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11.Feb.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Other voices on insurgency Permalink to this item

Nice feature on U of O Geography professor Peter Walker, who I've mentioned several times here, "one of the most interesting voices covering the strange events in Harney County." With an area of interest in land-use politics, and the most serendipitously timed sabbatical ever, this was right up his dusty desert road.

David Neiwert's analysis of the "martyrdom" of LaVoy Finicum and what it means for the future of the so-called Patriot movement is deep background on the hottest subject of the day. (The Washington Post ran a shorter version, with links to three additional angles from others at the end.)

And now for something completely different, Melvin (I think he said) from the "Patriotic Warriors" with an in your face 23 minute monologue to the dark sides, those who (a) went on the offensive (really stupid), and (b) did not show up for folderol (just sitting at your computers and stuff, shut up). The combination doesn't quite make sense, but I like his insistence that they're not anti-government and no more of that talk would be tolerated. Great. Let's work together then.

The most recent issue of High Country News had a feature about the other standoff between Bundyville and now, the Sugar Pine Mine, also in Oregon, the start of the OathKeepers (ever so coincidentally about the same time Obama was elected President) and what not. More useful background.

United States of America v. Cliven D. Bundy Permalink to this item

Meanwhile, back in Portland, we see the complaint against Cliven D. Bundy is for a lot more than just one count of conspiracy to impede. Six charges, I'm guessing all felonies, and including assault on a federal law enforcement officer and use and carry of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. He may not believe in the jurisdiction of the United States of America, but he's in our house just now, and the rest of us believe strongly enough, I think we can cover it.

We remember it well when BUNDY and his co-conspirators used deceit and deception to recruit others, flooding the internet with false and deceitful messages and statements and rallying Followers to Bundyville.

"The 200 Followers in the wash included a significant number brandishing or raising their assault rifles in front of the officers. Some of these gunmen took tactically superior positions on high ground, while others moved in and out of the crowd, masking their movements behind other unarmed Followers. The most immediate threat to the officers came from the bridges where gunmen took sniper positions behind concrete barriers, their assault rifles aimed at the officers below."

BUNDY and co-conspirators wanted a confrontation. Their wishes have come true.

Down to one Permalink to this item

One man, David Fry, stands against the United States, for reasons no one—least of all Fry himself—can explain. Something about "grievances." We can't explain it. But we have this strange invitation to listen in.

"I still don't feel safe comin' out."

And he doesn't want to go to jail. He doesn't want to "pay taxes to atrocity." "I don't care what no book or Bible says. I'm not a Christian." (He's a Messianic Jew, he says.)

"If you honestly cared about me, you'd be fixing these grievances."

He is suicidal. It's down to "liberty or death." He imagines his death will accomplish something, that this is about "saving this country."

Everything was a scam, he thinks. World War 2 on down. "You guys are stupid." Some galKrisAnne Hall trying to talk him out, calm him down.

"As long as no one attacks, and no one tries to come in here, nobody will get hurt. ... I'll kill myself before you guys fuckin take me."

Also, Fry insists "UFOs are real." There is cross-talk. "You guys should all be dependent on solar now instead of oil. ... I think our government needs to stop chemically mutating people."

There need to be fewer voices in the conversation. (And spectators are no help.) And whoever talks to him needs to be trained in handling someone in this state.

He needs protection. He needs to be tranquilized.

OPB reporter John Sepulvado (via Twitter):

"I keep thinking about the militants who threw David Fry out of the car when they were headed out because they didn't like him. if those guys would've been accepting, would've been welcoming, this conversation wouldn't be happening. The decisions we make."

Then, finally. He wanted everyone to say "hallelujah," and they did. And he came out and was taken into custody alive.

thank god thank god thank god. the occupation is over. none of the four are hurt.

— John Sepulvado (@JohnLGC) February 11, 2016

Someone left on the audio feed (KrisAnne?), verging on tears: "All these people out there. They have no idea what this was about." Well, it has to do with mental illness, that much seems certain.

"Hallelujah" they said and out David Fry walked and into handcuffs and a piece of Oregon history.

— Les Zaitz (@LesZaitz) February 11, 2016

May the circle be unbroken Permalink to this item

The Final Four at the Malheur made the top of the NYT news feed this morning, as FBI agents encircled their driveway campout in the Oregon desert. It seems increasingly obvious that any revolution will be televised, somehow. In this case, it was via a live phone feed streamed to YouTube (and now archived on it) for most of 5 hours. We tuned in for 5 or 10 minutes of it, during one of the less dynamic stretches, but while there were 60,000 or so folks listening in. The count this morning is almost 700,000 total, but not very many listeners will have sat through the whole thing.

"Before the phone call ended, the occupiers said they would turn themselves in to the F.B.I. on Thursday morning."

Cliven's mug shot

Also, there were lullabies, but I'm not guessing there were a lot of sweet dreams on either side of the siege. Here it is Thursday morning a-dawning, so we'll see. "Just as the call ended [last night], the authorities said that Cliven Bundy had been arrested late Wednesday," at the airport, on his way to see his boys in jail, and yeah, he was talking about going out to Burns, too.

It seems prosecutors like their chances with this felony conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties, and the statute of limitations has not yet run for the 2014 standoff that made the Bundy clan household names in the project for a new western American century.

As the O.J. Simpson story gets re-enacted for prime-time TV, this sort-of live drama unfolds, in a weird echo of a slow-motion car chase.

