference, while possibly compelling, proved to be insulting or inadequate to 12 diversely situated people as a means to convict,” the juror wrote. “The air of triumphalism that the prosecution brought was not lost on any of us, nor was it warranted given their burden of proof.”

    Don’t they know that ‘not guilty’ does not mean innocent?” he wrote. “It was not lost on us that our verdict(s) might inspire future actions that are regrettable, but that sort of thinking was not permitted when considering the charges before us.

    >He said many of the jurors questioned the judge about why the federal government chose the “conspiracy charge.” He said he learned that a potential alternate charge, such as criminal trespass, wouldn’t have brought as significant a penalty.

    Happy Halloween. The trolls are out early.

    And as the following article notes, very unfortunate lessons that the trolls tried to teach this Halloween Season is that the decision to avoid storming the armed occupation and letting the entire thing play out for 41 days had the effect of weakening the prosecution’s case. Because even though Ammon Bundy explicitly told the jury that they brought guns to the occupation to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs there, the fact that they didn’t use those guns in a big gun battle apparently made it all ok:

    The Christian Science Mnitor

    After the Bundy acquittal, some surprising lessons of the Malheur occupation

    A jury found all seven defendants were ‘not guilty’ on charges of conspiring to interfere with the duties of federal agents. What does the acquittal say about the battle for control of Western lands?

    By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer October 29, 2016

    Atlanta — Ammon Bundy spent 10 hours over three days explaining to an Oregon jury how and why he, his brother Ryan, and a band of Western compatriots bore arms to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for over a month last winter.

    “I want to be clear,” he said. “I proposed to them we go into the refuge and basically take possession of it and take these lands back to the people.”

    His determined testimony, centered on a uniquely American struggle over land use in the remote Mountain West, may well have swayed the 12 white jurors, who acquitted the six men and one woman. Another factor, a juror subsequently wrote, was the prosecutor’s allegation that an armed protest necessarily amounted to a deeper anti-government conspiracy.

    “I think there are a lot of lessons that can be learned from both sides to avoid this kind of conflict,” State Sen. Jennifer Fielder (R) of Trout Creek, Mont., told the Ravalli Republic. “There are problems with federal land management that are impacting people’s lives in a profound way…. If the government doesn’t resolve them, people will.”

    The trial took many back to the 41-day occupation of the Malheur that ended Jan. 26 after authorities captured the key players, including Ammon and Ryan Bundy, as they traveled to a meeting off the refuge. One man, LaVoy Finicum, was shot as he reached for a gun.

    The occupation gripped the nation, as the FBI stayed away from the compound while occupiers documented their protest on social media and to reporters who freely walked about the grounds. The FBI was trying to avoid another Ruby Ridge, but while the wait-em-out gambit ultimately paid off, it also may have undermined the government’s central case – that the presence of guns, and calls for armed back-up, sufficed as a conspiracy.

    The Bundy plan was premised on the belief, based on various interpretations of Constitutional law, that state and county officials should control Western grazing lands, not Washington. Bundy told jurors that occupiers armed themselves so they wouldn’t be immediately arrested, and also so they could fire back if the government attacked them.

    That a jury took what appeared to be a free admission of guilt as sign of the occupiers’ innocence has riled many. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said she was disappointed in the verdict. She urged federal field employees to stay alert, as patriot groups, such as the Oath Keepers, have been on the rise, going from a few hundred in 2008 to more than 1,000 today.

    But there may be more profound lessons than increased caution, given what played out around the Malheur, and in the Portland courtroom.

    Federal officials have a role to play when conflicts spiral out of hand, as they have occasionally over land rights, fees, and the imposition of new regulations. But the jury also suggested that the case should serve as a stern rebuke to federal prosecutors about their overreach in assuming that guns are proof positive of conspiracy.

    “All 12 jurors felt that this verdict was a statement regarding the various failures of the prosecution to prove ‘conspiracy’ in the count itself – and not any form of affirmation of the defense’s various beliefs, actions, or aspirations,” one juror said in a lengthy email to the Oregonian.

    Matthew Schindler, the attorney for one of the charged occupiers, says overconfident prosecutors rushed a flawed case through. “When all you do is shoot fish in a barrel you come to think you’re a great fisherman, and you’re not,” he told BuzzFeed.

    One jury victory for anti-government protesters does not mean future cases will necessarily go their way,” warned the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “This absurd verdict in Oregon may stand as an outlier.”

    “”I want to be clear,” he said. “I proposed to them we go into the refuge and basically take possession of it and take these lands back to the people.””

    It case it wasn’t obvious, Ammon Bundy was quite clear that he proposed take possession of the refuge. But that wasn’t a conspiracy. Also, the guns weren’t proof of a conspiracy and the fact that Ammon told the jurors that the guns were there to ensure that they wouldn’t immediately be arrest and could return fire if the government attacked them was also no evidence of a conspiracy. Because what was really important was the defendants’ state of mind and beliefs. Or something like that:


    The occupation gripped the nation, as the FBI stayed away from the compound while occupiers documented their protest on social media and to reporters who freely walked about the grounds. The FBI was trying to avoid another Ruby Ridge, but while the wait-em-out gambit ultimately paid off, it also may have undermined the government’s central case – that the presence of guns, and calls for armed back-up, sufficed as a conspiracy.

    The Bundy plan was premised on the belief, based on various interpretations of Constitutional law, that state and county officials should control Western grazing lands, not Washington. Bundy told jurors that occupiers armed themselves so they wouldn’t be immediately arrested, and also so they could fire back if the government attacked them.

    That a jury took what appeared to be a free admission of guilt as sign of the occupiers’ innocence has riled many. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said she was disappointed in the verdict. She urged federal field employees to stay alert, as patriot groups, such as the Oath Keepers, have been on the rise, going from a few hundred in 2008 to more than 1,000 today.

    Federal officials have a role to play when conflicts spiral out of hand, as they have occasionally over land rights, fees, and the imposition of new regulations. But the jury also suggested that the case should serve as a stern rebuke to federal prosecutors about their overreach in assuming that guns are proof positive of conspiracy.

    “All 12 jurors felt that this verdict was a statement regarding the various failures of the prosecution to prove ‘conspiracy’ in the count itself – and not any form of affirmation of the defense’s various beliefs, actions, or aspirations,” one juror said in a lengthy email to the Oregonian.

    AS we can see, the trolls are feeling frisky this Halloween season.

    So now that this jury decided to toll the nation to “send a message” or something (the jury-equivalent of voting for Donald Trump), the countdown for the armed trolling insurrection has already begun. And as David Fry, one of the defendants now acquitted and released, has already made very clear, that countdown is getting close to zero:

    Talking Points Memo Muckraker

    Anti-Gov’t Activists See Vindication In Acquittal Of Oregon Occupiers

    By Allegra Kirkland
    Published October 28, 2016, 3:01 PM EDT

    Militia groups and anti-government activists rejoiced at the news that seven defendants charged in the armed occupation earlier this year of a remote federal wildlife refuge in Oregon were acquitted of all charges late Thursday.

    The stunning verdict in the high-profile trial has convinced those who see it as their duty to take up arms against what they view as government overreach that their crusade is a just one.

    “Tonight we have vindication for the life, fortune and sacred honor we all promised to give and for which many have given already,” Central Oregon Constitutional Guard leader B.J. Soper wrote in a Facebook post, adding that he’d had tears in his eyes all night.

    While the Oath Keepers, a so-called patriot group made up of current and former military and law enforcement personnel, criticized the occupiers’ decision to take over a federal building, founder Stewart Rhodes told TPM that the jury’s decision represented “a victory for due process.”

    “In the big picture, they’re right,” Stewart Rhodes said of the occupiers in a Friday phone call. “Western lands are being stolen from the American people. It’s not just white ranchers, it’s also the Native Americans too. It’s happening right now at the pipeline. So it’s the entire west.”

    The ongoing protest over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which has been carried out largely by Native Americans and environmental activists, appears to be an unlikely new draw for militia members. Rhodes said he’s heard from “plenty of guys who have expressed interest in going up there,” as has at least one of the acquitted Oregon occupiers.

    Leaving the federal courthouse in Portland on Thursday to greet a boisterous, tearful crowd of supporters bearing American flags and pocket Constitutions, David Fry, the designated videographer for the makeshift militia, hinted he may head to North Dakota next.

    “I might be traveling after this,” Fry said in video captured by Facebook user Dory Dae, when asked if he would join the pipeline protest. “I mean, there’s more federal buildings that need to be occupied” (the clashes between DAPL protesters and police this week that resulted in over 100 arrests took place on private land maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers).

    In another video taken by Facebook user John Lamb, Fry again suggested that the U.S. brace for future actions like the armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, which began in January and lasted 41 days.

    “You helped us win this battle,” Fry said to the group of supporters embracing outside the courthouse. “But there are a lot more to win.”

