Nel's New Day

July 7, 2015

Who Do Conservatives—and Fox Hate?

 

The Homeless (and Bill DeBlasio): A Bill O’Reilly segment used Jesse Watters to wander around Penn Station asking homeless people where they slept and whether they had drinking problems. After five minutes of this, he asked mostly white commuters about how scary homeless people are, going so far as to repeatedly asking a young child because she initially expressed some compassion for the homeless. Watters blames New York Mayor DeBlasio because, as O’Reilly and Watters agreed, the homeless knew their place under Giuliani and Bloomberg. 

Black People (ala Geraldo Rivera): After criticism of Kendrick Lamar and hip hop, Rivera concluded that black people’s clothing styles and art forms are responsible for racism and excessive police violence against blacks. Hoodies and sagging pants kill. Peter Johnson, legal analyst for Fox, called people who fight against racism “cultural cousins” of the Charleston killer. Hearing that the anti-racism group Disarm NYPD was to hold a rally against the Confederate flag on July 1, he agreed with Fox and Friends commentators that the rally could be a “precursor” to a terrorist attack and called them “the essence of anarchist values that seek to destroy the country.”

Immigrants: Following Donald Trump’s accusations that undocumented immigrants are largely rapists and other criminals, Megyn Kelly cited Ann Coulter’s “whole book right now that makes this point….  She cites data that does support the fact that some, obvious, immigrants who come across the borders do turn out to be criminals.” Rivera’s statement that “undocumented immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than the citizen population of the United States” didn’t faze her.

Looking at Donald Trump’s amazing popularity in the polls, Rick Santorum decided to follow the presidential candidate in bashing immigrants. Sunday he told CBS John Dickerson, “People who are coming illegally obviously are coming with a bad intent. Let’s just be honest, they coming with the clear intent of breaking the law.” Trump has support from other GOP candidates New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Ted Cruz (TX).

In Dublin (Ireland), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told an audience that immigration reform is on the top of his agenda. He told people in the United States the same thing two years ago but hasn’t made a move on the issue.

Hollywood “Elite”: Sen. Rand Paul is making a name for himself by railing against the $25,000 seed money that the National Endowment for the Arts awarded the Academy of Motion Pictures Films and Sciences a $25,000 grant to aid in the planning of exhibits for a privately funded $300 million museum in Los Angeles. The man who opposes raising the minimum wage, pay for women, and spending on infrastructure calls the $25,000 the “equivalent of the tax burdens of four Americans.” He also wants to give big oil money while taxing the poor with a regressive flat tax. I call the $25,000 the equivalent of 15 percent that the country gives a member of Congress to do nothing but block progress.

Workers: Objecting to President Obama’s proposal to extend overtime protections to 5 million workers, Ainsley Earhardt explained that this was a bad idea: “I was making 20-some-odd-thousand dollars with my first job as a reporter, and I always said yes to everything that they asked me to do.” Co-host Sandra Smith agreed because former McDonald CEO Ed Rensi told Fox that “these jobs are not careers.”At this time, only workers who make less than $23,660 are eligible for overtime pay. The new rules would extend those protections to workers making as much as $50,440 a year. 

Same-gender couples Who Marry: Crazy Glenn Grothman, Wisconsin state representative, claimed that legalized marriage equality is an offense to those killed in the Civil War, “a strong religious war to further a Christian lifestyle by getting rid of slavery.” According to Grothman, people who died in the Civil War would be “shocked” to learn that the recent Supreme Court ruling used the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. According to GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, marriage equality is “an attack on Christians and their religious liberty is a hate crime that must be prosecuted.” In Colorado, the hatred is pointed at “almost all people who want to marry” because the ballot initiative for a state constitutional amendment would allow the rejection of almost any marriage.

The Supreme Court: The solution to progressive rulings at the end of June is to have “retention elections” by the “American people,” according to GOP presidential candidate Sen.Ted Cruz (R-TX). He wants a majority by the U.S. population and majorities in at least half the states to agree that justices are fit for retention. He said, “Who in their right mind would design a system where every major public policy issue of the day is decided not by the people, not by the Constitution, not by the elected representatives, but by nine elite lawyers in Washington, D.C.?” He forgets that the Founding Fathers put that into the Constitution that conservatives claim to revere.

