Archive for category Religion

Privatizing Comb Ridge: When ‘Public’ Land Isn’t Really Public

Privatizing the Comb Ridge from Friends of Cedar Mesa on Vimeo.

A key square-mile parcel of Comb Ridge near Bluff is being sold by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), ignoring the majority of Utahns who commented on the proposed sale. I attended a public hearing about this land sale in Bluff on June 7. SITLA Director David Ure opened the meeting by explaining that the state-owned lands he manages are not in fact public lands although many people have that impression. The SITLA holdings, he said, are actually PRIVATE land. The impression was created that this was a done deal no matter what anybody says.

The buyer is the Hole-in-the-Rock Foundation, which already owns the Bluff Fort tourist attraction. The Foundation says they do not have plans to build permanent structures at Comb Ridge, however after acquiring the land plans may change at any time. At the very least, they will devote the land to a single use — ignoring the broad public interest and the cultural importance of this land to Native Americans.

Here’s the big picture: Gov. Herbert and the Tea-GOP majority in the Utah legislature are planning to sue the federal government to grab 30 million acres of our public lands and national forests. If the state ever gets this land, it will instantly become PRIVATE land as David Ure can tell you. That is what is at stake here.

Support the Bears Ears National Monument!

14 Comments

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

73 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

71 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

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

Edward Snowden Shows Up In Park City, Utah

edward snowden
Well, only virtually, but it is one of the most interesting interviews I’ve ever heard. The obvious weight of the event makes the audience eerily silent through the first part. In fact I wasn’t even aware there was an audience until Snowden gets applause for the first of many statements that are undeniably illumining of our times, in ways you haven’t thought of before.

He’s had a lot of time to think about what he did, by breaking the law with the knowlege his life would be changing, forever. Personally, I think the guy is brilliant, obviously brave, and very hard to refute, even considering the stunning scope of his actions.

He points out that fewer of our leaders have been calling for his head since his revelations first came out, and that’s not really an exaggeration. There’s still one man, James Woolsey, who very recently called for him to be hung and even blames him for the terrorist attack in France.

In a presidential debate, Hillary Clinton was not much more forgiving then Woolsey. Bernie Sanders said he should pay a price for what he did, but also acknowledged that his actions have had positive effects. Surprisingly, Snowden agrees with Sanders and has even said he would stand trial, and be willing to go to prison, providing he gets a fair and transparent trial. Humorously, he has documents that state the only thing our government has guaranteed, is that he won’t be tortured.

Interviewer Doug Fabrizio, tests him pretty hard on his insistence that handing the top secret NSA documents to the media for careful release to the public was a safe way to go, and, indeed, top officials testifying have admitted that nobody has been put in danger. Pretty amazing.

Be sure to carfully listen to the whole show. The points Snowden makes at the end are compelling and irrefutable.

Radio West, 11-07-2015

7 Comments

Is anyone surprised an anti-abortion Republican is afraid of research into abortion?

To be honest, there are so many gob-smacking details in the story it’s difficult to know which deserve the most mockery.

Let’s start by noting that the Missouri state senator involved is chair of the Missouri senate’s interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life.  Let’s just pause and let that sink in.

What the actual fuck?!  The state of Missouri’s senators are so far gone that they actually have a Committee on the Sanctity of life. The duties of said committee are spelled out here and are genuinely stunning in multiple, utterly nonsensical ways: Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

Dr. Ben Carson Offers $2.5 Trillion Federal Deficit

Dr. Ben Carson

Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch points out that Tea-GOP presidential front runner Dr. Ben Carson’s federal budget numbers add up to an out-of-control annual deficit.

1. Carson proposes a 10 percent flat income tax according to the biblical practice of tithing. This would raise taxes on the poorest 47 percent of Americans, tax the rich at about 1/4 the current rate, and result in an estimated $1.1 trillion in annual revenue.

2. Carson wants a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which is unlikely to pass. Such an amendment would make deficits unconstitutional. Carson also says that, as President, he would never sign legislation to raise the debt limit.

3. Carson also would impose a federal hiring freeze, and order cuts of 3 to 4 percent across federal departments, except defense.

Slate’s Jordan Weissmann points out that even if “you were to cut all federal outlays, including Medicare, Medicaid, military spending, and Social Security, by 4 percent, you would save less than $150 billion.” Weissmann also noted that a strict government hiring freeze “would only save about $50 billion over a decade.”

Here’s the arithmetic:

Subtract 4% from the current approximately $3.2 trillion in non-military spending, and you get $3.072 trillion. Add the $600 billion Pentagon budget (which does not include the cost of overseas military operations, BTW). So President Carson would spend $3.672 annually to fund the federal government. Subtract $1.1 trillion in revenues. The answer: Carson would have a $2.572 trillion annual budget deficit, which is more than 6 times the FY 2015 $426 billion deficit.