“It has never been the F.B.I.’s desire to engage these armed occupiers in any way other than through dialogue, and to that end, the F.B.I. has negotiated with patience and restraint in an effort to resolve the situation peacefully,” Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the F.B.I. in Oregon, said in a statement. “However, we reached a point where it became necessary to take action in a way that best ensured the safety of those on the refuge, the law enforcement officers who are on scene, and the people of Harney County who live and work in this area.”

It's not like the last holdouts were masterminds, or have any sort of plan. They just accidentally ended up there after the leaders were arrested and LaVoy Finicum shot for resisting and acting crazy while armed, and the strange faith community that had flocked to the bird sanctuary dropped everything and cleared out.

Now there's an opportunity for consultants to shine. Evangelist Franklin Graham can lead us all in prayers if Nevada Assemblywoman (and now candidate for Congress) Michele Fiore flags. For her part, according to Kirk Johnson's report, she

"transformed during the course of the live stream from an aspiring negotiator to something closer to a counselor, telling the panicked occupiers to remain calm, leading them in prayer and encouraging them to disarm."

"At another point, she encouraged them to invest in the political process, telling them, 'We need your voice on a committee.'"

Right after they finish serving their felony sentences.

10.Feb.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Too many pull quotes to choose from Permalink to this item

If only I'd been more patient, I might have worked the lastest National Circus with Frank Rich into the NH primary recapping. No way to summarize, however, or do it justice. You just have to enjoy it of a piece.

I will say that the headline got me whistling "Always Keep on the Bright Side of Life" for some reason.

Also, William Kristol's NH prediction that Rich cites was special: Rubio 25%, Cruz 22, Trump 19, Kasich 17.

"The only stock that is rising for Rubio is his status as a national laughingstock. It was particularly ill-advised of him to attack Joe Biden at one point in the debate: America knows Joe Biden, and Rubio is no Joe Biden. He’s the new Dan Quayle."

Dropping like flies Permalink to this item

Christie will suspend (his allies say), taking a deep breath, and there goes Carly, not so euphemistically in the headline ("Drops Out") and URL ("carly-fiorina-quits.html"). She used social media to spread the word.

“This campaign was always about citizenship — taking back our country from a political class that only serves the big, the powerful, the wealthy, and the well connected,” she said in a statement posted on Facebook. “I will continue to serve in order to restore citizen government to this great nation so that together we may fulfill our potential.”

I wonder if "serving" includes getting out and voting once in a while?

Meanwhile, Richard Viguerie, my favorite right-wing nutjob email guy, pictures himself chortling at his desk and sending his "quick takeaways" under the headline commanding America's Ruling Class to Read the New Hampshire Returns and Weep. It's too early for him to figure out how to spin this in favor of his guy, Ted Cruz, but he just wants to point the finger at who's to blame for the rise of Trump, our possibly future Napoleon: the GOP establishment.

"[C]ongratulations to the fathers of Trump’s victory – Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Reince Priebus."

I'm with Marc Johnson in thinking that the more salient model is the "Italian Stallion," Silvio Berlusconi.

"Trump, a misogynist, a sociopath, a certifiable sufferer of narcissistic personality disorder – look it up – is the guy that the Parliament of our historically closest ally, Great Britain, recently considered banning from that sensible country. The venerable House of Commons really didn’t have the power to “ban Trump,” as nice as the ring of that sounds, but not a single member defended the necktie hocking, Muslim bashing, completely policy devoid real estate speculator."

Oh, and that send-up of "The Art of the Deal"? It's for realio, 50 minutes' worth, streaming on Funny or Die. Ron Howard introduces...

Mining PROHIBITED Permalink to this item

One of those blasted "I'd like to join your network" messages came my way, and then the "still waiting for your response" drove me to LinkedIn, where I learned that ok, the gal did have a meaningful connection to me, even though I don't actually know her. Normally, I'd just say no, but it wasn't quite spam, and the person connecting us is a good, old friend, so I said OK.

Then LinkedIn wanted me to Import Contacts, a.k.a. MINE THE ADDRESSES OF EVERYONE I'VE EXCHANGED EMAIL WITH, which may well be how I received the request in question.

So, now, they figure since I'm stupid enough to accept that sort of connection, they should be able to drill down and find more twits like me to expand their network, right?

The answer is not just NO, it's HELL NO, NOT EVER.

I looked for a link to give them that feedback, and like most websites these days, they don't want my feedback, they just want to sell me a subscription, or at least collect my clickstream and sell it to their advertisers. "Send Feedback" goes to a blasted search/help interface. I searched for "I want to give feedback" and that said oh, just use the "Send Feedback" link on most pages.

That "answer" has a feedback affordance, ha ha. So here we go:

It's inaccurate

I don't need help, and I don't want to search. I want to give you feedback.


The landscape is shifty Permalink to this item

Now that we've finished the first and utterly unrepresentative caucus state, and the second and utterly unrepresentative primary state, what do we have? One win for an oleaginous sop to religious credulity, one win for "we hate the political system," a tie between the leading Democrats and (by The Week's politico-denominational reckoning), the first "non-Christian to win a presidential primary." Also, Jewish. Not that we have any religious test for holding office in this country or anything. Oh, also a Latino winner and a woman. And a Canadian. (Is it worth jumping to The Week? Maybe, maybe not. But the next item down the infinite stack has the Funny or Die trailer for Johnny Depp playing Donald Trump in The Art of the Deal: Movie. Just a minute's worth. (They didn't really make a whole movie, did they?)

