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“Terrorism By Any Other Name”:The Armed Domestic Terrorists In Oregon Should Be Treated Just As ISIS Terrorists Would Be

The big story of the day is the armed seizure of an empty federal building in rural Oregon by a group of domestic terrorists, some of whom are the sons of federal tax cheat and freeloader Cliven Bundy.

They’re apparently upset at the conviction and upcoming jail sentences of a couple of fellow domestic terrorists for arson. They believe that the federal government has no constitutional authority to own land, that national parks are essentially illegal, and that men like them have a God-given right to mine, log and otherwise destroy whatever forest land they want. (It remains unclear whether they would condone Native Americans for “standing their ground” and responding with force to their trespass on the same lands that God clearly gave to them first.)

I don’t want to dwell too much on the rationales and motivations for these domestic terrorists any more than I would for the people who fight for ISIS or Al Qaeda. It’s always the same thing: a group of armed, angry men believe that the Big Bad Western Government is infringing on their right to do whatever it is they very well please–whether it’s to the environment, or to minorities, women, people of different religious groups, etc. Undereducated, armed angry men are often upset at Western governments for upsetting their private power apple carts because in their small, solipsistic worlds they’re very used to being lords of their manors and local enforcers of bigoted frontier justice. That’s as true of Afghan militants in the Taliban as it is of rural Montana militiamen. The only difference is in the trappings, the external presence of the rule of law and the degree of violence involved.

What’s more interesting to focus on is the response to the incident so far. As with ISIS, the Bundy clowns are actively seeking a confrontation with the big bad wolf of Big Western Government. They believe that an active confrontation will spark a movement that will lead to the overthrow of Big Brother. So far, especially after the incidents at Ruby Ridge and Waco, American leaders have been disinclined to give those opportunities to the domestic militiaman terrorists. Cliven Bundy and his miscreants got away with a wide range of crimes due to the forbearance of federal officials.

But the problem with taking that hands-off approach is that the treatment of left-leaning protesters is far different. Occupiers and Black Lives Matter protesters aren’t met with hand wringing and gentle admonishments. They’re met with batons and tear gas. If Black Lives Matter or Occupy protesters started arming themselves and taking over federal buildings, you can guarantee that police would start using live ammunition and people would die.

So on the one hand it’s understandable that federal officials would not want to make martyrs of the right-wing domestic terrorists who are actively seeking to engage in a confrontation and make themselves appear to be downtrodden victims of the federal beast. But on the other hand, it’s infuriating that they receive special kid glove treatment that would not be afforded to minority and liberal activists.

Personally, I feel that if ISIS fighters want a grand confrontation with the West on an open battlefield, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to give them one. The outcome of that battle would not be in doubt. Similarly, I feel that if Bundy’s little crew wants to occupy a federal building and assert that they’ll use deadly violence against any police who try to extract them, then they should get what they’re asking for just as surely Islamist terrorists would if they did likewise.

As much as restraint is the better part of valor when dealing with entitled conservative crazies, principles of basic justice and fair play also need to apply. What’s good for one type of terrorist must also be good for another.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthy, January 3, 2016

January 4, 2016 Posted by | Cliven Bundy, Domestic Terrorism, Montana Militia | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Self-Avowed Expert On ‘The Negro'”: Rand Paul Meets With Rogue Rancher Cliven Bundy

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

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

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

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

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

According to the Associated Press, Paul told the audience during the main event, “I think almost all land use issues and animal issues, endangered species issues, ought to be handled at the state level.”

“I think that the government shouldn’t interfere with state decisions, so if a state decides to have medical marijuana or something like that, it should be respected as a state decision,” Paul reportedly added.

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

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

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

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

Bundy first made national headlines in the spring of 2014, when the federal government temporarily closed a large swathe of U.S. government-owned land in Clarke County, Nevada, to capture and impound Bundy’s cattle as a penalty for more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees. Bundy refused to federal authority on the land where his family had lived for more than 120 years, but federal courts repeatedly sided with the Bureau of Land Management.

Shortly after the BLM closed the land, hundreds of armed militia members — including members of far-right groups like the Oath Keepers and the White Mountain Militia — descended on the land outside of Mesquite, Nevada. After a weeklong fight and a twenty-minute standoff where federal agents and protesters pointed guns at one another, the BLM ultimately backed down and returned Bundy’s cattle.

Though the government agency has said that it will continue to work through the courts to exact money owed by Bundy, he told POLITICO that no federal vehicle has returned to the land for more than a year.