Everyone in the U.S. Who Uses Any Infrastructure: Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) introduced the Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA) to terminate the gas tax that funds federal transportation projects and turn the responsibility of maintaining the interstates over to the states. Congress is trashing the country’s valuable infrastructure by refusing to increase the 18.4 cents per gallon put into effect 22 years ago. Just one example is the Arlington Memorial Bridge linking the Lincoln Memorial to Arlington National Cemetery across the Potomac River where several bridge lanes were closed in May and the weight limit eliminated the use of thousands of tour buses.

Recently, eight more states—seven of them Republican—are increasing gas taxes to provide vital repairs to falling bridges and crumbling roads. Nebraska even overrode the governor’s veto. Eight years ago, the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis killed 13 people and injured another 145. The same problems are evident at thousands of other bridges. The man responsible for this devastation is Grover Norquist who has blackmailed almost all GOP candidates into signing a “no-tax” pledge through his Americans for Tax Reform.

Presidential campaigning affects the way that states look at the infrastructure problem. In an attempt to avoid being known as a “tax-and-spend” candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has proposed $1.3 million in transportation bonds. GOP legislators are not happy about his idea, and Walker has pushed back his official candidacy announcement because of the ensuing battles.

Marijuana-Businesses-Donate-Big-Bucks-To-Clean-Up-Highways-In-Colorado

In Colorado, legalized marijuana is helping save the infrastructure. “Pot shops” are putting money into roads and highways, one of them as much as $100,000, beyond the 28-percent taxes that they pay. Republicans have had no comment thus far.

Human Rights Advocates: After the Human Rights Council of the UN condemned Israel for violating human rights of innocent Palestinians last summer, Cruz called for the U.S. to drop its membership in the council. The UN action was pretty tame, considering that Israel emulated the Nazis during World War II by officially calling for genocide against the Palestinians. Cruz has accused the UN of being anti-Semitic—but then he also thinks that UN is trying to close the golf courses in the United States.

People Who Use National Parks and Other Public Lands: The Koch brothers, through its executive director at the Koch-backed Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), is calling for no more national parks. In an op-ed for the New York Times, Reed Watson said that the government doesn’t need to care for lands because “true conservation is taking care of the land and water you already have.” He calls for the end to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a budget-neutral program using funds from offshore oil and gas development fees for federal, state, and local outdoor projects across the country—such as ones at the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. PERC’s goal is to sell off public lands to the highest bidder so that they can be used for mining, oil drilling, and cutting down trees.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), GOP presidential candidate, supports the Koch brothers plan to turn land back to states to use in any way that conservatives wish. Cliven Bundy, the man who succeeded in not paying the federal government for grazing by calling in renegade gun groups, met with Paul and said that they are “in tune with each other.”

And lots more hatred from conservatives later!

August 10, 2014

Conservatives Claim Moral High Ground But Ignore Bible, Constitution

God—and the U.S. Supreme Court—gave people the right to discriminate, according to Sens. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Mike Kelly (R-PA). That’s why they’re pushing a bill, “The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2014,” allowing adoption and foster care centers to discriminate against same-sex couples. Nowhere does the language in the bill use references to LGBT people, and it is so vague that any organization can discriminate against anyone if its “sincerely held religious beliefs” are being infringed. The senators claim that the bill is meant to “ensure children can continue to get care from people of faith,” but the bill is intended to give special rights to religious organizations.

Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who started a range war against the U.S. government, told a gathering last week that his vendetta was between good and evil. Providing him personal inspiration, God told Bundy, “This is your chance to straighten this thing up.” At least that’s what Bundy claims. He added that people rallied around him because they were “spiritually touched.” The “touched” might have been accurate. Bundy’s big concern at the gathering was that only about 100 people attended. He asked:

“Where is all of your college students? Where’s our young and where’s our old? Where’s our black and where’s our brown? Where are you people? Aren’t you interested in freedom and liberty?”

Although Mormon, Bundy is the perfect example of Tea Party believers. They claim that they want religion back into politics, but what they want is just their own religion represented throughout the country. Despite their claims that the movement is secular, it is religious, founded in spiritual revival and zealotry. Their devotional belief system mandates how people should live, how society should function, what is right and wrong, and who should—and shouldn’t—lead the country.