We've got some good news, and some bad news. Donald Trump just proved that a Republican (or should we say a "Republican") can win without Fox News. He broke the smell! Er, spell. Or mold. Or something. He outpolled a slightly addled mess of "establishment" candidates and other "outsiders," more than two to the nearest one. Sure, the overall total in New Hampshire was (almost) two-to-one for "someone else," and it was an open primary, and a lot of these people waited until YESTERDAY to make up their minds, but still.

Also, who knew, Megyn Kelly and Bill O'Reilly are in a tiff (go Megyn!), and she has three children under seven at home! I'd definitely go with the gal in that matchup, with O'Reilly's only superpower being shouting louder than any guest.

Chris Christie's New Hampshire strategy fizzled, as both anti-Trump and anti-Obama voters had a reason to run away. Somehow nine credit downgrades for his state seem worse than four bankruptcies in Trump's businesses. (We celebrate the fact that Trump didn't personally suffer from leaving a lot of other people with his unpaid bills.) Is Christie done? Off to New Jersey for some fresh clothes, at least.

Magic 8 Ball

Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson could stand some wardrobe refresh too, but we hope Jim Gilmore continues to set the standard for how low you can go without going away. He garnered 129 votes. Not quite 0.05% (and not quite 3% as many as "Other" did). Still in the mix: second-place finisher John Kasich, and the three others who split the votes that could have united to dispatch the Trump: Cruz (11.7%), Bush (11.1%), Rubio (10.5%). If delegates matter, the NYT's view of the results show Trump collecting 10, Kasich 3, and 2 each for Cruz and Bush, those hundred million poured into Jeb!'s hopes finally paying off, about as well as your average lottery ticket.

Things we might take away from New Hampshire include that trust matters; people say experience matters; you can shoot yourself in the foot in a debate, duh; simple messages work better than any actually considered ideas about policy or the way forward. Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinham did not help.

Next up: the birthplace of the Civil War, and the home of legalized gambling, prostitution, and Shel Adelson. What could possibly go wrong?

9.Feb.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Nightmares in New Hampshire Permalink to this item

Everybody's trying to keep expectations low; it's easier for some of the candidates. We succumbed to debate fatigue a couple rounds ago, so it wasn't until the comedy-news lit into the most recent Republican debate that we saw the "robotic Rubio" thing. That's... incredible. The NY Mag headline with "Acting Like a Broken Robot" is not hyperbole, it's a precise description. What Ross Douthat tweeted: "I've watched Rubio for a long time, always thought that critique of him as a talking-points robot was way overblown. But oh dear."

Getting dizzy watching GOP elites try to spin that Rubio was good other than that one stumble, was good other than that one stumble, was goo

— Matt O'Brien (@ObsoleteDogma) February 7, 2016

Oh dear indeed. It was good news for Ben Carson and The Donald anyway, something to pull focus off the Keystone Kops non-entrance of Ben Carson, imagining his moment to shine was in the entrance aisle, followed by Trump piling up behind him, confused. It looked like SNL and all they were trying to do was get out on stage for a debate. To vie for Leader of the Free World.

Ted Cruz didn't make the comedy (that I saw), but there's that persistent non-likeability problem, the cheating in Iowa, and the fact that he has no chance for a surprise upset win in the Granite State. That has Conservative HQ's editor George Rasley's shorts in a twist about the establishment's whack-a-mole candidates with a strangely anonymous metaphor. You'd think he'd be happy to take ownership for the whacking, but instead the whacker is mysteriously unnamed. Not even a pronoun. The establishment candidates are eventually and passively whacked back down. Whodunnit?! Bush, Rubio, Christie, Kasich, whomever, CHQ doesn't care, and doesn't like 'em. They don't even like some of the "establishment" candidates who have already quit. (It won't help to deride poor Mike Huckabee any further, or to imagine he was part of the "establishment.")

Paul Krugman takes a few whacks at the time-loop party from the other end of the political spectrum, following the sixty-third House vote to repeal "Obamacare," on Groundhog Day, no less. Imagine Paul Ryan singing "I Got You Babe."

"Mr. Rubio’s inability to do anything besides repeat canned talking points was startling. Worse, it was funny, which means that it has gone viral. And it reinforced the narrative that he is nothing but an empty suit. But really, isn’t everyone in his party doing pretty much the same thing, if not so conspicuously? ... [Rubio] wasn’t the only person on that stage spouting canned talking points that are divorced from reality. They all were, even if the other candidates managed to avoid repeating themselves word for word."

8.Feb.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Circus coming to town Permalink to this item

David "IT guy" Fry managed to break through the communication blockade and get some more video of the "occupation" out. If it was pathetic enough before, it's scraping bottom now. Still got the "let me document my criminal behavior for your convenience" vibe, but now he's adding some seriously defiant attitude to boot. Almost like he's not afraid of going to reform school. But he's still camping out in the road, in the cold desert, with three other people who have no way around the people waiting to arrest them, and while there may be "joyrides" to be had in government vehicles, they can't drive out as far as the roadblock until they're ready for game over, or something more dramatic than a video selfie.

Even B.J. Soper and his Pacific Patriots Network got cold feet when they found out that Fry and the team had indictments to face. The march in/escort out turned out to be... a memorial service for slain "patriot" LaVoy Finicum instead.

