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Lawyers, Guns, and Money

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Bundy Gang terrorist holdout Sean Anderson screams death threats (YouTube video screen cap)

I’m hiding in Honduras – I’m a desperate man
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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 Anti-terrorism laws should be repealed, but it’s notable that the Bundy militia’s actions match the definition of domestic terrorism precisely: “acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of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

50 Comments

Land Grabbers Use Deceptive Video to Spread Anti-Government Hate

Rep. Ken Ivory’s American Lands Council is using a misleading video on Facebook to claim that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) deliberately started a 2012 wildfire in Oregon in order to kill cattle grazing on public land. In reality, the 161,000-acre Miller Homestead Fire was lightning-caused.

As is typical for grass fires, the fire front was fast-moving and could only be controlled using back burning techniques to create firebreaks (known as “black line” in firefighting parlance). It’s usually too slow and too dangerous to fight a grass fire directly using hand crews and bulldozers.

To add insult to injury, this bogus BLM smear video was paid for by taxpayers.

Ivory, R-West Jordan, was a co-founder and CEO of the American Lands Council, to which 47 counties in Western states spent a combined $219,000 of taxpayer money in 2014 to be members, according to the Center for Western Priorities.

The same lies were put on the Web last December by Ammon Bundy, claiming “BLM Destroying Ranches by Fire: Feds Burning Cows ALIVE, Torching Homes, Imprisoning Ranchers!” The baseless allegations against the BLM were intended to highlight alleged hypocrisy in the prosecution of two ranchers for earlier incidents of arson on public lands. A few weeks later Bundy led an armed terrorist takeover of the Malheur National Wildife Refuge on January 2.

From the official press release on the Miller Homestead Fire:

Two structures are reported lost in the incident: one, a long-abandoned, roofless mobile home, and the other a single structure within the M.S. Davies homestead (other infrastructure in this area was unharmed). It is also reported some livestock have been lost, though accurate counts have not been confirmed. All residences affected by the Miller Homestead fire have been successfully protected…

Firefighters successfully protected all residences and the hamlet of Frenchglen, but this doesn’t stop the anti-government fanatics from accusing the BLM of “torching homes”!

From the final report on the same fire:

Local Coordination – Local landowners and permittees were engaged from the initial attack on. A member of the Incident Management Type 3 Team stated, “Local folks worked well with BLM staff during those first few days. There was lots of coordination. BLM crews helped cut fences, open gates and secure cattle.” A landowner and permittee stated, “They worked with me on letting me build direct line that saved important feed from being part of a backfire. They got ideas from me for tying in black line, and it worked.”

Another said that initial attack priorities were set and communicated early with all involved.

Others noted that the Burns District tries to hire local young people for the crews when possible. This helps with knowing people and the land. One stated there is a strong sense that this is their home, and they want to protect it.

…Cattle represent a significant investment and their livelihood to their owners, and great lengths appear to have been taken to get them to safety in conjunction with fire activities.

An example of this occurred at Lone Tree Lake, a small dry reservoir. Six ranchers and a BLM law enforcement officer stayed with about 200 head of cattle while the fire burned around them. Just prior to the fire front reaching them, they burned out around the small dry reservoir to provide a black line for additional safety for the cattle and themselves. Fire managers were aware of this situation, and a helitack crew gave advice on where and when to ignite backfires.

Bear in mind that safety is always of paramount concern in wildland firefighting. Yet BLM personnel took personal risks in order to preserve property for ranchers during this fire.

More info:
Rolly: Video’s claim that BLM sparked devastating Oregon fires goes up in smoke
Inciweb: Miller Homestead Fire (2012)
Final Review Report for the Long Draw and Miller Homestead Fires (PDF)

7 Comments

If you’re excited about a caucus saying the Pledge of Allegiance, you’re excited about the wrong thing

No, seriously.

The AFA propaganda website, One News Now, has an article about the Iowa caucuses and they quote a first time caucus goer:

Mindy Breaux was one of those. A first-time caucus-goer and a homeschool mother of four, she tells OneNewsNow she was energized by the process.