But wait a minute, he’s for a balanced budget and not adding to the National Debt.

I really hope he gets called on this nonsense in tonight’s debate.

More info:
Ben Carson’s budget plan makes absolutely no sense

16 Comments

Kim Davis, Religion and the Religious Right’s Perpetual Culture War

The basic outline of this drama could have been predicted (and was predicted) months ago – someone objects to same-sex couples marrying; in their business or government position they refuse to issue marriage licenses or otherwise serve same-sex couples. A minor media brushfire occurs, a right wing legal organization leaps into the fray and throws gasoline on the fire.  A court orders the person to issue said marriage licenses or provide said services.  Person refuses, and on the advice of the legal organization starts talking about religious freedom.  Court orders person to do their job.  Person refuses.  Right wing legal organization gives bad advice, hoping to create a martyr.  Person goes to jail for contempt of court.  The Religious Right goes up in flames.

The specific details were always up for grabs – there’s no reason it had to be Rowan County, Kentucky rather than Mobile, Alabama or Twin Falls, Idaho.  The objector could have been a man not a woman, a judge not a county clerk or the owner of a business.  That the objector would adhere to a form fundamentalist Christianity was a given, although the specific form doesn’t make much difference (Davis belongs to an Apostolic Christian Church). The actual nature of the objection could easily have been a cut and paste job – we were always going to hear screeching about religious freedom and how this poor person is being oppressed. Even the specifics of the punishment are largely unimportant – whether it was jail time or fines or an order to comply with nondiscrimination laws, the reaction was always going to be the same.  Even the comparisons to Rosa Parks were inevitable as the religious right tries to coopt the luster of the Civil Rights movement.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis helpfully stepped into the fray. Her refusal to issue any and all marriage licenses, especially to same-sex couples, put her in the middle of the fight the religious right has wanted for the longest time. Read the rest of this entry »

7 Comments

Conservatives Anti-Abortion Obsession Will Cause More Abortions, More STDs and More Misery

but then we all already knew that, right?

Nicholas Kristof’s column this morning makes several shrewd observations:

TO appreciate the dumbing down of American politics, consider this: Conservative Republicans, indignant about abortion, are trying to destroy a government program that helps prevent 345,000 abortions a year.

And:

In other words, Title X prevents an abortion about once every 90 seconds.

And

Family planning investments also offer hedge fund-like returns, for a condom or IUD can avert more than $12,000 in average Medicaid spending on a childbirth. Guttmacher calculates that every $1 invested in public family planning services saves $7 in public expenditures. This is a program that saves money as well as lives.

The paradox of conservative Republicans falling all over themselves to condemn Planned Parenthood for a practice that many Republicans voted to authorize while also threatening to defund and destroy a program that prevents hundreds of thousands of abortions perfectly exemplifies the self-defeating nature of conservative policy.

Mark Summer at Kos sums up the conservative obsession perfectly:

For them, abortion has never been an issue. It’s AN ISSUE. It’s not about babies, after all, it’s about (sotto voce) S-E-X. Any program that helps women with… women things, is something, something, somehow a Very Serious Threat that women should fail in their defined role as the guardians of virtue. After all, how many little girls out there are thinking right now “well, I would be a total sex-crazed slut if only there was someone standing by with federal funds to help me not catch chlamydia.” Se… (ahem) S-E-X should be scary. And is something that should be reserved to old male Congressmen who have the money to pay for it.

It seems to me there’s a deeper force at work.  In Republican Gomorrah, Max Blumenthal described it as the culture of personal crisis. It should not be lost on us that conservative states have higher rates of unintended pregnancy and teen pregnancy than do progressive states, it should not be lost on us that divorce rates are higher in conservative religious Alabama than they are in liberal Massachusetts. Texas’ conservative, overtly religious political culture produces policies which reliably produce higher rates of teen pregnancy, unintended pregnancy and divorce which creates the feedback loops that drives Texas’ conservative, overtly religious political culture. Opposition to abortion, and more broadly any honesty about sexuality, is not driven by rational concerns and doesn’t connect to rational policies.  When faced with an angry constituency wanting to know why they haven’t done anything about Roe v. Wade, conservative Republicans have no rational policy response so they’ve lashed out at a government policy that is about sex and therefore must somehow alleviate the anger. Then, when the policy response fails, conservatives will, no doubt, decry the culture of personal crisis their policies have created and deepened.  It’s a great racket.

18 Comments

%d bloggers like this: