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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

47 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 ®, 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 ® 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 ® 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
  43. And the long-await­ed result of the Bundy fam­i­ly tri­al for the 2014 Bunkerville stand­off is here: Inno­cent on all counts!

    Well, not quite. The Bundy fam­i­ly — Cliv­en and his sons Ammon and Ryan — are effec­tive­ly inno­cent on all counts because the judge ruled that fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors act­ed so egre­gious­ly that the case was thrown out. And thrown out “with prej­u­dice”, which means there can’t be a retri­al. So, some­what like the obvi­ous jury nul­li­fi­ca­tion that took place dur­ing the tri­al of Ryan and Ammon Bundy over the Mal­heur wildlife refuge, it looks like the Bundys are get­ting off on a tech­ni­cal­i­ty.

    But it’s impor­tant to note that, if indeed there was pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct, then the Bundy’s should have their case thrown out. And not just because the right to a fair tri­al is a key ele­ment of the US judi­cial sys­tem, although that alone is rea­son to throw the case out if there’s a prob­lem with the pros­e­cu­tion. But when it’s a tri­al involv­ing a group like the Bundys, who were clear­ly try­ing to spark some sort of far-right Sov­er­eign Cit­i­zen insur­rec­tion move­ment that sees the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and most of state gov­ern­ment as ille­git­i­mate, you real­ly don’t want to see a ques­tion­able con­vic­tion because that’s exact­ly what the Bundys want to hap­pen. They clear­ly want to be mar­tyrs for their cause. The sec­ond stand­off in Ore­gon made that abun­dant­ly clear. And instead, that sys­tem they were try­ing to tear down just let them off due to prob­lems with the pros­e­cu­tion. It’s a very mixed end­ing for the Bundys in that light.

    So, when you look at the Bundy stand­offs as more than just dis­putes over fed­er­al juris­dic­tion of pub­lic lands and actu­al­ly part of a much larg­er far-right move­ment that views the gov­ern­ment as ille­git­i­mate and set out to encour­age armed insur­rec­tion, it’s unclear how get­ting the case thrown out in this man­ner impacts their long-term impact. It’s hard to view the feds as the tyran­ni­cal bad guys in this case when the fed­er­al author­i­ties back down from the mili­tias’ armed threats, then take them to court, and then a judge throws out the cas­es of the ring-lead­ers on a tech­ni­cal­i­ty. Because the sys­tem that allowed the Bundys to do do all that is the sys­tem they’re try­ing to encour­age every­one to over­throw.

    Of course, it’s still a deeply con­cern­ing con­clu­sion to this case large­ly because it might encour­age more armed stand­offs. But it’s prob­a­bly not as con­cern­ing as the jury rul­ing in the Mal­heur case because that rul­ing sent the sig­nal that juries might just decide to acquit out of sym­pa­thy. In this case it sends a sig­nal that cas­es might get thrown out on a tech­ni­cal­i­ty. Which was already obvi­ous. So it’s dis­turb­ing, but it could be worse.

    So what did pros­e­cu­tors do to bring about this rul­ing? Well, it sounds like they with­held evi­dence deemed rel­e­vant to the defense. Evi­dence like infor­ma­tion on FBI snipers present dur­ing the stand­off and a 2012 fed­er­al assess­ment that con­clud­ed the Bundys did­n’t pose a threat. And while it might seem like the last bit of evi­dence about a 2012 assess­ment would have lim­it­ed util­i­ty in the defense of a 2014 armed stand­off, if it was still in the rules that the defense had a right to that evi­dence it would cer­tain­ly pose a prob­lem if it was with­held.

    Although the pros­e­cu­tion coun­tered that they thought the court’s restric­tions bar­ring self-defense argu­ments dur­ing ear­li­er stand­off tri­als this year meant his team did­n’t have to share infor­ma­tion about cer­tain aspects of the law enforce­ment response. So it will be inter­est­ing to hear the legal analy­sis of this rul­ing and its impli­ca­tions, but it’s going to be a lot more inter­est­ing to see whether or not the Bundys end up behav­ing like peo­ple who feel embold­ened after this or incred­i­bly lucky:

    The Oregonian/OregonLive

    Cliv­en Bundy stand­off case thrown out in anoth­er stun­ning blow to gov­ern­ment

    By Max­ine Bern­stein
    01/08/2018 Updat­ed 4:26 PM; Post­ed 12:21 PM

    A fed­er­al judge Mon­day threw out crim­i­nal charges against Neva­da cat­tle­man Cliv­en Bundy, his two sons and a co-defen­dant in the 2014 Bunkerville stand­off, cit­ing “fla­grant mis­con­duct” by pros­e­cu­tors and the FBI in not dis­clos­ing evi­dence to the defense before and dur­ing tri­al.

    “The gov­ern­men­t’s con­duct in this case was indeed out­ra­geous,” U.S. Dis­trict Judge Glo­ria M. Navar­ro ruled. “There has been fla­grant mis­con­duct, sub­stan­tial prej­u­dice and no less­er rem­e­dy is suf­fi­cient.”

    The judge issued her rul­ing before a packed court­room with near­ly 100 spec­ta­tors, as more than a dozen oth­er spec­ta­tors had to wait out­side the court­room doors. As Navar­ro dis­missed the case, Cliv­en Bundy’s lawyer put his arm around his client. Sup­port­ers in the pub­lic gallery held hands, wiped tears from their eyes and hugged. One looked up and whis­pered, “Thank you Lord.”

    The dis­missal with prej­u­dice, mean­ing a new tri­al can’t be pur­sued, marked an embar­rass­ing nadir for the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, which now has failed to con­vict the Bundys in two major fed­er­al cas­es stem­ming from sep­a­rate armed stand­offs.

    The sec­ond stun­ning vic­to­ry for the Bundys and their fol­low­ers may serve to bol­ster their fight against fed­er­al con­trol of pub­lic land, but it’s not clear how their move­ment has fared. The three have spent most of the last two years in jail. Ammon Bundy owes at least $180,000 in legal fees in the Ore­gon case, and he said most of his nation­al clients in his vehi­cle fleet ser­vice busi­ness left out of fear.

    After the judge’s rul­ing, the senior Bundy attempt­ed to walk out of the court­room in his blue jail garb and ankle shack­les but was blocked by deputy U.S. mar­shals. He was released soon after­wards, wear­ing a cow­boy hat, blaz­er and cow­boy boots. He took hugs and hand­shakes from sup­port­ers. His sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, have been out of cus­tody since Novem­ber, when they were allowed to leave jail to stay in pri­vate homes under GPS mon­i­tor­ing.

    “I’ve been a polit­i­cal pris­on­er for right at 700 days today,” Cliv­en Bundy said, his arm around his wife, Car­ol Bundy. “I come in this court­room an inno­cent man and I’m going to leave as an inno­cent man. My defense is a 15-sec­ond defense. I raised my cat­tle only on Clark Coun­ty, Neva­da, land and I have no con­tract with the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. This court has no juris­dic­tion and author­i­ty over this mat­ter. And I have put up with the court in Amer­i­ca as a polit­i­cal pris­on­er for two years.”

    Cliv­en Bundy turned his atten­tion to state and local author­i­ties, say­ing Nevada’s gov­er­nor, the Clark Coun­ty com­mis­sion­ers and the sher­iff were “aiders and abet­tors” and “ter­ror­ists” for fail­ing to pro­tect his fam­i­ly’s rights and lib­er­ties. He said he plans to go home and have a “good steak,” con­tin­ue to graze his cat­tle and sched­uled a news con­fer­ence Tues­day out­side the Clark Coun­ty sher­if­f’s office.

    The judge found pros­e­cu­tors engaged in a “delib­er­ate attempt to mis­lead” and made sev­er­al mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions to both the defense and the court about evi­dence relat­ing to a sur­veil­lance cam­era and snipers out­side the Bundy ranch in ear­ly April 2014, as well as threat assess­ments made in the case.

    “The court is trou­bled by the pros­e­cu­tion’s fail­ure to look beyond the FBI file,” Navar­ro said.

    She said she “seri­ous­ly ques­tions” that the FBI “inex­plic­a­bly placed” but “per­haps hid” a tac­ti­cal oper­a­tions log that referred to the pres­ence of snipers out­side the Bundy res­i­dence on a “thumb dri­ve inside a vehi­cle for three years,” when the gov­ern­ment has had four years to pre­pare the case.

    “The court has found that a uni­ver­sal sense of jus­tice has been vio­lat­ed,” Navar­ro said.

    The judge found it espe­cial­ly egre­gious that the pros­e­cu­tors chose not to share doc­u­ments that the defen­dants spe­cial­ly asked for in pre­tri­al motions, and “gross­ly shock­ing” that the pros­e­cu­tors claimed they weren’t aware the mate­r­i­al would assist the defen­dants in their defense.

    “The gov­ern­ment was well aware of the­o­ries of self defense, provo­ca­tion and intim­i­da­tion,” Navar­ro said. “Here the pros­e­cu­tion has min­i­mized the extent of pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct.”

    ...

    Ammon Bundy, hold­ing black bound copies of the Bible and the Book of Mor­mon, called his wife and said, “I’m going to go home, take care of my fam­i­ly and go to work.” He also plans to cel­e­brate his youngest child’s birth­day. The boy turned 3 on Mon­day and Bundy missed the first two birth­days while he was in cus­tody or at the Mal­heur refuge.

    He promised to keep work­ing for his cause. “I’m not done fight­ing by any means,” he said.

    For Ryan Payne, who awaits sen­tenc­ing after plead­ing guilty to fed­er­al con­spir­a­cy in the 2016 armed takeover of the refuge in south­east­ern Ore­gon, the judge’s rul­ing was “bit­ter­sweet,” said assis­tant fed­er­al pub­lic defend­er Bren­da Wek­sler. Payne was ordered to report to the U.S. Mar­shal’s office to deter­mine if he’ll be held while await­ing sen­tenc­ing in Ore­gon.

    “This pros­e­cu­tion has real­ly been a tragedy for every­one involved,” said Ryan Nor­wood, Payne’s co-coun­sel, assis­tant fed­er­al pub­lic defend­er Ryan Nor­wood. “Ryan Bundy, Cliv­en and Ammon lost two years of their lives from this.”

    Pub­lic land advo­cates fear the fum­bling of the Neva­da case, fol­low­ing the 2016 jury acquit­tals of the Bundy broth­ers and oth­ers in the armed takeover of the Mal­heur Nation­al Wildlife Refuge in Ore­gon, will buoy the Bundys’ claims of fed­er­al gov­ern­ment over­reach and embold­en mili­tias to engage in future armed stand­offs with fed­er­al offi­cers over man­age­ment of pub­lic land.

    “This is an out­rage, a total mis­car­riage of jus­tice,” said Patrick Don­nel­ly, Neva­da state direc­tor for the Cen­ter for Bio­log­i­cal Diver­si­ty, out­side the cour­t­house lat­er Mon­day. “The pros­e­cu­tion man­gled this case. It should have been a slam dunk.”

    Don­nel­ly said he thinks the dis­missal will embold­en the Bundys “fringe move­ment,” though he does­n’t think their actions have led to a huge rise in sup­port.

    “Bundy is an out­lier. This whole move­ment is an out­lier fringe move­ment,” Don­nel­ly said. “But it only takes a hand­ful.”

    Jonathan Green­blatt, chief exec­u­tive offi­cer of the Anti-Defama­tion League, decried the gov­ern­men­t’s mis­takes and pre­dict­ed future armed stand­offs as a result.

    “This case rep­re­sent­ed the last oppor­tu­ni­ty for jus­tice in this case of extrem­ists who had orga­nized in armed oppo­si­tion to the gov­ern­ment,” he said.

    The judge on Dec. 20 declared a mis­tri­al after find­ing pros­e­cu­tors with­held six types of evi­dence from defen­dants that should have been shared at least a month before the tri­al start­ed. She said then that she would con­sid­er whether to dis­miss the case out­right or allow a new tri­al.

    Cliv­en Bundy, 71, Ammon Bundy, 45, and Ryan Bundy, 42 and co-defen­dant Ryan Payne, 34, were indict­ed last year on con­spir­a­cy and oth­er alle­ga­tions, accused of ral­ly­ing mili­tia mem­bers and armed sup­port­ers to stop fed­er­al agents from impound­ing Bundy cat­tle in April 2014. Fed­er­al offi­cers and rangers were act­ing on a court order filed after Cliv­en Bundy failed to pay graz­ing fees and fines for two decades. Out­num­bered, the fed­er­al offi­cers retreat­ed and halt­ed the cat­tle impound­ment on April 12, 2014.

    The judge found the pros­e­cu­tors’ vio­la­tions were “will­ful” and led to due process vio­la­tions. She said they wait­ed too long to pro­vide FBI and oth­er agency reports and maps on sur­veil­lance, includ­ing the loca­tion of a cam­era and snipers, out­side the Bundy ranch; threat assess­ments that indi­cat­ed the Bundys weren’t vio­lent; and near­ly 500 pages of U.S. Bureau of Land Man­age­ment inter­nal affairs doc­u­ments that includ­ed paper­work indi­cat­ing that cat­tle graz­ing had­n’t threat­ened the desert tor­toise, con­sid­ered an endan­gered species.

    Late dis­clo­sures of evi­dence trick­led out just before and dur­ing the start of the tri­al “by hap­pen­stance,” defense lawyers not­ed. One gov­ern­ment wit­ness under cross-exam­i­na­tion by Ryan Bundy acknowl­edged watch­ing live-feed video images from an FBI sur­veil­lance cam­era and anoth­er ref­er­enced a 2012 FBI threat assess­ment that deter­mined the Bundys weren’t like­ly to be vio­lent. In pre­tri­al motions, Ryan Bundy request­ed evi­dence on any “mys­te­ri­ous devices” out­side the Bundy ranch in ear­ly April 2014, and Payne’s lawyers sought all threat assess­ments in July 2017, but pros­e­cu­tors did­n’t turn over the infor­ma­tion until ordered days before or dur­ing tri­al.

    Defense lawyers argued that the gov­ern­ment did­n’t “seem to rec­og­nize” or “pro­fessed igno­rance” on what con­sti­tut­ed Brady mate­r­i­al, required by the 1963 land­mark U.S. Supreme Court rul­ing in Brady v. Mary­land to be shared with the defense.

    The defense lawyers urged dis­missal, say­ing it was the only suf­fi­cient rem­e­dy for the gov­ern­men­t’s cal­lous dis­re­gard of its con­sti­tu­tion­al oblig­a­tions to share any poten­tial­ly favor­able evi­dence with the defense.

    Wek­sler, who rep­re­sents Payne, argued that pros­e­cu­tors repeat­ed­ly failed to abide by dead­lines for shar­ing dis­cov­ery evi­dence, were dis­mis­sive of spe­cif­ic requests for evi­dence, engaged in a “pat­tern to ridicule and dis­par­age the defense” requests and then made “brazen prof­fers” to the court that spe­cif­ic infor­ma­tion did­n’t exist, only to find out lat­er that they were mis­tak­en.

    “The fact that the gov­ern­ment sought to ask a jury to con­vict these defen­dants and then ask this Court to sen­tence them to prison for the rest of their lives with­out giv­ing the defense the infor­ma­tion recent­ly dis­closed should more than trou­ble this Court,” Wek­sler wrote in a recent­ly unsealed motion to dis­miss.

    Pros­e­cu­tors coun­tered that any fail­ure to pro­vide evi­dence was “inad­ver­tent” or because they rea­son­ably believed the law did­n’t require them to share the mate­r­i­al. They sought a new tri­al, argu­ing that they “nei­ther fla­grant­ly vio­lat­ed nor reck­less­ly dis­re­gard­ed” their evi­dence oblig­a­tions, but believed the mate­r­i­al they failed to share in a time­ly man­ner was­n’t rel­e­vant for the defen­dants’ defense.

    Myhre, who until last week served as Nevada’s act­ing U.S. attor­ney but is back in his ear­li­er role as first assis­tant U.S. attor­ney, wrote in a court brief that he and his col­leagues believed the court’s restric­tions bar­ring self-defense argu­ments dur­ing ear­li­er stand­off tri­als this year meant his team did­n’t have to share infor­ma­tion about cer­tain aspects of the law enforce­ment response.

    Pros­e­cu­tors and the lead FBI agents in the case qui­et­ly sat lis­ten­ing to the judge’s rul­ing Mon­day. They did not make any state­ments in court or after­wards.

    The gov­ern­ment may appeal the dis­missal. The pros­e­cu­tion team in recent weeks added a new assis­tant U.S. attor­ney, Eliz­a­beth White, the chief appel­late lawyer in the Neva­da U.S. attor­ney’s office. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jeff Ses­sions also sent an evi­dence dis­cov­ery expert to the fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors’ office in Las Vegas after the mis­tri­al to review the case.

    “We respect the Court’s rul­ing and will make a deter­mi­na­tion about the next appro­pri­ate steps,” said Nevada’s inter­im U.S. Attor­ney Dayle Elieson, in a released state­ment.

    Co-defen­dants con­vict­ed dur­ing two pri­or Bunkerville stand­off tri­als are like­ly to seek the dis­missal of their cas­es through appeals, argu­ing that they went to tri­al with­out the evi­dence that came out piece­meal dur­ing the last tri­al.

    The judge, how­ev­er, ruled this month, that the defen­dants still await­ing tri­al — Melvin Bundy, Dave Bundy, Jason Woods and Joseph O’Shaugh­nessy could not join the motion to dis­miss by Cliv­en Bundy and his sons because they failed to demon­strate how the pros­e­cu­tions’ vio­la­tions in this last tri­al harmed their rights, as dead­lines for the gov­ern­ments’ shar­ing of evi­dence has­n’t expired yet for their cas­es. The judge also Mon­day ruled that the dou­ble jeop­ardy clause does not bar a new tri­al.

    ———-
    “Cliv­en Bundy stand­off case thrown out in anoth­er stun­ning blow to gov­ern­ment” by Max­ine Bern­stein; The Oregonian/OregonLive; 01/08/2018

    “The dis­missal with prej­u­dice, mean­ing a new tri­al can’t be pur­sued, marked an embar­rass­ing nadir for the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, which now has failed to con­vict the Bundys in two major fed­er­al cas­es stem­ming from sep­a­rate armed stand­offs.”

    Dis­missal with prej­u­dice. It’s quite a con­clu­sion. And it’s a con­clu­sion that Cliv­en Bundy is clear­ly spin­ning as a vin­di­ca­tion of his Sov­er­eign Cit­i­zen-inspired views on gov­ern­ment:

    ...
    “I’ve been a polit­i­cal pris­on­er for right at 700 days today,” Cliv­en Bundy said, his arm around his wife, Car­ol Bundy. “I come in this court­room an inno­cent man and I’m going to leave as an inno­cent man. My defense is a 15-sec­ond defense. I raised my cat­tle only on Clark Coun­ty, Neva­da, land and I have no con­tract with the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. This court has no juris­dic­tion and author­i­ty over this mat­ter. And I have put up with the court in Amer­i­ca as a polit­i­cal pris­on­er for two years.”

    Cliv­en Bundy turned his atten­tion to state and local author­i­ties, say­ing Nevada’s gov­er­nor, the Clark Coun­ty com­mis­sion­ers and the sher­iff were “aiders and abet­tors” and “ter­ror­ists” for fail­ing to pro­tect his fam­i­ly’s rights and lib­er­ties. He said he plans to go home and have a “good steak,” con­tin­ue to graze his cat­tle and sched­uled a news con­fer­ence Tues­day out­side the Clark Coun­ty sher­if­f’s office.
    ...

    And Ammon Bundy declared “I’m not done fight­ing by any means”:

    ...
    Ammon Bundy, hold­ing black bound copies of the Bible and the Book of Mor­mon, called his wife and said, “I’m going to go home, take care of my fam­i­ly and go to work.” He also plans to cel­e­brate his youngest child’s birth­day. The boy turned 3 on Mon­day and Bundy missed the first two birth­days while he was in cus­tody or at the Mal­heur refuge.

    He promised to keep work­ing for his cause. “I’m not done fight­ing by any means,” he said.
    ...

    The Bundys clear­ly sound embold­ened. Does this fortell more armed stand­offs? We’ll see.

    But if they do decide to wage anoth­er armed stand­off they have to real­ize that future pros­e­cu­tors might not do the kinds of things that get the case thrown out:

    ...
    The judge found pros­e­cu­tors engaged in a “delib­er­ate attempt to mis­lead” and made sev­er­al mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions to both the defense and the court about evi­dence relat­ing to a sur­veil­lance cam­era and snipers out­side the Bundy ranch in ear­ly April 2014, as well as threat assess­ments made in the case.

    “The court is trou­bled by the pros­e­cu­tion’s fail­ure to look beyond the FBI file,” Navar­ro said.

    She said she “seri­ous­ly ques­tions” that the FBI “inex­plic­a­bly placed” but “per­haps hid” a tac­ti­cal oper­a­tions log that referred to the pres­ence of snipers out­side the Bundy res­i­dence on a “thumb dri­ve inside a vehi­cle for three years,” when the gov­ern­ment has had four years to pre­pare the case.

    “The court has found that a uni­ver­sal sense of jus­tice has been vio­lat­ed,” Navar­ro said.

    The judge found it espe­cial­ly egre­gious that the pros­e­cu­tors chose not to share doc­u­ments that the defen­dants spe­cial­ly asked for in pre­tri­al motions, and “gross­ly shock­ing” that the pros­e­cu­tors claimed they weren’t aware the mate­r­i­al would assist the defen­dants in their defense.

    “The gov­ern­ment was well aware of the­o­ries of self defense, provo­ca­tion and intim­i­da­tion,” Navar­ro said. “Here the pros­e­cu­tion has min­i­mized the extent of pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct.”

    ...

    The judge found the pros­e­cu­tors’ vio­la­tions were “will­ful” and led to due process vio­la­tions. She said they wait­ed too long to pro­vide FBI and oth­er agency reports and maps on sur­veil­lance, includ­ing the loca­tion of a cam­era and snipers, out­side the Bundy ranch; threat assess­ments that indi­cat­ed the Bundys weren’t vio­lent; and near­ly 500 pages of U.S. Bureau of Land Man­age­ment inter­nal affairs doc­u­ments that includ­ed paper­work indi­cat­ing that cat­tle graz­ing had­n’t threat­ened the desert tor­toise, con­sid­ered an endan­gered species.

    Late dis­clo­sures of evi­dence trick­led out just before and dur­ing the start of the tri­al “by hap­pen­stance,” defense lawyers not­ed. One gov­ern­ment wit­ness under cross-exam­i­na­tion by Ryan Bundy acknowl­edged watch­ing live-feed video images from an FBI sur­veil­lance cam­era and anoth­er ref­er­enced a 2012 FBI threat assess­ment that deter­mined the Bundys weren’t like­ly to be vio­lent. In pre­tri­al motions, Ryan Bundy request­ed evi­dence on any “mys­te­ri­ous devices” out­side the Bundy ranch in ear­ly April 2014, and Payne’s lawyers sought all threat assess­ments in July 2017, but pros­e­cu­tors did­n’t turn over the infor­ma­tion until ordered days before or dur­ing tri­al.

    Defense lawyers argued that the gov­ern­ment did­n’t “seem to rec­og­nize” or “pro­fessed igno­rance” on what con­sti­tut­ed Brady mate­r­i­al, required by the 1963 land­mark U.S. Supreme Court rul­ing in Brady v. Mary­land to be shared with the defense.

    The defense lawyers urged dis­missal, say­ing it was the only suf­fi­cient rem­e­dy for the gov­ern­men­t’s cal­lous dis­re­gard of its con­sti­tu­tion­al oblig­a­tions to share any poten­tial­ly favor­able evi­dence with the defense.
    ...

    “Late dis­clo­sures of evi­dence trick­led out just before and dur­ing the start of the tri­al “by hap­pen­stance,” defense lawyers not­ed.”

    That does sound like prob­lem­at­ic pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al behav­ior. Although pros­e­cu­tors saw things dif­fer­ent­ly:

    ...
    Pros­e­cu­tors coun­tered that any fail­ure to pro­vide evi­dence was “inad­ver­tent” or because they rea­son­ably believed the law did­n’t require them to share the mate­r­i­al. They sought a new tri­al, argu­ing that they “nei­ther fla­grant­ly vio­lat­ed nor reck­less­ly dis­re­gard­ed” their evi­dence oblig­a­tions, but believed the mate­r­i­al they failed to share in a time­ly man­ner was­n’t rel­e­vant for the defen­dants’ defense.

    Myhre, who until last week served as Nevada’s act­ing U.S. attor­ney but is back in his ear­li­er role as first assis­tant U.S. attor­ney, wrote in a court brief that he and his col­leagues believed the court’s restric­tions bar­ring self-defense argu­ments dur­ing ear­li­er stand­off tri­als this year meant his team did­n’t have to share infor­ma­tion about cer­tain aspects of the law enforce­ment response.

    Pros­e­cu­tors and the lead FBI agents in the case qui­et­ly sat lis­ten­ing to the judge’s rul­ing Mon­day. They did not make any state­ments in court or after­wards.
    ...

    And it’s pos­si­ble the gov­ern­ment will appeal. So this isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly over:

    ...
    The gov­ern­ment may appeal the dis­missal. The pros­e­cu­tion team in recent weeks added a new assis­tant U.S. attor­ney, Eliz­a­beth White, the chief appel­late lawyer in the Neva­da U.S. attor­ney’s office. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jeff Ses­sions also sent an evi­dence dis­cov­ery expert to the fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors’ office in Las Vegas after the mis­tri­al to review the case.

    “We respect the Court’s rul­ing and will make a deter­mi­na­tion about the next appro­pri­ate steps,” said Nevada’s inter­im U.S. Attor­ney Dayle Elieson, in a released state­ment.
    ...

    Was this all a big mis­un­der­stand­ing, where the pros­e­cu­tion legit­i­mate­ly thought they did­n’t have to turn evi­dence over? Or is this actu­al mis­con­duct that makes an appeal unap­peal­ing? We’ll see, but giv­en that Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jeff Ses­sions (or Trump) is prob­a­bly the final deci­sion-mak­er on whether or not to appeal it seems like an appeal is unlike­ly.

    So now we get to find out if the Bundy feel they’ve been ade­quate­ly mar­tyred or if more armed stand­offs are in the future.

    But anoth­er con­se­quence of this rul­ing is that that author­i­ties in future armed stand­offs of this nature might be less inclined to want to see cas­es go to tri­al, rais­ing the like­li­hood of a vio­lent res­o­lu­tion. Or per­haps not and per­haps the gov­ern­ment will be extra-inter­est­ed in see­ing future armed stand­offs end with tri­als that result in a pros­e­cu­tion. It’s an exam­ple of the ambigu­ous dynam­ic going for­ward fol­low­ing an ambigu­ous con­clu­sion to this tri­al. And that ambi­gu­i­ty is part of what adds to the ten­sion. The Bundy’s clear­ly set out to become mar­tyrs, espe­cial­ly after the Mal­heur occu­pa­tion, and now this tri­al it ends with an ambigu­ous con­clu­sion that does­n’t real­ly mar­tyr them or jus­ti­fy their cause. But they’re now free and able to do what­ev­er they want next. Ammon is already promis­ing that he’s ‘not done fight­ing’, and yet it’s unclear what that means giv­en this con­clu­sion. Are they going to keep orga­niz­ing more armed occu­pa­tions of fed­er­al lands and just keep doing that until they get their desired mar­tyr­dom? If so, they prob­a­bly aren’t going to waste much time. Cliv­en is get­ting old. So watch out out Amer­i­ca. The Bundy sit­u­a­tion is poised to get awk­ward­ly threat­en­ing again.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 8, 2018, 11:02 pm
  44. Is there a bad sit­u­a­tion the Oath Keep­ers can’t some­how make worse? It’s a sad­ly appro­pri­ate ques­tion these day. Whether it was the Oath Keep­ers show­ing up in dur­ing the Bundy stand­offs, or perch­ing as snipers on the rooftops of Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri, or even their ‘peace keep­ing’ pres­ence dur­ing the Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, “Unite the Right” neo-Nazi ral­ly, it’s hard to avoid to the con­clu­sion that the Oath Keep­ers can’t help but make a bad sit­u­a­tion worse.

    And with that in mind, behold the lat­est bad sit­u­a­tion the Oath Keep­ers just made worse:

    The Mia­mi New Times

    Armed Extrem­ist Mili­tias Want to Patrol Schools After the Park­land Shoot­ing

    Jer­ry Ian­nel­li | Feb­ru­ary 27, 2018 | 8:30am

    After the school mas­sacre in Park­land two weeks ago, Mark Cow­an, a griz­zled man in Fort Wayne, Indi­ana, began stand­ing out­side the town’s North Side High School. With a hand­gun. And an AR-15 in his car.

    As a local TV sta­tion report­ed last Fri­day, Cow­an is one of 100 heav­i­ly armed, ide­o­log­i­cal­ly extreme “Oath Keep­ers” who have com­mit­ted to “stand­ing guard” out­side Indi­ana schools to stop events like the Stone­man Dou­glas shoot­ing from hap­pen­ing. The Oath Keep­ers are a fringe right-wing para­mil­i­tary group made up of for­mer vet­er­ans and law enforce­ment offi­cers who believe in “defend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion” against per­ceived threats, which basi­cal­ly just means “gun-con­trol laws.”

    This unfor­tu­nate­ly might be a pre­view of what’s in store for our dystopi­an future: As the hate-track­ing South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter (SPLC) not­ed yes­ter­day, Oath Keep­er founder Stew­art Rhodes this week instruct­ed group mem­bers to stand watch out­side schools, and the group held a webi­nar last night encour­ag­ing mem­bers to “stand guard” out­side ran­dom schools across the nation. The group’s Flori­da chap­ter is also encour­ag­ing local mem­bers to patrol out­side schools around the Sun­shine State.

    “We will dis­cuss what you can and must do to fix this prob­lem effec­tive­ly in your com­mu­ni­ty and counter this blood­thirsty and cal­cu­lat­ed con­spir­a­cy to aid and abet mass mur­der,” the webi­na­r’s announce­ment page reads. “The time to step up and answer the call is now. And the time to dig in our heels and take a firm ‘three per­center’ type stand against any fur­ther restric­tion on our right to keep and bear arms is now.”

    The term “three per­center” refers to a dis­cred­it­ed the­o­ry that only 3 per­cent of Amer­i­ca’s pop­u­la­tion rose up to fight the British Army in the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War. The “Three Per­centers” is a sep­a­rate mili­tia close­ly aligned with Oath Keep­ers.

    Though mem­bers repeat­ed­ly deny they sup­port out­right white nation­al­ism and are instead just hard-core lib­er­tar­i­ans, the mili­tias are often allied with white suprema­cists and tend to appear at the same ral­lies and events. SPLC notes the group oper­ates on “a set of base­less con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment work­ing to destroy the lib­er­ties of Amer­i­cans” and showed up with all-white, armed groups dur­ing protests in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri, “to pro­tect white busi­ness­es against black pro­test­ers.”

    Rhodes, the group’s founder, believes immi­grants are inten­tion­al­ly cross­ing the U.S.-Mexico bor­der as part of a “Com­mu­nist sub­ver­sive inva­sion” of the Unit­ed States. He also believes Black Lives Mat­ter and immi­grant- rights groups are also part of a secret Marx­ist takeover of Amer­i­ca. Oath Keep­ers were also heav­i­ly involved in Cliv­en Bundy’s 2017 armed insur­rec­tion against the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment in the Neva­da desert.

    The groups also rose in pop­u­lar­i­ty as a reac­tion to Barack Oba­ma’s pres­i­den­cy. You’re free to guess why. In light of his polit­i­cal lean­ings, it appears Niko­las Cruz was far like­li­er to have been an Oath Keep­er sym­pa­thiz­er than an antag­o­nist.

    The Oath Keep­ers and Three Per­centers, for exam­ple, sent oper­a­tives to the Unite the Right neo-Nazi ral­ly in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, last year. Because they’re made up of fringe ex-mil­i­tary types, they seem as like­ly to fight off a per­ceived armed threat as they are to get pissed off and shoot a kid because his Lil Uzi Vert T‑shirt resem­bled Mumia Abu-Jamal. The Oath Keep­ers have repeat­ed­ly prop­a­gat­ed a claim that “all fed­er­al gun con­trol is unlaw­ful,” which is patent­ly and prov­ably false. Cow­an, the so-called guard stand­ing at North Side High in Fort Wayne, has mis­de­meanor bat­tery con­vic­tions in his past, and school reps say they don’t think his pres­ence makes any­one safer, espe­cial­ly because the cam­pus already has an offi­cial armed guard.

    “We under­stand he has a right to be out there, as he is not on our prop­er­ty,” a school dis­trict spokesper­son told the Indi­ana TV sta­tion, “but we do not believe it adds to the safe­ty of our stu­dents. At North Side, as at all of our schools, we have secu­ri­ty pro­ce­dures in place. In addi­tion, at North Side, we have armed police offi­cers in the build­ing every day.”

    It’s easy to see how the pres­ence of a ran­dom, heav­i­ly armed con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist could make a school-shoot­ing sit­u­a­tion worse. An Oath Keep­er might sprint into a school after hear­ing gun­shots and, say, rid­dle the wrong kid with rifle bul­lets. An arriv­ing SWAT team would be forced to deploy resources to appre­hend both a school shoot­er and an Oath Keep­er, because both peo­ple would be inside the school armed with weapons and it would be impos­si­ble to tell who’s shoot­ing whom or why.

    ...

    Nat­u­ral­ly, the Oath Keep­ers also sup­port Flori­da’s pro­posed plans to arm teach­ers and place armed guards in schools, which passed through com­mit­tee last night and awaits a floor vote in both cham­bers of the state Leg­is­la­ture.

    Such is the qual­i­ty of polit­i­cal dis­course in Flori­da in 2018: Rather than make it more dif­fi­cult for peo­ple like Cruz to buy AR-15 rifles, the Sun­shine State will instead train gym teach­ers with acute osteoarthri­tis how to mow down stu­dents with a Desert Eagle, while armed vets who fear a com­ing race war will stand out­side with assault rifles. Feel safer?

    ———-

    “Armed Extrem­ist Mili­tias Want to Patrol Schools After the Park­land Shoot­ing” by Jer­ry Ian­nel­li; The Mia­mi New Times.; 02/27/2018

    “As a local TV sta­tion report­ed last Fri­day, Cow­an is one of 100 heav­i­ly armed, ide­o­log­i­cal­ly extreme “Oath Keep­ers” who have com­mit­ted to “stand­ing guard” out­side Indi­ana schools to stop events like the Stone­man Dou­glas shoot­ing from hap­pen­ing. The Oath Keep­ers are a fringe right-wing para­mil­i­tary group made up of for­mer vet­er­ans and law enforce­ment offi­cers who believe in “defend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion” against per­ceived threats, which basi­cal­ly just means “gun-con­trol laws.””

    That’s right, after the school mas­sacre by a neo-Nazi for­mer stu­dent of a Park­land, Flori­da, High School, 100 heav­i­ly armed Oath Keep­ers in Indi­ana have declared their intent to “stand guard” out­side Indi­ana schools. And one heav­i­ly armed Oath Keep­er, Mark Cow­an, has already start­ed doing exact­ly that. Because some­how this is sup­posed to be help­ful. So are 99 oth­er schools in Indi­ana about to get a heav­i­ly armed Oath Keep­er vol­un­teer hang­ing around out­side?

    And this prob­a­bly isn’t going to be lim­it­ed to Indi­ana. Because Oath Keep­ers founder Stew­art Rhodes has already held a webi­nar and called for this to hap­pen cross same the nation. He also ref­er­enced the “Three Per­cent” slo­gan — that the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion just con­sist­ed of three per­cent of the colonists. It’s also the name of the “Three Per­centers” mili­tia that the Oath Keep­ers are allied with. Recall how the “Three Per­centers” showed up dur­ing the sec­ond Bundy armed stand­off in Ore­gon offer­ing to ‘keep the peace’ between the Bundy crew and law enforce­ment. Also note that the “Three Per­cent” the­o­ry does­n’t just apply to peo­ple over­throw­ing a king. It also implies that three per­cent of heav­i­ly armed crazy peo­ple could mil­i­tar­i­ly con­quer the oth­er 97 per­cent. The “three per­cent” the­o­ry is a dual use the­o­ry. It’s anoth­er rea­son why the nor­mal­iza­tion of the ide­olo­gies behind these far-right mili­tias is so alarm­ing: they’re ide­olo­gies that glo­ri­fy a heav­i­ly armed minor­i­ty seiz­ing con­trol in an armed takeover as a core Amer­i­can val­ue. That’s all part of the ide­ol­o­gy behind this move to post heav­i­ly armed far-right mili­tia mem­bers next to every school in the nation:

    ...
    This unfor­tu­nate­ly might be a pre­view of what’s in store for our dystopi­an future: As the hate-track­ing South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter (SPLC) not­ed yes­ter­day, Oath Keep­er founder Stew­art Rhodes this week instruct­ed group mem­bers to stand watch out­side schools, and the group held a webi­nar last night encour­ag­ing mem­bers to “stand guard” out­side ran­dom schools across the nation. The group’s Flori­da chap­ter is also encour­ag­ing local mem­bers to patrol out­side schools around the Sun­shine State.

    “We will dis­cuss what you can and must do to fix this prob­lem effec­tive­ly in your com­mu­ni­ty and counter this blood­thirsty and cal­cu­lat­ed con­spir­a­cy to aid and abet mass mur­der,” the webi­na­r’s announce­ment page reads. “The time to step up and answer the call is now. And the time to dig in our heels and take a firm ‘three per­center’ type stand against any fur­ther restric­tion on our right to keep and bear arms is now.”

    The term “three per­center” refers to a dis­cred­it­ed the­o­ry that only 3 per­cent of Amer­i­ca’s pop­u­la­tion rose up to fight the British Army in the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War. The “Three Per­centers” is a sep­a­rate mili­tia close­ly aligned with Oath Keep­ers.
    ...

    And this heav­i­ly armed move­ment that’s pri­mar­i­ly focused on armed com­bat with the gov­ern­ment, and now wants to pro­tect every school in Amer­i­ca with a heav­i­ly armed far-right vol­un­teer, just hap­pens to drink for the Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion/­far-right John Birch/Info Wars fire­hose of far-right con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries:

    ...
    Though mem­bers repeat­ed­ly deny they sup­port out­right white nation­al­ism and are instead just hard-core lib­er­tar­i­ans, the mili­tias are often allied with white suprema­cists and tend to appear at the same ral­lies and events. SPLC notes the group oper­ates on “a set of base­less con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment work­ing to destroy the lib­er­ties of Amer­i­cans” and showed up with all-white, armed groups dur­ing protests in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri, “to pro­tect white busi­ness­es against black pro­test­ers.”

    Rhodes, the group’s founder, believes immi­grants are inten­tion­al­ly cross­ing the U.S.-Mexico bor­der as part of a “Com­mu­nist sub­ver­sive inva­sion” of the Unit­ed States. He also believes Black Lives Mat­ter and immi­grant- rights groups are also part of a secret Marx­ist takeover of Amer­i­ca. Oath Keep­ers were also heav­i­ly involved in Cliv­en Bundy’s 2017 armed insur­rec­tion against the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment in the Neva­da desert.
    ...

    It’s a very Ser­pen­t’s Walk-ish sit­u­a­tion. Trag­i­cal­ly.

    It’s also trag­i­cal­ly tied to the Park­land shoot­ing in anoth­er way: Niko­las Cruz appears to have drunk from that fire­hose of ahis­tor­i­cal far-right con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and adopt­ed a neo-Nazi world­view and that appears to be a big part of what led him to shoot­ing up that school based on him etch­ing swastikas into the car­tridge cas­es used in the attack. Which is also very Ser­pen­t’s Walk-ish:

    ...
    The groups also rose in pop­u­lar­i­ty as a reac­tion to Barack Oba­ma’s pres­i­den­cy. You’re free to guess why. In light of his polit­i­cal lean­ings, it appears Niko­las Cruz was far like­li­er to have been an Oath Keep­er sym­pa­thiz­er than an antag­o­nist.
    ...

    So giv­en the high like­li­hood that schools and neigh­bor­hoods won’t want a heav­i­ly armed far-right indi­vid­ual hang­ing around their neigh­bor­hood schools, what does Stew­art Rhodes sug­gest his group do if their armed pres­ence isn’t want­ed? Just ignore them and do it any­way because it’s legal:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Muck­rak­er

    Oath Keep­ers Want To Sta­tion Vol­un­teer Armed Guards Out­side Schools

    By Alle­gra Kirk­land | Feb­ru­ary 26, 2018 4:13 pm

    Imag­ine if every school cam­pus in the Unit­ed States had its own vol­un­teer secu­ri­ty offi­cer: a for­mer police offi­cer or mil­i­tary vet­er­an equipped with an assault rifle.

    That’s the dream of Oath Keep­ers founder Stew­art Rhodes.

    In the wake of the Feb­ru­ary 14 mas­sacre at a Park­land, Flori­da high school, Rhodes is call­ing on mem­bers of his far-right anti-gov­ern­ment mili­tia group to serve as unpaid and unac­count­able armed school guards — whether teach­ers and stu­dents like the idea or not.

    One Indi­ana Oath Keep­er has already deployed to a local school, even though the school dis­trict says there’s no need for him to be there.

    Rhodes wants the mil­i­tary and police vet­er­ans who make up Oath Keep­ers’ mem­ber­ship to vol­un­teer for unpaid, rotat­ing shifts at schools of all lev­els, and col­leges, through­out the coun­try. He and two oth­er rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the fringe mili­tia com­mu­ni­ty will hold a webi­nar Mon­day night where they plan to encour­age Oath Keep­ers to sta­tion them­selves at schools “to pro­tect the chil­dren against mass mur­der, and to help train the teach­ers and staff.”

    “I think it’s essen­tial,” Rhodes told TPM in a Mon­day phone call. “It’s part of our respon­si­bil­i­ty to do what we can.”

    “And what we can do is be out­side of schools so that we’re clos­er if an attack hap­pens, or when one hap­pens,” Rhodes con­tin­ued. “We’ll be there to be a fast response.”

    Oath Keep­ers came to promi­nence as part of the surge of right-wing extrem­ism that marked the ear­ly years of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. At the group’s core are efforts to stoke fear around out­landish con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries — that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment will dis­arm all cit­i­zens, impose mar­tial law, and round Amer­i­cans up into deten­tion camps, among oth­er sce­nar­ios.

    Rhodes, a Yale Law School grad­u­ate, has referred to Hillary Clin­ton as “Herr Hitlery,” and “the dom­i­na­trix-in-chief,” and has said John McCain should be tried for trea­son and then “hung by the neck until dead.”

    The group’s push for vig­i­lante school secu­ri­ty offi­cers comes in the midst of a fraught nation­al debate over how to curb school shoot­ings like the one in Park­land that left 14 stu­dents and 3 staffers dead. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, the NRA and some GOP law­mak­ers all have sug­gest­ed arm­ing teach­ers who have firearms train­ing, as a way to deter would-be school shoot­ers — an idea Rhodes said he sup­ports. But since train­ing teach­ers will take time, he argues, it makes sense to use Oath Keep­ers vol­un­teers in the inter­im.

    The Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of School Resource Offi­cers and many school shoot­ing sur­vivors, includ­ing those from Park­land, stren­u­ous­ly oppose plans to arm teach­ers. Teach­ers may not feel safe wield­ing arms; stu­dents could get ahold of the weapons or get caught in cross­fire; law enforce­ment could mis­take an armed teacher or oth­er non-uni­formed school staffer for an assailant. The prospect of some­thing going wrong seems even high­er with non-vet­ted, non-pro­fes­sion­al mem­bers of a con­spir­a­to­r­i­al mili­tia group vol­un­teer­ing ser­vices that schools did not ask for.

    Rhodes’ response? “Tough.”

    “If they don’t like it, too bad,” Rhodes said. “We’re not there to make peo­ple feel warm and fuzzy; we’re there to stop mur­ders.”

    “What I tell our peo­ple is don’t ask for per­mis­sion,” Rhodes con­tin­ued. “Let ‘em know what you’re doing and be as friend­ly as you can. But this is the real­i­ty we’re in right now.”

    “Most schools have this retard­ed no-guns pol­i­cy,” Rhodes added, call­ing such mea­sures, “‘Alice in Won­der­land,’ upside-down think­ing.”

    To avoid con­fu­sion, mem­bers will be asked to wear a “long-range iden­ti­fi­er” like a sash or orange vest, as well as a “close-range iden­ti­fi­er” one that copy­cats can­not imi­tate, Rhodes said. Before show­ing up, they’ll be asked to pro­vide police with copies of their dri­vers’ licens­es, descrip­tions of their out­fits and descrip­tions of their vehi­cles and license plates.

    Mark Cow­an, an Indi­ana-based mem­ber of the Oath Keep­ers and an Army vet­er­an, has since Fri­day post­ed him­self out­side North Side High School in Fort Wayne, wear­ing an Oath Keep­ers base­ball hat and car­ry­ing a hand­gun and an AR-15.

    “If some­body comes to this school or anoth­er school where we’re at, that school shoot­er is going to know, we’re not going to play games,” Cow­an told local sta­tion WPTA. “You come to kill our kids, you’re dead.”

    In oth­er inter­views with local media, Cow­an has said he is com­ply­ing with state law by park­ing his car just off of school grounds, and that he plans to remain there until the school, which already has an armed resource offi­cer, intro­duces addi­tion­al safe­ty mea­sures.

    ...

    Accord­ing to local news reports, Cow­an was arrest­ed last year in con­nec­tion with a fight that involved his use of a dead­ly weapon, and plead­ed guilty plea to a count of mis­de­meanor bat­tery. He told WPTA that the inci­dent involved his effort to pro­tect two of his grand­chil­dren, who were attacked by anoth­er man. The guilty plea does not pre­vent him from car­ry­ing a firearm under Indi­ana law.

    TPM was not imme­di­ate­ly able to reach Cow­an. But Bryan Humes, a spokesper­son for the Oath Keep­ers’ Indi­ana chap­ter, told TPM in a Mon­day phone call that Cow­an is serv­ing as “anoth­er set of eyes and ears” for North Side, which has some 1,800 stu­dents, and that oth­er mem­bers of the group are inter­est­ed in tak­ing up sim­i­lar posts.

    “We’re just a lit­tle con­cerned that one offi­cer, with the size of the build­ing and the num­ber of peo­ple, may not quite be ade­quate as far as being able to keep an eye on every­thing,” Humes said.

    “He had a cou­ple of stu­dents Fri­day come out from school dur­ing class and thank him for being out there,” Humes added. “He’s also had a cou­ple of the local police and sheriff’s offi­cers stop by and thank him for being out there.”

    Cap­tain Steve Stone of the Allen Coun­ty Sheriff’s Depart­ment told TPM that Cow­an noti­fied him he would be sta­tioned out­side of North Side, and that he per­son­al­ly spread the mes­sage to the rest of the depart­ment. Stone declined to offer the department’s stance on the Oath Keep­ers’ pres­ence, not­ing that Cow­an is “not break­ing the law.”

    “I can’t speak on behalf of the depart­ment on the department’s view of hav­ing civil­ians like the Oath Keep­ers doing that, unfor­tu­nate­ly,” Stone said, say­ing Sher­iff David Glad­ieux was unavail­able. “I can’t give you my per­son­al opin­ion on whether it’s good or not.”

    ———-

    “Oath Keep­ers Want To Sta­tion Vol­un­teer Armed Guards Out­side Schools” by Alle­gra Kirk­land; Talk­ing Points Memo; 02/26/2018

    “Imag­ine if every school cam­pus in the Unit­ed States had its own vol­un­teer secu­ri­ty offi­cer: a for­mer police offi­cer or mil­i­tary vet­er­an equipped with an assault rifle.”

    Yes, imag­ine if every school cam­pus in the Unit­ed States had its own ‘vol­un­teer secu­ri­ty offi­cer’. A heav­i­ly armed guy that just shows up ‘look­ing out for trou­ble’:

    ...
    Rhodes’ response? “Tough.”

    “If they don’t like it, too bad,” Rhodes said. “We’re not there to make peo­ple feel warm and fuzzy; we’re there to stop mur­ders.”

    “What I tell our peo­ple is don’t ask for per­mis­sion,” Rhodes con­tin­ued. “Let ‘em know what you’re doing and be as friend­ly as you can. But this is the real­i­ty we’re in right now.”

    “Most schools have this retard­ed no-guns pol­i­cy,” Rhodes added, call­ing such mea­sures, “‘Alice in Won­der­land,’ upside-down think­ing.”
    ...

    The pol­i­cy against heav­i­ly armed peo­ple around schools is “‘Alice in Won­der­land,’ upside-down think­ing.” Accord­ing to the head of the Oath Keep­ers who is call­ing for this every­where whether you like it or not.

    So that’s one of the ways the far-right is tak­ing advan­tage of mass shoot­ings: using them as an excuse to make the mili­tias part of the local law enforce­ment. And not just mili­tias. It would be all sorts of ran­dom local peo­ple with rifles if this was wide­ly adopt­ed. Heav­i­ly armed peo­ple could become the new law enforce­ment. That’s the mod­el being nor­mal­ized.

    It’s a reminder that the anti-gov­ern­ment stance of the ‘Sov­er­eign Cit­i­zen’ world­view adopt­ed by the Oath Keep­ers, Bundys, and much of the rest of the mili­tia move­ment implic­it­ly includes a takeover of the gov­ern­ment pow­ers by armed ‘sov­er­eign cit­i­zens’. That’s the new gov­ern­ment after the mili­tia rev­o­lu­tion. Heav­i­ly armed real­ly right-wing peo­ple. At least that’s the sales pitch. It would like­ly be a heav­i­ly cen­tral­ized fas­cist nation­al gov­ern­ment. But it would involved a lot of heav­i­ly armed far-right guys ‘look­ing out for trou­ble’ local­ly. That’s what an armed white nation­al­ist takeover would result in. Heav­i­ly armed guys just hang­ing around ‘look­ing out for trou­ble’ as the local com­po­nent of a mil­i­ta­rized police state.

    Except they would­n’t just be hang­ing out look­ing for trou­ble if there was an armed far-right takeover. They would be abus­ing that pow­er with impuni­ty. And that points towards anoth­er dan­ger asso­ci­at­ed with the move to put armed mili­tia mem­bers out­side schools: not only is it con­di­tion­ing kids to the pres­ence of heav­i­ly armed mili­tia guys, it’s also giv­ing a high­ly inac­cu­rate impres­sion of what it would be like if the mili­tias real­ly took con­trol. They would­n’t be just hang­ing out look­ing out for trou­ble. They would be the trou­ble. And in con­trol.

    And since this whole ‘mili­tias in schools’ dri­ve is tak­ing place in the mid­dle of the lat­est round of the US gun con­trol debate, it’s worth not­ing that there’s hard­ly a bet­ter exam­ple of the need for gun con­trol than groups like the Oath Keep­ers. In terms of threats to soci­ety posed by guns, heav­i­ly armed move­ments con­sist­ing of ran­dom real­ly right-wing guys and out­right neo-Nazis ded­i­cat­ed to armed con­flict against the gov­ern­ment is a pret­ty big threat to soci­ety. And when they uni­lat­er­al­ly decid­ed to start ‘guard­ing schools’, whether the school likes it or not, they are an even greater threat to soci­ety. Because they are con­di­tion­ing chil­dren to accept ran­dom mili­tias as a kind of par­al­lel law enforce­ment.

    There’s a dif­fer­ent form of God­win’s Law for gun con­trol: The clos­er some­one is to a Nazi, the greater a valid argu­ment they are for gun con­trol. And the Oath Keep­ers are at least in the ‘palling around with Nazis’ cat­e­go­ry. It’s a reminder that if your soci­ety is going to have a lot of gun, it needs very effect Nazi con­trol. And gen­er­al vio­lent orga­nized extrem­ist con­trol and able to resist against any group that might decide to sud­den­ly wage war on the rest of soci­ety. It’s the flip side of the con­cern about the oppres­sive gov­ern­ment. There’s also the oppres­sive rebel­lion, and that its exact­ly what the move­ment behind the Oath Keep­ers rep­re­sents. An oppres­sive rebel­lion that would impose a Hand­maid­’s tale future on Amer­i­ca giv­en the chance. A well armed soci­ety is a soci­ety that needs effec­tive vio­lent ide­o­log­i­cal orga­nized extrem­ism con­trol. Because there are a lot of vio­lent extrem­ist ide­olo­gies. It’s one of the prob­lems with human­i­ty.

    So what con­sti­tutes effec­tive vio­lent extrem­ist con­trol that a gun-sat­u­rat­ed US could imple­ment? That’s a good ques­tion. And an extreme­ly dif­fi­cult ques­tion that would entail a mul­ti­fac­eted answer. Because it’s the answer to the gen­er­al ques­tion of how we can effec­tive­ly com­bat right-wing vio­lent ide­olo­gies — the under­ly­ing com­mon theme whether they’re neo-Nazis or Islam­ic ter­ror­ists — and that answer isn’t obvi­ous. But one obvi­ous part of answer­ing that ques­tion is mak­ing it clear in the US gun debate that if the US is going to remain a soci­ety filled with guns, it needs to find effec­tive ways to com­bat far-right vio­lent extrem­ist thought. And cru­cial ele­ment of doing that is a high qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion. Because if there’s one thing almost all far-right ide­olo­gies have in com­mon it’s a foun­da­tion­al world­view built on a bed of self-serv­ing myths and out­right fab­ri­ca­tions.

    So if the US wants safer schools, ensur­ing that all schools have the ade­quate resources need­ed to ensure that every kid gets a high qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion — espe­cial­ly an edu­ca­tion in civics, 20th cen­tu­ry his­to­ry, and the dan­gers fas­cist and far-right move­ments pose to the Amer­i­can exper­i­ment — is a key long-term ele­ment of that dif­fi­cult task.

    Oppo­nents of gun con­trol laws often point towards “men­tal health” as the area to focus on. Gun con­trol via pre­emp­tive­ly con­trol­ling out of con­trol minds. And the men­tal health angle cer­tain­ly needs to be part of the over­all approach. But a cru­cial part of address­ing that men­tal health angle is giv­ing the next gen­er­a­tion the edu­ca­tion­al per­spec­tive they need to avoid suc­cumb­ing to far-right thought and decep­tions.

    And the edu­ca­tion­al back­ground Amer­i­ca has to pro­vide to its kids has to be so high qual­i­ty that even stu­dents who devel­op men­tal health issues that make them prone to anger and vio­lence will be much less like­ly to suc­cumb to far-right ide­olo­gies. Because as we see over and over and over with these mass shoot­ings, far-right ide­olo­gies and men­tal­ly unsta­ble peo­ple prone to anger and vio­lence are a bad mix, espe­cial­ly with easy access to guns. We don’t expect to see a bunch of bronies going on shoot­ing sprees (although it’s pos­si­ble). We expect to see unsta­ble peo­ple prone to anger and vio­lence who fall under the influ­ence of neo-Nazi pro­pa­gan­da go on shoot­ing sprees. Because that’s what we see. Over and over. There are excep­tions, but the rule is a men­tal­ly unsta­ble per­son prone to anger and vio­lence who also fell under the sway of far-right thought.

    How can Amer­i­can pro­vide that kind of high qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion to every­one kid? Good ques­tion, and a ques­tion that should be a major part of the gun con­trol debate if Amer­i­ca is going to remain sat­u­rat­ed in guns and just focus on ‘men­tal health’. As unhelp­ful as the the Oath Keep­ers’ antics may be, they have at least for­tu­nate­ly made it much eas­i­er to make the point that coun­ter­ing extrem­ist move­ments is a key ele­ment of liv­ing with guns. So that’s at least one way the Oath Keep­ers have made a bad sit­u­a­tion bet­ter.

    It’s also worth not­ing that, while the Oath Keep­er mem­bers are promi­nent exam­ples of the kind of peo­ple who prob­a­bly should­n’t own guns because they might do some­thing real­ly crazy with them, there are far more promi­nent exam­ples. The most promi­nent in one case.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 4, 2018, 2:44 am
  45. Oh look, Pres­i­dent Trump issued some more par­dons for anoth­er far right polit­i­cal cause célèbres. Because par­don­ing Scoot­er Lib­by, Joe Arpaio and Dinesh D’Souza was­n’t enough appar­ent­ly. It’s the sixth and sev­enth par­dons issued by Trump and the first that were issued from peo­ple who direct­ly appealed to Trump for clemen­cy.

    So who is the lucky new polit­i­cal patron­age par­don recip­i­ents who appealed to Trump for clemen­cy and received it? Dwight Ham­mond Jr. and his son Steven, the ranch­ers whose legal trou­bles formed the pre­text for the Bundy-led armed stand­off at Mal­heur Nation­al Wildlife Refuge. And they got more than the clemen­cy they request­ed. Trump issued full par­dons:

    USA TODAY

    Pres­i­dent Trump par­dons Ore­gon cat­tle ranch­ers whose case inspired takeover of wildlife refuge

    Gre­go­ry Korte,
    Pub­lished 11:36 a.m. ET July 10, 2018 | Updat­ed 8:32 a.m. ET July 12, 2018

    Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Tues­day par­doned father-and-son cat­tle ranch­ers serv­ing prison time for arson, a case that helped inspire the armed occu­pa­tion of a fed­er­al wildlife refuge in 2016.

    Dwight Ham­mond Jr. and his son, Steven, were con­vict­ed of start­ing two fires in 2001 and 2006 that dam­aged fed­er­al lands. The White House said Tues­day that the evi­dence against them was “con­flict­ing” and the jury acquit­ted them on most of the charges.

    The Ham­monds were ini­tial­ly giv­en sen­tences of three months to a year. Trump blamed the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion for fil­ing an “overzeal­ous appeal” because the judge’s sen­tence was too lenient under fed­er­al sen­tenc­ing guide­lines. That appeal sent the Ham­monds back to prison.

    The Ham­mond case was a ral­ly­ing cry for the “sov­er­eign cit­i­zen” move­ment, which is sup­port­ed by some West­ern ranch­ers who oppose fed­er­al con­trol of graz­ing lands. Ammon Bundy, son of Cliv­en Bundy, one of the lead­ers of the move­ment, cit­ed it in his occu­pa­tion of the Mal­heur Nation­al Wildlife Refuge in 2016.

    “Jus­tice is over­due for Dwight and Steven Ham­mond, both of whom are entire­ly deserv­ing of these grants of exec­u­tive clemen­cy,” White House spokes­woman Sarah Sanders said in a state­ment.

    ...

    “The Ham­monds are devot­ed fam­i­ly men, respect­ed con­trib­u­tors to their local com­mu­ni­ty and have wide­spread sup­port from their neigh­bors, local law enforce­ment and farm­ers and ranch­ers across the West,” Sanders said.

    They are the sixth and sev­enth par­dons Trump has grant­ed dur­ing his pres­i­den­cy – but the first grant­ed to peti­tion­ers who applied for clemen­cy to the Office of the Par­don Attor­ney. Trump’s pre­vi­ous five par­dons bypassed that process.

    The Ham­monds sought only a com­mu­ta­tion of their prison sen­tences to allow them to be released ear­ly. Dwight Ham­mond is 76 and Steven is 49.

    Instead, Trump gave them each a full par­don, restor­ing all their civ­il rights.

    ———-

    “Pres­i­dent Trump par­dons Ore­gon cat­tle ranch­ers whose case inspired takeover of wildlife refuge” by Gre­go­ry Korte; USA TODAY; 07/10/2018

    The Ham­mond case was a ral­ly­ing cry for the “sov­er­eign cit­i­zen” move­ment, which is sup­port­ed by some West­ern ranch­ers who oppose fed­er­al con­trol of graz­ing lands. Ammon Bundy, son of Cliv­en Bundy, one of the lead­ers of the move­ment, cit­ed it in his occu­pa­tion of the Mal­heur Nation­al Wildlife Refuge in 2016.”

    It’s anoth­er sym­bol­ic win for the sov­er­eign cit­i­zens, this time thanks to the White House:

    ...
    Dwight Ham­mond Jr. and his son, Steven, were con­vict­ed of start­ing two fires in 2001 and 2006 that dam­aged fed­er­al lands. The White House said Tues­day that the evi­dence against them was “con­flict­ing” and the jury acquit­ted them on most of the charges.

    The Ham­monds were ini­tial­ly giv­en sen­tences of three months to a year. Trump blamed the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion for fil­ing an “overzeal­ous appeal” because the judge’s sen­tence was too lenient under fed­er­al sen­tenc­ing guide­lines. That appeal sent the Ham­monds back to prison.

    ...

    “Jus­tice is over­due for Dwight and Steven Ham­mond, both of whom are entire­ly deserv­ing of these grants of exec­u­tive clemen­cy,” White House spokes­woman Sarah Sanders said in a state­ment.

    ...

    “The Ham­monds are devot­ed fam­i­ly men, respect­ed con­trib­u­tors to their local com­mu­ni­ty and have wide­spread sup­port from their neigh­bors, local law enforce­ment and farm­ers and ranch­ers across the West,” Sanders said.
    ...

    And it was the first set of par­dons issued by Trump grant­ed to peo­ple who actu­al­ly peti­tioned for clemen­cy:

    ...
    They are the sixth and sev­enth par­dons Trump has grant­ed dur­ing his pres­i­den­cy – but the first grant­ed to peti­tion­ers who applied for clemen­cy to the Office of the Par­don Attor­ney. Trump’s pre­vi­ous five par­dons bypassed that process.

    The Ham­monds sought only a com­mu­ta­tion of their prison sen­tences to allow them to be released ear­ly. Dwight Ham­mond is 76 and Steven is 49.

    Instead, Trump gave them each a full par­don, restor­ing all their civ­il rights.

    So the ranch­ers whose jail­ing became a ral­ly­ing cry for the sov­er­eign move­ment, a move­ment that does­n’t rec­og­nize the valid­i­ty of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, just got par­doned by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. Much like the acquit­tal of the Bundys for both the armed stand­offs in Ore­gon and Neva­da.

    Although, in fair­ness to the Ham­monds, while they have a long his­to­ry of con­flict with the BLM, they weren’t actu­al­ly sup­port­ive of the armed stand­off and don’t, them­selves, appear to be sov­er­eign cit­i­zens. The under­ly­ing crime fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors charged the Ham­monds with was alleged­ly light­ing a fire to cov­er up for ille­gal poach­ing of deer on fed­er­al land and hav­ing that fire spi­ral out of con­trol and put the fire­fight­ers’ lives at risk when they had to be air­lift­ed out. Which is very dif­fer­ent from the Bundy-led armed stand­off which was part of a broad­er push to dele­git­imize the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. So this par­don is not in the same cat­e­go­ry as the Bundys repeat­ed­ly acquit­tal. But it’s still a big sym­bol­ic gift to the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen and ‘patri­ot’ anti-gov­ern­ment move­ments.

    So was this par­don just the lat­est polit­i­cal­ly charged par­don select­ed by Pres­i­dent Trump as part of his par­don-o-rama? Well, as the fol­low­ing impor­tant Buz­zFeed piece makes clear, the Ham­monds had one of the most pow­er­ful allies they could have hoped for fight­ing for their par­don. An ally so pow­er­ful that it’s basi­cal­ly craft­ing the agri­cul­tur­al poli­cies for the Trump admin­is­tra­tion at this point: the Pro­tect the Har­vest pro­pa­gan­da out­fit found­ed by For­rest Lucas of Lucas Oil.

    Pro­tect the Har­vest is a lob­by­ing enti­ty ded­i­cat­ed to pro­mot­ing a Koch-broth­ers-style pol­i­cy agen­da that guts almost all agri­cul­ture and land use laws and frames it as pro­tect­ing a ‘tra­di­tion­al rur­al lifestyle’. In oth­er words, it’s a a typ­i­cal pro-oli­garch bait-and-switch pro­pa­gan­da out­fit spe­cial­iz­ing in agri­cul­ture and land use dereg­u­la­tion and cham­pi­oning the Ham­monds has become part of how Pro­tect the Har­vest is pro­mot­ing its ‘pop­ulist’ brand. Because as the fol­low­ing arti­cle makes clear, while Pro­tect the Har­vest may not have open­ly embrace the Bundy’s armed stand­off, the group is large­ly sup­port­ive their cause, along with the gen­er­al cause of see­ing almost all fed­er­al reg­u­la­tions elim­i­nat­ed and any­thing that stands in the way of Big Ag get­ting big­ger and more prof­itable.