The basis of their system is a refusal to compromise. The Tea Partiers’ moral imperative is that they will shut down the government before bending on any legislation just as Samson pulled down the pillars of the temple. Their bellicose nature keeps them from reasonable disagreements about fiscal or foreign policies. Anyone who opposes their dogma in government, economics, race, and sex are infidels. Heretics are burned at the primaries.

The Antichrist of the Tea Party religion is the illegitimate Barack Obama must be opposed just like the lesser demons of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Tea Partiers blame them for any problems in the past six years. Washington, D.C. is the seat of corruption in the same way that Rome was before Christ. The solution for Tea Partiers is to undermine the government while pretending to repair it. To do this, Tea Partiers put forward the vision of Paradise from the white, male, Christian country after the Civil War with plantocracy in the South and plutocracy in the North. States rights put blacks in their place, and robber barons fought off the sinful labor laws, unions, and income tax. The cry of “take back America” means a return to the Gilded Age when immigrants, minorities, and women knew their subservient place to the ruling whites.

Without reading the U.S. Constitution, the Tea Partiers have proclaimed this document as its holy text and themselves as solely responsible for its interpretation. If literal readings serve their purpose, they follow the words exactly, cherry-picking text as they do in the Bible. An example is the omission of “a well regulated Militia” in the NRA’s printing of the Second Amendment at its headquarters and the rulings concerning the militia until the past 30 years.

A return to states’ rights got a big boost from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas when he stated that separation of church and state was never intended in the states. He claims that the only purpose of the Establishment Clause is to protect states from federal interference; it “does not protect any individual right.” His position goes back over 20 years to a SCOTUS case about whether states could have term limits on Congressional representatives. A 5-4 ruling determined that the state could not limit federal terms because the Constitution had no amendment allowing them to do this.

Thomas was on the losing side, and he wasn’t happy. “The ultimate source of the Constitution’s authority is the consent of the people of each individual state, not the consent of the undifferentiated people of the nation as a whole,” he wrote. If there was nothing in the constitution, then states had the power by default. That argument has failed for over 200 years, but Tea Partiers agree with Thomas. They cannot acknowledge that the constitution is an agreement among the citizens of the United States and not among 50 independent republics.

To increase acceptance of the U.S. Constitution among fundamentalist Christians, far-right political figures claim that the document comes from the Christian god. Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) explained the process: “Jesus destroyed Satan so that we could be free and that is manifested in what is called the Constitution of the United States. God created this nation and God created the Constitution; it is written on biblical principles.” DeLay gave Texas politics to the GOP by putting Republicans into the Texas House with corporate money so that gerrymandering could keep Democrats out of the legislature.

A big victory for Tea Partiers, at least temporarily, was the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the family that owns Hobby Lobby, and the family is not finished. After starting to push its Christian curriculum into public schools, the Greens plan a Bible museum two blocks south of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the home of history, science, and art museums. Steve Green explained why:

“This nation is in danger because of its ignorance of what God has taught. There are lessons from the past that we can learn from, the dangers of ignorance of this book. We need to know it. If we don’t know it, our future is going to be very scary.”

The text of the Tea Partiers’ Bible is actually opposed to all of them who want small government. According to 2 Peter, 2:10-15, false prophets are those who “despise government.” These government-haters are “wells without water” and “clouds that are carried with a tempest”; they are those “to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever.” Verse 17 provides disgusting descriptions that I won’t include. God’s judgment of these government-haters “lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (Verse 3).

To those who condemn LGBT people, the Bible states:

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” – Romans 2:1

About abortion, God commanded women accused of adultery to drink an abortion-producing potion. Under Jewish law, the fetus is the same as “water” during the first 40 days. Abortion is always commanded when the mother’s life is endangered at any time during the pregnancy. The God who handed down Jewish law is the God of Christianity.

The Bible supports charity, loving your enemies, putting down your weapons, not judging others, welcoming the foreigner at the gates, putting others before yourself, not lording yourself over others, and not despising the government.