The Bundy lawyers are under a cloud too, insisting "we do this work because we enjoy helping our clients work out disagreements and disputes with the government," for free. Not a lot of upside for defending a losing set of hands. Self-promotion? Would you hire a lawyer who would defend Ammon Bundy?

Also in the Oregonian: the Paiute have something to say to the Bundy gang: you're not the victim. "The Paiutes, too, had complaints about their treatment by federal land managers," with story says with award-winning understatement. Having someone from Nevada (or wherever the hell Ammon says he's from these days) show up and "occupy" things is comical at best.

And now Papa Cliven says he's coming to town?! To Burns to put on a show, and then to Portland, to see the boys. And he's bringing Nevada State Assemblywoman Michele Fiore along for the ride and to do some grandstanding. I'm guessing her "demand" for the Bundys' release will be every bit as effective as daddy's.

Public money for (students at) religious schools Permalink to this item

One of our citizen-legislators, Rep. Ron Nate of Rexburg, is a teacher at BYU-Idaho when he's not working here in Boise. It might go without saying, but in case it doesn't, "BYU" stands for Brigham Young University, which is as Mormon as Notre Dame is Catholic. He's come up with the bright idea of an end-run around Idaho's constitutional prohibition on public money going to sectarian schools, in the form of an amendment, described by House Joint Resolution 1. Our district 16 representative, John McCrostie writes:

"While this was presented as a way to make sure that students attending colleges like BYU-I or NNU [Northwest Nazarene University] on a state scholarship can continue to receive those scholarships, many of the people who are writing me asking me to support the bill come from private schools such as Ambrose School in Meridian and Grace Lutheran School in Pocatello who want to implement a school voucher system where private schools get public tax dollars. This would drain already weakened resources for our public schools, and it reeks of unconstitutionality."

Rep. McCrostie is encouraging messages to the members of the House State Affairs Committee, and I was happy to send one. I was also happy to assemble the addresses of the members, and to provide them bundled into a mailto link here, should you be interested in doing likewise. (I see Outlook likes semicolons better than commas; not quite syntactically correct in mailto, but here's a semicolon-sprinkled version.)

Here's what I sent to the members of the Idaho House State Affairs Committee this morning:

I oppose HJR1, and its attempt to insert a gigantic asterisk in Section 5, Article IX of our state's Constitution.

"SECTARIAN APPROPRIATIONS PROHIBITED" is clear, and the proposed addition is just as clearly contradictory.

We have seen the effect of expansion of the student loan industry in this country, and the expansion of for-profit education. These have created a mountain of debt, as benefits have inured to corporations more than to individuals in many cases.

Regardless of how well-intended having government and public corporations appropriate money for students of sectarian schools may be, the benefits will certainly accrue to sectarian institutions as much or more so than to students, and those public funds will inure to sectarian purposes.


The current predominance of, and affection for some particular sects notwithstanding, we should recognize the wisdom in the Constitution as it is, and LEAVE IT ALONE.

Thank you for your consideration.

6.Feb.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Don't lose those keys Permalink to this item

The feature story in last Sunday's NYT Business section was titled "When Locksmiths Pick Pockets" in print, and it was a sobering read for anyone considering depending on a smartphone and Google to find whatever you need in a jam. There is, almost certainly, a "locksmith" "near you." In my favorite search engine at the moment, top of the stack in the search by title words is an ad for $15 - Locksmith Near You, just like they said there'd be.

A lot further down the infinite scroll than anyone ever goes when actually looking for something, there was no sign of the article. Putting quotes around the title brings up a reprint site (and nothing else). Eventually, I tracked the article down on the NYT site, with its different online title, Fake Online Locksmiths May Be Out to Pick Your Pocket, Too, and its précis in the subtitle:

"Odds are good that when you search Google for someone to help you get into your home or car, results will include poorly trained subcontractors who will squeeze you for cash."

There's lots to learn about the state of the "search engine optimization" arms race, and one of the latest gold mines it leads to. Opting out is not an option:

"Google is still the essential source of revenue for local businesses — 85 percent of all local search traffic reaches local businesses through Google, according to Mike Blumenthal, who writes a definitive blog on the topic."

And the click-through that brings your business their way is not cheap: “locksmith”-related ads cost about $30 or so per click, depending on the area, the story tells us.

"(Yes, Google makes money every time a person clicks on an AdWords ad, and yes, in the case of locksmiths, the cost can be $30 for every click — even more in some cities. If you’ve ever wondered how Google gives away services and is still among the most profitable companies in the world, wonder no more. People clicking AdWords generated $60 billion last year.)"

Not sharing in that $60 billion take is the "little-known army of volunteers, called Mappers" who are playing along for free, proposing and approving edits to Google Maps, with some employee supervision.

“It was like a video game except it had a moral element to it,” [a laid off DHL driver] said. “At the end of the day, I’d have wiped out 1,000 locations and I would think, that’s 1,000 phone calls that didn’t get made, 1,000 consumers who didn’t get scammed. I felt like Superman.”

Screen-scraped ad

Google lives on a certain level of credibility and reliability, of course, but too much of it would throttle the golden egg-laying goose. They're collecting toll for legitimate ads as well as for the "lead gen" scammers. Taking a look for boise locksmith just now, I see Google seems to know where I live, and the maplet has three businesses on it, one that I know and have used, and that's been down on Fairview as long as I can remember. But the maplet is below three ads that look questionable at best. The top-placed ad looks like an illustration they could have used for the NYT story. "As low as $19.95."