    Ammon and Ryan Bundy, who were acquitted in their roles as ringleaders of the occupation, remain jailed on charges related to the 2014 armed standoff with Bureau of Land Management officers on the family’s Nevada ranch.

    In a recording sent from the Multnomah County Jail and shared on the Bundy Ranch Bundy Ranch Facebook page, Ammon Bundy referred to his acquittal in the case as a “miracle from God” and suggested it bodes well for the Nevada case.

    “It was the lord who gave us the advantage,” he said. “He always gives us the advantage if we stay true to him.”

    “We must not be afraid when we’re told to act by the lord,” Bundy went on. “We must act and not be afraid.”

    “The ongoing protest over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which has been carried out largely by Native Americans and environmental activists, appears to be an unlikely new draw for militia members. Rhodes said he’s heard from “plenty of guys who have expressed interest in going up there,” as has at least one of the acquitted Oregon occupiers.

    Yes, in what could be a bizarre twist, the protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline could be the next locations of an armed militia sovereign citizen showdown. Considering that that the Bundy’s are dedicated to opening land to exploitation by virtually anyone and have a history of trashing scared Native American sites and actually rallied the Paiute tribe to oppose what Malhueur occupiers were doing go their sacred sites, it seems like an odd sequel. But that’s apparently not going to stop Malheur occupying David Fry:


    “I might be traveling after this,” Fry said in video captured by Facebook user Dory Dae, when asked if he would join the pipeline protest. “I mean, there’s more federal buildings that need to be occupied” (the clashes between DAPL protesters and police this week that resulted in over 100 arrests took place on private land maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers).

    In another video taken by Facebook user John Lamb, Fry again suggested that the U.S. brace for future actions like the armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, which began in January and lasted 41 days.

    “You helped us win this battle,” Fry said to the group of supporters embracing outside the courthouse. “But there are a lot more to win.”

    Get ready Dakota Pipeline protestors. David Fry and a bunch of Oath Keepers might be heading your way so they can market their ‘armed but not armed in a conspiracy sort of way’ showdown techniques to environmental and native American co. Armed trolls are coming which means things are about to get weird.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 30, 2016, 10:21 pm
  39. Here’s a reminder that while most Americans are frantically fretting about the outcome of the election on November 8, a growing number of a militia groups are frantically training for urban warfare on November 8th. And November 9th and beyond. Especially if Hillary wins:

    BuzzFeed

    Militias Are Urging Their Members To Prepare For Violence On Election Day

    From online courses to war games in wooded areas, armed groups across the country are training for what they believe is inevitable violence on and after Nov. 8.
    posted on Nov. 4, 2016, at 9:39 p.m.

    Salvador Hernandez
    BuzzFeed News Reporter

    Armed and radicalized militia groups across the country are preparing for what they believe will be a violent end to the 2016 presidential election, warning its members to ready themselves for riots or even a revolution come Nov. 8.

    From prepping first-aid kits to full-on tactical armed training in the woods, militia groups are planning and practicing for the worst-case scenario and increasing angst about what historically has been a peaceful transfer of power.

    “I think it has a high probability of occurring,” Joseph Rice, leader of an Oregon group called Liberty Watch Josephine County, and founding member of the Pacific Patriots Network told BuzzFeed News. “We expect to see civil unrest within the inner cities and urban areas.”

    That’s a sentiment being repeated among groups across the country, from comments on private Facebook groups about loading up on ammunition, online courses of survival, to hands-on training for what they believe could be a citizen uprising.

    On Thursday, one of the largest such groups, Oath Keepers, invited its members to an online class to teach them how to prepare, what items to stock up on, and what to do if post-election violence begins.

    The course included tips on what to pack in an emergency bag, how to stay warm outdoors, what to do with an improvised explosive device, and how to set up a “Kill Zone Maze” in their local neighborhoods.

    [see instructions on how to set up a “Kill Zone Maze” in your local neighborhood]

    The presentation was open to the public, but leaders of the group explained that a more detailed, tactical presentation would also be offered for their dues-paying members.

    “We are all concerned for this election that has been a kind of crazy rollercoaster ride of an election, and we’re all concerned about civil unrest,” said Stewart Rhodes, president of Oath Keepers, during the webinar. “I’ve had a lot of questions about what to do if the worse case starts to happen.”

    Oath Keepers describes itself as an organization composed of current and former law enforcement officers and military personnel. The Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League, however, refer to it as one of the largest militia groups in the country with ties to anti-government and sovereign citizen ideologies.

    The FBI, in warrants and affidavits, has also referred to the group as an anti-government organization, a characterization Rhodes denies.

    During the online course, leaders of the group aired many of the same warnings issued by other militia groups across the country, including worries that a Donald Trump victory would spur riots in “inner cities” and that a Hillary Clinton victory could spark a “false flag” — a term used by some conspiracy theorists to describe what they believe are government-staged events, like a mass shooting, to push for gun legislation.

    The leaders said their presentation and role was “non-partisan,” and that unless major fraud occurs, Trump was guaranteed to win the election Tuesday night.

    The two-hour class ranged from harmless camping tips to Armageddon-like scenarios, such as how to create a road block with vehicles and set up a “kill zone” in neighborhoods.

    “The only way to repel violence is with violence, otherwise you are at the mercy of the group,” John Karriman, coordinator for the Missouri Oath Keepers said during the course. “I would venture to say that the people here tonight, except government agitators, know that all we’re about is preserving our family and our way of life.”

    In one slide, Oath Keepers included civil rights and student advocacy groups, such as the National Council of La Raza and MEChA alongside terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.

    [see Oath Keepers slide of enemies]

    The group also extensively discussed the possible threat of improvised explosive devices in high-traffic areas on Election Day or afterward, identifying ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood, Russian Mafia, and Black Lives Matter movement as chief suspects.

    The Black Lives Matter movement has never been linked or connected to an IED incident.

    Joseph Santoro, an Oath Keeper from Colorado, however, tried to make the case that Marxists and Jihadis cooperated in the 1970s, and terrorist groups could now cooperate with social activists in the US.

    “I think its not a stretch to say that you’ll see the same kind of cooperation now,” Santoro said. “Both of them see Western Civilization as the enemy.”

    There is no evidence that any local activist groups have been linked to foreign terrorists. Experts have pointed out to racists elements within the militia movement, though most members deny the claim.

    Militias and anti-government groups have seen a resurgence in the last eight years, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which counted more than 270 in 2014. Although many claim to be non-partisan or protectors of the Constitution, most lean heavily toward the alt-right and carry anti-government sentiments.

    The groups gained national prominence in recent years after militias flocked to Nevada in 2014 during a tense standoff between rancher Cliven Bundy and federal agents who seized his cattle over unpaid grazing fees.

    Militia members also traveled to Oregon earlier this year when Bundy’s sons and armed supporters took over a wildlife refuge to protest government control of federal lands. In October, three militia men in Kansas were also arrested in a plot to bomb an apartment complex to kill Muslims.

    Donnie Dean, president of the Constitutional Security Force and Three Percenter Boots on the Ground in Georgia, told BuzzFeed News those events as well as plans for any Election Day violence has hurt the public image of well-intentioned militias.

    Dean, who describes himself as a militia man, said he is aware of another group in Georgia that has been actively training in the woods ahead of the election, and that similar actions could actually be the spark to unrest on Tuesday.

    “Half of what (they) talk about or try to do is illegal, its unconstitutional, it goes against our core values as militia,” Dean said. “It’s just dangerous. It’s dangerous to everybody.”

    His group, he said, was not involved in Election Day preparation. When asked whether he expected violence during or after Nov. 8, however, he said he was unsure.

    “Politically, religiously, this country is pretty divided in every direction” Dean said. “I don’t know this time around. It’s a scary thought. It’s a thought I don’t want to think about.”

    His militia was ready, always ready, in case of social strife, he explained, not just on election day.

    “We’re going to be very devoutly committed to any kind of law order,” he said. “If the election comes and it’s Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump and things happen in society where it starts to break down, we’re going to defend society.”

    Dean is not alone in his concerns.

    Though unlikely, the idea of some sort of a violent reaction to the upcoming election is a fear that has taken root in many people’s minds.

    According to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll published last week, 51% of likely voters have at least some sort of concern about violence on Nov. 8. And one in five are “very concerned,” according to the poll.

    Those worries have not been dampened by social media posts, from high-profile conservatives who have toyed with rhetoric about armed resistance to a Clinton presidency.

    Former Illinois congressman and current radio host Joe Walsh told his 79,000 Twitter followers he would be “grabbing my musket” if Trump lost the election.

    On November 8th, I'm voting for Trump.On November 9th, if Trump loses, I'm grabbing my musket.You in?— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) October 26, 2016

    Walsh later walked back his comments, saying the comment was figurative and not to be taken literally.

    Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, and a regular commentator on Fox News, also tweeted an image of an angry mob and declared “pitchforks and torches time.”

