Archive for category National Politics

Lawyers, Guns, and Money

Send lawyers, guns and money
Bundy Gang terrorist holdout Sean Anderson screams death threats (YouTube video screen cap)

I’m hiding in Honduras – I’m a desperate man
Send lawyers, guns, and money
The shit has hit the fan

Warren Zevon

Today is Day 37 of the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Bundy Gang terrorists have created one martyr after the “suicide by cop” of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum. Four armed holdouts are still camped at the refuge, anticipating a shoot-out with law enforcement. It’s uncertain how this will end.

In an well-written article, Raw Story’s Arun Gupta dissects the problems with the FBI’s response to this terrorist incident, not the least of which is the failure to bring terrorism charges. Gupta has been covering this story from Burns, Oregon.

The lax approach for weeks at Malheur made Burns a magnet for armed militiamen who spread fear in the town. The refuge became a platform for the Bundy militia to promote its radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and organize their armed rebellion.

The Bundy episode also exposed how the legal framework of the “war on terror” is used primarily on racial, religious and political grounds. Anti-terrorism laws should be repealed, but it’s notable that the Bundy militia’s actions match the definition of domestic terrorism precisely: “acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State” and that “appear to be intended … to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.”

The armed band has held the Malheur Refuge for more than a month now. The Bundys told reporters they would “kill or be killed if necessary.” They were setting up shadow governments in Eastern Oregon as a step toward overthrowing the U.S. government. Local and federal government employees were threatened. Most recently, Cliven Bundy sent the Harney County sheriff a notarized letter claiming “possession” of the refuge.

But there is no indication arrestees will be charged with domestic terrorism or that the scores of people who came by the refuge offering supplies or aid will be charged with providing material support for terrorism.

..The Bundys are also being spared the throw-the-book-at-them response prosecutors use in post-9/11 terror cases. The contrast is telling because whereas the Bundys plotted actively and openly to use violence to further political ends, the majority of terror cases are cooked up by the FBI. They trap “mentally ill or … economically desperate” Muslim-Americans who wind up with decades-long sentences. Sometimes the charges are astonishingly minor, such as a U.S.-born college student who accepted a 15-year sentence, rather than the 70 years sought by prosecutors, by saying he knew a houseguest was carrying sleeping bags and waterproof socks to an al Qaeda contact in Afghanistan. This severity also extended to Occupy Wall Street. In Cleveland and Chicago, white male anarchists received lengthy sentences after they were goaded, bribed and guided by undercover police and FBI informants to participate in fake terror plots.

The list of convicted terrorists in U.S. prisons consists mostly of Muslims, leftists, and environmentalists. There are very few right-wingers – notably Terry Nichols and Eric Rudolph.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that in addition to guns the Bundys are working the lawyers and money angles. The Eugene-based Arnold Law Firm now represents the terrorists, and has set up a website to collect donations for legal bills.

Over the course of the terrorist takeover, The Oregonian has done some really excellent journalism. They told the story of the Burns Paiute Tribe, who were forcibly evicted from their 1.5 million acre reservation by the U.S. Army in 1879. Unlike the Bundys, the tribe can make a good case for having suffered from government oppression.

The tribe later recovered a fraction of its former reservation, 760 acres on the outskirts of town, after agreeing to pay the federal government for the land.

The Oregonian also put the recent events in context by comparing the Bundy Gang takeover to 1970s Marxist terrorists in Oregon and a 1979 takeover of the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia by dispossessed black residents.

More info:
Government inaction gave Bundy militants a platform to spread their anti-government delusions
Ethical Questions Surround Ammon Bundy’s Legal Team, Strategy
Burns Paiutes to Ammon Bundy: You’re not the victim
Oregon standoff: Feds forcibly removed black occupiers from wildlife refuge in 1979

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The $675,000 Question

Last night, Hillary Clinton told Anderson Cooper that she doesn’t regret taking $675,000 from Goldman Sachs for making three speeches. It wasn’t a good answer. Bear in mind that many Americans won’t earn that much money in a lifetime of hard work.