Perhaps Yassi Assraf of Locksmith Advertising, in Portland, Oregon owns along with his 800+ other domain names? Nope, this one is owned by a fellow in San Clemente CA. And the ratings on are decidedly bimodal. Most are "couldn't be happier" 5 star reviews that look like easy work for touts, and a few are the one-star reviews telling stories just like we saw in the newspaper. From December:

"I was assured a $20 flat rate plus $15 'depending on the complexity of the job'. After the dispatcher took my address she told me that it would be right around 15 minutes. It took him over 40 to show up. Again took less than a minute to unlock my truck and said that will be $70... Will never use them again. Long story short if you decide to use them, don't trust any quote that they give you. Seems like they don't even know their own prices and just make it up."

They know their prices well enough. The price is "as much money as possible."

5.Feb.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Déjà vu Permalink to this item

Photo from our place

Email with subject Notification from Membership Alert looks like your run of the mill phishing, but not exactly, it's the undead Romney for President Inc. still has me on their list. But some of the groups feeding off the brains have noticed that (to put it as charitably as possible) my status is INACTIVE. "thomas," it addresses me, oddly familiar and wrong, simultaneously, "We'll be straight with you: our success in 2016 depends entirely on you."

"Without your grassroots support, Nancy Pelosi could very well be on her way to becoming Speaker once again.

"Do you want that to happen?"

Ah, I can think of worse things. They—it's the National Republican Congressional Committee on the line—say that "Nancy Pelosi already outraised us in 2015 by nearly $6 million" and are worried that "our hole could get even deeper."

Remember when we won an historic majority in the House last year?

Yes, and then what happened?

Or, to look on the bright side of things that happened that the NRCC doesn't take credit for when they're begging for donations, gasoline is selling for less than $2 a gallon, and unemployment just edged below 5%, low enough that wages are starting to rise.

Imagine the celebrations you would be hearing from Romney for President Inc.'s re-election campaign right now. Hell, if that historic majority in the House had DONE anything, they could celebrate the accomplishment instead of gnashing out another sarcastic "Thanks, Obama."

But then, who'd contribute to that fundraising pitch?

4.Feb.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A slightly better-dressed takeover idea Permalink to this item

A letter in the local paper reacting to Idaho Congressman Raúl Labrador's recent opinion on the Bundy gang's sedition (and Kevin Lewis' rebuttal) reminded me that I'd reacted to Labrador's initial tweet on this subject in a similar way, as if he had expressed support for the takeover and occupation. Such are the dangers of reacting to 140 or fewer characters on a topic. But the actual opinion posted in the Congressman's newsletter, was carefully crafted (no doubt with the help of former Statesman politics reporter and blogger Dan Popkey, now on Labrador's staff) to stop short of that. "The good news," it says, "is the country is now paying attention and I believe two of the most important initiatives I’ve worked on in Congress could right these wrongs."

"The first is shifting control of management of federal lands. I expect momentum to build for my bill to allow local officials to manage up to 2 percent of U.S. Forest Service lands as a pilot projects, as well as other reforms to restore public lands to health and productivity."

The second issue is reforming mandatory minimums, and not just for drug offenders.

I agree with the Congressman (and many of his colleagues) that the latter issue is ripe for action. Labrador's history of burning bridges and sabotaging legislation doesn't make me expect he'll play an important role in getting something done, but forbearance of his usual obstruction would at least be something.

As for motivating his pet pilot project concerning land management, this is more an illustration of confirmation bias than any sort of rational argument (let alone assessment). The lands of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge have their own particular history of habitation, exploitation, and management trial and error. The recently published Comprehensive Conservation Plan, arrived at after a long, and complicated process of collaborative inputs, is doubtless not perfect, and equally doubtless better than anything that Congress or some other politically motivated group of outsiders could impose.

Labrador's approach is to see if he can get the camel's nose into the tent with a scant "up to 2 percent of U.S. Forest Service lands" and to go from there is a more genteel takeover bid. That he thinks the Bundy gang's armed takeover of a wildlife regue should "build momentum" for his idea shows both how extreme his ideology is, and how disconnected his thinking is from reality.

Disturbances and quiet Permalink to this item

A bit of snow overnight, and low clouds, nothing breaking on day 34 of the Oregon standoff while we wait for indictments to be unsealed, which is apparently waiting for some of the 16 named defendants to be brought into custody. Maybe it's all of the Final Four still holed up at the Malheur refuge. Certainly at least one of them. Could make for some fitful sleep as consciences (and YouTube feeds) are reconsidered.


With nothing else to read, a look through the comments while they numbered only in the hundreds. Is there anything substantial to see there? Pro and con, trading various insults and conspiracy theories, dodgy links. One mention of "Crook County" made me think it was some sort of anti-law enforcement snark, but no, there is a Crook County, Oregon, smack dab in the middle, named after General George Crook (1830-1890), "most noted for his distinguished service during the American Civil War and the Indian Wars." He rocked a seriously cool two-pointed beard, among other things. And, as Wikipedia has it in old-timey terms, he "successfully campaigned against the Snake Indians in the 1864-68 Snake War," and "won nationwide recognition." Also, local recognition, for helping clear the Paiute out of the eastern edge of Steens Mountain, with the clever tactic of attacking in winter. The Redmond News Today is out of neighoring Deschutes Co., and this report of the sheriff lowering the verbal boom is apparently straight news.

