Tag Archives: Bundy

Amodei’s Land Grab

Amodei Privatization Land “Congressman Mark Amodei will give an update to the Elko City Council Tuesday on possible issues that might impact the City and Elko County, according to Assistant City Manager Scott Wilkinson.

Amodei’s topics have not been outlined for the City. However, past subjects have included lands issues and sage grouse.” [EDFP]

If he’s set on discussing land issues, then we might guess he’s off to thread another precarious choice between the Bundyite Bunch and the BLM.  Back in late April, 2014 Representative Amodei was praising the BLM for backing off the confrontation with the Rampant Bundys, recalling his words:

“That is a leadership-type thing where you say, ‘We are getting our butts kicked and we are taking our team off the field and getting out of the stadium,'” Amodei said, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. “It’s not a win, but probably the right thing to do under the circumstances.” [LVSun]

Two years later Amodei’s tone changed, he didn’t support the Bundys and he definitely didn’t want to be labeled anti-park:

“Amodei, however, said the (1) report attempts to use the Bundy sideshow to score political points rather than take a serious look at important issues such as (2) land access, ecosystem health and local economies.

“They don’t speak for me on anything to do with public lands,” Amodei said of Bundy and his acolytes. (3) “I want it to be about the resources, not about some guy who is or isn’t paying his grazing fees.” [RGJ] (numbering added)

Parse with us now. (1) When faced with a report bearing uncomfortable factual inclusions, such as Amodei’s opposition to funding and maintaining national parks and monuments, deflect the issue to the Bundy Bunch – who want no federal involvement in public land administration (grazing, forests, parks, monuments, …) and announce one’s inclination to talk about substantive land issues.  The 2nd District Representative had an opportunity to vote on the SHARE Act, a privatization proposal in Congress this year, but was absent for the vote.

“Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA) sponsored H.R. 2406, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act of 2015, which contains harmful measures undermining the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Wilderness Act, and other bedrock environmental laws. The bill includes language that could allow the use of motorized vehicles, road construction, and other forms of development within protected wilderness areas, and it blocks input from public stakeholders in National Wildlife Refuge management decisions. This legislation also includes provisions that would weaken the EPA’s ability to regulate toxic lead in ammunition, fishing equipment. Additionally, this bill would undermine international commitments to combat ivory trafficking, thwarts our ability to effectively manage marine resources, and cuts the public out of management decisions impacting hundreds of millions of acres of public lands. On February 26, the House approved H.R. 2406 by a vote of 242-161 (House roll call vote 101). NO IS THE PRO-ENVIRONMENT VOTE.” [LCV] (emphasis added)

(2) Representative Amodei has the big three listed — “land access, ecosystem health, and local economies.” However, in terms of access notice the underlining in the SHARE bill – when management decisions are to be made the PUBLIC is cut out of the process. This raises the question that if we are speaking of public access to public lands and the public is cut out of the management decision process, then whose access are we talking about?  Since the GOP sponsored bill passed the GOP controlled Congress, then it’s reasonable to assume the GOP doesn’t want input from PUBLIC organizations concerning management decisions – leaving the field (literally?) to the mining, logging, privatization, and other commercial interests?

And, if rivers are dredged or fouled, forests are cut down, wildlife is endangered, hunters are denied access, fishing enthusiasts are turned away, then it must be for the sake of the “local economies?” Unfortunately, Representative Amodei’s comments as reported offer no explication of his priorities.

(3) But then, there’s Representative Amodei’s infamous quote: “…we do understand their frustration with increasingly heavy handed federal agencies that continue to violate the rights of hardworking American farmers and ranchers.” [RGJ] Are heavily armed men taking over a federal wildlife refuge and threatening violence just “frustrated?”  So, perhaps it would be logical to infer that Amodei’s heart is with the “frustrated” members of those “local economies” which seek to exploit public resources?

Amodei is quick to cite his support for the National Park Service budget, and his support for the hazardous fuel mitigation efforts on public lands, but part of what got him on the Anti-Park list is explained: “Amodei landed on the list for sponsoring legislation that would give the state control of 7.2 million of the approximately 58 million acres of federally controlled land in Nevada..[RGJ]

It doesn’t take too much imagination to see that cash strapped states (like Nevada) might not eventually want to capitalize on the exploitation of public lands in the state, quite possibly at the expense of small ranching concerns, outdoor sports participants, and wildlife in particular.

A sneak peak might be on display with his bill to place BLM lands in trust with Nevada tribes:

“The House Natural Resources Committee approved the Nevada Native Nations Land Act, H.R. 2733, which Amodei introduced to provide more opportunities for economic development and protection of natural resources in the regions.

“(Wednesday’s) vote puts us one step closer to placing Nevada public lands back into local control — rather than in the hands of Washington bureaucrats,” Amodei said. “My bill carefully balances the unique needs of our Nevada tribal nations with those of local ranchers, land owners and businesses.” [RiponAdv] (emphasis added)

There he goes again, getting land out from under the “Washington Bureaucrats.”  The only salvation in this legislation is that Native Americans, who generally have a better standard of stewardship than the Koch Brothers,  are the ones holding the lands in trust.  We might also safely conclude that this “one step” is the first of many in which Representative Amodei seeks to place Nevada public lands under local control.

From local it’s one more step to private.

Comments Off on Amodei’s Land Grab

Filed under Amodei, Interior Department, koch brothers, National Parks, Native Americans, Nevada politics, public lands, Reservations, Rural Nevada

The Manufactured Martyrs: Nevada’s Bundyland Bunch

Bundy 2

There are specious arguments, and then there are those which are just downright hysterical. Hysterically funny or screaming tantrums hysterical;  the defense of the Bundy Bunch looks to fit into both those categories.