Hillary justifies her outrageous speaking fees because other former Secretaries of State did the same thing.

In the MSNBC debate tonight, Rachel Maddow offered Hillary a do-over on the same question. The answer was better this time. But everybody knows that these exorbitant speaking fees are not buying inspiring rhetoric or even policy advice. It’s just a way to funnel enormous sums to political allies.

Politifact:

January 2014 to March 2015, Clinton lists a total of 51 speech fees that have been added to her personal account from a variety of companies. Not including her husband’s fees which also appear on the same disclosure, Clinton’s speech fees end up totaling more than $11 million.

In tonight’s debate, Chuck Todd asked Hillary if she would release the transcripts of her Goldman Sachs speeches. “I will look into it,” was her response.

More info:
Hillary Clinton: I Took $675,000 In Speaking Fees From Wall Street Because I Didn’t Know I Would Run For President
Clinton will ‘look into’ releasing Goldman Sachs speech transcripts

15 Comments

Malheur NWR Terrorists Surrounded Now, Surrendering

Roadblock

After the arrest of eight Bundy Gang terrorists on Tuesday night, the FBI and Oregon State Police finally set up roadblocks outside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge HQ that has been occupied for 26 days. However, the FBI offered to let everyone leave peacefully. Three arrests were made at a checkpoint, but others were allowed to go.

Throughout the day Wednesday David Fry, a 27-year-old Ohioan who has kept up a near-constant video live stream in the occupation’s last days, remained at the refuge. His YouTube channel, DefendYourBase, broadcast belligerent statements from the holdouts. That night, Fry said that only five people remained, and that those who departed had left their weapons behind.

OregonLive:

Jason Patrick, a former roofer from Georgia, had stepped in to organize the estimated 10 or so people who remained at the federal reserve after the arrest the day before of leaders Ammon Bundy and Ryan Payne and the killing of occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum.

…But Patrick was among those who apparently were on their way out Wednesday evening, supporters said. [Patrick was arrested by the FBI]

Duane Ehmer, the much-photographed horse-mounted cowboy from Irrigon, Oregon, was confirmed to have left.

“We have him and his horse,” a law enforcement official said.

…Bundy called on the last occupiers to “please stand down,” his attorney said on the steps of the federal courthouse in downtown Portland.

…A steady trickle of occupiers already had taken up offers to leave, including one of the last remaining leaders, Blaine Cooper [real name: Stanley Blaine Hicks]. Cooper, who is typically active on social media, was quiet on Wednesday and his whereabouts remain unknown.

Mug shots
Shown in the top row are Ammon Bundy, 40, of Emmett, Idaho; Ryan Bundy, 43, of Bunkerville, Nevada; Brian Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada; and Shawna Cox, 59, of Kanab, Utah. Shown in the bottom row are Ryan Waylen Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Montana; Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy, 45, of Cottonwood, Arizona; and conservative radio host Pete Santilli, 50, of Cincinnati, Ohio. Jon Eric Ritzheimer, 32, also turned himself into the FBI in Phoenix on a federal charge related to the occupation.

UPDATES:
A few militant stragglers remain at Oregon wildlife refuge — drinking beer, smoking weed and waiting to die

More info:
FBI tells militants in Oregon: Actions are not without consequences
Harney County Sheriff On Standoff: ‘This Cannot Happen In America’
Meet The New Leader Of The Oregon Standoff
Berserk militant promises ‘bloodbath’ as feds move in: ‘This is a free-for-all Armageddon’
Occupiers leaving amid mounting calls to end the takeover
3 More Militiamen Arrested Outside Of Oregon Wildlife Refuge
‘First Ruby Ridge and Waco — now Burns’: Militant leaders issue warning after LaVoy Finicum’s death
Wikipedia: Occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
Oregon standoff: A timeline of how the confrontation unfolded

69 Comments

Robert Reich: ‘Six Responses to Bernie Skeptics’

Bernie skeptics

How to respond to Bernie skeptics? Watch our latest video to find out.