June 18, 2014

Domestic Terrorists, a Bigger Problem than Foreign Ones

Almost 13 years, 19 al-Qaeda extremists killed 2,977 people in the U.S., a tragedy that allowed George W. Bush to start two “military actions” costing us over one trillion dollars. Reasons beginning with a search for non-existent weapons of mass destruction evolved to an excuse of bringing democracy to the world—preferably countries with oil. In the past 11 years, the U.S. has caused 6,717 military deaths, 650,000 or more Iraqi civilian deaths, and at least 320,000 brain injuries.

Shortly before Bush left the presidency, he signed an agreement that required U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq by December 31, 2011. President Obama complied with Bush’s agreement, but the Sunni insurgents that the U.S.-appointed Shia government replaced are returning.

So are the conservative war hawks in Congress. As violence in Iraq escalates and Sunnis take over parts of Iraq, the conservative rhetoric against the president and for another “military action” in Iraq ramps up. The chicken hawks in Congress are demanding that the U.S. military kill more Iraqis.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is outraged because we are losing all those non-existent “gains” that the U.S. made in Iraq. He was wrong when he said over ten years ago that winning would be easy and that Iraqis would greet the U.S. as liberators, and he’s wrong now when he said, “The fact is, we had the conflict won. The surge had succeeded. And then, the decision was made by the Obama administration to not have a residual force in Iraq.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tried to cover for his buddy when he injected greater fear in his warnings. “The people that are moving into Iraq … have as part of their agenda … to hit our homeland.” What Graham ignores is that “our homeland” is already under attack. The attackers, however, are not foreign terrorists; they are domestic terrorists.

The definition of terrorism is violence against innocent civilians to advance a political cause. People in the United States are far more likely to be killed by right-wing Americans than foreign terrorists. Since 9/11, right-wing extremists (aka terrorists) have killed people at the Jewish Community Center in Kansas City, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, a church in Kansas because a doctor performed abortions,  These acts were not simply one person deciding to murder another; the killers were tied to far right-wing groups.

In both the recent murders at the Jewish Community Center and the Boston Marathon bombing, three people were killed. One of these events produced hours and hours and hours of media attention, even on its anniversary; the other event received far less attention. A big difference is that the killer at the Jewish Center yelled “Heil Hitler” instead of “Allah Akbar.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) calculates that the United States has 939 far right-wing hate groups, including neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, and border vigilantes. This is 56 percent more than in 2000. SPLC stated:

“This surge has been fueled by anger and fear over the nation’s ailing economy, an influx of non-white immigrants, and the diminishing white majority, as symbolized by the election of the nation’s first African-American president…. The number of Patriot groups, including armed militias, skyrocketed following the election of President Obama in 2008 – rising 813 percent, from 149 groups in 2008 to an all-time high of 1,360 in 2012.”

The standoff at Cliven Bundy’s ranch because he didn’t want to pay his debts to the federal government is an indicator of domestic terrorism in the United States. Well-armed self-identified militia demanded that federal officials stand down and give up their guns. To prevent deaths, the federal officials complied. While conservatives refer to the people fighting the Iraqi government as insurgents, they use the term “patriots” to refer to the self-identified militia in Nevada and Utah. These armed “patriots” pointed weapons at federal officials, took armed control of local roads without challenge, and rode roughshod over federally-protected sacred Native American lands.

Five years ago, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a report about violent right-wing extremist groups that were recruiting military veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Conservative columnists expressed outrage, and DHS retracted the report. They stopped examining non-Islamic terrorist threats—anti-abortion extremists, white supremacists, “sovereign citizens,” eco-terrorists, etc.

The myths that gun carriers are good people and that killings can be stopped by gun carriers were erased less than two weeks ago when members of the militia on Bundy’s ranch walked into a Las Vegas Walmart and killed two cops before killing another man. There have been claims that the couple was asked to leave because one of them was a felon, but he was still part of the group holding off the federal officials.

While the killer was at the Bundy ranch, he spoke to reporters:

“I feel sorry for any federal agents that want to come in here and try to push us around or something like that. I really don’t want violence toward them, but if they’re going to come bring violence to us, well if that’s the language they want to speak, we’ll learn it.”

Before he fired on the police officers, he reportedly yelled, “This is the start of a revolution.” After the murders, the couple draped the bodies with the Revolution-era “don’t treat on me” flag.

A few days before the murders, the Department of Justice announced a law enforcement group to investigate domestic terrorism. The Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee was formed after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 but disbanded after 9/11. Attorney General Eric Holder said it was to “return our focus to potential extremists here at home,” specifically those motivated by “causes from anti-government animus to racial prejudice.”

Conservatives are again in a snit about the committee. Pat Dollard said it was waging war on white men. Alex Jones claimed that the president is going after his political enemies. Glenn Beck thinks that “this regime” is terrified about attempts to “re-establish our constitutional government.”

Another Bundy-follower and self-proclaimed “sovereign citizen,” 60-year-old  Brent Douglas Cole, shot a BLM ranger and a California Highway Patrol officer last Saturday at a campground in California’s Nevada County. According to SPLC, “Sovereigns believe that they–not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials–get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don’t think they should have to pay taxes.” Cole describes himself as “a statutory Attorney General of the United States.”

The “stand your ground” laws that allowed people to kill others and walk free has been superseded by an even more horrifying  NRA-promoted law in Indiana. In that state, anyone can kill police officers who might be overstepping authority. If a police officer trespasses on property, for example, that person can be shot and perhaps killed. The couple who killed the police officers in Las Vegas was from Indiana.

Graham is wrong about al-Qaeda hitting “our homeland.” People within the “homeland” are doing just fine at destroying it. Gun makers, gun sellers, gun show vendors, NRA execs and lobbyists, and open carry fanatics are terrifying members of Congress so that more people—including small children—will be killed and others will start to hide. The gunners succeeded in frightening people in Nevada and Utah, breaking laws with impunity and taking over governments.

The Pentagon has an ongoing series of studies to investigate large-scale civil unrest. The Minerva Research Initiative, started in 2008, is now studying only non-violent activists as part of a “social contagion.” A concern is that “problem-causers” in peaceful protests are “threatening the established balance of power and influence, and challenging law and order.” Part of the study also deals with how “to counteract grassroots movements.”

Instead of spending trillions of dollars to “fight terrorism abroad,” the country needs to fight homegrown terrorists who are taking over the United States. Instead of concentrating on non-violent activists, the Pentagon needs to look into domestic terrorists. We have a serious problem in “our homeland,” and it needs to be addressed.

May 3, 2014

Bundy’s Militia Takes Away Freedom, Liberty

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:39 PM
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Freedom and liberty—that’s what gun lovers who want to curl up with cold metal at night call unfettered gun ownership. These are the same people—mostly men—who want to leave their guns readily available for children to kill their siblings so that they feel safe from the imaginary intruders. The same ones who accidentally drop their guns in coffeehouses so that other people are accidentally injured. The same people who pull out their guns at any offense in someplace like a pizza place or outside a 7-11 so that they can shoot, and sometimes kill, anyone who they perceive as insulting them.

Recent events in Nevada show serious problems from uncontrolled gun ownership. After federal officials rounded up some of rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle on public property because he refused to pay his grazing fees for the past 20 years and lost at least two court cases in connection with his theft, the Wild West standoff continues. Bundy’s cry for help from self-appointed militia on the sympathetic Fox network brought over 1,000 heavily armed far-right extremists to his aid. The BLM agents backed off to avoid violence, and the gun-totin’ folk proudly claimed a victory. Yet they won’t leave.

Conservative media and political leaders also claimed victory—until the 68-year-old rancher opened his mouth. His opinions about black people extended to the claim that they were better off in picking cotton in slavery. Former supporters such as Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Ron Paul (R-KY), who had called Bundy a “patriot,” decided they had better fish to fry and let their spokespersons bail them out of the mess. Sean Hannity now avoids any mention of the man who was prominently featured on his program for several days.

Range Showdown

intimidating Bundy called for the militia, and the people living near Bunkerville are left with the mess. The militia set up checkpoints on public land and demanded IDs, requiring proof that people live in the area before they pass through. The armed militia members roam along highways and roads as well as churches and schools. Afraid of them, the people of the community have asked their U.S. representative, Steven Horsford, for help because they don’t feel safe.

In fighting among the different armed groups is also causing danger. The Oath Keepers, a radical right-wing group, reported being afraid of the Bundy security guard who said they’d shoot deserters in the back. At the same time, Oath Keeper member Mike Vanderboegh, also leader of the militia group Three Percenters, warned that the country is “staring a civil war in its bloody face.” As he held up a skull, he told a story about an Alabama woman who killed federal agents who supposedly murdered her family during the post-Reconstruction era and used their skulls as a soap dish. Vanderboegh then said that he would give the skull to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) as the “2014 Award for Incitement to Civil War” and added, “Don’t poke the wolverine with a sharp stick, Harry, unless you want your balls ripped off.” Reid had accurately called the militia “domestic terrorists.”

The small town of Mesquite, nearby, isn’t safe from the militia either. Hotels report that they have lost over $100,000 in business because of their presence, and the city police is investigating death threats to hotel staffers after a bomb threat. Militia callers told workers at the Holiday Inn Express that it wouldn’t be standing in the morning if the BLM rangers were allowed to stay in the hotel. One Mesquite hotel worker, afraid of being seen on camera, said he was told that he would be “dragged out in the parking lot and shot.”

The militia poured lighter fluid around news trucks after blocking reporters from access on public roads. Clark County Assistant Sheriff Joe Lombardo said that the law enforcement were afraid for their lives. Talking about facing the militia, Metro Sgt. Tom Jenkins said, “You are standing there going, ‘I just hope it doesn’t hurt when it comes. That it’s quick,’ and it was real for us.” He said that he thought he could die there.

On the day of the confrontation, Bundy ordered Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie to disarm every federal official and report back to Bundy in an hour.  The arms were to be put in his compound. He also ordered them to bulldoze down the entrance places “where they ticket us and where they—ah–entrance and make us citizens pay their fees.”

In a meeting with area leaders, Horsford said, “We are not a playground for armed militias.” As of last Tuesday, the militia stated that they don’t plan to leave the area. Militia group spokesman Ryan Payne denied that they were setting up checkpoints and that they wouldn’t “pull over civilians, without, you know, reasonable cause.” Militias have no legal rights to pull over anyone with any reason.

Because of the prevalence of the country’s gun culture, people can point a high-powered rifle at federal officers and get off scot-free. Sitting down at a peaceful Occupy protest, such as the one on the campus of UC Davis in California, results in the police spraying Mace in the peaceful protesters faces. The policeman who did this got $38,000 in compensation for “anxiety and depression.”

At least one of the government-hating militia members, Mike Vanderboegh, was receiving $1,300 each month in Social Security disability payments as of 2010. His health insurance came from his wife’s employment. The question is how many other members of the militia disturbing community life in southeast Nevada are also living on government “handouts.”

Great Britain has a much different approach toward gun ownership and lacks the violence shown in Nevada. The country controls the sale of firearms although it still allows people in the country to have shotgun licenses or .22 rifles for killing small animals. Since 1997, only police and military are allowed to carry automatic weapons, and most people like it that way. As Simon Crump wrote, “ There are plenty of other people around who can’t be trusted with a gun, and I want it to be as difficult as possible for them to buy guns. I would be uncomfortable if it were made easier to buy firearms.”

He continued:

“If the burglar knows I might have a gun, he’s more likely to have one, too. He’s also probably a lot more comfortable about pointing it at someone than I am. And for that, I would have to accept the responsibility of owning a gun and storing it safely where my children and visitors can’t get at it….  An argument put forward by the gun lobby is that criminals will always be able to source guns from somewhere, so strict gun control only serves to put us good guys at a disadvantage by preventing us from defending ourselves. The problem with this is that we do not live in a world solely made up of good guys and bad guys. Most of us are normal people who occasionally get drunk or angry and make mistakes, and when those mistakes involve guns, the consequences are much worse.”

Almost two years ago, Fox network and other conservative media raised an alarm because two men, calling themselves “The New Black Panthers” stood outside a voting area. They had no guns, and they didn’t approach or intimidate anyone: they just stood there. If over 1,000 black and Hispanic men with AR-15s and AK-47s paraded around land in Nevada and pointed guns at federal agents, conservative media would certainly have a different approach than they have with the current white militia. If a white militia member were shot by a federal agent, he would be described as a heroic martyr. A black militiaman shot would be retribution by the police saving the people.