Cliven Bundy wants to be released from Federal custody because the government is holding him as a Political Prisoner?  At least according to attorney Joel Hansen:

“The government seems to be afraid that it might lose in a jury trial, so it wants to keep him in prison, in solitary confinement, as long as it can because he, like Nelson Mandela, is a political prisoner,” Hansen wrote. “There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution allowing the federal government to hold political prisoners without a trial. Nothing.” [LVRJ]

For those unfamiliar with the right wing of Nevada’s right wing politics, Joel Hansen is part of the Hansen Family Party, aka the Independent American Party which boasts 70,323 registered voters in Nevada, making it the third largest party in the state. The numbers sound impressive until it’s noted that there are 585,890 registered Democrats and 493,612 registered Republicans; and, 295,319 registered as non-partisan. [NV SoS]  As recently as 2002 the Hansen family was the heart of the IAP in Nevada, and members were running for all manner of offices – some inviting controversy with then Secretary of State Dean Heller by not filing campaign financial reports with his office. [LVSun]

So, where does Joel Hansen find the justification for comparing failing rancher Cliven Bundy with international hero Mandela?  We can start with the IAP Platform:

“We believe that to maintain freedom, our political institutions must be founded upon faith in God and upon moral laws and principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution for the United States, the Bill of Rights, and the Holy Scriptures.  We believe that the function of government is to protect life, liberty, property, and the fundamental and God-given rights of the people, and that anything more than this is usurpation and oppression.” [IAP

And they do mean Anything, including the management of federal land and properties.

We oppose intrusion of the federal government in areas that rightfully belong to the states.  We favor abolishing federal control of all lands, except for necessary forts, military bases, post offices, etc., as enumerated in, but limited by, the Constitution.  We support the return to the states of all lands unconstitutionally seized, acquired or controlled by the federal government (10th Amendment), and those taken unconstitutionally as “required” for that state to join the Union. [IAP]

Indeed, manufacturing martyrs requires believing that federal management of federal facilities, and federal lands, constitutes “usurpation and oppression.”

Further, the Hansen-Bundy philosophy requires looping into the realm of a fantasy in which the armed resistance to BLM operations, and the armed takeover of a federal wildlife refuge meets the definition of a “peaceful protest.”  Additionally, it’s still a peaceful protest even if it was originally estimated to cost $3.3 million to clean up the mess made at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, and then the estimate increased to approximately $6 million by March 23, 2016. [OregonLive]  Evidently, abandoned homes, compromised bank accounts, and death threats to workers at the Malheur Refuge were part of a “peaceful protest?” [OregonLive]

Cliven Bundy’s problems, however, stem not from the Malheur assault and occupation – that bundle falls to his offspring — but from his response to BLM attempts to enforce federal regulations on lands it is tasked to manage near Bunkerville, NV.

“Bundy faces 16 felony counts, including extortion, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal law enforcement officer and using and carrying a firearm in a crime of violence.

Bundy and 18 others — including four of his sons, Ammon, Ryan, Melvyn and David — were charged in a new federal indictment in Las Vegas last week in connection with the April 12, 2014, Bunkerville showdown.” [LVRJ]

Bundy Armed

Photos from the Bunkerville “peaceful protest” don’t seem to argue for an interpretation of a  non-violent approach to discussing issues of cattle operations with the Bureau of Land Management.

 

Hansen and his client have a bit of a problem trying to turn the actions at Bunkerville into Bunker Hill.  Either the demonstrations at the site were peaceful, and none of the armed gunmen actually intended to fire their weapons, or it was a exemplar of armed resistance to the Federal oppressors and usurpers – at which time it’s no longer a “peaceful protest,” and that part about “obstruction of justice,” and “threatening law enforcement officers” is  both relevant and provable.

Hansen: “Does Mr. Bundy have the right to raise a constitutional question about the legality of the high-handed tactics of the BLM?” Hansen asked in his court papers. “Of course he does — and particularly by making statements about the actions of the BLM and by the exercise of people’s First Amendment right to peacefully assemble and the people’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.” [LVRJ]

By this logic, if one were to show up at a BLM office, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, fully loaded, and pointed at the personnel inside, this would be “making a statement?” Exercising freedom of speech? And, just showing support for the 2nd Amendment?  This ought to explain fully and quickly precisely how the sons decided that taking over a wildlife refuge was a “good idea.”   It goes nowhere toward explaining how attorney and IAP pillar Joel Hansen is going to turn the muggers into martyrs.

1 Comment

Filed under Nevada politics, Politics, public lands

Birds of a Feather in the Refuge

Wampler “Birds of a feather, flock together.” So sayeth all grandmothers offering advice about the accumulation of friends and acquaintances.  For all the palaver about a “peaceful” occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge from the Bundy Boys, they’ve kept company so far with the two notorious cop-killers in southern Nevada, and now it comes to light they have an armed felon in their midst.

Neil Wampler, California patricide, “…Wampler was a ubiquitous presence at the start of the occupation, often seen roaming the compound and talking to reporters. He said he drove to Oregon from his home near San Luis Obispo after seeing an online call for people to support the cause in Burns.” [Oregonian]  And, yes, by his admission, he’s armed.

Little wonder Mr. Wampler’s concerned about gun rights, as a convicted felon (2nd degree murder of his father during a drunken fight) Mr. Wampler doesn’t have any.   As a convicted felon he is prohibited from firearm ownership in California, and in Nevada, and in Oregon.   Mr. Wampler doesn’t agree, however:

“California and federal law generally prohibit felons from possessing firearms. Wampler told The Oregonian that he can legally possess a gun. Cipolla, the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said Wampler cannot have a gun because of his murder conviction.” [Oregonian]

Thus we can assume that Mr. Wampler is a law unto himself; if he says his criminal record doesn’t prohibit his gun toting, then his sovereignty must be respected? This position seems to capture the sovereign notion that the law applies to thee but not to me.  And, Mr. Wampler isn’t the first of the Malheur Loons to make threats, he just seems to be the most recent:

“We are peaceful people, I certainly am,” he says. “And the only circumstance, the last extremity, I think that any gunshots would be fired is if the federalists tried to root us out of here. They would find out then, that we are not playing. We’re not gonna give an inch. And I say that very seriously.” [Oregonian]

Shorter version: If the authorities try to make us leave the Refuge we’re going to start shooting people, even if we Loons have worn out our welcome in the county. [Oregonian]

Comments Off on Birds of a Feather in the Refuge

Filed under Gun Issues, terrorism

Power for the Loons: A small electric co-op considers what to do with the Loons at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge

Harney Electric Map Harney Electric Cooperative is the power transmission and distribution provider for approximately 20,000 square miles of southeastern Oregon and northern Nevada, and right in the midst of their service territory map is the Malheur Wildlife Refuge – currently occupied by more loons than pin tails, swans, and geese.