Posted by Robert Reich on Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Via MoveOn.org. In case anyone has forgotten, Robert Reich was President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Labor.

8 Comments

Malheur Terrorist Takeover, Day 25


BREAKING: Leader of Oregon occupation Ammon Bundy, at least 8 others arrested

Video: OregonLive

The Oregonian’s OregonLive website keeps up to date with the latest developments in the ongoing Bundy Gang terrorist occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. We are now on Day 25, and there is no sign of action from federal law enforcement.

Negotiations between terror group leader Ammon Bundy and the FBI seem to have broken down because all Bundy wants to negotiate are the terms under which the entire U.S. Government is supposed to surrender to HIM. Because nobody else understands what our Constitution says about public property, or something.

More info:
Have you signed the WH petition to arrest Malheur Refuge occupiers?
Oregon standoff venue changes to Grant County, where counter-protesters await
Drunk Wannabe Militia Man Arrested On Way To Join Standoff (VIDEO)
An Oregon man involved in the armed standoff has been arrested on multiple charges today
Ammon Bundy: Militiamen Are ‘Actually Protecting Rights Of All’
Twitter: #OregonStandoff

Background:
Wikipedia: Occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

16 Comments

‘We’re going to talk about how much we love public lands’

Conservationists gathered today in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to send a strong message in support of our public lands, particularly the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

“We can show the gang that’s out there at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge how you really make a public statement in support of something,” said Sean Stevens, executive director of Oregon Wild.

“We’re going to be positive. We’re going to be peaceful and we’re going to talk about how much we love public lands.”

…Bob Sallinger, conservation director of the Portland Audubon Society of Porltand, said the armed occupation needs to end and the lands need to be returned to the public owners.

“This country really cares about these places,” Sallinger said. “This illegal armed occupation needs to end. It needs to be prosecuted and these lands need to be returned to the people.”

46 Comments

Bernie: ‘Greed Is Not Good’

Here we are with less than three weeks until Americans begin casting their first votes in Iowa and New Hampshire, and the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaigns are tied, polling within the margin of error.

Months ago, the consensus of the pundits was that Bernie had entered the presidential race with the hope of nudging Hillary’s campaign platform just a little bit left. That happened, of course – she has switched positions on marriage equality, gun safety, undocumented immigrants, so-called “free trade” treaties, and the Keystone XL pipeline. What few saw at the outset was that significant numbers of Democratic primary voters were not enthusiastic about another Clinton administration, whatever the promises.

Bernie has relentlessly stayed on message, and his message is that income and wealth inequality are destroying our democracy. We have to rein in the “billionaire class,” he says.

“Greed is not good,” Sanders said, countering the famed Wall Street movie character Gordon Gekko played by Michael Douglas in the 1987 film Wall Street. “In fact, the greed of Wall Street and corporate America is destroying the very fabric of our nation.”

A centerpiece of his plan is a pledge to break up the biggest banks and financial institutions, whose size and complexity threaten the financial system as a whole and the U.S. economy.

Sanders says that if he were elected president one of his first acts would be to tell the Treasury Department to establish a “too-big-to-fail” list of commercial banks plus shadow financial institutions and insurance companies whose failure would pose a “catastrophic risk” to the U.S. economy and move to downsize them to make them safer.

Bernie wants to restore Glass-Steagall protections against risky “shadow” banking activities that were put in place in 1933 to prevent another Great Depression. In 1999 President Bill Clinton signed the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act into law, permitting the partial repeal of Glass–Steagall – which led to the formation of the housing bubble over the next decade until it burst in 2008 at the end of George W. Bush’s presidency. The result was the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Glass-Steagall “worked for more than five decades until Wall Street watered it down under President Reagan and killed it under President Clinton,” said Sanders pointedly in his speech.

There is a clear difference between the two candidates on Wall Street regulation: Clinton won’t support the restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act. Bernie also wants to bring back a financial transaction tax like the one that was in effect from 1914 to 1966. A small tax could actually raise big money and discourage the sort of large-volume program trading that causes a “flash crash” in the stock markets.

UPDATE:
Some media talking heads are still not willing to entertain the idea of Bernie Sanders as the Dem nominee. This morning on MSNBC, Joe Scarborough was speculating about a “Plan B” featuring Biden or Kerry if Hillary doesn’t win Iowa and New Hampshire. Mika Brzezinski quite reasonably asked, why not Bernie?

Also, too:

A recent poll surprised a lot of insiders by suggesting that Bernie Sanders would do better against Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton would –beating Trump by 13 points.

This was confirmed by an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll.

But this should be no surprise at all. With a lot of angry voters in a populist mood, they would likely opt for the real economic populist rather than the fake one.

UPDATE:
Sanders Opens 14-Point Lead Over Clinton In New Hampshire Poll


More info:

Bernie Sanders’s Plan to Tame Wall Street Riles Clinton Camp

29 Comments

Rolling Stone Hits the Y’AllQaeda/Vanilla ISIS Nail on the Head

This brilliant, devastating article published by Rolling Stone, entitled The Dumb and Restless, by Matt Taibbi (of course!), perfectly sums up the Bundy yahoos occupying the Malheur Bird Refuge.

Every time these people open their mouths, it’s comedy.

He goes on to point out:

There’s no doubt that these people are dangerous, but their ridiculousness is a huge part of who they are. [snip]

The Bundy militiamen are an extreme example of a type that’s become common in America. Like the Tea Partiers, they seem to not only believe that they’re the only people in history who’ve ever paid taxes, but that they’re the only people who were ever sad about it. What they call tyranny on the part of the federal government just means putting up with the same irritating bills and regulations and other crap that we all put up with, only the rest of us don’t whine about it in the front seats of our cars while posing in front of tripods.

Again, these people may be dangerous, but their boundless self-pity, their outrageous sense of entitlement and their slapstick incompetence as rebels and terrorists are absolutely ridiculous. Sure, it may not help, but how can we not laugh?

The paradox of these misfits is that they’re simultaneously fully capable of being deadly and completely laughable. They’re hysterical (in both sense of the word). And they’re going get somebody killed.  It’s time they stopped playing dress up and grew up.

16 Comments

Anti-Government Terrorists Stage Armed Occupation of Federal Building

Terrorists at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

The son of Cliven Bundy, a hodgepodge of right-wing and anti-Islam activists and local Oregon militia members have occupied the visitor center at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon in an apparent bid to provoke a confrontation with federal law enforcement.

No, this is NOT a “peaceful” protest. These guys are heavily armed terrorists seeking violence.

Statement from Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward (emphasis added):

“After the peaceful rally was completed today, a group of outside militants drove to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, where they seized and occupied the refuge headquarters. A collective effort from multiple agencies is currently working on a solution. For the time being please stay away from that area. More information will be provided as it becomes available. Please maintain a peaceful and united front and allow us to work through this situation.”

A Twitter report from Jason Wilson, the Guardian’s reporter on the scene:

I drove out there. It was just them – no law enforcement and no other media. I was not allowed to enter and strongly encouraged to leave.

We’re awaiting further developments.

More info:
Oregon militia threatens showdown with US agents at wildlife refuge
A Militia Has Taken Over A Federal Building In Oregon
Bundy, Militia Occupies Wildlife Refuge HQ In Bid for Confrontation with Feds
Armed Militia Seized A Federal Building. The Media Called Them ‘Peaceful.’
WTF Is Happening in the Oregon Militia Standoff, Explained
Armed group’s leader in federal building: ‘We will be here as long as it takes’
Courting Anarchy: LaVoy Finicum, Utah ranchers, and the militia movement
The Armed Oregon Ranchers Who Want Free Land Are Already Getting A 93 Percent Discount

UPDATES:
The news media have now coined a new term, “armed protesters,” in order to avoid the obvious conclusion that these guys are terrorists.
Ammon Bundy Holds A Convoluted Press Conference In Oregon
OK, so the leader of a terrorist group engaged in an act of terrorism held a public press conference today in the USA. Does anyone have a problem with that?
Ammon Bundy Says He’s Following Directions From God (Well alright then!). The LDS Church says they don’t think so.