    But it gets more dis­turb­ing: it turns out Lucas, and, in turn, Pro­tect the Har­vest, have a pet issue: ani­mal wel­fare advo­cates. In par­tic­u­lar, the US Humane Soci­ety. They real­ly hate the humane soci­ety. And anti-‘puppy mill’ laws. They real­ly, real­ly hate anti-pup­py mill laws. So much so that Pro­tect the Har­vest’s movie stu­dio has pro­duced an entire movie where the plot is about an anti-pup­py mill activist who learns that the activists them­selves are the real dan­ger to pup­pies. And, yes, Pro­tect the Har­vest has its own movie stu­dio ded­i­cates to pump­ing out movies that make ani­mal rights activ­i­ties look like ter­ror­ists. ‘Pro­tect­ing the har­vest’ appar­ent­ly involves pro­tect­ing pup­py mills. And this pro-pup­py mill enti­ty, Pro­tect the Har­vest, was the dri­ving force behind par­don­ing the Ham­monds and much of US agri­cul­ture and land use pol­i­cy for the Trump White House. Again, the Ham­monds has pret­ty much the most valu­able advo­cates they could have had:

    Buz­zFeed

    Meet The Man — And Pro­pa­gan­da Machine — Behind Trump’s Lat­est Par­don

    How For­rest Lucas — the lit­tle-known mil­lion­aire whose com­pa­ny name is plas­tered on the home sta­di­um of the Indi­anapo­lis Colts — wields pow­er, pro­pa­gan­da, and even Sharon Stone to pro­tect Big Agri­cul­ture.

    By Anne Helen Petersen (Buz­zFeed News Reporter) Ken Bensinger (Buz­zFeed News Reporter) Sal­vador Her­nan­dez (Buz­zFeed News Reporter)
    Post­ed on July 11, 2018, at 7:05 p.m.

    The last call Ore­gon ranch­er Dwight Ham­mond Jr. made before head­ing to fed­er­al prison on two counts of arson in 2016 was to a man he hard­ly knew. For­rest Lucas, who made his for­tune on oil engine addi­tives, promised Ham­mond that he would do what­ev­er he could to get him and his son, Steven, out of prison.

    Ear­ly Tues­day morn­ing aboard Air Force One, en route to the NATO sum­mit, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signed an offi­cial clemen­cy order par­don­ing the two men. Lucas — a 76-year-old Indi­ana self-made mil­lion­aire with tight ties to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion — had ful­filled his pledge.

    For near­ly two decades, the Ham­monds had been engaged in skir­mish­es with the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment, an agency that func­tions as a go-between for ranch­ers and the fed­er­al land they lease for graz­ing. They pushed back, often threat­en­ing­ly, on reg­u­la­tions regard­ing the Mal­heur Wildlife Refuge, which bor­dered the Ham­monds’ graz­ing allot­ment, and they set unper­mit­ted fires on BLM land. After a sec­ond fire in 2006, the pair were charged with 19 dif­fer­ent crimes, but even­tu­al­ly arranged a plea deal for just two charges of arson on fed­er­al land, which car­ried a min­i­mum of a five-year sen­tence. The judge declared that such lengthy jail time qual­i­fied as cru­el and unusu­al pun­ish­ment, instead sen­tenc­ing Dwight to three months and Steven to one year and one day. The pair served their time and returned home. But the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment suc­cess­ful­ly appealed the sen­tence, and on Jan. 4, 2016, the Ham­monds were ordered to return to prison.

    The ver­dict brought Ammon and Ryan Bundy — who, along with their father, Cliv­en, had been involved in an armed con­fronta­tion with BLM offi­cials over the man­age­ment of their graz­ing allot­ment in Neva­da — to East­ern Ore­gon. On Jan. 2, Ammon led sev­er­al hun­dred peo­ple on a peace­ful march through Burns, Ore­gon, in sup­port of the Ham­monds. At the end of the march, he made a dec­la­ra­tion: Who­ev­er want­ed to take a “hard stand” against the gov­ern­ment should fol­low him — thus launch­ing what would become the 41-day armed stand­off at the Mal­heur Wildlife Refuge.

    The Ham­monds, how­ev­er, weren’t there. Nor did they con­done what the Bundys and oth­ers had done in their name. When the occu­pa­tion began, they were back on their ranch with Dave Duquette, Lucas’s close asso­ciate. When the Ham­monds flew back to a hero’s wel­come in Burns, Ore­gon, it was aboard Lucas’s pri­vate jet. Lucas, whose com­pa­ny, Lucas Oil, cur­rent­ly holds nam­ing rights for the Indi­anapo­lis Colts’ sta­di­um, has made a pro-agri­cul­ture, anti-reg­u­la­tion agen­da his mis­sion over the past eight years — and had decid­ed that the Ham­monds fit into his larg­er mas­ter plan.

    To achieve his goals, Lucas has used a non­prof­it he found­ed, Pro­tect the Har­vest — devot­ed to “work­ing to pro­tect your right to hunt, fish, farm, eat meat, and own pets” — as well as his close ties to Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, Inte­ri­or Sec­re­tary Ryan Zinke, and Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Son­ny Per­due, whose top advis­er is a for­mer employ­ee of Lucas’s. As Duquette puts it, “the access is very good.”

    “Most peo­ple wouldn’t get involved,” Duquette told Buz­zFeed News in ear­ly June. “But thank god for For­rest Lucas, because he’s been will­ing to take on the hard issues.” Among those hard issues: fight­ing envi­ron­men­tal activists, push­ing back against reg­u­la­tion, and pro­tect­ing farm­ers and ranch­ers from what they see as fed­er­al over­reach. That’s why Lucas grew inter­est­ed in the Ham­monds in the first place. “We’re all about afford­able food and land use and per­son­al rights,” Duquette explained. The Ham­mond case “inter­sects per­fect­ly with the Pro­tect the Har­vest mis­sion.”

    Pro­tect the Har­vest has built a pos­i­tive rap­port with the ag com­mu­ni­ty by spon­sor­ing schol­ar­ships and race­tracks and film fes­ti­vals. But the non­prof­it has also ben­e­fit­ed by inflam­ing the community’s anx­i­eties that a time-hon­ored way of life is com­ing to an end — while elid­ing the fact that its own lob­by­ing on behalf of cor­po­ra­tions and against reg­u­la­tions has has­tened the destruc­tion of that lifestyle.

    For those active in the agri­cul­tur­al world, Lucas has pri­mar­i­ly been known for his strong stance on ani­mal reg­u­la­tion, active­ly oppos­ing attempts to lim­it or mon­i­tor mis­treat­ment of pets and live­stock with laws that would, for exam­ple, estab­lish min­i­mum spac­ing for hen cages or veal calf pens, crack down on pup­py mills, or pre­vent inten­tion­al muti­la­tion of Ten­nessee walk­ing hors­es. A par­tic­u­lar tar­get of his efforts has been the Humane Soci­ety of the Unit­ed States — the nation­al orga­ni­za­tion that has spear­head­ed the vast major­i­ty of ini­tia­tives relat­ed to ani­mal reg­u­la­tion, and which Lucas has referred to as “ter­ror­ists.”

    But Lucas’s agen­da is hard­ly lim­it­ed to cage sizes and pup­py mills, as reflect­ed by his sup­port of the Ham­monds and, by exten­sion, the Bundys and oth­ers opposed to fed­er­al con­trol of pub­lic lands. And to get what he wants, Lucas has employed a high­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed lob­by­ing and mes­sag­ing machine, which does every­thing from fund­ing oppo­si­tion to munic­i­pal spay­ing and neu­ter­ing ordi­nances to orches­trat­ing “range rights” con­fer­ences, streamed live on Face­book to an audi­ence of thou­sands.

    Pro­tect the Har­vest has spent mil­lions pro­duc­ing web videos and memes that spread across the dozens of Bundy-adja­cent Face­book pages that have popped up in the last decade. It also focus­es on mes­sag­ing to chil­dren: There are anti-reg­u­la­to­ry Pro­tect the Har­vest col­or­ing activ­i­ty sheets, and a pro-ag Pro­tect the Harvest–branded teach­ing cur­ricu­lum avail­able for down­load on their web­site. In 2015, Lucas began pro­duc­ing fea­ture-length films — star­ring Hol­ly­wood actors like Sharon Stone, Jon Voight, and Jane Sey­mour — to pro­mote his strong­ly anti-reg­u­la­tion agen­da.

    Lucas’s film and tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion stu­dio, the Coro­na, California–based ESX Enter­tain­ment, cur­rent­ly has five films in pro­duc­tion — includ­ing Stand at Pax­ton Coun­ty described as the sto­ry of a ranch­er and his daugh­ter who “face off against state and local author­i­ties who by ques­tion­able means relieve local ranch­ers of their live­stock and way of life.”

    After Trump took office, Lucas made the short list of poten­tial appointees for inte­ri­or sec­re­tary. Although Mon­tana Rep. Ryan Zinke ulti­mate­ly got the job, he has pro­vid­ed an open door to both Lucas and Pro­tect the Har­vest. Mean­while, Bri­an Klip­pen­stein, who is still list­ed as PTH’s exec­u­tive direc­tor, now works as senior advis­er to Per­due. Pence’s vice pres­i­den­cy has been a boon for Lucas, who, accord­ing to a Pro­tect the Har­vest spokesper­son, has been friends with Lucas since before he took the office of Indi­ana gov­er­nor.

    In addi­tion to Lucas’s own role as one of Trump’s agri­cul­tur­al advis­ers, pub­lic records indi­cate that Lucas met with Zinke in April 2017 to dis­cuss wild hors­es, graz­ing access issues, and nation­al mon­u­ment des­ig­na­tions. In Octo­ber, when Pence flew to attend an Indi­anapo­lis Colts game, abrupt­ly leav­ing when play­ers knelt dur­ing the nation­al anthem, he first spent time pos­ing for pho­tos with Lucas and Duquette. Pro­tect the Har­vest also has ties to for­mer EPA chief Scott Pruitt, who was a fea­tured speak­er at a Pro­tect the Har­vest event in Indi­anapo­lis on Jan. 26, 2016.

    Lucas’s invest­ment in the Ham­monds — and the Bundys, who’ve been invit­ed to Pro­tect the Harvest–sponsored forums — is a means to an end. They have become sym­bols of the way many rur­al Amer­i­cans feel they’ve been wronged by fed­er­al over­reach, and Lucas, much like Trump, lever­ages those feel­ings to build sup­port for one of his over­rid­ing goals: wide-scale dereg­u­la­tion of big busi­ness.

    This is the sto­ry of how For­rest Lucas became the behind-the-scenes archi­tect of a mul­ti­pronged polit­i­cal and pro­pa­gan­da machine — unknown to most Amer­i­cans, yet with an out­size influ­ence on the cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion and the way mil­lions think of their rur­al way of life, the indus­tries that shape it, and the government’s role with­in it.

    “This admin­is­tra­tion has been pret­ty good at ask­ing for prob­lems,” Duquette explained. “And then address­ing them.” The Ham­mond par­don is the first such Pro­tect the Har­vest “prob­lem” that’s been direct­ly addressed on the nation­al stage. But with Lucas’s direct access to mul­ti­ple wings of the admin­is­tra­tion, it’s unlike­ly to be the last.

    To under­stand why an incred­i­bly wealthy man like Lucas would care about the fate of a pair of Ore­gon ranch­ers, you have to con­sid­er the con­cept of “the har­vest” as Lucas is using it: a stand-in for every­thing from actu­al crop yields to what he views as the fun­da­men­tal right to make a liv­ing as one sees fit off the land. In tax fil­ings, Pro­tect the Har­vest describes its mis­sion as edu­ca­tion­al: “to ensure accu­rate infor­ma­tion is com­mu­ni­cat­ed to the gen­er­al pub­lic with the rise of var­i­ous groups threat­en­ing to end mod­ern agri­cul­ture and hunt­ing in the Unit­ed States.”

    In prac­tice, this “accu­rate infor­ma­tion” has cen­tered on a clus­ter of issues that are close­ly tied to Big Ag’s pri­or­i­ties: por­tray­ing ani­mal rights activists and envi­ron­men­tal­ists as out-of-touch lib­er­als bent on end­ing the rur­al way of life; char­ac­ter­iz­ing reg­u­la­tion and fed­er­al over­sight, par­tic­u­lar­ly on pub­lic lands, as a means of cur­tail­ing Amer­i­can lib­er­ty; and advo­cat­ing for and pro­vid­ing plat­forms for pub­lic fig­ures — such as the Ham­monds — to func­tion as sym­bols of wide­spread per­se­cu­tion of the ag com­mu­ni­ty.

    That this appa­ra­tus was built in just eight years, by a man with lit­tle in the way of a vis­i­ble polit­i­cal pro­file, is a tes­ta­ment to what a few mil­lion dol­lars can do in our cur­rent Amer­i­can ide­o­log­i­cal land­scape. And while Lucas may seem like an unlike­ly polit­i­cal fig­ure, his “all-Amer­i­can” rise, and the obsta­cles that defined it, go a long way toward explain­ing the ardor and anger fuel­ing his cause.

    At age 76, Lucas has deep brown hair that seems to belie the nat­ur­al aging process. When he speaks with the press, he tends to wear shirts embla­zoned with the Lucas Oil logo of his com­pa­ny, or a race car jer­sey. He’s the sort of man who’d com­mis­sion a doc­u­men­tary about his own life — titled Amer­i­can Real: The For­rest Lucas Sto­ry — show it at a film fes­ti­val, and then make it near­ly impos­si­ble for any­one to view it again. He con­sid­ers him­self an embod­i­ment of the Amer­i­can dream: a boy who, as he tells it, grew up with­out elec­tric­i­ty in rur­al Indi­ana but then, over decades of hard work and fair deal­ings, scraped his way to a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar com­pa­ny.

    Born in 1942, Lucas grew up on a farm in Elkinsville, Indi­ana — liv­ing, as he put it, “pret­ty much like peo­ple lived in the 1800s.” “Most peo­ple now could only read about that,” he said, “but I got to see the tail end of it. Most peo­ple think it’s kind bucol­ic, but it’s actu­al­ly a pret­ty hard way to go.” Accord­ing to Lucas, when he was 9 years old, he got his start as an entre­pre­neur by going door-to-door, bare­foot­ed, sell­ing a sup­posed mir­a­cle cure called Clover­ine Salve.

    Lucas was, in many ways, a typ­i­cal farm kid. He’d wake in the morn­ing to take care of the cows and pigs, go to school, and return home to care for them again. At age 15, he left home to work at a cat­tle ranch in Har­ri­son Coun­ty, near the Ken­tucky state line. He grad­u­at­ed high school, then, as he lat­er put it, “went to a long col­lege called hard knocks.” By age 18, Lucas was a mar­ried man with a child — and left the ranch­ing life to make a liv­ing for his fam­i­ly, haul­ing dirt, find­ing odd con­struc­tion jobs, sell­ing Singer sewing machines, and work­ing a muf­fler assem­bly line at night.

    But what Lucas real­ly want­ed was a semi. “I’d see these guys going down the road,” he said, “and maybe they were going some­where. I want­ed to get into the truck and go some­where.” At 21, he pulled togeth­er enough mon­ey to buy his first semi — the first in what would even­tu­al­ly become a fleet. Two years lat­er, the creek that ran near his child­hood farm would be dammed in order to pow­er the near­by city of Bloom­ing­ton. The entire­ty of Lucas’s home­town of Elk­in­ton was acquired through emi­nent domain. His child­hood farm was gone, super­seded by the needs of those in the city near­by.

    Lucas didn’t make his for­tune on trucks. He made it on oil addi­tives, cre­at­ed using a “secret for­mu­la” that Lucas claims to have dis­cov­ered almost by acci­dent and which, his com­pa­ny claims, has seem­ing­ly mirac­u­lous effects on the per­for­mance of engines: It reduces wear, length­ens engine life, improves gas mileage, and makes motors run qui­eter, among oth­er things. Lucas Oil is mar­ket­ed to car afi­ciona­dos, gear­heads, and truck­ers with aging rigs.

    In the ’80s, Lucas Oil began putting its logo on race cars as a means of adver­tis­ing. The Lucas­es bought a cat­tle ranch in Cross Tim­bers, Mis­souri, that has grown to 15,000 acres, with over 3,000 cat­tle. They opened an oil pro­cess­ing plant in Coro­na, Cal­i­for­nia, and a sec­ond one in Cory­don, Indi­ana, where they also pur­chased the local rail­road. In 2011, Lucas acquired a tele­vi­sion chan­nel, MAVTV, and filled it with races fea­tur­ing cars embla­zoned with the Lucas Oil logo. “I real­ized sev­er­al years ago that peo­ple were start­ing to [skip] com­mer­cials,” Lucas told Autoweek. “We need­ed to be in the TV show itself, more so than just be on the car.”

    Lucas began to acquire the entire means of pro­duc­tion: He spon­sored the cars, he built or bought the tracks, he owned the broad­cast­ing net­work, and when the pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny he’d employed to make com­mer­cials went bank­rupt, he bought their gear and trained his load­ing dock employ­ees to oper­ate it, mov­ing to a dilap­i­dat­ed Sunkist fac­to­ry in Coro­na. By 2012, at least 700 dif­fer­ent rac­ing teams wore the Lucas Oil logo; today, many of those teams have tran­si­tioned to wear­ing the logo for Pro­tect the Har­vest. It’s ver­ti­cal inte­gra­tion, done the Lucas way: first to pro­mote his oil brand, now to pro­mote his ide­o­log­i­cal one.

    “The thing that’s inter­est­ing about Lucas — I don’t think any­one real­izes what kind of reach he has,” a cor­re­spon­dent for Speed mag­a­zine said in 2012. Apart from the rac­ing, Lucas’s name and brand is broad­cast into mil­lions of homes every week via nation­al­ly tele­vised games at Lucas Oil Sta­di­um. The $121.5 mil­lion gam­bit, which affix­es the Lucas Oil name to the sta­di­um where the Indi­anapo­lis Colts play until 2028, launched Lucas and his sec­ond wife, Char­lotte, onto the radar of the Indi­ana elite. Sud­den­ly, the farm boy was a per­son to know.

    The Indi­anapo­lis elite began active­ly court­ing his full-time return from Cal­i­for­nia, where he’d been run­ning Lucas Oil for decades. “For­rest would be a big fish in this pond,” then-may­or Bart Peter­son told Indi­anapo­lis Month­ly in 2007. “He would be some­body who would be noticed, because of his roots, and the fact that he’s proud of those roots.” In 2010, the Lucas­es pur­chased a sprawl­ing man­sion, known as Le Chateau Renais­sance, out­side of Indi­anapo­lis, with the pri­ma­ry inten­tion to use it for fundrais­ers and ben­e­fits. He added a 220,000-square-foot expan­sion to his Indi­ana plant, effec­tive­ly mak­ing it the home base for Lucas Oil oper­a­tions. Sev­en decades removed from an elec­tric­i­ty-less farm in Elkinsville, Indi­ana, For­rest Lucas had arrived.

    Like many who find their for­tunes secure, Lucas decid­ed to throw his new­found influ­ence around. He began donat­ing to polit­i­cal fig­ures — to then-gov­er­nor Pence, but also to mul­ti­ple rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Mis­souri, where Lucas ran a cat­tle ranch. It was there, in 2010, that he took on his first major polit­i­cal fight against Missouri’s Propo­si­tion B, col­lo­qui­al­ly known as the “pup­py mill bill.” The bill aimed to lim­it dog breed­ing facil­i­ties to 50 unspayed/unneutered ani­mals, which would effec­tive­ly elim­i­nate the “pup­py mill” indus­try in the states where such facil­i­ties are most con­cen­trat­ed.

    For out­siders, reg­u­lat­ing dog breed­ing and pre­vent­ing abus­es might seem like an easy call, but to dog breed­ers, it felt like a threat to their way of life. The fight over Propo­si­tion B became a proxy for a much larg­er bat­tle, between ani­mal rights activists — and HSUS in par­tic­u­lar — and the agri­cul­tur­al indus­try writ large. Prop B ulti­mate­ly passed with 51.59% of the vote — only to be over­turned by the Mis­souri leg­is­la­ture. The strug­gle over Propo­si­tion B embold­ened Lucas. Togeth­er with oth­er ag pro­duc­ers, he con­struct­ed a blue­print for a larg­er orga­ni­za­tion that would pro­mote the inter­ests of agri­cul­ture. “We’ve got to go on the offense,” Erik Hel­land, then-major­i­ty whip of the Iowa House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and one of ear­ly archi­tects of this orga­ni­za­tion, said. “We’ve got to start stak­ing out ag turf.”

    In 2012, Pro­tect the Har­vest filed paper­work with the FEC to cre­ate a polit­i­cal action com­mit­tee known as the Pro­tect the Har­vest Action Fund. Bri­an Klip­pen­stein — the son of a long­time Mis­souri state sen­a­tor, who’d spent the pre­vi­ous five years as then-sen­a­tor Kit Bond’s chief of staff — became the group’s exec­u­tive direc­tor. While Klip­pen­stein comes from a long ranch­ing her­itage, he has the pol­ish and hair­style of some­one who’s spent decades rub­bing elbows in DC. Accord­ing to his Pro­tect the Har­vest bio, Klip­pen­stein has “com­plet­ed over 50 marathons, includ­ing over a dozen 50-mil­ers and four sin­gle-day 100-milers…all fueled by a high-pro­tein diet cen­tered around nutri­ent-dense red meat.”