The Co-op has about 4,000 power meters, 350 miles of transmission line, and more than 2,400 miles of distribution line across the six counties shown on the map.  And there are numerous voices asking why the power hasn’t been cut off at the Malheur Refuge…

A major consideration is Safety.  Harney Electric, for all its territorial expanse, isn’t a very large company.  In fact, the members read their own meters. The company audits meter readings once a year, but for all 12 months of the year the meters are read by the customer/members and not by designated meter readers.  The main office is in Hines, OR (population 1,510) with a branch office in Orovada, NV (population 155) and another small satellite office in Fields, OR (population 120).   It isn’t too far off the mark to say that the administration and management of the co-op is a case of everyone knowing everyone else – employees included.  No one is particularly excited about sending in a lineman to shut off the power at the Refuge since the Loons have an unfortunate track record of actually shooting and killing people.  Case in point: the two miscreants who joined the Bundy Militia for a time in Their Great Delusional Standoff in southern Nevada, and then saw fit to assassinate two police officers in Las Vegas. [MSNBC]  There’s frankly little way for the power company to win —

If they send in an unarmed lineman – do the Loons take offense and physically attack the lineman?  If they send in police or national guard with the lineman – does this constitute an “assault” by the authorities, and also place the lineman in peril?  Should the lineman and a police escort approach the “boundary” does this create a justification in the twisted minds of the trespassers for the shooting to start?  No one in charge at the power company is particularly happy about the prospect of seeing a lineman’s body draped in a Tea Party flag.

Gee, offer some naysayers – why can’t the co-op cut the power off well outside the range of the Loons?  That assumes that the co-op has isolation capacity, and the equipment already installed to shut down portions of the distribution line.  Since its founding in 1961, the co-op’s primary concern has been to get power to isolated areas, NOT how to shut off power to isolated portions of its service area.   The co-op has shut off power to the Frenchglen, OR BLM fire station [OregonLive] as of January 7, 2016, another target of the Loons, but not occupied by them.  The integrity of the BLM fire station at Frenchglen is an important component in the safety of Harney Electric Cooperative’s transmission and distribution lines in southeastern Oregon and northern Nevada.

And then there’s the matter of the bill.  The Bundy Loons are using metered power to prepare their grilled cheese sandwiches – the current rate for power at minimum is $28.75 per month for the first 150 kilowatt hours.  No one’s heard how the Bundy’s intend to pay for the power they’re using – any more than anyone’s figured out how they intend to pay for the $1 million in back grazing fees and penalties they already owe.  However, this time the Bundy’s aren’t ripping off the federal government – they’re ripping off the customers of a small electric cooperative.

If the Loons keep up their occupation to March 1, 2016 they should be mindful that Harney Electric’s minimum rate will increase to $31.50 per month with a 9 cent charge for every kilowatt hour after 150.  Security light pricing will be at $9 a month for a 100 watt light on a meter or transformer pole, and the charge for a specially placed pole will be $11.80 per month.  If the Loons are using a 150 watt security light, that will cost them $13.00 per month.

Somewhere in the midst of their Grand Delusion about Sticking It to the Federal Government, the Loon Militia (#YallQaeda) in their Cowliphate, have forgotten that it isn’t the Federal Government keeping the lights on at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, it’s a small electric cooperative, which expects its customers to read their meters and pay promptly.   It appears that the Bundy definition of Liberty incorporates taking what they want, when they want it, without consideration of how this narcissistic selfishness impacts others … like the Harney Electric Cooperative and its customers.

1 Comment

Filed under Politics

Silhouettes in Courage

It’s been confirmed that the perpetrators of the Bundystan sit in at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge are free to go into town for their “snacks.”  There are at least two ways to view this element of the situation. One, the authorities are allowing the continuation of the occupation of federal property in ways that are inconceivable to those who remember the May 1985 assault on Osage Avenue, Philadelphia, PA. [Guardian] Another perspective is that the authorities aren’t taking the Grand Occupation of the YallQaeda Militia as seriously as the YeeHawdists wanted.  Thus, this isn’t the Alamo – it certainly isn’t Ruby Ridge, much less Waco.  And, there the YallQaeda sits — assured in their own minds that their actions will cause significant discourse about public land management and a Rising of the Populace – being held up to ridicule instead of admiration.

Case in point: The man who says he won’t be locked in a concrete box is more than happy to sit inside a blue tarp for the duration —

Tarp Man Granted that prisons are unpleasant places in which to reside, but being stuck in a chair under a tarp in  weather not predicted to get much over 17 degrees Fahrenheit at night for the next week isn’t my idea of Freedom.  And, to do so while insinuating that you’d fight to the death before you’d leave the “comfort” of your Little Blue Tarp because you won’t tolerate  an arrest, leaves one wondering if some kind soul won’t donate a copy of Magnus Mill’s 1998 novel “The Restraint of Beasts” to help the ‘patriots’ pass the time?

The wildlife refuge has been a contentious issue for the Hammond family for some time [TPM] but with the Hammonds reporting to authorities to complete their prison sentence there seems little for the YallQaeda to do but crank up the verbiage and get the perfectly predictable Twitter backlash.  The level of self delusion is, indeed, remarkable.  Who, while illegally occupying federal property, would NOT think arrest warrants are a logical outcome?  Ammon Bundy cites his “credible sources” as informing him of impending arrest warrants [Oregonian] Well, gee… what would a person expect in the circumstances?