    It's incredible that our institutions of gov, WH, Congress, DOJ, and big media are corrupt & all we do is bitch. Pitchforks and torches time pic.twitter.com/8G5G0daGVN— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) October 15, 2016

    FBI officials would not comment on whether the agency was investigating militia groups involved in Election Day activities.

    “On Thursday, one of the largest such groups, Oath Keepers, invited its members to an online class to teach them how to prepare, what items to stock up on, and what to do if post-election violence begins.

    The course included tips on what to pack in an emergency bag, how to stay warm outdoors, what to do with an improvised explosive device, and how to set up a “Kill Zone Maze” in their local neighborhoods.

    Yes, you can never have too much “Kill Zone Maze” training in anticipation of a big election. And while the Oath Keepers claim that this kind of training is in preparation for securing their own local neighborhoods from what they appear to believe are going be armies of ISIS or Black Lives Matters protestors, it’s hard to ignore that it’s the inner cities where they’re expecting all the violence to break out and that the Oath Keepers are preparing “under cover” vote monitoring operations specifically in the inner cities. It’s especially hard to ignore since they’re apparently also convinced that the only way Donald Trump doesn’t win is if from major fraud:

    The leaders said their presentation and role was “non-partisan,” and that unless major fraud occurs, Trump was guaranteed to win the election Tuesday night.

    So these militias that are training for urban combat appear to be convincing themselves that if Trump loses it was because it was stolen. Also, if that happens and Hillary becomes President, get ready for Hillary to unleash a false-flag attack that will be used to justify outlawing guns:


    During the online course, leaders of the group aired many of the same warnings issued by other militia groups across the country, including worries that a Donald Trump victory would spur riots in “inner cities” and that a Hillary Clinton victory could spark a “false flag” — a term used by some conspiracy theorists to describe what they believe are government-staged events, like a mass shooting, to push for gun legislation.

    That’s all part of the pre-election militia “training” these folks are getting: If Trump wins, prepare for like a race war to break out or something. And if Trump loses and we see a series of far-right/militia acts of violence, it’s actually a “false flag” attack by Hillary in preparation to take away everyone’s guns.

    Also, when you read about Donnie Dean, president of the Constitutional Security Force and Three Percenter Boots on the Ground in Georgia, claim that he doesn’t approve of the groups out in Georgia training in the woods because that itslef could be a spark of unrest…
    :

    Militia members also traveled to Oregon earlier this year when Bundy’s sons and armed supporters took over a wildlife refuge to protest government control of federal lands. In October, three militia men in Kansas were also arrested in a plot to bomb an apartment complex to kill Muslims.

    Donnie Dean, president of the Constitutional Security Force and Three Percenter Boots on the Ground in Georgia, told BuzzFeed News those events as well as plans for any Election Day violence has hurt the public image of well-intentioned militias.

    Dean, who describes himself as a militia man, said he is aware of another group in Georgia that has been actively training in the woods ahead of the election, and that similar actions could actually be the spark to unrest on Tuesday.

    “Half of what (they) talk about or try to do is illegal, its unconstitutional, it goes against our core values as militia,” Dean said. “It’s just dangerous. It’s dangerous to everybody.”

    His group, he said, was not involved in Election Day preparation. When asked whether he expected violence during or after Nov. 8, however, he said he was unsure.

    …don’t assume that the “Three Percenters” are some sort of moderate militia movement. That group in Georgia training in the woods for election day violence is the Three Percent Security Force of Georgia and they’re considering an armed march of Washington if Hillary wins:

    Reuters

    U.S. militia girds for trouble as presidential election nears

    By Justin Mitchell and Andy Sullivan | JACKSON, Ga.
    Wed Nov 2, 2016 | 9:30pm EDT

    Down a Georgia country road, camouflaged members of the Three Percent Security Force have mobilized for rifle practice, hand-to-hand combat training — and an impromptu campaign rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

    “How many people are voting for Trump? Ooh-rah!” asks Chris Hill, a paralegal who goes by the code name “Bloodagent.”

    “Ooh-rah!” shout a dozen militia members in response, as morning sunlight sifted through the trees last weekend.

    As the most divisive presidential election in recent memory nears its conclusion, some armed militia groups are preparing for the possibility of a stolen election on Nov. 8 and civil unrest in the days following a victory by Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    They say they won’t fire the first shot, but they’re not planning to leave their guns at home, either.

    Many fear Clinton would push the county further to the left.

    “This is the last chance to save America from ruin,” Hill said. “I’m surprised I was able to survive or suffer through eight years of Obama without literally going insane, but Hillary is going to be more of the same.”

    EXTREMIST GROUPS EMBOLDENED

    The Oath Keepers, a prominent anti-government force that sent gun-toting members to the 2014 race riots in Ferguson, Missouri, called on members last week to monitor voting sites on election day for any signs of fraud.

    An hour south of Atlanta, the Three Percent Security Force started the day around the campfire, taking turns shooting automatic pistols and rifles at a makeshift target range. They whooped with approval when blasts from one member’s high-powered rifle knocked down a tree.

    The group operates independently, but is affiliated with a national armed movement that calls for members to defend individual rights in the face of what they see as an overreaching federal government. The movement draws its name from the notion that no more than 3 percent of the American population fought in the Revolutionary War against Britain.

    Amid the war games, Hill weighed plans for a possible armed march on Washington if Clinton wins.

    He said he doesn’t want his members leading the way, but they will defend the protesters if need be. His group will not hesitate to act if a President Clinton tries to disarm gun owners, he said.

    “I will be there to render assistance to my fellow countrymen, and prevent them from being disarmed, and I will fight and I will kill and I may die in the process,” said Hill, who founded the militia several years ago.

    Trump’s candidacy has emboldened extremist groups to speak more openly about challenging the rule of law, said Ryan Lenz, a researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    “Prior to this campaign season, these ideas were relegated to sort of the political fringe of the American political landscape,” he said. “Now these ideas are legitimized.”

    Back in Georgia, the Three Percent Security Force wrapped up rifle practice in the midday sun. They then headed further into the trees to tackle an obstacle course with loaded pistols at their sides, ready for whatever may come.

    “We’ve building up for this, just like the Marines,” he said. “We are going to really train harder and try to increase our operational capabilities in the event that this is the day that we hoped would never come.”

    “We’ve building up for this, just like the Marines…We are going to really train harder and try to increase our operational capabilities in the event that this is the day that we hoped would never come.”

    And what is that particular Three Percenter group planning using its “operational capabilities” for if Donald Trump doesn’t win? Preventing the disarming of armed marches on Washington:


    Amid the war games, Hill weighed plans for a possible armed march on Washington if Clinton wins.

    He said he doesn’t want his members leading the way, but they will defend the protesters if need be. His group will not hesitate to act if a President Clinton tries to disarm gun owners, he said.

    “I will be there to render assistance to my fellow countrymen, and prevent them from being disarmed, and I will fight and I will kill and I may die in the process,” said Hill, who founded the militia several years ago.

    “I will be there to render assistance to my fellow countrymen, and prevent them from being disarmed, and I will fight and I will kill and I may die in the process.”

    It’s probably worth recalling at this point that the sovereign citizen “safety committee” that was set up in Burns, Oregon to carry out vigilante justice against local officials included some “Three Percenters”. So if we do see an armed Three Percenter march, let’s hope it remains a march. Don’t forget how the Malheur Occupation started with a march in the town of Burns that ended with the armed occupation of the refuge.

    So let’s review what we’ve learned from the militias:
    1. Trump can’t lose unless there’s major fraud.

    2. If Trump loses, maybe there should be an an armed march in Washington, in which case these militia’s will be there to ensure it’s not disarmed.

    3. Your local neighborhood makes a great “Kill Zone Maze”.

    But don’t forget, if Trump loses and one of these groups flips out and kills a bunch of people or decides to wage an armed occupation of some government building, it’s all a false-flag concocted by Hillary to make the militias look dangerous.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 5, 2016, 8:06 pm
  40. Now that Donald Trump is publicly polishing off his pardon pen, it’s worth noting that Trump ally Roger Stone has a few pardon recommendations of his own: The Bundy Clan. Specifically, the people involved with the initial 2014 armed standoff at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada. A second trial is about to open and the Bundy supporters had a big gathering where the big themes included how armed occupation is a first amendment issue and the mainstream media isn’t giving them a fair hearing. Some speakers advocated for replacing the military with militias. And Roger Stone gave the keynote address where, in addition to fully backing the Bundy cause – a sovereign citizen government worldview that supports armed occupations as a legit for of redress – Roger called for Trump to pardon them all. And he’s going to team up with Info Wars to petition Trump for those Bundy pardons:

    Les Vegas Review-Journal

    Rallies support defendants in Bunkerville standoff case

    By Jessie Bekker and Max Michor
    July 15, 2017 – 6:22 pm

    Updated July 18, 2017 – 6:04 pm

    Hundreds of supporters turned out at a Las Vegas event Saturday night supporting the defendants facing trial in the Bunkerville standoff case.

