fresh voices from the front lines of change







Give the feds credit. Playing the long game in the Oregon standoff worked. Not only did they bring in the last of the wannabe “militiamen” without giving them what they wanted, federal agents also nabbed the grandfather of them all.

They were going to be hailed as patriots. They were going to fire the next “shot heard ’round the world,” rally people to their cause, and spark a second “American Revolution.” They might even get to be martyrs, if they could figure out how to get federal agents to shoot at them. People would speak their names with reverence, and in the same breath with Ruby Ridge and Waco.

Instead, the people on whose behalf they claimed to be taking a stand wanted nothing to do with them. People in their own movement began to see them as a liability. Instead of the support and adoration of millions, they got a box of dildos and a heap of scorn.

Things began to unravel two weeks ago for the militants holed up at Oregon’s Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge. That’s when federal agents arrested the groups leaders in a traffic stop, as they made their way to a meeting to planned armed takeovers of federal land in Utah and a neighboring Oregon county. The feds apparently waited until the group felt so comfortable coming and going from the refuge that they got careless.

The feds managed the takedown with minimal loss of life. One militant, LaVoy Finicum, was shot and killed after he rushed at police officers while reaching for his waistband, where he always carried a Colt .45.

Following the arrests, several of the militants fled the refuge, leaving just four stragglers behind: Sean and Sandy Anderson of Riggins, Idaho, Jeff Banta of Elko, Nevada and David Fry, of Ohio. Though they were indicted along with the 12 others previously arrested on charges of conspiring to impede federal officers, the four stayed put for two more weeks, dubbing themselves “Camp Finicum” and posting videos online.


Last week, jailed leader Ammon Bundy told the FBI to “go home,” and accused government agents of “acts of force,” and warned, “it appears that they intend to do it again.”

But that’s not what went down.

I was one of those people who wondered why the government didn’t take Cliven Bundy in back in 2014. It was frustrating to watch Bundy and his supporters get away with pointing guns at law enforcement officers, threatening to kill them, and getting away with it, while a parade of unarmed black men were killed for a whole lot less. Now I understand the feds were in it for the long game.

The thing about people like the Bundys is that they’re so confident that their cowboy swagger is the real thing, and they’re so out of touch with reality that they don’t realize when they’re walking in to a trap. That’s why Cliven Bundy is now occupying an Oregon jail cell.


Federal agents nabbed papa Bundy at the Portland airport, after he flew in to take control of the occupation at the Malhuer refuge after posting on Facebook that he was headed to Oregon to join the militants. The elder Bundy was arrested on federal charges related to the April 2014 standoff at his Nevada Ranch. After his sons and others were arrested, Bundy urged the remaining stragglers to stay put and await Armageddon. Bundy was so sure that he could waltz right into Oregon, he likely never saw the feds coming.


Cliven Bundy’s mugshot.

At 10:54 p.m. on Wednesday Cliven Bundy was booked into the Multnomah County jail on charges of conspiring to interfere with a federal officer, and posed for his long overdue mugshot. One wonders if his bluster a bravado failed him when he realized he’d never make it to baggage claim.

Meanwhile, as Bundy went to join his boys, the FBI tightened its grip around the remaining four holdouts after one of the militants went for an ATV ride, and sped back to the camp after encountering an FBI checkpoint.

In a bizarre twist, Nevada Republican Assemblywoman Michele Fiore stepped in as a negotiator on behalf of the militants. Fiore, Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) top supporter in Nevada, made news last year for her holiday card featuring her entire family strapped with firearms. More recently, Fiore claimed that cancer is “a fungus” that can be “flushed out” with “salt water” or “sodium carbonate.”

Fiore landed at the Portland airport on Wednesday night, as part of a trip to show support for the militants. She was patched into the phone call between the FBI and the holdouts. Fiore, a well-known supporter of Cliven Bundy’s family, stayed on the phone with the four holdouts during intense, dramatic negotiations as she drove from Portland.


For hours, they prayed, argued, and complained about government overreach, Common Core, the estate tax, and gun control laws they imagined had been implemented by President Barack Obama. They refused to accept any terms that involved arrest. At one point, Sandy Anderson screamed, “Just kill us and get it over with.”

That didn’t happen. Instead, they agreed to surrender on Thursday morning. At 9:30am Sean Anderson, Sandy Anderson, and Jeff Banta walked out with their hands up, calling out that they were unarmed, and surrendered themselves.

David Fry hung back, lit a cigarette, shouted something at Fiore and went back into his tent. You remember David Fry. He’s the anti-gay, Hitler-loving, ISIS-supporting IT specialist who hates the government, uses federal computers, and wants Barack Obama “hung for treason.”