There are some voices in support, albeit tangential at best. For example, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) used his time on the House Floor to excoriate the Bureau of Land Management for its insensitivity to the “culture” of the American West. [Oregonian]  However, Rep. Walden’s aim seems a bit off the mark,  if for no other reason than the Malheur Refuge is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Walden was explicit is his condemnation of illegal occupations, and his speech was hardly a ringing endorsement of the Bundy Bunch.

So the Bundy Boys Camp Out will continue until the residents of Burns, OR have exhausted their patience, and the YallQaeda has worn out its welcome.  The federal, state, and local reaction seems to imply that (1) there aren’t very many occupiers, and (2) they aren’t actually doing very much; except sitting in an isolated camp from which the TV trucks will depart for the Next Shiny Object getting cold and wondering why the Great Insurrection hasn’t started.

Silhouettes in courage.

Comments Off on Silhouettes in Courage

Filed under Politics

Dispatches from Bundystan

Dispatch Case While the Bundyites and their associated #VanillaISIS #Y’AllQaeda #YeeHawDist members, there are some informative and serious pieces of background writing which deserve our attention.  One of these is Elaine Hunt’s piece for Lets Talk Nevada, “Senator Dean Heller on the Bundys and the BLM.”   Hunt provides local context for the ongoing situation between the “Sovereign” Bundys, including the stances taken by city and county officials.

There’s no shortage of articles available concerning the tactics which might be adopted to resolve the situation in the Malheur Wildlife Reserve.  Newsweek offers its advice on how the Federal government can resolve the issue peacefully.  The Washington Post provides some context for the ongoing fight over public lands in Oregon.   The piece also provides a bit of encouraging news: The government position that the Bundy Gang is invading the area is taking hold with local officials in the local area.

Meanwhile, authorities are planning to cut the power to the facilities at the Malheur Refuge [Guardian] To which the #VanillaISIS responded they were ready – however, surely they know that if the Federal and local agencies cut off traffic to the Refuge it won’t be all that long before they’ve run through the gasoline in the pickups to run a generator?  This point highlights some questions which such radical activities raise in general.

Question Marks

# How do radicals convince themselves that there is a vast reservoir of support for their cause?  From the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791, with sporadic anti-tax violence until 1794, which ended with the “rebels” fleeing in the face of Washington’s collection of 13,000 militia members from Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania – to John Brown’s unsuccessful raid on the Harper’s Ferry federal arsenal – to Charleston murderer Dylann Roof’s pathetic attempt to “start a race war” [Nwk] – to the equally pathetic request of the #Y’AllQaeda for people to send “snacks” and come to join them – the radicals have vastly overestimated the breadth and depth of their causes.

# Why do movements such as #Y’AllQaeda almost invariably include leadership which indulges in pseudo-military activities rather than actually enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces?   Oathkeepers being the exception, as would be the likes of Timothy McVeigh, many of the self styled Militia types don’t  have what might be considered even para-military training.  Target shooting, gun collecting, and video games don’t create real soldiers.  A point which appears to have escaped many militants.

# It’s interesting that some of the loudest critics of range management often include individuals who aren’t all that successful in ranching enterprises?   Previous  Nevada protests, in Elko County (Gardner), and in Nye County (Hage), were sparked by the actions of individuals who blamed the Bureau of Land Management for problems they may very well have created for themselves. 

I suppose we’ll always have among us those who have inflated views of their own agency, and unrealistic perspectives concerning the level of support for their own cause.  The play-soldiers will continue to conflate fantasy with professional military reality.  And, those who cannot accept or admit their limitations will invariably blame others for their problems.  The trick is not to allow this to fester and metastasize in the body politic.

Comments Off on Dispatches from Bundystan

Filed under Politics

Bunkerville’s Unwanted Tourists

The old saw is correct — company and fish should both be out of the house after three days — meanwhile back at the Bundy Ranch:

“The BLM left weeks ago, but the militia is sticking around so no one gets any funny ideas. That means Bunkerville residents now have to deal with a bunch of armed people around its roads, schools and churches. Some are understandably scared. Also, the militia have set up checkpoints on the roads, where residents have to prove they live there before being allowed to drive on. That’s just inconvenient. Bunkerville wants them out.” [Wire]

Representative Steven Horsford (D-NV4) wrote to Clark County Sheriff Gillespie to encourage local law enforcement to evict the ‘militia’ group(s) from Bunkerville:

“We must respect individual constitutional liberties, but residents of and visitors to Clark County should not be expected to live under the persistent watch of an armed militia,” the letter reads. “Residents have expressed their desire to see these groups leave their community…I urge you to investigate these reports and to work with local leaders to ensure that their concerns are addressed in a manner that allows the community move forward without incident.”

The remnants of Bundy’s Brigade of Brigands appear to be those who stayed put in the face of “an imminent drone strike” compliments of the Department of Justice.  The rumor, easily understood in the perfervid imaginations of the anti-government, white battalions of Internet conspiracy theorists and chain E-mail readers, sent some of the Defenders of Free-To-Be-Dumb out of the picture (The Oathkeepers) to the dismay of the Die-Hard-For-Internet-Rumors militia members like Ryan Payne. [C&L]

Payne is a 30 year old resident of Philipsburg, Montana, and member of the “West Mountain Rangers,” and “Operation Mutual Aid.” [LVRJ]  The “West Mountain Rangers” hasn’t been on anyone’s radar — much less the target of any drone strikes — and may be the spawn of the older “freeman movement” in Montana. [Niewert]

So, what have we learned?

#1. We’ve learned that conservative reaction to armed men is really different depending on the color of the skin under the camo or balaclavas.   Consider that on May 2, 1967 twenty six armed members of the BPP went to the California state capitol in Sacramento to gain national attention (or notoriety); they were protesting the proposed Mulford Act, which would have limited permission to carry loaded firearms in public, in reaction to the BP Police Patrols. Bobby Seale and five others were arrested during the protest.  The Mulford Act passed and was signed into law by California Governor Ronald Reagan, becoming part of the state penal code.  Reagan would change his tune in the 1980’s joining the chorus of 2nd Amendment enthusiasts in line with NRA admonitions regarding “gun control.”  [See also TO, May 3, 2014]

#2. There are still among us some seriously disturbed individuals who, willing to believe anything which supports their fantasies, are ready to confront local, state, and federal authorities.  Some of them took aim at federal officers in what can only be interpreted as an attempt to force a live-fire confrontation.  We’ve seen these characters before.  As original as they’d like to believe they are, they aren’t all that much different than Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.   Hindsight offers a clear view that rather than apologizing for the inclusion of ‘militia’ recruitment of former military personnel in the Homeland Security Report, then Secretary Janet Napolitano should have stood firm on behalf of that warning.

#3. Gun bullying is real and should not be encouraged.  The bully-boys at the Bundy Ranch ought to be classified in the same category as the gun packing protestors in Dallas, TX in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, [AJAM] or the idiot who thought it appropriate to display his holstered gun at a Forsyth County (GA) park for all to see, where parents halted a baseball game for six years old children because the little players were afraid. [WSBT] Gun bullies are even available at your local fast food restaurant, as witnessed by terrified Jack in the Box workers who thought they were about to be robbed. [DallasE] It seems not to have occurred to the moronic ‘protesters’ that some signage might have been a good idea.  And, now we have some residents of Bunkerville, NV who are getting a bit of gun bullying in their own back yards.

Where from here?

The question is a tricky one for the residents of Bunkerville who are disturbed by the alleged check points and other inconveniences.  Armed confrontation seems to be precisely what the bully boys want — to go down, flaming, in glory, like the doomed charge of Pickett’s Confederate troops.  Like the defenders of the Alamo. Like the valiant on Bunker’s Hill. Like they’ve been checking out too many movies from Netflix.  They will dwindle. There is no glory to be gained from a judicial response to yet another demonstration of Cliven Bundy’s unwillingness to admit it’s the 21st century and court orders are court orders.

What will happen is that the characters will be identified. The publicity they sought will also garner them files and profiles with law enforcement agencies.  Their records will be checked for outstanding warrants, unpaid child support, misappropriation of benefits, and all manner of other felonies and misdemeanors which they’d prefer to  remain unnoticed.  They’ve already associated themselves with an obvious racist. They’ve already incurred the mockery of the more sentient.  In short, they’ve already lost. They just haven’t figured it out yet.

The law abiding members of the Bunkerville community are correct to complain about having to serve as the backdrop for this farce.  And, the test of wills and ideology may be determined if the Clark County Sheriff’s Department (the entity Bundy claims to respect) takes the lead in removing these unwanted visitors.

Comments Off on Bunkerville’s Unwanted Tourists

Filed under Politics

Enough Sovereign Citizens: Las Vegas Plot 2013 to Bundy 2014

Bundy 2In August 2013 two ‘sovereign citizens’ in Las Vegas, NV planned to capture and then execute a Las Vegas police officer.  The idea was to kidnap an officer at random, “try” him or her in a makeshift court packed with fellow ‘sovereign citizens’ and then kill the unfortunate law enforcement officer.  Their lovely mug shots are available here.

David Allan Brutsche, 42, and Devon Campbell Newman, 67 were to be arraigned on October 8, 2013 after Brutsche tried to persuade the court that he could represent himself.  Newman was to be assisted by a public defender. [LVRJ]  Instead of facing a trial, Newman, who had no prior criminal record, took a plea deal. [Mail AP]  Later  Brutsche also accepted a plea bargain, pleading guilty to a felony conspiracy charge, getting a five year probation deal with orders to stay away from any connections to the Sovereign Citizens movement. He remained in jail as of April 13, 2014 because of his failure to register as a sex offender. [LVWN]

In short, Las Vegas law enforcement is all too aware of the Sovereign Citizens, and the kinds of people who become involved.  They are probably not  likely to see other adherents of Cliven Bundy’s philosophy as ‘boy scouts and grandmothers.’ [Heller/Roll Call]

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also aware of them, and aware of the danger they pose:

“Since 2000, lone-offender sovereign-citizen extremists have killed six law enforcement officers. In 2010, two Arkansas police officers stopped sovereign-citizen extremists Jerry Kane and his 16-year-old son Joseph during a routine traffic stop on Interstate 40. Joseph Kane jumped out of the vehicle and opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle, killing both officers.” [FBI 2011]

Was Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) using hyperbole when he described the Bundy mob as “domestic terrorists?  Not unless the FBI is applying hyperbole as well:

The FBI considers sovereign-citizen extremists as comprising a domestic terrorist movement, which, scattered across the United States, has existed for decades, with well-known members, such as Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, bombing. Sovereign citizens do not represent an anarchist group, nor are they a militia, although they sometimes use or buy illegal weapons. Rather, they operate as individuals without established leadership and only come together in loosely affiliated groups to train, help each other with paperwork, or socialize and talk about their ideology. They may refer to themselves as “constitutionalists” or “freemen,” which is not necessarily a connection to a specific group, but, rather, an indication that they are free from government control. They follow their own set of laws. While the philosophies and conspiracy theories can vary from person to person, their core beliefs are the same: The government operates outside of its jurisdiction. Because of this belief, they do not recognize federal, state, or local laws, policies, or regulations.” [FBI bulletin 9/2011]  (emphasis added)

What were Cliven Bundy’s words? “His personal grievance with federal authority doesn’t stop with the BLM, though. “I believe this is a sovereign state of Nevada,” Bundy said in a radio interview last Thursday. “I abide by all of Nevada state laws. But I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.” [Atlantic]  In this instance there’s a bit of nuance in Bundy’s philosophy — he does recognize county and state government, just not the federal one. Evidently, he’s not quite the constitutionalist he’d like to be, since he missed Article I, Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution.  That’s the part which begins with:

“All political power is inherent in the people[.] Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it. But the Paramount Allegiance of every citizen is due to the Federal Government in the exercise of all its Constitutional powers…”

As the FBI advised, these Sovereign Citizens have varying philosophies and conspiracy theories,  and Mr. Bundy’s appears to be a variation on a common theme — government doesn’t have jurisdiction over my activities — in his case it’s the federal government.

And who joined him in his “protest?” The Oath Keepers were front and center.  The FBI has been watching this and other groups which seek to attract members of the military and veterans, as set forth in a July 2008 report. (pdf)  The level of paranoia in the Oath Keeper’s 10 Rules is clear, if not absolutely blatant.   Justine Sharrock’s April 2010 article for Mother Jones should be required reading for anyone who wants an in-depth look at the Oath Keeper’s disturbing and perhaps invidious philosophy.

So, on April 12, 2014 Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) made this request to the Bundy followers:

“The dispute is over, the BLM is leaving, but emotions and tensions are still near the boiling point, and we desperately need a peaceful conclusion to this conflict,” Heller said.  “I urge all the people involved to please return to your homes and allow the BLM officers to collect their equipment and depart without interference.”

Yes, and this to a group of people who believe that the government is simply waiting for a catastrophic event during which it can incarcerate citizens in concentration camps?  Who will not “disarm American citizens?” Who will not obey orders to impose martial law?” Who will not assist foreign troops to keep order on American soil?

This? to Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff who is going to save America from gun control? Who is an inductee in the National Rifle Association Hall of Fame?  Who is a devotee of the radical philosophy of W. Cleon Skousen? W. Cleon “Pocahantas was a Communist” Skousen? [MJ]

If anyone has any doubts as to why federal agents and BLM employees thought they needed armed protection, the presence of the Oath Keepers and Richard Mack should resolve the question quickly.

The question remains, if the law enforcement community in Clark County has a heightened awareness of so-called sovereign citizens,  and the FBI has been watching organizations like the Sovereignty Movement and the Oath Keepers, then WHY did Senator Heller walk directly into the morass in support of Bundy in the first place?

As noted in the previous post, he’s now back-pedaling as quickly as he can after Cliven Bundy’s outrageously racist remarks.

Bundy’s remaining public supporter is none other than Clark County’s own Assemblywoman Michele Fiore who issued this statement: ” Fiore said Bundy “has said things I don’t agree with,” but “we cannot let this divert our attention from the true issue of the atrocities BLM committed by harming our public land and the animals living on it.” [The Wire]

What atrocities? Tazing a man who kicked a police dog?  What harm to the land?  However, what can we expect from an Assemblywoman whose Mother’s Day blog greeting included a photo of all the women-folk armed to the hilt…or the stock if you prefer?  If one is known by the company kept, then Assemblywoman Fiore’s association with the likes of the Oath Keepers and Richard Mack may get her into the NRA Hall of Fame, but it won’t prevent questions about her penchant for supporting ultra-right wing radical causes.

After Cliven Bundy’s sad little tirade about “the Negro” the scales should have fallen from everyone’s eyes — the core of the issue for Mr. Bundy isn’t essentially about BLM operations, or two court orders — it’s about preserving a revised White Man’s America.  An America in which all those enslaved people were ‘happy’ — ‘must be why the old Gospel song says, “And before I’d be a slave I’d be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free?”  It’s a White Man’s America — out of a Hollywood western.   It’s a White Man’s America that never was except in the perfervid imaginations of the seriously disturbed and the wildly radical.

Meanwhile in the real world, the BLM will revise and recalibrate its enforcement strategies, the courts may have to hear more litigation on the matter, and in the end … Mr. Bundy may be forced to follow the provisions of Article I, Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution and admit that the federal government is, in fact, due our paramount allegiance.

 

Comments Off on Enough Sovereign Citizens: Las Vegas Plot 2013 to Bundy 2014

Filed under Politics

Domestic Terrorism Home on the Range

BundyThe Nevada Progressive leads off this morning with a column on “Everytown,” and the efforts of those who seek reasonable restrictions on gun ownership, a post following “Clear and Present Danger” on the Bundy Anarchists in southern Nevada.  It’s both timely and appropriate to put these thoughts in close proximity.

“There’s really no way to candy-coat it. The extreme fringe of the far right who have once again gained national prominence thanks to Cliven Bundy’s nationally televised temper tantrum are not interested in mere protest. And it’s time for all the rest of us to recognize the clear & present danger of legitimizing this kind of behavior. ” [TNP]

There’s “right wing,” and “far right wing,” and then there’s that “extreme fringe of the far right.”   As the Rachel Maddow Show illustrated, they are both armed and dangerous.   We have an unfortunate roster of hits and near misses to prove the point.

The Bloody and Near Bloody Decade

On April 19, 1995 Timothy McVeigh bombed the Federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  The 7000 pound truck bomb caused massive loss of life and damage.  McVeigh was among those on that Extreme Fringe of the Far Right, who could refer to the children killed that day as “collateral damage.”  There was a near miss in July 1995 when antigovernment extremist Charles Ray Polk tried to purchase an machine gun and plastic explosives in order to carry out his proposed attack on the Austin, TX Internal Revenue Office.  Polk was sentenced to 21 years in a Federal Prison.

On October 9, 1995 the Extreme Fringe scored a hit on an Amtrak Passenger Train in Arizona, leaving antigovernment messages, some signed “Sons of the Gestapo.”  There was another near miss in November 1995 when members of the Oklahoma Constitutional Militia were arrested while in the process of planning bombings and attacks on abortion providers and gay bars.