What if Bundy’s “patriots” are part of a movement to take over a town, or city, or region? Right now Nevada looks like Ukraine without the masks. Unfettered gun control can create this situation across the entire country. We can thank the NRA and the gun industry for the loss of freedom and liberty across the United States.

April 16, 2014

Extremists Hope to Find Martyr in Cliven Bundy

Conservative constantly talk about deporting and even killing immigrants because “they’re breaking the law” They claim that following the law much be done at all costs. Other laws aren’t as important to them, however. A showdown this week in Nevada gives a very different impression of the law-abiding Tea Party members.

It started 20 years ago when the federal government asked rancher Cliven Bundy to stop grazing his cattle on federal land about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Farmers and ranchers must obtain permits and pay for each head of cattle that they put on federal lands. Bundy refused to pay his fees or remove his cattle. His permits were revoked, and he didn’t apply for any more.

Five years later, in 1998, the government issued a court order telling Bundy to remove his cows from the land and pay fees and a fine. The court order also included a charge of $200 per day for each head of cattle that stayed on the federal lands. Bundy did nothing.

Fifteen years later, in October 2013, the federal government went back to court because Bundy had not followed court orders.  The new order gave Bundy 45 days before the United States had the right to impound the cattle. By that time, Bundy had not followed the earlier court order, but he had extended the range of his grazing, trespassing on more federal lands. A court order gave the government the right to impound those cattle that Bundy refused to remove.

Bundy’s position is that “I don’t recognize [the] United States government as even existing.”  Government officials collected about 400 head of cattle before heavily armed extremist conservatives, including two Nevada affiliates of the Koch brothers Americans for Prosperity, gathered around Bundy’s ranch. They threatened to kill the government officials if they didn’t turn the cattle loose. U.S. officials backed off to maintain public safety and released the cattle, approximately half the number that Bundy was running on federal lands.

Extremists went away with the message that they can block the enforcement of U.S. laws and court orders by facing them down with a self-appointed armed “militia.”

There will undoubtedly be more to this story. Bundy and his extremist friends may think that they have won, but this was just a battle. The war is yet to come. Future battles, easily lost by Bundy, can include voiding his auctioning license and sales permits or lein his property. They can even pick off his cattle from a safe distance.

Another future for Bundy and some of his supporters could be jail, possibly followed by prison.

  • Contempt of Court: Bundy refused to follow court orders for almost two decades in “an act of disobedience or disrespect towards the judicial branch of the government, or an interference with its orderly process.” He also rallied supporters to put up armed resistance to keep the law from enforcing the orders. A judge could jail him until he complies with the court’s order.
  • Threats To Federal Officials: Anyone who “threatens to assault, kidnap, or murder, a United States official, a United States judge [or] a Federal law enforcement officer . . . with intent to impede, intimidate, or interfere with such official, judge, or law enforcement officer while engaged in the performance of official duties, or with intent to retaliate against such official, judge, or law enforcement officer on account of the performance of official duties” may be fined or imprisoned for up to 10 years.
  • Bringing Guns To Nevada: According to state law, people bringing weapons into the state, “knowing or having reason to know or intending that the same will be used unlawfully in furtherance of a civil disorder,” may be fined or imprisoned for up to five years. A civil disorder is defined as “any public disturbance involving acts of violence by assemblages of three or more persons, which causes an immediate danger of or results in damage or injury to the property or person of any other individual.” At least one militia member said he was at the ranch to provide “armed response” against “the tyrannical government.” Right-wing websites published this statement about the members’ decision to “mobilize to Nevada”:

 “All men are mortal, most pass simply because it is their time, a few however are blessed with the opportunity to choose their time in performance of duty.”

As Ken Cole wrote:

“The simple truth of the matter is that Bundy is a freeloading, welfare rancher who has an inflated sense of entitlement. It also appears that he and his supporters’ use of threats and intimidation likely violated several federal laws. Inasmuch as they used (such as pointed) weapons to cause the government back down, it can be considered an armed insurrection.”