    They gathered at Rainbow Gardens to hear speeches from Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore, members of the Bundy family and even Roger Stone, an on-and-off adviser for President Donald Trump.

    A trial in the Bunkerville standoff case opens Monday at the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse, but instead of trying a new set of defendants, prosecutors will begin their second attempt to convict four men accused of conspiring against the government with rancher Cliven Bundy.

    The retrial comes after an April mistrial, when jurors deadlocked on 50 of the 60 counts against the first group of defendants in the three-part case. Prosecutors eventually plan to try 17 men on charges stemming from the April 2014 armed standoff between individual rights activists and Bureau of Land Management agents, who came to Bunkerville to seize Bundy’s cattle from public land over unpaid grazing fees.

    The overarching theme at Saturday event: The “mainstream media” hasn’t given the Bundy family a voice.

    “They’re supposed to be unbiased. They’re supposed to be dealing with facts and truth,” said Jeanette Finicum, wife of the late LaVoy Finicum, who was present at the 2014 Bunkerville standoff and who was shot by an Oregon state trooper during another standoff at an eastern Oregon wildlife refuge last year.

    Fiore recalled explaining her understanding of the Bundy case — “the ‘B word,’” she said — to constituents preceding her election. “I would say to them, after five minutes, ‘Now you support the Bundys,’” Fiore said.

    Throughout speeches, members of the crowd shook their heads, clapped and wiped away tears. On and off, they hollered and shouted affirming yeses.

    Stone closed the evening Saturday by accusing the FBI and the Bureau of Land Management of “threatening death, … slaughtering livestock and laughing in our face about it.”

    The crowd whistled and offered a standing ovation to welcome him to the podium.

    “I am here for one important reason. I stand in solidarity with every member of the Bundy family,” Stone said. The crowd responded by chanting, “Roger! Roger! Roger!”

    “I have not followed this case with the intensity that I might have,” Stone said. Still, he noted, “The more I read, the angrier I got.”

    Over time, he said, Americans’ constitutional rights have been eroded to the point of being unrecognizable. “This is the oppressive and of a military jackbooted government that has lost all sense of law or morality.”

    Stone called out U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for commenting on the case during his Wednesday visit to Las Vegas.

    Then, he appealed Trump to “review this case in the name of justice, in the name of mercy … pardon every member of the Bundy family.”

    Again, the crowd chanted his name.

    Stone announced he plans to post a petition on the InfoWars website, urging the president to review the Bundy case.

    For Carol Bundy, wife of Cliven Bundy, the message was strength, despite feeling that her “heart is in a prison cell.”

    “God let you hit rock bottom so that you can discover that he is the one at the bottom,” she said, choking back tears. “I’m tired, I’m tearful, I don’t know how to help everybody that needs help, but come morning time, I pull myself up by the bootstraps and say, ‘Yup, I’ve got this for one more day.”

    In addition to fighting for the release of the 17 men being held on charges stemming from the April 2014 standoff, speakers advocated for a militia over an organized military and a traditional reading of the constitution that would ban federal control over land.

    Doug Knowles, who runs activist group It Matters How You Stand, said the event was, besides a fundraiser, an effort to raise awareness.

    “These are real human stories here,” he said. “We’re not against the government. We’re anti-corrupt government.”

    Peaceful protest

    Earlier Saturday, several dozen people rallied peacefully in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Las Vegas in solidarity with defendants.

    Ace Baker, a rally organizer who said he was with the American Warrior Revolution, said the morning rally participants wanted to send a message to Judge Gloria Navarro and prosecutors in the case: “We, the people, the fourth branch of government, have you in our sights and all we’re asking for is a fair, constitutional trial.”

    “Everything’s at stake here — for any American, anyone who’s a proud American,” Baker said. “If they think you’re too proud or too patriotic, suddenly you’re being charged for terrorist acts.”

    Maureen Peltier, who said she was a citizen journalist and a retired staff sergeant with the National Guard, said she believes the “mainstream media” has done a poor job covering the issues surrounding the case.

    “We see men taking a stand and we see their plights and the mainstream media is ignoring it,” Peltier said.

    “This is much bigger than a few individuals. This is much bigger than us all,” she said. “Our First Amendment right has been attacked. All our rights are at stake.”

    ———-

    “Rallies support defendants in Bunkerville standoff case” by Jessie Bekker and Max Michor; Las Vegas Review-Journal; 07/15/2017

    “Then, he appealed Trump to “review this case in the name of justice, in the name of mercy … pardon every member of the Bundy family.””

    Pardons all around! Armed standoffs are a free speech protected right. That’s the stance Stone is going to be lobbying. And while Stone explicitly called for the Bundy family to get pardons (you can see the whole speech on his Facebook page), those pardons probably won’t be limited to the Bundys. Don’t forget about figures like Jerry DeLemus, the head of the New Hampshire branch of “Veterans for Trump” who was given seven years for his role in the 2014 standoff. There are all sorts of non-Bundy figures who were part of this these things so there’s probably going to be a lot of pardons if Trump decides to go down this path. And a lot more armed standoffs.

    But we can’t rule it out. Even if Trump wasn’t getting circled by impeachment wolves we wouldn’t be able to rule it out, but since he is being circled by impeachment wolves it’s not hard to imagine him wanting to cozy up more to friendly militias. That seems like a Trumpian warlord-ish thing to do.

    And note how posting the petition on Info Wars is how Stone is getting this idea to Trump. It’s tragicomic in part because that really probably is a valid way to get this pardon idea in front of Trump’s eyes. Doesn’t he read Info Wars? It seems like he does. So maybe he’ll read about Stone’s pardon petition at Info Wars and go ahead and do it:


    Again, the crowd chanted his name.

    Stone announced he plans to post a petition on the InfoWars website, urging the president to review the Bundy case.

    We can’t rule out that such a scenario might seriously play out because that’s how it work now. The President follows Info Wars. There’s a good chance anything pushed by Roger Stone and Alex Jones is getting Trump’s attention. Whether or not he’ll be convinced remains to be seen. Pardoning the Bundys isn’t the kind of thing most Presidents would do, but with Trump it’s a pretty good fit with his administration’s “Deconstruction of the Administration State” political brand/agenda. And if he does do this he’ll be setting the stage for the mass giveaway of federal public lands. So let’s hope Trump doesn’t end up legitimizing arm standoffs and giving away public lands after reading Roger Stone’s petition on Info Wars. And let’s hope he doesn’t have enough time for Info Wars at all at this point since Alex Jones has been calling for military force against Trump protestors and a general violent civil war:

    Newsweek

    Alex Jones and Other Conservatives Call for Civil War Against Liberals

    By Nina Burleigh
    On 7/21/17 at 12:33 PM

    Would you go to war against your fellow Americans to show your support for President Donald Trump? For the last several months, that’s exactly what broadcaster Alex Jones—a favorite of the president—has been calling for.

    In his radio show, on YouTube and on his Infowars website, Jones—who never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like and who has pushed the notion that Sandy Hook was faked—has been announcing that the United States is on the verge of a bloody second civil war. Like the radio DJs in Rwanda, Jones has been egging on his conservative listeners and viewers—an estimated 2.7 million people monthly—to kill more liberal fellow citizens over their political differences.

    Jones is hardly alone in promoting this scary, emerging narrative on the right. The theme gained momentum after the shooting at the congressional baseball game last month. The day before the attack, on June 13, right wing broadcaster Michael Savage, host of syndicated show The Savage Nation, warned that “there’s going to be a civil war” because of “what this left-wing is becoming in this country.” After the baseball field shooting the next day, he said that he “know[s] what’s coming, and it’s going to get worse.” Savage also said of the shooting that “this blood is on [Democrats’] hands.”

    After the shooting, Newt Gingrich opined on Fox that “we are in a clear-cut cultural civil war.” Former GOP speechwriter Pat Buchanan wrote that the appointment of a special prosecutor and political street clashes presage a “deep state media coup” and that the nation is “approaching something of a civil war,” and it’s time for Trump to “burn down the Bastille.”

    But few commentators can match the relentless hysteria and reach of Jones. His recent YouTube video titles telegraph the tone: “Get Ready For CIVIL WAR!” and “First Shots Fired in Second US Civil War! What Will You Do?” and “Will Trump Stop Democrats’ Plan for Violent Civil War?”

    Jones’s followers have already turned broadcaster words into violent action. Last year, Edgar Maddison Welch drove from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., to fire on a pizza restaurant Jones had been saying was a front for Democratic pedophiles and Satanists. Court records indicate he had been talking to his friends about Jones’s theories before he went on his mission. In 2014, a right-wing couple, self-described Infowars fans Jerad and Amanda Miller from Indiana, killed two police officers after posting screeds on Infowars. Jones later theorized that the shooting was a false flag intended to discredit the right.