“We went into the main hall and someone stood up and the first thing we did was recite the Pledge of Allegiance, which I was pretty excited about. I didn’t know they were going to do that,” she shares.

Yep.  That’s how low her expectations of other Americans happen to be – she was excited they said an organized Pledge.

3 Comments

Iowa Caucus Thoughts

Last night’s Iowa caucus results have the political world atwitter.

The only good news from the Republican side is that Donald Trump did not win.  Other than that, universally disliked Ted Cruz won and aggressive simpleton Marco Rubio pulled off third place behind Trump.

The Democratic side is more interesting.

Hillary Clinton is an impressive candidate.  Almost the entire Democratic establishment supports her candidacy and, by all appearances, she barely pulled off ridiculously narrow victory over Bernie Sanders.

Clinton’s narrow win reveals an interesting paradox. The first viable female candidate for President is part and parcel of the establishment and an old white guy from New England is the insurgent outsider. Anyone who predicted that outcome would be regarded as slightly mad. Hillary Clinton is shrewd, intelligent, and puts in truly inhuman amounts of work. She’s a battle hardened veteran of decades of right wing smears and attacks. She’s probably one of the best policy minds we’ve seen. She is, however, a slightly awkward campaigner; she’s clearly uncomfortable with attack politics and so she often bungles her attacks.

Bernie, by contrast, is more of a wildcard. Younger voters respond to his message, but he seems to be more of a shoot from the hip kind of politician when it comes to tactical choices.

The smart money is still on a Clinton victory in the Democratic primary. But the next few months have some very interesting potential.

9 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

Ted Cruz’s Health Insurance Nonsense

Ted Cruz has taken to wandering the countryside claiming that he lost his health insurance because of Obamacare.

Ted Cruz is a Republican.

Ted Crus is a liar.

But, I repeat myself.

Cruz had insurance from his wife’s employer. When she stopped working to campaign full time, he lost that coverage.

Now, since that is a qualifying life event, he had options. For example, COBRA. He could have signed up for insurance through the exchange. As a US Senator, he could get coverage through the US government (although he’s required to purchase it through the exchange). He could have called an insurance company and purchased insurance. He could have assigned one of his aides to do it for him.

He did not.

IOW, Ted Cruz deliberately allowed his family to go without insurance when he had multiple options.

 

11 Comments

Bishop-Chaffetz Bill Is An Attack On Our Public Lands

Today we finally got a look at the Bishop-Chaffetz Public Lands Initiative discussion draft, covering public lands issues in 7 eastern Utah counties. It was not worth the wait.

From the Center for Western Priorities:

After years of work, Congressman Rob Bishop released a draft of his long-awaited Public Lands Initiative (PLI) bill on Wednesday. Early reporting already shows Congressman Bishop trying to spin his bill as a balanced and collaborative success story, even before the public has an opportunity to review the legislation.

Don’t be fooled: The draft Public Lands Initiative bill is an extreme and deceptive attack on our nation’s public lands that does little for conservation. The legislation is another ideological vehicle for Congressman Bishop to express his disdain for national public lands, rather than a true attempt at addressing diverse stakeholder needs.

Rep. Bishop stated recently that “people will win and people will lose” in his bill. There’s no doubt that the winners Bishop picked are big oil and gas companies and Utah’s misguided public lands policy, while the losers include hikers, campers, sportsmen and women, Native American tribes, and the American people.

  • The worst part of the bill is that the 40 areas Congressman Bishop calls “Wilderness” would not be designated wilderness as it’s been understood since the passage of the Wilderness Act over 50 years ago. “It is a designation in name only, and that alone makes the bill a nonstarter,” says Aaron Weiss, spokesman for the Center for Western Priorities.
  • Unspoiled public lands that are currently set aside as BLM wilderness study areas would be given up forever and released for industrial uses.
  • The bill also creates so-called “energy zones,” i.e. areas open to expedited oil, gas, and other mineral leasing and development.
  • The bill seeks to open up disputed RS 2477 right-of-way claims to motorized travel.
  • Bishop wants to prohibit any new national monument designations by presidential proclamation.
  • Congressman Bishop just waged a vicious and ultimately unsuccessful battle against America’s most successful parks program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Fresh off his defeat, Bishop is now trying to gut LWCF within Utah by banning land management agencies from using LWCF funds to protect land inside new wilderness and conservation areas.