Sign of the times that one can go find that open letter on Facebook more immediately than on the sheriff's office website, and reading it is time better spent than reading the local news interpretation of it. Sheriff John Gautney writes in the first person, and well, starting with his history of service and oaths taken, and his personal reaction to recent events in Oregon, including the reminder that "the law enforcement officer is also a victim in this incident."

"Having all this in mind, I have to urge our citizens to refrain from being caught up in these types of events that are detrimental to OUR community. The groups that are posting hate and promoting violence on social media are doing so in hopes of keeping YOUR community in chaos and disrupting YOUR daily peace and safety. ... Over the weekend, someone went to the home of a local law enforcement official in an attempt to intimidate his family over events that are currently happening in Harney County. This was a despicable act by a cowardly person who came in the night.

"As Sheriff of Crook County, Oregon, I want it to be perfectly clear that YOUR Sheriff's Office will stand as a representative of the people. However, I also want to make it perfectly clear that I will NOT stand for anyone using intimidation toward ANY member of this community! We all have the right to voice our differences and each person has the right to think for themselves. I represent the peaceful people of this community and we won't tolerate any violent or intimidating atactics in OUR community. Our Citizens can form their own opinions without outsider help and influence."

Update: @JJMacNab uploaded a copy of the Malheur Refuge takeover indictment, still showing "UNDER SEAL", but anticlimactic. The one count of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States, and yes, with the Final Four now added to the list of Defendants. MacNab notes that the last holdouts are "effectively in custody." We expect more... vandalism, at least, gun charges for some of the defendants who are felons, theft, unauthorized use of computers, violation of Antiquities, and on and on.

(And what a great surname for someone who writes about Sovereign Citizens, tax protesters, U.S. paramilitary "militia" groups and their ilk. Her book The Seditionists is due out in June, from St. Martins Press.)

Update #2: Having just finished Nancy Langston's book, Jeanette recognized George Crook's name, and prompted me to look for a certain memorable phrase which I did not find. But the Burn Paiute Tribe has a succinct paragraph of memory at the top of their page regarding Treaties and Reservations Created. The FBI is being more gentle with the Final Four than Crook and his men were to the Paiute.

"For the next two years, he carried out a devastating and relentless campaign. He broke their usual circular migration pattern and harassed and killed them during the winter, their usual season of rest. By spring of 1868, the Indians had suffered a terrible winter, losing half their total population to starvation, freezing and fighting."

At that point an offer of "Peace or Death" was one they couldn't refuse.

3.Feb.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Don't fence me in Permalink to this item

Ralph Maughan's piece in the Idaho State Journal politics blog nicely summarizes America’s (and TR's) best idea: public land. Regarding the nearly 600 wildlife refuges and the 82 million acres they include, Maughan writes:

"The refuges were created from the public domain, but also from private lands that were purchased by the U.S. Government, donated, or given to the federal government by local governments because of private abandonment (mostly during the Great Depression). Most of the land purchases have come from the Duck Stamp revenues, an 11 percent tax on firearms and ammunition and a tax on sport fishing gear, motorboat fuel and related items. Did Ammon Bundy even know that most of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was purchased with money from shooters, hunters, and anglers? Facts like these are why we all need to learn more about our public lands.

"Sixty-two percent of Idaho remains U.S. public land. Unlike back East, down South, or the Plains states, we don’t have to beg big landowners if we want to explore the land, to ride, fish, hunt, hike, camp or climb. A growing number of power brokers just hate that average folks still have this kind of freedom. Bundy and the Koch Brothers have their heads screwed on backwards and guns pointed in the wrong direction."

The screwed on backwards bunch includes more than few of the cowboy hat-wearing attendees to the recent "Western rangelands property rights workshop" in Boise, put on by the Utah-based National Federal Lands Conference. "Give us free stuff" was the theme.

2001 photo

Idaho's Rep. Heather Scott was in attendance, naturally, just a little bonus on her per diem for working down south here in DixieBoise. Conference-goers shared their cock-eyed legal theories of the Consitution and beneficial ownership. "Dr." Angus McIntosh (it's a Ph.D. in Range Science, don't you know, earned while in and out of 16 years working for the USDA and NRCS as a Rangeland Management Specialist) advanced his theory that "according to U.S. law, once someone has 'improved' public land by building on- or irrigating it, it no longer belongs to the federal government. He said it's not a crime for people to cut timber or stone on federal land as long as those activities are in the interest of productive land use."

This is about the same "legal theory" that former Idaho Rep. Phil Hart used to justify stealing state timber to build a house, and see how well that (and pretending not to owe federal taxes) turned out.

The "beneficial use" trope was also featured in Betsy Gaines Quammen's NYT op-ed, The War for the West Rages On, in Cliven Bundy's theory of why stealing resources makes them his, according to his God and Cleon Skousen's annotated Constitution. Never mind the complications of collaboration between environmentalists, ranchers, governments and conservationists. Just take it, and it's yours. Just like the good old days.

Humoring the PPN Permalink to this item

What you need to know for standoff day 33 includes a link to the story about Billy Graham's son Franklin joining talks to end the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, but mum's the word on what he had to say to anyone. No doubt prayers were involved. And the end of that report there was a dry note that Harney County Judge (and Commissioner) Steve Grasty issued a statement in response to the Pacific Patriots Network call for all the feds to go home and all the Harney County officials to resign. Since it was "unclear from whom the response is requested and to whom the response should be provided," it's a press release, more carefully crafted than the PPN's "Letter of Intent" warranted.