“The federal government is off my ranch and off this area of Clark County and they shouldn’t come back,” Bundy said.

After Bundy’s standoff, he briefly became a hero to far-right conservatives, bolstered by coverage on Fox News and praise by prominent Tea Party politicians like Paul and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).

But his star quickly plummeted after he made inflammatory comments about African Americans being better off under slavery.

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” Bundy told supporters shortly after the standoff, according to video footage captured by an onlooker. He recounted a time he drove past public-housing in Las Vegas “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom.”

After those comments went public, Paul walked back his support and issued a statement saying Bundy’s “remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him.”

Bundy then apologized for the comments, saying at a press conference, “I’m probably one of the most non-racist people in America.”

“I hope I didn’t offend anybody. If I did, I ask for your forgiveness,” he added. “But I meant what I said. It comes from the heart.”

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

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

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

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

 

By: Adam B. Lerner, Politico, June 30, 2015

July 1, 2015 Posted by | Cliven Bundy, GOP Presidential Candidates, Rand Paul | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Anti-Government Shindig”: Cliven Bundy Hosts ‘Freedom Celebration’ One Year Later

It’s hard to forget the armed confrontation between federal law enforcement and Cliven Bundy’s well-armed supporters in Nevada. In fact, the standoff, which the Obama administration, in the interest of public safety, chose not to escalate, was exactly one year ago.

The L.A. Times noted that the controversial rancher, who claims not to recognize the legitimacy of the United States government, threw a “shindig” over the weekend – a “freedom celebration” to honor the anniversary.

This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of when federal agents swooped onto the public lands near Bundy’s ranch to round up hundreds of cattle that the 67-year-old had been grazing without permits. The land is administered by the Bureau of Land Management.

The raid didn’t go well: Hundreds of supporters – self-named citizen militiamen, many with semiautomatic weapons – rallied around their new leader, creating at tense standoff between two armed camps. In the end, on last April 12, the federal government backed down, released the cattle agents had corralled and – poof! – vanished.

The underlying dispute has not been resolved. Bundy has still ignored multiple court orders and still owes the United States more than $1 million after he was fined for grazing on protected land.

Bundy’s posture, as a long-term proposition, remains unsustainable – a fact he seems to realize. “It’s hard to tell, but the feds, they’re probably going to do something,” Bundy told the L.A. Times. “[T]hey’re probably just standing back, looking at things.”

He added, however, in reference to the Bureau of Land Management, “They know if they make a move, they’ll upset America. And I don’t think they want to do that.”

It’s an ominous choice of words from a fringe activist who may not enjoy quite as much support as he thinks he has.

Remember, Republicans and conservative media personalities quickly elevated Cliven Bundy to folk-hero status early last year, right up until some of his racist views came to light.

Suddenly, the right was forced to reevaluate whether they were prepared to stand behind a racist lawbreaker who doesn’t recognize the United States and whose supporters pointed high-powered weapons at American law enforcement.

I’m reminded, in particular, of Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) who said last April, “I am very quick in calling American citizens ‘patriots.’ Maybe in this case, too quick.” Around the same time, the Nevada affiliate of the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity started scrubbing their online messages offering praise for Bundy and his radical campaign.

In April 2014, Bundy was a cause celebre for the far-right and anti-government voices. In April 2015, his “freedom celebration” enjoyed less national support. If he’s assuming “America” will be “upset” if there are consequences for his defiance of the rule of law, he’s probably going to be disappointed.

Postscript: ThinkProgress noted a bill in the Nevada legislature, sometimes referred to as the “Bundy Bill,” intended to empower the state to seize federal properties Nevada wants to control. The legislation seems to be a brazenly unconstitutional scheme, but it’s nevertheless working its way through the Republican-led legislature.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 13, 2015

April 15, 2015 Posted by | Anti-Government, Bureau of Land Management, Cliven Bundy | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“This Is What White Supremacy Looks Like”: A Party At The Bundy Ranch, A Funeral In North Charleston

This weekend, the Bundy ranch in Nevada will host a reunion to celebrate owner Cliven Bundy’s continued lawlessness. Bundy became a hero of the far-right a year ago when his refusal to pay 20 years’ worth of federal grazing fees for his cattle—totalling $1.1 million—brought federal agents to collect, which Bundy and several hundred armed right-wing militia members repelled with a show of force. Fox News and other right-wing news outlets raced to the ranch to report on what Bundy supporters called the “Second American Revolution” and the “American Spring,” the moment when the rhetoric of “tyranny” and “totalitarianism” under President Obama would materialize into actual armed conflict against the loathsome federal government.

For anyone confused about whether a political movement which celebrates the Second Amendment and rallies around an iconography of war and rebellion is interested in actual combat against the “liberal” federal government, the Bundy affair answered any remaining questions: Yes, the prospect excites many far right-wing conservatives like nothing else. Fox News’ Sean Hannity was giddy in his initial introduction of Bundy as someone threatening a “range war” against the federal government. Fox News covered the ranch saga daily, with Bundy presented as a hero, and Hannity alone would feature Bundy on his show numerous times over the several weeks of the standoff, at times giving the rebel rancher a primetime microphone multiple times a week to rally right wingers to his cause.

Two extremists, Jerad and Amanda Miller, who traveled to Bundy’s ranch, only to be turned out, would go on to execute two Nevada police officers in June, draping the familiar Gadsden “Don’t Tread on Me” flag over the corpses and pinning a note to their government victims saying, “This is the start of the revolution.” Jerad and Amanda heard the call for a “range war” and took it upon themselves to be the vanguard of the Bundy rebellion.

In the end, the two officers were the only casualties and Bundy’s boys went home with not so much as a band-aid, as federal agents were backed down by a veritable army of militiamen. The government blinked, and Bundy was allowed to continue to flout a law he’d decided didn’t apply to him.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is white power.

And this is black vulnerability: In the intervening year since the Nevada showdown, much of America has become outraged by a series of cases of unarmed black men killed by police. The epidemic of police violence against black men has been ongoing for decades, of course, but a confluence of a new public attentiveness and video evidence in some cases has pushed the crisis into the mainstream discourse.

The latest case, the shocking murder of Walter Scott in North Charleston, SC, should be held up for comparison with the Bundy standoff. Before the video surfaced and contradicted his report, Scott’s killer, Officer Michael Slager, justified his use of deadly force by claiming that Scott gained control of Slager’s taser, thus making him a threat worthy of fatal elimination.

So the threat of a 50-year-old black man with a taser is so great that 8 shots into the back can be justified — but line up hundreds of white men on horseback and armed to the hilt with military-grade weapons, and agents of the government are powerless.

A single unarmed black man in Staten Island selling loosies is considered enough of a threat to be choked to death in broad daylight. Yet armed ex-military men protecting a criminal with high-powered rifles trained on federal agents are not enough of a threat to law and order to similarly merit the use of force.

Is that what we learn when we look at the cases? Does the specter of some imagined violent nature of black men exceed the fear stoked by white men with actual guns, actually pointed at state agents, fingers on triggers?

Or is it that the Bundy army was too much of a threat? The simmering anger on the American right since President Obama’s election has seethed just at the precipice of violence, and for Obama’s troops — as they would be viewed — to rightly fire on white people angry about taxes would have no doubt enraged extremists to a degree unseen since perhaps the 19th century. These weren’t the creepy cultists of the Waco standoff; Bundy was a hero headlining Fox News, the Drudge Report, and the other leading conservative news outlets. He would have been a martyr to Tea Partiers and the far right.

The militia and “Patriot” movements have seen “stunning growth” during the Obama years, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that tracks violent extremism. Bloodshed at the Bundy ranch could have very well sparked violence elsewhere, just as the federal sieges at Ruby Ridge and Waco during the 1990s animated the nascent militia and Patriot movements.

What lesson then have we learned from Cliven Bundy? What lesson do we learn from Walter Scott? Or Eric Garner. Or Michael Brown? Sean Bell?Oscar Grant? Amadou Diallo? Ramarley Graham? Maybe the Huey P. Newton Gun Club in Texas has the right idea. Named after Black Panther Party co-founder Huey Newton, the group takes advantage of open carry laws in the Lone Star State to patrol their neighborhoods in squads of men and women armed with assault rifles, what Newton and the Panthers did in Oakland in 1966.

But while Panther-style armed resistance might protect some victims from police violence, it’s hard to imagine it remedying the underlying problem: white supremacy and the assumption of black men as almost supernaturally dangerous. That’s why Slager’s initial story about Walter Scott would have probably sufficed, were it not for the video; the perceived threat posed by black men is that great. And it’s why Bundy’s men were permitted to point sniper rifles at state officials and still not be considered a threat worthy of elimination.

Saturday will be a day of celebration in Nevada; the day brings a funeral to North Charleston.