    Media Matters for America (MMA), a progressive research organization, has staff assigned to track Jones Infowars shows daily. According to spokesman Nate Evans, right-wing media has been advocating violence more since Trump was elected, but Jones “has been particularly crazy about it.”

    Among the statements MMA has culled from his broadcasts in recent months are the following:

    On June 23, he accused “the left” of starting civil war and offered to personally execute convicted traitors because, he said, “I’m not going to sit here and just call for stuff without actually being part of it.” In the same broadcast he said, “I don’t need some coming-of-age deal to kill a bunch of liberals,” but “we have to start getting ready for insurrection and civil war because they’re really pushing it.”

    On June 15, he warned “you kick off Civil War 2, baby, you’ll think Lexington and Concord was a cakewalk.” The day before, he implicated himself and his listeners: “You’re trying to start a civil war with people. You’re taking our kindness for weakness. Do you understand the American people will kill all of you? You understand? We are killing machines, you fools.… But I can shoot bull’s-eye at 400 yards, dumbass. I mean, they have no idea who they’re messing with.”

    In a May 13 broadcast, he warned that “leftists want a war,” so “cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war.”

    Jones has also called for extrajudicially arresting former FBI DIrector James Comey and Hillary Clinton and has encouraged Trump to use the military against dissenters. “I’d support the president right now moving against these people physically,” he said in a June 13 broadcast. “I mean, let’s be honest. We’re in a war. I would support the president making a military move on them right now.”

    This is not the first time Jones has attracted attention by advocating violence against federal officials. In April, he let loose with a rant on California Democrat Adam Schiff, the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee looking into Trump’s Russian connections. The profanity laced transcript was also homophobic and included an explicit threat of bodily harm.

    “I’m not against gay people. OK. I love them, they’re great folks. But Schiff looks like the archetypal cocksucker with those little deer-in-the-headlight eyes and all his stuff,” Jones said. “And there’s something about this fairy, hopping around, bossing everybody around, trying to intimidate people like me and you, I want to tell Congressman Schiff and all the rest of them, ‘Hey, listen, asshole, quit saying Roger and I’—and I’ve never used cussing in 22 years, but the gloves are off—‘listen, you son of a bitch, what the fuck’s your problem? You want to sit here and say that I’m a goddamn, fucking Russian. You get in my face with that, I’ll beat your goddamn ass, you son of a bitch. You piece of shit. You fucking goddamn fucker. Listen, fuckhead, you have fucking crossed a line. Get that through your goddamn fucking head. Stop pushing your shit. You’re the people that have fucked this country over and gangraped the shit out of it and lost an election. So stop shooting your mouth off claiming I’m the enemy. You got that you goddamn son of a bitch? Fill your hand.’ I’m sorry, but I’m done. You start calling me a foreign agent, those are fucking fighting words. Excuse me.”

    Tim Johnson, a Media Matters for America Research Fellow, who tracks Jones says that the civil war theme is a new one, and probably related to the fact that Barack Obama is no longer president, offering a clear, single enemy. “He needs something new, and so it’s that criticism of Trump equals civil war,” Johnson said.

    An attorney with expertise in federal law told Newsweek at the time that Jones’s threats at Schiff appeared to break a federal law, U.S. Code Title 18, Section 115, which makes it illegal to threaten to assault a U.S. official and provides a penalty of up to six years in prison.

    After Newsweek published that legal analysis, Jones publicly pulled back, and posted a video attempting to clarify his remarks as “clearly tongue-in-cheek and basically art performance.”

    ———-

    “Alex Jones and Other Conservatives Call for Civil War Against Liberals” by Nina Burleigh; Newsweek; 07/21/2017

    “But few commentators can match the relentless hysteria and reach of Jones. His recent YouTube video titles telegraph the tone: “Get Ready For CIVIL WAR!” and “First Shots Fired in Second US Civil War! What Will You Do?” and “Will Trump Stop Democrats’ Plan for Violent Civil War?”

    So in addition to trying to make armed standoffs and 1st Amendment free speech protected behavior, Alex Jones has been call for violence against liberals as part of a civil war. And vigilante arrests of people like Hillary Clinton and military force against protestors:


    Jones has also called for extrajudicially arresting former FBI DIrector James Comey and Hillary Clinton and has encouraged Trump to use the military against dissenters. “I’d support the president right now moving against these people physically,” he said in a June 13 broadcast. “I mean, let’s be honest. We’re in a war. I would support the president making a military move on them right now.”

    And the Alex Jones/Roger Stone world, it’s cool to call for a civil war against people for their beliefs and support military crackdowns on anti-Trump protestors, but as Roger Stone’s argued at the Bundy event when calling for the Info Wars petition, armed standoffs that utilize the threat of violence like the Bundy standoff are a 1st amendment and 2nd amendment protected form of protest. Ideas like that and violence against liberal dissenters is what we get now that the GOP has all the power.

    Trump’s pardon pen is probably going to be going through quite a few ink refills.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 23, 2017, 7:40 pm
  41. With President Trump teasing about the possibility that he’ll issue a pardon for former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio over Arpaio’s conviction of criminal contempt for disregarding a court in a racial profiling case during Trump’s “yay me!” rally in Phoenix, Arizona, and now reports that the White House already has the pardoning papers all ready to go, it’s worth noting that we probably can’t rule out an eventual Trump pardoning of the Bundy clan and other figures associated with the twin armed stand offs in Nevada and Oregon. Pardoning the Bundys would be in keeping with the Trump brand of “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters” style of politics. Sort of a “You could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue threaten to shoot government employees and you won’t get in any trouble” platform. So, sadly, a Trump pardon of the Bundys is something we sadly can’t rule out.

    But perhaps even more sadly, it’s also worth noting that it’s unclear how many opportunities Trump will actually have to pardon the Bundys and their armed standoff collaborators because they keep getting acquitted by sympathetic juries who are clearly also ok with armed stand offs as a form or political conflict resolution

    Las Vegas Review-Journal

    2 men acquitted of all charges in Bunkerville standoff case

    By David Ferrara
    August 22, 2017 – 3:55 pm

    Updated August 22, 2017 – 8:30 pm

    Jurors acquitted two men of charges that could have sent them to federal prison for decades Tuesday, while reaching a split decision for two others, in a retrial that stemmed from the 2014 armed standoff in Bunkerville.

    The four men hugged their attorneys, as about two dozen loyal supporters erupted into cheers from the gallery of a courtroom where they had quietly watched weeks and weeks of testimony.

    Montana resident Ricky Lovelien and Idaho resident Steven Stewart were acquitted of all 10 counts they faced and were expected to be released from custody Tuesday night.

    Stewart cried and nodded his head along with each “not guilty” U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro read aloud, while Lovelien showed little more emotion than a grin.

    After several supporters stepped outside to line Las Vegas Boulevard and trumpet the verdicts, defense attorneys gathered briefly in a hallway just outside Navarro’s courtroom.

    The panel of six women and six men deliberated for a little more than three days. The jury also acquitted Idaho residents Scott Drexler and Eric Parker of most counts but could not agree on all charges against the two men.

    “What we have here is a win,” said Parker’s wife, Andrea, joined by about 25 others outside the federal courthouse.

    All four men had been held without bail since early 2016.

    Acting U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre said prosecutors have not decided when they will retry Drexler and Parker on the remaining charges.

    Navarro scheduled Wednesday hearings for the two men, who were expected to be transferred to a federal halfway house in the meantime. The judge could decide tomorrow to release them from custody while prosecutors contemplate their next step.

    Chained at the ankles inside the courtroom late Tuesday afternoon, Parker and Drexler fist-bumped their attorneys, Jess Marchese and Todd Leventhal, before marshal’s escorted them back to a holding area.

    Parker still faces significant prison time for charges of assault and threatening a federal officer, along with underlying weapons charges. The jury also did not reach a verdict on assault and a weapons charge for Drexler.

    “I hope the government sees they have a weak case,” Parker’s lawyer, Marchese, said. “And I hope they decide to dismiss the remaining counts and save the taxpayers some money.”

    During the second trial, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro barred the defense from referencing constitutional rights to freely assemble and to bear arms. She also prohibited mention of alleged misconduct or excessive force by law enforcement.

    Shortly after the verdict, defense attorneys spoke privately with jurors, who told them they had voted 11-1 in favor of acquittal on all charges.

    “This has been a long time coming,” the lawyer told reporters. “We knew it was going to happen eventually. As much as we were shut down to bring anything up, the jury saw through it.”

    During closing arguments last week, prosecutors pointed to social media posts in which the four men discussed the activities in the rural Nevada town, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. On a video played for jurors, rancher Cliven Bundy spoke to a crowd outside his ranch, encouraging his followers to do what they needed to do to retrieve his cattle from the Bureau of Land Management.

    Defense attorneys for each of the men opted not to give closing statements.

    The defendants, charged as gunmen, were accused of driving from other states to Bunkerville in April 2014 to support Bundy, who is accused of conspiring to thwart the federal government’s roundup of roughly 1,000 cows from public land.