    Between 2012 and 2016, the lat­est year for which tax returns are avail­able, Pro­tect the Har­vest Action Fund has spent close to $4 mil­lion on influ­ence and lob­by­ing activ­i­ties. (All tax fil­ings are avail­able here.) Since 2012, the vast major­i­ty of Pro­tect the Harvest’s PAC mon­ey has been direct­ed toward sup­port­ing “Right to Farm” leg­is­la­tion and com­bat­ing ini­tia­tives, most of them spear­head­ed by the HSUS, that Lucas’s group sees as infring­ing upon agri­cul­tur­al lib­er­ty. The lan­guage of con­tem­po­rary Right to Farm amend­ments guar­an­tees farm­ers and ranch­ers the right to engage in their liveli­hoods and pro­duce food for oth­ers. If that sounds vague, it’s pur­pose­ful: It’s less intend­ed to address a cur­rent threat than future ones. In prac­tice, it helps bol­ster the feel­ing that an indus­try is vul­ner­a­ble.

    ...

    Pro­tect the Harvest’s first for­ay into the fray came in Mis­souri, where it offered broad media sup­port for a 2014 Right to Farm amend­ment, copied from a 2012 ver­sion draft­ed in North Dako­ta. For that cam­paign, Lucas enlist­ed then–state sen­a­tor Mike Par­son, who is now gov­er­nor, and to whom Lucas has giv­en more than $175,000 in cam­paign dona­tions. The two men first con­nect­ed in 2010, dur­ing the cam­paign against Propo­si­tion B. After it passed, Par­son, whose dis­trict includ­ed Lucas’s cat­tle ranch and one of his speed­ways, spon­sored the leg­is­la­tion that effec­tive­ly defanged the bill. From 2013 to 2015, Par­son served as the trea­sur­er of Pro­tect the Har­vest, and when Par­son ran for lieu­tenant gov­er­nor in 2016, Lucas and his wife cam­paigned along­side him; after he won, he framed a Pro­tect the Har­vest poster in his office.

    In North Dako­ta, the Right to Farm amend­ment had sailed to an easy vic­to­ry, win­ning two-thirds of the vote. But in Mis­souri, it was hot­ly con­test­ed. One pub­lic radio sto­ry framed it as pit­ting “farmer against farmer,” leav­ing lit­tle way for small pro­duc­ers to defend against the incur­sion and growth of larg­er ones. Pro­tect the Har­vest argued, “Our rights don’t come from gov­ern­ment. They are God-giv­en free­doms that come with our human­i­ty. How­ev­er, bureau­crats and activist judges have made it clear that they will not respect those rights unless they are cod­i­fied in statutes or con­sti­tu­tions.” Togeth­er, both sides spent a total of $1.5 mil­lion on mes­sag­ing. The amend­ment bare­ly passed, eking out 50.12% of the final vote.

    A ver­sion of the amend­ment then migrat­ed to Okla­homa, where Pro­tect the Har­vest was joined in sup­port by the Okla­homa Cattlemen’s Asso­ci­a­tion, the Okla­homa Farm Bureau, and the Okla­homa Pork Coun­cil. Their oppo­si­tion, led by HSUS, the Sier­ra Club, the ASPCA, and the Okla­homa Food Coop­er­a­tive, argued that the bill, SQ 777, would make it impos­si­ble to act if and when ag pol­lut­ed or oth­er­wise threat­ened a water source or the land.

    “I work with fam­i­ly farm­ers from all over the state,” said Adam Price, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Okla­homa Food Coop­er­a­tive. “And I can say with absolute cer­tain­ty that SQ 777 was not con­ceived with them in mind.” The “yes” argu­ment was crys­tal­lized in a tele­vi­sion ad cre­at­ed by Pro­tect the Har­vest: “Have you seen the ads attack­ing 777? ALL LIES. Paid for by the same out-of-state ani­mal rights groups that oppose the right to hunt and fish.”

    In the end, the Yes side lost by 20 points — the first major defeat for the new wave of Right to Farm leg­is­la­tion and Pro­tect the Har­vest. Bri­an Jones, an attor­ney who spent a year work­ing for the “no” side, links the amendment’s fail­ure to reac­ti­vat­ed mem­o­ry: “Most peo­ple in Okla­homa have an agri­cul­tur­al her­itage, mean­ing their grand­par­ents or par­ents were farm­ers,” he told Buz­zFeed News. “One of the con­se­quences of the indus­tri­al­iza­tion of ag is that few­er and few­er peo­ple are involved in it. Most of what is out there, in the mar­ket right now, is Big Ag.”

    Dur­ing this same peri­od in the ’90s, there was enor­mous con­sol­i­da­tion in ag pro­duc­tion — basi­cal­ly, big farms buy­ing up small­er ones — that marked an end to many farm­ing fam­i­lies’ way of life. “There were some fights about all this back then,” Jones said. “But 777 reraised all these ques­tions: Where did the jobs go? What hap­pened to the peo­ple?”

    In Mis­souri, Pro­tect the Har­vest had effec­tive­ly mobi­lized those rur­al anx­i­eties, paper­ing over the role of larg­er indus­tri­al and leg­isla­tive forces that had end­ed that way of life years before. In Okla­homa, that project failed — but their defeat has only served to bol­ster Pro­tect the Harvest’s argu­ment that out­siders are deter­mined to fight against one’s “right to farm.” (In an email to Buz­zFeed News, a spokesman respond­ed to a ques­tion about the effects of dereg­u­la­tion on small farms with the fol­low­ing state­ment: “Pro­tect the Har­vest sup­ports all forms of agri­cul­ture. Our mis­sion is to edu­cate and inform the pub­lic about issues that impact our Amer­i­can tra­di­tions, her­itage and way of life. There are many over­reach­ing reg­u­la­tions that impact farms, both large and small which ulti­mate­ly affect the Amer­i­can pub­lic as both large and small farms feed our nation.”)

    Lucas’s design to “pro­tect” the har­vest has large­ly entailed fight­ing reg­u­la­tion. Like many con­ser­v­a­tive oper­a­tives, Pro­tect the Har­vest views any type of reg­u­la­tion, whether on the hours a long-haul truck­er can legal­ly dri­ve or the con­di­tions for rais­ing chick­ens, as unnec­es­sary and restric­tive incur­sions on free enter­prise, but one area of par­tic­u­lar inter­est has been wild hors­es.

    Back in 2012, Dave Duquette attempt­ed to bring a horse slaugh­ter­house to his home­town of Her­mis­ton, Ore­gon, promis­ing much-need­ed eco­nom­ic stim­u­lus to the area, but local lead­ers balked at the prospect of the town being equat­ed with a taboo indus­try. Fast-for­ward six years, and Duquette is the “equine spe­cial­ist” for Pro­tect the Har­vest.

    Duquette, who is rarely with­out his cow­boy hat and a cow­boy shirt embroi­dered with the Pro­tect the Har­vest or Lucas Oil logo, has spear­head­ed Pro­tect the Harvest’s efforts to change the mes­sag­ing around wild horse man­age­ment from cru­el­ty to benev­o­lence.

    “Amer­i­can wild hors­es are suf­fer­ing due to over­crowd­ing, which has led to star­va­tion and death,” the open­ing to a four-part series on Pro­tect the Harvest’s home­page claims. “We have the oppor­tu­ni­ty and oblig­a­tion to pro­tect them from long and painful suf­fer­ing by con­trol­ling their num­bers.” A 15-minute PTH-pro­duced video, titled “Hors­es in Cri­sis,” fea­tures an array of sick and starv­ing hors­es, as well as ranch­ers and oth­ers con­demn­ing “horse advo­cates” for their lack of knowl­edge about hors­es on the range. “It’s time to bring facts, rea­son, and a spe­cial per­spec­tive to an issue dom­i­nat­ed by emo­tion,” a solemn-voiced nar­ra­tor says. The over­ar­ch­ing mes­sage: Those who deal with wild hors­es on the land should dic­tate how to man­age hors­es on the land, and not far­away reg­u­la­tors.

    That was Duquette’s mes­sage in 2015, when he vis­it­ed Neva­da in sup­port of a ranch­er named Kevin Bor­ba, who had repeat­ed­ly and pro­gres­sive­ly flout­ed rules gov­ern­ing the treat­ment of wild hors­es on his graz­ing allot­ment. Duquette post­ed a pic­ture of Bor­ba in a Pro­tect the Harvest–branded four-wheel­er, out to “doc­u­ment” the “lies” spread by Lau­ra Leigh, who was head­ing up an exper­i­men­tal fer­til­i­ty con­trol pro­gram on the hors­es. Pro­tect the Har­vest cre­at­ed a series of videos fram­ing Bor­ba as a vic­tim of the BLM, whose “mis­man­age­ment hurts both the hors­es and the ranch­ers whose liveli­hood are being tak­en away.” Accord­ing to Leigh, an ini­tial ver­sion of the video, lat­er tak­en down, includ­ed her name, prompt­ing imme­di­ate harass­ment. (Pro­tect the Har­vest dis­putes this claim.) “I was get­ting a dozen death threats with my morn­ing cof­fee,” Leigh told Buz­zFeed News. “It was real­ly scary to be tar­get­ed by that machine.”

    Lucas has repeat­ed­ly referred to HSUS and ani­mal rights activists as “ter­ror­ists” intent on “pass­ing laws to ruin Amer­i­ca” that delib­er­ate­ly impugn the small-time farmer’s way of life. Lucas’s polit­i­cal dona­tions and Pro­tect the Harvest’s mes­sag­ing around bal­lot ini­tia­tives under­lined that ide­ol­o­gy. But to make those ide­olo­gies even more robust and per­sua­sive required some­thing more effec­tive than polit­i­cal ads. They need­ed pro­pa­gan­da.

    Pro­pa­gan­da is any­thing from a pam­phlet to a tele­vi­sion pro­gram that attempts to make an argu­ment for a par­tic­u­lar polit­i­cal stance, whether on the right, left, or cen­ter — but much of it can be heavy-hand­ed, sim­plis­tic, or mis­lead­ing. When it comes to agri­cul­ture and ani­mal rights issues, both sides of the issue pro­duce pro­pa­gan­da. But only one side has its own film stu­dio.

    When Lucas first start­ed pro­duc­ing tele­vi­sion pro­gram­ming for his tele­vi­sion chan­nel, the focus was vehi­cles to broad­en his company’s name recog­ni­tion. “We got into the enter­tain­ment busi­ness to sell oil,” Lucas once said. “And noth­ing is more enter­tain­ing than fast cars, trucks, planes, and boats.” By 2015, his inten­tions had expand­ed. “For me, ven­tur­ing into the film busi­ness is not about mon­ey, glam­our or fun,” Lucas said. “It’s about being able to deliv­er mes­sages and hav­ing a viable vehi­cle to do so.”

    But what sort of “mes­sages” did Lucas want to trans­mit? Pro­tect the Har­vest mes­sages. Last year’s Pray for Rain, star­ring Jane Sey­mour, sug­gests that cor­rupt envi­ron­men­tal­ists, in league with shady gang­sters, are pro­long­ing the ter­ri­ble drought afflict­ing Cen­tral Cal­i­for­nia and threat­en­ing the liveli­hoods of des­per­ate local farm­ers. Run­ning Wild, also from 2017 and star­ring Sharon Stone — who also copro­duced — depicts a wild horse advo­cate, whom Lau­ra Leigh believes is loose­ly based on her, as an evil vil­lain try­ing to shut down a horse reha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram. The 2016 film The Dog Lover, fea­tur­ing Lea Thomp­son, involves a young woman who vol­un­teers with an ani­mal pro­tec­tion group to go under­cov­er at a pup­py mill — only to dis­cov­er that the orga­ni­za­tion is far more dan­ger­ous than the “mill” itself, which, turns out, is actu­al­ly a kind­heart­ed breed­ing oper­a­tion.

    ESX films are reg­u­lar­ly panned by crit­ics, do not receive the­atri­cal releas­es, and go straight to video or VOD. But prof­its, accord­ing to Lucas, are sec­ondary. They’re reach­ing an audi­ence: ag fam­i­lies who don’t feel that their way of life is rep­re­sent­ed accu­rate­ly onscreen, and those who may not know a thing about agri­cul­ture but will be called upon to vote or think about the issues rep­re­sent­ed in the films. Watch The Dog Lover, for exam­ple, with­out much under­stand­ing of the dog breed­ing indus­try, and it’s easy to believe that “pup­py mills” are an idea con­coct­ed by manip­u­la­tive ani­mal rights activists who have no idea what they’re talk­ing about.

    The fea­ture films are only one arm of Pro­tect the Harvest’s mes­sag­ing appa­ra­tus. Back in 2014, Lucas com­mis­sioned a doc­u­men­tary about his life (pro­duced by adver­tis­ing com­pa­ny MARC USA), which screened at the Heart­land Film Fes­ti­val. (Ear­li­er that month, Lucas’s wife, Char­lotte, had drawn nation­al atten­tion for a Face­book post, lat­er delet­ed, that declared, “I’m sick and tired of minori­ties run­ning our coun­try! As far as I’m con­cerned, I don’t think that athe­ists (minor­i­ty), mus­lims (minor­i­ty) or any oth­er minor­i­ty group has the right to tell the major­i­ty of peo­ple in the Unit­ed States what they can and can­not do here. Is every­one so scared that they can’t fight for what’s right or wrong with this coun­try?”)

    The day after the Face­book post, Lucas — who has pre­vi­ous­ly acknowl­edged that his work­force is large­ly com­posed of immi­grantsissued a full-page apol­o­gy in the Indi­anapo­lis Star for his wife’s post, explain­ing that it did not “reflect the feel­ings in her heart,” and under­lin­ing that Lucas Oil “is proud to have employ­ees, friends, cus­tomers, and busi­ness part­ners reflect­ing eth­nic and racial diver­si­ty.”

    Apart from the films, Pro­tect the Har­vest main­tains a robust Face­book pres­ence: Its page cur­rent­ly has 258,000-plus fol­low­ers and posts links, peti­tions, edi­to­ri­als, and memes five or six times a day. The Pro­tect the Har­vest web­site fea­tures links to civics work­books that can be sug­gest­ed as addi­tions to local cur­ricu­lum; at the bot­tom of the first page, a logo declares, “You could be forced to give up your free­dom to hunt, fish, and own ani­mals. Learn more at ProtectTheHarvest.com.” For class activ­i­ties, the work­book sug­gests observ­ing the judi­cial branch at work in movies like To Kill a Mock­ing­bird, My Cousin Vin­ny, or Pro­tect the Harvest’s own The Dog Lover. For kids, there’s a sec­tion of down­load­able col­or­ing sheets bor­dered with “PROTECT YOUR PET! PROTECT AMERICA! PROTECT THE HARVEST.COM!”

    In Range mag­a­zine — an inde­pen­dent­ly owned quar­ter­ly pub­li­ca­tion full of beau­ti­ful rur­al land­scapes and essays about how “the U.S. gov­ern­ment has inflict­ed 40 years of abuse on Nevada’s Hage fam­i­ly” — Pro­tect the Har­vest now occu­pies about half of the ad space, pro­mot­ing Pro­tect the Har­vest films and the Ham­mond par­don. Part­ner­ing with Range, Pro­tect the Har­vest has helped fund three “Range Rights” con­fer­ences — in Lay­ton, Utah; in Belle­vue, Nebras­ka; and in Modesto, Cal­i­for­nia.

    The two-day con­fer­ence was found­ed in 2015 as a way to har­ness the ener­gy fol­low­ing the Bundys’ Mal­heur occu­pa­tion; atten­dants include a mix of Mal­heur devo­tees and local ranch­ers. In Modesto this April, the atten­dance hov­ered around 40, and half the atten­dees were speak­ers them­selves — but the real range rights audi­ence was online, where each of the speech­es was streamed in full. Rep. Devin Nunes, once part of the House Intel­li­gence Committee’s Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion, attacked the press; the local sher­iff empha­sized that his offi­cers knew to look the oth­er way when local ranch­ers had an unli­censed firearm. The daugh­ter of LaVoy Finicum spoke about the lega­cy of her father, the ranch­er who was killed by Ore­gon State Police in what have become heav­i­ly con­test­ed cir­cum­stances, effec­tive­ly ren­der­ing him a mar­tyr for the Bundy move­ment. Final­ly, Ammon Bundy preached the lat­est chap­ter in the family’s gospel, empha­siz­ing that envi­ron­men­tal­ists are “an ene­my to humans” prac­tic­ing their own hereti­cal reli­gion.

    The entire event was host­ed by Trent Loos, a Nebras­ka farmer, mem­ber of Pres­i­dent Trump’s Agri­cul­tur­al Advi­so­ry Com­mit­tee, and one of Pro­tect the Harvest’s most vis­i­ble activists, unit­ed with Lucas in his fierce oppo­si­tion to HSUS. (When HSUS began using Michael Vick’s role in dog­fight­ing and oth­er forms of ani­mal abuse to make the case for tougher leg­is­la­tion, Loos wrote that Vick was being per­se­cut­ed for “not ... treat­ing his dog like a kid.”) With his bushy mus­tache and ranch­ing vest, Loos — who plead­ed no con­test in 2005 to charges of cat­tle fraud — looks the part of the cow­boy, and will play one in a forth­com­ing PTH film. In Modesto, Loos took the stage with Nunes. “As a mem­ber of the ag com­mit­tee, we have a cer­tain lev­el of frus­tra­tion that we haven’t drained the swamp quick­er, that we still have old-school bureau­crats in the posi­tions of deci­sion-mak­ing,” he said. “So how do we get that fixed? Because obvi­ous­ly there’s a big­ger plug in the swamp than antic­i­pat­ed.”

    At that point, Pro­tect the Har­vest had been work­ing to “unplug” the swamp for well over a year. When jour­nal­ist Michael Lewis began inves­ti­gat­ing the tran­si­tion offi­cials appoint­ed by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, he zeroed in on Bri­an Klippenstein’s USDA role. In an inter­view with Fresh Air, Lewis described Pro­tect the Har­vest as an orga­ni­za­tion that sees its job “as essen­tial­ly trolling the Humane Soci­ety,” and is “hyper­sen­si­tive to ani­mal rights peo­ple and tries to respond to ani­mal rights activists wher­ev­er it can.” USDA employ­ees found Klippenstein’s appoint­ment odd because, as Lewis put it, “one of the things the USDA does is stand up for the rights of ani­mals in ani­mal-peo­ple dis­putes.”

    Dog­fight­ing, cir­cus­es, ani­mal slaugh­ter, ani­mal test­ing — the USDA is charged with doc­u­ment­ing and mon­i­tor­ing those oper­a­tions. In the sub­se­quent weeks, Klip­pen­stein alone took on the respon­si­bil­i­ties of a tran­si­tion team that usu­al­ly would’ve been entrust­ed to a team of at least 20. Through his brief­in­gs, he became intent on fig­ur­ing out which of the exist­ing Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture employ­ees had been research­ing cli­mate change and its ram­i­fi­ca­tions.

    The request was denied, but Klip­pen­stein made his mark in oth­er ways. He now serves as a senior advis­er to Sec­re­tary of Agri­cul­ture Son­ny Per­due, who has over­seen the removal of USDA doc­u­ments detail­ing past ani­mal inspec­tions, enforce­ment actions, and annu­al reports on 7,800 dif­fer­ent facil­i­ties. The removal was prompt­ed by a law­suit, filed dur­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, alleg­ing that a report iden­ti­fy­ing Ten­nessee walk­ing horse own­ers as “vio­la­tors” of anti-sor­ing reg­u­la­tions impinged on their rights to due process and pri­va­cy. To address the suit, Per­due has removed all records.

    The move was cel­e­brat­ed by Ten­nessee walk­ing horse groups, but it has broad­er ben­e­fi­cia­ries: prac­ti­tion­ers of indus­tri­al agri­cul­ture, whose hus­bandry, liv­ing, and slaugh­ter prac­tices are also mon­i­tored by the USDA. The lack of pub­licly acces­si­ble mon­i­tor­ing records will make it increas­ing­ly dif­fi­cult to pros­e­cute, leg­is­late, or oth­er­wise reg­u­late cur­rent agri­cul­tur­al prac­tices.

    “We’re lucky with the things this admin­is­tra­tion has been doing,” Duquette told Buz­zFeed News. “It’s been real­ly good to deal with, and find prob­lems to fix. That’s prob­a­bly been the best thing to hap­pen for ani­mal agri­cul­ture, the pet indus­try, and the food sup­ply.”

    This sort of access and influ­ence helps explain how the Ham­monds’ appeal made its way to Pres­i­dent Trump’s desk. Accord­ing to Duquette, Lucas first brought up the idea of a par­don to then-gov­er­nor Pence before Trump’s elec­tion. When Lucas and Pence had din­ner in May, Lucas brought up the case again, mak­ing the argu­ment for a com­mut­ed sen­tence. Soon after, the case was moved to the office of Pence’s chief coun­sel.

    “You know, it’s ‘a squeaky wheel gets the grease’ deal,” Duquette told Buz­zFeed News. “And I know the pres­i­dent needs help from peo­ple to high­light injus­tices.” Since late May, Pro­tect the Harvest’s social media accounts have been in over­drive elic­it­ing pop­u­lar sup­port for the Ham­monds’ cause. Pro­tect the Har­vest has also moved to dis­tance itself and their cause from the Bundys, who’ve been grouped with the Ham­monds since the days of the stand­off.

    Indeed, Duquette believes that if the Mal­heur occu­pa­tion hadn’t hap­pened, the Ham­monds would’ve been par­doned long ago. “I don’t dis­agree with [the Bundys’] issues, but the tac­tics are...” he said, paus­ing for a moment. “I under­stand the tac­tics because of their frus­tra­tion with what they’ve had to deal with over the years.”

    Dur­ing the occu­pa­tion, Duquette and Trent Loos posed for a pho­to with Ammon Bundy; while a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Pro­tect the Har­vest has denied offer­ing mate­r­i­al sup­port to the occu­piers, Todd Mac­far­lane — a lawyer, Bundy sup­port­er, and stand­off spokesper­son — blogged that Pro­tect the Har­vest had made “its peo­ple, resources and check­book avail­able.” Pro­tect the Har­vest coun­ters that a rep­re­sen­ta­tive “went to Mal­heur Refuge one week into the occu­pa­tion to do an inter­view with Ammon Bundy.”

    But as the Ham­mond peti­tion made its way to the White House, Duquette told Buz­zFeed News that he called Ammon Bundy to let him know that Pro­tect the Har­vest would be pub­licly dis­tanc­ing itself from the Bundy fam­i­ly. Still, the Bundys threw them­selves behind the par­don peti­tion, post­ing mul­ti­ple links to it. When the news was announced, the Bundy Ranch Face­book page’s post allud­ed to the con­nec­tion: “Thank you @POTUS for car­ry­ing out jus­tice and par­don­ing Ore­gon ranch­ers Dwight & Steven Ham­mond. Many ranch­ers in the West have suf­fered under the heavy hand of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. These men are great patri­ots.”

    Duquette acknowl­edges that a Ham­mond par­don will be treat­ed as a win for the Bundys and their sup­port­ers. But that’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly a bad thing, he said. “The pres­i­dent would have an out­pour­ing of sup­port in the West, and through­out the Mid­west, from all the peo­ple that are his base for doing this. It would show a good sign of good­will for all the peo­ple out there.”

    To par­don the Ham­monds is to rat­i­fy that their case, like so much of what Pro­tect the Har­vest lob­bies against, is an exam­ple of fed­er­al over­reach — engi­neered by igno­rant out­siders who resent and mis­un­der­stand the peo­ple who make Amer­i­can life pos­si­ble. As Mon­tana Rep. Greg Gian­forte phrased it in a pub­lic state­ment, “Pres­i­dent Trump’s deci­sion to par­don Dwight and Steven Ham­mond is a win for prop­er­ty rights and our way of life.”

    But like so many of the issues on which Pro­tect the Harvest’s advo­ca­cy piv­ots, the real­i­ty is far less stark. The Ham­monds were sen­tenced for com­mit­ting arson on fed­er­al land. An appeals court vacat­ed that sen­tence because it did not sat­is­fy the manda­to­ry min­i­mum sen­tenc­ing require­ments, and resen­tenced them for the manda­to­ry min­i­mum for that crime. Apart from the back-burn­ing, the Ham­monds have a long his­to­ry of taunt­ing BLM man­age­ment and flaunt­ing their reg­u­la­tion. Like the Bundys, the Ham­monds have long believed that the fed­er­al, pub­lic land they pay pen­nies on the dol­lar to graze should be con­sid­ered their own, to man­age as they please — includ­ing set­ting fires. The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, at least for the time being, dis­agrees.

    Par­don­ing the Ham­monds sug­gests not only that this par­tic­u­lar case was mis­treat­ed, but that fears of gov­ern­ment over­reach are war­rant­ed — and that Trump will con­tin­ue to act in a way that acknowl­edges those fears.

    All over ag coun­try, Ore­gon to Arkansas, small schools are clos­ing their doors. Part of the rea­son is that the con­sol­i­da­tion of agri­cul­ture — larg­er farms gob­bling up small­er ones to stay alive — has made it impos­si­ble for those one­time small farm­ers to remain. The pop­u­la­tion of the small town dwin­dles, and the schools close, which makes it even less desir­able for oth­ers to move to that town, pro­vide ser­vices, attract jobs, or main­tain the “way of life” asso­ci­at­ed with rur­al Amer­i­ca.

    When you look at the Pro­tect the Har­vest logo, you don’t see a fam­i­ly. You don’t see a way of life. You don’t see a per­son at all. You see a com­bine har­vester — one of the pri­ma­ry advances in farm­ing tech­nol­o­gy that led the agri­cul­tur­al indus­try to the place it is today. “All of their imagery is of big, beau­ti­ful trac­tors churn­ing through a com­mod­i­ty crop, essen­tial­ly drip­ping Lucas Oil,” Ryan Bell, a jour­nal­ist and close observ­er of fights around the agri­cul­tur­al way of life, told Buz­zFeed News.

    “But that trac­tor, that’s what took the com­mu­ni­ty away from ranch­ing. It under­cuts a long-term, sus­tain­able agrar­i­an soci­ety,” he said. “There’s no need for a big fam­i­ly to work the farm, and no need for the fam­i­ly you have to stick around. Today, a man might have a thou­sand acres of corn, and he’s till­ing it all alone with a $250,000 com­bine. His kid’s gone. And odd­ly enough, this is exact­ly the type of per­son who’s pret­ty sus­cep­ti­ble to Pro­tect the Har­vest rhetoric.”

    There are dozens of inter­sect­ing rea­sons for the end of the agrar­i­an way of life. Some of them stem from bad leg­is­la­tion, improp­er fed­er­al reg­u­la­tion, and advo­ca­cy from groups with lit­tle sense of the larg­er effects of a dis­rup­tion in the food chain. There is an impend­ing food cri­sis in the world’s future. To solve it, how­ev­er — while also pre­serv­ing the Earth long enough for our descen­dants to con­front that cri­sis — all sides of the issue need to spend less time cre­at­ing bogey­men of the oth­ers; less time on “offense” or “defense.”

    The pro­duc­tion of food may be an indus­try, but it’s not a game. Whether in the form of gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies or a vaunt­ed posi­tion with­in the Amer­i­can imag­i­nary, the har­vest has been pro­tect­ed for cen­turies.

    Tak­en sep­a­rate­ly, Pro­tect the Harvest’s ini­tia­tives — the fea­ture films, the fight against HSUS, the move to root out those study­ing glob­al warm­ing, the Right to Farm advo­ca­cy, the Ham­mond par­don — none of it seems, on its face, like a means of pro­tect­ing busi­ness inter­ests. It’s only when exam­ined togeth­er, as part of a larg­er, moti­vat­ing whole, that Lucas’s actu­al pas­sion becomes clear. It’s not the small-time farmer. It’s cer­tain­ly not the har­vest. It’s not dogs, or hunt­ing, or hors­es. For­rest Lucas prides him­self on his iden­ti­ty as an all-Amer­i­can man. And noth­ing is more all-Amer­i­can than unfet­tered indus­try, and the prof­its that flow from it.

    ———-

    “Meet The Man — And Pro­pa­gan­da Machine — Behind Trump’s Lat­est Par­don” by Anne Helen Petersen, Ken Bensinger, and Sal­vador Her­nan­dez; Buz­zFeed; 07/11/2018

    “Tak­en sep­a­rate­ly, Pro­tect the Harvest’s ini­tia­tives — the fea­ture films, the fight against HSUS, the move to root out those study­ing glob­al warm­ing, the Right to Farm advo­ca­cy, the Ham­mond par­don — none of it seems, on its face, like a means of pro­tect­ing busi­ness inter­ests. It’s only when exam­ined togeth­er, as part of a larg­er, moti­vat­ing whole, that Lucas’s actu­al pas­sion becomes clear. It’s not the small-time farmer. It’s cer­tain­ly not the har­vest. It’s not dogs, or hunt­ing, or hors­es. For­rest Lucas prides him­self on his iden­ti­ty as an all-Amer­i­can man. And noth­ing is more all-Amer­i­can than unfet­tered indus­try, and the prof­its that flow from it.

    Remov­ing any and all restric­tions and reg­u­la­tions on large busi­ness inter­ests like For­rest Lucas’s busi­ness empire. Includ­ing restric­tions on ani­mal abuse. That’s the pic­ture that emerges when you look at what Lucas’s “Pro­tect the Har­vest” actu­al­ly does. By brand­ing itself as a cham­pi­on for small farm­ers and a ‘rur­al way of life’, Pro­tect the Har­vest has build a vast pro­pa­gan­da and lob­by­ing net­work that fun­da­men­tal­ly advo­cates for one cause: For­rest Lucas and his abil­i­ty to make as much mon­ey as pos­si­ble with­out any reg­u­la­tions.

    And as the arti­cle makes clear, cham­pi­oning both the Ham­monds and the Bundys has becom­ing one of ways Pro­tect the Har­vest has attempt­ed to claim that brand­ing man­tel of ‘defend­er of the small farmer and ranch­er’. It’s why last phone call Dwight Ham­mond made before head­ing to a fed­er­al prison was a call to Lucas: The Ham­monds’ case had become part of Pro­tect the Har­vest’s pro-big busi­ness pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign:

    ...
    The last call Ore­gon ranch­er Dwight Ham­mond Jr. made before head­ing to fed­er­al prison on two counts of arson in 2016 was to a man he hard­ly knew. For­rest Lucas, who made his for­tune on oil engine addi­tives, promised Ham­mond that he would do what­ev­er he could to get him and his son, Steven, out of prison.

    Ear­ly Tues­day morn­ing aboard Air Force One, en route to the NATO sum­mit, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signed an offi­cial clemen­cy order par­don­ing the two men. Lucas — a 76-year-old Indi­ana self-made mil­lion­aire with tight ties to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion — had ful­filled his pledge.
    ...

    Now, again, to be fair to the Ham­monds and their case, they nev­er actu­al­ly endorsed to the Bundy-led armed stand­off at Mal­heur Nation­al Wildlife Refuge. But from a sym­bol­ic stand­point the two cas­es are inter­twined, mak­ing the Ham­monds’ legal trou­bles the per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty for some­one like Lucas look­ing to endear him­self with rur­al vot­ers:

    ...
    For near­ly two decades, the Ham­monds had been engaged in skir­mish­es with the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment, an agency that func­tions as a go-between for ranch­ers and the fed­er­al land they lease for graz­ing. They pushed back, often threat­en­ing­ly, on reg­u­la­tions regard­ing the Mal­heur Wildlife Refuge, which bor­dered the Ham­monds’ graz­ing allot­ment, and they set unper­mit­ted fires on BLM land. After a sec­ond fire in 2006, the pair were charged with 19 dif­fer­ent crimes, but even­tu­al­ly arranged a plea deal for just two charges of arson on fed­er­al land, which car­ried a min­i­mum of a five-year sen­tence. The judge declared that such lengthy jail time qual­i­fied as cru­el and unusu­al pun­ish­ment, instead sen­tenc­ing Dwight to three months and Steven to one year and one day. The pair served their time and returned home. But the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment suc­cess­ful­ly appealed the sen­tence, and on Jan. 4, 2016, the Ham­monds were ordered to return to prison.

    The ver­dict brought Ammon and Ryan Bundy — who, along with their father, Cliv­en, had been involved in an armed con­fronta­tion with BLM offi­cials over the man­age­ment of their graz­ing allot­ment in Neva­da — to East­ern Ore­gon. On Jan. 2, Ammon led sev­er­al hun­dred peo­ple on a peace­ful march through Burns, Ore­gon, in sup­port of the Ham­monds. At the end of the march, he made a dec­la­ra­tion: Who­ev­er want­ed to take a “hard stand” against the gov­ern­ment should fol­low him — thus launch­ing what would become the 41-day armed stand­off at the Mal­heur Wildlife Refuge.

    The Ham­monds, how­ev­er, weren’t there. Nor did they con­done what the Bundys and oth­ers had done in their name. When the occu­pa­tion began, they were back on their ranch with Dave Duquette, Lucas’s close asso­ciate. When the Ham­monds flew back to a hero’s wel­come in Burns, Ore­gon, it was aboard Lucas’s pri­vate jet. Lucas, whose com­pa­ny, Lucas Oil, cur­rent­ly holds nam­ing rights for the Indi­anapo­lis Colts’ sta­di­um, has made a pro-agri­cul­ture, anti-reg­u­la­tion agen­da his mis­sion over the past eight years — and had decid­ed that the Ham­monds fit into his larg­er mas­ter plan.
    ...

    And while the Ham­monds may not have embraced the Bundys’ armed stand­off tac­tics, Lucas and Pro­tect the Har­vest did indeed embrace the Bundys. And when Lucas and Pro­tect the Har­vest began a peti­tion to get the Ham­monds par­doned, they kind­ly informed the Bundys that they would be dis­tances them­selves from them. In oth­er words, it was a strate­gic dis­tances that all par­ties under­stood as friend­ly in nature:

    ...
    This sort of access and influ­ence helps explain how the Ham­monds’ appeal made its way to Pres­i­dent Trump’s desk. Accord­ing to Duquette, Lucas first brought up the idea of a par­don to then-gov­er­nor Pence before Trump’s elec­tion. When Lucas and Pence had din­ner in May, Lucas brought up the case again, mak­ing the argu­ment for a com­mut­ed sen­tence. Soon after, the case was moved to the office of Pence’s chief coun­sel.

    “You know, it’s ‘a squeaky wheel gets the grease’ deal,” Duquette told Buz­zFeed News. “And I know the pres­i­dent needs help from peo­ple to high­light injus­tices.” Since late May, Pro­tect the Harvest’s social media accounts have been in over­drive elic­it­ing pop­u­lar sup­port for the Ham­monds’ cause. Pro­tect the Har­vest has also moved to dis­tance itself and their cause from the Bundys, who’ve been grouped with the Ham­monds since the days of the stand­off.

    Indeed, Duquette believes that if the Mal­heur occu­pa­tion hadn’t hap­pened, the Ham­monds would’ve been par­doned long ago. “I don’t dis­agree with [the Bundys’] issues, but the tac­tics are...” he said, paus­ing for a moment. “I under­stand the tac­tics because of their frus­tra­tion with what they’ve had to deal with over the years.”

    Dur­ing the occu­pa­tion, Duquette and Trent Loos posed for a pho­to with Ammon Bundy; while a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Pro­tect the Har­vest has denied offer­ing mate­r­i­al sup­port to the occu­piers, Todd Mac­far­lane — a lawyer, Bundy sup­port­er, and stand­off spokesper­son — blogged that Pro­tect the Har­vest had made “its peo­ple, resources and check­book avail­able.” Pro­tect the Har­vest coun­ters that a rep­re­sen­ta­tive “went to Mal­heur Refuge one week into the occu­pa­tion to do an inter­view with Ammon Bundy.”

    But as the Ham­mond peti­tion made its way to the White House, Duquette told Buz­zFeed News that he called Ammon Bundy to let him know that Pro­tect the Har­vest would be pub­licly dis­tanc­ing itself from the Bundy fam­i­ly. Still, the Bundys threw them­selves behind the par­don peti­tion, post­ing mul­ti­ple links to it. When the news was announced, the Bundy Ranch Face­book page’s post allud­ed to the con­nec­tion: “Thank you @POTUS for car­ry­ing out jus­tice and par­don­ing Ore­gon ranch­ers Dwight & Steven Ham­mond. Many ranch­ers in the West have suf­fered under the heavy hand of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. These men are great patri­ots.”

    Duquette acknowl­edges that a Ham­mond par­don will be treat­ed as a win for the Bundys and their sup­port­ers. But that’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly a bad thing, he said. “The pres­i­dent would have an out­pour­ing of sup­port in the West, and through­out the Mid­west, from all the peo­ple that are his base for doing this. It would show a good sign of good­will for all the peo­ple out there.”
    ...

    “Duquette acknowl­edges that a Ham­mond par­don will be treat­ed as a win for the Bundys and their sup­port­ers. But that’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly a bad thing, he said.”

    So if you’re won­der­ing how the Ham­monds man­aged to become the first peo­ple to request clemen­cy and have it grant­ed by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, the fact that they had For­rest Lucas’s Pro­tect the Har­vest lob­by­ing for their release is how they man­aged it. The fact that Lucas and Pro­tect the Har­vest also have close ties to Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, Inte­ri­or Sec­re­tary Ryan Zinke, and Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Son­ny Per­due also helps. Espe­cial­ly since Per­due’s top advis­er is a for­mer employ­ee of Lucas:

    ...
    To achieve his goals, Lucas has used a non­prof­it he found­ed, Pro­tect the Har­vest — devot­ed to “work­ing to pro­tect your right to hunt, fish, farm, eat meat, and own pets” — as well as his close ties to Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, Inte­ri­or Sec­re­tary Ryan Zinke, and Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Son­ny Per­due, whose top advis­er is a for­mer employ­ee of Lucas’s. As Duquette puts it, “the access is very good.”

    “Most peo­ple wouldn’t get involved,” Duquette told Buz­zFeed News in ear­ly June. “But thank god for For­rest Lucas, because he’s been will­ing to take on the hard issues.” Among those hard issues: fight­ing envi­ron­men­tal activists, push­ing back against reg­u­la­tion, and pro­tect­ing farm­ers and ranch­ers from what they see as fed­er­al over­reach. That’s why Lucas grew inter­est­ed in the Ham­monds in the first place. “We’re all about afford­able food and land use and per­son­al rights,” Duquette explained. The Ham­mond case “inter­sects per­fect­ly with the Pro­tect the Har­vest mis­sion.”
    ...

    But those close ties to mul­ti­ple Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials is just one ele­ment of Lucas’s lob­by­ing effort. It’s the pub­lic face of Pro­tect the Har­vest — which includes schol­ar­ships, films (filled with pro­ga­gand), film fes­ti­vals (for the pro­pa­gan­da films), race­track spon­sor­ships, and a gen­er­al pub­lic image as an orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed to fight­ing for the aver­age small farmer — that gives Pro­tect the Har­vest addi­tion­al lob­by­ing heft. Lucas has invest­ed a lot of mon­ey in recent years into mak­ing his orga­ni­za­tion arti­fi­cial­ly pop­u­lar. And, dis­turbing­ly, one of the pri­ma­ry issues Pro­tect the Har­vest has focused on as part of this ‘fight­ing for the lit­tle guy’ image is oppo­si­tion to ani­mal wel­fare laws. Espe­cial­ly pup­py mills:

    ...
    Pro­tect the Har­vest has built a pos­i­tive rap­port with the ag com­mu­ni­ty by spon­sor­ing schol­ar­ships and race­tracks and film fes­ti­vals. But the non­prof­it has also ben­e­fit­ed by inflam­ing the community’s anx­i­eties that a time-hon­ored way of life is com­ing to an end — while elid­ing the fact that its own lob­by­ing on behalf of cor­po­ra­tions and against reg­u­la­tions has has­tened the destruc­tion of that lifestyle.

    For those active in the agri­cul­tur­al world, Lucas has pri­mar­i­ly been known for his strong stance on ani­mal reg­u­la­tion, active­ly oppos­ing attempts to lim­it or mon­i­tor mis­treat­ment of pets and live­stock with laws that would, for exam­ple, estab­lish min­i­mum spac­ing for hen cages or veal calf pens, crack down on pup­py mills, or pre­vent inten­tion­al muti­la­tion of Ten­nessee walk­ing hors­es. A par­tic­u­lar tar­get of his efforts has been the Humane Soci­ety of the Unit­ed States — the nation­al orga­ni­za­tion that has spear­head­ed the vast major­i­ty of ini­tia­tives relat­ed to ani­mal reg­u­la­tion, and which Lucas has referred to as “ter­ror­ists.”
    ...

    And their dis­dain for laws pro­tect­ing dogs isn’t lim­it­ed to pup­py mill laws. Nebras­ka farmer Trent Loos — one of Pro­tect the Har­vest’s most vis­i­ble activists who also sits on Trump’s Agri­cul­tur­al Advi­so­ry Com­mit­tee and who host­ed Pro­tect the Har­vest “Range Rights” con­fer­ences — decried the Humane Soci­ety’s call for toughter ani­mal abuse leg­is­la­tion fol­low­ing the rev­e­la­tions of Michael Vick­’s dog­fight­ing as per­se­cut­ing Vick for “not ... treat­ing his dog like a kid.” So when they say they oppose ani­mal wel­fare laws, they pret­ty much oppose all of them:

    ...
    In Range mag­a­zine — an inde­pen­dent­ly owned quar­ter­ly pub­li­ca­tion full of beau­ti­ful rur­al land­scapes and essays about how “the U.S. gov­ern­ment has inflict­ed 40 years of abuse on Nevada’s Hage fam­i­ly” — Pro­tect the Har­vest now occu­pies about half of the ad space, pro­mot­ing Pro­tect the Har­vest films and the Ham­mond par­don. Part­ner­ing with Range, Pro­tect the Har­vest has helped fund three “Range Rights” con­fer­ences — in Lay­ton, Utah; in Belle­vue, Nebras­ka; and in Modesto, Cal­i­for­nia.

    The two-day con­fer­ence was found­ed in 2015 as a way to har­ness the ener­gy fol­low­ing the Bundys’ Mal­heur occu­pa­tion; atten­dants include a mix of Mal­heur devo­tees and local ranch­ers. In Modesto this April, the atten­dance hov­ered around 40, and half the atten­dees were speak­ers them­selves — but the real range rights audi­ence was online, where each of the speech­es was streamed in full. Rep. Devin Nunes, once part of the House Intel­li­gence Committee’s Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion, attacked the press; the local sher­iff empha­sized that his offi­cers knew to look the oth­er way when local ranch­ers had an unli­censed firearm. The daugh­ter of LaVoy Finicum spoke about the lega­cy of her father, the ranch­er who was killed by Ore­gon State Police in what have become heav­i­ly con­test­ed cir­cum­stances, effec­tive­ly ren­der­ing him a mar­tyr for the Bundy move­ment. Final­ly, Ammon Bundy preached the lat­est chap­ter in the family’s gospel, empha­siz­ing that envi­ron­men­tal­ists are “an ene­my to humans” prac­tic­ing their own hereti­cal reli­gion.

    The entire event was host­ed by Trent Loos, a Nebras­ka farmer, mem­ber of Pres­i­dent Trump’s Agri­cul­tur­al Advi­so­ry Com­mit­tee, and one of Pro­tect the Harvest’s most vis­i­ble activists, unit­ed with Lucas in his fierce oppo­si­tion to HSUS. (When HSUS began using Michael Vick’s role in dog­fight­ing and oth­er forms of ani­mal abuse to make the case for tougher leg­is­la­tion, Loos wrote that Vick was being per­se­cut­ed for “not ... treat­ing his dog like a kid.”) With his bushy mus­tache and ranch­ing vest, Loos — who plead­ed no con­test in 2005 to charges of cat­tle fraud — looks the part of the cow­boy, and will play one in a forth­com­ing PTH film. In Modesto, Loos took the stage with Nunes. “As a mem­ber of the ag com­mit­tee, we have a cer­tain lev­el of frus­tra­tion that we haven’t drained the swamp quick­er, that we still have old-school bureau­crats in the posi­tions of deci­sion-mak­ing,” he said. “So how do we get that fixed? Because obvi­ous­ly there’s a big­ger plug in the swamp than antic­i­pat­ed.”
    ...

    And these anti-ani­mal-rights views have been firm­ly embed­ded in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion from the begin­ning. One Trump tran­si­tion offi­cial, Bri­an Klip­pen­stein, Pro­tect the Har­vest’s for­mer exec­u­tive direc­tor, was dis­cov­ered to have sin­gle-hand­ed­ly tak­en on the respon­si­bil­i­ties nor­maly assigned to a 20-per­son tran­si­tion team. He was par­tic­u­lar­ly focused on thwart­ing cli­mate change research. Klip­pen­stein went on to become the senior advis­er to Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Son­ny Per­due, who has made weak­en­ing of ani­mal wel­fare pro­tec­tions a pri­or­i­ty:

    ...
    In 2012, Pro­tect the Har­vest filed paper­work with the FEC to cre­ate a polit­i­cal action com­mit­tee known as the Pro­tect the Har­vest Action Fund. Bri­an Klip­pen­stein — the son of a long­time Mis­souri state sen­a­tor, who’d spent the pre­vi­ous five years as then-sen­a­tor Kit Bond’s chief of staff — became the group’s exec­u­tive direc­tor. While Klip­pen­stein comes from a long ranch­ing her­itage, he has the pol­ish and hair­style of some­one who’s spent decades rub­bing elbows in DC. Accord­ing to his Pro­tect the Har­vest bio, Klip­pen­stein has “com­plet­ed over 50 marathons, includ­ing over a dozen 50-mil­ers and four sin­gle-day 100-milers…all fueled by a high-pro­tein diet cen­tered around nutri­ent-dense red meat.”

    ...

    At that point, Pro­tect the Har­vest had been work­ing to “unplug” the swamp for well over a year. When jour­nal­ist Michael Lewis began inves­ti­gat­ing the tran­si­tion offi­cials appoint­ed by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, he zeroed in on Bri­an Klippenstein’s USDA role. In an inter­view with Fresh Air, Lewis described Pro­tect the Har­vest as an orga­ni­za­tion that sees its job “as essen­tial­ly trolling the Humane Soci­ety,” and is “hyper­sen­si­tive to ani­mal rights peo­ple and tries to respond to ani­mal rights activists wher­ev­er it can.” USDA employ­ees found Klippenstein’s appoint­ment odd because, as Lewis put it, “one of the things the USDA does is stand up for the rights of ani­mals in ani­mal-peo­ple dis­putes.”

    Dog­fight­ing, cir­cus­es, ani­mal slaugh­ter, ani­mal test­ing — the USDA is charged with doc­u­ment­ing and mon­i­tor­ing those oper­a­tions. In the sub­se­quent weeks, Klip­pen­stein alone took on the respon­si­bil­i­ties of a tran­si­tion team that usu­al­ly would’ve been entrust­ed to a team of at least 20. Through his brief­in­gs, he became intent on fig­ur­ing out which of the exist­ing Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture employ­ees had been research­ing cli­mate change and its ram­i­fi­ca­tions.

    The request was denied, but Klip­pen­stein made his mark in oth­er ways. He now serves as a senior advis­er to Sec­re­tary of Agri­cul­ture Son­ny Per­due, who has over­seen the removal of USDA doc­u­ments detail­ing past ani­mal inspec­tions, enforce­ment actions, and annu­al reports on 7,800 dif­fer­ent facil­i­ties. The removal was prompt­ed by a law­suit, filed dur­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, alleg­ing that a report iden­ti­fy­ing Ten­nessee walk­ing horse own­ers as “vio­la­tors” of anti-sor­ing reg­u­la­tions impinged on their rights to due process and pri­va­cy. To address the suit, Per­due has removed all records.
    ...

    And the weak­en­ing of ani­mal abuse laws is just one front in Pro­tect the Har­vest’s mul­ti-faceted cam­paign to elim­i­nate any and all restric­tions on the abil­i­ty of big agri­cul­tur­al giants to do what they want. Reg­u­la­tions down to munic­i­pal spay­ing and neu­ter­ing ordi­nances are opposed too (should be great for the neglect­ful pup­py mills):

    ...
    But Lucas’s agen­da is hard­ly lim­it­ed to cage sizes and pup­py mills, as reflect­ed by his sup­port of the Ham­monds and, by exten­sion, the Bundys and oth­ers opposed to fed­er­al con­trol of pub­lic lands. And to get what he wants, Lucas has employed a high­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed lob­by­ing and mes­sag­ing machine, which does every­thing from fund­ing oppo­si­tion to munic­i­pal spay­ing and neu­ter­ing ordi­nances to orches­trat­ing “range rights” con­fer­ences, streamed live on Face­book to an audi­ence of thou­sands.
    ...

    It’s also hard not to notice that get­ting rid of spay­ing and neu­ter­ing laws is going to lead to a plen­ti­ful sup­ply of stray dogs and cats for things like dog­fight­ing, exper­i­ments, and what­ev­er else some­one might want to use a strayan­i­mal for since there will be no restric­tions on that. Ser­i­al killers in their ‘killing small ani­mals’ devel­op­men­tal phase will be super pleased.

    How suc­cess­ful will this pup­py mills + strays agen­da be? Well, con­sid­er­ing that there’s an entire movie stu­dio ded­i­cat­ed to pump­ing out enter­tain­ment that pro­motes the Pro­tect the Har­vest agen­da, don’t be super sur­prised if con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­cans start becom­ing pro-pup­py mill and anti-spay­ing and neu­ter­ing. Pro­pa­gan­da works and film stu­dios are real­ly good at that. Five films are cur­rent­ly in pro­duc­tion:

    ...
    Lucas’s film and tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion stu­dio, the Coro­na, California–based ESX Enter­tain­ment, cur­rent­ly has five films in pro­duc­tion — includ­ing Stand at Pax­ton Coun­ty described as the sto­ry of a ranch­er and his daugh­ter who “face off against state and local author­i­ties who by ques­tion­able means relieve local ranch­ers of their live­stock and way of life.”
    ...

    And, of course, Pro­tect the Har­vest has­n’t for­got­ten about the chil­dren. There’s a whole sep­a­rate pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign for them, includ­ing teach­ing cur­ricu­lum:

    ...
    Pro­tect the Har­vest has spent mil­lions pro­duc­ing web videos and memes that spread across the dozens of Bundy-adja­cent Face­book pages that have popped up in the last decade. It also focus­es on mes­sag­ing to chil­dren: There are anti-reg­u­la­to­ry Pro­tect the Har­vest col­or­ing activ­i­ty sheets, and a pro-ag Pro­tect the Harvest–branded teach­ing cur­ricu­lum avail­able for down­load on their web­site. In 2015, Lucas began pro­duc­ing fea­ture-length films — star­ring Hol­ly­wood actors like Sharon Stone, Jon Voight, and Jane Sey­mour — to pro­mote his strong­ly anti-reg­u­la­tion agen­da.
    ...

    Anti-reg­u­la­to­ry col­or­ing activ­i­ty sheets. That’s a thing thanks to Pro­tect the Har­vest.

    But even if the pub­lic rela­tions efforts fall flat, the direct con­nec­tions For­rest Lucas and Pro­tect the Har­vest have to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion are going to more or less guar­an­tee that For­rest Lucas is going to be writ­ing law when Repub­li­cans are in pow­er. Lucas him­self even made the short list for inte­ri­or sec­re­tary:

    ...
    After Trump took office, Lucas made the short list of poten­tial appointees for inte­ri­or sec­re­tary. Although Mon­tana Rep. Ryan Zinke ulti­mate­ly got the job, he has pro­vid­ed an open door to both Lucas and Pro­tect the Har­vest. Mean­while, Bri­an Klip­pen­stein, who is still list­ed as PTH’s exec­u­tive direc­tor, now works as senior advis­er to Per­due. Pence’s vice pres­i­den­cy has been a boon for Lucas, who, accord­ing to a Pro­tect the Har­vest spokesper­son, has been friends with Lucas since before he took the office of Indi­ana gov­er­nor.

    In addi­tion to Lucas’s own role as one of Trump’s agri­cul­tur­al advis­ers, pub­lic records indi­cate that Lucas met with Zinke in April 2017 to dis­cuss wild hors­es, graz­ing access issues, and nation­al mon­u­ment des­ig­na­tions. In Octo­ber, when Pence flew to attend an Indi­anapo­lis Colts game, abrupt­ly leav­ing when play­ers knelt dur­ing the nation­al anthem, he first spent time pos­ing for pho­tos with Lucas and Duquette. Pro­tect the Har­vest also has ties to for­mer EPA chief Scott Pruitt, who was a fea­tured speak­er at a Pro­tect the Har­vest event in Indi­anapo­lis on Jan. 26, 2016.
    ...

    And that direct access to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion com­bined with a high­ly cal­cu­lat­ing pub­lic rela­tions strat­e­gy of fram­ing Pro­tect the Har­vest’s Big Ag agen­da as some sort of pop­ulist grass roots move­ment means high pro­file sym­bol­ic suc­cess­es like get­ting the Ham­monds par­doned is unlike­ly to end with the par­don­ing of the Ham­monds. Lob­by­ing Trump to get the Ham­monds par­doned and hav­ing that hap­pen is poten­tial­ly PR gold for Lucas’s agen­da:

    ...
    Lucas’s invest­ment in the Ham­monds — and the Bundys, who’ve been invit­ed to Pro­tect the Harvest–sponsored forums — is a means to an end. They have become sym­bols of the way many rur­al Amer­i­cans feel they’ve been wronged by fed­er­al over­reach, and Lucas, much like Trump, lever­ages those feel­ings to build sup­port for one of his over­rid­ing goals: wide-scale dereg­u­la­tion of big busi­ness.

    This is the sto­ry of how For­rest Lucas became the behind-the-scenes archi­tect of a mul­ti­pronged polit­i­cal and pro­pa­gan­da machine — unknown to most Amer­i­cans, yet with an out­size influ­ence on the cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion and the way mil­lions think of their rur­al way of life, the indus­tries that shape it, and the government’s role with­in it.

    “This admin­is­tra­tion has been pret­ty good at ask­ing for prob­lems,” Duquette explained. “And then address­ing them.” The Ham­mond par­don is the first such Pro­tect the Har­vest “prob­lem” that’s been direct­ly addressed on the nation­al stage. But with Lucas’s direct access to mul­ti­ple wings of the admin­is­tra­tion, it’s unlike­ly to be the last.
    ...

    Adding to the inher­ent irony of a mul­ti-mil­lion­aire (the Lucas fam­i­ly’s is worth ~$300 mil­lion) financ­ing a vast pro­pa­gan­da enter­prise to sell a pro-biggest busi­ness move­ment as pop­ulist is the fact that Lucas’s pri­ma­ry busi­ness inter­est is in oil addi­tives. It was after he got rich with Lucas Oil that Lucas pur­chased a cat­tle ranch. It’s a reminder how, much like the Koch broth­ers self-inter­est in see­ing fed­er­al land dereglat­ed and pri­va­tized in part over increased access to oil deposits, the pow­er­ful inter­ests behind the assault on agri­cul­ture reg­u­la­tions aren’t lim­it­ed to pow­er­ful agri­cul­ture inter­ests. Lots of inter­ests, like the oil and min­ing inter­ests, would love to see the pri­va­ti­za­tion of fed­er­al lands and dereg­u­la­tion of the busi­ness done on those lands. Lucas is just a notably suc­cess­ful mul­ti-mil­lion­aire in that broad­er pro-biggest-busi­ness oli­garchic agen­da:

    ...
    Lucas didn’t make his for­tune on trucks. He made it on oil addi­tives, cre­at­ed using a “secret for­mu­la” that Lucas claims to have dis­cov­ered almost by acci­dent and which, his com­pa­ny claims, has seem­ing­ly mirac­u­lous effects on the per­for­mance of engines: It reduces wear, length­ens engine life, improves gas mileage, and makes motors run qui­eter, among oth­er things. Lucas Oil is mar­ket­ed to car afi­ciona­dos, gear­heads, and truck­ers with aging rigs.

    In the ’80s, Lucas Oil began putting its logo on race cars as a means of adver­tis­ing. The Lucas­es bought a cat­tle ranch in Cross Tim­bers, Mis­souri, that has grown to 15,000 acres, with over 3,000 cat­tle. They opened an oil pro­cess­ing plant in Coro­na, Cal­i­for­nia, and a sec­ond one in Cory­don, Indi­ana, where they also pur­chased the local rail­road. In 2011, Lucas acquired a tele­vi­sion chan­nel, MAVTV, and filled it with races fea­tur­ing cars embla­zoned with the Lucas Oil logo. “I real­ized sev­er­al years ago that peo­ple were start­ing to [skip] com­mer­cials,” Lucas told Autoweek. “We need­ed to be in the TV show itself, more so than just be on the car.”

    Lucas began to acquire the entire means of pro­duc­tion: He spon­sored the cars, he built or bought the tracks, he owned the broad­cast­ing net­work, and when the pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny he’d employed to make com­mer­cials went bank­rupt, he bought their gear and trained his load­ing dock employ­ees to oper­ate it, mov­ing to a dilap­i­dat­ed Sunkist fac­to­ry in Coro­na. By 2012, at least 700 dif­fer­ent rac­ing teams wore the Lucas Oil logo; today, many of those teams have tran­si­tioned to wear­ing the logo for Pro­tect the Har­vest. It’s ver­ti­cal inte­gra­tion, done the Lucas way: first to pro­mote his oil brand, now to pro­mote his ide­o­log­i­cal one.

    “The thing that’s inter­est­ing about Lucas — I don’t think any­one real­izes what kind of reach he has,” a cor­re­spon­dent for Speed mag­a­zine said in 2012. Apart from the rac­ing, Lucas’s name and brand is broad­cast into mil­lions of homes every week via nation­al­ly tele­vised games at Lucas Oil Sta­di­um. The $121.5 mil­lion gam­bit, which affix­es the Lucas Oil name to the sta­di­um where the Indi­anapo­lis Colts play until 2028, launched Lucas and his sec­ond wife, Char­lotte, onto the radar of the Indi­ana elite. Sud­den­ly, the farm boy was a per­son to know.
    ...

    It’s also impor­tant to note how rapid­ly Lucas was able to build up his propaganda/lobbying enter­prise: he only start­ed jump­ing into the polit­i­cal influ­ence busi­ness in 2010, when he relo­cat­ed from Cal­i­for­nia to his home state of Indi­ana and began donat­ing to then-Indi­ana gov­er­nor Mike Pence. 2010 was also the year he jumped into direct­ly financ­ing cam­paigns to weak­en ani­mal wel­fare reg­u­la­tions when he financed the oppo­si­tion to a Mis­souri ref­er­en­dum known as the “pup­py mill bill”. It’s been just eight years since Lucas start­ed on this jour­ney of defend­ing pup­py mills and Pro­tect the Har­vest is now basi­cal­ly in charge of US agri­cul­ture pol­i­cy:

    ...
    To under­stand why an incred­i­bly wealthy man like Lucas would care about the fate of a pair of Ore­gon ranch­ers, you have to con­sid­er the con­cept of “the har­vest” as Lucas is using it: a stand-in for every­thing from actu­al crop yields to what he views as the fun­da­men­tal right to make a liv­ing as one sees fit off the land. In tax fil­ings, Pro­tect the Har­vest describes its mis­sion as edu­ca­tion­al: “to ensure accu­rate infor­ma­tion is com­mu­ni­cat­ed to the gen­er­al pub­lic with the rise of var­i­ous groups threat­en­ing to end mod­ern agri­cul­ture and hunt­ing in the Unit­ed States.”

    In prac­tice, this “accu­rate infor­ma­tion” has cen­tered on a clus­ter of issues that are close­ly tied to Big Ag’s pri­or­i­ties: por­tray­ing ani­mal rights activists and envi­ron­men­tal­ists as out-of-touch lib­er­als bent on end­ing the rur­al way of life; char­ac­ter­iz­ing reg­u­la­tion and fed­er­al over­sight, par­tic­u­lar­ly on pub­lic lands, as a means of cur­tail­ing Amer­i­can lib­er­ty; and advo­cat­ing for and pro­vid­ing plat­forms for pub­lic fig­ures — such as the Ham­monds — to func­tion as sym­bols of wide­spread per­se­cu­tion of the ag com­mu­ni­ty.

    That this appa­ra­tus was built in just eight years, by a man with lit­tle in the way of a vis­i­ble polit­i­cal pro­file, is a tes­ta­ment to what a few mil­lion dol­lars can do in our cur­rent Amer­i­can ide­o­log­i­cal land­scape. And while Lucas may seem like an unlike­ly polit­i­cal fig­ure, his “all-Amer­i­can” rise, and the obsta­cles that defined it, go a long way toward explain­ing the ardor and anger fuel­ing his cause.

    ...

    The Indi­anapo­lis elite began active­ly court­ing his full-time return from Cal­i­for­nia, where he’d been run­ning Lucas Oil for decades. “For­rest would be a big fish in this pond,” then-may­or Bart Peter­son told Indi­anapo­lis Month­ly in 2007. “He would be some­body who would be noticed, because of his roots, and the fact that he’s proud of those roots.” In 2010, the Lucas­es pur­chased a sprawl­ing man­sion, known as Le Chateau Renais­sance, out­side of Indi­anapo­lis, with the pri­ma­ry inten­tion to use it for fundrais­ers and ben­e­fits. He added a 220,000-square-foot expan­sion to his Indi­ana plant, effec­tive­ly mak­ing it the home base for Lucas Oil oper­a­tions. Sev­en decades removed from an elec­tric­i­ty-less farm in Elkinsville, Indi­ana, For­rest Lucas had arrived.

    Like many who find their for­tunes secure, Lucas decid­ed to throw his new­found influ­ence around. He began donat­ing to polit­i­cal fig­ures — to then-gov­er­nor Pence, but also to mul­ti­ple rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Mis­souri, where Lucas ran a cat­tle ranch. It was there, in 2010, that he took on his first major polit­i­cal fight against Missouri’s Propo­si­tion B, col­lo­qui­al­ly known as the “pup­py mill bill.” The bill aimed to lim­it dog breed­ing facil­i­ties to 50 unspayed/unneutered ani­mals, which would effec­tive­ly elim­i­nate the “pup­py mill” indus­try in the states where such facil­i­ties are most con­cen­trat­ed.
    ...

    And the fact that Lucas’s push to stop the 2010 Mis­souri “pup­py mill bill” failed mere­ly embold­ened him to expand his pro­pa­gan­da capac­i­ties is a reminder that the US has only begun to feel the impact of the unlim­it­ed polit­i­cal spend­ing unleashed by Cit­i­zens Unit­ed and the over­all weak­en­ing of US polit­i­cal spend­ing laws. When an oli­garch gets a pet issue that they’ll throw effec­tive­ly unlim­it­ed sums of mon­ey at they can achieve incred­i­ble influ­ence in short order. Even when that pet issue is the free­dom to run a pup­py mill. But as the arti­cle also notes, when an embold­ened Lucas respond­ed to the loss in Mis­souri as a rea­son to build a larg­er orga­ni­za­tion he teamed up with oth­er ag pro­duc­ers. Pro­tect the Har­vest was a big ag lob­by­ing shop, and not just Lucas’s per­son­al project, from the begin­ning:

    ...
    For out­siders, reg­u­lat­ing dog breed­ing and pre­vent­ing abus­es might seem like an easy call, but to dog breed­ers, it felt like a threat to their way of life. The fight over Propo­si­tion B became a proxy for a much larg­er bat­tle, between ani­mal rights activists — and HSUS in par­tic­u­lar — and the agri­cul­tur­al indus­try writ large. Prop B ulti­mate­ly passed with 51.59% of the vote — only to be over­turned by the Mis­souri leg­is­la­ture. The strug­gle over Propo­si­tion B embold­ened Lucas. Togeth­er with oth­er ag pro­duc­ers, he con­struct­ed a blue­print for a larg­er orga­ni­za­tion that would pro­mote the inter­ests of agri­cul­ture. “We’ve got to go on the offense,” Erik Hel­land, then-major­i­ty whip of the Iowa House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and one of ear­ly archi­tects of this orga­ni­za­tion, said. “We’ve got to start stak­ing out ag turf.”
    ...

    And then the Pro­tect the Har­vest Action Fund was formed in 2012 for for­mal gov­ern­ment polit­i­cal lob­by­ing, with $4 mil­lion spent on influ­ence and loby­ing activ­i­ties from 2012–2016. And what the lob­by­ing focused on? Most­ly thwart­ing the humane soci­ety. Ani­mal wel­fare laws are clear­ly threat­en­ing to ‘the har­vest’:

    ...
    Between 2012 and 2016, the lat­est year for which tax returns are avail­able, Pro­tect the Har­vest Action Fund has spent close to $4 mil­lion on influ­ence and lob­by­ing activ­i­ties. (All tax fil­ings are avail­able here.) Since 2012, the vast major­i­ty of Pro­tect the Harvest’s PAC mon­ey has been direct­ed toward sup­port­ing “Right to Farm” leg­is­la­tion and com­bat­ing ini­tia­tives, most of them spear­head­ed by the HSUS, that Lucas’s group sees as infring­ing upon agri­cul­tur­al lib­er­ty. The lan­guage of con­tem­po­rary Right to Farm amend­ments guar­an­tees farm­ers and ranch­ers the right to engage in their liveli­hoods and pro­duce food for oth­ers. If that sounds vague, it’s pur­pose­ful: It’s less intend­ed to address a cur­rent threat than future ones. In prac­tice, it helps bol­ster the feel­ing that an indus­try is vul­ner­a­ble.
    ...

    It’s also worth not­ing how Pro­tect the Har­vest pred­i­cat­ed its argu­ment in favor of a “Right to Farm” amend­ment to the Mis­souri state con­sti­tu­tion based on nat­ur­al law arg­ments. The right to do busi­ness with­out reg­u­la­tions is a God-giv­en right and needs to be cod­i­fied into law in order to make man’s laws fit with nat­ur­al law:

    ...
    Pro­tect the Harvest’s first for­ay into the fray came in Mis­souri, where it offered broad media sup­port for a 2014 Right to Farm amend­ment, copied from a 2012 ver­sion draft­ed in North Dako­ta. For that cam­paign, Lucas enlist­ed then–state sen­a­tor Mike Par­son, who is now gov­er­nor, and to whom Lucas has giv­en more than $175,000 in cam­paign dona­tions. The two men first con­nect­ed in 2010, dur­ing the cam­paign against Propo­si­tion B. After it passed, Par­son, whose dis­trict includ­ed Lucas’s cat­tle ranch and one of his speed­ways, spon­sored the leg­is­la­tion that effec­tive­ly defanged the bill. From 2013 to 2015, Par­son served as the trea­sur­er of Pro­tect the Har­vest, and when Par­son ran for lieu­tenant gov­er­nor in 2016, Lucas and his wife cam­paigned along­side him; after he won, he framed a Pro­tect the Har­vest poster in his office.

    In North Dako­ta, the Right to Farm amend­ment had sailed to an easy vic­to­ry, win­ning two-thirds of the vote. But in Mis­souri, it was hot­ly con­test­ed. One pub­lic radio sto­ry framed it as pit­ting “farmer against farmer,” leav­ing lit­tle way for small pro­duc­ers to defend against the incur­sion and growth of larg­er ones. Pro­tect the Har­vest argued, “Our rights don’t come from gov­ern­ment. They are God-giv­en free­doms that come with our human­i­ty. How­ev­er, bureau­crats and activist judges have made it clear that they will not respect those rights unless they are cod­i­fied in statutes or con­sti­tu­tions.” Togeth­er, both sides spent a total of $1.5 mil­lion on mes­sag­ing. The amend­ment bare­ly passed, eking out 50.12% of the final vote.
    ...

    It’s also worth not­ing the big defeat the Pro­tect the Har­vest and the “Right to Farm (with­out reg­u­la­tions or over­sight)” move­ment expe­ri­enced in Okla­homa, with pub­lic aware­ness of the preda­to­ry nature of the dri­ve — it would have made it impos­si­bel to act if and when agri­cul­tur­al busi­ness­es pol­lut­ed or oth­er­wise threat­ened a water source — lead­ing to a big 20 point defeat for the amend­ment. Pro­tect the Har­vest’s agen­da isn’t actu­al­ly pop­u­lar when the pub­lic is aware of its real pri­or­i­ties, hence the need for movie stu­dios and direct lob­by­ing:

    ...
    A ver­sion of the amend­ment then migrat­ed to Okla­homa, where Pro­tect the Har­vest was joined in sup­port by the Okla­homa Cattlemen’s Asso­ci­a­tion, the Okla­homa Farm Bureau, and the Okla­homa Pork Coun­cil. Their oppo­si­tion, led by HSUS, the Sier­ra Club, the ASPCA, and the Okla­homa Food Coop­er­a­tive, argued that the bill, SQ 777, would make it impos­si­ble to act if and when ag pol­lut­ed or oth­er­wise threat­ened a water source or the land.

    “I work with fam­i­ly farm­ers from all over the state,” said Adam Price, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Okla­homa Food Coop­er­a­tive. “And I can say with absolute cer­tain­ty that SQ 777 was not con­ceived with them in mind.” The “yes” argu­ment was crys­tal­lized in a tele­vi­sion ad cre­at­ed by Pro­tect the Har­vest: “Have you seen the ads attack­ing 777? ALL LIES. Paid for by the same out-of-state ani­mal rights groups that oppose the right to hunt and fish.”

    In the end, the Yes side lost by 20 points — the first major defeat for the new wave of Right to Farm leg­is­la­tion and Pro­tect the Har­vest. Bri­an Jones, an attor­ney who spent a year work­ing for the “no” side, links the amendment’s fail­ure to reac­ti­vat­ed mem­o­ry: “Most peo­ple in Okla­homa have an agri­cul­tur­al her­itage, mean­ing their grand­par­ents or par­ents were farm­ers,” he told Buz­zFeed News. “One of the con­se­quences of the indus­tri­al­iza­tion of ag is that few­er and few­er peo­ple are involved in it. Most of what is out there, in the mar­ket right now, is Big Ag.”

    Dur­ing this same peri­od in the ’90s, there was enor­mous con­sol­i­da­tion in ag pro­duc­tion — basi­cal­ly, big farms buy­ing up small­er ones — that marked an end to many farm­ing fam­i­lies’ way of life. “There were some fights about all this back then,” Jones said. “But 777 reraised all these ques­tions: Where did the jobs go? What hap­pened to the peo­ple?”

    In Mis­souri, Pro­tect the Har­vest had effec­tive­ly mobi­lized those rur­al anx­i­eties, paper­ing over the role of larg­er indus­tri­al and leg­isla­tive forces that had end­ed that way of life years before. In Okla­homa, that project failed — but their defeat has only served to bol­ster Pro­tect the Harvest’s argu­ment that out­siders are deter­mined to fight against one’s “right to farm.” (In an email to Buz­zFeed News, a spokesman respond­ed to a ques­tion about the effects of dereg­u­la­tion on small farms with the fol­low­ing state­ment: “Pro­tect the Har­vest sup­ports all forms of agri­cul­ture. Our mis­sion is to edu­cate and inform the pub­lic about issues that impact our Amer­i­can tra­di­tions, her­itage and way of life. There are many over­reach­ing reg­u­la­tions that impact farms, both large and small which ulti­mate­ly affect the Amer­i­can pub­lic as both large and small farms feed our nation.”)
    ...

    And while the defeat of that Okla­homa amende­ment was good news, it’s not like Lucas and Pro­tect the Har­vest haven’t already ulti­mate­ly won now that they are basi­cal­ly in con­trol of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s agri­cul­ture pol­i­cy.

    Plus, the pro­pa­gan­da effects of things like the movie stu­dio are only going to build over time, so who knows how many addi­tion­al peo­ple are going to even­tu­al­ly be sold on “Right to Farm (with­out get­ting sued for pol­lu­tion)” leg­is­la­tion in com­ing years. And in case it was­n’t clear, the movie stu­dio isn’t run on a for-prof­it basis. Prof­its are sec­ondary. It’s run on a for-mes­sag­ing basis to pro­mate Pro­tect the Har­vest’s ide­ol­o­gy. Lucas is open about this:

    ...
    ESX films are reg­u­lar­ly panned by crit­ics, do not receive the­atri­cal releas­es, and go straight to video or VOD. But prof­its, accord­ing to Lucas, are sec­ondary. They’re reach­ing an audi­ence: ag fam­i­lies who don’t feel that their way of life is rep­re­sent­ed accu­rate­ly onscreen, and those who may not know a thing about agri­cul­ture but will be called upon to vote or think about the issues rep­re­sent­ed in the films. Watch The Dog Lover, for exam­ple, with­out much under­stand­ing of the dog breed­ing indus­try, and it’s easy to believe that “pup­py mills” are an idea con­coct­ed by manip­u­la­tive ani­mal rights activists who have no idea what they’re talk­ing about.
    ...

    And those cor­po­rate pri­or­i­ties for the film stu­dio are why we should­n’t be sur­prised to learn that the films include mes­sages like ani­mal rights activists are more dan­ger­ous to pup­pies than pup­py mills:

    ...
    Lucas has repeat­ed­ly referred to HSUS and ani­mal rights activists as “ter­ror­ists” intent on “pass­ing laws to ruin Amer­i­ca” that delib­er­ate­ly impugn the small-time farmer’s way of life. Lucas’s polit­i­cal dona­tions and Pro­tect the Harvest’s mes­sag­ing around bal­lot ini­tia­tives under­lined that ide­ol­o­gy. But to make those ide­olo­gies even more robust and per­sua­sive required some­thing more effec­tive than polit­i­cal ads. They need­ed pro­pa­gan­da.

    Pro­pa­gan­da is any­thing from a pam­phlet to a tele­vi­sion pro­gram that attempts to make an argu­ment for a par­tic­u­lar polit­i­cal stance, whether on the right, left, or cen­ter — but much of it can be heavy-hand­ed, sim­plis­tic, or mis­lead­ing. When it comes to agri­cul­ture and ani­mal rights issues, both sides of the issue pro­duce pro­pa­gan­da. But only one side has its own film stu­dio.

    When Lucas first start­ed pro­duc­ing tele­vi­sion pro­gram­ming for his tele­vi­sion chan­nel, the focus was vehi­cles to broad­en his company’s name recog­ni­tion. “We got into the enter­tain­ment busi­ness to sell oil,” Lucas once said. “And noth­ing is more enter­tain­ing than fast cars, trucks, planes, and boats.” By 2015, his inten­tions had expand­ed. “For me, ven­tur­ing into the film busi­ness is not about mon­ey, glam­our or fun,” Lucas said. “It’s about being able to deliv­er mes­sages and hav­ing a viable vehi­cle to do so.”

    But what sort of “mes­sages” did Lucas want to trans­mit? Pro­tect the Har­vest mes­sages. Last year’s Pray for Rain, star­ring Jane Sey­mour, sug­gests that cor­rupt envi­ron­men­tal­ists, in league with shady gang­sters, are pro­long­ing the ter­ri­ble drought afflict­ing Cen­tral Cal­i­for­nia and threat­en­ing the liveli­hoods of des­per­ate local farm­ers. Run­ning Wild, also from 2017 and star­ring Sharon Stone — who also copro­duced — depicts a wild horse advo­cate, whom Lau­ra Leigh believes is loose­ly based on her, as an evil vil­lain try­ing to shut down a horse reha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram. The 2016 film The Dog Lover, fea­tur­ing Lea Thomp­son, involves a young woman who vol­un­teers with an ani­mal pro­tec­tion group to go under­cov­er at a pup­py mill — only to dis­cov­er that the orga­ni­za­tion is far more dan­ger­ous than the “mill” itself, which, turns out, is actu­al­ly a kind­heart­ed breed­ing oper­a­tion.
    ...

    “The 2016 film The Dog Lover, fea­tur­ing Lea Thomp­son, involves a young woman who vol­un­teers with an ani­mal pro­tec­tion group to go under­cov­er at a pup­py mill — only to dis­cov­er that the orga­ni­za­tion is far more dan­ger­ous than the “mill” itself, which, turns out, is actu­al­ly a kind­heart­ed breed­ing oper­a­tion.”

    This is what hap­pens when peo­ple with basi­cal­ly unlim­it­ed resources get into pol­i­tics. The Dog Lover.

    The film stu­dio even made a biog­ra­phy of For­rest Lucas him­self, although it sounds like that may have been in part dam­age con­trol fol­low­ing his wife’s anti-minori­ties Face­book tirade:

    ...
    The fea­ture films are only one arm of Pro­tect the Harvest’s mes­sag­ing appa­ra­tus. Back in 2014, Lucas com­mis­sioned a doc­u­men­tary about his life (pro­duced by adver­tis­ing com­pa­ny MARC USA), which screened at the Heart­land Film Fes­ti­val. (Ear­li­er that month, Lucas’s wife, Char­lotte, had drawn nation­al atten­tion for a Face­book post, lat­er delet­ed, that declared, “I’m sick and tired of minori­ties run­ning our coun­try! As far as I’m con­cerned, I don’t think that athe­ists (minor­i­ty), mus­lims (minor­i­ty) or any oth­er minor­i­ty group has the right to tell the major­i­ty of peo­ple in the Unit­ed States what they can and can­not do here. Is every­one so scared that they can’t fight for what’s right or wrong with this coun­try?”)

    The day after the Face­book post, Lucas — who has pre­vi­ous­ly acknowl­edged that his work­force is large­ly com­posed of immi­grantsissued a full-page apol­o­gy in the Indi­anapo­lis Star for his wife’s post, explain­ing that it did not “reflect the feel­ings in her heart,” and under­lin­ing that Lucas Oil “is proud to have employ­ees, friends, cus­tomers, and busi­ness part­ners reflect­ing eth­nic and racial diver­si­ty.”
    ...

    And that mas­sive new pro­pa­gan­da force that For­rest Lucas and his Big Ag part­ners put togeth­er over the last eight years is what appears to be behind the par­don­ing of the Ham­monds. And, yes, Trump’s desire to nor­mal­ize par­don­ing for the sake of his own legal trou­bles no doubt played a role. But the fact that Pro­tect the Har­vest is so close to the Trump orga­ni­za­tion undoubt­ed­ly played a major role. It’s a con­text that high­lights one of the most impor­tant dimen­sions of the debate over what kind of say the pub­lic, via the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, should have over fed­er­al lands: the hyper-pop­ulist brand­ing of the Bundys and Ham­monds is real­ly, real­ly valu­able to pow­er­ful pri­vate inter­ests because they share the same over­all pol­i­cy goals. The Ham­monds want almost no fed­er­al involve­ment in pub­lic lands, the Bundys want almost no fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, and pow­er­ful busi­ness inter­ests like Lucas and the Kochs want all of that too because they can then step in an replace the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment as the new con­trol­ling enti­ty.

    So that’s all impor­tant to keep in mind with the par­don­ing of the Ham­monds: the pro-pup­py mill guy pulled a lot of strings to make sure it hap­pened because it’s very use­ful pro­pa­gan­da in fur­ther­ance of his pro-oli­garch agen­da. #Par­don­TheP­up­pies

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 15, 2018, 11:01 pm
  46. Here’s a set of arti­cles about Ammon Bundy that touch­es upon both the gun con­trol debate in the US and also the immi­gra­tion debate and the GOP’s embrace of the demo­niza­tion of Cen­tral Amer­i­can asy­lum seek­ers:

    For starters, Ammon got a new AR-15. It was the first new gun he pur­chased since being released from fed­er­al cus­tody in 2018 fol­low­ing his acquit­tal. Yep, the guy who led not just one, but two, armed stand­offs against law enforce­ment offi­cers and got off on a tech­ni­cal­i­ty in one case and jury nul­li­fi­ca­tion in the oth­er case, can still by AR-15s. And he did­n’t pur­chase the semi-auto­mat­ic rifle direct­ly from some­one in a pri­vate sale that avoid­ed a back­ground check. He bought the gun from a gun store and passed the back­ground check. Although not right away. Instead, Ammon was ini­tial­ly denied the gun pur­chase after fail­ing the back­ground check. But the gun store just informed Ammon that the FBI changed its mind for unex­plained rea­sons:

    The Ida­ho States­man

    Ammon Bundy says FBI has reversed its deci­sion after back­ground check, OKs his AR-15 pur­chase

    By Cyn­thia Sewell
    Sep­tem­ber 04, 2019 12:03 PM, Updat­ed Sep­tem­ber 05, 2019 09:59 PM

    The FBI appar­ent­ly has changed its mind and decid­ed to approve Ammon Bundy’s pur­chase of firearm after ini­tial­ly deny­ing the sale after a back­ground check, accord­ing to Bundy.

    On Aug. 31, Bundy failed a fed­er­al back­ground check to pur­chase an AR-15 rifle at D&B Sup­ply in Emmett.

    Bundy record­ed on video the attempt­ed pur­chase and post­ed it to social media.

    Bundy, who led an armed takeover of a fed­er­al wildlife refuge in Ore­gon in 2016 and par­tic­i­pat­ed in a fed­er­al stand­off at his family’s ranch in Neva­da in 2014, was charged with numer­ous felonies, but was nev­er con­vict­ed.

    On Wednes­day morn­ing, Bundy post­ed a new video to social media in which he replays a voice mes­sage he received from a D&B Sup­ply employ­ee.

    “I just want to let you know that we received a call from NICS today and they over­turned your orig­i­nal results, so it is now a ‘pro­ceed.’ You are wel­come to stop in and pick up that rifle any­time you like,” states the mes­sage.

    The mes­sage did not state why the FBI decid­ed to approve the back­ground check, and it is unclear why Bundy ini­tial­ly failed the back­ground check. The store told Bundy it does not have that infor­ma­tion.

    ...

    “I don’t know exact­ly what to think about that,” Bundy said in the video about the FBI’s rever­sal. “I don’t know whether to cel­e­brate or to be real­ly con­cerned.”

    Bundy con­tin­ued, “If some­one in the FBI is try­ing to do the right thing, then I am grate­ful for that. ... but are they just mak­ing a tac­ti­cal move to make it so that I do not have any stand­ing in the courts, so that I can­not go and sue them because now they over­turned it real­ly quick and now, accord­ing to their rules, I can go pur­chase gun and so I have no stand­ing to sue them?”

    Bundy told the States­man on Wednes­day he is not sure if he will buy the rifle because peo­ple have giv­en him parts to build his own AR-15.

    “I may go that route and not pur­chase one at a fed­er­al con­trol facil­i­ty,” he said.

    Bundy said Tues­day he is con­cerned about the integri­ty of the fed­er­al back­ground check sys­tem when it denies some­one who has no felony con­vic­tions.

    Accord­ing to a U.S. Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­i­ty Office report, in 2017, NICS processed 8.6 mil­lion back­ground checks. Of those, just 112,090 were denied.

    Bundy told the States­man this is the first time he has tried to pur­chase a firearm since he was released from fed­er­al cus­tody in Jan­u­ary 2018.

    When fed­er­al author­i­ties arrest­ed Bundy in Ore­gon, they seized any prop­er­ty he had with him, includ­ing his wed­ding ring and sev­er­al firearms. Bundy said even though the tri­als have end­ed with no con­vic­tions, those items have not been returned to him, which, in part, is why he went to pur­chase a semi-auto­mat­ic rifle on Sat­ur­day.

    ———-

    “Ammon Bundy says FBI has reversed its deci­sion after back­ground check, OKs his AR-15 pur­chase” by Cyn­thia Sewell; The Ida­ho States­man; 09/04/2019

    ““I just want to let you know that we received a call from NICS today and they over­turned your orig­i­nal results, so it is now a ‘pro­ceed.’ You are wel­come to stop in and pick up that rifle any­time you like,” states the mes­sage.”

    It is now a ‘pro­ceed’ for Ammon Bundy’s gun pur­chas­es. We don’t know what exact­ly the rea­son was for the ini­tial denial and we don’t know why he’s now allowed to pro­ceed with the pur­chase. We just know that he failed the back­ground check ini­tial­ly and some­one at the FBI decid­ed to reverse that deci­sion.

    And note how Ammon did­n’t actu­al­ly need to pass this back­ground check to get an AR-15 because peo­ple have already giv­en him the parts to build his own. In oth­er words, the back­ground check was­n’t actu­al­ly a hur­dle for his get­ting a new gun. It was more like a cour­tesy:

    ...
    “I don’t know exact­ly what to think about that,” Bundy said in the video about the FBI’s rever­sal. “I don’t know whether to cel­e­brate or to be real­ly con­cerned.”

    Bundy con­tin­ued, “If some­one in the FBI is try­ing to do the right thing, then I am grate­ful for that. ... but are they just mak­ing a tac­ti­cal move to make it so that I do not have any stand­ing in the courts, so that I can­not go and sue them because now they over­turned it real­ly quick and now, accord­ing to their rules, I can go pur­chase gun and so I have no stand­ing to sue them?”

    Bundy told the States­man on Wednes­day he is not sure if he will buy the rifle because peo­ple have giv­en him parts to build his own AR-15.

    “I may go that route and not pur­chase one at a fed­er­al con­trol facil­i­ty,” he said.
    ...

    So now we know: if you open­ly lead mul­ti­ple armed stand­offs against the gov­ern­ment but man­age to avoid a felony con­vic­tions in cas­es that were wide­ly seen as slam dunks for the pros­e­cu­tion based on the facts of the case, you’ll still pass a back­ground check. And as we can see from the fol­low­ing arti­cle from Jan­u­ary of 2018, right after Ammon was released from fed­er­al cus­tody fol­low­ing his acquit­tal in the pros­e­cu­tion over the 2014 stand­off at the Bundy ranch after a judge threw out the case over pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­takes, Ammon has been very open about his will­ing­ness to wage future armed stand­offs against the gov­ern­ment if he feels the need to do so. So you can wage mul­ti­ple armed stand­offs, get acquit­ted on tech­ni­cal­i­ty, and then open­ly declare your will­ing­ness to do it again and still pass a back­ground check:

    Buz­zFeed News

    This Man Led Two Armed Stand­offs Against The Gov­ern­ment, And He Says He’d Do It Again

    Whether in pub­lic office or anoth­er armed stand­off, Ammon Bundy tells Buz­zFeed News he’s deter­mined to con­tin­ue his fight against the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.

    Sal­vador Her­nan­dez Buz­zFeed News Reporter

    Post­ed on Jan­u­ary 18, 2018, at 9:38 p.m. ET

    Ammon Bundy, the for­mer Neva­da ranch­er who twice led an armed stand­off against fed­er­al agents and twic