It does serve to tell all the particulars of who's investigating the incident that led to LaVoy Finicum's death next to highway 395, with the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office in the lead.

The Oregonian has started a collection of links to the legal documents in re USA v. the Bundy gang. The newest addition is Ammon Bundy's withdrawal of his motion to revoke pretrial detention, with leave to renew after he gathers "further evidence of his statements and actions encouraging a peaceful protest and civil disobedience."

Suspended Permalink to this item

Belt and braces. Kicked out of school. Cryogenic preservation. A thriller. Or... "done," as in Rand Paul, exiting the race for the presidency, even after he collected one whole Iowa delegate. That's more than most of the field, and sure his prospects were bleak (from the get-go), but that hasn't stopped Skip Andrews, George Bailey, Michael Bickelmeyer, Kerry Bowers, Eric Cavanagh, Dale Christensen, Brooks Cullsion, John Dummett, Jr., Jack Fellure, Jim Hayden, Chris Hill, Valma Kittington, Andy Martin, Peter Messina, James C. Mitchell, Jr., K. Ross Newland, Esteban Oliverez, Brian Russell, or Jefferson Sherman from hanging in there. To say nothing of slightly more familiar candidates Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Chris Christie and Jeb! They like their prospects, somewhere.

But Mark Everson, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, and now Rand Paul have conceded that this is not their year.

The curious list of people you never heard of was from, high in search results for "GOP contenders 2016" but sketchy enough that I'm not writing a hyperlink. Wikipedia's catalog isn't quite as rich, but still varied, with long lists of "previous" and "declined" potential candidates. It's not their year, either.

The disparate lists do overlap in "perennial candidates" Jack Fellure (the Prohibition Party nominee in 2012) and Andy Martin ("Birther activist" and "vexatious litigant"), and footnote-worthy Peter Messina (on Idaho's ballot!). Tim Cook and Walter Iwachiw are on Wikipedia's list but not's.

There must be some sort of official list, right? You could check with the Federal Election Commission, but their barrier to entry is a low bar, and I see that "DAT PHAT A$$" is first among 276 Republican filers (alphabetically, by virtue of surname A$$). Filtering by total receipts more than zero narrows the field to 34, and the form and table provide for further filtering and sorting. If you follow the money, of course, the field as seen on the news takes shape.

I did notice that in addition to "Total Receipts" and "Disbursements" in the web table, the downloadable csv has columns labeled "net_con" and "net_ope_exp" with larger numbers. Net contributions and operating expenses? Going back further than Jan. 1, 2015? (The really big money is in the SuperPACs, which we don't get to see in this kind of detail, which is why that's where the big money goes.) FEC Form 3 line 6 is broken out to total contributions other than loans, total contribution refunds, and net contributions (other than loans), with columns for this period, and cycle-to-date.

Contributions are to be listed as from individuals, political party committees, other political committees "such as PACs," and the candidate. Other authorized committees can transfer money in (I guess), and loans can be made or guaranteed by the candidate, or "other." I guess when it comes down to a nominee, all the suspended campaigns can forward any cash they have left to the winner? But maybe there's never much left after the confetti is swept up and the custodians paid.

If you figure a couple $million in the "net_con" is the threshold for "serious," you leave George Pataki, former IRS Commissioner Mark Everson, and Jim Gilmore behind and are down to a more familiar field of 15, with Rick Santorum (curiously not yet suspended) bringing up the rear, behind already-suspended Jindal, Perry, Graham, Huckabee.

The "debts owed by the committee" shows $12,620,297 for Donald Trump's campaign. I suppose it'll declare bankruptcy sometime soon? Scott Walker qualifies for "biggest disappointment," money raised and dissipated to no effect. Carly Fiorina will surpass him when she quits though, and then Jeb!

Sleepy BENJAMIN S SR MD CARSON is top of the Receipts ($54M), Disbursements ($47.5M), Net_con ($97.7M) and Net_ope_exp ($73.5M), as of the end of 2015, go figure. Where in the world is all that money going? Carson, Cruz, Rubio, Jeb! and Trump are the big money boys by receipts and cash on hand. Fiorina's got more dry powder than Kasich and Christie put together, all still suspending their disbelief.

Groundhog Day Permanent URL to this day's entry

Take five Permalink to this item

More takes out of the Iowa results include Marc Johnson's five observations. Message, organization, ideas, and substance over muddle, rally, ideology and showbiz; we can hope!

Frank Rich: "The real question about Trump is whether he will deflate like a big fat balloon now that he has been pinpricked by actual vote totals that don’t match the poll numbers he is fond of wearing like a sable coat. He will never rebound from Iowa if he starts to act like a sore loser — a real, and potentially quite entertaining, possibility."

Russell Berman reports in The Atlantic that coin flips were involved, and Clinton won 6 out of 7 of them to some fractional advantage, and from there to 50% of the delegates up for grabs, 23 to Sanders' 21 (and 2 "uncommitted"), in spite of a 49.9/49.6% split. Three tenths of one percent of 46 delegates is... a seventh of a delegate. The NYT notes that the AP inflates county numbers by 100, "as state delegate equivalent numbers for some candidates are often very small fractions," before 1400-ish state delegates turn into 46 national ones. I don't know what any of those numbers mean. It was a tie. And if Berman's right that "Iowa’s importance as the first-in-the-nation voting state has never been about delegates. It’s about perception and momentum," tie goes to the underdog. Hillary is feeling the #Bern, and trying to put her best face on the "win."