The United States owns the property where Bundy grazes his cattle. Nevada was formed from parts of the Washoe, Utah, and New Mexico territories, land that the federal government gained from the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1849 through the “Mexican Cession” after the U.S. won the Mexican-American War. Private land ownership, allocated under mining and farming claims, was later expanded under the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909. Because the nation never sold the rest of the land, it maintains ownership in trust of the land as part of the commons.

Bundy claims that he owns the federal land because his family used is since the 1870s. Citizens gave up all claims to unappropriated federal land in the Nevada state constitution, dating back to 1864. He does not have the “right” to graze BLM lands. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 confers permits to graze a specific number of cattle on public lands but does not confer right to graze or right to own the land. The Supreme Court backed this up in its 1976 ruling of Public Lands Council v. Babbitt. About 16,000 farmers and ranchers use Taylor grazing land.

The conservative media not only fanned the flames but also threw gasoline on them. Fox network Sean Hannity hosted Bundy and said that his actions “keeps the price of meat down for every American consumer.” In 2013, Taylor Grazing cost ranchers $1.35 per unit per month, meaning that each head of cattle cost Bundy $16.20 per year—a vast increase from what he would have paid in 1993 when he stopped paying.

Glenn Beck complained that the people confiscating the cattle were armed, and National Review Online’s Kevin Williamson called the agents “inflammatory” and described their actions as a “siege.” American Thinker (now there’s a misnomer!) accused Attorney General Eric Holder of being racist by enforcing the law. Alex Jones wrote that the government wants to “enslave us in an [United Nations] Agenda 21 future where we have no property and no rights.” He also said, “So your bottom line, like Paul Revere, you’re making your stand, you’re telling folks we’re being overrun by an out of control tyranny.”

Bundy’s responses were equally rabble-rousing as he used his presence on Alex Jones’ show to urge supporters to “go in there with force” and to stop the agents’ proposed auction. He agreed with Jones’ answer that “[the force] could be how the shot heard round the world happens in this case” and warned that “this could turn into 1776 very quickly.”

To protect themselves, the militia planned to sacrifice the women. Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff, said that the protesters planned “to put all the women up at the front.” That way they would be shot first.

Jamelle Bouie brought up an interesting question.  Would the faux militia of the Tea Party defend a group of black farmers or rancher or anyone against federal officials? Would the Fox network approve of black militia aiming guns at white bureaucrats?

The conservative support may be fading. One Nevada conservative activist pointed out that Bundy failed to pay his grazing fees for 20 years while other ranchers pay their own share. GOP legislative leadership say they haven’t followed the case that much, a statement that usually means “we’re staying out of it.” GOP strategist Brad Todd thinks that the story “won’t override Obamacare,” and Republican strategist Kevin Madden agrees.

In the National Review, Charles C. W. Cooke calls Bundy’s actions “indefensible.” Powerline’s John Hinderaker tried to defend Bundy’s actions but admitted that “legally, Bundy doesn’t have a leg to stand on,” that Bundy’s claim that the federal government does not own the land is flagrantly incorrect, and that Bundy has been relegated to defending himself because “no lawyer could make that argument.” As Cooke said, Bundy only wanted to win with no consequences to himself. Cooke explains the triviality of Bundy’s goal:

“I would not stand idly by quoting John Adams if a state reintroduced slavery or herded a religious group into ovens or even indulged in wholesale gun confiscation. But Bundy’s case is not remotely approaching these thresholds. Are we to presume that if the government is destroying one’s livelihood or breaking one’s ties with the past, one can revolt? If so, one suspects that half the country would march on Washington, with scimitars drawn, and that West Virginia would invade the Environmental Protection Agency…. This is a republic, dammit — and those who hope to keep it cannot pick and choose the provisions with which they are willing to deign to comply.”

And that’s a response from a conservative!

Unhappy that the situation has been temporarily resolved, Sean Hannity tried to convince Bundy in last night’s interview that the federal agent may show up in a midnight raid and kill him and his children. Hannity’s actions were made even more inexcusable because of Bundy’s near incoherence. In his attempts to make Bundy into a martyr, Hannity may cause the deaths that federal agents tried so hard to avoid.

No one died on the Bundy ranch last night. We’ll just watch to see what the Fox network decides to do next.

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