 

By: Matthew Pulver, Salon, April 10, 2015

April 14, 2015 Posted by | Cliven Bundy, Walter Scott, White Supremacy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“An Emboldened Mob”: To Right-Wing Nutjobs, Ordinary Voters Are The Enemy

“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

–Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues.

So the Bonnie and Clyde of the great Bundy ranch standoff thought they could start a national uprising by murdering two cops in a Las Vegas pizza joint. After executing Officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo in the most cowardly way possible, would-be freedom fighters cc draped the officers’ bodies with a Nazi flag and the “Don’t Tread on Me” banner flown at Tea Party rallies, and left a note proclaiming a new American Revolution.

The duo then proceeded to Walmart, where they also died in the most cowardly way possible — a murder-suicide, saving the slain officers’ colleagues the unpleasant necessity of shooting them dead.

Along the way the pair encountered the proverbial “good guy with a gun,” Joseph Robert Wilcox. They killed him too. Wilcox’s mistake was to pull his own concealed handgun without firing. It’s something combat instructors say one should never do, although it’s a decent human being’s first instinct — one good reason ordinary citizens shouldn’t carry.

You can’t learn combat shooting skills in a few hours with a retired deputy. It’s a potentially fatal mistake to try.

But I digress. Can anybody say they didn’t see this coming? The day before the Las Vegas tragedy I’d told a friend that between now and Labor Day, I expect to see a large scale firefight between crackpot right-wing militia types and police and/or federal authorities somewhere in America — Ruby Ridge, Waco, possibly even Oklahoma City all over again.

We’d been talking about those “open carry” geeks parading around in Fort Worth restaurants; also the self-appointed Texas posse that vowed to forcibly prevent Bowe Bergdhal’s Idaho hometown from throwing a welcome-home celebration for the recently released POW.

What the truth is behind the murky circumstances of Bergdhal’s capture by the Taliban, nobody really knows. However, Fox News and CNN succeeded in raising an electronic lynch mob. In essence, these jokers pronounced themselves willing to kill or die to prevent President Obama from getting a bump in opinion polls — the proximate cause of the sickening right-wing media freakout over Bergdhal’s release.

But back to Bonnie and Clyde. Supposedly, the Millers were asked to leave the Bundy ranch because of the male half’s criminal record. But definitely not because the duo was any crazier than the “Mountain Men” and other armed zealots eager to fight it out with the Bureau of Land Management over Cliven Bundy’s God-given constitutional right to graze free government grass.

“I was out there but they told me and my wife to leave because I am a felon,” Miller wrote on his Facebook page. “They don’t seem to understand that they are all felons now for intimidating law enforcement with deadly weapons. We sold everything we had to buy supplies and quit our jobs to be there 24/7. How dare you ask for help and shun us dedicated patriots!”

Posing as a rancher, Miller did a TV interview sounding no crazier than Bundy. “I feel sorry for any federal agents that want to come in here and try to push us around or anything like that,” he said. “I really don’t want violence toward them, but if they’re gonna come bring violence to us, if that’s the language they want to speak, we’ll learn it.”

Sounds like something Kevin Costner might say in a movie, right?

Miller was right about the law, though. Pointing a gun at a federal agent is a serious felony, and you wouldn’t want to live in a country where it’s not. No doubt the BLM was right not to risk a firefight over a couple of hundred scrawny cows. But it definitely emboldened the mob.

Of course there are also deeper long-term issues at play.

“In our recent history,” writes Paul Waldman in the Washington Post, “every election of a Democratic president is followed by a rise in conspiracy-obsessed right-wing populism. In the 1960s it was the John Birch Society; in the 1990s it was the militia movement shouting about black UN helicopters, and during the Obama presidency it was the Tea Party.

It’s also clear that President Obama’s race has a lot to do with far-right hysteria. Indeed, the most striking thing about Miller’s Facebook page is its sheer banality: Benghazi, Hillary, Nancy Pelosi, the global warming conspiracy, the tyranny of Obamacare, Agenda 21, fluoridated water, gun confiscation, etc.

I get chain emails about this nonsense every day. Along with veiled, and sometimes not so veiled, threats.

To the nutball right, ordinary Democratic voters have become the main enemy. Their apocalyptic theology requires a Satanic enemy, and it’s the majority. Some won’t rest until they get the violent confrontation they think they want. Then look for the professionals to take down the amateurs, with prejudice.

It’s the American way.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, June 11, 2014

June 12, 2014 Posted by | Cliven Bundy, Right Wing, Tea Party | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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