    Earlier this year, members of another jury declared that they were deadlocked on all counts against the four defendants but convicted two others.

    ———-

    “2 men acquitted of all charges in Bunkerville standoff case” by David Ferrara; Las Vegas Review-Journal; 08/22/2017

    “The panel of six women and six men deliberated for a little more than three days. The jury also acquitted Idaho residents Scott Drexler and Eric Parker of most counts but could not agree on all charges against the two men.”

    The jury completely acquitted two of the four men of all charges, but couldn’t agree for the the other two, resulting in a mistrial. And it sounds like they almost agree to acquit the other two too, with 11 jurors in favor of acquittal on all charges and just one hold out:


    Shortly after the verdict, defense attorneys spoke privately with jurors, who told them they had voted 11-1 in favor of acquittal on all charges.

    So it’s looking like there’s no shortage of juries that uniformly view armed stand offs with the government as totally fine. And now the federal prosecutors have to retool their strategy just weeks before the trial of the Bundy family members for their role in the whole thing.

    The whole country is 5th Ave and everyone is Donald Trump. Ok, obviously not everybody.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 23, 2017, 2:36 pm
  42. Here’s a rather interesting development related to the Trump administration’s plans to open up more federal land and national monuments to industry, including the Bears Ears monument President Obama created in December 2016 next the Bundy ranch: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke does still have plans to shrink national monuments and open more up for logging and mining and other types of private exploitation, but not in his home state of Montana. And as the following article notes, the reason for that hesitancy to do in Montana what he is proposing to do elsewhere probably has a lot to do with Zinke’s political ambitions:

    Associated Press

    US Interior chief wants smaller monuments, but not at home

    By MATTHEW BROWN
    Sep. 27, 2017

    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has closely followed his boss’ playbook, encouraging mining and drilling on public lands and reducing the size of national monuments that President Donald Trump called a “massive land grab” by his Democratic predecessors.

    Except, that is, in Montana.

    In Zinke’s home state, the former congressman who has long harbored higher political ambitions is recommending Trump create a new national monument out of the forests bordering Glacier National Park, to the disappointment of a company that wants to drill for natural gas there.

    A couple hundred miles away, where rocky bluffs line the Missouri River, he decided to leave intact a 590-square-mile (1,528-square-kilometer) monument that for 16 years has stirred the kind of impassioned local opposition that Zinke cited in justifying changes to monuments elsewhere.

    And he wants to curb mining along Montana’s border with Yellowstone National Park. That could discourage development of two proposed mines that supporters say would offer higher paying jobs than tourism.

    The decision was based on Zinke’s belief that “some places are too precious to mine,” his spokeswoman said last month.

    Zinke, a rumored candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018 or governor in 2020, appears to be carving out an exception for Montana from Trump’s agenda to open more public lands to natural resources development. Whether it stems from Montana pride or political ambition in a state where conservation has bipartisan appeal, the results have rankled both sides in the debate over managing millions of acres of public lands in the U.S. West.

    “It’s totally favoritism,” said Land Tawney, president of the conservation group Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.

    Tawney is a friend of the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and his group threw its support behind Zinke’s nomination last winter. But he said the Interior secretary’s recommendations to scale back four large monuments in the West, including Bears Ears in Utah, represent a “sellout to industry” that’s putting public land and wildlife at risk. Zinke also called for shrinking two marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean.

    “We’re happy he recognizes the importance of the Badger Two-Medicine,” Tawney said, referring to the 203-square-mile (526-square-kilometer) area south of Glacier that Zinke recommends be a monument. “Places that are very similar in fashion, like Bears Ears, he’s not quite protecting. … You can’t talk out of both sides of your mouth.”

    Zinke spokeswoman Heather Swift declined to comment on how he came to recommend a monument designation for Badger-Two Medicine or whether he was treating public lands in Montana differently than elsewhere.

    Of the 27 monuments that Trump in May ordered Zinke to review, the Interior Department so far has publicly identified six that would not be modified in some fashion, including the one in Montana and monuments in Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho and California.

    Zinke’s recommendations for smaller monuments include a second site in Utah and locations in Nevada and Oregon. He also would allow logging at a Maine monument and more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico.

    In his recommendations to Trump, contained in a recently leaked memo, Zinke noted that the Badger-Two Medicine area is sacred to the Blackfoot tribes of the U.S. and Canada.

    Zinke also suggested monument status for two other sites: Camp Nelson in Kentucky, a Union supply depot and hospital where black troops and others trained during the Civil War, and the Jackson, Mississippi, home of slain civil rights figure Medgar Evers.

    Badger-Two Medicine has been the subject of a long-running dispute between the Blackfeet Tribe, which has a reservation next to the proposed monument, and a Louisiana oil and gas company, Solenex, which wants to drill on the land.

    Zinke’s recommendation for the area presents an “optics problem” at a time when the Trump administration has criticized the use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to create monuments, said William Perry Pendley, president of the conservative Mountain States Legal Foundation, which is representing Solenex.

    “It’s terribly disappointing,” Pendley said. “What the secretary ought to be sending to the president is a recommendation to repeal the Antiquities Act, to put an end to this issue.”

    Pendley compared Zinke’s actions to those of President Bill Clinton in 1996, when he halted a gold mine near Yellowstone, and of the Obama administration last year, when it proposed to end new mining claims on 30,000 acres near the park, which Zinke now supports.

    Zinke has made no secret of his political desires. In his first term in the U.S. House, he raised his hand to become speaker but didn’t get chosen after Ohio Rep. John Boehner resigned. Last year, Zinke became an early supporter of Trump and publicly stated his desire to be picked as vice president.

    In Montana, he’s been viewed as a potential contender against U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat up for re-election next year whom Republicans consider vulnerable. Analysts say it’s not too late for Zinke to jump in.

    Another possibility arises in 2020 when Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, reaches his two-term limit.

    ———-

    “US Interior chief wants smaller monuments, but not at home” by MATTHEW BROWN; Associated Press; 09/27/2017

    “Zinke, a rumored candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018 or governor in 2020, appears to be carving out an exception for Montana from Trump’s agenda to open more public lands to natural resources development. Whether it stems from Montana pride or political ambition in a state where conservation has bipartisan appeal, the results have rankled both sides in the debate over managing millions of acres of public lands in the U.S. West.”

    His home state is the exception to the rule. Great! At least one state gets an exception. And Zinke is even proposing a new national monument for Montana. It’s pretty remarkable:


    In Zinke’s home state, the former congressman who has long harbored higher political ambitions is recommending Trump create a new national monument out of the forests bordering Glacier National Park, to the disappointment of a company that wants to drill for natural gas there.

    A couple hundred miles away, where rocky bluffs line the Missouri River, he decided to leave intact a 590-square-mile (1,528-square-kilometer) monument that for 16 years has stirred the kind of impassioned local opposition that Zinke cited in justifying changes to monuments elsewhere.

    And he wants to curb mining along Montana’s border with Yellowstone National Park. That could discourage development of two proposed mines that supporters say would offer higher paying jobs than tourism.

    The decision was based on Zinke’s belief that “some places are too precious to mine,” his spokeswoman said last month.

    “The decision was based on Zinke’s belief that “some places are too precious to mine,” his spokeswoman said last month.”

    Yes, some places are indeed too precious to mine. It wasn’t clear before that Zinke actually believes this, and it’s still not clear he believes it since his perception of preciousness appears to be limited to Montana. But if he feels the need to suddenly care for political reasons that works. But it only works for Montana.

    So if the politics of what Zinke is proposing for the rest of the US aren’t a good fit for Montana, a state with a large amount of federal land (29 percent of the state), what about the politics of this in other states with lots of federal land? Well, we got a partial answer to that question in a recent Utah poll, where the Bears Ears national monument resides. While a majority of Utah voters supported Zinke’s plans to shrink Bears Ears, it’s only barely a majority. And this is in a state that, like Montana, should be political fertile ground for such a move. But just a bare majority (51 percent in the poll) actually supported Zinke’s plans for Bears Ears and only 27 percent supported a similar plant for a second Utah national monument:

    The Hill

    Poll: Utah voters divided on future of two national monuments

    By Devin Henry – 10/24/17 11:58 AM EDT

    Most Utahns surveyed in a new poll support shrinking the Bears Ears National Monument but broadly oppose doing the same to Grand Staircase-Escalante.

    The poll, released Tuesday by the Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah, found 51 percent of respondents consider Bears Ears, established under former President Barack Obama, to be too large.

    But 53 percent of voters also said the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument should be preserved and not split into smaller monuments, something supported by 27 percent of those polled.

    Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante — both controversial monuments in the Beehive State — are two of nearly 30 large national monuments that the Interior Department considered for changes earlier this year.

    Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has said he will recommend President Trump shrink Bears Ears, a 1.3-million acre expanse established by the Obama administration late last year containing cultural sites from Native American tribes.