The antigovernment message almost hit close to home when in December 1995 a drum filled with ammonium nitrate and fuel oil failed to detonate at a Reno, NV IRS office.  The tax-protester was arrested, tried, and convicted.  It would seem that the designation “tax-protester” might be a bit mild for someone who had demolition on his agenda.

January 1996 literally started out with a bang, when the Militia under Commander Pedro, Peter Kevin Langan, tried to shoot it out with the FBI in Ohio.   The year continued with a terrorist in Hood River, Oregon stockpiling 460 pounds of Tovex explosive, 746 pounds of ANFO blasting agent, and a collection of homemade hand grenades.   April 12, 1996 Larry Shoemake takes his Neo-Nazi extreme fringe behavior into the open and goes on a shooting spree in Jackson MS.  He killed one African American man and wounded seven others during his racist shooting rampage.  A few days later members of the Militia At Large of the Republic of Georgia are arrested for distributing shrapnel packed pipe bombs to their membership for their ongoing “war” with the government.  In July 1996 the Viper Team in Arizona is arrested after they were found videotaping federal facilities as potential targets for their antigovernment attacks.  But, there was no “near miss” on July 27, 1996 when Eric Rudolph detonated his bomb in Olympic Park in Atlanta, GA during the Summer Olympics.

Near misses were prevented from becoming real hits when members of the Washington State Militia, the Phineas Priests, and the West Virginia Mountaineer Militia were arrested in 1996 before they could carry out their plans.

Eric Rudolph was back in action in 1997 when he bombed an abortion providing health care center in Sandy Springs, GA, an Atlanta gay bar, and an abortion provider in Birmingham, AL.  The year also included a thwarted attempt by the Black Dawn group to stockpile 35,000 rounds of ‘heavy’ ammunition and artillery shells, and another attempt to bomb an IRS office in Kalamazoo, MI.  Perhaps the most hazardous near miss came on April 27, 1997 when a Militia planned to cover an armed robbery by blowing up a natural gas refinery in Fort Worth, TX — a facility close to a local elementary school.

This wasn’t the end of antigovernment action in 1997, which included an explosion in Yuba City, CA, a fire in the Colorado Springs, CO IRS office, and a planned attack on Fort Hood wherein the Fringe group thought foreign troops were being trained.

Eric Rudolph wasn’t finished, in 1998 he set off a nail packed remote controlled bomb at a Birmingham abortion provider’s building, and during the same year the Ku Klux Klan planned to assassinate a federal judge in East St. Louis, IL.  More attacks were planned in Michigan by the members of the North American Militia of Southwestern Michigan, thankfully foiled.  The Republic of Texas should perhaps get the prize for the most bizarre attack plan to assault President Clinton and other federal officials, “Officials say the men planned to use a cactus thorn coated with a toxin like anthrax and fired by a modified butane lighter to carry out the murders.” [SPLC] There were eight more incidents, of varying efficacy and harm from 1998 to 2000.

So, what should we have learned in that half decade?

If nothing more, we should have learned the definition of Domestic Terrorism as set forth in 18 U.S. Code 2331:

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

And, yes, the acts and intended acts during that decade would certainly seem to fit the definition of Domestic Terrorism as established in the law.   Bombings, assassinations, and fires, would qualify as dangerous activities designed to intimidate and coerce, and even kill.   We should also have learned that antigovernment fringe extremists are quite likely to attack federal offices, to assassinate people associated with activities with which they disagree, and to otherwise seek to intimidate and coerce when they fail to convince.

We don’t have much trouble labeling such individuals as Eric Rudolph, the Phineas Priests, the New Dawn, the North American Militia, and other groups as domestic terrorists — but there is an inclination to be entirely too parsimonious with the term when an individual or group is characterized as a “protestor,” or an “activist,” when what they really advocate is armed opposition to legitimate authority.

Fast Forward

There are more incidents during the past 19 years which illustrate the extent to which extreme right wing fringe elements are willing to go in promoting their delusional beliefs.  No one should argue that ultra- beliefs have no Constitutional standing. However, remembering the definition of domestic terrorism in 18 U.S. Code 2331 should provide us with a guide line for what could be considered domestic terrorism —

Is it an activity involving, “acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State?” Does the activity have the intent to (1) intimidate? Or (2) influence policy, or (3)  affect conduct by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping?

On July 27, 2008 J.D Adkisson opened fire at the Knoxville, TN two were killed, seven were injured.  Mr. Adkisson drafted a four page letter in which he described how he hated liberals and gays, and blacks, “and anyone who was different than him.” [HuffPo] On June 10, 2009  Neo-Nazi James von Brunn shot a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Museum.  Adkisson surely intended to do as much ‘destruction’ as possible in the Unitarian Church in Knoxville, and von Brunn had an extensive history of right wing activities seeking to intimidate and coerce in the name of White Nationalism.  And to these two examples of domestic terrorists we should add Frazier Glenn Cross to the roster.

Granted that this post has listed individuals who have stepped over the edge of reason and committed, or sought to commit, heinous acts which deserve all the opprobrium they receive.  However, these individuals aren’t necessarily steaming in their own personal stew. They are justified each time someone “protests” in the name of “freedom.” They find rationalization each time someone is an “activist” for antigovernment causes.  They are easily swayed by the antigovernment rhetoric of right wing news and opinion outlets, and they are taking their cues from those who would fan their fires.