More info:
Public Lands Initiative discussion draft
Bishop Public Lands Proposal Unveiled, Already Sparking Criticism
Bishop public lands bill unveiled amid support, criticism
Rob Bishop’s “Public Lands Initiative” is an Insidious Attack on Our Public Lands

UPDATE:
New House Bill Gives Away Public Lands, Creates Pseudo-Wilderness Areas

[O]ver the past several months there have been many significant changes made to the bill, turning it from a gesture of compromise to a divisive bill that includes Bundy-style public land giveaways, pseudo-wilderness protections, accelerated oil and gas development, and the marginalization of several original stakeholder groups.

6 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

It’s About Time: Medicare Finally Reimburses Doctors For Having End of Life Discussions With Patients

Two powerful and provocative posts at DKos have my attention tonight.

The first by Joan McCarter is a short piece entitled RIP ‘death panels,’ and welcome to a bit of sanity in our national health system.

But the idea was reborn this year thanks to efforts by many, including Goodman’s “The Conversation Project,” a group of healthcare providers, clergy, and media who began meeting in 2010. The group brainstormed over how to talk about dying better in this country, and how to help the people we love die better. That and efforts by many others led to real policy this year.

What now? The new Medicare rules will help encourage and normalize end-of-life conversations. Beginning Friday, doctors and other clinicians will be reimbursed for talking with all their patients—not just sick patients—about end-of-life care. Quietly, in one room after another, in 2016, a talk that almost derailed Obamacare in 2009, will become routine.

The new policy reimburses doctors for having end of life discussions.  It was good policy in 2009 and 2010 – the manic ravings of conservatives nearly derailed healthcare reform over an imagined lie.  It’s finally policy. It’s about damned time.

The second article began as a response to McCarter’s – Death with dignity is something we all deserve.

Being five years removed from having to make a decision to end life support for a family member allows for some clarity that I did not have when I wrote, “I wish she would die.”

After that post, I received the well wishes of many, many members of the Daily Kos family. I also had people seek out my email address, phone number, and home address to contact me and tell me just how horrible a person I was to wish for the death of my beloved mother. [snip]

The sad thing is, just two years later, my vet showed more compassion to me, and to my family when it came time to make the decision to put my Shepherd/Lab mix Duke down. The decision was made in private, he was put to sleep at my home, and the vet took the time to reassure us that we were doing the right thing. She even left us with literature on dealing with the loss of a pet. My dog, Duke, suffered far less in his final hours than my own mother did in hers.

I’ll probably have more to say about this later, but it’s important to realize that the pattern of the health care reform debate has been with us since the minute Barack Obama began running for President. Republicans and conservatives scream and shout things that are flat out lies, completely untrue.  The media mindlessly reports those things and the entire public debate is distorted as result. The tragedy is that these Republican lies result in real human suffering.

3 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

Martin Longman’s Provocative Thoughts on “The Establishment”

Over at Washington Monthly, Martin Longman offers a provocative meditation on “the Establishment.”

There’s a growing consensus that our establishment has failed us and isn’t worthy. Self-correction has broken down. Accountability is in short supply.

We can’t abolish the establishment. They are always with us in every society. But they need to –we need them to– get their act together.

Longman provides some interesting historical examples – the 1972 election when the Democratic establishment couldn’t bring itself to support McGovern but tried to salvage the down ticket races, 1944 when Wilkie and FDR explored the idea of creating a new liberal, political party (abandoned because “the need was perceived at the time by the establishment of both parties because events were too fraught to leave the conservatives in charge of something as powerful as one of our two viable political parties”).

The Republican establishment is in shambles. The Democratic establishment is facing a profound challenge from Bernie Sanders (one they can’t dismiss but can’t fully engage). The establishment has too much invested in keeping things working to let them go to hell, but they need to stop being so damned complacent and act now.

12 Comments

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