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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 [1] 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 [2] in recent [3] years [4]. 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 [5] (it might sound famil­iar if you’re in Ari­zona [6]). And the Com­mit­tee of Safe­ty was set up in mid Decem­ber to enforce those rul­ings [7]. 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 [8]. And oth­er vets are declar­ing fraud, feds, and folks about to freak out have filled the whole oper­a­tion [9].

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 [10]. That’s just how Sher­iff Ward’s past month has been going [10]:

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 [11] 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 [12]. They’re just not get­ting the kind of atten­tion [13] they set out [14] to get [15].

Still, it’s hard to argue that they haven’t received atten­tion giv­en all the nation­al news arti­cles that detail their [16] demands [17]. 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 [7], 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 [5]:

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 [18], includ­ing a retired fire chief, two ranch­ers and the pres­i­dent of the county’s Repub­li­can Par­ty [19] — 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 [20], 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” [21] 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 [22], 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 [7] 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 [23] Eric “EJ” Park­er, announced Fri­day after­noon [24] 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 offi­cials [25]Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, in par­tic­u­lar [26] — for per­ceived con­sti­tu­tion­al vio­la­tions.

McNab said [27] 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 [28] 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 [29] 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 [30]. “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 [31]. 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 [7] 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 [7]. 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 [23] Eric “EJ” Park­er, announced Fri­day after­noon [24] 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 [27] 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 [28] 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 [6] (who is now chal­leng­ing McCain in the pri­maries [32]).

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) [33]:

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 [34], Bundy cre­at­ed a web­site [35] 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 [36]:

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 [29] and his par­ents have both been threat­ened [37].

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 [38]:

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 [8]:

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) [39] 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! [40]) and one of three end­ed up get­ting suck­er punched by Blaine Coop­er [41]. 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 [42], 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 [9]:

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 [43] after argu­ing with par­tic­i­pants over bring­ing their wives and chil­dren [44] to the stand­off, and anoth­er — Bri­an “Boo­da” Cav­a­lier — left the com­pound [45] after news reports revealed he had lied [46] about serv­ing in the mil­i­tary.

A for­mer com­pa­tri­ot-turned-oppo­nent claims one of the most promi­nent mil­i­tants, Blaine Coop­er, suck­er-punched [41] 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 [47] 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 [48] 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 [49] 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 [50] — 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 [51] 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 [52] 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 [15]. 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 [53]).

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 [6]).

- 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 [54]. It cer­tain­ly has­n’t worked [55] 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 [56].

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 [57]: 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 [39].

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 [9] 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 [38] to not sup­port the Bundy Cir­cus [58]. 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. [59]

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 [60]. 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 [61], 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 [62]:

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

Jake Flana­gin
Jan­u­ary 06, 2016

A stand­off [63] 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 [64], 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 [65]).

Indeed, in a phone inter­view [66] 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 [67] 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 [68], 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 [69]]
But a sub­stan­tial amount of fed­er­al land own­er­ship is essen­tial to main­tain­ing what’s left of this country’s eco­log­i­cal integri­ty [70]—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. [71] 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 [72]), 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 [73]) 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 [74]) 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 [75].

Y’All Qae­da [73] 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”. [76] 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 [77], 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 [78], 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 [79].

So the longer this goes, the like­li­er we return to the days when Fox is swoon­ing over a Bundy rebel­lion [80]. 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.