They are the Neo-Nazis, the Neo-Confederates, the Southern ‘Heritage’ types, the disaffiliated gun enthusiasts, the antigovernment crusaders, the social and cultural warriors… and they can be armed and dangerous. [Salon] [Alternet] [Salon]

Enter Cliven Bundy, disgruntled freeloader on federal (public) land, and those who would feed his fire:

“The involvement of armed militiamen—and Bundy’s promise to “do whatever it takes” to reclaim his cattle—doesn’t appear to phase conservative activists who have turned Bundy into a cause célèbre. Before this weekend’s confrontation, National Review Online, Fox & Friends, and American Thinker all blamed the government for mounting tensions. Two groups affiliated with Americans for Prosperity, a political organization funded primarily by the Koch brothers, spent the weekend tweeting their support for Bundy, Media Matters reported. Sean Hannity, who on Friday hailed Bundy as a capitalist hero—”When your cattle graze there, that keeps the price of meat down for every American consumer”—invited Bundy back on the air Monday for a second, easygoing interview in which he made only glancing reference to the armed confrontation.” [MJ]

“Blame the government” + “glancing reference to the armed confrontation” = a problem.   April 2009 Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Naplitano drew verbal fire from conservatives for daring to suggest that right wing extremists constituted a terrorist threat in the United States.  Her department’s report, which rightly noted that some of the ‘militia types’ and ‘radical right wing’ groups were potentially dangerous (witness the list above), was vilified in the conservative press as an attack on Conservatism, Conservatives, veterans…. but it was as prescient as it was accurate.  Look at Picture Number 3 from NBC, captioned: “Protesters gather at the Bureau of Land Management’s base camp near Bunkerville, Nevada on April 12. Hundreds of states’ rights protesters, including militia members, showed up at corrals outside Mesquite to demand the animals’ return to rancher Cliven Bundy. Some protesters were armed with handguns and rifles at the corrals and at an earlier nearby rally.”

When is a “protester” a “domestic terrorist?”  Do people armed with rifles and handguns facing off against government officials and agents create a situation “dangerous to human life, in violation of  criminal laws?” What usually happens when someone brandishes a firearm before an officer of the law?

Did members of that crowd “of hundreds” seek to intimidate, coerce?  Of course they did — that’s why they were there, to coerce the federal officials from implementing federal land use policy.

The problem with hyper-sensitive thin skinned (albeit mostly white skinned) conservative ‘protesters’ is that when criticized for radical behavior, behavior which stimulates the warrior fantasies of delusional individuals, they whine loudly that they are being “attacked.” They are defending Freedom (read their own self interest), and the American Way of Life (read white and disgruntled).   Here’s a hint: If you are aiming a firearm at a BLM encampment, you are not ‘defending America.’  If you are standing in your phony camo-costume armed and disrupting law enforcement officials, you are not ‘protesting.’ You are — a domestic terrorist.

Recommended reading: SPLC, “Terror from the Right,” Ken Sofer, “17 years after Oklahoma City,” Think Progress. Matthew Harwood, “Law Enforcement/Right Wing Terrorists,” Salon. “Terrorist Attacks and Related Incidents,” Johnston Archive.  Molly Redden, “Everyone on the Far Right Loves...” Mother Jones. Reuters, “Bundy Ranch Standoff Emboldens Militia Groups.”  Brian Jencunas, “Why There’s Nothing Conservative About Cliven Bundy,” HuffPo.  “Almost 100 Hate Crimes Linked to One Website,” HuffPo.  NBC News, “Standoff at Bunkerville.”  Sarah Posner “Neo-Confederates and the Revival of Theological War“, USC Annenberg.

1 Comment

Filed under conservatism, Gun Issues, Hate Crimes, Politics

Bundy’s Lazy WQ Socialist Cows

Lazy WQWho knew? Cliven Bundy is a Socialist!  Because who but a banner waving Socialist would presume that public land was theirs for the taking without payment?  And, then there are those Socialist Cows munching on public property at no expense.  The Bureau of Land Management administers about 245 million acres of public land, and manages grazing on approximately 155 million acres by issuing permits — an estimated 18,000 permits for 21,000 allotments on BLM lands. [BLM]

Bundy’s gripe is with the 1934 Taylor Grazing Act which authorized the Bureau of Land Management to create regulated districts.  Further, he wants the use of public lands — but he doesn’t want to pay for the use — like the other 99.9% of ranchers.

“The Federal grazing fee, which applies to Federal lands in 16 Western states on public lands managed by the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, is adjusted annually and is calculated by using a formula originally set by Congress in the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978. Under this formula, as modified and extended by a presidential Executive Order issued in 1986, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM); also, any fee increase or decrease cannot exceed 25 percent of the previous year’s level. (An AUM is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month.) The grazing fee for 2014 is $1.35 per AUM, the same level as it was in 2013.
The Federal grazing fee is computed by using a 1966 base value of $1.23 per AUM for livestock grazing on public lands in Western states. The figure is then adjusted each year according to three factors – current private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices, and the cost of livestock production.  In effect, the fee rises, falls, or stays the same based on market conditions, with livestock operators paying more when conditions are better and less when conditions have declined.” [BLM]

Not to put too fine a point to it, but what Mr. Bundy wants is a free ride.  While 99.99% of western ranchers include the grazing fees in their accounting as a cost of doing business, Mr. Bundy wants a government subsidy (in the form of non-payment of the grazing fees).

Better still, Mr. Bundy has reiterated his attack on capitalism (which generally accepts that there are costs incurred in doing business) and staunchly declares he will Never Back Down. [ABC]  But wait, there’s more!

“It’s not about cows, it’s about freedom,” Utah resident Yonna Winget told ABC News affiliate KTNV in Las Vegas, Nevada.” [ABC]

Yeah, it’s all about Freedumb!  The freedumb to graze cows free of charge on federal (public) land, while every other rancher in the county pays the required grazing fees and doesn’t trespass his or her cattle on the allotments.

Thus, the Welfare Queen of Clark County, Nevada, wants to avoid paying the grazing fees because he doesn’t agree with the BLM rules and regulations — and I’d like to cut back on the income taxes I pay because I don’t agree with the brackets….

It is truly heart-warming (in the electrification sense of the term) to know that there are people who can get a free ride from the government, who can break the law with impunity, and who can threaten violence when called to account, if they don’t agree with the administration of the laws of the land, and the lands.

Meanwhile back at the Lazy WQ, Mr. Bundy doesn’t have to go to all the effort of moving his Socialist Cattle, because….. Freedumb!

 

2 Comments

Filed under Economy, Politics