In the Twitter analysis, it's not just what you say (or don't say), but how long it takes you to get around to saying it. Trump went silent for 15 hours and 29 seconds ("his 24th longest gap since he announced in June that he was running for president") before popping up like Punxsutawney Phil to say how much he enjoyed seeing his shadow creeping up behind him. Don't say "looser," say "strong second." Seems like New Hampshire might render him a "weak third," but who knows?

One thing we do know is that the GOP "is a very angry, very conservative party" by Iowa's measure, as Rich put it, with more than 2:1 in favor of somebody with zero political experience to anyone with the stink of "establishment" on him. (Ted Cruz is a U.S. Senator, but he's never done anything in the Senate besides reading Dr. Seuss, and nobody seems to like him. Definitely "outsider" material.)

The Harney County invasion continues Permalink to this item

Peter Walker photo

More fascinating photos and captions first-person coverage from Peter Walker on Facebook of yesterday's "face-off in front of the County Courthouse." His take is that the handmade sign saying HOW MANY TIMES DO WE HAVE TO SAY GO HOME speaks for "virtually all local people" he saw. "They want their county back from the militia."

Thieving Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, father of two of the Malheur jailbirds, never short of presumption, officially joined the sedition by issuing a (notarized!) proclamation that

“We the People of Harney County [sic] and also We the People of the citizens [sic] of the United States DO GIVE NOTICE THAT WE [sic] WILL RETAIN POSSESSION OF THE HARNEY COUNTY RESOURCE CENTER [sic]. (Malhaur [sic] National Wildlife Refuge).”

Still from YouTube

and sent it by certified mail to the Sheriff, Governor, and President, which is bound to make a big splash upon arrival in Burns, Salem and D.C. He gets Oregon right, but Harney comes out "horney" and Malheur sounds like "Malry," which of course he don't care, cause he and the boys renamed it anyway.

The Oregonian covered the big day in town, estimating that turnout at 500, which is a about a quarter of the (nominal) population of Burns. The road warriors from the so-called "Idaho 3%" claimed to have a petition signed by 200 locals, calling for the resignation of the Sheriff and the County Commissioners, in favor of... yeah, maybe that didn't think it all the way through to the end, whatever.

The capsule summary of the three hour (!) interview of David "IT guy" Fry yesterday is bathetic. Turns out the Final Four just sort of happened. They forgot to leave, so there they are, praying for a miracle, hanging out in the desert with the overnight temperature in the single digits.

The blind man and the elephant Permalink to this item

Richard Viguerie's self-billing, and book title are about TAKEOVER, The 100-Year War for the Soul of the GOP and How Conservatives Can Finally Win It, which is slightly more alluring than being the king of direct mail. (His list of "new and alternative media" puts his own favorite, direct mail, first in the list that includes talk radio, cable TV, and the internet.)

Viguerie is running a victory lap today, given that his man won ("Cruz Crushes Trump and Rubio in Iowa"), and sent out a press release with his "takeaways from the Iowa Caucus." He might be smarter than me about this stuff, and what seems like a great example of confirmation bias in a bullet list might actually be an accurate assessment, who knows? His concluding point is that

"To the surprise and disappointment of the establishment media, the conservative movement is alive and well. It is united, working and voting, which points to a movement conservative governing America in 2017."

Hell, I think the establishment media just likes a compelling story, and the Republican contest has that can't-look-away quality of a multicar crash on the freeway.

Viguerie says the primaries will drive the Republicans to the right, and Democrats to the left, which is the way he likes it, for some reason. Clearer battle lines, more battles, yay.

The most interesting thing about the Iowa results to me is how close they came to an exact three-way split between Cruz, Trump and Rubio. 26, 23, 23% (according to the BBC—"YMMV"; Viguerie quoted "final tally" numbers from "CNN and other media outlets," so he still needs them for something). Carson came in fourth, Paul and Bush got something, and Christie, Fiorina, Gilmore, Huckabee, Kasich and Santorum got nothing. The delegate counts may or may not be what matter, but that's what the caucus is designed to apportion. Those came out 8,7,7,3,1,1, amplifying the percentage differences in caucus-goers' preference. That's 30%, 26%, 26%, 11% and two at 4%.

The good news, at least, is that we all now know that Donald Trump is a loser.

The Beeb's coverage includes a roundup of editorials from US media and links to "More on Senator Ted Cruz" for those in its audience who are wondering what the hell is going on in the former colonies. The Three Things They Say series boils down stump speeches to their essential dregs. Cruz says "let's get back to freedom, let's get bring America back." And he says "I will go to Congress," where, ahem, he's actually being paid to work now, but hasn't done jack diddly. He says "people are wakin' up." And he likes to say "radical Islamic terrorism" a lot.

My chart of NYT reported numbers

Update: The New York Times' reporting of the Iowa results has the Republican vote counts out of the 186,874 Iowans who speak for all of the country, somehow, the couldn't-be-closer-to-a-tie Democratic caucus results, infographics by county sliced by population density, income, evangelicity, and by which of the two leaders voters favored in 2012. Fascinating stuff.

If you're worried about the prospect of President Cruz (and who wouldn't be?), take some comfort in the fact that Rick Santorum won Iowa in 2012. Santorum brought home 11th place this time, a solid 1.0%. Bringing up the rear, Jim Gilmore was outpolled 10:1 by "Other."


Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007