Agitated and still deluded that he had any leverage with which to negotiate, Fry refused to come out of his tent until he grievances were heard. After an hour of demanding that his tax dollars not be used for abortions (something the Hyde amendment has banned for the last 40 years) or drone strikes in Pakistan, complaining about not being able to get medical marijuana in his home state, and accusing the government of concealing UFO’s and “chemically castrating everybody,” Fry gave himself up without a fight.


And with that, the last of the militants that occupied the Malhuer refuge for 40 days are gone. Now, they’re occupying jail cells.


From top right: Sandy Anderson, Sean Anderson, Jeff Banta, and David Fry.

It will be some time before things get back to normal. The wildlife refuge will remain closed for several weeks. Once in custody, the Bundy gang told the feds that they left behind booby traps. So authorities will have to thoroughly sweep the place before park employees can get back to work undoing the rest of the damage.


Beyoncé Derangement Syndrome

It was to be expected. Beyoncé’s performance at the Super Bowl and the release of her new single “Formation” both put Black Lives Matter center stage. It was sure to make conservatives howl. And howl they did.


GOP Debate Train Wreck

The introductions of the candidates at the Republican presidential debate New Hampshire, hosted by ABC News, was almost literally a train wreck. New Jersey governor Chris Christie made his cue, and then the trouble started. When his name was called, Ben Carson appeared to sleepwalk into the wings, and just stayed there, smiling at the camera.


For a moment, if looked like Carson woke up and was about to take to the stage, when Sen. Ted Cruz was announced. Carson froze as Cruz bounded past him. A stage hand tried to wave an uncomprehending Carson onto the stage, but gave up.

As if it couldn’t get worse, Donald Trump wandered out way ahead of his cue, forcing Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to dash around him, as Trump parked himself next to Carson. Then former Florida governor Jeb Bush appears, sees Trump and Carson stuck in “Park,” and gives the camera a “WTF?” look as he walks out for his cue.

When the camera cuts to the stage, and the announcer says, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Republican candidates!”, there are still three empty podiums. Carson and Trump finally make their entrances. Then the announcers finally remember poor Ohio governor John Kasich.

It wasn’t a Saturday Night Live skit. Until it became one.


Here’s the rest of the best in wingnuttia this week:

NRA board member and right-wing rocker Ted Cruz posted an anti-Semitic graphic on his Facebook page, claiming a Jewish conspiracy to enact gun control regulation. Nugent followed up with a post saying that Jews killed by Nazis in World War II were “soulless sheep to the slaughter.”
Nugent then defended his anti-Semitic Facebook rant by calling Jewish leaders “Nazis.”
● It was too much. Even far right gun groups condemned Nugent for his post. They missed the 10 other times Nugent went off the deep end.
Whoops! Ted Cruz’s campaign had to pull a television spot after viewers recognized soft porn actress Amy Lindsay playing a Republican voter.
Heidi Cruz said her husband, presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, will “show this country the face of the God that we serve.”
Mississippi Republican state Rep. Mark Forby presented a bill to allow creationism and climate denialism to be taught in schools.
Fox Business host Stuart Varney praised Georgia’s Republican lawmakers for bringing the state “back to the era of sanity,” with a plan to legalize school-sanctioned prayer.
Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones compared Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to Adolf Hitler, and said Sanders’ supporters need to have their “jaws broken.”
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) brought vaping to Capitol Hill, when he lit up during a debate on banning the use of electronic cigarettes on planes. It didn’t work. The ban passed the committee, and Hunter’s point was vaporized.
Radio host Bryan Fischer told listeners that a “vapor canopy that surrounded the earth” allowed Methuselah to live for hundreds of years.
Fisher also said that he’d like to make every member of Congress take and pass a history test administered by right-wing fake historian David Barton.
Radio host Michael Savage claimed that Bernie Sanders will finish the Communist takeover of American that President Obama started, and kill Americans — starting with the wealthy.
● Like father, like son. “Poor little rich boy” Donald Trump, Jr., moaned to Buzzfeed that as the child of a billionaire, everything he says is automatically discounted. “Now, listen, in this country, I’m the son of a billionaire,” Junior said. “I can’t even have an opinion anymore. I could be Albert Einstein and they would discredit me as a horrible scientist. It doesn’t matter.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) moaned that we got Bernie Sanders “because we let some hippies from the 60s who created such chaos then” become teachers.
● Republicans in Utah finally found a tax they like. A committee of all male lawmakers voted to keep the sales tax on tampons and other feminine hygiene products, despite an international push to remove the tax.
Pat Robertson told “700 Club” viewers that women who want to serve in combat roles are “masochistic” deviants acting out “Fifty Shades of Grey” fantasies.
Next, Robertson turned to Bernie Sanders campaign, and said that Sanders’ young supporters are “the kids who want to do a panty raid in the fraternity.”
Robertson also claimed that President Obama is destroying America, bringing is close to the End Times.
Former Rep. Michele Bachmann told faux historian David Barton that progressive taxation causes Americans to violate the Ten Commandments.


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