    Reports indicate Zinke will also recommend Trump shrink Grand Staircase-Escalante, a 1.8-million acre monument established by President Clinton in 1996.

    The White House has not released details about Zinke’s monuments review, which was sparked by concerns over the expansive use of presidential monument-making authority under the Antiquities Act.

    ———-

    “Poll: Utah voters divided on future of two national monuments” by Devin Henry; The Hill; 10/24/2017

    “Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante — both controversial monuments in the Beehive State — are two of nearly 30 large national monuments that the Interior Department considered for changes earlier this year.”

    This is the polling on just 2 of the 30 national monuments Zinke has in mind to shrink or open up to industry: a bare majority support shrinking Bears Ears and the opposition for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument:


    The poll, released Tuesday by the Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah, found 51 percent of respondents consider Bears Ears, established under former President Barack Obama, to be too large.

    But 53 percent of voters also said the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument should be preserved and not split into smaller monuments, something supported by 27 percent of those polled.

    Those are the kinds of polling numbers that probably won’t play too well when Zinke is making his future presidential run for office. At least in Utah.

    But it raises the question of how people across the US feel about Zinke’s plans for these 30 monuments. After all, it’s not like only people living in the state where a national monument resides care about it. And that brings us to a pretty ominous poll. Ominous for Zinke and Trump: According to a new polls, 90 percent of Trump voters in Pennsylvania want national monuments to be protected. And similar numbers were found in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio. Again, this was the polling for Trump supporters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio:

    Public News Service

    PA Trump Supporters Want National Monuments Protected

    Andrea Sears
    November 9, 2017

    HARRISBURG, Pa. – Most Trump voters in Pennsylvania think the president is doing a good job, but when it comes to protecting national monuments they have a sharply different opinion.

    The president has announced that he wants to reduce the size of two national monuments that span millions of acres of wilderness in Utah. Others he’d like to open to commercial fishing, mining and grazing.

    But according to David Kochel, co-founder of RABA Research, its survey of Trump voters in Pennsylvania found that 90 percent of them support preserving the size and number of monuments, or creating even more.

    “The voters on the one hand support President Trump and on the other hand take a set of issues like this and say, ‘Well, that’s not exactly what I thought I was going to get or what I had in mind,'” Kochel states.

    Polling of Trump voters in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin produced similar results.

    Supporters of the president’s plan say it would help the economy by boosting industries.

    But Kochel points out that more than 70 percent of those polled have visited one or more national monuments or parks such as Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty – and they see them as symbols of national pride.

    “The ethos is very much America first,” he stresses. “We’re going to preserve our heritage, we’re going to preserve our monuments and our lands.

    “They take a lot of pride in things that are uniquely American.”

    Kochel adds that, even in these politically polarized times, support for national monuments is leading to coalitions that cut across the left-right divide.

    A report by the president’s interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, proposed reducing the size of several national monuments and opening more for commercial extraction.

    With midterm elections coming up next year, Kochel suggests this is an issue that could influence voters.

    ———–

    “PA Trump Supporters Want National Monuments Protected” by Andrea Sears; Public News Service; 11/09/2017

    “But according to David Kochel, co-founder of RABA Research, its survey of Trump voters in Pennsylvania found that 90 percent of them support preserving the size and number of monuments, or creating even more.”

    Uh oh for Zinke and Trump. 90 percent of Pennsylvania’s want national monuments protected and maybe even more created:


    “The voters on the one hand support President Trump and on the other hand take a set of issues like this and say, ‘Well, that’s not exactly what I thought I was going to get or what I had in mind,'” Kochel states.

    Polling of Trump voters in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin produced similar results.

    Yep, a lot of voters who support Trump don’t actually support his policies when they learn what they are. So when they find out what they are they’re like, “Well, that’s not exactly what I thought I was going to get or what I had in mind.”

    So it’s going to be really interesting to see how Zinke balances his national ambitions with a national queasiness about trashing letting private interests trash public lands.

    And given the current national fixation on monuments, specifically Confederate statues, it’s probably worth making it clear that pristine landscapes are profound monuments in this day and age: a monument that represents the natural bounty and the public’s willingness to leave some parts of that natural bounty untouched for future generations to enjoy too. That’s a pretty awesome monument. And the more tempting it is to open up a piece of land for commercial exploitation the greater it is as a pristine monument for future generations.

    Of course, once climate change destroys the ecosystems around the globe these kinds of monuments are going to get destroyed too. But that also makes these monuments even more valuable if climate change is set to inflict major harm. We’re guaranteed to lose a bunch of endangered habitat to climate change so a pristine natural space is an incredibly valuable investment. It’s one of the few investments that gets more valuable the more we trash it because nature is a vital resource.

    And don’t forget that one of the things Zinke is trying to do with all these proposed cuts to 30 monuments (and that will just be the beginning) is to establish in the first place the legal precedents on what presidents can do in terms of shrinking a national monument because the scale of cuts that Trump and Zinke might do is unprecedented.

    So it’s with noting there does exist one precedent for a president trying to abolish a national monument entirely and failing, but it’s an unusual case. And while Ryan Zinke didn’t propose to abolish any monuments in this first wave of reviews and proposed cuts, that’s exactly the kind of thing we should expect them to try to do at some point. The precedent is rather ironic too case given today’s fixation on Confederate statues: F.D.R wanted to abolish the Castle-Pinckney National Monument, a fort on the island of Shutes Folly in Charleston Harbor that has a long history, including being the first piece of federal property the Union army seized in the Civil War.

    Castle-Pinckney was established in 1924 by Calvin Coolidge, but by 1938 people lost interest and it was seen as not worth the expense of publicly maintaining. So F.D.R. tried to get it unlisted as a national monument, but his attorney general advised against it. An old fort is a very different kind of monument than a vast natural space but the failure to remove it from the list established the precedent.

    Adding to the irony is the fact that the national monument system was started in 1906 by Teddy Roosevelt, F.D.R.’s cousin. But perhaps the most ironic part is that Teddy set it up to stop looters. So at least there’s a precedent that should hinder Trump and Zinke from eventually abolishing a national monument entirely by presidential decree. Castle-Pinckney was eventually declare no longer a national monument, but that was done by Congress. No president has done it and the one who tried failed. So at least hopefully Zinke and Trump can’t abolish a national monument entirely thanks to F.D.R.’s attorney general:

    Time

    Could a President Get Rid of a National Monument? Here’s Why the Answer’s Complicated

    By Olivia B. Waxman
    August 24, 2017

    The power to create national monuments in the U.S. rests with the President, but the flip side of that responsibility has long been murky legal ground. Can the President unilaterally get rid of a national monument that already exists?

    The Associated Press reported on Thursday that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke had decided not to recommend that President Donald Trump eliminate any national monuments, though he would recommend that changes be made to the boundaries of some. And, though environmental advocates have promised to take the matter to the courts if Trump decides to actually shrink the monuments, that primary question about abolishing them now seems likely to remain without a solid answer for at least a while longer.

    Zinke’s landmark review of 27 national monuments constitutes the first major test of the 111-year-old Antiquities Act of 1906, the legislation that established the American system of national monuments. To ward off looters who were raiding ancient sites in the American West, it gave the President the power to set aside “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest.”

    Since then, 16 presidents have declared 157 national monuments. But the subtraction of such monuments is a much shorter history.

    Delve into any research on the extent to which presidents can shrink or abolish monuments by proclamation and it will take you back to 1938, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was considering abolishing Castle-Pinckney National Monument.

    The claim to fame of this log fort on the island of Shutes Folly in Charleston Harbor, which had been designated a national monument in 1924, was that in 1860 it had become — without the use of gunfire — the first federal property seized in a Southern state, in this case, by the South Carolina militia a week after the state’s declaration that it was seceding from the Union.

    But, by the 1930s, it had had its 15 minutes of fame. “It was in lousy shape, too expensive to restore, and didn’t have as glorious a past as Fort Sumter,” says Robert Janiskee, professor emeritus of Geography at the University of South Carolina and member of the Board of Directors of National Parks Traveler.

    And yet, Roosevelt was advised that he could not simply cull the fort from the list of national monuments. His Attorney General, Homer Cummings, wrote in 1938 that the Antiquities Act did not give the President the right to revoke the designation. According to parts of his statement quoted by a 2016 Congressional Research Service report:

    The statute does not in terms authorize the President to abolish national monuments, and no other statute containing such authority has been suggested. If the President has such authority, therefore, it exists by implication… While the President from time to time has diminished the area of national monuments established under the Antiquities Act by removing or excluding lands therefrom, under that part of the act which provides that the limits of the monuments “in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected,” it does not follow from his power so to confine that area that he has the power to abolish a monument entirely.

    In the years since, though the number of national monuments has gone up and down, especially as some of those monuments have been made National Parks, FDR’s inquiry into whether he could get rid of a monument stood as precedent. None of the presidents who followed him completely abolished a national monument by presidential proclamation.