OPB: For Now, Law Enforcement And Militants Won’t Cross Tracks

For the militants, the morning press briefings are the oxygen that breathes life into their occupation. This is the occupiers’ chance to repeat their message, knowing the press will listen, hoping there will be some news of when this might end.

…Federal agents have a different media strategy than the militants — they want the press to get lost.

Oregon militia’s behavior increasingly brazen as public property destroyed

Now entering their third week of occupying the Malheur national wildlife refuge in rural Harney County, leaders of the militia appear to be testing the patience of the local sheriff’s department and the FBI by brazenly commandeering and in some cases destroying public property while escalating their anti-government rhetoric.

68 Comments

‘We don’t second-guess police officers’

Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy, was killed by a policeman in Cleveland last November. He had a toy gun. But even if the gun had been real, and loaded, Rice could not have been accused of a crime because Ohio is an “open carry” state.

Surveillance video showed that Rice was gunned down less than two seconds after the police arrived.

After a 13-month investigation, a grand jury failed to return indictments against either of the two officers involved in the incident. As prosecutor Timothy McGinty declared, “We don’t second-guess police officers.”

More info:
What Everyone Should Know About The Police Killing Of Tamir Rice (2002-2014)
How A Prosecutor Managed To Blame A 12-Year-Old For Getting Killed By A Cop
Bernie Sanders wants federal probe of Tamir Rice case: ‘We need to take a hard look’ at police use of force

UPDATE:
Protesters Shut Down Streets After Cop Who Killed 12-Year-Old Boy Goes Free

“All I wanted was someone to be held accountable. But this entire process was a charade,” said Rice’s mother, Samaria Rice, in a statement Monday evening. “I pray and hope that the federal government will investigate this case.”

5 Comments

Magic Carpet Bombing

Carpet Bombing

Carpet bombing (aka indiscriminate saturation bombing) is actually a war crime. Nevertheless, Rafael (“Ted”) Cruz says he is a fan:

In early December, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, began saying that his military approach to ISIS would be “carpet bombing.” He said during a speech in Iowa on Dec. 5 that “we will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.”

Senator Cruz doubled down on his campaign rhetoric during this week’s CNN Tea-GOP presidential debate.

What makes this scary is the current mood of the Tea-GOP electorate, which is nothing if not utterly irrational and angry. Public Policy Polling found that “30% of Republican primary voters nationally say they support bombing Agrabah. Agrabah is the country from Aladdin.”

To be fair, 19 percent of Dems polled also supported an attack on the made-up Arabian nation from the 1992 animated film. We can’t mince words, you have to call this by its proper name: magic carpet bombing. Which is as good a term as any to describe the insane posturing that dominates the current political debate over national security issues.

More info:
Poll: 30 percent of Republicans want to bomb country from ‘Aladdin’
Poll: 30 percent of GOP voters support bombing any Arab sounding nation — even the fictional land of Aladdin
People Want To Bomb The Fictional Kingdom In ‘Aladdin,’ But Don’t Panic Yet

4 Comments

Zephyr Teachout : Bernie Sanders Brings Big Dreams

Bernie Sanders

I was contemplating a post about the horrible mess in Syria and Iraq, and how the USA is involved in yet another complicated, unwinnable war halfway around the world (this time without any congressional authorization). The facts are depressing, especially the mounting indications that our government is lying to us regarding just how badly the war is going. I’m going to leave that for later.

HuffPo has an upbeat piece by Zephyr Teachout titled simply: Bernie Sanders for President: 10 Reasons. It was a joy to read. One sentence just about made my day:

There is too much fear in our political life: he brings big dreams instead.

Bernie Sanders is the only 2016 presidential contender who doesn’t make me worry that he’s not on our side. Virtually every other candidate has taken policy positions and made statements that ought to disqualify them from seeking the presidency.

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