    And yet, that was not the end of the story. Not all legal experts agree on what Cummings’ statement means. Experts such as Mark Squillace, the Director of the Natural Resources Law Center at the University of Colorado Law School and former Special Assistant to the Solicitor at the U.S. Department of the Interior in the Clinton administration, have said the Cummings opinion was legitimate and backed up by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, which specifies how public lands should be managed and preserved.

    “In 1976, Congress passed a law that was quite clear that it intended to reserve for itself the power to revoke or modify, so whatever ambiguity might have existed in the Antiquities Act itself, I think Congress cleared it up in 1976,” he says. “Part of the argument for the Antiquities Act today is that the President needs that broad authority to act quickly to protect lands that might be threatened from different kinds of development, and if the Congress doesn’t like those decisions, it can reverse them. But in fact, Congress has never done so with any significant monument.”

    But on the other hand, John Yoo, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law who worked in President George W. Bush’s administration, argues that Cummings’ recommendation was not binding and, in any case, Presidents undo what their predecessors do all of the time. “It is contrary to our constitutional designs for Presidents to be able to act unilaterally and permanently,” he says.

    That’s why John Leshy, professor emeritus at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and former Solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior in the Clinton administration, concludes that “ultimately, the courts will have to tell us” how far the President’s power goes in that case — including the power to shrink national monuments, even though that’s something that chief executives have done in the past. President Woodrow Wilson famously cut Mount Olympus National Monument in Washington State in half amid concerns that the timber was needed for World War I. In 1941, FDR lopped off about 52 acres of Wupatki National Monument in Arizona so they could be repurposed for a dam. JFK redrew the boundaries of Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico by adding 2,882 acres, but chopping off 3,925 acres from land found to contain “limited archeological values.”

    ———-

    “Could a President Get Rid of a National Monument? Here’s Why the Answer’s Complicated” by Olivia B. Waxman; Time; 08/24/2017

    “Zinke’s landmark review of 27 national monuments constitutes the first major test of the 111-year-old Antiquities Act of 1906, the legislation that established the American system of national monuments. To ward off looters who were raiding ancient sites in the American West, it gave the President the power to set aside “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest.”

    Don’t forget, national monuments came from Theodore Roosevelt’s Antiquities Act of 1906 which created the national monument system that gave presidents this power, was done to ward off looters. And it appeared to have been set up to allow presidents to protect lands in an emergency, leaving it up to Congress to reverse it. And allowing presidents to abolish a national monument is against the spirit of the law:


    “In 1976, Congress passed a law that was quite clear that it intended to reserve for itself the power to revoke or modify, so whatever ambiguity might have existed in the Antiquities Act itself, I think Congress cleared it up in 1976,” he says. “Part of the argument for the Antiquities Act today is that the President needs that broad authority to act quickly to protect lands that might be threatened from different kinds of development, and if the Congress doesn’t like those decisions, it can reverse them. But in fact, Congress has never done so with any significant monument.”

    John Yoo – of Bush torture memo fame – disagrees by making an invalid point:


    But on the other hand, John Yoo, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law who worked in President George W. Bush’s administration, argues that Cummings’ recommendation was not binding and, in any case, Presidents undo what their predecessors do all of the time. “It is contrary to our constitutional designs for Presidents to be able to act unilaterally and permanently,” he says.

    “It is contrary to our constitutional designs for Presidents to be able to act unilaterally and permanently.”

    Presidents can’t unileratally act permanently. That was John Yoo’s argument that apparently didn’t take into account Congress’s ability to abolish monuments.

    So, like most things, it will ultimately be up to the courts what Trump and Zinke can do:


    That’s why John Leshy, professor emeritus at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and former Solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior in the Clinton administration, concludes that “ultimately, the courts will have to tell us” how far the President’s power goes in that case — including the power to shrink national monuments, even though that’s something that chief executives have done in the past. President Woodrow Wilson famously cut Mount Olympus National Monument in Washington State in half amid concerns that the timber was needed for World War I. In 1941, FDR lopped off about 52 acres of Wupatki National Monument in Arizona so they could be repurposed for a dam. JFK redrew the boundaries of Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico by adding 2,882 acres, but chopping off 3,925 acres from land found to contain “limited archeological values.”

    Presidents have modified national monuments before so Trump and Zinke will clearly be able to do something legally. But since they’re almost guaranteed to push the boundaries of precedents given the contemporary GOP’s long-standing push to privatize federal lands. Unless, of course, Trump and Zinke want to avoid pissing off voters in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio. Perhaps the oddest part of it all is that we have to hope Interior Secretary Zinke has presidential ambitions. There might be some natural bounty left at the end of this nightmare.

    But it’s also worth keeping in mind that these national monuments present an opportunity to heal the urban/rural divide that politicians like Trump and Zinke like to exploit: since much of the popular support for privatizing national monument lands comes from poor local communities that need job, we shouldn’t forget that making it a national priority to find economic models that work for the poor communities around national monuments should probably be considered part of the national monument, at least in spirit. Because that’s part of how a country can maintain national monuments like wildlife areas for generation to come: ensuring the local populace is living in harmony with it, including socioeconomic harmony. If local communities need jobs, and there’s a national monument nearby that could generate jobs by trashing the national monument, that should be the time for government as employer of last resort if those communities can’t find another economic niche to fill. Preferably employing people to take care of the national monument and surrounding natural areas.

    Imagine the federal government as employer of last resort for rural in areas around national monuments. Government jobs focused on addressing unmet local needs and taking care of the national monument. The US could declare a ‘see a national monument’ day national holiday, which, itself would be part of the national monument. A national monument of the will and capacity to not trash everything in the form. With climate change coming the idea of the need to mass employ people to study the environment’s collapse isn’t unimaginable. Why not hire rural America to do that. A green rural economy that includes a vast reserve of unspoiled wildlife saved for future generations. Build a bunch of university to educate the local populace in environmental sciences and green agriculture and build a 21st century sustainable rural economy designed to prevent the collapse of the ecosystem. If we took issues like climate change as seriously as we should there would be limitless demand for people to study the environment and all the changes happening that we aren’t recording. And with government subsidies there could be a transformation of agricultural practices into sustainable ones. A national sustained rural stimulus plan focused on preventing the collapse of the ecosystem and focusing on resisting the urge to consume those remaining wild areas and leave something for the future. Let’s employ rural America to do that with lots of well paying jobs dedicated to saving life on Earth. Literally that because that’s what preventing eco-collapse involves. Saving life on Earth.

    Don’t forget, we only just learned that flying insect populations have collapsed around 75 percent over the last three decades and the reason we only just learned that it because not government on the planet has been measuring stuff like that. Maybe we should get on that. And hire people across rural America to do the world. Train them and employ them. Save the rural economy by saving the rural ecology. There are some obvious synergies with that strategy.

    And yes, a rural eco-collapse-watch-and-response stimulus plan would undoubtedly exacerbate the ‘Red State’/’Blue State’ federal dollar gap – the general pattern where wealthier urban Democrat-leaning ‘Blue’ states get back fewer dollars than they pay in to the federal government while the ‘Red’ rural states get more – because part of the plan would be to put a bunch of well paying jobs in rural areas. Good. Make it clear it’s a rural stimulus program and make it clear that urban areas are happy to pay for it. Including paying for whatever extras funds that are needed to ensure underfunded rural schools have the resources they need to generate the kind of students with the skills for a green 21st century rural economy. Ensuring the rural American economy is a mean green eco-friendly machine with plenty of well-paying jobs should be considered national priority and permanent form of stimulus. That people are happy to pay because the investments in rural America can pay dividends that go far beyond finances. Dividends like a healthy ecosystem.

    Think about how a program like that could reverberate across the economies of small town communities that have been stagnating for decades because of economic changes beyond their control. A lot of rural poverty could be addressed. And where that doesn’t happen there could be more federal rural anti-poverty programs as part of the commitment. A special Rural Green Society expansion of the Great Society the GOP is always trying to dismantle. A expansion that includes a commitment to finding ways to keep small town economies flowing when their economies collapse, with a focus on preventing eco-collapse. Just make that a regular expected part of the federal government. And it’s not like the rural communities would have to feel guilty about being dependent on the government because their economies would be focused on taking care of the vast environment of the US on everyone’s behalf. So of course this would involve a lot of public financing. Should it?

    So lets help heal the US’s poisonous rural/urban divide that the GOP has been exploiting so effectively, and let’s heal that divide by having urban America commit to a permanent stimulus program for rural American that’s focused on transforming rural America’s economy into one dedicated to healing the environment and building a sustainable and robust green rural economy. Starting with the ecosystems in and around national monuments. Future generations will probably appreciate that much more than if we don’t do that and just trash the place.

    And don’t forget, if we do end up trashing the place and leaving the future a bunch of shriveled national monuments chopped up and ravaged by climate change that’s a kind of national monument too. It’s not a good monument, but it’s a monument.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 11, 2017, 2:35 am

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